Dr. Lao's Loch Ness Monster


     Yet another creature I have added to my monster menagerie the Loch Ness monster from the 1964 fantasy “The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao” starring Tony Randall in the titular role. Much has been made about Randall having had seven roles to play in the film with make-up to match but I take issue with that claim since one of the characters (the Serpent in the cage) is in fact a stop motion critter and the abominable snowman seen briefly throughout the film could have been anyone in a furry white pelt. Also, Randall himself (sans makeup) is seen sitting in the circus audience towards the end of the film, shaking his head in disapproval (?) at the goings on. Rumor has it that he didn't particularly care for the film so that reaction shot probably affirms that rumor. In any case, he does give a nice set of performances, the most impressive being to this writer that of the world weary seer Appolonius of Tyana.


     On a side note, those that have read the novel on which the film is based (The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney) will be sorely disappointed if they expected the same in the film. The novel is, at times, ribald, funny, racist and nonsensical with the major dispute being whether the figure seen in a cage during Lao's procession through the town of Abalone was a man, a bear or a Russian (honest).There is no backstory that a swindler wants the town because of his knowledge that a railroad is planned that the townsfolk are ignorant nor was there any romance between any of the characters or a LochNess monster that, in the novel flip flops (I think) from being a great snake or a sea serpent depending on where you are in the story. What IS in the novel (and film) is the terrific word for word monologue that Appolonius gives to the shallow and vapid Mrs. Cassan about her future prospects. In short the screenplay, albeit a bit slow, is easier to follow than the novel.

The poster art of the film that intrigued me so as a fourteen year old in 1964.

      Back to the kit. This is another great sculpt by Joe Laudati that captures the monster quite nicely although the thirteen piece kit quality was a bit of a disappointment for me. There was large air pocket on the neck beneath the paper thin skin in that area. Admittedly this type of defect is hard to detect by the manufacturer but still. The flat attachment points of the flippers in the monster's body didn't match up at all with their respective deep divots in the body. There was NO base. This in itself wasn't the much of an issue for me since I generally add my own but I found it kinda cheap IMHO. A far superior modeler than myself (Kevin Conlin) kindly made a nice base out of 3/4” pine for me.  Thanks Kevin!

     For the most part, the pieces were well cast and required little clean up for this type of resin kit. I pinned the parts with 1” finishing nails and filled in any gaps with modeling paste. Once I cleaned up the attachment points of the completed beast, I gave it a coat of gray primer from a rattle can followed by army green also from a rattle can. I let this sit overnight before applying a medium green wash over the whole figure. I highlighted the creature's under body, fins, warts and barbels with a light gray green that I had mixed up from some acrylic craft paints.

     Due to the kit's no frills state, I decided to add a few features to make it a little more interesting. For starters, I went into the 3D printer universe and found a few things namely a couple of cowboys in flight, a number of cacti species and some torches. One runner (not a cowboy per se) was without a hat were as the other figure was perfect for my needs. In cases like this, I will usually print out more objects than I actually need to act as insurance.  Since resin prints take just as long to print one object as ten, I made three of each. This worked out well since I dropped one of the figures and its leg snapped off never to be seen again. I also cut off the head of a spare cowboy and ground it down with my mini-Dremel so I ended up with just the hat. As for the cactus, I printed out a few barrel varieties and a pair of saguaros that I had scaled to fit in the scene as I did with the two cowboys. I painted them olive drab with a wash of dark green.

A pair of photos showing the conclusion of the film with the actual screenshot on the left and my efforts are on the right (well, duh).

     Still feeling the scene was a bit barren, I decided to add elements of Lao's circus tent from which the sea serpent escapes. I found some medium blue and light gray cloth in my stash which fit the bill quite nicely. I had some 1/8” diameter bamboo skewers that I had picked up at the grocery store (100 for two bucks!) with I used as tent poles. Around one end of each, I added four short pieces for braces which I wrapped with yarn dyed tan to look like rope. I AC'd the cross bars to the ends of the uprights and wrapped the intersections with dyed yarn for strength and appearance. Before applying the tent fabric, I attached a few torches to the tent posts that I ran off on my 3Dprinter. These I painted Model Master steel with fluorescent orange and yellow for the flame. I secured the fabric to the poles with brown thread and called it a day. 7/25/23