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Professor Morlock

The first entry in the "Morlock" series. Pulitzer prize-winning ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton (played by superstar Mara Marini) is sent to check out strange doings at the abandoned insane asylum. She discovers that once-brilliant research scientist Leopold Morlock (played by fourth-billed Jesse Merlin, a star with the Barstow Opera Company appearing in only his third film) is in residence and conducting experiments on Amanda Globe (played by scream queen Amy Ball), a nurse at the asylum who was thought to have disappeared years before. Morlock manages to shrink Miss Globe (and his evil assistant Ruprecht, played by "B" movie character actor Tom Ackerman) to miniature size so that they can carry out fiendish revenge against his colleagues at the university who discredited Morlock and had him sent to the asylum. The mad doctor manages to capture Janet and tie her up in his laboratory just before her story goes to print and prepares to transplant her brain with a chimpanzee but just before the switch is flipped, Janet's love interest, no-nonsense cop Jack Mannix (played by heart throb Jonny M.), breaks into the lab and shoots Morlock dead.

The Return of Professor Morlock

Morlock was thought to be killed off in the first film but after the studio decided on a sequel, it was disclosed that he had the power to regenerate back from the dead. He returns from the pits of hell for revenge but since the budget was slashed for the sequel and they couldn't afford to bring back Mara Marini, Morlock focuses his wrath on high-strung former nurse Amanda Globe (Amy Ball in her largest screen role to date). Assisted by his evil henchman Ruprecht (played once again by Tom Ackerman after his career was shut down by a scandal over his addiction to reefer and he was unable to find work anywhere else), Morlock kidnaps Ball and experiments on her in the hopes of finally achieving his dream of transplanting her brain with that of a gorilla. Her only hope is no-nonsense cop Jack Mannix (played again by Jonny M. after the producers realized he owed them two days work from his contract on the first film), who breaks into Morlock's lab and once again guns him down just before the switch is flipped. The movie fades out with Amanda hoping Mannix will hook up with her, but his heart still belongs to Janet and anyway, he realizes that if he blows Amanda off that he won't have to appear in the next sequel.

The Testament of Professor Morlock

The budget was once against slashed for this third entry in the series, which Merlin fought tooth and nail not to do but he was financially devastated after waging an expensive legal battle to be included on the lucrative Morlock merchandising that he lost in court. Morlock spends most of the film offscreen as his ghost is channeled from hell by a gypsy fortune teller named Olga, who instructs Morlock's evil henchman Ruprecht to once again try and transplant Amanda's brain with that of a gorilla (no one could figure out why Morlock was obsessed with that but any time anyone questioned he about it, he would get very upset and sulk in a corner). Ruprecht detests Amanda because she is constantly turning down his grotesque sexual advances, and sadistically prepares her for the procedure. As he does, he discovers that as a result of their experiments, Amanda's insides are coated in priceless uranium which will make her a powerful Atomic Gorilla once they can get the brain hooked up. Ruprecht is unable to find a gorilla so he relies on Olga's mute son to capture one from the local zoo. The mute returns with a somewhat wimpy ape (played by legendary stuntman Peter Fields in a gorilla suit) just as Morlock is finally able to take physical form after his torment in hell and is about to work the transplant again when the orangutan (who has developed a sympathy with Amanda after she is kind to him in the holding cell following his removal from the zoo) breaks free and kills the insane professor, sending him back to hell.

Jesse Merlin only had about twenty minutes of screen time because he was so fed up over his oppressive contract that he walked out on the film in mid-production and went to England to shoot a horror version of the Charlie Chan mysteries for Hammer Films that he hoped would revive his career. "the Testament" had to be rewritten on the spot to make up for his absence and much of the other 65 minutes is taken up by Amanda being chased through cardboard sets by Ruprecht, with Olga showing up every once in a while to channel Professor Morlock's ghost from hell.

The reviews for the film were universally terrible, but it turned a huge profit for the studio.

The Ghost of Professor Morlock

This was expected to be the final film in the series, and it is by far the worst. Amy Ball would only agree to shoot for one day but they needed her for billing purposes so she appears in six minutes and twenty-eight seconds of the movie. Jesse Merlin's performance is edited together entirely from archival footage and outtakes from the previous movies while he was engaged in yet another bitter legal battle with the producers for walking out on the last "Morlock."

The rest of the film is Glenn Simon (who plays Amanda Globe's fiance) coming to Olga's gypsy seance parlor to try and find out what happened to Amanda when she strangely disappears. The story is told in flashback that she has been killed by Morlock's henchman Ruprecht (played, as always, by Tom Ackerman in exchange for a boxed lunch and deferred pay) and taken into hell by Morlock.

The film did not make its $12,000 budget back at the box office.

The Bride of Professor Morlock

This sequel was great news for “Professor Morlock” fans, who staged a massive letter writing campaign to bring the character back.

After the debacle of “The Ghost of Professor Morlock,” the beloved series was thought to be dead. But when the studio received millions of letters demanding its return, they produced a big budget reboot entitled “The Bride of Professor Morlock.” Jesse Merlin returned in his signature role as the insane scientist who performs unspeakable experiments on human subjects after the studio backed a dump truck of money to his studio apartment in Sylmar. Best of all, superstar Mara Marini reprised her role of Janet Lawton from the first “Morlock” movie (by all accounts the only really good one up to this point), the ace investigative reporter who has come back to foil Murlock's evil plans aided by her love interest, no-nonsense cop Jack Mannix (played once again by Jonny M. in a performance of staggering woodenness). There are lots of scenes showing Janet being tied up in her lingerie but nothing really good unless you count a graphic nude sex scene between Jonny and Ms. Marini’s body double that was cut from the final print (but you can watch it if you ever want to come over to Jonny's place). Also returning from the first film was Winston, the Wonder Pug playing himself.

In a nod to the film’s massive budget, Morlock’s henchman Ruprecht was played by Robert DeNiro and NOT series stalwart Tom Ackerman. Ackerman fans can look for the actor in a non-speaking cameo as a cab driver, for which he received his customary boxed lunch and deferred pay.

New to the series is starlet Stephanie Fredricks as Morlock’s bride, who was cast only after she agreed to appear in ¾ of the film completely naked. This was the first “Morlock” film not to feature Amy Ball in the role of the professor’s perpetual prey Amanda Globe. The role was written out of the script when Ms. Ball proved to be unavailable because she was directing a documentary about victims of ISIS violence in Iraq.

New to the series is Broadway legend Stephanie Fredricks as Morlock’s bride, who deeply regretted accepting the role and refused to speak about it for the rest of her life. It was the first “Morlock” film not to feature Amy Ball in the role of the professor’s perpetual prey Amanda Globe. The role was written out of the script when Ms. Ball turned down flat the producers's offer after she saw that her first scene was yet another attempt by the professor to transplant her brain into a gorilla. She directed a low-budger documentary about trans-gender victims of housing discrimination in the U.S. instead.

Professor Morlock's Daughter

Thanks to the monumental success of “The Bride of Professor Morlock,” the studio completed this sequel.

This edition of the Morlock saga features the spawn of his short-lived marriage to the Goddess of Darkness before she was blown apart by the US military at the end of “The Bride of Professor Morlock.” The insane professor (played as always by Jesse Merlin) tries to teach his daughter (played by screen newcomer Paige Simon) his nefarious ways before he dies of a curse placed on him by his evil henchman Ruprecht, who was written out of the script when Robert DeNiro wanted too much money to reprise the character.

There were some exciting new directions for the series. Morlock’s nemesis, ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton (played again by superstar Mara Marini) has a hex put on her by Morlock that turns her into a nymphomaniac who is sexually obsessed with her love interest Jack Mannix (played once more by Jonny M.) and forces her to perform unimaginable perverted acts with him throughout the film.

Returning to the series, at fans’ insistence, was Amy Ball as Morlock’s prey Amanda Globe, who did not appear in “Bride.” The character of Amanda has been beefed up for the sequel after spending the previous installments of the series as a helpless victim to Morlock’s evil experiments. According to the script, Amanda spent the time that “The Bride of Professor Morlock” took place on another planet, where she acquired super powers and now returns to earth to finally go mano-a-mano with Morlock before Ruprecht’s curse destroys him. Amanda's first entrance when she returns to the professor's laboratory for revenge is widely considered to be the most famous scene in the history of the franchise.

The New York Times referred to “Professor Morlock’s Daughter” as “by far the most ridiculous entry in the series.” The fans loved it, and it was a box office bonanza that earned over a billion dollars world-wide.

The Curse of Professor Morlock

The Professor Morlock series reached its zenith with an exciting and complex sequel, “The Curse of Professor Morlock”. Morlock (played once again by Jesse Merlin) is in the throes of a curse placed on him by his evil henchman Ruprecht (returning to the series in the guise of veteran character actor Steve Peterson). As he begins slowly turning into a zombie, those who have fought him over the years realize that Morlock is, in fact, the reason that the entire human race hasn’t turned into zombies over the last thousand years. When Morlock’s body begins breaking apart and his insane mind now craves human brains, those who haven’t yet transformed into zombies realize that the only hope for man is for Morlock to be rejuvenated.

Morlock’s nemesis, ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton (played in an extended cameo by superstar Mara Marini), is of little help. She is still consumed by the nymphomaniac hex cast on her by Morlock in the last movie, and she is only capable of having graphic sex scenes with her love interest Jack Mannix (played by the exhausted Jonny M.).

Mankind’s only hope is Morlock’s longtime prey Amanda Globe (played by Amy Ball in a powerhouse performance that was ranked as the front runner for that year’s Academy Award until she appeared in a disastrous gross-out comedy just before the ballots went out that knocked her out of contention), who returned to the series in the last film having developed super powers after living on another planet. She returned to earth with the goal of killing Morlock, but now finds herself in the ironic dilemma of being the only person who is able to save him and by extension, the human race.

Site & Sound Magazine said that after the silliness of the previous entry in the series, “The Curse of Professor Morlock must easily rank as the greatest sequel in the history of motion pictures.”

The House of Professor Morlock

After constantly battling with Joss Whedon on “The Curse of Professor Morlock,” Jesse Merlin would only agree to return for the final entry in the series if he was allowed to direct. He turns in a surprisingly first-class job in one of the best of the “Morlocks.”

Professor Morlock has been cured of his zombie curse after Amanda Globe (Amy Ball) grudgingly uses her super powers acquired on an alien planet at the end of “Curse.” But now, the insane professor learns that his thousand year life span will be coming to an end unless he sacrifices his nemesis, ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton (played once again by superstar Mara Marini, who signed on to the film only after being guaranteed a massive salary bump and added profit participation), at the Satanic alter. Lawton is finally free of the nymphomaniac hex that Morlock cast on her in “Professor Morlock’s Daughter,” but after the death of her love interest, no-nonsense cop Jack Mannix, she no longer has anyone to protect her from the professor’s evil plots (Director Merlin insisted that the character of Jack Mannix be written out of the script because he loathed working with actor Jonny M., who Merlin considered nothing more than untalented beefcake).

Janet’s only hope is Amanda’s extraterrestrial super powers to finally destroy Morlock. But after curing him in “Curse” and ridding mankind of the zombie scourge that Morlock’s supernatural spell protected them from, she was drained and forced to return to the alien planet she called home to replenish her powers. But Janet has one unexpected ally left: Morlock’s evil henchman Ruprecht (played by the role’s creator Tom Ackerman; because Merlin and Marini’s salary demands were so large that the producers could only afford Ackerman’s customary boxed lunch and deferred pay to cast it). After his curse of Morlock fails, Ruprecht realizes that the only way he can survive is if his former master is finally destroyed. So, using the scientific knowledge he learned from Morlock, he creates a transporter ray which will allow Amanda to return regenerated from her foreign planet for one final battle royal with her past tormentor.

Time magazine said that “As ‘Morlocks,’ go, this will be perfectly acceptable to hardcore fans.”

The Wrath of Professor Morlock

The Professor Morlock franchise was unexpectedly revived when screenwriter Joe Mullich (who also served as director in remarkably derivative fashion) was desperate for money to make the alimony payments to his seven ex-wives.

In the last installment “The House of Professor Morlock,” Morlock was presumed to have finally been destroyed when he was left as nothing but a severed head at the finale. But it was discovered that without having a body to slow him down, he was able to use his twisted yet brilliant mind at 300% of his previous capacity to finally be able to achieve his goal of transplanting the brain of a gorilla into his nemesis ace investigative reporter Janet Lawson (played as always by superstar Mara Marini) to create an atomic super gorilla with which to rule mankind. Without a body, Morlock relies on two new characters, his brutal slave Günter (played by James Cleveland), who is not only the professor’s new assistant but his love interest after Morlock places him in a torturous mind grip, and the sexy zombie Priscilla (played by Robin Greenspan) who is primarily around to show some skin since all of the other actresses’ contracts prohibit any nudity.

Things go awry after Morlock kidnaps Janet and attempts the transplant when his former evil assistant Ruprecht (played once again by Tom Ackerman, this time for union scale but with his entire salary going to the Internal revenue Service), who was consigned to a spectral dimension by Morlock so that all his scenes could be shot in one day, sabotages the transplant so that it is the professor’s brain that is exchanged with the gorilla’s rather than Janet’s. Ruprecht’s scheme backfires since with Morlock’s mega brain atop the atomic super gorilla’s body, he is now an unstoppable menace who will finally rule the world.

Mankind’s only hope is once again the professor’s former victim who developed super powers after living on an alien planet, Amanda Globe (played as always by Amy Ball who only returned to the series after being offered an ungodly amount of money). The twist is that due to the earth’s global warming her powers are diminished (the ecology slant in the script was insisted on by Mara Marini for her to come back) so her battle royal with the professor to save the human race takes place in outer space.

In a remarkably perceptive review, David B wrote in that “the only conceivable reason that anyone wanted to make this film was for the money.”

The Plot of Professor Morlock

The series got back on track with the first entry scripted by the original writer, Jeebus Burbano, since the third film “The Testament of Professor Morlock.” Burbano also served as producer of the film, which got away from the CGI special effects and sensational plot twists of the most recent Morlocks for the more streamlined, atmospheric feeling of the earliest films.

The reduced budget meant that the production couldn’t afford megastar Mara Marini as ace investigative report Janet Lawton, but returning for his first Morlock since “The Curse of Professor Morlock” was no-nonsense policeman Jack Mannix played by Jonny M. This reportedly led to a significant amount of tension on the set because series star Jesse Merlin detested Jonny and considered him a no-talent hack (Jonny provides his usual wooden performance as Mannix, although his astonishing good looks almost make up for his lack of ability as an actor).It was rumored that writer/producer Burbano insisted on Jonny’s participation in the film because she was sleeping with him at the time, and got around the character’s death by arguing that Morlock himself was killed at the end of every movie and was resurrected for the next one so they could do the same with Mannix.

The one new character returning from the last Morlock, at the insistence of the studio, was sexy zombie Priscilla (played by Robin Greenspan). She had proven popular with audiences because of her sensitive portrayal and willingness to appear in most of the movie completely naked.

The plot (which was worked out because they had made the poster first and had to come up with a script around it) concerns Morlock’s usual return from hell and his plot to turn the women of earth into his army of mermaid slaves, aided by his evil assistant Ruprecht (who returned from the spectral dimension he was consigned to after actor Tom Ackerman agreed to go back to working for a boxed lunch and deferred pay for his performance). The mad professor discovers a way of reversing the alien super powers of his nemesis Amanda Globe (played by Amy Ball only after a studio rep got her mind-numbingly drunk and had her sign the contract when she was essentially comatose) and mutates her into a mermaid so that she can lead his army in attacking New York City. His plan backfires when the pollution in the east River restores his super powers, resulting in an underwater battle royal between her and the professor which kills him and sends him back to hell.

The entry got the series its best reviews since “The Curse of Professor Morlock,” with  Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post exclaiming that it was “The first ‘Morlock’ in ages that didn’t make me want to puke up my popcorn.”

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