HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Thursday, December 31, 2009

FALLING UP -- DVD review by porfle


You know how sometimes you're hungry for a sandwich but you don't feel like going to the trouble of making one so you just settle for a piece of bread instead? FALLING UP (2009) is the cinematic equivalent of that piece of bread. (You can quote me on that.)

Joseph Cross (RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, MILK) plays Henry O'Shea, a nursing student who must leave school and get a job as a doorman in a ritzy Park Avenue apartment building to support his family after his father suffers a handball fatality. Sounds great already, but the part that must've really sold this premise to the backers comes when Henry uses his CPR training to save not only the resident blatantly-gay couple's dog, but also the boyfriend of a pretty young rich babe named Scarlett Dowling (Sarah Roemer, WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY, DISTURBIA) after he snorts too much coke during her 21st birthday party and has a seizure.

Henry's a hero to everyone in the building except snooty Mrs. Dowling (former Mrs. Tom Cruise, Mimi Rogers), who is horrified to discover that her daughter has become smitten with this common doorman and has him fired after they go out together. Well, there are certain things ya just know are going to happen in a rom-com situation like this, right? And they do. The end.

This is one of those perky and vaguely quirky little comedies that doesn't want to work up a sweat by being really funny, so it settles for cute. It's not so bad once you've settled into it, but once the plot gets going everything plops into place like one of those Playskool jigsaw puzzles with four or five pieces. The mildly amusing antics that we get seem to be acting as a placeholder for when the real comedy shows up, which it never does. Basically, FALLING UP is just a series of slightly amusing situations that never really amount to anything--it would probably have a heart attack if it turned a corner and ran into NIGHT SHIFT with Michael Keaton.

Scarlett, naturally, is fascinated by their cute new doorman right off the bat and, despite being a beautiful young girl with loads of money, seems wide open for business in the romance department. Which is exactly the way things like that never work out in real life but always do in chipper little romantic comedies. Sure, she's got a boyfriend, but "Buck" is a substance-abusing snob whose days are numbered as soon as Scarlett gets a load of Henry's blue-collar poor-guy charm.


The supporting cast boasts a few veterans who do what they can with their characters, including an under-utilized Joe Pantoliano as Henry's abrasive boss George and Annette O'Toole as his ditzy mom, who fits into her new job in a porno shop like she was working at an EZ Mart. Rachael Leigh Cook (BLONDE AMBITION, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS) walks a lot of dogs as Henry's matchmaking sister, while Mimi Rogers as Scarlett's mom does the usual rich-bitch routine. Cross and Roemer are adequate but make pretty unexciting leads. Snoop Dogg, as Henry's slacker co-worker Raul, predictably seems rather blase' about the whole thing.

Production values are pretty good and director David M. Rosenthal does a capable but unremarkable job. The musical score by Mark Mothersbaugh sounds more like a string of bad MIDIs than something written by one of the masterminds behind Devo, with the occasional sappy emo ballad thrown in for effect.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround 2.0 and English subtitles. The sole extra is an unilluminating three-minute peek behind-the-scenes.

Like a candy bar that doesn't have enough nuts in it, FALLING UP is pleasant but singularly unrewarding. Even when it tries to work up a little GRADUATE-style vibe at the end, it just doesn't have the heart to do anything that might seem too impolite. The fadeout, which comes at such an abruptly non-climactic moment that I could almost hear Marge Simpson saying "Whaaa?", wants to be a fist-in-the-air moment but barely manages a limp pinky.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just Announced: "Hellhounds" on DVD February 16 from RHI Entertainment and Vivendi Entertainment


RUTHLESS MONSTERS FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE UNDERWORLD ARE ON THE HUNT IN "HELLHOUNDS"

Latest Thrilling Entry In The "Maneater Series" Debuts On DVD February 16 From RHI Entertainment And Vivendi Entertainment

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - A virgin bride finds herself hunted by a pack of vicious and immortal guardians in HELLHOUNDS, sinking its teeth onto DVD February 16 from Vivendi Entertainment and RHI Entertainment. The 19th installment in the fan-favorite "Maneater Series," HELLHOUNDS, delves into the trenches of hell as a Greek warrior rescues his love and battles ravenous hellhounds in order to save her from the evil clutches of Hades. A brutal and dangerous adventure, the Syfy Channel original movie stars Scott Elrod ("Men in Trees"), James A. Woods (The Watch) and Amanda Brooks (My Best Friend's Girl), under the direction of Rick Schroder ("NYPD Blue"). HELLHOUNDS will be available for the suggested retail price of $14.93.

Synopsis:
When Kleitos' jealous friend Theron poisons his bride Demetria, the warrior descends into the Underworld to rescue her, slaying the duplicitous Theron. The evil ruler Hades raises Theron from the dead to lead a pack of undying hellhounds, wolf-like guardians who have been released to do the bidding of their master-kill everything in their path and bring Demetria back to Hell.

BASICS
Price: $14.93
Street Date: February 16, 2010
Pre-book Date: January 5, 2010
Catalog Number: 1001140
Language:English
Running time: 87 minutes
Rating: NR

About Vivendi Entertainment
Vivendi Entertainment is a full service independent domestic film, television, DVD, and digital distribution company representing a vast range of genres including action, comedy, thriller, urban, family, fitness and stand-up comedies. The company has become a favorite distribution partner for independent content providers. Vivendi Entertainment has built an extensive catalog of over 3,000 titles and its customer-centric business model was founded on the principles of collaboration and financial transparency. The company provides sales, marketing, and distribution services to many of the home entertainment industry's most prestigious brands including: The Weinstein Company, World Wrestling Entertainment, Sesame Street, Classic Media, RHI, Shout! Factory, Salient and Codeblack. Vivendi Entertainment also provides best in class digital distribution services. Theatrically, the company released the highly anticipated anthology New York, I Love You. Vivendi Entertainment is a division of Universal Music Group Distribution, the award-winning sales, marketing and distribution arm of Universal Music Group, the world's leading music company. UMG's parent Vivendi, is a $50B France based international organization, whose other media holdings include Studio Canal and Activision Blizzard

About RHI Entertainment
RHI Entertainment (NASDAQ: RHIE) develops, produces and distributes new made-for-television movies, miniseries and other television programming worldwide, and is the leading provider of new long-form television content in the United States. Under the leadership of Robert Halmi, Sr. and Robert Halmi, Jr., RHI has produced and distributed thousands of hours of quality television programming, and RHI's productions have received more than 100 Emmy Awards. In addition to the development, production and distribution of new content, RHI owns rights to more than 1,000 titles, or over 3,500 broadcast hours of long-form television programming, which are licensed to broadcast and cable networks and new media outlets globally. For more consumer information visit www.rhitv.com.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PANDORUM -- DVD review by porfle


Imagine if ALIEN RESURRECTION had been really grim and scary instead of just a fun, pulpy, and ultimately silly sci-fi/action flick. Or if EVENT HORIZON had really kicked major ass instead of just coming frustratingly close. Or if Ridley Scott and James Cameron were Siamese twins. That's pretty much what you get with PANDORUM (2009), one of the most satisfying sci-fi thrillers I've seen in quite a while.

As the film opens, the immense space ark Elysium is carrying thousands of refugees from a dying Earth to another planet that can sustain human life. Crewmen Bower (Ben Foster) and Payton (Dennis Quaid) are awakened from hypersleep to discover that something has gone very wrong--during their abnormally long hibernation, a space sickness known as Pandorum has driven certain other crewmembers and passengers mad. Not only have the ship's systems been sabotaged, but a segment of the ship's population have mutated into terrifying flesh-eating creatures known as Hunters.

With Payton trying to gain access to the bridge, Bower sets off to find the ship's reactor in order to restore power and keep the ship from self-destructing. Along the way he meets warrior woman Nadia (Antje Traue) and Vietnamese badass Manh (Cung Le) who help him survive against wave after wave of attacks from the almost-invulnerable mutants. As time runs out and the symptoms of Pandorum begin to set in, Bower eventually discovers the shocking secret of how truly disastrous their situation is.


PANDORUM starts out with an intriguing mystery that's only gradually revealed as Bower's odyssey takes him further into the bowels of the cursed ship. The fact that he has partial amnesia due to his extended hypersleep means that he must discover each part of the puzzle along with us. We never know if he can trust Payton, who's starting to act a little funny, or if Bower himself may be suffering from delusions. The fellow crewmembers he meets along the way are equally in the dark, while the ones who have been out of hypersleep longer than Bower have become ruthless killers bent only on day-to-day survival.

As Bower, Ben Foster gives an intense performance that finally helps me forget him as Charlie Prince in 3:10 TO YUMA, with old pro Dennis Quaid ideal in the role of Payton. The rest of the cast is also very good, particularly Antje Traue as the lovely and dynamic Nadia. Not quite as lovely but just as effective are Cung Le as Manh and, in a smaller role, Eddie Rouse as a cunning survivor with a culinary interest in our heroes. Cam Gigandet (of the TWILIGHT saga) is suitably mysterious as crewmember Gallo, who may be behind the Pandorum-induced sabotage of the ship and its vital mission.

Director Christian Alvart has crafted a stylish, great-looking film with beautiful cinematography and stunning set design that is continuously impressive. Camerawork is fine and editing is sharp while only occasionally bordering on the hyperactive. Special effects, including an imaginative ship design that looks really cool in the fly-bys, are top-notch.


The late Stan Winston's creature shop supplies some very effective and convincing Hunter-monsters, which reminded me somewhat of the subterranean creatures in THE DESCENT but are even uglier and way more deadly. CGI is used with restraint and doesn't draw attention to itself, which is how CGI should always be used as far as I'm concerned.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround 5.1 and Spanish mono, with English and Spanish subtitles. Extras include a making-of featurette, flight team "training video", a short film that shows us the fate of Nadia's team, several deleted and alternate scenes, and a trailer. There's also a commentary by director Alvart and producer Jeremy Bolt which is loaded with behind-the-scenes info.

A scintillating space thriller that's both mindbending and action-packed, PANDORUM is a riveting experience that keeps the viewer in suspense until the twist ending. It's definitely up for a spot on my list of favorite sci-fi flicks.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

February Releases From CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment


VEGA$: THE FIRST SEASON VOLUME TWO

In this popular series, fun loving private eye Dan Tanna drives around in his vintage Thunderbird solving private cases but is also on retainer to a wealthy casino owner to keep crime out of his hotels. He is helped by his smart and sexy assistant, a not too smart chorus girl (Phyllis Davis), and his enthusiastic yet inept legman (Bart Braverman).

Actors: Robert Urich, Tony Curtis, Greg Morris, Bart Braverman
Format: Box set, Color, DVD, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English
Number of discs: 3
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: February 9, 2010
Run Time: 589 minutes

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BARNABY JONES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

This series focused around a retired private detective, Barnaby Jones (Buddy Ebsen), who had passed his private investigation business to his son, Hal. When Hal was murdered while on a case, Barnaby came out of retirement to track down his son's killer. Hal's widow Betty (Lee Meriwether) worked with Barnaby as his invaluable assistant on cases.

Actors: Buddy Ebsen, John Carter, Mark Shera
Format: Box set, Color, DVD, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English
Number of discs: 4
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: February 16, 2010
Run Time: 662 minutes

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CANNON: SEASON TWO VOLUME TWO

The weekly adventures of Frank Cannon, an overweight, balding ex-cop with a deep voice and expensive tastes in culinary pleasures, who becomes a high-priced private investigator. Since Cannon's girth didn't allow for many fistfights and gun battles (although there were plenty), the series substituted car chases and high production values in their place.

Actors: William Conrad
Format: Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
Language: English
Number of discs: 3
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: February 16, 2010
Run Time: 606 minutes

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MY THREE SONS: SEASON THREE VOLUME ONE

"My Three Sons" is a delightful slice-of-life comedy about the American family. The series chronicles the life of the Douglas family; a seemingly simple premise that was a huge hit with audiences and a keystone of the TV family lineup in the 60s. Fred McMurray delivers a standout performance as Steve Douglas, an aeronautical engineer and widower raising his three sons alone.

Actors: Fred MacMurray, William Frawley
Format: NTSC
Region: Region 1

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JAG: THE FINAL SEASON

A one-hour dramatic series, "JAG" (military terminology for Judge Advocate General) is an adventure drama about an elite legal wing of officers trained as lawyers who investigate, prosecute, and defend those accused of crimes in the military, including murder, treason, and terrorism. A Navy Commander ace pilot turned lawyer Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr. (David James Elliott) and by-the-book Marine Lieutenant Colonel Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie (Catherine Bell) find themselves clashing as they traverse the globe together to search for and discover the truth.

Actors: David James Elliott, Chuck Carrington, John M. Jackson, Patrick Labyorteaux, Scott Lawrence
Format: Box set, Color, DVD, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Number of discs: 5
Rating: Unrated
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: February 9, 2010
Run Time: 969 minutes

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DYNASTY: SEASON FOUR VOLUME TWO

This hugely popular prime-time soap opera follows the exploits of the Carringtons and Colbys, both "oil rich" family dynasties in Denver, CO, as they accrue and manipulate power and wealth.

Actors: John Forsythe, Gordon Thomson, John James, Michael Nader
Format: Box set, Color, Dubbed, DVD, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Number of discs: 3
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: February 2, 2010
Run Time: 609 minutes

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BEVERLY HILLS 90210: SEASON NINE

The ensemble drama about young adults growing up in Beverly Hills is a blend of romantic drama and subject matter that crosses all cultural boundaries. The storyline follows the West Beverly gang as they mature as college students and beyond, facing new challenges as they continue to grow and discover more about themselves and their personal ambitions. As their worlds evolve, old friendships will be tested as new relationships develop, but no mater how complicated their worlds become, they will alwyas share in their strengths and experiences.

Actors: Jason Priestley, Brian Austin Green, Ian Ziering
Format: Box set, Color, Dolby, DVD, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Portuguese, Spanish
Number of discs: 6
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Paramount
DVD Release Date: February 2, 2010
Run Time: 1146 minutes

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THE EVIL WOODS -- movie review by porfle


"Whatever you do, stay away from...THE EVIL WOODS!"

No, this isn't a tagline for the 2007 film. It's me, warning you. I only wish someone had been there to warn me. Back in the old days, in a more innocent time before I became the hollow, burned-out shell of a man you now see before you, I cavalierly thought movies like MOTOR HOME MASSACRE and DARK FIELDS were the worst. Oh, how wrong I was. Those films were blazing cinematic masterpieces compared to THE EVIL WOODS. But before I continue, here's a synopsis of the plot to bring you all up to speed:

"Once upon a time, a group of obnoxious young people went camping in the woods, wandered around for a while, and then eventually got murdered by a guy with an axe. The end."

Hmm, did I leave anything out? Oh yeah, there's the part where...no, that just about covers it. I'd like to be able to say that this threadbare plot is seasoned with a few imaginative twists and turns and goosed by an inventive visual style, but I'd just be making it up. In fact, THE EVIL WOODS doesn't simply play out the same tired old formula we've seen in scores of other stalk 'n' slash films--it actually takes that basic formula and reduces it to a bare minimum that I normally wouldn't have thought humanly possible.

Over three quarters into the film, we're still watching the characters wander away from camp one by one and walk around in the woods for long stretches of time, as the story builds and builds to the point in which they inevitably return to camp and drink some more beer. We get a couple of those scenes in which a character is about to get hacked and then wakes up--it was only a dream! And then there are those tension-packed highlights where someone turns around and suddenly comes face to face with--one of the other campers. The best part, though, is the way the filmmakers deviously trick us into thinking something's about to happen, and then pull the wool over our eyes by totally not having anything happen. Man, I didn't see those parts coming at all.


We get the usual inbred yokel popping up now and then, since every forest in every slasher film has to have at least one inbred yokel (especially if it's in--gasp--THE SOUTH!) wandering around as a red herring to fool us into thinking he's the killer. Another red herring is this guy who stumbles upon the campers while hiking through the woods. He tells them the story of a forest ranger who was accidentally burned alive inside his cabin by some other campers years ago, and now he stalks the woods killing campers. After meeting these particular campers, we're already on his side.

The killer himself, it turns out, is a guy wearing a parka. I guess all the other cool-looking serial killer ensembles were already taken. It's a pretty scary parka, though, because it's, like, you know, furry and stuff. One of the cool things about a good slasher flick is the inventive methods the killer uses to slaughter his victims. Unfortunately, I don't think this killer ever saw any of those movies.

He does ram one guy's head against a tree ten or fifteen times, and there's some fake blood on the tree that looks pretty real. Whew! That was a highlight. Mostly, though, he just swings his axe and the victim spits up some more fake blood, and that's it. The director does display some real daring, though, by staging the buildup to these big moments with absolutely no suspense whatsoever.


One of the best parts features two of the homeliest girls in horror film history sunbathing topless, which is possibly the scariest scene in the whole movie. And one of the main characters, John (Brad E. Smith), is fascinating to watch because he's nothing more than a perpetual profanity-spewing, fart-lighting boor of the first order. He whizzes on the campfire while everyone is sitting around it, regales his fellow campers with tales such as the time he was receiving a blowjob in a parking lot when suddenly struck by an urgent burst of explosive flatulence, and constantly refers to everyone else as either "bitches" or "pussies." I don't think he actually had any written dialogue--instead, I suspect that it merely said "be a total asshole" whenever his name appeared in the script.

Surprisingly, this film features a rather good synth score by Scott Ford and some nice cinematography, both of which are better than it deserves. The performances are pretty good, too (especially Ivory Dortch as "Shannon"), considering what the actors had to work with. Other than that, though, this is pretty much one of the biggest wastes of time I've ever managed to sit through without actually falling out of my chair, dead.

I usually give independent filmmakers credit just for being able to put a low-budget film together in the first place--I'm sure it's not an easy undertaking. But it's nice when you get the impression that they were at least trying to make something watchable. THE EVIL WOODS, on the other hand, is the cinematic equivalent of someone getting shit-faced, lighting a few farts, and then passing out with his pants down.

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Carter Steven's Guide To TCM This Week (12/29-1/1)!


HK and CULT FILM NEWS brings you a new weekly series, where acclaimed American film director and avid Turner Classic Movie fan Carter Stevens brings you his recommendations on what to watch on TCM and why. We hope you enjoy this new series and thank Carter Stevens for taking time out to give us his recommendations.

Tue December 29, 2009

7:00am High Noon (1952)
A retired Marshal must defend his town from a revengeful villain.
Cast: Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado Dir: Fred Zinnemann BW-85 mins, TV-PG

This one is for the TiVo or VCR. Too damn early to watch live. One of the greatest westerns ever with a score I dare you to try to forget. Gary Cooper at his lone hero standing against evil best.

10:30am Cameraman, The (1928)
In this silent film, a photographer takes up newsreel shooting to impress a movie queen.
Cast: Buster Keaton, Marceline Day, Harold Goodwin, Sidney Bracy Dir: Edward Sedgwick BW-76 mins, TV-G

Not my favorite Keaton by far but come on the hero is a movie Camerman how could I not recommend it.

8:00pm On The Waterfront(1954)
A young stevedore takes on the mobster who rules the docks.
Cast: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger Dir: Elia Kazan BW-108 mins, TV-PG

I coulda been somebody, I coulda been a contender, instead of a bum, which is what I am. No Charlie it was you. Brando and Steiger out methoding each other and as legend has it improvising one of the greatest dramatic scenes in film.

2:15am Ice Station Zebra (1968)
A sub commander on a perilous mission must ferret out a Soviet agent on his ship.
Cast: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown Dir: John Sturges C-152 mins, TV-PG

I love this film. I don't know why. Maybe because I saw it in Cinerama when it opened. The Avatar of it's day.

Wed December 30, 2009

12:45pm Battle Circus (1953)
A doctor fights for his life during the Korean War.
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, June Allyson, Keenan Wynn, Robert Keith Dir: Richard Brooks BW-90 mins, TV-PG

M.A.S.H. ... first draft.

1:30am Caine Mutiny, The (1954)
Naval officers begin to suspect their captain of insanity.
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray Dir: Edward Dmytryk C-125 mins, TV-PG

Just in case you thought Humphrey Bogart was NOT really an “actor.” and just a “star”

Thu December 31, 2009

7:00AM to 8:00 PM Alfred Hitchcock all day and then from 8:00PM to 6:45AM the next morning The Thin Man

If you're the kind who stays in on New Years eve TCM has a movie for you.

Fri January 1, 2010

8:30am Anatomy Of A Murder (1959)
A small-town lawyer gets the case of a lifetime when a military man avenges an attack on his wife.
Cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell Dir: Otto Preminger BW-161 mins, TV-PG

If you can even open your eyes New Years day watch the greatest courtroom drama ever filmed. And watch famous lawyer Joseph Welch teach all those high falutin' actors a thing a two about acting from the bench.

3:00pm Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962)
An experienced gunman and a peace-loving tenderfoot clash with a Western bully.
Cast: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin Dir: John Ford BW-123 mins, TV-14

Read that cast list and the director. What more needs to be said.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stargate Universe (SGU 1.0) - On Blu-ray Disc and DVD February 9

IT’S NOT ABOUT GOOD VS. EVIL. IT’S ABOUT SURVIVAL IN THE ALL-NEW GRITTY DRAMA STARGATE UNIVERSE (SGU 1.0)


Featuring An EXTENDED Pilot With Never-Before-Seen Footage
SGU 1.0 Debuts Exclusively On Blu-ray Disc And DVD February 9

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (December 21, 2009) – From the creators of television’s longest running Sci-Fi series, “Stargate SG-1” comes a new story as “SGU 1.0” lands on two-disc Blu-ray and three-disc DVD February 9 from MGM Home Entertainment. Featuring the first 10 episodes, fans will have the opportunity to relive their favorite moments before all-new episodes air in the spring. With a winning combination of Stargate’s pedigree, award-winning cult favorite stars and a bold new look, “SGU 1.0” features appearances by original cast members Richard Dean Anderson (“MacGyver”) and Amanda Tapping (“Stargate SG-1”). Plus meet a brand new all-star cast including Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty), Brian J. Smith (Hate Crime), David Blue (“Ugly Betty”), Jamil Walker Smith (“Hey Arnold!”) and guest starring Ming-Na (“ER”), Lou Diamond Phillips (Stand And Deliver), and Canadian actors Louis Ferreira, Alaina Huffman and Elyse Levesque.

“SGU” is the story of a group of soldiers, scientists and civilians, fleeing an attack, finding themselves stranded billions of miles from Earth on an Ancient ship known as the Destiny. Locked on an unknown course, they must fight to survive and find a way home. The danger, adventure and hope they find on board the Destiny will reveal the heroes and villains among them.

Discover exclusive Blu-ray Disc bonus materials including star map log segments of “Stargate Universe’s” new look, Directors minutes and behind-the-scenes featurettes. Fans can also enjoy Blu-ray Disc and DVD extras including an extended pilot, cast and crew commentary on all episodes and more. SGU 1.0 two-disc Blu-ray will be available for a suggested retail price of $69.98 U.S./$79.98 Canada and three-disc DVD for $ 49.98 U.S./$59.98 Canada. Prebook is December 23.

Blu-ray Disc Specs:
Disc One:
- Episodes
- Air, parts 1 & 2
- Air, part 3
- Air (Extended Version)
- Darkness
- Light
- Special Features
- Destiny SML
- Robert Carlyle
- Louis Ferreira
- Lou Diamond Phillips
- Ming-Na
- David Blue
- A Brand New “Universe” – BD exclusive
- Designing Destiny – BD exclusive
- Inside Destiny – BD exclusive
- Stargate 101: Presented by Dr. Daniel Jackson
- The Stargate
- The GOA ‘ULD
- Hyperspace
- The Ancients
- Ascension
- Lucian Alliance
- Kawoosh 2.0 – BD exclusive
- Chatting with the Cast: Shooting on the Destiny – BD exclusive
- Director’s Minutes: Andy Mikita – BD exclusive
- No Day at the Beach – BD exclusive
- White Sands – BD exclusive
- Kino Video Diaries
- Kino 101 with Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper
- Young “Get that thing out of Here”
- Eli: Mess with Greer, Scott and TJ
- Spencer and Brody Sneaking Smokes
- Voyeur Scott and Chloe’s Conversation
- Eli: Chloe interviewed in her Room
- Destiny Tour
- Commentary by Cast and Crew
Disc Two:
- Episodes
- Water
- Earth
- Time
- Life
- Justice
- Special Features
- Destiny SML
- Alaina Huffman
- Brian J Smith
- Elyse Levesque
- Jamil Walker Smith
- Director’s Minutes: William Waring – BD Exclusive
- Falling Through Ice – BD Exclusive
- On the Ice – BD Exclusive
- Setting the (Alien) Mood – BD Exclusive
- Out on the Town – BD Exclusive
- A Stunt in Tight Places – BD Exclusive
- Director’s Minutes; Ernest R. Dickerson – BD Exclusive
- Helmet-Cam 101 – BD Exclusive
- Shooting in the Rain – BD Exclusive
- Let it Rain – BD Exclusive
- Fight! – BD Exclusive
- Future/Past: The New Stargate – BD Exclusive
- A New Look for SG: U – BD Exclusive
- Kino Video Diaries
- James in the Shower
- Kino Race
- Favorite Meal Bit
- Brody and Riley Try on Space Suits
- Brody and Riley Accident
- Riley Diary
- Park Diary
- Voyeur Scott and Chloe’s Embrace by Window
- Inman Makes Alcohol Concoction then Hears Explosion
- Commentary by Cast and Crew


Three-Disc DVD Specs:
Disc One:
- Episodes
- Air, parts 1 & 2
- Air, part 3
- Air (Extended Version)
- Darkness
- Special Features
- Kino Video Diaries
- Kino 101 with Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper
- Young “Get That Thing out of Here”
- Destiny Tour
- Eli: Mess with Greer, Scott and TJ
- Spencer and Brody Sneaking Smokes
- Commentary by Cast and Crew
Disc Two:
- Episodes
- Light
- Water
- Earth
- Special Features
- Destiny SML
- Ming-Na
- David Blue
- Alaina Huffman
- Stargate 101: Presented by Dr. Daniel Jackson
- The Stargate
- The GOA ‘ULD
- Hyperspace
- The Ancients
- Ascension
- Lucian Alliance
- Kino Video Diaries
- Voyeur Scott and Chloe’s conversation
- Eli: Chloe Interviewed in her Room
- James in the Shower
- Kino Race
- Inman Makes Alcohol Concoction then Hears Explosion
- Brody and Riley Try on Space Suits
- Voyeur Scott and Chloe’s embrace by window
- Commentary by Cast and Crew
Disc Three:
- Episodes
- Time
- Life
- Justice
- Special Features
- Destiny SML
- Robert Carlyle
- Louis Ferreira
- Lou Diamond Phillips
- Brian J. Smith
- Elyse Levesque
- Jamil Walker Smith
- Kino Video Diaries
- Favorite Meal Bit
- Riley Diary
- Park Diary
- Commentary by Cast and Crew

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., through its operating subsidiaries, is actively engaged in the worldwide production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home video, interactive media, music and licensed merchandise. The company owns the world's largest library of modern films, comprising around 4,100 titles. Operating units include Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc., United Artists Films Inc., MGM Television Entertainment Inc., MGM Networks Inc., MGM Domestic Networks LLC, MGM Distribution Co, MGM International Television Distribution Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment LLC, MGM ON STAGE, MGM Music, MGM Worldwide Digital Media, MGM Consumer Products and MGM Interactive. In addition, MGM has ownership interests in international TV channels reaching nearly 120 countries. MGM ownership is as follows: Providence Equity Partners (29%), TPG (21%), Sony Corporation of America (20%), Comcast (20%), DLJ Merchant Banking Partners (7%) and Quadrangle Group (3%). For more information, visit www.mgm.com.

About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC
A recognized global industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC (TCFHE) is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming on DVD, Blu-ray Disc (BD) and Digital Copy as well as acquisitions and original productions. The company also releases all products around the globe for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets -- from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce - throughout the world. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC is a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company.

Follow TCFHE on Twitter @foxhomeent

SGU 1.0
Street Date: February 2, 2010
Prebook Date: December 23, 2009
Screen Format: Widescreen – 1.78:1 (All)
Audio: English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Surround (BD)
English 5.1 Dolby Surround, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Surround (Standard)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese (All)
Total Run Time: 569 minutes (BD)
519 minutes (DVD)
U.S. Rating: NR
Closed Captioned: Yes

STARGATE UNIVERSE AND SGU ™ & © 2009 METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Two Sexy Horror Comedies on DVD Jan. 19!

Infinity Entertainment Group in Association With Retromedia Entertainment Proudly Present "Twilight Vamps" & "Bikini Frankenstein"


Sexy Reinventions of Classic Horror Monsters--Taking a Bite Out of DVD Jan. 19th

LOS ANGELES - Jan. 1, 2010 - Get ready to sex up your New Year with two erotic comedies busting out on DVD Jan. 19 from Infinity Entertainment Group.

Twilight Vamps: A vampire nudie bar? Let's get the party started! Two guys get the lap dance of their lives at one of the sexiest night clubs around, Shadows, where they encounter a bevy of bounteous beauties with an appetite for human blood. When Tabitha and her gang of to-die-for vampire strippers lead a dusk to dawn marathon of sex, music and more sex, who will survive and what will be left of them? Starring Brandin Rackley, Ashley West, Christine Nguyen and Beverly Lynne.

Bikini Frankenstein: The immortal tale gets a modern update with a sexy twist. Dr. Frankenstein sets out to create the perfect woman, wondering if anyone would ever really be able to tell the difference. Deciding to put his creation, Eve, to the ultimate test, the hilarious and sensuous results will leave you stiff with laughter. She'll love you to pieces! Featuring sexy newcomer Jayden Cole as Eve along with fan favorites Christine Nguyen and Brandin Rackley.

Twilight Vamps and Bikini Frankenstein are presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16 x 9 and 2.0 Dolby Stereo. Special features include original trailers.


Retromedia Entertainment was launched in 2001 by CEO Fred Olen Ray, a well-known writer, director and producer of films across a broad range of genres. Among his most successful works are the award-winning films Invisible Mom, starring Dee Wallace, and Inner Sanctum, starring Tanya Roberts and Margaux Hemingway, both of which became "The Number One Most Rented" DVD titles in the U.S., according to the RIAA. The latter film earned Ray the Wall Street Journal headline "B Movie Makes A-Movie Money." Ray also directed the award-winning Black Horizon, starring Michael Dudikoff and Ice-T; Armed Response, starring David Carradine; and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, called the "4th Coolest B Movie of All Time" by Maxim magazine.

Infinity Entertainment Group, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., is a multi-service home entertainment retail distributor specializing in independent films, television programming, special-interest, documentaries, anime and music. Clients include Smithsonian Networks, MOJO HD, Falcon Picture Group, Bandai Entertainment, Roxbury Entertainment, SJ2 Entertainment and Retromedia. Hit titles include the iconic Route 66 television series, now available on DVD for the first time, and Spike Jones: The Legend. The company was launched in 2006 and is a division of Infinity Resources, Inc., a privately-held, multi-channel marketing and service enterprise with general offices based in suburban Chicago, Ill.

Twilight Vamps
Bikini Frankenstein
Infinity Entertainment Group
Genre: Erotic Horror/Comedy
Not Rated
Format: DVD Only
Running Time: Approx. 81 Minutes Each
Suggested Retail Price: $14.98 Each
Pre-Order Date: December 15, 2009
Street Date: January 19, 2010

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

INALIENABLE -- DVD review by porfle



"From the mind of Walter Koenig", erstwhile Ensign Chekov of the Starship Enterprise, comes INALIENABLE (2009), which starts out as a horror tale of a man who isn't quite sure whether he's carrying a deadly parasite or an alien offspring, and ends up itself resembling the unearthly lovechild of SyFy and Lifetime.

Research scientist Eric Norris (Richard Hatch, a veteran of both versions of "Battlestar Galactica") is trying to discover a cure for AIDS while dealing with the endless guilt caused by the death of his wife and son in a car crash in which he was driving. One day his friend brings him a piece of rock that broke off of an alien wessel--sorry, a meteor--that crashed on his property. Eric wakes up the next day to find that the rock has transformed into a jellyfish-like creature and invaded his body, nestling in a pouch-like protrusion over his left hip and sending tendrils throughout his body which intertwine with his vital organs.

It soon becomes apparent that Eric is "pregnant" with something, and when the FBI finds out about this potential alien threat, he must flee along with a sympathetic coworker, Amanda Mayfield (Courtney Peldon), who has fallen in love with him. After giving birth to the grotesque, tentacled baby (which he christens "Benjamin") in a barn, Eric and his new son are captured and placed under strict observation. Meanwhile, Amanda hooks up with a space-case civil rights lawyer named Ellis (Erick Avari) to help free Eric and allow him to have custody of Benjamin without government interference. This results in a courtroom drama in which Benjamin's humanity, or lack thereof, is in bitter dispute.

INALIENABLE begins with all the elements of early David Cronenberg body horror, but that all changes as soon as the proud dad gets a gander at his new butt-ugly baby with the octopus tentacles and goes all sappy. After that it's all tears and hugs and courtroom intrigue designed to tug at our heartstrings. When Eric and Benjamin are reunited in a holding cell under the watchful eyes of coldhearted government types, their impromptu Charlie Chaplin dance will either make you smile or retch. Most interesting is the battle of wits between the two lawyers over Benjamin's basic "human" rights, bringing to mind similar questions about robot sentience as seen on some of the best episodes of shows like "Star Trek" and "The Outer Limits."


Richard Hatch sells his character convincingly and makes his scenes with Courtney Peldon seem a little lopsided by consistently out-acting her. Koenig, as Eric's boss and eventual enemy (for reasons we discover later on), proves that he's a pretty solid screen presence himself when he isn't having to portray the biggest weenie in Starfleet. Special credit goes to Marina Sirtis for her impressive turn as the queen-bitch prosecutor, a far cry from ST:TNG's compassionate Deanna Troi. Other familiar sci-fi faces pop up here and there throughout the story, including Alan Ruck and Tim Russ (both alumni of different Trek incarnations), Richard Herd, Gary Graham, Jay Acovone, Erick Avari, and longtime sci-fi/horror stalwart and stuntwoman Patricia Tallman ("Babylon 5", "Star Trek", the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD remake).

Production values are adequate but rather spartan, and Robert Dyke directs without a whole lot of energy. The film is low-key to the point of timidity, as though it were aware that someone was taking a nap in the next room and didn't want to wake them up. Some of the courtroom scenes are undercut by the constant drone of strangely soothing music which seems intent on lulling us to sleep ourselves. Worse, Amanda's first meeting with lawyer Ellis is accompanied by an intrusively whimsical tune that lets us know Ellis is supposed to be a funny character, even though he isn't funny.

The alien SPFX aren't very convincing, although it's nice to see something like this done with animatronics and puppetry rather than cheap CGI for a change. The newborn infant is a nicely-rendered creation that's somewhat reminiscent of the baby in ERASERHEAD. Later, the older Benjamin's makeup makes him look more like an aged midget than a cute little alien child, and the less said about his bobbling tentacles the better. Again, however, Richard Hatch does such a good job of interacting with this weird little gremlin that he manages to give their scenes together a surprising amount of pathos.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround 2.0 and English subtitles. The sole extra is a trailer, but if you zip to the end of the closing credits you get to see Walter Koenig cutting up on the set for about half a minute.

INALIENABLE's heart is in the right place and for the most part it's a fairly absorbing though slow-moving little sci-fi tale. The first half, with its potentially horrific imagery of an unknown alien lifeform incubating inside a human host, would be good fodder for a Cronenberg film or episode of "The X-Files." The second half, though, is a rather listless stroll through KRAMER VS. KRAMER territory with an ending that fails to generate much tension or suspense. All in all, an amiable little flick that I can neither condemn nor recommend with much enthusiasm.


(CORRECTION: We've learned that the previously reported street date of January 19th for INALIENABLE was incorrect. The actual date is January 26, 2010.)

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GHOST MACHINE -- DVD review by porfle

Another in the ever-growing line of virtual reality thrillers, GHOST MACHINE (2009) is well-made and fun to watch. While it never completely scores a bullseye as an action-adventure or as a scary movie, at least it isn't yet another dumb slasher flick.

Geek dreamgirl Jess (Rachael Taylor, who has great eyebrows), a beautiful but tough blonde trying to get into the British Army's special forces, has been training inside a new virtual-reality program designed to place the participant into flawlessly convincing battle situations. The gizmo's head technician, Tom (Sean Faris, PEARL HARBOR), is a young American computer genius who "borrows" the equipment for a little personal gaming with his pals, including Jess' boyfriend Vic (Luke Ford of THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR), brash pubcrawler Benny (Jonathan Harden), and Iain (Sam Corry, "The Clinic"), a security guard at the spooky old abandoned prison where their night of computer fun is to take place.

A series of sensors mounted at points throughout the prison map the environment for use in the game. Unbeknownst to the lads, however, is the presence of a malevolent ghost--the spirit of a female terrorist who was tortured to death during questioning by the military in the prison's dark, spooky basement--who enters the gaming environment along with them. Prisoner K (Hatla Williams), as she is known, is able to totally control the game, and through it, the players' minds. And whatever happens to them in the game manifests itself physically, so they're in a heap of trouble.

The VR warfare scenes are well done without leaning too heavily on the simulated-videogame-graphics look--the effect is achieved mainly through jittery camerawork and editing, and intentionally obvious computer-generated blood splatter. I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little tired of the "first person shooter" thing, which is thankfully missing here. After awhile, the emphasis shifts away from this angle anyway when members of the group get lost in the program and Jess and Vic must enter the game to try and locate them before Prisoner K gets her mitts on them. Some late revelations about the nature of the game itself and Tom's motives for having them participate in it keep things fairly intriguing.

As Tom, Sean Faris has the sort of shark-like expression one associates with a cocky young Tom Cruise, which fits his cold and devious character well. The rest of the cast does a good job, especially Rachael Taylor as Jess. She's believable as a semi-tough soldier without having to act like Xena. Richard Dormer adds quite a bit of tension to the proceedings as stiff-necked military ogre Taggert, who not only sexually harasses Jess but eventually discovers the location of the illicit gaming session and throws a monkey wrench into everything. Lovely Hatla Williams doesn't have much to do as Prisoner K besides lurk around acting creepy but she's pretty good at it.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround 5.1 and English subtitles. Extras include a making-of featurette, an interview with writer Sven Hughes, and a trailer.

The finale of GHOST MACHINE turns into a bit of a bad-CGI fest, but the story's interesting enough to make up for it and there's a nice twist ending that might remind you of David Cronenberg's EXISTENZ. This movie probably won't blow your socks off or anything, but it's a worthy effort and chances are you'll find it fairly entertaining as long as you don't go into it expecting a terrifying ghost story, a pulse-pounding action flick, or THE MATRIX.

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Mystery Science Theater 3000 XVI Review by Jessica Friedman



Mystery Science Theater 3000 XVI Review

The newest Limited Edition DVD set from Shout Factory is a must-have for MST3K fans for one reason and one reason only: Tom Servo figurine! It’s the perfect thing for the home or the office that lets nerds proudly proclaim, “I LOVE TOM SERVO!” Also, it makes a fantastic last-minute holiday gift. Mine is sitting at my desk at work, and as you can see, it is SO cute next to my box of paper clips and mug of assorted pens!


Ahem…aside from the adorable mini Tom Servo that makes the entire purchase worthwhile, there are also four impressive DVDs and individual mini posters of the bots that feature, once again, excellent art from Steve Vance. The DVD set includes four titles: two Mike episodes (Santa Claus and Night of the Blood Beast that includes the original hysterical Turkey Day ’95 bumpers) and two Joel episodes (Warrior of the Lost World and the fifth episode of Season 1, The Corpse Vanishes). Even though Mike is my favorite of the two hosts, I will be discussing a Joel episode as well as a Mike one: the seasonal favorite Santa Claus and the futuristic Warrior of the Lost World.

Since it is the holiday season once again, it seems to be the perfect time to watch the perennial favorites: A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and Die Hard (if you are my husband or our friend Derek). However, MST3K has offered many holiday classics, and Santa Claus is one of the most terrifying and hilarious Christmas-related movies I have ever seen in my life. It is difficult to put into words the surreal atmosphere that this movie encapsulates, but Mike and the Bots certainly rip Santa and Pitch, the effeminate evil demon that is Santa’s enemy in the film, a new one. Everything about Santa Claus is bizarre, from the first half hour of “It’s a Small World” international singing children to the horrifying doll dream that the protagonist, Lupita, has during the course of the film. In addition, the lines “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” have never sounded so ominous until you witness Santa using his spying devices to maintain his totalitarian grasp over the world.

The riffing is, as always, top-notch for Santa Claus, and the sweet nondenominational song that Mike and the Bots sing near the end is for me the highlight of the episode. The DVD also features a 50-year retrospective on the movie entitled “Santa Claus Conquers the Devil” that helps to explain how K. Gordon Murray found the film and how it achieved its cult success that has continued over the years, along with information on the film's production (and why Santa is more like an El Santo-esque superhero). There is also a stills gallery and a teaser trailer for The Wonder World of K. Gordon Murray. If you can make it past the mumbling children and creepy Santa battling with the devil, this film is sure to become a holiday tradition for your family as it has already become for my husband and me.

A very different, but also enjoyable episode is Warrior of the Lost World. Joel often leaves me bored and annoyed with his dull demeanor and half-baked gadgets, but even I must admit that the riffing in this episode is stellar. This movie is one bizarre amalgam of every apocalypse film ever made with a sprinkling of The Warriors for flavor. The two aspects of this film that stand out in my mind are the machines (the protagonist’s motorcycle that annoyingly chirps words and Mega-Weapon!) and the nausea-inducing makeout scene at the end that seems to last forever. Although the riffing by Joel and the bots is great, the most impressive joke is Tom Servo pointing out every single person in the three-tiered stands at the end of the movie and assigning them a celebrity look alike. That, my friends, is what makes Kevin Murphy a master riffer.

In addition to this hilarious episode, the DVD features some illuminating extras, including an interview with director David Worth and movie stills with Worth narrating. Worth is self-deprecating in his interview and seems to be an it-getter in relation to the premise of the show. My husband and I both felt that he came off very well in his interview, and Mr. Worth, if you are reading this, my husband would LOVE for you to do an interview with HK and Cult Film News!

In conclusion, if you are a fan of MST3K or just enjoy cult movies, do yourself a favor and buy this DVD set. The four episodes included in the set look fantastic, sound great, and are filled with fascinating extras that will keep any MSTie satisfied until the next DVD release. But who am I kidding…the real reason to buy this Limited Edition set is so that you can have your very own Tom Servo figurine! Get yours today!


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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Marilyn (Patch) Arnone Interview


[NOTE: This interview originally appeared in October 2007 at Bumscorner.com.)

If you're a Howdy Doody fan, you might know her better as Marilyn Patch, who played Doodyville schoolteacher "Happy Harmony" on "The New Howdy Doody Show" for 130 episodes back in '76. Dr. Marilyn Arnone has been doing her part to educate kids in entertaining ways ever since she hosted her own children's show called "Marilyn and Calico" at the age of eleven. (Hmm...I think I built a birdhouse out of a milk carton when I was eleven, but then I blew it up with some firecrackers.)

Dr. Arnone is a Harvard grad with a PHd who is currently the director of educational media for Syracuse University's Center for Digital Literacy, in addition to being co-founder and president of Creative Media Solutions. I had such a blast recently watching and reviewing the DVD set "Say Kids, What Time Is It? It's Howdy Doody Time: The Lost Episodes" that I was compelled to hurl a few pertinent interrogatives at her, which she was nice enough to answer--after all, she's "Happy Harmony"!--and you can enjoy the results right here, right now. So, come on, Peanuts! To Doodyville...and beyond!


porfle: How in the world did you manage to land your very own Saturday morning children's show at age 11?

Marilyn: I used to go around the neighborhood asking neighbors if I could show them my puppet act. When they invited me in, I'd get behind a big chair and pull out my brown sock puppet (Calico, the Texican Donkey) and start talking to it. They probably thought I was a little weird but harmless. Then, finally, I got my parents to take me to meet some people at WHDH-TV in Boston, the CBS affiliate at the time. We did a pilot and then the show.

porfle: Is this what first interested you in the potential of using television to help kids learn?

Marilyn: Not at that point, but after I graduated from high school and contemplated college, I knew that's what I wanted to do. Now, I am involved more in digital media and learning doing more with the Web but it still uses some of my old skills with television. I love kids. I feel I am doing something I like and making some kind of contribution at the same time.

porfle: Didn't you appear as a contestant on "What's My Line?"

Marilyn: Yes, but Dorothy Kilgallen was the the first one to interview me and she guessed me without too much problem (that I was the youngest person in Boston to have her own TV show). I recently saw the clip and you should have seen the expression on my face, total amazement and disbelief. Guess Mr. Daly felt badly for me and flipped over all the cards anyway which meant I won all the money. A whopping $50.00! With the extra time left, they asked me to sing a verse from a song. I chose my parents' original song "We Wish We Had It But We Ain't"--a song they wrote during the Depression!

porfle: Your talent for ventriloquism is impressive. Can you tell us a little something about this art and how you happened to pick it up?

Marilyn: Well, when I was 8 or 9, Shari Lewis had her own show. She became one of my idols. I thought she was so beautiful and talented. I watched her carefully and the rest was self-taught.

porfle: What did you do between "Marilyn and Calico" and "Howdy Doody"?

Marilyn: I graduated junior high school and high school. Got married. Had a baby boy, Sean. Went to college and got a bachelor's degree from Emerson College.

porfle: How did you come to join the cast of "The New Howdy Doody Show"? Did you create the "Happy Harmony" character or had it already been established?

Marilyn: The character of Happy Harmony was already written up in the prospectus for "The New Howdy Doody Show." I heard about the auditions in NYC and went for the try-outs. I was able to do a little of everything, sing, dance, play the guitar, puppeteer, and act so I think that helped me a bit.

porfle: What was it like working with Buffalo Bob and Clarabell?

Marilyn: It was some of the most fun times I've had! They always kept things interesting. They taught me this funny gibberish-type language so we could communicate anywhere and no one would know what we were saying. They swore me to secrecy but my daughter, Alexis, actually figured it out after a while. Buffalo Bob used cue cards but I never did. He was a master of cue cards, I was not. So, I memorized everything and went into rehearsals prepared. Bob didn't have much patience for re-takes.

Lew Anderson who played Clarabell was so nice, with a dry sense of humor. He always kept me laughing. And he was so very talented as a musician, writer, and arranger. He loved his Big Band! I loved going to work at the studio because we had such a tight cast and crew. Everyday was interesting and different.

porfle: Wasn't some of it pre-taped, especially the backstage scenes?

Marilyn: Yes, all the backstage scenes were taped at a different time than when the live audience was there.

porfle: Did any unfortunate or embarrassing mishaps ever occur during taping that didn't end up on the air? I'd love to see a "Howdy Doody" blooper reel.

Marilyn: All the time. So much fun. I'd love to see the blooper reel myself again. This wasn't exactly a blooper because the crew planned this trick on me but for me, it was a blooper because I wasn't expecting what happened...OK, the director, Errol Falcon, and the crew had planned this scene where everyone was getting squirted by Clarabell and they got to me and I said something like "I always like it when somebody else gets squirted by Clarabell!" at which point someone on the catwalk dropped a bucket of water on my head.

Ok, I was expecting that. What I was NOT expecting was that on the heels of the bucket of water dropping on my head, I was pounded with a pie in the face. Now, that expression was priceless! Guess they thought that if I knew it was coming, it wouldn't have looked as funny! Good thing I'm a good sport!

porfle: Aren't you skilled with marionettes yourself? How much of this did you get to do on the show?

Marilyn: I was a puppeteer (hand and rod puppets) before the show but had never done marionettes. They sent me to New London, Connecticut, to work with Margo Rose to learn to operate marionettes. I loved it! It took a lot of practice because these were long-stringed marionettes that had to be operated from a high puppet bridge. It was an honor to have Margo Rose work with me like that.

porfle: How much input did you have in the "Happy Harmony" character, regarding songs, storylines, etc.?

Marilyn: None for the most part. However, they did let me do a little ventriloquist bit using one of my own puppets sitting in the audience one time. That was fun.

porfle: By the 70s, weren't some of the kids in the Peanut Gallery a little jaded toward something as simple and innocent as "Howdy Doody"? Sometimes it looks like their baby-boomer parents are having the most fun.

Marilyn: Probably!

porfle: What's the story on the show's bandleader, Jackie Davis? Not only was he funny, but he played a mean Hammond organ.

Marilyn: He was super-talented and a pleasure to work with. Always upbeat and funny.

porfle: During a show, was it easy to find yourself relating to the marionettes as actual performers?

Marilyn: It was easy for me because I could get into character and forget about the fact that
Pady Blackwood, the master puppeteer, was doing all the magic above!

porfle: Mayor Phineas T. Bluster cracks me up. Can a marionette's performance be so funny that you lose it during a scene?

Marilyn: Oh yes, especially when Nick Nicholson or Bob would ad-lib with the puppets but that was mostly during rehearsals. Bluster used to say things to me sometimes and I'd blush. Like he was a dirty old man. Pady Blackwood was quick enough to make the puppet look like it was coming right out of his mouth. Mr. Bluster used to be the one that cracked us up the most during rehearsals--you just never knew what he was going to say.

porfle: There's no getting around it--"Happy Harmony" was very cute. Did she ever get any "fan mail" from older male viewers?

Marilyn: Ah....yep.

porfle: How was "The New Howdy Doody Show" received by audiences and critics at the time?

Marilyn: Unfortunately, it didn't have a long run.

porfle: You went on to do the "Pappyland" series in the 90s. The IMDb page for it shows that it still has quite a few devoted fans. Was it a good experience?

Marilyn: It was also a very good experience. My former business partner, MariRae Dopke, and I ran the production company that produced and edited the show. We were co-producers. Mike Cariglio, who played Pappy, is immensely talented as an artist and he learned to make puppets, too. I love working in the studio and miss the fun we had on that show.

porfle: How are the requirements for an effective children's television show different now than they were in the 70s? Or the 50s, for that matter?

Marilyn: You still have to gain and sustain attention but today, programs have to have more
educational value and funders are looking for outcome-based evaluation, a plan for assessing whether kids have actually changed in knowledge, skills, attitude as a result of regular viewing. There is also the Children's Television Act which makes providing quality children's programming a condition of license renewal so that's good.

porfle: What's wrong with some of the children's programming you've seen? "Barney", for example.

Marilyn: Some of it is good but there's room for improvement, of course. Let's save this for
another interview. This could take a while!

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