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Saving the World From Quarantine Boredom, Pt. 1

How Sam Sherman, Independent-International Pictures, Severin Films and DVD Drive-in are Bringing Ballyhoo and Blood Back to Resuscitate the Drive-in.

Re-issue poster for Dracula vs Frankenstein, by Steven Sistilli. © Drive-In-Sanity Films

Earlier this year as a result of the pandemic, social distancing, face masks and quarantine/shelter in place orders began. This presented quite the conundrum for film distribution. With no viable financial blueprint on the table that says releasing movies to empty theaters is a good thing, and with no logical means for cinemas to remain open while abiding by social distancing rules, the movie industry ground to a halt. It looked bleak in the short term for both Hollywood and the movie-goer.

Cue the resurrection of the drive-in: watching films on 100-foot plus screens from the comfort of your car. While the owners of these establishments found a fair share of material from earlier this year, it was still a scramble to fill schedules and stay open on a daily basis. This is where Sam Sherman, IIP, David Sehring of driveinsanity.com, David Gregory of Severin Films and George Reis from dvddrive-in.com come in, who, after a brainstorming session decided to take some of the most noted films from Independent’s library, create a double bill replete with old school-style intermission vignettes and a lot of other ballyhoo and take the package on a nationwide road tour, under the banner: Sam Sherman’s Retro Road Show Camp Classics Drive-In Tour.

Diabolique’s Kevin Nickelson sat down to host a series of interviews with the creators of this venture. The first stop is a meet-up with Sam Sherman and discovering his ride from monster kid to B-movie maestro…


Sam holding Mad Doctor of Blood Island Poster. Photo Credit: Tim Ferrante.

Diabolique: I get the distinct impression you were a monster kid growing up. Attending City College Film Institute of New York, your professor wanted you to do a work about a vampire and a blood bank for your student project. Part of this was because you were part of the Student Government Cultural Agency and you were able to bring in rented films of the day. But I see, in the end, you brought in a copy of the Mask of Fu Manchu with Karloff along with some Flash Gordon serials. You also ended up doing a short called The Weird Stranger. Talk about that for a minute. 

Sam Sherman: It’s all true. It all actually happened when I went to City College. I was a big horror fan, but I was an even bigger film fan. I wanted to take a college course in film production and everything involved with motion pictures but, we didn’t have the money to send me out to the West coast to UCLA or USC. City College was a free school. I went there, but I still had my interests in horror-type films. And, what happened at City College was I worked for the Student Government Cultural Agency, and they ran out of money to rent films that were run on a Thursday at lunchtime. So I went ahead and borrowed a print of The Mask of Fu Manchu from a friend who had a 16 mm print. Plus I had made my own feature version of Flash Gordon chapters that I ran with it. I ran that and the Student Government Cultural Agency came out against me, calling me the horror man and said by running horror-type projects at the school that I was ruining the school’s fine cultural reputation. Then I was taking a course in production and I had to produce a short film. Everybody in the class had to do it. And they made such artistic shorts. A ballet dancer in the fancy library and somebody sculpting her at the same time, pseudo artistic kind of endeavors.

I didn’t want to do that type of film. Through my friend and TV host, Joe Franklin I met a man, I believe his name was Ray Lewis, but I’m not positive, who would claim to have written a famous song called It Ain’t Going to Rain no More. He agreed to be in my short film. He was an older man. The idea of the short I had was he was in Times Square in Manhattan and he had a big box of money that he was offering to give it out to people for nothing, and nobody would take it. They thought he was crazy. When everybody left and he just saw them walk away, he dumped the box with the money in the garbage. People then came over and saw it was real money. However, this man got sick, went to the hospital. I don’t know if he ever came out or what happened to him. My professor was very unhappy that I hadn’t started anything. He suggested a script for a project, knowing about me and calling me the horror man he said “Well, why don’t you do a film about the vampire who robs a blood bank?” I said, well, no, I’m sorry.

It’s funny. Times change. Come up to date and here we are, re-introducing some of our classic movies to drive-in theaters. And we’re doing a promotion with Zandor Vorkov, who’d played Dracula in Dracula vs. Frankenstein, suggesting that people go to a blood bank and donate blood. It’s like my whole life is in reverse here. So, I ended up not making that short, but making a short called The Weird Stranger with a friend of mine by the name of Norman Michaels. Michaels, with Chris Steinbrenner, had written a famous book on the film history of Sherlock Holmes. So he was quite a film aficionado/collector, whatever have you, like I was. He decided to help me because he considered himself kind of an auteur in an actual way. And somebody that likes to do fancy makeup.

I made a script. I did a shot breakdown. I did sketches like Alfred Hitchcock did and in one day shot the whole short. It started about 7:30 in the morning. Then we continued going and going and going. About midnight that night, the whole thing had been shot. No retakes or anything. That was it. What happened was, it was basically a man in black, with a black cloak and in a slouch, with a black hat. Always shot from the back. We never saw his face, but we did see the feet walking down the street, different places in Manhattan. But before he got to the walking, we shot in a basement that Norman had rented. I had a lot of horror posters and things up there. He’s kind of worshiping a picture that he was looking at. Then he went out into the street mysteriously. We had him walking around different places and this was all in Manhattan.

The Biograph Studios at 839-841 Broadway. © Beyond My Ken

Then we came up to 175th street in the Bronx where there had been a famous studio, the Biograph Studios, where D.W. Griffith worked extensively. We wanted to shoot in the alley near that studio. It was then called Gold Medal Studios, they shot Naked City and other shows. There were a bunch of kids playing. We couldn’t get rid of them. So I said “listen, you kids want to be in the film? He’s (the stranger) got to come walking down this alley and you look up, you see him, you get frightened and then you run away.” So we shot at once. Of course, some kids turned around and looked. I said “No good. We’ve got to redo it. You can’t look at him. You just see him and you turn and you run away. That’s it.” So, we shot it the second time and that worked. Then we get them going as the Biograph Alley Boys. Just something silly.

Then I went to the Bronx, near our home. My family and my sister was there. Ruth Sherman. She’s a writer and a filmmaker too. She agreed to be in the film. So Ruth’s walking down the street, coming back from shopping and we just show the feet of the weird stranger and she looks up and she’s frightened and then he walks on. Then we did a bit inside where he was going into a studio that was a horror movie office. He comes to a man at the desk, which is really himself made up as the other man, and tells him “I’m sorry, you’re not the type.” He’s discouraged. He turns around, turns to the camera, puts his hand down and reveals his face. He’s a monster face. The last line is “Why does this always happen to me?” So it was a gag and we finish this thing and use some old music sound effects, dub the dialogue in post-sync loop. I ran it and the professor couldn’t help but give me an A. It was the only advanced film in the whole course, aside from these other silly artistic things that the people were doing there. So I got an A for that course.

Many years later, my sister went to the City College Film Institute and she was friendly with a young man I’d sent there by the name of Paul Glickman, who had wanted to be involved with film but he didn’t know what. So he said, ah, maybe it’d be as a camera man, just on a spur of the moment. Well, he became a camera man and we saw the films. They ran for that term and he did a very elaborate film. A war film, they were giving him big money and lots of stock. So on and so forth. So then somebody came out and said “Val was gonna run the favorite film that we have in the whole history of the Film Institute.” I’m thinking this might be great. What could that be? And they put it on and it’s The Weird Stranger. I couldn’t believe that the people were screaming and laughing. I was there like the guy who is sneaking in to check out audience reaction for his film and wearing the sunglasses, the baseball cap and, and everything. And then five minutes before it’s over, you’re gone. 

Sam on the set of Dracula vs Frankenstein. © Sam Sherman.

D: In the next stage of your journey, you ended up going into writing and magazine work. First you were working for Screen Thrills magazine. Then you ended up working with James Warren over at Famous Monsters of Filmland. How did that come about?

SS: Well, Norman Michaels and I were working together. We’d done The Weird Stranger. We did a show in Greenwich Village. We rented a theater, this was October of 1958, and we put together a program called Halloween Midnight with Bela Lugosi.  We ran the two feature versions of the 1934 Lugosi serial Return of Chandu, advertising in the papers and so on. It sold out. First distribution or exhibition I ever did of any kind. Norman and I were trying to do other things and some worked, some didn’t work. Famous Monsters came out with the first issue, which went well. We said we’ve got to get involved with this. So I wrote a letter to the publisher, James Warren. He was in Philadelphia and I said, we have a lot of horror stills. We could rent stills to him. He went along with it. And I was doing that through my fledgling little company in my imagination, Signature Films. And I used that for all my projects since I was about 13 and living in a Parkchester apartment.

Signature Films wrote them a letter. He went along with it. So we rented them horror stills for quite a bit. We were involved with Famous Monsters from the second issue. Then he [Forry Ackerman] called me and was talking on the phone. He says “do you know anything about horror history?” I said “Oh yes. know a great deal about it.” He said “Could you write some articles?” So I was ghosting articles for Forry Ackerman, who I’d never met. This went on for a period of time. Eventually, Jim Warren came to New York and he opened a satellite office for his Philadelphia company. I was 18 but looked like I was 12. I said “I’m Sam Sherman.” Warren said “No, no, Sam Sherman’s your father. Where is he?” I said “No I’m Sam Sherman.” “You can’t be. You’re a kid!” Well, he always made fun of that. He liked me. And somehow we expanded. I got involved with Favorite Westerns of Filmland, which became Wireless Westerns. I brought in my friend Bob Price, who was an artist, a great designer, a big collector, big historian on old films, serials, westerns, whatever have you, that’s Bob Price. And as Jim was planning to pull the rug out from under Wireless Westerns the two of us came up with Screen Thrills Illustrated, which had a big emphasis on movie serials. So we had a lot of Superman and Batman and this and that and the rest of it. 

D: Then you tried to set up a Screen Thrills Festival in New York and it kind of had a connection with William Dozier at Fox, some years later, doing the Batman television series. How did that come about? 

SS: I went to the New Yorker theater at 88th Street and Broadway and met the owner, Dan Talbot. He ran a lot of old films there and he could also run nitrate by the way. It was very interesting. So I said to him “Look, I’m the editor of Screen Thrills Illustrated. My publisher and I would like to put on a Screen Thrills Illustrated Festival of movie serials and we’ll pay for it. They will rent your theater out for all and do it, or we’ll do it with you. We have the magazine, we can help promote it”. I didn’t know the man from Adam. He was like, testing me. “Well, there are no prints to these old serials. You could never put that on. It’s impossible.” He’s trying to put me down. “I said, well, no, Columbia Pictures are doing this and that, and the other thing. These independent exchanges in New York have this and that and the other thing. He’s gone now. I don’t like to speak unkindly of the dead or the living dead. Hey, he’s gone but he was an asshole. The fact of the matter is the guy took advantage of me, a young kid, used me. And that’s what we have in this industry. A user takes advantage of somebody else’s ideas, comments, productions. I’ve always tried to help people. Work with them. Encourage them. But I didn’t know what a user was. I learned that that day.

So he went ahead and did everything, as I said, without Screen Thrills, without me. I should have called him up and said something, but I didn’t. He rented the first Batman serial, The Batman 1943. They had re-issued safety prints at Columbia. He ran the whole thing on one day. Big sell-out. Everyone went crazy seeing this. It was the beginning of what was called camp, which was taking something that was quasi-serious and laughing at it. These serials may have been goofy, but they were never produced to be laughed at in reverse. But that’s what campiness became. And people were laughing at these kinds of things. So it was a big sell-out.

Batman (Lewis Wilson), Robin (Douglas Croft), and Prince Tito Daka (J. Carrol Naish). The Batman, 1943.

The idea then floated around from the big hit in New York to the Playboy Theater in Chicago. And they went to Columbia, rented the same Batman serial, ran it in one show. The full, whatever it was, 12 or 15 chapters. And the people went crazy. Maybe it ran more than one day, I don’t know. But Bill Dozier at Fox picked up on this, that this was camp, and what that meant. And it was a big hit. He got the rights to Batman and spun it off into the Batman TV series. I enjoyed it. I got a kick out of it. And, as a matter of fact, as a post-script to this, my friend, Joe Bonomo, famous strongman and star of silent serials, was approached by ABC network to help ABC come up with a summer replacement for Batman. They had the Batman show and he had a serial that I had found for him. The nitrates, the original material on the 1928 serial he made called The Chinatown Mystery. I got an idea because he had a friend at ABC by the name of Gene Pleshette. He was the father of the actress Suzanne Pleshette and a friend of Joe. As he came to the office he said “You got silent serials that’re a lot like Batman? Maybe we could do the summer replacement.” I said “maybe we can do something.”

After a period of time I came up with an idea to do a Batman imitation out of this silent serial called The Strong Man. I took all the bits and ideas of Batman and had animation done by my friend, Bob Le Bar. We superimposed over the scenes wham, bow, pow. We did everything that Batman did, with narration over the silent scenes. But we dubbed all the voices. And I had my friend Will Jordan, the famous impressionist who did the Ed Sullivan impressions, do all the male voices. We hired a gal, Wendy somebody. She did the female voices. We did a half hour pilot called The Strong Man, but it was still black and white. I realized this from the beginning. I said well, I’ve got to figure out a way to tint this. I was working with liquid tints, coloring it and all that sort of thing. But we didn’t get it done in time for pilot season, for summer replacement. So it was never done. Screen Thrills, the New Yorker theater, Playboy Theater, the Batman series and I make a pilot for ABC that has Batman ripping off Batman. It just never stops it. 

Sam with Al Adamson. © Sam Sherman.

D: You have a passion for old westerns. You had an interest in one, The Old Oregon Trail with Denver Dixon, and that kind of led you to becoming friends with Al Adamson, who would later work for you at Independent-International Pictures. Expand on that some. 

SS: Well, as a collector I started with regular 8 millimetre film. I could see that was going nowhere. I really wanted to have 16 millimetre. I traded in my 8 millimetre sound projector, which is the only one they had at the time, for a 16 millimetre sound projector. And I began borrowing films from Joe Franklin, the TV host, my good friend there. And, through him, William K Everson, the film professor and everybody began lending me films. I was buying films and trading films. I got heavily into collecting 16 millimetre. I went to a theater in Brooklyn called The Grand Theater and The Grand Theater would run reissues of things that you wouldn’t believe. They ran a western with Gene Autry, Winning of the West where Gene Autry, I think, was the lead but my favorite actor was the heavy, Bob Livingston. So I went all the way out there to Brooklyn to see a reissue of Bela Lugosi in White Zombie in 35 millimetre and things like that. That was just great so I kept going out there.

I discovered there was a camera store right across the street from The Grand Theater. I think it was called Grand Camera on Grand street. I went in there because I liked the old cameras, old equipment and they turned out to have a rental library for 16 millimetre silent films. So I asked the man “do you ever do any trades?” He said  “Yeah. What have you got?” I said “Well, I have a 16 silent print of The Lost World.” It was a favorite film of mine, which I later got a good print of, but this was a duplicate copy. I didn’t like the way it looked. So I brought it along. That was good enough for him. And he said “Well, any of these silent films.” I looked and I said “The Old Oregon Trail, Art Mix.” I didn’t know what that meant, but he took it down. I looked at it, it was an original, old print, yellow tinted. I said “Looks great”, as opposed to the dopey The Lost World one. I made that swap with him, took it home, mounted the five single reels on one big 1600 foot reel. I loved the picture. It was very well made. It’s a small, independent, 1928 silent western shot on location in Oregon. Covered wagons, big production. And I didn’t know who this Art Mix was or who Denver Dixon was, who got some credit on it. But it was both the same person. And Art Mix was a name he had used with other people to kind of take off on Tom Mix. A long story. I won’t bore you with that at the moment.

The next thing that happened was that I did a score for it on quarter inch tapes. So I would play that and run it for my friends and family and everybody loved it. I was still curious to know who Denver Dixon was. I saw his name on some Tex Ritter westerns of the thirties. I was a big fan of Tex and his thirties westerns. And those were made by Ed Finney, a producer of that period. So, one day, I got a call from Bill Everson and he said Ed Finney’s in town and he was a friend of his. Not only was he a producer, but he was a fan of silent movies and a collector of old films. He came to see me. His interest in seeing me was really not about me but that he heard I was restoring the silent serial of Joe Bonomo. So I had an office with Joe Bonomo and a cutting room up there. And Joe Bonomo, at the time, was a big executive. He was a big marketing and publishing executive who had gone from strongman movies to that. I took Ed Finney up there and introduced him. Joe was just thrilled to meet him and we ran some of the footage.

We went out to lunch. At this lunch, among other things, I asked him “Denver Dixon used to work for you. Is he a friend of yours or something?” He said “Yeah, he’s a good friend of mine. He and his son just made a film.” I said “What? Denver Dixon, from the 1928 Old Oregon Trail, just made a film?” And this is, like, 1961. So what is this? He said “Halfway to Hell. I said “Gee, that’s incredible! Can you get me in touch with him?” That didn’t happen. But, within the year, I came out to L.A. wanting to go to quote, unquote Hollywood, where the real industry was and get out of New York. I asked my parents “Look, I went to college free, worked for years to pay for it. I’d appreciate it if you got me the money to go to Hollywood. That’s really where the industry is and I’ve got to go there.” And my mother said “You seem obsessed by this. Why don’t you just get a new job here or something?” I said “No, no. All my jobs haven’t worked out. I’ve got to go to Hollywood. It’s where I have to be.” So my father said “Yeah, I think we should back him. He really makes a good case for himself.” I said when I’m there, I’m going to meet Bob Livingston, my favorite actor from the Three Mesquiteers westerns and my favorite all time film, Riders of the Whistling Skull. And what I’ve got to do is, I’ve got to get Bob Livingston to color his grayish white hair, shave off his mustache and bring him back to star in films. My mother thought I was nuts. She said “You can’t do that. He’s had his life. You don’t know what his problems are, why he’s this or that and why he’s not working anymore. You’ve got to have your own career.” I said “You’re right. I’ve got to have my own career. And that’s got to start now. I also have to bring Bob Livingston back. The two will happen at once. Well, she thought I was nuts. My mother was just great. She’s gone now. Lived to almost 105. She said “You know, you were always a strange kid.”

I go to Hollywood. One of the things I do is get together with Ed Finney. He takes me to a special dinner and presentation at the Directors Guild, very fancy. With us that night was B. (Bernard) Beray, director of Tom Tyler’s thirties westerns, and Joe Rock, who had been a silent screen comedian and a producer of features in England. We had a lot of fun that night, but he got me in touch with Denver Dixon and I was there, meeting people, going places, doing interviews. I did interviews for Screen Thrills Illustrated and so on and so forth. At the same time, I kept calling Denver Dixon and could never get him. Well, months are going by and I’ve got to get out of there.

I was friendly with Max Terhune, who was the comic sidekick of the Three Mesquiteers. And he was still together with Crash Corrigan. Bob Livingston, Ray “Crash,” Corrigan and Max Terhune were the original stars of The Three Mesquiteers. And so he appeared out at Corrigan’s big Corriganville movie ranch, where a lot of production was done. I spent every weekend out there with Crash and Max. And I’m out there my last weekend, calling Denver Dixon. I finally get him. It’s a Sunday. Finally, I get him. And he said “Well, where are you now?” I said “I’m out at Corriganville.” He said “Oh? What are you doing out there? I said “Well…blah, blah, blah.” And he said “I can pick you up later.” Max drove me back into Hollywood where I was staying in Simi Valley. I come down back to my motel. He (Denver) picks me up, takes me over to his house. He had a small cottage and there I met his wife, Dee who had been Dolores Booth, the leading lady in The Old Oregon Trail. Thrill of thrills.

I mean Denver Dixon, then his wife, two daughters, Joni and Joy, and their one dog, Lasserin (named for Lassie and Rin Tin Tin) while I’m there. In comes a guy, youngish, in a nice black suit and tie with a white shirt. Just like I was wearing. Everybody was formal then. In comes his son. He said “This is my son Al. Al said “Oh hi. How are you?” Denver said “This is Mr. Sherman. He’s here from New York. He’s a magazine editor. He’s going to do an article on me.” I said “So Al, what are you doing?” He said “I run a nightclub out in the Valley here called The Mutiny.” I said “Oh, great. Great, great.” Hello, goodbye, boom. Out. That’s how I met Al. Then, when I left, the next day, Denver took me to Pathe Labs. Which became Movielab, but now closed. And he ran his print of Halfway to Hell which he and Al made. Well, it wasn’t great, but it was a 35 millimeter feature shot on location. It had some good things about it. And we now have that back and it’s in the box set of Al Adamson and IIP movies that’s put out by Severin Films and David Gregory, who did the documentary on Al recently. So, the point of the matter is that I saw the film. It’d been lost for many years. We’ve now got it back through the help of UCLA.

And, Denver said “you’re going back to New York.” It was a big thing, by the way, in those years. That was 62 going to Hollywood. It didn’t matter what I did, that I was a magazine editor or like a producer, writes, direct this…who cared about that. They would say one thing. “Oh, this is Sam Sherman. He’s from New York.” That was a big thing in those days. Very chic, very cultural. So that’s how I was always introduced anyway. “Sam Sherman. He’s from New York.” I went everywhere with Max Terhune. “Oh, this is Mr. Sherman. He’s from New York. He’s my biographer. He’s always writing about me and everything.” So, that’s how I went around, kind of professionally, in Hollywood. I met Don, who I knew was a publicist at Paramount. He took me through the whole Paramount lot, showed me all their ancient clocks and everything. And I was at Warner’s. Joe Franklin came to visit LA and we went out to Warners and we got the executive tour. So I saw everything. But the thing I was looking for is where do I fit into this world? Nowhere. I ended up making a lot of friends going back to New York. But Denver Dixon said “Please, when you go back to New York, I want you to represent me there and help me with some foreign sales on this and that. So now the great Signature Films, my mini company, becomes the representation in New York City of Victor Adamson Productions. So, wherever I write anything, Signature Films represents Victor Adamson Productions of Hollywood and wherever he’s writing, some were represented by Signature Films in New York. And that’s how we started.

Everything was Denver and me. For a number of years, then, Denver came back to New York, several times and did all kinds of crazy things. Eventually I was in the U.S. Army. I was hurt in an accident. I’m in the Army hospital. I’ve got a cast from the tip of my toe, to my crotch and Denver, at age 75, drives cross country to see me. He’s telling me Al wants to make a picture. So we started together, Denver, myself, by distributing a picture that I had purchased, the 1934 Scarlet Letter, which was a very good historical recreation of the famous Nathaniel Hawthorne book.

That’s how I got up and started distribution. After the midnight, Halloween at Midnight with Bela Lugosi, this was the next distribution. I got to meet a lot of people. I used The Scarlet Letter as kind of a calling card and it got me into a lot of places and that’s all I wanted to use it for. It served its purpose.

What happened next was Al came to New York City. Drove in three days, taking No-Doz until he was shaky. When he came into New York, he ran his first film that he had made, in Technicolor and Technoscope, called Echo of Terror. And it was a Jewel robbery action picture. Very well done. I though it was very good. I screened it for everybody in New York up and down and sideways. Nobody could see any use for it. No names were in it. Nothing to market, no gimmicks, no anything. And that film would end up going through a lot of revamps and recuts to finally become something else. That’s the one that became Psycho-a-go-go and, I think, Monster-a-go-go. And this is what it becomes. It goes from Echo of Terror; it becomes Psycho-a-go-go. It becomes Fiend With the Electronic Brain. And then it settles down to be Blood of Ghastly Horror. And we sold it to a man in Argentina for Latin America and he loved it. He said “Have you got any more films like Blood of Ghastly Horror?” It was a mess, chopped up and gutted. It had John Carradine and Tommy Kirk, and it was okay to market, but it was awful. His name was Sassy. I saw him. He was from Argentina. Always at my office when he came up there. He says “Sam, have you got any other film like Blood of Ghastly Horror? He always looked for that.

The point of all that was that we developed a good rapport with people. One of the rapports that we developed was with Allied Artists. That was a mini-major company. Al and myself became friendly with Andy Jaeger, who became head of their TV department. And he needed sci-fi/horror pictures for his package in color. Because everything he had, or a lot of the stuff he had, was old monogram, black and white pictures going back to the 13th Guest, 1933 with Ginger Rogers, black and white, and he needed newer color pictures. So we worked on changing Psycho-a- go-go into Blood of Ghastly Horror, not so much for theatrical, but for Andy Jaeger for TV. And I called it Man With the Synthetic Brain. That was one of his biggest hits on television. That and a cut-up thing we did, which we later called Horror of the Blood Monsters, which was cool. Vampire Men of the Lost Planet. Big hits on television. Forget about any theatrical fare and anything else. Those pictures played and played and played on TV coast to coast all over the place. Just amazing, but people don’t know that. They say, well, we did this for the drive-ins. No, no. The fact of the matter is that those were made for Andy Jaeger for TV. We didn’t see much future to them. But they ended up playing all the drive-ins coast to coast. I don’t know if anybody ever seen them on TV or if they were on TV first or they weren’t… who knows? We gave it to Andy Jaeger. Made 16 millimetre prints for him and out it went. Now we collected a lot of money from them, so they must’ve played it.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series…


SILVER SCREEN’S OLDEST LIVING DRACULA, ZANDOR VORKOV, COMES OUT OF THE CASKET AS A CAPED CRUSADER FOR DRIVE-IN BLOOD DRIVES DURING COVID-19 CRISIS ZANDOR TO GIVE BLOOD DONATION AT JOHN PAUL JONES ARENA IN CONJUNCTION WITH REGIONAL CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS AND UVA HEALTH

After almost a fifty-year absence from the Silver Screen, Charlottesville resident/actor Raphael Peter Engel (aka Zandor Vorkov), who appeared in Al Adamson’s and Sam Sherman’s camp classics, DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN (1971) and BRAIN OF BLOOD (1971), has decided to return to the Big Screen as the original blood seeker, Count Dracula. However, this time it is for a worthy and heroic cause. In light of the COVID-19 crisis and the associated blood drive cancellations and blood shortages that some hospitals are facing, Raphael has decided to don the cape and fangs once again as “The Count” to get a critical message out to the public: to donate blood. Engel will donate blood next week locally at the John Paul Jones Arena in conjunction with the Charlottesville Chapter of the American Red Cross and UVA Health.

Raphael Peter Engel (aka Zandor Vorkov)

Raphael has recorded a special PSA encouraging audiences to participate with hospital and community blood drives. The three-minute audience participation spot will play prior to screenings of the film DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN with selected bookings at drive-ins across the country. DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN is one of the films included in Sam Sherman’s Retro Road Show “Camp Classics” Tour of the Independent-International Pictures Corp. library. Upcoming screenings of THE VAMPIRE’S OATH OF BLOOD donation PSA and the films DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN & BRAIN OF BLOOD will include THE SKYWAY DRIVE-IN in Warren, Ohio on June 24 & June 25 and at THE FAMILY DRIVE-IN in Stephens City, Virginia on July 1 & July 2.

Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros Years

About Kevin Nickelson

I was born and raised in San Jose, California and still reside here with my husband, Ronnie, and our cat Jake. I grew up watching classic films, television and horror films both old and new with my dad. I owe much of my passions for all three to him and dedicate any success I have in the writing realm to him. The first horror film I remember seeing was the George Romero 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead in 1973 on the local creature features show here in the bay area. I ran from the room several times but kept coming back for more. I was scarred for life! I would go on to become a fan of Hammer Films, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Universal horror and many others. In 2015, after sporadic attempts to write the occasional review for a magazine or site, I decided to pursue writing as a profession. It has led me to becoming a staff writer for We Belong Dead and Scary Monsters magazines, a writer for the horror site horrornews.net as well as the film site myindieproductions.com, and a freelance writer and interviewer at large. I’ve also appeared as a guest on the current rendition of the local tv Creature Features show, filmed in Santa Rosa, California and airing on San Francisco’s KOFY-TV as well as on youtube. Most recently, I was added to the fabulous staff at Space Monsters magazine as the writer for a new regular column on science fiction called “My Views From the Space Station: The Past and Present Futures of Science Fiction”. When the opportunity arose to write for the prestigious diaboliquemagazine.com, I simply had to leap at it. I am very much look forward to writing, reviewing, interviewing and being an all-around presence here.

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