Tom Dunlop talks about “Jaws”, Martha Vineyard and his latest book “The Chappy Ferry Book”

A couple of years ago, on my 50th birthday, one of my best “Jaws” buddies presented me with a photograph from “Jaws 2” autographed by one of the film’s then-teenage stars, Tom Dunlop. Less then a year later I had the great opportunity to meet Mr. Dunlop while on a visit to Martha’s Vineyard, where he lives. In our brief conversation I learned that he had followed his love for writing into adulthood and had written a couple of books related to the Vineyard and was finishing up a third. This summer I visited the island again and picked up his latest book, an in depth and entertaining look at the Chappy Ferry, the barge/boat combination that takes pretty much anything you could imagine the short distance from Edgartown to the small island of Chappaquiddick. While celebrating the release of the book Mr. Dunlop took the time to chat with Media Mikes about acting (he’s Julliard trained), the island he loves and how piloting the Ferry isn’t as easy as it looks.

Mike Smith: You originally began a career as an actor — what made you pursue writing?
Tom Dunlop: In a way, I began doing both at about the same time, but writing actually came first.

As a summer kid on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1970s, I took an interest in the Vineyard Gazette, the weekly paper not far from my home in Edgartown, and when I was fourteen I got my first summer job cleaning up the back shop after printing days. I made five bucks a week! I told Dick and Jody Reston, the publishers, that I liked reading newspapers – the Gazette especially – and wanted to learn how to write for it. They started giving me press releases to re-write and actual stories to cover. I got my first front page by-line in the Gazette when I was fifteen. It was a story about the Edgartown Regatta. Never in my life had I known a thrill like holding a paper with my story on the front page, and my name at the start!

Though I wanted to act very much, I only started performing in plays during my sophomore year in high school, because the schools I went to before that had almost nothing in the way of drama programs. My father was an English teacher at a boarding school in northern Virginia, and every six weeks or so the whole student body would travel by bus into Washington, D.C. to see plays at Arena Stage and what is now known as the Shakespeare Theater. My mom, dad, and I went on these theater trips too, and I fell in love with those great city theaters. Everything I did in school after that – and I was fortunate to go to some very good schools: Taft, Brown, the Juilliard Drama Division – was meant to prepare me to be a member of an acting company like Arena’s.

“JAWS 2” was something of a detour. I just lucked into that part. Though I was at Taft, my home was now Edgartown, and as school was coming to an end that spring, the “JAWS 2” company was looking for a kid who could sail an old-fashioned sailboat called a Herreshoff 12½. My stepfather owned the first H-12½ in the harbor. So I’d had some practice sailing it, and convinced Shari Rhodes (the casting director) and Dorothy Tristan (the screenwriter at that point) that I was the only kid in town who knew the boat well enough to do the job. It wasn’t true, but I was a good enough actor to convince them! As much of an adventure as shooting that movie was, it didn’t dissuade me from wanting to act full time on stage. So that’s what I studied and trained for, and those were the sorts of acting jobs I pursued for about twelve years after graduating from Juilliard in 1988. I loved the theater work when I landed it. But while I was preparing for a life in a repertory company, going from play to play to play within one theater, the theaters themselves were disbanding their companies, hiring actors only on an as-needed bases. Under those circumstances, I never worked as consistently as I wanted or needed to.

So it was a really lucky break that I never lost my love for journalism, because when I decided to close out my acting career in 2000, all sorts of new opportunities were waiting for me on the Vineyard: the managing editorship – and briefly the editorship – of Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, feature stories to write for the paper and the magazine – and now, incredibly, books about the most amazing businesses on Martha’s Vineyard!

MS: What was it about the Chappy ferry that made you want to write about it?
TD: I fell for the Chappy ferry when I was four years old. On a stormy June day, my parents took me down to see it, and I remember rounding the corner on Dock Street and seeing this matchbox sized ferry – the original ON TIME – shoveling its way across the harbor entrance, white water spraying over its deck. (NOTE: Fans of the film “Jaws” will recognize the ON TIME as the ferry on which Brody is browbeaten into keeping the beaches open for the Fourth of July) You know how some people fixate on rockets when they first see them? Or muscle cars? Or thrillers about a shark menacing an island off the coast of southern New England? Right there and then, I fixated on the Chappy ferry pretty much like that.

To me, it’s an utterly unique enterprise – more than two hundred years old as a service, yet doing pretty much exactly the same thing it was doing the first time a guy rowed some other guy across the harbor for a penny or two. That sense of a history living on into my own time thrills me completely. I also admire the seamanship of the captains and deckhands, who drive these things at right angles to all the traffic they encounter at one of the narrowest, busiest, and most tide swept places in the whole harbor. You just can’t believe some of the weather they sail through, especially in the winter. Imagine a blizzard. And imagine that ferry sailing through it all day or all night. Because that’s what it does, almost no matter the weather. It takes a huge, truly dangerous storm to stop the ferry from running.

Most of all, though, I wanted to write about it because I knew from a very young age, exploring the files at the Vineyard Gazette and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, that no one had ever told the whole story before. The fact that I’d get to be the very first guy to do that for a ferry I adore simply blew me away. I often say I’m the luckiest writer on Martha’s Vineyard for the stories I’ve gotten to tell. But sometimes I think I’m the luckiest writer anywhere.

MS: This is your third book centered around/on Martha’s Vineyard. What is it about the island that inspires you?
TD: A wonderful question!

Some of it is obvious. If you watch “JAWS,” and if you’ve visited it before, you know that nothing else looks quite like it. Not even Nantucket or Cape Cod, which are both right next door. There’s a powdery quality to the light that softens and deepens everything it touches on the Vineyard, a phenomenon I notice every day. Even when it’s stormy, or brisk and cold, there’s something about the light over the Island that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

I love the history of the Vineyard. Outside of a city like Boston or New York, you’d be very hard to find anyplace else in the continental United States with an older or better-documented history than Martha’s Vineyard. The white men and women who settled this place in 1642 were compulsive record keepers and historians; they wrote down everything — in letters, journals, whaling logs, deeds, wills, club minutes, store ledgers, diaries, weather records, newspapers. You get to see the history of this place from all these parallax views, so that it feels as alive and present-day as any history can possibly be.

Finally the answer comes down to the stories I’ve gotten to tell. If you look at the book I wrote with photographer Alison Shaw about Morning Glory Farm, or the one about the building of the schooner REBECCA at the Gannon and Benjamin wooden-boat building yard in Vineyard Haven, or the new ferry book, you come to the very quick and certain conclusion that there’s no place on earth quite like this one. There’s no other place with a collection of businesses quite like these, which – to the people who run them – amount to causes. These are callings that most people would never feel, let alone dream up, establish, invest in and run with everything they’ve got, unless they realized that they were already fortunate enough to live in the only place on earth that could welcome and support them all.

MS: Have you ever had the opportunity to pilot the Ferry?
TD: Another great question!
Yes. Three or four times with an increasingly cocky belief that nothing could be easier. And then, just once, with such incompetence and fright that I vowed never to try it again. Some years ago, I wrote a feature story about the ferry for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine…in fact, the idea to write a book came from reporting and writing that story in 2007. The editor of the magazine, Nicki Miller, and the art director, Alley Moore, challenged me to try skippering the ferry myself, and we ran that story as a sidebar headlined “How Hard Could It Be?”

The captains were very kind to let me try it. It was winter, so we held off until those crossings when there were no other passengers or cars aboard and no other boats sailing into or out of the harbor. I stood up on the platform at the helm, the console right in front of me, looked left and right, saw no traffic, and pushed the throttle down. The ferry left the Chappy slip smoothly and growled her way reliably across the channel toward Edgartown. The only trick to it, really, is that there is a toggle rather than a steering wheel. You goose it left or right to turn the boat. And though the toggle snaps back to an upright position when you let it go, the rudder below you stays where you angled it. So the ferry keeps turning until you toggle the rudder back to center.
I confess this took a little getting used to. The first time, approaching the Edgartown slip, I noticed the bow swinging off to one side at the last minute, and though I reversed hard, I pretty much T-boned the end of the bulkhead on the right side as you face the ramp. But even though the slip appears to get narrower and narrower as you glide toward it, I began to get a feel for it. As I say, on my third or fourth crossing, I was sure I had the whole thing down. Really… How Hard Could It Be?

Until. . . .

Until one windy night at the end of April of that year, after a storm tore through South Beach at the far end of the harbor, opening it to the Atlantic. It was the first time I tried driving the ferry at night, and the first time I’d attempted to drive it in the ferocious, tsunami-like currents that had begun rolling through the harbor entrance as a result of the second, new opening to the ocean.
The captain let me take her out of the Chappy slip and the second we got into the channel, I felt the tide bang into the hull, almost like we’d hit a wall. Leaving the slip, I had a good sense of what the lights looked like over on the Edgartown side, and thus what to aim for. But as I gunned the engine and looked ahead, I realized that those weren’t the lights I was seeing, because the tide had pushed the bow of the ferry almost 45 degrees to the right, toward the Harbor View Hotel.

Further off to my right, I caught a glimpse of the flashing Edgartown lighthouse – that couldn’t possibly be right! The ferry never pointed in that direction except in “JAWS: THE REVENGE,” and we know how that turned out. I felt a wave of fear rise up – where were we exactly? What was I pointing at? I had millions of dollars of ferryboat beneath my feet. Was I about to hit something? I’d lost my bearings, and in my confusion, I pushed the toggle in the wrong direction. Instead of swinging back in the right direction, we kept turning . To make a very long story short, had you been standing on the upper deck of Memorial Wharf that windy night, looking across to Chappy, what you would have seen was the ferry leaving the Chappy slip, sailing properly toward you for perhaps three seconds, and then veering away toward the lighthouse. And then continuing to turn. Inexplicably, you’d have seen the ferry make a complete circle in the middle of the harbor entrance before finally putting her nose back in the general direction of the Edgartown slip. And finding her way there, against all odds.

I say with the deepest gratitude imaginable that Maddie LeCoq, the captain at the time, took over and put the ferry in the slip for me. Had she not assumed command, the headline would have read something like this: AMITY KID WRECKS CHAPPY FERRY / WELDON BOY “NOT GOOD ENOUGH” RIGHT TO THE VERY END. (NOTE: while some of you are reading this headline and scratching your head, fans of “Jaws 2” are giggling uncontrollably. “Weldon” was Dunlop’s character’s last name in the film).

MS: What are you working on now?
TD: Peter Wells, co-owner of the ferry with his wife Sally Snipes, wants to build a third ferry so that he always has at least two in the water, ready to work at a moment’s notice, all year-round. Peter is a far-sighted, environmentally conscious guy, and it’s his ambition to build and run the third ferry on an electric motor only. This would be a huge development in the world of commercial boating – very few operators have dared to make that leap. If Peter does this, John Wilson, who produced “THE CHAPPY FERRY MOVIE,” a wonderful short film of the ferry that comes with the book on DVD, wants to make a documentary about the building and launching and operation of this new ferry. And I want to help him do it. We think such a film would go a long way to showing how far electric motors have come, and how reliably clean, efficient, and durable they can be, even when put to the test that the ferry would surely give them.

Also, for the Vineyard Gazette, John and I are working on another project, whereby we’re finding old movies of the Vineyard – mostly home movies, but some commercial ones too – and converting them to digital files. We’re going to tell the stories of what these movies show of the old Vineyard, show clips from them on the new Gazette web site, and begin to create an archive so that these irreplaceable films are not lost to neglect or ignorance.

If the above interview has whetted your appetite for the magic of Martha’s Vineyard, Media Mikes recommends the following books written by Tom Dunlp and featuring illustrative photographs by Alison Shaw:


They are available at, your local book store and


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DVD Review “Tom and Jerry: Tricks & Treats”

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Running Time: 161 minutes.

Tom and Jerry are back and this time they are in store for spooks galore in this monster collection of 20 eerie episodes plus two bonus episodes. “Tricks & Treats” is non-stop cat-mouse run ranging from ancient Egypt to Transylvania and from creepy houses to haunted forests. The duo are at their best delivering non-stop hilarity mixed with ghosts, mummies, werewolves and witches throughout these terrific episodes. If you are looking for something to get the whole family in the mood for Halloween, this is the release to pick-up for sure.

What I liked most about these episodes is that they are all shorts and are just enough to keep your attention. I also like the mix of classic and new adventures, like past Tom and Jerry releases. Just because they are short though, don’t take that literally there is almost three episodes of great episodes here. “Touché Pussy Cat!” is one of my favorites and always gets a good laugh. “Invasion of the Body Slammers” and “Spook House Mouse” are also two more of my favorite episodes. As I get older, these amazing character always manage to entertain and just prove how timeless they are.

Here is a complete list of episodes included:More Powers to You, Over the River and Boo!, The Woods, Fire Breathing Tom Cat, Touché Pussy Cat!, The Flying Sorceress, Tiger Cat, Robin Hoodwinked, Jerry’s Cousin, Invasion of the Body Slammers, Haunted Mouse, Trap Happy, Spook House Mouse, Bats What I Like About the South, Fraidy Cat Scat, Which Witch, Monster Con, Tomb It May Concern, Power Tom, The Itch, Hi Robot.


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Blu-ray Review “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Alpha”

Directed by: Herve de Crecy, Francois Alaux
Starring: Radek Bruna and Mark Ivanir
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Distributed by: New Video
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Running Time: 25 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

A live-action “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” film…where do I sign up. This film is a sharp and fantastic attempt to showcase the charm of this series. The only bad thing about short film is that it is a ‘short film’, I would have loved to seen this go feature length. This film will be put out to time with the release of Ubisoft’s “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier” video game for Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. The film is produced by Little Minx aka Ridley Scott, so you know that you are not getting some cheesy low-budget action. This film contains some great action and impressive CGI. New Video also released last year the brilliant “Assassin’s Creed: Lineage”, live-action prequel as well. What’s next guys? We want more!!??

If you are aware of the “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” franchise, you will know that the ghosts are the world’s most highly trained and lethal soldiers. This film is a specifically a prequel to the new video game “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier”. It focuses on what happens when the Ghosts are dropped behind behind lines in hopes to eliminate one of the world’s biggest terrorists. This film also boasts the amazing cinematography from Trent Opaloch, known best for his work on “District 9”.

This release not only comes with a Blu-ray disc but also a DVD disc as well. The video looks great in its high-def 1080p transfer. The audio is also very impressive and packed with a fantastic score. There are only two special features but they are very impressive and worth the purchase of this film alone. There is 30 minute making-of featurette, which is longer than the film itself and really dives into all aspects including the special effects, the production and even the score. Lastly there is the 2010 Comic-Con teaser included. If you are fan of the series, this is a must purchase.

DVD Review “Tom and Jerry: Around the World”

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Running Time: 170 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Watching Tom and Jerry cartoons is something I can just never turn down.  With this new DVD collection of episodes, it focuses on an “Around the World” theme.  Although it isn’t just traveling without our planet, there is a lot of adventures in outer space as well, which I enjoyed.  With the 22 episodes included, there is plenty of fun and crazy antics going on between our famous feline and mouse.

This collection like past ones are a mix of classic and new episodes.   Tom and Jerry cartoons are just so timeless that this show will never not be relevant.  Especially with the new “The Looney Tunes Show”, I would love to see a new reboot of “Tom and Jerry” as well. I love the fact that Warner Home Video has continuously been releasing these in themed packages.  I am curious to see what they are going to come up with next.

The episodes included are:  “Way-Off Broadway”, “Martian Mice”, “Medieval Menance”, “Abracadumb”, “The Million Dollar Cat”, “Din-O-sores”, “Invasion of the Body Slammers”, “I Dream of Meanie”, “Neapolitan Mouse”, “Kitty Hawked”, “Flamenco Fiasco”, “You’re Lion”, “Kangadoofus”, “Monkey Chow”, “Freaky Tiki”, “Monster Con”, “Royal Cat Nap”, “Spaced Out Cat”, “The Two Mouseketeers”, “Tom & Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl”, “Johann Mouse” and “Treasure Map Scrap”.

Premise: Tom and Jerry travel the globe by land, sea, and air in this collection of 22 hilarious adventures. From Broadway to outer space, hitch a ride with your favorite cat and mouse for non-stop fun and action. Whether the furry duo is running from an erupting volcano on a tropical island or conducting an orchestra in Hollywood, you can count on laughs the whole way. Sword fights, magic spells, and treasure maps fill these delightful escapades and will have you climbing on board for more expeditions. So grab your luggage and bring the entire family along for a boisterous trip around the world and beyond.

Tom and Jerry: Around the World available on DVD 5/1
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Tom Hiddleston talks about playing Loki in “Marvel’s The Avengers”

Tom Hiddleston is known best for his role of Loki in “Thor” and the upcoming “The Avengers”. Media Mikes was able to attend a recent press conference and got a chance to ask Tom a few questions about the role and also what we can expect from “The Avengers”.

Mike Gencarelli: Loki traditionally doesn’t have as cool of a signature weapon as most of the super-heroes out there. What prop or weapon from the “Avengers” were you jealous of?
Tom Hiddleston: Well, if you’ve seen the new trailer, I do get to play with a rather wonderful toy in the film. But there was one day on the set when I managed to get a hold of Captain America’s shield and I went parading around with it. One of the producers stopped me and asked, “What are you doing with that?” (laughs)

Q: If you could put together your own team of super-heroes – let’s say – super-villains, who would be your evil super friends if you could choose from any characters in literature, comics, movies, etc
TH: Hmmmmmm (thinking) A little bit of help from Darth Vader, if I might. Hans Gruber from “Die Hard.” Scar from “The Lion King.” Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2” – the T-1000. Probably Schwarzenegger from “Terminator.” Iago, absolutely. That’s a pretty awesome group of people

Q: Since you brought it up, what was the “rather wonderful toy” you eluded to that you get to play with?
TH: It’s a kind of evolution of the staff that he played with at the end of “Thor.” But that’s Odin’s spear. So at the end of “Thor,” it’s Odin’s spear – this is his own makeshift staff of destruction.

Q: Will Odin be in “The Avengers?
TH: Odin won’t be in “The Avengers.”

Q: In the trailer it looks like all of the action takes place in New York. Is Loki coming to destroy New York or is he here to do damage on a global scale?
TH: Well, no…it’s not just one city. But inevitably Manhattan becomes the focus point, partly because that’s where Tony Stark lives. There’s one shot in the trailer where you can see, I think, the Quinjet flying towards Manhattan and in the middle of it is Stark Tower, which is in the fictitious world of the comics. Tony Stark has a huge interestingly-shaped tower opposite the Chrysler building, which is his base of operations. That’s where Stark Industries works out of. And so Stark Tower becomes a focus point for lots of reasons.

Q: What is Loki’s relationship with Stellan Skarsgård’s character in this movie?
TH: (laughing) This is where I can sense the red dot forming on my forehead. (laughs again) And the Marvel sniper in the corner on the roof over there — he’s got his eye on me. Working with Stellan…he’s amazing. He’s someone I’ve long admired as an actor. I really do think he’s an exceptional, exceptional actor and is really capable of bringing a level of complexity and truth to roles and performances which in another actor’s hands could seem dry or slightly invisible. So I loved working with him — he’s a real actor’s actor. He’s been doing it for so long. He plays the same character in “Avengers” that he played in “Thor”… Erik Selvig, who is a scientist. He’s employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. after his encounters with S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Thor,” to do some work for them. That’s all I can say.

DVD Review “Tom and Jerry: In the Dog House”

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Episodes: 22
Running Time: 162 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

There is just something simple and timeless about watching a short from Tom and Jerry. I grew up watching them and now approaching 30 years old, I am still extremely entertained watching them battle each other . This DVD includes over twenty exciting shorts which not only feature Tom and Jerry but also their dog counterpart Spike. Since this is called “In the Doghouse” a lot of shorts feature around the three of them. I say one thing to Warner Brothers…keep these coming!! Can’t wait for “Tom and Jerry: Around the World” on May 1, 2012.

The twenty two shorts includes in this collection are: 24 Karat Kat, Destruction, Junction, Beefcake Tom, Bend it Like Thomas, Tom’s Photo Finish, Game Set Match, Cat Napping, Cat Fishin’, The Bodyguard, Quiet Please!, Solid Serenade, Slicked-up Pup, Puttin’ on the Dog, The Framed Cat, Tot Watchers, The Invisible Mouse, Pet Peeve, Feeding Time, DJ Jerry, Beach Bully Bingo, A Life Less Guarded, The Dog House.

These shorts are fun for the whole family guaranteed. I did really enjoy the focus of this set with Spike and his son Tyke. I have always enjoyed his voice, especially since our stars Tm and Jerry remain silent (of course besides when singing). In this release their are classic episodes like “Cat Fishin'” and ” and “The Framed Cat”, as well as newer shorts like “24 Karat Kat” and “The Dog House”. Either way you look at it this is a winning collection.

Tom and Jerry: In the Dog House available on DVD 3/6 /zxsVYq” target=”_blank”>
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Tom and Jerry are at it again! But there’s a new ingredient to their classic chase recipe — just add Spike! It’s hound heaven as everyone’s favorite bulldog, Spike (and son, Tyke) get in on the fun in this pup-packed collection. These 22 doggie-delightful shorts are guaranteed to have fans howling! Join Spike and Tyke in their many dealings with the fast and furious duo. Whether he’s on guard duty, or simply trying to catch a nap, you can bet that Tom & Jerry’s fur-fueled antics are guaranteed to rattle Spike’s cage. And an angry Spike usually spells hard times for Tom — with a little coaxing from Jerry, of course! Leash-up for some K9-filled fun for the entire family!

Interview with Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan is the man responsible for the props and special effects for “The Evil Dead”. He also worked the stop motion animation work in “Evil Dead 2”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Tom about his work on the series and about his influences growing up.

Mike Gencarelli: Were you a fan of Ray Harryhausen and has he inspired your work?
Tom Sullivan: It all started for me…art, film…when I saw the original “King Kong” when I wa five years old. I thought if there were jobs that were this cool…(laughs) I hadn’t heard of Ray Harryhausen yet, or Willis O’Brien. I didn’t even know how they did the gorilla in the movie. My five year old thinking was that they had a lot of really strong gymnasts, really athletic people. But I knew it wasn’t a real animal. I had no clue about stop motion. And it wasn’t until the 3rd grade that Famous Monsters of Filmland came to my attention. It had stories about “King Kong” and Ray Harryhausen. Then I started seeing movies like “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad” and “Jason and the Argonauts.” And I thought, “oh, somebody carried this on. Somebody took the stop motion banner forward.” And Ray did that exceptionally. He was making the most remarkable special effects films over all of that time. Next to him were the occasional big studios films and then the George Pal films. Pretty much everybody else’s films were pretty lame. There was a filmmaker from Eastern Europe named Karel Zeeman, who was like the Willis O’Brien of, I think, Czechoslovakia. He did these most imaginative films that were just beautiful. Films like “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” and “Journey to the Beginning of Time,” which was about some kids taking a boat down a river. They start in almost an ice age, a glacier and the farther they go down the river the farther back in time they go. He filled the film with herds of dinosaurs and mammals and things like that. Eventually they hit the ocean. It’s a really creative film…lots and lots of mattes and stop motion. You can find them on DVD. “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne” is neat because the sets are a series of engraved drawings. You can see the lines drawn on it and it has this really charming take on it…the Victorian charm of manners and other things. But anyway I found those guys and just took off. Ray’s stuff was highly influential to me. I’d love to see that stuff come back. In reality, stop motion never died. It just took on new forms. Like the stop motion puppet films that Tim Burton produces. I think the new “Addams Family” film will be stop motion. Puppet films are doing great…they make money. But I’d like to see stop motion come back. Maybe pair it up with digital compositing. Digital compositing is the best thing out there. A lot of films have them. People driving around in cars or on trains, there’s a view out of a window. A lot of that is done with green screen because you can control things a lot better. Done correctly, with the time and talent and money, it’s nearly impossible to tell. Look at a Ray Harryhausen film. That’s one guy putting out five monsters for a movie. For the new “Clash of the Titans” film the credits went on for eight minutes because they had armies, literally hundreds of people doing that stuff. Each figure had to be constructed. Not just the sculpture but the muscles, textures, hair if it has it. They all have to be incorporated and animated in layers. You start with a guy with a stick figure animating that, and then someone adding on the layers of muscle and skin and clothing and hair and then you have the textures…lighting textures and skin textures. It really takes about 15 layers to do that. And with the video-assist in stop motion today you can actually see the stop motion growing as it progresses. Ray Harryhausen has turned out to be incredibly influential. Did you see the film “Monsters?” That’s a Harryhausen film. “Lord of the Rings?” That’s a Harryhausen film. “Cloverfield?” That’s a Harryhausen film. Just with some tweaks on it. “Godzilla” is a Ray Harryhausen film. The filmmakers wanted to match the success of “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.” That was the first one! Even though “King Kong” featured it, Ray Harryhausen made if a part of the landscape. The big monster on the loose thing. He did a couple of those. And he wrote some books for us film scholars…he spread the information he had gleaned.

MG: What was your inspiration for some of the props and special effects for “The Evil Dead”?
TS: Probably the Book of the Dead. In the script it was described as having an animal skin cover, which I took for leather. It was also described as having two letters from an ancient alphabet. To me I thought, no matter how scary I make those letters, it’s going to come off as a scrapbook. To me, as an illustrator, and I’m an artist first, you try to make something breathe. In that split second that it takes to identify what something is, at the moment your brain is processing it, you’ve got to make it simple so that all of the clues point to exactly what it is. And letters on a leather book they’re not…they’re not words. Like “TO SERVE MAN.” They’re not recognizable. They’re just symbols. And that really doesn’t speak much to me. If it’s a book of awful things, you should be able to just look at it and know you’re not going to pick it up…it’s too disgusting. My dad used to get SAGA and other men’s magazines that used to have all kinds of rancid stories in them. I’d sneak them from him. And one of them had a story about Ilse Koch, who was the wife of a concentration camp commandant. She was tried later in the Nuremberg Trials and executed, thankfully. But she would skin the prisoners and use the skins for curtains and lampshades and book covers. Needing to not just put somebody’s back on the book cover but a recognizable human feature, the story goes I didn’t want to put a schlong on the cover (laughs) so a human face seemed good. I’ve been looking and I’ve never found a book with a face as the cover. I’ve never seen any of Ilse’s books so I don’t know what she used. I’m not sure she used a face so I think we made that up. I did a slush mold of Hal Delrich’s face. I stretched it over some corrugated cardboard and instant book cover. I also got some store bought parchment…thick dyed paper…and I bound that together with grocery bag material. That became the book binding. I glued that in. Then for the next two weeks of filming, when I had finished up my other chores and done make up for people I’d sit around the kitchen table down in Tennessee and talk with Josh Becker, who was second unit camera. He helped with sound and lots of things. He’s really a film scholar and a film director now. We would talk about film and I would illustrate the book. I based the design on Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. It had some cool drawings and he would have his mirrored…reversed…lettering. He could right backwards so that you could only read it in a mirror. I should say here that the “Evil Dead” book does NOT contain any hidden messages. I call it sanscript or the font of the dead. The hidden messages didn’t come in until the Anchor Bay books, and that was a lot of fun. I designed them and illustrated them. And the eyes still scream on the “Evil Dead 2” book.

MG: You did more stop motion animation work in “Evil Dead 2.” Tell us about that process?
TS: “Evil Dead 2” was a much bigger film. The first was a little tiny thing. But the second one had like a $3 million budget and three stop motion crews. Sam actually gave me my choice of what I wanted to do. I thought stop motion was going to be the next big thing, not predicting digital at all. At the end of “Evil Dead 2” there’s a scene where this flying Deadite comes in and battles the soldiers on horseback and knocks them off. He then kills a couple of them. And the woman running with the child and it swoops down on her and then Ash shows up. The problem was I had prepared a list of dos and don’ts to shoot the background plates. My cameraman for the finale, Larry Larson, who had a lot of experience in this stuff, he and I put together a little list. I’m not sure what happened. Some of the things were “don’t put dust in the air” or “don’t kick smoke up, or as little as possible.” Because if you use that as the screen you project the image on to behind the puppet it would put the creature not on the plain behind the dust but in front of the dust, which would make it look smaller perspectively. But Sam wanted dust and he got these huge aircraft engines and ruined it! So there were just one or two shots that we could actually use for backgrounds. That was the reason I did the film and it goes by so fast people don’t even remember they saw it. I built, designed and animated the model. I even put little screws in the back attached to wires so I could animate various expressions. I didn’t get to use it because the whole sequence was truncated. But if you look closely in one of the profile shots when the Deadite is flying, in between one of the wing flaps you can see the face smile. On “Mighty Joe Young” Ray used to put clay over the lips to animate the lips moving…beautifully too. It was astounding how he did that.

MG: Would you say that “Army of Darkness” was the most difficult film to work on due to the large scale?
TS: Actually on “Army of Darkness” all they needed was an “Evil Dead 2” Book of the Dead. They had apparently lost the books, they never returned from “Evil Dead 2.” So I sent them one and a couple of months later I had to call and ask “where’s my money.” (laughs) The art director reminded them that Ash had to get sucked into a Book of the Dead and it had to be bigger than the “Evil Dead 2” book. So their art director just did a derivative copy of it. I hate the cover. But they needed a bigger book so that Ash could get sucked into it and then crawl out. But that’s the only film I actually got credit for the Book of the Dead on. They were kind of stingy on credits for “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead 2”, which is too bad because I could have used a career! (laughs)

MG: Tell us about your website, http://DARKAGEPRODUCTIONS.COM/?
TS: We don’t have a catalog yet. I’ve been an illustrator and have illustrated H.P. Lovecraft role-playing games for the past 18 years. I’ve got a terrific printer that prints archival paper with archival ink. Really beautiful, archival, will last hundreds of years prints. I make convention appearances and I take along some racks and lots of prints and props that I show off. I have fun meeting the fans. That’s the greatest reward out of all of this. Seeing the influence that films have on people…I never expected that. I mean I saw “King Kong” and wanted to make movies. And a convention doesn’t go by where I don’t meet someone who says “you know, I’m an artist because I saw your work.” Or a filmmaker or special effects guy. That’s really cool…really cool.

A Media Mikes exclusive:
Following the interview Mr. Sullivan said he had a little news that we could break for him:
Ryan Meade, a friend of Mr. Sullivan and a filmmaker, is finishing up a documentary film about Mr. Sullivan called “Invaluable.” The title comes from the word Fangoria Magazine has used to describe Mr. Sullivan’s involvement in the “Evil Dead” films. The film covers Mr. Sullivan’s art and film career and includes interviews with some of films biggest stars, including, of course, the cast and crew of the “Evil Dead” films. The film will also feature a lot of behind the scenes looks at the “Evil Dead” films.

DVD Review “Tom and Jerry: Fur Flying Adventures- Volume 3”

best slot sitesCartoons: 14 shorts
Distributed: Warner Brothers
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 100 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

There is always something about the gags, hijinks and mischief of Tom and Jerry.  The unspoken duo have always managed to make me smile and laugh out loud.  The “Fur Flying Adventures” collections are a great have included some of the great episodes and this volume is no exception. The humor of Tom and Jerry is so timeless and can be enjoyable through many generations and will hopefully live on for many many years to come.

The 14 episodes included are “Ah, Sweet Mouse-Story of Life”, “Bad Say at Cat Rock”, Jerry, Jerry, Quite Contrary, “Beach Bully Bingo”, “A Life Less Guarded”, “Northern Light Fish”, “Doggone Hill Dog”, “Love Me, Love My Mouse”, “Sasquahed”, “Shutter Bugged Cat”, “Snow Mouse”, “The Unshrinkable Mouse”, “Spook House Mouse”, and “Don’t Bring Your Pet to School Day”.  All of the episodes are great.  There is a mix of the old classics and some new updated ones as well.  Overall it is a great collection.

Synopsis: Take one blue and white domestic cat. Add one small brown house mouse. Mix in a handful of chases, stir in a few falling anvils and top off with one brutish bulldog named Spike. Yields 14 delightful cartoons! This fast and funny collection rises to the occasion with a crazy camping trip (Sasquashed), a chase through a carnival?s haunted house (Spook House Mouse), an Alaskan adventure (Northern Light Fish Fight) and an encounter with an abominable snow rodent (Snow Mouse).  But the most outrageous moment of all comes when Tom and Jerry set aside their differences and join forces against beach muscleheads Spike and Butch in Beach Bully Bingo. If you are looking to compare the best slot sites, you can have some endless fun as the main course served up in this new all-family feast of animated fun.

Related Content

EXCLUSIVE News: Tom Sullivan Get His Own “Evil Dead” Documentary, “Invaluable”

We recently interviewed Tom Sullivan known for his work on the “Evil Dead” series.  The full interview will be posted in mid-August during our “Evil Dead” interviews series, including Danny Hicks, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly and Timothy Quill.

Following our interview with Mr. Sullivan, he said  he had a little news that we could break for him as a MovieMikes exclusive:

Ryan Meade, a friend of Mr. Sullivan and a filmmaker, is finishing up a documentary film about Mr. Sullivan called “Invaluable.” The title comes from the word Fangoria Magazine has used to describe Mr. Sullivan’s involvement in the “Evil Dead” films. The film covers Mr. Sullivan’s art and film career and includes interviews with some of films biggest stars, including, of course, the cast and crew of the “Evil Dead” films. The film will also feature a lot of behind the scenes looks at the “Evil Dead” films.

Here is an official quote from Tom:
“It’s official. There’s a documentary about Tom Sullivan. The Evil Dead FX Guy, Tom Sullivan. Not the other ones. Although they would be worthy subjects of well made documtarys too. Except for maybe that one Tom Sullivan but we won’t talk about him. But it’s shaping up to be a lot of fun and I learned a lot about Tom Sullivan. The Evil Dead one. And it’s by Ryan Meade.”

Interview with G Tom Mac

Gerard McMahon aka G Tom Mac is the musician who sang the song “Cry Little Sister” from the 80’s classic film “The Lost Boys”. Since then Gerard has been had a bunch of albums and even scored some films. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Gerard to chat with him about his music and whats to come in the future.

Click here to purchase G Tom Mac’s music

Mike Gencarelli: You have been attending the convention circuit recently, how has it been getting out there and meeting your fans?
Gerard McMahon: I had been offered in past years to attend these conventions to sign autographs and perform. So in 2008, I thought “Why not”! I found it to be a brilliant experience and a way to have a closer relationship with my fans.  You tend to see the fans on going throughout the weekend during each convention. So yes it’s been great! I’ll do more in the future.

MG: It has almost been 25 years since “Cry Little Sister” was released, do you ever get tired of performing it?
GM: It’s always a new experience it seems anytime I perform “Cry Little Sister” live. It’s one of my songs that has a habit of feeling fresh to me still. There is nothing more inspiring then an audience singing the chorus along with me.

MG: How do you feel about the song being remade for “The Lost Boys 2”, which was recorded by Aiden?
GM: Well it’s always a gratifying feeling when another artist covers your song. However I didn’t like the “Lost Boys: The Tribe” film and I thought Aiden did a fair job with doing the cover. The whole thing just seemed cheap to me, from the movie to the song cover, just not the level of quality I set standards at. But thanks Aiden for putting more money in my bank!

MG: With all the various versions covered by various band, do you have a favorite?
GM: There are some cool versions out there, bits from Seasons After, the singers voice was cool. But I love how Eminem sampled it in “You’re Never Over” on his “Recovery” album, it’s nominated for a Grammy this year you know.

MG: Have you ever considered remaking the song yourself?
GM: I actually have made a few newer versions myself of “Cry Little Sister”. I did a version for the bonus DVD video of “Lost Boys: The Tribe”. Warner’s asked me if I would consider it, I did what I called a Cave Club version. It’s on my “Thou Shalt Not Fall” album. Another version is on my G Tom Mac album in 2000. There was also a dance version I agreed to do with Lost Brothers DJ in England that version was # 1 for 6 weeks in the UK.

MG: Besides “The Lost Boys”, what is your second favorite project to work on?
GM: Hmm, that is a good question. I love coming up with songs for the variety of TV shows that I’m fortunate to write for. It’s hard to say what’s my second favorite, I am writing a musical presently & that’s challenging. I have to say as long as it’s interesting & challenging I’m in!

MG: With your musical knowledge, have you ever considered scoring a movie?
GM: I have scored a few films, which people say I should do a lot more often. This year I scored the independent film “Emerging Past”.

MG: What else are you currently working on?
GM: I have a company with a partner who was the former President of Warner Pictures music, that we just started a year ago, designed to produce music driven film projects. We have two films going into production this year and a TV series in development. I’ll be doing a tour this summer around the globe in support of my new album releasing in June.

Click here to purchase G Tom Mac’s music