Tag Archives: film

RIP Haruo Nakajima (1929-2017)

If you’ve seen any of the first 12 Godzilla films, then you saw Haruo Nakajima without ever seeing his face. Nakajima was the man inside the suit and brought Godzilla to life. He also portrayed Rodan, Moguera, Varan, Mothra in larval form, Baragon, King Kong and Gaira. Many considered him to be the best suit actor in the history of the Godzilla franchise. He also had a small part in Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, among other films.

Nakajima displayed an amazing talent for bringing the kaiju to life, these are performances that will be remembered for all time. I haven’t seen many of the Godzilla films outside of the original, but I remember being spellbound while watching the king of monsters go on the rampage. Even though I KNEW it was a man in a rubber suit, it still felt so real.

Rest in peace, Godzilla won’t feel quite the same without you.

RIP Glen Campbell (1936-2017)

120126074942-glen-campbell-retro-story-top

News broke a few days ago that legendary singer and songwriter Glen Campbell had passed away after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. It’s sad to lose such a great talent, but the good news is he’s not suffering any longer (Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease).

Rock-A-Doodle “Sun Do Shine” (1991)

Of course my knowledge of Campbell comes from his appearance in the 1991 animated film Rock-A-Doodle where he voices Chanticleer the rooster. It wasn’t until years later that I learned about his career as a singer. He also hosted a variety show called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from 1969 to 1972 and released over 70 albums. Of those, 12 went gold, 4 platinum and one double-platinum. He won four Grammy Awards and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 (also the year he made his final televised appearance, he’d revealed his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s the year before).

Rest in peace sir, your amazing voice is already missed.

 

The Masque of the Red Death: “The Dance of Death” (1964)

220px-MasqueOfTheRedDeath(1964film)

“The Dance of Death”

I came across Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death completely by accident several years ago when I was browsing through Netflix for something interesting to watch. While I generally don’t like horror, I do like Vincent Price very much, so I figured a film with Price in it couldn’t be THAT bad, so I gave it a try. The film is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name and tells the story of Prince Prospero (Price), a Satanist who invites several dozen nobles and their wives to stay in his castle while the Red Death ravages the countryside. He promises that as long as they stay inside the castle they are safe, but in reality Prospero knows that everyone is doomed…except for him of course. As he explains to a terrified Francesca (played by Jane Asher, she is a peasant girl that Prospero kidnapped at the start of the film), he (Prospero) has made a deal with Satan himself: in return for delivering all of these souls to Hell via the Red Death, not only will Prospero be spared from the plague, but a high seat in Hell is reserved for him (Prospero has previously denied the existence of God and Heaven and therefore believes that ruling in Hell is the best thing to hope for).

masque-of-the-red-death-5

From left to right: Prospero, Red Death and Francesca

For the film’s final ball scene, Prospero had commanded that nobody was to wear red (as it would be in bad taste). But, unknown to everyone, the living symbol of the Red Death has slipped into the castle and his presence lures Prospero into his Black Room. The Prince mistakenly believes that he is meeting with an ambassador of Satan who has come to “reward” him for his services (a claim the Red Death does not deny until Francesca is safely out of the castle where her lover Gino is waiting for her). As Prospero and the Red Death come back to the dancers, Death announces “It’s time for a new dance to begin…the Dance of Death!”

masque-of-the-red-death

Upon these words, the scene of mirthful dancing and partying is changed into a danse macabre. One by one, each pair of dancers becomes coated in red “blood” (the symbol of infection with Red Death) and begin a halting, staggering ballet. It’s never been quite clear to me if they’re already dead or not, but it is an unforgettable scene. I draw this moment to your attention because of the haunting melody that begins with the first transformation. As the camera slides up and down the figure of the first pair, a sad woodwind melody begins. It continues at a leisurely pace as Prospero and Death walk among them (Prospero is amused by all of it). But once Francesca is sent away, Death finally reveals that the Prince is very mistaken in his beliefs as he informs Prospero that “Death has no master.” When Prospero protests that “there is no God (because Satan “killed” him)” Death replies “He (Satan) does not rule alone. And your pact with him will not save you.” Prospero finally reaches out to see the face underneath the mask only to find…his own. As Death had earlier told him “There  is no face of Death, until the moment of your own death.” Seeing his own face reveals that it is Prospero’s time to die, a fate that the Prince tries to flee. And once he starts to run, the leisurely melody turns into an almost frantic march as the dancers swarm Prospero, looks of rage on their bloody faces. And at every opening…there is Death waiting with open arms. Finally, in a lumbering climax, all of the dancers fall dead on the floor, all but Prospero….and Death. Terrified, Prospero flees to the Black Room and locks the door, but Death is already inside. With the Prince cornered, Death delivers one of the most haunting lines I have ever heard: “Why should you be afraid to die? Your soul has been dead for a long time.” And with one touch…Prospero is dead.

This scene remains my favorite of the film, and if you haven’t seen it before, I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Disturbing Don Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Part of the reason it took me so long to get started on this film is I had a difficult time deciding where to start. In fairness, the entire film could be considered one long disturbing moment. But since I had to start somewhere, I decided to go with something easy: Dragon, the unholy possessed demon cat owned by Farmer FitzGibbons.

The Secret of NIMH: Dragon’s first appearance (1982)

Dragon is the first antagonist introduced to the story, and the cat’s entrance is…memorable to say the least. In context, Mrs. Brisby is on her way home after receiving some medicine from Mr. Ages (also an escapee from NIMH, but she doesn’t know that yet) when she comes across a crazy crow (Dom DeLuise) tangled up in some yarn that he was trying to bring back to his nest. Being a nice mouse, Mrs. Brisby decides to help him get free, but when Jeremy (that’s the crow) starts singing about his future “Ms. Right”, she admonishes him to be quiet because “there’s a cat nearby.” And if you haven’t seen this movie before, you might be forgiven for thinking “Oh, it’s a cat, what’s so scary about a cat?”

Take a look at the picture below, and know that Don Bluth can turn ANYTHING into a disturbing terror (also observe Jeremy’s wide-eyed look of terror as he realizes he’s nose-to-nose with a cat):

Jeremy-NIMH

Yes, THAT is a cat, but he sure doesn’t look like one does he? Here’s a slightly better view:

Dragon_the_cat

*points up* THIS is a CAT?!?

Dragon is a fat, seemingly mangy farm cat, blind in one eye (that’s the weird blue one, the yellow is his normal eye), and he has a vicious streak a mile wide. What really makes Dragon disturbing besides his appearance? He doesn’t even meow, when he first goes to attack Jeremy, he ROARS like some strange monster!!

This scene (like so many others) messed me up as a kid. It scared me because I’d see Dragon creeping closer and poor Jeremy is just oblivious and the tension build-up is almost unbearable.

I also have to give credit to Jerry Goldsmith’s incredible score (his first for an animated film) for helping to make this scene even more terrifying and disturbing, especially in the build-up to Jeremy coming face to face with Dragon.

While Dragon does appear later on in the film, this is his most menacing appearance by far. But this is nothing compared to other disturbing characters in this story (I’m not sure if I’ll cover The Great Owl next or start in on the rats, Jenner and Brutus are both getting their own sections).

Let me know your thoughts on Dragon, did he scare you when you were younger? Did he disturb you? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

See also:

Disturbing Don Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

RIP Sam Shepard (1943-2017)

MV5BMjE2MzM1Nzg1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTYzMDAxMw@@._V1_UY1200_CR270,0,630,1200_AL_

Yesterday I heard the news that actor and playwright Sam Shepard had passed away. Initially, I didn’t recognize the name, but then I remembered that Shepard played the role of Chuck Yeager in the awesome movie The Right Stuff (1983). I watched that movie so many times growing up (I was obsessed with NASA) and it just won’t be the same now that he’s gone.

I actually had no idea that Shepard was also an award-winning playwright. In 1979 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Buried Child. His plays span 50 years, from 1964 to 2014. He died at his home in Kentucky due to complications from ALS. Rest in peace sir, you are missed.

Disturbing Don Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

I can’t help but feel that I need to apologize for taking so long with this, even though I promised ages ago that it would be starting soon (life has been a little crazy since then). Nevertheless, here I go with a brief overview of the first film in this sister series to Disturbing Disney: The Secret of NIMH (1982)

9822

The film was based on the 1971 children’s book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien. In broad strokes the plot is largely the same as the film: the widowed mother of a family of mice must figure out how to keep her home safe from the farmer’s plow while her youngest son recovers from pneumonia. She is advised to ask for help from a colony of rats living in the nearby rosebush and discover that they (along with her late husband Jonathan) are actually escaped laboratory rats experimented on by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

For the movie, Mrs. Frisby becomes Mrs. Brisby to avoid being sued by Wham-O (the company who makes Frisbees) over a similar sounding name. The thing is, by the time the decision was made to change the name to Brisby, all of the actors had already recorded their lines. So…the editors manually edited the voice track to make it sound like Brisby and not Frisby. However, it is not completely perfect: listen closely to The Great Owl’s lines, you can almost hear the original pronunciation of the name.

The voice cast contains some acting greats. The previously mentioned Great Owl was voiced by the legendary actor John Carradine (the father of David, Keith and Robert Carradine). The cranky Auntie Shrew was voiced by Hermione Baddely, better known as Madame in The Aristocats (1970). Derek Jacobi (whose film accomplishments are too many to count) is the voice of Nicodemus, the elderly leader of the rats. Dom DeLuise (aka Tiger the cat in An American Tail) is Jeremy the crow. Wil Wheaton (in his film debut) plays Martin, Mrs. Brisby’s oldest son. And Shannen Doherty (of Charmed fame) is also making her debut as the voice of Teresa, the oldest daughter.

This series will break down the more disturbing scenes (and characters) in the film, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

James Bond WILL Return…in 2019

It sounds like it’s finally official: the 25th James Bond film will premiere on November 8th, 2019. And, allegedly, Daniel Craig has agreed to return for a final time as the legendary spy.

That James Bond WOULD return was never really in doubt (they’ve kept this series going since 1962, they’re not about to let it die now) it was just a question of when and who would be in the title role.

Truthfully, I’ve enjoyed the rebooted James Bond films, a lot more than I initially thought I would (it helped that they reintroduced Q and Moneypenny), but I am a little nervous about Craig returning a final time, assuming he’s actually agreed to this. Right now Daniel Craig is 49 years old, which would mean he’d be at least 50 when filming commences. Now, I know 50 is the new 30 and all that, but it doesn’t change the fact that Craig isn’t as young as he used to be, and as anyone who has seen A View to a Kill knows, the last thing you want to do is have Bond played by an actor who is too old for the part. I’m not saying Craig can’t do it, but he’s getting awfully close to the edge.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out before the film launches in two years.

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂