Retro Sci-Fi: Attack Of The 50ft Woman (1958)
Nancy knows what she saw, and is convinced that she is no longer the crazy person she once was, so she flees her adulterous husband and returns to the dessert to find evidence to prove her story. She finds the UFO but its alien pilot uses a strange ray on her and she soon grows to an enormous size.
Wizards (1977): I'm too old for this sort of thing. Just wake me up when the planet's destroyed
Ralph Bakshi had long had an interest in fantasy, and had been drawing fantasy artwork as far back as 1955, while he was still in high school. READ MORE
The Mandalorian ... Spaghetti Western Style
Submitted for your approval, not just one, but two fan made Madalorian trailers ... spaghetti western style:
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (CBS)(1973)
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is an Emmy award-winning animated television special based on the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, directed by Phil Roman and Bill Melendez. It originally aired on CBS on November 20, 1973 and continues to air annually in the United States on a date near to the Thanksgiving holiday. It has aired on ABC since 2001. READ MORE
Everything You Need to Know About She-Hulk
She-Hulk AKA Jennifer Walters is not only a super important Avenger AND member of the Fantastic Four, she is also just exceedingly unique.
Robocop Returns finds a new director
As we all know DISTRICT 9 and CHAPPIE director Neill Blomkamp was working on a direct sequel to Paul Verhoeven's original ROBOCOP flick called ROBOCOP RETURNS. He has since left the film but today we've learned that LITTLE MONSTERS director Abe Forsythe will take over! READ MORE
Is Darth Maul Set To Return In Rise Of Skywalker?
Ray Park is the man behind Darth Maul, and was last seen making a surprise cameo in 2018’s ill-fated spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story. That film left the door open for him to come back again and expand his story, which - as fans of the animated shows will know - did not in fact end when he was ‘killed’ in ...
Throwback Thursday: The Man Who Would Be Hulk
In a surprising turn of events, the pulse regulator implanted inside Bruce Banner worked! And prevented him from turning into the Hulk! However it didn't stop the Hulk's persona from emerging!
Dash has a thing or two to learn in 'Disney/Pixar The Incredibles 2: Slow Burn'
Dash is known for one thing: Speed. From fighting evil to eating breakfast, Dash doesn't do slow, no matter what. However, when a new villain named Slow Burn...
‘Black Widow’ Movie is “Very Raw and Very Painful and Very Beautiful,”
While many details about the plot of Marvel Studios’ upcoming Black Widow movie are still under lock and key, one of its stars is giving us some insight into what to expect – and it sounds like fans are in for an emotional experience.
Okay So Now Han And Greedo Shoot At The Same Time?
As everyone knows the greatest travesty in the world of Star Wars was George Lucas's mind boggling decision to alter Han Solo's confrontation with the bounty hunter Greedo. In the original cut Han Solo blasts the creep before he got the chance.
CBS Releases Air Date For A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
It's almost time to tuck in all the turkey, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce your stomach can fit, and you know what that means... It's also time to waddle over to the TV after you're done eating to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!
Duchovny Wanted The Simpsons To Guest Star On The X-Files
He says, "The Simpsons should have come on our show. I had an idea around the seventh or eighth year and thought we should try a (1988 movie) Roger Rabbit-style episode, where they crossed real folk and animation.
Kikô sôseiki Mospeada (Genesis Climber, Robotech)(1983-84)(Fuji TV)
Scott Bernard would slowly assemble the group of rebels he would need for an assault on the Invid base of operations known as Reflex Point. The group would consist of a couple of cyclone armored renegades, an ex-military mechanic, a orphaned young girl who desperately wanted a husband, and interestingly enough an ex-soldier, ...
Throwback Thursday: Superman Meets "The Phantom Quarterback"
Former Metropolis Meteors star quarterback is walking down the street when he sees a baby falling from a building. He saves the infant, but awakens an old knee injury that he gained during his pro football years.
Hong Kong Phooey is a 30-minute Saturday morning animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and broadcast on ABC from September 7, 1974, to December 21, 1974. The main character, Hong Kong Phooey, is the clownishly clumsy secret identity of Penrod "Penry" Pooch, working at a police station as a "mild-mannered" janitor under the glare of Sergeant Flint, nicknamed "Sarge."
From the very beginning "Star Trek" was something different. Never before had a 'true' sci fi series of it's magnitude been attempted on television. True, there were plenty of sci fi series that proceeded it like "Lost in Space", "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and most notably, "The Twilight Zone", but Trek was in a different class, and the scared the crap out of the suits at NBC.
From the get go NBC wasn't sold on the show, the pilot episode that Gene Roddenberry delivered to the network, 'The Cage', wasn't what he had promised them, a western set in space, but a pure sci fi story. More "Forbidden Planet" than "Wagon Train", and the execs didn't like it. Well, to be honest, they didn't understand it, feeling that the episode was "too cerebral" for your average American TV viewer.
I've started posting over at our store's blog at Atomic Robot Comics and Toys. I think that you will enjoy the new site and the content that's being explored:
The Last Dinosaur (ABC)(1977): From The Land of Forgotten Television
The Last Dinosaur was a 1977 American-Japanese co-production that starred Richard Boone as a tired, over-the-hill big game hunter named Masten Thrust, who goes on one final hunting expedition to kill the greatest predator that ever lived: Tyrannosaurus Rex. The film's title has a dual meaning, referring both to the T-Rex and to Thrust himself, whose breed of great white hunter adventurer is going extinct.
Retro Saturday Morning: The Groovy Goolies (CBS)(1970-72)
Groovie Goolies is an American animated television show that had its original run on network television between 1970 and 1971. Set at a decrepit castle, the show focused on its monstrous inhabitants, who were primarily good-natured. Created by Filmation, Groovie Goolies was a set in the same universe as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Archie Show, with characters that frequently crossed over, but it was an original creation of the studio, not a spinoff from Archie Comics .
New Doctor Who animation to revive classic Patrick Troughton story Fury from the Deep
Sound the cloister bell: A classic Doctor Who story is being resurfaced for fans, over 50 years (!) since it was originally aired.
Be sure to start following our new blog over at Atomic Robot Comics and Toys!
The Paradox at the Heart of Godzilla
From The Atlantic
On Sunday mornings in the 1970s, I was the first in my house to wake up. As soon as I got out of bed, I’d retrieve the thick Sunday edition of the newspaper, pull out the comics section, and then dig for the weekly TV guide. I’d flip to the listing for the following Saturday to see which monster movies would be part of that morning’s “Creature Features.” Any film would’ve thrilled me, but I was always hoping for ones starring the heavy-footed, radioactive behemoth known as Godzilla. Having first debuted in Ishiro Honda’s 1954 film Gojira, the Godzilla I knew was an unpredictable force of destruction. But he could also sometimes be a friend to humanity—a savior in moments of crisis, a mythological titan that danced when he won a battle.
Godzilla movies have typically tried to highlight both of these qualities—often in the same film—with varying degrees of emphasis. Many of the movies in the 1970s were almost comical, featuring kaiju (giant monster) battles that resembled professional wrestling. The films of the mid-’80s through ’90s took on a much darker tone, with Godzilla reemerging as a menace even as he delighted in his fights with other monsters. His power was fearsome, and he couldn’t be controlled or negotiated with. Nevertheless, when a bigger threat to humanity’s survival emerged, Godzilla would rise as our champion. No matter how playful or haunting his movies have been over the decades, this duality—Godzilla as both a terrifying metaphor for mankind’s hubris and a protector capable of almost cosmic benevolence—has always been at the heart of the character.
Hollywood’s latest Godzilla movie, subtitled King of the Monsters, is set to maintain this tension. A sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, the film sees the desperate people of Earth calling upon the creature they’re most afraid of in order to fight an even greater peril. Early trailers presented the destruction wrought as a giddy extravaganza, with actors spitting out punchy one-liners while the world collapses around them. The classic Godzilla movies I grew up with embraced the same sort of approach, taking the giant lizard seriously, but not too seriously.
From SyFy Wire
Reality is often far more terrifying than fiction. As such, horror and science fiction have often looked to real-world anxieties for inspiration.
The U.S. occupation of Japan ended in 1952, but that same year, the first test of a full-scale thermonuclear bomb took place on an island in the Pacific Ocean — at a distance that was probably still too close for Japanese citizens. Still bearing the physical and mental scars of two atomic bombs dropped on their cities in 1945, this 10-megaton H-bomb was 1000 times more powerful than Hiroshima. Two years later, a 15-megaton H-bomb was dropped on Bikini Atoll (a total of 23 explosions were carried out in this area), inadvertently exposing military personnel and Marshall Islanders to high radiation levels.
A Japanese fishing trawler by the name of Daigo Fukuryū Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5) was hit by the nuclear fallout, causing acute radiation syndrome and killing the boat's chief radioman, Aikichi Kuboyama, who succumbed to his injuries six months after the blast. Japanese film producer Tomoyuki Tanaka said this event inspired the monster called Gojira, spawning 35 movies across 65 years, making Godzilla the longest continuously running franchise (as per Guinness World Records).
A fishing boat is destroyed at the start of Godzilla (Gojira), a cinematic version of what happened to the Daigo Fukuryū Maru trawler. Man didn’t do this, but these tests are the reason the monster known as Godzilla has been awakened. Anyone would be grumpy if they had been sleeping peacefully only to be rudely woken up by a thermonuclear device. Godzilla was minding its own business — meanwhile, these tests underscore the arrogance of thinking this much power can be unleashed without consequences. Wartime trauma is a big factor, and this movie doesn’t shy away from the human cost. This isn’t a Marvel or DC movie destroying cities in a sanitized fashion. Instead, it depicts real suffering and human loss.
Godzilla Kingdom Of Monsters #4 June 2011 IDW Publications Grade NM
Cover A by Eric Powell. Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh (w) o Phil Hester (a) o Eric Powell, Jeff Zornow (c) France is in danger when the mysterious egg that washes ashore begins to hatch, but should the military be worried about what's inside the egg or those creepy kids who found it? Also, a community of monks has a religious experience of the 3-headed variety. And all the while, Godzilla seems hell-bent on coming to America...but hasn't Anguirus already claimed it as his turf? Fight! Fight!
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The Best Horror Movie of 1954: Godzilla
From Paste Magazine
The intermingling of horror and science fiction cinema is in full swing here in 1954, as the two genres combine to create some of the features we think of as being most indelibly tied to the imagery of “1950s monster movies.” The most prominent and long-lasting in its appeal and impact is of course Godzilla, given that it’s been receiving sequels for more than 65 years now, including 2019’s King of the Monsters. It’s hard to overstate what a persistent and foundational presence Godzilla has been in both Japanese and American pop culture, informing on some level every other representation of giant monsters in the years that followed.
In the moment, however, there’s little doubt that in the American market, the most immediately influential horror film of the year was Them! This tale of radioactive, giant ants laid the foundation for so many of the “big bug” and “radioactive monster” films that quickly followed that it was practically a complete template for every subsequent offering, from The Deadly Mantis to The Black Scorpion, The Giant Gila Monster and Empire of the Ants. These films weren’t exactly delicate in their nuclear age paranoia, and were less than scientific in their depiction of the effect of radiation on living tissue, but when you really get down to it, there’s nothing here any less realistic than the content of comparable, modern B movies like Birdemic or Geostorm. In any era, there will be audience members who would prefer to be titillated by the fantastically anthropomorphized worst case scenarios of current pop cultural fears, like giant monsters, rather than grapple with the reality of how things like nuclear proliferation or climate change might genuinely mean mankind’s destruction. In 1954, it was simply easier to dismiss a giant ant puppet than it was to dismiss the reality of Kruschev amassing an ever-growing nuclear arsenal. As ever, movies represented a brief respite from such harsh truths.
Other notables from 1954 include Alfred Hitchcock’s relentlessly entertaining, single-location thriller Rear Window, which is certainly horror adjacent but difficult to give the top spot in any kind of proper horror count-down; Gog, which set plenty of the tropes for future “killer robots on the loose” movies such as Chopping Mall; and Creature From the Black Lagoon, the oft-forgotten last proper entry in the original Universal Monsters cycle, filmed in 3D but largely presented in 2D thanks to the gimmick’s popularity fading into obscurity relatively quickly. Although the titular Creature, also referred to as “Gill-Man,” is typically counted among the earlier Universal Monsters, the film itself feels like something of an outlier—a would-be science fiction horror film with hints of an ecological message, hampered by dated tone and structure that feel straight out of the early 1940s. Thanks to the sight of the radiant Julie Adams in her iconic white bathing suit, though, the film has managed to retain a certain vivid place in the collective memories of those who came of age in the 1950s.
The History of Godzilla’s Iconic Roar
Nine years before the release of the 1954 original Godzilla, Akira Ifukube lay in a hospital bed listening to the radio narrate his nation’s surrender to Allied forces, hoping the radiation poisoning wouldn’t kill him. Recent work on reverse-engineering a de Havilland Mosquito for the Japanese military had unknowingly exposed him to dangerous amounts of X-rays, his capillaries literally disintegrating while his team threw their research files onto a bonfire in anticipation of Occupation soldiers. Ifukube had already collapsed to the ground from vomiting blood by the time the Americans arrived. He knew the danger he was in—his brother, Isao, had succumbed to a similar fate only a few years earlier, while researching fluorescent paint usages for the Imperial war effort. Earlier that month, Ifukube had witnessed atomic fire incinerate Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, he listened from his bed as reporters described General MacArthur descending aircraft steps to receive Japan’s terms of surrender. A military band struck up a march, their first notes of Kishi Mai instantly recognizable to the sick man. If the end of the world wasn’t already surreal enough, it was now being soundtracked by one of his own songs.
Born on May 31, 1914, Akira Ifukube is widely considered one of the most well-regarded and prolific composers of modern Japanese classical music and film scores. His revolutionary blend of traditional ainu (Japanese folk) melodies and instrumentation with Western classical theory paved the way for cultural merging and experimentation in the years to come, sort of like a Japanese Philip Glass—although, given their respective eras, it’s more accurate to call Glass an American Ifukube.
A largely self-taught musician, Ifukube worked as a lumber processor in the small sub-prefecture of Akkeshi, which led him to help his government reverse-engineer wooden-framed Allied aircraft like the Mosquito. Despite the radiation sickness’s severity, Ifukube managed to fully recover, and soon returned to his music while teaching at the Tokyo University of the Arts. For the next few years, Ifukube continued to expand the boundaries of classical music in his own work while simultaneously composing original movie scores for a lucrative, reemerging Japanese film industry.
The three brothers, Godzilla, Minira and Little, are working hard today to train for a great monster!
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11 Fun Facts About Them!
From Mental Floss
In the 1950s, Elvis was king, hula hooping was all the rage, and movie screens across America were overrun with giant arthropods. Back then, Tarantula (1955), The Deadly Mantis (1957), and other “big bug” films starring colossal insects or arachnids enjoyed a surprising amount of popularity. What kicked off this creepy-crawly craze? An eerie blockbuster whose impossible premise reflected widespread anxieties about the emerging atomic age. Grab a Geiger counter and let’s explore 1954's Them!.
When World War II broke out, the knowledge Ted Sherdeman had gained from his career as a radio producer was put to good use by Uncle Sam, landing him a position as a radio communications advisor to General MacArthur. However, the fiery conclusion of the war left Sherdeman with a lifelong disdain for nuclear weapons. In an interview he revealed that upon hearing about the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, he “just went over to the curb and started to throw up."
Shifting his focus from radio to motion pictures, Sherdeman later joined Warned Bros. as a staff producer. One day he was given a screenplay that really made his eyes bug out. George Worthing Yates, best known for his work on the Lone Ranger serials, had decided to take a stab at science fiction and penned an original script about giant, irradiated ants attacking New York City. "The idea appealed to me very much,” Sherdeman told Cinefantastique, "because, aside from man, ants are the only creatures in the world that plan to wage war, and nobody trusted the atomic bomb at that time.” (His statement about animal combat is debatable: chimpanzee gangs will also take organized, warlike measures in order to annex their rivals’ territories.)
HOW THEM! AND THE ATOMIC INSECT MOVIES OF THE '50S CHANGED HOLLYWOOD FOREVER
From SyFy Wire
The '50s were a tumultuous time for Hollywood: the studio system that had built the film industry was on its last legs, the traditional double feature was going the way of the dinosaur, and the rise of drive-ins, television, and Cold War paranoia were changing audience demands. This was, in many ways, the first real challenge faced by the motion picture industry; with so much shifting and uncertain, how, exactly, were moviemakers supposed to adapt?
With giants bugs and flamethrowers, obviously.
While it may not seem it on the surface, Them!, a 1954 opus about atomic ants terrorizing the southwest, was a watershed moment in film history, and it changed what science fiction could be going forward.
But first, the past: As impossible as it might seem right now, the early years of the motion picture industry were not particularly kind to sci-fi, the successes of Flash Gordon and Superman serials notwithstanding. The genre's luck only began to turn in the early 1950s, with, perhaps fittingly, the mutation of the B-movie.
Adventures Into The Unkown #152 (1948 Series) - November 1964 - ACG Comics
Kurt Schaffenberger cover.
The Gravy Train!" (script by Richard Hughes as "Kurato Osaki," art by Johnny Craig); "Suspicious People!" (script by Hughes as "Zev Zimmer," art by George Wilhelms); "The Ghostly Patrol!" (script by Pierce Rand, art by Hy Eisman); and "Lucky Shield!" One-page Herbie strip/ad, "This is Herbie" (art by Ogden Whitney).
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4 of the Best Horror Movies featuring Ants
From Sci-Fi Monkeys
Insects play a vital role in the ecosystem. Ants play an essential role in horror and sci-fi films: to terrify audiences. Ants are everywhere. In fact, ants are the most common residential pest in the US. Once these insects find their way into your home, they search out a food source. Upon finding one, ants won’t leave. Although tiny, ants can be scary looking. Tales of their incredible strength and, in some parts of the world, poisonous bite, frightens people. Is it any surprise that marauding ants star in cult movies?
The notorious poster for Phase IV (1974) depicts a dying hand with an ant crawling through a gaping hole in the palm. And this was a PG-rated film. The movie’s title refers to the “cosmic event” that kicked in evolutionary processes in ants. The insects become smart and more resilient. Strangely, the ants are creating geometric objects in the desert. When a scientific team goes to investigate, they discover the ants possess advanced intelligence and even more aggression. An investigative team out to study the ants finds itself facing the wrath of the ants.
Them! (1954) stands as an all-time classic science-fiction film. The New Mexico desert provides the setting for the film, a movie featuring gigantic, 8-foot ants. The ants mutated due to nuclear tests in the desert. Them! packs a powerful impact not only due to the terrifying look of the monstrous ants but also from the feature’s themes. Them! serves as a metaphor for the incredible dangers of nuclear weapons.
Horror Through the Decades Presents: THEM! (1954)
The ’50s was the apex of what are sometimes referred to as “Creature Features.” Films that were wildly successful at drive-in and movie theaters across the U.S. containing weird monsters wreaking havoc over the population that are nearly uncontrollable. Creature From The Black Lagoon, Godzilla, The Blob, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and many, many more graced the screens of theaters across America throughout the 1950s. Of course, the world’s fascination with renegades of nature bringing destruction, or man’s interference with nature bringing about unnatural things, is a tale as old as industrial civilization itself.
THEM! was made nine years after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War 2. George Worthing Yates (It Came From Beneath The Sea, Attack of the Puppet People) who wrote the original treatment from which the screenplay was adapted, in addition to screenwriters Ted Sherdeman (Men Into Space, Latitude Zero) and Russell Hughes (Jubal, Playhouse 90) have a very clear bias against the use of nuclear weapons, which was not the attitude amongst most of the general public.
The writers and the director, Gordon Douglas (Fortunes of Captain Blood) are not subtle about their distaste for nuclear warfare. The message may appear to be a bit heavy-handed. However, at the time, due to the fact that the cold war had really risen into the public consciousness a few years prior, and the fear of nuclear war with the USSR was constant, the subject matter is completely relevant to the sociopolitical landscape of the era in which it was released. The reason I mention this is that the “them” in THEM! are giant eight-feet-high ants. The way that they became as large as they are is because they were born close to White Sands, New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was dropped in a test prior to its use in WWII.
Them! (1954)(Warner Bros)
5 Most Awesome Giant Monster Movies From 'Big Ass Spider!' Director Mike Mendez!
The Monstrous Movie Quote Of The Day: Dr. Harold Medford (THEM! 1954)
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms: They couldn't believe their eyes! They couldn't escape the terror! And neither will you!
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms: They couldn't believe their eyes! They couldn't escape the terror! And neither will you!
Before ‘Godzilla’ There Was ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms’
From Film School Rejects
Do you remember your first dinosaur? The Jurassic Park T-rex? The titular Brontosaurus from Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend? The Valley of Gwangi‘s eponymous Allosaurus? I can’t name mine. They’ve always been with me. I was born, and they were there, haunting every childish thought that wasn’t devoted to Star Wars. The knowledge that there was a lost race of gargantuan reptiles that rampaged across our planet 243 million years ago (give or take a Wikipedia edit) was as stupendous as much as it was traumatizing.
You’re telling me that there was this gargantuan Argentinosaurus that stumbled about Earth, snacking on trees, and now it’s absolutely, totally, utterly gone? Does that mean humanity could one day be gone? No way! Their extinction hinted at my extinction and my compulsion to memorize every genus was a hope that one day some unknown entity would return the favor to my family and me. Devoting myself to dinosaur literature, comics, and cinema was a pledge to a forgotten society. I was not alone in this endeavor. Dino-fiction is a passion for hundreds of artists, and their work gave me the hope that there would be others to chronicle my legend one day.
A-bomb panic rapidly hatched dozens upon dozens of b movie monsters, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was the créme de la mer. Based loosely on the Ray Bradbury short story of the same name (later to be retitled “The Fog Horn”), the basic gist concerns the catastrophic release of a prehistoric fictional Rhedosaurus after a nuclear warhead explodes during a test on the Arctic circle. The beast awakens from a historic hunger ready to feast on fishing boats and lighthouses, making his way to the all-you-can-eat buffet that is New York City. Scientists and soldiers must battle their contradictory philosophies and hash a plan that ends the Rhedosaurus’ berserker frenzy in the middle of an amusement park.
From City Pages
Crafted by FX pioneer Willis O’Brien, the titular character in 1933’s King Kong embodies the enduring appeal of stop-motion animation, a rudimentary but revered cinematic craft in which inanimate objects are adjusted ever-so-slightly between frames to create the illusion of movement. In utilizing the technique, director Merian C. Cooper not only populated an entire island with supersized beasts, but imbued Kong with a wide emotional range. Inspired by O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen took stop-motion methods even further, cleverly transposing his strikingly designed dinosaurs and mythological terrors into action-packed sequences, as memorably displayed in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958). Showing that stop-motion techniques still had teeth, director Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978) even manages to make time amid the frenzied feeding of genetically modified killer fish to showcase an animated mutation, courtesy of Phil Tippett, whose adorable ugliness serves as yet another fine tribute to an indelible form of cinematic artistry.
A Tribute to the Legendary Ray Harryhausen: Master of Illusion
The most honest magicians never use the word “magic” – they’re illusionists; they make believable that which can’t possibly be, and that’s what Harryhausen was: a master illusionist who made us believe that his table-top constructions of fabric and clay and metal were massive, mighty creatures out of legend, out of fantasy, out of our nightmares. He was a master of stop-motion animation; moving his creations a fraction of an inch per frame to create the illusion of flying saucers toppling the Washington Monument (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, 1956), a tremendous octopus threatening the Golden Gate Bridge (It Came from Beneath the Sea, 1955), or an impossible prehistory of cavemen battling dinosaurs (One Million Years B.C., 1966). When he passed, a generation of filmmakers who’d grown up watching his work at movie house matinees and Saturday night monster movie TV slots saluted him, acknowledging how his work had inspired them. We’re talking the likes of James Cameron and Tim Burton. George Lucas said, “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars.”
Born, fittingly enough, in the movie capital of the world – Los Angeles – Harryhausen became enamored of the possibilities of stop-motion when he was just a 13-year-old kid, sitting enthralled through King Kong (1933) over and over. Harryhausen reached out to the genius behind Kong, the legendary stop-motion pioneer Willis O’Brien, and eventually found work as O’Brien’s technician on Mighty Joe Young (1949).
Harryhausen had already been experimenting at home with stop-motion, but possibly one of the greatest lessons he learned from his apprenticeship with O’Brien was that it took more than good animation techniques to bring their little creatures to life; they had to have character.
Famous Monsters of Filmland #50 July 1968 Warren Publishing Grade VF
Basil Gorgo cover.
What makes this issue cool:
Feature on the giant bug epic Tarantula. The Bela Lugosi horror "Devil Bat". A feature on makeup artist Ben Nye who created Hollywood's best B-movie monster makeup. Cover Story: Gorgo The Gargantuan. The British finally got into the giant monster movie business in the early 1960s. Why let the Japanese and American chaps have all the fun. The Basil Gogos cover painting of Gorgo is reprinted from issue #11. "Horror of Dracula" comic book feature.
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11 Deep Facts About The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms
From Mental Floss
In 1953, horror fans watched with glee as a giant, city-stomping reptile arose from the depths of the ocean. And no, its name wasn’t “Godzilla.” This particular brute was called the Rhedosaurus, and it was introduced to the world in one of the most influential science fiction films ever made: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.
The film was a monster at the box office, too, ushering in the “creature feature” craze that gripped the 1950s. Furthermore, the film heralded the arrival of special effects visionary Ray Harryhausen, whose mesmerizing handiwork changed an entire industry forever. Grab your scuba gear and let’s pay tribute to the colossal classic.
It all started with a roar. One night, while he was living near Santa Monica Bay, legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury was awakened from his sleep by a blaring foghorn. Moved by the mournful bellow, he quickly got to work on a short story about a lovelorn sea monster. Called The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (later retitled The Foghorn), it was published in The Saturday Evening Post on June 23, 1951.
BC’s Tales of the Pacific | ‘The Fog Horn,’ part 1
Out there in the cold water, far from land, we waited every night for the coming of the fog, and it came, and we oiled the brass machinery and lit the fog light up in the stone tower. Feeling like two birds in the gray sky, McDunn and I sent the light touching out, red, then white, then red again, to eye the lonely ships. And if they did not see our light, then there was always our Voice, the great deep cry of our Fog Horn shuddering through the rags of mist to startle the gulls away like decks of scattered cards and make the waves turn high and foam. “It’s a lonely life, but you’re used to it now, aren’t you?” asked McDunn.
“Yes,” I said. “You’re a good talker, thank the Lord.”
“Well, it’s your turn on land tomorrow,” he said, smiling, “to dance the ladies and drink gin.”
“What do you think, McDunn, when I leave you out here alone?”
“On the mysteries of the sea.” McDunn lit his pipe. It was a quarter past seven of a cold November evening, the heat on, the light switching its tail in two hundred directions, the Fog Horn bumbling in the high throat of the tower. There wasn’t a town for a hundred miles down the coast, just a road which came lonely through dead country to the sea, with few cars on it, a stretch of two miles of cold water out to our rock, and rare few ships.
“The mysteries of the sea’ said McDunn thoughtfully.”You know, the ocean’s the biggest damned snowflake ever? It rolls and swells a thousand shapes and colors, no two alike. Strange. One night, years ago, I was here alone, when all the fish of the sea surfaced out there. Something made them swim in and lie in the bay, sort of trembling and staring up at the tower light going red, white, red, white across them so I could see their funny eyes. I fumed cold. They were like a big peacock’s tail, moving out there until midnight. Then, without so much as a sound, they slipped away, the million of them was gone. I kind of think maybe, in some sort of way, they came all those miles to worship. Strange. But think how the tower must look to them, standing seventy feet above the water, the God-light flashing out from it, and the tower declaring itself with a monster voice. They never came back, those fish, but don’t you think for a while they thought they were in the Presence?”
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The Mummy: Stranger than "Dracula" ... More fantastic than "Frankenstein" ... More mysterious than "The Invisible Man"
THE MUMMY (1932) STILL LOOMS OVER THE LANDSCAPE OF MONSTER MOVIES
From Audiences Everywhere
The Mummy has always been there. Like the best monsters, this creature is omnipresent and unsettling. This is how I felt when finally sitting down to watch the original 1932 version of this Universal creature. The Mummy, along with other seminal creatures, like Dracula and Frankenstein, is something you know even before you have seen it. Whether it was from Saturday Morning Cartoons like Scooby-Doo or dime store Halloween costumes, the Mummy is an absolute fixture. My own personal introduction, strangely, was in a comedy I watched with my father, Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy. Of course, there have been the remakes, whether it be this weekend’s Tom Cruise/Sofia Boutella action spectacular or the Indiana Jones inspired action adventure starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. These remakes seem to take a lot of inspiration from the love story of Imhotep and Ankh-es-en-Amon and add many minutes to the runtime in the form of special effects and action sequences.
And even though it is a story that has been retold, the original Mummy is not what you might expect. It is not a typical monster movie, nor is it genuinely frightening, at least to modern viewers. More than anything, The Mummy is a romance that spans literal centuries. It is also clearly a reaction to the mania surrounding ancient Egypt at the time. From a cinema standpoint, it is a strange (and short) film with some tremendous bookends. The opening sequence could teach contemporary directors and cinematographers a great deal about building tension by subtle camera moments and not giving in to the gotcha moment. Karl Freund, directing his first film (although, he was the cinematographer of Dracula), takes the prologue, which amounts to a solid chunk of the film, and teases us with shots of the mummy just out of frame and relying purely on the supporting characters reaction to him to carry the moment. This is a departure from many films of the time, which were inspired by the theater and kept the camera static and let the drama unfold in front of the audience. Freund’s decision is one that not many directors of any era would make and it succeeds in keeping us on the edge of our seats. The other bookend is, of course, the destruction of our villain (or is he?). This is led up to by another wonderful directorial choice to show us his past in a reflective pool which looks almost like another screen for the audience, as well as Ankh-es-en-Amon, to look through.
But what about the middle? Well, that will be much harder to grasp for modern audiences. Our romantic leads, played by Zita Johann and David Manners, are pretty standard melodrama stand-ins. It’s not that their romance does not work, it is that it is dwarfed (physically and metaphorically) by the love that Imhotep carries for her other self, that of Ankh-es-an-Amon. So, it’s not so much that these actors are terrible, but rather that Boris Karloff is a giant in the industry and completely owns every scene in which he appears. This is so true that any moment he is not on screen, the mind tends to wander towards what he could be doing in the interim. In that middle, there are some other wonderful moments of gleeful villainy from Imhotep. He quite literally looms over the action through his reflective pool and terrifying powers. As in any good monster movie, no character feels safe, even when he is not physically present. The efficiency with which this is accomplished is particularly impressive. Imhotep is a deeply flawed, but complete character. We understand his reasoning, even as his actions become more despicable. This, along with Karloff’s performance help us empathize with him, maybe even too much. The film may be designed for us to also root for the two new lovers, but many audiences found themselves fully in the camp of Karloff and the mummy.
Classic Horror Origins: The Mummy
The modern horror film can trace its roots back to the experimentation of German expressionist filmmaking in the second decade of the 20th century. The country’s filmmakers were especially influenced by the breakout of WWI in 1916. During the war, Berlin became isolated, and there was increased demand for locally produced films. A depressed national sentiment associated with the war as well the resulting sociological and economic impact on domestic life resulted in films that depicted human psychological distress, darkness, and surrealism. The birth of the horror genre came from the rejection of the romantic themes typically found in films of the time period. While there had been films with horror tendencies and plots made previously, it was the influence of these German expressionist filmmakers which helped to spark interest in the genre moving forward.
These German expressionist films may not be necessarily well-known today, but they were a major influence on Hollywood’s first major foray into horror, which helped to establish the genre in the mainstream. Starting with 1923’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Universal Studios began what would later become an entire franchise devoted to darker, more sinister storylines (even if they had comical tones, at times). Today known as the Universal Classic Monsters, these films centered around fictional monsters, many of which had recurring roles over several films. Universal’s Classic Monsters franchise introduced American audiences to horror for the first time, and would help to establish many traits of the genre we recognize today. This month we are investigating the most prolific Universal Classic Monsters, reviewing their on and off-screen origins, and most memorable films. Today, we look at The Mummy!
Unlike Frankenstein’s monster or Count Dracula, The Mummy was a character created specifically for film. However, the famous monster was inspired by a number of real-life events. The popularity and success of Universal Studios’ Dracula and Frankenstein films pushed the producers to find new characters for additional films. In 1922, archeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of the ancient egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, more commonly known as King Tut. This discovery and opening of the tomb was well-publicized at the time, and it sparked world-wide interest in ancient Egypt when mysterious happenings began occurring shortly after. On the day Carter opened the tomb, it was reported that he sent a boy on an errand at his residence, and the boy found a cobra had eaten Carter’s pet Canary. The Cobra was used as a representation of the Egyptian monarchy, and this finding was seen as a curse in response to Carter’s intrusion.
The Aurora Monsters Poster Print
What a great poster right out of the comic books of our youth! Aurora Monster Models – turning every boy’s dream into a nightmare! Monster-model madness descended upon the youth of America in the 1950s, when Universal Pictures’ classic horror films enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Universal had launched the golden age of monster movies in 1931 with its adaptation of “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi, followed quickly by “Frankenstein” with Boris Karloff. The hits continued throughout the 1940s with movies like “The Wolf Man,” “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “The Mummy,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “The Bride of Frankenstein.” But in 1956, when Universal licensed its monster movies to television stations, the studio unleashed a new craze for the films’ spooky stars.
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Universal Studios Classic Monsters: Unwrapping “The Mummy”
From Inside The Magic
Classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy, the invisible man, the wolf man, and the creature from the Black Lagoon paved the path for modern horror marvels. Turning terror mainstream, these familiar faces of fear demonstrated that horror has a home in motion pictures.
Several of these favored fright feasts began life a literary horror. Authors like Braham Stoker, Mary Shelley, and H.G. Wells. Others rose from the grave as original nightmares created specifically for Universal Pictures.
Universal Studios, in 1923, took a gamble with their production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1922). “Hunchback,” which did better than other film Universal released that year, catapulted Lon Chaney into the spotlight, due to the brilliant star’s passion for perfect make-up (which he did himself). To showcase Cheney’s talents, Gaston Leroux’s “Le Fantome de l’opera” novel became the studios next feature. “Phantom of the Opera,” released in 1925, also gave birth to the horror genre of fear fed films.
Hollywood Flashback: Universal's 'Mummy' First Rose From the Dead in 1932
From The Hollywood Reporter
In 1932, THR was certain Carl Laemmle Jr.'s Universal Pictures was going to have a hit with The Mummy. The film stars Boris Karloff, the then-44-year-old English actor who THR said "steals the picture. He is weird, terrifying."
While the newest version of The Mummy, out June 9, has an ancient avenging princess going up against Tom Cruise, Karloff played the Egyptian priest Imhotep returning to life. The reanimated 3,700-year-old mummy immediately goes looking for his love, Ankhesenamon, who he believes has been reincarnated as a Cairo woman named Helen. "My love has lasted longer than the temples of our gods," is one of Imhotep's many pickup lines. (The relationship ends badly.) It featured the directorial debut of Karl Freund, who had done Fritz Lang's camera work on 1927's Metropolis. When he returned to cinematography, Freund received an Oscar for 1937's The Good Earth and in the 1950s lensed 149 episodes of I Love Lucy.
"The original Mummy really was a profound inspiration," says reboot producer Sean Daniel. "Karloff, Freund and Laemmle created a seminal work." And THR was right about the film being a hit: The $196,000 production ($3.5 million today) had by 1937 made $596,000 ($11 million currently).
The Mummy (1932)(Universal)
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The Best Horror Movie of 1941: The Wolf Man
From Paste Magazine
More remakes and mad doctors are running rampant in 1941, as Karloff continues to put in work (The Devil Commands), but new faces are arriving on the scene as well. The most notable is the ample frame of Lon Chaney Jr., stepping very neatly into the exact sort of roles once tackled by his father, the Man of a Thousand Faces. His starring turn in The Wolf Man is obviously his most high-profile work in 1941, but he simultaneously appears in Man-Made Monster, and would work steadily in horror for the rest of his life. Due to eventual appearances in the sequels of several franchises in the 1940s, Lon Chaney Jr. holds the distinction of being the only person to portray all four of the major Universal monsters: The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, and Frankenstein’s Monster.
1941 also gives us a classic comedy fantasy in the form of The Devil and Daniel Webster, which touches on the horror genre thanks to its Faustian elements, along with an early Abbott and Costello feature, Hold That Ghost, which sees the comedy duo inheriting what might be a haunted tavern. It would be seven more years before Abbott and Costello returned to the horror genre for their much better-known rendevouz with Dracula, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster, which would serve as an unofficial ending to the era of classic Universal monsters. In 1941, though, we’re still going strong. Not to be forgotten: Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, which isn’t always tagged as a “horror film” per se, but is home to some of the era’s most suspenseful scenes—particularly the bit with Cary Grant fetching his wife a terrifyingly lit glass of what may or may not be poisoned milk.
After a handful of very successful Frankenstein sequels, but less than ideal follow-ups to Dracula and The Mummy, what the Universal monsters series really needed in 1941 was some fresh blood. This it got, in the form of the fourth head on its monstrous Mount Rushmore: The Wolf Man. In a time when the monster series was beginning to trend toward broader adventure, comedy or self-parody, The Wolf Man brought things nicely back to basics, in a story that favors suspense, atmosphere and character over comedy or overt displays of production value. The Wolf Man’s first priority was scaring cinema-goers, and by all accounts it did just that, despite having to contend against reports from the front lines of World War II.
How The Golden Age Of Horror Led To The Birth Of The Cinematic Universe
Marvel studios are often credited with the creation, or at least popularisation of the ‘Cinematic Universe’ craze that has caught on in recent years, and with the release of this year's Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, Warner Bros’ and Legendary Pictures’ Monsterverse is getting a lot of attention.
So why isn’t more recognition being given to the original monsterverse (and the original cinematic universe): The classic Universal Monsters?
In 1931, under the watch of Carl Laemmle Jr., the original run of Universal Monster films began with Tod Browning’s Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, followed shortly afterwards by James Whale’s Frankenstein (also 1931) starring Boris Karloff. The massive success of Whale’s Frankenstein led to Universal having him direct Hollywood’s first great sequel, and the first ever major horror sequel; Bride of Frankenstein (1935). As with some of today’s popular cinematic universes (most notably Marvel’s MCU), the Universal Monster films ran in phases, the first of which ended in 1936, shortly after the release of Bride Of Frankenstein.
It would be another three years before the second phase of films emerged with Son Of Frankenstein (1939) but the film that really kicked off this new approach was George Waggner’s The Wolf Man (1941) starring Lon Chaney Jr. The film was (seemingly) a conscious effort on Universal’s part to be a more commercially friendly approach to a story similarly told in Werewolf Of London (1935), adding to the lore of lycanthropy and featuring an all-star cast including Claude Rains and Bela Lugosi, as well as the aforementioned Chaney Jr.
Universal Monsters Print Bundle: Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Creature and The Bride - Lot of five 8.5 x 11 Prints
Lot Of Five Classic Universal Monsters Photographs, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, The Bride, Creature, and Mummy - 8.5 x 11 Prints.
From the Universal Studios Archives!
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Universal Studios Classic Monsters: The Wolf Man
From Inside The Magic
Classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy, the invisible man, the wolf man, and the creature from the Black Lagoon paved the path for modern horror marvels. Turning terror mainstream, these familiar faces of fear demonstrated that horror has a home in motion pictures.
Several of these favored fright feasts began life a literary horror. Authors like Brahm Stoker, Mary Shelley, and H.G. Wells. Others rose from the grave as original nightmares created specifically for Universal Pictures.
Universal Studios, in 1923, took a gamble with their production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1922). “Hunchback,” which did better than other film Universal released that year, catapulted Lon Chaney into the spotlight, due the brilliant star’s passion for perfect make-up (which he did himself). To showcase Cheney’s talents, Gaston Leroux’s “Le Fantome de l’opera” novel became the studios next feature. “Phantom of the Opera,” released in 1925, also gave birth to the horror genre of fear fed films.
Lon Cheney Jr.’s full moon manifestation was not the first Universal foray into the den of wolves. That title belongs to the May 1935 release “Werewolf of London.” Jack Pierce’s original makeup plan for transforming Dr. Gideon (Henry Hull) on film was rejected for this monster movie. “Werewolf of London,” perhaps, gained more popularity in 1978 due to Warren Zevon’s Halloween pop hit of the same name. It is also considered to have inspired feature films like “An American Werewolf in London” (1981) and “An American Werewolf in Paris” (1997).
Hey There Monster What's Your Sign?
Mad Monster Party (1969)(Rankin/Bass)
The Wolf Man (1941)(Universal)
Dummy nothin'. It was smart enough to scare me.
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