SDCC ’13 Review: ‘Beast Wishes’

By July 20, 2013

San Diego Comic-Con revolves around the intense passion fans have – whether it be for a film, TV show, comic, podcast, or an artist.

Produced and directed by Frank Dietz and Trish Geiger, Beast Wishes fits perfectly in the overall spirited passion of the Con.

This incredible documentary has already won a number of awards, including Best Documentary at both the Fright Night Film Festival and Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

The doc explores the lives of Bob and Kathy Burns. Bob is one of the premiere collectors of film props not only in the United States, but arguably the world, having in his collection (among thousands more iconic pieces):

-An original saucer from Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space (No, they’re not the infamously rumored paper plates.)

-The full-size American Werewolf in London wolf.

-The zombie baby from Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive.

The original armature used in the 1933 King Kong.

Featuring interviews with industry heavy hitters “The Walking Dead” makeup guru Greg Nicotero, directors Joe Dante & John Landis, creature designer extraordinaire Rick Baker, and many more; the film completely encapsulates the sense of love all of these filmmakers have for Bob and Kathy.

The special thing about Bob and Kathy Burns, though, is that they collect props because they love and respect the art of filmmaking. The first prop Bob received was the rubber cane head from The Wolf Man. That was the beginning of the priceless collection that has been steadily growing over the last 50 years. John Landis states that “their collection comes from a place of love and affection,” which is why the majority of their collection was given to them by the filmmakers and artists themselves.

Those that don’t know Bob Burns by name might better recognize his ape-heavy filmography. Bob played a gorilla in multiple films and shows throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, including Tracy the Gorilla in The Ghost Busters television show in 1975.

Besides being a living history of film, Bob and Kathy began producing homemade house haunts that would rival even studio-produced feature films. Themed after films such as The Exorcist, Alien, The Thing, and Creature From the Black Lagoon, their haunts – based out of their house in Burbank, California – would draw thousands. They decided to end their elaborate productions in the early 1980’s, until they renewed their efforts in the mid-2000s along with the help of Greg Nicotero and dozens of other fans.

Bob earnestly states, “I’ve said it before and I mean it: I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” Beast Wishes might not quite prove that claim, but it certainly establishes him as one of the most interesting collectors of film props and ensured his cinematic legacy.

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Amanda Story

Amanda Story

Amanda is a GeekNation contributor who lives in Los Angeles.