Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Blair Witch Project is Getting a Second Sequel--Will it Work This Time?

Of the many, many news items that came out of this year's San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), the one that really got my attention was the preview for Blair Witch, the upcoming sequel to the 1999 "found footage" hit The Blair Witch Project. This sequel, which was directed by Adam Wingard, is slated for release in September; up until now, this sequel has flown under the horror fan radar by going under an alternate title, The Woods.

Even though it will be the third film in the franchise, Blair Witch will be a direct sequel to the first movie because of the main character's connection to a major character in the first film. The characters and events of the second film, Book of Shadows (2000), won't be involved in Blair Witch at all. Yet based on what I've seen and read about this sequel so far, it seems like it will follow the same plot beats as the first film: people go into the woods, people become trapped in the woods, people vanish in the woods. Wingard may do a great job in directing this movie, but is this the kind of story that will succeed in moving forward from what the first film started?

This post takes a look at the original Blair Witch Project, what sets it apart from other horror films even to this day, and why making a sequel to it is much harder than making a sequel for other horror films. Read on ...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Attention 3D Film Buffs: September Storm Movie Restoration Kickstarter Campaign

As a 3D film fan, I greatly admire the work of the 3D Film Archive. While the major movie studios push out both theatrical releases and Blu-rays of films that are shot on 2D and then converted into 3D during post-production, the 3D Film Archive has been involved in restorations of vintage films that were shot in 3D (both classic and obscure) in order to preserve their place in American film history. Previous Blu-ray titles that the 3D Film Archive assisted in releasing include Dragonfly Squadron (1954), Gog (1954), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) and 3D Rarities, a compilation of 3D film shorts that span from 1922 to 1962.

3D Film Archive's latest restoration effort utilizes a Kickstarter campaign to restore September Storm (1960). Not only was Storm the only American feature-length 3D movie made between Revenge of the Creature (1955) and The Bubble (1966) but it was also one of the few that was produced in Stereo-Vision, a short-lived process which combined the widescreen presentation format with 3D.

According to the Kickstarter page, "SEPTEMBER STORM hasn't been seen in its intended 3-D and widescreen format since its initial theatrical release in 1960, and the surviving film elements are deteriorating. If a digital restoration of the stereoscopic anamorphic version isn't done soon, it is at risk of being lost forever. ... The 3D Film Archive has already obtained, for a limited time, the rights to restore and distribute SEPTEMBER STORM, but the hard work is still ahead of us. Both the left eye and right eye film elements will need to be digitally scanned, frame by frame. We will need to assess the level of damage to these existing elements, and determine how to best fix the images. This will require a stereoscopic re-alignment pass, left and right color restoration and matching, and clean-up of scratches and other damages to the film surface. ... (T)he 3D Film Archive already has a great track record from its previous restoration projects, and by teaming up with 3D SPACE and maintaining this work "in house" costs will be kept at a manageable level. We are confident that we will be able to produce both a 3D blu-ray master and a digital cinema package (DCP) that will look fantastic."

Click here for more details and to make a donation to preserve another piece of 3D history from an era where many 3D films have already been lost. This Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to end on August 17th, so make your donation today!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Look at Hallmark's Alien Queen Christmas Ornament

Ovipositor, eggs, and cocooned victims not included.

With this year marking the 30th anniversary of Aliens, it only makes sense for Hallmark to release an ornament based on that movie's main monster: the Alien Queen. Read on for my review and more photos of this Aliens collectible.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Greetings from Roswell, New Mexico!

I have no idea what the state of UFO tourism is right now--especially since The X-Files stopped being the cultural phenomenon that it used to be back in the '90s--but Roswell, NM is still open for business. A friend of mine recently made a trip to this flying saucer mecca, and he's letting me post some of the pictures he took (as well as the postcard) of the UFO Museum in Roswell. Click below to see some pictures of this Atomic Age landmark, as well as photos from another UFO display in Erie, PA.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Coming Soon: Distinctive Dummies' Incredible Melting Man Retro Mego Style Figure

In today's world of monster toy collectibles, it seems like nothing is too obscure for the action figure treatment.

Distinctive Dummies (DD for short) has been releasing 8-inch Mego-style action figures for years now, focusing on characters from horror films between the silent era and the 1980s. I've never bought any of DD's products but from what I've seen, they do a limited run of a set of figures before moving on to do another limited run of a new set of figures, and so on. The latest film freak DD has added to its collectibles roster is the titular character from The Incredible Melting Man, a z-grade creature feature from 1977. This figure is part of DD's new "Science Gone Wrong!" set, which will also include figures based on characters from The Manster (1959), Monster on the Campus (1958) and The Wasp Woman (1959).

The only thing that anyone can honestly recommend about the Melting Man movie are the makeup effects that were done be Rick Baker, and I suspect that his impressive work is what keeps the film going in home video circulation to this day. Even the stuff Baker was forced to do on the cheap still holds up, and it obviously paved the way for the parade of splatter-happy gore fests that would follow during the 1980s (e.g., Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead, Society, etc.). However, licensed Melting Man merchandise has been in short supply over the years. Outside of DD's latest figure, that only other Melting Man collectibles I've seen are a resin portrait bust and a garage model kit. It's a shame that a major toy company hasn't pick up the Melting Man license yet: I could imagine one making a figure that comes with packs of red slime to put in the figure's torso, so kids could press a button to watch the "melting" effect happen before their eyes over and over again.

DD's Melting Man figure has a Mego-style body type and cloth suit. The head and hand sculpts look fairly accurate, although the blood and other bodily discharge on the suit looks like it has been painted on with a brush. Then again, the Mego figure template was never known to capture precise details (heck, even Mego's Thing figure from the Fantastic Four used a cloth suit for his rocky orange body), so monster toy collectors who have a preference for Mego probably won't be disappointed.

I'm not sure where collectors can pre-order their Melting Man figure, since the only place I know of that sells them, Monsters in Motion, has already sold out its supply. On the other hand, if you want something more screen accurate, you can also buy Melting Man candles--or "Melting Mandles"--by Stexe on Etsy. Not only are these replicas cheaper than DD's figure, but they actually melt.

The Incredible Melting Man + Sixteen Candles = Melting Mandles.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Kenner Strikes Again: Super 7's Giant Aliens Figure

To paraphrase an old adage, some toys never die ... they just get re-released with new coloring, sculpts and packaging.

Case in point: Kenner's classic 18-inch Alien figure from 1979. Even though it didn't sell well when it was originally released as part of Kenner's poorly planned Alien toy line, it has gone on to have an impressive after-shelf-life. It became a prized item among toy collectors, and some companies in recent years have re-released the original sculpt with various degrees of changes (larger sizes, all silver coloring, all gold coloring, etc.). Now, Super 7 plans to re-release this figure yet again, but this time with sculpt changes to match the Xenomorph's appearance from the first sequel Aliens.

From what I've been able to gather from the prototype pics that I found around the 'net, Super 7's new Xenmorph figure will be ready for this month's San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). The figure will come with exclusive SDCC prototype packaging, so I'm assuming that this figure will be available after SDCC but with a different color scheme and in a different kind of packaging. In keeping with the Xenomorph changes in Aliens, this version of the figure will not feature a removable dome or a skull-like face but it will retain the original design's points of articulation and spring-loaded jaw. Unfortunately, this collectible doesn’t come cheap: it will sell at SDCC for almost $200.

It looks like Super 7 has had a pretty good run with resurrecting Kenner's '70s era Alien merchandise, and this new Xenomorph figure marks the second item in this series to feature the Aliens name. The first item was a three-piece action figure set that included a 3 and 3/4th-inch Ripley figure, an Alien Queen, and a scale-accurate Power Loader. Whether Super 7 will release more Kenner-style figures based on Aliens (or any other Alien sequel or prequel) remains to be seen.

Super 7's three-piece Aliens figure set.