Creature Features

3713849761_6131ab57bd_oAs I posted earlier this week, the New Beverly and Grindhouse Film Festival presented an irresistible creature double feature last night, the documentary WATCH HORROR FILMS, KEEP AMERICA STRONG! about the history of beloved Northern California horror hosts Bob Wilkins and John Stanley, along with Stanley’s rarely screened feature, NIGHTMARE IN BLOOD (1978). New Bev patron saint and actor/director Clu Gulager stood in line behind me and we got to chatting. He asked me if I was familiar with the documentary’s subject and I told him about the cultural influence Wilkins and Stanley had on me. Clu told me great stories about working on the third best zombie ever made, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1983) and how much he loved Dan O’Bannon’s script. Talk about a fount of Hollywood wisdom. Dude worked with Charles Laughton, Don Siegel, and Lee Marvin among others. He is a true Artist.

NIGHTMARE IN BLOOD turned out to be surprisingly fun and clever given the ultra-low budget (50,000 dollars) with its Horrorcon and comic book shop ambiance (cameo by Bob Wilkins and the Creature Feature set). It was like a wonderful compression of the 70’s genre fandom era and I recommend you seek out the wide-screen Techniscope DVD release. Following that, the “Creature Features” documentary by Tom Wyrsch was a blast through the past with great clips from the heyday of the show. It was cool to hear the Bob+Wilkins+1+1-9-9audience laugh at Bob Wilkin’s droll take on the movies and the whole thing is done with so much affection, it only made me pine more for the electronic community of now-dead local programming. Clu Gulager loved the documentary and told me that Wilkins was a natural charismatic performer.

After the screening, I talked with horror maestro Sid Terror, who appeared many times on “Creature Features,” and also Douglas Dunning, actor/archivist who told me he was allowed by the Kubrick estate to watch the legendary deleted “pie fight” from DR. STRANGELOVE (1963). I touched his jacket in tribute. Best of all, I got to chat for a bit with John Stanley (who presented a pleased Gulager with a copy of his best-selling, indispensable “Creature Features Movie Guide”). I thanked Stanley for giving me a safe, dark place to go on Saturday nights. A packed Hollyweird October evening of crunchy cultural goodness for only eight bucks. Where were you?

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8 Responses to “Creature Features”

  1. Just queued up NIGHTMARE IN BLOOD on NetFlix. It looks like it is available for instant streaming, but THE FUTURIST! has an Epson portable DVD projector with theater sound and an 80 inch diagonal screen for viewing in his basement Thimble Theater. It might look better BIG! (Envious you got to meet Clu Gulager. Didn’t John Wayne blast him away in McQ ?) AS to Horror Hosts, THE FUTURIST! just watched AMERICAN SCARY, a documentary on various hosts. It was okay … a bit repetitious.

  2. Cool, man. Did you ever see the strange little short CG made, the one that’s on David Gordon Green’s George Washington as a feature? He should have directed more.

    And if you mean that NOTLD and DOTD are 1 and 2, I completely agree. (Though Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, while obscure, is up there on the list. So is I Walked With a Zombie.)

  3. The remake of THE WOMEN with Meg Ryan could be in the top five zombie films, too.

  4. christian Says:

    Didn’t know NIB was on Netflix streaming! I’m working on my next set of streaming reviews for the horror month and their selection is the worst. Troma! AMERICAN SCARY had some col clips and a good heart, but they needed more meat.

    Frank: Gulager’s film was even nominated for an Academy Award for best short. It’s brilliant.

    Yes, NOTLD and DOTD are 1 and 2. I’d put SHAUN OF THE DEAD at number 4.

    THE WOMEN is too scary for me to sit through.

  5. Christian, is the Fox Theater in Oakland the same theater used in MESSIAH OF EVIL?

  6. christian Says:

    Yes, I believe so. It must be as it was a Nor Cal production. I think Hyuck mentioned that at the screening but i’m not positive…

  7. omg, seriously. you need to tell me when events like this happen – i’d hop a flight down to see that with you.

  8. christian Says:

    I should have. Next time!

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