The Monsters Rally For Part Two
The Black Sleep Scares Up 1956 Business
There was trouble between Lugosi and Lon Chaney, going back far as Bela's resentment over Lon getting Son Of Dracula in 1943 when everyone knew (or should know) that only Bela Lugosi should play the vampire king. There's report that the conflict got physical, but my interpret is that Lon was being playful in that alarming way Lon had of being playful, especially when in cups (to wit tossing Bela over his shoulder like a sack o' taters). Anyway, the two had to be kept apart for duration of shoot. My question, though: If Lugosi was hot toward Chaney re the Dracula thing, how did he feel about John Carradine, who did Daddy Drac twice for Universal in the mid-40's and was figured for that period to own the part? There was Black Sleep succor of Tor Johnson to help (sometimes literally carry) Bela on and off the set. This man was really sick. He probably shouldn't have been there at all, but BL was dedicated trouper to the end, a hero of the horrors to fanship then and now.
Aubrey Schenck and producing partner Howard W. Koch dreamed up a stunt for peaking awareness of in-progress The Black Sleep. They'd converge upon
A close look at faces reveal much. Tor cheerful and expectant (Steak good!), Bela glad to be among people who might notice him, Chaney wondering if there's something stronger than iced tea on the menu. Carradine's at head of the table, and I'll bet he led conversation, peppered perhaps with Shakespearean quotes. To make sure of a crowd's attention, there was the shaved-head woman and scarred sailor from Black Sleep's dungeon, all by way of making sure this wouldn't be confused with an Elk Lodge meeting. Plates were empty when these stills were taken. Otherwise, we'd know what everyone was having. Lugosi's taste for Hungarian repast would likely not be accommodated here. Lon the expert at barbecuing would judge well the meat being served, and I'd figure Tor took care of whatever others left on their plates. As for Carradine, his gaunt frame did not suggest a hearty appetite. Was JC a little self-conscious at being here? He had, after all, just come off The Ten Commandments for C.B. DeMille.
Aubrey Schenck had lately been on a "Senate Juvenile Delinquency Sub-Committee" grill, lawmakers burned over "scaring people" with "too much emphasis on violence and crime" in he and Koch's latest for Bel-Air, Big House U.S.A. Retort by Schenck exposed the idle threat: "The very fact that crime is violent and brutal should be a deterrent to crime" (yes, well ... O.K.). Besides, he was too busy prepping The Black Sleep and Pharaoh's Curse to worry about it. "Scaring people," said Schenck, "is popular entertainment and can be had not only in theatres but in every amusement park and public library." Say, maybe it was time to start cleaning up all that mayhem in school books and redirect youth toward uplift of Schenck/Koch pictures. Might The Black Sleep be rescue from baleful influence of parks and libraries? By Schenck's reckoning, could be ...
|Lon, John, and Bela Make a Frisco Meal of Tor|
|June 1956 Opening in L.A.|
|Teenage Visitor To The Set Gets a Shock|
Schenck/Koch were overall satisfied enough with The Black Sleep to step up thrill production,