Archive for the ‘Needless Things’ Category

This time of years we see any number of old favorites- whether they’re television shows or classic holiday films -filling out the TV listings each and every night. TV programmers are fairly reliable over the holiday season when it comes to packing everything from Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree to the Grinch and his sleigh and everything else into the weeks between Thanksgiving’s last belch and the first frenzied tearing of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. And, of course, who can forget the annual tradition that is the terror attack/robbery at Nakatomi Plaza? While some of the programs I’m going to touch on are starting to fall into the list of reliable holiday programming, some of them still haven’t reached (and may never reach) the “TV Tradition” stage. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t track them down and see if they fit nicely into your holiday season must see lists.

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So, I was talking to a friend about ideas for an indie film project he may be involved in and the topic of the film’s trailer came up. An aspect of what one proposed concept for the project would involve having it almost jumping genres in the last third of the film. Something we both agreed on was the idea of not showing anything from the final third of the film in early trailers. Word of the twist would certainly get out once the finished film, should this concept be the final one, started doing the festival circuit, but why give away the game before anyone sees the film? In the discussion, I brought up a film we’ve both cited for longer than we’ve known each other as an example of trailers giving away a great surprise long before the opening weekend. That film is 1994’s From Dusk till Dawn.

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So, we so far served you up two turkeys this month. We’ve given you The Ghost Galleon, but, at best, that’s a minor bird. It may be the film where it was obvious that the Blind Dead franchise was heading off the rails, but it’s still a hugely enjoyable horror film with an absolutely amazing looking threat in the Blind Dead themselves. We then gave you The Bermuda Depths, a much larger bird by far. Despite its saving graces, it is certainly deserving of the label ‘Turkey’ and then some. This week, we give you a giant, prehistoric turkey in the form of The Last Dinosaur.

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Okay, so let’s set the stage for this one. Arthur Rankin Jr.- he of Rankin/Bass Productions fame -decided he wanted to creatively branch out a bit. So, after decades of becoming famous for children’s holiday specials like Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, Mad Monster Party, Frosty the Snowman, and variety shows like The Jackson 5ive and The Osmonds, he decided he wanted to make more adult oriented television movies with 1977’s lost world adventure The Last Dinosaur and 1978’s horror offering, The Bermuda Depths. There would also be a third film, 1980’s The Ivory Ape, but the less said about this film the better. Having had some luck working with Japanese production companies years earlier with 1967’s King Kong Escapes, and possibly because everyone else laughed at the proposals for the films, he struck a deal with a somewhat past its prime Tsuburaya Productions to handle much of the monster FX works. So, basically, you’re talking about a great recipe for total disaster.

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Some ongoing news popped its head up into the social media world this last week, and fandom suddenly felt its heart grow three sizes that day. Unfortunately, this was one of those things where fandom really needed to stop and think and maybe play the part of the Grinch a little more. Outside of seeing some interesting speculation with regards to some Marvel properties (which was what most of the people I saw salivating over this were initially talking about) I saw little about this that made me think it was a good idea. Even seeing the Marvel properties “go home” to Disney- while that could open up some interesting possibilities for the next phase of Marvel films -might not ultimately be the great thing some initially thought it could be. To be honest, perhaps the only good thing in such a deal would be straightening out a lot of the remaining issues around Star Wars: A New Hope.

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After two rather successful forays into the world of the Blind Dead, Amando de Ossorio decided to change the formula up a bit and introduce some new twists into the mythos. Not all of this worked as well as he had hoped it would. The Ghost Galleon (also more commonly known as Horror of the Zombies in the 50 films for $20 public domain movie DVD sets) would move our decaying blood drinkers out of their scenic Spanish countryside home and into a broken down vessel drifting on the ocean waves. It also tried to introduce the weird, paranormal pseudo-science that was showing up in a lot of low budget (and the occasional bigger budget) horror films of that time. The former concept was actually enjoyable on a cheesy, so bad it’s good level once the film got past all of the mumbo jumbo buildup of the latter concept, but, still, enjoyable as hell or not, this film was a turkey and then some.

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“I don’t like horror. I just don’t watch that stuff.”

I’ve been told that, or a slight variant of that, more than a few times over the years. Occasionally, they absolutely mean it. Interestingly, more often than not, they don’t realize that what they’re saying isn’t actually true. If you’re wondering how someone can be unaware they like or have been watching horror while saying they don’t like it, you might not realize the levels to which people can in general compartmentalize and separate some things in their own mind. Well, that and how much some people take the “reality” part of reality TV seriously.

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