Tuesday, July 15, 2008
A few months ago I was talking to someone on the internet about the death of Alexander Courage.
(Who was Alexander Courage? Well, everyone remembers the theme from ‘Star Trek.’ How many people know who composed that music? People like me know. Alexander Courage composed the theme music from ‘Star Trek.’ And ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.’ And a lot of other cool stuff.)
I know that not because I’m a music buff—although I do like music. I know stuff like that because, as I mentioned in passing once, I’ve always thought it was a good idea to develop and maintain a skill set that would make it possible for me someday to create a complete animated movie all by myself. So, I know a little about drawing. I know a little about lighting and photography. I know a little about performing. I know a little about editing. And I know a little about sound design and music.
Technology makes it possible, nowadays, for one person to put all those kinds of things together and actually make a movie. Not, of course, something of Pixar quality. But something cool. (I’ve got a number of original ideas I’d like to try out, story-wise. But even though I’d try to make my first projects as commercial as possible, in the back of my mind I’d be thinking of them as training exercises, preparing me to someday make an animated film called, ‘Ophelia and Hamlet.’ I’d tell that story right . . .)
But, anyway, not long ago I was talking on the ’net about Alexander Courage dying and the person I was talking to [laughed] and said that he was getting worried about Vic Mizzy.
Now I generally figure people like me are supposed to at least recognize names when I hear them, but I didn’t remember ever even hearing the name Vic Mizzy before. So I checked into it. And—damn it!—Vic Mizzy is a very cool guy that I should have known all about.
So I’m giving him his own post here on IK!
First of all, Vic Mizzy is a composer who wrote the theme songs for famous TV shows like ‘Green Acres’ and ‘The Addams Family.’ Of course, in my world, that is more than enough right there to make him worthy of a post. But Vic Mizzy also did something very, very special:
Vic Mizzy wrote the music for my favorite haunted house movie of all time: “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken”
I’ve seen my share of good haunted house movies. Kubrick’s ‘The Shining.’ ‘The Legend of Hell House,’ from Matheson’s novel and script. Robert Wise’s ‘The Haunting.’
Those are all great films that have amazing, memorable performances and scenes.
But I wouldn’t really describe them as ‘fun’ movies.
‘The Ghost and Mr. Chicken’ is a very fun movie and, more than just being fun, it strikes me as a kind of ‘complete’ movie. It has memorable performances—a good villain, a good love interest, and, of course, Don Knotts as the bumbling ‘hero.’ It has memorable visuals. And the music is creepy, entertaining and memorable.
‘The Legend of Hell House’ is probably my favorite ‘serious’ haunted house movie—I’ll always remember the great Roddy McDowall’s character being asked how his tortured involvement with the haunted house had ended and he simply looked over and said something like, “If it had ended, we wouldn’t be here now.” But the movie had such a lame ending that it kind of spoils the earlier thrills once you know how trivial the ‘big’ payoff will be.
‘The Ghost and Mr. Chicken’ works all the way through—It doesn’t set out to be more than an entertaining bit of cinema but it succeeds at that amazingly well.
And, with the organ music being so pivotal to the story and the story telling, Vic Mizzy’s work plays a big part in creating the movie experience.
Vic Mizzy. Very cool guy.