Sirki’s Summons – October 16: Over a Barrel & A Director of Monsters

Greetings from beyond the veil, effendi! It was 39 years ago today, that Prince Sirki opened Channel D and summoned the leader of spy organization  U.N.C.L.E.  Through the entire series, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., Leo G. Carroll handed Napoleon Solo & Ilya Kuryakin their orders as the irrascable Alexander Waverly. He was also known for being the scientist responsible for mutating the title monster in Tarantula (1955). He was immortalized in the opening song in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975), Science-Fiction Double Feature, by the line, “I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel, when Tarantula took to the hills.

Nine years ago, on October 16, 2002, Prince Sirki summoned a director who must’ve been a favorite of legendary producer Irwin Allen. This is evident from his directing multiple episodes of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, THE TIME TUNNEL, LOST IN SPACE and LAND OF THE GIANTS.  He was also a frequent collaborator of Ray Harryhausen’s, directing the SFX legend’s 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964) and THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958). I speak of Nathan Juran.

He also directed the less-than-stellar JACK THE GIANT KILLER (1962), which starred a number of the cast of 7TH VOYAGE, especially Kerwin Mathews as the hero & Torin Thatcher as the villainous sorcerer. Harryhausen did NOT do the effects for this, and Columbia Pictures actually threatened legal action against producer Edward Small, because of too many similarities to 7th VOYAGE. The film was re-edited without Juran to include muscial numbers to offset the similarities.

Juran also directed cult classic monster-on-the-loose films THE DEADLY MANTIS (1957), THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957) and the ultimate in camp monster movies, THE ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958). He also directed the Karloff classic, THE BLACK ROOM (1935) for Universal. Note that his directing credit was under the name ‘Nathan Hertz’ for AROUS & 50 FOOT WOMAN, so maybe they were not some of his ‘proudest’ work. He did, however, win an Academy Award for Art Direction on John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941).


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