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).

Movie Review: The Black Scorpion (1957)

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The Black Scorpion (1957)
Directed by Edward Ludwig
Starring Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro

1957 really was one of the best year’s when it came to fun sci-fi/horror pictures, with plenty of giant monsters running around causing havoc. And this film is a prime example of that. What would make this giant monster flick even better? How about when it includes stop-animation work from the one and only Willis O’Brien, the one responsible for bringing the original King Kong to life in 1933 (and never even got a screen credit for it!?!?!). So the creature effects in here are everything to make a monster fan out a young kid, or bring back the kid in an old monster fan. Continue reading

Horror History: Mara Corday

Mara CordayMara Corday
Born Jan. 3rd, 1930

There are some actors and actresses that only make a handful of genre pictures, but make such a strong impression that we always remember them. Mara Corday is one of them. If she would have kept acting longer, instead of deciding to take care of her growing family, maybe we might have seen her in a few more. But it didn’t sound like her marriage to actor Richard Long was the easiest, so maybe it was better not to compete in the business.

But she did make a few genre pictures within a couple of years that I’ve always remembered her from. The first one was Jack Arnold’s Tarantula (1955), where she met a young actor who she became good friends with. His name was Clint Eastwood. In fact, they remained such good friends, that after her husband died, Eastwood would give her little bit parts in his films, such as The Gauntlet (1977) or Sudden Impact (1983).

She would appear in The Black Scorpion in 1957, with Richard Denning, but it was the other film she made that same year is one that I am most fond of, those she probably isn’t. It is The Giant Claw! Granted, she, along with the rest of the actors, never saw the title terror until it was already out. 

Corday even appeared in Playboy magazine as Playmate of the Month in Oct. 1958, but this was when they didn’t appear nude. But it is shame that we didn’t see more of her on the big screen, since she was a talented actress.