Friday night at the home drive-in: How to Make a Monster (1958)

How to Make a Monster (1958) by #HerbertLStrock

w/#RobertHHarris #PaulBrinegar

When a master monster make-up artist for American International Pictures is fired, he uses his creations to exact revenge.

“It will SCARE the living yell out of you!”

#Horror #SciFi

I had heard mention of How to Make a Monster (1958) for years, but I didn’t know anything about the movie. It turns out to be kind of an early post-modern horror film, in that it is about a special effects make up artist working at American International Pictures – the very studio that produced this movie. We see posters for I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein – two actual American International Pictures movies released in 1957 (the year before this one). We see, supposedly, the werewolf from the first film and the monster from the second film shooting a new film together, in which they fight. This is, of course, reminiscent of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) – which was NOT by American International Pictures. 

The brilliant make up artist, Pete Drummond – played by Robert H. Harris, is suddenly fired when the studio is taken over by new management. The horror cycle is over, they claim. People want to see musicals now. Pete is understandably angry that his decades of good work are being rewarded with a pink slip. He decides to use his creations to get revenge on the executives who have destroyed his career…

How to Make a Monster is a bit ludicrous, but its tongue is firmly in cheek. And it’s a lot of fun to see the post-modern touches that seem significantly ahead of their time.  Fans of I Was a Teenage Werewolf or I Was a Teenage Frankenstein – or any 1950s B horror films – will definitely want to check it out. 

How to Make a Monster (1958) is not my favourite of the 1958 horror cycle, but I’m glad to have finally seen it. It’s #NotQuiteClassicCinema that manages to be different from most of its peers – and perhaps to predict where things would go in the future, with movies like Scream (1996) and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994). It would make a perfect triple bill with I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein on some dark and stormy #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.