Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nosferatu, a LIVE Symphony of Horror

Gabriel Thibaudeau premiered his new score to the 1922 silent film Nosferatu last night in Montreal.  I have been fortunate enough to meet Thibaudeau a few times, most recently when I interviewed him about his score to the Universal Pictures Lon Chaney vehicle The Phantom of the Opera.  This interview appears as a bonus feature on the IMAGE blu-ray of the silent classic.

The world premiere of his new score for Nosferatu was an invigorating, energetic experience. A twelve-piece ensemble performed it, and the instrumentation includes the rare use of a cimbalom. That's a large concert hammered dulcimer that gives a "foreign" sound to the music. To my knowledge, the only score of Thibaudeau's that has received a proper video release is The Phantom of the Opera.  Would love his scores for Metropolis and Nosferatu to receive a similar treatment someday.   The rest of the photos show a trip to Germany I took a few years ago, where I had the chance to explore all the German outdoor locations from the 1922 film Nosferatu.
Silent Phantom composer Gabriel Thibaudeau holds his original score for the film, and I hold the blu-ray on which our bonus feature appears.   

These salt warehouses in L├╝beck, Germany harbored the vampire in the film Nosferatu.

This public housing structure served as one of the main neighborhoods for plague-stricken victims in the 1922 film.
Both Hutter, the hero, and the vampire are seen walking through this pretty yard, belonging to a church in Wismar, Germany.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The Vincent Price Collection" released today

The Vincent Price Collection, from Shout Factory, is officially released today!

Not only does the set contain six classic movies from the horror icon's career, it also features some introductions and final comments from Mr. Price himself, shot in my hometown. Not only that, but I'm proud to have played a role in introducing these intros to a wider public!

Many of you who have already seen a preview of this disc set have written nice comments about the intros, both on discussion boards devoted to home media, and in the blu-ray reviews. 

Vincent Price sets the stage in the Iowa Public Television twelve-part film series The Vincent Price Gothic Horrors
 These intros show a suave Vincent Price, wearing a tux, looking at ease in a variety of gothic, elegant settings. He dramatically sets the stage for the movie we are about to see, whether it's The Fall of the House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, or Conqueror Worm.

I am really thrilled to have collaborated with Scream Factory and Iowa Public Television to present the vintage Price intros and outros on this blu-ray release.  I also produced and edited the bonus feature "Introductory Price:  Undertaking The Vincent Price Gothic Horrors," and conducted the interview with the writer of the original intros. 

It's funny how it all happened.  As a young kid in the 1980s,  I was a completely loyal viewer of a 12-episode film series produced by my local public television station in Iowa. It impressed me that Vincent Price would come to my hometown to shoot movie wraps, and this was my first time seeing any (and all) of the Corman-Poe-Price films.  

When MGM released their Midnite Movie DVDs of the Price films more than 10 years ago, I enjoyed them, but always felt those intros were missing.   On the very night I heard Shout Factory was going to release five of the Poe-related films, I wrote Cliff MacMillan in productions and acquisitions at Shout,  and asked if I could connect him with Iowa Public Television.  What concerned me, however, was that I had no idea whether IPTV even still had those old intros in their possession.  Knowing how things go at a TV station, I suspected they would not simply throw away an important piece of their legacy.  Iowa Pubic Television connected me with the writer of the introductions, Duane Huey.  He left me in suspense a bit, admitting no one was sure where those intros were.  Luckily, he found them rather quickly.  He added he was in the process of retiring, and said it was a good thing I'd contacted him when I did. Then he informed me the intros existed only as raw footage, instead of nicely packaged pieces. Huey sent me the raw footage after I'd volunteered to edit it into the intros and outros I'd remembered as a kid.  Finally I decided to interview Huey, because I imagined fans of Vincent Price might enjoy the intros and would want to know the story of their origin.  

These intros were originally intended to be seen just by Iowans, and only in the context of a film series in 1982. I'm just so very honored that Scream Factory,  Iowa Public Television and myself could work together to let these charming intros be seen by many more admirers of Vincent Price, far and wide in the 21st century.

I'm paying my respects at the Tomb of Ligeia, where the film was shot in Norfolk, England.    Photo from 2004.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

AMERICAN DREAM  by Paul Larson

Paul Larson and Olly Murs.  Photo by Erica Lyn, 2013.

Olly Murs had visions "to be... famous and sell records and be an international superstar," when he first graced the stage of the British X Factor in 2009.  Those visions have materialized into three successful albums and four number one singles in the U.K., and a stab at stardom in North America.  

I met Olly Murs on a special night of his life, two hours before his very first concert as the headlining act in the U.S.  The British popstar had toured North America as the opener for One Direction last year, but this time, he was the star.  

"It's massive for me... this is a huge concert.  It's New York.  It's America," he said, sitting in the lobby of Irving Plaza, one floor below the concert hall where he would perform to a sell-out crowd.  "I'm intrigued to see how many fans know my songs."  
Olly Murs and Robbie Williams.  Photo by Ken McKay / Rex USA, 2009.

I, too, wondered what kind of U.S. fans a British artist could have who had yet to release an album stateside.  I admitted to the charismatic Mr. Murs that my own knowledge of him was limited to what I had learned online in the two months since British pop sensation Robbie Williams had announced Olly would be the support act for his European stadium tour this summer.  I haven't missed a Robbie tour in ten years.
Olly and Miss Piggy.  Photo by Idil Sukan / Draw HQ, 2011
"Robbie's always been there for me," he said. "I mean, Robbie's my best friend."  

Williams had rallied for and even sang with Murs, who became the runner-up on The X Factor.  "He taught me to make sure I write my own song, which I did."

Murs returned to the X Factor stage in 2011, as a radiant example of a TV competition success story.  The handsome lad from the East of England sang his own 1950s-inspired song "Dance with Me Tonight," backed by some of Jim Henson's most beloved Muppets.  "Obviously you see the puppeteers...but when Miss Piggy comes to life, she really is Miss Piggy.  She even threw a diva strop onstage which was really hilarious, where she said that she wanted more lines to sing... I was like, 'Unfortunately, Miss Piggy, this is my song, not yours.'"

That song, plus "Troublemaker," both number one singles in England, will appear on Murs' first U.S. album in April.  The lyrics of "Troublemaker," about a toxic yet irresistible girlfriend, drew from the songwriter's own experience.  "It's not a healthy relationship. I think we all love challenges in life and we meet a girl... that's that challenging, it's like, I want a piece of that."

Charming a "tough" New York crowd was not challenging for the 28-year-old that night.  Mostly female, mostly young, and mostly fans who'd learned about Olly through social media during his tour with One Direction eight months prior, they mostly knew every line of every song, and loudly sang along.  Once Murs was convinced they knew his music, he still tested them. "What's my middle name?"     
"Stanley!" shouted the entire room, including me.  Thanks, Wikipedia!

When he spotted one of his male fans giving him the thumbs up from the balcony during the infectious "Heart Skips a Beat," he mirrored the gesture and waved at me.  Thanks, Olly!

Olly at Irving Plaza.  Photo by Shawn Batchelor, 2013
You can now find his gestures, suggestive wiggles and teases about removing articles of his clothing that night on YouTube, as well as his leading the entire crowd in what became an all-night sing-along.  What you will not find from bootlegged footage of his first solo concert in the U.S. are any major embarrassing moments. The same can't be said for his performance in Sheffield, England a year ago, when a kneeling young star suddenly spread his legs too wide, splitting his pants, "and obviously my briefs fell out," he laughed. Half a year later, he "stacked it onstage" in Surrey, stumbling down a slippery staircase.  The tumble went on YouTube, and the evening news.  Robbie Williams came to the rescue with a supportive e-mail.

"He just said, 'Mate, you're not the only person who did it,' and he actually put a link down, and when I clicked the link it was actually him falling over on stage on a big concert... He's got a sense of humor like me, so it's great."   

As our interview came to an end, I wished the soulful singer great success in America. "Thank you," he smiled, "and I'll see you at the Robbie Williams' tour." 



The album Right Place, Right Time is set for release on April 16 in North America.  Watch for Olly's performance on 90210
 the same month.

This article was written by Paul Larson for Dress to Kill magazine. 

The Olly Murs interview is presented by Mountain Lake PBS-TV, in partnership with 93.3 WSLP, Lake Placid, New York, B-100.7, Plattsburgh, NY, Radio Creme Brulee, New York City, and Dress to Kill magazine.