''Poltergeist'' actor got one of his first movie roles in this 1965 notorious classic
Before he made horror history, he was Dr. Adam Steele.
See Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster this Saturday, Halloween weekend, at 8P | 7C on Svengoolie!
There is no Dr. Frankenstein in Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster. There's also no, well, Frankenstein's monster. There's one there in spirit, an android patched together with different parts who goes by the name "Frank". It's a little confusing.
"Confusing" is a pretty commonly applied word to Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster. Often mentioned in the same sentence as Plan 9 From Outer Space or Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, this goofy 1965 flick was planned as a satire of the genre, only to have the studio insist on playing it seriously. This created a non-Frankenstein Frankenstein movie where martians grab bikini-clad babes to take to their evil queen, who sort of looks like goth Cleopatra. Over the years, this movie has become a beloved B-movie cult classic.
While there is no Dr. Frankenstein, there is Dr. Adam Steele, the creator of the android. Steele was played by a name new to the big screen but who would go on to be well-known in the world of horror — James Karen.
In 1965, Karen had just a few credits to his name. He'd appeared on The Philco Television Playhouse, spent a few years on As The World Turns, and had a small uncredited role in Car 54, Where Are You?. But his big movie break came when he landed the role of Dr. Steele. Credited as Jim Karen, he was a dashing leading man amongst the chaos.
However, this would not be the last time Karen dabbled in horror. In 1982, he got a role in Poltergeist as Mr. Teague, the real estate developer, and his scene would be one of the most iconic in horror history. Even people who have never seen Poltergeist recognize the reference of Craig T. Nelson grabbing Karen and snarling "You left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! You only moved the headstones!"
In 1985, Karen would again stake his claim in horror legend by landing the role of Frank Johnson in Return of the Living Dead. He would also go on to play a different role in the sequel.
He was nominated for an Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror award, the Saturn Award, for Return of the Living Dead and was given an honorary Saturn in 1998 for his contributions to the horror industry.
From a "so bad it's good" classic to a horror legend!