Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/10/17 -- Vol. 36, No. 19, Whole Number 1988

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
All material is the opinion of the author and is copyrighted by the
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        Correction (THE GHOST IN THE SHELL)
        Philcon Convention Reports
        End of Year 2017 Space Development Preview (comments
                by Dale Skran)
        Bell Labs (HO) Science Fiction Club News (comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        DAGUERREOTYPE (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        LET IT FALL: 1982-1992 (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Motives and BLADE RUNNER 2049 (letter of comment
                by Andre Kuzniarek)
        1987, BLADE RUNNER 2049, THE GHOST IN THE SHELL, and Guns
                (letter of comment by John Purcell)
        Ethnicity in Anime (letter of comment by Kevin R)
        This Week's Reading (MICRO) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)



Dale Skran reviewed THE GHOST IN THE SHELL in the 10/03/17 issue,
not THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE (as I mis-typed the header.)  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Philcon Convention Reports

I have recently sent a couple of Philcon con reports to FANAC:



TOPIC: End of Year 2017 Space Development Preview (comments by Dale

Dale Skran's article on what is coming in space development can be
found at:


TOPIC: Bell Labs (HO) Science Fiction Club News (comments by Evelyn
C. Leeper)

According to the Asbury Park Press, the Holmdel (NJ) Public Library
is moving into Bell Works from its present location in the basement
of the Holmdel City Hall.  When the Science Fiction Club at Bell
Labs in Holmdel disbanded in 2001, its book collection, numbering
about a thousand books, was donated to the Holmdel Public Library.
The paperbacks were mostly sold through the Friends of the Library,
but the hardcover books were added to the library's collection.

And now they're coming home.

See  for details on the
Library move.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

This month marks the 60th anniversary of an experiment by American
International pictures.  AIP almost exclusively made B-pictures and
let distributors pick them up (cheap) then and show them with an A-
picture.  The makers of the A-picture would get a much bigger chunk
of the box-office gross.  AIP wanted the whole pie.  They made
mostly horrific movies and they played best to a teenage audience.
They would make films that specifically targeted the teen audience
and run two as a double feature.  And they would run them around
Thanksgiving for the holiday rush.  The films they ran were I WAS A
TEENAGE WEREWOLF shown as a double feature with I WAS A TEENAGE

The quintessential AIP film of the 1950s was I WAS A TEENAGE
WEREWOLF.  It was a major marketing victory for the company.  The
title is a subtle joke making it sound like a contemporary
confession magazine story.  If that was intended, it is one of the
few subtle touches of what has to be seen as a weak film.  It was
paired in the theaters with the still weaker follow-up, the quickly
cobbled self-imitation I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN.  In both films
the real villain is a scientist played by Whit Bissell.  In fact
the latter film was not even AIP's idea but the suggestion of
distributors.  The release plan was an experiment to see if a B-
film double feature would draw as much of an audience as an A-Film
and B-Film double feature.  The pair played in some first-class
venues Thanksgiving of 1957 as a lesson to the major film producers
to keep their prices down so to productions like AIP made according
to AIP executive Samuel Arkoff.

Following the B-film double release did not really catch on but the
experiment did show that there was a strong market for teen films.
Films made for cable, the modern equivalent of the old B-film today
aim for a younger audience.

I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF was a melding of the juvenile delinquent and
horror genres.  This film was then and has since been taken as a
profound look at juvenile delinquency by some critics who should
know better.  In fact, I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF shows little or no
understanding of juvenile delinquency.  Werewolves had little to do
with juvenile delinquency.  The story centers on an otherwise meek
boy whose problem is that he flies into uncontrollable rages when
he is startled.  This makes him prey for a scientist who is
supposedly giving him psychological help, but is actually
controlling his occasionally regressions to his prehistoric fore-
bearers, who perhaps were part wolf.  This premise is, of course,
not so much scientifically dubious as it is purely hokum, partly
hooey, and mostly poppycock.

A third film was spawned from I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, entitled
HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER.  It is a film that manages to use the
teenage werewolf and Frankenstein while still escaping being in the
fantasy genre.  It is set at the American International Studios.
In this film the makeup man who created these two monsters drugs
the actors to kill at his command in monster makeup.  Of the three
FRANKENSTEIN was made very much as a rush job and really looks it.
Probably what made this film as popular at the time as it was its
focus on teens as the main characters.  It was a younger audience
who were the box-office mainstay of science fiction films, but the
majority gave them adults as characters with whom to identify.  The
science fiction films that had teenage leads like Steve McQueen of
The Blob often did much better.  This became an unfortunate trend
in films decades later, but here it was still fresh.

Michael Landon, who plays the teenage werewolf went on to become a
minor icon on television playing Little Joe on "Bonanza" and later
the father on "Little House on the Prairie."  Also notable is Guy
Williams in a minor role as one of the police.  His good looks
would soon win him the title role in a Walt Disney TV-series
"Zorro" and later as the father in "Lost in Space."  A nice
surprise is the presence of Vladimir Sokolov as the Romanian Pepi.
Sokolov generally had small roles in good films like THE

The teenage werewolf is not a totally ugly dog.  Cinematographer
Joseph LaShelle whose work is generally uninspiring manages to make
some creative touches in the attack scenes, using first a
subjective hand-held camera and an upside-down camera in the
gymnasium attack.  Some of the feel of film noir is created on
Tony's return to the Rockdale where the street and ever a stranger
seems to be threatening.  In a clever way the film uses other
horror films.  Brandon's reason for regressing Tony is to somehow
save the world.  How will it do that?  Well this film does not say,
but you can use one of the reasons from another film like THE

Gene Fowler JR's first directorial outing is uneven at best.  The
party sequence is at best lame with failed humor.  The day-for-
night photography is unconvincing. The story is all about Tony's
rage, but we never find out why Tony has such rage.  We are told
that he grew up without a mother, but surely that does not cover
it.  Pepi recognizes the signs of a werewolf attack from being from
Romania, but the werewolf in this film is really a regressed
person.  Who in Romania is regressing people?  Last but not least
the werewolf makeup is garish and exaggerated.

This is weak fare, as one would expect from American International
Pictures.  It is a film that got lucky and had far more impact than
it deserved.

[A modified version of this column has appeared on my hard drive
for me to figure out what to do with it.]



TOPIC: DAGUERREOTYPE (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a writer and director almost unknown in
the United States, is superb at creating an atmosphere of dread and
suspense as he did with PULSE.  This film is a cut below that film.
A famous fashion photographer takes daguerreotype pictures of his
daughter in memory of his dead wife.  His new photographic
assistant has his own ideas that will stir things up.  Rating:
+1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

I just do not know what happened to talented film director Kiyoshi
Kurosawa.  He had made a small handful of sublimely creepy horror
films, but after then he seems to have decided to just avoid that
style of the horror genre.  Either that or his films stopped coming
to the United States.  His CURE (1997) was a police procedural
involving a man who could just brush against someone in the street
and that innocent person immediately became an unstoppable killer.
His PULSE (2001) involved hell filling up and the damned returning
to Earth.  His SEANCE (2000) was a remake of the film SEANCE ON A
WET AFTERNOON with supernatural implications the original film did
not have.  Sadly, of his work few films seem to have come to our
shores.  Now in short order two of his films have appeared, but
they are nowhere the quality of PULSE.  DOPPELGANGER (2003) is
rather tedious and DAGUERREOTYPE (2016) is a simple melodrama with
a sadly predictable ending.

Stephane (played by Olivier Gourmet) is a famous fashion
photographer.  His hobby is daguerreotype photography.  He used to
take daguerreotype pictures of his wife, but she died, leaving him
scarred by the loss.  Instead he takes daguerreotype pictures of
his daughter, Marie (Constance Rousseau).  The daguerreotype
process is extremely taxing on the subject who must remain totally
motionless for fifty to seventy minutes while the image is etched
in steel plate.  Stephane turns a blind eye to the pain and
discomfort he is subjecting his daughter to.  He hires a new
assistant to help him, Jean (Tahar Rahim). Jean becomes fixated on
the beautiful Marie.  But Stephane possesses Marie.  And Jean wants
to loosen his grip her.

The pacing is slow and some shots could have been a little more
closely cropped.  The film's 121 minutes could have been cut back a
bit.  But the film is undeniably atmospheric.  The first half of
the film contributes far more atmosphere than plot, but that
reinforces the overall grimness of the circumstances.  This is
Kurosawa's first film to be shot outside of Japan.  The film is in
French and takes place in France.

Kurosawa is a master of subtle silent scares.  He could be the Val
Lewton of Japanese film.  But style without story for it to serve
is incomplete and is a pointless exercise.  If Kurosawa is not
going to meld story and style I can only suggest that he study his
earlier, creepier horror films.  I rate DAGUERREOTYPE a +1 on the -
4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Film Credits:

[Note: Kiyoshi Kurosawa is not related to Akira Kurosawa.]



TOPIC: LET IT FALL: LOS ANGELES 1982-1992 (film review by Mark
R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A single documentary written and directed by John Ridley
covers the entire Rodney King Incident from the decade-long buildup
of anger to his high-speed chase to the riots that lasted for five
days and did an estimated one billion dollars in damage and in
which sixty people died.  The style of the documentary is not
ground-breaking, but it has a flow of witness testimony combined
with footage of the surrounding events.  The slow build-up of
racial resentment increases over a decade of time until the release
of hostility seems inevitable.  The film is seemingly a very
complete look at a decade of increasing racial hostility.  Rating:
+2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Last summer there were several cases of apparently the same story
from different parts of the country.  Police would deal with a
man--usually black--being the victim of police brutality and/or
racism.  And the treatment was met with protests and protests that
"black lives matter."  To one degree or another they all were
repeating the scenario of the Rodney King beating, the Rodney King
Trial, and the Los Angeles race riots known as the Rodney King
riots.  LET IT FALL: LOS ANGELES 1982-1992 documents at length the
story of the Rodney King riot, the trial that led up to the riots,
and the years of racism that led to the Rodney King beatings.

In the 1940s and 1950s the Los Angeles police department enjoyed a
very positive reputation with the public.  It probably was looked
upon as favorably as any police department in the country.  There
was even a radio and later television program, "Dragnet", that was
based on actual police cases and which made a star of Jack Webb as
Sergeant Joe Friday, Badge 714.  But as South Central Los Angeles
filled with greater numbers of ethnic minorities there was
increasing friction among Blacks, Koreans, Hispanics, street-gangs,
and drug dealers.  The police's style dealing with affluent whites
was generally respectful, but their treatment of minorities was
more one of exhibiting power and force.  Police who would be in
South Central LA were trained not only in self-defense but in how
best to restrain offenders with chokeholds, tasers, guns, etc.

On March 3, 1991, King was captured by the California Highway
Patrol after a high-speed chase.  The arresting officers from the
LAPD brutally and horribly beat him.  What the officers had not
counted on was that the beating was filmed on a video camera.  The
video seemed to be incontrovertible proof of savage brutality from
the police.  But there is no criteria of what force is excessive.

The police were put on trial and to the surprise of many the jury
found them to be not guilty. After the famous tape of the beating
is shown, it is hard to interpret the arrest as anything less than
illegally excessive force.  This sparked a race riot of huge
proportion.  More than sixty people lost their lives and the
looting and fires continued for five days.

Much of the anger was taken out against Korean shop-owners who had
done little wrong but whom the rioters identified with their
oppressors.  Writer/director John Ridley's documentary shows the
violence of the riots, the trial that led to the riots, the
incident that led to the trial, and the years of racism that led to
the incident.  It is all told by witnesses to the actual events, on
and off the street.

The Rodney King beating should not have led to the unreasoning riot
that it did.  But if it had not occurred, something worse probably
would have happened elsewhere.  LET IT FALL: LOS ANGELES 1982-1992
stands with last year's O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA and I AM NOT YOUR
NEGRO as a powerful retrospective on the dynamics of United States
race relations.  I rate LET IT FALL a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or
7/10.  The film had a limited theatrical release in April 2017 at
its full length of 144 minutes and a television showing a week
later cut to about 90 minutes.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Motives and BLADE RUNNER 2049 (letter of comment by Andre

In response to Mark's comments on motives in the 11/03/17 issue of
the MT VOID, Andre Kuzniarek writes:

I think you're correct about the Las Vegas shooter's possible
motive, but I would add to that all the attention from the media
garnered by these shootings.  Notoriety is part of going out with a
bang, and I think a phenomenon mostly associated with suicidal men.
If they're going down, they're taking as many as they can with
them, and might as well try to top the charts while they're at it:
"Look at me, I was here!".  It's probably been suggested many times
that mass shootings might be curbed if the identity of the shooter
was kept confidential.  It's perhaps contrary to the principles of
our open society, but when it comes to the First Amendment, we
still curb wantonly dangerous speech.  [-ak]

Mark responds:

Yes, I can see there is a definite attraction to showing the world
that has treated you badly, there is a way to strike back and at
the same time become famous, going out in a blaze of glory.  We
would be better off not reporting who the perpetrator is, but the
Constitution probably does not allow that.  [-mrl]

In response to Mark's comments review of BLADE RUNNER 2049 in the
same issue, Andre Kuzniarek writes:

Regarding "Blade Runner"s, I'm a huge fan of the original movie but
agree it's not as cerebral as its reputation suggests.  It did,
however, come across more like real science fiction than the pulpy
action fantasy that was preceding it, and I enjoyed 2049 precisely
that same way, enhanced by 35 years of simmering since seeing the
original.  The think new movie really complements the original well
and essentially elevates the original by extension.  The
cinematography was gorgeous but while different, and what I saw on
screen really came across as a lived-in possible future, as in the
original.  I was also gripped by synth-based score which harkened
back to Vangelis' without aping it too much.  I have to assume you
were being wry about Sean Young, since the character of Rachel was
a simulacrum generated for the film (extremely meta in relation to
the character).  My understanding is they used a stand-in, and only
credited Young for having borrowed her features.  [-ak]

Mark responds:

The woodenness of her performance and the Joan Crawford shoulders
were probably intentional.  It sounds like over the years her looks
have changed but her voice had not.  They probably used the same
techniques as were used for ROGUE ONE, but in that case the wooden
performance was more of a contrast with his normal acting.  [-mrl]


(letter of comment by John Purcell)

In response to the 11/03/17 issue, whole number #1987, of
the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

Hey, you know the year 1987 was a pretty good year for me.  Let's
see if the same number results in a pretty good issue of MT VOID.

In response to Mark's review of BLADE RUNNER 2049 and Dale Skran's
review of THE GHOST IN THE SHELL in the same issue, John writes:

Interesting that this issue reviews two movies I have yet to see:
interested in seeing both of them, the big question is, "Do I want
to?"  I have to admit that I am quite curious to see how BLADE
RUNNER 2049 works compared to its predecessor, and I also have to
admit that the only reason I want to see THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE
is because all that Scarlett Johansson seems to wear in this movie
is skin tight leotards, if even that.  Oh, all right, the special
effects look really good, too, but I think I can tell why this one
tanked just by watching the trailer.  It looks pretty, but that's
about it.  [-jp]

John also writes:

With that silly paragraph out of the way, onto a serious topic.
Just yesterday, a mere three hours away from our home, another mass
shooting happened, this time on a Sunday morning in a church while
parishioners were in service.  The result?  Twenty-six dead,
another twenty wounded, and the shooter was also killed after
crashing his vehicle.  The possible motive for this one may be
simple: the shooter was ex-Navy, dishonorably discharged,
physically abused his wife and child, and god knows what else was
wrong with him.  Seems to me he might have snapped: mental illness,
or simply emotionally overwrought, couldn't handle his life anymore
... who knows?  What really matters now is that more innocent
people have lost their lives, and still--STILL--the NRA-owned and
operated GOP, the Republican party, the party of our alleged
president, refuses to dialog intelligently about doing something
about creating reasonable and enforceable gun ownership laws.  This
really has to stop.  I am sick and tired of every single politician
saying, "Our prayers and thoughts are with these victims and their
families."  Prayers and thoughts are not solving the problem.  This
has gone too far, and I really don't care about motives anymore.
This country needs reasonable and effective gun ownership laws.
Debate all you want about motives: that's fine and dandy.  But do
something about these damned guns.  [-jp]

Mark responds:

Your comment on gun regulation makes common sense and I happen to
believe that a large majority of Americans agree with you.  It is
interesting that I wrote that editorial shortly after the Las Vegas
shooting but being on the road I could not publish until the piece
was no longer timely.  It is a sad commentary that events have made
it timely again.  It is true that knowing the killers' motives
would not help a whole lot, but it is better than getting nothing
positive out of the incident.  Our political system has been
intentionally sabotaged and stymied.  The official reaction is to
treat these murders as if they were natural disasters.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Ethnicity in Anime (letter of comment by Kevin R)

In response to Dale Skran's comments on ethnicity in anime in the
11/03/17 issue of the MT VOID, Kevin R writes:

See this article about the "statelessness" and "lack of ethnicity"
in manga/anime SF, and Japanese standards of beauty v looking


Essentially, there is no ethnicity in futuristic anime. You could
say it is wrong to try and place a character in our current world,
because that goes completely against what anime artists strive
towards.  This is why the characters come in all different shapes,
sizes, and colours.  The colour of a character's hair, eyes, or
skin, is not referring to their ethnicity.  It is referring to a
lack thereof.  Or at least until an ethnic tribe with blue hair and
yellow eyes is discovered.

[/quote] - Why "Ghost in the Shell" Is Not Whitewashing
            Sam Bekemans October 11, 2016

I imagine making characters ethnically ambiguous in anime made
export to Europe and the Americas more profitable, too.  [-kr]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

On our recent trip, we listened to MICRO by Michael Crichton (read
by John Bedford Lloyd) (ISBN 978-0-062-19293-6).  While the basic
story was engaging, there was way too much padding.  For example,
we are introduced to a security chief early on, complete with
description, but when another character first meets him two-thirds
of the way through the book, we get another description.  There are
also long info dumps about creating toxins, crafting weapons, and
so on.

Also, all the characters have very specific (and disparate) skills,
which all turn out to be just what they or their companions need at
some point.  (And often, after they have served their purpose, they
die abruptly.)  As has been noted, this is similar to the James
Bond films, in which the scene with Q delivering the gadgets is the
last scene written, because the gadgets are really determined by
what is needed by the script, not by any precognition by Q.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Medvedenko:  "Why do you always wear black?"
           Masha:  "I am in mourning for my life."
                                     --Anton Chekhov, "The Seagull"