Tag Archives: Youtube

Throwback Thursday: the 1982 3-D broadcast of “Revenge of the Creature!”

Here’s another Throwback Thursday post that is a relatively obscure, but might be a treat for my fellow HNAM’s (Horror Nerds Approaching Midlife).  Who remembers the nationwide syndicated broadcast of 1955’s “Revenge of the Creature” in 3-D in early July 1982?

Your parents had to pick up the 3-D glasses for you from a local Pizza Hut or 7-Eleven, I think …  This was a pretty big deal, especially if you were a nine-year-old boy, as I was.  My good old Dad got the glasses for me, and he patiently explained to me how depth perception the 3-D technology worked.  Good Lord, how I looked forward to this.

And I wasn’t disappointed.  I remember the effects being actually pretty damned good.  I was thrilled.  It was my first 3-D movie.  (In fact, it might actually have been the only 3-D movie I’ve ever seen …)

The Neato Coolville website has a far better account of the event than I could write — check it out right here:

http://neatocoolville.blogspot.com/2007/10/1982-television-event-revenge-of.html

The movie itself, in 3-D format, is also on Youtube.  I’d love to view it on my laptop, but I don’t have any 3-D glasses handy.  I might have to rectify that with my next Amazon purchase.

 

 

Nolanferatu’s tip for a trippy vintage horror double feature!

Well there’s one thing I can cross off my bucket list.  (There’s a lot on there, and some of it’s weird.)  I finally saw F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu: ein Symphonie des Grauens” (1922).

And am I damn glad I did!  I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would.  I love plenty of classic movies; “The 39 Steps” (1939) and “To Have and Have Not” (1944) are among my all-time favorites.  But I’m accustomed to modern horror — my tastes generally extend only as far back as “The Birds” (1963) and “Night of the Living Dead” (1968).

I waited until I was in just the right mood.  (This is the first silent film I’ve ever seen from start to finish — the only exception being Mel Brooks’ 1976 parody, “Silent Movie.”)  Then I began it shortly before midnight.

The movie just worked for me. It was sublimely creepy.

I think it helped that the grainy, flickering, black-and-white period footage made this expressionist movie utterly atmospheric for a modern viewer.  These, combined with the shots of Max Schreck superbly made up as “Count Orlok,” were damned unsettling.  Schreck also appeared to be a great physical actor, with his gaunt stance and stilted, inhuman movements.  (Was he unusually tall too?)

The vintage footage also enhanced my enjoyment of the movie in a way that Murnau probably couldn’t have expected.  I know this is strange, but … nearly a century later, the thought that occurred to me several times during this movie was this: “Everyone involved in this production is long dead by now.”  Yes, I know that is a morbid thought — I’ve never done that before!  I think it was just the film itself that did that to me — it’s about undeath and immortality, after all.

It also helped that I’d read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897), of which this film is an unauthorized adaptation.  The resulting lawsuit by Stoker’s estate is interesting reading: supposedly all copies of the movie were ordered by the courts to be destroyed, bankrupting Prana, the production company.  But a permanent cult following developed for the few surviving prints.

Anyway, I followed this up with the palate-cleansing “Night on Bald Mountain,” the final segment of Disney’s “Fantasia” (1944).  That combination, too, totally worked for me — I followed up the black-and-white nightmare-fuel of the seminal vampire film with some vivid, incongruously hellish Disney nightmare-fuel.

“Nosferatu” is in the public domain.  You can view the entire film on Youtube at the link below.

 

 

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My review of “The Walking Dead” Season 6

Season 6 of “The Walking Dead” ended terribly last Sunday night, with a gimmicky, redundant, cartoonishly filmed cliffhanger that seemed like a power trip for the show’s writers and a shameless trick to ensure ratings for the Season 7 premiere.  Even that blunder, however, can only partially mar an otherwise great season of television; I’d still give the sixth season a 9 out of 10.

Seriously, Sunday night’s closing minutes were a big disappointment. We did not — I repeat, we did NOT — get to see which of our heroes would fall victim to new arch-villain Negan and his barbed-wire baseball bat, “Lucille.”  (I don’t think that I’m writing a spoiler here, as I’m informing the reader of an event that was not yet depicted.)  We get to see the dramatic and frightening events leading up our heroes’ capture — overall, the episode was pretty good, I think.  And we get to see some iconic images and hear dialogue that we remember from the original comic series.  And we finally get to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan appear as the new big-bad, something the show’s marketing suggests AMC believed fans would be happy with alone.

But the season ended with a cheesy point-of-view shot of the nameless individual who Negan executes, then a black screen along with the muffled screaming and shouting of those protagonists who are left to witness their friend’s murder.  (Check Youtube — some pretty ardent fans have actually analyzed the sounds and provided subtitles, supposedly providing clues as to who the victim was.)  And the manner in which it was filmed was kitsch — it reminded me of the over-the-top POV shots employed by Sam Raimi.

I think this is poor storytelling.  The Saviors storyline has been building for at least half a season (earlier if you consider the first encounter with Dwight), and the death of one of our heroes was the universally expected, logical conclusion of that.  The cliffhanger also felt like a little bit of a “f*&% you” to the fans.  The show’s creators know that its viewership was so eagerly anticipating an answer to the million-dollar question — “who dies?”  And they showed us that not only have they enjoyed stringing us along, they’re going to enjoy gratuitously stringing us along for another seven months until Season Seven.

And, hey, it looks as though this parsimonious storytelling will be the case with tie-in promotions as well.  I read today over at Hollywood Reporter that Robert Kirkman has produced a 48-page comic containing Negan’s backstory.  As you may read at the link below, however, only four pages at a time will be made available to fans, as they are released monthly in a comics preview catalog, “Image +.”  (And I’m unclear about whether readers will have to pay for that.)  C’mon.  Gimme a break:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/walking-dead-see-first-page-881581

Furthermore, the final scene was a little problematic in other ways.  I liked Morgan’s performance, but I he didn’t knock my socks off as he apparently did for other fans.  The monologue scripted for him was far too long.  Much of it is lifted from the comics; I think that a lot of it did not translate well from page to screen.

Finally, the cliffhanger was redundant — didn’t the season’s penultimate episode also tease a major character death in its final seconds, employing a cheap visual trick to obscure this person’s fate?

Ah, well.  Like I said, I think Season 6 actually was stellar.  We hardcore fans tend to criticize our show a lot (hence my bitching above).  Our criticisms are often well deserved, but I think we might have been spoiled a bit by “The Walking Dead.”  After six years, five of which were downright addictive, it’s easy to lose sight of how groundbreaking the show has been.

There has never been anything else like it on television.  The fact that it’s the first real zombie apocalypse serialized horror show is obvious, along with its new levels of gore, pathos and goddam amazing makeup effects.  But think also about its breadth and scope — since Season One, I think it’s gone to great lengths to tell an epic story.  Budget constraints — including a limited range of shooting locations in rural southern Georgia — restrict it somewhat.  But like no other show before it, it portrays a horrifying apocalypse from the points of view of a very broad and constantly changing ensemble of characters.

Sometimes this broad and changing ensemble works against the show.  I think one of its weaknesses is that it sometimes doesn’t feel like a well crafted, deliberate story at all, but rather a kind of “reality show” like “Survivor” (2000 – 2016).  Instead of watching in suspense to see who is “voted off the island,” we instead watch in suspense to see whether our favorite fictional character meets a grisly end.  I wouldn’t be surprised if people placed bets.  (I’ve heard that people indeed used to bet on “Survivor” in Las Vegas.)  Consequently, it feels more like bread-and-circuses than real meaningful storytelling within a post-apocalyptic context.

But “The Walking Dead” still manages to be damned good.  Early on in Season 6, I commented to another fan that the show actually seems to be getting better.  It’s getting smarter, with more ideas, and greater attention to detail.  I honestly get the sense that its writers sit down and think about the plausibility and logistics of various elements of this imaginary world.

It has essentially become a war story, even when it’s often just a neverending war of attrition with a universal enemy.  The writers grasp this, and they pick up the ball and run with it.  Attention is paid to strategy, logistics, leadership, morale, levels of training and commitment — Rick’s grand plan to lead the newly released “herd” away from Alexandria in the season’s earliest episodes is a great example of this.

And there is far more world-building.  Based on my familiarity with the comic book series, I recently advised another fan that the entire structure of the show would change.  Instead of people moving place to place and negotiating the various threats there, we now see stationary groups of survivors either fighting or cooperating with one another’s societies — something we’ve previously only really seen with The Prison vs. Woodbury.  This creates a range of larger, more layered and interesting storytelling possibilities.  And there are more enclaves even than we’ve seen so far.  (I’m trying to keep this spoiler free.)

Complementing this new change in story structure are elements of the show that seem to have improved even further.  The action and suspense have increased greatly.  I found myself on the edge of my seat during a few episodes — the one that comes to mind is when our heroes invade the satellite station.

The horror elements are new and stronger.  Story arcs involving the Wolves were extremely unsettling.  (I myself wanted far more of that bizarre little clutch of psychopaths.  Are they a cult?  Do they have a coherent ideology?)  The Saviors, whose survival skills and competence match or exceed Rick’s group, are frightening, especially for those of us who are already acquainted with them through the comics.

I even find I like the show’s drama better in this and recent seasons — more so than in the show’s early years.  Yes, the sad, unsupported, inexplicable recent character change in Carol was a disastrous choice.  And Abraham’s love triangle was a mostly inscrutable nod to the comics.  But there were a lot of other good things to be found this season — Morgan’s backstory, Nicholas’ character arc, the arrival of Jesus and the outcome with Denise.

All told, it was a great season.  Maybe someday a DVD special edition can rectify its final minutes, and supply a necessary face for Negan’s anonymous victim.  Hey, the show obviously wants to milk each cow for all it’s worth, right?

 

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