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

Posts tagged “The Lost World

David Warner

David Warner (born 29 July 1941) is an English actor who is known for playing both romantic leads and sinister or villainous characters, across a range of media, including film, animation, television, and video games. Over the course of his long career he is most famous for his roles in films such a Straw Dogs, From Beyond the Grave, The Omen, Time After Time, Time Bandits, Tron, The Company of Wolves, Star Trek V and VI, The Lost World, and Planet of the Apes. In 1981, he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special for his portrayal of Pomponius Falco in the television miniseries Masada. 

Warner was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England, the son of Doreen (née Hattersley) and Herbert Simon Warner. He was educated at Feldon School, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire and trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), London.

Warner made his professional stage debut at the Royal Court Theatre in January 1962, playing Snout, a minor role in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Tony Richardson. He had a successful run of stage work for over a decade.

In 1963, he made his film debut as the villainous Blifil in Tom Jones, and in 1965, starred as Henry VI in the BBC television version of the RSC’s The Wars of the Roses. A major step in his career was the leading role in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) opposite Vanessa Redgrave, which established his reputation for playing slightly off-the-wall characters. He also appeared as Konstantin Treplev in Sidney Lumet’s 1968 adaptation of The Sea Gull (1968) and appeared as Reverend Joshua Duncan Sloane inThe Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970); this was to be the first of his appearances for Sam Peckinpah. He was also cast against type as Henry Niles in Straw Dogs (1971). Warner’s sympathetic side had been evident in Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron (1977), where he portrayed Captain Kiesel. 

In horror films, he appeared in one of the stories of From Beyond the Grave (1974) and opposite Gregory Peck in The Omen (1976) as the ill-fated photojournalist Keith Jennings, and the 1979 thriller Nightwing. He also starred in cult classic Waxwork (1988), and featured alongside a young Viggo Mortensen in the 1990 film Tripwire. 

He has often played villains, in films such as The Thirty Nine Steps (1978), Time After Time (1979), Time Bandits (1981), Tron (1982), Hanna’s War (1988), and television series such as Batman: The Animated Series playing Ra’s al Ghul, and the anti-mutant scientist Herbert Landon in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. In addition, he played German SS General Reinhard Heydrich both in the film Hitler’s SS: Portrait of Evil, and the television miniseries Holocaust; as sinister millionaire recluse Amos Hackshaw in HBO’s 1991 film Cast a Deadly Spell, who plots to use the world’s most powerful spell book – the Necronomicon – to unleash the Lovecraftian ‘Old Ones’ from eternal imprisonment upon the Earth. Warner was also considered for the role of Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street after producers were impressed with his performance as Jack the Ripper in Time After Time but had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts.

Other notable Sci-Fi and Fantasy roles include three episodes of the second season of Twin Peaks (1991), the charismatic “Aldous Gajic” in “Grail”, a first season (1994) episode of Babylon 5 and Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). In an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, he played Superman’s deceased Kryptonian father Jor-El, who appeared to his son through holographic recordings. Warner has also played “ambiguous nice guys” such as Dr. Richard Madden in 1994’s Necronomicon: Book of the Dead. 

 


Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy (born June 5, 1953) is an American film Producer. In 1981 she co-founded Amblin Entertainment with her husband, Frank Marshall, and Steven Spielberg.  Kennedy is the second-most successful film producer of all time (after Speilberg) in terms of domestic box office receipts with totals at just over $5 billion.

Kennedy was born in Berkeley, CaliforniaKennedy graduated from Shasta High School in Redding, California, in 1971. She continued her education at San Diego State University where she graduated, majoring in telecommunications and film. In her final year, Kennedy got a job at a local San Diego TV station, KCST, taking on various roles and posts including camera operator, video editor, floor director and finally KCST news production coordinator.

After her employment with KCST, she then went on to produce a local talk show, entitled You’re On, for the station for four years before moving to Los Angeles where she secured her first film production job working with John Milius who at the time was making Spielberg’s 1941 (1979). The credits list her as a production assistant. During the production of 1941, while working for Milius, Kennedy came to the attention of Steven Spielberg who hired her as his secretary, but both she and he reported that she was a terrible typist who was only kept on because of her good production ideas.

Kennedy went on to executive producer credit on Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and then co-produce Spielberg’s project of Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist (1982) and received her first full producer’s credit on the box-office smash E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Following her work on the Indiana Jones films, especially Raiders of the Lost Ark , she rose to become one of Hollywood’s leading producers. Although working on a variety of projects, she continued her business relationship with Spielberg and became executive producer for both the blockbuster Jurassic Park and the historically dramatic Schindler’s List (both 1993). She went on to collaborate with a large and important group of filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Robert Zemekis, Barry Levinson, and Clint Eastwood.

A truncated list of some of her other work includes, Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Gremlins (1984), Back to the Future (1985), The Goonies (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Back to the Future Part II (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Cape Fear (1991), Twister (1996), The Sixth Sense (1999), A. I. (2001), Munich (2005), War of the Worlds (2005), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), The Adventures of Tintin (2011) and War Horse (2011).

In 1981 she helped co-found and run the hugely successful production company Amblin Entertainemnt, with Spielberg and her husband Frank Marshall. Kennedy took over a large portion of the running of Amblin and served as president of the Amblin company until 1992, when she decided to form her own film company with her husband. She became and still is a partner with Frank Marshall in The Kennedy/Marshall Company, a Santa-Monica-based film-production company with a deal at Sony Pictures.

She is also a Governor on the Board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 1995, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry. Marshall and Kennedy were the producers for the US versions of two Studio Ghibli animated features, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea released in 2009 and The Secret World of Arrietty, released in 2012.


Stan Winston

Stanley Winston (April 7, 1946 – June 15, 2008) was an American visual effects supervisor, make-up artist, and film director. He was best known for his work in the Terminator series, the Jurassic Park series, Aliens, the Predator series, Iron Man, Edward Scissorhands and Avatar. He won four Academy Awards for his work.

Winston, a frequent collaborator with director James Cameron, owned several effects studios, including Stan Winston Digital. The established areas of expertise for Winston were in makeup, puppets and practical effects, but he had recently expanded his studio to encompass digital effects as well.

Stan Winston was born on April 7, 1946, in Arlington, Virginia, where he graduated from Washington-Lee High School in 1964. He studied painting and sculpture at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from which he graduated in 1968. In 1969, after attending California State University, Long Beach, Winston moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor. Struggling to find an acting job, he began a makeup apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios.

In 1972, Winston established his own company, Stan Winston Studio, and won an Emmy Award for his effects work on the telefilm Gargoyles. Over the next seven years, Winston continued to receive Emmy nominations for work on projects and won another for 1974’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Winston also created the Wookie costumes for the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

In 1982, Winston received his first Oscar nomination for Heartbeeps, by which time he had set up his own studio. However, his ground-breaking work with Rob Bottin on the science fiction horror classic The Thing that year brought him to prominence in Hollywood. Between then, he contributed some visual effects to Friday the 13th Part III, in which he made a slightly different head sculpt of Jason in an unused ending.

In 1983 he also worked on a short-lived TV series Manimal. However, Winston reached a new level of fame in 1984 when James Cameron’s The Teminator premiered. The movie was a surprise hit, and Winston’s work in bringing the titular metallic killing machine to life led to many new projects and additional collaborations with Cameron. In fact, Winston won his first Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1986 on James Cameron’s next movie, Aliens.

Over the next few years, Winston and his company received more accolades for its work on many more Hollywood films, including Edward Scissorhands, Predator, Alien Nation, The Monster Squad and Predator 2. 

In 1988, Winston made his directorial debut with the horror movie Pumpkinhead, and won Best First Time Director at the Paris Film Festival. His next directing project was the child-friendly A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), starring Anthony Michael Hall.

James Cameron drafted Winston and his team once again in 1990, this time for the groundbreaking Terminator 2: Judgement DayT2 premiered in the summer of 1991, and Winston’s work on this box office hit won him two more Oscars for Best Makeup Effects and Best Visual Effects. 

In 1992, he was nominated with another Tim Burton film, Batman Returns, where his effects on Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and in delivering Burton’s general vision for what was an increasingly Gothic Gotham City earned him more recognition for his work ethic and loyalty to what was an intrinsic ability to bring different directors’ ideas to life.

Winston turned his attention to dinosaurs when Steven Spielberg enlisted his help to bring Jurassic Park to the screen in 1993. The movie became a blockbuster and Winston won another Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

In 1993, Winston, Cameron and ex-ILM General Manager Scott Russ co-founded Digital Domain, one of the foremost digital and visual effects studios in the world. In 1998, after the box office success of Titanic, Cameron and Winston severed their working relationship with the company and resigned from its board of directors.

Winston and his team continued to provide effects work for many more films and expanded their work into animatronics. Some of Winston’s notable animatronics work can be found in The Ghost and the Darkness and T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, James Cameron’s 3-D continuation of the Terminator series for the Universal Studios theme park. One of Winston’s most ambitious animatronics projects was Steven Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence, which earned Winston another Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. 

In 1996, Winston directed and co-produced the longest and the most expensive music video of all time, Ghosts, which was based on an original concept of Michael Jackson and Stephen King

In 2001, Winston, together with Colleen Camp and Samuel Z. Arkoff’s son, Lou Arkoff, produced a series of made-for-cable films for Cinemax and HBO. The five films, referred to as Creature Features, were inspired by the titles of AIP monster movies from the 1950s — i.e., Earth vs. the Spider (1958), How to Make a Monster (1958), Day the World Ended (1955), The She-Creature (1956), and Teenage Caveman (1958) — but had completely different plots.

In 2003, Stan Winston was invited by the Smithsonian Institution to speak  about his life and career in a public presentation sponsored by The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

In 2004, he expressed great disappointment when director Paul W. S. Anderson did not come to him for the creature effects for Alien vs. Predator, seeing as how he designed the Predator and the Alien Queen. “They’re like my children to me,” he stated

At the time of his death, Winston was working on the Terminator sequel, Terminator Salvation. He was also helping his old friend, film director James Cameron on designs for Avatar.

Stan Winston died on June 15, 2008, in Malibu, California after suffering for seven years from multiple myeloma. A spokeswoman reported that he “died peacefully at home surrounded by family.” His special effects still live on through his studio Stan Winston Studios, now renamed Legacy Effects, continuing to work on films after his death such as Pandorum, GI. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, Avatar, Enthiran, and Shutter Island thus continuing his legacy.


Willis O’Brien

Willis Harold O’Brien (March 2, 1886 – November 8, 1962) was an Irish American special effects and stop-motion animation pioneer, who according to ASIFA-Hollywood “was responsible for some of the best-known images in cinema history,” and is best remebered for his work on ‘The Lost World’ (1925), ‘King Kong’ (1933) and ‘Mighty Joe Young’ (1949), for which he won the 1950 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Willis O’Brien was born in Oakland, California. He first left home at the age of eleven to work on cattle ranches, and again at the age of thirteen when he took on a variety of jobs including farmhand, factory worker, fur trapper, cowboy, and bartender. During this time he also competed in rodeos and developed an interest in dinosaurs while working as a guide to palaeontologists in Crater Lake region. He spent his spare time sculpting and illustrating and his natural talent lead to him being employed first as draftsman in an architect’s office and then as a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Daily News. He subsequently worked for the railroad, first as a brakeman and later a surveyor, as a professional marble sculptor, and was assistant to the head architect of the 1913 San Francisco World’s Fair, where some of his work was displayed. During this time he made models, including a dinosaur and a caveman, which he animated with the assistance of a local newsreel cameraman. San Francisco exhibitor Herman Wobber saw this 90-second test footage and commissioned O’Brien to make his first film, ‘The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy’ (1915) for a budget of $5,000.

Thomas A. Edison was impressed by the film and O’Brien was hired by the Edison Company to animate a series of short films with a prehistoric theme. These films led to a commission from Herbert M. Dawley to write, direct, co-star and produce the effects for another dinosaur film, ‘The Ghost of Slumber Mountain’ (1918), for a budget of $3,000. The collaboration was not a happy one and Dawley would cut the 45-minute film down to 11-minutes and claim credit O’Brien’s pioneering effects work, which combined realistic stop-motion animated prehistoric models with live action. The film grossed over $100,000 and Dawley used the cut effects footage in a sequel Along the Moonbeam Trail (1920) and the documentary Evolution (1923), but O’Brien received little financial reimbursement from this success.

The film however did help to secure his position on Harold H. Hoyt’s ‘The Lost World’. For his early, short films O’Brien created his own characters out of clay, although for much of his feature career he would employ Richard and Marcel Delgado to create much more detailed stop-motion models (based on O’Brien’s designs) with rubber skin built up over complex, articulated metal armatures.

O’Brien worked with Hoyt on a series of cancelled projects included Atlantis for First National studio, Frankenstein, and Creation for RKO Pictures, which was finally cancelled in 1931 with only 20-minutes of effects footage to show for an estimated $120,000 development cost. The studio’s head of production, Merian C. Cooper, had recommended the cancellation of O’Brien’s project as he thought the story was boring but he was impressed by the effects work and saw how it could be used to facilitate the development of his own pet project about a giant gorilla battling. O’Brien and the dinosaur models he had created for the cancelled project were put to work on what was to become his most famous film, ‘King Kong’ (1933).

The success of King Kong led to the studio commissioning a hurried sequel ‘Son of Kong’ (also 1933), which O’Brien described as cheesy. With a limited budget and a short production schedule O’Brien chose to leave the animation work to his assistant and asked the studio not to credit him on the project.

O’Brien continued to work with Merian C. Cooper at RKO on a number of projects including the epic ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’ (1935) and ‘The Dancing Pirate’ (1936). He did some special effects work, re-using one of the mattes from Son of Kong, on Orson Welles’ American classic ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941) and George Pal’s Oscar-nominated animated short ‘Tulips Shall Grow’ (1942), as well as developing his own project, Gwangi, about cowboys who encounter a prehistoric animal in a “lost” valley, which he failed to sell to the studio.

The film ‘Mighty Joe Young’ (1949), on which O’Brien is credited as Technical Creator, won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1950. Credit for the award went to the films producers, RKO Productions, but O’Brien was also awarded a statue. O’Brien’s protege (and successor), Ray Harryhausen, worked alongside O’Brien on this film, and by some accounts Harryhausen did the majority of the animation. O’Brien worked with Harryhausen one last time on the acclaimed dinosaur sequence for Irwin Allen’s nature documentary ‘The Animal World’ (1956).

Allen hired O’Brien was hired as the effects technician on his remake of ‘The Lost World’ (1960), but he was given little to do as the producer opted for live lizards instead of stop-motion animation for the dinosaurs.

O’Brien died in Los Angeles in 1962. In 1997, he was posthumously awarded the Windsor McCay Award by ASIFA-Hollywood, the United States chapter of the International Animated Film Society ASIFA (Association internationale du film d’animation). The award is in recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation.

The 1969 film ‘The Valley of Gwangi’, completed by Harryhausen seven years after O’Brien’s death, was based on an idea he had spent years trying to bring to the screen.


Steven Spielberg – Part 3

After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989’s ‘Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade’. Once again teaming up with Lucas and Ford, Spielberg also cast actor Sean Connery in a supporting role as Indy’s father. The film earned generally positive reviews and was another box office success, becoming the highest grossing film worldwide that year; its total box office receipts even topped those of Tim Burton’s much-anticipated Batman film, which had been the bigger hit domestically. Also in 1989, he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the romantic comedy-drama ‘Always’, about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires. Spielberg’s first romantic film, Always was only a moderate success and had mixed reviews.

In 1991, Spielberg directed ‘Hook’, about a middle-aged Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, who returns to Neverland. Despite innumerable rewrites and creative changes coupled with mixed reviews, the film proved popular with audiences, making over $300 million worldwide (from a $70 million budget).

In 1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the film version of Michael Crichton’s novel ‘Jurassic Park’, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided by friend George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic company, the film would eventually become the highest grossing film of all time (at the worldwide box office) with $914.7 million. This would be the third time that one of Spielberg’s films became the highest grossing film ever.

Spielberg’s next film, ‘Schindler’s List’, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler’, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust. Schindler’s List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture). With the film a huge success at the box office, Spielberg used the profits to set up the Shoah Foundation, a non-profit organization that archives filmed testimony of Holocaust survivors. In 1997, the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made (#9) which moved up to (#8) when the list was remade in 2007.

In 1994, Spielberg took a hiatus from directing to spend more time with his family and build his new studio, DreamWorks, with partners Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffin. In 1997, he helmed the sequel to 1993’s Jurassic Park with ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’, which generated over $618 million worldwide despite mixed reviews, and was the second biggest hit of 1997 behind James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ (which topped the original Jurassic Park to become the new recordholder for box office receipts).

His next film, ‘Amistad’, was based on a true story (like Schindler’s List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. Despite decent reviews from critics, it did not do well at the box office. Spielberg released Amistad under DreamWorks Pictures, which issued all of his films from Amistad until the awful mis-step ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ in May 2008.

His next theatrical release in that same year was the World War II film ‘Saving Private Ryan’, about a group of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) sent to bring home a paratrooper whose three older brothers were killed in the last twenty four hours of action in France. The film was a huge box office success, grossing over $481 million worldwide and was the biggest film of the year at the North American box office. Spielberg won his second Academy Award for his direction. The film’s graphic, realistic depiction of combat violence influenced later war films such as ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Enemy at the Gates’. The film was also the first major hit for DreamWorks, which co-produced the film with Paramount Pictures (as such, it was Spielberg’s first release from the latter that was not part of the Indiana Jones series). Later, Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced a TV mini-series based on Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers. The ten-part HBO mini-series follows Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The series won a number of awards at both the Golden Globe and Emmy Awards.

In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick’s final project, ‘A. I. Artificial Intelligence’ which Stanley Kubrick was unable to begin during his lifetime. A futuristic film about a humanoid android longing longing for love, A.I. featured groundbreaking visual effects and a multi-layered, allegorical storyline, adapted by Spielberg himself. Though the film’s reception in the US was relatively muted, it performed better overseas for a worldwide total box office gross of $236 million.

Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for the futuristic neo-noir ‘Minority Report’, based upon a short story by Philip K. Dick about a Washington D.C. police captain in the year 2054 who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not yet met. The film earned over $358 million worldwide. Roger Ebert, who who named it the best film of 2002, praised its breathtaking vision of the future as well as for the way Spielberg blended CGI with live-action.

Spielberg’s 2002 film ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It earned Christopher Walken Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is known for John Williams’ score and its unique title sequence. It was a hit both commercially and critically.