JULY 2001

Believe it or not, on occasion, The B Monster is taken to task for his views on varying topics. As Independence Day approaches, I'm moved to respond with the following declaration: I'm sick and tired of people disagreeing with me. And I'm equally tired of having to remind you that every word, every fact, every date, every opinion, every digital utterance emanating from the B Monster is accurate and inarguably true. The nerve of anyone in our audience disputing our evaluation of a film. Don't you understand? Don't you get it? Diversity is bad. That's why this country was founded -- as a safe haven where we MUST all agree on everything at all times! And none of this namby-pamby, "It was OK, I guess." As evidenced by our voluminous mailbag, every horror or science-fiction film, without acception, is either "absolutely, totally, lame" or "the most totally friggin' awesome movie ever made." End of manifesto.


Harry Watson
Former child star Harry Watson died following a stroke at his home in Tajunga, Calif. He was 79. Watson was one of Coy and Golda Watson's nine children who grew up not far from the Mack Sennett studios. Coy found work for himself and several of his children in films. (There were six boys and three girls). Bobs Watson was perhaps the best known. The Watson kids appeared in over 1,000 films. Harry had roles in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "A Damsel in Distress," "Love Is News," and others, appearing opposite such stars as James Stewart, Fred Astaire and W.C. Fields. Watson's final film role was in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." In the early days of television, he was a cameraman at a Los Angeles station.

Russell Saunders
Movie stuntman Russell Saunders died in a nursing home in Los Angeles. The cause of death was not immediately known. He was 82. As a youngster, he'd excelled at acrobatics, diving and gymnastics. Legend has it that, as a boy, he leapt from the roof of a barn, a chicken under each arm, hoping they would enable him to fly. Saunders performed stunts in the 1951 classic "The Thing From Another World," "Shane," the 1948 version of "The Three Musketeers," Alfred Hitchcock's "Saboteur" and many others. He also played small roles in films such as "The Veils of Bagdad," "Singin' in the Rain" and "Spartacus."


We told you months ago that this "War" was in the offing. Pendragon films is now casting their big-screen version of H.G. Wells classic "War of the Worlds." According to Film Threat, they're presently pursuing Academy Award-winner Sir Michael Caine ("Jaws 4: The Revenge"), Charlize Theron ("Mighty Joe Young"), and Matthew McConaughey (Does anyone know why this guy is famous?). Director Timothy Hines seems to be going to great lengths to distance his production from the George Pal/Byron Haskin version. "I intend to cut the film as NC-17 and resubmit until the ratings board allows an R. This won't be from gore and violence, which goes along with the territory in 'War of the Worlds,' but from the sheer psychological terror that the script invokes." Hines seems indifferent to public expectations of his film. "I'm enjoying watching the world trying to figure out how we are going to handle modern Earth technology, versus Alien technology conceived in the mind of a Victorian genius." (We weren't aware that this was one of "the world's" primary concerns. Mass starvation in Somalia, AIDS and the situation in the Middle East might occupy higher places on the list.) From his throne high atop Mount Olympus, Hines continued, "Nobody has even come close to figuring out how we will make it work." Let's hope HE has.

Over 21 years ago, film scholars Michael H. Price and George E. Turner released "Forgotten Horrors," a compendium of obscure fright films dating from the early 1930s. (An updated version, "Forgotten Horrors: The Definitive Edition," was released shortly before the death of Turner in 1999.) It opened the eyes of many a jaded monster fan who thought that Universal's crop of creatures were the beginning and end of screen horror. Coming your way this month from the folks at Midnight Marquee Press is the long overdue follow-up, "Forgotten Horrors 2: Beyond the Horror Ban." According to Price, the sequel "picks up where the prior edition left off, at 1936-37, and continues its survey of the low-budget, independent-studio, weird-mystery movies on into the WWII years." Price will officially unveil the book with a mini-filmfest at the Fanex Convention in Baltimore, July 6-8. Among the obscurities to be screened are "Phantom Killer," "Up In The Air," "Lucky Ghost" and "The Shadow Laughs."

A third volume with the working title "Forgotten Horrors 3: Dr. Turner's House of Horrors," is slated for release in 2002. A fourth (!) will be co-authored with novelist John Wooley. Price, director of motion-picture programming for Sundance Square Entertainment District in Fort Worth, Texas, says of the featured titles, "Weird westerns abound. Genre barriers are not considered sacred. If we confined ourselves to the Known World of this genre or that, things would get awfully boring." For the hardcore, cult-film enthusiast, these volumes promise to be anything but. For more information, visit http://www.midmar.com

Heartening news for classic Universal monster fans! A slew of double-feature DVDs showcasing some of the best of Universal's Golden Age of Horror are due for release this August. According to the DVD Drive-in Website, the lineup of double bills includes: "Son of Frankenstein"/"Ghost of Frankenstein" "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man"/"House of Frankenstein" "Werewolf of London"/"She-Wolf of London" "Dracula's Daughter"/"Son of Dracula" "The Mummy's Hand"/"The Mummy's Tomb" "The Mummy's Ghost"/"The Mummy's Curse" "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy" will be released as a single disc.

Cinema Dementia has struck a deal with newbie DVD label Marengo Films to provide masters struck from their collection of genre films to be issued in DVD format. "Dementia 13," double-billed with "Carnival of Souls," will be the first Marengo release. According to the folks at Cinema Dementia, "The prints are hand-cleaned then digitally scrubbed on a fully-digital Rank telecine. The sound is then processed and cleaned to take full advantage of DVD's audio capabilities." Other Cinema Dementia/Marengo double-features to watch for this summer: "Attack of the Giant Leeches"/"Bucket of Blood" "Amazing Transparent Man"/"Bloodlust" For more info check out: http://www.cinemadementia.com or http://www.marengofilms.com As always, be sure and tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

While we're on the subject of DVD availability, the folks at Englewood Entertainment recently unveiled the list of titles they're offering in DVD format. Among the genre films featured: "The Astounding She-Monster" "Beast of Yucca Flats" "Brain From Planet Arous" "Cat-Women of the Moon" "Destination Moon" "Frankenstein's Daughter" "Giant from the Unknown" "Hideous Sun Demon" "Kronos" "Missile to the Moon" "Phantom Planet" "Project Moonbase" "Robot Monster" "Rocketship X-M" "She Demons" "Teenage Monster" "Teenagers From Outer Space" And a bunch more. For information, visit: http://www.englewd.com

That's right, tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

Scrape, scrape, scrape -- that's the sound of Hollywood digging through its hope chest of 1960s television series. They've found at least three more they'll render into feature films in the near future. "Hogan's Heroes" -- that's right, "Hogan's Heroes" -- will get the big-screen treatment. What better way to honor the 1,100 WWII vets who die each day than with a feature film about those hilarious Nazis? More relevant to our audience is a feature film treatment of "The Outer Limits." How it will be handled is anyone's guess, but Variety says MGM has signed a deal with Victor & Grais Productions to turn the classic sci-fi series into a movie.

And speaking of things that are just fine the way there are and don't need to be resuscitated, director Simon "Tomb Raider" West plans to make a feature film based on the 1960s cult-TV series "The Prisoner." West is waiting on a final draft screenplay before proceeding. For 30 years, they've been trying to launch a big-screen treatment of the British series that starred Patrick McGoohan as an intelligence agent confined to a quaint, seaside village. Somehow, a feature never materialized. One reason might have been that only a handful of people understood the TV show to begin with.

Director Norman Jewison is ticked off by the remake of his 1975 sci-fi film "Rollerball." Jewison recently told the New York Post that the update, directed by John "Die Hard" McTiernan, glorifies the violence that was the object of satire in the original version. "They sent me a script to see if I was interested in directing," said Jewison. "But I passed on it, because it was clear they were embracing the violence, which I used in the original to comment on the activities of multinational corporations." Jewison was invited to a screening of the remake, which opens next month. "I'm not sure I even want to see it," he said.

We suppose you could label the big-budget remake of H.G. Wells "The Time Machine" a "troubled" production. Simon Wells, great-grandson of H.G., was forced to step down as director due to exhaustion, according to one report. His successor, Gore "Mouse Hunt" Verbinski, has gone over schedule reshooting many of Wells' scenes.

The B Monster has gotten many inquiries regarding top-notch movie tough guy, William Smith. We refer you to the latest issue of Worldly Remains, which features an exhaustive and enlightening one-on-one with "The King of the Bikers," chronicling his career in detail from a pre-pubescent part in "Ghost of Frankenstein" to the present. There's even a sampling of poetry from "The Toughest Man In Hollywood." Worldly Remains is an entertaining slick that manages to catch darned-near everything that might otherwise slip through the pop-culture cracks. For more info, check out: http://www.worldlyremains.com/ Need we remind you? Tell 'em the B Monster sent you.

Screenwriter Nigel Kneale was awarded the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award by The Horror Writer's Association. The Bram Stoker Awards, named for the author of "Dracula," were presented May 26. Kneale is the writer of the classic Quatermass films, (known in the States as "The Creeping Unknown," "Enemy From Space" and "Five Million Years to Earth") and "The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas," as well as screenplays for "First Men in the Moon," "Look Back in Anger" and "The Entertainer."

Betcha didn't know there was a Robert L. Lippert Foundation. That's right, the producer who gave us "King Dinosaur" and "Rocketship X-M" created a foundation benefitting charities such as The Alameda Meals on Wheels, The Alameda Boys and Girls Clubs, The Alameda Historical Museum and The Boy Scouts. College scholarships are also awarded. At the official Robert L. Lippert Foundation Website, you'll find further details, as well as a complete listing of all 245 feature films produced by Lippert. That includes "Lost Continent," "Squad Car," "I Shot Jesse James," "Rockabilly Baby," "Desire in the Dust," "Jungle Goddess" -- my God, it's overwhelming! There's also a listing and locations of the 162 indoor theaters and drive-ins once owned by the prolific producer. Check it out at: http://www.robertlippert.org

The Internet Movie Database is charging actors and actresses to display photos accompanying their listing. This caught our attention when a shot of "Planet of the Apes" star, Linda Harrison, was featured on the site's front page accompanied by the following text: "This lovely actress is one of the many actors and actresses who has added her headshot and gallery to our ever growing selection of IMDb Headshots. With our Platinum Package you can send us your photos, we'll scan them for you and we'll add the headshot to your IMDb page. If you're a little more web-savvy (or know someone who is) our Gold Package (see details) is the best option, allowing you to send us your .jpg or .zip files. Whichever package you choose, IMDb Headshots makes sure that your page stands out among the humans." In lieu of the Platinum and Gold pricing, we suggest a sliding payment scale for photo placement. Jim Carrey pays $1 million per mug shot, and I'll pony up the buck-fifty for Skelton Knaggs myself.


Sam Raimi capably directs this thriller from a script by Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Epperson. There are moody moments and a palpably Bayou-Baroque atmosphere, and although most of the cast is top-notch, but the end result is disappointing. There are two reasons for this, one is rather ironic: A story about a woman gifted with extra-sensory perception shouldn't be quite so predictable. The other is Keanu Reeves. He plays the bullying spouse abuser we're supposed to be frightened of. Keanu Reeves is not frightening. He's just barely an actor, and that undermines good performances from Cate Blanchett as the single-mom psychic, Giovanni Ribisi as a slow-witted victim of child abuse, Hilary Swank, Michael Jeter and smarmy Greg Kinnear as smarmy Greg Kinnear. Raimi is good at this stuff, it's just a shame he's let down by a predictable script and a weak, key performance.

Did we really need another half-baked Dracula movie? We won't even review the film. We will instead focus on this question. The Guiness Book says that, among fictional characters, only Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on screen more times than Dracula. Gerard Butler, a most unintimidating choice for the role, deserves special recognition as the one SQUILLIONTH actor to play the part! And executive producer Wes Craven is no stranger to exploiting the reputations of existing properties (check out his "Carnival of Souls" remake if you're feeling particularly masochistic). Director Patrick Lussier was an editor on Craven's lucrative "Scream" series and had directed "Prophecy 3: The Ascent" (yes, there were "Prophecies 1 and 2"). So, a non-threatening vampire, a producer with a taste for the tasteless and a newbie director all beg the question: Did we really need another half-baked Dracula movie? Yes, to make us appreciate the good ones.


Producer, director Jerry Warren has caught a lot of flack over the years for his practice of securing foreign-produced films, splicing in chunks of needless exposition shot in his own backyard and releasing the resulting concoction as his own, new film. He deserves the flack, and then some, and here's an egregious example laid bare. Admittedly, there wasn't much that even Jerry Warren could do to hurt "Terror in the Midnight Sun," a Scandinavian, sci-fi fiasco directed by Virgil Vogel whose legacy includes "The Land Unknown" and "The Mole People." This 1958 alien-invasion opus involves a spaceship crash-landing in the Nordic snow carrying a distinctly unmenacing beast that takes a liking to American figure-skating champion Barbara Wilson. Warren got hold of the film and turned it loose in the states, but not until after he'd tweaked the plot a bit by hacking in grainy shots of his favorite actor, John Carradine, explaining things we don't care about. This "special edition" includes voiceover by the film's original producer, Bertil Jernberg, a gaggle of bizarre trailers and shorts ("Swedish Teens Run Wild") and an episode of the Swedish TV show "13 Demon Street," directed by Curt Siodmak, and starring Lon Chaney, Jr.

Call it a crash course in the history of fiction's most enduring man-made monster. "Tales of Frankenstein" is a compilation of clips, trailers and assorted short subjects celebrating the legacy of filmdom's favorite collection of body parts. The classic Universal Frank is here, as is the Hammer version in "gorious" color. There's the half-hour pilot for the "Tales of Frankenstein" teleseries produced by Hammer in 1959, and directed by Curt Siodmak. There are clips from Lon Chaney Jr.'s turn as the shambling monster on the sci-fi anthology series "Tales of Tomorrow," as well as segments showcasing the monster's romp with Abbott & Costello. The package is topped off with audio and filmed interviews with Boris Karloff, Glenn Strange, Peter Cushing and Hammer producer Michael Carreras.


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

"Bring your date and watch her tingle!"

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