Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Manitou

This November kind of slipped away from me. Having power out for two weeks didn't help. Then I just kind of lost track of time. Hard to believe Thanksgiving has already passed. On the bright side, once I got cable back, several days after I got power restored, I found some fun stuff on the tube. The Manitou was one of them.

I remember this movie from when WPIX would show loads of horror movies during October. I never saw it. I scoffed at it because it was an old movie and looked hokey. Oh, how I wish I could go back and set my younger self straight.

I mean, yes, the movie does look old and hokey, but it is incredibly entertaining. A lot of reviews I've seen for it call it a rip off of The Exorcist. I wonder if those people have seen either movie. One is about the devil possessing a little girl and deals with faith. The Manitou deals with a lady who has a tumor growing on her back that is actually a fetus that contains an ancient Indian medicine man who is waiting to be reborn. That doesn't sound much like a rip off to me.

Tony Curtis stars as an awesome fortune teller whose friend is the one who is afflicted by the growth, or Manitou. He has a fantastic robe with astrological symbols on it, dances to disco when opening a beer and reads tarot cards like nobody's business. He spearheads the mission to find out what is exactly happening when he sees doctors unable to remove the growth because the girl starts speaking in a strange language and makes the surgeon cut himself instead. And a laser goes nuts and starts shooting all over the place. And an old woman throws herself down the stairs of his apartment building after floating down the hall.

So he has a hunch something odd is going on. Fortunately, Burgess Meredith is around doing his best Colonel Sanders impression and sets him on the right path. And there's a kick ass friendly medicine man who is ready to help for some tobacco.

All of this leads up to a crazy finale that has such wonderous sights as the manitou crawling out of the girl's back, a man being hit with electricity and exploding and the woman, now topless, waking after being energized by the power of computers and shooting lasers out of her hands at the manitou and an elder god.

It's a fun movie that doesn't slow down and keeps you interested with some fine set pieces. It really has the feel of a 70s Italian horror film, particularly with the crazy ending, as that seems to be right out of their playbook. Well worth a look if you're a fan of fun movies. Check it out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Planet of the Vampires

I remember seeing the cover for this movie back when I would troll the video store shelves looking for something horrific to watch. I never ended up getting it though. I don't think the art looked like this, though it was similar. It had more skeletal creatures on it but I remember the face of the space man, I think. It was years ago, so you'll have to forgive me if I get it wrong. It took me about 20 years, but I finally made up for leaving it on the shelf so long ago.

Was it worth it? You bet.

This is classic 60s sci-fi, done by one of the masters of cinema, Mario Bava. It simply oozes style and scares and has a decent story to boot. It follows the story of two space ships that are exploring a distress signal from a mysterious planet. Due to a sudden gravity field disturbance, the ships crash and are separated. Most everyone falls unconscious save for Captain Mark Markary (fantastic name), who guides his ship down and is treated to his ship mates trying to kill each other. After stopping them from doing so and helping them regain their senses, they all decide to look for their companion ship so they can get the hell off of this rock. Unfortunately, what waits for them outside isn't so friendly, as they are picked off one by one by a mysterious foe. Can they find the other ship and get off the planet in one piece? Why are the corpses of dead crew members reanimating? Where can I get one of those cool space suits? All these questions and more are answered, on the PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES!

Ok, maybe not the last question. Still, this is a fun film with an interesting premise and some nifty effects work. The use of color in the film gives it a pulpy feel like we're reading an old EC comic and there's an eerie fog that is put to good use in both hiding the limited sets and creating a spooky atmosphere that holds only danger for our heroes. The cast is good and attack their parts with great gusto. The captain in particular is rather awesome. My only complaint would be that they tend to leave people alone quite a bit when they know something is taking them out, even if they can't see what.

Fun fact that you can read everywhere else: This movie is said to have inspired some parts of Alien, though the screenwriters for that deny ever seeing it. Still, you have a ship investigating a distress signal on a strange planet and they find a strange ship with a gigantic skeleton in it as well. Of course the rest of Alien seems to crib quite a bit from It, the Terror From Beyond Space so they really just mushed the two together. It's just really cool to the elements that they may have used. If the writers didn't see it, maybe the production designers did. Who knows?

If you like the old films and have a hankering for some classic sci-fi/horror, check it out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Piranha 3D

Got Netflix hooked up on the tv in the basement now so I can watch awesome stuff like this movie while my other watches horrible shows I shall not mention.

I've been a fan of Piranha since I was little. I think I even saw it before I ever saw Jaws. I saw the sequel with the flying fish. I saw the remake with the Greatest American Hero and Punky Brewster. When this new remake came out, I knew I had to see it, though since life intervenes, I didn't manage to do that until last night.

Much like the original, it involves a school of piranha being loosed from their containment into a lake. However, instead of being military grade man-eating fish, these are prehistoric ones that have been locked away for a few million years in an underground lake. When an earthquake hits, they are released and carnage ensues.

And boy, does it. There is no shying away from the blood in this movie. Or the nudity, for that matter, as they have both in copious amounts. People are gnawed to death with great fervor and we see legless people, armless people, people with no skin on their face, thoroughly chewed skeletons and more. The practical effects for these parts are rather amazing too. The CG could use a little work, though that might be due to the 3D process they used as anything CG looked rather apparently so. A few prop fish might have done them some wonders.

In addition to the sheriff trying to close the beach and stop the threat in a homage to Jaws, we also have her son who is out on the lake with a sleazy filmmaker and some ladies he wants to get to know better. Then there's her other kids, who are stranded out on the lake too. So there's drama to go around. Elisabeth Shue plays the sheriff and I don't remember when she went from hot babysitter to hot mom, but now I feel old. Their stories are all entertaining, though the little kids need to be smacked, I think.

A good way to pass an hour and a half.

Check it out.

The Falling

I can't remember where I heard about The Falling, but I kept seeing it pop up in the horror section of Netflix and decided to give it a watch as the copy I have of Night of the Werewolf is apparently all in Spanish with no subs. Fantastic.

The Spanish connection continues in this film as the three main characters are making their way across Spain in a RV. Unfortunately for them, they stop in a small town where alien parasites have started taking over the townsfolk and turning them into zombie-like folk whose heads eventually explode and release the alien. Meanwhile, a NASA investigator is trying to stop the outbreak before it can spread to a more populated area.

It stars a guy from Chariots of Fire and the girl from Ice Castles and is actually pretty decent. There's a bit of a love triangle between the three heroes, as the two guys both have a crush on the girl they are traveling with, though she just wants to keep both of them in the friend zone. The encounters they have in the town get steadily creepier until we're in full blown outbreak territory.

Spoilers ahead.

My only problem with it is the ending. They were given a vaccine that they risked their necks to obtain, but at the end it doesn't work, as illustrated by the drops of blood from Dennis Christopher's nose, which is a telltale sign of infection. I understand that it makes it a bit of a shocker, but it's just so damn hard to tell how you get infected. It isn't limited to this movie either. A lot of these "virus" films pull such shenanigans, where a person at the end is miraculously infected and either spreads the germ or has to be killed. I prefer more precise vectors or at least a situation where it adds to the tension, like in a movie where they're wearing containment suits and one breaches and then you don't know if they're infected but there is certainly a chance.

End spoilers.

Speaking of containment suits, this movie has perhaps the silliest looking scientific equipment in the form of the space suits that the scientist and his friend wear. Nothing says "space age" like motorcycle helmets. Pure awesomeness. I love it when movies do that.

A decent movie and well worth checking out.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vs. Reality

Vs. Reality (Vs. Reality, #1)Vs. Reality by Blake Northcott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Checked out this book on a lark as I follow the author on Twitter. It's an enjoyable and fast read that utilizes and interesting take on superheroes. Instead of everyone being powered all the time, they have to activate their abilities in different ways and then they only last for a limited time.

This book focuses on Cole, a boxer who can't win a fight and who finds himself thrust into the world of would-be heroes and a shadowy syndicate of Collectors that want to capture them for their own nefarious reasons. They're a motley crew, but they just might have what it takes.

I found the characters well-rounded and entertaining and I cared for their plight. I think the villains could have used a bit more fleshing out, but they served their purpose and were suitably badass and imposing. This is the first book in a series and I can't wait to check out the next one. You should too.

Good job, Blake!

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Saturday, October 06, 2012

New Year's Evil

You know you're in for an interesting time when a slasher movie has its own them song. Sometimes you have to wait until the end like in My Bloody Valentine. Other times, like in New Year's Evil, you hear it right off the bat. And then several times more thanks to it being a song sung by a band on the tv show in the movie. Just nod along.

Anyhow, I was looking for something horror-related to watch last night and since I taped this off TCM a few months ago, why not clear off my DVR in the process?

It's an entertaining movie, following a killer and spending quite a bit of time with him as he kills people as the New Year hits in different time zones and phones in the recordings he makes to a woman hosting a New Wave New Year's Countdown. He goes through a variety of disguises as he kills, from orderly to cop to priest to porno mustache. Most of the kills are rather bland but the music and total 80s immersion make it worth it. It's such a great slice of what made that decade ridiculous at times.

Plus there's a young Teri Copley as a teenager who is preyed upon by the killer. Also, there's an awesome voice changer that the killer uses when phoning in to the show. And the bizarre son of the tv host who wears her stockings over his face for some of the movie.

Might be something you want to watch closer to the holidays instead of October, but it's worth a look.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Bloody Birthday

Sometimes a movie suckers me in with a good premise. Other times it is because of an actor that I want to see. That's what happened with Bloody Birthday, as I was cruising around Netflix and looking for something fun to watch. I saw Michael Dudikoff was in it and I love me some American Ninja.

All I can say is, damn you, Netflix.

In a small California town, three children are born during an eclipse. This is bad, as they grow up a bit wrong, and ten years later these kids are full blow psychos and killing people around town as they gear up for their birthday. Only Timmy and his sister realize the kids are evil after escaping from being killed by the little tykes and its up to them to stop them.

I wasn't that thrilled with the film. I'll tell you why but spoilers will abound, so beware. First of all, it's a killer kid movie. That's not really a spoiler. It's on the damn poster and revealed in the first fifteen minutes or so. Sweet art, by the way. They don't make posters like that anymore, do they? But I digress. I've never been a fan of killer kid movies. Mainly because they usually have the kid win or get off without consequences. So you're rooting for people that ultimately lose or even if they win, the kid is out there to kill again. That's what happens here. They fooled me too, as at one point a girl is sharpening garden shears and I thought for sure they would use them on one of the evil kids, maybe fending off an attack. The most we get to see in terms of justice is the hero kid punching one of them in the face, which is pretty satisfying. And even though two get arrested, one gets away to kill again. Ugh.

On the bright side, we get to see Julie Brown in all her glory, and that ain't too bad. The kills are alright. Nothing crazy but well done. It is rather hilarious that the murders take place and the funerals are the next day. That must have been one busy undertaker. Also, they still have the party for the kids even though the town is being slaughtered by the ruthless kids and one of their own father's is a victim. That would put a bit of a downer on the festivities, I would think.

Not the greatest of films but it'll keep you entertained and it is rather short. I'm just not a huge fan of the sub-genre. They need some comeuppance, damnit.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Town That Dreaded Sundown

I was feeling rather in the Fall spirit yesterday so I settled in for the night with a bourbon and The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which was directed by Charles Pierce, who did the Legend of Boggy Creek and stars Dawn Wells in a bit part. I had heard it was a decent slasher and it seems to be rather well regarded so I taped it off of TCM the other night. Since I couldn't go out to play MTG last night for a number of reasons, it seemed like a good choice. Also my DVR is getting rather full so I had to clear some of the films off.

It's certainly a capable film, bearing the hallmarks of Pierce's previous film with narration making up a decent part of the storytelling and it's in Texarkana to boot. It feels much like an extended reenactment like you would find on Unsolved Mysteries, though with ill-fitting comedic elements that serve only to hamper the film. Which is a shame, as the murder set pieces are damn good.

The killer, whose look it appears the F13 crew ripped off for Jason in Part 2, mainly stalks couples on lovers lanes. And he doesn't play around. There's a tension that creeps ever upward as we see the killer zero in on his hapless victims before springing on them. He'll punch through windows, hang off your car and even shoot you in your house if you're unlucky enough to be chosen. And he doesn't say a word. The chase scene with Dawn Wells is a highlight of the film and is a rather intense affair. It's a shame that right after it finishes that they have an ill-advised comic relief bit with a lady and a cat jumping out of a garbage can.

Not the worst way to spend a night and some scenes are downright chilling. I just can't stop wondering why they would have a bumbling cop in there like he was a refugee from Smokey and the Bandit. Odd. Well worth checking out, especially if you can catch it on TCM as the print they showed was absolutely gorgeous.

Monday, September 10, 2012

90K

The first edits on the book are done. As it stands, or sits, the novel is around 90,000 words long. I'd say in editing I added about 8,000 words. More than I expected, though I knew there were probably going to be substantial edits. Looking forward to printing it out and getting some peer review on it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Doctor(ed) Art


The new season starts on Saturday so I thought I'd celebrate with some art I cooked up awhile back. Enjoy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gil's All Fright Diner

Gil's All Fright DinerGil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Over my vacation, I got handed a new book to read by my brother-in-law. He raved about it and said that this particular author was brilliant and funny and had a good grasp on horror as well. So I read the book on my flight home and I must say that I agree.

Duke and Earl are a werewolf and a vampire who are traveling on the road when they find an all-night diner that is besieged by zombies. They stop to help and get some grub and find that zombies might not be the only problem they have to deal with and that the world itself might very well be threatened.

It's a wild ride to get there and Duke and Earl are a bunch of good old, blue collar workers, but they just happen to be supernaturally handicapped by their conditions. The wit just oozes off the page and once you start into their world, you won't be able to put it down. I can't wait to read more of the author's work, as he has really grabbed my attention with this great novel.

Check it out.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Shark Night

I was looking for something quick and bloody to watch the other night, and I finally decided on checking out Shark Night on Netflix. I mainly started to watch it because I follow Christie B. Quinn on Twitter and she's in the opening scene. Then I saw Joel David Moore was in it and kept on watching, because honestly, he's pretty damn awesome.

I'm glad I kept it on.

Yeah, it's PG-13, so you're rather limited on the blood and nudity turns out to be some Katherine McPhee side-boob but it's a pretty fun ride. Sure the end reason for all the sharks is pretty ridiculous, but it doesn't really matter because you're having such a good time watching it. Instead of being like Jaws, it's actually more like, well, a slasher, in a way, as there is definitely a methodology to the kills. And there's a variety of sharks too. Even Deep Blue Sea pretty much had all of the same shark breed attacking people. Here we have Great Whites, Hammerheads, Bull Sharks and a few others for good measure to round out the cast.

Speaking of which, the cast is pretty good. I was afraid I wasn't going to like anyone but Moore, but they're all decent. Even the asshole you start to care for by the end of his run as he's trying to save one of his friends and not just his own skin. Plus it has Donal Logue in it. Love that guy.

Despite a few issues here and there, it's a solid film that will keep you entertained and cheering. Don't forget to watch the music video at the end of the movie. It's fantastic. A fun treat added on to the movie that I've watched several times now. It's just so good.

Check it out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Random Bits

I haven't been up to much this summer. I haven't even really watched many movies. I intend on rectifying that situation post-haste. There is one thing I have been doing though, and that's editing my new book. Currently it's around 83,000 words and growing every time I edit a few more pages. Basically that's from my clarifying some things and describing some events better where I glossed over them the first go-round. I hope to be done by the summer so then I can start shopping it around and then get it published so ya'll can read it. Trying to do the more traditional route this time, but if that doesn't work, then to Createspace I go again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hausu (House)

Friday night was a kickass night. Went to a Matthew Sweet concert. Had good food beforehand. And when I got home, TCM was showing a bunch of Japanese sci-fi and horror movies. I caught Mothra and H-Man, which I had seen before, but was really excited at seeing they were showing Hausu later on. I recorded it, as I had heard good things about its insanity. I wasn't disappointed.

 At its heart, the movie is about a group of girls who go to one of their aunt's house for vacation. The house is haunted and the girls are picked off one by one. Of course, that's a simple distillation and leaves out the important parts, like saying that whiskey is just a drink. Like that the movie really is bat shit insane. The best way to explain it is to say that its like a horror movie mixed with the Monkees and Evil Dead 2, or perhaps Dead Alive. There's just this energy and happiness that pervades the entire thing, even when people are getting eaten by pianos.

Maybe that has something to do with the dancing skeleton that pops up from time to time. Maybe it's because the girls are named after their traits, ie Gorgeous, Professor, Kung Fu, etc. Maybe it's the visual style, where almost every scene has a composited part. Hell, in one scene, the girls are standing in front of a background painting, which is in turn projected behind them.

 It's a wild ride, to be sure, but one well worth taking, especially if you're bored with most haunted house movies now. Made in 1977, Hausu was way ahead of its time. Its wacky, its gonzo and really freaking awesome. Check it out.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Essential Man-Thing Vol. 1

Essential Man-Thing, Vol. 1Essential Man-Thing, Vol. 1 by Roy Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've always been a fan of Swamp Thing, but never really knew much about his counterpart in Marvel Comics, the Man-Thing. Both feature similar origins with a scientist, a secret formula and an accident that lead each of them to become monsters. However, while Swamp Thing is a little more man-like, Man-Thing is a little more monstrous. Indeed, he lacks any real higher brain functions and reacts to emotions, burning that with knows fear with his very touch.

I really enjoyed this first volume of Essential Man-Thing, that collects his early appearances and series. He's a very sad character, brought down by love and forced to live a lonely existence in the swamp, interacting very little with people. Unwittingly, he's often their savior, wandering into drama because of detecting emotions running wild and laying smack down on the bad guys who fear him because he looks so horrific. He fights gators, construction workers, devils, demons and more as he lumbers along through the muck. The stories and art are top-notch, and I often found myself wanting to read just one more story, especially the ones with Jennifer Kale, who I was aware of but not really familiar with her origins. It's some great stuff. Check it out.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Avengers

It took me a few weeks, but I finally got to see the Avengers in the theaters. It was a pretty good flick. If you're unfamiliar with the film, it basically unites characters from all corners of the Marvel Universe into a team, the culmination of seeds which were planted way back in Iron Man. In this movie, the team comes together to stop Loki and an alien invasion.

If any reviewer has called it something like an "action-packed thrill ride", they're pretty much on the money. The movie starts with a bang and that sets the tone for the entire film. Then the individual members (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk) band together and kick ass. That's it in a nut shell.

Fans have been waiting for this film for years now. As I said before, this represents a pretty smart and long-term plan by Marvel to release movies on individual characters that would lead into the team movie. This lets them get the origin stories out of the way in the previous films and also give fans a treat. It's probably the cinematic equivalent of a comic book series, where each movie has it's own story but there are bits and pieces that cross over to form a story arc. I'll admit it. It's pretty damn cool.

I was unsure of how Joss Whedon would handle the material, since he isn't really know for blockbuster movies, but then again, neither was Jon Favreau and he knocked it out of the park with Iron Man. I think Joss turns it up to 11 with the Avengers, and he has to considering all of the parts he has to deal with. Nobody gets the short shrift either. Iron Man gets a little more time than others, but everyone plays a part in the plan and they work together, shocking, as a team in order to repel the threat, complete with a plan and everything.

I think my only complaint is just a bit of casting that goes back to a previous installment, in that I don't think Chris Evans is a good Captain America. I think he's a good actor and I like him in most of the stuff he's in, but he just doesn't capture the look of Cap for me. Maybe it's because I imagine more of a Brad Pitt in the uniform. The costume may be part of the problem for that. While the other heroes have costumes that translate better from the page to the screen, Cap's ends up looking a bit off. Maybe it's the new one for the series as I thought it looked better in his own movie. Oh well, a minor complaint.

It's a great, fun film regardless, so check it out.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Attack the Block

If there's anything I love, it's people killing aliens. Can you blame me? They invade our planet and look to make meals out of us, so it's only normal that we kick their tails for awhile and try to take back what is ours. Usually, this task is left to the military or more action hero-type folk. In Attack the Block, it's up to a group of no-good kids to defend their turf.

Of course, it helps that they possibly instigated it, after they slaughter a lone alien that lands on a car next to them. After that, more show up and they seem to be out for blood, or at least that of the kids that  destroyed their brethren. In the meantime, they're just trying to survive and make sure that the residents of their building don't get eaten.

It's a horror/comedy hybrid, though I would say we're looking at about 80% horror and 20% comedy. The cast is likeable enough for a bunch of thugs, and although you dislike them at first, they do grow on you. I really liked the design for the monsters too. It's very unique and works in a less is more kind of way. Cheap, but effective. Good gore too. Quite a few scenes have us surprised by people getting killed when we least expect it, and I like it that way. It keeps you guessing as to who is safe or not in the movie.

A fun film and well worth a viewing or two. Check it out.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Zombicide

I think Kickstarter could be a dangerous addiction for me. Particularly when then have games like Zombicide for me to drool over. I avoided Zpocalypse because, well honestly I forgot about it but I was going to pledge. This one has just so many miniatures. It's so tempting. But I don't think I can swing the 100 bucks for the set I want so I can get Cardboard Tube Samurai. And more dice. Plus I already have enough other games I don't play. But wouldn't this one be nice? Wouldn't it?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Green Lantern the Animated Series

I'm really loving the Green Lantern cartoon on Cartoon Network. The CGI is good, not stellar, but good enough to replicate the Bruce Timm style that was popularized in JLU and it's predecessors. The stories are where the show really shines. It's playing a bit fast and loose with the continuity, so if you're following the comics, you'll be certain to notice a bunch of deviations.

For the most part, they work. In fact, in some ways they're an improvement on what we've seen in floppies. In particular, I really enjoyed with how they handled Saint Walker. They haven't introduced Blue Lanterns yet in the series but they did give us a good look at his character. It's a big change from the pilgrim we've seen in the comics. This Saint Walker is self-assured and has a good handle on kung-fu, which he puts to good use. That's not to say he runs in kicking butt. Instead, he defends himself from attackers until he is left no other option, knowing in his own way that all will be well.

Such a great show. I need to catch up on the episodes I have on the DVR. I'm such a slacker with tv lately. I apologize. Anyway, check it out.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Pop Sculpture

Pop SculpturePop Sculpture by Tim Bruckner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a toy aficionado, I felt it was a moral imperative to read this book. After all, it wasn't just the normal tome that listed figures and prices that I'm used to. Instead, this one actually gives you insight into starting your own sculpting and toy-making career, from conception to photographing the final product.

It's written by some pros in the industry and they take you through the creature of a figure or two and it's a pretty easy and engrossing read. If you've ever wondered what exactly goes on behind the scenes of the figures and statues you love, this book is well worth checking out.


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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Ward

I started to watch 13 Assassins on Saturday night, but didn't want to read subtitles for two hours. I switched over to watching The Ward, which is John Carpenter's latest movie, his first since Ghosts Of Mars.

The film follows the adventures of Amber Heard, who gets locked up in an mental institution where strange murders have been occurring. Is it a ghost? Or is it something else entirely? Whatever it is, we're on a fun ride getting there. It's a fun cast and each of the girls that is locked up in the ward with Amber Heard's character has some interesting problems. One is suicidal, one thinks she's a little kid, another thinks she's Jackie O or at least dresses like her. It is set in the 60s though so I might just be misjudging that last part.

Much like the Descent, the idea of whether the monster that the people are seeing is real comes up, and it's handled decently. We get tossed a few other red herrings along the way and it ends up being a pleasant surprise how it ends. There is another recent movie that actually does something similar, but I liked this one a lot more. I won't reveal the identity of that film, as if you know the ending, it will give away this one.

It's gotten bad reviews, but it's a pretty enjoyable movie. I don't think it did well though so we might have to wait awhile on another film from Carpenter, which is a shame, as he's one of the true masters of the genre out there and always entertains. Check it out.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Centurion

Switched things up last night and checked out an action film instead of the usual horror flick. It did have pedigree though, being directed by Neil Marshall, who is known for such genre flicks as Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Doomsday. It was pretty damn awesome.

It has a lot in common with some of Marshall's other flicks, mainly being set around a group of people who are fighting against overwhelming odds to try and survive. In this case, it's a band of centurions, led by Micheal Fassbender, who are trying to get back home after their legion is slaughtered by the Picts. Unfortunately for them, they are being hunted by a mute tracker who exudes a demonic intensity and will stop at nothing until she has their heads.

It's a solid film, based very loosely on the story of the Lost Legion. Nobody really knows how it disappeared, so it's an interpretation of what could have happened, but it's a fun ride. It has Marshall's trademark goriness but it all fits considering people are being beheaded and slaughtered via gladius swords and other fun weapons.

The cast does well with their roles. Fassbender is absolutely enthralling in the lead and the men he leads are all good as well, the only one I knew off the bad being Mickey from Doctor Who. Olga Kurylenko makes for a wicked hunter and she is a scary presence throughout the film.

It's another hit from Marshall. I think it works better than Doomsday, which seemed a bit long. This one clocks in at a little over an hour and a half and none of it seems wasted. A good choice if you're in the mood for some historical action. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Liliana


Working on a card alter for the front of my mini binder. It's based on an image Steve Argyle drew in jest. I think it fits the card I want to put it on nicely. :)

I think it might even work as a digital alter if for some reason I decide to make any. Maybe I can make a foil out of it. That could be amusing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides

We were bored on Saturday, so against my better judgement, me and the wifey popped in the new Pirates movie. Sometimes, I should just trust my instincts. Especially as I found the previous two installments rather lackluster. It's a shame, though, as I enjoy the Jack Sparrow character and his shenanigans.

In this film, Jack Sparrow is on a quest for the Fountain of Youth and running into friends and foes both new and old along the way. What should be an interesting and fun quest gets dragged down by extensive action sequences that go on for far too long and appear with almost too much frequency. As a viewer, I shouldn't be bored by the action on screen. It's almost like they decided to parody the series hallmark of stunt sequences with them.

The plot is pretty simple and there's quite a bit of foreshadowing on how the end will play out between two characters in particular. It's unfortunate that it's between two characters we don't care about. It's no fault of the actors, either. They're all good. I think it's that, despite the long run time, we don't really spend long enough with any of them to even start to care about their fates, save for Captain Jack Sparrow, who honestly feels like a bit player in the movie instead of a star.

I think paring it down a bit for a quicker pace would help the film immensely, as well as focusing on more on Sparrow, as he's the main draw for most of us watching. I'm not expecting to be moved to tears by a Pirates movie, but I shouldn't be bored to them either when watching it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Aquabats Super Show

Saturday mornings just got a little brighter. No, not because of Daylight Savings Time. Instead, this stems from a crop of new shows on tv that don't suck. Leading the pack is a show by the Aquabats, a ska band that has been around for awhile and likes to pretend they're super heroes. Their show is an amalgam of Batman and the Monkees with a dash of some Sid and Marty Kroft for good measure and is tons of fun. It's the type of show I would watch as a kid, growing up with the above three shows, and I'm glad that my daughter can watch this show. You know what? She loves it, too, so they're doing something right. That's no surprise considering the leader of the Aquabats is one of the masterminds behind the hit show Yo Gabba Gabba. I think some of that magic is rubbing off here. They're only two episodes in and I know I'm hooked and can't wait for another ep of the five heroes/band members as they sing their songs and fight some villains along the way.

Also on is the Green Lantern cartoon. It's your standard superhero fare but it's GL so I'm loving it. I know there was a bit of an uproar because it's Bruce Timm style but in CGI instead of traditional animation. It's rather unfounded though as the show looks very good and is well written and crafted to boot. Check it out.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


I first saw the original Ghost Rider movie a few years ago when it came out on President's Day weekend. When I saw that the second one was doing the same, it was pure serendipity that I got a chance to see this one in theaters on that weekend. As a fan of Ghost Rider and the first movie, it was almost a moral imperative.

I'm glad I saw it. It was a fun, grindhouse-y movie that runs on kinetic energy and an inspired performance from Nic Cage that really lets him cut loose and go a little bonkers. The story seems to pull and Incredible Hulk and ignore the first movie but brings us up to speed with the origin quickly enough. Johnny Blaze isn't in control of the Rider as much as he was in the first movie, or perhaps the Rider isn't in control of himself. So when he appears on the scene, he's usually going all out and doing quite a bit of damage along the way. You see, he has a quest to seek out and burn the wicked, and he doesn't really care about the degree of evil you may have committed. He's going to punish you for it. As you can imagine, Blaze would rather this not happen and seeks a way to get rid of him for good. Which is unfortunate, as a young boy and his mother are being hunted by some shadowy, nefarious types and need his help, which may do more harm than good in the end.

Good performances by Cage and Idris Elba really help the movie shine. They bring the fun in every scene that they're in and have a good chemistry together. The rest of the cast isn't bad and there are a few surprise cameos that had me quite pleased. The effects are pretty nice, especially Ghost Rider riding around during the day. That was rather cool to see. My only complaint is that, like the first one, the fights are rather short, which is to be expected when you have humans going up against a demon, but then again, it does keep them from getting boring.

If you enjoyed the first movie, you should like this one. Don't go in expecting your typical superhero film, as the directors of Crank have done anything but that here. Instead, you get a movie processed through a 70s drive-in sensibility with a touch of overkill.

Check it out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Doghouse

The wife wanted to watch Twilight something or other last night. Not being a fan, I fired up the 3DS and Netflix and grabbed my trusty nine dollar headphones and settled down for a movie with manliness that would counteract the chick flick on the big screen--Doghouse.

The movie takes place in the UK, where a group of guys have gotten together to help a friend get over his divorce by having a guys weekend away. After starting at the local pub, they get on a bus driven by a lovely lady and head to a small town in the woods, where one of their friends has a relative with a house they can use and the population is supposed to be heavy on the women. This unfortunately doesn't turn out as planned when they get there and find that the women have gone crazy with some virus and have turned into zombie-like maniacs who want to devour the flesh of every man they see.

Not quite what they had in mind.

An entertaining mix of comedy and horror, Doghouse hits more often than misses and dishes up equal doses of scares and laughs. The guys are pretty likable, even the required asshole friend, so we genuinely care what happens to them. It helps that it takes a bit to get going so we have some time to find out what makes them tick. They act like friends, too, which is nice, where we get concern and good ribbing to go along with it. Can't say I recognize many of the actors from anything, save Mickey from Doctor Who and I believe the stoner from Severance. Good bunch though. I didn't have any complaints with them, save for one of the ones I was rooting for didn't survive the film.

It's a fun twist on the zombie genre that shouldn't go overlooked by any fan of these types of films. Check it out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Zombie Killing for Fun and Profit

Ok, maybe not profit. I am having a blast playing Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS. It's a nice and creepy tale that evokes the earlier games in the series but uses the control scheme (or a variant of) pioneered by RE4. So you basically you have things jumping out at you from all over the place, making you scream like a little kid, but you can run away and shoot them with ease. Until you run out of ammo.

That's another change from RE4&5. The ammo can get rather scarce, so if you decide to try and blast everything that moves, you might end up in dire straits later on. It can get hectic, so you don't have forever to aim your shots, but try and make them count. Aiming for the head, as always, is preferred, though center mass might be easier if you're in a hurry.

The bosses are nice and creepy as well, usually dropping audio cues well before you reach them to unnerve you. Then you run into them and it's a race to keep yourself alive and kill them while trying to avoid the multitude of other enemies that pop up to make life more miserable for you.

The basic plot has you on a ship as Jill Valentine, trying to figure out how the mysterious vessel ties into events from the past that seem to be coming back to threaten the world. Any more than that might give away the plot turns and twists that make the game fun. There are a few more characters besides Jill you get to play as, perhaps to prepare us for the character switching in RE6. They use the same game play, but help advance the plot without trying to cram everything into the ship.

In keeping with the newer entries in the series, there is also a minigame of sorts, much like Mercenaries from the last two console versions. This new game is called Raid Mode. Instead of trying to kill as many enemies as you can within a time limit, you have to traverse levels from the game and exterminate everything that moves and get to the end. No time limit and you can even replenish ammo from fallen enemies at times. There's also a level system. You get XP that raises you level, and as you go up, you can use better versions of weapons you find. Then have level restrictions so you might find an awesome weapon early on but not be able to use it for a bit. In addition, you can add abilities to the weapons to increase their usefulness and damage. Not quite the leveling system in 4 or 5, but still handy, considering the enemies increase in level too as you progress. You can do this alone or bring a friend along for the ride with wireless and online game play.

All in all, it's a fun entry to the series and worth picking up if you have a 3DS and want an engaging and entertaining zombie killing game and see some familiar faces.

Check it out.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

RE: Revelaitons

No, that's not a typo. Well, ok, it is, but it's also on the spine of the game box, which amuses me to no end. Anyhow, I finally picked up my copy of the game. It came out yesterday, apparently, even though Gamestop had said it was coming in on the 8th. Which wouldn't matter normally but I pre-ordered at the one by work so I had to wait until today to get it as I was out yesterday. Grrr.

So I have the game in hand and must now wait several hours until I can play it. Why do it do this to myself? I feel like one of the inmates in Don't Look in the Basement.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Thing (2011)

When it comes to horror movies, John Carpenter's version of The Thing is one of my favorites. Great tension, acting and plot come together to form one hell of a ride. As you can imagine, any attempt to remake this was going to be on shit list and I was going to be skeptical. Fortunately, they opted to not remake it, per se, but instead offer us the tale of what happened in the Norwegian camp that led to the events in Carpenter's classic.

It does a decent job with it. Much like the Descent and it's sequel, or Alien and Aliens, a lot of the suspense about what exactly is killing people is removed and we get much more in the way of action. The Thing goes on plenty of rampages and we see it assimilate quite a few people, or at least begin to, which in the original was mainly left off screen. It makes for a fun ride, but not one that will leave much of an impression.

The plot follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead as she gets hired to help with a dig in the Antarctic. It's all rather hush hush, and it turns out they have found a flying saucer. They've also uncovered a foreign life form hidden in the ice that they bring back to get samples from. Then it breaks out. From then on in, the movie kicks it into high gear. Most of the faces that surround her are forgettable and serve mainly to be taken over or killed by the alien. The few that are rounded out are alright, but the fact that one of them is basically your evil scientist tripe is kind of lousy. I would expect a little better, though maybe that's a nod to Howard Hawkes version.

Not a must see film, but certainly not the worst way to kill an hour and a half, if just to watch Ramona Flowers with a flamethrower.

Check it out.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Resident Evil: Revelations (Demo)

I had some free time on my hands while cooped up in a hotel at night during a tradeshow, so I found myself playing quite a bit of the RE: Revelations Demo on the 3DS. It definitely has me looking forward to the full version, not like I wasn't before. So far, from the brief level we got, it appears that they're keeping the RE 4/5/Mercs control scheme but setting-wise going for a more old school feel. Indeed, Jill wakes up in the demo in a room that feels like it was ripped out of the mansion from RE1. The zombies are plentiful and take a bit of ammo to take down, making it handier to try and dodge around them or utilize your power weapons to get the most bang from your buckshot.

One neat addition is the new Item Scanner. It basically lets you target around the room and search for hidden items like ammo and health. It also scans some of the bodies left around, though I didn't see as much need for that save to increase a percentage that shows at the top of the screen. You won't find a ton of ammo doing this from what I observed, but it's enough to help you out when you're down to your last clip.

I pre-ordered this last week so I could get the free case that comes with it. I'll pick up the game and the case on Wednesday and let you know how it is.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sherlock

Finally started watching and finished off this great new series. Ok, so it's from 2010. That might make it less new but not less great. In a nutshell, the series is a series of hour and a half episodes, three in total, that feature a modern take on Sherlock Holmes. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the titular role while Martin Freeman plays John Watson, his companion. The stories for each episode are inspired in part by the original Sherlock Holmes mysteries, or at least contain nods to them, and are their own tales, so you won't feel like you're watching the same story for the umpteenth time like you would get for some of the movies.

The cast works well together. There's a great chemistry between the two leads. There's also a fun running gag about the two being a couple. Cumberbatch plays a suitably alien Sherlock, a man who observes every little detail about the world and the crimes in it but doesn't relate well with people, often times being completely oblivious to how he should treat people. Freeman is the grounding influence for his compatriot, giving an everyman point of view on the cases and teaching him on occasion how to act like a person. Still, despite the grief he gets from Holmes, Watson sticks along for the thrill of the hunt and also the money they get for solving these crimes.

Season 2 is on now, so I can finally start watching them. I'm quite looking forward to it. Check it out.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil on Netflix

If you haven't had a chance to see this wildly funny and smart horror comedy, maybe because you don't want to shell out the bucks or your Blockbuster closed, have no fear. You can now watch it on Netflix, for, well, whatever you pay a month to watch Netflix Instant. Not a bad deal. Check it out. You'll be thanking me later after you get out of your awesome induced coma.

Also, did Netflix for Xbox change how they stream? I used to get a solid connection where after a hiccup, it leveled out so it was good the whole way through. Now it seems to vary depending on my connection speed, going from beautiful HD to blocky at times. Maybe due to peak usage on the service? I dunno. Seems good now but it was pissing me off earlier.

Anyhow, don't let that discourage you from checking out Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. It's awesomeness cannot be contained by bandwidth.