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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #275  (Vol. 6, No. 26)  This edition is for the week of June 27--July 3, 2005.

The Sanford Summit, Part One
 by William Moriaty
"War of the Worlds"
 by Mike Smith
NolanCon Cancellation .... Fantastic Films Magazine Revisited, Part 1....Bob Newhart Patient Dies
 by Andy Lalino
"Land of the Dead"...."Batman Begins" rating....Comics Talk
 by John Lewis
Happy 4th....NolanCon....Masters of Horror
 by Matt Drinnenberg
NolanCon....The Curse of the Pooh....Stupid People....Terence Must Be Smiling....You Talking To Me?...Jaws: The Story, Part 23
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

NolanCon Cancellation
I think I speak for all fanboys in saying that we are all very sorry to hear about the cancellation of NolanCon, which was shaping up to be the convention of a lifetime. Steckler, Rebane, Rochon, the Dr. Paul Bearer tribute, the Blade reunion - it surely would have had us experience some of the most unforgettable moments of our lives.

All is not lost, however; I'm sure Nolan still has plans for his big birthday bash, which I suspect will incorporate DPB in some of the festivities, and perhaps a fanboy summit. Please keep us informed, O Bearded One.

Fantastic Films Magazine Revisited (Vol. 1, #4 - October 1978) - Part 1
One of my favorite pastimes is yanking out a yellowing copy of my old sci-fi/horror mags from the late '70s/early '80s (you know, the days when you could purchase Fangoria and Starlog at Eckerd Drugs or your local gas station) and reading them before bedtime. This time I decided it would be Fantastic Films, a great magazine just oozing with great sci-fi and special effects articles. Each page is a fascinating remembrance at how the scene was back in the glory days of fandom (when it was actually exciting). After over 25 years had passed, I thought it would be a trip to read some of the Fantastic Films articles and include some veteran fanboy commentary.

The Cover: The main graphic of the cover features an animated film that was never released! "Metamorphosis" is a 1978 fully animated film (made in Japan by animator Takashi) based on the greatest work of the Roman poet Ovid. Other cover graphics include: Bakshi's "The Lord of the Rings" (yes, youngsters, there was a version before Jackson's) and an interview with CE3K modelmaker Greg Jein.

"Move That Monster, Mister!" an interview with Ray Harryhausen, Master of Stop-Motion Model Animation FF #4 kicks off with an excelsior, informative chat with one of the great ones, Ray Harryhausen. True-to-form for a late '70s publication, they idolized past giants, and deemed Harryhausen well-deserving of the spotlight (in '78, Harryhausen was coming off the release of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger in 1977, and was soon to gear up for Clash of the Titans in '81 - his last film).

In the late '70s, SPFX artists were becoming big stars in their own right (John Dykstra, Brian Johnson, Doug Trumbull), and it was common to see interviews/feature articles on this burgeoning industry. The fine interview chronicles the genesis of his career, when Willis O' Brien's King Kong changed his life. Living in L.A. at the time (Harryhausen attended USC), he was able to go to the Kong premiere at Grauman's. His recollection is fascinating - there was a giant Kong head hidden in some phony bushes, and there were (real) pink flamingoes "strutting about" the scene. What a moment that must have been!

Fans may recall Harryhausen's first stop motion feature film work was for Mighty Joe Young, assisting the legendary Willis O' Brien. Previously, Harryhausen had done animation for military films (Why We Fight) and some experimental indies (Evolution, a 16mm effort), so he was all to happy to assist O' Brien on what was soon to become a minor, Kong-esque classic.

In the '50s, Harryhausen followed up with big beast & sci-fi shockers. Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (based on a Ray Bradbury book, "The Foghorn") are sufficiently chronicled, with Harryhausen musing about why, due to budgetary constraints, the famous octopus in It Came from Beneath the Sea only had six tentacles. "Got $20,000 off the cost of the film right there", Harryhausen quipped. I also learned that Harryhausen took on EvTFS because he had a keen interest in U.F.O.'s.

Twenty Million Miles to Earth is one of Harryhausen's best-loved features. Turns out he made it so he could vacation in Europe! You may recall it's set in Italy. Harryhausen had another interesting idea of a monster movie (that sadly was never made) set in Paris called The Elementals, which featured bat-like creatures that roost upside-down in the Eiffel Tower.

Fantastic Films magazine always did a great service to the fanboy by showcasing many full-color photographs of the featured films in their articles. The Harryhausen interview is no exception. The interview is long - 13 pages - and is supplemented by many photos and behind-the-scenes stills, as well as storyboard artwork. Here we get a rare glimpse into the pre-production world of Ray Harryhausen. I was amazed at how closely his storyboards resembled the finished work; the Ymir for example. Harryhausen states he relies on the boards to prepare him for the grueling animation sequences.

More Harryhausen come in Part 2 of Fantastic Films Revisited!

Bob Newhart Patient Dies
I was sad to hear about the passing of noted character actor John Fiedler, one of my favorite patients of Dr. Hartley (Bob Newhart) from the classic '70s sitcom The Bob Newhart Show. Fiedler played the unforgettable Mr. Peterson, the mousy one in the group. Fiedler also voiced Winnie the Pooh in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day in 1968. Ironically, he died the same week as Paul Winchell, who voiced Tigger.

"Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.