Friday, June 5, 2009

The unforgettable INVISIBLE MONSTER

So much discussion and fond remembering of the INVISIBLE MONSTER episode keep coming to me via the Quest Documentary.

Even though I am not the creator of the doc, the fact that I had the bright idea to post it on YouTube means I get all the great little comments and memories from what has to be one of the biggest and most loyal fanbases of any TV animation series ever.

I am starting to call them Questies. And count myself among them.

And the comments on YouTube regarding the Top 5 Quest episodes as voted on by fans at the great website, keep pointing out over and over again, The Invisible Monster episode really scared us as kids and stuck in the memory.

I was reading FilmFax this week (one of my favorite magazines devoted to films past and present) and almost jumped out of my socks while reading their article on 3D Movies of the past.

If you love reading about Hollywood films past and present, in meticulous detail from the people who lived the life back then, and worked in those films, pick up a copy of FilmFax, it is truly a one-of-a-kind publication. Here is this month's cover:

The one 3d film the article talked about that really sent me to memories of Jonny Quest, was Jack Arnold's film from Universal in 1953, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE.

Jack Arnold was a talented director, delegated to what back then was thought of as the "B" movie. But for many Quest fans, his films, that include THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, were anything but "B".

Jack Arnold worked for Universal back when 3D had been developed as a way of revitalizing the movie box office which was dwindling as audiences more and more were staying in at night and watching this new thing called "television".

Cinemascope and other platforms made to make movies even more spectacular, to offer movie audiences what TV could not, included what
we can call the 3D era of moviemaking.

Jack Arnold created two memorable 3D films, starting with IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE and followed that up with the timeless CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. The sequel to LAGOON, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE was also shot in 3D but only exhibited that way in limited engagements, as 3D was fading away.

Too many headaches and goofy sunglasses maybe.

This article in FilmFax that covered IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, also had a rare still of the creature that we finally see at the end of the film. This malevolent invader from space.

Now, we all remember the Quest's invisible monster -- Professor Isaiah Norman, experimenting with "energy and mass" to quote Dr. Quest, created something aptly titled "The Invisible Monster".

Quest fans write me and tell me they remember that horrible sound it made and that jelly-like ball with the one evil eye it sports after Jonny has an idea to "paint it" to make it visible.

Lost of discussion among Questies about where this visual of the one-eyed monster came from. Lots of talk about it being based on perhaps the Id Monster from the spectacular FORBIDDEN PLANET.

But I think this article from FilmFax, which featured the fully revealed creature at the end of IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, removes all possible doubt, where the Quest designers at Hanna-Barbera got their idea for the painted invisible monster.

Here is a cell from the episode, moments after the monster is no longer invisible:

And here is the still of the creature in IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE:

Pretty incredible the similarities. I think it's great that the Quest episodes borrowed from all our favorite movies of the time.

IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE would be about ten years before the Quest clan was created by Doug Wildey and the episodes would start being designed by Doug, Alex Toth and some other talented comic book artists of the time.

Whether this is the true origin of our favorite invisible monster, the sound it made and that great piece of pounding music (also used for the Mummy's steps if I recall) that accompanied its footprints in the earth, make it one of those things about Jonny Quest you just never forgot.

Be well and I hope that the parts of the doc are downloading okay. I haven't heard about any problems yet (not that I would be able to solve them necessarily)

I will post little tidbits like this as I come across them. Click on any of the pictures in this blog for a larger version.

Over and out from Palm Key.

(I'm in the small cabana behind the main complex. You really can't see it from this high angle but it's between the warehouse with the Para Power Ray Gun and the Underwater Sea Prober)