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Review: ‘Beast Wishes’ Celebrates The Delightful Bob Burns

Bob And Kathy Burns In Person Sunday At Digital Gym Cinema

Above: Bob and Kathy Burns in their home in Burbank. They are the subject of the charming documentary "Beast Wishes."

Aired 7/3/14 on KPBS News.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews teh documentary "Beast Wishes."

Transcript

If you don’t know who Bob Burns is, then there’s a gap in your pop culture knowledge that can be fixed with the documentary "Beast Wishes," screening Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Digital Gym Cinema. Burns and his wife, Kathy, will be there.

So who is this Bob Burns? That’s hard to answer because he’s so many things. He’s a gifted suit actor bringing gorillas like Tracy to life on the 1975 TV show "The Ghost Busters." He and his wife Kathy have archived an entire generation of practical movie effects, collecting props from "King Kong" to "Alien." Greg Nicotero, now famous for his make up work on The Walking Dead, appreciates what they have done as fans.

"Bob and Kathy Burns were smart enough to preserve almost every important artifact in sci-fi movie history," Nicotero explained in the documentary "Beast Wishes."

Companion Viewing

"King Kong" (1933)

"The Ghost Busters" (1975, TV Series)

"King B: A Life in the Movies" (1993)

But that’s not all. The Burns are also famous for their glorious Halloween haunted houses that have attracted Oscar-winners -- Rick Baker ("An American Werewolf in London"), Dennis Muren ("Jurassic Park," "E.T.") -- as volunteers. "Animal House" director John Landis is one of the Burns’ many fans.

"He had his own career in entertainment but he always was a fan and Bob and Kathy Burns, both drew around them a group of people, mostly kids, who went on to change the face of the business," Landis said in the documentary.

All these aspects of Bob Burns' life are celebrated in the charming documentary "Beast Wishes." The film screens Sunday at the Digital Gym Cinema at 2921 E. El Cajon Blvd. in North Park, where you can meet Burns and his wife. And that’s a treat that’s not to be missed.

I have seen both of them at numerous conventions, including Monsterpalooza, and they are such a pleasure to meet and listen to. Their sheer joy and enthusiasm sweeps you up and inspires you to want to follow in their footsteps. The intimate setting of the Digital Gym's micro cinema is the perfect venue to meet this engaging couple as well as the filmmakers. I hope you will come out and give them a warm welcome.

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