Friday, September 26, 2008

Night of the Lepus

I'm watching Night of the Lepus on TCM. I remember seeing this when it was new in 1972. Time hasn't improved it. This movie was the tail-end of the giant animal horror movies that began with Them (1954).

Them was very good of type. The special effects were well done for the time and the script was well-written. Them was about a colony of giant ants. They were introduced slowly in the dessert. This colony wasn't difficult to take care of once the leads knew what they were fighting. The problem was that a few queens got away leading to a world-wide ant-hunt. The last of the queens turned up in LA in the sewers where the army had to go in and fight them.

Other giant-animal movies followed. The Beginning of the End had praying mantises attacking Chicago. Obviously, Tarantula featured a giant spider.

Lepus went for something completely different. Where other movies took insects which are already strange and alien, this took something harmless and cute. Lepus is Latin for Rabbit. The monsters in the movie were giant, carnivorous bunny rabbits.

The cast was first-rate with Stuart Whitman and Janet Leigh plus a post-Star Trek DeForest Kelley.

The special effects were... well, not so special. They mainly used close-up shots of rabbits to make it seem like the bunnies were large. They also had a fake rabbit that would only be seen for an instant when a rabbit was hopping on someone to bite their throat out.

I'm not sure why the rabbits turned carnivorous but it was crucial to the plot. Without the occasional bunny-slaying accompanied by bright red blood, the rabbits weren't any more menacing than a herd of buffalo. Given how slow they looked, a buffalo stampede would probably cause more damage.

The script didn't help a bit. No one seemed skeptical, or even surprised at the idea of giant rabbits. Near the end of the movie they need to lure the rabbits onto an electrified train track. Someone runs up to a drive-in theater and announces that a pack of giant rabbits in on the loose and no one questions it for a moment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Mark Hamill

The man who was Luke Skywalker turns 57 today.

Hamill got his role in Star Wars mainly because he could say the rather pretentious lines like he believed them. He describes himself as just a fanboy who got lucky.

His voice work goes back to 1973 when he did a few episodes of Scooby-Doo but it really took off after he played the Trickster on the short-lived live-action Flash. Until then people still typecast him as a hero but his version of the Trickster was so over-the-top that he was cast as the Joker for the animated Batman. He continues to be the voice of the animated Joker along with a long list of other voicework.

In 2004, Hamill and some fellow voice artists improvised a movie at the San Diego Comic Convention. It was entitled Comic Book the Movie and I swiped it for the name of this blog.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Save Superman's Birthplace

Auction raises cash for Superman's Ohio birthplace

An online auction began Tuesday to raise money to restore the inner-city house where the idea for the Superman character was conceived.

Two high school boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, hatched the idea of the man who could bend steel with his bare hands in 1933. Hattie and Jefferson Gray have owned the home and lived there for more than two decades, tolerating unexpected visits by Superman fans.

Auction organizers hope the sale will raise at least $50,000 to fix the roof, replace rotting wood siding and repaint the house, with anything left over going toward upkeep and future repairs.

(AP) Superman memorabilia is shown in the front windows of the boyhood home of the superhero's creator...
Full Image
Among the items to be auctioned during September will be a T-shirt signed by Siegel, a walk-on role on television's "Heroes," and original art by Jim Lee, Murphy Anderson, George Perez, Tim Sale and others. Lee's drawing offer drew a $710 bid on Tuesday.

The Cleveland-based Siegel and Shuster Society and novelist Brad Meltzer's charity - Ordinary People Change the World - will run the four weeklong auctions of about 12 items at a time.

The Grays recently agreed to give the Siegel and Shuster Society first rights to buy the house at fair market value when they decide to sell it.

Richard Pace, chairman of the society, said it's important the old Siegel home be preserved.

"It's also great to see that we're finally recognizing the creativity of Siegel and Shuster and what they did to create Superman," he said. "We must save the house for future generations so people can take their kids to see it and be inspired to create something on their own."

Hattie Gray said she's excited about the start of the auction and what it will mean for her house. She also gets a big kick out of all the attention the home has received.

Meltzer's novel, "The Book of Lies," partially takes place at the Siegel house. Over the past several weeks, Tom Batiuk's "Funky Winkerbean" comic strip has been set in the house, with a "Superman" writer visiting the home for inspiration.