How to Make a Monster (1958) Poster

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An homage to AIP
Teknofobe706 April 2005
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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A quality, engaging film
BrandtSponseller18 August 2006
How to Make a Monster is an American International Pictures film about and set on the lot of American International Pictures. The premise is that the studio has been sold, and the new owners are going to make some major changes, including canning in-house employee Pete Dumond (Robert H. Harris), a noted master of horror make-up. It then becomes a relatively simple revenge flick, with a nice, slightly sci-fi twist in the method of revenge.

The idea behind this film is very clever. It also provided an effective means of saving money on the production, since not many sets had to be built or dressed, and even when that was necessary, AIP was able to use materials on hand from other films, such as the gallery of masks, in a way that makes this a self-referential treat for horror fans. The idea is good enough that especially in our modern era of film industry cannibalization, it's surprising that it hasn't been used far more often.

Aside from the admirable tightness of the script and the evergreen attraction of revenge films, How to Make a Monster works as well as it does because of the performances. Harris is a fairly subtle psycho, and extremely effective as an anti-hero. Especially in contemporary times, his situation--getting laid off after a company takeover--will find him many sympathizers, but it's also that he plays the role with such a mellow, likable, grandfatherly charm, and a self-righteousness rooted in his expertise and pride in a job well done. As others have noted, there are subtexts in the film of (homo)sexual predation, which give an added air of creepiness to Harris. His unwitting targets on that end, Tony Mantell (Gary Conway) and Larry Drake (Gary Clarke), are played with an appropriate wide-eyed and willing innocence.

If there's a flaw in How to Make a Monster it's that nothing about it--except maybe the very final scene--is particularly atmospheric or suspenseful, but oddly, it really doesn't matter, because it's a good story told well enough that it keeps you engaged for its length. I still haven't quite figured out why a few American International Pictures, including this one, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957) and War of the Colossal Beast (1958), have the final scenes in color (I know it was a gimmick, but I don't really get the attraction of it as a gimmick), but it doesn't disrupt the flow of the film and it's nice seeing the gallery of masks in color.
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Nice Little Horror Picture
BaronBl00d19 June 2000
In 1957, American International Pictures had a big hit with their I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Immediately following its heels came I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, and then this film. This film is in many ways an inside look at the workings of the movie business and its thinking in the 50s as well as the ending chapter in the Teenage Trilogy cycle at AIP. It is not a great horror picture by any standards, yet it is fun to watch. It has a pretty good story about a make-up man who gets the pink slip and then promises to kill the execs who fired him and bring the studio to its knees. Mild-mannered Robert Harris plays the vengeful artist with restrained aplomb. He effectively captures the insanity that courses through his mind with great subtlety. In the end, we see Harris for what he real was...not just an innocent artist but a monster obsessed with his works and his creations in much the same vein as Vincent Price's character in The House of Wax. The rest of the actors are acceptable, and the ending scene where we see the works of the artist is a walk down memory lane. On the walls one can see the head mask of the She-Creature, the It from It Conquered the World, one of the saucer men from Invasion of the Saucer Men, and many others. The colour sequence that is suppose to be in the final 8 minutes of the film does not exist on any version of the video presently out. Hope it is remastered.
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Bizarre tale of a latent madman who wreaks havoc against the movie studio where he's employed. This disturbing shocker deftly contrasts make-believe horrors of motion pictures with the psychotic killers of
Morbius-1318 May 1999
Movie audiences attracted by the sensationalistic advertising proclaiming, "See the ghastly ghouls in flaming colour!", doubtlessly expected that the film HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER was actually a colour movie and were surprised and disappointed to discover that the film was essentially a black and white feature with the final 8 minutes shot in colour (Leonard Maltin in his movie guide review states it is the final 18 minutes but this is probably a typographic error).

By the late 1950's, Britain's Hammer Films was producing, to great critical acclaim and financial success, a series of well-crafted horror movies which boasted that they were filmed in colour. These pioneering efforts marked the beginning of the end for the relatively inexpensive black and white programmers which had been the mainstay for the success of film companies like American International Pictures. Probably in an effort to tap into this ready-made market for colour movies, it was determined that small portions of a film would be economically shot in colour so it could be extensively promoted in the film's publicity (another consideration was to also utilize colour sequences for effect). With his next project, HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, producer Herman Cohen would present his own answer to the Hammer movies by filming it in England and in colour.

For those interested, the colour footage begins after Pete Dummond and his captive guests, Tony and Larry, along with Pete's accomplice, Rivero, enter his house and Dummond lights some candles in his living-room/macabre shrine. Unfortunately the prints made available to television and home video omit the colour and are struck in black and white and there has been no real outcry from horror fandom or any of the genre magazines to effect a restoration of the colour footage. Perhaps someday soon this longstanding negligence on the part of the film's distributors will be rectified.

The script for HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER is credited to Herman Cohen and Kenneth Langtry. Kenneth Langtry is a pseudonym for a writer actually named Aben Kandel (he also employed the pen-name Ralph Thornton), who collaborated with producer Herman Cohen on a number of film projects including I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, BLOOD OF DRACULA, I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN, HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, THE HEADLESS GHOST, KONGA and THE BLACK ZOO.

Kandel's script for HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER is a reworking of much of the same plot elements found in his TEENAGE WEREWOLF and FRANKENSTEIN films, but the villain of this piece not only employs those under his control to commit murder, he also participates in some of the mayhem himself. Perhaps sensing that the late 1950's audiences were becoming too sophisticated for outright monsters in horror films, author Kandel decided to weave a story utilizing this theme and present the movie audience with a much more realistic menace, the psychotic mastermind/killer (Cohen and Kandel would carry this concept to its logical extreme the following year in HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, a horror film without a monster in sight).

The efforts behind HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER would be much diminished without the presence of character actor Robert H. Harris. His skilled interpretation of the deranged makeup artist Pete Dummond is a multi-faceted one eliciting a wide-range of qualities which at one moment engenders our respect as he encourages a young actor to give his utmost to his film role, our sympathy in the wake of the overbearing new studio executives and their pragmatism and crassness toward horror films and his art, and our dread as he tells his two guests in his monster museum that he wants to include their "heads" in his collection. His scenes where he brow-beats his weak-willed assistant, Rivero, over his incompetency and cowardice are an absolute delight. Harris portrays his villain in a quietly menacing fashion making his characterization all the more sinister and his subtle and controlled performance is a memorable one.

One wishes that Michael Landon could have been recruited to reprise his teenage werewolf role, his participation would have certainly added more stature and authenticity to the proceedings. Since the story supposedly occurs at American International studios, instead of utilizing an actor to portray the director of "Frankenstein Meets Werewolf," it's a pity AIP standby Roger Corman wasn't approached to fill the role and it seems only fitting that James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff (the actual founders of American International) should have somehow been worked into the storyline. All these additions would have given HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER a more auto-biographical and self-parody tone.

HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER is an engaging and fascinating oddity from American International Pictures of the 1950's and marks an interesting phase in the chronology of Herman Cohen productions for this movie company.
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A must for American International Fans
djoyjr28 March 2006
I just finished watching the "Cult Classics" DVD release, which included the color footage mentioned in the other comment. Besides many familiar (and unfamiliar) monster heads, the film is a virtual who's who of American International Studio players from the 50's. One can almost suspect the movie was made to keep the contact players busy between films. If only Michael Landon had appeared as the Teenage Werewolf, I would have given it another couple points in the ratings. One also has to give the studio credit as the studio itself becomes the "back lot" for the film. And certainly, the plot of killing off studio executives must have appealed to all the writers, actors and production staff making the film.
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Entertaining Horror Film With Unique Twist
Space_Mafune29 August 2002
A make-up man named Pete Dumond(well-played by Robert H. Harris) seeks revenge on a group of new studio executives who fired him by unleashing his Frankenstein and Werewolf creations upon them! He controls the young actors in the costumes via a special make-up which turns the actors into Pete's zombies.

This film is a little bit more serious than most of Herman Cohen's productions and a such just a little bit less fun. Still you can tell the actors/actresses involved here are enjoying themselves and their roles and this spirit does manage to come across to the audience. The color climax is wonderfully achieved and features some of Paul Blasidell's finest creations in a surprisingly intense sequence. Good solid B-entertainment.
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One of the most amusing horror films of the 50s
funkyfry11 October 2002
Amusing third sequel to "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" combines the Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein. Under fear of termination, a film studio makeup wizard (possibly modelled on one of the family Westmore?) applies "a special fixing agent" to his teenage actor's monster makeup that turns them into real monsters. Given such an unusual, original premise, the results of the film are not too disappointing: several brutal killings, lots of monsters, and even John Ashley's B-grade Elvis impersonation (surely done for laughs, let's hope). the film supposes the existence of "American International Studios" -- a nice thought, but filmmaking had already changed a lot, and AIP was never able to rent a steady digs, so this one just has to stay a fantasy. Did anyone else notice how heavily homoerotic the makeup guy's relationship to the boys was? He always called them "my boys" and talked at one point about having them "in his hands". Plus, note their uncomfortable reaction when he wants them to come to his house for some drinks. Funny stuff, certainly holding up to Herman Cohen's other AIP productions, which were among their best early efforts.
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How To Make A Nice Movie!
rudystevens42215 August 2003
Contains spoilers a wonderful Herman Cohen production, and his third film with talented director Herbert L. Strock. This film is a lot of fun, and is very entertaining! Director Strock keeps things moving at a fast pace! And it is a pure delight! Music and story line are excellent and so is the fine cinematography! Robert H. Harris stars as makeup man Pete Dumont, the new owners are taking over the studio, that Pete works for,(American International). Monster makeup man Pete is given the pink slip, as they no longer need his services, because monster movies are out and musicals are in! The egotistical studio executives treat Pete with heartless abandonment! Harris excels in his role as the psychotic Pete Dumont! He begins to lose his mind, and becomes a homicidal maniac,as he methodically kills all who are in his way, one by one! He also does it with the aid of his mesmerizing makeup. Pete tries to bring two young actors, into his madness, and succeeds through the aid of his makeup he uses on them, they become assassins! The young actors are Gary Conway, and Gary Clarke, as Tony and Larry, the teenage Frankenstein, and the teenage werewolf. Tony and Larry are not cognitive of the murders they commit afterwards, while under the influence of the mind controlling drug, that Pete has introduced to his makeup formula! The local police are baffled as dead studio executives start showing up all around the studio! Even a studio guard, is beaten to a pulp by Pete who is in monster makeup, after he starts to ask Pete one question too many! The police captain played by the well liked veteran fifties Si Fi actor, Morris Ankrum. Also in the cast is another Si Fi great Thomas B. Henry (The Brain From Planet Arous) (Twenty Million Miles To Earth) many others, he plays a studio director. One memorable scene shows Gary Clarke in full teenage werewolf makeup, as he throttles a studio executive, while spittle runs down his mouth! Another scene has the powerfully built Conway hiding in a executive's garage as the teenage Frankenstein, he proceeds to break the back of the smart aleck executive. Gary Conway and Gary Clarke are two excellent actors and they do well in this film. The ending is a gem, as Pete by this time is a raving lunatic! After he kills his assistant (Paul Brinegar) with a large ceremonial knife, he then attempts to separate the boys heads from their bodies and add them to his monster collection on his wall! Tony and Larry don't like the idea of decapitation, and try to escape. A fire breaks out and the whole place starts going up in flames! Tony and Larry get out, but Pete is left standing in the middle of the flames screaming about the destruction of his children! The climax turns to color. On the wall of the makeup man's house are some of monster maker Paul Blaisdell's finest creations! This film is just as entertaining as another Herman Cohen and Herbert L. Strock collaboration, (I Was A Teenage Frankenstein) also for American International Pictures. Under the excellent direction of Herbert L. Strock this movie works. Strock also also directed one of the best science fiction movies of the fifties (The Magnetic Monster), for United Artists, when he was called in to replace the first director. Both films are highly recommended!
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moonspinner551 May 2001
Pseudo "behind-the-scenes" look at Hollywood from American International Pictures, filmed (naturally) on the cheap though still retaining a certain cheesy style that is both commendable and entertaining to watch. A nefarious make-up man for a movie-studio is up to no good, turning the actors he's working on into killers. Has some movie-monster camp appeal, and A.I.P. stable-hunk John Ashley has a fabulous scene midway through (singing "You Gotta Have That Eee-Uuu!" while surrounded by a bevy of fishnet-clad chorus girls!). It's a great bit, with Ashley snarling and snapping his fingers like a post-pubescent Elvis, but the rest of this horror outing is a bit too tame and talky. ** from ****
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Early Post-Modern Horror.
AaronCapenBanner30 October 2013
Herbert L. Strock once again directs a horror thriller for AIP, but this time with a twist: This story is about AIS studio make-up artist Pete Dumond(inspired by real-life Universal make-up artist Jack Pierce?) who turns homicidal after new owners fire him, intending to phase out horror pictures altogether! Enraged, he uses a combination of hypnosis and his own chemical compound to transform actors Gary Conway(Teenage Frankenstein) and Gary Clarke(Teenage Werewolf, in place of Michael Landon)into real monsters, who kill all those who would put Pete out of work. Local police are of course baffled. Despite a clever premise, this is otherwise uninspired, being just another standard revenge picture, leading to a silly and abrupt finale. Still, it is amusing to think of the unfinished "Teenage Werewolf Vs. Teenage Frankenstein" picture being made in the film!
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Very interested but somewhat disappointing feature about a madman who is possessed by his own creations
raysond2 May 2001
During the 1950's,American International was the forefront of the "B" movie craze. During its heyday,the studio was famous for scary monster flicks and those juvenile deliquent tales and soforth. But in this one,there is a twist here and HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER does just that. It begins in a major Hollywood studio where a prop artist makes actors to look like monsters for a film they are shooting. Suddenly one of them is killed off and then another,and another until two actors find out just who is doing this and why. The answer,the prop artist is a madman who collects his figures as part of his obsession with his work,but with tragic and frightening results. Basically the rest of the film is shot in black and white,but the final 8 minutes of the film is in color. The color process wasn't the first time that AIP used this format,the other time was during the final scenes of "The Amazing Colossal Man"(1958) where the giant was brought down in color,but the rest of it was in black and white. Producers Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson wanted Roger Corman to produced,but instead took over the project which in turn was filmed right on the AIP set. Great storyline though,but in turn kinda of a disappointment. Look for a young Gary Conway(who would later appear in a dozen or so AIP films,and was later the regular in a Irwin Allen series called "Land of the Giants" on television)as the werewolf and Gary Clarke as a young but terrifying Frankenstein. It will resurfaced again on a local cable channel.
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No great shakes but amusing--especially for AIP fans
preppy-32 November 2006
Monster makeup man Pete Dumond (Robert H. Harris) is told the studio is closing down his shop because they've decided to stop making horror films. He vows revenge. The final film he's on has a teenage werewolf (Gary Clarke--not Michael Landon) and a teenage Frankenstein (Gary Conway reprising his role from the original). He puts a drug in their makeup that make them obey him and orders them to kill the studio heads.

Pretty much forgotten horror movie--for good reason! The plot is sort of interesting but it's basically a 30 minute plot stretched out to 74 minutes! A lot of talk but little action. There's also a pointless (and pretty funny) musical number by John Ashley squeezed in (purportedly he had some hits in the 1950s).

Some of the acting is good. Harris is enjoying himself and Clarke has some good moments. Conway however seems uncomfortable. The best part of this movie is the final 11 minutes--they're done in color (the rest of the film is in b&w). We get to see a good bunch of AIP monster masks, some blood, and Harris, Clarke and Conway in full color. Fans of AIP monster movies will get more of a kick out of this than anyone else. For the color ending alone I give this a 7.

Be aware--most TV prints have the whole film in b&w--the DVD has the color.
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More fun and games with teenage monsters from American International
chris_gaskin12324 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
How To Make a Monster is the third of the movies from American International to feature teenage monsters and follows I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and I Was a Teenage Werewolf.

A movie maker, Pete Dumond is fired when new people take over the studio where he works, American International. Instead of horror pictures, the new owners specialise in musicals and comedies. Pete gets revenge on the new owners by murdering them using his movie monsters, the werewolf, Frankenstein monster and also himself dressing up as a caveman. Victims include a security guard. He then takes his assistant and the two boys he uses for the monsters back to his place and after killing his assistant, he accidentally sets fire to his home but the boys manage to escape the inferno just as coppers arrive.

We get to see heads from various other monsters from AIP movies in Pete's home, including the carrot monster from It Conquered the World.

The cast includes Robert H Harris, Paul Brinegar, Gary Clarke, Gary Conway (Land of the Giants) reprising his monster role from I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and sci-fi regulars Morris Ankrum (Invaders From Mars, Earth vs the Flying Saucers) and Robert Shayne (The Giant Claw, Teenage Caveman).

This movie is a must for all 50's sci-fi/horror buffs. Great fun.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
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Nobody Appreciates The Makeup Artists
bkoganbing1 May 2010
It can never be said that American International Pictures doesn't have a sense of humor. The studio that gave us such classics as I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and I Was A Teenage Werewolf joins the two teen monsters in a cute satire of the genre.

A new day is dawning at American International, the new studio heads want no more monster pictures that were the bread and butter of its existence and paid a nice living for makeup artist Robert H. Harris. They want lighter fare for the public and give poor Harris the old heave ho.

But Harris isn't taking it lying down. A new makeup base applied to the skull allows Harris to control those he applies it on and he takes his two teen stars from Teenage Frankenstein and Werewolf and starts sending them on a murder spree and bringing back trophies.

Gary Clarke and Gary Conway were Harris's two subjects and they and Harris went along with the fun. A whole lot of familiar character actors get involved.

It's American Internation so don't expect any high production values. But it actually isn't too bad.

How To Make A Monster is made up in fact with tongue firmly in cheek.
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Behind the scenes Hollywood view of the demise of the money monsters.
mark.waltz13 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A clever mix of studio publicity and the popular monster movie genre takes place on the studio lot of the studio that made this film, American International. Usually, Hollywood studios used a generic movie studio name, but not AIP. Fired from his job as the monster movie makeup man, Robert H. Martin plots revenge against the east coast arrivals who purchased the studio and intend on making drastic changes. The new arrivals pretty much just barge into Martin's makeup studio, preferring to give him and assistant Paul Brinegar "the human way". Furiously refusing their week's worth of severance, Martin utilizes a unique way of getting the actors in his monster masks to do his dirty work for him. But he must cover up his crimes any way he can, and this means more murders!

It's pretty obvious what will happen in this enjoyable but predictable thriller, but every step of the way in resolving eveytevery does keep you engrossed. American International was the perfect studio to spoof how changing of the guard at established movie studios can lead to mass firings and a change in the type of films that studio makes. Ironically the newest studio to have an impact on the way films were made in the late 1950's, it utilized knowledge of the five major studios to create a believable situation and twist it with a campy plot twist. Martin gives a sensitive performance in spite of his actions, adding subtleties that adds sympathy to his character. Young actors Gary Conway and Gary Clarke are the men behind the masks. A sudden switch from black and white to color makes no real impact other than to be gimmicky.
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So So semi sequel to Teenage Werewolf and Frankensteins
mhorg201824 August 2018
Somewhat lame movie has fired makeup artist using his talents to turn to teens into the monsters (neither of the original actors plays the monsters which might have helped) and he uses them (of course) for revenge! Not great, not bad, but kind of a rip off in the monster department.
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How to Make a Monster was a very entertaining AIP horror flick
tavm20 June 2018
Monster makeup artist Pete Dumond (Robert H. Harris) will soon be out of a job when the new heads of the movie studio he works for tell him his services are no longer required as they tell him they plan to stop making horror films to concentrate on musicals. Since the studio depicted in this picture is actually American International Pictures, this seems to partly parallel this particular company's transition from horror movies like this one and subsequent ones starring Vincent Price to the singing "beach party" ones starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Anyway, this was quite an entertaining thriller whenever the makeup artist attempts to exact his revenge by having his latest actor subjects get hypnotized when putting his unique facial paint on them in order to get them to do his bidding. That's especially true when the scenes transition from black-and-white to color! So on that note, I highly recommend How to Make a Monster.
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Not too bad.
OrangieTooDope8 May 2017
This movie actually has a decent plot.Most of the acting is terrible but the main character is good.I do find it odd that he was just a normal make-up artist for 20 years and as soon as he gets fired he becomes a mad scientist but whatever.Everything that happens is very predictable.Normally that would be bad but somehow it doesn't seem to hurt this movie.This movies does something I have only seen one other time, it goes from black and white to color.It's cool how they do it but there was really no reason for it.It just left me wanting the entire thing in color.I'm sure the director thought it was some great artistic expression but it was totally awkward.If you like old sci-fi/thrillers you should give this a chance.
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Troubling but quite enjoyable somewhat
kannibalcorpsegrinder29 October 2016
After a strange spate of murders, the investigation into the events leads the police to believe that a recently-fired special effects master his created a series of monsters from his past projects and is instructing them to carry out his vengeance on those who wronged him, leading them to stop his plans before they continue.

For the most part this here was a fun enough effort. The main point of this one here is the fact that there's a lot of great work going behind the scenes of the movie-production system, creating a lot of studio in-jokes that are quite fun. This one has all the make-up and testing being done in their study, the near-constant talk about their slot of pictures and what it's going to mean to them in order to keep their projects going throughout the controversy the spree creates, which along with the shots actually filming work on other films there all makes for some nice times here giving this one quite a different overall feel. This is all helped by the fact that the rest of the film is pretty cheesy, especially in the monster make- up. The creations here have that low-budget charm to them which really captures the hand-crafted look that's perfectly telling which is the result of the film's other rather enjoyable element being feature here, and gives this plenty to like in a few creepy scenes here and there. The early attacks in the theater and the kitchen where the creations come out in some really thrilling encounters, and the later scenes of the Frankenstein stalking the last owner and then fleeing afterwards through the town which makes this quite fun as each creature gets a chance to shine here in a fine sequence while nicely setting the stage for the finale. Shot in color, this Gothic-flavored set-piece with the house-bound sculptures of the creatures settled around and his growing paranoia forcing along the outburst that brings about the big fire throughout the house that ends this on a really high-note. These here give this some positive elements here, though there's some detrimental issues found here. The main issue here is the film's rather bland and dragging pace, as the middle turns into a police investigation film rather than keeping the horror film segments in full segments, dropping the attacks to focus on the cops interviewing personnel or witnesses to them that shows them as completely incompetent since there's ample evidence to support the main characters as the villains. That is another factor here in that hi growing hysteria and paranoia does this no favors with the ludicrous ranting and motivations keeping this one quite goofy and silly while clearly showing his deteriorating state as being obvious to spot, and with the lack of attacks it's quite dull. Likewise, they may be fun, but the attacks are all the same and show the creatures popping up for a strangulation on each victim which is quite bland and really hurts the creativity of this one. The last flaw here is with the finale which is fun since it's shot in color, but looks more like a gimmick than anything else as it comes up out of nowhere and doesn't have anything to signal that's going to occur which really does stick out here. These here lower this one significantly, even though it does have some positives.

Today's Rating/PG: Violence.
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Self-referencing horror, years before New Nightmare and Scream
Leofwine_draca3 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A good premise is wasted in a lacklustre story for this black and white schlocker from trash king Herman Cohen. Instead of making a straightforward sequel to the earlier I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF and I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN, Cohen here weaves a tale which not only integrates the two monsters from those films but serves as a fitting, clever finale to his trilogy.

Wes Craven must have seen this film before he made WES CRAVEN'S NEW NIGHTMARE as both movies detail with murders occurring while such films are being made (if you're with me). Indeed the self-referencing technique of which Craven has been so fond of late is to the fore in HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER. In one sequence a busload of tourists are taken to a stage where HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM is being shot. Of course, this was Cohen's next picture! Other factors like movie posters for the first two monster films are utilised in this behind the scenes shocker.

Thematically, this film is the same as the previous two, in which a madman uses his two creations to kill off his enemies. Harris puts in a great performance as the multi-layered makeup artist, eliciting a number of different emotions from the viewer. At first we like him, then we feel sorry for him, only to learn that he's a maniac in the finale. Harris more than makes up for Whit Bissell's absence. Paul Brinegar makes an impression as the artist's dumb assistant (and later accomplice), and the film evokes much sympathy for him. Sadly, while Michael Landon wasn't brought back to replicate his role as the werewolf, Gary Clarke was instead substituted, and he fits the role well. It's good to see Gary Conway also return from FRANKENSTEIN. Watching these actors playing themselves is great fun. Also spot John Ashley singing on stage (awful), Ashley later went on to star in trash like THE MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND!

Other than the novelty interest, this is a slow-moving and rather simplistic film. Only a few murders occur, and much of the screen time is taken up with a slow yet inexorable police investigation as they tighten their ring around the killer. Still, the self-referencing theme makes this one an interesting, watchable piece. The ending was originally in colour but sadly stays in black and white for television prints.
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Quite A Different Horror Story
Rainey-Dawn2 May 2016
If you have seen I Was a 'Teenage Werewolf (1957)' & 'I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)' first then you will recognize the Werewolf and Frankenstein's Monster in this film. You do not have to see the first two films to watch 'How To Make A Monster' because the story has nothing to do the first two films directly - each film is a story all on it's own.

"How to Make a Monster' is a fairly interesting, campy and a fun flick. It's a B film but one of the better B horror films from the 1950s. I think it took the idea of putting the Werewolf and Frankenstein's Monster from the Universal classic 'Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man' but this film is totally different - only the idea of the two monsters in the film together is the same. This movie is actually more of a crime film with the use of 'monsters' to help commit the crimes. As I said earlier this film is fun to watch but it's nothing spectacular either.

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Headmaster on Call
sol-kay3 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** It's when hot shot businessmen Jeffery Clayton & John Nixon, Paul Maxwell & Eddie Marr,took control of the American International Movie studio that they decided to halt production on the very films that not only made the studio famous but save it from the brink of bankruptcy: Horror movies.

These two incompetent movie makers plan to crank out both teenage musicals and comedies that have been out of favor with the American public since the Great depression! It's the studios top makeup man Pete Dumond, Robert H. Harris, who' job is on the line who decides to takes matters into his own hands by using his monster makeup on his actors playing Teenage Werewolves and Frankensteins as well as Neanderthal men to do his dirty work for him. In them ridding the studio of Clyton & Nixon or anyone else who gets in his way in not leaving American international Movies the way it is: The Horror Movie capital of the world!

Getting the studio's top teenage monsters stars Tony Mantell & Larry Drake, Gary Conway & Gary Clark, who are soon to be on the unemployment line,in that horror movies are out and musical comedies in, under his hypnotic control with a secret formula foundation cream he invented Dumond has the pair murder both Clayton & Nixon as well as Monahan, Dennis Cross,this nosy security guard at the studio who's looking to make waves with his bosses. The butt kissing and brown nosing Monahan ends up dead by him sticking is nose,in what Dumond is doing, where it doesn't belong.

It's when the heat,or police, starts to get to Dumond's weak minded assistant Rivero, Paul Brinegar, that he plans to cut his losses by offing Rivero and putting his top discoveries Tony and Larry on ice! That's by decapitating them and putting their prized heads, in Werewolf and Frankenstein makeup, on display in his secret head-shop that he keeps hidden in his basement.

***SPOILERS*** It's by then that the local police lead by actor Morris Ankrum known among bad movie aficionados as the "Eternal Colonel" playing police Captain Hancock ,there's no colonels in the police department, raid the place only after it's accidentally set on fire by the boys in them trying to escape from Harris' insanity and at the same time save their heads. Harris seeing his life time of work going up in flames ends up joining it by not wanting to live in a world without movie monsters that he created! In fact it turned out that the deranged and homicidal Harris was the biggest monster of them all by taking his work too seriously!
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Fun and entertaining horror romp
mord392 October 2000
MORD39 RATING: **1/2 (of ****)

A sort-of sequel to AIP's I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF and I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN, this is a neat little picture that I grew up with on TV in the early 70's.

Pete the friendly makeup man for AIP is devastated to find out that the new company heads at the studio are going to discontinue their monster movie productions and switch to musicals instead (yeeeccchhh). In order to get even, he hypnotizes the two teenage actors playing the teen FRANKENSTEIN and the teen WEREWOLF to get revenge for him.

A cool idea that provides tightly paced fun and thrills for thirty-something's of all ages.
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How to Corrupt Innocent Young Men!
trouserpress27 April 2005
This film needs to be viewed as the third film in a trilogy. I really enjoyed I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, the latter in particular is quite hilarious in places, mostly intentionally. However, I was very impressed with How to Make a Monster. This film may qualify as the first post-modern sequel. It openly acknowledges that the first two movies were just movies. Set in American International Studios (How Arkoff and Nicholson must have wished this was true), it is an interesting satire on Hollywood politics.

It seemed that AIP were trying to move in a new direction, away from the teen-centred themes of the first two. This film focuses more on Robert H. Harris as Pete Drummond, the studio's greatest make-up man. After finding out he's being sacked by the new studio owners, he vows to get his revenge by murdering them using his own monster creations. This involves hypnotizing his two favourite teenage boys after applying their monster make-up, and the ease with which he does this suggests that murder comes easily to him. This coupled with the predatory sub-text makes him a very unpleasant person indeed. (At one point he also makes himself up as what appears to be Rondo Hatton in order to murder a security guard).

I may be accused of reading too much into what is essentially a drive-in monster movie, but HTMAM can be read as a warning to young men to avoid old predatory homosexuals, a theme which also ran through the first two movies, but more overtly so in this movie. In each film the main scientist (hey, movie make-up is a science too) has a camp, passive assistant, and they practically drool over the young male specimens at their control. This is particularly evident in IWAT Frankenstein, which focuses in great detail on the physique of the teenage monster himself. In HTMAM Drummond elucidates at great length how much he enjoys spending time with these young men, and attempts to develop a powerfully corrupting and controlling influence over them under the pretence of helping their careers.

Equally, the message of this film could simply be: If a creepy old guy invites you round for dinner, and you find he has a large collection of heads on pedestals, don't stay for dessert.

HTMAM features less overtly comical moments than I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (who can forget the classic line, "I know you have a civil tongue in your head! I sewed it there myself!), and has less to say about the awkwardness of adolescence which gave I Was a Teenage Werewolf its resonance with audiences, but is still an interesting and entertaining movie, and one which completes the trilogy with the wit and style that you associate with the majority of American International Pictures drive-in movies.

DVD extras: This DVD was released as part of The Arkoff Library Collection in the UK. Each DVD contains identical extras: a selection of original and highly amusing trailers for such classics as Earth vs the Spider, The Brain Eaters and War of the Colossal Beast. The jewel in the crown however is a fifty minute audio interview with AIP producer and B-movie legend Samuel Z. Arkoff. He starts with his own life story, and how he got into the business, and has lots of anecdotes about the hundreds of films he has been responsible for. This interview is worth the cost of the disc alone. It is worth noting that Lion's Gate Films have recently announced the R1 releases of The Arkoff Library, although there are no details yet of extras.
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Silly premise but still quite watchable.
MartinHafer29 June 2009
Everyone knows that makeup artists are expert hypnotists and can make people do things no other hypnotist can do. You must believe this or HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER might make very little sense--as this IS the premise for the film! Let me back up a bit. A long-time studio makeup man who specializes in monsters is fired when his studio is sold. The big-wigs insist that monster films are a dying breed and so his services are no longer needed. So, to get revenge, the makeup man hypnotizes two young men who are in his makeup chair for one final monster film. Made up (very poorly) like Frankenstein and the Wolf Man, they kill studio execs yet have no recollection of it afterwords. That's because as they sit their getting the prosthetics applied, the makeup artist talks to them--hypnotizing them very subtly and giving them the command to forget.

By the way, I really, really wish that hypnosis DID work that way--I'd use it for evil and global domination myself...or at least to get out of traffic tickets and get free stuff. I have a decent amount of graduate training in clinical hypnosis and believe me, if you could do this sort of brainwashing, someone would have done it a long time ago!

This is the sort of silly drive-in movie that American-International excelled at in the 50s. None of these films were brilliant or had great production values, but they were entertaining on a simple level. And, despite the silly premise and bad makeup I mentioned above, you can't help but like HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER. It's a nice behind the scenes look at the studio and it is a pleasant little diversion.

By the way, for a long-time makeup man, you sure think the guy would have done a better job with his Frankenstein. It just looked like some guy who was standing too close to an A-bomb blast and not the famous monster!

Also, interestingly the film changes from black & white to color towards the end. At this point, the makeup man shows the actors his little home gallery of masks--it's really actually very cool, as many of the American-International monsters and aliens are there in this room. Cool stuff.
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