Tag Archives: Pyramid Films

Recorded Live (1975, S.S. Wilson)

Recorded Live is a student film. So director, writer, and animator Wilson’s flat composition gets some wide latitude. He’s got this silly slapstick score on a sound picture, with John Goodwin getting hired to work at an already strange-sounding TV studio only to arrive there and discover a sack of clothes instead of a boss. At that point, Live stops being–potentially–a slapstick about a weird TV studio and all of a sudden something else. Because it’s not that the boss (named W.H. O’Brien, which should’ve forecasted the stop motion) is a nudist, it’s because two reels of videotape has eaten him. But not his clothes.

The short starts getting pretty good at three minutes and then just gets better and better. It runs eight. Once the special effects start, while Goodwin is running around trying to save himself, Wilson’s plotting starts getting smarter and smarter. The reels of tape combine on the floor into a giant mess–Wilson’s definitely making this short for his seventies film school classmates, humor-wise–and it’s not until they have to start problem solving (in addition to listening and talking) they become dangerous. They’re a funny kind of dangerous before because it’s still a comedy, but then they get actually dangerous.

All because of how well Wilson plots the reveals and executes them through action with the stop motion animation. The short is this wonderful synthesis of inventive writing and special effects. Even after it gets really good, Wilson is able to up it even more.

Goodwin’s fine in the lead. His main line is “Hello,” as he explores the empty building. He handles the danger better than the comedy, which is quite a thing since he’s got so many effects shots to work in.

Recorded Live starts like a slight student film. A modern slapstick perhaps. Then all of a sudden it becomes this awesome horror thing. Wilson’s got his specific audience–people who think videotape is messy and hate erasing it when a magnet gets too close–but the phenomenal special effects make it transcend a target audience. The characterization of the videotape monsters or whatever, done through Wilson’s effects and the great sound (from Ben Burtt, so no shock great), is truly exceptional work.

Recorded Live is great.

3/3Highly Recommended


Written, directed, and animated by S.S. Wilson; music by George Winston; released by Pyramid Films.

Starring John Goodwin (Mr. Aaines).



Hardware Wars (1978, Ernie Fosselius)

The best thing about Hardware Wars, in terms of actual quality and imaginative creative impulse, is recasting Chewbacca as a brown version of the Cookie Monster (except here it’s the Wookie Monster). Director Fosselius introduces it sort of as a gag, but then develops it. The puppet gives costar Bob Knickerbocker (as the Han Solo stand-in) his best scene. The puppet looks great and it’s hilarious.

In terms of most interesting aspect of the short… well, in one scene, Fosselius has more women in Hardware Wars than Lucas fit into all of Star Wars.

Fosselius sets up the short like a trailer for itself, moving through the big (and recognizable) scenes of Star Wars. He borrows dialogue, he makes observations about the film out of context….

It’s competent, but pointless. Hardware Wars is diverting as an absurdist exercise, Fosselius doesn’t have any interesting observations about Lucas or Star Wars.

1/3Not Recommended


Written and directed by Ernie Fosselius; directors of photography, John V. Fante and Michael Wiese; production designer, Fosselius; produced by Fosselius and Wiese; released by Pyramid Films.

Starring Frank Robertson (4-Q-2), Scott Mathews (Fluke Starbucker), Jeff Hale (Augie ‘Ben’ Doggie), Cindy Furgatch (Princess Anne-Droid), Bob Knickerbocker (Ham Salad) and narrated by Paul Frees.