Saturday, May 31, 2008

Early Father's Day Present!

Meant to post about this yesterday, but haven't had the time until now...

Jessi gave me the coolest ever Father's Day present I could ever imagine (yes, even cooler than a boxed set of the Planet of the Apes series)...

...a new Macintosh! It's one of those iMacs, with the humungous flat screen, DVD capabilities, etc... too many cool features to even start mentioning!

Of course, I still had to copy files from the old Mac to the new one... thank goodness for wireless networking!

Jon

Movie of the Week: The Cat People & Curse of the Cat People!

It's two for one this week, my friends, as I talk about two movies, because I don't have much in my files to share on either of 'em!



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The Cat People, and its sequel, Curse of the Cat People, are two of my favorite movies, especially the former. Neither movie relies on special effects or makeup to achieve their goals... it's all in the dialogue, the acting, the sets... and the masterful cinematography and direction!

This time around, I'll borrow bj_kuehl's synposis from the Internet Movie Database's entry, since it's so well written!

While sketching a panther at the zoo, Serbian fashion artist Irena Dubrovna [Simone Simon] meets American Oliver Reed [Kent Smith]. She invites him to her apartment for tea. A few months later, they are married.

Irena is a strange and lonely woman with no friends. She has a fascination with panthers, but animals don't seem to like her very much. When Oliver brings her a Siamese kitten as a gift, for example, the cat hisses at Irena, so they return to the pet store and exchange it for a bird. While in the pet store, Irena's presence sets all the animals to caterwauling. Several weeks later, the bird dies in fear when Irena reaches for it in its cage.



Irena is haunted by a tale from her country that tells how the people of her village were witches, devil worshippers, and, under strong emotions like jealousy or anger, could change into panthers. She refers to them as the 'cat people.' Oliver takes it as a folktale, but Irena takes it for real, so real that she refuses to sleep with her husband because she believes that she might kill him.

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Oliver suggests that Irena see a psychiatrist, so she goes to see Dr Louis Judd [Tom Conway], who was recommended to Oliver by his co-worker, Alice Moore [Jane Randolph]. When Irena returns home after the first session, she finds Oliver and Alice seated on the couch, talking about her. Irena gets angry when Oliver reveals that he has told Alice about her problem.

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About a week later, Oliver runs into Dr Judd and learns that Irena has stopped seeing him. Concerned about Irena's belief in these folktales, Oliver again confides in Alice. Alice lets on that she's secretly in love with Oliver, and Oliver admits that he isn't so sure anymore that he really loves Irena. When Oliver gets home from work that evening, he and Irena quarrel about her not keeping her appointments with Dr Judd, so Oliver goes back to the office, stopping first at the snack shop around the corner. Irena calls the office, but when Alice answers the phone, she hangs up. When Alice learns from the cleaning lady that Oliver is in the snack shop, she decides to join him. Irena walks down to the office, passing the snack shop along the way and sees Oliver and Alice in there together. When they leave the shop, Irena follows Alice, scaring her badly.

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One afternoon, Oliver, Irena, and Alice go to the museum. Oliver and Alice are interested in seeing the scale models of boats, and they suggest that Irena look at some other displays on the next floor rather than being bored by boats. They plan to meet in about an hour, but Irena does not show. After leaving the museum, Alice goes to the gymnasium for a late swim. Irena follows her. The place is empty, save for the desk clerk and cleaning lady. As Alice gets into her swimsuit, she hears what sounds like a growl. Scared, Alice dives into the deep end of the pool and treads water in place. The growling gets louder. It's in the pool room with her. Alice starts to scream. Suddenly the light goes on, revealing Irena standing there. Irena asks if Alice knows where Oliver is, and then leaves. When Alice gets out of the water, she finds that her robe has been torn to ribbons.



Alice goes to see Dr Judd. She tells him about being followed twice by something inhuman, which she believes may be Irena's cat form. Judd thinks it's all in her imagination. Irena consults Dr Judd, too. She tells him about the incidents with Alice, but he tells her that she is on the border of insanity and he could have her put away. He advises her to forget all this cat people stuff and lead a normal life. When Oliver comes home that evening, Irena is setting the table for a romantic dinner. She tells him that she's no longer afraid, but Oliver says that it's too late. 'I love Alice,' he admits. Irena tells him to leave. The next afternoon, Oliver and Alice have lunch with Dr Judd to discuss how to proceed with Irena. Dr Judd recommends an annulment so that they can marry, but Oliver and Alice opt to have Irena committed to a mental hospital where she can get the help she needs. They arrange for a meeting with Irena at 6 pm at her apartment.

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It is now 7:30 pm, and Irena hasn't shown, so the three of them leave, Oliver and Alice intending to return to the office. Dr Judd walks out with them but then asks for the key to the apartment so that he can retrieve his cane, which he conveniently 'forgot'. What he really does is to leave the door unlocked. Oliver and Alice are working when the telephone rings. Alice answers, but the caller hangs up. Alice is scared and wants to leave. They turn out the lights and go to the door, but it is locked. Then they hear a growl and see a panther in the room with them. Oliver grabs a cross and tries talking to Irena, pleading with her to leave them alone. Oliver and Alice manage to get out of the building but not before smelling Irena's perfume.

Dr Judd has gone back to Irena's apartment. When she comes in, he tries to kiss her. Irena turns into a panther and kills him, but not before he stabs her with his cane. Irena goes to the zoo and unlocks the panther's cage with a key she stole from the zookeeper several days ago. The panther leaps at her, knocking her over and killing her. Oliver and Alice find Irena lying dead on the ground outside the panther's cage.

'She never lied to us,' Oliver says to Alice.

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And I'm back again! I really hope that, if you've never seen this movie, you go out right now and rent, borrow or buy a copy, because it is excellent. Simone Simon is beautiful, sexy, and obviously troubled, and the rest of the cast is great, too.

The follow-up movie went in quite a different direction! "Curse of the Cat People" brought back the three leads, but with a tale that one wouldn't have expected!



And for that plot summary, I go back to Wikipedia!

After the death of his wife Irena (Simone Simon), Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) has married former co-worker Alice Moore (Jane Randolph) and they now have a 6-year-old introverted daughter Amy (Ann Carter). Amy has trouble at school because she spends too much time daydreaming, and Oliver tries to encourage her to make friends. After Amy finds a photo of deceased cat-woman Irena, whose name is never mentioned in the house, Irena’s ghost appears to her and the two strike up a friendship. At the same time, Amy befriends Julia Farren, an aging actress who is alienated from her own daughter Barbara (Elizabeth Russell, who also appeared as a sinister cat woman in the previous movie - perhaps the same character).

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Reed and his family have left New York City, and now live in Tarrytown, New York. The legend of the Headless Horseman plays into the sense of foreboding in the plot.

Director Robert Wise’s debut (codirected with Gunther von Fritsch) concentrates on childhood fantasy more than suspense and horror as was found in the original.

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While a very different movie, it is nonetheless a classic!

Next week... well, we'll be into June, and you know what that means...

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Jon

It Begins Tomorrow!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Only A Few Days Until...

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Cool Stuff: Remco Toys!

We'll start this look at Remco Toys with some Mighty Crusaders figures!

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Here's the Comet, in the original costume -- he'd gone through at least two of them!

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The Buzzard and The Web!

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The Shield!

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The Sting!

What? No, I've never heard of The Sting, either... I don't even know if he'd appeared in the 1980s Red Circle revival!

OK, enough Crusaders... I've got other Remco toys to show off, too!

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Yes, they did actually make a real Dick Tracy Two-Way Wrist Radio!

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Energized Hulk!

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Flying Spaceman! Yes, he's got a huge freaking propeller on his head, and he only flies as high as the wire for the controller...

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Lost in Space 3D Action Board Game! I'm guessing that it barely has anything to do with the show.

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Robot Defender Mazrak! I'm guessing this line came out around the same time as the debut of Transformers and Robotech, so robots were hot!

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Robot Defender Zoton! Hey... isn't that the same as Mazrak, just with different-colored plastic...?

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Robot Defender Epaxion!

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Evil Robot Renegade Zebok!

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Space: 1999 Ray Gun! A very good likeness, too.

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Here's the Stun Gun in the box!

Next time around... the Cool Stuff spotlight takes a look at the power of Shazam collectibles!

Jon

Give-A-Show Fridays: Ruff & Reddy and Snooper and Blabber!

Let's get to this week's double-feature, shall we?

First up is Ruff & Reddy, Hanna-Barbera's first TV stars!

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I swear to William Hanna and Joe Barbera, I have no idea what was supposed to be happening there... did Ruff have a habit of wandering into zoo cages or something?

Now, Snooper and Blabber!

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Yeah, I have no idea why someone stealing a fur coat would decide to disguise themselves as a bear and hide in a zoo, either.

Next week: Auggie Doggie and The Flintstones!

Jon

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

By the 10's: Captain America 210-250!

As you'll recall, when last we left off on Captain America, Jack Kirby had come back... and he was still there in issue 210...

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...which also featured Arnim Zola, the Bio-Fanatic AND the Red Skull! As well as Donna Maria, the raven-haired beauty sharing the cover with Cap and Sharon Carter!

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But by issue 220, Kirby was gone again... this cover's by Gil Kane, and it was part of a multi-part storyline written pretty much to explain how Cap ended up in that iceberg where the Avengers found him, as well as the whole suspended animation thing!

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Now here's issue 230, and that's the THIRD Captain America cover featured in By the 10's that also has the Hulk there! What is it with Captain America/Hulk battles, anyway?

Well, in this case, it's because Roger Stern was writing the book, and he was also writing the Hulk, and had been introducing the Corporation in both titles, having the stories dovetail together about this time!

This was a pretty decent run of stories, which I believe also introduced the Super-Agents of Shield, one of which, Marvel Man, later rechristened himself Quasar!

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Could these guys really give Cap a run for his money on the cover of Captain America 240? Stern was "only" editing the book by this point, and honestly, it was about here the title would meander for a while, with a few bright spots here and there...

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The couple of issues around, and including 250 above, is one of those bright spots! In this issue, Captain America considers running for president!

And with that... we'll close the doors on this 1-10, because it's as good an arbitrary point to stop as any!

Next time... we'll start on a different title!

Jon

Cool Stuff: Planet of the Apes!

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First up in this post is this Planet of the Apes activity book! I'm guessing it's based on the original movie, so that would be a very glum-looking Cornelius on it. I could well be wrong, though!

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Here's an item that was a complete surprise to me... one box, all four POTA model kits! I knew they had been released individually (and re-released that way), but I had no idea there was a four-pack available. Come to think of it, I didn't remember them being done by Aurora, either!

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Here's a children's Planet of the Apes mask... probably supposed to be one of the chimpanzee characters, so it could be Cornelius, Zira, Caesar, Lisa... or even Galen, for all I know!

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Although if it goes with this costume, it's probably Cornelius!

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Maybe it's just me, but I think there's something just delightfully silly about a Planet of the Apes kite!

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Mexican lobby card for the first movie (and yeah, when I cover the Apes Saga in "Movie of the Week," you'll be seeing it again!).

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Another Mexican lobby card, possibly from an earlier or later release!

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Romanian Planet of the Apes poster... I think it's pretty groovy, almost as if a San Francisco artist who usually did rock concert posters was hired to design a POTA poster!

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Here's a pair of POTA puzzles! Never had any of those (I think the only POTA toy I ever had as a kid might've been one of the parachutist toys, but I wanted all of 'em!).

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This shows that nothing is really new... about six or seven months ago, Jessi came home with this same kind of soap featuring Go Diego Go! (one of Tristan's favorite TV shows), and I thought it was a new product then... but no! It at least goes back to the 1970s, as you can see here!

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Swear to God, I had no idea that the POTA TV characters had been produced as anything but Megos! And then I came across this Alan Virdon Mix & Mold toy!

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And we wrap up this Found on eBay post with this Dr. Zaius bendy from Mego... man, those eyes make him look possessed, don't they?

Gee, do you think maybe I should've held off posting these for a few days... because, you know...

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Next time: Remco Toys, with a special focus on the Mighty Crusaders!

Jon