Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Octoberama! Yvonne Craig!

Batgirl fears no tricks!

Clark Kent Quits the Daily Planet - Just as I Quit Reading "Superman"

I'll be honest with you.

I wasn't going to pick up issue #13 of DC's recently relaunched Superman title, anyway.  I really didn't believe DC could flail about any worse with the character than it seemed they were doing during periods of the Eddie Berganza editorship of the Superman Family of books in the 00's - back when continuity changed with every writer - or when DC seemed to be forcing year-long, family-wide, editorial directed stories upon the Superman books prior to the New 52.

A few months back I read Scott Lobdell was coming on Superman, and at the time I decided that would mark the end of my readership on the title.  I'm not even worried about having a hole in my collection as comics from this era depreciate in value by 75% the minute you walk out the door, anyway, so it doesn't really matter for my collection.  If I want to eventually read the comics or just fill the gap, I'll buy them in a bin at Half Price Books where someone will dump them a few months from now and it'll still be cheaper than buying them digitally.

In case you can't tell, I'm not just not a fan of Mr. Lobdell's work, but DC's direction - particularly around Superman - the character - which has been reflected largely in Superman - the comic.

Today it became news for some reason that Superman was going to quit working at The Daily Planet and start his own website or something.  I guess.  Something social media-y that the kids will relate to.  Apparently he makes some speech about how the news business isn't just about sensationalism, its supposed to be about Truth, Justice and The American Way and then runs out the door crying.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October Watch: An American Werewolf in London

I cannot begin to come to An American Werewolf in London (1981) objectively.  I had to leave work fifteen minutes early or so to make the picture, and someone said "I've never seen it.  Is it good?" (my co-workers are well aware of my love of movies like The Room, so my interest in a movie is not a sign of my belief in the film's quality).

I paused and said "You know, I don't really know.  I've seen this movie a half dozen times since I was sixteen or seventeen, and I know I like it."  And I suspect that's true for a lot of us who saw the movie when we were the right age to enjoy the horror, the comedy (it is a wickedly funny movie), the sex, and the rather pragmatic ending to the film.  Like the better horror films, you don't really worry about the bad science, the faults in the make-up or effects (and this is Rick Baker so the effects were completely groundbreaking for 1982 and still look mostly terrific.  @#$% CGI.) because its not about whether you can see the string on the bats or the seam in the creature's suit.  In a weird way, as expensive as a creature feature could be to produce, it really is about the story.

Octoberama! Veronica Lake!

When its Veronica Lake, we really don't know what else we could possibly ad.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

I do not travel much in a non-work-related capacity, but I hit London about a year and a half ago with The Admiral and my brother.

Jason and I were on a mad dash through the National Gallery, trying to see a Greatest Hits of the museum, and as we darted into one gallery I stopped cold in my tracks.

The picture at the far end of the gallery was The Execution of Lady Jane Grey (1833, Paul Delaroche).

When I considered doing a post, I was shocked to read that the painting is only 3 metres wide.  In my mind, it seemed twice that large.  Perhaps that's the impact of surprise.  Perhaps the website of the National Gallery is incorrect (it is not).  No matter the case, when I've tried to describe the painting, I am certain I have told people "that thing must have been 20 feet across".

Octoberama! Sundays with The Bride!

Here's a bevy of posters used to promote screenings of The Bride.

FYI - you can see The Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein on the the BIG SCREEN on October 24th!

Get tickets now at Fathom Events. These are two of my favorite films of all time. If you're in Austin and want to go, let me know!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Octoberama! Phantom of the Opera - Masque of the Red Death

Over the years, it was somehow mostly forgotten that at one point, a lot of early movies were tinted for color.  The film might be shot in black and white, but the prints themselves would be processed with a tint to have color that evoked the mood, etc...  However, by 1925 there was already a two-color process, and that's what you're seeing here.

The Lon Chaney starring Phantom of the Opera (1925) is a beautiful movie if you've never seen it.  At least some of the prints feature color, and the Masque of the Red Death sequence, even without color, was always powerful stuff.  With color - I think it's amazing.

At this point in the film, the Phantom has been causing problems (including deaths) but has been unseen.  Here he strides into the middle of a party of the wealthiest in Paris and threatens them all from behind the skeleton mask of Death.

Here it is - silent. You can provide your own music in your own head.

You can see the color better here, but I forewarn you, its synched to the music of the Broadway musical of the same name.

In the first movie and the book, unlike the musical, The Phantom is a spooky bad-ass. So if all you know if Andrew Lloyd-Webber, I recommend looking up the 1925 film.

October Watch! Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

If you've never seen Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), it's an absolute blast of a movie and pretty much sets the tone for every succeeding creature feature to follow - but it also leans a bit on the set-up of movies like King Kong.  Intrepid explorers/ scientists have some vital but benign evidence, return to the spot  far from civilization where it was found, and modern man can't deal with the havoc that ensues when an unexpected monster appears (and makes off with the stunningly attractive woman along for the ride).

Creature is fun partially because of the raw science-adventure tone that movies like Prometheus try to capture, of lantern jawed scientists throwing themselves into the path of danger in the name of discovery - along with a scrubby but affable crew along for the adventure who know their protocols are there for a reason.  As well as knowing natives may be superstitious, but they're also not crazy, so sometimes you just avoid their "Black Lagoons" if they suggest that's not a good place to bring your boat.  But: SCIENCE.

Happy Birthday, Bela Lugosi

Today is Bela Lugosi's 130th Birthday.

Born Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó in Hungary, Lugosi arrived in America in the early 1920s. By 1927 he was cast as Count Dracula in a Broadway show.

Most famous for his role as Dracula in the 1931 film, Lugosi found himself typecast and caught in a strange whirlwind of the Hollywood system which kept him in spook pictures, more or less, his entire career.

It's the Halloween season.  Go out and get yourself a copy of Dracula if you've never seen the original movie.  He's pretty darn good.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Octoberama! Fridays with Elvira!

DC rebranded "House of Mystery" as an Elvira book, which was kind of an interesting idea

In addition to her work in TV and movies, Elvira has been a fixture of comics off and on since the 1980's.  She was at DC on and off for years, and had a series at Claypool comics as recently as 2005 or 2006.

She has also had various pinball machines and casino slot machines made under her name.

This game is totally fun in real life, and recently became available as an iPhone app.

I'd argue the sequel is even more fun, but is not available as an app.

She's also got her own slot machine.

This isn't to mention all the toys and dolls that are out there in her likeness.

Truly, the lady's copyrighted image is applicable just about anywhere.  I look forward to sitting down to breakfast and my Elvira-O's.