Pat yourself on the back. If you're reading this you survived one hell of a year. So we'll dispense with the de rigueur digital diatribe and instead offer heartfelt hopes that this year is better. No rant. You get off easy this time.


Paul Landres
B-movie director Paul Landres died of cancer at his Los Angeles home. He was 89. Landres began his film career as an editor, working on films of all genres including the Basil Rathbone-Sherlock Holmes entry, "The Scarlet Claw," "She-Wolf of London," "The Crimson Canary" and director Sam Fuller's "I Shot Jesse James." Beginning in the late 1940s, Landres graduated to directing and is perhaps best known to cult-film fans for "The Vampire" aka "Mark of the Vampire," which starred John Beal, Kenneth Tobey and Coleen Gray, and "The Return of Dracula," an efficient, atmospheric shocker featuring Francis Lederer as one of the big screen's most convincing vampires.

Landres also directed "The Flame Barrier," starring Arthur Franz and Kathleen Crowley, and the rock 'n roll showcase, "Go, Johnny, Go!" which featured Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and Richie Valens. Landres turned to TV in the 1950s, directed over 350 episodes of such programs as "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," "Bonanza," "Death Valley Days," "The Lone Ranger," "Maverick," "The Rifleman," "77 Sunset Strip," "Hawaiian Eye," "Sky King" and "Surfside 6."

Budd Boetticher
Director Budd Boetticher died of multiple organ failure at his home near Ramona, Calif. He was 85. Often cited as a "maverick" filmmaker, Boetticher is perhaps best known for a series of modestly budgeted westerns he made in collaboration with Randolph Scott in the 1950s. "Seven Men From Now," "The Tall T," "Decision at Sundown," "Buchanon Rides Alone," "Ride Lonesome" and "Comanche Station" are considered some of the very best westerns ever produced. Boetticher once called them "morality plays," wherein Scott's near-mythic integrity was tested in simple stories that nonetheless had great impact.

Prior to his film career, Boetticher was trained by two of Mexico's best-known matadors and became a professional bullfighter. He came to Hollywood as a technical adviser on director Rouben Mamoulian's 1941 version of "Blood and Sand," which starred Tyrone Power. He gradually rose through the B-movie ranks directing such potboilers as "Black Midnight," "Assigned to Danger" and "Behind Locked Doors."

Following his films with Scott, Boetticher devoted seven years to filming a documentary about bullfighter Carlos Arruza. During this time, his marriage to actress Debra Paget ended in divorce, he went bankrupt, spent a week in a mental institution after a drinking binge, served a week in jail and nearly died of pneumonia. Later, Arruza and some of Boetticher's film crew were killed in an automobile accident. Returning to Hollywood, Boetticher scripted the Clint Eastwood western "Two Mules for Sister Sara." His final directing credit was 1971's "A Time for Dying," which he co-produced with Audie Murphy.

Pauline Moore
Actress Pauline Moore, who appeared in two dozen B-pictures in the 1930s and '40s, is dead at 87. She had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Moore's career began with an uncredited part as one of Mae Clarke's bridesmaids in the 1931 "Frankenstein." She appeared in several westerns including "The Carson City Kid," "Young Buffalo Bill" and "King of the Texas Rangers" and portrayed Anne Rutledge opposite Henry Fonda in John Ford's "Young Mr. Lincoln." She also appeared in three Charlie Chan films: "Charlie Chan at the Olympics," "Charlie Chan in Reno" and "Charlie Chan at Treasure Island," which many regard as among the best in the series. She was later an inspirational speaker and a writer of poetry, short stories and religious plays.


Who is Steve Friedman and why is he known as "Mr. Movie?" Friedman hosts a call-in radio show on WPHT-AM TalkRadio in Philadelphia. Callers from 38 states and Canada regularly test his knowledge of film archania. "The nickname 'Mr. Movie' was given to me back in the early 1980's by another talkshow host," says Friedman, "because of my nearly photographic memory about all things cinematic. I've seen nearly 30,000 films (honestly!) and I can remember (selectively) almost all of them. The point is, I'm a MOVIE maniac, not an EGOmaniac! But the nickname stuck." "Mr. Movie" airs 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Philly's WPHT 1210-AM. The station's super-signal is the reason Friedman reaches so many listeners without benefit of syndication. Steve's also hosted "Movie Talk with Steve Friedman" on cable TV, covered film and entertainment for NBC TV's "News 10" for the past eight years, and served as film critic for America Online's Digital City. Oh, and he's a huge B Monster fan.

Our own walking encyclopedia of film history, Tom Weaver, has two new tomes we want to tout. "I Was a Monster Movie Maker: Conversations with 22 SF and Horror Filmmakers," from McFarland & Co., is packed with fascinating ephemera from the mouths of both the obscure and the renowned. No one is better than Weaver at pushing the buttons of the old pros, eliciting the strange, the startling and the endearing anecdote. Featured subjects include Phil Brown, Faith Domergue, Michael Forest, Anne Helm, Candace Hilligoss, Suzanna Leigh, Norman Lloyd, Maureen O'Sullivan, Shirley Ulmer and Dana Wynter. Ninety-seven rare photos round out the package.

Hard on the heels of the aforementioned release comes Weaver's "Science Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and Filmmakers." This time around the lineup includes David Hedison, Dan O'Herlihy, Eve Brent, Kate Phillips, John Alvin, Anthony Cardoza, Tod Griffin, Alex and Richard Gordon, Denny Miller, Audrey Dalton, Suzanne Kaaren, and Warren Stevens discussing "The Fly," "The Blob," "It Came from Outer Space," "Tarzan the Ape Man," "Star Trek," "The Wild Wild West," "Somewhere in Time," "The Devil Bat," and "Forbidden Planet," among others.

And if all this weren't enough, McFarland & Co. is soon to publish "Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews." This coffee table-crushing collection combines Weaver's previous "Attack of the Monster Movie Makers" and "They Fought in the Creature Features," showcasing 43 revealing interviews with the stars, writers, directors and producers who created some of our favorite (and, less charitably regarded) films. If you missed either of these volumes the first time around, the new edition is a must.
Check out: http://www.mcfarlandpub.com
You know the drill: Tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

Our buddy "The Fang" has finally set up shop on the worldwide Web. For 15 years, "The Fang" has sold top-quality, hard-to-find titles on video (his sixty-page catalog, packed with vintage ad art and video obscurities is itself a collectible!). Where else will you find "Voodoo Tiger," "The Vampire's Coffin," "Stakeout On Dope Street" and the complete Hugo Haas/Cleo Moore oeuvre all in one place? Jungle Jim, Charlie Chan, vintage trailers and classic TV, plus one sheets, half sheets and lobby cards from your favorite cult films. Hard-core horror fans will recognize "The Fang" as a perennial presence at every "Chiller" con. Now, you can visit his dark digital niche with the click of a mouse.
Check out: http://www.thefang.com
Be sure and tell him the B Monster sent you!

Come on, you remember "Mad Monster Party?" The 1967 animated puppet bash was created by the Rankin/Bass Animagic process (stop-motion photography using 3-D figures) and graced by the voice talents of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller. It surfaces on cable occasionally, usually around Halloween, and debuted on video just last year. Now, there's a Web site devoted to the film that's brimming with trivia and behind-the scenes production tidbits. In addition to a photo gallery, a bit of Rankin/Bass history and answers to some frequently asked questions, there's a lively discussion of the film's production featuring Diller, Rankin/Bass expert Rick Goldschmidt and others. (This feature was intended as a supplement to a Deluxo Video DVD project that was scrapped when Sony Columbia/Tri-Star discovered a 35mm print that was superior in quality to the existing video version.) According to the site, "Deluxo Video has ceased production of MMP on VHS due to the discovery of a newly restored, color corrected, 35mm print by Sony Pictures. Remaining supplies are limited and are on a first come first served basis. Please contact Half.com, Amazon.com, or eBay.com for availability and pricing." Anchor Bay Entertainment is scheduled to release "Mad Monster Party?" on DVD & VHS in the summer of 2002.
You can check out the site at: http://www.madmonsterparty-movie.com
Naturally, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

Attention aspiring B-movie impresarios: If you've recently produced a short film having anything to do with zombies, ghosts, ghouls, goblins -- pretty much anything that creeps, skulks, shambles or crawls -- entries are now being accepted for the Fourth Annual ZombieDance (formerly ZXZW) Film Festival to be held this March 9, 2002, in Austin, Texas. (The location has yet to be announced.) "We established the festival because we felt that zombie films weren't shown enough respect," says festival honcho Nathan McGinty. "But, over the past few years, we've always shown films that - though not necessarily featuring a zombie or member of the undead - were just too good to pass up. This year we decided to go ahead and make it official." Meaning that this year the criteria will encompass all films of a "psychotronic" nature. "If you don't know what psychotronic means," McGinty stresses, "don't waste your money on postage sending us a tape. That means YOU, art school goth kids." Deadline for entries is Feb. 1, 2002.
All the info you need can be found at: http://www.zombiedance.org.

While no one is quite sure whether or not the "e-book" concept is commercially viable, that's not to say there hasn't been an interesting attempt or two. One recent example is "The Flying Saucer Cinema" by Nigel Watson. According to publicity, "This brand new e-book looks at how the images and stories of spaceships and aliens have evolved on our cinema screens over the past 100 years." Watson is the co-author of "Supernatural Spielberg" and a contributor to Fortean Times and Magonia. He's been the publisher of Talking Pictures magazine since 1991. The 26-page book "includes exercises on every page to encourage the reader to explore and think more deeply about this intriguing area of cinema." It costs $4.99 to download.
For more information or to order a copy go to:

Our good friend and at-large book reviewer, Lawrence Woolsey, offers the following review of a unique new tome from McFarland &Co.:

Now when was the last time you wished you could find a book that says something new about the classics we all love (more or less)? Well, I found one: "The Biology of Science Fiction Cinema," by one Mark C. Glassy, a cancer researcher and horror buff at UC San Diego. The idea here is to examine a bunch of pix ranging from "White Zombie" thru "Blade" as to their scientific veracity. I know, I had the same reaction -- we all know these are just movies, sci fi, horror and fantasy at that, and are expected to have little or no relation to reality ... but I must confess that even though initially I thought this a sort of desperate gimmick to justify yet another genre-related McFarland opus, I found myself increasingly fascinated -- and yes, informed, by the entries in this book.

Each pic is broken down into categories: Synopsis, Writing credits (no auteurist tome this), Biological science principles involved, What is right with the biological science presented, What is wrong with same, What biological science is necessary to actually achieve the results in the film, and Could it actually happen. Naturally the better pix like "Them!" and "Incredible Shrinking Man" get high marks for trying harder to be realistic than "The Astro-Zombies," but there are some highly informative notes on their various scientific failings that future re-makers would do well to incorporate into their thinking. The range of movies covered is bracingly wide, and the affection of the author for most of them is palpable. Where else are you gonna find a reasoned scientific response to "Indestructible Man"? Or "House of Dracula"? Or "The Ape Man"? Or, God help us, "Horror of the Blood Monsters"? This may be the smartest book (of non-film-criticism) ever published about these pictures. I bought mine as an impulse-buy Christmas present and decided to keep it myself! (And btw, on page 257 there's a still from "Bride of Frankenstein" in which Colin Clive and Ernest Thesiger are eyeing a bespectacled contemporary-looking character who's obviously not Dwight Frye! Author, anyone?)


I didn't like this film very much, but just the same, I believe it was unfairly overlooked by critics AND audiences, considering all of the crap that's out there for kids to see. (The Washington Post named "Atlantis" one of the 10 worst films of 2001. Curiously, "Pootie Tang" and "Corky Romano" did NOT make their list). Its good points? Much of the bric-a-brac and undersea ship design is clever and the voice talent is top-notch: ingratiating, recognizable actors who nevertheless don't overshadow the material (e.g., Eddie Murphy's degrading, jive-talking jackass in "Shrek.") Its bad points? Hollywood's always predictable predictability, for starters. Even a toddler will know where this horse is going right out of the gate. More egregious is the character design. Each character -- and there are many -- is rendered in a distracting, conflicting, unique style. One is realistic, one is pure Japanamation, one is so stylized it's barely recognizable as human. The variety does NOT add spice to this mix.

At last count, Jesus Franco has directed roughly 6,000 films under about 2,000 aliases -- which in an odd coincidence is also the number of films about mad surgeons who mutilate innocent women in an attempt to restore the beauty of their dead, dying, comatose or disfigured wives -- which is what Franco's 1962 shocker, "The Awful Dr. Orloff," was about. Also known as "Gritos en la noche," (and about 20 other titles), it warranted a sequel, known in America as "Dr. Orloff's Monster." Also directed by Franco, the follow-up features the somewhat less intimidatingly named Dr. Fisherman, a demented disciple of the late Dr. Orloff, who stimulates a kill-crazy zombie into action with the aid of a high-frequency signal. According to publicity, "this [DVD features] the full length version with sequences shot especially for French audiences." (Ooh la la, you know what that means!) With or without found French footage, diehard Euro-horror completists are sure to add this Spanish- French- German- Italian- Dutch- Romanian- Latvian- Lichtensteinian- Luxembourgian co-production to their collections.

Probably the best film based on a Stephen King book. William Goldman's script is taut as a drumhead, and Rob Reiner's knack for conveying suspense is surprisingly deft. Between the two of them, not a single frame of film is wasted. Kathy Bates is appropriately over the top (and subsequently won an Oscar) as deranged nurse Annie Wilkes. James Caan, to everyone's surprise, gives a restrained performance, and the always reliable Richard Farnsworth, a criminally underrated performer who brought great humanity to any role he assumed, is absolutely terrific as the local lawman. Key scenes are served up with knuckle-whitening suspense. Some might call it a horror film. That's arguable, but then, who cares? It's scary as heck, and that's what's important.

The first video game movie (I think). Now there's a watershed worth celebrating. I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now, but there's a core group who were first exposed to the wonders of special effects via this film, and I suppose they should buy this DVD. The effects are badly dated, but I certainly don't hold that against it. (I can't very well defend "The Brain Eaters" and then proceed to denigrate the effects in "Tron.") Glitzy and innovative it may have been, but the film is just kind of flat and soulless and uninvolving.

Steven Spielberg's "Duel" meets "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," with a little of Cornel Wilde's "Gargoyles" thrown in, all set to the hummable, bouncy Johnny Mercer tune from which the film takes its name. If you're thinking these elements are too divergent to coalesce into a satisfying film, you're right. The car chase over barren desert is initially exciting, but as the film's makers add one supernatural cliche after another to the pile, the whole thing collapses. Those who disagree, take heart: "Jeepers Creepers" made back its nut and then some, and I'm confident there will be a "Jeepers Creepers II."

No television program in recent memory has delivered what its fans want so consistently. Producer Joss Whedon and the "Buffy" team take all of that neo-Goth, pierced-punk doo-doo and stand it right on its head with skewed humor served up by a likable ensemble. It's a sophisticated Archie comic come to life (yes, that's a compliment). These kids don't brood when the going gets tough. They're resourceful. (Now there's a concept.) These estimable resources often take the form of convincing battles with various ghouls that are better staged and more engaging -- week-in, week-out -- than those in most major motion pictures. B Monster buddy Michael F. Blake won a well-deserved Emmy for the stunning makeup work.


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

"Co-ed beauty captive of man-monster!" -- Monster on the Campus

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