How does one discover a movie like The Wizard of Speed and Time in 2012/2013? Isn’t it antiquated? Isn’t it beyond overdone and dated and doesn’t the premise just fall apart in the face of what we know about Hollywood; the whole movie is one great big farce filled with anti-truths and nonsensical ramblings of a talented special effects man from 1980-whenever? First of all, none of what you have just read is true save that Mike Jittlov is one talented effects man who happens to have a keen eye for film making and a knack for storytelling that touches the heart, inspires and yet delivers a message all at the same time. This is the kind of movie you want you kids to watch if you want them to grow up to be filmmakers like you never became. Follow your dreams. Learn how to accomplish your goals and never give up. Never. Yeah, I want my kids watching a movie just like that no matter what decade it’s from and oh, by the way, did I mention that I love the friggin’ 1980’s? I guess you knew that from the title of this column. I guess The Wizard of Speed and Time will fit in just fine with the horror fodder we throw at you weekly. IT CAME FROM 1980x brings you this classic that started as a short and became cult work of effects genius.
From the back of the box:
You’re in for a wild and comic Hollywood adventure when the award-winning WIZARD OF SPEED AND TIME takes you on an incredible journey into the dazzling world of special effects. Filmmaker Mike Jittlov gets his “big break” in show business when two battling producers hire him to film a segment for their upcoming TV special. But what Mike doesn’t know is that there’s a $25,000 side bet that the won’t deliver.
Now the race is on! With his small crew helping, MIke acts in the film as a magical wizard who brings an entire film studio to life via animation and a marathon of spectacular effects. Even though the crew struggles through many hardships, unexpected studio sabotage, and even a crazy car chase through Hollywood, the results are astounding.
It’s fast and funny… wonderful and eye-boggling. Plan on having the best fun you’ve had in years when THE WIZARD OF SPEED AND TIME brings the amazing bag of tricks to your door.
Short film from which the full length feature originated:
The Wizard of Speed and Time starts off in the mind of Mike Jittlov, a special effects artist who composes a short special effects sampler featured on the Wonderful World of Disney in 1979 (watch the short film above). This in and of itself proves its merit. The Wonderful World of Disney gave me more childhood memories than I realize, but movies like Mr. Boogedy and the animated Robin Hood come to mind; both have stuck with me throughout the years. From there Jittlov worked for Disney for the next eight years or so until his the full length feature was fully realized, released and subsequently flopped only finding an audience during the VHS boom of the late 80’s. Jittlov’s work primarily has been either as an actor in some fairly random films or creating his own short animation works including Animator, The Interview, Swing Shift and Time Tripper. It’s not an impressive resume, but the work he has created is clearly impressive. I think of his stop motion in the same positive light as the video for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer or the opening sequence or numerous stop motion/claymation segues in Pee Wee’s Playhouse. If you enjoy these, you’re gonna love The Wizard of Speed and Time and the portfolio of Jittlov’s work.
Lynda Aldon started off as a Dream Girl in Doctor Detroit which we featured for Blaxploitation History Month in 2012.
Frank LaLoggia has a bit part in the Wizard of Speed and Time, but directed and wrote a truly creepy horror film called the Lady in White with equally magical special effects and considered by many a knowledgeable horror fan to be a true classic ghost picture. Of course he also wrote and directed Fear No Evil so the coin does in fact have two sides.
John Massari is known for his endless composing credits, but only acted in one movie, The Wizard of Speed and Time. He composed the music as well. You may remember his work from Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Retro Puppetmaster.
Stephen Stucker in his final performance appears in Wizard. You will remember him from the Airplane series, Kentucky Fried Movie and Delinquent School Girls. It’s quite the resume.
Featuring one of the best taglines, “This is the kind of movie you would make, if you have nothing better to do!” Wizard features unique criticism of big Hollywood movie making including the struggle of the independent, outsider filmmaker, the unionization of Hollywood and it’s detriment to film and the lack of economic sensibilities of the studio system. Of course that won’t be why you watch the movie; you’ll want to see just what Jittlov can create when you give him a camera and plenty of time to move minutia around. It’s a pleasure to watch Jittlov create in the movie and then to see his creation actualized.
Aspiring filmmakers and writers… here are some quotes for you to feast on:
“All the big things I should have done by now, but I was so busy doing little things. I wonder how many other people are out there? Writing stories and scripts that nobody else may ever read, making movies that nobody may ever see… discovering secrets, important things that could help everybody. Maybe I shouldn’t make movies for a living… I could deliver Steve’s pizzas…”
“Oh, if only I could do that for real. If we could live on hopes and wishes, make movies at the speed of thought, all the movies that could have been, all the dreams that I could spin…”
Some things never change. Note that I didn’t choose overtly funny dialogue. I want you to be touched by the film while you are entertained and have your mind warped and molded into thinking organic matter once again in a land before the portable video game. Do yourself a favor and stop by VHSPS (that’s the VHS Preservation Society to all you squares) and pick up this gem or make an extra-special effort to find it on VHS. It’s great for the kids. It’s perfect for adults who need a little inspiration and who haven’t forgotten what it means to see and feel magic without being jaded into late night infomercial land. You’re allowed to enjoy PG movies after all, the 80’s gave us some great ones. I grew up there. The 80’s… where creativity was king. Bless your wacky wall walkers and your sweet attention to neon green magical awesome.
Keep your heads clean, kiddies.