September 3, 2009

The Monster : Michael R. Thomas

Makeup man, actor and horror film fan Michael R. Thomas passed away, age 59, on August 24.

His film credits, usually providing special effect makeup, include such titles as The Wolfen (1981), Fatal Attraction (1987), the Ghostbusters pictures (1984, 1989) and, most recently, I Am Legend (2007). As an actor, sporting his own makeup creations, he played monsters or unusual characters in a number of low budget pictures, just for fun. In his last film, the upcoming House of the Wolf Man, Thomas contributed an uncanny impersonation of Bela Lugosi as Dracula.

Thomas’ earliest film credit had him playing the Frankenstein Monster in the 1967 sex farce Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico, shot by exploitation producer/writer/director Barry Mahon. One of the few actors to keep his clothes on, Thomas plays a pasty faced monster wearing a laced-up shirt and a matted fur coat evoking the Ed Payson Frankenstein in Third Dimensional Murder, itself a variation on Boris Karloff’s Monster in Son of Frankenstein. In the film, it’s Fanny Hill who throws the switch, bringing Thomas’ Monster to life. The ensuing mayhem, punctuated by frequent softcore scenes — which, of course, is the whole point of the film — culminates with the fiery destruction of The Monster at the hands of disgruntled villagers.

Thomas played The Monster again in Mistress Frankenstein (2000), this time in a perfect copy of the Universal original, complete with comedic dialog delivered in Boris Karloff’s British drawl. The film itself is pretty dire, a video shoot featuring exclusive girl on girl action with Darian Crane as Helena, Dr. Frankenstein’s frigid bride, reanimated as a kinky leather-and-garters Mistress-Monster. The hot lesbian action — which, of course, is the whole point of the film — is interrupted now and then by the unapologetic oldschool shtick of Thomas and his hammy associates. In addition to a dedicated turn as The Monster, Thomas appears in various bit parts including a gypsy, a burgomeister and a Teutonic police chief whose arm was ripped out by The Monster.

Thomas was very active on the horror film convention circuit and a regular, much beloved presence at the annual Monster Bash, entertaining fans with his superb makeup and impressionist’s interpretations of classic horror film characters, notably a hilarious, pitch perfect take on Lugosi’s Ygor from the Universal Frankensteins.

Mike Thomas was always happy to celebrate and eager to communicate his enduring love of the horror classics. My friend Max over at The Drunken Severed Head posted an intimate and vastly entertaining profile of Mike Thomas, edited from the recollections of George Chastain. Go see, it’s a great read, with relevant links and additional pictures of Thomas in Monster makeup.

The amusing and NSFW trailer for Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico features numerous scenes of Thomas in his Frankenstein Monster getup.

Michael R. Thomas website

With thanks to Marc Berezin


Max the drunken severed head said...

I very much enjoyed (if that is the right word) the text and pictures in tribute to Mike and his connection to "Frankenstein".

Thanks for celebrating him, and his talent, in this way.

rob! said...

Nice job, Pierre. 59? way too young.

Oh, and Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico is the best movie title EVER.

Anonymous said...


bat tao lo said...

On a musical note, Tom Waits also played a small role in The Wolfen. As a (in character) drunk barkeeper.

horrorfilmx said...

I'm late finding this post, but thought I'd chime in. I didn't know Mike for long but I knew him well. He LOVED to talk about monsters and make-up, and when he'd drop in "just to say hi" I knew my afternoon was shot, but it was always worth it. A very cool guy whom I miss.