HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER An early meta horror movie – free online

  

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‘It will scare the living yell out of you!’
How to Make a Monster is a 1958 horror film about a sacked make-up artist who uses his creations to exact revenge.

Directed by Herbert L. Strock (The Crawling Hand; Blood of Dracula; I Was a Teenage Frankenstein) from a screenplay written by Aben Kandel (as Kenneth Langtry) and producer Herman Cohen.

How to Make a Monster is a follow-up to I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein.  It was filmed in black and white, with the final scenes in colour.

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Plot [contains spoilers]:
Pete Dumond, chief make-up artist for twenty-five years at American International Studios, is being fired because the studio has been purchased by NBN Associates. The new management from the East, Jeffrey Clayton and John Nixon, plan to make musicals and comedies instead of the horror pictures for which Pete has created his remarkable monster make-up and made the studio famous. In retaliation, Pete vows to use the very monsters these men have rejected to destroy them in revenge.

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By mixing a numbing ingredient into his foundation cream and persuading the young actors that their careers are through unless they place themselves in his power, he hypnotises both the unsuspecting Larry Drake and Tony Mantell (who are playing the characters the Teenage Werewolf and the Teenage Frankenstein, respectively, in the picture Werewolf Meets Frankenstein, currently shooting on the lot).

Through hypnosis, Pete urges Larry, in Teenage Werewolf make-up, to kill Nixon in the studio projection room. Later, he orders the unknowing Tony, in Teenage Frankenstein make-up, to attack Clayton and choke him to death after he arrives home at night in his 1958 Lincoln convertible. The next day, studio guard Monahan, an amateur detective, stops in at the make-up room. He shows Pete and Rivero, Pete’s make-up assistant, his little black book in which he has jotted down many interesting facts, such as the late time (9:12 PM) Pete and Rivero checked out the night of Jeffrey Clayton’s murder. He explains he hopes to work his way up to chief of security on the lot. Apprehensive, Pete makes himself up as a terrifying split-faced Caveman, one of his creations and kills Monahan in the studio commissary while Monahan makes his rounds that night.

Richards, the older guard, sees and hears nothing of the struggle, but discovers the missing Monahan’s body. Police investigators uncover two clues: a maid, Millie, describes Frankenstein’s monster (Tony, in make-up), who struck her down as he fled from the scene of Clayton’s murder, and the police laboratory technician discovers a peculiar ingredient in the make-up left on Clayton’s fingernails from his death struggle with Tony. The formula matches bits found in Pete’s old make-up room.

The police head for Pete’s house. Pete has taken Rivero, Larry and Tony to his home for a grim farewell party, his house being a museum of all the monsters he created in his twenty-five years at the studio. Pete, distrusting Rivero, stabs him todeath when they are alone in the kitchen. Learning that Larry and Tony are trying to leave the locked living room, he attacks them both with the knife.

Larry awkwardly knocks over a candelabra, setting the monster museum on fire, and Pete is burned to death, trying in vain to save the heads of his monstrous “children” mounted on the walls. The police break through the locked door just before the flames reach the boys, and they save Larry and Tony.

In recent years, the title has been used several times: for a song on Rob Zombie’s 1998 debut solo album, Hellbilly Deluxe; for a TV movie in 2001; for the name of the 2004 album by The Cramps; for a documentary on special make-up effects applications in 2005; and for an 8-minute short film in 2011.

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Reviews:
” …How to Make a Monster zips right along, aided by the fact that its premise allows it to incorporate action scenes from Teenage Frankenstein vs. the Teenage Werewolf whenever the main plot starts to bog down. And the comedic elements are surprisingly funny for 1958, relying more on sly jabs at the foolishness and absurdity of the movie business than on the juvenile slapstick more typical of late-50’s B-movies.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Some of the murder scenes are decent but there’s an awful lot of taking between. The color climax starts out moody and striking but it bogs itself down in stiff conversations. Harris makes the villain fun to follow but the teens should have had more screen time. Enjoy it as proto-postmodernism, and as self-promotion for AIP.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

“Dismally routine in the main, the film is given certain historical fascination by the backstage setting and litter of old props from AIP movies, including the head of the female horror from The She Creature (1956).” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“Unfortunately, the novelty of the film-within-a-film angle is not enough to carry the picture. The movie is more of a murder melodrama than an honest to goodness monster flick, and the details of the investigation grow tiresome. That’s not to say there aren’t some enjoyable scenes.” Exclamation Mark

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