10/28/10

Vintage Scares #22: Gerry Anderson

An evening at home

We all know ventriloquist dummies are scary as hell, you don't need me to tell you that.  But I've got to come clean, Gerry Anderson's  "supermarionation" creeped me out a kid..... still does.

No doubt, Gerry was a genius.  UFO, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Supercar, Firball, Stingray.... all freaking brilliant.  Unfortunately for me, they were also freaking scary.  There's something about the way they looked and moved, and those vacant stares...


Gerry Anderson's Joe 90

Particularly troubling was Joe 90, Anderson's last supermarionet TV show.  It was all very surreal - something about a boy and this all-controlling super computer.  It's been a long time since I've seen it - all I have is some old magazines to refresh my memory.

Gerry Anderson's Joe 90

I think a lot of the trouble comes with the odd realism of Anderson's marionetts.  The Muppets never scared me, nor did Davey and Goliath.... they were cartoonish.  Joe 90's marionetts were the most realisticly proportioned of all his shows... inded, it was all too real.

Gerry Anderson's Joe 90

Gerry Anderson's Joe 90

Gerry Anderson's Joe 90

8 comments:

  1. You're talking about the uncanny valley. It never really bothered me with Supermarionation shows but totally creeps me out in Dreamworks and Robert Zemeckis films. You should probably stick to the earlier stuff like Stingray and Thunderbirds; Captain Scarlet is the show where the proportions abruptly get more "realistic" and it's less favored by many viewers for precisely that reason. (Though considering the show is actually about evil alien replicas of humans, it works if it's a little creepy...!)

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  2. Wow. I just read about that uncanny valley principle - fascinating! Epic comment. Learn something new every day.

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  3. The vacant stares through tiny glasses were somehow worse... but when Anderson chose to use real people it all came together. Ah, those UFO women. Be still my heart.

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  4. Being born in the 80s, the only Gerry Anderson show I remember watching as a child is Terrahawks, and I remember it vividly. It used supermacromation, as opposed to supermarionation (sounds like a Nintendo game!) but whatever the difference is it still scared the crap out of me. I think the aforementioned 'uncanny valley' thing is certainly a factor, but also some of the characters in Terrahawks are genuinely terrifying. All of this I say with fondness. I think kids shows SHOULD be scary and I suspect Gerry knew that. Good on you, Gerry.

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  5. The puppets scared you? Gerry Anderson is an iconic figure for all British children who grew up watching his shows. The puppets themselves didn't scare me, but the idea that they were in mortal danger, that puppets got scared and that other puppets cared that their puppet friends could die in a horrible accident was a mind blowing concept. But if anything did freak me out it was the cutaways from the puppets to real hands doing fine manipulation work.

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  6. There are some videos on veoh
    http://www.veoh.com/collection/joe90/watch/v838613XPbaZYwa

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  7. As A kid I lived for the countdown at the start of Thunderbirds, and the musical flourish as the ships were revealed with their pilots. Had a few of them Corgi toys..wish I still did. The absolute fan film was Team America World Police.....America F*** Yeah!!

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  8. Though I understand how it would bother some, I was always impressed with the craft too much for it to be creepy to me, especially Captain Scarlet, which looked almost real at times.

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