Larry Buchanan, ‘schlockmeister’ of television movies

Larry Buchanan, ‘schlockmeister’ of television movies:

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

From wire reports

Tucson, Ariz,- Larry Buchanan, the self-declared ‘schlockmeister’ who created such critically panned but highly successful television movies as ‘Mars Needs Women,’ ‘Curse of the Swamp Creature’ and ‘Zontar, the Thing from Venus,’ died Dec. 2. He was 81.

He made some 30 pictures over four decades, horrifying critics, delighting fans and gratifying financial backers. He wrote, directed, produced and edited most of his films, and even photographed and acted in a few.

Many of Buchanan’s titles landed on ‘worst movies’ compilations, but they all recouped their modest production costs and most made a handy profit.

One of his most durable productions was ‘Mars Needs Women’ in 1967 starring Tommy Kirk and Yvonne Craig, who also played Batgirl on the 1960s television series ‘Batman.’ The sci-fi plot calls for Kirk and a few of his Martian friends to invade Earth in search of nubile women with the goal of increasing the birth rate on the red planet.

One of the first makers of feature films specifically for television, Buchanan was philosophical about his reputation, titling his 1996 autobiography: ‘It Came from Hunger! Tales of a Cinema Schlockmeister.’

Buchanan joined the Army Signal Corps working on films during World War II, then worked briefly in East Coast television before returning to his home state of Texas to set himself up as an independent filmmaker.

Along with his horror-tinged sci-fi offerings – ‘The Eye Creatures,’ ‘In the Year 2889,’ ‘It’s Alive!’ – Buchanan cooked up his own conspiracy theory docudramas, such as ‘The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald’ in 1964 and, in 1984, ‘Down on Us,’ which claimed the government was behind the deaths of entertainers Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin.

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