Did someone say turkey? We'll discuss a couple of king-size theatrical birds farther along in this missive. Otherwise, we hope you''ll join us in appreciating our proud B-movie heritage. What better time to reflect and say thank you, Sam Katzman for "The Giant Claw?" Thank you, Richard Cunha for "She Demons." Thank you, Alex Gordon for "Voodoo Woman." Thank you, Sam Sherman for "Dracula vs. Frankenstein." You get the idea. What B-movies are you thankful for? While you're thinking it over ...


Ann Doran
Character actress Ann Doran is dead at 89. According to one count, she appeared in roughly 500 motion pictures and 1,000 television programs. Though she is widely recognized for her role as James Dean's high-strung mother in "Rebel Without A Cause," cult-movie fans will remember her roles in "Them!" and "It! The Terror From Beyond Space."

A veteran of countless B movies, she appeared in low-budget titles featuring characters such as Ellery Queen, Dr. Kildare, Henry Aldrich, The Great Gildersleeve and Blondie. In smaller roles, she appeared in many classic "A" pictures, including "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "The More the Merrier," "The High and the Mighty" and Frank Capra's "Mr. Deeds Goes To Town," "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" and "Meet John Doe." Her television credits include appearances in "Rawhide," "Colt .45," "Perry Mason," "The Adventures of Superman," "Leave it to Beaver" (as Eddie Haskell's mother) "Emergency!," "Cannon," "M*A*S*H," "Little House On The Prairie" and many others.

Richard Farnsworth
Stuntman-turned-actor Richard Farnsworth is dead at 80 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been battling cancer for many months and was in great pain much of the time. Just last year, Farnsworth was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Alvin Straight in

"The Straight Story," based on the true account of a man who drove his lawn mower cross-country to visit his ailing, estranged brother. Farnsworth had previously been nominated for his role in the 1978 film "Comes A Horseman."

Farnsworth was a stuntman for 40 years before trying his hand at acting. He performed stunts in films such as the Marx Brothers' "A Day at the Races," "Red River," starring John Wayne, and Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus," starring Kirk Douglas. He co-founded the Stuntmen's Association in 1961. He had bit parts in major westerns, such as "The Cowboys," "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales," before landing the role in "Comes A Horseman," which earned him his first Oscar nomination. He also garnered enthusiastic reviews for his performance in the 1982 feature "The Grey Fox," as well as for supporting roles in "The Natural" and "Misery."

Rick Jason
Rick Jason, best known for his portrayal of Lieutenant Gil Hanley in the television series "Combat!" has died. The actor took his own life October 15. He left no note.

Following World War II service in the Army Air Corp, Jason enrolled in The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, studying on the G.I. Bill. After years in summer stock making occasional TV appearances, Jason caught the eye of Hume Cronyn, who cast him in the stage production "Now I Lay me Down to Sleep." A movie contract with Columbia Pictures followed soon after. Jason's film work included prominent roles in "The Saracen Blade," "This is My Love," "The Lieutenant Wore Skirts," "The Wayward Bus" and others. In 1962, Jason was cast as Lieutenant Hanley in the "Combat!" television series opposite co-star Vic Morrow. The show debuted in September of that year, attracting top-flight directors and guest stars, lasting five seasons for a total of 152 episodes.

Once the series left the air, Jason returned to the stage and always enjoyed steady work in television, appearing on series such as "Police Woman," "Fantasy Island," "Matt Houston," "Murder She Wrote," "Wonder Woman," and "Dallas." Jason had just completed his autobiography in July. "It's positively astounding how a television show has taken on a life of its own," Jason once said, "and carried those of us who were in it along on its journey." The popularity of the "Combat!" series never seemed to wane, and, only a week before his death, Jason had attended a "Combat!"convention.

Julie London
Actress-singer Julie London is dead at 74 following complications from a stroke she suffered five years ago. She may be best remembered for the smash hit record, "Cry Me A River." Released in 1956, it was London's first recording. Until that time, she had appeared in a string unmemorable B films.

Born Julie Peck, she was discovered at age 18 by Alan Ladd's wife and agent, Sue Carol, while working as an elevator operator. Cult-movie buffs may recall London's screen debut, "Nabonga," a 1944 poverty-row jungle epic co-starring Buster Crabbe and Barton MacLane. In 1953, the aspiring singer-actress married future actor-director-producer Jack Webb. They divorced in 1953. In 1956, London married composer Bobby Troupe, best known for popular tunes such as "Route 66."

London sang her signature song, "Cry Me A River," in the 1956 film "The Girl Can't Help It," which starred Jayne Mansfield. Better acting assignments followed in features, such as "Voice in the Mirror," for which London also composed the title song, "Saddle the Wind" and "Night of the Quarter Moon." In 1972, former husband Webb cast London and Troupe in his hit TV series "Emergency!" which starred Robert Fuller. The series ran from 1972-77. London played nurse Dixie McCall in the popular series, which still has a large fan following.

Sidney Salkow
Director Sidney Salkow is dead at 89. A native New Yorker, Salkow began his career on Broadway. In the early 1930s, he signed a contract with Paramount Pictures. Salkow directed dozens of B-movies, including many in the "Lone Wolf" and "Bulldog Drummond" detective series in the 1940s. Among Salkow's other credits from this period are "Time Out for Rhythm," "Millie's Daughter," "Flight Lieutenant" and "Sword of the Avenger."

Salkow is familiar to horror-film fans as the director of "The Last Man On Earth." Based on Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend," the Italian-U.S. co-production starred Vincent Price as the only survivor of a deadly plague that has turned the earth's populace into vampires. The story was later remade as "The Omega Man," starring Charleton Heston. Salkow also directed "Twice-Told Tales," a film comprised of eerie stories based on the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne, which starred Price, Richard Denning, Sebastian Cabot and Beverly Garland. Salkow also worked in television, directing episodes of "Maverick," "Overland Trail" and "The Addams Family."


Author John Michlig and monster-movie historian Bob Burns are soon to unleash what promises to be an indispensible tome. "It Came From Bob's Basement" is described by Michig as "a colorful journey through the vivid and campy world of fantastic cinema, and a true tribute to a man who has dedicated his life to the preservation of incredible movie artifacts -- from the original King Kong's metallic skeleton to the life-size "Alien" Queen. Including insider stories from the sets of such favorites as 'The She Creature,' 'It Conquered the World,' and 'Plan Nine from Outer Space,' Bob Burns brings fellow fantasy buffs up close with props and artwork from the greatest (and most outrageous) sci-fi films of all time. A story told with genuinely irresistible enthusiasm, Bob's Basement honors the beloved cult classics that have shaped movie history."

Burns, as die-hard cult-film buffs know, was a friend and confidant of 1950s monster-maker Paul Blaisdell, who supplied so many of the menaces baby-boomers learned to love through the films of Roger Corman and Alex Gordon. Burns is a generous, garrulous man and a peerless raconteur, and we're sure this will be reflected in the book. For more info, visit You can also order through

According to "Coming Attractions," Academy Award-nominee Michael Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile") will play a giant silverback gorilla in Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" remake. The new version will reportedly feature a broader variety of more realistic primates than the original film.

Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins will star in a new film version of Stephen Vincent Benet's story, "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Baldwin also makes his film-directing debut with this feature. The 1941 filming of the story (alternately known as "All That Money Can Buy"), starring Edward Arnold, Simone Simon and Walter Huston, was directed by William Dieterle, and is regarded by many as a classic. Huston played the role of grizzled, greedy "Mr. Scratch" to perfection. This time around, according to "The Hollywood Reporter," cuddly Jennifer Love Hewitt will embody Satan.

Tony Shalhoub, F. Murray Abraham, "American Pie" star Shannon Elizabeth and rapper Rah Digga are slated to star in Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis' remake of William Castle's 1960 shocker "13 Ghosts." Silver and Zemeckis' previous Dark Castle Entertainment release was a remake of Castle's "House on Haunted Hill." The new "13 Ghosts" will be directed by newcomer Steve Beck.

Among the projects director Ridley Scott is reportedly considering is a remake of "Flash Gordon." Please don't remake "Flash Gordon." They got it right the first time, guys. Come on, now. You're smart people. We know you can come up with something original. Something that won't embarrass you and alienate us. Can't you? Please?

Fans of cult-film ephemera should tune in to the webcasts of Hosted by Tim "The Movie Guy" Reid and shock-film starlet Debbie Rochon (Troma's answer to Evelyn Ankers -- and yes, that IS a compliment), all manner of genre-film is fodder for discussion. For instance, The B Monster recently shared the bill with director Richard Lester ("A Hard Day's Night," "Help!"). Past broadcasts are archived, so catching up is relatively easy once the proper plug-ins are secured. Visit

Self-styled lounge-lizard Will "The Thrill" Viharo hosts a "Swingin' Chicks of the 60s" retrospective at Oakland's Parkway Theater on November 11. Appearing in person to accompany screenings of their films will be Deborah "Gidget" Walley, Joan "Blue Hawaii" Blackman and Anne "Follow That Dream," The Magic Sword" Helm. (Ms. Helm just happens to be "The Thrill's" proud stepmother). If you find yourself in the vicinity, don't miss it.
Check out for more.

If you've a passion for old-fashioned horror femininity, you may find something of interest at the "Leading Ladies of the Golden Age of Horror," website. There, you'll find profiles of horror and serial sirens, such as Evelyn Ankers, Jane Adams, Anne Gwynne and Nell O'Day, and an interview with 1950s scream queen Beverly Garland. There's also a nifty chronicle of Universal's Mummy series, from Karloff to Kharis, lavishly illustrated with some hard-to-find stills and lobby cards. In the "Coming Attractions" department, you'll find the promise of pending profiles of Elena Verdugo, Peggy Moran and Catherine Hughes. Bear in mind, the site is in its formative stages (the "Serial Heroines" section is a work-in-progress), but worth a peek, nonetheless. Check out:

And while we're recommending sites, prolific author-screenwriter Jan Strnad has a nifty page that all genre-buffs owe it to themselves to visit. The self-proclaimed "Man With The Atom Brain," (how can you not like a guy with a handle like that?) shows impeccable taste by proudly displaying the B Monster banner for the world to see. He's scripted comics such as "Batman" and adaptations of "Star Wars" and "Starship Troopers," as well as animated series including "Fantastic Four," "Aladdin," and "Buzz Lightyear." His supernatural novel, "Risen," is garnering rave reviews. According to George Beahm, author of "The Stephen King Companion," "From the first paragraph to the last, 'Risen' will hold you by the collar and won't let go ... Strnad is a born storyteller with an original voice." To order your copy, visit --

It was great to see Tom Weaver's homage to one of our favorite sci-fi cheapies, "The Lost Continent," in the latest edition of "The Phantom of the Movies' Videoscope." Producer Robert L. Lippert's canon, including "The Lost Continent," "Rocketship X-M" and "King Dinosaur," has always held a special place in the B Monster's heart, and Weaver's writeup is loaded with insider stuff you're likely to find nowhere else. For instance, Tom rang up actor Sid Melton who points out that everyone who asks him about his career -- including comic Billy Crystal -- brings up his appearance in the film. Also in the cast: Cesar Romero, Hugh Beaumont, John Hoyt, Hillary Brooke, Acquanetta, Whit Bissell -- it's a B-movie "who's who"! Weaver's comments accompany the DVD release from Image Entertainment. Don't miss this one.


Q: Cult-movie maestro Edgar G. Ulmer was an incredibly prolific director. So why aren't more of his films available on DVD?

A: Your question is a timely and valid one. The folks at All Day Entertainment have announced the imminent release of Volume 4 in their "Edgar G. Ulmer Collection," "The Pirates of Capri." This costumer was lavish by Ulmer's standards. Louis Hayward plays Count Amalfi, debonair playboy and confidant to the Queen. By night, he's the mysterious Captain Sirocco, dashing leader of a rebel band who seek to overthrow the monarchy's tyrannical rule. A musical score by Nino Rota enhances the action. Extras include a never-before-seen, color TV pilot for a "Swiss Family Robinson" series directed by Ulmer in1958, production stills and behind-the-scenes interviews. Here's hoping more of Ulmer's obscurities are similarly resurrected. For more info, check out http://www.alldayentertainment -- and tell 'em the B Monster sent you!


A studio source tells us that the men with the money pulled the plug on this animated feature, failing to promote it adequately and thereby ensuring it's financial doom. The scenario is similar to the treatment "The Iron Giant" received last summer from the overlords at Time/Warner, but there, the similarity ends. While the claim that "Iron Giant" was insufficiently promoted is substantial, there seemed to be no shortage of "Titan A.E." trailers. They seemed to be attached to darned-near every movie we took in a few months back. We saw loads of TV advertising, to boot. Maybe it failed because it's a rehash of a redo of a remake of a refurbished, re, re, re ...

Moreover, its clumsy combination of state-of-the-art computer animation and the same old Saturday-morning line art just doesn't jell. Directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman have credentials to spare, but the awkward look and lack of fresh ideas make for dull viewing. The plot? An evil alien race blows up the earth and a bunch of teenagers are forced to flee to a place where there's lots of really loud music and shiny stuff. The droning voices of Matt Damon and Bill Pullman don't help at all.

"It rocks!" raves Ernest Keck of The Suburban Cable Media Networks. "Awesome!" declares Linus Spingle of the Metropolitan Radio Movie Gazette. "Bitchin'!" says Violet Femple of the Doorknob, West Virginia Kiwanis Ladies Auxiliary. That's right, everybody liked it but us. Based on the Marvel Comics series created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee before anybody who plays an X-person in this film was even born, it's about mutants who just don't fit into society (borderline offensive parallels are amateurishly drawn between mutants and blacks, mutants and gays, etc.) That's it. That's the premise. Bryan Singer, who did a good job directing "The Usual Suspects," does a bad job here. I defy anyone to tell me what's going on in that Statue of Liberty sequence. (Where are we in relation to who? Why do we cut away to look at something that seems unrelated to the action? Where are we in relation to the crowd that's in danger? Why doesn't Jean Gray just mentally bend those iron bands that ... Oh, forget it!)

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and James Marsden as Cyclops have a running "Worst Clint Eastwood Impression Contest" that's very distracting, Ian McKellen as Magneto seems to have found Bronco Nagurski's leather football helmet from the 1930s, and Patrick Stewart is bald. Worst of all, the movie asks us to take it seriously, even as it doesn't take itself seriously. At one point, Jackman chides the others for using their fanciful names, as if that makes the premise more palatable for today's "hip" audience. If you're going to make a superhero movie, for corn sake, embrace all of the source material's conventions! If the audience will believe that knives can shoot out of a guys knuckles or the villain can wrassle you to the ground with his 50-foot tongue, odds are they won't blink at a name like Cyclops. Sheesh!


Disdain 'em or adore 'em, the following releases come our way via the good folks at Image Entertainment:

It's cheesy, it's cheap, it's preposterous and portions of it are untenably talky. Would you believe we're talking about one of our all-time favorite films? It's true. Director Ron Ashcroft's minor alien invasion opus is the very film from which we derive our name. What's not to like about this premise?: Gangsters kidnap a Beverly Hills socialite, commandeering her Cadillac convertible and repairing to a remote mountain cabin occupied by Robert Clarke. Enter the eponymous "She Monster," decked out in a bursting-at-the-seams spandex spacesuit. She's traveled the galaxy in her white light spaceship to bring mankind a message, yet the touch of this spangled starlet is radioactively deadly! According to Clarke, Ashcroft edited the film on the fly in his living room. Evil-eyed Shirley Kilpatrick, Ed Wood alum Kenne Duncan, Marilyn Harvey, insightful liner notes from peerless genre-film historian Tom Weaver -- an altogether unbeatable history lesson in poverty-row filmmaking.

We could try to describe this shock-film oddity, but we'd never be able to top the actual promotional hype: "Eight beautiful women alone with the world's most hideous monster! Eight sexy showgirls and their macho manager survive a plane crash and take refuge on a remote, tropical island. As the gals adjust to the heat and humidity by shedding most of their clothes, they also meet one of their new neighbors: a dead scientist found caught in a giant web. Ignoring the obvious, testosterone-fueled Gary blithely takes a midnight stroll until he's bitten by an overgrown, crab-like spider and immediately transforms into a clawed, fanged, hairy-faced bogeyman, who does exactly what monsters in horror films are supposed to do: chase women!" All this plus three strange short subjects: Joi Lansing in "Web of Love," Mary Blair in "The Spider Girl" and the intriguingly-titled "The Stripper and the Spider Web."


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

"You'll be shocked! You'll be stunned! You'll be thrilled!" -- King Dinosaur

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