Right out of the gate we're going to plug "The Crater Kid," a bright new star on the sci-fi horizon. The splashy, full-color, retro-futuristic daily comic strip, syndicated via the Internet, makes its debut TODAY (Jan. 1, 2000.) The six-gun-totin' star of the strip finds himself forced into the role of hero by the naive inhabitants of planet Meta 4.

It's easy to add the strip to your own web page by cutting and pasting a simple code. The strip will be served to your page automatically, or you can simply visit the official site each day for the latest installment. You can also have the strip sent to you each weekday, via e-mail, by visiting the sight at http://www.craterkid.com and signing up.

The Kid will see his full-color print debut in the forthcoming issue of Steve Conley's "Astounding Space Thrills," to be published by Image Comics early in 2000 -- same lovable characters, totally different stories. "Space Ghost," "Robot Monster," "Mad" magazine, "Calvin and Hobbes," Dizzy Gillespie -- an unlikely mix, but if any of the above sparks your imagination, you're bound to love The Kid.


Clayton Moore
The actor known around the world as the Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, is dead at 85, the victim of an apparent heart attack. Beginning with the Lone Ranger's television debut in 1949, Moore virtually became the character, and insisted on maintaining the Ranger's integrity on screen and off, sometimes refusing lucrative commercial opportunities that might demean the character's standing as a role model for children.

Moore was born in Chicago and worked as a circus performer and model before emigrating to Hollywood in the 1930s. He appeared in small roles in films such as "The Cowboy From Brooklyn" with Dick Powell, "Crime School" with Humphrey Bogart and "The Son of Monte Cristo" with Louis Heyward. B-film fans will recall Moore's appearance in "Black Dragons" opposite Bela Lugosi, and the serials "Perils of Nyoka," "The Crimson Ghost" and "Radar Men From the Moon."

Moore starred in 170 episodes of "The Lone Ranger" series, as well as two big-screen films featuring the character. The series ended in 1957, but Moore maintained an exhausting schedule of public appearances as the character. "I just wanted to meet the fans and give them an opportunity to meet the Lone Ranger," Moore said in his autobiography. "These wonderful people have given so much to me, I just wanted to give something back." In 1979, with plans to mount a new, big-screen version of "The Lone Ranger," the Wrather Corporation, owners of the Lone Ranger character, issued a restraining order forbidding Moore from wearing the trademark mask and costume in public. Following overwhelming public outcry, the order was rescinded.

Moore was always proud of the fact that the Ranger's Native American friend, Tonto, was treated as an equal and not an underling, and of the example the Lone Ranger set for young people to follow. "Until the day I am taken to that big ranch in the sky, I will continue to wear the mask proudly and to try my best to live up to the standards of honesty, decency, respect, and patriotism that have defined the Lone Ranger since 1933."

Marilyn Harris
Marilyn Harris, the actress best known as the little girl drowned by the monster in the 1932 version of "Frankenstein" has died. The cause of death was not immediately known. A large portion of the scene in which Boris Karloff as the monster, tosses little Maria into a pond, was cut before the film's release. Only in recent years have fans been able to see a restored version of the film including the scene in its entirety.

"Frankenstein" director, James Whale, also cast Harris in his version of "Show Boat." In the just-released DVD "Bride of Frankenstein" package, commentator Scott MacQueen points out Harris in the crowd of children the monster encounters after fleeing the blind hermit's house. Gregory Mank's "Women In Horror Film's, Vol. 1:1930s," contains an informative piece on Harris life and work. You'll find it at the McFarland & Co. web site: http://www.mcfarlandpub.com

John Archer
John Archer, the actor best remembered for leading an intrepid lunar expedition in George Pal's classic film, "Destination Moon," has died of lung cancer. He was 84. Born Ralph Bowman, Archer first rose to prominence by answering the call to audition live on a radio program called "Gateway to Hollywood." As a winner, he was awarded an RKO Pictures contract and a new name. He made his screen debut in the 1939 feature "Career," opposite Anne Shirley.

Archer was also one of several radio performers to intone "The Shadow's" sinister laugh and trademark phrase, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" Concurrent with work on Broadway, Archer appeared in more than 50 films, including "Sherlock Holmes in Washington" (which also starred his first wife, Marjorie Lord), "Guadalcanal Diary" and the James Cagney classic "White Heat."

Rex Allen
Singing cowboy star Rex Allen, 78, was killed when his caretaker accidentally ran him over with a car. Police said it was unclear whether Allen had fallen before the car backed over him. Allen made his big-screen debut in the 1949 feature "Under Arizona Skies." Nicknamed "The Arizona Cowboy," he went on to make more than 20 features for Republic Studios, whose stable of stars also included Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

Following hit recordings, such as "Streets of Laredo," Allen turned his talents to voice-over work, narrating 80 wildlife films for Disney in the 1960s, as well as the animated feature "Charlotte's Web."

Desmond Llewelyn
Desmond Llewelyn, the actor known to millions of moviegoers as "Q," the cantankerous mechanic who constructed myriad memorable gadgets for superspy James Bond, is dead at 85, the victim of a head-on car crash near Firle, England. Beginning with 1963's "From Russia With Love," Llewelyn became one of the series' fixtures, devising a dazzling array of tools that ranged from 007's gadget-laden Aston Martin sports car, to exploding toothpaste.

Llewelyn's first film was the 1939 feature, "Ask A Policeman," but service in World War II interrupted his movie career. He later appeared in films such as "Cleopatra" (1963) and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968). He can currently be seen in the latest Bond saga "The World is Not Enough." For the record, Llewelyn stated that his favorite 007 gadget was the grenade-pen featured in 1995's "GoldenEye."

Barry Mahon
Director, producer, writer and sometime actor, Barry Mahon is dead at 78. The films Mahon produced ran the gamut from "Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico" to "Thumbelina." In addition to dozens of "nudie" features, cult-film fans may recognize titles such as "Rocket Attack U.S.A.," "The Dead One" and "The Beast That Killed Women" that Mahon directed in the 1960s. Another movie oddity directed by Mahon was Errol Flynn's final film, "Cuban Rebel Girls," which starred Flynn's teenage girlfriend, Beverly Aadland. Mahon was a prisoner of war in World War II, and it's been said that Steve McQueen's character in "The Great Escape," Virgil Hilts, was based partly on him.


Though plans for a "Hideous Sun Demon" sequel never quite panned out, sci-fi icon Robert Clarke isn't slipping quietly into retirement just yet. Currently in the works is a comedy called "Kings of Horror," which features Clarke as a veteran horror-film star whose bitter rivalry with a former co-star is rekindled by an "Ed Wood-type, low-to-no-budget filmmaker." According to the publicity, "a second classic-era movie star will sign on pending final negotiations. Production is scheduled to begin in May of 2000." Check out the official web site at http://www.kingsofhorror.com

Where is Sir Graves Ghastly these days? You just might find the answer at the "TV Horror Hosts" web site. Even if your local station didn't have a late-night horror host when you were a kid (unimaginable!), you're likely to have a good time surfing through this site. From A. Ghastlee Ghoul to Zacherley, they're all here. Check it out at http://www.webring.org/cgi-bin/webring?ring=jeepersring;list

To absolutely no one's surprise, Universal has announced plans to remake "The Phantom of the Opera." Surmising that the very idea wasn't bad enough, they've decided to update the 1911 novel to a contemporary New York setting. Director Alfonso Arau is currently in negotiations with the studio. Bill Pullman is slated to play one of Lon Chaney's thousand faces. 999 others are yet to be cast. (Just kidding ... but would it really surprise you?)

According to Variety, actor John Hannah, who portrayed Jonathan Carnahan in last summer's so-so (but mega-moneymaking) "Mummy" remake, will return, along with star Brendan Fraser for the sequel.


Q: Help me out. I'm looking for a British sci-fi film, circa 1950s. The American star was, I believe, Howard Duff. What is it and where can I find it on video?

A: It was indeed Duff and the film was "Spaceways." The good folks at Englewood Entertainment tell us they're soon to release the British space opera on video. Here's hoping it's up to the standards of crystal clarity established by previous prints released by Englewood.

Q: I'm not only a B-movie nut, but a comics and animation fanatic as well! A particular favorite is the Hanna-Barbera version of "The Fantastic Four." Why does the voice of Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, sound so darned familiar?

A: Mr. Fantastic was voiced by one of the B Monster's favorite journeyman actors, Gerald Mohr, who starred in "Angry Red Planet," "Terror in the Haunted House" and many others. For more on Mohr, check out our story on "Terror in the Haunted House" director Harold Daniels at http://www.bmonster.com/cult2.html

Q: I was excited to read in your last newsletter about the forthcoming DVD releases of "Creature From the Black Lagoon" and "It Came From Outer Space." Will they be released in their original 3-D format?

A: Our ace correspondent and resident historian, Tom Weaver, who'll provide the fact-filled voice-over for both films, reports that the DVDs will be released in 2-D. (Tom, incidentally, continues to garner rave reviews for the outstanding commentary he provided for the recently released "Wolf Man" DVD.)

Those of you who didn't catch "The Astronaut's Wife" as it zipped through theaters didn't miss a thing. But, if you're a Johnny Depp completist, (Depp's good, the movie's a snoozer) the film will be released on video and DVD next month. Perhaps anticipating that this droning story of alien-possessed astronauts will be a DVD dud, New Line is loading on extras that include a "Lord of the Rings" Internet browser. It's the first of myriad "Rings" goodies that will pop up on other releases to hype director Peter Jackson's forthcoming trilogy based on the J.R.R. Tolkien books.

"I've got a great idea for a movie. How about vicious, man-eating sharks? BIG ONES! The sharks are like, really smart and big, and eat guys, and stuff. It's never been done! I don't know how I come up with this stuff!" The twist in this predictable tale is, the sharks are genetically engineered by ambitious scientists to be more intelligent. Simply put, the producers of this lackluster film tried to go "Jaws" one better and failed.

I really wanted to like "Mystery Men." The casting is peerless (though admittedly, a little of Greg Kinnear's mugging goes a long way), and some of the dialogue is laugh-out-loud stuff. But the darn thing just doesn't jell. Once we're past the obligatory, sci-fi establishing shot (futuristic city, rain-slick, neon-laced, crime-ridden) there's 40 minutes of exposition. The best character, Janeane Garafolo's The Bowler, doesn't even turn up until the thing is half over. There's a fun movie hiding in there somewhere. Maybe you should try to find it.


And now, in accordance with your demands, we present all of our terrific, topical, tongue-in-cheek top-10 lists, gathered in one place for easy perusal, in no particular order.

Frankenstein's 10 least successful pick-up lines

1. The Bride just doesn't understand me.
2. Drink ... good!
3. We belong dead -- oops, did I just say that out loud?
4. Say, babe -- that's me on that 32-cent postage stamp.
5. Can you believe I bought this sport coat right off the rack?
6. Your torch says "no," but your eyes say "yes."
7. I may seem old, but I've got the body of a 19-year-old -- and a 33-year-old -- and a 41-year-old -- and a 56-year-old ...
8. There's a reason they call me the "Transylvania Babe Magnet."
9. Yo! Yo! Stein Daddy in the house!
10. What's a guy with a flat head and two bolts in his neck gotta do to get some action in this hick town?

10 Abbott & Costello movies that never got made

1. Abbott & Costello Meet Hannibal Lechter
2. Abbott & Costello Meet the White House Interns
3. Abbott & Costello Confront Their Troubled Childhoods
4. Abbott & Costello's Needs Are Met
5. Abbott & Costello Meet The Computer-Generated Abbott & Costello
6. Abbott & Costello: Gettin' Jiggy With It
7. Abbott & Costello in Grouchland
8. Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy Remake and Aren't Really All That Scared
9. Abbott & Costello and The Great CB Smoky Convoy
10. When Animals Attack Abbott & Costello

Top 10 caregivers available through my HMO

1. Dr. Caligari
2. The Abominable Dr. Phibes
3. Dr. Death, Seeker of Souls
4. The Awful Dr. Orloff
5. Doctor Satan's Robot
6. The Mad Doctor of Blood Island
7. Doctor Blood 8. Doctor Butcher
9. The Horrible Dr. Hichcock
10. Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man"

Top 10 least favorite B-movie vacation spots

1. Haunted Hill
2. Zombietown
3. Amityville
4. Island of Lost Souls
5. Voodoo Island
6. Monster Island
7. Frankenstein Island
8. The Town That Dreaded Sundown
9. Black Lagoon
10. Kingdom of the Spiders

Top 10 "It" movies

1. It
2. It Conquered the World
3. It Came From Outer Space
4. It! The Terror From Beyond Space
5. From Hell It Came
6. It Came From Beneath The Sea
7. It's Alive
8. It Lives Again
9. It's Alive III: Island of the Alive
10. It Happened at the World's Fair

Top 10 "I" movies

1. I, the Jury
2. I Was A Teenage Werewolf
3. I Was A Teenage Frankenstein
4. I Was A Communist For The FBI
5. I Wake Up Screaming
6. I Was A Shoplifter
7. I Walked With A Zombie
8. I Drink Your Blood
9. I Eat Your Skin
10. The Eye Creatures

Who our alien conquerors will destroy first when they get here

1. Michael Bolton
2. Kenny G
3. Any singer who's done a "duet" album with a dead celebrity
4. Female talk show hosts who refer to another woman as "girlfriend"
5. Writers who use the phrase "smacks of"
6. Anyone still wearing their baseball caps backward
7. Any celebrity that does a "dial 10-10 and save" commercial
8. MCI telemarketers who want you to switch to Sprint
9. Sprint telemarketers who want you to switch to MCI
10. The spaceship in front of them that had their turn signal on all the way but never turned

Who our alien conquerors might spare on one condition

1. Billy Crystal, only if he promises never to host the Academy Awards again
2. Burt Reynolds, only if he'll pick one toupee and stick with it
3. Bruce Willis (see above)
4. Sigourney Weaver, only if the next Alien film features her uncle "Doodles"
5. David Letterman, if he'll just tell us what he's so damned angry about
6. Garry Shandling, only if he promises to bring back "The Larry Sanders Show"
7. Regis Philbin, only if "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" agrees to pay the taxes on the million; either that, or change the name to "Who Wants to Be a Thousandaire After Taxes"
8. Hollywood Big Shots, only if they promise to never, EVER again make a feature film based on a lame, 1960s TV show
9. Fabio -- he's been through enough what with that goose-in-the-face thing
10. Michael Jackson, who they'll mistake for one of their own

Top 10 names Mary Shelley rejected before settling on "Frankenstein"
1. "Finklestein"
2. "Frankinsence"
3. "Schwarzenegger"
4. "Boutros Boutros Frankenstein"
5. "Chatsworth Osborne Jr."
6. "Dr. Puff Daddy"
7. "Tesh"
8. "Frankensteinbrenner"
9. "The Monster Formerly Known As Frankenstein"
10. "John Jacob Frankensteiner Schmidt"

Top 10 examples of "if we did the casting"

1. Keith Richards as "The Mummy"
2. Stephen Wright as the voice of Darth Vader
3. Bill Pullman and/or Bill Paxton as "The Invisible Man"
4. Randy Quaid as the Frankenstein monster (wait, that's not funny, they actually did that)
5. O.J. Simpson as "The Man They Could Not Hang"
6. George Hamilton as Leatherface
7. David Bowie in the sequel "I've Fallen to Earth and I Can't Get Up"
8. Bill Clinton as "The Thing With Two Heads"
9. Al Gore as Robbie the Robot
10. Meryl Streep as all of the above (she's just that good)

Top 10 properties to avoid when house hunting

1. House on Haunted Hill
2. House that Dripped Blood
3. Hell House
4. Castle of the Creeping Flesh
5. House of Frankenstein
6. House of Dracula
7. Castle of the Living Dead
8. House of Lurking Death
9. House of Psychotic Women
10. Dr. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks

Top 10 least likely contestants on "Love Connection"

1. Norman Bates
2. Bad Ronald
3. The Brute Man
4. The Leech Woman
5. The Faceless Man
6. The Devil's Mistress
7. Lady Frankenstein
8. The Man Without a Body
9. Fiend Without a Face
10. Man Who Turned to Stone

10 places B-movie fans will end up if they're too stubborn to ask for directions

1. Dark Side of the Moon
2. Beneath the Planet of the Apes
3. Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens
4. Beyond the Time Barrier
5. Damnation Alley
6. The Dead Zone
7. The Land That Time Forgot
8. The Lost World
9. The Lost Continent
10. The Land Unknown

Top 10 films to keep in mind when Mother's Day rolls around

1. Gypsy
2. Mommie Dearest
3. Bloody Mama
4. Big Bad Mama
5. Big Bad Mama II
6. Ma Barker's Killer Brood
7. Serial Mom
8. Psycho
9. Flesh Eating Mothers
10. Die, Die, My Darling

10 worst movies based on songs

1. The Coward of the County
2. Take This Job and Shove It
3. Frankie and Johnny
4. Yellow Submarine
5. Convoy
6. Ode to Billy Joe
7. The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
8. Kenny Rogers: The Gambler
9. Kenny Rogers: The Gambler II
10. Kenny Rogers: The Gambler III

Top 10 coolest villain names

1. Roxor
2. Ming
3. Zontar
4. Gruesome
5. Snake-That-Walks
6. Zolok
7. The Iron Claw
8. Slick Latimer
9. Purple Monster
10. Zero Quick

Top 10 coolest hero names

1. Chick Carter
2. Montana Larkin
3. Tex Houston
4. Spike Holland
5. Speed Martin
6. Congo Bill
7. Captain Africa
8. Burn 'Em Up Barnes
9. Flash Gordon
10. Rin-Tin-Tin

10 movies that prove computers are a boon to mankind

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. Colossus: The Forbin Project
3. Sex Kittens Go To College
4. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
5. WarGames
6. The Honeymoon Machine
7. Lawnmower Man
8. Demon Seed
9. Computer Beach Party
10. Death Ray 2000

Top 10 Buster Crabbe film appearances
1. Flash Gordon: Chapter 1
2. Flash Gordon: Chapter 6
3. Flash Gordon: Chapter 3
4. Flash Gordon: Chapter 8
5. Flash Gordon: Chapter 5
6. Tarzan the Fearless: Chapter 6
7. Flash Gordon: Chapter 7
8. Flash Gordon: Chapter 9
9. Flash Gordon: Chapter 12
10. Buck Rogers: Chapter 4

Top 10 least-intimidating monster names
1. Manda
2. Tromba
3. Gocko
4. Biollante
5. Mothra
6. Caltiki
7. Barugon
8. Gaos
9. Willard
10. Ben

Top 10 "Thing" movies

1. The Thing From Another World
2. Things To Come
3. The Thing
4. Godzilla vs. the Thing
5. Zontar, the Thing From Venus
6. Swamp Thing
7. Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
8. The Thing With Two Heads
9. The Return of Swamp Thing
10. That Thing You Do

Top 12 Angry Men

1. Man without a Body
2. Man They Could Not Hang
3. Man Who Haunted Himself
4. Man Without a Face
5. Man in the Iron Mask
6. Man From Gun Town
7. Man From Hell's Edges
8. Man Who Would Not Die
9. Man With the Golden Arm
10. Man Who Reclaimed His Head
11. Man Who Turned to Stone
12. Man on Fire

Top 10 books Hollywood has already optioned

1. "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Michael Jackson We're Not So Sure About"
2. Anne Rice's "Unintelligible Interview With The Mummy"
3. John Grisham's (insert legal term here)
4. Michael Crichton's "Grocery List"
5. Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's John Grisham's (insert legal term here)
6. Michael Crichton's "Used Kleenex"
7. Anne' Rice's "Really Awkward Interview With The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
8. Michael Crichton's "Stick Man I Doodled on a Matchbook Cover While Talking to My Agent"
9. "Francis Meets The Horse Whisperer"
10. Michael Crichton's "Phone Number I Jotted Down on the Back of a Little Caesar's Crazy Bread Bag I Found in My Trash Can"


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

"Remember that the screams you hear will be your own!" -- Revenge of Frankenstein

 All contents copyright The Astounding B Monster®