Larry Buchanan

Larry Buchanan

TUCSON, ARIZ.--Self-described "cinema schlockmeister" Larry Buchanan, whose five decades on the rough edges of the movie business included the creation of such cult classics as "Mars Needs Women" and "Zontar, The Thing From Venus," died here Dec. 2 of complications from a collapsed lung. He was 81. MSTies experienced his, um, unique cinematic vision as the producer and director of the movie in episode 418- ATTACK OF THE THE EYE CREATURES (Michael J. Nelson also appeared as Buchanan in the final host segment of that episode).

Born Marcus Larry Seale Jr., he was raised in an orphanage near Dallas. A sponsorship by the Variety Clubs of America brought him to California, where his first job was in the 20th Century Fox prop department, at age 18. From there he became a contract player for Fox, changing his name and doing mostly bit parts.

But Buchanan knew he wanted to direct and, finding it difficult to break into the craft in Hollywood, he moved to New York, joined the Signal Corps and made training films for the military. From there he headed up a small studio based in Dallas, where he made both features (Westerns at first, then everything from counter-culture films to documentaries) and commercials.

His work caught the attention of American International Pictures, who told him, he once recalled, "We want some cheap, fast, color pictures...and we want them now." The result was some of Buchanan's best-known efforts, including "In the Year 2889" and "Creature of Destruction." His later work included "A Bullet for Pretty Boy" "The Naked Witch" and a Bergmanesque outing called "Strawberries Need Rain. "

In 1996 he published a book called It Came From Hunger: Tales of a Cinema Schlockmeister. He was still occasionally making movies into his 80s, and in fact wrapped his last film only weeks ago.

He is survived by his wife, Jane, and a daughter.