Saturday, May 17, 2014

Godzilla and Other Monsters

Modern giant monster movies are difficult to make because they have to be both believable and show a spectacle. They are expensive to produce and therefore require blockbuster status at the theaters. It isn't like the golden age where special effects were not expected to look real to enjoy. Some masters of the art didn't need more than clay, lots of time, and patience.

Even when the golden age of monsters in the 50s and 60s was long over, television for a short time gave new life to old celluloid. Late at night or noon after cartoons the giant terrors once again lived. The best of them included insects like a giant tarantula, a flying mantis, and them ants. Forget that no exoskeletal creatures could physically exist. There they were in the theater or on television larger than life and haunting a young kid's imagination. Two of the biggest stars were King Kong and Godzilla. Only once were they together, and that was a disastrous Japanese B movie with more laughs than wonder; no matter what age the viewer.

In later years the giant monsters fell out of favor to be replaced by dinosaurs. The same problems of production values and unbelievability hung on them, but without the supportive audience. It was fine that giant monsters or even insects didn't look real on the screen because they never did exist. Dinosaurs, on the other hand, had proof of their reality. It didn't matter how extinct, they were not lizards with plastered on prosthetics or actors in suites. A few movies with them were made and then died out just as quick.

Late 70s and mid 80s tried to bring back the Great King Kong with limited success. The stories were updated, but movie magic remained questionable. Actors in monster suites had become a joke and stop motion picture animatronics didn't change much either. It seemed that the giant monsters had finally died off in Hollywood.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Where Story Ideas Come From

Probably every writers gets the question from someone. A reader likes a book or novel and asks, where did the idea(s) originate? For those who don't write, it all seems like such a mystery. The synapsis in their brains don't often connect several unrelated things together to create a coherent whole. To be honest, that can be said about some works of art. There are times when a concept doesn't work out and it is abandoned. When it does come together, the results can be satisfying to the writer even if not read by legions of fans.

I watched a fictionalized biography of J.K. Rowlings on the Internet and started to think about how they portrayed her inspiration for the book. Not that the person who came up with the script is a bad writer, but the solutions seemed false. Having read a few successful writers on the topic of generating ideas, what the movie represented about the creative process didn't come off as believable. There were too many simple coincidences of inspiration. It just doesn't happen that an object or person seen for the first time suddenly becomes a large part of the story. Often those kinds of uses are the hallmark of desperation and not creativity. There is history behind the ideas.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, etc.

During the time when Leonard Nimoy's series telecast, Arthur C. Clarke started another show that investigated the unknown and paranormal. The first of three seasons was called Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, debuting in 1980 and hosted by the famous author. A sizable portion of the narration was done by Gordon Honeycombe, with Yorkshire Television and ITV network producing. The Mysterious World 13 episodes ran through the year from September to November, covering a wide range of strange topics.

"Mysteries from the files of Arthur C. Clarke, scientist writer and visionary. The scientist who invented the communications satellite and the writer of 2010, and now in retreat in Sri Lanka; the visionary who ponders riddles of this and other worlds." Each week a similar introduction was attached to a title sequence that included the mysterious iconic glass skull. The author then pontificated about what the episode will discuss, and again ended with him pondering solutions to the mysteries presented.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Best of Paranormal TV: In Search Of . . .

One of the longest running paranormal  based series, In Search Of . . . explores both the unexplained and the mysterious. Unlike the previous television show from the previous post, this one researches history, science, and much more. It started out as hour long specials narrated by Rod Sterling. When it switched to a series format, Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame took over after Sterling's death. The show was cut back to a half hour time slot. Despite the shortening of the time, it lasted six long seasons from 1976 to 1982. There was a very short revival in 2002 with Mitch Pileggi of The X-Files fame that covered some of the same territory. All later paranormal investigation shows owe a debt to the original In Search Of . . . because a lot of the same format continued in other investigative broadcasts.

The beginning credits were the same on each episode, warning, "This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer's purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine." In this way the presentation wouldn't be seen as absolute and scientific fact. Viewers could make up their own minds how truthful and accurate each mystery might be to reality.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Best of Paranormal TV: One Step Beyond

I will be doing a short  history on  a sort of reality television, if you can call it that, featuring the best paranormal shows. Narratives are included, but not exclusively fiction. They claim based on true accounts and exploring the unknown or strange.

Unless pointed out differently, the first major television show that explored the paranormal was "One Step Beyond," featuring a half hour docudrama. Each of them had an introduction by John Newland who told the back story similar to "The Twilight Zone" fictional series. A few eventually famous actors such as Elizabeth Montgomery, Charles Bronson, Robert Blake, Christopher Lee, and Warren Beatty appeared as people involved in the mysterious events.

Most of the topics are based off psychic events or ghost stories. The first episode, "The Bride Possessed," is about what the title hints at. The newlywed bride begins to recognize features of a place she has never been and then has a personality change, denying ever knowing the man she married. Another well known episode is the rather cool name of "The Dead Part of the House," where a young woman becomes friends with ghosts, possibly in connection with some dolls. These represent the bulk of the story lines, where someone isn't who they appear to be or have premonition of things they never before had contact with. There isn't really any investigations. The show mostly tells stories in a dramatic recreation.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

More Things in Heaven and Earth

Before taking a trip down roads of the unexplained, I wanted to write about my beliefs when talking about the paranormal. Sure, religion can be put in this category, but I don't see them in the same light. One is more private and of a serious contemplation. The other that this blog deals with is fun flights of imagining the possible. If true they wouldn't completely change my world view, although make this world far more interesting.

It began at a very young age, although how early is hard to say. Science fiction from Star Trek to Star Wars is part of my family heritage. How that can tie into the more fantastical shouldn't be hard to connect the dots. Assuming that aliens, time warps, and parallel universes can exist, then certainly visitors from space, Bigfoot, and secret government conspiracies aren't out of the question. It is in the questions that the mundane takes on the mystical. Religion may answer the spiritual why, but why not holds its own fascination. As Hamlet said, "And therefore as a stranger give it welcome./ There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Come with me to the very edge of reality.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Few of My Friends

There are a few friends and family that I would like to introduce who are themselves creative people. One of them started a web site to bring us all together. Please visit The Creativs and see what each has to offer, or what they are doing. The Creativs are a group of young, talented individuals who care to share their talents with others. Among the group we have:

Kayce  who makes custom, hand stamped jewelry, some of which benefit charity.

Your truely N.D. Melander who likes to write and is currently working on some short stories. More about that later.

Holden Melander wanting to write and some day publish a top selling fantasy novel.

Nolan Melander, a person you'll just have to click on his link in the web site for more informaiton.

Theresa has been writing since the fourth grade. She published the horror novel Moon Lit Night that can be ordered on the web site link.

If you haven't done so yet, buy Icarus Falling for your reading pleasure. After that check out the other fine artists and authors.