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.

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!

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.

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.

“Reservoir Dogs” Trivia from Quentin Tarantino

Matt Hoffman and Film School Rejects present What We Learned While Revisiting Reservoir Dogs with Quentin Tarantino.  Here are two of my favorite things…

Tarantino learned a lot about his characters when a producer gave him the advice to search for the subtext.
“Just writing down the obvious opened up different avenues, different thoughts, and so you think you’re writing one line and you write three, or four, and all of a sudden I started realizing, ‘Oh wow, this is kind of a father-son story.’ “Isn’t it interesting that throughout the whole piece Mr. White keeps telling Mr. Orange ‘Wait for Joe, wait for Joe and when Joe gets here he’s going to take care of everything.” Well when Joe gets there he’s come to kill Mr. Orange. And the whole interesting thing at the end, which I hadn’t thought about frankly, which is that Mr. White is kind of almost a de facto son character for Joe, and Mr. Orange has become a de facto son character for Mr. White. At the end, Mr. White has to choose between his father and his son and he chooses his son but he’s wrong, but he’s wrong for all the right reasons. All that kind of started coming to me. So I finished it and I go, ‘Oh wow, that was a really interesting exercise…I never want to do this ever again.’

Working with Lawrence Tierney (Joe) was a nightmare.
“The worst moment on set was the last ten minutes of the last day of the first week we were shooting. Me and Larry got into a fist fight. It was more of a shoving match frankly. Harvey Keitel and Lawrence [Bender] broke it up. I fired Larry in front of everybody, the crew applauded because they’d hated him. Harvey told us to settle down and then he ran out and then Larry ran out. I took a walk around the trucks. I’d done nothing but shoot Lawrence Tierney all week long, so if I wanted to get fired, I’m going to get fired because they’re going to keep Larry. We have a week’s worth of footage. But I wasn’t going to put up with his ****. So I’m literally walking around the trailers thinking, “Well okay, you wanted to know how it’s going to end well it’s going to end this way. I guess it was nice while it lasted but I guess you’re not going to put up with ****, you’re going to go back to the video store but you’re not going to put up with ****. Aren’t you the smart guy?”

34 Things We Learned from the John Sturges’ “Bad Day at Black Rock” Commentary

Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 34 Things We Learned from the John Sturges’ Bad Day at Black Rock Commentary.  Here are three of my favorites…

6. He says Spencer Tracy was such a fantastic actor and engrossed viewers so well in a scene that he himself would “get so caught up I’d forget to say ‘cut!’” Other actors would approach Sturges surprised at the impact Tracy’s presence and performance had on their own.

10. He says a strange thing happened on the film in regard to their lack of extras. “A town is supposed to have wanderers,” he says, and they had a group of ten or so available for just such a purpose. And yet the film has none. “Every time the assistant director would put someone in, I didn’t like it.” He didn’t like it when they were up close, and he liked it less when they were just dots in the distant background. “That’s worse. Are those the rescuers coming?!” They distracted him, “and I’m a movie maker, not a documentary maker.”

25. He says the production was free of conflict between talent with one exception “that amused me and absolutely scorched Spence.” Tracy had won three Academy Awards by this time, but Walter Brennan had won four, and before each shared scene Brennan would look at Tracy and hold up four fingers.

John Wick (2014)

John Wick (2014)

Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch (uncredited)

Screenplay: Derek Kolstad

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Keith Jardine and Kevin Nash.


The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make an action movie that takes it to the next level!”

Tagline: Don’t Set Him Off!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

John Wick [Reeves] is grieving the death of his wife.  A chance meeting with Iosef Tarasov, the privileged son of a Russian mobster, leads to  Tarasov and some of his thugs breaking into Wick’s house, beating him badly, killing his dog and stealing his prized vintage Mustang.

Tarasov learns way to late that Wick is a legendary retired hit man.  And now Wick is coming for revenge.

Chad Stahelski, David Leitch, Derek Kolstad and Keanu Reeves have created a unique world that is just slightly different from the one we live in.  It feels real.  Each character has a backstory that is told without it feeling like backstory.  The action is amazing.  I loved this movie and want more!!

Rating:

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962)

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962)

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Screenplay: Robert Ardrey and John Gay based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez

Stars: Glenn Ford, Ingrid Thulin, Charles Boyer, Lee J. Cobb,  Yvette Mimieux and Paul Henreid.


The Pitch: “Hey, adapt the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez!”

Tagline: From Ibanez’ immortal classic, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents an unforgettable motion picture

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

As World War II rages, Julio [Ford] a playboy from Argentina is living in Paris.  Although not a fan of the Nazis, like his country, Julio is neutral… until he falls in love with a married woman [Thulin] whose French freedom-fighting husband is a prisoner of war.  Julio begs Marguerite to leave Paris before it is overrun by Germans, but she refuses.

The German take over Paris and Julio is not to surprised to learn that his cousin and uncle are high ranking Nazis.  When Julio discovers that Marguerite is a member of the French underground he knows that he will have to chose sides.

Vincent Minnelli has created a unique film.  I really enjoyed it but bet it won’t be for everyone.

Rating:

Neil deGrasse Tyson: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me

Tess Kornfeld and US Magazine.com present Neil deGrasse Tyson: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. I have an asteroid named after me called 13123 Tyson. It orbits between Mars and Jupiter.

6. I was captain of my high school wrestling team, and undefeated.

23. When I tweet my observations on science in films, my goal is to enhance enjoyment. Given how many people react negatively, I’m clearly failing in this goal.

13 Things You Didn’t Know About “The Dick Van Dyke Show”

Eddie Deezen and Neatorama present 13 Things You Didn’t Know About The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Here are three of my favorites…

4. The show was not successful in its first season and was actually cancelled by CBS. Producer Danny Thomas had to personally go to the network execs and convince (beg) them to leave the show on the air. The show picked up steam during summer reruns that year, remained on the air and became the “classic” series we all know. Ironically, after star Van Dyke decided to end the series after it’s five-year run in 1966, it was the CBS executives who begged him to stay on.

7. Buddy Sorrel, the wise-cracking joke writer played by Morey Amsterdam, was actually based on Mel Brooks, who was originally a comedy writer and worked with the show’s producer Carl Reiner on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows in the 1950s.

9. The show was usually filmed before a studio audience, but was not on at least three occasions. One was on the day of JFK’s assassination- November 22, 1963. On that day, in the middle of rehearsals, the cast heard about the president’s assassination and decided to go ahead and film the episode “Happy Birthday and Too Many More” anyway. However, it was decided that they would do the episode with no studio audience, figuring no one would be in the mood to laugh at such a time.

25 Fascinating Facts About “Breaking Bad”

Jennifer Wood and Mental_Floss present 25 Fascinating Facts About Breaking Bad.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. THE NETWORK REALLY WANTED MATTHEW BRODERICK TO STAR.

It’s impossible to imagine Breaking Bad with anyone other than Bryan Cranston in the lead role, but he wasn’t as well known when the series kicked off, and AMC wanted a star. They were particularly interested in casting either Matthew Broderick or John Cusack in the lead.

“We all still had the image of Bryan shaving his body in Malcolm in the Middle,” a former AMC executive told The Hollywood Reporter about their initial reluctance to cast Cranston. “We were like, ‘Really? Isn’t there anybody else?’” But Gilligan had worked with Cranston before, on an episode of The X-Files, and knew he had the chops to navigate the quirks of the part. The network brass watched the episode, and agreed.

“We needed somebody who could be dramatic and scary yet have an underlying humanity so when he dies, you felt sorry for him,” Gilligan said. “Bryan nailed it.”

10. GILLIGAN GOT SOME HELP FROM THE WALKING DEAD CREW FOR FRING’S FINAL EPISODE.

Fring’s final sendoff is one of the most memorable visual images from the entire series—and they were able to enlist the help of some true gore experts. “Indeed we did have great help from the prosthetic effects folks at The Walking Dead,” Gilligan told The New York Times. “And I want to give a shout-out to Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger, and KNB EFX, those two gentlemen and their company, because their shop did that effect. And then that was augmented by the visual effects work of a guy named Bill Powloski and his crew, who digitally married a three-dimensional sculpture that KNB EFX created with the reality of the film scene. So you can actually see into and through Gus’s head in that final reveal. It’s a combination of great makeup and great visual effects. And it took months to do.”

15. HEISENBERG’S SIGNATURE HAT WAS A MATTER A PRACTICALITY.

Heisenberg’s porkpie hat came to identify Walter White’s dark side, but it originated from a very practical place. “Bryan kept asking me, after he shaved his head, ‘Can I have a hat?’ because his head was cold,” Kathleen Detoro, the show’s costume designer, explained. “So I would ask Vince and he kept saying no; Jesse wore the hats. Finally, Vince said, ‘I think there’s a place …’ It was Bryan asking for a hat, me asking Vince, and then Vince figuring out where in the story it makes sense: It’s when he really becomes Heisenberg.” (If you want to buy your own Heisenberg hat, it was made by Goorin.)

9 Hardened Facts About Charles Bronson

Jake Rosen and Mental_Floss present 9 Hardened Facts About Charles Bronson.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. HE EARNED HIS FIRST ACTING ROLE BY BURPING.

Bronson had always been interested in the arts. After serving in the Army during World War II, he found himself in Atlantic City doing odd jobs. One acting troupe invited him to paint scenery for them; Bronson found he enjoyed performing more. His first film role, in 1951’s You’re in the Navy Now, was landed, he said, because he was the only actor who could burp on demand.

3. COMMUNISM (AND STEVE MCQUEEN) FORCED A NAME CHANGE.

When Bronson (né Buchinsky) was starting out, Senator Joseph McCarthy was preoccupied with rooting out Communists in Hollywood. Fearing his Lithuanian name would provide ammunition for accusations, he took on the name Bronson after driving with friend Steve McQueen, who pointed to a “Bronson” street sign and shouted to him that it would be perfect.

8. HE WAS HUGE IN ITALY.

While Bronson was a bona fide movie star in the States for a portion of his career, he was a megastar in other countries. Italian moviegoers called him “Il Brutto” (The Ugly One) and in France he was one of cinema’s “monstres sacrés” His movies would often earn more in other territories than they would in North America. In Japan, a publicist once said, his name appeared on a sign over a block long.

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