Thursday, October 22, 2020

Episode 61: Live from Grover's Mill - The War of the Worlds!


 

In this episode your Planet 8 crew takes a look at the big one...the war to end all wars...we're talking War of the Worlds! This sci fi classic, first conceived by H.G. Wells, has been adapted to radio and film most successfully, as well as TV and comic books. We will focus on the two motion pictures, the first released in 1953, the other in 2005, but we'll touch on other adaptations too.


Chief Engineer Bob gives us the lowdown on Wells' original novel and how it was adapted to a radio play by Orson Welles in 1938. Welles' broadcast caused hysteria across the country as people mistakenly thought the world was actually under attack by Martian invaders. Similar radio broadcasts of War of the Worlds occurred in other parts of the world too.


A number of film-makers tried to bring War of the Worlds to the big screen but it was George Pal who succeeded in 1953. His film still looks brilliant, in large part due to the Martian war machines, with their sleek manta ray-like design. We'll talk about just why this film has such a strong visual impact, and we might go off on a tangent or two, but hopefully it will be entertaining!


Next we take a look at Steven Spielberg's 2005 film, starring Tom Cruise. In some ways this adaptation was closer to Wells' novel, such as including the Martian tripods. The film also had scenes that paid homage to Pal's film. Di we love it? Like it? Well, listen and find out!

Before we finish, Recon Officer Karen shares more War of the Worlds related stuff: the Tripods novels of John Christopher, and Marvel's Killraven comics. It's a Martianpalooza!


We round it out with our Sensor Sweep, with Commander Larry sharing his newest treasure. This time it's a rather thick tome called The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen by Jeff Bond, from Creature Features. Many of you will recall that Irwin Allen was the producer of Lost in Space, but he also was the man behind such TV shows as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants too. Allen also produced films, earning the title "The Master of Disaster" for such efforts as The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, and The Swarm. The book is filled with amazing photos and tons of info on all of Allen's projects. It's the perfect read for fans of his work. It's sold out on the Creature Features site, but you might check secondary sellers to see if you can find it. 

That's all for us this time. Please share your thoughts and feedback with us in the comments section, or at our other sites: 

Thanks for listening!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Episode 60: They're Coming to Get You, Barbara! Celebrating Night of the Living Dead


 

It's October, and that means Planet 8 is taking a turn into the creepier side of things! This episode we focus on that classic of cult films, and the one that really started the zombie craze, Night of the Living Dead! We have not one, but two special treats for you: first, an exclusive Planet 8 interview with actress Judith O'Dea, who starred as Barbara in the film. To add on to that, discussing the film with us is none other than the always-entertaining Mr. Lobo, host of Cinema Insomnia. Hey, what more could you ask for?


We open up with our interview with Ms. O'Dea, whose performance as Barbara in NotLD really sold the feelings of fear and confusion that the characters were experiencing. We'll learn about how she became an actress, her early career, and how she became involved in making the film. Ms. O'Dea was a generous and insightful interviewee and we had a wonderful time talking with her.


Then we move into a freewheeling discussion of the film with our special guest, Mr. Lobo. We'll reminisce about our first time viewing NotLD -that's something you never forget! - and how it made us think about how we would defend our homes from zombies!

Night of the Living Dead is definitely the grand-daddy of all our modern zombie films and TV shows. Before George Romero made his little film, zombies had always been connected to voodoo or sorcery and there had never been a connection to cannibalism. Of course, the creatures in NotLD weren't called zombies -that came later. But so many conventions of modern zombie lore came out of this film.


Even today, the film resonates with viewers. Maybe it's the almost documentary feel of the film, or the stark black and white look; but it is still compelling. There's a deep sense of despair, of nihilism, that pervades the film. Later films may have been gorier or filled with more stunts, but Night seems to have the darkest soul. If you haven't seen it in a while, give it a look. 


For our Sensor Sweep, we want to share all things Mr. Lobo! If you have never experienced Cinema Insomnia, never taken the pledge of the Sleepless Knights of Insomnia, check out episodes on Amazon Prime, Vimeo. his streaming channel OSI74 on Roku, the YouTube channel for Mr. Lobo, and of course, cinemainsomnia.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter -honestly, you can find Mr. Lobo everywhere! It's an invasion! Check him out!

That wraps it up for us. We hope you enjoyed this extra-special look at a classic horror film. Please share your thoughts, experiences, and feedback with us here, or at our two other locations: 

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Episode 59: Game Over, Man! It's Aliens on Planet 8



In 1979, we learned that in space, no one can hear you scream. But there was plenty of screaming in movie theaters, as audiences jumped and shrieked, scared senseless by the phenomenon that was Alien. It was a film like no one had seen before, a horror story in space, with a truly terrifying alien creature. Pitched as "Jaws in space," it was just as suspenseful, but had a sense of claustrophobia and body horror that Jaws lacked. 


Your Planet 8 crew are big fans of the original Alien and its follow up, Aliens. These two films are so perfect, and complement each other so brilliantly, yet are so completely different in tone. We'll take a look at the ground-breaking 1979 film, its amazing visuals, impressive cast, and of course, the alien itself, the xenomorph, a true icon of creature design. The distinctive H.R. Giger designs made the film stand out from anything that had ever come before - and made your skin crawl!


It also made a star out of Sigourney Weaver. Alien was her first big film, and she gave a memorable performance as Ripley. It was unusual at that time for a woman to not only be the protagonist, but to be so self-sufficient and capable. Weaver wound up being the star of the franchise for years to come. 


The 1986 sequel, Aliens, went in a completely different direction thematically, and was more of an action film than a horror film. This worked surprisingly well. The space marines that Ripley teams up with were as interesting a group as the Nostromo crew from the original film. Actors we now know so well like Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, all provide classic performances. The film also gave us tons of aliens, including a giant alien queen. And just like the first film, everything was achieved with practical special effects, no CGI! Ah, those were the days.

Of course, we have to talk a bit about the soundtracks - the films had two well-known composers, Jerry Goldsmith on Alien and James Horner on Aliens. Both interesting soundtracks, but very different, and some of Horner's cues have been used on a number of trailers. And Aliens sure sounds a lot like parts of  his Wrath of Khan soundtrack!


These two films are still fantastic to watch and are true classics of science fiction film. If you haven't seen them in a while (or ever!), check them out. You will not be disappointed.


For our Sensor Sweep this episode, Karen appropriately shares an amazing coffee table book from Titan Books called The Making of Alien by J.W. Rinzler. This 300+ page tome does a deep dive into the origins of Alien, and is illustrated with production designs and behind  the scenes photos. If you are a fan, you will love this book!

That's it for us, folks. Send us your thoughts, your feedback, your insults, we'll take it all! You can leave comments here, or fire them off at our two other locations: 

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Episode 58: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Podcast - Jaws

 


As summer comes to a close, we cast our attention to the granddaddy of all summer blockbusters - Jaws. Arguably one of the best films ever made, Jaws stands the test of time, still delivering suspense, adventure, and outright terror in one beautifully filmed package. Come along with the Planet 8 crew as we reminisce about one of our favorite films.


Jaws is an amazing film, especially given that the mechanical shark didn't work most of the time! Director Steven Spielberg had to work around this, filming in such a way as to indicate the presence of the shark without the shark actually visible. This actually made the film much more exciting, because you never knew exactly where or when the shark was going to attack. Thankfully, they got the shark to work just enough for the dramatic scenes in the final act.

But so much went right with Jaws. Despite the studio wanting big names, Spielberg was able to pull together the perfect cast.  The characters are all so believable, so watchable. Much of the dialog was ad-libbed. But that marvelous scene on the Orca, where Quint tells Brody and Hooper about his experience on the USS Indianapolis, is absolutely amazing. It's a testament to both great writing and acting.


Of course, you can't talk about Jaws without discussing that theme...duh duh...duh duh duh duh...only the legendary John Williams could turn such a simple theme into perfect fit for a film. How many times has someone hummed the theme while in a pool or the ocean? Everyone knows what that tune means.


Jaws set off a wave (pun intended) of copycats, none anywhere near as interesting as the originator. For that matter, none of the Jaws sequels were even close to their papa. It also had a huge impact on film-makers and the industry, paving the way for the summer blockbuster, and massive merchandising deals. Outside of film, it also changed the way people look at sharks, perhaps unfairly, and how we look at the ocean. Forty five years later, we're all still afraid to go back in the water.


Normally we end our show with our Sensor Sweep, but we were rocked by the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman on August 28th. The  news was heart-breaking. Only 43 years old, the Black Panther star had been battling colon cancer since 2016. It's mind-boggling to think that Boseman continued to act and do charity work through his illness and treatment. By all accounts, he seemed like a wonderful person. His impact on a generation of African American kids cannot be over-estimated. This is a big loss and we are truly saddened by his passing.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback! Please feel free to leave comments here, or at our other listening posts:

Thanks for listening!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Episode 57: It's Alive! Frankenstein on Planet 8

 


For more than two centuries now, the tale of Frankenstein has fascinated people, and your Planet 8 crew is no exception! In fact, we are huge fans of Dr. Frankenstein and his monstrous creation. Joining us to do a deep dive on the topic is our good friend, horror host and monster maven Lord Blood-Rah! So come on along with us, as we travel through the many permutations of the Frankenstein legend.

Of course, we must discuss the source of the legend -the Mary Shelley novel. What might have been her inspirations? Was it the first science fiction novel ever written? And what implications does it still have for us today?

The Universal films featuring Boris Karloff, and then later, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, and Glenn Strange, provided the classic look which most of us associate with the Monster, and which has permeated pop culture. These films had a definite arc for the character through at least the first three, and then the Monster suffered a real decline, being reduced to little more than a shuffling wreck. But the Universal Frankenstein Monster had little resemblance to Shelley's creature.

Hammer films went on to do their own Frankenstein series, but focused on Dr. Frankenstein rather than the Monster. The doctor just can't help himself, he has to keep stitching bodies together! His creations never seem to come out the way he plans, though.

Since Frankenstein is in the public domain, there have been tons of films made that either retell the Frankenstein story, or borrow the name quite liberally. One of the better ones we discuss is Frankenstein the True Story, a 1973 made for TV production that was aired on NBC, and featured Jane Seymour, David McCallum, and Michael Sarazin. This one is a little closer to the book, although it veers off from it too. And there's a shocking moment that none of us ever forgot!

It wouldn't be Planet 8 if we didn't toss a little kaiju your way, so we'll bring in the Japanese Frankenstein connection -namely, Frankenstein Conquers the World, and War of the Gargantuas (aka the Frankenstein Brothers!)

The story has crossed over into comics, and we'll discuss a few of them, from the Marvel series and black and white magazines, to Mike Mignola's Frankenstein character who appeared with Hellboy, and the beautiful Frankenstein, Alive, Alive illustrated by Bernie Wrightson.

For our Sensor Sweep, all our instruments are focused on our wonderful friend, Lord Blood-Rah. If you haven't seen his show, Lord Blood-Rah's Nerve Wrackin' Theatre, you're missing out! Head on over to http://www.lordbloodrah.com/, and check his schedule to find where and how you can catch him. He's also putting together a DVD that collects material he has used in his live Halloween shows. The feature film on the DVD will be House on Haunted Hill, in 3D for the first time! Don't worry, a pair of 3D glasses will be included. Although Creatures Con was cancelled this year, a virtual Creatures Con was put together and you can see interviews and panels at the Facebook Creatures Con page. But next year, if we are free of this terrible pandemic, Creatures Con 2021 will be held August 8th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Concord, California, and will focus on the birth of the Universal Monsters! The special guest will be author David J. Skal, writer of The Monster Show and Death Makes a Holiday, as well as contributor of commentary on many Universal films.

And Engineer Bob reminds everyone that the Arrow box set of Gamera films is out now, including his commentary with Keith Aiken on Gamera the Brave! Check it out!

We hope you enjoyed this trip through all things Frankenstein. What's your favorite Frankenstein film? Do you like to focus on the doctor or the creature? We want to hear from you!  Send us your feedback here or at our other locations:
Thanks for listening!


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Episode 56: Dino-mite! A Dinosaur Extravaganza


This episode serves as sort of a companion piece to our last one that focused on King Kong, as we turn our eyes this time to one of Kong's foes, dinosaurs! Most kids grow up loving dinosaurs, spending time playing with plastic dinos and learning the names of the many different species. There are so many different types, with new ones still being discovered. Perhaps part of the magic of dinosaurs is the fact that these amazing creatures actually existed! While we love our Kongs and Godzillas, the Tyrannosaurus Rex was a real (and terrifying) beast, and we can go to museums and see its skeleton, and get a sense of just how imposing it would have been. For over 100 years, artists have depicted dinosaurs in film, going back to the days of silent pictures, all the way up to today, with the popular Jurassic World films. Dinosaurs never seem to leave the imagination of humanity.

The Planet 8 crew watched a whole heap of dinosaur films, and we'll talk about them -in no particular order! But rest assured, we will discuss many well-known films, as well as some oddities and a few not so great movies. Like the range of species in the dinosaur world, dinosaur films are many and varied!


But we couldn't discuss dinosaur movies without talking about the work of stop-motion animation legend Ray Harryhausen. The way Harryhausen imbued his creatures with life, with personality, is still impressive. Films such as Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Valley of Gwangi, and 1,000,000 Years B.C. all come under our lens.

Of course, other techniques besides stop-motion have been used. We'll look at the pros and cons of these too, including puppetry, men in suits, and CGI. And don't miss our discussion of - DINOSAURUS!!

You can't talk about dinosaur movies without bringing up Jurassic Park/World, so of course we'll go there. The first Jurassic Park film revolutionized special effects, and the dinosaurs in it still look fantastic.


We're sure that people will be watching dinosaur movies (or holograms, or virtual reality programs) far into the future!

For our Sensor Sweep segment, Bob shares some news about some artists you should know about. Nick Shev, who we covered on a previous episode, is now designing t-shirts! He has a bunch of cool Godzilla tees over at his Tee Public shop: https://www.teepublic.com/user/nickshev

Another great artists you should check out is Gaz Gretsky. Especially if you are a Power Rangers fan, you will want to see Gaz's shop! Head over to https://www.etsy.com/shop/gazbot to check out all his cool stuff.

Well, it's time to return from prehistoric days to the present. Yeah, we know it's not much fun right now, but we hope everyone is staying healthy and safe! And we hope you were entertained by this episode. Send us your feedback here or at our other locations:
Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Episode 55: The Eighth Wonder of the World - Kong!


This is it! We're finally talking about the King - King Kong that is! The big ape has been one of Hollywood's (and the world's) biggest stars since he first showed up on the scene in 1933. At the time, the original King Kong was cutting edge, and it influenced many later generations. Kong is a part of pop culture, and new versions of the eighth wonder of the world keep getting made. There is something universally appealing about this unique and powerful figure.


We'll go through the long history of Kong in films (and a little bit on TV), starting of course with the classic original 1933 King Kong, directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, with ground-breaking stop-motion effects by pioneer Willis O'Brien. The exciting story, the ferocious  Kong, and the whole beauty and the beast angle, made the film a huge success. It was quickly followed up with a sequel, also in 1933, Son of Kong, which was amusing but no where near the success of the original.


In the 60s, through a somewhat circuitous route, Kong wound up across the Pacific and got a job with Toho Studios, making King Kong vs Godzilla in 1962, and King Kong Escapes in 1967. There's a connection to the 1966 Rankin-Bass King Kong Show cartoon too!


Near to our hearts, even though it's clearly a flawed film, is the 1976 version of King Kong. The film may be best remembered today for the amazing John Berkey poster showing Kong astride the World Trade Center towers. We'll talk about the controversy over the robot Kong and how the great make-up genius Rick Baker played Kong. Bob took the hit for the team and watched King Kong Lives, and gives a rundown of that sequel.


If you're excited to hear what we think about Peter Jackson's 2005 remake of King Kong, well, you may want to ratchet back your expectations. We have some strong opinions on the film, and that's all we'll say here!


Finally, we finish strong as we enthusiastically discuss Kong Skull Island (2017), which took a very different approach to Kong, and will lead to a rematch with Godzilla next year!

Larry's Kong and Bruce mugs, seen front and back
On this episode's Sensor Sweep, our mission commander, Larry, shares his love of tiki mugs, and shows off two: a Bruce the Shark from Jaws mug from Mondo, and a Kong mug from Tiki Farm. If you love tiki mugs and monsters, check 'em out!

In a burst of shameless self-promotion, we want to mention the various side-gigs we all have going on.

Your crew at Monsterpalooza a few years ago -Larry, Karen, and Bob
Bob recently participated in a panel discussion on Ultraman for the Kaiju Con-line, an online  convention celebrating kaiju (obviously). If you want to watch the panel, click here. If you're a Gamera fan, a blu-ray box set should be coming out at the end of July, and Bob and his pal Keith Aiken are doing commentary on the film Gamera the Brave

Karen decided to start blogging again, to babble on about science fiction and other stuff. You can read her posts once or maybe twice a week at Echoes from the Satellite.

Larry has just started doing a video blog! It's on YouTube and it's called Larryland USA. Larry will be talking about things he loves and his many genre-based memories. Check it out!

That's all for us right now. We hope all of you are staying well, and hanging in there. If you have thoughts on King Kong, other giant apes, or anything else, drop us a line, why don't ya? You can leave a comment at our site, or hit us up here: 

Thanks for listening!