Here's my first sighting of Halloween 2012 at a Michaels Store. An aisle's worth of shelves was being cleared to make way for more gruesome goodies, but they had started on the endcaps. Can you smell the candy corn?
This neat pressbook for Toho Studios Atragon is 11 x 17 inches, printed in landscape orientation. I'm a sucker for movies with super technological vehicles and Atragon is one of my favorites. Besides, you've got that unique Toho Touch for concise special effects and storyline (see Famed Special Effects Team Give Atragon Top Thrills article).
One page sheet has been neatly cut from the pressbook. The seller I purchased this from said all the copies of this pressbook he has seen have that same page-sheet removed. So there you have a mystery! I'm open to any solutions you may have. Sorry for clipping the last sentence on one page, and the pages do not appear in their correct order.
The recent announcement of the closure of a movie theater I regularly attended as a kid invoked many memories. The Saturday afternoon kiddie-matinee (a term I always took exception to, even as a kid) often consisted of a kid-friendly feature film, a few cartoons, and even a chapter of a resurrected serial.
Inside the theater the pervading atmosphere was one of chaos. Similar scenes have been well depicted in such films as Stoogemania, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, and to a lesser degree in Joe Dante’s Matinee. Like the Josh Mostel character as a boy, Howard F. Howard of Stoogemania, I believed I was the only kid in this feral audience who was truly interested in watching what was happening on screen. To add to the madness, this theater offered what select theaters across the country were offering during this era: a Live Spook Show.
When the movie ended (like anyone would even notice) a business-suited man stepped out on the stage in front of the screen. Bathed in the glow of a harsh spotlight, he attempted to restore some order to the mayhem.
Once he got at least the minimal semblance of attention, he announced the theater was surrounded by spooks, and even more, a mad scientist would appear on this very stage and make a monster! Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, and a few assorted other creatures were likely to make appearances. Suddenly from the rear of the theater could be heard a blood curdling scream. All heads turned to catch the sight of a hapless female being pursued by a madman wielding a meat cleaver. The girl ran, still screaming, down one aisle, across the front and then back up the other aisle. The madman always managed to stay a few steps behind her, waving the weapon at the audience as well.
On stage, the announcer hastily departed. In his place came a shabby looking mad doctor and a few odd (very odd) assistants wheeling out what appeared to be a makeshift operating table. On the table was a large humanoid figure covered with a blood stained sheet, ugly feet protruding. A few, tinkered together, electrical devices where then set in place.
As the electricity flowed, the sheet stirred and whatever was underneath sat up, with the sheet falling off to reveal a monster! It didn't resemble the Frankenstein monster in the least, but it was assuredly a monster. Immediately, this monster became out of control and was set upon by the mad doctor and his assistants. All were quickly knocked to the ground. The monster turned to the audience, threateningly, but from stage left appeared … the Wolf Man! A battle ensued.
Dust was churned up and the lights dimmed. While growling and snarling, the unholy duo disappeared off stage. To this day I can’t recall who was the victor.
The live, monsters-in-your-face era of Saturday afternoon entertainment reached through the 1960s, embodied by Ray Dennis Steckler with his Hallucinogenic Hypnovision, and incorporated the mad slasher chasing hapless female scenario in such classics as Incredibly Strange Zombies, who Stopped Living and Became Crazy Mixed Up Zombies. Reportedly, he took his innovation one step further by accomodating outdoor drive-ins.
I got a strong feeling of community with these long gone live stage shows. During this Saturday afternoon melee, the cleaver wielding madman and his intended female victim managed one last dash through the theater. Upon closer examination of both of them, they bore a striking resemblance to a guy and his girlfriend who were in a grade or two ahead of me in school. I wonder what they're up to today?
Here's a terrific pressbook for Chamber of Horrors, filled with lurid illustrations and nifty theater giveaways like horror rings and a herald. Also noteworthy are the gimmicks to get butts in seats like the Fear Flasher and the Horror Horn. (I had to break the centerfold spread into three scans due to its size, and the pages are not in exact sequence.) The pressbook size is 11 inches by 17 inches.
Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is different, his alter ego Spider-Man is different, and the playbook Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man movie uses--a franchise reboot that wasn't, artistically speaking, necessary--seem's more suited to the morose Batman than the spunkier red, white, and blue teenage nerd who gets bitten by a unique spider.
This time around the spider has been genetically engineered by his scientist father, who leaves young Peter with Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) whenOscorp Industries gets rough concerning his father's research into cross-species regeneration and decay rate algorithms.
Peter's parents die shortly after leaving him. Years later he's a bright science student but bullied at school, in love from afar with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and soon to meet Dr. Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's friend and co-researcher. Dr. Connors wants to grow his missing arm back and needs a workable decay rate algorithm. Peter supplies it after finding his father's briefcase containing the needed research information. Mayhem ensues.
The mayhem takes a while to simmer to boiling point, and it isn't Sam Raimi's mayhem, and that old Spidey Sense isn't as finely tuned yet for Peter. He gets beat up a lot and looks like it. I don't recall Tobey Maguire looking this bruised and sore after taking on Doc Ock or the Green Goblin. Peter also needs more help in this movie, which is supplied by a brave Gwen Stacy, her father the police captain (Denis Leary) and a resourceful construction worker (C. Thomas Howell) who realizes even super heroes need our help sometimes.
The funniest scene happens with Stan Lee and it gets my vote for the best Stan Lee cameo appearance in a Marvel film. And the best scene doesn't take place with Spider-Man battling the gigantic Lizard; it happens hanging off the traffic-jammed Williamsburgh Bridge, when Spider-Man must save a frightened kid and time's slipping away fast. These scenes sparkle inside a cleanly executed storyline that doesn't share enough of its substance with us: Aunt May and Uncle Ben are here, but they're perfunctory; Peter Parker experiences a life-changer, but he takes it in stride; Dr. Connors nearly get's his wish to send New Yorkers back to the Mesozoic Era, but he's stopped surprisingly quickly just so we can spend more minutes with Peter and Gwen, leaving me hoping Dr. Connor's would pop his lizard tail back in to shake things up one more time. Sadly, he didn't.
If you're keeping a scorecard, I rate this movie "good" and a little better--but just a little--than Raimi's Spider-Man 3. That movie also had too many scripters to tell the story. Garfield is taller and slimmer than Maguire, and he's got a fuller head of hair, but Maguire still shows more nuance even when standing still. Also in this movie, Peter Parker has finally acquired a cell phone, although he needs to use the vibrate button more. He also watches YouTube, which leads to a surprisingly relevant confrontation between him and Captain Stacy over what appears to be the truth in a video concerning Spider-Man. As for The Daily Bugle, it gets brief mention through a newspaper bundle showing a front page, but Peter's photo-taking is not uppermost here.
The 3D renders the movie quite dark for viewing while giving negligible depth to the action. I recommend seeing the 2D version instead.