June the 4th 1982, What a great day in movie history and this one and Star Trek II both opened at the same time.. I saw trek II first and Poltergeist second all on the 4th . I was a huge Spielberg fan and I couldn’t believe he had two movies coming out and just weeks apart. I thought I was in heaven with all that this man had going on… Tobe Hooper was the director of Poltergeist and the story came from Steven’s wild imagination. And my oh my what a dark imagination he has!!! The premise is a ghost story set in modern suburbia. Mr. Spielberg was at the top of his game with this one and I do miss these times when he wrote movies himself. Needless to say this is one of my all time favorite films and I find it so hard to believe that it is 30 years old. Poltergeist is quite a flashback to the 80’s especially with the hair styles, home decor, and the way families functioned, much like my watching the educational films of the 50’s in the 80’s, is probably what it’s like watching Poltergeist by today’s teens. One of the big changes from then in now is that in 1982 Television stations operated on a hourly basis and at the end of the broadcast day the channels would go to static till the next day. The channels would either end with a short aviation film called “High Flight” or with the “National Anthem”. Poltergeist could never be done today because TV stations never go off the air anymore… Both, Spielberg’s ET and Poltergeist were being shot very close to each other geographically and a lot of rumors at the time were that Spielberg had directed both and Hooper was only credited as the director. It took many years to show this story for what is was, A Rumor and Hooper started to receive the credit he so deserved. Back to the story, we find the movie opening in a lovely neighborhood where all the houses look identical and life outside of the city is fun and peaceful. Neighbors all get together for football games on TV and everything in the world is right,,,,or is it.. A family known as the Freelings live in one of these lovely homes and slowly but surly unexplainable things begin to happen shortly after the Nation Anthem ends the TV broadcast for the night. Furniture moves, forks bend, vices are heard through the TV when the signal is off. The activities continue to happen to the point where the families daughter( Carol Anne) who is the focus of the activities is pulled from the physical world and taken to the spiritual world.. This was pretty heavy storytelling at the time because what is a common topic of conversation now (the Paranormal) it wasn’t then. Moving on Their daughter is taken and the family quietly but desperately acquire the help of some paranormal experts who discover that there is something very wrong with the Freeling home. The scientist bring in a medium who puts the pieces together and discovers it is the beast himself that is holding their daughter at bay and using her to keep the departed souls from finding their way to the light and Heaven. A way is found to get their daughter back which at the moment is a good thing. But it only leads to the rage of the beast going on a full scale war against the family in his attempts to get Carol Anne back. In the process we discover that the lovely neighborhood known as (Questa Verde) has been built on top of an old cemetery. The family escapes barely and their home is sucked into vortex and taken back to Hell. Poltergeist is a wickedly fun tale and Hooper’s mastery of horror is more than evident with his exceptional work done here. Jerry Goldsmith set a new high with his incredibly disturbing music that he composed for this scary little ghost story. His use of choir and children’s voices added an uneasy element which carried a frightening mood throughout the entire film.. It is clearly one of his finest scores from the 80’s and a landmark score from his accomplished history! The casting was perfect and the performances by Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O”Rourke, and Zelda Rubinstein are incredible as well as those by the many actors making up the supporting cast. The production design by James H. Spencer is brilliantly executed at setting both a peaceful neighborhood imprisoned it the bowls of hell. James talents reach far and wide in scope and genre and he is still an active and creative force in the movie industry to this day. ILM was the place where the bewitching VFX came from and they had to create and invent a whole slew of new technologies to pull this one off. They did so with the brilliance they have become known for and I so loved the the vast array of work they did for Poltergeist. This is a great film and I hope you all have had as much fun with this one as I did,,, So with that said Happy 30th to Poltergeist!
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On June the 4th 1982, two incredible movies open at the same time, Steven Spielbergs “Poltergeist” and “Star Trek II, The wrath of Khan” I was up in San jose visiting my buddy Mark Zainer who is an avid Star Trek fan.. We were arguing about which movie to see, I wanted Poltergeist and he wanted Trek,,,, Since he was driving Trek was the first choice.. As much as I liked Star Trek The motion Picture I wasn’t a huge fan and I really wasn’t up for seeing the sequel. The first Trek film left me wanting what the old series had and that was character and storyand I didn’t want to sit for two hours plus staring down the throat of V’ger again. So reluctantly I went and I have to say that within 10 minutes of the movie I was loving it,,,,and by the end I was a huge fan!!! Trek II did what I so wanted The Motion Picture to do and it did so with flying colors. The story was brilliant and expanding on the episode “Space Seed” from the original series was a masterful idea. Ricardo Monalban reprized his role with a vengeance and his poetic use of quotes from Gregory Peck’s “Moby Dick” made him not just a villain but a man who’s heart has been broken and revenge was a righteous and pleasurable justification of his pain. The original cast put out stellar performances as well and the chemistry between the actors that we all loved from the original series was back in full swing. Several new characters were added to the storyline, which were Kristie Alley as Saavik, Bibi Besch as Carol Marcus, and Merritt Butrick as David Marcus (Captain kirk’s son) The addition of Kirk’s old love and their son added such a new and deeper layer to the story that was an unexpected surprise. The script written by Gene Roddenberry, Harve Bennett, Jack B. Sowards, and Samual A. Peeples. stands high as a classic in the Trek film world and each of theses gentleman have a lot to be proud of!!!!! Their story was so deep and except for Psycho I don’t think I have ever seen a major character die in a film… Such a brave move and his heroic death was another unexpected twist,,, I couldn’t believe it… Spock was dead,, the entire theater was balling their eyes out… On a visionary point of view, ILM took over the visual Effects on this one and there work was on the level of perfection. ILM was one busy shop in 82 with three huge films coming out within weeks of each other. Their work was VFX artistry at it’s best with incredible miniature shots and their creation of the star fields and nebula’s where breathtaking… I so miss the cloud tank and wish it would return to the big screen but like the entire world of physical special Effects those days are gone for good. The introduction of the USS Reliat was too an incredible moment. Her creators Mike Minor, and Joe Jennings did a fabulous job constructing a new and favorite Starship to the fleet. As much as I loved the Enterprise, The Reliant was instantly my new Favorite and in many ways still is today. When I was reading the poster in line I was a bit disappointed at not seeing Jerry Goldsmiths name as the composer. Jerry also was having a busy Summer with his work being featured in Poltergeist, The “Secret of Nim”, and “First Blood” I don’t know if Jerry was approached about Wrath of Khan or if Paramount wanted all new blood on this outing but not seeing his name worried me. I was only slightly familiar with James Honer’s work and I thought that this man has some big shoes to fill.. Once again when the film was about 10 minutes in I was a fan of what James had done. His score was huge huge, romantic and full of high paced action sequences that added so much to the story! The complete soundtrack finally came out only a few years ago and I was so glad to have this work in it’s entirety. All in all Trek II made for a fabulous night at the movies and I am sure many of you will agree with me, the best of the Trek films by far.I can’t say enough about this one and the summer of 82 was such an inspiring season for films… I used to leave the theaters with such a love for what was on the screen and yearned so much to be a part of the movie industry,,, Little did I know I only had three more years to wait. HAAAA!!!!!!! Lots of fun an and great memories of times long ago… So with all this said Happy 30th to The Wrath of Khan!
May 28th, 2012 marks the passing of a dear friend and a Hollywood Legend. Matt Yuricich was one of the greatest Matte Painters the movie industry has ever seen, and his Oscar winning talents span decades of incredible motion picture masterpieces. I met Matt at Apogee in early 1987 and he was hidden in a dark back room of the shop painting away for a small show the company had going on.. I didn’t know much about his history but I did know he did the paintings for Blade Runner and Ghostbusters… It took a while for him to ease in to a conversation but I quickly found out that he was as big of a fan of Ding Dongs as I was.. It was an odd ice breaker but from there on he would always ask if I had anymore when I would walk by, HAAA! He was at the shop for about two months and it was always a treat to watch him work when I could sneak over. He was a gentleman, an artist and a very funny man. I always remembered those days of working with one of my idols and his passing is a sad one indeed.. Years later I found out he worked on Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” and it was a thrill to find out that he did all of my favorite paintings from the film..
Below is a link to a tribute page put together by NZpete from a couple of years ago and he has really put together an awesome array of Matt’s work from the beginning to the end. Goodby Matt and thanks for sharing your talents with us both on and off the screen. God’s speed my friend.
article to follow after memorial day,, off to Wonderfest so hold on lots to come for this one
article to follow
Howdy all, this Monday marks the 30th Anniversary of one of my all time favorite movies, “THE ROAD WARRIOR.” I was racing the clock to get this art work done, printed and mailed so I could get the May 21st Post Mark from Burbank…just made it and got them in the mail today. I usually draw the art for the Motion Picture covers but this time I was only allowed time for a photoshop montage. Here are the two versions created, and I would love to get some feed back on which version works best….
May the 14th, 1982, 30 years ago today the unmatched movie summer of 1982 begins….
The first big movie to kick off the season was Universal Pictures’ Conan the Barbarian. I had been waiting for this one for well over three years, when it was announced somewhere in 1979 that Super Body Builder Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast to play the starring role. Like most of my friends at the gym, Arnold was a huge role model, and everyone aspired to work out hard and to be like him!!! It was a huge day when the news came out that the king was going to be Conan; Arnold was born to play this part and, although his acting is not his sharpest talent, looking invincible and destroying everything with a sword was!!!
I was going to college in Arizona at the time, and my movie going buddies Rod Andrewson, Steve Boltz, Mark Zainer, and my cousin Jeff Goff were all ready for this one. Opening night at the Mann’s Christown Theater was packed, and once the movie started, the cheers and howls never stopped. The film was 2 hour + roller coaster ride of incredible carnage and violence that was pretty hard to take at the time. This was the begining of the bloody epic films, and the Summer of 82 had several more in store before the season was through.
Conan was an incredible film. It is epic in it’s scope and visual scenery, and it stays fairly faithful to the novels by Robert E. Howard. The film was written for the screen by Oliver Stone and John Milius (who was also the director). Ron Cobb was the production Designer, William Stout and Pier Luigi Basile made up the rest of the art department. Cobb’s work has always been the cornerstone of my inspiration and art career and, for me, Conan was a visual feast of Ron’s talent. From Swords to Temples his imagination was free to run wild, as well as the fine works of Stout and Basile. The incredible costumes were designed by John Bloomfield, and there are so many styles and tribes of people he had to design for, not to mention a huge cast of actors and hundreds and hundreds of extras that had to be suited.
One of my favorite parts of the film is the musical score composed by Basil Poledouris. Basil is legendary and his work for Conan is definitely one of his many shining stars!!! A robust and Romantic score filled with memorable themes, and his use of the choir only added to the majesty of the underlying voice he created to carry us to another place and time. There are many versions of this soundtrack out but there are only one or two complete scores available. These would be the best to seek out. The original soundtrack was on vinyl and accompanied the release of the film. Because of the time restrictions of an LP there was only about 45 minutes of music to listen to from a 70 to 80 minute complete score. Not until I did find the complete soundtrack some 20 years later did I realize how much beautiful, subtle music there was carrying the easier moments in the movie.
The filming locations for the most part were all in Spain except for a few in Canada. Duke Callaghan’s cinematography is breathtaking to say the least, and his use of natural light and surroundings added yet another beautiful layer to the films exotic look. The casting was perfect from the big parts to the minor roles, and there were some big names in this one. James Earl Jones as the evil Thulsa Doom, Max von Sydow as King Osric, and Mako as the wizard. Arnold’s costars were excellently cast, and their parts made for the right character balance for supporting roles. Gerry Lopez played Subotai the archer, and Sandahl Bergman played Conan’s love and protector Valeria. This was a big role or Sadahl who was previously a professional dancer. Her work can be seen in “All that Jazz” and also as one of Olivia Newton John’s sister muse’s in (one of my guilty pleasure films) “Xanadu”.
I’m sure most of you reading this have seen “Conan,” but for those of you who haven’t, it is worth your time. The movie is dated but stands the test of time pretty well. Lots of long establishing shots and fixed camera dialog scenes let you know your in the 80’s, and I find it a fresh reminder that the camera does not have to be moving at all times to tell a story.
Milius succeeded in turning a fairly simple story into a much larger than life motion Picture. “Conan” cost 20 million dollars to make, and at the time that was a fairly expensive price tag. Box office grosses were high and the film made it’s money back inside of it’s first two weeks in theaters. Overall the film was loved by moviegoers and received mostly positive ratings from the critics…I saw this one at least 6 times over the Summer, and it was a must VHS purchase when it came out the following Summer.
There is a lot out on the web about this movie so below are some of my fav links to go to if you’re in the mood for more about “CONAN THE BARBARIAN.” If you’re an old reader to this blog, You know a lot about production designer Ron Cobb. If you’re a new reader, here is a link to a post from several years ago showing Ron’s art from Conan… https://johneaves.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/conan-and-cobb/ The art of Bill stout can be seen at, http://conancompletist.com/EN/william_stout.html This is a fabulous website telling you everything about everything Conan, http://conancompletist.com/EN/home.htm
OK fellow fans have fun, and hope you enjoy the grabs below.