Thursday, July 30, 2009

Train-ing Video: Death Proof (2007)

I was incredibly excited for Grindhouse and planned on seeing it in the theaters, but it wasn't meant to be. The marketing folks decided that this Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino jam fest should come on, when else, but Easter weekend? Well, I had to go to New England, so I missed it while all my friends, who were still here, went. Soon enough, Grindhouse wasn't in theaters anymore and I had to wait until the movies came out on DVD as Death Proof (Tarantino) and Planet Terror (Rodriguez). I checked them out, dug Planet Terror and was left feeling lukewarm towards Death Proof, which bummed me out cause I'm a big Tarantino fan. I gave it another shot on the train yesterday and, unfortunately, was left with the same feeling.

The first time I watched DP, I actually fell asleep just before the big switch in main characters, so I didn't realize how it would take a Psycho-like turn and follow completely different characters for the rest of the movie. Something very similar happened to me when I first watched Usual Suspects.

Anyway, I don't have any problem with that switch, what I do have a problem with is the tone. I understand that the film was shot to look like an old grindhouse movie and is written to match, but the problem from me comes from the inconsistencies I noticed. See, the first group of girls all seemed pretty real and fleshed out even when they're spurting out some of Quentin's clunkiest and most repetitive dialogue. But then, the second group of girls flips the script and happen to be these caricatures of humanity who have no problem beating a man to death and leaving their fried by herself with a highly suspect individual in the middle of nowhere. I understand them wanting revenge and maybe the two stuntwomen being a little off their rockers, but why does Rosario Dawson's character want to kill him so bad, going so far as to kick his head in? I didn't get it. And the "It's like a grindhouse movie, duh!" argument doesn't hold up when the first half of the movie didn't reflect that aesthetic.

I also found Kim to be incredibly annoying. I get it, she's from the street, I don't need to be reminded of it with every single piece of dialogue she spouts off. Other than Kim, though, I really liked the rest of the characters and would like to know what happened to Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character (and why she was wearing a cheerleader costume throughout the whole thing, I don't buy Dawson's explanation).

But that's not all, I also hated how much of a pansy Stuntman Mike turns into. Kurt Russell did SUCH a great job of making him likable at first, but then completely terrifying, but then, as soon as he gets shot, he starts crying? Seriously? I like the idea of flipping the script and putting him at a disadvantage, but seeing him be such a bitch just makes me want to see him dead NOW and you've got to sit through a long car chase to get there.

In a weird twist of fate, we got the fourth disc of Alias Season 1 today, which boasts a two part episode called "The Box" (2002) which stars none other than Tarantino himself. This was during a few year period where he would pop up with a different TV project every now and then. Anyone else remember his episodes of CSI where the dude who would voice Captain Atom in the JLU cartoon was buried alive? Good stuff. It looks like he only acted in the part in Alias, but I wouldn't be surprised if he wrote his own dialogue as well because it definitely has that Tarantino vibe to it.

I'll get more into my thoughts on Alias when we're done with the first season, but this was definitely one of the better episodes and Tarantino does a great job of playing an unhinged man.

And, of course, even with all the above things I disliked about Death Proof I'm still crazy-excited for Inglourious Basterds which drops in a few. Never let it be said that I'm a fair weather fan!

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mini Monsters: Cat's Eye (1985)

There were two reasons I checked out Stephen King's anthology horror flick Cat's Eye. First off, this horror magazine I read called HorrorHound wrote about it in their latest issue which was anthology themed. A quick note on HH before moving on. I love this mag, but the lack of editing drives me CRAZY. As an editor myself and a big fan of upstart magazines (that's definitely not an easy mountain to climb right now), I want the writing to be as crisp and consistent as possible to it won't turn off people like me who are driven crazy by such things. As an example, depending on what kind of style guide you use, you either italicize a movie title or put it in quotes. Sometimes they italicize, sometimes they do quotes and sometimes they do both! I don't know if this bothers you normal folks, but it bugs me. I guess it's not all that bad because I'm still reading it, but I'd love to create a style guide for them.

The other reason I checked Cat's Eye out is because Rickey thought that it might be the mini monster movie I remember from my childhood, but still haven't been able to track down. And that lack of success has continued with Cat's Eye even though it does have a gremlin monster of some kind and the bouncing ball. But, I had a blast watching it so who cares?

So did my cat Milo. Before getting into the movie review, here's a few pics I took of him watching the cat (the connector of the three stories) run away from a dog. He loves watching animals on TV.

So, the three stories are like this. First, James Woods joins this crazy-strict mob-run program that helps you quit smoking on the threat of harm to your loved ones. It's over the top and has great moments of dark humor and I didn't see the end coming. The second story focuses on a rich guy torturing the guy who plans to run away with the rich guy's wife by making him walk around the outside of a skyscraper. And the final, my personal favorite, brings the cat into the hero role as he defends a little girl (Drew Barrymore) from a mini monster, even though her mom swears the cat is causing all the problems.

What I like best about the final segment is the practical effects they used to convey the mini monster running around Barrymore's bedroom. I didn't see any behind-the-scenes stuff, but it looks like the dressed a regular dude up in the costume and then put him in a room where everything was built huge to make him look tiny. Just think about how much fun that would be? I would love to do something like that. The whole idea made me smile every time they showed those scenes. Here's a video of the scene. If you're worried about spoilers you might want to skip it, but if you think anyone, even Stephen King would kill Drew Barrymore, you're nuts. Just saying.

Aside from the FX, though, all three stories are really solid and fun while still feeling scary. They play out like EC horror stories, which I love in all their non-comic forms (the few I've read, read really slow to me, but the art is awesome). So, I may not have found my mini monster, but I checked another movie off in my copy of Creature Features book
Oh, DO go on.

Where Have All The In-Office Bars Gone?: Some Thoughts On Mad Men

The early 60s were awesome you guys. Not only could you drink at work all the time, but the ladies were crazy hot! Need proof? Just watch AMC's Mad Men. If that isn't a quote worthy of the DVD box, I don't know what is.

Over the past few months Em and I have gone through the first two seasons and will hopefully be able to keep up with the new one which starts in the next few weeks, it depends on how often AMC reruns the show, really.

But, I kind of like watching the show on DVD. I'm not too good at remembering the small details thanks to Lost and comic books taking up so much of my memory banks. It's easier for me to remember who some of the ancillary characters are when I'm watching three episodes a night instead of one a week.

The thing about Mad Men that I keep coming back to when I think about the show is how much I like the style of it. I'm not saying the show is style over substance, but I'm also not really sure what the story as a whole is about. Sure, you've got Don Draper and all the mysteries wrapped around him (can you imagine marrying someone who you know NOTHING about?) and Peggy's rise from secretary to...whatever she will become and all the side stories, but I think what keeps me coming back is the time period. I've talked before about how fascinating old New York is to me and how much I like the 60s, so the show definitely rolls right into my wheelhouse.

Plus, everything just looks so cool. Don Draper is a badass and everyone always looks so well put-together (at least when they're at work). You didn't have to worry about political correctness or anything like that. Sure there's all kinds of negatives (especially if you're a woman who's not Peggy), but this fictional representation of times gone by definitely has some resonance, even considering the fact that I work only a few streets over from Madison Ave. and get to wear a T-shirt and shorts to work if I want.

I think part of the affection I feel for this time is based in the fact that it wasn't that long ago, that maybe my parents or aunts and uncles experienced similar life events and what that would mean to them. Plus, damn, a lot has changed since the early 60s. I like that the show embraces the time period and makes the occasional joke in reference to things they couldn't possibly know coming up in history, but don't overdo it.

Plus, it's really interesting to see the effects historical events had on people. The women in the office are devastated when Marilyn Monroe dies, everyone's watching Jackie Kennedy's tour of the White House (something my mom has told me she remembers from her childhood) and the looming threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis. People really thought the world was going to end and I loved Pete's rationale when he was talking to his wife. Moving closer to DC would bring you closer to a target, while NYC will probably already be a target. I can't relate to him wanting to die in Manhattan, but I remember my dad telling me that we'd be screwed living in in Toledo if there was a nuclear attack because one of the first things a theoretical enemy would do is blow up Detroit to cripple our ability to make vehicles. Kinda heavy stuff, but I always remembered that, not that he was always talking about getting blown up or anything, it was just something we talked about at some point.

My biggest complaint with the show is how there doesn't seem to be a clear indication of how much time passes between episodes and scenes. It's not a problem for the most part, but it does become kind of annoying when you're not sure how long Don's been gone for or how long Betty's been carrying on her investigation.

I've also got to say that it's really hard to like some of these characters. It's the same kind of thing I felt while watching the first few seasons of Sopranos. They hook you early with these fascinating characters and then you've got to watch as they continually make BAD decisions and do some pretty reprehensible things.

If I can jump into some SPOILERish territory right now, I've got to say that Betty really bugged me in the second season. Look, we all know that Don is, was and probably will be cheating on her, but after tearing through his closet and desk and not finding any kind of proof, I don't understand why she still believed the word of a d-bag comedian who is hardly a reputable source. Never once do we see her thinking she might be wrong, she just keeps him at arm's length. I really expected her to give up and bring Don back, saying something about her depression or whatever mental disorder her psychiatrist told Don about in the first season. I did feel bad for her when her dad felt her up though. That's gotta be one of the creepiest non-horror moments in TV.

That being said, Don's little California excursion didn't help matters. What was the deal with those rich people anyway? I kept thinking they might be Manson Family stand-ins or something. In fact, there are all kinds of moments during the second season where I felt this dread at the most mundane times. Bobby goes to pee behind a tree at a park and I couldn't help but think that something bad was going to happen (and not the rampant littering when they take off). I guess that's my moderness talking. Back to California though, it was cool to see a little bit more of Don's past.

I'm not really sure where Season 3 will take us, but I'm definitely strapped in for the ride. I hope Joan (who was also on Firefly a few times!) ditches her asshole fiance, though I doubt she will, that Peggy continues to climb her way up the ladder and find herself as an adult and that Duck's dog comes back, bites him and then goes off to live with Pete. I swear to God, Em almost stopped watching the show after he let the dog loose.

Finally, why isn't Jon Hamm in talks to play Superman? Aside from looking like old timey Clark Kent with the hat and suit, the dude's got the voice of a superhero and should play one STAT. He already does a great job portraying Don in different stages of his life, with the meek Don in flashbacks (Clark) and the ultra confident Don in current times (Supes), plus we've seen him play Lex Luthor, so there might even be some interest there. This man was born to play Superman and should immediately be signed to a contract for a trilogy. I hear that Mark Millar fellow has one in mind even. Maybe if Kick-Ass does really well, it'll happen.

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Halloween Scene: Hatchet (2006)

It's funny how elements beyond your control can come together to enhance a movie-watching experience. Saturday night I was flipping through my online Netflix queue looking for something to watch and decided on Hatchet, which I think I've heard good things about. I say "I think" because, like any other horror fan, I was bombarded with ads for this movie online and in print a while back. Anyway, it was probably around midnight when I pushed play and about 15 minutes in, I started seeing flashes of lightning through the trees (my TV is right in front of our living room windows). As the film went on and things got bad for the characters on screen, nature added ever closer lightning along with some nice pouring rain to match the movie. I can't think of a cooler viewing experience I've had. Oh, and the movie was pretty great too.

Like I mentioned above, I saw a TON of advertising for this movie, but I think it was all in print and online, so it didn't really hint at the plot aside from the image of the hatchet itself. This is the art that was on Netflix and I'm pretty sure also adorned most of the ads:

I actually prefer this poster, which hints at the humor that goes along with the horror in the movie:

I was actually starting to think the movie might turn down the Scary Movie route when the cast started revealing itself. Our hero is Joel Moore, who you may remember as the nerdy guy in Dodge Ball, the nerdy jerk in Grandma's Boy and the dude in Katy Perry's Waking Up In Vegas video. He's accompanied by Deon Richmond who I recognize most as the Token Black Guy from Not Another Teen Movie. They're at Mardi Gras (pre-Katrina obviously) looking for a zombie boat cruise which brings on a pretty funny cameo by Candyman himself Tony Todd (we also get treated to a Robert Englund (Freddy) role in the beginning and Kane Hodder plays the killer). So, I wasn't so sure what to think.

Until Hatchet Face (aka Victor Crowley) shows up and starts wrecking shop on a small group of boat tour patrons and their guides. In the group you've got an older couple (the man being played by Office Space's Richard Riehle), a Girls Gone Wild-ish guy with two girls who keep taking their tops off (the guys was in the first two seasons of Mad Men and one of the girls played Harmony in Buffy), the tour guide with a bevy of fake accents, our two guys and a mysterious young woman. Wow, that's a long sentence. Anyway, the characters are just interesting enough that you feel bad when they get offed. I also really liked seeing Deon in a larger part, sure he got a little annoying at times, but overall he kept the mood light even during some incredibly gory scenes.

So, the story was cool, the characters solid and the gore rad. All in all I had a great time watching Hatchet and was really impressed with Moore's transition from nerd to bad ass. He should really do more stuff. Plus, he wears a Newbury Comics shirt throughout the movie, a comic/DVD/CD store I've been to a few times when visiting Em's parents in New England. And, super double extra points for an ending that I saw coming but was still surprised by the execution of. I think there's a pun in there, but you'll have to figure it out for yourself.

Oh, DO go on.

Funny Guys In Music Videos

There's a strong tradition of funnymen appearing in music vidoes and I just saw a pretty great one from Colbie Caillat (she's like a female Jack Johnson (ie chill), but super cute) and fairly new SNL cast member Bobby Moynihan as kind of a d-bag guy (he has a Louis Viton surfboard). Here's their date:

I especially like this video because I know a guy who knows Bobby, so it almost feels like a local boy done good situation even though I've never met him.

Anyway, here's a few more comedians in music videos that I dig. Next up, Jack McBrayer in Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body." It's like the diva version of Colbie's video:

And here's a classic I remember from when I was a kid. I had to do a search for Robin Williams music video and slapped myself in the forehead when teh restults came back with "Don't Worry Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin:

Finally, here's Chevy Chase in Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al"

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Firefly: The Series (2002)

As I mentioned in one of these posts over the last few days, the missus and I have been watching a bunch of TV on DVD lately. We burned through the second season of Mad Men and all of Firefly and are four discs into the first season of Alias. I completely missed out on/didn't care about Firefly when it first aired and didn't have much interest in it until recently when Rickey and Sam gave it to us to check out and we couldn't say no (also, nothing else is on). I've been told the proper order to consume the entertainment in (TV, both comic series' and then Serenity), so I figured I'd blog about them in that order.

Damn, this is a great show you guys. I realize I'm super late to the game on this, but Joss Whedon actually really impressed me with this show. I've been kind of down on him after being really bored with the one episode of Dollhouse I watched and not being too impressed with Astonishing X-Men. Being a big fan of Buffy, both of those were disappointing for me. Plus, we went back and watched the first season of Angel, which was hard to get into. I was starting to think that Whedon didn't have the ability to hook viewers with a new show right away. I was getting sick of people saying "Yeah, the early stuff isn't great, but you've got to get through it to get to the good stuff." What kind of rationale is that? I understand that in the age where we can watch everything online or on DVD that it becomes much easier to go back and catch up on a show that got bad or started off poorly, but why should we? If you want me to watch your show, here's an idea, wow me from the beginning.

And that's exactly what Whedon and company did with Firefly. Right out of the gate, BAM, I'm engrossed. The characters are cool and interesting and all have their own mysteries about them. Things are seeded for future episodes (something Whedon does better than most) and the effects are sick. I was surprised throughout the entire series how good the spaceships, space stations and alien worlds looked. Plus, of course, the premise of "cowboys in space" is just too cool.

Firefly also doesn't get too caught up in the characters that Whedon seems stuck on now. You don't have the geeky guy and Kaylee only kind of gets into that Kitty Pryde territory that Whedon so clearly loves. Plus, Mal's just a rad character, kind of Preacher meets Han Solo and Nathan Fillion does an awesome job with him.

I'm also a big fan of Jayne because, to me, he's the Wolverine of the group. He's the badass, a/immoral dude who loves what he does and is the best at it (at least amongst the crew). But, unlike the merry mutant, Jayne isn't over used. He's like Wolverine at his earliest, a cool character who we got glimpses of without being overloaded on him. It's a good way to go.

I think my favorite episode has to be "Out Of Gas." The story structure, presentation and character development are all just crazy awesome, but the finale "Objects In Space" was also pretty sick. I liked Early and was glad to see River not just be a crazy weirdo. These are the kinds of episodes that Whedon excels at, it's too bad they tend to take place late in a season.

I don't know why the show was canceled or any of the details (because I didn't look them up, I don't want any more spoilers than what I already know), but it really is too bad Firefly didn't get the proper support from the network (like airing the episodes in the correct order). It came out during my college days, so I assume that's why I was out of the loop (though I do vaguely remember it's existence).

Here's hoping that whatever Whedon's next project will not only start off strong, but get a network backing it that knows what to do with his kind of show. I'm even contemplating going back and watching Dollhouse's first season in short order. I keep hearing about some kind of game changer, but, I gotta be honest, I REALLY didn't like that one episode I saw. I mean, it was BAD. I guess I could skip it (or at least the "most dangerous game" parts. Uch, I don't even like thinking about it.

Up next? The trades!

Oh, DO go on.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'm Sure SDCC Was Fun, But It's No Orange County Fair

Hey, I'm as excited as everyone else about Marvel's Marvelman announcement (it'll take a while to get used to saying that instead of Miracle Man), but we couldn't all be there. In fact, some of us had the chance to head on over to the Orange County Fair. Yup, that's a country fair y'all.

It's been quite a while since I've been to one, but I was not disappointed. There were the requisite carnival games with barkers who weren't all too enthusiastic, all kinds of awesomely bad-for-you food, classic (probably old) rides and livestock, but we were also treated to a tiny circus and a pig race.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so, please, enjoy the following slideshows of the greatest show on earth (that Middletown, NY).

I know what you came to see, so let's start with the pig races. The contestants had some pretty impressive names like Lindsay Loham and Brad PIg, this was the Hollywood Pig Race afterall:

The show wasn't all pig races though, I actually really liked checking out the look of the rides. They had a classic feel to them, one that I wasn't used to going to my school's festival every year. You can imagine your parents riding these same rides back when they were kids and while that doesn't lend any positive thoughts towards their safety, it does seem kinda cool.

Like I mentioned, there were also a ton of animals, both exotic (giraffes) and mundane (lots and lots of cows). Our personal favorite thing in regards to the animals though was this sign, it's just too good to potentially lose in the slideshow:


It reads: WARNING Please DO NOT Feed Animals From Your Mouth WARNING. I love that that's a problem that needs addressing. Anyway, here's the rest of the animal pics:

And then there's the circus. Now, I've been to the Ringling Bros. Circus before (I was little, but I got to ride an elephant and that was cool), so there was something a little sad about seeing these people who seem really talented, doing their thing for 20-30 people sweating it out on some bleachers. But, I guess that's what circus folks have been doing for years, right? This group also ran then exotic animal section and the pig race, so you might recognize some people. Also, please note during the motorcycle stunt at the end that the blonde woman came out, did a little dance thing and then pointed at the cage. The first rider to come out had some kind of problem with his bike, but the blonde woman didn't flinch. So, not only is she tough, but she's a pro. Also, she got in a cage with motorcycles, so she's probably a little crazy.

Oh, also the circus had a really annoying clown who had this routine that went on about 5 minutes too long and there was a portion where some camels ran around in a circle and then a horse did the same. I didn't take any pictures of the clown because I wanted to hit him and only a few of the animals because, well, they were boring.

And finally, the most important part of any good county fair is the food. Between the two of us we had corn dogs, fried pickles, soda, fried Oreos, a fried Snickers bar, lemonade and beer. I only thought to take a picture of the Oreos and the old Pepsi machine they had.


Oh, DO go on.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Did You Know Zac Efron Was On Firefly?

Hey played a young Simon:

Crazy right? The wife and I are watching Firefly, Alias Season 1 and Mad Men Season 2 on and off for the first time. More on that later.
Oh, DO go on.

Halloween Scene: F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin

Sorry for the relative lack of posting this week and the less-than-creative header to this post, but I figure everyone's either at San Diego Comic-Con or paying more attention to that news than anything else. Anyway, when you're done with all that you can check out what I thought of F.E.A.R. 2 for the XBox 360.

So, I got this game a while ago. The reason I didn't finish it sooner is threefold. One, I don't have a ton of time to play games. Two, I tend to get impatient with my games. And, three playing Halo 3 online with my friends from home beats out playing a game that sometimes scares the crap out of me by myself. All of which is to explain that, I dug the game, even though I didn't burn through it.

I've never played a game like this before (read: scary), which also explains that I never played the original. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what the story was about. Something about a naked ghost woman, an organization of jerks doing bad stuff to her, a bombed out city and lots of bad guys to shoot. I also didn't really care. Heck, I was the one skipping the cut scenes (hey, I play a game like F.E.A.R. 2 to blow shit and people up, not get a story).

Anyway, like I alluded to, this game definitely has its scary moments. Not only does the naked ghost woman show up a bunch of times, but you also get visited by other ghosts (who disappear when you shoot them for some reason) and get transported to an erie, red dream world with a tree before being transported somewhere else or waking up somewhere different. There were times walking through the dark hallways where I was desperately hoping for big guys with guns instead of ghosts, because, apparently, I'm a bigger wuss than I thought I was. It was an impressive experience because, as you know, I watch a metric butt ton of horror movies and haven't been scared since The Strangers, so kudos to them. Check out some of the scarier moments here:

In addition to the scares, I also liked the variety of enemies. You've got your basic guards, then military guys (I felt a little bad killing them), then armored guys who look like Gears of War dudes and finally these teleporting/phasing invisible guys who are REALLY hard to kill. I liked that they weren't just standard Streets of Rage-like punks. I actually felt like I was getting a little better at the game because I was doing alright taking these guys out. And, as you'd imagine, as the enemies get harder, so do the weapons. There's this lazer gun that cuts people right in half. Gotta love that.

So, all in all, I had a lot of fun playing F.E.A.R. 2 and was actually glad that the final stage wasn't a huge boss fight (I was tired and had to get to a party), though it did feel a bit anticlimactic. I also almost quit about a half dozen times because I would get stuck. I had to resort to a walkthrough a few times, especially at the very end. It was actually the walkthrough that kept me going because I realized how far into the game I was. So, yeah, I liked the experience I had playing the game and would recommend it to others, but how does it compare to you hardcore gamers out there? What else should I add to my list of scary games to check out for the 360?

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tim Burton Is Awesome

Over the past two days I've had the pleasure of watching two Tim Burton movies on the train and realizing how much I like his directing. Monday I watched childhood favorite Beetlejuice (1988) and yesterday I checked out Mars Attacks (1996) for the first time. I also recently realized that Burton is probably the first director I was a fan of before I even realized what a director did. I remember watching Frankenweenie on the Disney Channel, I liked Batman, but Batman Returns was my favorite superhero movie for years and I have memories of Pee Wee's Big Adventure like anyone else my age, but wasn't too obsessed with it. In fact, Burton was probably the first director whose work I did recognize. And, perusing his credits on IMDb and realizing I've really enjoyed most of what I've seen, I've decided to give him the "... Is Awesome" tag, I'm sure he's super excited.

Before jumping into the movie reviews, I do want to note that I still haven't seen Edward Scissorhands or Sleepy Hollow, but I have seen all of his other big movies. I didn't really like Sweeney Todd (apparently, I have a fear of razors against throats, who knew?) and I'm not particularly partial to Nightmare Before Christmas (which he didn't direct, but produced) or Corpse Bride, but I think that's because I resented paying full New York prices for a 76 minute movie. Anyway, not liking three movies and not seeing two movies puts him in that rare category of directors with a lot of movies which I have seen and liked. It's easy to say I like Tarantino or Kevin Smith, but they don't have all that many movies.

So, now onto Beetlejuice and Mars Attacks specifically. When I say I was a Beetlejuice fan as a kid, I'm talking full-on. I had the movie on tape of course, watched the cartoon, got as many of the toys as I could (I'll take pictures of what I have and do a separate post soon) and even dressed up as him for Halloween one year (Mom made the suit and we bought the official Beetlejuice toy mask with pop-out snakes!). And, the craziest thing about all this is that I was a fan even though I saw something on TV about Beetlejuice that scared me so much I had nightmares.

I've been searching YouTube and the internet for any reference to this, but can't find it. Around the time the movie came out, I saw this talk show aimed at kids either on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel where they interviewed some of the ghosts and monsters from the movie. I think the shrunken head hunter was on there, but I definitely remember the file clerk who got run over by a truck. There were a few others but I can't remember them. I also don't remember the details, but it scared me so bad I had nightmares for a while. Also note that this was well before I even entertained the idea of watching horror movies. Just the previews scared me. Ah, how far I've come.

It's been probably 10 years since I watched Beetlejuice all the way through (I picked the DVD up on the cheap sometime in the past year, but hadn't watched it). I still really dig this movie. It's got a great mix of comedy, action and horror, plus great performances by everyone involved from Michael Keaton as the Ghost With the Most down to Jane, the annoying real estate woman.

The only part that doesn't hold up is the special effects, which, according to the internet, Burton did on purpose as a reference to older sci-fi and horror movies (hence the stop motion animation of the sculptures and sandworms). But, other effects still look great, and mostly because they're practical. I love the ghastly faces Barbara (Geena Davis) and Adam (Alec Baldwin, he looks so young and thin!) put on to scare Lydia (Winona Ryder, also super young).

A couple of funny things I realized while watching this movie before Mars Attacks. First off, this is the second movie in two weeks I've watched where rich New Yorkers move away from the city to a quiet place somewhere north of the city. At least in Beetlejuice, they eventually tell you they're in Connecticut so I wasn't driving around trying to find the school house. Also, I realized while watching that Catherine O'Hara and Jeffrey Jones will always be "the people from Beetlejuice" in my head. I remember when O'Hara lated played the mom in Home Alone, I was psyched. And, while Jones will always be Ed Rooney to most, he's the dad from this movie and the bad guy from Who's Harry Crumb and that's the way it is.

Which brings me to Mars Attacks, which doesn't have single character/actor who I haven't seen in something else. Hell, even Jack Black's in this bad boy and he looks only a little less svelte than he did in Airborne. Heck even the kid from Solarbabies is in it, but to me he's still the whiny kid from that movie (though he's way more awesome and less girly now).

I can't think of a recent movie that has brought together so many famous actors in one flick (check out the full roster here). Sure, you could argue that some people like Sarah Jessica Parker or Lisa Marie weren't really all that famous at the time, but you've got Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Natalie Portman (also probably not super famous at the time) and Pam Grier! For the record, that's also the Joker, Cruella de Vil, James Bond, Penguin, Amidala AND Foxy Brown. That's a pretty epic team-up. (Any artists out there want to draw that up? It'd be rad?) Anyway, what I liked most about this star studded cast is the fact that so many of these big time starts got killed in really great and kind of gruesome ways. You really don't see THAT nowadays.

I know I'm late to the game by 13 years on this one. I'm not sure why I didn't see it when it came out or why it took so long for me to finally see it, but I'm really glad I did. It was very slow going at first and I kept wondering how all these different characters were going to fit together and really just wanted to get to the aliens blowing shit up, but I see why it all works. It's a satire on movies like it, but also society. Parker's character could be taken out of this movie and put on the NYC streets I walk everyday to get to work (I might have seen her last week actually, she just has a Blackberry now). That Burton fella's ahead of the curve methinks. Plus, the effects are cool and it's damn funny.

And dammitall if those aren't the cutest little aliens blasting the crap out of humanity. I loved their "ack ack ACK" dialogue and loved it even more when their heads exploded. Watching the second half of the movie really made me want to play whatever the latest Destroy All Humans game is. It also made me want to check out the original card series that the movie is based on (huh, basing a movie on a card set seems just as crazy as basing one on a board game, no?), which brought me to Zelda's Mars Attacks site, check it out!

Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Can't Tell If Mariah Carey's New Video Should Be Funny or Scary

Seriously, it's both over the top and creepy. And then the thing at the very end is awesome, but my favorite part is when the stalker dude is singing Mariah's song in his ultra creepy room.

Oh, DO go on.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Trade Post: This Week's Pile 7-17-09

I read a lot of trades in a week. In addition to the bursting-at-the-seems shelf of things I've read at least once, I also have two long boxes full of books I need to work my way through, plus things I borrow from other people and work. It's a lot to get through, but with my train ride and nightly reading, I'm at least putting a dent in those boxes.

So far this week I've finished two books I started reading a while ago, read three complete books, started and quit one and and halfway through two others. That's a total of 8 trades this week on top of Gulliver's Travels which I'm slowly getting through. Anyway, here's a few brief (I promise) thoughts on these books).

NORTH WORLD VOL. 2 (Oni) by Lars Brown
I haven't read the first volume of this book, but I enjoyed this one enough to go back and read te original. The idea is that the main character used to be a fighter in the vein of World of Warcraft or something and has since settled down to do taxes with his dad. I've heard the first volume gets a bit mired in the MMORPG in-jokes, but Volume 2 doesn't have those pitfalls. There are definitely aspects of the story I wasn't very clear on, but I'll chalk that up to me coming in part-way through the story and not as a fault of the author for now. Aside from entertaining me on the train ride home, I also used Brown's book as a reference for how to draw cartoony figures and had some success. Figuring out how he drew his main character lead directly to the creation of the nameless party guy I drew yesterday.

I hate to double link to the same post, but I mentioned yesterday that I've been reading this brand new collection of all things Barry Ween from Oni for the past few days. I'm about halfway through and I'm loving the foul mouthed adventures of the smartest kid (person, really) on earth, his friend Jeremy and his love interest Sarah. If you liked Dexter and have no problem with a deluge of profanity and pop culture references (some of which have gone completely over my head), then you should definitely check this book out. I haven't enjoyed a reading experience this much in a long time.

LIGHT BRIGADE (DC) written by Pete Tomasi, drawn by Peter Snejbjerg
AS anyone who read my review of the Nightwing Freefall trade knows, I really enjoy Pete Tomasi's writing. So, when I was offered someone's copy of his first(?) comics work Light Brigade I jumped at the chance. I'm also a big fan of Peter Snejbjerg because he was involved with the second half of James Robinson's excellent Starman run (and the artist behind two pieces of original art I have from that last issue). The story focuses on a group of soldiers during World War II who get mixed up in the war between the renegade angels and God. I've seen a lot of stories like this (try and find a Hellboy comic that doesn't mention deities and Nazis), but I liked the yarn Tomasi wove here, especially the character who's a fan of DC comics of the time, going so far as to give their group a team name and make them shirts with a logo. Definitely worth checking out if anything above sounds even remotely interesting. Also, this is the best I've ever seen Snejbjerg. The colors really seem to leap off the page. Good stuff.

HELLBLAZER: THE FEAR MACHINE (Vertigo) Written by Jamie Delano, drawn by Mark Buckingham, Richard Piers Rayner, Mike Hoffman, Alfredo Alcala
I first got interested in Hellblazer back when Brian Azzarello started writing the title. At that point I was heavily into 100 Bullets and would read pretty much anything with his name on it. Those were good comics, but I had trouble getting a grasp on exactly what John Constantine could do. I knew he had some kind of magical powers, but beyond that? No clue. I'm still not really sure about the dude's powers even after reading this arc which comes from his earliest adventures (Hellblazer #14-22), but I still really like this enigmatic character. The funny thing about jumping into any Constantine story is that you have no idea if the old friends/acquaintances/enemies/lovers he runs into have been established in previous comics or just made up by the author. This story surprised me because of how far away from the John Constantine rubric it runs. You've got John joining up with some hippies, liking it, trying to find a missing girl and sporting (get this) a BLACK trench coat and even sunglasses, instead of a tan one. Remember how angry people were when Keanu wore the black coat in the movie?

Apparently it has precedence.

The story is very deep and involved and it took me quite a while to get through it because of waning interest and the absolute literariness of the whole thing, but by the end I had a great time and really enjoyed this seemingly atypical Hellblazer adventure. I've got one more Delano trade I'm interested to burn through now (PUNS!). I also want to get my hands on the Ennis/Dillon books.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Marvel) By Jim Valentino
If you're like me, you've been enjoying the hell out of Guardians of the Galaxy which spun out of Annihilation Conquest's Star-Lord miniseries. That got me curious about the previous incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, so when it popped up on someone's Sequential Swap list, I swapped for it. And man, there's no more 90s story than this one, which collects the first 6 issues of the series. The idea is that this is set in an alternate future where War of the Worlds happened on the 616 and wipes out all the heroes. This is way in the future and the Guardians end up fighting a group called The Stark who, through means I care not to spoil, evolved with full-on Tony Stark technology. I liked the "what happened to THIS character" feel of the story and would definitely read an Essential volume or two to see where the full story went, but, like I said, it's very 90s. In addition to briefly explaining every team member's origin, powers and home planet with almost the exact same wording every issue and coming in that same weird size as the Armor Wars trade I read, there's also Taserface:

Nuff said.

CLASSIC G.I. JOE VOL. 1 (IDW/Marvel) Written by Lara Hama (mostly), drawn by Herb Trimpe (mostly)
I really, really wanted to love this book, but just couldn't. The book collects the first 10 issues of the series originally done by Marvel, but IDW put out the particular volume I read. These aren't bad stories, they're just not all that interesting, which goes for both Hama's stories and Trimpe's art. Maybe it's that I've seen so many spy/military-based stories that almost anything feels been-there-done-that. I had high expectations because I know a lot of people who sing the praises of this comic, including Kiel, so hopefully they'll jump on to let me know what it gets really good.

BAT LASH: GUNS & ROSES (DC) Written by Sergio Argones, drawn by Peter Brandvold
I got interested in this book after reading the latest issue of Jonah HEx which features a very well spoken Bat Lash. Unfortunately, this mini doesn't really pick up on any of those themes and just came off kind of boring to me. How cool would it have been if Sergio drew this bad boy though? That being said, I still really liked Bradvold's art, though I'm not familiar with him at all. This is the book I didn't get all the way through.

This is the other book I haven't finished yet. That's because the entire story is told in text boxes instead of dialogue balloons. It fits the story just fine, it just takes me longer to read. Tor's a prehistoric character who got kicked out of his tribe for being smart and awesome and is having crazy adventures in parts unknown. So far I really like this book, it's a great showcase of the senior Kubert's style, which is one of the most recognizable in comics (I bet he could draw a stick figure and you'd still know it's him). He definitely hasn't lost his touch.

Anyone else read any of these books? Thoughts? If not, what are you reading and digging right now?

Oh, DO go on.

Best Of The Best: Airborne (1993)

Few movies exemplify everything I wanted to be when I was 10 years old more than Airborne. Not only was the main character Mitchell, played by now-real estate agent Shane McDermott, living in a cold town in Ohio (Cincinnati about four or so hours from Toledo), but he was also really good at surfing and rollerblading. I was always really, really into watching rollerblading, skateboarding and BMX competitions on ESPN2 back then (this was around the time the XGames started I guess), but was always too much of a wuss to try anything more than going kinda fast (plus I could never get myself going on a skateboard).

So, right off the bat, I gotta say that Airborne gets Best Of The Best status for purely nostalgic reasons. It's not a great film, but it's great to me. In addition to all the rollerblading stuff (the race in the end is EPIC), you've got all the usual teenage, non-sexual mellowdrama you'd expect from a PG movie from 1993. It also features early roles by Seth Green and Jack Black. I've liked a lot of Seth's later work, but this one's still my favorite.

Damn, I don't even know where to go from here. I was able to watch this thanks to Netflix's Instant watch and all kinds of youthful memories flooded back to me (the scene where he's "surfing" on his bed, but imagining the California waves of his home? awesome). There's also a really funny scene where Green's trying on clothes for them to go on a double date. It's you're basic montage, but it's almost identital to the one in Def By Temptation.

Anyway, I can't recommend Airborne to everyone, but if you haven't seen it and any of the following interest you at all, you should check it out.

Uh, huge spoiler as this is the end of the movie, but it's AWESOME:

Anyone else unhealthily obsessed with this flick? I tried to get Em to watch it, but she kept making fun of me so I had to turn it off and finish it later.

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Boogie Down With Barry Ween!

Like I mentioned a few days ago, I've been working on my drawing lately. Here's a few things I worked on the past couple of days.

I've been splitting my time between looking at other people's art and trying to recreate it, like I did here with an image of Barry Ween that Judd Winick drew. It's from my recently acquired copy of The Big Book of Barry Ween, which has been fantastic so far (I'm about halfway through). I'm learning a lot from how he can fit so much detail in a tiny panel. It's crazy trying to figure out not only the composition of the setting, but also the texture of things, how light interacts and on and on, not to mention drawing consistent, recognizable characters.

Anyway, here's Judd's far superior original:

And my version:

And now here's me trying to do my own thing. I don't even have names for these characters. I've been drawing the dude for a couple days now, but this is the first time I drew a woman that doesn't look terrible.

I started out with the guy in his funny pose, then everything else just came to me in little bits. I figured it'd be funny if he was keeping the party alive by spinning the disco ball on his finger (though I lost his pointed forefinger when going over in pen). I'm also fond of the DJ dude, it took a lot of tries to get him in that iconic DJ pose. To make it actually look like other people were at the party, I had a person trying to talk on their cell phone right next to the DJ's speakers, but couldn't get the size right and ditched him in. The floor was also fun to figure out as I busted out my hologram dinosaur ruler from kindergarten to get the lines right.

What do you think I should name the characters?

Oh, DO go on.

A Few Things I Want To Do After Watching Videos This Morning

Thanks to MTV, Fuse and VH1 there are several new things I now have to add to my bucket list and that doesn't even count all the mellow-rock-dudes-playing-pianos I now want to punch in the face.

Go to Vegas with Katy Perry and the dude from Grandma's Boy and Dodge Ball (two of my favorite comedies), even if it means I lose all my money.

At least I'd get to hang out with Katy Perry (what happened to all the awesome retro clothes though?!), mess with Penn and Teller and win a butt-ton of money, even if just for a moment. I'm not sure how I feel about that whole Groundhog Day-like cyclical thing though.

I also want to go to party at the Black Eyed Peas' house. It looks like a lot of fun:

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

A few of my favorite moments:

All the Yiddish (if I knew how to spell the words, I'd write them out, but I'm just a dumb Catholic boy).


Taboo looking like Bruno (cross promotion perhaps?)

Black lights/Green hands

And, of course, Fergie's tacked-on brushes with lesbianism.

Still, this looks a lot more fun than any party I've ever been to, thrown or heard about.

I also wouldn't mind hanging out with the Cage the Elephant guys, I think we'd get along well (love this album by the way):

Oh, DO go on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Songs I Should Hate But Don't: "That's Not My Name"

I first heard this little ditty by The Ting Tings back when Opie and Anthony were still on the air here in New York (damn you whatever KROCK is called now!). They were basically saying how they wanted to hate it, but it's just so damn catchy. It wasn't until a few weeks or months later that I heard the full thing while in the car with Em (she's always got one pop station or another on) and it turns out they're incredibly right.

It's like catchy crack.
Oh, DO go on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Halloween Scene: Food of the Gods

It's been about 9 months or so since I tried my hand at recreating some horror poster art and I was bored on the train with my copy of Food of the Gods for Alex , and this was born my interpretation of this awesome DVD cover.

So, like I said, I whipped this bad boy up on the train, which doesn't excuse any imperfections, we'll chalk that up to my lack of artistic abilities (though I actually picked up a tiny new sketchbook and some art supplies today to really give it a whirl). Without further ado, here's the original:

And here's my version (please be kind):

If you're interested in more of my "interpretations" you can check out the posters for Halloween 1 and 2, Suspiria and The Ruins or these of Leatherface and Michael Myers

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sylvester Stallone Is Awesome

I had a revelation while watching Over The Top (1987) this weekend: Sylvester Stallone really is a good actor. In addition to his obvious bad assery, I found myself feeling bad for the big galoot as he struggled with dealing with his son. It shouldn't really come as a surprise, I've seen a surprising amount of Stallone movies this pass year including Death Race 2000, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Over The Top, Tango and Cash (how did I not blog about those three?), Cliffhanger and Rambo. I've also seen most of the Rocky movies in my days, but need to rewatch them, Cop Land and, as I've mentioned before, I can't wait for The Expendables. Two of those I've watched recently, so let's jump in, shall we?

A few weeks back I had some free time on the weekend (I came down with a crazy cold while we were trying to paint our bathroom, I swear) and decided to give Cliffhanger (1993) on Netflix Instant Watch. I got so into it that Em, who was graciously finishing the painting while I slowly turned into a snot machine, heard me yelling at the TV and was about to yell at me for playing video games while she was working until she came in to see me on the edge of my seat.

See, the thing is that THEY'RE ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN. Sure there's actors, stuntmen, matte painting and other special effects, but this is before cheap CGI, so someone was actually on a mountain and you can feel that danger. I don't know if it was unconscious or not because it popped into my head right away "Woah, that's high up, someone had to actually do that," but I definitely felt it the whole time. Just try and tell me this isn't intense:

I'd never seen the movie, so it held a lot of surprises for me, especially when it came to the cast. I pretty much only knew that Stallone and the girl from Northern Exposure (Janine Turner) were in it. I had no idea John Lithgow, Michael Rooker and the cop from CSI Miami (Rex Linn) were all in it. You gotta love Lithgow as a villain.

The thing that surprised me about both of these Stallone movies is how much deeper the story is than you'd expect. With Cliffhanger, you'd just expect it to be dudes on a mountain making other dudes find their lost money, but instead you've got all this backstory between Stallone and Rooker and Stallone and Turner. The same goes for Over The Top, which I picked up at Best Buy for $5 last week even though I'd never seen it before. It's not JUST the Stallone arm wrestling movie. He's also dealing with his 10-year-old kid who he's never met before (played by David Mendenhall, the voice of Daniel Witwicky in Transformers), the kid's sick mom, her dad (played by Lost Highway's Robert Loggia!) and a bunch of dudes in tank tops at the arm wrestling championship.

Of course, it comes with its fair share of ridiculousness too. Stallone's a truck driver and one of the prizes for the American arm wrestling championship just so happens to be a big rig. Exactly what he needs. Huh, go figure. There's also a whole series of scenes in which his son steels a car, drive it to the airport, gives it to a security guard, flies to Las Vegas, avoids his grandpa's goons (one of which, I'm pretty sure played a goon in Road House, the one with the curly hair) and makes his way to the arm wrestling championships all while his dad is in the middle of the competition. Crazy! How does he do this? Were credit cards even around back then? It's like they tried to throw a little Home Alone in the middle of this action movie, it's great. You've also got a great series of weirdos he has to arm wrestle (all of whom are much, MUCH bigger than him.

But, yeah, of course the best moments involve Stallone being a badass:


If you can't get behind this kind of awesomeness, I pity you.

Two more quick things. One, the movie was so rad that it earned itself an action figure line back in 1986 with real arm wrestling action! I very much wish I could find a commercial online for this, but as the basic video search I did on YouTube brought nothing, click through to this Virtual Toy Chest link, you'll be doing yourself a service my friend.

And second, just try and tell me that this painted image of Stallone, arm extended with a truck and a hawk behind him isn't cooler than anything you've seen in the past 13 years. Bazinga!

Oh, DO go on.

Train-ing Video/Halloween Scene: Suburban Sasquatch (2004)

Wow, seriously you guys, you need to watch Suburban Sasquatch. It's the best example of a "so bad it's good" movie that I've seen in years, which is saying something because I've seen a lot of crap. I can't remember where I first heard about this flick, which seems to have been made by someone who has never even thought about making a movie before, but reading the Horror Movie a Day review made me put it on the top of my queue. Seriously, hop on over and read BC's review, then come on back.

So, yeah, this is one of the best worst movies I've ever seen. It's even worse than Troll 2 in my opinion, so that's saying something. Like BC says, it's full of repetitive storytelling, bad acting, nonsensical back story and the worst CG effects I've ever seen. In addition to the birds and net BC mentions (which, when it's first thrown on to the Sasquatch, only just barely covers his head, yet when they cut to a long shot, it's huge and CG), you also get treated to arrows that triple their thickness as soon as they're about to be shot, blood sprays that look like something from Machine Girl and limbs that go from being torn off to magically reappearing.

But, even with such terrible effects, you can't help but find this movie inadvertently charming. I've seen some reviews where people think this was all done tongue-in-cheek, but I completely disagree. I don't get the feeling that anyone's holding back laughter or trying to make this thing worse than it was written. There seems to have been a definite idea behind the film and writer/director/etc. Dave Wascavage refused to deviate regardless of the obstacle.

For instance, there's a scene where Sasquatch lifts up a police car and throws it. Now, if I had written a movie and decided to make it myself on the cheap, I'd probably cut that scene up because I know I couldn't make that look good. Dave disagrees with me on this fundamental view point it would seem as Sasquatch "lifts" what is clearly a two dimensional freeze of the car and tosses it (he does the same thing with a log at another point in the film which also looks bad). The scene adds nothing but hilarity to the movie, so I guess I can't fault him for that (wait, yeah I can).

There's also a ridiculous back story with one of the two cops in the movie. See, he seems to be covering things up, but we don't know why until he reveals that a Sasquatch killed his fiance/wife/whatever on the other side of the country (we're finally told the movie takes place in a town in Pennsylvania after a hilariously long list of geographical references that get more and more specific). So, wouldn't you want to do everything you could to kill the monster that killed your lady (really, Sasquatch just carried her off)? Instead he does nothing, but lets his partner call in a hillbilly goon squad that makes the dudes in Dawn of the Dead look like super soldiers (you've gotta check out the dude with the curly hair wig, he's awesome).

Speaking of awesome, the two leads aren't, though the girl who plays Talla, the down-with-nature chick is very attractive. Rick is our supposed hero, though he just comes off as a whiny, nervous guy who "gets it" a little too late to save him from just coming off completely annoying. Dude, you're dealing with a teleporting Sasquatch who has taken repeated arrows to the chest causing geysers of blood, there's greater forces in the world than just you. Also, pay attention in his first scene with the cops, Rick never stops swaying. It's kind of creepy.

Jeez, there is so much to talk about with this movie, but I'll try and just mention two more things. Remember how I mentioned the poor film making? Well, even I know that there's this thing called the 180 degree rule. I started typing what this means, but confused myself, so, if you're not familiar with it, check this video out:

Suburban Sasquatch breaks this rule like crazy. There's a scene where Rick is standing, talking to Talla who is sitting outside of her modern day tent (which is funny in and of itself). But the way it's shot and edited together, both characters are looking to their right, so Rick is looking down/right at Talla while Talla is looking vaguely up and to her right, so it ends up looking like she's trying her damndest to avoid eye contact. It's awesome.

But, my all-time favorite part of the movie comes pretty early on when Sasquatch comes across two dudes fishing on a river (one of whom is a magical litterer, he throws a beer can in the river, then it dissapears seconds later). Sasquatch attacks the litterer and then throws the dudes arm at the other guy with such a force that it sends him flying into the water, seemingly killing him. The movie as a whole seems to be trying to have both an environmental and religious/spiritual message, but both are conveyed so poorly it's hard to tell.

Okay, so, you definitely need to watch this movie. I watched it on an 8-inch screen on the train and it lost none of it's "luster." In fact, I had to stop myself from laughing like a madman several times, though maybe if I hadn't, I would have gotten a seat to myself. Still not convinced? Here's a few clips I found on YouTube:

Oh, DO go on.

It's Awesome When Your Mom Helps You With That Threesome

Having people, especially girls, was never really an issue with me in high school (obviously cause I was so awesome), so I never had to worry about how bad my room smelled. A lot of people I know weren't allowed to have members of the opposite sex in their room because their parents feared the kids' carnal curiosity. But not this kid. His mom rolls in, makes this goober's room smell awesome and all just in time for his two "friends" to show up.

What is this, Weeds?
Oh, DO go on.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Train-ing Videos: The Money Pit (1986)

Hey cleaver title right? Train-ing Videos. See, it's cause I watch them on the train. Anyway, today's movie was the Tom Hanks/Shelley Long joint Money Pit which I got in a Tom Hanks 3-pack at Best Buy a month or so back that also includes The Burbs (awesome) and Dragnet (haven't seen) for like $8. I'm a sucker for a deal, so I picked it up (which is also how I got Over the Top and Wet Hot American Summer yesterday for $5 each.

So, I thought I knew Money Pit fairly well, Hanks and Long buy a house that turns out to be a crap hole, things fall apart, they hire some people to fix it up, she maybe cheats on him with the maestro, they fight, (SPOILER), things work out and everything ends happily ever after. And that is basically what happens, but it's the small things that made this already funny movie even more interesting.

First off, I don't remember the beginning at all. I figured there was some stuff in the beginning, but didn't remember the details. Long and Hanks are living in the apartment of her ex-husband (the maestro), a shady real estate dude tells Hanks he's got a great place for super cheap, though it's still pretty expensive. Yakov Smirnoff makes an appearance as the maestro's assistant or something and is then never seen again. There's also the matter of Hanks' job, he's a lawyer in the music biz, so there's lots of funny little bits with a kid superstar and a band of crossdressing rockers.

My favorite little bit in here came with a brief appearance by an actor playing ping pong named Brian Backer who I recognized, but couldn't place. I'm not really sure why he's even in the scene, but it turns out that he was in The Burning! Speaking of actors I recognized but couldn't place, the maestro is a big, blond German guy. My mind immediately went to one of the villains from Die Hard, but that's just because I think every blond dude of a certain age was in that movie. Turns out I was right though, this is one of Karl's few other movie roles.

I also really liked the cast of misfits who come together to act as their construction team. When they roll up on all sorts of crazy machinery flanked by huge muscle dudes and little people, it reminded me of the crazy circus people the Penguin hung out with in Batman Returns.

After the surprises were over I was left with all the scenes I remember from seeing this movie on TV: the staircase falling, them freaking out over running water (something I can relate to after my parents rennovated our downstairs when I was younger), Long openening the medicine cabinet to reveal a dude standing there, Hanks falling through the floor, but the rug traps him and, of course, the best laugh of all time (he's got one of the top five laughs in the history of all time laughs):

But by far, my absolute favorite part of the movie is when Hanks does a damn fine Mr. Magoo impression, getting rocketed through the construction thanks to some pretty great gags. It's a little over the top, but who cares? It's fun. Plus he gets peed on at the end (kinda).

One thing I didn't really like, though, was Shelley Long. I always preferred Rebecca on Cheers and, well, what else has she been in? You could just as easily have taken her out of Boston, plopped her in NYC, put a violin in her hand and call her something else. Sorry, Diane, I'm no fan. When things get heated between her and Hanks, I kept thinking "Ditch her and go after Kirstey Alley!" (remember this is 1986, not now).

Now for a few side points. The writer, David Giler, also wrote the story for Aliens, the script for Aliens 3 and apparently did an uncredited pass on Beverly Hills Cop 2. I like me some eclectic screenwriters. Also, the movie takes place in the city, so, as I have been doing for the past two or so months, I kept an eye out for any recognizable landmarks or streets (didn't see any). I was also trying to figure out where their house was supposed to be located. I don't think they ever say specifically where the house is, just that it's an hour away from everything. According to the filming locations of IMDb, though, it was filmed on Long Island, which is kind of the opposite end of the spectrum from where I live. Oh well, a good time was had by all.

Oh, DO go on.

Trade Post: Creature Tech and Wormwood: It Only Hurts When I Pee

I don't want you guys thinking I'm slacking off and not reading trades just because I'm not posting them. In fact, I've got a huge pile of trades next to my desk here just waiting for reviews, but I've been slacking off when it comes to posting about them. That's a little better right? Anyway, as I mentioned in my post about the new SyFy (ick) show Warehouse 13, I recently read Doug TenNapel's Creature Tech from Top Shelf and it reminded me a lot of that show. I've also recently read Wormwood Gentlemen Corpse Volume 2: It Only Hurts When I Pee by Ben Templesmith for IDW. They're both in the sci-fi and fantasy genre so I figured they'd go well together.

Written and drawn by Doug TenNapel
My bossman Justin Aclin recommended this book to me and I didn't really know anything about it. It wasn't until after I looked TenNapel up on Wiki that I discovered he was the brain behind the Earthwork Jim games, which I loved even though the first one is still crazy hard.

The story's about Michael Ong, a scientist who gets relegated to the Research Technical Institute (dubbed Creature Tech by the locals) by the US government. His former pastor, current man of religion dad lives in town as well, but they've got their problems. The black and white graphic novel (which, as far as I'm concerned, means an original work created specifically for the larger page count provided for by a trade, not just any collection of sequential art, that's pretentious) focuses on Michael dealing with the Shroud of Turin, a reincarnated ghost scientist, a giant bug lab assistant, falling in love with a girl and an alien, multi armed chest plate. It's kind of like the current Blue Beetle with some of the quirkiness of Gail Simone's All New Atom thrown in (loved her run on that book).

I really dug TenNapel's art style (you can really see the Earthworm Jim style in there) and the story was quirky without getting too extreme in that column. Ong is a fun, reluctant hero who has some obvious personal problems that he seems to be dealing with (he definitely has an arc, which is nice). Oh, plus, there's giant space eels and other cool looking aliens. I highly recommend checking this book out and I wonder if TenNapel's got plans for any future installments? Maybe I should read that Wikipedia page I linked too above...

But instead, on to the next review!

Written and drawn by Ben Templesmith
Like most other people I first heard about Ben Templesmith because he drew/painted the original 30 Days of Night along with some of the other follow-up minis. I'm not a big fan of that book, but it's definitely one of those slap-yourself-in-the-forehead, why-didn't-I-think-of-that moments. A few years back Templesmith started up his own creation called Wormwood Gentleman Corpse, which is a little worm dude who inhabits corpses. The funny thing is that I didn't even realize he was the worm and not the corpse until halfway through the first series. I can be a bit dense sometimes. He's got a few sidekicks in the form of a robot man (Pendulum) and a stripper girl with tattoos that come to life (I can't find her name after looking for one whole minute). I was a big fan of the take no prisoners craziness of the original mini-series, but lost track of the story in the following minis and issues. Luckily, I was able to pick up the second and third volumes and started reading through them.

This volume finds Wormwood cursed and needing the blessing of the leprechaun queen. In this mythology leprechauns are crude, gibberish-speaking little people with a penchant for violence and humping robots. In the process of trying to get the blessing to get rid of the sickness/curse, Wormwood runs into some squid-like invaders who he had a run-in with in a previous adventure. There's also a story about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who are being kept satiated in a hotel with a steady supply of prostitutes, food and drugs.

What I like about Templesmith's writing is that he doesn't shy away from things, while still not going too over the top in a bad way. There's plenty of over-the-topness, like when Wormwood shows his companions his "suit chamber" which is, of course, a room full of preserved corpses, including Jesus' (he decides on a little girl's). There's also a running gag about the genitalia Wormwood built for Pendulum. Good clean fun, you know? It's kind of like Hellboy, but if Hellboy was an ass who had been around a lot longer, hopped dimensions and made a lot more enemies than a demon from hell.

Oh, also, Templesmith's art is sick. Thanks to the supplemental material in the back (bonus points for the bonus material, as always), we can see the steps he takes in creating his art. It seems to be a combination of penciling, painting and then digital painting. It's a super cool and unique style that a few others have tried to copy, but can't quite get. Whether you like Templesmith or not, you can't argue that he's one of the more original artists out there. And, while we're talking about his style, I really liked how the 30 Days of Night movie captures his style, while still keeping the realism of actual people. I can't wait to read the other trade and track down the first one.

Oh, DO go on.