Corman scares up `Monsterfest Weekend'

Shlock classics: Low-budget masterpieces on AMC include `Frankenstein,' `Godzilla' and 32 more.

TV and Radio

October 27, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

For those who have outgrown trick-or-treating, I have only one thought: thank goodness for movies on TV.

Next to getting dressed up like your favorite spook and getting candy for the privilege, there's no better way to spend Halloween than nestled in front of the television, letting yourself be scared by some of the maestros of the horror genre.

This year, the best place to get freaked is AMC, where a "Monsterfest Weekend" beginning Friday will air 34 films, featuring everyone (or should that be everything?) from Frankenstein to Rodan, Godzilla to the Amazing Colossal Man, Dr. Phibes to Mecha-godzilla.

As a bonus, one of the masters of low-budget shock, the incorrigible Roger Corman, will be on hand to introduce each film, including several of his own. Corman also serves as the central figure of a 35-part serial that will air between films, telling the tale of a pair of "useless interns" (the serial's words not mine) who are sent into AMC's film vaults in search of a missing feature, "The Phantom Eye."

The serial cheesily mimics such classic horror films as "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Bride of Dracula," and offers Corman plenty of chances to ham it up in his role as "Dr. Goreman" (OK, so it's not the most clever thing ever aired; it's still a lot of fun).

Not all the films may be up to your standards, and some may make you scream for reasons that have nothing to do with being scared. If your idea of hell is badly dubbed Japanese monster flicks, for instance, then you might want to find alternative means of entertainment Saturday, when, from 1 p.m. on, the day's lineup is nothing but big, roaring beasts laying waste to Tokyo.

Also, if your time is limited, perhaps you'll want to limit yourself to one film a day. Start Friday night with "The Amazing Colossal Man" (12: 40 a.m.), Bert I. Gordon's cautionary tale of an Army colonel exposed to radiation who grows too big for anyone's britches and takes it out on Las Vegas.

On Saturday, try "Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster" (4 p.m.), as a Martian inhabits the body of a Japanese princess and tries to warn hapless humans that Gidrah is on the way. Fortunately, Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra (and you've got to love the two tiny fairies who summon the giant moth) combine their ferocity to take on Gidrah and save the planet.

Sunday, the rarely seen "The Crawling Eye" (2: 30 p.m.) features Forrest Tucker (in his pre-"F-Troop" days) going up against some nasty critters from outer space out to take over the planet -- and starting with a remote mountain village in the Alps. Very scary, and even if the critters themselves don't show up until the end, they're worth the wait.

As for the rest of the weekend's lineup -- which includes such winners as Corman's "It Conquered the World" (10 p.m. Friday), "She Creature" (11: 15 p.m. Friday), Ray Harryhausen's "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" (7: 30 a.m. Saturday), "Godzilla" (1 p.m. Saturday), "The House on Haunted Hill" (8 p.m. Sunday) and "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" (1: 30 a.m. Sunday night) -- now would be a good time to figure out that VCR timer.

Poe-esque casting

When Edgar Allan Poe shows up on Friday's episode of ABC's "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," he might look very familiar to Baltimore viewers.

For not only does the actor playing Poe look the part, but he's got the name, too. Lutherville native Edgar Allan Poe IV, Poe's great-great-great nephew, may have finally found himself a niche after 15 years of acting.

"Oh, yes, he was communicating to me on the set," Poe says with a hearty laugh of his famous ancestor.

"He kept saying, `Don't let them make fun of me.' I told him, `Hey, it's a comedy. I have to do what the director says.' "

Coincidentally, Poe had just finished playing Poe in a film starring Brendan Fraser and Bridget Fonda (its working title -- it hasn't been slated for release yet -- is "Monkey Bone") when the casting call went out for "Sabrina."

So, any eerie moments during filming?

"Well, I wasn't familiar with the show, so I was surprised there was this black cat talking to me," he says. "That seemed kind of Poe- esque."

WHFS takes to road

Yes, WHFS-FM (99.1) is broadcasting from a bus these days. But no, it's not because some Simon Legree showed up with a canceled lease and kicked the station out of its Landover studios.

The station has actually been planning a move to a studio a few miles away on Route 50 and should begin broadcasting from the new studio early next month.

Drive to help WEAA-FM

The good folks at WEAA-FM (88.9) begin a weeklong membership drive today. The station has come up with seven membership levels, ranging from $20 for a student to $1,000 for the executive level.

If you like WEAA's unique mix of jazz, gospel, Caribbean and hip-hop, how about sending a few dollars its way?

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