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Dick Smith R.I.P.

The-Exorcist_Dick-SmithRenowned Makeup FX Wizard Dick Smith has passed. His contribution to the genre and the world of Makeup FX, so integral to horror and cinema at large, is impossible to overstate.

Born in 1922 in Larchmont, New York, Smith began his career in 1945 as the first staff makeup man at NBC. Until his official debut in feature films in 1962, Smith applied makeup on a host of television series, including two remarkable visages in episodes of the anthology series WAY OUT (“Soft Focus,” “False Face”).

Pioneering the use of foam latex for intricate, richly detailed designs, Smith’s work was perhaps most stunning (and best known) in William Friedkin’s 1973 classic The Exorcist. Smith also considered it his most accomplished work, and in a 2007 Washington Post profile, his former assistant and now FX legend Rick Baker helps illustrate why:

” ‘The Exorcist’ was really a turning point for makeup special effects,” Baker says. “Dick showed that makeup wasn’t just about making people look scary or old, but had many applications. He figured out a way to make the welts swell up on Linda’s stomach, to make her head spin around, and he created the vomit scenes.”

Of course, Smith’s filmography and influence extends farther than just The Exorcist. In 1965, Smith penned the essential DICK SMITH’S DO-IT-YOURSELF MONSTER MAKE-UP HANDBOOK and his entire career is an index of fantastic, otherworldly work including the likes of Dark Shadows, Little Big Man, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Burnt Offerings, Altered States, The Fury, Ghost Story and Amadeus, for which he won an Oscar in 1984. Smith’s second Oscar came in 2011, when the technician of horror received an Academy Honorary Award for “for his unparalleled mastery of texture, shade, form and illusion.”

The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?

Thank God this never got made… In 1993, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to Superman because of the renewed interest in the property following “The Death of Superman” comic book story arc. Jon Peters was the executive producer and he was focused on making a Superman film that was family-friendly as well as toy-friendly. Several writers were brought in, but in time their scripts were rejected. One of them was Kevin Smith, who tells a laugh-out-loud “Giant Spider” account of this moment in his life with Jon Peters. Smith was let go when Tim Burton was brought on to direct. Burton wanted to add his own unique elements to the script, so he hired Wesley Strick (“Cape Fear”).

Burton’s version would’ve had Nicolas Cage playing Superman. Kevin Spacey was approached for Lex Luthor, Chris Rock was set for Jimmy Olsen, Courtney Cox was up for Lois Lane, and Tim Allen claims he was negotiating with Warner Bros. for the Brainiac part. The film quickly went into pre-production with an expected release in the summer of 1998.

When you consider how bad Burton has steadily gotten over the years this looks like we were saved from an awful Superman… Check out the backstory to the film-that-never-was: The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Comic Con Trailer

Peter Jackson’s bloated Hobbit trilogy wraps with the final chapter The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies which he gave fans a sneak peek at over the weekend at Comic-Con. Warner Bros. has now released the trailer first seen in Hall H at the convention, in which the heroes of Middle Earth must contend with the ferocious dragon Smaug and the fast-mobilizing forces of Sauron, the latter of which took center stage in The Lord Of The Rings. Here’s the new look at the December 17 release set to hit theaters in 3D, 2D, IMAX, and the awful High Frame Rate 3D.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Comic Con Trailer

Warner Bros. publicly unveiled the first footage from Mad Max: Fury Road yesterday in Hall H at Comic Con, and I wish I could have seen it on the big screen. This looks like an IMAX trip because it is staggeringly huge. Director George Miller described the film as being right in line with his three previous Max films — “a very simple allegory, almost a Western on wheels.”

The Last Of Us – Sam Raimi

the-last-of-us-remasteredSam Raimi was at comic-con with Neil Druckmann, creator of the Naughty Dog game The Last Of Us, to talk about how that PlayStation 3 survival horror action game is being turned into a feature with Raimi producing and Druckmann now writing the screenplay. Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper, whose previous big videogame-to-movie transfer was Resident Evil, basically has given over big creative controls to Druckmann in the movie transfer. That includes casting, and choice of director.

At this point, Hugh Jackman and Josh Brolin have been the consensus fan favorites to play the role of Joel, and the choice most heavily favored to play Ellie is Maisie Williams, the Game Of Thrones star who’s so sparked about this prospect that she would have shown up for today’s panel were she not waylaid by being part of an Entertainment Weekly cover shoot for Game Of Thrones.

Said Raimi: “It’s gonna be a great character journey, a great love story, and great horror fiction.” Raimi also took a moment to tease the prospect of more Evil Dead: “I always loved working on that series with Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, and my brother and I are writing the Evil Dead TV show right now… with Bruce Campbell.” They even toyed with the idea of having Campbell be in the Last Of Us film adaptation, Campbell has been intertwined with Raimi since 1981′s The Evil Dead. That film, by the way, is a touchstone for Druckmann and the creatives behind the Naughty Dog vidgame empire.

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