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Posts Tagged ‘Film’

  1. What do Ghosts Eat for Breakfast?

    August 21, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Spook Stories was a series of trading cards sold in packs with some stale chewing gum by Leaf Candy Company. Leaf had taken a beating a few years earlier in the baseball card biz and apparently decided to forego sports cards completely in 1961 and instead exploit a resurgence in the popularity of old Universal horror films. Merely licensing the images from Universal wasn’t enough, though. Taking a page (several pages, in fact) from Warren Publishing’s Famous Monsters of Filmland, each monster card was given a witty caption. But the humor didn’t stop there! On the back of each card was a humourous (I use that word lightly) monster-related riddle.

     


  2. The Pit and the Pendulum: Who’s the Hero?

    August 7, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Now, I don’t want to spoil the ending of Roger Corman’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) for anybody who hasn’t seen it yet, so for those who think they’ve had better things to do over the last 50 years, please stop reading now and go watch it. It’s on Netflix streaming. I’ll wait. Go!

    Welcome back! Was it worth 80 minutes of your time? I think so.

    The Pit and the Pendulum has a wonderfully streamlined cast of characters. There’s Vincent Price as the grieving widower and don of an old Spanish castle.  His household is made up of two servants, Maria and Maximillian, and his visiting sister, Catherine. I suppose we should also include the “ghost” of the don’s wife, Elizabeth, as another member of the household. A frequent visitor is Doctor Leon who is the don’s friend and family physician. Lastly, we have the character everyone expects should be the hero, Elizabeth’s brother, Francis Barnard, who has traveled all the way from a renfair in London to investigate his sister’s suspicious death.

    So, let’s put these characters in their respective boxes, shall we?

    THE HEAVY: Vincent Price’s Don Medina is a sympathetic character who, despite Barnard’s suspicions, is wholly innocent in the death of his wife. He only becomes the heavy after a psychotic snap brought on by the treachery of the two true villains.

     

     

    THE VILLAINS: Doctor Leon and Elizabeth fake the latter’s death and attempt to drive Don Medina insane. They succeed at this to the point that it costs them their own lives.

     

     

     

    THE INNOCENT BYSTANDERS: Catherine‘s role as the potential love interest of the hero is never really fulfilled and she joins the servants Maria and Maximillian as mere witnesses to the strange goings on at Castle Medina.

     

     

    THE HERO THE DAMSEL IN DISTRESS: Elizabeth’s brother, Francis Barnard spends the first half of the film throwing suspicion upon the innocent Don Medina. His role is entirely to throw red herrings at the audience. Once he comes around to the reality that the don had nothing to do with Elizabeth’s “death” he merely becomes the freshly demented Medina’s victim; subjected to the title torture device. Does he devise a clever escape? Does he succeed in bringing Medina back to his senses? No. He cries to Catherine to come to his rescue! He’s not the hero; he’s Nell from Dudley Do-Right.

     THE HERO: Looks like we have to reconsider the roles of a couple of the innocent bystanders. Catherine makes a valiant attempt to claim the honor of heroine, but, alas,  she is a mere woman after all and must call on the assistance of the butler, Maximillian, who is the one who gains entry into the torture chamber, kills the demented don, and turns off the infernal machine about to bisect the entirely helpless Barnard.

    Yes! Our hero is Maximillian! Not only didn’t the butler do it; but he was the man who saved the day! A character so far down in the credits that I can’t even find a picture of him from the movie. (You’ll have to settle for a picture of actor Patrick Westwood playing a taxi driver in an early episode of The Avengers.)

    Maximillian is one of those unsung heroes in film that I find both baffling and charming. Don’t even get me started on the the Merry-Go-Round operator in Strangers on a Train.

     


  3. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (in Concept)

    July 30, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     I have to admit I am hesitant to post an entry about Irwin Allen’s 1961 film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. There are millions of fans of the movie and the TV show it spawned and I can’t get away with the kind of lazy research that passes muster when writing about the plot of a 50 year old comic book that barely anybody alive remembers reading. So, this weekend, the 50th anniversary of when Voyage to the Bottom of Sea was playing in theaters, I’m merely going to post some great pictures of the concept art used in pre-production, and a few of my modest observations based on nothing more than a couple casual viewing of the film when I was a kid.

      

    This, apparently, was the original design of the submarine Seaview. It’s missing the iconic “manta” bow of the final design and the windows are enormous! I remember thinking how impractiacal the windows on the movie and TV version were. The windows on the submarine in this picture just scream peril.

    I really like this picture! It’s a lot more expressive of a sky on fire than the roiling red glow seen in the film.

    I’d forgotten there was a giant squid in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. If I’d remembered that, I would have mentioned it in last week’s post about Jules Verne’s banner year in film. Surely, Voyage is only the second most famous story featuring a submarine and a giant cephalopod.

    Here’s a view through the interior of the “bigger windows” Seaview, made even more frightening by a gauntlet of sea mines. Granted, windows in a submarine are worth a few points in the terror department, but I think I’d have a hard time following the story worrying that at any moment a stray mine, or (illogically) sinking chunk of ice, or stray baseball could doom the entire crew of this technological wonder.