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Cult film actor thrills local fans

December 16, 2000

Cult film actor thrills local fans

By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

Low-budget film actor Conrad Brooks was generous with his time and tales Saturday at Clara's Corner.

The Falling Waters, W.Va., resident was signing autographs and selling videos of his "B" movies, the most notable of which is probably the cult movie, "Plan 9 from Outer Space." The film was directed by Ed Wood.

A rainy, overcast day probably kept many people away from the Wise Auction House complex, at 700 Linganore Ave. in Hagerstown's West End, Saturday, but that didn't dampen Brooks' spirits.

Brooks, 69, estimated he signed autographs for and talked with about 20 local movie fans Saturday morning.

People who didn't recognize him or read his poster board marquee, got a live summary of his career from the actor. He said he has been in more than 200 movies.


"This is Hagerstown. They love celebrities. I'm a legend. Anybody can be a star, but I'm a legend," said an exuberant Brooks.

Brooks signed black-and-white pictures taken of himself with Bela Lugosi in 1952.

He talked about leaving Hollywood because it was too expensive - both to live in and the cost of films.

And he took time to set the record straight.

Brooks said he never insulted Lugosi. A 1994 film about Wood's life included a scene where Brooks, played by Brent Hinkley, insulted Lugosi by calling him Boris Karloff's sidekick, Brooks said.

"In real life that did not happen," Brooks said.

Nor did Brooks ever ask Lugosi for his autograph.

"All these people I worked with, I didn't get their autographs," Brooks said.

Brooks offered to sign autographs at the auction house complex at the suggestion of Fran Shank, who runs a cafe there. Brooks had become a regular after discovering the auction house complex about three months ago.

"He just called and asked if he could come by," said John Schrock, who along with his wife, Clara, runs Clara's Corner.

"I like the old SciFis," Schrock said.

Still, Schrock said he didn't recognize Brooks until Brooks pointed himself out in a movie poster.

Schrock said he likes low-budget movies like "Plan 9" because, while the special effects were often poor, they thrilled him as a child.

Schrock said Brooks' "Jan-Gel" wasn't a bad movie, either.

Brooks produced and directed the film, which he shot in the Inwood, W.Va., area about a year ago.

As for Brooks' penchant for "B" movies, "It doesn't take long to make them. ... I like to do it. Do it and get it over with," he said.

Brooks will be signing autographs again at Clara's Corner from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, and New Year's Day.

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