Archive for Alice in Wonderland

The Letters Column

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2019 by dcairns

It’s worth trawling through everything in an old films and filming, from the small ads to the letters column. My June 1962 edition, the earliest I own, has Bryan Forbes writing in to defend his anti-union picture, THE ANGRY SILENCE, and the producer — also the director — of THE MASK — that part-3D Canadian horror movie with Slavko Vorkapich dream sequences — agreeing with the poor review the magazine gave his epic ~

You will have no argument from me since I would guess from editorial opinion and articles published that I agree in the main with your point of view. I deplore the gimmich film and the spurious attempts to bring people into the theatre. I went along with the point of view that the 3D sequences might be interesting enough from a fantasy point of view to make the project worthwhile. Believe me, we did try to give some credence and feeling in the 2D sections to an absolutely shoddy story. My greatest error was perhaps in not insisting on a better story. Mea culpa. I sincerely hope that my next film will be enough to expiate my sin and something we can both be proud of for Canada’s sake and mine. JULIAN ROFFMAN, 3 Ridge Hill Drive, Toronto. Canada.

I like THE MASK, personally, but only really for the dream sequences. The 2D is only useful as a kind of wadding to separate the dreams. But I like the voice saying “Put on the mask! Put on the mask!” but really meaning “Put on your 3D glasses!” It wouldn’t be half as good if it were all in 3D. (I would like Tim Burton’s awful ALICE IN WONDERLAND at least 5% more if he’d been allowed to make the scenes in England flat, as originally planned.)

Let’s see, what did Julian Roffman make next? Well, he never directed another feature. As producer, SPY IN YOUR EYE, four years after THE MASK, starred Brett Halsey and Pier Angeli. Whether Canada would be proud is moot, since it’s an Italian production, an espionage romp in which the Russians are learning US secrets via a camera hidden in Dana Andrews’ artificial eye. Works on the same principle as Trump’s android phone, I suppose.

Then Roffman is back in Canada for EXPLOSION, then he makes THE PYX which I do kind of like, though not necessarily better than THE MASK. It has a goddamn beautiful and eerie Karen Black soundtrack (!). He finishes his feature career with THE GLOVE, so nearly all his films are about things that you wear, including Dana Andrew’s glass eye (but I’d give it a wash first). That one is about an ex-con (Rosie Grier) beating his former tormentors to death with a metal glove. John Saxon is the bounty hunter hired to bring him in, and Joanna Cassidy, Aldo Ray and Keenan Wynn also appear.

I stand by my assertion that any Rosie Grier movie in which he ISN’T wearing Ray Milland’s cranium on his shoulder ought to be titled THE THING WITH ONE HEAD. And I say that with all due respect.

Oh, before THE MASK he made The BLOODY BROOD, a killer beatnik movie with Peter Falk in a non-lead role. Come to think of it, he should have had Falk in that Dana Andrews role…

Julian Roffman’s dreams of making Canada proud lie shattered like a glass eye punched with a steel glove.


The Shadowcast: Let’s Get Small

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2019 by dcairns

New podcast up!

Fiona and I take a microscopically close look at the TIMELY and IMPORTANT subject of human miniaturization, with a particular focus on THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, FANTASTIC VOYAGE and INNERSPACE. Mike Clelland suggested the middle film, and from there things kind of snowballed. Shout-out to Mike.

Still audibly suffering from slight colds on this one, but the NEXT one was recorded earlier and you’ll hear some seriously bunged-up sinuses on that. Here, we just sound like a sexy, husky couple of Glynis Johnses, than which nothing could be better.

The discussion also encompasses (or brushes past) DOWNSIZING, FIRST PAVILION, BODY TROOPERS, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN, and there are audio extracts from… well, I’ll let that be a surprise (and perhaps a mystery). Momo the podcat offers his views on the miniature human’s potential as snack.

Annoyed with myself for failing to mention the excellent (if slightly racist) miniaturization joke in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick, which demonstrates the virtue of sandwiching virtually a whole novel between set-up and pay-off (more authors should try that). So I’m mentioning it here.

The 30s novelette He Who Shrank which is quoted from is by Henry Hasse and is worth seeking out online. Other literary works referred to are Richard Matheson’s all-important The Shrinking Man, Isaac Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage II: Electric Boogaloo*, Alice in Wonderland and The Arabian Nights.

The audio mixes at the start and end are designed to make genre fans dance around the room in a gleeful sugar rush. Let us know if this happens. Send photographic evidence.Very small people may already be inside all of us. Is there a message you would like passed on?

*Not its actual title.

The Monday Matinee, Episode 5: Beneath the Earth

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2017 by dcairns

Kinda outrageous the way THE PHANTOM EMPIRE not only cheats its way out of every cliffhanger, but spends the first five minutes of every episode doing so — that’s 20% recycling! This time, Gene Autry and the kids escape being blown up because… the makers back-engineer a sequence we weren’t shown before, in which a couple of Junior Thunder Riders notice the peril he’s in — a trail of gunpowder has been lit, blazing through the secret tunnel he’s trying to escape down, certain to blow up the bag of powder he’s carrying — and ride to the rescue, somehow outpacing the blazing fuse and opening the secret door to let him out of the exploding tunnel. Nice work. You bastards.

The plot, though not really any more advanced than it was by the end of Episode 1, is now somehow so fankled and guddled that the opening recap cards read like a surreal fold-in exercise by William Burroughs. This one is my favourite ~

Now read on ~

For a man falsely accused of murder, Autry devotes a remarkable amount of time to ensuring his radio show doesn’t go off-air. This episode is mostly about him relocating his broadcast gear to a secret shack so he can continue riding the airwaves. Then the Thunder Riders attack, and once again there are echoes of BIRTH OF A NATION again as the homestead is besieged. The bad guy scorches the lock off the door using his highly technological… fire cock.

Fortunately, all the Thunder Riders ride off for very little reason, leaving the one guy with the fire cock to get beaten up by Gene. Gene then disguises himself as the felled fire cock operator, so that when the Riders come back, they take him with them. Which is exactly what they wanted, anyway. He may as well have just surrendered. His only advantage here is they don’t actually know they’ve got him.

Disappointing that so far the fun robots, with their tin boy scout hats, only wind the garage door leading to Murania open and closed. An automated door would probably be more efficient, and less likely to rise against one.

Queen Tika is not impressed by Gene’s disguise: “You dare to wear your oxygen helmet in my presence? Off with his helmet!” An echo of the Queen of Hearts here — there will be more Alice references later. We’re down the rabbit hole here, folks.

I’m starting to formulate a theory that THE PHANTOM EMPIRE is a prequel to SONS OF THE DESERT, and that Dorothy Christy’s Queen Tika gives up her underground kingdom to marry Stan Laurel. And that’s why she’s so bitter. But I’ll have to finish the serial in order to know how plausible my theory is.

The Queen gives Autry another of her lectures, using her big floor monitor. Over a shot of a beggar: “Feast your eyes. He is from your world. We have none of that here.” Shot of Frankie and Betsy: “There are friends of yours. They may become beggars.” Then a shot of the deadly lightning chamber: “The death chamber. There’s where you’ll be in five minutes.” Kind of an odd thing to show him on television, since like everything else in Murania it’s right next door.

So, Gene is shoved in there and they prepare to shock him with 200,ooo volts — which might be suspenseful if they hadn’t already shown us the secret exit. To try and ramp up the terror, they actually show Gene get zapped and DIE. So he is dead, then.

Tune in next week to see his scorched remains!