It's The B Monster's time of year! Fright films on the tube, a chill in the air, frost on the pumpkin, and the living room floor littered with candy wrappers. Enhance your Halloween with the following compendium of must-have horror news and indispensible esoterica.


Robert Wright Campbell
Author, screenwriter Robert Wright Campbell is dead at 73. The cause of death was not reported. Campbell wrote the screenplays for a handful of cult-film classics directed by Roger Corman, including Corman's first, "Five Guns West." Campbell also collaborated with Corman on "Machine Gun Kelly" and "Teenage Caveman." His script for the big-budget Lon Chaney biopic, "Man of a Thousand Faces," starring James Cagney as the silent-screen legend, was nominated for an Academy Award.

Campbell also wrote for numerous television programs including "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "Maverick." His Novel, "The Spy Who Sat and Waited" was nominated for the 1976 National Book Award and his mystery, "Junkyard Dog," won the Edgar Allen Poe Award given by the Mystery Writers of America. His novel, "In La La Land We Trust," is largely credited with popularizing the expression used by many to describe Hollywood. Campbell's brother, William, is a prolific actor whose credits include "Dementia 13," "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" and "Blood Bath."

Joseph H. Lewis
Prolific B-movie director Joseph H. Lewis is dead at 93. The cause of death was not reported. Lewis, who in 1997 was the recipient of a Los Angeles Film Critics Association lifetime achievement award, began his film career as an editor, working on some of the classic action serials of the 1930s including "The Undersea Kingdom" and "The Adventures of Rex and Rinty." He began directing B westerns in the late 1930s, working with such cowboy heroes as Charles Starrett and William "Wild Bill" Elliott. During this phase of his career, he acquired the nickname "Wagon Wheel Joe" -- whenever possible Lewis would add an artistic flourish to an average western by shooting scenes through the spokes of a wagon wheel.

Beyond the western genre, Lewis directed potboilers such as "Spy Ring" and "Criminals Within," the Lionel Atwill thriller "The Mad Doctor of Market Street" and several pictures featuring "The Dead End Kids." In 1941, Lewis directed what many consider the best of Bela Lugosi's Monogram horror-cheapies, "The Invisible Ghost," enhancing the decidedly thin premise with his atmospheric touches. Lewis was also one of the chief architects of film noir, directing two of the bona fide classics in the influential genre. Both "Gun Crazy" and "The Big Combo" were stylish, bold advances for crime cinema, coupling gritty realism with innovative camera work. By the late 1950s, Lewis had transitioned to television, directing episodes of "The Rifleman," "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke" and others.

Curt Siodmak
Author, screenwriter and director Curt Siodmak died at his home in Three Rivers, Calif., following a heart attack. He was 98. Born in Dresden, Germany, in 1902, Siodmak worked as an engineer and a newspaper reporter before entering the literary and movie fields. It was as a reporter that he got his first break (of sorts) in films: In 1926, he and his reporter-wife hired on as extras in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" in order to get a story on the director and his film. One of Siodmak's first film-writing assignments was the screenplay for the German science fiction picture "F. P. 1 Antwortet Nicht" ("Floating Platform 1 Does Not Answer"), based on his own novel. Compelled to leave Germany after Hitler took power, Siodmak went to work as a screenwriter in England and then moved to Hollywood in 1937. He got a job at Universal through his director-friend Joe May, helping write the script for May's "The Invisible Man Returns." Because the film went over well, Siodmak says, he fell into the horror/science-fiction "groove."

Siodmak provided stories and screenplays for classic cult-horror films such as "The Wolf Man," "Son of Dracula" (directed by his brother, Robert), "The Ape," "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," "House of Frankenstein," "The Beast With Five Fingers," "I Walked With A Zombie" and others. As a film director, his credits include "Bride of the Gorilla" and "Curucu, Beast of the Amazon." Siodmak will perhaps be best remembered for his classic science fiction novel "Donovan's Brain." Never out of print since it's initial release, it was made into a feature film starring Lew Ayers and Gene Evans, a classic radio broadcast starring Orson Welles, and has spawned countless imitations in both film and literature.

Gloria Talbott
Actress Gloria Talbott is dead at 69. Ms. Talbott is probably best known to film fans for her role as the baffled bride in the sci-fi cult classic "I Married A Monster From Outer Space." Her other fright-film credits include "Daughter of Dr. Jekyll," opposite John Agar, and "The Leech Woman," featuring Coleen Gray in the title role.

Talbott was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, a city co-founded by her great-great-grandfather. Growing up in the shadows of the Hollywood studios, her interests inevitably turned to acting. She participated in school plays and landed small parts in films such as "Maytime" (1937), "Sweet and Lowdown" (1943) and "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1945). After leaving school, she started her own dramatic group and played "arena"-style shows at various clubs. After a three-year hiatus (marriage, motherhood and divorce), Talbott resumed her career, working extensively in both TV and films. Among her television credits are appearances in "Gunsmoke," "Rawhide," "Zorro," Perry Mason" and many others. Her sister, Lori Talbott, was also an actress.

Talbott's husband, Dr. Patrick Mullally, expressed his gratitude to her fans and explained the circumstances surrounding her death. Gloria and Patrick were involved in a motorcycle accident in 1993. Gloria seriously injured her right elbow. Nerve damage resulted, which also affected her back and legs. For years afterwards, she received photos in the mail for autographing but couldn't sign them due to her injury. However, she kept them all in hopes that she would be able to sign and return them someday.

In recent years, she began to have more and more difficulty walking, and was bedridden in the months prior to her death. She developed pneumonia and was admitted to a hospital where she responded so well to antibiotics she was told she could go home after a few days. She then took a turn for the worse: She was put on a ventilator and heavily sedated. The infection in her lungs had spread throughout her body. Finally, there was kidney failure, and she died very peacefully. According to her husband, having two grandchildren kept her going the last couple years, but she was always in pain. After seeing her suffer so long, her passing was merciful. Patrick wants Gloria's fans to know that all the un-autographed photos will be returned to their senders along with a cover letter about her passing.


The "Cult Movies Magazine Convention 2000" boasts an impressive lineup of celebs of all sorts. Topping the bill will be Yvette "Attack of the Giant Leeches" Vickers, Ann "War of the Worlds" Robinson, Robert "Count Yorga" Quarry, Jack "Spider Baby" Hill, Dolores "Glen or Glenda" Fuller, Turhan Bey, Jon Provost, Harry Novak, Fred Olen Ray, Bob Burns and "Blade Runner" castmates Joanna Cassidy, William Sanderson and Joe Turkel.

The comics and illustration fields are well-represented by Bill Stout, Dave Stevens and Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez. Top-flight writers such as David Schow, Brad Linaweaver, Laurie Jacobson and Frank Dello Stritto will also be in attendance. And, of course, over 50 memorabilia dealers. A three-day pass is $25. Single-day admission is $10. It gets under way October 20 in the beautiful Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, Calif. Order your tickets from: Cameo Distributors, LLC, PO Box 685, Torrance, CA, 90508. For more info: Call: 213-612-5156 E-mail: cultmovies@aol.com or visit http://www.cult-movies.com And tell 'em The B Monster sent ya!

I don't know why this even surprises us: They're remaking "The Magnificent Ambersons"! The remake of the Orson Welles classic will be directed by Alfonso Arau ("Like Water for Chocolate") and based on Welles' original shooting script. The original was taken out of Welles' hands and refashioned by studio heads into something they thought more commercial. Even if the remake is a misguided attempt to right that wrong, for corn's sake, you just don't try to top Orson Welles. To make matters worse, it's being stretched into a four-hour miniseries for A&E! The cast will include James Cromwell, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Bruce Greenwood, Madeline Stowe, Jennifer Tilly, Dina Merrill-Hartley and Gretchen Mol.

Producer Joel Silver ("The Matrix," "Lethal Weapon 1, 2, 3, 4" etc.) plans to remake Michael Crichton's 1973 film "Westworld." Not that the original, which starred Yul Brynner, James Brolin and Richard Benjamin, couldn't be outdone, but why "Westworld?" You may recall that it featured gunslinging robots running amok in a futuristic western theme park. No doubt the update will feature state-of-the-art CGI and that all-important "edginess" that Hollywood seems to think we're in such dire need of.

A former MCI sales exec in Corpus Christi, Texas, owns what is quite possibly the world's largest collection of Superman memorabilia. According to the Corpus Christi Caller Times, Tim Gardner left his job three years ago, determined to make "Superman into a business almost as big, powerful and benevolent as the comic book hero he worships." Gardner is the go-to guy when it comes to Super-stuff with a collection that includes 120 watches, two of the capes used by Christopher Reeve, a scrap of fabric from the 1950s television show, which starred George Reeves, a rare 1978 Superman tricycle and a complete set of Superman golf clubs. To add interest to the article, the Caller Times has included a link where fans can vote for their favorite Superman. Last time we checked, George Reeves hand a commanding lead, but Christopher Reeve and Kirk Alyn were still in the running. You can also include some personal comments with your vote. Go to: http://www.caller.com/2000/september/07/today/local_ne/3702.html

An aggregation of noted science fiction writers known as "Write Aid" are contributing their talents to "The Deprivers Project." According to author and project organizer Steven-Elliot Altman, "I sent out some guidelines in the form of a medical brochure to some authors and friends, and said, 'Hey, let's write for these two charities.' (HEAL: Health Education AIDS Liaison and F.A.C.T: Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy)." The resulting stories will be collected into an anthology and all proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the two causes.

The common thread winding through each of the collected stories is the onset of a fictitious epidemic created by Altman. The writing guidelines, distributed to the various authors, were in the form of a faux government Public Safety Notice with panic-potential reminiscent of Wells+ "War of the Worlds." The stories involve individuals who face isolation when they become infected with this new virus and are restricted by law from making skin-on-skin contact with non-infected individuals. The touch of a "Depriver" causes a "normal" to lose one of their senses. Writers have so far focused on blindness, deafness, loss of balance -- even loss of time-awareness. Contributors include Janet Asimov, William F. Nolan, Harry Turtledove, Sean Stewart, Tananarive Due, Kit Reed, Maggie Estep, Katherine Dunn and Edward Gorey.

The project is due for an October 1 premier from ibooks, distributed by Simon & Schuster. For more information, visit http://www.deprivers.com

An upcoming screen biopic of Johnny Eck, the sideshow "half-boy" featured in Tod Browning's controversial 1932 classic "Freaks," will feature "Titanic" stud Leonardo DiCaprio in the dual role of Johnny and his fully-developed twin sibling, Robert. The film, which chronicles the brother's struggles to lead normal, fulfilling lives, is being developed by veteran producer Mark Gordon. The role will no doubt be physically demanding as the real Johnny had no lower torso or legs.

The "Chiller Theatre" guest list continues to grow at an alarming rate. In addition to headliners Billy Dee Williams, James "Scotty" Doohan, Andrew Robinson, Robert Vaughn and Patricia Neal, the East Coast's premier horror, sci fi and all-around sensory-overload-fest will present Ben "Creature" Chapman, Tura Satana, Mark "Lost in Space" Goddard, 70s adult star Linda Lovelace, practically the entire cast of "Land of the Giants" and too many more to mention. For the complete lowdown, check out http://www.chillertheatre.com As always, tell 'em The B Monster sent you!

Composer Phillip Glass, accompanied by the Kronos String Quartet, performed his atmospheric new "Dracula" score live at Wolf Trap Farm Park, the national park for the performing arts in Vienna, Va. Glass, who was commissioned by Universal Studios to compose the new score, played in front of a giant screen showing the Bela Lugosi classic. Glass's music seems to make the creaky thriller more accessible to a contemporary crowd (even though the melodramatic acting at times evoked titters from the less-tolerant members of the audience). For the record, local papers gave the inventive blend of stodgy old film and stylish new music rave reviews.

The "horror host" element of the following item may only be of relevance if you grew up on the WestCcoast, but it's still a kick to write about. "Creature Features" returns to Oakland live on the Parkway Theater stage every Thursday in October. Vintage drive-in horror/sci-fi trailers provided by "Uncle Bill, the Trailer King" will be featured before the creatures. Special guests for every show include August Ragone from "Kimono My House" and theremin master Robert Silverman. The first three programs will be hosted by John Stanley. The final program on Oct 26 at 7:30 will feature the return of Oakland horror host Bob Wilkins.

10/5: Atomic mutations on the loose: Toho's "H Man" (1959) and AIP's "War of the Colossal Beast." Program begins at 7:30 p.m., $8. Guests include August Ragone and Japanese fantasy cinema expert, Bob Johnson.

10/12: Allison "50 Foot Woman" Hayes in "Zombies of Mora Tau" and "It Came From Beneath the Sea" featuring Ray Harryhausen's "sextopus!" Program begins at 7:30PM. Premier theremist Robert Silverman will be on hand to play his thrilling therapeutic theremin.

10/19: Peter Cushing in Hammer's "Revenge of Frankenstein" (1958) Bela Lugosi in "Return of the Vampire." Program begins at 7:30PM, $8. Other special guests to be announced.

10/26: The return of Bob Wilkins hosting William Castle's "The Tingler" and the original "Night of the Living Dead." Program begins at 7:30PM; advance $10 tickets go on sale at the Parkway box office ONLY beginning Thursday, Oct. 5. Bob Wilkins will be joined on stage by KTVU's entertainment reporter Bob Shaw, who worked with Wilkins on "Creature Features," as well as John Stanley.

For more info, check out http://www.picturepubpizza.com

From "On Writing," by horror literature's leading light, Stephen King: "I was born in 1947 and we didn't get our first television until 1958. The first thing I remember watching on it was 'Robot Monster,' a film in which a guy dressed in an ape-suit with a goldfish bowl on his head -- Ro-Man, he was called -- ran around trying to kill the last survivors of a nuclear war. I felt this was art of quite a high nature."

A Nike commercial depicting a scantily clad female athlete fleeing from a chainsaw-wielding maniac generated so many viewer complaints that NBC was forced to yank it from their Olympics coverage. The ad depicts an Olympic runner undressing to shower in her remote cabin. The maniac bursts in, she screams and flees through the woods setting a new slasher-film speed record. Presumably, if you wear Nike shoes, you'll be able to outrun chainsaw-wielding maniacs, just like our Olympic athletes do. A Washington Post editorial called the ad "about as tasteless, exploitative and inappropriate as an ad can be." Nike says they were trying to be "edgy."

Lon Chaney's busting out all over this Halloween season. New York-area residents can check out the ongoing tribute to the silver screen's Man of a Thousand Faces at the American Museum of the Moving Image (35 Avenue at 36 Street, Astoria, Queens), whose weekend Chaney series continues untilOctober 29. Peruse the entire schedule by visiting the Museum's website, http://www.ammi.org

Got a crumb-cruncher around the house who might be interested in the Lonster? Pick up the new children's book "The Boy of a Thousand Faces" (HarperCollins) by Brian Selznick. In Selznick's story, Alonzo King -- a 10-year-old happily obsessed with black-and-white horror movies, his local horror host "Mr. Shadows" and Chaney's "The Phantom of the Opera" -- becomes a local celeb when his community is haunted by a mysterious werewolf-like creature dubbed The Beast.

One character in the story is named Mr. Blake as a tribute to Chaney biographer extraordinaire Michael Blake, who co-stars in Turner Classic Movies' "Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces," directed by Kevin Brownlow. This revealing documentary features rare footage (including Chaney home movies) and interviews with those who knew and worked with Chaney, including Loretta Young (voice only), recorded very shortly before her recent passing. The 86-minute documentary is the centerpiece of a Turner Classic Movies Chaney tribute series, which includes the TCM premiere of Lon's legendary "Tell It to the Marines" (1927), featuring Chaney as a tough sergeant.

"Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces" airs Oct. 24 and 31; visit the Turner website -- http://tcm.turner.com -- for showtimes.

Catch B Monster-buddy and Dracula expert non-pareil, Bob Madison, discussing the Transylvanian bloodsucker tonight (Sunday, Oct. 15) on AMC's "Behind the Screen" at 7:30 and midnight ET. Bob is the author of "Dracula: The First Hundred Years," available at Amazon.com or through Midnight Marquee Press -- http://www.midmar.com


Q: Whatever became of one of Roger Corman's favorite stock players, Barboura Morris?

A: Sad to say Ms. Morris passed away quite a few years ago. She was married at one time to director Monte Hellman and also acted under the name Barbara Crane. In addition, she co-wrote at least one movie.

Q: Okay. My wife and I have gone round and round on this. Once and for all, who played the "Lost In Space" robot?

A: Actor Bob May was the man inside the steel suit, while Dick Tuefeld provided the robot's voice. Interestingly, both actors will be appearing at the "Chiller Theatre" convention starting this October 27 in East Rutherford, NJ. (See above)


Are you sure you want to bother with this? Okay, here's the "official" plot synopsis from the companion Web site: "Sometimes, what you can't see can kill you. Prepare yourself for the new space thriller 'Pitch Black.' Learn more about the survivors of the crashed deep space transport Hunter-Gratzner, including psychopathic, escaped convict Riddick, and the desolate and deadly planet where they all crash landed."

Sound familiar? It is. It's "It! The Terror From Beyond Space," "Alien," "Predator," "Terminator" -- even "Flight of the Phoenix" -- well, at least they stole from the best. Vin Diesel plays the aforementioned whacko, tough-guy convict. He's got screen presence to spare and, as the voice of "The Iron Giant," he qualifies as okay in our book. Otherwise, take a nap, play with your dog, talk to your wife. Don't get us wrong, if you're looking for a movie with some nifty effects that'll make you feel smart because you can predict everything that's going to happen, you just might love "Pitch Black."

The good people at Englewood Entertainment present another collection of pioneering TV broadcasts. "Tales of Tomorrow," one of television's earliest attempts at serious sci fi, was nothing if not ambitious, sometimes slow-going, but always interesting. This presentation will be especially entertaining for genre-film fans as it includes the series' overreaching but laudable half-hour adaptation of "Frankenstein," starring Lon Chaney Jr. as the monster. According to publicity, Chaney "had tipped a few too many whiskies before showtime," and the script calls for him to do little more than shamble, grunt and groan. John Newland of "One Step Beyond" fame portrays the legendary doctor.

Also included is "The Miraculous Serum," starring Richard Derr ("When Worlds Collide") and based on a story by Theodore Sturgeon, about a scientist who concocts an elixer that grants eternal life. Rounding out the package is "Read to Me, Herr Doktor," a decidedly creepy story about a sentient robot who falls in love with his creator's daughter. Everett Sloane is the inventor this time around, and Academy Award-winner Mercedes McCambridge portrays the object of the metal man's inhuman affection.

The folks behind the Firstrites film series are releasing a horde of horror titles for the Halloween season. FirstRites is a subdivision of the distribution company, The Asylum, producing independent films that showcase the talents of emerging film makers. Highlighting this month's horrific lineup:

"Shades of Darkness" Bridget Avers wakes to find that her former life is taking over her present one. Unless she can resolve the terrors of the past, the malevolent Entity that once threatened her will destroy her ... and all who cross Its path.

"The Man Next Door" A young woman must fight her own mental illness to escape the blade of a serial killer ... who lives next door.

"Raven's Ridge" A team of thieves pull off a bank heist, hiding the cash in the woods until the heat dies down. However, after the man with the map is arrested, the rest of the team must find the hidden money ... and fight off a vicious killer who uses the woods as his hunting grounds.

"Equinox Knocks" On the night of the Autumn Equinox, teenager Allie Black idly wishes she were a boy. In the morning, she must face life as Caleb ... a female in a male body!

"Party Crasher" The story of a young man's return home from a hellish stay in a mental institution ... and the lethal havoc that ensues upon his homecoming.

For more info, visit http://www.hollywoodvideo.com/firstrites/first_rites.htm As this is any monster fan's busiest time of year, we're confident you'll welcome this mid-October update. We're certain your in-baskets are clogged with superfluous mailings, and we're reluctant to contribute to the log-jam. But we feel the following items deserve your rapt attention, nonetheless.


Alfred Hitchcock's incomparable chase thriller premiers on DVD with a stunning package of extras in tow. It features an all-new digital transfer of the film (I'm still not exactly sure what that means), the original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a gallery of production stills, even TV spots that promoted the film upon its initial release. This is the Hitchcock film for people who hate Hitchcock films -- breathtakingly paced, compactly written and edited, and featuring the kind of movie stars they don't make any more -- Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason.

One of The B Monster's favorite 50s shockers is soon to see its DVD premier. If ever a B movie deserved the digital preservation treatment, this is it. I mean, how many teenage/western/sci fi/horror pictures are there? As a kid (1960s vintage), you may have caught it on TV bearing the title "Meteor Monster," but make no mistake, this is the one with the shaggy, speech-slurring teenage brute played by 50-year-old stunt man Gil Perkins. Highlighting this package are Tom Weaver's insightful liner notes, which include comments from Perkins (who recalls legendary makeup man Jack Pierce as "a miserable old bastard"), co-star Anne Gwynn and director Jacques Marquette.


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

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

"Too awesome to describe. Too terrifying to escape. Too powerful to stop!" -- Monster From Green Hell

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