Hosting Horror

To me, as a kid, Saturday afternoon was a sacred time. I spent each Saturday from 1pm until 6pm watching Superhost Marty Sullivan show old horror and sci-fi movies from Cleveland, OH. In fact, I dare say it was a more religious experience to me than my Sunday mornings at church!

http://www.clevelandseniors.com/photos/marty-sullivan/superhost.jpg

As such, I have a great fondness for Horror Hosts and the Creature Feature programs they hosted. According to what I read, they were the result of packages of old B-Grade Horror Movies being sold to small and independent stations back in the day to pretty much act as filler content during lulls in programming. The problem was that these movies were all of odd lengths, and generally needed to be fit evenly with commercials into 2-3 hour blocks. So, they created Horror Hosts like Vampira (the first horror host was actually a Host-ess!) to fill in the gaps or occasionally narrate around edits for time when things needed to be shortened.

This evolution was chronicled in the documentary American Scary, which you can watch in full here:


American Scary by filmow

Each Horror Host had their own schtick and style, and there were a lot of them! Superhost was the one I actually watched on a regular basis because of his fondness for Japanese Giant Monster Movies, but I did occasionally watch Sir Graves Ghastly from Detroit if there was something he was showing I thought it was worth staying up for.


Most Hosts did extra comedy skits, and many of them became very famous local celebrities, often appearing at special events and doing charity work.

Oddly enough, Cleveland (which is right across Lake Erie from my own city of London, ON) was a hotbed for Horror Hosts, and the producer of one of the most famous- Ghoulardi. Ghoulardi was way before my time (1963-1966) but was so influential and popular that there’s even a convention in his honor held every year which attracts many fans of the genre. There was also an Emmy award-winning documentary made about him called Turn Blue, which you can also watch on Youtube…


Sadly, Horror Hosts seem to have been a uniquely American phenomenon (here’s a list of the Top 12), with the only non-American host I’ve been able to find being one in Australia. I tried to find examples of Canadian ones, but we don’t seem to have had any true ones. (I have heard there might have been one in Montreal, though.) They’re a cultural artifact which has mostly passed into history, as there are only a tiny handful of them left, mostly on local public access TV channels in the US. I’ve also heard there are a few modern Horror Hosts doing their thing on Youtube, but haven’t found any yet.

I’m not sure why they interest me so, I guess it’s just nostalgia as I get older. They’re an artifact of my childhood that I wasn’t aware was different while I was growing up, but are gone now that I’m old enough to appreciate them. Yeah, there’s Rifttracks and MST3K, but it’s not the same. I guess you just had to be there! 🙂

Stay Sick!

A few sites with more information:

http://www.horrorhostgraveyard.com/

http://myweb.wvnet.edu/e-gor/tvhorrorhosts//

http://www.horrorhostmagazine.com/

Phoning It In

I often think that we are merely becoming mobile data terminals, sub-cells of a greater internet brain that exist more in the virtual world more than we do the actual real and physical world. Perhaps this is irreverable and our destiny as a species, but it’s still sad to watch sometimes.

I’m as big a technology nerd as anyone, and I love my iPhone too, but there are times when I wonder if I’m not spending too much time interacting with media instead of people. What am I losing by putting my phone away and actually enjoying the company of those around me? Why do I always have to be entertained or occupied? Is it so hard to exist in the moment?

I grew up half of my life without the internet, but now it’s almost unfathomable for me to think about living without it. I can only imagine what it’s like for those who have grown up with it their whole lives, and in a personable and portable form that lets it be with them constantly in an everpresent way.

Some people in the comments on that video say that Google Glass will solve the problem, but I suspect its upcoming release will make things so much worse. Right now our phones are at least something that we physically have to take out and manipulate, but Google Glass will be always there, handsfree, and omnipresent.

http://www.imaging-resource.com/ee_uploads/news/811/google-glass-borg.jpg

For now, I do what I can. I try to do things in the real world when possible, and not always be listening or interacting with my phone. I try to enjoy the peace and quiet, and I try to be with the people I’m with. I don’t always succeed, but I feel I have to try. My technology should be something that I use as a tool, something that services me, not something I’m a slave to.

Balance in all things.

Rob

Stupid Indie Tricks- You’re holding your phone wrong when taking video.

The Film Artist demonstrates an alternate way to hold your phone when taking video that I’ve never seen before. I tried it, and it seems to improve the stability of my iPhone when I’m filming, so give it a try and it might work for you too!

via Steady iPhone 4s on Vimeo.

La Nuit de l’Alchimiste

Jaw meet floor.

The work of amateur filmmaker Mael Sevestre is amazing. I just stumbled across him tonight on Vimeo, and now I am totally in love with his style. You only need to watch the short 3-minute film below to understand why. It packs more power than most things far longer. (It’s in French, but there’s very little dialog, so it’s not an issue.)

La Nuit de l’Alchimiste from Mael Sevestre on Vimeo.

The making of (sorry, only in French)

La Nuit de l’Alchimiste – Making of from Mael Sevestre on Vimeo.

Framed – an iphone 4S short story

The iPhone 4S was more reovlutionary a camera than most people realize. It really did allow people to wander around with a good quality videocamera in their pockets. While still not equal to a professional camera, it does allow for some impressive work in the right hands and right light. This touching and haunting very short film is one such example…

via Framed – an iphone 4S short story on Vimeo.

Photoshop Rank- MASTER! The Flying Pirate Ship

Wow! The picture is amazing, but seeing how it was made just puts my levels of appreciation over 9000!

Mutli-Person Wand Duel

I stumbled across this multi-person Wand Duel today. Pretty impressive for a bunch of students to pull off.

The Wand Duel- A Harry Potter Fanfilm Genre

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently watching short films on Youtube, and one of the recent surprises I’ve had is discovering the “Wand Duel” genre. Similar to the “Lightsabre Duel” genre that has been floating around on YouTube for a while, the Wand Duel genre takes the simple premise of the Harry Potter wand duel as presented in the movies and runs with it.

Most are short and to the point, with some being simple…

And others fairly complex…

And still others trying to be full short films…

…But they’re all variations on a theme.

In a weird way, the Wand Duel genre is a perfect one for student (and especially teen) action/special effects fanfilms. Unlike Lightsabres, which are tied to a whole otherworldly fictional universe, the Harry Potter setting is inherently our own, so beyond having wands (sticks of wood) no other special props or costumes are required.What also helps them is the incredibly vague and fluid nature of exactly what’s happening in a Harry Potter-style magic duel, which pretty much seems to be whatever the writer/director wants it to be!

About the only things these filmmakers need is a camera, a knowledge of basic cinematography and some software that can overlay effects. (Which they can learn to produce through YouTube tutorials.) It’s a great training ground for aspiring fimmakers to play with and learn their craft, and I hope they keep at it!

Rob

 

Ultra-Cheap Cellphone Stabilizer Ideas

A video I made to try to help beginners who are trying to get better footage from their cellphone cameras. Also my first try at actually making a Youtube video, and using Cyberlink Powerdirector 11, which I found very easy and intuitive to use. The whole process turned out to be pretty fun! (If time consuming!)

Rob

Choudenshi Bioman- The First English Dubbed Sentai Series

Contrary to popular belief, the first Sentai completely dubbed into English wasn’t Zyuranger (Power Rangers Season 1, in 1993), it was 1984’s Bioman! A Filipino TV network dubbed the whole series in English in 1987, and released it to some success on the local TV stations.

Episode One Dubbed in English here on VEOH.com.

Bioman is the story of 5 young people (isn’t it always?) who become the agents of the Biorobo and are given superpowers to fight against the evil Doctor Man and his minions.

It was a big hit in it’s time in Japan, The Philipines, and France (where it was a megahit dubbed in French) and if you watch it, it’s not hard to understand why. It did many things differently than the Sentai series that would come before it and the ones that would come after it as well. It is unique, and just plain fun to watch.

A few examples of what made it different-

  • The Biomen’s mentor was also the mecha they piloted into battle, but it didn’t directly communicate with them, that was all done through Peebo, a C-3PO type robot that was clearly the inspiration for Alpha 5 in Power Rangers. (In fact, the first unaired version of what would become Power Rangers was in fact Bioman dubbed in English by Haim Saban! However the FOX execs wanted American actors, not Asian ones on the screen, so he came up with the Power Rangers we know today.)
  • The Biorobo was limited by the ability of it’s human pilots/partners, and as they got stronger so did it. There are actually training episodes of them trying to get stronger so that they can handle the mecha’s more high-performance abilities.
  • The mecha fights themselves are shot so that the mecha have a weight to them and seem big, unlike most shows where the mecha are shot like the guys in suits they are.
  • Doctor Man (I love that name!) had just a few lieutenants, and a few Beastnoids (monsters), and couldn’t make more. So the same bad guys kept coming back, and they had a chance to become characters in their own right.
  • Instead of a new monster each week, there was a new giant robot instead, piloted by one of the bad guy lieutenants.
  • The plots were generally fun and interesting, and rarely boring. They really tried to mix the stories up, and not just go for the same old thing.
  • The English dub is in Phillipino English, and done in a straight but playful way with odd dialect-isms that really add to it’s entertainment value. (They were dubbing it for kids, but not stupid kids.) My personal favorite is the bad guy’s “FOR THE MAN!” salute, which brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. (For those who were born after 1990, “The Man” was 1970’s street slang to refer to white authority figures.)

I actually get bored of Sentai series really quick (they’re too damn repetitive), yet for some reason I can watch Bioman with a big smile, even though it wasn’t part of my childhood. It’s just pure entertainment on a level which isn’t stupid or condescending, but pitched just right for any audience.

For the Man!

Rob