Let's reflect on the soggy summer of 2001. Record temperatures baked The States, and newscasters thumbed their thesaurus' ragged looking for heat adjectives ("sweltohumoriffic" is our favorite). Perhaps you spent it in a theater. Maybe you blew 10 hard-earned bucks on that plotless monkey movie, or that phoned-in dino flick? (Admittedly, it is a kick to see those plastic Happy Meal figurines come to life on the big screen.) The B Monster offers his hydrated hopes that you managed to wring a bit of fun from the simmering season. In any case, as the last summer sounds of sweaty flesh peeling from Naugahyde fade into memory, enjoy the ensuing encomiums and pontific opining.


Walter Reed
Actor Walter Reed, who starred in a pair of memorable movie serials and appeared in dozens of B movies and television programs, is dead at 84. The cause of death was not immediately known. The son of an Army officer, Reed was born in Washington and grew up in Honolulu and Los Angeles, where he attended school with the children of movie stars. At 17, he decided to pursue an acting career. He hitched his way to New York and found work in stock and on Broadway. With an assist from actor Joel McCrea, he broke into films in the early 1940s.

Reed played small roles in such films as "Mexican Spitfire's Elephant," "Seven Days' Leave," "Army Surgeon" and "Bombardier." In 1951, he appeared opposite his friend George Reeves in "Superman and the Mole Men," the feature film that helped launch "The Adventures of Superman" teleseries. Reed may be best known to cult-film fans for the action-packed Republic serials "Flying Disc Man From Mars" and "Government Agents vs Phantom Legion." Throughout the 1950s, Reed appeared in numerous "B" pictures encompassing nearly every genre. His television work included episodes of "The Lone Ranger," "Gunsmoke," "Dragnet," "77 Sunset Strip" and many others. In 1960, he appeared in the voodoo cheapie, "Macumba Love," opposite Ziva Rodann and sexpot June Wilkinson. The low-budget oddity, directed by actor Douglas Fowley, was a surprise success at the box office. Reed retired from screen acting in 1969. July 14, 2001, was declared "Walter Reed Day" by the mayor of Santa Monica, Calif. Reed put his handprints, footprints and signature in cement and received the key to the city.

Poul Anderson
Science fiction author Poul Anderson died of cancer at his home in Orinda, Calif. He was 74. Anderson was a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, who named him a grandmaster in 1997. Over the course of his career, he won three Nebula and seven Hugo awards and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. His first story was published in 1947 while he was attending the University of Minnesota. He moved to California's Bay area in 1953. In remembering her husband, Karen Anderson said the author's stories "showed the importance of honor and courage, the wonder of the universe and knowing about it through science." Among Anderson's best-known works were epic novels such as "The Boat of a Million Years" and "Three Hearts and Three Lions."

Alex Nicol
Character actor and director Alex Nicol is dead at 85. The cause of death was not immediately known. Nicol appeared in dozens of B movies, spaghetti westerns and television programs. Cult-film enthusiasts will remember Nicol as the director of the 1958 exploitation shocker "The Screaming Skull," in which he also appeared as a leering groundskeeper. The film co-starred John Hudson and Peggy Webber. Nicol also appeared in such "A" productions as "Tomahawk," "Red Ball Express," and "Strategic Air Command" with James Stewart. His television work included episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits." He later directed episodes of "The Wild, Wild West" and "Daniel Boone," as well as a handful of low-budget features including two Tarzan adventures starring Ron Ely as the ape man.


As we announced last time, the Bob Burns-Tom Weaver profile of makeup legend Charles Gemora will be included in the upcoming volume of "The Best American Movie Writing." According to director John Landis, the book's debut will be heralded by ceremonies at the brand new Los Angeles Public Library. Landis, who'll headline a panel comprised of fellow directors, has asked Burns to share the dais. In addition, the recent DVD release of Landis' fright-film parody, "Schlock," features an audio commentary by the director and makeup maven Rick Baker, who makes prominent mention of Bob. Considering his contributions to horror-movie history, Burns has earned these public "thank yous," and then some.

Depending on your point of view, David Sechrest is either tirelessly devoted or totally insane. If you've an abiding affection for the monster mags of the 1950s and 60s, you've gotta admire this collector's dedication. If you're a hardcore fright-film fanatic with a mania for nailing down dates and places, you should thank your lucky stars for his compulsion. Sechrest has compiled the exhaustive "Index To Imagi-Movie Magazines, Volume I: The Warren Years." The title may mislead: It isn't just one index. He's cataloged EVERY issue of "Famous Monsters," "Monster World," "Spacemen," The FM Yearbooks and Warren paperbacks. That means you can search EVERY issue by film title, subject -- even most of the letters to the editor! (And before you even ask, yes, scads of the original Captain Company ads are part of the package.) For instance, are you looking for info on "The Amazing Colossal Man?" Here's what you'll find:

Amazing Colossal Man, The (1957) - FM1, p.42. FM18, pgs.28-33. FM107, pgs. 30, 32, 35. FM182, p. 24. 1964 YRBK, p. 46 (reprint from FM1). 1969 YRBK, pgs. 58-65 (reprint from FM18). The Best From Famous Monsters Of Filmland, pgs. 138, 140 (reprint from FM1). Famous Monsters Of Filmland Strike Back, pgs. 44-57 (reprint from FM18)

This zealous chronicler set about his work with the collector in mind, and every title and subject to appear in the pages of the aforementioned 'zines gets the same treatment as the "Colossal" listing above. "The index was a major undertaking," says Sechrest. "The concept behind the index is to enable the collector, or researcher to locate specific information quickly, as well as protecting those highly collectible issues. Want to read an article in FM5, but worry about handling it? Simply look up the article here, see if it was reprinted in a later issue, and grab that one, leaving your original bagged. Not sure what the title of the article was? Do a "Find" or "Find again" with your Acrobat reader and locate it that way." The information is available on disk, in PDF format, compiled using Windows 98. Sechrest points out that, "If you are using a MAC, I believe these files will open, since they are written in PDF format." The price is $14.95, and you can find out more by visiting: Tell 'em the B Monster sent you!

"Time Machine" director Simon Wells (descended from H.G. himself), says he surrendered the director's chair to Gore Verbinski just weeks before principal photography concluded. Wells, who cited "massive exhaustion" as the reason for stepping aside, says he's grateful to Verbinski for his contributions to the final film. Verbinski for his part says that Wells had already done all the heavy lifting and that he was happy to help pull the pieces together. Fans of the classic George Pal version might be interested to know that, according to effects ace Stan Winston, the evil, subterranean Moorlocks will be realized, not just through computer animation, but a combination of CGI and actors in good, old-fashioned rubber suits.

Here's a real shocker: They're already planning "Jurassic Park IV"! According to Unreel Magazine, "Amblin [Entertainment] has confirmed that a fourth installment of the dinosaur series is already in development." Producer Kathleen Kennedy told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, "Steven has something really amazing in mind for JP IV." If star Sam Neill has his way, it WILL be amazing. According to the actor, who appeared in JP's 1 and 3, "my thoughts for 'Jurassic Park IV' is that we eliminate one certain aspect of American culture that bothers me. Let the T-rex stomp on all Wal-Marts! No one would mind the dinosaurs attacking stores that brought the downfall of downtown America." (Sidebar: My local Wal-Mart sells the original "Jurassic Park" for just $14.95! You can't beat these dino-sized savings!)

And speaking of "sequelitis," The Hollywood Reporter says that John "Manchurian Candidate" Frankenheimer will direct a fourth "Exorcist" flick forthcoming from Morgan Creek Productions. The story functions as a prequel to the previous films, chronicling Father Merrin's initial encounter with Lucifer in the 1940s. Shooting begins this spring. Why is Satan still such boffo box-office? Speaking from his villa on the French Riviera, Lucifer offered no explanation, but said he was "truly touched" by the public's ongoing interest in his career. The reclusive star, who's been romantically linked with Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts and Bea Arthur, has turned down his salary for the upcoming film in lieu of a percentage of the gross and the producer's souls.

A forthcoming remake of "Dawn of the Dead," the sequel to George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead," is the latest evidence of Hollywood's stubborn commitment to unoriginality. According to Variety, screenwriter James Gunn is already working on a screenplay overhauling the Romero-produced, Tom Savini-directed sequel to Romero's original shocker, which has itself already been remade. (Confused?) Are the imaginations of filmmakers really so parched that they've resorted to remaking sequels? Let us suggest a few. Why not remake "Lethal Weapon 3"? They could call it "Lethal Weapon 3, 2." How about "Die Hard 2, 2"? Come to think of it, when does "Air Force One 2" come out?

Filmmaker Stephen Chiodo says that MGM's forthcoming DVD release of his offbeat sci-fi homage, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space," is "the best print ever" of the cult-favorite that seems to enjoy perpetual life via the grainier prints that run on cable stations so often. The letterbox release features loads of never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes clips and samples of pre-production art. As Chiodo points out, "Despite its title, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" is a loving and serious homage to all the great 50's & 60's monster movies I enjoyed when I was a kid."

Who would know more about Halloween decor than a witch's neighbor? Kasey Rogers, known to fans the world over as Louise Tate of "Bewitched" fame, and co-author Mark Wood have recently completed "Halloween Crafts: Eerily Elegant Decor." The actress (formerly known as Laura Elliott) who appeared with Jim Arness in the Boris Petroff dinosaur flick, "Two Lost Worlds," not to mention George Pal's "When Worlds Collide," provides the last word on how to make your home drop-dead gorgeous during this holiday season so close to the B Monster's heart. (Kasey's previous tome, "The Bewitched Cookbook: Magic in the Kitchen," likewise co-written with Wood, is out of print, though you might try back-ordering a copy). Look 'em up on

And check out Tom Weaver's extensive profile of Kasey while you're at it:

Sobini Films has conscripted Mark Amin to write a screenplay for their upcoming film, "Johnny Frankenstein." The contemporary take on the "Frankenstein" tale involves a suicidal loser obsessed with making his body perfect. Is Johnny any relation to Fred Olen Ray's "Billy Frankenstein?"

Post-production work is nearly complete on "Space Station," the first IMAX 3-D space film. The movie, chronicling the construction of the international space station, was shot by REAL astronauts and cosmonauts trained as filmmakers ... lights, cameras, sound, the works! It should be interesting to see how the real deal stacks up against the recent crop of plodding space operas ("Red Planet," "Mission to Mars," "Supernova") larded, as they are, with handsome special effects. The film is scheduled for a spring 2002 release.

Producer Joel Silver, best known for "The Matrix" and having complete contempt for the public's intelligence, recently told USA Today that filmmakers today must inject more action into their films. "Wait till you see what we're doing," Silver said. "Think of a car chase inside the Matrix. It's beyond anything you could ever imagine." No kiddin,' he really said that.

First, director Kevin "Dogma" Smith accused director Tim Burton of stealing the ending for his "Planet of the Apes" remake from one of Smith's "Jay and Silent Bob" comic books. For the tragically unhip among you, Smith appears as the Silent Bob character in some of own films. (The Gen-X equivalent of the Hitchcock cameo?). In response, Burton told the New York Post that he had "not seen the image." The director of "Batman" AND "Batman Returns" added, "anybody that knows me knows I do not read comic books, and I especially wouldn't read anything that was created by Kevin Smith." Ouch! This drove Smith into full retreat, and he soon posted a qualified retraction on his Website. "I do not think the 'Planet of the Apes' ending was stolen from the 'Jay and Silent Bob' miniseries ... nor am I thinking about taking anyone to court." Smith maintains that his accusation was a "jokey" reference he made to a friend at The Post, adding that it seemed "to have been taken seriously by a slew of other news outlets." Smith's contrite tone then rapidly evaporated. "Doesn't anybody pick up a phone to confirm sh-t anymore, rather than just poaching a piece out of another paper? Yes, I worked on a 'Superman Lives' script that [Burton] sh-t-canned when he got the gig helming it. Yes, I've told a very long-winded story about the saga of Superman at college gigs, comic book conventions, the [Howard] Stern show and on Conan O'Brien (only when asked about it, though). Yes, I've signed many a bootleg copy of my 'Superman Lives' script 'F-ck Tim Burton' (with tongue firmly planted in cheek)." The B Monster is not taking sides. We're fans of both these great talents, and we expect big things from them once they've finished Junior High School.

Harry Knowles of "The Ain't It Cool News" Website has condemned cyber-columnist Matt Drudge for giving away the ending of Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" remake. Knowles referred to Drudge as a "royal ass" and offered to "bitch slap" him. You fools! Don't you see? That's exactly what the apes want -- dissension among Earth's power elite! They'll foment hostility and sweep into power. Do you want to live in an ape-dominated society ruled by simians who don't sanction your negative rantings with overnight celebrity


Whew! How's THAT for a title? (We'll refer to it hereafter as MCTPPSSSSE2K1.) David L. Hewitt producer, director, writer, actor, special effects maven, gorilla suit model (and probably butcher, baker and candlestick maker in his spare time) has to be one of the most resilient, courageous if not outright crazy filmmakers in history. With nary a dime to his name, he nonetheless managed to churn out "Wizard of Mars," "Journey to the Center of Time," "The Mighty Gorga" and lots more. None of them were very good, but my money says history will be kinder to Hewitt than, say, Joel Schumacher. Early in his career, Hewitt and a gang of friends slapped together "Pajama Party," a mercifully short, affectionate nod to the waning live theater spook shows of the 1940s and 50s. (Ex-stage show illusionist Hewitt originally planned the film as a feature, but when edited, it ran just 33 minutes.) The paper-thin premise (teens spending the night in a spooky house inhabited by a mad scientist) is just an excuse for Hewitt and his pals to halt the film at its climax, douse the lights, don scary masks and run screaming into the live audience. All in good fun with Hewitt and company doing double duty in front of and behind the camera. The MCTPPSSSSE2K1 DVD bonuses include several short subjects, including the 3D "Asylum of the Insane" (3-D glasses included), Spook Show previews and lessons in "How to Put on Your Own Spook Show."

And for some reason, Bert I. Gordon's "messterpiece," "Tormented" is tacked onto the playbill. Richard Carlson stars as the pianist in titular torment, his ex having been tossed from the top of a subsequently haunted lighthouse. It's pretty silly, slow-going stuff featuring some of Bert and Flora Gordon's least ambitious effects, including the crude floating head that continually interrupts Carlson's arpeggios.

Let's be clear on this, we LOVE producer Herman Cohen. The man behind "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein," "Target Earth" and so many others is one of the most unsung of some very singable movie heroes. That having been said, I'll make it equally clear that Cohen's "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla" is torturous viewing. (It did come forgivably early in the young producer's career.) It's fascinating in that automobile-accident kinda way. Poor Bela should have known better and probably did but, alas, needed the money. The much-maligned director William Beaudine is saddled with Martin and Lewis impersonators Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo. Petrillo (an interview with whom is part of this DVD package) is shrill, offensive and annoying throughout -- and he's STILL funnier than Jerry Lewis. And Duke Mitchell is -- well, let's just say he's not Dean Martin and let it go at that.

The packaging refers to this 1945 pot-boiler as "A Poverty Row suspense classic as only Ulmer made 'em." Whether or not the label "classic" is too liberally applied is an issue we'll leave to others to argue. The important thing is that fans of Ulmer can at last SEE the movie. The average film buff knows Ulmer primarily for three films: "The Black Cat," "Detour" and "Man From Planet X," each a "classic" of sorts in its own right. But he was an incredibly prolific filmmaker. Sadly, much of his work is lost to obscurity, and tracking down his forgotten titles has proved an arduous task even for "well-connected" film archivists. Judge for yourself whether "Strange Illusion" is a classic or not, but appreciate the fact that you can see it. (And let me know if you run across a copy of "Yankl der Shmid.")

Just how special can something called "Corpse Grinders" be? Ted V. Mikels, the auteur behind the grinding has his adherents, and even his detractors must appreciate his talent for fashioning exploitable, eye-catching titles: "The Doll Squad," "Blood Orgy of the She Devils," "10 Violent Women" -- pretty much what you'd expect from a guy who lives in a castle with a harem of babes. (Yes, he really does.) The title says it all. The eponymous cadavers end up as cat food, and felines everywhere take a fancy to human flesh. The "Special Edition" features a theatrical trailer, production stills and a music video tribute by something called "Bentmen." (You crazy kids with the loud music and the sideburns ...)

One technologically-advanced day in the future, we'll all have the ability to edit feature films on our home computers. You'll be able to take a film like "Armageddon," remove the flatulent dialogue, corny telegraphed plot points, annoying actors and skull-crushing ZZ Top music. What you'll end up with will be something very much like "When Worlds Collide." Producer George Pal's Oscar-winning effects are surely dated, but there's a heart to the film that is not to be found in sci-fi movies of more recent vintage. You all know the plot -- Earth is on a collision course with a runaway heavenly body, and scientists prepare to begin society anew on a passing planet that just missed Earth by a whisker. There's an underlying optimism well-realized by Pal, director Rudolph Mate and stars Richard Derr, Barbara Rush and John Hoyt.

Compared with the unlucky lycanthrope in this feature, Larry Talbot's transition from man to wolf was a breeze. Director John Landis and makeup ace Rick Baker spare no details in depicting just what a painful puberty werewolfism can be. The bone-crunching, flesh-snapping, hair-sprouting metamorphosis is sheer agony for our star, and the transition sequences are the highlight of Landis' quasi-homage to the Universal horrors he was reared on. Baker won a well-earned Oscar and a Saturn Award from The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. The Special Edition showcases commentary tracks by actors David Naughton and Griffin Dunne, the theatrical trailer, cast and crew biographies and interviews with Baker and John Landis.


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

"See screaming young girls sucked into a labyrinth of horror by a blood-starved ghoul from hell!" -- Beast From Haunted Cave

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