Tagged: Barbarella

Mike Gold: It’s Not Your Father’s Boob Tube Anymore

gold-art-140122-150x214-1540579It just started to snow out here in the Atlantic Northeast. I got the mandatory robo-call from our mayor telling us the world is coming to its end. There’s just enough white stuff on the ground for a 1980s yuppie to slip into a twitchy nostalgic daze. Going outside would be stupid: people out here don’t know how to drive on snow, and they act as though a little bit of snow is a sign from their lord telling them they’re going to hell. Which, given the fact this is snow and not hot hail, seems oxymoronic.

I’d give up and just watch television, but I really haven’t enjoyed daytime television since Phil Donohue got liquored up and threated to bite Mike Douglas’s balls off, and besides, odds are in favor of my losing power for at least a while. The good news is, I’ve got lots of stuff on my iPad – including work – and I can recharge that in my car. The better news is, pretty soon we’ll all have access to a lot more fun stuff.

Perhaps you heard that Marvel Studios is cutting out a slice of the MCU and taking it to Netflix as a whole bunch of mini-serieses: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, each with its own 13 episode series, each set in Hell’s Kitchen, and then winding up with a big mini called “The Defenders.”

That’s pretty cool. I like the idea of programming coming from non-broadcast and non-cable sources, and I like both House of Cards and Alpha House on Netflix and Amazon Prime, respectively. Marvel says that Netflix gives them the ability to do more fan-friendly teevee; that’s either a really good idea or a threat. We’ll see.

Now comes word that another comics creation is coming to TabletVision. Amazon Studios is paying for the long-in-development Barbarella pilot, based upon Jean-Claude Forest classic science-fiction comic from the 1960s. Skyfall writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are still on board to write the series.

I don’t think any of these projects would have made it on cable teevee, and certainly not on broadcast. Oh, sure, maybe Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist or Luke Cage, but not all four tying into a fifth mini-series. As for Barbarella, well, the campy movie doesn’t transfer well into the 21st Century, but the comic book does. We’ll see which path it takes… and how salacious they can be.

With the recent, massive improvement of Agents of SHIELD, Fox’s Gotham pilot (which sounds like it has great potential), NBC’s John Constantine pilot, and ABC’s Agent Carter pilot (I loved the Marvel One-Shot on the Iron Man 3 Blu-Ray), I’m actually a lot more enthusiastic about teevee comics than their four-color counterparts at Marvel and DC.

And they’re willing to put it all on my lap, or, through AppleTV or similar devices, on my HDTV.

For free… well, pretty much.

Thank you.



FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


Paramount Celebrates Centennial With Location Trip Sweepstakes

Paramount Celebrates Centennial With Location Trip Sweepstakes

HOLLYWOOD CA – Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) announced today that it will launch a monthly sweepstakes beginning in January 2012 in honor of the studio’s centennial celebration.  Sponsored by Delta Vacations, the sweepstakes will give consumers the chance to win roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations for three nights in any of the 48 contiguous United States*.

Destinations may include cities inspired by some of Paramount’s classic films such as New York City where Francis Ford Coppola’s epic masterpiece The Godfather and the beloved classic Breakfast At Tiffany’s were filmed; Chicago, IL where Ferris Bueller had the best day off ever; San Antonio, TX, where the breathtaking drama Wings was filmed with a cast of thousands; or Hollywood, CA, setting and subject of Sunset Boulevard and home to countless film productions.  Visitors to Paramount’s Facebook page can enter every month throughout the year.

Each month, PHMD will release a classic film from the studio’s renowned library for the first time ever on Blu-ray™ under a monthly theme that celebrates Paramount’s rich cinematic history.  The year-long program will begin with “Best Picture Winners” in January, led by the winner of the very first Academy Award® for Best Picture, the 1927 World War I drama Wings, debuting on January 24th.  February’s theme will be “Love Stories” appropriately headlined by the unforgettable 1970 classic Love Story, which will make its Blu-ray debut on February 7th.

Additional titles scheduled to debut on Blu-ray include Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller To Catch A Thief on March 6th; the seminal neo-noir classic Chinatown on April 3rd; the hilarious comedy Clueless on May 1st; John Wayne’s gritty western Hondo on June 5th; the daring, futuristic adventure Barbarella on July 3rd; and the all-star comedy-mystery Clue on August 7th.

A Brief Look at Foreign Comics Adapted into Film

Italy’s Dylan Dog is interesting in that it is one of the first foreign comics adapted by Americans for the big screen. With the video release of the little seen feature film coming July 26, we were given to consider the foreign comics we know as readers and may have never seen the film versions. The first adaptation of Dylan Dog was a homegrown effort, 1994’s Dellamorte Dellamore (known in English as Cemetery Man or Of Death and Love) from director Michele Soavi.

Other countries have tried their hand at adapting their homegrown comics as films, with about the same level of fidelity and success as most American attempts. For example, there the dreadful 1966 movie based on Peter O’Donnell’s brilliant Modesty Blaise. Not to be outdone in awfulness, America tried their hand at a prime time series, starring Ann Turkel. The 1982 ABC pilot aired and got some reasonable reviews but Americanizing it robbed the show of its charm. The direct-to-video My Name is Modesty, released in 2004, was far worse.

America didn’t do any better with Britain’s beloved Judge Dredd. Danny Cannon and Sylvester Stallone share credit for ruining a wonderful concept with their ham-fisted 1995 feature film.

Italy’s Danger: Diabolik was turned into a 1968 feature film from horromeister Mario Bava based on the Italian comic character Diabolik, a 1962 creation by Angela and Luciana Giussani. The film is noteworthy simply because it was bad enough to be used as the final episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

More iconic was the 1968 film from director Roger Vadim, based on Jean-Claude Forest’s Barbarella. Starring Jane Fonda, it was psychedelic and campy and tremendous fun. Maybe that’s why attempts at a remake have stalled; hitting those notes is a trick most filmmakers today struggle with. John Philip Law deserves credit for appearing in both Diabolik and Barbarella in this year, showing his agent had no taste.

Maybe they should just faithfully adapt the source material much as the successful series about everyone’s favorite Gaul, Asterix, who has starred in 11 films since 1967.

They all could have taken lessons from Japan which pays a lot more fealty to the source material when adapting manga to anime or film to manga. A prime example is the seven films based on Lone Wolf and Cub. The first screened in America in the 1980s under the title Sword of Vengeance, just as comics fans were being introduced to First Comics’ editions of the classic tale. Shogun Assassin, also shown in the US, took the first film and a chunk of the second and for people unfamiliar with the concept, as I was when I screened it for Fangoria, it was eye-opening.  Known as the Baby Cart series, they launched in 1972 and remained revered.

Of course, Belgium’s Tin Tin will take his turn this winter but that’s a story for another day.



The Phantom Detective. The Woman in Red. The Domino Lady. Secret Agent X. The Black Terror. Airboy and Valkyrie. The Flame. Ms. Masque. Beginning in 2011, these classic pulp heroes and comic book characters from the 1930’s and 1940’s will come to audio drama for the first time in brand new stories from today’s leading pulp authors as The AudioComics Company presents its follow-up project to their critically-acclaimed adaptation of Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta’s Starstruck: the MEN OF MYSTERY series.For these stories, we’re keeping these characters rooted in their origins and time periods: Hammett’s San Francisco and Chandler’s Los Angeles. California in the dirty thirties and forties was the new wild west: immoral, violent, and wearing the white hat and a badge didn’t mean you didn’t have suspect motives. With the lines so badly blurred, the only way to meter justice was behind a mask. Furthermore, characters such as The Black Terror and The Flame will be written with a ‘pulp sensibility,’ as if they were originally written as pulp heroes. Men of Mystery adventures will feature all of the suspense, all of the hard-boiled action, and the breakneck cliffhanger energy of classic movie serials.

Writers and CD/Mp3 artists will be announced in the new year, with recordings commencing in late 2011 in San Francisco, beginning with several new Green Lama and Domino Lady stories. MoM plays will be released first as pay-per-download Mp3 serial recordings and then to community radio stations, with collected compact disc “audiothologies” available starting in 2012. In addition, The AudioComics Company will release several free short MoM pieces as digital content for mobile phones.


The basis for the critically acclaimed comic book series, Starstruck was first presented off-off-Broadway in 1980, and again off-Broadway in 1983. In a far-flung and very alternative future, Captain Galatia 9 and the crew of the Harpy and on a mission for the United Federation of Female Freedom Fighters. When the Harpy runs into a living ship inhabited by a team of galactic evildoers, including Galatia’s insidious sister Verloona Ti, the outcome of the battle may well decide the fate of the free universe. The AudioComics Company is proud to present the audio adaptation of the play script as its inaugural production! Often hilarious, always surprising, Starstruck is a spine-tingling joy-ride to the far side of the spiral arm!
Review: ‘Pretty Maids all in a Row’

Review: ‘Pretty Maids all in a Row’

Before he was canonized as a futurist, Gene Roddenberry was a failed Hollywood producer, having watched two series crash and burn after short-runs on prime time television. He began shifting his focus from[[[Star Trek]]] during the series’ third season, working for his buddy Herb Solow at MGM. In 1970, Solow asked Roddenberry to take on a problematic script, an adaptation of a novel by Francis Pollini called[[[ Pretty Maids all in a Row]]]. It was to be the American film debut of director Roger Vadim, fresh off his pop culture hit [[[Barbarella]]].

The story of a series of murders at a California high school was blended with sexual hijinks as one story featured a guidance counselor who was bedding as many comely teenagers as possible and a sexually frustrated student who couldn’t stop getting excited at all the braless wonders in their teasingly short skirts. For a major studio production, it was one of the first to freely feature copious amounts of onscreen nudity and can be seen as a precursor to the sexual romps seen in the smarter [[[Animal House]]] and raunchier [[[Porky’s]]].

Roddenberry wrote and produced the adaptation, which was a good fit for the randy man who also had a well-known eye for a pretty face. Matched with Vadim, who shot his cast lovingly, this should have been an intelligent, funny bit of entertainment instead of a vapid train wreck. The movie, released this week for the curious by Warner Archive, can be seen as a cult favorite or as a glimpse into Roddenberry’s skills before his unsuccessful string of pilots that marked his 1970s (and all of which are now out from Warner Archive).

The film has an A-list cast fronted by Rock Hudson and the gorgeous Angie Dickinson as faculty and a pre-Kojak Telly Savalas as the investigating detective. The cast also includes familiar faces like Roddy McDowell, Keenan Wynn, and for the Trekkies among us: William Campbell and James Doohan. ComicMix fans can check out the future Isis, JoAnna Cameron in an early role. William Ware Theiss was unfettered for the costume design and he made sure to show off the sexiest, skimpiest contemporary fashions that few high schools at the time would have ever allowed.


Valerie D’Orazio on DC, Comics Culture and the Female Presence

Valerie D’Orazio on DC, Comics Culture and the Female Presence

In a wide-ranging interview over at The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon talks to Valerie D’Orazio, former DC editor, current Occasional Superheroine blogger and president of Friends of Lulu.

Over the course of their conversation, D’Orazio discusses her former employer(s), the state of women in comics and the industry as a whole, and even shares a few thoughts about what readers should and shouldn’t expect from publishers.

Oh, and she offers up a word or two about the best targets for fans’ outrage, too:

SPURGEON: Is there any issue in the last three years that you think has been underplayed? Overplayed?

D’ORAZIO: I understand a lot of the outrage some readers have about stuff like T&A in comics. But this stuff is never going away. The primal need to look at a pair of breasts is never going away. Now, saying something like "I don’t want this cherished comic book heroine to be a slut" or "kids shouldn’t read that stuff" or "mixing images of women with sexualized violence can be dangerous" makes sense to me. But take the case of Top Cow’s Witchblade. It’s erotica. It’s like our generation’s Vampirella or Barbarella. I can laugh at this or that aspect, but the title isn’t a menace that needs to be stopped. It serves a function for men, the same function Laurell K. Hamilton’s books serve for women — the blending of horror/fantasy with erotica.

As with many of Spurgeon’s interviews (and in the interest of disclosure, I was one of ’em), the conversation is quite lengthy but worth every word for anyone interested in learning about the culture, business and behind-the-scenes environment of the comics industry.

Robert Rodriguez on Barbarella

Robert Rodriguez on Barbarella

Director Robert Rodriguez will be directing the remake of Barbarella.

The director of such hits as Sin City and From Dusk To Dawn, well-known for his low budget on-time green screen work, has put Babs on his schedule alongside The Jetsons (live action) and Sin City 2, which has been in pre-production for a while. Casino Royale writers Neal Pervis and Robert Wade will be scripting, and Dino De Laurentiis will be repeating his duties as producer. Production is scheduled to start next year. Jane Fonda is not expected to be cast as the lead once again, although a villain role has not been ruled out.


To tie into the movie, the original Barbarella comics stories by Jean Claude Forest will be re-released in two volumes; material that had never been published in English will be included.


More retro films, sequels on the way

More retro films, sequels on the way

Yeah okay, y’all are still talking about Barbarella, aren’t you?  Sorry, the original had some cute ideas but gah, was it sexist!  Talk to me when she’s properly dressed and Simon LeBon’s cast as Duran Duran.

Now here’s what I’m craving — a bit of the ol’ Get Smart.  USA today has a blurb about the in-production movie (set to open in late June) based on the old TV show created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.  Andy Dick is nowhere in sight, thank goodness, but I love the casting they do mention — Steve Carell should make an ideal Maxwell Smart, Anne Hathaway has the potential to succeed Barbara Feldon as a smart and funny Agent 99, and Alan Arkin as The Chief is just too perfect.  Some of the other cast members sound like they’d fit right in as well.  I know I’m pretty psyched for Masi Oka’s big-screen debut!  (Did you know Steve Ditko drew Dell’s Get Smart comic book?)  Let’s hope the indicated trouble in paradise is just a rumor.

Meanwhile, all is not well with the casting of Mummy 3 — The Inevitable, as our esteemed Mike Gold refers to it.  Seems Brandon Fraser is in, but Rachel Weisz is out, leading to speculation that she’s definitely doing Sin City 2 — This Time It’s Even More Personal (my subtitle).  I haven’t seen the Mummy flicks in awhile, but how integral was Weisz’s character in them?  I seem to recall as she was pretty much "love interest/accessory" rather than, you know, an Agent 99 type.

And Harry Knowles is swearing up and down that Shia LeBeouf has been cast in the fourth Indiana Jones movie as Indy’s son, which only interests me insofar as he has one of the more fun names to say and type.  And elsewhere on Ain’t It Cool News, Quint reports that Christina Ricci has been cast as Trixie in the upcoming Speed Racer movie. With John Goodman and Susan Sarandon all set to play Speed’s parents, which amazingly means that Speed’s mom is bound to get actual screen time.

Barbarella taken under James Bond’s wing

Barbarella taken under James Bond’s wing

The classic French science-fiction comic book character Barbarella will make her return to the big screen, according to Variety. Casino Royale writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have signed on to write the feature. Occassional comic book writer Jean-Marc Lofficier (Teen Titans) brokered the deal.

The creation of Jean-Claude Forest, Barbarella turned heads in this country by being one of the first “legitimately” published comics to feature nudity and sexual themes. It was serialized in the United States in the avant-garde magazine Evergreen and collected in both hard cover and trade paperback graphic novels back in the 1960s.

In 1968, Barbarella was made into a movie directed by Roger Vadim and starring his wife, Jane Fonda. She was surrounded by a stellar cast, including John Phillip Law, Anita Pallenberg, David Hemmings, and Milo O’Shea as the original Duran Duran.