31 October 2012

All You Need is Love


You will find most of the scariest movie monsters and villains in this video mashup, all strung together by whoispablo. From the Gremlins, Aliens, and Predators to the more down to earth monsters like Norman Bates, they are all here. 

Holding this feast of the frightening together is All You Need is Love by The Beatles.  Somewhere in here, almost guaranteed, you will find your favorite horror movie. The lip synching may not be 100% but this is the result of many a day's hard work. 

Fantastic!

Zombies of Oz: No Place Like Home


If you are like me you must have wondered what happened to Dorothy when she got back from Oz (sequels aside, of course!). Hickory, Hunk and Zeke (aka the cowardly lion, the tin man and the scarecrow) are still there. Yet Dorothy awakens in the barn with the three farm hands visibly scared and no sign of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry anywhere.

You have probably guessed from the title that Dorothy has woken up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (or perhaps an Ozpocalypse?).  In only a short space of time the undead are knocking on the barn door and the four survivors must meet their destiny.

I thoroughly enjoyed this take on the Oz tales by Mai Nakanishi and Christine DeJoy of Vancouver Film School although I can easily see why Oz purists may not immediately take to it! Yet this tells a tale (however alternative) extremely well, with more than just the Dorothy meets the zombies twist too. A bravura piece of filmmaking – is this really a student film?

Halloween Safety Educational Film from 1977


This is a rather sweet educational film about the dangers of trick or treating at Halloween. Although it is only 35 years old it does sometimes seem to present an entirely different world to our own. It was rediscovered recently by Jason Willis who appears in the film himself at 5:26. You can read more about this rediscovery on his blog.

There is some groovy seventies background music but what is most interesting for me here are the costumes that are worn by the kids.  They are almost all home made (in fact in one scene we see mom taking up the hem of the little witch's skirt.  I just wonder how many kids are going to be wearing home made costumes as the trick or treat tonight!

Victorian Undead


As you know, Kuriositas is not exactly a zombie free zone, but our undead videos usually portray contemporary apocalypses. So, it’s great to feature a short movie set in the Victorian era, which is ideally suited to the zombie genre (if you ask us!).  Victorian Undead, by Paravel Films, tells the story of a young woman (played by Amber Coombs who reminded us of a young Kate Blanchett) alone in the woods, when all of a sudden… you will have to watch the movie to find out what happens to her!

We can’t tell you much about Paravel Films, as their website is rather enigmatic to say the least. However, if this is anything to go by, we can only hope that we see and hear more from them in the future!

The Paper Mask


A lot of parents worry on Halloween that if they let their kids go trick or treating that they will knock on the wrong door. Others fret that the candies that their children receive will have been poisoned or razor blades inserted (even though that has been proven to be an urban myth).

However, surely sometimes isn’t it the householder who should worry? You never quite know who is going to knock on your door!

This animated short by Rhid Gatrill, an animator, illustrator and designer based in Vancouver, gives us the other side of the Halloween coin here. So, if there is a knock on your door tonight, however bad the mask – just give them the treat and be done with it!

Werner the Vampyre


If you are familiar with Ann Rice’s novels then you are probably aware that being a vampire does come with issues all its own. For many vampires, being so long lived (if that is the correct way to describe the centuries they may exist) has its burdens and one is that they often fail to move with the times and discover that the era in which they now exist is meaningless to them.  Some vampires find this an almost impossible hurdle to overcome.

So it is with Werner (played wonderfully by Tom Micklem) in this very funny short comedy from Chris Boyle, a director based in London.  Werner (who has more than a little of the Lestat about him) has lived through many ages of man and the twenty first century is something he cannot quite deal with.  However, when he does discover a way to thrive in our electronic era he sets about it with typical vampiric gusto.  Chris Boyle obviously has an in depth knowledge if not a love for the genre he is gently satirising here as Werner the Vampyre is full of undead tropes, (devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members' minds and expectations). Werner the Vampyre not so quietly lampoons a category of film fiction here that has, at any rate, been disappearing up its own, ahem, jugular, for a number of years.

30 October 2012

Frankenstorm Deposits Franken-Creature on Washington DC

It may have turned the city in to a ghost town but Hurricane Sandy seems to be depositing a whole new set of inhabitants on to Washington DC. Flickr photographer Photo Phiend discovered this rather slimy looking specimen (should be at home with the Washington politicos then) on the sidewalk.

He says ‘I'm guessing this is a tadpole or some such, but it could be the advance wave of the attack of the Frankenfish, taking advantage of Frankenstorm to stage their little Franken-uprising. Hard to see here, but there do appear to be teeth in that mouth.’

Shudder. Well, anyone out there know what it is? It looks to our resident crypto-zoologist like a squid of some sort. Any suggestions?

Not to worry you, but extra brownie points for those of you who recognize the film from which the following quote was taken: Look, you fools, you're in danger! Can't you see?! They're after you! They're after all of us! Our wives, our children, everyone! THEY'RE HERE, ALREADY! YOU'RE NEXT!

29 October 2012

Heart


A lot of people have been waiting a long time for Heart to come online and after its round of festival appearances Erick Oh’s latest animation is finally here. The eponymous organ is at the center of the action: discovered discarded but coveted by all who see it.

You can see this animated short as an extended visual metaphor if you will and it allows us to make of it what we want. 

It’s a confident, enigmatic and ferocious piece of animation which was produced at the UCLA Animation Workshop and was made possible in part 'by the generous support of Matt Groening'. 

Alphagames


Freelance animator and editor Evan Seitz has, over the last year, become something of a Mr Alphabet to animation fans.  His creations have so far been on the subject of cinema but now he is spreading out and videogames.  Alphagames goes through the alphabet with a few seconds given over for each game, from A to Z.

I am not going to admit to how many I got right in this visual quiz – it would be far too embarrassing.  My excuse is some of the games are so old I have forgotten what their names are and others are so new that I consider myself too old to play them.  That is a very poor excuse indeed – but how many can you get?

28 October 2012

Elephant Trunk Hill – Guilin’s Legendary Protector

Tramping through the hills around Guilin in China is busy work, so at the end of the day an elephant gets thirsty. There’s nothing like dipping your trunk in to the river to cool off and taking a long, thirst quenching drink. Yet when you’re made of stone you might be there for quite a long time.

Cupidon


Cupid is bored. Just plain bored. Well, wouldn’t you be if all you did all day everyday is shoot people? A moment’s distraction, however, can lead to all sorts of problems as Cupid finds when one of his arrows goes astray.

This joyful animated short is by five ESMA students, Simon Bau, Clémentine Choplain, Marie Ecarlat, Benoît Huguet and Julien Soulage who completed the short as part of their degree studies.

This is a great showcase for the animators involved here, who give their imagination full reign as Cupid rushes through the skies of Paris trying to put right his mistake. Of course, one solution can just as easily lead to another problem…


Whatever Happened to the Back to the Future DeLorean?

Back to the Future, released in 1985 mixed up science fiction, adventure and comedy to become a movie which drew millions to the cinema and is still has a special place in the hearts of many to this day. Perhaps the most iconographic of the movie’s props, the actual time machine was a DeLorean DMC-12. It whisked Marty McFly back to 1955 yet what has happened to the car used in the movie? Where did that go after the movies were complete?

To be honest there were seven used all told, but it is thought that only three of these survive. Spanish website Sigue Al Conejo Blanco has tracked down one of the cars featured in the movie to a Madrid workshop. The site has a whole gallery of the car, which appears in tip top condition.  You can see the rest of the gallery by clicking on any of the pictures above or by clicking here.

26 October 2012

Helvetia’s Dream


If you enjoy being an e-tourist as much as I do then you will adore this video created by Alessandro Della Bella. From the comfort of your own device, take a trip to some of the most beautiful spots in the Swiss Alps – from Arosa to Zermatt, including the world famous mountains Matterhorn and Eiger – all presented as a fantastic time-lapse.

If you think, as I do, that this was created with a particular love and care, then it will be no surprise to learn that Della Bella (isn’t that a great name!?) grew up in arguably one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland – the town of Arosa (which you can see in the video).

Louchébem


Grief can do strange things to a lonely butcher.  A dead lover, a fly and then a flight of fancy all figure large in this marvelous set piece from a group of students from ESMA, Boris Laprade, Fabien Masson, Stephanie Grard and Theo Girettes.

It is yet another example of the wonderful work which comes from the school, world renowned for training in 3D animation and special effects, visual communication design space and photography. I just adore the way this has been executed - almost photo-realistic animation combines in gorgeous black and white, enabling us to take a glimpse in to the soul of a man in an agony of sorrow which, for a moment, is transcended.

If you are finding a little difficulty with the translation of the title of the piece, Louchébem is an argot used by butchers in Paris and Lyon. Words are transformed by moving the first consonant to the end of the word, and the letter l is put at the beginning. In this way, the French for butcher, boucher, is transformed in to louchébem. This way of creating new words is still very much in use in France today (mostly confined to the meat retail business but some of these words do escape in to everyday French too). Oh and the music is from Nabucco by Verdi.

Seed


The year is 2071 and technology has allowed humanity to spread out in to the universe. Planets can be colonized and one of them is named Gaia. Before settlers can arrive the planet must be fully surveyed and its safety proven. An astronaut is sent on this solo mission but what he discovers could bring human life to an end on Gaia.

Directed by Tyson Wade Johnston and starring Justin Zachary (the writing honors going to both) Seed is a tense short film which looks amazing. It was inspired by a number of 60s and 70s movies, including Planet of the Apes, 2001 A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters and it certainly does have the look and feel of those decades. Yet it stands very well in its own right too.

Like much of the best science fiction, Seed allows the viewer to use their imagination to interpret the events as they unfold (and unfold and unfold in this case).

24 October 2012

Lotus Dome – Roosegaarde’s Aluminum Masterpiece

Ever heard of smart flowers? Neither had we until we came across Dutch artist Daan Roosergaarde’s astonishing installation, Lotus Dome. It is almost a close encounter of the third kind – an alien looking cupola, created from hundreds of ultra-light aluminium flowers. When it is approached something magical happens.

23 October 2012

Hughbert


Haunted by his ever-present fear of death, Hughbert soon finds that there is more than just fear haunting his humble home.

This is Mallory Dyer’s first year film made at Cal Arts in 2010. She drew inspiration from Edward Gorey and Edgar Allan Poe for the narrative tone of this film. Hughbert was her first real experience with animating and film making and was quite an experience.

It has been showcased in several film festivals now and the Cal Arts Producer's Show. The chillingly beautiful score was composed by her brother, Jarred McAdams.

21 October 2012

Nightmares Fear Factory – Dread and Terror Caught on Camera

Nightmares Fear Factory has been scaring the brown stuff out of people for over thirty years now – and there’s nothing quite like a good fright, is there? Here is a selection of high speed photographs, taken as visitors to the longest running and scariest haunted house in North America face their fears. Or not as the case may be!

Set in the abandoned Cataract Coffin Factory the frights are so abundant and plentiful that even the coolest cats cling on to each other for dear life (yes, the sight of terrified teenage boys is pretty amusing!).  The Nightmares Fear Factory at Niagara Falls, Canada, boasts that over a hundred thousand people have chickened out of remaining in the place.  This is now officially on my bucket list!

Image Credit Flickr User Smart Destinations

Allergy to Originality


The premise is simple enough. A man goes to a theater to watch a movie but discovers that all of the films are either remakes or sequels. So a conversation starts between him and the ticket seller about the very concept of originality.  This short op-doc (opinionated documentary) draws on a host of sources (well, one, really) to underscore the point that there is, truly, nothing new under the sun.

Created by Seattle based animator, filmmaker and illustrator Drew Christie, see how many well-known images and photographs you can spot in this four minute animated short. Quite a few – and is the guy selling the tickets Henry Spencer from Eraserhead or am I hallucinating?


Everybody Wants to be Unique


All it takes is something small to ruin your commute – and in the case of one guy it’s a pair of red glasses. Until that point red was his color on the platform he had been using for years. All the other daily passengers knew it was his color, respected his choice and avoided it themselves out of that strange courtesy you get between familiar strangers. Not today though, oh no. And once this sort of things start, there can be something of a snowball effect.

This charming short by Killscreen Films (aka filmmaker Andrew Dunstan) is a lot of fun. You may have seen it at a picture house – it was screened across the USA by Cinebarre from April 3 - May 17, 2012. Everybody Want to be Unique proves - again - that the age of the silent comedy is not yet over.

Enter the Dragon: Tribute Title Sequence


Bruce Lee would have been 72 in November (and we have something of a tribute to him coming up then).

In the meantime, here is a tribute title sequence to Enter The Dragon, itself now almost 40 years old, directed by Sky Lee and helped by Steve Hong.

This started as something of a labor of love for Lee, a personal project which started out small and then snowballed.  However, he persevered and we have this marvelous tribute.   For any Bruce Lee fans out there, this is for you!

20 October 2012

Big Tex Burns: Fire Destroys Texan Cultural Icon

It was going to be his 60th birthday but yesterday Big Tex, the 52-foot tall statue was a reduced to a charred metal frame.

Somehow a fire started inside the statue’s structure and within minutes Big Tex’s face, hat and clothing were destroyed.

Although an investigation will take place to determine whether there was any foul play it is widely believed that the fire was started by an electrical fault.

19 October 2012

Typesetter Blues


This is dedicated to any of you who are feeling a little unlucky in love at the moment – it may cheer you up a little to know that Harold, the hero of the animated short above, is probably even more miserable than you.  Schadenfreude aside, this is a sweet but melancholy love story with monsters. Poor Harold, he just doesn’t seem to be a lucky guy at all!

Created by Together in partnership with Varipix, Typesetter Blues also features a voiceover by the legendary Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent. It is the first of what will be a series making up a silly rhyme collection, called Beastly Bards and is very much in the tradition of Edward Lear.  We look forward to seeing the next one!

The Green Ruby Pumpkin


We do have a few treats for you coming up closer to Halloween but we just couldn’t wait to bring you this seasonal offering from Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma. You might not believe this but the whole project was filmed in a living room (you can see the making of here).

As well as the wonderful quality of this short I did enjoy the different takes on some of our favorite fairy tale characters – the trio from The Wizard of Oz particularly - and there's a very pretty Little Red Riding Hood  too.

Yet ultimately they do not prove to be the trio of which our Halloween host should have been wary!

15 October 2012

Jucker Farmart – Pumpkin Season!

It’s a certain of year and for the people of Jucker Farmart in Switzerland that means only one thing – pumpkins!  The farm, located in Seegräben, a municipality in the canton of Zürich, sees the pumpkin harvest as a chance to show off their produce.  Each year they produce some (not so) serious pumpkin related art and this year is no exception.

The subject for each year’s pumpkin exhibition is chosen to represent the zeitgeist of the moment, something which has had a real impact on contemporary popular culture. So, of course, this year’s display is centered on Olympic sports.

Sambatown


A love triangle can be fatal but to which of the three? Somewhere in Latin America lust, love and desire plays out and you just know from the outset that the consequences will be tragic.

Sambatown catches the heat of the day as well as the moment magnificently. 

It was created by Cadu Macedo, a freelance designer and director based in Brazil.

City Rising


This is a collection of timelapses created by Tom Ryaboi.  You would be forgiven for thinking that he had been doing this for quite some time but he only started doing this a year ago.  With City Rising he wanted to bring others up to his perspective, and from here, show them the city as they have never seen it before — where the boundary between earth and sky is unclear and the placid beauty of the city lays spread out below, quietly humming along.

City Rising takes the viewer straight through rush hour traffic to the highest urban peaks and the clouds above it all, all in under four minutes. It is some of the most astonishing footage that you will see this year.

Picture of a Thought


If you thought the network that makes up the internet was complicated, then spare a thought for scientists who study the brain. The 6 billion plus devices that are connected by the internet are dwarfed in comparison to the brain which has ten times the number of neurons.

Slice up a brain in to thousands with a powerful magnetic field and you get fMRI - functional magnetic resonance imaging which allows us to see activity in the brain. You can also measure brain activity with EEG – (Electroencephalography). If you want EEG and fMRI explained a lot better and a lot easier than this, then take a look at this video, produced by Sciencenordic with animation by Per Byhring.

14 October 2012

Prometheus Engineer Steals the Show at New York Comic Con

Regulars at New York Comic Con, the largest pop culture event on the East Coast of the US, are used to people turning up in costume. So used, in fact, that eyelids are rarely batted. This year, however, one gentleman turned up with hardly any clothes on. Wait, they’re used to that, too.

However, this particular costume (if it can be called that) consisted of a few clever prosthetics, lots of makeup and a loincloth. The fact that the gentleman involved had also spent about ten decades in the gym certainly helped give everyone the impression that he was, indeed, one of The Engineers from the Ridley Scott movie Prometheus.

Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Last Journey: Los Angeles, We Have a Problem

It orbited the earth close to five thousand times, traveling over a hundred million miles in the process. Yet for the Space Shuttle Endeavour the journey to its final resting place at the California Science Center proved a rather more laborious expedition. However, the site of a displaced space shuttle in the middle of Los Angeles is not something you see every day.

 Thousands of people turned out to watch the shuttle’s trip. Yet for many the day ended with disappointment as, due to delays, the shuttle failed to materialize at their place on the route at the allotted time.  Although the 12 mile journey from LAX to the California Science Museum started well, glitches, technical and otherwise, made it run hours behind its schedule by the end of the day.

Ring of Leaves

Are the autumn leaves falling where you are? In Boston, Massachusetts this time of year is a riot of color as trees shed their leaves in a myriad shower or red, gold and green. Someone, perhaps on their way to the Gardner Museum, the city’s century old art museum, stopped to create this delightful and spontaneous piece of land art.  A few minutes after their departure, Flickr photographer lastonein came across their transient creation and captured it for posterity.

The Truth About Modern Art?

Flickr photographer Duncan spotted this recently in London’s Brick Lane.  The lane, which has developed in to a magnet both for artists and art lovers alike, is also home to a large part London’s Bangladeshi community. So, if you stare at this and stroke your chin you may appear intelligent and cultured? Perhaps but I think I would give up after a few minutes and visit one of Brick Lane’s famous curry houses instead.

The Face of Peace


This animation was created by Se-Hyung Park for the Korean pavilion at the World Expo in Aichi, Japan, in 2005.  The theme of the event was the wisdom of nature and this short illustrates that where nature has its adversaries (notably us!) then it can often bounce back and recover.

The animation of The Face of Peace used an amalgamation of old-style oriental painting techniques and digital methods which come together beautifully to successfully combine the sensibility of beauty found in the old Korean arts and the new media technologies of contemporary Korean information technology.  The Face of Peace contains some startling and beautiful imagery which serves both as a metaphorical history of the two Koreas as well as a meditation on the natural world.

This Leak


I found this short film, directed by Juanma Carillo and Felix Fernandez challenging but rewarding – even though I am not sure that even after a few viewings I can adequately describe my emotional response to it. That, however, is not so important – it is your own reaction which is important, after all.

There are occasions when a simple discovery can change a life forever and This Leak follows a financial sector worker, in New York City, through his unplanned discovery of how his actions, and those of  others in positions of authority impact on individuals at the bottom of society’s ladder.  In some ways it is en extended visual metaphor, his reactions interpreted through some stunning cinematography and dance choreography.  I found the gold vomitus a particularly compelling image. This is a captivating and enigmatic piece of film-making.

The music is by Rubeck from their 2011 album The Incident.

Sax


I have to admit that I have always had a certain tranquil jealousy towards professional musicians (and by that I mean I am jealous, yes, but far too chilled to get bothered about it – or learn an instrument properly myself!).

Many musicians have the ability to get so wrapped up in their music that the rest of the world is gone and they are off, in their own little universe.  You have to wonder sometimes what’s inside that cosmos of their own creation – and this animated short about a saxophone player by Deen Heezen may well give the rest of us poor instrument-less souls an insight. The music is by the Griffith Hiltz Trio.

If you have some time, do pop over to Deen Heezen’s website.  His static artwork deserves to be seen too - and it just goes to show that the old adage about animation remains true, even in this day and age of digital wizardry: it ain’t gonna be any good unless you can draw.

13 October 2012

The Origin of Creatures


Are you in the mood for something a little bizarre? Then this animated short film by Floris Kaayk may well sate that particular appetite for a while! Set in the future after an apocalyptic event, the world’s cities are decimated.

There are only a handful of survivors (you will get the bad play on words when you watch the movie) and these mutations are struggling to survive.  Their queen needs sunlight to reproduce and must be raised higher if their kind is to survive.  They manage to work together but this collection of human remains lacks one thing – a proper form of communication.

Inspired by the Tower of Babel story, this somewhat perplexing but fascinating short was financially supported by the Netherlands Film Fund.

The Rolling Stones - Doom and Gloom


Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood haven’t been in the studio together for seven years.  So it’s great to see that the new Rolling Stones single, Doom and Gloom, is something of a return to form.  It is probably the best single from the Stones for over twenty years and together with this very cool accompanying video from Trunk Animation which beautifully highlights the song’s acidic lyrics, it shows that there the old rebels can still rock and roll with the best of them.

What I do like about this new single is the fact that it is one which is very aware of the past, acknowledges the present and nods to the future (and the release of another greatest hits album!) while becoming  a timeless slice of pure rhythm and blues in the process.

9 October 2012

Winter Fox


I am quite unashamed to say that this is here just to make you go aaaw – and nothing more.  It is a charming (short) short animated film which tells the story of a lost fox cub.  It being the middle of winter, you can’t help but worry about the little fellah!

This delightful piece was created at Mechanical Apple, an animation studio led by Ari Gibson and Jason Pamment and dedicated to telling great stories filled with memorable emotive characters.

Saloon


Some places still seem quite off limits to the opposite sex and certainly the Indian barbershop seems to be a female-free zone.

Yet this fascinating glimpse in to the sub-continent’s grooming techniques (I was particularly entranced by the eyebrow tidy up you will see) shows that for the men, this zone affords them an opportunity to relax and be themselves.

Shortlisted for the 2011 Virgin Media Shorts Competition, director Tom Pietrasik gives us a colorful, wordless insight in to the lives of people we shall never know.  If you enjoy people watching, this one is for you.


Travel by Feet


You may remember back in January we shared with you the amazing Birdboy which made the Academy Award shortlist. The same team is now developing Travel by Feet, an animated short film directed by Khris Cembe, from a black comedy story co-written with his traveling mate Laura Aguado.

The synopsis is straightforward enough - a night rail journey. A car full of passengers. An undesirable fellow passenger is inside your compartment. What to do when it's not possible neither sleep nor escape?

However, as straightforward as it sounds, the production has run in to a slight hiccup – money – and that’s where you could come in. Take a look at the project description over at Verkami and, if you can, dig deep. If Travel by Feet is half as good as Birdboy it will be awesome!

8 October 2012

Frying Pan Lake – the Biggest Hot Spring in the World

In 1886, Mount Tarawera, near the town of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island erupted.  It was New Zealand’s largest volcanic eruption and it killed over a hundred people. It left behind a massive crater but nature had other plans for the place. Less than 130 years later New Zealand is the proud owner of the largest hot spring in the world.

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