Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Updating the Story - Part 1

First off, I'm sorry this post has taken so long to materialize. I was on vacation, traveling the vast roads of the United States, from Casper, WY, to Port Columbus, OH. (No, there were no ghosts in Casper, WY) Now we can finally begin to dig deeper into this grave... a positive one... I guess that's one saying that didn't serve it's punful purpose too well... oh well, let us begin...

We are to begin with the category of "Updating the Story," which won out in our poll. This does not mean we won't look at the other topics. It just means this one comes first.

Let's look at what this is all about; a summary of the topic at hand, straight from the last post:
These installments will take a look at what has been done to take the late 1960's 24 Minute story-teller record and expand it into a full length film that modern audiences can take a bit more seriously. We'll look at what's been cut (very little) and what's been added (a whole hell of a lot) and what has been changed (quite a bit) to mold the source material into something we're just dying to show you.
So, without further a due, let's begin. I'ts a good thing this topic was voted to start first; because guess what everyone? It's time for a history lesson! I know a good amount of you know the story behind this whole thing, but this blog is meant to answer all the questions that any average Joe might have about the project. So it's time to take a look at the history of the source material...

The Story & Song from The Haunted Mansion LP album was released in 1969, coinciding with the opening of the original version of the attraction at Disneyland. For those of you who don't know the history behind the Storyteller records; they where the equivalent of the read-along cassette tapes of the 1990's. It seems today's generation doesn't have an equivalent to this sort of audio-visual entertainment. Anyhow, Disneyland Records basically had cornered the market in children's albums in the 60's and 70's. Prior to the release of the attraction-based Mansion album, similar storyteller records for both It's a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean had been released. These albums where not exclusively sold at the park; they could be found at your local department store; (Places like the Target, Walmart, and K-Mart of the day) the albums promoted the attraction to kids who bought them, and in turn, would lead to the children begging their parents to go to Disneyland to experience the real thing! Marketing genius right there...

Unlike the previously mentioned attraction-based releases, the Mansion album took a different approach to the concept. Where as the other two merely provided a narrated flow-through of the attraction, the Mansion album gave the listeners a story to go with the flow-through; hence the name, The Story & Song. The said story follows a teenage couple; Mike (voiced by Ron Howard) and Karen (voiced by Robie Lester); who wind up taking a flow-through of the attraction's scenes after taking shelter from a rainstorm in a Haunted House. They are greeted by the disembodied voice of a ghost host (voiced by Peter Renoudet) who guides them on a tour of his haunted home.

Because your really should hear it before we continue, I'm providing a link to the low-quality version that has been available on Doombuggies.com for the longest time. (Scroll down to the first "Shh... Listen" and press play. You can also read a bit more on the history of the album) I don't want to place any illegal links here. Not with this project on the line. I highly suggest you obtain a copy of your own. The album was recently re-released officially on compact disc in 2009, and is easy to obtain online, or at the Disney theme parks.

Because the original record only runs about 24 minutes in length, this leaves us with the need to expand the story. While there are defiantly enough visuals to fill out an hour's worth of film in the scenes present on the album alone, we feel that expanding and altering the story is a necessary task. Because the album is based on the Disneyland version of the attraction, which is slightly shorter than the version built at Walt Disney World, we have decided to add several scenes based on the rooms missing at the Anaheim original. Such scenes include the Haunted Library, Music Room, and Grand Staircase. Another entirely new room has been added to supplement as home for some evicted tenants with eight limbs from the Orlando attraction. But we'll cover these rooms a little later in the "Re-Haunting the Mansion" topic.

In addition, several elements have been dropped, added, and updated to modernize the story, making it more believable for today's audience; removing some of the campy and cheesy flavor of the album and replacing it with a more acceptable vibe. We'll cover these various add-on's and drop-off's in our next installment, Updating the Story - Part 2


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