Friday, August 10, 2007

Camera Obscura - Neil Gaiman, Masters of Sci-Fi, Whedon Interview

Some quick TV notes for you to start off this Friday.

All day on Turner Classic Movies is a Vincent Price marathon. Many great performances and films are presented, including the weird "The Tingler" and his version of "I Am Legend", called "The Last Man On Earth." Tonight will bring some of his best known movies, the Roger Corman adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories as well as "The Abominable Dr. Phibes". (Phibes was the "Saw" series of it's day.)

I also love the marketing ploy used in "The Tingler" (the first movie to feature an LSD trip scene) as random theatre seats in movie houses across the country were fitted with honest-to-Pete electric shock gizmos. At certain times during the film, your seat would buzz and vibrate with a light shock and those in the seats would usually scream and jump up, which started some truly chaotic moments in the theatres.

Yeah, you could not do that today. Lawsuits would follow. The audience always got plenty of shocks in movies from producer William Castle, who would often provide a 'nurse on duty' during his movies, or offer you free life insurance in case you died of fear during his movies. Castle was the man who coined the advertising line "Just keep telling yourself, It's Only A Movie! It's Only A Movie!!"

Another TV treat is getting a very brief lifespan on ABCs on Saturday nights at 10 pm, "Masters of Science Fiction." This week's episode is based on a story by Howard Fast ("Spartacus") and is set in the war zones of Baghdad. Terry O'Quinn stars. The next two (of only four episodes) feature dramas based on the works of Heinlein and Harlan Ellison. NPR has a fantastic review of the show.

NPR also has a tasty segment
on the delicious comedy show Robot Chicken, which starts it's third season on Adult Swim on August 12th. The geek in me is always impressed by the rapid-fire pop culture assault that RC provides in 10 and 15 minute bite-sized chunks.


More proof I am a geek:

A week or so ago, I got an early birthday present. It's yet another t-shirt to add to my gigantic collection of clothing from movies and television. The shirt is simply the punchline from an online comic strip, PVP, from 2005 as a father and son debate Episode 3 of the "Star Wars" saga. (click to embiggen)

And the shirt is shown here.

Speaking of Joss Whedon, a jam-packed interview from the just completed San Diego Comic Con has plenty of details about his work on Buffy and Angel and Firefly and future projects. I have always had my own tag line for the man, taken from Marvel Comics -- "Make Mine Whedon!"


Comic books continue their massive influence on Hollywood with the opening this weekend of the fantasy adventure "Stardust" written by one of the most popular comics writer and novelist in many years, Neil Gaiman. It's a more intense and scary version of "Princess Bride".

The reviews are very strong for the movie. It stars Michelle Pfieffer, Robert De Niro, Peter O' Toole, Claire Danes and Ricky Gervais. Director Matthew Vaughn, whose previous movie "Layer Cake" I have mentioned many times here before, may be about to take over another comic book to movie project for marvel, Thor. Get all the details on Vaughn and "Stardust" and "Layer Cake" here.

And if you haven't read any of his work, his novel "American Gods" is a fine place to start.

Now please excuse me -- I have TV to watch and other geek habits to employ.


  1. I have a copy of "ANASAZI BOYS" to read soon.Also are you reading the 8th season Buffy comic?

  2. yes I am reading the Season 8 Buffy comic and it's a good extension of the show and a fine looking comic too. plus since Xander lost an eye in the last TV season, he shows up in the comic wearing an eye patch and running an 'operations center' and looks like Nick fury. he even refers to Nick, saying he likes the Nick Fury of the 'Howling Commando' days best.

    Whedon's work on X-Men is great too. they took all his ideas for a 'mutant cure' for the 3rd XM movie, and gave him zero credit.

  3. oh James -- one more thing to note today ... as i predicted, there were no press screenings for "Skinwalkers" so if you do want to see it, it will be on DVD in a month or less is my bet!