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So how well do you know
your Horror History? One of our goals here at the Krypt is to help educate
horror fans out there. And one way we are hoping to do that is by
bringing attention to certain people that you might not have heard of before.
If you have, that's great. You're already on your way. But if you
haven't, just take a few minutes to read about these people that had a lasting
effect on the horror genre.
Each week, we will be adding a new name to this list below.
So we hope that you will be back each week for the next installment. If there might be someone that you think should be noted as having an
important part, please send us an email by clicking
We'll pass the name onto our Kryptic Research Department for a detailed
investigation. And if we decide to use your suggestion, we'll give you
now, let's begin....
Born July 28th, 1913 - Died Dec. 9th, 1944
Cregar was an actor of amazing stature,
but in physical size and talent. Being 6' 3" and 300 lbs., he was a figure to be
reckon with. But even more powerful than his size, was his acting talent. With
such deep and soulful eyes and soft voice, he gave the audience an incredible
performance. It was his performance in his self-produced one-man play
'Oscar Wilde" where Cregar really caught the attention of Hollywood. He would
made his feature debut in the 1941 film HUDSON'S BAY along side Paul Muni.
Because of his size, he was getting roles of the villains and heavies but
desperately wanted to be a leading man. His portrayals of two different madmen,
in THE LODGER (1944) and HANGOVER SQUARE (19 ) where the characters he is
playing are hiding a deep dark secret. Maybe one of the reasons for his stellar
performance was because Cregar was hiding his own secret that he was scared to
death of it getting out. Cregar was a homosexual and thought if that news got
out in Hollywood in the '40s that it would ruin his chance of being a romantic
leading man. Watching him in these two films is both fascinating and tragic
since he was battling his own inner demons the whole time.
Between the two films, he decided that he would lose weight which he hoped would
put him in the leagues of the leading man roles, dropping 100 lbs. He went into
the hospital for an abdominal surgery for his weight loss, but suffered two
heart attacks, with the second one killing him. It was such a loss, especially
because he was only
28 years old. But the real tragedy was that he was afraid to be who he was, and
felt that he had to hide it from the public. Granted, back then one might have
to do that, but it is still a damn shame.
Born Jan. 21st, 1921 - Died April 7th, 2002
Though he started his film acting career doing westerns,
it's the films he did in the ‘50s that made John Agar so memorable to horror
fans. Agar was a staple when it came to battling giant monsters, aliens,
and mad scientists. He always gave it his all, even when the script wasn’t the
greatest, or even the monster that he was fighting against. He always gave a
fun and entertaining performance, even when working with uber-low-budget king
Larry Buchanan on a couple of films. He would even make appearances in more
modern day films in titles like Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED and the Tope
Hooper directed episode of John Carpenter’s anthology BODY BAGS.
Of few of his highlights (and lowlights, depending on your
feelings) would be REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955), TARANTULA
(1955), and THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957), as well as Larry
Buchanan's ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS and CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE
Also known to use the name Vic Winner,
this Spanish actor is probably a very familiar face if you've watched more than
a few Paul Naschy films. Alcázar usually played the good guy, or at least
someone that was caught up with the nasty things going on. But he was
always one of those recognizable faces in those great Spanish horror films of
the 70s'. His first real horror appearance was in 1973, which was a very
busy year for him. The first film noted in that year was IT HAPPENED AT
NIGHTMARE INN (aka A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL), co-starring Judy Geeson. But
then that same year, he would appear in FOUR films with Paul Naschy. They
were HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB, COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE, HUNCHBACK OF THE
MORGUE, and VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES.
While his acting wasn't that of legends, he was always good
in the roles that he had. And he is one face that you will see pop up in
these Spanish horror films of that era, so it is only expected that we wouldn't
want to highlight him here. That way the next time you're watching HORROR
RISES FROM THE TOMB with some friends, and Alcázar pops up on the screen, you
can say "Hey...there's Victor Alcázar!" and impress your friends!
Born Aug. 17th, 1918 - Died Aug. 29th, 1985
Evelyn Ankers was the only actress to play
opposite the main Universal monsters, Frankenstein's creature, the Wolf Man, and
Dracula (actually his Son). She appeared in a few films in England in the
'30s before coming to the US and working for Universal. Her first movie,
even though a comedy, still hand its hands in the horror genre. It was
Abbott & Costello's HOLD THAT GHOST in 1941. That same year, she appeared
as the love interests for Lon Chaney Jr. in THE WOLF MAN. She would then
appear in GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1942 and then SON OF DRACULA in 1943, all
opposite Chaney Jr. It's been reported that even though they worked
together quite often, they were not the best of friends.
She made over 50 movies in her short career of less than 15
years before she retired from the business. She came back to make a few
appearances in television, but it wasn't that many. In 1942, she had
married actor Richard Denning, who also was well known making creature features.
She spent the rest of her life as a happily married housewife to Denning until
her death in 1985, from ovarian cancer.
Born April 7th, 1917
R.G. Armstrong is another
one of those character actors that you might not remember their name, but you
will damn sure remember him. With some of the most intense and beady eyes
in the business, Armstrong made quite a few appearances in the horror genre,
usually playing a character that is not the nicest guy. One of our
personal favorites was in EVILSPEAK, as Sarge, who threatens to show Clint
Howard how to make a little boy into a little girl. Classic stuff.
But Armstrong is one of those unique actors that have never
been a huge leading man, but was always working, and always entertaining to
watch. Other genre films featuring him are RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975), THE
CAR (1977), THE BEAST WITHIN (1982), and even PREDATOR (1987).
Born Oct. 14th, 1916 - Died March 17th, 1992
Arnold is another unsung hero in the
horror and sci-fi film genre. He started his movie career as a documentary
filmmaker, even being nominated for an Oscar for his work. After a couple
of feature films, he directed the one that would start his rise as a great
sci-fi / horror film director, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953). While very
creepy, this alien invasion was much different than the other films at the time
since this wasn't really an "invasion" film at all. His next film would
make him an even bigger name, creating another classic Universal Classic
Monster, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954). He would later go one to
direct its sequel REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955), TARANTULA (1955), THE
INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957), and a couple other minor titles.
With his films, Arnold tried to show audiences that maybe
these aliens, creatures, and strange people were not as threatening as we'd like
Born Mar. 29th, 1916 - Died Apr. 1991
One of thing that Hammer films are most
known for are the way they look, especially their early Gothic horror films that
really catapulted them into popularity. While the talents on the screen of
Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and the rest of the stellar actors used, and
even the talented directors and writers, one of the reasons these pictures
looked like they did was because of the cameraman, Jack Asher.
He started in the film business as something as simple as the
guy who was to open and close the door while filming was being done.
Eventually, he was asked to join the camera crew by Roy Kallino, at the bottom,
learning the basics like loading the film into the magazines and working his way
up, to eventually becoming a camera operator himself. He worked on some of
Hammer's early color films and is definitely party of the reasons those films
look like they did. He worked on CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HORROR OF DRACULA,
REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH, BRIDES OF DRACULA, THE
MUMMY, as well as a few of their non-horror titles.
He worked for Hammer for less than 10 years before basically
being let go because Hammer deemed him too slow for their fast-paced shooting
schedules. Damn shame if you ask me.
Born Dec. 25th, 1934 - Died Oct. 3rd, 1997
John Ashley was one of the up and coming
teenage stars of those popular beach movies in the '50s and '60s, which he made
quite a few of. But once he moved to the Philippines, he was
responsible for giving us cult horror fans a lot of hours of enjoyment with the
films that he was involved with, such as the Blood Island trilogy: BRIDES OF
BLOOD (1968), MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1968), BEAST OF BLOOD (1971).
He later would become a successful TV producer for series
like The A-Team and Walker, Texas Ranger.
But besides all the entertaining films that he made, this
quote is one of the reasons why we admire him so much:
"This is a terrible thing to
admit, but maybe the key to my success with exploitation films is that I always
like those movies, and I never had any real reason to turn them down. I just
enjoyed doing them."
Born April 16th, 1909 - Died Jan. 10th, 1995
You cannot be even the slightest fan of Hammer Films and not
have seen the work of Roy Ashton. He started as an assistant makeup artist
back in the '30s, before starting to work with Hammer Studios, where he created
some of their most memorable monsters. But Ashton wasn't just a makeup
man, he almost had a career as a musician and opera singer. But the hours
of devotion needed to learn the makeup craft pulled him away from his true love
of music. He was the assistant makeup man to Phil Leaky for Hammer, who
was the man behind the QUATERMASS films and CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. But
after Leaky and Hammer had a falling out, Ashton became their head makeup man.
He created the look for their films like CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, THE REPTILE,
PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, as well as doing Peter Cushing's zombie makeup for
Amicus' TALES FROM THE CRYPT.
For more information on Ashton, there is an excellent book on
him called Greasepaint and Gore, which is filled with great stories and plenty
of artwork and photos of his work.
Ovidio G. Assonitis
Born: Jan. 18th, 1943
So why should we know who Ovidio Assonitis is? Did he
make great films? No. Did he make entertaining films?
Definitely. You might have even seen some of his films, possibly under one
of his pseudonyms like Oliver Hellman. He directed films like BEYOND THE
DOOR and TENTACLES, and produced titles such as SONNY BOY, THE CURSE, PIRANHA 2,
AMOK TRAIN (aka BEYOND THE DOOR 3),
and many more. Sure, these aren't great movies, but you will have a good
His best film just happened to his directorial debut, and was
a so-called rip-off of THE EXORCIST, called BEYOND THE DOOR
Sure, it's similar to THE EXORCIST, such as it's about demonic
possession, and it's also pretty scary.
So Assonitis should be known for his constant work in the
genre, both as a producer and writer, and always turning out fun movies.
Mar. 1st, 1885 Died: Apr. 22nd, 1946
If you are a fan of the old Universal classics, then you've
seen Lionel Atwill. Unfortunately, not too many people know him other than
"that guy from the Universal films". Unfortunate since Atwill was a great
at playing intelligent and authoritative figures. Granted, some of them
were mad as a hatter, but that's beside the point.
Atwill could carry the lead in films, such as the original
MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM and THE VAMPIRE BAT, but could also made
the same impact when he was playing second fiddle in films like MAN MADE MONSTER
or SON OF FRANKENSTEIN. He was always memorable with
his distinct voice and glare, always leaving an impression.
In the early 40's, he was sentenced to 5 years probation
after being found guilty of perjury after he refused to testify as to who had
attended a "wild sex-party" held in his home. While he did work a little
after this scandal, his career was pretty much done with. But he should at
least be remembered for the fine work that he did give us.
Born Dec. 19th, 1916 - Died Oct. 5th, 2010
Fans of British horror films of the '70s
will probably know this man, since between working with Hammer and Amicus, he
was cranking out some entertaining films in a very short time.
Starting his career at the bottom and working his way up, even as an assistant
director on Alfred Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES (1938), he eventually became a
director. He even hit some critical fame with A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1958),
a film about the Titanic. His first film for Hammer was the 3rd of their Quatermass movies, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967). Then in 1970, he made a
huge hit with horror fans with THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), starring the lovely
Ingrid Pitt. After that, he continued working with both Hammer and Amicus
turning out great films, like SCARS OF DRACULA (1970), DR. JEKLYLL & SISTER HYDE
(1971), ASYLUM (1972), THE VAULT OF HORROR (1973), AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS
(1973), and THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974).
Baker's films were simple. They had all the elements to
make a great movie, which is what he continually turned out. He has quite
a few films in his filmography that some horror fans would call classics, and I
don't think you'd get too much of an argument.
John L. Balderston
Born Oct. 22nd, 1889 - Died Mar. 8th, 1954
Balderston started his career in
journalism, being a correspondent in Europe during WWI, as well as being there
for the opening of tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt. But this his career
changed when he was asked to revise Hamilton Deane's stageplay of Dracula for
the American tour. He would then be hired to adapt that into a screenplay
for the movie version for Universal. He would also have his hand in
writing the screen play for many of Universal's classic monster movies, such as
FRANKENSTEIN (1931), THE MUMMY (1932), MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935), BRIDE OF
FRANKENSTEIN (1935), MAD LOVE (1935), and a few others.
A lot that came out of Balderston in his scripts became some
of the standards for those early horror movies.
Born Feb. 7th, 1914 - Died Oct. 17th, 1994
George Barrows is most known for the roles
he played where you didn't even see his face. He was one of those 'guys in
a gorilla suit'. But not just that, he was one of the BEST in that league,
appearing in tons of movies and TV shows as a gorilla. Barrows actually
had made his own suit, and spend quite a bit of time studying real gorillas to
get their movements down. Of course, one of his most famous roles was that
in the the 1953 film ROBOT MONSTER.
He also appeared in plenty of shows and movies in small bit
parts, as well as working as a stuntman. He is one of those "men in suit"
guys that never received proper screen credit for the hard work that they did
over the years, only because they were hidden underneath their costume.
This is something that needs to be changed.
Born Dec. 22nd, 1905, Died in March of 1974
Bau is another name in the movie industry
that is pretty much an unknown. But had it not been for him, the world of
movies would have been quite different. Back in the late '30s, Bau
was developing and creating new types of makeups, such as foam latex, that
would be still used to this day. The stuff that he was inventing at the
time was used by Perc Westmore on the film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939),
allowing them to do wonders with Charles Laughton's makeup. Bau also
developed the first plastic bald cap, a method to preserve plaster molds so they
could be used more than once, the pressure injection method of inserting foam
latex into large size molds, and many more.
He worked on films such as ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944), HOUSE
OF WAX (1953), and FRANKENSTEIN 1970 (1958) to name a few. But without his
discoveries and the inventions that he created, the world of monsters might not
have looked as good as they did then, or do now.
Born March 14th, 1922 - Died January. 15th, 1996
Baxter was a composer that started in the film business in
the early '50s cranking out score and score in record time. In 1957 alone,
he is credited for 15 different movies. In his career, he has score more
than 120 films. He worked in many different genres, but for us horror
fans, we remember him from the films he did for AIP, especially the Roger Corman
/ Edgar Allan Poe films.
Baxter started his musical career at a very young age,
learning the piano at the age of 5. In his early 20's, he joined Mel
Torme's band, worked on radio shows including Bob Hope's show, and even had a
hit record in the 50's.
But it is for his film scores that I learned of his name.
Since these movies will always live on for fans like us, so will his music.
Baxter always gave us something different and unique that always highlighted the
film even more.
Born Jan. 7th, 1924
While he might be known for his extensive
work on television and in the theater, for us horror fans, Bayldon was known for
the little roles that he appeared in a handful of horror films, most notably in
the 1972 films ASYLUM, for Amicus Films, which he is pictured here. He was
trained to become an actor in the Old Vic Theatre School from 1947 to 1949,
making his first stage appearance in 1949. According to Bayldon, he was
also offered the role of Doctor Who in the first incarnation of him, as well as
the second. But for some reason, he turned them down.
For horror fans, you will see Bayldon pop up in films like
FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969), TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972), THE HOUSE
THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1972), and even THE HORROR OF DRACULA (1958). Like his
role in ASYLUM, his performance in HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, as the person who
sells John Pertwee a Dracula cloak, is so fun and so memorible. Bayldon is
another one of those many character actors that filled out the British film
industry, making the films so much more entertaining.
Born: Sept. 20th, 1925 Died: July 12th, 2001
There is not a fan of British horror films out there that has
not heard of Bernard's work. Most notably for giving Hammer Films their
sound, with such famous scores for CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLERS, PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, and the QUATERMASS films, Bernard also worked on countless other horror films. But probably
his most well known score was the one he did for Hammer's HORROR OF DRACULA.
For soundtrack fans, a lot of his work has been put onto CD
for us, and fans to come, to have the opportunity to enjoy this great talent for
years to come.
So the next time you're watching a Hammer movie, pay a little
more attention to the music you're hearing. Most likely, it came from the
mind and talent of James Bernard.
Born Jan. 13th, 1912 - Died May 24th, 1969
This square-jawed, barrel-chested actor
appeared in quite a few of Roger Corman's early pictures, such as BEAST WITH A
MILLION EYES (1955), DAY THE WORLD ENDED (1955), and the classic NOT OF THIS
EARTH (1957), not to mention several other of Corman's movies. But it was
on the latter that he had a run in with Corman, even a physical one according to some
reports, and walked off the set and never came back. But none the less, he
is one character actor that you can always remember. He is always
entertaining to watch in these early cheesy classic films.
He appeared in countless TV series during his career, with
bit parts in even bigger pictures. He was one of the first humans to
discover what the newly landed visitor's from Mars wanted in WAR OF THE WORLDS
(1953). He was even the very first Marlboro Man in the TV commercials.
But no matter what he is in, he is always memorable and
gives a fun performance. It also probably helped that the dialog on those
early pictures were so cheesy, that it just made them even more fun to watch
today then there were back then.
Born Oct. 25th, 1909 - Died Mar. 5th, 1996
Bissell was one of those great actors that
seemed to appear in everything. From being in an incredible amount of
television shows, as well as in tons of movies (IMDB lists 300 credits!), he was
always showing up on the sidelines. For horror fans, he is probably most
known for his appearances as a mad scientist in AIP's I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF
and I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (both in 1957). But he also appeared in
genre films like MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS (1958), I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF & I WAS
A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (BOTH 1957), INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956),
TARGET EARTH (1954), CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954), and LOST CONTINENT
(1951). He also appeared in both the original 1960 version of THE TIME
MACHINE, but also in the 1978 version.
Bissell, with a very distinct voice, often used as an
authority figure because of it, was an actor that always was on mark. He
could go over the top if needed, or just be a quiet character on the side.
But anytime we seen him on screen, it always brought a smile to our face.
Outside of being a working actor, he served on the Screen Actors Guild board of
directors for 18 years. So the next time you're watching an old b&w sci-fi
or horror film, and this guy's face pops up, now you'll know just who he is.
Born July 21st, 1927, Died July 10th, 1983
Any fans of the monster
movies of the '50s have probably the work of Paul Blaisdell. He was the
man responsible for creating a lot of those early AIP films, usually done with
very little time and even less money. But he always came up with some
incredible and very memorable designs. He started his career after
graduating from the New England School of Art and Design, he started to work for
Douglas Aircraft as a technical illustrator. He would also send in his
drawings to sci-fi fantasy publications like 'Spaceways' and 'Otherwords'.
His work was noticed by a very important figure in the horror/sci-fi genre
fandom, that of Forrest J. Ackerman. He became Blaisdell's agent and
introduced him into the world of movie making.
Blaisdell would go on to create some of the most memorable
monsters from that era. Films like THE BEAST WITH A MILLION EYES
(1955), THE SHE-CREATURE (1956), IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1957), INVASION OF THE
SAUCER MEN (1957), FROM HELL IT CAME (1957), and many more.
In the early '60s, he even started his own magazine called
Fantastic Monsters of the Film, with Bob Burns. Unfortunately, the
magazine was short lived.
With all of his creations being still remembered today by
dedicated fans, it's a shame that he still does not receive the recognition that
he should. So if you're not familiar with Blaisdell and his work, look
some of his films up and take a look at some of the fun stuff he was coming up
with, just with a few dollars and a lot of creative talent.
Born July 23rd, 1942
Born as Enrica Bianchi Colombatto, she
changed her name to Ericka Blanc when she got into movies. Fans of Euro
horror may recognize her face, since she has worked on some great films with
some great talent. Blanc was the first woman to play the famous character
Emmanuelle in the 1969 film LO, EMMANUELLE, which would later be played by
several other actresses over the years.
For for us horror fans, it was her work in films like Mario
Bava's KILL BABY, KILL (1966), THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (1971),
working alongside Paul Naschy in A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE, and one of our
personal favorites, Jean Brismée's THE DEVIL'S NIGHTMARE (1971). So don't
be surprised if you're watching a classic Euro horror films from the '60s or
'70s and see this lovely lady's face appear on the screen. If it does, the
film just got a little better.
Born July 30th, 1977
Botet is the Spanish version of Doug
Jones. When we see him in a movie, we might not recognize him since he is
underneath makeup that is hiding his true face. Being very tall and extremely
thin, and being able to contort his body in unusual ways, it makes him perfect
for creature roles, such as the old skinny lady in Jaume Balagueró's [REC]
films. The reason for Botet's physical condition is Marfan syndrome which causes
the person to be very tall and then, and seemingly long extending arms and
His first screen appearance was that of a
humanoid in Brian Yuzna's BENEATH STILL WATERS (2005). Not only appearing in the
[REC] films, but he also has been in two of Álex de la Iglesia's recent films,
LAST CIRCUS and WITCHING AND BITCHING. But not just appearing in Spanish films,
he appeared as the title character in the 2013 film MAMA. Unfortunately, most of
his work was covered with CGI. There is some test footage that was used of him
playing the character without any CGI and it is a hell of a lot more creepier
than the final product. Once again proving that a real actor in makeup can be
more effective than a cartoon. Especially when they are being preformed by a
talented artist like Botet. You can check out that footage
Born Nov. 10th, 1913 - Died Jan. 1979
Bowie was one of the men responsible for
making Hammer Films, as well as plenty of other films, look as good as they did.
While he did work on a varying type of special effects, he was mainly known for
working on matte paintings and models. A lot of the shots in the films
where you see a mountainous landscape was due to Bowie. The first film he
worked on for Hammer was THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT, where he created the title
monster. But he also worked on some of their classics like HORROR OF
DRACULA, PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, and many more films.
He also worked on the original SUPERMAN movie, where he would
eventually win both an Oscar and a BAFTA for his work. Unfortunately, he
passed away on the same night that the rest of the team that worked on the
special effects for that movie had won. So he never knew.
Bowie's work was one of those little things in the movie that
might only be shown on screen for a few seconds, but really made an impact on
the look of the movie. So that is the reason that he needs to be
remembered for the hard work that he would go through, for very little money,
for something that is only glimpsed at.
Born Aug. 17th, 1892 - Died Oct. 12th, 1982
Beginning his career on the stage, just like his father,
later moving into film production, before moving to England in 1934 because of
the rise of the Nazis. Working briefly as a production supervisor, he made his
directorial debut with a remake of D.W. Griffith's BROKEN BLOSSOMS. The next
year, he moved to the US. Over the next few years, working with first Columbia
and then 20th Century Fox, where he seemed to specilize in dark thrillers. While
he only made 4 films that could be considered in the horror genre, they were all
The first was THE UNDYING MONSTER (1942) which was hybrid of a murder mystery
and monster-on-the-loose, but was filmed with tons of atmosphere. But his next
one, THE LODGER (1944), a remake of the Hitchcock film, is still to this day one
of the best Jack the Ripper movies ever made. Because of the success of that
film, he made HANGOVER SQUARE, which has a very similar theme to THE LODGER but
is also an exceptional film. He later directed Vincent Price in THE MAD MAGICIAN
(1954), eventually doing a lot of work on television, like directing 10 episodes
of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 5 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Hour
and 12 episodes each of Twilight Zone and Thriller. So while he
might not have directed a lot of films in the genre, what he did do, he did
Born Aug. 17th, 1946
Briant had studied law at Trinity College Dublin, but felt
the calling of another profession: that of the actor. He started acting at
a young age, even nominated by the London Theatre Critics in 1973 for The Most
Promising Newcomer from his performance in 'Children of the Wolf'. He had
signed a contract with Hammer Films and made 4 films for them back to back.
They were DEMONS OF THE MIND, STRAIGHT ON TIL MORNING, FRANKENSTEIN AND THE
MONSTER FROM HELL and CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER. He also appeared as
the title character in a remake of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.
In 1983, Briant moved to Australia and has worked in both
film and television over there since. He also has become an accomplished
writer, publishing 7 novels so far.
Granted, for me, Briant will always be known as one of of the
actors that Hammer was trying to replace Cushing and Lee with, hoping this young
blood would continue their reign. Unfortunately, while Briant was always
entertaining in his roles, it didn't help Hammer.
Born Oct. 18th, 1917 - Died Aug. 24th, 1991
In the years before the internet, if there
is one job in the movie business that is probably responsible for getting to
people to come to the movies, it was the people creating the movie poster.
This was what the future audience was going to look at and decide that they had
to come back next week to see that movie. And one of these guys
responsible for that in the '50s through the '60s, was Reynold Brown.
Between 1951 and 1970, he created somewhere between 250 and 275 movie posters.
And a LOT of them, I guarantee that you've seen before. Titles like
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, TARANTULA, THIS ISLAND
EARTH, I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, or even THE DEADLY
MANTIS. Each one of these pieces truly is a work of incredible art.
Not only just recreating a giant monster on the poster, but creating a story
right there in one look.
Being left-handed, at a time when that wasn't 'normal', his
grammar school teachers forced him to write "properly" with his right hand.
Of course, he still used his left hand to doodle and draw. And that he
did. He continued to draw all through high school, even getting a
scholarship for an art school, but couldn't go because of the death of his
father. But he still continued to work on his talent, eventually working
on a comic strip called Tailspin Tommy. After the advice of one of his
heroes, Norman Rockwell, he got a job as an illustrator at North American
Aviation, doing technical illustrations for service manuals. He eventually
worked as a freelance illustrated for years, eventually getting a teaching job
as Art Center College, which he did for 26 years.
In 1951, he did his first movie poster, for the film THE
WORLD IN HIS ARMS. Some of his posters are iconic and ones that we've been
seeing for years. So Reynold Brown is a name that needs to be remembered
for his work in this field, and for creating such incredible works of art,
making us want to see those movies over and over again.
Check out the official website by clicking
HERE. There was
also a documentary on him made in 1994 called THE MAN WHO DREW BUG-EYED
MONSTERS, which you can watch on Youtube by clicking
Born Jan. 31st, 1923 – Died Dec. 2nd, 2004
Many people thing that Roger Corman is king of the low
budget filmmaking, but they have never heard of Larry Buchanan. He was
based in Texas and was making films at a fraction of the cost Corman was
getting. And while his films may not have been "good" films, they usually
turned a profit. One of his first films, THE NAKED WITCH (1961) was
made for only $8,000 and made $80,000 the first month it was release. Not
a bad investment.
He was hired to make remakes of four AIP movies for TV.
Again, with a considerable lower budget and only one "star", he cranked them out
in no time flat. A good number of his films are available on DVD, and one
of them usually finds its way in my annual Turkey-Day marathon. As we
said, they might not be good films, but they are entertaining.
Here are some of Buchanan's titles to seek out. THE EYE
CREATURES (1965), ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS (1966), CURSE OF THE SWAMP
CREATURE (1966), MARS NEEDS WOMEN (1967), CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION (1967), plus many more.
Born Feb. 12th, 1899 - Died Aug. 25th, 1963
Cahn started his career as an apprentice
film editor but then quickly moved into directing. He started out making a
lot of westerns, crime dramas, and comedies, mainly Our Gang ones.
But in the mid '50s, when sci-fi pictures were starting to really take off, Cahn
started directing those and made quite a few of them in a very short time.
In fact, Cahn might not have been a great director, but he was a quick and
efficient one, something that is much needed in the world of low budget
B-movies. But the ones he made might have been 'low budget', but they were
still entertaining, making a few classics while he was doing it.
In his 31 years as a director, he credited with 125 films.
That is 4 films a year average, with some years he was make 10! Imagine
one of today's directors trying to accomplish something like that. But
during those years, he did make some great fun flicks, usually ones with some
memorable titles. Such as CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN (1955), INVASION OF
THE SAUCER MEN (1957), CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN (1958), or THE FOUR SKULLS OF
JONATHON DRAKE (1959). Of course, probably his most famous film is the
1958 film that would go on to inspire Ridley Scott's ALIEN, which would be IT!
TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE.
So if you're looking for a fun sci-fi/horror film for a
Saturday afternoon, look up some of Cahn's work. I think you'll find
yourself being entertained.
Born Apr. 29th, 1912 - Died Nov. 24th, 1977
You really can't be a fan of classic
sci-fi/horror films and not at least recognize the face of Richard Carlson.
While he's only really played in a handful of genre titles, since two of them
were pretty well known, and even more so because they were originally released
in 3-D. Those two films are IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953) and CREATURE FROM
THE BLACK LAGOON (1954). Usually playing the hero or good guy in the stories,
Carlson always do an excellent job portraying the likable kind of character.
Although, completely playing against that type, his performance in Bert I.
Gordon's TORMENTED, he really shows how well he can play a real heel too!
After graduating from college with a Master's Degree in
English, he taught briefly before getting bitten by the acting bug and buying a
theater to run his own company. He worked for many years, on the stage, in
movies, and a lot of television work. The other genre titles in his career were
THE MAGNETIC MONSTERS (1953) and THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969). But he will always
been known to most fans from his two 3-D movie appearances.
Born Jan. 30th 1910, Died June 9th, 1990
James Carreras was the son of Enriqué
Carreras, who along with William Hinds, would form the company that would later
evolve into Hammer Films. First starting as a distribution company, Hammer
Films was created to make their own films that they could distribute. And
James Carreras would be the head of that division until he retired.
The great thing about Carreras was that he knew little about
the actual making of films. He left that up to the people who knew what
they were doing. But he knew how to sell the movies. And his policy
was about as simple as you could get: make films that are guaranteed to make a
profit. In those days, with these smaller film companies, sometimes your
financing on the next film would rest on how well your last one did at the box
office. And this is something that Carreras seemed to excel at. He
was always bringing in fresh female faces to appear in their newest films.
Starting the trend that would become known as Hammer Glamour. Again, he
knew what would sell.
He was the head of the company until 1971, when he gave
control over to his son Michael.
Sept. 12, 1923 Died: Aug. 25th, 2001
All horror fans know the names of Dick Smith, Tom Savini,
Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, and quite a few others that became famous in the 70's
and 80's. But what about John Chambers?
Chambers is probably best known for his creation of the
makeup effects used to turn Roddy McDowell and other actors into ape-creatures
in The Planet of the Apes. He also worked on horror films like SSSSSSS,
ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1977), and even HALLOWEEN II.
But it wasn't just here that his work is held in high
regards. Chambers helped invent and create new types of makeup and helped
advance the industry with his talent.
And if that wasn't enough to appreciate the man, before he
got into the movies, he worked for the Veteran's Hospital (and many others)
creating prosthetic limbs for wounded soldiers. He also was creating other
artificial parts like noses, ears, and some entire faces, to help those soldiers
who came back scared or deformed by the horrors of combat.
So either from his work in the movies, or for our wounded soldiers, John
Chambers is a name that you should know.
Born Dec. 20th - Died July 15th, 2001
It's a very old story how Hammer CEO would
take a poster art of a new film to the distributors and sell the picture, only
to then give the poster to the screen writer and tell them to write the movie!
One of men responsible for those posters was Tom Chantrell, who turned out over
7000 designs in his career, averaging about 3 posters a week! If you're a
fan of Hammer films then you are well aware of his work, even if you didn't know
it. His designs highlighted the selling points of what Hammer was trying
to do...sell tickets! Just try doing a Google image search of his name and
see the hundreds of works of art that this man did in his career.
His first film poster was for the 1938 film THE AMAZING DR.
CLITTERHOUSE, and he continued to work well into the late '70s. When the
'80s came, that style of poster art seemed to be replaced by cheap computer
Photoshop works of "art". He did work a bit designing video covers, but
it just wasn't the same.
But at least that before his death, he was able to learn and
realize that his artwork, as well as many other great poster art, was now being
regarded as great works of art and had become highly collectable. Never
one to give himself the credit he deserved, Chantrell was very modest, calling a
good poster a "ripsnorter".
Maybe one day this style of poster art will come back.
We can always hope.
For a great interview with Chantrell, along with some great
examples of his work, as well as many other Hammer posters and celebrities, head
Hammer Horror Posters.
Born Aug. 20th, 1937
For some reason this name
might not be that familiar, but if you're a fan of Italian movies, then you've
heard his work. Cipriani is a composer that has written music for over 200
films. Working in many different genres, he created his share of horror
film scores. He worked with Mario Bava on quite a few films, such as
TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (1971), BARON BLOOD (1972) and would later score RABID
DOGS (1974). He also did the music for TRAGIC CEREMONY (1972), TENTACLES
(1977), GREAT ALLIGATOR (1979), NIGHTMARE CITY (1980), PIRANHA 2 (1981), and a
When he scored TENTACLES, he re-used the main theme from one
of his earlier movies, LA POLIZIA STA A GUARDARE (1973). And apparently a
young filmmaker named Taratino liked the film so much that he used it in this
film DEATH PROOF.
With all the great Italian films out there, the music is
usually very effective as well as important to the whole feel of the movie
experience. That is why these hard working composers, like Cipriani need
to be noticed and remembered.
Born 1930 - Died Feb. 8th, 1987
Born in Havana, he went to school for
architecture and got a degree in the field. He then moved to Paris to
study architecture and language. But his love of the cinema soon took
over, making him change what he wanted to do with his life. He soon
started writing film criticism for many different periodicals, such as Sight
and Sound, Cahiers du Cinema, and The Village Voice. He would
work with directors like Agnes Varda and Robert Besson. Because of his
knowledge of several languages, he would also work on film subtitles for foreign
He would eventually take his collection of movie stills, said
to number in the hundreds of thousands, and start still photograph rental
business called Photeque, which he ran with his partner until his death.
But it was was because of his writing and passion for movies
is why we remember him. He was one of the first authors to publish a book
on horror movies. It is the classic tomb, An Illustrated History of the
Horror Film, published in 1967. This is the book that started a lot of
fans journey into learning more about the horror genre. Clarens gives his
readers an essential history lesson when it comes to film, telling us about the
birth of the cinema, who people like Méliès, Edison and the Lumiére Brothers
were and what contribution did they make to the filmmaking history, as well as
what they did for the horror genre.
If you have any sort of a horror reference book collection,
you really owe it to yourself to make sure you have Clarens book in your
Born June 1st, 1920 - Died June 11th, 2005
Robert Clarke was one of those actors who was in countless
films, but for some reason, very few remember him. He made a career out of
acting, but sometimes that might just have been playing a guy in the background
or walking through the shot. Other times he had bigger roles, working
along side some of the greatest names in Hollywood, like Frederic March and John
Wayne. In the horror genre, he worked with pretty much all of the greats,
like Karloff, Chaney Jr., Carradine, and more. But unfortunately, for some
reason, his name is just not that well known. So let's change that.
Though he made quite a few westerns, Clarke is probably
remember more from cult horror/sci-fi fans because of the few genre pics that he
did back in the '50s, such as THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951) and THE HIDEOUS SUN
DEMON, which Clarke also co-wrote, co-produced, co-directed as well as playing
the title character! So while he may be the epitome of a B-Movie actor, it
is for that reason that he is still remembered by cult fans to this day.
So let us keep his memory alive!
Born Oct. 26th, 1924
If you were a fan of Dan Curtis, then you
are well aware of the work of Bob Cobert. He is probably best known for
his work on the series DARK SHADOWS, including scoring the two feature films
based on that series, HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS (1970) and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS
(1971), as well as the 1991 revival of the series. But he also did tons of
other TV work, such as STRANGE CASEE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1968), THE
NIGHT STALKER (1972), THE NORLISS TAPES (1973), TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975), BURNT
OFFERINGS (1976), and tons of other projects. He also did his share of
non-genre work, such as Curtis' THE WINDS OF WAR (1983) and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE
(1988), as well as creating his fare share of game show themes and even a couple
of soap operas....ones that didn't feature a vampire.
Cobert's music had its own unique style that was
recognizable, memorable, and always added to what we were watching on screen.
Those films and shows would definitely had lost something without Cobert's
Born Sept. 15th, 1904 - Died April 22nd, 1967
Older brother of actor George Sanders, Tom
had to change his name after he lost a bet with his brother on who would change
their name for show business. Born in a wealthy Russian family that were
forced to leave and move to England for some reason, political or otherwise.
While Conway appeared in quite a few films in his career, he never really hit
the big time. Even starring in 3 films for Val Lewton in the early '40s,
such as THE CAT PEOPLE (1942), I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), and THE SEVENTH
VICTIM (1943), his career just never took off or lasted that long. Due to
his failing eyesight and problems with alcoholism, worked started to get fewer
and fewer. He did appear in two films for Edward L. Cahn, THE SHE-CREATURE
(1956) and VOODOO WOMAN (1957).
The later part of his life was spend with very little money
and even less fame. At the end, he was found dead in his girlfriend's bed,
at the age of 62. It is a shame that a somewhat talented actor who was
doing pretty good at one point in his life, but possibly due to the alcoholism,
it effected his career too much for him to stay working. But at least we
can still remember him and his work, even after all years later.
Born Feb. 10th, 1926 - Died April 15th, 2008
The gorgeous Hazel Court really first took
horror fans notice when she appeared in Hammer's CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957),
opposite Peter Cushing. She had appeared in DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (1954) a
few years earlier, but it was CURSE that made her known as a horror star.
She appeared in quite a few horror movies over the years, such as Hammer's THE
MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH (1959), DOCTOR BLOOD'S COFFIN (1961), and three films
with Roger Corman: PREMATURE BURIAL (1962), THE RAVEN (1963), and THE MASQUE OF
THE RED DEATH (1964).
Not only very appealing to the eyes, Court was a fine actress
that could play the villainess just as easily as the heroine. In 2008, she
released her autobiography entitled Hazel Court: Horror Queen.
Born: March 12th, 1946
If you are a fan of horror movies from the '70s and '80s, then you have most likely seen the work of Dean Cundey. Especially
if you are a fan of the early works of John Carpenter. Dean Cundey is now
one of the top rated cinematographers in the business. But before he
became a top name in Hollywood, he was working quite often in the horror genre,
making some classic films look even better than they should have.
Just by looking at his early resume, you will see a lot of
favorite cult titles listed in here. Titles like THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM
THE SEA, CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE, ILSA: HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS, SATAN'S
CHEERLEADERS, WITHOUT WARNING, JAWS OF SATAN, and the list goes on. But
his work with John Carpenter is really where his talent shined. He worked
with Carpenter on five films, all of them being held as classic:
HALLOWEEN, THE FOG, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE THING, and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE
So even while he may have gone on to work more in the bigger
budgeted Hollywood films, we owe this man a lot of thanks for the way that some
of these great films turned out.
Born Dec. 24th, 1886 - Died Apr. 10th, 1962
Curtiz is probably best known for
directing CASABLANCA, which he won an Oscar for Best Directing. He had
been nominated 3 times before, but had never won. He made tons of movies
throughout this career and developed quite the reputation. This Hungarian
born director was said not to have mastered the English language, often getting
into heated arguements with this cast and crew. While he mainly would have
these altercations with his crew, there were a few big names stars that he had
run ins with, such as Fay Wray, David Niven, and Bette Davis, who refused to
work with Curtiz.
But while made over 170 pictures, he only made 3 in the
horror genre. In 1932, he directed DOCTOR X, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM in
1933, and finally THE WALKING DEAD in 1936. Both DOCTOR and MYSTERY was
filmed using 2-strip technicolor. While MYSTERY would be later remade with
Vincent Price in HOUSE OF WAX, this original version shows an excellent
performance by Lionel Atwill.
Born Apr. 3rd, 1922 - Died Sept. 14th, 1983
If you are a fan of Spanish horror from
the early '70s, especially that of Jess Franco's work, then you've probably seen
Dalbés' face at some point. For me, I first became aware of him from
appearing as the mad doctor in Paul Naschy's THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1973).
He really was fun to watch in that one, playing a scientist so driven in his
plans to create a new life form, that he had no care or whims about other
people, even having them killed to be used to feed this beast he was creating.
He made his screen debut in 1943 for a film called YOUTH
KICKS and worked in quite a few movies before moving to Spain, where he
continued to appear on screen. He appeared in other genre films like
MANIAC MANSION and CUT-THROATS NINE, both from 1972.
But he seemed to work quite a bit with Jess Franco, appearing
in quite a few number of his films, such as NIGHT OF THE ASSASSINS (1974), THE
DEMONS (1973), TENDER AND PERVERSE EMANUELLE (1973), DRACULA: PRISONER OF
FRANKENSTEIN (1972), THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1972).
So the next time you find yourself watching a Franco film,
you just might want to keep your eyes open to see if you don't see Dalbés come
Born Dec. 2nd, 1924
While Davis was an accomplished
illustrator and cartoonist, it is because of his work mainly with a comic book
company in the '50s that he is most known for. After being turned down by
several other comic book companies, he went over to E.C. Comics, met up with
owner William Gaines and company and was hired. He would work on their
most famous titles, like Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, as well as the
rest of the E.C. titles. His artwork was incredible and set the standards
for a lot of upcoming talent. He was also one of the fastest artists,
according to Gaines, completely penciling and inking 3 pages a day at times.
Davis also worked on a few movie posters, most notably for
horror fans was the one he did for HORROR HOTEL, as well as designing some of
the characters for Rankin/Bass' MAD MONSTER PARTY. Davis was one of those
artists who's work inspired so many people, and not just fellow artists, but
little budding horror fans that would devour his comics.
Born 1880 - Died Oct. 25th, 1958
Hamilton Deane was a actor and playwrite back in the late
1800's, first appearing on the stage before his 20th birthday. While he worked
with the Henry Irving Company (the one that Bram Stoker was the stage manager
for), he went on to form his own troupe in the early '20s. He wanted to bring
Stoker's Dracula to the stage and spent 4 weeks writing it out when he was sick
with a bad cold.
Deane was the man responsible for turning Dracula from the
monster he is in Stoker's novel, to the urbane, well spoken (with an accent of
course), well dressed in a tuxedo and flowing cape. He wasn't the monstrous
creature from the novel, or like the one from the unauthorized German film
NOSFERATU, where he was a rat-like creature. Deane's play was a big success,
with him playing the role of Dr. Van Helsing, and played for many years.
When it came over the states, it was rewritten by American
playright John L. Balderston, where it also was a big success. It was this
adaptation, the combined ideas from both Deane and Balderston, which pretty much
what the Tod Browning film was based on. A few years later, he would also
commission a play adaptation of Shelley's Frankenstein be scripted as well.
If anybody knows who Ottavinao is, it is
probably due to the convention circuit that he's made over the last few years.
Italian horror fans know him from the poster zombie, or worm-faced zombie as
he's sometime referred as, on Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE. This was just one of
many films that he'd worked on early in his career, having no idea how big of an
icon his character in that movie had become here in the states. We had the
chance to meet him at one of the Cinema Wastelannd shows a few years ago and it
was just amazing to see their reaction to the fan base for this movie.
Dell'Acqua started his film as a stunt man and sometimes
actor in small or bit parts, and some even main characters. As an actor,
he appeared in films like NIGHTMARE CITY (1980), RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR (1984),
CUT AND RUN (1985), ZOMBI 3 (1988), AFTER DEATH (1989). But as a stunt man
or stunt coordinator, he worked on tons of horror and exploitation movies in the
'70s and '80s, titles like STARCRASH (1978), THE HUMANOID (1979), CANNIBAL
APOCALPYPSE (1980), CUT AND RUN and DEMONS (both 1985), and many, many more.
He's one of these many nameless actors who appear in some of our favorite films,
but few people actually know who they are. But now, by learning who people
like Ottaviano Dell'Acqua are, it is a start!
Born March 27th, 1914, Died October 11th, 1998
Richard Denning is one of those actors who
you usually either recognize or at least think he looks familiar but just can't
place him. Even though he really only made about a half dozen or so
genre films. His first one, which was probably his biggest, was
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954). Usually he would play the hero of
the picture, but in CREATURE, he wasn't the nicest guy around. While he
would have a successful career in non-genre films and a lot of television, he
still appeared in some fun movies that still hold up their entertainment value
today. Films like BLACK SCORPION (1957), DAY THE WORLD ENDED (1955), or
CREATURE WITH THE ATOMIC BRAIN (1955).
Denning had married one of the genre's early scream queens,
Evelyn Ankers, who starred in films like THE WOLFMAN (1941) and SON OF DRACULA
Born in 1932
If you have watched any movies from the Philippines,
especially in the exploitation genre, then you've most likely seen Vic Diaz's
face somewhere. He has been a staple of the Philippine film industry since
the late '50s and had continued to work quite a bit through the '90s.
Whether he was just a bit player or given a bigger role, he was always
recognizable and memorable.
He made 12 movies alone with director Eddie Romero, titles
like BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT (1971), BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA
(1973), with Pam Prier, BEYOND ATLANTIS and SAVAGE SISTERS (1974), both with Sid
Haig and John Ashley. Not to mention other cult titles like BLOOD THIRST
(1971), THE BIG BIRD CAGE (1972) which was directed by Jack Hill, SUPERBEAST
(1972), DAUGHTER OF SATAN (1972), co-starring Tom Selleck, VAMPIRE HOOKERS
(1978), and many other titles.
So the next time you're watching a movie from the
Philippines, keep your eye out for our pudgy little friend, Mr. Diaz. I'm
pretty sure he will be in there somewhere.
Born Apr. 14th, 1930
Dilman is one of those actors that we
usually recognize but not remember from where. I've always remembered him from
his leading performance in Joe Dante's PIRANHA (1978), even though I had seen
him a few times before on television, from made-for-TV movies to showing up on
shows like Night Gallery, in one of my favorite episodes, Pickman's Model.
Dilman started his acting career in the mid '50s, and worked
quite a bit over the years, but never really making it big as a leading man. But
he was always entertaining and fun to watch. Some of the other TV movies that he
appeared in were FEAR NO EVIL (1969), THE EYES OF CHARLES SAND (1972), MOON OF
THE WOLF (1972), DEMON, DEMON (1975), and DARK SECRET OF HARVEST HOME (1978). He
also appeared in films like ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971), THE SWARM
(1978), and in the best flaming cockroach movie ever, BUG (1975).
Born Feb. 9th, 1901 - Died April 5th, 1972
Brian Donlevy is not known for his work in
the horror genre, mainly because he didn't do that many films in the genre.
He did appear in GAMERA THE INVINCIBLE (1966), which I'm sure he was thrilled
about, as well as CURSE OF THE FLY (1965). But the reason that we wanted
to mention him here was the two films that he will always remember him from: THE
QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT (1955) and it's sequel QUATERMASS 2 (1957). Donlevy
Professor Quatermass with such conviction and dedication, very reminiscent of
one Dr. Frankenstein, where reaching his goal was the only important part, even
at the cost of lives. Not that he killed anyone, but if someone died, it
was all for the cause.
After an impressive stint in the armed forces, he fell in
love with acting. He started in films in the early '20s and stayed working
until his last film in 1969, which was PIT STOP, directed by cult genre director
Jack Hill. So yea, he might not be at the top of the class in our horror
history lessons, but just give his Quatermass films a watch and you'll see why
we enjoy his so much.
Born Apr. 8th, 1929 - Died Apr. 14th, 1996
While Everson never actually made or appeared in the movies,
he helped the film business more than most. He was a lifelong fan of
movies and spent most of his life writing, teaching, and collecting films,
working very hard to get other people to see some of the more rare films.
Leonard Maltin called him "a movie missionary" since we would travel the world
to teach people about this movies. Everson had a knack for finding lost or
rare films. But just finding them wasn't the real fun part, it was being able
to share and show other film fans these rare and interesting titles. In
the '50s, he had formed a film society where he would show these films on a
regular basis. At one point, he even got into a little trouble with the
FBI, as did a few of the bigger film collectors since the studios were not
happy with these private collectors having prints of "their" movies. But
Everson's reasoning and dedication to keep these great movies alive and for
people to see them outweighed any wrong doing.
Horror fans might recognize his name from his books
Classics of the Horror Film and More Classics of the Horror Film.
These books, especially the first one, was one of the first of its kind,
showing and teaching fans everywhere about all of these great films, through
plenty of stills and his praise. He worked very hard in his lifetime to
make sure that these films were going to be around for years to come and that
other fans could see them. He knew the not only the importance of film,
but also the importance of spreading one's knowledge of them as well to like
minded fans. That is one thing that Everson has instilled in me to this
Born Dec. 24th, 1948
If you have watched more than a handful of
Italian giallos, then chances are you've seen Edwige Fenech in action. And
she is one that is hard to forget. Born in France, she started her career
in beauty contests, eventually moving into modeling. In 1967, she made her
film debut in the comedy ALL MAD ABOUT HIM. She continued to work making
films, mostly comedies, in France, Germany, and Italy. Her first real
thriller was TOP SENSATION (1969), that co-starred another Italian sex symbol
Rosalba Neri. She appeared in Mario Bava's 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON
(1970), then the following year starred in her first film with director Sergio
Martino, the 1971 film THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH (aka BLADE OF THE RIPPER).
She would go on to star in quite a few giallos in the next few years, many of
them for Martino, titles such as ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK (1972), THE CASE OF
THE BLOODY IRIS (1972), YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED ROOM AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY
(1972), and even with director Ruggero Deodato in PHANTOM OF DEATH (1988).
In the '80s, she became a television personality, hosting a
talk show for a while. After a while, she moved into movie producing,
which she has been doing since. She even co-produced the 2004
version of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE starring Al Pacino.
Seeing Fenech's name in any movie was always an extra bonus.
Such a great talent and just beautiful to watch, she is one of the reasons that
Italian giallos are still as popular these days as they were back then.
While we generally try and cover people
that have passed away or are no longer working, we thought it would be a nice
change to get this guy's name out a little more often. Fessenden is a
director, actor, producer, writer, cinematographer, and just about anything and
everything else you can do in the film business. And what is even more
important about Fessenden is that he champions the up-and-coming young talent.
He created Scareflix, a low budget horror banner of Glass Eye Pix, to "exploit
hungry new talent and inspire resourceful filmmakers to produce quality work
through seat-of-the-pants ingenuity." And for that alone, not only does
this many get our respect, but also that he has turned out some mighty fine
pieces of work.
As a director, his film HABIT is a favorite of ours. As
a producer, Ti West's HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and Jim Mickle's STAKE LAND, he has
helped give us some damn fine cinema, and has learned that it doesn't have to
play by Hollywood's rules. Yet another reason to applaud this man.
Pay attention to his name and the films he's involved with. They will be
Born Aug. 6th, 1926
Frank Finlay was supposed to follow in his
father's footsteps and become a butcher. But things changed when he fell
in love with the stage. He started his professional career on the stage in
1957 in a productions of "Jessica" and "The Telescope" by the Guilford Theatre
Company. He would later graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
He made his film debut in 1962 in the film THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE
Of course, for us horror fans, he is probably best known for
his role in Tobe Hooper's movie LIFEFORCE. But he made a few appearances
even before that, such as playing Van Helsing in the BBC version of Dracula,
pitted against Louis Jourdan as Dracula. He also appeared in the films
TWISTED NERVE, along side Hayley Mills and Billie Whitelaw and THE DEADLY BEES.
And for those real lovers of bad cinema, he actually appeared in the film CTHULU
MANSION, which even though directed by J.P. Simon, who gave us PIECES,
unfortunately this movie is just terrible. But none the less, one that
should be remembered since there were a few people involved that were giving it
Fleming was one of those faces that might
not have made a lot of horror films, but she was one that was always
recognizable. Of course, since she appeared in one of my favorite films, TOMBS
OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971), she will always be remembered for her performance in
there. She also appeared in de Ossorio's follow up, RETURN OF THE EVIL DEAD,
though as a different character. She also appearred in Eugenio Martin's 19773
film IT HAPPENED AT NIGHTMARE IN (aka A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL). I'm sure the fact
that she was married to the director had nothing to do with her casting. Even if
it was she still gives a great performance here. She also appeared in another de
Ossorio film, THE POSSESSED, as well as working with Paul Naschy vigilante film,
EL ULTIMO KAMIKAZE (1984). And while it was a small part, she worked with Juan
Piquer Simón's take on the Jules Vern epic THE FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF
THE EARTH (aka WHERE TIME BEGAN). She recently had a cameo in Victor Matellano's
film WAX, which starred another favorite Spanish actor of ours, Jack Taylor.
No matter what she was in, it is always a treat to see her
names in the credit.
Born Sept. 14th, 1900 - Died May 16th, 1979
Director Robert Florey is almost as famous
for the movie he DIDN'T direct as the ones that he did. He was originally
hired to write and direct the original FRANKENSTEIN, which at the time was going
to star Bela Lugosi as the monster. Florey was writing the script, which
several elements of the story would stay in the final draft that Whale ended up
doing. But after the famous test footage (that was lost) with Lugosi in
Golem-type makeup, the project was given to Whale. Florey didn't read his
contract good enough...it said he could write and direct A picure...not
FRANKENSTEIN in particular.
But Florey would go on to give us a few great films in the
genre, as well as working in just about every other genre out there. The
film he did instead of FRANKENSTEIN, was MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1932) with
Lugosi. While Lugosi does chew the scenes a bit, the film is still a
classic. Florey would also direct another two great films with Peter
Lorre, THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK (1941) and THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946).
Born February 3rd, 1950
The first movie I rented after buying my
first VCR was THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) and it has remained one of my
favorites to this day. One of those stars of the film was Pamela Franklin.
I would later learn of the many genre films that she appeared in, the first
being when she was only 11 years old. Her first movie roll was that of the
little Flora in Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS, based on the Henry James' novel
The Turn of the Screw, which is still considered a classic. But she
would also appear in several other genre titles over her career, including THE
NANNY (1965) for Hammer Studios, NECROMANCY (1972) and FOOD OF THE GODS (1976)
both for Bert I. Gordon, and the original versions of both AND SOON THE DARKNESS
(1970) and SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.
Franklin always played the women in peril, mainly because of
her beautiful innocent eyes and face. But no matter what she was in, we
have always found her very memorable and is one of our favorite actress from
that period. We highly recommend you seeking out her films if you haven't
seen them already.
Born Jan. 16th, 1890 - Died May3rd, 1969
Karl Freund was a German cinematographer
that worked with some other top names in the business: Robert Wiene, F.W. Murnau,
and Fritz Lang. When he finally made his way over to the states, Universal
quickly put him under contract, where he would photograph several of their
films, including a few horror films like DRACULA (1931) and MURDERS IN THE RUE
MORGUE (1932). He would eventually director a few films, 2 of them being
horror, and those 2 being classics. The first one was THE MUMMY (1932),
the second one, being the last film he would direct, was MAD LOVE (1935).
Freund went back to being a cameraman, because that is what
he knew best. He won an Oscar for Best Cinematography for THE GOOD EARTH
(1937), nominated again for BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST (1941), and was given an Oscar
in 1955 in the Technical Achievement department for the design and development
of a direct reading brightness meter. He eventually went to work in
television, specifically on the I Love Lucy show, and helped developed the
3-camera system for filming TV shows, which is still being used today. He
also developed a new way of lighting the sitcoms, making them look a lot better
than what they had been.
So while he was obviously a very talented cameraman, and gave
the industry some technical advances, he also gave us horror fans some great
movies to watch, which the fans are still doing today!
Born July 2nd, 1951
If you are a fan of Italian zombie movies,
or that of Lucio Fulci, then you are well aware of the work of Fabio Frizzi. He
is the man responsible for the incredible music in films like ZOMBIE, THE
BEYOND, and even that amazing little 7-note cue from THE PYSCHIC.
Starting his musical career in the '60s when he hooked up
with fellow musicians Franco Bixio and Vince Tempera with the idea of creating
music for film and television. After working on quite a few films, they scored a
western film called FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE, directed by a man named Lucio Fulci.
A few years later, when Frizzi decided to go on his career alone, he was hired
to do the score for ZOMBIE, which became a huge hit for Fulci. Frizzi would go
on to score his other films like CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE BEYOND,
creating such an beautiful and haunting piece of music that really adds to those
Born Nov. 4th, 1902 - Died July 5th, 1966
Fulton got into the film industry, even
with strong disapproval from his father. Starting out as an assistant
cameraman, which basically meant carrying around the camera and equipment, it
wasn't too long before he moved up to cameraman. But it wasn't long before
he worked more on the special effects and trick photography than actual
cinematography. He worked on many of the Universal classic monster films,
such as both DRACULA & FRANKENSTEIN and a lot of their sequels/spinoffs.
But one of his best known works was making Claude Rains invisible in the James
Whale's THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), which he continued on many of the films
in this series, which would get him 3 different Oscar nominations. He
would eventually take home 2 Oscars for WONDER MAN (1945) and THE TEN
The film industry wouldn't be where it is at now had it
not been for some of the techniques that Fulton developed back in the early
'30s. He was definitely an innovator and changed movie history.
March 1st, 1922 Died: June 3rd, 1992
For horror fans, Gaines is known for the creator of EC
Comics, which published Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Weird Tales, and
a few other titles. He was publishing these comics in the early 1950s.
Each issue contained tales of murder, zombies, vampires, and other strange
things that go bump in the night. But there were messages in these tales.
Bad people always got what was coming to them.
But the parents in those days, with the help and guidance of
Dr. Fredric Wertham, considered these comics to take their children over to the
dark side, causing them to become juvenile delinquents. It even ended
Gaines in front of the Senate Committee hearing on Juvenile Delinquency.
The fight that Gaines gave, even though he eventually lost, is a fight that all
supporters of free speech should be proud of.
Horror fans should know Gaines and be thankful for the
incredible work that he did with his comics, that have inspired fans for the
last 50+ years.
Born Oct. 17th, 1926 - Died Dec. 5th, 2008
If you are fan of some of those early
Roger Corman monster movies from the '50s, then you will recognize Beverly
Garland. While she didn't make a lot of movies in the horror genre, the
ones that she did appear in are classics. Classics such as IT CONQUERED
THE WORLD (1956), CURUCU, BEAST OF THE AMAZON (1956), NOT OF THIS EARTH (1957),
and THE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE (1959).
But while only appearing in a few cult films, she worked
quite a bit in both movies and television after making her feature film debut in
the 1950 film D.O.A. In 1957, she starred in a television drama series
called Decoy, where she played an uncover policewoman. This was a big
honor for her since not only was it the first time a woman was the star of a
series, but she also go to be the first TV policewoman!
As long as new film fans learn about those early classics of
Roger Corman, then Beverly Garland's work will never die, and she will never be
Born Jan. 2nd, 1930 - Died Jan. 14th, 2007
Tudor Gates started his career in the
theater, at a stage manager. But before too long, being unimpressed with
some of the writing that he'd been seeing, he thought he could better than that.
So he started writing plays, and eventually for movies. He would even work
for Mario Bava, being one of the many names credited for writing DANGER:
Horror fans are going to know him from his work with Hammer
in the early '70s. Gates was the one responsible for writing the Karnstein
trilogy, starting with THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970). It started with a
12-page outline, which Hammer CEO James Carreras would then have a poster
created and then sell the movie. Once that was done, it was up to Gates to
write the screenplay. This was not the first time either. According
to Gates, Carreras "wasn’t a film-maker really,
he was a brilliant salesman and all he ever needed was 12 pages and a poster and
he could sell a movie – and he did, many times."
After THE VAMPIRE LOVERS came LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and TWINS OF
EVIL (both 1971). He had started on a 4th film in the series, but it never
came to be. He would also go on to write the very underrated film FRIGHT
(1971). While he only worked on a handful of horror films, the ones he
gave us are well worth remembering him for.
Antonio Pérez Giner
One person that is really needed to make
movies happen is the producer. They are the ones that get the money to be
able to make the money. Even on the lowest of budgets, someone needs to
make sure things are happening, from having a crew, getting them paid, if they
are even getting paid, or at least fed while their working. But it is also
finding the right people for the job. So while they might not have their
hands directly in the creative aspect of the filmmaking process, it is still a
very important job.
In the Spanish film industry, José Antonio Pérez Giner was
one man who help bring a lot of my favorite Spanish horrors to the screen.
He started as a production manager, working on films like Sergio Leone's THE
GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966), as well as a couple of Paul Naschy's films,
such as THE WEREWOLF VERSUS THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1971). But he moved into
the producer role, getting films made like Naschy's HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB
(1973) and BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (1974), as well as Amando de
Ossorio's TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1972) and LORELEY'S GRASP (1974), as many,
many other great films.
In 2003, he was awarded the Career Award at the Sant Jordi
Awards. In 2008 at Sitges, he was presented the Time-Machine Honorary
Born Oct. 22nd, 1947 - Died Jan. 21st, 1978
William Girdler is mainly known for his
low budget exploitation/horror movies. But what most don't know is really
what this man accomplished. Setting up his filmmaking shop in Louisville
Kentucky, he was determined to make movies. The fact that he made 9 movies
in 6 years before his untimely death is a fact that is amazing compared to
today's directors. Girdler not only directed these films, but also wrote
most of them, produced some of them, and even composed some of the music for
some. He simply loved making movies. Granted his budgets were low,
but he made entertaining films. And with each film, he was becoming a
better filmmaker. While his EXORCIST rip-off is more comical than serious,
one can't say that it isn't entertaining. But his last films really showed
his potential. His JAWS rip-off, GRIZZLY (1976) is actually pretty
entertaining, even though it really is basically JAWS on land. But the
audiences didn't care and it did really well at the box office. Keeping in
the animal theme, DAY OF THE ANIMALS was another fan favorite, showing a
completely different side of soon-to-be comedic actor Leslie Nielsen.
But his last film, THE MANITOU (1978), starring Tony Curtis, would be a huge
hit, and might have started his path down a bigger and better production road.
But this was cut short when he died in a helicopter accident in Manila, while
scouting out locations for his next film project. Damn shame to see
someone with drive and passion for movies is cut short.
Born Sept. 24, 1922
Bert I. Gordon got his nickname Mr. BIG from a combination of
his initials, as well as due to the type of films that he was making that
generally had some sort of oversized creature. It started in 1955 with
KING DINOSAUR, where he used real animals, like an alligator and iguana posing
as prehistoric creatures, battling each other to the death. He then moved
onto giant grasshoppers attacking Chicago area in BEGINNING OF THE END (1957).
From there he made other films specializing in using real creatures and super
imposing them over footage with the actors, making them seem of gigantic
proportions. He continued these types of films through the '50s,'60s and
even into the '70s with films like THE FOOD OF THE GODS (1976) and EMPIRE OF THE
ANTS (1977), occasionally making non-BIG movies with some degree of success.
For fans of horror & sci-fi, he is always remembered for his
oversize creatures and imagination!
Born Nov. 23rd, 1913 - Died March 17th, 2011
Gough is an actor you might remember or recognize his face,
or even his voice, but can't place him. Or you might even know him as
Alfred from the Batman movies that Tim Burton started in 1989. But
not only has he has been in tons of great horror movies, he's been in some
not-so-great movies that are still entertaining.
Gough started his acting career in 1946, but it wasn't until
he was in Hammer Films DRACULA, as Arthur Holmwood when we would start to
remember that face. He was great as a supporting actor in films like
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORROR, THE SKULL,
and even playing a corpse in THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE. Even in the
more recent films like Wes Craven's SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW and Tim
Burton's SLEEPY HOLLOW, he was making an impression. But he wasn't
just a supporting actor either. He was the lead performer in films like
KONGA, THE CORPSE, THE BLACK ZOO, HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSUEM, and our personal favorite,
So now the next time you see this face that looks
familiar, now you'll know who he is. And maybe those titles will give you
some films to add to your "To-Watch list".
Usually in our Horror History lessons, we
try to point out people that might have been forgotten, even though their work
lives on. But this time out, we're pointing out a composer that might
relatively unknown to most fans, but we have found his soundtracks to be very
impressive. We first came across Grace's work when we reviewed his score
for STAKE LAND (which you can read
HERE). Even though we had seen some of the movies that he had scored
before, it didn't hit us until STAKE LAND. Since then, we have acquired
several of his scores and have become a bigger fan with each one.
Grace has a way of not only enhancing what is going on the
screen, but also creating some powerful and moving scores to the movies, making
them have even more of an impact. It is one thing to just make some
background music and sounds, but to really help the movie create a mood or
feeling, greater than it could on it's own, is real talent. And Grace does
just that. Just check out his scores for films like THE LAST WINTER (2006)
or one of my favorites next to STAKE LAND, is the one he did for the low budget
film TRIGGER MAN (2007). He would be one composer that I would look our
Born 1915 - Died 1972
One of the things that Hammer Films are
most known for is their look. And one of the reasons for that is due to
the cinematographer. Working with the director, they are the ones that
created the way a scene looks on film. And one of the most prolific ones
for Hammer was Arthur Grant. He started in the film business at the age of
14 and working his way up to director of photography, or DP as they were called.
His first Hammer film was THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (1957) and worked on many of
their most popular films of the '60s and into the '70s, such as CURSE OF THE
WEREWOLF (1961), PARANOIAC (1963), PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966) and FRANKENSTEIN
MUST BE DESTROYED (1969). His last film was DEMONS OF THE MIND (1972).
The cameraman is one person that very seldom gets the credit
they deserve. Sometimes what we seen on the screen might be more due to
them than the director. Whether it be one of their black and white
classics to their colorful Frankenstein pictures, Grant could make them look
even better. And when you have films like the ones that Hammer was making,
the look of the film is extremely important. And he never seemed to let
Hammer, or their fans down.
Born Sept. 23rd, 1930 - Died Sept. 28th, 2007
If you are a fan of the work of Roger Corman, then you are most likely a
fan of Griffith's work. He's mainly known for his writing, but has done a few
other things in the film industry. He was the guy that Corman would turn to
when he needed a script knocked out fast. And Griffith would always deliver.
Some of the movies that he wrote were IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956), ATTACK OF
THE CRAB MONSTERS, THE UNDEAD, NOT OF THIS EARTH (all 1957), BUCKET OF BLOOD &
BEAST FROM THE HAUNTED CAVE (both 1959), LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960) and many
We had the chance to meet Mr. Griffith and interview him at a Cinema
Wasteland show, back in April of 2007, a few months before he passed away. If
you want to check out our interview, just click
Born Dec. 11th, Died May 10th, 2006
Val Guest started his film career as an
actor, then writer, then director, and never stopped. His filmography is
not massive, especially when it comes to the horror genre, and even when some of
his films are not the greatest ones ever made. But he was partially
responsible for a film that helped a British film studio to get their foot in
the door and become a very successful production company. That company was
Hammer Films, and the movie was THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT (1955).
Based on the very successful teleplay that was written by
Nigel Kneale and was being broadcast on the BBC, Hammer thought it would be a
great piece to make into a movie, which they had been doing so far with some
success. Buying the rights to the series, and hiring Val Guest to direct
the film, started the film studio down a very successful production run that
would go on for over 20 years.
Guest would direct the sequel, QUATERMASS 2 (1957) and THE
ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (1957) for Hammer, as well as a couple of war dramas.
Granted, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970), the sequel to Hammer's very
successful ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. was a total flop. But nonetheless, when
he hit the high mark, it was very memorable. And for that reason, he needs
to be remembered.
Victor & Edward Halperin
Victor: Born Aug. 24th, 1898 - Died May 17th, 1983
Edward: Born May 12th, 1898 - Died March 2nd, 1981
Victor and Edward were a director/producer
team that made several films in the '30s. But these two have the honor of
bringing to the screen the very first zombie film, WHITE ZOMBIE (1932), starring
Bela Lugosi. After the publication of William Seabrook's book, The Magic
Island (1929), about his experiences in Haiti and of the voodoo rituals, it
didn't take long for Hollywood to use this for new ideas. And it was the Halperin brothers that got their first.
They continued to make movies, but none of them would bring
them more notoriety than that of WHITE ZOMBIE. They hired Lugosi for $800
a week, though he worked less than 2 weeks, and the film grossed over $8 million
at the box office. Not a bad deal for a small production team.
So while their output might not have been a lot, they at
least will always be known as the first.
Born March 6th, 1930 - Died Feb. 27th, 1977
Allison Hayes appeared on quite a few television shows and
movies, mainly B-movies, in her short career, but never seemed be able to break
into the big time. But because of the films that she did make, cult horror
fans have always remembered here. With films like Roger Corman's THE
UNDEAD (1957) or THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960), or probably her most famous, ATTACK OF
THE 50-FOOT WOMAN (1958), she has made a definitely impact on the horror genre.
One that will never be forgotten.
Unfortunately, her life was much more dramatic than the
movies she appeared in. The last decade of her life, she was battling
severe health issues, even having to walk with a cane. The pain was so
bad, there were times that she had even thought of taking her own life. It
didn't help that the doctors didn't seem to take her symptoms seriously.
But after some of her own research, she discovered that the calcium supplements
that she had been taken for some time, contained high levels of lead, which was
causing her to suffer from lead poisoning. She was later diagnosed with
leukemia. But before passing away, she had mounted a campaign to have the
FDA ban the import and sale of this supplement that she had been taking, and
eventually won in 1976. There are many reasons to remember Allison Hayes.
So please do.
Born in 1922
Anthony Hinds was one of the men behind Hammer Films.
His father William Hinds, along with Enrique Carreras, started Exclusive Films
Limited, which was a film distribution company. Later, when they decided
to start producing their own films, they created Hammer Film Productions.
When this started Anthony Hinds was in charge of film production. It was
Hinds idea to buy the rights for the TV serial THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT and
make it into a feature film. This huge success was one of first steps to
make Hammer a name to be reckoned with.
Over the years, Hinds would produce most of the more well
known titles form Hammer, such as CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), HORROR OF
DRACULA (1958), BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960), CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961), and many
more. He also wrote many films for them as well, under the name John
He left Hammer in the late '60s and many have said was one of
the reasons for the downfall of the studio in the early '70s.
Movie posters are one of the oldest ways
films were marketed to the public. While now the the internet they don't
seem to be as important, but decades before they were very important. This
was the key to getting people to want to see the movie. Of course,
nowadays it seems that these special types of artwork on moving to DVD covers
and such. But it is still a lost art. But people like Graham
Humphreys is one of the talented men behind some amazing and beautiful poster
art. I'm sure some of his work is very familiar.
As humphreys mentions on this website, he had started
illustrating as soon as he could hold on to a crayon, drawing his versions of
Daleks and skulls. He went to school for his artwork, and eventually
started working on poster art. In the '80s, he worked with Palace
Pictures, and was responsible for some of the best British Quad posters coming
out at that time, such as for both EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2, and Wes Craven's
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. He also worked with Richard Stanley, working as a
storyboard artist for all three of Stanley's first films. If you see some
of these piece of art, I'm sure a lot of them are ones that you've seen before,
or might even have a poster of it in your own collection.
Our reason for putting him in our Horror History spotlight
this week is because a lot of us out there knew his work without knowing the man
behind them. So we want to change that.
To learn more about Humphreys and to see some of his
amazing work, head over to his official website by clicking
Born May 31st, 1914 - Died Feb. 8th, 2006
Anybody who has ever seen a Godzilla movie
in their lifetime, then you have heard the work of Ifukube. He was the
composer who not only created the highly memorable theme for Godzilla, but also
would go on to score most of the Kaiju films in Japan. In the beginning,
he would compose music as a hobby in his spare time, while he studied forestry
at Hokkaido University. Near the end of WWII, he had to study the
elasticity and vibratory strength of wood, appointed to do this by the Japanese
Imperial Army. But because of the shortage of lead at that time, they were
using x-rays without the proper protection, he suffered radiation exposure.
Because of this, he left the forestry job and became a full-time music composer
and teacher. He taught at the Nihon University College of Art from 1946 to
1953. But in 1947, after some encouragement, he got into film and composed
his first film score, SNOW TRAIL, for Toho Studios. A few years later,
when director Ishirô Honda created his giant monster movie, not only did Ifukube
score the film, but he was also responsible for creating Godzilla's famous roar.
He did this by "rubbing a contrabass with a resin-coated leather glove, and then
reverberated the sound that was produced."
Born June 13th, 1929 - Died Sept. 19th, 2009
If you've watched any Spanish horror films
of the '70s, then I'm pretty sure you've seen Victor Israel before. This
guy is like the Spanish version of England's Michael Ripper. Making well
over 150 films, he usually was cast as little bit parts, but was always so
recognizable, that it would always make you think "hey...I've seen that guy
before". He played in several different genres, like appearing alongside
Lee Van Cleef in Sergio Leone's THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966). Of
course, for us, it was the countless horror movies that he appeared in that had
us remembering that face of his. With his pudgy appearance, balding and
strange eyes, he was always easy to spot. It is actors like this, that
never make it as a top-billing star, but are the ones that fill out the colorful
pallet of the movie, making it so much more interesting to watch. I know
that is definitely the case for me when it comes to horror films.
Some of his most noteworthy appearances were in films like
THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED (1969), or GRAVEYARD OF HORROR (1971), Paul Naschy's
NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975), and of course as the baggage clerk in HORROR
EXPRESS (1972). He even appeared in Bruno Mattei's HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD
Born Dec. 29th, 1907 - Died Oct. 20th, 1990
Jackson was one of those actresses that
didn't appear in too many genre pictures, but the ones that she did, she always
left a strong impression. She started her life as a school teacher, but
gave that up to study acting. Her first professional stage appearance was
in 1934, and would appear in over 60 major stage roles in her career. All
the while appearing in 26 films, and several British TV series. One of the
most notable films she was in was in Laurence Olivier's Oscar winning 1944 film
But for genre fans, she was in THE SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961),
along side Boris Karloff in DIE MONSTER DIE! (1965), THE VALLEY OF GWANGI
(1969), and her last role in the original CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981), as the
But of course, if you're a Hammer fan, then you will always
remember her from her role in THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960), as the Count's
caretaker. Her cackling laugh as one of the brides claws her way out of
her grave is not only memorable, but one hell of a performance.
Born Oct. 10th, 1926 - Died June 14th, 1997
Jaeckel is one of those actors that you've
seem to have seen in tons of stuff. Mainly because he has appeared in a
lot of both movies and television. And he has "one of those faces" as they
say, that seems very familiar. He played in a lot of westerns and military
movies, such as THE DIRTY DOZEN. So when you do see him on the screen, it
is usually followed by "Hey...it's THAT guy!"
For us horror fans, Jaeckel has appeared in more than a few
classics, such as the bad smelling character in William Girdler's GRIZZLY (1976)
that is trying to convince people just what they are up against. He also
appeared in MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (1976), another Girdler killer animal film
DAY OF THE ANIMALS (1977), and THE DARK (1979).
But for me, the best film he appeared in...or my favorite
film of is, was actually his first real foray in to the horror genre. And
that was with the 1968 Japanese film THE GREEN SLIME. Sure, it's cheesy.
But damn is it entertaining.
So the next time you're watching some movie or older TV show
and you see Jaeckel's face pop up...now you'll remember just who that familiar
Not a lot is known about this credited
cameraman, beside for us demented horror fans that might know him from his work
with Pete Walker. His first film with Walker was the 1970 film THE DIRTIEST GIRL
I EVER MET (aka COOL IT CAROL!) He would work on all of Walker's
exploitation/horror films like HOUSE OF WHIPCORD and FRIGHTMARE (both 1974)
through THE COMEBACK (1978). His last film with Walker was HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT
(1979). After that, other than working on THE MONSTER CLUB (1981), he primarily
worked on television series, like Agatha Christie's Poirot and Jeeves
and Wooster. He was nominated for two differnt BAFTA Awards, in 1984 for
Best Film Cameraman for the series Reilly: Ace of Spies and in 1992 for
Best Film or Video Photography (Fiction) for the series G.B.H.
But his contributions to Walker's film really help set the
dark tone and look of those films. He took credit and pride on those, just like
any other work that he would have been hired to do.
Born Sept. 1st, 1907 - Died Oct. 23rd, 2002
Juron's first career was that of an
architect before he got into the film business as an art director. This
career choice won him an Oscar for HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) and another
nomination for THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1946), working on several other films before he
made his move into the director's chair. His directorial debut was for
BLACK CASTLE (1952), staring Boris Karloff. He would go on to direct some
great films in the sci-fi horror genre in the '50s, such as THE DEADLY MANTIS
(1957), 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), and THE 7TH VOYAGE OF A SINBAD (1958).
Of course, there were some films that didn't get the praise that one would hope,
like THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957) and ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958).
But then again, genre fans still love this films to this day and keep them
alive. So who is to say it is a good or a bad film?
After working in film, he moved to television and worked on
several series, like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel, Lost in
Space, Land of the Giants, and a few more.
While Juron thought of filmmaking in the sense of a business
as oppose to having a passion for it, when looking at some of the great films
that he help create, it didn't matter what the reasoning behind why he was
making them. We will just be forever grateful for the work that he did
Born April 3rd, 1926 - Died Oct. 5th, 1997
Andrew Keir took on difficult task of
portraying Professor Quatermass in Hammer's 3rd film in their series, QUATERMASS
AND THE PIT, this time in color. In the previous two films, the role had
been played by Brian Donlevy. But here, Keir gave the character a lot more
heart, but still held onto his firm beliefs and had no problem letting his
adversaries know what he was thinking. Also for Hammer, he appeared in
DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB, as well as a couple of
their pirate movies. He even appeared along Peter Cushing in his take on
the famous Dr. Who character (though very different from the series).
No matter what role Keir was in, he was always memorable, not
to mention great character actor. He appeared in many other films, with
only just a few in the horror genre. Playing Prof. Quatermass was one of
his favorite roles.
Born: June 9th, 1920 Died: Oct. 14th, 2004
If you are a fan of the films of Pete Walker, then you
probably know who Sheila Keith is. Since you couldn't see a film of his
that she starred in and not remember her. Keith was this wonderful older
lady who seemed to excel in playing twisted and demented characters. In
Walker's FRIGHTMARE, she plays a cannibalistic matriarch, with such zest
and conviction, she is one of the scariest women you'd ever want to come across.
She also was in Walker's HOUSE OF WHIPCORD, THE CONFESSIONAL (aka HOUSE OF
MORTAL SIN), THE COMEBACK, and HOUSE OF LONG SHADOWS.
Keith's performance is so strong and powerful, it's amazing
to me that she did not get tons of other movie roles. I'm sure it might
have something to do with the fact that Walker's films were not thought too
highly of. Damn shame really.
Born Aug. 1st, 1896 - Died Jan. 28th, 1980
While Kenton didn't make but 4 horror
movies in his career, the ones he did do are pretty important. He started
as an actor, but took any job in the industry to learn as much as he could.
Then in 1919, he got to direct his first picture. In his career, he
directed 131 films, sometimes making over 10 pictures a year. In 1924, he
directed a total of 15 films. Pretty funny when you compare it to today's
working directors and how often they turn out films.
Kenton was mainly known for directing comedies, even doing a
couple for Abbott & Costello. But his first entry in the horror genre,
which is probably his best, is the classic ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (though author
H.G. Wells would probably argue that point). Kind of strange that a man
known for comedies could turn out a dark film like this one. Sure, some
say that Laughton's over-acting makes it a dark comedy, though I've always found
this film pretty disturbing and quite efffective.
His remaining efforts might not be as good, but are not only
entertaining, but staples in the genre. With THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN
(1942), HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944), and HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945), he helped
continue the Universal monster series with some entertaining films. Sure,
they weren't the same classics that James Whale had turned out, but us monster
kids just ate them up. And even today, as dated as they might be, I still
find them pretty entertaining, as do many other classic monster fans.
Born Nov. 13th, 1911 - Died Mar. 19th, 1985
Keys came from a family in the film
industry, so it was simply what he would follow tradition. Starting like
most at the bottom working as a clapper boy, working his way up into Assistant
director and then production manager right before WWII. After the war, he
worked for Sydney Box at Gainsborough as a production manager. It was
there that he would later met up with some other future Hammer workers, such as
Jack Asher (camera operator) and James Need (editor). Then he worked for
Pinnacle Films for a bit, meeting future Hammer production designer Bernard
Robinson. So when he was asked to join Hammer in 1956, he would eventually
bring these talented people over to help make Hammer films even better.
Keys started as a production manager on QUATERMASS 2, before
moving into the role of associate producer, working on quite a few of their
classic films, like CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HORROR OF DRACULA. He became
producer on their swashbuckling adventure film PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER and
remained in that role the rest of his career with Hammer, which ended with
FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, which he was also credited with the story.
The only other film he produced was NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT, which was for a
production company that he formed with Christopher Lee, called Charlemagne
No matter what he was doing behind the scenes, he was
definitely one of the men responsible for making Hammer films as entertaining as
they are. And for that alone, he should be remembered.
Born Oct. 16th, 1906 - Died Apr. 8th, 1996
Fans of Spanish horror films might know
this director's name. If not, then you've definitely seen the movies that
he directed. Working several times with Paul Naschy, Klimovsky always
delivered entertaining movies, with plenty of monster action. With Naschy,
he directed two of his Daninsky films, THE WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1971)
and DR. JEKYLL VS THE WOLFMAN (1972), as well as some other Naschy titles like
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973), DEVIL'S POSSESSED (1974), A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH
CORPSE (1974), THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1976).
Starting out as a dentist, Klimovsky's passion for the cinema
was just too much and made his way into the business. From starting out
with short films, moving into features, he made spaghetti westerns before moving
to Spain and making quite a few memorable horror films. Just check out his
filmography and if there are a few you've missed, then make sure you add them to
your To-Watch list.
April 18th, 1922 Died: Oct. 29th, 2006
While some may consider his work to be more in the science
fiction genre, Kneale's stories always had creepy and scary elements to them,
even if the story was about aliens or rocket ships. Kneale really came to
the forefront when his character of Professor Quatermass hit the radio airways
back in the mid 50's. While some of this tales would go on to be turned
into movies, with quite a few of them being done by Hammer Films, he was more
known for the TV films that he wrote. Titles such as THE STONE TAPE or THE
WOMAN IN BLACK, were scary when the first came out, and continue to scary new
Born May 4th, 1908 - Died Nov. 22nd, 1992
Phil Leakey was the man responsible for
the look of Hammer's Dracula and Frankenstein. Much like Jack Pierce did
for Universal decades before, Leakey help create two of the monsters that would
help put Hammer on the map. In fact, he had already started doing that
with THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT two years earlier. Basically just stumbling
into the makeup profession, he learned as much as he could from whoever would
teach him. And the stuff he would create for Hammer was just amazing,
especially at what he had to work with. With very little time and even
less money, Leakey always created something special.
So the next time you're watching one of the early Hammer
Films, and see an great looking makeup effect, chances are, it probably came
from the mind and talent of Phil Leakey.
Born: July 14th, 1932
If you are familiar with Spanish horror films, then you've
probably at least seen Helga Liné. And while you may not know her name,
her face is hard to forget. Born in Germany, but she worked in the circus
in Portugal, as a dancer and acrobat. She moved to Spain in 1960 and
quickly started her career in films, working on such films as Paul Naschy's
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB and MUMMY'S REVENGE, Amando de Ossoria's LORELEY'S
GRASP, Leon Klimovsky's VAMPIRE'S NIGHT ORGY and DRACULA SAGA, and José Ramón Larraz's
BLACK CANDLES, and Eugenio Martin's
No matter what film she was in, whether the film is
forgettable or not, it's hard to forget her.
Born Mar. 31st, 1909 - Died Nov. 16th, 1976
If you are a fan of cheap sci-fi/horror
films of the '50s and '60s, then you'll probably are familiar with the name of
Robert L. Lippert. He is the man was named the "Quickie King" by Time Magazine
due to his ability to crank out movies cheap and fast. Sure, they might not have
been top-notch films, but they were usually entertaining. He was also the one
that started to bring THE FLY to the screen, before it was pretty much taken
over by the studio and kicked him to the curb. But he still brought us fun
titles like ROCKETSHIP X-M (1950) as well as WITCHCRAFT (1964), THE LAST MAN ON
EARTH (1964), THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964), and CURSE OF THE FLY (1965).
Lippert had started in the film business working in a
theater, starting his way at the bottom and moving his way up. He eventually
owned a chain of theaters in California and Oregon. In the late '40s, he figured
out the easiest way to get movies to show in his theaters were to make them
himself. He was also reported to be the man responsible for bringing popcorn
machines into the theaters!
Born Sept. 11th, 1917 - Died Sept. 27thh, 2012
Even though Herbert Lom only made a few
horror films, it is because of his look and his voice (as well as his acting
ability) that he is a very memorable actor. Whether we remember him as the
Phantom of the Paris Opera in Hammer's version of this classic, as Van Helsing
doing battle against Christopher Lee's Count in Jess Franco's COUNT DRACULA
(1970), or the work he did with Amicus like ASYLUM (1972) and AND NOW THE
SCREAMING STARTS (1973), or even Michele Soavi's THE SECT (1991), Lom is always
easy to remember. From the deep and ever-present voice, to his evil
looking scowl, he gets our attention.
And of course, as the Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink
Panther movies also showed us another side to this very talented actor.
Born Mar. 31st, 1922 - Died Aug. 14th, 1982
Patrick Magee was one of those characters
that was hard to forget. With his beady eyes and that strange voice, you
always remembered him. Like a few actors who seemed to get typecast in
horror roles, Magee didn't mind it at all. Not only did it keep him
working, but it also let him afford to do his true love which was work on the
stage. But for us horror fans, we've always enjoyed his little roles in a
wide variety of films that he has appeared in over the years. And he has
worked with numerous directors, from Roger Corman to Lucio Fulci to even Stanley
If you want to check out Magee's work, here are a few of the
films that we've always enjoyed that he appears in: DEMENTIA 13 (1963),
SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (1964), THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964), THE SKULL
(1965), DIE MONSTER DIE (1965), A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971), TALES FROM THE CRYPT
(1972), ASYLUM (1972), DEMONS OF THE MIND (1972), and more. Do yourself a
favor and look more into this man's work.
Born July 31st, 1931 - Died May 21st, 2007
Anybody who is a fan of cheesy Italian
exploitation fans has probably seen the work of Bruno Mattei. Often called
the Ed Wood of Italian exploitation, I'm not sure that really is a fair
statement. Sure, Mattei always had little money, loved to use stock
footage in his films, even when it didn't fit, and worked in just about every
film genre out there, but he cranked them out and usually turned a profit.
He is also known forhaving more alternate names and alias than any other
director, with Vincent Dawn being the most common.
He took over the directing chair for ZOMBIE 3 (1988) when
Lucio Fulci left for whatever reason. And you can tell. He made
plenty of zombie films, his most famous is probably the 1980 film HELL OF THE
LIVING DEAD (aka NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIE or VIRUS). But he also did plenty of
action films like ROBOWAR (1980) and STRIKE COMMANDO 2 (1988), which are almost
unbearable to get through without busting out laughing throughout the film.
Sure, his films are not well made. But if you're
looking for some fun and cheesy entertainment, you really can't go wrong with
Mattei. Get a bunch of like minded film fans together, get a couple of
Mattei's movies and behold the wonder of his talent.
Born Feb. 3rd, 1947
McHattie is definitely one of those "its
THAT guy" actors. He has been in a ton of things, from movies to TV series, and
always gives an incredible performance, even in the smallest roles. Strange
thing is that I really first became of McHattie after seeing him in PONTYPOOL,
which I thought was excellent. But then I was amazed to see his face pop up all
over the place, in an older series I'd be watching. Whatever roles he's playing,
which tend to be on the darker side, he can be just downright bone chilling
creepy. He's been in films like DEATH WEEKEND (1982), THE DARK (1993), to the
more recent HAUNTER (2013). He's been in a ton of Sci-Fi/Horror TV series, from
STAR TREK, to X-FILES, to HAVEN, and even the more recent THE STRAIN.
The funny thing is one his earliest roles was that of the
title character of the rarely seen (for a reason) made-for-TV movie from 1976
called LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY. Yeah...not only did they make a
sequel, but McHattie plays the Woodhouse child all grown up. Sure, might
not be a great movie, but it is worth seeking out just because of the rarity and
to see a very young McHattie.
Born: Dec. 8, 1861 Died: Jan. 21, 1938
We thought that Méliès would be a good person to start with,
since he really was the one responsible for the birth of the fantastic cinema.
While he didn't invent the cinema or movies, he was one of the first to witness
its display and realized the future of it. Coming from a background of
stage magic, and also by accident, he discovered this new invention can be used
to thrill audiences.
He realized by stopping the camera, he could create magic
tricks with ease. A woman could disappear into thin air, just by stopping
the camera and having her walk off the set, and then start the camera again.
He also experimented with double exposure and other camera tricks. His
most famous film was A Trip to the Moon, made in 1902, which features the
shot of a rocket sticking out of the moon's face. But for horror fans, his
film LE MANOIR DU DIABLE (aka THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) was released
in 1896. And while it was only two minutes long, it is considered by many
to be the very first horror film.
Born Nov. 4th, 1918 - Died July 6th, 1994
Mitchell is a face that most fans will
recognize, especially if you're either an older fan or at least have watched a
lot of movies. Mitchell made a career usually playing the villain, bad
guy, heavy, or whatever you want to call it. Sure...it might be because he
got typecast, or maybe just because he was really good at it. He worked
all over the world, in just about every film genre out there. He made tons
of westerns, sword & sandal films, and of course his share of horror titles.
He starred in what some call the very first giallo, Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK
LACE. And of course, let's not forget some other fun titles like THE
TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978) or ISLAND OF THE DOOMED (1967). Mitchell had said
he enjoyed doing low budget films because it gave him a chance to experiment
with his acting. A real talented guy.
No matter what kind of movie he appeared in, we have always
enjoyed his performance. Even when he is chewing the scenery, he's a real
joy to watch.
Born Aug. 20th, 1909 - Died Nov. 28th, 1978
André Morell is a British
actor that made his name in the horror genre thanks for Hammer Films.
Appearing in such titles like THE SHADOW OF THE CAT (1961), SHE (1965), THE
MUMMY'S SHROUD (1967), and of course, he role as Sir James in PLAGUE OF THE
ZOMBIES (1966), made him a very familiar face to Hammer horror fans. Of
course, he played in other classics like playing Dr. Watson to Peter Cushing's
Sherlock Holmes, he co-starred with Cushing before as O'Brien in the live
BBC broadcast of George Orwell's 1984 (1954), and many other great roles.
Years before Hammer would make their film version, Morell played the famous Dr.
Bernard Quatermass in the BBC broadcast of Nigel Kneale's QUATERMASS AND THE PIT
Morell was always there to give a memorable characterization
as the typical prim and proper British man. Always the gentleman, whether
in the hero role or as the villain, as always a joy to watch him perform.
Born Jan. 21st, 1896 - Died Jan. 24th, 1973
Naish worked quite a bit in his career in
a quite a few different genres, but did pop in some horror titles every now and
then. Naish's expertise seemed to be playing characters from different
countries, always seeming to really be from that country. But in the '40s
in when he started to appear in a some horror titles, like CALLING DR. DEATH
(1943) and THE MONSTER MAKER (1944). But in 1944, he appeared along
side Boris Karloff in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN as his hunchback assistant.
Two years later, he appeared along side Peter Lorre in a very effective and
chilling THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946) as an inspector looking into a
His last film, the much lamented DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN,
where he plays a descendent of the original Dr. Frankenstein, sets out to
create another monster, with the help of Dracula himself. This was
released in 1971, would be his last screen appearance. As much as we might
enjoy this film for difference reasons, it was a real shame that this once very
talented actor went out in this picture being his last.
Born June 19th, 1939
Though she played in a lot of spaghetti
westerns and spy thrillers, not to mention a lot of sex exploitation movies,
Rosalba Neri, sometimes known as Sara Bay, was one name that I always enjoyed
seeing on the screen. Neri was one of those actresses that was not only
beautiful on screen, but was talented enough to be more than just a pretty face
and body. She appeared in a handful of horror films, some of them are very
memorible. Titles like SLAUGHTER HOTEL (1971), where she appeared with Klaus
Kinski, THE DEVIL'S LOVER (1972), AMUCK (1972), where she appeared as Farley
Granger's wife, THE FRENCH SEX MURDERS (1972), and THE DEVIL'S WEDDING NIGHT
But probably her best known role was that of Tania Frankenstein in Mel Welles
1971 film LADY FRANKENSTEIN, where according to the poster tag line, "only the
monster she made could satisfy her strange desires!" Doesn't get much
better than that. While that one might not be the best Frankenstein film
ever made, it is highly enjoyable to watch, and Neri is one of the reason for
Born Dec. 6th, 1899 - Died Nov. 10th, 1964
The big difference between the people making movies back in
the early days of cinema and today's standards is the output. Even in the
'70s and '80s, it might be a year or two between a director's films.
Nowadays, it could be years before we see a new one. But back in the '30s
and such, there were guys cranking out film after film after film. And
nobody was more proficient in this than Sam Newfield. There were
some years that he reported directed 15 to 20 pictures! That is more than
1 a month! Sure, these were low budget films and time really was money
back then, so they didn't the luxury of multiple or even second takes, or
reshoots if someone make a mistake. It was action...cut...print. And
then on to the next one. There were some titles that were supposedly had a
shoot scheduler of only 3 days!
Newfield started his career at the bottom of the business,
first as a runner, then set assistant, actor, but always moving up the later
until he got to direct. His first film was a silent film made in 1923, but
would work in just about every genre, making a ton of westerns and comedies.
But in that time, he also made a few horror titles. Such as THE MAD
MONSTER (1942), DEAD MEN WALK (1943), THE MONSTER MAKER (1944) and THE FLYING
So while the quality of Newfiled's films may not be top
notch, he was still making those movies quick and fast, never letting anything
get in his way to get the film finished in time. And for that, if
anything, we have to give him credit for.
Born September 14th, 1916 - Died December 10th, 1972
After starting in the movie business by
first running a couple of movie theaters, Nicholson soon was working for Realart
Pictures in their advertising department, coming up with new ad campaigns for
old movies that they were re-releasing, sometimes with new titles. He
eventually met up with lawyer Samuel Z. Arkoff and became good friends, and
eventually partners. They first created their film distribution company
called American Releasing Corporation. But once they changed it to
American International Pictures, and started producing and releasing their own
films, there was no stopping them. Nicholson was the creative part of the
team, coming up with movie titles and complete ad campaigns, would pre-sell the
movie, and then would have the script written and film made, all within a very
short time. With the help of talented directors like Roger Corman, AIP
really made a name for themselves.
Nicholson left the company and started his own production
company, Academy Pictures Corporation, and produced a few films before dying
suddenly of a brain tumor.
Born Jan. 12th, 1907 - Died Feb. 9th, 1986
Anybody who has dabbled in doing makeup
effects, has heard the name Ben Nye. Nye Sr. started working in the makeup field in 1935 through an apprenticeship program. Slowly learning the
tricks of the trade, which was difficult work if you wanted to actually learn
the trade. Starting out on the 'B' pictures, he slowly made his way to the
'A' films and worked on films such as GONE WITH THE WIND. In 1957, he was
given the job of creating his first movie monster for the film THE FLY.
But what he came up with very memorable, obviously since the look of the
creature is one of the reasons for its popularity 50+ years later. He
also worked on the original PLANET OF THE APES, along with John Chambers.
He created his own line of makeup that is still running
to this day, being run by his grandson.
Born March 2nd, 1886 - Died Nov. 8th, 1962
When thinking of stop motion animation in
movies, most fans usually think of Ray Harryhausen. But Willis O'Brien was
one of the people that taught Harryhausen his craft. Starting as a
cartoonist, he later made the move to movies when he was hired by the Edison
company to make some short films that had a prehistoric theme, featuring
dinosaurs. This is one thing that O'Brien seemed to excel at, which would
later lead to him working on the two famous early classics THE LOST WORLD (1925)
and of course, KING KONG (1933).
He would work on other films such as THE SON OF KONG (1933),
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), THE BLACK SCORPION (1957), THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959),
and the remake of THE LOST WORLD (1960).
He was awarded an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1950 by
the Academy Awards. While he might not have made as many films that made the
impact that KING KONG did, what he did work on still lives on today and still
makes an impact on the viewers that watch it.
Born Aug. 10th, 1939
Kate O'Mara started her stage career in 1963 in a production
of The Merchant of Venice. She appeared in many television series
in the UK over the years, and even had a substantial role here in the states on
the show Dynasty, playing Joan Collins sister. Though, sci-fi fans
will remember her for her appearances on a few episodes of Doctor Who series, as
the evil Time Lord Rani who wants nothing more than to continue her experiments,
even at the cost of other creatures lives, human or otherwise. Sounds a
little a certain Dr. Frankenstein that we know, if you ask me.
She is an accomplished author who written four books, two of
them fiction and the other two autobiographies.
But us fans will remember her from the two horror films that
she made with Hammer Studios, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, where she co-starred along
with Ingrid Pitt and THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN, where she played Ralph Bates
servant girl....who did more than just serve him food. It is hard to
forget those amazing eyes. It is a shame that we only got to see her in a
couple of films in the horror genre.
Here's another name that you might not familiar with the
name, but you know is work. Alan Ormsby first started his film career with
a low budget film called CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS, which has
become a cult classic. Ormsby wrote the film, acted in it, and also was in
charge of the makeup effects. Which, if you've seen the movie, and realize
the budget they had, the effects are outstanding.
But then he also went on to write some other incredible films
like DEATHDREAM and DERANGED, both of which he also contributed the makeup
effects and the latter he co-directed. He also did the makeup work on the
Nazi zombie movie SHOCK WAVES, which was the last film he did makeup for.
He spent most of his time writing, like for Paul Schrader's remake of CAT
So while the number of genre films he's been involved with
is limited, especially as of late. Ormsby's talent has kept these low
budget films alive many years later.
Born April 6th, 1918 - Died Jan. 13th, 2001
I know serious horror fans know this man's
name, and even the ones that don't at least know some of his movies. de
Ossorio started his career making short films and industrial documentaries, but
it wasn't long before he was making feature films, which he started in 1956.
But in 1969, de Ossorio gave us his first forte in the horror genre, with FANGS
OF THE LIVING DEAD (also known under about a dozen other titles). But his
next film is the one that he will be remembered for. He took something
from history, using the Knights Templar and the shrouded history of them, or at
least some of them, with reports of devil worshipping and sacrifices, and used
this theme to created one of the most memorable characters from Spanish cinema:
The Blind Dead. The first of four films, LA NOCHE DEL TERROR CIEGO
(typically known as TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, but also a bunch of other titles),
came out in 1971 and was followed by three other Blind Dead films over the
years. Each one features the eyeless zombified Knights seeking out new
victims. Each film is filled with slow and brooding atmosphere.
Granted, they might not be the most fast paced films, they are a huge chapter in
the Spanish horror history.
de Ossorio would also direct other horror titles in his
career, usually between the Blind Dead movies. Titles such as LORELEI'S
GRASP, NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS, and DEVIL WITH CHILD, but never had the success
he did with the Templars. His last film, THE SEA SERPENT, was a disaster
and he retired shortly thereafter. He moved into painting, doing several
Blind Dead portraits that he would sell to his fans.
Regardless of how good these films are, he should be
remembered for not only creating an original and fascinating new type of
monster, but he did it with style.
Born Jan. 16th, Died April 16th, 2010
Pataki is one of those actors that you
have seen a million times, sometimes not even realizing who it is, but you have
seen him. The man had worked on TV and in movies for over 50 years,
usually playing the villain, which he did so well.
For the horror genre, he appeared in such films as THE
RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971), THE BABY (1973), GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE (1974), THE
BAT PEOPLE (1974), DRACULA'S DOG (1978), GRADUATION DAY (1981), DEAD & BURIED
(1981), and many more. He even tried his hand at directing a few times,
his first being MANSION OF THE DAMNED (1976), starring a young Lance
So next time you're watching a low budget horror film from the
'70s, don't be surprised if you see Pataki's face in there somewhere. But
no matter where you see him, he will be giving a performance that is always good
and always memorable.
Trying to find any information on this
actor from the Philippines is damn difficult. But since his face was a
staple of movies in the '60s and '70s that were filmed there, we wanted to bring
attention to who this guy was. If you've seen any of the famous Blood
Island trilogy, BRIDES OF BLOOD (1968), MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1968),
& BEAST OF BLOOD (1971), then you have seen Punzalan. He is usually cast
as a bad guy, usually a thug of whoever is in charge. He had a very
distinct face that always made him easy to pick out in the casts. He
worked many times with Eddie Romero, as well as with actors Sid Haig and Vic
Diaz (another staple of Pilipino movies).
While not much is known about this actor, we feel that
because of his contributions to the horror genre, we think that people should at
least know who he is. So when they see that same face again, they can say
"Hey...that's Bruno Punzalan!", impressing everyone around them. Not to
mention, keeping this actor's memory alive.
He also appeared with Ingrid Pitt in THE OMEGANS (1968), as
well as BLOOD THIRST (1971), BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA (1973), and SAVAGE SISTERS
Born Nov. 3rd, 1925 - Died Feb. 20th, 2009
Robert Quarry would have been a horror
star, had he been given the chance, or if gothic horror pictures had lasted a
little longer in the '70s. AIP was grooming him to be the next Vincent
Price, but when their horror films just weren't making any more money, they
stopped making them. Unfortunately, Quarry was under contract with them
still, making it harder for him to get any work.
But us horror fans will always remember for the few roles
that he did appear in, especially that of Count Yorga in COUNT YORGA
VAMPIRE and its sequel, THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA. But he also had roles
in MADHOUSE, DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN, and the southern zombie film SUGAR HILL.
He always had a great screen presents and is a real shame that he wasn't allowed
to show us more of his great talent.
Born Feb. 8th, 1937
If you've heard of Bill Rebane, it is
probably due to his movie THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION. But that is a good
start. Rebane made quite a few lower budgeted films, all made in
Wisconsin, usually has his Shooting Ranch studio, a full fledge film production
studio that not only made several feature films, but tons of commercials,
industrial films, and much more. Rebane arrived in the US in 1952 at the
age of 15, coming from Estonia. While he speaks 5 languages, he learned to
master the English language by watching American movies, which helped fuel his
love for the cinema. He started his media career at WGN-TV in Chicago,
working his way up from the mailroom to eventually executive producer.
In the late '60s, he started his film range in Wisconsin
which would be the first full-time feature film studio in the Midwest, which ran
for over 30 years. During those years, he made such films as RANA: THE
LEGEND OF SHADOW LAKE (1975), THE ALPHA INCIDENT (1978), THE CAPTURE OF BIGFOOT
(1979), and THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW (1983).
In 2003, Rebane even tried to run for Governor for the state.
He didn't win.
While his films might not be the
best made films, they are usually entertaining, even if in a MST3K sort of way.
And he made the most entertaining giant spider movie ever made! So for
that fact alone, everyone should know and remember who Bill Rebane is.
Jan. 27th, 1913 Died: June 28th, 2000
You couldn't watch too many Hammer Films and not start to
recognize this face. Michael Ripper has been in more Hammer films than any
other actor, with more than 25 under his belt. Never really a leading
role, but he was always there as a bartender, the constable, or even the local
drunk, but he was always memorable. Watching a Hammer film could even get
to be like playing "Where's Waldo?", except it was "Where's Michael?"
But this isn't to say that Ripper wasn't a talented actor.
Or even just playing in Hammer films. But no matter who he was working
for, even with the smallest of roles, he was always giving a great performance.
For some of the films where he has more of a substantial role, check out
Hammer's NIGHT CREATURES and THE MUMMY'S SHROUD.
Born: 1912 Died: Mar. 2nd, 1970
If you are a fan of the work of Hammer Studios, then you know
the work of Bernard Robinson. Robinson started with Hammer on the film QUATERMASS 2 as the Art Director, and later became the Production Designer
for most of their films. He was the guy responsible for creating those
amazing sets used in CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HORROR OF DRACULA, NIGHT CREATURES,
PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, and many, many other films. And in addition to that,
he was the guy that was re-dressing these same sets, or having them built in a
way where they can be easily re-used on the next film. And all of this
with very little money or time.
So the next time you're watching one of the Hammer films,
take a moment to notice the set, the props, and everything that you seen in the
film besides the actors. That is the work of Bernard Robinson.
We search the internet and our Hammer library to find a photo
of Robinson, but just couldn't find one. But then we realized it would be
better to show his incredible work instead. That still is from HORROR OF
DRACULA. Thanks to David L. Rattigan and his wonderful site
Dictionary of Hammer Horror for the photo.
Born March 20th, 1929
Robles has the distinct honor of being the
very first cinematic vampire that actually had fangs! But he also became this at
the last minute. Back in the '50s, producer Abel Salazar was all set to start
his few new film THE VAMPIRE (El Vampiro), with another actor cast as the
bloodsucker. Then changed his mind coming to the conclusions that movie monsters
work better when they are played by an unknown. So he went to see a play and
found Robles and hired him for the role on the spot. Robles would go on to play
Count Duval in the sequel THE VAMPIRE'S COFFIN (El
ataúd del Vampiro).
While he would appear in a few other Mexican horror films,
like the cult classic BRAINIAC and the NOSTRADAMUS series, but continued to work
in film and on the stage. But it is because of his performance in these early
Mexican horror films, that had such amazing atmosphere and style back then, that
he needs to be remembered. While we all know Lugosi and Lee, Robles' name should
be up there as well, since he gives us a splendid performance as the count. Luck
for us, these movies are both available on DVD, so do yourself a favor and seek
Born Dec. 4th, 1913 - Died June 20th, 1978
Robson started his career in the film
industry at 20th Century Fox in the prop department. The rumor goes that
his career there was ended when he asked studio head Darryl Zanuck for a
promotion, which got him fired. He then moved to RKO Pictures and was
trained how to be an editor, becoming an assistant to Robert Wise on editing
Orson Wells' CITIZEN KANE. He was later assigned to work as the editor on
the B-horror films of Val Lewton, where he did that for two years, working on
films like CAT PEOPLE, JOURNEY INTO FEAR, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, and THE
After the success of those films, RKO was going to move
Lewton up to the A-picture budgets, but only if he uses their choice of
directors on his next picture, THE SEVENTH VICTIM. But Lewton had already
decided that he wanted to give Robson a shot at directing. And because
Lewton stood behind his people, he sacrificed his chance to increase his budgets
and gave Robson that chance. Robson would go on to direct 4 films for
Lewton, THE GHOST SHIP, ISLE OF THE DEAD, and BEDLAM, all after THE SEVENTH
A short time after that, RKO didn't pick up Robson's contract
and he was out of work for two years. Then an independent producer hired
him to direct the boxing movie CHAMPION, which got its start, Kirk
Douglas, an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. After that film, he was
sought after for bigger budgeted films. In his career, Robson directed 7
different actors in Oscar nominated performances, such as Susan Hayword and Russ
Robson was credited or at least co-credited with creating the
famous "Lewton Bus" technique in the film CAT PEOPLE, which is still referred to
today in the industry.
Born July 7th, 1924
Are you familiar with Blood Island? Films like BEAST OF
BLOOD or MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND? Then you've seen the work of Filipino
director Eddie Romero. Romero started as a journalist at the age of 12,
where his writings brought him to the attention of filmmaker Gerardo de Leon.
Shortly thereafter, he was writing screenplays. He directed his first
film in 1947. But it wasn't until he started making horror films that his
cult status became cemented. Making several pictures with John
Ashley, Romero's films were always creative and wildly entertaining. Other
such great titles that he directed are THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE and BEAST OF THE
YELLOW NIGHT. A good chunk of his horror films are available on DVD, so
you have no excuse not to check out his work.
Born Dec. 24th, 1916 - Died Nov. 13th, 2004
There are a few Italian composers whose
names are pretty common amongst horror fans, such as Ennio Morricone for one.
But there were quite a few talented people that were helping to create the mood
and atmosphere of these gothic pictures with their music. And Carlo
Rustichelli was one of them. Depending on your source, he scored anywhere
from 250 to 400 movies! Even at the low side, that is a pretty impressive
Of the work of his that we know, it is his scores for the
gothic horror films that we enjoy the most, a favorite being for THE LONG HAIR
OF DEATH, starring Barbara Steele. But he also scored 3 of our favorite
films of Mario Bava: THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963), BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964),
and KILL BABY KILL (1966).
As horror fans, and film fans as well, we have to make sure
we pay attention to the music to these films, since they can make quite a
difference in our viewing experience. So next time you're watching a
movie, old or new, make sure you're paying attention to what you're hearing and
well as what you're seeing.
Better known as MAC, this Spanish artist
worked for a time in advertising before getting in to making posters for films.
His first big break was when he was hired to created the 3-sheet poster for
Charlton Heston's THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, which was an huge success. In
fact, Heston was so impressed with this artist's work, he made sure that he had
the opportunity to meet him when he was in Spain filming EL CID. MAC gave
him a portrait he created of the star as Moses, which Heston reported had
hanging in his office for many years.
Signing his work with just the simple MAC, he worked in all
genres, from big budgeted films to the smaller ones. Going through the ones he
did for horror films and you'll see plenty of them that you've probably seen
over the years. Some of the artwork is just staggering, seeing the talent
this man had. With dead-on likenesses, beautifully arranged montages of
scenes from the movies, he truly created some incredible pieces of art.
Now you know who the talented man that created them.
These artists, that help drawn in thousands of people to see
these movies, are so underrated and almost forgotten. These people's names
should be just as well known as the people who were in them. We need to
keep their names alive, as well as their work.
To see some of his work, head over to this blog
is in Spanish, but you'll still be able to see his work. And
careful....your jaw will probably hit the floor.
Born: Sept. 24th, 1917 Died: Oct. 21st, 1995
Salazar was the Mexican equivalent to say someone like Peter
Cushing or Vincent Price. He starred in several Mexican horror films in
the late 50's and early 60's. Titles such asCURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN, THE
VAMPIRE and its sequel THE VAMPIRE'S COFFIN.
And of course, one of the most famous of the Mexican horror films, THE BRAINIAC, where Salazar starred as the title creature.
But besides starring in these films, Salazar also produced
them. He seen the kind of money that these films can bring in and did just
Sure, some may consider these films a little silly,
especially The Brainiac, but most of them are filled with creepy
atmosphere that is well worth the look.
Hans J. Salter
Born Jan. 14th, 1896, Died July 23rd, 1994
Salter was a classically trained composer
who fled his native land because of Hitler and came to work for Universal during
their horror heydays. Between Salter and Frank Skinner, they would create
some of Universal's most famous monster movies, such as THE WOLF MAN (1941) and
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954).
Working in the "factory" at Universal, they would have to
crank out score after score, for just about every type of genre pictures that
were being made. And even though he wasn't the biggest fan of the horror
films, he was able to create some highly memorable scores that fans still
remember to this day. And that is because they made an impact then, and
they still are doing it today. Salter would be one of the inspirations for
many upcoming film composers, even to this day.
Other genre films that he worked on was THE INVISIBLE MAN
RETURNS (1940), THE MUMMY'S HAND (1940), GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942), THE
MUMMY'S TOMB (1942), FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943), and many more.
Born June 16th, 1938
This is another name that you might not recognize, but if
you're a fan of Italian horror films, especially that of Lucio Fulci, then you
know Salvati's work. He was a cinematographer that worked on Fulci on most
of his famous films. Such as THE PSYCHIC (1977), ZOMBIE (1979), CITY OF
THE LIVING DEAD (1980), THE BLACK CAT (1981), THE BEYOND (1981), and HOUSE BY
THE CEMETERY (1981). There's no doubt that his work had something to do
with the look of these Fulci's films. They stand out as his most memorable
ones. I'm sure the gore might have something to do with it, but it also
has to do with how it was shot.
He would also go on to work with Charles Band on films like
Saly (real name Julia Salinero) apparently is one mysterious
character since it is pretty tough to find any info about her. What we do
know is that her first movie was LA GUERRILLA (1972) and that she continued to
work in films until 1985. In 1975, she made two films with Amando de Ossorio,
THE POSSESSED and NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS. Then she started appearing in the
films of Paul Naschy. In fact, the rest of the films she appeared in where
Naschy films, and the last 6 of them, she even was producer on them. Rumor
has it that she was a flamenco dancer before getting into the film business, but
no one really knows what happened to her after she left the business.
But no matter what, the films that she did appear in, it was
always a treat to watch her on screen. Her performance as the Countess
Bathory in NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF is enchanting. Must be something with
So if you happened to be watching a Naschy film made after
1975, there is a good chance that Saly is in there.
Born Dec. 2nd, 1927 - Died Aug. 19th, 2011
While staying in the Hammer family, Jimmy Sangster was there
at the start of their rise, not to mention having a big part of it. He
started with Hammer at the bottom, working his way up through the ranks, as
second unit director, assistant director, production assistant, production
manager, then finally into writer, producer and director. But while he may
have held many different titles in the industry, it was as a writer where he
made his real mark. He was the one that had the responsibility of adapting
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the screen, without getting in trouble with
Universal and any copyright issues. All said and done, he gave us THE
CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957). Would go on to write many of the classic
Hammer films, like X: THE UNKNOWN (1956), HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), as well as
writing some other great movies like BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE (1958) and THE
CRAWLING EYE (1958). Then in 1970, he was asked to help doctor a script,
where the offer was then added to produce, and finally direct. The film
was HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970). He would go on to direct two more
movies for Hammer: LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971) and FEAR IN THE NIGHT (1972).
Sangster continued to work as a writer on tons of movies and
TV during his career, even publishing some novels. Had it night been for
his creative thinking, Hammer might not have ever grew to the studio that
Born May 27th, 1935
Sasdy was born in Budapest Hungary,
where went through school studying journalism and drama. He worked as a
stage producer, a critic, and even a newspaper reporter. He left Budapest
in 1956 due to an uprising and went to England. It took a while to get
into the film business there because he wasn't British. He started working
in television, working on several different series. This eventually got
the attention of Hammer.
Producer Aida Young contacted Sasdy to see if he'd be
interested in directing their next Dracula film, TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA
(1970). This started the ball rolling for his work in the horror genre.
His next picture for Hammer was one that he suggested to James Carreras shortly
before lunch one day. His idea was about the Countess Bathory and would
call it COUNTESS DRACULA. Carreras, in typical fashion, had Sasdy have the
graphic artist whip up a poster during lunch, then shortly after a quick
meeting, Carreras had the movie pre-sold and needed a completed film in 6 weeks!
That was how Hammer worked.
He would go on to also direct HANDS OF THE RIPPER (1971) for
Hammer, as well as 3 episodes of their series Hammer House of Horror. He
also directed THE DEVIL WITHIN HER (1975) and the incredibly creepy made-for-TV
movie THE STONE TAPE, written by Nigel Kneale.
Born July 4th, 1935
Serrando is a writer/director from Spain
that might not have done a lot of work in the genre, he gave us two films that
should be considered classics. And they would be THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED
(1969), and WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? (1976). HOUSE is a great gothic film
about a boarding school for girls where a mysterious killer is stalking the
young students. Lilli Palmer stars as the head of the school. It is
a great film, with touches of an Italian giallo. Then years later, he made
WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? which is one powerful film, even when watch today.
The opening credit sequences is hard enough to watch, since it has footage of
the atrocities that happened during certain wars and other events, where
children were suffering and dying. Serrado's main point to show all the
suffering that children have gone through due to the wars that adults have
started, that they are the ones that pay the price. Powerful stuff folks.
More recently though, he directed one of the episodes in Spain's 6 Films to Keep
You Awake in 2006, entitled BLAME. Once again, not holding back on making
a powerful message to his audience.
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador might not have made a ton of films,
but the ones that he did in the horror genre are well worth seeking out.
Trust me...you won't forget them.
Born Aug. 15th, 1933
Barbara Shelley was a staple in the British horror cinema for
about 10 years, starting in the late '50s. The fact that she only made a
handful of horror pictures during that time, and is so remembered shows the real
talent that she was. Starting with films like CAT GIRL (1957) and BLOOD OF
THE VAMPIRE (1958), before appearing in one of the genre classics, VILLAGE OF
THE DAMNED (1960). Then she would work with Hammer Films on her next four
pictures, which shows some of her best work: THE GORGON (1964), DRACULA: PRINCE
OF DARKNESS (1966), RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK
(1966), and QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967). Her role as the uptight
Helen, once transformed into a vampire is one of the highlights of that film.
Her last role for the genre was the 1974 film GHOST STORY (aka
MADHOUSE MANSION), and moved to working more in television, even having a small
stint in the Doctor Who series.
So the next time you're in the mood for a British horror
film, and maybe even a Hammer Film, think about choosing one of the ones that
feature the lovely Shelley and see just what she gave to the genre.
Born March 19th, 1885 - Died Feb. 19th, 1956
Slaughter was a late bloomer when it came to movies. He
was a stage actor who had been working for years before finally getting the film
bug. But even before that, one of the characters that he played
frequently, was that of the crazed murdering barber, Sweeney Todd. Before
his life was over, it was rumored that he had played the character 4000 times.
But the film version where he plays the title character, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON
BARBER OF FLEET STREET (1936), he really shines. Some say that he may be
over acting a bit, but coming from the stage, that is what they were use to.
But to me, I think it fits perfectly here in this film.
Slaughter would go on to play in quite a few other dark
melodramas, but also continued to do stage work at the same time. He
actually died shortly after a performance of Maria Marten, or The Murder in
the Red Barn. A performer truly to the end.
Born Apr. 12th, 1930 - Died Aug. 15th, 1988
He started his musical career writing musical scores in
college, working with different opera houses and orchestras in throughout the
early '50s. It was in the mid '50s that he started working for American
International Pictures (known then as American Releasing Company). His first
film was the Roger Corman directed western APACHE WOMAN (1955). He worked for them
for many years, scoring classic horror and sci-fi films like IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956), THE
SHE-CREATURE (1956), ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (1957), INVASION OF THE SAUCER
MEN (1957), DEMENTIA 13 (1963), and many more. He even composed the
theme song for Jack Hill's SPIDER BABY (1968) with Lon Chaney singing, as well
as the rest of the score for the film.
Stein was obviously a perfect match for AIP since he worked
fast and cheap. Between the years of 1956 and 1958, he scored 8 films each
year. Not a lot of time when you think about the way it is done these
days. Thankfully quite a few of his scores are still available today on CD
and are really fun to listen to.
Born Aug. 16th, 1899 - Died Sept. 20th, 1973
Strange started performing at an early age, playing the
fiddle & guitar, and singing, even making into the western films and serials. As
his career grew, he was playing henchmen, sidekicks, rustlers, misc. cowboys
(sometimes singing ones), and eventually moving into playing the villians in
tons of productions.
Because of his size, standing 6'5" tall, and since he was used to playing the
heavy, he made a couple of appearances in some horror films, THE MAD MONSTER
(1942) and THE MONSTER MAKER (1944). But in 1944, another role came about which
made him immortal in the horror genre. Because Boris Karloff refused to play the
role any longer, Strange took over the role of Frankenstein's Monster in HOUSE
OF FRANKENSTEIN. He would also play the character in the follow-up HOUSE OF
DRACULA as well as in ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948).
Born May 23rd, 1896, Died Feb. 29th, 1984
While Strickfaden might not have worked on tons of movies
over his career, in fact only a handful, but because of his work on James
Whale's FRANKENSTEIN, he had a helping hand in bringing the creation to life.
Strickfaden was the man responsible for building all the electrical equipment
seen in Frankenstein's lab, with all the flashing lights, popping charges, and
loud noises. His work gave credibility to what the mad doctor was doing.
With all of those strange and fantastic machines, maybe what we were seeing on
the screen could happen!
Worked on a few more films over the years, mainly helping
with electrical effects When Mel Brooks was making his parody/homage to
the Frankenstein films with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, he even had the original
equipment brought in that was used in the original film.
Born Feb. 7th, 1931 - Died Sept. 19th, 2000
Talbott grew up very near Hollywood and
started her acting career at a young age, appearing in her first movie at the
age of 6. But once she got out of school, she left the business to get married
and raise a family. But after she got divorced, she went back into the industry.
She appeared in countless TV series over the years, but it the 4
cult/horror/sci-fi films that she appeared in is what she usually is remembered
The first of those was Bert I. Gordon's THE CYCLOPS,
co-starring Lon Chaney Jr. She would later star opposite John Agar DAUGHTER OF
DR. JEKYLL that same year. But the one that she is probably most remembered from
was in the film I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, with novelist Tom Tryon
playing her husband who has been taken over by an alien creature. Two years
later, she appeared in THE LEECH WOMAN (1960) with Grant Williams.
While she might have only made a handful of genre films,
those that she did make have made quite an impact on us and continues to do so
with newer fans.
Born Oct. 21, 1936
Fans of Spanish cinema, especially the works of Jess Franco,
might recognize this name. If not, then you should recognize his face.
Taylor’s glassy blue eyes and the usual handle-bar mustache was an easy way to
spot him. He worked with Franco on at 10 films, such as SUCCUBUS
(1968), EUGENIE (1970), COUNT DRACULA (1970), FEMALE VAMPIRE
(1973), among many others. He also worked with other directors
specializing in the horror genre like Leon Klimovsky’s ORGY OF THE VAMPIRES
(1973), Amando de Ossorio’s NIGHT OF THE SORCERERS (1973) and THE GHOST
GALLEON (1974), and even with Paul Naschy in DR. JEKYLL VS THE WOLFMAN
(1972) and THE MUMMY'S REVENGE (1974). And let’s not forget his
performance in the 1982 Juan Piquer Simón film PIECES. He had even worked
with Johnny Depp in Roman Polanski’s THE NINTH GATE (1999).
He had started his career in Mexico in the early ‘60s before
moving to Spain, where he continues to work to this day. He was always
memorable with his performances, and very easy to spot. So the next time
you're watching a Spanish film, don't be surprised when old glassy-blue eyes
Born: Aug. 10th, 1920 Died: Dec. 5th, 2007
Tenser was a producer that realized the type of films that
could always make money. Ones that dealt with sex and horror. And he
was right. Tenser produced some good films, some even great. Titles
like Polanski's REPLUSION, Michael Reeves' THE SORCERERS and WITCHFINDER
GENERAL, and other great titles like BEAST IN THE CELLAR, THE CREEPING FLESH,
and BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW.
Sure, all of the films he made weren't classics. But
they usually were entertaining. And that's what it all comes down to.
This great quote from Tenser really sums up his filmmaking beliefs: "I'd
rather be ashamed of a movie that was making money than proud of one that was
losing it. And horror fans are glad you did just that.
Born Nov. 4th, 1920 - Died Apr. 13th, 1995
While Thurman had appearances in notable films like
Spielberg's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND or Bogdanovich's THE LAST PICTURE
SHOW, as well as Hollywood films like PLACES IN THE HEART (1984) and SILVERADO
(1985), he really is more known to cult fans that love films that are more off
the beaten path. Thurman appeared in films like CREATURE FROM BLACK LACK (1976)
THE EVICTORS (1979) and the cult title MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE (1986). But
most cult fans know him for his appearances in the works of Texas low budget
filmmaker Larry Buchanan. Thurman appeared in quite a few of his pictures
throughout his career, such as THE EYE CREATURES (1965), CURSE OF THE SWAMP
CREATURES (1965), ZONTAR: THE THING FROM VENUS (1966), MARS NEEDS WOMEN (1967),
and quite a few more.
Now the thing about Thurman that is memorable were his
performances. Was he Oscar winning caliber? Not even close. But more
importantly, he was always enjoyable to watch on screen. When I see his name in
the title, I know that he is going to try his best and presenting a interesting
character on screen, and usually does. Thurman is one of these actors that truly
deserves to be remembered since most people are not even familiar with the
movies that he's in, let alone the actor himself. So the next time you're
watching a low budget film that might have been made in Texas, keep an eye out
for this large man, most likely with southern drawl to his speech. Most likely,
that will be Bill Thurman.
Born Apr. 16th, 1913 - Died Dec. 19th, 2003
Here is an actor that was more famous for
his voice than his face. In fact, along with Bing Crosby and President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was one of the most distinctive voices on American
radio. Born in England but moving to the states when he was only 4, it
didn't take long for him to develop his voice. By the age of 17, he was
already working in radio. During the '30s and '40s, you could hear
Tremayne's voice on as many as 45 shows a week. He also appeared in
countless TV shows over his career, from soap operas to westerns to thrillers
and everything in between, including the role as the Mentor in the TV show
But cult movie fans will recognize him for his roles in films
like WAR OF THE WORLDS (1956), THE MONOLITH MONSTERS (1957), THE MONSTER OF
PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1959), and THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959). For real fans of
the cheesy classics, he also appeared in THE SLIME PEOPLE (1963) and in Larry
Buchanan's CREATURE OF DESTRUCTION (1967), and the killer snake movie HOLY
WEDNESDAY aka SNAKES (1974).
With a very distinct voice, Tremayne will always be
remembered to cult film fans like us. Always giving it all and always
entertaining the audience.
Born May 12th, 1913 - Died July 6th, 1991
This time out, we go across the pond to
pay tribute to another great actor. But Mr. Walters wasn't really a
headlining start as much as a great little character actor. Though he was
mainly known for comedic roles, he appeared in
quite a few Hammer films, such as THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962), DRACULA:
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966), FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1967), and VAMPIRE CIRCUS
(1972), not to mention a few other British horror films. Usually as a
victim, not as the heavy. Though he did play Ludwig, a sort of a Renfield-type
character to Christopher Lee's Dracula. And speaking of Lee, he even played
Dr. Watson a couple of times, once with Christopher Lee as Sherlock Holmes.
But no matter what role Walters was in, or how big or how
small, he was always entertaining to watch. Usually playing a Burgomaster
or doctor, or assistant, he always gave a strong performance and one that Hammer
fans have always remembered. He is one of those faces that people always
remember, but never sure who he is. So now you know. And the next
time you're watching a British movie and his face pops up, you can proudly stand
up and say, "Hey! That's Thorley Walters!"
Born Dec. 24th, 1906 - Died Feb. 24th, 1967
Waxman was a young boy who knew what
he wanted to do, no matter what he was told. Starting to learn the piano
at age 7, he knew that was what he wanted to do with his life. After his
father told him that he wouldn't be able to make a living with music, made him
get a job at a bank. But while working at the bank, Waxman was talking
more piano lessons and studying music. After a couple of years at the
bank, he quit and moved to Berlin to advance his studies, working in nightclubs
to help pay for them. While working in a band, he started to work in
orchestrating musical scores for the movies. A short time later, he moved
to Hollywood, and worked on his first American film, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
(1935), which is probably one of his most famous scores. You can't hear
his Bride theme and not be filled with memories from that film. Classic
Over his career, he would be nominated for 10 Academy Awards,
winning 2 times (back to back). While he did compose music for a few other
horror pictures, such as THE INVISIBLE RAY and Spencer Tracy's version of DR.
JEKYLL & MR. HYDE, it is the theme from BRIDE that most fans remember him by.
At least, us in the horror fandom we do.
If you want to learn more about this great composer, head
over to his official website by clicking
Born Feb. 17th, 1924 - Died Aug. 19th, 2005
Welles is another one of those guys that came out of the
Roger Corman school of filmmaking. Granted, he came in a little later,
mainly because he was good friends with Dick Miller and Charles Griffith.
But Welles would go on to wear so many hats in the filmmaking world. As an
actor, he became immortal for playing the wonderful Mr. Mushnick in the original
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960). But he also had roles in THE UNDEAD and
ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (both 1957). But he also wrote and directed
films like ISLAND OF THE DOOMED and one of our personal favorites LADY
Welles had many different careers in his life, such as a
clinical psychologist to producing big orchestral concerts in Southeast Asia,
not to mention all the things he did in the film business. But no matter
what he did throughout his life, we will also remember him and be thankful for
the special contributions that he made to the horror film genre.
Born Feb. 16th, 1907 - Died Mar. 31st, 1973
Woodbridge was one of those English
character actors that we'd always see in the background or in bit parts, like in
a more than a few Hammer films. Usually playing an innkeeper or maybe a
policeman, even if only in the film a short time, he always help fill out the
picture with interesting characters. With his booming voice, he had always
made a last impression with me, though never really knew his name. So
we're trying to change that here today.
Woodbridge appeared in over 140 movies and television
programs. His last appearance was in a children's television program
called Inigo Pipkin, where Woodbridge played the title character who was a
puppet maker, who created such characters as Hartley Hare, George the tortoise,
Topov the monkey, and Octvia the ostrich. The show was a success, but
Woodbridge died of a heart attack while starting the second season. This
was the first children's program to Pipkin's death written into the story,
explaining to the viewers that the puppet creator had died, quite a few years
before Sesame Street did the same thing when the actor playing Mr. Hooper passed
Born Jan. 19th, 1915 - Died Nov. 21st, 1993
There are a few actors that can have such
an impact on screen...without ever uttering a single word. One of those was
Richard Wordsworth when he played doomed astronaut Victor Caroon in Hammer's
breakout film THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955). Playing the only 'survivor' from
a rocket flight into space, he comes back less of a man, but more of something
else. Just by facial expressions, he shows the audience the internal hell he is
going through as he slowly transforms into something we've never seen before.
Hammer scholar Wayne Kinsey says his performance 'steals the show', while
authors Tom Johnson and Deborah Del Vecchio state his performance is a 'Karloff
He only made two other horror films, both for Hammer. The
next one was a small role as a worker in a hospital for the poor, run by Peter
Cushing's Dr. Frankenstein. Once again, even though his role his small, it is
very memorable. But it his last role for Hammer, that of a poor and simple
beggar, that once again pulls at our hearts, in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. Thrown to
the dungeon and forgotten, turning into a beast over the years, he attacks and
rapes the beautiful Yvonne Romain who was locked in the jail with him.
He was the great-great-grandson of the famous poet Williams
Wordsworth, and would later tour the states in a one man play based on his life
and works. He almost followed his father into the clergy, but was later drawn to
the stage, enrolling in the Embassy School of Acting in London. He would work
with many of the greats of the English stage, such as Alec Guinness and John
Gielgud, before appearing in a trilogy of Hammer Horrors. And while he only
appeared in three titles, we are able to see the incredible talent pouring out
from this man....sometimes even without a single word.