Captain Eo – watch online for free

Anybody remember CAPTAIN EO? I do, because I covered the event’s debut at Disneyland, for Cinefantastique magazine back in 1986. The science fiction short subject starred Michael Jackson as the titular space hero, confronting Anjelica Huston in a wicked Giger-esque makeup as the Supreme Leader. Francis Ford Coppola directed for his friend, executive producer George Lucas. If you have never seen CAPTAIN EO, the reason is that the film  screened in “4D” at Disney theme parks (meaning that, in addition to 3D photography, the attraction featured live, in-theatre effects, such as fog to simulate the smoke from explosions). It ran for about ten years, then made a comeback after Michael Jackson’s death, but it’s never been easily available anywhere outside of Disneyland and Disneyworld.
Fortunately, you can now watch in online for free, courtesy of YouTube. The impact is considerably diminished by the absence of 3D (the asteroid, which seems to linger pointlessly on screen in the opening shot, was pretty cool when it seemed to float out of the screen to a point about an arm’s length in front of your nose). Jackson is an awkward actor at best, but needless to say he shines when he begins to sing and dance. All in all, this is a curio, not a masterpiece. Enjoy!
See a larger version of the video below.

Public Domain Panic II: Haxan; Dementia 13; Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning: The Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast – 3:24

Try It Once More, But This Time by Consigning Your Soul to the Eternal Fires of Hell: Director Benjamin Chrstensen casts himself as ol' Scratch in HAXAN.
Try It Once More, But This Time by Consigning Your Soul to the Eternal Fires of Hell: Director Benjamin Christensen casts himself as ol' Scratch in HAXAN.

The director is Satan! (So what else is new?) A family member is nuts! (Happens in the best of ’em.) Captain Kirk’s an a-hole! (Yeah, well, George Takei knew this way ahead of you.) That can only mean one thing: It’s “Public Domain Panic II,” the newest installment of our newest fill-in series, in which the Cinefantastique Online gang discuss films that have lapsed into (or in some case, have been deliberately placed in) the public domain, and are readily available via such outlets as low-priced DVD sets, Pub-d-Hub, and This time around, Steve Biodrowski offers up the mind-blowing Danish silent horror documentary HAXAN; Lawrence French highlights Francis Ford Coppola’s visually stylish PSYCHO knock-off, DEMENTIA 13; and Dan Persons chips in with the ambitious Finnish STAR TREK fan send-up, STAR WRECK: IN THE PIRKINNING.
Then, Dan relates his experience trying to watch the new horror film THE TORTURED, and also gives a capsule review of the home-vid post-apocalyptic satire, THE FP. Also: What’s coming to theaters next week.


Public Domain Pandemonium I: Lady Frankenstein; The Terror; Sita Sings the Blues – CFQ Spotlight Podcast 3:8

Free at Last, Free at Last: From left to right: SITA SINGS THE BLUES; LADY FRANKENSTEIN; and THE TERROR
Free at Last, Free at Last: From left to right: SITA SINGS THE BLUES; LADY FRANKENSTEIN; and THE TERROR

The universe of the genre film is filled with many strange and wonderful things: heroes; demons, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion (oh, Roy Batty, we miss you). But nothing is so strange or, at times, wonderful as the sight of movies that, by accident or design, have fallen out of copyright and are now subject to the random winds of distribution. They’re copied and recopied, cut and redubbed, posted in versions of varying quality on YouTube, all quite legally and for absolutely no money.

In other words: You ever wonder from whence came those films on that 1000 SCI-FI CLASSICS! DVD set that you bought on Amazon for $2.99 in order to bring your $22.01 order up to the $25 needed for free shipping? Now you know.

So, in the absence of a new theatrical release this week, we here at the Cinefantastique Spotlight are debuting our first “Public Domain Pandemonium,” where each of us offers for discussion a movie readily available on the web and elsewhere. Steve Biodrowski gives us his take on giddily nude horror film LADY FRANKENSTEIN; Lawrence French talks about Roger Corman’s let’s-burn-off-Karloff’s-contract-and-these-two-remaining-days-we-have-on-the-castle-set “classic,” THE TERROR; and Dan Persons talks about the unusual, Creative Commons animated musical-fantasy, SITA SINGS THE BLUES. A trio of fun films, all available by clicking the links above. And all for free! Ya cheapskate.


William Campbell, R.I.P

William Campbell as Trelane, STAR TREK

Actor William Campbell, perhaps best known for his roles on the original STAR TREK, passed away April 28th, 2011. He was 87.
Essentially a character actor, Campbell did play leads from time to time. One of his most notable parts was the starring role in the 1955 Columbia film CELL 2455 DEATH ROW. In it, Campbell won praise for his performance as death row prisoner Whit Whittier. a character based on the real-life Caryl Wittier Chessman, the  alleged “Red Light Bandit” who became an author and cause celebre’ by insistently proclaiming his innocence and repeatedly appealing his case, as his own legal representative. Eventually, he was executed by the state of California.
W_CAMPBELL_DEATH ROWInstead of being boosted to stardom, the film seemed to subject William Campbell to a kind of typecasting that limited him to supporting roles. often as a street-smart tough guy.
He was featured in LOVE ME TENDER as one of the train-robbing post Civil War Reno brothers, singing onscreen with first-timer Elvis Presley.
Playing a race car driver in Roger Corman’s THE YOUNG RACERS (1963) led to a role in   Francis Ford Coppola’s DEMENTIA 13. 
(Interestingly, THE YOUNG RACERS was written by Robert Campbell, William Campbell’s brother and CELL 2455 co-star.)
Also filmed in `63 was an art heist film named OPERATION TITIAN (aka Operacija Ticijan), shot in Yugoslavia, the beginning of a strange filmic saga.  Unreleased in its original form, it made it to television in heavily re-edited form as PORTRAIT OF TERROR.
But this was not the end of it, as Roger Corman had new sequences filmed over the  next three years in Venice, California by director Jack Hill (SPIDER BABY) and Stephanie Rothman (THE VELVET VAMPIRE). This became TRACK OF THE VAMPIRE (aka BLOOD BATH, 1966), in which Campbell’s tormented artist character transforms by night into another actor for his vampiric escapades.
 What most genre fans remember William Campbell for are his roles on STAR TREK, In the first season (1966) he portrayed the juvenile but powerful Trelane in STAR TREK’s The Squire of Gothos. It took some persuading to cast the “tough guy” actor as the alien who has chosen the role of a foppish 18th Century gentleman, but Campbell proved more than equal to the task. 
In the second season “comic” episode The Trouble with Tribbles, he played the clever and supercilious Klingon Captain Koloth. The producers, including creator Gene Roddenberry. enjoyed his performance, and reportedly the character might have recurred in the third season, if Roddenberry had remained the active producer.
The character of Koloth appeared on the animated `70’s STAR TREK series, but Campbell did not perform the voice. The Mego “Klingon” action figure was based on the cartoon’s Koloth, so in a way William Campbell became the standard public imaga of a Klingon, until the advent of STAR TREK: THE MONTION PICTURE, and subsequent films and series.
W_CAMPELL_DS9In 1994, Campbell finally reprised the role of Koloth in the DEEP SPACE NINE episode Blood Oath, which allowed the aged Klingon  warrior to go out in one final battle.  
Other genre roles include THE WILD, WILD WEST (1966), SHAZAM! (1976), THE NEXT STEP BEYOND (1978), THE RETURN OF THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN AND THE BIONIC WOMAN (1987) and KUNG FU: The Legend Continues (1996)