AH! The Dark Crystal is on TV!! I haven’t seen this movie since I was 8 [not counting the random midnight movie a year ago, and that was a really decayed copy]. It’s still a bit disturbing to me even know. I think it’s the only Henson movie that is truly serious and dark, though it has a happy ending [but they all do].
Who remembers this movie, and what’s your favorite Henson movie?
The Dark Crystal is truely a cool movie, but my absolute favorite Henson movie is Labyrinth. Sir Didemus (sp), the fox looking knight that guards the bridge over the Bog of Eternal Stench being my favorite of the non human cast. David Bowie as the Goblin King… rowl.
It’s Didymus, I believe. And I have to agree – Labyrinth is my favorite of the two non-Muppet Henson films. Of the Muppet ones, well – it’s a hard choice, but it’s between The Muppet Movie and Muppet Christmas Carol.
Incidentally, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal are both available on DVD, with some neat extras on both. The behind-the-scenes footage and the “making-of” documentaries on both are fascinating, and for me, worth the price of the DVD.
And for those Dark Crystal fans, there are plans for collectible dolls based on the characters. That I know of, there will be Jen and Kira dolls (12 inches high) plus a Skeksis (24 inches). There’s a couple more, but I can’t think which ones, at the moment.
When I posted last night I had just watched Labyrinth so it was fresh in mind and I completely forgot about Muppet Treasure Island! That’s the one I have the soundtrack for! Loved that one. (even if I did expect Tim Curry’s Long John Silver to have fishnets and a corset under his captain’s coat)
I remember two Muppet TV movies from a quarter century or more ago:
One was a Christmas movie, with Art Carney as Santa Claus (sound familiar???). It seemed as though someone was trying to mess up Christmas, and Carney saved the day. Sort like “How Ed Norton Saved Christmas.”
Another was a Cinderella-type movie with one of the live characters who spoke in Spoonerisms. One of the important lines was “Bake the hall in the candle of her brain,” which was supposed to be “Break the ball in the handle of her cane.” There was also a “Sir Robin, the Brave,” who was changed into a frog (not Kermit, though), by the evil queen with the magic ball/cane. Oh, and another of the Spoonerisms was the girl kept saying that someone wants to “kwee the bean,” which was supposed to be “be the queen.”
Those are locked away in someone’s vault collecting dust and probably deteriorating. . .
It’s a toss-up for me, between Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. I remember the first time I saw TDC, and wondering just whether or not Jem & Kira were actually puppets.
My favorite Muppet movie right now is Muppets from Space. The soundtrack is amazing. It’s not originals–it’s all 70’s funk. The intro is the most incredible piece of Muppet choreography I’ve ever seen!
Here in Flint, the Sloan Museum currently has a Muppet display, called “The Magic of Jim Henson.” I took the kids & saw it last weekend. It’s great. Not large, really, but a lot of interesting stuff. The first thing you see is Big Bird. A real Big Bird, sitting right by the door. Big Bird is big. Really, really big.
And they’ve got Aughra (sp?) and that big mechanical bug from TDC. Sweeeeeeeet!
That would be The Great Santa Claus Switch. I’m not clear on the plot, but Art Carney played (I believe) a rather bumbling character. He may have started out evil and had a change of heart, but I’m not clear on that. At any rate, it marked the first appearance of the puppet that would become Gonzo. He popped out of a Cigar Box, and therefore was known as “Cigar-Box Frackle” (the Frackles were all the monsters in the show – not to be confused with “Fraggles”.).
This one is The Frog Prince. Sir Robin, the Brave was the character that went on to become Kermit’s nephew Robin. Kermit narrated. This is from circa 1970, I believe.
It’s by no means collecting dust – in fact, The Frog Prince is available on video. I picked up a copy at a Family Dollar store a couple of years ago, and can probably be ordered online if you’d like to see it. (Muppet Central might be a good place to start if you want somebody to point you to tapes of either of those specials you mentioned.
Isn’t there another Christmas movie from the late 70’s or early 80’s with Art Carney as Santa? Something about an oil company doing blasting up in the Arctic Circle and the shockwaves threatened to destroy Santa’s workshop/factory. Isn’t it “The Night They Saved Christmas” or something like that? I recall watching it as a little kid. end hijack
Persephone, I’m glad you saw the exhibit at the Sloan. I was going to mention it. Fortunately I took my three young boys with me as a cover, and hopefully I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself. Great exhibit for a Muppet lover from waaaayyy back. Yeah, Big Bird IS big - my 3 yr old didn’t want to go in. We convinced him it wasn’t going to reach down and swallow him whole – gladly the huge bug was at the rear of the exhibit and he had already acclamated by then. Then the guy showing off the workshop stuff brought out one of Earl’s feet from “Dinosaurs” and little Sean got to stand in it and take his picture (it’s as big as he is). Needless to say, we had a blast.
For the Muppet fans, I have two coffee table books to highly recommend…Jim Henson: The Works is the best, most complete book on Jim and his creations that there is…followed closely by Sesame Street Unpaved.
And for my money, the opening of Muppet Movie with Kermit sitting alone on the log in the swamp singing “Rainbow Connection” is one of the greatest movie scenes of all time.
I was recently on a big Henson kick. I bought Labrynth not having seen it before…boy, I can see how this was fun for kids, but having seen it for the first time as an adult…I could hardly sit through Bowie’s songs, but I admit, it was fun. I am still a little anxious about seeing The Dark Crystal. Haven’t seen it since I was a kid and I’m wondering if it’ll still hold up. I loved it so much, I’m scared–don’t want to ruin those great childhood impressions.
They’re not movies, but does anyone remember Henson’s “Storyteller” series. It didn’t last long in the States, but what I saw was amazing. I also liked “Witches.”
I don’t know if this is Henson, maybe not, but what about “Return to Oz”? I remember that being rather disturbing.
TDC definitely holds up after all this time. Unlike many “kids” movies, it actually had a decent plot and characters… etc.
I have Return to Oz on tape somewhere, recorded off TV. It’s not Henson, and I can’t recall who did make it. I know some people, a bit older than myself, who don’t like it because it’s dark and scary and bad things happen. These people were raised on the sugar-coated MGM version and never read the actual books, which aren’t saccharine like the movie. I remember being very freaked out by the deadly desert and the Wheelers the first time i saw it.
Daniel, I saw some of the “Storyteller” videos for sale on Amazon earlier, so they are available. Don’t know about “Witches”. Also, check your video store for some earlier compilations of the Muppet Show skits. We just rented one last week, I think it was called “The Muppet Show – Gonzo’s Weird Stuff” or something like that. There are a half dozen or so tapes, done about fifteen years ago, and all feature clips from the entire Muppet Show series…A lot of fun!
Also, for the kids (yeah, right) check out “Muppet Classic Theater”. Kind of like a Muppets version of “Fractured Fairy Tales”.
Thanks for mentioning the Sloan Museum Muppet exhibit, Persephone. I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise, and now I’ve added something to my spring break itenerary!
As for the movies…Labyrinth is my favorite of the two non-Muppet films. I like Dark Crystal too, but it always striked me as too heavily conceptual. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I have to be in the right mood for it. It’s like watching a strange offshoot of Kabuki, especially in the segments with the Skekses.
The Muppet Movie is the once and future king of Muppet productions. The opening sequence with Rainbow Connection will always be one of my favorite movie moments.
I forgot to mention my outrage when my sophomore year film professor refused to accept “Jim Henson” as an acceptable answer to the test question “Name a director who could be considered an auteur.” Hello, you freaked-out Bergman worshiper! Take a look at this:
Needless to say, my professor and I exchanged words, as I’m sure that a picture of Mr. Henson follows that definition in your finer dictionaries. Turns out the twit wanted a director we had studied. Well, why didn’t he say he wanted the easy answer?