Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Married A Monster from Outer Space

A face only a mother ( or SCI-FI fan ) could love.

After the success of his beautifully crafted martian from War of the Worlds,Charlie Gemora followed it up with the memorable "space monster" from the 1958 classic ,"I Married a Monster from Outer Space". Tom Tryon and Gloria Talbott star in this odd story of creepy aliens possesing humans for arcane cross breeding "experiments".
After their honeymoon, Gloria Talbott starts noticing odd behaviour in her new husband (Tryon). Taking her concerns to her friends, all the women in town,who have recently had children, start notice all their hubbys acting in a weird, distant manner. All the men folk have been "replaced" by alien invaders who can assume the identity of anyone. The original husbands are secretly kept prisoner in a catatonic state back at the saucer( where else?) Soon the wives get the drift of whats going on, and the hunt is on to kill the aliens, and rescue the captured hubbys.

The aliens in the film were the handy work of our old gorilla hero, Charles Gemora.The look of the aliens was fantastic,with an organic, almost plantlike feel to it. Even today, the alien would not look out of place in any outer space cantina you may happen to find yourself in.
   Charlie not only designed and built the costumes used in the film, but played the alien as well. Charlies ability to use "Body English" was pushed to the limits here as not only could his eyes not be seen , to convey emotion, but he could barely move the head at all. Things like a simple tilt of the head can go a long way to help convey feeling, and without that as an option, Charlie really showed his skill as an actor, through the use of movement with the rest of his body to get his point across.

Note the size difference between Tom Tryon, and Charlie Gemora as the alien.
An infinitely more imposing shot of Charlie, who was standing on a box, while Tryon and Gloria Talbott are in a seated position.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crash, the Terror from Beyond Space!

   One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was the weekly viewing of "Creature Features", on Saturdays at Midnight , followed up by "Science Fiction Theater", on Sundays at 11:00 AM. One film that rotated on both programs was the classic "It, The Terror From Beyond Space."

   Master monkey monster Ray "Crash" Corrigan played the title character in this fiendishly frightening flik! The human cast was led by heroic Marshall Thompson, with Shirley Patterson, Kim Spaulding and Dabbs Greer along for the horrifying fun.The rest of the cast are quite well acted, in this thriller that many have called the prototype for the movie "ALIEN".

  As the story unfolds, a spacecraft is on a rescue mission to find survivors of a previous expedition to Mars. They find a lone survivor (Thompson) who claims that the rest of his party was wiped out by an unseen creature during a sandstorm. The crew of the rescue ship aren't buying it and blast off intent on turning old Marshall over for a court martial, and murder charges to boot! While cruising back to Earth, members of the crew start disappearing, and they soon discover that Thompson wasn't the only one that they up back on Mars. You guessed it, "IT"was aboard ! (cue scary music). Before you can say "Sigourney Weaver" panic was running rampant through the ship as the crew searched desperately to find the deadly nemesis before "IT" decimated the entire crew! The remaining survivors then......sorry, I'm not going to tell you, you've got to see "IT" yourself, if you dare !

  But I WILL tell you about how Crash Corrigan became a monster from mars !.

  Paul Blaisdell and Bob"Kogar"Burns, had the job of creating the beastly costume for Corrigan. They had asked for Corrigan to come to Blaisdell's studio to have accurate measurements taken to assure a proper fit of the costume. Corrigan instead sent a pair of his long underwear to Blaisdell as a guide.

  With a near impossible deadline hurtling towards them,(and unable to wait for Ray to change his mind), Paul and Bob stuffed the long underwear as best as they could and proceeded to fashion a suit on it out of hundreds of rubber pieces they had molded to simulate the creatures reptilian hide. Since they didn't have a life cast to sculpt the head on, Paul used the cast at hand (His own head !) to sculpt the fearsome features of the creature. When the suit was delivered to the studio, the real nightmares began. The suit needed to be altered substantially to fit Ray, who was a good deal bigger than the had imagined. The worst part was the head. Remember , it was sculpted on a cast of Paul's head. Paul Blaisdell, was a little guy, both in stature, and in build. On the other hand Ray Corrigan was a huge guy, well over 6' tall, and a stocky muscular build. When Ray tried to put on the head, he nearly destroyed in the process. After several alterations and adjustments, the head finally made it on, but the mighty Corrigan chin protruded out of the mouth. Paul's solution was ingenious as he quickly fashioned a set of lower teeth that covered the bottom of Ray's chin, then he painted Ray's chin red to look like a tongue.

  Bob related to me his memories of following Ray around with a can of contact cement, to constantly repair the damage to the suit from Ray going full out destroying props, sets, actors, etc. The production caused a lot of grief for Paul as he did a lot of extra work to help out Ray Corrigan, (including building a separate arm for the monster, so Ray didn't have to wear the whole suit when only the arm would show.)
Even with all this effort put forth by Blaisdell, he was eventually not allowed on the set, per some union regulation , and Bob was left to attend to the repairs on his own.

 But despite all the traumatic goings on behind the scenes, "IT" still remains a true classic of SCI-FI cinema !




IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) lobby card 2


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ape from the Red Planet

WAR OF THE WORLDS - Pocket Book Movie Tie-In Paperback, 1953

Charles Gemora spent most of his time on film frolicking about in a fur coat but on a few occasions he used his modest size and effects wizardry to create creatures very different from the gorilla suits that became increasingly realistic as his talents matured. Perhaps his most widely known cinematic contribution would be his creation of the Martian from George Pal's THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Charlie not only built the truly 'alien' suit but also crammed himself into it and executed a memorable performance with the assistance of his young daughter, Diana. Diana Fox Jones recollected the tale of the WOTW filming to film writer Tom Weaver, sharing her memory of the frantic last minute alterations that led to Charlie pulling a challenging all nighter at the Paramount studio. The barely finished monster from the Red Planet damn near fell to pieces as cameras rolled. You can read more about Charles Gemora and the filming of the classic farmhouse scene on the Google Books app below:

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) Martian costume construction

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) Martian costume construction

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) Martian costume construction - Charles Gemora enters the suit


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gorillas In Space!

   One of the fun coincidences among gorilla men is the fact, that by virtue of their skill with "Body English", they are also sought after to bring life to a variety of fantastic creatures !
Many of the gorilla greats of bygone days, have ventured not only to other Earthly animals, but extraterrestial ones as well!

This is me as the Solopticus in "Ghost of Garganta".
This is the digitally animated still from "The Amazing Colossal Woman".

Here is Bill Blacks winning entry as he appeared in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

   Through the efforts of my furry co-horts, we've been menaced by robots, horny gorillas , popcorn munching elephantine aliens, martians, and wiggly, rubbery, monster menaces of every description.
To get the ball rolling, I'll delve into a monstrous monkey man I know like the back of my hand, yours truly,The Mighty Bongo, AKA, Chris Casteel. I've played Gorillas , in the films of micro budget filmmaker Bill Black for several years. Through our working relationship, Bill became aware of my skill as a special effects guy and creature designer. As such, Bill pressed me into service for his epic tribute to 50's drive in classics, " Ghost of Garganta", a follow up to his "Amazing Colossal Woman" starring 6' beauty, Brenna Barry.

  My first task was to construct a 1/9th scale model ( from scratch) of a milk tanker truck, that the 60' tall giantess would pick up and drink from. Bill also tasked me to create a ghostly make-up on Brenna, for her first appearance as a ghost. After the day's shooting Bill asked if I would take a look at a photo of a creature he had created at 16 years old for a contest Famous Monsters magazine had sponsored. Bill was one of the 10 finalists in the contest with his one eyed creation, the Solopticus ! As a finalist, Bill had photos of himself,and his creation published in Famous Monsters #18( July1962 issue). He also was the winner of a whopping $10 dollar prize !
   The poor Solopticus had deteriorated many years ago and was gone forever save the photos Bill had taken. Bill used stills of the Solopticus in the Amazing Colossal Woman with digital manipulation to provide motion to it, but now wanted to improve it by having a new head made using professional techniques.
  I sculpted the new head on on a life cast of myself, and when completed the beastie had not only a mouth that could move, but a fully functional cable controlled single eye!
Since Bill like the way I could "express myself" with body language, he had me act as the Solopticus in the film. This was really fun as I got to act out my part in front of a green screen, with my spacecraft interior to be added later.( The spacecraft, and all the other CGI effects were brilliantly created by John Gotschall)
   After filming, I did a recording session to give voice to this vile invader from the stars !
So having played this space menace, I get to join the ranks of all the gorilla guys who got to invade the Earth.

Ghost of Garganta, Amazing Colossal Woman, and all the Nyoka films I've been in as Satan the gorilla ( plus a whole lot more !) can be purchased at

Tell 'em Bongo sent ya !

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


THE MONSTER AND THE APE 3 sheet detail


Colourful three sheet from THE MNSTER AND THE APE serial - I have yet to sit through it but I love the notion of robots and gorillas rampaging about in a 40's flick.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Don Post Hollywood Gorilla

Add Image One of the great things about growing up in the 60's and 70's was the abundance of magazines and comic books catering to little monster fans like myself. As an avid reader of Famous Monsters of Filmland, I would optically devour every issue as I acquired it.
I loved the articles pertaining to gorilla movies the most, specifically the guy in a suit type.
The one thing in each and every issue that would stop me in my tracks was the great adds for Don Post Studios monster masks.
I would spend countless hours staring longingly at those magical black and white photos of the coolest masks on the planet.
The one that always singled itself out (to Me), was the Hollywood Gorilla !
It was an amazing piece of hand crafted latex rubber with a full head of hand applied hair !
The look of the mask exuded the quintessential essence of all those great gorilla classic films I had loved all my life.
It was only in the last 5 years that I learned the reason for this.
In an interview I read with the late Verne Langdon, ( the former co-owner and vice president of DPS)he stated that he had sculpted the Hollywood Gorilla from a clay press of Charles Gemora's ape face master mold ! ( The mask was later to be re sculpted by Pat Newman)
A clay press is the process of heating clay to soften it and pressing it into a plaster negative mold.
The clay is the removed and you have an exact replica of the original sculpture.( In this case, Charlies gorilla face.)
Verne then sharpened up the details that were distorted or lost during the molding process.
He also made subtle alterations to facilitate the production process.
Once the corrected sculpture was finished, it was covered in plaster in two halves (front and back) to make a new mother mold.
Liquid latex rubber was then poured into the molds and left to dwell until proper thickness was achieved by moisture being drawn away by the plaster.
The remaining latex was then poured out of the mold, and left to dry.
When dry the fresh rubber mask was powdered with talc on the inside to keep it from sticking to itself and removed from the mold as a thick rubber mask.
This was then painted and hair was applied to complete the look.
The Gemora sculpture that was used as the base was the gorilla used in "Phantom of the Rue Morgue", which was the greatest gorilla Charlie had ever sculpted.
This amazing mask was reproduced by Don Post several years ago as part of their 'Retro line masks"

I still haven't acquired one yet, but the search is still on !

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Most Exciting Serial Ever Filmed!

Hold on now, do these guys look excited?

Eemeel, stop eet - You're keeeling meee!

I think I just heard you groan. That would be the appropriate response.

You might think this would be the worst BEHIND THE APE BALL had to offer. But you would be wrong.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Mr. Ormond, you should be ashamed! This film has got to be the worst piece of gorilla suit dreck on a level equal to TEENAGE ZOMBIES (1959) - it's been a good while since I watched this flick on VHS but I have no desire to revisit my disappointment. But I will admit to loving the saucy ad campaign.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Corrigan 1.0

Inspired by Bongo's previous post about Corrigan's final appearance in his original suit in THE APE (1940) I rummaged through the Gorilla Men Vault for a pictorial record of the cowboy's initial run of appearances in feature film and serials. There were some tweaks to the suit over the years (howzabout a the uni-horn for FLASH GORDON!) but it was definitely getting ragged by the time he appeared in the Monogram cheapie THE APE (1940).

Murder in a Private Car (1934)

Murder in a Private Car (1934)

Murder in a Private Car (1934)


Darkest Africa (1936)

Darkest Africa (1936)


Flash Gordon (1936)

Flash Gordon (1936)

Flash Gordon (1936)

Flash Gordon (1936)


Round-up Time in Texas (1937)

Round-up Time in Texas (1937)

Round-up Time in Texas (1937)


The Three Missing Links (1938)


Three Texas Steers (1939)

YOU'RE NEXT (1940)



THE APE (1940)

The Ape (1940)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bonga Corrigans last hurrah !

Ray Corrigans fierce alter ego, Bonga ( short for N'Bonga), was the terror of the film and serial epics of the late 30's and early 40's. Bonga was the first gorilla suit that had been created specifically for Corrigan after having played one of the featured gorillas in Tarzan and His Mate.

The suit Corrigan wore in the Tarzan picture was created by Max Factor, with the artistic elements created by William Persona. After having performed as a great ape, old Crash just knew he had to have a suit of his own. With his great size and athleticism, Corrigan was a true King of the jungle. Fighting against Flash Gordon, and fighting side by side with Clyde Beatty in " Darkest Africa", Bonga had quite a diverse run as a cinematic simian.

By 1940, Bonga had been through quite a bit of wear and tear, and it was starting to show .

When "The Ape" starring Boris Karloff, was filmed in 1940, poor Bonga had come to the end of the line. In the close-up of the fierce escaped gorilla peering into mad doctor Karloffs lab, you can actually see Bonga's teeth showing through horizontal rips in the upper lip !

Not to be outdone, the lower lip had come unglued from the bent metal bar that pulled the lips into a fearsome display of teeth ! ( The photo above shows the damage.)

After filming "The Ape", Corrigan retired his old suit for good. He then had a new improved suit built that was even more frightening than the last.

The new suit debuted in " the Strange Case of Doctor RX"as seen in Gorilla mans post below, and went onto Nabonga and countless other classics. The new suit was named "N'Bongo ", and as you may suspect, was a huge influence on the name of my alter ego" The Mighty Bongo" !