6/30/12

Blood Capsule #15

CHILLER (1985)

I thought it would be interesting to go back and take a look at one of Wes Craven's low-profile affairs. This made-for-TV icebox tacitly premiered on the tube in 1985, only a year removed from the lucrative nightmare on Elm Street. I'm going to go out on a limb and presume that Wes wasn't totally invested in this production. Nothing here suggests that he was present during principal photography. Hell, nothing here indicates that Chiller was directed by a human being. I doubt that editor Duane Hartzell was taxed with an enervating workload, as the camerawork rarely veers from the old-line point-and-shoot method. But what about the script? It's not too shabby.

Screenwriting duties were delegated to the capable hands of J.D. Feigelson, a name that may be familiar to Random Reviews groupies (hey, don't take my fantasy away from me). J.D. penned such cult classics as Horror High and Dark Night of the Scarecrow. Chiller concerns a terminal patient whose mother opts to have him cryogenically frozen. Ten years later, he thaws out and discovers the solace of skateboarding with the aid of Pauly Shore...wait a second. No, he thaws out and loses his soul in the process. The cast is turbulently uneven. The acting ranges from somnolent (a woozy, resigned Paul Sorvino) to expressive (a congenial Jill Schoelen and a creepy-as-fuck Michael Beck).

Chiller won't bedazzle gore fiends, but it's a decent little flick. Recommended for completists.

6/29/12

Darkwing Pumpkinhead


Your eyes do not deceive you. That's a winged Pumpkinhead. It's a vinyl model that was made by GEOmetric Design, a company that specialized in model kits. Why does it have wings? It's a tie-in to the comic book series I reviewed yesterday. Apparently, we were supposed to see a winged demon take flight towards the end of the story, but of course, the end of the story wasn't published. Okay, WHAT THE FUCK? This shit is too cool to be scrapped! If The Rites of Exorcism had been completed, we might have seen this rendering of Pumpkinhead in live action instead of...y'know, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.

Incidentally, this model kit is a collector's item for more than one reason. Each figure came with a booklet that contained the resolution of the story told in The Rites of Exorcism, as authored by the writer(s) responsible for the Dark Horse series. Although it included illustrations, I don't think it was a full-fledged comic book. Good luck finding it, though. This isn't something that regularly pops up on eBay (if it does, I haven't seen it). I'm holding out hope. After all, I never expected to stumble upon a first edition copy of the Creepshow graphic novel "in the wild," but I did. Yes, yes...someday, it shall be mine.

6/28/12

Panels From Beyond the Grave #23

PUMPKINHEAD: THE RITES OF EXORCISM (2 of 4, October 1993)

I haven't reviewed it for the site, but Pumpkinhead is one of my favorite films of all time. It falls somewhere in the Top 5, though I'm terrible at ranking things. You don't know how much it irks me that Stan Winston's directorial debut never spawned a worthy sequel. Years ago, PEOPLE DIED when I heard that Pumpkinhead 3 and 4 were set to premiere on Syfy. Seriously, I fucking killed innocent bystanders. As for Blood Wings, it's only amusing on a popcorn level. To me, the original is perched above b-movie status. The acting is nuanced (especially as it relates to Lance Henriksen), Winston took the helm with aplomb (I could write pages about the shot composition alone) and the creature effects are mind-boggling. Question...why isn't there a credible follow-up?

Answer...there is! But there's a catch; it's a series of comic books. Possibly in anticipation of the following year's Blood Wings, Dark Horse ordered a four-issue slate of Pumpkinhead comics, and the story would pick up where the film left off. Yay! There is just one problem. They only published two issues. For the life of me, I can't figure out why the series was canceled. And it fucking sucks because The Rites of Exorcism is a well-written tale with blistering artwork and three-dimensional characters. I want to know how it ends, dammit! Ostensibly, there is only one way to find out how this saga draws to a close. I'll fill you in...tomorrow. Today, I want to discuss the comic itself. I'm basically reviewing both issues, but the second book has a badass cover. So yeah.

As it turns out, the old witch has a teenaged granddaughter named Mariah. This heady blonde is destined to be a reluctant successor to her thaumaturgic elder. She tries to shrink back from her fate by fleeing the township and absconding with her boyfriend, but it's no use. Her plans are derailed when Haggis passes away. Bound by a sense of loyalty, Mariah curates a death ritual that her runic grandmother would have been proud of. Halfway through the second issue, she is needlessly killed in a skirmish with "ruffians." Naturally, her boyfriend wants revenge, so blam! Pumpkinhead is called upon to kick ass, and that's where it cuts off. I must say, Rites would have made a solid movie, assuming that the ending is sensible. I dig the shit out of it.

I do have a lingering grievance. I'm all for expounding on the titular demon's origin, but I'm not crazy about the backstory that writer Gary Gerani has presented. He traces a stock "they have been around for centuries" ancestry that includes a goofy panel where Ol' Punkin' attacks an assembly of cavemen (replete with Fred Flinstone attire). I'm dead serious. Elsewhere, The Rites of Exorcism is fantastic. I appreciated the fact that the dialogue cites lines from the film verbatim. 'Twas a nice touch. It's a shame that we didn't get to read the rest of this series. However, the remainder of the script exists, and if you're a hardcore collector, you can track it down. Stay tuned for additional information. Yep, a cliffhanger.

6/27/12

6/26/12

Island of the Alive


It's Alive is a sentimental favorite of mine. As a matter of fact, you could say that I have a nostalgic connection to the entire trilogy. I remember taping It Lives Again off of TNT's MonsterVision and being flabbergasted that not even the piquant spires of John "Joe Bob" Bloom's running commentary were potent enough to salvage such a languid film. The 1974 original deserved an entertaining follow-up. While Island of the Alive doesn't rival said cult classic, it does displace the stuffy melodrama of its predecessor. Again felt like daytime television. Island takes this "killer baby" saga back to its grindhouse roots. The gore is ramped up, the pace is galvanized and we see more of the mutated moppets (sic).

Cohen regular Michael Moriarty stars as Jarvis, an actor made famous for all of the wrong reasons. His son is one of the little abominations tearing cooters asunder all across America. Unfortunately, his situation emerges as a media circus when the fate of his child is decided in a court of law. Jarvis doesn't want his bundle of terror to be euthanized. He implores the judge to abjure the general consensus, to flirt with the idea of transposing the infants to a secluded area where they can't harm anyone. In the end, the sympathetic magistrate spares the lives of the toothy tots. They are sent to an uncharted island to live in the wild. Y'know, the more I think about the plot, the more I realize that it's batshit crazy. "Hey, let's drop these deformed children off in a jungle somewhere. I'm sure they'll be fine."

Moriarty's performance needs to be...experienced. A friend of mine castigates his acting skills at every turn, insisting that he's the worst thespian on Satan's red earth. I disagree. Here, Arty (that's what I call him; we're on a nickname basis) slowly devolves into a whirling, delirious mess. At times, it's as if he has drifted into oblivion. He doesn't take anything seriously, but it makes sense for his character to be broken. Jarvis has a detached ex-wife, a monster kid and he works at a goddamn shoe store. Put yourself in his shoes. Wouldn't you undergo a nervous collapse? The rest of the cast (which includes Karen Black and Gerrit Graham) mails it in. None of the supporting players left an impression on my impressionable mind.

I'm conflicted. Island is mediocre, and yet, there are several aspects of the production that I enjoyed. For starters, Larry Cohen had a budget to play with. This is a glossy, kaleidoscopic film. I believe the cliché that I'm hinting at is "style over substance." Naturally, I dug the rubber creature suits. I have to ask, though; if a mutant baby were to grow up, wouldn't it become a mutant adult? Apparently not. That's what I get for scrutinizing a b-movie. I hate to be wishy-washy, but I find myself at a morass. A stalemate. A quandary. A...fuck it, nevermind. Island of the Alive doesn't have any glaring issues in the eyes of a forgiving horror junkie, but it's not particularly engrossing. It's mildly fun, no doubt. I just couldn't get into it. However, it bears repeating that this flick surpasses It Lives Again by an Olympic mile.

It's also superior to 2008's ill-conceived It's Alive remake (read my review HERE).

6/25/12

Quick-ish Update

Movie review tomorrow. I'm breaking away from the "VHS exclusive" thing for a bit. On Wednesday, I'll be reviewing one of the coolest comic books that I own. Well, I haven't read it yet, but I strongly doubt that it will let me down. Wait until you see the badass cover.

Of course, you need to enter the current giveaway if you haven't already (look to your right). Stay tuned!

6/24/12

Geek Out #57

Years ago, I resented Syfy for producing movies like the one below. When the channel debuted in 1992, it was actually a dignified property that aired relevant content. It was disheartening to see a once-stately network crumble by the wayside. But now? Their "original" b-pictures are so absurd, they have officially become entertaining. They have the right idea. I mean, if you're going to shoot dreck, you might as well aim for the rafters. Case in point, Piranhacobra!

6/23/12

Album Cover of the Week

6/22/12

Matches That Time Forgot #39

God, I love YouTube. Soak it in, wrestling fans. This column rarely spotlights matches that I would consider to be genuinely great, but today, I slough off a delicacy. Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow team up to take on The Steiner Brothers. The year? 1992. The promotion? New Japan. This bout occurred right before three of its participants defected to the WWF (it would be Bigelow's second run under the McMahon plunderbund). It's safe to say that all four men were in their prime, and fuck, it shows. This match is awesome. It's not impeccable, but how could it be? Look at the ring; it's full of stiff workers. Basically, they suplex the shit out of each other for 18 minutes, and it's a joy to behold. The only thing missing is a Vader Bomb, but we do get a sick Frankensteiner that nearly kills Bam Bam.

I'll be honest. Vader's recent exhibition on Raw moved me to post one of his past engagements. It's a crying shame that he was mishandled by Vince in the late 90's. The same could be said for Bam Bam, even if you count Wrestlemania XI (ugh). At least we are left with matches like this to watch. Dig it.

6/21/12

20,000 Goosebumps


In celebration of passing the 20,000-hit waypost, we here at Random Reviews Incorporated are holding a special contest. The details!

- To enter, join the Facebook fan club HERE. It's that easy! The winner will be randomly chosen on the 4th of July, which gives you two whole weeks to procrastinate. Feel free to use that time to spread the word.

- The prize...is...hold onto something...a Goosebumps care package! Well, it's nothing major. You could win 3 books and a DVD (it's not the episode pictured above, but you will be receiving the book that episode is based on).

- U.S. residents only!

And those are the details. I tried to keep things as simple as possible. In any event, join the fan club and cross your tentacles. Good luck!

6/20/12

The Monster of Piedras Blancas

A quick word. I'll be announcing a contest tomorrow, so stay tuned. Alright, on with the show!

I've wanted to see this film for gangling eons. I have a thing for creature features from the 50's, and for some reason, this one has eluded me like a cagey fugitive. Yes, The Monster of Piedras Blancas is the Richard Kimble to my Detective Gerard. This isn't just any creature feature, though. It's a devil-may-care "mutant fish" romp equipollent to such spirited titles as The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Humanoids From the Deep and The Horror of Party Beach. Regrettably, it tends to be overlooked, but that has more to do with its release date than its quality (or lack thereof). The film washed up on the shores of a quicksilver public in 1959, a year of transition. "Rubber suit" productions would soon give way to racy exploitation cheapies that took full advantage of hair-raising Technicolor.

Capricious trends notwithstanding, Piedras Blancas fared well at the box office. It also fared well in my bedroom earlier today. Hmm, that sounded suspicious, but I'm content to trot along as if nothing happened if you are. I figured that this flick would be reasonably entertaining. And yet, it managed to exceed my expectations. I knew that it would be a fun sit, but I didn't think for a second that the characters would be more fleshed out than the walls of Samantha Saint's snatch (search engines are your friends). Writer H. Haile Chace sees to it that the pawns in his perilous passion play are bountifully developed before they are beheaded by the marquee mollusk. Eh, it's not a mollusk per se...listen, I don't dump on your alliteration, so back off.

Delectable pin-up Jeanne Carmen plays Lucy, the daughter of a misanthropic lighthouse keeper. Her snappy old man scolds her for skinny dipping at night, but he has a reason to be unduly cautious. Someone (or something) is brutally murdering innocent people in their quiet coastal town. Every corpse that crops up is missing its head, and it seems that all of the bodies are bone dry. The most obvious point of reference is The Gillman of Black Lagoon fame. As it turns out, both beasts were designed by the same fellow. This maritime marauder is a patchwork of Universal heavies, a special effects Frankenstein of sorts. Its feet belonged to This Island Earth's Metaluna Mutant, while its hands belonged to one of the underground pests in The Mole People. Still, it's a badass creation. You can't tell that the limbs were outsourced.

Piedras Blancas hides its star during the first act, but I never grew restless. The dialogue is sharp, the scenic locales are breathtaking and as I hinted at earlier, the central players are relatable. The icing on the cake? Gore! That's right. This is a grisly film for 1959. When we first spot the monster (y'know, of Piedras Blancas), it's clutching a severed head. So yeah, I'd have to say that The Monster of Piedras Blancas is pretty fucking sweet. I tinkered with the notion of giving it a higher rating, but a couple of b-moments killed the mood at inopportune times. The standard 50's-style abrupt ending was a bummer. Furthermore, our protagonist made inexplicable decisions that I couldn't exonerate. Why in the hell does he shoot the crab? Did it look at him funny?

The fact that this unsung gem isn't on DVD is simply...cunt almighty, there isn't a word for it. Recommended for fans of Twilight, True Blood, MTV's Teen Wolf and The Vampire Diaries.




6/19/12

Parts Unknown #106: Raw


As per usual, WWE is running a few intriguing storylines and a gaggle of not-so-intriguing storylines. Did the bipolar dissonance of No Way Out spill over into last night's episode of Raw? Read on to find out...

PROS

~ I liked the opening. It was succinct, productive and Mick Foley wasn't forced to partake in a ridiculous skit. The co-headlining tag match also served its purpose. Is it weird that I was turned on by seeing A.J. don a Kane mask? I thought so. This should be the angle that closes the show week in, week out. Back in the Attitude Era, any kind of weighty power struggle between a babyface and an authority figure would have involved the World Heavyweight Championship. In 2012, the top belt is a prop stymied by a bizarro love triangle that inaugurates the proceedings.

~ Finally, Dolph Ziggler is on his own! Sorta. His bout opposite Jack Swagger was poorly paced (Zig should have won it with a roll-up after five seconds), but I'm anxious to see where The Heel goes next. Woooo!

~ I'm all for Primo and Epico becoming fan favorites, and I loved the way that The Primetime Players deliberately disqualified themselves. AW is a classic pissant manager. Great stuff. Incidentally, I've read the Smackdown spoilers, and without giving anything away, this feud will develop swimmingly.

CONS

~ I'm sorry, but despite the presence of Paul E. Dangerously, I didn't give a feathered fuck about Triple H's habitual rivalry with Brock Lesnar. We all know what's going to happen. What's worse, we'll be getting more of these prolix, long-winded promos leading up to Summerslam.

~ Motherfuck, strip Santino of the United States strap as soon as scientifically possible. Why pit him against Del Rio for the umpteenth time? I understand that creative is trying to re-establish The Mexican Aristocrat as a lethal nuisance, but there are so many undercard talents that would kill to possess a fraction of the spotlight.

~ Cyndi Lauper played an integral role in the expansion of Vince McMahon's burgeoning promotion in the 80's. I respect her, but the crowd didn't. That segment was unbearably awkward. Heath Slater didn't help matters, but in all fairness, it wasn't his fault. Look, just give us more Vader. Pretty please?

~ Once again, David Otunga was featured in the main event. Son of a bitch.

The good things were really, really good. The bad things were really, really bad. What else is new?

6/18/12

Abraham Washington needs a tennis racket...


It's sad how much of a tag team mark I am, but I can't help it. Do you realize that WWE has eight tag teams at press time? Granted, half of them aren't being utilized, but I'll take what I can get. For every APA that kicked ass across the board, we had to deal with a Well Dunn (for the record, I consider Hunico and Comacho to be the current owners of the Well Dunn placeholder). Last night, a four-way tag team scrimmage stole the show, for me anyway. The rest of No Way Out was remarkably inconsistent. If it wasn't for the immaterial tuxedo match and another Ryback squash, it would have been a sublime PPV. I was relieved that Vince McMahon didn't intercalate a swerve into the main event.

I'm curious to see what happens tonight, so I'll probably dust off Parts Unknown for an old-fashioned Raw review. Your eyes...keep 'em peeled.

6/17/12

Blood Capsule #14

HELLROLLER (1992)

I didn't realize that someone filmed my life story. Hellroller is about a maniac in a wheelchair. To be more specific, Eugene is a homeless invalid ensorcelled by the urge to kill "normals," able-bodied thoroughbreds who look down on him with contempt. I understand that society hasn't always coddled the disabled, but this cinematic cigarette burn embellishes the fuck out of reality. At one point, Eugene attempts to work out at a gym. A musclebound dullard responds by tossing him onto the sidewalk and chucking his wheelchair into a dumpster. Damn! We spend a great deal of time observing street scum. Admittedly, I fancied the self-proclaimed 'King of the Bums.' He gets the best lines of the lot. "You twitching, rolling FUCK!"

You see, Eugene's biological mother was raped by conjoined twins. He was raised by his aunt, a lovely lass who is raped and murdered ten minutes into the film. Towards the climax (and I use that term loosely), our handic(r)apped hero pays a mad scientist to devise a potion that turns "normals" into freaks. In spite of the ludicrous plot, Hellroller is insufferably stodgy. I shouldn't be bored watching a well-endowed, albeit surgically enhanced stripper dance in front of...no one, but I was. Maybe because it was a static shot that dragged on for ten minutes. She is a random side character that we don't even know, mind you. This shot-on-video detritus could have been called Filler: The Movie.

The cruel kicker? Hellroller clocks in at a beggarly 72 minutes. Push this cripple into oncoming traffic.

6/16/12

Album Cover of the Week


MEDICAL UPDATE: We have been told different things by different doctors, but the prevailing diagnosis seems to be "bedsore." The good news is that it's not infected. The bad news is that the wound needs to be packed with gauze on a daily basis for two weeks. As you can imagine, this isn't a comfortable process. Still, I don't see it interfering with the site. I welcome exaggerated pity, so feel free to donate to Random Reviews Incorporated in these troubling times. Shipments of DVD's, money, drugs, drug money and prostitutes would be much appreciated. To expedite extravagant charity, I have posted a donation button on the right-hand side of every page.

Blood capsule tomorrow!

6/15/12

Vanity Scare #8

RUE MORGUE (#123, June 2012)

- Let's start with the cover and its corresponding story, shall we? To be frank, I knew nothing about The Loved Ones before reading this magazine. It sounds like a slick mash-up of Carrie and Pretty in Pink. I'm willing to give it a whirl, but it's not available in the states yet. As for the cover, it is with gallant mettle that I declare my fondness for all things hot pink. Does that make me less of a man? So be it! I dig dramatic polychromasia, especially under the lambent gleam of a black light. Hey, if it's good enough for Bret Hart, it's good enough for me.

- Recent WWE Hall of Fame inductee Mil Mascaras is paying homage to time-honored "Lucha Libre" monster movies by starring in a few of his own. The masked uncle of current wrassler Alberto Del Rio (sorry about the concussion, pal...I must have slipped on the rope) squared off against desiccated dirt deposits in 2007's Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy. Fucking rad.

- April Snellings is obviously stalking me. How else would she know that I just reviewed a relic tied to the Mars Attacks! universe? Her article on the history of the trading card cult phenomenon is highly interesting. I suddenly have the urge to kickstart a modest Mars Attacks! collection. And there is plenty to collect. Comic books (no shit, Sherlock), figures, plush toys, posters, apparel of all stripes, the cards themselves...you name it, it exists. It's a shame that certain automatons assume that this line of kitschy merchandise was derived from the limited confines of Tim Burton's imagination.

- The interview with isochronal Twilight Zone scribe George Clayton Johnson is a keeper. He wrote "Kick the Can," an episode that was later retooled by Steven Spielberg (see Twilight Zone: The Movie). I was delighted to find that he hated the 1983 update. A penny for his thoughts on John Landis, the notorious contract killer?

- Bowen's Basement looks at Zaat (a.k.a. Blood Waters of Dr. Z). I shouldn't buy the DVD when it comes out, but I know I will. What's wrong with me?

- Author Lyle Blackburn has published a book about the Fouke Monster from The Legend of Boggy Creek. Apparently, it probes deeper into the myth...wait, what myth? I'm sorry, but the film bored the pretzels out of me, and I don't see the need for a catechistic, quasi-inquisitive tome.

- Ouch. Mike Beardsall's review of the new Lords of the Highway record isn't going to sit well with Bob. RM hasn't been terribly forgiving as it relates to Ohio's punk/rockabilly scene. By the way, google Horror of '59 (a gnarly band that Bob used to front).

- Look, a Marduk blurb! I would never claim to be an authority on black metal, but I'm not above screaming the praises of Sweden's premier blasphemers.

That's all I have to say. This issue was particularly engrossing, so I recommend forking over the eight bucks. Oh, and real men wear (hot) pink.

6/14/12

Panels From Beyond the Grave #22

Part-time Random Reviews contributor Bob Ignizio (visit his movie blog HERE) steps up to the plate while I recover. Read on!

MY FRIEND DAHMER (Graphic Novel, March 2012)

What makes a man a monster, and is it predestined? Or are there points along the way where some kind of intervention might have led to a different outcome? That's the theme that underlies Cleveland area artist Derf Backderf's My Friend Dahmer. Both entertaining and insightful, this is a rare book where the term “graphic novel”, which I normally find kind of pretentious, actually fits.

Backderf went to Revere High School near Akron, OH with Jeffrey Dahmer, and much of the material in My Friend Dahmer comes from his personal memories. Dahmer's behavior at high school was so unusual, that Derf and his friends formed a “Jeff Dahmer Fan Club.” It would be stretching it to characterize their relationship with the future serial killer as a true friendship, but they were probably the closest thing to friends that Dahmer had. Derf obviously feels a certain amount of compassion for Dahmer, and rightly wonders why no one ever tried to help this obviously troubled young man. But his sympathy for Dahmer ends when he crosses the line and becomes a killer.

Derf has a highly distinctive drawing style that anyone who has seen his strip, “The City,” can instantly recognize. The artwork here is still undeniably by the same guy, but it's far more detailed with some nice moments of purely visual storytelling.

If you're looking for a grisly account of the birth of a serial killer that focuses on the crimes, this is not the book for you. Despite the aura of inevitable doom that hangs over the tale, much of My Friend Dahmer is actually quite funny. It's also a pretty spot-on portrait of life in the suburban 70's, when high school kids still had a designated smoking area and someone like Dahmer could get away with drinking hard liquor on school grounds all day long. It actually reminded me a lot of how things were at my own high school a decade later and a few miles away in Cuyahoga Falls. No serial killers in my graduating class, though (at least that I know of).

6/13/12

Damn tailbone chiggers...

No update today, but I have a good reason. I'm eating a quick dinner at the moment, and then I'm off to the hospital. We discovered a pressure sore on my tailbone. It's in rough shape, so at the very least, it needs stitches. It's located in an area that is very difficult to see. Unfortunately, we didn't notice it until it started bleeding. A lot.

I should be back tomorrow, but if not, I'll have a friend log in to keep you posted. Later!

6/12/12

Geek Out #56

I'm pretty sure that this movie was made for me.

6/11/12

...and counting!


Boy, you missed out on the party of the century! This picture only represents a FRACTION of the debauchery that went down four seconds ago. All of my stuffed animals are passed out, bro. What am I celebrating? Random Reviews is approaching the 20,000-hit mark! A couple of years ago, I underwent a surgery that derailed the shit out of this website. I wasn't convinced that it would recover, and it's still not where I want it to be, but things are definitely kicking.

I have my readers to thank. Once we have officially surpassed 20,000 hits, there will be a giveaway to commemorate the event. I'll sort out the details at a later date. This is just a "heads up" and a big, overly affectionate THANK YOU!

You can expect to see a new Vanity Scare and a new Blood Capsule in the coming days. Stay tuned...or else.

6/10/12

Prometheus


If you're an avid follower of the riveting goings-on here at Random Reviews Incorporated, you know that I'm currently on a crusade to review films that aren't on DVD. Technically, I'm not bending these self-imposed rules by discussing Prometheus. I wasn't planning on submitting this stand-alone prequel (an oxymoron?) for an objective vivisection, but I was moved to speak on Ridley Scott's behalf. Someone needs to speak up for this flick. It has its paracletes, sure, but an alarming number of sci-fi geeks left the theater disenchanted. What were they expecting? I can't answer that question, but I can tell you why I enjoyed Prometheus. In my opinion, it's as gratifying as an Alien prequel ever could be, considering that we know how the story ends.

I will forego the perfunctory synopsis. If you've seen the film, you're already familiar with the plot. If you haven't seen the film, you shouldn't be familiar with the plot. I understand that there exists a mutinous contingent of cinephiles that feeds on spoilers, but if that's your thing, I don't like you. Seek help. Moving on! I've always been fascinated by the mythology of the Alien universe. The "space jockey," the origin of the xenomorphs, the ulterior motive(s) of the Weyland corporation...I'm rapt by any exploration of this stuff, so the idea of a prequel appeals to me. When it came time to imbibe Prometheus, I was super intrigued from the get-go. Maybe that's why I'm immune to the faults that badgered a great deal of genre enthusiasts.

Even the detractors agree that the cast is exceptional. Charlize Theron is icy as Vickers, a stolid supervisor of sorts ("It is my job to make sure you do yours."). Everything about her is blurry and ambiguous, though I predicted a twist that reveals the rationale for her vested interest in the project. Noomi Rapace kicks ass as Elizabeth Shaw. She carries herself with pragmatic grace, but her character arc prods her into becoming a rugged, Ripley-esque heroine. The "surgery" scene is fucking intense. Of course, Michael Fassbender is magnificent as the compulsory android. On a choleric note, the rest of the acting troupe is largely interchangeable. And then there's Guy Pearce...

Jesus, anyone could have played Weyland. Why didn't they opt for a senior thespian instead of applying the worst "old age" make-up that I've witnessed in a mainstream blockbuster? This is an instance where I'll side with the naysayers. Thankfully, the visual effects are seamless. CGI is used minimally to augment practical Hollywood magic. Ah, in-camera gore. I didn't mind the creature designs. Admittedly, the size of the Engineers threw me off. They tower over their human co-stars in certain sequences, but the final jockey didn't seem very tall at all during the climax. I remember the ossified Engineer in Alien being motherfucking massive, more so than any of the beings in Prometheus.

Still, I was happy with the final product. It works as both a prequel and a stand-alone film. As a matter of fact, I'm up for a sequel! It's certainly not perfect. I hear fans griping because Prometheus routinely dismisses logic. And it does, but from where I'm sitting, the bulk of science fiction dismisses logic. I was reminded of Forbidden Planet. The characters aren't the brightest bulbs in the utility closet, and if you look hard enough, you'll find gaping holes in the script. The same could be said for Tarantula and The Day the Earth Stood Still. That's why movies ask us to suspend disbelief. I don't see how this particular sci-fi opus ignored its own rulebook. Where are the inexpiable infractions? Chill out, guys.

PS-Pictured above is a retro poster that was created by a fan. I want it on my bedroom wall. Now.

6/9/12

Album Cover of the Week

6/8/12

Panels From Beyond the Grave #21

SAVAGE DRAGON: MARTIAN SPY (1 of 4, December 1996)

It was only a matter of time before I reviewed a Savage Dragon comic. After all, I use the big lug's head as a rating system for this very column. But why him? I mean, why not use a more popular icon to appraise comic books? When most people think of horror comics, The Cryptkeeper is the omphalic straw boss that springs to mind. And I concede that he might be the go-to graven image for the uninitiated, but if you're visiting this website, you're probably initiated. That's why I chose an obscure character. In addition to being obscure, Savage Dragon happens to be a badass. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure why he's typically one of the last superheroes to be picked for tetherball and other reindeer games.

Huh? Sorry for the cabalistic, recondite analogy. I'm trying to get to the bottom of a brain-garbling mystery...why the hell is Savage Dragon a third-tier swashbuckler? I get that he wasn't the first green monster on the block, but dude, he's an extraterrestrial mutant cop with amnesia. Jump on the fucking bandwagon already! Here, he stars in an ingenious crossover. That's no hyperbole. In my eyes, the concept of this mini-series is brilliant, and I'm shocked that it took a mediocre Tim Burton flick to galvanize the inter-promotional intercourse that led to its fruition. Okay, "brilliant" is stretching it a bit, but this mash-up seems so obvious.

We begin with a prefatory overture that introduces us to the stertorous saucer pilots of Mars Attacks! fame. The short of it is that they invade Earth. The long of it is convoluted. How convoluted? Certain call-outs are accompanied by asterisks. These asterisks correspond with a title at the bottom of the page. These titles belong to comic books that you need to read in order to understand what the fuck is going on in this mini-series. Bummer. That's a common drawback to crossovers, but it was especially frustrating with Savage Dragon: Martian Spy. This should be a simple story. It's a colossal officer versus an army of zany aliens. Insert obscene violence, maybe toss in a subplot and voila!

To writer Dwight Jon Zimmerman's credit, there is an intriguing angle involving Savage Dragon's true identity. Is he a Martian??? I know the answer to that question, but for what it's worth, I want to see how this plot thread plays out (even if I don't comprehend all of it). The artwork is apocalyptic. Action sequences are packed with eye candy. I can't compare it to the original set of Topps trading cards, although I suspect that Savage Dragon: Martian Spy surpasses the vintage material in terms of detail. This is an easy recommendation. It will appeal to any geek who digs UFO madness, superhero schlock and...y'know, the characters featured on the cover. It's a quick read, so don't expect a valorous graphic novel.

It's a shame about the fragmentary storytelling. Now would be an ideal time to shoehorn a Tim Burton joke into this salutation.


6/7/12

The Entertainment Capital of the World


I've always thought that I lived in Barrel Fuck, Nowhere. I guess I was wrong! Bret Michaels will be playing here soon. No, he won't be playing at PetSmart. I can't describe how much I hate Mr. Michaels, so it makes sense that he's visiting Hickory. FACTOID: A chunk of The Hunger Games was shot 10-15 miles from my house.

Does this post have a point? Well, kinda/sorta. Jerry "The King" Lawler is staging a meet-and-greet at our minor league ballpark later this month, and I plan on attending. Don't worry; a follow-up article is in the cards. Should I ask him to sign my website?

6/6/12

Matches That Time Forgot #38

The Missing Link was one of Vince Jr.'s first attempts at pushing a spectral, unearthly character. He didn't create the gimmick, a wacky territory contrivance, but it would fit right in with the rest of the roster as the 90's approached. As luck would have it, Link didn't make it to the 90's. He debuted in 1985 as Bobby Heenan's latest acquisition (if you aren't opposed to a spell of sleuthing, ferret out his first match against S.D. Jones...now that's what I call vaudeville stagecraft). The time frame of his abrupt exit? The tail end of 1985! Hmm, that didn't deserve an exclamation point. My apologies to Dewey Robertson, the battle-scarred veteran behind the spinach green make-up.

Robertson won several titles in other promotions. Of course, his tenure with the federation wasn't exactly...gainful? He squashed jobbers and lost to the main event players. This particular bout doesn't stand out for any reason. It was hand-picked because it encapsulates The Missing Link in roughly four minutes. He didn't set the industry on fire, but he helped pave the way for eerie spooks such as The Undertaker, Papa Shango, Kane, Giant Gonzalez (!) and even Doink the Clown.

6/5/12

Shadow Creature


Over the next few months, I'll be turning my attention to horror films that have yet to make the jump to DVD. If you look at a list of VHS exclusives, the titles seem arbitrary. There is no rhyme or reason to the availability of certain movies, especially b-movies. The entire Troma library is at our fingertips, and yet, 1995's Shadow Creature will only be discovered by geeks insulated enough to dig through the grotty soot of cinematic landfills with willing (not to mention earth-daubed) hands. In other words, you need gobs of spare time. Virginity helps, although it's not a prerequisite. I'm getting carried away with myself. If you're not familiar with Shadow Creature, you would be forgiven for writing it off as z-grade spilth. I mean, look at the cover.

While it certainly has the spirit of bygone flotsam, it was concocted with an estimated budget of $300,000. Not too shabby. The cinematography is lustrous (well, relatively speaking), the creature effects are charming and unlike most modern day schlocktails, it was shot on location. I don't want to give the impression that Shadow Creature is indistinguishable from the studio-funded monster mashes that were being released the same year. Then again, it was 1995; The Mangler and Tales From the Hood were blessed with substantial stints in theaters. Nostalgia is one hell of a drug, no? My point remains sapient. This flick is too polished to scare off proxy posers, the domesticated types who wouldn't be caught dead renting Video Violence.

Contrarily, it's too campy to repel dyed-in-the-wool gorehounds, the iconoclastic types who wouldn't be caught dead at a midnight screening of, say, a pointless remake. Shadow Creature strikes a happy balance between "underground" and "mainstream." It's obvious that the cast and crew had a blast shooting this 50's-style throwback. The plot is informed by archetypal classics such as The Manster and The Hideous Sun Demon. We are introduced to Detective Brighton, a generic street tough assigned to a bizarre case. Bodies are piling up, and the main suspect is a 7-foot zebra mussel injected with hair restoration formula. Uh-huh. Imagine Savage Dragon (no, really) crossed with a black lizard. Oh, and he has a badass mohawk.

It goes without saying that the script dabbles in outlandish humor, but it never becomes an arrant parody. Director James Gribbons keeps one foot in the grave, so to speak. Overall, Shadow Creature is an easy watch. It doesn't ask much of the viewer, and in my opinion, the viewer should return the favor. Having said that, there are a slew of flagrant missteps. The acting is execrably stiff. I didn't give a flavored fuck about anyone, not even the obligatory mad scientist. Plus, the absence of nudity is alarming. I'll live. I'm just saying; I was alarmed. If you can find Shadow Creature, by all means, snatch it up. I bought my copy from Amazon because that's how I roll.