Posted on November 8th, 2011 No comments
Just one look at this flick and you know that the creatives at Pixar really did an homage to the old-school Disney films when they put together
starring Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly and Mary Gibbs.
I include this flick in the Mod Monday gig because there’s so much in it that screams of vintage while being made with technology way ahead of its time that the movie itself is a sci-fi wonder come true.
The opening credits alone will swing you back to Disney’s “first” golden era, with a clarinet-lead jazz instrumental that’s perfectly paired to a snaky monster and a plethora somewhat confusing and mod-looking doors, reminiscent of the Disney musicals of the 1940s and ’50s.
Then the story opens with a couple of very kool monsters, not particularly scary at all but kind of Muppet-like. They live in an apartment decorated with old-school furniture, one has a jalopy that looks like a ’60s sports car with teeth, they walk down a very 1940s-New York-looking street and report for work in a factory that’s sort of a mix of mid-century modern and minimalist industrial designs.
The retro/vintage themes rack up from there. James Coburn’s voiceover sounds a lot like the bad guys in the old Hannah-Barbara cartoons from the ’60s and ’70s (or Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, voiced by Paul Frees). There are retro Disneyland posters on the walls, and a 1960s-style newscaster. There’s even a scene on a tropical beach with a couple of Tiki huts!
The story? Oh, yeah…sometimes I forget to tell you about the story, don’t I. Ok, it’s about a couple of Monsters who work on the scare floor of the corporation who provides electricity for Monstropolis by collecting the screams of human kids and bottling them. The corporation reminded me a lot of Office Depot’s corporate headquarters where I worked briefly at the time this movie was made. The whole thing they do with “I am Monsters, Inc!”…yeah, Office Depot did that with their employees for a training video. Oy.
Anyway, back to the subject…It’s a great flick and the added retro-isms will have kats and kittens like you digging it even more. For a sneak peak (and the numbero uno reason this flick fits the Mod Movie Monday category), check out the two videos below. The first is the opening credits to Monsters, Inc., the second is a clip from Make Mine Music (1947) featuring the Benny Goodman band and visuals by Disney. You’ll see immediately where the designers for Monsters, Inc. got their inspiration. Even the music is similar…not the same, not copied…but inspired. Great job, Pixar. Keep the faith, baby.
Here’s the Intro to Monsters, Inc. 2001
And “After You’ve Gone” from Make Mine Music, 1947
Posted on August 2nd, 2011 No comments
Here’s a very stylish, very cool flick…a movie that has “Dark” in the title, and it doesn’t get much more ‘noir’ than that.
starring Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly and Richard O’Brien.
What the hell is going on in this movie? is what you’ll be asking yourself in the first 15 minutes. Very strange imagery throughout, the viewer is thrown into a state of surreal chaos from the opening seconds. Written and directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, I, Robot) this sci-fi mystery combines visual styles from steampunk (real steampunk, not that plastic gears on blue jeans crap) to art deco to industrial to nautical, blending everything together in a crazy mash-up (and for good reason, which I will not divulge here…remember, no spoilers at the Tiki bar).
Kiefer Sutherland plays a very, very strange character in this movie, so far removed from Jack Bauer or the Lost Boys it’s hard to believe it’s him. Jennifer Connelly has a smaller part, but still manages to be one of my favorite chicks of all time. Rufus Sewell does a great job as a guy with amnesia who has no idea what the hell is going on (that phrase will pass through your mind several times, but don’t worry, it will all be clear by the end).
The story: Can’t say too much, because I don’t want to give anything away. The best thing about this movie is that it’s so far out there, literally far out there. Watching the ‘truth’ unfold is half the fun. Basically a guy wakes up in a bathtub, remembers nearly nothing, not even who he is, and finds he is being chased for a murder he doesn’t remember committing. Sound normal? Forget about it. It all goes crazy from there. Especially when he sees the city (which seems to exist only at night) change. I mean, like buildings coming down and new ones popping up. ‘nough said.
The reason this crazy flick makes it to the Noir Movie Monday spot is that the city, cars, clothes, everything…is all a combination of our recent past, mixing styles of 1920s art nuevo, 1930s art deco, mid century modern, doo wop, you name it. From a Horne and Hardart-style automat to 1950’s cars mixed with 70s cars and 30s clothes, the whole look and feel of the movie is vintage (which, as I said, is explained later in the flick). Add to that some very kreepy undertaker-looking kats, and Jen Conelley performing the steamiest version of “Sway” I’ve ever heard (it should have been longer) and a very original story, and you’ve got a winner.
What I really like about this flick is that it takes you to places you’d never expect, both physically and plot-wise. Everything is constantly changing, with the main character’s quest to find his identity (and what the hell is going on) the only constant.
Food & Booze: Hard to pull anything from the flick as nobody ever seems to actually eat or drink anything. But…just for fun, I’d go with the theme of the different eras, maybe homemade baked bread with a TV dinner and Kraft macaroni and cheese. Wash it down with an old fashioned followed by a slippery nipple. Catch my drift?
By the way…Richard O’Brien was Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Proyas wrote the part in this movie especially for him.
Watch this one with the lights off for the best effect.
Here’s the scene with Connelly singing “Sway”. Actually not sure if it is really her singing or not…according to the info on the video it is her, not the voiceover that was done in the released version of the movie.
-Tiki Chris reporting from the screening room at Pirate’s Cove Tiki Lounge
Do you like noir mysteries? Do you like what you read here? Then you should check out Stardust Mysteries, with my novels Murder Behind the Closet Door and Murder on Tiki Island!
Posted on July 19th, 2010 2 comments
If you watch this movie and think, “Hey, this looks like it was filmed in a mall!” you’d be right.
Swing back to 1975, when America was proud of its upcoming Bicentennial celebration and sci-fi films were still using stop animation and model rockets on strings.
Somewhere in Texas a film crew was shooting a movie with a $9 million buck budget and a lot of hope. What they ended up with is a somewhat cheesy looking but still fantastic movie.
Starring Michael York, Richard Jordan, Jenny Agutter, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov.
This was ’70s sci-fi at its best (before Star Wars came along and set the new standard). A futuristic, post-apocalyptic world where people had ’70s hair and polyester clothes, and the buildings’ interiors looked like the mall you went to when you were a kid. All they needed was an Orange Julius and a Copper Rivet to make it complete. You probably already know the plot – in this futuristic society, people are cared for by machines which supply food, clean air and water. The family unit is non-existent; sex is for pleasure and babies are mysteriously incubated by machines. To keep the (un)natural balance, everyone has a “life clock”, basically a plastic gem from Woolworth’s embedded in their hand which tells them when it’s time to die (age 30). But everyone gets down with this plan, because they don’t believe they are dying, they believe they are being renewed. Groovy.
Here’s the catch: Some kats don’t buy this “renew” jazz that’s laid on them, and believe there’s a much better place to live called “Sanctuary”. Yes, that’s right, they believe there’s a much better place than the place where you pretty much don’t have to work, don’t have to worry about finding food, or getting sick, where you can have all the sex you want without consequences and where you never have to worry about getting old…yeah, I guess some people might not dig that life.
So these kats are always trying to skip town, get away through some crazy underground system of tunnels that looks like a sewerage plant, to the outside world. They keep trying, and the police (known as Sandmen) try to stop them. This happens a lot.
Now, I won’t give away the whole story, but I’ll tell you this much: The adventure begins when the computer that runs society has a great idea to turn a Sandman into a runner by advancing his alarm clock several years to 30. Now he will die if he doesn’t infiltrate the runners’ gang and find this “Sanctuary”. Hence the name, Logan’s Run.
Why bother watching this flick: It’s pure fun, ’70s style, and it actually was filmed in a mall (see pix below) From the obvious toy model of the city to the toga-like clothes to the 35 year-old-style holograms, this movie is full of the stuff we loved back in the day. They even have laser guns. The imagery is very kool in many parts of the movie, and even with the low-budget effects it’s still a good flick with an original story. One thing really neat about using malls and other existing yet future-looking sites to film at is the illusion that this world isn’t really much different from ours, and that this future isn’t too far off from our own.
Here’s the Logan’s Run trailer from 1975:
My story: I first saw this movie in 1976 on a brand new TV channel called “Prism” (Philadelphia Regional In-Home Sports and Movies). Prism came in on a big black plastic box with a clunky knob that you turned from “TV” to “PREMIUM”. Prism was off the air most of the day, and usually came on around 8pm. It mostly broadcast Phillies games with a couple of movies in between. For what seemed like months, the only movies it showed were That’s Entertainment! parts one and two, and Logan’s Run. I think we watched each of these movies a thousand times. No wonder I like sci-fi and old musicals. For years I used to kid with friends that the world of the future looked like the Searstown Mall in Pleasantville, NJ. Then 25 years later I looked it up on the internet, and lo and behold, the thing was filmed in a mall.
Well, that’s that on this oldie but goodie. I can’t give it five stars for great acting or special effects, but as a testament to its grooviness, there hasn’t been a remake of it in 35 years…at least not yet.
-Tiki Chris 9 reporting from the Great Hall. Renew! Renew!
Posted on June 23rd, 2010 No comments
Finally after almost seven years off the air as a series, FUTURAMA is back on Comedy Central.
If you dig Futurama you probably already know that the new series will premier with a one-hour special on Thursday, June 24 at 10:00 p.m. From the Official Futurama Site: “After a devastating spaceship crash, the Professor attempts to resuscitate the crew with his birth machine. Later, Leela and Zapp Brannigan find themselves stranded on an Eden-like planet.”
For you retro kats & kitties who aren’t hip to this fantabulous show, knock your peepers to this: Futurama (The name taken from the General Motors exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair) is a krazy mix of mid-20th century sci-fi, current-day tech and the world of tomorrow, tomorrow being the year 3000 (or so). The plot is simple: Fry, a bumbling but sort of lovable (most of the time) pizza delivery boy (man) accidentally (sort of) gets cryogenically frozen on New Year’s Eve as the world is about to turn the date to 2000. After 1000 years he’s thawed, welcomed by a goofy scientist who yells “Welcome to the world of tomorrow!” (sound familiar?) He meets a sexy cyclops, a partying robot and eventually his great great (etc.) grand nephew Professor Farnsworth, (who is a mad scientist six or seven times Fry’s age), who just happens to own an inter-planetary delivery company. There’s a lot more, but you’ll have to watch the show for that.
What’s really groovy is that Mat Groening’s (Yes, The Simpsons guy) idea of the far-out future is far-out indeed, filled with 1950s-style sci-fi monsters, aliens, spaceships, and educational films. The hovercars all have fins and chrome, most of the sound effects are made with a Theremin or are lifted from Star Trek TOS, and the TV sets look like floor-model Zeniths that would have been in your grandmother’s pad.
AIRS: Thursday, June 24, 10pm on Comedy Central
-Tiki Chris reporting from in front of the 65″ RetroVision, with an Atomic Cocktail in hand.
Posted on December 21st, 2009 2 comments
Ah, the Atomic Age, when spaceships were pie plates and anything with the word “Martian” in it would sell tickets.
I won’t even try to summarize any kind of plot with this flick. It’s something about Martians don’t have Christmas, but Martian kids can watch Earth Christmas shows on the tube, so they want a Santa, or a family with John Payne, or Zuzu’s petals, or a Red Ryder BB Gun or some jazz like that. I don’t know, I was on my third highball 15 minutes into this goop. BUT! There is an amazing version of this sci-fry reel…brought to you by those lovable robots at Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Yes, once again the gang at MST3K has turned a nonsense bunch of images into something very groovy. And of course, there are the cheap, early ’60s sci-fi sets, Martians with things on their heads, stock footage of rockets, and…uh…Santas. Plural.
You’re going to want to pair this fine movie with an equally fine beverage. I think Maddog 20-20 will do. With great writing like, “One false move and your little ho-ho-ho man will be destroyed,” you can’t go wrong.
Thank you to my friend Cat for turning me on to this krazy flick!