Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

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I think I’ve mentioned before that the Disney films made between Sleeping Beauty in 1959 (the end of Disney’s Golden Age) and The Little Mermaid in 1989 (the start of the Disney Renaissance) often get overlooked or underrated because they’re not quite up to the standards of either era (or at least that’s the perception). A classic example of this is 1981’s The Fox and the Hound, a good film that is criminally neglected and yet it has one of the most disturbing sequences I’ve ever seen.

The Fox and the Hound “The Bear” (1981)

In summary: The Fox and the Hound is about…you guessed it…a fox and a hound who become friends (despite being natural enemies). The fox, named Todd, is eventually set loose in a game preserve to keep him safe from a gruff hunter and his hound Copper (formerly Todd’s friend). But the hunter wants to kill Todd for nearly getting his other hunting dog Chief killed and so he trespasses onto the preserve to hunt the fox down, laying a series of steel traps by a secluded watering area. The trap nearly works, but at the last moment Todd senses the danger and runs for it. In the ensuing chase (including another disturbing moment I’ll cover next time), the hunter believes he has Todd cornered in some bushes, but he is so very wrong. Instead of the fox, the hunter has cornered THIS:

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Even referring to this bear as “a bear” is an understatement; he’s practically a monster in the way he’s presented as this huge snarling mass of muscle and teeth (the demonic red eyes add to the monstrous impression). And then there’s the SIZE of this beast; even though the bear is colored black, in size he’s really more like a grizzly bear (which doesn’t make sense as I believe this story is supposed to be set in Appalachia).

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The sheer viciousness of the bear’s assault is terrifying, and also not surprising, considering he’s been disturbed by this raucous hunter (and also shot). But the disturbing part comes when the hunter’s foot gets caught in one of his own traps and the bear comes closer and closer for the kill. Even though he’s an antagonist, this hunter is facing a pretty agonizing way to die and he can’t do a thing about it.

And then there’s the fight between Todd, Copper and the bear. This huge bear is just THROWING these two around like nothing, and it’s painful to watch. The entire sequence has me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, especially when the bear has Todd cornered on a fallen tree perched halfway up a huge waterfall (the ominous music tells you this will end badly). This bear is an excellent example of Disturbing Disney (I hope you enjoy the full scene up above).

What do you think of the bear in The Fox and the Hound? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

For more Disturbing Disney, see here

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Blade Runner 2049 trailer….it actually looks good!

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Blade Runner 2049: Official Trailer

Aw man…I was really hoping that the more I learned about this still-unnecessary sequel to Blade Runner, the more I would not like it and not HAVE to see it. But I saw the full trailer yesterday and dang it all now I HAVE to see it!!

As far as I can tell, it looks like this film does as much as possible to match the look and feel of the original (down to the driving rain and decrepit skyline). And…I’m hoping the use of Vangelis’ music in the trailer means we’ll hear something very much like it in the actual film.

My biggest thought though is…Jared Leto is in this film? I must have missed an announcement somewhere because I had no idea (unless it was a surprise that they’re just unveiling now). I also recognized Dave Bautista (that’s interesting), and I wonder what type of character he’s playing.

The big question I’d like to ask is: what’s up with the deserted city area that Ryan Gosling’s character goes to to find Deckard? I have this thought that maybe this is the ruins of Los Angeles and the active city seen in the trailer is somewhere else, but I’m not sure. The point is, this film looks a LOT more interesting than I thought it might be. So definitely count me in for Blade Runner 2049.

Final thoughts: What happened to Rachael? If Deckard is really a replicant, why/how is he still alive 30 years later? And…I’m going to call it now, I bet Ryan Gosling’s character is some new kind of replicant/human hybrid.

What do YOU think of the trailer for Blade Runner 2049? Are you surprised by how good it looks? Can it possibly live up to the glory of the original? Will there be three separate versions like with the original film?? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Blade Runner 2049 is scheduled to be released on October 6th, 2017

For more Quick and Random Thoughts, see here

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

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WARNING: Spoilers of varying sizes will be found in this review. DO NOT read until you’ve seen the film (unless you don’t care if some epic plot twists are spoiled, in which case, carry on).

It’s been a long three years since I saw Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and for a while it felt like the sequel would NEVER get here. But finally the great day arrived and it was totally worth the wait!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was everything I dreamed it would be, an epic return to the zany world of blue space pirates, trigger-happy raccoons and talking baby trees. And speaking of….HOW ADORABLE IS BABY GROOT???? Seriously, that little guy practically stole the film! He was almost too cute for his own good (even the minor villains were commenting on his cuteness at one point), but it added some levity to some pretty dark moments (like when half of Yondu’s crew was ejected into the vacuum of space, yeah, you read that right). And the post-credits scene featuring Teenage Groot was just hilarious. It literally consists of Groot sitting in his messy room (messy with tree vines) playing video games while Star-Lord admonishes him to clean up his room.

It was great to see Yondu back, even if I was slightly confused about his situation at first. When we first see the space pirate again (after he was tricked out of an Infinity Stone by Quill), he has (apparently) been exiled from the Ravagers for breaking their code, something involving the trafficking of children. I assumed they were referring to Yondu kidnapping Peter all those years ago, but it turns out that was only the tip of the iceberg (more on that later). Yondu has a pretty up and down time in this film: he starts off being an exiled captain, is taken prisoner by mutineers, and then retakes his ship with the help of Baby Groot, Rocket and one loyal crewmember in one of the most epic montage scenes I’ve seen in YEARS (lets just say his telekinetic arrow has a starring role).

Star-Lord’s team is as hilarious as ever (though I do feel like Drax burst into laughter one time too many, but that’s nitpicking). The tension between Gamora and Peter is beginning to grow palpable (she totally digs him even if she won’t quite admit it, but he definitely knows he loves her, or at least has very strong feelings for her). I wouldn’t be surprised if those two are together by the end of Vol. 3.

Now let’s move on to Ego, The Living Planet, aka Star-Lord’s long-lost father. When I first heard that this character would be in the film, I was totally confused (I’ve never read the comics), and could not visualize what a living planet would look like. Actually, at first I thought Peter would just be talking to a giant planet for most of the time. But I have to say, the film did a great job of explaining how Ego is able to appear and travel as he does. And Kurt Russell was totally the best choice to play Star-Lord’s father, they totally act just the same way!! It explains so much about Peter, it really does. And the surface of Ego was so beautiful, perfect and so Eden-like…that I really should have figured out that much sooner that something was terribly wrong (like, before Mantis dropped the hint by nearly spilling the beans to Drax the first time). There’s an old saying, that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And while it IS true that Ego is Peter’s father (the opening scene set in 1980 establishes that), he is hardly an ideal parent. The way Ego presents his story, he’s spent the last 30 years or so searching for his son, his ONLY son, so they can finally be together as father and son. It sounds nice, but considering he’s lived for millions of years I should’ve considered there was more to it than that. One of the first things they do together is see if Peter can connect to Ego’s essence, referred to as “The Light”, which resides at the core of the planet. Peter can do it, which makes Ego really happy, but not because it proves beyond a doubt that Peter is his son, but because it now gives him a means to an end.

(WARNING, I’m about to spoil the big plot twist of the film): See, Ego isn’t this benevolent immortal looking to play catch-up with his son. He’s actually a little (lot) crazy and has come to the belief that his purpose in life is to fill the universe (or at least the galaxy) with replicas of himself. To this end, he’s spent the last million years or so planting essences of himself on every planet he’s ever come across (we see Earth’s at the beginning of the film, though we don’t know exactly what it is then). And on each of those planets, he made sure to sire a child, because, though he has the ability to plant these essences, he can’t activate them without the help of a second Celestial. But until Peter, none of this children, none of his MILLIONS of children, have possessed the right genes. So what did Ego do? He KILLED them!! Gamora and Nebula discover a series of caves below the surface that are filled to the brim with bones, millions of bones. And every last one belongs to Ego’s children, many of whom were brought to the planet by Yondu and his pirates (this is why the Ravagers exiled him). Yondu was paid handsomely to turn a blind eye to what was happening, but when he was sent to fetch Peter, he couldn’t bring himself to take the boy, because he figured he would die like the others. Now, all of this is bad enough, but then Ego admits one of the most shocking statements I’ve ever heard. In describing the glories of being a Celestial, Ego tells him (Peter) that they are “above mortals.” But then, what about Peter’s mother? “You said you loved my mother” Peter reminds him, and Ego admits that he really did love Meredith Quill, so much so that had he visited her on Earth a 4th time, he would have stayed on the planet and never left.

“It really broke my heart…” he says “When I had to put that tumor in her head.”

WHAT?? (I swear you could’ve heard the gasp all throughout the theater). Crazy Ego god-planet guy say WHAT???

As the opening of the first film established, Peter’s mother died of brain cancer, a long and tortuous way to die. NOW we learn that Ego PUT the cancer there in the first place!!!!! This knowledge pushes Peter over the edge (he loved his mother more than anyone) and leads into the climactic battle between father and son.

Of course the big lesson of this film is that family isn’t defined just by blood, it’s also who raised you, who forms actual bonds with you. The Guardians are more Peter’s family than Ego ever could have been. And as for Peter’s father…well, it was Yondu who really raised him, a fact that neither really admits to themselves until nearly the end of the film when….*gulps* when Yondu sacrifices his life to save Peter’s. Oh, that moment about broke my heart. Yondu tells Peter that “He (Ego) may have been your father, but he wasn’t your daddy!” And then he put the last spacesuit capsule-thing on Peter so he would be safe when they entered the vacuum on space, and all Peter can do is cry and scream in denial as Yondu dies right in front of him (that has to be one of the saddest moments ever in the MCU).

I’m so excited to see where the Guardians go from here, as we’ll next see them in Avengers: Infinity War (I sincerely hope Peter and Iron Man bump heads figuratively, I just know those two won’t get along at first). I also hope that Nebula gets the chance to exact vengeance on Thanos for everything he did to her as a child. I knew Thanos was cruel, but to do all of THAT to his own child…

I could probably keep going for another 1000 words, but these are the bulk of my thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. Final verdict: it is definitely a film worth seeing and it totally lives up to the hype.

What did YOU think of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2? Did you like it, not like it, prefer the original instead? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

For more Quick and Random Thoughts, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Exciting news for Film Music Central!

There are exciting things coming for Film Music Central! Just yesterday, I was contacted about conducting interviews with several film and television composers, and I’m very excited to announce that the first interview I will be doing is with Scott Doherty, the composer for the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black!!

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Given that each new season of OITNB is released in its entirety, I am very curious to learn about the process of composing for this show. An interview date hasn’t been set yet, but it should be around early June. And this is just the first composer interview, there will definitely be more to come after this.

I know when I interviewed Adam Blau in January that I hoped this was the start of more good things to come, well, it looks like those good things are here 🙂 I cannot wait to share this interview with you next month!

That’s all for me today, have a good Thursday!

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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47 Meters Down: I should NOT have watched that trailer!!

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47 Meters Down Trailer

To paraphrase Hagrid: “I shouldn’t have done that. I should NOT have done that!”

“That” is referring to watching the trailer for 47 Meters Down, a survival horror film scheduled to be released on June 16th. Now, if you’ve read my blog before, you know that with the exception of the Alien franchise, horror films and myself do NOT mix, so you’re probably asking “What the hell are you doing watching a trailer for this kind of movie?”

Well…you know how lately when a new trailer is released it can come out as a long ad on YouTube before the video you want plays? That’s what happened this morning, and I got curious to see what it was about.

Remember the film Open Water where two scuba divers must fend off sharks in the middle of the ocean? 47 Meters Down is a similar premise, but much, MUCH worse. In the trailer, two ladies have traveled to Mexico for a vacation and are talked into going on a shark cage excursion, where they wear scuba gear, get into a shark cage, and watch the Great White sharks (because movies with Great Whites always end well, don’t they?) swim around them. One massive shark in particular freaks the ladies out so they ask to be lifted back up, but as they’re being raised, the cable snaps and the cage PLUMMETS to the bottom of the sea, settling at…you guessed it….47 meters down. This isn’t spoilers by the way, I saw all of this in the trailer and by the time the cage reached the bottom I was freaking out! Because, as far as I can tell, the bulk of the plot is spent on these two ladies trapped in a shark tank, at the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by killer sharks, with their air tanks slowly running out. (2:1 says they don’t get out alive)

If you like this kind of film, rock on because you will love it. But as for me, I’m going to stay as far away from this film as possible to avoid the nightmares of killer sharks that would inevitably fill my head.

For more Quick and Random Thoughts, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Cancelled Too Soon #12: The Magnificent Seven (1998-2000)

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Did you know that CBS made a television series based on the popular western The Magnificent Seven (1960)?? If you didn’t, don’t feel too upset, up until a few years ago, I didn’t know the show existed either, but oh my goodness it is amazing!!

The show is loosely based on the same premise as the film, where a group of seven gunmen, led by Chris, band together to protect a town. Only in the show, they’re protecting a frontier town out West, and not a Mexican village south of the border. These are also not quite the same cast of characters from the film either. The ‘seven’ of the Magnificent Seven are:

Chris Larabee (Michael Biehn): The leader of the group, and based on the “Chris” character played by Yul Brynner in the original film

Vin Tanner (Eric Close): A bounty hunter and tracker, closely based on the “Vin” character played by Steve McQueen in the original film.

Ezra Standish (Anthony Starke): A southern con-man and gambler, who often struggles with moral dilemmas regarding what he does best. He really has a heart of gold though.

Josiah Sanchez (Ron Perlman): A preacher and former gunfighter who often provides spiritual aid to the group and others. He works on building a church for the town.

Nathan Jackson (Rick Worthy): A former slave who worked as a stretcher-bearer for the Union Army in the Civil War. He learned a lot about medicine and works as the healer for the group, as well as the town they protect. He is an expert with throwing knives

J.D. Dunne (Andrew Kavovit): A ‘city-slicker’ from the East Coast, J.D. has come West to make his fortune as a gunfighter, and has a hard time being taken seriously by the group (at first). Of all the seven, he gets hurts the most (he’s been shot, stabbed and royally beat up).

Buck Wilmington (Dale Midkiff): The ladies’ man of the group, Buck is the best friend of Chris, and has known him the longest. He’s always romancing at least two women at a time in town, though it rarely ends well for him.

With such a diverse cast of characters and great storytelling, it astounds me that this show ONLY ran for two seasons (and short seasons at that!!) Actually, it is my understanding that the reason The Magnificent Seven was renewed for season 2 was due to a fan campaign to keep the show going. I can only speculate that CBS ultimately killed the show because it wasn’t doing well enough in ratings to justify going forward into a third season, which is a shame because it’s one of the best TV shows derived from a film that I’ve ever seen. The late Robert Vaughn (who starred as one of the original Magnificent Seven in the 1960 film) was a frequent guest star as travelling judge Orrin Travis, and it was always fun to see him show up.

Fortunately, the entire series has been released on DVD, so it’s not too hard to pick up a copy and enjoy every single episode. Still, I can’t help but wish there were more seasons available, this is definitely a show that was cancelled too soon.

To see more shows that were cancelled too soon, see here

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Bernard Herrmann talks The Bride Wore Black (1968)

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Bernard Herrmann talks The Bride Wore Black (1968)

Normally when I share composer interviews, it’s for a relatively current film. But when I found an interview for the 1968 film The Bride Wore Black that was given by composer Bernard Herrmann, I just knew I had to share it with you.

The Bride wore Black (released in France as  La Mariée était en noir) is a revenge film directed by Francois Truffaut. It tells the story of a woman named Julie Kohler, whose husband is killed on her wedding day as they’re leaving the church. The crime occurred because five men were horsing around with a loaded rifle in a building across the street and it went off, fatally striking the newly married groom. After learning the identities of the men responsible, Kohler sets out to kill every last man responsible.

The new widow is completely ruthless in her pursuit of vengeance:

  • victim #1 is pushed off a balcony
  • victim #2 is poisoned
  • victim #3 is locked in a small closet where he suffocates to death (she sealed the door shut with duct tape
  • victim #4 would’ve been killed with a handgun but the police arrested him before she could get him
  • victim #5 is shot in the back (fatally) with an arrow as she posed for a painting of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt. After noticing that he’s painted her on the wall in a mural, Julie decides to leave the painting as is, knowing the evidence will lead to her arrest. After arriving at jail (where still-alive victim #4 is also serving time), she ends up working in the kitchen where she is last seen taking a food cart towards the men’s side of the prison (a scream implying she’s completed her task of vengeance).

The music for this film was written by the legendary composer Bernard Herrmann (perhaps best known for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock on four of his films, including Psycho). I haven’t found many interviews with Herrmann thus far, so it is fascinating to hear him talking about his work with any film. I admit I haven’t actually seen The Bride Wore Black (not yet anyway), but after watching this interview and reading more about the plot, I definitely need to check this film out.

What do you think of Bernard Herrmann talking about The Bride Wore Black? Have you seen the film? And if you have, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, have a great Monday!!

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Bernard Herrmann, see here

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