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In a falling down cabin overhanging Topanga Creek, 75 year old Jackie Boyle Blaisdell lived alone without heat, electricity, plumbing or phone guarding the memory of her late husband, Paul Blaisdell, 1950's B-movie king Roger Corman's brilliant, forgotten monster maker. Jackie and Paul's love was immense, defying Hollywood's betrayal of Paul and his death from cancer at 53. This is her story. More
Between 1955 and 1962, Paul Blaisdell changed movie history with his creative, low-budget approach to monster making, honed during his years as effects artist for a fledgling Roger Corman and other directors then working in the horror movie genre. Paul was as eccentric as James Whale and more groundbreaking than Ed Wood but despite a list of credits that includes "It Conquered the World," "Day the World Ended" and "The She-Creature," Paul died forgotten and long done with Hollywood in his home in Topanga Canyon in 1983.
Growing up, filmmaker and "Monster Love" author, Vincent Sassone, was all sci-fi and horror geek. He consumed reruns of anything Gene Rodenberry and Irwin Allen produced and stayed up till 3am watching movies like "The Amazing Colossal Man" and "Earth vs. the Spider." In 2005, he read an article about Paul’s work and realized it was the monsters and other strange creatures that drew him to these movies more than anything and he began to wonder what drew Paul to making them, much less donning his creations and acting them out. Sassone had read people attracted to creature films often suffered some form of abuse in childhood and wondered if this were true of Paul.
What happened that summer was life-changing. Sassone discovered Paul's 75 year old widow, Jackie, living as a recluse in their cabin in Topanga, fiercely guarding her dead husband's memorabilia. Paul's protégé, Bob Burns, who owns the largest private collection of sci-fi and horror movie memorabilia in the world including the original King Kong, had told Sassone she was probably dead and Paul's things likely looted. Sassone's theory about Paul’s obsession with monsters could only be answered by his widow, so in his mind, she had to be alive.
After weeks looking, he found the Blaisdell’s old cabin falling down around Jackie who was miraculously alive in it, existing without heat, electricity, running water and just an old transistor radio. Sassone felt as if had fallen into a rabbit hole. Movie artifacts were strewn everywhere. Paul's tools were laid out like he was still using them. After an initial standoff where she threatened to shoot him, Sassone stayed with her for six hours that July day, talking.
He told her his theory and asked her if Paul may have been working out some childhood trauma. She didn't answer but insisted they stay in touch by letter. They did and he visited her twice more before she died. In their amazing correspondence and talks she told him about Paul and his parents, she and hers, why they were childless… and Sassone began telling her about himself.
"Monster Love" is about Jackie Boyle Blaisdell, her immense and lasting love for her husband, Paul Blaisdell and that love's life-changing impact on an unsuspecting filmmaker looking for a story.
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