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Posted on by Scott Delahunt

As a genre, superheroes are dominating theatre screens.  Characters from Marvel and DC are taking up residence on the silver screen, bringing in record box office returns.  This wasn’t always the case.  For the longest time, superheroes were relegated to television cartoons, TV series and movies much like Wonder Woman and Captain America and, before that, serials and animated shorts.  The change from backup feature to blockbuster came with Superman: The Movie in 1978.

The character Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938, heralding a new type of hero.  Prior to Superman, most heroes were men of mystery, costume or not.  Superman blazed the way for superheroes and is DC Comics best known character.  Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster*, Superman started with X-ray vision, super strength and super speed, being able to out run a locomotive and leap over tall buildings.  As the comic continued, Superman gained more and more powers, some serious, such as from going from leaping to flying, some silly, like super typing skills.  In his secret identity of Clark Kent, Superman worked as a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet along side colleague, rival, and love interest Lois Lane and cub photographer Jimmy Olsen, all working under editor Perry White.  Over time, Superman’s rogues gallery has grown, but his best known foe is Lex Luthor, corrupt industrialist.

Another way Superman set himself aside from the mystery men of the time was his origin.  Superman was not of Earth but was the sole survivor of the destruction of the planet Krypton, sent to Earth as an infant.  The young boy was found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who adopt the child as their own.  The raise the young lad, naming him Clark after Martha’s maiden name, and instill a sense of right and wrong, and have him keep his powers hidden.

The 1978 Superman is a retelling of his origin, from being sent from Krypton hours before the planet’s destruction to his first appearance in Metropolis and beyond.  His early years, as a young boy and as a teenager, are given a strong focus, showing the influences that his parents and his time in Smallville have on him as a hero.  In Metropolis, he gets dropped into the busiest newsroom in the city at the Daily Planet and is teamed up with Lois Lane.  His first night in the tights sees him rescue Lois after the helicopter she’s in malfunctions and crashes, then nab a cat burglar halfway up an apartment building, stop armed robbers from getting away from the police, rescue a young girl’s cat stuck in a tree, and help Air Force One land after losing an engine.

Lex Luthor, during this time, is hatching a scheme to corner the market in seaside real estate.  Step one was to buy up desert land in the west.  Step two is to steal a nuclear missile that in step three he will detonate along the San Andreas fault, sending California into the sea.  Lex recognizes that Superman is a potential threat to his success   With the story printed with the interview Lois has with Superman, Lex figures out that shards of Krypton, kryptonite, could be lethal to the hero.

The movie stays faithful to the character of Superman, but not necessarily his powers.  The ending involves Superman flying fast enough to go back in time, something that hadn’t been demonstrated in the comic.  Helping to stay faithful is the casting of the characters.  Christopher Reeve was an unknown actor at the time, but he was able to play both Clark Kent and Superman, showing differences between the two through voice and posture.  In one scene, he straightens himself, gaining confidence and changing his voice enough to look like Superman, then deflates and slumps to go back to being Clark.  Margot Kidder as Lois Lane protrayed the reporter as someone who not only can get into trouble but can also get out of most of that trouble.  Gene Hackman, as Lex, with Valerie Perrine and Ned Beatty as henchmen Eve Teschmacher and Otis, showed the deviousness of the original character with chemistry among the three to carry their parts of the film.  Marc McClure looks the part of Jimmy Olsen.

The cast isn’t the only factor turning the movie into a success.  The scope of the film is epic, despite focusing on Clark.  Lex’s scheme threatens the entire West Coast.  The film even starts deep in space for the credits, coming in to Krypton, then follows young Clark on his trip to Earth.  The music adds to the epic feel.  The main theme even uses the syllables in the name Superman as part of the music.

As mentioned a while back, there are adaptations that become the definitive version of a work.  Such is the case with Superman.  It was the top grossing film of 1978, with people returning to see a man fly.  Audiences use Christopher Reeve as the measuring stick to compare other actors in the role.  The influence of Superman is still felt even almost forty years later.

* Joe Shuster was the focus of a Heritage Minute, a short film that features key times in Canadian history.


Posted on by Steven Savage

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, www.SeventhSanctum.com, and Steve’s Tumblr)

After plenty of interruptions, Way With Worlds Book 2 is ready for pre-readers!  So go on, get a preview, get a chance for feedback and contact me!

This one is a shift from the first book.  The first book focused on a roughly linear set of advice on worldbuilding across various subjects.  THis one is a series of collected deep dives on various issues, arranged a bit more freeform from the specific to the general.  It covers conflicts, viewpoints, worldbuilding tools, and team effort – among other diverse subjects.  It’s definitely a companion book to #1.

So give me a write, let me know if you want a PDF copy and let’s see what you think!

– Steve


Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Marvel is riding high with the live action movie adaptations of its books.  This wasn’t always the case.  The first Marvel comic to be adapted for the big screen laid an egg.  However, Marvel had a better record on television, with The Incredible Hulk lasting from 1977 to 1982.  The success of Hulk brought the character into mainstream attention, with the series having an influence on the character’s movie entry in Marvel’s Avengers Initiative.  That same success led to the first authorized Captain America movie*.

Captain America was a 1979 TV movie starring Reb Brown, known for his roles in Yor and Space Mutiny, as Steve Rogers.  Steve is an former Marine turned drifter artist, hoping to travel along the California coast line in his van.  He receives a telegram from Simon, played by Len Birman, who wants to talk to Steve about his father’s research.  The Full Latent Ability Gain, or FLAG, is a serum that can maximize the human body’s potential.  FLAG has a drawback; the serum causes cells to degenerate faster, leading to death.  Steve declines the offer to test the FLAG serum on himself. and heads out.

Fate, however, brings him back.  Steve finds his friend, Jeff Hayden, injured in his own home, attacked by a thug sent by Harley, played by Lance LeGault, on the orders of Brackett, played by Steve Forestt.  Brackett wants a filmstrip** of Hayden’s work to use to complete a neutron bomb and wants Steve out of the way.  Harley lures Steve with the knowledge of who killed Jeff.  Steve shows up at the out of the way location at night, where Harley demands the filmstrip.  In the ensuing chase, Steve is forced off the road and over a cliff on his motorcycle.

To save Steve`s life, he is given the FLAG serum while in ER.  Unlike the previous test subjects, there is no cell rejection; the serum works.  Steve’s healing accelerates under the influence of the serum, but he has no desire to find out what else FLAG has done for him.  He doesn’t get to stay ignorant; Harley kidnaps him from the hotel, taking him to a meat plant.  Steve breaks away from his captors and plays cat-and-mouse among the sides of beef.  His newfound strength lets him take out Harley and his men, including through the use of a thrown slab of beef, the only object thrown in a fight in the movie.

Steve talks with Simon, who mentions the elder Roger’s nickname as a crusading lawyer, Captain America.  Simon offers a job as a special agent, which Steve accepts.  Simon arranges for extra equipment, updating Steve’s van, adding a new motorcycle with jet assist, and a bulletproof shield that can be thrown as a deadly weapon.  While he tests out the new motorcycle, Brackett sends men to chase him down by helicopter.  Thanks to the new motorcycle and FLAG-enhanced abilities, Steve manages to turn the tables.

Brackett is busy working on Hayden’s daughter Tina, using her to figure out where the filmstrip was hidden.  He pieces together what Hayden meant when mentioning his wife with his final breaths and finds the filmstrip.  Brackett takes Tina hostage and the filmstrip to his weapons expert, who can finish the neutron bomb with the information on the strip.  The bomb gets loaded on to a truck and shipped out.  However, Steve’s enhanced hearing picks up a clue on where Tina could be, leading to an oil refinery owned by Brackett.

Simon provides one last present to Steve, a costume to help hide his identity as Captain America.  Cap heads to the refinery to rescue Tina and stop Brackett.  He sneaks in but is spotted.  The alarm sounds, but Steve’s enhanced abilities are no match for the guards.  Tina is rescued, but the neutron bomb plot is revealed.  With some research, the target is located.  Steve and Simon fly off to stop Brackett.

A second made-for-TV movie, /Captain America II: Death Too Soon/, followed, with Reb Brown back as Cap and Christopher Lee as the terrorist, Miguel.  Miguel holds a town in check with a virus that causes rapid aging.  Unless paid or unless Cap can stop him, Miguel plans to gas a city and withhold the antidote, letting the city die of old age in hours.

The TV movies take liberties with Cap’s background.  Captain America: The First Avenger shows the origins well, with Steve Rogers volunteering for a super soldier program and gaining super abilities as a result, and only being frozen after a fight against the Red Skull.  In the comics, Cap is found by Namor, is thawed, and becomes one of the founders of the Avengers.  That is a lot of backstory to fit into a two-hour TV movie, so the change to an former Marine makes some sense.  Steve became an artist once thawed out, so that part is accurate.  In 1972, thanks to the Watergate scandal, Steve gives up the role of Cap out of disgust with the government and becomes Nomad, a wandering hero.  That storyline, though, only lasted a year.  The change to California is explained by keeping costs down; the studio was based in the state.

In the Seventies, the main names when it comes to live-action superheroes were Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman, all characters with similar power sets – super strength and endurance, all easily portrayed with practical effects, camera angles, and sound effects.  The cost of energy blasts in post could be prohibitive, as seen with the original Battlestar Galactica, but jumping higher than normal uses the simple camera trick of running the film of someone jumping down in reverse.  A drifting hero working for the government covers all the TV series mentioned; it’s a concept audiences should be familiar with and works for Captain America.

Reb Brown, while not the best actor around, is earnest as Captain America and, just as important in a superhero series, has the physique needed.  The earnestness helps when considering that Cap was often considered a Boy Scout in the comics of the time.  The music by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter is very Seventies with brassy horns and doesn’t quite survive the passage of time.  The concept, a hero working for a secret organization, is common, from the OSI in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman to the Foundation for Law and Government in the later series, Knight Rider.

Captain America and its sequel are very much Seventies-era made-for-TV movies, suffering from budget limitations.  They take liberties with Cap’s background, but keep close to the characterization of the time.  The needs of gaining a television audience forced some changes. The movies are definitely curiosities, and make a valiant effort, but fall short as adaptations.

* The Turkish film 3 Dev Adam, released in 1973, featured Captain America fighting Spider-Man and was not authorized by Marvel.
** A filmstrip is a series of still photos placed on a strip of photographic film as a means of presentation, much like an early version of a PowerPoint presentation, often with an accompanying recording on cassette, vinyl, or reel-to-reel with signals to let the viewer know when to change the slide.


Posted on by Scott Delahunt

The Eighties were an odd decade.  The usual follow-the-leader methods loved by studios went out the window as almost anything went.  It was the first decade where popular original works outnumbered popular adaptations.  Music videos were an art form and could turn a near miss into a hit.  Such was the case in 1984 with the original Ghostbusters.  The Ray Parker Jr. video for the movie’s main theme showed more of the movie than traditional trailers, getting people interested in seeing the film.

Ghostbusters went on to be one of the top grossing movies of the Eighties.  The movie, an action-comedy, followed a team of scientists who branched out into a business after their funding was cut by the university.  Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray, saw the potential of the business.  However, Venkman’s ethics were at best loose, allowing him to take advantage of any situation.  The technical geniuses behind the team were Ray Stantz, played by Dan Aykroyd, and Igon Spengler, played by Harold Ramis.  Ray was the wide-eyed enthusiast, eager to explore the possibilities.  Igon was the rational scientist, armed with all literature written on the subject of ghosts, including Tobin’s Spirit Guide.  As business picked up, the Ghostbusters added two more to the crew, Winston Zeddmore, played by Ernie Hudson, who joined the guys in the field, and Janine Melnitz, played by Annie Potts, the receptionist/secretary/general help.

The pick up in business wasn’t just people finally having someone to call to deal with hauntings.  The increase in spectral activity signalled the return of Gozer the Destructor, a dangerous entity that had been banished once before by Tiamat.  Gozer’s minions, the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper, are released to find mortal bodies to inhabit.  Meanwhile, Dana Barrett is having some spectral problems.  Dana is a musician, a cellist with a symphonic orchestra and one of Ghostbusters’ first customer.  Venkman, of the loose professional ethics, starts chatting her up, eventually getting a date with her.  One of the reasons she had called the team was that there was a complaint about her TV being too loud during a time when she hadn’t been home.  Her neighbour, Louis Tully, played by Rick Moranis, vouches for her.

On the night of the date, Louis throws a big party for all his clients in his apartment.  He hears Dana in the hall and heads out there to try to get her to pop in for a moment, but she’s non-commital.  She ducks into her apartment.  Louis tries to get back to his, but the door is locked.  Then the Terror Dog appears.  Louis runs, but is chased down and caught outside a fancy restaurant.  Louis isn’t the only person to encounter a Terror Dog that night.  Dana sits down on her chair to rest before getting ready for her date with Venkman, only for the chair to sprout demonic arms to hold her in place.  The door to her kitchen opens, revealing a doorway to another plane guarded by a Terror Dog.

When Louis and Dana return, the are inhabited by the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper, respectively.  The Keymaster must find the Gatekeeper to open the gate keeping Gozer from returning to Earth.  Venkman discovers Dana sleeping above the covers* and gets teh rest of the team to do what they can to find out what happened to her.  Igon researches and digs up the details of Gozer and what could become of the Earth if the Gozerian is freed.

Alas, the Keymaster and Gatekeeper meet, releasing Gozer.  The power needed to open the gate was provided by the ghosts the team have busted and contained, thanks to human bureaucracy in the form of Walter Peck, played by William Atherton.  The released ghosts terrorize Manhattan and the Ghostbusters are given all due authority required to end the emergency.  Gozer, feeling benevolent to his would-be defeaters, allows the Ghostbusters to choose how their world dies.  While Winston, Venkman, and Igon are able to blank their minds, Ray thought of the most harmless thing he could, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Ghostbusters was followed up with a sequel in 1989, an animated series, The Real Ghostbusters, from 1985 to 1991, a tabletop RPG in 1986, and a video game in 2009 that featured voices of the four original Ghostbusters.  An attempt at a third movie kept running into problems, to the point where co-creator Aykroyd considered the video game to be the third movie.  In 2016, the drought ended.

The new Ghostbusters was a reboot of the franchise.  Instead of Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, and Zeddmore, new Ghostbusters were created and introduced.  The movie starts with a tour of the old Aldredge manor in New York City, where the family had locked up their daughter, Gertrude, who had dabbled in the black arts.  Gertrude was said to be locked in the basement, which hadn;t been opened since.  However, when Gertrude starts trying to break free, the curator locates Dr. Erin Golbert, played by Kristen Wiig, at the prestigious university she works at.  He found her name on a book she co-wrote with Abby Yates about the paranormal, a book Erin thought had been remaindered and is now trying to disavow in order to get tenure.

Erin tracks down her old friend Abby at a much less prestigious university to try to get the book pulled from sale.  Unlike Erin, Abby has continued her research into the paranormal and is now working with Jillian Holtzman, a nuclear engineer and mad scientist, played by Kate McKinnon.  The three women go to the Aldredge manor to investigate and do find the ghost of Gertrude.  Erin tries to communicate with Gertrude and is slimed for the effort.  All three women run out of the manor, fear giving way to elation as they see their paranormal theories validated.

The next day, Erin is let go by her university as the YouTube video Holtzman put up makes the circuit.  Erin goes to see Abby to try to get work there, but the dean of Abby’s university, after learning that the department still exists, cuts all funding.  Abby and Holztman take the equipment and follow Erin out.  They decide to try getting into business; Holtzman has created a few devices that need field testing anyway.  Their first stop is a former firestation, the same one from the original movie.  On hearing the monthly rent, the next stop is an office over the Chinese restaurant Abby regularly orders from.

Meanwhile, in the New York subway, MTA worker Patty Tolan spies someone disappearing off the platform and into the tunnel.  Patty chases him, warning him that the train is coming.  She stops when she sees a spectral entity floating above the tracks.  She contacts the Ghostbusters and shows them where she saw the ghost.  Holtzman gives Erin her new device, a proton pack that should be able to catch the ghost.  There are some problems, including range and recoil, and the women have to get out of the tunnel before the next train arrives.

Patty joins the team, providing the Ghostbusters someone who knows the history of New York City and a vehicle on loan from her uncle.  Their big break comes when a ghost is reported at a heavy metal concert.  The Ghostbusters arrive in their new car, a hearse from Patty’s uncle that has been repainted by Holtzman.  They split up inside the concert hall, searching for the ghost.  Patty finds a room full of mannequins and, knowing horror movies and possibly Doctor Who, walks away from the room full of potential nightmares.  The ghost, inhabiting one of the mannequins, follows her.

The four Ghostbusters make short work of the mannequin, but the ghsot flees upwards, through the ceiling and into the concert.  While at first the audience and the act on stage think its all part of the performance, things change when the ghost tosses the lead singer into the stack of amps.  The Ghostbusters arrive and spread out, with Patty moshing over the audience to get into position and Abby not having the same luck.  The first shots miss, and the ghost lands on Patty.  With careful aim, Holtzman hits the ghost and pulls it off Patty, allowing the others to trap it with their pack.  Holtzman sends out her latest investion, the ghost trap, and seals the ghost away.

The success at the concert leads to more calls.  Erin hires a new secretary, Kevin Beckman, played by Chris Hemsworth.  Unlike Janine in the original movie, where she was the best receptionist the Ghostbusters could afford on the cheap, Kevin was hired by Erin solely to be eye candy.  Kevin has trouble with answering phones.  Business picks up, but the Ghostbusters realize there’s a pattern to where the ghosts are appearing and track it on a map.  Each sighting occurred on a ley line, and the intersection of two ley lines is where the most powerful one will appear.  They also recognize the one constant in each sighting, a bellhop named Rowan, played by Neil Casey.

Rowan sees himself as an underappreciated genius and will show the world otherwise.  The Ghostbusters close in on him and find his lair in the basement of the hotel, the Mercado.  Rowan tries to tell the Ghostbusters about how difficult it is for him to get anywhere in the world**, and apparently commits suicide over being brought in by the police.  While searching his equipment, Erin finds a copy of the book she and Abby wrote and takes it along with her.

That night, Erin reads through the book she found and sees the annotations Rowan has made, which includes him killing himself then returning.  She runs out to warn the mayor to evacuate the city.  At the Ghostbusters’ office, Abby, working late, has her own encounter with a ghost.  She manages to elude it, but it flies away.  The ghost, Rowan, instead takes over Kevin’s body.  Abby brings in Holtzman and Patty.  Unable to reach Erin, the three women head down to the Mercado in Times Square.

Along the way, the three women in the new Ecto-1 stop to bust a ghost at a hotdog stand.  Slimer, however, turns the tables and steals Ecto-1, going off on a joy ride.  The three Ghostbusters run the rest of the way to Times Square to face off against the denizens of Times Square of yore, including a ghostly version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of the Twenties.**  The Ghostbusters destroy most of the balloons but one, good old Stay-Puft himself, lands on them.  Balloons being balloons, though, are not match to Swiss Army knives, as Erin demonstrates.

Reunited, the four women turn to get through the mass of ghosts under Rowan’s command.  Holtzman’s inventions all come out, from the ghost shredder used by Patty to proton grenades thrown by Abby to twin pistol-sized proton packs that Holtzman kept for herself.  They fight through the ghosts to face off against Rowan.  Being magnanimous in apparent victory, Rowan gives the Ghostbusters the choice of his final form.  Patty chooses the cute little harmless ghost in their logo.  Rowan agrees, and turns into a cartoon version of the logo before growing into a far more sinister version.

As can be seen above, the plots of both movies are similar.  Both have a being manipulating spectral energy to gain power and destroy the world.  In the original, the being was the extraplanar Gozer the Gozerian.  In the reboot, the being was more mundane but also more typical of the problems women in the real world face.  The devices are the same, given updates and more flashing lights in the new movie but still recognizable as what they are.  The reboot also pulls ideas from the existing franchise, including the cartoon.  Rowan’s rampage at the end of the movie is similar to the opening credits of the cartoon.  The cartoon also gave direction to Slimer’s appearance in the reboot and may have been the source for the idea of the strong recoil the proton accelerators have.

The gender flip of the main characters also means that what the guys could get away with in the first movie couldn’t be done so much in the reboot.  At the same time, Kevin was eye candy, hired by Erin because of his looks, something Venkman didn’t do in the original.  The characters don’t match up on a one-to-one basis.  Elements of the original characters, however, do appear in the reboot; there is some Igon in Holtzman, but Holtzman is definitely not Igon in drag.  Abby may be the one character that has the strongest resemblance to another, in Ray, but Abby is still her own character, with her own traits and flaws.

The use of CGI should get mentioned.  The original Ghostbusters didn’t have the luxury of affordable CGI.  The Last Starfighter, one of the first movies to use extensive CGI for special effects, came out in the same year as Ghostbusters.  The original Ghostbusters used extensive practical effects with cel animation.  The reboot could make use of CGI in place of the cel animation, but even then, practical effects were also used.  Drones were used as stand-ins for the ghosts to give the actors something to look and aim at.  Lighted extensions on the proton accelerators allowed the actors to react without having to keep the ends still to aid the animation process.  Special effects caught up to the needs of the movie, allowing for trickier shots, such as Holtzman going to town with two proton accelerators.

Is the reboot the same movie as the original?  No, and it couldn’t be.  A shot-for-shot remake would be a waste of talent.  Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon are far too talented and had such great chemistry working together that a mere gender-flip wasn’t enough.  Director Paul Feig allowed his actors room to improv, much like Ivan Reitman did in the original movie, allowing the chemistry to appear on screen.  The reboot, though, takes in the full franchise and presents it on screen.  The new Ghostbusters has fun with the material, which is what is expected with an action-comedy.

Administrivia:
Lost in Translation now has a Facebook page!

* “Three feet above the covers.”
** Special features on the DVD reveal that the balloons in the scene were based on actual balloons used in the parade of the era.  There really isn’t much difference between the ghostly balloons and the real ones.


Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Because of other happenings in my life, Lost in Translation will not appear this week.  I should be able to give proper attention to the review on tap when Lost in Translation returns.

In the meantime, Lost in Translation can now be found on Facebook.


Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Remakes of popular films have it rough; the production staff needs to balance the expectations of existing fans while still working to get new viewers in.  With cult films, the balancing act needs to account for what made the original enduring.  Remaking The Rocky Horror Picture Show is daunting enough; the movie was one of the 70s top grossing movies and still plays to packed theatres, especially around Hallowe’en, and has audience participation.  To say there are built-in expectations is to scratch the surface.  Fox, however, added another level of difficulty – The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again was made for TV.

Broadcast* television is heavily regulated as a public resource.  In the US, the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission – has issued community standards of broadcast setting down what is and what is not allowed.  Since the “wardrobe malfunction” of 2004, the FCC’s enforcement has become more strict, at least before the watershed hour of 10pm.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show covers themes that dance over the line of what is allowed.  However, since Rocky Horror‘s release in 1975, attitudes have changed.  What could only be hinted at forty years ago, such as homosexuality, can be stated outright today, though having gay characters kiss, even chastely, will still generate complaints.

Shot-for-shot remakes just lead to viewers wondering why they just didn’t watch the original.  Deviating too far from the original, especially one where there’s audience participation, will leave viewers also wanting the original.  There’s a fine line to tread, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again makes the effort to find it.  Let’s Do the Time Warp Again frames the movie as a movie, with audiences, both television viewer and in-film, being brought into the Castle Theatre during the opening number, “Science Fiction/Double Feature” sung by Ivy Levan.  The in-film audience brings in the audience participation that movie-goers would get and is one of the draws of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The plot of the movie follows the original script created by Richard O’Brien for the stage play, The Rocky Horror Show.  Between the movie and the various performances of the stage musical, there’s no getting away from it; audiences are expecting that story.  However, it’s not the plot that is key; it’s the performances.  Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter is iconic; Frank-N-Furter is a sexual omnivore casually seducing everyone around, including the theatre audience.  Curry is a tough act to follow, and his presence in Let’s Do the Time Warp Again as the Criminologist** serves as a reminder of his previous role.  Laverne Cox is up to the challenge as the new Frank-N-Furter.  While Cox doesn’t quite channel Curry, she does exude raw sexuality, predatory and assertive, in the role.  Meanwhile, Victoria Justice as Janet Weiss and Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors protray the young highschool sweethearts going through sexual liberation, Janet willingly and Brad reluctantly.  Rounding out the cast, Reeve Carney does channel Richard O’Brien as Riff-Raff, sounding much like the original.  Frank-N-Furter’s castle is played by Toronto’s Casa Loma, and looms menacingly in the stormy night.

The remake includes a few shout outs to the original movie, including Columbia saying, “I hope it’s not Meatloaf again,” during the dinner scene.  Considering all the challenges faced, the remake stepped up and delivered.  Even the cheesy CGI near the end can be forgiven; no one in Toronto would appreciate the destruction of Casa Loma after all the time and money put into renovating the building.  The biggest drawback Let’s Do the Time Warp Again had was the commercial breaks, disrupting the flow at times.  The drawback will be corrected with the DVD release, allowing viewers to watch the movie through without interruption.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again won’t replace The Rocky Horror Picture Show, nor does it try to.  The framing of the remake goes a long way to set up how to view the movie and brings in the audience participation, the biggest draw of the original movie.  The forty years between the original release and the remake’s airing gives Let’s Do the Time Warp Again the room needed to address the theme of sexual liberation, with the Unconventional Conventionlists and the Transsexual Transylvanians being a goal, not an oddity.  Given enough time, Let’s Do the Time Warp Again should reach cult status, much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and join the original movie on the repertory circuit.

* Over-the-air, though even that description is getting less and less accurate as online streaming becomes more and more popular.
** Portrayed in the original movie by Charles Gray, who also played Blofeld in Diamonds Are Forever.


Posted on by Steven Savage

And with NaNoWriMo now kicking into gear, I’ve got another sale to help out my fellow creatives!

WThe Way With Worlds 1 ebook is on sale until November 7th!  It’s a chance to get a little boost in your work and think over the world’s you’re building!

Like I said I’m not doing NaNo this year, so it’s my contribution.  Still, let’s see about next year . . .

– Steve


Posted on by Steven Savage

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, www.SeventhSanctum.com, and Steve’s Tumblr)

Yes, it’s done!  The Pizza Generator is complete and ready for your culinary randomization!

This one was another generator where I went in for really deep analysis, and I think it paid off.  Pizzas are a complex business, and I found specific “pizza patterns” that guided the generator’s design.  There were also more than I expected, which got a bit complicated.

With this I need a bit of a break from food generators.  They’re fun, but surprisingly complex, and I think because I love to cook I tend to get into them really deep.  I’m not done yet – I at least want to do a candy bar generator – but I’m gonna need a rest.

As for other generators, well I’ve got plans . . .

– Steve


Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Peanuts has appeared before in Lost in Translation.  The comic strip first debuted October 2, 1950 and ended February 13, 2000 after the retirement and passing away of creator Charles M. Schulz.  It was his and his family’s wishes that the strip end with his retirement, but the strip is still going with repeats, with older strips gaining new readers who weren’t born when first published.  Peanuts grew beyond the newspaper comics page, leading to a series of televised specials starting in December of 1965 and leading to the 2015’s The Peanuts Movie.

Released sixty-five years after the strip’s debut, The Peanuts Movie was the first to present the classic characters using computer animation.  Schulz’s son, Craig, and grandson, Bryan, were involved in the writing and production of the movie.  The movie follows the full cast, headed by Charlie Brown and Snoopy, over the course of winter and spring, as a new family movies into the neighbourhood.  The new family includes a new classmate, the Little Red-haired Girl.  Charlie Brown is smitten by the newcomer.  He spends the rest of the movie trying to work up the courage to talk to her, stepping up to write a book report when she has to leave town and isn’t able to co-write the assignment, and learning to dance to impress her.

Snoopy and Woodstock work together to write about the World War I Flying Ace and his fight against his nemesis, the Red Baron.  The Ace meets a French beagle who gets taken prisoner by the Red Baron, necessitating a raid deep behind German lines to find her.  The Ace’s efforts mirror Charlie Brown’s; both struggle in their quests, but both persevere, overcoming obstacles.

The story is familiar, coming from Schulz’s works, including the comic strip and the TV specials.  The take on the story line is fresh, not just through the animation but the writing.  Every character who appeared in Peanuts gets a chance to shine, even briefly, on screen.  Classic bits appear, including Snoopy as Joe Cool, Charlie Brown versus the kite-eating tree, and even, as an Easter Egg during the end credits, Charlie Brown trying to kick a football held by Lucy.  The movie also re-animates some classic scenes from the specials, including skating on the pond and dancing from A Charlie Brown Christmas and the dogfight between Snoopy and the Red Baron from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  The musical score is a mix of old and new, bringing in Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” alongside Meaghan Trainor’s “Better When I’m Dancin’“.  The movie even uses recordings of Bill Meléndez, who passed away in 2008, of Snoopy and Woodstock to keep the feel.  The one adult, teach Ms Othmar, is played by a trombone.  The CG animation doesn’t detract from the characters.  The facial expressions are straight from the strip, and the characters themselves are accurate in appearance.  There is a visible effort to keep the movie true to the comic, to keep the simplicity of Schulz’s work.

The Peanuts Movie is very much a Peanuts movie.  Schulz’s son and grandson took great pains to make sure that the film followed naturally from the decades of work already beloved by millions.  It would have been easy to create a movie that paid just lip-service, but they went above and beyond, recreating the feel of Peanuts with a newer animation style without losing what made the comic popular.


Posted on by Steven Savage

I may not have time to participate in NaNoWriMo this year (I am writing, but not up for the challenge), but I figure I can make this contribution – my book “The Power Of Creative Paths” is on sale for this week!  Hope that makes everyone’s life a bit easier.

Hope it helps out.  Maybe I’ll participate next year.

To be honest, I sort of am envious people can participate.  I usually have my book plans set out months or even a year in advance so I’d have to plan that.  On top of it, NaNoWriMo seems more FUN when it’s fiction.

. . . or I could make a generator next NaNoWriMo.  Hmmmm.

– Steve


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