October 6, 2005: The premiere IT CAME FROM DALLAS! at the Studio Movie Grill in Addison.
...and our answer to Plan 9 From Outer Space--Mars Needs Women!
Yvonne Craig in 1968 "Star Trek" episode Whom Gods Destroy, recreated in 2009's Star Trek!
Larry Buchanan's first commercial success...
39 years before Public Enemies, Buchanan's answer to Bonnie & Clyde
PREVIOUSLY ON "IT CAME FROM DALLAS!"
We discussed some of the Dallas B movies and producers we honored on the premiere ICFD! show. Now, for the main event of that evening - the most prolific local producer/director of the '60s and '70s, and a classic local fright flick.
Larry Buchanan (1923-2004)
The man who did for Dallas what Roger Corman did for Hollywood, Buchanan interned at the major studios and was a writer on "The Gabby Hayes Show" before returning to Dallas in the late 1950s. He worked originally for Jamieson Films, directing religious, industrial and commercial pieces before launching on his own with a long series of exploitation pics, filmed in and around Dallas. Although most could be aptly described as Oscar-challenged, they did business for drive-ins and grindhouses across the nation and created a film-making infrastructure in North Texas. Seriously, who could resist titles like The Naked Witch, Naughty Dallas, Common Law Wife, Free White and 21, and High Yellow? In the mid-'60s, Buchanan struck a deal with Hollywood's famed American International Pictures (who had distributed Free White) to remake several of their late '50s schlockfests in color for TV syndication. These became Buchanan's best-known films, as they turned endlessly-recycled late show fodder. Zontar Thing From Venus was a redo of It Conquered the World ('56), The Eye Creatures rehashed Invasion of the Saucer Men ('57), and so on. They reused the music and dialog from the originals, had an average budget of $30k, and were destined for camp classicdom. The most enduring of these, Buchanan's piece de resistance, is 1967's Mars Needs Women. Former Disney star Tommy Kirk, as martian mastermind Dop, lands in Big D with his crew, in search of breeding stock for the XX-chromosome deficient Red Planet. Wunjaknowit, he falls for "Outer Space Sexologist" Yvonne Craig (a woman any planet needs!) and faces a moral dilemma of intergalactic proportions. MNW is set in Houston, and filmed in Dallas, right down to Love Field and an SMU homecoming game. It even got a mention in the "AFI's 100 Heroes, 100 Villains" TV special, something Buchanan sadly didn't live to see. In his later years, Buchanan returned to the west coast and cranked out a variety of B's, everything from cheap monster epics (Loch Ness Horror) to pseudo-biopics (Goodnight Sweet Marilyn). We honored him posthumously with our Pioneer Filmmaker Award, which was accepted by Buchanan family friend Pat Lindsey.
DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT! (1973)
Dallas' answer to that Austin gore classic from the same year is still the most famous horror flick from our fair town. Thanks to being acquired by Hallmark Releasing, it was double-billed with the original Last House On the Left, shared that flick's infamous ad campaign ("It's only a movie! Only a movie!") and even a few seconds of LHOTL in its trailer. It continued to play drive-ins throughout the '80s, and is now widely available on DVD, for a whole new generation of gorehounds to savor that legendary paper spike scene. It was spoofed as one of the fake trailers in 2007's Grindhouse, and a remake starring B-movie scream queen Debbie Rochon is in the works. "The Day the Insane Took Over the Asylum!" was the lasting contribution of S. F. "Brownie" Brownrigg (1937-1996), who started as a sound man and editor on many of Buchanan's films, and went on to helm four more features and numerous other film and TV productions in Texas. In addition, he was president of Century Studios, a top Dallas production facility.
We packed the Studio Movie Grill in Addison for our premiere ICFD! show, on October 6, 2005. WFAA's Gary Cogill and I co-hosted, with some outstanding guests:
From Rock Baby Rock It! :
guitarist Donnie Gililland, still performing locally;
Kay Wheeler, joining us by phone hookup from San Jose, California - at the time, she was president of the world's first Elvis fan club, and went on to appear in Hot Rod Girl and become a teen idol herself.
From the films of Larry Buchanan and S. F. Brownrigg:
Producer Clyde Knudson (High Yellow), actors Bill McGhee, Hugh Feagin, Robert Dracup, soundman Skip Frazee (It's Alive!), longtime Dallas special FX guru Jack Bennett, and more;
Libby Hall (The Naked Witch) and Anthony Brownrigg, wife and son of S. F. Brownrigg; Tony's an actor and filmmaker himself, with tons of local cred.
Yvonne Craig, via live phone link from Pacific Palisades, CA, a true showbiz vet who is fondly remembered by baby boomer TV junkies as "Batgirl" and as Capt. Kirk's green space babe. She also appeared in major Hollywood films and countless other TV episodes. A former Dallasite herself, Yvonne related how she went to her first meeting with the unknown Buchanan, packing a just-in-case gun in her purse, and also hooked up in Dallas with Warren Beatty, who was in town to make Bonnie & Clyde at the same time Mars Needs Women was shooting.
Sound like fun? then make a date for CURSE OF IT CAME FROM DALLAS: TAKING THE FIFTH! on October 15, 2009 at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas at 7pm.
NEXT ON IT CAME FROM DALLAS: IT CAME FROM DALLAS #2: AS IF ONCE WASN'T ENOUGH!!!