August 31, 2010
Victory Through Air Power is a WWII propaganda film made by Disney in 1943. This clip of the film’s final sequence shows American forces, represented by an eagle, fighting (and defeating) Imperial Japan, which is depicted as a giant evil octopus.
(via Vulgar Army)
July 15, 2010
June 10, 2010
Today at Target I got my first look at Stretch, the new octopus character from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3. The movie doesn’t open until June 18, but, as one would expect, the merchandise is out in full force. I saw Stretch figures in two different sizes: the 8″ (or so) “Deluxe Figure” which appeared to be made out of a soft, glittery material, and the much smaller (~2″) “Buddy Pack” figure which is made of a harder plastic.
(Sorry about the poor quality of these photos. The focus on my Droid phone’s camera is a little uneven.)
The official movie site says that Stretch (who is female, by the way, and voiced by Whoopie Goldberg) is “fun-loving,” and all the images there show a happy looking toy octopus. However, the toys I saw today are of a very surly cephalopod. Is she a villain (she has a villain’s “eyebrows”), or is she just grumpy? If so, WHY SO GRUMPY? I’ll guess we’ll have to wait until the 18th to find out.
Stretch’s bio on the official site also includes the following description: “Toss her high on the wall and watch her climb her way down!” Clearly, Stretch was inspired by the 80′s fad toy, the Wacky WallWalker®.
June 6, 2010
I find it a little hard to believe that The Goonies is 25 years old. I am also surprised that I never knew about this deleted scene wherein our heroic band of foul-mouthed adolescents get attacked by a giant octopus!
In this clip, the song used to defeat the octopus is “Eight Arms to Hold You” by Goon Squad. Here’s the original video, full of stop-motiony goodness. It’s a classic tale of Octopus Meets Girl, Octopus Helps Girl Win Band Audition.
December 30, 2009
I realized that I left out a couple of things from last night’s post, so here’s there rest…
The big book is Prehistoric Life: The Definitive History of Life On Earth by DK Publishing. It’s opened to the the section on Cretaceous invertebrates, and the reconstructed ammonite depicted there is the genus Scaphites.
The ceramic octopus was a gift from my friend Mur, and as soon as I know who made it (or where she got it) I will post an update here.
Lastly, we have one of this year’s Hallmark Keepsake ornaments. “Learning with Mr. Ray” depicts one of my favorite scenes from Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo. One of Nemo’s classmates is a young Flapjack Octopus (Opisthoteuthis californiana) named Pearl. Flapjacks, like all Cirrate octopuses, are deep-sea cephalopods, so, if she could have even survived living in a coral reef at all, Pearl must have been a transfer student or something. All the same, it’s nice to see obscure cephalopod species depicted in popular culture!
October 2, 2009
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival promotes the works of H.P. Lovecraft, literary horror, and weird tales through the cinematic adaptations by professional and amateur filmmakers. The festival was founded in 1995 by Andrew Migliore in the hope that H.P. Lovecraft would be rightly recognized as a master of gothic horror and his work more faithfully adapted to film and television.
September 11, 2009
Dragon*Con has been over for nearly a week, which is plenty of time for the Internet to help me find all (well, nearly) the cephalopod-themed costumes from this year’s menagerie of the weird. Enjoy.
Davy Jones ( Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) from the Dragon*Con parade.
Netherworld squid monster.
Ursula the Sea Witch from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
The Fruity Oaty Bar commercial from Joss Whedon’s Serenity come to life!
MINDstyle’s “Stephen Le Podd” con exclusives.
It’s this guy! He’s back!
August 30, 2009
I totally forgot about this animated sequence from Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Disney, 1971)! Not only do we get a short octopus drum solo, but we also see why one should never play poker with a cephalopod.
July 8, 2009
Hot on the heels of Movie Week, I find out that Disney is working on a prequel to their classic 1954 adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (covered previously here and here). Due to be released in 2011, and titled Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, McG (Terminator: Salvation, Charlie’s Angels) is attached to direct. And I am afraid.
Supposedly, the prequel will tell the story of how Captain Nemo goes from being an Indian prince to the brooding science pirate we all know and love. Or, in McG’s words “Where you look at the original picture [Nemo] just enters and he’s already pissed off and underwater and what we want to do is show how he got there.” McG has also stated that he wants Will Smith to play Captain Nemo.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Will Smith just fine, but why go through all the trouble of adhering to the character’s original backstory (in The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne reveals that Nemo was Prince Dakkar, son of the Raja of Bundelkhand) but not cast an Indian actor? I’m having troubling visions of a mutant mashup of the abysmal League of Extraordinary Gentleman movie and Wild Wild West.
The Hollywood Reporter reported (duh!) yesterday that the script for Captain Nemo is undergoing a major rewrite, but only time will tell if this is a good thing or not. (For the record, I’m getting all this second-hand from Meredith Woerner over at io9, THE blog for science fiction news.) I guess the odds are pretty good that there will be some kind of cephalopodian element to this movie, and, if so, I fear the odds are even better that it will end up in the Indie Squid Kid Movie Hall of Shame.
So, to cheer myself up, I’ll end with some production images from Disney’s original 20,000 Leagues movie. All of these and more can be found at Pat Regan’s wonderful www.volcaniasubmarine.com.
July 5, 2009
I decided to take a break for the Fourth of July holiday, but I’m back to wrap up Movie Week. All week long I have examined notable examples of cinematic cephalopods, but tonight I am going to end things with a look at films that are, from a squid’s-eye view, a bit disappointing, if not down right embarrassing. So, without further ado, I present to you the Indie Squid Kid Movie Hall of Shame:
1. Clash of the Titans (MGM, 1981)
Loosely based on the myth of Perseus, this movie featured stop motion special effects by Ray Harryhausen, making it a reluctant classic, despite its unintentional campiness and complete butchery of the source material. Clash of the Titans makes the Hall of Shame because the film’s main monster, the so-called Kraken, is not a proper Kraken at all! The Kraken is traditionally (and almost universally) depicted as a gigantic cephalopod, usually a squid. So, if a toga-clad Lawrence Olivier says he is going to send a Kraken to destroy your city, you would have a certain set of expectations, a giant four-armed humanoid lizard-fish not being among them. But even accepting a bit of creative license in the monster department, the Kraken is most definitely NOT part of the Perseus myth, or any Greek myth for that matter. In fact, the tales of the Kraken originate in Scandinavian and Germanic folklore. Why the filmmakers chose not to use Cetus, the actual sea monster from the story of Perseus and Andromeda, is beyond me.
Warner Bros. is currently in production on a remake of Clash of the Titans which is due to be released March of 2010. From what little information I can find, the updated plot still includes “the Kraken”, so I am not optimistic that this movie won’t end up joining its namesake in the Hall of Shame.
2. The Harry Potter movie franchise (Warner Bros., 2001 – present)
In each and every Harry Potter book, J.K. Rowling makes a point of mentioning the giant squid that lives in the lake that is part of the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, the giant squid has been left out of every Harry Potter film to date—even Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which features the lake quite prominently in a number of scenes. The sixth film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, comes out later this month, but, sadly, I have no reason to believe that this won’t perpetuate the chronic squidlessness of the movie series.
3. Batman: The Movie (20th Century Fox, 1966)
I really love this movie, so it pains me to include it in the Indie Squid Kid Movie Hall of Shame. However, I can’t ignore the fact that the film promises an exploding octopus but fails to deliver on that promise. This movie was a spin-off of the hugely successful television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, and it features Batman’s four main villains: The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether). Together they are the United Underworld, and they have hatched a diabolical plan to do away with Batman. The plan, in a nutshell, involves luring Batman to their headquarters where a jack-in-the box will launch him through the window and out to sea into the waiting arms of an exploding octopus. During the inevitable fight, a goon accidentally springs the trap and gets sent flying into the ocean. The instant he hits the water, there is an explosion, but no octopus is seen. Is a cheesy rubber octopus really too much to ask for? Did the rubber exploding shark that attacks Batman at the beginning of the movie blow the budget?
I do have to admit that the United Underworld emblem, an octopus enveloping the globe, is pretty cool (I wonder if Michelle at Vulgar Army knows about this?), but what’s up with the bird beak?
4. Sphere (Warner Bros., 1998)
Based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name, Sphere stars Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson. It not a good movie. In fact, it is widely considered to be Dustin Hoffman’s worst. It is so bad, I am not even going to bother trying to summarize the plot. Sure, I could expound on all the reasons why this underwater psychological sci-fi thriller is such a dud, but to my mind, it can all be boiled down to this one scene—the giant squid “attack.”
Seriously, what the hell was that about? If you had asked me to think of what the scariest possible thing about getting attacked by a giant squid at the bottom of the ocean would be, I would not have come up with “rain of eggs.” You know what’s scarier than a bunch of squid eggs? ANYTHING! Also, is the vague outline of a squid on the sonar screen really the best that a big-budget Hollywood production could come up with? WEAK. I think I know why Sam Jackson’s character is reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea…he wishes he was in a movie with a legitimately frightening cephalopod! And that, my friends, is why Sphere wins the ISKy for Worst Movie Cephalopod of All Time.