Susan King

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 […]
Oct. 25, 2011 | 1:00 p.m.

‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ director: Pure imagination

Mel Stuart
Tim Burton’s eccentric and lavish 2005 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, earned good reviews and more than $475 million worldwide. But the version that still gets a big, sweet conversation heart from fans after 40 years is the 1971 “Willy Wonka &  the Chocolate Factory,” which was made for about $147 million less than Burton’s. Directed by Mel Stuart from a script by Dahl, the first “Willy Wonka” stars Gene Wilder as the mysterious candy man and Peter Ostrum as Charlie, the poor young boy who gets a golden ticket to visit Wonka’s chocolate factory. The fantasy also features a score written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, which includes the hit tune “The Candy Man” and the song “Pure Imagination.” (The latter recently served as the backdrop […]
Oct. 14, 2011 | 4:09 p.m.

Scream Awards: ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’s’ June Foray voices her joy

June Foray, the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel and many others, at home in June 2000. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Hokey smoke! June Foray, who supplied the voices of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale and Nell Fenwick on the classic “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” is set to receive the Comic-Con Icon Award at the 2011 Scream Awards, which will be taped Saturday evening at Universal Studios and will premiere Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Spike TV. The Scream Awards — which honor all things sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comic books — will also present special awards to the “Harry Potter” films, Robert Downey Jr., Nicolas Cage and Paul Reubens. Foray’s career has spanned radio, theatrical shorts, feature films, albums, video games, talking dolls and TV. She provided the voice of Talking Tina, who kills Telly Savalas on the “Living Doll” episode of “The Twilight Zone.”  The diminutive Foray, who is all of 4 feet 11 inches, has done animation […]
Oct. 05, 2011 | 12:23 p.m.

John Landis celebrates movie monsters in new book

Werewolf (featured image)
John Landis is best known for his hit comedies — films such as 1978’s “Animal House,” 1980’s “The Blues Brothers,” 1983’s “Trading Places” and 1988’s “Coming to America” — but he’s also walked on the dark side. The 61-year-old directed the 1981 horror classic “An American Werewolf in London,” which featured Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning makeup design. Landis and Baker reunited two years later for Michael Jackson’s landmark 1983 music video “Thriller,” and in 1992, Landis directed the vampire movie “Innocent Blood.” Now he’s exploring his love of the genre in the new book “Monsters in the Movies: 100 Years of Cinematic Nightmares.” The 320-page book, which features glorious photographs from the famed John Kobal Collection, is divided into types of monsters: vampires, werewolves, mad scientists, zombies, ghosts and mummies. Landis also engages in conversation with his longtime friends who have […]
July 14, 2011 | 6:16 p.m.

‘Forbidden Planet’ artists talk sci-fi classic and the sounds of space

forbiddenplanet400
MGM’s 1956 sci-fi classic “Forbidden Planet” was an anomaly for the Hollywood dream factory that was known for its lush Technicolor musicals, adaptations of literary works and star-driven dramas and comedies. It represented the studio’s first foray into the sci-fi genre. “It was rare enough that any of the major studios made sci-fi,” said Oscar-winning sound designer Ben Burtt (“Star Wars,” “Wall-E”), who saw the film as a boy in 1956. Burtt and Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor Craig Barron (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) are hosting a sold-out digital screening of “Forbidden Planet” Saturday evening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Linwood Dunn Theater. Before the movie, the two will discuss the secrets behind its production. The event also kicks off a free exhibition in the lobby of the Linwood Dunn, “Forbidden Planet: Artifacts from the […]
June 30, 2011 | 12:45 p.m.

Tim Burton: Nine monster movies that inspired him

thisislandearth-cp
Tim Burton’s  gleefully macabre aesthetic is currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — the exhibition that bears the filmmaker’s name and runs through Halloween brings together more than 700 drawings, paintings, photographs, film and video works, storyboards, puppets, concept art, costumes and other movie memorabilia. During a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, the Burbank-born director talked about the influence classic monster movies have had on his life’s work, and picking up on that theme, the museum this weekend will launch a Saturday Monster Matinee series spotlighting nine films that are close to Burton’s heart. Here’s a look at the lineup: “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” (1958): Directed by Nathan Juran, the film was the first of three “Sinbad” movies Columbia produced that special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen designed and animated with the dazzling […]
June 01, 2011 | 6:23 a.m.

‘Lion King’ in 3-D: Moviegoers can return to the jungle in September

"The Lion King" (Walt Disney Studios)
On the heels of the announcement that the 1997 Oscar-winning blockbuster “Titanic” would be sailing into theaters next year in a 3-D edition, Walt Disney Studios announced that its 1994 Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning animated classic “The Lion King” would be returning to theaters Sept. 16 in a new Disney Digital 3-D edition. After the two-week theatrical engagement, Simba, Mufasa, Nala and the gang will make its 3-D and 2-D Blu-ray debut on Oct. 15. “The Lion King” has been a major cash cow for Disney. Disney is reporting that the movie — which features Hans Zimmer’s Oscar-winning score and Elton John and Tim Rice’s Academy Award-winning “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” – is the bestselling home entertainment release of all time. Not only that, it also roared its way to a worldwide box-office tally of $783.9 million. The […]
May 18, 2011 | 5:56 a.m.

‘Dracula,’ ‘Mark of the Vampire’ bring vintage bite to Aero Theatre

Dracula
Tod Browning’s films were often unsettling, shocking and disturbing. They were populated with freaks, geeks, carny folk, ruthless people and vampires. Though his best-known film is 1931’s “Dracula,” with Bela Lugosi, his greatest productions were his collaboration with the “Man of a Thousand Faces,” Lon Chaney. So it seems only appropriate that two of his legendary films with Chaney: 1925’s “The Unholy Three” and 1927’s “The Unknown” open “American Gothic: A Tod Browning Retrospective” on Thursday evening at the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre. Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1880, Browning began performing and singing as a youngster. He ran away from  home at 16 and joined a circus, where he went from carnival baker to contortionist. Many of his films revolve around circuses. He later went into vaudeville and was introduced to D.W. Griffith in 1913 by an old vaudeville partner. […]
May 08, 2011 | 7:29 p.m.

‘The Curse of the Werewolf': Oliver Reed found the beast inside 50 years ago

Curse of the Werewolf
There was always something menacing about British actor Oliver Reed. He had a thick bull neck, a sinewy frame, dark eyes, a noticeable scar on his face and a flat nose. He was a notorious boozer and rabble-rouser,too, a life as rough as his visage. The presentation wasn’t always gentle, either; when he appeared in the 1980s on David Letterman’s show, for instance, he would answer questions only in German. If there was a beast inside, it came out during his first starring role, the blood-curdling “The Curse of the Werewolf” from 1961. The only werewolf film from Hammer Film Productions, the Terence Fisher film was feted Saturday night at Pitzer College in Claremont with a 50th anniversary celebration that  featured a life-size sculpture of the hirsute monster, a creation of Mike Hill. “The Curse of the Werewolf” finds Reed at his hair-raising best as […]
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