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Beast Wishes: The Fantastic World of Bob and Kathy Burns
DirectorTrish Geiger, Frank Dietz
Release Date(s)2012 (August 1, 2013)
Studio(s)Benevolent Monster Productions
Bob and Kathy Burns are awesome. And I mean that literally as well as figuratively.
For those lucky enough to have met them, when you’re around them – especially in their natural environment, “Bob’s Basement” – there’s an overwhelming feeling of reverence, both towards them and coming from them. They’re both the very definition of “fan.” They love old Hollywood – the films, the actors, the craftsmen, the props – all of it. And they’re the absolute best people you will ever meet. They would offer you the very chair they’re sitting in, if they thought you needed it more. Sincerely and without any hyperbole, I love them both as I do my very own family. This is the secret power of Bob and Kathy: As much as they collect bits and pieces of all the great films they (and we) love so much, they’re also collecting the wonder of each and every person who comes through their Basement. They’re like the Santa and Mrs. Clause of fantasy/sci-fi, and I’m blessed for having met them.
If you don’t already know who Bob and Kathy Burns are, they’re Hollywood royalty. Bob and Kathy have worked in and around the film and TV business since the 1950s, helping to make and chronicle all those classic films from the major sci-fi era up until the present. Shock of all shocks: They’ve been together as a loving couple for just about as long. There is no Bob without Kathy and vice versa. And along the way, they’ve made friends with and influenced the very best of Hollywood’s filmmaking talent. Pretty much every fantasy or sci-fi filmmaker you can mention has a close, personal relationship with Bob and Kathy. This one-hour documentary shows off all of what I just said to the Nth degree.
Beast Wishes reveals – through the eyes and words of Bob, Kathy and some of the fantabulous talent they have inspired and cultivated along their long life journey – exactly who they are. Watching this film is much like sitting with Bob and Kathy and listening to their stories first-hand. There’s nothing fake here, nothing scripted – it’s all the real deal. When Dana Gould is shown holding the original Plan 9 flying saucer that Bob has in his collection, he has the exact same reaction I had when I first held it at Bob’s insistence: I shouldn’t be holding this. This shouldn’t exist – and I really shouldn’t be holding this! It’s as real a moment as I’ve ever seen in a documentary.
Beast Wishes showcases Bob and Kathy’s life through edible chucks – there’s the past, their love affair, their famous Halloween shows in Burbank for the pubic, Bob’s career as a gorilla and retro-serial star, and even a nice look at their legacy. It’s all shored up with great interviews from the likes of Joe Dante, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff, Jr., John Landis, Dennis Muren, Greg Nicotero, David J. Schow, Chris Walas, Steve Wang, Pat McClung, William Malone, John Goodwin and the one and only Rick Baker – friends of Bob and Kathy all. In short, the documentary is fun, quick ride and well worth the time and money spent. If you never get the opportunity to meet Bob and Kathy, or to tour their Basement, in person – this DVD is the very best next thing.
Home theater A/V quality isn’t really what this disc is about, so I’m not going to review it based on that. Just know this is a documentary disc, and it looks and sounds great for what it is – a DVD presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. No strikes there. Extras include a blooper reel entitled Best Witches, an extra scene (called Time Travelers) where many participants of the doc answer the question “What would you do if Bob’s prop Time Machine from the classic film were real?”, a short film entitled Dracula’s Daughters vs. The Space Brain featuring an un-trumpeted Neil Patrick Harris, and a trailer for Dark and Stormy Night (that Bob and Kathy both cameo in). A commentary track would have been fun (doncha think?), but it’s still a nice collection of material.
Beast Wishes: The Fantastic World of Bob and Kathy Burns is a must-see documentary as far as I’m concerned! Do yourself a favor and head on over to Beast Wishes.com (the only place this disc is currently available, for just $24.99 plus shipping and handling) and pick yourself up a copy today.
- Todd Doogan