I could talk about some of my favorite scary movies for Halloween but I have something a little different this year. Probably the scariest and most fun television I have seen of late is a show on, believe it or not, Animal Planet.
“Lost Tapes” airs Tuesday nights on Animal Planet and is sort of a twisted take on The Blair Witch Project. In every episode some hapless individual or individuals are trapped, with a video camera of course, with some beast out of a cryptozoologist’s wet dream. It’s all dramatization based on supposedly real events – and it’s not only scary, it’s a hoot.
Check out the website for schedule information and other goodies. Of local interest, this coming Tuesday they do the Jersey Devil. Should be fun. Happy Halloween!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I could talk about some of my favorite scary movies for Halloween but I have something a little different this year. Probably the scariest and most fun television I have seen of late is a show on, believe it or not, Animal Planet.
Friday, October 30, 2009
As Syfy readies its newest TV mini-series/pilot based on Lee Falk’s classic Phantom, all I can think of are two questions. What’s so wrong with tradition? And if it ain’t broke, why 'fix' it?
There is a reason that properties that have been around for decades are so successful in their original source material. They work. And if they aren’t broke, why does Hollywood always have to 'fix' them? Batman doesn’t need an army surplus vehicle for a Batmobile. The X-Men don’t need black leather outfits. Flash Gordon shouldn’t be a teenager. Superman isn’t a stalker, or a deadbeat dad.
And the Phantom isn’t some kid who refuses to wear the uniform everyone before him has worn. If he doesn’t, he’s not the Phantom. If the folks at Syfy insist on doing this, why don’t they just come up with their own heroic adventure series, cuz this ain’t the Phantom.
This ‘re-imagining’ of Lee Falk’s classic Phantom comes to Syfy in 2010.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Veteran of the golden age of television Soupy Sales passed away earlier tonight after a lengthy battle with cancer.
I grew up much too late to have enjoyed his classic TV show "Lunch with Soupy Sales," and I only knew from legend his stunt of asking kids to raid their parents' purses and wallets and send the funny green pieces of paper to him. The story is different every time I hear it to this day. I wonder how seriously or how jokingly Soupy asked.
My memories of Soupy were of his appearances as a panelist on "What's My Line?" as well as other game shows and sitcoms. I remembered an aborted attempt at trying a variety show again in the 1970s that was abysmal, and the not so bad "Junior Almost Anything Goes" that he hosted. Later I remember a radio rivalry with the then rising star Howard Stern. By that time the man was sadly considered a has-been by much of the public - and Stern's methods of vanquishing foes certainly didn't help.
Toward the end of his career he appeared as Professor Prophet in the low budget softcore Roger Corman superhero series "Black Scorpion." Sales was no stranger to film, having his own starring vehicle in "Birds Do It" in 1966. He even did voice work for cartoons and was on Broadway as well.
Soupy Sales, despite the last few years out of the spotlight, was still one of the icons of the early days of television. He'll be missed.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"The Real Unspoken" - my comic book review of Mighty Avengers #30, by Dan Slott, Christos Gage and Sean Chen, is now online at Avengers Forever.
The Mighty Avengers and a slew of guest stars fight their greatest battle against faltering sales, and The Unspoken, plus Hank Pym meets Eternity - all this and more - check out my review here:
If you want to discuss this review, this issue or anything Avengers, please check out the Avengers Forever Forum.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
First AMC gave us "Mad Men," which is just brilliant, but now they are treading on hallowed ground. One of the most beloved cult TV series is "The Prisoner" starring Patrick McGoohan, and now AMC has remade it...
Coming in November...
For most of us, there really was no “Day Three” at Baltimore, but most of the industry folks did stay one more day. It was for the big Diamond retailers meeting. This was the reason most of the announcements and news that usually flows from a major comic con did not do so during the weekend.
It all came out the next day, Monday. Comics being part of the entertainment business, we usually only think of it in the entertainment sense – but in reality, it is a business. As much as we don’t want to think this, this is about money. And Monday was not only for the news, it was for the money.
In my opinion, this was a good thing for the Baltimore Comic Con. It was a friendlier con and more people-oriented. Sure, it would have been nice to hear all about Siege and the Avengers returning to greatness and Dark Reign being over. And yes, it would have been cool to hear about DC bringing dead titles back to life as part of Blackest Night as well – but really, then this would have been like any other convention. Baltimore was better this way.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The Dumpsta Players are back!
Wednesday, October 21st, 11 PM, SHOWTIME - SHARP!
@ BOB AND BARBARA'S
1509 South Street
ESTONIAN MYSTIC VS. ARMENIAN DERVISHES
PETER GABRIEL VS. KRAFTWERK
EUROVISION PHREAKS FLAME-UP
Come journey with the Dumpstas to distant lands and experience an Estonian mystic, Armenian sisters who dazzle with symmetrical precision, and a melting pot of Norwegian and Moldovan delights!
Travel with us from Bosnia-Herzegovina to France, Germany to Greece! And, the return of The Little Italian Immigrant Girl!
Outrageous drag queens? Hideous costumes? Flamboyantly flaming back-up dancers? Dreadful songs sung in foreign languages for a three hour spectacular never to be seen in America? That can only mean one thing: The Eurovision Song Contest has arrived! It’s like opera for trashounds. This is way cooler than American Idol, bitches!
Let the ancient celebration commence. In spirited rhythms and many tongues, let's fill the air with music and make merry!
Behold the songs of the people!
Behold the melody of the language!
Behold, the symphony of the season!
Raise your fist in solidarity -
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Long Riders ~ What at first seems like a gimmick film by director Walter Hill is quite good if disjointed. The gimmick is that acting brothers are actually playing brothers in this flick about the James Gang and their infamous exploits.
In the days before the Baldwins, the brothers Keach, Carradine, Quaid and even Guest portray the outlaws of legend here and throughout try to out-hard each other endlessly. Surprisingly the performances are dry with the exception of Pamela Reed as Belle Starr.
The 1980 film is also highlighted by Hill’s trademark slow motion action sequences and a unique yet intriguing soundtrack that we don’t get enough of. Recommended.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
First the Doctor returned, and then Torchwood spun off, followed by Sarah Jane… now it’s K-9’s turn…
…but as you can see from the trailer, this has nothing to do with The Doctor, or the other spin-offs. And that’s just wrong. It’s like the adventures of Alfred, without Batman or Robin.
Spoilsport and K-9 co-creator Bob Baker sued the BBC for the partial rights to the robot dog, notably not his appearance, and went to Jetix Europe to make this show. It’s a shame when folks take money over joy and entertainment for all.
Take note, Siegel heirs, this is what you’re doing to the Justice League…
Friday, October 16, 2009
Comics artist George Tuska passed away yesterday at the age of 93. He had only just days before finally retired from doing art commissions.
Tuska's career spanned more than six decades having done work in the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Modern Ages. One could say he might be best remembered for his work on Iron Man, but the truth is the man's pen touched nearly every comic book character.
With his reputation as a fill-in artist, there wasn't anyone he didn't draw. And his regular work spanned the field from Luke Cage to the Avengers to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents to Black Goliath to the Sub-Mariner to Buck Rogers to the original Captain Marvel to Superman and the Justice League in their newspaper strip.
We have truly lost one of the great ones, he will be missed.
HeroClix returns to the game store shelves on November 18th with the Hammer of Thor set.
This new set, the first since WizKids sold off the HeroClix gaming system will feature the Runaways characters as well as Captain America and Loki (as shown) and presumably a whole bunch of Thor related folks. Talk at conventions recently has been of the Thor's Chariot figure that has been on display.
So come November 18th, get to a gaming store, especially All Things Fun! in South Jersey because, HeroClix is back!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Even if you had no knowledge of wrestling whatsoever, you knew who Lou Albano was. He was Cyndi Lauper's father in her most famous video "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Characterized by his loud Hawaiian shirts and his beard trademarked by rubberbands, the WWE remembered him as both "one of the company's most popular and charismatic legends" and "one of the most hated men." His career included a myriad of work including appearances on "Miami Vice" and voicing the cartoon Mario besides his long wrestling involvement. He passed away today in New York at 76.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Any day that starts with people bringing bacon right to my door is a good day. With that in mind, my associate Ray Cornwall brought up a point in my report on the con yesterday that I was a bit slight on the positives of the Baltimore Comic Con. There are lots, beginning with the fact that the very cool hotel, the Tremont Plaza Hotel, was chosen by the Con. Indirectly, the bacon comes from them.
Other than the sound problems and the partitioned rooms, everything about the BCC is very well put together and nearly flawless. It's like a smaller, more friendly New York Comic Con, and that's a compliment. I really appreciate the focus on comics over pop culture, unlike other cons of recent years. Well organized, amazing guests, they even hosted the Harvey Awards - really, what can I say bad about them? I look forward to coming back again and again.
The day continued to start bright even before we entered the con. Just outside we saw Berni Wrightson and Steve Niles on a smoke break, marvelling at a great "Groverfield" t-shirt. From there we were just steps away from one of the best costumes of the con, the new Mr. Terrific, and he was accompanied by two members of the Junior Justice Society. The good day had only just begun.
One of my friends back home had asked me to pick up prop rings from DC Comics' Blackest Night. I didn't think the various colored rings would be available yet but the DC booth was on the agenda either way. I was right about the rings but DC was giving out the Black Lantern ring (thanks!) and Steven Schreck kindly played ring-model for all the prop rings to come. Apparently a full set will be available shortly from your local comics shop. While I have a certain distaste for events and crossovers, I am enjoying Blackest Night, and the little promotional props, like these rings, make the experience that much cooler.
I mentioned earlier how Baltimore's con was much friendlier than others I've attended. It's true. While there was a lack of news due to the retailers meeting tomorrow - the big guns saving the announcements for Diamond as opposed to the folks who actually buy their products - there was a very cool sense of community here at Baltimore.
Yesterday I met some folks I hadn't seen in some time, said hello to new and old friends and met some folks I had only previously known online. But I also made new friends, just striking conversations up with strangers just because we obviously shared a common hobby. This is how the first conventions I attended back in the 70s and 80s were, back in the dark ages before the internet, before we were global and 'knew' everybody on a social network.
For instance I chatted casually with a gentleman and his son who had come up from the south. He was taking a rest as I was taking notes. Our conversation went on and off as we each did our thing. We compared hotels, cons and I told him where to find Coca-Cola. The best part of the chat was the bit I wasn't a part of. The man and his son were of two distinct nerd (and I mean nerd in a good way) generations. Dad would reference the Fantastic Four and the son would parry with Halo. In a geeky way it warmed my heart.
Later when my friend Ray joined me we started talking with a gentleman named Jonathan with whom we chatted for nearly two hours. The passion of which I spoke yesterday burned bright as our conversation jumped from Alter-Ego to Blackest Night from Dark Reign to the identity of the Red Hulk. It never descended into Trekkie or "Big Bang Theory" levels of fanboy-ishness but stayed a positive exciting exchange between people who love their hobby. Now that is what these cons should be about. Community.
Thanks to the Baltimore Comic Con for their cooperation and accommodation. This has been one of the more fun and fulfilling shows I've attended. Thanks for the opportunity. I look forward to the chance to come back.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Next week, Playboy will be featuring something quite different on its cover - a fictional character, even better than that, a fictional animated character - Marge Simpson. This will be the first time in the magazine's history an animated character has been on the cover.
Obviously this is a stunt to promote the 20th anniversary of "The Simpsons" on Fox, but one has to wonder if a better choice might have been made - maybe the mom from "Family Guy" or Wilma Flinstone or Judy Jetson if we're talking mainstream animation. Going off the beaten path a bit, what about Lara Croft? How about the robot chick from Ghost in the Shell? AEon Flux?
The November 2009 issue of Playboy hits newstands on October 16th and also features Tracy Morgan, Benicio Del Toro and new fiction by Stephen King.
Year of the Dog ~ Writer/director Mike White runs hot and cold for me. While I kinda liked his School of Rock (probably more for Jack Black who was in his prime at the time), I absolutely hated his The Good Girl. The latter even put me off of Jennifer Aniston for a while. Even when White was on “The Amazing Race” with his dad I was rooting more for his dad than him. Hmmm, I guess I don’t even like him as a person. I guess that’s why I approached his Year of the Dog with trepidation.
We’re not starting off a good foot at all this time as I also dislike Molly Shannon, the film’s star. I thought her armpit-sniffing Superstar girl was one of the lowlights in SNL history, and she’s done little since to change my mind about her talent, or lack thereof. This flick does little to change my mind about Shannon or White.
What begins as a quirky drama about a socially inept woman coping with the loss of a pet becomes a long boring study of a mentally unstable woman obsessed with helping animals. If White wanted to give the SPCA and PETA a bad name, he succeeds. What could be heartwarming light comedy is ultimately more Good Girl than School of Rock. Don’t waste your time, Marley and Me this is sooo not.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
How I Got Into College ~ Back in the long ago 1980s I was a big fan of Savage Steve Holland, in fact, Better Off Dead is still one of my favorite comedies. I was surprised when I first heard of this film recently as I thought I had seen all of his movie work.
While it lacks Savage Steve’s trademark animation it still has his flavor and comedy. It principally revolves around a high school senior so in love with a girl he hasn’t talked to yet that he tries to get into the same college as her. Ultimately for me this primary plot fails as I wasn’t as enamored with the female lead as he was. Moreso, I thought her not just unattractive but uninteresting as well.
Luckily the secondary plots and characters carry the film terrifically. Anthony Edwards especially, as well as folks like Nora Dunn, Brian Doyle Murray and the late Charlie Rocket and Phil Hartman carry the rest of the flick well. My favorite part was the realization of several SAT word problems featuring person A and B. Not great, but fun, and would make a good precursor to watch before taking the SAT or applying to colleges.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Anyone else remember this one? And no, before you say it, I’m not talking about the episode of “Lost” that also carries the title.
Actor Godfrey Cambridge produced this 21-minute anti-drug film in 1970. I saw it at least every year I was in senior high school. Among the things featured in this powerful no-holds-barred short are footage of addicts going cold turkey, the music of Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield, and a female heroin addict vomiting as she falls down a flight of stairs.
It seemed to be the school’s answer to show the film rather than actually talk to us about drugs, a subject many of us at that age already knew more about than the teachers did.
Still, I’d love to see this film again. Anyone else remember it, or better yet know how to obtain a copy?
From the folks at PWP:
Just a short update today, folks. DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL is in the hands of our dedicated staff of editors as we write this, and is only awaiting a final revision before it hits the electronic stands. How the West was Weird awaits only a final bit of art to get it moving towards the printers. It looks like our final two releases of 2009 will be out in time for Christmas!
Next up, we've got a new review of an old film by Derrick Ferguson, as he looks at THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP in the newest installment of the Movie Review Notebook, so get over there and give that a look.
And remember that we've got the first chapters of a number of our releases available for you to look at on-site, so be sure to stop by when you've got time to give them a read!
And just as a reminder… our message board is up and running, so feel free to stop in and say hi or start a discussion on any of our fine titles!
Finally, if you've got the time, spread the word about PWP to your friends!
Monday, October 05, 2009
The Mist ~ Combining the horror and paranoia of the trapped-in-a-bunker and what’s-in-the-dark concepts, this Stephen King short story is brilliantly brought to the screen by writer/director Frank Darabont. Thomas Jane is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors between this and “Hung.” Be warned however, whereas the story it’s based on had no ending, the movie has an amazingly crappy ending, one of the worst I’ve seen in years. Better no ending at all than this one – it literally ruins the rest of the flick.
The Ghosts of Angela Webb ~ Wow, this one was terrible. Filmed on videotape and badly paced and acted, I could not wait for it to end. Remember back in college, that friend who wanted to be a filmmaker and had all of his or her friends be in their low budget flick? Well, this makes that look like Scorsese.
Max Payne ~ There’s a prejudice that movies based on videogames are either all style over substance or just plain bad. I have to admit that there’s much to the statement. In the case of Max Payne, it’s a little of both. It’s visually exciting, but a convoluted and sometimes boring plot takes away from it, and the enticing soundtrack. Pretty but empty.
Disaster Movie ~ In the loose tradition of Airplane!, Amazon Women on the Moon and mostly the Scary Movie series, this is a lowest common denominator parody of last year’s blockbuster flicks. I laughed. I’m a little ashamed I laughed, but I did. If you didn’t see the movies referenced however, you might not get the jokes.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
Splash News Online gives us our first pics from the set of Green Hornet. Seth Rogan plays the title role and Jay Chou plays Kato. As this is something that is dear to my heart, I'll reserve comment until I see this. I do not have high hopes...
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Last night we got to see a delightful treat, but it was a long way to get there. We planned on seeing the special Toy Story and Toy Story 2 double feature in 3-D, but got a late start of it since, surprisingly, The Bride and I are pretty busy people. We had a variety of choices and settled on a 10:35 show at the Cinemark in Somerdale, but once we got there we found that that show was in fact on for the second movie. What the f with the showtimes? Don't think we're going back to Cinemark anytime soon.
We hit the Showcase at the Ritz who had their showtimes right and correct, and we enjoyed the double feature immensely. For those wondering, it was a great flick/flicks, bookended with new material as well as a cool intermission with trivia and behind the scenes stuff. We also got 3-D previews of Toy Story 3 and other upcoming 3-D features. A good time was had by all, except those who went to the Cinemark...
Friday, October 02, 2009
Quarantine ~ This is the 2008 American remake of [REC] that I reviewed a few months back. It begins relatively the same as the original and stars Jennifer Carpenter, better known as Dexter’s little sister. Most notable is how young, spunky and much more likable she is in this role as a reality TV reporter spending the night on call with firefighters.
The story is the same and even the sets look the same. And it’s ‘super-rabies’ instead of zombies, but hey, an undead rose by any other name, ya know? Also the idea of it being filmed as it happens is lessened by a more subtle technique. That’s good, giving this a more film-like quality rather than the distracting handy-cam method. It’s still there, just less so.
The real saving grace of this version is that Carpenter is sympathetic to the viewer, while in the original, there was a point where I wanted the zombies to hurry up and kill Manuela Velasco already. I think writer/director brothers Drew and John Erick Dowdle made all the right decisions for this remake. Keep an eye out for their M. Night produced Devil come 2011. Quarantine is worth a look, especially if you’ve seen [REC].
When the Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. motion comic from Marvel on iTunes first debuted I mentioned that this may be the beginning of the end for the print comic. Here is just one of the many reasons this may be so - the theme song. You don't get a theme song with a paper comic book.
"Watch Your Step" is by Dan Phillips with Anna Abbey and the Marvel Music Group, and is pretty darned catchy. Watch out.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Don’t get me wrong, folks, I am a huge Kathy Griffin fan. I think she’s hilarious, I’ve seen her live a few times, and as much as I hate to admit it, I look a little like her when she’s not wearing make-up, her hairline is just a smidge lower than mine. Like I said, I love her. I’ve just had enough of her fake reality show.
The release of her book "Official Book Club Selection" and her recent talk show crush to promote it have a lot to do with this. She’s so damn interesting and has such an interesting life I have to wonder why she has to make stuff up for her reality show. Why must it be so staged and so avoiding of her real life?
Kathy has such depth and intelligence and experience, anyone would think she would be perfect for a reality show – and yet, look at what we’ve got. Why couldn’t we see her personal life on the show? Her embezzling husband? Her pedophile brother? Her plastic surgery disasters. This is the stuff reality TV is made of – not scripted make-believe.
Go see her live, enjoy and marvel at her talk show appearances, and yes, go read her book – but just forget about "My Life on the D-List." At least until her real life begins to seep into it.