Archive for the 'Movie Anniversaries' Category



19
Mar
13

psycho, 1960 filming locations, a then and now look celebrating the 50th anniversarry, part 1

poster, 1960

poster, 1960

Well what I thought would take a few days to compile and write about actually took close to 3 years to complete. I started this article in August of 2010 and for the longest time the original blog post has been void of any updates until now!!!!!  Hopefully to you all it was worth the wait and there will be at least 6 to 7 more entries covering all of the THEN AND NOW locations for the original 1960’s “Psycho”.   Finding the exact places where Alfred Hitchcock filmed his classic horror film “PSYCHO” took a lot more work than I was expecting, but I had a grand time in the process.  Phoenix Arizona, Gorman, Bakersfield California, and good ol Universal studios, have all changed drastically over the last 50 years.   More so than I first thought, so there were many trips to the Universal archives as well as visits to several building and planning departments  to scour over old maps to find out where all the locations used in the film are now,,, or at least where they used to be. This was an extraordinarily fun & time consuming project, but now that is close to being complete I am very happy with all the documenting and I met several new friends along the way.  So without further ado, lets travel  to Phoenix Arizona, 50 years after Hitchcock. Phoenix in 1960 was a city on the move.. It was a town becoming a modern desert metropolis. At the time the Westward Ho was the tallest building mainly because of its extremely tall radio antenna on the roof. The Westward Ho still stands today but is dwarfed by the many skyscrapers that have been built over the years. There were many controversial points of view of what building “Psycho’s” opening panorama shot was filmed from. In the shot the camera pans across Phoenix from the NE to the SE. During that pan a high rise with a large radio antenna is seen in the foreground. This is the building that has caused the controversy. In 1960 there were two downtown buildings that had large rooftop radio antennas,  sometime in the early 1970’s  the building located at Central and Adams avenue ( the building seen in the panorama shot) had its tower removed leaving the Westward Ho as the only structure with a tower. Generations of today assume the Westward Ho to be the building in the foreground.. I assumed this to be true when I started to do these pictures and quickly found out that the location was to far to the North to set up the shot, and there weren’t any tall buildings around the Westward Ho to obtain the panoramic view. After finding out that I was in the wrong spot I went further downtown and started looking again. I was thinking that this shoot was not going to be possible this far from 1960 but I kept searching. I figured it would have to have been shot from an older building on the West side of Central so I walked around until I found a place that looked promising. I was at Adams and 1st ave. and I was looking at a beautiful art deco building called the Orpheum lofts. The structure from the ground level looked like the Daily Planet building from the 30’s. Next step was to get to the roof to see if this was in fact the right place… Easier said than done.  The building is for the most part private lofts with a very secure double door set up and no phone number posted anywhere… I managed to get into the lobby by following a tenant in and ran into the security gal that was managing the floor. I asked for the owner of the buildings info and asked if I could go the roof. The guard did her job well and basically told me who to call and sent me on my way.. I made the first call outside and just got a series of other numbers to call all leading no where… I was only in town for the day so I had to find the right contact fast.. I then headed around to the back of the building and started looking for someone else to talk to.. There was a lot of construction going on in the back and after a few inquiries and a lot of, sorry we don’t no’s, I ran into the forman than was had the info I needed.. He said that there is a man named Guido Frioli who takes care of the building, the tenant’s and all the repairs at the Orpheum and that he would be a good man to speak to. More inquiries got me his phone number and I gave him a call.  Guido was extremely nice and invited me in to talk more. Back through the doors I went on the tail of another tenant and I ran right back into the security gal.. I told her the story and she had me hang around the lobby till Guido came to get me. It was about 10 minutes later that he came down and I started to show him the pictures that I had grabbed from the film for reference. Guido was saying that he never heard of any movies being filmed in the building but he said lets go up and take a look. All the way up the elevator I was so hopeful that this was the place..  After the elevator ride we had to continue  through a few hallways and then up some stairs that eventually took us to the roof.. Once there we started lining up the screen grabs with the phoenix skyline and sure enough everything was falling into place.. WOW neither of us could believe it at first but the more we looked around the more we were convinced that this was the place!!!  I set my camera up on the SE corner of the building and started to shoot in the same direction as Hitchcock’s pan.  Except for a few fleeting landmark buildings we were engulfed in a sea of white and bronze skyscrapers. None of the mountain ranges from the 60’s view were visible and neither was the little hotel at the end of the pan. The building of Hitchcock’s focus was just barley behind the corner of a new high rise.. I had to back up a good 60-70 feet to get a view of it, but it was there…. It took a little bit of changing the camera views to make the “then and now” work out, but in the end everything lined up almost exactly… Guido and I were satisfied with what we discovered and he was very anxious to get a set of the final pix. next I did some street level photography from the intersection of Central and Adams looking North. some of the streets scenes lined up from the grabs I had and again another lucky stop.. There were enough older landmarks to make these pictures line up just as good as the panorama shot. Once home the big task of lining up all the new pix with the old footage began.. Hitch must have been using a 50 mm lens for his shot and my work was on a bit wider format.. Thanks be to Photoshop and it’s capacity to manipulate the images to line up perfectly with the 50 mm material. after a few days of work I had about 15 fantastic line ups but I was left with a bunch of new questions needing answers that could only be answered with another trip to Arizona. Here is the first volley of images put together in a manner so as to best let you see the differences from the same point of view from the 1960’s. The 2010 images are shown in B&W so as to make the comparisons work better…  There is a lot of text on each picture and this site allows you to click on each picture 2 0r 3 times to enlarge.. Lots of tiny details to be seen at more than a glance.  Enjoy and can’t wait for part 2.

then and now panoramic compilation of the opening sequence of Psycho

then and now panoramic compilation of the opening sequence of Psycho

This is the Orpheum lofts. the very building used as Hitchcock's vantage point for his establishing pan across Phoenix.

This is the Orpheum lofts. the very building used as Hitchcock’s vantage point for his establishing pan across Phoenix.

The Phoenix Police Museum buildingon the left, AKA the hotel from Psycho

The Phoenix Police Museum buildingon the left, AKA the hotel from Psycho

a street level view of the hotel

a street level view of the hotel

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25
Dec
12

to kill a mockingbird, the 50th anniversarry

1962 poster

1962 poster

On Christmas day in 1962, “To kill a Mockingbird” opened to the movie going public. The film went on to receive incredible acclaim from both fans of the book as well as the press and international audiences! This is another one of those old classics that grows better with time. Gregory Peck never disappoints and is always amazing to watch on screen. This is another favorite in the Eaves home, and I hope that if you haven’t seen it, you’ll  give it a go. Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

Continue reading ‘to kill a mockingbird, the 50th anniversarry’

22
Dec
12

The mummy, the 80th anniversarry

the original 1932 poster

the original 1932 poster

December the 22nd, 1932 and a new face of horror hits the big screen. Universal Pictures releases one of its monster masterpieces with the release of “the Mummy” Boris Karloff plays Imhotep, a mummified Egyptian who is accidentally resurrected in the early 1930’s by a group of archeologists. Imhotep reaps terror as he tries to resurrect his lost queen through the body of Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), a woman bearing a striking resemblance to the Princess. Death and unspeakable terror follow the unsuspecting humans as the Mummy attempts to raise the dead!!! The 30’s were the golden years for Universal Studios and the monsters that the studio created. Dracula, Frankenstein, and of coarse The Mummy. I love all of these films and especially anything that stars Boris Karloff. This is one creepy story and is masterfully played by the films incredible cast. The Makeup department really achieved it’s highest honors of the time with the work they did with Karloff. Tons of fun with this one. Happy 80th to Universal’s “The Mummy”.

Kaloff and Johann

Kaloff and Johann

Karloff in his mummy get up

Karloff in his mummy get up

A gorgeous close up

A gorgeous close up

the resurrected Karloff

the resurrected Karloff

More of Karloff and Johann

More of Karloff and Johann

Zita Johann

Zita Johann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21
Dec
12

snow white and the seven dwarfs, the 75th anniversary

poster

1937 poster

December the 21st, 1937 and the beginning of feature length animation begins. Of coarse this milestone of achievement was created by no other than Walt Disney. The film was a marvel to the movie going audiences and is considered a masterpiece by every standard today. I love this film, and with all the remastering and digital enhancements, I wonder what the movie really looked like on the big screen in 1937.

There are several background paintings and cells from Snow White hanging on the walls of the Animation building at the Walt Disney studios in Burbank, CA, and none of them are as vivid as the current crop of DVD and Blue Ray copies available today. I have an old VHS and Laser disc copies, and I actually prefer the older versions over the new. Regardless of how you see this film nothing changes the mastery of Disney, his staff of animators, and the invention of the multiplane camera system. There still is one of these incredible machines also on display at the Disney Studios in the Frank G. Wells building.

This is one incredible film; so hard to believe this wonder is 75 years old.

cell 1

cell 1

cell 2

cell 2

cell 3

cell 3

cell 4

cell 4

the UK poster, 1937

the UK poster, 1937

19
Dec
12

The Bridge on the river kwai, the 55th anniversary

poster

poster

I saw this one as a rerun in the drive-in when I was very young and I so remembered it when I was older and could get it on VHS. This movie is epic in every sense of the word and is one of my all time favorites. Now that DVD and BluRay have come along we can see these old classics in there full glory!!! This is another fun movie for a Saturday night. Sorry for the quick post but have to run, just enough time to mark the 55th Anniversary with an image and a trailer.

ENJOY!!!

17
Dec
12

The Dark Crystal, the 30th anniversary

poster

poster

Today marks the last entry in the movies of 1982. December the 17th, 1982, exactly 30 years ago today Jim Henson released his first non Muppet fantasy film “The Dark Crystal”. Jim Henson was a larger than life hero of mine from the first time I saw Sesame Street in the 60’s to The Muppet Show in the 70’s and beyond.  Starlog Magazine was releasing tid bits of info and an occasional picture from the production a good year before the films release. These tiny fragments were more than enough to build the anticipation for the December opening.  I was so excited about this film and just could not wait for it to come out.  My buddy Rod Andrewson was equally as much of a fan as I was and we were there on opening day. From start to finish we were taken deep into Henson’s imagination and I was not ready for this movie to end!!!  Thirty years later I am just as much a fan and my hat is off to all that had their hand in creating this magical masterpiece.

Continue reading ‘The Dark Crystal, the 30th anniversary’

16
Nov
12

close encounters of the third kind, the 35th anniversarry

original poster, 1977

November the 16th, 1977, 35 years ago today I was so waiting for school to get out so my dad could take me to see this movie…. On the calendar that really is a long time ago but in my memories it was yesterday.. I was very excited about the opening of CE3K and after seeing it for the first time it was my new favorite movie of all time. As a young teen in the 70’s the new world of Science fictions films was born thanks to Lucas and Spielberg, Star Wars came out over the summer and was my favorite film until the 16th of November. Close Encounters quickly took the first place spot pushing Star Wars to 3rd place right behind Jaws coming in at 2nd. I couldn’t wait to save up my nickles and dimes to buy the soundtrack on LP.. I was a little sad that the score was on a single record and I was hoping for a double disc like the Star Wars Soundtrack. Non the less the record was played until the music tracks had all been warn off, HAAA! Since then there have been so many versions of this film that you tend to loose track, but for me the best is still the original release. When the special edition came out in theaters in 1980, we were all anticipating the brilliant extra footage of going inside the mother ship,, the new footage amazed and thrilled everyone in the theaters, but the sad part was a lot of the original footage was edited out causing, at least me, to be as disappointment as I was ecstatic.. Regardless of what version you’ve seen it is a classic through and through and is one of Spielberg’s crowning achievements. This was early on in his career when he still wrote his own films. I do miss his writing talents as well as his long lost love for space and science fiction films. Steven has come a long, long way and his talent grows with all he does. Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders, Poltergeist, ET, all have a special place in my heart and if it wasn’t for these films I am sure I wouldn’t have been inspired to work in the movies.. Close Encounters is a masterpiece on all levels from the story and directing, the amazing visual effects, and especially for John Williams brilliant score. Living in Wyoming now my big goal is to get over to Devils Tower and when I do I’ll post some then and now pix. So to Steven Spielberg and Close Encounters, Happy 35th.

Dreyfuss and Dillon

a close call

Greg Jein’s incredible miniatures!!!

And Steven Spielberg,, now I know where the line “That’s a bad hat harry” comes from.

25
Jun
12

john carpenter’s “the thing” a chat with the director on the 30th anniversary

Dave Struzen’s incredible poster

June the 25th 1982. On this day in history two incredible science fiction films opened at the same time. Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing” Both films were ahead of their time in terms of visual design and creature effects and influenced the way movies looked for decades after.  At the time of their release both pictures did quite poorly at the box office. “ET” had come out two weeks earlier and Spielberg’s masterpiece made the world turn all soft and cuddly in the way audiences viewed Science Fiction and aliens in particular. So these two dark and heavy films chased the good mood crowds away. 30 years later their popularity is without measure and both films stand out as classics. Reviewers and fans alike will say that both movies are the directors crowning achievements. I love both motion pictures immensely, but Carpenter’s version of “The Thing” stands as one of my all time favorite movies. My good buddy Rod Andrewson and I were there on opening night and I don’t really think either of us were prepared to experience what we were about to see. The coming attraction trailer’s we got for this one were very vague and showed nothing from the film. Being huge fans of Hawk’s original, the teaser only showed a block of ice with something moving inside of it followed by text saying, “coming this Summer”. On opening night however terror in movies took on a whole new meaning. Most of my popcorn wound up in the air and on the floor and Rods candy did just about the same. Great times to be sure and we both went out and took back as many friends, (or victims would be a more proper term) as we could for the rest of the summer! hard to believe that all happened 30 years ago…….  Anyways!!!!!!!

If your a regular reader here your very familiar with the name John Carpenter. Johns films and music have always been amongst my favorites, and with today being the 30th Anniversary of “The Thing” I couldn’t think of a better way to remember this film than to have a quick chat with the master himself. John has done a lot of interviews as well as a great commentary on “The Thing” and every time there is a new discussion more interesting behind the scenes information comes out. Working on a location film is a huge undertaking and what you see on film is really the smallest part of the adventure. Watching the movie on screen you can only imagine that making “The Thing” was an incredible challenge on multiple levels. Ask anyone who was a part of this film and they will tell you that the production was hard but the end results were all worth it.

So without any further babble, here is John Carpenter answering a few questions about the making of “The Thing”

JE.    Hi John, Thanks for taking some time today to talk about your film.   I remember watching your first big hit “Halloween” in the 70’s, and in one of the background scenes we see Jamie Lee Curtis watching Howard Hawks “The Thing” on TV. It was obvious then that you were a fan and it was funny to see just a few years later you would be doing your own version. If I could ask how did this come to be. Did you approach Universal about doing the film or did they come to you???

JC.    I was asked to do The Thing, I was a fan but I really didn’t want to remake this movie. It took a while but Universal finally convinced me to sign on. so I agreed and the adventure began.

JE.   I was so glad that you took it on. When the trailers started showing in the theaters I was thrilled to see your name as the director.  A lot of your previous films credited you with conceiving the screenplay. For “The Thing” you were taking on an existing story and I was curious to how much Universal allowed you to contribute.

JC.   Bill Lancaster (the son of Burt Lancaster) and I wrote the story together. We based our version on the Original story “Who Goes there” by John Campbell. We stayed far away from Hawk’s film, and we really wanted to make our own story.

JE.   Well You certainly did!!!  For your Production designer you brought on John L. Lloyd. John has had a fabulous Career working on decades of Classic Television, and more recently some rather extravagant movies. What a treat it must have been to work with him.

JC.   It was!! John was a blast to work with and he was so professional. He solved a lot of problems before they had a chance start.

JE.   That was a brilliant idea to Use the US compound after it was blown up for the Norwegian camp in the opening of the film.

JC.   Yes it worked out great. We shot all the Norwegian exteriors last using the burned out US outpost and saved a lot of money. John (John Lloyd) did a fantastic job utilizing the same location for both sets.

JE.   I became a big fan of Mike Ploog’s art because of “The Thing”  He does some brilliant fantasy work and I love his style of story boarding. How was it having him as a part of your team?

JC.  Boarding the film was a very important factor especially because for the most part we were shooting the movie in order. Mike put together a book logging all of boards, as well as some illustrations of how a lot of the visual gags would work. Mike took on the task and really did a great job with it.

JE.   Up to this point you had composed and performed all of your own scores. I was expecting the same with “The Thing” and was surprised to see Ennio Morricone’s name on the poster.  I never knew the story about this so I was assuming that the scope of the show was huge and you didn’t have time to do it yourself, so you hired Ennio. HAAAA! Is that even close to what really happened?

JC.   No not at all, Universal didn’t want me to score the film,,, They wanted something more for their movie. Ennio was available so we hired him and I couldn’t have asked for more. I was always big fan of his music.

JE.  Ennio’s score defiantly captured your style, were you a part of how the score would be composed?

JC.   Yes, We were able to work together on the score, and mutually came up with how it should sound. Very fun times.

JE.   As far as your cast went you had no leading ladies, is that how it was Campbell’s story?

JC.   yes the all male cast came from Campbell and the actors we chose were all great fun to work with. This was my third picture with Kurt Russell and my first with many of the others.

JE. Will Brimley pulled off quite a performance and he seemed like a fun actor to work with. From watching his other films he seems the same both on and off the camera.

JC.  Brimley is Brimley, He really made his character (Blair) very believable and he was great to work with,, I liked him very much

JE.    He is a good friend of my father in law and he says the same about you!

JE.   This is also your third film using Dean Cundey as your director of photography. You two have had a great working relationship and I was curious to how you two work. I’ve been on sets where the DP not only lights the shot but dictates where the camera positions will be.

JC.  I love working with Dean… No one can light a set like he does and what he did on “The Thing” was just great.  As far as setting up the camera, I don’t let anyone set up my shots for me, Haaa.

JE.  Watching “The Thing ” in Arizona was quite a treat, the theaters were always packed with screaming fans, and the local critics had nothing but praise for the film. This didn’t seem to be the case around the rest of the country. The reviews were harsh to say the least and the box office attendance was not what Universal was hoping for… You put a lot of yourself into your work so all of this had to have hit pretty hard.

JC.   Yes it did… Critics are critics and they really didn’t like the film. “The Thing” was supposed to come out before “ET” but Universal changed the order of release so our movie came out a few weeks later.  Audiences now wanted nice alien movies and I feel this really pulled the film down. What hurt me the most though was that the fans didn’t like it! They bashed it severely and I couldn’t understand why. This all really effected me.

JE.   I can’t even imagine how hard those times must have been. You really do put a lot into what you do and I can’t believe that it was attacked so… Looking back on the film at the time of it’s release. regardless of how it was received, you as a film director have to be very proud of what you and your team put together.

JC.  In perspective I am very proud of “The Thing”. It all came together and I was very happy with film.

JE.  It must be rewarding to see how popular the movie has become today.

JC.   I am, it took a long time for the audience to come around and it seems to have  a cult following.

JE.   Well John Thank you so much for taking the time to reminisce  about”The Thing” and I am so glad we had a chance to catch up a bit. Take care and talk to you again soon.

JC.   My pleasure.

In case you haven’t seen “The thing” yet here is a brief synopsis of the film and some images to wet your appetite.

It’s the winter of 1982 and a huge Antarctic snow storm is about to hit.   Scientists at small American research base are stunned when a Norwegian helicopter begins to circle their camp, chasing and firing at a dog. When the helicopter is destroyed and the two passengers are killed, the dog is let into the base and roams free while the American’s try to figure out what has just happened. The American crew discover that their is a Norwegian base not too far from their own. So a the doctor and the US Helicopter pilot travel to the  Norwegian base to see if their are any survivors. On arrival, they find that the place has been totally destroyed from the inside out. The two discover and large block of ice in one of the rooms that at one time had something frozen in it. Further exploration finds a frozen mans body in one of the burned out rooms He had committed suicide with a strait razor. On departure they make one more grizzly find. It’s of the mangled remains of what was at one time a person. They bring back the remains for further study and what the team discovers from the autopsies and by watching the Norwegians tapes leaves them all feeling that they are in horrible danger. As the clues are beginning to add up; the dog transforms into a horrible into a creature that attacks the other dogs in the kennel as well as the scientific team.. Fire seems to be the best weapon and the charred remains open up a box of more questions with very little answers. A new tweam is assembled and off again they fly back to the Norwegian camp and  on this trip they discover the remains of a giant flying saucer frozen in the ice as well as the spot where the block of ice was cut from. They come to a terrible conclusion that they are dealing with an alien life form that has the power to transform and take the appearance of any living creature that it comes in close contact with. And man is the warmest place to hide. Paranoia sets in as the crew doesn’t know who the thing could be hiding in.  Havoc ensues and one by one the the crew is lost as the Thing tries to survive. As the team’s #’s dwindle they discover that the creature has been building a spaceship under the ice using parts from their tractors and helicopter. The decision is made that the whole camp has to go at any cost before the thing can escape, or freeze again only to awakened when the rescue team comes in spring. Lots of story twists bring this horrifying to an open ended final and you are left wanting more.

Carpenter and his team really made one wicked tale with “The Thing” and Johns talent’s as a director shined oh so brightly !!!!  His story took us on a two hour adventure, deep  into a frozen world where fear, claustrophobia and paranoia are the emotional fuels that make this film so utterly horrifying.

Happy 30th John and to your amazing movie as well.

100,000 years ago, a disable flying saucer enters the earth’s atmosphere.

The title was shot the same way as it was in the 1951 version of the film.

The Norwegians hunting the dog.

the block of ice

a gruesome discovery.

Chaos in the kennel

More clues and not many answers

The discovery, this is one of Albert Whitlock’s matte paintings

The truth is revealed and the entire population of the world is threatened if this Thing makes back to civilization.

The first of the human victoms.

Fire is the only solution.

A moment of hope.

Turns into a moment of unholy horror.

Rob Bottin at his best.

More of Bottin’s work

And one more!!!!

The blood test

The death of Window’s

The creature has been making a flying saucer under the ice

The destruction of the camp

the last survivors

the last survivors

the end

19
Jun
12

invasion of the saucer-men, the 55th anniversary

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June the 19th 1957,  A night of fright times 2.  American International Pictures released “Invasion of the Saucer men” on a double bill with “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”. what an incredible night that would have been to experience it as it happened.. The story of the Teenage Werewolf will have to come later because this post is exclusively for INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN!!!!!  I was introduced to this film when I was about 10 years old.  Every Saturday night at 10:30 my dad and I would flip the TV over to KPHO channel 5 (our local Phoenix Arizona Television station) for the late movie. Channel 5 would present a cavalcade of genres to the small screen and every Saturday night, the best of Hollywood would takes us on new and exciting adventures. Sci-Fi seemed to be a big favorite of whoever programmed the broadcasting and it was always such a treat to see these fabulous old B&W movies. My dad would generally fall asleep in the first 15 minutes of the movie leaving me to fend for myself at some of the scariest moments my little mind could handle. One particular Saturday it was a a tough call between a space movie on channel 5, and a John Wayne movie on another station. Because my dad controlled the TV John Wayne would always win out. from the opening credits that I saw briefly of the space movie I was more than anxious for dad to fall asleep so I could switch the channel back and it was only a matter of about 20 minutes and he was out.  I quietly switched the set over to Channel 5 and what I saw in the next 5 minutes  terrified me beyond belief..  the scenes opened up on a teenage couple driving in the night woods with their lights off and in a flash of lightning this horrible things runs in front of the car and they hit it,, The couple jumps out of the car and more lightning flashes reveal a strange little body with a  huge head pined under the car. while the couple tries to figure things out,  we see the creatures hand fall off and crawl over to the tire. The severed hand has an eyeball on top of it’s veiny surface and as the eye is looking around sharp needles start to grow out of the finger tips…. next the hand dives at the tire and pops it from under the car…. This was all I could handle and I grabbed the dial and flipped it away from the horror that had just taken me over. I didn’t know what the movie was called I only knew it was a space movie and the scenes were so horrible that they haunted me for at least 20 years.. Fast forward to 1987 and my new sci-fi buddy Nelson Broskey and I are reminiscing about old movies and those scenes entered the conversation.. Without hesitation he said; OH that’s from “Invasion of the Saucer Men”.  It took a while but we tracked down a copy and watched it and sure enough this was the movie that damaged me so badly!!!    With this new knowledge I was an instant fan and not long after, Nelson and I tracked down a big movie and prop collector named Bob Burns,, I didn’t know who Bob was but Nelson knew all about him. We went to his house one evening and when he opened the door Rays of light emitted out into the yard and we were drawn in,,,,, it was like angels opening the gates of heaven and the light of God gently welcomed us to paradise.  Bob’s house was a museum of artifacts with very recognizable robot and monster heads on the wall where you entered and a slight right turn past the stairs opened into a room of cases full of props. movie monsters. matte paintings, and all the things that were  magic on the big screen. Bob was not only a fan of all of this stuff, but he had become the ultimate collector. In addition to his life long passion for Sci-Fi and horror he actually worked on a string of classic b movies from the mid to late 50’s. We all became good friends right away and frequent visits were always in order when Nelson would come to town.   As time went on Bob would tell us stories of those fun days working with Paul Blaisdale on so many great movies including today’s classic “Invasion of the the Saucer Men”. For the anniversary I thought it would be fun to call Bob and chat with him about the film and he was very excited to reminisce and share his adventure with us all today.  Invasion of the Saucer Men was based on a short story that was featured in the May 1955 magazine “Amazing Stories” and was written by, Paul Fairman. Bob say’s that Paul’s story was much more evil and terrifying than the comedic translation that the movie version took.

The film’s tale is a simple one and it begins with the opening of a book that states on the cover, “A true story”.  The credits are revealed by the flipping of the pages which feature whimsical alien drawings by Paul Blaisdell (The man responsible for creating all the creatures and models for the film). Once the movie gets under way a narrative starts up By Lyn Osborn who plays a character named Artie Burns in the film. This true story is basically his account of the evening and how he encountered aliens from another world. While the narrative fades off we come across a couple of teenage smoochers (played by Steven Terrell and Gloria Castillo) parked up at lovers lane. They are about to get on their way to elope but instead  run over an alien with their car.  The Alien’s  hand falls off and comes to life puncturing the kids tire leaving them stranded. The teens run to a nearby ranch (owned by Raymond Hatton) to call the police which jokingly do not believe them. The rancher comes home and chases the teens out of his house not believing their story and instead thinks they ran over one of his prize heifers. In the mean time a drunken fortune seeker named Joe Gruen (played by Frank Gorshin “The Riddler” from TV’s batman”) comes across the alien crushed under the teens car. He attempts to get the aliens body and take it home but is attacked by the other aliens who kill him by injecting him with alcohol from their needle sharp finger tips. Meanwhile a military unit has found the Alien craft and wind up blowing it up while trying to find a way in.  Back in the woods, the Aliens swap out their comrades body with the man they just killed, framing the teens for manslaughter. The teens finally get to the police who are booking them for running over Gruen. The lovers escape the police and get a hold of Joe Gruen’s business partner and room mate named Artie Burns  (Lyn Osborne) who believes the kids story and decides to help them out. Back at the army camp the soldiers are covering up all evidence that an alien space ship was once sitting there. The teens accompanied with Artie Burns  journey back into the woods and encounter the severed alien hand that is stalking them, as well as the whole tribe of aliens who are moving in to catch the them. The trio discovers that the aliens don’t like bright car lights.  While trying to keep their distance from the aliens the cars spotlight goes out and Artie is captured and injected with alcohol like his buddy was just a short time earlier. The teens decide to take maters into their own hands and race up to lovers lane and get the help from their friends. The gang all drive their cars with the lights out to the clearing where the flying saucer once was. They surround the aliens and turn on their headlights which in turn kills all of the saucer men. Artie Burns awakes drunk nearby and the story ends with a bit more of his narrative,,,, We see one more clip of the book with it’s final page saying “the end”, as the book closes the aliens severed hand is attached to the back cover which makes you wonder if the story really is over???

Production of “Saucermen” began on April the 8th 1957 and the live action was shot in 6 days at ZIV studios in Hollywood Ca. One additional day was for the VFX and was shot at the Howard Anderson studio for a grand total of 7 days for the entire film to be shot in. Bob Burns worked with Paul Blaisdell on most of his monster movies and I was so glad that he shared so many memories  about their working together on Saucermen. Bob filled me in with all the above details as well as what is coming up next. Bob and Paul were on the set everyday performing in all the moments where the creatures would interact with cast. A group of midgets were cast as the Aliens and Paul and Bob created their terrifying masks and hands. Actor Lyn Osborn lended his vocal talents as the creatures strange little voices, and the noises he did were quite creepy. The midget cast were dressed in full head to toe suits and masks and were used primarily for full figure and medium to close shots. When it came time for detailed and extremely tight close ups, the masks would be worn by either Bob or Paul. If there was a scene featuring a single Alien hiding in the bushes, the monster would be played by Bob,, if you would see two creatures in the scene it would be both Bob and Paul. For the close up attack scenes Where you would see the aliens hand injecting a human or an animal, You would be seeing Paul working the hand, and Bob posing as the Victims. In a few scenes of the film Larkin’s prize bull will be scene  interacting with both the teens and the aliens, this again was Bob acting with a big fake bull head. In one particular scene the teen lovers are in a stolen police car and the severed alien hand is climbing up the back of the seat to get them. Bob and another actress were doubling for Steven Terrell and Gloria Castillo, their job was to sit in the front seat of the car while Paul Blaisdell, dressed in black was stuck in the cramped back seat all dressed in black puppeteering the aliens severed hand. Bob says the heat of the lights in that car was grueling to say the least and it took quite a while to get the scenes done.  Haaa, these guys did so much behind the scenes stuff that they’re practically in every shot of the film in one way or another. The film was directed by Edward Cahn, and Bob had nothing but praise for this man. Mr. Cahn came to the show very prepared and unless something went wrong,  he would rarely shoot a second take. Working with actor Lyn Osborne was a big treat for Bob especially because he was a huge fan of Osborne. Lyn starred as Cadet Happy from Televisions first SC-FI show called “Space Patrol” from the early 50’s. Bob’s working with Lyn would be the same as you or I working with Captain Kirk or Darth Vader. Lyn was on his way to becoming a bigger star and getting larger roles but a brain tumor claimed his life only two short years later. What an awesome and memorable time this must have been to work with your favorite television idol….  Talking about all the sets for the show, Bob was saying that they were all built on one stage, and they were accessible at any time. Standing in the center of the stage you could see in one corner the exteriors of the police station and the diner, in the next corner you had the exterior for Larken’s farm. The next corner was all of the interiors and the rest of the stage was of the woodsy forest locations and all the roads for the various other scenes for the film.   When it came to day seven, Paul and Bob went over to Howard A. Anderson’s VFX studio to spend the day shooting all the effects and insert shots for the film. The unions at the time weren’t as strict as they are today and an FX artist could do a lot more on stage than they can now. There was an FX coordinator assigned to the show and according to all accounts he was quite arrogant and very difficult to work with. He would constantly try to change what was simple and make it his own and of course much more difficult. He overloaded the pyro saucer with to much blast powder despite everyone saying so and completely over did out the effect.  He re-rigged the elaborate puppet rig that Paul had created for the saucer landing, and it worked miserably in comparison.  Next he glued out of scale ferns on a board for the saucer to land behind,,, and this went on for a  a good part of the day. The crew, including Anderson gripped about the problems he was causing and the coordinator stormed off the stage and never came back. Once gone the rest of the filming was completed with a lot of laughs. The finished filmed was released just two months later on June the 19th 1957 and was double billed with “I was a teenage werewolf” as I was mentioning earlier. This film is classic from it’s time and is still a blast  to see to this day. Ronald Stein composed a fantastic score (which you can get on CD) and it added so much to the story…  This movie is a hard one to find and has not been released legally due to stubborn family ownership of the titles, so bootlegs and youtube are about the only way to see it. If you can track one down don’t hesitate to add it to your guilty pleasure collection. So with all that said Happy 55th anniversary to “Invasion of the Saucer Men” and a great big thank you to Bob Burns for sharing so much about this fun movie. Below are so pix from Bob’s private collection as well as some classic grabs from the film. Enjoy and stay tuned for more behind the scenes movie talk with the people who created them.

AI logo shot

a true story

and the story begins

some stock footage of a middle American town

Johnny is waiting for his girl Joan

Frank Gorshin (AKA the Riddler) see’s something in the sky

Frank Gorshin

the UFO arrives

The next seven pictures are all I saw as a kid and I was terrified for years because of what I saw on the screen…  johnny and Joan run into the alien

a flash of lightning reveals a little body under the car

the reverse shot of it’s huge head

the wiggling hand breaking away from the wrist.

needles grow out the aliens wicked little hand

the alien hand shoves it’s needle like finger nails deep into the tire and puncturing it.

Johnny hears the hiss of air and see’s his tire go flat,,,,, This was more than I could handle and I quickly flipped the channel and ran n hid in my room, HAAAA!

Gorshin races home to tell his buddy Artie, (Lyn Osborne) about the UFO, Artie brushes him off and goes back to bed!

Gorshin races back to the alien under the car and can’t dislodge the little guy.

the alien is greasy and disgusting,

The aliens retaliate and attack Gorshin with their alcohol injecting fingers.

Bob Burns stands in for Gorshin and gets injected by the alien hand

Johnny and Joan think there getting help from the police only to find out that there being booked for Manslaughter.

Meanwhile back in the woods the army engineers try to get in the ship only to set off a self destruct mechanism

and up in smoke n fire she goes

Johnny and Joan escape from the police and get some help from Gorshin’s room mate (Lyn Osborn). The trio discover that the aliens don’t like bright lights.

the car battery slowly dies from the drain of the spotlight and the aliens start to move in

Bob Burns stands in again only this time for Lyn Osborn

Joan and johnny escape the aliens as Osborn is getting attacked,,, They flee to lovers lane and get all their friends to follow them and surround the aliens with their cars. The teens turn on their headlights simultaneously and kill all the creatures thus saving the world from an alien invasion.

the end!!!!

or is it???

from the collection of Bob Burns comes this cool pic of the aliens head and hands. note the little suckers on the inside of the fingers.

#2 from Mr.Burns
Bob and Paul goofing around,

#3 from Bob.
This is of Bob himself getting injected with the needles, OUCH!!

#4 from Bob,
The Larken’s ranch set

#5 from Bob,
the set shots of the police station and the soda fountain.

#6 from Bob,
two stock shots of cars driving from the film,, Note how the cars don’t even match.
included is one of Blaisdale’s title cards

and last but not least one of the production stills of all the aliens grouped around the car


18
Jun
12

firefox, the 30th anniversarry

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