Complimentary Passes to an Orlando, FL 3D Screening of Disney*Pixar’s “Monsters University” [ENDED]



In Disney Digital 3D™ And RealD 3D June 21

If you would like to enter for a chance to win tickets to the following advance 3D screening below, please leave a comment below with who is your favorite character: Mike or Sulley? Tickets are limited and will be chosen on a RANDOM BASIS on Friday June 15th. The winners will be will notified then via email. Good luck and hope to see if you at the screening!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Only one entry per person/per household. Must be 13 years or older to enter to win. Limit one-admit two pass per person. Passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Supplies limited. Employees of all promotional partner and their agencies are not eligible.

Theater: AMC Downtown Disney
Date: Monday, June 17th, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM
Format: 3D

Mike Wazowski’s (voice of Billy Crystal) lifelong dreams of becoming a scarer are derailed during his first semester at Monsters University when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (voice of John Goodman), and their out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program.

Book Review “The Art of Monsters University”

Author: Karen Palik
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Book Length: 172 pages
Release Date: June 1, 2013

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When it’s comes to “Monsters Inc.”, it stole our hearts and of course laughs (spoilers alert, haha). Over the last decade or so the film continues to entertain and stands as one of Pixar’s most impressive films and we have been waiting to see more adventures with Mike and Sulley. Twelve years later, we are getting a prequel to the animated hit titled “Monsters University”, which follows the duo in school before they were on the scare floor. This book is being released by Chronicle Books, who handles most of the art of books for Disney and Pixar. They were also the publisher behind the art of for “Monsters Inc”. If you were a fan of that book, this is another gem from Chronicle. If you have never seen that book, this one really takes you into this film’s universe and makes you want to rush out and see this new film immediately.

The layout of the book is great and really has that college campus feel. I enjoyed the fact that you also get to see aspects of “Monsters Inc.” that were not shown in the first film. There is tons of great concept art, which I am a big sucker for. All the images are super crisp and high quality. Additionally there are various character profiles, sculptures, storyboards and more. Even though our lovable Mike and Sully are still the main characters, there are tons of new faces and they get some time to shine in this book as well. When I see a movie, I like to have some surprises so I usually won’t go too deep before seeing it but this was a nice introduction to get us ready to meet them. “The Art of Monsters University” also includes some very informative behind-the-scenes interviews with the film’s artists. I like that they get to step away from the drawing board and speak out.

The book is authored by Karen Paik, who works in the development department at Pixar. She has worked on various projects including “Ratatouille”, “Up”, and of course “Monsters University”. If you are questions her work as an author she also authored the wonderful companion book “The Art of Ratatouille”, as well as “To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios”. So she not only brings her inside view from working at Pixar. She was also involved with this film hands on and allows us to get that inside view. There is also a great preface from John Lasseter, the head honcho for Disney*Pixar films, along with Pete Doctor, the director of “Monsters, Inc.”, “Up” and writer of “Monsters University”. The foreword is by Dan Scanlon, the director of Monsters University, also a great ending to a great book. Don’t miss this!

Joel Murray talks about working with Bobcat Goldthwait on "God Bless America" and Disney/Pixar’s "Monsters University"

Joel Murray is the youngest in his family of actors including Bill Murray and Brian-Doyle Murray. He is the star of Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest film “God Bless America” and he is voicing the character Don Carlson in Disney/Pixar’s upcoming “Monsters University”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Joel about growing up in the business and his work on the films above.

Mike Gencarelli: What did you think about “God Bless America” upon your first reading?
Joel Murray: You heard the story from Bobcat (Goldthwait), right? He was having back surgery, so I brought him over dinner and the first three seasons of “Mad Men”. Middle way through season two his wife said “You know, Joel could play Frank”. So he sent me the script but didn’t say a part or anything. I read it and told him it was great and I really liked it. I told him that I liked what he has to say and that it was time for a film like this. Then I asked him, “Who are you thinking about, you want me for the guy in the office?” He said “No Frank…the Guy!” I jumped at the thought of having the lead role in the movie, which doesn’t happen too often. Actually it has just happened once, really [laughs]. My first thought was hell ya! But then I had a couple of moments thinking that there could be some repercussions from this. I agree with about 95% about what he says in the movie. So I just thought “Why not?” My only fear was that seven Westboro Baptists would come visit me at my house. [laughs] But other than that I wasn’t too worried. What I love about his work is that all of his movies having something to say. So many comedies today are just like an extended shit joke.

MG: You’ve worked with Bobcat Goldthwait going back to “Shakes the Clown”; how was it with him behind the director’s chair again?
JM: When I worked with him on “Shakes”, it was his first movie and he was in clown makeup the whole time. You didn’t really think about him as an auteur, he was playing a drunken clown running around in make-up. On this film though, I was able to work hand-and-hand with him the whole time. I directed some stuff in the past and he was open to anything that I had to say and add. It was a fun relationship. It is awkward having your buddy give you a role that you didn’t audition for.  He didn’t give me a lot of notes or anything. All I kept getting from him was “Yeah, you really got this guy down!”

MG: How did you prepare for a character like Frank?
JM: I thought Bob has written it for himself. So I was kind of playing Bob in a way [laughs] but with his normal voice. I had a friend shoot himself in the mouth about 6-8 months before this came up. So when we started shooting, a couple of the scenes we did first was me with a gun in my mouth. That really takes you to a real interesting spot as an actor…a real depressing spot for that matter. So starting from there, I found a dark place to begin with and had a gradual upswing from there. His is never really that happy or excited though in the film. But starting from the darker corner was a good way to go as an actor.

MG: Was it challenging to blend the satirical comedy with the violent action?
JM: How do you blend it? Well, anyone that takes the violence in this film too seriously doesn’t get it. They also may be part of the problem that we are trying to kill. When you have a car montage in the middle of the film dancing around on the map of America, you know it is not taking itself that seriously. To do some serious acting on this, the comedy of it brought something to it. I grew up doing comedy and I have been fortunate enough to get into some serious roles as well in “Mad Men” and “Shameless”. So I’ve got to do some straight acting. It has been interesting to try and I have also learned a lot from my peers and my brothers. I watched my brother Billy (Murray) in “Broken Flowers” and I thought to myself “He’s seeing if he can do absolutely nothing and if it would work” [laughs]. Also in “Lost in Translation”, he was so introspective. So I just didn’t want to overplay it and keep it kind of close. I have a very expressive face, so I don’t need to be too over the top. But Bob was consistently giving me the thumbs up. So I guess it worked.

MG:  Speaking of your family, how was it growing up as the youngest in a family of actors? Do you feel that comedy comes easy?
JM: It was natural at home. Everyone was funny around the dining room table and that is where some of the comedy started in our house. You learn from them. I had some of the funniest people in America in my room growing up. There was also a high standard with them. I did plays throughout high school and college and when I got into improv, it wasn’t that easy but I had my background to draw from. I remember one of the first times my brother Billy came to see me at the Improv Olympic. I remember riding home with him and it was one heck of a quiet car ride, like I just struck out to win the World Series [laughs]. So they are a tough group to impress but we all created our own funny. There is stuff you saw on “Saturday Night Live” and from movies where you think that you grew up with that. I had more noogies on my head then anybody being the youngest [laughs].

MG:  Lastly, tell us about your role Don Carlson in “Monsters University”?
JM: The first trailers didn’t really show any new characters. In the new trailers, I am the guy with the mustache in the cloak that is evoking the initiation rites. Don Carlson is a student in his 40’s that has been laid off and decided to go back to college and learn the computers. So he is in this lame frat with the other guys but he is 20 years older than them all. He was a fun character. He is a little bit Minnesota-ent and sounds a little bit like my brother Brian-Doyle Murray but not exactly, I swear [laughs]. I didn’t go there!


Related Content


Jason Christopher talks about slasher "Nobody Gets Out Alive" and upcoming "Monsters Within"

Jason Christopher is the writer/director of the 70/80’s slasher inspired “Nobody Gets Out Alive”. The film is in-your-face and will leave hardcore horror fans very happy. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason to chat about the film and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: You handled everything from editing to producer to writer and directing “Nobody Gets Out Alive”, tell us about the origin of this project?
Jason Christopher: The flick came about with my producer and I making a small no budget movie. We made this movie where we were the only crew and hired three actors and had a solid story. With no budget the movie didn’t turn out how we really wanted it to but we screened it sold out in 45 min and turned away 200 people. That’s when my producer was like, “lets get a real budget and make a real movie, what other scripts you got?” I wrote “NGOA” when I was 17 years old. Always wanted to write a slasher flick paying homage to the flicks I loved. It wasn’t until my Dad passed away randomly that I actually sat down and wrote it. I had a lot of hate and anger wrapped in my head from the incident so it motivated me to make the Hunter Isth character. We got 36k bucks and made the movie.

MG: Out of all those tasks which was the most challenging for you?
JC: I consider myself a director and editor. I like writing but I’m not a good writer, I’ll admit. I have more of a vision with my eye through a camera than I do with my hands on a laptop writing. I do the fun side of producing, putting things together. My producer does the money and business side of things. That’s just not my thing. But with writing it’s a draft of your story, directing you’re seeing the story come to life and another draft, and editing is the final draft to me.

MG: The film is a nice homage to 70/80’s slasher pics, tell about your inspiration?
JC: I was born in ’87 so I didn’t get to witness first hand of all the best slasher flicks. But I watched them all when I could. “The Prowler”, “Black Christmas” (74), “Friday The 13th Part 3”, “Halloween 2″(82). Those are my favorites and I think they show in the flick.

MG: The gore in the film is solid and doesn’t cut away; I commend you for not being afraid to offend!
JC: My Dad always told me to make something controversial. I did a lot in “NGOA” by trying to be unique with the kills. There’s a lot more I wanted to show but I didn’t. Was thinking of how a distributor would feel because I definitely didn’t want the movie to sit on a shelf and never get picked up. After seeing “A Serbian Film” I was like, “damn this dude really didn’t care”. Love that flick for that reason.

MG: Do you recall what was the film’s final body count?
I think there’s a total of eight on screen. In earlier drafts there were a bunch more but I took them out due to not having money in the budget. *Spoiler* Originally the two convenience store victims weren’t supposed to be in but after a few cuts of the movie we decided to go back and put them in.

MG: How did Clint Howard get involved with the film?
JC: My producer set that one up. We had enough money to get a small cameo in the flick. We were tossing around names and I randomly said, “Clint Howard!” He took it and ran with it and set the whole thing up. Clint was great, he’s such a smart-cool dude.

MG: What do you have line-up next?
JC: This script I wrote titled, “Monsters Within”. I really can’t say much, don’t even know if I’m allowed to announce the movie title but whatever. It’s what I’m definitely working on getting off the ground. Money is always a bitch and we’re definitely aiming way high for the budget. Got a great name for the lead attached and I’m so excited for this movie. It’s everywhere – sci-fi, horror, slasher, mystery. It’s pretty cool.

3D Blu-ray Review "Monsters, Inc. 3D"

Actors: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, James Coburn, Steve Buscemi, Mary Gibbs
Directors: David Silverman, Pete Docter
Number of discs: 5
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Disney-Pixar
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Run Time: 92 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This isn’t the first rodeo for “Monsters Inc” on Blu-ray. It was first released back in November 2009 to the high-def format. It was an amazing release and holds up very well to date. This new Ultimate Collector’s Edition presents this amazing film now in 3D, with 7.1 killer audio track and some great new extras. Is that enough to wet your appetite? My daughter is a big fan already of this film at the young age of eight months. She has a full outfit to transform her into Boo and has visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios in order to meet Mike and Sully. With the release of “Monsters University” hitting theaters this summer, this release is warm welcomed. Disney went all out with this release and is most definitely worth the upgrade whether it is for the 3D or the 7.1 track or the extras.

Official Synopsis: Believed by monsters to be toxic, children are strictly forbidden from entering Monstropolis.  But when a little girl named Boo accidentally follows Sulley back into his world, he finds his career in jeopardy and his life in utter chaos. Assisted by Mike, the two pals plot to rectify the mistake and return Boo to her home.  When the trio encounters an unexpected series of complications, they become embroiled in a cover-up catapulting them into a mystery beyond their wildest dreams.

Since the success of “The Lion King” in theaters, Disney has gotten the itch to go back and convert a view of their classic films. Next up with have “The Little Mermaid” this Fall, which is one that I am really looking forward to.  It is one thing to have the computer generated “Monsters Inc” but the real art comes from bringing the 2D animation into the third dimension. Nonetheless, this 3D presentation of “Monsters Inc.” is quite stunning. They really went through a lot of trouble in order to really make this look amazing. There is some really great depth added within this third dimension, whether it is on the Scare Floor or during the door chase scene. This film looks like it was truly meant and designed to be in 3D.

This five-disc release comes with the following 3D Blu-ray / Blu-ray / DVD Combo + Digital Copy. This is becoming the norm for Disney’s new releases and it does nothing but leaving you quite satisfied. Disney also has upgraded the Blu-ray’s audio track from the 2009 release, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 EX to a stunning Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround track with both the 3D and 2D versions. This track is literally amazing. It would have been very easily and still satisfying for Disney to just leave the old track in there but they went a step further and delivered more.

This 2013 release not only included an amazing 3D transfer, 7.1 sound but also a trio of new and exclusive extras.  There is an extended 3-minute “Monsters University” sneak peek.  I am very excited to see that they also included Toy Story Toons short “Partysaurus Rex” (in 3D, as well). I was shocked that this wasn’t included on the “Finding Nemo 3D” release since it was included with the film when it was released theatrically. There are also Outtakes and Company Play (also in 3D), the gag reel from the Monsters, Inc. theatrical credits included.  The only extra left out from the 2009 release (which is now outdated anyway) is “Ride and Go Seek”, which was a tour of the Monsters, Inc. attraction in Tokyo. Lastly, I was very impressed to see that the classic 2001 short “For The Birds”The rest of the extras are good but taken from prior Blu-ray/DVD releases.

The next set of extras are located on the second disc.  There is an audio commentary track from the Director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, writer Andrew Stanton, and executive producer John Lasseter.  I have always like this track and it really gives a lot of details from this amazing collection of that on the film “Monsters, Inc.” There is a “Filmmakers Round Table”, which was filmed at the Hidden City Cafe with Docter, Unkrich, producer Darla K. Anderson, and story supervisor Bob Peterson. This was produced for the Blu-ray release exclusive and it is a blast to watch the genius flow through around this table. Lastly, there is also “Mike’s New Car”, which is the very fun short from the original DVD release of “Monsters, Inc.” I would have loved to see n this converted to 3D as well as “For The Birds”.

The remainder of the special features are located on the third Blu-ray and is a mix of HD & SD extras. “Roz’s 100 Door Challenge”  is an interactive trivia game. “Pixar Fun Factory Tour” is tour of the studio offices with John Lasseter (a little dated but still fun). There are four story Featurettes focusing n the pre-production featurettes of the film. “Banished Concepts” is a collection of five abandoned scenes. “Storyboard to Film Comparison” is a split-screen look at a few scenes. “Designing Monstropolis” introduces us to to work it took to create Mike and Sulley’s city. “Set Dressing” is a look at the props and cameras used on the film. “Location Flyaround” is a 360 degree looks at some of the film’s streets, rooms, and locations.  Too bad this wasn’t in high def, would have been better.

“Monster File” is a two-part EPK with some interviews from the voice actors. “Animation” is six-part feature focusing on the process, titles and the production. “Music & Sound” loos into the sound design and also Billy Crystal and John Goodman’s cover of “If I Didn’t Have You”. “Release” is a collection of promotional material from the premiere to trailers. “Monsters Only Section” is a few more featurettes including “New Monster Adventures”, “If I Didn’t Have You” music video, “Behind the Screams” which is an interview with Mike and Sully and “Orientation” which is a trio of animated videos “Your First Day,” “History of the Monster World” and “Welcome to Monsters, Inc”.  Lastly there is an art gallery of about 900 concept images and a farewell from the filmmakers included.

Director of “Tourist Trap” and “Puppet Master”, David Schmoeller talks about his new film “Little Monsters”

David Schmoeller is the director of such horror classics such as “Tourist Trap”, “Crawlspace” and “Puppet Master”.  David has a new film coming out in 2013 that is a different type of horror film called “Little Monsters”.  Media Mikes had some time to chat with David about his new film and also reflecting on his horror classics.

Mike Gencarelli: You are known for your work with monsters but tell us about how your new film “Little Monsters”, tells the story of a different kind of monster?
David Schmoeller: The horrible crimes of patricide or matricide or any of the cidas (fili, frati, parri) are familiar and fascinating subjects of literature and cinema. But the crime of children killing children, in this case, two ten-year olds killing a three-year old – for no reason at all – and then being released at eighteen with new identities, seemed to me to be a fresh and challenging subject for a movie. The opening of the film – the first four shots of the movie, actually – are difficult to watch, but I thought it important to set the stakes as high as possible: we don’t see the murder itself, but the immediate aftermath, the horrible results of a senseless murder. Because of the unusual subject matter, the only way “Little Monsters” would ever get made is if I financed it myself. So, I did. I’m glad I made this movie. I hope it is appreciated.

MG: Where did you come up with the idea for the film?
DS: “Little Monsters” is very loosely inspired by the circumstances of a real murder case, the Bulger murder in England in 1993. In that case, there was so much outrage when the murderers were given new identities and released when they turned 18, that the government passed laws that it was illegal to reveal their identities. So, we know very little about what happened after they were released. I just thought it would be interesting to write a story that speculated what would happen to child murderers if they were adults – and released.

MG: Tell us about your role of Wakefield?
DS: It’s just a funny cameo I played – a silent bit as the retired cop that Carl lives with. It really started during the Empire International days when we shot our films in Rome, Italy. We could only take a handful of American actors because of the cost – and we would pick up the rest of the actors in Rome. So, the directors – and producers – would sometimes cast themselves in small roles – basically because we could speak English (with no accent). I’m not an actor – but I have been in half-a-dozen movies – but, it has to be a really small part – little or no dialogue. We actually shot the scene with sound – with me actually telling this really corny jokes…and I am so dead-panned, Charles and the crew were cracking up. I’ll put the scene in the DVD extras…it’s so bad it’s really funny.

MG: How can you reflect on creating some of horror most beloved films like “Tourist Trap”?
DS: It’s always rewarding when your work from so many years ago grows in appreciation. So, that makes “Tourist Trap” particularly rewarding – since it was my first film – and my oldest. And in the beginning, it wasn’t immediately appreciated. It had what was then called a “regional” release. The distributor struck 50-100 prints and it went from region to region. There wasn’t much advertising. It was a different time. The film was released onto the world – and the world yawned. It wasn’t until a few yeas after it’s theatrical release that Tourist Trap starting playing on TV and slowly began to make some impact – which came, I think, primarily because it was mis-rated by the MPAA. Instead of the usual R rating that horror films need – and generally receive – “Tourist Trap” was rated PG (or PG-13) or whatever the milder rating was. What that meant was that “Tourist Trap” could play on Saturday afternoon TV. And parents across the country were telling their kids – “I have to do the laundry, go watch TV.” And across the country, seven years olds went into the living room and started watching this crazy movie with screaming mannequins with gaping mouths and baby blue eyes – and it scared them to death. And then they would tell their friends and interest in Tourist Trap began to grow. Earlier this year, Jonathan Rigby released his book: “Studies in Terror, Landmarks of the Horror Cinema and Tourist Trap was one of 130 landmark horror films from the beginning of film to present day. In the year 1978, three films were listed: “Halloween”, “Cronenberg’s The Brood”, and “Tourist Trap”. Pretty good company, I was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fantaspoa Film Festival in Porto Alegre, Brazil earlier this year. And they screened most of my films. It was very rewarding that every screening was sold out – and that most of the people were YOUNG people – and the screenings were subtitled in Portuguese. “Tourist Trap” (and “Crawlspace”) still screen in 35MM in art houses across the US – even though the prints are starting to fade. [David Schmoeller starts the New Year with a guest appearance at the famous Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin where a 35MM print of TOURIST TRAP will screen at 10pm on January 1, 2013. Check it out here]

MG: And how about “Puppet Master”?
DS: “Puppet Master” is a slightly different story. Again, I am happy to make a film that is remembered – or still around for whatever reason. I wrote and directed the first “Puppet Master” – and created some of the puppets. The face of Blade was actually our homage to Klaus Kinski – if you look closely enough. But the concept and original story came from Charlie Band. And the franchise is due almost completely by Charlie. I’ll take all the credit people want to give me for that film…but be aware that it really pisses Charlie Band off when they do. That is why he took my “A Film By” credit off – and put his name – ABOVE THE TITLE – on the new Blu-ray versions of Puppet Master. It is now: “Charles Bands’ Puppet Master” – the classic first film. Charlie is getting insecure in his old age. 😉

MG: How do you feel that horror genre has changed over the years?
DS: The changes in the horror film really reflect the changes in the film business itself: lot’s of remakes and sequels and cannibalizing the past. I suspect the more original horror films today come from foreign countries and – in the US – from indie filmmakers. To make a truly original horror film today, a filmmaker would have to figure out the zeitgeist (global financial worries & problems – not exactly an exciting topic for a horror film) –or whatever – it would have to be something we really haven’t seen or experience – and that would never receive real financing, because it won’t have been tested. Tough times for films…

Blu-ray Review “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection”

Directors: James Whale, Arthur Lubin, George Melford, Karl Freund, George Waggner, Jack Arnold
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye, Claude Rains, Colin Clive
Number of discs: 8
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Running Time: 644 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When it comes the the Classic Monsters, there is hands down nothing better in horror.  It’s all starts from these films.  This Essential Collection includes eight of Universal’s most popular monster films, including “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Wolf Man” (1932), “The Mummy” (1932),  “The Invisible Man” (1933), “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935), “The Phantom of the Opera” (1943) and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954).  These films have been digitally restored and released on Blu-Ray for the first time ever in this release. These are some of the most iconic films in history with creatures that are simply timeless.  Of course Universal timed this release perfectly to compliment Halloween.  And what better way to get in the mood for the holiday than enjoying these great films in beautiful in perfect high-definition picture and perfect high-definition sound for the first time ever.

This wonderful release not only comes packed with goodies but also looked fantastic.  It is very sleek and sharp.  The inner case holding the discs comes on nice stock and with beautiful art displaying for each film.  Also included in the case is a collectible 48-page book, perfectly titled “The Original House of Horrors: Universal and a Monster Legacy”. This book features some really amazing behind-the-scenes photographs, original and foreign posters, trivia facts and much more.  This year is the celebration of Universal’s 100th Anniversary and they just went all out on this release. Each classic monster film is also accompanied with a massive amount of bonus features. Also a major draw for myself included is the rarely seen “Drácula”  [Spanish-language version], now also in high-def.  But the disc that I rushed to put in first and watch has to be the 3D Blu-ray presentation of “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (1954).  This is the first time that this film has been released in 3D, since it’s original theatrical release.  Wow, let me tell you I think this was worth the purchase alone.

When I put in the disc for “Dracula”, I have to admit I was rubbing my eyes since I was just blown away by its restoration.  This film is 81 years old…81 years! The film look glorious on Blu-ray, I have seen films together that don’t even come close to this scale of greatness.  The same is the case for the rest of the films as well, I seriously couldn’t find anything wrong with this restoration.  Each film is presented in its 1080p transfer in full frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio.  Each film also comes with a perfect DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono track.  I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect audio presentation for these films.  Universal has really put a lot of love into these since I believe that they are fans of these classics themselves and are doing it as fans.  Trust me, they could have just plopped these films onto Blu-ray and you know that we still would have bought it, no questions.  But with this release, you know you are really getting both quality and quantity.  All fans of these classic films, should be left with their most open and their tongue rolling out at the screen.

Now let’s get to the massive amount of special features.  Which are presented in a variety of formats including 1080i/p and 480i/p.  They are also mostly include a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, “Dracula” and “Creature” also include a DTS-HD Master Audio track for the extras. The extras on “Dracula” are easily the spotlight (if you don’t count “Creature” in 3D as an extra).  “Dracula: The Restoration” is a new featurette available for the first time and it is amazing to watch how this film was done. The 1931 Spanish version of “Dracula” comes with an introduction by Lupita Tovar Kohner.  There are also three other featurettes covering this production and legacy including “The Road to Dracula”, “Lugosi: The Dark Prince” and “Dracula Archives”. I really enjoyed watching the film with the “Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About the Making of Dracula”.  There is an extra focusing on the brilliant Score by Philip Glass performed by the Kronos Quartet. If you are of a fan of commentary tracks, this contains two completely different angles.  The first is with Film Historian David J. Skal and the second is with Steve Haberman, Screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It.  Lastly we get a trailer gallery, which closes the extras for “Dracula”.

Next up is “Frankenstein” and it also delivers some really great features. First off we have “100 Years Of Universal: Restoring the Classics”, focusing on the companies plan to restore and release numerous films this year.  There are also a bunch of great featurettes including “The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster”, “Karloff: The Gentle Monster”, a look into the world of “Universal Horror” and lastly “Frankenstein Archives”. Like “Dracula” there is also a great “Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About The Making of Frankenstein”. Boo!: A Short Film, which is comedy directed and written by Albert DeMond. It contains clips of famous horror films including The Cat Creeps (1930), Frankenstein (1931) and Nosferatu (1922). There are two very interesting and details audio commentaries with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer and Historian Sir Christopher Frayling. Lastly we get a trailer gallery.

The Mummy” follows the similar path of the others as well. First off we have “100 Years of Universal: The Carl Laemmle Era”, which I highly recommend. There are also a bunch of great featurettes including “Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed”, “He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce”, “Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy” and lastly “The Mummy Archives”. These featurettes were among some of my favorites. “The Mummy” also includes two of the best audio commentaries with Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong and also Film Historian Paul M. Jensen. Lastly we get a trailer gallery.

The Invisible Man” includes the only two featurettes. The first one is the only one specifically aimed at the production, “Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed”.  There is also “100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters”.  There are Production Photographs, which are a must to view.  There is also only one audio commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer.  Overall this film included the least features but still some good content.  “Bride of Frankenstein”  includes two featurettes including “She’s Alive! Creating The Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Bride of Frankenstein Archive”.  It also included a duplicate from the “Frankenstein” extras “100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics”.  There is also a commentary track with Scott MacQueen and a trailer gallery.

Are you tired yet of special features? Besides we are just getting started, with next up “The Wolf Man”. First off we have “100 Years of Universal: The Lot”, this shows the lots in the good ‘ole days.  There are also a bunch of great featurettes including “Monster by Moonlight”, “The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth”, “Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr.”, “He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce” and lastly “The Wold Man Archives”. These are some really quality featurettes and left me howling (What…too much?). “The Wolf Man” also includes an audio commentary track Film Historian Tom Weaver. Lastly we again end with a trailer gallery.

“Phantom of the Opera” has always been a favorite creature of mine.  I have always loved the makeup in this film.  There is one featurette for this film “The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked”, which is good enough for me.  There is also some Production Photographs, liked “The Invisible Man” and a repeat for “100 Years of Universal: The Lot” from “The Wolf Man”. There is also a commentary track with Film Historian Scott MacQueen and a theatrical trailer included. Last up but not least is “Creature from the Black Lagoon”.  This includes both the 2D and 3D versions of the film There is also one featurette “Back to The Black Lagoon” and a repeat from the previous two “100 Years of Universal: The Lot”.  There are also Production Photographs, an audio commentary track with Film Historian Tom Weaver and Trailer Gallery included.

There is not much more that you can ask for…except maybe to release now a Blu-ray restored collection of all of these films classic sequels. Some greats are “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” (1943), “House of Frankenstein (1944)”, “The Mummy’s Tomb” (1942), “The Mummy’s Curse” (1944), “The Invisible Man Returns” (1940), “The Invisible Man’s Revenge” (1944)”, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955) and yes even “The Creature Walks Among Us” (1956). I also just realized that “The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)” is missing, so maybe a second Essential Collection might should in the cards! Fingers crossed.


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“Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection” on Blu-ray October 2nd

Eight Chilling Classics from the Studio that Pioneered The Horror Genre, Digitally Restored and Released on Blu-Rayfor the First Time Ever
in Celebration of Universal’s 100th Anniversary


The Ultimate Box Set with eight Films Plus Over 12 Hours of Bonus Features ArrivesOctober 2nd, Just in Time for Halloween!

Universal City, California, June 28, 2012—For the first time ever, eight of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces of the horror genre are available together on Blu-rayTM as Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection debuts on October 2, 2012 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Digitally restored from high resolution film elements in perfect high-definition picture and perfect high-definition sound for the first time ever, Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection brings together the very best of Universal’s legendary monsters—imaginative and technically groundbreaking tales of terror that launched a uniquely American movie genre. This definitive collection features eight films on Blu-rayM, a collectible 48-page book featuring behind-the-scenes photographs, original posters, correspondence and much more.  Each iconic film is accompanied by an array of bonus features that tell the fascinating story of its creation and history, including behind-the-scenes documentaries, filmmaker commentaries, interviews, storyboards, photo galleries, and trailers. Especially appealing for fans are a never-before-seen featurette about the restoration of Dracula and the first ever offering of The Creature from the Black Lagoon in its original 3D version.

From the era of silent movies through the present day, Universal Pictures has been regarded as the home of the monsters. Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection honors the studio’s accomplishments with the most iconic monsters in motion-picture history including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Featuring performances by legends of the horror genre, including Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester, these eight iconic films also feature groundbreaking special effects and innovative makeup that continue to influence filmmakers into the 21st century. Sure to be a Halloween favorite for years to come, Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection is the ideal gift for film buffs and horror aficionados alike.

Synopses and Bonus Features

Dracula (1931)

The original 1931 movie version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale has for generations defined the iconic look and terrifying persona of the famed vampire. Dracula owes its continued appeal in large part due to Bela Lugosi’s indelible portrayal of the immortal Count Dracula and the flawless direction of horror auteur Tod Browning. The Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection includes the original version of this chilling and evocative tale, as well as the rarely seen Spanish version of Dracula.  Filmed simultaneously with the English language version, the Spanish version of Dracula is an equally ominous vision of the horror classic shot with the same sets and script. Cinematographer George Robinson and a vibrant cast including Carlos Villarias and Lupita Tovar deliver a chilling and evocative tale filled with the same terror, mystery, and intrigue.

Bonus Features:

  • Dracula, the 1931 Spanish version, with Introduction by Lupita Tovar Kohner
  • The Road to Dracula
  • Lugosi: The Dark Prince
  • Dracula: The Restoration – New Featurette Available for The First Time!
  • Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About the Making of Dracula
  • Dracula Archives
  • Score by Philip Glass performed by the Kronos Quartet
  • Feature Commentary by Film Historian David J. Skal
  • Feature Commentary by Steve Haberman, Screenwriter of Dracula: Dead and Loving It  
  • Trailer Gallery

Frankenstein (1931)

Boris Karloff stars as the screen’s most tragic and iconic monster in what many consider to be the greatest horror film ever made. Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) dares to tamper with the essential nature of life and death by creating a monster (Karloff) out of lifeless human body parts. Director James Whale’s adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel and Karloff’s compassionate portrayal of a creature groping for identity make Frankenstein a timeless masterpiece.

      Bonus Features:

  • The Frankenstein Files:  How Hollywood Made a Monster
  • Karloff: The Gentle Monster
  • Monster Tracks: Interactive Pop-Up Facts About The Making of Frankenstein
  • Universal Horror
  • Frankenstein Archives
  • Boo!: A Short Film
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
  • Feature Commentary with Historian Sir Christopher Frayling
  • 100 Years Of Universal: Restoring the Classics
  • Trailer Gallery

The Mummy (1932)

Horror icon Boris Karloff stars in the original 1932 version of The Mummy in which a team of British archaeologists accidentally revives a mummified high priest after 3,700 years. Alive again, he sets out on an obsessive—and deadly—quest to find his lost love. Over 50 years after its first release, this brooding dream-like horror classic remains a cinematic masterpiece.

      Bonus Features:

  • Mummy Dearest:  A Horror Tradition Unearthed
  • He Who Made Monsters:  The Life and Art Of Jack Pierce
  • Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy
  • The Mummy Archives
  • Feature Commentary by Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong
  • Feature Commentary by Film Historian Paul M. Jensen
  • 100 Years Of Universal: The Carl Laemmle Era
  • Trailer Gallery

The Invisible Man (1933)

Claude Rains delivers an unforgettable performance in his screen debut as a mysterious doctor who discovers a serum that makes him invisible. Covered by bandages and dark glasses, Rains arrives in a small English village and attempts to hide his amazing discovery, but the drug’s side effects slowly drive him to commit acts of unspeakable terror. Based on H.G. Welles’ classic novel and directed by the master of macabre, James Whale, The Invisible Man fueled a host of sequels and features revolutionary special effects that are still imitated today.

      Bonus Features:

  • Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed
  • Production Photographs
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
  • 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The acclaimed sequel to the original Frankenstein has become one of the most popular horror classics in film history. The legendary Boris Karloff reprises his role as the screen’s most misunderstood monster, now longing for a mate of his own. Colin Clive is back as the proud and overly ambitious Dr. Frankenstein, who creates the ill-fated bride (Elsa Lanchester). The last horror film directed by James Whale features a haunting musical score that helps make The Bride of Frankenstein one of the finest and most touching thrillers of its era.

      Bonus Features:

  • She’s Alive! Creating The Bride Of Frankenstein
  • The Bride Of Frankenstein Archive
  • Feature Commentary with Scott MacQueen
  • 100 Years of Universal: Restoring the Classics
  • Trailer Gallery

The Wolf Man (1941)

Originally released in 1941, The Wolf Man introduced the world to a new Universal movie monster and redefined the mythology of the werewolf forever. Featuring a heartbreaking performance by Lon Chaney Jr. and groundbreaking make-up by Jack Pierce, The Wolf Man is the saga of Larry Talbot, a cursed man who transforms into a deadly werewolf when the moon is full. The dreamlike atmospheres, elaborate settings and chilling musical score combine to make The Wolf Man a masterpiece of the genre.

      Bonus Features:

  • Monster by Moonlight
  • The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth
  • Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr.
  • He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce
  • The Wolf Man Archives
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Trailer Gallery

Phantom of the Opera (1943)

This lavish retelling of Gaston Leroux’s immortal horror tale stars Claude Rains as the masked phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House. A crazed composer who schemes to make beautiful young soprano Christine DuBois (Susanna Foster) the star of the opera company, the Phantom also wreaks revenge on those he believes stole his music. Nelson Eddy, as the heroic baritone, tries to win the affections of Christine as he tracks down the murderous, horribly disfigured Phantom.

Bonus Features:

  • The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked
  • Production Photographs
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Scott MacQueen
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Theatrical Trailer

Creature from the Black Lagoon  (1954)

Captured and imprisoned for scientific study, a living “amphibious missing link” becomes enamored with the head researcher’s female assistant (Julie Adams). When the hideous creature escapes and kidnaps the object of his affection, a crusade is launched to rescue the helpless woman and cast the terrifying creature back to the depths from which he came. Featuring legendary makeup artist Bud Westmore’s brilliantly designed monster, Creature from the Black Lagoon is an enduring tribute to the imaginative genius of its Hollywood creators.

Bonus Features:

  • The Creature From The Black Lagoon in 3D
  • Back to The Black Lagoon
  • Production Photographs
  • Feature Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver
  • 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
  • Trailer Gallery



Street Date: 10/2/2012

Copyright: 2012 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Selection Numbers: 61123308 (US); 61123470 (Canada)

About Universal Studios Home Entertainment

In honor of its Centennial anniversary, Universal Pictures proudly salutes 100 years of unforgettable films that have entertained audiences and touched the hearts of millions around the globe. In celebration of its first 100 years, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is proud to present a selection of its many beloved movies as part of an extensive year-long program that underscores the studio’s rich cinematic history and indelible cultural impact.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios ( Universal Studios is a part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

"Monsters" Interviews Series with Gareth Edwards, Jon Hopkins, Scoot McNairy & Whitney Able

October is usually swarmed by horror/sci-fi genre movies, some are good…most are not. This October, we have had the following genre films released, “Case 39”, “My Soul to Take” and “Let Me In”…so far all disappointing. We only have “Paranormal Activity 2” and “Saw 3D” to finish off the month, expectations are weary. Luckily for us “Monsters” is also being released. It is a micro-budgeted film from first time director and visual effects artist Gareth Edwards…and it kicks ass!

“Monsters” is easily one of the best films I have seen this fall – Click here to read my review.  Movie Mikes has had the chance to interview the cast and crew from the film.


This film is following the footsteps of other low budget sci-fi films like “Cloverfield” and the upcoming “Skyline”, very small budget but high production value. The film was made for around $100,000 dollars and with another $400,000 spent in post production. The film itself has computer graphic effects that could easily pass for a multi-million dollar film.

The cast in the film features actually real life husband and wife, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. Their chemistry in the film is so fantastic and you find yourself memorized watching these characters. Jon Hopkins composed and performed the score for the film, which is so fantastic. Jon’s music sets the mood for the whole film and really makes the film move well. I cannot wait until they release the score on iTunes, it is a must buy for movie score fans!

The film is set for US release on October 29, 2010. Make sure you go out and support the film and all independent movies. Check out the trailer below for those who are not familiar with this gem.

Interview with Brian Mahoney

Brian Mahoney is known for his role as Detective Duffy in “The Boondock Saints” film series. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about “Boondock” and what it was like working on the films.

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Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with “The Boondock Saints” for the first film?
Brian Mahoney: The script was at New Line Cinema at the time. I had a girlfriend who was working at New Line and I was tracking everything that came into that studio. I was reading scripts and that one just caught my attention. The structure of “The Boondock Saints” was just so different. It has a real edge to it. I got on early on when Harvey Weinstein was telling Troy (Duffy) he would buy him during the bidding war with New Line. It was a hot property.

Mike Gencarelli: Your scenes brought out some of the great comedy from the film, was it fun filming it?
Brian Mahoney: [Laughs] Dude I can even tell you how much fun it is hanging out with Bob Marley. First of all he is a kick-ass comedian. I got to be his straight man for two different movies. It is tough. It was clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right kind-of thing. Troy wanted me to be the straight guy who is quiet and smart. It was tough to keep a straight face. There was a lot of funny stuff going on in between scenes. I gotta tell you though, spend ten minutes with Bob Marley and you will ache from laughing so hard.

Mike Gencarelli: Were you excited to be reprising your role in “All Saints Day”?
Brian Mahoney: Yeah, I really was. When I read the script and got to the part where the brothers are hiding in the bar and the detectives come in and we agree to do a mission with them. It called the ‘reveal’ scene. When I got to that I was like jumping for joy. Detective Duffy gets more to do this time. It was a real thrill getting to work with these guys again. They really are a good group of guys.

MG: So your character Detective Duffy has a bigger role in the second film?
BM: It gets better and better. The second film is almost like my coming out party for me as an actor. The first film I was really lucky to be there with Willem Dafoe the whole time. I got to learn from him and whatnot, but I didn’t do a lot. The second film I am more interacting with ‘the boys’ and it is a real thrill.

MG: Fans really seems to dig these films and are always quoting the films, do you have a favorite line?
BM: Yah, David della Rocco is a good friend of mine and my favorite line is when he blows away the cat in the first film as says “Is it dead yet?”. That’s great. You just got to know Rocco and Rocco is as fun as Bob Marley. Sometimes without intending to be. He is a real cool guy and I think a lot of that shows up on screen.

MG: What’s up next? Do you think you will work with Troy Duffy again?
BM: Yeah I hope to be working with Troy again. I think he is going to have a long career. People around town are starting to take Troy more seriously now. He is two for two with his films and the guy has a cult following. As for me I got irons in the fire, I came close to a couple of things. I went up for this cool movie called “Cowboys & Aliens”. I thought I had a chance to work with Harrison Ford. I didn’t get it though it went to someone a little more famous. I am getting close. I just read for a show called “Big Love” on HBO. I got a couple more agents interested in me right now. I also got the chance to do a small part in an upcoming Matt Damon movie called “The Adjustment Bureau”. I had one scene with just me and Matt Damon. I play the owner of a bar called ‘The Fish Market’. It will probably be cut though since a film shoots so many hours of footage and then have to cut to down to 2 hours. If I make it in the movie that cool if not it is still going to be a great movie. The primary thing is I am working on my book right now called “A Cobra Pilot in Hollywood”. It is about my transition from the cockpit to the silver screen. My first career was a military aviator. I am trying to work on that, raising a kid and doing a lot of auditions. It is like crazy time right now.

Click here to purchase “Boondock Saints” merchandise

Interview with Lin Shaye

Lin Shaye is well known for her comedic roles in “There’s Something About Mary”, “Kingpin” and “Dumb and Dumber” and also her horror roles in 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “2001 Maniacs”. She recently stars as Granny Boone again in “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”. MovieMikes had the pleasure to talk with Lin about her recent role in the “2001 Maniacs” sequel and also discussed with her about her passion for acting.

Click here to purchase Lin’s movies

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got the role of Granny Boone in “2001 Maniacs”?
Lin Shaye: Well, I have worked with Tim before.  I met him when I did “Detroit Rock City”.  We had a friendship and a good work relationship.  He told me about the movie but like all things you are never sure what is going to happen, but then we got funding.  Originally the character had a whole different concept planned for her.  Tim kept talking about “The Beverly Hillbillies” grandmother and he envisioned her in a coon-skin cap.  When we saw the original place we were going to be shooting it was a living museum in a place called Lumpkin, Georgia.  It is a civil war reenactment museum.  It was fantastic.  When we saw Granny Boone’s “house” it was a white mansion and we rethought it on the spot.  I insisted she needed to be more like a southern belle.  We ended up sewing this outfit together on me just before we shot the first day and Granny Boone was born.  She was a cross between Scarlett O’Hara and a black widow spider.

Mike Gencarelli: What originally drew you to the role?
Lin Shaye: It is a really good story.  It is about these people who are avenging themselves against war.  It caters well to the horror population. Between Tim, the storyline and the idea of this women as Scarlett O’Hara eating people, I thought that sounded good.  So there we were.  The story is quite wonderful.

Mike Gencarelli: How do you feel your character grows or changes in “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”?
Lin Shaye: It took almost six years before we got the second one going.  By that time Granny took on this wonderful flavor of a real woman who is trying to bring some peace to herself even in this horrible vicious or gruesome way.  Tim also gave me a lot more to do in the second one.  We filled in her relationship with Mayor Buckman.  They have this odd love affair.  I love the scene in the second one when she is trying to wake him up by singing or being flirtatious and all he cares about is snoring and his weapon, it is the typical male/female relationship.  Granny is more of leader in the second one as well which is lots of fun for me.

MG: What was the most challenging part of your role in “2001 Maniacs: Field the Screams”?
LS: The challenges were more on the technical side.  We had such huge time restraint. We made this movie in like 11 days.  If you can believe that.  Everyone brought there a-game.  It was one of the most amicable sets that I have ever been on.  Tim is a very joyful human being, extremely positive and optimistic.  He really is a fine director.  He made the time restraints easier.  The hardest thing for me personally was the flashdance sequence, since it was kind of written in after the fact.  I remember getting the material and being surprised it was a whole song I kind of had to learn.  Besides me there were three other “gals” and I was  the dance captain so to speak.  They hired a choreographer for us and we had like a few hours to learn it.  It was kind of a nightmare.  We couldn’t learn it.  It was too hard for me and I was ready to give-up.  We were spending all this time and energy and it is going to look like shit I thought.  When we finally set shot it, it seems to work well.  Tim had it all worked out that that is what is great about him.  So that was basically the hardest day for me.  Yet it came out great and I think it is hilarious.  I think the fans are really going to love it.

MG: Are you a fan of horror films in general?
LS: [laughs] I am not a fan at all.  The best horror film to me to date is still, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, which I do have a tiny part in.  They do not scare me and I have no fascination with blood or guts other than my appreciation of special effects and makeup.  The horror fans are an incredible community.  I just worked with James Wan, who directed the first “Saw” movie.  So I am getting work in this genre but I never question why I just say, “Yes”.

MG: Your role in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is still referenced today as having a major impact, how does that make you feel?
LS: It is no secret Bob Shaye is my brother who started New Line Cinema.  I am proud of that.  I was invited to work on the film.  The teacher was just a little small role with this fun little catch all at the end about the hall pass.  None of us ever know what is going to strike a cord in people.  Sometimes it is the most unlikely kind of thing.  I really try to do my best.  When we did “Elm Street”, I was just excited to be in the movie.  It was big deal for New Line but I had no idea.  The film has had all this longevity and spawned this whole mega-series of films.  Robert Englund became Robert Englund.  People still remember the role of the teacher, though.  I just remembered something actually, I got a review in the New York Times back when the movie came out.  It spoke about the teacher and it mentioned that she was one of the most realistic people in the film.  It was one of those moment and I said “Wow, I got picked out” for such a small contribution.  It is thrilling and exciting.

MG: You also had some very memorable comedic roles in “There’s Something About Mary”, “Kingpin” and “Dumb and Dumber”, did you enjoy working those films?
LS: I love comedy.  It is interesting because I never thought to myself that I am a comedian or I do comedy.  I feel like I am an actor.  I have been told I have excellent comedic timing.  It is just something you feel.  I am very grateful for that gift.  I really do not think of comedy any different than I think about horror or any other genre.  For me it is just finding the truth of the character and expanding their universe.  When I did Magda in “There’s Something About Mary”, I thought this woman is really like agoraphobic and doesn’t really go out.  I spoke to the wardrobe and I mentioned that she should just be in house coats.  I had a whole back story made up for her that wasn’t in the script. She stays with Mary on her couch because she love her like a daughter.  She also has Fluffy that she treats like her baby.  It is through those serious thoughts comes the comedy.  I think it is trying to move your mind outside of the character and from those elements comes things that are funny, scary and sad.  If you are in a comedy you want to sustain the genre your in.  You have to just feel it.  You don’t want to play a comedy too heavy.  That’s tragedy.  But actually that can be funny too depending on how hard you cry [laughs].  I just love acting and the process.  I recently turned down a big role in a movie for a smaller role.  I felt that with the smaller role, I could do something better with it.  I thought what the hell am I doing but the other role opened up my heart.  I thought that is why I am an actor.  That is what I look for.  Acting for me is communication.  If you can make people laugh there is nothing better.  I walked into the theater when we did “Mary” and I remembering hearing the roar and it was so uplifting.  With “Kingpin” also, I didn’t play her to be funny I thought she was tragic [laughs].  But people laughed at her, because she is so damn tragic.  I have been doing this for so long but I still get as thrilled, scared, nervous and excited as I was the first time I ever worked once they say the words “Action”.

Click here to purchase Lin’s movies

Interview with Cindy Morgan

Cindy Morgan is best known as “Lacey Underall” in “Caddyshack”, and “Yori” in “Tron”. This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of “Caddyshack” and the return of “Tron” with its upcoming sequel “Tron: Legacy”. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Cindy about her road to becoming an actress and her experiences working on those films.

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Click here to purchase “Caddyshack” merchandise

Mike Gencarelli: You went from Catholic school girl to Lacey Underall in “Caddyshack”, tell us about that journey?
Cindy Morgan: From Catholic school to “Caddyshack” went this way, I was going to go to the Illinois Institute of Technology which is the mid-west version of MIT. I was accepted in and I wanted to be an engineer like my dad. The year I went, the school had four girls and all guys. I was fixed up for my prom and all I did was study, I said I can’t do this. I made a hard left turn and went to Northern Illinois University. My professor told me one day that I should get into communications. I remember my first time trying it because my whole body went numb. But after that I took everything as a challenge. I spent five years in broadcasting. I was either working in radio or television. If I was on the radio, I was a disc jockey and was FCC licensed sound engineer. On TV, when I did the weather I had not a clue what I was talking about but I had good ratings. From there I ended up doing The Morning Drive radio show in Chicago. I need some more money though so I asked to do more commercials and they told me they weren’t going to put me on camera. I said “the hell with you guys, I am going to LA”. They told me I wouldn’t get a job. I told them I will have a billboard on Sunset in one year. I had one in eight months. After getting a commercial for Irish Springs, I got a theatrical agent got the script for “Caddyshack”. Did you know how much that film was ad libbed? Rodney (Dangerfield) was running through a scene bug-eyed like a comedic juggernaut. Ted Knight kept getting angry. Chevy Chase and Bill Murray threw in their lines. It was crazy. When I finally saw it, it was like watching home movies of a family picnic. But the thing is we were really having a good time.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working on “Caddyshack”? Any stories?
Cindy Morgan: It was fun but also a big challenge. When that camera rolls it was even playing field. I was playing a strong character going head to head against these guys. The first scene I shot was the high dive and I can’t dive and can barely swim. I climbed up to the board and set the whole shot and they cut to the real diver. My second shot was the nude scene. It was explained to me and understood it. The night before though one of the producers told me they are going to send a Playboy photographer down to shoot the scene. I told them I couldn’t do it. But the next day there was the photographer. I wouldn’t let him on set and the producer said he was taking away my paid ads and my billing and told me I would never work again. So they did. Nobody knows I was in “Caddyshack”, they know Lacey Underall. I know that I did the right thing though.

Mike Gencarelli: Switching from “Caddyshack” to “Tron”, two totally different roles how did you feel?
Cindy Morgan: It was very different actors. Very different people. Working in Florida with the “Caddyshack” crew was a very different experience then working on the studio lot for Disney. “Caddyshack” was “Animal House” on the golf course. With Disney everything was frame by frame and had word by word laid out. It was a whole different deal. I loved working with Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner. It was a ground breaking film. When we shot it, it was just a huge empty warehouse. None of the graphics were behind us. The reality we were going to find in these things were in each others eyes. That is all I can say. I am really got I did that film.

MG: What was it like working on the film “Tron”, was it a difficult shoot?
CM: Difficult in a lot of ways. They had specific storyboards and scenes laid out. This was the first time that CGI was ever done. The studio suits were roaming around the sets. With my character in “Tron”, I had to make certain adjustments so I could play her as real as I could. One line I choked on and the audience knows it. I went to the director and said I cannot say this line. The director also happened to be the writer so the line stayed in the movie. The line was “Oh Tron, I knew there was circuit build that could hold you” and the audience laughs every time.

MG: How did you feel when you saw “Tron” for the first time as a finished product?
CM: In the real world I was fine. In the computer world the dialogue was very tough. The graphics were gorgeous though. But as a whole I didn’t know if it would play to a wide audience. I knew it had a special niche. As it turns out that niche kept it alive and it grew and grew. The reality was there because the actors believed it and they were in it 100%.

MG: Can you believe how the film has tested time and still is so popular?
CM: It is so cool that almost 30 years later all of this is happening. I have a big smile on my face all the time.

MG: Give us a hint do you think we will get a chance to see “Yori” return in “Tron Legacy” or maybe its possible sequel?
CM: I think any number of things in possible because the bottom line Mike, it is science-fiction. Anything is possible. They shot footage of me when I was in San Francisco doing promotion. The producers working the viral campaign are all young men. They are paying very cool attention to the internet and what the fans are saying. There is even a ‘Yori Lives’ campaign going on but it is all up to the fans.

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Interview with Cris D’Annunzio

Cris D’Annunzio recently starred in the acclaimed short film “Clemency”, which showed at the 2010 Sundance Festival and won several awards from other film festivals. He wrote and co-starred in the Ray Liotta and Rory Culkin film “Chasing 3000”, which follows the real-life story of two brothers driving across country to see Baseball Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente get his 3,000 hit with the Pittsburgh Pirates. While the film was made in 2008, it will get its official release in Summer 2010. Movie Mikes had the chance to talk to Cris to discuss “Chasing 3000” and his flourishing career.

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Mike Gencarelli: It has not been an easy road for “Chasing 3000.” How do you feel now that it is finally hitting the big screen?
Cris D’Annunzio: It’s interesting. Obviously I’m very excited that it’s finally coming out and hitting the big screen. And yet there’s also…I don’t know how to describe it, it’s not disappointing…I just feel a little bad that it’s taken the film so long to get out there because it’s a really sweet film. I mean, it premiered three years ago at the Tribeca Film Festival. I judge certain things by my wife and my kids’ reaction and they just loved it. I think it’s a nice family, kid oriented film. It’s too bad that it had to take the route it took to get here but, with that being said, I’m really thrilled that it’s going to get a release. Hopefully it will pick up some steam after people see it and it should do real well on home video.

Mike Gencarelli: You co-wrote the screenplay with Bill Mikita. How was that experience?
Cris D’Annunzio: Any creative/artistic endeavor has it’s challenges. Ultimately the story really came to me through Bill. It’s loosely based on his life and growing up with his brother, who is the oldest surviving person IN THE WORLD with MS. The story really touched me when he first told it to me and my experiences with my own sister who, unfortunately, passed away a year and a half ago…she had a disease called Lupus…the experiences that I had growing up. My parents divorced and my mom basically took my sister and I and left. It’s a lot like the story in “Chasing 3000.” Oddly enough, what brought my sister and I closer together was baseball. We both shared a fondness for baseball. The Mets were our favorite team. The experience of writing it with Bill…with both of us bringing our personal situations and our personal histories into it…it’s interesting that we’re talking about this over the 4th of July weekend. It was nine years ago, over the 4th of July weekend, that we locked ourselves in an office at Warner Brothers and wrote the script over a long three day weekend. It’s kind of interesting when you have two grown men sitting in a room crying a lot and writing. It was a good experience.

Mike Gencarelli: You play Principal Motley in the film. Tell us about your character?
Cris D’Annunzio: What happens in the film is that the two boys, played by Trevor Morgan and Rory Culkin, move with their mom to California. They grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to California primarily because the younger brother has this disease and the warmer weather is better for his lungs. Of course the older brother becomes despondent and misses his friends and has a lot of teen angst. He starts to not do well in school and get in trouble and I’m kind of the principal who…not necessarily sets him on the right course but…disciplines him, puts an ultimatum to him. He kind of makes him realize that California is not the place he needs to be in at this moment. So he and his brother “borrow” their mother’s car and head across the country to see Roberto Clemente get his 3000th hit. Hopefully you’ll see it…hopefully a lot of people will see it. The casting director did a fantastic job of assembling a pretty well known cast. It has Ray Liotta and Lauren Holly and Ricardo Chivara from “Desperate Housewives.” The story, I think, touched a lot of people and that really touches me. I think that’s why a lot of people got involved in this project.

MG: Tell us about your one man play “Digging Up Dad”? Any plans to return to the stage?
CD: I just completed the run about a month ago…we ran for about three months. The play was an autobiographical solo show about my relationship with my father and his mysterious death at an early age…he died when he was 48 under very mysterious circumstances. The story is really about me trying to come to terms with that and also the fact that my mother left him when I was 12. At that age I was still developing my knowledge and my opinions about my father and it wasn’t until after he passed
that a lot of his life and what he did and was involved with…it wasn’t until then that I became aware of them. I grew up with it and I was aware of it. And I’ll use the word “mafia” but today I can’t whole heartedly tell you or anybody with any certainty that there is such a thing as the mafia, at least not in the way we think it should be based on what we see on television and in the movies. Maybe that was what my father was involved in but my father certainly wasn’t John Gotti. If anything he was…I would liken him to Paulie Walnuts from “The Sopranos” which was about the level of involvement that he was at.

MG: Your short film, “Clemency” has been hitting the festival circuit. Tell us about it?
CD: It’s a little project that I’m very excited about. It’s an interesting piece. It’s been playing the festival circuit but it’s kind of been categorized as a horror film but it’s really more of a mystery/suspense thriller. The way it’s shot and edited is a lot like the film “Se7en.” It’s about a sociopath in the mountains of West Virginia that abducts and murders some girls. One sister actually escapes and comes back many years later. The guy has spent many years in prison on death row and right before he’s scheduled to be executed he receives clemency from the governor who rules him insane. The sister who survived comes back and poses as a reporter. She gets in to interview him and ends up killing him. I play the murderer, which is a 180 degree turn from the character I play in “Chasing 3000.”

MG: Tell us about your upcoming web series, “Vampire Mob”?
CD: The first episode aired this past week and it runs six episodes. It’s done by some people I got involved with when I did my one man show, the Ruskin Group Theater. Every month they do what they call a “cafe” play. Five writers come in on Friday morning and they’re given a theme and two head shots and are told to write a ten minute play based on the theme and based on the two actors they’ve been given the pictures of. They write the play in the morning, give the play to the actors at noon. They rehearse it from noon until six and then they have the opening night performance at seven and the closing night performance at nine that evening. One of the writers, Joe Wilson, had written a play loosely based on a vampire hit man for the mob and that gave him the idea to do the web series. It’s about a mob hit man who gets shot and makes a deal with the devil not to die. But in choosing to live forever he also has to choose to be a vampire. He figures that since most of the work he does is at night anyway this would be perfect for him!

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Interview with Derek Mears, Pt.2

Derek Mears is best known for playing Jason Voorhees in 2009’s reboot of “Friday the 13th”. He is starring in this summer’s reboot of “Predators” as the Classic Predator. He is currently filming in Hawaii for a little film called “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”. Movie Mikes got a chance to talk to Derek again, you can check out our first interview here. This time we got Derek to spill some information about his role in “Predators”.

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Mike Gencarelli: In “Predators”, you play the classic Predator, tell us about your role in the film and also the other Predators?
Derek Mears: What I can say about playing Classic Predator is, It is f*&#ing cool! My fan boy mind has been blown. This time around they have some new Predators and there are different races. So far fans have only seen one which is the classic race. They are a little taller, a little leaner, a little darker and their technology is a little more advanced. KNB EFX knocked it out of the ball park with their designs. When I saw their new designs, I thought that they were really really cool.

Mike Gencarelli: Have you seen the other films in the series?
Derek Mears: Of course I have. I’ve seen all the films. Like in our last interview I said, I love horror, sci-fi and comic books.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you prepare for this role?
Derek Mears: I knew I was going to be zipped up in a giant monster suit. I did a lot of endurance training. I was trying to figure out with the character how to make it more fluent and animalistic.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us a cool story from the set during the film of the “Predators”?
Derek Mears: You got good questions. Damn it, you’re making me think! [laughs]. Let me think…Nimrod (Antal), the director is such a big fan of “Predator” and I remember he was giggling and laughing during the shoot. He yelled out to the cast and crew, “There is a 12-year old fat kid named Nimrod who had a “Predator” poster above his bed and he is losing his mind right now”. His energy and love for the character was so infectious. Sometimes if you weren’t sure how a take went, you would just look at his eyes. He would light up and say “Pancakes”. If you heard “Pancakes” that means you were doing a fantastic job. You would ask, “How was that?”, he would then say “Pancakes, baby!! That was pancakes!!”. So I guess I did a good job [laughs].

Mike Gencarelli: How long did it take to apply the costume?
Derek Mears: To put it on it was about an hour. Some days it was like an hour and a half to get out. When I didn’t wear the battle helmet and just had a mask, they had to glue black rubber donuts over my eyes for padding. Then put my contacts in, so that took a little extra time.

Mike Gencarelli: What was the first thing you thought when you were suited up for the first time in your costume?
Derek Mears: The first thing I thought was where is the zipper so in case I have to go to the bathroom I can relieve myself [laughs]. I was really excited when I put the outfit on because the way it felt and moved, it was made for my body. Sometimes when you wear different prosthetics and monster suits you have to over exaggerate what you are doing. With this it was so super thin and skin tight. Everything read beyond clear and that is all to the artistry of KNB EFX.

Mike Gencarelli: How do you think fans are going to react to this film?
Derek Mears: I think they are going to like it. What the focus of this one was was to get it back to a hard R rating and to make it realistic and not campy whatsoever. They didn’t want to do PG-13 to reach a mass audience. I think it will deliver to the fans.

Mike Gencarelli: Have you heard word about possibly returning for another “Predators”?
Derek Mears: It’s funny, because you hear it every time you work on a film. At the end of the film you hear “Dude, they want to do part 2”. You hear that on every film you work on. I really don’t know if they are thinking about a sequel or not. I hope so.

Mike Gencarelli: What are you currently shooting in Hawaii?
Derek Mears: I am currently shooting “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and we are told to be tight lipped about it. All I am able to say is that I am part of the cast and that is it. It is really exciting though.

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Interview with Joe Alves

As a child, there are moments that stick out in your life and often lead you in directions you would never have considered. For me, the date September 23, 1975 is one that will stay with me forever. It was on that day that I first saw the film, “Jaws.” For someone that wasn’t really a big movie-goer, I came out of that film with an enthusiasm for films that gave me both a career and a passion for more than 30 years. November 2007 saw the 30th Anniversary of another film favorite of mine, Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Spielberg, of course, also directed “Jaws” but the films also share another major talent, that of production designer Joe Alves.Artistically talented since he was a young man, Alves knew at a young age what career he wanted to pursue. A summer job got his foot in the door and from there he worked his way to the top of his profession, earning an Academy Award nomination for his work on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” He also designed the look of some of the most popular films of all time and even now his ideas help form the look of today’s films, most recently “I Am Legend.” From the famed Disney animation studio to “Night Gallery.” From Elvis to Jagger. From Junior Set Designer to Director, there isn’t anything Joe Alves hasn’t done on film. While preparing for a film seminar in Denmark, Mr. Alves took some time out to discuss his career and some of his best known films.

Click here to view our ‘Jaws” interview with Carl Gottlieb
Click here to view our ‘Jaws” interview with Keith Gordon

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Mike Smith: It’s been 30 years since the release of “Close Encounters.” Did you think while you were filming that you would be talking about it three decades later?

Joe Alves: That’s always a hard question. I get the same question about “Jaws.” Let me just say that “Jaws” was different in the physical sense. With “Close Encounters,” there was a lot of buzz about it because the studio was behind it. The studio was having some financial problems and they needed a big picture. (note: The studio in question, Columbia, was in the middle of a mini-scandal after studio head David Begelman forged a $10,000 studio check he had written to Cliff Robertson. This incident caused a major upheaval at Columbia, both financially and artistically, that lasted for some time. Mr. Begelman committed suicide in 1995. The facts of this matter were documented in an excellent book, “Indecent Exposure.”) The movie started out very, very small. Steven (Spielberg) and I were skiing and preparing for a movie he was going to direct called “Bingo Long and His Traveling All-Stars,” which was a story about black baseball in the 1930s. I had taken a bunch of LIFE magazines and other research and we got snowed in. One night he started talking about “Watch the Skies,” which was based on a chapter of Dr. Hynek’s book (Dr. J. Allen Hynek, author of “The UFO Experience: A Scientific Study”), the chapter on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where you had actual physical contact with aliens. And I didn’t know if he had a solid script yet or not but I said this sounds much more fascinating then this black baseball movie. Steven said, “yeah, but I don’t have a deal.” Anyway, when we got back to L.A. he got out of his deal to do “Bingo Long” and pursued a deal to do “Close Encounters.” Ironically another director I knew, John Badham, ended up getting “Bingo Long” and asked me to work on it. Steven got Julia and Michael Phillips (the producers of “CE3K”) interested and that was for Columbia. We had always worked at Universal. Anyway, eventually Steven got a deal and he put me on “Close Encounters.” I went over to Columbia and met John Veach, who was the head of production, and he said, “here’s what were going to do. It’s a $4 1/2 million picture. It’s a sci fi movie. And were going to do pretty much everything on the back lot.” But we needed an unusual piece of topography, since the script called for some kind of strange mountain. So they sent me off by myself to scout locations. And right at that time, “Jaws” opened, and Steven got very busy promoting “Jaws.” So I flew to Rapid City, South Dakota and I started driving all over what they call “scenic USA” looking for various odd pieces of topography. I had some notes to see various places; Devil’s Tower, Chimney Rock. So that was basically it, it was a small sci fi movie. Back then sci fi movies weren’t really big movies. They were important movies, films like “War of the Worlds” and “Forbidden Planet” were part of a cult following. Anyway, to answer your question the long way: no. We just thought we were making a very interesting movie.

MS: I’m glad you mentioned John Badham. I love John Badham. I wish he’d do more. (Readers: among my favorite John Badham films: “Saturday Night Fever,” “Dracula,” “Blue Thunder” and “American Fliers.” These days he works mostly in television, most recently on the series “Heroes.”)

JA: I’d known John for quite some time, in fact we worked on “Night Gallery” together, as did a lot of young directors at that time like Jeannot Szwarc. I did “Drop Zone” with John not too many years ago and we’ve always really had good communication. What happened with “Close Encounters” is what happens in Hollywood. “Jaws” became a big hit and that gave Steven confidence that he could make a bigger movie out of it, which got the studio thinking, “wow, we’ve got this brilliant director who made this movie about a shark that everybody thought was going to tank…the studio tried to cancel it four times…so maybe we have hope with “Close Encounters.” And it got bigger. We had started to break down the script to see what sets were needed and I came up with a huge arena and models of it. And the studio head took me to stage 15 and 16 at Warner Brothers, which is the “Camelot” stage, where they had made “Camelot,” and I said to him, “I don’t know if it’s big enough.” And he said “ah, you guys are just inflated by your “Jaws” movie,” and I said no, I’ll make up a model to fit in the stage and I’ll let you judge if it’s going to be big enough, because this is going to be an EVENT. A spaceship is going to come and land. This is going to be one of the most important events in world history. So I made the model and all of the executives came. Begelman was just starting with his problems so it was some of the old guard and some of the new guard…they all came in to look at the model. Now this movie was going to be the saving of the studio. So I gave my pitch and Steven and I told them we didn’t think the stages were big enough and they agreed. When they asked how big we thought it should be we told them four times bigger. So I made a model four times bigger, they came in and looked at it and said “this looks terrific, where are you going to do it?” And I said ‘I don’t have a clue.’ So then we started looking at airplane hangers and finally found the one in Mobile, Alabama. And that’s, briefly, how the thing sort of escalated. What was really difficult was that we needed new technology. We didn’t have that person. We had Lawrence Butler, who was the effects guy for Howard Hughes. He helped bring us up to what was available, like matte shots. We fumbled around for about six months and I did a lot of sketches of alien ships and finally we brought in Doug Trumbull, which escalated the budget more. In the meantime, down the street we had (George) Lucas doing “Star Wars” and they were developing some new technology. I mean we had John Dykstra and Doug Trumbull (working on separate projects) both developing this motion control technology. So it started very, very slow, first with just Steven and myself. Then they assigned a studio manager to do the budget. Michael Phillip was more active at the beginning then Julia Phillips. And after I came back with photographs of Devil’s Tower and other places Steven picked Devil’s Tower, which was my choice too. So I went and started scouting locations. I knew Vilmos (cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who went on to win an Oscar for his work on “CE3K”) was going to be involved because he had done “Sugarland Express” with Steven. I think Steven originally asked him to do “Jaws” but he didn’t want to do a shark movie. And so Vilmos, Michael Phillips, Steven and I went to look at Devil’s Tower. When we came back I got the art department to start making models and that went on for a number of months. Six months later Trumbull came in with his group. We had decided we would use front projection, which created certain requirements from the art department regarding set pieces and things. But Larry Butler was important because he was the bridge between old technology and new technology.

MS: What led you to a career in film?

JA: Interesting question. I go back a long ways. High school in the early 50s. And I could always draw, from the time I can remember I was always drawing. In fact when I was in the fourth grade I drew all of the seven dwarfs. I can remember going to school and pinning them up on the wall. I was also a musician, I played piano. And in high school they would always have a rainy day amateur session. I’d play piano and others would twirl batons. And I ended up directing the senior extravaganza, which was a lot of different acts. So while I wasn’t really interested in acting I was interested in dramatics…music and art. And I saw a lot of movies. The movie that impressed me most was “An American In Paris.” And I remember coming out with the girl from up the street and I said, “Boy. That’s what I want to do.” I wanted to make movies and design things. So I pretty much decided at 15 or 16 that that’s what I wanted to do. When I went to college I majored in architecture and minored in drama. I then came down to L.A. and went to the Chouinard Art Institute, which was a fairly prestigious art school. It’s now become CalArts. Disney bought the thing. (Note: In 1961 brothers Walt and Roy Disney merged Chouinard and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music into what is now CalArts). There I majored in motion picture design. Then it’s a real fluke. I needed a summer job and when I came home I talked to a fraternity brother whose father-in-law worked at Disney. So I thought I could give him a call and maybe get a job sweeping the stages. But, he happened to be the guy who did the hiring for the Disney artists and he asked me to bring in a portfolio. I didn’t think I was ready but he hired me and I was at Disney animation for a couple of years. That got me started but I decided I really wanted to work on live action. I started designing sets for a theater called the Hollywood Playhouse and got some recognition there. I built a portfolio and went to the studios. I started off as a junior set designer, then eventually assistant art director. Then art director. Production designer and occasional jobs as a director. And that’s how it went.

MS: You were 19 when you worked on “Forbidden Planet.” Did you look back on that experience when you were designing ideas for “Close Encounters?”

JA: Yes. It’s interesting that something I did so many years ago came back. Even more recently I did two animated movies (one being “Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists”) and even though it was all computer it was the same process where we did a lot of rotoscoping and cell animation. But what you’re really doing is taking two items and putting them together. You’re taking live action and animation and putting them together. It’s the same with CGI, only it’s a little more trickier today. We used blue screen then. Today it’s green screen. We rotoscoped more then but today with CGI you can just blot things out… you don’t have to worry about the background so much. So the same technology applied to “Close Encounters” as to how we were going to put the spaceships in with the front projection. You’re still laying two elements on top of each other, but now you can layer multiple elements because you don’t lose generation. In fact, when we did “Close Encounters” we shot all of the effects in 65 mm so even though we lost a generation we’d be down to 35 mm so you wouldn’t get the degration in the film quality. And that’s the key. Of course, today, with digital, you don’t have to worry about it. When we did “Forbidden Planet,” we wanted to separate the animation…the cell animation with ink and paint…so we rendered everything on paper and we photographed it with the three color strips. So we never got that hard line of animation. We got a more realistic look.

MS: Like most people, I applauded at the end of “Jaws” when the shark is destroyed. But “Close Encounters” was actually the first film that I actually applauded when it ended. The mothership takes off, there is a few moments of silence and you’re sitting there stunned. And then “Directed by Steven Spielberg” hit the screen and the theater literally exploded. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. No matter how many times I watch it I still remember that moment.

JA: Which versions have you seen? All of them? (note: After the success of the film, Spielberg convinced the studio to finance a “Special Edition,” which allowed viewers to journey inside the mothership. Unfortunately, some of the funnier scenes from the original were edited out in this version. The recent 30th anniversary DVD release includes three versions of the film: the 1977 original, the 1980 special edition and a new version combining the 1977 original with five scenes from the Special Edition)

MS: I’ve seen all of them. I remember the original, we stood in line a total of six hours opening night between waiting to buy my ticket and then waiting to get into the auditorium. Getting back to the audience reaction, even though you worked on the film did you have the same kind of reaction when you finally saw the completed film?

JA: Oh yeah. You have all the elements. When you’re working on a film you see the dailies. Of course you don’t see them with music or with the color timing and the sound effects. And you don’t see them in continuity. So we’d see pieces of stuff. And then Doug’s (Trumbull) stuff came in so much later after we’d finished shooting. We were supposed to release “Close Encounters” before “Star Wars.” We were supposed to release it in late April but Doug didn’t get his stuff finished in time. And so we didn’t release until November. And we lost a little bit of impact because “Star Wars” had come out and blown everybody away with the visual effects. And I think because of the delay we lost the Academy Award for visual effects and art direction. I won the British Academy Award against “Star Wars.” A group of Brits, which was sort of interesting. Even Lucas, who came on our set, was blown away. He was like, “God, we never did anything like this…on this scale. We just did little sets and painted them. Most of it was visual effects.” But they were both well done and credible movies. To answer your question, I wasn’t happy with what Steven did later with the special edition.

MS:Thank you.

JA:I didn’t think there was a reason to go into the space ship.

MS:Thank you.


MS:Thank you.

JA:To me it looked like a Holiday Inn I stayed at in Atlanta. You walk in and see all of these floors going up and I just didn’t know what the heck he was doing.

MS: And then they throw confetti on you.

JA: Yeah. I don’t know why but Steven went through a strange period where he kept redoing things. I don’t know why he did that…I just don’t have a clue. Because the ending was the end. There was nothing left to explain. In fact, I don’t even know why he did the last alien coming out. After I finished Steven kept redoing things. Rimbaldi (Carlo Rimbaldi, who designed the main alien for “CE3K” as well as the title creature in “Alien”) created that special alien which was really against what we had originally thought about. In the beginning we had thought about these really playful childlike aliens, which is why we used all these little kids. At one time we had them flying around all over the place touching people. It was a very scary looking alien which was contrary to what the little childlike aliens represented. That’s just my feeling about it. Some directors get to re-cut a movie because they get prestigious enough that they can release the cut that they wanted and not the one the studio wanted. But that wasn’t the case of “Close Encounters.” It was a movie that Steven couldn’t finish. You know what I mean?

MS:Sure. I mean, with Columbia needing the money at the time, “Close Encounters” was it’s big Christmas picture and they HAD to release it then. “Jaws” was delayed during shooting due to the many problems with the mechanical shark, yet you still turned out a pretty good movie. Did the knowledge that “Jaws” did so well despite problems make it easier on the “CE3K” set when the effects weren’t finished in time or you had to deal with unexpected delays?

JA: Not really, since most of Trumbull’s stuff was post production. I was on the film for almost a year before we started shooting. What Trumbull did on the first unit photography was get involved when we did the front projection in the hangar. The set was 450 feet long. When we shot over the set the front projection was important. There was a mountain that we called the “notch.” When Neary and Jillian climb up to the top of a knoll and look down and see the arena, I built that big rock they stand on. It was about seven stories high and was on big rollers. So when they climbed up, what they saw…what we see…is a front projection shot of the main set. We shot the main shots of the arena, with everybody walking around, in 65 mm. and then projected them. Doug was involved with that and with the shots of cars going off the road, things like that. So there wasn’t a lot of delays. After we wrapped principal photography we went back to L.A. and shot some more stuff there. A couple months later, after I was already working on “Jaws 2,” they shot a few more effects sequences, but the effects didn’t really delay principal photography at all.

MS: My understanding is that when Zanuck/Brown asked Spielberg to direct “Jaws 2” he agreed with the provision he be given another six months to finish “CE3K” before he started production. Did he ever bring up “Jaws 2” to you?

JA: Roy (Scheider) didn’t want to do “Jaws 2” but he was under contract. (Note: After “Jaws,” Scheider signed a three picture deal with Universal. His first film was William Friedkin’s “Sorcerer.” Film number two was supposed to be “The Deer Hunter.” However, after the script changed Scheider dropped out and was replaced by Robert DeNiro. Anxious for some continuity between the films, Universal offered to count Roy’s contract as fulfilled if he did “Jaws 2”). I think Richard (Dreyfuss) refused to be involved in it. And Zanuck/Brown, who were the hottest producers in Hollywood at the time with “The Sting” and “Jaws,” had asked me to work on “Jaws 2” and also be an associate producer of theirs, which was sort of prestigious at the time because they didn’t have associate producers like they do today and Zanuck and Brown never did. The also wanted me to direct the 2nd unit. So I went to Steven and he said, “I’d really like you to do “1941.” And he offered me the same thing Zanuck/Brown did. So I said OK but then he said he didn’t have a deal yet. And in Hollywood that’s sort of an awkward thing. You don’t turn down a sure film for a maybe. And I told Steven that I’d rather stick with him but I went on to do “Jaws 2.” And after the 2nd or 3rd week of shooting, they fired the director (John Hancock) and talked about canceling the picture. They asked me if I would go to Steven and show him the sketches I’d done and see if he would do “Jaws 2.” He said he’d consider it but wanted a million dollars and a big percentage and they said “no way.” So I’m working on “Jaws 2” when “Close Encounters” comes out. When I came back to California he asked me again to work on “1941.” He wanted to get rid of the production designer but I wasn’t comfortable. Then Steven went off to do “Raiders” and had to use a primarily British crew. He eventually started using different people which was fine because I wanted to direct.

MS:Which brings me to my next question. As the director of “Jaws 3-D,” was the original concept of the film to be presented in 3-D or was that developed later?

JA: I was in Japan working on a film called “The Ninja” for Zanuck/Brown. Marvin Davis bought 20th Century Fox studios, it was a Fox movie, and ended up canceling most of the films that hadn’t started shooting. So I came back to Hollywood and Verna Fields (the Oscar-winning film editor of “Jaws,” later an executive at Universal) called me and said, “you know, they’re doing “Jaws 3″ and they’re making a mess. They’ve got a dumb script and Zanuck/Brown don’t want anything to do with it. I really think you should get involved. They’ve got a TV producer who bought the rights doing it.” So I went to see Alan Landsberg and he asked if I wanted to produce it. I said no, I’d already done that. I directed 100 days of the 2nd unit on “Jaws 2” and I’d be interested in directing it. He said he’d think about it and asked if I’d work with Richard Matheson, the writer, and see what develops. Richard and I were scouting theme parks because the film was written with a Sea World type theme park environment. And while we were at a park in Florida we saw an exhibit of underwater 3-D photography. And I just loved it, the depth of it. It really bothered me that we were doing a “3.” There weren’t really a lot of “3’s” out there, maybe “Rocky III,” people weren’t as gracious to sequels at that time, which has really changed in recent years. Then it just hit me…JAWS…3…D. That would take the onus off of the “3.” So I made a sketch of the shark coming at us and put “3-D” around it and he liked it and said to take the idea to Sid Sheinberg (the head of Universal at the time). Sid said “this is great, let me show it to Wasserman (Universal/MCA big man Lew Wasserman). So now Universal was very interested in the project. So now I’m going to direct it and I discover that there is no new 3-D equipment…nothing since “Bwana Devil” in the 1950s. So we had to make new cameras. So, no, it didn’t start off as “Jaws 3-D.”

MS: Another film you designed the look for was John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York.” I recently saw “I Am Legend” and couldn’t help but notice a great similarity between their futuristic view of Manhattan and yours, especially in the night scenes. Is it a good feeling to know that your work is still influencing filmmakers a quarter century later?

JA: “Escape” was a very interesting movie. It was a low budget film and my agency was also the agency for John and Debra (the late Debra Hill, Carpenter’s producer). I had just gone through some unfortunate things. I was going to direct a big budget Formula One racing movie. We had scouted locations and were ready to go but then the financing fell apart so the picture wasn’t made. My agent called me and said he had the young filmmakers of “Halloween.” They were going to make a bigger movie and he thought they could use my help. So it turned out to be a good thing. The film’s look was well received by the critics.

MS:This past summer I was on Martha’s Vineyard and Edith Blake (local photographer/journalist who wrote a book detailing the making of “JAWS”) showed me some photos she had taken during the early production days of “Jaws 2” when John Hancock was still on board. The town looked deserted and the mood was pretty dark. How much of the film’s tone changed when Jeannot Szwarc took over?

JA: A lot. John’s concept, and one Jeannot held onto for awhile, was to make a very depressing movie…the shark had put everything into the depths of hell. The economy died because no one was visiting the beaches anymore. It was maybe a little over the top…the colors we had were very somber. Zanuck was never really happy with that concept anyway so when Jeannot came in we threw it out and made it so three years had passed and everything was back together except for Brody, who was paranoid. So we just played on Roy’s paranoia, that the shark was always out there and people were just ignoring it and the kids were having fun. So definitely a big concept change.”

MS:Looking back on “Night Gallery,” was Rod Serling as brilliant in person as he was in his writing?

JA:He was an extremely nice guy. We would see Rod every once in awhile when he would come in to film the introductions. He was a very, very positive guy. I liked him a lot. He was very complimentary to us in the art department…what we were doing visually. He’d always say “you guys are terrific.” Which was very uplifting for me being one of the younger guys on the crew.

MS:I must confess that one of my favorite Elvis films is “Change of Habit.”

JA:Are you serious?

MS:Yes. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the whole “rage reduction” scene. Did you get a chance to talk with him?

JA:Elvis was not the friendliest of guys. He was not very well prepared and Mary Tyler Moore was always sort of pissed at him because he didn’t know his lines. When I worked on “Freejack” with Mick Jagger, Mick was very friendly. Elvis was constantly guarded by his entourage. I know he came off like a warm person but he was pretty well guarded so you didn’t have a chance to hang with him. He would be with his entourage, come on the set, do his lines and then head back to his trailer. Even his fellow actors felt distant from him.

MS:Finally, what’s next for you? When we spoke earlier you were preparing to give a seminar in Denmark.

JA: I’m going to Denmark. A film composer there met a friend of mine and started naming off some of his favorite films and somehow my name came up. My friend told him he had gone to school with me and had played in my band. So here’s a guy in Copenhagen that had played trumpet for me 50 years ago talking to a composer who knows my name. The composer came over here to look for work and we met and he said, boy, it would be great if you could come do a seminar in Denmark. So he contacted the film institute there and they asked if I could come so I’m going to go do an eleven hour lecture, which is going to be a handful. I’ll probably do a day on “Jaws” and a day on “Close Encounters.” I did a five-hour lecture in Kuala Lampoor, Malaysia, a few years ago, so I think I’ll be OK.

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