Thursday, September 20, 2012

Manimal: The Movie

If you went back in time and told my fourteen year old self in 1983 that in the year 2012 a Manimal movie would be in the works, I'd be like "Holy shit - the future is gonna be freakin' awesome!!"

As it turns out, the future is pretty shitty but on behalf of my fourteen year old self, I'm delighted by the prospect of a Manimal film. I'm highly skeptical that it'll ever come to be but just the fact that it's being seriously considered is hilarious.

During its eight episode run in 1983, Manimal (the brain child of producer Glen A. Larson) was must-see TV for me. I was old enough to be aware of how cheeseball it was but come on, it was a show about a crime solving professor aiding the police on cases who also had the ability to turn into whatever animal he chose to. That's such a cool concept that it instantly overrode any flaws in the execution. Genre TV is so serious now but back in the day, Manimal was aimed at a blissfully unsophisticated audience of kids who just wanted to see star Simon MacCorkindale transform at least twice an episode.

The FX for Manimal were handled by superstar to be Stan Winston and while MacCorkindale's character of Jonathan Chase had the ability to change into any animal, he mostly stuck with a panther and hawk. Because it was so costly to produce the show's FX, they couldn't do a different on-screen transformation for every animal Chase turned into so they tended to just recycle the same footage over and over. It got a bit repetitive, yes, but this was back when prosthetic makeup was all the rage with films like The Howling and An American Werewolf in London so to see the same sort of thing on TV was a big deal - especially if you were too young to see those R-rated movies.

With CGI, there's no limitations to how many animals Chase can change into in a feature film but while the main selling point of the show was its then-cutting edge FX, another CGI-fest doesn't seem like it would stand out at all. However they end up going with this movie, though, as soon as it hits screens, it's already a win for Team Manimal. Automan is waiting patiently in the wings as we speak...


Wings1295 said...

I agree. My kid self would be psyched, as well. But the concept that cool then is just "another super hero" movie idea now.

Still, I like the concept so, if done well, it could be an entertaining watch. :)

Jeff Allard said...

Yeah, the movie landscape is flooded with super characters these days so it'll be hard for even Manimal to stand out but we'll see how it goes.

FilmFather said...

Manimal is one of those shows where I remember the memory of watching it more than the show itself. I was fan of Simon MacCorkindale, even though he wasn't a household name (Death on the Nile, Jaws 3-D, and of course Manimal). Only recently did I hear that he died of cancer in 2010. Sad.

I also had no idea Stan Winston handled the show's FX. Nice.

In keeping with Manimal's '80s origin: If they do move forward with the movie, metal shockmeisters W.A.S.P. have the theme song ready to go!

Win a Dark Shadows Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack from FilmFather! Enter here
Follow me on Twitter