How to make a monster (1958)
Director: Herbert L. Strock
Producer: Herman Cohen, James H. Nicholson
Writer: Herman Cohen, Aben Kandel
Date Released: July 1, 1958
Robert H. Harris as Pete Dumond
Gary Conway as Tony Mantell / the Teenage Frankenstein
Gary Clarke as Larry Drake / the Teenage Werewolf
Paul Brinegar as Rivero
Malcolm Atterbury as Security Guard Richards
Dennis Cross as Security Guard Monahan
Morris Ankrum as Police Capt. Hancock
Walter Reed as Detective Thompson
Rating = 4/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Pete is an expert makeup artist in a movie studio, American International Studios. One day, two executives from NBN Associates comes into his makeup room and tell Pete that they are taking over the Studio company and that his services are no longer needed. Their reason for firing Pete is that they believe horror movies are no longer of interest to the public and they offer him a one weeks’ severance payment. With 25 years working at the studio, Pete becomes disgruntled and angered that they are taking away the one thing he loves. As a result, Pete uses a secret chemical in his makeup to exact his revenge and show the new executives that they made a big mistake.
There is no gore in this film. However, the prosthetic work and makeup designs are very impressive. Pete’s creations of the Werewolf and Frankenstein are classic monster tributes that will make any horror fan smile.
The Grave Review
How to Make A Monster (1958) presents a clever storyline about an angered makeup artist. Sources indicate that this film is a continuation of earlier works, I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957). The highlight of the film comes from the great makeup design of the Werewolf and Frankenstein characters. What is interesting about the cinematography is that most of the movie is shot in black and white. However, in the last segment of the film, the scenes are shot in color. Perhaps this was a creative choice but it certainly added an unusual but clever dimension to the film. In some ways, the film pokes fun at the studio business and the long hours that are put in. Of course, fast forward 60 years later, much of the business has changed. But, there are still certain aspects of the film industry that hold true today.
Another great aspect of this film is the dialogue. It is hard to believe that some of these quotes are truly timeless and are applicable even in the 21st century.
In one quote:
Pete: “Why, even psychiatrists say that in all these monster pictures there’s not only entertainment, but for some people there’s therapy. Well, you know, we never get over our childhood fears of the sinister – those terrifying faces we see in our nightmares. Well, through these pictures we can live out our hidden fears. It helps.”
In another quote:
Executive: “Turn down money. Maybe you’ve been living too long with these monsters!”
Pete: “Sometimes I find them better company than humans.”
In addition to the dialogue, the performance of Robert H. Harris who played Pete Dumond along with the rest of the cast performed exceptionally well. Even John Ashley made a cameo appearance in this film. For those who are unfamiliar with John Ashley, he later starred in the Blood Island series which seemed rather coincidental.
Today, horror films are being made quite frequently as the interest is increasing every day. Of course, the quality of those films may be lacking but that is a separate discussion. As they say, quantity does not equal quality. With that in mind, we can safely say that How to Make a Monster (1958) is as insightful as it is entertaining. The film was later remade in 2001 and incorporated a more modern premise but was poorly executed. The 1958 film is by far a superior version of the two.
Overall, this is a really great film that can be easily overlooked. This film is recommended for anyone who loves classic horror.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives How to make a monster (1958) four graves out of five graves.
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