Recorded in late 2015 but unleashed now, saddle up for this rollicking fun podcast episode taking aim at WESTWORLD, Michael Crichton's 1973 futurist thriller, with side trips to discuss what the Damn Dirty Geeks love about 1970s cinema.
The first of our "wild card" podcasts, we had no set guest and no specific topic points to discuss in this episode. Frank, Frank and Scott had just gone to a wonderful screening of Crichton's classic sci-fi/western presented by Taylor White and Creature Features at The Theater at Ace Hotel in Downtown LA, and recorded this episode the following night to capture our enthusiasm for the unique stylings of 1970s American films.
While being a superb representation of cinematic tastes in 1973, WESTWORLD also proved highly influential on science fiction/action films to come amid the burgeoning computer boom in the decade. You'll find strong WESTWORLD influences upon content and visual style in James Cameron's THE TERMINATOR released eleven years later. References to Yul Brynner's relentless, tireless pursuit of Richard Benjamin in WESTWORLD's finale, the robot's heat-vision imaging of his target, and the double-twist ending of the seemingly indestructible robot's demise were all programmed into Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 performance and character by Cameron in his 1984 blockbuster. Crichton was there first, and he dramatized similar science fiction themes and nightmarish scenarios once again in his best-selling novel JURASSIC PARK.
We also cite WESTWORLD as a perfect example of 1970s cinema to hire character actors to play leading roles, typified by Richard Benjamin embodying much more of an "everyman" aspect portraying Peter Martin instead of today's musclebound macho leading men so common today. Yup Brynner proved to be the perfect casting to portray the android Gunslinger in his stoic, commanding physical approach to the role, a trait clearly carried over from his similar appearance 13 years prior in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Via Richard Benjamin's Q&A after the screening, we relate the details of how Brynner invented an inner psychology and evolution of the robotic Gunslinger that subtly informed his menacing performance. The DDG also appreciate Crichton's under appreciated skills as a director of WESTWORLD which, despite its outdated technology on display, holds up very well to contemporary scrutiny over 40 years after its release.
Ultimately, the DDG rhapsodize about the heights of 1970s cinema and our favorite films of the era, including THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3, THE EXORCIST, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, NETWORK, and how their storytelling style is a unique and seemingly lost art in today's blockbuster era. Even the movie posters were better in the 1970s, dammit.
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Year Two of the Damn Dirty Geeks podcast starts off big with our first podcast guest of 2016, director/executive producer/makeup effects creator Greg Nicotero, who joins the DDG for two hours discussing one of our favorite films, Steven Spielberg's thriller JAWS.
In Part 1 of our evening with Greg Nicotero, he shares how seeing JAWS in 1975 prompted many nightmares as well as his earliest aspirations to learn how such movie creatures were made.
Greg also unspools his tale of how his family kept a fiberglass shark on their wall -- a rarity for a Pittsburgh boy who grew up fascinated by the challenge and process of recreating the beast from JAWS.
The DDG also discuss with Greg the crucial differences between Peter Benchley's best-selling novel and Spielberg's more streamlined, simple and terrifying film adaptation that scared audiences right out of the ocean.
Greg gives his own insights into how learning from directors like Spielberg, George Romero and John Frankenheimer aided his own approach to directing episodes of THE WALKING DEAD as well.
Enjoy Part 1 of our podcast fun with Greg Nicotero. Soon we'll publish Part 2 in which Greg talks more about his own Jaws obsession, discusses his early work with George Romero making DAY OF THE DEAD, and more about his directing and makeup effects career.