June 8, 2023

The Art and Craft of Horror: Monsterpalooza 2023

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Monsterpalooza is the monster mother of all West Coast horror conventions, attracting thousands of fans each spring with innumerable exhibits, dealers, make-up demonstrations, panels and celebrities ready for autograph signing and/or photo ops. (A smaller version, Son of Monsterpalooza, takes place in the fall.)

Eliot Brodsky, a native New Yorker, brought the show to Burbank, CA in 2009, where it became an instant hit. Brodsky, a makeup and special effects aficionado, wanted to highlight the amazing work of FX artists in Hollywood’s backyard, where so much movie magic takes place:

“I just felt the only way it could be successful is if it was dropped right into California, in the backyards of all the major FX shops. I’d give the FX shops some time to shine in the light a bit and show what they do, what goes behind creating these monsters. You have obviously the main FX shops, then you have the group of artists who go from shop to shop based on productions. I wanted those guys to be in the spotlight as much as the FX shops. We gained support from the artists because they’ve never been allowed to show off what they can do. And there was no way they could come to the East Coast. So, I just bit the bullet and pulled it together from across the country.” [Ryan Turek, “Meet Monsterpalooza’s Eliot Brodsky,” ComingSoon.net, March 10, 2010]

In 2016 the event moved to the Pasadena Convention Center, where it’s been held ever since. Monsterpalooza has been on my bucket list for a long time. Right before the pandemic in 2019 I had the good fortune to attend the Monster Bash convention in Mars, PA, highlighted by the participation of Hammer stars Veronica Carlson (now unfortunately deceased), Martine Beswick and Christopher Neame (see my write-up of the convention here).

Whereas Monster Bash is smaller, more intimate and focuses on the classic monsters, Monsterpalooza is big, brash and in-your-face, teeming with hordes of fans mixing it up with make-up and FX artists, modelers, crafts people, vendors, actors, writers, podcasters and various industry insiders. While the emphasis is more on horror from the ‘80s on, there are still a good many hold outs (like myself) that show up wearing classic monster t-shirts.

This year’s Monsterpalooza was held on June 2 - 4. I was greatly impressed by the age range of the attendees -- from infants in strollers to old codgers like me and everything in between. If just half the kids I saw there grow up to be die hard horror fans, the genre has a long life ahead of it. 

Monsterpalooza 2023 - Werewolf costume
An escapee from the exhibit halls at Monsterpalooza.

Panels and presentations

Given Monsterpalooza’s emphasis on FX, naturally many of the presentations featured well-known artists.

Mike Elizalde grew up watching the Universal monsters on TV, which propelled him into a life-long fascination with monster-making. After a stint in the Navy, he began submitting his portfolio to various studios. But it was a chance encounter that resulted in his first job; he was working as an air conditioning repairman, driving around looking for an address, when he happened to notice life-sized creature molds and appliances in an alleyway from an nearby FX shop. He submitted pictures of his designs to the shop and was hired the next day.

From that point on he worked in almost every facet of FX, from sculpting and mold making to animatronics, and learned under some of the greats like Stan Winston and Rick Baker. Along with his wife, he opened up his own shop, Spectral Motion, in 2002, which has become not only an acknowledged leader in practical effects, but has developed sophisticated animatronics for events and theme parks all over the world.

In recent years Mike has been a frequent collaborator with Guillermo del Toro, whom he met on the set of Blade II. Elizalde went on to do make-up and effects for del Toro’s Hellboy movies, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and the Cabinet of Curiosities series.

Elizalde also talked about creating the robot for the recent Lost in Space streaming series, and the challenge of honoring the original beloved TV character while updating it and giving it a personality of its own. 

Author's photo - Mike Elizalde being honored at Monsterpalooza 2023
FX artist Mike Elizalde (right) being honored at Monsterpalooza; the presenter is actor Doug Jones.

Justin Raleigh is an award-winning makeup and effects artist who recently won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for his makeup work on The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021). Like Mike Elizalde, Justin was fascinated with creatures and makeup from an early age, and collected as many Halloween makeup books as he could get his hands on.

His first professional experience was doing beauty makeup for his girlfriend’s mom, who was a fashion photographer. This was invaluable in terms of learning the chemistry and materials, as well as working with living, breathing subjects other than himself.

Justin echoed Elizalde in saying that the best effects school is diving in and doing the work, and learning everything you can from experienced pros; their paths were very similar, working for many of the same shops and people in the early going.

Raleigh started Fractured FX, Inc. in 2010, and has gone on to do makeup effects for the Insidious film series, The Conjuring, American Horror Story, Aquaman, and the recent Westworld series, as well as mainstream dramas like Tammy Faye.

Justin addressed the differences between doing creature makeups straight out of the imagination, vs. likeness or aging makeup, where the end product needs to be a completely believable human being. He said that audiences will immediately sense when a likeness or aging makeup is somewhat off, so it’s all the more challenging to come up with something that viewers don’t give a second thought to.

Although practical effects are in more demand than ever, artists like Raleigh use the latest digital technologies such as 3D printing to scale up to the demands of films and TV series.

Interestingly, during their talks, both Raleigh and Elizalde brought up the huge elephant that is starting to appear in a lot of people’s rooms -- namely AI. It seems like overnight, we’re being told that AI either will come for everybody’s jobs and make humanity obsolete, or it will generate a new productive renaissance that will immeasurably improve the quality of life.

Both expressed some skepticism that AI will become a big factor for them at least in the short term, but it says something that they are thinking about its eventual effect on their highly specialized, highly creative profession.

Author's photo - Interview with makeup artist Justin Raleigh at Monsterpalooza 2023
Interview with Oscar winning makeup artist Justin Raleigh (right).

The Halloween Society was started by a group of super-fans who were interested in the art of mask making and were inspired by the Don Post Studios, which produced, among other things, the meticulously-crafted over-the-head masks of the Universal monsters that were advertised in the back pages of magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Writer Ron Magid was joined by actor Paul Clemens and director/producer Rich Correll in reminiscing about the heyday of the Society, from its humble origins putting out a xeroxed fanzine for fellow mask enthusiasts, to the group deciding to make masks themselves, to becoming an international phenomenon.

Ron told a great story about the aftermath of a Halloween party, when he left a mangled corpse prop that had been used in The Beast Within (1982) in the backseat of his car outside of his residence. A passing jogger saw the very realistic and very gory prop and called the cops. Ron avoided a ticket by letting the responding officer put the prop in the backseat of his police cruiser for a “photo op.”

Ron mentioned a forthcoming book delving into the history of the club, The Halloween Society Unmasked, which will be out later this year.

Author photo - Halloween Society masks on display
Halloween Society masks on display: Peter Lorre, Mad Love; Bela Lugosi, Dracula; Fredric March, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Lon Chaney, London After Midnight

Speaking of new books, last year writer/director/photographer Julian David Stone came out with It’s Alive!, a fictionalized account of the making of Universal’s original Frankenstein. He gave a very interesting talk about the origins of the studio, including Carl Laemmle Sr.’s meteoric rise from owning a Nickelodeon theater in the Midwest to founding a major Hollywood studio.

Laemmle made his son the head of Universal’s film production when Carl Jr. was only in his early 20s. Junior bucked the conventional wisdom that Depression-era America would only go for light comedies and musicals, scoring a hit with Bela Lugosi as Dracula in 1931.

Frankenstein with Boris Karloff would become an even greater hit, but there were hurdles along the way. Most horror fans know that Robert Florey and Bela Lugosi were set to direct and star in Frankenstein respectively, but were eventually replaced when Laemmle Sr. offered James Whale any Universal project for his next directing job, and Whale chose Frankenstein. To this day, stories differ as to whether Lugosi was canned due to poor screen tests or he rejected the part because it had no speaking lines. Whale spotted struggling actor Boris on the lot, sized him up as an intriguing prospective monster, and the rest is history.

Wanting a name actor to ensure box office success, the Laemmles tried to hire Leslie Howard (of later Gone With the Wind fame) to be Dr. Frankenstein, but the actor had other commitments. When Whale suggested his friend Colin Clive, the last important casting piece fell into place.

What many don’t realize is that, as the date for initial shooting neared, Laemmle Sr. started to get cold feet over two relatively unknown actors heading the picture. As late as two weeks before filming, the Laemmles were still undecided over whether to bring back Lugosi or forge ahead with Karloff.

This last-minute uncertainty was a major inspiration for Stone to write about the making of a film that immortalized Mary Shelley's creature and made the horror genre what it is today.

Author photo - life-sized Frankenstein monster display in the Monsterpalooza museum
It's alive and lurking in the Monsterpalooza Museum!

More Monsterpalooza Museum exhibits:

Author photo - Monsterpalooza Museum exhibit, Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu (1922)

Author photo - Monsterpalooza Museum exhibit, Creepshow (1982)
Creepshow (1982)

Author photo - Monsterpalooza Museum, Invaders from Mars (1953)
Invaders from Mars (1953)

Author photo - Monsterpalooza Museum exhibit, Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

May 20, 2023

Have a nice time trip, see you next fall: Todd Tarantula

Poster - Todd Tarantula (2023)
Now Playing:
Todd Tarantula (2023)

Pros: A wild, surreal ride through the dark underbelly of Los Angeles; The actors have obvious fun with their odd, quirky characters; Impressive debut performance by Ethan Walker in the title role
Cons: The unconventional story line and the rotoscope digital effect that makes the film look like a live-action graphic novel may require the right mood (or artificial enhancers - consult applicable state and local laws) for full appreciation

Back in January 2020 I reviewed Loon Lake (2019), a low-budget, independent feature co-produced by director Ansel Faraj and lead actors Nathan Wilson and Kelly Kitko. In the film, a grieving young widower (Wilson) rents a cabin in rural Minnesota to try to put the trauma of his wife’s death behind him, but soon becomes haunted in an entirely different way when he unwittingly invokes the curse of a 19th century witch.

Loon Lake put its own spin on the classic theme of world-weary urban protagonists seeking peace and quiet in the countryside and instead finding horrors they never dreamed of. In contrast, the trio’s latest production, Todd Tarantula, features a prematurely jaded young protagonist who yearns to leave the sleaziness of Los Angeles behind, only to find himself exploring the city’s meanest, darkest recesses by way of nightmarish visions that seem to be propelling him back and forth through time.

Todd (Ethan Walker), with his ‘50s hairstyle and leather jacket embroidered with a stylized tarantula, is an updated rebel without a cause. The estranged son of a rich and powerful LA businessman, Wallander Tarantula, (Douglas M. Eames), Todd spends his days drinking with his sloppy buddy Barracuda (Nathan Wilson) and getting into bar fights.

Screenshot - Nathan Wilson and Ethan Walker in Todd Tarantula (2023)
Todd and his best friend Barracuda are in a rut: drink, fight, sleep, repeat.

Todd wants nothing more than to blow LA for the wide open spaces and freedom of the desert. (At one point as Todd and Barracuda are hanging out at the beach, drinking and admiring the sunset, cynical Todd can’t help but point out it’s the city’s smog that’s responsible for the spectacular sunsets.)

However, Todd’s prize possession and the means by which he intends to escape filthy LA, a vintage motorcycle that his father passed down to him, has mysteriously vanished. To add to the mystery, just before his bike disappeared, Todd discovered the body of a man sprawled out in a pool of blood on the floor of the parking garage. Before he had time to decide what to do, both body and motorbike were gone.

The search for his missing motorcycle takes Todd on a journey into the darkest and weirdest byways of Los Angeles. He starts at the apartment of a psychic friend, Andromeda (Brittany Hoza), whom he hopes can provide clues to his bike’s whereabouts. The wayward son soon ends up at Wallander’s mansion, guarded by a nominally polite but steadfast assistant (Emma West), whose only job seems to be to prevent Todd from seeing his father.

Out of nowhere, Lucifer Grey (David Selby), his father’s ostensible business partner, shows up to offer his help. Decked out in a white suit and hat, wielding a dragon’s head cane, and sporting a permanent, knowing grin on his face, Grey is another in a long line of dapper devils looking for innocents willing to bargain away their souls. He knows a little too much about Todd, including his fraught relationship with his father. Later on, when it’s revealed that the elder Tarantula is seriously ill and Grey is set to take over a controlling share of the family business, Grey’s interest in Todd, especially as the heir to a major stake in the company, appears to be more than casual, to say the least.

Screenshot - Nathan Wilson and David Selby in Todd Tarantula (2023)
Todd will soon learn a valuable lesson: never trust anyone who wears white after Labor Day.

But Todd has resources of his own, including psychic visions that strip away the tinsel from Tinseltown and reveal a sprawling ghost town of high strangeness. In Todd’s alternate reality, lizard people live in tunnels beneath the city, spirits seeking the netherworld haunt the streets at night, and the hot Santa Ana winds that bedevil Angelenos stream out of a cave in the Mojave desert that itself is a portal to Hell.

Todd even has the seeming ability to travel in time, at one point finding himself at the site of the future Los Angeles circa 1852, conversing with its sole residents, the regal Lady Salome (Kelly Kitko) and her dead husband Roberto (Fernando Alvarez), whose talking, animated skull is her constant companion. The foremother of Los Angeles stands perpetual guard at a native-built amphitheater that is a portal for astral travelers (ironically located at the future spot of the Griffith Observatory).

Screenshot - Todd (Ethan Walker) talks with Roberto's skull in Todd Tarantula (2023)
"Alas, poor Roberto, I knew him, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy..."

Lurking in the background of Todd’s visions is Grey, who may possibly be a catalyst for them. Todd will eventually learn of Grey’s keen interest in his psychic abilities, which figure prominently in the businessman’s devious plans.

Todd Tarantula is like the lovechild of an unholy union between an urban dungeons and dragons quest and a ‘50s teen angst movie. To bless the union, Faraj and company digitally rotoscoped the footage in post production to make the colors, characters and scenery pop like a cross between a live-action graphic novel and an acid trip. (While I appreciate the intent of the digital rotoscoping, at various points I found myself wishing for a more standard look, especially when the effect obscured the actors’ expressions.)

So, if we’re tripping along with Todd via the film’s digital effects, can we trust that anything we see on the screen is “real” in the conventional dramatic sense? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it’s all a dream, or the result of a bad batch of weed that Todd and Barracuda got their hands on. Whatever it is, it’s a wild ride through multiple layers of southern California folklore.

Speaking of not trusting your senses, one of the film’s more intriguing obstacles in Todd’s quest is Wallander Tarantula’s assistant Jabez. We never see her in person, only through Todd’s smartphone screen. With her deathly pallor, pulled back blonde hair, and unblinking eyes, Jabez seems like an AI mirage, a cold, unhelpful version of Siri come to simulated life. (It’s a notable performance, especially considering that Emma West wrapped up all her scenes in under an hour on the first day of shooting.) [IMDb]

Screenshot - Emma West as Jabez in Todd Tarantula (2023)
"Open the Tarantula mansion doors Jabez."
"I'm sorry Todd. I'm afraid I can't do that."

When Todd finally gets past Wallander’s defenses and meets with him face to face, things again are not as they seem. Oz-like,Todd pulls back the curtains to find that his father has made a true devil’s pact with his business partner, and in the process has become a literal prisoner of the technology that Tarantula Enterprises helped develop.

Todd Tarantula reunited a number of the principal people behind Loon Lake, and became Hollinsworth Productions’ first feature-length release since 2019. Like the previous film, actors Kelly Kitko and Nathan Wilson, along with Darin Medders, joined writer-director Ansel Faraj in co-producing.

In Loon Lake, Kitko plays a wronged witch who places a curse on anyone who dares to tread on her grave. In Todd Tarantula, she plays yet another witch of sorts, but this time a much more joyous one in love with nature and the wilderness of mid-nineteenth century California (although, she’s not one to be crossed, as poor Roberto finds out).

There’s a great scene in which Salome, finding out that Todd is from the future, insists that he tell her what’s in store for her bucolic homestead. She has some starry-eyed visions of what’s to come, and Todd walks a fine line in telling her what 21st century Los Angeles is really like.

Screenshot - Kelly Kitko as Lady Salome and Ethan Walker as Todd in Todd Tarantula (2023)
Lady Salome tries very hard to visualize what southern California will look like in 2023.

Nathan Wilson has a much different role as Todd’s loopy, drug-addled sidekick. In spite of his prosthetic leg, Barracuda can fight his way out of a bar with the best of them -- and then relax, take a swig from the bottle and admire the pollution-enhanced sunset. But his loyalty gets him in trouble when he joins Todd in a nighttime search for the motorcycle in a decidedly sketchy (and haunted) part of the city.

David Selby, veteran of the Dark Shadows and Falcon Crest TV shows, is at his quietly menacing best as Lucifer Grey. It was interesting to find out that Selby was not the first choice for Grey; during the 10+ years Faraj spent in trying to get the film made, a couple of other actors were considered. [IMDb] But Selby occupied the role like it was written for him, and won Best Supporting Actor at the 2023 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival for his efforts.

Todd Tarantula is Ethan Walker’s debut feature film role. He nicely channels a James Dean sort of vibe, especially in Todd’s encounters with his beleaguered father and the smilingly malignant Lucifer Grey. The only thing missing is “You’re tearing me apart!” histrionics, but then, Todd is way too cool for school to go there. Without giving away too much, the movie leaves a lot of maneuvering room for Walker to reprise the role if that’s in the cards. (I hope Walker got to keep the Tarantula signature leather jacket, because that is one rad piece of apparel.)

Where to find it: Streaming | Blu-ray 

Exclusive Bonus: An Interview with Ansel Faraj

Ansel Faraj developed a great affection for classic films and TV at an early age. He began making films in his teens, and by the age of 20 he was already working with veteran film and TV actors to make feature films. He has written, produced and/or directed dozens of features and shorts including several films featuring the classic-era master criminal Dr. Mabuse, the Detective Adam Sera series set in an alternate reality “Lost” Angeles, the fantasy anthology series Theatre Fantastique, and the H.P. Lovecraft inspired The Last Case of August T. Harrison.

In an exclusive interview for Films From Beyond, Faraj discusses the challenges and rewards of being a truly independent filmmaker who must rely on creativity and inventiveness in the absence of big Hollywood budgets.

Publicity still - Writer/producer/director Ansel Faraj (courtesy of Ansel Faraj)
Writer/producer/director Ansel Faraj.

Films From Beyond: When you were younger, what attracted you to classic films such as The Phantom of the Opera and the Dr. Mabuse series, and to TV shows like Dark Shadows?

Faraj: Phantom of the Opera was one of the first things I ever experienced. I saw the original Andrew Lloyd Webber show way back when, I was 5 years old, and I was astounded. I just kept thinking "How did they do that?!" and by the end of the second act, I knew I wanted to do the same thing, somehow. And this was long before there was a film version of the musical, so then I became fascinated with the previous films, Claude Rains and Lon Chaney's versions, and that was the gateway into Universal Monster-land and greater classic film in general. My mom was a first generation Dark Shadows kid who ran home from school - actually, she would ditch class to not miss an episode - and she would tell me the various storyline arcs as bedtime stories. I saw HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS first when I was 6 and it rattled me and excited me and I couldn't get enough. When I was a little older, I became familiar with Fritz Lang's MABUSE films as I was exploring film history and Mabuse was a fascinating character. It became a little dream of mine when I was a teenager to make a new film about Mabuse, and then suddenly when I was 20, we were actually making it, with Jerry Lacy as Mabuse.

There are a number of actors with whom you frequently collaborate, including Nathan Wilson and Kelly Kitko, and such Dark Shadows alumni as Jerry Lacy, Lara Parker, Kathryn Leigh Scott and David Selby. How did you make those connections?

We've all known and worked together now for a little over a decade. I met Nathan when I was 19, he auditioned for a comedy I was working on at the time, and we just clicked. Then I told him about Inspector Lohemann in my DOCTOR MABUSE script, and would he like to play it, and he said yes. So that cemented things. As far as the DARK SHADOWS alumni, I contacted Jerry and Kathryn and offered them their respective roles in my film, I had just turned 20, and I think they were intrigued enough by me and what I had to say that very fortunately (and incredibly, at the time) they said yes to the film. Kathryn then connected me with Lara, and I met David at the premiere of my first DOCTOR MABUSE film. The entire experience was totally surreal. I was so young and had never experienced anything like it before, let alone suddenly directing these legendary figures from my childhood. Very surreal and strange and exciting. I've been so grateful, they've all taught me a lot and have all become an extended family for me. Kelly Kitko auditioned for a role in DOCTOR MABUSE 2 and as with Nate, she and I just clicked and after a few more films together, Kelly, Nathan, and I pooled together our wits and formed a production company. The three of us are a very close knit team.

Publicity still - Ansel Faraj and the cast of Loon Lake (2019) on location (courtesy of Ansel Faraj)
Ansel Faraj and the cast of Loon Lake (2019) on location (courtesy of Ansel Faraj).

The LA area, and Venice Beach in particular, figures prominently in many of your films. What aspects of LA life and culture have influenced your work the most?

I don't know that LA life has really influenced my work... life in LA is very weird. People are phony, vain, self obsessed... I went to a private school when I was a kid and was the lone poor kid around extravagant wealth and celebrities kids and ambassadors kids, and they were all stuck on themselves and money solved most if not all of their problems. It's kind of disgusting. I'd say a good amount of that found its way into TODD TARANTULA, with jaded rich kids and their drug use and full-of-shit attitude. There's a darkness and something occult about LA, you could ask anyone from here and they might not be able to tell you in specific words, but there is an occult energy pulsing through LA. People are made on the sidewalks and just as quickly cut down. But Venice, that's my home turf, Venice is one of the last remaining places in LA that still has this old magic hidden in the gutter. As much as Venice has changed over the years, and it definitely has, there's still old buildings and alleyways and corners where the old city still exists... it's a place where you definitely feel anything can happen, especially the unusual. And there's nothing like a Venice Beach sunset.

How did you channel your creative energies during the pandemic?

Nathan and I sat on the beach and wrote every single day. We wrote about four different feature scripts. And we shot THE THOUSAND AND ONE LIVES OF DOCTOR MABUSE which was a great deal of fun, and a nice way to revisit and put a capper on that world now as a mature experienced filmmaker. We also shot THE MOST HAUNTED HOUSE OF VENICE BEACH, but it didn't release till 2021.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities of being an independent filmmaker?

Money, and the lack thereof. I keep telling myself, one day I will get paid to do this. Now the writers are striking for this very same reason, the lack of money and the unfair pay. There is no money in streaming, and indie films live and die by streaming. It's awful. Hopefully there will be a positive change for us creatives. The one plus side is you can kind of be your own boss, and decide what movies to make and how, without having to deal with a factory assembly line as most studios and franchises operate, with forty different cooks in the kitchen. But having no money really sucks. You have to be more creative and inventive and careful with your resources. I saw a quote about EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, how that was "an independent film" but not really, not in my opinion, with a studio like A24 behind them, and they were bemoaning that they only had "$14.6 million budget and 28 days" and I kept thinking - damn what a luxury. I've never even seen that kind of money or had that kind of a schedule before. Must feel nice. I'm over here in the alleyways of Venice among the homeless, or in the forests of Minnesota and we have no money, no marketing department, no extensive crew - it's just us, making a film. That's a real true independent, grassroots way. It's brutal hard work, and most times it is rewarding, but I'd like some of that larger scale "indie" money.

It’s my understanding that Todd Tarantula was quite a few years in the making. What hurdles were there in trying to realize your vision for the film?

Money. No money. Or the money would fall apart. Mostly money. The script was quite large too, a lot more characters and subplots that got streamlined out of the final draft. But also independent filmmaking had changed in the ten years since the film first fell apart. Suddenly there were more filmmaking resources I could turn to, to get crew or locations, versus being alone in my garage, as how I started. So that kind of helped. And by now I had Kelly and Nate and the three of us could figure out how to make what I'd written possible in practical terms. But I still ended up financing the entire production from start to finish by myself. I bussed tables, and bartended, and managed a kitchen after the pandemic to make this movie happen. I'm relieved its finished and exists and I don't have to think or wonder about it again.

Publicity still - Ansel Faraj, Brittany Hoza and Ethan Walker on the set of Todd Tarantula (2023) (Courtesy of Ansel Faraj)
Faraj, Brittany Hoza and Ethan Walker on the set of Todd Tarantula (Courtesy of Ansel Faraj).

How would you describe the Faraj Cinematic Universe, and what plans do you have for its future?

[Hahaha] The Faraj Cinematic Universe... you mean the Hollinsworth Productions universe. I have no idea how I would describe it. True independent filmmaking where we're not playing down to the audience, we're inviting them to hop on board and think while having a good time. Right now, we're currently shooting a comedy that's been in development as long as TODD TARANTULA. When I first met Nate, he pitched me this character of a washed up porn star who rides around Venice Beach on a scooter named Nick D. And now we're actually making it, it's quite epic, it's the longest script we've ever shot, and there's about 40 speaking roles, all on location across LA and Venice. It's a comedy, the kind they don't make anymore, titled THE GREAT NICK D. It's an odyssey following Nick D's attempt to resolve his unrequited love with his old girlfriend, who is now this Meryl Streep type A list actress, and he's this forgotten shlub down in Venice. Luckily we began filming before the strike was called, and we're running all summer. David Selby, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lisa Richards from DARK SHADOWS are in it, Christine Tucker from WILL & LIZ is in it, Kelly Kitko of course is in it - it's a script we're very proud of and feels pretty wild that we're finally making it. There's a few other non "genre" scripts we're developing, making our romance WILL & LIZ was a wonderful breath of fresh air, and allowed me to show off my skills outside of the fantasy/thriller world. I would still love to make our scripts of THE DUNWICH HORROR which has come close to happening several times, and one day finally make my own version of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, but we need proper financing. It will happen, one day.

April 27, 2023

2024 Lies in Wait Beyond the Time Barrier

Poster - Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Now Playing:
Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)

Pros: Creative location shooting and use of repurposed state fair exhibit halls; A fairly unique explanation for its dystopian setting
Cons: Gets bogged down with a lot of pseudo-scientific dialog; Some of the principal actors are as stiff as dept. store mannequins

Many thanks to Barry at Cinematic Catharsis and Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews for coming up with the Futurethon event and inspiring their fellow bloggers to explore the future through movies. If you haven’t already, check out their sites for links to more cinematic prognostications.

So here I am in the futuristic year 2023, and I’m only now getting around to reviewing the film that provided the name (in part) for this blog. All I can say is that it’s about time. 2024, the year in which Beyond the Time Barrier is set, is almost upon us. If there is even the slightest possibility that the events depicted in the film are prophetic, then there is precious little time to prepare.

As a public service, Films From Beyond is breaking through the time barrier to present our near future as envisioned in the 1960 movie. Are these events highly improbable? Perhaps. Impossible? You be the judge.

Robert Clarke stars as Major William Allison, an Air Force test pilot who has been assigned to fly the X-80 rocket-plane to the edge of outer space. After firing the rocket engine and soaring to an altitude of 100 miles, the plane accelerates uncontrollably, and Allison loses contact with the base.

Lobby card - Robert Clarke in Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Put your tray tables up and fasten your seat belts -- 2024 is going to be a bumpy ride!

Once Allison gets control back and brings the plane in for a landing, he’s amazed to find that the base is completely deserted and in an extremely dilapidated state. Off in the distance he spots the ruins of a city, and next to that, weird structures, including huge towers with blazing lights illuminating the landscape.

As Allison approaches the structures, he’s hit with a paralyzing ray, whereupon figures in radiation suits trundle him off to an underground lair.

The major soon finds that he’s not in Kansas anymore. After being decontaminated in a giant glass enclosure and getting into a shoving match with some guards, he is introduced to the elderly leader known as The Supreme (Vladimir Sokoloff), his second-in-command, the Captain (Boyd “Red” Morgan), and The Supreme’s granddaughter Trirene (Darlene Tompkins).

Allison learns from The Supreme that he is a “guest” at The Citadel, a subterranean complex built as a haven from the hordes of violent mutants that roam the contaminated surface. The Supreme and the Captain are the only members of the Citadel that can hear and talk -- all the others, including Trirene, are deaf mutes as the result of a mysterious plague (although Trirene has the extrasensory ability to read minds). The major is mightily confused, not understanding how so much could have happened in the short time he was aloft in his rocket plane.

Screenshot - Major Allison (Robert Clarke) meets the rulers of The Citadel in Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
"Excuse me, but I seem to have taken a wrong turn at the ionosphere..."

Allison’s troubles are compounded by the Captain, who is suspicious that he is some sort of spy. The major is thrown into a dungeon reserved for captured mutants, but is released a short time later when Trirene, who has taken a shine to the handsome pilot, convinces her grandfather that he’s no threat.

After gaining The Supreme’s confidence by way of Trirene, Allison is allowed to meet three other “guests” of the Citadel: Gen. Kruse (Stephen Bekassy), Prof. Bourman (John Van Dreelen) and Captain Markova (Arianne Ulmer), who, conveniently, can also hear and talk. It’s this crew that clues the major into the fact that he’s traveled into the 21st century -- 2024 to be exact.

Kruse explains that the notorious plague was caused by radioactive dust from above-ground atomic tests breaking down the atmosphere’s protective layers, allowing deadly cosmic radiation to blanket the earth. Much of the planet’s population was killed off, with most of the survivors ending up either sterile deaf mutes or ravening bald-headed mutants.

Like Allison, all three accidentally broke the time barrier traveling in spaceships that approached the speed of light, and ended up prisoners at the Citadel after crash landing. The Captain, not wanting to let their knowledge and expertise go to waste, put them to work developing a solar energy plant. Markova cattily suggests to the clueless major that his job is now to mate with Trirene, one of the few women left who isn’t sterile.

When the group learns that Allison left his plane at the base intact and ready to fly, their eyes light up. Bourman excitedly explains that there’s a chance that they can send Allison back to 1960, where he can prevent the plague from ever happening. The professor lays out a deceptively simple formula on a chalkboard: take the rocket-plane’s escape velocity and add the velocities of earth’s rotation, its orbit around the sun, and the solar system’s movement through space, and voila!, you’ve got the near-light speed you need to enter the fifth dimension and travel back through time! (Uh-huh...)

Screenshot - A lecture on time travel in Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
"Pay attention class, there's going to be a quiz later."

Standing in the way of the plan is the paranoid Captain, who has surveillance devices everywhere and is not likely to just sit back and let his prisoner jet off to parts unknown. And then there’s the Kruse crew -- one or more of them may have plans of their own for the plane. Finally, there’s Trirene -- who wouldn’t be tempted to stay put and regenerate civilization with such a special, beautiful girl? (And that doesn’t even take into account the mutants, who are itching to burst from their confines and wreak vengeance on their cruel masters.)

Okay, rather than spoil the ending, let’s see what Beyond the Time Barrier got right about life in the roaring 2020s:

✔ The ruling elites live in luxurious enclaves surrounded by bleak ruins and decaying infrastructure.
✔ Xenophobia runs rampant.
✔ Draconian security measures and omnipresent surveillance keep everyone in line.
✔ The general rule is to shoot your ray gun first and ask questions later.
✔ Society’s undesirables (the mutants) are consigned to poverty and prison.
✔ Much of the population is mute and goes along with whatever the elites say.
✔ A well-meaning but doddering old man nominally rules over the whole mess.

And on the bright side:

✔ Solar power is an up-and-coming energy source.

What it got wrong:

✔ The Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963 prohibited all above-ground nuclear tests, which were the cause of Time Barriers’s cosmic radiation plague. (However, the plot point does prefigure the depletion of the ozone layer that became an issue in the ‘70s.)
✔ Interior design predominantly based on the equilateral triangle never caught on.
✔ Jumpsuits that made everyone look like 1950s gas station attendants never became mandatory work attire.

Screenshot - Futuristic landscape in Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Beyond the Time Barrier also predicted the advent of 5G cell towers... or maybe not.

The man responsible for Time Barrier's prophecies was Arthur C. Pierce. In addition to Time Barrier, Pierce wrote a number of B sci-fi scripts in the ‘50s and ‘60s, including The Cosmic Man (1959), Invasion of the Animal People (aka Terror in the Midnight Sun, 1959), The Human Duplicators (1965), Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966) and The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (1966), among others (see my reviews of the first two films here and here). 

While Pierce never penned any true sci-fi classics, he had a knack for writing scientific-sounding dialog and tweaking familiar themes in unique ways (i.e., atomic testing degrading the earth’s protective atmosphere). On the downside, Pierce was a bit too enamored with pseudo-science; his movies were often bogged down by characters laboriously mansplaining cracked science concepts (like Prof. Bourman’s chalkboard lecture on time travel and the speed of light).

While working on Time Barrier, Pierce created one very tense, dramatic scene that never made it into the script. In his memoir, Robert Clarke (who produced the film in addition to starring in it) recalled a story conference between the screenwriter and director Edgar G. Ulmer that became overheated:

“One day in the office at General Service Studios, Art [Pierce] turned in the umpteenth rewrite of one particular scene and once again Edgar seemed to be displeased, and he said something that provoked Art. I don’t remember Edgar’s comment, but it was like lighting a firecracker under Art. Edgar was seated at a desk and Art was sitting in a chair, doodling with a long yellow pencil. Something snapped in this poor, tormented writer’s mind: He jumped up out of his chair and leaned across Edgar’s desk and broke the yellow pencil in half right in front of Edgar’s nose. …
  It was a very dramatic moment, but later on, one could see the lighter side of it. Art was a conscientious and resourceful sci-fi writer who knew the necessary nomenclature and had done his homework on the technical aspects, but his dialogue wasn’t what Edgar was seeking and finally Art got fed up with Edgar’s goading. … The incident seemed to bother Edgar a little bit; I remember that later on, Edgar in his heavy Hungarian accent referred to Art as ‘This wrrriter who brrreaks his pencil in front of my face!’ But Edgar’s resentment soon passed; he was the type who let everything roll off his back.” [Robert Clarke and Tom Weaver, Robert Clarke: To “B” or Not to “B”, A Film Actor’s Odyssey, Midnight Marquee Press, 1996, p. 202]

No one, especially Ulmer, had time to hold a grudge. Beyond the Time Barrier and The Amazing Transparent Man were shot back-to-back at the same Texas location over the course of only two weeks (neither Pierce or Clarke were involved in the latter production).

These would be the last films Ulmer would direct on American soil. Savvy fans know Ulmer as one of the great B movie directors, with a resume that includes such cult classics as The Black Cat (1934; with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff), Bluebeard (1944; with John Carradine), Detour (1945; the low budget film-noir masterpiece with Tom Neal and Ann Savage), and The Man from Planet X (1951; also with Robert Clarke).

By the time Time Barrier and Transparent Man rolled around, Ulmer’s best work was behind him. As hinted by the story conference fracas, Ulmer was probably not greatly inspired by Time Barrier's script; he was content to shoot long, plodding scenes of dialog in stationary medium shots and call it a day. On the plus side, the veteran director managed to get his daughter Arianne the part of the duplicitous, femme-fatale-ish Capt. Markova.

Screenshot - Darlene Thompkins and Robert Clarke in Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
Trirene and Major Allison relax after a hard day listening to incessant technobabble.


The film manages to break through the boredom barrier at the climax, when Markova has treacherously let loose the imprisoned mutants and Allison is desperately trying to escape and get back to his plane. In the scenes where the maddened mutants chase down terrified Citadel dwellers, it’s obvious that the bare-bones production could only afford to outfit a handful of mutant extras with ratty clothes and ill-fitting skull caps. The extras are supplemented with mismatched stock footage of scruffy dungeon dwellers from Fritz Lang’s 1959 costume potboiler The Indian Tomb.

But the mutants' screams and shouts as chaos ensues are truly jarring, and you feel sorry for the poor Citadel denizens whose only fault was to blindly (and mutely) follow inept leaders. On top of that, the back stabbing comes fast and furious as various characters jockey to see who gets to ride on the rocket-plane back to their original time period.

For these and other scenes, Clarke and crew made great use of ready-made locations. The futuristic Citadel consisted of structures and exhibits left over from expositions held at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. Carswell Air Force Base near Ft. Worth stood in for Major Allison’s home base, and a nearby abandoned WWII-era Marine Corps Air Base was utilized for the deserted 2024 ruins. [IMDb trivia]

When Clarke made Beyond the Time Barrier, he was hoping to become a B movie mogul. After appearing in the micro-budgeted sci-fi thriller The Astounding She-Monster (1957), he was astounded by how much money the threadbare production made at the theaters. He told himself he could do even better, and the result was The Hideous Sun Demon (1958), which Clarke wrote, produced, directed and starred in (see my reviews of She-Monster and Sun Demon). 

He took a print of Sun Demon to American International Pictures (AIP) in the hopes of securing a multiple picture distribution deal, but was turned down. On the rebound, he signed with a small outfit, Miller Consolidated Pictures, to do Beyond the Time Barrier. It wasn’t long after Time Barrier hit the theaters that the overextended company went under, and ironically, AIP ended up taking over distribution of the picture. After the dust settled, Clarke never saw a dime of profit from either Sun Demon or Time Barrier; all he had to show for his efforts was his $1,000 salary for acting in Time Barrier.

Screenshot - Major Allison (Robert Clarke) is taken captive in Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
AIP executives hold Robert Clarke hostage while they run off with all the profits from Beyond the Time Barrier.

But Clarke was nothing if not resilient. In a interview with film historian Tom Weaver, Clarke insisted that he was grateful for his experiences behind the camera:

I would never say I was sorry because if I had not done it, I think I would have been sorry and would be saying that I wish I had tried it. It was an interesting experience. I wish, of course, that it had turned out more profitably and that it had led to other things that would have been more mainstream. With Roger Corman, pictures like these were stepping stones to bigger productions. But I took such a terrible bath with the bankruptcy on both Sun Demon and Time Barrier that I just felt there was no way to make another one and come out with anything. [Tom Weaver, Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers, McFarland, 1988, pp. 90-91.]

If you decide to check out Beyond the Time Barrier, here’s hoping you’re as resilient as Robert Clarke and don’t regret your decision. Because, Prof. Bourman’s theories notwithstanding, most physicists insist that traveling back in time and undoing past actions is impossible.

Where to find it: Streaming #1 | Streaming #2 | DVD

April 14, 2023

The Northern Arizona Field Guide to Bigfoot: Special Lance Henriksen Edition

Poster - Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain, 2006)
Now Playing:
Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain, 2006)

Pros: A quartet of grizzled character actors led by Lance Henriksen steals the show from the younger cast members; Features a clever reveal at the end
Cons: Due to budget limitations, the production doesn’t take full advantage of the shooting location; Much of the film looks like an 80s-vintage MTV music video; Rife with characters doing stupid things for the convenience of the plot

This post is part of The Seen on the Screen blogathon hosted by Rebecca at Taking Up Room. Rebecca's challenge: Review a film or TV show that is set in your hometown or some other very familiar place -- what does it get right (or wrong) about the place you know so well? See her site for more great locales!

Lance Henriksen, the great, gruff, gravelly-voiced actor with over 260 acting credits to his name and counting, has blazed quite a trail over the years in the deep woods of horror and sci-fi.

By the end of the ‘80s, Henriksen had made indelible, unsettling impressions in such cult favorites as Aliens (1986), playing an android science officer, Near Dark (1987), as the leader of a band of itinerant vampires, and Pumpkinhead (1988), as a grieving father who unleashes a mythic monster on the teens who accidentally killed his son.

By the end of the ‘90s, he’d wrapped up three seasons of the award winning series Millennium (1996-99) portraying Frank Blank, a haunted former FBI profiler who has a knack for getting into the minds of serial killers and assorted lunatics (another cult hit from X-Files creator Chris Carter).

In the early 2000s, the shadow of Bigfoot began looming over his career. In 2002’s The Untold (aka Sasquatch), Henriksen appeared as a wealthy entrepreneur who leads a search for a company plane that has gone missing in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, along with his daughter. After finding the plane and the mutilated remains of the crew, the search party has to battle a homicidal Sasquatch to get out alive.

2006 was the year of the Bigfoot for Henriksen. In Abominable, he had a supporting role as a local who joins a hunting party to track down a mysterious creature that is killing cattle, and finds more than he bargained for. But it would be in Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain) that the actor would score a more affecting and sympathetic role as a Bigfoot hunter.

Screenshot - Lance Henriksen in Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain, 2006)
Lance takes a moment to reflect on making two Sasquatch movies in one year.

Henriksen plays Chase Jackson, an auto mechanic living in rural Northern Arizona, who, as we see in the film’s prologue, lost his wife to a freak auto accident the same night that Bigfoot decided to make a dramatic appearance.

Cut to the present, where we see Chase living modestly with his 20-something daughter Raquel (Melanie Monroe) in the same little town. For years he has been carrying guilt and regret over the accident, not to mention the community’s suspicions about the strange circumstances of the tragedy. Raquel, who is lively and intelligent, is reluctant to leave the nest because the old man is so lonely and pitiful. But Fate is about to arrange a second encounter between Chase and Bigfoot, and a chance for redemption.

Erin Price (Cerina Vincent) has recently broken up with her longtime boyfriend, packed up her car, and headed out on the open road for a new start. She makes a pit stop in town, and chats with Raquel before resuming her journey.

Unfortunately, her shortcut through the Northern Arizona forest takes her right into the path of a van full of desperate criminals who have just pulled off a bank robbery in town. Their vehicles collide, and both are totaled. When Sheriff Zeff (Rance Howard) and his deputies show up, a gunfight breaks out, after which the robbers take off into the deep woods with Erin in tow.

Screenshot - Karen Kim in Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain, 2006)
Northern Arizona travel tip #1: Be sure to brake for Bigfoot, but don't brake too hard.

With the state police and their helicopters already committed to another emergency, the sheriff enlists the aid of a friend and expert tracker Eli (Tim Thomerson) to flush out the miscreants. When Eli mysteriously disappears, Chase, who years before had applied for a deputy position and been turned down, comes to the rescue.

But before long Chase, the cops, the gang and their hostage will be banding together to fight off a common enemy -- Bigfoot, who is aggressively defending his territory from the human incursion.

And now for a personal note:

In the mid-2000s I was living in Flagstaff, Arizona, a beautiful mountain town sitting at the base of the majestic San Francisco Peaks some 7000 feet above sea level, and surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, home to one of the country’s largest stands of towering ponderosa pines.

Flagstaff, located just 80 miles south of the Grand Canyon and 30 miles north of the beautiful red rocks of Sedona, and with Interstate 40, historic Route 66 and the Amtrak Southwest Chief rail line running through the center of town, is a busy hub for visitors from all over the world wishing to partake of Northern Arizona’s scenic wonders.

Some people who’ve never been to the state, and have mental pictures of a mostly featureless desert sprinkled with saguaro cacti, get discombobulated when they see miles of dense woods and snow capped mountain peaks. While the Pacific Northwest may be Bigfoot’s natural home, it’s not hard to imagine one or two of the creatures tromping around the Coconino Forest, scratching their backs on the tall ponderosas.

The San Francisco Peaks as seen from Flagstaff, Arizona (photo by the author)
Now that's a sight for sore Sasquatch eyes! Alas, no scenery like this made it into the movie.

Michael Worth, who wrote Devil on the Mountain and starred as one of the robbers, was one of those taken by surprise by the Northern Arizona scenery. In an interview in Flagstaff’s Arizona Daily Sun newspaper published around the time of the movie’s premiere on the (then) Sci-Fi Channel, Worth explained how they settled on the location:

“I drove up just before we shot and I was just like, ‘Holy mackerel, I didn't know there were so many pine trees in Arizona!’ Because I'm used to shooting in Tucson and Mescal and used to the desert. It was just so great, but first as a joke, on the way back south, I was sending photos back to the director of the landscape right where the forest starts to dwindle and it starts to get more deserty, with like three or four trees in a picture. I'd just say, ‘Here it is, here's where we're gonna shoot the bigfoot movie!’ And he'd be like, ‘Well, it looks OK but…’ and I'd say ‘No, it'll be great! There's like five trees in this section, we'll shoot around it.’ But no, we looked around at all the locations, and sometimes it's just a question of getting the vehicles out there. And even in Flagstaff, there were a lot of great sites that we liked but we just couldn't get everyone in and out of there.” [Jeff Reeves, “Sasquatch Flick Filmed in Area Debuts this Saturday,” Arizona Daily Sun, September 8, 2006.]

Months before, the newspaper had published a blurb about a Sasquatch movie starring Lance Henriksen that was about to be filmed in Flagstaff. The city being relatively small, I thought there was an off chance I’d spot the crew and possibly Lance himself, but no cigar. Then I thought, “At least scenic Flagstaff will be featured in a major (sort of) TV movie, and it will be fun to pick out the landmarks when it premieres.”

Also no dice. Apparently there were problems getting permits for shooting in town, or the logistics were problematic, because the bank robbery scenes were filmed in Williams, AZ, 35 miles west of Flagstaff. The crew did stay in Flagstaff for much of the shoot, but my beloved town was MIA in the final cut.

Screenshot - Bank robbery scene in Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain, 2006)
Northern Arizona travel tip #2: If you see something like this, it's probably not Bigfoot.
The creatures rarely travel in groups, and they have no need for banking services.

Well, at least there’s the Coconino forest. Except that, as Worth indicated in the interview, the logistics and the limited budget dictated that they film at the edge of the forest, the end result being that much of the awesomeness of the ponderosa pine-rich backcountry is also missing.

Some nice establishing shots of the majestic San Francisco Peaks would also have been nice, but no luck there either. It also doesn’t help that they chose to shoot the film like a music video, complete with shaky cam and a purple-tinged color palette.

However, there is some redemption. The quartet of scruffy old farts led by Henriksen steal the show. Lance gets some genuinely affecting scenes with his dying wife in the prologue and later, his daughter (although for some reason they set up the engaging daughter character only to shove her off-screen mid-way through).

Rance Howard as the sheriff is dependably laconic and stoic through harrowing gunfights and Bigfoot attacks to the point of being almost comical; he’s the classic western Everyman who’s hard to get a rise out of, but implacable when finally motivated.

Screenshot - Bigfoot hunting party in Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain, 2006)
Northern Arizona Bigfoot hunting tip #1: Wear layers, bring plenty of water,
and never hold your gun like the gentleman in this photo.

Fans of ‘80s and ‘90s B sci-fi will likely recognize Tim Thomerson. Among Thomerson’s multitudinous credits, he appeared in Full Moon’s Dollman movies and five (count ‘em) Trancers flicks in which he plays Jack Deth, a futuristic bounty hunter. Thomerson’s role in Sasquatch Mountain is a small but wryly amusing one, playing a mountain man who can take a licking and keep on ticking.

And then there’s Craig Wasson, whose biggest claim to fame was appearing in Brian De Palma’s Body Double (1984) as the claustrophobic protagonist and intended fall guy. In Sasquatch Mountain, his last film credit, Wasson makes the most of one of the film’s quirkier roles -- that of Travis, leader of the misfit bank robbers and would-be get-rich-quick day-trader. With a bluetooth headset stuck in his ear, Travis keeps interrupting the bank heist planning, barking out orders to his stockbroker. Then, after the Bigfoot scat has hit the fan, he seems more irritated with the lack of cell service than the fact that the cops are shooting at them and a hairy humanoid is tossing his cohorts around like rag dolls.

Lastly, as the movie builds to the climax, there’s a clever reveal that explains why Bigfoot is so pissed off (other than the tired premise that he’s just a monster that likes to kill for the heck of it). The final confrontation humanizes everyone, cops, robbers and Sasquatch included. It might just bring a tear to your eye. And, as if that isn't enough, in the epilogue there’s an exchange between the sheriff and one of the robbers that ends the film on just the right note. 

Screenshot - Sasquatch makes an appearance in Devil on the Mountain (aka Sasquatch Mountain, 2006)
Northern Arizona Bigfoot hunting tip #2: Before you shoot, make sure it's really
Bigfoot and not some hairy mountain man with questionable hygiene.

Where to find it: Streaming

April 2, 2023

It's a Wrap! : Day 3 of the "Favorite Stars in B Movies" Blogathon

Blogathon banner - Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor in The Night Walker (1964)

All good things must come to an end, but this first-ever blogathon at Films From Beyond has been such a wonderful experience that I will definitely bring it back next year!

Many thanks to the talented bloggers who have highlighted such an entertaining mix of performers and films. They creatively illustrate how B movies have jump started, nurtured and extended so many acting careers over the decades.

If you’re a blogger and need more time for your post, I will be happy to add it to this page when you’re ready. Contact me by email, brschuck66@yahoo.com; Twitter, @brschuck66; or use the comments below.

If you haven’t already, check out the excellent contributions from the previous two days:

And now for the final act…

Marianne at Make Mine Film Noir celebrates Gene Kelly's dance-free performance in Black Hand (1950).

Screenshot - Gene Kelly in Black Hand (1950)

John at tales from the freakboy zone believes that some things are better left unknown, like when Rock Hudson discovers how to make Barbara Carrera from a test tube in Embryo (1976).

Screenshot - Rock Hudson in Embryo (1976)

Sally at 18 Cinema Lane takes a bird's-eye view of Vincent Price's performance in The Raven (1963).

Poster - The Raven (1963)

Barry at Cinematic Catharsis shines a spotlight on the ubiquitous, yet often overlooked character actor Michael Ripper.

Screenshot - Michael Ripper in The Reptile (1966)

Rebecca at Taking Up Room makes friends with Courtney Cox, He-Man, and all the other Masters of the Universe (1987).

Screenshot - Courtney Cox in Masters of the Universe (1987)

Kayla at Whimsically Classic chronicles the reign of Lucille Ball, "Queen of the Bs."

Yours truly at Films From Beyond the Time Barrier blames society for Jack Nicholson's delinquent behavior in The Cry Baby Killer (1958).

Screenshot - Jack Nicholson in The Cry Baby Killer (1958)