These aren't necessarily the best of Cohen's output, but in our book, they're the most interesting. Wherever possible, we'll let the filmmakers address the films in their own words.

10. Black Zoo
Cohen's first film upon returning from England features a terrific cast -- Michael Gough (the British Whit Bissell?), Jerome Cowan, Elisha Cook Jr., Virginia Grey -- but more excitement took place offscreen than on. "One of our lions escaped during the shooting of the picture," Cohen recalled, "and we had front page headlines in all the papers! Everybody said I must have done it as a publicity stunt, but it actually happened. A full-grown American mountain lion named Chico, three hundred pounds, broke loose and dashed out through a door."

9. Konga
"For a cheap picture, those miniature sets that we built were pretty good," said Cohen. "I worked my ass off. In fact, I don't think I ever worked harder on a picture than I did on Konga." The derivative plot has mad doc Michael Gough (definitely the British Whit Bissell!) turning a monkey from chimp-size to blimp-size. Comparisons to King Kong did not find Herman unprepared. "[This] was what I wanted!" he said. "We paid RKO so that we could use in our ads the line, 'Not since King Kong ... has the screen thundered to so much mighty excitement!' I paid RKO because I didn't want them to think we were stealing it. We paid 'em $25,000 so there would not be any lawsuit."

8. Bride of the Gorilla
Cohen's first producer credit, this werewolf tale transplanted to the South American jungle was directed and written by Curt Siodmak, who had scripted Universal's classic Wolf Man 11 years earlier -- and The Wolf Man himself, Lon Chaney, is on hand as the local constable investigating the titular "were-ape." Raymond Burr is quite good as the plantation owner who falls victim to a native curse. A solid supporting cast includes Tom Conway, Paul Cavanagh and the tragic Barbara Payton.

7. Battles of Chief Pontiac
This ambitious B western is extraordinarily well-mounted, considering the budget and what Cohen went through to pull off the production, negotiating with Sioux and Air Force brass. Directed by Felix Feist (Donovan's Brain), it addresses controversial topics, such as the abusive treatment of Indians, including their deliberate infection with small pox. Lex Barker stars along with Helen Westcott and Berry Kroeger. But Lon Chaney steals the show as Chief Pontiac, delivering his lines with an intuitive conviction not seen since his turn as Lenny in Of Mice and Men.

6. Blood of Dracula
A transparent retread of Teenage Werewolf (heralded by fantastic poster art), the film is interesting for its distaff take on the premise featuring Sandra Harrison as the tormented teen. According to director Herb Strock, "She was an oddball to start with and that's why I thought she'd be good for the picture." As regards working with Cohen, Strock recalls that, "Herman was a very pontific type of producer ... but he knew I always came in on budget and that's what he was looking for."

5. I Was a Teenage Frankenstein

A cut below the standard set by Cohen's benchmark Teenage Werewolf, this inevitable followup is nonetheless worth your time if only for the performance of Whit Bissell (among the B Monster's all-time favorite actors). According to director Herb Strock, "[Whit] always gave more than 100%. He worked with you, he was always there. He reminded me so much of working with Boris Karloff. This was a man who was like a horse at the post. Ready to go, knew the lines, always on time, always ready, prepared, in the character. He was a dream to work with."

4. Horrors of the Black Museum
Just mention the "binoculars scene" to any baby boomer. They might not know the film by title, but odds are they'll recall that grisly -- and STILL quite shocking -- scene. Michael Gough, Cohen's British psycho go-to guy, is a mystery writer who hypnotizes his assistant into committing gory crimes that Gough can incorporate into his "fictional" paperbacks. The gimmick this time was "Hypno-Vista," and featured a "renowned" specialist explaining the process to the audience at the start of the film.

3. How To Make A Monster
A semi-tongue-in-cheek take on the mad doctor theme, this flick features a mad makeup artist, bent on revenge. He's thanklessly created both the Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein for the cost-conscious studio that now wants to give him the boot. One of the film's more affecting scenes features a switch from black and white to color film during the climax. (Teenage Frankenstein featured the same gimmick.) Director Herb Strock recalls, "the color at the end of these pictures was Herman's gimmick, and we always had to plan this as a separate reel. We planned this very, very carefully. It was a lot of fun working with Herman. We got along fine."

2. Target Earth
In spite of its conspicuously low budget, this is an effective and underrated alien invasion film. As directed by Sherman Rose, the sparse funding actually works in the film's favor, as our heroes are barricaded for much of its running time in a claustrophobic hotel room. The simplistic, boxy robot invaders are in keeping with the film's austerity -- though shoddily prepared, they're nonetheless effective. Stark shots of deserted city streets are likewise memorable. Richard Denning (and who DOESN'T like Richard Denning?) takes charge of the harried brigade of human survivors that includes Kathleen Crowley, Virginia Grey and Richard Reeves. Whit Bissell (who else could we turn to?) is the scientist charged with finding an effective weapon with which to staunch the invasion.

1. I Was A Teenage Werewolf
Even if you HATE cult-movies (and if you do, what kind of a sick person are you?) you're aware of this film and its cultural impact. Cohen and company took a gamble with the outrageous title and teen-geared premise and it paid off in spades. Michael Landon is terrific in the title role. (Some reports claimed he was embarrassed by the film after attaining Bonanza stardom, but Landon made a fond reference to the film in an episode of his Highway to Heaven TV series years later.) Whit Bissell (Okay, hands down, Hollywood's top scientist!) as the driven, demented, Svengali-like doctor was never better. The obligatory musical interlude is wildly out of synch, but this doesn't seem to affect the cavorting teen cast, which includes Yvonne Lime and Ken Miller. "A" film elitists can laugh if they want, but this was a watershed picture.


"The incredible space-brain invades a human body with its destructive evil power!"
Brain From Planet Arous

"You'll scream yourself into a state of shock!"
Horror of the Blood Monsters

"See natives eaten alive by giant vultures!"
Beast of Blood

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