It's here! It's new! It's beautiful! The Jack Davis B Monster poster! It ain't six feet tall (weren't THOSE the days?), but at 23" x 35" you get more than your money's worth of Davis' macabre magic. Printed on high-quality, heavyweight 7 mil semi-gloss paper using superior dye inks, the Davis B Monster may one day be the sought after classic his black-and-white six-foot Frankenstein is today. Why wait for nostalgia mercenaries to corner the market? Here's a terrific bit of retro you can own today. Gruesomely gussy up your den, parlor or dungeon with this stunning portrait from the cartoon dean of the monster scene. (And bear in mind that a portion of the B Monster's proceeds benefits Childhelp USA). Buy one ... NOW!

Janet Leigh
Actress Janet Leigh, best known to fans of horror and cult movies for her shocking shower murder scene in Alfred Hitchcock's classic "Psycho," died at her Beverly Hills home. She was 77. The cause of death was not reported, but she had been afflicted with vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, for nearly a year. According to a spokesperson, Leigh's husband, Robert Brandt, and her daughters, actresses Kelly Curtis and Jamie Lee Curtis, were at her side when she passed away.

Leigh was discovered in classic Hollywood fashion by film star Norma Shearer, who spotted a photograph of Leigh at a ski resort when the soon-to-be actress was still a student at the University of the Pacific. Shearer contacted legendary agent Lew Wasserman, who secured a contract for Leigh at MGM. She earned $50 a week. This was raised to $150 following the 19-year-old's screen debut opposite Van Johnson in "The Romance of Rosy Ridge." She was soon one of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses, appearing in such films as "The Naked Spur" with James Stewart, "Houdini" opposite then-husband Tony Curtis, "Jet Pilot" with John Wayne, the Orson Welles classic "Touch of Evil," which co-starred Charlton Heston, "The Vikings" with Curtis and Kirk Douglas, "The Manchurian Candidate" opposite Frank Sinatra, and the musical "Bye Bye Birdie."

Leigh achieved screen immortality in Hitchcock's groundbreaking 1960 horror classic "Psycho." The scene in which Leigh is stabbed to death while showering is one of the most analyzed in film history. It is composed of more than 70 shots, each lasting just two or three seconds. Reportedly, Leigh spent a week in the shower wearing a flesh-colored body suit. Following the release of the film, Leigh received crank letters and death threats. Some were turned over to the FBI for investigation. The actress maintained that she was never able to shower again. "I'm a scairdy-cat," she told interviewer Tom Weaver. "I won't even take a bath in a hotel unless I can face out, even if I have to have my back to the faucets. It just scares me -- I never thought about it before 'Psycho,' but you are absolutely defenseless in that situation." When asked about Hitchcock, the actress recalled, "I loved him -- just adored him. He was obviously the most prepared director."

Later in her career, Leigh acted in several television productions, as well as the notorious schlock classic, "Night of the Lepus." She also appeared with daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in director John Carpenter's 1980 thriller "The Fog," and 1998's "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later," which featured Curtis reprising the role she'd originated in Carpenter's original 1978 shocker "Halloween."

Noel Neill, the actress best known as Lois Lane on the classic 1950s television series "The Adventures of Superman," spoke to film historian Tom Weaver about the passing of Christopher Reeve, who portrayed the Man of Steel in 1978's "Superman: The Movie":

"I couldn't believe it, because supposedly things were progressing for him. His training was coming along fine. The news that he had died of a heart attack was sort of strange. Then it came out that [the cause of death] was a bedsore that got infected or whatever, and he went into a coma and died. That ALSO is strange, because with all of the help he was receiving, from all the money that people had collected and sent in, he [should have had] better help than THAT. You'd think they'd be constantly checking on somebody that ... important, shall we say. [According to the Associated Press, Reeve had developed a systemic infection from a pressure wound, a complication not uncommon to those living with paralysis. This was followed by cardiac arrest. ed.]

I first met him in England, not long after I had finished work on MY little scene in 'Superman: The Movie' in Canada. I had gone on a trip and was staying in London a few days, and [the moviemakers making 'Superman,' which was still shooting] said, 'Come over to the studio, have lunch and meet Christopher and Margot.' Which I did, and we had a nice lunch together. He was very polite and very nice. I also went on the soundstage and saw them shooting a scene where Christopher and Margot were flying with wires. Trying to get Superman to fly on wires was something that our series had abandoned very quickly [laughs], so it was kind of funny to see a big show like this one using wires -- I couldn't believe it! They were flying off her balcony, Margot and Christopher, and either he would be ahead of her or she would be ahead of him -- they couldn't get it coordinated. This one scene was taking all afternoon, and I finally said to myself, 'I'm going back to the hotel, this is AWFUL!' [Laughs] I felt so sorry for them, but that's the way they did it!

Then in 1994, I was making a personal appearance in Atlanta, Ga., and the promoter or somebody there found out that Christopher was doing a movie close by, and had used his own plane to fly there. So, they thought, maybe he could fly over to Atlanta and do a quick thing with me in one show. They did contact him and, bless his heart, he came on over, and so I met him again, and introduced him and brought him up on the stage, and he talked a little bit to the people. That was the last time I saw him -- that was not too long before the accident with the horse. That accident he had -- I think THAT was even more of a shock than THIS [his death]. One person I was sort of surprised to see on TV was his coach, and she said, 'Well ... he should not have done that [showjumping], because he hadn't gotten to that point of training.' Gosh ... the male ego ... they always think they can DO things ...

Such a nice person. It's just a shame. They keep running the news on TV ... everybody's so shocked about it. Of course, thanks to him, they've raised a lot of money for that type of spinal cord research. Thank him for THAT, bless his heart."


Manhattanites, douse those torches, ditch that wolf bane and make welcome the classic monsters that will soon invade NYC to benefit some very worthy causes. "Monsters For Charity" will storm the Grand Ballroom of the Southgate Tower Hotel, located near the Big Apple's core at 371 7th Avenue (between 30th and 31st Street) Saturday, November 13, beginning at 5:30 pm. The monstrous memorabilia auction and nostalgia show is being staged to benefit the Jackie Sayegh Duggan Charitable Foundation and Our Lady of the Wayside (money will also be raised for The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Research Fund and The Peter Cushing Memorial Window Fund). Among the items up for auction:

-- White pearl cufflinks and a small gold and sterling tie bar owned and worn by Vincent Price
-- Gold-finished monogrammed cuff links owned and worn by Boris Karloff
-- Genuine artifacts from the original "Stegosaurus" and "Brontosaurus" stop-motion models, built by Marcel Delgado and animated by Willis O'Brien for the 1933 classic, "King Kong," along with a photo autographed by Fay Wray
-- An original, French poster for "Creature from the Black Lagoon," autographed by stars Julie Adams, Ricou Browning, Ben Chapman and Dee Ankers Denning (daughter of "Creature" co-star Richard Denning)
-- Original scripts from Hammer's "Dracula" series starring Christopher Lee
-- A sterling silver tie tack with an onyx center stone, owned and worn by Alfred Hitchcock
-- An original, linen-backed 1925 studio portrait of Lon Chaney Sr. as "The Phantom of the Opera" autographed by the actor's great-grandson, Ron Chaney -- And 50 years of classic horror and sci-fi posters and lobby cards from a private collection that will be available individually for sale as priced.

Special guests include Marie Reynolds, daughter of famed poster artist Reynold Brown, who rendered posters heralding the "Creature from the Black Lagoon," "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," "The Incredible Shrinking Man," "This Island Earth" and many others. There will also be live productions of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart!" Tickets are just $20. Contact Zach Zito at, or call (718) 858-3644.

The Jackie Sayegh Duggan Charitable Foundation was established in December 2001, in memory of Jackie Sayegh Duggan, who perished in the attack on the World Trade Center. This Foundation was established to carry on what the Foundation describes as "Jackie's dream, taking care of children. It is the goal of the Foundation to help children develop their potential, achieve their goals and become successful adults and proud Americans." The Foundation raises money for many children's charities. You can learn more at:

Our Lady of the Wayside, incorporated in 1967, is dedicated to serving people affected by mental retardation and developmental disabilities. For more information, visit:

Tell one and all the B Monster sent you!

Plantation, Fla., hosts "Screamfest 2004" this November 6-7. Promoted as "Bigger, better, scarier," the focus is on contemporary horror, with veterans of various "Halloween" films, and myriad movies with the word "Dead' in the title. But there are enough vintage filmmakers to make it worthwhile for us old cranks. The guest roster includes:

-- "Pinhead" Doug Bradley
-- Submerged Gill Man Ricou Browning
-- "Return of the Living Dead's" Don Calfa and Linnea Quigley
-- Artist, screenwriter Frank Dietz
-- "Dawn of the Dead's" Ken Foree and Clayton Hill
-- "Famous Monsters" cover king Basil Gogos
-- Florida horror mogul William Grefe
-- "Spider Baby's" Sid Haig
-- "Night of the Living Dead's" William Hinzman
-- Troma honcho Lloyd Kaufman
-- "Godfather of Gore" Herschell Gordon Lewis
-- "American Werewolf" David Naughton
Plus various victims, killers and makeup artisans. There will be the usual seminars and panel discussions, an "Independent Films Movie Room" and a "Rock 'n' Roll Movie Room."

It all happens at the Holiday Inn on University Drive in fabulous Plantation, Fla. For more info, check out:
By all means, let 'em know, the B Monster sent you!

The recent DVD release of the complete first season of "The Munsters" should boost traffic to "," a site devoted to showcasing the famous George Barris-customized hot rods The Munster Koach and The Drag-ula (Grandpa's coffin-shaped, chrome pipe-laden dragster). There are tons of pictures including cheesecake shots of Pat "Marilyn Munster" Priest reclining on bumpers and displaying mag wheels. There's info on toys and related memorabilia and technical specs that will dizzy the brain of the most hardened Kustom Kar nut. For instance, did you know that "the 289 Cobra was bored to 425 cid, built with Jahns high compression pistons, 10 chrome plated Stromberg carburetors, an Isky cam, and had a set of Bobby Barr racing headers?" Burn rubber to:
And tell old Ernie the B Monster sent you!

Last month, television presented us with not one, but TWO new versions of "Frankenstein." The B Monster feels obligated to signify these attempts, as they do concern Hollywood's ceaseless determination to further commercialize and corrupt the property. It's a commercial name in the public domain, and they seem to think that our appetite for all things "Frankenstein" is insatiable.

The version that aired on the Hallmark Channel was long, dull and singularly unimpressive. It starred Luke Goss ("Blade II") as a rather androgynous, unintimidating monster, and Alec Newman as the doc, in what at first appears to be a remake of Kenneth Branagh's embarrassing attempt to film the story a few years ago. Director Kevin Connor (whose credits date to the early 1970s features "From Beyond the Grave" and "The Land That Time Forgot") conjures no atmosphere or suspense. Donald Sutherland and William Hurt contribute what amount to glorified cameos. Hurt plays Frankenstein's ostensible mentor, Dr. Waldman, and seems to be the only resident of Inglestadt with a German accent. At least, it's an attempt at a German accent. His effort is half-hearted, as is the film's execution by-and-large.

The version airing on the USA Network might as well have been called "CSI: Frankenstein," as it attempts to marry the current prurient fascination with forensic investigation shows to the timeless theme of treading on God's toes. Parker Posey and Adam Goldberg play detectives investigating a series of horrific murders. Various vital organs have been snatched from the victim's bodies. They discover that Dr. Helios (Thomas Kretschmann), a research scientist, has somehow managed to remain alive for 200 years. His 200-year-old creation is alive, as well, and aids the police in tracking the killer. As directed by Marcus Nispel (a music video maker and director of the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake), the film is unpleasant, slick, soulless and probably exactly what contemporary audiences want.

Left Coast horror host Mr. Lobo found a novel notion to commemorate the Halloween season: "Ed Woodstock!" That's right, Lobo collaborated with cult-movie missionary Reverend Steve (from "The Church of Ed Wood") to stage the event at Sacramento's Crest Theater. Three bands, "The Helper Monkeys," "Flip The Switch," and "Sacramento (the Band)" performed as video images culled from "Plan 9 From Outer Space" were projected behind them. A 16mm print of "Plan 9" was screened in the Crest Lounge and the night's feature attraction, "Bride of the Monster," was supplemented by a documentary about legendary prognosticator and Wood crony, Criswell. Proceeds from the show will be used to stage "Ed Woodstock II," already scheduled for October 2005. For more info, check out one or all of the following:
Let it be known, the B Monster sent you!

Those of you who don't hail from the Lone Star State were recently introduced by the B Monster to "Prof. Griffin's Midnight Shadow Show," a televised horror filmfest in the finest tradition of Zacherley and Sir Graves Ghastly, hosted by -- who else? -- Prof. Griffin! Well, the Prof recently approached us brimming with good news, which we're happy to pass along. Griffin's first book, "The Midnight Shadow Show: Prof. Griffin Journals," is soon to be published by PublishAmerica. "It's a collection of my essays and letters," crows the Prof, "inspired by fan questions and online group discussions covering all things horror!" The book features a foreword by one-time Famous Monsters answer man, Eric Hoffman. What's more, the 24-hour Horror Channel, a cable enterprise planning to launch this month, may include Griffin among its luminaries. "We are VERY close now to reaching an agreement to sign with and produce goose bumps for the fledgling all-horror channel," says Griffin. "Keep your claws crossed that we can bring good, old-fashioned Horror Hosting back to homes everywhere!" The B Monster has crossed both klaws and all three eyes. For more information, visit the Prof at:
Tell 'em, of course, the B Monster sent you!

Who is C.S. Lamb, and why is he so devoted to celebrating Monogram Pictures and the history of low-budget cinema in general? "I am a film producer, and a lover of old B-movies," says Lamb, "especially horror and monster movies. Fact is, I love B-movies so much that I have dedicated my life, to their preservation, and to the revival of the studios that made them." To further that mission, he's established the Monogram Studios Website. "The site is still under construction, but I believe it is entertaining, nonetheless." A page chronicling Monogram's history makes for a tidy primer on Poverty Row cinema. And, according to Lamb, the history is still being written: "Over the last 15 years, I have been fortunate enough to acquire the rights to most all of Hollywood's great B-movie and Poverty Row" studio banners." These include Monogram, PRC, AIP, Mascot, Eagle-Lion, Astor, Screen Guild and others. "I take great pride and pleasure," says Lamb, "in reviving this lost part of cinema history, and I have the greatest respect and admiration for all the fans and historians, who are helping to preserve the legacy, and the art of B-cinema." Lamb hopes to begin distributing new B-movies through his PRC wing, to re-release "official" versions of Monogram and other Poverty Row classics, and to "protect the rights of fans, historians, producers, and artists by assembling a great store house of cinematic intellectual properties." He's also established "The Monogram Pictures Hall Of Fame." The first inductee is Mantan Moreland, and the site welcomes nominations for future induction. You can find out more at:
Let 'em know for sure, the B Monster sent you!

The Star Party Portland convention, billed as "a celebration of sci-fi/fantasy television, film, books and anime," is to be applauded for its unselfish agenda; this "Star Trek"-centric festival donates a portion of its proceeds to the OHSU Parkinson Center of Oregon. The show takes place at the beautiful Hollywood Theatre, located at 4122 NE Sandy Boulevard in Portland. The majority of the guests are not B-movie figures or persons one would associate with horror, but are nonetheless an interesting mix:

-- Writer Susan Sackett, former executive assistant to Gene Roddenberry. (Does anyone ever ask about the "Have Gun-Will Travel" episodes Roddenberry wrote?)
-- "Speed Racer," "Ultraman" voice actress Corinne Orr
-- The "Star Trek Voyager" "Borg Twins," Kurt and Cody Wetherill
-- And, most interestingly, Cal Bolder, whom B-movie buffs will recall from "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter." (He also appeared in a "Star Trek" episode.)

It happens Sunday, November 14 beginning at 11:00 am. For more info, check out:
And, by all means, let 'em know the B Monster sent you!

Let's address the obvious first: These are essentially the individual DVDs you likely already own, repackaged to cash in on the smashing success of the Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolf Man Legacy sets. They're done up in a variation on the same, gloomy, grey-green box art, but, alas, no collectible busts were created to complement this trio of monsters. There is some new, supplemental material, however, the most remarkable being the enlightening new audio commentary that enhances the Creature disks. So, completists, you make the call: Live with the individual disks and (gasp) VHS tapes you have, or invest in relatively inexpensive sets that collect all of the films in tidy, two-disk volumes.

Nearly all fans of classic horror would agree that, with the exception of "Bride of Frankenstein" (and the flashes of inspiration that enhance "Dracula's Daughter" and "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man") all of the Universal franchise monsters deteriorated with each subsequent film in the series. You could argue that "Dracula's Daughter" is marginally more entertaining -- for different reasons -- than the lifeless and stage-bound Tod Browning production of the original "Dracula." But the original is more visually arresting, and gets the nod for being the first to etch the cobwebbed horror clichés of the sound era into stone. While "The Wolf Man" had no truly worthy follow-up, I am fond of the atmospheric "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," the strained premise and hammy acting notwithstanding. And many concur that the aforementioned "Bride of Frankenstein" is more stylish and exciting than the original (which established as many horror hallmarks as did "Dracula"). In fact, there exists a large cadre of fans who believe "Bride" to be superior to just about ANY Universal film.

We make these points to affect a contrast with "The Invisible Man" franchise. No horror film series deteriorated as plainly or as rapidly. The original "Invisible Man" may just be director James Whale's best film. It is compact and compelling, more refined than "Frankenstein," more rewarding than "The Old Dark House," and not as self-consciously overwrought as "Bride of Frankenstein." Most of Whale's films are leavened with broad humor, and this attribute is well matched to the predicament of "The Invisible Man." The scene wherein Griffin disrobes and unwinds his bandages to reveal NOTHING to a gaggle of gawking cockneys is priceless. ("'E's all eaten away!") The film benefits immeasurably from the presence of Claude Rains as Griffin. I can imagine other actors with sonorous, sinister voices who would have done fine in the role, but none that I prefer to Rains. Unseen until the closing frames, his dulcet, cultured delivery is the film's cold heart. It's one of the best performances in a horror film.

The popularity of horror ebbed and Universal waited seven years to follow the original with "The Invisible Man Returns" in 1940. It isn't a particularly bad film, and star Vincent Price is one of those very actors I might imagine replacing Rains in the Whale classic (others being Basil Rathbone, George Zucco and Lionel Atwill), but it is dull compared to its predecessor. The film boasts an able supporting cast -- Cedric Hardwicke, Nan Grey, Cecil Kellaway -- and a mildly intriguing spin on the original's dilemma, but director Joe May is not the stylist James Whale was. The movie is adequate when compared to other fright films of its vintage, woefully inadequate when viewed as a sequel to the exciting original.

The same year, Universal produced the "The Invisible Woman," a frivolous trifle from a story by Curt Siodmak. Virginia Bruce stars as a model subjected to nutty Professor John Barrymore's invisibility experiment in what is essentially a half-hearted screwball comedy with a sci-fi twist. One glance at the supporting cast reveals more about the tenor of the film than my description -- Charles Ruggles, Oskar Homolka, Edward Brophy, Donald MacBride, Margaret Hamilton and Shemp Howard. Hilarity does not ensue.

On to 1942's "Invisible Agent," a wartime, sci-fi, propaganda comedy-thriller (whew!), wherein the grandson of the Invisible Man (Jon Hall) employs the family's secret formula in an effort to foil the Nazis. Once more, the story is by Siodmak with Edwin L. Marin directing and, once more, the supporting cast is the best reason to watch; Peter Lorre, Cedric Hardwicke, Albert Bassermann, John Litel, Holmes Herbert and Keye Luke.

For 1944's "The Invisible Man's Revenge," Jon Hall appeared (or not) once again in the title role. This time, he's Robert Griffin, an embittered escaped convict turned invisible by John Carradine. Again, the supporting cast is the most agreeable aspect -- Carradine, Evelyn Ankers and Gale Sondergaard give it their all, but these shenanigans are just plain stale. The studio clearly had no idea what to do with the character other than have him meet Abbott & Costello a few years later.

The original "Invisible Man" is accompanied by film historian Rudy Behlmer's informative audio commentary. The set also contains the featurette, "Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed," plus rare production photographs.

"The Mummy" -- the Karloff "Mummy," the 1932 "Mummy," the GOOD "Mummy" directed by the brilliant cinematographer Karl Freund -- is not for everyone. It's cool and subdued and rather cerebral, drawing much of its horror from Karloff's towering presence, steely gaze and ominous delivery. His every line of dialogue sounds like a threat. He endured the arduous application of one of the most effective makeups in movie history, which is seen minimally to maximum advantage. But this isn't a film about monsters. It's a film about horror, to be sure, but its horror derives from shadows and atmosphere and the otherworldly timbre of Karloff's voice. It is one of his very best performances, and he gave many.

The movie's most striking images are lingering, extreme close-ups of Karloff's dark, soulless eyes. No blood or car chases. It's probably too careful and deliberate a film for contemporary tastes. It ain't no thrill ride ... thank God.

As previously stated, the popularity of horror fluctuated, and it was several years before Universal produced a "Mummy" follow-up, "The Mummy's Hand." And -- surprise -- I have great affection for this movie. But it is a sequel in name only; it couldn't be more different from the original. Mood-setting shadows and calculated pacing are abandoned in favor of broad comic relief (in the form of Wallace Ford) and action. Significantly, the film introduces the shuffling, vengeance-seeking, zombie-like mummy that most film buffs are familiar with. Tom Tyler, a veteran cowboy-actor-stuntman with a lean, mean face was ideally cast as the mummy, now called Kharis. Dick Foran makes for a likeable hero, and the supporting cast includes Eduardo Ciannelli, George Zucco and Cecil Kellaway. But it is lovably perky Peggy Moran who nearly steals the show from Kharis. She's bright and beaming and brings life to every scene she's in.

In 1942, Lon Chaney became Kharis for "The Mummy's Tomb," a lackluster addendum to "The Mummy's Hand" with Foran, Ford and Zucco returning, sadly without Peggy Moran. "The Mummy's Tomb," and its successors "The Mummy's Ghost" and "The Mummy's Curse," all featuring Chaney, are virtually interchangeable. They all feature fine supporting players -- Zucco, John Carradine, Ramsay Ames, Barton MacLane, Virginia Christine, Peter Coe, Martin Kosleck, Turhan Bey, Elyse Knox -- they're all set in the U.S., they all feature the mummy stalking the reincarnation of his beloved Princess Ananka or whacking infidels for some power-mad high priest, and they're all mercifully short, in the 70-minute range. They all just kind of blur together, crafted with little care, nothing to distinguish them. Another franchise that outstayed its welcome.

The set also features the documentary "Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed," and film historian Paul M. Jensen provides commentary to accompany the original 1932 "Mummy."

Sci-fi cinema is littered with the carcasses of aquatic monsters hailing from Piedras Blancas, the Haunted Sea, the Ocean Floor and elsewhere. Defeating all challengers, the original Gill Man as portrayed by Ben Chapman and Ricou Browning stands fin and shoulders above the competition. Producer William Alland and company fashioned not only one of the 1950's most identifiable film icons, but one of the most vividly realized characters in all horror. And the "Creature's" human costars -- Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, Whit Bissell and Nestor Paiva ("Even I, Lucas ...") -- turn in first-rate performances.

The Creature collection makes strikingly clear the importance of producer William Alland to the science fiction genre. Beginning as one of Orson Welles' Mercury Players, Alland was the unseen reporter who sought out Rosebud in "Citizen Kane." Turning to production in the 1950s, Alland turned out many of the most influential genre films in history ("It Came from Outer Space," "Tarantula," "This Island Earth"). He nurtured "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" concept to fruition, and Tom Weaver's illuminating audio commentary, recounting the idea's genesis in fascinating detail, is one of this disk's chief assets.

Many view "Revenge of the Creature" as a disappointment. Intrinsically, it is not as good as the 1954 original, but I quite enjoy it. Another able cast is one reason -- John Agar, Lori Nelson, John Bromfield and, of course, Nestor Paiva ("Even I, Lucas ..."). In this entry, the Gill Man is captured and confined to an aquatic exhibit. The scene wherein the Creature breaks free, scaring the devil out of visitors to the Florida tourist trap, is inspired. He later snatches Nelson from a riverside nightclub in another of the film's highlights. The filmmakers spun the time-tested "Kong" formula just enough to please me.

Weaver has Lori Nelson to accompany him on the audio track of "Revenge," and we're especially fortunate to have film historian, prop curator and makeup veteran Bob Burns on board to provide insights into the Creature's creation. While Hollywood's first family of film makeup, the Westmores (Perc, Wally, Bud, et al.), received the accolades, Universal Studios artists like Jack Kevan, Milicent Patrick and Chris Mueller, who worked beneath them, were rarely if ever credited. This team of artisans, working from Alland's original notion, created the most distinctive and frightening monster of the 1950's.

Fans who thought little of "Revenge" are especially hard on "The Creature Walks Among Us." It isn't a remarkable film, but this flat rejection is unfair. The crux of the story is intriguing: Scientists discover that the Gill Man is possessed of human-like organs that, with a bit of surgery, will allow him to breath air. An operation is performed and, well ... "The Creature Walks Among Us." Unfortunately, the good story idea is not cultivated into a good movie. It's an agreeable film with a sturdy enough cast -- Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason, Leigh Snowden, Don Megowan as the land-bound Gill Man (sorry, no Nestor Paiva), but not a particularly good film.

All told, "Creature," with its supplemental "Back to the Black Lagoon" featurette, is the best package of the three by virtue of the insights offered by Nelson, and the mind-boggling facility of those twin, walking sci-fi encyclopedias, Messrs. Burns and Weaver.

With a premise not unlike "The Shining" (or any number of Stephen King stories about blocked writers and their demons), this low-budget indy begins with great promise. A struggling writer and his ex-model girlfriend move into a cloistered neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills. Their bungalow is decrepit but salvageable. We learn that the ex-model is recovering from a nervous breakdown. She begins seeing gruesome visions -- a zombie-like child hiding in a closet, a ghastly face emerging from a wooden fence. Are they real? Is the bungalow haunted or are these imaginary manifestations of her condition?

The neighbors are a sedate and strange brood of young men. Suspicions are raised when one slow-witted local, who just can't seem to fit in with this snobby show-biz clique, vanishes without a trace. After they're more or less settled, the newcomers are invited to a party down the block, hosted by the brooding coterie. It is explained that the very hillside they live on was once home to one of Hollywood's first film studios. In fact, it is where legendary cowboy star Tom Mix lived and worked. As the neighborhood history is divulged, the writer starts behaving as though he were possessed. He is antagonistic and increasingly cruel to his girlfriend, but his writer's block has vanished, and he sells a screenplay to a big-shot producer he met at the aforementioned soiree.

The ingredients for a decent thriller are here. Nothing particularly innovative, but the raw materials from which a good ghost story could be rendered. Unfortunately, the promise is unrealized. An unnerving start bogs down in cliché. Ultimately, too many unwieldy elements are forced into the plot. Zombie kids, ghosts of galloping horses, phantoms dashing from room-to-room, bodies floating in a Jacuzzi; too many fragments that don't coalesce into a satisfying whole. And what does it all have to do with Tom Mix? It's as though there are four or five ghost stories unfolding at once because the filmmakers couldn't decide which one they liked best. Director Stefan Avalos stages several scenes with great skill, and his previous films "The Last Broadcast" and "The True Legend of the Jersey Devil," were laudable indies that went the "Blair Witch" gang one better with their docu-horror verite approach. "The Ghosts of Edendale" could have been as spooky had it not attempted to be quite so artsy and enigmatic.

This very unpleasant 1970 quickie is often upheld as the very epitome of the cult-horror film. It opens with a group of Manson family-like hippies sacrificing a goat to Satan. Three minutes into the picture they catch a local girl spying on them and assault her. They migrate to a nearby town, which is nearly deserted owing to a large dam construction project that has driven the locals away. The Devil devotees take up residence in an abandoned hotel, where they practice all manner of Sadism and debauchery. Doc Banner, the local vet and grandfather of the assaulted girl, attempts to bust up their party, but he's easily disarmed and roughed up. His rascally grandson, Pete, vows revenge. Pete shoots a rabid dog in the woods and, using Doc's medical paraphernalia, collects the rabies-infected blood in syringes. Unbeknownst to the proprietor of the local general store, he injects the tainted blood into meat pies, which are, as the plot contrives, the only food the store sells. The hippies scarf down the pies, despite their odd taste and, well, you can see where this is going.

Hydrophobia runs unchecked through the hippie camp. They turn on each other, biting and clawing. The dam construction crew rides into town to try and restore order, but as they are bitten and clawed by the fearsome flower children, naturally they succumb to the disease. It isn't long before darned near every cast member and extra is running amok, frothing at the mouth and salivating over flesh. Surely, these rabies-zombies have an Achilles heel? The Doc explains that hydrophobia derives its name from the parched victim's overwhelming fear of water, so, you just turn the hose on them and they back off in a craven tizzy.

If you're hoping for a tidy wrap-up to this synopsis, forget it. Watch the film. I'm not about to diminish the experience. You gotta admit, the enterprising youngster's idea to spike meat pies with bad blood is a novel twist in what might otherwise have been just another teens-terrorize-town thriller. The "teens," by the way, are led by the then 40-year-old Bhaskar who plays a heinous hippie named Horace Bones. Born Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, Bhaskar was quite a big deal in his native India, honored as an actor and interpretive modern dancer. He came to the States in the 1950s and established his own dance company. He took a nasty spill in 1977 that left him confined to a wheelchair. He took up painting and had a second career as an artist. He passed away in 2003 shortly after recording the audio track that accompanies this edition of "I Drink Your Blood."

True cult-film buffs will recall that "I Drink Your Blood" producer, Jerry Gross, needed a second feature to release on the same bill. He acquired Del Tenney's 1964 "Voodoo Blood Bath," renamed it "I Eat Your Skin," and promoted the pair as "Two great blood-horrors to rip out your guts!"


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

David Colton, organizer of the Rondo Hatton Awards

Harris Lentz III, whose books are available at

Bob Madison, founder and CEO of Dinoship, Inc.

Bryan Senn, whose books are available at and at

Tom Weaver, whose books are available at and at


"The most spine chilling cry that ever froze the blood!" -- I Bury the Living

 All contents copyright The Astounding B Monster®