Super-Heroes chapter 1
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“It seems as though I had always been a fan of costumed heroes. As a very young child I was a huge fan of Superman -- on his radio and television shows, in movies, on 78 rpm records and, of course, in the character’s newspaper strip and various comic books. Living in Chicago, I was also exposed to a lot of the old chapterplays (see posters of some of these, above) that were playing both in theaters and on local TV. Super-heroes offered many opportunities for amateur moviemakers. Their costumes made them visually striking and their special talents offered challenges for ‘spectacular’ stunt work and special effects. Most of these films were made in an intentionally ‘campy’ style long before the Batman TV show popularized that style.
“My first super-hero effort was the very primitive Captain Marvel. Subsequent film attempts would show improvements in all respects, mostly in the costuming and special effects (particularly scenes in which the hero flew), after seeing the more professional amateur movies made by my friend Larry Ivie.
“With my move to Los Angeles in 1964, I continued to make ‘super-hero’ type movies. Batman and Robin (which had been shot in part in Wheeling, IL) and Captain America Battles the Red Skull were filmed in Milbrae, CA, with Larry Ivie appearing in both. Shortly thereafter, Larry and I wore the Cap and Skull outfits (winning prizes for them) at the World Science Fiction Convention held Labor Day weekend in Oakland, CA.
“My first movie project done as homework at the USC film school was a super-hero effort, Captain America vs. the Mutant. The assignment was to shoot a short film that had a certain amount of pans, cuts, close ups, etc., all done in camera. I also threw in special effects, match cuts and action – all done in camera. The film was shot in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park with great assistance by good friends Bob and Kathy Burns. Randal Kleiser , later one of Hollywood’s most prominent motion picture directors, portrayed Cap, wearing the actual costume from Republic’s 1944 Captain America serial. Bob, wearing the first Don Post mask of the character made from the original Universal mold, enacted the Metaluna Mutant’s (the character from the movie This Island Earth) role.
“During the middle to late 1960s, when so-called ‘underground movies’ were popular, Spy Smasher vs. the Purple Monster, Batman and Robin, Captain America Battles the Red Skull and also Rocketman Flies Again (in which the original helmet from Republic’s ‘Rocket Man’ serials was used) all became part of the Chicago Film-Makers Co-op catalog, thanks to friend and sometimes movie collaborator D. Ray Craig. As a result the films were shown – for money! – at various colleges, in ‘underground’ movie theaters, on buses, etc. Spy Smasher premiered in 1967 at the Aardvark Theatre in Chicago’s Old Town and then played one chapter per week on local Chicago TV (e.g., Raymond LaRue's Saturday Night Movie Palace). During the 1970s, my Rocketman – including monster-magazine celebrities Larry M. Byrd , Eric Hoffman and stuntman Bart Andrews in the cast -- would be released on 16mm film by Glen Photo Supply.
“Atom-Man vs. Martian Invaders was a self-contained sequel to my Spy Smasher serial. Featuring an original flying hero, it was influenced by several Republic serials, particularly Zombies of the Stratosphere. Among the cast, as another evil Martian, … was Bobby (‘Dunny’) Donaho, drummer in the Penny Arkade (later re-formed as the Armadillo), the rock band I played in during the late 1960s, produced by then-Monkee Mike Nesmith . The movie includes a bit of the Penny Arkade recording "Love Rain" playing over Atom-Man's radio.
“ Spider-Man was not only my last super-hero movie, but my last amateur film of any kind. It featured a costume I had also worn at the ‘World Con’ held in Cleveland and which I had hoped might sell a TV show I was pitching to Stan Lee, one of Spidey’s creators. The film featured famous nostalgia author Jim Harmon and also had a cameo by William G. Obbagy , president of the International Bela Lugosi Fan Club (who also shot all the still photos for this movie). It enjoyed one ‘theatrical’ play, slipped by me into an evening of USC student films at the Fairfax Theatre in Los Angeles.
"Three super-hero movies planned ca. 1963 were The Adventures Of The Black Belt (Karate-based original character), Commando Yank and The Blue Beetle. None of these got made (nor did Torpedoman Strikes, an intended USC student film for which I wrote the script in 1965, featuring an original flying hero).
“Rocket Man Flies Again, Atom-Man vs. Martian Invaders and Spider-Man, by the way, all had scenes shot in Bronson Caverns , the famous and quite familiar LA movie location.”
“CAPTAIN MARVEL” (1962, black & white)"
“THE HUMAN TORCH” (1963, color)
“SPY SMASHER VS. THE PURPLE MONSTER” (1964, black & white, four-chapter serial)
“BATMAN AND ROBIN”(1964, color)
“CAPTAIN AMERICA BATTLES THE RED SKULL” (1964, color)
“CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. THE MUTANT” (1964, black & white)
“ROCKETMAN FLIES AGAIN” (1966, color)
“ATOM-MAN VS. MARTIAN INVADERS” (1967, black & white)
“SPIDER-MAN” (1969, color)
Super & Serial Heroes Chapter 1
The Human Torch
Spy Smasher VS. The Purple Monster|
Batman And Robin Capt. America Battles The Red Skull Capt. America VS. The Mutant Rocketman Flies Again
Atom-man VS. Martian Invaders # 1 Atom-man VS. Martian Invaders # 2 Spider-man # 1 Spider-man # 2
Super & Serial Heroes Chapter 2 Superduperman The Adventures Of The Spirit
Superman VS. The Gorilla Gang # 1 Superman VS. The Gorilla Gang # 2 Sitemap