Tuesday, January 27, 2015

TWICE UPON A TIME on TCM Underground, 1/30 w/THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T

For fans of animation and/or of the obscure, this 'lost' Lucasfilm gem will be shown as part of Turner Classic Movies' TCM Underground series late Saturday night, January 31 - this has had a rabid cult following since it was made over 30 years ago and promptly was buried with only rare clandestine screenings every now and then, and broadcasts on HBO in the 80's and the occasional rare screening like on Cartoon Network.

TUAT was intended as family-friendly entertainment, done in a process ("Lumage" - basically cut-out animation with translucent materials) that gave it a look different than most of the animation that was being done at the time. The dialog was voiced by members of an improvisational comedy group, The Committee, and the result was a sophisticated work that had the wordplay of a Jay Ward cartoon and the look of nothing else at the time.

Of course, kids hated it... well, it certainly went over their heads in test screenings. And a decision to to spice things up with language and some inneundo pretty much doomed this from any kind of release at the time. Although that didn't stop it from gradually accumulating an audience from the chosen few who actually saw it and who got it. (And a split over which version is the 'original' amongst those few.)

I was lucky enough to see this at SFSU in the early 90's when an errant flyer caught my eye - since then, the movie's hard to find. It's on laserdisc, for those who were stubborn enough to keep their players, and was on VHS, but you can expect to pay big sums of cash if you happen to find someone selling a copy.  You can also find it on YouTube, usually the last resort for the obscure and unreleased (and which is the 'adult' version, with some fan-edit tinkering done at the end).  

However, if you've never seen this before, I'd recommend setting the DVR to catch it... those of you with kids, maybe you can watch it with them when they get tired of watching FROZEN for the 5834th time, although kids will probably like the visuals, most of the humor will be over their heads -- that will keep the parents invested, along with the visuals, as most if not all family entertainment should do, instead of just acting as a babysitter for the brats.

I've deliberately avoided story details... after all, you must have some expectations of discovery if you've read this far. If you're the type that needs some incentive, there's plenty of plot descriptions out there as close as your search engine. But here's a fun fact: TWICE UPON A TIME was a nexus of talent - involved in the production were people like Henry Selick (THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, CORALINE), Harley Jessup (Pixar) and a young David Fincher (GONE GIRL, SEVEN) just starting out his career. Also animator Brian Narcelle might be better known as Doolittle from the film DARK STAR.

Also paired with TWICE UPON A TIME is the Dr. Seuss musical THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T, so make sure there's plenty of room on that DVR!

Twice Upon A Time (trailer) from Cinefamily on Vimeo.

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