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 Amazon.com, 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
FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL
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!
THIS ‘N’ THAT
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
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
100TH MEETING TREAT!
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
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.
TOP 100 GENRE MOVIES
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.
NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING –LAST SATURDAY IN MARCH
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.
MARCH PRESENTATION – SON OF NO STINKERS NIGHT
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!
MARCH LATE NIGHT ACTIVITIES
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:
5025 Green Mountain Circle Apt 6
Columbia, MD 21044
All Checks should be payable to ‘ICS’ or ‘Imaginative
The following members have paid their dues. If
you are missing from this list, please contact Andrew.
Rick Arnold Betsy Childs Jim
Vince DiLeonardi Sam DiBlasi Heather
Tim Fleming James Gernert
Norman Jones Andrew Kent Mike
Jeanne Matcovich Barry Murphy Tom
Skip Phillips Joe Plempel
Justin Proveaux Tom Proveaux Robin
Gary Roberson Lisa Schilling Mike
Brian Slanger Richard Smith
Jack Tydings Regina Vallerani Teeka
Beth Vaught Steve Vaught Neil
John Ward John Ward (son) John Weber
Dave Willard Charlie Wittig
LOOK AHEAD - 2007 SCHEDULE
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 (*)
August 25 (*)
October 27 (*) Greg Mank Returns
Halloween Potluck Dinner
December 29 (*) Yankee Swap
(*) denotes Late Night Feature
TV NEWS/MOVIE NEWS
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
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
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
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,
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
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 FOXNews.com
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
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
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
Robin Williams' road-trip comedy "RV" was chosen as worst excuse for family
Maybe next year ICS should have a ‘pool’ for
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
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
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
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
CINEMA - COMING SOON to a Theater near you!
IMAGINATIVE CINEMA - COMING SOON to a Theater
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'
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.
Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells
Peter Ellenshaw, who won the Academy
Award as a special effects artist on Disney’s MARY POPPINS, has died. He
He did matte paintings and other
special effects for more than 30 other Disney films, including 20,000
THOUSAND LEAGIUES UNDER THE SEA, DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, THE
ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR, POLLYANNA, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON, THE HAPPIEST
MILLIONAIRE, THE LOVE BUG, THE ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD and THE BLACK
HOLE. He also did matte paintings for Disney TV fare, such as DAVY CROCKETT,
KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER, ZORRO and TEXAS JOHN SLAUGHTER.
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 then went on to star in a
number of serials including THE SHADOWS OF CHINATOWN, FIGHTING DEVIL DOGS,
HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS, THE LONE RANGER and DAREDEVILS OF THE RED CIRCLE.
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
THE LAST WARD . . .
THE LAST WARD
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
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 –
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
CALENDER OF EVENTS