How to Make a Monster – USA, 1958 – overview, reviews and Blu-ray news

How to Make a Monster will be released on Blu-ray by Scream Factory on May 26th 2020. Special features will be announced nearer the release date.

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‘It will scare the living yell out of you!’

How to Make a Monster is a 1958 American horror feature film 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. It was released by American International Pictures (AIP).

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

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Plot:

Pete Drummond, Chief Make-up Artist for twenty-five years at “American International Studios,” is pink-slipped by the new management from the East, Jeffrey Clayton and John Nixon, who 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. 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 Larry Drake and Tony Mantell, who are playing the characters Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein in the picture Werewolf Meets Frankenstein currently shooting on the lot.

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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 [click links to read more]:

” …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

“Herman Cohen horrifier bravely dare to mock its own genre, making its weak script […] and mediocre makeup effects worth enduring.” John Stanley, Creature Features

“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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” …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?” The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

  • Robert H. Harris … Pete Dumond
  • Paul Brinegar … Rivero
  • Gary Conway … Tony Mantell (Teenage Frankenstein)
  • Gary Clarke … Larry Drake (Teenage Werewolf)
  • Malcolm Atterbury … Security Guard Richards
  • Dennis Cross … Security Guard Monahan
  • Morris Ankrum … Police Captain Hancock
  • Walter Reed … Detective Thompson
  • Paul Maxwell … Jeffrey Clayton
  • Eddie Marr … John Nixon
  • Heather Ames … Arlene Dow
  • Robert Shayne … Gary Droz
  • Rod Dana … Lab Technician
  • Jacqueline Ebeier … Jane
  • Thomas Browne Henry … Martin Brace – director of ‘Werewolf Meets Frankenstein’ (as Thomas B. Henry)
  • John Phillips … Detective Jones
  • Paulene Myers … Millie – the Pedestrian
  • John Ashley … John Ashley
  • Herman Cohen … Banks – Director in Projection Room (uncredited)
  • Frank Richards … Studio Groundskeeper (uncredited)

Filming locations:

ZIV Studios – 7950 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California

Technical details:

  • 73 minutes
  • Audio: Mono (Ryder Sound Services)
  • Black and White | Colour
  • Aspect ratio: 1.66: 1

Release:

In the USA, How to Make a Monster was released by American International Pictures on a double bill with Roger Corman’s Teenage Cave Man.

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