Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

A “Mandrake the Magician” movie appearing?

Well, accord­ing to the Hol­ly­wood Reporter, Warn­er Broth­ers had obtained the rights to the near­ly 80-year-old char­ac­ter of Man­drake the Magi­cian and is team­ing up with a pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny named Atlas Pro­duc­tions to pro­duce it. Of course, this does have to be tak­en with a cer­tain lev­el of skep­ti­cism: just the act of obtain­ing the rights and announc­ing that a movie is in the works has hap­pened so many times in the past, to just about every pos­si­ble prop­er­ty avail­able. Its all part of the high-stakes mon­ey game that is Hol­ly­wood. In fact, even the Man­drake prop­er­ty has been through the poten­tial pro­duc­tion cycle a few times itself.

The arti­cle goes on to name some names that I don’t rec­og­nize but must be known to the Hol­ly­wood insid­er tar­get audi­ence. Accord­ing to the arti­cle, the pro­duc­ers want to give Man­drake a “21st Cen­tu­ry makeover” as what hap­pened to the most recent Sher­lock Holmes movies, but I would more pre­fer an actu­al updat­ing of the prop­er­ty to not only bring it actu­al­ly into the present day but also get rid of the ear­ly racial stereo­typ­ing embed­ded in the stories.

I for one would be very inter­est­ed in see­ing what might come of this, if it actu­al­ly makes it to the big screen. That being said, I would hope it would be done by peo­ple who respect the orig­i­nal source and the con­cepts with­in it.

Samuel Youd — RIP

The name Samuel Youd is not that most any­one would imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nize. Even I did­n’t at first.

How­ev­er, his pseu­do­nym of John Christo­pher would be imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­nized by SF fans any­where. That was the name used for the author of a large num­ber of SF nov­els, includ­ing the YA tril­o­gy known under the col­lec­tive name as the “Tripods”. The Tripods tril­o­gy (“The White Moun­tains”, “The City of Gold and Lead”, and “The Pool of Fire”) was about an Earth that was con­quered by aliens who moved about the world in almost “War of the Worlds” tripods. To con­trol the pop­u­lace, every­one was “capped” at the age of 14 with a met­al device that main­tained the aliens’ con­trol over human­i­ty. But not all human­i­ty: an under­ground move­ment, employ­ing agents wear­ing fake “caps” recruit­ed young men to act as under­cov­er agents, even­tu­al­ly able to infil­trate the alien base and pro­vide the infor­ma­tion to restore humanity.

There was also a pre­quel nov­el, “When the Tripods Came”, pub­lished in 1988, almost 20 years after the first pub­li­ca­tion of the first book of the tril­o­gy. This nov­el final­ly dis­closed how the alien “Mas­ters” first con­quered the world: through a hyp­not­ic tele­vi­sion pro­gram called “The Trip­py Show” that reduced resis­tance to the alien conquest.

Samuel Youd’s career was not lim­it­ed to just these sto­ries: he was a pro­lif­ic writer who used sev­er­al pseu­do­nyms as well as his own name. Oth­er than the “Tripods” series, he is best remem­bered for his post-apoc­a­lyp­tic nov­el The Death of Grass, the sec­ond work pub­lished under his John Christo­pher pseu­do­nym, in 1956.


  • The tril­o­gy was adapt­ed as a com­ic strip in the ven­er­a­ble “Boy’s Life” mag­a­zine, from May, 1981, through August, 1986.
  • The first two books of the tril­o­gy would even­tu­al­ly be trans­lat­ed to tele­vi­sion by the BBC, but the third book nev­er got past the script stage.


Judge Anderson Makes an Appearance

The lat­est scenes post­ed online from the film­ing of the new Judge Dredd movie “Dredd” include a shot of Psi-Judge Ander­son (Olivia Thirl­by), along­side the title char­ac­ter, notably as she appeared in the 2000 AD comics with­out the stan­dard judge’s hel­met and what appears to be a Psi-Judge badge. (Its most­ly cov­ered by her arm but its sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent than Judge Dred­d’s badge.)

Psi-Judges were a spe­cial sec­tion of the the Judges in the Judge Dredd com­ic pub­lished in the 2000 AD comics mag­a­zine, indi­vid­u­als with psy­chic tal­ents such as telepa­thy, empa­thy, pre­cog­ni­tion, etc. Psi-Judge Cas­san­dra Ander­son was a pow­er­ful telepath and also pos­sessed a facil­i­ty for pre­cog­ni­tion. She was con­sid­ered one of the strongest telepaths in the sec­tion and was one of the few oth­er judges, includ­ing Psi-Judges, that Judge Dredd him­self trusted.

Although its unknown what use the char­ac­ter’s psy­chic pow­ers will be in the sto­ry­line, it is still a good sign that she appears in the new movie. At least is should be bet­ter than the last attempt.

A Holiday Treat — The (Physical) Hypnosis in Media Collection

As a spe­cial Hol­i­day present, I present the (phys­i­cal) Hyp­no­sis in Media col­lec­tion in its semi-entirety.

The book­shelf unit here holds the main part of the Col­lec­tion. As you can see, it is divid­ed in half, with the left half hold­ing fig­ures and art­work behind the glass doors, larg­er books and fold­ers below, and the doors below hold­ing the media ele­ments that don’t fit any­where else. The right half holds most of the fic­tion and non­fic­tion books. As you can see, the book­case is by no means large enough to hold every­thing, as there are parts of the col­lec­tion on the floor before it.

This is the upper part of the left half, which has the fig­ures and art­work. On the upper shelf you can see the two fig­ures from the Silent Screams fig­ure line, from the movie “The Cab­i­net of Doc­tor Cali­gari” on the top, along with the Princess Ariel fig­ure, and small­er toys with hyp­not­ic themes in the mid­dle. At the back of the low­er shelf as a ani­ma­tion cel of Hyp­no­tia from the “Iron Man” ani­mat­ed series, sev­er­al dozen Hero­Clix fig­ures in the low­er left and my lat­est acqui­si­tion, the Ring­mas­ter mini-bust, in the cen­ter. The box­es on the right con­tain a num­ber of stereo­typ­i­cal hyp­not­ic foci, includ­ing sev­er­al crys­tals and even a cou­ple of hyp­no-disks. The Hero­Clix fig­ures are a large but not com­plete of all of the char­ac­ters with hyp­not­ic or mind con­trol abil­i­ties, includ­ing Pro­fes­sor X, Sat­urn Girl, Super-Goril­la Grodd, the Pup­pet Mas­ter, the Mad Hat­ter, etc.

The fold­ers and note­books on the shelves below the  glass doors con­sists of the results of research projects car­ried out in the past, includ­ing the mate­r­i­al behind the search for ‘Secrets of the Sleep Mer­chants’ detailed else­where, a set of pub­lic­i­ty pho­tographs of Pat Collins and details of her life, com­ic strip and book col­lec­tions and ref­er­ence mate­ri­als, small­er mag­a­zines and pam­phlets that might get dam­aged if put else­where, the two records released by Pat Collins, as well as any­thing that does­n’t fit in any­where else.

The fic­tion part com­pris­es rough­ly 200 pieces, includ­ing sev­er­al col­lec­tions, dou­ble-stacked on the first two shelves and in front of the non-fic­tion stacks on the third shelf.  The non-fic­tion sec­tion also con­tains rough­ly about 200 books, not includ­ing the var­i­ous pam­phlets and book­lets that are in anoth­er book­shelf. These books are strict­ly hyp­no­sis relat­ed: there is a sep­a­rate sec­tion for media ref­er­ences, such as indices and ref­er­ence books on var­i­ous TV series, movies, etc.

This is by no means the com­plete col­lec­tion: there is a stor­age case with sev­er­al dozen video tapes else­where that I am slow­ing dig­i­tiz­ing and con­vert­ing to DVD for­mat, along with the comics col­lec­tion stored in the garage, as well as the reg­u­lar fic­tion col­lec­tion that takes up most of anoth­er bed­room / library. All in all, I esti­mate I have some­where in the range of 500 — 600 books, over 250 comics and dozens of mag­a­zines and papers in the col­lec­tion prop­er and maybe anoth­er cou­ple hun­dred books and I can’t even guess how many comics elsewhere.

“This Island Earth” (1955)


Atom­ic sci­en­tist Doc­tor Carl Meacham (Rex Rea­son) is select­ed to join a very secret sci­en­tif­ic research orga­ni­za­tion, based on his abil­i­ty to assem­ble a device beyond any human sci­ence. What he dis­cov­ers is more than just baf­fling, and the peo­ple run­ning the orga­ni­za­tion are strange, includ­ing the leader, Exeter (Jeff Mor­row). Even more strange, the oth­er sci­en­tists are act­ing odd­ly, with a few excep­tions like Doc­tor Ruth Adams (Faith Domer­gue), Doc­tor Carl­son and Doc­tor Engel­borg, but even those excep­tions are act­ing conspiratorially.

But things don’t stay that way: as Doc­tors Meacham and Adams flee in a small air­plane, a space­ship ris­es from beneath the manor where the research was locat­ed, destroy­ing all evi­dence of the aliens’ exis­tence on Earth, includ­ing the oth­er sci­en­tists who fled before the manor was destroyed. As for Meacham and Adams, they are brought on board the space­ship where they are told the truth: Exeter and his com­pan­ions are from the plan­et Met­alu­na, here on Earth seek­ing sci­en­tif­ic answers to aid in the defense of their planet.

Brought to Met­alu­na, it is obvi­ous that the plan­et is close to destruc­tion, and there is noth­ing the two sci­en­tists can do to help. Even the leader of Met­alu­na seems to under­stand that, and intends to move the pop­u­la­tion of the plan­et to Earth. Dis­as­ter strikes before that can hap­pen, and Exeter man­ages to return the two sci­en­tists back to Earth before per­ish­ing himself.

And where is the mind con­trol? While not a major plot point, it was used by the Met­alu­nans to make the sci­en­tists more coop­er­a­tive, with a cor­re­spond­ing loss of some of their intel­li­gence. It was that loss that caused Exeter to resist using that tech­nique on sev­er­al of the sci­en­tists, includ­ing the Mecham and Adams, which is prob­a­bly why they escaped the orig­i­nal destruc­tion of the manor.

Com­men­tary: While this movie com­bines ele­ments of a mys­tery and a trav­el­ogue, with a lit­tle bit of hor­ror thrown in, there is one thing it is lack­ing: a real sto­ry with any kind of defined char­ac­ter devel­op­ment or much sense of real con­flict. I guess that’s why the whole ‘Met­alu­nan mutant’ mon­ster ele­ment was thrown in, but its too lit­tle, too late.

How­ev­er, it is still visu­al­ly very intrigu­ing, espe­cial­ly for the time it was made. The use of comets as mis­siles against the plan­et of Met­alu­na as a mil­i­tary tac­tic is one that is both phys­i­cal­ly sound and remark­ably pre­scient: Robert Hein­lein wrote about some­thing sim­i­lar is “The Moon is a Harsh Mis­tress”. Its enough that aster­oids can strike the plan­et by acci­dent, but quite anoth­er if they’re guid­ed missiles.

Triv­ia: If Doc­tor Carl­son’s appear­ance seems famil­iar, despite the few times seen on screen, it is that the actor, Rus­sell John­son, is more famous as the Pro­fes­sor on “Gilli­gan’s Island”.

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