ICFIFC: The Sidney W. Pink Horror Films

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ICFIFC: The Sidney W. Pink Horror Films

Sidney W. Pink (March 16, 1916 – October 12, 2002) was an American movie producer and occasional director.  He has been called the father of feature-length 3-D movies.  He is also noted for producing early spaghetti westerns and low-budget science-fiction films, and for his role in actor Dustin Hoffman's transition from stage to screen.

Sid Pink was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  After playing the film producer in his high school's production of Merton of the Movies, he realized this was the profession he would ultimately pursue, calling it his life's ambition.  He worked as a projectionist in a movie theater owned by his wife's family and earned a degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

In 1952, Pink produced Bwana Devil, a feature-length color film that was the first widely-shown 3-D film to use the polarized 3-D method1 rather than the red-and-blue-glasses anaglyph 3-D2 occasionally used for short films.  It was made using the Natural Vision system, which employed two separate but interlocked cameras and required two specially modified projectors.  The film premiered in late November and started a brief but intense 3-D fad that peaked in mid-1953, faltered in the fall, rallied, then faded away almost completely during 1954.

In 1959, Pink produced The Angry Red Planet, using a new film processing technique he named CineMagic3 to create an unreal, otherworldly "Martian" effect in some sequences.  In 1961, he supplied the original story for Reptilicus, a giant-monster-on-the-loose film he co-produced and co-directed in Denmark at Saga Studios.

In 1966, Pink discovered the young Dustin Hoffman in an off-Broadway stage production in New York City and cast him in the lead in Madigan's Millions, which was filmed in Italy and Spain.  The film was not released until 1969, two years after Hoffman achieved stardom with his role in the 1967 film The Graduate.


 

The Angry Red Planet (1959)

  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Ib Melchior
  • Produced:
    • Norman Maurer 
    • Lou Perlof  
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Written:
    • Ib Melchior 
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Starring: Gerald Mohr, Naura Hayden, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen, Paul Hahn, J. Edward McKinley, Tom Daly, Don Lamond, Edward Innes, Gordon Barnes, Jack Haddock, Brandy Bryan, Joan Fitzpatrick, Duke Norton
  • Music: Paul Dunlap
  • Cinematography: Stanley Cortez
  • Editing: Ivan J. Hoffman
  • Studio:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Sino
  • Distributed:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • MGM Home Entertainment  
    • Timeless Media Group
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 23 November 1959 (USA)
  • Running Time: 83 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

The Angry Red Planet (aka Invasion of Mars and Journey to Planet Four) is a 1959 science fiction film starring Gerald Mohr and directed by Ib Melchior.  Melchior was only given 10 days and a budget of $200,000 to make the film.  This necessitated the use of a CineMagic technique, which involved using hand drawn animations together with live action footage, and was used for all scenes on the surface of Mars.  Although this process was largely unsuccessful, producer Norman Maurer would attempt the same technique again in The Three Stooges in Orbit.  American International Pictures released the film as a double feature with Circus of Horrors.

The rocketship MR-1 (for "Mars Rocket 1"), returns to Earth after the first manned flight to Mars.  At first thought to have been lost in space, the rocket reappears but mission control cannot raise the crew by radio.  The ground crew land the rocket successfully by remote control.  Two survivors are found aboard: Dr. Iris Ryan and Col. Tom O'Bannion, the latter's arm covered by a strange alien growth.  The mission report is recounted by Dr. Ryan as she attempts to find a cure for Col. O'Bannion's arm.

While exploring Mars, Ryan was attacked by a carnivorous plant, which was killed using a freeze ray (nicknamed 'Cleo') fired by weapons officer Jacobs.  They also discover an immense bat-rat-spider creature, after mistaking its legs for trees, which is later repelled, again by Jacobs.  When they return to their ship, the crew finds that their radio signals are being blocked and the MR-1 is grounded by a force field.  O'Bannion leads the crew to a Martian lake with a city visible on the other side.  They cross in an inflatable raft, only to be stopped by a giant amoeba-like creature with a single spinning eye.  The creature kills Jacobs and infects O'Bannon's arm.  The survivors escape to the MR-1 and commence liftoff.  The survivors then return to Earth, where O'Bannon's infected arm is cured using electric shocks.

When the mission scientists attempt to examine the expedition's data recorders, all they find is a recorded message.  An alien voice announces that the MR-1 crew were allowed to leave so they can deliver this message to Earth.  The Martians have been watching human development throughout history, believe our technology has outpaced cultural advancement, and accuse mankind of invading their world.  They warn humanity to never return to Mars or Earth will be destroyed in retaliation.


Reptilicus (1961)

  • Genre: Action – Horror - Sci-Fi
  • Directed:
    • Poul Bang  
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Produced:
    • Samuel Z. Arkoff 
    • Sidney W. Pink 
    • Johann Zalabery
  • Written:
    • Ib Melchior 
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Starring: Bent Mejding, Asbjørn Andersen, Povl Wøldike, Ann Smyrner, Mimi Heinrich, Dirch Passer, Marlies Behrens, Carl Ottosen, Ole Wisborg, Birthe Wilke, Mogens Brandt, Kjeld Petersen
  • Music:
    • Sven Gyldmark (Danish Version)  
    • Les Baxter  (US version)
  • Cinematography: Aage Wiltrup
  • Editing:
    • Sven Methling 
    • Edith Nisted Nielsen
  • Studio:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Cinemagic 
    • Saga Studio
  • Distributed:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Home Video Hellas  
    • Orion Home Video  
    • MGM Home Entertainment  
    • Emerald  
    • Timeless Media Group  
    • Cinefear  
    • World Beyond Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date:
    • 20 February 1961 (Denmark) 
    • 20 January 1963 (USA)
  • Running Time: 82 minutes
  • Country:
    • Denmark 
    • USA
  • Language:
    • Danish 
    • English

Reptilicus, a giant monster film about a fictional prehistoric reptile, is a Danish-American co-production, produced by American International Pictures and Saga Studio, and is—upon close examination—two distinctly different films helmed by two different directors.

The original version, which was shot in Danish, was directed by Danish director Poul Bang and released in Denmark on February 25, 1961.  The American version, which was in English with a nearly identical cast, was directed by the film's American producer-director Sidney W. Pink; this version was initially deemed virtually un-releasable by American International Pictures and had to be extensively reworked by the film's Danish-American screenwriter, Ib Melchior, before being finally released in America in 1962.  Pink was angry at the changes and wound up in a legal dispute with AIP.  After Pink and others viewed the English-language version, the lawsuit was dropped.

Danish miners dig up a section of a giant reptile's tail from the frozen grounds in Lapland, where they are drilling.  The section is flown to the Danish Aquarium in Copenhagen, where it is preserved in a cold room for scientific study.  But due to careless mishandling, the room is left open and the section begins to thaw, only for scientists to find that it is starting to regenerate.

Professor Martens, who is in charge of the Aquarium, dubs the reptilian species "Reptilicus" (upon a reporter's suggestion) and compares its regeneration abilities to that of other animals like earthworms and starfish.

Once fully regenerated from the tail section, Reptilicus goes on an unstoppable rampage from the Danish countryside to the panic-stricken streets of Copenhagen (including one of its famous landmarks, Langebro Bridge), before finally being killed with poison by ingenious scientists and military officers.

However, the monster's foot is not destroyed and sinks to the bottom of the sea.  The movie is left open-ended, with the possibility that the foot could regenerate.


Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)

  • Genre: Action – Adventure – Fantasy
  • Directed: Sidney W. Pink
  • Produced:
    • Samuel Z. Arkoff 
    • Sidney W. Pink 
    • Johann Zalabery
  • Written:
    • Ib Melchior 
    • Sidney W. Pink
  • Starring: John Agar, Greta Thyssen, Carl Ottosen, Peter Monch, Ove Sprogøe, Louis Miehe-Renard, Ann Smyrner, Ulla Moritz, Mimi Heinrich, Annie Birgit Garde, Bente Juel, Julian Burton
  • Music:
    • Ib Glindemann (Danish Version)  
    • Ronald Stein (US version)
  • Cinematography: Aage Wiltrup
  • Editing:
    • Tove Palsbo 
    • Thok Søndergaard
  • Studio: Cinemagic Inc.
  • Distributed:
    • American International Pictures  
    • Astral Films  
    • Columbia Pictures  
    • Home Video Hellas  
    • Image Entertainment  
    • LK-TEL  
    • MGM/UA Home Entertainment  
    • RCA/Columbia Pictures Video  
    • Tapes of Terror
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 10 March 1962 (USA)
  • Running Time: 77 minutes
  • Country:
    • Denmark 
    • USA
  • Language:
    • Danish 
    • English

Journey to the Seventh Planet is a 1962 science fiction film.  It was directed by Sid Pink, written by Pink and Ib Melchior, and shot in Denmark with a budget of only US$75,000.  The seventh planet of the title is Uranus, and a crew is being dispatched there by the United Nations on a mission of space exploration.  The film's ideas of astronauts exploring outer space only to confront their inner mindscapes and memories precede the similar-themed 1972 film Solaris by a full decade (although the novel Solaris precedes this film by a year).  The film is also reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's 1948 short story Mars is Heaven! that appeared in the 1950 book The Martian Chronicles.

During their journey to Uranus, an alien presence briefly assumes control of the crew's minds.  They awaken safely but notice that a long - and unexplained - period of time has passed by.  Upon landing, the crew finds a forested land oddly like Earth's, rather than the cold, bleak world they were expecting.  This forest is surrounded by a mysterious barrier.  One of the crew pushes his arm through the barrier, only to have it frozen.

New features and forms begin to appear each time they are imagined by the crew.  A familiar-looking village appears, complete with attractive women the various male crew members have known in the past.  Soon, they must face a series of strange beasts including a giant bi-pedal cyclopean rodent and a lobster-like insect.  The crew realizes that they have been the victims of mind control by a gigantic one-eyed brain living in a cave.  There, they are confronted by the "Being," whose mysterious brain cuts to the inner thoughts of the explorers and causes their thoughts to appear as seemingly real.  The brain-Being plans to possess the astronauts' bodies and have them take it with them back to Earth where it will implement a plan for global domination.  The crew gradually come to realize their peril and start to fight back against the presence, even eliciting aid from the sympathetic women.  They must then confront the Being in its lair while it assaults each with monsters spawned from their fears.

 

Notes:

1.  A polarized 3D system uses polarization glasses to create the illusion of three-dimensional images by restricting the light that reaches each eye, an example of stereoscopy.  To present stereoscopic images and films, two images are projected superimposed onto the same screen or display through different polarizing filters.  The viewer wears low-cost eyeglasses which contain a pair of different polarizing filters.  As each filter passes only that light which is similarly polarized and blocks the light polarized in the opposite direction, each eye sees a different image.  This is used to produce a three-dimensional effect by projecting the same scene into both eyes, but depicted from slightly different perspectives.  Several people can view the stereoscopic images at the same time.

2Anaglyph 3D is the name given to the stereoscopic 3D effect achieved by means of encoding each eye's image using filters of different (usually chromatically opposite) colors, typically red and cyan.  Anaglyph 3D images contain two differently filtered colored images, one for each eye.  When viewed through the "color-coded" "anaglyph glasses", each of the two images reaches the eye it's intended for, revealing an integrated stereoscopic image.  The visual cortex of the brain fuses this into perception of a three-dimensional scene or composition.

3CineMagic is the name of a film process invented by Norman Maurer and 3-D movie producer Sid Pink for the 1959 science-fiction film The Angry Red Planet to cast a red glow over scenes depicting the surface of Mars.  The low-cost process made the actors look similar to cartoon drawings so they would fit in with low-budget, less realistic sets and props.  To achieve this effect, a black and white film negative was first processed with solarization (a process which partially reverses the negative making some areas of the image appear positive).  The resulting film was then tinted red.  Making a film positive was not necessary.  At the time The Angry Red Planet was produced, black and white film cost less than color film and processing.  The combination of using black and white film for all scenes depicting Mars and not needing to produce a film positive lowered production costs for the film.

 

Sources:

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