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Edward L. Cahn
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Accomplished but eccentric movie make-up artist Pete Dumond has been with the studio for decades and is totally devoted to his art especially in the creation of screen monsters. His world ends abruptly when new management acquires the company and arbitrarily decides that the horror cycle has run its course, and the studio will now concentrate on escapist musicals. When Dumond hears he will be pink-slipped, the neurotic but usually affable Pete turns psychotic and vows vengeance on the two movie executives responsible. Using a combination of hypnosis and a newly developed chemical formula, Dumond is able to use mind control to compel the young actors playing the teenage Frankenstein and werewolf to exact vengeance for him. Written by
It could be argued that American International Pictures revived the werewolf in the late 50's with "I Was A Teenage Werewolf". It was released at a time when television was becoming common in the home, which meant that fewer people went out to the movie theatres. Those that did were largely of a teenage audience, something that AIP clearly understood, and the success of their movie ensured a revival of the whole genre.
In this clever, self-referential sequel (of sorts), American International Studios are closing down production of horror movies in order to make more musicals, which sounds fairly true to life in what may have been happening in some studios at the time. Anyway, this means that famed makeup artist Pete Dumond, possibly based on Jack Pierce, will be out of a job because he specialises only in monsters. He isn't too happy about all this, so he decides to take revenge on the new owners of the studio by turning his "Teenage Werewolf" and "Teenage Frankenstein" actors into real monsters using a mind control makeup paste thingy. It all takes place during the filming of a "Teenage Werewolf meets the Teenage Frankenstein" movie.
This is a pretty neat idea, and the script explores it very well. There's some great cheesy dialogue, a wonderful lead performance from Robert H. Harris as the makeup artist, and from Paul Brinegar as his nervous assistant. The two 'teenage' stars, who were actually in their early twenties when this film was made, play their roles with that all-American wide-eyed innocence that actually works pretty well in parts such as this.
AIP were famed for producing their horror movies on low budgets, often less than a hundred thousand while at the time major studios generally set their budgets in the millions. This movie doesn't really look that cheap, the sets look perfectly fine especially the final set in the makeup artist's house where the big finale takes place. This also features a dramatic shift into color so that you can appreciate his mask collection even more, which is pretty neat.
"How To Make A Monster" is a very entertaining film, which I'd recommend to anyone who likes these cheesy old horror movies. You won't be disappointed.
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