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Category: Blasts from the Past


Jaws 3-D movie poster 1983

When I was a kid I remember paying $5 at the geek show part of a carnival to see a giant great white shark. We were taken into a long trailer and were able to walk around it, suspended in some kind of clear block. It was sad, horrifying, and shocking that someone would display an animal this way.  After watching Jaws 3-D for our review of Halloween films, I had some of the same feelings return.

You’re not supposed to cheer for the monster in a monster movie like Jaws 3-D.  And yet I found myself hoping the shark would consume all this early 1980s fashion and bad moviemaking.  Every actor earns his or her sea legs in a different way, and here was Dennis Quaid (Enemy Mine, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), Bess Armstrong (House of Lies), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), and Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) before they all would make names for themselves in much bigger and better films.  There’s even the son of All in the Family’s Jean Stapleton, John Putch, before he would have small roles in several series, including playing Mordock the Benzite in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Putch plays Sean Brody, brother to Quaid’s Mike Brody, and they are the sons of Chief Brody from the original Jaws.  The Brodys find themselves again pursued by a giant shark, the latest some 35 feet long.

Jaws 3-D scream

Where Friday the 13th III in 3D is an example of over-the-top 3D effects that–absurd or not–you can still appreciate at least for its humor, Jaws 3-D reflects all that is bad about 3D.  The fundamental requirement of any movie, with or without special effects, is a good story.  This story doesn’t know what it wants to be.  At times it could be a poignant look at compassionate marine biologists caring about their animals and their work, with Armstrong and Quaid going about their jobs in a nice summer setting.   In a different genre years later this would be the backdrop for a movie like Summer Rental.  But a movie called Jaws requires chilling suspense.  Jaws 3-D doesn’t earn the title.

Were it merely a vehicle for three-dimensional whiz-bang action, this might have resulted in something like Friday the 13th III.  But the directorial choices are bad.  The images shown in 3D are superfluous to the plot.  The film sulks along and the only action comes about after an hour of the film as passed by.  As to story the movie doesn’t make sense even on paper.  A shark accused of killing people is finally caught, put on display at an aquarium, and then its mother sneaks into the park and torments the staff and guests until it breaks through the aquarium walls to get revenge on the facility manager.  Remember last year’s Syfy B-movie hit Sharknado?  Jaws 3-D is the original Sharknado, but without the necessary tongue-in-cheek humor.

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Star Wars Posters Abrams cover art

Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether a piece of art is appealing is in the eye of the beholder.  Everyone who gives a considered view to a piece of artwork is entitled to their own interpretation and commentary on it.  This month sees the release of a book that will allow the reader to take his or her own personal journey through the artwork that became the marketing posters for the Star Wars franchise.  Star Wars Art: Posters is the fifth and final hardcover installment in Abrams Books’ successful series pulling the best imagery from Lucasfilm.  It follows Star Wars Art: Visions, Star Wars Art: Concept, Star Wars Art: Illustration, and, to be reviewed soon here at borg.comStar Wars Art: Comics.  With Star Wars Art: Posters, the best was saved for last.

Star Wars Art: Posters is a purely visual experience.  It includes only the slightest amount of text or interpretational information.  A one-page commentary is included, written by each of noted Star Wars poster artists Drew Struzan and Roger Kastel.  They each recount their own experience with creating Star Wars poster art, but do not give an overview of the rest of the galaxy of poster art.  Instead each piece of art is laid out roughly chronologically, stripped of the words and printed matter that would be needed for the completion of the final poster for distribution, but with a notation showing the artists’ name, date, significance, and medium.

Empire Strikes Back Kastel

Die hard fans of Star Wars will recognize many, if not most, of the included posters.  And you’ll find yourself embarking on your own nostalgic trip back nearly four decades.  Back to the first poster for the film from 1976: Howard Chaykin’s screaming imagery of Luke, Han, Leia and Ben, with lightsaber pointing downward, Tom Jung’s famous one-sheet–what most remember as the classic Star Wars poster, Tom Chantrell’s photo-real poster featuring Mark Hamill as Luke along with the rest of the main cast, and that famous circus-design poster by Charles White III and Drew Struzan.  My own trip back in time recalls the Del Nichols posters that were Coca-Cola giveaways, three of which are included in the book (and which covered the walls of my bedroom many years ago).

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Legenderry Red Sonja Davila cover   Legenderry Vampirella Davila cover

Bill Willingham’s Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure was one of this year’s best ideas, a combination of steampunk, superhero mash-up, and just plain great retro fun.  Legenderry saw a parallel universe including the creation of Steve Austin–the Six Thousand Dollar Man, and alternate versions of Flash Gordon, the Green Hornet and Kato, Vampirella, the Phantom, and Red Sonja, among others.  It was the ultimate new look at familiar characters that Dynamite holds the licensing rights to today.

We’re hoping for a future addition of Miss Fury to this steam-powered world, and to hear about a Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure trade edition to collect the seven-issue limited series.  Until then Dynamite is branching out beyond Willingham’s story, focusing on three of the characters: Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Green Hornet, each to have their own new series.

Legenderry Red Sonja Poulat cover   Legenderry Vampirella Poulat cover

David Avallone will write the Legenderry: Vampirella series, featuring Madam Pendragon and her path to become Vampirella.  Daryl Gregory (Planet of the Apes) will write the Legenderry: Green Hornet story featuring Hornet and Kato in a Gangs of New York type setting.

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Jurassic Park 3D dimension

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s difficult to ascertain what Steve Spielberg could have done differently had he actually planned a Jurassic Park 3D movie or filmed it originally with 3D technologies.  Jurassic Park 3D is so well done, devoid of gimmicky 3D imagery, but filled with crystal clear depth and eye-popping dimension scene after scene that you’ll think it isn’t merely a post-production conversion.

Unlike the few months technicians had to create the transfer used for a movie like the admittedly superb Predator 3D release, reviewed earlier at borg.com hereJurassic Park 3D underwent a full year of a painstaking, detailed transfer process, thanks to the post-production conversion studio Stereo D.  It’s also a testament to having those creators who made the original production oversee the conversion from original 2D film to 3D.  In this case, the oversight was by director Steven Spielberg himself.

Jurassic Park 3D cover

When considering what makes good or bad 3D movie subjects, we learned from Predator 3D, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Friday the 13th III in 3D that nothing beats Mother Nature when you’re watching 3D.  The context of setting a film in the natural world, highlighting the detail of trees and grass and, in the case of Jurassic Park a forest nestled among waterfalls in real-life Hawaii, is the best environment to judge 3D on your home 3D system.

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E.t. the extra-terrrestrial

No other director has produced more hits and more variety than Steven Spielberg.  You’d have to travel pretty far to find someone who didn’t love at least one of Spielberg’s films.  Whether it’s Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Minority Report, or War of the Worlds, each of Spielberg’s genre blockbusters rival the best of other major directors’ films.  That doesn’t even include his more critically acclaimed dramatic works, Schindler’s List, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, and Lincoln. 

The films Spielberg directed at Universal Studios are being released tomorrow in a new boxed set in both a DVD and Blu-ray edition.  Whether you’ll go for this set isn’t a matter of whether this is a great collection of great movies.  It’s more about math.  Today only you can get the set for less than half the published retail price at Amazon.com here.  First of all you get eight films on eight discs, and unlike other directors’ releases, like the superb Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros., this edition includes a bundle of great extras on several of the discs.  These films have been released singly and you may already have the best available editions of films like Jaws.   But if you don’t this may be the time to catch up your video library.

Steven Spielberg Director's Collection

You get Spielberg’s first film, actually a TV movie, the suspenseful Duel (1971), featuring Dennis Weaver (Dragnet, Gunsmoke) being pursued by a psychotic truck driver.  It’s the ultimate road rage movie well before the term was even coined.  It includes “A Conversation with Director Steven Spielberg,” “Steven Spielberg and the Small Screen,” “Richard Matheson: The Writing of Duel,” a photograph and poster gallery and the original trailer.

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Ghost and Mrs Muir A

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

It’s no secret that here at borg.com, we’re big fans of Halloween.  And there’s nothing I like better than a great ghost story.  But if creepy and gory aren’t really your thing, TCM is offering up some of the best in lighter-hearted classic haunts tonight as part of its Ghost Story Thursdays month-long series.

Included in our epic round-up of this year’s Halloween movies on TV, tonight’s two classics feature some of our favorite performers in roles you might have missed–but should be sure to catch as they air back-to-back.  And if tonight happens to be Date Night at your house, you might choose to stay in and snuggle up on the couch, because these two films also feature some of our favorite on-screen romances.

Portrait of Jennie original movie poster   Ghost and Mrs Muir original movie poster

First up at 7:00 p.m. Central is 1948’s Portrait of Jennie, starring Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane, Shadow of a Doubt) and Jennifer Jones (Song of Bernadette, Duel in the Sun), with a masterful performance by Ethel Barrymore.  Cotten and Jones play star-crossed lovers whose sweet romance bridges time, death, and logic.  Cotten plays Eben Adams, a down-on-his-luck artist in the Depression, whose life is changed forever when he meets a young girl in Central Park.  The mysterious and beguiling Jennie becomes his muse, infusing his artwork with passion and talent.  But who is she?  Jennie has a secret, and her haunting story will consume Eben, until both lovers are driven to extremes in their quest to be together.

If you’re already a fan of the film, you’ll enjoy TCM’s write-up about it here–but it’s full of spoilers, so wait until you’ve seen it.  Based on the novel by Robert Nathan, Portrait of Jennie, with its haunting heroine and epic romance, could easily have been dark and gothic, but it’s actually anything but.  There’s just enough ghostly mystery to keep the Halloween thrill alive, but the overall tone is more sweet than scary.  In fact, this supernatural romance even made our Best Fantasy list.  It’s a must-see.

Portrait of Jennie B

Here is the original trailer for Portrait of Jennie:

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Dale Cooper Twin Peaks

Showtime announced today that the Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winning TV series Twin Peaks will return as a new limited series on Showtime in 2016.  Series creators and executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost will write and produce all nine episodes of the new third season, and Lynch will direct.  Set in the present day, Showtime said the new Twin Peaks will continue the lore of the original, promising “long-awaited answers” and “a satisfying conclusion” for the series’ fan base.  “The mysterious and special world of Twin Peaks is pulling us back.  We’re very excited.  May the forest be with you,” Lynch and Frost said in a joint statement.

Check out the brief YouTube teaser below, after the break.

For the few who missed the original on TV or in reruns or binge DVD marathons, Twin Peaks followed FBI agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, as he investigated the bizarre background behind the death of high school girl Laura Palmer.  It’s the “bizarre” that became the signature for the series, and its first season was as good as TV gets.  However, the slow resolution of multiple twists lost many viewers and ABC cancelled the series after two seasons.  Like The X-Files and Firefly, a loyal fan base pulled Hollywood into making a follow-up big screen feature, but it was even more indecipherable than the end of the TV series.

Dale Cooper and Audrey on Twin Peaks

Yet many fans couldn’t get enough.  That first season pulled in lifetime fans.  Remember college watching parties with Cooper’s trademark donuts and coffee?  And some of us made our own pilgrimage to Snoqualmie Falls, and the nearby Salish Lodge and town of Fall City, Washington, featured in the opening credits of the series (even making the treacherous hike down to the bottom of the falls)… and we had to buy the creepy tie-in book The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer… and the soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti… and were serenaded to sleep for years by Julee Cruise’s Floating Into The Night CD.  To top it off, 25 years later we’re still hooked on Snoqualmie Falls Lodge pancake mix that we first picked up at the lodge (yep, damn good pancakes).

So what actors are coming back?

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Friday the 13th part 3 3D

The defining film of the 1980s attempt to reignite the 3D medium, the 1982 sequel Friday the 13th, Part 3, represents both the best and the worst in the 3D genre.  It’s a film completely unapologetic about its three-ring circus of 3D gimmicks, yet in providing a hundred ways to throw something at the audience it stands by itself for trying things no other movie has tried.  Want to see an eyeball pop out of someone’s head and come right at you?  This is your movie.  If that doesn’t sound all that appealing, never fear, this is 1980s horror, so there is more to laugh at than truly be grossed out.

But let’s talk about the current options first.  You can watch Friday the 13th, Part 3 a few different ways.  As part of its October Halloween schedule (previewed at borg.com here) AMC is featuring a few showings of the Friday the 13th movie series October 20-22, 2014, including showings of Part 3.  You can also pick up a DVD Deluxe Edition version here or updated Blu-ray with features here from Amazon.com.  It’s not available on streaming but is a rental option from Netflix.  Certain versions, like the Deluxe Edition, come with a blue-red 3D glasses and the standard 2D version.  For this review we chose the standard version with the 3D TV upconvert option with Extreme 3D.

Friday the 13th Part 3 film poster

For some perspective, the film came out in the year of classic hits like E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Tron, Poltergeist, The Dark Crystal, Blade Runner, The Thing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Friday the 13th, Part 3 begins with a complete recap of the climax of the prior sequel.  The disfigured Jason Voorhees, who we actually get to see in this film, returns to Crystal Lake, to torment young camp counselor Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell), one of his targets who slipped away years ago.

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Monumental architecture by Ridley Scott

Ripley as an Egyptian Queen.  Gandhi as Moses’ minister.  And Ridley Scott directing it all.

Ridley Scott has much more source material to work from in his new Exodus: Gods and Kings, than Darren Aronofsky had with his take on the great flood in his Noah movie earlier this year.  And it must be great fun to explore a plague of locusts and a parting sea for a veteran of films like Blade Runner and Alien.

The last time someone tried to take all this on with the scope the new Exodus film appears to explore was nearly 60 years ago with Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.  That perennial Easter favorite made good use of its then-current technology to illustrate some great bible story scenes, but with all the CGI available today, Ridley Scott better pull out all the stops or his epic Bible film will fall flat like Aronofsky’s effort.

It’s unfortunate Exodus: Gods and Kings has one of those direct-to-video titles.  Who signed off on such a poor title?  Why not just Exodus?

Exodus Gods Kings poster A   Exodus Gods Kings Bale poster B

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plaza c

Humans gravitate toward benchmarks.  Anniversaries and events that end in zero, like 50th anniversaries.  Turning 20.  They like superlatives.  The biggest.  The best.  The fastest.  The youngest.  The oldest.  It’s human nature.

You never know what’s going to happen to you in a given day.  Maybe you meet someone new.  Maybe you work on a new project you hadn’t contemplated before.  Or, if you’re lucky, you wander into a new town and stumble upon something new.  Or something old.

It could be in any town in any city, but it just happens to be in a town you hadn’t planned on visiting, on a side jaunt along the way to someplace unrelated to where you now find yourself, staring up at an old building with a marquee.  A movie theater like any other old movie theater on any other main street across the Midwestern United States, that dot towns here and there.  Yet this one makes a surprising assertion.  This one claims to be the oldest.  If you find yourself in front of a theater like that, then you must be in Ottawa, Kansas, a quaint town about a half an hour’s drive south of Kansas City.

And like a trip to The Twilight Zone, the next thing you know you’ve paid the price of your ticket and you’re sitting alone in a movie theater, soaking up that old familiar place that smells like popcorn and feels like home.  You marvel at the gray metal 1930s art deco ceiling lights, the tall vintage curtains, and find yourself watching a film from 1903 that played in this very town in its opening months 109 years ago, then viewed by a crowd of turn of the century townsfolk from a very different turn of the century.  Like you, they were watching this movie for the first time, only they were watching it as the first movie they’d ever seen.

plaza a

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