Category: Retro Fix


Muppets-Haunted-Mansion gonzo

The ninth big-screen film starring Jim Henson′s wacky, warm, and wonderful Muppets is coming direct to your home next month, and bonus–at last we have a Muppets Halloween movie.  Disney+ released the trailer for Muppets Haunted Mansion, and it looks like a combination of the great, pre-Disney classic movies like The Muppet Christmas Carol–complete with ghost Muppets (or are they Muppet ghosts?), and best of all Disney tapped some original performers, including the legendary Dave Goelz (back as Gonzo, Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, and more), and the brilliant Bill Barretta (back as Pepe, Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, and more) and David Rudman (Scooter, Janice, Beaker, and more), plus hundreds of creative production staff.  Muppets Haunted Mansion is directed by Kirk R. Thatcher, who was behind the scenes on major genre hits like Gremlins, Poltergeist, Return of the Jedi, Star Trek III, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Robocop 2, and you probably saw him in front of the camera at least once, like when he played the guy on the San Francisco bus blaring his stereo–the one who Spock puts out of commission–in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  And the human leading the show, as the Muppets’ host in a haunted house they must stay in overnight, is the smartly cast funnyman Will Arnett (The Lego Batman Movie).

Check out the trailer below.

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Merry Christmas!

If The Muppet Christmas Carol (reviewed five years ago here at borg), is a favorite for your family as it is for many, you may have a new item for your wish list.  What many consider the most spirited and faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on film is also available in a storybook edition.  Adapted by Brooke Vitale with illustrations by Luke Flowers, The Muppet Christmas Carol: The Illustrated Holiday Classic features an abridged version of the movie in a large, full-color hardcover edition for kids of all ages.

Check out a look inside the book courtesy of Insight Kids:

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The most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational event is heading your way.

It’s been 40 years since The Muppet Show wrapped its now classic five season run back in 1976-1981, with its last episode guest-starring Singing in the Rain star Gene Kelly.  One of the greatest half-hour series of all time and the greatest variety show format series ever is coming to the streaming platform Disney+ later this month.  Everyone who was anyone in the 1970s was a guest on the show, from Vincent Price to Don Knotts, from Cloris Leachman, George Burns, John Cleese and Paul Simon, to Linda Ronstadt and Steve Martin, to Elton John, Julie Andrews, Gilda Radner, Shirley Bassey, Peter Sellers, Debbie Harry, Rita Moreno, and Madeline Kahn, to Roy Rogers, Dudley Moore, James Coburn, Roger Moore, Sylvester Stallone, Lynda Carter, Milton Berle, Christopher Reeve, Bernadette Peters, Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, Diana Ross, Johnny Cash, Harvey Korman, Carol Burnett, Dizzy Gillespie, Alice Cooper, and even the cast of Star Wars–more than 100 guest stars in all, and from every single corner of music, TV, and film.  The show won four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Grammy (one of our favorite subjects–check out more about The Muppets here).  Behind the scenes (and under the table and behind the curtain) it was Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Louise Gold, Kathryn Mullen, and Steve Whitemire working the real magic.

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We watched them get the band back together the first time with Muppet Guys Talking, a fun documentary we discussed two years ago here at borg.  Now not even sheltering at home will hold back the fun-loving Muppet Guys, who are returning once again to share some more about Muppet creator Jim Henson, and the incredible creative process and their experience as Muppet performers, all while earning some money for front-line COVID-19 workers.  Part in honor of Jim Henson, who passed away 30 years ago, and part reason to get some of our favorite people back together virtually, it’s all happening this Saturday, and everyone is invited.

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A reminder for fans of fantasy, comedic actors, Jim Henson, and his beloved Muppets:  Celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Muppet Movie, Fathom Events is partnering with The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures to show the classic big-screen debut of the Muppets on more than 700 screens nationwide for two days, beginning tomorrow.  Order tickets now before they sell out at the Fathom Events website here.

For two days only, The Muppet Movie returns with screenings on Thursday, July 25, and Tuesday, July 30.  The Muppet Movie will play at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. (local time) each day.  Following the international success of the television show The Muppet Show, which at its peak aired in more than 100 countries, Muppets creator Jim Henson took a creative risk to have the characters star in their first motion picture.  The result, directed by James Frawley, became a box-office hit, starring Kermit (performed by Henson), Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear (performed by Frank Oz), Gonzo (performed by Dave Goelz) and his chicken Camilla (performed by Jerry Nelson), Scooter (performed by Richard Hunt), and dozens of other favorite characters.

In addition to the Muppet performers, The Muppet Movie showcased a Who’s Who of 1970s comedy, with cameo roles by Dom DeLuise, James Coburn, Madeline Kahn, Carol Kane, Telly Savalas, Milton Berle, Elliott Gould, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Cloris Leachman, and Orson Welles.

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Fraggle Rock BANNER

To celebrate 35 years of the Jim Henson fantasy TV series Fraggle Rock, Insight Editions is taking a look behind the scenes of the show in Fraggle Rock: The Ultimate Visual History.  It follows in the footsteps of three previous chronicles of Jim Henson’s creations, and his family’s prequel series, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Labyrinth: the Ultimate Visual History, and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance–Inside the Epic Return to Thra.  Take a look at a preview of Fraggle Rock: The Ultimate Visual History below.

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Seven years ago the writers at borg came up with our top ten favorite fantasy movies (take a look at my list here).  I’m happy to see that my list hasn’t changed much.  Two of my top ten fantasy movies are returning to theaters nationwide for limited showings.  First, Field of Dreams (my #6 favorite), is back next week, followed in July by The Muppet Movie (my #3 favorite).  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Field of Dreams will be in theaters for Fathers’ Day, an opportunity to share the ultimate story of believing in yourself and trusting your instincts with a new generation.  It’s scheduled to appear at more than 600 theaters.  Then celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Muppet Movie, Fathom Events is partnering with The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures to show the classic big-screen debut of the Muppets on more than 700 screens nationwide.

Fathom Events joins Universal Pictures and Turner Classic Movies to bring Field of Dreams to theaters Sunday, June 16, for showings at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. local time, and Tuesday, June 18, at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time.  Director Phil Alden Robinson′s re-write of W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe (reviewed here at borg), features three of cinema’s most fantastic characters coming together: reclusive author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), baseball player Archibald “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley) and “Shoeless Joe” Jackson (Ray Liotta).  It was nominated for six–and made three–of the American Film Institute’s lists of the top American films of all time, including being named the all-time #6 top fantasy film.

For two days only this July, The Muppet Movie returns with screenings on Thursday, July 25, and Tuesday, July 30.  The Muppet Movie will play at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. (local time) each day.  Following the international success of the television show The Muppet Show, which at its peak aired in more than 100 countries, Muppets creator Jim Henson took a creative risk to have the characters star in their first motion picture.  The result, directed by James Frawley, became a box-office hit, starring Kermit (performed by Henson), Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear (performed by Frank Oz), Gonzo (performed by Dave Goelz) and his chicken Camilla (performed by Jerry Nelson), Scooter (performed by Richard Hunt), and dozens of other favorite characters.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Thanks to Fathom Events and other film retrospectives over the years, movie audiences can revisit their first viewings of some of the best films ever made.  In that league comes The Muppet Movie, which just wrapped its 40th anniversary with two days of screenings.  Like the one-of-a-kind The Beach Boys and The Bee Gees, and the symbols of goodness everywhere: Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, and Steve Irwin, The Muppets are a truly unique team, and Jim Henson and his $65 million box office hit The Muppet Movie reflects why they created the word “iconic” in the first place.  It says something when a retrospective anniversary screening can make the week’s Top 10 box office after 40 years.  The Muppets are as accessible and necessary as they’ve ever been.

Paul Williams’ musical score and powerful songs might be the high point of the movie, from “The Rainbow Connection,” to “Movin’ Right Along,” to Gonzo’s emotional “I’m Going to Go Back There Again.”  Or maybe it’s the magic, the forgetting we’re absorbed in characters played by actors that are a frog and a pig and a bear and a dog and whatever Gonzo is.  Or maybe it’s the behind the scenes magic.  Filming in the lagoon once used for Gilligan’s Island, Henson spent an entire day perfecting the scene with Kermit singing in a wetsuit under water, perched inside a metal tank, reaching upward to give Kermit his character.  You wouldn’t know any of it happened that way from the perfectly still water and multiple angles the song is filmed from.  Or that Kermit was operated my remote control for the Schwinn scene (but Kermit the Muppet really was riding that bicycle, no strings attached!).  Jim Henson can’t be overstated as sitting among the kings of creating the fantastical.

But even all of those great components can’t beat the storytelling.  Full of honesty and heart, Kermit’s path is a classic reluctant hero’s journey, equal to that of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Luke in Star Wars, Frodo and Bilbo in Tolkien’s stories (Fozzie is a great Samwise), Harry in J.K. Rowling’s series.  Here our green felted friend assembles a group of new friends to help him succeed by story’s end.  The Muppets had already been known to us through The Muppet Show, yet this movie succeeded in getting audiences to meet them all over again.  The story is playful, too, allowing its own script to become a plot device with the characters.

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Gentle Giant leads the way again with the next exclusive for the at-home edition of San Diego Comic-Con 2020 (since the actual event cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic).  It’s the first ever release of The Muppets’ Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem in action figure form reunited on stage (cardboard) in The Muppets–Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem Deluxe Box Set 2020 SDCC Exclusive.  You get Dr. Teeth on piano, Floyd Pepper on bass, Janice on guitar, Zoot on sax, and Animal on drums in deluxe show-stage packaging, a three-tiered window box with a protective fifth-panel door.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The beginning of a new film references the scope of the success of the Muppets: In 1978 the Muppets were seen weekly by more than 235 million people in more than 102 countries, and Time Magazine called them “the most popular entertainment on Earth.”  Created by Jim Henson in 1955 and starring in Sesame Street, in feature films, and in animated films, the Muppets endure to this day.  Regularly returning on television and in movies, they continue to entertain and educate young and old alike.  Frank Oz, the creator and actor behind Sesame Street and The Muppet Show’s Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Cookie Monster, Grover, Animal, and Sam the Eagle, Aughra and Chamberlain in The Dark Crystal, and the performer and voice of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (and director of countless other films), has produced and directed a new film with four other original Muppet performers to recount the development–and fun–of working in their timeless fantasy world.

Feeling like an informal dinner party among old friends, but even more like the first hour of a 12-part series, Muppet Guys Talking–Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched, is a wonderful, cheery glimpse at life working with Jim Henson, who Emmy-winning performer Frank Oz says “wanted to make a better world.”  Originally premiering at last year’s South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas, the film will be available for fans everywhere for the first time next week at MuppetGuysTalking.comFrank Oz brings together Emmy-winner Jerry Nelson, creator and performer of Count von Count, Snuffleupagus, Lew Zealand, Statler, Floyd, and Gobo Fraggle; Emmy-winner Dave Goelz, creator and performer of The Great Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, and Fizzgig from The Dark Crystal; Emmy-winner Fran Brill, creator and performer of Prairie Dawn, Zoe, Little Bird, Betty Lou, and The Land of Gorch’s Vazh; and Bill Barretta, BTVA Award-winning creator and performer of Pepe the King Prawn, Johnny Fiama, Bobo the Bear, and Big Mean Carl.  Along with providing insight into Muppet mastermind Jim Henson, the “Muppet Guys” provide some advice on creating characters that will be worthwhile to creators in many media, as well as offering a great peek into the job of performing with puppetry.  The most difficult part?  Yep, holding your arms over your head inside the Muppets for a very long time.

From John Denver and the Muppets Rocky Mountain Holiday.  You don’t see the dozen human performers underneath the ground working the Muppets and speaking their lines.

Oz and Goelz recount major difficulties in the craft, like building a hole in the ground around a bonfire with a propane tank near their heads, so they could stand and perform their characters sitting around a real campfire above, as filmed for the famous John Denver Rocky Mountain Holiday TV special and album.  They also discuss Henson performing the risky opening scene of The Muppet Movie, stuffed inside a tube submerged in a backlot, underwater stage swamp with a small TV monitor and his arms above his head to perform Kermit singing and playing banjo on “The Rainbow Connection.”  The discussions among these friends are fun to watch, and the viewers will feel like they are a part of the room.  And viewers can’t help but listen for the performers slipping in and out of various voices–like the sound of Grover and Cookie Monster from Oz a few times when he gets animated or is laughing.  The most valuable bits center around what seems to be a shared tool among the performers–Oz developed a thorough backstory for each of his characters that never makes it beyond his own mind, to assist with his performance (like method acting).

Other highlights include Dave Goelz recounting how he got into the business when he was a young aspiring puppeteer working an office job at Hewlett-Packard, Bill Barretta discussing his inspiration for the King Prawn character Pepe, Fran Brill discussing her fix for performing while not being as tall as the others, and Jerry Nelson coming up with the voice of Snuffleupagus and discussing the late performer Richie Hunt (who performed characters including Scooter, Beaker, Statler, Janice and Sweetums).  Sadly documentary contributor Jerry Nelson passed away before the premiere of the documentary at South by Southwest, and the show is dedicated to him.

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