Saturday, December 04, 2010
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Another interesting cartoon is this silent short subject.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
|Mrs. M... aka Death|
|Nico has a talk with God.|
|Hoping for a soundtrack CD|
|Tracking the Alien|
Director: Iyari Wertta
Producer: Issa Guerra
Exec Producers: Henner Hoffman, Liliana Pardo
Scriptwriter: Iyari Wertta
Editors: Luciana Jauffred, Francisco Rivera, Yoame Escamilla
DoP: Christian Rivera
Production Designer: Alejandro García
Sound Production: Marco A Hernández, Iyari Wertta, Izabel Acvedo
Music: Iyari Wertta
Cast: Enrique Arreola, Laura de Ita, Dolores Heredia, Ely Guerra, Mario Almanda, Fernando Cianguerotti, Mariana Gajá, Daniela Schmidt, Mariús Biengai, Arnulfo Reyes
Thursday, November 04, 2010
THE TRAIL OF THE OCTOPUS (not to be confused with the book by Goddard & Coleman) is a serial from 1919 consisting of 14 episodes totaling 7 hours. From the Serial Squadron's page the story goes:
Dr. Reid Stanhope, a noted scientist, and Raoul Bornay, a Frenchman of questionable standing, set out upon an expedition to explore the mysteries of ancient Egypt. With their caravan of natives and camels, they pierce the very heart of the great Sahara Desert in their search for the Temple of Death and the sacred Talisman of Set, both considered mythological by everyone except Dr. Stanhope.
After weeks of searching they discover a sarcophagus upon which hieroglyphics read: “He that toucheth or taketh away the Sacred Talisman of Set will bathe his hands in human blood.” Reaching inside the sarcophagus, Stanhope takes out the Sacred Talisman which is also known as the Devil's Trademark – the cloven hoof of Satan.
From the moment the Talisman is released, murder and destruction run rampant. Stanhope is forced to kill Bornay when attacked by him and Bornay's final words are “Don't think you killed a friend – they sent me to get you and the Talisman.” Who “they” are provides the foundation for the story of the rest of the serial, which takes place after Stanhope returned to civilization.
When we pick up the story from there, we see Stanhope telling his niece Ruth he has never had a moment's peace since he hid the Devil's Trademark in a rock vault – he's been haunted by the sudden mysterious appearance of a pair of uncanny looking eyes. While Dr. Stanhope tells the story, a thunderstorm arises and the “eyes” appear outside. He tells Ruth she must get rid of the Talisman as it endangers her life. He takes a dagger from a drawer and says, “Eight other daggers like this are in the hands of eight fellow scientists for safe-keeping. You must have all of them to get the combination of the rock vault, in which is hidden the sacred Talisman.”
When Stanhope receives a telephone call from the mysterious masked Monsieur X, who tells him that his friend, Professor Hubbard, one of the scientists, is dead, Ruth runs across the street to call on Carter Holmes, the criminologist, taking the dagger with her.Stanhope's scream in the distance begins a chain of events that leads to the kidnapping of Ruth by a clan of Devil Worshippers headed by a sorceress named Madame Zora, and a three-way battle between Holmes, the Devil-cult, and an Asian mastermind known as the Octopus to possess the Talisman by collecting the remaining daggers and placing them together in a cliffside vault that will reveal its secret.
An extremely atmospheric serial, heavily influenced by aspects of THE MYSTERIES OF MYRA (the Devil-cult with its crystal ball, and characters who disappear into astral form), and anticipating DRUMS OF FU MANCHU in its noir-ish look, THE TRAIL OF THE OCTOPUS changes location and emphasis many times but remains generally in early pulp/detective/horror mode throughout, with more than the occasional element of the paranormal thrown in to kick the mystery up a notch.
Pledging does not require immediate payment, however, your pledge is a promise to pay for your DVD set when the DVDs are ready to go to press and should be considered an "order" to be billed to you. You will be sent an email confirming your pledge which only requires response in case of any error in the message, then, if and when the pledge drive reaches its total, an invoice with a PayPal link which will allow you to pay for your DVD set, or information on how to pay using a check or money order by regular mail.
Along with the visual restoration the Squadron's Eric Stedman has mixed a new sound track including music that is scene relevant along with sound effects for important points of nuance. This in my opinion really adds a layer of watchability and entertainment value to the whole project. You can see and hear the results in a sample posted at the bottom of this entry.
Please do NOT pledge if you do not intend to follow through with your order. But please do pledge if you want to be able to own a cool if not amazing part of movie history. Head to the Serial Squadron and fill out the form at the bottom. Be sure to click in the yellow box on which pledge choice you want to make.
The Squadron has a few ongoing pledge drives for different serials and as of this writing TRAIL is at 48% of its goal.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
There's a great, in depth interview at Comic Book Resources with Cooke talking all about the production of this latest effort. This is the intro which will give you some background and there's a link at the end for the interview.
There is no doubt that Darwyn Cooke and IDW Comics took a bit of a gamble when the decision was made to re-imagine Richard Stark's "Parker" hard-boiled crime thrillers into a series of graphic novels. But man, did that gamble pay off.
IDW released Parker Book 2: "The Outfit" today and CBR News spoke with the critically acclaimed cartoonist about the title character's latest exploits.
Originally conceived by Donald Westlake, under the pseudonym Richard Stark, Parker made his first appearance in "The Hunter" in 1962. The first novel was adapted into three different movies; "Point Blank" starring Lee Marvin, "Full Contact" with Chow Yun-fat and the Mel Gibson vehicle, "Payback." Parker, an anti-heroic criminal, ultimately appeared in 23 novels, including "The Outfit," which was published in 1963.
Cooke told CBR News that while he made some changes to the original story, every one of those types of choices was a difficult one. But he believed if he stayed true to Parker, a now deceased Westlake would certainly approve. Or at the very least, understand. He also revealed details about the remaining books in the series - "The Score" and "Slayground" - and teased a possible major project for DC Comics. And no, it's not a sequel to "DC: New Frontier."
Monday, September 13, 2010
In short, I have to say that the photos are rare and amazing, and if you are into movie history and behind the scenes stuff, this book is priceless. But unfortunately the text is mostly irrelevent fluff with disturbingly little to actually do with the lives of the Lydeckers.
I recommend it based on the power of the photos and the several recollections from people like George Lydecker.
Here is my full review:
The photos in the book are astonishing. I have bookshelves full of books on movie making, special effects and classic movies and serials and maybe 90 percent of the photos in this book I have never seen before. In my opinion, if you are into behind the scenes movie photos, this is a must have book.
Unfortunately the text leaves a lot to be desired. From reading an interview with the author I understand he was under the gun to get the book written in 4 months. This obviously was not enough as the first 150 or so pages are 75 percent irrelevant fluff. Most chapters really have nothing to do with either the family, lives or thoughts of the Lydeckers and rarely are their effects techniques discussed. Only a few stand out moments show the promise of what I was hoping the book could have been in total. There are great descriptions of how the Lydeckers did their flying effects for aircraft, Captain Marvel and the Rocket Men. Unfortunately those types of descriptions about working on production special effects are rare. Just describing an "exciting scene where a flaming stage coach goes over a cliff" doesn't tell the reader anything about the Lydeckers. There's no story behind the glib descriptions.
Typically a chapter covers two serials of which Henderson lists several Lydecker gags. Simply listed mind you, as in "there's a exploding barn, a car crash, a model plane" etc and then the text drifts off talking about random snippets of trivia that literally has nothing whatsoever to do with the subjects featured in the title of the book.
Many times there is a sentence which promises to be the beginning of a nice story about some aspect of the brothers life in the business, but it's just one sentence that even though it begs further exploration there is none. The narrative drifts off into nonsense and tangents about things like Tom Neal's fling with Barbara Payton. That was a low point at which I was debating with myself whether I should try to continue reading. I bought a book about the Lydeckers, not a Hollywood gossip clippings collection.
The last couple of chapters hone in on more material that actually is relevant to Howard and Theodore, but it is too little too late. There are a few reminisces which are lovely, and sprinkled throughout there are some interesting revelations. Particularly the story about visiting the volcano set from FAIR WIND TO JAVA which is still standing and even used as housing for visitors to the remote island it was built on over 50 years ago. So there are certainly worthwhile bits in the books, but I am saddened that they are so few and far between.
Also it bears mentioning though there is a list of article sources, there is no filmography and no index.
Since he was stuck with just 4 months to write it, I would encourage Mr. Henderson to continue his research in earnest on the Lydeckers and find a publisher that will be a pain in his butt making sure he has the time and resources to dig up information pertinent to the subject, has time to be edited and groomed and matured into a serious and truly definitive work on the Lydeckers. An editor who is a true pain in the butt for all the right reasons can help turn a piece of fluff into a masterpiece.
I've waited nearly 20 years for this book, but strangely and sadly feel I'm still waiting.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Building sets outdoors to take advantage of natural lighting and skillfully use forced perspective landscapes and models, they created a lot of truly amazing visual effects. And especially while at Republic, always done on a shoestring budget.
Later in their careers they worked in movies such as Sink the Bismark (1960), Fair Wind to Java (1953) and The Flying Tigers (1942) with John Wayne, which was considered for an Academy Award for best special effects, though the Academy board thought the aerial dogfights the Lydeckers created were purely real, causing some disbelief and uproar.
Eventually they transitioned from film to television productions such as Irwin Allen's Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea.
Well, in this American Cinematographer article on the Lydeckers I got an inkling of what these guys were about. They were hands-on, crafty and tricky artists who created movie magic not on a computer, but out of carpentry. Using wood and nails, chicken wire and paper-maché. But sadly there was scant information beyond this one article about their work. No books, no documentaries and just a passing mention in books about special effects or cliffhanger history. This was something I really lamented because I could so easily visualize the adventure of working on the set with the Lydeckers. I wanted to be able to read more about their moments of triumph and disaster.
Well now it's time to rejoice.
Jan Alan Henderson, who wrote that 1991 article was requested to fill that original piece out into a full fledged book. And it is now out through some mail order venues but primarily through amazon.com for the time being.
As someone who has bookshelves full of eldritch tomes on movie making, special effects, radio, television and cliffhanger histories, I am impressed with the large amount of photos in this book of which 98% I have never seen before. Henderson has a thoughtful and personal angle to the whole narrative and is able to weave a human story into a lot of behind the scenes info.
This book has needed to be made for years and I'm glad that it has finally arrived. You can find THE LEGENDARY LYDECKER BROTHERS at amazon.com.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Enter Eric Stedman, an entrepreneur who dedicates long hours to the restoration and preservation of many cliffhanger movie serials. At The Serial Squadron you can get a taste of the massive amount of work he has put into the genre through his line of restored movie DVDs along with relevant books and audio.
One of Eric's latest projects (one of many ongoing productions) is the novelization of a lost serial from 1916. THE MYSTERIES OF MYRA is a strange brew of action, intrigue, magic, spiritualism, monsters and zombies. As Eric put it "an X-Files of 1916". Unfortunately quite possibly all prints of MYRA were lost in a warehouse fire. At least at this date it is still considered a lost serial. This is truly unfortunate as from the evidence at hand and eloquently shown in this book, MYRA may be one of the most astoundingly put together serials of the silent and talkie era. From the looks of the stills and behind the scenes photos and info, this was a lavish production with impressive sets and intriguing special effects.
The process of this production was a painstaking one, as Eric explains:
Tracy Burton ... took on the job of interpreting fuzzy microfilm versions of the newspaper serializations of the story -- virtually all of which were incomplete, damaged, or otherwise messed up, which means after her pass through it and interpretations she was able to make, it took two other guys (me and Dr. Daka) hours and hours to fill in the missing words and correct errors. Daka discovered ... that there were about 5 different versions of the text, also, which all appeared in different newspapers, with different illustrations.
Along with reconstructing the various newspaper serializations of the story into a coherent novel, Eric delved deeply into researching the production history of MYRA, which is contained in a lengthy introduction and includes many production photos and biographies of cast and crew.
So here we have it; a novel that any pulp writer would dream to write, which is based on a legendary serial that no longer exists, along with a lot of tasty background info and photos. A perfect storm of entertainment for anyone who is into pulps, serials and movie history bound into one handsome tome.
This is the sales blurb for the book, which concisely explains what it's all about:
BEWARE THE BLACK ORDER! So comes the warning from the spirit of Myra Maynard's father, who reaches out to her from beyond the grave to warn her of danger from the masters of the occult arts that lurk in the shadows and mark her for murder on her eighteenth birthday. Only the world's first psychic detective, Dr. Payson Alden, and his friend Haji the Brahman mystic, can save clairvoyant Myra from the terrors of The Grand Master of the Order, who tries to claim not only her fortune but her life by means of suicide-inducing spells, invasion of her chamber by spirit assassins, and even reanimation of the dead by a fire elemental. Originally a fifteen-episode serial shot in Ithaca, New York (before Hollywood became the center of American movie-making) in 1916, painstakingly reconstructed from the original screenplay, novelization, and existing stills. Includes background information, behind-the-scenes photos and cast biographies.
At $25 it is well worth the price of admission and I urge you to head over to the Serial Squadron and pick up a copy.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Though the internet is a global community and many of you dear readers may "get this" already, from an American standpoint Wallace is basically non-existent within pop-culture. Even within U. S. pulp circles he is not a common name to run across. About the only thing where his name is seen regularly in the U. S. is as the author of the novelization of the original 1933 movie King Kong. Which he didn't actually write. But that is a completely different story of which if you want to investigate, you can check it out on wikipedia.
Well back to this ebay seller alert. Recently he had an ad for a newspaper strip called "Inspector Wade, by Edgar Wallace". I recognized the author's name from Kong. Intrigued I looked "Inspector Wade" up. A google search turned up an interesting link which led to a whole bizarre world of which I previously had no knowledge. A German subgenre of crime and mystery movies known as "krimi". Apparently within the krimi genre Edgar Wallace reigned King, with 44 movies adapted from Wallace and his son's books and short stories in a 13 year period. Here are a few krimi movie links for your edification: krimi corner, Cinefear, and Kinwelt has a great listing with descriptions of the 44 Wallace Krimis.
Wallace in fact had a lot more media based on his works. For instance in the UK there was the Edgar Wallace Mysteries; theatrical shorts that eventually were turned into television episodes. For a description and list of "episodes" please check out a great article at Mystery*File.
ITV, the trailblazing "indie" UK television network created a series based on Wallaces most enduring detective J. G. Reeder, about a bookish, nerdy Gent who puts the fear of God into the gangsters and criminal underworld of London. I've checked out several episodes of this show and have found it to be highly enjoyable.
Probably one of the few U. S. adaptations of Wallace to film was the silent 1925 cliffhanger serial THE GREEN ARCHER which later got a talkie serial adaptation in 1940.
Along with the checking out the Edgar Wallace Mysteries series and J. G. Reeder series, I had to investigate these German krimis.
Were these good movies? I had to view some for myself and long story short; not completely, of the ones I sampled, it was about a 40 percent success rate. The unsuccessful entries are overlong and overcomplicated with a focus on immaterial stuff that really has nothing to do with the central plots. Maybe it's something that gets lost in translation but they essentially are beautifully shot, moody and gothic looking Noir and even horror type mysteries that suffer from poor scripts. Some are very good though, two of them being the very first in the series THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG (Der Frosch mit der Maske, 1959) and a few films later the closely related THE INN ON THE RIVER (Das Gasthaus an der Themse, 1962).
THE INN ON THE RIVER is based on an Inspector Wade tale (of the above mentioned comics that originally drew my interest) called THE INDIA RUBBER MEN, described as such:
A classic Wallace, stitching together his favourite themes with enough humour and vigour to keep the reader intrigued till the very end. John Wade is the young Scotland Yard inspector, Lila Smith the beautiful orphan with a mysterious past. There is a a criminal mastermind, a long-standing gang of jewel thieves -- the India-Rubber Men, who wear gasmasks and rubber gloves, and carry gas bombs to stave off pursuit -- and a smattering of Chinese bandits and American mobsters. Through it all runs the Thames, and there is even time for a little excursion out of London to its upper reaches in Oxfordshire. The mixture as before,expertly blended. (description quoted from "Jon" at The Golden Age of Detective Fiction)
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Thursday, June 17, 2010
Three-time British Academy Award nominated director Osbert Parker is perhaps best-known for his signature style of using cut-out animation mixed with live action to create one-of-a-kind imaginary landscapes within commercials and short films.
For the past three years Parker has been experimenting and crafting two short films that are receiving great acclaim on the international film festival circuit. “Film Noir” was nominated for best short animated film by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2006 and also was nominated for the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival that year. "Yours Truly," which received the best short animated film award at this year’s British Animation Awards, was also nominated for a BAFTA in 2008 and selected for Sundance. Both films have been screened at the Telluride Film Festival.
He is currently creating the third short in his “Noir” trilogy and developing a mixed-media feature.
I go back to these clips from YOURS TRULY and FILM NOIR on a regular basis. I think they are rich in texture and depth, being pregnant with many possibilities for story threads.
As an animator who started out in the 70's animating in stop motion, I have a special fondness for the medium and a deep appreciation of artists who utilize it well, such as Mr. Parker does. I do hope that once his third installment is completed that the trilogy will come available on DVD.
Here are the two clips I've probably worn a hole in youtube from over-watching.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010
What garners this current return is the fact that Black Coat Press has just published a rather amazing book called ARSENE LUPIN VS. COUNTESS CAGLIOSTRO. This collects the Cagliostro cycle (the books COUNTESS CAGLIOSTRO and COUNTESS CAGLIOSTRO'S VENGENCE plus the short story The Queen's Necklace). The first book appeared in English in 1925 and has not been reprinted since, while VENGENCE has not previously been translated to English. Both books are new translations, which may be a good thing as the original THE MEMOIRS OF ARSENE LUPIN translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos was not completely faithful and even changed Lupin's original name of Raoul to the terribly mundane "Ralph".
What does this have to do with 813? Not much, but I have never read this story and so thought it'd be great to give it the Pulp Reader treatment while reading the Cagliostro books at home.
813 has had a few media treatments, first appearing in the 1920 American silent movie "813" starring Wedgwood Nowell as Lupin. A Japanese version was filmed in 1923, and later Japanese animation company Tatsunoko filmed an animated version in 1979 called "Kaitō Lupin - 813 no Nazo". Then finally in 1980 an acclaimed French mini-series called "Lupin joue et perd".
As a small aside, once again I want to give a nod to the 2004 movie ARSENE LUPIN. I found it to be highly entertaining with a plot that is maybe too complex for general movie-going American audiences and too effects laden and full of explosions for French audiences. This landed it in a no-man's land where it has suffered a lack of distribution in Region 1 DVD countries. Probably the only way to see it in the states is by finding the DVD on ebay or other secondary marketplaces like that.
One of my favorite type of reviews is one with a lot of historical insight into the subject at hand. As such I'd like to point to the able folks at mysteryfile.com who reviewed the movie several months ago.
Back to 813. As major as this novel is supposed to be, there is not a lot written about it. Therefore I've put up this chronology from Cool French Comics which gives the best rundown of story. It serves as a great hook to get you interested in this story. There are some SPOILERS so you may not want to read beyond the first paragraph if this concerns you.
April-June - The murder of millionaire Rudolf Kesselbach in Paris begins the prodigious affair of "813", Lupin's greatest epic. Kesselbach's secret may lead to the redrawing of the political map of Europe. Lupin's adversary is the mysterious "L.M.", or L de Malreich, a more-than-human, black-clad, merciless killer, whom Lupin refers to as the "Monster" or the "Vampire." L.M. eventually unmasks Lupin who was hiding behind the guise of Lenormand, and arranges for him to be arrested.
July-December - Lupin is thrown in jail, but continues the fight from his cell. He learns that the Kaiser has called upon Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery of "813", but the great detective fails to solve the riddle. In August, the Kaiser arranges for Lupin to be freed. Lupin eventually finds the solution, but is outwitted again by Malreich. (Fairness forces one to acknowledge that Lupin solves the mystery in circumstances that may have given him an edge over Holmes.)
January-April - The "813" saga continues. Back in France, Lupin finally defeats Marcheich. (Or has he?) Devoured by megalomaniacal ambition, he uses his own daughter, Geneviève, to further his plans, against Victoire's wishes. He hopes to marry her to Pierre Leduc, the heir to the Duchy of Deux-Ponts-Valdenz. But Lupin's scheme eventually collapses: instead, Leduc falls in love with Dolores Kesselbach, whom Lupin also loves. Tragedy ensues, resulting in the deaths of both Dolores and Leduc, and the permanent alienation of Genevieve. A thoroughly depressed Lupin fakes his own death and disappears.
Okay, is your appetite whetted? Mine is!