Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Finally, the video containing the inspiration for this blog's unusual name makes it back to YouTube!
As a longtime Siskel & Ebert fan, I love watching old S&E videos on the Internet. One of my favorite clips was their review of the 1987 children's film Benji the Hunted. This particular review is famous (infamous?) for the fact that Ebert recommends the Benji film when he, earlier in the program, panned Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.
In discussing other strange movie titles, Siskel mentions one of his favorites. That was all the inspiration I needed.
Meeting the legendary Barbara Steele, the star of many Italian horror classics.
Although the summer months are brutal, living in Rancho Mirage (a.k.a. Brett's Rancho) does have its advantages. One such advantage is the fairly easy access I have to Los Angeles. Little more than a two-hour drive away, I can essentially travel there whenever I'd like.
After seeing its impressive guest list, I knew I wanted to attend the Hollywood Show in Burbank in late July. I made plans, and off I went.
It was a pleasure to meet Mamie Van Doren.
While it's a lot of fun to meet the celebrities who attend these autograph conventions, you must budget yourself carefully. It's easier than you might think to spend more money than you can afford! So it's important to go in with a plan and to do as little impulse-buying as possible. Stick to your plan, and you won't go home bankrupt.
Caroline Munro was a highlight of the convention. I spoke with her about such topics as Christopher Lee and traveling in general. She's as friendly as they come.
The Hollywood Show was held at the Marriott Convention Center in Burbank. This was also the site of Monsterpalooza (in 2009 and 2010) and G-FEST '99. It's a nice area; I just wish the drivers were as nice!
With the incomparable Carla Laemmle, who appeared in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and Dracula (1931)! Ms. Laemmle, who turns 101 (!) in October, signed autographs steadily throughout the day.
It was great to meet all the celebrities I met at the Hollywood Show. However, I must make special mention of two wonderful ladies in particular.
In between Nika Solomon and Luciana Paluzzi.
For the second time at a convention, I got to spend a great deal of time with Luciana Paluzzi and Nika Solomon. These are two of the nicest ladies you'd ever want to meet. I always enjoy spending an afternoon with them, and I hope to do it again sometime in the near future!
Reptilicus reads Phil Kim's Famous Monsters of Filmland tribute to Forrest J Ackerman at the Melchior residence, but was disappointed to find several typos (Joseph Cotten's name misrendered as "Cotton," among others) therein.
After the Hollywood Show wound down, I was a guest at Ib Melchior's home. Mr. Melchior graciously invited me to spend the night, which was an invitation too good to turn down! Once again (and I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but it's the truth), I enjoyed being in the presence of this multi-talented writer-director.
After dinner, Mr. Melchior and I watched Silent Hill on the SyFy Channel. Neither of us could follow what was going on, but it was especially entertaining when Mr. Melchior interjected some MST3K-style riffs on the proceedings! Suffice it to say, it was quite a memorable evening.
Yup, that's a plate of lasagna, but it wasn't mine, I swear! And I didn't order any stuffed bell peppers, either!
The following morning, I met Peter H. Brothers for lunch at The Grove. I gave him an autographed program of Godzilla: Final Wars that Akira Takarada signed for Peter (after I gave Mr. Takarada a copy of Peter's Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men).
A shot across the bow? Nah, it's just Peter enjoying his meal!
This was my first time meeting Peter in five years! Hopefully we'll get together a little more often from now on.
Brett and Ib Melchior, shortly before I had to leave.
Peter dropped me off near Ib's house, and I said my goodbyes to Ib and his charming wife Cleo. Afterward, I had G-FAN business to attend to.
Brett and George Chakiris, following a fascinating interview for G-FAN.
I met Academy Award-winning actor George Chakiris (West Side Story) for an interview on the Daiei co-production Flight from Ashiya. The interview was enlightening, but what struck me the most was how down-to-earth and approachable Mr. Chakiris turned out to be. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word, and he gave me many great stories for G-FAN.
All in all, it was a very successful trip, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I'm not sure when I'll return to Hollywood, but after all the fun I had this past weekend, I hope it's very soon!
Monday, July 26, 2010
Brett Homenick and Luciana Paluzzi in July 2010. Brett interviewed Ms. Paluzzi in 2007 about her appearance in the enduring cult classic The Green Slime.
(Originally published in G-FAN #81, fall 2007)
Luciana Paluzzi is an Italian actress who has worked all over the world in many notable films. She’s best known as the villainess Fiona Volpe in the James Bond film Thunderball (1965), in which she starred opposite Sean Connery. She’s also appeared in the original Hercules (1958), with Steve Reeves, and the 1964 film Muscle Beach Party, with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. When it comes to television, she starred in the series Five Fingers for 20th Century Fox and appeared in more than 25 TV movies and series, including Hawaii Five-O and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. G-FAN readers, however, will know her as Dr. Lisa Benson in The Green Slime. Ms. Paluzzi spoke with Brett Homenick about her starring role in that popular cult film.
Brett Homenick: How’d you get involved with The Green Slime?
Luciana Paluzzi: It was an MGM picture, and it was originally called Battle Beyond the Stars. I was asked to do the role. I went to Japan, and I did it. That’s how I was involved.
BH: When you were in Japan, what were your living arrangements like?
LP: I was in a beautiful hotel, and it was very, very plush.
BH: Do you remember anything that went on in the preproduction meetings?
LP: No, because we went to work immediately. I arrived there, and two days later, we did the costumes, and we started to work. You know, it’s (a) long time ago, so I don’t remember exactly what happened. I only know that there was a translator on the set because the director (Kinji Fukasaku) was an adorable man, but he didn’t speak a word of English, nor did the crew, nobody. So everything had to be translated from English to Japanese and from Japanese to English.
BH: You mentioned him a little bit, but just say a few more words about working with Mr. Kinji Fukasaku, the director.
LP: He knew what he was doing. (He) was very skilled, having directed this genre before, and that is why they chose him, because of his work and his reputation. He knew exactly what he had to do, and he was used to direct(ing) these kind of pictures. There were no delays, he came very prepared on the set, and everything went very smooth and very fast. But at the same time, he was just so nice and so nice to the crew, and he was really a very nice man. I heard that he died not long ago.
BH: That’s right.
LP: Which year did he die?
BH: I think he died in early 2003.
LP: Too bad. I remember him with great affection. He was very efficient, and a very good director. I don’t know why they decided to change the title after. I never knew the story behind that because, of course, the other title was a little bit nicer! But it doesn’t matter; it’s still much like a cult picture because recently -- not recently, but last year, I participated in a signing where the stars sign photographs and autographs, and the second-most requested photo, after the James Bond movie that I did, was The Green Slime. It’s very strange because I’ve done so many more interesting films in France, in Italy, in Spain, in the United States, all over the world, and The Green Slime was the second one. The fans came with posters that they wanted to have signed. So I guess it’s a cult picture.
BH: It is. A lot of people have grown up with it, and it remains very popular to this day among people who saw it when they were children.
LP: That is wonderful, especially when you think that much more important films and actors have been forgotten by the younger generation. Not long ago, we were having dinner in a restaurant, and our waitress had no idea who Grace Kelly was, and The Green Slime still survives. Go figure!
BH: Another question that I had regarded Robert Horton. What was it like to work with him?
LP: He was very professional. I have worked with actors that were great actors, but at the time, were going through crises in their life like Richard Burton and Lee Marvin. I did a picture with them (The Klansman, 1974), and it was a period where they were drinking, they wouldn’t show up in the morning, and Terence Young, the director, had terrible, terrible crises on the set because of their behavior. But Mr. Horton was absolutely professional and very, very good at what he was doing. You know, in reality, none of our roles were very demanding! But I never had any kind of friendship with him. I used to talk a lot to everybody else but him.
BH: What was it like to work with Richard Jaeckel?
LP: As I said, adorable, nice.
BH: Well, what about some of the local actors? I don’t know if you would remember any of their names, but Robert Dunham and Kathy Horan were some of the local actors who appeared in the film. Do you have any memories of working with them?
LP: No! The only memory that I have, it was my first picture in Japan, and I did an interview with a lot of journalists present. Somehow, I’m trying to remember how it went, but I know that it provoked a little bit of -- not a scandal, but they asked me a question which led me to answer, “Well, if I were born here, I would rather be a geisha girl than a wife,” and everybody was shocked. They were translating it into Japanese, and I still remember the faces of the people, they looked at me in a bewildered way. I think it was a little bit of a revolutionary answer, so I said, “Well, the wife has to stay home, and they are not allowed to say anything, and they just have to raise the kids, clean the house, and the geisha girls have all the fun. They go out, they talk to the men, discuss politics, world events, laugh with them.” So I remember that there was a long silence in the room, and finally everybody started to chuckle. I wished I knew what they were saying! It came out in all the papers the next day: “Luciana wants to be a geisha girl”! Which I meant in a nice way, but at the same time I meant to be a little provocative because I was feeling sorry for the wives! Of course, things have changed a lot since then. Many years have passed.
BH: Wow, that’s very interesting! (laughs) Well, what I’ve heard is that the aliens in the film were actually played by children wearing suits. Is that your memory of it?
LP: Yes, you’re right.
Ms. Paluzzi holds a copy of G-FAN magazine. Photo courtesy Luciana Paluzzi.
BH: Were there any accidents that happened on the set, anything involving special effects, or just anything?
LP: No, not that I recall.
BH: Do you have any other interesting stories from the set?
LP: No, I’m terribly sorry. I know that things all went very smooth because, as I said, the director was so well-prepared, and there were no delays. It was like a general came on the set, and everything was going scene after scene after scene. I don’t think we were a day late. I’m sorry, I have many more things to tell you about other movies including Thunderball, but The Green Slime was pretty smooth!
BH: What did you think of the film when you saw it?
LP: You know, for the time that they did it, I thought that it was well-made. Today, of course, it’s so passe, it’s so old-fashioned, but at the time, I thought that it was a fun movie. I mean, it’s not my kind of movie, I don’t like science fiction in general. I did the movie because I thought it would be fun to go work in Japan , because it was a different culture, because it was something different from what I’ve done before, and I never did it again. But I had a great time, and I liked the movie when I saw it because I thought, you know, for what it was at the time, it was well-done. And I guess it was because, as you say, at the time the kids were interested in it. But today, it looks really (like) what it was, (a) 40-year-old picture.
For more information about Ms. Paluzzi, please visit her official Web site: http://lucianapaluzzi.com.
Long after it was completed, I finally had the chance to sit down and watch Damon Foster's G-FEST 2007 DVD that has already been making the rounds amongst G-FEST attendees. As usual, Damon did an excellent job in balancing humor with the more scholarly aspects of the convention (such as the celebrity guest interviews).
The disc contains its share of crude humor, so be warned! It's certainly not intended for all people.
What's more, Damon's DVD provided a window into G-FEST's past and displayed a much simpler time, a time before lasagna and stuffed peppers ruined fandom for everyone.
I highly recommend Damon's G-FEST 2007 compilation. Get your copy today!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The above video was shot just before the awards luncheon at G-FEST XVII. Really, it speaks for itself, but Mr. Takarada gives me the same surprise that Rhodes Reason did in 2007! Man, I love the awards luncheon!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Voice actor Peter Fernandez, who died July 15 of lung cancer, has an obituary in today's edition of the New York Times. You can read the obituary here.
Special thanks to Corinne Orr for the tip.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
"Cheers, Dr. Mafune!" sez a rowdy bunch of conventioneers Wednesday night.
G-FEST XVII, probably the biggest G-FEST of all time, came and went in the blink of an eye. Though I arrived in Chicago on Wednesday and left on Tuesday, it seemed to go by faster than most conventions I've ever attended.
While G-FEST didn't officially kick off until Friday, the fun really started on Wednesday night, after Akira Takarada's flight landed in Chicago. Although his flight was delayed by bad weather, Mr. Takarada wanted to have fun almost as soon as he arrived.
And fun we had!
After having a fine Italian meal at Giordano's (none of our crew ordered any lasagna, thankfully), Mr. Takarada wanted to hang out with us at the bar in the nearby Embassy Suites. J.D. Lees called it one of the most memorable nights of his entire life. It's not every day that Godzilla fans share a drink (let alone the same room) with the series' biggest star! Mr. Takarada told us about a monster film he saw as a child that left an impression on him. Though his pronunciation of the title led us to believe he was talking about The Golem, it seems he was thinking of a different picture. In this movie, a monster apparently puts its wrists together, and a beam shoots out. If any reader can identify this film, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Seeing the town in style! Mr. Takarada took a horse-drawn carriage around Chicago on Thursday.
Most G-FEST attendees saw the "double double feature" at the Pickwick on Thursday. Mr. Takarada got his first taste of Chicago. After seeing the sights around the city (such as Ernest Hemingway's old apartment, the original Playboy Mansion, etc.), Yoko Urayama of the Chicago Shimpo took us to the Art Institute of Chicago, where we ate lunch and took in some wonderful artwork.
Does Mr. Takarada look happy to visit Wrigley Field?
Friday resulted in even more sightseeing around Chicago. Martin and Pam Arlt took us to Wrigley Field (no games were scheduled, but Mr. Takarada wanted to have a look at it), the Hancock Building, and to a local steakhouse for lunch. Later that night, Mr. Takarada was warmly greeted during opening ceremonies with what must have been record turnout for that event.
Greg Shoemaker and Akira Takarada, two legends of Godzilladom, meet for the first time.
Saturday proved to be Mr. Takarada's busiest day. After breakfast, he was interviewed onstage by Damon Foster and yours truly. Following that, he signed autographs for two hours. But that's not all! Shortly after wrapping up the autograph session, he was picked up by Yukiko Menda of the Japanese Consulate of Chicago to have dinner with Mr. George Hisaeda, Chicago's Consul General! As if that weren't enough, Messrs. Takarada and Hisaeda addressed the audience at the Pickwick prior to the screening of Godzilla (1954). Whew!
Mr. Takarada's Sunday interview session. Mr. Takarada was happy to take questions from the audience.
Sunday afternoon saw a follow-up interview session with Mr. Takarada in which he mostly took questions from the audience. Almost immediately thereafter, the awards luncheon took place in which Mr. Takarada was awarded the Mangled Skyscraper Award.
Mr. Takarada accepts the coveted MSA.
As part of the ceremony, congratulatory comments were read from Haruo Nakajima, Shogo Tomiyama, Kazuki Omori (all arranged by Robert Scott Field), and James Hong, Linda Haynes, Allyson Adams, and Don Frye (all arranged by yours truly). Mr. Takarada was particularly touched by these messages.
Checking out the newly renovated Crowne Plaza for a possible return. What do you think?
On Monday, things started to wind down. J.D., Robert Scott Field, and I looked around the Crowne Plaza to see whether it would be suitable for a possible return next year. Although no decision has been made, the three of us were impressed by the renovations.
Mr. Takarada signs my old Godzilla vs. Megalon VHS tape, the movie that started this crazy hobby for me in the first place.
After getting some autographs in his hotel room (and taking him shopping at the Woodfield Mall), it was time to eat! But we had no idea what was to come.
"We were goodfellas, wiseguys."
Mr. Takarada wanted to take us out to a Japanese restaurant. We ended up at a restaurant called Sakura (which turned out to be different from the one we took Mr. Sahara to last year). Guess what happened.
Oh, yes! Mr. Takarada made sukiyaki for us! Of course, it was a great meal, but we had a master making it for us. Mr. Takarada had such a wonderful time at G-FEST that he wanted to give back to us. The pleasure was all ours, of course, but we appreciated Mr. Takarada's sincere gesture of gratitude. Mr. Takarada was a first-rate guest. The bar has risen incredibly high for future G-FESTs. But let's see what will happen next year.
In case you weren't sure by now, G-FEST was a smashing success. Mr. Takarada was really the glue that held it together. It will be tough to match the success of this year's show, but for right now, all those fortunate enough to attend should simply kick back and bask in the convention's glow. What a great time!
Peter Fernandez in 2007. Photo courtesy Peter Fernandez.
Legendary voice actor Peter Fernandez died on the morning of July 15 of lung cancer. He was 83 years old. Although most of his fans recognize him as the voice of Speed Racer, he also dubbed many Godzilla movies, including Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, Son of Godzilla, and Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.
I last spoke with Peter in September. I knew he wasn't doing well, and I wanted to see how he was doing. At the time, he was in good spirits and shared many stories about his time in the military during World War II. It was a fascinating account from a fascinating individual.
My sincerest condolences to Peter's widow, Noel, for her loss.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Akira Takarada's Japanese liaison totorom has informed me that Mr. Takarada returned safely to Japan and had high praise for the convention to his agent. More details on G-FEST will be posted in the coming days.
Meanwhile, totorom has also informed me that the Consulate General's office in Chicago has updated its page with photos from Mr. Takarada's visit. Check 'em out!