October 20

Them!, 1954

Welcome back to week 3 of Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers’ October Halloween Horror Movie Extravaganza! This episode finds Dion Baia and J. Blake going way down the alley, visiting the “Creature Feature” sub-genre, and tackling a film that in their opinion, exemplifies that niche of Sci-Fi/Horror films from the 1950s. And with this very week marking the 55th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the boys discuss Hollywood‘s fear of the unknown in a Nuclear age with the classic film, Them!, from 1954.

Them!

The boys setup the conversation about 1950’s Sci-Fi by chatting about Dion‘s particular affinity and personal connection with these type of Science Fiction and Horror Films of the era. They chat about the Cold War politics of the decades that proceeded WWII, like McCarthyism or JFK vs. Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis, to try and put into some kind of perspective and context, the mindset of a postwar society who thought nuclear war was probably inevitable. Blake and Dion track the evolution of these type of “Creature Features“, by analyzing Hollywood’s output at the time, which it could even be argued leads the viewer down a path all the way to the iconic 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, which changed everything. The fellas then dissect this classic, Them!, which starts almost like a Crime Noir- a widely popular subgenre at the time. They go over the suspense that is set up within the movie and discuss the filmmaker’s very modern and realistic approach to telling this story. They also observe how superb the entire cast is within this film- all amazing feats when one realizes how this basically is a tale about radioactive insects. So, how do the Special Effects hold up some 60+ years later? Was this film originally planned to have a very popular gimmick (at the time) employed that was scrapped at the very last minute? How many Wilhelm screams are in this movie? And what is actor Edmund Gwenn‘s connection to Friday the 13th? Well you better hide your sugar, make sure your city and state maps are up to date, because the guys are taking you on an adventure to find some gigantic monsters in this all new installment of their October Halloween Horror Extravaganza on Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers!

Extras!

Here is the more widely known Theatrical Poster for Them!, which kind of tips the film’s hand to what the plot’s ‘twist’ actually is.

Have a look at this rare, behind the scenes footage from Them!

Check out these awesome original Lobby Cards for Them!

As brought up in the cast, check out this article elaborating on the Urban Legend that John Wayne and the film crew from the 1956 film The Conqueror died of cancer because of A-Bomb testing, and also the ‘Downwinders‘ who actually had to deal with the then-unknown effects of radioactive fallout.

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!