Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction

Passengers

I have also recently rewatched the exciting and thought provoking science fiction film Passengers again on DVD without the adverts (It’s much better). It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, and Laurence Fishburne as passengers travelling On a 120 year journey aboard The starship Avalon With 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members all in hyper sleep, who are all hoping for a new life on the planet Homestead II.

Unfortunately Thirty years into its journey, the ship passes through a meteor storm, which severely damages the ship. This awakens mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), 90 years early. At first Preston is rather confused but eventually sets about fixing the damage. He then avails himself of every luxurious amenity aboard the ship. however After a year of isolation, with no company except Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender, he gets bored and depressed. Then One day, he notices another colonist Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her pod. so he revives her early, claiming her pod must have also malfunctioned. At first they get on really well, however Aurora eventually finds out the truth and gets understandably angry and distraught at being awoken prematurely and having the chance of a new life on Homestead II taken away from her. However her anger is short lived when another pod failure awakens Chief Deck Officer Gus (Laurence Fishburne).

The three discover multiple failures throughout the ship’s systems, the ships gravity starts failing at regular intervals, there are a series of holes through the ship’s hull Caused by meteorite strikes and this has caused severe damage to the ships fusion reactor, which If not repaired, will eventually cause critical system failures killing everyone on board the Starship Avalon. So Gus, Jim and Aurora desperately try to fix the ships damaged systems including the fusion reactor before everyone on board dies…

Posted in Uncategorized, films & DVD, Science fiction

Alien:Covanent

I have recently watched the science fiction movie Alien:Covenant again. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir. It takes place In 2104 and features the crew of the colony ship Covenant who are bound for a remote planet Origae-6 with two thousand colonists and a thousand embryos aboard. Including Danny, Waters, Faris, Oram, Lope, Karine and an Android (who looks like David from the previous Prometheus mission)


While en route to their destination, an energy surge damages the ship, killing its captain and waking the crew. As they repair the ship, the crew intercept a radio transmission from a nearby planet and decide to investigate as the transmission is human in origin but the planet is supposedly lifeless. Crew members Waters, Faris and Karine descend to the surface with a contingent of security personnel. Karine sets up an ecological survey station while the others track down the source of the signal. They discover that the signal originates from an Engineer ship piloted by Elizabeth Shaw following the disastrous Prometheus mission. Then Two of the security team members are accidentally infected with an alien spore. The security team are then killed by a neomorph and Karine and Faris are killed fighting the Neomorph. The crew are rescued by the android David, the sole survivor of the ill-fated Prometheus mission as they radio Covenant for help. However, a neomorph attacks another crew member before being killed by Covenant’s first mate Oram, who witnesses David trying to tame the alien.

However The crew discover that David has got a rather sinister agenda and learn that he has been using the “black goo”, recovered during the Prometheus mission on local fauna for sinister purposes and discover that he has been incubating alien facehuggers and they learn how the earliest xenomorphs came about after David experimented with a parasitic wasp that laid its eggs inside its prey; upon being born, the larvae ate the prey from the inside out and discover That Dr Elizabeth Shaw met a Similar grisly fate at David’s hands. So the crew members attempt to evacuate However They are attacked by adult protomorphs as Covenant arrives and Crew member Lope is killed before the protomorph escapes aboard the Covenant and the remaining crew members attempt to get rid of the protomorph. Then Danny discovers that things are not as they seem regarding David.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Science fiction

Dean Koontz

American horror and science fiction author Dean Koontz was born July 9, 1945 in Everett, Pennsylvania. he was regularly beaten and abused by his alcoholic father, which influenced his later writing, as also did the courage of his physically diminutive mother in standing up to her husband” In his senior year at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, he won a fiction competition sponsored by Atlantic Monthly magazine. After graduation in 1967, he went to work as an English teacher at Mechanicsburg High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s, Koontz worked for the Appalachian Poverty Program, a federally funded initiative designed to help poor children.

During his spare time, he wrote his first novel, Star Quest, which was published in 1968. Koontz went on to write over a dozen science fiction novels. Seeing the Catholic faith as a contrast to the chaos in his family, Koontz converted in college because it gave him answers for his life, admiring its intellectual rigor and saying it permits a view of life that sees mystery and wonder in all things He says he sees Catholicism as English writer and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton did: that it encourages a “joy about the gift of life”Koontz says that spirituality has always been part of his books, as are grace and our struggle as fallen souls

In the 1970s, Koontz began writing suspense and horror fiction, both under his own name and several pseudonyms, sometimes publishing up to eight books a year. Koontz has stated that he began using pen names after several editors convinced him that authors who switched back and forth between different genres invariably fell victim to “negative crossover” (alienating established fans and simultaneously failing to pick up any new ones). Known pseudonyms used by Koontz during his career include Deanna Dwyer, K. R. Dwyer, Aaron Wolfe, David Axton, Brian Coffey, John Hill, Leigh Nichols, Owen West, Richard Paige and Anthony North. As Brian Coffey he wrote the “Mike Tucker” trilogy [Blood Risk, Surrounded, Wall of Masks] in acknowledged tribute to the Parker novels of Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake). Many of Koontz’s pseudonymous novels are now available under his real name. Many others remain suppressed by Koontz, who bought back the rights to ensure they could not be republished; he has, on occasion, said that he might revise some for re-publication, but only 3 have appeared – Demon Seed and Invasion were both heavily rewritten before they were republished, and Prison of Ice had certain sections bowdlerised.

After writing full-time for more than ten years, Koontz’s breakthrough novel was Whispers. The two books before that, The Key to Midnight and The Funhouse, were written under pen names. His very first bestseller was Demon Seed, the sales of which picked up after the release of the film of the same name in 1977, and sold over two million copies in one year. From 1979 on, Koontz’s books regularly became paperback bestsellers. His first hardcover bestseller, was Strangers. Since then, 12 hardcovers and 13 paperbacks written by Koontz have reached #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. In 1997 psychologist Katherine Ramsland published an extensive biography of Koontz based on interviews with him and his family. This this often showed the conception of Koontz’s characters and plots from events in his own life Many of his novels are set in and around Orange County, California.

One of Dean Koontz’s pen names was inspired by his dog, Trixie Koontz, a golden retriever, shown in many of his book-jacket photos. Trixie originally was a service dog with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a charitable organization that provides service dogs for people with disabilities Trixie was a gift from CCI in gratitude of Koontz’s substantial donations, totaling $2,500,000 between 1991 and 2004. Koontz was taken with the charity while he was researching his novel Midnight, which included a black Labrador retriever, named Moose. In 2004 Koontz wrote and edited Life Is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living in her name, and in 2005 Koontz wrote a second book credited to Trixie, Christmas Is Good. Both books are written from a supposed canine perspective on the joys of life with royalties being donated to CCI. Sadly In 2007 Trixie contracted terminal cancer that created a tumor in her heart. The Koontzes had her put to sleep outside their family home on June 30. Following Trixie’s death Koontz continued writing on his website under Trixie’s names in “TOTOS”, standing for Trixie on the Other Side. Trixie was also the inspiration for The Darkest Evening of the Year, about a woman who runs a golden retriever rescue home, and who rescues a ‘special’ dog, named Nickie, who eventually saves her life. In August 2009 Koontz published “A Big Little Life,” a memoir of his life with Trixie. In October 2008 Koontz revealed that he had adopted a new dog, Anna. It eventually was learned that Anna was the grandniece of Trixie. Sadly Anna died on May 22, 2016 so Koontz then adopted a new dog, Elsa, on July 11, 2016. As of 2006 Koontz lives in Pelican Hills on the Newport Coast, California with his wife, Gerda (Cerra). In 2008 he was ranked the world’s sixth most highly paid author, tied with John Grisham, at $25 million annually.

Many of Dean Koontz’s novels have been adapted for film and Television including Odd Thomas, starring Anton Yelchin, Frankenstein; starring Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, Michael Madsen, Vincent Perez, and Thomas Kretschmann. Black River; starring Jay Mohr, and Stephen Tobolowsky, Sole Survivor; starring Billy Zane, John C. McGinley, and Gloria Reuben. Watchers Reborn; starring Mark Hamill, Phantoms (1998); starring Peter O’Toole, Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, and Joanna Going. Mr. Murder; starring Stephen Baldwin, Thomas Haden Church, and James Coburn. Intensity; starring John C. McGinley, Molly Parker, and Piper Laurie. Hideaway; starring Jeff Goldblum, Christine Lahti, Jeremy Sisto, and Alicia Silverstone. Watchers 3; starring Wings Hauser. Servants of Twilight starring Bruce Greenwood. The Face of Fear starring Pam Dawber and Lee Horsley. Watchers II; starring Marc Singer and Tracy Scoggins. Whispers; starring Victoria Tennant, Chris Sarandon, and Jean LeClere. The Passengers starring Jean-Louis Trintignant (French film adaptation of Koontz’s novel Shattered) and Demon Seed; starring Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, and Robert Vaughn as the voice of Proteus.

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Jon Pertwee

Best known for portraying the Third Doctor in the science-fiction series Doctor Who between 1970 and 1974, and starring as Worzel Gummidge, the English actor, entertainer and cabaret performer John Pertwee was born 7 July 1919. Pertwee was educated at Frensham Heights School, an independent school in Rowledge, near Farnham in Surrey, at Sherborne School in Sherborne in Dorset, and at some other schools from which he was expelled. After school, he went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), from which he was also expelled after he refused to play a Greek “wind” during one of the lessons, feeling it was a waste of both his time and his father’s money. He was also accused of writing graffiti about the tutors on the lavatory walls.

During the Second World War, Pertwee spent six years in the Royal Navy. He was a crew member of HMS Hood and was transferred off the ship for officer training shortly before she was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck, losing all but three men in May 1941. Later, he was attached to the highly-secretive Naval Intelligence Division, working alongside future James Bond author Ian Fleming, and reporting directly to Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and Deputy Prime Minister, Clement Attlee. Teaching commandos how to use escapology equipment, compasses in brass buttons, secret maps in white cotton handkerchiefs, pipes you could smoke that also fired a .22 bullet.

After the war, he made a name for himself as a comedy actor on radio in Waterlogged Spa, alongside Eric Barker, and Puffney Post Office in which he played a hapless old postman with the catch-phrase “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you tears them up.” On 15 November 1948, at the Wood Green Empire, he was billed as ‘The Most Versatile Voice in Radio. He also appeared in the Radio Shows “Merry-go-Round” and “Up the Pole”‘. From 1959 to 1977, he had a long-running role as the conniving Chief Petty Officer Pertwee in The Navy Lark on BBC Radio. He was known as a Danny Kaye look-alike, Whom he impersonated in the film Murder at the Windmill (1949).In 1953, he played Charlie Sterling in Will Any Gentleman…?. Alongside Future Doctor Who actor William Hartnell as Inspector Martin.

On stage, he played the part of Lycus in the 1963 London production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Frankie Howerd and appeared in the smaller role of Crassus in the 1966 film version. He appeared as Sidney Tait in the comedy film Ladies Who Do (1963). In 1966, Pertwee starred alongside Donald Sinden in the West End production of There’s a Girl in My Soup and also appeared in four Carry On films: Carry On Cleo (1964, as the soothsayer), Carry On Cowboy (1965, as Sheriff Earp), Carry On Screaming! (1966, as Dr. Fettle), and Carry On Columbus (1992, as the Duke of Costa Brava). In 1967 Pertwee had been producer David Croft’s choice for the role of Captain George Mainwaring in Dad’s Army.

His television career had started off with small parts in children’s shows featuring Richard Hearne’s Mr Pastry character. Later he made an appearance in The Avengers episode ‘From Venus With Love’ (1967) as Brigadier Whitehead, and in the 1970s, he guest-starred as a vicar in The Goodies’ episode “Wacky Wales”. In 1969, Pertwee was selected by outgoing producer Peter Bryant and the series’ next producer Derrick Sherwin to take over as the Doctor from Patrick Troughton in the television series Doctor Who. Pertwee had asked his agent to apply for the role for him and was surprised to find he was already on the shortlist. In a departure from the Doctor’s first two incarnations, Pertwee played the character as an active crusader with a penchant for action and fancy clothes, even while the character was exiled on Earth and serving with UNIT. He played the Doctor for five seasons from early 1970 to mid-1974, a longer stint than either of his predecessors in the role, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, although the Pertwee era of Doctor Who ‘only’ had 128 episodes compared to the Hartnell era having had 134 episodes, as the BBC relaxed its shooting schedule from 39–45 episodes per season to 25–26 episodes per season at the start of Pertwee’s tenure as Doctor Who. He stayed until 1974, When he retired as the Doctor to resume his stage career in The Bedwinner.

The main reason for his departure was the death of his good friend and co-star Roger Delgado (The Master) and the departures of co-star Katy Manning and producer Barry Letts. His last full-time appearance in the series was in the story Planet of the Spiders in June 1974, which finished with Tom Baker replacing him in the role. He also starred in The House That Dripped Blood (1971) as an arrogant horror film star named Paul Henderson, who meets his doom thanks to a genuine vampire cloak. In 1973, Pertwee endorsed the Co-op’s Baking Your Cake and Eating it, a recipe book written by Sarah Charles. Pertwee later reprised his role as The Doctor in the 20th anniversary story The Five Doctors and the Children in Need story Dimensions in Time, in two radio adventures and on stage in Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. On 14 April 1971, Pertwee was the subject of Thames Television’s This Is Your Life.between 1974 and 1978 Pertwee was the host of the murder-mystery game show Whodunnit?,

Pertwee then took the starring role in Worzel Gummidge, based on the books written by Barbara Euphan Todd. First aired in 1979 on ITV, the series saw Pertwee as a scarecrow, and continued until 1981. In 1987 Worzel Gummidge Down Under aired until 1989 and was screened in the UK on Channel 4. In 1995, Pertwee played the role one last time in a one-off special for ITV, which celebrated 40 years of the channel. Pertwee played the title character in Worzel Gummidge, the musical, book and lyrics by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, music by Denis King, which opened at London’s Cambridge Theatre in December 1981, co-starring Una Stubbs and Geoffrey Bayldon. Pertwee also recorded an album, Worzel Gummidge Sings, as well as a Christmas single. In 1976, Pertwee voiced and appeared in the television advertisement which promoted the Green Cross Code and also starred with Australian actress Julie Anthony in a West End production of the musical IRENE playing the camp fashion-designer “Madame Lucy”. Pertwee also features on the cast recording album. He also voiced the character of “Spotty” in the 1980s cartoon series SuperTed and in 1985 he starred in Do You Know The Milkyway? Portraying Dr. Neuross and another nine characters. In 1995 Pertwee also had the key voice of Death and other voice characterisations in the PC and PlayStation renditions of “Discworld”. And also played General Von Kramer in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode “Attack of the Hawkmen”. In 1975 he portrayed The Colonel’ in “One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing .

He returned to the role of the Doctor in the 1983 20th anniversary television special The Five Doctors and in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure. He made a guest appearance in the “Lords and Ladies” episode of the BBC Radio 4 comedy series Harry Hill’s Fruit Corner, playing a Time Lord and also spoofed the role in the Radio 4 comedy The Skivers. He also presented the Doctor Who video releases The Troughton Years. In 1993, Pertwee was featured in the unofficial 30th anniversary release of Doctor Who entitled 30 Years of Time Travel and Beyond. Pertwee portrayed the Third Doctor in two further audio productions for BBC Radio, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space. In April 1995, he appeared in Devious, an amateur video drama set between the second Doctor’s trial at the end of The War Games and before the start of Spearhead From Space. Pertwee’s final film role was in a short film entitled Cloud Cuckoo and also appeared on Cilla’s Surprise, Surprise.

Pertwee sadly died in his sleep from a heart attack in Connecticut on 20 May 1996, at the age of 76. He was survived by his wife Ingeborg Rhoesa, and two children who had followed him into the acting profession, Sean Pertwee and Dariel Pertwee. Many Doctor Who actors payed tribute including Tom Baker and Colin Baker His body was cremated at Putney Vale Crematorium with a toy Worzel Gummidge affixed to the coffin, following the instructions in his will. His death came six days after the American broadcast of the Doctor Who television film, which used a logo based on the one from his era of the television series and featured a dedication to Pertwee at its end. Pertwee’s voice was used in the 40th Anniversary Doctor Who audio drama, Zagreus, as the TARDIS helps a corrupted Eighth Doctor (voiced by Paul McGann). Pertwee also wrote two autobiographies: Moon Boots and Dinner Suits and the posthumously published Doctor Who: I Am the Doctor – Jon Pertwee’s Final Memoir. In 2000, Jon Pertwee: The Biography by Bernard Bale (was published by André Deutsch, and included a few chapters by Pertwee’s widow Ingeborg.

Archival footage of Pertwee has been used several times in the revived Doctor Who. Including “The Next Doctor” when the Tenth Doctor shows Jackson Lake an infostamp about himself, “The Eleventh Hour” when the Eleventh Doctor rhetorically asks the Atraxi how previous alien invasion attempts were stopped, “The Name of the Doctor” and “The Day of the Doctor” which shows the Third Doctor assisting his other incarnations in sending Gallifrey to an alternate universe to protect it from the Daleks.

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction

Passengers

have recently rewatched the science fiction film Passengers. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, and Laurence Fishburne as passengers travelling On a 120 year journey aboard The starship Avalon With 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members all in hyper sleep who are all hoping for a new life on the planet Homestead II.

Unfortunately Thirty years into its journey, the ship passes through a meteor storm, which severely damages the ship. This awakens mechanical engineer Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), 90 years early who sets about fixing the damage. He then avails himself of every luxurious amenity aboard the ship. however After a year of isolation, with no company except Arthur (Michael Sheen), an android bartender, he gets bored and depressed. Then One day, he notices another colonist Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) in her pod. so he revives her early, claiming her pod must have also malfunctioned. At first they get on really well, however Aurora eventually finds out the truth and gets understandably angry and distraught at having the chance of a new life on Homestead II taken away from her.

Then, another pod failure awakens Chief Deck Officer Gus (Laurence Fishburne)
The three discover multiple failures throughout the ship’s systems which If not repaired, will eventually cause critical system failures killing everyone on board the Starship Avalon. They also discover a series of holes through the ship’s hull and that The computer module controlling the ships fusion reactor has also been damaged.
Gus, Jim and Aurora then find themselves having to resort to increasingly desperate and potentially fatal measures in order to repair the fusion reactor and repair the damaged ship before more systems fail and everyone else on board dies before reaching Homestead II…

Posted in Fantasy, films & DVD, Science fiction, Uncategorized

Ray Harryhausen

American-British artist, designer, visual effects creator, writer, and producer “Ray” Harryhausen was born June 29, 1920 in Los Angeles, California. He spent his early years experimenting in the production of animated short films and was greatly inspired by the stop-motion animation of pioneer model animator Willis O’Brien on the film King Kong. So a friend arranged a meeting with O’Brien for him. O’Brien critiqued Harryhausen’s early models and urged him to take classes in graphic arts and sculpture to hone his skills. Meanwhile, Harryhausen became friends with an aspiring writer, Ray Bradbury, with similar enthusiasms. Bradbury and Harryhausen joined the Los Angeles-area Science Fiction League formed by Forrest J. Ackerman in 1939, and the three became lifelong friends. Harryhausen secured his first commercial model-animation job, on George Pal’s Puppetoons shorts, based on viewing his first formal demo reel of fighting dinosaurs from a project called Evolution of the World which was never finished.

During World War II, Harryhausen served in the United States Army Special Services Division under Colonel Frank Capra, as a loader, clapper boy, gofer and later camera assistant, whilst working at home animating short films about the use and development of military equipment. During this time he also worked with composer Dimitri Tiomkin and Theodore Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”). Following the war he salvaged several rolls of discarded 16 mm surplus film from which he made a series of fairy tale-based shorts, which he called his “Teething-rings”.

One of Harryhausen’s most long-cherished dreams was to make H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. After World War II, he shot a scene of an alien emerging from a Martian cylinder showing the fearsome being from Mars fatally succumbing to an earthly illness, contracted from the air the natives breathe harmlessly. It was part of an unrealized project to adapt the story using Wells’ original “octopus” concept for the Martians. In 1947 Harryhausen was hired as an assistant animator on what turned out to be his first major film, Mighty Joe Young (1949). O’Brien ended up concentrating on solving the various technical problems of the film, leaving most of the animation to Harryhausen. Their work won O’Brien the Academy Award for Best Special Effects that year.

Ray Harryhausen first film featuring his technical effects was The Beast from 20,000 Fathom based on a story by The writer Ray Bradbury, who was a long-time friend of Harryhausen. This was about a dinosaur drawn to a lone lighthouse by its foghorn. Because the story for Harryhausen’s film featured a similar scene, the film studio bought the rights to Bradbury’s story to avoid any potential legal problems. To film Beast from 20,000 fathoms Harryhausen used a technique called “Dynamation” that split the background and foreground of pre-shot live action footage into two separate images into which he would animate a model or models so seemingly integrating the live-action with the models. The background would be used as a miniature rear-screen with his models animated in front of it, re-photographed with an animation-capable camera to combine those two elements together, the foreground element matted out to leave a black space. Then the film was rewound, and everything except the foreground element matted out so that the foreground element would now photograph in the previously blacked out area. This created the effect that the animated model was “sandwiched” in between the two live action elements, right into the final live action scene.

In most of Harryhausen’s films, model animated characters interact with, and are a part of, the live action world, with the idea that they will cease to call attention to themselves as only “animation.” Most of the effects shots in his earliest films were created via Harryhausen’s careful frame-by-frame control of the lighting of both the set and the projector. This dramatically reduced much of degradation common in the use of back-projection or the creation of dupe negatives via the use of an optical printer. Harryhausen’s use of diffused glass to soften the sharpness of light on the animated elements allowed the matching of the soft background plates far more successfully than Willis O’Brien had achieved in his early films, allowing Harryhausen to match live and miniature elements seamlessly in most of his shots. Harryhausen managed to save money, by developing and executing most of this miniature work himself, while maintaining full technical control.

Harryhausen then began working with color film to make The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, experimenting with color film stocks to overcome the color-balance-shift problems. Ray’s producer/partner Charles H. Schneer coined the word Dynamation as a “merchandising term” (modifying it to “SuperDynaMation” and then “Dynarama”. Harryhausen was always heavily involved in the pre-production conceptualizing of each film’s story, script development, art-direction, design, storyboards, and general tone of the his films, as much as any auteur director would have on any other film, which any “director” of Harryhausen’s films had to understand and agree to work under. Only the complexities of Director’s Guild rules in Hollywood prevented Harryhausen from being credited as the director of his films, resulting in the more modest credits he had in most of his films.

Harryhausen’s often worked with his family His father did the machining of the metal armatures (based on his son’s designs) that were the skeletons for the models and allowed them to keep their position, while his mother assisted with some miniature costumes. After Harryhausen’s father died in 1973, Harryhausen contracted An occasional assistant, George Lofgren, a taxidermist, assisted Harryhausen with the creation of furred creatures. Another associate, Willis Cook, built some of Harryhausen’s miniature sets. Other than that, Harryhausen worked generally alone to produce almost all of the animation for his filmsThe same year that Beast was released, 1953, fledgling film producer Irwin Allen released a live action documentary about life in the oceans titled The Sea Around Us, which won an Oscar for best documentary feature film of that year. Harryhausen then worked on Allen’s sequel. He also met producer Charles H. Schneer, Their first tandem project was It Came from Beneath the Sea (aka Monster from Beneath the Sea, 1955), about a giant octopus attacking San Francisco. followed by Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. In 1954, Irwin Allen began work on a second feature-length documentary film, about animal life on land called The Animal World Needing an opening sequence about dinosaurs, Allen hired premier model animator Willis O’Brien and Harryhausen to animate the dinosaurs, many agreed that the dinosaur sequence of Animal World was the best part of the entire movie. (Animal World is available on the DVD release of O’Brien’s 1957 film The Black Scorpion).

Harryhausen then made 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), about an American spaceship returning from Venus. The spaceship crashes into the ocean near Italy, which releases an on-board alien egg specimen that washes up on shore. The egg soon hatches a creature that, in Earth’s atmosphere, rapidly grows to gigantic size running amok and terrifying the citizens of Rome. He refined and improved his animation techniques still further for the Venusian Ymir alien. Harryhausen then developed a technique to maintain proper color balances for his DynaMation process, resulting in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960), Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Among the film’s best sequences is an exciting fight between three actors and seven living skeletons, And the confrontation with Talos the bronze giant. Harryhausen next made First Men in the Moon (1964), his only film made in the 2.35:1 widescreen (AKA “CinemaScope”) format, based on the novel by H. G. Wells.

Harryhausen was then hired by Hammer Film Productions to animate the dinosaurs for One Million Years B.C. (1966) featuringRaquel Welch in her second film. Harryhausen next went on to make another dinosaur film, The Valley of Gwangi. This is Set in Mexico, and features cowboys who discover a forbidden valley inhabited by dinosaurs and manage to capture a living Allosaurus and bring him to the nearest Mexican city for exhibition. However the creature, escapes and wreaks havoc on the town. Harryhausen’s next film wasThe Golden Voyage of Sinbad, featuring a sword fight involving a statue of the six-armed goddess Kali this was followed by Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Harryhausen and Shneer’s next film was Clash of the Titans featuring stars such as Laurence Olivier Ursula Andress, Burgess Meridith and Harry Hamlin and for which he was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects. This features Perseus and his efforts to save the beautiful princess Andromeda from being sacrificed to the fearsome Kraken by undertaking a perilous journey to the Isle of the Dead Where he confronts the equally fearsome gorgon Medusa. sadly more sophisticated computer-assisted technology developed by ILM and others began to eclipse Harryhausen’s production techniques, with MGM and other studios refusing to fund his planned sequel, Force of the Trojans, sO Harryhausen and Schneer Retired from filmmaking.

In the early 1970s, Harryhausen also published a book, Film Fantasy Scrapbook (produced in three editions as his last three films were released) and supervising the restoration and release of his films to video, laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray. A second book followed, An Animated Life, written with author and friend Tony Dalton which details his techniques and history. This was then followed in 2005 by The Art of Ray Harryhausen, featuring sketches and drawings for his many projects. In 2008 Harryhausen and Dalton published a history of stop-motion model animation, A Century of Model Animation and to celebrate Harryhausen’s 90th birthday The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation published Ray Harryhausen – A Life in Pictures. In 2011 the last volume, called Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook, was also published. Harryhausen continued his lifelong friendship with Ray Bradbury until Bradbury’s death in 2012. Another long-time close friend was “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine editor, book writer, and sci-fi collector Forrest J Ackerman, another friend was long-time producer, Charles H. Schneer, who lived next door to him in a suburb of London until Schneer moved full-time to the USA. Harryhausen and Terry Moore appeared in small comedic cameo roles in the 1998 remake of Mighty Joe Young, and he has also provided the voice of a polar bear cub in the Will Ferrell film Elf. He also appears as a bar patron in Beverly Hills Cop III, and as a doctor in the John Landis film Spies Like Us. In 2010, Harryhausen had a brief cameo in Burke & Hare, a British film also directed by Landis.

In 1986 Harryhausen formed The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a registered charity in the UK and US, which preserves all of his collection and promotes the art of stop-motion animation. In 2002, young animators Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero helped Harryhausen complete The Story of the Tortoise and the Hare. This was the sixth and final installment of the Harryhausen fairy tales. The film was started in 1952 and completed in 2002, 50 years later and went on to win the 2003 Annie award for best short film and gained worldwide attention. Ray Harryhausen was also given a special tribute at The BFI Southbank theater which was attended by all the top visual effects directors and technicians and was hosted by director John Landis. At this event he was presented by Peter Jackson with a special BAFTA award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In 2009, he released colorized DVD versions of three of his classic black and white Columbia films: 20 Million Miles to Earth, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and It Came from Beneath the Sea, and of She (1935), in tribute to its producer Merian C. Cooper.In June 2010, it was announced that the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation had agreed to deposit the animator’s complete collection of some 50,000 pieces with the National Media Museum in Bradford, England.

The work of Ray Harryhausen was celebrated in an exhibition at London’s Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) in 1990. In 2010 A theater at Sony Pictures Digital Productions was named in honor of Harryhausen. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Harryhausen in 2005, He also received the annual British Fantasy Society Wagner Award in 2008 for his lifetime contribution to the genre and in 2003, Harryhausen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2013, the RH foundation and Arrow Films released a feature-length biography of Harryhausen and his films called “Ray Harryhausen – Special Effects Titan” on Blu-Ray. Featuring photos, artifacts, and film clips culled directly Harryhausen’s estate and never before seen by the public. A major exhibition of Ray Harryhausen’s models Entitled “Ray Harryhausen – Mythical Menagerie” was held at the Science Museum Oklahoma and another exhibition took place at Tate Britain in 2017 featuring work from the Harryhausen collection and short film made by John Walsh on the restoration of a painting owned by Harryhausen which influenced his work. In 1992 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Ray Harryhausen a Gordon E.Sawyer Award to acknowledge His “technological contributions to the industry. He also made” A long series of appearances at film festivals, colleges, and film seminars around the world Harryhausen met many of

Ray Harryhausen sadly died on May 7, 2013 however his influence on today’s film makers is enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and Nick Park citing Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations. Peter Lord of Aardman animation also said that Harryhausen was “a one-man industry and a one-man genre”. Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright said “I loved every single frame of Ray Harryhausen’s work … He was the man who made me believe in monsters.” George Lucas also said, “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars”. Terry Gilliam said, “What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.” James Cameron also paid tribute by saying, “I think all of us who are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.”

Ray Harryhausen left his collection, which includes all of his film related artefacts to the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, set up in 1986 to look after his extensive collection, to protect his name and to further the art of model stop-motion animation. The trustees are his daughter Vanessa Harryhausen, Simon Mackintosh, actress Caroline Munro who appeared in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and film maker John Walsh who first met with Ray Harryhausen in 1988 as a film student of the London Film School and made a documentary entitled Ray Harryhausen: Movement Into Life narrated by Doctor Who actor Tom Baker (who also appeared in the Golden Voyage of Sinbad. The Foundation’s website charts progress on the restoration of the collection and future plans for Ray’s legacy. In 2016 the foundation launched The Ray Harryhausen Podcast. This included never before heard audio from Ray Harryhausen. Hosted by Collections Manager Connor Heaney and John Walsh.

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction

J. J. Abrahams

American film and television director, producer, writer, author and composer, Jeffrey Jacob “J. J.” Abrams was born June 27, 1966. He is an best known for his work in the genres of action, drama, and science fiction. Abrams wrote and/or produced feature films such as Regarding Henry (1991), Forever Young (1992), Armageddon (1998), and Cloverfield (2008). He created or co-created a number of TV drama series, including Felicity (co-creator, 1998–2002), Alias (creator, 2001–2006), and Lost (co-creator, 2004–2010), ” Fringe” (co-creator, 2008 – 2013). His directorial film work includes Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Mission: Impossible III (2006),Super 8 (2011) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015),

Abrams’ first job in the movie business started when he was 16 when he wrote the music for Don Dohler’s film Nightbeast. During his senior year at college, he teamed with Jill Mazursky to write a feature film treatment. Purchased by Touchstone Pictures, the treatment was the basis for Taking Care of Business, Abrams’ first produced film, which starred Charles Grodin and James Belushi. He followed that up with Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford, and Forever Young, starring Mel Gibson. He also co-wrote with Mazursky the script for the comedy Gone Fishin’ starring Joe Pesci and Danny Glover. In 1994, he was part of the “Propellerheads” with Rob Letterman, Loren Soman, and Andy Waisler, a group of Sarah Lawrence alums experimenting with computer animation technology who were contracted by Jeffrey Katzenberg to develop animation for the film Shrek. Abrams worked on the screenplay for the 1998 film Armageddon with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay. That same year, he made his first foray into television with Felicity, which ran for four seasons on The WB Network, serving as the series’ co-creator (with Matt Reeves) and executive producer. He also composed its opening theme music.

Under his production company Bad Robot, which he founded with Bryan Burk in 2001,Abrams created and executive-produced ABC’s Alias and is co-creator (along with Damon Lindelof and Jeffrey Lieber) and executive producer of Lost. He later co-wrote the teleplay for Lost’s third season premiere “A Tale of Two Cities.” As with Felicity, Abrams also composed the opening theme music for Alias and Lost. In 2001, Abrams co-wrote and produced the thriller Joy Ride, and wrote an unproduced screenplay for a fifth Superman film in 2002.[citation needed]In 2006, he served as executive producer of What About Brian and Six Degrees, also on ABC. Abrams directed and wrote the two-part pilot for Lost and remained active producer for the first half of the season. That same year, he made his feature directorial debut in 2006 with Mission: Impossible III, starring Tom Cruise. Abrams spoke at the TED conference in 2007.

In 2008, Abrams produced the monster movie Cloverfield. In 2009, he directed the science fiction film Star Trek, which he produced with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. While it was speculated that they would be writing and producing an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series of novels, they publicly stated in November 2009 that they were no longer looking to take on that project. In 2008, Abrams co-created, executive produced, and co-wrote the FOX science fiction series Fringe (along with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) and also composed the theme music. He was featured in the 2009 MTV Movie Awards 1980s-style digital short “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions”, with Andy Samberg and Will Ferrell, in which he plays a keyboard solo. NBC picked up Abrams’ Undercovers as its first new drama series for the 2010–11 season. However, it was subsequently cancelled by the network in November 2010.

In 2008, it was reported that Abrams purchased the rights to a New York Times article “Mystery on Fifth Avenue” about the renovation of an 8.5 million dollar co-op, a division of property originally owned by E. F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, for six figures and was developing a film titled Mystery on Fifth Avenue, with Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions,and comedy writers Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky to write the adaptation. According to the article, a wealthy couple Steven B. Klinsky and Maureen Sherry purchased the apartment in 2003 and live there with their four children. Soon after purchasing the apartment, they hired young architectural designer Eric Clough, who devised an elaborately clever “scavenger hunt” built into the apartment that involved dozens of historical figures, a fictional book and a soundtrack, woven throughout the apartment in puzzles, riddles, secret panels, compartments, and hidden codes, without the couple’s knowledge. The family didn’t discover the embedded mystery until months after moving into the apartment. After Abrams purchased the article, Clough left him an encrypted message in the wall tiles of a Christian Louboutin shoe store he designed in West Hollywood

Abrams also wrote and directed the Paramount science fiction movie Super 8, while co-producing with Steven Spielberg and Bryan Burk; it was released on June 10, 2011. In 2013 Abrams directed the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, in before directing Star Wars: episode VII The Force Awakens in 2015. This lead tO speculation concerning his future with Paramount Pictures, with whom he has released all of his previously directed feature work and which has a first-look deal with his Bad Robot Productions. Paramount vice-chairman Rob Moore stated that Abrams will continue to have a hand in the highly successful Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises going forward. Abrams announced at the 2013 D.I.C.E. Conference that Bad Robot has also made a deal with Valve Corporation to produce films based on the video game titles Portal and Half-Life.

In 2013, Abrams released a film based on the novel, S., written by Doug Dorst. Abrams’ frequent creative collaborators include writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, composer Michael Giacchino, cinematographers Daniel Mindel and Larry Fong, and editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Jodie Whittaker, Arthur Darvil

Most famous for being in the science fiction television series Doctor Who, English Actors Jodie Whittaker and Arthur Darvil were both born 17 June 1982.

Jodie Whittaker came to prominence in her 2006 feature film debut Venus, for which she received British Independent Film Award and Satellite Award nominations. She was later praised for her roles in the cult science fiction filmAttack the Block (2011), the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You” (2011), and as grieving mother Beth Latimer in Broadchurch. On 16 July 2017, the BBC announced that Whittaker would become the thirteenth and first female incarnation of The Doctor in the British TV series Doctor Who. She formally assumed the role from Peter Capaldi in the 2017 Christmas special episode “Twice Upon a Time” when Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor regenerated into Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor. Whittaker appeared in her first full series as The Doctor in the eleventh series, which premiered in October 2018. She continued in the role in the twelfth series in 2020. Whittaker later announced that she would reprise her role as The Doctor into its thirteenth series.

British actor and musician Arthur Darvill is known for playing Rory Williams, one of the Eleventh Doctor’s companions in the Science fiction television series Doctor Who alongside Matt Smith and Karen Gillan between 2010 and 2012), Rip Hunter in Legends of Tomorrow (2016–2018) and as Rev. Paul Coates in Broadchurch (2013–2017). From 2013 to 2014 he appeared in the lead role in the theatre musical Once in the West End and on Broadway.

Posted in books, Events, films & DVD, Science fiction

International Steampunk day

International Steampunk day takes place annually on 14 June. Steampunk is a retrofuturistic subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century British Victorian era or the American “Wild West”, in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and neo-Victorian are different in that the neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology while technology is a key aspect of steampunk.

Steampunk most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retrofuturistic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art Such technologies may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative-history-style presentations of such technology as steam cannons, lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.[citation needed]
Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre.[citation needed] The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created as far back as the 1950s or earlier. A popular subgenre is Japanese steampunk, consisting of steampunk-themed manga and anime, with steampunk elements having appeared in mainstream manga since the 1940s. Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.

Steampunk is influenced by and often adopts the style of the 19th-century science fiction novels of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley, and Edward S. Ellis’s The Steam Man of the Prairies.[Several more modern works of art and fiction significant to the development of the genre were produced before the genre had a name. Titus Alone (1959), by Mervyn Peake, is widely regarded by scholars as the first novel in the genre proper, while others point to Michael Moorcock’s 1971 novel The Warlord of the Air, which was heavily influenced by Peake’s work. The film Brazil (1985) was an important early cinematic influence that helped codify the aesthetics of the genre.[citation needed] The Adventures of Luther Arkwright was an early (1970s) comic version of the Moorcock-style mover between timestreams. In fine art, Remedios Varo’s paintings combine elements of Victorian dress, fantasy, and technofantasy imagery. In television, the steampunk ethos first appeared in the television series The Wild Wild West (1965–69), which inspired the later film.

Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue-in-cheek variant of cyberpunk. It was coined by science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986), and himself (Morlock Night, 1979, and Infernal Devices, 1987)—all of which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of such actual Victorian speculative fiction as H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

While Jeter’s Morlock Night and Infernal Devices, Powers’ The Anubis Gates, and Blaylock’s Lord Kelvin’s Machine were the first novels to which Jeter’s neologism would be applied, the three authors gave the term little thought at the time. They were far from the first modern science fiction writers to speculate on the development of steam-based technology or alternative histories. Keith Laumer’s Worlds of the Imperium (1962) and Ronald W. Clark’s Queen Victoria’s Bomb (1967) apply modern speculation to past-age technology and society. Michael Moorcock’s Warlord of the Air (1971) is another early example. Professor Finbarr Calamitous quote is relevant here; “SteamPunk: Colonizing the Past so we can dream the future”. Harry Harrison’s novel A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! (1973) portrays a British Empire of an alternative year 1973, full of atomic locomotives, coal-powered flying boats, ornate submarines, and Victorian dialogue. The Adventures of Luther Arkwright (mid-1970s) was one of the first steampunk comics. In February 1980, Richard A. Lupoff and Steve Stiles published the first “chapter” of their 10-part comic strip The Adventures of Professor Thintwhistle and His Incredible Aether Flyer.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Science fiction

Nineteen eighty four by George Orwell

George Orwell’s bleak, dystopian futuristic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published 8 June 1949. It is set in Oceania, where society is tyrannized by The Party and its totalitarian ideology. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.

Their tyranny is headed by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their rule in the name of a supposed greater good. The novel’s protagonist Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. As a sort of Spin Doctor. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother….

As literary political fiction and as dystopian science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel in content, plot, and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and memory hole, have entered everyday use since its publication in 1949. Nineteen Eighty-Four spawned the term Orwellian, to describe official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. In 2005 the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor’s list, and 6 on the reader’s list. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read.