It’s Krofft Time – Here’s The First Trailer For The New Electra Woman And Dyna Girl (2016)

ew1I suppose it’s fitting to post this trailer for the new Electra Woman and Dyna Girl movie on a “Throwback Thursday” since I was a fan of the TV show when it was a part of the Saturday morning line-up way back when. Of course, part of that original love was because I had a serious crush on the super-cute Judy Strangis who played Dyna Girl in the original, and who also starred in the TV show Room 222.

(A quick side note: though she payed the teenage sidekick to Deidre Hall’s supposedly quite a bit older Electra Woman, Strangis was actually only two years younger than Hall.)

Anyway, thankfully it looks like this updated version is going to play as a pretty straightforward comedic take on the original, which is fitting, since the earlier version was basically a gender-swapped parody of the 60s Batman TV show. There are certainly worse ways they could go, and I’m just glad they’ve decided not to make this into some kind of crass “re-contextualizing” of the original, as happens far too often today.

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl is scheduled to hit various digital platforms in June before a pretty quick DVD/Blu-ray release in July.

 

Throwback Thursday – Panic In The Streets (1950)

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

Today we’re jumping back to August of 2010, and a look at another look at one of the Professor’s posts. The only major change I’ve made to it this time out is that the original featured a clip from the movie which is no longer available, so I substituted an actual trailer. The quality isn’t. unfortunately the best, but it’ll serve to get the feeling of the movie across.

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Panic In The Streets – Noir For The Public Good (1950)

pits1Generally, the term film noir is associated with movies where the only real theme is the downward spiral of the protagonist. Occasionally, as in the noirs that came out during World War II, we’ll see these films delve into something larger like the “growing Nazi menace”, but for the most part that’s simply overlay for the general development of mood or atmosphere that the director is trying to bring to the screen. Rarely do we find a director really trying to confront anything larger than one man’s personal downfall.

Perhaps that’s part of what makes the films of Elia Kazan, and this filmĀ  in particular, stand out from the typical noir fare, and why it would go on to win two Academy Awards.

Kazan, who would, at the same time he was becoming renowned not only for his body of film work which included A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and East of Eden as well as for developing and promoting the “method” style of acting and founding (along with Lee Strasburg and others) the famed Actor’s Studio, become somewhat infamous for his testimony as a “friendly witness” before the House Unamerican Activities Committee in which he named eight of his fellow former Group Theater members as having been Communists, was never one to shy away from including and introducing issues that he was interested in in any of his films. In this particular one, the main issues that stand out are illegal immigration and the public’s ”need to know” about an impending health threat.

The plot starts out fairly simply. Somewhere in New Orleans, a man named Kochak is killed during a brawl over a poker game. However, when his body is examined by Dr. Clinton Reed (Richard Widmark) it becomes obvious that the man was dying anyway – of the “pnuemonic plague”. In an attempt to keep word from getting out and causing the titular panic, and yet at the same time stop the spread of the virulent plague, Reed and the police soon find themselves enmeshed in an underworld of lies and deceit where no one can be trusted, not only because of possible criminal activities, but because they want to protect their fellow immigrants. Soon the film becomes as much about how much information one should be willing to give up in the name of the public good, as well as how much information the public really needs, as it is about actually finding the killers.

The parallels between the conflicts of the immigrants and Kazan’s own decisions only a few years later are, of course, blatantly obvious.

Besides Widmark, the film stars Zero Mostel (himself a victim of the HUAC blacklist, though not one of those given up by Kazan), a debuting Jack Palance, and the always lovely Barbara Bel Geddes.

Here’s a trailer:

And the Skinny:
Title: Panic in the Streets
Release Date: 1950
Running Time: 96 min
Black and White
Starring: Richard Widmark
Directed by: Elia Kazan
Produced by: Sol C. Siegel
Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

 

Covering Comics #15 – Batman, Superman, and World’s Finest Comics

I’ve often said that I miss the comics covers of old. Those covers were designed, unlike many of the ones being produced today which are merely mini-posters spotlighting the titular character without giving any indication of the story contained inside, to draw readers in and make them anxious about actually reading the stories contained therein. Of course, this was also a time when comic books could be found all over the place, from newsstands to the local drug store, as opposed to only in specialty comic-book shops, and they were largely focused on catching the eye of someone just passing by the comics rack instead of depending pretty solely on regular readers who are willing to go every Wednesday to get their weekly fix, but that’s a discussion for another time, I suppose. Anyway, “Covering Comics” is going

to be a probably irregular series of posts where I take a look at various covers from the past, highlighting some of my personal favorites, or other covers of note for one reason or another.

Since Batman vs Superman came out this week, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the relationship these characters used to have with each other, specifically the one that developed over the years in the DC Comics title World’s Finest Comics. Though at first the two heroes appeared together on the covers but in separate stories on the inside, as of issue 71, as DC comics got thinner and moved down to 32 pages, the two began appearing in the same stories.

One of the things you’ll probably note is that the characterizations of the two, and especially that of Batman, are very different, much lighter, than what we are used to seeing in today’s comics. Who today could imagine Superman and Batman paying baseball or skiing together, Batman being such an amazingly public figure, and while Superman certainly still fights aliens quite often, they really aren’t much like the ones featured on these covers. Also, we’re back to the type of covers, especially during the later years that were designed to draw in the occasional reader and make them wonder about the story inside.

Okay, that’s enough introduction. Once again, I’m going to get out of the way and let the covers speak for themselves.

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Next time? More of the same, but different.

 

Double Feature Time – Zoombies (2016) and…

z1No, that’s not a misspelling in the title above, I really did mean Zoombies. As you’ll see from the trailer this comes from the folks at Asylum, purveyors of low budget schlock/homage/rip off films that quite often turn out to be entertaining in their own right, and this may just be one of those times. I’d suggest putting on your Roger Corman fan hat and just approaching it in that frame of mind. Somehow I missed this when it first appeared as a SyFy TV flick, but it just got it’s DVD release last week.

Anyway, watching the trailer put me in mind of one of the greatest Man vs Beast movies of all time, and a movie that would make a great double feature with it. That’s right, the ever popular Shakma! (No, the actual on-screen title doesn’t include the exclamation point, but it should, and the title should always be shouted just as it is at the end of this trailer.

Throwback Thursday – The Birds : Alfred Hitchcock’s Zombie Movie?

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

Today we’re heading back to Feb 2013 and one of the first posts I made on this blog, where I compared Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. The only real changes I’ve made here are updating the YouTube links so that they work properly, and deleting the initial spoiler warning that I had on it since I’ve got the sticky spoiler warning at the top of the page now. I will go ahead and make note, though that the post does talk some about the end of both movies, so if you haven’t seen one or the other of them, you have been warned.

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The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock’s Zombie Movie?

So I recently had a chance to revisit Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds on the big screen thanks to a Hitch film marathon run by our local “art-house” theater the Belcourt Theater . While I was sitting there watching the last thirty minutes or so of the movie, especially the part where our main characters have boarded themselves into the house and are fending off an attack from thousands of mostly unseen birds that what I was seeing could easily be a precursor to George Romero’s 1968 zombie film Night of the Living Dead.

Here’s the way I see it: In both films you have a threat that at the first seems somewhat innocuous. Ok, maybe zombies are never really innocuous, but at the beginning of Living Dead we don’t even know that the first zombie Barbara and her brother encounter is one. When he first approaches, he could possibly be simply a deranged, perhaps drunken or drug-addled old man. And even when the threat does reveal itself to be more sinister, well, let’s face it, as slow-moving as Romero’s zombies are, if there’s only one around, it can easily be outrun. Likewise, in The Birds, when the threat is simply one bird, such as the one that first swoops from the sky and attacks Tippi Hedren’s Melanie as she’s crossing Bodega Bay, it could simply be an isolated incident, fairly easily fended (and written) off. It’s only when the attacks begin, in both movies, more en masse that the true threat becomes apparent.

Look, up in the sky! Are those birds?!

Look, up in the sky! Are those birds?!

Then there is the aspect of the main characters being cut off from the outside world. In Birds, this isolation is represented by the insular community that is the town of Bodega Bay. In Dead, of course, it is the cemetery and house. In both instances, there comes a point where the only communication our characters can get is one-way via television or radio, and even then they are only given glimpses of what may be the broader picture occurring in the outside world.

Also, in both movies, there is a central question that is never really answered: what is the real reason for, or origin of, the threat? Why are the birds just now attacking? Where have the zombies actually come from? And while there is speculation on these topics in each movie, we (nor for that matter, the characters) are never really given a satisfactory answer. Which is actually okay, because in neither instance does it really matter. That’s not the story the movie wants to tell, because in both movies, the main concern is not with the attackers, it’s with the characters that are being attacked. How are they going to respond to the threat once it becomes apparent? And perhaps even more pointedly, especially in Living Dead with its very timely black lead, how are they going to interact?

Is this the result of a) a zombie attack, b) birds, or c) an all-day Honey Boo-Boo marathon?

Is this the result of a) a zombie attack, b) birds, or c) an all-day Honey Boo-Boo marathon?

Of course, eventually, and this is where the comparison really became obvious to me, both movies end up becoming what is known as a base-under-siege film. In The Birds, our protagonists eventually find themselves boarded up in the Brenners’ home. In Living Dead, it’s the farmhouse that Barbara runs into. In both cases, the characters find themselves essentially trapped and trying to fend off attacks from an unknown but obviously overwhelming number of unseen opponents. As the climax rages, in both films we have scenes where all we see of the birds is their beaks as they try to peck their way through the doors and windows or the grasping hands of the zombies as they attempt to reach, grasp and claw their way towards their victims. It’s this overwhelming force, the sheer number of opponents that makes each respective “monster” truly a credible threat. As long as they keep coming, there is no way that our protagonists are going to escape.

There are, throughout the movies, even more parallels that could be pointed to, for instance in both, there are trails of gas that lead to (in both cases similarly foreshadowed) explosions. There are wild-eyed crazies who want to blame others in the party for their current predicament. And I’m sure there are even more that could be pointed out, but the most striking, of course, is the rather ambiguous ending given to each movie. because in both cases, the threat is never really neutralized. In The Birds, even though the “heroes” do make it out alive, there is still that huge mass of birds just waiting and watching as they drive off, and we know that even though these particular people may have made their escape, (perhaps they were even simply allowed to?) the threat is still out there, and in Living Dead, even though we’re told that patrols are clearing out the area and neutralizing the threat it’s obvious from the several sequels how effective that effort was.

Now I’m gonna be honest here and admit that I haven’t done any real reading on the topic, and it may very well be that Romero has acknowledged his debt to the earlier film. Or not, though it certainly seems obvious that he must have had the Hitchcock film in mind when he was writing his zombie flick, even if it was only subconsciously. And while Hitchcock certainly wasn’t the first to introduce the base under siege trope, it certainly can’t be denied that he not only brought his own flair to it, he really made it his own. But it’s that ability that shows him for the true genius that he was.

And in the end, let’s face it, no matter what parallels there may be, intentional or not, both films are true classics, and should be simply enjoyed for what they are: Simply Great Movies.

Until next time, happy viewing!

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

 

The Question Isn’t Who Ya Gonna Call? But Who’s Gonna Answer That Call – Here’s The Trailer For The New Ghostbusters Movie

gb1I dunno. Maybe it’s just the mood that I’m in today.

There’s really nothing wrong with this trailer, and it looks like Ghostbusters 3 or whatever they wind up actually calling it could be entertaining.

Still, there’s a part of me that watches this and feels like it seems more like an SNL parody of the original than a continuation of the franchise.

Or like one of those “Scary Movie” movies.

It’s not the change to an all-female cast, though I have to admit that I’ve never really been a fan of either Melissa McCarthy or Kristen Wiig.

Actually, I think it was the “The power of panic compels you!” line that really put me off. It’s cute, but…

Anyway, though I’m sure I’ll go see it, this trailer really just doesn’t make me want to rush out to do so.

Here, take a look for yourself and see what you think: