While it’s always Halloween in my mind at SWSC, the holiday is less than 90 days away so here’s an early treat for all you fans of monster movies, haunted attractions and film history: Frank Dietz and Trish Geiger‘s fantastic documentary BEAST WISHES: THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF BOB AND KATHY BURNS, a loving and star-studded celebration of this couple’s unique and influential place in preserving film history and fostering a generation of filmmakers.
If you are a fan of monster movies, haunted attractions or film history and don’t know who Bob and Kathy Burns are, then this DVD is absolutely required viewing for you. For those who already know about Bob and Kathy, or have seen their amazing collection of sci-fi, horror and classic film memorabilia, this film will play like fond home movies. Ranging from one of the original stop-motion armatures of KING KONG to a restoration of THE TIME MACHINE vehicle, to modern props seen in ALIEN, THE TERMINATOR and much more, the Burns’ collection is truly priceless yet Bob and Kathy refuse to sell them on eBay or at auctions. Instead they keep these treasures safe and on display to share freely with other likeminded movie maniacs who also appreciate their inestimable value in cultural meaning far more than a prop market dollar amount.
BEAST WISHES tells Bob and Kathy’s life story as well as their shared creature feature affection, which is actually how they met. Not only are the couple incredibly knowledgeable about film history and devout in preserving it for new generations, they’re wickedly funny, sweet, smart people too. This documentary is so thorough in recreating these parallel life and film history paths that by the end of it, you may feel you’ve known the couple for years. You’ll certainly wish they lived in your neighborhood this Halloween so you could share their creative spirit celebrating creatures, aliens and things that go bump in the night.
Bob and Kathy aren’t merely collectors, though nothing about their extensive movie item collection is “mere” in the least. They have also lived and worked as mentors to dozens of today’s most awarded and active film artisans in entertainment today. Look at the career highlights of just a few contemporary filmmakers, writers and technicians that Bob and Kathy have mentored and inspired, and you’ll see how important the couple has truly been in shaping modern movie and pop culture history:
- John Landis (ANIMAL HOUSE, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, TRADING PLACES)
- Joe Dante (GREMLINS, THE HOWLING, MATINEE)
- Rick Baker, Oscar-winning make-up artist (STAR WARS, KING KONG 1976, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, PLANET OF THE APES 2001, MEN IN BLACK , THE WOLFMAN)
- Dennis Muren, ILM visual effects master (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, E.T., THE ABYSS, TERMINATOR 2, JURASSIC PARK)
- Greg Nicotero, make-up Effects artist (THE WALKING DEAD, THE MIST, GRINDHOUSE, HOSTEL, DEADWOOD, SIN CITY, KILL BILL)
- Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis, special Effects artists (THE THING 2011, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, ALIENS, THE TERMINATOR)
- David J. Schow author and writer (THE CROW, THE OUTER LIMITS, MASTERS OF HORROR)
Interviews about Bob and Kathy Burns from these noted filmmakers and many others form the spine of BEAST WISHES, speaking fondly and entertainingly about the couple at the heart of this film. Most of these cinematic luminaries spent their formative years building sets and designing make up and masks for the monsters and aliens that populated Bob and Kathy’s Halloween extravaganzas, all staged in, through and behind their modest Burbank home. Dietz and Geiger provide plenty of archival footage of these live-action Halloween shows based on horror/sci-fi classics like ALIEN, THE THING and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, starring the likes Walter Koenig (STAR TREK) and Daniel Roebuck (THE FUGITIVE, LOST). These segments are video gold for any home or professional haunters, especially if you missed seeing them live when the Burns staged them.
Just as Bob and Kathy Burns have invested years of their lives and love into collecting and preserving the priceless artifacts and famous pieces of movie history, BEAST WISHES introduces this priceless couple of film enthusiasts and inspiring souls to those who may not know them but wish they did, and spends a couple more hours with the good friends of those who already know and appreciate Bob and Kathy for all they’ve done and continue to do today. Their selfless gifts of time and energy ensure that these movie trinkets (once considered worthless by Hollywood studios and often trashed by them) and the timeless memories they represent will live on in the hearts and imaginations of moviegoers young and old for decades more.
While Geiger and Dietz arrange DVD distribution of their excellent documentary, fans in the Los Angeles area have a chance to see BEAST WISHES this weekend at the Feel Good Film Festival, screening at 4:00pm this Sunday, August 5th at the Laemmle NoHo7 in North Hollywood. Tickets are still available online via the Laemmle website or linked up through the FGFF site.
BEAST WISHES continues to make the film festival circuit, so if you can’t make this weekend’s screening, follow along at Frank and Trish’s Benevolent Monster Productions blog and Like their BEAST WISHES page on Facebook to get future screening news and updates along with DVD purchase details when available.
I’ll be seeing BEAST WISHES a second time this weekend and can heartily confirm that you monster fans and film buffs will enjoy this excellent documentary destined to become one of your video library favorites.
Watch the BEAST WISHES trailer below for a just a taste of the fun and film treasures awaiting you.