THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
October 20, 2016 posted by

Thunderbean Report and Chris Buchman on ‘Grotesqueries’

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The busy weeks here continue, but heck, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir. This last week marked having 30 Flip the Frog shorts scanned out of 38- and they just sparkle. My jaw dropped looking at scans of some of the Flip camera negs this week- they look like they were shot yesterday.

There’s a few other things going on this year still as well…

The special Halloween Rarities set is finished and all going out this week, and several other sets are going out for replication in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to a little break myself from the Thunderbean stuff, sitting down to actually animate a little tonight and tomorrow.

One of my favorite things about doing these sets are the things that show up as you are looking for other things. I promised one of my good friends, a fellow cartoon researcher, that I wouldn’t talk about some of the new stuff, but what I can say is that there’s a whole series of new discoveries that I’m literally squirming to show and talk about.. but we’ll be able to soon enough! My friend really puts me to shame in terms of discovering really cool things – I’m left to just be happy to get to scan them and show them.

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As the year is winding down, I realize that the bigger picture of this year isn’t the things that were finished, but rather the things that have started. The archives, private collectors, rights holders and owners of classic and forgotten animated films are overall very open to their materials being available- and it’s often a matter of figuring out the deal.

Teaching full time of course requires lots of attention, and the juggle here continues.

I realize that Thunderbean needs to expand to be able to do some of the bigger things I’d personally like to do. I think the trick is to be able to produce the sets that the collectors would like – and in order to do so I think you need to be a fan of the material being released. The distribution and the types of material being released need to both expand, and the plans this next year are exciting. There will be feature films on the roster this next year, and, if all goes well, an expansion of staff helping make these things a reality.

The bigger picture is that Thunderbean’s continues its mission in providing a way to make sure many classic films are available widely, and especially to concentrate on material that hasn’t been available. The support of the animation collector community and fans is integral to this mission- so I thank all of you for helping make all these things happen.


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Now… onto a little information from my good friend and collaborator Chris Buchman, on the new disc we’ve been working a little on – so for the rest of this post, I turn it over to Chris —


Yes! It’s no longer a secret. Our revised and expanded special edition of Grotesqueries is in progress with an expected unveiling late August or early September 2017.

It is a massive programme which, because of the demand for Blu-ray, requires revamping from start to finish, from hundreds of unearthly graphics of the merrie-macabre variety; the animated ‘Witch’s Brew’ Prologue and “Ghosts’ High Noon” sequence from the Gilbert & Sullivan opera-comique, “Ruddigore” or “The Witch’s Curse” plus superior prints of some seasoned titles and new additions . . .

Like our DVD, “A Conversation with Walter & Gracie Lantz” “Grotesqueries” is filled with little homages to film printing techniques of ancient times – like reel end ‘cue marks’ to sentimental nods to animators, the Fleischer’s – for example, the Hebraic spelling of ‘Kosher’ and, in the ‘Crypt Tickles’ extra in ‘Grotesqueries’, a slab epitapth clearly inspired by Bob Clampett.

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I didn’t want to do Grotesqueries unless we could include the pin-screen animated classic by Alexander Alexeiff and Clair Parker, Une Nuit Sur le Mont Chauve (1933 ‘Night On Bare Mountain’), and was delighted the late Cecile Starr, granted us permission. Thunderbean’s Steve Stanchfield gave it a new lease on life with his restoration, prompting considerable praise from Cecile.

Modest Mussorgsky, of course, composed “A Night On Bare Mountain” – and it is his music that enhances the surrealism of the 1928 “House Of Usher’ by Webber and Watson . . . unquestionably the best and most effective score for that cinematic illusion.

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The ART GHOULLERY extra highlights many of the Netherworld paintings and sketches of illustrator, Rex Schneider, who created the visual fantasy of Grotesqueries including his portrait of Elizabeth Bathory, legendary Blood Countess, created for one of our Hallowe’en TV Specials (excerpts on our Walter Lantz DVD).

Grotesqueries was created and realized by, and especially for, everybody who truly loves and has fond memories of traditional Hallowe’ens of old . . . when Trick or Treating was safe and the big arms of giant trees never quite caught up to your shoulders . . . and every piece of music on the programme reflects the fun and excitement of those times. No more is this so than in the ‘extra’ . . .

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“MYSTERIOUS MOSE” – concocted by Steve Stanchfield is drawn from dozens of clips from spooktoons of the 1930s, edited to the famous recording by Harry Reser’s Radio All-Stars. The editing is brilliant and reflects a remarkable sense of timing . . . and what and where to punctuate the visuals. The celebrated legends of animated cartoons would be proud of his affectionate testimonial.

I could go on about all the goodies in the revised and expanded special edition of Grotesqueries. . . but that would only spoil the surprises in store.

Meanwhile, Steve has made a kind of Hallowe’en Sampler. I’ve seen it and I’m tickled chartreuse.

Boo!

Chris Buchman.
19 October 2016

Have good week everyone!

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3 Comments

  • Dang, those screenshots look intriguing! Steve, will those be on a future set?

  • I just got back from California last Monday, early morning (I took the redeye), after a two week stay, so I’m incredibly sorry that I missed my chance at the Halloween sampler. Even unrestored cartoons in a collection like that, from Thunderbean Animation, are fantastic and fun. I, of course, look forward to the FLIP cartoons and hearing more about this GROTESQUERIES project and how much classic animation it will include. There are so many classic Halloween cartoons or scary-themed cartoons from animation’s rich history that I thoroughly enjoy–MGM’s “THE OLD HOUSE” and “WHO KILLED WHO?”, to name but a couple. Some might even consider “THE BOOK WORM” and “THE BOOK WORM TURNS” with their elaborate surrealism as well, but I’m probably trodding in all-too-familiar territories, here. There are also the BEANY AND CECIL SHOW entries like “THE INVISIBLE MAN HAS BUTTERFINGERS” and “THE BOO BIRDS” and that “ALVIN SHOW” entry in which Dave Seville and the Chip Munks stay the night in a scary old mansion, only to find that it is indeed haunted; the ghost is, however, frightened in the end after listening to an abandoned recording of one of the Chip Munks’ hit songs! This was a great post, today, Steve and Chris, and I look forward to those projects whenever you can talk about ’em.

  • Ooh, I sure hope I didn’t miss the “Halloween Rarities” DVD! I’m gonna be really mad at myself if I did. (Just ordered it – I forgot last week!) I like Toby, and I don’t want to miss one!

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