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Daleks Invade the Hollywood Theater

on Sun, 03/27/2016 - 14:29

The British science fiction television series Doctor Who premiered on the BBC in November 1963. Although it met with success from the start, it wasn’t until the fifth episode that the show firmly captured the imagination of Great Britain. That installment featured the introduction of the Daleks, a race of cyborg aliens intent on “exterminating” all other creatures in the universe, and led to Dalekmania sweeping the British Isles at roughly the same time that Beatlemania was likewise conquering the United States.

To take advantage of the sudden popularity of the Daleks, Amicus Productions produced two major motion pictures in the mid-1960s featuring the robotic-shell aliens, Dr. Who and the Daleks in 1965 and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. in 1966. The Hollywood Theater in Dormont, meanwhile, celebrated the Fiftieth Anniversary release of the first film in 2015 with a special Doctor Who Party. The event proved to be such a success that a second Doctor Who Celebration is scheduled for Friday, April 1, 2016, featuring a screening of Daleks – Invasion Earth for what is likewise the Fiftieth Anniversary of the film.

Although based on the second season “The Daleks Invasion of Earth” storyline from the television series, Daleks – Invasion Earth differs from the classic BBC television show in the same ways as the first film. On Doctor Who, for instance, the title character is a space and time-traveling humanoid alien who simply goes by the moniker of “The Doctor.” In the two Daleks’ films, however, the Doctor is a human whose last name is literally “Who.” Despite such differences, both Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. are entertaining in their own right, and feature veteran actor Peter Cushing in the title role as he attempts to thwart the evil plans of the Daleks.

Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage

on Sat, 02/27/2016 - 13:54

On September 8, 1966, millions of television viewers across the country embarked on a five years mission “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations,” and, more importantly, “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Five years have now turned into fifty, and the word “man” has been substituted with “no on,” but the words originally spoken by James T. Kirk back in 1966 still ring true for the legion of Star Trek aficionados that has grown exponentially through the decades and continues to believe that space truly is the next frontier.

On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the Pittsburgh Culture Trust pays homage to not only Captain Kirk but all of the generations that have been part of the Star Trek Universe—as well as the fans of the franchise—with a special Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage concert at the Benedum Center. Ever since actor William Shatner first spoke the words “Space: The Final Frontier,” music has been an indelible part of Star Trek, and with the fiftieth anniversary of the original series on the horizon, CineConcerts of Los Angeles, California, has embarked on its own mission of celebrating the music, themes, vision and wonder of Star Trek with performances across the country, including an engagement in Pittsburgh that is just one of many stops that make up the 100-plus city tour.

Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Benefits Children's Hospital

on Tue, 01/19/2016 - 23:08

In 1975, Atari released the home version of its successful arcade game Pong. Although rudimentary by today’s standards, the table-tennis-inspired video game struck a chord with the populace nonetheless, paving the way for Taito’s 1978 shooter game Space Invaders and ushering in the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games in the process as well. By the time the mid-1980s rolled around, the manufacturing of video games was a multi-million dollar industry, with Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and the Super Mario Brothers ruling the arcade and invading the living rooms of American households from the East Coast all the way to the West.

What was once a million dollar industry is now a $74 billion industry, making video games the third largest segment of the US entertainment market. Simple 2D vector graphics have likewise given way to 3D and computer generated imagery that rivals big screen motion pictures. Despite such technological advancements, however, there is still an affinity for the “old school” style of the 1980s. 8Bit Evolution is a major proponent of the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games in the Pittsburgh area, and on Saturday, January 23th, they will be hosting the second annual Pittsburgh Retro Gaming Convention from 10am until 3pm at the Xtaza Nightclub in the Strip District. Tickets are $15 each, with the proceeds benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

woManos: The Hands of Fate

on Tue, 10/20/2015 - 13:04

Manos: The Hands of Fate
It all started when Godzilla visited the Steel City in 1876. Film school graduate Matthew Buchholz had been researching old photographs and illustrations of Pittsburgh when the idea of Photoshopping an image of the “King of Monsters,” into a Pittsburgh skyline popped into his head. The experiment led to a series of similar prints produced by Buchholz that featured other science fiction elements transposed onto photos that offered an “alternate history,” in which zombies, aliens and robots played a significant role in the evolution of the United States.

The success of the endeavor, both in the local Pittsburgh region and nationally across the country, has enabled Matthew Buchholz to branch out even further. Over the summer of 2014, for instance, Buchholz crafted three folios containing the scripts of legendary science fiction films whose popularity is primarily based on how “bad,” the movies were, and even organized a staged reading for one of them—Pan 9 from Outer Space—at the Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville. On October 23, 2015, meanwhile, Matthew Buchholz will partner with the Arcade Comedy Theater on Liberty Avenue for yet another staged reading of a classic “bad film, ,” this time Manos: The Hands of Fate.

Like with any of Matthew Buchholz’s projects, this particular staged reading is filled with its fair share of twists and gimmicks. The cast, for instance, is all-female, and includes local actors Amanda Waltz, Mindy Cooper, Stacey Babyak, Tamara Siegert and Sarah Wojdylak. The actual reading, meanwhile, will be complimented by an improv performance in the style of a 1940s movie serial. East End Brewing will introduce its specially branded Manos: The Ale of Fate beer at the event, and the entire evening itself will be emceed by a robot.

The ToonSeum Celebrates Pittsburgh Characters

on Sun, 04/05/2015 - 00:00

Pittsburgh may have been built on steel, but it’s the people of the region that have continually transformed the area into something special. From Andrew Carnegie to Sophie Masloff, Andy Warhol to August Wilson, and Fred Rogers to Franco Harris, Pittsburgh has been blessed with an assortment of “characters” who have likewise added character to the Steel City. The ToonSeum, meanwhile, was built on the foundation of a different sort of character—the illustrated and the animated. From Mickey Mouse to Daffy Duck, Spider-Man to Wonder Woman, Garfield to Beetle Bailey, Pittsburgh’s resident museum of the cartoon and comic arts has regularly celebrated these fictitious creations who not only have character, but are literal characters themselves.

On Saturday, April 25, 2015, these two worlds collide when the ToonSeum honors the real-life characters of Pittsburgh at its annual Ka-Blam! fundraiser. WQED documentarian Rick Sebak will be on hand, as well as YouTube sensation Pittsburgh Dad and local performing artist Phat Man Dee, for a special evening at the Teamsters Temple Banquet Hall in Lawrenceville. Jimmy Krenn, Lynn Cullen, Sally Wiggin and David Newell (Mr. McFeely from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood) will be amongst the guests in attendance, while an array of local Pittsburgh illustrators—including Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers—will construct special homages to these Pittsburgh Characters. With balloon and caricature artists, food and beverages, and DJ J. Malls on hand as well, it offers to be a night to remember for both the Steel City and the ToonSeum.