Robert Wise – The Body Snatcher (1945)

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Robert Wise was one of the most beloved film directors of all time with a career spanning decades and films that covered a wide cinematic palate, ranging from horror to musical to action and science fiction. Although he left us back in 2005 at the age of 91, the legacy he left behind will be remembered forever.

Robert Wise BookA revised edition of author J.R. Jordan’s book, Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures, is now available and is a perfect way to spend some summertime afternoons. Every chapter is a thoughtful analysis of one of his films, starting off with The Curse of the Cat People (1944) and ending with his final film, A Storm in Summer (2000). The amazing read includes a foreword by actor Gavin MacLeod and an introduction by Douglas E. Wise, Robert’s nephew. I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy any of his classic films. You might even discover some hidden gems that will leave you seeking out more of his films, which is the perfect way to keep his memory very much alive. It’s currently available on Amazon in hardcover and paperback editions, and gets the Kansas City Cinephile seal of approval.

Over the next several weeks, to help celebrate this fantastic book, I’ll be revisiting some past articles I wrote about some of his horror and science fiction genre related films. The following was originally published on the Monster Movie Kid website back on October 17, 2014. I’ve included updated links on the current home media availability of the films.Body Snatcher

The Body Snatcher (1945)

After a rather uninspiring performance in The Climax (1944), Karloff went to work on another film for Universal, House of Frankenstein (1944). It was another mad doctor role but it was exciting to see him alongside the monster, Dracula and the Wolf Man. However, it was his next film that allowed him to leave the laboratory behind and take on a very different role. Under the production of the legendary Val Lewton, The Body Snatcher (1945) is easily one of Karloff’s best films that showed us he was much more than a man in a lab coat.

The Body Snatcher is based on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson short story with a screenplay written by Philip MacDonald and Val Lewton (credited as Carlos Keith). It is set in Edinburgh in 1831 and tells the tale of Dr. Wolf MacFarlane (Henry Daniell, Professor Moriarty in the 1945 Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes film Woman in Green). Dr. MacFarlane runs a medical school where one of his students, Donald Fettes (Russell Wade, The Ghost Ship), has befriended a young paralyzed girl in need of surgery. While Fettes inspires the doctor to perform surgery and reignite his medical passions, there looms a mysterious presence in the background…cabman John Gray (Boris Karloff). It seems Gray “acquires” bodies for the good doctor by any means necessary. Gray and Dr. MacFarlane go back to the time of the infamous Burke and Hare trial as Gray holds a secret that could destroy the doctor.

Karloff is absolutely amazing in this picture. He greatly appreciated the opportunity to play such a well-written and developed character. It was refreshing for him to play something different than the countless mad scientist roles he had been playing. The relationship between Gray and MacFarlane allowed Karloff to display his acting abilities not always possible in some of his other films. When we first see him, he befriends the little girl and seems utterly charming. Seconds later, he shoots an evil look towards the doctor’s housekeeper that tells us all it not as it appears. In every scene, Karloff emits an evil charm that is frightening.BKBS

The Body Snatcher would be the eighth and final time Karloff and Bela Lugosi would work together. RKO Pictures insisted Lugosi be added to help with box office appeal and Lewton reluctantly wrote a role for Lugosi. His role is a very small one as Joseph, an assistant to Dr. MacFarlane. However, the scene between Karloff and Lugosi is amazing and a fitting way for the two to end their on screen performances together.

For anyone who has seen a Val Lewton film before, you know exactly what to expect. A tale with some truly scary moments wrapped up in a movie where the horror elements are downplayed in a world full of shadows and mystery. The final scene is horrific and legendary director Robert Wise (The Day The Earth Stood StillStar Trek: The Motion Picture) walked away from the picture with a great deal of respect and a new opinion on the acting talents of Karloff.

The Body Snatcher was the first of three consecutive films Karloff did for producer Val Lewton. While Lewton only worked on 14 films, his 9 horror films stand out as not only his best but true classics of the genre. Karloff is amazing in this film and I highly recommend it. It’s now available on a fantastic Blu-ray edition from Shout Factory.Body Snatcher 2

Classic Horrors Club – Sherlock Stay-at-Home

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In episode 43 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, Jeff and I celebrate my wife Karla’s birthday with her choice of topic: Sherlock Holmes. We span a mere portion of the character’s film history with three thrillers: House of Fear (1945), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), and A Study in Terror (1965), and we welcome Karla to the podcast to provide her thoughts.

Who’s your favorite Holmes? Basil Rathbone? Yea! Peter Cushing? Yea! John Neville? Huh?

Do you prefer a slightly buffoonish Dr. Watson or one who can keep up with the master detective?

Listen to our opinions, then we invite you to leave feedback on yours. Let’s call the meeting to order…

Call us at (616) 649-2582 (CLUB) or email us at classichorrorsclub@gmail.com.

You can also join us in our clubhouse at https://www.facebook.com/groups/classichorrors.club/.

We’d also appreciate if you’d give us an honest rating on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud. Thank you!

You can find Jeff at:

You can still pre-order Spotlight on Horror: Classics of the Cinefantastique at https://unsunghorrors.co.uk/spotlight-on-horror/! The release date is now in June, so there’s still plenty of time. Jeff is once again featured and these books are always an amazing addition to anyone’s library!

Frankenstein: National Theatre at Home (2011)

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Frankenstein Month concludes here at Monster Movie Kid and we’re going out on top. In 2011, director Danny Boyle put together an amazing production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the Royal National Theatre. From its world premiere on February 5 to its final performance on May 2, the unique play impressed audiences with not one but two creatures.

This version of the familiar tale features Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller playing both the roles of the creature and of Victor Frankenstein, alternating every other night. It’s an amazing vision that would have been fantastic to see live. However, it was also broadcast to world in 2011 as part of the National Theatre Live program and has been repeated almost every year since. Now, both versions will be broadcast through the National Theatre at Home YouTube series. Both versions will stream live and then be available for one week only beginning April 30 and May 1.

Danny Boyle has said this will never be available on home media, so this is an incredibly rare opportunity to see this fantastic production at home. Sit back, enjoy Frankenstein and tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent you!

OTR – Frankenstein (1955)

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This week on OTR Wednesday, we offer up another adaptation of the classic Frankenstein tale. This time, we journey back to June 7, 1955, for an episode of Suspense. This series was broadcast on the CBS Radio Network from June 17, 1942 until September 30, 1962. On that night, with the final broadcast of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, the Golden Age of Radio came to an end. This version of Frankenstein is short, just under 25 minutes, and moves the story to a then modern-day setting. I think you’ll enjoy this different take, so turn out the lights and let the theatre of the mind take you back to a simpler time.

Dread Media – WolfCop (2014)

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It has been far too long since I’ve been on the Dread Media Podcast. So, it’s only fitting that I return in style with a look at a modern-day…classic??? WolfCop (2014) is loved by many and while I might not quite appreciate it as much as some monster kids do, it was certainly a journey. My experience was made all the better as I watched it with Joe Bob Briggs as it was the one episode of last season’s The Last Drive-In that I had missed. Every film is always made better with Joe Bob!

So, tune in to episode 661 of the Dread Media podcast and, as always, tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!

Classic Horrors Club – Sam Irvin Remastered

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Frankenstein Month continues here at Monster Movie Kid as Jeff has dived into the archives to resurrect a “lost” episode. Originally posted on July 17, 2017, episode eight of the podcast featured our first live guest, Sam Irvin, author of The Epic Untold Saga Behind Frankenstein: The True Story in issue #38 of Little Shoppe of Horrors.

With a career spanning nearly 40 years, Sam is a veteran film and television director, producer, screenwriter, author, journalist and educator who’s worked with a long list of legendary Hollywood talent, including Brian DePalma, Rod Steiger, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cassandra Peterson.

To celebrate the Blu-ray release of Frankenstein: The True Story, we present a “remastered” version of the interview.

Please note, this episode was recorded before the Blu-ray release, which is now the recommended version to add to your film library. Sam has contributed some amazing extras while Rondo Award winning artist Mark Maddox created a fantastic cover.

What are you doing during your quarantine? Call us at (616) 649-2582 (CLUB) or email us at classichorrorsclub@gmail.com.

You can also join us in our clubhouse at https://www.facebook.com/groups/classichorrors.club/.

We’d also appreciate if you’d give us an honest rating on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud. Thank you!

You can find Jeff at:

You can still pre-order Spotlight on Horror: Classics of the Cinefantastique at https://unsunghorrors.co.uk/spotlight-on-horror/! Jeff is once again featured and these books are always an amazing addition to anyone’s library!

OTR – Frankenstein (1944)

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“In this cave by the restless sea, we are met to call from out of the past, stories strange and weird. Bell keeper, toll the bell, so that all may know that we are gathered again in The Weird Circle.”

As Frankenstein Month continues here at Monster Movie Kid, it’s time to enter The Weird Circle. This syndicated series was heard on a variety of radio stations across the United States at various times from the summer of 1943 until the fall of 1947, lasting a total of 78 episodes.

While we don’t know the exact broadcast dates for all locations, we do know that this adaptation of Frankenstein aired on February 20, 1944, in New York City. So, turn out the lights and enter the theatre of your mind!

Mysteries Still Surround Green Hell from the Void (1968)

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Whenever a rare or long-lost film is discovered, it’s like finding a treasure chest of gold for film lovers. Sure, every now and then you find the equivalent of Al Capone’s vault but most of the time, the film is a fun glimpse into a past long forgotten. Tom Leahy is best known for his television work in Wichita, Kansas as The Host and Major Astro, not to mention directing his 1965 horror flick The Beast from the Beginning of Time. However, Tom also worked on another film that was unearthed some five years ago…Green Hell from the Void (1968).

I first became aware of this film in the fall of 2014 when I met Joel Sanderson, better known to many as Gunther Dedmund on The Basement Sublet of Horror. Joel had acquired Tom’s first film years ago and unleashed it upon a hungry audience. It was at that time that he first heard about Green Hell from the Void. However, he lost contact with Tom before seeing the film or finding out if the film still existed. Tom had mentioned it once in a 1981 newspaper article written by Bob Curtright. Published in the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, the article was hyping the television debut of The Beast from the Beginning of Time. Tom mentioned it casually as being a pilot but nothing more. The question remained whether or not the film was still in one piece and, if so, who had it. With Tom passing away in 2010, the fear was that we might never know.

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Enter writer and podcast legend Derek M. Koch. Derek is well-known for his love of the horror genre through his Rondo Award-winning podcast Monster Kid Radio. After hearing that another Tom Leahy film may exist, I reached out to Derek to tell him as I knew he would be as excited as I was. Joel knew that some of Tom Leahy’s estate material was given to the Kansas Historical Society, which I mentioned to Derek. Derek quickly went online and discovered that the film was listed as being in the possession of the Kansas Historical Society. I shared this news with Joel, who quickly contacted them and arranged for a meeting. Sure enough, they had the film and Joel was able to view it and obtain a copy of it. So, was this movie all we had hoped for?

First, let’s acknowledge that the film is incomplete and only runs about 12 minutes. It was intended as a “pilot” sample to raise funds for a full-length feature film. Why production stopped is just one of the mysteries still surrounding this previously lost gem. We do know that Tom was the mastermind, most likely writing, producing and directing. The lead character was played by Robert Carroll. Carroll was a news anchor at channel 3, KARD, which is most likely where he met Leahy. Dick Welsbacher (Professor Morey from The Beast from the Beginning of Time) also pops up briefly as a rather seedy hotel owner.

Green Hell from the Void was filmed in glorious color in 1968, based on a Sedgwick County car tag clearly visible at one moment at the hotel. Every color image comes across rather vividly thanks to the film being in really good condition. This is amazing considering that it most likely has been collecting dust in a film can for decades. While the story takes place in “Las Mesas”, the sign is obviously a fake and the scenery clearly looks like Kansas. There is a shot of a gas station and a Del Sueno Motel. It’s unclear whether this motel was real or simply staged.

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The film starts with an image of a lizard-like monster head created by Leahy that seems to be at least partially inspired by King Kong. It also comes across as a precursor to the Sleestaks from the 1970s TV series Land of the Lost, complete with hissing sounds, claws and out-stretched arms as the film progresses.  We see a reference to Group 5 Productions, which may have been Tom’s production company. The story begins with a man around a campfire listening to a radio announcer talking about UFOs. A spacecraft flies overhead and crashes. The man goes to investigate and discovers it is a small craft releasing a mysterious fog. An explosion then knocks him unconscious. The next day, we see him driving on a highway, passing a sign for Las Mesas. He then checks into the Del Sueno Motel. He encounters a shady motel clerk (Dick Welsbacher) and identifies himself as Jim Smith, which is likely a fake name based on his mannerisms. The clerk sees the Sedgwick County car tag and makes a reference to him being from out of town. As Smith walks away, the clerk turns on a radio and we hear Spanish music, trying to add to the perception that we are possibly in New Mexico.

In the next scene, we see Smith racing to his car at night in a parking lot (which does not appear to be at the motel). He is breathing hard and looks down at his hands. They are changing into a reptilian-like texture. He begins driving on a highway and is clearly in distress. He is transforming and seems disoriented. His hands are turning into claws with scales on his face and he begins to hiss like a snake. He stops and picks up a hitchhiker (Ray Dryden, a Wichita State University film student). Once in the car, he turns to the hitchhiker and we see the reptilian face that we saw at the very beginning. He begins clawing at the hitchhiker and draws blood which is clearly visible on his arm. The hitchhiker tries to get away from the creature but is attacked and is apparently killed. And then, the screen fades out.

Where the story was going to go after that remains a mystery. Film director Lance D. Hayes (King Kung Fu) has helped fill in some of the gaps but with Tom Leahy, Robert Carroll and Dick Welsbacher all having passed away in recent years, acquiring additional information seems challenging now. Research continues, such as Joel Sanderson having vivid memories of his neighbor Ralph Seeley working on the spaceship effects in his garage. So, there is at least some hope that we might be able to discover more about Green Hell from the Void.

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For now, the short film is available for everyone to see on archive.org and YouTube. Check it out and, while you’re there, you might also be interested in other rare treasures from Tom Leahy. Joel has uploaded a lot of the existing 1950s Nightmare material featuring Tom Leahy as The Host, including an unreleased marketing promo for an attempted syndicated revival of Nightmare.

Special thanks to Joel Sanderson and the Kansas Historical Society for making this film available and to Derek M. Koch for that late night conversation which led to its rediscovery. Lance D. Hayes and Tim McGill of Cine’ Specialists also provided additional information on the history of this film.

A version of this article originally appeared in issue 3 of The Basement Sublet of Horror magazine and in February 2015 on the Monster Movie Kid website.

Monster Kid Radio – The Beast from the Beginning of Time (1965)

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This is the week that the world gets reintroduced to that lost classic, The Beast from the Beginning of Time (1965)! Okay, it’s not quite a classic and really hasn’t been lost for a long time, if it ever was. However, it is a film few have seen, and it’s been near and dear to my heart for quite a while now. After introducing it to my wife Karla a few weeks back, Derek M. Koch, the Rondo Award winning podcast legend, reached out and here we are.

This week on episode 467 of the Monster Kid Radio podcast, Derek and I sit down to talk about this fun flick featuring writer, producer, director and star, the late Mr. Tom Leahy. It’s always fun being on MKR and this time was no exception.

Now, if you want to see this rare movie, it is currently available on archive.org courtesy of Joel Sanderson and The Basement Sublet of Horror. That version is special in that it’s edited to make it look like an episode of Nightmare, Tom Leahy’s horror host program that ran on television from the late 50s to the early 90s. It’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend it as the best way to see The Beast from the Beginning of Time.

So, tune in and be sure to tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!

Diecast Movie Review Podcast – The Seventh Seal (1957)

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Have you heard of the Diecast Movie Review Podcast? Are you listening to every new episode? If you answered no, today is the day to add it to your podcast queue. My good friend Steve Turek recently launched this new podcast with his children Ben and Mikaela. Every episode, they roll the die to determine the genre of movie they have to choose from for the next episode. They also do interviews with people involved in the movie industry, such as Victoria Price and Donnie Dunagan.

In episode 12, I join Steve for a great one-on-one conversation about The Seventh Seal (1957)! This is a classic film that deserves all of the love and praise it receives. It is indeed an incredible and unique journey. Please note, this was recorded in January before we lost the great Max Von Sydow on March 8.

You can listen to the podcast through Apple podcasts or any of the following: