[FYI] Stop Button Sum Ups

A couple months ago, I decided to think–again–about doing some kind of print publication of Stop Button posts. I’ve started multiple print collections over the years, as print-on-demand became feasible for the hobbyist. Nothing ever lasted. It was either too much work or the combination of too much work and too expensive. It was also hard to find the right medium.

A happy reader. Really.

But then I worked out the idea for Stop Button Sum Ups. I already knew what I wanted to collect–the longer summary posts. There were some questions to answer: how many summary posts, how often to publish, what format. My latest failed attempt at collecting all the blog’s posts informed some of the design work. Ripping off Video Watchdog on the size helped quite a bit. And Ka-Blam’s page limits and pricing structure informed the length.

The first Stop Button Sum Ups, discussing John Carpenter’s theatrical feature career, has a “Winter 2018” cover date. It’s going to be a quarterly publication. Next issue will have the Superman series and Edward Burns’s directorial career. I imagine it will fly off the shelves like everything else Ed Burns related.

This actual other happy reader even posed their Sum Ups.

Right now, you can get Sum Ups a couple places. First is through gumroad. You just order it. To be upfront, they’re at cost plus thirty percent. And rounded up to the nearest nickel. Not including shipping, of course.

You could also choose the Sum Ups tier on The Stop Button‘s Patreon site, which costs a little more–though barely when you throw in shipping–but also supports the site in general. You don’t have to Patreon. No one else does. But in case you do, it’s there. Or here, actually.

I thought about releasing digital versions but I haven’t found a way I like to present it. All the design is for print, not digital. Besides, The Stop Button is always online. Sum Ups is for when you need something to read in the john. Because no one brings their phone or tablet into the can with them.



Starting in August 2017, I’m going to be scheduling certain The Stop Button posts.

Every month will have a different theme, scheduled a few months in advance; some themes will tie into the month (horror movies in October), some themes will be built around a particular actor, director, writer, producer, et cetera.

I’m thinking of these monthly themes as quartets, which is appropriate given August’s Somerset Maugham adaptation theme.

There will still be other, additional posts, but anything in a quartet will have a scheduled posting date.

October 2017

Seventies horror

  • 10/6 – The Exorcist
  • 10/13 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • 10/20 – The Omen
  • 10/27 – Suspiria

November 2017


  • 11/3 – Spider-Man Strikes Back
  • 11/10 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • 11/17 – Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge
  • 11/24 – Spider-Man: Homecoming

Previous Quartets

August 2017

W. Somerset Maugham adaptations

September 2017

Eleanor Parker quintet

  • 9/1 – The Seventh Sin
  • 9/8 – The Voice of the Turtle
  • 9/15 – How to Steal the World
  • 9/22 – Hans Brinker
  • 9/29 – Madame X


Starting in August 2017, I’m going to be doing chapter-by-chapter posts on various movie serials.

I’ll be posting about one serial a month, scheduled three months in advance, and the chapter responses will be posted daily.

August 2017

Batman (1943)

September 2017

Flash Gordon (1936)

October 2017

King of the Rocket Men (1949)

Sum Ups

A Stop Button “sum up” is meant to be a comprehensive, mildly objective, mildly subjective recapping of a particular group of films, whether the films of an actor, director, or just films in a series.


Edward Burns

Films discussed: The Brothers McMullen, She’s the One, No Looking Back, Sidewalks of New York, Ash Wednesday, Looking for Kitty, The Groomsmen, Purple Violets, Nice Guy Johnny, Newlyweds, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas.

John Carpenter

Part One: The Wonder Years

Films discussed: Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York.

Part Two: The Studio Quartet

Films discussed: The Thing, Christine, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China.

Part Three: The Alive Duet

Films discussed: Prince of Darkness, They Live.

Part Four: The Mundane Years

Films discussed: Memoirs of an Invisible Man, In the Mouth of Madness, Village of the Damned, Escape from L.A., Vampires, Ghosts of Mars, The Ward.



Films discussed: Superman and the Mole-Men, Superman, Superman II, Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Superman Returns, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The Thin Man

Films discussed: The Thin Man, After the Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of the Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, Song of the Thin Man

[FYI] The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast


In the summer of 2008, Matthew Hurwitz (of DangerBurger and Video Fugue previously of Cinemachine) and I launched An Alan Smithee Podcast. Just under six years later, we released the final, one hundredth episode.

The podcast started as a general discussion of modern film, but soon became a targeted discussion of two films, one good, one bad. Only they were not necessarily films we thought good or bad. Good consensus, bad consensus. Sometimes the bad films were the ones we liked, sometimes not. Sometimes we didn’t like either of them. Only later did we even relent to the common sense of pairing the films thematically.

Until now, all of the episodes have been available on iTunes or through MP3 links on the Alan Smithee website. There has been some renewed interest in the podcast of late, with people finding the episodes linked from who knows where. Matt and I thought instead of letting people stumble onto the podcast, perhaps we should offer some structure.

That structure is The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast, presented here on The Stop Button, every Monday for 30 weeks as we revisit 30 of our favorite episodes.

If you missed these the first time around, now begins your second chance to take a listen. And you should listen. Matt and I are smart fellas.

Subscribe via iTunes.


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode One

Audio Commentary: Halloween II (1981, Rick Rosenthal)

Originally posted: August 22, 2009


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Two

The RoboCop Trilogy: Robocop (1987, Paul Verhoeven) / Robocop 2 (1990, Irvin Kershner) / Robocop 3 (1993, Fred Dekker)

Originally posted: January 9, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Three

Psycho II (1983, Richard Franklin) / Psycho (1998, Gus Van Sant)

Originally posted: February 19, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Four

Audio Commentary: Batman (1989, Tim Burton)

Originally posted: March 9, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Five

Watchmen (2009, Zach Snyder), the ultimate cut

Originally posted: April 26, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Six

The Darkman Trilogy (1990-96, Sam Raimi and Bradford May)

Originally posted: June 30, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Seven

Piranha (1978, Joe Dante) / Piranha (1995, Scott P. Levy)

Originally posted: August 14, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Seven

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, Tobe Hooper) / Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994, Kim Henkel)

Originally posted: November 10, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Nine

An American Werewolf in London (1981, John Landis) / An American Werewolf in Paris (1997, Anthony Waller)

Originally posted: December 9, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Ten

Flash Gordon (1980, Mike Hodges) / Popeye (1980, Robert Altman)

Originally posted: December 31, 2010


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Eleven

Airplane (1980, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker) / Airplane II: The Sequel (1982, Ken Finkleman)

Originally posted: January 15, 2011


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twelve

Escape from New York (1981, John Carpenter) / 2019: After the Fall of New York (1983, Sergio Martino)

Originally posted: February 9, 2011


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Thirteen

Revenge of the Nerds (1984, Jeff Kanew) / Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise (1987, Joe Roth)

Originally posted: March 27, 2011


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Fourteen

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983, John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, George Miller)

Originally posted: April 11, 2011


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Fifteen

Mars Attacks! (1996, Tim Burton) / Sleepy Hollow (1999, Tim Burton)

Originally posted: May 4, 2011


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Sixteen

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Robert Zemeckis) / Cool World (1992, Ralph Bakshi)

Originally posted: November 16, 2011


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Seventeen

Real Genius (1985, Martha Coolidge) / My Science Project (1985, Jonathan R. Beutel)

Originally posted: March 7, 2012


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Eighteen

Audio Commentary: Supergirl (1984, Jeannot Szwarc)

Originally posted: April 22, 2012


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Nineteen

I Married a Witch (1942, René Clair) / Bewitched (2005, Nora Ephron)

Originally posted: June 27, 2012


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty

The Blues Brothers (1980, John Landis) / Blues Brothers 2000 (1998, John Landis)

Originally posted: September 7, 2012


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-one

Fletch (1985, Michael Ritchie) / Fletch Lives (1989, Michael Ritchie)

Originally posted: December 7, 2012


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-two

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960, Roger Corman) / Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973, Carl Monson)

Originally posted: January 3, 2013


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-three

Judge Dredd (1995, Danny Cannon) / Dredd (2012, Pete Travis)

Originally posted: May 3, 2013


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-four

Caddyshack (1980, Harold Ramis) / Caddyshack II (1988, Allan Arkush)

Originally posted: June 7, 2013


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-five

Audio Commentary: The Return of the Living Dead (1985, Dan O’Bannon)

Originally posted: July 5, 2013

darko basp

The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-six

Donnie Darko (2001, Richard Kelly) / S. Darko (2009, Chris Fisher)

Originally posted: September 6, 2013


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-seven

Arthur (1981, Steve Gordon) / Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1987, Bud Yorkin)

Originally posted: January 3, 2014


The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-eight

The Fly (1986, David Cronenberg) / The Fly II (1989, Chris Walas)

Originally posted: February 7, 2014

The Best of An Alan Smithee Podcast: Episode Twenty-nine

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978, Gordon Hessler) / Detroit Rock City (1999, Adam Rifkin

Originally posted: April 8, 2014

Subscribe via iTunes.

[FYI] JR Ralls has a new movie on Kickstarter

If you haven’t seen Dark Dungeons, which JR Ralls produced, you need to check it out as soon as possible. Ralls primarily funded the film through Kickstarter and now he has another movie on Kickstarter–Citizen George.

Citizen George is about “a director who creates a very popular Space Saga in the 1970’s only to make a very disappointing prequel trilogy 20 years later.” Can’t imagine who it’s about… but he does wear some plaid.

Ralls is one-upping the traditional Kickstarter by asking his backers to decide the tone of Citizen George; it’s either going to be a time travel comedy or a serious drama. Kickstarter backers will make that decision for Ralls and George.

Check out the Kickstarter, read more about it below.

Who shoots first

Citizen George – Every Saga Has a Creator

Citizen George will be a full length film about a director who creates a very popular Space Saga in the 1970’s only to make a very disappointing prequel trilogy 20 years later.  But whether it will be a time travel comedy or a serious drama is up to you.  That’s because when I started working on this project and I had two great ideas of where I wanted it to go.

Citizen George as a Serious Drama

I had this idea I loved where Citizen George would be a straight drama in the vein of Citizen Kane.  It would be about the rise and fall of a man who is a hero to many in geekdom and villain to others, just as William Randolph Hearst was to many in an earlier age of media.

Citizen George as a Time Travel Comedy

But at the same time, I also had an idea where Citizen George would be a sci-fi time travel comedy like Bill and Ted or Austin Powers.  In that story, The Director would time travel twenty years into the future and 1970’s-Director would make the prequels instead of 1990’s-Director.  Unlike future-Director, past-Director has not had decades of being surrounded by “yes-people” but he does have the added difficulty of missing out on twenty years of cultural change.  That version would be a lot lighter and more of a wish fulfillment fantasy but at the same time it too would also be a great way to explore how power affects people.  

I was trying to decide which of those two versions I most wanted to make when the idea hit me; why not let the backers decide?  Kickstarter is all about letting the fans choose what they want to see.  So why not take that to the next level?  Why not let you decide if Citizen George is going to be a comedy or a drama?  So that is exactly what I am going to do.  

Again, the Kickstarter.

[FYI] Thoughts on the Thin Man book now available

Thoughts on the Thin Man

I was lucky enough to get to participate in Danny Reid’s book of essays, Thoughts On The Thin Man: Essays on the Delightful Detective Work of Nick and Nora Charles. Danny runs, where he covers pre-code movies, and he put together this awesome idea for a Thin Man book with a bunch of classic movie people contributing. And, well, me.

The book is available from Amazon, both in print and for Kindle. Any proceeds will be donated to the ASPCA.

My essay is all about the locations (sets, interior and exterior, and actual location shooting). These observations had been kicking around in my head since I was a kid watching The Thin Man movies so it was interesting to discuss them. Many thanks to my editors–Danny, of course–but I also subjected wife Monique, father Steve, and friends Jessica and Jim to various drafts of the essay as I worked on it.

Now, with the book out (and winging its way to me from Amazon), I can’t wait to read what everyone else has come up with….

The Description

Undoubtedly some of the most witty and urbane films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the six movies that composed MGM’s Thin Man series showcased a pair of wealthy, inebriated detectives who solve murders in their down time. Through the series’ run from 1934 to 1947, William Powell and Myrna Loy turned Nick and Nora Charles into a cinematic institution, showcasing a marriage that was sexy, funny, and exciting, whether there was a gun pointed at them at any given moment or not.

Thoughts On The Thin Man reflects on these famous films, looking back at Dashiell Hammett’s original inspiration, the genesis of the films, and the men and women who made them possible. This collection of essays covers all six movies, including detailed plot breakdowns, quotes, trivia, discussion of motifs, looks at the many spin-offs of the series, a couple of nostalgic odes, and even drinking games, including a custom cocktail devoted to the duo. Would you expect any less?

The Other Contributors

[FYI] JR Ralls has a new project (not movies)

If you haven’t seen Dark Dungeons, which JR Ralls produced, you need to check it out as soon as possible. Ralls primarily funded the film through Kickstarter and now he has another Kickstarter project, only this time he’s doing a movie, he’s putting together a Desert Bus video competition.

If you don’t know anything about Desert Bus, you can read about it below in Ralls’s description of his project, but you can also check it out for iOS in the App Store. It’s a crazy great idea, much like Dark Dungeons was a crazy great idea–and Ralls delivered a crazy great short film with that one so the Desert Bus Grand Championship should be amazing.

Check out the Kickstarter, read more about it below.

desert bus esport

Desert Bus Grand Championship – The World’s Hardest eSport

If you are not familiar, Desert Bus is a game. A real game in which you drive a bus in the desert (hence the name). There are no obstacles, no other cars, no scenery, nothing but you driving a bus for eight hours in a featureless desert at a top speed of 45 mph. In real time. In. Real. Time. It was designed by Penn and Teller in response to charges that video games didn’t teach kids real life skills. It was never officially released, but if it had been, Penn and Teller wanted to hold a Desert Bus competition. Sadly, that never happened but with your help we can change that. We can make the Desert Bus Grand Championship a reality.

The Desert Bus Grand Championship will not be a virtual event. Competitors will have to play Desert Bus, live and in person, at the venue of the match. We will have announcers and entertainers to keep the event as exciting as possible, for the audience that is. The competitors will, of course, have to keep all their attention on the excitement that is Desert Bus. Just as there is no radio or music or other distractions in Desert Bus the game, so there will be no distractions in Desert Bus the competitive eSport.

Once this Kickstarter reaches its funding goal, I will put together the best Darn Desert Bus Championship the world has ever seen. I will find the best venue, organize the event, and host the competition with as many entertainers, announcers, competitors, and sheer showmanship as possible.

Again, the Kickstarter.

[FYI] Concept art from Jared Pelletier’s new project

Since Troops–and, hey, maybe even Hardware Wars–short fan films have been a thing; with better consumer video editing and the Internet for distribution, they’ve gone past being a zeitgeist into their own genre of short filmmaking. Though they do seem somewhat dismissed by the establishment. And they shouldn’t be dismissed.

For example, I watched Jared Pelletier’s Call of Duty: Final Hour last year on something of a whim–I’m not a big “Call of Duty” player–and was very impressed. My post is here but you can read it after watching the short itself on Vimeo.

Not at all surprisingly, the short has led to bigger things for Pelletier. While they aren’t ready to release all the news now, he did send over some concept art for the project. It looks pretty darn cool.

Pelletier is managed by Scott Glassgold of IAM Entertainment. The project is currently being developed by Frostbite Pictures (WME) and producers Jason Fischer (“Supernatural”), Mitch Cappe (Robocop, Total Recall) and Evan Stasyshyn (Call of Duty: Operation Kingfish).

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