Tag Archives: Burt Lancaster

Top 15 Fantasy Films of the 80’s

 

The 1980’s was a GREAT time for movie lovers. The studios and production companies were full of NEW ideas and willing to take risks to find and create great stories. We received a slew of fun fantasy films, some were really fantastic, then some not so fantastic. Here’s my list for my favorite 15 fantasy films of the 80’s:

15.  The Barbarians (1987)BB

Now, right up front…this is not a great movie. With that said, I totally enjoyed the movie when I first saw it in a movie theater. My father saved up for a decade to take his family on an 3 week European vacation and in that time we saw 1 movie in a french movie theater and YES, you guessed it…it was this film! Don’t ask me why we picked this one, we were 16 years old, looking for something in the action genre, because none of us wanted to read a lot of captions…and it features 2 twins, so to us at the time…win/win. As it turns out, I really enjoyed it. I will let you know that I do enjoy “cheesy” and “campy” as two adjectives for movies I enjoy. If you have a tendency to roll your eyes and switch the channel when you experience these things then, some of the films I present in this blog post are simply not going to be your cup of tea.

The best thing by far in this movie is the villain character actor, Richard Lynch. He pops up in another film on this list, a really good actor and mostly typecast as the bad guy in his films due to his gravelly voice and to the fact that his face was severely burn-scarred. In 1967, after taking LSD, he set himself on fire in Central Park. He managed to turn into a career, something that would have stunted so many other people. The Barbarians was directed by Italian director Ruggero Deodato, who had a reputation as a nasty director. Richard said of him, “Ahh, Ruggero Deodato. Yeah, he’s all bullsh#t. He’s a little man, he’s short, and he’s got a big mouth. But I love Ruggero — I had more fun working with him than anybody else. I know all about his crassness and his brutality, but you can’t let it reach you. He’s very talented, and he can be very funny — you have to have a thick skin with him. He’ll test your mettle, but when he knows that you know he’s bullshitting you … I had a lot of good times with him.”

14.  Excalibur (1981)john-boorman-excalibur

Directed by John Boorman, and starring a slew of great actors that only got better with age, this is a very ambitious re-telling of the Arthurian legend. John Boorman wanted the story to be the focus of the movie rather than the actors. Therefore, he cast actors who were relatively unknown at the time to American audiences. Among them were Gabriel Byrne (Uther), Patrick Stewart (Leondegrance),Liam Neeson (Gawain), Helen Mirren (Morgana) and Nicholas Clay (Launcelot). Only Nicol Williamson (Merlin) was relatively familiar to American moviegoers. John Boorman was originally aiming at making a movie based on “The Lord of the Rings”. However, he did not acquire the rights, and decided to make this movie instead. He has gone on to say that he loved Peter Jackson’s vision for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, that were filmed much later and was thrilled when someone finally made the movies.

13.  Dragonslayer (1981)dragonslayer

This one is a Disney film directed by Matthew Robbins, who my brother and I liked from directing Corvette Summer and then later from The Legend of Billie Jean and Batteries Not Included. The movie as about a young wizard apprentice who goes on a quest to kill the dragon Virmithrax Pejorative, who has been eating the sacrificial maidens from a nearby town. Slow moving movie, but it has some good parts. George R.R. Martin, author of the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” novels upon which the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011) is based, has stated that Vermithrax Pejorative is “the best dragon ever shown on film.”

12.  Krull (1983)Krull

My brother and I loved the hero’s weapon in this…it looked like a giant throwing star. We would spend hours throwing frisbees at each other in the yard mimicking this movie. Directed by Peter Yates and also stars Liam Neeson in another of his seldom seen roles before he made it truly big. In this film, a maiden is kidnapped by an alien race and a band of medieval misfits  ventures out to rescue her. It can be thought of as a film where a bunch of sword wielding knights break into a fortress to fight a laser-shooting alien race, only with fire Clydesdales and a cyclops added for good measure. Show-business trade-paper ‘Variety’ described the movie as Excalibur (1981) meets Star Wars (1977)”. The movie was actually massive, taking up over 10 sound stages at Pinewood Studios. It has some great creative ideas and inventive scenes…at least in theory. Execution is a bit clunky, but you can definitely watch this and appreciate the scope of what they were trying to do.

Legendary stuntman and stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong (I write about him again later for the Indiana Jones series here) scoured allover the United Kingdom for 16 Clydesdale horses to purchase and then train. Moreover, horses from the Queen’s Household Cavalry near Buckingham Palace were borrowed and brought to the studio’s back-lot.

11.  Legend (1985)Legend

This has Ridley Scott directing Tom Cruise in their first fantasy film, but the stand-out here is definitely Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness. It also features some of the best make-up prosthetics you will ever see on film, by make-up artist Rob Bottin and his crew. He would later be nominated for an Oscar for his work on this film, but this makeup was really hard on Tim Curry. Tim Curry had to wear a large, bull-like structure atop his head with three-foot fiberglass horns supported by a harness underneath the makeup. The horns placed a strain on the back of the actor’s neck because they extended forward and not straight up. Bottin and his crew finally came up with horns that were lightweight enough. At the end of the day, he spent an hour in a bath in order to liquefy the soluble spirit gum. At one point, Curry got too impatient and claustrophobic and pulled the makeup off too quickly, tearing off his own skin in the process. Ridley Scott felt both horrified and sorry for Curry. Scott decided he didn’t want Curry to put more make up on his torn skin, so he shot around the actor for a week.

With the exception of Tom Cruise and Mia Sara, all the principal actors spent hours every morning having extensive makeup applied. Between 8 and 12 prosthetic pieces were applied individually to each face, then made up, molded and grafted into the actor’s face so that the prosthetics moved with their muscles. Each person needed three makeup artists working on them for an average time of three and a half hours spent applying prosthetics. Out of all the characters, the most challenging one in terms of makeup was Darkness.

10.  Labyrinth (1986)Labyrinth

The first of 2 Jim Henson movies to make the list, this one features David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. This one also features some incredible songs by Bowie. Bowie was keen to make a children’s movie, he liked the concept and found the script amusing and of more interest to him than many other contemporary special effects movies. The movie is about a selfish 16-year old girl who is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King.

9.  Dark Crystal (1982)The Dark Crystal

This one was co-directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Frank Oz would go on to direct so many good films over the next 20 years. Hard to believe he started out as a puppeteer, but he’s so creative and talented, it taught him a lot of the things he needed to become a top director. This movie is about a Gelfling who embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal in order to restore order to his world. All the characters in the film are all puppets. Conceptual designer Brian Froud was behind the look and feel of virtually every aspect of the film’s production, from creatures and landscapes right down to the font of the opening title. In total, it took up five years of his life. He was also the conceptual designer for Labyrinth. Froud and puppet designer Wendy Midener met on the set of the Dark Crystal and were later married.

8.  NeverEnding Story (1984)neverending story

This film is about a troubled boy who dives into a wondrous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. This is directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and is a very inventive movie. It’s a favorite of a lot of the kids who grew up in the 80’s. It’s actually a film shot and produced in Germany, based on a book by the very popular author Michael Ende.

7.  Beastmaster (1982)beastmaster

Beastmaster is a sword-and-sorcery fantasy about a young man’s search for revenge. Armed with supernatural powers, the handsome hero and his animal allies wage war against marauding forces. Directed by Don Coscarelli and starring Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts. Producer Dino De Laurentiis liked the movie and offered Don Coscarelli to direct Conan the Destroyer (1984). Coscarelli declined because he thought the script was quite bad. Hence the reason that movie, doesn’t make this list. Coscarelli decided to set the story in a sort of Bronze Age milieu because he was a long time fan of Steve Reeves, Ray Harryhausen and sword and sandal flicks. Ironically, Ray Harryhausen made this list next at number…

6.  Clash of the Titans (1981)THE KRAKEN CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981)

This is a film adaption of the myth of Perseus and his quest to battle both Medusa and the Kraken monster to save the Princess Andromeda, directed by Desmond Davis and special effects by Ray Harryhausen. Funny thing about the title of the film, no actual Titans actually appear in the film as the “Titans” were the gods who preceded the Olympians in power. Kronos (also spelled Cronus) and Atlas were the most famous Titans. In the movie, the Titans are the Norse Kraken (who never appeared in Greek mythology at all) and Medusa (who was never considered a Titan by the Greeks).

5. Conan the Barbarian (1982)conan-the-barbarian

1982 was an amazing year as a lot of the films on this list were released in 1982 as well as ET, Blade Runner, The Thing, Poltergeist, Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, Tron, First Blood, and Tootsie! Conan was directed by John Milius and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan. There’s a lot of stunts in this film, Arnold Schwarzenegger had weapons training, martial arts training, and horse riding lessons from specialists. He trained with an 11-pound broadsword two hours a day for three months, and learned how to handle one; each broadsword cost $10,000 and had to look weathered. He also learned climbing techniques, and how to fall and roll and jump from 15-feet in the air. John Milius made sure all of these were videotaped, and according to Schwarzenegger, they were just as intense as training for bodybuilding competitions. Franco Columbu was his trainer and was rewarded with a small part in the film. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandahl Bergman did their own stunts, as suitable body doubles couldn’t be found. Arnold Schwarzenegger modelled his performance as Conan after Steve Reeves and his performances as Hercules. Conan was created by Author Robert E. Howard.

4.  Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)sword and the sorcerer

This is the other film on the list that features the actor Richard Lynch. It’s actually my favorite Sword and Sandal film of all time. I think it’s even better than Conan, and it’s crazy to me that nobody knows about it. I even watched it recently and it totally holds up over time. This is simply a great little unknown film! It’s about a mercenary with a three-bladed sword who rediscovers his royal heritage’s dangerous future when he is recruited to help a princess foil the designs of a brutal tyrant and a powerful sorcerer in conquering a land. It stars Lee Horsely, who my brother and I loved as Matt Houston!

3.  Ladyhawke (1985)Layout 1

The real reason to watch this is Matthew Broderick. He’s just fantastic as the mouse, the thief that technically narrates the film. He is so good that I thought he should have been nominated for an Oscar that year.  The film is directed by the incredible Richard Donner and is also memorable for the score of the film by Andrew Powell and Alan Parsons from the Alan Parsons Project. They are my favorite “band” (in quotes because they’re not really a band, more like studio produced music, but still awesome). The movie is about Captain Etienne Navarre, who is a man on whose shoulders lie a cruel curse. Punished for loving each other, Navarre must become a wolf by night whilst his lover, Lady Isabeau, takes the form of a hawk by day. Together, with the thief Philippe Gaston, they must try to overthrow the corrupt Bishop and in doing so break the spell.

2.  Willow (1988)Willow

Ron Howard directed this fantasy film based on the story by George Lucas. You can really tell by this time that Ron Howard was going to be one of the very best directors ever. The film is about, Willow Ufgood, a reluctant dwarf who must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen. George Lucas specifically wrote this film for Warwick Davis after meeting him on the set of Return of the Jedi (1983). The box office receipts were less than expected (but still very good when considering International and Video/DVD sales), so writer George Lucas continued Willow’s story in books rather than in movie sequels. The three books are collectively known as “The Chronicles of the Shadow War” and share a writers credit for Chris Claremont and Lucas. They are: “Shadow Moon” (1995), “Shadow Dawn” (1996) and “Shadow Star” (2000). I enjoyed Val Kilmer in this movie a great deal. I heard later that much of his dialogue for this film was ad-libbed by him. Various major film studios turned down the chance to distribute and co-finance it with Lucasfilm because they believed the fantasy genre was unsuccessful. This was largely due to films such Dragonslayer (1981), Krull (1983), Legend (1985) and Labyrinth (1986). (Argh! That’s almost half of my list!)

1.  The Princess Bride (1987)princessbride

The ultimate fantasy film and a lot of people’s favorite, including mine. Directed by Rob Reiner.  A lot of people think this is his finest film. The film is about the lovely Buttercup, who  is kidnapped by a ghastly gang intent on fermenting an international incident. They find they are pursued by the Dread Pirate Roberts who just might be Westley, her one true love. Also after everyone is nasty Prince Humperdinck to whom Buttercup is now betrothed but who seems to care little for her continued survival. The stage is set for swordfights, monsters, revenge and torture…and of course, true love. It has a fantastic cast which includes Mandy Patinkin, Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Andre The Giant, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, Mel Smith, Wallace Shawn, Chris Sarandon, Peter Falk, Fred Savage, Peter Cook and Carol Kane. Cary Elwes was cast because of what Rob Reiner called his Douglas Fairbanks or Errol Flynn quality. Fairbanks and Flynn both played Robin Hood (Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1922) (which I discuss in a blog post here) and Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) (which I discuss in a blog post here). Elwes would later spoof their performances in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). Ironically, the costume for Wesley as the Dread Pirate Roberts was designed after Douglas Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro (1920). You can see pictures of him in a blog I wrote here.

In order to create the Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times, Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin trained for months with Peter Diamond and Bob Anderson, who between them had been in the Olympics; worked on Bond, Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Star Wars films; and coached Errol Flynn and Burt Lancaster. Every spare moment on set was spent practicing. Eventually, when they showed Rob Reiner the swordfight for the movie, he was underwhelmed and requested that it be at least three minutes long rather than the current one minute. They added steps to the set, watched more swashbuckling movies for inspiration, re-choreographed the scene, and ended up with a three minute and 10 second fight which took the better part of a week to film from all angles. This is my favorite scene in the movie.

 

 

 

The Thing and an Unused Treatment For The Prequel

 

Adam and I have always been fascinated with and loved the move, The Thing by John Carpenter. The things we especially loved about it was the isolated feeling of the movie, the distrust between characters, the paranoia that creeps in and the ultimate scenarios that play out throughout the film to ferret out who is a “Thing” and who isn’t.  It really ratchets up the tension in the film.thing-1982-03-g

So with this in mind, I felt compelled to write down and share our experience with, or I should say our near-experience with the making of what was to be a prequel of sorts, but with what ended up with an identical title,  (so as to confuse the audience even more; is it a prequel or is it a remake?!?) ultimately released to theaters in 2011.thing-logo-r

Now for some background, The Thing (1982) is already a sequel of The Thing From Another World (1951), which was a subject of a previous post of mine.  John Carpenter had the screenplay written by Burt Lancaster’s son Bill Lancaster. ( A little trivia about their relationship is shared in my post regarding The Flame and the Arrow where I mention another one of Bill’s scripts, The Bad News Bears where reportedly the Walter Matthew character is based on Burt.)

Anyway, the film was released with some real nifty marketing posters by a young Drew Struzan who would gain fame with the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter posters he would paint later. It had some strong competition that year, but really grew an audience on video and my brother and I loved it right away and to this day I think it’s the best horror film ever made.thing-struzan-screenprint

(Original Drew Struzan Concept For the Poster 1982)

So skip forward a couple of decades and Adam and I have written several screenplays by this time, written several book to script adaptations, and made a few films and even won an Emmy; generally seeing a spark of success which is very fleeting in Hollywood. Overall, feeling pretty good, getting our feet wet and having fun. In 2008, a company convinces Universal to let them produce a sequel to The Thing and posts in the trades a search for pitches and treatments for the production.

Antarctic Region Map
Antarctic Region Map
Bentley Subglacial Trench
Bentley Subglacial Trench

I have to admit, we got very excited about putting together a pitch for submission to see if we could possibly convince them to let us write the script.  We do a lot of research when we do a script and this treatment was no different.  We researched the location, the original film and story it’s based on and elements we wanted to put in our “prequel”.  Our idea was pretty similar to what was eventually put onscreen when it comes to general plot. We loved the idea of telling the story of what happened at the original Norwegian Station that was a catalyst for bringing the “Thing” to Kurt Russell’s movie in the beginning.  We also were excited to be able to make it possible to bridge the first film with a “third” film by providing a way for the “Thing” to hit the mainland at the end of our treatment.

We quickly outlined what we loved about the Carpenter movie; the isolation, the desperation, the paranoia, the suspicions and key scenarios playing out pitting different groups of people against each other, in this case the different nationalities that were at work within our version.  I think the key thing that the new version got wrong was having a woman in the mix, I just didn’t think that worked and if we wanted to stay within the confines of the Carpenter version, we decided to keep it an all male cast.

Anyway, I’m going to let you choose for yourselves, if you think our version would have made for a fantastic companion to the Carpenter film, as I think it does. I’m going to print it here in it’s entirety.  Now, just for history’s sake, you know up front they didn’t pick ours.  We’re not even sure if we were in the running as we were never notified and none of our real elements seemed to make it into the film they ultimately made.  Right or wrong they went on to make the film they decided would do best, but ultimately I think they made another mistake by naming it the same name as the Carpenter film.  They should have added, The Thing: Exodus or something.

The Thing Prequel  (Treatment by Adam Montierth and Donovan Montierth, All Rights Reserved 2008-2016)

ANTARCTICA – 1982

On a routine reconnaissance mission under the Ronne Ice Shelf, HMS VALIANT, a British Nuclear Submarine discovers an anomaly of dense mass hidden under the ice in the Antarctic. CAPTAIN JAMES MUNRO,  a veteran of the British Fleet is notified as he feeds his pet mice. The Sub receives orders to investigate.

They drift along the Bentley Subglacial Trench at the lowest point of Antarctica and find a place thin enough for them to break through the ice and exit through the conning tower. As soon as the sub has settled, LIEUTENANT GILBRETSON, a big bear of a man, stations himself outside the sub and chain-smokes his way through several cigarettes.Ice Station

A group of five MEN, including Captain James Munro, and Roald Amundsen, a reluctant midshipman recruited as an interpreter, leave Lieutenant Gilbretson, as well as the remaining 122 crew members, and hike five kilometers to the geological research facility owned and operated by the Norwegian Polar Research Establishment with eight current occupants; six NORWEGIAN, one GERMAN and one ITALIAN SCIENTISTS.

They convince the scientists to go out and do some core samples where they find a spaceship buried in the ice. Captain Munro, concerned, ventures back to the Sub to receive his orders. Meanwhile, the scientists celebrate the historic discovery with a video camera and prepare to take samples from the spaceship.The_buried_UFO_(The_Thing_-1982)

Waiting for orders, Amundsen discovers an alien creature, the THING, frozen in the ice not far from the spaceship. Under protest from Amundsen, the scientists cut the block of ice containing the Thing out of the frozen tundra and drag it back to the research station using a snow tractor. KEEGAN GYLDEN, a top Norwegian scientist cuts a thin sample from the skin of The Thing and places it in a plastic container.Thing-in-ice

Captain Munro returns from the sub with an armed force of ten GUARDS to secure the station and to prevent the release of information regarding the spaceship. His orders are to retain all scientists and to collect all data, samples and specimens from the craft, until a proper research team can be deployed from Great Britain to examine the find properly.

The scientists are prevented from communicating back to their headquarters and are confined to the facility. Mistrust and anger, begin to grow between the two groups. The scientists continue to examine what materials they have from the craft, while the guards keep watch over them from room to room.

The Thing from the ice block, given time to thaw, slowly comes back to life and takes his first victim, WILLIAMSON, a guard passing between rooms.thingd

In the lab, Keegan removes the thin sample of The Thing and places it carefully on a slide and onto a microscope. He looks into the   microscope. The sample appears to be moving. Keegan rubs his eyes and looks back into the lens when a shout is heard from the next room. Keegan and the GERMAN rush out of the room to see what is going on.

It is the room with the block of ice, now empty. ALBIN, one of the Norwegians, is yelling at two guards and pointing to the empty block. As scientists and guards enter the room they become angry over the missing creature. The scientists accuse the guards of stealing the Thing from the ice block and the guards are suspicious of the scientists regarding the missing guard. Tempers rage and the scientists are sent to their sleeping quarters. As they sleep, the Thing, as Williamson, visits several men in their rooms.

Williamson Thing reappears the next morning, seemingly normal, except for slightly odd behavior, Amundsen notices. This doesn’t seem to mend the friction between the two groups but the scientists are allowed to continue their research. The language barrier enhances the groups frustrations as Amundsen is the only one who can speak Norwegian and it becomes increasingly difficult for him to mediate between the scientists and the guards.

Captain Munro takes a few men to go and examine the spacecraft a little closer. They get down to the ship and crack open a hatch in the top and go in. In the dark, they turn on the flashlights and make their way down several corridors. The ship is a frozen disaster. The inside of the ship lay in ruins, wreckage everywhere.thingSB Saucer in the ice 005

They find what appears to be a corridor with cells. Heavy iron doors with locks on the outside and little glass windows. One of the cells is busted outward, as if something massive broke through the door. A few dead bodies lay scattered about, ripped and frozen. Red ice glints off the floors and walls. Frozen blood everywhere. Captain Munro looks at the familiar body pieces and gasps when he realizes…they’re human.

Back at the lab, the scientists go back to their work. The Italian, complaining about the working conditions, helps GUSTAV, a Norwegian, carry a metal panel from the ship over to a table just as Keegan gets back to his microscope. Keegan yells at the Italian to keep his voice down and peers down into the lenses just as the skin slice of the Thing explodes upward through the microscope and into Keegan’s eye.

Keegan’s head snaps back as the microscope explodes and he falls to the floor, dead. The Italian and Norwegian yell and scramble over to Keegan. Keegan’s eye dangles from the socket and blood pours from his head. A few scientists and guards rush in. Confusion erupts as the Italian attacks the guards thinking they have sabotaged their equipment and killed his colleague. They manage to subdue the Italian and handcuff him and Gustav.thingguy

The guards take the Italian and Gustav to another building and  lock them into a room by themselves. Williamson stays to watch over them. Keegan’s body is taken to a room and covered with a sheet.

Captain Munro gets back from the spaceship and seems shaken.  To try to ease tension, he sends a group of guards back to the Sub. Amundsen pulls him aside to let him know what’s happened. He takes him to view Keegan and then tells him that the men’s nerves are at their breaking points.

Meanwhile, in the room with the two handcuffed men, Williamson paces back and forth nervously as the Italian continues to barrage him with Italian insults. Gustav tries to calm him, but finally Williamson walks over to the Italian and faces him. The Italian shuts up. Just as he thinks Williamson is going to walk away, he opens his mouth and a long tentacle comes out and wraps around the surprised Italian’s head. The Thing starts to assimilate the Italian. Gustav freaks out and starts yelling at the top of his lungs.

A guard runs over from the other building and throws the doors open to find Williamson Thing and the Italian melted together. Gustav runs over to the guard and tries to pull a grenade from the guard’s belt, but Gustav’s handcuffs make it difficult for him to grab the grenade, and in his haste manages to only pull off the pin. When he realizes, he dives outside into the snow, leaving the guard fumbling with his belt to get the grenade off. A few seconds later the building explodes from the inside.thing fire

Captain Munro and Amundsen run outside just as the building bursts into a fireball. The remaining scientists and guards filter outside to see the aftermath. The scientists are asking Amundsen what is going on and the guards are all in shock. Confusion erupts as they grill Gustav as to what was happening. Capt. Munro stands in shock looking at the fire, when he notices Keegan Thing standing next to him looking at the fire as well.

Keegan Thing turns to face Captain Munro and reveals his eye still sitting on his cheek, but acting as if everything is normal. The guards and scientists all look at Captain Munro when he yells in surprise. Keegan Thing looks around as if confused as to what is wrong with him. Amundsen points at his face and mentions the eye.

When he does this, recognition sets into Keegan Thing’s face and the eye on his cheek looks up and then juts up from the socket on it’s own accord and begins to look where Keegan Thing’s normal eye looks. At this, a few of the guards pull their guns from their holsters. Keegan Thing’s not getting the response he’s expecting so the eye plunges back into his head, then he looks around again as if to say, “Is this right?”. The men back away.

Finally not getting anywhere, Keegan Thing’s head cracks open into a giant mouth and launches out at Gustav. The Thing quickly overtakes Gustav as he screams in sheer terror. After the guards overcome their surprise they open fire at the Thing. Wounded, it busts through the door and back through the building. The guards chase it into the main room, but the Thing disappears into the ceiling.

Everyone comes running back outside to get answers from Captain Munro. Captain Munro tries to calm everyone down and explains as best as he can that the alien from the spaceship must have been alive but dormant from his frozen state. Everyone, visibly shaken and upset, argues and rambles about what to do. Amundsen tries to interpret as best as he can to the Norwegians and the German. They all decide that they need to track the Thing down. They assign pairs of men, pass out guns and grenades and spread out to look.thing

Each pair of men take different areas of the station to try and find the Thing. They look down every corridor, store room and work shed, but find nothing. A man yells from the kennels and shots are fired. The guards and the scientists all run to the kennels to find the Thing in the middle of the room assimilating dogs. They open fire on the Thing and it stops moving as if dead.

Albin speaks to Amundsen that they should pull the Thing out to the snow and burn it. Amundsen translates to the group and they all agree. They get the snow tractor and pull the Thing out to the snow and pour fuel on it. As they all stand around watching, Captain Munro lights a match and the Thing goes up in flames.thing on fire

Confused, the scientists and guards argue about what to do next. Amundsen mediates as best as he can when he realizes that MIKAHIL, one of the Norwegians is speaking perfect English. He asks him  how he’s able to speak English fluently. The group gets quiet and stare at Mikhail Thing. The other Norwegians and the German all back up, scared. The guards take their lead and everyone distances themselves from Mikhail Thing and pull out their guns.

Mikhail Thing tries to explain himself, but nobody believes him. They know that he’s the Thing. He gets angry and lashes out at Albin and one of the guards shoots him. Mikhail Thing, jumps at Albin and he falls into the fire, screaming. The men scatter, afraid. The two remaining Norwegians and the German run into the main room, then the German gets into one of the labs by himself and barricades the door.

Amundsen runs out of bullets as they fight Mikhail Thing. He runs inside and finds an axe. Mikhail Thing disappears behind one of the buildings. Inside, the Norwegians step toward Amundsen and he threatens them not knowing who to trust. The guards and Captain Munro come inside and try to calm Amundsen down. He looks at everyone as if they could be the Thing. The guards rush him, trying to get the axe away from him. Amundsen swings the axe and hacks one of the guards in the leg, he goes down on the ground screaming.thing axe

HAYES, a guard, grabs Amundsen. Amundsen chop one of Hayes hands off. The hand hits the ground and Hayes holds his amputated arm in pain. The Captain holds the men off and tries to reason with Amundsen that their fight is not with each other but with the creature. Amundsen argues that anyone can be the creature, how can they trust anyone. Captain Munro talks to Amundsen to try and keep him busy while the guards step closer and closer. Finally they all jump on Amundsen and he takes one last swing and embeds the axe in the door.

They hold Amundsen on the floor until they realize that Hayes, who just moments ago got his hand amputated, now has two hands again.  He is helping to hold Amundsen down. The guards look at his two hands then look at his third amputated hand on the ground. They look back up at him and Hayes Thing gives them a “what?” look. The amputated hand suddenly grows spider legs out of the fingers and two eyes pop out of the back of the hand. It crawls frantically towards the guard that is laying down bleeding profusely from his leg.

The guards all jump up and pull out their guns and point them at the Hayes Thing on Amundsen. Hayes Thing immediately runs out of the room and the men follow, firing. The man on the ground bleeding, screams as the spider-hand crawls over and embeds itself into his bleeding leg. His leg and the spider-hand fuse together as one, as the Thing attempts to assimilate him. Captain Munro shoots the bleeding man dead. His leg continues to move. Munro drags the body outside and throws it into the fire.

The guards come back and shake their head as if to say the Thing is gone. All men become paranoid and point guns at each other suspecting everyone of being the Thing. The Norwegians try to calm everyone down. They speak as Amundsen translates. They explain that the Thing is learning how to act human. He mentions that they can identify the men that are the Thing, by amputating fingers and seeing who’s grows back.

Reluctantly, everyone agrees. The Norwegians get a surgical kit out and with scalpels cut a finger off of everyone’s hand one by one. They all hold up their bloody hands to show that none have grown back. The remaining men; four guards, two Norwegians, Captain Munro and Amundsen are all human.

The lights and heaters in the facility go out. They run outside to the generators to find Hayes Thing and Mikhail Thing are destroying the generators together. The men open fire at the Things and they both go down as if killed. To make sure they pour fuels on the bodies and burn them in the snow as the Norwegians check the generators.thing dog

They explain to Amundsen that they are not repairable and only have a few hours left before everything at the station freezes. A dog comes around the side of the building and everyone realizes that they haven’t killed all of the Thing. The dog runs away. The Norwegians tell Amundsen that they can’t let the Thing live and that they will use the helicopter to find it and kill it. After they are done, they will fly to the nearest city. Captain Munro lets them know that the rest of them are going back to the sub to report what has happened at the station. The Norwegians take their guns and grenades and start the Helicopter. Captain Munro, Amundsen, and the rest raise their amputated hands in a four finger salute, signifying still human. The Norwegians return salute and fly away.thing1

The four remaining guards, Captain Munro and Amundsen head out to the sub. Forgotten and barricaded in the lab, the German cuts his wrists knowing that the cold will kill him soon. Sadly, he cuts his own throat.thingEnd_game_x-files

thingEndGameThe men get back to the sub to find Lieutenant Gilbretson back outside waiting for them. Amundsen notices that he is not chain-smoking and casually asks him about it. Gilbretson looks at him confused. This alarms Amundsen and the guards all pull their guns on Gilbretson. Captain Munro tells Gilbretson that they will have to cut a finger off to prove he is human. Just as a guard goes to cut his finger off, Gilbretson Thing morphs into a GIANT THING and grabs the surprised guard and tears him in half.

The guards open fire on the Giant Thing and Captain Munro and Amundsen throw grenades at it. They find cover just as the grenades go off and open a fissure in the ice. The Giant Thing slips into the water and screams like a banshee. The salt water reacts as acid to the Giant Thing and it foams up and dies horribly, sliding back into the sea.

The three remaining guards, Captain Munro, and Amundsen enter the sub to find it a ghost ship, everyone is gone and the communications boards are destroyed. They are concerned but relieved that they are back aboard and seal the sub back up and make arrangements to go home. Captain Munro leaves one of the guards in charge and goes to get some sleep in his cabin. He finds his mice alright and feeds them. Just as Captain Munro lays down, one of the mice grows tentacles and lashes out.

Amundsen, still unnerved from his ordeal, seals himself in his room and begins to record his fresh thoughts into a tape recorder. Later, he makes his way back to the navigation room. The three guards and Captain Munro are busy at the controls of the sub. They all ignore Amundsen as he enters and they stare at a TV monitor which shows them what is outside the sub.

Amundsen, curious, peers to see what they are looking at. Underwater, outside the sub, they are scanning another spaceship. As the sub moves further, Amundsen sees more ships and what appears to be a spaceship graveyard. Deathly, dark and sinister ghost spaceships lay scattered along the bottom of the sea where they have fallen.thing graveyard

Amundsen looks at Captain Munro and notices that he has all of his fingers again. Smiling, Captain Munro Thing looks directly at Amundsen and begins to explain that he was a captive on a ship headed for another place long ago. He managed to take over the ship, but crashed here in the process.

Amundsen looks at the guards to see if they notice that the Captain is now the Thing. All of the guards turn to face Amundsen. Eerily, they all stare at him along with Captain Munro Thing, and speak to him in perfect unison.

They explain that they sent a distress signal and had wondered what happened to those that followed. They now realize that they landed here and the sea swallowed them up.

After sending the signal, when they couldn’t wait any longer, they exited the spaceship and the weather was too much for them and they froze. Until Amundsen came and found them in the ice. They tell him that now they will survive and take over the planet, thanks to Amundsen.

Amundsen pulls out a gun and points it at Captain Munro Thing, who smiles and says that it won’t be long before he joins them. Instead of shooting Captain Munro Thing, Amundsen quickly aims at the pipes above their heads and a stream of salt water fills the cabin. The Things all scream together and scramble to reach Amundsen and find cover. Amundsen seals them in the room and soon the Things foam up once again in a horrible death, ending Amundsen’s worst nightmare.

Beaten and worn, Amundsen quickly programs the subs computers to the nearest port. Soon the sub reaches land and is seen entering Christchurch, New Zealand harbor.

Off in the small confines of the sub, a small Mouse Thing grows tentacles and lashes out.

The End

Now you can see from our version that we got some inspiration from Ice Station Zebra (1968), as they are also on a mission to get to one of the Science Stations, in that one under the guise of a rescue mission in ours, an exploration mission.  This is great because we can now explore more of what’s underneath the ice, we maintain the claustrophobic feeling and now we also have a vehicle that can take the danger to the mainland for the possible 3rd movie.ice

Anyway, we would have loved to see our version as I think it really had a chance of creating a new Franchise for the film series and I for one would have LOVED to see the possible 3rd movie where the THING hits a population and then really can do some damage.  Oh, well, I hope you liked our version too, we can only hope that someone somewhere gets the idea to keep this film series going again.

Best Movie Stunts of the Year List 1950-1959

 

Here is the list for the Best Movie Stunts for the Decade 1950-1959 as listed in the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

1950:  The Flame and the Arrow

the flame and the arrow

Burt Lancaster met Nick Cravat when they worked in the circus as acrobats, early in their careers.  This movie highlights some great acrobatics from the two of them, along with some great fighting sequences.

1951:  The Thing From Another Worldthing full body burn

I loved this movie and the remake that followed with Kurt Russell, but this one has a very cool fire burn done Tom Steele that just has to be seen to be believed.

1952:  Ivanhoeivanhoe03

Paddy Ryan was in a group of some of the finest stuntmen to ever come out of England.  In this film he does a real gasping fall from a castle, which was held as the highest fall from a castle for many years.

1953:  Code Twocode two

Motorcycles were really starting to come into their own.  This movie was one of the first one to introduce motorcycle stunts and chase scenes, with many movies following after.

1954:  The Seven SamuraiSeven_Samurai_Fight

This film was probably the most mentioned movie to ever influence a slew of filmmakers, before Star Wars.  It’s an incredible film with a great story, great characters and especially great action.  Most of the actors were hired because they could really fight.  Let’s imagine this as the very first Expendables, where some real action masters were at work here.

1955:  To Hell and Backto hell and back tank

The real life story, played by the real person himself, Audie Murphy, the highest decorated soldier of World War II.  Quite a war film!

1956:  Trapezetrapeze1956

So I mentioned Burt Lancaster was in the circus, right?  Well, here is the movie where he really shows his chops!  You just thought he was a great actor, but he was a really accomplished acrobat, that could have had an amazing career as a stuntman!

1957:  The Curse of Frankensteincurseoffrankenstein1

Hammer Films, out of Great Britain were making some of the most interesting genre films ever made with some of the finest actors like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and with fantastic stuntmen like Jock Easton.  Some really great stuff!

1958:  The VikingsVikings oars

So I fell in love with Vikings movies when I saw this one (another great one is the 13th Warrior!).  With that in mind, Kirk Douglas blows my mind when I see him, “running the oars” with such ease as he does in this film!

1959:  Ben HurBen Joe Canutt Jump

A stunt that goes wrong is not an “accident” when no one gets hurt…I just consider it an improvised stunt.  In this one the results were so cool they added it to the film.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Burt Lancaster for Trapeze

 

Trapeze is highlighted by its truly breathtaking stunt sequences.  Burt Lancaster performed all of the trapeze stunts himself, having worked in a circus before entering films. He insisted on doing the climactic triple flip, but technical adviser Eddie Ward initially was hesitant on Lancaster performing the stunt, so Ward doubled for Lancaster during the first weeks of shooting, but Lancaster told director Carol Reed that he knew how to do the stunt from the get-go so it is Lancaster you see in the final cut of the film.trapezemovieposter

I found it interesting that the love triangle is the emotional core in this movie as I read somewhere that Burt was a big fan of the silent film The Unknown (1927), probably partially because the movie also took place in a circus, and Burt himself spent a lot of time early in his life in a circus. He once said that no scene in any movie affected him as emotionally as the one in this movie in which Lon Chaney learns that Joan Crawford does not love him. He was able to re-play this scene in a way himself as he loses the girl in Trapeze to Tony Curtis.

Trapeze was directed by Carol Reed for Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions.  Carol Reed made some of the finest movies, including The Third Man, Night Train to Munich, Oliver!, The Agony and the Ecstasy and Odd Man Out, which won the very first BAFTA for Best Film.trapeze1956

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page):

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Hecht Hill Lancaster was a production company formed by Burt Lancaster in association with his agent Harold Hecht and James Hill. In 1948 Lancaster and Hecht formed Norma Productions, which later became Hecht Lancaster. James Hill joined in the mid-1950s. The company produced some of the most notable American films of the 1950s.

In 1956 they renewed their deal with United Artists. In late 1957 they announced they would make ten films worth $14 million in 1958.

View the book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts:Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Douglas Fairbanks and the Mark of Zorro

 

The genesis of the word “swashbuckler” had its start with this movie. Douglas Fairbanks was the original “adventurer”, and he performed most of the stunts in his films himself. He was an excellent athlete and used his physical abilities to his best advantage. However, there were instances when a stuntman was used (as proved by outtakes from The Gaucho (1927)), as these types of stunts were deemed too risky for the star.zorro-still

Fairbanks’ prodigious athletic prowess and tremendous enthusiasm made this movie a great success, leading to a whole series of similar swashbuckler roles for Fairbanks, including The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922) and The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Fairbanks’ astonishing acrobatics amaze even modern audiences, particularly in the climax of The Mark of Zorro. A sequel, Don Q, Son of Zorro, with Fairbanks reprising his role as Don Diego and also playing Don Diego’s son, Don Cesar de la Vega, was released in 1925.

Interesting to note, Fencing master and graduate of the Military Institute of Physical Education and Fencing (Belgium), Fred Cavens was responsible for bringing style and technique to the duels in Hollywood films. His first work on a Hollywood film was in this movie and he became a Hollywood staple throughout the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. He did a lot of the fighting in this film as well as train Douglas Fairbanks to play Zorro. He also went on to train Guy Williams, Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power.zorro 2

The Mark of Zorro was directed by Fred Niblo for Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Corporation, released by United Artists and features Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro. The Zorro costume of black clothes, black mask, and round black hat that audiences know today was introduced in this film rather than in the original short story, and McCulley dressed Zorro in that outfit in his many subsequent Zorro stories in imitation of Fairbanks’ fantastically popular film. Also, Fairbanks’ acting exerted a tremendous influence upon later actor Burt Lancaster, as Lancaster frequently mentioned, and modern audiences can’t help but note this in Fairbanks’ first scene as Zorro, in which a surreally huge smile is accentuated.

I also think it’s very interesting to mention that not only was Douglas Fairbanks the physical basis for both Superman and Batman, this film was also the movie that Bruce Wayne and his parents went to see when they were killed in the alley, as mentioned in comic book history of the Golden Age.mark of zorro1920

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB):

Glossary of stunt terms as defined by Wikipedia:

  1.  Swashbuckler – Swashbuckler(a.k.a. swasher) is a term that emerged in the 16th centuryand has been used for rough, noisy and boastful swordsmen ever since. A possible explanation for this term is that it derives from a fighting style using a side-sword with a buckler in the off-hand, which was applied with much “swashing and making a noise on the buckler”. Later the name “swashbuckler” (like Gunslinger) became common for an archetype and the accordant special film genre.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM

Burt Lancaster, Nick Cravat and The Flame and the Arrow

 

Burt Lancaster was a professional acrobat before he took up acting, so it’s no surprise that he was able to swashbuckle with the best of them in The Flame and the Arrow. Warner Brothers even sent him on a publicity tour during which he perched on poles and re-created his feats from the film. The Oscar-winner displayed his athletic prowess in later films as well, like Trapeze and The Train.the flame and the arrow

Nick Cravat, who plays Piccolo, was an acrobat who was teamed with Burt Lancaster in the circus (performing as “Lang & Cravat”) before Lancaster became a star. He appears in many of Lancaster’s movies. In this one, and in The Crimson Pirate, he plays a mute. The reason was that his thick Brooklyn accent, which he could not lose, would have been wildly out of place in such period pieces.

Burt Lancaster was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics. He joined the circus as an acrobat and worked there until he was injured. It was in the Army during WW II that he was introduced to the USO and acting. After he started acting, one of his demands to the studios was that he have a high bar set up on sets and locations so he could perform acrobatics and stay in shape. Until undergoing emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery in 1983, he maintained the fantastic physical health he attained as an acrobat in his youth. He impressed many who knew him with his apparently enormous strength.theflame

Interesting to note, on set, Burt was known as a grump, he would have been the perfect Grumpy Old Man. He admitted that an odd thing always happened to him on a movie set. He would complain about everything, sometimes very loudly. By the end of the shoot however, the crews loved him and hated to see him go, despite his complaints. He never understood why that happened. His son Bill Lancaster’s screenplay for The Bad News Bears (1976) was based on his experience being coached by his father. Bill had been disabled by polio as a child, and according to friend Joel Douglas – the son of Kirk Douglas – the Tatum O’Neal character in the film, the odd kid out, was Bill. The coach played by Walter Matthau was based on Burt, who was known for his grumpiness.

The Flame and the Arrow was directed by Jacques Tourneur for Warner Bros.The-Flame-The-Arrow11

Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page ):

Glossary of stunt terms as defined by the Wikipedia – Acrobatics is the performance of extraordinary feats of balance, agility, and motor coordination. It can be found in many of the performing arts as well as in many sports. Acrobatics is most often associated with activities that make extensive use of gymnastic elements, such as acro dance, circus, and gymnastics, but many other athletic activities — such as ballet and diving — may also employ acrobatics. Although acrobatics is most commonly associated with human body performance, it may also apply to other types of performance, such as aerobatics.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

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