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DVD Review

DVD cover

Mr Lobo’s Cinema Insomnia
Bob Wilkins Halloween Special, Haunted House Special and EEGAH!


Starring: Mr Lobo, Dick Dyszel, Bob Wilkins, Arch Hall Jr. and Richard Kiel
Distributor: Alpha Video / Oldies
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Certificate: $5.95 each
Release Date: 17 September 2019

Mr Lobo. Who is he? What is he? From whence does he come? For innocents mercifully outside the USA solar system and especially planet California the answers to these burning questions require some back story and cultural exegesis. The rest of the world (the known world anyway) has no idea what Mr Lobo represents or the marketing niche he promotes on the evolutionary ladder of cinematic phyla. That matters not to Mr Lobo or his parent conglomerate Alpha Video. They’re coming to greet you wherever you live, like world oligarchs who despise borders and will not rest until their market envelops the whole globe. Like Eric Blofeld but driven by a true love for arcane movies, long since suffering a deviant burial, now rising, rising again from the sarcophagus of the unremembered.

In the early 1960s, early Pleistocene Hollywood, studios were selling off whatever they could to balance the books: real estate, stock options, film libraries, anything to forge a land bridge across the red sea of ink. Most of the well remembered movies from the preceding three decades had been dumped on television but there was one category that they couldn’t cash out: the horror films. Nobody wanted to see them. Thus spake Zarathustra and Jiminy Glick and the horror package was invented. Golden classics from the genre, Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Thing and many little mongrel pups who hadn’t succeeded the first time but now were horror classics. It sounded good but it still didn’t work. Late night TV denizens wanted something for their night flights, somebody on their side of nightfall. Thus was invented the horror host and the horror hostess. Most famous, of course, was Vampira, in L.A. but every city had one, some local character with a bit of slapstick sensibility, concept jokery and a tongue-in-fang mockery. Somebody to laugh with you but not at you for your secret delight in these cinematic trilobites from the ocean floor of yesteryear. After all, there was a security in yesteryear, a comfort zone that beat the hell out of nucleated news. $uffice it to $ay, thi$ worked $upremely well. Rental income abounded. The profit margin was a hundred per cent.

Three generations of horror hosts have come and gone. Mr Lobo is the 21st century horror host of horror hosts. California is his cradle and it understands him like a doting parent. Now he wants the world and ready or not he’s on his way to circumnavigatory conquest.

In his Halloween Special he interviews Sacramento’s own historic horror host, Bob Wilkins, who imprinted on Mr Lobo’s infant psyche that horror hosting was the only thing he could be.

Mr Lobo’s Haunted House Special gives us Lobo’s joke concept genius wherein he ploughs ahead whether a joke works or not. Sometimes those are funnier in their own right. He’s not afraid of stepping on the metaphysical toes of just about anybody – but he wears nice shoes to do it.

The third member of this triplet offering is the Arch Hall, Sr. movie EEGAH! (1962) wherein a very young Richard Kiel plays a cave man who steals the star’s girl friend, Arch Hall, Jr. (yes, the son of Arch Hall, Sr. uhhh, if you don’t know about the Arch Hall phenomenon, I don’t have the time or inclination to stand here explaining it to you in the wind.)

Mr Lobo elicits from Kiel, shortly before his passing, in a wonderful interview that is only too short, and in which Kiel threatens to crush Mr. Lobo’s cabeza like a cantaloupe and reveals that the whole movie cost only $27,000 but played like firecrackers on the drive-in circuit, enabling Hall to make a heap of other movies, all starring his son, all worthy of being torture tools world over in secret CIA rendition prisons, all giving people their first footprints in the sand and one, The Sadist (1963) is a downright creepy squeamish classic with no apologies.

Mr Lobo has a gift for anticipating your thoughts. He brags that he’s looking back at you through the screen and he may be. He also has a gift for cinematic and television archaeology, better than anyone else in the schlock host genre. He is an encyclopedia of the absurd and wants us all to know, ‘They’re not bad movies – just misunderstood.’

Acquaint yourself with Alpha Video; its library tries to remaster the best elements available and it grows monthly.


John Huff