Saturday, June 14, 2003

I was watching AMC just last night, when my eyes beheld a unexpected sight: Curse of the Swamp Creature, a grade triple-Z monster movie from the worst filmmaker not named Ed Wood: Larry Buchanan. This one had everything: wretched acting, leaden direction, a washed up, has-been star (the unfortunate John Agar), ludicrous makeup and effects and a washed-out, yellowed looking, scratchy print that reminded me of Polaroid photos my folks made of me back in 1966. Buchanon made quite a few of these low-budget wonders; others include the legendary Mars Needs Women, the original It's Alive, which recycled the monster makeup from Curse, and The Eye Creatures, a remake of the already grade-z drive-in classic Invasion of the Saucer Men.

Now I kid, but truth be told, I live to see these flicks when they infrequently air on TV these days. I always get a kick out of obscure, low budget old 50s & 60s monster movies, and they were easily found on the tube when I was growing up. Heck, back in the day I had the Big Show, weekdays 4-5:30 on Nashville Channel 5 plus Creature Features and Fright Night, which aired Saturday nights (Channel 4, Nashville and Channel 41 Louisville respectively) from 10:30-12 AM for several years. These days, you have to luck up on them when they occasionally air on AMC, TCM or a pay cable channel. I wish that there was a regular outlet for these kind of films, and seeing Curse, (which I had seen two or three times previously over the years) on a Saturday night was a big part of the fun.

It's like Meat Loaf once sang: "Whatever happened to Saturday night...".

Go here for a synopsis, with screen grabs, from Curse. Here's the IMDb listing for Larry Buchanan.

Another item of note about Buchanan and his films: a young actor named Warren Hammack appeared in one or two of them, most notably Mars Needs Women with Yvonne (Batgirl) Craig. After Hammack gave up his Hollywood ambitions, he moved back to Kentucky and established a professional repertory theatre not long after which he dubbed Horse Cave Theatre. Since my kids have been working and participating in the theatre, I've been able to be around Hammack (who retired last year) and ask him about his Buchanan days, about knowing Agar and Craig, and many other geekish things. He has always seemed bemused by my interest, and didn't really want to tell any tales out of school apparently so I didn't really get much out of him. He maintains he was just looking to make some money, did his work, got paid and was gone. He was friends with Agar, but again I got no sordid tales. Oh well– it's cool just knowing someone who starred in some of the most Psychotronic of Pyschotronic films.

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