Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Posts tagged “Steven Spielberg

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Jaws – Mondo Comic Con by Nico Delort

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Amity Island Posters by Ape Meets Girl

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Here are Amity Island: Beach Open and Amity Island: Beach Closed by Kevin M. Wilson aka Ape Meets Girl. Both prints are already sold out.

The key focus was the town of Amity and to reference the sign in a way that it welcomes you into the town before and after the shark attack. The prints are full of film references and easter eggs from the Reservoir that Police Chief Brody sends his son to play in, to his house (and letter box), the broken fence to the detail on the beach and buoy in the sea and not forgetting the sign. There may also be an appearance from Jaws himself in one form or another for those who are eagle eyed…there’s more than one shark reference.

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Poltergeist – Movie Poster Art

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Poltergeist – Foreign Posters

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Poltergeist – Remake News

PoltergeistMore sad remake news is that the remake of Poltergeist will be a very PG friendly film. I know that the original was borderline but the difference being that it was so well done… something you can barely say about any of the plethora of remakes over the last decade.

Collider spoke to Sam Rockwell and asked him about the remake. Had he seen any footage yet:

I’ve seen a little in looping. I hope it’s good. I really don’t know. I really wish I could tell you. I’m praying that it’s – I mean, it’s gonna be hard to live up to the first one. The first one’s pretty damn good. This one’s gonna be in 3D though, I can tell you that.

The actor then added a bit more about the film’s protagonist and angle:

The 10-year-old boy is really the protagonist this time. JoBeth Williams was the protagonist for the most part in the first one and now the kid, it’s really through his point-of-view. So it’s more of a kids’ movie so I don’t know if it’s gonna be like rated-R scary.

The first wasn’t R-rated scary, as mentioned above, but it was pretty damn scary. Rockwell elaborates:

It’s not like Conjuring type of scary. You know, it’s a different kind of movie. It’s more of an adventure. It’s essentially a child abduction film when you come down to it. I mean, the original Poltergeist is too.

The Poltergeist remake will probably be PG-13 as per Film Ratings HERE. It’s rated PG-13 for “intense frightening sequences, brief suggestive material, and some language.”


Tintin Meets H. P. Lovecraft

Tintin_HP-Lovecraft_1Graphic designer Muzski has created an incredibly fun series of art that takes Hergé’s classic comic character Tintin and throws him into the terrifyingly awesome universe of H.P. Lovecraft.

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Jurassic World – Full Trailer

So much for holding the trailer back until it’s cinema bow on Thursday.. due to leaks everywhere Universal has made the Jurassic World trailer available early… and it looks like great fun.


Jurassic World – Teaser

The official trailer for Jurassic World premieres next Thursday, but Universal is teasing the Thanksgiving treat with a 15-second preview. Directed by Colin Trevorrow from a screenplay he penned with Derek Connolly, there’s been much kept under wraps about the new film’s plot. But we do know that it involves a theme park, and, dinosaurs (some of them genetically modified)…


The Jurassic World – Viral Site

Jurassic-WorldThe Jurassic World viral site is masraniglobal.com. The site is technically for a company called Masrani Global, which, in the film, is the construction company which helped to build and create Jurassic World. The site has a ton of images, some of which feature actors Irrfan Khan and B.D. Wong, as well as some history of the island and park which opened (according to the site) in June 2005. You can read quotes from the site below or click to see it HERE.

Soon after the acquisition of InGen in 1998, Simon Masrani looked to work at a plan that seemed impossible given the circumstances of the years preceeding – the control and re-invention of a new theme park on Isla Nublar. Experts from the Masrani company were collected together, along with Dr. Henry Wu from the InGen company, to plan for the greatest theme park and attractions ever constructed in humankind’s history.

Simon Masrani used subsidaries Axis Boulder Engineering and Timack Construction to work on the preparation and planning prior to construction on the island. Construction workers were protected from native wildlife by InGen security over the course of the three years from 2002 until completion in 2004. With over $1.2 billion alone spent in concrete and building materials, this project was never underestimated.

The most incredible thing about the project for me was the fact that we were able to construct so far off the mainland, while maintaining all deadlines”, explains Jurassic World Project Manager Mr. Eli Jacobs. “The logistics and the planning were just incredible. Security teams, perimeter fencing, scientists, quarantine zones … it was quite the atmosphere.”

Simon Masrani was taking no chance.

Simon adds, “The sense of security proved vital in the establishment of Jurassic World. The media were having a frenzy at the time, conservation groups around the globe were looking and waiting for any incident to tarnish our reputation to try and take Isla Nublar away from us. We had to set a feeling of safety, for when the time came for opening in 2005, we had to ensure people were willing to come.

And come they did … Jurassic World officially opened in June 2005 to an incredible 98,120 visitors in its first month of operation.


Lord Richard Attenborough R.I.P.

Richard-Attenborough-MagicTwo-time Oscar-winner Lord Richard Attenborough has died in England at the age of 90 after a glittering career on both sides of the camera that included acting in films such as Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place and Jurassic Park, and directing and producing Oh! What a Lovely War, A Bridge Too Far, Magic, Gandhi and Chaplin. 

Attenborough won the Oscar for best director in 1983 for his work on Gandhi, and for Best Picture for producing Gandhi.  He also won three Golden Globes for supporting actor in Doctor Doolittle and The Sand Pebbles, and as director for Gandhi, which seemingly won everything the year it came out (its Oscar total was eight). His directing of musical adaptation A Chorus Line and Cry Freedom, the biopic about slain anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, also earned Golden Globe nominations.

Attenborough’s relationship with BAFTA (where he served as president for seven years, beginning in 2002) was even longer, beginning in 1959 and including 11 BAFTA Award nominations and four wins.

Sir Ben Kingsley, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal in Gandhi, issued a statement as well:  “Richard Attenborough trusted me with the crucial and central task of bringing to life a dream it took him twenty years to bring to fruition. When he gave me the part of Gandhi, it was with great grace and joy. He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn, I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him. I, along with millions of others whom he touched through his life and work, will miss him dearly.”

Steven Spielberg, who directed Attenborough in Jurassic Park, also issued a fond statement: “Dickie Attenborough was passionate about everything in his life. Family, friends, his country and career. He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic Gandhi and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park.  He was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him.”

Attenborough had been in failing health in recent years, selling his beloved estate and moving into a nursing home in 2013 to be near his wife, Sheila, whom he married in 1945. He died at yesterday in west London, his son said, five years after a stroke that had confined him to a wheelchair and only a few days before his 91st birthday.

He was also older brother of naturalist and TV personality Sir David Attenborough, who survives him, as does his wife and three sons. A daughter, Jane Holland, and her daughter died in the 2004 tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people in Southeast Asia. Attenborough created multiple facilities at Leicester and elsewhere to honor his lost family members and others killed in the disaster.

BAFTA Chief Executive Amanda Berry and Chair Anne Morrison issued the following statement: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Lord Attenborough Kt CBE, a monumental figure in BAFTA’s history. Lord Attenborough was intimately involved with the Academy for over 50 years.  He believed in it passionately, supported it tirelessly and was integral to the organisation that BAFTA has become today.”

A proposal to introduce an Academy Fellowship was originally put forward by Lord Attenborough and it was first presented by SFTA as part of the annual Film Awards in 1971 to Alfred Hitchcock.  The occasion was hosted by Lord Attenborough and reached a television audience of 16.5 million.  Lord Attenborough himself became an Academy Fellowship recipient in 1983.

In 1976, he played a pivotal role in the Royal opening of the present Academy’s headquarters and during that occasion introduced the presentation of the Fellowship to Sir Charles Chaplin, whom he admired enormously.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting him in 1985 at a Premiere performance of A Chorus Line at the Newcastle Odeon. Working part-time at BBC Newcastle I was given a ticket by one of my bosses, and being at the time a young student, I headed straight for the food on offer. A man next to me asked what was good? It was ‘Dickie’, on hearing my accent he asked if I supported Newcastle United, when I replied ‘yes’ he asked if we could talk about the football as he was sick of talking to everyone about his movie. He was a passionate Chelsea supporter and we had a lively discussion for 5 minutes or so before he was whisked away to speak to the press. I remember him fondly as a charismatic figure, very engaging and quick-witted. I became a huge fan there and then.

Lord Attenborough occupies a special place in the hearts of so many and will be missed enormously. My thoughts are with his family, to whom I offer my deepest sympathy at this time.


Close Encounters – By Mark Englert

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Indiana Jones – Poster Series

Awesome print series featuring Indiana Jones and the 3 Good Movies in the Series… Click on the poster and see larger individual posters of each movie.

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Indiana Jones – By Craig Drake

Indiana-Jones_Craig-DrakeIndiana Jones  by Craig Drake. Screenprint available HERE

 


Rick Baker – Designs for Night Skies

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After Close Encounters of the Third Kind became a hit, Columbia Pictures wanted a sequel. Director Steven Spielberg did not, but the one thing he wanted less than a sequel was for Columbia to make one without him. So he set about developing a much darker, horror-tinged film that would act as a follow-up to Close Encounters. It was originally called Watch the Skies (which was also an early Close Encounters title) and eventually referred to as Night Skies.  John Sayles scripted, and Rick Baker was hired to design the alien concepts.

Rick Baker has been posting images of his designs on Twitter, and they’re wonderful to see. Several will look very familiar, too. Because while Night Skies was never made, the concepts from the film ended up in several other Spielberg projects, E.T. adopted several big ideas, and films such as Poltergeist and Gremlins took concepts and pointers. Courtesy of The Rick Baker and /Film.

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Poltergeist Remake News

poltergeist_posterA remake of the Tobe Hooper-directed horror classic Poltergeist will be made by MGM and Fox 2000, with Gil Kenan (Monster House) directing a script by David Lindsay-Abaire (Oz: The Great and Powerful). Rosemarie DeWitt has been cast in the Mum role. Jobeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson were the original parents whose ideal family life is uprooted by a cavalcade of spirits that culminates in the kidnap of their youngest daughter Carol Anne played by Heather O’Rourke. Given how well these paranormal films are faring against studio product lately, this one seemed ripe for remaking and it’s surprising that it hasn’t been remade before now. Sam Raimi and Nathan Kahane are producing.


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Close Encounters – Poster Art by Trevor Dunt

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Oscars Infographic

Congratulations to Argo, winning a well deserved Best Picture Oscar… and shame on the Academy for not nominating Ben Affleck in the Best Director category.

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Christian Bale – Part 1

Christian Bale_movie banner_1Christian Charles Philip Bale (born 30 January 1974) is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses.

Christian_BaleBale first caught the public eye at the age of 13, when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg’s film version of the J. G. Ballard novel Empire of the Sun (1987). He played an English boy who is separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

The attention the press and his schoolmates lavished upon him after this took a toll on Bale, and he contemplated giving up acting until Kenneth Branagh approached him and persuaded him to appear in Henry V in 1989. In 1990, he played the role of Jim Hawkins opposite Charlton Heston (as Long John Silver) in Treasure Island, an adaptation of the classic book by Robert Louis Stephenson.

Bale was recommended by actress Winona Ryder to star in Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 film Little Women; he provided the voice for Thomas, a young compatriot of Captain John Smith, in Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) and in 1997 played Arthur Stuart in Velvet Goldmone, Todd Hayne’s tribute to 70’s glam rock.

Empire of the Sun_Christian Bale_Steven SpielbergIn 1999, Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, director Mary Harron’s adaptation of the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Bale was briefly dropped from the project in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio, but DiCaprio eventually dropped out to star in The Beach, and Bale was cast once again. He researched his character by studying the novel and prepared himself physically for the role by spending months tanning and exercising in order to achieve the “Olympian physique” of the character as described in the original novel. He went so far as to distance himself from the cast and crew to maintain the darker side of Bateman’s character. American Psycho premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival to much controversy. Roger Ebert condemned the film at first, calling it pornography, and “the most loathed film at Sundance,” but gave it a favourable review, writing that Harron “transformed a novel about bloodlust into a movie about men’s vanity.” Of Bale’s performance, he wrote, “Christian Bale is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor.”

christian_bale_american_psychoOn 14 April 2000, Lions Gate Films released American Psycho in theatres. Bale was later approached to make a cameo appearance in another Bret Easton Ellis adaptation, The Rules of Attraction, a film loosely connected to American Psycho, but he declined out of loyalty to Harron’s vision of Bateman, which he felt could not be properly expressed by anyone else. In 2000, he again played a wealthy murderer, this time in John Singleton’s remake of Shaft. 

Equilibrium was Bale’s third film of 2002, costing US$20 million to produce but earning just over US$5 million worldwide. In Equilibrium, Bale played John Preston, an elite law enforcer in a dystopian society. Equilibrium featured a fictional martial art called Gun Kata that combined gunfighting with hand-to-hand combat. According to moviebodycounts.com, the character of John Preston has the third most on-screen kills in a single movie ever with 118, exactly half of the movie’s total of 236.

Christian Bale_American PsychoAfter a year’s hiatus, Bale returned in 2004 to play Trevor Reznik, the title character in the psychological thriller The Machinist. Bale gained attention for his devotion to the role and for the lengths to which he went to achieve Reznik’s emaciated, skeletal appearance. He went without proper rest for prolonged periods, and placed himself on a crash diet of generally coffee and apples, which reduced his weight by 63 pounds (4 st 4 lb/27 kg) in a matter of months. By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8 st 9 lb/55 kg), a transformation he described as “very calming mentally” and which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro’s weight-gaining for his role as Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. Bale claimed that he had not worked for a period of time before he was cast in the film. ” I just hadn’t found scripts that I’d really been interested in. So I was really dying for something to arrive. Then when this one did, I just didn’t want to put it down. I finished it and, upon the kind of revelation that you get at the end, I immediately wanted to go back and re-visit it, to take a look at what clues I could have gotten throughout”. The Machinist was a low-budget production, costing roughly US$5 million to produce, and was given only a limited US release.

Bale, an admirer of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, was then cast as the voice of the title character, Howl, in the English language dud of the Japanese director’s fantasy anime adventure Howls’ Moving Castle, an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel. Its gross in the US was US$4,711,096, a fraction of its worldwide gross (US$235,184,110).


Forrest J. Ackerman

Forrest J. Ackerman (born Forrest James Ackerman; November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008) was an American collector of science fiction books and movie memorabilia and a science fiction fan; a magazine editor, science fiction writer and literary agent, a founder of science fiction fandom and possibly the world’s most avid collector of genre books and movie memorabilia. He was the editor and principal writer of the American magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, as well as an actor and producer (Vampirella) from the 1950’s into the 1980’s, and appears in two documentaries related to this period in popular culture: Jason V. Brock’s The AckerMonster Chronicles!, which details his life and career, and Charles Beaumont: The Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man. He was, for over seven decades, one of science fiction’s staunchest spokesmen and promoters.

Also called “Forry,” “The Ackermonster,” “4e” and “4SJ,” Ackerman was central to the formation, organization, and spread of science fiction fandom, and a key figure in the wider cultural perception of science fiction as a literary, art and film genre. Famous for his wordplay, he coined the genre nickname “sci-fi”. In 1953, he was voted “#1 Fan Personality” by the members of the World Science Fiction Society, a unique Hugo Award never granted to anyone else.

Ackerman was born Forrest James Ackerman (though he would refer to himself from the early 1930s on as “Forrest J Ackerman” with no period after the middle initial) on November 24, 1916 in Los Angeles, to Carroll and William Schilling Ackerman. He attended the University of California at Berkeley for a year (1934–1935), worked as a movie projectionist, and spent three years in the U.S. Army after enlisting on August 15, 1942.

Ackerman saw his first “imagi-movie” in 1922 (One Glorious Day), purchased his first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926, created The Boys’ Scientifiction Club in 1930 (“girl-fans were as rare as unicorn’s horns in those days”). He contributed to both of the first sci-fi fanzines, The Time Traveller, and the Science Fiction Magazine, in 1932, and by 1933 had 127 correspondents around the world.

He attended the 1st World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, where he wore the first “futuristicostume” (designed and created by Myrtle R. Douglas) and sparked fan costuming, the latest incarnation of which is cosplay. He attended every Worldcon but two thereafter during his lifetime. Ackerman invited Ray Bradbury to attend the Los Angeles Chapter of the Science Fiction League, then meeting weekly at Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. Bradbury often attended meetings with his friend Ray Harryhausen; the two Rays had been introduced to each other by Ackerman. With $90 from Ackerman, Bradbury launched a fanzine, Futuria Fantasia, in 1939.

Ackerman amassed an extremely large and complete collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror film memorabilia, which, until 2002, he maintained in a remarkable 18-room home and museum known as the “Son of Ackermansion.” (The original Ackermansion where he lived from the early 1950’s until the mid-1970’s, was at 915 S. Sherbourne Drive in Los Angeles) This second house, in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, contained some 300,000 books and pieces of movie and science-fiction memorabilia. From 1951 to 2002, Ackerman entertained some 50,000 fans at open houses.

He knew most of the writers of science fiction in the first half of the twentieth-century. As a literary agent, he represented some 200 writers, and he served as agent of record for many long lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted in anthologies. He was Ed Wood’s “illiterary” agent. He kept all of the stories submitted to his magazine, even the ones he rejected; Stephen King has stated that Ackerman showed up to a King book signing with a copy of a story King had submitted for publication when he was 11.

Ackerman had 50 stories published, his stories have been translated into six languages. Ackerman named the sexy comic-book character Vampirella and wrote the origin story for the comic.

Through his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland (1958–1983), Ackerman introduced the history of the science fiction, fantasy and horror film genres to a generation of young readers. At a time when most movie-related publications glorified the stars in front of the camera, “Uncle Forry”, as he was referred to by many of his fans, promoted the behind-the-scenes artists involved in the magic of movies. In this way, Ackerman provided inspiration to many who would later become successful artists, including Joe Dante, Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Stephen King, Gene Simmons (of the band KISS), Rick Baker, George Lucas, Danny Elfman, Frank Darabont, John Landis and countless other writers, directors, artists and craftsmen.

He was married to teacher and translator Wendayne (Wendy) Wahrman (1912–1990) until her death. Her original first name was Matilda; Forry created “Wendayne” for her. Wendayne suffered a serious head injury when she was violently mugged while on a trip to Europe in 1990, and the injury soon after led to her death.

A lifelong fan of science fiction “B-movies”, Ackerman had cameos in over 210 films, including bit parts in many monster movies and science fiction films (The Howling, Return of the Living Dead Part II), spoofs and comedies (Amazon Women on the Moon), and at least one major music video (Michael Jackson’s Thriller). Ackerman was fluent in the international language Esperanto.

In 2003, Ackerman said, “I aim at hitting 100 and becoming the George Burns of science fiction”. His health, however, had been failing, and after one final trip to the hospital, informed his best friend and caregiver Joe Moe that he didn’t want to go on. Honouring his wishes, his friends brought him home to hospice care. However, it turned out that in order to get Ackerman home, the hospital had cured his infection with antibiotics. So Forrest went on for a few more weeks holding what he delighted in calling, “a living funeral”. In his final days he saw everyone he wanted to say good-bye to. John Landis recalled that “Although he was extremely ill he told me he could not die until he voted for Obama for President and he did.”

Forrest J Ackerman died on December 4, 2008, at the age of 92. He is interred at Glendale Forest Lawn with his wife Wendayne “Rocket To The Rue Morgue” Ackerman. His plaque simply reads, “Sci-Fi Was My High”.


J. G. Ballard

James Graham “J. G.” Ballard (15 November 1930 – 19 April 2009) was an English novelist, short story writer, and prominent member of the New Wave movement in science fiction. His best-known books are Crash (1973), adapted into a film by David Cronenberg, and the semi-autobiographical Empire of the Sun (1984), made into a film by Steven Spielberg, based on Ballard’s boyhood in the Shanghai International Settlement and internment by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War.

After the Pearl Harbour attack, the Japanese occupied the International Settlement. In early 1943 they began interning Allied civilians, and Ballard was sent to the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Centre with his parents and younger sister. He spent over two years, the remainder of World War II, in the internment camp. His experiences there formed the basis of Empire of the Sun, although Ballard exercised considerable artistic licence in writing the book, notably removing his parents from the bulk of the story.

It is often supposed that Ballard’s exposure to the atrocities of war at an impressionable age explains the apocalyptic and violent nature of much of his fiction. Martin Amis wrote that Empire of the Sun “gives shape to what shaped him.” However, Ballard’s own account of the experience was more nuanced: “I don’t think you can go through the experience of war without one’s perceptions of the world being forever changed” But also: “I have—I won’t say happy—not unpleasant memories of the camp. […] I remember a lot of the casual brutality and beatings-up that went on—but at the same time we children were playing a hundred and one games all the time!”

In 1946, after the end of the war, his mother returned to Britain with Ballard and his sister. They lived near Plymouth where he attended The Leys School in Cambridge. After a couple of years his mother and sister returned to China, rejoining Ballard’s father, leaving Ballard to live with his grandparents when not boarding at school. In 1949 he went on to study medicine at Kings College, Cambridge, with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist.

At university, Ballard was writing avant-garde fiction heavily influenced by psychoanalysis and surrealist painters. At this time, he wanted to become a writer as well as pursue a medical career. In May 1951, when Ballard was in his second year at King’s, his short story “The Violent Noon”, won a crime story competition and was published in the student newspaper Varsity. 

Encouraged by the publication of his story, Ballard abandoned his medical studies, and in 1952 he enrolled at Queen Mary University of London to read English Literature. Ballard then worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency and as an encyclopaedia salesman. He kept writing short fiction but found it impossible to get published.

In 1953 Ballard joined the Royal Air Force before leaving the following year to pursue writing. He made his science fiction debut in 1956 with two short stories, “Escapement” and “Prima Belladonna”, published in the December 1956 issues of New Worlds and Science Fantasy. The editor of New Worlds, Edward J. Carnell, would remain an important supporter of Ballard’s writing and would publish nearly all of his early stories.

In 1960 Ballard moved with his family to Shepperton in Surrey, where he wrote his first novel, The Wind from Nowhere, over a two-week holiday simply to gain a foothold as a professional writer, not intending it as a “serious novel”; in books published later, it is omitted from the list of his works. When it was successfully published in January 1962, he quit his job at magazine Chemistry and Industry, and from then on supported himself and his family as a writer. Later that year his second novel, The Drowned World. 

In 1964 Ballard’s wife Mary died suddenly of pneumonia. After the profound shock of his wife’s death, Ballard began in 1965 to write the stories that became The Atrocity Exhibition, while continuing to produce stories within the science fiction genre.

The Atrocity Exhibition (1969) proved controversial – it was the subject of an obscenity trial, and in the United States, publisher Doubleday destroyed almost the entire print run before it was distributed – but it gained Ballard recognition as a literary writer. It remains one of his iconic works, and was filmed in 2001. Along with the book, he also produced a 75-hour installation for the ICA called The Assassination Weapon, the title of one of the book’s chapters, featuring a film about a deranged H-bomber pilot projected simultaneously on three screens to the sound of cars crashing.

Another chapter of The Atrocity Exhibition is titled “Crash!”, and in 1970 Ballard organised an exhibition of crashed cars at the New Arts Laboratory, simply called “Crashed Cars”. The crashed vehicles were displayed without commentary, inspiring vitriolic responses and vandalism. In both the story and the art exhibition, Ballard explored the sexual potential of car crashes, a preoccupation which culminated in the novel Crash in 1973.

The main character of Crash is called James Ballard and lives in Shepperton (though other biographical details do not match the writer), and curiosity about the relationship between the character and his author gained fuel when Ballard suffered a serious automobile accident shortly after completing the novel. Regardless of real-life basis, Crash, like The Atrocity Exhibition, was also controversial upon publication. In 1996, the film adaptation by David Cronenberg was met by a tabloid uproar in the UK.

Although Ballard published several novels and short-story collections throughout the seventies and eighties, his breakthrough into the mainstream came only with Empire of the Sun in 1984. It became a best-seller and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It made Ballard known to a wider audience, although the books that followed failed to achieve the same degree of success. Ballard continued to write until the end of his life, and also contributed occasional journalism and criticism to the British press. Of his later novels, Super-Cannes (2000) was particularly well received. Ballard was offered a CBE in 2003, but refused, calling it “a Ruritanian charade that helps to prop up our top-heavy monarchy”.

Ballard was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2006, from which he died in London in April 2009. The last of his books published in his lifetime was the autobiography Miracles of Life, written after his diagnosis. His final published short story, “The Dying Fall”, appeared in the 1996 issue 106 of Interzone, a British sci-fi magazine. It was reproduced in The Guardian on 25 April 2009.

The literary distinctiveness of his work has given rise to the adjective “Ballardian”, defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.”  In 2008, The Times included Ballard on its list of “The 50 greatest British Writers since 1945”.


Adoption of PG-13 rating

In 1984, explicit violence and gore in the films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Poltergeist and Gremlins caused an uproar among parents over their PG rating. Their complaints led Hollywood figure Steven Spielberg, director of Temple of Doom and producer of Gremlins, to suggest a new rating to MPAA president Jack Valenti for movies that have too much adult content to be rated PG, but not quite enough to be rated R. Spielberg’s suggestion was for an intermediate rating of PG-13 or PG-14. On conferring with cinema owners, Valenti and the MPAA introduced the PG-13 rating on July 1, 1984, indicating that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. The Spielberg films were never re-rated.

The first film distributed with a PG-13 rating was Red Dawn (1984); Dreamscape and The Woman in Red were released on the same day the following week. The Flamingo Kid (1984) was the first film to receive the rating, but was not released until December 1984.

The ratings used from 1984 to 1986 were:

  • Rated G: General Audiences – All Ages Admitted.
  • Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – Some Material May Not be Suitable for Children.
  • Rated PG-13: Parents Are Strongly Cautioned to Give Special Guidance for Attendance of Children Under 13 – Some Material may be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.
  • Rated R: Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.
  • Rated X: No One Under 17 Admitted.

In 1986, the PG-13 rating’s wording was changed to: Parents Strongly Cautioned – Some Material May be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.


Hergé

Georges Prosper Remi (22 May 1907 – 3 March 1983), known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. His best known and most substantial work is the 23 completed comic books in The Adventures of Tintin series, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, although he was also responsible for other well-known comic book series such as Quick & Flupke (1930–1940) and Jo, Zette and Jocko (1936–1957).

Born into a middle-class family in Etterbeek, Brussels, he took a keen interest in Scouting in early life, something that would prove highly influential on his later work. Initially producing illustrations for Belgian Scouting magazines, in 1927 he began working for the conservative  newspaper Le XXe Siècle, where he adopted the pen name “Hergé”, based upon the French pronunciation of “RG”, his initials reversed. It was here, in 1929, that he began serialising the first of the Adventures of Tintin, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.

Set during a largely realistic 20th century, the hero of the series is Tintin, a young Belgian reporter. He is aided in his adventures by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy (Milou in the original French edition). Later, popular additions to the cast included the brash and cynical Captain Haddock, the highly intelligent but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus (Professeur Tournesol) and other supporting characters such as the incompetent detectives Thompson and Thompson (Dupont et Dupond). Hergé himself features in several of the comics as a background character, as do his assistants in some instances.

The notable qualities of the Tintin stories include their vivid humanism, a realistic feel produced by meticulous and wide ranging research, and Hergé’s ligne claire drawing style. Adult readers enjoy the many satirical references to the history and politics of the 20th century. The Blue Lotus, for example, was inspired by the Mukden incident that resulted in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. King Ottokar’s Sceptre could be read against the background of Hitler’s Anschluss or in the context of the struggle between the Romanian Iron Guard and the King of Romania, Carol II; whilst later albums such as The Calculus Affair depict the Cold War.

The early Tintin adventures each took about a year to complete, after which they were released in book form by Le Petit Vingtième and, from 1934, by the Casterman publishing house. Hergé continued to revise these stories in subsequent editions, including a later conversion to colour.

Hergé is a prominent national hero in his native country, to the extent where he has been described as the actual “personification of Belgium”. The long-awaited Hergé Museum was opened in Louvain-La-Neuve on 2 June 2009. Designed by architect Christian de Portzamparc, the museum reflects Hergé’s huge corpus of work which has, until now, been sitting in studios and bank vaults.

His work remains a strong influence on comics, particularly in Europe. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2003.

Check out the official website HERE for more news, articles, images and of course, an online store.


Happy Birthday Universal Pictures

Birthday wishes are in order for Universal Pictures, which as widely noted is celebrating its centennial all year long. Founded by Carl Laemmle, Universal Film Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. The studio sent out 100 facts about its history, which makes for a good read…. I’ve cut the list down to my favourite 50:

1. Universal Film Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Company legend says Carl Laemmle was inspired to name his company Universal after seeing “Universal Pipe Fittings” written on a passing delivery wagon.

2. The only physical damage made during the filming of National Lampoon’s Animal House was when John Belushi made a hole in the wall with a guitar. The actual Sigma Nu fraternity house (which subbed for the fictitious Delta House) never repaired it, and instead framed the hole in honor of the film.

3. In the movie All Quiet on the Western Front, the Greek writing on the blackboard in the schoolroom is the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey: “Tell me, oh Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide.”

4. The word “dude” in The Big Lebowski is used approximately 161 times in the movie: 160 times spoken and once in text (in the credits for “Gutterballs” the second dream sequence). The F-word or a variation of the F-word is used 292 times. The Dude says “man” 147 times in the movie—that’s nearly 1.5 times a minute.

5. Back to the Future’s DeLorean time machine is actually a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says “OUTATIME,” the DeLorean’s actual license plate reads 3CZV657.

6. American Graffiti’s budget was exactly $777,777.77, and it was delivered on time – and on budget.

7. In the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, Tippi Hedren was actually cut in the face by a bird during the shooting of one sequence.

8. The Munster’s House on Colonial Street was originally built for the 1946 production, So Goes My Love.

9. The title of the movie Do The Right Thing comes from a Malcolm X quote: “You’ve got to do the right thing.”

10. According to reports, during some of the Russian roulette scenes in the movie The Deer Hunter, a live round was put into the gun to heighten the actors’ tension per Robert De Niro’s suggestion. It was checked, however, to make sure the bullet was not in the chamber before the trigger was pulled.

11. In the first scene of the movie Double Indemnity, when Walter first kisses Phyllis, there is a wedding ring on Walter’s hand. Fred MacMurray was married and the ring was not noticed until post-production.

12. When Bela Lugosi, star of the monster classic, Dracula, died in 1956, he was buried wearing a black silk cape similar to the one he wore in the film.

13. At 29,500 sq. ft., Universal Studios’ Stage 12 is the 7th largest soundstage in the world. It was originally built for the 1929 musical Broadway.

14. Carl Laemmle Jr. offered James Whale a list of more than 30 film adaptations he could direct and out of them all, Whale picked Frankenstein. It was his transition from war movies to monster pics.

15. Vans, the company behind the checkerboard shoes worn by Sean Penn (a.k.a. Jeff Spicoli) in the cult movie classic, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, became a national brand after the film’s release in 1982.

16. Actor Charlton Heston “parted” the Red Sea attraction on the Universal Studios Tour at the attraction’s grand opening in 1973.

17. The Universal sound technician, Jack Foley, developed the method of creating and recording many of the natural, everyday sound effects in a film. Today this method is named after him.

18. The legendary thriller and suspense director Alfred Hitchcock did not win any Academy Awards while working with Universal.

19. In the infamous shower scene in Psycho, the sound of the knife-stabbing actress Janet Leigh was made by plunging a knife into a melon.

20. The legendary studio head Irving Thalberg got his start in show business as Carl Laemmle’s personal secretary in 1917.

21. In 1995, Waterworld generated worldwide attention for being the most expensive film made to date. Unable to live up to expectations at the box office, the film eventually turned a profit due to strong home video sales and inspired one of the most popular theme park attractions of all time.

22. About 25% of the film Jaws was shot from water level so audiences could better relate to treading water.

23. In the film The Invisible Man, the director dressed Claude Rains in black velvet and filmed him against a black velvet background to create the effect that he wasn’t there.

24. Some of the props used in the 2005 version of King Kong were original props from the 1933 version. These props came from Peter Jackson’s personal collection and include the Skull Island spears and brightly painted shield, and some of the drums from the sacrifice scene.

25. In Jurassic Park, a guitar string was used to make the water ripple on the dash of the Ford Explorer by attaching it to the underside of the dash beneath the glass.

26. Universal entered the 3-D market with the film, It Came from Outer Space (1953)

27. Universal won its first Best Picture Academy Award for All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930.

28. Steven Spielberg nicknamed the mechanical shark in the movie Jaws, “Bruce.”

29. In the film The Incredible Shrinking Man, when Louise is on the phone asking for the operator, the music playing on the radio is the theme song to Written on the Wind, which was made at Universal the year prior.

30. It took two-and-a-half hours a day to apply Lon Chaney’s makeup in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

31. The first American film to show a toilet flushing on screen was Psycho.

32. In the film, Scarface, an M16 assault rifle with an M203 40mm grenade launcher attached to the barrel is Tony’s “little friend.”

33. Alfred Hitchcock did not choose to conclude the film, The Birds, with the usual “THE END” title because he wanted to leave the audience with the feeling of unending terror and uncertainty.

34. The locusts in the 1999 film, The Mummy, were mostly computer-generated, however, some live grasshoppers were used. Hours before filming they were chilled in a refrigerator to make them more sluggish.

35. The average shot length in the film Vertigo is 6.7 seconds.

36. The permanent set in Stage 28 was created to be a replica of the landmark The Paris Opera House, for the classic film, The Phantom of the Opera.

37. When you hear the sound of the crowd cheering, “Spartacus! Spartacus!” in the movie Spartacus, it was actually a pre-taped recording from a 1959 football game at Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium.

38. The final speech by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird was done in one take.

39. The diner in the movie The Sting is the same diner interior used in Back to the Future.

40. The title of the film Streets of Fire starring Michael Paré and Diane Lane, was drawn from a Bruce Springsteen song, from his album Darkness on the Edge of Town. The song, unfortunately, does not appear in the film.

41. 1920’s Shipwrecked Among Cannibals was the first film to gross $1,000,000 for Universal.

42. Prominent Universal Director Edward Laemmle was the nephew of Universal Founder Carl Laemmle. He directed over 60 films (including shorts) for Universal.

43. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein is only the second time Bela Lugosi would play “Dracula” in a feature film. (He played other vampires in the interim, but not Dracula.)

44. In 1973’s High Plains Drifter starring Clint Eastwood, one of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute.

45. In 1992’s Scent of Woman, Al Pacino repeatedly shouts “Hoo-ah.” “Hoo-ah” comes from the military acronym “HUA” which stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.”

46. The Blues Brothers “Bluesmobile” is a 1974 Dodge Monaco.

47. 1971’s Play Misty for Me was set in Carmel, CA, where Clint Eastwood later lived and became mayor in 1986.

48. “The Bride” in “The Bride of Frankenstein” is the only one of Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters to have never killed anyone.

49. Throughout its hundred year legacy, Universal brought to audiences the first films of talents such as John Ford, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Norman Jewison, Ben Stiller, Robert Zemeckis, John Hughes, Amy Heckerling, Spike Jonze, Zack Snyder and Judd Apatow.

50. More than 100 million people from around the world have taken the Universal Studios “studio tour.” While the tour officially began in 1964, Universal has been welcoming the public to our studio since 1915 and the silent era.


Tobe Hooper – Part 1

Tobe Hooper (born January 25, 1943) is an American film director and screenwriter, best known for his work in the horror film genre. His works include the cult classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), along with its first sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986); the three-time Emmy-nominated Stephen King film adaptation Salem’s Lot (1979); and the three-time Academy Award-nominated, Steven Spielberg-produced Poltergeist (1982).

Hooper was born in Austin, Texas, the son of Lois Belle (née Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper, who owned a theater in San Angelo. He first became interested in filmmaking when he used his father’s 8 mm camera at age 9. Hooper took Radio-Television-Film classes at the University of Texas at Austin and studied drama in Dallas under Baruch Lumet.

Hooper spent the 1960s as a college professor and documentary cameraman. His short film The Heisters (1965) was invited to be entered in the short subject category for an Oscar, but was not finished in time for the competition that year. In 1969, Hooper co-wrote and directed Eggshells, a film about a group of hippies in a commune house having to deal with the presence of a possible supernatural force. Eggshells did not receive a theatrical release, but did win Hooper several awards, including the Atlanta Film Festival Award, when the film played around different colleges. Hooper had shot over 60 documentaries, commercials, and short films before making The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

In 1974, he organized a small cast composed of college teachers and students, and with Kim Henkel, on a budget of $60,000 (which eventually rose to $70,000, though some reports say up to $120,000) made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Hooper claims to have come up with the idea for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre while standing in the hardware section of a crowded store. While thinking of a way to get through the crowd, he spotted chainsaws for sale. However the origins have always been linked to stories surrounding notorious serial killer Ed Gein. The highly successful film changed the horror film industry and landed Hooper in Hollywood. Media reports of audiences throwing up and storming out of theaters showing the film swept the nation. Hooper wanted an MPAA PG rating for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as there was no PG-13 at the time. Despite having no sex or sexual situations, no drug use, no hard profanity, and a low level of graphic violence, the film received an R rating. The MPAA cited the film’s intense tone as reason enough to issue the R rating.

Hooper was hired by Marty Rustam to direct his first Hollywood film, Eaten Alive (1977). Hooper and Henkel re-wrote most of Rustam and Alvin Fast’s script to fit their own desires. Eaten Alive starred Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, William Finley, and Marilyn Burns, who played the lead role in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Some critics noted that Hooper tried to recreate Chainsaw, but did not succeed in terms of intensity. The main reason for this was that Hooper felt the producers were compromising his vision by exerting control over the film. As a result of this, Hooper left the set with three weeks of principal photography remaining. After Hooper’s departure, Carolyn Jones, and the editor, Michael Brown, reportedly finished directing the final weeks of the film.

Richard Kobritz, producer of the suspenseful and acclaimed John Carpenter telefilm, Someone’s Watching Me! (1978), handpicked Hooper to direct an adaptation of Stephen King’s vampire novel ‘Salem’s Lot. The novel had been a bestseller and had been in development for some time, with Hooper briefly attached under producer William Friedkin’s supervision in 1977. Salem’s Lot (1979) became Hooper’s most polished and mainstream film to date. The telefilm was well-received by critics and fans alike, and is generally thought of as a genre classic.

In 1981, Hooper directed the film, The Funhouse. The story involved four teenage friends who decide to spend the night in the funhouse of a sleazy traveling carnival. The film opened to modest box office receipts and received mainly positive reviews. Hooper had a shooting schedule similar in length to Salem’s Lot, but nowhere near the same budget. One of the most praised aspects of the film was its visually stylish cinematography.

In 1982, Hooper directed Poltergeist for MGM, with Steven Spielberg serving as co-writer with Michael Grais and Mark Victor, and co-producer with Frank Marshall. It quickly became one of the top ten highest grossing films of the year. In addition to this, Hooper was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Director. As a result of the film’s critical and commercial success, it seemed that Hooper would be propelled into Hollywood’s A-list of directors. However, some industry insiders in Hollywood viewed the film as more of a Spielberg-directed film than a Hooper-directed film, despite Hooper’s claims that he directed the film and did “half the storyboards himself”.