The Official Newsletter of The Imaginative Cinema Society
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March 2007 99



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Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, 
Mike Laird, Sam DiBlasi
John Ward, Joe Plempel, 
Dava Sentz, Jim Childs


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 Sam DiBlasi led a spirited presentation on haunted houses in the movies.  A haunted house is defined as building that is a center for supernatural occurrences or paranormal phenomena.  A haunted house may contain ghosts, poltergeists, or even demons.  Sometimes these presences continue to "haunt" the physical world after a tragic event occurred on the property — such as a murder, accidental death, or suicide — sometime in the recent or even ancient past.  All of these elements can be used to very effectively frighten an audience.  Here is a short list of notable haunted house films.
 One of the first haunted house films was THE HOUSE OF USHER in 1928, based on a novel, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER written in 1839 by Edgar Allen Poe. It concerns a house whose inhabitants live under a terrifying curse.  It was released again in 1960, this time starring Vincent Price, was reincarnated several times, most recently in 2005 in a modernized rendition.
 Many mediocre efforts appeared in the ensuing years, but in 1944, an exceptional film called THE UNINVITED, starring Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey, was released. This is the story of a brother and sister who move into an abandoned house. They're enchanted by the old English charm of the place ... until they discover it's haunted.  (More on this film later).
 In 1963, the now legendary THE HAUNTING was released.  A doctor, out to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates a house with a lurid history of death and violence along with his researchers.  They soon find that the ghostly presences in the house are going to give them their proof.  An execrable remake was released in 1999.
 In the 70’s, two notable haunted house films were released.  The first is THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, starring Roddy McDowell.  Three people, a physicist and his wife, and a young woman with psychic powers, move into Hell House with the aim of solving its mystery.  In 1979, there arrived a classic of the haunted house genre – THE AMITYVILLE HORROR.  Supposedly based on a true story, this movie takes us with the Lutz family into a haunted house on Long Island. It leads us through a sheer reign of terror with rooms filled with flies, ugly demons and an evil spirit that's trying to possess them.
 Stephen King’s THE SHINING from 1980 is one of the greatest haunted house films of all time.  It's not just a room, not just a house, but an entire hotel, and the grounds surrounding it with moving topiary hedges and an eerie maze.
 In 1989, an obscure, made for television British picture called THE WOMAN IN BLACK appeared briefly on the radar.  It plays like an old time ghost story replete with scary sound effects, malevolent apparitions, and a grim back story.  This hard to find gem, which goes for $95 on, is worth seeking out for true fans of the genre.
 The remake of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL came out in 1999.  Geoffrey Rush plans a millionaire, who offers a million dollars to anyone in a group of people who survives a night in a haunted house.  The house was once an asylum for the insane.  Many of the tenants died horrible deaths.  Unfortunately, they've never left. 
 In the 2000s, we have THE OTHERS, which tells the take of a woman and her two photosensitive children who move into a darkened old house, and then discover it may be haunted.  And both Japan and Hollywood put out versions of  JU-ON: THE GRUDGE to film.  It is about a house that holds an evil curse.  Anyone trying to live there dies in a fit of extreme rage.  The curse remains and moves on to the next tenant.
 Sam also asked the club about their personal experiences with any ghostly guests.  Various club members talked about “haunted” sightings with which they were familiar. Just ask Dave Willard about his talking cat or John Ward about the ‘Bottle Cap Killer’. 
 Great job, Sam – we had a lively presentation and the good choice of classic haunted house films! 

 The film chosen for the evening was appropriately titled THE UNINVITED.  Ray Milland stars as Raymond Fitzgerald.  He and his sister Pamela move into an old seaside house they find abandoned on the English coast.  Their original enchantment with the house diminishes as they hear stories of the previous owners and meet their daughter (now a young woman) who lives as a neighbor with her grandfather.  Also heard are unexplained sounds during the night.  It becomes obvious that the house is haunted.  The reasons for the haunting and how they relate to the daughter, with whom Fitzgerald is falling in love, prove to be a complex mystery. As they are compelled to solve it, the supernatural activity at the house increases to a frightening level.  The black-and-white cinematography by Charles Lang adds to the eerie atmosphere of the film and Victor Young's hauntingly lovely theme, "Stella by Starlight", is a minor classic.

 John Weber searched high and low for the uncut version of FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL.  This version showed some extra gory surgery footage that was only available in still form – still seen by Skip Phillips and burned into his imagination.   The film stars Peter Cushing as the good Baron.  He is working in an insane asylum and chooses patients from the ward for his new patchwork creation.  But instead of the brain of a killer, he chooses to put the brain of a gentle violinist into the body of a Neanderthal.  Because his hands were burned by previous encounters with torch wielding mobs, he can no longer perform delicate surgery…thus, the infamous scene where Dr. Frankenstein grabs a tendon between his teeth.  All who stayed were rewarded with true imaginative cinema .  And you can’t escape this column without this little piece of IMDB trivia - Peter Cushing claimed that the wig he was required to wear made him look like Helen Hayes.
 Thanks John and Skip for bringing this film to the club’s attention!

 Charlie Wittig shared a very funny “Trailer Park” clip, featuring such homemade trailers as “10 Things I Hate About Commandments” and “George Lucas Presents Singin’ in the Rain.” Great stuff!
 The OSCAR Pool Winner will be announced at the March meeting.
 The club discussed the possibility of “Quick Trips,” short-notice movie excursions. Watch your email inbox – you never know when these flash trips will happen!!
 Norman Prentiss is doing a reading at the March Horrorfind meeting.  If you want to hear a creepy story – just ask Norman!

 The board announced a special surprise to commemorate the upcoming 100th meeting: a field trip to the new Geppi’s Entertainment Museum at Camden Yards.  The field trip will take place on Saturday, April 7th.  All club members in good standing (with paid-up dues) will receive free admission, compliments of the club’s treasury.  An exact time has not been decided, but we hope to gather at another place, such as a Light Rail stop, and ride to the museum together. (This will relieve parking woes.)  The date was selected to take advantage of the Orioles’ out-of-town schedule.  A sign-up sheet was passed around.  The March meeting is the final time that you can sign-up for the field trip.
 We will gather to enter the museum as a group at 1 P.M.  Club members are encouraged to ride the Light Rail downtown; it stops next door to the museum.  The ICS Treasury will pick up the admission tab for all club members in good standing (paid-up dues), but members are responsible for the admission price for spouses, friends, etc. Members are also responsible for their own light rail tickets, downtown parking, etc. Several members will be meeting at the Lutherville light rail stop at 11:30 A.M. to ride down to the museum.

 John Ward is compiling a Top 100 Genre Movies for our 100th meeting in April 2007.  He will be accepting lists until April 2007 meeting, so please email him with your list ASAP at JOHN5509@COMCAST.NET.  And if you don’t feel like listing 100 movie titles, you can do as little as 1 or 5 or as much as 99 – he will count ‘em all.

 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday March 31st 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. 

  John Ward was so inspired by our original No Stinkers Night, that he decided to do a sequel.  So on March 31st, prepare to be entertained, by one of the best films out there!

 The late night time slot in March is set aside for social time.  There will be NO late movie.  However, if you have a film you’d like to show in April, be prepared to present it to the club because we will be voting for the April late night feature.

    This is just a reminder that dues expire on New Year's Day with an additional grace period until March 31, 2007. It will be time to pony up for the coming year. Individuals are $25. Couples are $40. Extra family members who reside at the same address are $15 each added the primary membership.  We hope that you decide to join us for an exciting year ahead.
 Dues can be paid to Andrew Kent at meetings, sent via Paypal to ICSFILM@HOTMAIL.COM or mailed to Andrew at:
 Andrew Kent
 5025 Green Mountain Circle Apt 6
 Columbia, MD  21044
All Checks should be payable to ‘ICS’ or ‘Imaginative Cinema Society’.

The following members have paid their dues.  If you are missing from this list, please contact Andrew.
Rick Arnold   Betsy Childs   Jim Childs
Vince DiLeonardi  Sam DiBlasi   Heather Fleming
Tim Fleming   James Gernert   Dave Henderson
Norman Jones   Andrew Kent   Mike Laird
Jeanne Matcovich  Barry Murphy   Tom Noll 
Skip Phillips   Joe Plempel   Norman Prentiss 
Justin Proveaux  Tom Proveaux   Robin Richards 
Gary Roberson  Lisa Schilling   Mike Schilling 
Brian Slanger   Richard Smith   Courtney Spies
Jack Tydings   Regina Vallerani  Teeka Vallerani 
Beth Vaught   Steve Vaught   Neil Wagenfer 
John Ward   John Ward (son)  John Weber 
Dave Willard   Charlie Wittig

April 7 Field Trip to Geppi Museum at Camden Yards
April 21 (*) 100th Meeting
 Top 10 Genre Movies as picked by the club, presented by John Ward
May 26 ICS Cookout 
June 30 (*) 
July 28 
August 25 (*) 
September 30
October 27 (*)  Greg Mank Returns
  Halloween Potluck Dinner
November 17 
December 29 (*)  Yankee Swap

(*) denotes Late Night Feature


The Star Trek Movie is moving Forward
     The 'Star Trek' prequel is confirmed to be boldly going... to theaters in Christmas, 2008! 
     Today's big news is Paramount's official announcement of, and accompanying news and semi-rumors surrounding, the production, direction (J.J. Abrams) and release date of the much-anticipated and hotly discussed prequel, Star Trek XI. The aforementioned semi-rumors concern the five actors who may be in varying degrees to star as younger versions of some of the original series' most central characters: Scotty, Sulu, Dr. McCoy, James T. Kirk and... Mr. Spock!
Heroes Changes In Season 2
     Tim Kring, creator of NBC's hit series Heroes, said that the upcoming second season will constitute a new volume in the multi-volume series, with new characters and an entirely new storyline. "If you remember, the opening of the pilot pronounced the episode as the beginning of Volume One," Kring said. "Volume One comes to a conclusion at the end of episode 23, and Volume Two starts with the opening of season two. And Volume Two is a different story." 
     Kring added: "We could have new people and new storylines and new ideas and new threats and new bad guys and new heroes. So I would prepare the audience for that idea, that it's not just a continuing serialized storyline about only these people. It's a little more the 24 model than the Lost model." 
     The first season of Heroes is exploring what happens when a disparate group of ordinary people discover they have extraordinary abilities and attempt to save New York from disaster. 
     "Heroes needs to evolve, and if we are positing an idea that this is happening all over the world to many, many people, then we get to see some of those people and see how their story fits in." 
     Kring also confirmed that some of the current heroes just might not survive this season, but added: "Many of your favorites will live to fight again." 
Bridges on Iron Man
     Jeff Bridges shaved his head bald for the role of Obediah Stone in the Iron Man film.  They are now in the middle of shooting. Bridges said that his bald look and silver goatee were for the role of the mentor of Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr) who becomes Iron Man. Bridges won’t say who the villain is in the movie, “You’ll have to wait and see who it is,” he said. 
     As for the film, Bridges said “I think that what attracts me to the a project is the team that glues it together, and this is a fantastic team.  We have Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau.”  He added “What I like about the story of Iron Man is that he not a typical Superhero where he has all this special power. The story involves corporations and science and things like that.” 
Spider-Man Coming To Kids' WB
     Kids' WB has picked up the animated series The Amazing Spider-Man for the CW's Saturday morning programming block. The new series, from Sony's Culver Entertainment, is expected to launch sometime in early 2008. 
     The show will focus on the start of the Spider-Man mythology, beginning with Peter Parker coping with his newfound powers as he enters his junior year of high school. Greg Weisman (The Batman) will serve as supervising producer, while Victor Cook (Hellboy: Blood and Iron) will be a producer and supervising director. 
     "We'll have plenty of resonant material for the Spider-Man fan, while engaging the Spider-Man novice with the same thrills we experienced when we were first exposed 
to the character," Weisman said. 

Davitian Gets Smart
     Ken Davitian, who played Borat producer Azamat Bagatov, has joined the cast of Warner Brothers' and Village Roadshow's big-screen adaptation of TV's Get Smart, starring Steve Carell. 
     Carell is playing bumbling spy Maxwell Smart, Anne Hathaway is Agent 99, and Alan Arkin is portraying the Chief of CONTROL. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Terence Stamp also have been cast. 
     Davitian will play the evil assistant to Stamp, the head of the nefarious organization known as KAOS. 

 New Hellboy TV Toon Coming
     A second Hellboy animated TV movie, Hellboy: Blood and Iron, will premiere March 17 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network. 
     In the new movie, Professor Broom discovers that someone in New York is attempting to bring back the evil female vampire Erzsebet Ondrusko, whom the professor destroyed 60 years earlier. Erzsebet was known to bathe in the blood of innocents to retain her youth. Professor Broom calls upon three of the top B.P.R.D. agents—Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien—to investigate. 
     Actors from Guillermo del Toro's 2004 Hellboy feature film will give voice to their counterparts in the new film: Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Selma Blair (Liz Sherman) and Doug Jones (Abe Sapien). 

Geek Joy Drives Sci-Fi Boys
     Paul Davids, who wrote and directed the two-hour documentary The Sci-Fi Boys, said that he got in touch with his childhood love of special-effects movies for the special. The documentary—which features interviews with filmmakers Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, among others—makes its TV debut on SCI FI Channel at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Feb. 7. 
     "I think the first [goal] was to capture a moment in my own childhood, which was one of the most magic times I can remember and which was an experience that was shared by other kids across the country," Davids said. "It was a time when special effects were very new." 
     The documentary looks at the work of such special-effects wizards as Rick Baker and Dennis Muren, as well as directors such as Stephen Sommers, and recounts how they were influenced by film historian Forrest J. Ackerman and his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, as well as by special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. 
Famous Monsters "was a 35-cent, black-and-white newsprint magazine with lots of pictures of monsters and spacemen and special effects and very funny quips about all this, all at the mentality of 10- or 12-year-old boys," Davids said. 
     "Because of this, so many kids in my generation got to using their 8-millimeter home-movie cameras to make their own movies, their own productions of flying saucers and mummies and Dracula and dinosaurs and spacemen. And I found that a lot of the kids from that group at that moment in time, from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, became some of the biggest names in the world of special effects and science fiction movies. So part of my motivation was to capture that moment in time." 
     Davids' other goal was pay tribute to Ackerman, Harryhausen and SF author Ray Bradbury while they are still around. "A lot of the heroes of our youth are really getting on in years," Davids said. 
     "Forrest recently turned 90 years old. When I started working with him on The Sci-Fi Boys, I think he must have been around 85. Two of his best friends from the early days, Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury, are also now in their late 80s. I wanted to make an homage to them that really gave them the credit I felt they deserved for having launched the cinema of imagination that involved science fiction and special effects and that became this billion-dollar business that we have now. All of this was the story I wanted to tell." 

Hallstrom Picks Up Sammy
     Oscar-nominated director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) is attached to direct the supernatural romantic comedy Sammy for Columbia Pictures. Penned by Delia Ephron (who is also a co-producer), the story kicks off when a woman who can sense what animals are thinking meets a man who claims to have the same relationship with dead people. 
     Leslie Holleran also is set to produce, contingent upon Hallstrom directing. Laurence Mark is also producing, through his Sony-based production company. Matt Tolmach, Amy Baer and Adam Milano are overseeing for the studio. 

28 Weeks Tongue-Tied Elba
     Idris Elba, who co-stars in the upcoming zombie sequel film 28 Weeks Later, told SCI FI Wire that it was a challenge playing an American general while shooting in his native London. "Yeah, yeah, I'm in London playing an American," Elba said in an interview at San Francisco's WonderCon over the weekend. "This is tough, trust me, you know?" 
     Elba, who next appears in the supernatural thriller film The Reaping, is accustomed to playing Americans, like Baltimore drug lord Stringer Bell on HBO's The Wire. But he's usually been in America doing it, he added, speaking in his native English accent. 
"Everyone around me has always had theseAmerican accents," Elba said. While shooting 28 Weeks Later, he said, "It's like, 'Don't talk to me. Not while I'm acting, dude. You're distracting me.' It was good, though." 
     28 Weeks Later is the sequel to Danny Boyle's 2002 hit zombie movie 28 Days Later and picks up the story six months after the rage virus has annihilated the British Isles. The U.S. Army declares that the war against infection has been won and that the reconstruction of the country can begin. In the first wave of returning refugees, a family is reunited, but one of them unwittingly carries a terrible secret. The virus is not yet dead, and this time it is more dangerous than ever. The film opens May 11.

Not Last Ward, but The Razzies of 2006

          Sharon Stone should have trusted her first "Basic Instinct" and left it alone, according to voters of the Razzies, which mocks the worst of Hollywood. "Basic Instinct 2" won four Razzies on Saturday, including worst picture and worst actress for Stone.
The Wayans brothers comedy "Little Man" placed second with three Razzies, including shared prizes by Shawn and Marlon Wayans for worst actor and worst screen couple.
          The Razzies are held live on Oscar night and were hosted by Courtney Friel and Mike Straka, at 6 p.m. EST on 
         A follow-up to Stone's career-making 1992 hit, "Basic Instinct 2" revived her femme-fatale predator for a murder thriller set in London, with relatively unknown British actor David Morrissey inheriting the victim's mantle from Michael Douglas, the star of the first film who did not return for the sequel.
         Razzies founder John Wilson said that while Stone still looked good in her late 40s, the movie had no other reason to exist. "Yes, she still has some excuse to drop her robe, but the dialogue, the story, the overall attitude of the character is cartoon-like," Wilson said. "You have to sort of wonder, is she vamping the movie or does she think she's giving a serious performance? Is she the lone person on the project who got the joke?"  The other Razzies for "Basic Instinct 2" were worst screenplay and worst prequel or sequel.
           Along with the Razzies for the two Wayans, "Little Man" also won for worst remake or rip-off because it essentially took the premise of a Bugs Bunny cartoon about a pint-sized hoodlum masquerading as a baby and expanded it to feature length, Wilson said.
           The images of Marlon Wayans' grafted head on a 2 1/2-foot man's body were creepy rather than comical, Wilson said. "I will admit there is `so stupid it's funny,' but there is also `so stupid, get out of my face,' and that's what this movie is.".
           Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, a Hollywood darling a few years ago with such blockbusters as "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs," was named worst director and worst supporting actor for his fantasy flop, "Lady in the Water."
           Unable to get Disney, which made his previous hits, to back "Lady in the Water," Shyamalan decamped to Warner Bros., which produced the movie that was based on a bedtime story the filmmaker dreamed up for his children. The movie follows the plight of a mythical water nymph that turns up in a swimming pool at an apartment complex, whose residents band together to send her back to her otherworldly home.
           Shyamalan has a pivotal role as a writer whose book will one day bring salvation to humanity. "He cast himself as the savior role of the film on top of everything else," Wilson said. "Shyamalan falls into one of the traps that's almost guaranteed to win you a Razzie, when you let your ego run rampant as that man did."
            Carmen Electra won for worst supporting actress for "Date Movie" and "Scary Movie 4," the latter featuring her as a character that spoofs Shyamalan's "The Village."
             Robin Williams' road-trip comedy "RV" was chosen as worst excuse for family entertainment.
 Maybe next year ICS should have a ‘pool’ for the Razzies.

There will be a brief, one page 5 question interview each month with and ICS member.  This month, Jim Childs, husband of Betsy and an easy mark for the first interview.

Betsy: This will be a simple interview, just a question of favorites. Your favorites. A chance for other ICS members to find out some interesting, tantalizing and yet unknown facts about you.
Jim: Tantalizing? 
Betsy: Well interesting at least. Or I hope. So, the first question - what is the first movie you can remember being really scared while watching as a child? And what was scary about it to you?
Jim: I remember Black Sunday it was at the movies, and what was scary about it? Well, the woman had holes in her face, I mean holes. In her face! As a kid, that was scary.

Betsy: Question # 2: What is your favorite Simpson's Tree House Of Horror episode?
Jim: Ah, The Simpson’s. Well I know you know this one, but for the readers at  home…Tree house of Horror V - Homer’s time travel episode. That is a classic.

Betsy: Question #3: You are stuck on a desert island with any one of the Bond Girls...which one would it be?
Jim: It would have to be Diana Riggs as Tracy de Vicenzo with a combination of brains and beauty. 

Betsy: Now, Question #4: If you could have any, what would be the one superpower you would want?
Jim: Thought about this one many times. I have to say – Flight. 

Betsy: For our readers, what are some of your favorites for movies shown at ICS since you have been a member?
Jim: Jekyll and Hyde, Mystery Men, The Worlds Most Dangerous Game, Battle Royale

Betsy: And one last question, what TV show have you been most loyal to?
Jim: Well, in the Sci-Fi genre, Smallville.  Definitely. In all over TV, The Simpson's, but a real favorite is the B&W George Reeves as Superman. Wait, hey, that was six questions! Oh well, it was fun.

Next month, another member, another five questions.


 IMAGINATIVE CINEMA - COMING SOON to a Theater near you!

March 2nd   ZODIAC 
Premise: As a serial killer terrifies the San Francisco Bay Area and taunts police with his ciphers and letters, investigators in four jurisdictions search for the murderer. The case will become an obsession for four men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues. 

March 9th    300
Premise: In the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, King Leonidas and 300 Spartans fought to the death against Xerxes and his massive Persian army. Facing insurmountable odds, their valor and sacrifice inspire all of Greece to unite against their Persian enemy, drawing a line in the sand for democracy. 

March 23rd    THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 
Premise: A unit of National Guard soldiers stop at a New Mexican outpost only to find the isolated research camp, just near the hills, and its mysteriously deserted. They don’t know that these are the very hills that the ill-fated Carter family once visited and this time, there is an even larger force of evil at work that is intent on the soldiers' very destruction. 

March 23rd    TMNT 
Premise: After the defeat of their old arch nemesis, The Shredder, the Turtles have grown apart as a family. Struggling to keep them together, their rat sensei, Master Splinter, becomes worried when strange things begin to brew in New York City. Tech-industrialist Max Winters is amassing an army of ancient monsters to apparently take over the world. And only one super-ninja fighting team can stop them-those heroes in a half shell-Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael! With the help of old allies April O'Neil and Casey Jones, the Turtles are in for the fight of their lives as they once again must face the mysterious Foot Clan, who have put their own ninja skills behind Winters' endeavors. 

April 6th    GRINDHOUSE
Premise: Directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez present two full-length movies in a new horror double feature.
In Tarantino's "Death Proof," Austin's hottest DJ, Jungle Julia, sets out into the night to unwind with her two friends Shanna an Arlene. Covertly tracking their moves is Stuntman Mike, a scarred rebel leering from behind the wheel of his muscle car, revving just feet away.
In Rodriguez's "Planet Terror," two doctors find their graveyard shift inundated with townspeople ravaged by sores. Among the wounded is Cherry, a dancer whose leg was ripped from her body. As the invalids quickly become enraged aggressors, Cherry and her ex-boyfriend Wray lead a team of accidental warriors into the night.

farewellsfarewellsfarewells Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells

Peter Ellenshaw, who won the Academy Award as a special effects artist on Disney’s MARY POPPINS, has died. He was 93.
The British-born Ellenshaw's more than 30-year association with Walt Disney Studios began in 1947 when he was hired in London to do matte paintings for Disney's first live-action film, TREASURE ISLAND. He also worked on such films as THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, MAJOR BARBARA, BLACK NARCISSUS, STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN and QUO VADIS.

Charles S. Swartz, an innovative educator who helped push the movie industry into the digital age during his four years as executive director of USC's Entertainment Technology Center, has died. 
Through the USC center, Swartz established a digital cinema lab in 2004 at the Hollywood Pacific Theater that is considered a premier testing ground for new cinema technologies.
He started out in television and film production, serving as an associate producer at Warner Bros. Television, then as head of production at Roger Corman's New World Pictures. Early in his career, Swartz collaborated with his wife on several features. He wrote and directed several B movies, including IT'S A BIKINI WORLD and THE VELVET VAMPIRE. He was 67.

Herman Brix, who parlayed a silver medal for the shot put in the 1928 Olympics into a Hollywood career that included playing Tarzan in a 1935 movie, has died at age 100.
A former University of Washington football and track and field star who played in the 1926 Rose Bowl, Brix moved to Los Angeles in 1929 after being invited to compete for the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
He became friends with actor Douglas Fairbanks, who arranged a screen test for the handsome young athlete at Paramount. But while playing a small role as a running back in the 1931 Paramount college football movie TOUCHDOWN, Brix broke a shoulder. The injury caused the world record-setting shot-putter to fail to qualify for the 1932 Olympic trials. It also ended his chance to play Tarzan at MGM, where he is said to have been the studio's leading candidate for the role. Instead, the star-making role in MGM's 1932 hit TARZAN THE APE MAN went to Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to appear in a string of Tarzan movies. 
But two years later, Brix got his chance to play the jungle hero in THE NEW ADVENTURES OF TARZAN, which was produced by an independent film company whose principals included Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs. In fact, Brix was picked by Burroughs to star in the movie.
He later adopted the stage name Bruce Bennett because Herman Brix was too closely associated with his Tarzan appearance and was in such pictures as MILDRED PIERCE, THE OFFICER AND THE LADY, ATLANTIC CONVOY, SAHARA, DARK PASSAGE and THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.


by John Ward

 Welcome back to the strangely twisted mind of the Oscar Junkie, an annual slave to the television when the Academy Awards rears its ugly head.  (Or is it heads?  Like Harryhausen’s Hydra, or King Ghidorah in DESTROY ALL MONSTERS…but I digress)  If you were here last year, then Charlize Theron’s humpback dress and Three Six Mafia’s Pimped-out Oscar obviously weren’t enough for you.  Okay, you can come along, but keep your hands inside the vehicle and your seat in the upright position.  There will be turbulence.

8:00 P.M.  The 79th Annual Academy Awards won’t start until 8:30, a half-hour later than last year, a fact that sadly escaped me until just now.  Which means I’m faced with The Road to the Oscars, otherwise known as the Pre-Show, otherwise known as the last possible 30 minutes I can safely hit the head without missing any awards, otherwise known as Who Cares?  I decide to stick it out.
8:05 P.M.  Time passes.
8:11 P.M.  Paint dries.
8:14 P.M.  More time passes.
8:19 P.M.  More time passes.  Somewhere, a dog howls.  Or maybe that’s my stomach.
8:22 P.M.  Even more time passes.
8:29 P.M.  That’s it.  Shoot me in the head if I ever pledge to watch the pre-show again.
8:30 P.M.  The show opens with “The Nominees,” a talking-head mini-documentary featuring – you guessed it – every single freakin’ nominee out there.  Even the techies.  A little funny, mostly not, and way too much time spent on faces we don’t know and don’t care about.
8:34 P.M.  All the nominees stand up in the theatre.  Interesting.  Say, would everyone who stayed last night to help put up the decorations please stand?  Let’s give ‘em a hand…
8:35 P.M.  Host Ellen DeGeneres walks out, says it’s a “dream come true.”  Her shtick sounds a little nervous.
8:43 P.M.  At the end of one of the longer opening monologues in recent memory, Ellen breaks out a tambourine and welcomes a gospel choir to the stage.  I’m not making this up.
8:44 P.M.  45 minutes after I first turn on the TV, we have our first award.  Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig present Art Direction.  Looks like Nicole stole a page from Charlize’s tortured fashion playbook, because there’s a big ol’ humpy bow on her shoulder.  Except her gown is blood red, so this bow looks like it’s in mortal pain.  Craig just looks pained.  The Oscar goes to PAN’S LABYRINTH.
8:47 P.M.  Maggie Gyllenhaal comes out to confess that she drew Geek Duty this year – the hottie hostess of the Scientific and Technical Awards.  Next year, just for laughs, they oughta hire someone like Kathy Bates or Judi Dench to host.  The geeks would revolt.
8:52 P.M.  Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and actor John C. Reilly do a slightly entertaining song-and-dance number about Comedians at the Oscars, which strangely segues into the Makeup Award, won by PAN’S LABYRINTH.  Current score:  PAN - 2, The Rest of the World – Zip.
8:59 P.M.  Two little kids, Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith, present the Animated and Live Action Shorts Awards.  They are actually a refreshing improvement over last year’s presenters, which I believe were animated waterfowl.  THE DANISH POET wins Animated Short, and WEST BANK STORY wins Live Action Short.
9:05 P.M.  A LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA montage, with narration from Clint Eastwood.  This looks like one for the Netflix queue.
9:11 P.M.  We are subjected to a salute to “Sound in Cinema,” a clipfest accompanied by the Hollywood Chorale Sound Effects Choir.  I didn’t even know such a group existed, but I am not in the least bit surprised.
9:13 P.M.  The Parade of Slightly Pained Oscar Presenters continues, with Steve Carell and Greg Kinnear presenting Sound Editing.  LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA wins.  It must have been the montage that did it.
9:17 P.M.  James McAvoy (Forest Whitaker’s scratching post in THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND) and Jessica Biel (I wish I was her scratching post) present the award for Sound Mixing.  DREAMGIRLS wins.  I expect to hear this title again, and soon.
9:20 P.M.  Well, maybe not so soon.  Rachel Weisz presents the Supporting Actor award, and in the first big upset of the night, Alan Arkin for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE beats out Eddie Murphy for DREAMGIRLS.  I glance at the clock and note that it took nearly an hour to present the first important award.
9:24 P.M.  Ellen D. walks the aisle.  I was afraid she’d try some of this starry-eyed man-in-the-street crap.  She tries to push her “screenplay” on Scorsese, who laughingly takes it.
9:25 P.M.  An interpretive dance troupe – didn’t catch the name – presents the logo of HAPPY FEET via shadows from behind a screen.  Sure looks like they’re naked behind that thing.
9:29 P.M.  A montage from THE DEPARTED, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.  No need for Netflix – I’ve already bought the DVD.
9:30 P.M.  Wimp-rock maestros James Taylor and Randy Newman warble Newman’s nominated song, “Our Town,” from CARS.  I’m shocked; I didn’t know Thornton Wilder worked for Disney.
9:33 P.M.  Melissa Etheridge sings her nominated song, “I Need to Wake Up,” from AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.  It’s the first time I can ever remember a song being nominated from a documentary.
9:35 P.M.  DiCaprio and Al Gore come out to announce that the Oscars have “gone green” for the first time.  No offense, but that carries about as much dramatic weight as trotting out the Price-Waterhouse guys so they can hold up their briefcases.  There’s a funny bit when Leo talks Al into making an “announcement,” but the band plays Al off before he can say anything.
9:42 P.M.  Cameron Diaz, the winner of the Wind Tunnel Award for the night’s ugliest hairdo, presents the Animated Feature award.  In another upset, HAPPY FEET stomps all over CARS and MONSTER HOUSE.
9:45 P.M.  Ben Affleck presents a montage of clips showcasing “Writers in the Movies.”  The world yawns.
9:48 P.M.  Tom Hanks and Helen Mirren come out to present the Adapted Screenplay award, which William Monahan wins for all the f-bombs in THE DEPARTED. 
9:50 P.M.  I use a commercial break to hit the head and grab a snack; I make it back in time, which means I’m already ahead of last year’s pace.  I take this as a good sign.
9:59 P.M.  Starlets Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway, fresh from THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, appropriately present the award for Costume Design.  In another upset, MARIE ANTOINETTE wins.  Things are starting to look bad for DREAMGIRLS.
10:04 P.M.  Tom Cruise presents the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to film executive Sherry Lansing.  My wife Terri thinks Tom’s slumming, appearing so early in the show.  Lansing gets the first standing ovation of the evening.  I’m guessing half the people applauding have probably been hired by her at least once.
10:10 P.M.  Ellen patrols the aisles again.  Clint Eastwood pretends disgust that she’s not offering a script to him, too.  There’s a slightly funny bit where Ellen gets Spielberg to take her picture with Clint, and she gives him advice on how to hold the camera.
10:11 P.M.  Gwyneth Paltrow, soon to be seen by fanboy geeks everywhere for her role as Pepper Potts in the upcoming IRON MAN movie, presents the Cinematography award.  PAN’S LABYRINTH wins.  Guillermo del Toro, the un-nominated director, is getting a lot of onscreen face time, because all the PAN winners keep thanking him.
10:16 P.M.  That shadow dance troupe shows up again to form the shape of the VW bus from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.  Wife Terri:  “How’d they do that?”
10:19 P.M.  Naomi Watts and Robert Downey, Jr. present the award for Visual Effects.  Downey looks pretty scruffy for a guy who’s playing Tony Stark in that IRON MAN movie.  PIRATES 2 wins.
10:23 P.M.  Catherine Deneuve and Ken Watanabe present a montage of Foreign Film Oscar winners.  I manage to keep up with the subtitles.
10:29 P.M.  Clive Owen and Cate Blanchett present Best Foreign Film.  Germany’s THE LIVES OF OTHERS wins in a fairly large upset over PAN’S LABYRINTH, which I thought had been building steam.  No more face time for del Toro.
10:33 P.M.  George Clooney presents the Oscar for Supporting Actress, and to no one’s surprise, Jennifer Hudson wins for DREAMGIRLS.
10:37 P.M.  The wife packs it in for the night.  The husband vows to soldier on.
10:40 P.M.  A montage of clips from BABEL, narrated by stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
10:41 P.M.  Eva Green and Gael Garcia Fernal (Geez, I hope I got that right) present the award for Documentary Short.  THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT wins.
10:44 P.M.  Jerry Seinfeld comes out to present the award for Documentary Feature, but first he does a couple of minutes of refreshingly humorous stand-up.  (As opposed to 99% of the boring award presenter shtick.)  AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH wins, as expected, and Al Gore gets the second standing ovation of the night.
10:49 P.M.  Clint Eastwood presents a special Oscar to legendary film composer Ennio Morricone.  Clint muffs his speech and confesses, “I should have worn my glasses.”  After a nice montage of clips and music, Celine Dion comes out to sing a song written to Morricone’s music from ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA.  It pretty much stops the festivities cold.  Morricone comes out and gets the third (and most deserved) standing ovation of the night.  Question to self:  Is that a really fat Quincy Jones sitting next to Morricone’s wife, wearing a patchwork quilt for a suit?
11:01 P.M.  I run upstairs for the second time on a commercial break, testing my luck – and it holds.  I grab a bottle of IBC Diet Root Beer and make it back in time.
11:06 P.M.  Hugh Jackman and Penelope Cruz present the Oscar for Original Score.  Baltimore is mentioned twice and gets a laugh.  (Don’t ask.)  BABEL finally wins an award.
11:09 P.M.  Ellen makes the annual “emcee joke at Jack Nicholson’s expense.”  Academy president Sid Ganis does his rah-rah spiel in under 60 seconds because DeGeneres bets him he can’t do it.
11:11 P.M.  Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire present the Original Screenplay award.  LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE wins, as expected.
11:19 P.M.  Jennifer Lopez introduces the nominated songs from DREAMGIRLS, sung by Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, and Anika Noni Rose, the stars of the film.  Hudson defies gravity to keep from spilling out of her gown.  The gospel choir returns to help wrap things up.  I feel so lifted.
11:27 P.M.  John Travolta and Queen Latifah present the Oscar for Original Song.  In a not so major upset, Melissa Etheridge wins for “I Need to Wake Up,” from AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, thereby skunking the DREAMGIRLS crew.
11:34 P.M.  Another barrage of clips, this time from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, narrated by Steve Carell.
11:35 P.M.  Will Smith introduces a Michael Mann-created montage showcasing “America through the movies.”  It’s the first montage that holds my attention all the way through.
11:40 P.M.  Kate Winslet presents the Film Editing award.  THE DEPARTED wins, and Thelma Schoonmaker’s thank you speech practically has Scorsese in tears.  I bet if Scorsese wins, he gets a standing O.
11:44 P.M.  Jodie Foster walks out to introduce the annual “In Memoriam” montage.  There is a shot of Jack Palance doing one-armed push-ups.  Don Knotts and Darren McGavin get their recognition a year late.
11:51 P.M.  Philip Seymour Hoffman presents the Oscar for Actress.  His hair looks worse than Cameron Diaz; evidently he went straight from the wind tunnel to the grease pit.  Helen Mirren wins her expected award for THE QUEEN.
11:54 P.M.  Another shadow thingie from that dance troupe; this time they form a gun from THE DEPARTED.  Okay, this is now an officially creepy bunch of people.
11:56 P.M.  Backstage, “red carpet” commentator Chris Connelly notes that “If you had AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH in the office pool for Best Song, you probably won’t have to buy donuts in the morning.”  Yeah, but would it have beaten Three 6 Mafia?
12:00 A.M.  Reese Witherspoon presents Best Actor.  She looks like a blonde raccoon.  Forest Whitaker wins, and delivers a pretty good speech.  I still remember his first film – he played the jock whose sports car is trashed by Sean Penn in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH.  He’s come a long way.
12:06 A.M.  The triad of Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas come oout to present the Director award.  They get a good laugh at Lucas’ expense.  Coppola notes the Academy made a good choice to present this award, seeing as how they’ve all won at least two Oscars each, and George meekly raises his hand to note, “Uh, guys, I’ve never won one.”  Spielberg:  “Then what are you doing here?”  Martin Scorsese finally wins his Oscar, and gets a huge standing ovation – the fourth of the night.  Scorsese quips, “Could you double check the envelope?”
12:11 A.M.  Just when you thought the clips well had run dry, a montage of moments from THE QUEEN is shown, with Mirren’s narration.
12:12 A.M.  Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton come out together to present the award for Best Picture.  This is Jack’s second year in a row presenting the top award.  I guess that makes him King Oscar.  Why is he bald, anyway?  He looks like Daddy Warbucks in a remake of ANNIE.  THE DEPARTED wins the final award of the night, its fourth, which puts it on top of the evening’s list.
12:16 A.M.  Ellen D. says good night.  Three hours and forty-six minutes, par for the course.  I yawn and go to bed.
5:30 A.M.  I wake up and begin planning my list of potential candidates for next year’s Oscars.  My wife declares me officially insane.


March 2nd   ZODIAC 

March 9th    300

March 23rd    THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 

March 23rd    TMNT 

March 31st ICS MEETING on Saturday at 5:30 P.M. 
 John Ward was so inspired by our original No Stinkers Night, that he decided to do a sequel.  So prepare to be entertained, by one of the best films out there! 

March 31 Son of No-Stinkers Night, presented by John Ward
April 7 Field Trip to Geppi Museum at Camden Yards
April 21 (*) 100th Meeting  & Top 10 Genre Movies as picked by the club
May 26 ICS Cookout
June 30 (*)
July 28
August 25 (*)
September 30
October 27 (*)  Greg Mank Returns; Halloween Potluck Dinner & All-Nighter
November 17
December 29 (*)  Yankee Swap

(*) denotes Late Night Feature