Pat Boyette
Writer, artist, film director, producer and longtime B-Monster friend Pat Boyette is dead, following a long battle with cancer. To cult-film fans, Boyette was best known for the low-budget shocker "The Dungeon of Harrow," which he wrote, produced, directed and narrated. Boyette said that he'd spent days filming, while nights were spent constructing the next day's sets. He also directed the lesser-known "No Man's Land" and "The Weird Ones." Boyette's script "The Girls From Thunder Strip" was filmed by low-budget auteur David L. Hewitt ("The Wizard of Mars," "The Mighty Gorga").

A well-read historian who loved his San Antonio home, Boyette was a TV anchorman who began his career in the early days of television. Following his stint as a newsman, Boyette tried his hand at comic book illustration, quickly becoming one of the industry's most prolific (and underrated) talents. His work graced scads of Charlton Comics titles such as "The Peacemaker" and "Ghostly Tales From the Haunted House," as well as Warren Publishing's "Creepy" and "Eerie" magazines. "Nightstand Chillers," a collection of Boyette's horror comic work, was published last year.

Boyette could converse intelligently on any subject, and enjoyed long discussions on topics ranging from the mysteries of ancient Egypt, to why ink wash looks better on Xeroxed paper. His sense of humor rarely failed him, and, even as his voice was ravaged by chemotherapy, his talents as a raconteur were undiminished. Throughout the course of his struggles, Pat never exhibited the slightest hint of self-pity. "My bags are packed," he joked philosophically. To learn more about this generous, versatile, and too often overlooked talent, go to http://www.bmonster.com/profile20.html . After you do, consider contributing something to cancer research. http://www.cancer.org/donate

John Newland
Director, actor John Newland is dead at 82, following a stroke. Newland is best known as the host of the supernatural series "Alcoa Presents," retitled to better effect in syndication as "One Step Beyond." The series explored all manner of psychic and supernatural phenomenon, and was the forerunner of such series as "The Twilight Zone," "Night Gallery" and the "X-Files." When speaking of the innovative series, Newland stated, "We try to emphasize hope rather than despair or fear. We avoid the use of the word 'true.' Although all of our stories are based on actual cases and unexplained experiences, we do not want to intrude on faith patterns and religious manifestations. We prefer to present a series of events dramatically, to let the viewer make up his own mind."

Newland began his show business career as a stage actor, eventually breaking into films in "The Adventures of Dusty Bates." This was followed by small roles in several films. He later declared with good humor that "I was an immediate failure." In 1949, Newland took the plunge into the burgeoning television industry, emerging as one of the medium's most prolific directors, working on series such as "Bachelor Father," "Night Gallery," "The Sixth Sense," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Police Woman," "Thriller," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Star Trek." Feature films directed by Newland include "My Lover, My Son," "Danger Has Two Faces" and "The Legend of Hillbilly John."

Frances Drake
Frances Drake, the stunning actress best known as the object of a deranged Peter Lorre's affections in the horror classic "Mad Love," is dead at 91. Beginning in 1934, Drake appeared in over 20 films opposite major stars such as Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Joan Crawford. Horror movie fans will also remember Drake for her role as the wife of Boris Karloff in the 1936 film "The Invisible Ray."

In the bizarre shocker "Mad Love," a maniacal surgeon, played to perfection by Peter Lorre, will stop at nothing to win her affections. As the terrified wife of concert pianist Colin Clive, whose severed hands are replaced by Lorre with those of a recently executed killer, Ms. Drake enjoyed her most memorable role. Drake retired from show business after marrying Cecil John Howard, son of the 19th earl of Suffolk, because he disliked the motion picture business.

Marquerite Churchill
Marquerite Churchill, the actress perhaps best known for her role opposite John Wayne in his first starring vehicle, "The Big Trail," is dead at 90. The cause of death was not immediately known. "The Big Trail" was a big-budget western directed by Raoul Walsh in 1930, but Wayne didn't emerge as a star until his appearance in John Ford's "Stagecoach" nine years later. Churchill, however, appeared in prominent roles throughout the 1930s, including leads in classic horror films such as "Dracula's Daughter" with Gloria Holden and "The Walking Dead" opposite Boris Karloff.

Churchill married western star George O'Brien in 1933 after co-starring with him in "Riders of the Purple Sage." She retired a few years later. Following their divorce in 1948, she came out of retirement briefly, making her final film appearance in 1950's "Bunco Squad."

Arthur Batanides
Arthur Batanides, whose face became familiar to TV viewers during a career that spanned four decades, is dead of natural causes at 77. Beginning with his first major TV role in "Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers," the actor embarked on a lengthy career in television appearing in episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show," "Happy Days," "Mission: Impossible" and many others. Cult-film fans will remember him best for roles in "The Leech Woman," with Coleen Gray, and "The Unearthly" opposite John Carradine.


In a debacle worthy of any horror Mary Shelley could cook up, Universal Studios has pulled the plug on its computer-animated retelling of "Frankenstein." Speculation is that studio heads deemed the subject matter too dark for the youthful audiences who flocked to animated pics such as "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life." The project has been in the mill for years, and Universal has reportedly already invested more than $10 million on scripting and test footage. What's worse, Universal is obligated to the Lucas effects factory, Industrial Light & Magic, to the tune of $80 million. Variety reports that studio execs were unaware of the huge ILM contract when the film was shelved. There is speculation that Universal could apply the ILM debt to future projects such as an animated "Incredible Hulk" and the "Jurassic Park" and "Mummy" sequels. The money might be better spent developing ORIGINAL ideas as opposed to subjecting other hallowed trademarks to cavalier treatment.

If you were going to remake producer Val Lewton's moody, minor masterpiece, "Isle of the Dead," who would you want to direct it? We're guessing the name Burt Reynolds doesn't spring to mind. Sources say producers Daniel Bigel and Michael Mailer have hired "The Bandit" to helm a remake of the Karloff-starring, 1945 thriller. In fact, plans are afoot to remake three of the RKO-Lewton classics. No word yet on which ones will get the makeover.

Director Herbert Ross ("Funny Lady," "Steel Magnolias") will direct a remake of the Orson Welles' classic "The Magnificent Ambersons." This is not a joke. Jude Law ("The Talented Mr. Ripley") is in negotiations to play the role of George Amberson Minafer originated by Tim Holt.

The Hollywood Reporter says that screenwriter Fred Wolf ("Saturday Night Live," "Dirty Work") is currently scripting a remake of "The Incredible Shrinking Man" for Universal. Word is that the shrinking one will be played by -- wait for it -- Eddie Murphy.

"Out of Sight" director Steven Soderbergh plans to remake the smug, 1960 "Rat Pack" vehicle "Ocean's Eleven." George Clooney has signed on to star in the role originated by Frank Sinatra. As Warner Bros. is allowing extra time for the casting process, have a ball imagining who'll replace Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr. in the new version.

The idea has been kicking around for years, but leave it to ABC to finally lense a movie-of-the-week biopic on The Three Stooges. Filming has begun in, of all places, Sydney, Australia! And the casting choices are as funny as anything the Stooges ever did: -- Paul Ben-Victor, who appeared in "True Romance," as Moe -- John Kassir, voice of "The Crypt Keeper" as Shemp -- Evan Handler who plays Shrug on ABC's "It's Like, You Know" as Larry -- Michael Chiklis, that's right, "The Commish," as Curly If only Moe were around to slap some sense into these people.

If you're as sick as we are of all the hubbub and haranguing over the upcoming (maybe) "Spider-Man" movie, then it probably won't pique your interest to hear that, according to sources, "Evil Dead" director Sam Raimi MAY be announced as the director of the feature. Production MAY start in the fall, and the movie MAY be released in June 2001, but don't hold your breath.

"Blair Witch Project" directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez will executive produce not one, but two sequels to the 1999 summer blockbuster. On board as director of the first follow-up is Joe Berlinger, best known for the excellent documentary "Brother's Keeper." Myrick and Sanchez will direct the second sequel themselves. According to the producers, neither of the new films will employ the hand-held, verite techniques employed in the original "Blair Witch." Production is scheduled to begin in mid-February. Is the twin-sequel announcement an attempt to replicate the unprecedented word-of-mouth that made the first film the 10th highest-grossing film of 1999?


Q: Three of my favorite cult-film actors are Sally Fraser ("Giant From the Unknown"), Don Sullivan ("The Giant Gila Monster"), and John Hudson ("The Screaming Skull" -- twin brother of "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" 's William Hudson). Do you know what they've been up to lately, how I could reach them, any interesting trivia about them, etc.?

A: Sorry to report that, no one, it seems, knows where to find Sally Fraser. Don Sullivan dropped out of acting many years ago and began selling his own line of beauty products. Sadly, the Hudson brothers, John AND William, passed away some time ago.

Q: Could you please answer a question regarding [producer] Herman Cohen's "How to Make A Monster" (1958)? I am particularly interested in learning more about the color climax, which is conspicuously absent from television prints and the short-lived home video edition that was issued in 1991. Will it ever be restored for new generations to enjoy?

A: Director Herb Strock enjoys pointing out that Cohen's idea for splicing a color climax onto a black and white film was a pain in the neck. And there ARE video prints of "How to Make A Monster" (as well as Cohen and Strock's "I Was A Teenage Frankenstein") with the color ending intact -- but odds are you won't find 'em at Blockbuster. Check in with our pals at "The Video Vault" -- http://www.videovault.com -- maybe they can help.


David Koepp may be best known as a screenwriter ("Jurassic Park," "The Lost World") but he's a pretty fair director, as well. 1996's "Trigger Effect" wasn't bad and "Stir of Echoes," based on Richard Matheson's novel is pretty darned effective. Somehow, it got lost in the shuffle of supernatural films that came out last year and that's too bad. Kevin Bacon is very good, the pacing is very snappy, and pieces of it are very suspenseful. (Sharp-eyed trivia hounds can catch a glimpse of a babysitter reading a paperback copy of Matheson's "The Shrinking Man" partway through the film.)

Proving screenwriter William Goldman's oft-quoted maxim that "nobody knows anything" when it comes to predicting box-office success, this restrained, intelligent thriller came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the year's top box-office draws. As directed by relative unknown M. Night Shyamalan, the mood is solemn, the acting solid (yes, even Bruce Willis!) with darned little blood, no shock cuts, little foul language -- and people loved it! A good spooky movie that won mass approval? No wonder so many people were anticipating the Apocalypse.

Wow! At last a film that has the guts to take on the Catholic Church (yawn). When the MTVish camera stops jerking around long enough for you to distinguish an image, you realize there isn't much of a movie here. Dive-bombing camera work won't make a contrived premise seem fresh. Gabriel Byrne, who embarrassed himself as Satan in "End of Days," stars as a Catholic priest/stigmata investigator assigned to keep tabs on the stigmatized Patricia Arquette.

Moviegoers used their own radar-sense to avoid this thriller in droves. "Carnosaur 3" director Louis Morneau is at the helm, abetted by a cast that includes Lou Diamond Phillips, Dina Meyer and Leon. The bats in question are the result of a government experiment gone horribly awry. (Don't all government experiments go horribly awry?)

Thanks to every B Monster reader who signed up for daily e-mail delivery of "The Crater Kid" comic strip. The Kid has taken the web by storm and was selected Yahoo's Pick of the Day when he was only three days old! His adventures have been seen over 40,000 times since his January 1 launch and he'll make his Image Comics print debut this spring. http://www.craterkid.com


Michael F. Blake, whose books are available through Vestal Press or at http://www.amazon.com

Harris Lentz III, whose books are available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com

Bryan Senn, whose books are available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com and at http://www.midmar.com/books.html

Tom Weaver, whose books are available at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com and at http://www.midmar.com/books.html

"Yesterday they were cold and dead. Today, they're hot and bothered!" -- Dracula vs. Frankenstein

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