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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Found: Black Angel

If you're at least 38 years old, you may remember a short film that was shown jointly with the theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. (I'm way past old enough, but have no recollection of that year at all.) The short film was Black Angel, produced with gift money of £25,000 from George Lucas for his appreciation of the art direction provided by Roger Christian in Star Wars.

Mr. Christian used the money to produce a moody, mystical fantasy art film set in the middle ages. The film was lost for many years following an illness suffered by Mr. Christian, but nevertheless was quite influential to filmmakers. Fortunately, a half-inch print of the film has been found. ShadowLocked has an excellent and exclusive interview with Black Shadow director Roger Christian. In the article containing the interview, you'll find stills from the film and conversation about its making and history.

An interesting quote from the interview:

"Cinema has changed so much, and I bless Peter Jackson [director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy], because he gave the world what it didn't know it wanted, and brought this kind of fantasy world into huge mainstream cinema, finally. And did it so beautifully."

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oscar Awards and Speculative Fiction

The Oscar winners have been announced. Here is the official list of the nominees and winners of the 82nd Academy Awards.

Speculative fiction films made a showing. Avatar scored well, winning art direction, cinematography and visual effects. But James Cameron and company, with so many other nominations, was vexed nearly every step of the way by The Hurt Locker: directing, film editing, best picture, sound editing and sound mixing. Maybe the billions in ticket sales will take the sting out of this for Cameron. Avatar eclipsed the previous ticket sales leader, Titanic, but that's his film, too. (I won't even mention Aliens and The Terminator.)

The other major speculative film win was Up with animated feature film.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nebula, Stoker and Saturn Ballots/Awards

The writing awards season has begun with three prestigious ballots or awards:

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has named their short list for the 2009 Nebula Awards. Their categories include short story, novel, novelette, novella, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. John Scalzi has two nominations, for the novella and young adult science fiction and fantasy categories.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced their ballot for the 2009 Stoker Award nominees. They include categories for superior achievement in a novel, first novel, long fiction, short fiction, anthology, collection, nonfiction and poetry.

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films (Academy) has announced their finalists for the 35th annual Saturn Awards. Here are the Saturn Award nominations and the Saturn Award winners (link will eventually change). The Dark Knight won five awards. Iron Man won the best science fiction film. This award has numerous categories, including films, directors, writers, actors, music and others.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oscar Nominations--Speculative Fiction

Go to the Oscars site for the full list of Oscar nominations for 2010 (82nd Academy Awards). Perusing the list, you'll find these speculative fiction films (including mysteries) considered for an Academy Award (some categories omitted):

Animated feature film

  • “Coraline” Henry Selick
  • “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
  • “The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
  • “The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore
  • “Up” Pete Docter

Art direction

  • “Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
  • “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
  • “Sherlock Holmes” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer


  • “Avatar” Mauro Fiore
  • “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Bruno Delbonnel


  • "Avatar" James Cameron

Film editing

  • “Avatar” Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • “District 9” Julian Clarke

Music (Original Score)

  • “Avatar” James Horner
  • “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Sherlock Holmes” Hans Zimmer
  • “Up” Michael Giacchino

Best Film

  • “Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
  • “District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
  • “Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer

Writing (adapted screenplay)

  • “District 9” Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell

Writing (original screenplay)

  • “Up” Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Speculative Films, January-March, 2010

Here is a speculative film synopsis of the Wikipedia general round-up of movies to be released January-March 2010. See the Wikipedia article on films for 2010 for more details about the films noted here as well as the non-speculative films opening in the same time frame. Note that if a release week is not mentioned below, there were no speculative releases for that week.

Jan. 8:

  • Daybreakers is a vampire thriller film written and directed by Peter and Michael Spierig, and starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill.

Jan 15:

  • The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic film directed by the Hughes brothers and starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis.

Jan 22:

  • Legion is an apocalyptic fantasy film directed by Scott Stewart and starring an ensemble cast headed by Paul Bettany.
  • Tooth Fairy is a comedy-fantasy film directed by Michael Lembeck and starring Dwayne Johnson and Julie Andrews.
  • Edge of Darkness is a crime/drama film adaptation of the 1985 BBC television series of he same name, directed by Martin Campbell and starring Mel Gibson and Ray Winstone.

Feb. 12:

  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a fantasy-adventure film directed by Chris Columbus and starring Logan Lerman alongside an ensemble cast. The film is an adaptation of the novel, The Lightning Thief.
  • The Wolfman is a 2010 remake of the 1941 classic horror film The Wolf Man, directed by Joe Johnston and starring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Art Malik.

Feb. 19:

  • Shutter Island is a horror thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film is based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane.

Feb. 26:

  • The Crazies is a horror film that is a remake of George A. Romero's 1973 film of the same name, directed by Breck and starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson and Danielle Panabake.

Mar. 5:

  • Alice in Wonderland is a fantasy-adventure film directed by Tim Burton and starring Mia Wasikowska as Alice, alongside Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as The White Queen, and Crispin Glover as The Knave of Hearts. The film is an extension to the Lewis Carroll novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

SF YouTube Video Nets $30M Movie Contract

According to a BBC News report, a Uruguayan producer spent about $30 (excluding sweat equity, no doubt) on a conceptual SF video about an alien attack on Montevideo. His work received no little attention from Hollywood and he's been offered a six-orders-of-magnitude increase over his investment ($30M) to produce a feature film. The film will be produced in Uruguay and Argentina.

You have to see Fede Alvarez's short film, "Ataque de Panico!" (YouTube link. The BBC link is a slightly shortened Adobe Flash version.)

¡Buenos suerte, Sr. Alvarez! (I'm available as co-producer.)

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Scary/Funny History of Horror

IO9 has a brief overview of horror that tickles the funny bone, whatever the intent might have been. The article writer warns that the article wasn't intended as a comprehensive retrospective; rather, it addresses the categories: 1920s stage plays, comedy teams and camp of the 30s and 40s (Abbott and Costello, for example), 60s anarchy, self-aware campiness, Ghostbusters/Gremlins and more, Troma comedies of the 80s (Surf Nazis Must Die), werewolf/vampire humor, body horror/comedy, the rise of Sam Raimi, Christopher Moore, creature features, Buffy etc., Chucky/Leprechaun films, horror spoofs, and zombie romance/comedies.

IO9 posted some nice graphics with this short look at horror-comedy film history.

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