A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

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NimoyIn 1977, Leonard Nimoy returned to the small screen as the host of In Search Of…, a now iconic (if a little dated) weekly television series looking at all things paranormal. Through March 1982 and for 152 episodes, Nimoy was once again welcomed into our home every week as we got a chance to find out all we needed to know about such things as the Bermuda Triangle and Bigfoot. However, as popular as that series was, the demands on Nimoy’s time were limited. He continued to work as opportunities arose and in 1978, with the Star Trek revival still a year away, he returned to his sci-fi and horror roots with chilling remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The 1956 original, which is a true classic, was based on the novel The Body Snatchers, written by Jack Finney. It told the tale of seeds drifting through space and landing on Earth. They would replace people with exacts duplicates, leaving the originals to die. The 1978 remake would make alterations to the plot differing from both the original novel and film. While some critics felt the 1956 film clearly capitalized on the fears of Communism, author Jack Finney would claim that was not the case. However, the comparisons are justified, in my opinion. The 1978 remake would concentrate more on the horror elements and, while the basic plotlines are there, it clearly goes into other directions, steering clear of revisiting a by-then outdated “red scare” plot device.Invasion Poster

Our film begins with creatures leaving their dying world and traveling to Earth, where they duplicate the appearance of plants, making it easy for them to enter the homes of their unsuspecting victims. Personally, I think this comes off as much more chilling than the ’56 version (yet, let me say now before I lose my credentials that the ’56 version is one of my personal sci-fi favorites). Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games) is the main star of the film, appearing as health inspector Matthew Bennell. When the boyfriend of co-worker Elizabeth Driscoll (Brooke Adams, Shock Waves) begins acting strange, Bennell suggests he see a psychiatrist friend of his. Enter Mr. Nimoy as Dr. David Kibner. At a party, Dr. Kibner begins to see other people claiming their loved ones aren’t the same. A pattern is developing and they soon discover duplicates, uncovering the insidious plot. The assimilation moves swiftly and Dr. Kibner is quickly duplicated, transitioning from the role of ally to that of an alien enemy bent on the survival of their dying race. The movie never lets up the chill factor, keeping it ramped up right until the iconic final scene.

Invasion NimoyNimoy is merely a supporting character in this film but his role is a pivotal one. We’ve always known him as our beloved Mr. Spock, our intergalactic hero. He was the comforting narrator informing us of the possible existence of ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Here, however, he becomes a member of an alien race with plans to take Earth as their new home, wiping us out at the same time. The scene where Dr. Kibner explains their plot, telling Matthew and Elizabeth that they have helped us by eliminating all emotion, is quite chilling. I couldn’t help but wonder how Mr. Spock would feel about that. A year later, Nimoy would do just that, as Spock would attempt to wipe out all of his human emotions in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I wonder if he saw the comparisons at the time?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a prime example of how to do a remake right. With a stellar script and a great supporting cast that included Jeff Goldblum (The Fly) and Veronica Cartwright (Alien), not to mention a cameo from original star Kevin McCarthy, this surpasses the original on several levels. Unfortunately, this tale would be told two more times with much less impressive results. Most critics loved the movie while only a few, who normally didn’t care for sci-fi- and horror anyway, did not. It comes highly recommended from this humble reviewer. Check out the trailer and this great clip from the film featuring Nimoy before going to Amazon to add it to your collection today.

Next time, I wrap up my tribute to the late and great Leonard Nimoy with a look at Brave New World (1998).Invasion Sutherland

A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy – Baffled! (1973)

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On February 27, at the age of 83, the science fiction community suffered a major loss with the death of Leonard Nimoy. Since 1952 and his role in Zombies of the Stratosphere, Nimoy was a key player in the world of sci-fi and fantasy entertainment. With his death, it’s time now to reflect on career that played a huge role in the childhoods of many, including this monster movie kid.Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy is best known for his role as the Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock on the classic Star Trek. However, he had already entered into the world of the fantastic several times before playing that role in 1964. In 1952s Zombies of the Stratosphere, he played the Martian Narab. Two years later, in 1954, he was an Army sergeant in Them! and then a college professor in The Brain Eaters (1958). Amongst countless other television roles, he entered The Twilight Zone in the episode “A Quality of Mercy” and The Outer Limits twice. In 1964, he first played the Vulcan Spock in the original pilot for a new series called Star Trek, returning to the role again for the second pilot and eventual television series in 1966. From that moment, he was guaranteed a fan following that would never leave his side.

In 1969, after the cancellation of Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy immediately went to work on Mission: Impossible, joining that show in its’ fourth season as Paris. But in 1971, Hollywood was calling and he left TV for the popular western Catlow. However, he quickly returned to the small screen fantastic roles for two guest appearances on Night Gallery. From there, he would star in the first movie of our three-film tribute, Baffled!

Baffled 1Baffled! was a made-for-television movie that was intended to be a pilot for a potential series. Centered on the occult and psychic powers, it was tapping into a very popular genre of the early 1970s. Nimoy stars as race car driver Tom Kovack. In the opening moments, and before the credits even roll, Tom has visions of a mansion and a young girl, which causes him to crash. Surviving the incident relatively unharmed, he is seen on a talk show discussing his experience as Michelle Brent (Susan Hampshire, The Time Tunnel, The Three Lives of Thomasina). Michelle is an expert on the paranormal and believes he has psychic abilities. She meets him but fails to persuade him to go to England and help the people he saw in his visions. However, after another very convincing experience, which left him nearly drowned in salt water in his apartment, Tom tells Michelle he’ll travel to England for some answers.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to actress Andrea Glenn (Vera Miles, Psycho) and her daughter Jennifer (Jewel Blanch), who are on their way to England to meet up with Andrea’s estranged husband. As they and other guests stay in the English countryside, a tale of mystery slowly untwines with twists involving more psychic experiences and the occult. Michelle and Tom slowly become a team against the dark forces, giving a glimpse of what we would have seen had the pilot made it to series. By the end, they have a great chemistry and the door is clearly open for more adventures. Sadly, that never happened.Baffled 2

Why Baffled! never made to series remains a mystery. Apparently, European television passed on it before NBC acquired the rights, ultimately turning it down as well. Perhaps the most logical reason was that a similar idea had already been attempted with The Sixth Sense on ABC. That series, which featured Gary Collins as parapsychologist Dr. Michael Rhodes, ended in December 1972 after two short seasons and 25 episodes. The movie plays a little slow at movie length and would have been better in a more truncated version. But the potential was clearly there and it would have been fun to see Nimoy take his character of Tom Novack to more and exciting adventures. And you just have to love that early 70s Euro music! Sure, there are the usual made-for-TV flaws but, in my opinion, that just adds to the charm of this often forgotten film.

BAFFLED !  1973 ITC TV film with Leonard Nimoy and Susan HampshireBaffled! made the syndicated rounds in the late 70 and early 80s before getting lost in the archives. There was a VHS release but, with it being long out-of-print, Baffled! was often found circulating in the gray market. However, with the January 21 DVD release from Scorpion Entertainment, the movie is now available for a new audience to discover.  Check out the trailer on YouTube and be sure to listen to Vince Rotolo and the gang, who reviewed the flick on episode 325 of the B Movie Cast podcast.

Next time, in part two of our Leonard Nimoy tribute, we take a look at Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)!

A Look Back at Planet Comicon 2015

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This last weekend, I accomplished my first ever 3-day convention run courtesy of Planet Comicon here in Kansas City. I usually only go one day to conventions, with a few two-day visits down south in Tulsa at the much-missed Trek Expo. However, now living in Kansas City and with a stellar guest list, I opted for a three-day pass to this year’s Planet Comicon, along with my friend Joe and my daughter Kayla. Needless to say, it was an awesome but tiring experience.Planet Comicon Logo

On day one, Joe and I arrived about mid-afternoon and, being a Friday, the crowds were smaller but still impressive. I have to say it was a very organized event with a layout that allowed for large crowds to move around without too much bumping into strangers, although that was hard to avoid during the usual crazy Saturday crowds. Honestly, I found that the crowds, while packed almost constantly, were manageable all weekend. This was due in large part to the very well laid out floor in the spacious Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention Center. Day two was the busiest, per usual for being a Saturday, but Sunday was almost as packed thanks to the one-day appearance of Stephen Amell aka Oliver Queen on The CWs Arrow. My goals for the weekend were simple: comics, autographs and panels. And, of course, checking out all of the insane costumes. People watching at a con can be a full-time job!

SolitaryWhile I visited a lot of vendors, several stood out. Above all else, a shout-out to my local comic book store of choice Elite Comics. They had a huge and damn impressive display. Also, highest recommendations to writer CW Cooke.  I met him at last year’s Free State Comicon in Lawrence and I’ve been a big fan ever since. He is currently working with Devil’s Due Entertainment on a stellar series called Solitary. Needless to say, I made several purchases at his table, including the Planet Comicon exclusive #1 of Solitary and a sneak peak at a potential new series called The Guitarist. Check out his Facebook page as this is someone you should be following now. I also want to recommend a cool new series called Squarriors from Devil’s Due. I picked up the first two issues, including a con exclusive for #2, and had both issues signed by writer Ash Maczko and illustrator Ashley Witter. This is an awesome series and I cannot wait for #3, due out in June. Finally, let me thank Craig Klotz for the great deal he gave me on The Inhumans #1. Craig is the man behind www.kcfancon.com and I was told to get ready for Free State Comicon 2015 coming up this September!Squarriors

The Witching Hour 39I did manage to add six more autographs to my ever-growing collection. Since getting my first autograph from Nichelle Nichols in 1992, I have waited in many lines and had a lot of great encounters with my heroes from the small and big screen. This year, I met Scott Wilson and Michael Rooker from The Walking Dead (both very nice, Rooker was just a little Hollywood with his ever-present shades), Karen Gillan from both Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy, Ming Na-Wen (Agent May from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Robbie Ammel (Firestorm on The Flash) and J. August Richards (Deathlok from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). I had hoped to add Stephen Ammel to the list but, alas, his line was way too long and, ultimately, I knew that I was too far back in the line (which, as it turned out, I was right). Let me say that every one of these stars were nice and pleasant, not always a guarantee. J. August Richards was incredible and I’m quite glad that I left Stephen Ammel’s line when I did. There were countless other stars but my financial advisor had to set limits!

The InhumansMy daughter Kayla joined us on Saturday and her goal was to get a photo with both Scott Wilson and Michael Rooker. By 6:15 p.m. Saturday night, that had become a reality. She was behind excited, especially when she said how Michael Rooker commented how pretty she was. It’s those simple and cool moments that make it all worth it. She and my friend Joe also served their roles as my “comic bitch”, holding my wish list as I went through boxes looking for random issues, mostly of The Inhumans and The Defenders. We did manage to get in a few panels, such as the Timey Whimey Puppet Show (has to be seen to be believed, quite funny), the Q&A with Karen Gillan (very funny, except for the awkward arrival of her cousin Caitlin Blackwood) and the Q&A with Stephen Amell (incredibly tired but entertaining).Kayla

The Shadow 8I had hoped to make several other panels but standing in the lines took up some time and, admittedly, I was beyond tired by Sunday. That said, this was an amazing event. My fifth time attending and the bets so far. Having my daughter Kayla there reminded me of previous conventions where she was right by her daddy’s side. Also, this marks the third consecutive year my friend Joe was by my side, which always makes these events that much more fun. Now, what’s next? Well, another huge event is planned for August called Kansas City Comic Con. Is this city big enough for two events in one year? I’ll be there to let you know. Have I mentioned how much I love living in Kansas City?

Next time, the promised and slightly delayed Leonard Nimoy tribute kicks off with a look at his 1973 pilot movie, Baffled!Michael Rooker

The Films of Karloff: The Hope Diamond Mystery (1921)

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“What a labor of love The Hope Diamond Mystery has been and what a treasure it is to have. Thank you so very, very much”
- Sara Karloff

The Films of Boris Karloff 2When you get an endorsement like that from the daughter of Boris Karloff, you know you’ve done something right. Serial Squadron has done what nobody else ever attempted to do before. They have restored and released The Hope Diamond Mystery on DVD. This is an incredibly rare 1921 15-chapter serial with Boris Karloff in his first starring role. The story is full of mystery and suspense, well worth the more than four-hour time commitment it will take you to work through this adventure.

The story was written by May Yohe, formerly Lady Francis Hope, the widow of the last person named Hope to own the legendary Hope Diamond. She even stars as herself in the film as narrator for the tale, which is partially based on fact. Being a chapter serial, one can immediately expect a long adventure full of cliffhangers and intrigue, as well as a little padding from time to time. The story is set both in the then present day 1920s as well as the 16th century, with actors playing dual roles. As the saga of the Hope Diamond is revealed through theft and chase scenes, Boris Karloff initially plays East Indian servant Dakar, keeping an ever watchful eye on the diamond. He is also the High Priest of Sita once the story flashes back, ultimately showing the curse upon anyone who possesses the diamond. The film is a little convoluted at times, as most chapter serials can be, but that doesn’t necessarily take anything away from the overall story. Karloff is part of an amazing cast that also includes Grace Darmond (The Shielding Shadow) as Mary Hilton/Bibi and George Chesebro (The Lost City) as John Gregg/Jean-Baptiste Tavanier. The sets are absolutely amazing, as well they should be considering the reported $100,000 cost to construct them. The film is definitely a lot of fun to watch and well worth having in your personal collection.Hope Diamond Mystery DVD Cover

I do want to commend Serial Squadron for the work put forth in the overall restoration of The Hope Diamond Mystery. According to the Serial Squadron website, they used multiple sources, both 35mm and 16mm, and the end result is impressive. Sure, there are some title cards where the deterioration is clearly visible and there are a lot of scratches seen throughout. However, a lot of work was put into digitally eliminating splices and defects. A lot of time also went into color tinting in an effort to match the original presentation, including a blue appearance for the diamond itself. Considering they do not have the resources many larger companies do, and the fact that this film has been unavailable for some 94 years, the film really does look amazing. Eric Stedman should be commended for his hard work.

Karloff Hope Diamond 1Unfortunately, I wish the same amount of time would have gone into making a more authentic soundtrack. Silent film soundtrack purists will most likely not be pleased with the music presented here. First, the music is not the traditional silent film fare of piano or organ. A variety of styles are used, some of which are very anachronistic and can pull you out of the moment. Personally, I think the choice of an opening theme is horrendous. It sounds like a Nintendo video game from 1990. I like that musician Kevin McLeod tried to go for an East Indian theme but the end result comes off sounding very cheap. At times, other music is more orchestral and fits the scene while we are infuriatingly dealt what sounds like a modern rave mix in other scenes. They are so far from what should be used that it could be laughable were it not so annoying. Ultimately, I was disappointed with the uneven score and recommend viewing it with the sound off. Go with music of your owning choosing and you will probably enjoy it more.

The overall DVD packaging left me with mixed reactions. While I loved the cover, especially the use of blue colors and a great visage of Boris Karloff, the rear cover was really lacking. Honestly, it looked no more professional than something I could have done using outdated software. The fifteen chapters are separated over two DVDs, which works well but, upon opening the case, I was so incredibly disappointed to find that neither disc had a label. No screen printed image, no simple title labeling, nothing. Having seen a recent discussion on Facebook where the owner of Serial Squadron got very defensive about the pricing of their product, I expected more. What I got was a hand written “HDM1” and “HDM2” on the inside of the DVDs. The hand writing with an ink pen was shockingly cheap. I’ve paid far less for bootleg DVDs on eBay that had at least something printed on the DVD. This may seem trivial to some but for me, it makes the finished product seem far less professional and more like a bootleg operation. What I paid was anything but bootleg pricing. The menus were static but easily navigable and acceptable, so I can’t complain about that. There were also no extras of any kind but, considering the age of the product, I was okay with that too. It’s true that they are very open about their product being essentially a “burn on demand” service. However, the packaging was lacking and needs improvement if Serial Squadron products want to have a more professional appearance to match the higher prices.Karloff Hope Diamond 2

Overall, I am very pleased with having this rare Karloff classic in my collection. My complaints on the DVD are annoying but are partially overshadowed by the fun story and shear collectability of this once impossible to find adventure. I would consider buying from Serial Squadron again as long as the price is not too high. Their prices do seem to vary from title to title, which is a little frustrating but there does seem to be an effort in place to correct this. It also appears that their VIP membership is a better option and seems worth looking into. My previous complaints aside, I really do want them to succeed because they are giving us film collectors some wonderful viewing options.

Hope Diamond PosterFor now, check out the promo as well as chapters 8 and 9 to see if this is something you want to add to your collection. I recommend The Hope Diamond Mystery on its rarity alone but the story is also very engaging and well worth the extra time it will take you to watch it. You’re just going to have to be forgiving when it comes to the packaging and very poor musical choices. Concentrate on the film restoration and you’ll be amazed.

A Tod Slaughter Cinematic Retrospective – Part Five

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Late Tod SlaughterIt’s been a few weeks since we talked about Tod Slaughter, so it’s time now for the fifth and final chapter in my retrospective of this little talked about horror film star of the 30s and 40s. Today, we’ll take a look at two more of his films from this time period and the events leading up to his death.

The Crimes of Stephen Hawke (1936) starts off much the same way Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936) did by being set in modern times. However, this film opens at the BBC Radio studios with an odd sequence featuring Flotsam and Jetsam. This duo (Bentley Collingwood Hilliam and Malcom McEachern) were a musical act involving a piano and songs filled with social commentary. What they are doing in this film remains a mystery. I’m sure they were highly recognizable at the time but now, they are all but forgotten and serve no purpose in the story. We then are graced with the presence of Tod Slaughter, who is being interviewed by the radio announcer as he talks about his villainous acts in Murder in the Red Barn (1935) and Sweeney Todd. From there, he begins to describe the details of his next film, which we are watching, and the story then finally begins.

Tod Slaughter plays the killer of the film, Stephen Hawke, and commits his first murder within moments of debuting on screen. He is mapping out a home with obvious plans to rob it. However, he is discovered by a young boy, whom he murders off screen. Hawke is known as “The Spine-Breaker” and is leaving a trail of death throughout Victorian England. In a change of pace from his other films, he is not out to marry a young girl as he is actually a father himself. He is still a money lender, as he often is in other films, but is also a more crazed killer with no real motivation.Crimes of Stephen Hawke 1936

Upon being discovered by an employee, he is forced to kill the man and then leave town. With the dead man’s son hot on his trail, Hawke ultimately returns when, ironically, his own daughter is being forced into marrying an older man after the man discovers Hawke is “The Spine-Breaker”. The movie ends with a rather good climatic rooftop scene and interesting but non-relevant reveal at the end. Our final scene oddly returns to the BBC studio with Tod Slaughter leaving the now-sleeping radio announcer as he chuckles off screen. The Crimes of Stephen Hawke offers a different take on the familiar Tod Slaughter storylines. It is well-worth tracking down and, at less than 70 minutes, is an easy and enjoyable late-night flick.

In 1940, Slaughter was back to his killing and blackmailing ways in Crimes at the Dark House. In the opening moments of the story, Slaughter is a killer who murders Sir Percival Glyde in Australia and decides to assume his identity in order to inherit his England estate. The real Glyde had been gone so long that nobody remembers what he looked like. Once he has acquired the estate, the fake Glyde begins scheming to marry a rich heiress for her money while killing all who suspect he may be an imposter. The story is loosely based on the novel The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and is actually one of Slaughter’s better and more cohesive stories. The usual elements are there but done well enough that they don’t seem too repetitive. Again, at less than 70 minutes long, you can’t go wrong on a rainy Friday night. Like most of his movies, both The Crimes of Stephen Hawke and Crimes at the Dark House are in the public domain, popping up on various DVD sets and YouTube.

Crimes at the Dark House 1940With the arrival of World War II, the British film industry went dark and Slaughter returned to the stage in such horrific roles as Jack the Ripper and Mr. Hyde. Once the war was over, he returned to the screen as Spring-Heeled Jack in The Curse of the Wraydons (1946) and in adaptation of Burke and Hare in The Greed of William Hart (1946). He continued to grace the stage as the film roles decreased, playing opposite a young Peter Cushing in The Gay Invalid as well as various early television appearances. He was still starring in a Maria Marten play when he fell ill and died of coronary thrombosis in 1956 at the age of 70.

Slaughter’s films were quickly forgotten and, most likely, would have remained that way were it not for film historian William K. Everson. Everson introduced many to rare films through his screenings and the Theodore Huff Film Society. Everson’s original film notes are available online and highly recommended reading. As the video generation gave birth to an ever-increasing number of film buffs, Slaughter was eventually rediscovered.

While Tod Slaughter will never be considered an equal to legends like Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi, his melodramatic horror films are certainly worth a visitation from time-to-time. You won’t have to look too hard and the price is certainly right. When the next rainy night leaves you searching for something to watch, do yourself a favor and discover Tod Slaughter.

The Kansas Silent Film Festival is an Event Made-to-Order for Cinema Lovers

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KSFF 19th AnnualFor years, I have been trying to attend the Kansas Silent Film Festival. But there were always family obligations or, when the weekend was free, a winter storm decided to roll through the plains. However, 2015 was different and with now being less than 90 minutes away, I finally had a chance to attend part of this years’ 19th annual event.

The Kansas Silent Film Festival is typically held the last weekend of February and admission is always free. Located on the Washburn University campus in the White Concert Hall in Topeka, KS, a variety of films are presented over two nights and a day in 16mm with some presented digitally. For an old school movie buff like me, I love hearing the sound of a projector or seeing the occasional flipping film strip. It adds some authenticity to the experience. Of course, the real highlight though is the music as it is all live, just as the films were originally intended to be presented.

Marvin Faulwell is an accomplished organist from Lee’s Summit, Missouri and has been a part of this event since the first year. He is a cornerstone of the event and his skills are amazing. He was accompanied by percussionist Bob Keckeisen, assistant director of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. In addition, we were graced with the talents of composer and musician Jeff Rapsis.Harold Lloyd

Jon Mirsalis from California was a special guest for this year’s festivities. A two-time President of the Society for Cinephiles, he has provided feature film prints for the festival for years. Finally attending the event in person, he played piano for several of the films as well as being the Guest of Honor at the KSFF Cinema Dinner Saturday night. Add to all of this, film historian Denise Morrison and many other talented people behind the scenes and you have what was a very professional and fun event.

BK BookWith volunteers greeting my sister Barb and I at the door, we were welcomed into the lobby where some vendor tables were set up. T-shirts, books and even 16mm films were for sale. Of course, I couldn’t walk away without a few purchases, one of which included the very rare 1934 Buster Keaton French film Le Roi des Champs-Elysees. Rare newspapers and books were on display in glass cases with standees of such favorites as Laurel and Hardy strategically positioned though out the lobby. I instantly knew that I was home amongst other fans of the cinema.

Friday’s nights selection of films started off with a short subject called Shine ‘Em Up (1922) starring James Parrott, the younger brother of Charley Chase. I had never heard of Parrott before, so getting a chance to see this was a pleasant surprise and a funny start to a fun evening. The main features of the night were a classic comedy double feature with Harold Lloyd’s Grandma’s Boy (1922) in 16mm and Buster Keaton’s College (1927). I had never seen the Lloyd film and only bits and pieces of College. My sister and I were in full agreement that Grandma’s Boy was a classic and quite hilarious, by far the better of the two feature films. This also supported my personal believe that Harold Lloyd’s films are just as relevant today as they ever were. While I enjoyed College, the film was a bit slow at times and not the best example of Buster’s great comedy. But what a fantastic experience and the live music was amazing.L&H Battle of the Century

On Saturday morning, with a typical late winter snowstorm beginning to hit the area and a pending birthday celebration for my mother, I knew I was going to have cut things a little short. But that didn’t take away from another great morning of comedy classics. We were all in for a special treat with a rare presentation of the first episode of the classic HBO series Hollywood. If you’ve never seen this incredible series, check it out on YouTube. The interviews with silent film stars now long dead are worth it alone. Next up were two short subjects, the first of which was the partially lost Laurel and Hardy gem The Battle of the Century (1928). Then, we went way back to 1916 for Mack Swain’s A Movie Star. Both were funny and a perfect way to start off another day of films.

L&HUnfortunately, that is where I had to bow out but the rest of the eager audience was in store for a fun day of films, highlighted by a presentation of The Birth of a Nation (1915) and subsequent panel discussion featuring K.U. Associate Professor Kevin Willmott and film collector Jon Mirsalis. In the evening, the final film was The Sea Hawk (1924), capping off a tremendous event.

After years of aborted attempts, I can say I finally made it to the Kansas Silent Film Festival. Now, I cannot wait to attend the 20th annual event next year. With the films and live music, combined with an atmosphere of fellow film lovers, it is something everyone should enjoy. I cannot highly recommend this event enough!BK

My Personal Thoughts on Leonard Nimoy

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I just received a text message from a good friend. He asked if I was okay and I had no clue what he was getting at. Then, he informed me that Leonard Nimoy was dead at the age of 83. I had read the news that he had been rushed to the hospital last week and I knew he was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This wasn’t entirely unexpected but it doesn’t take away the feeling that I’ve just been kicked in the gut. Part of my childhood is now gone.LN 1

Having been born in 1967, I missed Star Trek when it was first broadcast. However, one of my earliest memories dates back to late 1970/early 1971, watching the “Who Mourns for Adonais?” episode on a black and white TV in our small living room. I have vivid memories of watching Star Trek on Saturday afternoons and having to leave for Cub Scouts, hoping my dad would finish the episode and tell me how it ended. Or the time I kept sneaking out of my naptime to watch “The Menagerie” on a Sunday afternoon. My first paperback novel was World Without End by Joe Haldeman, which my mom bought for me when I was home sick. I could go on but you get the picture, I was a Trekkie from day one. And anytime the cast was on another TV show, such as Nimoy’s classic series In Search Of…, I was watching.

I met Leonard Nimoy on three different trips down to Trek Expo in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was an incredibly well-run event which finally gave me the opportunity to meet my childhood heroes. I’ll admit, the first time initially wasn’t that great. His Q&A session was mostly just talking about Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. There were rumors he didn’t feel well. He didn’t even glance up when he signed an autograph as the line was incredibly long. But that night, he gave a live performance of Spock vs. Q with John DeLancie. He was much more talkative and open. It was amazing. He returned to Trek Expo two more times, once with William Shatner. On both occasions, he was more relaxed and quite talkative, making sure he connected with everyone. A class act from start to finish.

Nimoy at Trek Expo 2009I never got the opportunity to meet DeForest Kelley before he died but I remember that day like it was yesterday. My wife and I were in Las Vegas and we had just visited Star Trek: The Experience the day before. We made a point to return again that day. I was also lucky in that I met James Doohan during one of his last conventions appearances. So, I’ve come to terms that my childhood heroes are getting older. When I heard last year that Nimoy was ill and had retired from acting and conventions, I knew this day was coming. But I had hoped it wouldn’t be for a while.

Nimoy’s death brings our mortality front and center. My father is the same age and his health has been declining for the last several years. My dad and I have a very strong bond when it comes to Star Trek. We went to the first five Star Trek movies together and, after a long gap, we went to the last two. My dad and I visited the last four Trek Expo events together and I can proudly say my dad was the oldest Trekkie there. Now that Nimoy is gone, it serves as a reminder that I am no longer the young man I once was.

I’ve been slowing working my way through the classic Star Trek episodes over the last several years. I’m ready to start season 3 and I think I will do so this afternoon. I fully expect that there will be hundreds of articles and personal recollections about Leonard Nimoy over the next several days and weeks. For now, let me simply say Live Long and Prosper Mr. Nimoy. The world of sci-fi has lost a legend today and the stars will shine a little dimmer tonight.LN 2