Bill Rebane (Director - 'Monster A-Go Go')
'It's A-Go Go World!'
Mr. Bill Rebane is a man of many and diverse interests. He has been, among several things, a gubernatorial candidate for the state of Wisconsin, and a horror movie filmmaker.
His 1961 film, Terror at Half Day (more popularly known as Monster A-Go Go) brought him acclaim amongst the independent movies of the day. And he recently spoke with Exclusive Magazine about the movie upon its special edition DVD release.
What got you started in filmmaking? "It was 1960, with a short subject called Twist Craze. Actually, I was going to be an actor and a dancer. But I started getting an interest in production, then, and decided to do a short subject on the phenomenon of dance at that time, the twist. And we shot it as a union short subject in Chicago, got it in one night, and then out into the theatre the following week. And it became, thank God, a huge success."
What was the circumstance or defining moment that made you want to go into production, as opposed to acting or dancing, like you had originally planned? "It was frequent trips to Germany, where I had friends in the film business. And I started working as an apprentice for one producer in Germany, and kind of worked my way up the ladder."
What drew you to the science fiction genre? "Well, that came about when I decided that it was a timely subject, and I was more concerned about the marketplace than I was about making a picture. I thought of the timeliness first, and then wrote a script called Terror at Half Day, which was a very cohesive, horror-science fiction movie. And we went into production to do it as a non-union picture."
"But in Chicago in those days, one could not make an independent picture without being union. There were some strong-arm tactics used by the union to convince me that I had to make it union, or else. So the union basically took the first part of our budget, put it in an escro, and paid it out as they pleased."
You said that timeliness was an important factor, what made this film so timely? "First of all, the drive-in movie days. Secondly, the first astronauts going up, that was sensational in those days. That was big news. And the fact that horror pictures always had a marketplace. That was the criteria for thinking of a horror movie."
What year did you begin this project? How long did it take to make it, from start to finish? "That was about 1961. The first half of the picture was done within a two or three week time span. There was a little time in between because we had to raise new money, and complete it on a non-union basis with an independent crew. And I hired Hirschell Gordon Lewis as a production manager and cameraman to help finish the balance of it."
"Then, we ran out of money again! At one point in time, we made a deal with Hirschell Lewis, who needed another picture for a drive-in run on a double-bill. So they handed over the post-production to him, and he completed it, but I didnít know for about two years that it was called Monster A Go-Go."
Did the name change come as a surprise to you? "Yes, it was a surprise to me. And when I first saw it, I thought, ďOh my God, this is the worst picture Iíve ever seen!Ē
Has your opinion changed since then? "Well, it wasnít exactly what I had in mind. And thereís a lot of footage that we did shoot, big production value stuff, that I canít find in the film today."
Iíve heard some critics refer to the film as being underrated. Would you believe it is? "Thatís very pleasant to hear, and I canít for the life of me figure out why."
Youíre releasing a special edition of the movie. Is there anything you want people to know about it? "I only hope that it might help, if taken in the right context, young film students and filmmakers today understand what it was like fifty years ago to make an independent picture. Hopefully, they will learn something by it, especially after knowing the surrounding circumstances."
Interviewed by: Ashley Trombley
'Monster A-Go Go' DVD Purchase Link
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