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Jan. 25, 2013 | 5:47 p.m.

Angus Scrimm, ‘Phantasm’s’ Tall Man, still a striking presence

Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man in 'Phantasm' (featured image)
Angus Scrimm always thought that he would be the star of “sophisticated, witty drawing-room comedies.” But instead of making people laugh, Scrimm’s been scaring the heck out of audiences as the malevolent “Tall Man” in Don Coscarelli’s 1979 cult horror favorite “Phantasm” and its three popular sequels. Scrimm’s Tall Man is one of the great icons of R-rated horror films. A menacing mortician with a grotesque stare and superhuman strength — he can pick up and throw a casket into the back of a hearse like it’s a paper towel — the Tall Man transforms the dead into zombie dwarfs that do his evil bidding. His weapon of choice is also memorable: a deadly silver sphere that hurls through the air and attaches itself to his victims’ faces. It’s because of the Tall Man plus his roles in such horror […]
Oct. 17, 2012 | 4:56 p.m.

Universal horror: ‘Essential’ Blu-ray spotlights classic actors

"Dracula" (Los Angeles Times archives)
The month of October has been a big one for fans of Universal’s landmark horror films — the classic movies have not only been the subject of an ongoing tribute at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences here in Los Angeles but they’ve also been reissued on Blu-ray as part of a new set, “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection.” The set includes eight of the seminal films from the studio’s golden age of horror. In order to commemorate its 100th anniversary, the studio painstakingly restored the picture and sound of the classic films in its library, the legendary horror movies among them. The set features pristine iterations of Tod Browning’s 1931 “Dracula,” and the Spanish-language version starring Carlos Villarias and Lupita Tovar that was shot concurrently with Browning’s production; James Whale’s 1931 “Frankenstein” and 1935’s “Bride of […]
Oct. 08, 2012 | 6:53 p.m.

‘E.T.': Kathleen Kennedy on Spielberg, Lucas and making of a classic

Kathleen Kennedy, producer of "E.T.," holds drawings of the now-beloved extraterrestrial. Astrid Kamar, center, and her husband, Pascal, show off an E.T. toy. Pascal Kamar's company was the first licensed to make the E.T. plush toy. (Courtesy Joy Kamar)
Kathleen Kennedy has a résumé nearly unmatched in Hollywood — over the years, she’s produced such respected films as “The Color Purple,” “Empire of the Sun,” “Jurassic Park,” “The Sixth Sense,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and the upcoming historical epic, “Lincoln.” In June, George Lucas named Kennedy, 59, as co-chair for his vast Lucasfilm empire. One prominent feature of her lengthy filmography is Kennedy’s long-running collaboration with Steven Spielberg — she first worked with him as a production assistant on his costly flop, “1941,” then as associate producer on 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark”; along with her husband, producer Frank Marshall, and Spielberg, she created the successful production company Amblin and served as its president until 1992, when she and Marshall formed the Kennedy/Marshall Co. Her first producer credit came in 1982 with Spielberg’s beloved boy-and-his-alien fantasy […]
Oct. 04, 2012 | 7:00 a.m.

James Bond: A tuneful 50-year overview from the movie academy

Sean Connery as James bond in"Goldfinger." (MGM)
This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details. Over the last half-century, the actors who have played James Bond have come and gone, and so have the type of villains that the sexy, martini-drinking 007 thwarts before the final credits. But there’s been one constant in the Bond films: “The James Bond Theme,” penned by British songwriter Monty Norman and arranged by composer John Barry for the first Bond film, 1962’s “Dr. No.” And during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “The Music of Bond: The First 50 Years” celebration Friday evening — which also will mark the 50th anniversary of “Dr. No” opening in England — at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, guitarist Vic Flick, who supplied the famous guitar lick for the jazzy theme, will be playing that music on […]
July 03, 2012 | 7:30 p.m.

‘Twilight Zone': Dark magic and alien charms, revisited

To enter "The Twilight Zone," click through the photo gallery... (photo credit: CBS)
“This is the fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the Twilight Zone.” With those lines, delivered by Rod Serling with his distinctive diction and deep voice, the television audience of America took its first step into an eerie, one-of-a-kind corner of television storytelling. The CBS anthology series was revolutionary so it’s fitting that Syfy will air an Independence Day “Twilight Zone” marathon that begins Wednesday at 8 a.m. and wraps up 5 a.m. Thursday. To celebrate this exploration into the surreal and frightening, here are some fast  facts and trivia about […]
March 11, 2012 | 3:19 p.m.

Ralph Bakshi recalls ‘Wizards’ and a controversial career

ralph-bakshi4
Groundbreaking animator Ralph Bakshi, who caused a sensation with the first X-rated cartoon feature — 1972’s “Fritz the Cat,” based on Robert Crumb’s comic strip — is 73 now. For the last decade, he has lived in a home on top of a mountain in New Mexico. He has a website created by his daughter, teaches animation and makes a good living selling his paintings. “I am very happy,” Bakshi said recently in a phone interview. But that wasn’t the case for a long time. “I was working seven days a week keeping an entire movie in my head,” Bakshi said. “It was just so hard. I thought I had failed. Let me be perfectly clear: When I left the business I was burned out. I was exhausted from the fights. So many of my films were cut up, chopped […]
Dec. 21, 2011 | 1:51 p.m.

Mel Gibson returns: ‘Mad Max’ marathon will include onstage Q&A

Mel Gibson (featured image)
Mel Gibson is going back into the Thunderdome of public opinion. The actor, filmmaker and polarizing persona will appear onstage on Jan. 21 for a “Mad Max” triple feature at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Gibson will sit for a Q&A at the American Cinematheque event that will include screenings of “Mad Max,” “The Road Warrior” and “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” the post-apocalyptic action trilogy that helped launch Gibson’s star in America. The films were directed by George Miller (the third one had George Ogilvie as co-director) and he has plans now to return to the brand with a fourth film, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” this time starring British actor Tom Hardy, who is also playing the villain Bane in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.” For Gibson, who turns 56 next month, the event is a way to focus on his silver-screen glory. But […]
Dec. 06, 2011 | 10:26 a.m.

Walt Disney: A life in photos

Walt Disney (featured image)
It was 110 years ago this week that Walter Elias Disney was born on the west side of Chicago. He would go on to become a titan in American popular culture, a man whose name became a global brand name of highest order. There have been many, many things written about Disney through the decades: about his heritage and life trajectory; his collaborations both famous and unexpected; his business acumen; his politics and prejudices; and, most often, his legacy and proper place in history. Sometimes, though, we connect best with history by studying the lines of its face and trying to peer into the eyes of the past. With that in mind, we bring the above photo gallery, which shows snapshots of a life marked by big gambles and truly rare vision. Be sure to click the “CAPTIONS ON”option to see the photos, which are also courtesy of D23. […]
Nov. 11, 2011 | 5:27 p.m.

‘Mysterious Island': The past (and future) of Jules Verne classic

Mysterious Island and Dwayne Johnson (featured image)
It was 137 years ago that Jules Verne first took his readers to the strange South Pacific environs of “The Mysterious Island” but the bookshelf sensation still clearly casts a spell in Hollywood — just consider the upcoming “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” a liberal updating of the classic tale packaged as a sequel to the 2008 film “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D,” which also mined Verne for adventure concepts. Verne’s imagination has launched plenty of Hollywood projects — “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Journey to the Moon” and “Around the World in 80 Days” spring to mind — and “The Mysterious Island” has been visited often by studios in search of screen spectacle. Sometimes the actual novel itself doesn’t survive the trip to the screen — a 1929 part-talkie/part-silent film adaptation with Lionel Barrymore had almost had nothing to do with the original […]
Oct. 29, 2011 | 10:12 a.m.

Terry Castle talks ‘House on Haunted Hill,’ ‘The Tingler’

House on Haunted Hill (featured image)
Producer/director William Castle, who died in 1977 at the age of 63, may not have been the greatest horror filmmaker, but he was one of its most ingenious. A master showman who would appear in the trailers for his own films boasting a cigar, wide grin and a tongue-in-cheek demeanor, Castle would invite audiences to enjoy the chills and thrill of his films such as 1959’s “House on Haunted Hill” and “The Tingler,” and 1964’s “Strait-Jacket.” And a lot of his films had a gimmick: “House on Haunted Hill” came with “Emergo,” which was a fancy rigging system that allowed a plastic skeleton to fly over the audience at certain times in the movie. “The Tingler,” which screens on Halloween at the Cinefamily’s Silent Movie Theatre, had Percepto, which featured buzzers wired to the audiences’ seats that would give them […]
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