Martin Landau: The CFQ Interview

Martin Landau (right) teams up with Johnny Depp and won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in ED WOOD.
Martin Landau (right) teams up with Johnny Depp and won an Oscar for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in ED WOOD.

Every now and then, we pause in awe of the people we’ve had the opportunity to spend time with. Doug Trumbull, John Kricfalusi, and Paul Verhoeven in earlier years, Armin Shimerman and Frank Oz more recently — now it’s Martin Landau’s turn, and we couldn’t be happier.
In an extended and wide-ranging interview, we got a chance to discuss the length and breadth of Martin’s career. In the course of talking about his roles in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, and his Oscar-winning portrayal of Bela Lugois in ED WOOD — and much, much more — Martin provides insights on the art of acting, shares anecdotes from the set, and talks about the sometimes seamy politics that drive the film industry. It is, all told, a fascinating exploration of the life of an actor — click on the player to hear the show.

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FRANKENWEENIE: CFQ Spotlight Podcast 3:40

A young scientist (voiced by Charlie Tahan) defies the laws of God and man in FRANKENWEENIE.
A young scientist (voiced by Charlie Tahan) defies the laws of God and man in FRANKENWEENIE.

FRANKENWEENIE is about resurrections in more ways than one. While the 3D, stop-motion animated tale, in glorious black and white, centers on a young Victor Frankenstein (here a (relatively) normal suburban kid rather than a deluded doctor) jolting his beloved dog Sparky back to life after a tragic car accident, with serious repercussions when his classmates get in on the revivification business themselves, for director Tim Burton, it’s also an opportunity to dip into his past, adapting the story from an early, live-action short, and bringing in many key players from earlier Burton films to contribute as voice performers. Whether the expansion to feature length and the addition of 3D goggles justify the nostalgia trip is something that Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons discuss at length in this week’s review (as well as pledging their eternal devotion to that most hallowed of cinema traditions, the monster rampage).
Then, Larry talks about a new, stop-motion exhibit at the Disney Museum, Steve surveys what’s new in L.A.’s  Halloween haunts this year, and Dan runs down what’s coming to theaters next week.
Click on the player to hear the show.

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Frankenweenie in theatres October 5

Walt Disney Pictures releases this stop-motion family-friendly horror-fantasy from the Tim Burton Animation Company. Based on Burton’s 1984 live-action short subject, FRANKENWEENIE tells the story of a young boy who brings his beloved pet Sparky back to life after a car accident. When the neighbors find out, they fear that the resurrected pooch is a zombie dog from hell. However, it turns out there may be scarier creatures afoot than Sparky…
Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by John August,from a story by Burton & Leonard Ripps, based on Burton’s characters. Voices: Martin Landau, Christopher Lee, Martin Short, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder.
Theatrical Release date: October 5, 2012.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – CFQ Spotlight Podcast 3:25

Anthony Mackie as Will Johnson and Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln - ready to confront vampires atop a train
Anthony Mackie as Will Johnson and Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln - ready to confront vampires atop a train

History meets horror; slavery meets vampirism; and a great American president meets the undead in this episode of the Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast – the Podcast with a Sense of Wonder, bringing you the best in horror, fantasy, and science fiction films. Special guest Andrea Lipinski (of Be a Better Book Talker) joins CFQ managing editor Steve Biodrowski to discuss ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, the big-screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel, directed by Timur Bekmambetov (NIGHTWATCH) and produced by Tim Burton (DARK SHADOWS).
The title is high-concept with a vengeance, but what about the film that comes with it? Listen in, and find out whether a single, deliberately absurd idea can stretch to feature length, or should the whole project have been condensed to a fake trailer or a five-minute Saturday Night Live sketch? And does historical credibility matter in the midst of slo-mo vampire battles with CGI blood flying off the screen in 3D?

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Dark Shadows: The Cinefantastique Spotlight Podcast – 3:19

The Fangs are Almost as Big as the Lapels: An undead Johnny Depp braves the ravages of the 70's in DARK SHADOWS.
The Fangs are Almost as Big as the Lapels: An undead Johnny Depp braves the ravages of the 70's in DARK SHADOWS.

Two hundred years is a long time to revive a vampire, but then again, forty years is long time to revive the first horror soap opera (not counting an earlier, feature adaptation and a TV revival in the ’90s). In Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is cursed into vampirehood by spurned lover Angelique (Eva Green) in the 18th century and is buried alive (undead?) to await his unearthing in the 1970’s. What he finds is the family fishing empire in ruins, the occupants of stately Collinswood manor — including Michelle Pfeiffer as matriarch, Helena Bonham Carter as a drunk doctor, Jackie Earle Haley as a drunker handyman, and Bella Heathcote as a nanny who bears a striking resemblance to Barnabas’ lost love Josette — devolved into feckless dissolution, and Carpenters music everywhere.
Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons have seen the film, and sit down to discuss whether Burton’s more comedic take on DARK SHADOWS’ melodramatics are worth the trip back to the Me Decade. Also in this show: What’s coming to theaters.

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'Dark Shadows' Takes Flight

Here’s the premise of the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version of DARK SHADOWS,  according to Warner Brother’s press release.  JohnnyDepp_SHOLLOW

“In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet–or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine.
The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.
Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
Also residing in the manor is Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gulliver McGrath). The mystery extends beyond the family, to caretaker Willie Loomis, played by Jackie Earle Haley, and David’s new nanny, Victoria Winters, played by Bella Heathcote.”

Looks like the film is play around with the time frame. On the Dan Curtis-produced TV series, Barnabas becomes a vampire around 1795-97 (both years mentioned, possibly a continuity error) and is released in then contemporary time (circa 1967).  I’d have preferred the “modern-day” scenes in the new film to be  set present-day, but I suppose an early-`70’s flavor could add to the charm of the piece.
Also, in the original soap opera Barnabas Collins might have been a somewhat feckless lover, but hardly a playboy. He was a pretty serious-minded, brooding and passionate man. Could they be going for a bit of that “Captain Jack Sparrow 18th Century rake” vibe?

Young Barnabas Cast for 'Dark Shadows'

Thomas McDonnelAccording to The Hollywood Reporter,  Thomas McDonell (THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM) has been cast as a younger version of Barnabas Collins in the Tim Buton/Johnny Depp DARK SHADOWS.
Depp is playing the mature Barnabas, cursed as a vampire by the witch Angelique (Eva Green, CASINO ROYALE), in the feature film based of the 1960’s Dan Curtis gothic soap opera.
Michelle Pfeiffer has been cast as matriach Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Bella Heathcote as governess Victoria Winters, and WATHCMEN’S Jackie Earle Haley as the coniving caretaker Willie Loomis.
With a screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Warner Brothers intend for filming to get underway in April.
McDonnell certainly looks a good deal like a younger Johnny Depp, though it’s unknown how extensive the part might be. If I recall correctly, young Barnabas and servant girl Angelique Bouchard had a fling in Martinique, and she became obessed with the wealthyAmerican.

Michelle Pfeiffer for 'Dark Shadows'?

MichellePfeiffer_PortAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, Michelle Pfeiffer (BATMAN RETURNS) is in negotiations to join the cast of DARK SHADOWS, the Tim Burton / Johnny Depp feature film version of the 60’s Gothic supernatural soap opera. 
Michelle Pfeiffer’s role would be that of  Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the matriarch of the Collins family,  which runs the major industries of  Collinsport, a secluded town on coast of Maine.
In the series, Elizabeth Stoddard (played by film star Joan Bennet) had become relcusive, rarely leaving  Collinswood, the family’s mansion, since the mysterious disappearance of her husband, Paul Stoddard.  
In the 1990’s NBC prime time revival, Jean Simmons played the role.
If Michelle Pfieffer signs, this would be the first time she and Tim Burton have worked together since she played Catwoman in the above mentioned BATMAN RETURNS (1992).
Already in the cast are Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, the melancholy vampire who returns from his 18th Century crypt to pose as his own decesendent.  He’s released by Willie Loomis, to be played by WATCHMEN’s Jackie Earle Haley.     
Australian actreess Bella Heathcoate is set to play Victoria Winters, a young woman with an unexplained tie to the Collins family, who becomes a focus of Barnabas Collin’s attention. However, there’s another woman in the equation, the witch who cursed Barnabas witch vampirism, Angelique DuPre. Eva Green (CASINO ROYALE) will be playing that role.

Joan Bennett, Jonathan Frid in period dress
Joan Bennett, Jonathan Frid in period dress

Sounds like a nice cast is being assembled for the project, which is being fueled in part by Johhny Depp’s long-time desire to play the tragic/heroic Barnabas, ever since seeing Johnathan Frid’s theatrical performance on the 60’s ABC series.  
DARK SHADOWS was created by Dan Curtis (with Art Wallace, Malcom Mammorstein, Sam Hall, and other writers contributing greatly). Dan Curtis made two 1970’s film with the daytime drama’s cast members, and produced the NBC/MGM Televison revival.

The new film is being made by Warner Brothers, which previously tried to relaunch the property as a new TV series for the WB Network.
The pilot for the rejected show has never been aired.

'Lone Ranger' Director Signs On

johnny_depp_piratesDeadline.com annouced that Gore Verbinski (PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN) has signed on to direct Disney’s THE LONE RANGER.
This will re-unite him with PIRATES star Johnny Depp, who also provides the voice of the starring lizard in Verbinski’s animated film RANGO. Depp, of Native American heritage, is set to play the Ranger’s trusted friend & partner, Tonto.
No start date or title character casting news has been announced as yet. Depp’s next project to go before the lens is likely DARK SHADOWS, with Tim Burton (SLEEPY HOLLOW).