Monster of the Day #74

The world is a much sadder place for lacking another Paul Blaisdell.  Although his creations were foam and not meant to last long in this weary world, it’s still incredibly depressing to see many of props go up in flame at the end of How to Make a Monster.  Still, through the magic of celluloid his amazing creatures live on for now and for all the foreseeable future.  Here’s to you, sir!  You’ve made many a life a richer experience.

  • John Campbell

    Is it me or did a lot of the costumes back then have hands that had very little articulatio/mobility?

    Like the guy in the first screencap holding the spear tha looks like Heat Miser’s head. The hands are stiff and you can see how they don’t flex right.

    A limitation of materials I guess.

    Still cool stuff!

  • Well, plus Blaisdell would literally be working with something like a $500 budget on some of these movies.

  • BeckoningChasm

    I like Blaisdell’s stuff, but the built-in leering scowl on all of his creations can be a little too much.

    Incidentally, Larry Buchanan’s God-awful remake is available on Instant View on Netflix. I have not seen the original, and I hear it ain’t that great, but ninety minutes of blank leader would beat Buchanan’s effort.

  • Rock Baker

    Pop’s all-time favorite guitly pleasure! I love it too, Invasion of the Saucer Men is a hoot! (But then, I grew up on the 50s AIP stuff so I love it all.)

    The hands are a bit more flexible in the film itself. Mobility is not really the issue, its just that the fingers are so long.

    Luckily, Bob Burns (who acted as Paul’s frequent assistant -it’s actually Bob who gets a hypo-hand to the face during Lyn Osborn’s attack scene) has had some of the Blaisdell props restored, including a Saucerman mask (and an It Conquered the World control device).

    If you’ll note in the top picture, the Martians have smaller heads than in the bottom picture. The bottom pic shows a rare test shot of the original masks. Cahn thought they were too big and had Blaisdell shrink them. He did so by slicing a big wedge out of the back of each head and then sinching it down with string like a corset.

  • BC — Actually, Saucer Men is pretty decent, filled with Corman-y satire (including some military stuff that’s a little ahead of it’s time for the ’50s), some nice monsters, a nicely out of left field plot, and a typically fun performance by Frank Gorshin.

  • Gamera

    I hope that can-opener thing the alien on the left in the top photo is holding isn’t an anal probe…..


    Another film I’m going to have to put down on my list to see.

  • BeckoningChasm

    I wish some studio would just put out a “Corman Sci Fi Collection!” or something, with this, Attack of the Crab Monsters, It Conquered the World, Not of This Earth, etc. I’d pay money for that.

  • zombiewhacker

    One of those monsters that scared me as a kid.

    Opinions as to whether the Saucer Men were Blaisdell’s greatest feat? I give a tentative yes.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    This movie is a lot of fun. I love the idea behind what the aliens inject into people (trying not to spoil it)–it is really a great idea. It drags in spots, but overall it’s worth the time to watch. One of my favorite alien designs ever. I adore these little guys.

    That scene with the bull still makes me cringe a bit. OUCH!!

  • Rock Baker

    It is odd, isn’t it? Horror/comedies were still fairly rare in 57 (not that this was the first one or anything, certainly not, but most other movies of this vintage were played perfectly straight -even the Eye Creatures remake).

  • Well, Corman and the people he had with him, especially screenwriter Charles Griffith, definitely had a penchant for the tongue in cheek approach. Still, the stuff with the military covering up stuff from the public, while played for laughs, definitely predates The X-Files by a number of decades.

    Oddly, that’s true of Plan 9 as well.

  • Rock Baker

    Important to note about that element is that, while operating an out and out deception, the Army guys are still the Good Guys here. They’re doing what they’re doing because they believe it to be the right thing to do, and it’s better for the civilian population that they not know the truth. The X Files and similar entertainment tends not to be so generous with the armed forces or their political counterparts, often showing their actions as nothing but sinister. (Reflecting on it, it seems most old monster movies have a portion where the military keeps information from the public to avoid panic -Them! and Beginning of the End, for example-, finally alerting the world at large when the menace can no longer be contained. The Police are seen doing this often as well, if they’re fighting gangsters or monsters.)

    Edward Cahn was a good director, I felt. Here, he handles light comedy and shadowy menace equally well, often jumping from one mode to the other, then back again with dizzying ease. That this was the same man who directed the dark and brooding The She Creature, or the tense and cramped It! The Terror from Beyond Space, is very impressive.