#63 April 2004



April: Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2004.
May 28-31: BALTICON 38 
June 4-6: Moonlight Rising 2004
July 9-11: Shore Leave 26

Review by G.R.



MOVIE REVIEW  by Dava Sentz

By Gary Roberson

April 2nd     HELLBOY 
April 16th    KILL BILL 2 
April 16th     THE PUNISHER 
May 14th     TROY
May 21st      SHREK 2


YOU’VE GOT “GMAIL” ?  by Chaz


Julius Schwartz
John Randolph
Joe Viterelli

Review and/or Post it on the fridge

Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, Taylor Sherblom Woodward, Mike Laird, Jeanne Matcovich, Gary Roberson, Charles Wittig, Joe Plempel, John Ward, Jim Childs, Dava Sentz, Mike Schilling

    And this time it was not with a sharp object.  Instead, she serenaded Gary Roberson to open his surprise 50th Birthday party. 
   Gary did not even realize that he was the subject of her rendition of Happy Birthday until his mother, Ruth, told him.  Talk about shocked!  Balloons, a lunch platter, cake and ice cream materialized afterwards to round out the party atmosphere. 
 The party was courtesy of Mrs. Roberson, with lots of leg work from Barry Murphy (who also provided the great Betsy Palmer tape) and various other board members.  Thanks to all who helped put the party together (and thanks to all of the club members who were able to keep the secret!)
 And Happy 50th Gary!  We’re glad to have celebrated with you!

 The last meeting was a busy one for birthdays. There was another club member that had a spring birthday.  Don’t forget to wish him a happy one when you see him!
  Barry Murphy – March 29th 

    Once again, The Brains from Planet Arous, The Headless Ghosts and The Brains That Wouldn’t Die faced off in the TV Trivia version of ICS Academic.  Proving that you don’t need a skull to play this game, the Headless Ghosts, consisting of Betsy Childs, Jim Childs, Norman Prentiss, and John Weber, scrambled the Brains. 
     John Weber, the 2003 Champ, was the ultimate winner in final death round.  Congrats John and Congrats Team Ghost!
 You know it had to be a good game when 2 visitors decided to join in!
 And John Ward ably filled in as MC.  Thank you John for being so calm, collected, and in control.  And muchas gracias to Hendo and Joe Plempel for helping out also.

 If you were paying attention, you’d know that Gary Roberson was born in 1954!  Also, several of our favorite imaginative cinema was also born in 1954.   Treats like THEM!, GOG, TARGET EARTH, GODZILLA, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA and the evening’s winner REAR WINDOW.  Did Jimmy Stewart really see Raymond Burr murder his wife?  Or was it just an overactive imagination?   ICS members found out as they enjoyed this first rate Hitchcock thriller.
 The film and presentation were courtesy of John Ward.  Thanks, John, for making the 1954 connection! 

 Thanks to Troy Farwell (and our night owl Joe Plempel) for bringing in clips from the upcoming LOTR trilogy DVD spectular.  Club members had a great time socializing and watching the clips. 

 Seems like all of that festivity paid off.  Our newest member is John Erb, all the way from Manheim, Pennsylvania.  This was John’s second meeting.
 We look forward to having you as a member, John!

 Looks like we have another spouse on-board.  David Dellman renewed with a family membership, which included his wife, Janis. 
 Welcome, Janis.  We hope to see you at a meeting soon! 

 Mike Cregar and Kevin Flynn were present to give us more information on Cinemedia.  It is a convention scheduled for September 17-19 at the Timonium Days Inn.  There will be dealers, props (the TALKING Knight Rider car, ALIENS pulse rifles), guests (a PHANTOM expert, amongst others) and a film room.  They were soliciting help for the film room, registration and security.  We are trying to work a deal with them to use our projector and supply volunteers in exchange for free admission for the workers.
 If you are interested, please email a board member or look for the sign up sheet at the next meeting. 

 The theme for the 2004 calendar is TV Shows of the 60’s and is now available.   The calendar is $15 (or make your best offer!) and we have 5 remaining.  If you want one, please see Regina.  There’s a printing error in the calendar that makes it one of a kind.

 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday April 24th at 5:30 P.M. 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 443-570-6455. That's Dave Willard’s cell phone. He'll talk you in. 

  Reknowned film historian and author Greg Mank is coming to the April meeting.  He will give a talk and show the Karloff film, THE BODY SNATCHER. This should be a special meeting.  Mr. Mank has lots of film anecdotes and is a great speaker, so be prepared for an enjoyable evening!

tvnewstvnewstvnewstvnewstvnewstvTHE GLASS TEATnewstvnewstvnewstvnewstvnewstvnews
   There is a rumor that UPN will green-light a fourth season of Star Trek: ENTERPRISE, but will only give the struggling SF series a 12-episode commitment. ENTERPRISE could earn another 12-episode order if the ratings for the initial dozen episodes merit it.
   The retooled ENTERPRISE, bolstered by heightened action and the Xindi arc, has performed reasonably well against such stiff competition as the Fox juggernaut AMERICAN IDOL and The WB's popular SMALLVILLE. It was still unclear whether or not longtime Trek executive producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga would continue to run the show if it does return. A final announcement about the fate of ENTERPRISE is expected within the next two weeks.

   Christopher Eccleston (Shallow Grave) will become the ninth Doctor Who in the upcoming BBC update of the classic SF TV series. The cult BBC show returns next year.
   Eccleston, who starred alongside Nicole Kidman in the horror movie THE OTHERS, will be the ninth TV Time Lord to control the Tardis in a 13-part series. The BBC said the British-born actor would take "a fresh, modern approach."
   Doctor Who has been played previously by William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann. DOCTOR WHO originally ran for 26 years, from 1963 to 1989, and the new series will be filmed in Cardiff later this year.

   Robert Picardo, who made a memorable guest appearance in two episodes of this season's STARGATE SG-1, said that he has been asked back to reprise the character of investigative lawyer Woolsey next year. "I appeared twice on STARGATE, and they've contacted me about some more," Picardo said.
   This year, Picardo played Woolsey, who works for Sen. (and now vice president) Kinsey, played by Ronny Cox. "He has his mind turned around and starts to feel that maybe he's been the henchman of an evil character," Picardo said. "So I'm about to turn on my original employer and investigate him. What's fun is, it's always nice to play a sympathetic character, especially to go from a character who seems to be very creepy and evil at first, and then to have his conscience transformed. It's been a nice journey so far."
   Picardo, best known for playing the Doctor on STAR TREK: VOYAGER, said he's pleased that the guest shot may turn into something more recurring. "I think they like me," he said. "And I certainly like them. They're a great cast. And they apparently have wanted to have me on for some time, so it was nice that it worked out. And I think they like the fact that they can give me seven pages of solid dialogue and a shooting day, and I manage. ... That old [Star Trek] technobabble brain of mine is still functioning."

Sarah Michelle Gellar will not be resurrecting Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the finale of The WB spinoff series ANGEL after all. Gellar was reportedly asked to appear in the second-to-last episode, airing May 5, but was working on her upcoming supernatural movie THE GRUDGE while that hour was being shot.
   Gellar was free to appear in the finale, which airs May 19, but ANGEL executive producer Joss Whedon said that he didn't want the send-off to "revolve around a guest star." “I want to end the show with the people who've been in the trenches together, the characters who have lived-and occasionally died-together: the regulars."
   The May 5 episode will reportedly resolve the Angel-Spike-Buffy triangle, though producers said. "Angel and Spike arrive at an understanding," said executive producer Jeffrey Bell. "And without her being involved, Buffy's character has come to some sort of understanding, too."

   ABC is moving its struggling Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital to 9 p.m. ET/PT Thursdays from its current Wednesday timeslot, starting in April. The supernatural series has seen its ratings drop in the four weeks since its premiere.
   The highly promoted 13-part drama from horrormeister King was touted by ABC as a key to its midseason comeback strategy, and top executives of ABC's parent, The Walt Disney Co., have been under fire from shareholders who claim they have mismanaged the company.
   After a promising two-hour debut March 3, the thriller has declined steadily in both overall audience and the key demographic of viewers aged 18 to 49. Last week, the show averaged just 5.6 million viewers overall and a meager 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic, down 57 percent in both categories from its premiere.
   ABC plans to air a fifth episode of Kingdom Hospital on a Wednesday (March 31) before moving the show to its new Thursday berth the following week, opposite CBS' C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation and NBC's The Apprentice.

   Parker Posey has signed on to star in the USA Network drama FRANKENSTEIN, an update of Mary Shelley's classic SF novel. The network gave the green light to a two-hour pilot and four scripts.
   Martin Scorsese, author Dean Koontz and Flame TV topper Tony Krantz are executive producing. Marcus Nispel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) is set to direct the pilot, from a script by Koontz. 
   Former The X-Files executive producer John Shiban has been tapped to serve as show runner/executive producer of the upcoming drama FRANKENSTEIN. Shiban has also executive produced UPN's Star Trek: ENTERPRISE and Fox's THE LONE GUNMEN.
   Posey will play a female cop who unravels the myth of Frankenstein, alongside her partner, through a seemingly standard homicide investigation. The series will find doctor Victor Frankenstein and his creature residing in present-day Seattle, having survived the past two centuries through the doctor's genetic tinkering. Casting for Victor, the creature and the partner of Posey's character is still under way.
USA Network is owned by Vivendi Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

April of 2004: Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2004.
For information about submitting films, check out the submissions page.
Please note that the submission address and JHFF phone number have changed since last year. The fest will be held during.
Exact dates will be posted as April approaches. 
Prices : $3 – Show   $5 - Day Pass   $15 - Festival Pass
*Free admission for JHU students, faculty, and employees with valid Hopkins ID..

May 28-31 2004: BALTICON 38 At the Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel.
Maryland's Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention
Guest of Honor: Lois McMaster Bujold
Artist Guest of Honor: Dave Seeley
Music Guest of Honor: Heather Alexander

June 4-6: Moonlight Rising 2004: A Con for all you Buffy Fans
Split Rock Resort, Lake Harmony, PA
Guests: James Marsters ("Spike"), Anthony Stewart Head ("Giles"), Andy Hallett ("Lorne"), Danny Strong ("Jonathan"), Tom Lenk ("Andrew"), Adam Busch ("Warren")

July 9-11: Shore Leave 26, Hunt Valley, MD

July 30-August 1: Otakon 2004, The Baltimore Convention Center

August 13-15: Horrorfind, Hunt Valley, MD.
Guests include: George Romero, Adrienne Barbeau, Jeffrey Combs
and a boat load of more celebrity guests

            Review by G.R.

     We’ve   all heard the ad line “If you only see one movie this year...”, and the same can apply to this new treasure, just released in the U.S. by Billboard Books - “If you only buy one book this year...”
     There have been several fine books out on the career and films of Harryhausen, including Ray’s own Film Fantasy Scrapbook and Jeff Rovin’s From the Land Beyond Beyond, but up until now, the subject has never been given the deluxe treatment it so richly deserves.
     Originally published in Great Britain in 2003, Ray Harryhausen - An Animated Life does for his marvelous career what the Abrams Co. has done for books on the cinema in the past. In hardcover, this beautiful “coffee table” book is 9 ½" by 11 ½" , 304 pages long, and with an astonishing   366   color  and 691   black and white illustrations!
     Written by Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, this massive tome covers every aspect of Ray’s career, and reveals in frame by frame detail all the secrets behind the incredible creations that have stirred the imaginations of countless fans the world over, and at least a few I.C.S. members.  Jam packed with movie stills, poster reproductions and original artwork and photos  from Ray’s personal archives, the book reveals some fascinating insight into scenes and ideas that never made it into the final films. For example, a gigantic mining machine that Captain Nemo had constructed and was using in the Nautilus’ cavern in MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, and so on.
     CGI effects are the product of a thousand nameless technicians in companies like Industrial Light and Magic, and the results are incredible to be sure - but to an old sci-fi/fantasy geek like me, there’s just something missing - the “magic” of pioneers like Willis O’Brien, George Pal, and of course the subject of this book, Mr. Harryhausen. 
    If you have any fond memories of such films as JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, VALLEY OF THE GWANGI, THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, and so on...THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU!!!!   Priced at a hefty $50 , but worth every dollar, it’s available at most fine book emporiums. However, if you’re smart and have the means, you can order it from Amazon.com for $35, with free shipping & handling and no tax!!!!   Now that’s SUPERDYNARAMA!!!!!

Manga news from Taylor Sherblom Woodward

This month another publisher gets into the manga business. This time it’s Del Rey, the science fiction division of Random House, as part of their deal with Kodansha. If you sign up for their newsletter at their website, you’ll get a nice little explanation of  some of the history of manga and the trend of it being released in the US. They’re all retailing for a price of 10.95.

Showing their good taste in titles, they have two by Clamp, both of which involve extensive character crossovers from previous Clamp works. “Tsubasa RESERVior Chronicles, which uses characters from  “Card Captor Sakura” to tell an adventure story about the young magician Syaoran Lee and the princess of Clow, Sakura. Also being released is “xxxHOLIC” which has a title that leads us to believe that it’s about something else (like perhaps the adventures of the good-nature pervert Hideki of “Chobits…). But in reality, “xxxHOLIC” is about a young man who is haunted by visions and goes to a witch named Yuuko for help, and in return he has to work in her freaky store and help with her freakier customers. This series also crosses over with the Tsubasa Chronicles; apparently the ladies of clamp are clearly trying to confuse us. (Or boost sales, but it’s not like they need the help).

Previously at the center of some controversy was “Negima! Master Negi Magi” by Ken Akumatsu (“Love Hina”). Del Rey was hoping to draw in some Harry Potter fans with this title about a young magician who goes to Japan to teach English in an all girls school. However Del Rey panicked when they noticed Akumatsu’s tendencies to have some fan-servicey mild nudity (nothing to explicit, everything important is covered), so they asked the author to touch up some panels. This would have gone unnoticed until it’s release if 
not for an American fan who was able to translate Akumatsu’s blog where he mentioned the touch ups. The news made it’s way to the animeondvd.com forums where a massive fan outcry led Del Rey to reconsider. So now Negima is being shrink-wrapped and labeled as being for ages 16 and up.

“It's not you Bernie. I guess I'm just not used to being chased around
a mall at night by killer robots.” -Linda- CHOPPING MALL (1986)

 “ Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A
small child is even better, but not NEARLY as effective as the right kind of
adult.” -Lord Summerisle -THE WICKER MAN (1973)

 “The only person who could miss with this gun is the sucker with the
bread to buy it.” -Peter- DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

If any ICS members would like to share their view on a recent book that they’ve read – fiction or non-fiction, please email it  attn betsy at ICSBETSPOTS@aol.com.

We are a cinema club, but many movies we watch were started in book form with our own imaginations creating the images that come to life in the films we love.
   Ron Perlman, who stars as the title character in the upcoming comic-book adaptation HELLBOY, said that the finished film exceeded his highest expectations. "Wow," he said "How cool. It's more so when you're involved in it. It's the most it can be when you're the title character."
   Perlman was the first choice to play Hellboy for del Toro, the film's director, and Mike Mignola, creator of the original comic book. Upon meeting to discuss the movie, HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola and director Guillermo del Toro decided to reveal to each other their choice for the lead role of Hellboy. They both said at the same time, “Ron Perlman.”
   HELLBOY director Guillermo del Toro fought a long battle for him to play the title demon-gone-good in his big-screen adaptation of the Dark Horse comic book. "Guillermo could have made the movie on many occasions if he wasn't hellbent on having Ron Perlman play Hellboy," the actor said. "There was such a magical coming together of forces along the way that made this so sweet for me and for Guillermo."
   Perlman said that he had no trouble identifying with the big red guy. "Let's examine, if you will, what Hellboy does in this film," Perlman said. "He drinks beer. He smokes cigars. He f--ks around with the guys he works with to the point where he drives them up the wall. He's a wiseass. He's a wisecracking dude. He trash-talks the people that he's fighting against for life or death. He's constantly in this kind of mode like, 'Is that all you've got?' There's nothing similar to him [in] me."
   In HELLBOY, Perlman plays a demon conjured by the Nazis, but raised by a kindly professor to protect the world from evil as an agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. 
   For the actor, the character was not only personally gratifying, but also reminiscent of one of his most notable roles: Vincent in the 1980s television series BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. "It's weird that I got to play the Beast, and it's also weird that I got to play Hellboy," he said. "Although, maybe not so weird, because, you know, there's my whole life, particularly the real early years, growing up, finding a way to manage what I felt was monstrous about myself. ... Grappling with what I thought was monstrous about me was ultimately the most defining thing about who I ended up being in life. And I have a true attraction to the people who are grappling with that problem." 

   Pierce Brosnan said that he is willing to play James Bond in one more film, but that he has not signed for it yet. "They know where to find me," Brosnan. "If it's meant to be, then great. If not, that's fine."
   Brosnan's contract was for four films, the last of which was DIE ANOTHER DAY. As development stalls on the 21st 007 adventure, Brosnan remains pessimistic. "There seems to be a certain amount of paralysis that has set in here, paralysis of producers," he said. Should they overcome this paralysis, Brosnan said that his fifth Bond film would definitely be his last.
   "I'm 50 years of age now," Brosnan said. "I think there comes a point where you just say I've been there. I've done it. The ones that I've done are very successful. There has been a progression within my work there, an assuredness and confidence. So if there's to be a fifth, then great."

   David Koepp, who wrote the script to ZATHURA, said that the JUMANJI sequel is an all-new adventure with a new board game. "It's completely different, most notably in that it sends the [characters'] house into outer space," Koepp said. "It doesn't really play like a sequel. [It's just a] similar idea-kids find a board game that leads them on an adventure-but that's about where the similarities end."
   Koepp added that none of the characters from JUMANJI will return. "I think [Columbia Pictures is] not really concerned that it play like a sequel," he said. "It stands up pretty well on its own. The original was [almost] 10 years ago now, so I don't think they're really pursuing that."
   The film is based on the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, which is only 32 pages long, so Koepp had to embellish the story to feature length. "I burned through most of the ideas in the first 20 pages," he said. "There's a lot of invention that was called for."
Jon Favreau will direct the film, and based on their first meeting, Koepp is excited for the final product. "I think he's very funny and has a wonderful human touch which is just what this needs," he said. Preproduction is still underway and casting has not yet begun on ZATHURA

   Jennifer Tilly, who stars in the upcoming horror film SEED OF CHUCKY said that the sequel is a movie-within-a-movie, in which she plays herself as well as her character from the previous CHUCKY installment. Tilly said that she recorded the voice of the murderous doll Tiffany and even improvised some tongue-in-cheek remarks about her own career.
   "I have Tiffany say, 'I think Miss Tilly's career is very underrated,'" Tilly said. "'I saw her in this movie where she played an Eskimo ... and she looked really cold. She's a really good actress.' Tilly even mocked her own weight problems. In one scene, the dolls struggle to drag the unconscious bodies of Tilly and her boyfriend. "They're huffing and puffing, and Chucky goes, 'This is the worst part about being a doll, when you have to move the body.' And I go, 'What the f--k are you complaining about? I've got the fat one.'"
   To distinguish the two characters, Tilly altered her speaking voice for the doll. "I made Tiffany have a little more of a dolly voice, like a baby doll voice, and then I have Jennifer do more of a deeper, movie-star voice."

   Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson and Rutger Hauer have joined the cast of Warner Brothers' upcoming BATMAN BEGINS movie. Christopher Nolan is directing the latest installment in the comic-book film franchise.
   Wilkinson plays Falcone, one of the leading crime figures in Gotham City. Hauer portrays Earle, a business contemporary of Bruce Wayne's murdered father, who has designs on the Wayne corporate empire.
   The actors join Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Michael Caine as Wayne's trusted butler, Alfred; Katie Holmes as a childhood friend of Wayne's; Liam Neeson as Wayne's mentor, Henri Ducard; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, a former board member and sidelined employee of Wayne Enterprises; Gary Oldman as Lt. James Gordon; and Ken Watanabe as the villainous Ra's Al Ghul.  Phew lots to keep track of there.

   Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine are in talks to join the cast of BEWITCHED, Columbia Pictures' upcoming big-screen adaptation of the classic 1960s fantasy TV show. Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell star in the movie. MacLaine would play Endora, meddling mother to witch Samantha (Kidman), a part originally played by Agnes Moorehead. Caine would star as Samantha's loving father.
   Red Wagon partners Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher are producing the movie, which begins shooting this summer. Nora Ephron and her sister Delia are co-writing the script.

   Sony has moved up the release date of SPIDER-MAN 2 to June 30 from July 2 in a move to maximize box-office receipts over the July 4 holiday weekend. Sony made the surprise announcement at a ShoWest session promoting the sequel to 2002's action blockbuster.
   The studio also confirmed its intent to shoot a third installment in the comic-book movie franchise. The original SPIDER-MAN opened over a three-day May weekend with a then-record $114.8 million.

   Jake Gyllenhaal is reportedly Kevin Smith's first choice to play Britt Reid/Green Hornet in the writer-director's upcoming film version of THE GREEN HORNET. Smith reportedly met with Gyllenhaal about assuming the lead role in the Miramax production.
   Other actors are still in the running, but that Gyllenhaal apparently fits Smith's conception of the character. Gyllenhaal is no stranger to genre fare, having starred in Donnie Darko and the upcoming apocalyptic drama THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW.

   Kevin Smith, who is developing the original SF comedy movie RANGER DANGER AND THE DANGER RANGERS said that the project has been delayed, along with other projects, now that he has accepted the job helming THE GREEN HORNET.
   Smith added that he wanted more practice making a big-budget movie before tackling the proposed space opera. "It'll probably be nice to work up to RANGER DANGER a little more," he said. "I think GREEN HORNET is a nice rehearsal for it, because RANGER DANGER is a big-budget sci-fi movie. But it'd be nice to try out a big-budget movie before that so I don't f--k up my own."
   Scott Mosier, Smith's longtime producer, added that the writer-director is ready to handle big-budget projects. "Any time you start spending money, working on stages a lot [with] all the CGI and stuff like that, it's all just a matter of taking the experience and allowing it to get bigger without getting overwhelmed," Mosier said.

   Jack Black has joined Naomi Watts in Peter Jackson's upcoming KING KONG remake. Black will play Carl Denham, the struggling showman and movie producer who captures the great ape on his native Skull Island and then brings him back to New York as a freak show attraction. Universal Pictures will release KING KONG Dec. 14, 2005.
   Jackson returned to his native New Zealand to start preproduction on KONG after LOTR:ROTK picked up 11 Academy Awards. He said, "I've been wanting to work with Jack Black ever since I saw him in HIGH FIDELITY. I have no doubt Jack will make [Carl Denham] a truly memorable character."

   Who says “Sand and Sandals” movies don’t make money? Mel Gibson, who put up $30 million of his own money to make THE PASSION OF CHRIST, is looking at receiving up to $400 million for his movie. 
   His take shakes out this way; $108 million from projected domestic box office sales; $100 million from foreign box office; $100 million-plus from DVD and video sales; $20 million from the TV rights; $10 million from CD sales; and several million more from licensing deals, which then slides down to things like mugs and jewelry. 
   Yep- jewelry. For example, they are selling replica crucifixion nails attached to a cord to be hung around the neck; comes in two sizes for $12.99 and $16. These nails also come in a keyring and a zipper pull. That’s thinking.

   Halle Berry is not pussy-footing around! 
   Fans of DC Comic’s CATWOMAN are wondering why her character is Patience Price and not Selina Kyle. Well, turns out there’s a whole litter of Catwomen! It’s not just one avenging female. 
   In the new movie, CATWOMAN reference is made to the “Catwoman out on the East Coast”, while she is a “West Coast” Catwoman. Berry says her Catwoman is more urban, more gritty than Michelle Pfeiffer’s. Maybe that’s why her costume is so raggedy looking? Nothing like open toed heels for climbing around rooftops!

   Get out your Captain Midnight decoder rings! Jude Law and Angelina Jolie fly the Friendly Skies in SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. Opening June 25th, this looks like a pulp fiction kind of story, similar to Barry Murphy’s beloved serials. The plot involves the kidnapping of some world famous scientists by the evil Dr. Totenkampf (that’s “Death’s Struggle”, for our readers whoze don’t knowen-sie der German). A savvy reporter, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, is on hand to help out our Sky Captain. He’s also assisted by Jolie, the leader of an all-female group of Marines! Will Dr. Totenkampf destroy the world? Will Sky Captain and his motley yet shapely crew save the world? Or will this go the way of other 1930s period pics like “The Shadow” and “The Rocketeer”? We’ll see this summer!


An Eternal Sunshine  -  review by: Dava Sentz

 Life is not always perfect. Everyone who walks this Earth has a story, a series of memories that make up their existence. Very often, these events will shape the person we will ultimately become. It goes without saying, however, that there is at least one incident, one unfortunate detail of the past that we would do almost anything to forget. To say, "I would give anything to take that back." is an easy phrase to roll off the tongue. But, if ever given the opportunity, would you really want to take it all back? Could you honestly erase a portion of your memory, and go on living as if it never took place? I found myself faced with that very same question, as I watched Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Elijah Wood in the romantic comedy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
 The latest installment of Charlie Kaufman's warped brain cells and uniquely adapted by director Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine tells the story of Joel Berish, (Carrey) and his attempt to erase wild child girlfriend, Clementine, (Winslet) from his mind.  We, the audience, are taken on a kind of reverse journey of Joel and Clementine's turbulent romance, through the perspective of Jim Carrey's unconscious brain. As the events of the relationship unfold before us, Joel comes to realize that he does not wish to forget his ladylove, and fights with all he has to keep Clementine from slipping away forever. As he struggles to keep her hidden in the deep creases of his subconscious, in the real world, Clementine is being swept off her feet by Patrick, (Wood) a deceitful but love struck lab technician who has taken over Joel's memories.
 In addition to a highly intriguing plot, the movie also makes use of an extremely talented cast. Considering the track records of both Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, it would seem that the pair would make an unlikely and unbelievable couple. After all, Winslet has made a career out of award winning, sophisticated dramas like Titanic, while Carrey has traditionally chosen the path of mindless comedies such as Bruce Almighty. And yet, as you watch them together, it feels as though the colaboration was always meant to happen. It is nearly impossible not to be taken by Winslet's free spirit, while Jim Carrey delivers a performance worthy of Man on the Moon praise. Topped off with the outstanding support of Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and Tom Wilkinson, to name a few, Eternal Sunshine is a perfect ten.
 After viewing this film, I cannot say that I recommend the actions taken by Jim Carrey and his co-stars.  If it's one thing I've learned from the experience, it is that any memory, whether good or bad, is a precious keepsake. I realized that we should embrace the finer events of our lives, and learn from those, which have given us grief. They should never be forgotten, even for a moment. But, the concept does make for wonderful entertainment. Eternal Sunshine equals eternal bliss.
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well…not this month…..instead a letter from Gary -  

To the members of the Imaginative Cinema Society:

   It’s been a great privilege to know so many of you, some going as far back as the closing days of that last cinema club - and it’s been a thrill to see how this club has grown  from that small group in the Baltimore Public Library to what it is today. I figure if we could survive THE HEADLESS GHOST, nothing short of Al Qaeda can stop us now! 

   With that in mind, I’d like to thank all of you for your kindness and generosity at my 50th birthday celebration, Saturday night - especially if I was ignorant and didn’t get to thank you personally before you left. I was sort of in a daze from the shock of it, all evening long!
   Mom had the right idea. Originally, she was going to take some people that I know with me out to dinner, up here in Pa. But then she got thinking ...why not have me celebrate my 50th with friends I cherish the most and with whom I certainly have a lot more interests in common with?  
   It was a GREAT IDEA, and I had the best time of my life since...uhh...you know...”What’s his name?” was in office..(see what happens when you turn 50???)   

   Seriously, though, 

                                                          -Gary, 50 

April 2nd      HELLBOY      PG-13
Cast: Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Selma Blair (Liz Sherman), John Hurt (Professor Bruttenholm), Doug Jones (Abe Sapien), David Hyde Pierce (voice of Abe Sapien) 
Premise: A Nazi experiment goes awry in 1944, and the child of Satan, Hellboy, is taken by the U.S. Now, the adult Hellboy, an investigator of the paranormal, is sent on a mission. Accompanying him are other agents, including Liz, a pyrokinetic woman Hellboy has feelings for, and Abe Sapien, a mysterious amphibian hominid.

April 16th         KILL BILL 2       R
Cast: Uma Thurman (The Bride, AKA Black Mamba), David Carradine (Bill), Julie Dreyfus (Sofie Fatale), Sonny Chiba (Hattori Hanzo) 
Premise: Continuing the storyline that started in Kill Bill Volume I, An assassin called The Bride (Thurman) sets out to wreak revenge upon her former employer, Bill (Carradine) and other the various other members of their assassin circle. This finale will pay a close homage to the Italian "spaghetti western" genre. 
April 16th         THE PUNISHER     : R
Cast: Thomas Jane (Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher), John Travolta (Howard Saint), Laura Elena Harring (Livia Saint)
Premise: Frank Castle is an undercover FBI agent (in addition to his military experience) when his family is killed. When this happens there is a change in attitude that Castle goes through thus becoming a one-man vengeance-wreaking killing machine (something the FBI generally frowns upon). He wants the killer to pay the price.  He is The Punisher.

May 14th     TROY        R
Cast:  Brad Pitt (Achilles), Eric Bana (Prince Hector of Troy), Orlando Bloom (Prince Paris of Troy), Diane Kruger (Helen of Troy), Peter O'Toole (King Priam of Troy)
Premise: In 1193 B.C., Prince Paris (Bloom) of Troy stole the beautiful Greek woman, Helen (Kruger), away from her husband, Menelaus, the king of Sparta, setting the two nations at war with each other, as the Greeks began a bloody siege of Troy using their entire armada, led by Achilles (Pitt), that lasted over a decade... 

May 21     SHREK 2 
Cast: (voices) Mike Myers (Shrek), Eddie Murphy (Donkey), Cameron Diaz (Princess Fiona), Julie Andrews (Fiona's Mother, the Queen), John Cleese (Fiona's Father, King Harold)
Premise: Picking up exactly where the first movie left off, this movie takes us to the kingdom as Shrek and Fiona return to her homeland to tell her parents the good news.

May 28th      THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW       PG 13 
Cast: Dennis Quaid (Professor Adrian Hall), Jake Gyllenhaal (Samuel Hall)
Premise: From the director Independence Day this movie shows the coming of the new ice age and how it will effect all involved. Terror rages throughout the land as this is fought by scientists and regular joes alike. It is the end of the world, coming soon.


Anime DVD’s new releases
by Taylor Sherblom-Woodward

TOKYO GODFATHERS released by Columbia Tri-star entertainment, out 04/13/04 SRP 26.96
   Satoshi Kon’s latest film (PERFECT BLUE, MILLENIUM ACTRESS) is a departure from his past themes of fantasy becoming confused with reality; TOKYO GODFATHERS  is a more feel-good mainstream audience oriented film. Three homeless people in Tokyo, an alcoholic, a drag queen and a runaway teenager discovered an abandoned child and embark on a quest to reunite him with his parents.
   No English dub was made for this film, there is only Japanese 5.1 audio with subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese). Widescreen presentation, and several extras, including a “making of” feature, theatrical trailers, and an character illustration postcard.

TEXHNOLYZE VOLUME 1:INHUMANE AND BEAUTIFUL, released by Geneon,  04/06/04. SRP 29.98, also with limited edition collector’s box, 39.98
   In an experimental city built beneath the surface of the earth, gangs rage war for control of Lukuss and for the powerful technology known as “texhnolyze”, a cybernetic device that replaces lost limbs. Ichise is a man who gets by in life by fighting for money, but when he crosses a member of the city’s elite,  who finds himself a target for violent retribution and loses his arm and leg. Ichise is determined to stay alive but his only option is something he doesn’t want and is out of his reach- a texhnolyze replacement.
   Meanwhile a young psychic girl named Ran leads a visitor from the surface into the city. While the gangs battle each other for control, these three individuals will find their fates intertwining as the unrest in the city approaches a climax.
   Exploring some of the depths of humanity’s cruelty and hunger for power, Texhnolyze manages to be visually stunning (which we have Madhouse studios and Yoshitoshi Abe’s concept designs to thank for) while remaining brutally violent and dark. The story is told in mind-screwy way that draws comparison to SERIAL EXPERIMENTS LAIN (which Yoshitoshi Abe also worked on) and BOOGIEPOP PHANTOM. The first half of episode 1 has no dialogue whatsoever, it’s just a disjointed series of traumas. So if you like mind-bending violence and depravity, but the kind that makes you think, this is your show.
   There are four episodes on this disc, with a few extra features, such as an interview with the shows creator Yasuyuki Ueda and the concept artist Yoshitoshi Abe, which provides some interesting insights into the structure and design of the show. Surprisingly, clean openig and closing animation are not included as extras, which has become a near-standard for anime DVDS nowadays. The closing theme is “Tsuki no Uta” (which should translate to “song of the moon”, assuming that Taylor’s Japanese is right, and keep in mind, she doesn’t know Japanese) by popular J-rock star, Gackt (Yes, that’s right, Gackt just isn’t a Klingon delicacy anymore, it’s also a singer who proves that there are some real life bishounen in the world).
   TEXHNOLYZE volume 1 also comes with an limited edition box to hold all 6 DVDs of the show. The art for the box and covers are stunning, and as an extra, there is a lenticular insert included that features Abe’s art for the show.

KAZE NO YOJIMBO VOLUME 1, released by Bandai Entertainment, 04/27/04. SRP 29.98
   If you’re familiar with Akira Kurosawa’s film YOJIMBO, you know the plot of this 2001 series, sinc ethis is an anime interpretation of the title. It’s not the first time YOJIMBO has been adapted into a TV show, since Japan has had as many Samurai period dramas as America has had westerns- if not more. The show slowly unravels a mystery as the outsider George Kodama comes to a town to investigate an incident that happened 15 years ago and finds himself caught in the middle of gang conflict.

SAIKANO VOLUME 1: GIRLFRIEND, released by Viz, 04/27/04 SRP 29.98
   Two young high schools students, Shuuji and Chise, living in the countryside of Hokkaido are just starting a relationship when the city of Sapporo is attacked. The enemy squadron is fought off by a mysterious new destructive weapon- the young Chise, who has been turned into a powerful weapon. Chise’s new existence threatens to drive a wedge between the two lovers, but the two find themselves more determined than ever to stop the destruction and to stay together.
   The full Japanese title is SAISHUU HEIKI KANOJO, which translates into something like “She, the Ultimate Weapon”. Despite having a name that seems more fitting to a hentai title, SAIKANO is actually known in the fandom for being one of the most depressing and heart-wrenching shows out there. Even those who felt that Shuuji is a jerk and Chise is a doormat all agree that the show depresses the heck out of them. The art style is seems a little strange at first, but the animation tends to be very polished, since it was done Studio Gonzo (SAIKANO is quite a departure from their GONZO’s other works like VANDREAD and the BLUE SUBMARINE No. 6, they’re not a studio to do a have a lot of emotional depth to their titles.)
   This first volume is actually a two disc set, since Viz has gone the extra mile and obtained nearly every extra included in the Japanese release, including interviews with the voice actors, the original commercials promoting the show when it first aired in Japan, the TV specials “All about Saikano” and “Saikano times”. Viz also has the rights for the manga that the show was originally based off of, to be released in June.

AZUMANGA DAIOH VOLUME 1, released by ADV films, 04/27/04 SRP 29.98, also available with box (and lapel pins) 39.98
   One of the most anticipated  titles of this year, AZUMANGA DAIOH managed to gain tons of devoted fans as soon as it aired. It’s alight-hearted slice-of-life comedy that follows the high school lives of 6 girls, Chiyo, the 10 year old genius, Kagura, the jock, Osaka, the flake, Sakaki, the shy one, Tomo, the rebellious girl and the short tempered Yomi. AZUMANGA DAIOH is adapted from a comic strip, so the show has a short wacky vignette feel to it. (Like the cute sequence in gym class where the girls are tossing a ball to each other, but instead it bounces of their heads and rolls away and they have to chase after it. And it happens every time they throw it) It’s cute and sweet and not much else to it.
If you buy the box version 2 lapel pins are included, of Chiyo-chan and Kamineko. Some of the subsequent volumes (starting with volume 3) will have more pins featuring other characters.

YOU’VE GOT “GMAIL” ????  by Chaz
 Yup, that’s right, Google is getting into the free email market with their version of free email called “Gmail”.  AND get this: you get 1 gigabyte of storage.  That’s a thousand megabytes to you computer lemmings out there.  No more out of space in-boxes such as Hotmail and Yahoo.  It also has some mighty powerful search capabilities.
   Now comes all the reasons and gotchas.  First of all, Google, the number one search engine in the universe, has big bad Microsoft on their tail.  So it is not surprising for Google to try something like this. About Gmail 
   As part of Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful, we're testing an email service called Gmail. 
   Gmail is a free, search-based webmail service that includes 1,000 megabytes (1 gigabyte) of storage. The backbone of Gmail is a powerful Google search engine that quickly recalls any message an account owner has ever sent or received. That means there's no need to file messages in order to find them again. 
   When Gmail displays an email, it automatically shows all the replies to that email as well, so users can view a message in the context of a conversation. There are no pop-ups or banner ads in Gmail, which places relevant text ads and links to related web pages adjacent to email messages. Contextual ads. But we will get back to these.
   Gmail uses Google search technology to automatically organize and find messages. And because Gmail includes 1,000 megabytes of storage, a typical user won't ever have to worry about deleting mail. Everything just gets archived so it can be found again if needed. 
   There are other differences in the way Gmail provides access to your email. For example, Gmail automatically groups an email and the replies to it as a conversation. That means you always see a message in its proper context. 
   Gmail's other distinctive features include a labeling system, a spam reporter and a system for filtering your mail as it comes into your inbox. Used this way, search enhances the efficiency of email, so its thought that it's a natural area for Google to offer a service.
   Now I probably won’t be using this service myself, because I don’t use free email as my primary email service.  Most folks who use free email services like Yahoo or Hotmail do so for various reasons.  Either they haven’t figured out how to configure Outlook Express to communicate with their ISP’s email server or they want an extra email account separate from the prying eyes of their family, or they just plain like lots of email, especially when they can have a cutsie little name like IamDufus278@hotmail.com.
   Regardless of the reasons, Gmail is about to arrive, although Google hasn’t announce an actual launch date.  Here’s several reasons to be a little careful about jumping on the Google bandwagon.  I use a Yahoo account, because I can easily configure it to check my email with my primary ISP, Verizon.  Google’s Gmail won’t have that feature.  Now some of you may say, “Who cares, we still get a gig of space”.  Well along with that space comes what Google calls contextual advertising.  What is that???  It isn’t pop-ups, it is much more scarier (to me).  
   Here’s an example of contextual advertising:  you send an email to a friend about the upcoming DVD release of the 1933 King Kong (as if any other existed) using Gmail.  Google could track via a keyword like “DVD” or “King Kong” and send you relevant advertising from either a DVD company or a DVD company offering a special sale of “King Kong” on DVD.  
   That might sound cool, but there are definite privacy gray areas here.  You need to stop and think about whether you want someone looking over your shoulder even if it is an automated, non-intrusive process, filtering your email in order to send you advertising?  
   Fellow ICS’er Charlie Wittig sure doesn’t, but hey, you’re an adult (I think), so make your own decision.
CLICK HERE FOR THE GMAIL PAGE view it and have some fun.

   So if any of you rent movies from Netflix, get ready for a new development next year.  Currently, customers can rent up to three DVDs at a time from Netflix for a set price with no late fees.  The VOD offering will expand that to allow for up to three physical DVD or digital downloads at a time.

   Tired of hearing that old cliche about virtue being its own reward?
   Looking to change life paths in the most radical way possible? Perhaps it's time to take a quick surf past www.So You've Decided to Be Evil.com, a Web page that outlines a host of opportunities to serve the forces of darkness. The brainchild of author Neil Zawacki, this Web page seeks to lure potential lunatics into the evil lifestyle. It is an in-depth treatment of evil issues, from villainous motivations (should a newbie evildoer focus on being power-hungry, greedy or vengeful?) to the best place to locate a secret hideout. While acknowledging that many would-be villains aspire to be criminal masterminds, this site also reminds visitors not to neglect the possibilities inherent in career tracks like Cult Leader or Horror Movie Villain. 
   So You've Decided to Be Evil has a straightforward design and few graphics, focusing on getting its message across through its essays. Each piece provides whimsical reading to anyone who has wished, even momentarily, to escape all life's responsibilities by turning to the Dark Side. 
   That is not to say just anyone can become a villain: The site's Evil Quiz determines a visitor's aptitude for wickedness. For those who pass muster, though, the page goes on to offer advice on evil fashion and managing henchmen. Good advice (no pun intended)on how to be extremely Evil and how to make the most of Evil in its evilest ways. 
   Things like this you just can’t find anywhere and this web site is great for those that really want to excel at Evil. It also has more specialized tactical information on thwarting the forces of good, for example, and formulating deathtraps and evil schemes. There are age old battle plans and examples of evil throughout history and how it has been used.
   For SF fans who enjoy seeing the genre's conventions lampooned, or any Web surfer who had not realized that the ARMY OF DARKNESS recruits, So You've Decided to Be Evil will brighten even the bleakest of days.

Ralph E. Winters, who received best-editing Oscars for KING SOLOMON'S MINES and BEN-HUR, has died. He was 94.
In addition to his two wins, Winters received four other Academy Award nominations for best editing; for KOTCH, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, QUO VADIS? and THE GREAT RACE for Blake Edwards. He was a favorite of director Edwards and worked for him on 10 other pictures, including 3 of the Pink Panther movies.  
His more than 70 film credits also include GASLIGHT, LITTLE WOMEN, ON THE TOWN, JAILHOUSE ROCK, BUTTERFIELD 8, THE HAWAIIANS, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, THE FRONT PAGE (1974 version), KING KONG (1976 version), ORCA AND 10. Winters' last editing credit was on the 1995 action-adventure film CUTTHROAT ISLAND.

Frances Dee, lovely leading lady and second lead of Hollywood productions from the 1930’s through the early 50’s has died at age 94. She was married to the late actor Joel McCrea for 57 years, making it one of Hollywood's most durable unions.
Seen on the Paramount lot while working as an extra by Maurice Chevalier, she was cast as his leading lady in PLAYBOY OF PARIS and became a star.

Robert Pastorelli, the actor best remembered for his six-year run as Eldin Bernecky, the eccentric painter on TV’s MURPHY BROWN, has died. 
Pastorelli made his film debut in 1987 in OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE and was in such other films as BEVERLY HILLS COP II, DANCES WITH WOLVES, SISTER ACT 2, ERASER and MODERN VAMPYRES. He had just completed filming on the movie BE COOL, a sequel to the crime comedy GET SHORTY. He was 49.

Mercedes McCambridge, a versatile character actress with a strong, resonant voice, who started in radio and went on to Broadway, film and television, has died at age 85. 
She won an Academy Award as best supporting actress for her 1949 screen debut in ALL THE KING'S MEN and was nominated again for her role in GIANT.
She gave strong performances in movies such as JOHNNY GUITAR, A FAREWELL TO ARMS, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, CIMARRON, ANGEL BABY and Orson Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL. It was Welles, who talked her into doing her most unusual role: providing the chilling, raspy voice of the demon that possessed Linda Blair in 1973’s THE EXORCIST.  "I didn't think I wanted to do it," McCambridge said, "and Orson said, 'Listen, you began in radio. This is a 100% radio performance. You go ahead and do it.' And I'm awfully glad I did. I loved it."

Rene Laloux, French animator and director of Science Fiction Fantasy films, has died.
He wrote and directed such films as, the cult favorite FANTASTIC PLANET, TIME MASTERS and LIGHT YEARS. He was 74.

Peter Ustinov, who won supporting actor Academy Awards for roles as the gladiator-school owner in SPARTACUS (1960) and as the small-time British black-marketeer in TOPKAPI (1964), has died at age 82. He also won three Emmys for his television roles, as well as a Grammy. 
Ustinov, also a longtime international goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his artistic and humanitarian efforts in 1990. 
In a stage and film career spanning more than 60 years, the versatile entertainer earned international recognition as an actor, director, producer, playwright and novelist. The portly actor was known for his genius in assuming different ethnic accents and personalities in most of the nearly 70 films in which he appeared. It was said of Ustinov
that, "He picked up voices like blue serge picks up lint”.
He made his U.S. film debut in 1951 in QUO VADIS?.  His role as Nero earned him his first Oscar nomination. Some other films he appeared in were THE EGYPTIAN, WE’RE NO ANGELS, THE SUNDOWNERS, BILLY BUDD (he also produced, directed and co-scripted), THE COMEDIANS, DEATH ON THE NILE, THE GREAT MUPPET

Jan Sterling, hard boiled film noir dame and blond beauty in movies of the 1940s, '50s and '60s, has died. Sterling appeared in more than 40 motion pictures, sometimes in starring roles but more often as a significant supporting player. Her filmography includes
Her last film appearance was in FIRST MONDAY IN OCTOBER, with Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh, in 1981. She was 82.

by John Ward

 Where have all the monsters gone?
 I’m not trying to paraphrase some sappy ‘60s protest song with that question; I’m very serious.  I was in front of the computer the other day, surfing around, trolling for some column ideas, hoping something would click, and I started thinking (always a dangerous process) about my formative years of movie going.  I’ve written in the past on the topic: my movie “firsts,” my love for the drive-in, etc, etc.  But now I was thinking seriously about how I got started watching genre movies, specifically horror films and science fiction flicks.  And what came to mind was the certainty that, for me as a kid, taglines like “horror” and “sci-fi” weren’t important.  Nope – what mattered most of all were the monsters.
 My friends and I didn’t go to the movies nearly every Saturday afternoon to watch horror and science fiction films; we went to watch “monster movies.”  That’s what we called ‘em.  It didn’t matter if the creatures walked out of the cobwebby shadows wearing fangs and a cape, or if they oozed out of a spaceship air duct, leaving a trail of green slime three feet across.  (Anyone remember THE GREEN SLIME?  Now there was a cheesy ‘60s monster movie.)  We judged a genre movie by the effectiveness of its lead bogeyman; that’s how we were able to tell one from the other.  (“Hey, are you gonna see that new Frankenstein movie?”)  If a genre picture came along that didn’t have a clear-cut monster at its center, we often weren’t sure what to make of it.  I remember being creeped out by ROSEMARY’S BABY, and not really understanding why.  Maybe it had something to do with Mia Farrow’s god-awful hairdo.
 As a youthful monster lover, I had my Holy Bible: Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland.  I also read Castle of Frankenstein, but that one came out much less frequently, and it struck me even then as more of a cinema historian’s magazine.  I was still a decade or two away from reaching that demographic.  Nope, for me, if the movie didn’t get a mention in Famous Monsters, it wasn’t worth my time.  I cringe when I catch a glimpse of the old Ackerman style these days, chock-a-block with outrageous, childish puns, and I wonder how I could swallow such hogwash.  But I remember the true appeal: all those big, bright, black-and-white photos of the monsters.
 And what monsters they were.  
 It started with the Big Three, the Holy Trinity of Universal Studios: the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, and the Wolf Man.  I honestly don’t remember which of the three I saw first; it might have been Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster.  But I do remember that these three monsters, in one combination or another, practically saved Universal Studios heading into the ‘40s, with a little help from Abbott and Costello.  (Literally.)
 The original DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN were released within months of each other in 1931, but I didn’t know that piece of trivia at the time, and frankly, I didn’t really care.  I was mesmerized by Karloff’s slow, halting gait; the outstretched, grasping hands with the stitching at the wrists; the baleful gaze overshadowed by the prominent brow.  Lugosi surpassed Karloff for the amplified wattage of the stare.  But Lugosi never seemed to frighten me as much as Karloff did, or even as much as Lon Chaney, Jr. did in THE WOLF MAN.  When I watched those guys for the first time, it was often from behind the fingers of my hands.  I could see the Frankenstein monster coming at me out of the screen, and whenever I walked through a backyard or playground area at night, I could see the Wolf Man springing at me with a snarl and a howl, and that always made me walk a little faster.  Lugosi just seemed to be going after the girls.
 The only other monster to compare to the Holy Trinity during this period was the original King himself: KING KONG.  The big ape made his reputation on the strength of one powerful, action-packed film, whereas the other monsters starred in picture after picture, cementing their “icon” status over time.  Again, I can’t remember the first time I watched KING KONG, but I know he was there, bigger than life.
 I don’t think it’s silly to describe these monsters as “icons.”  They defined the horror genre for me.  They each had their own special appeal, their own strengths and weaknesses, their own little “quirks,” and even a tragic side, although I couldn’t really find anything tragic about Lugosi’s Dracula.  
 In addition to Kong, Frankie, and the others (Notice I didn’t say”Drac” or “Wolfie.”  There’s only so much Ackerman-style cutesiness I can stomach in one sitting) several more monsters reared their ugly heads during this time period.  Lon Chaney Sr.’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was yet another tragic figure, but I still remember the one and only time I saw the film, with a Wurlitzer organ accompanying a huge screen in a darkened art deco theater.  Chaney’s Phantom was frightening to behold.
 Then there was Karloff’s take on THE MUMMY, an atmospheric gem.  Karloff was so much more scary-effective than any of the guys who wrapped themselves up in the toilet paper for Universal’s run of Mummy movies in the early ‘40s.  (It’s hard to believe that Tom Tyler, the heroic Captain Marvel from the serials, was under the Mummy gauze for one of those trifles.)  
 There were more.  The most famous of the “Second Wave” of monsters, those that came along in the ‘50s, were green and scaly, one slightly larger than the other:  THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON and GODZILLA.  At least, I assumed they were green and scaly.  It was hard to tell on our old Philco black-and-white television.  The Creature chilled my blood more than it had a right to.  It was perfectly hideous, with a fish-like face and those huge, webbed claws.  I still remember the film sequence when it tracked the swimming heroine underwater, at one point touching her toe.
 Of course, in a Texas Death Match with Godzilla, the Creature wouldn’t have lasted 5 seconds.  It would have wound up a green smear on the pavement.  What’s one little Creature, when you’ve got a monster that flattens whole city blocks with one well-placed stomp?
 To this list, I must add one “redefinition:” Christopher Lee’s Dracula.  His interpretation of the Count was so far removed from Lugosi’s that I saw them as two entirely different monsters.  Lee’s Dracula was a brutal, bloodthirsty, almost feral creature of the night, but not without some magnetic charm.  His Dracula character proved to be so popular that it helped Hammer Studios green light a huge wave of shocking horror films.
 Shocking… now there’s a word to consider.  It might help explain the lack of any stand-out movie monsters over the past 30 years or so.  Those great old monsters of the ‘30s and ‘40s (and even the ‘50s) stood apart from one another by virtue of their looks, their “modus operandi” for killing, even their way of entering a scene.  But the monsters of today’s horror and science fiction films don’t have that “uniqueness.”  They all kind of run together after a fashion, one long procession of psychos:  Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger, Leatherface, Hannibal Lecter… the list goes on and on.  And it’s a pretty bloody trail.  I think what’s changed, monster-wise, is that moviemakers have sacrificed the scary appeal of the monster for the gruesome, shocking appeal of the monstrous act.  Who needs to waste time inserting fangs or slapping on a couple pounds of day-glo green paint when you can skip the make-up trailer altogether, pick up a machete, and just start hacking away?
 Which leads me to think about a possible topic for another column.  While I might be moan the absence of movie monsters in the classic sense, I still enjoy a good gorefest every now and then.  Why is that, I wonder?
 Hmmm…Why I like gory movies…
 It has possibilities…

ICS CALENDER –the Month in review

April 2nd      HELLBOY film     A good one to start the month off with!

April 5th         The Full Moon out tonight. 

April 16th      KILL BILL 2 film     The one John Ward has been waiting for!

April 16th       THE PUNISHER film     Beware of the Man in Black!

Saturday April 24th at 5:30 P.M – ICS meeting with guest GREG MANK
 He will give a talk and show the Karloff film, THE BODY SNATCHER.