Horror on the Lens: How To Make A Monster (dir by Herbert L. Strock)


You’ve seen I Was A Teenage Werewolf….

You’ve watched I Was A Teenage Frankenstein….

Now, it’s time to watch How To Make A Monster!

Released in 1958, How To Make A Monster is a clever little horror satire from American International Pictures in which the stars of Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein are hypnotized into believing that they actually are the monsters that they played!  The main culprit is a movie makeup artist (Robert H. Harris) who has been deemed obsolete by the new bosses at AIP.

Be sure to watch for the finale, which features cameo appearances from several other AIP monsters!  And read my full review of the film by clicking here!

Artwork of the Day: They Call Her One Eye


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They call her One Eye.

Of course, her name was originally Frigga.  It was only after she was kidnapped, forced into prostitution, and had her eye removed as a punishment that Frigga became known as One Eye.

And, in much the same way, They Call Her One Eye was originally known as Thriller, A Cruel Picture.  It was a Swedish picture, a feminist-themed revenge flick that had been banned for both its brutal violence and its explicit sexual content.  In 1974, when American International Pictures brought Thriller to America, they cut out the hardcore sex scenes, left the violence untouched, and gave the film a new name: They Call Her One Eye.

They also came up with the absolutely brilliant artwork seen above!  Even if They Call Her One Eye wasn’t one of the best and most subversive grindhouse films ever made, it would still deserve a place of honor just because of this poster.

It’s a classic in every sense of the word.

(And after looking at the poster, why not check out this list of Arleigh’s nine favorite revenge films?)

 

The Origin of Billy Jack: BORN LOSERS (AIP 1967)


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The character Billy Jack, star of the wildly popular 1971 film (and its two sequels), made his debut in this 1967 exploitation flick about a sociopathic biker gang and the lone man who stands up to them. Tom Laughlin, a minor figure in Hollywood at the time who had appeared in GIDGET and THE DELINQUENTS, conceived the character way back in 1954. Unable to get his original screenplay produced, he and co-star Elizabeth James banged out this motorcycle drama and he was given the opportunity to direct by American International Pictures, always on the lookout to make a quick exploitation buck.

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The Born Losers are a degenerate gang of outlaw bikers terrorizing the small town of Big Rock. Ex-Green Beret Billy Jack, a half-breed Indian back from ‘Nam, saves a local kid from getting an ass kicking by breaking out his rifle, winds up the one locked up and given 120 days in jail or $1,000…

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Youth Run Wild!: HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS (AIP 1958)


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One of the most popular 50’s exploitation subgenres was the “Teenage Girl Gang” movie,  with titles like THE VIOLENT YEARS (script by Ed Wood ) and Roger Corman’s TEENAGE DOLL. The plots are pretty much interchangeable: rebellious high school chick, misunderstood by her parents, falls in with the wrong crowd. Soon she’s smoking butts, drinking booze, stealing, staying out late. There’s usually a wild party where something bad happens, and our heroine is placed in peril. If you’re into exploitation flicks, you’ll immediately recognize the storyline, and it’s reused again here to good advantage in HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS.

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Our heroine here is Joyce, the new kid at High School USA. Joyce’s parents just don’t understand her: mom’s always out playing bridge, and dad is just a prick. Joyce longs to be accepted, and is invited to join the Hellcats by anti-social Connie, a rebellious vixen whose attitude seems to be fuck the adult…

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Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Ugly: THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (AIP 1971)


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For a 13-year-old monster-crazed kid in 1971, attending the latest Vincent Price movie at the local theater on Saturday afternoon was a major event. Price was THE horror star of the time, having assumed the mantle when King Karloff passed away a few years before. Not to take anything away from Mr. Cushing and Mr. Lee, but “Vincent Price Movies” had become, like “John Wayne Movies “, a sort of genre unto themselves. AIP had squeezed about every nickel they could  out of the Edgar Allan Poe name so, with the release of THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, a new character was created for the horror star, the avenging evil genius Dr. Anton Phibes.

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Phibes is a concert organist, theologian, scientist, and master of acoustics who uses his knowledge and vast wealth to gain revenge on the nine surgeons who (to his mind) botched an operation that killed his wife. We first see…

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A Fast Look at THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (AIP 1955)


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I’ve never seen any of those FAST AND FURIOUS movies with Paul Weller, Vin Diesel, and The Rock (yeah I know, Dwayne Johnson, but he’ll always be The Rock to me). Nope, not even one. I just never had much interest in them. I’d heard of the 1955 THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, an early Roger Corman production, but never watched it either, until now. Seems I wasn’t missing anything.

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is Corman’s second film as producer, and first release for American International Pictures, under the moniker American Releasing Corporation. It’s an inauspicious debut for the company, to put it mildly. The story concerns escaped con Frank Webster, who kidnaps sports car racer Connie Adair and her white Jaguar (which is a nice car, by the way). They bicker with some tough-talking dialogue, as Frank plans on crossing the border to Mexico by driving the Jag in a…

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Rockin’ in the Film World #3: BEACH PARTY (AIP 1963)


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Finally! The weather here in New England has begun to break, and we’re heading into summer. I even managed to get some beach time in today. TCM beat me to the punch when they aired BEACH PARTY as part of their month-long salute to American International Pictures, a blast from the past filled with sand, surf, teenage sex, and plenty of good ol’ rock’n’roll! BEACH PARTY spawned a series of films and a whole slew of imitators , but AIP did ’em first and best.

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Teen idol Frankie Avalon and ex-Mouseketeer Annette Funicello starred in most of the AIP’s, using the same plot over and over. Frankie wants sex, but Annette wants to wait for marriage. They fight, and try to make each other jealous by dating someone new, but wind up together by film’s end. Simple, and rehashed using gimmicks like bodybuilding, drag racing, sky diving, and skiing to make things seem fresh…

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