The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Richard Diamond, Private Eye

Monday, April 27th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Diamond_PowellA topic that I’ve long intended to visit is that of old time radio shows. Of course, it’s no surprise that Sherlock Holmes has been a popular subject for radio dramas. Arthur Wontner (who I’m sure you read about here) and William Gillette (again, here…) reprised their film roles for radio.

Richard Gordon, John Stanley and Richard Hobbs had long runs as Holmes. And of course, the most popular film Holmes, Basil Rathbone, had a long-running serial with his Watson, Nigel Bruce.

More recently, Clive Merrison starred in the entire Canon (and more) for BBC Radio. Also, Jim French’s Imagination Theater features new Holmes radio dramas (along with several other characters). I’ll certainly be writing about that one.

In the forties and fifties, detectives, newspaper reporters and even insurance investigators were popular heroes for radio dramas. Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, The Fat Man (ostensibly created by Dashiell Hammett) and Johnny Dollar were some of the radio stars of the day. One of the most fun was Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

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The Fantasy and Science Fiction Films of Thomas Edison

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

The original Frankenstein's monster from the 1910 Edison film.

The original Frankenstein’s monster from the 1910 Edison film.

In the annals of early silent film, the name Thomas Edison stands out prominently. The American inventor racked up a series of firsts–building the first film studio in the U.S., registering the first copyright for a film in the U.S., making the first sound film in the U.S. (and arguably the world), and many other innovations.

Edison Studios was launched in 1894 and ran until 1918, when an antitrust lawsuit led Edison to sell the company. In that time, the studio’s host of directors made almost 1300 films. The vast majority were shorts, with the earliest efforts being “actualities” such as The Sneeze (1894) and the historically interesting Sioux Ghost Dance (1894). For the first few years of film, simply seeing people moving on screen was enough, but soon audiences wanted stories. Edison Studios churned out dozens of shorts a month, most of them rather forgettable comedies or dramas as well as a few Westerns such as the very first in the genre, The Great Train Robbery (1903).

A few, however, broke new ground in fantasy, science fiction, and horror. The most notable are The Night Before Christmas (1905), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1910), A Christmas Carol (1910), Frankenstein (1910), A Trip to Mars (1910), and the powerful The Land Beyond the Sunset (1912). Click the links to watch the movies. None are longer than 13 minutes. Spoilers are coming.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Peter O’Toole as Holmes

Monday, April 13th, 2015 | Posted by Bob Byrne

O'Toole_ValleyCoverAs famous a (costumed) character as Sherlock Holmes is, it is no surprise that he has lent himself to animation. Of course, you’ve seen images of Daffy Duck, Snoopy and Mickey Mouse, among many others, imitating Holmes: usually with an oversized magnifying glass.

Actual Holmes characters can be found in such animated efforts as Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (Watson is a robot) and Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes. Of course, Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective features Basil of Baker Street, an excellent, if tiny, Holmes.

In 1983, Burbank Films produced forty-five minute animated versions of Doyle’s four Holmes novellas: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. To voice the great detective for the television movies, they tapped eight-time Academy Award nominee Peter O’Toole (he did receive an Honorary Award in 2003).

O’Toole, who passed away in 2013, had a long, successful career in films, was best known for his sweeping performance in Lawrence of Arabia.

He was a solid, if not inspired, choice for these four productions. O’Toole’s manner and delivery, while rather flat, fits the animated Holmes well. An antic, Jeremy Brett portrayal wouldn’t have worked as well. I can see how some folks don’t like O’Toole’s almost constant monotone. But for me, it works here.

It’s Elementary – Billy Wilder envisioned a Holmes/Watson pairing of O’Toole and Peter Sellers for his The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, but could not pull it off.

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80′s Barbarian Showdown: Conan vs. Beastmaster

Monday, April 6th, 2015 | Posted by Brandon Engel

The BeastmasterNo discussion of early ’80′s film and movie subgenres would be complete without mentioning the sword and sorcery segment of fantasy films that included such gems as Conan the Barbarian and The Beastmaster, both released in 1982.

Coinciding with the continued popularity of such fantasy role-playing games as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, both the subgenre and these films quickly found a devoted following. As contemporary sword and sorcery fans prepare for the latest book from George R. R. Martin, let’s take a look back at the 80’s swashbucklers which helped to establish modern trends.

But let’s settle something, too — which hulking, loincloth clad swashbuckler reigns supreme — The Beastmaster’s Dar, or Conan?

The Barbarian King of the Sword and Sorcery Subgenre

When considering this subgenre, inevitably Conan the Barbarian is one of the first names to pop up. Conan was a forerunner for many popular titles that came after. He first appeared in pulp stories penned by Robert E. Howard in the 1930′s (which even predated J.R.R. Tolkien’s best-known fantasy fiction).

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Ode to the Sacrificed On the Battlefield (Or Before. And After)

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

I started planning this post by thinking: Hey, Good Friday, awesome time for a post on sword and sorcery crucifixion. That evolved into: okay, that might be in poor taste (that’s personal growth, that right there). How about just on hero sacrifice, then? They bring us lessons by sacrificing stuff, right?

I am He-Mullet!

I am He-Mullet!

Yes, right. And the stuff (or people, whatever) they sacrifice is often forgotten by the time we’re screaming cheers and profanities during the final battle. We feel that something good has been accomplished and we forget everything that was left behind. Well, no more. Today, let us take a moment to ponder these sacrifices.

Hair
Let’s just start this with an important one, with a view to the 80s movies boom of S&S (sounds kind of Fifty Shade-ish when it’s put like that. Ha.) A mullet covered in lice is just not an easy look to pull off. Sadly much hair was sacrificed in the name of victory.

Weapons
So many weapons are cast aside. They’re special for one scene, then they get stuck in a rib cage and game over. Just abandoned like it never mattered. Let us remind the swords that yes, they did matter.

Rib Cages
On the same line, with the sword stuck in them and all. Perhaps if it had been protected by more than a bikini, the story could have ended differently .

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Goth Chick News: Arnold Schwarzenegger (is not) the Zombie Terminator

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Arnold Schwarzenegger may be back in his cold steel Terminator role later this year, but first it looks like he’s going to get all warm and gooey.

In a new film called Maggie, Schwarzenegger plays a loving father to a teen daughter he’s doing his best to protect at the peak of a zombie apocalypse. When Maggie becomes infected, the all-consuming virus begins to transform her into an undead creature with a budding appetite for human brains. Wade stands by her and attempts to ward off the authorities who are trying to collect her for quarantine and termination. Though her condition worsens, Wade is firm in his love; although Maggie would like him to save himself from the disease that is undoing her humanity.

Schwarzenegger manages all this while dropping only a few manly tears and sporting a grief beard that would put Tyrion Lannister to shame; though I’ll bet you an adult beverage that sometime before the credits roll we’ll see Arnie doing what he does best, involving fire and heavy weaponry.

Freshman Henry Hobson is in the director’s chair, and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine and Zombieland) stars as Schwarzenegger’s ill-fated daughter. Maggie is scheduled to hit theaters May 8th.


New Treasures: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl-smallThe Haunting of Sunshine Girl is a popular YouTube web series starring Paige McKenzie, created by Nick Hagen and Mercedes Rose. The series focuses of 16-year old Sunshine following her move to Washington state from Texas with her mother, as she enters a new school, meets new friends (and boys)… and discovers her hew house is haunted by a host of malevolent spirits.

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is the first book based on the web serial, and it has received a lot of attention all on its own. Written by star Paige McKenzie and author Alyssa B. Sheinmel (Second Star, The Beautiful Between), it is the opening book in a promising horror series aimed at young adults.

Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother Kat move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just … creepy.

In the days that follow, things only get stranger. Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become more frightening — and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger — Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was published by Weinstein Books on March 24, 2015. It is 304 pages, priced at $16 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition. Check out the YouTube series here.


Goth Chick News: A Horror Convention Starring Bud Bundy? Read On…

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Norman Reedus at Wizard World’s Fan Fest

Norman Reedus at Wizard World’s Fan Fest

If you’re the kind of person who gets misty-eyed with nostalgia when you hear sitcom titles like Growing Pains, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Married With Children, then Wizard World’s Fan Fest which took place March 7-8 in Chicago would have been just the place for you.

And if you’re considering possible explanations for how the heck I ended up there (dragging BG photog Chris Z along for fun), the answer is no – I did not have a fever or a head injury.

There is a darn good explanation actually.

Fan Fest came to be when Bruce Campbell, the cult-favorite TV and movie actor, had to cancel his appearance at the Bruce Campbell Horror Fest because of a television commitment. The horror fest was scheduled to take place that weekend and Goth Chick News had been invited to attend.

“We knew we couldn’t continue to hold the Bruce Campbell Horror Fest without Bruce Campbell!” said Jerry Milani of Wizard Entertainment. “But it also seemed a shame to let the weekend go to waste, since we already had the date and the venue.”

And so, the idea of Fan Fest was born. Organizers quickly secured a lineup of actors along with celebrities from the comic-book and pro-wrestling worlds. (The Bruce Campbell event has been rescheduled to take place in August with Wizard World’s Chicago Comic Con.)

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What Are the Best Star Trek Original Series Episodes for Kids?

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

Why+i+m+captain+thats+why+i+command+the+flagship_6d81f9_4027040

When I’m not writing for all you fine folks, I’m generally hanging out with my nine-year-old son, a budding engineer and scientist. If you have an intellectually curious child it’s best to feed their head, so we give him a steady diet of Lego Tech sets, electronics kits, and educational shows.

(Thank you, National Geographic, for getting my kid to actually ask to see documentaries on Saturday mornings.)

As we all know, there’s nothing better for a young mind than some good science fiction, so we’ve been watching Original Series Star Trek. The blend of action, humor, science, sociology, and good old silliness is what makes the program a classic. It’s hard to pick which episodes are the most fun for kids, so I gathered a panel of experts (i.e., my Facebook friends) and asked them. It turns out many parents agree on the best episodes.

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Belated Movie Reviews #3: Blood of Heroes

Saturday, March 21st, 2015 | Posted by Adrian Simmons

The Blood of Heroes poster-smallThe 80s were quite a time for movies (word has even reached me that certain millennials have discovered the decade over at Tor.com), and some of my favorites are firmly rooted in that era — and one of my favorites from that decade is the 1989 Rutgur Hauer, Joan Chen, Vincent “REH” D’Onofrio effort The Blood of Heroes (BoH).

BoH stands both above and beside the many other dystopian movies for being a post-apocalyptic sports movie. And here’s the thing — that is ALL it is.

The apocalypse that put the world into such a sorry state? Not discussed — too busy trying to put a dog skull on a stake.

The high-tech dingus that will turn things around? That doesn’t happen in this movie — too busy winning matches in the hinterlands.

The guy-who-knows-the-only-weakness-of-Lord Motherraper? Also does not happen. Gotta win matches in the hinterlands to get into the Red City match.

But surely Joan Chen is going to get revenge on Lord Motherraper for murdering her family when he was roaming the world for steel and they wouldn’t name another target, a military target.

NO! Her family is alive and well, she just wants more out of her life than sustenance farming. And that means being a kwik for a team of juggers, sticking dog skulls on stakes in the hinterlands to win enough matches to play in the Red City and the big leagues!

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