Death never runs out of time...
Nearly 40 years after its release, The Exorcist is still the gold standard for classic horror films, conjuring up pure psychological terror from the depths of the unknown and the unimaginable.
The scary face that lunges out of the shadows in many B-grade horror films may get a shriek out of you.
But movies that crawl into the dark recesses of your mind and rummage through the twisted bits and discarded debris of your hidden self are the truly terrifying ones.
If you're looking for a frightening movie to rent this weekend, you might try The Abandoned.
This film won't scare the bejeezus out of you quite like The Exorcist but it beats much of the stuff that typically masquerades for horror.
In this 2006 release, the mood is murky and mysterious when an American film producer returns to her homeland, Russia, to claim the family home she has inherited from her now-dead parents.
In the dark, creaking silence of an abandoned house, she learns why death never runs out of time.
Watch the trailer...if you dare...
The new John Cusack ultimate disaster film, 2012, opens appropriately on Friday the 13th.
All the pre-release hoopla reminded us of the rash of apocalyptic movies that dominated movie screens back in the mid-1950s.
Most of these flicks were about some kind of beast born of atomic radiation (more about them later), but a few could easily be grandfather to the new Cusack movie.
When Copywriters Ruled
Special effects were crude and primitive back in the day, so it fell to the writers who wrote the narration in the coming attractions trailer to sell the goods. Today's marketers and PR types could learn a lot from those guys. As you watch the following clips, see if you agree. We've showcased some of the best lines as Hot Copy.
Disaster Du Jour
Here are two movies at least somewhat similar to 2009's 2012. In retrospect, these disaster movies from the pristine 50s were filled with sexual innuendo. You see it too, right? Or is it just us?
The Night the World Exploded 1957
Hot Copy: Worldwide chaos as mighty earthquakes erupt...upheavals tilt the Earth past the danger point!
Sexual innuendo: Scene setting -- Woman in bed. Man sitting on bed.
Woman: You still haven't found a way to stop the eathquakes, have you?
Man: I can't close my eyes to the truth...
Woman: So you're saying eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die?
Man: *knowing smirk*
That's right, baby. Now or never!
The Day the World Ended 1956
Hot Copy: A new high in naked screaming terror!
The monster in this film has to take a back seat to all the sexual innuendo. Did we say innuendo?! This 50s movie puts it all out there.
Scenario: a horrible monster is terrorizing Earth seeking out the planet's most desirable women to mate with. And how do the men of Earth respond? Check out this dialogue from the trailer:
Scientist #1 "There's two forms of life fighting for survival (humans and the monster) and only one of them can win."
Scientist #2 "I'll talk to the girls in the morning...they should bear children as soon as possible"
What?! That's your solution?! The old if-the-monster-has-its-way-with- you-you'll-have-monster-kids-so-you-need-to-have-sex-with-me-immediately routine?
Giant Lizards and Creepy Crawlies
In the 1950s, fears about the effects of atomic radiation played out at the movies with films about either lizards or insects being transmogrified into humungous goliath-sized monsters.
The Beginning of the End 1957
Here's an impossible mission for Peter Graves - stop giant grasshoppers from feeding on the good people of our hometown Chicago.
Hot Copy: A menace so massive, so overwhelming, that thousands upon thousands are propelled into senseless terror. Panic takes the place of planned evacuation and whole cities are paralyzed with FEAR!
This movie was made on such a shoestring budget that a scene depicting the grasshoppers scaling the historic Wrigley Building was actually shot using insects scurrying around on a large black & white photograph of the building. As we recall, at one point, one of the grasshoppers strayed and walked out onto the sky. Oops...
King Kong vs Godzilla 1962
The ultimate beat-down!
Hot Copy: The great Godzilla, blazing a trail of terror to his Japanese homeland...!
Sexual Innuendo: The unconquerable King Kong, great gorilla god of the South sea paradise, where sensuous maidens offer themselves in ritual sacrifice to his crude embrace!
A flying dinosaur! A BIG flying dinosaur!
Hot Copy: When he moves, the whole Earth quivers and quakes and an abyss of HORROR opens up!
The Giant Behemoth 1959
A behemoth would be a big thing, right? So a giant behemoth must be REALLY big!
Hot Copy: The Giant Behemoth -- the fire breathing monster predicted in the bible -- its core a mass of lethal radiation. Rising from the depths of time, its strength enormous!
Big, really BIG, radioactive ants.
Hot Copy: In one moment of history-making violence, nature mad, RAMPANT, wrought its most awesome creation. For born in that swirling inferno of radioactive dust were things so horrible, so terrifying, so hideous, there is no word to describe ...THEM!
When we grow up, we want to be Sinval Fonseca
Sinval does it all. He is a musician, singer and artist from Brazil whose passion for life and living is evident in the art he freely shares with the world. He is a constant inspiration to us.
We first came across him on YouTube and posted about him back in July. He was kind enough to send a lovely note -- translated from his native Portuguese -- in response.
I love the art in general, I have the music as hobby and the painting as profession.
Well, what better way to prepare for another tough work week than to enjoy the bossa nova rhythms of Sinval!
First up the Brazilian classic Girl from Ipanema...
In Pois E, he sings and plays all the parts...
Sinval shows off his skill at the keyboard (and drums) with this number...
Watch the multi-talented Sinval paint as he serenades you with his music...
A New Hope
Baby boomers who rushed to movie theatres in the mid-1970s to see the first Star Wars movie were thrilled by the special effects, light saber swordplay and X-Wing rocket ships. We suspect, though, that two members of the supporting cast had a lot to do with the film's popularity.
Eight Shopping Weeks Till Christmas
Droids C3PO and R2D2 resonated with a robotic chord deep within the baby boomer psyche, stirring memories of the many toy commercials they watched as adolescents. In the 1950s and 1960s, toy robots, in all different flavors, were big on Christmas shopping lists.
Let's face it. Mr. Machine just didn't have much personality. Strike that. He didn't have any personality. He just sashayed around on his little spring-driven wheels waving his arms and legs. If you had a whole squad of them, as appear in this commercial, you might have some fun for a while, but having just one doesn't sound like much of a party.
Rock'em Sock'em Robots
A real adrenaline rush here. What could give you a higher high than truly knocking your opponents block off?
Rock'em Sock'ems had it all over those wussy Mr. Machines. You could actually vent your aggression and redirect your killer instincts in a socially acceptable way. No harm, no foul.
Our favorite line in this commercial - "Just push the flying heads back and you're ready for round 3."
By the way for fans of vintage TV, that is Hazel's Bobby Buntrock in this commercial.
Garloo was a monster and not technically a robot but he certainly fit into the genre. He was large -- at least relative to the victims you imagine he's crushing -- and unlike most monsters, he rolled around on wheels.
Is it just us or is there something about the drug-crazed eyeball action of this robot that's a little disturbing? Not that watching its head flip open and fire a rocket isn't a little odd, too.
The voice control claim may have slipped passed the FTC. Only by first setting the knob on the wired remote to the command you wanted RC to execute, then screaming into the so-called microphone at the top of your lungs, could you get the feature to work. That's basically like yelling at a light switch in your home, hoping the sound vibrations will flip it.
Okay, so if Robot Commando and Great Garloo had a kid it would be Big Loo, the Moon Robot, right?
First of all, this thing is freakin' huge. Secondly, for a robot, it seems to leave you to do all the work. Thirdly, after hearing the voiceover announcer say, "hear his bell, blow his whistle," we now finally know the origin of the term all the bells and whistles.
And did we mention this thing is freakin' huge?
Their over-the-top take on the Spanish Inquisition is typical of their comedic genius.
This was one of Monty Python's classic sketches. One reason why it stands out is because it's one of the few in which Terry Gilliam -- the animator and sole American-born member of the troupe -- performs in front of the camera.
Monty Python was on stage last Thursday night at New York's Ziegfield Theatre for a reunion performance.
The Full Monty
A brave ten year old girl in the Ziegfield audience had the opportunity to perform the Inquisition sketch solo as the Pythons looked on.
Just think of it as enhanced interrogation.
Over the years, this Monty Python sketch has generated a lot of laughs from but, alas, the real Inquisition wasn't nearly as funny. Stretching, in some form or another, from the 12th to the 14th century, it was a process used not to seek truth but to solidify a diverse Europe for political purposes by getting its victims to abandon their own faiths and admit to false doctrine.
Galileo got caught up in the Inquisition, Italian style. His theory that the Earth was not the center of the universe didn't go over well with Pope Gregory IX.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
As a result of pressure put on him by the Roman Catholic Church of the day, Galileo recanted his heretical theory and professed that the Sun moved around an Earth which stood still.
It has been rumored that as he was led away from the tribunal he muttered, "And yet, it moves..." Good for Galileo, if true.
Imagine, if you will, Galileo and a young asistant standing by a primitive telescope charting celestial movements.
Galileo: We are witnessing the grand wonders of the universe!
Young Assistant: Why didn't you invent something useful like a phone, a videogame or a computer, instead of this dumb telescope?
Galileo: Silence you young upstart! I didn't expect some kind of Spanish Inquisition!
Cue Monty Python...
Infomercials -- A Brief History
Bedtime for Deregulation
Some say it all started when Ronald Reagan deregulated the television industry during the early days of cable television, opening the door for greedy advertisers to buy up time in 30 and 60 minute chunks.
As if to fool the viewer, product pitches were loosely disguised as entertainment and the infomercial was born.
Soloflex exercise machines, in 1987, were one of the first items marketed this way. Ten years later, George Foreman and his Grill scored a knockout with one of the most successful infomercial product launches of all time.
Not-Exactly-Infomercials -- A Brief History
But a related version of this concept goes back long before the Reagan. We're talking about those shorts spots for amazing time-saving inventions or hilarious new gadgets that continue to be in heavy rotation on local TV stations. We suppose that technically they weren't infomercials but they were definitely a different breed of advertisement.
Way, way back in 1964, Ron Popeil hawked the slicing, dicing Veg-O-Matic.
Rival K-Tel countered with the Blitzhacker. The Blitzhacker?!
Hey, Good Lookin'! It's Mr. Microphone!
What could possibly be more fun than Mr. Microphone -- ?
The Pocket Fisherman
We're sure that Babe Winkelman carries one of these bad boys around.
This device tests your flashlight batteries to see if they have enough juice. Here's a battery test. Hit the on button on your flashlight. If it comes on, the batteries are okay. If not, replace the freakin' batteries.
(Insert your own clever comment here)
This commercial has a definite Little Shop of Horrors vibe to it. And by the way, why is it that no hair is actually coming off?
Perhaps the genius of Lucy -- and Jackie Gleason above -- is that they saw the future impact of a TV trend decades before anyone else did.
In the late 1990's swing dancing was having quite a revival and the Gap was all over it. But what really set their Gap Khaki commercial apart had nothing to do with the dancing.
It was the first place that many of us were exposed to something the Wachowski Brothers were soon to become famous for in their 1999 film, The Matrix. They called it bullet-time.
The swing dancers mysteriously freeze in mid-air for several seconds while the camera appears to circle around them.
Wake up, Neo
Not long after, black leather-clad Trinity showed us that she knew a little something about Jump-Jivin' too.
Free Entertainment for a Long Holiday Weekend.
Sandybro put this YouTube clip together of three TV commercials from Soviet TV circa the 1980's. Our unnecessary comments and comparisons to US ads are below.
Commercial 1 - A Dimmer Switch?
We speak a little Russian here but obviously not nearly enough to know what the hell is going on in the first commercial. As far as we can tell it's an ad for a dimmer switch. But not just any dimmer switch.
This is largest most colorful dimmer switch in world! In Russia, you don't dim lights. Lights dim you!
Free World Competitor - The Clapper
This Soviet dimmer switch commercial was pretty bad but the Clapper spot isn't exactly Clio material. By the way, does the woman -- turning off the TV while in bed -- fall asleep awfully fast?
Commercial 2 - Men's Clothing - What the well-dressed KGB agent is wearing this year!
We always wondered where Borat bought his clothes. Is it just us or was that a young Putin in there somewhere?
Free World Competitor: Men's Warehouse
Actually we think the Soviet ad is a little more fun -- in its own wacky way -- than this vintage George Zimmer commercial.
Commercial 3 - Portable Cassette Player
The Russian cassette player was so huge it apparently took two people to carry it.
Free World Competitor - Sony Walkman
At least there was a romantic angle to the Russian commercial. This speak-and-spell US Walkman commercial doesn't even have that going for it.
Sifl and Olly were the sock puppet creations of Liam Lynch and Matt Crocco.
Sifl and Olly comedy sketches were originally filler between MTV videos in the mid-1990's but then evolved into a half-hour show. Somehow MTV never understood the pure, lunatic genius of this program and canceled it after only two seasons with unseen episodes still in the can.
We hope there's a large cult following out there for this show, but we wonder. A Google search for Sifl Olly generates only 46,000 hits versus 2.2 million for Beavis Butt-Head and 38.5 million for Family Guy.
It's probably more accurate to call the Sifl and Olly Show improv, with scripts offering only serving suggestions for the mad minds of good friends, Lynch and Crocco.
A Word with Chester
Precious Roy's Home Shopping Network - Pirate Cripplers
Letters to Chester - Chester's Recipe
Precious Roy's Home Shopping Network - Squirrel Zappers
More Movie Madness from Apocalypzia!
We've already told you about Angry Alien Productions and their Bun-O-Vision 30 second movies.
Thatguywithglasses.com can shave 25 seconds off that!
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
"Impressive, Young Skywalker..."
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
This film was over three hours long. And it's not as if we didn't know how it was going to end.
See other Apocalypzia posts in the Weekend Showcase category.
Got a minute? How about two?
Enjoy the Stars Wars Weekend Film Festival!
Star Wars in Bun-O-Vision in Less Than a Minute (With Out-Takes)
Star Wars without Bunnies in One Minute
The Lost Art
TV show openers used to blend melody and lyrics to lay out setting and premise. But we just don't have that kind of time anymore. Can you imagine ABC's Lost starting with cheezy theme music and a voiceover?
"They were on a plane but they crashed on an island and there was this hatch thing and a smoke monster and did we mention the polar bear...?"
Not So Long Ago
But there was a time that TV theme sequences were integral to the programs we watched. For example...
Lalo Schiffren's iconic 5/4 time signature and pulse-pounding beat set the tone for this series.. Married to the theme music was a masterwork of film editing. A sequence of rapid-fire jumpcuts carefully tailored for each episode ratcheted up the sense of urgency that was the lifeblood of the series.
The opening sequence for this show, allegedly pitched to NBC as "MTV Cops," set the stage for fashion-forward glamour and high-life excitement. Jan Hammer's Top-40 current, on-the-money theme was pitch perfect.
The Miami Vice opener seemed to draw its inspiration from Hawaii Five-O.
When this show premiered a lot of people thought Hawaii was a quiet place where people lazed around on the beach all day, eating cocoanuts and sipping pina-colodas.
Not so, screamed the classic theme sequence. In one short minute, the beautiful island culture and history blends with a darker, gritty undertone of big city crime and punishment.
As a side note, Morton Stevens, composer of this, one of the best TV themes ever, also composed the melody for Gilligan's Island.
Our continuing question though: did Kam Fong really need the different character name, Chin Ho? Did Zulu really need the different character name, Kono?
Does a TV theme really make a difference?
You be the judge. Here's is the official opening of the breakthrough TV series,The Prisoner, with Ron Grainer's theme music that fused contemporary and traditional influences into something quite different for the time.
And here's what the theme might have been...
What are your choices for Classic TV show openers?
Apocalypzia presents ... Sinval Fonseca!
Sinval is an artistic renaissance man from Brazil, who is, among other things, a painter, a musician and a singer.
Chances are you won't see him on television this weekend and you won't be attending one of his concerts, but that's no reason why you shouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy his work.
We get the feeling that he may not have much more equipment than a guitar, a video camera and some green-screen software but he has tremendous talent and obvious passion for his art.
Give him a little time to get rolling here. His intro is slow and a bit tentative. But by about forty seconds into the video, Sinval kicks into high gear and puts on a magnificent show.
It's been a long, tough week. Relax and unwind with brilliant Bossa Nova..!
Trying to decide on a Blockbuster or Netflix movie for the weekend?
We recommend an Apocalypzian alternative that will take a lot less of your time and none of your money.
In 2004, the brilliant Jennifer Shiman, head of Angry Alien Productions, created something innovative and refreshing called Bun-o-Vision.
Parodies of classic and near classic movies presented as animated 30 second shorts, starring bunnies.
That's right, bunnies. Titanic, Casablanca, The Exorcist, Brokeback Mountain... They're all here, all starring bunnies and all of 30 seconds long.
These aren't spoofs of the films but instead are surprisingly on-point condensed renditions of characters, plot points and dialogue. Actually the Bun-o-Vision version of My Dinner with Andre makes more sense than the interminable original.
Angry Alien Productions, winner of two Webby Awards in 2008, has an inventory of over 50 shorts, with Terminator, Top Gun and Gone with the Wind in the works.
If you're in the mood for something refreshingly different check out Angry Alien. But be forewarned, the site can be be very addictive as you click your way through the movie archives.
Did we mention the bunnies?