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 Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies 
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Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:51 am
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 Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
I mentioned my recent yard sale haul of some old Super-8mm "pre-recorded" home movies on another thread, and didn't want to derail it with further discussion there. Not sure if this is the right section of the forum for this, but I figured it might qualify as a hobby.

So, did anyone out there grow up watching "pre-recorded" Super-8mm movies at home? The old Castle Films condensed versions of monster movies and comedies? I never had a film projector in the house growing up, or knew anyone who did. The first time I saw any Castle Films reels was at a flea market I used to frequent in the late 80s, where they had a short stack of 200' 8mm reels of Abbott & Costello and "Parade of Sports" titles. I was really curious to see these at the time, but the complete lack of a projector (or even an idea of where to get one) kept me from picking them up. Flash forward a decade or so later and the video production company I work for also does film transfers for people, and on occasion an old "pre-record" comes in along with the pile of family home movies of birthdays/Christmas/parades/vacations. Over the years I've seen a condensed (3 minutes, silent with subtitles) version of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, a few Woody Woodpecker cartoons, a silent version of the Beatles first NYC press conference (not even subtitles on that one...?!?), and a few more. Always fun to see those, and it breaks up the monotony a bit.

I finally started picking up a few of these for myself on eBay last year, after being given a 200' (about 7 minute) silent version of HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN by a friend. It's kinda like when you first got a VCR and only had one tape to watch....after a while, you want a little variety. This is even truer of 8mm film, as the time it takes to set up the projector and screen seems hardly justified if you're only going to sit down and watch a 7-minute film. So, I picked up HOUSE OF DRACULA, I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, GHIDORAH THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (I toyed with the idea of back-projecting this in the doorway of an unused storage closet at the April KING KONG VS. GODZILLA screening, but figured it would be too much of a hassle), and REVENGE OF THE CREATURE. All are silent and in black and white, and all but WEREWOLF are easily available on DVD (some I even own), but there's something fun about setting up the projector and screening a bigger-than-my-TV version on the back porch, seeing these films as Monster Kids did back in the 60s and 70s, when your only chance to re-live the thrills of monster movies between sporadic TV airings was via these abridged digests. The boxes the films come in are also a sight to behold, often bearing garish full-color artwork on the cover.

I was content with those few monster reels, but when I stopped at a yard sale recently and my mother-in-law pointed out a box full of film, I got a little giddy. It was a small box full of reels tossed in haphazardly, along with a few of the cardboard boxes the reels came in. Without digging too deeply into it, I notice a few of the boxed looked the same, apparently a multi-reel sound version of the Marx Brothers' A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA. I figured what the heck, I don't own this Marx film in any form, so I'd see what the guy running the sale wanted for the lot of it, as there was no price on the box. He asked me to make him an offer, I offered $20 (not much, but as much as I was willing to chance on a box of unlabelled film), he thought about it, and the deal was done. Once I got the box home I sat down to organize it a bit and see what exactly I bought. I still haven't screened it yet (should be doing so this coming weekend), but it appears that my $20 bought me a full-length sound version of A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA, the full sound Laurel & Hardy short THEM THAR HILLS, three different primo Three Stooges sound shorts, what looks to be a Flash Gordon sound feature, another comedy short (need to look up the title and see who the comedy team in it is), and a reel with two, erm, "adult" shorts (silent, I'm assuming). Not a bad haul at all! I don't think this is going to launch me into 8mm collecting any deeper, as I've now got enough for a long night's viewing if I wanted to watch it all. I still may pick up more monster reels in the future, for the box covers if nothing else.


So, as I asked earlier, did anyone out there grow up with 8mm "pre-records" in their house?




Mark

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Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:29 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Great story Mark. I certainly think that collecting 8mm films would qualify as a hobby. It doesn't sound like you do it on a regular basis or have a never ending thirst for more and more, but I'd still think of it as a hobby. I have bought a few old home movies, and a couple of old projectors (in various states of disrepair) over the past decade or so. I'm not even really clear about the different formats that they had (8mm, Super 8, sound vs. silent...), but I guess you could say I'm a low-level collector as well. I have a great 8mm newsreel-type film in the box of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair (studying and collecting stuff from World's Fairs is another hobby of mine).

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Tue Jun 09, 2009 11:49 am
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
There are ads in the back of Eerie and Creepy magazine I bought back in the late 70's offering those 8mm movies and always thought how cool it would be to own an actual Godzilla film. Up to that point, the best I could hope for was audio recordings from my cassette player.
I also have an ad in Fantastic Films around 1978 offering 12 minute clips on super 8 of Star Wars--black and white silent for about $29 and color with sound for about $49! My how times have changed..


Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:19 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
That reminds me, I forgot to mention that the original price tag was still on one of the reels for that NIGHT IN CASABLANCA feature-length 8mm....$125!





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Tue Jun 09, 2009 1:32 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Wow! What a bargain! How the times have changed. To think that someone paid that amount of money for those reels (or at least probably something close to it), and then probably owned and cherished the movie for x-number of years...only to have it end up as part of a box of old "outdated" film reels that sold for twenty bucks. I'm glad that at least it went to an appreciative new owner.

Beastball, I ran out of time before I could finish my thoughts i nmy last post, but you said very close to what I was planning on saying next! I remember seeing ads for 8mm (I believe) films in many comic books, and also magazines like Boy's Life. It seems like these movies, and the projectors that ran them, may even have been dangled as "prizes" in the ads for stuff you could sell, like Grit. It always seemed like it would be so cool to actually own a copy of your favorite movies (little did we imagine just how DVDs would change the movie fan's world).

It's strange to think about what shape the reel-film industry must have been in when I (we) was (were) a kid in the 70s. There was a time when pretty much all filmed home entertainment (beyond what was available on TV of course) came from movies projected onto screens or walls. Home movies were always filmed on 8mm or 16mm film, in various variations (sound, color, "Super 8"...) until video cameras using videotapes started to appear in the early 80s. And of course people stopped showing much (whether home movies or pre-recorded commercial materials) on those walls and screens when VCRs came out and when cable became widely available. It would seem that those ads from the 70s and early 80s for 8mm films were the very last gasp of a meduim that had been the standard for so long. I guess one could liken it to what has happened to the film camera world since digital has so taken over. There will most likely always be [i]some[i] print film around for diehards and professionals who will still want it, but for the snapshot crowd film is pretty much dead.

My biggest reel-film memories are that, for a number of years while I was growing up, my family would gather at my oldest sister's house on Thanksgiving. After eating, my dad would set up the projector and we'd watch old home movies. After watching a bunch of those he'd put on a short (probably Castle Films) reel of "Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman". The home movies were nice, but to a pre-teen kid the scary movie at the end (even though it didn't have sound) was always the highlight of the evening for me. Pure terror! I don't really recall home movies (or stuff like "Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman" for that matter) being projected at any other times on a regular basis in my family. It was just so much work to pull out the projector and films, set up the screen and actually get the movies to work without damaging them.

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Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:28 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
I think the hassle of film projection vs. the ease of video certainly sped up the 8mm "pre record" demise. Not only could you watch full-length films with the touch of a button, but you also didn't need a dark space to do it.

I'm sure some would think me mad if they saw how excited I got when I discovered that I had a couple of dusty old Stooge shorts in that box, considering the fact that I've been buying the new DVD sets where they look and sound better than ever. There's just something about setting up the screen and projector, threading up the film and dimming the lights that's more fun than popping in a DVD. Except maybe when you invite a half-dozen friends over to watch a new box of films you bought, take the time to wait for the sun to go down, spend 10 minutes setting everything up and getting everyone situated with their chairs and food, and then turn on the projector, only to have the bulb blow. Not that this has happened to me or anything....two weeks ago... Luckily, the bulb in question is still in production (unlike some that we occasionally need to replace at work, which go for $30 and up) and I was able to snag one super-cheap on eBay this week. So, once again friends will assemble this weekend and I'll cross my fingers that everything works.

Oh, and that "mystery short" looks to be a silent Laurel and Hardy film, which should be interesting. I've seen a lot of their talkies (even the ones they did in Spanish), but have yet to see any of their silent era work.




Mark

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Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:53 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Sorry to jump in on this late but remember these?

ImageImage


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Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:05 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Nice!

I have the GHIDRAH 8mm, and that box is a beauty. Love the original and modified art that was done for the old 8mm home editions.





Mark

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Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:29 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
WOW those are cool! Interesting the way Ghidrah was drawn with four legs.
What do they mean by superimposed titles? Were the original movie titles disgarded and new ones used in their place? Or does it mean something entirely different?


Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:00 am
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Basically it just means subtitles, as these were generally silent editions of the films.




Mark

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Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:41 am
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
i love the pics of the boxes. wonder if these are on youtube...

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:31 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
I actually saw a few times on eBay that you can sometimes find a heavy weight card set, that is not only the same dimensions as the boxes were, but have pretty much every cover.... Looked really cool but I haven't gotten around to purchasing it yet. I don't know what you would "search" for... I found it by accident a couple of times.


Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:02 am
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Sounds cool. If you see them again please let us know what to look for Doctor!

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Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:06 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Here's the set of cards mentioned by Dr. Who above, along with a new follow-up series:


http://monsterboxcards.com/Main.htm




Mark

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Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:45 pm
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 Re: Super-8mm Home (Monster) Movies
Wow! That's really cool. A great way to collect the classic 8mm box art without having to find and buy all those old reels. Thanks Mark.

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Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:56 pm
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