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Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Mysterious Inspector Zucker

Who is the mysterious Inspector Zucker?

Inspector Zucker has been the star of two Jan Manthey productions so far, read the full story behind 'Mutant!' and 'Inspector Zucker Vs Gorgo' here. 

The first film in the series was "Mutant!"

" The evil Professor Shatner is captured on Brighton beach by the Men In Black. He drops a syringe that contains an evil monster serum. A decorator eats his lunch on the beach, he decides to go for a paddle. He treads on the syringe and is injected with the serum. He froths at the mouth and collapses into the sea. That night Pete walks along the seafront slightly inebriated. He thinks he sees a monster. He throws his drink away and runs home. The monster runs behind him. Pete phones his friend Commisioner Chief Inspector Zucker of the Seaside Squad, who dismisses his claims. Zucker has doubts and thinks there may be something in the story. Later that night a couple smooch in a car. The monster attacks them. A newsreader reports on the death and Zucker gives a live report from the scene of the crime. Pete and a friend see this and go out to find the monster. They split up. Pete's friend is attacked and has his arm ripped off. Pete finds slime on his shoes and guesses that his friend may be in danger. The newsreader reports the death, again with live link to Zucker. He warns the public to be vigilant as the Seaside Squad is out of town at a convention. Pete goes out to the beach. He meets up with Zucker and together they vow to get the monster. The monster emerges from the sea and follows them. That evening, high above the sea on the cliff edge, the monster attacks them. Zucker draws his gun, but is knocked out. Pete and the monster grapple. Zucker regains his composure and shoots the monster. The beast is hit in the back and they push him over the cliff where he falls to his death. Zucker dusts down his hat and they leave. Zucker and Pete walk along the beach. Pete mentions that he would like to join the police force. 
"A good idea" says Zucker " One day you might even step into my shoes." 
" But Inspector Zucker," replies Pete " Aren't you a size 13?" 
They laugh and walk into the sunset. 

Directed, Written and Edited by Jan Manthey and Jed Leicester. 
Inspector Zucker - Ben Oates, Pete - Mark Duqueno, The Monster - Jan Manthey, Professor Shatner/Newsreader - Jed Leicester, Couple in Car - John and Vanessa Beardman 

The credits to Mutant! are steeped in controversy. This wasn't technically my project, it was a college film for Mr Belisha himself, Jed Leicester. It was written by Jed and myself, that much is a fact. I also gave Jed alot of assistance with directing and the editing, so essentially I could argue a case for credit as co director. So I will. Not than anyone really cares, but it matters to me, so there. It didn't really matter too much anyway, as credits were never put on the final film. The whole film was slightly shambolic in its execution and was never really finished. Every now and then I think about finishing it but never get round to it. One day the Director's cut or rather Co Director's (Disputed) cut may emerge. It's a shame it was not completed properly because there are some excellent scenes and the camera work is very good. Unfortunately there are some dreadful moments as well. 

The best thing though, was the creation of Chief Inspector Zucker. Zucker (named after the Zucker brothers of AIRPLANE! fame) in this film is a maverick cop who goes it alone as The Seaside Squad is out of town. The character was brilliantly realised by Ben Oates, whose stilted method of 'acting' suited the role perfectly. With his costume of suit, overcoat, bowler hat and moustache he really became the Inspector. 
The main selling point of this film was that it was shot almost entirely on location in Brighton. The first day was actually a night shoot. Very late night. This was because we were filming on the promenade, so it was best to avoid crowds of onlookers. There were still a few people around, though they sensibly avoided a man in a boiler suit with green hands and a rubber mask on. That was our 'Mutant' by the way. I drew the short straw to play the beast and I perfected a shambling walk, sort of a cross between Frankenstein's Monster and Joey Deacon. After a night's 'sleep' in a tiny car parked on the roadside, it was time to get some more shots at the crack of dawn. Luckily the sun was shining. Lucky for me because I had to stagger into the cold, cold sea. We could only do one take and, with my mouth foaming from toothpaste, I did a brilliant impression of a 'man staggering into the sea having a fit after having been injected with a monster serum'. I was completely immersed in the foul brown salty liquid for a few seconds. I have no intention of repeating such a stunt. Still the first day of Brighton filming was a success. Thanks to shoddy equipment a whole load of dialogue had to be trashed due to the sound deciding to work sporadically. It was as if the star of the film was Norman Collier. 

The scene in the car park where the couple get attacked, and its aftermath was one of the most elaborate ever staged by us. We somehow set up an authentic looking crime scene with police tape and cones and flashing lights. It looked very real especially with Jed and I in the background as a forensic scientist and policeman. The magic was marred slightly by Ben having to do approximately one million takes. The evening ended with us being chased away by an angry 'security guard' waving his fist at those darn pesky kids. 

The newsreader was another brilliant invention, played to perfection by Jed. The set was knocked up at Jed's parents house out of almost nothing. A large piece of cardboard, a desk and a telephone. One instant newsreader set. What made it though was the inclusion of a photocopy of a picture of the Earth behind Jed, which he used to show the weather report. We even had a mysterious hand giving him the latest news bulletin, just like you never see in the real news. 
Sadly there was also some frankly poor stuff in this film as well. A pointless scene where a friend of Pete's gets attacked by the monster. There was some ridiculous effects when the friend gets his arm ripped off. We used a novelty of Mark's for this. 'The Arm: It's so realistic!', the packaging boasted. It was a rubber hand with a sleeve attached. The finger wiggled when it was switched on. It looked frankly pathetic. Even the huge amounts of blood squirted everywhere could not not redeem this effect. 

The best scenes were filmed on our second trip to Brighton. The climatic showdown between Zucker and the monster took place high above the beach on the cliffs. It was filmed quite quickly as time was against us. The usual story of filming in a public place, people stopping to see what you are doing and getting in the way. The fight looks excellent and Zucker shoots the monster with a frighteningly realistic looking gun, a blank firing replica. Thinking about it now, if the real Seaside Squad had been strolling along we could have got in big trouble. 

Next was THE big stunt. The monster, having been shot staggers dramatically over to the railings and falls over the edge, tumbling to his doom. It was an ambitious stunt. We stuffed the monster's boiler suit (All monsters should wear these. They look good and come in different colours) and attached a dummy head with the mask on. First we filmed a shot with the monster falling about 20 feet to the ground, which looked good. We were packing up and noticed the cliff towering above us, about 100 feet in the air. It had to be done. We dragged the dummy up the cliff. It was strangely deserted for some reason. We managed to get the body over to the cliff edge, there was no barrier to stop you falling over the side. We looked down to try and see Jed waving to tell us the camera was ready to shoot. We let go regardless. It tumbled to its death. Bits started to fall off it. it finally stopped about six feet from the ground, stuck on a branch or something. A small crowd had gathered to see what was going on but they soon got bored and dispersed. As we turned to head back down the cliff to retrieve what was left of the monster we noticed that right behind us was a small police station! Luckily it seemed to be closed and there was no sign of life. Perhaps it was the HQ of the Seaside Squad? Filming was complete. 

The film never had titles completed due to the editing equipment being nicked. It was due to be shown at Jed's 'End of Year show', with all the other rubbish that students had made. I can't recall exactly what happened but Mutant! was not shown. I believe that the standard excuse of 'technical reasons' was used. Technical Schmecnical. 

A few years later the sequel Inspector Zucker Vs Gorgo was made and here we have some exclusive extracts from the film production diary of director, Jan Manthey. For this film we have a new actor portraying Inspector Zucker.


" The insane Professor Shatner sits in his wheelchair talking to himself. He reveals his plans to take over the world with an army of Super Beings that have the bodies of gorillas but the heads of women. He calls Gorgo to go out and find a woman for his experiments. Gorgo has the body of a gorilla but the head of a man. Vince and Judy say goodnight to each other in a subway. They go their separate ways. Judy is worried something is following her. Gorgo leaps out and attacks her. He drags her away. Gorgo takes her back to Shatner who says he is going to use her head for a transplant. Vince goes back to the subway, he sees Judy's bag on the floor. He realises something has happened. He goes to a public phone. before he can finish dialling a hand reaches in and cuts him off. Inspector Zucker introduces himself and says he can help. Zucker finds a clue and they go to have it analysed. Back at the laboratory Shatner reveals his plans to Judy who is strapped to a table. He has a flashback to when he tried to make his wifes face prettier. It leaves her disfigured. They fight and it ends with Mrs Shatner paralysing him with a paralysis gun. Zucker and Vince go to see Simon at his lab, who analyses the clue. He tells Zucker it comes from a half man half ape hybrid. Shatner appears on a TV screen and taunts them. Vince tries to attack the TV, but is restrained by Zucker.Gorgo enters and attack. In the fight Gorgo defeats them all and carries off Vince. Shortly, Zucker follows them with the help of a map that Gorgo dropped. Simon gives him a banana. Shatner hits Gorgo for bringing back Vince instead of Simon. Shatner begins his plan, he wants to transplant the head of Judy onto the body of Gorgo. Zucker enters and attacks Shatner.Shatner gets the better of him and is about to inject a poison serum into him. Gorgo frees himself and knocks Shatner to the floor. Shatner staggers to his feet and plunges the serum into Gorgo, who with his dying strength knocks Shatner to the floor again. Zucker, Vince and Judy leave the carnage. 
They all go back to Simon's lab. As mysteriously as he appeared Zucker disappears, leaving Vince and Judy baffled. Zucker walks into the sunset eating the banana." 

Directed, Written and Edited by Jan Manthey 
Music by Vic Pratt and Jonathan Cockerell 
Inspector Zucker - Rob Norfolk, Professor Shatner - Vic Pratt, Vince - Gareth McLennan, Judy - Diana Manthey, Simon - Jonathan Cockerell, Mrs Shatner - Jenny Hammerton, Gorgo - ? 

Exclusive extracts from the personal diary of Jan Manthey: 

TUES 25th JAN 2000 
At last the first scenes are shot. Alleyway was very noisy, so only got one scene shot, but it came out too dark. Looking at the rushes I realised I had missed out an entire scene, so reshoot necessary. Must take more time in preparation. 

SUN 6th FEB 
Vic's flat for flashback scene. Didn't look like a lab but it doesn't matter. Great ugly makeup on Jenny. A good shoot was had. Gareth is unsure of his commitments. Rob has shaved his hair. 

Refilmed stuff I got wrong before. Performances were a lot better, especially Rob. Tried to stick moustache on him but it just wasn't going to work. 

Finally get cast together for big shoot in Heston Scout Hut. Mark Duqueno cancelled his night out to do camera duties. Go into hut and panic as I cannot turn lights on. Luckily Vic sorts this out. Cover walls in white paper and with the help of an old hair dryer and some black plastic domes an authentic laboratory complete with Brain Transference Device is created. Vic has trouble manoeuvring wheelchair but his performance is brilliant. A mix of Boris Karloff and J.Carrol Naish. Shoot finishes at 1.30 am. Everyone freezing cold and tired. I didn't feel cold as I had big furry gorilla costume on. 

Will the shooting for this film never end? 
Went to shoot in St Thomas Hospital (courtesy of Mr Cockerell), it all looked very futuristic, not like Shatner's knackered old scout hut lab. we did the fight scene first to avoid rushing it at the end, as a result it does not look as pathetic as the final confrontation between Shatner and Zucker. Performances were good and I feel this filmic odyssey is near the end after nearly 5 months. 

At last the shooting is over with a simple shot of Gareth running down an alleyway. I feel quite emotional. Now the hard work of editing begins. 

After putting it off for ages I finally get around to editing this monster I have created. I started last week but got annoyed with it so I put it on ice for a week or so. I had my usual problems of getting shots to
match up, not enough 'cutaways', etc. Some shots I thought would cut together didn't so I had to trash some good footage, the final piece looks pretty good though. One bit that couldn't be saved was the final 'climatic' showdown which just looks pathetic. When I watch it now all I can say is 'Ed Wood lives!' 

Today is the official premiere of Inspector Zucker vs Gorgo at the Portbello Film Festival 2000. I was excited and nervous about how it would be received. It turned out to be a triumph. A lot of folk turned up to see it. I didn't realise I knew so many people. The bar was packed. I was I dressed in my Gorgo costume and went through the crowds telling them to see my film. it was a very William Castleesque thing to do, and certainly aroused attention and/or suspicion. Just after the fumbled intro to the film ( I was announced as Ian Manthey), Vic and myself as Gorgo introduced the film. People enjoyed the film enormously and a good time was had by all. Rob Norfolk ( Inspector Zucker) said to me "it's the most interesting thing I have done for a year or two...". I take this as a compliment. 

Inspector Zucker Vs Gorgo is now available on YouTube...

There is a third instalment to the Zucker saga, it has been written but remains unfilmed. Watch this space for "Inspector Zucker meets the Vampire"... 

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