THE ICS FILES

#8-September '99
 
 

WELCOME TO OUR NEWEST MEMBERS
    The Imaginative Cinema Society welcomes its 4 newest members. First of all, welcome home to old friend Polly Lynn. She formally joined us at Monster Rally. Polly its nice to have you on board! Greetings also to Bob Kuzyk. Bob visited us briefly at our July meeting and joined us in August. Bob is a collector of 16 mm films. He'll be screening a film for us at our October Halloween meeting. Welcome also to Sue Feder. She also joined us in August. Sue is a particular fan of film noirs. Maybe we can have a "noir" night sometime! And finally, welcome to John Ward. He also joined us at our August meeting. We're actually John's second film club! He belongs to the Baltimore chapter of "Sons of the Desert," dedicated to Laurel & Hardy. Well John, here's another fine mess you've gotten yourself into!
    Since Bob, Sue and John all heard about us through the Baltimore Sun thanks, once again, have to go to the Sunpapers and particularly to Ann Hornaday. Thank you so much. Your support is both prized and appreciated for a club in its inaugural year.

THE AUGUST MEETING WAS A SMASH!
    If you missed our August meeting, you missed a good one. Loren Marshall led us in an enlightening and very well prepared (and should we say "well executed?") discussion on violence in the horror film.  You know that it was a good discussion because when the time was up everyone still had a lot more to say. Barry Murphy entertained us with selected short subjects, a chapter of an old serial and that masterpiece of suspense, The Giant Claw. We capped everything off with a spirited business meeting around the tables in the back. We have really got a nice club. If there was ever any doubt, the August meeting proved it.

NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING
    Our September meeting will be held on Saturday September 25th at 6:00 P.M.  We'll have movie selections from Loren Marshall and a lively discussion led by "The Skipper", Barry Murphy on the nuanced acting style of Alan Hale,jr. (heh heh, just kidding--Barry will be talking about his particular area of expertise, classic movie serials). Bob Kuzyk will be bringing in his list of 16 mm films to vote on what we'd like to see in October. And, very importantly, DON'T FORGET TO BRING IN YOUR ITEMS THAT YOU'RE CONTRIBUTING FOR OUR HALLOWEEN AUCTION IN OCTOBER TO OUR SEPTEMBER MEETING. As usual, we'll be meeting at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road. Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn left into the parking lot. If you miss it there are ample turn-around opportunities. If you get stuck call 410-598-8005. That's Dave Henderson's cell phone. He'll talk you in.

ICS PONDERS HALLOWEEN
   We're looking forward to some special events for our October 30th club meeting. We'll be having a potluck dinner in addition to the 16 mm film and the auction. We'll talk more about this at our September 25th meeting.

THE GLASS TEAT
The Talisman is coming! Stephen Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy will co-executive produce a 4 hour miniseries for ABC based on the Stephen King and Peter Straub novel, The Talisman. No air date has yet been set. . . . Buffy & Angel. Producer Joss Whedon has said there will be few, if any, crossovers between "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer," and its new spin-off show, "Buffy." He said that the production schedules will be too hard to synchronize. . . . Martial arts on the small screen! Mel Gibson and Jet Li (Lethal Weapon 4) will co-produce a syndicated 1/2 hour martial arts action show for the Atlantis Alliance production company. The show will employ many out-of-work Hong Kong directors. . . Dune to Sci-Fi. The miniseries based on Frank Herbert's Dune has just been given the go ahead. It will be filming soon in Tunisia and Prague and will air on the Sci-Fi Channel late in 2001. . . . Two master thespians unite! For you folks that thought that subtle blending of talent and chemistry that was "McHale's Navy" was the cutting edge of twentieth century performance craft, be on the look out for Nickelodeon's Saturday cartoon, "SpongeBob SquarePants." It's the first reunion of Earnest Borgnine and Tim Conway since "McHale.". . . USA Network goes deep! On September 14th and 15th USA Network will be airing a two part rendition of the Jules Verne classic, Journey to the Center of the Earth. This version stars Treat Williams, Jeremy London and Bryan Brown. . . . Cold Lazarus. If you missed Dennis Potter's Cold Lazarus, it will be airing on Bravo on the early hours of September 5th (1A.M.-5A.M.). It's about a cryogenically frozen head of a deceased writer that's been brought back to a sort of comatose life in the distant future. Potter wrote this as he was dying from cancer. The production aired posthumously. Potter was a brilliant British writer whose dramatic works are tough to find here. You might know from Pennies in Heaven, Brimstone & Treacle or The Singing Detective.

A LOOK AT THE NEW TV SEASON: RETURNING SHOWS
"3rd Rock From Sun"                                  NBC   Season 5   9/21 (the show moves to
                                                                                                         Tuesdays at 8:30)
"7 Days"                                                    UPN   Season 2   9/29
"Buffy: The Vampire Slayer"                        WB   Season 4   10/5
"Charmed"                                                  WB    Season 2   9/30
"Dilbert"                                                      UPN  Season 2   10/5 (the show moves to
                                                                                                       Tuesdays at 8)
"Early Edition"                                             CBS   Season 4   9/25
"Futurama"                                                  FOX   Season 2   9/26 (the show has moved to
                                                                                                        Sunday nights)
"Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict"  SYN    Season 3   the week of 10/4
"Hercules: The Legend Continues"               SYN   Season 6   the week of 9/27 (8 episodes left)
"The Hunger"                                              SHO   Season 2   9/10 (new episodes hosted by
                                                                                                        David Bowie)
"The Pretender"                                          NBC   Season 4   9/25
"The Profiler"                                              NBC  Season 4   9/25
"Star Trek: Voyager"                                   UPN   Season 6   9/22
"The X-Files"                                              FOX    Season 7   11/7
"Xena: Warrior Princess"                             SYN   Season 5   the week of 9/27

A LOOK AT THE NEW TV SEASON: NEW SHOWS
    "Angel" debuts 10/5 on the WB
    Angel is a fallen centuries old vampire. He has left his old friend Buffy's Sunnydale for Los Angeles (the city of Angels). He struggles to redeem himself with the help of Cordelia and a shadowy figure known only as "The Whistler" by helping the lost souls around him. This show is a spin-off of "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer."
    "Harsh Realm" debuts 10/8 on Fox
    Lt. Thomas Hobbes (Scott Bairstow) has been sent into a virtual reality game world to retrieve the rebellious officer, Omar Santiago (Terry O'Quinn). Since this is virtual reality the normal rules don't necessarily apply. Hobbes has to face magical opponents constructed by Santiago. This show is produced by Chris Carter.
    "Roswell" debuts on 10/6 on the WB
    Most of the citizens of Roswell, NM think that the flying saucer crash of 52 years before was a hoax. High School student Liz Parker discovers that not only was it real but that three of her friends are survivors of that crash. They now have to elude government capture. This is based on a series of young adult novels entitled Roswell High.One of the series regulars is Colin Hanks, Tom's 19 year old son.
    "Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles" debuts 8/27 on the Sci-Fi Channel
    This is a half hour all CGI-animation series that airs daily at 7:30 A.M. It takes elements from Heinlein's novel and from the movie. Over the course of 40 episodes it looks at 5 campaigns, eventually leading to a bug invasion of Earth. They use special Light Wave 3-D animation for ultra-realistic movement. The human characters movement is based on actors wearing suits attached to computers. Imagine the movie Starship Troopers without the angst-ridden soap opera crap, just battle after battle, and you've got the idea.
    "Secret Agent Man" mid-season UPN
    A group of agents operate out of the underground headquarters of P.O.I.S.E. located below the U.N. building. We get to meet the renegade agent Monk, the beautiful Holliday and the new recruit, Parker. They rely on high-tech gadgetry and physical force to protect the world. This show has nothing to do with the old Patrick McGoohan "Secret Agent" show of the 60's. It's being compared to "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
    "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World" debuts in syndication the week of 9/27
    TBS aired a 2 hour pilot movie for this last April. That movie was based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel about the scientific adventurer, Professor Challenger, leading an expedition to a lost plateau where dinosaurs still thrive. This subsequent show departs from that. Now the explorers have discovered a civilization similar to ancient Rome where humans and dinosaurs have interbred though their evolution.

AGENT MULDER'S HOT ON THE TRAIL OF ANOTHER CONSPIRACY!
    David Duchovny has sued 20th Century Fox Film Corp. for selling re-runs of "The X-Files" for unreasonably low prices to their own FX Channel and Fox owned and operated channels throughout the world. The suit alleges that  Fox paid producer Chris Carter "hush money" not to pursue the matter himself. Duchovny's not exactly working for minimum wages. He earns $200,000 per episode and $4,000,000 for the movie. He cites a Newsweek article speculating that the show should earn between $1.4 and $1.5 billion over its life, between first run and syndication. Duchovny suit complains that, so far, he hasn't received any of the residuals. While this will be likely be the final season for "The X-Files," this little drama likely has several more seasons to run.

ONE LAST FLIGHT FOR THE SATELLITE OF LOVE
    There is one final unseen episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" that will be aired on September 12th on the SciFi Channel. The movie, Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, had been tied up due to a conflict with the rights.

AMC AND CORMANIA
    American Movie Classics has just hired Roger Corman to put together a 35 chapter serial to air during its 3 day Halloween weekend stretch of monster movies. In them Corman will play Gorman, the head of AMC's horror department.  The serials will be loaded with cameos from his old pals at American International. Corman will also be hosting "Monster Fest '99" on AMC and their 8 week Roger Corman film festival.

HOORAY FOR, UH, CHINAWOOD?
    There is a once sleepy little agrarian village on China's coast called Hengdian (pronounced "Hung deeyan") that's being referred to in that country as "China's Hollywood." The people of the village, in an effort to draw more tourism, opened a theme park about China's past in 1997. This drew the interest of the revered Hong Kong director, Zhang Xingyan (the man who invented the kung-fu film). Zhang's filming of The Art of Shaolin's Children there drew national attention to the town. By 1998 the transformation was well under way. There's now a film lot that stretches over hundreds of  acres. In 1999 Hengdian expect's to host 200 TV productions and up to 15 major feature films. The millennium is at hand. All things are possible. Over the coming years look for many more Chinese exports to find their way here.

"RISING STARS" ROCKS THE COMIC WORLD
    "Babylon 5's" creator, J.M. Stracynski, has created quite a stir (and a lot of business for Top Cow Comics) with his new title, "Rising Stars." The comic has exceeded expectations. It starts in 1969 in Peterson, Ill. when a rocket ship lands and a group of 113 individuals with special powers called "The Specials" first arrives. The comic will trace their lives and deaths and examine just what the whole super hero role is. Do special powers make a person a hero, or is it something deeper? Just because you can fly do you have to wear a costume? Top Cow has ordered another 20,000 issues to be printed on the first issue.

THINGS TO COME
    In September, for those comic-ly inclined, there's Expo SPX-99 at the Holiday Inn Select in Bethesda on the 17-19. It's a convention of independent comic book artists, creators and publishers and their fans.
    In October Far Point '99 is coming to the Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn on October 8-10. Guests include Peter Jurasik of "Babylon 5," "James Darren of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Time Tunnel," Robert Colbert of "Time Tunnel," Mary Kay Adams of "Babylon 5" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and astronaut Alan Bean.
    Later in October the Chiller Theater Toy and Model & Film Expo will be taking place on the 29th-31st at the Shearton Meadowlands in North Jersey. They have their usual stellar lineup of guests. They'll have Kelly Hu of "Martial Law," Haruo Nakajima and Kenpachiro Satsuma from portions of the Godzilla series, Jason Miller from The Exorcist, Euro star Carroll Baker, scream queen Brinke Stevens, June Lockhart from "Lost in Space" and "Lassie," martial arts star Cynthia Rothrocks, and many many more. For information visit their web site or call 201-804-8040.
    On November 5-7 Eclecticon will be held at the Ramada in Newark, New Jersey.It describes itself as "a multimedia convention, focusing on fanzines and in-depth discussion of you favorite television shows." Eclecticon prides itself on being a serious convention and has chosen to not have any guests. Visit them on the web or call 800-272-6232.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ART HOUSE
    For those of you who like your cinema a little askew, the Orpheum Cinema in Fells Point needs your support. The Orpheum's owner, George Figgs, is re-opening the theater (it's been closed since May) as a non-profit film co-op and archive where historical films, microcinema, documentaries and rare art films can be screened. He wants it to be a place where fans and filmmakers can network. He's throwing a fund raiser on Sunday, September 12th at Baltimore's Charles Theater at 1711 N.Charles Street. Local filmmakers will be on hand to show their recent work and discuss their upcoming projects. Tickets are $25. Send a check and a SASE to the Orpheum Cinema, 1724 Thames Street, Baltimore, Md. 21231. The Orpheum has not been granted non-profit status yet so tickets are not tax-deductible.

THE LAST CRUSADE?
    The final episode of the "Babylon 5" sequel "Crusade" was aired September 1st. The Sci-Fi Channel has said that they'll wait to see how its ratings are before they commit to picking it up. Those interested may want to contact the Sci-Fi Channel and let them know how you feel. Those on line may also want to stop by the "Crusade for Crusade" site.

BRAVE NEW WORLD I: CHANGES IN HOW YOU SEE THE MOVIES
    Many of you have heard the news about digital cinema. Those theaters equipped to show it will be able to project a crisper clearer image on their screens. Lucas is vowing to make the next Star Wars entry available in digital only. The new format is not without its problems. The equipment costs $70,000. Not every theater will be able to afford that. The studios love it because they won't have to ship bulky film cans around. They'll beam the movie over via satellite. This will leave open the possibility of movie pirates downloading pristine copies of popular films.
    There is an interesting alternative. MaxiVision 48 is a new innovation that projects films at 48 frames per second (double their current speed). Existing equipment can be retrofitted for a fraction of the cost of digital projectors. The best part is that those who've seen both formats swear that MaxiVision 48 provides a superior picture.
    Recent technology wars have taught us that the best format doesn't always win (ask anyone with a beta machine and an Apple computer). I'll keep my eye on the horse race for you. One things for sure; with cable, satellite, video and the coming availability on internet movies, theater owners will be offering the consumer a better looking product for their money (though unfortunately they have no control over what actually shows on the screen, just how it's shown).

BRAVE NEW WORLD II: CHANGES IN HOW YOU WATCH YOUR TELEVISION
    We've had our lives changed over the last 50 years by a series of little boxes. One little box was called "television." Another was given the initials "V.C.R." Some of us have little cable boxes. And some of you are reading these words now through another little box called a "computer." So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the next revolution out on the horizon is taking the form of yet another little box. They are personal television boxes being called "digital V.C.R.'s."  They are currently available from TiVo, Replay TV Networks and Quantum. They are essentially hard drives connected to your television (they've sometimes been called "bit buckets"). They scan your viewing preferences, learn your likes and dislikes, and essentially create your own private network with only shows you like. They can allow the viewer to pause a live broadcast and fast forward or replay key moments instantly. They can both play and record simultaneously. Depending on the model that you buy you can record up to 40 hours of programming and never need a video tape. They strike absolute terror in the hearts of network big shots. A study by Forrester Research estimated that our ad viewing may drop by 50% over the next 10 years with these devices. CBS, Disney and Time Warner have formed the "Advanced Copyright Coalition" and may be trying to block the new machines or force them to pay network licensing fees. I'll keep you updated as things progress.

IMAGINATIVE CINEMA FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER
SEPTEMBER 3rd: I Woke Up Early the Day I Died. This is an Ed Wood jr. script that he struggled 10 years unsuccessfully to get produced. It may be in very limited release on this date so don't show up at the mall googolplex broken hearted if you don't find it on this date. The film is all done without dialogue, mostly in pantomime. It's got an interesting cast that's a combination of Hollywood "Who's Who" and "Who Was Who." It features Billy Zane, Sandra Bernhard, Tippi Hedren, Eartha Kitt, Andrew McCarthy, Ron Perlman, Christina Ricci, Rick Schroeder and those old Wood-ites Conrad Brooks and Vampira!
SEPTEMBER 10th: Stigmata. A twentysomething woman (Patricia Arquette) suddenly becomes the victim of vicious and violent attacks from an invisible assailant. The Vatican dispatches a priest (Gabriel Byrne) to investigate. He has to confront his doubts, assist the girl and uncover the hidden agenda of his superiors.
SEPTEMBER 10th: Stir of Echoes. Kevin Bacon plays a working class guy who is hypnotized at a party. It was done as a joke. It opens up doors in his mind that allows him to see things that he doesn't want to see. Based on a 1958 Richard Mattheson novel. I caught the screening in August. I liked it. It reminded me of The Sixth Sense.
SEPTEMBER 24th: The Minus Man. A mysterious creepy drifter (Owen Wilson) moves to a small rural town where he rooms with a troubled couple (Mercedes Ruehl and Brian Cox) and woos a quirky local girl (Janeane Garofolo). People in the town suspect that it's the drifter behind the growing number of disappearances that have happened since his arrival.
The movie was written and directed by Hampton Fancher, the writer responsible for Blade Runner.
Double Jeopardy features Ashley Judd as woman wrongly imprisoned. She escapes from prison to find out what really happened to the husband that she is supposed to have killed. Tommy Lee Jones is the detective assigned to hunt her down and bring her back. Wonder if she's looking for a one-armed man?

SO JUST HOW DO THE STUDIOS MAKE THEIR MONEY?
    A study by Adams Media Research revealed some interesting numbers on how the studios earn their money. More than half of their total dollars (actually 53.4% of them) will come from video and DVD in 1999. Of the $9.18 billion in total video income $6.07 billion is from sell-through video and DVD, the remaining $3.11 billion is from rental-priced titles. Theatrical revenue will account for only 20.8% ($3.57 billion). The dominance of video and DVD started in 1993 and will continue for at least the next 6 years, according to the study. All other channels of distribution are in the single digits, led by cable at 7.5% ($1.3 billion).

GOSH, DO THEY LET THE DIRECTOR'S STILL YELL "CUT?"
    When Hollywood films came under scrutiny in the wake of the tragedy that unfolded last Spring in Littleton, Co., the studio suits wrapped themselves in flags and sang their defiant odes to the simple beauty of the First Amendment. That was for public consumption. Privately, they can't distance themselves from any appearance of violence fast enough. The Monday after the tragedy, Disney canceled their anticipated series of adaptations of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books for children. They also scratched the script based on a Stine book, Let's Kill Jennifer. New Line is re-thinking The Sky is Falling about 2 junkie priests who become convinced that there is no God and go off on a killing spree. Fox ordered a drop in the body count in their upcoming movie Homecoming: The Revenge. Kevin Smith's film, Dogma, about a pair of renegade angels on a mission to destroy the Earth, was already a political hot potato. Post-Columbine it's too incendiary for Miramax. They've dealt it to a small distributor that can take the heat. Miramax also changed the title of its new high school movie from Killing Mrs. Tingle to Teaching Mrs. Tingle. The independent film about vigilantes, The Boondock Saints, was very high profile. Now it can't cut a distribution deal anywhere. MGM is desperately searching for a new title for its upcoming, Crime and Punishment in High School. The already shot independent release, Pep Squad, in which a high school girl opens fire on campus, may be shelved permanently. The MPAA prevented Paramount from showing a headless horseman in the poster for Sleepy Hollow. They forced Miramax to delete the scene from the ad for the above mentioned Teaching Mrs. Tingle because the dog licking the wine bottle encouraged teen drinking. Artisan has had to re-work ads for The Blair Witch Project, Stir of Echoes and The Limey. At this point it's hard to know where this will all end up. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

THE COST OF A TICKET: THE BIG PICTURE
    Despite the above piece about how movies are earning back their money on ways other than box office revenue,  you couldn't tell that from the ticket prices lately. Last Spring, when area theaters in New York City spiraled up to $9.50,  frustrated New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone called on the U.S. Justice Department to investigate exhibitors for price fixing and merging their way to a monopoly. A Lowe's spokesman said in response, "In comparison to the cost of other entertainment ticket prices, moviegoing is still the most economical entertainment option." However, they continue to charge and we continue to pay. In 1988 then N.Y.C. mayor Ed Koch called on New Yorkers to refuse to patronize theaters for their outrageous $6 price. People's continued patronage of the theaters showed that they loved their movies more than their mayor. Will we hit a breaking point when we finally say that the high prices coupled with the long concession lines, long bathroom lines, endless pre-movie advertising, rude fellow patrons and sticky floors are simply not worth it any more? I dunno. Maybe.

THE COST OF A TICKET: THE BAWLMER PIXTURE
    I beg your patience for those of you who live outside the gravitational pull of the Big Crab. I did a survey of area theaters, selected at random. I checked with cinemas in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Howard County, Harford County and Carroll County. I checked for matinee price, evening price, a large popcorn and a large soft drink price. The final column is what it would cost if you and your date went to the movies and you had to shell out money for a pair of tickets while you lil' lovebirds split a large popcorn and a sodey pop. Here's what I found:
                                       MAT    EVE    POP     S/D     DATE
U.A. Marley.........................4.50.....7.00.....4.50.....3.25.....21.75
Hoyt's West Nursery Road...6.00.....8.25.....6.29.....4.50.....27.29
Lowe's White Marsh............5.25.....7.75.....4.05.....3.04.....22.59
Senator Theater....................N/A.....7.00.....5.00.....4.00.....23.00
GCC Towson Commons......4.75.....7.50.....4.00.....3.25.....22.25
RC Eastpoint........................5.00.....7.00.....4.25.....3.25.....21.50
RC Carrolltowne Mall..........5.00.....7.00.....4.25.....3.25.....21.50
Regal Cinema Bel Air 14......5.00.....7.50.....4.25.....3.25.....22.50
Lowe's Theater Columbia.....4.75.....7.25.....4.05.....3.04.....21.59
U.A. Snowden Square 14....5.00.....7.75.....4.50.....3.25.....23.25

And finally, a word of advice to you guys out there. If you're taking a babe out on a first date and you want to wow her with your financial recklessness, hop on a Concord to Tokyo. Admission there is $17.58 a ticket. On the other hand, if you want to demonstrate to your sweetheart your fiscally responsible piety climb aboard the Econo-saver to Mexico City. You can watch Santo take on Jar Jar Binks for a mere $2.52.

LIVE LONG AND GUZZLE
    In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Dr. McCoy mentioned "Altair Water." The stuff is bottled in the mountains of Altair VI and is described as ". . . the finest natural beverage in the galaxy." Apparently an Altairin trade delegation has been in touch with the Canadian Cool Clear Wtaa company and Starbase-I Coffee (a company that markets gourmet food with "Star Trek" labels). They're teaming up to make Altair Water available here in on the third planet out (mostly in the U.S. and Canadian parts of said planet). The bottles will sport "Star Trek" icons and range in size from 12oz. to 1.5 liters.

. . . AND SPEAKING OF EDIBLE TV STUFF
    Chupa Chups has struck a deal with 20th Century Fox to feature "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" logo and character images on their 20 and 120 count tins of their new "Tongue Painter" lollipops. The tins sell for $3.99 and $9.99 respectively and paints the diner's tongue either black, dark green or deep purple. The "Buffy" logo will also appear on the Fantasy Ball lollipops and a series of collectible stickers.

AND JUST WHEN I WAS GOING TO PROPOSE THAT WE START AN ICS CHAPTER IN YEMEN
    I was reading an article about film distribution in the Middle East and came upon this interesting quote. This is from  Talaat Captan, co-owner of  Prime Pictures, a film distributor out of Lebanon. "Show a horror picture and you put yourself out of business. This is a very religious market and in the Muslim religion it's not acceptable to scare people." Oh yeah? Well that scares me! He added that science fiction is also a problem, "because predicting the future is taboo" (God help us if films like Atomic Submarine and Attack of the Crab Monsters are predicting the future!). It feels so good to live in a society where we can have The Headless Ghost and The Giant Claw. . . . Say, am I too late for that flight to Yemen?

ABOUT THAT MATRIX MOVIE
    Warner Brothers has reversed themselves from an earlier announcement concerning a sell-through release of The Matrix. Out of sensitivity to the situation arising from the Columbine High School massacre, when black coated punks fired round after round of bullets into throngs of fellow students (not unlike the action in the movie), WB had decided to release a rental-priced edition of The Matrix and a sell-through DVD (a format thought to draw an older demographic) but not a sell-through video. These noble sentiments have faded now that the movie has become the third highest grossing film of the year and we have achieved a slight distancing from the horrors of Littleton, Colorado. The rental video and DVD will release in September (see below). A short nine weeks later, on November 23rd, a sell-through video will release with a minimum-advertised-price of $14.95. It will contain 26 additional minutes of footage and will be available in both pan-and-scan and widescreen version.

STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS BEFORE
    Three people are doing a documentary on a legendary supernatural figure. They tote their equipment into a remote forested area. The results are tragic. Their lost film footage is located to try to reconstruct what happened. You probably all know this as the plot of the (at one time) tiny independent film, 1999's The Blair Witch Project. Well actually I was just recounting the plot of 1998's tiny independent film, The Last Broadcast. The difference is in this one one of the people returns, dazed and blood spattered. The shreds of the bodies of his companions are found. They went into the New Jersey Pine Barrens to track down the legendary Jersey Devil. The survivor is tried and found guilty of murder. He's sentenced to prison for 2 life terms. Someone finds the footage (that they were shooting for the television show, "Fact or Fiction"). The movie is their lost footage. Until August this title was available for pre-orders on Amazon.com for $19.95. It's been withdrawn and may get re-introduced later. Starting in September it's supposed to be available exclusively at Hollywood Video as a rental video. No date was available at the time of this writing. An interesting footnote to The Last Broadcast is the size of its budget. It makes Blair Witch look like Waterworld! The Last Broadcast was made for $900.

WITCH SPAWNS I: "MOICHANDISING"
    We suddenly find ourselves hip deep in The Blair Witch Project-inspired (insert your favorite noun (a)"collectibles" (b)"stuff" (c) "crap"). There are stainless steel coffee mugs (complete with covers "that you can take in the woods"), t-shirts, caps, sweat pants, cigarette lighters, flasks, incense burners, shot glasses, dog tags (I guess in case you get lost), earrings, posters, necklaces, a book (Blair Witch Project: A Dossier) and a comic book from Oni Press. There is more stuff on the way. You'll soon see backpacks, trading cards, jackets and other ephemera hitting the market. I'm sure that it's just me, but this really seems like overkill. There is something intensely personal and private that happens inside of me when I see a good movie. When I see images from that personal encounter splashed across soap, chewing tobacco and condoms I feel like it cheapens the experience. In that spirit I now present the following:

WITCH SPAWNS II: THE MOVIE(S)
    I promise you that I have not made up any of the following titles or attached stories. I'm not that creative. There seems to be the foundation of a visceral backlash at having The Blair Witch Project overfed to us. Some folks don't seem to like feeling like Malcom McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, with our eyes forced open and made to watch the screen.
    The Blair Princess Project is written and directed by Paula Goldberg. It tells the story of three Jewish American "Princesses" (no offense intended) who get lost in the Malibu hills searching for their friend Blair's wedding.
    The Blair Hype Project is written by and stars Alanna Hamill. It follows 3 kids who get lost in the Century City Mall while trying to find a showing of The Blair Witch Project that isn't sold out.
    The Beverly Sale Project tells the story of 3 people who get lost in a parking garage after attending a 12-hour sale at a Beverly Hills Mall.
    The Watts Bitch Project is from commercial producer Alec Turkman. Three spoiled USC film students must fend for themselves while exploring the tough neighborhood of Watts in L.A. They discover the legend behind the mysterious Watts Bitch.

THE BIG BLUE SUIT THAT COULD AFFECT HOW YOU GET YOUR VIDEOS
    Do you remember how, not so long ago, when you decided to rent or buy a video you had plenty of choices to make about where to go? There were, as there are now, plenty of large chains to consider. But there were also a number of small "mom & pop" video stores to patronize. Many of the small independently owned video stores have been strangled by the chains. They're closing around the country at a dizzying pace. Those that haven't are forced to live on the margins, living off of revenue from adult rentals and sales and late fees. A small group of stores in Texas have formed an alliance called "F.A.I.R." (Fairness Alliance of Independent Retailers). They have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Blockbuster Video (a.k.a. "Big Blue") and six major Hollywood studios alleging that special deals for chains have created unfair competition against small retailers. Blockbuster (which now controls 31% of the video rental market) has dismissed the suit as being "without merit" and has vowed to "vigorously defend itself." Both state and federal lawsuits have been filed. To call this "David and Goliath" doesn't quite get the scale. This is more like a dust mote vs. the planet Jupiter. At stake is the future of the video industry. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

DOES DVD STAND FOR "DISNEY VIDEO DISCS?"
    Buena Vista Home Entertainment (a.k.a. "Disney") announced that they'll be releasing many of their classic animation features on DVD this Fall for limited 60 day periods. When the 60 days is up the titles will go on moratorium and will be re-issued when the associated video 10 year moratorium on each title is expired. They'll each sell for $34.95. The titles are Pinocchio on Oct. 26; 101 Dalmatians, Hercules and Mulan on Nov. 11; Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan and Lion King II: Simba's Pride on November 23; and The Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid on Dec. 7. I'll issue reminders as we approach those months.

VIDEOCY
Rental titles releasing 9/7: Crow: Stairway to Heaven, based on the television show, will be out today. . . . Sometimes They Come Back for More with Faith Ford, Clayton Rohner and Chase Masterson releases today. It's about the unsettling investigation by 2 military officers of a mysterious outbreak in a remote Arctic base. . . . Twin Dragons offers up a double dose of Jackie Chan as 2 seperated-at-birth twins reuniting as adults and getting in trouble. . . . Embrace of the Vampire features Alyssa Milano as a college student being seduced by a vampire in her dreams. . . . In the movie The Mangler our main character, who works for the Blue Ribbon Laundry, becomes convinced that the industrial steam ironer is demonically possessed.
Rental title releasing 9/14: Fugitive Mind, with Michael Dudikoff and Heather Langenkaap comes out today. A man with severe memory loss discovers that his mind has been programmed to carry out brutal crimes. . . .  Erotic Ghost Story is a sensual supernatural tale based on Chinese fables. . . . The Corrupter has been delayed from its original August 10th release. Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg team up as New York Chinatown cops, each with hidden agendas. . . . Mutant Man features a group of tourists harassed by cannibalistic clan of inbred farmers when their mobile home strands them in the wilderness.
Rental titles releasing 9/21: The main character in Razor Blade Smile is described as being "part assassin, part seductress and all vampire." . . . Ravenous features Guy Pearce, David Carlyle and David Arquette. During the Mexican-American War, the inhabitants of an isolated fort go up against a marauding band of cannibals. . . . The Thirteenth Floor has Craig Bierko, Vincent D'Onofrio, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Gretchen Mol involved in a murder mystery that bridges parallel dimensions. . . . As mentioned previously, The Matrix releases today. The rental video will contain the theatrical release. The DVD (for $24.98) has additional scenes shot specifically for  the DVD. It also contains 700 story boards. It will be on DVD-ROM which means it can be played on some computers, allowing special access to certain internet-only features. They expect to sell 1,000,000 units, making this the biggest DVD release in history. . . . For those of you who have a taste for slightly artier fare, try Lulu on the Bridge. A small stone with supernatural powers unites a despondent Brooklyn jazz musician (Harvey Keitel) and an aspiring actress (Mira Sorvino) while an omniscient sinister stranger (Willem Dafoe) demands that the stone be turned over to him. . . . Full Moon Releasing gives us the horror title Totem today. Six teens become part of a terrifying ritual. Three become killers and the others become their victims. . . . Also from Full Moon is Teen Sorcery with a modern-day sleeping beauty when a girl is subjected to a spell by a witch. . . . And for full-on edge of your seat thrills see Full Moon's Shandra: The Jungle Girl. Four biologists search for the deadly and elusive Shandra in the Brazillian jungle. How does she kill her prey? Come on people. This is a Full Moon production! How else? She "pleasures" them to death. Gosh, hope she doesn't do that when she hunting for food!
Rental titles releasing 9/28: Kolobos is about a down-on-her-luck actress who is haunted by horrific visions. When she answers a classified ad to travel to a remote cabin to appear with 4 other actors in an experimental film, her visions become a reality as each is the would-be stars is gruesomely murdered one at a time. The DVD is available for $24.98.
Sell through titles releasing 9/7: Jason Goes to Hell starts with Jason being blown up by an F.B.I. task force. He's reborn with the ability to assume the identity of anyone that he touches. You can own it for $14.95. . . . In Campfire Tales 4 teens crash their car and gather around the campfire awaiting rescue. They tell scary stories to pass the time, forming the premise for this anthology movie. Yours for $19.95. . . . Leatherface is at it again! A pair of college students driving coast-to-coast are lured down a deserted dirt road in Texas, only to be stalked by Leatherface and family. You can witness the family fun for $14.98. . . . Today's seems to mark old home week. We've got Jason, Leatherface and now Freddy Krueger! For $14.98 each you can pick up Nightmare on Elm Street 1-5 plus Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and Wes Craven's New Nightmare. Or you may want the box set with all 7 films for $89.98. Each title's been digitally re-mastered and contains the original theatrical trailer and an interview with the director. The DVD will be released as a DVD-ROM. If you have a computer equipped to handle it, this option will open up new game and internet possibilities. . . . Another old friend, Rod Serling, stops by. "The Twilight Zone" releases 3 volumes at 2 episodes each. They're $9.98 each or the box set for $24.98.
Sell through titles releasing 9/14: Two big animation titles release today. First the 1968 Beatles' surreal classic, Yellow Submarine,  gets re-introduced. The title has been unavailable for 10 years because of a dispute between Apple Records and United Artists (the 1988 VHS recently sold on e-Bay for $150). The DVD includes Mod Odyssey (a "making of" documentary done 30 years ago), director and producer commentaries, a digital animation gallery and a behind-the-scenes photo gallery. On the same day Capitol will be releasing a remastered and remixed soundtrack album with 15 Beatles songs featured in the movie (the original album only had 6 Beatles songs) You can cheer for Pepperland's struggle against the Blue Meanies on VHS for $19.95 or DVD for $29.98. . . . Dreamworks' biblical epic of the relationship between Moses and the Pharroh, The Prince of Egypt hits the streets today for $26.99.
Sell through titles releasing 9/21: Jim Henson Studios releases a pair today. The Dark Crystal from 1982 and Labyrinth from 1986. Both are $14.95. . . . My Favorite Martian, with Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Daniels  is available for $22.99.
Sell through titles releasing 9/28: The Mummy, with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, hits today. The VHS is $22.98. The DVD comes in widescreen and full frame at $29.98. . . . Releasing on DVD only today is Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It will not have any majors bells or whistles added. . . . Anchor Bay's newly restored version of Halloween hits today. The video sells for $14.98 and includes the featurette "Halloween Unmasked 2000." The DVD also has the theatrical trailers, television spots, radio spots, a still and poster gallery, a behind-the-scene gallery of photos, cast bios and  It sells for $19.95. . . . In celebration of its 60th anniversary, Max Fleischer's 1939 animated feature version of Jonathan Swift's 1726 classic, Gulliver's Travels, will be released on VHS and DVD. The movie is duplicated from a high resolution digital print. The disc includes the original on-site report from Max Fleischer's Miami studios featuring all phases of the cartoon's development and staff interviews, 250 photos from this and other Fleischer productions, a gallery of magazine articles and reviews from 1939 and 1940 and 2 original "Gabby" cartoons spun off from the movie. The video is $14.95 and the DVD is $19.95. . . . The repriced I Still Know What You Did Last Summer will become available today. You can buy it $14.95 or as part of a twin pack with the original for $29.95. . . . The 1997 film, Habit, also releases today. A young New Yorker begins to wonder if the new woman in his life is a vampire. The VHS is $14.98, $24.98 for the DVD.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
    On August 4th VICTOR MATURE died at his home in Rancho Santo Fe at the age of 86. He had a long and storied career. He was born in Louisville, Ky. on January 29, 1915 to Austrian immigrants. He went to Hollywood in the late 1930's to try his hand at acting. He studied at the Pasadena Playhouse while living in a pup tent and surviving on canned fish and chocolate bars. He made his screen debut in 1940 with One Million B.C. (remade as One Million Years B.C. in 1966 with Racquel Welch). His brawny physique and heavy-lidded eyes drove fans wild. He was the actor for whom the term "hunk" was first coined (shortened from "a beautiful hunk of a man"). He may have done his best work for John Ford in 1946 when he played the consumptive Doc Holliday in My Darling Clementine. But he may best be remembered for his sword and sandal movies. He starred in Samson and Delilah (1949), The Robe (1953), Androcles and the Lion (1953) and Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954). At the age of 46 he announced "I've made a lot of money and I want to enjoy it and play golf." With a few exceptions that's just what he did. He made his final screen appearance in 1984 in a TV re-make of Samson and Delilah. In this one he played Samson's father. Looking back on his life in the movies he once cracked "I'm no actor and I've made 64 movies to prove it." When he finally succumbed in his three year battle with cancer he was surrounded by his wife, Lorey and his daughter, Victoria.
    On August 7th a man with a familiar face and little known name passed away. In little more than 25 years of his career Brion James was a busy man. He appeared in over 120 films over and 100 TV shows. He may best be remembered as the replicant "Leon" in Bladerunner (1982). His other genre' work included Enemy Mine (1985), The Horror Show (1989), The Mutator (1991), Frogtown II (1993), Future Shock (1993), Nemesis (1993), Time Runner (1993), Scanner Cop (1994),  Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills (1994), Knight Rider 2010 (1994), Cyberjack (1995) and The Fifth Element (1997). His TV work included episodes of "Tales From the Crypt," "M.A.N.T.I.S.," "Highlander," "Lois & Clark," "Millenium," and "The Sentinel." He died of a heart attack at 54.
    On August 14th David Allen died at the age of 54 after a long illness. You may not know the name but you've seen his work. He was a special effects photographer, specializing in stop-motion animation. He got his start with Hammer's 1970 film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. If you've ever seen Equinox (1971), Flesh Gordon (1972), The Howling (1980), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), The Hunger (1983), Puppetmaster II (1990) or nearly any movie that's needed stop motion animation in the last 20 years you've seen his work. Like many of the stop-motion artists he never liked the computer-generated images filling the screen today. He felt that those monsters lack "the human touch." He died before he finished work on his own film, a stop-motion extravaganza called The Primevals.

SEPTEMBER CALENDAR
 

WED 1ST: TV-The final schedule episode of "Crusade" airs on TNT

FRI 3RD: MOVIES-I Woke Up Early the Day I Died premieres

SUN 5TH:TV-Cold Lazarus airs on Bravo at 1A.M.

TUE 7TH:RENTAL VIDEO-Crow: Stairway to Heaven,  Sometimes They Come Back for More, Twin Dragons,
                Embrace of the Vampire and The Mangler release today
                 SELL THROUGH VIDEO- Jason Goes to Hell, Campfire Tales, Leatherface, Nightmare on Elm
                 Street 1-5, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare,Wes Craven's New Nightmare.and 3 volumes of  "The
                 Twilight Zone" release today.

FRI 10TH: MOVIES-Stigmata premieres
                  Stir of Echoes premieres
                  TV-"The Hunger" season 2 premieres

SUN 12TH: TV-"MST3K" final new episode debuts
                    EVENT-Orpheum Cinema benefit at The Charles

TUE 14TH:TV-"Journey to the Center of the Earth, part I" airs
                  RENTAL VIDEO- Fugitive Mind, Erotic Ghost Story, The Corrupter and Mutant Man release today.
                  SELL-THROUGH VIDEO- Yellow Submarine and The Prince of Egypt release today.

WED 15TH:TV-"Journey to the Center of the Earth, part II" airs

TUE 21ST:TV-"3rd Rock From the Sun" season 5 premieres
                  RENTAL VIDEO-Razor Blade Smile, Ravenous, The Thirteenth Floor, The Matrix, Lulu on the
                  Bridge,Totem, Teen Sorcery and Shandra: The Jungle Girl release today
                  SELL-THROUGH VIDEO- The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and My Favorite Martian release today.

WED 22ND-TV-"Star Trek: Voyager" season 6 premieres

FRI 24TH:MOVIES-The Minus Man premieres
                  Double Jeopardy premieres

SAT 25TH:ICS MEETING
                  TV:"Early Edition" season 4 premieres
                        "The Pretender" season 4 premieres
                        "The Profiler" season 4 premieres

SUN 26TH:TV-"Futurama" season 2 premieres

TUE 28TH-RENTAL VIDEO- Kolobos releases today.
                   SELL-THROUGH VIDEO-The Mummy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (on DVD), Halloween,
                   Gulliver's Travels, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and Habit release today.

WED 29TH:TV-"7 Days" season 2 premieres

THU 30TH:TV-"Charmed" season 2 premieres