Monday, April 27, 2009

CAPTAIN SINBAD (1963)

Captain SindbadOur friend Raf waxes philosophic about Captain Sinbad, airing tonight on TCM:
CAPTAIN SINBAD
Despite classics like "Forbidden Planet" and "War of the Worlds", during the 1950s-to-1960s, there was a surprising lack of interest for big budgeted, high-fantasy and science fiction films, outside the black and white cheepies and foreign distributed fair of course. So something like "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", an above average-budgeted B-movie that has become synonymous with the aforementioned gems, left quite the impact back in the day. And unlike the other effects milestone which was the original "King Kong", most studios had the tools to emulate the fantasy style...though not always on the same level...

Ever wondered what the heroic and fanciful adventures of Sinbad the Sailor would look like if the producers behind "Gorgo" were in charge instead? Well in 1963, such a film occurred with the King Brothers' production of "Captain Sinbad".

The story follows Sinbad's (Guy Williams) attempts to end the tyranny of the evil and virtually immortal despot El Kareem (Pedro Armendariz), who also plans to forcefully marry Sinbad's love interest for this film, Princess Jenna (Heidi Bruhl).

Wow, Sinbad changes lovers just as badly as James Bond does...well, that's an unfair comparison actually; Sinbad sticks with one gal-pal per film, and so far has never used any of them as living shield. El Kareem fights back against our hero of course, by forcing the bumbling, but otherwise good-natured wizard Galgo (Abraham Sofaer) into assisting him with magic spells. At first, Galgo is ordered into transforming some of El Kareem's henchmen into giant Roc / Rukh birds, which attacks Sinbad's ship, the Golden Lion (stop laughing), by dropping boulders from the skies above.

Sinbad and his crew escapes these thugs-gone-avian-monsters, but are later imprisoned by El Kareem. Leading our main protagonist in having a very unfair duel with an invisible arena beast, that leaves behind giant three-clawed footprints.

Sinbad and his men survives this ordeal as well, and through Galgo and Princess Jenna, discover the secret of El Kareem's immortal power; his heart was magically separated from his body, and is safely kept within the Tower of Horrors; a far away land named such because of the monstrous threats within and without, the three-hundred foot tall structure. The film's last act takes place in this ominous landscape, filled with deadly jungle growth with vines that drag their victims to an unseen fate high above; oversized, possibly gigantic (and clearly rubber) masses of killer alligators (they have square snouts, as oppose to the longer, pointier ones of crocodiles); fatal geological elements such as whirlpools and a fiery volcanic Hell-ground; and the lone inhabitant of the latter area, a gigantic 12-headed dragon, done through full-scale puppet heads, and a full-body dragon suit.

But it is within the Tower itself that Sinbad faces off against the film's most memorable, if not just plain silly monstrous obstacle; a full-scale, 15-to-20 foot tall mailed fist / glove! This monster protects El Kareem's weakness directly in-person, and even more ludicrous, wags its index finger from side-to-side, as if to say 'that's a no-no' to Sinbad when he first approaches the living heart!

Now I usually don't mind spoiling the ending of most films and television episodes, especially since life is too short for 'spoiler-free'. And most of the stuff I talk about anyway is obscure and rarely seen to begin with. But I am happy (if not ashamed) to announce that Turner Classic Movies will be airing "Captain Sinbad" this coming Monday, April 27, so check your local listings for exact airing time.

I have not seen this film myself since I was seven years old, so no clue if it will still holds up, or be an experience in pain. But one thing is more than certain; the Giant Mailed Gloved Fist is going to be one bizarre subject for my Kaiju Portraits!

A trailer for the film can be found here at TCM.

Related links:
Giant Monster Movies
Giant Monsters: Ray Harryhausen
Giant Monster Movies: Dinosaurs
Giant Monster Movies: Robots

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Help Len Wein restore his life's work!

Early this month, award-winning comic book writer and editor Len Wein lost his home to a fire. He and his family were safe; sadly, their beloved dog perished.

Wein also lost a lifetime of awards and comics and books and games and toys and artwork. That's something, considering the scope of his comics career: The co-creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing (among others), he served as writer and/or editor for several companies, on a multitude of comics -- including X-Men, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Watchmen, Superman, Batman, Justice League of America, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, The Simpsons, Futurama, and many others.

Friends and fans are working to help him restore the collection of comic books he's worked on. Details at The “Let’s Rebuild Len Wein’s Comic Book Collection” Project.



Related links:
Alan Moore on the new "League"
Warren Ellis' IGNITION CITY
Marvel Comics' DARK REIGN
This is why I don't buy more comics
Free Comics Online

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Alan Moore on the new "League"

Comic Book Resources has a big two-part interview with writer Alan Moore regarding the upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century. There are some spoilers, but also some very interesting discussion on the craft, the challenges of creating a "unified theory" of literature, and the freedom of not doing this third one under the watchful eye of DC Comics ...

Alan Moore’s Bestiary of Fictional Worlds
Alan Moore’s Bestiary of Fictional Worlds, Part II



Related links:
ROBOT-13: Tech Vs. Myth
Warren Ellis' IGNITION CITY
Hollywood legends do sci-fi, horror comics
Santa Claus Vs. Frankenstein
ICONIC: The Life and Death of Talos the Bronze
Honoring the father of manga
KAIJU comic!
Free Comics Online

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Starlog on hiatus

After 33 years, the folks at Starlog Magazine are taking a step back to rethink their publishing model: "We feel its time for a major revamp and will be temporarily discontinuing publication while the model and redesign of the magazine are contemplated and executed." Reactions and memories of Starlog at Lee Goldberg's A Writer's Life and John Zipperer's Weimar World Service Blog.

Giant monsters in San Francisco

Author August Ragone (EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS) is hosting a giant monster film festival this August 21-23 in San Francisco, "Godzilla And The Monsters of Mass Destruction." The guest of honor is none other than Haruo Nakajima, the man who was inside the Godzilla suit from 1954 to 1972 (and also played Rodan, Baragon, and many others).

Over three days, they'll screen ten classic Toho monster movies in 35mm in five double-features, and Mr. Nakajima will appear live onstage to talk about his experiences making those films. Details found at August's blog, The Good, the Bad, and Godzilla:

THE MONSTERS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!
Kaiju Film Festival Stomps into San Francisco!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Giant Monster Movies: Godzilla

The King of Monsters, the Japanese atomic firebreather Gojira (Godzilla) first appeared in director Ishiro Honda's 1954 film Gojira. The creature's name was derived from combining the Japanese words "gorilla" and "whale". When the film was recut by the distributor for American audiences, his name was changed to "Godzilla" (reportedly a result of a translation error). In the more than 50 years since his debut, Godzilla has appeared in 28 Toho Studios films, plus numerous cartoons, comics, video games, and books.

Here's his filmography, pulled from our master list of
Giant Monster Movies:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MySpace vs. Blogger

I just discovered that MySpace indiscriminately blocks EVERY SINGLE LINK to blogspot, taking you to a page that calls it "spam" and "very much like head lice." (The legal term for this is defamation.) Until they decide to fix this problem, MySpace is useless to me.

Watch JOHNNY SOKKO free online

GIANT MONSTERS ON THE LOOSE!

This blog is for fans of classic giant monsters and monster-fighters from the movies, TV, and comics -- including King Kong, Godzilla, Gamera, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, Dogora, Johnny Sokko and Giant Robot, Ultraman, Fin Fang Foom, Titano, The Host, and more. We also salute the classic genre and special effects films of Toho Studios Universal Studios, Hammer Films, not to mention the Frankenstein Monster, Count Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, giant robots, sci-fi, manga, and anime.