JULY 2000

All of us here at B Monster Central hope you're enjoying the same sweltering summer we're experiencing. Sit back, chill out and recharge your electrolights with the following cocktail of B-movie ephemera!


Andrew Faulds
Actor and House of Commons member Andrew Faulds died at a nursing home in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He was 77. Cult-film followers may recognize Faulds from his roles in "The Crawling Eye," "Blood of the Vampire" and "Jason and the Argonauts." He was also known to British radio audiences as Jet Morgan, star of the radio series "Journey Into Space."

Faulds was born in Tanzania, the son of a Presbyterian missionary. After appearing in nearly three dozen films, he was elected to Parliament in 1966. He was blunt and outspoken, staunchly supporting the Palestinian cause, and calling for the execution of white Rhodesian leader Ian Smith after the nation gained its independence from Britain. He also opposed Britain's military campaign to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982. Faulds retired in 1997.

David Tomlinson
British character actor David Tomlinson has died in a Buckinghamshire Hospital following a series of strokes. He was 83. Tomlinson's acting career began in 1940, and lasted nearly four decades. He appeared in dozens of British productions including "Fame Is The Spur," "I See A Dark Stranger," "Sleeping Car To Trieste" and "Tom Jones." He was perhaps best known for his roles in the Disney films "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "The Love Bug" and, most notably as the stuffy family patriarch in "Mary Poppins." Cult-movie watchers will recall Tomlinson from "War Gods of the Deep," the Jacques Tourneur-directed fantasy starring Vincent Price, Susan Hart and Tab Hunter. His final film was 1979's "The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu," opposite Peter Sellers.


A film festival headlined by Gregory Walcott, the star of Ed Wood's beloved and infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space," is planned for early autumn. In the actor's own words, "'The Gregory Walcott Film Festival' is in high gear in my home town of Wilson, N.C. The enthusiastic committee is pulling out all the stops with lots of effort for the event this Sept. 21-22. I am very impressed. "Plan Nine" is one of their feature screenings with me there to answer questons after the showing. It is going to be quite an event."

CyberAge Books, an imprint of Information Today, Inc., has a nifty new tome we'd like to recommend: "net.people, The Personalities and Passions Behind The Web Sites." Every imaginable type of site is profiled -- comics, sports, dating, doctors, travel, horse breeding -- and, of course, movies. Authors Thomas E. Bleier and Eric C. Steinert include a lengthy, lavishly illustrated (not to mention flattering) profile of The B Monster. We salute their noble effort to turn the spotlight on some of the Web's unheralded heroes. Pick up a copy from your local bookseller or look 'em up at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com

He's a sampling of what syndicated columnist Tom Shales had to say about the Sci Fi Channel's new "Invisible Man" series: "A couple of set-piece action sequences have some zip, but otherwise it's a zipless dud. It's also something of a cheat, because it's much more "fi" than "sci," with special effects kept to an economical minimum. ... This time the invisible man is a rotten louse. He should get lost altogether, which shouldn't be difficult for him. . . . Spend 10 minutes with this imbecile, whose name is Darien, and you'll wish he were not only invisible but nonexistent as well ... executive producer Matt Greenberg has made a huge miscalculation in an effort to give his show an "edge" and to make the invisible man a tough, cool, macho antihero. ... Though they stint on special effects, the producers pour on plenty of violence and gore. ... To which Greenberg adds acres of corn. He writes some of TV's hokiest dialogue ever. Perhaps it's supposed to be self-parody, but it comes off as just laughably bad. ... As an angry retort to his brother, [Darien] barks, 'Would you star-69 reality, man?' ... snarling and sputtering obnoxiously and grabbing [people] when he gets angry, [Vincent] Ventresca as Darien is a boob, a boor and a bore." Ouch!

The folks at Marco Polo have recently released "Roy Webb: Music From the Films of Val Lewton." John Morgan has lovingly reconstructed Webb's scores from such cult-classics as "Cat People," "Bedlam," "The Seventh Victim," "The Body Snatcher" and "I Walked With a Zombie." These reconstructions, as performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, are proof that Webb, who passed away in 1982, was an underrated craftsman and an undeniably talented composer. For more information on this and other Marco Polo offerings visit http://www.hnh.com

Also coming from reconstructionist John Morgan and conductor William T. Stromberg are faithful replications of Max Steiner's scores for "Son of Kong" and "The Most Dangerous Game." Truth be told, Steiner's music may be the best thing about the well-intentioned, but limp, sequel to the big daddy of all adventure movies. Of particular interest is the redo of the Tin Pan Alley ditty "Runaway Blues," belted out by Helen Mack in the film. As many fantasy-film buffs already know, "Game" was an economical thriller utilizing Fay Wray and the "Kong" sets, and a more compact, energetic hour you're not likely to spend in front of the tube. This is due in no small measure to Steiner's relentless score. Look for an early 2001 release.

Kim Newman's new book, "Apocalypse Movies: End of the World Cinema," is available from St. Martin's Griffin with an insightful intro by author, screenwriter, "Black Lagoon Bugle" publisher and world's foremost authority on "The Outer Limits," David Schow. Newman is the author of "Bad Dreams" and "Judgement of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959," among others. Topics tackled in this concise collection include "Monsters & Mutants," "Norms vs. Mutates" and "Learning to Love the Bomb." For more details, check out Schow's personal site at http://www.gothic.net/~chromo

There's an audio book version of "This Island Earth" in the works. Producer and creative consultant Don Long has lined up the star of the sci-fi film classic, Rex Reason, to read the Raymond F. Jones novel, which served as the inspiration for the film. Production is scheduled to begin in July with an eye toward an autumn release. Stay tuned for details.

Fans of the "Tall, Dark and Gruesome" Christopher Lee can now keep up with the Brit horror king via his recently launched fan club Web page. As Lee himself points out, "This site is for the benefit of each and every person who has faithfully supported my work over the years, for now and in the future, and I hope will answer some of the questions that you would like to put to me. I shall also keep you informed of current, recent and future projects." As of now, the site is a little thin on content, but ambitious, nonetheless. There's a list of Lee's current projects, a biography, an abbreviated photo gallery, filmography, a list of other Lee links, books for sale and a merchandise page that, for now, is limited to a single poster. The actor's personal comments are also given ample play: "I do hope you enjoy the website and happy film going for many years to come." Check it out at http://www.christopherleefanclub.com

If you thought we could go a whole newsletter without mentioning yet another Hollywood retread, think again. Those rascally Farrely Brothers ("There's Something About Mary," "Me, Myself & Irene") are reportedly in talks with comic Chris Rock to star in their production "The Six BILLION Dollar Man." It's unclear whether the title refers to the actor's salary or the character he'll play. And before you ask, yes, Lee Majors, star of the original "Six MILLION Dollar Man," plans to make a cameo appearance.


Q: I've heard that only half of the footage for the climax of "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" was actually used, the other half ending up on the cutting room floor. Does any of this lost footage still exist?

A: The ending of the original script does differ from the movie. The climax as written has William Hudson brandishing a gun and shooting Allison Hayes in the face as she carts him away. But, to our knowledge, these scenes were never actually filmed.

Q: Who's the middle-age guy in the business suit who steps up to sing a little number called "Tongue Tied" during the party sequence in "Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow?"

A: That's Jimmy Maddin, who's credited as the film's musical director. Maddin also wrote and sang the classic "Lead Foot," which was used as the theme of another AIP gem called "Roadracers" (which, incidentally, was released as a double feature with Dick Contino's "Daddy-O.").

We confess, this is among our very favorite Lugosi films -- which is not to say it's an outstanding example of filmcraft -- but is it ever fun! Lugosi stars as Dr. Paul Carruthers (?), a scientist employed by a major company that cheats him out of the profits accruing from his inventions. To exact his revenge, Lugosi breeds gigantic, electro-charged bats, which are attracted to a shaving lotion he's been developing. He convinces his enemies to splash it on, they step outside and, whammo, a giant bat swoops in for the kill.

Directed by B-movie workhorse Jean Yarbrough ("House of Horrors," "The Brute Man"), there are definitely rough patches, but the script is punched up with the occasional clever line. In fact, it contains one of B-moviedom's most entertaining exchanges: Lugosi offers his lethal lotion to an unsuspecting victim, quipping "I don't think you'll ever use anything else." Dave O'Brien ("Spooks Run Wild," "The Spider Returns") is on board as the nominal hero, ace reporter Johnny Layton, who stumbles onto Lugosi's vengeful scheme.

As you might expect, this gem comes our way via the good folks at Englewood Entertainment, who are also the distributors of the following entry:

All you really need to know is that Lou Costello plays Stanley Livingston (get it?) -- that's probably the funniest thing about this lame chapter in the Abbott & Costello canon. There's a threadbare plot about books and diamonds and lion tamers -- in fact, real-life animal tamers Clyde Beatty and Frank Buck appear as themselves (which is probably of little cultural relevance to a generation more familiar with Siegfried and Roy). Shemp Howard works hard to wring a few laughs out of the proceedings, and both Max and Buddy Baer are on hand as Boots and Grappler, respectively. Director Charles Barton saw A&C through "Buck Privates Come Home," "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (arguably their best big-screen outing) and others, but their combined talents simply can't overcome the material.

Johnny Depp loves to take chances. Few stars have been so daring in their choice of material. Sometimes it works out ("Benny & Joon," Jim Jarmusch's "Dead Man,"), sometimes it doesn't ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "The Astronaut's Wife"). This time it doesn't, but Depp isn't entirely to blame. A batch of half-baked Devil movies such as "Stigmata" and "End of Days" came out at around the same time, and there's just nothing to distinguish this one from the Satanic pack.

Depp plays Dean Corso, a researcher of rare books hired by sinister Frank Langella to find the two remaining copies of the ancient "Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness," which supposedly contains the key to conjuring up Satan himself. We've seen it all before, but this time, with Roman Polanski at the helm, it should have been better. It just isn't. It's pretentious and predictable and, in the end, just another Devil movie.


BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION #2: Ape Man / Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla / White Zombie
A more mixed bag of Bela you're not likely to find, from the ultra-cheap "Ape Man" to the execrable "Brooklyn Gorilla" to the melodramatic and altogether unnerving "White Zombie." If you have a friend in need of a Lugosi crash-course, this package from Slingshot is the perfect primer.

SCREAM GEMS #1: House On Haunted Hill/ The Bat/ Horror Hotel
Likewise, this Slingshot set could well serve as a novice's introduction to the best and worst of Vincent Price. "House on Haunted Hill" may well be our favorite Price film, while "The Bat" is a stone bore. Rounding out the package is Amicus Studios' maiden offering, the atmospheric 1960 chiller "Horror Hotel."

SCREAM GEMS #2: Teenagers From Outer Space/ First Spaceship on Venus/ Killers From Space/Phantom From Space
One final offering from the folks at Slingshot. True, these titles all involve aliens and outer space in one way or another, but how did the distinctly European "First Spaceship on Venus" slip into the mix? It's sandwiched between that evergreen camp classic, "Teenagers From Outer Space," and two of W. Lee Wilder's bizarro sci-fi shockers.

We don't claim to understand the appeal of director Jesus Franco's films, but it's our duty to inform you that Image Entertainment has released this, his first film to gain any international recognition, on DVD. One generous critic points out that the movie "[strikes] a genuine chord of Gothic horror reminiscent of the great classics of Universal, and the silent masterworks of Germany's UFA." That's what we call an overstatement.

Anchor Bay's deluxe edition of the third (and many think best) of Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" trilogy comes with all the trimmings. -- Production stills and storyboards -- A director's cut incorporating 15 minutes of additional footage and an alternate ending -- Deleted footage not found in the director's cut or the original theatrical release -- Running commentary from director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell

With the buzz about Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" remake steadily building, Fox Home Video will release a 150,000-copy limited edition "Planet of the Apes" boxed set. The special edition collects "Planet of the Apes," "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," "Escape From the Planet of the Apes," "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" and "Battle for the Planet of the Apes." A sixth disc containing interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, conceptual art, storyboards and a two-hour documentary, "Behind the Planet of the Apes," is part of the package.


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 through Midnight Marquee Press or 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

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