Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Movie Musing: Joel vs. Mike

It would take a mad scientist to invent
the meme.
The Japanese have a term they use, otaku, which means obsessive fanatic. You mostly see it applied to fans of anime and manga, but it can pretty much apply to any group in fandom. When I use the term otaku it usually applies to the most extreme ends of fandom. You know the type, the groups that come to blows over Kirk vs. Picard, Tenchi vs Ranma, Marvel vs. DC, Williams vs Zimmer, Connery vs EVERYONE ELSE and Joel vs Mike.

Yes even the hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 is not immune to the ranting and raving of otaku. Fans love to debate their favorite episodes, favorite seasons, favorite host segments, even favorite opening credits (because there have been six of them, or seven if you count Mystery Science Theater 3000: the Movie). But the most heated debate used to be Joel vs. Mike.

It was especially bad back when the show was still airing. The internet was still in its childhood stages in the mid and late 90s, but I remember flame wars between the two passionate groups. It got nasty. Fans hurling abuse at each other and at the two hosts. I always found the whole thing kind of silly, but I can't say it wasn't entertaining.

So how can there even be a debate? I mean what did these guys do other than deliver lines and interact with puppets. Did they do it so differently that you can compare them?

Tom Servo is expanding his conciousness.
Well you actually do have a bit of a shift in approach to handling the writing and riffing on the show. Joel always approached the movie as part of a larger entertainment and comedy machine. It would provide them with the material to make fun of, yes. But it would also provide them with entertainment. Joel always seemed to have a bit of respect for the films and the way they fit into the series.

When Joel left MST3K a couple things happened. First was the simple fact that the main creative force behind the show was leaving. Second were all the rumors as to why Joel left. At that time no one really knew for sure what happened, but there were plenty of theories. A lot of people picked the first visible target - Mike must have pushed Joel away from the series.

Their evidence was that the tone of show shifted when Mike took over hosting duties. While Mike was the host the movie was more of a target instead of a part of the show. Mike and bots had more riffs revolving around how much the movie hurt and in later seasons of the show (after it moved to the Sci-fi channel) the aggressive tone intensified, with out and out attacking everything in sight. Many Joel fans say Mikes aggressive style was the direction the rest of the crew wanted to go and that is why he left.

Mike and the bots ready for a night on the town...
errr satalite.
But around 2010 we found out that Joel left the show because of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie and how that was being handled. Making that movie was a rough experience for all involved and Joel sounded happy that he got away from the show when he did.

That said, Mike had been a head writer for the series for years. In fact, if you watch enough of the show and know a bit about Mike's joke style you can hear very Mike jokes being given by Joel. This series was very much a collaborative process when it came to the writing. Yes a tone shift occurred, but it was one that actually helped gain new fans. I know plenty of folks who first saw the show on Sci-fi with Mike as the host.

These days the Joel vs Mike debates aren't really a thing any more. Most fans accept that people have their preferences and let it go at that. Where do I stand on the whole thing? Well it kind of depends on my mood. Sometimes I like Joel's more amiable take on the movies. And his approach really works great for a lot of different types of movies. The riff for something like I Accuse My Parents or Fugitive Alien wouldn't be the same without Joel at the helm. At the same time Mike's brisk riffing style is perfect for Starfighters and Hamlet. My favorite seasons actually fall at the end of the Comedy Central era. To me both Joel and Mike were at their best and had some of the best films selected.

With a new version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the works we will getting a new host in Jonah Ray. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of new style he and the new team bring to this concept.

Doesn't matter to me, all four of these guys are masters of the riffing

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Anime Juke Box - Field of Love - Brain Power'd

It has been a little while since I've posted a piece of music from the excellent Japanese composer Yoko Kanno (she is on my list of favorite film composers). Kanno not only wrote some excellent scores, but always comes up with memorable theme songs for the series she works on. Kanno can write music for nearly any genre, and it is a testament to her talent that these theme songs work so well in the shows and even get incorporated into the fabric of the scores.

Kanno has worked on a lot of very famous projects including Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, but I wanted to highlight her work from a lesser known series. After the massive popularity of Neon Genesis Evangelion many anime studios rushed to create their own angsty-teen-controlling-giant-robot series. One of these was Brain Power'd, a show with some interesting concepts, but a really messy script that never seemed to gel. That didn't stop Kanno from creating one hell of a score (one of my favorites). Here is the end credits song called Field of Love and performed by KOKIA. It is a dreamy piece, a nice contrast to some of the more hyper end credits songs you usually hear in anime.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blow Out (1981)


I’ve been trying to catch up on the filmography of Brian De Palma. The guy knows how to craft a great thriller, and his visual style is always enjoyable. One movie I always hear about is this flick from 1981 featuring John Travolta. As I’m looking over the cast list I wonder if he pitched this right after he did Carrie. But no he did a few movies in between. The concept sounded intriguing so I was looking forward to this one.


Jack (John Travolta) is a sound designer for low budget horror flicks. One night he is out capturing some sounds for his latest project when he witnesses a car accident. He rushes over to help and saves a young woman, Sally (Nancy Allen) from drowning in the submerged car. But a powerful senator dies.  Jack is questioned and some mysterious folks ask him to forget the whole incident and Sally.

But Jack feels that something is wrong. He goes over his recording and starts to piece together the sounds. It becomes more and more apparent that what appeared to be a simple tire Blow Out may have been caused by a gunshot. As he delves deeper into the investigation a mysterious man, Burke (John Lithgow) begins his own operation, and he’s starting to see Jack and Sally as real problems. Is Jack just paranoid or is there a conspiracy going on that may end up with him as the victim of the next accident?

Good Points:
  • An interesting set up for a solid thrill maker
  • Travolta and Allen have great chemistry
  • Some excellently crafted scenes and build-ups

Bad Points:
  • Travolta gets a little too Saturday Night Fever at times
  • Once you see Lithgow in the film, you pretty much know how his character will play out
  • The ending is a throwback to 1970s thrillers and doesn’t quite feel right


This is a movie that is well crafted and maybe if I was in a different mood I would have enjoyed it a bit more. I really like the idea of a sound man capturing this key moment in an accident and realizing it might be murder. But I think the similar concept in The Conversation handled the whole thing a bit better. Travolta’s performance is a bit uneven at times, but his chemistry with Allen is what makes it all work. I’m not a huge fan of the ending, but the ride to get to it was fun enough. Worth checking out if you are in the mood for a 70s style thriller with a dash of DePalma’s style.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 4
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 3
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

And then this happened... Radar Men From the Moon

We all love Commando Cody, right? Well, some people do anyway. Joel and bots kept referring to him as Pumpkin Boy. But what kind of caption can you come up with for this moment from Radar Men From the Moon?

And then this happened...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Robot Monster (1953) – MST3K Review

Like many episodes from Season One, this one starts off with some Commando Cody and the Radar Men from the Moon. But instead of one episode, we get two! I know! Hold your excitement. In the first episode Cody (George Wallace) escapes from tumbling off a bridge and then finds himself once again pursuing the alien spies on earth. Meanwhile the lunar baddies send their thugs to pick up some more cash to finance their operations, but things go badly. Eventually they decide to kidnap Joan (Aline Towne) and try to whisk her away using a plane. But Cody is on the case and attempts a rescue. In the second episode he manages the rescue and continues to harass the gangsters. The moon men are getting fed up and declare this is the last chance for the loser gangsters. They attempt a heist and it ends with a car hurtling right at Cody! Will he escape this peril?

Robot Monster starts with little Johnny (Gregory Moffett) pretending to be a space man and tormenting his little sister Carla (Pamela Pauslon). He ends up somehow triggering an earthquake or something. Then dinosaurs from Lost Continent appear on screen and thrash around for a bit. Eventually we meet Ro-Man (George Barrows) a hulking hairy creature wearing a helmet and using bubbles to defend his cave/lair. Ro-man has destroyed most of the population of earth and is looking for the last survivors. These include Billy and Carla of course, but also the brilliant Professor (Jon Mylong), Mother (Selena Royle) big sister Alice (Claudia Barrett) and the rugged Roy (George Nader). The Professor has built a cunning shield to protect them from Ro-man.

But little Johnny can’t help but be curious about Ro-man and eventually gives away a vital secret! Ro-man goes on the rampage attempting to kill the rest of the family, but when he sees Alice, suddenly everything changes. Has beauty melted the heart of the beast? If so, is there a hope that these last people can tame the Robot Monster?

Movie Review:
She loves a man who looks like a hood ornament.
So here we are, deep into Season One of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and we have more Radar Men from the Moon to enjoy… or suffer through. You get two episodes this time and I have to say by pushing the action back to earth in these two segments you get less entertaining viewing. These two episodes consist of the evil gangster characters screwing up time and again. It is pretty funny that the evil moon men’s plot is foiled by lack of funds, and yet it is kind of realistic too. It has to be pretty expensive to fund an invasion of the earth right?

That said, most of the thrills here remind me a lot of the old Adventures of Superman television series, but with a rocket pack flying hero instead of the son of Krypton. The cliffhanger for the first episode, Flight to Destruction is the better of the two. Joan is trapped in a plane that is hurtling toward the earth. The evil gangster had pulled off the steering wheel (no I’m not even kidding) and threw it out the window. Then he jumped out wearing a parachute. Cody catches up to the hurtling plane, climbs inside the cockpit and attempts to do something. Joan just sits there watching when SMASH! The plane crashes and everyone dies and see you next time folks.

I can't decide who is less intimidating, the alien or
the gangster.
The whole time I’m wondering why Cody didn’t just pick up Joan and jump from the plane. Even if his rocket pack couldn’t quite compensate for her weight, they were probably close enough to the ground to survive a rough landing by rocket pack. Instead, when the next episode starts, Joan lifts up another parachute and jumps out of the plane. Um… really? Come on guys!

The second episode Murder Car, is pretty dull despite of its awesome title. It spends most of the time with lots of gangsters just doing gangster things and Commando Cody thwarting them. It all ends up with a car hurtling down a narrow road right at Cody and crashing right into his car and massive carnage. I’m sure he jumps out of the kaka-doody car at the last moment.

Most of the visuals are typical of these serials. The dialogue is still pretty ripe and goofy, which helps quite a bit. I especially like when the moon men berate the gangsters for being so useless. Kind of reminds me of cartoon villains hiring the dumbest henchmen they could find. Or when Calgon in Space Mutiny laments “I’m being undermined by my own disciples!”. Radar Men from the Moon feels like it is running out of steam at this point. The plot of these two episode is nearly identical and even the frequent fisticuffs are starting to wear thin.

Even the title card is in 3D!
Luckily Robot Monster comes right at us (in 3D no less) and wow is this movie something else. First off you have the alien being Ro-man. If you are a fan of classic horror monsters then odds are you’ve seen pictures of Ro-man before. And your first impression was probably the same as mine – he looks like a gorilla in a deep-sea diving helmet. Low budget monster gold, my friends, we have struck gold!

The monster costume for Ro-man pretty much spells out what we are going to get out of Robot Monster in general. It is low budget. It doesn’t make much sense. But it is so off the wall that it can’t help but being entertaining. Yes, Ro-man himself has a lot to do with that. Just watching poor Mr. Barrows wander around in that suit and wave his hands around his amusing. But when he gets the billion-bubble machine cranked up you know you are in for a treat.

Most of the film is filmed in and around Bronson Canyon, a Mecca for filmmakers on a budget. This location would turn up again and again in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. So I guess that makes Robot Monster a bit of a first. Roger Corman would come here for Teenage Caveman and Night of the Blood Beast. Decades later the cave would be the infamous cavern that houses The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera, a fun parody film heavily inspired by Robot Monster.

The camerawork is actually pretty good considering the fact that the crew was filming this with a new 3D process. When the movie was released it was actually praised for its use of 3D. It is no House of Wax but I can see how some of these shots of Ro-man and the billions of bubbles could be impressive or at least entertaining in 3D. So I would say it is competently filmed, especially compared to something like The Beast of Yucca Flats.

The Billion Bubble machine hard at work.
Where the budget does end up failing a bit is when the movie attempts to go anywhere outside of the canyon. Visual effects for the space platform are pretty funny. You can see the hand actually holding up the orbiter, no matter how much smoke they added to the shot. You also get a lot of stock footage in these scenes with rockets taking off (or landing when the film is reversed), as well as the cute stop motion dinosaurs from Lost Continent and the reptile battle form One Million B.C. (the 1940 version). None of this footage is blended well, so it just makes the whole thing look even sillier.

Luckily the acting isn’t too bad. The dialogue is a bit theatrical at times (and for good reason). But the actors tackle it gamely enough. Even the child actors aren’t terribly annoying. I’ve seen much worse on shoestring budgets.

When it comes to the sound effects, they work well enough. Most of Ro-man’s attacks and weapons sound like static or thunder. Stock sound effects are the name of the game here, but it all works.

What is really bizarre is the simple fact that the musical score was composed by Elmer Bernstein. Yes, the same man who gave us wonderful scores to The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments and a couple of may 80s favorites Ghostbusters and Heavy Metal. How did this film score giant end up working on this goofy movie? Turns out Bernstein was under suspicion by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and was having trouble finding work. So he ended up working on low budget flicks like Robot Monster. It is good to know that Bernstein was able to bounce back with some late career classics, even working for Disney on The Black Cauldron.

I think Caesar Romero is hiding over to the left somewhere.
When it comes to direction and script, well that is where Robot Monster delivers (or doesn’t depending on how you look at it). Now this movie contains a huge TWIST at the end, and I’m going to SPOIL it because in order to discuss the plot, I’ll need to mention it. If you’ve never seen the film, don’t worry, the twist isn’t something like The Sixth Sense or Psycho.

The movie starts with little Johnny running around in modern times, tormenting his sister with his space gun and costume. Then the earthquake happens, and suddenly we get the post-apocalyptic horror featuring Ro-man and what is the bulk of the film. Then the final portion of the movie is when Ro-man’s failure at his job causes his boss to fry him remotely, and then Johnny wakes up. Yes, it is all some kind of dream.

I have to say this is kind of clever. It explains the stock footage, stock sound effects, and goofiness of the monster. All of this comes out a child’s brain while he is dreaming (after getting conked on the head after the earthquake, I think). The opening titles even appear over a bunch of comic books, hinting at another source for the madcap shenanigans we end up watching. Johnny’s subconscious fused all those elements into one 3D fantasia. This also excuses the strange plot points like Alice marrying Roy in a ceremony given by the Professor, the fact that little Carla is killed (how many times have older siblings wished their younger siblings into the corn field), and the billion bubble machine.

The post Ro-man invasion family.
So as wack-a-doodle as the movie turns out to be, that little end moment explains it all away. But that doesn’t make the movie good, just kind of clever with hiding the budget issues using a plot point. The movie has some issues with pacing. There are lots of scenes of Ro-man just wandering around Bronson Canyon as he searches for the “family”. Now this movie is pretty short, but those scenes go on way too long and really hurt any momentum. You end up wondering just how miserably hot George Barrows is in the fur covered Ro-man getup.

Robot Monster ends up being an entertaining if completely mental romp. I kinda wish I could see it in 3D as I think that would make the whole experience a bit more campy fun. Plus you get great lines like “To be like the Hu-man.” This is the perfect type of movie for Joel and the bots. But will the power of the Billion Bubble machine crush them?

Episode Review:

He rants and he raves, but it is so hard to take this
monster seriously.
In my mind this episode is the turning point for Season One. From this point on the riffing improves, the pacing improves and the way Best Brains approach the show feels more consistent. Joel and the bots feel less passive, just watching the movie and lobbing the occasional joke. Now they feel like they are participating in the experience, really building the humor in and around the film. It was something they did fairly well with the Radar Men From the Moon short they had worked on. But movies like Mad Monster and The Corpse Vanishes defeated them.

Robot Monster has so much going on in it, that they can’t help but use the wacky visuals and hilarious dialogue as a jumping off point for the riffs. For the first time the movie riffing actually surpasses the riffing of the shorts that precede it. To me this is the first classic episode of the series, and one that most fans will appreciate.

All that said, the pacing for the riffs is still on the slower side. Season One episodes just don’t have that wicked speed we’d get in Season Four and beyond. But there is plenty to enjoy here.

"This bra is just about finished."
The two Cody shorts provide some really good laughs, even if Joel and the bots feels a little sick of the whole thing by the end of the second episode. When the episode opens and Joel sees the cheat the director employed for the cliffhanger he declares, “That didn’t happen last time.” Crow replies with “They didn’t get the film back from the drug store.” Later on one of the moon men is talking via radio to the moon into what looks like a pinecone. Tom says, “One day it will grow and he will be talking into a tree.”

When the second episode starts up the bots start to lose it and try to escape the theater (something that happens again with Hobgoblins almost nine years later). Crow says it would be more fun to “cut an apple in half and watch it brown!” But when they get into the riffing Tom has a good one. Cody gets shot out of the sky and our robot friend says, “When you shoot down Cody do you call a park ranger, or an air traffic controller?”

Susy Derkins meets Space Man Spiff.
When Robot Monster starts with the picnic at Bronson Canyon Crow observes “Great a picnic at the slag heap. Thanks mom!” Afterward Johnny bumps his head and the dinosaur flashback/forward occurs. Joel declares that “it looks like outtakes from Mutual of Omaha’s 20 Billion BC.”

Ro-man’s cave provides plenty of laughs, especially his billion-bubble machine. When he goes up to his telecommunicator Joel gets excited, “Hey, they’ve got Asteroids!” Tom adds, “They must be advanced if they have Atari!” Ro-man then starts berating the surviving humans and says “Due to an error in calculations some of you still live.” Joel adds, “We apologize for any inconvenience we have caused you.”

By the time the twist ending is unleashed the bots are thoroughly confused. Crow finally asks, “I don’t get it Joel. Is it cool to make no sense?” Of course it is. But Crow will learn that in another season or two when he watches and Ed Wood movie.

Joel works the Cumber-bubble-bund.
Not all the host segments work for me in this episode. During the intro segment Joel provides a summary of the shows premise. This was something that happened quite a lot in this season. I’m not sure if Best Brains were concerned people would be confused, or if this was something Comedy Central insisted on. For the invention exchange, the mad scientists come up with a self-inflating whoopee cushion. Joel creates the cumber-bubble-bund, which turns any formal occasion into a bubble bonanza! At the first break Joel and bots discuss how movie physics and real physics aren’t the same. Commando Cody shouldn’t be able to fly… but neither should a bumblebee. This causes the robots’ heads to explode. At the second break Crow and Tom are Ro-men and Joel is the Hu-man. There is mutiny in the air… is it Space Mutiny? During the third break the bots are in agony over all the confusing elements of the movie, but Joel is digging it. He explains surrealism to them, and it helps them cope. When the movie ends Joel and the bots perform a pageant entitled, “The Life and Times of Ro-man, the Robot Monster.”

This is one of the best episodes of the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and makes for an easy recommendation. You get two Commando Cody shorts and a bizarrely hilarious movie. Compared to many other episodes this season it gets top marks. Keep in mind, I’d deduct one star from the review if you compare it to any later season episode due to the slow pacing.

I give it 5 (billion) bubbles out of 5 (billion).

This episode is available on the Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XIX.

Twas beauty that giggled at the beast.
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Friday, April 8, 2016

Nostalgia Nugget: My First MST3K

A title that screams quality and respect!
When you grow up with a family that runs video stores, movies are all around. Not only that, but all kinds of movies are all around. I had access to the highest heights of cinema like Citizen Kane and Seven Samurai and the dregs of the dregs like Planet of the Dinosaurs and Space Mutiny. Having such a wide swath of movies to pick from I had this idea in my head that all movies needed to be respected, or at least given a fair shake. How many times had a stupid looking VHS cover held something really great within? Ok, maybe not "really great" but at least entertaining.

I eventually ran into a movie that did deserve all the mocking I could hurl at it, but that is a post for another time. But as a hint, it involves Roger Corman.

In any case, mocking a movie openly was not something I really thought about doing. First of all, you just didn't talk during a movie. That rule was hardwired into my mind. It was rude to anyone else who may actually be enjoying the experience. One thing I learned over the years is that every movie, no matter how poorly conceived or just plain abysmal it is, has at least one die hard fan. But I also had that "respect the art" idea in my mind.

So when my girlfriend told me about his great show where this guy and two puppets watched a bad movie and mocked it, I thought it was the worst idea for a television show ever. I mean it doesn't matter how bad the movie was, it didn't deserve to be mocked. And talking during a movie - you just didn't do that. Of course I thought I knew bad movies. I was young and ignorant. I hadn't seen The Killer Shrews, Monster a Go-Go, Manos: The Hands of Fate or the complete works of Coleman Francis.

Would you trust this guy to make you laugh?
But she insisted Mystery Science Theater 3000 was hilarious and that I had to give it a chance. I still doubted her, and did my best to avoid actually watching any of the show. I did see a few moments here and there at her house. But they were the host segments featuring some guy talking with puppets... PUPPETS! And what the hell did that name even mean? Was there a 2000 or a 1000? I was actually thankful I didn't get Comedy Central.

Now, let me also add that in my girlfriend's home, everyone talked over the television all the time. So I didn't get to actually hear any of the jokes. But all this told me was that the reason she liked the show as because she grew up in an environment where talking over a movie was OK. Poor girl. It is a miracle she married me.

One night, I stopped by her house after my shift at the video store ended and we headed back to her room to hang out and watch some television. Little did I know that this stupid puppet show was about to start, and that she set up a clever trap!

"Jack" talks Fugitive Alien!
Her bedroom was small and the only place to actually sit and watch the television was to kick back on her bed. So there I am cuddling with my girl and this show starts up and I roll my eyes. But she says "Just give it a chance, please." And when your girlfriend says, "please" well you have to listen, right?

At this point Comedy Central was doing this odd thing where they were splitting the hour and a half show into two 45 minute segments and creating two one hour episodes split over two nights. Surrounding the show was an odd host segment with Mike Nelson dressed and acting like Jack Perkins who used to host the series Biography. He would introduce the move and provide some silly comedy, the typical opening and end credits for the series were replaced by these new host segments.

Anyway, "Jack" starts the show and says the movie is going to be Hercules Against the Moonmen. It was the perfect movie for me to be introduced to this concept. First of all, I love watching those old goofy Greek myth movies. The fact that moon men were somehow involved in the plot piqued my interest even more.

Big beefy buttery Hercules is on the case!
The movie is a mess. There is an evil queen who makes a pact with the moon men who demand human sacrifice. They will smash the moon into the earth and take over, something silly like that. Hercules runs around, beats people up, falls into traps and pretends to be seduced by the evil queen. There are battles, a guy who gets stabbed by a spike wall trap, a killer gorilla, and huge rock monsters. It is silly fun and Joel and bots unleash some hilarious jokes at the movie.

Before I know it, I'm chuckling at some of the comments. The timing is perfect and I'm impressed at how varied the jokes are. They range from commenting on Hercules gait as he strides about the screen, and a guy who looks like he is wearing candy bar armor, to the fact that the guards look like they stepped off a Little Caesar's package (Pizza Pizza!).

No seriously... where did it go?
At some point everything just clicked. The riffs were on a roll, the movie was ridiculous and my girlfriend and I were feeding off each other's laughter. Some of the jokes would strike her as really funny and some would click better with me, and some we would crack us both up. Then came the moment when Joel pointed out that the wounded prince (who is over acting big time) was missing a nipple. I'm not sure if it was a bad camera angle, some kind of odd censoring or just the way poor quality of the print but sure enough the guy was missing something. I literally fell off the bed laughing. I couldn't breathe and my girlfriend actually asked if I was OK.

I was. Hell I was a better. I realized I had a new favorite television series.

I have a lot of nostalgia associated with Mystery Science Theater 3000. It reminds me of time I spent getting to know my wife, enjoying my final year of high school and the adventures of college, the times we'd play episodes in the video store and marvel at how quickly they would rent out (almost guaranteed to to happen when you put one on). I'll always have a place in my heart for the nipple-less prince in Hercules Against the Moonmen and the time a television show actually made me fall on my ass with laughter.

No, I've got everything under control. Happens all
the time. Know exactly what to do.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Score Sample: 10 Cloverfield Lane

I've mentioned a few times on this blog that my favorite film composer is Jerry Goldsmith. He wrote a bunch of really fine film music, but I feel his work on Star Trek: The Motion Picture may be his best. I already wrote a whole blog post about why I love that score (check that out here). One of the main reasons is the crazy electronic instrument: the Blaster Beam. This bad boy was used in quite a few scores in the late 70s and early 80s, but pretty much vanished after Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in 1984.

Then along comes composer Bear McCreary who is known for his work on the revisit to Battlestar Galactica as well as his use of unique instruments. He felt that the Blaster Beam would be the perfect addition to his score for 10 Cloverfield Lane. So he reached out to the creator of the Beam, Craig Huxley, and asked him to perform the Beam for the score. Well, my love for the Blaster Beam knows no bounds, so when I heard it was going to appear on this score I had to pick it up.

McCreary creates a really great theme for the film and puts it through all kinds of variations, building suspense and terror in equal amounts. The Beam adds an unearthly presence to the whole thing. Check out this edit from the end credits suite for the film featuring the Beam and an interesting video of all the unique instruments McCreary compiled of the score. The Blaster Beam can be heard and seen at the 2:20 mark. Enjoy!

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