Thursday, October 30, 2008
One of the great things about flipping through an old magazine is the feeling you get as if you have just had the opportunity to open up a time capsule. I love to collect magazines and have amassed a very large and eclectic collection over the years. Today we get to open up a mini time capsule from October 1993 with a Halloween issue of Disney Adventures Magazine.
One of the cool things about this issue is that pretty much all the content inside has been presented in the anaglyph 3D format. Even the ads for products such as toys and cereal are presented in 3D. For maximum enjoyment the magazine came with a pair of red/blue glasses in order to help the kids view the 3D images.
Another great thing about this issue is a story on "Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas" with images in 3D. This was probably one of the earliest articles written on the film since the film was released just in time for that year's Halloween season. Surprisingly the 3D works well enough in all these images, but "The Nightmare Before Christmas" images remind me of how far film technology has come in the last decade. I've been able to see the film in Digital 3D at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles and the feeling you get with the Real D - 3D Format employed in those presentations blows away every other 3D format by a long shot.
I have always loved 3D imagery and back in '93 this issue was a big treat.
Other highlights include a comic book featuring the characters from the Disney Afternoon animated show "Bonkers" and an article titled "Moon Walkers" about the first men to walk on the moon both presented in 3D.
Before we wrap it up here's a look at two more ads included in the magazine.
Big Rex ad in 3D
Skittles ad from rear cover
For more info on "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" in Disney Digital 3D visit the movie's official site.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
As we get closer to Halloween Night many of us will be spending the coming nights revisiting our favorite monster movies. Any child of the 80's can tell you how frustrating it has been that one of our most cherished favorites took so long to make the leap to DVD.
I'm talking about "Monster Squad", a film I will be watching tonight as I'm sure many other fans have been doing this past month thanks to a great two disc set released by Lions Gate last year.
You may be asking yourself how come a cult film with such a big following took so long to finally make it onto DVD, especially when every month we are bombarded with DVD releases of every piece of crap horror or sci-fi film ever made. Thanks to a bit of research and a great article in this month's issue of Horror Hound magazine I can go ahead and share the answer with all you monster fans out there.
Back in 1986 two independent film production companies (Taft Entertainment, and Keith Barish Productions) took a risk on green lighting a script for a modest kid monster movie by writer Fred Dekker. These two companies had collaborated before on a string of films that were distributed theatrically by Tri-Star Pictures ("Running Man", "Light of Day", and "Ironweed"). Of these films only "Running Man" made any profit, and a modest one at best.
When "Monster Squad" got the greenlight to go into production Tri-Star once again stepped in to pick up the theatrical distribution rights, but Home Video rights were licensed by Taft Entertainment to Vestron Video. If Tri-Star had gotten all the rights to the film we would've seen a DVD fairly early on since Tri-Star went on to become Columbia-Tri Star Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures who releases films on DVD and Blu-ray by the truckloads every month.
Unfortunately Tri-Star had nothing to do with the film after its original theatrical run and it was up to Vestron to handle the home video distribution.
Their VHS released was priced for rental at 90 dollars a copy and they never re-released it priced to own. What they did do was license it out to Image Entertainment for Laserdisc release in the late 80s.
In 1991 Vestron Video filed for bankruptcy. An event that that forced "Monster Squad" to float around in movie limbo for 16 years. After Vestron's bankruptcy the rights to its film library were picked up by Live Entertainment whose rights to the Taft / Barish film's expired in 1997 before they could plan a home video release for the film.
At that point the rights to the film would've reverted to Taft Entertainment, the only problem was that company didn't exist anymore either.
Before folding the company had turned over all its assets to Spelling Entertainment, a company that had recently also aquired the Republic Films catalog, so now the film had another owner.
Spelling quickly consolidated all its new assets under the Republic Banner.
In 1999 during the beginning of the DVD era Spelling Entertainment was purchased by Viacom (owners at the time of Paramount Pictures), but instead on focusing on releasing Monster Squad on DVD they turned their attention to releasing more recent films such as "Thinner".
In 2005 a ray of hope appeared when fans began to notice an HD broadcast of "Monster Squad" with the Paramount logo at the beginning on the Monsters HD cable channel. Not seeing much value in the film other than in cable broadcasts Paramount / Viacom opted not to bother with a DVD release. Fortunately in late 2006 Lions Gate managed to negotiate a deal with Viacom to relicense some of the Republic Films they had acquired through the purchase of Spelling's assets. Finally "Monster Squad" found a home at a company that valued cult films and understood the potential for a successful DVD release.
Less than a year later we got treated to the 20th Anniversary 2 disc Special Edition of the film courtesy of Lions Gate. There you have it. How many times do we wonder how come our favorite cult flick from the past hasn't made it onto the newest home viewing format. The "Monster Squad" example will hopefully shed some light on this mystery and fortunately after 20 years this monster story did have a happy ending.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Though its not quite as big news as a new Ghostbusters film, (what we fans have really been hoping for so long) the busters are back this month with a new comic book from IDW and a release of The Real Ghostbusters The Complete Series Collection from Time Life Video.
In the new book titled "Ghostbusters: The Other Side" the team captures a gang of ghosts comprised of the spirits of some of America’s most legendary gangsters. Doesn't really sound too exciting a tale and unfortunately the last comic book series based on the Ghostbusters was a major dissapointment. We'll have to wait and see about this one since it will be published as a miniseries so we won't get to judge the entire storyline for a couple more months.
Also available later this month is a Ghostbusters Manga One-Shot from Tokyo Pop featuring six different stories in 192 pages.
Unfortunately the highly anticipated Ghostbusters video game written by Dan Aykroyd and featuring all the original cast members has been pushed to summer 2009 due to publisher Sierra Entertainment's decision to drop the game. Fortunately Atari has come in to pick up the rights and will have it in stores next year.
Here's a look at the game's trailer.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
This month's issue of Rue Morgue Magazine is celebrating 50 years of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine with a big tribute to "Uncle Forry Ackerman" -- the man responsible for the magazine's success as well as for inspiring a whole generation of monster kids who went on to become Hollywood's top fantasy and Horror filmmakers
As many of you know "Uncle Forry" turned his passion for science fiction and horror into a career that helped fans of these genres all over the world unite in celebrating their passion.
He coined the term "sci-fi" and propelled fandom into a multi-million dollar business.
But most importantly "Uncle Forry" never grew up and in doing so has inspired fans of the fantastic to do the same and follow their dreams.
Rue Morgue's special tribute features an insightful interview with "Uncle Forry" as well as tributes from some of the Monster Kids he inspired including John Landis, Joe Dante, Rob Bottin, and even Gene Simmons of KISS.
You'll get to hear "Forry" retell the stories about the early days of fandom including the tale of his cross country tour during the early days of the magazine when he ended up personally visiting thousands of young readers and their friends all over the U.S. Great pictures accompany the entire interview like an image of a group of youngsters with homemade signs awaiting a visit from "Uncle Forry" and his wife back in 1964 during "Forry's" 8700 mile road trip to that year's World Fantasy Convention.
If you love horror and sci-fi and are actively involved in fandom you probably have "Uncle Forry" to thank for that, so go pick up your copy of Rue Morgue magazine and help pay tribute to our beloved "Ackermonster".
Saturday, October 18, 2008
One of the yearly traditions at Lucasfilm and all its related companies is the big Halloween party thrown by ILM and its staffers. Every year the artists at ILM create a unique card for the event featuring original art. This year's card is an homage to the old horror pulp paperback novels.
The official Star Wars site has an exclusive look at the making of this yearly tradition.
Head on over there for more. Here's a look at some of the other invites from previous years:
Thursday, October 16, 2008
One of the most incisive documentaries about our modern day Halloween traditions is now available on DVD as a two disc set packed with so many bonus features it will blow you away.
The documentary was produced in the late 90s and is hosted by character actor and monster fan Daniel Roebuck. The co-hosting duties are fulfilled by longtime fan and monster memorabilia collector Bob Burns, who has one of the most astonishing collections of movie props in the world stored in his basement. This guy actually has the full sized Alien queen from Aliens among his prized possessions and you may have seen him do interviews for multiple DVD special features like the Alien Quadrilogy box set where he shows off many of the pieces he received from FOX after production was completed on the James Cameron film.
Burns was also well know in Hollywood for his yearly Halloween events where he'd turn his house into a Halloween extravaganza recreating scenes from multiple horror and Sci Fi movies like Alien, The Time Machine, and The Thing from Another World.
The Documentary gives us a look at Burns yearly events as well as other Halloween attractions such as Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights precursor The Chamber of Chills, and the longest running Halloween attraction in the U.S., Connecticut's The Witch's Dungeon.
One of the best segments in the documentary is an in depth look at the history of Don Post Studios, the long running company that has been supplying fans with high end masks and accessories from their favorite horror and sci-fi flicks for decades.
This DVD set is an essential for any Halloween lover or classic monster movie fan. If you haven't seen it I suggest you order a copy before the end of this Halloween season. Its a fun watch and the amount of bonus material on the second disc feels like a follow up documentary. I'm not kidding there is a lot of stuff to go through on these two discs.
The DVD is available from amazon or directly from the filmmakers.
If you want to see more of Bob Burns collection I also suggest picking up a copy of his book "It Came from Bob's basement" which features a very detailed rundown of some of the items Burns has been able to obtain over the years as a monster movie memorabilia collector. The book was published back in 2001 by Chronicle books and can still be obtained used through multiple sellers on the web. I will be doing a full review of the book in a future post.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
If you love Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang as much as I do then it's safe to say that you have a special place in your heart for the many television specials produced by Charles Schultz, Lee Mendelson, and Bill Melendez during their almost 40 year collaboration.
"It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is one of my favorites and an essential for this season.
Imagine how excited I was during a recent visit to Barnes and Nobles when I found an entire table at the front of the store devoted to the grand daddy of all animated Halloween Specials.
To celebrate the season Barnes and Nobles has stocked multiple copies of the book based on the special, including a hardcover version with stickers you can use to complete each scene as well as a soft cover version with different art and bonus stickers featuring the Peanuts gang straight out of some of the greatest moments from the book.
Also available are some collectibles exclusive to Barnes and Nobles including two different pumpkin shaped puzzles, a Yahtzee game in a pretty cool tube packaging, and a set of two playing card decks in a collectible tin.
All these items feature the Peanuts gang as seen in the Halloween special. Head on over to your local Barnes and Nobles to grab any of these and stay tuned for our upcoming in depth article on the making of "It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown".
Saturday, October 11, 2008
One of the greatest Halloween specials in television history, The Halloween Tree was produced in the early 90's by Hannah Barbera and written by the great Ray Bradbury.
The teleplay, which won Mr. Bradbury an Emmy award is based on his 1972 book of the same name. The story is about a group of kids who love Halloween and look forward to it as the most important night of the year. When one of them is in danger they go on a journey to save him which ultimately leads them to discovering the true origins of the Halloween tradition.
The special features Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Mr. Moundshroud, the mysterious figure who guides the kids on their journey. Bradbury also serves as the show's narrator. The Halloween Tree also features a very impressive score by John Debney.
Turner Home Entertainment released a VHS of the special in the mid 90's, but it has been out of print for a very long time and its never made its way onto DVD. If you are lucky enough to find a copy of this anywhere I strongly suggest you don't pass up the chance to see one of the most imaginative works inspired by the Halloween season.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
This post may be a bit of an exercise in self torture since I will be talking about a collection of items I can't get by taking a stroll down my local Target's Halloween aisle or placing an order from amazon.com. In fact this glorious collection of monster themed Legos has been discontinued for about five years now.
Back in the summer of 2000 Lego started releasing a line of sets under the Lego Studios brand. These sets included many film inspired accessories and characters such as mini lego film cameras, studio lights, camera cranes, and dollies, along with mini figures of a film director and his crew. The first release was the Steven Spielberg Moviemaker set which included a digital still camera and all the software needed to create your own short stop motion animated films. The set also included a backdrop, street, and accessories such as a dinosaur and car in order for you to recreate such Spielberg moments as the dino chase through San Diego from The Lost World.
Subsequent releases included multiple film related sets such as a stuntman catapult, a collapsing building and movie specific collections such as their Jurassic Park 3 and Spiderman sets which allowed you to recreate specific moments from each of these films.
One of the coolest things to come out from Lego Studios' future releases was a classic monsters inspired collection featuring such characters as Dracula, The Mummy, and The Wolfman given the Lego makeover. These sets were released two years into the Lego Studios line back in 2002. When they first came out I remembered being blown away by how cool and detailed these sets looked in the Lego Shop mail order catalog. I considered placing an order but figured I'd wait and order them later. A full set would run you close to 200 dollars if you ordered them all at the same time.
Soon after they stopped appearing in the Lego catalogs and you couldn't find them anywhere else. Toys R Us kept stocking the Spiderman and Jurassic lines, but the monster line dissapeared way too quickly. The sets had everything a monster movie fan would want.
The lab is one of the most detailed sets I've seen from Lego in years. The mini figures looked amazing as well. I really thought the monster line would continue, but after Lego dropped their Lego Studios brand in 2004 they stopped releasing any more Monsters inspired sets.
These sets do show up on Ebay from time to time but they tend to go for double the ammount they could be purchased for just a few years ago. Here's a cool video creation found online featuring the Lego Studios Monsters gang:
Saturday, October 4, 2008
For those who think the days of the Horror Hosts are long gone then think again.
Although the changes in network and cable television over the years have done away with the late night tradition of scream queens and horror hosts presenting monster movies until the wee hours of the night there are still plenty of these entertainers to be found in alternative mediums such as the internet.
One of them is Count Gore De Vol with his weekly web program creature feature.
Count Gore was a staple of late night television during the 70s and 80s with his show originating from Washington DC's WDCA. The show featured genre guests such as Uncle Forry Ackerman, but what made it even more off beat was Count Gore's regular inclusion of Penthouse pets as guests. The pets would also take part in some skits during the 70s period.
The Count has some fun with one of his "pets".
The great Forry Ackerman visits the dungeon.
In 1998 the Count became the first horror host to take his program to the world wide web, where it can still be seen with new installments every week. The Count has been going at it for over 35 years with a great sense of fun. I first saw the count at the Balticon Sci-Fi / Horror Convention in Baltimore where he served as emcee and I've been a fan of him since. If you've never watched his show head on over to his domain and enjoy some good old monster fun just like in the old days.