Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Monster Squad: "The Wizard" (1976)

In “The Wizard,” the Monster Squad learns the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore have completely vanished. Walt (Fred Grandy) worries that America will become a country “without traditions” and he sends his friends to investigate.

Behind the missing monuments, Drac, Frank, and the Werewolf discover a villain called the Wizard (Arthur Malet). The Wizard is upset with the United States government because it sold him a thousand acres of worthless land.

Now the Wizard plans on miniaturizing and stealing all the nation’s monuments -- including the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building -- using his “presto changer” device. 

Then, once the treasures are in his possession, the Wizard will restore them to their normal size and offer admission to visitors…on his no-longer worthless real estate investment.

“The Wizard” is yet another high-camp goof-fest on Monster Squad (1976), a Saturday morning series that tries hard to be funny but is generally only cringe-worthy.

In this installment, the Wizard -- possessed of his “presto changer” shrinking/enlarging device -- wreaks havoc in Arizona.  The monsters defeat him, but not before Frankenstein and the Wolf Man end up in shrunken form, and Dracula is hit with laughing gas.  Also in “The Wizard,” Walt develops a “universal antidote” to al poisons to medical science…and puts it into cookie form. 

There’s not much to note here besides Monster Squad’s slavish, persistent devotion to repeating Batman’s (1966 -1968) camp formula.  On that ABC show, however, the performers were better, the production design -- while ridiculous -- was also far superior, and a lot of the material was genuinely funny.  Batman is high art compared to this program.

One point to note here: Dracula’s (Henry Polic II) white pancake make-up is a good deal lighter and more flesh-toned in “the Wizard,” and future episodes than in previous ones.

This is an indication, perhaps, that either the heavy make-up was harming Mr. Polic’s skin, or taking too much time to apply. 

But the change in Drac’s complexion is very noticeable indeed, especially when one looks back at previous segments.

Next week: “The Skull.”

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