Ready or not, another holiday season is upon us, and the B Monster's got his perforated stocking hung by the hearth with care. Whether you're trimming a tannenbaum or minding a menorah, we wish you the happiest holiday possible and humbly offer the following effluvium of genre-film epherma in an attempt to enhance your yule.

to all who took part in the Rhino, B Monster, Crater Kid, "Brain in a Box" Trivia Challenge. Winners hailed from both coasts of the U.S., England and Australia. We'd also like to point out that, while the "Brain" package is a terrific overview, die-hard devotees of sci-fi soundtracks should check out the terrific "Monstrous Movie Music" collections at , not to mention the many Marco Polo soundtrack reconstructions (see item below). Tell 'em the B Monster sent you.


Doug Benton
Doug Benton, a producer of the "Thriller" television series hosted by Boris Karloff, has died following a battle with cancer. Though officially credited as the associate producer, it seems Benton did the lion's share of the work on the series. Very much a "hands-on" producer, Benton pored through hundreds of copies of "Weird Tales" and other pulp magazines in search of story material. He cited "Pigeons from Hell" as his personal favorite of many memorable episodes. Benton also worked as a producer on shows such as "Magnum, P.I.," "Police Woman," "Hec Ramsey" and "Columbo," for which he received an Emmy Award.

Film historian Tom Weaver recalls Benton as, "One of my all-time favorite people. He was one of the nicest people -- and most informative interviewees -- I ever had the pleasure of talking with. I spoke with him just a week [before he passed away], when he must have known he had just days to live." Though facing death, Benton continued to regale Weaver with backstage "Thriller" stories. "The guy had an endless supply," says Weaver, "and encouraged me to call him back for even more, even though death was staring him in the face." Benton was justifiably proud of one of the most consistently entertaining suspense series in TV history.

Frederick S. Clarke
The founder and publisher of "Cinefantastique" magazine, Frederick S. Clarke, is dead at 51. "Cinefantastique," covering fantasy, science fiction and horror films, was started by Clarke in 1970, and Clarke took pride in its serious approach to a genre he felt other magazines covered in a juvenile fashion. According to Clarke's assistant, Lisa Coduto, "In addition to his loving family, he left behind an office staff of seven, not including the many writers that also worked for him. We will miss him very much and will continue his work just as he did ... the magazine will continue to publish." Clarke is survived by his wife, Celeste, and four children.

L. Sprague deCamp
Science fiction and fantasy author L. Sprague deCamp is dead at 92. While he spent much of the past 50 years writing over 100 science fiction and fantasy novels, his prolific career included stints as a teacher, engineer, patent expert and publicity writer. He wrote several historical novels, definitive biographies of authors H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and nonfiction works including "The Ancient Engineers," "The Day of the Dinosaur," "The Great Monkey Trial" and others. He also edited and contributed to several volumes featuring Howard's barbarian character, Conan, many in collaboration with the late Lin Carter.


According to the "Hollywood Reporter," Sarah Michelle Gellar ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is likely to play Daphne in the upcoming live-action Scooby Doo film. Also in talks to join the production are Freddie Prinze Jr. and Christina Ricci, who would take on the roles of Fred and Velma, respectively. (Since the idea for a live version of the Saturday morning cartoon first surfaced, it's been said that Michael Myers would portray Shaggy.) The film will be directed by Raja Gosnell.

"Variety" says that MGM is anxious to have Myers portray Inspector Clouseau in the studio's upcoming remake of "The Pink Panther." Why are they remaking "The Pink Panther?" I dunno. Why can't Scooby Doo remain a cartoon?

Guy Pearce ("L.A. Confidential," "Rules of Engagement") will star in a big-screen adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine." The DreamWorks/Warner Brothers co-production is scheduled to begin filming in February. "Prince of Egypt" co-director Simon Wells -- who just happens to be the great-grandson of H.G. -- will be in the director's chair.

Sooner or later, EVERYTHING (excluding human organs and serial-killer momentos) will turn up on e-Bay. For instance, the rubber appliance worn by Lon Chaney as part of his Wolf Man makeup in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" was recently up for grabs. Sculpted in 1948, the appliance covered Chaney's brow, nose and upper lip. The auctioneer invited potential bidders to "check my other auctions for movie mold (sic) "Creature From the Black Lagoon," "Revenge of the Creature," "Hideous Sun Demon," "Star Trek" Vulcan ears and other items from movie molds." The Chaney prosthetic fetched $42.00.

Books, movies, the Internet -- what's left for Stephen King to conquer? Broadway, of course! The literary horror-meister is teaming with '80s rock star John Mellencamp on a "haunted musical" that's bound for Broadway. The show tells the story of estranged brothers and their father stranded in a cabin that is haunted by the ghosts of their relatives. Reportedly, the show was Mellencamp's idea, but, when approached, King was quick to sign on. As the author told "Billboard" magazine, "It was kind of a ghostly thing, which is why he thought of me, I guess."

The good folks at Marco Polo are poised to release yet another beautifully reconstructed film score. Well-known for their sci fi and horror soundtracks, this time around reconstructionist John T. Morgan tackles Franz Waxman's stirring score for the Errol Flynn WWII epic, "Objective Burma." (Flynn always maintained that it was the one film in which he starred that he took pride in.) The Moscow Symphony Orchestra performs 13 rousing cues -- some not found in the final edited version of the film. For more information, visit

It's never too soon to plug the summer monster cons, beginning with "Monster Bash 2001." The party starts June 22 at the Days Inn Conference Center just north of Pittsburgh. This year's guest list includes Bela Lugosi Jr., Dwight D. Frye, Jane ("House of Dracula," "The Brute Man") Adams and peerless fright-film historian Bob Burns. Burns will discuss his close friend Glenn Strange, and the boots and headpiece worn by Strange in "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" will be on display. The usual assortment of authors, publishers and special effects folk will also be on hand. Among the films to be screened: "Mark of the Vampire," "White Zombie," "Son of Frankenstein," "House of Dracula" and more. For details, visit

And hot on the heels of "Monster Bash" comes another killer con: "Classic Filmfest 2001, Fanex 15" gets under way July 6 at Baltimore's beautiful Hunt Valley Inn. (Attendees are invited to check in early to catch the Inner Harbor fireworks display.) This year's show is sponsored by Midnight Marquee Press, "Cult Movies" magazine and It's Alive. The guest list includes director Blake Edwards ("Peter Gunn," "10" "The Pink Panther"), Barbara Shelley ("Dracula: Prince of Darkness," "Quatermass and the Pit") Jonathan Haze ("Little Shop of Horrors," "Not of This Earth), Veronica Carlson, Yvonne Monlaur and, of course, Forry Ackerman. The usual awards ceremonies and opening night festivities will no doubt be presented in the time-honored, intimate Fanex fashion. (But will Blake Edwards talk about his star turn in "Strangler of the Swamp?") For more info, check out

He's a lounge lizard with a heart of gold. Our Bay-area buddy, horror host Will "The Thrill" Viharo, recently staged a special show for underprivileged children where he gave out free "Crater Kid" comics. Will's sci-fi fest, including screenings of "Battle in Outer Space" "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" and "It Conquered the World," begins in January. The "Thrillville" nursery, where parents can drop the kiddies while attending the festivities, will be giving out free "Crater Kid" comics and T-shirts throughout the festival. Visit for more information.

Superman expert nonpareil and publisher of "The Adventures Continue" newsletter, Jim Nolt, points out an interesting snafu on the part of the TV Land Website. According to Nolt, the site did alter their reference to Robert Shayne's Communist sympathies when corrected by the late actor's daughter, but they continue to insist that Jack "Jimmy Olsen" Larson appeared on the "Dick Van Dyke Show" in 1963, when it was, in fact, a different Jack Larson. More egregious is the fact that a photo of Phyllis Coates accompanies the site's biography of Noel Neill. When Nolt pointed out the mistake, TV Land replied, "As for your concern regard (sic) the photos of Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates, they come directly from the distributor with each actress named on the print. We will not be amending them." Jim asked them to reconsider and received a second response. "Unfortunately, with the case of the photos, we do not believe you to be correct and the change will not be made."

When The B Monster broached the subject with TV Land, we received the following response: "We looked into this some time ago, when another fan of the show wrote in with a similar observation. We went back to the source of the photo (the actual distributor of the show). We have been assured that while the actresses bore some resemblance to each other, the photo is in fact labeled correctly. It is an original photo from the original owners of the show, reproduced at the time of the show's production. It does make for interesting debate, though." When informed that the distributor was mistaken, TV Land countered with the following: "What you fail to understand is that no matter how much documentation you claim to have unless you are the owner of the image (meaning the holder of the copyright on it) you can not verify it for us. While you are clearly a fan of the show, you are not a "principal" in this matter legally and so, though we will investigate what you have said, we are bound by contract to use only images which we own ... as for Miss Neill, we have already put a call out." C'mon guys! Even neophyte film buffs know the difference between these two ladies. Visit Jim's nifty site at:


This just might be the schlock film that goes in the time capsule for future generations to decipher. Wendell Corey (poor Wendell Corey), Tura Satana and John Carradine are the human attractions in this bizarro, grade-Z curio. It's got a mad scientist (an "ASTRO"-scientist), killer zombies, commie spies and, according to the publicity, it's "a high-powered fusion of Ed Wood, Russ Meyer and George Romero!" Whew! Director Ted V. Mikels' other credits include "The Doll Squad," "The Corpse Grinders" and "Blood Orgy of the She Devils." There's probably not an AFI salute in the works, but man, could this guy cook up titles! Incidentally, "Astro-Zombies" was co-produced by M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers.

Okay, THIS just might be the schlock film that goes in the time capsule for future generations to decipher. The soundtrack alone will drive the citizens of the future to murder. The relentlessly turgid flamenco guitar and piano score (also used in Ed Wood's "Jail Bait") will send you right up the wall. Ron Ormond ("Untamed Mistress," "The Monster and the Stripper") shares directing credit with Herbert Tevos. The cast includes Jackie Coogan as a demented doctor bent on breeding women with spiders -- or something like that. George Barrows, Richard Travis and Lyle Talbot (poor Lyle Talbot) are along for this ride into tedium. Don't get us wrong -- it's fun so long as your finger is never far from the fast forward button.

Arguably the best film of the British horror cycle of the 1960s takes place in Massachusetts. Filmed at Shepperton Studios by Vulcan productions (later known as Amicus), director John Llewellyn Moxey wrings every fog-drenched drop of atmosphere from this shadowy saga of a college student who travels to New England at the behest of professor Christopher Lee to research a term paper on witchcraft. (Moxey later launched the "Night Stalker" teleseries). Extra features unique to DVD releases often include theatrical trailers and production art, but this release has one truly bizarre addition. Aim your remote arrow at Lee's face on the menu screen, and you get several minutes of the haughty Brit putting down Ed Wood alum, Conrad Brooks and Forry Ackerman, of whom Lee says, "he's a weird guy, he really is. Not an unpleasant man, but he's strange." You gotta wonder: Is Lee aware that his candid comments are part of this package?

Now THIS is an exploitation movie -- and nobody exploited the exploitable quite like director Richard Cunha. This one's got it all -- Irish "Sheena" McCalla, Tod "Captain Neptune" Griffin, Victor "No. 2 Son" Sen Yung, Nazis, zombie chicks, an active volcano. The whole shebang is accompanied by peerless B-movie maven Tom Weaver's lucid liner notes, which include, among other invaluable arcania, Cunha's take on working with McCalla: "We just had a TERRIBLE time! It was like she was doing a porno or something! Everybody had to hide, we had to get the guys off the set -- we had pasties on her and everything else." Just imagine, lucky audiences in 1958 got to see "She Demons" on a double-bill with Cunha's "Giant From the Unknown." Those were the days.


We write about exploitation films all the time -- (see above) but none of them masqueraded as high art the way this pretentious film does.

Ultra-violent, ultra-graphic, ultra-manipulative, cheaply sensational and one of the ugliest films in recent memory. We're not talking about blood and gore (though God knows, it's got that), we're talking about prolonged scenes of agonizing physical and mental torture directed at women. Its labored attempt to shock us seems desperate and pathetic. We don't believe that 40 years from now "The Cell" will be regarded in the same way "She Demons" is today -- a horror show with no other agenda but to send an innocent chill up your spine. We strongly believe in this irresponsible filmmaker's first amendment rights -- but you'd better keep this crap away from my kid.

The latest in Englewood Entertainment's "Atomic Television" series is this three-episode set featuring a landmark American space character. You don't have to be a geezer to realize that "Space Cadet" and "Space Patrol" were part of our pop-culture fabric for years -- books, comics, lunch boxes, badges, buttons, clothing, rayguns -- these small but significant signs of our faith in the future were everywhere! The titles contained in this sampler of the "Cadet" series should be enough to make you pick it up, pronto: "The Asteroid of Death," "Target: Danger," "Assignment: Mercury." All feature Frankie Thomas, Jan Merlin, kooky space suits, cardboard rockets and unabashed fun! You can revisit their optimism via these videos or rent "The Matrix" and brood your life away.

Wipe the befuddled look off your face -- there's no reason you should be familiar with this offbeat title, a British sci-fi farce from 1944 that never saw a U.S. release. It stars English radio comic Tommy Handley as an investor in a haywire time machine that accidentally sends he and his pals back to Elizabethan England. Englewood has once more resurrected a film for eccentric tastes and digitally remastered it "for the most discriminating film aficionado." Handley's brand of comedy may be difficult for a contemporary audience to embrace, so let's politely put it in the "acquired taste" category.


Michael F. Blake, whose books are available through Vestal Press or at

Harris Lentz III, whose books are available at

Bob Madison, whose books are available at

Bryan Senn, whose books are available at and at

Tom Weaver, whose books are available at and at

"Teenage Hoodlums from another world on a horrendous ray-gun rampage" -- Teenagers From Outer Space

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