PCR past banners Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #220  (Vol. 5, No. 24)  This edition is for the week of June 7--13, 2004.

A Fall Preview Look at Dr. Paul Bearer and a Few Other Bay Area Fright Favorites, 1972-1994
 by William Moriaty
"The Chronicles of Riddick"
 by Mike Smith
"The Day After Tomorrow"  by Nolan B. Canova
Robert A. Burns - A Remembrance....Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
 by Andy Lalino
Shrek 2....The Day After Tomorrow....Dungeons & Dragons
 by John Lewis
Quick Swipes
 by Vinnie Blesi
Thanks....Happy Birthday....Goodnight, Mr. President....Tell Me What'd I Say....DVD Watch....Meet The Beatles, Part 20
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Robert A. Burns - A Remembrance

Robert BurnsRobert A. Burns, Production Designer for such films as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Tourist Trap", died on June 1st, 2004. He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and chose to take his own life. Here is the story about how I got to know him personally, and how his friendship influenced my work, and my life:

Years ago I picked up an edition of our local newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times, which had an article entitled "In Love with a Monster" about an eccentric fellow who was obsessed with the famous '40s horror star Rondo Hatton, a.k.a. "The Creeper". That person turned out to be Robert A. Burns, who the article explained contributed greatly to the horror genre by serving as Production Designer on such legendary films as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Tourist Trap", "Re-Animator", "The Howling" and "The Hills Have Eyes", among others.

Mustering up a little courage, I decided to attempt to contact Mr. Burns, who I found out lived in Texas (of course), to thank him for contributing to a great local article concerning himself and Rondo. Rondo Hatton has ties to Tampa, in that he grew up here and is buried in an American Legion cemetery off of Kennedy Boulevard.

Robert was as kind and generous on the phone as was the impression I got of him from the Times article. We spoke for well over an hour, where he chatted about the making of the various movies he was involved with, esp. TCM, and really enjoyed talking about Rondo. He told me he made occasional trips to Tampa when doing historical research on Rondo Hatton. I asked if I could meet up with him if he did, and he enthusiastically agreed.

We called each other on occasion for the next year or so, then I finally got the good news that Robert was flying into Tampa to receive a "High School Hall of Fame" induction on behalf of the late Rondo Hatton at the Tampa high school he attended.

Robert flew in and asked if I'd meet him at the high school; the induction ceremony was taking place at halftime during a football game. I anxiously agreed.

When I arrived, I spotted him instantly from the many photographs on his personal website. We gave each other a cheery hello, and sat together and chatted about everything from the movies he worked on to Rondo to the movie I was working on ("Filthy") at the time. It was an unforgettable conversation. Robert brought with him a very thick photo album chock full of rare photos of Rondo from various films (horror and non-horror) that he proudly showed off, and told little-known humorous stories about the man he idolized.

It came time to accept the induction, and then Robert trotted down to the football field to accept the honor. Rondo would have been proud.

Later, when he returned, we continued our conversation and agreed to meet up again should our paths cross once more. I contemplated asking if he would get involved with our production of "Filthy", however I did not ask him at the time. I never would see Robert in person again.

I have spoken with Robert A. Burns on the phone a few times since our get-together. He spoke of screenplays he was in the process of writing, and some movie projects he wanted to get off the ground. It was also about this time that he was getting excited about being an honored guest at various conventions around the country as the man who designed the famous Sawyer abode in TCM and other films. Did you also know he had the starring role in a well-received horror film in the '90s called "Confessions of a Serial Killer"?

I will always remember Robert A. Burns as a titan in the horror genre, who provided fans with unforgettable nightmares: The Sawyer House, Leatherface, the morgue in "Re-Animator", "Slausen's Lost Oasis" from "Tourist Trap", the crazed mutant family in "The Hills Have Eyes", and the werewolf colony from "The Howling" as well as being the world's foremost authority on Rondo Hatton, among other outstanding achievements. He was also an outstanding friend, whose work has influenced me as a filmmaker.

Robert A. Burns deserves a special place in the pantheon of horror heroes. May his work live on and influence other aspiring filmmakers and fans for centuries to come. I raise a glass to the one and only Robert A. Burns.


Ronald Reagan 1911-2004
Ah, the blissfully naive days of the early '80s, when politics was the farthest thing from my mind. In those days, all I wanted to do was rent exploitation films like "Make Them Die Slowly" from our local ma & pa video store (in the great days before Blockheadbuster), watch "Friday the 13th Part 2" on cable, and listen to Simple Minds and Men Without Hats. There he was, the likable president Reagan. As a teen, I didn't know much about the then-president, but in retrospect it's clear as to what a fine man he was.

What I do recall in the late '70s was the Iran hostage crisis (every day on the news it showed how many days they were held) and the American helicopters down in the desert sands after the disastrous rescue attempt that Jimmy "Peanuts" Carter took responsibility for. Then, Reagan was inaugurated, the hostages were released (the same day, I believe), and nearly 10 years later the Soviet Union fell, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Reagan. Towering achievements indeed. A true, All-American western-style hero who took no bull, esp. from the Soviets.

The thing I recall most about president Reagan was when he bombed Ghadafi in Libya. I remember being effected by terrorism at such a young age, and Reagan demonstrated that he had the guts to go against the peace-loving (at the cost of everyone's safety) liberals world-over and devastate Tripoli, wiping out members of Ghadafi's family in the process. That shut him up pretty quick, and the world is a safer place because of Ronnie's actions. Back then, after the disasters in Vietnam and Iran, I and everyone else believed the U.S. military was ineffective - until the bombing of Libya occurred and restored our confidence in our military. Finally! A president who stood up to his adversaries for a change and didn't let bothersome countries like Iran, Libya, France, or anyone else get in his way. Thankfully, W carries on this great attitude and tradition.

If Ronald can take one thing to his grave, it's the peace of mind knowing that George W. Bush has become an even greater leader, by having the courage to face-off against a clandestine enemy that wishes to kill each and every American. And, like Reagan, the very last people we should be listening to are the liberals of this country and around the world. As the liberation of Iraq continues and peace is forged, another *clink* is heard as the chisel of insignificance chips away at the dogma that is known as liberalism - may it Rest in Pieces.

May Ronald Wilson Reagan's death evoke memories of how integral it is to stand tall as a country and fight those who wish to do us and our friends harm.

"Filthy" will be playing this weekend at the Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase:
at the Brouhaha Film & Video Showcase
Saturday, June 12th, 2004
at the Enzian Theater (Maitland, Florida; in/around Orlando)
for more info: http://www.filthythemovie.com

"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics (unless otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.