Although it still sadly lacks a legit U.S. DVD release, fans of The Boogens can at least set their DV-Rs to record the film tonight when it plays on Turner Classic Movies at 2:30 a.m.
The film was helmed by busy TV director James L. Conway, who was also responsible for Sunn Classic projects like The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977) and Hangar 18 (1980), and produced by Charles E. Sellier, Jr., a Utah filmmaking institution who not only worked with the prolific Sunn, but also directed the notorious Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).
"The Boogens" are scaly, turtle-like critters that emerge from an old silver mine to munch on a cast that includes future Mrs. Conway Rebecca Balding (Silent Scream, Soap), Fred McCarren, Jeff Harlan, and a lot of Coors beer.
It's a fun little movie that has been out of print for years, so if you have a chance be sure to take in the TCM broadcast. I'm hoping to dig up a copy of Stephen King's review of the film for the old Twilight Zone magazine ("Digging the Boogens") so I can post some excerpts later. I'd also like to find a copy of the novelization.
You can read an interview with Conway on John Kenneth Muir's blog. Clips and trailer below.
There's already been much written about Mr. Harold P. Warren's singular foray into surrealist low-budget cinema, the inscrutable Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), so I won't bore you with a recap -- the movie itself is boring enough. If you haven't experienced Manos, you should do so at least once. You will never be the same.
We JUST finished putting the final manuscript for the book together, and The Dead Next Door (the book) is on its way for a review by the publisher. To celebrate the end of this long slough, I thought I'd post a few choice quotes from some of the interviewees featured in the book. Enjoy!
"Porn and horror, and even Lawrence of Arabia, are all basically the same exercise. You put people in front of a camera, you put film in the camera, and you push the button. Okay?"
--Ed Adlum, producer, Invasion of the Blood Farmers
"I used to think Humanoids [From Atlantis] was the worst, but everybody kept telling me it wasn't as bad as Robot Ninja. Humanoids at least -- I can't say that it saves itself, but it's got the fake ending, which everybody seems to like for some reason. I don't know why. Neither of them are good movies. It's like comparing two piles of dog crap."
--J.R. Bookwalter, director, Robot Ninja
"Did I feel prescient? I was proud that I knew that the Watergate thing was bigger than everybody thought it was. I was very concerned about the film being successful so I could get some traction in the business, which seemed to be separate from my own discomfort about getting rid of this guy as president. But who knew that we would get subsequent presidents who would be far worse? That's totally unimaginable. You thought the dark ages were over when Nixon resigned. Clearly they weren't. They were just beginning."
--Milton Moses Ginsberg, director, The Werewolf of Washington
"The film played eight years, every year, on 42nd Street. The first year it played I went to a screening. I was sitting there with the audience, and when he flies off at the end they all threw stuff at the screen. They threw popcorn, sodas. The audience went wild. They threw everything they could get their hands on."
--Lewis Jackson, director, Christmas Evil
"That movie, when we got it done, we all had this idea that it was going to be great and wonderful, and the world would beat a path to our door. All the distributors were going to come flocking around and making outrageous bids. We were going to make millions of dollars and live happily ever after and make movies and have a wonderful life."
--Larry Stouffer, director, Horror High
"The son of a bitch calls me about eight o'clock at night, and wants me to send him a thousand dollars. He's in jail. My lead bad guy is in jail, and he wants me to bail him out so he can come out and play the part!"
If you live near Chicago, you've already missed hometown fave The Wizard of Gore (Sept. 30) and Don't Look in the Basement (Oct. 7), but you have the unique opportunity of seeing a rare 35mm print of Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971) this Thursday, Oct. 14, at 9:30.
Other upcoming titles include Joy Houck's Night of the Strangler (Oct. 21), the Texas film Enter the Devil (Oct. 28), J.G. Patterson's The Body Shop (Nov. 4), Bill Rebane's Blood Harvest (Nov. 11, with Tiny Tim!), the California film The Child (Nov. 18), and another great Louisiana rarity, Screams of a Winter Night (Dec. 2).
The Beast From the Beginning of Time (1965) Wichita, Kansas
When Kansas horror host Tom Leahy (a.k.a. "The Host") died earlier this year, he not only left behind several decades worth of fond memories for Wichita residents who had grown up watching "The Host and Rodney," he also left us with some half-whispered rumors about an otherwise unheard of movie called The Beast From the Beginning of Time.
Leahy starred as an unearthed caveman who is driven to kill whenever he hears the sound of thunder. Produced by the staff of local TV station KARD, the film remained unreleased until it finally debuted on Wichita television in 1981. It later screened at the Wichita Orpheum Theater in 2005.
It also aired as an episode of Joel Sanderson/Gunther Dedmond's Basement Sublet of Horror, and you can view the entire episode featuring this rare film here.
While I was researching The Dead Next Door, Sanderson helpfully provided a copy of the film, along with another Wichita flick called King Kung Fu (1976) in which Leahy appeared, and the newspaper article below that was published before the film's TV debut.
You can also download the B Movie Cast podcast about the film here.
The Dead Next Door is a blog about regional or "backyard" horror and science fiction films made from the late 1950s to the earlyl 1990s (and beyond). These films were released during the peak years of independent film production, created by a motley crew of seasoned pros, gifted amateurs, and enthusiastic genre fans, along with dozens of eccentric dreamers -- doctors, lawyers, insurance salesmen, publishers, commercial filmmakers, TV production crews and moonlighting pornographers -- all looking for their big break or a fast buck or both.