Thursday, July 28, 2011

Captain's Library: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT Conclusion

The first manned flight into space by the British Experimental Rocket Group ends with a crash landing and only one survivor.
The other two astronauts' intact spacesuits are aboard the ship...but not the astronauts!
The remaining astronaut is alive, but catatonic, and his body seems to be infected with an unknown disease.
Meanwhile, blobs of organic material found in the ship appear to be the transformed remains of the two missing crew members.
The survivor's wife, fearing her husband will become a guinea pig for scientists' tests, has him spirited away from the hospital.
But the alien life-form inside him is transforming the hapless man into a creature who must absorb the energy of other living beings to survive...

In the original teleplay, Quatermass negotiates with the three astronauts' minds, still inside the creature, and convinces them to commit suicide to save the planet from the creature they're mutating into!
To fit the tv plot into a 90 minute movie, a sub-plot involving Victor Carroon's wife having an affair with the Rocket Group's doctor was jettisoned.
In addition, Carroon's kidnapping in the tv serial was by Communist agents, who are then killed by the mutating astronaut.
In terms of characterization, Brian Donlevy's cold, logical Quatermass is a far different version than the warm, paternal BBC-TV version played by Reginald Tate.
I think this was done primarily to reduce the amount of character interaction and dialogue not directly related to the main plot.

While the uncut British version has been released in the US on VHS, it is not on Region 1 DVD or BluRay (at least, not officially).
It is available in England both separately and as part of a Quatermass box set.
If you have a region-free player...

1n 2005, the original teleplay was reworked into a 97 minute production and broadcast live on the BBC!
Starring Jason Flemyng (X-Men: First Class, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) as Quatermass, the cast included David Tennant (Doctor Who, Fright Night [2011]) as Dr. Briscoe, Indira Varma (TorchWood, Human Target) as Judith Carroon. and Mark Gattis (Doctor Who, Sherlock) as John Patterson.
While available in England on DVD, it has never been released in the US in any form, nor aired on BBC America!
The 11th Hour Web Magazine did a story about similarities between key plot points of The X-Files (both the series and first feature film) and the Quatermass series, showing how major plot elements from all four mini-series (and the film adaptations) were incorporated into the legendary "mytharc" by Chris Carter.

Finally, the BBC has a kool website devoted to all things Quatermass!
And here's the website for the 2005 remake.
While we catch our breaths, a word from our sponsor
(Oh, wait, that's us!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Captain's Library: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT Part 2

I love it when the strip itself recaps everything for you!
Nigel Kneale, the author of the original mini-series was not happy about the casting of American actor Brian Donlevy as Quatermass.
The American distributor, Lippert Pictures, insisted on name-value US actors as leads to help sell the British films to theatres.
Otherwise they wouldn't put money into the projects.
(When Hammer made a new US distribution deal with Warner Brothers in 1957, the casting requirement was dropped.)

BTW, I had mentioned yesterday that the original mini-series was six half-hour episodes.
They were, in fact, forty minutes each, with no commercials, for a total running time of four hours, which makes the compressing of the whole story into under ninety minutes in this film even more remarkable!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Captain's Library: THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT Part 1

It was a six-part mini-series broadcast live in 1953 on British TV to record ratings!
It was remade in 1955 as the first horror film from Hammer Studios!

If the plot is familiar, but the title isn't, that's because it was released in the US as Creeping Unknown, becoming a late-night tv staple in the 60s-70s.

The British title, Quatermass Xperiment, isn't a typo!
It was deliberately spelled that way to emphasize the fact that the Film Board gave the film the an "X" (Adults-Only) Certificate due to it's gruesome content!
The gimmick worked and the movie was one of 1955's top-grossing pix in England!

The 90-minute Quatermass movie is an amazingly-accurate adaptation of the original 3-hour (six half-hour episodes) mini-series, with the only major change coming at the end of the movie. (We'll be discussing it later.)

BTW, it's not the first Hammer Studios sci-fi film!
(That honor belongs to a little-known 1953 film called Four-Sided Triangle, about two scientists who use a matter-replicator to duplicate a woman they both lust after!
It's not a comedy!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Comix Class: MOVIEMAKING ILLUSTRATED Part 4b SOUNDS Recording, Editing, Mixing

Continuing...a visual explanation of SOUNDS!
(And that ain't as easy as you think!)
Alfred Hitchcock treated them like cattle!
But YOU ain't Hitchcock...yet!
(Perhaps after these lessons you will be!)

(marked down from $19.99 to only $14.99)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Captain's Theatre: CAPTAIN AMERICA "A Phoenix Shall Arise!"

Here's the Power Records adaptation of Captain America & the Falcon #168, "A Phoenix Shall Arise!"

It's the only CA&F tale done by Power, and while it seems like an odd choice, the comic was doing primarily multi-issue stories and finding a complete-in-one tale during that period was difficult.
As it is, the script references a number of events from previous issues of both CA and Avengers!
Despite the problems, it's an exciting tale, well worth reading and listening to!
Written by Roy Thomas and Tony Isabella.
Illustrated by Sal Buscema (pencils) and John Tartaglione & George Roussos (inks).
Cover by Sal Buscema and John Verpoorten.

or these kool dvds and video cassettes from Amazon...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Captain's Library: CAPTAIN AMERICA "Adventures of Captain America" Conclusion

A flashback to 1944 reveals how Captain America and Bucky were sent to investigate rumors that Nazis were attempting to sabotage production of the Captain America movie serial!
When the actor playing Cap is shot and wounded during filming, the real CA steps in to take his place!
And it turns out, the rumors were TRUE...
Dekker had gotten away, and survived until the "present day" (1977) where he...well that's a story for another time.
Story by movie serial expert, animation scripter, and occasional comic book writer Don Glut.
Art by Marvel stalwarts Sal Buscema and Joe Sinnott.
Here's a special Captain Video bonus; a feature from 1964's HTF On the Scene Presents SuperHeroes! one-shot magazine about the real reel-life Captain America...
or these kool dvds and video cassettes from Amazon...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Captain's Library: CAPTAIN AMERICA "Adventures of Captain America" Part 1

Poster from the 1944 movie serial!
We're presenting a slightly-different story this week, a fictional tale on the real-life filming of the reel-life Captain America serial from 1944!

Movie serial authority (and occasional comic book writer) Don Glut pitched a story to Marvel about how Captain America and Bucky ended up working on the Republic Pictures movie serial in order to stop a plot by the Red Skull to sabotage the film's production!
The story, told in flashback, began as Private Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes went on leave...
"Democracy Pictures" = Republic Pictures
"Sundown Dawson" = Sunset Carson, noted 1940s Western b-movie actor.
"Lyle Dekker" = Howard  & Theodore Lydecker, Republic Pictures' SFX wizards
"Glenn Reeper" = stuntman Dale Van Sickel. "Whit Spencer" = directors William Whitney & Spencer Bennett. Everything (except the reason for no Bucky in the serial) is true!
"Tim Irons" = stuntman Tom Steele
"Jet-Man" poster in panel one refers to the "Rocket Man" serial!
The REAL Lydecker Brothers were NOT Nazi agents! ;-)
We're ending today's entry on (what else?) a cliffhanger!
But, it's not just a make-believe one as things are about to turn deadly on-set!
Tune in tomorrow for both
1) the astounding conclusion
2) and some more background info about the movie serial!
or these kool dvds and video cassettes from Amazon...