Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bon Voyage

Hey Gang, I usually don't post on the weekends because I know everyone's out enjoying their weekend (or drinking in the dark watching Road House on TV), but I wanted to let you know that I won't be around next week. Em and I will be on a vacation first with my parents and then with my dad's whole family on a Disney land and sea package. It should be a ton of fun and hopefully I'll come back with some cool pictures to show off.

In the meantime feel free to peruse the posts from my old blog Kicking It Old School which I have copied and pasted onto this very site. There's a lot of fun horror and comic reviews in there.

Have a good week, I know I will!

{This post does not go on}
Oh, DO go on.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus Ain't So Good

It's like Public Enemy says, folks, don't believe the hype. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is nowhere near as cool as the trailer had us believe.

And by hype, I of course mean this crazy trailer that everyone was passing around the internet:

Every cool part of the movie is right there. I didn't even realize this movie was put out by Asylum, the same guys that do Transmorphers until BC over at HorrorMovieADay pointed it out. By the way, I swear I don't try and copy his viewing choices, though I do get inspired to check out movies like Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. I did make note of a lot of the same things though.

For instance the special effects are pretty good as far as the title characters go (and, in some cases, they're more developed than the actors), but these weird flashes of white are super freaking annoying. At first I thought it was lightning, but then it was under water as well and kept happening over and over again. And inside of a sub.

Aside from being incredibly slow and boring, the movie was also poorly acted. Lorenzo Lamas plays a total asshole, who's also racist. It's played tongue in cheek I guess because he says something like "I'm an equal opportunity racist." He's actually pretty funny, but not in a way that seems on purpose.

There's also alot of other bad actors playing military types. There are two captains. The boat captain is awesomely ridiculous. I think he's the one in the trailer who says something like "It rises" or whatever. The other is the captain of the sub and seems to be channeling Chris Penn in all his exasperated glory. It's crazy.

The person that disappointed me the most was Ms. Debbie Gibson (the part of me that loved watching her in music videos on Nickelodeon when I was a youngin' will never call her Deborah). To be honest, I didn't even remember she was in this (or Lamas), but I got psyched when I saw her in the credits. Unfortunately, her delivery is pretty flat throughout the whole thing. Instead of harping on it, just watch this Debbie Gibson video from the 80s. I wanted the official one, but couldn't find it (which means I couldn't find it with a simple search of YouTube).

There was one bright spot in the movie (and not the digitally inserted ones) in the form of Sean Lawlor who played Debbie's professor. I'm not quite sure if he's that good or if he's just really good compared to everyone else. Holy crap, he was in Space Truckers! Oh IMDb, you never cease to impress me.

So, yeah, this is a bad movie. If you read this interview and, hopefully, HMAD's, and you still want to check it out, you're beyond help, but you can't say I didn't warn you.

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Outlander Was Surprisingly Good

I say surprisingly because the only thing I ever heard about Outlander (2008) is that it feature Vikings vs. aliens. In fact, when it was released on DVD in the last couple of weeks everyone referred to it as such. So, I added it to the top of my queue as I'm want to do with delayed movies and forgot about it. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

The funny thing about watching movies on the train is that I don't have any information on the movie, just what's in front of me. Having put the disc in the player the night before and not reading any of the Netflix disc info I thought I was watching a really impressive movie from no name actors. It wasn't until I looked the movie up on IMDb that Jesus himself starred. I'm pretty sure I've never seen Jim Caviezel in anything, so he just looked like any other dude to me and I definitely didn't recognize Ron Perlman with all that Viking gear on (and sans Hellboy trench coat). William Hurt's in it too, but he just looked like an old guy to me.

I'd like to flesh out the plot a little bit more for you guys too, assuming there aren't a lot of people who saw it (according to Wiki it was only given a one week release, which is a shame because it's one of the best original sci-fi movies I've seen in a while). It's kind of a mix between Halo, Planet of the Apes, Predator, Alien, Pathfinder (but not shitty) with a few other references/homages thrown in like The Fugitive. Our main character is actually an alien of the space marine variety. He crashes on Earth during Viking times and helps them fight a rad-looking alien monster thing called the Moorwen.

Speaking of the Moorwen, the filmmakers did a great job creating the beast and really had fun with all the tail-whips and whatnot, but the really interesting aspect of the creature for me was the fact that it utilized bioluminescence to lure it's prey (and to look like a rave at times). It's just a cool idea that I haven't seen before and the effects looked really good. Maybe it's because I was watching it on a tiny screen, but I hope it would have looked just as good on my big TV.

It might sound kind of a straightforward plot, but there are all kinds of reveals and not the crazy twist kinds, just past-revealing moments that really flesh out the plot. Turns out our hero may not have been such a good dude and the Moorwen might have been victims themselves. There's also a whole other mess going on between Hurt and Perlman's people. Plus, the films I rattled off above don't get copied exactly by any means, it's just hard to watch any alien movie without thinking of Alien or Predator. Outlander takes all the elements, adds their own twists, mixes in the Viking stuff and blends them together in a nice cocktail, kind of like how Doomsday took all these rad elements and put them together, though I think it's a bit smoother in Outlander (and with fewer ingredients).

If you're an action, sci-fi fan or even a horror fan (there's lots of blood, caves, monsters and corpses), you should definitely check it out.

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wizard World Philly Video Update!

Hey gang, I know I've posted a lot today (partly to make up for my lackluster posting over the past few weeks, partly because I've finally figured out how to do timed posts!), but I had to make another addition tonight. Em did some looking on YouTube and found some videos on YouTube of the crazy Saturday night party I mentioned earlier!

First up a bunch of Kaiju Big Battle clips, starting with the best from down on the floor then moving up closer to where we were in the balcony.

And now, Skeletor! You can hear him sing the blues in the first clip and then Justin actually gets on stage in the last clip but we don't hear him sing!

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wizard World Philly Weekend

Last night Em and I got back from Wizard World Philly and, as always, it was a trip.

After picking up Justin and Rickey , we got to the show Friday morning and got right to work after getting some lunch after checking in. The highlight of my day was sort of moderating a Q&A panel with Tom Savini, a man whose work I've been enjoying since I started watching horror movies. I say "sort of" because Tom handled the thing pretty much on his own while I struggled with a laptop. For anyone in attendance, I swear I'm slightly more adept at computers than I appeared at the panel. Tom was a great sport though and once we got everything up and running he showed off the next installment of Chill Factor, which was a story he wrote and directed and had the students that work with him to learn filmmaking do the rest. It was pretty rad, so keep an eye out for it. Em was even nice enough to video tape the whole thing, so maybe I'll get it up on YouTube at some point. I didn't, however, get a picture with him because I was running around so much.

Later that day there was a big toy industry panel that was super interesting, just like last years'. Look for more information on that in ToyFare. Friday night we grabbed lunch at a place called the Field House (you can actually spend the full weekend at WWP without going outside if you want to because so many things are connected around there). After that we headed down the hotel bar and had a good time. It's always fun to sit there and see who you'll run into. I ended up talking to guys like Shane Davis, Dennis Calero and Matt Serra, a fighter who was super nice. Plus, you always see random people walking through the lobby.

After a late night we got up and headed back over to the convention center. If you guys didn't hear, Jesse Falcon showed off some potential future Marvel Legends for 2010 at his panel (X-Force Warpath, Lady Bullseye and Maddrox!). It was rad getting a peek at those and we'll be getting more info at SDCC.

After that I headed over to Emma Caufield's booth and escorted her to her panel room which was packed. For those of you who might not know, she's Anya from Buffy. She did a great job and everyone really seemed to have a great time with it. As a Buffy fan, I was one of those people having a great time. I'm really hoping that the future projects she talked about come out quickly.


Right after that we had a really great Customizing 101 panel with Matt "Iron Cow" Cauley, Bobby Torres (why can't I find a link?!) and Pierre "Airmax" Kalenzaga. I learned a lot about toy customizing and I really want to give it a go. Now I need a studio. Or a man cave. I'm still hoping for man cave.

But, the big event of the night for us toy guys was the second annual ToyFare Hall of Fame awards. It was great seeing most of last year's winners along with this years' (Jesse Falcon, Tim Bruckner and Aaron Archer from Hasbro for Transformers, Randy Bowen couldn't make it). Justin did a great job with the presentation and I muddled through with my Power Point presentation. I think it went well and everyone was really happy.

That night Wizard threw a party along with Kaiju Big Battle at a place called The Trocadero that was a 130 years old. As you may be able to see from the picture we were up in the balcony looking down on the fight. It was pretty crazy, though a little slow. Tired from standing all day, a few of us migrated into the adjoining room where karaoke ended up taking place. But it took a while. A bunch of the people we were with filled out the slips to sing and we were sitting there waiting and the room got PACKED. Then some guy said something about Skeletor. I had no idea what that was about until freaking Skeletor showed up. This guy was great, but what no one knew was that it was a gong show. So, you got up to sing and he'd gong you. Sam got gonged unceremoniously early which was BS, but Justin, Alex and Jim all got up there and rocked the mic. I missed a full on, all dude version of "I Am The Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor" because Em and I had to bolt, but it was worth it cause I think I would have passed out if I stayed in that room any longer. Check out the slideshow below for some incredibly blurry photos of the creepy stairs up to the bar, the Kaiju battle, the karaoke area, Justin, Sam and Alex singing. Plus some shots of Skeletor. Maybe I'll tell people I did all this in Photoshop.

After that we met back up in the lobby where I got to meet some more cool people, but the funniest thing was seeing a bunch of people who just got back from a wedding reception at about 12:30AM looking at Lou Ferrigno walking away and being absolutely shocked. I'm guessing they didn't know anything about the con and that was a pretty awesome experience for them.

Sunday was slower because it didn't last as long, which was good because I think most of us were pretty exhausted. Justin, Alex and I had a Twisted ToyFare Theatre panel that was a lot of fun. We got a lot of good questions and it's funny because I'm starting to recognize the people that show up to the toy panels. I also plugged the blog after some cajoling, so hopefully one or two of you guys made your way over here and are liking the site.


The highlight of the day though was getting a sketch by Steve Dillon. I am a huge, HUGE Preacher fan and got him to do a Jesse Custer, which was well worth the donation to Hero Initiative. Heck, I would have probably paid my last paycheck (don't tell Em). I don't think Em had ever seen me geek out that much, I was super psyched. After that we got our things together, I had yet another cheesesteak (with whiz, this time, it's way better that way) and we made the long trek back through New Jersey.

All in all, it was hard work, but a ton of fun as cons tend to be. The people I talked to all seemed to have a good time and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Oh, DO go on.

Fanboys (2008)

Before I start getting my post-Wizard World Philly post together (here's a preview, Skeletor karaoke) together I just wanted to say a few words on Fanboys, which Em and I just finished watching. Maybe it's because I just experienced fanboy-ness to the extreme this weekend and my inner fanboy was all over the place, but I REALLY liked this movie.

The story's about four (eventually five) lifelong Star Wars fans in 1999 who are anxiously waiting for Episode I to hit theaters, but the problem is that one of the guys has cancer and they don't think he'll last the six months until the premiere. So, they go on a road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch to watch a rough cut of the movie before it opens. Of course there are plenty of hijinks along the way and TONS of guest appearances and geek injokes. There was a lot of trouble getting this movie into theaters because the powers that be weren't sure whether they wanted to keep the cancer plot in the movie. Well, I was excited about this flick since I first heard about it and can't imagine how bad it would be without that element behind the plot. It really is the heart of the movie and I'll be honest, the end got to me. Even more so than Darth killing the Emperor. Now, you know that's serious.

I was worried that I wouldn't like the movie because the guys on the Totally Rad Show didn't like it very much. Our tastes don't match up perfectly, but I do respect their opinions and ours match up a good deal of the time. I think the wait hurt the movie and it really is kind of a big injoke, so I can see why your big audiences wouldn't have wanted to check it out. Em's seen all the Star Wars movies, but she's nowhere near the geek I am, so she didn't necessarily pick up on all the things I did, but she still dug it. If you haven't seen Star Wars, it's probably not the best flick for you. It's kind of like how you might be able to enjoy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, unless you've seen all of Kevin Smith's movies a bunch of time. By the way, Kevin Smith makes a cameo I didn't know about that had my laughing like crazy. But, in the end, I really liked it and recommend it to all my Star Wars brethren. Plus, it makes fun of Trekkies, so that's cool.

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Finally, The Perfect Synthesis of Star Wars, Star Trek and Hip Hop

Now that the Star Trek hype has settled down, I bet you, like me, thought you wouldn't be seeing any more Star Trek references on TV or in music videos. That'd be kinda lame right? Kind of out of touch? Well, like Eminem , Dream disagrees with my sentiments.

I've gotta warn you, this song is stupid, even Kanye's part is just okay, which is too bad because his first two albums are pretty rad. But, if you're looking for what looks like the bridge of the USS Enterprise on the Millennium Falcon, then this is the video for you.

The-Dream - Walking On The Moon (feat. Kanye West)

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iron Mongering: The Armor Wars

A couple weekends back, Em wanted to watch Iron Man again, so we did and it was great once again. I do wish the end fight would have been a little bit more awesome and well-balanced instead of so clearly one-sided on Iron Monger's side. Anyway, it got me thinking that, over a year ago, I decided to check out various Iron Man stories and talk about whether a newbie would be able to jump right in and enjoy it or not. Well, with the news that Mickey Rourke is playing an armored version of Whiplash and pictures even surfacing, I think Armor Wars might actually be a good place for people looking to get a jump on the potential story behind Iron Man 2.

As the folks over at Slash Film have pointed out, the first two press photos from Iron Man 2 seem to be connected, with Tony Stark looking at what looks like a model of the arc reactor that Whiplash is wearing. I'm going to go one step further and guess that there might be some Armor Wars elements in the film. You see, the plot behind Armor Wars is that Tony Stark discovers that all these different armored villains (and even some heroes) have been using his Iron Man technology to commit crimes. This pisses Tony off and he goes rogue, taking out heroes and villains in a single minded attempt to neutralize their armors.

So, maybe in that first picture we're seeing Tony discovering Whiplash ripped off his armor tech and he's pissed. Sure, it's an awful lot of guessing, but that's what blog are for right?

Okay, so back to the trade. It's written by David Michelinie, pencilled by Mark Bright and one issue by Barry Windsor-Smith and inked and co-plotted by Bob Layton. The book collects Iron Man #224-232. I've already gone through the basics of the story, but the devil's in the details as Tony Stark goes a little crazy trying to neutralize the armors, he even attacks a superhero, and member of the Avengers, Stingray to do so. What I really like about the story is how nicely it fits into the overall Marvel universe. It mostly has Iron Man characters and villains, but it crosses over into other arenas when necessary, like when SHIELD gets involved or when the Avengers (the West Coast Avengers to be exact) show up to ask Iron Man what the heck is going on.

But, that being said, I don't think this would be a difficult book for someone whose only experience with Iron Man is the movie. You've got Rhodey and Tony and SHIELD, elements you'd be familiar with and the villains and other heroes get explained pretty well in the book itself, but if you're ever confused, I'd suggest hitting up Wikipedia, like when a dude called The Captain shows up looking kinda sorta like Captain America (it really is him, I promise).

So, in addition to being a compelling story, I think Armor Wars makes a lot of sense as a first look as far as comics go for new fans. It's also a good book for current comic fans to check out if they thought Tony's actions over the past few years seem to have come out of nowhere. This book put a few things in Civil War into context for me, though I still think no character has been screwed over and mishandled quite as much as Iron Man, though I keep hearing good things about Invincible Iron Man, I just haven't been able to scrape the trades together.

One other thing I wanted to mention, and it's really more of an oddity, is the size of the trade I read. I got it along with an original Guardians of the Galaxy trade in a Swap from Sequential Swap (seriously, you should all join this rad service) and both of them are kind of a funny size. You can see a scan of the cover itself, which I believe is different than the current trade cover, below followed by a scan of a regular sized comic overtop of the trade. As you can see, the trade is a little shorter and a little longer than your average comic, so they had to shrink and maybe stretch the pages when they reprinted them. Or maybe they're just shrunk. I didn't really notice anything while reading it, I just thought it was odd. Checking the date, this trade was created in 1990, back when there weren't a lot of trades being produced, just the big, big stories like Armor Wars... and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Oh, DO go on.

Best Of The Best: High Fidelity (The Movie)

For a few years now I've been on this absorption kick, trying to watch as many new movies and TV shows, read as many new books, comics and trades and listen to as much new music as possible. And by "new" I mean new to me, not necessarily brand new. This has probably been going on since right after college. In college I didn't have a lot of money, but I'd still check out new movies at the theater and on the rare occasion when I could rent something, so that left me to peruse my personal DVD collection and those of my friends'. Well, one movie that I saw in high school, which spurred me on to read the book and then eventually watch the movie over and over again was High Fidelity (2000).

When I first saw High Fidelity in high school I was pretty enamored with the idea of working in a record store (still am really). I also really liked the idea of Top 5 lists, discovering new music and hanging out with music nerds and musicians. It wasn't until I read the novel that I realized how weird of a guy Rob (the main character, played by John Cusack) is. Saying the dude has relationship problems and issues with women is like saying Michael Myers is irked by promiscuous teenagers. Anyway, Em and I watched High Fidelity on the car ride back to Ohio about a month ago (well, I recited every line in my head while she watched it for the first time on our portable DVD player). It was probably the first time in three years that I watched it. I used to watch it about once a month my Junior year of college when my roommate would be away from the room at night, it was his copy, so I had to buy my own once he graduated later that year.

It's funny how different I look at things now that I'm older. I still love all of Jack Black's lines and still want to a own a magical record store that doesn't go bankrupt, but I look at Rob a lot differently now. I see how damaged he is and wonder what happened to him. I'm also glad that things worked out for him by the end of the movie, but also wonder if they stuck. Maybe when he turned 40 or 50 he flipped out and went through another crazy decade or something. Basically, I've been thinking about how these characters that were so important to me when I was maturing, dealt with further maturation, cause this growing up stuff can really suck.

Philosophy aside, I actually got into an argument with someone in the middle of a movie for my film class in college over High Fidelity. The movie was called Mifune (1999) and is from Denmark. The main woman in the movie is taking care of her mentally handicapped brother who's obsessed with Toshiro Mifune, an actor in many an Akira Kurosawa film. I think there was something about aliens too, but who can remember all those subtitles? Anyway, I got into an argument saying that the main female character was Laura from High Fidelity and whoever I was with was completely convinced I was wrong. Well, I went right home and IMDbed her and was right Iben Hjejle was in both, so suck it whoever that was. Knowing that, it explains a few of Laura's vocal ticks that always made me curious.

So, I guess I haven't really explained why I like High Fidelity so much, but I'm not really sure if I could. I don't know how into the movie I would be if I hadn't fallen in love with it when I was younger. It's like, I didn't like Reality Bites when I first saw it because I thought Ben Stiller shouldn't have been such a pussy, but maybe if I was really into the idea of making films that would have been enough to keep me hooked. I should check Reality Bites out again actually, it's been a while. Anyway, I used to wonder when I was in high school if I would still really like movies like Empire Records and Dazed & Confused when I got older, because I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High with my dad one time and I don't think he enjoyed it as much, probably because you remember things like Phoebe Cates' boobs and not that abortion stuff. Well, luckily for me (at least so far) I still like a lot of those movies. It's a weird combination of quality and fondness, I'm guessing, with a sliding scale depending on the flick. High Fidelity still strikes a chord with me, but I wonder if 50-year-old TJ will be reclining in his hoverchair and still enjoying watching John Cusack go through his Top 5 Break-Ups Of All Time on my holo-glasses with the same enjoyment as I do now. If not, I at least hope I'll still remember all of Jack Black's lines. Let's just hope I'm not wearing a Cosby sweater while watching.

Oh, and anyone wonder how close the movie is to the book, it's super freaking close. Like, so close they turned the book into the script word for word. Well, it's not British, but everything else is in there, just peep the deleted scenes for scenes from the book that didn't make it into the movie (I love the stuff with the jilted wife trying to sell her cheating husband's record collection). There was also a musical on Broadway that I missed out on, but Ben saw, hopefully he (or anyone else who's seen it) will comment. Hopefully next there will be a video game to continue the slow media evolution of this property. Just think of how much fun it's be to kick the shit out of this f#cking Ian guy in a myriad of different scenarios? Get working on that Flash dudes.

Also, check out this video I just discovered on YouTube, I've never seen it before!

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Charging Ahead: Charles in Charge Season 2

I've made no secret of my love for the first season of Charles in Charge. The first season was awesome and even though I talked about how choppy the transition from the first family (Season One) to the second family (Seasons Two through Five) was, I enjoyed Season Two just as much as One.

The funniest thing about going through the episodes is when memories flood back and soak me in decades old thoughts. This first happened on the second episode of the season called "The Naked Truth." Charles takes Adam to his art class with Buddy. Charles wants to go because there's a girl in the class he has a thing for. Then it turns out that said girl is the live nude model. I can't point out the exact moment, but at some point, I remembered the scene shot for shot. I'm pretty sure this is the first "naked lady" I ever saw, even though you only get a look at her feet as the robe drops and a shoulders-up shot of her. That was wild.

Memories aside, the show impressed me with how honest it was. Charles and Buddy didn't straight out say they wanted to bang chicks, like a normal college guy might today, but they definitely allude to it in creative, sitcommy ways. But, the thing I love about this show is that it's got heart, it's honest, and it's funny. There's one part where Charles is trying to deal with his mother visiting and he refers to how she's always treating him like a kid to which Buddy responds with something like "She cleaned your diaper, there's no way she can see you as an adult." I'm sure I'm not the only one who's felt like this at one time or another.

Since it's summer and most of the good shows are off the air, I highly recommend for everyone to give Charles In Charge another look, especially because you can watch it on Netflix Instant Watch. I can really never watch just one episode, it's usually a group at a time, which leads to some sleepy train rides sometimes, but it's worth it. My only problem is that the last two seasons aren't available on DVD yet and, as far as I know, haven't been put on any production schedules yet. Anyone else want to start a petition with me?

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Interview With Harold Ramis

Sometimes work doesn't really feel like work, especially when you're getting paid to talk to world famous forces of comedy like Harold Ramis. The latest issue of ToyFare (#144, now on stands, go buy it!) has a group of features I'm really proud of where we talk about how awesome 1984 was. To go along with the theme, we shot Mattel's upcoming Ghostbusters figures for the cover and, after months of trying, an interview with Harold Ramis co-writer of the film and, duh, Egon.

I got an email about the interview on the Monday before we closed, did it on Tuesday or Wednesday and then frantically transcribed as much as I could because we closed the issue that Friday. Since you hopefully want to support me, you've already purchased the issue and read the small portion of the nearly 40 minute interview, but now you can read the whole thing over at He was really nice and smart and funny (jeez, I sound like we went on a date), but he was also one of the best interviews I've ever done (and that roster includes Joel Silver, Mr. T, Stan Lee and John Landis). I probably could have talked to him for a day, really, but didn't want to come off compeltely crazy. Plus, my mouth gets really dry when I get nervous and I'm always the exact same level of nervous (very) no matter who I'm talking to. So, go check it out already!

Oh, DO go on.

Halloween Scene: My Bloody Valentine (2009)

Faithful Kicking It Old School readers will remember that I only recently saw the original My Bloody Valentine, so it's not like I have a huge amount of love for the original, even though I did like it. I was actually pretty excited when I heard about the remake, mostly because it would be in 3D. I'm sorry to say that it wasn't playing in 3D anywhere near me and I got the DVD through Netflix, so I still haven't seen it in 3D, but you bet your ass I'm gonna see the Pirana 3D remake when it comes out.

I ended up liking about 75% of MBV. The kills were cool, the cast was good and unlike, say, Friday the 13th III, I didn't feel like I was watching a lesser movie because it wasn't in 3D. Yes there are some gags solely filmed for the 3D audience, but it's nothing cheesy like a yo-yo at the camera. Oh, plus, the killer in this movie, and the original, has one of the coolest and creepiest designs of all time. Love that mask and the all-black suit.

Before getting into the negative, a few more notes on the good stuff. The cast was rad. I even liked Jensen Ackles' performance, dry as it may be, it fits his character. I wouldn't be surprised if that dude ends up playing a superhero soon. I could even see him as Captain America if they wanted a younger guy (but, Matt Damon's still my number one pick, age be damned). Fellow CW/WB alumni (Ackles is on Supernatural) Kerr Smith (Jack from Dawson's Creek) also does a good job as the cop who seems like the prime suspect throughout the flick (unless you count his deputy who seems thrown in just to be a kinda-sorta suspect). It was also nice to see Jaime King again. I can't for the life of me remember where I remember her from, but I feel like she was involved with something on MTV when I was younger. She gives a serviceable performance, though I never buy her as a mom. I also got the feeling that she was overacting a little because she was in a remake of an 80s horror movie. Or maybe that's just how she acts, I've got nothing to compare it to.

My favorite two bits of casting though are of the two main older guys in town. You've got Tom Atkins of Halloween 3, Night of the Creeps and Lethal Weapon fame. I just love that guy. Kevin Tighe is the other old guy in town that matters. It's not a name you might recognize, but you'll definitely recognize his face as Locke's asshole dad from Lost and from one of the best movies of all time Road House. And, SPOILER WARNING, they both get pretty amazing death scenes. I've never wanted to see a jaw flying at my face in 3D more in my life!

I've also got to give credit to the screenwriters and director Patrick Lussier for using the original movie like you would use images from a magazine to make a collage. The good elements (suspense over who the killer is, the killer's look, the relationships, the party scene at the mine, the hearts in the heart boxes, etc.) are all there, just not in the exact same order as they were in the original, which is nice, because otherwise there aren't any surprises. There were two specific scenes I really hoped got carried over from the original and they were: a woman in a laundry machine (though not in the same manner as the original which was cool) and the scene where the killer walks down the mine shaft knocking out the lights. That's an awesome scene and they even added their own special effect/edit to it to make it their own.

Which brings me to what I didn't like and this is definitely SPOILER territory because it has to do with the reveal of who the killer is. Now, because I had seen the original, I knew there was a twist. I was never convinced it was Harry Warden (the guy who went crazy 10 years ago and killed people and whose body was never recovered), but that's because I'd seen the original. So, it basically comes down to Ackles and Smith because everyone else is either dead or has been chased by the killer. Then we get a scene where Ackles gets attacked by the killer along with another guy down in the mine. So, you think it's gotta be Smith unless it really is the red herring deputy. So, you spend a good chunk of the movie expecting it to be Smith (who is married to King, even though King and Ackles have history as lovers as seen in the opening "10 years earlier" scenes). At this point I'm thinking that this isn't very suspenseful because Smith's gotta be the killer, right? Then it turns out that Ackles is crazy and has absorbed/co-opted the Harry Warden persona and has been killing everyone without knowing it. They don't explain it, but I'm guessing split personality or whatever. The problem with this reveal is that I have a hard time rooting for the mentally sick guy to get his just deserts. That's not how I get my horror rocks off.

And, unfortunately, the ending kind of taints the rest of the movie for me, kind of like High Tension, though this makes a lot more sense after the reveal. I do wish we would have gotten a little more explanation about Ackles' condition. We hear over the walkie talkie that he was in a mental institute and we see him popping pills throughout the movie, but his malady is never explained and it seems like the filmmakers could have easily done that in the aftermath scene. I'm usually not in favor of having things spoon-fed to me, but I think it would have been appropriate in this case. Plus, if a dude has been mentally unstable for years, would laywers really let him have control over a mine that his dead father owned? Who knows.

Overall, it's an okay horror movie. I think I'd rather watch the original again even though this one looked really really slick on the nice TV. I would definitely watch it again if someone had the 3D glasses. Heck, maybe Lionsgate will release a 2-pack, that'd be rad. I'd buy that.

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Trade Post: Pedro & Me

Written last night:

Hey guys, I'm guessing that if you're one of my friends from home or college or someone who stumbled upon this site thanks to a Google search and stuck around for whatever reason who doesn't read comics, you probably skip over a lot of the comic-related posts. I highly encourage you to check this one out about Judd Winick's graphic novel Pedro & Me (2000) because, like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, it's a book that I think anyone can get something out of, even if you're not used to comics

My buddy Ben picked up Pedro & Me recently and passed it to me when he was done with it. It sat for about a week until last when I passed by, picked it up and read it in one sitting. Man, this is a powerful book. Judd was on the third season of Real World with Pedro. Judd was a cartoonist and Pedro had been living with AIDS for years, giving talks about it and taking the opportunity to show the world what a gay man with AIDS really looks like. Judd and Pedro became close friends, so close that Judd was there when Pedro passed away from complications due to AIDS. He would go on to write and draw a memoir of his friendship with Pedro, Pedro & Me.

Regular readers know how much of a fan of the Real World I am, so it might come as something of a surprise that it's taken me 9 years to read this book. I'm also a big, big fan of Judd's comic book writing (he's written Batman, Green Lantern, Outsiders and Green Arrow, plus way more). I don't have a real reason why I hadn't read Pedro & Me until now, but I'm really glad I finally did.

Judd tells his story with such simplicity that I think anyone can really enjoy it. It starts off as the story of two boys growing up separately and then turns into the story of their meeting and subsequent friendship until it morphs into a story of death and living life after. Yes it's sad, but it's also happy, like life, and has a beating heart at the center of it that practically pulses through the pages.

I don't want to get too much into the details because that's the whole point of reading the story, which I really want you to do. As I mentioned, Judd has gone on to work on a ton of mainstream comics and he tends to include characters living with AIDS, gay characters and other true-to-life situations that other writers might shy away from. I've heard people give him flack for it, but I'm guessing those people haven't read Pedro & Me, because after reading it you can really fell how changed Judd was and how he still wants to get the word out about gay rights, HIV and AIDS and I commend him for it.

Oh, DO go on.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Can You Believe Joel Schumacher Wrote Car Wash?

That's right folks, the man behind Batman & Robin, Falling Down, Number 23, Phone Booth, Bad Company and a bunch of other movies, wrote the 1976 movie Car Wash, about one day's work in a California car wash. Think of it as an Empire Records-type, one day glimpse at the relationships, drama and regular work that goes into keeping a place running.

I was flipping through my Netflix online queue Friday night and decided on Car Wash because it wasn't very long AND George Carlin and Richard Pryor were emblazoned on the cover. I kind of figured this was one of those occurrences where somewhat unknown actors who would go on to be famous were in the movie or they didn't have big parts, but were still featured because they were names, thus garnering them the box art. I'm not sure which was the case, but Pryor has one scene (though he shows up in a picture on a wall) and Carlin plays a cab driver trying to get paid.

The real focus of the story lands on all the guys working in the car wash and the owner. There are a few familiar faces in the group. SNL's Garrett Morris is there as is a young Bill Duke (Mac in Predator) playing the angry black man. Also, Otis Day who kinda plays himself in Animal House is there as Lloyd, half of the Lloyd and Floyd singing team with high hopes. Lorrain Gray even makes an appearance as the mother of a boy who can't stop puking. I recognized her but couldn't place it, but thanks to IMDb, I now know that she played Ellen Brody in Jaws. Connections to SNL, Animal House, Predator and Jaws? How can you go wrong?

The thing about Car Wash is that there's a lot going on. The car wash employs a TON of people, all of whom seem to have a side story (one guys' having trouble with his lady, the other's parole officer shows up, another's trying to get with a girl who works nearby), plus you've got various customers, the owner of the car wash and a subplot about a mad bomber. But even with all that it feels like a complete movie. There isn't much in the way of resolution at the end of the movie, but I kind of like that. This is just one day out of many in their lives. Maybe things will change tomorrow, but they probably won't. It's kind of fun to think about where things would have gone the next day. It's a nice slice of life.

One character I do want to point out for my fellow geeks is TC. He's the guy trying to get the girl of his dreams to pay attention to him. He's also trying to win concert tickets on the radio (something I tried and succeeded at a time or two in high school). Also, also, he's created a superhero called The Fly that he wears on his T-shirt. I think he created it. TC compares him
to Superman, which is fun. Now that I think about it, TC might be the main character, but it really is hard to say because of ensemble cast.

So, yeah, Schumaker wrote this and The Wiz! Go figure. It's worth checking out if you've got an hour and a half and want to see a lot of familiar faces, plus a guy that looks like one of the Black Eyed Peas.

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yeah, There's Actually A Movie Called Solarbabies

And it's not that bad actually. Solarbabies (1986) is a mix of Logan's Run, Mad Max and Goonies with a made-up sport called Skateball in it. I had never heard about this flick until sometime last year when someone recommended it for ToyFare's craziest fictional sports feature. Well, I found my way to checking the movie out finally and it was a lot of fun. But also annoying. I'll explain.

The movie stars Michael from Lost Boys (Jason Patric), the mom from Still Standing (Jami Gertz who was also in Lost Boys), Dom DeLuise's son (Peter), the older brother from Heroes (Adrian Pasdar) and the kid who played Ryan White in the TV movie (Lukas Haas) plus a few other kids as a group of kids who live in a post-apocalyptic, post-Eco War desert orphanage where they've taken to playing Skateball. Skateball's a a combination of hockey (but with roller skates), lacrosse and roller derby with a goal in the middle of the rink. Like in Logan's Run or The Island, the kids are told that there's nothing out in the real world and that this is all there is. Of course, that doesn't last after the youngest of the group, Lukas, finds a glowing ball called Bohdi (not Patrick Swayze's character from Point Break, but wouldn't that be awesome?). Anyway, after a spirited game of Skateball with Bodhi, Pasdar's character swoops in, grabs him and heads off into the desert and soon enough the kids (the Solarbabies) head out to find him and make sure the eco cops don't destroy him/it.

Alright, enough with the summary, there are a few things I want to specifically mention. First off, Lukas is super, SUPER annoying in this movie, like Edward Furlong in T2 annoying but times 100. He's oddly effeminate and not just in the way that all little kids are. His wardrobe doesn't help as he's either wearing a pink helmet, off-the-shoulder sweatshirt (think Flashdance) or, at one point, a suit of old lady clothes made out of old tires. His voice and delivery are also grating. He goes from being a normal kid with a high pitched voice to this ultra annoying kid who sounds like he's in LOVE with everything. He gets all wispy and it freaks me out. Wow, now I've resorted to picking on a 10 year old kid in 1986, that's not quite fair.

What is fair is making fun of the douchey bully kid from the orphanage who somehow gets upgraded from regular orphan to eco cop at the exact same time as the Solarbabies escape. The funny thing is that he walks around like he's big shit even before joining the eco pigs. Yeah, being the coolest kid in a desert orphanage where you get water rations is like being the strongest guy at computer camp, sure you're bigger than everyone else but you're still all locked in the same shitty life. After coming up with that analogy, he got to leave the orphanage, so what do I know?

One other complaint I have is the title of this movie. Solarbabies? Really? This is what you decided to call what looks like a slightly big budget flick? Bad choice folks. Heck, they don't even play Skateball during the day, so it doesn't really make sense. The general-or-whatever of the eco police comes to the guy who runs the orphanage and comments on it being soft name and all the warden has to say is that they don't need to be intimidating because they always win. Yeah, and? I don't even think the kids call themselves Solarbabies at any time.

Okay, aside from all that stuff, I would still recommend Solarbabies (maybe just call it Skateball or something, because those scenes are pretty rad). Kind of like The Island, you get a mix of other movies that all work together really well and tell a story you haven't seen quite in this way. It's not highly original, but it's definitely fun. I especially like in their travels when they come to Tire Town a place where everything is made out of either discarded tires or cars. They play with that in the sets and props really well to excellent results. Plus, it's always fun to watch actors when they were younger. I'll be honest I didn't recognize Pasdar at all and Gertz looked really familiar to me but I couldn't nail her down and I recognized her more from Still Standing that Lost Boys.

One funny thing about the movie is that they skate everywhere in the desert wasteland. Have you ever tried skating on anything other than a rink or blacktop? It's not easy. Luckily for them, there seem to be paths from one place to another that are smooth enough for skating :)

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wipeout Is Awesome!

Guys, if you're not watching ABC's Wipeout at 8:00PM on Wednesday's you're crazy. Or commies. Either way, you should stop being that and start watching this.

So, Wipeout is a lot like Most Extreme Challenge, but with Americans. You've got people going through increasingly difficult and ridiculous challenges for $50,000. Now, I guess that might sound like not a lot of money compared to some other gameshows, but, dudes, I'd do that for FREE. It's like the Eliminator from American Gladiators, but several times in one episode. It's awesome.

If you watched last year and couldn't get into it, give it another shot, because they've gotten a lot more creative with the challengers. In fact, last week's episode and the one that just ended had very little in common. It's amazing. Watch the clip then watch the show:

Oh, DO go on.

Kurtzman and Orci's The Legend of Zorro (2005)

Leave it to fate to present me with one of the few movies written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci that I haven't seen after writing a post about them.

Usually I don't like to watch movies I haven't seen before on TV, but I'm guessing there weren't a lot of scenes cut out of The Legend of Zorror for TBS on Saturday. I did have to suffer through two hosts who annoyed the crap out of me. Why do networks find it necesarry to put people like this on as hosts of a movie? Even if the movie is sponsored by someone specific (in this case San Diego's Sea World), just show a bunch of extra commercials or videos of Shamoo launching people through the air. If they're not going to add anything to the movie (like Dave Holmes does), then skip it.

Anyway, rant aside, I remember liking the original 1998 Mask of Zorro quite a bit, especially the legacy aspect of the hero (I'm a sucker for that). The funny thing is that I don't even remember this movie coming out. Ah well. We catch up with Zorro who's been married to Catherine Zeta-Jones for 10 years and they have a kid, so he gave up being Zorro (or maybe just for a short time, I'm not completely clear on that as I missed the first 10-15 minutes). Anyway, he gets pushed to far and finally gets to Zorro some dudes and it's awesome.

The sword fights are cool, there's explosions and fireworks, Antonio Banderas is awesome as always, Catherine Zeta-Jones is super pretty and also kicks some ass, the kid is pretty good at kicking ass himself AND Michael Emerson (that's right, Ben from Lost), is in it. This is the only thing I know that I've seen him in after seeing him on Lost and he's good in this too. The movie's directed by Marin Campbell who also did Goldeneye and Casino Royale and is, as of now, slated to direct the Green Lantern movie I am really looking forward to. Like Rush Hour 3, it's a great popcorn movie and I will make a point of watching it again if I stumble across it on TV again. Once again, well done Kurtzman and Orci, your record remains untarnished (I should really give Mission Impossible III another watch, it's just so hard buying Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a villain!).

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Best Of The Best: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Wow, my memory sucks. I know there's a reason why I picked up one of my all-time favorite books The Perks of Being a Wallflower again, but I can't for the life of me remember now. And I only started re-reading it a few days ago.

On that same theme, I can't quite remember why I picked the book up in the first place. I know I was in high school and saw commercials for it on MTV (it was published by MTV Books, which I think is now defunct), but I can't remember specifically why I bought it. I do remember a young lady named Emily (not my Em) being involved, she either read it first and suggested it to me or vice versa. I guess it's not really that important.

Anyway, I've now read the book twice as I very rarely read books more than once because it can take me a long time to read and I usually have a stack of new books waiting to be read, but something drew me to reading it again. It actually took me longer to read it this time than that first time in high school. Then I read the whole 213 page book in a night, this time it took me a couple days thanks to me being an old man who falls asleep before midnight on the weekdays now.

But damn, this is an amazing book. I've never read something that so accurately captures how I felt in high school (and still now to some extent) without describing a single event I experienced in high school. Our main character, Charlie, goes through some pretty crazy shit during his first year of high school, good and bad, and, even though I didn't go through most of these things myself, I can relate to the emotion behind them. I also used to have mild panic attacks (at least that's what I self-diagnosed them as in high school) which the author Stephen Chbosky captures perfectly.

I don't want to get into too many details about the actual story, which is told through letters that Charlie writes to someone he doesn't really know. All we get are Charlie's descriptions to this mystery person about his life, friends, family and all the trials and tribulations that come from living in a modern society. I really think there's something in here that everyone can relate to, unless you somehow had a perfect high school experience, but I'm guessing if you're reading a blog, you didn't.

I will note that, the first time I read the book I was somewhat obsessed with trying to figure out who Charlie really was, but I had to keep reminding myself it's just a book. I was even trying to figure out how I could get a look at the Penn State football team roster for the 1991 season to try and spot his brother. I don't remember actually doing that, but that's how well Chbosky fleshes his character out, you feel like he's real. You worry about him when things are bad and feel warm when things are good.

A few things struck me this time around. I know that I liked this book when I read it, but I'm wondering how much influence it had over me without me even knowing it. First off, I kind of think like Charlie a little which weirds me out. I'm not sure if my train of thought chugged along on similar tracks before I read the book or after, but the whole back and forth thought patterns, sometimes having trouble staying on topic felt very familiar.

I also share with Charlie an affection for literature, even though I've gotten away from it since graduating from college. Bill, his English teacher, gives him extra books to read and do reports on because he sees Charlie's potential. A lot of these are classic standards that everyone's supposed to have read, but I haven't, so I might be checking a few out of the library from Ghostbusters if I can get a library card (I word a few blocks from there now).

Speaking of books, there's a very quick mention of the book The Mayor of Castro Street which Charlie gives to a friend of his after the friend comes out to him. The funny thing about this is that, years later, when Rickey and I were roommates, we went to the huge outlet mall near where we used to live (and where Em and I live now). It's mostly upscale stores that didn't offer anything we were interested in, but we did find a book store that was going out of business in a far away branch of the mall. I ended up buying a stack of books there that, so far, have all been fantastic and fascinating, including The Mayor of Castro Street. I finally got around to reading it a year or so later on my honeymoon and was very moved by it. I thought I had never heard of it, but maybe some small part of me remembered it from Perks. I dunno.

One very small thing that I noticed this time around is that when Charlie refers to his Aunt Helen the capitalization of the "a" changes over the course of the book. Being an editor I was impressed by this small bit of business. Charlie starts off by always capitalizing the "a" even when it's inaccurate, but as he goes through the school year and learns from Bill, his English teacher, he stops using it incorrectly. After a certain point he's mastered that rule, until he's high and/or freaking out and things get a little dicey grammatically as you might expect.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that I discovered a new character in this read-through, that of the person getting the letters. The only thing we find out about him or her is that Charlie heard a girl in his class mention this person to some of her friends. Charlie lays it out in the first line of the book: "I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try and sleep with a person at that party even though you could have." Can you imagine getting these kinds of letters from someone? I'd be fascinated and worried all at the same time, especially during the lengthier gaps after sadder letters. I think I'd go a little crazy. So, I guess, this time, instead of relating to Charlie the whole time I kind of related to the reader of these letters. How would I have felt in 1991 and 1992 if, out of the blue, I started getting letters like this and then they suddenly stopped before the kid's sophomore year? How did this person feel? How would you feel?

The only other people I know for sure who have read Perks are Rickey and Em, because I asked her too. She asked how my emo book was when I was re-reading it, to which I responded "It's pre-emo." But in my head that turned into "primo." So, who else has read it? What are your thoughts?

By the way, Best of the Best will be a recurring post where I talk about my favorite things. Also, I just remembered why I read Perks! Dan Trachtenberg of Totally Rad Show fame talked about it on last week's episode when they did a tour of his place! Take that really early onset Alzheimer's!

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Suckfest: Def By Temptation

Last week and the week before were pretty lackluster for me as far as picking out new movies to watch. I mentioned before that I watched the 1979 version of Dracula based on a HorrorMovieADay review I read. Now, I'm not blaming BC over there at all, I love the site and am finally caught up on his entries (a must for any horror fan), I just got really bored with the movie. I guess I just prefer my vampires a little less Victorian. So, with that in mind I checked out a movie called Def BY Temptation (1990) on Netflix and it was even worse.

With a cover like this, how could you not be interested in this movie? Sam Jackson and Dwayne Wayne (a.k.a. Kadeem Hardison) in a vampire movie directed by a guy calling himself James Bond III (who weirdly directed two episodes of The Waltons)? I do have to note that the image on Netflix didn't have the Troma logo, not that would have dissuaded me (I love Toxic Avenger).

The story as far as I can tell is that there's this female vampire who hangs out in a bar and takes unsuspecting dudes back to her house. There's also this country mouse-type dude visiting his cousin (Hardison) in the big bad city. Country Mouse gets sucked into the vampire lady's web of sexy vampire kills. I did not get very far into this movie, maybe a half hour, 45 minutes max, because it's SUPER boring. The problem is that they insist on showing the exact same thing over and over again. You see the vamp hit on a guy in the bar, bring him back to her place, get a little freaky and then she bites him. Sometimes she turns him and other times not, I think. It's really a boring movie, though according to this trailer I found on YouTube, it seems to get cooler as Kadeem and the guy who would go on to play Robbie Robertson in the Spider-Man movies go after the vampire chick, seemingly to kill her and save Country Mouse. Oh, also, Sam Jackson only shows up in a dream sequence as a preacher or something just to get killed. I have no idea if he shows up later in the film as he doesn't play a big role in the trailer.

One thing I did like about the movie was a montage of Country Mouse trying on clothes for his night on the town with Kadeem. Meanwhile, Kadeem's watching and laughing/commenting on the wacky fashion choices. Now, I love me a good montage regardless of what the subject is, but the funny thing is that this scene is VERY similar to one I just watched today in the best rollerblading movie of all time Airborne (review soon). One of you video wizzes should really splice the two together, it'd be awesome...probably.

Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed by the movie. It's not that I was expecting much (though I did love A Different World so much I actually had a pair of Dwayne Wayne flip glasses and would proudly wear adult versions today), but the fact that I can so rarely stay up late enough to watch a movie thanks to my commute that I wanted this one to be good. In the end I turned it off and watched an episode or two of Charles in Charge before calling it quits and then was dragging ass the next day. I guess I learned my lesson. For now...

Oh, DO go on.