A long time ago is right now. A galaxy far, far away is right here.
No, I’m not slipping into a 1990 Jesus Jones haze. Instead, I’m fondly remembering a recent visit to the abode of Biff Bam Pop’s Editor-in-Chief, Andy Burns, wherein I got some quality time to play a little My Little Pony (Princess Twilight Sparkle rules!) with his beautiful little girl (who, I’m proud to say, also happens to be my awesome Goddaughter).
And although friendship might be magic, it’s the vehicular quiz game that the two of us played that really raised an eyebrow and brought me back to when I was a kid.
The game was Star Wars. And our quiz instructor was the beautiful new hardcover book from DK Publishing titles: Star Wars Complete Vehicles.
It makes a great gift this holiday season for both the young and impressionable – and the older and impressed. Here’s why…
When you talk about legendary directors, it’s no stretch to put John Landis in that category. Let me just run down a few of the classic films he’s given us – National Lampoon’s Animal House. The Blue Brothers. An American Werewolf In London. Trading Places. Spies Like Us. Three Amigos. Coming To America. It’s a pretty amazing cv, isn’t it? This is the man who directed Thriller, the greatest music video of all time. Hell, he even co-wrote Clue, which is one of the most beloved films of the 80s.
A few years ago, John Landis added author to his list of credits with Monsters In The Movies, a gorgeous DK coffee table book that delivers what’s on the cover. I’d been hoping to talk to him about the book, his movies and the horror genre, and I’m happy to say, the interview finally came to pass, thanks to the folks at DK and the Toronto International Film Festival, who are putting on Toga! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a monthlong film fest which includes among its featured directors, John Landis. It’s all worked out so nicely. Let me preface our chat by saying that, of all the interviews I’ve done on our site, this was the most freewheeling, and in many ways, the most fun.
So, without further adieu, check out our interview with the one and only John Landis.
Andy Burns: I’ve been waiting to talk you about Monsters In The Movies for a few years now, since DK sent it to me, so thank you for taking the time. First of all, how did you wind up writing the book. It’s a gorgeous book.
John Landis: I was in London making a movie, and in the U.K., An American Werewolf In London is a big movie. It’s like being in Chicago with The Blue Brothers. When you’ve made a lot of movies, certain movies have more resonance in certain countries. I was approached by four different publishers asking me to write a book about horror films. And I thought, “gee, I don’t want to”(laughs). But they were offering me money. Then, totally coincidentally, I met a woman named Loretta Dives who runs with her husband The Kobal Collection, which is the largest collection of motion picture photography in the world, and she asked me if I wanted to do a picture book. And I didn’t want to write a book about horror films, but the monsters themselves are so interesting visually that I thought that would make a fun book. She said, “Great, let’s do that”, and she went to several publishers, and we chose DK mainly because of the quality of their books.
It took about three months. I was doing other things too, but the writing of it went rather smoothly. I mean, it’s written in a conversational tone. I wrote the chapters, and then I thought that I wanted to hear from important and influential people in the monster world. So the ones who were in the book – Rick Baker, Ray Harryhausen, who sadly just passed, Christopher Lee, Sam Raimi, Guillermo Del Toro, Joe Dante, John Carpneter – they’re all friends of mine. I’ve known all those guys for 35, 40 years, so I did these conversations where I sat with them and recorded it. I enjoyed those, but unfortunately because of the limitations of the book ,I had to heavily edit them, because they were quite lengthy. The two most interesting things about them were that, they’re old friends, so they can’t bullshit me. I can challenge them. And two – I think they all had really interesting and insightful things to say.
How do you make sense of more than 45 years of interstellar history, hundreds of alien races, spaceships, and crew members across various fleets of star crafts?
Visually, my friend, visually.
There are many gifts you can get the James Bond fan for the holidays. The obvious choice would be the DVDs or Blu-Rays of the movies, or maybe one of the beautiful sets of all the movies. You could get the books, either the originals by Ian Fleming, or later ones by John Gardner and others. Recently an amazing bad boy of a holiday gift came to my attention – a beautiful poster book from the fine folks at DK Publishing. More about James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters after the jump.
Our friends at DK Publishing produce some truly amazing books but they’ve outdone themselves this year with their 2012 version of the slipcase hardcover: DC Comics: Year By Year A Visual Chronicle Updated Edition. Not only is it a great looking tome, but DK has actually made some sense of the DC Universe’s intricately tangled (and fanboy infuriating) eight decades worth of story continuity while laying the groundwork for the next set of important stories to unfurl.
It’s a lovely sight to behold!
Biff Bam Pop’s Holiday Gift Guide – LEGO Batman 2 & DC Universe Super Heroes Batman Visual Dictionary
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
I’m a comic book fan and a LEGO fan, so when you combine those two interests in one product, you can pretty much take the money right out of my wallet. Somehow I missed out on the first LEGO Batman video game, but I kept hearing great things about LEGO Batman 2. I’ve enjoyed some of the other LEGO game franchises, specifically Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and fun of LEGO Batman 2.
Happy birthday, Spider-Man! This year marks the 50th Anniversary of everybody’s favourite wall-crawler, and we’ve had the chance to celebrate with all sorts of treats. There was the new film (my personal favourite in the Spidey series), a solid iOS based, free form game and some solid monthly writing from the great Dan Slott in the Amazing Spider-Man comics. Now, if you’re looking for something to get the Spider-Man freak in your life, there’s one book more than any other that’s a must have this holiday season!
Face front true believers, and read all about Spider-Man Chronicle after the jump!
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If there’s a wrestling fan in your life, this holiday season there are a ton of great gifts out there. So many that if you give that special someone even just one, you’re guranteed to receive a promo of love if (yes, I’m talking wrestling-speak here). While all the monthly WWE Pay-Per-Views are available if you missed any during the course of the year (Wrestlemania being the biggest and Hell In The Cell in the most recent release), WWE has also put out a strong bunch of Blu-Rays/DVDs based on some of their most popular moments and athletes. Here’s a few recommendation:
CM Punk: Best In The World: this documentary highlights the ups and downs that the biggest breakthrough star of the last few years has faced as he’s climbed to the top of the WWE. Many critics have called this the best documentary WWE has produced since The Rise and Fall of ECW nearly ten years ago. The three-DVD/two-Blu-Ray set includes Punk’s most memorable matches and promos and is essential viewing for all fans.
Find out what else is on our WWE must-have list after the jump!
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