Sci Fi Boys – Documentary (2006) – movie review

forrest j ackerman pteradactyl armature

Sci Fi Boys – Documentary (2006)

sci fi boys dvdThis documentary is as much a tribute to Forrest J. Ackerman and Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine, as it is to Sci-fi films. You may be surprised to learn that it was Ackerman who coined the term “Sci-Fi.” It is a fitting tribute because Forry, along with good friends, Harryhausen, George Pal, and Ray Bradbury helped shape and push the genre of Sci-fi into the hearts and minds of young film fans who would later become the top directors, FX artists, and filmmakers in the world.

The film starts out with past footage of Forry making a speech. He says, “I am speaking to you from the year 1970…” a very ‘sci-fi sounding’ choice of words. He goes on to explain a bit of what makes sci-fi what it is. During the course of the documentary we hear from Peter Jackson, John Landis, Frank Darabont, Stephen Sommers, Harryhausen, Bradbury, Stan Winston, Rick Baker, Phil Tippet, and Dennis Muren amongst many others, talk about their Sci-Fi roots which often point to Famous Monsters magazine and the original 1933 movie King Kong. Bob Burns and Don Glut talk of their favorite Sci-Fi films and sci fi boys jacksoneras. Roger Corman speaks of William Castle and the wonderful sales pitch he would deliver for each of his films. Bob Burns talks about the creations of Paul Blaisdell in the 50’s sci-fi films and how Paul and his wife would assemble monsters on a shoe-string budget from items in his garage. There is a segment devoted to Harryhausen’s inaugural ‘Star’ on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, only yards from Grumman’s Theater, where, as a boy, he had seen the film that set the direction of his life, King Kong.

There is also a segment which features the amateur 8mm and Super 8mm films of Don Glut, Steve Johnson, Bob Burns and Fred Barton, as well as others, from their early years as boys looking to emulate their favorite sci-fi feature. The film shows the early Harryhausen projects as well, test footage for films that have never been made. There are some great photos of George Pal standing on the set of War of the Worlds, and clips of Forry’s eulogy at Pal’s funeral.
roger corman metropolis2
Roger Corman                                                Metropolis

Near the end Steven Spielberg talks about the change over to CGI and the possibilities that change has unleashed. Dennis Muren from ILS talks of the early computer technology that started with the FM 117film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and how it influenced the making of Star Wars.  Sci Fi boys was put together by Paul Davids and he did an astounding job at presenting an interesting, and perfectly paced documentary. The dvd/blu-ray cover features artwork by Basil Gogas. The dvd itself includes bonus extras that are well worth the purchase for die hard fans.

This is a fantastic documentary and I would highly recommend it for every sci-fi, horror, and monster movie fan.

For more info, look here: Sci Fi Boys

Currently available on Netflix.
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sci fi boys muren FM 108
forrest j ackerman
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A tribute To Ray Bradbury – (1920 – 2012)

A tribute To Ray Bradbury – (1920 – 2012)

I’d like to commemorate one of science fiction’s most well-known authors, Ray Bradbury, after hearing about the day of his passing on June 5th, 2012.  Bradbury is most famous for his speculative fiction, sci-fi books and short stories, including; Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. First introduced to his work in school with, ‘I Sing the Body Electric‘, I was instantly a fan of both Bradbury and the format of the short-story, for horror and science fiction. Ray often had stories published in sci-fi ‘pulp’ magazines such as Amazing Stories.

At the age of eight I began purchasing and collecting, Famous Monster of Filmland Magazine, where I learned of Bradbury’s influence on one of my favorite 1950’s sci-fi films, Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. The film featured stop animation by Ray Harryhausen and I soon learned of the friendship between Bradbury, Harryhausen and Ackerman. Bradbury also penned the script for Moby Dick (1956) based on the novel by Herman Melville. His stories were often adapted to TV shows including episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He also hosted his own TV show, The Ray Bradbury Theater, which I had watched frequently during its run from 1985 – 1992. The last film adaptation of his work that I can recall seeing was A Sound of Thunder (2005).

If you are even a casual reader of sci-fi, you would enjoy Ray Bradbury’s work as he always had a very human and down-to-earth element in his stories. His characters were often regular people doing extraordinary things.
Two books I had owned as a young lad: