May 21, 2015 | 1:20 p.m.
It’s an image ingrained in the memory of horror film fans: A little girl in front of a static-filled television set, holding out her hands to touch the whispering screen. As director Gil Kenan’s remake of “Poltergeist” opens in theaters Friday, this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday revisits the seminal original, about a suburban family whose young daughter Carol Anne communicates with spirits who can throw objects, move furniture and manipulate weather. “Poltergeist,” co-produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg, stepped into the light on June 4, 1982. The film, which contained no graphic sex, no slasher gore and no deaths, was frightening enough to spark a ratings controversy. The MPAA initially gave it an R rating because “cumulative effect” was “too intense,” co-producer Frank Marshall told The Times before the film’s release. Spielberg was so upset about the R rating, […]
May 15, 2015 | 12:07 p.m.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is revving into theaters this weekend, accompanied by rave reviews and high box office predictions. But when the original “Mad Max” film arrived in the U.S. in 1980, film critic Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called it “a textbook example of how not to make a film.” Champlin criticized nearly everything about the movie, including young lead Mel Gibson (“boyishly bland”), the villains (“indistinguishable vrooming beings”), the set, the supporting characters and the “inappropriate” soundtrack. “You are left with a lot of burnt rubber and bent metal and little evidence of creative imagination,” Champlin wrote. Champlin certainly wasn’t the only critic who wasn’t impressed by George Miller’s low-budget, post-apocalyptic action flick. The New York Times’ Tom Buckley criticized its “flimsy” plot and said the film was “ugly and incoherent, and aimed, probably accurately, at […]
May 14, 2015 | 1:33 p.m.
With “Mad Max: Fury Road” crashing into theaters Thursday evening, this week’s Throwback Thursday column recalls the first installment in the “Mad Max” series. Australian director George Miller’s dystopian tale starred Aussie actor Mel Gibson as protagonist Max Rockatansky, a widower on a quest for vengeance, and introduced the young actor to an international audience. “Mad Max” made its debut Down Under on April 12, 1979; American audiences had to wait until May 2, 1980. Though critics were split, public reception was positive and the film grossed nearly $100 million worldwide and earned a nomination for best original screenplay (by Miller and James McCausland) from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. The film was also nominated for best film and direction and won for editing, original music score and sound. Not everyone was impressed. Los Angeles Times movie […]
May 08, 2015 | 5:11 p.m.
Today’s theatrical release of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest film, “Maggie,” offers a chance to revisit “Conan the Barbarian,” the 1982 film which helped establish the former bodybuilder as a bona fide action star. Though Schwarzenegger had acted in previous films, “Conan” served as a breakout role. The cinematic tale revolves around Conan’s quest to avenge his parents’ deaths, after seeing them die at the hands of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the leader of a cult of snake-worshipers. Schwarzenegger’s physique was the embodiment of the fantasy hero as depicted by illustrator Frank Frazetta. The Cimmerian was created by Robert E. Howard for Weird Tales Magazine in 1932, but Frazetta is credited for redefining the graphic representation of Conan in the 1960s. “If ever there was a Frazetta hero come alive, it’s Schwarzenegger, who developed his awesome bulk with a careful eye […]
April 30, 2015 | 9:55 a.m.
With “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” hitting U.S. theaters tonight, this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday revisits “Iron Man,” the film that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released seven years ago this weekend, on May 2, 2008, “Iron Man” followed the success of Sony’s “Spider-Man” and Fox’s “X-Men.” “Iron Man” opened to positive reviews, and ticket sales skyrocketed. The film earned $102 million during opening weekend and eventually grossed $585 million at the international box office. Comic book fans and critics praised Robert Downey Jr.’s cocky performance as billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark, validating what had been seen as a questionable casting decision. “There were people in our company who directly said, ‘No. You can’t [cast Downey]. Next,” Marvel Studios President and producer Kevin Feige told The Times shortly before the film’s release. But Feige and director Jon Favreau […]
April 23, 2015 | 11:38 a.m.
In this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday, we remember “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” a 12-issue maxi series published by DC Comics 30 years ago this month. It was an event so significant that DC Comics history is often discussed in terms of before-“Crisis” and after-“Crisis” eras. (For those who missed last week’s introduction, Throwback Thursday is a new weekly series exploring the rich history of sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comics.) The series, which ran from April 1985 through March 1986, involved nearly every important character on DC’s roster and dealt with many of the publisher’s pesky continuity issues. Over the years, special issues introduced alternate Earths within universes that had different versions of the DC superheroes and villains. Some characters, such as Superman, Flash, the Atom and Green Lantern, had conflicting storylines, origins and powers, leading to arguments among fans […]
April 16, 2015 | 5:26 p.m.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Hero Complex’s new Throwback Thursday series. In this series, Hero Complex will guide you through the rich history of science fiction, fantasy, horror and comic book entertainment. With the Star Wars Celebration fan expo underway at the Anaheim Convention Center, it’s only fitting that this week’s Throwback Thursday honors one of the films in George Lucas’ groundbreaking “Star Wars” trilogy — “The Empire Strikes Back,” which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. The film, which was later renamed “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,” was met with fan anticipation and critical acclaim when it opened in theaters May 21, 1980. In his review, Times film critic Charles Champlin had nothing but praise for the film, calling it “richly imaginative, engrossing and spectacular.” As the followup to 1977’s “Star Wars,” which was […]