First of the Fifties

destinationmoon Movie producer George Pal with Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis
Movie producer George Pal with Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis

 

Destination Moon produced by George Pal, is widely considered the first science fiction film to attempt a high level of accurate technical detail. Filmed in Technicolor, based on a book by Robert Heinlein, adapted for the screen by Alford Van Ronkel and James O’Hanlon, the film was released on June 27, 1950 in New York and on August 1, 1950 all over the United States. Background scenery and outer space scenes were created by Chesley Bonestell. Actually, the movie Rocketship X-M was released 25 days before Destination Moon. Because of the publicity buzz surrounding Destination Moon, with its budget of half a million dollars, Lippert Pictures saw an opportunity and rushed their relatively low budget ($94,000) Rocketship X-M into production, completing the entire film in only 18 days. These two movies were the start of something big. 

I enjoyed this review of the film by Scott Ashlin on his web site 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting:

“This is another one of those big, important movies that dorks like me are always going on about at the slightest excuse. Destination Moon’s importance stems from its being the first of the vast numbers of science fiction films that were produced during the 1950’s. Those were years of unprecedented visibility for science and technology, and the time was surely ripe for an equally unprecedented spike in the popularity of science fiction, provided the writers and filmmakers could find the right approach to tap into the zeitgeist.”

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And here is Scott Ashlin’s review of Rocketship X-M.

 

Three Films From 1973

The Exorcist

The Wicker Man

Don't Look Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Guardian:

One morning in 1973, Christopher Lee requested a pre-release showing of his latest film. ‘What do you think of it?’ asked Michael Deeley, British Lion’s managing director. ‘It’s an extraordinary movie,’ Lee enthused. He never forgot Deeley’s reply. ‘He just looked at me and said, ‘I think it’s one of the 10 worst films I’ve ever seen’.’ Lee was gobsmacked.

‘Well, you’re entitled to your opinion. But I think you’re totally wrong.’ That year two masterpieces of Gothic horror were released which changed the way directors and audiences saw the genre. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now were critically acclaimed worldwide. But Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man was mishandled and overlooked, only belatedly recognised as an original and audacious debut.

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More ZAAT Connections: Jamie DeFrates and Jack Tamul

Jamie Defrates in the movie ZAAT (1971)

Jamie Defrates in the movie ZAAT (1971)

When I first saw Don Bartin’s low-budget horror movie, ZAAT (1971) I was surprised to discover that Jamie DeFrates makes an appearance! DeFrates is an accomplished musician/composer/producer, who lived in Jacksonville, FL at the time. DeFrates was born in Springfield, Illinois. His parents ran a Christian ministry that included a radio show called “The Golden Gospel Hour.” After college he traveled the country, playing guitar and singing in clubs from New York to San Francisco. DeFrates has been a national opening act for: Willie Nelson, Janis Ian, Leo Kottke, Little River Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, Richie Havens, Doc Watson, John Hartford, John Lee Hooker, and others. He eventually settled in Jacksonville, where he established a publishing company and recording studio. The music in ZAAT is credited to Jamie DeFrates and John Orsulak. 

I’ve noticed some interesting parallels between ZAAT and another B-movie called Beware the Blob (1972), also knows as Son of the Blob, which was directed by none other than Larry Hagmen, between his stints in I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas. Read on…

ZAAT movie cedits

ZAAT movie cedits

While ZAAT featured a small role for Jamie DeFrates, whose upbringing was steeped in Gospel, Beware the Blob featured appearances by Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill, two of the pioneers of the “Christian Rock” genre, now called “Contempory Christian.”  You might think the makers of ZAAT got the idea to include Jamie DeFrates from Beware the Blob, but Hagman’s movie was released in 1972, ZAAT in 1971! Just below the credits for DeFrates and Hodgin, we see “Electronic Music: Jack Tamul,” another interesting Jacksonville musician who specializes in synthesized music.

Randy Stonehill (right) in Beware the Blob

Randy Stonehill (right) in Beware the Blob

Larry Norman (left) in Beware the Blob

Larry Norman (left) in Beware the Blob

Jack Tamul

Jack Tamul

Beware_the_Blob_poster

 

Finally, at the end of what turned out to be a three-part article about ZAAT, I want to thank my friend, Susan Eason, for telling me about the Don Barton estate sale.

More about ZAAT: Ron Kivett on Ed Tucker

The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set

The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set

Ed Tucker is an aficionado of classic and vintage science fiction & horror films and memorabilia. He wrote the liner notes for the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD. The official ZAAT website features an excerpt from an interview with Ed Tucker that first appeared in the April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters Magazine. Tucker begins:

I suppose being born in Ocala, Florida in the 1960’s in some way predestined me to my love and appreciation of motion pictures. The small town of Silver Springs is located so close to Ocala that, today, it is almost considered a suburb of it, but in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a booming conglomeration of widely varied tourist attractions. Chief among these was Silver Springs itself, with its glass bottom boats, jungle cruises, and wildlife exhibitions. Hollywood often utilized the spring’s clear waters and jungle-like settings for every manner of production. From installments in the Tarzan film series to episodes of Sea Hunt and I Spy. But in my mind it will always be remembered for the underwater footage filmed for the 1957 3-D horror icon, Creature from the Black Lagoon.

ZAAT DVD Features      Click here tRead More

Monster Filmmaker Don Barton Estate Sale in Jacksonville, FL

JON M. FLETCHER / The Times-Union -Don Barton, who made "Zaat" in the early 1970s, kept the original creature costume in his garage. 2009 file photo.

Photo by JON M. FLETCHER / The Times-Union -Don Barton, who made “Zaat” in the early 1970s, kept the original creature costume in his garage. 2009 file photo.

Upon the death of Don Barton, the June 10, 2013 edition of Florida Times-Union (and Jacksonville.com),featured an article by Matt Soergel, who wrote “Don Barton brought “Zaat” to life in the early 1970s, and while the movie about a giant radioactive walking catfish-human monster was quiet for decades, it never really went away . . . The 1971 creature-feature played for a while at drive-ins and movie houses, mostly in the Southeast. It was bootlegged and retitled several times, and Barton learned hard lessons about the cutthroat movie business. It had a renaissance, though, after being mocked in 1999 on TV’s “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” which featured science-fiction movies generally thought of as bad. By June  2001, “Zaat” made it to theaters again, playing to two packed auditoriums at the now-gone St. Johns 8 Theater on the Westside . . . Mr. Barton was a co-founder of the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association and won several awards for documentaries. In 1984, he became vice president of marketing at what’s now St. Vincent’s HealthCare, and later served on the hospital’s executive board.”  Read entire article

I have just learned that the estate sale for the late Mr. Barton will be held on Friday and Saturday, November 1st and 2nd. Some memorabilia from the movie will be available. Don V

Zaat Memorabila 

Jamie Defrates in the movie ZAAT (1971)

Jamie Defrates in the movie ZAAT (1971)

When I first saw Don Bartin’s low-budget horror movie, ZAAT (1971) I was surprised to discover that Jamie DeFrates makes an appearance! DeFrates is an accomplished musician/composer/producer, who lived in Jacksonville, FL at the time. DeFrates was born in Springfield, Illinois. His parents ran a Christian ministry that included a radio show called “The Golden Gospel Hour.” After college he traveled the country, playing guitar and singing in clubs from New York to San Francisco. DeFrates has been a national opening act for: Willie Nelson, Janis Ian, Leo Kottke, Little River Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, Richie Havens, Doc Watson, John Hartford, John Lee Hooker, and others. He eventually settled in Jacksonville, where he established a publishing company and recording studio. The music in ZAAT is credited to Jamie DeFrates and John Orsulak. 

I’ve noticed some interesting parallels between ZAAT and another B-movie called Beware the Blob (1972), also knows as Son of the Blob, which was directed by none other than Larry Hagmen, between his stints in I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas. Read on…

ZAAT movie cedits

ZAAT movie cedits

While ZAAT featured a small role for Jamie DeFrates, whose upbringing was steeped in Gospel, Beware the Blob featured appearances by Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill, two of the pioneers of the “Christian Rock” genre, now called “Contempory Christian.”  You might think the makers of ZAAT got the idea to include Jamie DeFrates from Beware the Blob, but Hagman’s movie was released in 1972, ZAAT in 1971! Just below the credits for DeFrates and Hodgin, we see “Electronic Music: Jack Tamul,” another interesting Jacksonville musician who specializes in synthesized music.

Randy Stonehill (right) in Beware the Blob

Randy Stonehill (right) in Beware the Blob

Larry Norman (left) in Beware the Blob

Larry Norman (left) in Beware the Blob

Jack Tamul

Jack Tamul

Beware_the_Blob_poster

The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set

The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set

Ed Tucker is an aficionado of classic and vintage science fiction & horror films and memorabilia. He wrote the liner notes for the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD. The official ZAAT website features an excerpt from an interview with Ed Tucker that first appeared in the April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters Magazine. Tucker begins:

I suppose being born in Ocala, Florida in the 1960’s in some way predestined me to my love and appreciation of motion pictures. The small town of Silver Springs is located so close to Ocala that, today, it is almost considered a suburb of it, but in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a booming conglomeration of widely varied tourist attractions. Chief among these was Silver Springs itself, with its glass bottom boats, jungle cruises, and wildlife exhibitions. Hollywood often utilized the spring’s clear waters and jungle-like settings for every manner of production. From installments in the Tarzan film series to episodes of Sea Hunt and I Spy. But in my mind it will always be remembered for the underwater footage filmed for the 1957 3-D horror icon, Creature from the Black Lagoon.

ZAAT DVD Features      Click here tRead More

Creature Feature

Ben Chapman as The Creature with Julie Adams

Ben Chapman as The Creature with Julie Adams

Ben Chapman wore the gill-man suit in Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) for all of the scenes filmed on land, while Ricou Browning portrayed the Creature in all the underwater scenes. In fact, Ricou Browning did the underwater scenes for all three Creature movies. In Revenge of the Creature (1955), Tom Hennesy played the Creature on land. Finally, in The Creature Walks (1956), Don Megowen was the creature on land.

Here’s a web site dedicated to Ben Chapman, with a tribute by Julie Adams, who starred in the original 1954 classic along with Richard Carlson.  Adams begins the tribute with:

Hard to believe that on February 21st, 2013, Ben Chapman will have been gone for five years. Ben was a kind and generous man, with whom I had the good fortune to work with on Creature from the Black Lagoon. I remember the first time I saw him in the Creature costume, I was terrified. But as the production wore on I gradually became used to him as the Gill Man. By the middle of the production I would greet him in the morning with a friendly pat on his rubber cheek and say, “Good Morning, Beastie.” Working on the film together became part of a lifelong friendship that many years later took us to horror conventions all over the country: Chiller in New Jersey, Monster Bash in Pittsburgh, Monster Mania in Philadelphia, too many to remember.

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Awful News

 

AwfulDrOrloffVampyrosLesbos

Quentin Tarantino names him as an influence. When we were kids, our parents wouldn’t let us watch his movies, but sometimes we did anyway. Now we search out the ones we missed on DVD. Sadly, Jesus “Jess” Franco has passed away.

From Yahoo!Movies:  A legendary figure in international genre cinema is gone. Jesus Franco, a Spanish writer and director who made close to two hundred films in a career that spanned seven decades, died in Malaga, Spain on Tuesday at the age of 82, due to complications from a stroke.

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Yesterday’s Art of Tomorrow

Spacecraft_on_Planet

This io9 article comes to Bill Ectric’s Place through a circuitous route.  Ian Phillips posted a comment on Joachim Boaz’s blog, Adventures In Science Fiction Cover Art. The io9 article is written by Ron Miller, who begins:

Morris Scott Dollens is best known to aging SF fans as one of the most prolific space artists who ever lived. For decades there was rarely a convention art show that didn’t feature half a dozen or more of his small-scale astronomical paintings. Unable to afford to attend many cons himself, he mailed hundreds of these to shows all over the country.”

Read entire article

Murder on the Thames

In his Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations, Tony Reeves discusses the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy:

“There are wonderful London locations in Alfred Hitchcock’s British film since The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956, but first the collision between the blackly humorous script and director Alfred Hitchcock’s virulent misogyny, previously kept in check by production codes, makes for queasy viewing today . . . The film has become an invaluable record of its setting, the old Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market. In 1973, the whole operation moved to a soulless new facility at Nine Elms, south of the Thames near Vauxhall, and the old market buildings were titivated to become terrace cafés and boutiques stocked with designer clothes and scented candles.”

Read entire article at The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations