Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Class of 1991: Toy Soldiers & If Looks Could Kill

I had the pleasure of watching two movies about teenagers kicking ass that both happened to come out in 1991 last week. You know what's funny? The very next year Kevin Smith's Clerks and Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs brought all kinds of attention to the world of film, but just the year before we got treated to Toy Soldiers and If Looks Could Kill.

I had never actually seen Toy Soldiers (starring Sean Astin, Wil Wheton, R. Lee Ermey and Louis Gossett Jr.. The idea is that, this dude whose dad has been arrested for being a drug dealer decides to take a private prep school hostage in order to take a kid hostage. The kid is someone from the government's, but what the terrorists don't know is that that kid was moved off campus the day before. Now, Astin, Wheton and their friends have to put a stop to things. See, Astin's kind of the bad boy of the school, but he's got a good heart and is willing to risk his life for the safety of his fellow students.

Watching TS was definitely an experience. They really don't make movies where kids can try and kill terrorists with an uzi anymore and that's kind of a shame. I was talking to Rickey about this movie and he said it lead him to all kinds of kid empowerment fantasies. Kids need that kind of stuff to keep them sane or at least to weed out the lameazoids and give the free thinkers something to think about (though hopefully shooting people with uzis isn't the only thing they think about).

The other Class of 1991 movie I checked out was one that I had seen before but only once: If Looks Could Kill. It's a case of mistaken identity movie in which a high school senior gets mistaken for a James Bond-like secret agent. There's plenty of Bond references in this badboy (including a sexily named lady, cool car with gizmos and a look at a gadget testing lab). ILKC stars Richard Grieco in the only role I ever remember seeing him in (though, did you know he played Ghost Rider on the Fantastic Four cartoon? weird).

This movie is definitely played more for laughs than TS, but Grieco, a high school student, does still straight-up murder some people with an uzi (I guess he's 18 though, so it's not such a big deal). I didn't enjoy ILCK as much as Toy Soldiers, but I think that's because, aside from the humor, I was only looking for the few things I remembered about this movie from what I was a kid: the sneakers that walk down walls, the short lady's extending necklace whip and the exploding gum ("borrowed" in the first Mission: Impossible movie by the way). I think this empowered me to some extent as a youngin, or at least made me want someone to invent high tops that would allow me to walk down walls. Come on science, where are those kicks already?!

Oh, DO go on.

Season Premiere: Real World/Road Rules: The Ruins

As long time readers know, I love me some Real World. I'm currently watching the season premiere of Real World/Road Rules: The Ruins. I freaking love these things. They're like an old school Avengers annual where the Avengers, the West Coast Avengers and any random characters show up to play softball or whatever.

The basic idea is that people who have won a challenge are on one team and newbies along with people who have come close, yet lost challenges are on the other. Before the day's challenge three men and three women are put up for elimination. Then after the daily challenge, the opposite team gets to choose from the six players who they want to go up against. If you beat someone, you take their money.

This season is plagued with all kinds of amazing love pentagons and other shapes the geometrical shapes I've never even heard of (or have been invented by science). The main villain so far is Wes, a dude I love because he completely goes against the alliances and demands to be treated fairly (mind you, he lied to everyone before the game and said he wasn't playing, so take that as you well). I just like seeing someone who has the muscle to back himself up, standing up against the ridiculous alliance formed by Kenny, Johnny Bananas and Evan. Ridiculous. And, even though s of right now there are 15 minutes left and it looks like Wes is going to get sent home by Chet, I'm still pretty sure Wes will win, which sucks because I like Chet. But you're no Wes my friend. These opinions are based solely on the idea that I've seen previews with Wes in them that I haven't yet seen in this episode. But MTV has done creative editing in the past. Also, why the heck would they think Chet could beat Wes? Oh well.

Also, I don't know much about muscles, but I feel like most of the dudes on this show have what I call show muscles. These are muscles sculpted in gyms or whatever. They're for TV. That's what Kenny has. Wes has real muscles. Muscles designed to hurt people. I know it won't go down like this because Kenny is (surprisingly) too smart to get in a fight and sent home, but I would love to see Wes lay some shit down on him. Just to see what it would be like. Nothing against Kenny, I'm just not real keen on him being this weird godfather like person along with Evan. Em had an idea that I fully support in which a lot of these Fresh Meat or Road Rules folks live in a Real World-style house to "prove" themselves a little more. Let's see it happen MTV!

I guess I should explain that Wes said straight up that he would throw his own team's mission. Oops, there he goes, Chet lost. Sorry bro. Anyway, Wes did his best to throw their first mission in, his team still won, he went in anyway and won and I can imagine he'll be doing the same over and over again.

Before the Ruins challenge at the end, it got really close to full out brawl between Wes and Darrell, a dude that no one really cares about, but is trying to suck up to the dude alliance. Good luck bro, you're out soon enough.

Now, we've got Diem against perennial hot mess Tanya. Personally I'm rooting for Diem because I've liked her since she premiered on Fresh Meat, but how crazy of an upset would it be of drunk ass Tonya pulls this off. We shall see. Hell even Tonya just said "Even Tonya can get that concept." Oh SNAP! Tonya won it! I can't say I'm happy, but whatever, upsets are few and far between in these things, even more rare is for a veteran to go home this early.

All in all this was a pretty great challenge premiere. You've got drama, weird love hexagons, betrayal and upsets. I love that the dudes on Wes's team think that he'll buckle. Not likely dudes. He'll continue to take people out from the other team, but that only helps him you guys. After two or three victories, the other team will NEVER choose Wes to go up against their players. That means, Johnny Bananas, Evan and Kenny will get tossed into the Ruins. Man, I never even took game theory, but this stuff is obvious to me. Can't wait for the season!!!

Oh, DO go on.

Quick Note

Hey Gang, you might notice a little slow down in the blog posts here, but I'm going to try and do at least one Halloween Scene per day moving forward through October. I've got something in the works that you'll know about soon enough. Maybe by the end of the week.

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Halloween Scene: Carrie (1976)

I am ridiculously embarrasses to admit that I have never seen Carrie all the way through, unrated up until this point. I swear, I THOUGHT I had. It was even crossed off in my copy of Creature Features, but, after deciding to watching something classic on the NetBox and choosing Carrie, I quickly realized I had never seen this movie. You know how I knew I'd never seen it? The tampon scene. I've heard about it and remembered hearing about a little too late and was completely horrified. Not by the menstruation itself, but by how utterly horrible that would be if it happened to you in public and, instead of people being like "Oh hey, we all do that and don't die, no worries" they laugh and throw tampons. Even the fat, ugly girl with glasses. What does she have to laugh at!!!

Sorry, I got heated up watching this flick (is that a pun?). I had three overwhelming emotions the whole time: dread, anger and hope. See, we all know about the pig's blood at the prom and that carnage quickly ensues. But I was still gritting my teeth the entire time Carrie was getting ready for the Greatest American Hero to take her to prom. I kept wondering if he and his maybe girlfriend (the survivor) were in on it, or if they really were just being nice. I wanted him to be a nice guy because he really seemed like one, unlike that pig-killing mook Travolta. Anyway, once the craziness actually started (and boy, does director Brian De Palma play these scenes up to all their nerve-wracking potential) that's when the rage kicks in. It's weird because I don't usually get this emotional when watching a movie, but the dread I felt reminded me of the first time I saw Dark Knight. I had a visceral, in-my-gut reaction to Heath Ledger's Joker. I was scared of the screen whenever he was on. I had the same feeling leading up to the prom scene. That's a hell of a thing to get a jaded film fan like me to feel.

Think about it. The dumb villain girl was SO angry at someone else for HER OWN MISTAKE that she set into motion a fairly complicated plan with a lot of working parts that went off without a hitch, all for the sole purpose of humiliating the initial victim of her jerkiness AGAIN. If she had survived, the CIA should have picked her up to plan assassinations, cause she's cold blooded.

Also, wow, I did not see the teacher's death coming. That was nutzocrazytown. Bisected even. You gotta reign that in Carrie, at least to have one witness who can blame the dumb girl with the red hat for everything even though she's dead (sup PJ Soles).

This far into the review, I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I've never read Stephen King's novel that this was based on, so I have no idea how much of the movie was in the book and vice versa or how "accurate" it was, but it works perfectly on the screen. One of the most impressive story elements is the layers of danger. You've obviously got Carrie with her crazy power and the evilness of teenage girls, but also Carrie's mom. You NEVER know what she's gonna do. Damn. I wonder of JK Rowling got the closet idea from Carrie. If so, she should have put a scene in the movies where Harry burns their stupid house to the ground, because you NEED that kind of catharsis after a movie like this. And, even as much as I wanted Carrie to survive this whole mess, move to another town and start over, maybe raise a child of her own who isn't crazy, she had to pay for what she did.

Finally, the final bit. Unlike the prom scene, there was zero dread for the final "hand out of the ground" scare. Part of the reason is that my memory was refreshed of the scene while watching Going To Pieces, when Sean Cunningham and Tom Savini are talking about the ending of Friday the 13th. They talk about having just seen Carrie and wanting to do something like that, hence the burnt kid out of the water. Another factor that kind of took me out of the moment comes from the survivor's mom. She's talking to her friend on the phone and says something along the lines of "The doctor says that she's young and she'll forget." Haha, what?! She's 17 or 18 and she's going to forget the night her entire class was decimated by Hellfire and a house fell into the earth? The night her maybe-boyfriend died? Wow, good doctoring there. The final reason why it wasn't very scary is that it's very obviously a dream, She's all glowy and whatnot, plus the hand comes out kind of slow and sloppily. I guess it would have been pretty scary the first time you saw it, but I guess I've seen too many movies that ripped the idea of that last minute scare like F13 and The Strangers.

Oh, DO go on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Halloween Scene: Going To Pieces (2006)

Are you guys psyched? It's almost October and you know what that means? Hundreds and hundreds of horror movie reviews on blogs just like this one. After a brief sabbatical from horror, I'm back in the game myself as any regular reader might have noticed. So much so, that I've actually got a list on my computer with all the backed-up reviews I want to do. One such movie is Going To Pieces: The Rise And Fall Of The Slasher Film (note to NetBox users, it's missing the "Going To Pieces" title in the beginning, but, as far as I know, it's still on there). Holy crap, this is a great movie.

I haven't seen too many documentaries about horror, in fact, I haven't seen too many docs on the whole, but that's for another day. What I loved about this movie is that it doesn't just cover the obvious like Halloween and Friday the 13th. You also get fairly long segments from the likes of Jeff Katz (a dude I got to interview before being bounced from Wizard, who was rad) and the girl who starred in Sleepaway Camp on movies like Sleepaway Camp and Slumber Party Massacre. These are the weird slasher flicks that I cut my horror teeth on back at the Family Video in Toledo and it's cool to see other people talking about them with such gusto.

You also get a look at horror luminaries like John Carpenter and Wes Craven today, which is interesting. One problem I had with the movie is that they didn't show who each person was on a regular basis. So, seeing as how I was working on the computer part of the time and have a generally crappy memory, I had no idea who the tall man sporting sunglasses and long white hair was until the very end, and it turned out to be Carpenter.

Like I said, though, I loved this movie and it is an absolute must for slasher fans. I was even jazzed to find out that movies I have only seen recently like Graduation Day, The Burning, April Fool's Day & My Bloody Valentine. It's also a great way to check out new movies to add to your "to see" list, though beware of spoilers. Now I gotta check out Happy Birthday To Me! Thanks Going To Pieces!

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Oh, DO go on.

New Nightmare On Elm Street Trailer

I just realized that I never really talked about the Friday the 13th remake on here. Well, it was the last horror movie I saw in the theaters (the first in over a year I think) and I dug it, which was great, because I didn't really like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and hated the Halloween one. I'm long past being outraged over these kinds of remakes, I mean, you can always go back and watch your favorites again and we've all seen what happens when these franchises go on for too long and, if nothing else, maybe they'll keep our favorite horror icons in the consciousness enough to get kids to check out those old movies.

Anyway, with all that being said, today /Film linked to the new Nightmare On Elm Street trailer.

A Nightmare on Elm Street in HD

I'm no NOES expert--I haven't watched one of the flicks since my burgeoning days as a horror fan as it was one of the few series' that they had all the tapes of--but it seems like they used a fair amount of material from the first flick. I'm looking forward to a mix of both old and new, but hopefully not so much new that I already know all the beats. What I don't want is too much back story on Freddy, which is what the trailer starts off with. That's where the Halloween remake went wrong, so hopefully that's not where we're going this time around, but we shall see. Plus, getting Jackie Earle Haley to play Freddy was a stroke of genius, so that's at least some early points in the positive column. This trailer adds a few more, in my opinion.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Season Premiere: Saturday Night Live

I had completely forgotten that tonight was the season premiere of SNL (it's 35th year!), with Megan Fox hosting and U2 as the musical guest, but luckily the Notre Dame game ended just in time (and even more luckily, they won), so the timing just worked out. I was impressed to see a fairly healthy roster of up and comers in the opening credits. The opening monologue was pretty good (we missed most of the pre-intro skit, but I saw Conan do pretty much the same joke earlier this week on The Tonight Show, so no big loss. All in all the episode was okay, not Justin Timberlake-good by any means, but there were more skits with laughs than stinkers, I especially liked the phone sex commercial one. That was a lot of fun and damn if Fox wasn't both good and bewitching. Her eyes are like dude tractor beams, I'm convinced.

Also fun was seeing one of those newbie cast members drop the f-bomb during the Bicker Chick Chat segment (or whatever it was called). It made an otherwise dull skit at least interesting to listen to. The whole "friggin'" thing got real old, real quick. And speaking of old, I hate U2. I know I'm one of the few people in the world that doesn't get Bono's inflated self importance or why such simple music has made so many people happy for so many years, but their performances were just rough, especially at the end, when Bono was swinging around on a weird, circular light-up mic/trapeze rope. Hey, I thought Pink's performance at the VMAs was rad too, but you don't see me putting on a shiny suit and swinging around my living room (mostly because I haven't filmed it yet, I'm still nailing down the routine).

So, it wasn't a perfect episode by any means, but worth not watching a movie during that time slot (I've got Steel Dawn and Lake Placid burning holes on my TV stand). Oh, also, the first Digital Short was pretty lame, while the second was good. So, if you're watching them on Hulu tomorrow/today, you can skip that one.

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Oh, DO go on.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ad It Up: Abadox

Those Ghost Rider comics I read the other day were a gold mine of amazing comic book ads. It's funny to look back on video game ads because they had to make some amazing art to showcase 8-bit gams. Take this one for a game called Abadox for example:

I have absolutely no memory of this game, but it looks crazy awesome. And gross. Which makes it more awesome. In case you can't read the text around the small boxes towards the bottom they read "Ugly Eyeballs" "Guardian Ghouls" "Skeleton Fish" and "Mutant Dogs." Why isn't this bad boy getting the remake treatment?

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Oh, DO go on.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vegas Chinchilla Commercials

As if Vegas needed to prove to you that it was cool:


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Casting Internets

After going to Wal-Mart to buy printer ink, which they didn't have, I figured I'd send you some excellent links that I found around the net so far today. By the way, why the hell is the Wal-Mart parking lot ALWAYS full? It was 11:30AM on a Friday and I could barely find a parking space.

My buddy Kiel tackles the Jack Kirby's-family-suing-Marvel case. I'm not quite sure I understand it, or how exactly I fall on this case (it's called "work for hire" for a reason and I don't want to see these characters ripped from there homes, but they should also be compensated fairly). Read and form your own opinions.

Check out Jim's Enemy of Peanuts to see a video interview he did with the Panels On Pages guys. Kinda makes me wish I would have made a slightly bigger splash on the Wizard message boards. Which is a roundabout way to say I will do an interview with anyone about anything. Holla atcha boy. Or whatever.

/Film got an exclusive look at Disney's poster for its first animated musical in years The Princess And The Frog. Good for them! I'm not a huge fan of the animated musicals, but Em is and I'm sure we'll be seeing this bad boy in the theatres. Plus, that's a rad poster.

Ben posted this picture of him, Rickey, Dave and I literally laughing in the face of danger. Em and I have a version of this picture where I don't look like a complete weirdo hanging in our hallway. Check out The Cool Kids Table for more pics.

And finally, Rob over at Topless Robot posted this video of the dude from the zombie game Dead Rising facing off against guys from Gatchaman and Power Rangers in the upcoming Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom game. Not sure what all those words mean, but you can THROW ZOMBIES AS A FIGHTING MOVE. So, it's gonna be pretty amazing.

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Boys Just Want To Have Fun

I can't decide if releasing video dating clips from the 80s or early 90s (or any time for that matter) is a huge violation of privacy or a hilarious look into people's lives with some clever editing. Right now, I'm leaning towards that latter, especially after seeing this video on Boner Party.

Oh, DO go on.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Box: Ghost Rider 1-5

My inlaws bought these two boxes of comics for me at an auction for $25. I'm guessing there's 250-300 comics in there. The one on the left is all Marvel, the right a mix of stuff. In an effort to get through these boxes, I'm going to pull an issue or run out at random and give it a good read through and review it here. If the issues has one preceding or following it in the box, I'll read those too, but only those.

This week it'll be Ghost Rider Volume 2 #1-5 written by Howard Mackie and drawn by Javier Saltares from 1990. My interactions with Ghost Rider have been fairly limited, I've read random issues here and there, bought that Devon Grayson mini a few years back and saw the movie, but these are definitely the most consecutive issues of any Ghost Rider series I've ever read. And for the most part, I liked them.

As far as I can tell, this first issue is the first appearance of the second Ghost Rider Danny Ketch. I don't really know what happened to the previous GR Johnny Blaze or how his motorcycle ended up in a dump in NYC, but it didn't really hinder my enjoyment of these issues. These first five issues consist of a three part story in the first three issues, a one-off where GR fights Mr. Hyde and the first part of a two part story where The Punisher meets Danny Ketch's GR for the first time. Of course, the box contains #7 and a few other random issues, but I'm trying to follow my own rules.

So, the first three issues, like I said, deal with these three canisters that a gang kid grabs and hides thinking there's money inside. Turns out that a dude named Deathwatch (who gets off on watching deaths through others' eyes) wants the canisters so he can get off big time when the biohazard is released. He's got a bunch of Hand-looking ninjas and a light-killing vampire thing called Blackout working for him, but he doesn't succeed against Ghost Rider and the Kingpin, who also wants the vials for himself. I like that they threw Kingpin in there too, to make this solid Marvel New York comic. This is the kind of continuity I've always heard about in regards to Marvel, but haven't really experience for myself.

Following that strong sense of continuity, you get issue #4 which has Ghost Rider facing off against Mr. Hyde, who, according to some thought bubbles and an editor's note, we know has recently run into Captain America and the Hulk, the later giving him brain damage, which inhibits his ability to change. While I hoped this issue would be mostly two titans squaring off, we get a lot of Danny Ketch out of his leathers. In fact, pretty much every time Danny's in his regular identity, he's sitting next to his sister's bed and wondering if he should keep changing into GR. It's kind of intersting and definitely necesarry, and I'm sure if you were reading these things monthly, you might not notice, but reading five months' worth of issues in one sitting it got a bit old. Once he does finally fight Hyde, it's pretty cool, but it could have gone on long.

Finally, we end with the Punisher guest appearance. Turns out that Flag Smasher is trying to give away free guns to kids for some reason (guess I'll have to fin #6 to find out). Earlier in the issue we get a news reporter who wonders if GR and Punisher are one in the same, which is a pretty ridiculous concept, why would the dude dress up in two different costumes? Also, it doesn't seem like anyone remembers that there already was a Ghost Rider, but whatever. Maybe he only operated in secret in the west, I dunno. This is definitely a set up issue and I'm sure the next is full of radness, but we do get a fun little fight between Punisher and GR.

So, all in all, I liked these issues and would definitely not be opposed to delving deeper into Ghost Rider and this series. I have one random issue of Midnight Sons from back in the day and really want to check it out. Also, I know it's totally 90s, but I love the design of the bike. I like how it changes from a regular motorcycle into this crazy mech-looking thing. Fun stuff.

Oh, DO go on.

Halloween Scene: Batman Arkham Asylum

Without really knowing I was getting there, I finished Batman: Arkham Asylum the other day. I guess I had longer to go because I was only 70-something% done with the game, but I guess that includes all the secret Riddler trophies, character files and interview tapes. All in all, this game is as rad as everyone said it is, but I was still surprised at the intense horror elements in the game: bodies littered all over the place, monsters, trippy nightmare sequences, armies of weird looking dudes all trying to kill you, mountains of doll or human body parts. Even Scarecrow gets a Freddy Krueger makeover, with injection hand and everything. Plus, there's a last minute, Carrie-like hand pop scene at the very end of the credits. But the game isn't perfect.

My biggest problem with the game is the opening 5-10 minutes. It's a glorified cut scene with you controlling Batman walking alongside the newly incarcerated Joker as credits roll. Now, I don't play a ton of video games, but I don't think this is common practice (the credits). My real problem with this is that you have to control Batman, but all he can do is walk. Why not just make it a cut scene, pretty it up and let me enjoy Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker again. This was not a great way to start things off.

Another aspect of the game that I wasn't crazy about, but got used to, was the fighting mechanic. There's basically a punch button, a counter and a dodge. It really frustrates me when there's no basic jump button in a game. I guess I'm just old fashioned that way, but it bothers me. Anyway, when fighting you've got a few combinations and it turns into a button masher mixed with a rhythm game as you need to hit the counter button at the exact right time. Like I said, at first this was kind of boring, but then I realized that I can't remember long streams of combo moves anyway, so this was perfect for me. That doesn't mean I'm great at it, but it's still fun. Plus you've got all the gadgets, though I do wish there would have been some explosive batarangs. You know, cause blowing shit up is cool. I really thought about just unlocking all the goodies with a cheat code, but decided instead to just go through the game the way it was designed (though I'm betting it would have been more fun from the beginning to have everything).

Aside from those minor complaints, this game is fantastic and it looks gorgeous. I would gladly watch the events of this game roll out as a CGI movie, even after just playing it. Let's get the newly formed DC Entertainment on that! I'm hoping this is the future of comic-based games. The thing that developers have to realize is that, just because a comic might star a superhero, doesn't mean you have to make a superhero game. AA feels like it's a few steps away from the creepiness of something like Resident Evil or Silent Hill and just happens to star some of the most recognizable characters in the universe. I'd also like to see someone get their hands on the Green Lanterns and do an epic space game. Oh, or a WWII game with Captain America. Or a Nick Fury spy game. The possibilities are endless, especially when you take the concept and look at it from all angles.

Oh, DO go on.

Fall Out Boy Love Lost

Check out this story from /Film that combines two of my favorite things: Lost and FOB. Apparently the Fall Out Boys were brought in to help promote all the build up for the final season. I haven't really been paying much attention to all that (I'd get all twitterpated), but I do love the Dharma gear they're playing and Pete Wentz giving a shout out to Driveshaft. Good stuff. Here's the video:

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Halloween Scene: Frogs (1972)

Like Food Of The Gods, Frogs deals with nature and what can happen when man screws with nature too much. In this case, instead of giant animals, our killers are frogs, birds, snakes and other reptiles and amph-ibians. It might sound kind of ridiculous, and it definitely is, but the repeated shots of frogs ribbiting and other animals doing their "menacing stare" thing, does get a little creepy after a while. And the reason these animals are so pissed is because Jason Crockett has used tons and tons of pesticides to keep his southern island looking nice.

I actually saw the very end of this movie years ago on AMC and considered it "seen." But, now that I'm working on a few more posts for Topless Robot, it popped into my head and I figured I'd give it a good watch. Well, I'll be honest, I missed about 20 minutes of the movie. I saw the beginning where a drunk dude in a speed boat knocked Sam Elliott out of his canoe (though I didn't realize it was him until I looked the movie up on IMDb). It also took me two days and three viewings to watch it because I kept getting tired or wasn't really paying attention and wanted to and it really is just a strange movie. It's fun in the same way that Food Of The Gods or Squirm is, but the kills definitely get a bit silly at times (a Kimodo dragon or something knocks off several bottles in a green house, which mix to form a gas cloud that kills a guy). Also, the end is very reminiscent of The Birds, which makes sense the more I think about it. But, really, it's just fun to watch Sam Elliott be awesome. I've never seen him this young in a movie, as Big Lebowski, Ghost Rider, We Were Soldiers, Golden Compass and the amazing Road House are the only flicks I've seen him in. What other Sam Elliott movies should I check out? Help me get my Netflix queues back up to 300!

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Cancelled TV Cavalcade: Swingtown (2008)

I remember seeing ads for Swingtown last summer and thinking "How is this going to succeed on CBS?" The show is about three couples in the mid 70s (the summer of 1976 to be precise, just like Dazed and Confused) who are all dealing with various relationship issues, most of which revolve around the swinging couple who open their eyes to all kinds of other worlds. It was on NetBox, but has since been taken down, but is still worth checking out.

But even I wasn't convinced by the first episode. I couldn't help but think that That 70s Show did a couple episodes like this and they was hilarious (Kitty and Red get invited to Bob and Midge's naked party, there's also one with a key party I think). By the end of the 13 episode run, though, it had quickly become a high quality show, one with characters I was really interested in and would like to have had another season or two to get to know.

And the biggest reason is the adult cast (the kids aren't the main focus and tend towards annoying, but I do appreciate that the creators weren't solely focused on the grown-ups, something that would have surely gotten more interesting in the next season). You've got three couples who are the focus of the show. Susan and Bruce Miller have the spotlight on them most of the time because they're the white collar family moving from one neighborhood to another. Their good friends from their previous neighborhood, Roger and Janet, represent the uber-straight laced folks (mostly Janet, to be honest) and Tom and Trina, the new neighbors, who also happen to be free wheeling swingers, bring the trinity to a close. As our heroes, Susan and Bruce are the ones who are experiencing new things in life thanks to Tom and Trina in the swinging 70s, all the while trying to see how their old lives with Roger and Bruce still fit and how they fit with each other.

In my opinion, the fulcrum which balanced the show were Trina and Tom. See, they could have easily come off as super creepy, kinky weirdoes, but they play their roles so honestly, that you just can't dislike them, even uptight Janet starts to like them. Tom, played by Grant Show, was my personal favorite. He's got this rad, comforting voice that shatters the 70s porn star look he's got going on with his big hair and mustache, and makes you see the humanity behind him.

And, for a show that only lasted 13 episodes, a LOT was going on. I read a quote on Wiki from one of the creators where he said that he thought the show was really well wrapped up, but I gotta disagree. They knew the show might not be making it to a second season, but I do wish a few more things would have been cleaned up, though, that's obviously not how life works. So, if you dig shows like That 70s Show or Freaks & Geeks or just well crafted drama that takes a look at the sexual revolution from the perspective of suburban Chicagoans, then this is the show for you. Highly recommended.

Oh, DO go on.

Alias Season 4 Was Pretty Rad

I'm sure after my previous two posts that it comes as a shock to find out how much I enjoyed the fourth season of Alias and I can firmly give credit to two sources. One, a clearly higher budget (a dude shatters and there's a giant floating red ball over a city among other SFX) and the other, Mr. Drew Goddard who came into write towards the end of Buffy, moved to Angel, then wrote and produced Alias and went on to write Cloverfield. He only wrote 5 episodes according to IMDb, but every time I noticed his name, I enjoyed the episode, but I also enjoyed all the episodes on a much higher level. Maybe it's because I knew what to expect, but what could have come off as cheesy and over-the-top to others, just felt awesome to me. Even the twists, many of which Em and I called, were fun to watch. And the season finale with the family kicking ass and taking names was awesome. They were like a real life super hero team and I love that kind of stuff. I was also thrown by the last few minutes and am psyched to get the first disc of Season 5.

I've also got to call out an episode called "The Road Home" which guest starred Jason Segel of Freaks & Geeks, Knocked Up, How I Met Your Mother, I Love You Man and Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame. He plays a guy in another country (can't remember which one) who gets caught up in one of Jennifer Garner's ops. It's a great little fish out of water story with an actor I love. Overall, the famous guest roles were way down this season, but one guy returned that I love and haven't mentioned yet, and that is Angus Scrimm. He played the crazy old guy who interrogated everyone in the first season or two but has disappeared thanks to the plot twists. He's back in this and I love seeing the Tall Man in anything. Fantastic casting, by the way. Damn, he's creepy.

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Halloween Scene: Jason On The Arsenio Hall Show

I have no idea how much this has made the rounds, but I stumbled across it today and just had to share it with you guys. Jason went on the Arsenio Hall Show to help promote Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan and here's what happened.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Halloween Scene: Spider Baby, or The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968)

You guys, this is a weird one. You've got a kind of haunted house/creepy family story following a chauffeur played by Lon Chaney (this might be the first Chaney movie I've ever seen) who is taking care of three children who are crazy killers. You see, as our narrator tells us in the beginning of the flick, it's called Marrye Syndrome and it effects only one family ever and makes its victims regress back to a maniacal state (kind of like Wolverine, but with noses). We're introduced to the truly strange children when the poor delivery man gets stabbed to death by Virigina who's playing "spider", then her sister Elizabeth walks in and says "Are you crazy?" but more like she's saying "We're having meatloaf again?" Then you've got their brother Ralph who's played by Sid Haig like a pinhead from Freaks.

As the movie progresses (and it really does get slow at times, which is impressive considering it's only got an 81 minute run time), extended family members come to reclaim the children from Chaney and start asking a lot of pesky questions, like what happened to their parents. I guess this is SPOILER territory, but I just can't help talking about the weirdness. Their father is actually a skeleton, who they kiss goodnight. Their aunts and uncles, who are animal-like cannibals live down in a basement that looks like something out of The House On Haunted Hill. Oh, also one of the dudes, he might be a lawyer or something, is sporting a Hitler mustache. Not a good fashion choice bro.

So, yeah, the movie gets to a point where the woman in the poster above is changing into black lingerie for a good deal of time only to be attacked later by the kids who hunt her down in the woods surrounding the house. All in all, I gotta say that I recommend checking this little ball of weirdness out. The poster they show on NetBox is the above one, but I like this one MUCH better, it looks rad. Oh, also of note, the movie was originally made in 1964, but didn't come out till 68, partly due to the studio going under, but also because the original title was Cannibal Orgy. It's an interesting choice, but lacks the orgy aspect completely. Hell, there isn't even any boob. I wonder if the Director's Cut that the box art here boasts is any different (you know, has more orgies). Did orgy used to mean something else back in the 60s? Weird.

Oh, DO go on.

Season Premieres: HIMYM, Accidentally On Purpose, Big Bang Theory, Castle

Last night was a big one for TV premieres. How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory being two of my favorite shows on TV, I was jazzed to see them back, plus Castle was the surprise hit of my TV watching season (and I enjoy it even more now that I've seen Firefly). So here goes.

I thought this was a really strong season opener. I had kind of forgotten where things left off last season and missed about the first minute of this episode, but I dug Ted's new job as a professor (how did he get that gig?) and Barney and Robin's relationship and Lilly's manipulation of that. Plus, you get some awesome whip work AND Barney punching that big guy in the face! "I'll punch a BABY!" Great line, can't wait to see where things go from here.

AOP didn't really grab my attention thanks to the commercials, but I used to watch Dharma & Greg and nothing else was on, so what the hell? I was surprised with how much I liked it, even though it's basically Knocked Up The Series, but without Katherine Hiegl, thank Christ. Unbeknownst to me, the show features two other amazing actors. You've got Ashley Jensen who was brilliant on Extras as the kinda slutty friend and Grant Show as her ex boyfriend (he was on Swingtown, which we just finished watching and I'll get to soon enough cause it was great and so was he). Like I mentioned it feels like Knocked Up with Sex In The City thrown in (one friend's a slut, one's a prude!) with whatever show features young slacker dudes, but it gets a pass for now.

Now, this was a season finale I knew: the guys were leaving for the arctic when Penny realized she loved Leonard. And it paid off with Penny and Leonard finally getting together...again. I hope they don't do something weird like they did after they started dating at the end of the first season. The whole Sheldon-being-angry thing lead to some pretty funny moments and I'm always excited to see former Roseanne cast members showing up like Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon's mom. I did notice that there didn't seem to be as many DC Direct figures in the background, but I did see a bunch of Showcases and the four Jack Kirby Fourth World Omnibi on one of the shelves in Sheldon's bedroom. Unfortunately, they didn't pan up, so I couldn't see what covers were framed above his bed. When I interviewed the producer for ToyFare, he said they actually switch those out. OH, you could also see comics in bins behind Penny sporting a Batman comic of some kind, JLA, The Demon. Good stuff.

I'm pretty sure Castle is the only procedural we watch at this point (does Fringe count?), but I just dig the characters. Fillion's charming as hell, his partner's rad and I hope they do get into the death of her mother more, because it sounds like something big is going on there. The episode itself was satisfying and sexy and what more do you want?

Oh, DO go on.

Demolition Derby

As I mentioned a couple days ago, I had a very redneck weekend (literally in fact, as I got a little color on the back of my neck thanks to walking around the flea market), which included a demolition derby at the Orange County Fair Speedway. I had never been to something like this before, but, hearing that there would be a bus race, I was in (well, kinda, I probably wouldn't have gone on my own, but Em and her parents and Amy were all going, so what the hell?).

And you know what? I was a little disappointed. The bus race had three short buses and then two longer ones, so it wasn't a big surprise who would win that one. There was a funny moment where one of the dudes near me turned to his buddies and said "How do you think they get the buses here?" Probably zeppelin. Then there was a trailer race, but two of the cars were just pulling two wheel trailers with nothing on it. The rest were vans pulling campers. I proudly admit that I totally called the winner of that race (yeah green van!). There was also a stuntman of sorts who drove a semi truck into a bus that was standing straight up on the emergency exit sticking in the air. Oh, there was also this race where the cars had their hoods and trunks tied up so they couldn't see shit. Craziness. Then, the demolition derby started and I gotta say, I was highly disappointed. See, it wasn't a figure eight or anything like that, because they had people in the center with their trucks and whatever, so what they did was they cordoned off a section of one of the long parts of the track and just had these dudes smash into each other. There was hardly any carnage, very little fire and no one hit with a tire. Ah well, here's the slide show, I figured this would be easier than showing each picture individually. Oh, also, the pictures clearly suck, but it's hard to get a good shot of a slow moving bus apparently.

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Casting Internets

I meant to post this earlier today, but the time does fly.

Anyone watch the Emmys? They were alright, Neil Patrick Harris did a great job hosting and I especially liked the obscure filmography call-outs and the PC guy from the Mac & PC commercials doing color commentary. I still don't think anything can make the made-for-TV movie stuff interesting. Has anyone heard of more than two of those movies? Yawn. It gave me time to read Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

I love Boner Party. About 99% of the time, they match up pretty perfectly with my views on the ladies, especially Zooey Deschanel getting married to Ben Gibbard. Now I know what it was like for teenage girls in the 60s and 70s when they found out their favorite Beatle was getting married. Sigh.

This Is Photobomb brings you this amazing picture with Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, a sleevless rock and roll cowboy and yellow Mexican bootleg Spider-Man.

/Gamer has a slew of awesome photos of a real life representation of the Piranha Planet from the Mario games. Check it.

Oh, DO go on.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quick Movie Review: Original Gangstas (1996)

You know what two names will get me to watch any movie at any time? Richard Roundtree (that's Shaft, duh) and Pam Grier. So much awesomeness deserves loyalty dammit and as a result, when I stumbled upon a movie on NetBox called Original Gangstas, starring the two of them, Fred Williamson (who plays the captain in the Starsky & Hutch movie) and Jim Brown (who played Byron, the big dude in Mars Attacks!) I was sold. Adding the fact that it's about older dudes coming back to their neighborhood to take the streets back from the members of the gang that they started back when they were kids had me turning that bad boy on right away. Ever since I saw Deathwish 4 with a geriatric Charles Bronson mowing down teenage gangbangers with a freaking machine gun (Jesse Ventura-in-Predator), I've wanted to see punk kids get what's coming to them. Have I mentioned that, for some reason, my grade school thought it would be a good idea to show us several videos on gang violence. In fourth grade. I also happened to live across the street from a park, which people told me was where gangs hung out. Needless to say, I had trouble sleeping for fear of being mowed down in a drive by. I lived on a dead end street. Thanks school! Anyway, the gang members in this flick make it easy to hate them as they beat up an old guy and kill some kids. Jerks. So yeah, it's a little bit slow at times, but the end firefight between old folks (this is where Roundtree really comes in, it's mostly the Williamson/Brown/Grier show) and the young kids is pretty awesome. Worth the price of admission for sure.

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Flea Market Shenanigans

Boy, did I have a red neck weekend. Em's parents were in town and they're always down for some yard sailing and flea market attending so we attended two separate ones AND a demolition derby. Stay tuned for tons of demo derby pics tomorrow, but right now, I want to share some experiences and pictures with you from the flea market we went to on Saturday morning at the Stormville Airport. Technically it was a giant garage sell, which means it's just regular people selling their junk and boy was there a lot of junk. Since I've recently found myself sans full time job, Em and I decided to spend little to know money and I think we only spent about $5, but it was a ton of fun and I even got some rad stuff.

As always we got there pretty early, but I think that was a benefit because you never know who might buy the Michael Jackson bust. Anyway, more on that later. Right now, check out these really weird celebrity paintings. You can see Alias' Jennifer Garner in this particular photo and there were about a dozen others, some I actually recognized, others, now way, even though they had the actor's name on some of them. Scarlett Johansson's was pretty terrible.

It was a good show for paintings actually as you can see in these next two pics. Right after passing the table with the above weird celebrity paintings we got near this van with several larger painting leaning up against it. You can see a painting on the far left which I think is called Little Boy Blue or some such. As a side note, this is what a lot of the various lots look like, with a van, car, table or blanket holding all of the junk people want to get rid of. But what really caught my attention was that painting to the right, can you see it?

How about a better look? Yeah, there you go. It just looks like an old ass lady crawling towards a creepy sunset in a desert with a rock or two and one flower. I really like the sparseness of it. You can tell the artist was really reaching into his inner depths. Oh, wait, actually I love the bat shit craziness of this thing. If I had my way, it would be hanging in my place right now, but, well I don't and it's not, so hopefully someone else picked it up or I can grab it when I finally get my man cave.

I took this picture because I thought this guy who was wearing orange crocs and riding around on a Razor scooter looked lame. But, I also captured a pretty awesome moment in the background where the old woman who had just finished demonstrating how to play the accordion her and her husband were selling. It was a pretty rad performance, which is what stopped me at their table in the first place. Oh and that bass amp in the bottom right hand corner that I was too chicken to ask about. I couldn't find the damn booth again to ask later, so I suck. I currently don't have a bass amp in NY because the one I have back in Ohio is way too big.

Well, here's my favorite thing from the whole day (and that includes the demolition derby). As you can see it's a Michael Jackson bust with a bunch of chips taken out of it and a Pee Wee Herman doll next to it. I think they were charging $30 or 40 for MJ. That's another thing I would have purchased, you know, if it was just $5, but whatever. I'm sure someone made off with it and I envy them. It kind of looks like MJ is whispering sweet nothings or kill lists into Pee Wee's ears, doesn't it?

As you know, I'm a big horror fan. As a kid, I remember going into different stores and seeing these really intricate and disgusting rubber Halloween masks that would scare the crap out of me (like, WAY scarier than the ones in AWESOME Halloween 3). As a result I still get pretty jazzed anytime I see masks. The ones at this space weren't that cool, but they look pretty creepy all laid out on a blanket like this, don't they?

This is just a shot of one of the aisles. There's basically two really long aisles with rows on each side, a few food booths (carny food, mostly), porta potties and tons of people bumping into each other with their carts. The place used to be an old airfield, so there's a lot of space. If you're in the not-upstate New York area, you should definitely check it out. Also, of note, I tried to take most of these pics on the sly, but this one was clearly seen by the lady who looks like she's trying to dodge my picture like it's a bullet being fired at Neo in the Matrix.

Here you have a Daewoo VCR. I took this picture solely for Rickey, who drives a car made by Daewoo, a company that makes just about everything else in the world. As you can see they do VCRs, my inlaws' microwave and a back hoe I used to see tearing scrap metal apart on my train ride into the city. I don't think I've ever seen another Daewoo automobile, but I'm sure when it starts breaking down, my inlaws will be happy to scrap their microwave to help him out.

Here's one of those pictures that I didn't really get all that well because I didn't want it to be super obvious that I was taking a picture of this guy's creepy stuffed polar bear. I'm REALLY hoping it's just a toy or something, but decide for yourself, that's it on the far right of the image. I'm still not completely unconvinced this little dude wasn't in the background of Cliffhanger.

Like I said in the beginning I did spend some money at the flea market, $3 to be exact. I spent $1 on these three original Masters of the Universe figures (that's He-Man to you less nerdy folks). I was pretty jazzed to see them. Here you've got Grizzlor, Hordak and Jitsu. I was especially excited because these figures are complete except for their weapons, which is no big deal. And yeah, Grizz is actually furry, like a troll doll, but radder. He also looks like he's ready to bust a move at any point and there's nothing you can do about it.

And here's my final purchase, Critters 1, 2, and 4 on tape. I was always fascinated by the boxes to 1 and 2 when I was a kid wandering through the video store. I love the art and will probably be drawing my version of the cover to 1 in the next couple days. I'm also hoping that I might find my elusive mini monster movie. Oh, and also, the fourth one is in SPACE! It worked for leprechaun, why not Critters?

Lastly, I want to let you fine readers know that a woman with a booth is the reason you won't be hearing the hot beats that have been pounding in my skull lately. I went to buy a Yamaha drum machine that would have probably driven me crazy because it sounded old and tin-y, but whatever, I pulled out my $5 to hand to her and the woman said no and put the drum machine back behind the table. Bullshit, right? I think so. So, what I'm really asking is if anyone has a drum machine or keyboard I can have. Holla!

Oh, DO go on.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Movie Review: Star Slammer (1987)

Have you ever thought to yourself "Boy, I sure would like to watch a women's prison movie, but instead of it being set on Earth, I'd like to see some weird alien shit too?" Well, then Star Slammer (aka Prison Ship, according to IMDb) is the movie for you. But be warned, it's probably not as exploitative as you'd expect. Yes, there's some weird girl on girl hazing and a pointless "change in front of the group" scene, but you're also treated to a score that rips off from Star Wars extensively as well as some Jawa clones that make the Goblins in Troll 2 look like Tom Savini put them together. It really is not a great movie, but then you get treated to a fight scene between two women space prisoners and a children's show host who looks like Venom's ugly step child. On the real, this is a dumb movie, but it's also completely worth watching if you want to see some of the strangest Star Wars homages in the world as well as some weird space prison action. I will be honest, I wasn't expecting a women's space prison movie when I added this to my NetBox queue, I thought it was more of a play on "Starjammers" which is pretty pornographic on its own now that I think about it. Anyway, it's worth a peep for sure, especially if you have the glory that is Netflix on Xbox or your computer.

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My First Story Is Up

Hey gang, my very first story is up! Check out this story where I interviewed Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs about his love of comics! Check it out.
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Ad It Up: JLA Membership Drive

Once again taken from a 1998 Major Bummer issue, this one #8, here you've got an ad for Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's JLA. I'm guessing this is from JLA #16 where the ranks swelled to include Orion et al. Man, that's just an amazing comic book run. I recently re-read the first 10 issues and it still holds up as well as anything and even includes status quo changes like Superman becoming electric. I also feel like it's timely because we just got this cool piece of Mark Bagley art for his upcoming run on Justice League of America with James Robinson (via Newsarama. Justice League is a concept I've been in love with since I started reading comics, but even I'm not reading that book anymore, so there's nowhere to go but up.

Oh, DO go on.

Live Blogging: Crank High Voltage (2009)

Continuing the Crank fun from the other day and to show my support for tonight's Manly Movie Night I'll be missing, here's my live blog of Crank's sequel Crank: High Voltage. I was super jealous of Sean when he got to see this flick in theaters and blogged about it. Sean had this to say earlier this year: "Like an unholy cross between Chuck Norris's Invasion U.S.A., Troma, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, the movie was wildly and needlessly experimental, and was offensive even to me at times, and had no redeeming social value whatsoever except to punch you in the face repeatedly with a fist made of entertainment. I'd be amazed all over again if I see a movie I enjoy more than this one for the rest of the year." I would honestly count this as one of the best action movies of all time and it's ability to top its predecessor, which was already an impressively over the top movie is, well, just plain amazing.

The plot of this one is that Chev Chelios fell out of the helicopter, but they grabbed his body right away and kept him alive for 3 months before opening him up to harvest his organs. They get his heart and replace it with a robot one, but it isn't until he overhears them talking about cutting of his penis that he freaks out and kicks ass. Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam return in their same roles and Efren Ramirez plays his character from the first movie's brother Venus. Now, instead of needing adrenaline to stay alive, Chev has to shock his robot heart to keep it charged. As you can imagine, it's amazing.

Again spoilers follow and I highly encourage you to see this movie as soon as possible. It just came out on DVD last week or the week before. It's simply amazing. Well, here we go.

*Love that 8-bit credits.

*This is like watching Star Wars or Lord of the Rings back to back, but way cooler.

*News guy calls events of the first movie "implausible" - no kidding.

*Oh man, that dude puts ashes in Chev's open chest cavity. That's cold.

*He's awake during the surgery!!!

*"The famous Chelios heart" - subtitle, dude's so rad his HEART is famous.

*Where did she shove that pencil? Not cool.

*He dips the shotgun in tar and sticks it up the dude's ass--that's what you get bad guy!

*I like that he basically figures out the catch to survival on his own in both movies.

*"Jesus H. Chelios" - needs to be on a T-shirt.

*Nice film strip-like fake heart explanation from Yoakam.

*Oh man, his battery is already messed up after skidding.

*I don't think any movie star runs more than Statham.

*I love seeing the Social Club get emptied from the outside, that's a great touch. One man goes in (Chev) and everyone else flies out!

*There's Corey a strip club, did he even know this was a movie? He's wearing a Nice Jugs t-shirt with pictures of milk jugs. Classy.

*Strippers with guns, it's like Sin City with implant jokes.

*Haha, the cops tazed him, not good for them.

*They finally explained that he's been gone for three months, love the phone message explanation.

*"Is Doc Miles gonna have to choke a bitch?" - nice one Dwight!

*Nice porn star cameos in the porn strike scene.

*Free style walking ball smash!

*Dog shock collar and the dog bits the cops junk, heh, nice.

*Kaylo's brother Venus has tourettes, that should be interesting.

*He's dry humping an old lady and she's loving it!

*The soundtrack is brilliant, Tarantin-esque.

*People love watching people have sex in various positions on a race track.

*Smart's way too turned on by seeing horse penis.

*"Well, you ain't no Ralph Macchio yourself Chev" - Venus.

*Gotta love a good man vs. car chase.

*They just made the heart transplant nonsense make sense. Impressive.

*Best in-car shootout ever.

*Dude just cut off his own nipples, squirm-o-ramma.

*Love seeing Haim get the hammer dropped on him by Smart after sucking.

*The shrink totally wants to bang the orderly from the first one...heh, sucks to be him.

*What the? It's like Godzilla under the power lines!!!

*Interesting talk show-style flashback to Chev as a kid with his mom complete with "he's a bad kid" clips. His mom looks an awful lot like Amy Smart.

*That's a lot of balls, but nicely followed by lots of boobs and butts.

*Floating robot head villain from the first movie AND his brother is The Ferret AND Ferret's beating Chev with a cat-o-nine-tails.

*Venus FINALLY kicks ass and with nun-chucks no less.

*Crazy awesome multi-group shoot out and fight scene!!!

*Chev's literally on fire and kicking ass, damn, even his face. GET SOME WATER!

*Watch through the credits as they actually end the story there and then do some fun out takes and whatnot.

Oh, DO go on.