House of Wax (1953)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, October 30, 2010 0 comments
This week's retro movie showing was 'House of Wax', released in 1953 it tells the story of a public wax figure collection run by two partners, one of which suggest burning down the building to get rich from the insurance money, a fight begins due to his partner not wanting to ruin his pieces of art, leading to a fatal fire in which one of them perishes.

The story continues with a new wax gallery opening, meanwhile corpses are disappearing from the local morgue and the wax-work figures are starting to look remarkably like missing people. The film's pace is perfect, it has a nice mix of action scenes and dialogue and doesn't have the same issue with some other older 'monster'  films whereby the dialogue takes over. The fight scenes are enjoyable, mainly because of the cheesy action and sound effects. The characters were exaggerated, with the pretty main female character who wasn't very smart at all, to the evil, but subtle mastermind - the professor, hiring men to create his wax-work figurines from corpses.

Another trait of this film is that it was first released in 3D, which is very obvious to tell from some of the gimmicks used, it was very successful on release, but this may have been due to the strong acting and narrative rather than the new technology. One part which showed the 3D element very obviously was an out-of-place scene of a street entertainer outside of the museum, using three paddles to do tricks towards the camera, which when seen in 3D, would shock the audience.

Overall, I rellay enjoyed House of Wax and I would say it has been my favourite of Alan's films this unit, it had a good balance of comedy (whether intentional or not) and believable plot. Although the whole story was a little far-fetched, it was fun in a gruesome way and the final scene where the professor was unmasked was really well done.

Woodland Glow Concept

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, October 29, 2010 1 comments
Darkened the edges around the image and softened it.


We are in the last stages of pre-production in our narrative project. Richard and I have been working on a piece of concept art based around the first scene in our trailer - the woodland glow.

It began with some simple blocking out of a forest, which then progressed with dramatic lighting and an eery glow. After some discussion, Richard made improvements to create a concept we were both happy with. Below shows the progress.

 Stage One

Stage 2 : Making it darker

Stage 3: Richard's improvements to the near-final image

Further work needs to be done on the concept to match our storyboarded scene. We'll be adding a jock jacket and pom-poms hanging over the tree branch. Working as a team on this concept has really enhanced the result and has created a good vision for our trailer.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, October 24, 2010 0 comments
Our retro movie-showing for this week by Alan was 'The Day the Earth Stood Still', which was originally released in 1951. Alan stated before we watched the film that is isn't really considered a 'B-movie' as for it's time it had a large budget and wasn't a small-movie by any means. The film was a benchmark for early Science Fiction, based on a short story from 'Astounding Science Fiction Magazine' it tells the story of a UFO landing in Washington D.C and bringing with it an Alien 'man' and a large threatening looking robot, who lays dormant in the park waiting for instructions (Who in the film was played by an actor measuring 7'7" tall)

The film follows the Alien who landed, as he is tracked and hunted by the military and police for being a possible threat to mankind. The Alien begins to lodge with a family who take him in and trust him, leading him to eventually be discovered and captured by the authorities. Overall, the special effects in the film are really impressive for their day, the shots of the UFO landing and taking off are well done for such an early film. The shot structure is also very quick for something from the 1950's with there being a lot of action sequences and fast-paced storytelling.

I enjoyed The Day The Earth Stood Still, it still holds up very well almost Sixty years later and I wish I'd seen this original before the remake starring Keanu Reeves which was no-where near as entertaining.

First Animatic Draft

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, October 16, 2010 5 comments
Here is the first Animatic draft for the narrative project. Still some tweaks to be made and a final scene to add.

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, October 15, 2010 0 comments
The Quatermass Xperiment is a 1955 Sci-fi horror film based around a BBC series which was broadcasted two years earlier. The film takes place mostly in London, where a Scientist - Professor Quatermass has sent a ship into space and on it's return brings an alien with it, using the disguise of the last surviving astronaut , the only one who made it back to earth. The astronaut begins to mutate and escapes into the suburbs of the city, where Quatermass with the help of a police Inspector, must track it down.

Despite the age-old method of acting and cheesy scenes, I enjoyed this vintage Sci-fi film, it had a very eery atmosphere and the special effects were quite impressive for the 1950's. It was very evident how different this film was from Hollywood's equivalent at the time. It was a much smaller production, yet had a very 'British' quality to it, especially as throughout the plot nobody panicked, keep calm and carry on hunting the alien.

This film and the previous TV series seems to be a very important milestone in British Sci-Fi history, and it seems to have made a lot of money for it's production company, Hammer Film Productions. It became a big hit, and even followed up two sequels a few years later.  Despite the anti-climatic ending (The monster just sat there and got fried) the acting in the film was entertaining and the filming locations were varied, giving it a very English theme, especially with the Westminster Abbey as a finale.

Storyboarding Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, October 15, 2010 1 comments
UPDATE: The storyboards are below, we still need to go over a final shot. We are trying to decide what we want the final reveal to be, I'm sure Richard's B-Movie mind will come out with something nice.

've been progressing on the storyboarding for the narrative unit, ready for next week's pitch. The shots here are corrresponding with Richard's shot list posted:

I am roughly three-quarters done with the panels. The final scene needs to be added (We're still working on this one) as well as the Corridor scene on the first page. I'm hoping this will create a simple but effective animatic when mixed with sound.

These are rough below, some shots need to be re-arranged. I also need to add a close-up of the rear window, but Im hoping to have all the boards completed this evening, our group can then go over them and make any last changes before the pitch next week.


Character Project: First Idea

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, October 05, 2010 0 comments
Here is my first cartoon idea for the character project. I'm sure it will change a lot as it needs so many more details and improvements. I like the idea of having an elephant as a sidekick, the hero can ride it, talk and fight with it, using it's weight. I like the idea of the elephant being a bit dim, contrasting the hero's smartness.

Bad Kids Go to Hell

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, October 03, 2010 0 comments

Over the last couple of days I read Matt Spraudlin's Graphic Novel 'Bad Kids go to Hell', which was kindly given to us to check out. I really glad I got a copy as it is probably something I wouldn't have found otherwise and it's really great to read something original. I tend to spend a lot of time reading graphic novels, I read a lot of Garth Ennis, who is definitely my favourite comic writer for creating 'Preacher' and 'The Boys' and the new 'Punisher'.

I think a main reason why I enjoyed Bad Kids Go To Hell is because of the dark humour similar to Ennis' that is underlined in the book. For example, the pure moral indifference of the character of 'Veronica' she has a stereotypical goth apathy, which as the story progresses, becomes stronger and shows her secrets and ambition. The structure of the story propels the novel, it made me want to read on to understand the characters better, especially by using the flashbacks to previous events in the school. These also added in a bit of comic relief, showing the bad luck that 'Matt' suffered as being the new kid, which in a way, makes him seem quite likeable and might even allow the reader to side with him (Especially at the end)

Each character seems really well built, no-one in the story is lacking a past or personality. This comic is great timing considering we're going into our character unit now, and this novel shows how crucial it is to give a character a background. For such a short story, the character design really is fantastic, it builds on the foundations of high school stereotypes but pushes them further. I liked the 'Final Destination' vibe that the book had, with the theme of 'fate' running through each event, it really helped pull the story together and gave the reader a reason to believe the events. I'm always up for a bit of volence in a comic, and this didn't disappoint, the art had a lovely gruesome vibe in some panels and the action was well drawn. The background story of the library being built on a Indian burial ground added that classic horror story set-up, similar to 'Poltergeist', the great thing with this was that the comic didn't take it too seriously, it had the characters believing it less than the reader.

Sure, a lot of the characters died, but in convention of horror, nobody is going to say they didn't have it coming. Just like in the film 'Scream', the rules have been laid-out- if you are the 'bad kid', doing drugs, heavy-petting or even just being a bit of a dick, death is coming your way. Whereas if you are the 'pure' innocent one (Which could be argued in this case is Matt? but only compared to the rest) then chances are you'll survive.

The ending was really entertaining, it was sort of a double-twist and finished the story really nicely. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, it gave me a break from work and the art quite inspiring for the storyboarding stage I'm at. I'm definitely going to be recommending this to friends who I'm sure will appreciate it.

Ed Wood (1994) Tim Burton

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, October 02, 2010 0 comments

In Alan's Narrative lecture this week, he showed us 'Ed Wood', a film chronicling the life of a renowned awful film-maker, Ed Wood. Played by Johnny Depp in the film, Wood created some of the worst films of the 1950's which have later become cult classics. These include 'Glen or Glenda' (1953) which Ed not only directed, but also starred in as the main character who secretly cross-dresses, hiding it from his fiance. For the time, this film was based around huge controversial subject of men wanting to become feminine, but this didn't prevent the film from being seen as a terrible production, in editing, dialogue and acting.

The film shows Ed Wood's life and his struggles to finance and produce the films he so desperately wants to be known for. Using original scenes from Wood's 1950's movies, Tim Burton re-created many of the classic sequences, showing clearly just how bad the scenes really were. Along with 'Glen or Glenda', Burton shows more productions throughout the film such as 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' and 'Bride of the Monster'.

Overall, I really enjoyed the tone and humour of the film, it was both heralding Ed Wood for his originality and pure passion for his terrible films, as well as poking a bit of fun at the attitudes and releases of the time it was set. With our narrative unit being targetting towards producing a story and script which is worth making, studying Ed Wood is very helpful, it shows just how bad a production can be if it is rushed, with no effort and poor story.

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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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