THE ICS FILES

#5-June 1999
NEXT MEETING
    Our next meeting will be Saturday, June 26th at 6:00 P.M., at our new home at 8848 Belair Road at the hall connected with the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church. You can just pen in the last Saturdays of the month for a while. So figure that July 31st, August 28th, September 25th, October 30th (etc.) at 6:00 P.M. are spoken for.
    Directions: Take Baltimore Beltway 695 exit 32 North onto Route 1, Belair Road. From I-95 take the 695 exit west toward Towson and take the first exit, 32, north. Drive about 2.5 miles on Belair Road and turn left at the major intersection of Belair and Joppa Road. The back entrance of the church is just beyond the miniature golf course (and is easy to miss). If you miss it, there's ample turn-around opportunities. Or get to a phone and call Dave Henderson at 410-598-0085 and he'll talk you in.

DUE DAY!
    The promised hour has arrived. If you're receiving this newsletter and have not yet paid your dues your 3 issue grace period has expired. Starting with our next issue the circulation of  "The ICS Files" will be restricted to dues paying members. Anyone who has not paid their dues will not be considered a member of the club. Below is a list of those people that we have recorded as dues paying members. If you have paid your dues of $20 per individual or $30 per couple (or have been meaning to) and do not see your name on this list please contact us immediately.

Tom Burke                             Jennifer Gostin                            Gary Roberson
Jeff Barker                             Dave Henderson                         Michael Schilling
Norma Brooks                       Phil Holthaus                                Brian Smith
John Clayton                          Bill Littman                                  Courtney Spies
Cindy Collins                          Michael Mann                              Jack Tydings
Vince DiLeonardi                   Lorne Marshall                            Regina Vallerani
Peggy Gervasio                      Jerry Pleines                                David Willard
Ralph Gervasio                      Joe Plempel                                  Charlie Wittig
Howard Gostin

    To pay your dues send either a money order or a check made out to "cash" for the $20 or $30 to:

John Clayton

Columbia, Maryland 21044

FOR THOSE OF YOU LEAVING US
    If this is the your last newsletter we encourage you to consider dropping by a meeting some last Saturday of the month and saying "hi." You have witnessed a desire to continue on form into a cohesive group of friends bound together with common goals. We have a name, a written constitution, a governing Board, a small but growing treasury, a permanent meeting place and a bright future stretching before us. So come on by. We'll be there.

MEETING MOVIES
     We're going back to the system used in the old club for selecting movies. One person will bring them in and either in writing or by spoken introduction will explain a little about each film and the club will vote on one of them. I was not at the last meeting so I don't know if we have a "movie-bringer" for June. Just in case, bring something with you.

FURTHER GLIMPSES OF THE GLASS TEAT
    New channel launch: In the wake of last month's announcement that Viacom intends to start its own science-fiction channel, Showtime has just announced a new sci-fi, horror, fantasy channel called "Showtime Beyond." The new service is expected to become available this September.
"Deep Space Nine" comes to an end: The Rodney Dangerfield of the Star Trek universe, "Deep Space Nine," has aired its final new episode. The show boldly went in directions where no Star Trek series has gone before. There was grumbling on April 22nd at L.A.'s Mondrian hotel where the wrap party was held. The feeling was that all of the support was going to "Voyager" (which mirrors how the "Next Generation" cast and crew felt about "DS9"). Co-creator Rick Berman stood in the hotel's courtyard attempting to give an emotional farewell speech. Everyone's attention was diverted to the 4th floor window where a young couple was exploring their own final frontier. Must have been a couple of Vulcans in the grip of  Ponn Farr! Ah well, as a fan let me attempt to say what Berman's audience was too distracted to hear. Thanks "DS9." You've been one hell of a show.
"Millennium" comes to an end: Frank Black (the main character in Chris Carter's other show, "Millennium") gives us his last angst-ridden look. The show will be replaced with "The Best of Mad TV." Fox will not renew it. When I think of "Millennium" I summon up memories of Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger riding in the back of a cab in On The Waterfront. This show "coulda been a contenda." Somehow, it just seemed to loose its way. As a result it won't live to see the very millennium the its title heralded.
"Harsh Realm" is slated for Fox's Fall schedule: Fox is pumped over the pilot for their new science-fiction show "Harsh Realm," based on a comic book of the same name. The Fox execs proclaimed it the best pilot that they've ever seen! The show will air Fridays at 9:00 in the old "X-Files," "Sliders," "VR-5," "Millennium" time slot. The show will be produced by Chris Carter and features Scott Bairstow, D.B. Sweeney, Samantha Mathais, Terry O'Quinn and Max Martini. The main character,  Lt. Thomas Hobbes, has been sent into a virtual pocket universe called "Harsh Realm" with its own set of laws--including the existence of magic. The show has been compared to The Matrix. Fox has announced that in light of recent school shootings they will deliberately scale back the violence.

"Crusade" launch imminent: TNT is about to start airing the much anticipated sequel to "Babylon 5," "Crusade." It will make its debut Wednesday, June 9th, at 10:00 P.M. You may recall that this is the show that the network and creator J. M. Stracynski had a fight over. As a result there will only be 13 episodes aired. There is a slender chance that another network or a syndicator will see these episodes and decide to continue the show or that TNT will try to come to terms with Stracynski. But this is not very likely. You web-heads may wish to check out www.astro.umd.edu/~fleming/ to see what's happening with the "Crusade for Crusade."
TNT announces new time for "Babylon 5": While we're talking TNT, "Crusade's" papa, "B5" will begin airing re-runs on Saturday, June 5th. Starting at 7A.M., 2 episodes will air back-to-back.
Fox to show "Star Wars" documentary: On Tuesday, June 15th at 9:00 P.M. Fox will air "From Star Wars to Star Wars," hosted by Samuel L. Jackson. The show will look at unseen footage from the original, interview the cast and crew and look at the special effects work of ILM over the past 25 years.
Hercules unchained: "Hecules: The Legendary Journey" has reached journey's end. Eight un-aired episodes will be shown next season. The last episode will air the week of November 15th. Star Kevin Sorbo is working on creating two new series with Majel Barret-Roddenberry for Fall 2000 syndication. They're developing "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda," and "Gene Roddenberry's Starship." Sorbo will star in one of them.
Hercules' replacement: Starting this January "The Back 2 Back Action Hour" will be offered in place of "Hercules: The Legendary Journey." "Back 2 Back" is actually 2 half hour shows. The first, "Jack of all Trades," is about a swashbuckling 18th century British secret agent working on a Caribbean island. The second, "Cleopatra," is about a cryogenically frozen 21st century woman who awakes in the 26th century to discover the world is ruled by evil robots. Geez, I hate when that happens!

GET WELL WISHES TO, UH . . . ME!
    I like to keep everyone abreast of ailing members as we hear of them. Well here's a case with which I'm intimately familiar (and that I find endlessly fascinating!). I seem to have sprung an internal leak! An old incision from more than 20 years ago has torn internally. In other words, I've got a hernia. I haven't scheduled surgery yet but it will be soon. The recovery will be about 4 weeks (maybe longer).  So if you don't see me for a little while I'll be home convalescing.

IS TECHNOLOGY THE REAL PHANTOM MENACE?
    With each major technological innovation in motion pictures there's been an accompanying abuse of that innovation until the public had tired of the novelty of it and needed something more. When pictures first started to move early comedies featured buffoons capering across the screen like a chicken on a hot plate. With time we got the wonderful comic genius of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin but we had to grow into it. When movies started to talk some of the early melodramas were flooded with long needless dialogue. It's hard work trying to watch one of them now. In the fifties, when Technicolor came into wide use, there were movies made that were little more than travelogues with wafer thin stories grafted on them. The audience would ooh and ahh at the blue sky and the leading lady's green eyes. These movies actually are unwatchable now. It make me wonder how audience of the future will view Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. Did we really need every single effects shot? As we've seen before, technology can supplement but not replace intense acting, brilliant direction, a well crafted script and crisp editing. Will Jar-Jar Binks and lengthy pod races and drawn out computer generated battles ever replace the grip of a riveting narrative told with subtle intensity? I wonder.

IMAGINATIVE CINEMA PREMIERING IN JUNE
    As expected, studios are giving wide berth to the new Star Wars. As a result the pickings are rather slender. On June 11th, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me opens (that movie might do something if they just hit us with a few more tons of advertising). On June 18th the Disney animation of Tarzan debuts. On June 30th (recently re-positioned to take advantage of the July 4th weekend) The Wild, Wild West opens. There will be many more selections in the coming months. Hang in there.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL THEATER
    Once upon a time, that would have meant the local movie house a few blocks from the house with the grouchy old lady ticket-taker and the nickel bag of popcorn. Now it means that we need to remember to appreciate those few lonely rebels that are still bringing us a quality film experience while still locally owning their businesses. While the rest of the country is being mauled to death at the googolplex these guys are standing firm. ICS takes this opportunity to tip its collective hats to these malcontents and say "thanks for hanging in there."

    The Bengies Drive-In, 3417 Eastern Blvd., 410-687-5627. He's Baaaaaack. Mr. Vogel is presiding over what is becoming an annual rite of summer--The Bengies final season. For his sake, we hope he sells it and moves on. For our sake we hope that it's open forever! For the 43rd year new films will once again flicker across the 52'x120' giant outdoor screen. Starting in mid June the Bengies "All-American Drive-in" will be open 7 evenings a week. Visit it now. No telling how much longer it will be around.

    The Charles Theater, 1711 N.Charles St., 410-727-3464, www.thecharles.com. The Charles is what's known as "an art house" in the business. It shows foreign films, independent films and classic films (they've just wrapped up a dynamite series of film noirs). In April of this year they just finished a major expansion. They still have their 485-seat main auditorium that looks much the way it did in 1939 when it opened as The Times Theater (back then it exclusively showed newsreels). The Charles acquired its neighbor (which once upon a time was the Famous Ballroom) and opened four stadium style theaters ranging from 120 to 230 seats. So of the five films they're showing at any given time there's bound to be something you'll like. For an additional 2 bucks you've got garage parking directly across the street. And besides all this you've got Cinema Sundays! On many Sunday mornings at 10:30 The Charles offers a Sunday brunch with coffee and bagels, the premier of a first run foreign or independent film, movie passes for sneak previews at area theaters, and a discussion following the screening. "Cinema Sundays" are available via a series subscription or $15 per Sunday.

    The Orpheum Cinema, 1724 Thames St., 410-732-4614,www.charm.net/~orpheum/  George Figgs temporarily closed the Orpheum as of May 10th. Much of that was for the need for renovation. The patrons will have new carpets and new seats. He's also seems to be looking for a new definition of his theater now that The Charles, with it multiple screens, has become able to show the sort of diverse and eclectic fare in which The Orpheum has specialized  through its life. He's looking into re-opening as a non-profit concern and catering to even more obscure and edgy cinema. Watch this space for further details.

    The Senator Theater, 5904 York Road, 410-435-8338, www.senator.com. This October Tom Kiefaber will be celebrating the 60th birthday of "The Historic" Senator Theater. He's gussied up the old gal this year well in advance. The Senator now has new carpeting, 900 new seats, a kick-ass 16,500 watt bi-amped sound system, a new screen, and new state-of-the-art lenses. The Senator is only 1 of 50 theaters around the country to receive a special "vision premier" print of their current feature, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. The Senator often hosts special events and appearances by celebrities. As with all of the theaters mentioned abo ve, we'll kee p you posted.

VIDIOCY
    Following is a look at what's happening in the worlds of rental and sell-through video and DVD for the month of June.

    Rental titles releasing June 1st:Waking Ned Divine is not, strictly speaking, a genre' film. But this warm hearted Irish comedy deserves a look.. . . Shepherd features C. Thomas Howell, Roddy Piper and David Carradine in this Roger Corman direct-to-video (DTV) cheapie about a "shepherd" who leads his chosen ones to safety when the world of 2317 erupts in a holy war.

    Rental titles releasing June 8th:From the Earth to the Moon, the Tom Hanks HBO 6 volume series about America's efforts to land a man on the moon, premieres in time to co-incide with the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing. . . . The new and unimproved Psycho also debuts this day. Those of you bypassing the video for the DVD for 34.95 will get a 30 minute making-of documentary (maybe it will explain why it was made in the first place), 2 screen savers, Van Sant's commentary, production notes, cast bios and film highlights. . . .Gods and Monsters, the speculative look at the last days of Frankenstein director James Whale, also makes it's video and DVD debut. The DVD features a 30 minute documentary entitled "The World of Gods and Monters--A Journey with James Whale." along with the usual cast bios and highlights.

    Rental titles releasing June 15th: Best Picture nominee The Thin Red Line releases today. Many people loved this film. I was not among them. . . . The Faculty, directed by Robert Rodriquez, hits the streets today. A group of high schoolers discover what every student already knows--teachers are possessed by evil aliens bent on domination. . .  . Enemy of the State, filmed partially here in Charm City, debuts today. This is an excellent action/suspense movie featuring Will Smith, Gene Hackman and Jon Voight.

    Rental titles releasing June 22nd: The kind hearted biography of Patch Adams releases today. Robin Williams plays a real life medical student rebelling against medical orthodoxy to reach out to patients. . . . Purgatory, made for TNT, features Sam Shepard, Eric Roberts and Randy Quaid as outlaws holed up in an odd little town whose creepy inhabitants aren't what they appear. . . . Paramount releases Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms DTV today. This is the Jean-Claude Van Damme sequel to his 1992 hit (made when the "Muscle from Brussels" had a little more box office clought).

    Rental titles releasing June 29th:  A few familiar faces pop up in the provocatively titled Some Nudity Required. This is a documentary about the twilight world of low-budget direct-to-video productions and the way women are depicted in it. Among those interviewed are Fred Olen Ray, Jim Wynorski, Julie Strain and Maria Ford. . . . One of the best and most neglected comedies of last year, Rushmore, with Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman hits video today.

    Sell-through titles releasing June 1st:The Unauthorized Star Wars Story is available at $14.95. It goes behind the scenes and gets anecdotes from both cast and crew.

    Sell-through titles releasing June 8th: Get out your platform shoes and your polyester paisley shirt, it's 70's horror at its cheesiest on DVD. The first three titles are $24.95 each. From 1972 we have Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things.From 1975 there's The Devil's Rain (with the odd casting of Earnest Borgnine, Ida Lupino, William Shatner, Eddie Albert and the screen debut of John Travolta). From 1972 comes the made-for-TV Gargoyles (not one of Cornel Wilde's best pictures). And for $19.95 there is the 1973 Don't Look in the Basement.

    Sell-through titles releasing June 15th: Today is Jackie Chan day! Pick up Mr. Nice Guy, Police Story and Rush Hour for $14.98 each. Police Story 2 (first time on video) is available for $19.98. If you need a further Chan fix try the Extreme Chan prepack for $39.98. That includes Mr. Nice Guy, First Strike and Rumble in the Bronx.

    Sell-through titles releasing June 22nd: Artisan releases The Film Noir 6-Pack today at 19.98 each. The titles included are Arch of Triumph (a 1948 film reuniting the Gaslight duo of Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer), Body and Soul (a 1947 John Garfield classic featuring the dark side of the boxing world), Force of Evil (another Garfield, this one from '48), Champion (another great boxing film with an intense performance by Kirk Douglas), The Enforcer (from 1951 with Humphrey Bogart and Zero Mostel), and the recent neo-noir thriller Bound. . . . For those of you who just couldn't watch the 1952 classic High Noon until it was digitally re-mastered you've got your wish. The re-mastered VHS is $14.98, the DVD is $24.98. . . . If you loved Stephen King's Storm of the Century, you'll be happy to hear the DVD becomes available today for $29.99. . . . And if you love 60's kitsch you'll run out and buy the DVDBarbarella. This 1968 Jane Fonda curio is now equipped with interactive menus, scene selection and theatrical trailers.

    Sell-through titles releasing June 29th:  In an unprecedented move Warner Brothers, Tri-Star and MGM have banned together to release The Stanley Kubrick Collection. Each prepack will include Lolita, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Dr. Strangelove. The VHS is $124.92, the DVD goes for $149.92. Or they can be purchased individually for $19.98 on cassette or $24.98 for the DVD (except Barry Lyndon, which runs to two cassettes, both VHS and DVD are $24.98). Not included in the prepack but also available are Paths of Glory and The Killing. . . . Last year's Jim Carrey hit, The Truman Show, is being re-priced today to $14.95. . . . The 1985 Terry Gilliam film, Brazil, releases today on three DVD discs for $59.95. Disc I is the 142 minute final film with Gilliam's commentary; disc II features documentaries, story boards and commentaries; disc III is the 94 minute theatrical cut with alternate openings and endings. . . . The digitally remastered Ghostbusters I & II release today. The VHS are $14.95 each. The extra-features-laden DVD are $24.95 each. The DVD's include such options as the MST3K-like silhouettes of Harold Ramis, director Ivan Reitman and producer Joe Medjock in the foreground commenting and wisecracking about the films, anecdotes, commentaries, deleted scenes, trivia and a "making-of" documentary.