Again I made the trip and again I really have nothing but good things to say about the friendly atmosphere and fine folks you’re bound to meet and chat with at the Monster Bash in Mars, Pennsylvania. On the down side might be what I think was a lack of fans to show up for this fall festival despite the good work put forth by Ron Adams and his team of festival organizers.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made the journey but I’m guessing 8 maybe 9 times since it’s inception in 1997. My first time making the trip was I believe in 2004 when I recall having breakfast in the hotel restaurant and seeing Kevin McCarthy at the table next to me having his morning coffee. My wife of course had no idea who he was while I’m thinking this is pretty damned cool!
On to the recap of what you missed by not showing up and this is just a sampling as I don’t see every show while I’m there due to the dealer room where I’m on the hunt for posters, movies and memorabilia.
Bill Diamond Productions Presentation along with his alter ego Gorgo entertained the crowd with jokes and a documentary on puppetry in the film industry.
Frankenstein 1970 (1958) – King Karloff as the last descendant of the Frankensteins’ who leases his castle out to filmmakers which in turn should supply him with ample body parts to carry on the family business. Sappy yes but Boris never once lets on that this is a B flick near the end of his career. He’s really magnificent in the film and knows how to deliver his lines like a pro. Next time you watch the film focus on the performer and not the film. He really was a treasure to movies and not just the horror genre.
And so begins the Gorilla theme.
The Gorilla (1939) – Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill play straight men to The Ritz Brothers in this spooky dark house comedy thriller where a Murders in the Rue Morgue plot is intertwined with the proceedings by way of a large Gorilla killing marked men. Fun for sure but I can’t get into the Ritz Brothers. I’d walk five miles to see a Stooges show rather than across the street to see these guys. Still Bela and Lionel’s participation make it worthy of a look.
Gorilla At Large (1954) – It’s another variation on the Poe tale with a circus as the backdrop and a performing Gorilla as the main suspect in a series of murders. How’s this for a cast assembled in this 3D effort, Cameron Mitchell, Anne Bancroft, Lee J. Cobb, Raymond Burr, Lee Marvin, Warren Stevens, Peter Whitney and Charlotte Austin. What a year for Cobb. On the Waterfront and Gorilla At Large in theaters. I dare you to count how many cigarettes and cigars get lit in this film. EVERYONE is puffing away.
Taking a break from the movie room it was time to meet special guest Patrick Wayne and get my original one sheet of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger signed. Mr. Wayne proved to be a gentleman and only to happy to sign it for me taking an interest in how long I had it tucked away (30 years) and the outstanding condition. I was very happy to learn that the money he collects at the show goes to the John Wayne Cancer Institute where son Patrick serves as Chairman on the board of directors.
The Bride and the Beast (1958) – Penned by Ed Wood should be all you need to know about this improbable tale of Charlotte Austin and her Angora sweaters coming to realize that she was a female gorilla in a past life to the dismay of her husband Lance Fuller. Their wedding night has to be one of the most outrageous ever put on film. You see when the groom takes his bride home for a night of ……. she learns he has a pet gorilla in the basement who decides he’s in love with Charlotte as much as if not more than Lance. SEE IT and BELIEVE IT.
Charlotte Austin Interview Session – Having just seen Miss Austin in 3 films of the four that I had sat in on led to a fun interview where she recalled the films and stories from the sets. Karloff a reserved gentleman. The amazing cast she appeared with in Gorilla at Large and realizing years later why she was wearing Angora sweaters in Ed Wood’s story. Hilarious. She spoke of some the stars she met and worked with during the 50’s including Lauren Bacall who she had very high praise for. No she didn’t get to meet Bogie cause I asked her later the next day. I did ask her what working with Marlon Brando was like on Desiree and it seemed to be a question that elicited sad memories. She went on to talk of knowing him and his career trajectory and personal demons. I was happy to hear that Jean Simmons (who always melts my heart thanks to Spartacus) was a sweetheart.
An Hour with the Three Stooges – More slapstick fun with Moe, Larry, Curly and even Shemp in a trio of shorts that featured gorillas. What else?
The World of the Vampires (1961) – One of the more popular events at the Bash is the Mexican Monster Night feature hosted by Robert Cotter. This one’s a hoot as a Bela Lugosi wannabe rises to wreak havoc on descendants of those who did harm to his kind ages ago. It’s got some atmosphere working for it and a pit that is just full of spikes awaiting someone to fall in. Yeah I’d easily watch this guilty pleasure again.
Now I headed off to bed with heavy eyelids but had I had more energy I could have hung in for a 12:30 A.M. showing of The Ape Man. You see the hits just keep coming.
On to Saturday.
Rise and shine and it’s off to see Haunted Gold (1932) – Who’d have ever thought I’d be seeing a John Wayne movie at the Monster Bash? That’s just what we were treated to when a young Duke owns half of an old mine that appears to be haunted. Could someone be trying to scare off those who might do some digging? And what about the outlaws who have cheated the pretty girl next door out of her half of the mine? Looks like Duke is going to lend a hand to get Sheila Terry her share back and maybe even find some romance in the bargain. Racially this is far from politically correct by today’s standards thanks to Blue Washington’s sidekick giving us an early version of Mantan Moreland’s facial gestures and hijinks.
Carl Craig Interview Session – I came into this about ten minutes late but quickly realized Mr. Craig’s story is worthy of a movie. Craig starred in a Gamera movie as a kid while his military father was stationed in Japan. Then the Air Force, Secret Customs and a member of George Bush’s staff. Engaging and plenty of funny stories due to his one time appearance in the giant turtle series.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) If you don’t know this film or who Ray Harryhausen is, I can only say I feel sorry for you. Patrick Wayne is of course Sinbad hence his appearance at the Bash.
Trivia With Author and Historian Tom Weaver – While not a contestant I did score a prize when the contestant on stage didn’t know who played Edwin Drood in the 1935 film. I blurted out the answer when the question was turned over to the audience members proving I’m no amateur. The answer? Look it up with one hint. It’s a fellow Canadian.
Patrick Wayne Interview Session – Gracious with his time and answers, Mr. Wayne talked of Harryhausen on Sinbad and briefly about The People That Time Forgot and Doug McClure but the bulk of the questions that came at him from the audience were mainly focused around his Dad’s films and getting to work with John Ford on a number of productions. Honestly, I had to hold back as I didn’t want to go all nerdy on the man with a hundred plus questions on the Duke and all the character actors who populated the stock company of Ford and by extension his father of which Patrick was included. Really one of the weekends highlights was listening in and at the same time my chatting with him the day before.
Route 66 (TV Episode) – It’s the one to see if you love classic horrors. Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney guest star as themselves in an attempt to prove the old horror movie tactics still work in evoking screams and faints from audience members. Boris dons the Monster make-up one last time and Lon gets into his Lawrence Talbot outfit and Peter, well he just scares them as he is. Great fun for fans of the trio.
Linda Miller Interview Session – Miss Miller was another youngster who found herself in Japan due to her father’s military assignment. As a model she soon found herself approached to star in King Kong Escapes for Toho and Arthur Rankin. She too had plenty of fun stores to tell and now gets a kick out of seeing the film years later. She also had a brief appearance in The Green Slime, another Japan flick and I was glad to hear her speak approvingly of Richard Jaeckel who has long been one of my favorite character actors.
The Green Slime (1968) – Has to be seen to be truly appreciated beyond the ultra cool one sheet. It’s campy with a killer theme song. If you’ve seen Bruce Willis’ Armageddon you’ll have to wonder why Nasa didn’t approach Jaeckel and company because in less than 30 minutes of screen time they landed on and blew up an approaching mega asteroid where it took Bruce nearly 3 hours. On the flip side, Bruce and his Dirty Dozen didn’t bring back any foreign material that would wreak havoc on the return trip to Earth. And that’s when the fun really begins.
I forgot to mention the cake, the free give aways and the “festival of the new wine” sing along. Really, you have to participate to truly appreciate it.
That’s what I squeezed in on two full days and I don’t even stay for the Sunday showings. Yes there is plenty of things to do and fun to be had. Heck I didn’t even sit in and watch King Kong and Night of The Living Dead! Leaving for Canada it was time to pack up the new finds and head home. Among them were these fine additions to the vault here at Mike’s Take and I hope to see you all there next summer when they’ll be hosting a Hammer themed event.