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.

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.

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!

December 23

Gremlins, 1984

Welcome to another episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers! Dion and J. Blake are taking on another holiday classic for their Christmas viewing this season, and have decided on an iconic genre mash-up. It’s a film that really goes to show you the 1980’s was a time when you could practically market anything you wanted to children, even a dressed up Horror film parading as a cute, Christmas/Comedy that subtlety pokes fun at American and Western culture in general. Of course we’re talking about Joe Dante‘s classic, Gremlins, from 1984.

Gremlins

The trifecta of Chris Columbus writing, Steven Spielberg executive producing, and Dante directing, gave us one of the most interesting and fun films of the 1980s. Blake and Dion try to flesh out the back story of this love letter to Frank Capra, B-Horror films of the 1950’s, and Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes cartoons, among a slew of others, while trying to wrap their heads around some terrifying concepts layered within. How much darker was this film originally supposed to be? Does this movie really convey themes like anti-technology, as well as lament about the ignorance of Western society as a whole? Have some critics read into the film and actually injected elements of supposed racism which surprisingly, doesn’t even have to do with the culture that is presented within the story? How has the movie held up after 30+ years, as both a genre mash-up and holiday film? And is this a movie that could even be attempted in 2015 without severely changing the story itself and its primary antagonists? Well the boys are wearing their Santa hats and have their sleigh bells ringing in this all new, Christmas installment of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

(We’d like to give a shout out to Jason Derenick for recommending Gremlins, and we’d like to apologize for not remembering his name during the podcast. Thank you!)

(When speaking about New Line Cinema, Blake mistakenly said Friday the 13th, when he was actually referring to Nightmare on Elm Street.)

Extras:

Jason’s name isn’t the only thing we forgot this time around; we’d like to share straight out of the SNMS Archive, a clay Gremlin bust sculpted by Rick Baker‘s SFX team for Gremlins 2: The New Batch, something we completely forgot to bring up, and something we will touch on at the beginning of the next Podcast. Check out this bad-boy here, here, here, here, and here.

Check out the original theatrical trailer!

Take a look at the 1943 Merrie Melodies Bug Bunny short Falling Hare, which is credited by director Joe Dante as an influence on his 1984 film Gremlins.

Also mentioned in the podcast, please watch the HIGHLY RECOMMENDED documentary on the artist, animator and auteur Chuck Jones, entitled Extremes and In Betweens: A Life in Animation.

Go read the HUGELY RECOMMENDED book Outrageous Conduct, which examines the events surrounding the infamous filming of the John Landis short for Twilight Zone The Movie, where veteran actor Vic Morrow and two children were killed.

Here’s the cartoon adaptation of the book Monster’s Ring, mentioned by Blake in the Podcast.

Have a look at this absolutely hilarious parody of Gremlins mashed-up with Taken, courtesy of How it Should of Ended.

October 16

The Black Hole, 1979

The boys are back for week 3 in their epic October Halloween month of Horror! This time around J. Blake and Dion Baia tackle what some might call an unorthodox choice for a scary movie pick, but it certainly is Disney‘s darkest entry in film and also their most frightening (heck, [spoiler alert!] they go to Hell at the end)! Of course we’re talking Disney’s breath-taking and highly ambitious venture into cosmic Sci-Fi, The Black Hole, from 1979.

The Black Hole, 1979

The boys get into all the minute details of a movie that was so shocking, it quite possibly might have scarred an entire generation of children while at the same time, begot a merchandising campaign so vast, it even gave us a Little Golden Book Edition for those too young to follow along with the terror onscreen. Dion and Blake attempt to dissect the film in the context of the space-mania in the late 1970’s, and Hollywood’s race to the stars on the big and small screen. They talk in detail about the pioneering and breathtaking visuals that sadly, at times were to the detriment of the movie’s story. Was this film actually in development years before Star Wars, as a disaster film no less? Were its groundbreaking Special Effects actually more involved than Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, combined? What’s really going on onboard the U.S.S. Cygnus between Hans Reinhardt and his evil companion, the hovering robot Maximilian? And learn about the roots of Dion’s fascination with Ernest Borgnine and the yearly event that he attends in the actor’s honor, all on another, terrifying and brand new episode of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

EXTRAS:

Take look at some EXCLUSIVE PICTURES of some rarely seen items on display in the Frank G. Wells Building located on the Disney Studios Burbank Lot, from when Dion and Blake were given a tour by Uncle Walt and Mickey (okay, Walt and Mickey didn’t give the tour but the lads like to remember it that way!). Here is one of the Palomino models used in the film; along with one of the scale models of V.I.N.CENTAND here‘s one of the laser pistols used in the filmALSO, here is the plaque outside of Studio A, the recording Soundstage designed to record Disney’s live orchestra music since 1939, and where The Black Hole‘s score was the first to be digitally recorded.

Here’s a GREAT Behind the Scenes picture of Peter Ellenshaw overseeing the photography of the U.S.S. Cygnus model, courtesy of AintitCool.com

Check out this awesome rarely seen commercial for a toy robot version of V.I.N.CENT!

While you’re at it, here’s a vintage commercial for its action figures!

Courtesy of BugEyedMonster.com, along with the regular toys, check out some UTRA-RARE Black Hole toy prototypes that NEVER made it to market.

Have a look and listen to the Black Hole Read Along and Aloud record, most notably with different actors voicing the characters, with the exception of Roddy McDowell.

Here’s the LP versionStory of the Black Hole“, this time with the actor’s from the film. And he’s Part 2, Side B!

For more on the Manhattan West Side Mexican Restaurant Tortilla Flats click here, and for more on Borgnine Night, click here for a CBS News Profile on the event (where SNMS’ own Dion Baia can be seen at the 2:25 mark!)

Take a listen to the sister-site Podwits.com Podcast where Dion, Brian Zino and J. Marcus recorded live from the 2012 Borgnine Night!

 

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July 3

Flight of the Navigator, 1986

Happy Birthday America! To ring in the July 4th holiday, J. Blake and Dion Baia are pulling out a real old-school classic, the forgotten Disney gem, Flight of the Navigator, from 1986.

Flight of the Navigator

The boys bring a slew of knowledge and personal experience to this edition of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers, relaying the history of Walt Disney‘s company, especially in the context of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, be it in animated and live-action films. Dion and Blake relay their story of the private tour of the Disney Studios in Burbank CA that they took part in, and Dion’s fortunate (or unfortunate) meeting of Michael Eisner, ex-CEO of Disney Studios from 1984-2005 and how it panned out. How does Flight still hold up today? How about the Special Effects? Was this Disney’s answer to E.T.? And wow, Disney can be dark when they want to be, can’t they?! We’re traveling the cosmos in this 4th of July extravaganza, so come on down and have a listen!

(Here’s a great 1986 featurette for Flight of the Navigator)

(Check out the trailer to the must-see documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, about the near-scuttling of Disney‘s Animation department.)