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SEQUEL-PALOOZA MONSTER DOUBLE FEATURE

THE MONSTERS DEMOLISHER (1962) ** ½

I remember seeing The Monsters Demolisher as a kid on Commander USA’s Groovie Movies. If you’ve never heard of the flick, let me give you some background on it. In the 60’s there was this Mexican horror serial called The Curse of Nostradamus featuring the great German Robles as the vampire son of Nostradamus. Exploitation movie maverick K. Gordon Murray got a hold of the serial and edited it into four different movies. The Monsters Demolisher is the second in Murray’s “franchise”.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for the Mexican horror films that K. Gordon Murray “presented” to unsuspecting American audiences in the 50’s and 60’s. From the Aztec Mummy movies to the El Santo flicks; even the bad ones are still fun to watch. The Monsters Demolisher isn’t quite as great as those are, but it still has enough cool moments to make it worthwhile.

The vampire offspring of Nostradamus rises from the grave to once again strike fear in the hearts of men. First, he kidnaps a young boy and threatens to kill him. Then Nostradamus turns a dude into a vampire and makes him do his bidding. Finally, our hero turns to the titular Monsters Demolisher (some dude with a goofy beard) to get rid of Nostradamus for good (or at least until the next installment).

If you can’t already tell, the plot of this thing jumps around a lot. That’s to be expected since its basically three chapters of the Nostradamus serial edited into a feature length movie. The problem with the film is that it’s filled with a lot of long talky scenes in between the cool stuff. What makes these scenes especially hard to take is that the dialogue mostly consists of nothing but mind-numbing exposition that is often repeated. The film also suffers from a pitifully weak ending too.

The film’s main source of entertainment comes from watching the one and only German Robles. His Nostradamus has to be one of the ten best vampire performances in 60’s horror cinema. He’s suave and ruthless, and acts like a goddamned pimp throughout the whole film.

The Monsters Demolisher is also loaded with atmosphere. There’s a scene where a guy is sent to the gallows that’s pretty cool and the part where a vampire rises off a slab in the morgue is genuinely creepy too. We also get a pretty badass scene where our hero tries to shoot Nostradamus, but he keeps vanishing into thin air. And despite its faults, The Monsters Demolisher features everything you could want from a Mexican horror flick. It’s got giant bats, hunchback assistants, decrepit castles, and of course, horrible/hilarious dubbing.

A morgue attendant gets the best line of the movie when he says, “This corpse is fresher than a head of lettuce!”

(And just so you know, the names of the Nostradamus movies are; in order: Curse of Nostradamus, The Monsters Demolisher, Genie of Darkness, and The Blood of Nostradamus.)

HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER (1958) ****

As wonderful as I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein were; this sequel is even better. Long before Wes Craven did New Nightmare, How to Make a Monster was providing the same kind of reel-horror-becomes-real thrills. It also happens to be one of the best horror films of the 50’s.

Pete (Robert H. Harris) is a make-up man who’s been working at AIP studios for over 25 years. He’s in the midst of production on “Werewolf vs. Frankenstein” when the studio is bought out by new investors who send out an edict: No more monster movies. And that of course means Pete is out of a job. Pete goes nuts and with a little bit of help from his sniveling assistant; he sets out for revenge. First, he imbues his make-up with drugs that puts the actors under a hypnotic spell. Pete then sends the made-up actors out to kill the new production heads. In addition, he also makes himself up as a monster to kill a nosy security guard who comes snooping around his workshop.

Man oh man; is this a brilliant film or what? It deftly updates the classic mad scientist premise into the Golden Era of Hollywood. Of course, instead of a mad scientist, it’s a mad make-up man. And if you loved I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Frankenstein, this movie is guaranteed to knock your socks off. What better way to get them together on screen than to have them running around the AIP back lot? It’s just pure genius.

Speaking of the AIP back lot, this movie gives a great look at the behind the scenes goings on at the studio. There’s also a cool scene in Harris’ house where he has all of his creations mounted on the wall. AIP fans will easily be able to tell that they’re actually Paul Blaisdell’s masks from Invasion of the Saucer Men, It Conquered the World, and The She Creature (which is kind of ironic given that Blaisdell was also fired from the studio). The full color sequence at the end is pretty sweet too.

The only thing that would’ve made How to Make a Monster better is if they were able to get Michael Landon to reprise his role as the werewolf again. (Gary Clarke does a fine job filling his shoes though.) Luckily, Gary Conway is still around to play the Teenage Frankenstein, so it’s all good.

And if you’re looking for unintended laughs, look no further than John Ashley’s musical number. He sings a wonderfully awful song while chicks that look like low rent versions of The Rockettes dressed up like dominatrixes dance around. Goddamn, did I mention I love this movie?

A cop gets the best line in the film when he says, “A Hollywood murder is okay on the screen, but not in the studio!”

How to Make a Monster is Number 6 on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1958; sandwiched in between Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and Horror of Dracula.

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