Friday, February 27, 2009

10 Vid-Cap Review or Less :: My Favorite Biblical Epic :: General George S. Patton's Ben-Hur: The Special Edition (1982)

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"Seize him!"
"Sure, I sees him."
"He's right there!"
"N'yuck! N'yuck! N'yuck!"
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We've gone over the 10 Vid-Cap limit to fully capture the epic grandeur of this... well, epic. But there is a handy intermission provided about half-way through if you need a bathroom break.

The End.

Ben-Hur (1982) SCTV / EP: Guy Caballero / P: Bill Needle / AP: Johnny LaRue / D: Johnny LaRue / W: George S. Patton / C: Tim Ishimuni / E: Johnny LaRue / M: Gerry Todd / S: John Candy, Harold Ramis, Katherine O'Hara, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Moments of Pure Cinema Fusion :: Leone's Masterpiece: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1967)

By definition, nuclear fusion is the process by which multiple like-charged atomic particles join together to form a heavier nucleus -- usually accompanied by the release of a massive amount of energy, depending on the elements involved. Applying that theory to film, there are certain moments in certain movies when the direction, cinematography, acting, editing, and soundtrack collide and merge into something I like to call Moments of Pure Cinema Fusion.

Here's probably the best example of this theory in use: The final, three-way duel in Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Honestly, there are a ton of scenes from this film that would qualify, and I wish there was a clip that started when Tuco is first blown into Sand Hill Cemetery and finished with the closing credits. Alas, this is as close as I could get.
Up first ... Tuco is overcome by the ecstasy of gold.

Which ultimately leads to the final duel.

Honestly ... I'd argue with anyone that, when you add up all the elements, that entire sequence is the greatest twenty-five minutes (give or take) of cinema ever committed to film.

Credit where credit is due:

Director: Sergio Leone / Screenplay: Leone, Luciano Vincenzoni, Furio Scarpelli, Angenore Incrocci / Cinematography:
Tonino Delli Colli / Editing: Eugenio Alabiso, Nino Baragli / Original Music: Ennio Morricone / Cast: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meme Leech :: M.I.A. on Region 1 DVD

Over at Moon in the Gutter, Jeremy Richey has spent the entire month of February spotlighting films that are currently, and criminally, Missing in Action on Region-1 DVD, and sent out the call for other bloggers to do the same. Sadly, there are a ton of films that deserve a legitimate DVD release, but today, I'm gonna focus on one of my favorite overlooked niches from the 1970's: those wonderful and weird Paranormal / Cryptozoological documentaries. Because, dammit, when I think of the 1970's -- and I think of them most fondly -- I think of hair-brained pseudo-science, eye-witness reenactments, eerie Moog synthesizers, and scholarly narrators standing in front of bookcase talking about mythical creatures like Bigfoot, belligerent E.T.'s, the Loch Ness Monster and the Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull. And so, I present to you eleven DVDs currently lost somewheres in The Bermuda Triangle...

Mysteries of the Gods (1976)

Based on the book of Swiss researcher Erich von Däniken and his theories on Ancient Astronauts, here, director Harold Reinl and and scriptwriter Charles Romine have Captain Kirk, Bill Shatner, proposing that life down here began out there ... (Whoops. Wrong franchise, dude.)

The Outer Space Connection (1975)

One of the first documentaries to blow the lid off of alien encounters, abductions, cattle mutilations, dubious experiments, to show what those little green @#%*ers are really up to, courtesy of Fred Washofsky and Alan Lansburg, with Rod Serling pitching in on the narration.

Mysteries from Beyond Earth (1975)

Director George Gale and scripters Judy and Ralph Bloom throw in everything but the kitchen sink: U.F.O.s, E.S.P. Devil Worshiping, and the Lost Continent of Atlantis -- but oddly enough, no Killer Bees. With Lawrence Dobkin as our dourly narrator.

Overlords of the U.F.O. (1976)

Here, Brook Standford and Gordon Allen postulates that Flying Saucers don't come from Outer Space but, instead, come from Inner Space -- or something.

The Bermuda Triangle (1979)

Based on Charles Berlitz's best selling book, Richard Freidenburg's film has Brad Crandell cover everything from the ships and planes lost in the Triangle to their probable root-causes, with those being anything from the crystal-powered Lost City of Atlantis to rogue underwater U.F.O. bases.

The Devil's Triangle (1974)

Richard Winer's film basically covers the exact same ground and incidents as The Bermuda Triangle, but, c'mon, Vincent Price is doing the narrating about doomed airmen and sailors with the tuneage provide by King Crimson. How cool is that?

Encounters with the Unknown (1973)

Rod Serling returns with three more terrifying tales of death foretold, open portals to hell, and ghostly encounters based, of course, on true accounts courtesy of Harry Thomasen and Jack Anderson.

Beyond and Back (1978)

Brad Crandell chimes back in with an exploration of near death experiences, spirituality and the existence of the human soul according to James Conway, Ralph Wilkerson and the patron saint of these things, Charles E. Selier Jr, who also gave us...

The Mysterious Monsters (1976)

Peter Graves discovers providing hard, scientific proof that Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster really do exist is a lot harder than it sounds. Aaaahhhhhhh-nother classic courtesy of Robert Guenette and Sunn Classics.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981)

This time, Robert Guenette talks Orson Welles into loosely translating some of the infamous French astrologists' poetry, which convinces some that the end is nigh. Again.

The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena (1976)

And there's that Guenette guy again, along with Raymond Burr, and Uri Geller shows up, too, for more theories on astral projection, telepathy and E.S.P.

Guenette and Selier also had a hand in In Search of Noah's Ark. And while we're wishing: How about box set of Lansburg's old In Search of TV show. And maybe we could get all those Made for TV Killer Bee movies released as well?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This New Dimension in Terror Feels A Lot Like the Old One :: A Beer Gut Reaction to Steve Miner's Friday the 13th Part 3-D

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"Goddammit, Shelley, why do you
always have to be such an asshole?"
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Out of the first wave of Camp Crystal Lake bloodbaths, Friday the 13th Part 3 is probably the most reviled and least popular of the original four. And if it weren't for the Jason-less installment in Part V and the whole mountain of stupid that was Jason Takes Manhattan, it'd probably be considered the worst of the franchise period. And rightfully so, as aside from a fine final girl in Dana Kimmel, it's a pretty crummy movie. Sure, it was the first appearance of the iconic hockey mask, but for those of us who prefer Mr. Potato-Sack Head it's kind of a wash.

Taking place the very next day after the events of Friday the 13th Part 2, another group of teen-aged cannon fodder head to the Kimmel family cabin, nestled somewhere on the scenic shores of Crystal Lake, for a weekend of pot-smoking and boot-knocking. Typical, yes, and about the only original twist in the plot comes from Kimmel, who relates how she caught a glimpse of young Jason Vorhees when she was a kid -- and the episode still haunts her to this day. Beyond that, the killings come in earnest, twelve in total, with a strong sense of deja-vu as a lot of the kills and set-pieces are just nth generation carbon-copies of the original film -- right down to the twist ending, with Kimmel the lone survivor; only this time the fetid and water-logged corpse of Mrs. Vorhees makes a cameo appearance. I know that doesn't make any sense. Yes, I know she doesn't have a head. Just roll with it, okay.
Of course we're two paragraphs into this review and I haven't even mentioned the film's biggest lure back then was that it was filmed in 3-D. See, the early 1980's saw an inexplicable resurgence of this camera trick and it resulted in a rash of horror film sequels whose numerations, by some cosmic twist of fate, just happened to serendipitously line-up: JAWS 3-D, Amityville 3-D and Friday the 13th Part 3-D all came out within a year of each other. At the time of there theatrical release, I managed to catch the giant shark taking out Sea World, but since my seventeenth birthday was still a few years away, even though blessed with an early growth spurt, I failed to bluff my way in and got busted at the ticket counter when I tried to see this flick, meaning I had to settle for the 2-D version when it finally hit the Video Kingdom. Which brings us up to a few days ago when I discovered that Paramount had re-released Friday the 13th Part 3 on DVD in both a 2-D and 3-D version.

Now, I had seen a few other DVDs touting the gimmick but took a pass on them after taking the plunge several years ago on a 3-D version of Catwomen on the Moon that didn't work worth a shit and was a complete waste of time and money. But still riding on a 3-D high from a recent trip to Disney-World, partaking in three different 3-D attractions, which were all a-flipping-mazing, I thought perhaps maybe technology had finally caught up to allow this to actually work.

So did it work?
Well, yes and no. Let me explain:
Putting the DVD in, I donned the glasses that were included and settled into the chair, but from the very beginning something just didn't feel right. The way the glasses were designed didn't fit my noggin' all that well; they were too wide, the eye-holes set too far apart, and the nose cut wasn't centered, which tended to draw your eyes to the left or to the center (-- think Opti-Grab from The Jerk). As for the picture, well, if you cocked your head just right and squinted, you almost got the effect the creator's intended. Thus, about a half-hour in, with all the overlapping images that wouldn't quite meld, I had myself a splitting headache; about an hour in it had erupted into a full blown migraine with the usual accompanying nausea; and then ten minutes later, I was rushing to the toilet and heaved up the Chinese take-out I'd ordered and eaten.

Thank you, movie.

Undaunted, after a handy Naproxem, I was determined to finish this f@cker. But first, on a whim, I went in search of some other 3-D glasses left over from B-Fest. I found them, donned them, pressed play, and the difference was night and day! With the proper eyewear, this thing really popped off the screen! Now, IMHO, the process worked best in the depth of field; when you have something stacked from front to back. Not so much, though, when they purposefully thrust something out at you; the only time that really worked was an amazing sequence when Kimmel dumps a bookcase over and the books plummet toward you and Jason. And yes, even in 3-D, Shelley is still a complete douchebag.

In the end, Friday the 13th Part 3, no matter what dimension you see it in, is still a crummy movie, but, from what I saw, forgetting the rough start due to some faulty equipment, I think 3-D on DVD is a viable commodity and look forward to more re-releases of other 3-D flicks. Think of it: It Came from Outer Space or Creature from the Black Lagoon anyone?

Other Points of Interest:

Newspaper ads for Friday the 13th Part 3 at the Morgue.

Friday the 13th Part 3 3-D (1982) Jason Productions :: Georgetown Productions Inc. :: Paramount Pictures / EP: Lisa Barsamian / P: Frank Mancuso Jr., Tony Bishop / AP: Peter Schindler / D: Steve Miner / W: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson / C: Gerald Feil / E: George Hively / M: Harry Manfredini / S: Dana Kimmell, Tracie Savage, Richard Brooker, Jeffrey Rogers, Richard Brooker, Catherine Parks, Larry Zerner

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Movie Poster Spotlight :: Frankenstein Pre-Production Teaser (1931)

This One-Sheet was part of the pre-release publicity for Universal's Frankenstein, (erroneously) touting the inclusion of Bela Lugosi in the cast to cash in on his Dracula fame, and (falsely) showing the monster as some kind of kaiju-eiga. Even after Lugosi bowed out (-- or got canned, depending on which version you believe), the studio brass continued to conceal the identity of the monster to whet the eager audience's appetite.

Need a Laugh? Here Ya Go...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good Reads :: An Ode to What Might Have Been...

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"These are just some of the legendary unmade films covered in this groundbreaking book, proving that even if you are one of the most powerful names in Hollywood, development can still be hell ... Drawing on many exclusive interviews with the writers, designers and directors involved [the book] is both a celebration of unrealized dreams and a compelling expose of the Hollywood machine's inner workings."
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Speaking honestly, as much as I love movies, it is finding the nuggets of carnal knowledge behind the productions, the nuts and bolts of how certain films got made, or in this case why they didn't, that pushes my cinematic obsessions into the realm of full blown psychosis. And if you are also so inclined to this notion of fandom, then David Hughes' The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made is an absolute must read. Just imagine if you will:
  • Night Skies: Basically a feature length version of the raid and abduction sequence at the Guiler farmhouse in Close Encounters; directed by Spielberg (before he lost his nerve), scripted by John Sayles (fresh of The Howling) with alien and butchered cow F/X by Rick Baker (who just landed an Oscar for An American Werewolf in London.)
  • Monty Python alum Terry Jones' version of The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Or how about an Ivan 'Ghostbusters' Reitman version?
  • An adaption of Watchmen directed with the artisic eye and escalating budgets of Terry Gilliam and Ron Silver.
  • A behind the scenes look at what the 1996 version of The Island of Dr. Moreau was intended to be and the complete and total cluster-fuck that it turned into thanks to one of it's tempermental stars -- while another acting legend became so enamored with a casted midget that the script was changed to accomadate this infatuation.
  • The rise and fall and resurrection of Superman Returns from the ashes of a Batman vs. Superman movie.
  • A full-length animated feature adaption of John Carter of Mars -- not the one due out in 2012 from Pixar, but an aborted project under the direction of Looney Tunes legend Bob Clampett that would have beaten Snow White's release by almost five years.
All of that and a whole lot more is detailed in the book. Aborted Star Trek, Alien and Dune scripts, and big name directors who spent a lot of time and studio money on projects that eventually went down in flames (Jim Cameron's Spider-Man, Ridley Scott's I Am Legend). Impeccably researched and written with much wit and a delightful sense of gob-smacked wonder as to what could have been, Hughes' after-action reports are full of first-hand accounts and recollections from the production's front lines -- the countless rewrites, the rotating directors, revolving producers, disappearing finances, and the dreaded rear-admiral known as the 'turnaround,' making it a lively read and a breeze to digest. This was one of the quickest 350+ page reads that I can ever recall, and I didn't want it to end. (Which is why Hughes' similarly themed Tales from Development Hell just went in my Amazon shopping cart.)

However, once all the evidence is digested, it's about a 70/30 split-reaction on all these aborted productions, in that in most instances there's a sense of relief that things fell apart (-- egad, Tim Burton and J.J. Abrams version of Superman would have been awful), while others will make you wail and gnash your teeth as to what might have been -- because, E.T. and Poltergeist be damned, Night Skies would've been awesome!

The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies NEVER Made :: Medium: Pulp / Reference :: Author: David Hughes :: Release Date: 2001 :: Revised Edition: 2008

Sunday, February 8, 2009

So long, Sgt. Kinnie.

May the sun always shine on you, Sarge,
wherever you may roam.

James Whitmore

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Movie Poster Spotlight :: The Green Slime

The Green Slime a/k/a Gamma sango uchu daisakusen (MGM-Toei / 1968) :: A completely bat-shit insane mash-up of martini-fueled space-age swank and optimism versus rubber-suited monster mayhem, this Trans-Pacific collaborative tale of an Earth-Orbiter facing total annihilation after being infested and overrun by the title menace really, really, really needs a legitimate DVD release, like, yesterday.

One Sheet ::

One Sheet (With Snipe) ::

Insert ::

Half Sheet ::

Lobby Cards ::

And yes; it has a kickin' theme song ::

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