Paula Raymond
B-movie leading lady Paula Raymond has died from respiratory ailments. She was 79. Raymond may be best remembered for her roles in such science fiction and horror films as "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms," "Hand of Death" and "Blood of Dracula's Castle." Born in San Francisco, Raymond made her 1938 film debut as a child in "Keep Smiling." She attended Hollywood High School and completed her education in San Francisco before returning to Hollywood in the mid-1940s to take up a film career. Among her early film credits were roles in "Rusty Leads the Way," "Blondie's Secret," "Crisis," opposite Cary Grant, and "Devil's Doorway," with Robert Taylor. She worked steadily throughout the 1950s, appearing in such "A"-budget films as "The Tall Target," "The Story of Three Loves" and "King Richard and the Crusaders," in which she played Queen Berengeria. In 1962, Raymond was sidelined by a serious car crash, which required extensive facial reconstruction. Miraculously, she recovered her strength and beauty and returned to films within a year. She also worked prolifically in television, appearing in such programs as "Yancy Derringer," "Perry Mason," "The Rough Riders," "77 Sunset Strip," "Bourbon Street Beat," "Cheyenne," "Hawaiian Eye," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and many others.

Lynn Cartwright
Actress Lynn Cartwright has died of illnesses related to dementia. She had also recently suffered a hip fracture. She was 76. Cartwright had small roles in a handful of B pictures in the 1950s, including several that were scripted by her husband, the late actor Leo Gordon. These include "Black Patch," "The Cry Baby Killer" and "The Wasp Woman," the latter two produced by Roger Corman. (A commercial promotion for "The Cry Baby Killer" was a "Prettiest Carhop Contest"; local theaters were encouraged to conduct a contest to find a carhop as lovely as the one played by Cartwright in the picture.) She also had a small part as a Venusian maiden in the cult classic "Queen of Outer Space," starring Zsa Zsa Gabor. She may be best known to contemporary audiences for her part in "A League of Their Own," in which she played an older version of Geena Davis' character, Dottie Hinson, a women's league baseball player. Cartwright's television credits include appearances on such programs as "Maverick," "Adam-12," "Little House on the Prairie" and "Dynasty."


And they say our kids aren't learning anything of value in school these days. The Washington Post recently asked students and teachers from around the country to cite the most interesting assignment they'd worked on this school year. One teacher said her students enjoyed lessons in "cross-cultural communication." Another cited studies of DNA. Seventh grader Ben Kraftchick of the Gulliver Academy in Miami, Fla., said his favorite assignment was a classroom debate over which of the classic monsters -- Frankenstein's monster, Dracula or the Werewolf -- was the most powerful. "In support of my contention that Frankenstein was the most powerful," young Kraftchick said, "I pointed out: (1) His powers are not limited to specific times; Dracula is powerful only at night and the Werewolf only on the full moon. (2) If Frankenstein were actually attacked and bitten by one of the others, he would gain their powers in addition to his own. (3) Frankenstein is reparable. Even if he is severely injured and even killed, all you need is a mad scientist (of which there are plenty in the movies) to repair him. If you were representing Dracula, you might point out that he has the power of hypnotism with which to control the other two monsters as well as immortality (absent a wooden stake of course) and the ability to create other vampires. With enough vampires you could overcome Frankenstein. If you were representing the Werewolf, you might point out his superior strength and ability to turn others into werewolves. Again, with his strength and fellow werewolves, he could overcome Frankenstein." Lee Kraftchick, father of the budding monster expert, said, "Ben really took this project to heart. He prepared charts comparing the three monsters' strengths and weaknesses. ... If you think about it, it makes for a lively debate." And to think, the B Monster was once sent to the principal's office for sketching monsters in the margins of his notebook. "I enjoyed this assignment," concluded Ben, "because it gave me a chance to work with my friends as a team in a non-physical sport (most of which I am terrible at) and to focus my argumentative nature toward something other than aggravating my parents."

You have until February 13 to cast your votes in the Rondo Awards. Balloting is open to any devotee of the classic monster/sci-fi genre. The categories include:

Best Movie
Best Television Presentation
Best Classic DVD release
Best Restoration
Best Book
Best Magazine
Best Article
Best Cover
Best Website or Message Board
Best Convention
Best Fan Event
Best CD
Best Toy, Figure or Model
Count Alucard's Controversy of the Year
DVD Company of the Year
Classic Most in Need of DVD Release
Writer of the Year
Monster Kid of the Year

A laurel of Wolfbane should be placed on the tireless and humble head of David Colton for organizing the poll and tabulating the results, and a bouquet of Bat Thorn to Kerry Gammill for designing the award itself, an ultra-cool bust of our beloved Rondo Hatton. Vote now at:

Taking full advantage of the hype that will no doubt attend the Spring release of their big-budget monster rally, "Van Helsing," Universal is releasing Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolf Man DVD mega-packs, labeled "Legacy Collections," this April.

The "Dracula: The Legacy" set includes the Lugosi classic accompanied by film historian David Skal's commentary, Skal's "Dracula" documentary, "Dracula's Daughter," "Son of Dracula," House of Dracula" and the 1931 Spanish "Dracula."

"Frankenstein: The Legacy Collection" features the Karloff "Frankenstein," with audio commentary from historian Rudy Behlmer, Dave Skal's "Frankenstein" documentary, "Bride of Frankenstein" featuring commentary from author Scott MacQueen, Skal's "Bride of Frankenstein" documentary, "Son of Frankenstein," "Ghost of Frankenstein" and "House of Frankenstein."

"The Wolf Man: The Legacy Collection," showcases the Chaney "Wolf Man," featuring commentary from fright-film authority Tom Weaver, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," "Werewolf of London" and "She-Wolf of London."

You can also expect Hammer's "Dracula Has Risen From the Grave," "Taste the Blood of Dracula" and "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed" to be released on DVD around the same time.

William Shatner, sci-fi TV icon, race car driver, Priceline spokesman and former Promise Margarine pitchman, will be appearing at the "Creation Salute's Star Trek and Sci-Fi Media" convention in Phoenix, Ariz., on Feb. 14. Promoters hail Shatner as "one of the world's most beloved entertainers." You can express your love at this Valentine's Day tete-a-tete, but the official Web site is careful to post the following etiquette guidelines lest your affection for Captain Kirk get out of hand: "We do ask, as a courtesy to the rest of the audience, that you do not ask for hugs, kisses, favors, autographs, or telling them that you love them (we all do, that's why we're there!). While this might be fun for you, it isn't fair to everyone else to see over and over again. Let's make the appearances of our favorite celebrities interesting with good thought-provoking questions." Here's my thought-provoking question: Why does it cost 60 bucks to have your picture snapped with the actor who once told his devoted fans to "get a life?" Single day admission is $20. "Gold Seating" is 90 smackers! Of course, for this price you get priority seating at Shatner seminars, a complimentary autograph, and a "Creation-Treat Card offering you FREE gifts throughout our exhibit room." Hotel rooms are $140 per night. So, if there's $230 burning a hole in your pocket (plus air, bus, train fare or gas money), you can procure a picture of yourself side-by-side with Shatner. But don't think you can hustle home and have it on eBay within 24 hours; photo ops are mailed out AFTER the event. For more info, check out:

Fans and friends of the late Peter Cushing are hoping to raise 20,000 pounds to install a stained glass likeness of the actor in St. Alphege Church, located in the actor's hometown of Whitstable, England. According to the Peter Cushing Museum Web site, Cushing's longtime secretary and close friend, Joyce Broughton, initiated the campaign and "has given her wholehearted support to such a worthy and charitable cause." Organizers are hoping that commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Cushing's death will inspire generous contributions and that the installation of an inspirational window will be seen as a fitting memorial. "We believe that the Whitstable Museum is interested in helping with this cause," say donation co-coordinators, adding, "There is absolutely no money to be made out of this, all those involved will be working for the good of the cause and not for any monetary gain." While donation amounts will not be made public, the names of all donors will be compiled in a permanent record. Contributions in the form of cash or check can be made to:

Peter Cushing Memorial Window Appeal Joyce Broughton (Chair) or Sue Cowie (Secretary) c/o 288 Lunsford Lane Larkfield, Aylesford, Kent ME20 6HU England

Disney pulled out of the new $140 million feature "Peter Pan," because they refused to share profits from merchandising with the Great Ormond Street Hospital. The children's hospital, located in London, controls the rights to adaptations of the James Barrie play, with British copyright "extended in perpetuity by an unusual act of Parliament," according to The London Telegraph. In his will, Barrie transferred the rights to his creations, including the 1904 play, to the hospital. According to The Telegraph, "The hospital has full control over all productions of the play and is supposed to benefit financially from each subsequent adaptation." Disney execs cited all sorts of legal entanglements stemming from prior animated film projects, but a producer who worked on the new film said, "The bottom line is that they wanted a share of the merchandising but did not want to pay for it." The ongoing success of Disney's previous Peter Pan films has not benefited the hospital, although they have made occasional "one-off" payments.

DVD Planet responded to all those who placed orders for "Ed Wood: Special Edition" with the following: "We have just been informed that Disney has cancelled the release of 'Ed Wood: The Special Edition' due to unforeseen circumstances. We are going to change the title to TBA in our database in case they decide to change the release after all. This will leave your order in our system and guarantee you get a copy when the movie is released."

We told you some time ago about "The Black Forest," the forthcoming comic novel by "Frankenstein and Me" director Bob Tinnell, writer Todd Livingston and artist Neil Vokes. It's an arresting fable incorporating classic monsters and military derring-do set amid the gritty trench combat of the First World War. "If Hell were a machine," reads the promotional blurb, "the Black Forest would be its battery." The official "Black Forest" Web site is now up and running, offering a raft of salient information regarding the ambitious project. There's a synopsis, bio's and credits for each of the creators, project news updates, a list of pertinent links, a glorious and gruesome gallery showcasing samples of Vokes' atmospheric black and white artwork, and a stylish and engaging movie trailer that can be viewed in a variety of formats. The creators ask us to, "imagine a WWI where soldiers must face not only enemy artillery and mustard gas, but vampires, werewolves, an army of the living dead and the Frankenstein Monster himself." They also demonstrate an innovative flair for promotion: Tinnell, Livingston and Vokes are producing an online radio show involving characters and situations from the book, with episodes running between seven and ten minutes in length. The radio plays are set to begin a week prior to the book's March 31 release. Find out more at:
Be sure and tell the "Black Forest" team that the B Monster sent you!

Forest J. Ackerman, a man who certainly needs no introduction to cult-movie fans, slipped a check for $153,000 into the stocking of the American Cinematheque this Christmas, purchasing seat plaques that will honor 153 of his family members, friends and favorite actors, artists and magicians. Ackerman's donation is the single largest donation to name seats that the Cinematheque has ever received. Hollywood's historic Egyptian Theater, home of the American Cinematheque, will host a special screening of "Dead of Night" this February 11 as part of a special tribute to Ackerman, whose role as a collector, publisher and literary agent has been celebrated many times over the years. Among artisans to be honored with seat plaques are Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Maurice Chevalier, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Claude Rains, John Landis, Joe Dante, Willis O'Brien, Hugh Hefner, Jack Pierce, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Thurston, Blackstone, Frank R. Paul, Virgil Finlay, Barbra Streisand, Dean Martin, Hugo Gernsback and Tingaling Foo. There will also be plaques honoring Ackerman's grandfather, grandmother and late wife Wendayne.

RIALTO WRANGLES "BIG G" Rialto Pictures, a film preservation and distribution company, has acquired the original, unedited version of "Godzilla." This Japanese version, without the scenes featuring Raymond Burr, which were added later for the film's American release, has rarely been seen in theaters in the U.S. since its 1954 debut. Rialto will release the film to movie houses this spring to coincide with the big lizard's 50th birthday. Rialto was established in 1997 and has restored and re-released such film classics as "The Third man," "Eyes Without A Face," "Peeping Tom," "Grand Illusion" and "Nights of Cabiria." It's a treat to see luminous prints of such cinematic gems on the big screen, and many are now or soon will be available on DVD and/or video. Here's hoping the original "Big G" gets the distinguished DVD release he deserves. You can find out more at:
And, by all means, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

Congratulations New York! You've broken the "10 Buck Barrier." That's right, selected Loews theaters in New York City now charge $10.25 to see a movie. (Kids get in for a mere $6.25.) Some United Artists theaters will be following suit. What a deal! Imagine, only 10 bucks to see "Torque!" A measly 10 dollars for the privilege of watching "Win a Date With Tad Hamilton" on the big screen! (Incidentally, the national average price of a movie ticket is $6.75.) As a public service, we provide the following list of OTHER things you can buy with 10 bucks:

-- Bottle of Rosewater Hand Lotion by Crabtree & Evelyn
-- The "I Love My Mommy" 4" x 6" Photo Frame by Maiden International
-- Six gallons of gas (depending on locality)
-- 14-inch Domino's thin crust pizza (one topping)
-- Half-pound box of pecan toffee
-- Ronco bagel cutter
-- 10 McDonald's "Big 'N Tasty" hamburgers (while "Dollar Menu" lasts)
-- DVD's "The 39 Steps," "The Lady Vanishes" or "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (Better still, the "Bucket of Blood"/"Giant Gila Monster" double feature.)

Seized by a festive holiday spirit, the B Monster caught the remake of "Cheaper By The Dozen" at a mega-super-mucho-multiplex theater. I snickered when the boom mike descended into frame during one shot. A few seconds later, there it was again in a different shot. And again. And again and again in shot after shot after shot throughout the entire movie. Even Ed Wood caught gaffs this obvious!! (At one point, there were TWO boom mikes showing in ONE scene.) The leads, Bonnie Hunt and Steve Martin, are good, and the film on the whole is a pleasing enough diversion, but was it really slapped together in such haste that NOBODY caught this embarrassing snafu? The Internet Movie Database message boards were abuzz with the controversy. Evidently, I wasn't the only one who noticed the intrusive mikes. But a persnickety few blamed the projectionist for framing the film incorrectly. I saw it in San Francisco, but based on the diversity of message posters, the visible boom wasn't unique to the Bay Area. Was it a nationwide conspiracy among projectionists, bent on showcasing the boom man's inadequacies, or just a poorly made film?

"The Simpson's" comic shop guy has been busy in his mother's basement, filling the ether with rumors regarding the upcoming movie about the death of actor George Reeves. The latest gossip says that Keanu Reeves (no relation ... duh!) might/maybe/could portray George in the upcoming pseudo-biopic "Truth, Justice and the American Way," which concerns the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the man who played Superman in the classic 1950s television series. With the film scheduled to begin shooting in just a month, the rumor mill continues to grind. It's been said that Viggo Mortensen is next in line should Keanu drop out, and actors as diverse as Hugh Jackman, Ben Affleck and Dennis Quaid have been considered for the part of Reeves. James Gandolfini or Benicio Del Toro might/maybe/could play the detective investigating Reeves' death. Sharon Stone or Annette Bening might/maybe/could play Reeves former lover Toni Mannix. Naomi Watts might/maybe/could play Lenore Lemmon, Reeves young girlfriend.

Actor Lee Majors has given his blessing to the upcoming feature film version of "The Six Million Dollar Man," which will star (ugh) Jim Carrey as Steve Austin, the bionic man Majors portrayed in the 1970s television series. According to the Sci Fi Channel, Majors said that he was, "very happy about the announcement that Jim Carrey is going to be the Six Million Dollar Man in the movie. I think he's a great choice." Needless to say, the Carrey vehicle will spoof the original sci-fi, action-adventure series. "I always wanted to do the thing myself, when I finished the show," said Majors. "What I wanted to do then was do a spoof of it, because I was so tired of doing it for real." One can only imagine how tiresome it will be with Carrey in the title role. Incidentally, $6 million is roughly half the actor's pay for appearing in the film.

"Orbit" is an ambitious new sci-fi-themed magazine scheduled to debut in April. The mag will be produced in the U.K. by publishers who say they're "very disappointed with the commercial mags on offer in the UK (which are usually [promotions] for the next 'Hollywood Blockbuster.' We want to produce a SF mag that has depth, substance and ideas." A glance at the articles planned for the maiden issue reveals the intended scope of the publication: There's a treatise on American SF and the Cold War, a look at female SF authors as well as female genre characters. There are three pieces on the history and future of space travel, and a look at the NYC-based "Futurians," a coterie of sci-fi authors that thrived in the late 1930s and early '40s. There's "A Brief History of SF," and the publishers will even attempt to answer that very loaded question, "What is SF?" There's a comparison of Utopian and Dystopian sci-fi and a look at cult TV icons such as Quatermass and Dr. Who. They'll celebrate "Pioneers of SF," including H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Asimov, Pohl and Bradbury, and address the possibility of time travel. There will be film reviews, interviews with such authors as David Brin, Terry Bisson and Nicola Griffith, and more. I'd call that a fairly aggressive agenda for a start-up publication. The publishers say that "we are funding the magazine ourselves and to start with it will be distributed through SF shops throughout the U.K. Hopefully if the mag starts to take off then we can look at a bigger distribution." For more info, contact:

You can add "movie star" to the resume of our pal Dr. Gangrene. The late-night TV horror host who hails from Tennessee portrays Xorto, the "master demon," in the new indy shocker "Demon Sight," produced by Ghost Ship Films. (The Gangrene show can be seen Saturday nights (Sunday morning) at 1:30 am on UPN 30.) The good doctor (aka Larry Underwood), tells us the film recently premiered at Nashville's historic Belcourt Theater. According to the official hype, "Demon Sight" is the story of "a young woman, orphaned as a child and raised by her mentally abusive adoptive mother, [who] is forced to confront supernatural creatures and her own insecurities as she realizes that the visions that have plagued her are real." The Belcourt, incidentally, is Nashville's last surviving, non-mega-multiplex, neighborhood movie house, and is operated by a non-profit group devoted to its preservation. For more about the film, the theater and the doctor, check out:
In every case, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!


It's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and based on a Disneyland theme park ride. Can you believe I'm referring to what just may be one of the best films of the year? It's a splendid spectacle, snappily paced, handily directed, beautifully lit and photographed, filled with smart dialogue brought to life by gifted actors. The Klaus Badelt, Hans Zimmer score is robust but not intrusive (unlike the drenching, syrupy strings John Williams or one of his imitators might have supplied). You can look down your nose at the "theme park" movie, but no other film of the past year boasts all of the above attributes. Director Gore Verbinski's resume is hit ("Mouse Hunt') and miss ("The Mexican"). This one's a hit. If the Oscar contest weren't a phony, fixed, mutual back-patting exercise, he'd win the best director award for his exemplary coordination of exhilarating battle scenes and tension-filled predicaments. The camera sweeps across properly garish scenery to establish atmosphere, and remains stationary on the actor's countenance when dramatic punctuation is in order. No jiggly, grainy, gimmicky, hand-held nonsense. Often, establishing shots are bracketed by drooping foliage, ship's rigging or some other admirably mood-setting silhouette. The special effects are great and used judiciously with very few gross-out shots, the most grisly of which involves a one-eyed sailor's glass eye. The sword-wielding cadavers are direct descendents of the skeletons that menaced Harryhausen's Jason; the inspiration is clear.

Johnny Depp, easily the most versatile actor working today (see next review), is terrific. His Captain Jack Sparrow makes one of the great entrances in adventure film history, standing proudly atop the mast of his battered ship as it sinks beneath him. This brilliant shot tells us everything we need to know about his character. Don't we all wish we could summon such bravado at the direst moment? A bedraggled but cunning wastrel; he's an existentionalist with a heart of gold. If these traits seem irreconcilable, I refer you to this character. His drunken body language is a performance to be cited separately from his wry delivery. (Depp himself called Jack Sparrow a cross between Keith Richards and Pepe Le Pew.) He clearly put heart and soul into this part. It's a gimmicky performance -- and WHO CARES? Let's leave the crying to Sean Penn. Depp is, at once, dashing and dastardly, quipping during swordplay much in the fashion of the classic Rathbone/Flynn confrontations in "Robin Hood." Depp isn't the athlete that Errol Flynn was, but it isn't difficult to imagine Flynn assaying the role of the rum-loving rake Jack Sparrow were he around today. Again, if the Oscar contest weren't a phony, fixed, mutual back-patting exercise, Depp would win the best actor award.

If Depp owes a debt to Flynn, and the cursed cadavers are of the Harryhausen lineage, surely Geoffrey Rush channeled Robert Newton just a bit, as he's given to growling the "arrs" and "arghs" that Newton made a part of the pirate film lexicon with his performance as Long John Silver in Disney's 1950 "Treasure Island." Rush is laudably intimidating as the evil Captain Barbossa, and proves himself adept at comic timing, lacing his delivery with sarcastic flourishes. Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom are likewise convincing, as is Jack Davenport in the largely thankless role as Depp's proper Royal Navy nemesis and Bloom's romantic rival.

I have some quibbles. It's too long, and youngsters (yes, you can actually let your kid watch a Jerry Bruckheimer movie!) may get a little lost as the secret of the curse gets parsed out midway through the film. And I get the feeling they couldn't decide just where to end the movie. It's as though they shot the perfect ending, and then decided to add just a bit more, and still a bit more, as though appeasing the concerns of various test audiences who demanded to know the fates of each and every character. Just the same, the conclusion is satisfying enough. There's a treasure chest of DVD extras including behind-the-scenes stuff, deleted scenes, bloopers, a "making of" documentary and audio commentary from Depp, Verbinski, Knightley, Bruckheimer and others.

It's your fault. And mine. The so-called "Monster Kids" like us dominate the popular culture. We write the stories, draw the comics, edit the magazines, make the toys and produce the movies. The same curious and enthusiastic youngsters who stayed up late to watch "Son of Frankenstein" and "Attack of the Crab Monsters" are responsible for "Species" and "Sphere" and "Stargate" and "Event Horizon" and "Below" and "Ghost Ship" and "Cabin Fever" and the myriad remakes, homages and quick-buck, in-name-only hack jobs being rammed down the throats of our kids. Today's kids don't have their own culture (unless you count Snoop Dog and Gameboy as "culture"), they have OUR culture redux. And so, movies like "Blade II" will continue to pop out of the horror mill for many years to come. The film is intrinsically good. Director Guillermo Del Toro (a fanboy of "our" vintage) knows how to move the camera and splatter the blood. Oh, the blood. Every scene is drenched with it.

The actors are good. The effects are good. The photography is good. The choreographed swordplay is well executed (Hollywood is only now noticing and employing what has been common to Asian cinema for decades). If you like this sort of slash and gash, gut-spilling, fast-paced horror, then you'll find no better example. Like I said, technically, it's well done. But when is somebody in movieland going to realize that all of the hoary cliches are played? Soooo played. The snarling, taciturn, embittered hero. The uneasy alliance with a former enemy. The black leather. The shades. The rain-slick streets. The Neolithic color palette. The snappy one-liners that follow every graphic death. (And quite often, there's at least one scene in a strip joint with a half-naked pole dancer.) I understand, the filmmakers are repressed schoolboys getting their rocks off. And nothing will change as long as other repressed schoolboys continue to plunk down up to 10 bucks to get their gory rocks off vicariously. Horror fans feel validated by Hollywood and so will brook no criticism of their genre. But if you don't recognize what is bad, or cliched, or, to put it charitably, less than innovative, how do things improve? Do we really want to look back on this moment in pop-culture history and reflect on what an unrelentingly dark, cynical and complacent oeuvre we produced? Like I said, "Blade II" is well made. So is my 1990 Honda. It's a sturdy car. And Hondas haven't changed much since 1990. They roll off the assembly line by the thousands, each sleek and shiny car exactly like the last. Is that the way you want your movies?

First things first: It means SYNthesized GENetic ORganism. Syngenor is a new breed of super soldier being developed by a company called Norton Cyberdyne for use in desert warfare. A company promotional video shown at board meetings predicts that the next world conflict will occur in the Middle East (prescient as the film was made in 1990, prior to the USA's FIRST engagement with Iraq). Built for sandy combat, it is revealed that the Syngenor are vulnerable to water (wouldn't the enemy figure this out sooner or later?) telegraphing the outcomes of conflicts to follow. Don't expect novel plot twists or stirring characterizations. The acting is poor (David Gale of "Re-Animator" hams shamelessly, Lewis Arquette in a smallish role fares a little better) and the script poorer. The film's approach to horror is dismayingly (and probably intentionally) adolescent (the film is less than a minute old before hookers and penis jokes come into play; three minutes in, and there's a topless scene). It's dismaying because there are some talented individuals associated with the production. Effects aces Robert and Dennis Skotak are listed as consultants. Doug Beswick's Creature Shop constructed the Syngenor. Bill Malone, who help immeasurably with some of Bob Burns' legendary Halloween spook shows, designed the creature, based on a denizen that had previously appeared in a film he directed called "Scared to Death." And good old David Hewitt, the man who gave us "Monsters Crash the Pajama Party" and "The Mighty Gorga," is credited as an optical coordinator.

By now, you should be getting the impression that the behind-the-scenes trivia (a peek into the Beswick monster factory is a DVD bonus feature) is FAR more interesting than the resulting film, a prurient horror hodgepodge. It's as though someone gave a local theater group just enough money to crank out a "Terminator"/"Alien" hybrid ("Terminalien?"). Their zeal for the material shows. Unfortunately, so do flubs in continuity and lack of attention to detail. We're told repeatedly that the Syngenor are (is?) all-powerful warriors impervious to conventional weapons, but when a team of company commandos (laughably outfitted in plastic armor) is dispatched to eliminate them, the "unstoppable" creatures succumb to gunfire. Worse still, our hero and heroine duck into a crawl space to avoid one of the pursuing creatures (sound familiar?) A Syngenor punches through the wall and begins to choke our leading man. How does he escape its clutches? He BITES the monster's hand as it squeals and releases him! (C'mon, guys.)


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

ClassicSciFi.com http://www.classicscifi.com

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

Bob Madison, founder and CEO of Dinoship, Inc. http://www.dinoship.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.dinoship.com


"See the deadly cave of forbidden gold!" -- Cat-Women of the Moon

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