Jim Henson and Frank Oz‘s 1982 cinematic fantasy The Dark Crystal remains a marvel of practical visual effects, puppetry, and classical storytelling more than three decades after it was first released in theaters. A longtime favorite of kids and adults, Crystal‘s cult following has grown over the years and the film continues to win over new fans every time it gets inserted into a DVD or Blu-ray player or screens theatrically.
I know it did with me. Earlier this year I blind bought the extras-packed Blu-ray release of The Dark Crystal from Barnes & Noble to see if the movie deserved the love and adulation that has been piled on it since its big-screen debut a week before Christmas 1982. As a proponent of practical effects, models, miniatures, and matte paintings over CGI creations I was amazed by the beautiful imagery that directors Henson and Oz – working from a screenplay by David Odell (Masters of the Universe) – and their team of FX wizards and puppeteers headed by concept artist Brian Froud worked tirelessly to bring to life at a considerable (for the early 1980’s) budget of $17 million.
Before Mike and Sulley revolutionized the way they powered their world in Monsters Inc., they were roommates hellbent on making each other’s college experience a miserable one. This is what we get to see in the first few seconds of the trailer for Monsters University, which can bring up some memories for those who had to go through the dreams or traumas of sharing a dorm with a person for the next few months.
Check out the newest trailer for Monsters University here below.
The teaser trailer didn’t show us a whole in terms of plot; in fact, the entire trailer was sequestered in the dorm. This newest trailer is much more bright and colorful, mirroring Mike’s glee as he sets foot to become a full-fledged scarer. But it wouldn’t be a college experience without a few rivalries (both in the dorm and on the football field) and prank pulling. It seems like Monsters University can be a whole lot of fun since it is going back to characters we know.
This Fall, the 1986 Little Shop of Horrors get the Blu-ray Book Pack treatment, with a Director’s Cut edition which will include a 20-minute restored alternate ending and 40-page booklet.
Little Shop of Horrors began life as a horror-comedy that was shot in three days by director and B-movie legend Roger Corman and released in 1960. More than two decades it was brought back to life as an off-Broadway stage musical that ran for over 2,200 performances and at the time was the highest-grossing off-Broadway production ever produced. In 1986, movie producer and music mogul David Geffen took Little Shop of Horrors back to the big screen in a $25 million musical extravaganza directed by legendary Muppet performer and filmmaker Frank Oz and starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene (who also starred in the off-Broadway show), Steve Martin, Vincent Gardenia, James Belushi, John Candy, and Bill Murray in an inspired cameo based on Jack Nicholson‘s performance in the 1960 original. It went on to become one of the year’s big hits in theaters and on home video, and at the following year’s Academy Awards the movie earned two nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song. Unfortunately the film lost in both categories to Aliens and Top Gun, respectively.
When The Muppets hits theaters the day before Thanksgiving the movie will be missing one of the original “Muppeteers”: Frank Oz.
Before becoming a director with films as diverse as the 1986 musical remake of Little Shop of Horrors and the DeNiro/Brando/Norton crime drama The Score to his credit, Oz provided the voices and movements for several of the most iconic Muppet characters including Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Animal as well as Grover and Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. He also did the voice and puppeteering for Yoda in the original Star Wars trilogy (for the prequels Oz only did the voice, as Yoda was now a CGI character).
These videos have been around for a long time and were special features on the DVD release of the Jim Henson classic, The Muppet Movie. But it wasn’t until Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer posted it on his blog that I became aware of their existence.
The videos are basically just Henson, Frank Oz, and director Jim Frawley doing camera tests for the 1979 movie, and the result is almost 14 minutes of fantastic Muppet improvisational fun. Most of the time it’s Kermit the Frog and either Fozzie Bear or Miss Piggy, with a mention and appearance of some other Muppets.
These videos (especially the second one) are must-watch for any fan of the Muppets, so drop all your important adult business and click on over to the other side for some surely much-needed happy time!