Monday, May 31, 2010


Presented here are a few more shots of the Columbia Pictures production of RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE, starring Bela Lugosi and Nina Foch. Used quite effectively are the evocation of dream-like images such as leaf-strewn breezes through the open windows of a veranda, fog-lit somnambulism and framed shots to guide the viewer's eye. Shadow and symbolism is used superbly in the last example.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DENNIS HOPPER (MAY 17, 1936 - MAY 29, 2010)

Dennis Hopper, who appeared in many roles including EASY RIDER and APOCALYPSE NOW, has died at his home in Venice, California, of complications from prostate cancer. He was 74. Of note to readers of MONSTER MOVIE WORLD, Mr. Hopper starred in NIGHT TIDE, a 1961 low-budget horror movie. Ironically, it was shot in and around Venice and Santa Monica. NIGHT TIDE, often cited as a moody, atomosheric and underrated mystery/horror film, was also director Curtis Harrington's first full-length feature film. Harrington died in 2007.



Why not get behind the wheel and drive the family to the park for a picnic and then to the theater for a movie?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


There are numerous visual elements that are used to set the scene and mood in monster movies and other supernatural horror films. The most successful of these are those that are less noticeable and natural, sometimes even subliminal. That's why art direction, set design and lighting are oftentimes taken for granted -- especially when they are done well -- because they have done their job by creating the atmosphere, that visual space where the actors make their characters come to life, in such a way as to help make the scene come alive without detracting from the action. I like to call this art form as it applies to horror movies, atmosphear.

And, what better way to introduce the subject of atmosphere than with images of a beautiful woman in a nightgown and a fog-drenched graveyard? Pretty Nina Foch, playing Nicki Saunders, has been sinisterly ensorceled by the vampire Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi) in RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (Columbia Pictures, 1944). Art Direction was by Lionel Banks and Victor Greene. Banks also contributed art direction to two other genre films for Columbia in 1944, CRY OF THE WEREWOLF (also starring Foch), and THE SOUL OF A MONSTER. Set decorations were handled by Lous Diage, who later went on to work on many well-known TV shows of the sixties, including THE MONKEES, THE FLYING NUN, and I DREAM OF JEANNIE. The person with the fog machine was no doubt special effects man Aaron Nibley.


Saturday, May 22, 2010


Get out and enjoy a double-creature feature at the drive-in this weekend  . . . if you can still find one.

Friday, May 21, 2010


You just can't keep a good monster down! Universal Studios has created a fantastic website celebrating 86 years of monster movies called UNIVERSAL MONSTER LEGACY. It consists of an interactive timeline where the reader can call out any number of classic Universal horror films from the years and view film clips, photos, and more. It also has a soundtrack player so you can get deeper into the monster mood. Highly recommended, monster movie fan, highly recommended!

Thursday, May 20, 2010



As theater patrons and home movie watchers, we are literally bombarded with imagery. The mind's seemingly limitless capacity takes these images and files them away in what Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot calls, "ze leetle gray cells", to be recalled in an instant. Certain images, when viewed often enough become what we call iconic, that is, an image that evokes more than what it simply depicts. Further still, the image recalls a deeper feeling -- happiness, sadness, nostalgia. This phenomena cannot be found to be any more evident than in monster movies and their kith and kin.

This series will depict those images, that when viewed, are intended to evoke the immediate recognition of our inculcated memory streams that are associated with it. Now, before I start getting all metaphysical and Jungian on you, here is the first pic.

I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958). A wedding night violated; a bride's worst nightmare; the groom's dread of being usurped; clinging to each other in unknown fear . . . from what? Can't they see the monster is about to strike?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Somebody asked me a while back what my favorite 50's B-horror films were. It didn't take me too long to come up with a short list. I'll be presenting them over the next week or so in no particular order. The first one is:

CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN (Vogue Pictures, 1958)

A fast-paced script and interesting premise make this a very watchable and underrated monster movie. Quintillus Aurelius as the Etruscan come back to life was pretty scary back in the day, to say nothing that the concept for the monster was wholly original. Also worthy of mention was the film score by Gerald Fried (I BURY THE LIVING, T.H.E. CAT, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., STAR TREK). It was energetic and fit the action perfectly. I have only one caution: Beware the man in the rubber suit that creases at the knees!


Monday, May 10, 2010

FRANK FRAZETTA (Feb. 9, 1928 - May 10, 2010)

The greatest modern fantasy artist of them all, FRANK FRAZETTA passed on today after suffering a stroke. Icon, Legend, Testament, all names of the titles of books that depicted his art, only begin to describe the almost indescribable influence that he had on the field of fantasy, science fiction, advertising, comic book, and many other forms of artwork and illustration.

Frank Frazetta was my hero. He drew and painted men that were masculine and brave and women that were beautifully dangerous and dangerously beautiful. My print of "Golden Girl", purchased many years ago with money that I could not afford to spend, signed by his own hand, will take on a deeper and more hallowed meaning from this point forward.

Rest In Peace now forever, with Ellie, the greatest treasure of your life here on earth.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Coming soon to a hobby shop near you is Moebius Models' re-issue of the "Monsters of the Movies" CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON snap-together model kit. No word yet on just when we'll be able to snag these beauts, but you can be rest assured this kit will probably end up flying (or swimming) off the shelf.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Just launched through Diamond Comic Distributors (March PREVIEWS) is the "Diamond Select" line of Unversal Monster action figures. The first of the "Diamond Dioramas" is THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (pictured above). The seven-inch tall Creature and "bathing beauty in distress" is sculpted by Rudy Garcia with a base sculpted by Jean St. Jean. While touted by the manufacturer as "perhaps it's most screen accurate detail", it doesn't take much to observe that the Creature has seen better creators and the "femme fatale", Kay Lawrence in the film, is obviously no Julie Adams (see picture below for comparison).
Nevertheless, it is always welcome to see the UNIVERSAL HORROR LEGACY live on. The figure is scheduled for a June 2010 release with a suggested retail price of $19.99.

The second in the UNIVERSAL MONSTERS SELECT line is slated to be THE MUMMY. Judging from the picture in the April issue of Diamond Comic Distributor's PREVIEWS, the sculpt is a little better in its depiction and easy to see the likeness is patterned after the Boris Karloff version (see picture below). The figure is sculpted by Jean St. Jean and the sarcophagus is by Rudy Garcia. I have to say that so far, I like St. Jean's work a little better as it is more accurate in detail and likeness than Garcia's attempt at Ben Chapman and Julie Adams in THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON diorama. The suggested retail price for THE MUMMY 7-inch action figure is $19.99.