Professor Morlock: Armageddon

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The Professor Morlock saga was thought to have come to an end with “The Plot of Professor Morlock” when the makers dropped the bombshell that Morlock, long thought to be the tormentor of the tortured Amanda Globe, had actually been her protector all along; shielding her from the wrath of the savage alien warlord Wog the Destroyer. Morlockians immediately demanded another sequel, this one bringing the once-unthinkable team of Morlock and Globe together to do battle with the vicious Wog.

It was initially thought to be an impossible dream since both Merlin and Ball had stated publicly that they’d sooner chew off their own feet than return to the roles that made them famous. It was only after they saw the script co-written by series creator Jeebus Burbano and longtime Morlock scribe Joe Mullich that they agreed to come back. And joining them would be director Joss Whedon, who helmed the best of the Morlocks.

Not everyone was returning, though. The character of ace investigative reporter Janet Lawton had to be written out when the shooting schedule conflicted with Mara Marini’s wedding to and honeymoon with Jonny M., who she had finally managed to coax into marriage after years of obsessively pursuing his affection. Far more tragically, Tom Ackerman would not be playing Morlock’s evil henchman Ruprecht after he died of a reefer overdose on the eve of shooting. The role was taken over by Steve Peterson, who played the role in “The Curse of Professor Morlock” and provided a powerhouse portrayal.

Robin Greenspan returned to the role of the sexy zombie Priscilla (once again spending almost the entire film completely nude save for her green body makeup) and the role of Wog was assigned to Eddie Frierson, a little-known actor who had developed a following as a female impersonator in San Francisco. He rose to the challenge with an Academy Award-nominated triumph as the grisly personification of evil.

Things did not seem so rosy as production delays and the inevitable violent disagreements between Whedon and Merlin caused the budget to skyrocket until it finally rang in as the most expensive film ever made. It would have to be a financial blockbuster to keep the studio from going bankrupt; there was a great sigh of relief when it opened on the 4th of July to the biggest box office in history. By the time the smoke had cleared, “Professor Morlock: Armageddon” was the biggest money-maker in movie history. And Merlin and Ball were rewarded for their faith in returning to the parts when they won two of the film’s 10 Academy Awards.

Was the Morlock franchise finally dead? The filmmakers and cast swore it was but they’ve made the same promise many times before. But like the evil professor himself, it keeps coming back from the grave more powerful than ever.