This Weekend’s Fright Flick is a loving replication of the style and limitations of 1950s B films films. Creator and director Benjamin J. Heckendorn (as “Alexander B. Kressel” and producer “Herbert Clay”) is a man with a passion. He loves monsters — and hey! don’t we all?
His repertoire of small independent films is full of the beasties — and we’ll be taking a look at more of them soon.
Today you’re offered a giant lizard for your delectation, in black-and-white and replete with deliberately corny dialogue, cheesy SFX and cinematic limitations worthy of Bert I. Gordon himself.
The Lizard of Death (US-2000; short [41 min.]; dir. Benjamin J. Heckendorn as “Alexander B. Kressel”)
The director commented:
My loving emulation of a bad 1950’s horror movie. Filmed in black & white DV with vintage costume, props etc. Computer filtered to look old. This is still one of my favorite projects, since I had a relatively easy time filming it and was quite pleased with the results. The fact we did the entire thing in 9 months didn’t hurt either!The basic idea was, a bankrupt movie studio made LOD in 1959, but wasn’t able to complete it due to lack of funds, therefore making the film very short (and bad).
He explains that he and his comrades decided they would “ghost make” this film, putting fictional actors and directors names in the credits. “In theory, if someone didn’t know anyone or any of the places in the film, it would look like it came from the 50s.”
… LOD is an emulation, not a parody, of a bad 50’s horror movie. For everything “bad” in the movie we had to decide why it was bad. Did the producers not have enough money? Time? A clock on the wall is more likely to just not run/change at all, rather than change with every shot (see “Destination Mars”).
The most important source of badness, however, was the writing. I was a huge Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fan back in the day, and I drew upon that as a source. Whenever I put something *questionable* in LOD, I thought “what would the robots say about this?” Often I would put sub-notes in the script to give the actors clues as to what was specifically supposed to be bad about the shot, mostly to make them laugh and help them ‘pre-visualize’ what we were shooting for. A few bad things snuck through on accident, naturally, such as Mayor Stone holding a bundle of dynamite while smoking a pipe.
He identifies Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and “that supreme film of crappiness” Robot Monster as central inspirations.
So sit back and enjoy!
Note: you can download the film in higher resolution from Heckendorn’s website if you have the bandwidth to spare.