Valentines Day will be here before you know it, and we'd like to do our part in helping you plan an elegant evening with that special someone. Drawing upon our otherwise worthless knowledge of celluloid arcania and worldwide web-known lack of tact, here's a tip or two on how to make a soiree with your sweetheart memorable. May we suggest champagne and a copy of "The Leech Woman?" Nothing says love like "Hatchet For A Honeymoon," and you could do worse than a Merlot and "I Married a Monster From Outer Space." But remember, it's white wine with "Die, Die, My Darling."


Ray Walston
The actor best known to baby boomers as the rascally Uncle Martin in the TV series "My Favorite Martian," Ray Walston is dead at 86. According to the actor's agent he died of natural causes at home with his wife by his side. Walston rose to prominence after winning a Tony Award for his performance as the devil in the Broadway smash "Damn Yankees." He began appearing in films soon after. He starred in the movie version of "Damn Yankees," and had roles in "South Pacific," "The Apartment," "Kiss Them For Me" and many others. Walston delivered solid characterizations in films as diverse as the Academy Award-winning "The Sting," the sci-fi shocker "Galaxy of Terror" and the cult-hit teen comedy "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Walston worked extensively in television. In addition to "My Favorite Martian," which ran from 1963-66, he made guest appearances on programs such as "Mission Impossible," "Little House on the Prairie," "Starsky and Hutch," "Star Trek: Voyager" and many others. He won back-to-back Emmy Awards in 1995 and 1996 for his recurring role as the judge on the television series "Picket Fences." As recently as last year he appeared on an episode of the CBS series "Touched By An Angel."


"Dracula" has been added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. The 1931 classic starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Tod Browning was one of 25 titles added to the registry of 275 films considered worthy of preservation for historical or artistic reasons. Also selected was the 1928 version of "The Fall of the House of Usher," directed by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber, and animator Bob Clampett's "Porky in Wackyland." More than 1,000 films were nominated by the National Film Preservation Board, the Library of Congress Motion Picture Division and the public. As is our yearly tradition, the B Monster nominated "Giant From the Unknown," which was snubbed as expected.

More congratulations are in order for the B Monster's buddy, Bob Burns. CNN recently did a nifty piece on the king of scary-movie collectibles. The news peg was the forthcoming publication of "It Came From Bob's Basement," co-authored with pop-culture chronicler extraordinaire, John Michlig. For the uninitiated, the CNN piece was a swell introduction to Bob and his bounty of props, which includes the original "Time Machine," Klatuu's saucer from "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and the 18-inch metal framework of "King Kong." Burns also cites among his most-prized possessions the lunar panorama painted by Chesley Bonestell for George Pal's "Destination Moon." But CNN's coverage is just the tip of the terrifying iceberg (they barely mentioned Bob's film work). You'll have to buy "It Came From Bob's Basement" for the full story of fantasy filmdom's most beloved preservationist. Follow this link to find out how: http://www.fullyarticulated.com/BobsBasement.html

A word of warning to all you money-grubbing 10-year-olds with your lucrative Harry Potter fan websites: Time Warner Entertainment, the company that probably sold you the browser you're reading this on, has successfully sued for ownership of 107 Harry Potter-related domain names. The ruling was handed down by the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization. (Yes, there really is an organization called that, probably run by guys with strange lumpy foreheads named Roxor.) Take that, Becky Sue Wilson of Cedar Rapids. How dare you generate free publicity for us! Drop the innocent act, Rusty Hanley of Altoona, Pa. Welcome to life in the Time Warner States of America.

Author Stephen King recently told "Entertainment Weekly" that his serialized cyber-novel, "The Plant," will be resurrected come summer. King abruptly halted the shareware publication experiment when fewer than half of those who downloaded the chapters actually paid for them. "Most Internet users seem to have the attention span of grasshoppers," King said at the time. (In fairness, it should be noted that the length of time before the next chapter appears is longer than the life span of an actual grasshopper.) King added, "book-readers don't regard electronic books as real books." We have heard of these "book-readers." How does a mere grasshopper become a "book-reader?" I guess if you're reading this, you'll never know.

Production designer Timothy Bradstreet recently revealed that the "Blade" sequel will feature an evil team of vampires called -- wait for it -- "The Bloodpack," described as "battle-hardened vampire warriors," which I guess is the coolest kind of vampire warrior there is. Bloodpackers have really way-cool names like Lighthammer and Verlaine and have tattoos on all the spots where sane people don't get tattoos. Sounds like a deadly serious take on the cornball conventions "Buffy" and "Angel" have been presenting with tongue-in-cheek, week in, week out for years. "Blade," "John Carpenter's Vampires," "Dracula 2000" -- does EVERY movie HAVE to have brooding, cynical, pierced, spiky-headed, leather-wearing, emaciated druggies splashing about in Niagaras of fake blood? Hollywood answers with a resounding "Yes!" And personally, we hope the media continues to churn out these trite cliches; it makes the reviews so much easier to write.

The official website of B-movie tough guy Ross Hagen is up and running. If your only exposure to Hagen's work is via the films that were skewered by the robot pundits of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," this site is a comprehensive opportunity to skip the sarcasm and learn more about rugged Ross and his lengthy career. Hagen's credits include "Sidehackers," "The Miniskirt Mob," "The Devils 8," a plum role as Elvis' nemesis in

"Speedway," and more recently, a fistful of films with director Fred Olen Ray. The site features a detailed filmography, a revealing bio (hard to believe the star of "Hellcats" was born Leland Lando Lilly), an expansive Q&A, fan club info and more. As far as future projects are concerned, Ross has been hard at work on a script described as a modern retelling of Dante's "Inferno." "We're gonna take people on this divine adventure, the journey of the soul," says Hagen. You'll find it all at http://www.rosshagen.com/

It's just what you'd expect from an incredibly prolific director famous for shooting at a breakneck pace. According to CNN, Roger Corman had all 22 episodes of his made-for-cable series, "Black Scorpion," in the can before the first one ever hit the air. Corman had such faith in the project that he ponied up the $12 million production costs before a buyer ever showed interest, something of an uncharacteristic risk for the author of "How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime." The Sci Fi Channel will air the series about a sexy superheroine, which Corman co-created with writer Craig Nevius.

Another solid soundtrack reconstruction from the Marco Polo team that ventures beyond genre-film is this restoration of Max Steiner's score for the John Huston-directed, Humphrey Bogart classic "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." Steiner was rarely one for subtlety and this score is one of his most appropriately rousing. Restorationist John Morgan once again oversees the project, which features William T. Stromberg leading the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Find out more at http://www.naxos.com

E! Online blew the lid off this story: It seems that several actors prominent in the cast of the forthcoming "Lord of the Rings" film were given permanent mementos of the production when principal shooting concluded. Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies and Sir Ian McKellen were tattooed with a special "Rings Brotherhood" design. Well, the B Monster dug a little deeper and found that this bizarre and sadistic practice has been going on for years. For instance, actors returning for the "Blade" sequel will be tattooed a second time. Courtney Cox and Neve Campbell each sport three "Scream" tattoos, one for each entry in the series. I don't even want to think about Burgess Meredith's decorated backside following the 50 or so "Rocky" movies. And why do you think Connery stopped playing James Bond, for Pete's sake? And poor Warner Oland. Eeyouch!

Thrilling Will Viharo, the lounge lizard/horror movie host with a heart 'o gold has at long last launched thrillville.net, the digital guide to the complete thrillville experience. Will's live stage shows and cult-film screenings are something of a Bay Area institution, but if you can't catch the Frisco fright firsthand, this site is the next best thing. As the home page proudly proclaims, "Thrillville is a city of B-movie dreams in a state of culture shock, where time stands still and aesthetics supercede politics." Whew! You'll find a schedule of screenings, some groovy snapshots, a fistful of links and the complete lowdown on The Thrill's plans for "expanding 'Thrillville Theater' into the 'Thrillville Revue' and taking it on the road." It's all waiting at http://www.thrillville.net/

Fans of the classy "Monsters From the Vault" magazine will be glad to know that the mag's official website is a going concern. If you're not familiar with "MFTV," the site is a nice compliment to the paper product. (It's a tad "graphic-intense," so readers with a speedier connection will have the advantage.) If you've been keeping up with cult-film writing over the past few years, then the names of "MFTV's" knowledgeable contributors will be familiar ones: Steve Kronenberg, Gregory William Mank, Mark A. Miller, John E. Parnum, Michael H. Price, Gary Don Rhodes, Bryan Senn, John Stell, Gary J. Svehla, Tom Weaver and others turn in top-flight writing. You'll also find editor Jim Clatterbaugh's editorial, a featured article, reviews, subscription info, convention dates and recommended links. Check it out at: http://www.members.home.net/editormftv/MFTVMagazine.html Tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

Elvis fans remember her as the King's co-star in "Paradise, Hawaiian Style;" to horror and Hammer buffs, she's the leading lady of shockers like "The Deadly Bees" and "The Lost Continent;" her famous friends know her as a self-made film and TV actress who's had shots at stardom on both sides of the Atlantic. Suzanna Leigh's busy life -- complete with a few dark corners -- is described in her new autobiography "Paradise, Suzanna Style."

The book is not only her life story, it's an opportunity to revisit the Swinging Sixties, a time of change for just about everything connected with music, fashion, attitudes about sex and drugs, politics and, of course, the movies, as seen through the eyes of a rags-to-riches British beauty just out of her teens. Although the book is generally upbeat, Leigh isn't afraid to discuss the dark times, including the early death of her father, her hell-on-wheels mom and the outrageous behavior of some of her celebrity colleagues. Laurence Harvey, Roman Polanski, Col. Tom Parker, Michael Caine, Steve McQueen and Peter Finch are among the names dropped. Leigh calls her life "a rollercoaster ride through Wonderland," a good description of her book as well. You can learn more about it at: http://www.suzannaleigh.com As always, tell her the B Monster sent you!


This nifty pairing of vintage detective flicks features an unjustly forgotten fictional sleuth. Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond was the subject of a number of films, both "A" and "B." Ronald Colman, Walter Pidgeon, John Lodge and others took their turn impersonating Drummond, Colman's 1929 outing arguably the best of the lot. Paramount's B-movie unit kept the series rolling throughout the 1930s and '40s and this twin bill is culled from that period. "Bulldog Drummond Escapes" stars a dashing young Ray Milland as the dauntless detective. Venerable Reginald Denny appears as his sidekick Algy Longworth and Heather Angel plays "Bulldog's" paramour, Phyllis Clavering. For our money, it's the smaller character roles that keep these Bs perennially entertaining. Watch for Porter Hall, E.E. Clive and Walter Kingsford in supporting parts.

John Howard assumes the lead in "Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police" (he would portray Drummond seven times in all), with Denny and Angel returning as Algy and Phyllis. E.E. Clive, Leo G. Carroll and Forrester Harvey are the familiar faces to watch for in support. Howard was a likable, B-movie workhorse with several notable horror and sci-fi credits, including "The Undying Monster," "The Mad Doctor" and "Invisible Woman." Both Drummond features were directed by low-budget journeyman James P. Hogan, who also directed entries in the Ellery Queen series. His final film was 1943's "The Mad Ghoul," starring George Zucco and David Bruce.

This often-overlooked, juvenile delinquent opus is one of Roger Corman's best films. The B-movie speed demon was famous for the number of set-ups he could pack into a day's work, but with "Teenage Doll," his artsy side is showing. There are a number of flourishes -- intriguing shadows, realistically staged fighting, clever cutting from scene to scene -- that lead us to suspect he really cared about this one. Cute June Kenney is the eponymous "Doll" who's fallen in with the wrong crowd. Fetching Fay Spain, the "Dragstrip Girl" herself, is terrific as the "bad chick," Helen ("Hel," for short). All in all, one of best JD films of the '50s. (It has no bearing here, but the poster art for "Teenage Doll" was a real grabber, simple and atmospheric).


We hate to start a review by saying 'this one's not as bad as you might think, all things considered,' but, 'this one's not as bad as you might think, all things considered.' Director James Wong worked previously on such television series as "The X-Files," "Millennium" and "The Others" (usually in a production capacity), so a story centered around frightened teens attempting to outwit death seems right up his street. This movie covers familiar ground, to be sure, but in a number of scenes, Wong takes the path less beaten. (He finds some inventive ways to showcase a plane catastrophe and a near-electrocution.) As is usual with contemporary horror films, it's the trite dialogue that undoes much of the suspense. The film begins with a harrowing, gut-wrenching, flat-out horrific airport scene, in which students preparing to fly to France encounter delays, cancellations, snarling flight attendants -- you know, the same stuff you and I encounter every time we fly. Sure, their plane blows up, but the airline gave 'em those vouchers for free "jalapeno poppers" at T.G.I. Fridays, so it wasn't a total loss.

Just what this troubled young millennium needs, another dumb devil movie. This one -- produced by Meg Ryan! -- stars Wynona Ryder and John Hurt. There are plot holes big enough to drive a Humvee through and more dangling loose ends than a bowl of linguini. It's all about the chosen one, the son of Satan himself, who at the appointed hour will become manifest, blah, blah, blah. This stuff hasn't been scary since Travolta was a Sweathog. "Lost Souls" marks the directorial debut of Janusz Kaminski, a truly talented, Oscar-winning cinematographer ("Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List"), and it is a nice-looking movie -- if you like brown. Everything but EVERYTHING is some shade of sepia. Beams of autumnal light shower every scene as the dry ice machine works overtime. But why do people simply entering a room do so in super-slow motion, the camera shooting from the floor and panning up their pant legs? It's gimmicky and cliched, a cross between "The Exorcist" and a Calvin Klein ad. All in all, a big beige bore.


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

Bob Madison, whose books are available at http://www.amazon.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

"How much shock can the human brain endure before it cracks?" -- Crypt of Horror

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