MARCH 2001

The March 2 edition of "Entertainment Weekly" calls B Monster "The best online journalism devoted to camp, monster, and cult movies!" There's more, but the B Monster blushes easily.


Howard W. Koch
Veteran producer, director, writer Howard W. Koch has died of complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was 84. Koch's long career began in Universal's contract and playdate department in the 1940s. Moving to 20th Century Fox, he became an assistant director. In the early 1950s, Koch formed BelAir Productions with producers Aubrey Schenck and Edwin Zabel. Koch was responsible for many classic cult-films, directing "The Girl In Black Stockings," "Frankenstein 1970," "Untamed Youth," and "Violent Road," and producing "Pharoah's Curse," "The Black Sleep," "Hot Cars," "Voodoo Island" and many others.

Koch also worked extensively in television directing episodes of "Maverick," "Hawaiian Eye," "Cheyenne" and "The Untouchables." In the early 1960s, Koch became vice president in charge of production for Sinatra Enterprises. During his tenure, he executive-produced the suspense classic "The Manchurian Candidate." Remembered as one of the best-liked figures in Hollywood, Koch received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 1990 Academy Awards ceremony.

Rosemary DeCamp
Actress Rosemary DeCamp, 90, died at her home in Torrance, Calif. She had pneumonia. DeCamp was perpetually cast as a matronly figure, often being made up to look older than she actually was. Her first film was 1941's "Hold Back The Dawn," with Charles Boyer. She worked steadily throughout the 1940s in "A" productions, including "Yankee Doodle Dandy," with James Cagney, "This Is The Army," "Rhapsody In Blue" and many others. Her face was a familiar one to TV watchers for her recurring roles in "Love That Bob," starring Robert Cummings and "That Girl" with Marlo Thomas. Cult-film fans will remember DeCamp for her role in William Castle's gimmicky shocker "13 Ghosts."

Gordon Dickson
Hugo Award-winning science fiction author Gordon Dickson has died from complications from asthma. He was 77. His work included 80 novels and 100 short stories. Dickson considered his "Lost Dorsai" series to be his best work. He completed eight volumes of the projected 16-volume series that dealt with variant ideas of evolution and technology, faith and philosophy covering the years 1400-2400. Dickson first rose to prominence in the 1950s collaborating with Poul Anderson. He won Hugo Awards for short fiction in 1965, and twice in 1981. His books sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

Burt Kennedy
Prolific director and screenwriter Burt Kennedy is dead at 78. The cause of death was not immediately known. Kennedy was primarily identified with the western genre, and director Budd Boetticher once called him the best western screenwriter in Hollywood. Kennedy collaborated with Boetticher and actor Randolph Scott on an influential series of westerns in the 1950s including "Seven Men From Now" and "The Tall T." Kennedy also wrote a number of films for John Wayne's Batjac production company. Kennedy's credits as a director include "The War Wagon," starring Wayne and Kirk Douglas, "Support Your Local Sheriff!" starring James Garner, and "Young Billy Young," starring Robert Mitchum.


Coming your way May 1 on AMC is a nifty documentary that's definitely a cut above the stuff that usually turns up as filler on this otherwise laudable cable channel. "It Conquered Hollywood" is the story of American International Pictures as seen primarily through the eyes of its founders, Jim Nicholson and curmudgeonly Sam Arkoff. Nicholson passed away some time ago, but there's plenty of background and even some vintage footage of he and Arkoff (defending the 1969 release "Wild in the Streets"). Also lending insight is the former Mrs. Nicholson, actress Susan Hart (who seems to have discovered the fountain of youth since retiring from the beach films her husband produced in the1960s). For the most part, all of the talking heads do a pretty fair job. Standouts include director Joe Dante, AIP acting vets Beverly Garland and Dick Miller, Propmeister General Bob Burns, AIP art director and poster artist Al Kallis, author Mark Thomas McGee, and, of course, Roger Corman. Crusty, cigar-chomping Arkoff gets plenty of screen time and, as you might expect, is unapologetic when discussing the fine art of exploitation. A better-than-average, "warts-and-all" portrait. Tune in.

We told you a few months back that HBO was planning a spate of American International horror flick remakes, but they've only recently announced the directors who are slated to bring these beasts back to life. Sebastian "Judas Kiss" Gutierrez will direct Rufus "Dark City" Sewell and Carla "Spin City" Gugino in "War of the Colossal Beast." Terence "Hotel Splendor" Gross is set to direct "Day The World Ended," George "Swimming With Sharks" Huang will helm "How to Make A Monster" and Larry Clark will tackle "Teenage Cave Man."

Jeremy "Dungeons and Dragons" Irons and Mark "Viva Rock Vegas" Addy will join Guy "L.A. Confidential" Pearce in the cast of director Simon Wells' "Time Machine," based on the book written by the director's granddad, H.G., way back when. Addy is set to play Philby, the time-traveling protagonist's best friend. The film boasts a budget of $85 million, a quarter of which will be devoted to special effects.

Actor James Marsden who portrayed Cyclops in "X-Men" (you remember that big, fat, noisy, dumb movie that came out last summer) seems a trifle bitter at having to take a backseat to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character. "Of course there will be a sequel," Marsden said, "but I'm a pretty low priority ... Of course I'm glad I was part of X-Men, but it wasn't a great acting experience. It's all about special effects." Marsden acknowledged that the film "made a dump-load of money, [but it] benefits the studio, not me." Speaking as one who contributed to the initial "dump-load," I promise readers here and now that I'll be ready and willing to dump on the sequel when it arrives.

Spawn creator Todd MacFarlane recently announced that a sequel to the 1997 film based on his comic book character is in the works. The original film was dark, dreary dreck that managed a PG rating, but MacFarlane makes it clear the followup will be rated R (and we thought it couldn't get any darker or dreckier). "It's not a special-effects movie," said MacFarlane, who has more money than all the Saudi royalty combined. "This'll be one of those sequels that will have nothing in common from the first to the second (sic). It's a suspense thriller -- a spooky, creepy movie that'll scare people," that being pretty much the intention of things that are spooky and creepy. MacFarlane went on to say, "When New Line's rights lapsed, it took us, like, 72 hours to sell it to another studio." The sequel will, like, have a new cast, and, like, be released sometime in, like, 2003.

The beautiful new tome by Bob Burns and John Michlig chronicling Burns' career as a monstermaker and fright-film historian is garnering universally positive reviews. Our opinion is no exception. But if you're on the fence about picking up a copy, here are 10 solid reasons to procure one today:
1. A glowing introduction by Industrial Light & Magic's Dennis Muren
2. Impeccable reproductions of Chesley Bonestell's moonscapes
3. Bob's collection of serial props and costumes, from Flash Gordon's tunic to Captain America's cowl
4. Major Mars (Just the name should be enough)
5. "Invasion of the Saucer Men" vehicle with motorized gadgetry that STILL works
6. Wonderful color pencil sketches by Paul Blaisdell and Mike Minor
7. Life masks of Lugosi, Price, Karloff, Bogart -- even Beethoven!
8. Major Mars Returns
9. Everything you ever wanted to know about what made "Kong" king
10. Bob is one heck of a nice guy
What are you waitin' for? Follow this link:

Bela Lugosi's personal scrapbook was sold last month by Todd Feiertag through the auspices of the online auction house, eBay. According to the description it was, "A massive, hardcover 78-page scrapbook (approx. 17x17) once belonging to Bela Lugosi and highlighting his film career from 1931-1933. The scrapbook consists of nearly 1,100 individually hand-pasted newspaper clippings made up of articles, movie ads, reviews, photos, etc., obtained from newspapers across the country. Portions of the actual pressbooks along with several pressbook covers and a number of poster images were clipped out and also appear in the book. Of particular interest is an entire page of advance publicity dealing with the original casting of Lugosi as the monster in Universal's "Frankenstein." The scrapbook is in generally good condition with moderate wear to the dark brown covers. A number of pages are somewhat brittle with some browning due to age. Some pages are loose, having separated from the two binder posts, which connect the pages to the covers. This hasn't affected the content; all of which is very readable." How much would YOU pay? The item sold for $2,649.99.

Jack Webb was a true auteur in our estimation. No filmmaker ever conveyed his ideas and visions -- like them or not -- more clearly than this enigmatic, taciturn actor, writer, producer, director. Shedding new light on this unusual visionary is author Michael Hayde's new book, "Dragnet: My Name's Friday," which chronicles the genesis of Webb's landmark series, from radio to television, in loving detail. There's lots of behind-the-badge production data, a collection of some of Friday's most memorable speeches, a radio and television episode guide, a glossary of police terms and, perhaps best of all, a foreward by actor Harry Morgan, who worked Webb's caseload during "Dragnet's" second TV incarnation in the late 1960s. You can order a copy at:

The hits keep coming from the folks at Marco Polo. "The Classic Film Music of Alfred Newman," as restored and reconstructed by John Morgan and William Stromberg, is stirring stuff. Culled from three classic films, this disc features a four-and-a-half-minute suite from "All About Eve," eight selections from the Gary Cooper version of "Beau Geste," and no fewer than 17 rousing cues from the 1939 "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" starring Charles Laughton. For more information, check out: Find out more at

Question: What's next for Ang Lee, acclaimed director of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (a martial arts fairy tale about the quest for a magic sword), and "The Ice Storm" (an unsparing tragedy about social mores)? Answer: "The Incredible Hulk," (a comic book about a big, green angry guy). That's right, a feature film based on Marvel's long-running comic series is set for a 2003 release. But don't expect Jack Kirby's original Jekyll and Hyde parable. "I'm familiar with the comic," Lee told Eon Magazine, "but not as fanatic as some of the people. I'm just beginning on the script and [will] probably be changing it entirely ... I would like to have a new approach to the material. I like to bring drama and character study into a pop-entertaining genre."

Syndicated columnist Donna Britt on last month's box-office record-breaking release of "Hannibal:" '... today, another indefensible example of beautifully rendered filth becomes part of the cultural lexicon that depletes us all. If Columbine and myriad other kiddie killings didn't convince you that real-life mayhem results from the artistic variety, how about the troubled boy, 13, who [recently] was convicted of murdering his playmate, 6, after stomping and punching her -- just like he'd seen on WWF Smackdown? Yet all we feel we can do is refuse to patronize swill like "Hannibal." Far too few of us even do that. God forbid that we appear un-hip. So nothing changes. The nation stays on the same tragic, breakneck course.'


We never get tired of writing about this one, so here's hoping you don't get tired of hearing about it. For our money, it's producer Alex Gordon's most enjoyable film (and that includes "She Creature," "Voodoo Woman" and "Runaway Daughters"). A cast that only good ol' Gordon could assemble - Arthur Franz, Dick Foran, Brett Halsey, Victor Varconi, Tom Conway, Bob Steele -- the only one missing is Marla English. (Instead there's Joi Lansing, so who's complaining?) The plot is 14 karat sci-fi corn, and we mean that in the most affectionate sense. A furry cyclops of an alien has burrowed his saucer beneath the polar ice cap and it's up to the intrepid crew of the Tiger Shark to blast him in the ice hole. I like this movie and I don't care what you say.

When Bert I. Gordon got tired of making things big ("Amazing Colossal Man," "War of the Colossal Beast," "The Spider"), he took to shrinking them. Even died-in-the-wool fans of Mr. B.I.G.'s work will have to admit that there's a macbre, morose tone to this stinker that keeps it from being enjoyable on even a camp level. John Hoyt, master of the vaguely Germanic hautre, is a pathetic dollmaker who shrinks John Agar and June Kenney in a jealous snit. It's his way of dealing with his insurmountable fear of being alone. It's just like "Doctor Cyclops" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" only really, really sad.

Big, big fan of Vincent Price, not so big a fan of the Phibes films. It definitely has its adherents, and some of it is artfully executed and eccentrically realized. But one man's "eccentricity" is another man's "just plain weird." Plotwise, it's about as Grand Guignolly as they come: The doctors who botched a life-saving operation on the late Mrs. Phibes are being murdered in the fashion of the nine deadly Biblical plagues. But is Doc Phibes the culprit? By all accounts, consumed by inconsolable grief, he crashed his car into a tree. Although the key roles go to American actors (Price and Joseph Cotten), the film has a "teddibly" British feel, which is fine if you like to feel "teddibly" British.

The profitable first "Phibes" spawned this lurid follow-up just a year later. Robert Fuest is again the director and the sequel's cast is arguably more interesting. Robert "Count Yorga" Quarry, Hugh Griffith and TV's "Inspector Morse," the indefatigable John Thaw. This time around, Phibes has pilfered some Egyptian scrolls, hoping their magic may resuscitate his deceased wife. The scrolls are, in turn, pilfered from Phibes who trains his bloody wrath on the pilferers. Like the initial Phibes film, it's ghoulish, quirky and very 70s.

There's something very weird in Boris Karloff's basement. It's the talk of the town, the curse of the countryside and it mutates everything within a hundred yards into something unspeakable. Nick "The Rebel" Adams plays a young scientist engaged to Karloff's daughter. When the couple pay a visit to the family manse, Nick tumbles to the secret of the glowing meteorite in his future father-in-law's cellar. The ingredients are all there, but the filmmakers neglected to include events in the script. Daniel Haller directs this talky 1965 "shocker" based loosely on an H.P. Lovecraft story.

An evil brain from space named Gor holes up in Bronson Canyon. It kills Robert Fuller and takes over John Agar's body, transforming the affable actor into a lustful mad scientist who can blow up planes with his laser gaze. Hot on Gor's trail is a good brain named Vol who comes to earth to terminate the garrulous Gor. B-movie stalwart Thomas Browne Henry ("Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, " "Blood of Dracula," "20 Million Miles to Earth") lends solid support as the father of Agar's bride-to-be, Joyce Meadows. Floating brains with bulging eyes, Bronson Canyon AND John Agar! It's great. Get it.

NOTE: The voice of frequent B Monster scribe and all-around cult-film authority Tom Weaver is becoming a familiar one to the DVD connoissieur. His expert commentary is garnering rave reviews, and we thought we'd sample a recent writeup by Gary L. Prange:

As enjoyable as the movie is, the value of this DVD is boosted immeasurably by the atomic commentary provided by affable "Fiend" executive producer Richard Gordon and genre writer Tom "He's Everywhere" Weaver. Weaver sets 'em up and Gordon knocks 'em down as the duo wring out a commentary juicier than the inside of a Faceless Fiend. And speaking of Fiend innards, if you ever wondered just what that stuff is inside them, my wife Anne, watching the movie for the first time, guessed the right substance but the wrong flavor. Yep, Gordon goes into plenty of detail about Fiendish special effects and how Ruppell & Nordhoff built and animated the true stars of the motion picture. Also, there's plenty of production history and behind-the-scenes info. Find out what Boris Karloff thought about leading lady Kim Parker and what the British parliament(!) thought about "Fiend Without a Face." (Parliamentary reaction was such that I can't help but imagine that had the House of Commons been invaded by actual Fiends, the poor little Fiendies would have died of starvation.) After watching the movie, I initially intended to only sample the commentary and save the rest for later but wound up listening all the way through. Gordon is a smooth, witty raconteur with an ironclad memory and Tom is downright uncanny asking the right question or volunteering the perfect cue at precisely the right time, making this easily one of the most enjoyable commentaries I've heard.


Time travel, its nature, and the uses and abuses thereof are the sci-fi thread linking three more episodes of "Tales of Tommorow," the pioneering live TV series restored and re-released by the folks at Englewood Entertainment. The most enjoyable of the trio is 1953's "Past Tense," in which Boris Karloff stars as a scientist who travels back in time in order to introduce penicillin to the understandably skeptical doctors of the past. "All the Time in the World" features Esther Ralston and Jack Warden in a time-travel story supposedly sold to the series by Arthur C. Clarke for $400. "Another Chance" stars Leslie Nielsen as a petty crook who, in desperation, trusts a mysterious stranger to send him into the past for an opportunity to mend his ways. As always, one of the more entertaining aspects of these historical broadcasts is observing the innovative corner-cutting that was so much a part of live television, not to mention the chance to watch budding young stars and seasoned veterans chewing the scenery to shreds.

First the plot: Explorers go to Mars and find it hostile. That's it. Ah, but there's a twist. No, wait. There isn't. That's really the plot. In time-honored fashion, their robot goes nuts and starts killing the crew, but that doesn't qualify as a twist. More like a snarl or a kink. Or, more pointedly, a cliche. Val Kilmer took time out of his busy schedule cultivating his image as a "difficult" actor to star in this thuddingly dull, by-the-numbers redundancy. Also in the cast are Carrie-Anne Moss, Benjamin Bratt (rapidly making a career of that one expression), Tom Sizemore (Hollywood's crusty-doomed-sidekick go-to guy), and Terrance Stamp who must have needed the money.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's clone movie comes along about three years too late to have any relevancy. The film takes place in the future -- I think about six weeks in the future. And what a tired, trite story. Two Arnolds! Which one's the REAL Arnold? By the time you've struggled to the climax of this snoozer you just don't care. Schwarzenegger and Michael Rapaport play hotshot helicopter pilots who fly rich people to ski resorts. How's that for excitement? Roger Spottiswoode, whose previous credits include "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" and "Turner & Hooch," directs.


Michael F. Blake, whose books are available through Vestal Press or at

Harris Lentz III, whose books are available at

Bob Madison, whose books are available at

Bryan Senn, whose books are available at and at

Tom Weaver, whose books are available at and at

"Incredible revelations from the blackest chapters of unholy medicine!" - The Man Who Turned to Stone

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