The Thunder Child

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Web Magazine and Sourcebooks

Vol 1, Issue #7
"Stand By For Mars!"
March 2006

Non-Fiction Book Reviews
by Caroline Miniscule

The Amazing B Monster:
Personality profiles, interviews and reviews from the world's most popular cult-movie Webzine!

edited by Marty Baumann, Dinoship
240 pages, one photo in each chapter, index

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Editor Marty Baumann is an award-winning freelance artist. He was a journalist for USA Today for six years, founded The Astounding B Monster webzine, and is also the author and illustrator of The Crater Kid.

Marty Baumann founded The Astounding B Monster webzine in 1996 and its been going strong ever since (although it celebrated its tenth anniversary recently by announcing its closure. The archives will remain online).

Take a look at the back cover of The Astounding B Movie book and everyone from Entertainment Weekly to the British Film Institute sings its praises! The ubiquitous Tom Weaver is also on the masthead of the webzine!

Now Baumann has collected some of the best interviews from the zine and committed them to paper: from James Arness dispelling the myth that he was ever embarrassed about playing an 'intellectual carrot' in The Thing, to Bruce Campbell's adventures wwith the Evil Dead, to Fess Parker's 'big break' in Thm!, to Mamie van Doren relishing her reputation as the first sex kitten in cyber space.

Like the webzine, this book is an eclectic mixture of obscure actors and name stars. It's all about 'B' movies, and while the majority of those covered are science fiction and horror, there's the occasional western or crime drama thrown in as well.

Dick Contino is known as the "Valentino of the Accordion" for example. He was also the star of 'a string of B pictures reincarnated as a film noir phantom haunting Hollywood's underworld.'

Leo Gordon, the tough-guy villain in Hondo and McClintock, also scripted such classic Corman fare as Attack of the Giant Leeches, The Wasp Woman, and The Cry Baby Killer, not to mention a few episodes of Adam-12.

Everyone interviewed has something of interest to say, whether it is of their career during the day, or their life afterwards. A filmography of relevant B-movies accompanies each chapter.

In addition to being a lot of fun, the book is a slightly oversized trade paperback and affordably priced, which makes it an excellent addition to your movie-makers bookshelf.

Flaws? Well, none of the interviews are dated. (Even on the webzine they're not dated.) Charlotte Austin speaks of scripting a musical called Scared White, based on the O. J. Simpson trial, and how long ago was that? A couple of people have died since these interviews were given, and there's an 'Editor's Note' at the end of the interview pointing this out. (But there's no update as to the status of Scared White...)

Only one photograph accompanies each interview - usually a head shot of the actor/individual from their glory days.


James Arness: Now Here's the Thing
Charlotte Austin: The Gorilla Can't Help It
Pat Boyette: Texas Terror's Lone Star
Bruce Campbell: Army of Darkness: Militia's Intent
Robert Clarke: Here Comes the Sun Demon Dick Contino: Daddy-O's Double Life Story
Richard Cunha: Giant Among Unknowns
Pamela Duncan: A Trance Encounter With Fame
Anne Francis: She Made Id Worth the Trip
Robert Fuller: Fuller's Brush With the Brain
Beverly Garland: Queen of the Screamers
Alex Gordon: The Fan Behind the Camera
Leo Gordon: Big As Life and Twice as Ugly
Jack Hill: Giving Birth to Spider Baby
Jimmy Hunt: Sci-Fi Fairy Tale
Ed Kemmer: Buzz Corry's Personal Space
Lori Nelson: How the Creature Finally Caught Up With Her
Fess Parker: Them's the Breaks
Rex Reason: The Voice of Reason
Ann Robinson: George Pal's World War Wonder
Herb Strock: How To Make A Monster
Del Tenney: Horror of Party Beach: A Shore Thing
Mamie van Doren: The First Sex Kitten in Outer Space
Yvette Vickers: Lust Among the Leeches
Mel Welles: The Little Shop's Original Proprietor
Marie Windsor: Kubrick and the Cat-Women

Baumann also treats us to two humorous essays. At the front of the book we have "Before We Begin," a series of comments on the science fiction movies being made today:

Know Your History Science fiction was invented by James Cameron some time in the mid 1980s.
The Future Will Suck We're all doomed to a gloomy dystopia.
Dazzling Dialogue There's always time for the protagonist to pause and make a wisecrack.
It's Inevitable Your Robot Will Go Haywire!
Plan for Sequels They're already casting Matrix 4 through 9....
It's a Good Popcorn Movie Are "good popcorn movies" necessarily "good" movies?
Don't Get Caught Up in that Whole "Originality" Thing Call it what you will, but contemporary science fiction is not about creativity.

and he provides a call to action as a coda: "Revenge of the boomer monsters!" in which he exhorts the movie fan to demand better quality from the film producers of today.

And that's a message Hollywood needs to hear.

External sites:

1) The Amazing B Monster

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