PREDATORS, THING prequel & WALKING DEAD at WONDERFEST!!!
Published at: May 17, 2010, 12:48 p.m. CST by headgeek
Hey folks, Harry here... still in Louisville, getting ready to head over to the Edgar Rice Burroughs museum!!! So very excited about that. This weekend at WONDERFEST has been just about blissful.
Being a guest at a convention can really be an overwhelming experience, especially at the moderate to large sized regional events like this one. WonderFest has been going on for 21 years, just seven years longer than AICN's been around! The particular identity of this convention is that it is one of the great MODEL shows in the world. The contest had well over 500 astonishingly well put together models - including a restoration of the Nostromo... the original model used in Ridley Scott's seminal classic. It made me very happy to see that this killer piece of SciFi history has been rescued from the brink of decay.
I also got to spend some really great quality time with William Stout, who I had brought into to help design JOHN CARTER OF MARS back in the old Paramount/JCOM days. He did some amazing work for us. Hopefully one day the world will see that work, along with that of the other great artists that we were blessed with. And then there was the Guest Green Room - which was like being wrapped inside the last 4 pages of a classic issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND - as we were surrounded by great Captain Company memoribilia... and BOURBON. A LOT OF BOURBON. Saturday night, my wife and I got pretty trashed, when Lou Ferrigno decided to pour "to the rim" drinks of straight bourbon. Being drunk with the Incredible Hulk talking about his upcoming reality show that he's shooting a pilot for TV LAND, but the real glee when we started talking about his childhood faves of Curt Swan's SUPERMAN comics of the classic Silver age, then we chatted about The Three Stooges and ABBOTT & COSTELLO till wee hours, before I joined Stout in a debate regarding our favorite Frankenstein movies.
The show though was really about the very old school fans that we were surrounded by here. Like Courtlandt Hull - the nephew of Henry Hull - a tremendous actor and the very first cinematic wolfman from WEREWOLF OF LONDON, a really great movie that began many of the werewolf legends on film. Courtlandt was here to show his AURORA MODELS documentary which while still a tad rough, is a real nostalgia trip - especially given it is hosted by the king of horror hosts, Zacherly... who was going to come in, but at 90-something, he's at his COLLEGE REUNION this weekend. No Joke. There's 4 of em. Then there was JOE MOE - a talented vocalist that has done a lot of work for Disney, but is most known as being the right hand man of Forrest J Ackerman for his last 20 years on our planet. Joe... Joe is seriously one of the most sweet people I have ever known. The sort of person that just instantly puts you into a calm cool demeanor. That man has magic in him. But the first real taste of the kind of response that made Yoko and I feel so at home here - came from Terry Pace & his family - who just were the exact "WE NEED MORE FANS LIKE THESE" that I love. Terry is a classic horror film geek - even having one of his letters published in FMOF! He named his son Forrest, after Ackerman - and his daughter seriously does the most adorable recital of THE ADDAMS FAMILY theme... all verses. Though, she will need to work a bit on her snap - but that comes with age. Snapping your fingers at 4 is pretty tough.
There's so many great fans I met - One of my faves was the great Robert Taylor. This man reminded me so much of a very dear old time geek in San Antonio that I grew up knowing named Bobby Morehead. Chatting about music from the teens through the thirties. Well, there's just not that many folks that I get to geek out about that part of my geekdom. Much less films like the great PANDORA'S BOX.
ANYWAY - you came to find out about PREDATORS, WALKING DEAD & THE THING Prequel.
Well, one of the things I was doing here was... Originally, I was going to be moderating a PREDATORS panel with Greg Nicotero and Nimrod Antal. However, Greg had to cancel due to working on Frank Darabont's WALKING DEAD for AMC. And Nimrod has just been crunched - working on the final mix of PREDATORS which he's feeling the pressure of the release date which is coming right at him. SO... The PREDATORS panel wound up being me and Dave Connover (one of the grand poo-bahs of WONDERFEST) - and Dave and I had a grand time talking about PREDATORS - I've been talking with Rodriguez for about 14 years regarding PREDATORS - and told stories about Robert's original scriptment - the process of choosing Nimrod for the film, how the project came to return to Rodriguez about more than a decade of cobwebs. THEN... Dave queued up a 9 minute special behind the scenes video by Greg Nicotero and the wizards at KNB that was to show us the process that they went through to bring back to life the original Predator - with a higher degree of articulation (hey, there's been some minor advancements in the past 25 years or so.) HOWEVER, as Greg went to introduce the video from his workshop at KNB...
He first produced a zombie that he's working on for THE WALKING DEAD - I haven't seen any of KNB's work for this VERY anticipated show from AMC and Darabont. Any concern about this show not adapting the more ghoulish aspects of THE WALKING DEAD. Well, I haven't seen such an awesome cadaverous Zombie since RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD or... even LIFEFORCE. Only... this was mixed with more "wet" than either of those. We're talking very cool work here. The glimpse raised my already high expectations. Can't wait to see what Frank does with this - and hopefully we'll get some glimpses to share with you shortly!
But as Greg put the zombie down... And moved ever so slightly to his left... We could see further back into KNB - and there... clearly in the background was something they were working on, obviously, for THE THING prequel. This thing was right out of Bottin's THE THING. Two heads split and joined by that stretching, warping slimey muscle... "what is that" "that's human, that's human" and That is decidedly not. I'm still scared shitless by this project, but just seeing that one head. well, two heads with alot of gross between the two... Let's just say, I'm cautiously optimistic now.
After the reel - we chatted for a bit about what we just saw and I decided. Dammit, let's see if I can ring up Robert Rodriguez, put him on Speaker phone and make him do a Q&A with this audience dying for official PREDATORS news.
Robert gracefully began a 30-45 minute Q&A with the audience. Telling us that the CG is very minimal - and that there was just a single green screen shot in the entire production - otherwise - they built the environments and sets or found location. KNB built a ton or practical stuff - and the CG is enhancements mainly - and the "dogs" when they're running and dynamic. That went over very well with this MODEL orientated crowd.
Robert also shared that in the adaptation process from his crazy expensive treatment - to what Nimrod shot was a process that involved having to watch the AVP films to see what they had done, that might have been in that treatment. As Robert didn't want to repeat those beats. But mainly - he felt that in taking PREDATORS into space and into a non-Earth film... he wanted to get our feet wet here - with the idea of taking us the rest of the way in the next PREDATORS - which depending on the success of this film, will possibly take us to the PREDATORS homeworld.
Wait! You thought that was this film? No. The planet here is like the Predators' Hunting preserve. They drop various dangerous things to hunt on this planet and let the things interact, fight and they enter the fray as well. I even got the notion that perhaps even Predator outcasts might be placed here to be hunted. BUT he didn't say that directly.
You will see some Predator extra gizmos, you'll also see PREDATORS fighting in different techniques - to show that perhaps... there could be different disciplines that the Predators explore as hunters and warriors. I find that a relief. Hopefully that'll translate to different kinds of armor and dress.
I'll add more to this column later today, I have to check out of the hotel right now - and go enjoy the Edgar Rice Burroughs museum!!! See you later!