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How To Make A Monster (1958) 
Written by: on July 16th, 2008

Theatrical Release Date: USA, July 1st, 1958
Director: Herbert L. Strock
Writers: Herman Cohen, Aben Kandel
Cast: Robert H. Harris, Paul Brinegar, Gary Conway, Gary Clarke, Malcolm Atterbury, Dennis Cross, Morris Ankrum, Walter Reed

DVD released: January 10th, 2006
Approximate running time: 73 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: N/A
DVD Release: Loins Gate
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98

Synopsis: A movie monster makeup artist and his assistant are given notice following a hostile takeover of the studio. Seems the horror cycle is dead and buried. The maestro uses a secret formula in his custom foundation cream to turn Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein into ‘real’ monsters in his quest for vengeance.

This is actually one of the best AIP monster movies and a sequel of sorts to I Was A Teenage Werewolf, ditto Frankenstein. The movie within the movie is Werewolf Meets Frankenstein, but the real movie is disgruntled employees versus black hearted corporate executives! The actors playing the monsters are innocent victims themselves, and to drive home the point, the maestro turns himself into a Mr. Hyde type for one murder.

There’s very little padding in this streamlined feature. John Ashley’s sole appearance is in a musical number designed to showcase the preferred product of the new regime. Usually this would be a throw away sequence, but instead it’s a stunner with riotous lyrics, a bevy of beauties in burlesque style costumes, and Ashley doing his best [worst] Elvis gestures.

All the performances are great from the leads down to the small bits. Standing out are Paul Brinegar (Wishbone in Rawhide) as the assistant, Gary Clarke (Missile To The Moon) in the Michael Landon werewolf part, and Gary Conway reprising his misnomered role as ‘Frankenstein’.

Worth the price of admission is the mask room set featuring creations by Paul Blaisdel including “Invasion of the Saucermen” and “The Incredible She Creature” on display. The tag line “See the Ghastly Ghouls in Flaming Color” was somewhat misleading since only this final sequence was filmed in color.

The DVD:

The OAR was apparently 1:66, so this open matte presentation is acceptable with a little extra headroom evident. The print is very nice, with wear showing only in the beginning of the last reel before the B&W gradually changes to somewhat muted color – an interesting effect. There are closed captions available, but no subtitles.

The sole extra is the second feature Blood Of Dracula which should have been titled I Was A Teenage Vamp. Overall a quality presentation unlike some of the other Lion’s Gate Arkoff releases (so beware!).

This is an exceptional example of fifties teenage monster mania with a witty script and excellent performances. Tight pacing, lots of props and memorabilia from prior AIP horrors, this movie manages to be satire, homage, and thriller all at once.

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