Yogi Bear, Original Tron, & Best Laid Plans: CFQ Post-Mortem Podcast 1:44.1

The Nightmare Lives: An indelible image from YOGI BEAR.
The Nightmare Lives: An indelible image from YOGI BEAR.

So, in the place of a CINEFANTASTIQUE PODCAST in which we discuss our top ten lists for 2010, we give you a CINEFANTASTIQUE POST-MORTEM in which we discuss doing a show in which we discuss our top ten lists for 2010. Who knew a little thing like a holiday weekend was going to interfere with our plans?
Oh, Steve Biodrowski also delivers his verdict on the Surprisingly Not Intolerable YOGI BEAR; and Lawrence French and Dan Persons join him in an evaluation on the original TRON’s retro-future, and on the evocative Japanese horror film, ONIBABA.
Maybe not the Lionel train set you wanted under your tree, but at least it’s not a boxful of underwear. Click on the player to hear the show.

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Cinefantastique Podcast 1:43

narnia_dawn_treader06

For the second week in a row, Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons immerse themselves in a magical, 3D kingdom for this episode of The Cinefantastique Review. This time, though, instead of Disney whimsy, it’s C.S. Lewis faith-tinged adventure, as they join siblings Lucy and Edmund Pevensie (Susan and Peter appear to be away on assignment) and thorn-in-the-side cousin Eustace, plus King Caspian (king!)  for the newest chapter of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. Can the forces of darkness be vanquished by only a pair of Narnia royalty, where four were needed before? Does the film profit or lose by running a half-hour less than its predecessors? And is it any coincidence that Edmund’s greatest fear is a monster whose features resemble a certain female orifice that many teen boys find intimidating? These and many other questions will be discussed in this week’s episode. Plus, the usual round-up of news, events, and home video releases.


We're Getting the Band Back Together: Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson), Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and King Caspian (Ben Barnes) reteam one more time for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER.
We're Getting the Band Back Together: Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson), Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and King Caspian (Ben Barnes) reteam one more time for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER.

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Javier Fuentes-León on UNDERTOW: Fantasy Film Podcast

Torn Between Two Worlds: Ghost lover Manolo Cardona (center of image) and pregnant wife Tatiana Astengo (far right) put the pressure on Cristian Mercado in UNDERTOW.
Torn Between Two Worlds: Ghost lover Manolo Cardona (center of image) and pregnant wife Tatiana Astengo (far right) put the pressure on Cristian Mercado in UNDERTOW.

The triangles just keep getting more complicated, don’t they? In the new Peruvian film, UNDERTOW, fisherman Miguel (Cristian Mercado) is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his child by his wife Mariel (Tatiana Astengo), while at the same time carrying on an affair with his male lover, the artist Santiago (Manolo Cardona). But when Santiago dies in a swimming accident and returns as a ghost who can only be freed when Miguel formally sets him loose, issues of love, identity, and one’s perception within a closely knit community rise to the surface. (Fitting, I guess, for a nautical community.)
Director Javier Fuentes-León is making his feature film debut here, and is employing a healthy dose of magical realism to tell his tale, giving the film as a whole a spare but appealing naturalism and imbuing the love-making sequences with a compelling sensuality. It’s a distinctive and affecting addition to fantasy film.
Click on the player to hear my interview with Javier.

Kill Katie Malone – Supernatural Thriller

kill katie malone artIndependent Production & Distribution Company American World Pictures tells us they have obtained the sales rights to KILL KATIE MALONE, a supernatural thriller.

From their press release:
“KILL KATIE MALONE stars an ensemble cast known for their hit TV shows including: Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), Masiela Lusha (George Lopez Show), Stephen Colleti (One Tree Hill), Lil J (Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven) and Nick Hogan (son of Hulk Hogan, Hogan Knows Best).
The film centers on college students and best friends Ginger Matheson (Masiela Lusha), Jim Duncan (Stephen Colleti), and Kyle “Dixie” Canning (Lil J), who pool their cash to buy a “ghost” in an online auction. The three think it’s all a goof, but once they open up the antique box to examine their “treasure,” they unleash the vengeful spirit of a young girl who has been wreaking havoc on her owners throughout the generations.”

Directed by newcomer Carlos Ramos Jr., who co-wrote with Mark Onspaugh (FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD), KILL KATIE MALONE will be shopped at at MIPCOM and AFM.

Gaspar Noé on ENTER THE VOID: Fantasy Podcast Interview

I Sing the Afterlife Electric: A trippy moment from ENTER THE VOID.
I Sing the Afterlife Electric: A trippy moment from ENTER THE VOID.

Kinda sorry I’m going to see LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS in IMAX 3D this weekend, and not Gaspar Noé’s new film, ENTER THE VOID. This is the movie that could benefit from the full, immersive, 3D treatment: a swirling, gliding, electric voyage into life and death, with sex, drugs, and a dynamically surreal Tokyo thrown in for good measure.
That all this is conveyed through the viewpoint of a mere blip on the universe’s map — a low-level drug dealer, Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), who comes a-cropper of a botched drug bust and ends up on the wrong end of a cop’s gun — lends what follows no little ironic impact. As he lays bleeding on a lavatory floor, the camera takes the vantage point of Oscar’s soul as it rises, experiencing the transition to the next world in a manner that closely resembles The Tibetan Book of the Dead. In a sinuous, seamless camera track, we see Oscar’s life — particularly the bond he has with sister (Paz de la Huerta) — played out as grand, psychedelic pageant. The experience is mesmerizing and surprisingly poignant — certainly one of the most intense and seductive experiences I’ve had this year.
Click on the player to hear my interview with Gaspar Noé.

SyFy's American 'Being Human' Teaser

Here’s the teaser for SyFy’s ‘Americanized’ take on BEING HUMAN, the BBC’s  “young urban monsters trying to pass in the real world”  series.
It features no footage from the upcoming show.

“Syfy’s all-new drama series BEING HUMAN, starring Sam Witwer (Smallville, Battlestar Galactica), Meaghan Rath (The Assistants), Sam Huntington (Cavemen, Superman Returns) and Mark Pellegrino (Lost, Supernatural) has commenced production in Montreal, Canada. Adam Kane (The Mentalist, Heroes) is Director and Co-Executive Producer with Executive Producer Michael Prupas (The Kennedys, Pillars of the Earth) and husband and wife Executive Producers/Writers Jeremy Carver (Supernatural) and Anna Fricke (Men in Trees, Everwood). Muse Entertainment is producing 13 1-hour episodes for Syfy. Being Human, a re-imagining of the acclaimed UK series created by Toby Whithouse, follows three paranormal, 20-something roommates living in Boston – vampire “Aidan” (Witwer), werewolf “Josh” (Huntington) and ghost “Sally” (Rath) – as they struggle to hide their dark secrets from the world, while helping each other navigate the complexities of living double lives and trying to be human. Mark Pellegrino plays Aidan’s charismatic but menacing vampire mentor ‘Bishop.’
The producer is Irene Litinsky (Human Trafficking, The Phantom) of Muse Entertainment, the director of photography is Pierre Jodoin (The Last Templar, Secrets of the Mountain) and the production designer is Zoe Sakellaropoulo (The Last Templar, The Phantom).”

The original BEING HUMAN currently airs on BBC America on Saturdays at 9:00 pm/8 Central.
 
via Blastr

Fall 2010 Movie Preview: The Chronic Rift Podcast

In anticipation of my assuming the role of movie critic for THE CHRONIC RIFT — the legendary discussion show of all things science fiction, fantasy and horror that’s beginning its third year as a podcast — John Drew invited me on to discuss what genre fans should be looking forward to in the coming months. As you can expect, the conversation consists of equal parts reasoned insight, wild speculation, and geeky enthusiasm. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s also only half the conversation, since we went on at such length that the show had to be split into two parts. John notes at the end of this segment that part 2 will follow tomorrow. It may appear here as well, or it may be pushed back just a bit so we can bring you the CFQ POST-MORTEM (this week devoted to a discussion of the worlds of Ray Bradbury and William Castle), and the latest episode of MIGHTY MOVIE PODCAST, featuring Neil Marshall discussing his cojones-out historic adventure film, CENTURION, and Daniele Thompson on her wry comedy, CHANGE OF PLANS. We’re nothing if not eclectic here.
If you just can’t wait, we heartily commend you to www.chronicrift.com, where you can catch the thrilling conclusion as soon as it posts. (And hear lots of other good eps as well.)
Click on the player to hear Part One.

Tormented (1960) on Mystery Science Theater 3000: A 50th Anniversary Horror Movie Review

Tormented (1960) posterProducer-director Bert I. Gordon is most well known for his low-budget 1950s science fiction pics like THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, EARTH VS. THE SPIDER, KING DINOSAUR, and ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, but this little seen relic from 1960 is actually one of his better efforts. It is also one of the more entertaining installments of the always enjoyable MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson) and his robot pals are on-target with their caustic quips and silly asides, but equally important is that the target of their tirades borders perfectly on the cusp of watchability and absurdity. TORMENTED is not without merit; it simply tries too hard, and layers its melodramatic effects on so thick that you would be tempted to chuckle even without the addition of the MST3K commentary.
TORMENTED plays like a hard-boiled homicide story rammed into a horror film.  Jazz pianist Tom Stewart is engaged to Meg, but his old flame Vi (listed in the credits as “VI,” which Joel reads as the roman number for six) refuses to let go, until she conveniently falls off the top of a lighthouse. Unfortunately for Tom, Vi (whose body turns to kelp when he retrieves it from the ocean) returns to haunt him, turning his life into a living hell and generally messing up the approaching nuptials.
The scenario (by veteran George Worthing Yates, whose credits include the excellent 1954 sci-fi effort THEM) is not without interest, wrapped as it is in some moody black-and-white photography and a cool jazz soundtrack. But the whole thing is just a bit over-baked: Tom’s voice-over narration (which Crow likens to Graeme Edge of the Mood Blues, who famously intoned, “Breathe deep the gathering gloom…) tells us more than we need to know, and the supernatural manifestations (though technically competent) are a bit too insistent in their attempts to scare the audience and drive Tom bonkers; many of them would work better as externalizations of Tom’s guilt, but TORMENTED eschews this interpretation, definitely opting for a supernatural explanation.
Tormented: Vi's GhostTORMENTED quickly hits a plateau, with Tom repeatedly voicing his defiance to the unseen Vi, despite the tell-tale signs she leaves: a missing ring, footsteps in the sand, disembodied hands. When Vi finally provides a “free-floating full-torso vaporous apparition” (to quote GHOSTBUSTERS), her pose and flowing white dress are less suggestive of a spook than of a hot and sexy femme fatale, as glimpsed on the cover of a paperback novel; also, the staging is a bit static, as if Gordon were afraid that any movement would have ruined the alignment of the composite elements in the special effects shot.
Things pick up a bit when Vi’s ghost sets her supernatural sights on others. TORMENTED even achieves an occasional eerie shudder, as when Meg’s bridal dress mysteriously turns up covered in seaweed or when several characters note the presence of a perfume that Vi used to wear. There is a nice bit with a seeing-eye dog afraid to enter the fateful lighthouse and a fun if slightly melodramatic scene wherein Vi’s unseen spirit interrupts the wedding ceremony, causing all the flowers in the chapel to wilt.
Tormented Joe TurkelTORMENTED is many ways a competent B-movie. Richard Carlson (THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) is an old pro who does a decent job with the guilty Tom. Juli Reding has the right look as the vampy Vi. Susan Gordon (director Bert I. Gordon’s daughter) is fine as Meg’s younger sister, an innocent moppet whose presence acts as a continual prick on Tom’s conscience. Joe Turkel (later the creepy bartender in Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING) shows up briefly in a nice turn as a would-be blackmailer, who ironically speaks hipper lingo than jazz-man Tom and suspects the pianist’s affair (prompting Crow to remark “Like there’s never been a sex scandal in jazz before!”). The downbeat ending (SPOILER: Tom and Vi’s drowned corpses end up in a mock embrace on the beach END SPOILER) even elicits crocodile tears from the MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 cast, suggesting they are almost impressed by the heavy-handed attempt at romantic fatalism.
MST3K Tormented headUnfortunately, TORMENTED never achieves the right dreamlike atmosphere to support its special effects. A sequence in which Vi appears as a disembodied head, sitting on a table, is intended as a gratuitous shock (there is no reason for her to manifest in this manner; it’s not as if she died by decapitation), but it comes across as merely funny, especially when Tom picks up the head, wraps it in a towel, and then drops it down the stairs. (Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot recreate the headless scene – to much better comic effect – in one of the host segments.)
With this kind of source material, it is almost inevitable that the crew of the Satellite of Love would have a ball, resulting in one of the better episodes of the always funny MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Verbal references to “body surfing” while Tom tries to retrieve Vi’s corpse from the crashing waves are worth a chuckle, and there is a running gag about “Sessions Presents”: the over-used establishing shot of Tom’s beach-front cabin suggests a commercial for a K-TEL type record collection of pop hits. During one of TORMENTED’s many lighthouse scenes, Joel notes the echoes of Hitccock, remarking, “An aging Kim Novak recreates this scene from VERTIGO.”
The host segments offer fun as well, such as TV’s Frank (Frank Coniff) wearing a “drinking jacket” that comes equpped with the D.T.’s (i.e., a rubber snake). There is a hysterical bit recreating Vi’s death with a miniature lighthouse and dolls, which stand in for pop musicians that Joel and his robot pals would like to see plummet to their deaths (Kenny Loggins, Michael Bolton, etc). “That felt good,” Joel sighs, when it’s all over. Perhaps the funniest segment is a brief throw-away, with Tom Servo and Crow debating whether Lyndon B. Johnson’s presence on the presidential ticket really helped Kennedy win the White House.

click to purchase
click to purchase

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000’s riff on TORMENTED is currently available via Video on Demand through Netflix Instant Viewing. It is also available on DVD as part of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection, Volume 11, which also includes RING OF TERROR, THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN, and HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND. Rhino’s four-disc box set offers theatrical trailers for several of the films, including TORMENTED. There are interviews with director Bert I. Gordon, his daughter Susan, and co-star Joseph Turkel. Bonus features not directly related to TORMENTED include Mystery Science Hour wrap-around segments, hosted by Mike Nelson as Jack Perkins, and an “MST3K Jukebox” (a compilation of the musical numbers sung by the Satellite of Love crew.”
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, Season 5, Episode 14 (originally aired September 26, 1992). Directed by Kevin Murph. Written by Michael J. Nelson, Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Paul Chaplin, Frank Conniff, Bridget Johnes, Kevin Murphy. Cast: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Jim Mallon, Frank Conniff.
TORMENTED (September 22, 1960). Directed by Bert I. Gordon. Screenplay by George Worthing Yates, from a story by Gordon. Cast: Richard Carlson, Susan Gordon, Lugene Sanders, Juli Reding. Joe Turkel, Lillian Adams, Gene Roth, Vera Marshe, Harry FLeer, Merritt Stone.
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13 Ghosts: A Celebration of 1960 Horror Retrospective

13 Ghosts (1960)

In the hot summer of 1960, one of the few places that had air conditioning in the small town where I lived was the local movie theater. That summer we went to the movies a lot. I can’t remember if it was during THE BELLBOY or THE ALAMO, but there was a preview for William Castle’s 13 GHOSTS and I was hooked. I had to see it.

13 Ghosts (1960) publicity still
Spooky publicity still of a scene that does not appear in the film

By 1960 producer-director William Castle was at the height of his career. He had already unleashed such “shockers” as MACABRE, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, and THE TINGLER. Castle was a showman first and movie-maker second. I like to think of him as the smiling carny who stood outside the tent and promised things he couldn’t possibly deliver. However, when you are seven years old, you believe him when he promises that the amazing new process of Illusion O will allow you to see 13 ghosts on screen. More importantly, if your nerve deserted you, the process would allow you to make the ghosts disappear.
After endless weeks of anticipation, the opening day for 13 GHOSTS finally arrived. Every kid in town had lined up for the Saturday matinee, hoping for one of the coveted seats in the balcony of the Geneva Theatre (please note, I am Canadian and we spell it theatre, instead of theater). Everyone got their own ghost viewer when they entered the theatre, handed out by bored ushers who instructed us that we would need them to see the ghosts.
All the kids who crowded into the theater were wired up on a giant sugar rush powered by soda and chocolate. The air was filled with flying popcorn boxes and anticipation as the lights dropped. The curtain rose and William Castle himself gave us a pseudo-scientific lecture on how to use our ghost viewers. To see the ghosts we needed to look through the red lens, if we were chicken we could make them disappear by looking through the blue lens (as if).
13 GHOSTS is really old fashioned, with bad dialogue, lame acting and cheesy special effects. However, it captivated a group of small town seven-year-olds and even shut up the rowdies in the balcony.
13 Ghosts (1960)13 GHOSTS follows the adventures of the Zorba family, who always seem to be on the verge of bankruptcy even though Mr. Zorba appears to have a good (albeit somewhat undefined) job at the local museum. The family, who seem like great candidates for a subprime loan, have just had all their furniture repossessed by the finance company, when a telegram arrives (producing one of the few genuine shocks in the film) to inform them that a distant uncle has passed away and left them his house and, as we later find out, his collection of ghosts from around the world.
The late professor Zorba, we learn, had invented a ghost viewer – which was much more elaborate than the cheap cardboard versions we got – that allowed him to see and capture the ghosts and then contain them in his house. All this is explained by a young lawyer who might as well have a flashing sign over his head to indicate his role in all of this. The lawyer was played by Martin Milner, who would go on to television stardom that fall in ROUTE 66.
The Zorba family happily packs up and moves right in. Apart from their dubious financial skills, the Zorbas are also numb-skulls: the father, mother, and daughter are basically throw away characters, while the son Buck stands in for the target demographic, impressionable young boys.
Margaret Hamilton
Margaret Hamilton

The only lively piece of acting in 13 GHOSTS arrives courtesy of Margaret Hamilton as the mysterious housekeeper. Her performance is enhanced because she doesn’t have much of the clunky dialogue that the script overflows with. Most of her role involves not too subtle references to her classic part as the Wicked Witch of the West in THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Once the ghosts show up the film comes to life. Part supernatural thriller and part old dark house mystery, 13 GHOSTS reaches a more or less satisfying conclusion with the mystery solved, the Zorbas rich and the house ghost free… or is it?
My friends, who hadn’t seen nearly as many horror movies as I had, spent the movie sliding down deep into their seats while I spent the entire film mesmerized. When it was over we all agreed that it was “awesome” or whatever the 1960’s equivalent to “awesome” was, and we all vowed to go again and again.
We never did.
13 GHOSTS created an indelible memory that I carried down the years, refusing to see the film again because I was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to my recollections of it from the summer of 1960. Several months ago, we watched the DVD of Joe Dante’s MATINEE, and my teenaged daughter asked who William Castle was. We watched the documentary on the William Castle box set that Sony released last year, and she really wanted to see some of the films including 13 GHOSTS.
Finally relenting, I picked up a copy of the DVD that included the ghost viewer version with the color inserts that revealed the ghosts through the tinted lenses (the Sony box set, unfortunately, includes only the all black-and-white version). What would a slightly cynical, hip teenager think of this black and white museum piece? And what would I think after a half a century?
The ghosts appear
The ghosts appear

Sure, the story is corny, the acting stilted and the special effects cheesy, but my daughter got caught up in the mystery and the mechanics of her ghost viewer. And, I must confess, for 85 precious minutes, I was sitting amid the flying popcorn boxes, clutching my orange soda and ghost viewer thrilling at flying meat cleavers, headless lion tamers and hidden treasure in a haunted house.
William Castle went on to create ’60s cult classics such as MR. SARDONICUS, HOMICIDAL, and STRAIGHTJACKET. Today he is celebrated for the outrageous gimmicks he employed to draw audiences, and if he were making films today it would be interesting to see what kind of gimmicks he would use.
Fifty years ago his ghost viewer opened a whole new doorway into the supernatural for a generation of bored school children. And as part of that audience I hail him and 13 GHOSTS for making the summer of 1960 a chilling one for my friends and me.
13 GHOSTS (1960). Produced and directed by William Castle. Written by Robb White. Cast: Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner, Rosemary DeCamp, Donald Woods, Margaret Hamilton, John Van Dreelen.
13-ghosts 13 GHOSTS (1960) 13 Ghosts opening title sequence

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Guillermo Del Toro to repossess to Disney's Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion 2003Variety reports that Walt Disney Pictures is planning to reboot its stillborn THE HAUNTED MANSION franchise with a new 3-D film, to be developed and directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Disney and Del Toro announced the venture at Comic Con, emphasizing that this version of THE HAUNTED MANSION would be a genuinely scary haunted house movie, not a spoof.

“After all, Disney himself was the father of some really chilling moments and characters — think Chernabog from ‘Fantasia,’ or Maleficent as the Dragon, or the Evil Queen in ‘Snow White,'” he said. “We will make the ‘Haunted Mansion’ the most haunted place on Earth,” he said. “We are not making it a comedy. We will make it scary and fun at the same time. For me, the ‘Mansion’ needs to be the haunted house movie for this generation.”

Disney’s  first attempt to launch a franchise based on their famous theme park attraction died a quick death, thanks to the abysmally unfunny THE HAUNTED MANSION (2003), starring Eddie Murphy, which failed to ignite interest in a follow-up, despite a worldwide gross of $182-million. Disney is hoping to recreate the success of their PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies.
Since stepping away from the director’s chair on THE HOBBIT project (two prequels to Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS films), Del Toro has been talking about several projects in various stages of development, leading to speculation about which would in fact be his next directorial effort. At Comic-Con last week, he indicated that he was finalizing a deal on an unnamed project.