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10 Facts About “Night of the Living Dead”

Matthew Jackson and Mental_Floss present 10 Facts About Night of the Living Dead.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. GEORGE ROMERO WAS HEAVILY INSPIRED BY I AM LEGEND.

Armed with Russo’s flesh-eating concept, Romero went to work, pairing it with a story he’d been working on that “basically ripped off” Richard Matheson’s apocalyptic horror novel I Am Legend. Russo later recalled that Romero returned with “about 40 really excellent pages,” including the opening in the cemetery and the arrival at the farmhouse. Russo set to work on the rest, and Night of the Living Dead began to come to life.

8. JONES FOUGHT AGAINST AN ALTERNATE ENDING THAT WOULD HAVE SAVED BEN.

One of the film’s most famous elements is its grim ending, in which Ben, having survived the night, is shot by the sheriff’s zombie-hunting posse and thrown on the fire. At one point, a happier ending for the film was considered, but Jones fought it and won.

“I convinced George that the black community would rather see me dead than saved, after all that had gone on, in a corny and symbolically confusing way,” Jones said. “The heroes never die in American movies. The jolt of that, and the double jolt of the hero being black seemed like a double-barreled whammy.”

9. IT’S IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN BECAUSE OF A CREDITS ERROR.

Night of the Living Dead might be the most famous public domain movie of all time, but it was never intended to be. The Walter Reade Organization, which distributed the film, wanted to release it under the title Night of the Flesh Eaters, but lawyers representing the makers of 1964’s The Flesh Eaters threatened a lawsuit, so the title was changed to Night of the Living Dead. When the title changed, though, copyright notices were not added to the opening titles or to the end credits. Though the filmmakers have fought it in federal court, the film is still in the public domain.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Director: Howard Hawks

Screenplay: Dudley Nichols & Hagar Wilde from a story by Hagar Wilde

Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Charles Ruggles

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a screwball romantic comedy!”

Tagline: And so begins the hilarious adventure of Professor David Huxley and Miss Susan Vance, a flutter-brained vixen with love in her heart!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

From the moment Susan [Hepburn] meets David Huxley [Grant], a mild mannered zoologist who is about to be married, she falls for him.   Hoping the opposites attract, the crazy, fun-loving Susan tricks David into a road trip.

Bringing Up Baby reminded me of an extended episode of I Love Lucy and that’s a good thing.

 

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15 Things You Never Knew About the “Hellboy” Movies

Tom Baker and CBR.com present 15 Things You Never Knew About the Hellboy Movies.  Here are three of my favorites…

10. THE SET DESIGN IS FULL OF EASTER EGGS
Never one to let a good prop to go to waste, del Toro opted to populate the B.P.R.D.’s hall of antiquities with nods to his previous films, including an encore for the creepy jar babies from “The Devil’s Backbone.” Mike Mignola’s art, meanwhile, is so evocative that it was hard not to try and get in some of his designs into the film’s set decoration, including an original illustration for the gag in-universe “Hellboy” comic seen in the first film.

Perhaps most enticing of all for fans of the “Hellboy” comics is a fleeting appearance by Roger the Homunculus, a major member of the B.P.R.D. team in the source material. Complete with large ring around his groin, Roger appears as a hulking gray statue on a plinth in a hallway. This is seen when John Hurt’s Professor Broom is showing new recruit Agent Myers around the B.P.R.D. headquarters in the first film. In the same scene, the “Iron Shoes” from the short comic story of the same name can also be glimpsed in a display case.

8. RON PERLMAN WAS DEL TORO AND MIGNOLA’S FIRST CHOICE

Revolution Studios were thinking big when they first got the ball rolling on a “Hellboy” film. Preceding the coming comic book movie boom, and perhaps working from the template of Sony’s “Spider-Man” success, they wanted big name stars to headline their somewhat more offbeat superhero story. Some of the Hollywood stars being bandied about during early discussions about who should play Hellboy himself included Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and, of course, Nicolas Cage.

What would have likely been a very different, perhaps more manic version of “Hellboy” was avoided when Guillermo del Toro came aboard the project. A fan of the comics from way back, he worked closely with creator Mike Mignola to make sure his big screen version of Hellboy was authentic and respectful to the source material. As such, he discussed the lead actor with Mignola personally. They agreed to a meeting where both would say their first choice for the part in unison. To their surprise and relief, both of them said Ron Perlman.

6. HELLBOY VERY NEARLY HAD A LEFT HAND OF DOOM

The Right Hand of Doom is one of the core, unshakable icons of the “Hellboy” mythology. Both a Biblical reference and an excuse to put a cover of that one Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song on the first film’s soundtrack, that huge stone first Hellboy wields is important in-universe (as an impossible-to-escape sign of his destructive destiny) and metatextually (it provided the title for a short story collection of the same name). And yet, all of that very nearly changed.

When the idea of a “Hellboy” movie first began to pick up steam, one of the major mooted changes from the source material was to swap sides and make it the Left Hand of Doom. After all, it’s somewhat impractical to expect an actor to perform whilst retaining zero use of their dominant hand. All the early costume design and concept art for the “Hellboy” film depict the character with the Red Left hand, until the casting of Ron Perlman proved particularly fortuitous: not only did he have the requisite frame and gravelly voice, he was also a southpaw!

11 Things You Never Knew About Khan, the Greatest Star Trek Villain

MeTV presents 11 Things You Never Knew About Khan, the Greatest Star Trek Villain.  Here are three of my favorites…

HE WAS ORIGINALLY AN ANCIENT GREEK, THEN A VIKING SPACE PIRATE.

So, yeah, the “Khan” character was originally a Greek, and obviously not named “Khan.” When Wilber pitched his old idea for Star Trek, he changed the antagonist to a Nordic named Harold or John Ericssen, who is later revealed to be a vicious Viking space pirate named Ragnar Thorwald. Roddenberry was apprehensive about using such outward criminals. Oddly, Lost in Space would air its episode “Space Vikings” (seen here) a week before “Space Seed.”

AFTER CASTING RICARDO MONTALBÁN, THE CHARACTER WAS NAMED SIBAHL AND GOVIN.

Mexican actor Montalbán was hardly a good fit to play a Scandinavian, so the villain was tweaked. However, this being Hollywood in the 1960s, producers figured he could play a Sikh. (That being said, he must not be observant, as he does not wear a Dastar.) Roddenberry and writer Gene Coon changed the name to Sibahl Khan Noonien… until a fact-checking research company noted that “Singh” is a much more appropriate Sikh surname. They suggested the name “Govin Bahadur Singh.” Coon and Roddenberry met them halfway and settled on the canonical Khan Noonien Singh.

CHEKOV IS NOT IN THIS EPISODE — DESPITE THE FACT THAT KHAN RECOGNIZES HIM IN ‘STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.’

At the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Chekov encounters a vengeful Khan, who puts that creepy bug in the Starfleet Commander’s ear. Khan immediately recognizes Chekov from the events of “Space Seed.” There is just one major problem: Chekov was not aboard the Enterprise for that first-season episode. In fact, Walter Koenig did not join the cast until season two. Tie-in novels have since tried to explain this plot hole, while Koenig jokes they met in the restroom. Sulu is also not in “Space Seed.”

7 of the Creepiest Coincidences in Movie History

Hollywood.com presents 7 of the Creepiest Coincidences in Movie History.  Here are three of my favorites…

3. Poltergeist
In the classic horror film, Poltergeist, there’s a poster hanging above Robbie’s bed that reads “1988 Superbowl XXII”:

You’d expect a little kid to a have a football poster up in his room, but what makes this weird is the fact Poltergeist was released in 1982, but Superbowl XXII wouldn’t be played for another six years.
So why did they use a poster from a future game? Well, no one really knows, but on January 31, 1988, the day Superbowl XXII was held, Heather O’Rourke (the actress who played Robbie’s younger sister) became violently ill. She passed away the next day at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, less than five miles away from Jack Murphy Stadium where Super Bowl XXII was played.

 

6. The Girl from Petrovka
In the early 1970s, Anthony Hopkins agreed to star in the film adaptation of George Feifer‘s novel The Girl from Petrovka. After searching several London bookstores, Hopkins wasn’t able to find a copy of the book anywhere and just as he had given up his search, he spotted an abandoned copy on a bench and decided to swiped it.

That’s weird enough by itself, but two years later, Hopkins met with Feifer who admitted that he’d lost his own copy of his book (complete with his personal notes) after he lent it to a friend who left it somewhere in London. It turns out the copy of the book that Hopkins found belonged to Feifer.

 

7. Code of the Secret Service
In the late 1930s, after a series of successful gangster films, Warner Brothers was pressured by FDR’s Attorney General Homer Cummings to make a series of films that glorified law enforcement agents rather than criminals. So Warners Bros decided to make a series of Secret Service films starring then actor Ronald Reagan.

Code of the Secret Service, Rosella Towne, Ronald Reagan, Warner Brothers
Warner Brothers via Everett
Reagan once called one of the movies, Code of the Secret Service, “the worst picture I ever made,” but the movie actually saved his life. Over 40 years later, President Reagan was the target of an assassination attempt, but his life was spared thanks to quick thinking by Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr. The weird part? Parr was inspired to join the Secret Service after watching Ronald Reagan in Code of the Secret Service.

Ken Meyer Jr.’s Ink Stains 39: Kane, Byrne, Barr, Black and More!

If you’re a fan of fanzines, then you’ve got to check out Ken Meyer, Jr.’s monthly column Ink Stains.  Each month Ken (who is an amazing artist) posts… well, let’s let Ken explain…

I have a collection of over 200 fanzines from the 60’s-80’s that I plan to scan and talk about, one at a time. I hope to have some of the participants answer a few questions. Many of those participants are established comics professionals now, while some have gone on to other things. I will show a few snippets from each zine and give you a link to download a pdf of the whole thing, which I hope all of you will do!

For Ink Stains 39, Ken took a look at Collector 28 from 1973.   Edited and published by Bill G. Wilson.

Collector 28 is a nice find.  I’d never seen it before reading Ken’s column.  Chock full of the stuff that fanzines were known for this issue features:

  • A color Ken Barr cover
  • Art by Don Rosa, Alan Hanley, Bill Black, a Don Newton portfolio, John Byrne, Gil Kane and more.
  • Articles on Star Trek and The Shadow and more.

Ah, the memories of the glory days of fanzines.  Thanks to Ken Meyer, Jr. for making these available!

Captain Blood (1935)

Captain Blood (1935)

Director: Michael Curtiz

Screenplay: Casey Robinson

Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill and Basil Rathbone

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a swashbuckler!”

Tagline: THE MOST MAGNIFICENT & THRILLING SEA ADVENTURE EVER FILMED

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

After unjustly condemned to slavery for being a traitor against England, Dr. Peter Blood [Flynn] escapes and becomes a infamous pirate.

Most folks like this much better than me so be aware your mileage may vary greatly.

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Cinephilia Goes In-Depth with John Carpenter on “They Live”

Fans of John Carpenter’s They Live will want to check out ‘THEY LIVE’: JOHN CARPENTER’S BRILLIANTLY SIMPLE AND HUGELY ENJOYABLE ASSAULT ON REAGAN’S AMERICA at Cinephilia and Beyond.

There you’ll find John Carpenter’s They Live script, an interview with Carpenter and a whole lot more.

Gilda (1946)

Gilda (1946)

Director: Charles Vidor

Screenplay: Marion Parsonnet and Ben Hecht (uncredited)

Stars: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford and George Macready

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a Rita Hayworth movie!”

Tagline: There NEVER was a woman like Gilda!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Johnny Farrell [Ford] befriends the shady owner of an Argentine casino and quickly works his way to being the boss’ right-hand man.  Things are going swell until the boss returns from a short trip with a wife.  It turns out that the boss’ new bride had a prior relationship with Johnny… and they still have strong feelings for each other.

 

 

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Forbidden Planet (1956)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Director: Fred McLeod Wilcox

Screenplay: Cyril Hume based on a story by Irving Block and Allen Adler

Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman, James Drury, Gavin Macleod and Robby the Robot.


The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a big budget sci-fi film!”

Tagline: IT’S OUT OF THIS WORLD!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

An interplanetary crew sent to a distant planet to discover what happened to the colony set up there years ago, are contacted as they enter the planet’s atmosphere and told to stay away.  Upon landing they meet the two remaining colony survivors, a doctor and his daughter — the rest were killed by a giant monster.

As the ship’s commander digs deeper he becomes aware that all is not as it seems.  He doubts the doctor’s story until the monster kills some of his crew.  Then he learns that the doctor is hiding even more information and things go really bad.

Forbidden Planet is a lot of fun.  I absolutely loved it as a kid and it still holds up pretty well.

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