As 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 audience 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?