• I Was A Teenage Moviemaker: Don Glut’s Amateur Movies

    Released by: Cinema Epoch
    Released on: October 3, 2006.
    Director: Don Glut
    Cast: Various
    Year: Various
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    The Movie:

    Before Don Glut became a known name in horror and science fiction movie fandom, he was a kid like the rest of us and like so many kids did, he made his own movies with friends and family using the meager resources he had available to him at the time. Glut has since gone on to making a few feature length indy movies and doing plenty of writing for both page and screen but this documentary takes a look at his early output. Anyone who made their own films as a teeanger, be it with an actual film camera as Glut had or with a VHS camcorder as those of us who grew up in the eighties would have used, should enjoy this look back at the films Glut made in his teenage years and marvel at how much better they are than the ones that most of us made.

    The film begins by giving us some biographical information on the man behind the camera, explaining how his early years spent in the Chicago of the 1950s lead to a fascination with monsters and superheros and how the Universal Monsters specifically had a huge impact on him. From there we learn how Glut took his dad’s 16mm camera (he was lucky enough to have access to 16mm when almost everyone else was stuck with an 8mm camera) and set out into the backyard to start filming epics of his own. Glut didn’t just bark orders from behind the camera, however, he also did the effects work and came up with the ideas in addition to playing casting director and starring in many of them as well.

    Somewhere along the line, on a trip to California, Glut befriended Bob Burns who shows up in a few of his later movies and as the young filmmaker kept hammering away his projects started getting noticeabley better with each subsequent attempt. With the rough dinosaur movies of the early fifties we see a kid monkeying around with a camera but by the time Glut was making his superhero movies in the sixties it’s obvious that he’s actually figured out what he’s doing and some of this material is remarkably impressive. His connection with Bob Burns wound up being beneficial in that Burns knew some of the older serial actors of the early 40s who Glut was so impressed by and was able to get a few of them to appear in a couple of Glut’s short films. These shorts leave an interesting legacy and will certainly make anyone who attempted similar projects while they were in their teens more than a little nostalgic.

    Glut is interviewed at length throughout the documentary and he explains how he met up with Burns, how he accomplished some of the effects and where he got some of his costumes from. He talks about casting his friends in various parts and how he wound up going to film school in California. He’s a genuinely likeable guy with a lot of interesting tales to tell and appearing alongside him here are a bunch of the people who appeared in his films and even his mother! Celebrity interviewees include Forrest J. Ackerman, Bob Burns, Scott Shaw and Bill Warren and throughout all these talks the filmmakers manage to paint a really fun portrait of Glut and his movie making history.


    Everything on this set is presented 1.33.1 fullframe and while some of the really early shorts are in rough shape, for the most part this material looks surprisingly good considering the no-budget origins and age of the films. Color reproduction is decent though it fluctuates in some spots and while there is some print damage and a bit of fading here and there in the archival bits it’s never overpowering and to be completely honest a pristine presentation probably wouldn’t suit this material nearly as well. The newer documentary footage is shot on video and it looks decent enough.

    Included as bonus features on this two disc release are all forty-one of Don Glut’s films (and three of his student films). The first disc concentrates on dinosaurs and classic monsters while the second disc contains films relating to ‘teenage’ monsters and superheroes. Here’s what you’ll find spread across the two discs:

    Disc 1:

    Diplodocus at Large (1953)
    The Earth Before Man (1956)
    Dinosaur Destroyer (1959)
    The Time Monsters (1959)
    The Fire Monsters (1959)
    The Age of Reptiles (1960)
    Time Is Just a Place (1961)
    Tor, King of Beasts (1962)
    Son of Tor (1964)
    Frankenstein Meets Dracula (1957)
    Return of the Wolfman (1957)
    The Revenge of Dracula (1958)
    The Frankenstein Story (1958)
    Return of the Monster Maker (1958)
    The Teenage Frankenstein (1959)
    The Slave of the Vampire (1959).

    Disc 2:

    The Teenage Werewolf (1959)
    I Was a Teenage Apeman (1959)
    The Day I Vanished (1959)
    I Was a Teenage Vampire (1959)
    Return of the Teenage Werewolf (1959)
    The Teenage Frankenstein Meets the Teenage Werewolf (1959)
    Revenge of the Teenage Werewolf (1960)
    Monster Rumble (1961)
    The Invisible Teenager (1962)
    Dragstrip Dracula (1962)
    Captain Marvel (1962)
    Superduperman (1962)
    The Human Torch (1963)
    The Adventures of the Spirit (1963)
    Spy Smasher vs. the Purple Monster (1964)
    Batman and Robin (1964)
    Captain America Battles the Red Skull (1964)
    Captain America vs. the Mutant (1964)
    Superman vs. the Gorilla Gang (1965)
    Rocketman Flies Again (1966)
    Atom Man vs. Martian Invaders (1967)
    Spider-Man (1969)

    Disc Two Bonus Misc Films:

    Jeepers Creepers Car Wash (1965)
    Wrath Of The Sun Demond (1965)
    For What Purpose (1966)

    There is a ton of great material in here and while sitting through all of it in one sitting would probably make your brain melt if you sample a few at a time they make for really entertaining little diversions. The earlier ones are very rough around the edges but they’ve got that sort of charm that makes little kid’s drawings so cool to look at. The movies get steadily better as the years go by to the point wher by the time we hit the mid sixties some of these projects are starting to look pretty professional. It’s interesting to see Glut’s take on completely recognizeable characters such as the Universal Monsters and some of Marvel and D.C.’s better known properties alongside characters like Rocketman and Spy Smasher who aren’t as popular now as they were decades ago. If the movies themselves weren’t enough, Don Glut has supplied a commentary track for every single one of these forty-one shorts! He explains how he pulled off some of the effects, tells us where he got some of the ideas from and who some of the players in the movies are. A few of these are silent or don’t have much dialogue with them, so having the optional commentary tracks to listen to during playback is a nice touch.

    Also included on the second disc is a home made trailer for the Spy Smasher movie, various and assorted bits of test footage clips from many of the films in the set, and some home movie footage that Glut shot on vacation to California, a trip to the World’s Fair in New York City, and during a convention appearance in Chicago by Forrest J. Ackerman of Famous Monsters Of Filmland fame. But wait, there’s more! Also included is some random behind the scenes footage from a bunch of the movies that Glut made, an appearance that Glut made on Count Gor DeVol’s television show, a large still gallery, and deleted clips that weren’t used in the final versions of many of these movies. It’s probably safe to assume that Glut didn’t throw anything away while he was making these films as this is an absolutely massive package of material.

    The Final Word:

    If you ever made your own movies as a kid, be it on film or on video, you’ll likely really appreciate this documentary and the massive collection of shorts that makes up I Was A Teenage Moviemaker. Sure, the presentation is a little rough around the edges but Cinema Epoch have done a pretty great job bringing this to home video.