January 12, 2012

Spy Smasher vs. The Purple Monster by Bill Black

Recently I was discussing filmmaker DON GLUT with Chris Casteel. Both Don and I made amateur horror movies when we were in high school… back in the dark ages, pre video, using 8mm cameras with no sound. Although we lived over a thousand miles apart and never knew of each other, our films were very similar and I wondered if Don, a real filmmaker later in life, had ever released his old ama-films on DVD as I had with CARNAGE OF DRACULA? Chris jumped on this immediately and pointed me to youtube where Don has his early efforts there for all to view. Wow! He made a lot of films! Even though they are crude (as were mine) I get a big kick out of watching these as I know from my own experiences what it took to assemble these epics.

First you had to talk your friends into acting in the movies, then because they helped you out you had to live with stiff body movements and the inevitable inappropriate smile that was impossible to edit out. Shooting on film is tricky. So much footage is too dark or washed out. You don’t find this out until much later when the film gets back from processing. But it was too expensive to re-film so you lived with it. Splices where clips are edited together hit you in the face like a slap they are that obvious. Don and I both used models (the spaceship kind, not the babe kind), scratched the emulsion to get “ray gun” effects and even painted effects by hand on to those tiny, tiny frames!

One of the best Don created was his homage to the great Republic serials, “SPY SMASHER VS. THE PURPLE MONSTER.” This is a short action film broken into chapters. Filmed in B&W, Don catches the atmosphere of the old cliffhangers. A big plus to his production here is near bang on perfect costumes for the title characters…. and, he used REAL GUNS!!

Later in my life after finishing college and a hitch in the army, I tried my hand at making a Republic type serial as Don Glut had done years earlier. In homage to such titles as ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE, I titled my effort BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE (available now on DVD or instant download as Bloodfiend from Outer Space).

There’s more to this story of course… but you’ll have to come back tomorrow to hear the next chapter of this thrilling┬átale in true cliffhanger tradition.