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

Posts tagged “Tim Burton

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 Joker (Mime Version) – Hot Toys Collectable

Batman_The Joker_2Sideshow Collectibles is proud to introduce The Joker 1989 Mime Version DX Sixth Scale figure from Hot Toys. Revisiting Tim Burton’s classic Batman film, Jack Nicholson comes to life with an elegant costume, specially designed figure stage with backdrop, and Hot Toys’ patented Parallel Eyeball Rolling System (PERS). The collectable and others in the DC and Marvel range can be purchased HERE

Batman_The Joker_1The The Joker (1989 Mime Version) Sixth Scale Figure features:

  • Authentic and detailed fully realized likeness of Jack Nicholson as The Joker in the Batman (1989) movie
  • Approximately 30 cm tall
  • TrueType body with over 30 points of articulation
  • Detailed hair sculpture
  • Parallel Eyeball Rolling System (PERS) patented by Hot Toys Limited
  • Highly detailed make-up, gesture and wrinkles
  • Six (6) pieces of interchangeable gloved palms including:
  • One (1) pair of open palms
  • One (1) pair of relaxed palms
  • One (1) right finger pointing palm
  • One (1) right palm for holding feather
  • Each piece of head sculpt is specially hand-painted
  • One (1) black tall hat
  • One (1) black tailcoat with white flower
  • One (1) white shirt
  • One (1) white vest with black polka dot pattern
  • One (1) black tie with white polka dot pattern
  • One (1) pair of black and white checker pants with suspenders
  • One (1) pair of black and white spats and shoes
  • Three (3) feathers
  • Figure stage with The Joker nameplate, movie logo, DX series title and backdrop

Batman_The Joker_3


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”.


Frankenweenie by my 7 Year Old Son

Frankenweenie is about a young boy called Victor and his dog Sparky. One when they were playing baseball, the ball goes on the other side of the road, when Sparky chases it, when he runs back a car hits him and he dies. For his science experiment Victor makes Sparky come back to life by using Frankenstein’s experiment with lightning.

The school was having a science fair and Victor was going to use Sparky as his experiment at the fair, but one of his friends finds out and wants to do the same experiment. He uses a dead goldfish but when the experiment is over, the goldfish is invisible. Then other kids do the same experiments with other dead pets. The best dead pet is Shelley, a turtle who grows into a giant turtle like Godzilla who goes crazy and attacks everything.

I really liked it; it’s funny and spooky, more spooky than Hotel Transylvania. My Dad told me that it’s in black and white to make it like a copy of the old Frankenstein movie, which is called an homage. SPOILER ALERT The end is the same as the old Frankenstein movie when they go to a windmill and burn it. I haven’t seen it yet but my Dad says I can watch it and his other old spooky movies (He means Universal Classic Horror).

I give it 4½ stars


Frankenweenie – 50’s Styled Promo Posters

Check out these cool 50’s style posters for Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Click on the image to flick through the 6 full-sized individual posters…


Frankenweenie – Tim Burton Interview

With Frankenweenie, Tim Burton goes back to a couple periods of his own history. One is his childhood, during which he was alienated from average school life, and found solace in monsters and movies. Another is his early career, when he created a short film for Disney that, creatively, was his first big success, and professionally his first major failure. Meant to run before the re-release of Pinocchio, the original Frankenweenie, about a boy who reanimates his dead dog, was deemed too dark and weird, and shelved for years, although I do remember seeing it before a screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas in London. Check out this interview with Burton from /Film HERE


Deane Taylor

Director, Writer, Art Director, Production Designer, Story Artist, Layout Supervisor, it would appear that Deane Taylor has covered most pre-production positions on countless animated productions over the last 30+ years. Although Deane has worked with classic animated shows such as Popeye, The Flintstones, Casper, and Scooby-Doo,the excellent Cow and Chicken as well as features like Happily N’Ever After, he is most well known for his superlative work on Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Still incredibly busy on a variety of projects, Deane has been kind enough to answer a few questions about his influences, his art and his work on that classic film.

GEORDIE: With the imminent release of ParaNorman and Hotel Transylvania it would appear that the influence of The Nightmare Before Christmas is stronger than ever, are you still surprised at how popular the film remains after all these years?

DEANE:  I used to get really surprised but not so much anymore. I worked on the game in Japan and the President of Walt Disney in Tokyo told me that history has shown it gets a new audience every 3 years and can go as low as 4 years old. The film has been criticised for being too dark which I believe is rubbish.  “Dark” is often confused with depth of detail and distinctive, original character.I think it has elements of a modern-day fairy tale told with strong humorous undertones . To me, those are the ingredients for classic. ParaNorman has the flavour too…brilliant. I actually did a bit of early concept work on Hotel Transylvania for my very good friends David Feiss and Tony Stacchi.

GEORDIE: Your design style is very distinctive, looking at your work and the work of Tim Burton, recently on show at the Gallery of Victoria, it would seem that you guys are a perfect fit to work together. Can you explain how you came to work on the project and how your working relationship developed?

DEANE: Henry Selick looked at a hundred or so art directors but in visiting animation studios across the States his eye was drawn to faxed cartoons that I’d done,  that were on the pin-boards in a number of places. (yes…it was that long ago) This was pure dumb luck in my opinion…these sketches were just me having a laugh with mates I had worked with around the world at different times. Henry saw Tim’s style and thinking in this work and he contacted me for that reason. I was working out of Sydney at the time, but found myself on the job in San Francisco within weeks of that contact. I met with Tim on two occasions. Once for 3 minutes, and again for 4 minutes. Having said that, I believe it was enough. He is very clear in his thoughts, and his style very obviously unique. My brief was to make it look like Tim’s work, and we’d hear about it if it didn’t.  Rick Heinrich’s was put on the project as visual consultant.  They had worked together as early as Vincent and much more.He was Tim’s eyes and ears, and he is an amazing artist. As an art department we worked very closely with him. I have had  a much more direct working relationship with Tim since that time (specifically on the game ) and have found him just as direct and clear as I had before.

GEORDIE: The art direction for The Nightmare Before Christmas is iconic, I can see an incredible blend of Gothic Noir, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Dr.Seuss and Edward Gorey. Can you describe some of your personal influences and where you drew some of your inspiration from?

DEANE: I really only looked hard at Tim’s work. In that, I saw heavy influences from Edward Gorey and another favourite of mine, Ronald Searle. As you’ve accurately mentioned… Caligari and Seuss are in the top ten also. The way I saw it was that Tim had really blended the flavours of all of these things and brought his own stamp to it, and that’s what I should do as well. We as an art department stayed true to this while allowing additional detail to develop. Kendal Chronkite in particular, brought some very tasty design work into the process, and Henry had the eye to allow it.

GEORDIE: The background work on this film is as much a ‘character’ as the actual characters. Do you have a favourite piece, and speaking of characters, is there a particular character that you identify with?

DEANE: It’s no accident that the environments play into the character so heavily. I believe they really have to, to be believable. I wanted to create illustrations that you could fly in and around. Kind of a pop-up book. The sets were realised with amazing accuracy to the sketches, and in the rendering of the surfaces we went in and painted the hatching as a guide, which really added to the expressionistic finish. We used  fat water-colour brushes and black ink. The ink was crushed from hardened coal from the Altai Mountains. Just kidding…it wasn’t THAT long ago. As far as favourites…I am still very fond of Jack’s study, the Evil Scientist Laboratory, the treehouse and Oogies lair. Coincidentally, these were mostly the first sets produced and I believe have the strongest essence. The treehouse interiors especially: you should freeze frame through that sometime and look at the painted lighting and other detail. In characters, I have a very soft spot for Lock, Shock and Barrel.

GEORDIE: You’ve worked in traditional 2D, 3D and Stop-Motion animation; can you explain the difference in approach that was required to bring your designs to life?

DEANE: I think design principles remain largely the same despite the medium but I have to say that the years of having to cheat production value into the limitations of 2-D cartoons was the biggest influence in achieving the style of our sets. Fake perspectives, distorted architecture and scene planning were pivotal.  Forcing the viewers eye to look at what you choose to reveal is my preferred way to work. More often than  not it’s about what you don’t see rather than what you do. It’s like Keith Richards guitar playing. He knows when to shut up.

GEORDIE: On the audio commentary from the Nightmare DVD, Director Henry Selick talks about how the 1933 King Kong and Night of the Hunter (two of my all-time favourite films), were big touch stones for him throughout the duration of the project. Were there any particular films you could point to as major influences for prep or while you were working on the film?

DEANE:  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari obviously, but also the early Universal Frankensteins and Dracula’s…the really early ones. Simple and direct, these films were about three course meals, not pizzas.

GEORDIE: Our influences and tastes change and develop as we age, what were you drawn to as a kid, and what are some of the constants you always return to, or one that simply had a lasting effect on you?

DEANE: The turning point in art for me was seeing huge prints of Ronald Searle’s’ designs for The Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. They were probably huge because I was a runty eight year old but I can clearly remember thinking that an adult had done these, and that he was doing this for an actual job.  I though they were beautiful to look at, and they were funny. After that I tracked down the St Trinians books and feverishly tried to copy them. Ronald Searle became my personal tutor, though he probably still doesn’t know that. After that…Wizard of Id, BC and Mad magazine, who I eventually did work for. I still keep a lot of Searle’s work handy, for inspiration.

GEORDIE: What advice would you give to any aspiring young animators, story artists or art directors?

DEANE: You have to keep your eyes and ears open to new influences as well as your heroes. Look for the strange, and understand what it is that makes it so. This can be remote tribes, cultures, weird architecture and of course the minute detail of nature. It’s all out there waiting to be interpreted with a fresh eye or a different wrist. Look for the backstory, the “why”

GEORDIE: You seem to be constantly busy, what can we expect from you in the near future?

DEANE: I love visual storytelling and in recent years am more convinced that  this should be done with a conscience. It’s easy to produce a well told story, but I believe it should matter. I’m in development of an animated property that I believe does this. It’s a mix of styles that draws heavily on the flavours that have shaped my own work for the last 30 plus years. I’m very excited about it, and look forward to bringing it to fruition with a crew of seasoned veterans and new generation artists. I look at new work all the time and am hugely inspired by the freshness and skills that are scattered around the world.

GEORDIE: Thanks to Deane for giving up some of his (VERY valuable) time to do the interview, and for sharing his thoughts and inspiration. For more of Deane’s sketches, pearls of wisdom, and often hilarious recollections, check out his blog:  deanertaylor.blogspot.com.au   


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world (Wonderland) populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, and its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Alice was published in 1865, three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat, on 4 July 1862, up the Isis with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell, (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church) : Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13, born 1849) (“Prima” in the book’s prefatory verse); Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10, born 1852) (“Secunda” in the prefatory verse); Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8, born 1853) (“Tertia” in the prefatory verse).

The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. During the trip the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest.

To add the finishing touches he researched natural history for the animals presented in the book, and then had the book examined by other children—particularly the MacDonald children. He added his own illustrations but approached John Tenniel to illustrate the book for publication, telling him that the story had been well liked by children.

On 26 November 1864 he gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, dedicating it as “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day”. Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson when he printed a more elaborate copy by hand.

But before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party.

In 1865, Dodgson’s tale was published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by “Lewis Carroll”  with illustrations by John Tenniel. The first print run of 2,000 was held back because Tenniel objected to the print quality. A new edition, released in December of the same year, but carrying an 1866 date, was quickly printed.

The manuscript was re-illustrated by Dodgson himself who added 37 illustrations—printed in a facsimile edition in 1887. John Tenniel provided 42 wood engraved illustrations for the published version of the book.

Alice has provided a challenge for other illustrators, including those of 1907 by Charles Pears and the full series of colour plates and line-drawings by Harry Rountree published in the (inter-War) Children’s Press (Glasgow) edition. Other significant illustrators include: Arthur Rackham 1907, Willy Pogany 1929, Mervyn Peake 1946, Ralph Steadman 1967, Salvador Dalí 1969, Graham Overden 1969, Max Ernst 1970 and Peter Blake 1970.

The book has inspired numerous film and television adaptations; sometimes merging it with it’s sequel Through the Looking-Glass (1887), at last count there were over 23 film and TV versions, including a porno and numerous animated versions. The most well known versions are Alice in Wonderland (1951) traditional animation by Walt Disney Animation, Alice (1988) by Jan Švankmajer, which blends stop motion animation and live action and Alice in Wonderland (2010) a live action/computer fantasy adventure directed by Tim Burton.


Frankenweenie – Hollywood Promo Stills

Victor Frankenstein is a clever and industrious 10-year-old boy who is inspired by science. He lives with his parents and dog, Sparky, in the town of New Holland. Victor immerses himself in making films and inventing in his attic workshop. When Sparky dies in a car accident, Victor uses scientific ingenuity to bring him back to life.

Check out these fantastic ‘old school Hollywood’ stills of Victor, Sparky, Mr and Mrs Frankenstein, Elsa Van Helsing, Elsa’s dog Persehone , Bob, Bob’s Mum and Toshiaki, the over-achieving and mega-competitive foil to Victor. He delights in beating Victor at his own game and like a power-hungry, mad scientist, Toshiaki will stop at nothing to win the top prize in the school’s science fair—even if it means stealing Victor’s ideas to do it.


Frankenweenie – Full Length Trailer

From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life–with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

Adapted from his own, early live action short this has been a passion project of Burton’s for years and it shows in the attention to detail. The project reunites the director with many talents he’s worked with in the past, including actors Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, and Winona Ryder, as well as writer John August. The animation work looks fantastic and the cast of characters very fun indeed.


Dark Shadows – Poster Art

Nine new Dark Shadows posters were released last week, just got around to posting them… expect a flood of promo material between now and the release date. Great stills HERE.


Snow White and the Huntsman – Trailer

Here’s the TV spot for the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman, the reimagining of the classic fairy tale from the producer of Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’, Joe Roth. Starring Kristen Stewart of ‘Twilight’, Chris Hemsworth of ‘Thor’ and ‘The Avengers’, and Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron. Very different in tone to the other Snow White feature, Mirror, Mirror.


Dark Shadows – Shadows of the Night

Tim Burton’s Shadows of the Night ( Dark Shadows ), should have its first trailer revealed within a few days on the Internet. Check out these exclusive, previously unpublished photographs, courtesy of Cine Marked

SYNOPSIS In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with his son Barnabas, leave Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was enough to escape the mysterious curse that plagued the family. Two decades later, Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at your feet, or at least the city of Collinsport, Maine. Owner of the mansion Collinwood, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy … until he makes the serious mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). Angelique, a witch in every sense, condemns him to a fate worse than death: he turns into a vampire and then buried alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is released by mistake from his tomb and enters the world quite different from 1752.


Dante Ferretti

Dante Ferretti (born 26 February 1943) is an Italian production designer, art director and costume designer for film.

In his career, Ferretti has worked with many great directors, in America and hos native Italy; such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, Terry Gilliam, Franco Zefferelli, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Anthony Minghella and Tim Burton. He frequently collaborates with his wife, set decorator Francesca lo Schiavo. Ferretti was a protégé of Federico Fellini, and worked under him for five films. He also had a five collaboration with Pier Paolo Pasolini and later developed a very close professional relationship with Martin Scorsese, designing seven of his last eight movies.

Among his major triumphs include the movies: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, commonly referred to as Salò, a controversial 1975 Italian film written and directed by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini. It is based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade. Because of its scenes depicting intensely graphic violence, sadism, and sexual depravity, the movie was extremely controversial upon its release, and remains banned in several countries to this day. It was Pasolini’s last film; he was murdered shortly before Salò was released.

The Name of the Rose, a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is a Franciscan friar who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval abbey. The sets add to the sense of dread and deception.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a 1992 American Gothic-horror-romance directed and co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Bram Stoker. Gary Oldman apart, the movie is laden with wooden performances, however the sets and look of the movie are exceptional.

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles is a 1994 American horror-drama directed by Neil Jordan, based on the 1976 novel by Anne Rice. The film focuses on the homo-erotic relationship between vampires Lestat and louis, beginning with Louis’ transformation into a vampire by Lestat in 1791. The film chronicles their time together, and their turning of a twelve year old Creole girl, Claudia, into a vampire. The narrative is framed by a present day interview, in which Louis tells his story to a San Francisco reporter. Once again, beautiful art direction and sets dominate the film.

Gangs of New York is a 2002 historical drama set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City directed by Martin Scorsese. Made in Cinecitta Studios in Rome, and nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. In order to create the sets that Scorsese envisioned, the production was filmed on the largest stages in Cinecitta. Production designer Dante Ferretti recreated over a mile of mid-nineteenth century New York buildings, consisting of a five-block area of Lower Manhattan, including the Five Points slum, a section of the East River waterfront including two full-sized sailing ships, a thirty-building stretch of lower Broadway, a patrician mansion, and replicas of Tammany Hall, a church, a saloon, a Chinese theater, and a gambling casino. For the Five Points, Ferretti recreated George Catlin’s painting of the area.

In 2008, he designed the set for Howard Shore’s opera The Fly, directed by David Cronenberg, at the Theatre du Chateletin in Paris.

Ferretti won two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction for The Aviator and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He is nominated at this years awards for Hugo, he has had nine previous nominations. In addition, he was nominated for Best Costume Design for Kundun.


The Gawper – An Animated Graveyard Caper

Here’s a fun little short film that is part early Universal horror (or RKO — in particular, the Val Lewton films) and part Tim Burton.

Gawper from A Large Evil Corporation on Vimeo.


Batman (1989) – Review by my 5¾ year old son

Waiting for some new movies to come along, Real Steel is his next big one, my 5¾ year old son has decided to review the eighties/nineties Batman franchise…

Batman is about good guys fighting bad guys. Batman, Alfred and the Police are the good guys, the Joker and his mimes (henchmen) are the bad guys. Joker is called Jack before he falls into an experiment of goo and turns into the Joker.

Bruce Wayne remembers that Jack killed his mum and dad when he was a little boy so he really wants to catch him.

SPOILER ALERT The Joker tries to kill everyone in Gotham City with green gas before Batman stops him with his Bat-Plane. The Joker escapes to the top of a church steeple with Batman’s girlfriend. Batman has a fight with the Jjoker, but the Joker doesn’t go to Arkham Asylum because when he tries to escape in a helicopter, Batman ties a gargoyle to his leg and it’s too heavy for the Joker to hang on, so the Joker falls and dies.

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars


Dark Shadows – Images

Tim Burton’s latest film, an update of campy classic television series ‘Dark Shadows’ has already drawn quite a few negative reactions from online sites and the gossip magazines, all from people who haven’t seen any footage… Prompting Warner brothers to release a few official images to try to counter the negative publicity. Check out the on set report at UK Empire and official Press release at Entertainment Weekly.

Dark Shadows cast: Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman; Chloe Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard; Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard; Gulliver McGrath as David Collins; Bella Heathcote as Vitoria Winters; Johnny Depp as Barnabas; Ray Shirley as Mrs. Johnson; Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis; Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins; and Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.


Maleficent – Angelina Jolie

Fairy tales are big news in Hollywood after the $1 billion success of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Producer of that hit, Joe Roth is negotiating to become producer of ‘Maleficent’, Disney’s re-telling of its 1959 classic ‘Sleeping Beauty’, this time told from the vantage point of the evil witch. It’s no secret that Angelina Jolie wants to play that character. The script was written by Linda Woolverton, who scripted Alice in Wonderland as well as Disney’s recently re-released The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. They are looking for a director after a preliminary courtship of Alice helmer Tim Burton didn’t work out.

Aside from Alice in Wonderland, Roth is producing Disney’s Sam Raimi-directed Disney pic ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ with James Franco, Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz, as well as ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, the Universal Pictures epic that is being directed by Rupert Sanders and stars Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth.


Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl (13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990) was a British novelist, short story writer, fighter pilot and screenwriter. Born in Llandaff, Cardiff, to Norwegian parents, he served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, rising to the rank of Wing Commander. Dahl rose to prominence in the 1940s with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world’s best-selling authors. He has been referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century”. In 2008 The Times newspaper placed Dahl sixteenth on their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. His short stories are known for their unexpected endings, and his children’s books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour.

Dahl’s first published work, on 1 August 1942, about his wartime adventures, was bought by The Saturday Evening Post for US$1000 (a substantial sum in 1942) and published under the title “Shot Down Over Libya”. His first children’s book was ‘The Gremlins’, about mischievous little creatures that were part of RAF folklore. All the RAF pilots blamed the gremlins for all the problems with the plane. The book, which First Lady of the US Eleanor Roosevelt read to her grandchildren, was commissioned by Walt Disney for a film that was never made, and published in 1943. Dahl went on to create some of the best-loved children’s stories of the 20th century, such as ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator,  The BFG, George’s Marvelous Medicine and Fantastic Mr Fox.

Dahl’s children’s works are usually told from the point of view of a child. They typically involve adult villains who hate and mistreat children, and feature at least one “good” adult to counteract the villain(s). They usually contain a lot of black humour and grotesque scenarios, including gruesome violence. His books are all the better for it..!

Dahl also had a successful parallel career as the writer of macabre adult short stories, usually with a dark sense of humour and a surprise ending. The Mystery Writers of America presented Dahl with three Edgar Awards for his work, and many were originally written for American magazines such as Harper’s, Playboy and The New Yorker. Dahl wrote more than 60 short stories; they have appeared in numerous collections, some only being published in book form after his death. His three Edgar Awards were given for: in 1954, the collection Someone Like You; in 1959, the story “The Landlady”; and in 1980, the episode of Tales of the Unexpected based on his short story “Skin”.

One of his more famous adult stories, “The Smoker” (also known as”Man From the South”), was filmed twice as both 1960 and 1985 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and also adapted into Quentin Tarantino’s segment of the 1995 film ‘Four Rooms’. This oft-anthologised classic concerns a man in Jamaica who wagers with visitors in an attempt to claim the fingers from their hands. The 1960 Hitchcock version stars Steve McQueen and Peter Lorre.

His short story collection Tales of the Unexpected was adapted to a successful TV Series of the same name, beginning with “Man From the South”. When the stock of Dahl’s own original stories was exhausted, the series continued by adapting stories by authors that were written in Dahl’s style. The show was required viewing when I was a kid, we watched it avidly.

For a brief period in the 1960s, Dahl wrote screenplays. Two, the James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967) and ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ (1968), were adaptations of novels by Ian Fleming, though both were rewritten and completed by other writers. Dahl created the Child Catcher, the supporting antagonist in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and in a 2005 poll, it was voted the scariest villain in children’s literature. It terrified me as a child and is still unnerving to this day. Dahl also began adapting his own novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was completed and rewritten by David Seltzer after Dahl failed to meet deadlines, and produced as the film ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ (1971). Dahl later disowned the film, saying he was “disappointed” because “he thought it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie”. He was also “infuriated” by the deviations in the plot devised by David Seltzer in his draft of the screenplay. This resulted in his refusal for any more versions of the book to be made in his lifetime.


Beetlejuice, Zombies and Vampire Hunters

KatzSmith Productions partners David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith have just signed a two-year first-look feature producing deal at Warner Bros. While rights are still being worked out, one of their first projects is expected to be a sequel to Beetlejuice, the 1988 Tim Burton-directed hit that starred Michael Keaton as a ghoul hired by a recently deceased couple to drive the new owners out of their house. Burton and Keaton made the movie while they were working on the studio’s first Batman film, which was released the following year. Beetlejuice also starred Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder and Geena Davis. The film will not be a remake; the intention is to reboot it by advancing the storyline of the original.

The Warner Bros producing deal grew from the screenwriting work that Grahame-Smith did for Burton on Dark Shadows, currently in production with Johnny Depp heading the cast. While Warner Bros and other studios continue to cut back producing pacts, in KatzSmith the studio gets two partners who while just getting started producing features bring a lot of their own ideas to the table and are established writers and aspiring feature directors. “We first got to know Seth through his fantastic work on Dark Shadows, and it immediately became a priority to expand our relationship with him,” said Warner Bros production president Greg Silverman. “Seth introduced us to David, who greatly impresses us with the vision for KatzSmith from the very first meeting. We firmly believe in their talents and are extremely excited to welcome them to the Warners family.”

Grahame-Smith will write two scripts as part of the deal, and it’s a distinct possibility that Beetlejuice 2 will be one of them. Katzenberg and Grahame-Smith tell me the model for their company is Bad Robot and Imagine Entertainment, where the principals generate many of the ideas that are turned into films. Katzenberg (the son of DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg) and Grahame-Smith met at CBS, where they worked on a series of humorous webisodes generated by Michael Cera and Clarke Duke. Separately, Grahame-Smith wrote the bestselling novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and helped start a cottage industry in publishing where literary classics are dusted off and pollinated with supernatural elements. Grahame-Smith wrote the script for the latter film, which Timur Bekmambetov directed and which Fox releases June 22, 2012. Burton produced that film with Bekmambetov, and he hired Grahame-Smith for the Dark Shadows assignment at Warner Bros.

Before this deal, Grahame-Smith and Katzenberg were considered as co-directors by Lionsgate for the David O Russell-scripted Pride and Prejudice and Zombies before Craig Gillespie got the job.

“We want to make big movies based on big ideas and inspired by the comedies we grew up loving,” the 35-year old Grahame-Smith said. “The thing we like about Bad Robot and Imagine is that they are never pigeonholed because they do good work across a broad spectrum. We want to slowly grow into a company that follows in those footsteps.” Said Katzenberg, who’s 28: “We’re young, we’ve got a lot to learn, and we are going to have producers who help us on the first couple of big films. Warner Bros is a studio that gets behind its movies and is filmmaker-friendly.” The deal will allow them to buy material, but when possible they intend to self-generate, Katzenberg said. “We pride ourselves on coming up with a lot of our own ideas; about 90% of the projects we’ve generated in film and TV are ones we created and developed. The studio will help us bring our ideas to the finish line.”

They will give the studio first look at several projects they’re developing including Bryantology, in which a loser on the verge of losing his house exploits a tax loophole, invents a religion and names his home a tax-exempt place of worship. When the religion goes viral, followers show up on his doorstep and the hapless guy is suddenly a cult leader; Night of the Living, a stop-motion animated film that Grahame-Smith might script, with Burton producing along with KatzSmith. A town of peaceful monsters must learn how to fight when it is invaded by humans.


Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie gets a 3D make-over

DISNEY PRESS RELEASE: From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

A stop-motion animated film, “Frankenweenie” will be filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D, which will elevate the classic style to a whole new experience.

In Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

NOTES:

  • · When Tim Burton originally conceived the idea for “Frankenweenie,” he envisioned it as a full-length, stop-motion animated film. Due to budget constraints, he instead directed it as a live-action short, released in 1984.
  • · “Frankenweenie” follows in the footsteps of Tim Burton’s other stop-motion animated films “Corpse Bride” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”—both of which were nominated for Academy Awards®.
  • · Over 200 puppets and sets were created for the film.
  • · The voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (“Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands”), Catherine O’Hara (“Beetlejuice,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas”), Martin Short (“Mars Attacks!”) and Martin Landau (“Ed Wood,” Sleepy Hollow”).
  • · Several of the character names—Victor, Elsa Van Helsing, Edgar “E” Gore and Mr. Burgermeister— were inspired by classic horror films.

Dark Shadows is filming

“Dark Shadows” by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp is officially underway. A gothic-horror tale centering on the life of vampire Barnabas Collins and his run-ins with various monsters, witches, werewolves and ghosts. The cast features Depp as Barnabas Collins, Chloe Moretz, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Lee Miller and of course Helena Bonham Carter. Hopefully this will be a return to form for Burton who has always been more at home in the gothic realm. 

Based on the popular “Dark Shadows” TV series, Warner brothers official press release describe the movie as follows:

In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better…