Savant Column

Tuesday October 17, 2017

 It’s a day for vintage monster lore, with a fun ’50s monster link resource.

Talk about going back to one’s roots. Correspondent Michael Brunas just sent me the following note and link:

“I’m sure many of your readers remember these two 50-foot regular 8mm reels that were sold on the pages of Fantastic Monsters of the Films magazine in the early 1960s. I used to own both and have been seeking them out for years before a collector recently put them up on YouTube.”

“They’re very interesting souvenirs of the Paul Blaisell – Bob Burns collaboration. At the time many of us Monster Kids thought that the “Cliff Monster” model was actually a modified version of the classic, battery-driven Great Garloo toy that was popular in those days. I suspect that’s exactly the case. Best regards, Michael Brunas”

Do I remember? At age ten, I very strongly remember staring for minutes at a time at the full-page photo of The Cliff Monster in Fantastic Monsters. The pages devoted to ‘The Cliff Monster’ were a sales promotion; I mis-remembered ‘Golden Eagle Films’ as the defunct studio Eagle-Lion. Fantastic Monsters sold all kinds of ephemera from Paul Blaisdell, the maker of monsters and monster masks for American-International pictures. I most wanted to order slide sets of Blaisdell’s critters from It Conquered the World and The She-Creature.

The YouTube resurrection of the B&W 8mm films looks pretty good; they were uploaded by Donald Deveau just a couple of weeks ago. The home movie The Cliff Monster has some in-camera mattes, while Filmland Monsters intercuts trailer clips with home movie close-ups of Blaisdell’s monsters from the aforementioned movies, along with the bug-eyed critter from Invasion of the Saucermen.

At age 11 or so I managed to nab only two issues of Fantastic Monsters of the Films. There were apparently seven in all. I had to be both at the right magazine stand and also have 50 cents in my pocket, which back then was a tough combination. Actually, the biggest thrill here is finding the entire run of the magazine archived at and instantly accessible. I can now read all the copies, even the issues I never saw. Besides enjoying Blaisdell and Burns’ exclusive photos and articles about the monsters they created, I can see who’s contributing, how they shamelessly promote themselves, and what fans are writing in — Ronnie Borst, Donnie Glut, Donald Shay!

Paul Blaisdell got his start in movie work as a client of agent Forrest Ackerman, so I assume the relationship was finished before this competing magazine was begun. Blaisdell was likely fed up with A.I.P., after being paid peanuts to create some of the studio’s most memorable monsters. By coincidence, esteemed TCM colleague John Miller today posted on Facebook about a Heritage auction of Albert Kallis’ original poster artwork for A.I.P.’s Invasion of the Saucermen, presumably with Blaisdell’s monster designs. He was paid a couple of hundred bucks back in 1957, whereas who knows how much this poster will go for?

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson