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Updated: August 05, 2023

How to Make a Monster is a 1958 American horror film drama, produced and written by Herman Cohen, directed by Herbert L. Strock, and starring Gary Conway, Robert H. Harris, Paul Brinegar, Morris Ankrum, Robert Shayne, and John Ashley. The film was released by American International Pictures as a double feature with Teenage Caveman.

The film is a follow-up to both I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein. Like Teenage Frankenstein, a black-and-white film that switches to color in its final moments, How to Make a Monster was filmed in black-and-white and only the last reel ( the fire scene finale ) is in full color.


Pete Dumond, chief make-up artist for 25 years at American International Studios, will be laid off after the studio is purchased by NBN Associates. The new management from the East, Jeffrey Clayton and John Nixon, plan to make musicals and comedies instead of the horror pictures for which Pete has created his remarkable monster make-ups and made the studio famous. ( The new owners show Pete one of their new rock musical numbers on stage which features real-life singing superstar John Ashley. ) In retaliation, Pete vows to use the very monsters these men have rejected to destroy them.

By mixing a numbing ingredient into his foundation cream and persuading the young actors that their careers are through unless they place themselves in his power, he hypnotizes both the unsuspecting Larry Drake and Tony Mantell ( who are playing the characters the Teenage Werewolf and the Teenage Frankenstein, respectively, in the picture Werewolf Meets Frankenstein, currently shooting on the lot ).

Through hypnosis, Pete urges Larry, in Teenage werewolf make-up, to kill Nixon in the studio projection room. Later, he orders the unknowing Tony, in Teenage Frankenstein make-up, to attack Clayton and choke him to death after he arrives home at night in his 1958 Lincoln convertible. Next day, studio guard Monahan, an amateur detective, stops in at the make-up room. He shows Pete and Rivero, Pete's make-up assistant, his little black book in which he has jotted down many interesting facts, such as the late time ( 9:12 PM ) Pete and Rivero checked out the night of Jeffrey Clayton's murder. He explains he hopes to work his way up to chief of security on the lot. Apprehensive, Pete makes himself up as a terrifying split-faced Caveman, one of his own creations and kills Monahan in the studio commissary while Monhan makes his rounds that night.

Richards, the older guard, sees and hears nothing of the struggle, but discovers the missing Monahan's body. Police investigators uncover two clues: a maid, Millie, describes Frankenstein's monster ( Tony, in make-up ), who struck her down as he fled from the scene of Clayton's murder, and the police laboratory technician discovers a peculiar ingredient in the make-up left on Clayton's fingernails from his death struggle with Tony. The formula matches bits found in Pete's old make-up room.

The police head for Pete's house. Pete has taken Rivero, Larry and Tony to his home for a grim farewell party, his house being a museum of all the monsters that he created in his 25 years at the studio. Pete, distrusting Rivero, stabs him to death when they are alone in the kitchen. Learning that Larry and Tony are trying to leave the locked living room, he attacks them both with the knife.

Larry awkwardly knocks over a candelabra, setting the monster museum on fire, and Pete is burned to death, trying in vain to save the heads of his monstrous "children" mounted on the walls. The police break through the locked door just before the flames reach the boys, and they save Larry and Tony.


Robert H. Harris as Pete Dumond Gary Conway as Tony Mantell / the Teenage Frankenstein Gary Clarke as Larry Drake / the Teenage Werewolf Paul Brinegar as Rivero Malcolm Atterbury as Security Guard Richards Dennis Cross as Security Guard Monahan Morris Ankrum as Police Capt. Hancock Walter Reed as Detective Thompson Paul Maxwell as Jeffrey Clayton Eddie Marr as John Nixon Heather Ames as Arlene Dow Robert Shayne as Gary Droz John Phillips as Detective Jones Paulene Myers as Millie John Ashley as himself

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