Collossal Evening at Cinematheque: Forbin Project & Re-Animator

Well, Friday night at the Egyptian Theatre was a genuine treat for fans of classic science-fiction and horror. As part of its annual Festival of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction Films, the American Cinematheque screened RE-ANIMATOR and COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT, with Q&A sessions after both screenings. For RE-ANIMATOR, the guests included actor Jeffrey Combs and director Stuart Gordon; for COLOSSUS, there was actor Eric Braeden (Emmy winner for the soap opera THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS).

I want to post transcripts of both chats, but I'll be busy today at Tofuzilla in Little Tokyo, so I won't be able to get to them until later. In the meantime there is one funny story worth recounting, even if it is a bit "insidery."

To appreciate this, you have to know that one of the fixtures at American Cinematheque screenings of horror and cult movies is a man named Eric Caiden, who operates a wonderful store called Hollywood Book & Poster (fileld with great, often rare stills, posters, and other memorabilia). He's just someone you recognize around town if you're a collector or if (like me) you've ever needed to track a rare still to use in a magazine article).

Anyway, during the Q&A for RE-ANIMATOR, someone in the audience asked Stuart Gordon about the famous nude scene performed by actress Barbra Cramptom (wherein her character is basically sexually abused by a walking corpse and its severed head). Gordon recalled that another actress had been cast in the role but balked at playing this scene; he complimented Crampton on the courage it took to perform under the embarrassing action, and mentioned that she insisted there be no photographers on the set during the filming, because she didn't want the image of herself strapped nude to an autopsy table turning up as a publicity still.

After the film came out, Gordon and Cramptom went to a science-fiction convention, where Crampton was shocked when some fans came up to her with 8X10 stills of the scene in question and asked her to sign them. Crampton asked where the photos came from, and the fans led them to a dealers table, where she found a stack of 300 of the photos (which had been blown up from a 35mm print of the film).

As Gordon recalled, Crampton reacted like a scolding mother to the dealer: "What do you think you're doing?" she demanded. "You can't sell these!"

Whereupon she grabbed the entire stack of photos and ran off with them.

As funny as the story was, the real punchline came after the Q&A session ended. As the usual throng of fans rushed up to the front of the Egyptian Theatre to ask for autographs, among them was Eric Caidan, of Hollywood Book & Poster, who admitted that he was indeed the dealer who had been selling the contraband photographs. He was roundly (if humorously) berated by Cinematheque Programming Director Dennis Bartok, who had conducted the Q&A session. Caiden insisted that the incident was water under the bridge and that Crampton held no grudge against him, and the audience decided not to form a lynch mob to exact justice in the matter.

Oh well, maybe you had to be there...