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'Sci-Fi Boys' Recall Classic Creatures

22 Mar, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

If “Kong is King,” the world's most famous gorilla has earned and retained that throne thanks to unwavering worship from his most voracious fans — especially fans-turned- filmmakers like “the Sci-Fi Boys.”

Alongside the release of Peter Jackson's King Kong March 28 comes the documentary The Sci-Fi Boys, both from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The documentary will be available exclusively at Best Buy and features interviews with some of the genre's greatest directors and creature-makers like Rick Baker, Steve Johnson, Dennis Muren, Roger Corman, William Malone, John Landis, Ray Bradbury, Don Glut and others.

The Best Buy exclusive will be for an as-yet-undetermined set period of time, according to USHE.

In the film, these “Sci-Fi Boys” talk about their great passion for the genre and geek out over their reverence for the greats who inspired them, like Ray Harryhausen and George Pal.

The doc includes priceless footage from some of these filmmakers in their earliest days, creating their own stop-motion effects in backyards and garages as kids.

There's a thread that runs through each “boys” story, a tendril of inspiration that traces back to the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, founded by Forrest Ackerman — the man who coined the moniker “sci-fi.”

Ackerman, now a spry 89 years old and still sharp as a tack, teamed up with a contingent of his “Sci-Fi Boys,” including self-avowed Sci-Fi Boy and director of the eponymous film, Paul Davids, to talk about he film that celebrates them and the creature who really started it all — King Kong.

Ackerman was 15 years old when he attended the premiere of the original Kong at Grauman's Chinese Theater in 1933.

He started his magazine in the 1950s and it is credited as the first venue for amateur and up-and-coming filmmakers, for directors, makeup artists and special-effects artists to have a voice. He's seen every creature you can imagine still follows the genre devotedly and said he loved how Jackson's version of Kong holds up to the original.

“Unfortunately, in between, there was ‘King Wrong,’ he joked, referring to the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis-produced Kong remake. “Imagine making King Kong with no dinosaurs!” Ackerman exclaimed. “That would be like making a movie about Frank Sinatra, but with no singing.”

Rick Baker worked on the 1976 version of the monster classic, even wearing the Kong suit for filming. In Jackson's version, Baker and the director teamed up on screen to fly the plane that brings Kong down.

“I thought the other Kong I did was garbage; I thought so at the time, but it was fun running around in a Gorilla suit smashing buildings,” Baker reminisced.

Baker credits Ackerman's fanboy magazine with piquing what became his Academy-Award winning career in creature-building and makeup work (including wins for Ed Wood, Men in Black, The Nutty Professor and How the Grinch Stole Christmas).

“What I really enjoyed about [Sci-Fi Boys] is you see how many of us had that same childhood experience, making our own films, making our own monsters,” he said. “Peter [Jackson] and I became fast friends because of that shared youth,” he said.

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