The Do’s and Don’ts of Sci-Fi/Horror Movie Making

1/14/02 white pongo: scanned 8x10

White Pongo wreaks Terror wherever he goes! Image: viajesconmitia.com

Good news! If you’re looking to make your own Sci-Fi/Horror film (and who isn’t?), we found the perfect film as your template.

White Pongo (1945) is budget-friendly fare about a white gorilla living near Africa’s Congo River who may be “the missing link between man and monkey.” Obviously there would be a lot of fame and money available to anyone making such a discovery, and a scientific team dispatches itself to trap the elusive gorilla.

The expedition is headed by an esteemed scientist (Gordon Richards), who has brought his daughter (Maris Wrixon) along, just because. There is also an anthropologist, a German translator/guide, several canoe paddlers, and a rifleman (Richard Fraser) who has his own reasons for being on the expedition.

White Pongo (pongo meaning “gorilla”) shows us what is necessary in making a Sci-Fi/Horror film, and what we can get away with. Our film features a gorilla, but many of these principles could apply to any costumed monster.

DO:

  • start the film in the middle of a dire situation, so the audience will be Very Fearful of what will Happen Next.
  • include a female character who appears plucky and adventurous. Make her as liberated as you like – we all know she’ll need saving from the gorilla before this business is finished.
  • have characters introduce each other with adjectives such as “noted”, as in, “Allow me to introduce my friend, the noted anthropologist.”
  • create an eccentric character who is waiting to give valuable information to the scientists. This character must be thoroughly altruistic and have absolutely no interest in cashing in on his own discoveries.
  • ensure the gorilla is always skulking about and is never in a good mood. Growling is essential.
  • give scientists a British accent. They’ll sound smarter.
  • give the bad guy a German accent. (Oops – spoiler! Sorry about that.)

 DON’T:

  • place the gorilla in an ordinary location – the more fictionalized, the better. People will believe anything about a place they’ve never visited.
  • allow characters to perspire. Also, wrinkled clothing – even when trudging through the sticky jungle – is a no-no.
  • worry if the camera flops around. Who says you have to hold the camera steady all the time?
  • get hung up about about focusing the camera on the actor who’s talking. Let it drift aside to another actor, who may or may not be listening to the dialogue.
  • worry about filming in different locations. If you shoot the same scenery from different directions, the audience will never know the difference.

The #1 rule that can never, ever be compromised: DO NOT, under any circumstances, skimp on the gorilla costume. If the costume is the most expensive item in your budget, it is money well spent. Look at the gorilla suit in White Pongo – it looks like it weighs 120 lbs and has an internal temperature of 200º. It probably cost a fortune!

Now, people who have been to film school probably get all bent out of shape about research and technical stuff, but who cares about that? You wanna make a Sci-Fi/Horror flick? Go make it! The producers of White Pongo have shown us how it’s done.

White Pongo: Richard Fraser, Maris Wrixon, Lionel Royce. Directed by Sam Newfield. Written by Raymond L. Schrock. PRC Pictures, Inc., 1945, B&W, 72 mins.

This post is part of the UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS blogathon hosted by the lovely & talented Movies, Silently. Click HERE to see the other fab entries.

accidentally-hilarious-robot-monster

About these ads

19 comments

  1. Oh my – great minds think alike. I am also writing a about a film by this director for the same blogathon. I think Sam Newfield needs his own event! Very funny post about a film that truly is unintentionally hilarious!

    Like

  2. Steady cameras and sweaty jungles are vulgar and bourgeois, I am so glad I have found someone who agrees. ;-) Thanks so much for the fun review of this little turkey and for joining the event during your busy week :-)

    Like

  3. I never knew it was so easy to make a scifi/horror film. With all of your tips, it should be no problem. I will have to add that to my bucket list!:) Your post cracked me up. I want to see this movie now just so I can find all of the do’s and don’ts you talked about. Unfortunately, my husband recently negotiated with our cable service and mentioned to me that there are a couple channels we don’t have anymore. I couldn’t believe it when he said Turner Classic Movies was one of them!:( I may or may not have had a temper tantrum right then and there. Hopefully we will be renegotiating our cable contract soon!

    Like

    1. WHAT?! NO TCM?! Oh dear. Hopefully you can renegotiate.

      This movie is such fun. Honestly, I would buy it on Blu-ray if it were available. It’s kind of refreshing to see a film that doesn’t get hung up on technicalities.

      Like

  4. That is, hands-down, the most realistic gorilla costume I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’m going to go straight upstairs and fashion an imitation one from an old duvet. Then I’ll be all ready to star in my very own budget Sci-Fi. Thank you for this informative guide and for helping me to understand I don’t need funding to realise my cinematic ambitions.

    Like

  5. At my house, Big Foot and the Yeti rule. When we saw that White Pongo was available on Alpha Video, we inducted him as an honorary member into our makeshift Large Anthropoid Hall of Fame video collection (admittedly, only a cousin, but he does have that Yeti look to him).

    Like

A Franc for Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s