The name Donald F. Glut (last named pronounced “gloot”) may not be familiar to some of you, but chances are you already know the man’s work. Glut is an author, screenwriter, comic book scribe, filmmaker, and an amateur paleontologist. His 1980 novelization of The Empire Strikes Back was a national bestseller and he has written for comics published by Marvel, DC, and Warren Publishing. Glut is widely credited with creating some of the characters and back story for the Masters of the Universe toy line, material that proved useful when the franchise moved into animated television and feature film in the mid-1980’s. To this day he continues to hone his craft behind the camera as the director of a series of low-budget sexploitation flicks that you’ll usually find on Cinemax or Showtime in the middle of the night.
Before he found professional success Glut had achieved minor fame in the horror and sci-fi fan community for something that was very unique in those days. In 1953 after being inspired by a viewing of the monster movie classic The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Glut began making his own amateur short films dinosaurs, aliens, monsters, and his favorite superheroes of the day including Superman and the Spirit. After graduating from high school he was accepted into the University of Southern California’s prestigious film school, the same talent factory that birthed to the world the filmmaking careers of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, George Lucas, and Robert Zemeckis to name but a few. Between 1953 and 1969, Glut made 41 short films, many of which received special praise in the pages of the late Forrest J. Ackerman’s beloved genre fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland.
The last amateur short Glut made was an original Spider-Man adventure where Marvel Comics’ wall-crawling crimefighter takes on the nefarious Dr. Lightning. You can watch the full video here below.
Long before the advent of the Internet and advances in video filmmaking equipment and digital production software made it possible for fan-made shorts and trailers to be easily and inexpensively produced, Glut was doing wonders with a lot of free time, some expendable toys, and a few handy firecrackers. I honestly don’t see how the upcoming reboot The Amazing Spider-Man can top Glut’s 11-minute wonder in terms of sheer unapologetic entertainment value. This short is a killer watch and the true definition of a labor of love. The dialogue sounds like vintage Stan Lee, the action sequences have that crazed energy Sam Raimi injected into his Evil Dead trilogy (and brought a little of to his own big screen Spider-Man epics), and the visual effects are…beautiful. When Spidey goes into web-slingin’ action the actor is replaced by a stop-motion animated toy figurine and what appears to be a life-size doll of the character being slung around on webbing that actually looks like mosquito netting from a relative’s set of camping gear. The music is a hilariously out-of-place jazz-funk fusion; Spidey’s theme is the best of all.
And is it just me or does Dr. Lightning resemble a mash-up of Destro and the Bicentennial Man?
All 41 of Glut’s short features were made available to the public for the first time on the DVD special features of I Was a Teenage Movie Maker, a 2006 documentary about the man and his films. The disc is a highly recommended purchase.