Watch the new trailer for the new MUPPETS Haunted Mansion Halloween Special

Originally published at: Watch the new trailer for the new MUPPETS Haunted Mansion Halloween Special | Boing Boing

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I was really expecting the ever-watching marble busts to be Statler and Waldorf rather than Dr. Honeydew and Beaker. I guess we’ll see where they ended up putting those guys instead.


The trailer makes it look like a bunch of green screen work to me. This will be disappointing if true because muppets always had fantastic detailed physical sets in the past.

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The haunted mansion as well is a big ole pile of practical, in room effects and optical illusions. Many of them drawn from stage magic or trick photography.


The Muppets have a long history of using optical effects including chromakey.


There’s something slightly ‘off’ about all the recent Muppet productions - I can’t put my finger on it, but they never feel ‘right’ - almost like Disney has the IP but don’t know what to do with it.

I’d much prefer it if they went back to their classic adaptations and made a Muppet version of Frankenstein with Gonzo as the doctor and Rizzo as his loyal sidekick.


In fairness some of the original muppet show sketches weren’t always great either. Watching the original run on DVD, there was plenty of great stuff but a decent number of stinkers too. It’s kinda like how everyone thinks classic SNL sketches were all awesome. The ones we remember were awesome because those stood the test of time and made it into the compilations that get replayed. The bad stuff just gets forgotten.

Plus, as we all know, most of the original Muppet folks are retired or dead, so it’s obviously challenging to recreate the exact same energy. That’s not necessarily the fault of the IP owner. It would be a challenge no matter who owned the franchise. Though I think they did a decent job with 2011’s The Muppets.


I was going to say the opposite–it’s amazing to me that they’ve managed to retain the tone of the old show/movies throughout the years, as well as the characters’ personalities. Not flawlessly, but there was nothing in that trailer that felt like an attempt to “update” the characters or make them “cooler” than they ever were. If something about this sticks in the craw, I would say it’s the Haunted Mansion™ branding… we get it, Disney, you own the rights to them now. Just try something new for once?

This is a mash-up I’d love to watch. Even if it’s badly done, I expect there are enough elements to trigger my nostalgia for both the Haunted Mansion and the Muppets.

Too bad our brave new world of streaming media is so fragmented. Most of us cannot afford to subscribe to all of the services, which means a lot of productions will never be available to everyone.

Sure, there were always premium cable channels, like HBO. But those (mostly) didn’t produce their own content. They got temporary exclusive rights to movies that had recently run in theatres. But eventually those all made it to basic cable, your local video rental store, and tapes or disks you could buy.

In the golden era of Netflix’s disks-by-mail service, you could find anything that had ever been available on DVD. I filled countless gaps in my cultural education, like Jaws and Blade Runner. They even had a form where you could point out something that was missing from their library and they would add it. I used that a couple times to watch documentaries.

Now you can get hooked by a new series on a broadcast network, only to learn that the second season on some streaming service you’d never heard of. Or Netflix cancels one of their “Originals” and later you learn that a cable channel had picked it up and produced more seasons but you can no longer find those anywhere. Or, in the middle of binge-watching a SciFi channel series you completely missed the first time around, it jumps from Amazon Prime to Hulu, and, all the while, the movie it ties in with with streams only on Netflix.

With the rise of indy-published ebooks, Amazon’s Kindle has locked up exclusive distribution rights to a phenomenal amount of new books, books that won’t be available to those who prefer a different platform and that probably won’t ever be available in a public library.

It used to be that a generation or two of people had a bunch of broadly shared culture: movies, television, music, books. You might not have been a fan of all of it, but there was a common core of wildly popular stuff that most people were at least familiar with. You could lean on that to communicate with your peers in a sort of shorthand, to connect with new people, to make your friends laugh, to invoke emotions (or, at least, nostalgia) by alluding to defining moments of your shared past. This is the basis of memes.

Now there’s more new content available than ever before, but none of it will be accessible to everyone who would enjoy it. Your Game of Thrones memes will be meaningless to a big subset of your peers. When expressing your fears about the future, alluding to the one scene in The Handmaid’s Tale might not be as effective as you hoped. The most popular elements of your cultural recollections might not have even been nor ever be available to your friends.

For the most part you couldn’t. I was starting film school when Netflix launched, and it was useful. But they didn’t even really have the selection that the arty video store in town did, even for a long time after. They were chiefly useful because it was comparatively cheap, and they had more copies of what they did stock.

Getting “everything”, even in terms of just getting things you need for class. You had to work Netflix, a couple of video stores, the university film archive, and public libraries. And you were dealing with a fair bit more than DVDs (a lot never made it there, or didn’t till weirdly recently). Laserdisc was (and still is for this sort of thing) weirdly important. We still used a lot of VHS, and for rarer stuff we’d be threading film into projectors or watching a VHS or Beta bootleg borrowed from a professor.

Netflix was always more of Lenard Maltin’s movie guide, recent TV shows sort of “has everything”.

I think we’re rather spoiled by the current environment. You hear the complaint about how much it would cost to get everything. But no one in the past ever had access to everything. The $200 cable subscription gives you access to a hell of a lot of network and cable dross, and an isolated set of mass market material you care about.

In the good old days the version of a show suddenly moving to a streaming service on it’s second season. Was that show getting cancelled. Or quietly moving to an off time slot on a cable channel you’ve never heard of, without you knowing. Or having any way of finding out.

A generation or two of people had broadly shared cultural touchstones because there were so few options. Everyone watched Gilligan’s Island, whether they liked it or not, because that’s what was on on one of 3 or 4 broadcast Networks. Smaller things with less mass market appeal, or value in syndication. You might see once and then they were lost to the ether.

In order to see this:

Back in film school a professor had to borrow a worn print (16mm I believe) and transfer it to tape himself in the student studio.

Now it just lives permanently on Youtube.

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In the golden era of Netflix’s disks-by-mail service, you could find anything that had ever been available on DVD.

For the most part you couldn’t.

If there was a title they didn’t stock that but was available on DVD, all you had to do was tell them where they could buy it. They would acquire it for their library. As soon as they got it, it went to the top of your queue and they would send it to you right away, even if you already had your n discs out. I used it a couple times for obscure documentaries, and it worked amazingly well.

This part of the service died when their desire to move into streaming forced them to shift away from the doctrine of first sale and into distribution contracts and licenses. Shortly thereafter, they stopped replacing worn-out discs and many titles started to get “long waits.” Even then, I never saw more than 10% of our DVD queue become available via streaming.

In the good old days the version of a show suddenly moving to a streaming service on it’s second season. Was that show getting cancelled. Or quietly moving to an off time slot on a cable channel you’ve never heard of, without you knowing. Or having any way of finding out.

In many cases, I’d prefer it if the shows had been canceled. I do remember a few shows hopping networks or going from broadcast to cable, but we rarely missed those. TiVo’s “season passes” used to track down the show regardless of changes in channel or timeslot. It was so seamless, there were shows that hopped channels and I never knew until years later. I just kept on watching. Now that TiVo is owned by Macrovision, it doesn’t do that very well anymore.

I’m not saying any of these systems always made all content available to all. But increased fragmentation has reduced accessibility and is creating generations who will have less shared culture. And far more works will be lost to time.

Using Kodi with an add on like Seren does a pretty good job of finding shows that have wandered around. I just recently re-watched all of The Guild, which was all over the place, altogether seamlessly. Does a great job of consolidating watch lists and things containing content from various sources. I love the “up next” menu (which leverages and/or and the like) for a list of next-in-order episodes of serialized stuff I’ve been watching, all in one spot to view in one click regardless of where it comes from.

Of course the big downside is that it is still considered infringement even when I’m watching content from the 6 different streaming services I pay for, things airing in my cable package, movies I’ve purchased on Blu-ray and etc.

Pretty sweet viewing experience though.

Which may have worked for things with formal distribution, that were currently in print.

Quite a lot of that did make it to DVD, particularly early on and particularly for more obscure things saw vary small print runs. A lot of independent stuff, particularly with regards to documentary, were never offered by distributors of the sort rental operations purchased from. Some surprisingly prominent stuff wasn’t available through Netflix for a good long time because of that, IIRC you couldn’t get Eraserhead for a very long time. As the first DVD release had gone out of print, and Lynch was the only source (he was also still selling the laser disc).

The writing was on the wall with digital distribution, home rental was dying. And they kept it going a hell of a lot longer than anyone thought they would. IIRC disc replacements tapered fast with Netflix due to closures among the major disc distributors as sales shrank and home rental chains began to collapse. The market was likewise flooded with cheap, heavily used discs.

I’ve already addressed the shared culture. It’s also worth pointing out that this “shared culture” idea is also usually pretty limited. What constituted main stream culture then, and who was invited to it was much narrower.

We can take movie theaters as an example, since I happen to know quite a bit about it. There was an entirely separate system of theaters and distribution in Black communities from white communities. Completely different films shot, marketed, and shown for the Black Market. A white American experiencing the films marked as “shared culture” moments in a “mainstream” context, would tend to be completely unware of anything going on there. And Black folks might have never even heard of the films “everyone” was watching on the other end of it.

This was actually one the massive gaps in Netflix’s catalog for a very long time. That entire end of film history, save a few headline things just not there. Even where DVDs were available. Exploitation film in general was a bit of a loss there. Big gaps on horror before about the 1970s, even then more obscure ones never turned up.

This shared culture also basically stopped at a national border in a lot of cases. I wasn’t going to find the Irish productions my cousins mentioned through Netflix. That is shared culture with my own family I couldn’t really have until pretty recently. It was region free DVD players and Bittorent that initially brought it.

There’s much, much, much less of a thing now. Mass market successes might reach fewer people, and there might be fewer “everyone is watching it” things. But successes of all sorts reach more kinds of people in more places. There are more things in the mainstream, and more people are invited to that party.

ETA: Great example here. Kpop is a huge “shared culture” thing for young people all over the world right now. A Netflix for CDs wasn’t going to do that.

So what I’m saying is I don’t think anything is more fragmented. It’s always been that fragmented, just in a different way. If you had interests beyond the radio station, the multi-plex and the cable subscription. Beyond the last 5-10 years. It got little more apparent.

But things are so, so, so much more accessible than ever before.

Part of the impression you have of late Netflix being a one stop shop. Is just how much had and has made it to DVD late in the DVD market, and the fact that they’d been around for long enough to snap new stuff up before it went out of print.

I can find that Irish stuff official now, my Georgian friend can show her daughter Russian cartoons she watched growing up in Moscow and Tbilisi. Amazon actually has a whole channel of old theater pre-roll commercials for concessions and shit. If you were interested in that sort of thing previously, Rhino had put out a couple of (rapidly out of print) DVDs. But otherwise you were visiting flee markets and old theaters to chase down physical film.

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As soon as they got it, it went to the top of your queue and they would send it to you right away, even if you already had your n discs out.

Which may have worked for things with formal distribution, that were currently in print.

No, it was not limited to “in print” discs. I pointed them to Ebay listings for used copies of rare discs, a magician’s supply dealer for an indy-pressed limited run disc, and even a used bookstore who had a couple copies of a very old PBS documentary I couldn’t find elsewhere. Netflix did not restrict themselves to the big distribution channels the rental places used. More than once, they sent fulfillment people into Walmart stores to buy up of copies of popular new-releases at retail because the studios pressured the big distributors to restrict how many copies Netflix could buy wholesale.

Occasionally, Netflix made deals with studios that Netflix burn their own copies of some films. I always thought it was weird to get what looked like bootlegs in the Netflix envelopes, until my friend who worked there told me about the deals. But those deals marked the turning point when the studios started to gain the upper hand. Netflix-burned discs required a contract and license that restricted how those discs could be used in ways the ones bought at retail couldn’t be. Eventually, of course, those contracts and licenses would apply to everything, because they were forced to make the deals in order to start the streaming business.

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