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‘Revolt in the Fifth Dimension’: Spider-Man goes psychedelic in his weirdest adventure
01.26.2015
10:56 am

Topics:
Animation
Television

Tags:
Spider-Man


 
“Revolt in the Fifth Dimension” is a 1967 episode of the old Spider-Man cartoon which was directed by a then 25-year-old Ralph Bakshi. It was in part fashioned from reused animation cells from an episode of a Canadian cartoon called Rocket Robin Hood that Bakshi had recently produced. Spider-Man was simply substituted for Rocket Robin Hood on the animation backgrounds. This el cheapo production method ended up yielding an episode of Spider-Man where the plot was more Doctor Strange than the kind of stuff everyone’s friendly neighborhood webslinger usually got up to.

The synopsis from TV.com:

A dying scientist from the destroyed planet Goth in the deceased galaxy of Kamosah must land his crippled spaceship on Earth and, before expiring, entrusts Spiderman [sic] with a tiny but encyclopedic library of information, including the secrets of a dimension of living thought, whose one-eyed, skeletal ruler, Infinata, wants this information destroyed.

 

 
For reasons no longer specifically recalled, this was the only episode of the Spider-Man cartoon series that ABC either chose not to air in the first place, or when they repeated the series, although it lived on in syndication for years afterward. Reports are conflicting.

The possible reason they didn’t transmit (or rerun) this memorable episode might be how acid-tinged and druggy it is—not that the overt death theme and flying sperm wouldn’t have been enough!

It’s worth recalling that Bakshi, who famously animated Robert Crumb’s horny Fritz the Cat, the race fable Coonskin and the first big screen adaptation of Lord of the Rings, made a controversial episode of Mighty Mouse in the 1980s where the main character is seen charging up for battle by inhaling a “special powder” out of a flower!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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CGI versions of classic film trailers: ‘Grease,’ ‘Apocalypse Now,’ ‘Alien’ & ‘The Big Lebowski’

apocbrananima.jpg
 
A crack team of second year Character Animators and CG Artists at The Animation Workshop/VIA UC in Viborg, Denmark, were given the task of producing 30-second trailers inspired by classic movies. The animators produced a selection of beautifully executed work which included trailers for Francis Ford Coppola’s last great movie Apocalypse Now, Wim Wenders’ cult hit Paris Texas, everyone’s holiday season favorite Casablanca and the rock ‘n’ roll musical Grease—which has been made into an interesting hybrid using elements from Tron and Blade Runner.

Previous trailers made by the workshop include Alien and The Big Lebowski (which has hints of Kung Fu Panda in it)—all of these and others can be viewed here.

The Animation Workshop is considered to be “one of the most dedicated animation institutions in the world,” and you can have god look at their back catalog here.
 

Apocalypse Now
 

Paris Texas
 

Casablanca
 

Grease
 
Bonus trailer for ‘Alien’ and ‘The Big Lebowski,’ after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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A fate worse than death: Your dead pet sings from beyond the grave!
12.30.2014
07:26 am

Topics:
Animals
Animation
R.I.P.

Tags:
dead pets


 
As astonishing awfulness goes, pet memorial videos from petphotofun.com have a TON of poor-taste bases covered, all crammed in to an uncomfortable interstice between bathos, death, and cute animal pics. Pet Photo Fun specializes in animating pet photos, so your adorable furry companion appears to be speaking or singing. They’ll do this with customized messages, so for example you can send your best pal a birthday e-card featuring his or her favorite quadruped companion singing a birthday tribute.

Prepare yourself for a gainer into a bottomless well of impossible mawkishness.
 

 
Ain’t that somethin’? The digital pitch-shifting applied to the “animal” voice just ramps the discomfort factor up through the roof. So take that level of delirious, treacly maudlinism and apply it to a creepily animated photo of a deceased pet delivering its lifetime human companion a message from beyond the grave. For $30, the pet will sing Pet Photo Fun’s purpose-composed and heavy-handed original song “Think of Me and Smile.” For $60, the song will be delivered with an additional personalized message.

I realize that as tacky and ghoulish as this all is, there are folks out there who’d be genuinely moved to receive one, and I wouldn’t dream of invalidating their grief, but all things being equal, when her time comes, I’d be perfectly happy with my dog’s picture just in a frame.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The Ho Ho Horror: Patton Oswalt’s amazing ‘Rudolph’ meets ‘Apocalypse Now’ parody


 
I can vividly remember growing up and watching those Rankin/Bass holiday specials every year. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. The New Year’s one I recall best, because I had, shall we say, “prominent” ears as a child, so I felt the Baby New Year’s pain when everyone cried “Those EARS!!” It was still a great program. And who can forget the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus?

In Silver Screen Fiend, his forthcoming follow-up to his 2011 memoir Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt discusses in great detail his twentysomething years as an addict of cinema, and part of the tale involves his stint as a writer on MADtv in the mid-1990s. Oswalt excoriates himself for being a terrible employee of Rupert Murdoch, pitching abstruse sketch ideas and then not bothering to try to execute them properly and sneering at anyone in his orbit who didn’t happen to be swooning over Sam Peckinpah that very minute. He’s very hard on himself, but I suspect he threw in more useful writing ideas and was easier to get along with than he remembers—there’s a reason he stayed there for roughly two years, after all, and a reason The King of Queens wanted him as a featured player even though his acting chops were still being honed.
 

 
In any case, one of his cinephile pitches was to do a version of Francis Ford Coppola’s fractured 1979 masterpiece Apocalypse Now in the form of a Rankin/Bass Christmas special. It turns out they did it, but only after Oswalt was no longer on staff. Here’s a brief excerpt from Silver Screen Fiend on the subject in which he spreads the credit around as widely as possible:
 

There I was … at MADtv, struggling to explain to a network suit what Apocalypse Now was, and how it could be funny if done through the prism of a Rankin Bass special.* 

* They eventually shot my idea—a year after I left the show. Well, I really didn’t leave. They didn’t have me back. And with good fucking reason. I was a judgmental, sour asshole of a writer. Quick with a criticism and never with a fix. A comedy and film snob who rolled his eyes half the time and turned in typo-filled scripts. But they shot it. And put my name in the credits. Misspelled. Revenge? They were entitled. The sketch was called “A Pack of Gifts Now,” and it was lovingly animated by a stop-motion genius named Corky Quakenbush. An elf [actually a reindeer—Editor] is sent by toy makers to the North Pole to terminate “the Kringle” and his cultlike operation of toy makers “with extreme prejudice.” And, ironically enough, one of the producers I clashed with, Fax Bahr—who codirected the documentary Hearts of Darkness, about the making of … Apocalypse Now—shepherded the sketch through, with all of my visual jokes and references intact, and plenty of his own, which made the sketch even better. Even got a mention in TV Guide. Thanks, Fax. Sorry I was such a dick. Part of being in your twenties is not knowing an ally when you see one.

 
Not too surprisingly, given Oswalt’s status as a passionate consumer of comic books, movies, and TV shows, the details of the sketch, also executed to perfection, are what make it work—the use of eggnog as a substitute for scotch, the substitution of “Saskatchewan” for “Saigon” and “the Kringle” for “the colonel.”

For more on those early Rankin/Bass TV specials as well as “A Pack of Lies Now,” check out The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass by Rick Goldschmidt.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘The Junky’s Christmas’: The William S. Burroughs short film presented by Francis Ford Coppola


 
If you have even the most passing knowledge of the life and work of William S. Burroughs, nothing should seem more out of the ordinary than finding the author of surreal heroin tomes nodding pensively at the beginning of this 1993 Francis Ford Coppola-produced short film directed by Nick Donkin and Melodie McDaniel. I couldn’t help but chuckle watching Burroughs appear in a cozy, holiday-themed room complete with a roaring fireplace, tinsel and an amply lit Christmas tree. The film’s opening sequence reeks of an inappropriate wholesomeness, and the former bug powder purveyor looks as innocent as a kind old granddad ready to tell a bunch of rug rats to grab some hot cocoa and gather around for a tale of Christmas cheer. What, exactly, is going on here?

Then, Burroughs pulls a copy of his 1989 collection of short stories, Interzone off of a bookshelf and opens it to the piece called “The Junky’s Christmas.” As the black and white film cuts away to claymation, Burroughs begins to narrate the sad story of Danny, a heroin addicted hustler who finds himself being let out of New York City jail cell on Christmas morning with no cash and no immediate source for his much needed fix. Now we’re in familiar Burroughs territory. 
 

 
Well, sort of. If you’ve read it, you know the story, but now try to imagine the bleak, back-alley Christmas narrative read by Burroughs while classic holiday tunes and beats from the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy mingle with his monotone. If you haven’t read it, I won’t spoil it for you entirely, but suffice it to say that Danny the fiending anti-hero shares a holiday gift with an ailing fellow tenant in a shitty rented room after spending the day being kicked around New York City looking to score. Helping the guy out proves to be an act of kindness for which Danny is supernaturally rewarded. 

Burroughs’ story itself is gritty, odd, sad, touching and revelatory in its way. But we’re talking about the short film as a whole here, and the ending, I think, is meant to add something. We cut back to the holiday scene from the beginning, the claymation goes away, Burroughs closes the book and walks into a previously unseen dining room filled with smiling partygoers surrounding a classic holiday dinner spread. In the closing sequence that follows, Burroughs joins the other Christmas revelers in raising a toast. He also helps carve the turkey. The whole thing comes off as kind of silly, but the juxtaposition is perhaps meant a reminder to think about how lucky some of us are. Or, on second thought, maybe it’s just supposed to add a layer of weirdness. Either way, check it out below.

Notably, James Grauerholz, bibliographer and literary executor of Burroughs’ estate, is listed in the credits as one of the Christmas guests.

A different version of this story appeared in Burroughs’ Exterminator! originally published in 1973 as “The “Priest” They Called Him” which itself was read by Burroughs over Kurt Cobain guitar noise and released in 1993.
 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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Bugs Bunny’s racist adventure
11.25.2014
08:48 am

Topics:
Animation
Race

Tags:
World War II
Bugs Bunny


 
So many friends of mine are Disney fanatics, but I’ve always been partial to Warner Brothers cartoons. Most of the classic Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote and Daffy Duck cartoons still make me bust a gut. When I watch the 70-year-old “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips,” however, it just makes my face burn and sweat pool in my shoes. It’s a long, uncomfortable, ugly eight minutes. Caveat spectator.

For reasons that will be immediately apparent, you probably did not see this extravagantly racist WWII-era propaganda cartoon during the Saturday mornings of your childhood. Wikipedia says it was released on home video collections in the early ‘90s, but these were quickly withdrawn after the studio received complaints. In any event, it was conspicuously absent from Bugs & Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons and the Looney Tunes DVD set that covers this period.

I first saw it on a millionth-generation VHS I rented from a video store in Berkeley, the same place I first found a copy of Robert Frank’s famously unreleasable Rolling Stones documentary, Cocksucker Blues. That bootleg of “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips” looked and sounded about as bad as the “restored” version Spike TV posted several years ago, only the color was even more washed-out.

Recently, a much higher quality copy has surfaced online. While it’s not crystal clear, and the top of the frame is still cut off, at least the headache you get watching it will be attributable to racism alone. The wretched quality of the bootleg wouldn’t let you forget the cartoon’s contraband status, which—for me, at least—made the short slightly less disturbing: it was marked as a banned film, never to be screened again. Here, it just looks like another Saturday morning with Bugs. 
 

Definitely NSFW.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Homophobic hate preacher tweets cartoon mash-up admitting he’s a ‘homosexual sodomite’

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Anti-gay self-ordained fruitcake “pastor” Dr. James David Manning accidentally tweeted a satirical cartoon mash-up—in which he confesses to being a “homosexual sodomite”—to his 4,215 Twitter followers.
 

 
“Pastor” Manning—a guest of Sean Hannity’s from time to time—was last seen propagating claims that Starbucks allegedly was using “sodomite semen” to flavor their lattes (This is hardly a secret: they had to get it somewhere and as everyone knows semen farmers tend to turn a blind eye as to the sexual orientation of their “studs.”) Manning has urged his followers to boycott the coffee franchise for putting jizz in their drinks.

In Adam Reake’s video, “Pastor” Manning of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem, is seen as a cartoon figure discussing the “semen” coffee story:
 

 
Reake continues his “interview” with Manning in a follow-up animation:
 

 
Via the Independent.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Watch ‘Angel,’ the 1966 Canadian government-funded art film starring Leonard Cohen


 
Before Leonard Cohen became known as a singer-songwriter, he was a trust-fund kid struggling to be a writer and poet. This is why the 1966 short Angel (a product of the National Film Board of Canada), credits him with, “Music by poet Leonard Cohen, played by The Stormy Clovers”; The Stormy Clovers were one of Cohen’s early musical projects—here’s their version of “Suzanne”. I’ve seen the film once before, but was excited to see it on Vimeo in high definition—the clarity really highlights the the stark contrast of what looks to be overexposed film that’s been run through an old school analog video switcher.

The premise isn’t elaborate; a woman in decorative wings frolics with a man (an uncredited Cohen), and a dog. The man then tries on the wings, before they are put on the dog. A tryst is implied, then the woman leaves, much to both their resigned dismay. It’s all incredibly lovely, with a striking minimalist aesthetic and an intimate soundtrack. The film received Honourable Mention at the (Canadian) International Annual Film Festival, a Chris Certificate Award in the Graphic Arts Category at the International Film and Video Festival (US), First Prize in the Arts and Experimental category at the Genie Awards (Canada) and Special Mention at the Festival of Canadian Films.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Crack Master’: Rarely seen 1975 ‘Sesame Street’ cartoon supposedly too dark for kids
11.07.2014
01:39 pm

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
Sesame Street


The Crack Master watches you as you sleep…
 
The premise of the 1975 Sesame Street cartoon “Crack Master” AKA “Cracks” sounds like a bad trip. A girl lays on her bed staring at cracks on the wall. She imagines them into a menagerie of playmates—a camel, a monkey and a hen become her new friends. But wait—there is another animated crack—The Crack Master—who bears only ill will towards our protagonist and her comrades! The Crack Master eventually collapses from his own hatred, but it’s hardly a resolution that inspires optimism. A girl lives in a dilapidated building full of animated, sometimes malevolent indicators of rot, and her only hope for defeating these monsters is the further deterioration of her home? What the hell?

The short developed an infamous reputation, due to both the impression it made on a myriad of distressed young viewers, and the early withdrawal of the cartoon—it was only shown eleven times before disappearing from public view for years, breeding rumors that it had been banned. In 2009, a dedicated citizen named Jon Armond managed to get a copy from a very anonymous source under two conditions: the source’s identity must be kept an absolute secret, and the cartoon must never be distributed. In a (pretty funny) audio narrative Armond says the source claimed the cartoon wasn’t banned for its ominousness, merely retired. Sesame Street has a bit of a reputation for litigiousness when it comes to copyright, but they’re a product of public television, so why all the cloak and dagger? It’s possible the show is still a little embarrassed by the short’s inadvertently dark tone.

Now of course, the infamous is available on YouTube, so watch—if you dare.
 

 
Via Watch This Thing

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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The last words of Dutch Schultz, the cartoon
11.07.2014
07:36 am

Topics:
Animation
History
Movies

Tags:
Gerrit van Dijk
Dutch Schultz


 
People throw around the word “sociopath” a lot these days, but Dutch Schultz was a man who could commit murder “just as casually as if he were picking his teeth”—or so his own lawyer said. Dutch Schultz: The Brazen Beer Baron of New York tells how the gangster and his partner hung an uncooperative bootlegger “by his thumbs from a meat hook and beat him viciously,” wrapping a bandage around his eyes that “had been liberally coated with discharge from a gonorrhoeal sore.” The bootlegger went blind; Dutch went to the top of the world, ma! Then there’s this heartwarming anecdote about the Dutchman from Five Families:

When he suspected that one of his long-time trusted lieutenants, Bo Weinberg, was plotting against him with Italian mobsters, Schultz personally encased Weinberg’s legs in cement and dumped him into the Hudson River while still alive.

 

 
At the time of his death, Schultz was planning to murder special prosecutor Thomas Dewey in defiance of the wishes of the other major figures in organized crime, a hubristic move that likely resulted in the gangster’s own demise. On October 23, 1935, gunmen shot down Schultz and his men in Newark’s Palace Chop House. As he lay dying in the hospital with a 106-degree fever and bullet holes in his trunk, a police stenographer transcribed his ravings.

It is no use to stage a riot. The sidewalk was in trouble and the bears were in trouble and I broke it up. Please put me in that room. Please keep him in control. My gilt-edged stuff and those dirty rats have tuned in.

Please get me up my friends; I know what I speak of. Please, look out, the shooting is a bit wild, and that kind of shooting. Saved a man’s life. Oh, Elmer was. No, everything frightening; yes, no payrolls, no walls, no coupons.

Oh, sir, get the doll a roofing. You can play jacks and girls do that with a softball and do tricks with it. I take all events into consideration. No. No. And it is no. It is confused and it says no. A boy has never wept nor dashed a thousand kim.

French-Canadian bean soup. I want to pay. Let them leave me alone.

 

 
These utterances were then scrutinized for all kinds of hidden meanings—not least for clues to the location of Dutch’s buried millions. Authors William S. Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson, however, found something else fascinating in the transcript; both men spoke as if it was at once the coded prophecy of a gangland oracle and a high modernist poem. Burroughs wrote a screenplay, The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, which was never filmed despite his efforts to sell it in Hollywood, and Schultz’s last words feature in Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus! trilogy.
 

 
Victor Bockris records how Burroughs described the deathbed scene, and its relationship to the modernists, to Lou Reed in 1978:

You don’t know about the last words of Dutch Schultz? You obviously don’t know. They had a stenographer at his bedside in the hospital taking down everything he said. These cops are sitting around asking him questions, sending out for sandwiches, it went on for 24 hours. He’s saying things like, “A boy has never wept nor dashed a thousand kim,” and the cops are saying, “C’mon, don’t give us that. Who shot ya?” It’s incredible. Gertrude Stein said that he outdid her. Gertrude really liked Dutch Schultz.

 

 
In 2003, Dutch filmmaker Gerrit van Dijk used Schultz’s last words as the basis for an animated film, intercut with TV-style live-action dramatizations of the Palace Chop House shooting. Rutger Hauer, Schultz’s voice in the short, gives a surprisingly understated performance. The animated portion of the film represents Dutch’s subjectivity roaming freely through time and space, hallucinating past and future. Anachronisms slip into the 1930s world of newsboys, gangsters and gun molls: while Dutch rambles, Mike Tyson bites off Evander Holyfield’s ear, John F. Kennedy’s head explodes, O.J. Simpson is declared not guilty, and the first plane hits the World Trade Center. Even if none of this is up your street, the rotoscoping is quite beautiful, and there’s always the possibility that you’ll crack the code and find the Dutchman’s buried millions.
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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