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March 02, 2004 - 12:37 a.m.

Three Days of 3-D

Promises, Promises

Well, I promised you folks I’d do some entries on comics, science fiction and role-playing games, and I’m working on it, promise! This entry has a little about Sci-Fi, so we’re getting there.

I started writing a blog entry on comics on Monday, Feb. 23, but doing it has grown to be quite the monster. I’m linking to references like crazy, which is slowing me down, I finally decided to wait till it’s finished to research and input all of my links, so I’m making better progress. Hate to get your hopes up, after all this is no great masterpiece I’m crafting, just a long blog entry, but part of what is slowing me down is the way I imposed some silliness into the structure of my narrative, and I’m still not sure if I can get it all to work. We’ll see, friends, we’ll see!

Because it is such a huge undertaking, I find myself interrupting this blogging with other, more postable blogs! Sort of like this…

3-D Film Festival Highlights

The most thoughtful present I received for Christmas was also the most eclectic, my friends Jeff and Dori got me tickets to Big Screen Classics’ 3 Days of 3-D Film Festival in Suffern, NY. The Lafayette Theatre, host of the event, is a spacious, beautifully restored 1920’s era (I think, correct me if you know more) movie house featuring a curtained silver screen, ornate plasterwork on walls and ceiling, front and side balconies, it’s picture perfect!

What better place to see original polarized 3-D movies (twin-projector method with clear polarized glasses, not to be confused with the inferior single projector style featuring red & blue glasses) than the first theater in the region to be equipped with 3-D projectors in the 1950’s?

The bill had ten features plus 3-D shorts, many of which haven’t been seen in this format on the East Coast since the 1950’s; some of the shorts have never been seen east of Hollywood! I was lucky enough to see three of the ten features. I’ll go into more detail after giving you the batting lineup!

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27
7:00 pm - HOUSE OF WAX

Short subjects: Casper the Friendly Ghost in BOO MOON and Early, Rare, 3-D Test Footage

10:00 pm - MISS SADIE THOMPSON
Short subject: M.L. Gunzberg Presents Natural-Vision

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28
12:15 pm - ROBOT MONSTER

Short subjects: The Three Stooges in Pardon My Backfire and Slick Slavin in Stardust In Your Eyes

3:00 pm - GUN FURY Short subject: Down the Hatch with Harry Mimmo

7:00 pm - CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
Short subject: Woody Woodpecker in The Hypnotic Hick

10:00 pm - Alfred Hitchcock's DIAL "M" FOR MURDER
Short subjects: Norman McLaren's Around is Around and Bugs Bunny in Lumberjack Rabbit

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 29
12:15 pm - GORILLA AT LARGE

Short subject: The Three Stooges in Spooks!

3:00 pm - INFERNO
Short subject: Doom Town

7:00 pm - KISS ME KATE
Short subject Motor Rhythm

10:00 pm - IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
Short subject The Adventures of Sam Space

My Mini-Reviews

I got to see three features, House of Wax with Casper the Friendly Ghost in Boo Moon, Early, Rare, 3-D Test Footage, plus a Bonus Reel of 3-D effects from 1928 used to demonstrate 3-D technology to the studios! Gorilla At Large with The Three Stooges in Spooks and It Came From Outer Space with The Adventures of Sam Space. Here are my mini-reviews of each segment, in the order viewed.

Bonus Reel of 3-D effects from 1928
This short was a visually stunning demo of what 3-D technology was trying to achieve. As I understand it, this was the first time it had ever been shown in a theater on the East Coast; it had been previously featured at one or more West Coast 3-D film festivals. What a fun way to get us in the mood for our weekend of 3-D hijinks!

Early, Rare, 3-D Test Footage
Next up was silent test footage of 3-D effects that was accompanied by the house organist! Great job! Probably the best 3-D effect of the whole weekend was the guy playing the trombone, as the slide gets seriously in your face!

Casper the Friendly Ghost in Boo Moon
While not known for “quality animation”, the crisp, clear quality of this print plus the stunning 3-D effects made this a highlight of the weekend. It seems to me 3-D works better with animation than live action because the control over the effects is 100%, and this was no exception. As I’ve already said to those of you I have spoken with, “visually stunning” are not words you tend to relate to a Casper short, but visually stunning it was indeed!

House of Wax
This wonderfully dopey Vincent Price vehicle is set in turn of the century New York City and has some great effects in it. My favorite is the barker stationed outside of the House of Wax for its premier doing tricks into the audience with paddle balls. At one point he breaks the “fourth wall” and speaks directly to the audience, saying something to the effect of “mind I don’t knock that bag of popcorn right out of your hand! ” (Next time I’m bringing a pad and paper with me so I can take notes and give you guys direct quotes!) Of special note is the casting of a young Charles Bronson as an evil mute sculptor (yes, I said evil mute sculptor! ) named Igor!!!

The Three Stooges in Spooks
3-D Stooges is exactly what you probably expected; pokes in the eye coming at you, a looming syringe attack and a 3-D pie fight! The cheesy gorilla suit makes this short a perfect partner for the feature presentation of…

Gorilla At Large
Ya gotta love a murder mystery featuring a guy in a cheesy gorilla suit playing (of course) a gorilla and a second guy in a cheesy gorilla suit playing a fake gorilla! So, is the murderer the gorilla, the guy in the gorilla suit trying to frame the gorilla (!), or someone else borrowing the gorilla suit to frame the guy in the gorilla suit(!!!)? I ain’t telling, and I still can’t believe I actually typed the preceding sentence!

What a cast, though! Cameron Mitchell, Anne Bancroft, Raymond Burr and a young Lee Marvin as Shaughnessy, The Comic Relief Cop! Yeah, as if a movie with dueling gorilla suits even needs comic relief! This was a lot of fun, though, even if there weren’t that many 3-D “wow’ moments.

The Adventures of Sam Space.
This 3-D stop-motion animated diamond-in-the-rough is an uncompleted project that languished unreleased for decades until a reel was discovered many years later (once again, I wish I had a pad to take notes so I could give you the years). Digitally restored, it features the voice talent of the legendary Paul Frees! Although it’s an awkward story at best, The Adventures of Sam Space is entertaining enough through sheer novelty.

Basically, in the far-flung future of 2001 two precocious kids (Sam and I-Forget-His-Name) are digging for worms when they unearth a time capsule from the 1980’s! Bringing the time capsule to The Professor (of course! ) simply serves as a quickie plot device to explain how our alliance with another planet saved us from a sneak attack by alien conquerors from “The Space Island.”

Just then (you see it coming, don’t you? ) The Professor receives a transmission from our Alien Allies (wish I could remember their name) that says our allies are about to be attacked by The Space Island! The Professor, his 2 boy wonders, plus the trusty robot given to them by the Alien Allies years before, hop into their rocket and blast off to the rescue! They encounter and easily defeat the red flying saucer from The Space Island in a space battle that reminds me of Luke and Han’s first firefight with the Empire’s Tie Fighters in the first Star Wars!

They then show up on the alien planet, receive accolades, end of movie. Painful fun!!!

It Came From Outer Space
I was sure I had seen this movie, thought I remembered it, but was in for quite a treat when I realized I had never seen any of it before. This proved to be my favorite feature of the three! There was good use of 3-D here, especially during an extended landslide scene that had audience members constantly jerking out of the way of boulders that looked ready to flatten us! This was a fun movie based on a classic Ray Bradbury story, and the quality of the writing certainly shows. One highlight was the gasp of recognition that rippled through the audience when a telephone lineman turns out to be portrayed by The Professor from Gilligan’s Island, Russell Johnson! I won’t give too much of the plot away here, as this is a film definitely worth seeking out and enjoying.

Big Screen Classics promises to run another 3-D Film Festival in the fall, and I will give a shout here when I find out more details. Folks, I don’t care where you’re from, this is worth flying in for!


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