Karel Zeman was a fantastic and amazing Czech filmmaker and animator whose work is wondrous to see. Zeman used live action and combined it with animated both hand drawn and stop motion to create amazing fantasy worlds.
Today’s Sunday Matinee is Karel Zeman’s 1961 The Fabulous Baron Munchausen. Loosely based on the Munchausen stories, this incredible fantasy follows the adventures of an astronaut who lands on the moon only to discover the crew from Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, Cyrano de Bergerac, Baron Munchausen and others already on the moon. The group assumes that the astronaut is a moon man and the Baron decides to take him to Earth to show him what Earth is like.
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Today’s Sunday Matinee is a quiet little British sci-fi thriller from 1963 called Unearthly Stranger.
Shot on a low budget with practically no special effects the story follows a scientist, Dr. Mark Davidson (John Neville) narrates the story as a flashback. Fearing for his life he tells how he got to this point.
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35 years ago today Disney released a movie into theatres that they would consider to be another box office failure for them (in the ’80s Disney wasn’t doing too good). The movie would eventually become a cult classic and 28 years later Disney would eventually make a sequel.
Tron was the brain child of writer/director Steven Lisberger who had previously made the animated movie Animalympics. Lisberger originally wanted Tron to be a completely animated movie but released that it wasn’t possible at the time. He opted for live action with a mix of backlit animation and computer animation. Tron was not the first film to use computer animation but it was one of the first to use extensive computer animation. 15 full minutes of computer animation including the legendary light-cycle scene.
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Hope everyone had a good Canada day! Today’s Sunday Matinee is Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant masterpiece from 1935 The 39 Steps.
The movie sets up and features several themes that Hitchcock would use through many of his movies to come. The macguffin, the wrong man falsely accussed on the run, the blonde love interest and much more.
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It may be one of the lesser Alfred Hitchcocks but it’s still pretty entertaining and it manages to turn 75 years old this year, today’s Sunday Matinee is 1942’s Saboteur.
Hitchcock was under contract to David O. Selznick but Selznick wasn’t interested in the story so Universal picked up the movie and produced it. Hitchcock didn’t get the cast that he wanted but Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings and Norman Lloyd do a pretty decent job.
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Filming has just wrapped up on the latest edition of the Predator franchise, The Predator which is actually only the fourth film. The original though first hit screens 30 years ago on June 12. Today’s Sunday Matinee takes a look at the classic first movie.
Back in 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger was king of the action films. He had two big hits in theatres in 1987. The Running Man and this mix of action and sci-fi horror.
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To celebrate The Godfather‘s 45th anniversary and as part of Cineplex Events’ Classic Film Series, The Godfather will be screening at select Cineplex theatre’s on June 4th (today which has already screened) and June 7th.
In the days before the Hollywood summer blockbuster would fill the screens with fantastic creatures and events every summer hoping to entice audiences to spend billions on their movies, The Godfather was not only the highest grossing movie the year it came out and won tons of awards and acclaim, it was also the highest grossing movie film ever made at that time. Of course then Jaws came along and changed everything.
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40 years ago in a galaxy long long ago a movie opened on May 25, 1977 that would change movies, summer blockbusters, merchandising and pop culture forever.
Up until this point a young filmmaker named George Lucas had only made two movies. THX 1138 a science fiction film about a dystopian future where sex is illegal and everyone is on drugs to keep everyone compliant. His other film was American Graffiti a movie about a bunch of teenagers who go cruising one night before going off to college, war, etc. THX 1138 bombed at the box office but American Graffiti was a hit for Lucas. Lucas had wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie but he couldn’t get the rights. So he decided to invent his own space epic. And what a space epic. It’s so epic it’s still going on today.
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It feels like there’s always movies celebrating anniversaries. Sometimes though it’s a little shocking to hear how old some of these movies are. For example stuntman turned director Hal Needham’s first movie from 1977 Smokey and the Bandit.
The movie is kind of dumb but it kicked off a car chase craze throughout the 1980s. The simple easy going plot has Burt Reynolds (The Bandit) driving a 1977 Trans Am really fast to get cops to chase him instead of his buddy Jerry Reed whose semi is illegally hauling booze over state lines.
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Happy Mother’s Day. Here’s a zombie movie.
I used to read British writer Mike Carey’s comics all the time. He had a fantastic couple of series. His Lucifer was brilliant as was his short lived Crossing Midnight and The Unwritten. After years in the industry he moved on from comics and became novelist and has been writing novels for the last couple years. One of his more recent novels has been made into a British movie that never saw a North American release.
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After producing several successful sci-fi movies in the early 1950s George Pal made his most ambitious and biggest movie to date, 1955’s Conquest of Space.
While effects were impressive for the time the story is a bit strange and flat. The movie bombed when it was released and it set Pal back a few years and he didn’t venture into outer space again.
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After directing the first Italian sound horror movie, Lust of the Vampire in 1957 director Riccardo Freda started work on his next horror movie Caltiki, the Immortal Monster. But for whatever reason Freda abandoned work on the film (Freda claimed he did it so Mario Bava could get the job, Bava states that the film was a mess which is why Freda left). Either way Caltiki, the Immortal Monster became legendary filmmaker Mario Bava’s first movie.
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In 1957 a group of astronauts, Commander Dr. Eldon Galbraithe (Nelson Leigh), engineer Henry Jaffe (Christopher Dark), radioman Herbert Ellis (Rod Taylor) and scientist John Borden (Hugh Marlowe), are travelling back to Earth after taking their rocket ship out for a test run around Mars.
Upon returning to Earth the ship suddenly accelerates and knocks the crew unconscious. When they awake they discover that the ship has crash landed on Earth into a snow covered mountain. Confused the crew try to figure out what has happened.
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“The Story of a Man Who Murdered Himself and Lived to Regret It!!!”
One of the problems of movies being in public domain is that the physical condition of the film tends to fall into poor disarray. If you want to watch a copy of the film odds are the version you are watching is going to look like crap. Not always but more often than not.
Lots of great film noir have fallen into public domain for a variety of reasons and one of them is this 1948 film Hollow Triumph which was re-released as The Scar.
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The crappy Americanized remake/live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell has hit theatres with a thud. So today’s Sunday Matinee is the original animated movie from 1995.
Based on Masamune Shirow’s 1989 comic book, the 1995 animated movie was a streamlined adaptation of it following the adventures of Major Motoko Kusanagi and her squad of troubleshooting specialists of Section 9.
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The final lost world movie that director Kevin Connor and actor Doug McClure made together in the late 1970s was this original tale of the search for the lost city of Atlantis.
The first three collaborations were all Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptations but for this film they hired screenwriter Brian Hayles who wrote several Doctor Who episodes in the 1970s.
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After The Land That Time Forgot’s success, Amicus Studios re-teamed director Kevin Connor with actor Doug McClure for an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Victorian-set novel At the Earth’s Core. To class things up a bit, Peter Cushing was added to the cast as the scientist Dr. Abner Perry. In At The Earth’s Core, Perry, along with David Innes (McClure) test the Iron Mole — a giant drilling machine capable of digging to the centre of the Earth. Little do they suspect they’re about to discover the mysterious underground realm Pellucidar and its strange, often hostile inhabitants.
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Jules Verne’s classic 1864 lost world novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth was finally made into a movie in 1959.
The movie was made by 20th Century Fox after the success of two other Jules Verne’s novels. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956). James Mason stars as Professor Lindenbrook.
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So I seem to still be on a Lost World kick and I realize I’ve never written about the entertaining 1969 movie The Valley of Gwangi. Let’s fix that.
Set in the early 1900s, The Valley of Gwangi follows a travelling cowboy show run by T.J. Breckenridge (Gila Golan) that performs in Mexico. T.J.’s ex-boyfriend, Tuck Kirby (James Franciscus), has come back to buy her out. T.J. refuses—she’s got a new attraction that will be bring in the money: a miniature horse. But when Tuck shows Professor Bromley (Laurence Naismith) the tiny thing, Bromley claims it’s an extinct Eohippus. Whoa. Could there be other prehistoric wonders out there?
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Edgar Rice Burroughs had dabbled in the lost world genre before he wrote his classic The Land That Time Forgot in 1918. The first film adaptation didn’t occur until 1975 with legendary fantasy writer Michael Moorcock writing the screenplay.
Set during WWI a British boat has been torpedoed by a German u-boat. The survivors manage to get aboard the u-boat and take it over. The Germans manage to sabotage the navigation and the u-boat ends up in the south Atlantic where they come across a lost continent called Caprona.
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