August 18

Predator, 1987

Hello again and welcome back to an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This is a very special time for J. Blake and Dion Baia, because this signifies the 20th anniversary of their friendship. So they decided to tackle a movie that not only turns 30 this year, but also was something that they mutually loved when they entered film school and bonded over when they shared a dorm room. So this go around the boys are talking the Arnold Schwarzenegger/John McTiernan classic, Predator, from 1987!

Predator, 1987

After briefly reminiscing about their serendipitous pairing freshman year in college, Dion and Blake immediately realize that this is the first movie where the entire cast and most of the prominent crew have already appeared on SNMS, and should all be inducted in the SNMS Hall of Fame. The boys then get into the nuts and bolts of the film, while not in anyway hiding their love for this property. They first have an in depth discussion about the original alien suit and the Jean-Claude Van Damme controversy, and what led to bringing in Stan Winston for a complete redesign of that suit, to what we all love and know today. They compare elements of the novelization and some of the significant differences between it and the story we see in the finished film. And Dion also proposes a new theory for the creatures’ initial motivation to engage Arnold‘s elite team. So, in the novelization, why is the Predator hunting humans in the first place? What famous story concerning the folklore of this film does Blake take slight umbrage with? Does Van Damme actually get a raw deal here through the prism of history? And how many quotes and imitations can the boys fit into one humble podcast? Well grab your gear, face-paint and M134 miniguns, and make sure you watch your six, cause the boys are taking ‘Old Painless into the jungle and down memory lane on this all new and very special installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! #sleepovermischief

*Dion misspoke during the podcast- he meant the term “Over The Transom.

Extras:

Here is some footage and behind the scenes of the original Predator costume with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and the story behind it.

Check out a deleted scene talked about in the podcast, of Dutch attempting to escape the Predator.

For more information about all the unique and custom weaponry in this film, check out it’s Internet Movie Firearms Database webpage!

Have a look at a great ‘making-of’ documentary from 1987, for Predator.

Take a glance at the original theatrical trailer for the film.

Lastly, here is Dion with Jesse ‘the Body’ Ventura, circa 2006 or 2007.

July 7

Spider-Man, 1977

Welcome True Believers to another all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week J. Blake and Dion Baia are talking a character that is a personal favorite of the boys- particularly J. Blake -and with a new film hitting theaters this week, what better time then to discuss a certain New York City Web-Slinger! That’s right, your ‘friendly neighborhood Spider-Man‘ is the topic and his journey through television with an emphasis on the 1977 TV movie entitled just Spider-Man, and the live-action series that blossomed out of that movie pilot, The Amazing Spider-Man, which ran from 1978 to 1979.

Spider-man

With such a huge topic to cover, the boys initially set out to only talk the 1970’s live-action series but decided they needed to touch on the original 1967 Spider-Man cartoon series that ran until 1970, as well as the first live-action appearance of the character which appeared on of all places, PBS, on 1970’s series The Electric Company. They also felt compelled to discuss the little known, but amazing (no pun intended… or maybe it was…) live-action Japanese TV show entitled Spider-Man (or Supaidâman) that ran from 1978-1979, coinciding with the live-action America series. The fellas do touch upon the other iterations of Spidey in his various animated forms but set up the conversation by going into how much of an influence the character was for Blake growing up, even as far as a very young Blake (with the help of his Mom) submitting Spider-Man artwork to Marvel in hopes of becoming an artist there. The boys then go through the history of the character: summing up comics in the Golden Age, specifically pre and post war; Timely / Atlas Comics’ evolution into Marvel Comics; and Stan Lee‘s fight to breakout of the then-standard storytelling molds for comic books of the day, to be able to tell new kinds of stories that humanize the characters portrayed within. From the 1967 cartoon and appearances on The Electric Company, they dive deep into the 1977 TV movieBackdoor Pilot‘ (as it was called), to the last two-part episode of that series in 1979 called The Chinese Web, released theatrically later as The Dragon’s Challenge overseas. They also breakdown the pilot to the 1978 Japanese show and try to put into words how much the Japanese show blew their minds… So could it be argued that Spider-Man‘s origin story is in fact more tragic than Batman‘s? How does the life-action adaptations from the 70’s hold up? And just how freaking amazing is the Japanese show really? Well make sure you grab some extra web cartridges, your camera and pack a lunch, cause we’re swinging through the glass and cement canyons of New York City this week in an all new and exciting installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Excelsior!!!

*(This podcast was recorded prior to the passing of Stan Lee’s wife, Joan. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to Mr. Lee and his family.)

EXTRAS:

Take a look at Blake’s Turkish Spider-Man poster for the theatrical release of The Dragon’s Challenge, signed by Stan Lee! AND here is the American edition of that same poster.

As brought up in the podcast, here is a link to the Society of Illustrators‘ current exhibit on The Art of Spider-Man.

Check out the original 1977 ‘Backdoor Pilot’ TV movie that greenlit the 1970’s series, courtesy of YouTube

Here’s Stan Lee talking about why he disliked the 1978-79 American television series.

Have a look at the great opening for the 1978-79 Japanese series, with subtitles!

And if you didn’t believe the boys about the awesomeness of the Japanese series, have a look at this trailer for it’s re-release from Marvel.com!

For anyone who didn’t know or forgot this existed, please check out the full video of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, from 1986, starring Stan Lee and John Buscema!

Also discussed in the podcast, have a listen to Michael Bublé‘s great big band cover of the 1967 animated series theme, which starts as Sing Sing Sing and segues into Spider-Man. And to the show how popular this rarity must of been overseas, check out this live version with stage show, on Italian TV!

June 23

Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988

Welcome back to another exciting edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers. This week J. Blake and Dion Baia are going “way down the alley“, to discuss a monumental film that marked a seminal event in cinema history, something that to this day has never been replicated. What is it you might ask? Well have a listen as the boys talk the film noir/live-action/animated mash-up, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, from 1988!

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Dion and Blake jump right into things, reminiscing about the late 80s, discussing the time period this film was released within. Another movie highlighting the glory of the pre-CGI era, the fellas analyze the various practical methods used to bring this amazing story to the silver screen, from the hand-drawn cell animation, to the practical SFX, to the sheen ILM applied to help make the finished product look that much more ‘real’. The boys go through the 1981 Gary Wolf book the film is based on Who Censored Roger Rabbit? and the similarities and major differences in plot and tone. Blake and Dion attempt to add perspective and really underscore how amazing this project was to be able to bring together various characters from Warner Bros., Disney and Tex Avery‘s troupe at MGM– a colossal feat that still 29 years on, hasn’t again been achieved. They also discuss meeting pioneering animation Ink and Painter Martha Sigall, who personally knew icons like Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc, as well as meeting Hanna Barbara legend Bob Singer. So how dark is this film really, even though it was billed as a children’s picture? And is the book actually much darker? What is the real-life plot point in Roger Rabbit that audiences forget actually happened, and how is it somehow related to Robert Towne‘s Chinatown series? And what is Dion‘s Bob Hoskins story- did he actually carry him around on his back, Yoda-style for a day? Well get ready and make sure you take your heart medicine, because the lads are taking you on a trip into Toontown in this all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*Dean Cundey actually directed Honey We Shrunk Ourselves, not the original Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

EXTRAS:

PLEASE check out our EXCLUSIVE interview with the late legendary Ink and Painter Martha Sigall about her career in the animation business, in a time when the industry was still in it’s infancy.

PLEASE check out our EXCLUSIVE interview with Hanna Barbara legend Bob Singer, as he reminisces about his work at the animation studios, and discusses the iconic characters he helped create.

Here is Dion with the amazing Bob Hoskins in 2005, when the former carried the latter on his back for a day while undergoing his Jedi training.

Have a look at this great 1988 behind-the-scenes TV special, Roger Rabbit and the Secrets of Toontown, hosted by Joanna Cassidy.

Take a look at this rare deleted scene, entitled the “Pighead Sequence.

Check out the three rare Roger Rabbit post-film shorts: Tummy Trouble, from 1989; Roller Coaster Rabbit from 1990; and from 1993,Trail Mix-Up!

May 12

The Fifth Element, 1997

Hello and welcome to another all new, exciting edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This go around Dion Baia and J. Blake are celebrating the 20th anniversary of a Sci-Fi film that is held in a very high regard by many and conversely disliked by many others- so much so that upon it’s release it was hailed as both the best and worst summer blockbuster of all time! Wow, how polarizing! But the fellas are talking a SNMS audience favorite this week with Luc Besson‘s iconic film The Fifth Element, from 1997.

The Fifth Element

After briefly chatting about epic hair pieces and martial-art movies, Blake and Dion get down to business and reminisce about the summer of 1997 when this film was released and all the other movies they remember that were out that season. The boys both relate their experiences of seeing The Fifth Element in the theater, and discuss director Luc Besson‘s catalog, particularly his 2008 classic Taken, and their mutual love for the director’s film prior to this one, Léon: The Professional. They go into the background in the creation of Fifth Element‘s story, and the journey Besson went on getting this to the screen. They look at the gorgeous futuristic world that was created by French artists Jean-Claude Mézières and Jean (Moebius) Giraud, and the subsequential lawsuit that was filed against Besson after the film’s release. Dion and Blake gush over their mutual love for Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman, and attempt to contrast this movie against other futuristic, Future Noir, Sci-Fi properties that are comparable to this one. They speculate on Chris Tucker‘s potential real-life influences on his Ruby Rhod character, and also note Besson‘s reoccuring theme of older men helping younger women (or even young girls as in The Professional ) and how it oddly, in his case, mimics the director’s real life to an extent. So does the pairing of CGI, miniature and Practical Effects hold up, and because of their pairing, actually help the longevity? Why is this film so darn polarizing to fans and critics to begin with? And did John Carpenter actually successfully sue Luc Besson? Well grab your Multi Passes, your Zorg Industries ZF-1 Pod Weapons Systems, and make sure you’re blocking any incoming calls from Mr. Shadow, because we’re all going to the 23rd Century this week and an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Here’s China Pop Diva Jane Chang doing the impossible, singing live the Diva Dance.

Take a look at Milla Jovovich’s screen test for The Fifth Element.

Have a gander at Milla Jovovich’s costume tests for Leeloo.

Check out Milla Jovovich talking about being 19 and being cast in The Fifth Element.

Take a look at Chris Tucker talking about playing Ruby Rhod.

Here’s some great behind the scenes footage of The Fifth Element.

Have a look at the official 1997 Cannes Press Conference with the cast and crew.

Now take a look at the MTV hosted Cannes Afterparty for The Fifth Element.

April 15

SNMS Supplemental: Shattered Hulls Side-Cast

SNMS Side CastAs mentioned in the latest podcast on the epic 1980 film Raise the Titanic, Dion Baia in 2012 with his then cohost Brian Zino of their podcast The Podwits on the 100th anniversary of that ship’s sinking, recorded a 3-part podcast in which they talk about other massive maritime disasters that many have forgotten in modern times. Both sharing a morbid fascination, and starting at the turn of the 20th century, Dion and Brian hit on numerous sinkings that were huge and world-changing at the times they occurred.

What connects these to the last SNMS podcast on Raise the Titanic (aside from the obvious disaster-at-sea aspect), is that the guys cover the fate of the many vessels brought up in that podcast, like theTitanic‘s sister ships RMS Olympic (and the incident occurring with her that had it not have happened, it maybe would have saved the Titanic from her fate), HMHS Britannic, and what the fourth funnel, which the boys lovingly label the ‘badass funnel‘, was actually for on these 3 ships. They also discuss the nuclear sub tragedies of the USS Thresher and USS Scorpion, which were the two naval submarines that ironically enabled Oceanographer Robert Ballad to discover the long-lost Titanic wreck in 1985. Brian and Dion also touch on their mutual love for the book and film version of Raise the Titanic.

The boys also touch on infamous events as the USS Maine, the RMS Lusitania, the Bismark, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, and until September 11th, 2001, the biggest disaster in New York City history, the tale of the PS General Slocum, among many others.

Condescended into one episode, here is the acclaimed 3-parter, in an interesting, fascinating and fact-filled podcast that is so far out in the proverbial weeds, that it is not like any podcast Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers has done before, and probably ever do again! (Below are the original descriptions for the 3 parts originally published in 2012).

Continue reading

April 14

Raise the Titanic, 1980

 

Can it be? Is it already that time? Why yes, it’s another edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week marks the 105th anniversary of the R.M.S. Titanic sinking, and having a resident expert at SNMS on the ocean liner and disaster that occurred in 1912, J. Blake and Dion Baia figured they’d pay their respects by covering a film based on the widely popular Clive Cussler novel that took the real-life event and turned it into a McGuffin for a Cold War-era espionage, intrigue, and deep-sea adventure filled story! Yes, the boys are diving to the bottom of the Atlantic this go around to take on the juggernaut Raise the Titanic, from 1980!

Raise the Titanic

This becomes the ‘conspiracy theory episode‘ for the Blake and Dion, as they jump right in and layout some ‘alternate facts‘ that have recently come to light as to the real details concerning this great ship’s sinking, in an attempt to: A.) Explain to you what you didn’t know about that faithful night; B.) What you couldn’t have known, concerning facts that have been virtually ignored for over 105 years, and C.) Tell you what they never wanted you to know, surrounding the sinking of the White Star Line ocean liner. The boys unravel an elaborate and long-winded story (boy, Dion sometimes can go on, and on, and on, and-) that only recently has been getting some traction within scientific and Titanic-historian circles, which was supposedly buried for fear of international scandal in a pre-WWI era. After this extensive yarn, the boys then jump head-first into Raise the Titanic, by going into the background of mega-author Clive Cussler and what led to his decision of not working again with Hollywood (after this movie) for almost 30 years. Dion and Blake also go into why this film ended up being the most-expensive film to date, and why this could be a great example of why the industry completely embraced CGI technology in the following decade, versus shelling out millions of dollars for practical effects. They also talk about the glorious soundtrack by composer John Barry and the speculation about the fate of this and other works of art that become deemed “lost.” So why did the movie flop at the box office? Why did the film’s budget skyrocket and almost triple, with the model and water tank costing 1 million more than it cost to construct the actual RMS Titanic in unadjusted 1912 dollars? Only recently declassified, what was the real reason oceanographer Robert Ballard was out snooping around in the Atlantic in the first place? How does the final film version of Raise the Titanic differ from the original novel? And most importantly, are the facts as you know it about the Titanic‘s sinking that fateful night the real story ? Well, if you want to know or not, the fellas put all the pieces together for you this week in another enthralling edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Here is the entire movie Raise the Titanic from 1980, courtesy of YouTube!

Have a look at the ‘supposedly’ alternate opening for Raise the Titanic.

Please have a listen to what critics say may be John Barry‘s best score, which was for Raise the Titanic.

Take a look at this great website, dedicated to all things concerning Raise the Titanic, from the Clive Cussler book, to the live-action film.

Here’s a link to the 1977 comic strip, faithfully adapted by artist Frank Bolle of Cussler‘s Raise the Titanic!

Check out this video by the group Titanic Truths LLC Historical Preservation and Salavage Design Company and their current, 2017 plan to actually raise the Titanic wreck from the bottom of the Atlantic!

For more info, here is Titanic Truths LLC‘s main website.

Take a look at the huge Titanic model used in the 1980 film as it sadly looks in 2017, rotting away in Malta.

If you liked the historical background in the episode, check out D. E. Bristow‘s out of print book, Titanic: Sinking the Myths.

Watch the entire TV special Return to the Titanic, that aired on October the 28th 1987 hosted by Telly Savalas, that was live from Paris (not London, as Dion remembered).

Here is a 2011 article Dion wrote about the conspiracy theory that the RMS Titanic was switched out by her sister ship, the RMS Olympic before her 1912 maiden voyage.

And if you want, you can now watch the Titanic sinking in REAL TIME, per this animation courtesy of YouTube.

March 17

Beauty and the Beast , 1991

It’s that time again… time for another exciting, thrilling and enthralling episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Dion Baia and J. Blake have a whammy of an installment this week: a lighthearted, musical affair from a company that at the time of this film’s release, was going through a proper-resurgence themselves. And this movie marked its crowning achievement to-date for that company’s Animation Department, which broke new ground in its pioneering uses of CGI in this project… Yes, “it is a tale as old as time” as the boys explore the enchanted world of Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, from 1991.

Beauty and the Beast

The fellas jump right in and go back to the beginning, discussing everything Disney in this epic podcast: They ‘set the table’ by giving a concise timeline on Walt‘s meteoric rise to fame, from his beginnings with the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit animated shorts and the work with his good friend and genius Ub Iwerks (among others), to bringing in Carl Stalling for help creating animated musical shorts, pioneering color cartoons and his finally creating a feature-length animated film in 1937 with the ground-breaking Snow White and the Seven DwarfsBlake and Dion follow Disney‘s journey through the war years and his upswing in the 1950s, and Walt then getting side-tracked with live-action films, a new medium called television, and theme park construction. These side ventures unconsciously begin to take its toll on the animation department and with Walt‘s death in 1966 it almost becomes rudderless, culminating with the near closing of the entire animation branch in the mid 1980s. The boys then go through the renaissance in the late 80’s that brought the famed animation unit back and to the biggest cartoon film to-date, Beauty and the Beast. They go through the history of the popular fairytale with the 1946 live-action Jean Cocteau movie, even hitting on the late 80’s TV series. Dion and Blake then discuss the work it took to get Beauty and the Beast on screen, with the brand new CAPS technology that changed the face of animation, and the work by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman that gave us all those classic songs we know today. So what 1949 Disney animated film do the lads draw similarities between? What are the controversial subtexts that some academics have read into the work and what are their perceptions of the themes within Beauty? How did Walt Disney‘s brilliance in knowing his own limitations actually help in making the company such a huge success? What important character from the 1946 Cocteau film did this Disney story borrow? What character was the song Be Our Guest originally supposed to be sung to? And what famous book-turned-to-film thriller (that is a staple in every serial killer library) do the boys find similarities with this animated classic? Well grab some popcorn and your favorite sipping drink, because the boys are taking you on a musical adventure this week with this mega, Disney-filled new installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*Dion misspoke during the cast, the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman was in fact a Universal, not Disney film.

EXTRAS!

As the boys described in the podcast, here our exclusive photos taken by them at the Disney Burbank Lot of the Ub Iwerk-designed 14′ high Multi-plane camera, HERE and HERE for the game challenger, Snow White, and check out Walt and the boys HERE and HERE, using it back in the day.

Check out the boys getting a tour from Walt and Mickey themselves, HERE and HERE!

Have a look at some of the original character design sculptures that animators used as references, that were on display at the Reagan Library Disney Exhibit.

Take a look at photos HEREHERE and HERE  the boys took of the original Animation Building that’s located on the Burbank lot (personally designed by Walt), that animators drew the films from Dumbo up to The Black Cauldron within. Check out the plaque inside the building.

And HERE and HERE are the pictures the fellas took of the corner window of the Animation Building that was Walt’s office.

Here’s the original trailer to the 1946 Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast film, narrated by Cocteau himself.

Have a gander at this chart of the different elements of animals used to make the Beast.

As talked about in the podcast, here is the Billy Joel rendition of When You Wish Upon a Star, from the 1991 Disney album Simply Mad About the Mouse.

Check out Tom Waits‘ version of Heigh Ho (The Dwarfs Marching Song) from the 1988 Disney album Stay Awake:Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films.

February 3

Masters of the Universe, 1987

Good Journey to you, and welcome back to another exciting and enthralling episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week J. Blake and Dion Baia are revisiting a cult classic film that is tied to a legendary property that was one of the biggest franchises of the 1980s. So what do you get when you take a toy maker named Mattel® and have them shack up with the 80s action B-movie giant Cannon Films? You get the topic of this week’s podcast, Masters of the Universe, from 1987.

Masters of the Universe, 1987

The boys set up the movie on hand by reminiscing about their memories of where and when they first watched this epic. They then attempt to navigate through the steeped history of the He-Man character, explaining his basic origins and his initial backstory that was set up by Mattel when they first launched the toyline, before DC Comics it picked up and developed the vast story. Dion and Blake also try and sum up the status of Cannon in the 80s and that company’s influence in cinema, and even to moviegoers of that decade and how these two unlikely bedfellows wanted to make the “Star Wars of the 1980s” (to quote the Cannon hype). And they also spell out how and why, Masters ended up being one of the building blocks that caused everything to come crashing down- ultimately junking a toyline as well as being part of completely tanking a film company. So how vast was the He-Man franchise in it’s heyday? What problems ended up plaguing the film production from day one? What other comic book and cartoon character’s film was actually in preproduction but ultimately ended up getting halted because of the financial problems of the imploding Cannon? And what was the planned sequel to Masters of the Universe that was actually in preproduction and also had to be scrapped, AND what did that script get retooled and eventually released as? Well get your battle swords, cosmic keys, and gather your fellow Eterians, because here comes another mind-blowing installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

(*CORRECTION- Within the podcast the 1989 film The Punisher is commonly referred as being a Cannon film, when it was in fact a New World production. Our apologies. Thanks)

EXTRAS:

Have a look at this 2012 panel discussion of 1987 MOTU live action film!

Here’s a great behind-the-scenes circa 1987 documentary on the film!

Check out this awesome, retro poster of the many characters, vehicles and playsets of the He-Man universe.

To completely immerse yourself in anything and everything He-Man, check out the Grayskull: The He-Man and She-Ra Wiki site devoted to the franchise.

As discussed in the podcast, here’s Dion with legendary comic book artist Mark Texeira in 2014 at 4th Annual Comic Book Marketplace Comic Convention (photo taken by Blake).

January 20

Adventures in Babysitting, 1987

Welcome back to another all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week Dion Baia and J. Blake are going deep into the video store rack in the SNMS vault, and bringing out an 1980s classic which was quietly rebooted on the Disney Channel in 2016- a Chicago-based film that integrates 80’s teen-high school drama with action, comedy, intrigue and the seedy, funky-electric blues… that’s right, the boys are showcasing the legendary movie, Adventures in Babysitting, from 1987.

Adventures in Babysitting

The podcast starts out with the fellas reminiscing about the old days of film and television and the analog equipment that predated the modern digital era; buying novelizations on the web; and then after receiving a care package from SNMS friend and cohort, the Chicago-based Mike Vanderbilt, they segue into this epic movie, Adventures in BabysittingBlake and Dion play their famous “What-if” game, and try to figure out if any of the conjecture online of the many other supposed actresses vying for the Elizabeth Shue role were truly factual. They discuss the similarities between this project–the directorial debut of Chris Columbus–and the characters and themes of another famous influential writer, producer and director of that era, the Illinois-based John Hughes. They also go into the other eccentricities related to the fabulous city Adventures takes place in, such as the fabulous R&B and Electric-Blues based soundtrack. The lads also discuss the long forgotten unsold 1989 CBS TV pilot based off the film that only aired once, and the amazing cast that starred in that spinoff. So was this Chicago-centric film really even shot in the Windy City? How long had this property ‘supposedly’ been laying around in Hollywood? And what hilarious and awkward Keith Coogan story does Blake have? And did Dion date Debbie Gibson?! Well get ready, cause the boys are talking teens-on-an-adventure, the Blues, and Playboy…among other things, in an all new edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

 

EXTRAS:

Have a look at this very rare and unsold CBS TV pilot for a 1989 Adventures in Babysitting television show!

Check out this great original 1987 TV spot for Adventures in Babysitting!

Take a listen to a some of the songs from the soundtrack to the 1987 film!

Here’s a photo from back from 2005, when Dion hung out with Debbie Gibson.

For more on Jon Mikl Thor and his current adventures, check out his webpage, found here.

January 6

John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, 1981

Happy New Year and welcome to the 2017 season opener of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! J. Blake and Dion Baia decided to start the year off with a bang, tackling a cult classic that mash’s genres and became a forerunner for a decade or more for Future Noir / Sci-Fi films alike; forecasting a bleak future for the 1980s and beyond with its commentary on society. The boys are taking a trip to the Manhattan Island Maximum-Security Prison in futuristic 1997, in John Carpenter‘s classic, Escape From New York, from 1981.

Escape From NY

Having already designated director John Carpenter the ‘patron saint’ of SNMS, Dion and Blake mince no words when singing the filmmaker’s praises for his body of work in this era. After briefly lamenting about the format change MTV went through years ago, seguing from music video to reality show, the boys get right into the nuts and bolts of the film–laying out the historical context for when the script was first written and then the climate later, circa 1980, when it was eventually put to screen. Another resource the boys like to utilize while discussing a film is the movie tie-in novelization, to fill in the blanks to any exposition left out. Here they discuss, in detail, the immense backstory that is spelled out in the Mike McQuay book adaptation, giving us sizable background on the iconic character Snake Plissken (played brilliantly by Kurt Russell) and Police Commander Bob Hauk (played by the legendary Lee Van Cleef), as well as the third World War waged and the events that led up to the actual decision as to why that society ultimately turned the island of Manhattan into a Super Max Prison. They go through the various stories of how the amazing cast of supporting actors was assembled to fill out the other roles within the film, to help ground this fantastic tale with a firm foot in reality. They also explain the creative process John Carpenter goes through as a composer, using this film as example and his first-time collaboration with composer Alan Howarth. So what troubles lay ahead because of the shoestring budget? What corners (if any) had to be cut in order to get this movie finished? What city was this film actually shot in? What other established actors were considered for the lead role? And what up-and-coming director worked on the Special Effects Unit of this film; who would later go on to create some groundbreaking Sci-Fi films in his own right? Well grab your MAC-10 machine guns and molotov cocktails, your injections of micro-explosives that will, in 22 hours, rupture your carotid arteries and buckle yourself in, because we’re flying the Gullfire over Leningrad in this all new 2017 edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Take a look at the alternate opening of the film, a bank robbery scene that Carpenter ended up cutting and then was thought to have been lost forever.

Check out this great interview with director John Carpenter about Escape From New York.

Have a look at the official 2016 John Carpenter music video for Escape From New York.

Here is demo footage of the never-released Namco Video Game, Escape From New York.

Lastly, have a listen to Episode One of Broken Sea Audio Productionsaudio drama of Escape From New York.

December 23

Santa Claus: The Movie, 1985

With Christmas just days away, J. Blake and Dion Baia decided to seek out a film that actually was the first to attempt to lay out the backstory of old St. Nick; a movie that sadly came and went, and like any good holiday film, it’s a perfect time capsule for the era it was made within. We’ve got Santa pitted against the evil and greed of the 1980s, in Jeannot Szwarc‘s Santa Claus: The Movie, from 1985.

Santa Claus the Movie

This forgotten gem starring the great Dudley Moore, David Huddleston and John Lithgow immediately have the boys thinking back to the Christmas’ of their childhood, and the memories that come along with those experiences, like the Sears and J.C. Penney catalogs and their toy sections, or shopping with Mom and watching her use coupons for everything and then get rainchecks for what was on sale but had been 86-ed. And because of the product placement and connected marketing campaign, it has Dion and Blake longing for a McDonald‘s meal circa 1985, and all it’s unhealthy heavenly glory. They discuss the superhero-esque origin story, and relish in the glorious pre-CGI practical effects, and the beauty that has been lost in those antiquated Special Effects. So playing the SNMS-patented What-if ?” game, who were some of the other directors considered to helm this film? Was a legendary horror director actually topping the list to, at one point, oversee this project? Was this entire movie, including the parts in New York City, shot on a soundstage in another country entirely? And is it really unheard of to have that many wild reindeer pull a sleigh? Well, this week the boys hook up with the Vendequm and watch them fulfill their centuries-old prophecy, in an all new Holiday Edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRA:

Check out the original trailer for Santa Claus: The Movie!

Take a look at an original 1985 TV spot.

Here’s a great example of the product endorsements tied into the movie, where we have the elves selling Kodak Disk Cameras!

And here’s local reporter Roy Leonard from WGN Channel 9 reviewing the film on the nightly news, circa 1985.

December 9

Star Wars Holiday Special, 1978

Happy Life Day and welcome back to an all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Well with Christmas time here, Dion Baia and J. Blake have decided to cover maybe their most controversial topic to date and the most anticipated event of the 1978 Holiday season: the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, that aired Friday November the 17th, of that year.

Star Wars Holiday Special

So to cut right to the chase, why is this television special so controversial for the boys at SNMS? Well probably because of the stance Blake and Dion take on this almost universally-panned time capsule from ’78. After the boys chat about last week’s podcast with guest host Mike Vanderbilt, and a dive into Dion‘s food allergies, the fellas get right into the seasonal topic at hand. They set the table and interject the context of the latter half of 1978, a year after the original Star Wars had been released and almost a year and change before the sequel Empire Strikes Back would come out in 1980. Along with a ‘variety show’ template and the majority of the original cast of 1977 film reprising their roles, we get some pretty astounding cameos by such stars as Art Carney, Harvey Korman and Bea Arthur, performances by Diahann Carroll, the rock band Jefferson Starship, and even a pint-raising song by Ms. Arthur herself. The television audience was also treated to a 9+ minute cartoon that introduced one of the most legendary Star Wars characters of all time, the mysterious bounty hunter Bobba Fett. So why is this special so universally hated by critics and fans alike? How involved was George Lucas really (especially since afterward he completely disavowed himself and completely berated the special)? Why was the aforementioned Bobba Fett introduced in cartoon form, in this holiday special anyway? Another dirty little secret, was Han Solo actually supposed to be married to a wookie?! And to get right to the most controversial question: in the context of the era, was this special really as bad as everyone likes to remember…considering what else was going on in 1978? Well it could be a very interesting podcast to say the least for some hardcore Star Wars fans, as SNMS delivers another all new, holiday edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS!

An indispensable asset for any fans of the Holiday Special, here is an amazing website directly solely to the 1978 TV Special.

Check out this Black & White footage of the first screen test from 1978 of Bobba Fett.

Take a look at one of the BEST QUALITY versions of the Star Wars Holiday Specials SNMS has ever seen, in it’s entirety, courtesy of YouTube.

And here are all the original commercials that aired during the Holiday Special.

And speaking of rotoscoping, here is the ultra-rare and never released pre-MTV 1979 music video Tom Waits did for his song “The One that Got Away” with director John Lamb (who would go on to do American Pop with Ralph Bakshi). It was done as a test, using the pioneering ‘video rotoscope’ technology and then converted to animation, a technique that producers then brought to Bakshi to sell him on the concept for his next film, which audiences would see 2 years later in 1981, in the aforementioned, American Pop. The short ended up winning an Oscar in 1980 for Scientific and technical achievement.  More information about this story can be found here.

 

November 11

Batman: The Animated Series; Heart of Ice and Feat of Clay , 1992

Welcome once again to another all new installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! They boys were up really, really late the other night looking through their collection of old VHS tapes, deep down in the SNMS archive, and came across something that made them stop in their tracks. J. Blake and Dion Baia decided to call an audible, taking a left turn with the podcast to break new ground and cover a subject to that helped shape their preteen years- something they both consider not only one of the best animated series of all time but one of the best television shows of all time, Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted September 5, 1992.

Batman: The Animated Series

The boys realize that a task like this would produce a truly epic podcast, so for their purposes here they’ve picked two stories that are not only some of their favorites episodes, but also exemplify the ‘lightning in a bottle’ that was captured when this show came together, entitled Heart of Ice and Feat of Clay, Parts 1 & 2. Dion and Blake start off by remembering back in the day when kids would hang out with other kids just to play with those kid’s toys, and also Blake‘s recent trip to England and what he did on Halloween day, over across the pond. Then they get into Batman and set up the various factors brought together to bring to the small screen not only a unique take on the Dark Knight character, but also how this union of the minds brought us one of the most unique cartoons in animation history. They discuss the influences as well as the tone of the show, and particularly in these two episodes, the fact that even though these were installments in a children’s cartoon show, we have two stories that end up setting the bar, changing and even inventing some of the cannon for the entire franchise as it moves forward. So, how about the amazing performances given not only in these two stories, but throughout the entire series by the legendary actors brought in to voice the various characters in the show? Why does the animation in Heart of Ice and Feat of Clay in particular stand out from the rest of the series? How do these episodes showcase what is to come in this groundbreaking series? Well these are just some of the topics the fellas get through on this all new, and fun edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS:

As discussed in this episode, take a look that this rare and completely awesome limited-run vinyl record box set of the score to some of the best installments of Batman:The Animated Series, courtesy of Mondo.

Take a look some of the artwork from the box set saluting some of the various episodes, like Heart of Ice, and the Clayface episode Mudslide.

And since we’re here, have a look at another sweet Clayface art for Feat of Clay, Part 2.

Check out this re-envisioning of the iconic opening of the series, all done here with Legos!

September 23

The Rocketeer, 1991

Hello everyone, welcome back to another exciting and enthralling edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! This week J. Blake and Dion Baia are celebrating an epic milestone with an epic podcast! It’s SNMS’ two year anniversary and the boys have picked a film near and dear to their hearts, one that has gained a sizable cult following over the 25 years since it’s original release. This week they take on the classic action/adventure, The Rocketeer, from 1991.

The Rocketeer

Dion and Blake kick off the podcast with a pseudo-State of the Union, reflecting on the past year. They chat about the movies they’ve covered, the growing community of listeners and those who also frequent their Facebook page, and how humbling it has been for them. Then they seque into this epic anniversary cast, and setup the backstory of the Rocketeer. They discuss the creator Dave Stevens‘ journey getting character from comic to screen, and Disney‘s eventual involvement and the sparring that occurred between him and the company (aka the then Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner) over keeping the property as pure as possible with the transition to screen. The boys again explain the era of the 1980’s and how hard it really was to get a comic book movie done, let alone a character from an independent publisher. They also chat about the era the movie is set within, the pre-war 1930’s and the beautiful art movement that permeated almost every medium, Art DecoBlake and Dion also discuss the genius of creator Dave Stevens, and all the ‘historical fiction’ he injected into his original content. The guys go through the various details of the historical and famous figures involved in the material, leading them to another topic they have been waiting almost two years to talk about, and one of the things that they love about this film, the homage to the great B-movie actor Rondo Hatton. They explain his history, the illness that affected his physical appearance and how by the help of Rick Baker, Rondo was able to make a posthumous appearance in one more Hollywood film, albeit 49 years later (if you don’t count Scooby-Doo!). Well there’s a lot to unpack on this week’s episode and it’s admittedly a long one, but the boys have a lot to celebrate about: a fabulous film that the fans love, and lament about a growing audience that really blows the boy’s minds. So please come on down and have a listen to another hilarious, informative and engaging episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

*Dion accidently named the Chicago-era gangster Hymie Weiss, when intending to instead reference Murder Inc. co-founder Meyer Lansky.

*Dion also accidently named the classic  1942 Humphrey Bogart film Across the Pacific, when he was actually referring to the 1941 great and little known Bogart film, All Through the Night.

EXTRAS:

Quickly mentioned in the podcast but completely forgotten to be brought up again before the conclusion and ripped from the headlines, check out this news story about a modern ‘Rocket man‘, that shows fiction becoming reality!

Take a look at this rarely seen 1991 television special entitled, Rocketeer: Excitement in the Air that aired to coincide with the theatrical release of The Rocketeer and help promote it. 

Check out the this now ended Rick Baker auction on PropStoreAuction.com for what they were selling from The Rocketeer concerning the Lothar makeup appliances, AND other items from the film, including one of the original Rocketeer helmets!

Have a read about the great Industrial Designer Henry Dreyfuss profiled by SNMS’ own Dion Baia for his old podcast site, Podwits.com!

Here’s actor Rondo Hatton’s 1913 High School senior yearbook photo circa 1913, before he was severely afflicted with acromegaly.

Take a look at the fabulous painting of Rondo Hatton by the legendary illustrator Basil Gogos, who was known for his covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine

Check out this amazing animated fan film, celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Rocketeer‘s release!

And Please check out the fabulous 2010 book mentioned in the cast, Over Here!: New York During World War II!

August 26

Falling Down, 1993

Dion Baia and J. Blake are back for another must-listen to edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! The dog days of summer are wrapping up for the boys in the mean streets of the asphalt jungle, and they had the perfect film to cover at the end of August. This week they take on an urban classic, something near and dear to a generation of film goers, Joel Schumacher‘s Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas as William D-Fens Foster, from 1993.

Falling Down

Truly a poster child film for the frustrated 9-5 worker who is fed up with their job and maybe the system in general, Blake and Dion figured this would be a great movie to wrap up this hot and steamy summer season. They get right into it and chat about how the film almost became a TV movie because of Hollywood’s passing on the script due to the controversial content. They also frame the historical context of the era it was released within, hitting on the recent recession at the time, as well as the LA riots that occurred in the Spring of 1992 (while the film was being shot). They discuss the amazing choice of casting, the fantastic Michael Douglas and once again discuss the importance of the likeability of an actor playing a role, for the audience to be on board and like that character. Dion and Blake chat about the D-Feds character and if he’s actually the protagonist or perhaps the antagonist. And they compare him to his foil in the film, Detective Prendergast, played by the legendary Robert Duvall and how they both cope with the stress of daily life. They also discuss how this story translates to today’s audience; not just by how Douglas’ character is perceived and the glorification of some of his actions, but also how modern audiences in today’s highly politically correct environment may even jump to conclusions without fully understanding the context of the era, not only of 1993, but cinema in general and the background of D-Fens as a character. Well it’s a rip-roaring blast for the lads in this fun and exciting, all new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! #wolfmansnards

* The David Hasselhoff TV movie Dion periodically references, is in fact called Terror at London Bridge, from 1985.

EXTRAS:

Check out the original trailer for Falling Down.

Now here’s an interesting review circa 1993 by Siskel & Ebert.

For alittle extra reading, have a look at this pretty thought-provoking thread on Reddit, as fans analyze Falling Down.

Take a look at Michael Douglas from the mid 90’s discussing the film with Jimmy Carter.

Have a look at another interview from the era of Michael Douglas discussing his role as D-Feds in Falling Down.

And here’s Barbara Hershey talking about Falling Down.

Here’s a pretty cool mashup music video using Falling Down footage edited to the Iron Maiden song Man On The Edge, which was written as an homage to the original film.