The Official Newsletter of The Imaginative Cinema Society
The love of many, the work of a few....

August 2006  #91


In this issue of ICS Files in lieu of TV and Movie news,
we added ICS member Book and Movie Reviews and
member commentaries on our local Conventions.






        Old friends, now gone


        From ICS member John Ward


Put this up on the Fridge!

Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, 
Andrew Kent, Mike Laird, 
John Ward, Joe Plempel, 
Dava Sentz, Mike Schilling, 
Dave Henderson, Jim Childs


ICSClubnewsClubnews All About Us ClubnewsClubnewsICS

 How could it not be?  Once again, there was pizza as far as the eye could see, along with the usual popcorn, sodas, snacks, and desserts.  Thanks to John Ward and Joe Plempel for picking up the pizza and thanks also to the rest of the board – Jim Childs, Andrew Kent and Dave Willard – for, once again, planning a delicious night for the entire club to enjoy!

 If it’s our July meeting, chances are good that John Clayton will be hosting it.  He talked about legendary film producer (and occasional writer) Val Lewton.   Lewton was best known for his work with RKO Studios.  They hired him in 1942 to head their new horror unit, where he made many famous and well-respected B-movies, for very low costs and high profits. 
 Often times, Lewton was assigned titles for the films and had to come up with the stories himself.  For example, he turned CAT PEOPLE into a visually stunning, subtle, psychological thriller rather than a lurid, monster-filled thriller.  Similarly, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE became a gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.
 Two Lewton trademarks are The Bus and The Walk.  The Bus refers to a scene in CAT PEOPLE.  A woman is walking alone through the park, hears noises as though she is being followed.  As the tension rises, a hiss is heard.  But the hiss turns out to be a false scare – it’s just the sound of air brakes on a bus.  The Walk is a device often used in conjunction with The Bus.  A character will be seen walking through a very safe, welcoming area.  But after the plot develops and the character’s life is endangered, the walk along that same path is no longer safe or welcoming.
 Thanks, John, for giving us some new insights into this wonderfully talented man.  We’ll keep next July open for you!

 The ICS has already seen a few Val Lewton movies in its 7 years – THE BODY SNATCHER and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE.  However, due to the age of the club and the arrival of new club members throughout the years, it was decided that films we have watched in the past may still be offered.  But even with proven winners THE BODY SNATCHERS and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE in the offerings, the club chose THE SEVENTH VICTIM.
 THE SEVENTH VICTIM takes place in the decadent Manhattan of 40’s.  Orphan Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter, in her first film) goes to New York to find her missing older sister Jacqueline, an 'adventuress' who may have run afoul of the affairs of a deadly cult called The Palladists.  Jacqueline's business has been taken over by matron, Natalie Cortez and beautician Frances Fallon provides little information about the missing sister's whereabouts.  Jacqueline's one-time boyfriend, lawyer Gregory Ward and failed poet Jason Hoag suspect that the hedonistic psychiatrist Louis Judd has something to do with Jacqueline's disappearance.  Desperate, Mary hires diminutive detective Irving August to help her break into Cortez' cosmetics factory, to find out if Jacqueline is imprisoned inside.
 A lively discussion about the film ensued after its completion.  Once again, Lewton made a good impression on the ICS.  Thanks for offering these wonderful films, John!

  If you did not order an ICS T-Shirt during our winter T-Shirt drive, fear not!  ICS T-Shirts, as well as mouse pads bags, mugs and clocks, are available on WWW.CAFEPRESS.COM/ICSFILM.  Each item purchased includes a $1 profit to the club.  And you can order from the site on your own at any time.  We will not be doing any more mass purchase T-Shirt drives this year.  So, if you would like to purchase a Tee or other ICS Item, but do not have net access, please contact a board member.

  The Childs household graciously donated an unused air conditioning unit to the church.   He, Joe and Charlie helped to put it in a back window prior to the meeting.  It was just what we needed on a hot July night.  Thanks, Jim and Betsy!

  We will be accepting items for the upcoming September con.  We especially need DVDs and other movie related items.  So clean out your collection and donate to ICS.  You never know if that movie that’s been gathering dust in your basement could be on someone else’s To-See want list.
 Since the con is right around the corner, the board will accept final donations at the August meeting or at the con itself.  So if you have anything to donate, please bring it in.

  Need a convention fix?  The ICS will be participating in The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Aberdeen on September 14-17.  Guests will include David Hedison from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Marta Kristen from Lost in Space.  The convention is geared to fans of Old-Time TV and Radio and Antique Cars.  More details on the con can be found online at WWW.MIDATLANTICNOSTALGIACONVENTION.COM.
 ICS will have 2 tables in the dealer’s room.  We will need volunteers to work the table, sell our wares and talk up the club to passer-bys. 

 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday August 26th at 5:30 P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 Bel Air Road.  Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road.  Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the torn-down 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. 

  Hubble Space Telescope scientist Ray Villard is our special August guest.  Mr. Villard is the News Director for the Space Telescope Science Institute.  He oversees an international program of news and information for communicating astronomical discoveries and has 15 years of sharing Hubble's profound discoveries with the public.  More information about Mr. Villard can be found on WWW.RAYVILLARD.COM.  He will be discussing The Real Science in Sci-Fi.  His presentation will be followed by a choice of his favorite Sci-Fi films.  This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity you won’t want to miss!

  The late night time slot in August is set aside for a midnight movie.  At the July meeting, no titles were submitted.  In this case, we will allow open voting of the second feature at the August meeting.  So bring one of your Horrorfind DVD purchases for August and let’s vote!

September 30 Werewolf films presented by Betsy Childs
October 28 (*) Greg Mank Returns -- Lionel Atwill and  Murder at the Zoo
  Halloween Potluck Dinner
November 25 Jackie Chan Part 2 presented by Andrew Kent
December 30 (*) Yankee Swap
  Revenge Movies presented by Regina Vallerani

(*) denotes Late Night Feature

Book Review by John Ward: The Ruins

Thirteen years ago, I read an excellent novel by a first-timer named Scott Smith.  It was titled A Simple Plan, and a more apt title could not be found, I promise you.  Smith’s tale of murder, deceit, and betrayal gripped me from its opening page. He told his story of three men, two brothers and a friend, who stumble upon a twin-engine plane crashed in the woods, containing over four million bucks. The men hatch a “simple plan” to hide the loot until the heat dies down, and then split it up. What happens to their plan can only be described as chillingly inevitable, and Smith told this story with such a matter-of-fact prose style that the reader could not help but be enthralled.  Smith spent some time writing the screenplay for his debut novel. I liked the film a lot, but found myself wishing that Smith would get busy and write another book. So I waited. And waited.
       Now, thirteen years after A Simple Plan, Scott Smith has returned with his second novel, titled The Ruins. Thirteen years between books?  This guy makes Thomas Harris look positively prolific!  (If you don’t recognize Harris’ name, try thinking of fava beans and a nice Chianti.)
       I’d be furious if The Ruins wasn’t so damn good. Smith has once again returned to that simple, matter-of-fact writing style that served him so well with his first novel. But that’s where the similarities end. Where A Simple Plan was a dynamite tale of modern crime grounded firmly in the workaday world, The Ruins delves deeply into the realm of weird horror, made all the more chilling by Smith’s plainly descriptive approach. It’s one of the most frightening books I’ve read in a long time.
        Sketching the premise of the book without giving away too much of the plot presents a challenge, but here goes. Six young people, including two American couples, a German, and a Greek, become friendly while on vacation in Cancun. The German is worried that his younger brother has gotten lost on a trek into the jungle interior, and decides to go find him, with the aid of a hand drawn map. The others offer to go along, thinking it would be a fun side trip. Little do they know.
        It’s not long before the group finds the endpoint of the map: an archaeological dig on a hillside, overgrown with vines and flowers. Curiously, the group receives no opposition from the local villagers, but once they step foot on the hillside, the villagers draw their bows and arrows, refusing to let them come back down.  So the group is forced to climb the hill…and see what’s at the top.
        More than that, I will not tell.  It’s enough to know that Smith is a master of psychological thrills, getting inside the minds of his characters and allowing the reader to watch, in growing fascination, as barriers of normalcy and morality crumble away.  There’s an element of the fantastic in this novel that is pure Stephen King, but Smith shows that he is up to the task. He doesn’t even bother to provide an explanation for the situation; it simply is what it is, and the group of young people must find a way to deal with it.
 Once again, as in A Simple Plan, I found myself caught up in the inevitability of the experience, that slightly queasy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you sense you know how thinks will turn out, but as the reader, you’re powerless to do anything about it; you certainly can’t warn the characters.  And yet, you can’t turn away, either.  By the end of the novel, I was gasping for breath, and for once, sincerely glad to be the “reader as outsider.”  The Ruins is one of those novels that draw you in without making you want to “live” the experience.  Read it, and you’ll see what I mean.
 One final side note to Mr. Smith:  do not wait 13 years to write another book!


Two Cons, Two ICS members, too much fun!!!
This month we are treated with the adventures from two very different Science Fiction/Horror Conventions with one thing in common – FANS!!!  The conventions were Horrorfind and Shore Leave. Two of our own attended and here are their commentaries.

From Mike Schilling – Shore Leave 28 Shenanigans

     Shore Leave. It conjures up images of huge guys and gals in Klingon makeup in front of a makeshift jail, room-full of talkative types going over the latest in sci-fi fare, packed ballrooms full of dealers hawking their wares, and of course lots of guest stars doing their Q&A’s in front of a huge crowd of adoring fans hanging on their every word. 
With all of this in mind, I counted down the weeks and then days until the convention would begin, just like I have every year since my first ‘Leave back in 1986. Lisa, on the other hand, was counting down the weeks and days until the whole thing would be over and done with so that regular life could begin again (sorry about that, hon). Honestly, though, Lisa is a bit of a “closet” Trekker. She doesn’t brag on it and revel in the technicalities of what makes the sci-fi universe tick as I do. However, she does get into meeting many of the guest stars and taking their pictures whenever the opportunity arises. She also enjoys certain elements of the big show, like the Masquerade, the Shore Leave Showcase, and checking out what’s in the Art Show now and again. So, it isn’t too difficult to find something that we both like. Between you and me, I think that my personal indoctrination program is working out quite well. (Insert favorite evil laugh here….)
     After sealing my personal two minutes of fame on Fox 45 news early in the morning, Lisa and I arrived at the Hunt Valley Inn early in the afternoon on Friday. After getting our room and registering with the Con, we began what I call “the first walk-through”. It’s at this time when you check out all the flyers on the tables, see what fan groups are set up, see what guests have already arrived, and generally get the lay of the land. 
     The early settling-in hours of the con were spent getting a look at the Art Show (generally the first thing to open), checking out the selection in the Dealer’s rooms, and getting my first few autographs while the lines hadn’t quite started building up yet. Going into a convention like this, try to catch the stars and autograph tables as early into the weekend as possible, because you just know that the lines will get worse and worse as the show kicks into high gear. 
     Something that really struck me this year was that just about every one of the 11 “above the title” guests were seated at an autograph table by dinnertime Friday, including top-level guests Connor Trinneer and Carmen Argenziano. Historically, the first-line guests of local cons have only appeared at their daily Q&A sessions and official autograph sessions before being whisked off. The only guest not there Friday was Jamie Bamber. I had found out literally the day before that he was shooting Galactica late into the evening in Vancouver. He would be ready for autographing and Q&A just about the time of day when folks want to get their dinners and prepare for the Saturday night Masquerade/Ten-Forward dance block.
     No doubt the greatest disappointments of the weekend had nothing to do with the convention. The hotel itself had undergone major renovations over the past year that was still in progress at con-time. The carpets, lighting, furniture, and décor of the public areas had all been radically changed. And in most folks’ opinions, NOT for the better. True, the original materials had become quite faded and worn over the years, but the replacements were a gaudy, psychedelic-inspired mish-mash of primary colors on the floor, a mix of pastel-colored track lighting for the ceiling, and an ultra-mod/vaguely Japanese look for the floor décor. Just looking at it tends to give one a nasty headache. In fact, the running joke at the con was that with a pair of old-fashioned 3-D glasses, one could make out subliminal messages in the carpeting...and at least one guest star improvised a little on that during their talk. 
     After dinnertime, many of the guests had already started their first appearances. First was Gigi Edgley of FARSCAPE fame, and if you hadn’t seen a picture of the actress beforehand, you would never be able to tell that that was the fiery, bawdy Chiana that we know and lust after so much. Gigi is a petite, highly energetic young lady who possesses more energy and genuine enthusiasm for what she does than any three other actors you could name. She immediately won over the crowd with her beaming smile and stories of the closeness of the Farscape family. Even more impressive was her total lack of airs or ego, as she was seen throughout the weekend basically everywhere…judging art show pieces, handing out workmanship awards at the masquerade, and so on. Right after her was Kent McCord. He didn’t have Gigi’s energy or looks, but he certainly won the crowd’s admiration and attention with his direct, yet kindly manner and his crystal-clear memory of the impressive line of people and projects that he’s been associated with over a 40-year acting career that seems to involve playing a lot of people’s fathers.
     Immediately afterwards, I found myself taking part in a special Trek 40th Anniversary panel with some guys from the Starfleet ship USS Chesapeake that I’ve been verbally jousting with for a good 20 years now. The panel basically spent a bit of time going over each Trek series and a bit on the movies, and it went a good solid 90 minutes (nothing was scheduled for that room afterwards), and it could have gone another 90 if we weren’t on opposite the Meet-the-Pros party.
    The MTP is basically a setup where all of the writer guests and some of the scientists sit around and chat and sign copies of their work. I personally went to get Peter David to sign my copy of his latest New Frontier hardback “Missing In Action”, which he cordially did as we talked for a few minutes before his line built up again...he is just about the most popular of the regular authors at the con outside of maybe Howard Weinstein and Bob Greenberger (because those two have missed a grand total of one or two SLs since their debuts at II and III, respectively). I also wanted to catch Joan Winston, who in her 70s now has lost none of her love and enthusiasm for the whole Trek universe. Along with Bjo Trimble, I consider her to be the “grand dame” of all things Trek in this world, especially when it comes to starting up and building a convention, as she was one of the original committee that put on the first known Trek cons in New York in the early ‘70s.
     Having been up so early that day, and not being as young as we used to be, Lisa and I conked out fairly early after that (by con standards). However, that next morning, we went back to the con and to seeing what the bids were like in the Art Show, and made another Dealer’s Rooms walk-through before the main room programming really started to kick in.
    In the midst of all this, Lisa and I went to have our Photo Op with Connor Trinneer in a quieter area of the hotel. Connor was the #1 guest personally for both of us as Enterprise fans (one of the few, I know). Connor stood there in a casual T-shirt and an aw-shucks smile, put his arms around us both, and voila, it was done. The photo was ready at the Pre-Reg table for us to snap up a few hours later. It turned out beautifully, and is sitting framed on our hutch as I write this. (After we had him autograph it that evening, of course). 
    Meanwhile in the main ballrooms, I managed to catch a piece of William Schallert and Antoinette Bower’s talk. And I had no idea that they were such a great comedy team. Mr. Schallert has a sharp eye, an ever sharper tongue, a great memory, and a more amazing wit. This would be impressive for a man a third of his age. Ms. Bower, though no less interesting, was a perfect foil for him as she was much quieter and more reserved in  her comments, which made the impact when she did fire off a zinger that much greater on Mr. Schallert and the rest of the audience as well. They really took off when they had the opportunity to have an audience and it was a thrill to see.
     We were sure to be in the Main Ballroom early enough to get a decent seat for Connor’s talk. Connor was very impressive with his intelligent and warm manner toward the fans, answering as politely, yet honestly as he could. He seemed to be genuinely proud of his association with Enterprise and the whole Trek mythos and appreciative of all of the support, yet he also wasn’t afraid to mention how low the ratings were and how he felt his character was dealt with as the show sputtered to a stop. He also spoke very glowingly about his experiences on Stargate Atlantis as well, mentioning that he feels that there’s still room to see more of his character Michael in the near future.
     However, a very proud thing did happen while I was waiting for Connor’s talk and Amanda was still on. Shore Leave also prides itself on the number of charitable causes we become involved in, one of which is the Julien Fleming Fund, created by the USS Athena Starfleet Chapter out of Virginia that donates funds to families of seriously ill children to defray medical costs and such. This year, one of our prominent SL members created a hand-made, one-of-a-kind panda bear for Amanda to auction off. Usually such an item will net perhaps a few hundred. However, a bidding war soon took place, raising the bid eventually to $1,000. In the middle of the bidding, Amanda said that she would match whatever was bid. That may be a paltry sum considering what she does for a living, but the gesture was not lost on any of us who saw it. Over the years, no matter how good or bad the economy is, people spend money...and donate very generously…at these conventions, and that’s something that I’m extremely proud of. To top it off, I found out from one of my con chairpersons a few days after the convention that the bidder who finally gave up wound up donating $1,000 herself to the fund. Wow.
     Not long after the main wave of guest talks it was time for the madness of the autograph lines to begin. All we needed was for Connor to sign our photo op that we by now had, but his line was with Amanda Tapping’s and that was very considerable. Not wanting to miss our turn, we simply waited in the main area and chatted with some folks here and there that wandered by that we knew until Lisa’s badge number range was called. We spent the next few hours creeping along in that procession, and we just barely caught Connor before the cold knocked him out of the box completely, but it was well worth it. 
     By the time we got done with all that, it was almost time for the Masquerade to begin. Imagine the craziness of the main hallway, as the end of Amanda’s and Connor’s line, the beginning of Jamie Bamber’s line (he had arrived and given his first talk by then by then), the folks waiting to get into the ballroom for Masquerade, and folks waiting to take pictures of the costumed revelers all jammed together and bounced off each other at the same time. Also, many of the other guest stars still had small lines at their tables at the same time! Other tables vying for attention along that path included Tye Bourdony’s Lighter Side of Sci-Fi (always great for a laugh, and a real pleasure to talk to), the D.C. Chapter of the R2D2 Builder’s Club, and several Stargate fan organizations, one of which had constructed a HUGE replica of the Stargate at the very end of the hallway.
     We took our spot outside the ballroom, content to watch the actual presentations on a moderately-sized monitor while we waited for the participants to come out to get their pictures taken. Among the most popular of the costumers was an exquisite rendering of the costume worn by Spock’s mother, played by Jane Wyatt, in Star Trek IV:The Voyage Home, already celebrating its 20th anniversary. Other very popular ones included a spectacular soldier from the War of 1812, a sharp-looking version of the Joker from the ’89 Batman movie, and a whole collection of good and evil X-Men warring with each other to themes from “West Side Story”. 
   By the time Masquerade ended, we were almost done in. Lisa retired to the room while I made one more run-through to see what else was going on. It seemed on the whole most folks were just waiting for the doors to open on the big annual Ten-Forward Dance.
     When folks ask me to describe Shore Leave’s vibe, I oftentimes mention that it’s really just a 3-day party with a couple thousand of your closest friends, and that Star Trek is just the excuse to “get the party started”. Not being drinkers or dancers per se, we soon found ourselves in la-la land as we prepared for one more big day.
      We awoke on Sunday, and the con having the same amount of programming in about half the time on a Sunday, gave the schedule a day that is quite compacted, making for some VERY tough choices. We made ours and off we went.
     Before Connor came on again, we were able to take part in a few more panels. We talked for a solid hour about Superman Returns and a little about X-Men 3 at one, and in another the rumor mill was running at full-speed about the announced production of Star Trek XI under the control of LOST and ALIAS creator J.J.Abrams. Naturally, the passion level was WAY up on those, especially regarding the latter panel as fans are seeking to resuscitate the Trek franchise over the plans of close-minded executives and indifferent studio subdivisions. And for those of you who know me, you KNOW that I wasn’t close-mouthed about any of it, pro or con. That’s why the panels are among my favorite things to do at a con. A chance to shoot my mouth off even more so than usual! 
      After the main talks were over and the autograph lines were winding down, we caught the last thing on the program, “Mystery Trekkie Theater 3000”, which Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and Robert Greenberger have been performing for a number of years now. Basically, it’s what you might think, a takeoff on MST3000 with a Trek-theme, usually attacking a Classic or TNG episode. The gang decided to attack “A Private Little War”, truly an episode screaming for parody, in my oh-so-humble opinion. It was a grand way to officially end the festivities.
      Prevalent to me as we thought about the end of the con, was the sense of loss that runs through me at this point every year. There’s very few things in this world that sadden me so as the sight of a convention hotel nearly deserted and the tables and such being folded away when just hours before the place was full to the rafters and teeming with excited folks from all over sharing their joy of the whole sci-fi/fantasy universe. The idea of returning to work and “the real world” seemed roughly akin to getting a tooth pulled without Novocain. Still, I knew that parties weren’t meant to last, like the great poet Prince has said, and I reflected at the back of my mind that before I knew it, talk of the next convention would begin to simmer. 
      For now, the cycle has ended, but in the Trek world at least nothing stays down for long…it shall begin again. Amen to that.

A Walk thru HORRORFIND by Dave ‘Hendo’ Henderson

    The day was sunny, warm and thankfully less humid, as I steered the Hendomobile off the ramp leading to Hunt Valley.  Horrorfind Weekend. Yes, that weekend convention organized by Outside-of-Baltimore-Carpetbaggers was on again.  I had a great time last year working the ICS table, but this year the board had decided to skip Horrorfind, so I was there as a paying fan.  I knew that somewhere on these premises ICS’ers Steve Vaught, Regina V and Andrew Kent were already lurking.  But first I had to wait in line to get a ticket.  That line paralleled the line to see legendary filmmaker George Romero.  10:15 and already a long line to see Mr. Romero.  Must be heartening to the old guy.

     Acting on Norman Prentiss's email of the night before, I headed for Salon F to hear him do a reading.  If Norman was worried, he shouldn't have been.  He had a co-speaker whose name escapes me, and since I'm writing this spur of the moment and am too lazy to go upstairs to get the program, I'll just have to refer to him as "co-speaker".  The room filled quickly, and in with the throng came Andrew, Steve and Regina.  Norm's story about a family named the Albrights who had sextuplets... or did they? was creepy and certainly held my interest. The co-speaker read two stories- both of with were well done.  So much talent out there, but getting noticed is always the problem.  "The Rising" writer Brian Keene came on at 12 (Brian's a local author by the way, and would make an interesting ICS guest), but unfortunately nature didn't call, it screamed at me... so I had to leave before hearing him.  I decided to make a first trip around the dealer's room.
     Well, if the dealer's knew there was a bit of a tight squeeze in the money market these days, their prices sure didn't show it.  I have never seen such overpriced items. DVDs held sway over most of the tables, offering hard to find stuff.  One just had to watch out for the bootlegs... I happen to collect action figures- and I didn't pick up one this year.  I refused to hand over $70 for a Chris Lee Dracula figure that was still available on the net for $50.  Caveat emptor indeed!
     Next was a quick go round in the celebrity room.  You've got to feel sorry for some of these folks.  Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be.  And at $20 an autograph, it was really hard to open the old wallet and splurge on one. For example, Sybil Danning, B movie Queen of the 80s, was looking old, and was charging extra for autographs on nude photos.  I don't know- having to pay a star for their autograph just seems so... dirty.  You know, the bad kind of dirty. Some say the autograph is free, but the photo costs $20.  Whatever makes you feel better.  Anyway, some of the guests included Dee Wallace Stone (The Howling), Erin Gray (Buck Rogers), Cerina Vincent (Cabin Fever) and some others I didn't recognize offhand. 
     Well time for lunch, and I found much to my consternation that the little eatery that they have has been remodeled and redone and only serves veggie and deli wraps. Swell.  Worse, the Marriott has a deal with Pepsi, and that's all that was available! Ugh.  Thankfully I found that the outside concourse was serving burgers and hot dogs.  By this time, some of the fake brains in the dealer's room were looking good!

I ran into Joe Ripple, of TIMEWARP films (Joe, Don Dohler, Leanna Chamish and a few others were ICS speakers awhile back and ICS members Mitch and Kelly Klein help out with their SPFX).  He told me they were premiering their new movie at 2:30.  So at 2:30 I was there to see the unveiling of their new movie "Dead Hunt".  And you know- it wasn't bad.  It needed some editing and tightening up for some slow spots, but the premise was sound, and there was actually some humor in it!  Plus the cast showed up for publicity purposes, and Leanna is always friendly towards her fans.  It was standing room only, and the audience liked what they saw. 
     Time to check out the dealer's room once more.  There I bumped into Regina, Andrew, and Steve, who had picked up Norman II.  We decided to head to the bar for a few drinks and friendly conversation.  There we ran into some other friends of Andrew's, one who is John Clayton's younger brother. Sometimes the most fun part of all is the socialization, hung on the framework of a convention. 
       After that it was nap time for my stalwart companions. I decided to hang outside and watch the patrons to this year's event.  People are fascinating to watch.  Black shirts are almost mandatory (I knew that, but wore my ICS shirt instead).  Tattoos on every inch of forearm and leg are not unusual. Piercings, either.  But it isn't a crowd like you see at say "Shore Leave" where there are a lot of people who can't get a life so they have to borrow someone else's.  These folks, well if you see them on the street on Monday will still be dressed like they are.  This is their lifestyle. Sometimes uncomfortable for a white bread middle aged guy like myself ("Via con Satan"? brrr!).  But unpretentious, for good or ill.
      I talked with some of the staff, who told me for another year in a row they've outpaced the last one.  This could eventually result in a change of venue one day.  But, they were busy with the con at hand.  Tomorrow is another day.


By Mike Schilling

     Ever since the day it came out, and perhaps even long before that as the trailers and the omnipresent ad campaign was in full swing, I was putting teeth marks in the bit to see POTC 2: Dead Man’s Chest. Both Lisa and I were huge fans of the original, citing several factors…the action, the pacing, the thrilling musical score, the awesome beauty of the settings, and of course the spectacular cast led by the spectacular Johnny Depp (I still say that he was ripped off by not getting that Oscar). 
    Early reaction to the previews only reinforced the idea that this was THE movie event of the summer. I must admit that I was concerned, however, when negative reviews started pouring in on release day…not just negative in many cases, but absolutely devastating. Still, I tried not to pay it that much heed, not allowing “critics” to tell me what and what not to watch. I decided long ago that if such folks told me what was worthy of watching, I’d see nothing but foreign and avant-garde films, and that sci-fi, fantasy, and especially horror were unworthy genres…in other words, OUR kinds of movies.
      Sadly, although I’m not nearly as unsatisfied as many of the pros are, I must admit that I was disappointed with the final results. There are many good things about it, to be sure. But the overall effect of this lumbering, epic 2-and-a-half-hour franchise-builder is wondering what other brands of kitchen sink they could throw into the bubbling cauldron.
     While I was trying my very best to sort out all of the plot mini-threads that are tossed out almost randomly and keep my level of enthusiasm up, Lisa was squirming back and forth in her seat and attempting to look at her watch in the dark - not a good sign. She was not alone.  Over the din of the soundtrack, I kept hearing mutters of “bored” and “confused”. From what I could tell the crowd was paying due attention to the proceedings, yet the laughter, applause, and sense of giddy excitement that was there all the way through POTC just only to be found in fitful spurts in this one. 
      In walking our way back to the car, I was trying to piece together what went right and wrong with the movie. I came to the conclusion that the film had fallen victim to the old Hollywood adage that “more is more”. The original, for all its modern effects and bluster, was a good old fashioned pirate swashbuckler with a fairly straight storyline. Dead Man’s Chest seems to want to be all things to all people - action piece, character study, love story, moral tale, monster movie, etc etc.  All while throwing more and more irons into the fire. 
    I don’t want to give anything away, but in this movie everybody seems to have a different agenda, each one causing pond ripples that affects everything else that’s happening around them. Oftentimes during the course of the story, these agendas switch sides or go in a totally different direction. So, instead of tying up plotlines through the course of the adventure, each new twist creates a new series of ripples that only serve to entangle the storyline and slow down the pacing.
     Now, in the midst of all this, there is still much to enjoy about this picture. Johnny Depp, although not given as much chance to strut and shine this time, is always at the very least fun and interesting to watch as he squirms and shimmies his way through one death-defying trouble-spot after another. 
    The cast, like before, all perform very capably and make it very easy to pull for the good guys and hiss the bad guys. Bill Nighy, even under tons of make-up and CGI, makes a fantastic Davy Jones (as in The Locker, not The Monkees) whose delicious sense of malice provides a great balance for our anti-heroes aplenty. Orlando Bloom has blossomed quite a bit as an actor since we saw him before, and it’s a delight to see Kiera Knightley take a much more active role in moving the story forward as a stronger character, yet losing none of her considerable charm. The action set pieces in many cases have to be seen to be believed, adding fantastical element upon element that actively makes you wonder “How the HELL did they do that?”
     Adding to the feel of the movie is the score, which I believe was done once again by Klaus Badelt, which adds a great deal to the sense of adventure, mystery, and romance to the story. It reminded me of a time when huge-scale instrumental film scores had much to do with the overall success of a movie, and those were good memories indeed.
     Here’s a little taste of the plot. The latest wigged hotshot running Port Royal wants Mr. Turner and Ms. Swann in the pokey for helping Jack Sparrow escape. But, if they can bring Capt. Jack to justice, they can go free. Will goes to find Jack, who is looking for a key to Davy Jones’ chest. That chest contains something that allows Davy to enslave sailors’ souls and live forever in half-man/half-fish form. Meanwhile, Elizabeth makes her own deal to help both guys with more than a little daring, but she has to bring back Jack’s compass that apparently never points North and has very unusual powers. Jack owes Davy his soul, it seems, so naturally, Jack is trying to find a way to purge his debt and/or take charge of Davy’s territory himself by having control of the chest. In the meantime, the wicked wigged one back home wants the same things as Jack, but more as a mercenary as he wants to control the high seas totally via the interests of the East India Tea Company, whose logo keeps turning up on everything, going so far as to sidestep the island’s original governor (Elizabeth’s father) and enlisting the disgraced former Commodore, who has more than one bone to pick with Will and Capt. Jack in his own right. 
    Got a headache yet? 
    This is only the impetus for getting the whole thing started. Naturally, each character spends a great deal of time and trouble finding each other and just missing each other, pursued by cannibals, undead monkeys, Davy’s fish-folk warriors, royal soldiers, huge squid-like sea monsters, and all sorts of colorful characters. 
In between the scenes of active mayhem, we get flashes of pathos as Will is reunited with his father Bootstrap Bill, also in servitude to the squishy evil one, and much romantic hand-wringing and looks of longing and desire for clarity from our principal leads. It’s quite a hodgepodge on paper, isn’t it…it’s not much better on screen.
     Overall, I will still give the movie a slight recommendation, a 2 and a half star rating out of four, I suppose. This is mainly for the sheer epic scope of the movie, the sheer spectacle and complication of the action scenes, some really strong, likable performances, and of course for the pleasure of seeing Johnny Depp once again cavort about in a role made for him. It’s certainly not what it could have been, another round or three of editing of extraneous subplot would have done a lot of good to streamline the story and improve the pacing. Perhaps they’ll be more aware of that and be more careful with POTC 3: AT WORLD’S END, which is due next year. We can only hope.

movie news movie news  Silver Screen  movie news movie news

Aug 6th         Ghost Rider 
Cast: Nicolas Cage (Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider), Eva Mendes, Sam Elliott, Peter Fonda 
Premise:  his is the story of motorcycle stunt performer, Johnny Blaze, who agrees to become the host of a "spirit of vengeance" in exchange 
for the safety of his true love (Mendes), but the price he pays is to be 
cursed with the avenging spirit that takes its form at night as a demon with 
a flaming skull on a motorcycle of hellfire  Based on a comic

Aug 18th     Snakes on a Plane 
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Nathan Phillips, Rachel Blanchard, Julianna Margulies
Premise: A ruthless assassin unleashes a crate full of lethal snakes
aboard a packed passenger jet over the Pacific Ocean in order to eliminate a 
witness in protective custody. The rookie pilot and frightened passengers 
must band together to survive.

Sept 1st         Crank 
Cast: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Efren Ramirez, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Jay 
Premise: Chev Chelios is about to begin his morning with an unexpected wake-up call. 
He hears he has been poisoned in his sleep and only has an hour to live. As it turns out, Chev is a hit man who freelances for a major West Coast syndicate 

farewellsfarewellsfarewells Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells

J. Madison Wright Morris, a former child actress who underwent a heart transplant at 15 and had a heart attack a day after returning from her honeymoon recently, has died. 
Her first major role was in the mid-1990s NBC series Earth 2. She also appeared in the 1997 feature film Shiloh, with her younger sister Tori, and in several television shows, including GRACE UNDER FIRE and ER. Her last role was in the 1998 Disney TV movie Safety Patrol. In Earth 2, she portrayed True Danziger, a motherless girl taught to fend for herself in a world that was centuries in the future. She was 21.

Robert Cornthwaite, a character actor whose first major movie role was as the mad scientist Dr. Carrington in the 1951 horror thriller The Thing from another world, has died at age 89.
In an interview some years ago, Cornthwaite recalled that producer Howard Hawks had selected him personally for the role, "I suppose I'm proudest of that film because Hawks chose me," he said.
Other genre films on his resume include the original War of the Worlds, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, kiss me deadly, on the threshold of space, colssus: the forbin project and the naked monster. His television career was even more prolific, including dramatic roles on shows to numerous to mention and  appearances on such genre series as men into space, thriller twilight zone, voyage to the bottom of the sea, batman, buck rogers in the 25th century and beauty and the beast.

Kurt Kreuger, a Swiss-German actor who fled Hollywood in frustration over being typecast as a Nazi in 1940s war movies, has died. He was 89.
With his Continental accent and rugged good looks, Kreuger was once the third most-requested male pinup at 20th Century Fox, behind Tyrone Power and John Payne. 
He was born in Michenberg, Germany, and raised in St. Moritz, Switzerland. An only child, Kreuger attended the London School of Economics and Columbia University but later dropped out to pursue an acting career.
Among his career highlights are the films a yank in the raf, tonight we raid calais, sahara, mademoiselle fifi, escape in the desert, unfaithfully yours, the enemy below and what did you do in the war, daddy?. He also guest starred in a myriad of television series in the late 1950s and 1960s.
Other films in his long distinguished career include - you’re in the navy now (with fellow vets Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson), from here to eternity, run silent, run deep, wake me when it’s over, the thin red line, the man who lover cat dancing, all the president’s men, death on the nile, the bad news bears, and justice for all, the presidio, toys, bullets over broadway, bulworth and the replacements. He was 85.

Makoto Iwamatsu a.k.a. Mako, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his role in 1966 film The Sand Pebbles, has died. In the film he played the Chinese character Po-han, who spoke pidgin English, called the white sailors in the movie "master," and treated them as such. But through the power of his acting, Mako transformed Po-han and compelled the audience to empathize and identify with the engine-room "coolie." He used this portrayal as well as other stereotype Asian roles to push for more and better roles for Asian American actors. He co-founded East West Players, the nation's first Asian American theater company. 
His other films include the great bank robbery, the green hornet, the island at the top of the world,  the bushido blade, conan the barbarian, Conan the destroyer, pacific heights, robocop 3, rising sun, highlander III, seven years in tibet,  pearl harbor and memoirs if a geisha. He was 72.

Jack Warden, the gravel-voiced character actor and two-time Oscar nominee who appeared in nearly 100 feature films, has died. He won an Emmy award for his portrayal of crusty football coach George Halas in the 1971 television movie Brian's Song. 
Born John H. Lebzelter (German for ”honey cake baker”) in New Jersey on Sept. 18, 1920. He changed his last name to Warden (his father’s middle name) when he went into acting. He was a professional Boxer, a bouncer, a sailor in the Navy and Merchant Marine and a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne during WWII. In 1946 in New York, Warden met Margo Jones, manager of the well-regarded Alley Theatre in Dallas. She asked him to join the company, and he spent five years studying there. He debuted on television in 1950 on the philco playhouse and on Broadway in 1955 in Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge. He first made his mark in the movies in 1957 as the sports-obsessed juror in 12 Angry Men. He received Academy Award nominations for his supporting work in two Warren Beatty vehicles, Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait. 


By John Ward

I’ve been writing this column for over three years, and I figure there have been a few moments when you readers have thought, Huh.  Big shot movie buff.  Thinks he’s seen everything.  He’s not so smart.  I bet he hasn’t seen DESTINATION MOON!
 Well, actually – yes, I have.
 But I haven’t seen FORBIDDEN PLANET.
 While you’re shaking your heads over that one, let me go on by adding there are plenty of movies I haven’t seen.  It’s possible you might think, So what? over a couple of the titles, but I’m willing to bet that most of the movies I mention this month will make you go, Is he kidding?  He hasn’t seen PINK FLAMINGOS?  And he calls himself a movie buff?
 To which I answer:  That’s correct; I haven’t seen PINK FLAMINGOS.
 But I still call myself a movie buff.  And if you’re reading this column, you probably call yourself a movie buff, too.  Because it doesn’t matter what we’ve seen or haven’t seen; what matters is the ever-present thrill of discovering something new.
 I love westerns (an upcoming column topic), but I have never seen the original STAGECOACH – you know, the one that launched John Wayne’s superstar career?  Nor have I seen RED RIVER in its entirety, with the great rivalry between Wayne and Montgomery Clift.  Add to that list most of the westerns that James Stewart made with director Anthony Mann in the ‘50s:  WINCHESTER ’73, BEND OF THE RIVER, THE NAKED SPUR, THE FAR COUNTRY, and MAN OF THE WEST.  (Actually, Gary Cooper starred in that last one.)
 I can’t remember much of the cavalry trilogy that John Ford made with Wayne, so I guess that means I’ve also missed FORT APACHE, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, and RIO GRANDE.  I’ve also missed Ford’s later epics, the ones that essentially closed his career:  HOW THE WEST WAS WON and CHEYENNE AUTUMN.
 Then there’s the genre stuff, the horror and sci-fi films we’re always talking about.  Okay, I’ve already admitted to missing FORBIDDEN PLANET.  (But if you want to help me purge my grief, vote for the flick at the August meeting – I know I plan to.)  But I’ve also missed PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, the one movie that’s on just about everyone’s worst-movie list.  I guess I’ve heard enough people call it a stinker that I’ve never really tried to watch it.  I don’t remember ever watching the very first GODZILLA movie, although I have fond memories of seeing KING KONG VS. GODZILLA when I was five.  
 For horror, although I’ve seen most of the well-known Dracula films – the ones with Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee – I’ve never seen the one that started it all, F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU.  (At this point I should probably note that I have seen clips of many of these films on TV documentaries, etc, but I’m not counting those.)  There have been others I’ve missed, not as famous as NOSFERATU but still touchstones in the genre of horror thrillers: M, THE WICKER MAN, DON’T LOOK NOW, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, DIABOLIQUE, REPULSION, ROSEMARY’S BABY…the list goes on.
 And that list becomes long – really long – when you start talking about foreign films.  Take Fellini, for instance.  Scratch him completely off my list, which means I’ve missed classics like LA STRADA, 8 ½, LA DOLCE VITA, AMARCORD…I’ll own up to seeing his CASANOVA back in college, but since most of his fans consider that one of his weakest efforts, the less said about it the better, I guess.  Then there’s Francois Truffaut.  Who are we kidding?  I’ve never seen a single Truffaut film, which eliminates films like JULES AND JIM, FAHRENHEIT 451, THE 400 BLOWS, DAY FOR NIGHT, and THE LAST METRO.  Now, if you’re talking about Truffaut the actor, I can proudly say I’ve seen CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND! 
 It gets worse, folks.
 You would think the club’s resident Oscar “pool boy” would be up on his Best Pictures.  You would be wrong.  Out of the 78 films that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture, I have missed 29, most coming before 1968 or so.  The Oscars started in 1927 with the World War I classic WINGS, but I can’t lay claim to a Best Picture viewing until 1939 and GONE WITH THE WIND – which means I’ve missed not only WINGS, but also ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, GRAND HOTEL, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, and YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU.  Keep moving down that timeline, and I have to admit I’ve missed REBECCA, MRS. MINIVER, THE LOST WEEKEND, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, Olivier’s HAMLET, and ALL THE KING’S MEN.  And that’s just the ‘40s.
 If you look closely at that list of personal Best Picture snubs and flubs, you might notice that I seem to have missed more than a few musicals.  You’d be right; musicals have never been my genre of choice.  Which means I’ve also missed (Get ready) SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, ANCHORS AWEIGH, A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, SWING TIME, EASTER PARADE, and pretty much any movie where Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland ever got up and roused the kids to put on a show.
 It gets even worse.
 I’ve never seen SOME LIKE IT HOT.  (My wife still can’t accept that one.)
 I’ve missed REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and EAST OF EDEN, which basically means I’ve missed two-thirds of James Dean’s entire career.
 I’ve skipped Robert Altman’s NASHVILLE.
 I’ve missed Martin Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS.
 I’ve missed Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING.
 I’ve never seen Chaplin’s THE GOLD RUSH.  Come to think of it, I’ve never seen MODERN TIMES, CITY LIGHTS, or THE GREAT DICTATOR, either.
 I’ve seen Buster Keaton – once.  (THE GENERAL.)
 I’ve seen Laurel and Hardy – once.  (GO WEST.)
 I’ve seen the Marx Brothers – twice.  (DUCK SOUP and – thankfully – A NIGHT AT THE OPERA.)
 And I haven’t seen a single other movie those comedians have ever made.
 The potholes in my moviegoing highway are practically unmissable, and sometimes I wonder how I can ever get from point A to point B when I’m talking about film.  Let’s face it, when you’ve missed films like THE GRAPES OF WRATH, BRINGING UP BABY, THE PHILADELPHIA STORY – well, it gets a tad more challenging to make comparisons.
 Which means I can’t make comparisons to films like A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, ERASERHEAD, THE HAUNTING, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, INVADERS FROM MARS, JAILHOUSE ROCK, THE LAST DETAIL, LIFEBOAT…oh, the heck with it.  I’m halfway through the alphabet, and I’m too depressed to go on.
 Just kidding.  The point is that there’s a lot out there I haven’t seen, and a lot that I still want to see – that I still need to see.  I guess it’s obvious that my dream job of replacing Roger Ebert has been pretty much snuffed out, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to hang out with some folks every month or so and watch something new and interesting.  And then talk about it.
 Maybe next month, it’ll be westerns.  Either that, or I’ll have to cop to the trash I have seen, which is too embarrassing to talk about.


 What the hell was I thinking?



August 26 (*) Is it ICS-Worthy? Part 2 – CANCELLED – New topic TBA!  Stay Tuned!

September 30 Werewolf Howls at Midnight, films presented by Betsy Childs (Awwwwooooooooooooh!) (yes, that is a howl at the moon)

October 28 (*) Greg Mank Returns -- Lionel Atwill and Murder at the Zoo
  Halloween Potluck Dinner All-Nighter (Spooky and delicious)

November 25 Jackie Chan Part 2 presented by Andrew Kent

December 30 (*) Yankee Swap (Oh Boy!)
  Revenge Movies presented by Regina Vallerani

More exciting themes in 2007!!!

And don’t forget  -

 ICS will have 2 tables in the dealer’s room.  We will need ICS volunteers to work the table, sell our wares and talk up the club to passer-bys.  Sign up at the August meeting or email a board member. We need you!!!