01 May 2012

PSYCHOTRONIC PERSONAS: K. GORDON MURRAY

(I remembered I had this unpublished post in my draft folder while preparing to review the Mexican horror film The Brainiac aka El Barón del Terror and decided I would finally get this up.  Big fan of the Murray dubbed films and there will be more from this guy here in the future have no fear) Kenneth Gordon Murray was born in the American heartland of Bloomington Indiana in 1922. His father was a funeral home director and young Ken,or Kagey, spent much of his time in the company of local carnys and circus workers who camped in the Bloomington area during the cold winters. By the time he was a teenager he was running bingo parlors and getting the knack for smooth talking the authorities. By the end of the thirties Murray was getting his circus pals small roles in films through casting directors he knew. He help to cast several height impaired persons (midgets, dwarves, dwarfs or whatever they are called these days) in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. This would lead to him helping to cast circus folk for Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. By thins time Murray had moved to Hollywood with his wife Irene and learned some of the ropes of film production. While hardly worthy to tie the boot straps of someone like DeMille this did not stop Murray from heading to Miami Florida to set up his own production company humbly called K. Gordon Murray Productions.

It is from Miami that Gordon’s company would import and redub over two dozen foreign films, mostly from Mexico. He redubbed Santo the Wrestler films here as the character Samson. I honestly thought it was a whole other character for the first half of Samson in the wax Museum. Then my Sherlock Holmes type reasoning kicked in and I thought, “just how many silver masked wrestler detectives from Mexico were there?” In no time I deducted that Murray had simply changed Santo to Samson. I was proud of myself for that one. I finally got in a copy of Little Red Riding Hood Meets the Monsters and will watch it eventually and do a post on it. His films are rather obscure and hard to find. He reissues them under various titles and most slipped off into public domain oblivion since he failed to manage them or even copyright many of them. Later the IRS would seize what films of his they could get their claws on and that only added to the difficulty in finding suitable prints of many of his imported and original films.

His films fall roughly into three categories. His imported and redubbed films, usually Mexican wrestling and horror movies.  Then there are his fairy tale films that earned him the title of King of Kiddie Matinees. A couple of his more noted kiddie titles were Santa Claus, which enjoyed a long and lucrative run, and Puss and Boots,which I would love to see because I have read it is simply an abominable production. The last category consists of about a dozen original exploitation type films like Shanty Tramp which had an X rating. All told Murray released some 60 production that many people feel are almost all true cult classics. Almost impossible to find many of the any more, though Something Weird Video is releasing many that have thought long lost.  Almost all are  lacking in any real quality or even enthusiasm. The dubbing of the films (such as the Santo ones I have seen) are often quite hilarious. In fact I recently started watched Santo and the Diabolical Brain (considered one of the best ones) and it was subtitled and it just did not seem as cool as the cheaply dubbed Wax Museum one I had watched the night before. As silly as they sound Murray basically “invented” the looping style of dubbing that evolved into the system still used in modern pictures.

Somehow his names winds up in occult circles as well. Reportedly there are Satanic like cults built up around his films. I read this on the site dedicated him called Welcome to the Wonder World of K. Gordon Murray, which was supposed to be the title of a children’s themed TV show he did not get off the ground. He seems to be a real genuine independent film maker and gimmick maker. Not too much about him on the net though. I can only find this one picture which I edited because it was so washed out looking. There is a documentary on his life and films that is to be available soon and there is some info on that online, but again, not too much. He was just one of those crazy, workaholic film makers that the stuff of legend is made of. True film making legend. Expect a post on Little Red Riding Hood Meets the Monsters shortly K Gordon Murray and other gems that would have never seen the light of day (at least not with goofy dubbed English dialog) had it not been for his vision.









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