Saturday, July 23, 2011

Grymvald Pedigree - Let's Not Forget the Movies!

Thus far I have mostly discussed the early reading and other types of games in relation to what has influenced my world-building efforts.  What I add now includes influence that began early but really didn't kick in full force until closer to 1980.  I think this is true largely because until that time any movies that I saw were either in the theatre or what could be caught on television whenever such things were scheduled on the very few channels that existed.  Television shows that could have a direct affect on gaming were few and far between.  The VHS recorder and tapes (I'll leave aside any discussion of BetaMax) changed all that, though mostly in regard to movies available.  Of course, I remember the films of my youth, monster movies, the sword-and-sandal movies, and adventure and other fantasy films that could be watched on weekend afternoon and evenings.

Some of the favorite monster movies were shown as part of the Creature Features programming with that great Henry Mancini Experiment in Terror music playing.  Listening to it now, it still gives chills.  Of course there were all of the classics, the various Frankenstein movies, Dracula films, Werewolf and Wolfman movies, anything with "creature" in the title has a good chance of showing, like The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  I even collected the Aurora Models associated with these monsters.  Add in the really big creatures, King Kong, Godzilla, Mothra, and on and on and all the variants, and I probably have similar reference points as many gamers my age or there about.

The sword-and-sandal flicks were more rarely shown, as I recall, but no less enjoyed.  Often the mythological aspects held my attention the most, but even when the fight choreography was sloppy, the swordplay drew me in.  (I just recently re-watched The Colossus of Rhodes, a 1961 Sergio Leone film with Rory Calhoun, the actor whose standing and walking impressed Monty Burns, and I was struck by how intricate the plot was, and by the number of secret doors.)  Any of the Hercules movies, or the knock offs, glued me to my seat.  I especially liked when the strong guy, whether Hercules or some other, faced creatures of great size or strength.  And, yes, I liked the Gladiator movies, Captain Oveur, so quit asking.  I'll set aside comment on the various Sinbad movies and their ilk for a separate article, in part because I think of them independent from this style of film, but also because it will allow me to wax nostalgic most extensively on the contributions of Ray Harryhausen, a film maker and special effects artist whose contributions to my gaming psyche cannot be overestimated.  Don't get me wrong, I love today's CGI and other effects, 3D and all that comes with it, but the Harryhausen stuff so profoundly affected me that I find it hard to believe when I sometimes run across a gamer who is not familiar with him or his work.  Check out my Ray Harryhausen from a Gamer's Perspective essays on the CMG corner of the blog triad.

I'll post more about movies and how they can influence setting in RPGing, and specifically how they infouenced me and my own creations, in future Grymvald Pedigree blog posts.
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