A.K.A. Dr. Ulysses Blackthorne, Monster Hunter
Average height and weight. Youthful looking if somewhat dissipated. Currently host of a long-running if marginal call-in show, “Fright Night,” about the paranormal. Also Hobson does cheap commercials for marginal businesses.
One simply must begin with Hobson’s films and fiction to understand him. He was born in Cheapside, London, now part of the financial district but in the 50s a run-down and half-bombed mixed neighborhood of banks, shops, and apartments.
We must also, however, remind the gentle reader that Hobson may quite possibly be dead. He was last reported as leaving Los Angeles by private jet in the company of Diana McGrady, Nick Lantino, and a stranger known only as “Henry” for a destination in Europe. After several months went by, police investigated the disappearance of the “Fright Night” cast, without avail. No records of the airplane’s departure or arrival could be found, and only vague rumors surfaced. Meanwhile, in Madame Tussauds’ Wax Museum, London, a quartet of “Monster Hunters” modeled on the cast appeared. Visitors noted the very lifelike appearance and un-waxy nature of the figures, in the process of “staking down” a vampire.
He got a scholarship to Oxford, given his innate talents for language and melodramatic flair as a child actor (this did not age well). Oxford booted him out after he knocked down Professor J.R.R. Tolkien in the Eagle and Child Pub. Hobson claims it was a drunken accident. Soon he found work in crappy B-movies, given here with the most recent credits first.
His ex-wife, Ludmilla Smythe-Harrington, continues to terrorize him from afar. She is known as “the Great Bitch of Kent” to Hobson. She grew wealthy from the one time Hobson ever earned any money on a project. She’s a lesbian and pacifist, known for multiple arrests during 1980s anti-nuclear protests at the RAF Greenham Common AFB in England.
His son, Colin Hobson-Smythe, changed his name (partly) to avoid association with Dear Old Dad. He’s Mama’s Boy through and through, finished a degree at Cambridge, and to Hobson’s horror, became a very successful TV actor. He currently plays Col. Nigel Rammage, the villainous hunk of The Ocean of Storms. It’s a soap set on a lunar base in the year 2114. Imagine Space 1999 meets One Life to Live. Hobson-Smythe is actually a decent actor, for the genre.
Hobson-pere lives in a “donated” studio trailer near the industrial port of Long Beach, where he ekes out a living, trading rent and a small stipend for duties as groundskeeper at The Final Stop Trailer Park. His neighbors include the crazy cat-lady Mrs. Hudgins plus a few other faded Hollywood stunt men, best boys, and other human flotsam and jetsam. The handyman / groundskeeper is Charley Breckenridge, a Were-hamster who appeared on Fright Night with his werewolf girlfriend, who promptly ran amok. Hobson befriended him and found him a ruined trailer that Charley fixed up. Charley is not too bright and often walks about in short-shorts and nothing more, all the easier to turn into a hamster.
Geoffrey the Ape, Manservant in Professor Elemental’s ‘Chaphop’ Videos (2007-present)
In 2006, Hobson was in London dealing with the badgering of his ex-wife over supposed monies hidden from the Shakur estate. To soothe his bad mood and look at the cleavage of Steampunk-fetish women, he attended Steamfest 07, where he fell in, and later fell down drunk with the gentlemanly Steampunk rapper Professor Elemental.
Elemental owns a rare copy of ‘Sup Mac? and hired Hobson straightaway to play the Professor’s assistant, Geoffrey the Gorilla. Hobson, eager for a few quid, once again donned a gorilla suit. He has not spoken or rapped in a video, yet, though he did grope a few of the extras in the video of “I’m British” by the good Prof. Hobson also helped pen the lyrics to the famous “Fighting Trousers.”
Elemental is a fan of Hobson’s films and once famously said “Garrick Hobson is the only Englishman more desperate than me to be famous.”
’Sup, Mac? (1996) dir. Tupac Shakur
In an attempt to come out as a legitimate maintstream actor, Rapper Tupac Shakur made a big-budget Shakespearean musical that has never been released because of royalties issues between his estate and that of other performers, notably his Rapper-rival Biggie Smalls. Shakur dreamed up the idea while stoned. Later he was watching an old film featuring Hobson and contacted him about playing a role.
In it Shakur plays Macbeth, with Biggie in the role of Macduff. Hobson, who learned to sing in Rap cadence for the piece, was cast as poor King Duncan, murdered early in the play. Shakur rapped “Pop a Cap in Honky’s Kingly Ass” over Hobson’s corpse. Snoop Dog appears as Banquo, also murdered by Shakur.
Hobson earned the most money of his career: half a million dollars, even though the film never saw the light of day. Unfortunately, he lost all but $5000 in the divorce settlement with his wife, who invested wisely and is very wealthy (and vindictive) today.
The Great Godly Goddess-King of Gor (1988) Dir. Lugubria LaVille
Hobson, out of work and couch-surfing with every riff-raff in the industry, had finally found work at Ye Olde Chesshire [sic] Cheese, a really awful English-themed pub in a dodgy part of LA. One night he overheard Director LaVille discussing her plans for a feminist re-telling of the dreadful Gor novels by John Norman. Hobson happened to be waiting her table, and he overheard her tell a companion the plot and the idea that it would be “The next Star Wars!” Even Hobson knew that a bomb of massive scale would be made soon. He begged the Director for her autograph, based upon his familiarity with her earlier barbarian epic, “Luftar and The Stinking Horde.”
LaVille, delighted to be recognized, tipped Hobson well and told him to come see her about work on the project. She also provided him with an instrument of revenge, a fair sample of her handwriting, to use on Jack Palance. He soon got a letter purportedly written by LaVille and telling him great things about the upcoming film. Hobson, meanwhile, had found a job as a story consultant who would be far away when the camera rolled and Jack Palance played Xenos, the High Priest in the most ridiculous hat ever seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Hobson designed the hat himself, after LaVille, honored that Palance would read for the part, was too embarrased to admit she had no memory of contacting his agent.
And the film? “Best watched after several bong hits,” a reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes stated.
The Blackthorne Investigations (1986)
A Saturday Morning Cartoon like Scooby-Doo, but without the laughs, The cartoon lasted 8 weeks before the plug was pulled on it when Hobson came in drunk one day for his voice-overs. The execs heard the slurred, drunken cartoon character, and killed a show that was loved by at least 53 viewers every Saturday morning!
Song of the Sasquatch (1984) dir. Greg Tusk
Hobson did the voice-over for this poorly cut collection of home movies of Bigfoot. In includes a pastiche from various Bigfoot films, all used without Copyright permission. This sequence is the best part of this disaster.
Ostensibly a documentary, the film is heavy on Country-Western music, including a “Ballad for Bigfoot” performed by Tusk’s Seattle-based band Wailing Willy and the Hobos (whose young guitarist, Kurt Cobain, later went on to fame with Nirvana).
America 3000 (1983) dir. David Englebach
Hobson at least got to be front and center on the movie’s poster, since he was Aargh the Awful, the mutant leader. 900 years after a nuclear war, women and men are locked in mortal combat, with women running the show. Meanwhile, the twisted survivors of the Holocaust are led by a giant apelike creature…enter Hobson, desperate for work and still under “the Palance curse.” He worked under a stage name for this film, which nearly ended in a massacre. Yet in some versions of the movie poster, his true name appears, and Palance and his studio friends made sure that the film never got a proper release.
Even without that sort of headwind, the film was in trouble from the start. Several people and animals died in filming when real explosives got accidentally used in a battle scene, then a group of Native-American activists attacked and burned the sets, which had been built on land leased without permission, including a burial ground sacred to the Navajo.
Hobson fled in the Mutant-ape suit with only his life (and the ape suit) to show for it. The company managed to piece together a terrible film from the remaining footage.
Planet of the Slave Girls (1979)
This movie-length episode of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century featured both Jack Palance and Hobson. Neither knew of the other’s casting, so when they both showed up on set, a brawl naturally began. Soon the director got matters in hand, considered replacing Hobson with a drunk that was begging outside the studio gate, then realized the bum would demand more money.
Thus, for one last time in their illustrious careers, the two nemeses trod the boards and invoked the Muse of Drama together. The presence of many voluptuous models, posing as the slave girls in the episode, did not hurt matters. Both Palance and Hobson were so enamored the beauty on display that they set aside their old squabble, briefly.
The plot involves a food-borne sickness affecting Earth, the secret plan of a cult leader and slave trader, Kaleel (Palance). Kaleel plans to conquer Earth while the populace is losing its lunch and unable to defend itself.
Dune this most certainly was not.
Buck, Wilma, and their friends intervene, meeting Hobson, in the role of Governor Saroyan. Together the heroes foil Kaleel’s plans, and they have the help of none other the legendary Buster Crabbe, playing Brigadier Gordon.
Hobson wooed a former Playboy Playmate hired for the show, and before Palance could hatch a practical joke involving rumors of Hobson’s affliction with several social diseases, The Playmate was last seen in the passenger seat of Crabbe’s roadster, vanishing into the warm California night.
Bingo Bango Bongo! (1979) Saturday Morning Kid’s Show
Hobson’s second foray into children’s TV, a thriller featuring a team of secret agents who pose as cartoon animals who do a boxing routine and thrill show in dangerous parts of the world. Hobson was paid $25 each time he donned the outfit for “Terry the Tiger,” the nemesis and boxing enemy of the title character, a chimp. The theme song says it all:
There is a chimp in boxing gloves called Bingo Bango Bongo!
B I N G O
B A N G O
B O N G O
It’s Bingo Bango Bongo!
Terry the Tiger takes a dive to Bingo Bango Bongo!
B I N G O
B A N G O
B O O O O N G O
It’s Bingo Bango Bongo!
etc. It flopped after one season, though Hobson did forget to turn in the Terry the Tiger outfit after he picked it up from dry-cleaning. He pawned it for $5.
The Ghost Busters (1975) Saturday Morning Kid’s Show
On the outs with even B-movie horror directors, Hobson made his first venture into children’s television. It lasted one season. He played “Tracy the Ape,” assisting two bumbling ghost-hunters, in a series that actually earned the creators half a million dollars when they licensed the name to Columbia Pictures for that other Ghostbusters franchise. Hobson was paid $1000 for the entire run.
The intro here says it all, and Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch of “F Troop” fame should have known better. Hobson, for obscure contractual reasons, or perhaps to avoid blacklisting by Hollywood’s bottom-feeders who swore “you’ll never work in this town again!” appeared under the stage name “Bob Burns” in the role of Tracy the gorilla. Not that he was afraid of hurting his already ruined career.
Transylvania Trans-Am (1975) dir. Ed Wood
An almost unknown cult film by the famous director of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Most of the actors appeared, it is rumored in Hollywood, because of debts they owed to an underworld figure associated with Ed Wood. For these reasons, after Woods’ death remaining prints of the film seem to have vanished. . .In the film, the multi-cultural trio of Jezzabel Jones (Pam Grier), La Guapa (Charo), and Setting Sun (Cher) set out across the Southwest in a stolen 1973 455 SD Trans-Am, just ahead of mobster Markus Cain (Strother Martin). In a roadside bar, the women pick up a British drifter, Dr. Ulysses Blackthorne (Garrick Hobson) who warns them that the desert is haunted by a demon he is seeking. The women laugh this off and take the doctor along with them for kicks. A go-go dancing and marijuana-smoking sequence that includes full-frontal nudity is rumored to have been included in this part of the movie and may be found in some prints.
In a dark twist of events, like Quentin Tarantino’s later film Dusk to Dawn but obviously lifted from William Beaudine’s Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966), the three women and their mob pursuers run across the supernatural: a medieval castle in a box canyon. Inside, Count Dracula (Jack Palance) captures the women and Blackthorne, who is horribly mutilated, then devoured by a werewolf. Dracula then plans to turn the women into his love-slaves and add them to his collection of brides.
When Markus Cain and his thugs sneak into the castle, however, all hell breaks loose, and the women and their mob-boss enemy join forces to stop Dracula’s nefarious plans. After destroying most of Dracula’s minions, they pursue the Count and his topless brides, who flee in a supercharged hearse, down the lost highways of the West in a dramatic car-chase and gun battle. Markus Cain dies a redeemed man, killing several of Dracula’s ladies. Dracula, just about to make good his escape, is destroyed when Setting Sun calls upon the Native American gods to “cleanse the stain of the Transylvanian tyrant from the sacred earth.” The gods answer: a giant totem pole animates. In one of the worst special-effects sequences ever (or at least since Manola-Tiki, God of a Thousand Deaths) the vengeful native spirit chases down the fleeing Dracula-mobile and makes it crash. Ed Wood reportedly used plastic models and a cardboard totem pole for this finale.
One result of the film is that eternal enmity sprung up between Palance and Hobson, who had tried unsuccessfully to get the role of Dracula for the film. Palance made sure, through his many film-industry connections, that Hobson would never work in a film again, and even B-movie hacks did not want to offend Jack Palance…
Captain Karlok, Vampire Killer (1975) dir. Jake Jacobin
Yet another classic whose director died during filming. Originally, the title role was to feature Michael York in the role of Karlok, but York was already committed to play the lead role in the upcoming Logan’s Run. As a result, Jacobin changed course and decided he needed a pair of older actors: Hobson and Palance read for the parts and got cast. It would be Hobson’s last major motion picture.
The problem was that Hobson found himself speechless in the presence of Caroline Munro (in the role of the Gypsy woman Carla), for whom he had a long, unrequited, and Priapic love. Munro kept trying to get away from the fawning Englishman, and Palance, playing the gallant as well as the lead role of Karlok, got into fisticuffs with Hobson a few times over this.
Hobson was retained by Jacobin but most of his lines were cut. The film is a cult classic today, in part because Jacobin died on the set. During the climactic battle, he had a seizure of some sort and ran amok, right into a swirling melee between about 100 vampires, Karlok, Hobson’s character Ugor the Ukrainian, and Carla, who led a rag-tag band of villagers inspired to slay the undead fiends.
The footage of Jacobin’s raving and frothing was kept, since he was in period clothing (as all the crew were, since Jacobin used many of them as extras). Jacobin’s last act was to fall down the castle stairs and impale his chest on a pike, also shown in the final cut.
Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (1974) dir. Dick Randall
Penniless and on the lam in Europe, Hobson stumbled across this hilariously bad production, featuring a caveman, a Neanderthal, a necrophilic dwarf, lots of nude village women, and a “Count Frankenstein” whose creation runs amok. Hobson, seeing a project with his name all over it and speaking enough Italian and managing to find a case of excellent Frascati for the American director, was able to pull down the roll of Rinaldo, the old beggar who is attacked by the caveman shortly before the villagers kill the creature (later revived by the Count). A melon was used to simulate Hobson’s head, filled with stage blood for the awful moment when the caveman burst Rinaldo’s noggin with a piece of limestone. View the trailer and you’ll see all you need. Elvira liked this film so much she covered it and it is still in release on DVD.
Who Cries for Dracula? (1972) dir. Pierre Le Bon Marché
A lesser-know cousin to the much stronger (if that word can be used loosely) Devil’s Rain (1975). Dirk James (William Shatner) confronts the evil Zorgan (Ernest Borgnine) who leads a satanic cult that seeks to revive Dracula (Leonard Nimoy) from an urn of ashes. Hobson plays the small but essential role of Luber, a deaf-mute man who lives in the desert and tries to warn James of the danger he faces. James cannot understand the ravings of Luber, but Zorgan has Luber dissolved in a vat of acid for his meddling.
Bigfoot (1970) dir. Robert S. Slatzer
Hobson, looking about for rent money, found a bit-part along the great John Carradine. The film was an early entry into the Bigfoot-horror subgenre of the 1970s, but none of them dared have a 200’ tall Bigfoot do battle with a motorcycle gang. Hobson was Lucky Bob, crushed beneath one giant foot when the creature breaks loose and runs amok, as all monsters do when they break free. His one line, “Oh mah gawd! What in the Sam Hill is that?” can be heard in English in the cut dubbed into Farsi. A few copies survived the Iranian Revolution. Hobson made his $50 and began a sideline of acting in Sasquatch films.
Forever Night, Forever Dead (1970) dir. Sam Krag
A great title for a truly awful film. A plant-monster invades the sewers of Los Angeles, and by night its tentacles reach up into the plumbing of the unsuspecting. Before it is killed by 50,000 gallons of weed-killer (over the objections of a group of hippies) the plant devours hundreds of bathing women or constipated old people. The plant’s final rampage includes it terrorizing a hippie commune’s composting-toilet system.
In fact, Krag (who died on a toilet in 1994) seemed to have a fetish for constipation, given the seven toilet scenes in this movie. Hobson plays an unnamed British botanist who examines a plant sample brought in by LAPD. “It’s not of any known species or variety!” He exclaims. Of course, his curiosity and desire for scientific fame lead him to the site of the murder, and a half-open manhole nearby. . . .
Santo El Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra Los Monstruos (1970) dir. Gilberto Martinez Solares
Hobson, evading taxes and staying in Mexico, wrapped himself in bandages to take on the role of The Mummy in this horror-wrestling epic. To better appeal to Spanish audiences, he took the stage name Fernando Rosales in the credits. The Mummy was part of a monster team commanded by the evil Dr. Halder, whose nefarious schemes for world conquest are stopped by the two famous masked wrestlers. The Mummy meets a gruesome end via a can of gas and a tossed Zippo. Perhaps the worst Frankenstein monster of all time appears in this film, shown here with Hobson terrorizing Santo.
Squire of Dracula (1969) dir. Guido Buenaventura
Made in Mexico with the smallest of budgets. Hobson is Ulyssses Blackman (the director hated Hobson’s usual character name) who fell from grace and his professorship at Oxford. Like Richard Burton’s character in Night of the Iguana, a film heavily plagiarized by Buenaventura, Blackman takes a squalid job as a tour guide in a resort town. He misleads a group of women tourists, taking them not to their hotel but to a resort in the country run (down, mostly) by Maria de la Playa, a busty Mexican lush played by Lupita Buenaventura (the director’s Mexican wife).
Little do any of them know that Pepito, Lupita’s young illegitimate son, has been afflicted by bites of vampire bats. One by one, the young tourists find bites on their necks and begin to crave blood. Blackman is an early victim of their thirst. Soon the women are lesser vampires under the control of evil little Pepito, who orders them and his horde of pet bats to attack the resort nearby. The mostly topless women vampires do, and everyone except one vampire bat dies in the resulting carnage that lasts until the village priest has the local fire department pump holy water through their hoses on the surging crowds of undead.
They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968) dir. Werner Himzag
The Director of this utter bomb, called one of the worst thriller films of all time, used an assumed name and escaped with the production money, nearly $4000 provided by The Church of Latter Day Saints, given to make an epic about Joseph Smith.
Hobson had met Himzag on the set of Brain of Blood and presented a “treatment” that would evolve into the film. Hobson would, of course, play Hitler’s head, stuck in a bell jar and ranting whenever current was applied by Nazi war-criminals who had escaped to Brazil. Hobson earned no money for this, nor did the rest of the cast. He did nearly suffocate one night when, stoned out of his mind, he fell asleep in the jar and was left overnight on the set.
Brain of Blood (1968) dir. Norm Lementhe
This film was cited a decade later by the Moral Majority as a warning about decadence in our culture. Rev. Falwell noted how the demonic theme led to the deaths of the entire cast and crew—only a slight exaggeration.
Hobson plays Simeon Carver, a London lowlife who dies in a brawl but is revived by a mad scientist who controls Carver’s brain through a “neural-pulse amplifier.” The hackneyed plot ends with Carver destroying the scientist, but the bloodshed was not quite done. At the final cast party, disaster struck when a joke on the cast and crew backfired violently. The production’s Best Boy had been made up in the Simeon Carver outfit to surprise everyone, but no one knew that he was also well dosed on LSD. The lad ran amok with a fire axe. When he was done, Lementhe, two actors, and one of the crew were dead and several others were injured. Because Hobson and several others were roaring drunk and already causing an uproar, the attack was at first thought to be part of the merriment.
Vampire’s Web (1967) dir. Octavian Lucas
Hobson’s career almost recovered from the “Hillbilly disaster” made earlier. In this film he portrays Professor Madison McDade, a historian of the occult at St. Stephen’s College who teaches Susan Rippon Rothrock (Sally Struthers), the film’s protagonist. Susan begins to investigate strange disappearances on campus and alerts Dr. McDade and his hippie students in a senior seminar. Together they foil the plot by Professor Hans Von Dormalein, a vampiric colleague (who only teaches night classes) to become dean of St. Stephens. Hobson was reportedly experimenting with LSD during the filming, which could explain the vividness of a trance sequence when Von Dormalein casts a spell on McDade. The sequence, including a topless interlude with Struthers, ends with Professor McDade being ripped apart by demons.
Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967) dir. Ferlin Husky
A group of country and western singers spend the night singing and screaming in a haunted house. Between songs and shrieks they uncover a diabolical plot to steal a formula for rocket propellant created by a group of Communist agents and mad scientists, including the nefarious Dr. Vladimir Gorkov (Garrick Hobson). Complete with spooky ghosts, zany gorillas and sneaky spies, this is the famous sequel to Las Vegas Hillbillies. Gorkov is crushed by the tires of a pickup truck in the final scene.
Jack Palance’s plans to make a Dracula film with him in the leading role and Hobson as Dr. Van Helsing were reportedly shelved after this film screened. Palance went on to make the made-for-TV Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1973), dir. Dan Curtis, with Nigel Davenport playing Van Helsing.
ARGO MAN: The Fantastic Superman (1967) Dir. by Sergio Grieco (as Terrence Hathaway)
Shortly after the bittersweet success of Granny Vs. the Vampire, Hobson was offered a role in an Italian Super Hero/Spy film that was one of the earliest entries in the “Fantastic Superman” sub genre, cashing in on the success of the Batman television series. Argo Man (Roger Browne) was a masked mystery man with unbelievable super powers, which he would lose for six hours after having sex. He was also quite possibly an even bigger criminal than the film’s villain, Jennabell, played by the lovely Dominique Boschero.
He was offered the part of Inspector Lawrence of Scotland Yard. Finally, a role that would allow him to show the world what he could do without all that make up and full body costumes. He would get all the exposition dialogue, and get to do a bit of comedy as well. Things were going well for Hobson, but that would soon change.
In the course of one disastrous night of debauchery with the cast & crew, Hobson managed to make a drunken pass at Ms. Boschero, kicked Roger Browne in the groin while drunkenly screaming “TAKE THAT, YOU COMMIE BASTARD!”, and worse of all, caused a waiter to drop a plate of linguine on the lap of a made man of the Lucchese crime family.
Hobson somehow manged to not get himself fired from the film, but he lost the Inspector Lawrence role to Nino Del Fabbro. At one point Hobson was going portray a member of a Chinese firing squad that tries to kill Argo Man at the beginning of the film, but that scene was edited out from the final cut. Because Dominique Boschero absolutely refused to appear on set with Hobson, he was reduced to playing a killer robot, in a clunky costume so Boschero would not have to lay eyes on him. Hobson completed his work, picked up his check, and made his way back to the states with all speed.
One irony of Argoman is that actor Jack Palance, Hobson’s future nemesis, helped finance the film.
Granny Versus The Vampire (1966) dir. Rodney Shank
Perhaps Hobson’s worst folly and his only starring role, yet the best film of his career—it would have been a cult classic but for legal problems. The film was made on a budget of under $20,000 by director and producer Rodney Shank, a 90-year-old vaudeville performer who had some success in silent film as an actor. Shank’s grandson Leon Shank bore an eerie resemblance to Bella Lugosi, and he appeared in the role of Count Magyar under the stage name “Lella Bugosi.”
Hobson, in drag and a prosthetic nose, portrayed Granny Snuff, a shotgun-toting, tobacco-chewing Arkansas tourist in Los Angeles who stumbles into a nest of undead. Granny’s buxom granddaughter, Ella Jo Snuff (Sharon Tate), is enslaved by the Count and his many wives. It’s up to Granny to call in Uncle Jude Snuff (Will Geer) and the clan from back home to save the day, and the hillbillies go on a monster-killing rampage to free Ella Jo before the full moon, when she will become a bride of the vampire.
The film is actually side-splittingly funny, since Shank devised the picture as a comedy, and the actors were encouraged to ad-lib dialogue rather than read stiffly from a bad script. The epic battles of rednecks and vampires are a delight to watch, especially when torch-and-chainsaw bearing Arkansans crash a bulldozer into the Vampire’s LA haunt and a huge, bloody melee ensues. Best dialogue of the film, by Uncle Jude: “Vampires! Hell no I ain’t skeered! We Snuffs bin a-snuffin guv’mint vampires all our lives! Think of what we done to them Rev’newers! Hell, let’s go kill ‘em like we done at Shiloh.”
Immediately after the film’s release, however, two disasters struck. Shank, who was nearly blind, and no one else in the cast noticed an epic misprinting: “Lella Bugosi” had been rendered “Bella Lugosi” by a printer who thought he was correcting a mistake. Lugosi’s friends and estate threatened legal action, forcing Shank to pull 25,000 posters from theater lobbies. Then, two weeks into the release the copyright holders of the Beverly Hillbillies did bring suit in Los Angeles over the too-close similarities between their TV characters and those in Granny Versus The Vampire. The film closed shortly thereafter. Ferlin Husky, country musician and would-be actor, was inspired by this film, however, when he saw it during its short run in Knoxville. Jack Palance still lists it as one of his favorites, despite (or because of?) his later falling-out with Hobson.
Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster (1965) Dir. Robert Gaffney
When an atomic war on Mars destroys the planet’s women, it’s up to Martian Princess Marcuzan and her right-hand man Dr. Nadir to travel to earth and kidnap women for new breeding stock. Landing in Puerto Rico, they shoot down a NASA space capsule manned by an android. With his electronic brain damaged, the android terrorizes the island while the Martians raid beaches and pool parties.
The actress playing Marcuzan had an affair on-set with Hobson, who played the evil Dr. Nadir. Unfortunately for Hobson, the actress’ boyfriend got word of the tryst, and he and his friends nearly murdered Hobson. A mob chased Hobson, in full costume, down a Puerto Rican beach, and Gaffney had the cameras rolling. The scene made the final cut of what has been called “one of the worst horror films of all time.”
Lady Frankenstein (1965) dir. Zene Runkoff
The less said about this soft-porn horror-musical, the better. Nice dance numbers. Hobson plays Igor, has a solo in the song “A Brain for My Mistress,” and dies when the villagers attack Castle Frankenstein in a tap-dancing finale where he is torn apart by a pack of dogs. Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO was inspired by a line of dialogue in the film and wrote their song “SIB: Swelling Itching Brain.”
Maidens for Dracula (1964) dir. Sergio Leone
The great Sergio Leone made this pornographic bomb a few years before his success with spaghetti westerns. The film was made in Italy and was only shown in the United States in a heavily edited version that omitted the best scenes, chock-full of sex and violence. Even in its unedited DVD version issued in 1999, the MPAA gave the film an NC-17 rating.
Two vampire hunters who speak badly dubbed Italian, Dr. Van Rickover (Roddy McDowall ) and Dr. Ulysses Blackthorne (Hobson) uncover a fiendish plot: a satanic female cult plans to raise Count Dracula from the dead. The women are on a quest to recover the bones of their master, who has been interred in catacombs beneath the Vatican. Of course the Count comes back to un-life, and trouble follows. The two vampire hunters finally turn to the Inquisition to help them rid Rome of the Count (Leonardo di Gorgonzola) and his scantily clad sex-slaves. In one disturbing scene, lifted by Ken Russell for Lair of the White Worm, the female cultists engage in an orgy of lesbian rape-and-murder in a convent. Dr. Blackthorne dies a gruesome death, torn apart by an army of rats beneath the Vatican.
Other sex-and-torture scenes with the two vampire hunters did little to bring life to this disaster of filmmaking. Rumor has it that the film was made in the Parisian catacombs at night and without permission.
Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) dir. Ishirō Honda
Hobson found himself on the West Coast without any means of support, after Lomax’s film paid him only $15. He found a job as a cook’s helper on a steamer bound for Nagasaki, where he met several actors in a bar. This led him to Honda’s production, where Hobson got a job as…a mushroom person.
The film is about a group of shipwrecked Japanese on a strange island where mushroom-people live. If one eats the Mushrooms, they become mushroom people. Nearly everyone in the film does just that.
The film remains a cult favorite today, but Hobson earned only a bottle of Sake for his fungal acting in Honda’s masterpiece.
Shadows Over innsmouth (1963) dir. Curd Lomax
A 75-minute homemade film never released because August Derleth, executor for H.P. Lovecraft’s estate, got wind of the production, made without Lomax securing any rights.
The film occasionally shows up in pirated VHS or DVD copies from Asia—somehow a print left the country before Derleth could have them confiscated and destroyed. The plot only loosely follows Lovecraft’s story; instead it concentrates on the mating of Deep Ones from the ocean and the wives of modern-day sea captains in a small New England town. The protagonist Karla Klemperer, a upper-crust New Yorker who marries old Obed Marsh for his money, soon finds herself literally over her head, and carrying a half-alien child after her husband rows her out to Devil’s Reef.
Her revenge, and that of the other women in the town, prefigures such rape-revenge movies as I Spit on Your Grave. Suffice to say that the Deep Ones get killed off in horrible ways during Innsmouth’s Grande Costume Ball, when the husbands had arranged to have their wives all mate with the amphibians.
Hobson plays the town drunk, Zadok Allen, who is ripped apart by a Shoggoth in the film’s first killing (of dozens). Lomax disappeared under mysterious circumstances while on vacation; his empty fishing boat was found off Nantucket in 1964.
Teeth of the Vampire (1963) dir. James R. Zooba
A short film about a set of false teeth with magical powers! A toothless hobo (Hobson) finds them in a Bowery back-alley and, after washing them off in a storm drain, pops them between his gums. The results are instant, and the bum is possessed by the spirit of Count Dracula! Dracula (played by James R. Zooba) begins to prey on the fair women of the Big Apple until Dr. Vanessa Van Helsing (played by Jennifer Zooba, the director’s wife) foils his plans by knocking out the teeth in a life-or-death battle in which (of course) Vanessa’s top is torn off (as well as most of the dresses worn by Dracula’s maidens). After Dracula loses his teeth, the dentures are entombed in the foundation of a new high-rise while the bum, with no memory of his escapades, returns to his flop house.
I Married a Were-Ape (1961) dir. Hardie Krueger
A German-made hot-rod flick set in England. Yes, German. Hobson appeared in this disaster as The Right Reverend Phineas Twerton, Vicar of Christ for the twee hamlet of Lower Slipsdale in Yorkshire. The film focuses on a group of rowdy teens who overrun the little town, in their customized US-made cars, during a massive power outage that destroys phone service. It resembles Marlon Brando’s The Wild One without any decent acting, production values, or even much of a script. The original plot involved Miranda, a local girl hit over the head in a pub-brawl so she becomes delusional and falls in love with a circus gorilla.
Krueger added the hot-rod angle after meeting Hobson in a Vienna bar, as Hobson hitchhiked his way back toward England and the US. Hobson pitched the idea of a hot-rod horror film to Krueger, a notorious lush slowly drinking himself to death. The German mashed up the two ideas and talked Hobson into (it didn’t take much) his supporting role as a drunk vicar who marries the gorilla and heroine. Hobson, ever the method actor, was roaring drunk during the filming.
The gorilla goes on to roust the hot-rodders out of town and by the end, learns to talk. He and Miranda live happily ever after once she discovers that Ponga can turn into a ravishing male if kept from eating bananas. There was a gypsy’s curse on a young man…
Krueger walked off the cliffs at Whitby a few months later, while drunk. His body was never found. The film earned less than $1000 in its debut in London cinemas and has only crossed the Pond in a rare Betamax version with all of the dialog dubbed into Esperanto.
Journey to Transylvania (1960) dir. Hank Cannon
Hobson’s first documentary. Cannon, a member of the Knights of Columbus, did a series of popular travelogues for the Catholic men’s group in the 40s and 50s. The director died during this last production, ostensibly a history of Dracula, but really a propaganda film about life behind the Iron Curtain in Romania. In the late 70s, during Congressional hearings about the CIA, it was revealed that Canon had received agency funding.
With Hobson, a small film crew, and an ample budget, Canon tried to buy his way past Romanian authorities to film. When this failed, the crew snuck across the border and were promptly arrested. Canon was shot during the confusion, and though the wound was shallow he soon became ill.
After the Romanians discovered that the Americans were not spies or missionaries, they were repatriated (a rare gesture of goodwill at the time) to Greece, where Canon died of pneumonia a week later. On his deathbed, he made Hobson promise to finish the project. Hobson did so, but as Canon’s money had been spent in Romania, used to bury Canon, or drunk up by Hobson and the crew, some modifications were necessary. Substituting sites in Athens for those in Romania, Hobson soldiered on, though the hand-held shots of the Parthenon as “Dracula’s Castle” convinced no one in the tiny audience that later saw this film. It took Hobson two years to “work his way” back to the States and his glorious film career.
Manola-Tiki, God of a Thousand Deaths (1960) dir. Brick Peters
A “big bug” movie made after the genre had lost all popularity. Manola is a native totem that looks like a smiling Easter-Island “head,” before which scantily clad native women leave offerings of fruit and flowers. Manola soon sprouts legs and arms when Americans come to his island to build a resort hotel. Amid some of the worst racial stereotypes of “natives” since King Kong, Manola goes on the rampage against everyone and everything in sight. Hobson, appearing under his own name, portrays an English butterfly collector who had been living on the island before “the bloody Yanks” arrived. He tries to mediate between natives and newcomers but is soon thrown in a volcano as a human sacrifice to appease the ravening Manola.
The film features a completely unrelated love-scene in which a woman is wooed by an ape—a signature of Peters’ that appears in all of his films. Rumor has it—and Hobson will not confirm it—that he was still hanging about the set and Peters paid him $10 and a bottle of cheap Rye to don the incredibly cheap ape suit.
Clips from this film occasionally show up in television commercials about life in the tropics or products with Polynesian themes. An actual cult of Manola exists, at least on the Internet. Brick Peters’ mysterious death near a Hawaiian volcano in 1977 has been attributed (half seriously?) by these cultists to native gods’ anger about Peters’ mocking their culture.
The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1959) Directed by Shale Rancor III
Young Hobson was to have starred as the mad scientist, but a last-minute illness left him mute. This forced the director to play the lead role as Doctor Nestor Lucretius, a Communist scientist who abducts Americans, on whom he performs horrid experiments. Hobson was relegated to the role of Gimp, a mute servant of the mad scientist. In the finale, Gimp is ripped to shreds by the twisted creations of his master when they break loose.
Rancor died under mysterious circumstances shortly after the film was released; he had been working at the Prairie Belt meat-processing plant when filming was not taking place, and he apparently fell into an industrial grinder. Only a shoe, and the foot inside it, could be recovered and were given rites of Christian burial at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood. The grave has become a pilgrimage site for fans of B films.
Fiend Without a Face (1958) Directed by Olaf Untanglian de Ville
Floating brain-monsters terrorize a small town, after a traveling salesman (Hobson) arrives. He had a cooler with pig-brains in plastic tubs, to sell to townspeople as IQ boosters. Little did Hobson know that his “Professor Blackthorne’s Vitamin-Enhanced, Flouride-Free Brain Food” had mutated and come to life after he got lost near a military base doing atomic research…he found out, and became the brains’ first meal, as soon as he opened the trunk of his battered Hudson Hornet. The film was the first appearance of the Blackthorne name, a character Hobson would develop over many bottles of cheap Rye whiskey.
The Screaming Skull (1958) Directed by Manfred Plushton
Hobson’s role was minimal here. Plushton had to make his horror epic without union help, and he took the cast across the border to Mexico daily to do the shoots. He met Hobson outside a bar in Los Angeles, where Hobson was shining shoes in a desperate attempt to avoid starvation. Plushton needed a puppeteer to help with animated props, namely the titular skull, and Hobson lied about his experience.
The film begins with a dire warning over a scene of an opening coffin, a narrator explains that the film’s climax is so terrifying that it may kill the viewer, while reassuring the audience that should they die of fright they will receive a free burial service. Inside the coffin is a card that reads “Reserved for You.”
The only thing buried was the awful film, a bad attempt to copy the classic Gaslight. MST3K had a good time with this bomb.
Eggah! (1958) Directed by Shale Rancor III
This disaster began a two-film “relationship” that would be the only time Hobson would work with a director multiple times. Eggah, a cave man revived by an atomic blast in the Utah desert, begins to stalk a group of Mormon youth in training for their foreign missions. Hobson, as young Jereboam Simms, is the sidekick to Enoch Emory, whose true love, Magdalene Plimpton, is abducted and seduced by Eggah, played by a newcomer named Richard Kiel.
The film included many car-race scenes and wildly inaccurate depictions of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. It was banned in Utah, but the Mormon church was unable to get the film torpedoed nationally. Luckily for Mormonism, the film managed to sink itself.
The Neanderthal Man (1956) Directed by Ewald André Dumont
Hobson’s first of two cave-man epics.
Ultra-low-budget British thriller directed by Dumont, a French expatriate later deported to France and tried as a war criminal for his work in Lyons under the Vichy government.
Dupont’s fascist sympathies show when Ploog (the only word he speaks in the film), is thawed from a block of ice after being brought to the British Museum (actually the garage as Dupont’s London flat). Ploog runs amok, and after ravishing a few modern women he flees the bobbies to hide briefly in a synagogue. This scene led to the British government’s banning the film after Dumont’s deportation hearing. Hobson, a mere chap at the time in his first role in front of the camera, played Nigel the newsboy, who hawks papers in a few scenes.