Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Latest HuffPost Blog:New Trio of Hollywood Factoids!

A Trio of Intriguing Factoids From the Sci-Fi/Horror/Mystery Genre! Posted: 05/22/2012 5:11 pm Why was the ending of TV's The Quatermass Xperiment changed for the silver screen? What would be the ultimate destiny of The Incredible Shrinking Man? Was screen credit denied to the stars of several cinematic and TV productions? The fascinating answers to these questions are revealed herein! -In the excellent 1955 British sci-fi flick, The Quatermass Xperiment (aka The Creeping Unknown), an alien bioform inhabiting space (technically a "xeroid") absorbs the bodies of two astronauts and infects a third, Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth), who crashes in London. Over time, as Carroon ingests various forms of life, such as several zoo animals, he grows into a huge amorphous creature. Ultimately, Dr. Bernard Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) zaps him with electricity via high-tension wires as the entity is entwined around a second-floor metal railing at Westminster Abbey and about to expand and multiply. However, this was based on a 1953 six-part BBC series by Nigel Kneale in which Quatermass, at the end, rather than using force, reasoned with the three absorbed astronauts, convincing them to will the creature to die! Director Val Guest rewrote the ending for the film, feeling it needed to be more dramatic. When Victor Carroon's wife (Margis Dean) and the man she hired to pose as an orderly to extricate him from the hospital, Christie (Harold Lang), are standing outside in the rain. you can see his hospital whites clearly getting drenched, but when he walks inside the hospital, he is totally dry! Ruehl Fact: Donlevy essayed the role of Quatermass in the sequel, Quatermass 2 (aka The Enemy From Space) while Andrew Keir handled the role in the next entry, 1968's Quatermass and the Pit (aka Five Million Years To Earth), both first-rate performances. However, the final entry, 1980's Quatermass Conclusion (aka Quatermass) was a major disappointment, where John Mills, a fine actor, played Quatermass lamely without his previous dynamism, focusing mainly on locating his grandson. -In a superbly inspirational ending by Richard Matheson, Grant Williams (as Scott Carey) in the title role of 1959's The Incredible Shrinking Man, after slaying what to him was a titanic spider, comes to accept the fact that he is continuing to shrink to infinitesimal proportions. He dramatically asserts, courtesy of writer Richard Matheson, "To God, there is no zero. I still exist!" However, at some point, sadly, he would diminish to less than the size of an oxygen atom and no longer be able to breathe and exist! Ruehl Fact: William Schallert, who was the 1st doctor to diagnose Scott Carey's condition, appeared in numerous sci-fi and horror productions, such as an evil scientist in 1951's The Man From Planet X and as Commando Cody's assistant in the 1955 TV series, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. -Uncredited roles: Vincent Price, reprising his role from 1940's The Invisible Man Returns, was heard (but, of course, not seen) as the "Invisible Man" in a rowboat with Abbott and Costello at the end of 1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Veteran stuntman Tom Steele played the title role in every chapter of the 1943 serial, The Masked Marvel, but did not receive any screen credit. Kirk Alyn, who starred as Superman in the two 15-chapter serials, Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950) was inexplicably not listed in the credits despite being seen flying at the beginning of each chapter before the credits. The lead actor in 1959's British TV series, The Invisible Man, was never listed, perhaps because more than one actor essayed the role, the best-known being Tim Turner (11 episodes) and Johnny Scripps (9 episodes). And, in the 1961 thriller TV episode, "Portrait Without A Face," John Newland, despite appearing in the crucial opening scene as a morally-bankrupt artist who is killed with an arrow and whose spirit dominates the ensuing story line, was not listed in the credits. Ruehl Fact: John Newland's paranormal TV series, One Step Beyond (1959-61) was initially entitled Alcoa Presents to deceive network executives about the occult nature of the program which might have caused them to reject the series as too controversial A Scene From "One Step Beyond": A Tribute to the REAL Billy Wilder: Follow Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Latest HuffPost Blog:"Realm of Bizarre News"

This Week's 'Realm of Bizarre News' Top 7 -Eek! Mouse terrorism! The owner of Nina's Bella Pizza (Upper Darby, Penn.) planted a bag of live mice in in the bathroom of the rival Verona Pizza! And, he apparently also planted squeakers in a trash can at Uncle Nick's Pizza across the street! Now, we ask, if this is a first in food wars, or merely the first time is has been discovered? -Low-flow toilets sounded like a good ecoconservative concept. But, because they do not provide enough water to push through waste, there is a stinking build-up of sludge in toilets in San Francisco where they are widely used. Now, the cost for de-stinking the system will run $14 milliion (not to mention the $100 million squandered on setting up the low-flow systems). -"Cover your heads! Cover your heads!" That has been the repeated recent cry at the Regent Arcade in Cheltenham, England where two-foot-long seagulls have been viciously dive bombing shoppers! Two levels of the popular mall have been shut down over fears that one of the birds might injure or even kill a human, especially a small child. Incredibly, as the attacks have persisted, management is seriously considering enlisting hawks, yes, hawks to drive away the gulls! (Trivia question: What is the technical term for a group of seagulls? Answer below.) -Parapsychologists have long been intrigued by celebrated composer Fredric Chopin's repeated sightings of phantoms. On one memorable occasion, he abruptly left the stage in the middle of a concert, claiming that he had observed hideous monsters emerging from the piano! However, in a new report published in the journal Medical Humanities, the authors suggest that Chopin was actually suffering hallucinations engendered by temporal lobe epilepsy rather than envisioning ultradimensional entities. For the record, he died at just age 39 from chronic lung disease, possibly cystic fibrosis. -Eerie! One of the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, Australia has started glowing bright blue! Indeed, those partaking of an evening swim in its waters have emerged with a striking luminescent blue coloration! The root cause is a native bacteria, Noctiluca Scintillans, which generates a natural bioluminescence. Apparently, it is currently multiplying at an unprecedented rate, causing the phenomenon, which, fortunately, is both visually engaging and completely harmless. -Candidate for the "Doofus of the Week Award": The owner of an 11-unit apartment building in West Lebanon, NH, was endeavoring to thaw out frozen pipes in the basement using, of all things, a blazing torch! As you guessed, he managed to set the structure on fire: Four apartments were demolished, two others severely damaged, and the reaming five experienced major smoke and water damage. However, it was never reported as to whether or not the pipes were thawed out! -During his reign, Genghis Khan fostered global cooling and a successor, Janibeg, actually triggered Europe 's Little Ice Age. Those are the startling conclusions of climatological experts. According to Dr.Julia Pomerantz of the Carnegie Institute's Department of Global Ecology, Genghis Khan was responsible for the deaths of up to 40 million individuals throughout Asia and Eastern Europe in the early 1200s, which resulted in significant fewer people tilling the fields. This, in turn, promoted the growth of trees which drew down the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air, resulting in a pronounced cooling trend. Then, according to other experts, during the Mongol siege of the western fort at Kaffa in the Crimean Peninsula, which served as headquarters for Italian traders, especially from Genoa, the attacking soldiers began dying of bubonic plague. Their leader, Janibeg, realized that he would have to retreat, but came up with the brilliant stratagem of catapulting the bodies of the dead over the fort's walls in the first documented case of bioterrorism. The Europeans contracted the disease and carried it back to Europe with them, where it ultimately became the notorious Black Death, killing anywhere from 25 to 40 million people. The survivors abandoned farms and moved into cities, allowing for an expansive growth of trees, culminating in the Little Ice Age that lasted from approximately 1500 to 1800. While Janibeg might conceivably have realized that he had started a European plague, he undoubtedly had no idea that he had fostered an ice age! (Trivia answer: A group of seagulls is a "colony.")