Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Mistress of 666 Benevolent Street

Back in 1986 Barbara Crampton stripped off for a Playboy pictorial that was as much a sly bit of promo for Empire Pictures as it was a showcase for the young actress. The shoot is loaded with props, costumes and monsters from the studio's back catalogue, all strewn around Crampton in hilariously haphazard fashion.

The thing that makes this such a deliciously weird bit of '80s horror ephemera is that the whole thing was basically a promo piece for Stuart Gordon's From Beyond. Riding high from his success the previous year with Gordon's Re-Animator, Charles Band was obviously keen to promote his talented new director, as well as the film's sexy 27-year-old ingénue. The pictorial's accompanying text forgoes the mag's usual fluff in favour of a surprising amount of detail on Re-Animator's critical success, as well as the freshly released From Beyond (there's even a mention of Gordon and his roots in the Chicago theatre scene). I imagine that Band swung a deal with Playboy, whereby the magazine scored Crampton's services on the cheap in exchange for the publicity.

If you're into Stuart Gordon and '80s practical creature fx, this is where things get interesting. Among the aforementioned bits and pieces loaned from Band's studio (most obviously some of the titular beasties from 1985's Ghoulies), the pictorial features a number of items rescued from the set of Empire's second Lovecraft shocker. Although a bit the worse for wear (having perhaps been shipped back to the States from the film's Italian shoot, but it seems more likely that these pics were taken in Rome), you can spot some of John Carl Buechler's eldritch creations for From Beyond lurking in the background of a few shots. Having been worked on by some of the industry's greats (Buechler; Henenlotter regular Gabe Bartalos; Mark Shostrom; pre-KNB era Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman), it's kind of sad to see these legendary bits of puppetry and/or animatronics reused in such a tawdry way. On the other hand, given the amount of sex that Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Dennis Paoli shoehorned into their Lovecraft flicks, maybe it's completely appropriate that this stuff ended up in the pages of a skin rag.

For those interested in the text, I've included scans of the original pages from the December '86 Playboy (Brooke Shields on the cover, and a bizarre feature on "The Women of 7-Eleven").

Having definitely seen better days, this appears to be the busted up remains of the Dr. Pretorius monster, seen here smoking Hugh Hefner's pipe (probably not really Hugh Hefner's pipe):

Looming over Barbara here is the winged beast (actually Pretorius in his final form) that twists Crawford Tillinghast's head off during the finale:

This is the actual bondage gear that Crampton's Dr. Katherine McMichaels strutted around in whilst in her heightened state of (Resonator-induced) arousal:

The Pretorius Resonator itself, minus its middle forks:

Whose prosthetic head is that? Crampton's from a very brief shot of her being "kissed" by Pretorius? Or Carolyn Purdy-Gordon's from an unused fx shot of her death scene? Re-Animator or another movie entirely? I'd love to know:

And what movies are this scaly demon and frazzled corpse from?

The Ghoulies, just chillin' with their new friend Babs:

The funny thing about this pictorial is that I just can't imagine anyone successfully pleasuring themselves to it. The presence of the monsters is just too distracting and off-putting, and these shots are the oddest of the bunch. Tarantino would be outraged:

Finally, scans of the original pages:


  1. Great stuff. Honestly, at first glance, I didn't even notice the monsters.

  2. What monsters? lol I don't know how I missed this pictorial way back when, but these pics were the highlight of my day. What a fox. I had such a crush on her. And she's still gorgeous today. Thanks for the post!

    1. Me too, "that" scene in Re-Animator made a real impression on me. I hope she keeps getting quality horror roles like You're Next and We Are Still Here.