Monday, 30 July 2018


EVEN AS THE CAMERA first began turning on 10th of October 1970,  it was felt that the Amicus film 1971 film,  'I MONSTER' was not going to have an easy time either during production or after it. What should have been a subtle dream-like and different gear, for the well worn telling of the JEKYLL and HYDE story, it was instead rapidly turning into a nightmare, just days into production. Amicus films producer, Milton Subotsky was, compared to his business partner, Max Rosenberg, quite a shy and reserved fellow. He left the contracting and book work to Max in the USA, while Milton managed the more creative side of production, at the studios in the UK. Milton though calm and reserved, could be quite passionate and stubborn, when he thought he had discovered something that would improve and enhance any of their film projects. He was known for dabble editing and probing into areas, where crews and managers, reacted in REAL horror. 

IN THE CASE OF 'I MONSTER', Milton thought he had discovered, a cheap and effective way of making the classic Jekyll and Hyde tale, a 3D masterpiece and CHEAPLY! His vision was discovered one day, when playing with his young son at home, looking through plastic candy sweet wrappers, colours blue and red. What Milton had come across was the school boy chemistry set, hit and miss theory of 'The Pulfrich Effect', so named after Carl Pulfrich its founder. It was a system that depending on your vision, could not be relied upon, and certainly not thought good enough, to stand as a 3D effect, to enhance an entire movie. The crew was instructed to suddenly rehash the many weeks spent blocking and plotting camera direction set ups. All of that went out of the window. On top of that, director Stephen Weeks felt rumblings of resistance and the beginnings of a sour working relationship with the crew, who resented an unknown 'young guy' being chief. The industry at this time,  was strongly union, tight and fighting cuts and lack of work. The  shrinking of what was once a major industry in the country, was dying a slow death and Weeks felt that his 'boyish looks and early twenty's age', was going against him. Even though he was more than experienced and competent, the crew made problems. All these factors, made for shaky foundations on what was, a tight budget, short schedule, that now appeared to have changed direction, with a ham fisted idea of 3D, that hardly anyone could see! You can read MORE about this in a NEW feature arriving here at the PCASUK website this week 

I MONSTER, has been ignored and kept out of any chance of revival, that many other fantasy films made in the 60's and 70's, have enjoyed of late. No remastering, no DVD or blu ray repackage and that is shame. The film does have some issues, but it has three things in it's favor. The direction is very good, the performances of both CUSHING and LEE are as we would expect, excellent. Lee pulls off something quite different, compared to the many of his known characters roles, over those years, DRACULA, FU MANCHU and a VAST array of villains. Lee's Mr Blake is like a brain fractured child, with a sledge-hammer approach to anything he doesn't understand. 

IT REALLY IS SOMETHING quite different for Lee, and is wonderfully enhanced by make up artist Harry Frampton's touch, as Dr Marlowe's face and body, slides into a horrifying vision of  hate and evil! CUSHING did best with what he was presented, playing the 'good-guy' who will save the day. What is different in his role of Frederick Utterson, is how he applies his rules of inquisitiveness and doubt. Unlike with Vampier Hunter, Van Helsing there is no chasing and dramatic crosses and stakes. Here he is trying to rescue his friend and colleague, Marlowe from an unwelcome visitor called Mr Blake. Not knowing, they are one...and the same.  

THE PACE OF EDITING ACCOMPANIED by a beautiful musical score from composer CARL DAVIS, from the beginning flags up, this wasn't going to be anything like the tried and tested, familiar sights and sounds,  of market leader, Hammer films, who were Amicus films only genre competitor in the UK at this time. What we are given is a almost dream-like flip of a well known story. All sets look authentic for the time, as do the costumes. The language and reserved quality of communication among professional men, plays out well. All guys are emotionally tongue tied, stiff as their starchy collars and wrought in the game of upper class frigidness and good manners. 

IT'S BLEAK, and all wrapped up in soup like fog, which Blake LOVES and uses as cover, as he stalks, like some man-child-rabid rat. When the end comes, it's sad to see him go. Like a naughty child, who has no concept or understanding of what he has done wrong, the climax of his violent collapse plays like, the waking up from a personal bad dream. He fades away. But like those nightmares, the visions and echo's of what one has been experienced and seen, stay with you long after the lights have come up, and a new day begins . . .  'I MONSTER' deserves a better and a patience audience, who appreciates, not all tales are told with screaming sound and busty vampire bites!

PART TWO of our I MONSTER GALLEY will be posted here MONDAY 6th AUGUST. Some of the rare pics from this and part one gallery are also posted at our FACEBOOK PETER CUSHING APPRECIATION SOCIETY UK FAN PAGE where followers of the page and lovers of Peter Cushing work, can discuss and debate the film, 'I MONSTER' and Cushing's role in this and other films for Amicus. Wherever you are in the world, you are invited to join us at our PCASUK FACEBOOK FAN PAGE along with over 33 thousand other friends and fans. Just CLICK HERE  and CLICK LIKE THERE! We would love top have you along!  

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