Horror History: Richard Denning

Richard Denning
Born March 27th, 1914, Died October 11th, 1998

Richard Denning (born as Richard Denninger, but was told to change it by the studio because it sounded too much like Dillinger!), never started out to be an actor, going to school for business, and even graduating cum laude with a master’s degree in business administration. But once he got the acting bug, there was no stopping him. After winning a radio contest called “Do You Want to Be an Actor?”, he got a screen test with Warner Bros. They passed on him, but he did sign with Paramount. While he didn’t make a ton of pictures in the horror genre, he made a few, including The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). He also appeared in Roger Corman’s The Day the World Ended (1955) or Edward Cahn’s Creature with the Atomic Brain (1955), or appearing with Mara Corday in The Black Scorpion (1957).

He would have a pretty successful career in non-genre films and a lot of television, but always left a mark with me in the genre pictures he did appear in, even when he was not the nicest character like in Creature from the Black Lagoon!

Denning had married one of the genre’s early scream queens, Evelyn Ankers, who starred in films like The Wolf Man (1941) and Son of Dracula (1943).

Halloween Favorites

Fright FavoritesHorror scholar David J. Skal has a new book coming out this fall, just in time for Halloween, entitled Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond. Presented by Turner Classic Movies, Skal takes on 31 films ranging from the silent era, hitting a few titles from each decade through the ’80s, and a few beyond that. Most of these everyone will agree are classics, with a few comedies listed in the later day titles. The description in Amazon says they are “family-friendly” but not sure The Exorcist (1973) and The Thing (1982) are ones I would be screening for 8-year old Timmy! Continue reading

Book Review: 150 Movies You Should Die Before You See

150 Movies You Should Die Before You See150 Movies You Should Die Before You See
Published by Adams Media, 2010. 290 pages.
By Steve Miller

This one had me really confused, especially the title. I first picked it up because I thought it might give me a few ideas for some future Turkey Day viewing. But as I read through it, I became really confused at just what Miller was trying to do here.

Each film has a very short synopsis along with cast and crew listing. Then a paragraph under the Why It Sucks moniker, a ratings of how many Thumbs Down, then a Crappies Award for whatever he didn’t care for.

In his introduction, Miller writes that there is “something magical about bad movies. Something that makes them worth the sometimes considerable effort to sit through.” Now while I really don’t like the term “bad movies” when you’re talking about a film you enjoy watching (same goes with “guilty pleasure”), I’ll let it slide here because that is an discussion for another time. But if you’re talking about movies that you do enjoy watching, then why are you putting them in a book with the title telling people NOT to watch them? Continue reading

Book Review: The Creature Chronicles

creaturechroniclesThe Creature Chronicles: Exploring the Black Lagoon Trilogy
Published by McFarland, 2014. 408 pages.
By Tom Weaver, David Schecter, & Steve Kronenberg

This should be a very simple review. If you want to know anything about Creature from the Black Lagoon, or its two sequels, Revenge of the Creature and/or The Creature Walks Among Us, then just buy this book. Just about anything and everything you need to know about those films is in this book. Tom Weaver, along with Schecter and Kronenberg, have researched and compiled so much information, from the cast and crew, premieres, design teams, press, music, down to all the screenwriters involved in them, all here in this book. It even has an introduction by Creature star Julia Adams.

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Book Review: The Lady from the Black Lagoon

Lady from the Black LagoonThe Lady from the Black Lagoon
Published by Hanover Square Press, 2019. 368 pages.
By Mallory O’Meara

As a horror historian (sounds such more impressive than horror fan, doesn’t it?), anytime some light can be shed on someone important in the genre, especially when that light was purposely taken away from them, then I’m all for it.

If you were to just go by the screen credits in those classic movies, you’d never know about some of the thousands of people that actually worked on them. This isn’t anything new either, since a LOT of people go without given due credit. That’s just the business. But when that business included someone taking credit for someone else’s work, even getting rid of said person because they were starting to get their deserved credit, then that that error needs to be fixed,  especially when we’re talking about the creation of one of the famous Universal Monsters. Helping do that is author Mallory O’Meara with this new book on Milicent Patrick, the woman who actually designed the Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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Milicent Patrick – The Lady from the Black Lagoon

Lady from the Black LagoonThe Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) remains as one of the great monsters from the Universal studios, still holding up today, 65 years later. But there are quite a few out there that still don’t realize that the design of the creature was actually done by a woman, Milicent Patrick, who never received credit for it in the final film. But now, thanks to author Mallory O’Meara, you can learn all about this unsung hero in her new book, The Lady from the Black Lagoon, which will be released on March 5th, from Hanover Square Press.

For all of us that are interested in our Horror History and its heritage, Milicent Patrick is a person that we should get to know and definitely remember, because without her contributions, our favorite Gill-man could have looked quite different. And this book looks to be a great place to start! I’ve already got mine on pre-order, so why don’t you.

You can pre-order your hardcover edition from Amazon now for only $17.70! How could you pass up that price? Just click HERE.

Julie Adams – Rest in Peace

Julie Adams - RIPThere has to be something about a person that only appeared in a few genre pictures in her career that spanned almost 70 years, but it was her first genre pic, made 65 years ago, is what she is remembered the most from. Sure, it could be because it was the last great classic monster film from Universal, but Julie Adams appearance in it had something to do with it as well. There was more than the Gill-Man watching Adams in The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), that is for sure. 

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes on the internet in the last 24 hours, you’ve read the news that Adams passed away yesterday at the age of 92. I had the honor of meeting her a couple of times at different cons or movie screenings and she was always so lovely and friendly to her fans. As long as the Gill-man is remembered, Adams will be right along there with him. Our thoughts go out to her friends and family during this difficult time.

Horror History: Richard Carlson

richardcarlsonRichard Carlson
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, 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 The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Usually playing the hero or good guy in the stories, Carlson always did an excellent job portraying the likable kind of character, who was always fighting the good fight for humanity. His portrayal of the characters in those two film were so real that we, the audience, believed everything he told us! Although, completely playing against that type, his performance in Bert I. Gordon’s Tormented (1960), 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.

Horror History: Whit Bissell

whitbissellWhit Bissell
Born Oct. 25th, 1909 – Died Mar. 5th, 1996

While I may have seen Bissell in something else, the first movie that I remember him from was from one of my favorites, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957). Not only was this a very different take on the classic Frankenstein story I knew, Bissell’s character truly was an evil S.O.B.!

After Teenage Frankenstein, I would see him everywhere, from other films to a ton of different TV appearances. His IMDB list 300 credits! He started his acting career in 1940, appearing in several titles though uncredited. He appeared in titles like Lost Continent (1951), Target Earth and Creature from the Black Lagoon (both in 1954), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957), and in both the original 1960 version of The Time Machine as well as 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.

Skyline Drive-In Super Monster Lineup!

 

Jaws1

The Skyline Drive-In Theater in Shelbyville, IN has finally announced the lineup for this year’s Super Monster Movie Fest. Their Don’t Go In The Water marathon is taking place on Aug. 24th and 25th, with the movies starting around dusk. They don’t have an official schedule posted yet, as far as what is playing and when, but here are the titles they have announced in alphabetical order:

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