The Fantastically Huge World of Mr. B.I.G: ♛ Bert I.Gordon: Part I- ‘Glorious Gigantism, Tiny Living Dolls, Spurned Ghostly Trollops, Grand Guignol with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Orson Welles as a Devil Worshiping Raiser of the Dead!’

Mr. B.I.G. Himself- BERT I. GORDON: The B-Movie Giant!

Bert I Gordon

Bert Ira Gordon is an American Film Director most known for his science fiction and horror B-movies, such as The Amazing Colossal Man, Beginning of the End, Attack of The Puppet People, Food of the Gods and Village of the Giants, and awarded the prestigious Grand Prix du Festival International Du Paris Fantastique in 1977.

Bert I Gordon in 2006
Bert I Gordon at the Monster Bash in Pittsburgh 2006 holding a mask from his film The Cyclops (1957)

Much of Bert I.Gordon’s earliest work did in fact deal with the theme of gigantism and giant beasties for which he used the method of split screen and rear-projection to create his special effects. He’s been nicknamed Mister B.I.G. which also stands for his initials, though it’s a cheeky reference to his love of all things over sized.

He began making home movies in 16mm which was a thirteenth birthday present from his aunt. He started out making commercials and editing for British television and then…

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It was in 1955 that he made his first feature KING DINOSAUR , but it wasn’t until 1957 that he began his association with b movie moguls Samuel Z Arkoff and James H. Nicholson for American International Pictures. You can see a great documentary about the A.I.P. story, check out… It Conquered Hollywood! The Story of American International Pictures (TV 2001)

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Samuel Z Arkoff American International Pictures

In 1960 he wrote, produced and directed The Boy and the Pirates  featuring then child star Charles Herbert and Gordon’s own daughter Susan Gordon who was eight when she starred in his Attack of the Puppet People. Susan then went on to act in two other of her father’s films,  Tormented (1960) and Picture Mommy Dead (1966). She appeared in The Twilight Zone episodeThe Fugitive’ as Jenny the little girl with the leg brace who befriends a shape-shifting alien ruler Old Ben (J. Pat O’Malley) who lams it because he doesn’t want to be king anymore.

J.Pat O'Malley and Susan Gordon on The Twilight Zone's 'the fugitive'
J.Pat O’Malley and Susan Gordon in
The Twilight Zone (Episode #90): “The Fugitive” (airdate 3/9/62)
featuring a cameo of she creature Beulah by Paul Blaisdell as one of Old Ben’s incarnations.
The Boy and The Pirates featuring Timothy Carey
The Boy and The Pirates (1960) featuring great character actor Timothy Carey, Charles Herbert and Bert’s daughter Susan Gordon.

All three Bert, Charles and daughter Susan had appeared at the 2006 Monster Bash in Pittsburgh, although sadly Susan passed away in 2011 from Thyroid cancer, Bert continues to appear at the Monster Bash each June, hosting and moderating a special screening of The Amazing Colossal Man on April 27, 2012. How I wish I could have been there for that!

Glenn Manning is the Amazing Colossal Man Bert I Gordon-lobby card

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the brilliant mind of H.G.Wells, visionary writer of classic fantasy and science fiction

In 1976 he made the adaptation of H.G. Well’s The Food of the Gods with Ida Lupino, Ralph Meeker  and Pamela Franklin, then again in 1977 he released Empire of the Ants based again on another  H.G Wells novel featuring the sassy Joan Collins prior to her success on Dynasty.

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Ida Lupino is being terrorized by a horde of giant rats in Bert I. Gordon’s adaptation of H.G.Wells Food of The Gods 1976
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Marjoe Gortner isn’t having much fun fighting off giant rats either in Food of The Gods
Joan Collins having fun in Empire of The Ants
Now… Joan Collins is clearly having fun on the set of Bert I. Gordon’s 1977 adaptation of H.G Wells Empire of The Ants. For someone who said it was her least favorite acting job, she sure looks like she’s enjoying herself. Ant she?
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Village of The Giants 1965 starring Beau Bridges, Tommy Kirk, Johnny Crawford, Ron Howard, Joe Turkel, Joy Harmon and Tisha Sterling!

Village of the GIants film poster

Bert I. Gordon holds a degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where my beloved partner Wendy got her PhD in Sociology which is I why I tend to imbue my posts with a slightly sociological lens. We lived there for almost a decade, not too far from August Derleth who lived in Sauk City, also near infamous serial killer Ed Gein who lived and died at Mendota State Mental Hospital, and we weren’t far from many of the circus folk who graced Ringling Bros. Circus some who acted in Tod Browning’s Freaks, a few who now lay in repose in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Also the great Harry Houdini grew up in Appleton not far from where we lived.

Except for the horrible experimentation on cats at UW’s research labs which you can email and ask me about my Change.Org petition (click on the link to sign) that I’ve started against the University urging them to stop this brutal and needless research, Madison is a colorful place that will forever remain a fond memory for me and several of my wonderful rescued cats from Madison WI, that now live with us and love watching these great B movies with me.

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Bert I. Gordon has the distinction of having the most films by any one director to be featured on the cult television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) with a total of 8 of his films being featured over the course of the show-
King Dinosaur, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth Vs. The Spider, War of the Colossal Beast, The Magic Sword, Beginning of the End and Village of the Giants have all been lampooned by MST3K, it’s all in fun and I think a great honor and a good way to keep these films alive in our collective consciousness.

The Cyclops

Bert I Gordon has contributed so much to the B movie genres, and whether you pay attention to the stories of how demanding he was on the set, or whether his special effects can live up to today’s CGI’s I say…  He blazed a trail with his brand of special effects given the constraints of low budgets and hey, cheesy is charming and endearing and filled with heart and soul so, ‘hail to Mr. B.I.G’ for endowing us and me with those fond memories to draw from, those golden days of quiet Saturday afternoons or late night creep fests rapt by the television set that you’d have to get up and physically turn the clunky dials to change one of only 6 stations you were able to dial in. Those of us who grew up with Creature Features, Fright Night, Chiller Theater programs that helped bring to life the giant sized contributions by Bert I Gordon!

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Empire of The Ants

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Like a giant horde of  grasshoppers, a hairy legged beastie who dwells in a cave adorned with giant rope like webs who terrorize rock n’ roll teenagers, a large crazed man with a gaping eye socket and over-sized sarong, grasshoppers who climb the Wrigley building in Chicago and eat their way through whole Midwestern towns, giant colonies of ants who make people work like drones to produce sugar cane for them, giant rats and free range chickens who terrorized even the iron maiden herself, Ida Lupino on a small island farm, A gorgeous ghostly trollop Juli Reding who torments her murderous lover Richard Carlson by the beach, the imposing Orson Welles who can raise the dead and persecutes poor Pamela Franklin, mad bombers, pirates, dinosaurs and magic swords, a cyclops and a lonely old puppet maker played by John Hoyt, who shrinks teenagers to the size of living dolls, in order to create a small family of his own, a village overrun with over sized hormonally charged teenagers like Ron Howard, Beau Bridges and Joy Harmon

Earth Vs The Spider

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Amazing Colossal Man

That’s what fantasy can do to an impressionable and sensitive young mind like mine, turn me into a MonsterGirl, and it takes a big imagination to fill you up with shivers and laughs and all of it in good fun… Thanks Mr. B.I.G  for draping my childhood memories with wonderful images and continuing to still enthrall me with the glorious world you’ve created for us, the nostalgic dreamers to inhabit.

In his own words: Chapter One Beginning of the Dream“Instead of being born with a silver spoon in my mouth, as the cliche goes, I think I was born with visions of movie film whirling around inside my head. As far back as I remember, I’ve loved movies. It didn’t matter what kind they were, I would see them all… even the mushy love stories that, at my early age, didn’t particularly appeal to me, but they were movies and I had to see them. As to the type of movie that were my favorites back then, I preferred Westerns, Fantasies, Science Fiction, Horror, Gangster films (especially with Edward G Robinson, Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre)”-Bert I. Gordon

page 19- “I was reasonably satisfied with my involvement in film making in Minnesota, until I looked into the mirror one morning while shaving and came to the realization that making commercials and documentaries was not what I’d had in mind. This wasn’t really making movies. Movies were made in Hollywood. So, then and there, I made up my mind. Hollywood was where I had to be, and so I made plans to move there.”

In the 50s Gigantism was all the rage, be it Sea Monsters, reptiles, insects or the effects of radiation on human subjects. Watching something grow to an incredibly intimidating size was a big box office draw…

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 “THE MOST POWERFUL AND COMPELLING THEME IN SCIENCE FICTION IS THE FATE WHICH OVERCOMES MAN WHEN HE ATTEMPTS TO OUTDO NATURE, WHEN HE IS FACED WITH MENACES OF OF HIS OWN MAKING . THROUGHOUT THE GENRE SINCE ITS BEGINNING , NEMESIS HAS CLOBBERED HUBRIS”Brian Adliss, The Penguin Omnibus of Science Fiction.

Village of The Giants
Village of The Giants (1965)

From Mark Jancovich’s Rational Fears-American Horror in the 1950sThomas Docherty observed:

“Having better reason than most to feel a kinship with malformed and hyperthyroidic humans, teenagers were faithful followers of and sympathetic onlookers to the plight of the hormonally disadvantaged; their own biological state must have seemed equivalently capricious and uncontrollable. The sudden swellings and shrinkings of adolescence., the inhabitation of a body with a mind of its own, beset all sorts of screen creatures, but the unadorned human frame grew and waned with a distinctly, genital sense of proportion. The remarkable development of Cyclops 1957 and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) and the disheartening diminution of The Incredible Shrinking Man 1955, Attack of The Puppet People 1958 and even Tom Thumb 1958 are elastic expressions of the ebb and flow of pubescent development”

The 1950s were rampant with over-sized menacing forces from within…!!!!

In David J. Skal’s incredible read The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror, Skal puts it plainly and eloquently- on page 248, “One of the most ubiquitous cultural mandalas of the fifties was the powerfully connotative graphic emblem of two or three interlocking orbital paths, electrons whizzing around like planets. Electrons, of course , do not really behave like planetary bodies, but it is significant that the atom was nonetheless regarded as a microcosm , the diagram of a new world view. The symbol served a primal, nearly cruciform function, representing all the faith, hope, fear and awe generated by the ambiguous postwar age.” He goes on to say, “People were enlarged to the size of their anxieties in The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), it’s sequel War of the Colossal Beast (1958), and now deliriously campy Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958).

allison hayes Attack of the 50 foot woman

Gordon Douglas's masterpiece THEM (1954)
Director Gordon Douglas’s masterpiece THEM (1954)
Jack Arnold's Tarantula 1955
The amazing Jack Arnold’s masterpiece TARANTULA (1955)

The Amazing Colossal Man 1957

“Savage Giant on a Blood-Mad Rampage!”

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From Bert I. Gordon’s new book The Amazing Colossal Worlds of Mr. B.I.G: An Autobiographical Journey by Bert I. Gordon

Bert I Gordon Autobiography

Bert I.Gordon writes, “I moved into an office on the A.I.P floor of a building on the Sunset Strip, and began writing the screenplay for the first film.” He continues on pg 56 “When I write a screenplay, I visualize in my mind where the camera will be for the various scenes… the camera angles and the amount of coverage needed from each angle… and when I’m directing , I have a good idea of how much coverage and from what angle to film a scene.

“Also, since I do the visual effects of my films… giant grasshoppers, sixty foot tall colossal men, monstrous spiders, and all… when I’m writing a scene with a visual effect in a screenplay, I figure how I will get the big spider, or whatever, in the scene , or to perform a particular action… and if I don’t have the answer, I change it to an action or whatever , that I will be able to create.”

The Amazing Colossal Man became one of the top-grossing movies in the first week and continued to be successful even after it opened. As told in his autobiography, The Paramount Theater on Broadway in New York City actually placed a sixty foot blow-up of the Colossal Man on top of their marquee, and people had lined up reaching all around the block waiting to see this ‘grand’ B movie! With the screenplay by Bert I. Gordon and Mark Hanna , musical score by Albert Glasser, cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc, Production design by William Glasgow and make up by Robert J. Schiffer.

Amazing Colossal Man -lobby card

Glenn Langan (Dragonwyck 1946, The Snake Pit 1948) dons the giant sarong as Lt. Col.Glenn Manning who inadvertently becomes exposed to a plutonium  blast at Camp Desert Rock while they are testing a new weapon. Seeing a plane crash in the desert testing area, Manning quickly runs out to try and see if there are any survivors. But he is too late to grab the pilot, when the plutonium bomb explodes shearing off most of his skin, and roasting him alive to a crispy black mess. They quickly rush him to the military base hospital but don’t expect him to make it through the night.

But there's a man in that plane
“But there’s a man in that plane”

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An uncanny anomaly occurs when although burned all over his entire body practically 90%, he actually not only survives but starts to regenerate new skin tissue as the healing process accelerates rapidly. Unfortunately, the plutonium bomb and it’s residual radiation has had a freakish effect on Col. Manning and it also causes his growth cells to accelerate rapidly as well, causing him to grow at an alarming rate. Cathy Downs  plays Manning’s fiancée Carol Forrest who arrives at the hospital only to find everyone being very secretive, and that Glenn has been moved along with the doctors who were taking care of him. William Hudson (who also happened to be in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman a year later, as Harry Archer, 50 ft. Nancy’s philandering cad of a husband) plays Dr. Paul Linstrom and Larry Thor plays Maj. Eric Coulter M.D.

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William Hudson plays Dr. Paul Linstrom

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Cathy Downs plays fiancée Carol Forrest

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Carol doesn’t sit still and accept the military’s cover-up and eventually tracks Glenn down. To her astonishment and horror she discovers the secret behind Glenn’s radiation exposure and the terrible trick that nature is playing, on his body causing him to grow at such a rapid rate… making him bald even. She also notices the changes in his personality.

Neither the doctors, scientists nor the military can find a cure nor slow down this progressive metamorphosis in Manning’s physiology and so as he continues to grow, his major organs, like his heart and circulatory system simply can not keep up with the pace of his vastly emerging size. This mutation has also begun to effect his mental state, as he is not getting enough blood supply to his brain. Manning becomes a poor victim of nature and the man made violation of nature, mainly human meddling with destructive forces like bombs and radiation fall out, causing this horrible ordeal, creating a gigantic freakish madman who’s ire is unbridgeable and unstoppable.

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Col. Glenn Manning: “What kind of sin could a man commit in a single lifetime to bring this upon himself?”

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“They call this living?”

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Col. Glenn Manning: “Why don’t you ask me what it feels like to be a freak?”

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CapturFiles_49a Not another drop pal, not another drop as long as I live… so help me!
“Not another drop pal, not another drop as long as I live… so help me!”

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The ultimate voyeur…

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Perhaps Glenn has developed a shoe fetish?

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“Put the girl down!”

Reaching 60 feet tall, a little bit more than that of Allison Hayes‘ lusciously grand Nancy Fowler Archer from competing Allied Artist’s Attack of The 50 Foot Woman (1958), he too escapes and goes on a rampage, wreaking havoc in Las Vegas before they can finally put an end to the chaos.

In one of the most iconic scenes in 50s B-Movie memories forged indelibly in us genre fans consciousness, while cornering Col. Glenn Manning, in an attempt to inject him with a giant hypodermic needle filled with the formula to help slow down his growth, Manning uses the gigantic needle as a weapon and impales a Major. Completely deranged, Glenn then carries off his little bride to be and heads out for Hoover Dam with the military in pursuit.

Memorable Quotes:

Col. Glenn Manning: “Perhaps it isn’t I who’s growing, but it’s you who’s shrinking!”
Col. Glenn Manning: “They gave me an expandable sarong… Army ingenuity… I can grow to be a hundred feet tall and I don’t need a change of wardrobe!”

Beginning of The End 1957

“So Big…we had to coin a new word for it…NEWMENDOUS!”

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“I was approached by Ira Levin, head of the newly -formed subsidiary of Paramount Theaters (ABPT)(a separate entity from Paramount Studios), who said they would like to have me produce a film for them. I told him about an idea I had for a film about giant grasshoppers invading Chicago, and he loved it… and we made a deal”. –Bert I. Gordon

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The beautiful Peggy Castle plays Audrey Aimes, the strong female lead in this 50s sci-fi cautionary tale by Bert I. Gordon

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Lots of character in this man’s face, Hank Patterson as Dave, who’s entire family went missing from the small Illinois town of Ludlow. Patterson was drunken Henry in Amazing Colossal Man and went on to do cameos in Earth Vs The Spider, Attack of the Puppet People and Monster on the Campus. He plays a great Janitor! besides playing Fred Ziffel on TVs Green Acres.

Peggy Castle (Payment on Demand 1951, Invasion USA 1952) plays Audrey Aimes a war correspondent and adventurous journalist with camera in tow, who stumbles onto the biggest story since WWII. The small town of Ludlow Illinois is left in shambles and the entire population goes completely missing over night. She is greeted by a military blockade who proceed to take away her camera. When she hooks up with entomologist/scientist working for the Department of Agriculture Experimentation Department, Dr. Ed Wainwright played by the lanky and likable Peter Graves and Frank Johnson, Wainwright’s deaf mute assistant played by Than Wyenn, she discovers that their research with radioactive isotopes in trying to create larger produce yielding strawberries the size of melons and tomatoes the size of yoga balls, has actually engendered a horde of giant locusts or commonly known as Grasshoppers that have reached the gigantic proportions of a Semi with legs and eats people.

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Dr. Wainwright: “Sorry nothing to worry about, just a slight catastrophe.”
Audrey Aimes: “Do You have these catastrophes very often?”
(He chuckles) “All the time, got to keep these little things from getting in. These are snails, last summer it was caterpillars, and after that it was grasshoppers by the droves… and just last week it was beetles.”

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It seems that a slew of grasshoppers had gotten into a grain silo and fed on the stored wheat that was actually contaminated with the radioactive material. They eventually grew into monstrously giant sized eating machines, broke out of the silo and began their hopping green rampage, starving and now hungry for humans instead of merely grain and vegetation.

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Gen. John T. Short: “Dr. Wainright, you’re a scientist, you know what grasshoppers can do. I’m a soldier, I know what guns can do.”- Ah the eternal conflict between science and the military goes onward.

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Aided by General John Hanson (Morris AnkrumEarth Vs The Flying Saucers 1956, Invaders From Mars 1953 How To Make A Monster 1958 and so much more!) and Col. Tom Sturgeon (Thomas B. Henry-another veteran of sci-fi goodness Earth Vs The Flying Saucers, The Brain from Planet Arous 1957) both Audrey and Dr. Wainwright work around the clock to try and figure out how to conquer these mutated Grasshoppers who are quickly destroying most of Illinois as they head toward the beautiful city of Chicago, and ultimately threatening to bring down civilization. The situation seems dire as General Hanson wants to drop an atom bomb on Chicago as the last resort to destroying the locusts and stopping the invasion, but Dr Wainwright tries feverishly to emulate the mating call of the locusts and devises a plan to act as a Pied Piper leading the giant creatures into the waters of Lake Michigan.

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Beginning-of-the-End

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Dr. Ed Wainwright: “You can’t drop an atom bomb on Chicago!”

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Beginning of The End taking over Chicago

I sort of felt bad for these grasshoppers as I usually do when it’s not truly the fault of the monster that it’s threatening mankind, only because they had inadvertently become effected by the hubris of science and the will to survive. That said, this movie is so much fun, it typifies what’s best about the ‘big bug’ films of the 50s, and even touches on the fear of the bomb, meddling science and even the underlying red scare and the paranoia of being invaded from within our own country that was often at the root of these films which reflected the public’s paranoiac consciousness of the times.

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I actually was very impressed with sexy Peggy Castle’s strong female character, when women in these films should have been running away on broken high heels and sprained ankles, screaming for their lives, Castle’s Audrey Aimes was cool, independent and intelligent in the midst of the mayhem. We’ll forgive the special effects of live grasshoppers walking up photographs of buildings on a tableau of Chicago like the famous Wrigley Building or even the superimposed shots of real live grasshoppers hovering over the actors in the live action spectacles of battle. It doesn’t change a darn thing for me, it’s what makes these films charming and deliciously good fun.

With a dynamic musical score once again by Albert Glasser and cinematography by Jack A. Marta, special effects by Bert I Gordon and art direction by Walter E. Keller. The special sound department engineered by George J. Eppich, Douglas Stewart and Dick Tyler Sr. creating the wonderful grasshopper noises that made the film so titillatingly jumpy and brain curling!

Excerpt from THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER-review by James Powers: Science Fiction Pic is Ingeniously Done.

“In Beginning of the End experiments in atomic radiation have produced strawberries as big as melons and grasshoppers as big as Lincoln Continentals. The grasshoppers have developed a taste for man, as a result of their growth in size and nothing will stop them., according to the AB-PT production being released by Republic. Actually, the scientific part of the picture from a screenplay by Fred Freiberger and Lester Gorn seems to be pretty authentic and the special visual effects of the locusts swarming over the Wrigley building in Chicago is ingeniously done.

Again from Bert I. Gordon’s fabulous autobiography, “I met Jim Nicholson and Sam Arkoff of American International Pictures, an independent distribution company. Jim told me that they were familiar with my films and would be interested in doing some with me, and asked if I had any story ideas. Of course, my answer was a quick ‘yes’ and we agreed to meet at their office the next day to discuss it. Having been busy on Beginning of the End, I hadn’t given a thought to ideas for my next project, so I had to do some quick thinking to come up with something by the next day’s meeting. Before dinner was over, I had written the idea for a film onto a paper napkin about a man growing to the height of sixty feet, with the title  The Amazing Colossal Man. The next day I met with Jim and Sam in their office on Sunset and made a four picture deal with them… The Amazing Colossal Man to be the first one.”

Earth Vs The Spider 1958

“50 tons of creeping black horror!”

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This was Bert’s second film with American International. Co-starring Ed Kemmer as Professor Art Kingman, June Jocelyn plays Carol’s mother, Mrs Jack Flynn, Merritt Stone is briefly Jack Flynn and Hal Torey plays Mr. Simpson.Executive Producers Sam Arkoff and James H. Nicholson were on board for this one. Albert Glasser did the music again, Jack Marta was responsible for the cinematography once again and set decoration was handled by William Calvert. Bert I Gordon and Flora M Gordon did the special effects.

Hoping to use New Mexico’s mammoth Carlsbad Caverns National Park as the backdrop for the cavernous scenes with the wonderful stalactites rising and hanging from the ceilings there, the problem was that Gordon couldn’t use camera lighting inside the cave as it could damage the delicate surface of the caves as light creates the growth of microscopic organisms. What Bert I. Gordon managed to accomplish instead of filming on location at the Caverns, was he simply brought a 4×5 Speed Graphic camera with a tripod to photograph the background plates, utilizing the dim ambient lighting of the caves and using very long time exposures.

When it came time to shoot the actors he filmed them in front of a small section of the canyon or cave wall that they constructed on their sound stage, this was made to match perfectly the wall of the actual cave. He then aligned the shot so the actor and the corresponding background would line up in the correct place when the footage was matted together. Looking through an eye-piece he was able to pan or tilt in or out with the camera to position both the actor and background in the right spot, so when the two scenes matted together, it would appear like a perfect fit.

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Ed Kemmer is science teacher Art Kingman who likes to play with electrodes

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Finding a giant piece of the Spider’s web stretched across the road, it appears to be like a large hemp rope but STICKY…

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June Kenney (Teenage Doll 1957, Attack of The Puppet People 1958, Bloodlust 1961)plays Carol Flynn a teenager who’s father doesn’t come home one night so she and her boyfriend Mike Simpson (Eugene Persson) go looking for him, finding his wrecked car near an abandoned cave in the small community of River Falls. Flynn had gotten snared in what looked like a giant spider web stretched across the road making him a bloody mess on camera and causing his car to crash. Once they go in search of Carol’s dad within the series of caves, they stumble onto his shriveled body drained of fluids killed by the giant hairy spider dwelling inside the cavernous abyss.

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The two manage to get out and make it back to town, hoping to enlist the help of the skeptical Sheriff Cagle played by Gene Roth (She Demons 1958, Attack of the Giant Leeches 1959). The sheriff accompanied by his deputies are attacked by the monster, plugging the spider full of shot gun shells saving the sheriff’s life. Then they spray the spider with a heavy dose of DDT and plug it with a slew of ammo, thinking that they’ve killed it, they haul it back to the high school gymnasium so Professor Art Kingman (Ed Kemmer) can examine it while awaiting a team of scientists who can come an analyze the mammoth creature properly, which of course is such a practical thing to do, I mean why bring it to a secured laboratory anyway.

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Hank Patterson as Hugo the Janitor is about to be lunch

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A CAST OF EXCITING UNKNOWNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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This scene actually scared the ever lovin’ /biˈjēzəs/ out of me when I was a little kid, even watching this on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

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The spider seems to lie in petrified repose with it’s big black hairy leggedness, as a group of teenage rock n’ rollers and bobby soxers begin to jam in the gym much to their horrified surprise when the beast awakens and goes on a rampage first terrifying the local teenagers and then through out the quaint little town. Eventually, the spider goes back to his lair, while Carol and Mike go back to try and find her charm bracelet, a gift from her poor dead father, that she had dropped when they were first attacked by the big hairy eight legged beast. The sheriff not realizing that Carol and Mike are in the caves, set off dynamite at the entrance to seal the giant menace inside. Once the sheriff realizes that he’s trapped the young couple inside, it becomes a race against time to try and get them out before the giant spider eats them, yum yum. And hey, they use a Theremin when The Spider stalks it’s prey…

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Sheriff Cagle: [to a deputy after finding a desiccated body in a cave] Uh, you get back to town and make up a coroner’s report. Just put down Jack Flynn as the name and the cause of death… uh…

Mr. Kingman: It was a spider drained all the liquid out of his body.

Sheriff Cagle: [Officiously] Just put down “cause unknown” and let the coroner worry about the rest. That’s the trouble with you eggheads – you jump to conclusions! I know what I see and I see a dead man, but, uh, I don’t see any spider.

Interview with Samuel Z. Arkoff  from the book-Tom Weaver’s Interviews with Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers:Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup Page 28- “Because there was a sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man, people assume that that was one of your biggest early moneymakers. Was it?” ‘Let me tell you our theory. The majors today make sequels, but they neve plan for sequels, as a rule. A picture goes out and does very well-they make a sequel. Basically, they’re looking for a follow-up to a successful picture. We were looking to establish a vein of ore that we could mine. A sequel didn’t necessarily mean that the first picture was particularly successful; just as long as it was successful enough. then we’d make a second one. While The Amazing Colossal Man made money, it wasn’t that it made so much money we had to do it- we were trying to open up a vein.”

War of The Colossal Beast 1958

“The towering terror from hell!”

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Once again this features the usual team with executive producers Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson,and original music by Albert Glasser and cinematography by Jack Marta, with art direction by Walter E. Keller and make up by Jack H Young.

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CapturFiles_7 the foot that made that is about ten times the size of a normal man
“the foot that made that is about ten times the size of a normal man”

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War of the Colossal Beast is the sequel to the very successful The Amazing Colossal Man, which at the conclusion of the that film, Col. Glenn Manning (Dean Parkin-he also played The Cyclops) had grown to over sixty feet. In this follow up, Glenn Manning spends the entire time grunting and groaning like a mythic monster rather than an over-sized man suffering from radiation poisoning. After he is shot down by the military, he is imagined dead at the bottom of Nevada’s Hoover Dam. Here, Col. Manning’s sister Joyce played by Sally Fraser is convinced that her brother survived the onslaught of fire power and even his fall to the bottom of the dam. She hears rumors about large amounts of food being stolen in Mexico, and so decides to take a trip down there accompanied by Major Mark Baird (Roger Pace) and Russ Bender as scientist Dr. Carmichael.

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Joyce Manning: ‘Do you know what it’s like, just sitting around waiting for news?’
Maj. Mark Baird: ‘You mind if I suggest a remedy? It’s an old one , but it usually works. Find something else to occupy your mind. Do you have a job?’
Joyce Manning: ‘I write copy for an advertising agency.’
Maj. Mark Baird: ‘Now that should help you forget your troubles.’
Joyce Manning: ‘I can imagine myself going back to write all those tired old adjectives: “Tremendous,” “Gigantic,” “Colossal!” You know what they’d mean to me now, don’t you? Glenn! A colossal freak, Major, and he’s my brother!’

Joyce, Major Baird and Dr Carmichael do find Glenn but their search uncovers a horribly disfigured version of the giant man who’s face is now a grotesquely crushed skull, distorted mashed cheekbones, jaw muscles  and cracked teeth and one hell of a gaping eye socket. Still insane from the condition of his rapid growth and driven even more mad like a ravenous, wild animal foraging through abandoned cars for left overs. Manning is brought back to the U.S. by the army, yet he escapes once again goes on another rampage this time through Southern California, ultimately to the top of Griffith Park Observatory at the top of the Hollywood Hills where there’s uh oh a bus load of little kiddies. Joyce somehow manages to get through to her deranged brother, in a moment of clarity, he realizes that he’s become a monstrosity and commits suicide by grabbing onto the high-voltage  power lines electrocuting himself at the very last few seconds of the film as it turns into glorious color.

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Attack of the Puppet People 1958

“Terror Comes In Small Packages!”

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Attack of The Puppet People was the third film for AIP, with an alternative British title called I Was A Teenage Doll -once again from Bert’s book:

“Attack of The Puppet People (aka Puppet People) is one of my favorites… making it and watching it. It was also John Hoyts’s favorite s of all the films in which he had starred, as he stated in an interview two years before he died. He said he identified with the sensitivity of Mr. Franz in relation to his own, personal psyche… the loneliness of the character and all.”Bert I. Gordon

Special Technical Effects-Bert I. Gordon

CapturFiles_2 Mr Frank is very particular about THESE dolls nobody is allowed to touch them...
“Mr Frank is very particular about THESE dolls nobody is allowed to touch them…”

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“No I’m not afraid of him… well maybe just a little”

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“Why does that doll look like Bob?”

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time to go to bed now children...
CapturFiles_28 Are your dollies like that? Well they do get rather head strong sometimes (chuckle)
“Are your dollies like that?” “Well they do get rather head strong sometimes (chuckle)”
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John Hoyt:Dollmaker Franz is a very Mephistophlean figure in Puppet People.

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The wonderful John Hoyt one of my favorite character actors, plays deranged Mephistophelean doll-maker Mr. Franz who is so frightened of being alone that he invents a machine that shrinks humans down to the size of little dolls. He then holds them prisoner as his surrogate family, forcing them to perform by singing and dancing for him and keeping him company in his mad isolation. His wife has run off with a trapeze artist you see. Once he shrinks his secretary Sally Reynolds played by actress June Kenney who played Carol Flynn in Earth Vs. The Spider, and her fiancee Bob Westley played by veteran sci-fi actor John Agar  the pair decide to rebel against their giant captor, convincing the other shrunken teens to escape only to find themselves at the mercy of a hostile new landscape when you’re merely the size of a carrot.

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Franz’s Marionette is the personification of his Mephistophelean self.

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“where are you hiding?…don’t run away from me”

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The film features little Susan Gordon as Agnes, Michael Mark as Emil, Laurie Mitchell as Georgia Lane, Ken Miller as Stan, Scott Peters as Mac, June Jocelyn as a Brownie Leader, Marlene Willis as Laurie, Jean Moorhead as Janet Hall and Jack Kosslyn as Sgt. Paterson.

CapturFiles_72 You like Mr Franz because he makes dolls, "yeah, he makes people too… little people".
“You like Mr Franz because he makes dolls?, “yeah, he makes people too… little people”

The soundtrack song ‘You’re My Living Doll’ is sung by Marlene Willis written by Albert Glasser and Don Ferris with lyrics by Henry Schrage. With a screenplay by George Worthing Yates, and cinematography by none other than Ernest Laszlo. Jack Mills did the set design and special designed props by Paul Blaisdell.

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Coming next: in Part II Bert I. Gordon’s

Tormented 1960

Picture Mommy Dead 1966

The Mad Bomber 1973

Necromancy 1972 aka The Witching

Burned at the stake or The Coming 1981

See ya real soon in a BIG WAY…MonsterGirl

One thought on “The Fantastically Huge World of Mr. B.I.G: ♛ Bert I.Gordon: Part I- ‘Glorious Gigantism, Tiny Living Dolls, Spurned Ghostly Trollops, Grand Guignol with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Orson Welles as a Devil Worshiping Raiser of the Dead!’

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