Wednesday, February 23

Can vampires "rise" to the occasion?

You know, there’s something that’s bugging me. I think it first hit home while watching an episode of True Blood, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized vampire stories, which seem to be all the rage nowadays, all pretty much miss or ignore this altogether. What’s bugging me is vampire sex, and, more specifically, vampire erections.


There’s a lot of sex in True Blood. It’s an essential part of the story. Vampires are getting it on left and right, with humans and non-humans alike. Nothing new there, really – vampires have had sexual overtones since Lugosi’s Dracula (and one could argue the scene of Nosferatu feeding on the flesh of Ellen is ripe with sensuality, too). But sensuality/sexual overtones and outright sex are two different things. Over the years the movies have gotten more violent and the sex more graphic. They now show things that were only hinted at in the early films. Vampires nowadays are, to quote Star Trek, fully functional, (and quite horny). But shouldn’t this be impossible?


I mean, granted, we are talking about pure speculative fiction here anyway, and I’m probably over-thinking this way too much. But what causes an erection is good old fashioned blood flow to the private parts. Vampires are dead – their hearts no longer beat. They would and should be incapable of getting wood as blood no longer flows in their veins. It sits, stale and souring, never moving unless the skin is punctured in some way (which brings to mind another thought – can a vampire heal from a wound?). It’s why their skin is cold – they have no body temperature. They are literally cold blooded killers.

Now some may argue it is magic that makes this possible, in which case there is no counter to that logic. But if you want to break it down in physiological terms, it ain’t happening. And sorry guys, Viagra wouldn’t help. Again, it’s based on a blood flow that we’ve already established is non-existent.

So guess that’s just another unfortunate part of the curse for male vampires. Kind of makes Michael's choice of party all day, sleep all night just a little less tempting now, doesn’t it, guys?

"What Do Cute Versions of Monsters Tell Us About Horror?"

That is a good question, and one that the LOTTD (League of Tana Tea Drinkers - see link in sidebar) folks decided to toss out as a round-robin style post. I initially wasn’t going to write on the topic, as I didn’t think I had much to contribute. But on deeper reflection I rather liked the subject, and decided to go ahead and add my two cents worth. To me, the topici begs one question…

Why cutesy monsters? They’re everywhere, especially around Halloween. You can’t turn around without seeing a cartoon Frankenstein monster or Dracula or any number of other monsters. But why?

In 1931 both of the examples above were legitimately scary films. Audiences were thrilled and horrified, to quote Van Sloan. Over time, however, the monsters in those movies became familiar, and what was once scary lost its edge. The monster rallies of the 40’s needed multiple monsters to provide the thrills of earlier films. Times change, people change, and the things they fear change. Clunky black and white slow-paced movies gave way to Technicolor terrors and splattering horrors. Lumbering monsters and horrors from the deep gave way to fears of nuclear disaster. The ante was constantly raised to keep up with peoples evolving sensibilities. With the passing of each generation the frights of the past became less relevant.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. Folks look back through the haze of time and want to revisit the fond memories of their youth, and also to share these memories with their children. Thus happier, family friendly versions of monsters are born, fit for public consumption and sanitized for your protection. Once scary creatures, no longer scary by modern standards, are embraced as cultural icons. Cute versions of monsters and murderers pop up not so much to celebrate heinous acts of murder but rather to celebrate the joys of the past. Movies are an escape, and people like to revisit their favorite escape from the past. What cute monsters tell us about ourselves is that we as a species are constantly changing, and our idea of what is scary changes along with us.

Other LOTT-D posts in this Round-Robin Discussion:
http://monstermagazineworld.blogspot.com/
http://www.theofantastique.com/2011/02/22/lottd-reflections-cute-monsters-and-horror/
http://www.cinema-suicide.com/2011/02/23/tea-drinkers-roundtable-by-the-pricking-of-my-thumbs-something-adorable-this-way-comes/
http://classic-horror.com/newsreel/the_haunted_mansion_keeping_the_faith
http://thevaultofhorror.blogspot.com/2011/02/monster-cereals-eating-what-scares-us.html
http://groovyageofhorror.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-do-cute-versions-of-monsters-tell.html
http://www.strangekidsclub.com/?p=4180
http://drunkenseveredhead.blogspot.com/2011/02/nightmarish-neoteny.html
http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2011/03/cutey-funny-part-1.html
http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2011/03/cutey-funny-part-2.html 
http://www.zomboscloset.com/zombos_closet_of_horror_b/2011/03/cute-monsters-and-identification-with-the-terror.html

Friday, February 18

Westmore Original Wolfman Prototype Mask!

Check out this awesome original mask by Bud Westmore. This is coming up for auction soon. It's a prototype mask for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein - here's the description...

This prototype wolf man mask comes directly from the Westmore estate. Crafted from foam rubber and unspecified animal hair, it was made circa the late 1940s, and is believed to be a prototype created for use in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). (The presence of hook-and-eye closures on the back suggest it was intended for practical use.) Rejected by Universal, it was boxed and stored by Westmore, which explains the relatively fantastic condition that it is in some six decades later.



Thursday, February 17

It's Rondo Time again!!


The 9th Annual Rondo awards were announced on Sunday, and I am proud to announce Dr. Gangrene is nominated for 4 Rondos - Best Horror Host, Best Live Event (Wonderfest Live Show), Best Website, and Best Short Film (for the Dreadful Hallogreen Special!)

To see the complete Ballot and vote go to http://www.rondoaward.com/
 
and remember vote Doc Gangrene in categories 9, 15, 18 & 19!!
 
 
VOTING ENDS MARCH 27, 2011

Wednesday, February 16

Recurring Characters on Chiller Cinema/Creature Feature

At the Paranormal Fest in Murfreesboro TN a few months back I met Blake Powell, the director of the horror host program Midnite Mausoleum (starring Marlena Midnight - see post here) He is a really cool guy, and I enjoyed hanging out with him. Over lunch we talked and compared notes on our shows, and during the course of our conversation he asked me about Oogsley, the hunchbacked lab assistant on my original show, Chiller Cinema. In particular he was curious about the original Oogsley, the one in the first batch of shows.

The topic also came recently in a podcast interview I did with a guy named James Downing (Monsters from the basement – see article). There have been quite a few recurring characters through the years, so I thought I’d take a minute and recognize the ones that have popped up on both shows, Chiller Cinema and Creature Feature, over the years…

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Oogsley #1 – The first recurring character on Chiller Cinema was Oogsley, the hunchback lab assistant. The original Oogsley bore a striking resemblance to the Doc Gangrene physique-wise, leading many viewers to (correctly) guess that perhaps both characters were played by the same actor.  I originally thought it would be funny to have both played by the same person, with the audience in on the joke - and it was for a while, but eventually I thought it would be better to have an Oogsley that I could interact with.



Major Monterey Jack - Monster hunter and bumbling idiot, Major Monterey each week took viewers on a (mostly) unsuccessful hunt for a different monster on Shackle Island. Major Monterey was also played by me.







Barnaby Bones – Barnaby Bones was a wisecracking skull in a cage that resided in the Gangrene laboratories. He was a constant source of irritation with his sarcasm and never ending stream of bad jokes.


Madam Fortune – Mystic and fortune teller Madame Fortune made several appearances on Chiller Cinema in the early days. She was usually consulted when an unexplained paranormal event occurred or when someone needed their fortune told. Madame Fortune was played by my wife, Karlee.

Oogsley # 2 – The second Oogsley came on the scene at the end of season one. Dimwitted and clumsy, he never ceased to frustrate Doc Gangrene. Oogsley eventually disappeared one day while hunting for crickets in the catacombs and never returned. Oogsley #2 was played by Brandon Lunday.









Icky the Putrid Postman – Icky was the ill tempered mail clerk on Shackle Island. One day he lost a mail delivery to a gypsy and gave her the cold shoulder about it – afterwards she cursed him to forever deliver mail to the dead. Icky bears an uncanny resemblance to Oogsley 2…Icky was also played by Brandon Lunday.


Nurse Deadbody – The sexy Nurse Deadbody came onto the scene for a season on Shackle Island and brought a bit of sanity, along with heaps of sarcasm, to the lab. She was played by my wife, Karlee. She eventually left to take a better job at a medical facility on the other side of the island.




Nurse Moan-eek – In season 5 the bubbly Nurse Moan-eek took a position in the Gangrene Laboratories. The Doc’s late Uncle Mortimer lost his entire fortune in the great pumpkin famine, and all he had left to will to his nephew was his faithful Nurse, Moan-eek. Gangrene always suspected Mortimer secretly hated him, as Moan-eek’s help was often less than helpful. Moan-eek was played by Linda Wylie.







Otto Von Lump – Ordered from a Mad Scientists magazine, Lump took employment on Shackle Island for a season. He was a dimwitted assistant (is there any other kind?) with a hunch back and large scar down his face. Otto was played by Paul Browning.

Gibson the Undead Rocker – This rocker’s tour bus crashed just outside the Gangrene estate and Gibson found himself not dead yet not quite alive. He took up residence in Gangrene Manor and he would jam with Gangrene, often working up songs based around that evening’s movie. Gibson was played by John Hudson.

Tuesday, February 15

New Dick Tracy Writer a Horrorhost?

I found out a piece of really cool news recently - Mike Curtis, a.k.a. former TV horror host Count Basil, will be taking over the writing duties for the Dick Tracy comic strip!

If you remember I interviewed Mike for Scary Monsters magazine, and also reprinted the interview here. Mike will be taking over the writing duties in March after longtime writer/cartoonist Dick Locher retires.

Also joining Mike on the Tracy strip is another Tennessean, artist Joe Staton. Curtis and Staton's work will appear in print beginning the week of March 14.


Saturday, February 12

Monsters from the Basement Podcast Interview


 I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with James Downing from Monsters from the Basement podcast recently. We got together at Starbucks (didn't know we had Starbucks on Shackle Island did you?)  and talked for a while about my show, how I got my start and more. Check it out!!
http://monstersfromthebasement.com/interviews/doctor-gangrene/

Help Save the House of Poe!

My good friend Mark Redfield, filmmaker in the Baltimore, MD area, just clued me in on a disturbing event that YOU can help. The city of Baltimore has cut funding to the historic Poe House and Museum in Baltimore. After 2012 they won't fund it any longer.

Wednesday, February 9

New Midnight Syndicate CD coming in August!



The circus is coming to town... Midnight Syndicate is in the studio working on a new CD entitled Carnival Arcane, with an anticipated release date in early August.

Pay no attention to the rumors, the Lancaster-Rigby Carnival is alive and well and awaits you just beyond the outskirts of town. Bring your wives and children for an unforgettable night of entertainment from the four corners of the globe, and be sure to enjoy a ride on our Grand Carousel. But hurry ~ as this once in a lifetime opportunity is only here for a limited time!

Friday, February 4

In looking through John Agar's credits on IMDB I kept noticing one other name in several of the films he made - Nestor Paiva. Nestor played Captain Lucas in both Creature from the Black Lagoon and the sequel, Revenge of the Creature.

But Nestor and Agar also appeared together in the Universal classics Tarantula and The Mole People. I decided to check to see if they had done any other work together, and found that they appeared together in a total of 13 TV shows too. The two were undoubtedly well acquainted, and most likely friends, despite the fact Nestor was 16 years John's senior.

The following is a list of the movies and TV shows where they appeared together, in chronological order. Oh, and one other thing about Nestor that jumped out at me - he died on my exact birthday, Sept. 9. 1966. Kinda strange...

Agar and Paiva Collaborations...

FILMS:
Revenge of the Creature - 1955
Tarantula - 1955
The Mole People - 1956


TELEVISION:
The Ford Television Theatre 1952
Death Valley Days 1952
The Unexpected 1952
G.E. True Theater 1953
The Loretta Young Show 1953
Climax! 1954
The Gale Storm Show 1956
Perry Mason 1957
Whirlybirds 1957
Lawman 1958
Rawhide 1959
The Virginian 1962
Family Affair 1966

Thursday, February 3

A Conversation with John Agar III


This interview originally ran in Scary Monsters Magazine #76. I had the pleasure of speaking with John Agar's son, John Agar III. I thought this would be the perfect time to post that here - enjoy!!

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I recently got an email that really made my day. It was from John Agar… the third. This is the son of the late John Agar we all know and love, the one who fought THE MOLE PEOPLE, defeated THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, and battled a gigantic arachnid in TARANTULA. The younger Agar was writing to thank me for all the kind things I had said about his dad over the years in reviews and Youtube clips. John and I struck up a correspondence and spoke on the phone several times. He agreed to do an interview with me about his dad, his dad's work, and growing up with a famous father.




Doc G - Hi John, and thanks for taking some time to talk with me about your dad. So tell me a bit about growing up the son of John Agar. Did your friends know about your father and his career, and if so what was their reaction?

J.A. - Most of my friends were very aware of his career and were really cool about it. They would always comment on just how easy going and grounded he was - no ego, just a real nice guy. They always wanted to know what living with Shirley Temple was like and they would ask about John Wayne and Clint Eastwood and ask about his experiences on the sets and stuff like that. He would always take the time to chat with them and they all liked him a lot.

Doc G - You share his name – you must get a lot of comments when you tell folks your name is John Agar – probably a lot of fond memories of your father.

J.A. - Not so often anymore, although when I say my name some of the older folks I run into or film buffs like yourself will comment, “There was an Actor named John Agar…,” and I love the shock value of saying “Hey that’s funny, I have a Dad who was an actor named John Agar.” It’s a great conversation starter and I love to talk about my father, I miss him so damn much. It’s been 8 years since we lost him and 10 years since the passing of my Mother Loretta, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of one of them for a second or two. I loved them dearly and they were great parents, and ultimately great friends too...that’s an awesome and rare thing, being older now I can see that.

Doc G - Are you a fan of horror or Science Fiction movies?

J.A. - Absolutely!! In a big way I have always been a big sci-fi and horror buff.

Doc G - Did you see any of your dad’s movies on the big screen?

J.A. - Well I saw all of his later films like the KING KONG premiere and NIGHTBREED and of course MIRACLE MILE and a lot of the more recent work. I have seen a lot of the old Universal stuff at sci-fi conventions and what not.

Doc G - Did you ever go to the set with your dad when you were younger?


J.A. - I was on the set of JOHN CARPENTER’S BODY BAGS where Dad worked with Mark Hamill, Twiggy, Roger Corman and David Cronenberg. I was at most of his later shoots… I would go with him to raid the Craft service tables (Lol).

Doc G - I understand you also got to go on the set of KING KONG with your dad. Tell me your memories of that.


J.A. - Basically just getting full run of the entire area around the World Trade Center and getting to meet the Cast and also seeing the view from the top floor (roof). We got to see a very large mock up of King Kong in the Plaza area - it was a lot of fun.

Doc G - The BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS is definitely one of my favorite films that your dad made. I understand he had difficulties on set with that one?

J.A. - Yeah he sure did. They had him in these Silver contact lenses that were flaking off silver paint in his eyes. To the day he died he blamed this movie and those flecks of paint on his eye problems. What we will endure for art, huh?

Doc G - I believe John was injured while making one of his later films…

J.A. - Yes, that was the movie FEAR with Ally Sheedy. At one point they were shooting him with a Shotgun and he falls back into a table. If you watch it was real brutal and obvious that the actor (my dad) took a real jolt. He actually cracked his ribs, but refused to tell anyone and finished shooting. He was almost 70 at this point.

Doc G - What did your dad think about his films when they would air on television? Did he watch them?

J.A. - We would often sit up together when we lived in Burbank and sometimes I would get him to watch an old film with me. He would tell great stories about specific scenes and events at commercials, although I feel that this was just for me and he could really care less. He was in them and they were old work…some people plumb, my father acted. A lot of it was a job, but he loved the fans with an awesome and true reverence.

Doc G - Do you remember if he mentioned any of his own films that were his favorite?


J.A. - I really remember that he felt especially proud of his early work, SANDS OF IOWA JIMA, FORT APACHE and YELLOW RIBBON. I do recall that he mentioned HOLD BACK TOMORROW, too. I don’t think he really had a specific favorite just a lot of great memories of the experiences of working on some more than others.

Doc G - How about you? Any of your dad’s movies, particular his sci-fi/horror films, that are your favorite?


J.A. - Definitely, BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS and all the better Universal stuff like the THE MOLE PEOPLE. Like I said, I am a big sci-fi buff so how lucky was it to be the son of the greatest “B” sci-fi guy ever?

Doc G - Ever meet any other famous actors or directors who were friends of your fathers?

J.A. - Tons, where do I start? Richard Webb (Captain Midnight) was his great friend and they would always go to Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio city for a breakfast club called Jockos breakfast club (Jocko Mahoney the Range Rider). I met all the old stars like Gene Autry and Pat Buttram, and over the years I met a lot of the old time big stars like Bob Hope, Glenn Ford, Eddie Bracken and we were always at greets and functions and parties.

He knew John Wayne, of course, who would call every year to wish us a Merry Christmas. I know that he was very close with a lot of character actors like Jim Davis from DALLAS and John Larch (played Bill Mumy’s Dad in a famous TWILIGHT ZONE episode) and I know he loved to Golf and he played with all the old greats like Bob Hope, etc.

Doc G - You were telling me that Ed Wood used to call the house from time to time?

J.A. - Yeah, I remember it to this day; a Guy calls the house and says, “Hello, This is Ed Wood the Producer.” I of course went to my mother and said “Hey there an important call for Dad, its Ed Wood the Producer,” at which point my mother doubles over with laughter and then tells my father that he has a call from Ed Wood the Producer. He took the call immediately, that’s how he was.

Doc G - He never worked with Ed did he?

J.A. - Oh no. My dad was in some real B-movies in his time, but he had standards... I believe he may have even been helping Ed with an AA related issue at the time…

Doc G - You mentioned that you had worked a little in effects for a movie – tell me about that.


J.A. - I used to work for a Technology Company called Micropolis and they made the first AV rated hard drives in the 90’s, (Avid non linear editing systems OEM Drives ). I sold these to effects houses and a lot of Studios. Todd Rundgren and Graham Nash both did PR films for our products and they were used in a lot of the work like FOREST GUMP and TRUE LIES and the first TOY STORY. I sold the equipment that was used, not any of the actual creative work.

Doc G - OK, I have to ask about something. I know there was a Dinosaur Park in Arkansas that had John Agar’s name attached at one point. Can you tell me about that and how did his name come to be associated with it?

J.A. - Well, that’s actually sorta funny. My mother was in Real Estate and her friend / broker June Davidson bought land in a Beautiful part of Arkansas called Eureka Springs. Well there was this old Dinosaur Park there that was built by some guy as a roadside attraction, and June and her husband Ken Childs bought it and as a sorta joke / idea. They renamed it John Agar’s Land of Kong as a tie in to KING KONG (and a cheesy way to make a dollar), and my Dad said sure whatever. We went there once and they had hung up a huge painted King Kong and a picture of the Ayatollah Khomeini with a rope around his neck, very popular at the time (1979).

Doc G - Your father was married at one time to Shirley Temple. I understand they divorced and didn't quite part on the best of terms.

J.A. - Yeah, my Father was always very protective of that part of his life. I do know that he was even written about in a book by Mrs. Black where she really tore into him and wrote some very hurtful and misleading things - realize that this is literally 25 years plus later.

When we saw those words it hurt us, my Brother and I, in a big way. That’s our Dad and this person is telling outright lies and we knew it. We would say, “Dad say something,” and he wouldn’t let us tell anyone anything. He wouldn’t even deny things or say a thing, regardless if he knew they were false or true, by hospital records or verifiable written records.

He would just not say anything. Well, in the end he proved to me what the bigger thing to do is. I do know that I can’t be that strong and have made my feelings known now that he is gone….but did you know that she was the last person he spoke to on the phone before he passed ?

Doc G - Your father is fondly remembered by fans worldwide, and I appreciate your taking the time to talk a bit about him and your own experiences as well.

J.A. - Well, thank YOU for the respect and reverence you’ve shown my father. My dad was aware that some of his later films were less than CITIZEN KANE, but he always put his heart into his work and loved his fans. He told me that if even one person gets enjoyment of his work then he’s done his job. I wanted to personally thank you for the very nice way you remember him, if you ever met him you would know he was just a real sweet man.

Tuesday, February 1

Top 10 John Agar Sci-fi Films

Greetings fright fans – continuing our celebration of John Agar week here at the weblab, I thought I’d count down the top ten John Agar Science Fiction movies. John never made any pure horror movies, but was in plenty of sci-fi films, and several of those had horror overtones. I’ve been meaning to do this countdown for some time now, so this gives me the perfect opportunity. These are my personal favorite of Agar’s films, and a must-see for the Agar aficionados out there.


So without further adieu…


TOP TEN JOHN AGAR SCI-FI FILMS

10. Night Fright (1967) 

A secret military rocket crashes in the woods, and a couple of teenagers are murdered nearby shortly afterwards. Local sheriff Clint Crawford (John Agar) heads out to investigate. It turns out some type of creature has escaped from the rocket, and is killing off locals – and it’s up to none other than our boy John Agar to put a stop to it!



One thing I like about this movie is it has a bona fide monster in it. Sure, maybe we never get a good look at it, and maybe the scenes featuring this monster are poorly lit, and maybe the monster is nothing more than a man in a cheap monster suit… but that’s all part of the charm of Night Fright.

I have a personal soft spot for this one. There may be some John Agar science fiction films that didn’t make this list that are technically better, but I find this one a lot of fun. It is a b-movie of the highest b-movie degree -Low budget filmmaking, acting, script, and costuming, especially where the monster is concerned.



9. Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)

Another science fiction b-movie that is considered a real dog by many, a gem by others. In this one a United Nations space ship is headed for exploration of the planet Uranus. They land on the planet and find not the inhospitable gaseous environment they expected, but instead a lush forest and breathable atmosphere. They also discover this planet has sprung right from the mind of one of the crew members, as it is a recreation of woods he played in as a child. They quickly figure out that things from their imagination come to life, and our boy John begins conjuring up hotties from his past. Hubba hubba! All of this is too good to be true, of course, and the culprit behind it all is a giant one-eyed brain creature that wants to take over the Earth.

This is cheesy sci-fi at its best, the kind of movies you’d see on the tee-vee any given Saturday back when I was a kid. Man I miss these types of movies. Corny space costumes, blinking light control panels, stiff dialogue, bad special effects, and monsters. What more could a kid ask for?

 


8. Invisible invaders (1959)

Attack of the Johns here, as both Agar and Carradine appear in this one. Humans have become too much of a threat, what with their bombs, radiation and nuclear tests. Invisible aliens from outer space (actually the moon, where they have lived for thousands of years unbeknownst to humans) have invaded the Earth, intent on taking over and killing all humans. They are invisible in our atmosphere, and able to possess the bodies of the dead and control them.

This was made actually one year AFTER Plan 9 – could it be possible they lifted plot ideas from Ed Wood? John Agar plays Major Bruce Jay, and it’s up to him to stop this alien threat. Good b-movie science fiction fare here – aliens, zombies, John Carradine and John Agar – what’s not to like?





7. Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957)

This one was directed by Edgar Ulmer (The Black Cat) and stars John Agar and Gloria Talbott. An orphaned woman is bringing her fiancé home on her 21st birthday. She is told that she is actually the daughter of the infamous Dr. Jekyll. Soon thereafter a series of murders begin to occur, and she suspects that she has somehow inherited her father’s curse – kind of like a cross between werewolfism and a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. And why not – after all, they’re both really the same story from different angles, aren’t they?

This is probably the closest thing that Agar came to an actual horror movie (at least in those where he played a lead role), besides cameos in movies late in his career. Good movie with atmosphere, monsters, and a mystery to boot.



6. Attack of the Puppet People (1958)

Director Bert I. Gordon (Amazing Colossal Man) steers us squarely back into mad scientist territory here – a lonely scientist/doll maker creates a machine that can shrink living beings. He keeps them in suspended animation in tiny glass jars, taking them out like little living dolls for his own amusement when bored. Among those he shrinks are his new secretary, Sally (June Kenny), and her fiancé, Bob (John Agar). That was his first mistake. You just know John ain’t gonna take this without a fight!

Ridiculous rubber science fun in this movie – Ole Gordon had a real thing for shrinking and enlarging, didn’t he?







5. Hand of Death (1962) 

I love this movie. In it John Agar plays a scientist named Alex Marsh. He develops a new nerve gas when there is an accident in the lab and he’s exposed to the gas. His body becomes a lethal weapon, killing anyone it comes in contact with… and even worse, it causes him to transform into a hideous creature that looks just like the Thing from Marvel’s Fantastic Four! He goes mad, (yet another fun little side effect of this nerve agent) and runs on a rampage in Los Angeles. The police work with his fiancée to try to stop him before it’s too late…

This movie was thought to be a lost film for years until a print surfaced. Still somewhat rare, it is a fun film. Agar transforms into a monster, one of the few times he doesn’t play the dashing lead.




4. The Mole People (1956)

Agar teams up with Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) in this Universal not so classic. Archaeologists (Agar and Beaumont) working on a remote mountain stumble upon a lost civilization buried deep within the mountain in a series of caves. There they find a race of albino humans who have slaves called The Mole Men – human forms, with monster heads and hands, they are a subjugated, mistreated race. Beaumont and Agar eventually lead the Mole Men in revolution against their captors, and try to escape back to the surface.

This is a lesser known Universal movie that has a really cool looking monster in the Mole Men. Bud Westmore was the makeup man on this one, and I really love the Mole Men’s look, especially when they come crawling up out of the ground.




3. Revenge of the Creature (1955)

1955 was a big year for John Agar, as he appeared in not one but two Universal movies that would go on to become classics. This is one of them – in this, the first sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon, John Agar plays scientist Clete Ferguson. He and a group of scientists head back to the Black Lagoon to capture the creature. Among this group are fellow scientists Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) and Joe Hays (John Bromfield). They manage to to capture the creature and return with it to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida. Along the way Helen falls for the charms of Clete (naturally). But he isn’t the only one, as the creature himself has taken a hankering for Helen, and wants to show her some good old fashioned prehistoric lovin’.

GREAT movie that many believe superior to the original. I personally don’t subscribe to that theory, but then this one does have John Agar, so maybe there is something to that, after all… and a cameo by none other than Clint Eastwood himself!



2. The Brain from Planet Arous (1957) – John plays a scientist (I’m sensing a trend here) named Steve March. He’s conducting field work in the desert when he encounters an evil alien entity named Gor. Gor is a malevolent floating brain with glowing eyes that enters March’s body, possessing him. This alien is bad – and horny. He delights in the female variety of humans, and has incredible destructive telekinetic powers to boot. Will Agar be able to escape the clutches and control of Gor?

In many ways this is the ultimate John Agar film! John gets to chew some serious scenery in this one and makes the most of it, hamming it up and giving a true over the top performance. The alien is a giant, floating brain with glowing eyes! Amazing! Agar does such a great job playing the evil/possessed March that you can really tell he was enjoying the part. A must-see for Agar fans!





1. Tarantula (1955)

Tarantula is directed by the great Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, Incredible Shrinking Man, It Came from Outer Space). Another mad science movie, the mad scientist this time is played by Leo G. Carroll as Professor Gerald Deemer. He has created a special nutrient to help with the world’s food shortage. Problem is he has also been experimenting on a variety of live subjects as well. Among these is a tarantula that escapes into the wilderness and continues to grow to gigantic proportions. It is up to Agar (the town doctor), and Corday (the professor’s assistant), to stop this creature. They get an unexpected hand from none other than Clint Eastwood and the Air Force! Clint Eastwood and Agar together - what creature could hope to survive such odds? None, that is a certainty!

When I sat down to make this list there was no doubt what my top film would be. For my money this is by far the best sci-fi movie Agar ever made, if not the best overall movie. Highly recommended, this is probably my favorite giant monster movie.

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