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183

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Last of the Living

mastersofterrorindexLast of the living actually starts off pretty nicely – with shots of young men cinematically exploring and abandoned city juxtaposed with news footage of the zombie apocalypse. It’s overlaid with a punky rock song and sets the tone perfectly

We introduced to the trio guys who are living in a house together – young bachelor types reminiscing about the girls  and wondering what they’ve got as far as supplies. The real problem is the beer is low, so they decide they need to make a run. They gear up with sports equipment and run through the abandoned city trying to avoid the zombies while high energy pop music plays in the background. We get some inventive zombie kills and a generally fun vibe from the film. Adam takes a detour to try and rescue a hot girl, but she turns out to be a zombie. We get the impression this isn’t the first time this has happened. They finally arrive at the grocery store and enter cautiously. It’s a stock scene, very much a rip-off of what we saw in Shaun of the Dead.

index1Right around the end of the first act I’m wondering if this is going to be just a slacker dude zombie comedy when our group discovers a young woman and her father hiding in one of the abandoned buildings. The father is immediately dispatched of course because we need some romantic tension, and the young woman reveals that they were trying to transport a sample of what they think might be the cure for the zombie plague to the authorities. She convinces them to help.

They arrive at the lab but things take a turn for the worse when the power goes out in the zombies invade.

index2What was a much more lighthearted film suddenly turned serious as the zombies become more of a threat and the bickering starts amongst our characters. It’s almost as if the film can’t decide what it wants to be, and as we attempt to get this sample to the people who can help during the zombie apocalypse things turn all of it more dire. We get a couple of deaths that I totally didn’t expect towards the end. It ends up being exciting but a severely uneven film. Definitely worth a watch, especially on late night cable or when included in a box set like this.

182

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_182

Jim Sternako

AutographsSternako is one of the legendary Shadow artists. I got him before his autograph price suddenly tripled.

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181

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_181

Halloween Kills

I really enjoyed the Halloween reboot a few years ago. It was a genuinely good relaunch, tense and scary, one that embraced a lot of the lore, but without getting bogged down in the minutia. It was straightforward and did what it needed to do, reinvigorate the series and reinvent it after we got the taste of Rob Zombie out of our mouth (I’m not a detractor of those movies by the way, I like them, but they’re more Rob Zombie films than they are Halloween ones).

*Mild Spoilers*

Halloween Kills doesn’t quite land the second swing. It’s still maintains a lot of the feeling that we get from the reboot, but it misses the point in a lot of places. It wants to be a message movie, about how humanity is the real monster, the mob is the real evil, and The insertion of this subplot, takes up way too much time and is way too heavy handed to be effective.

Picking up immediately after the events of Halloween 2018, Laurie Strode is being raced to the hospital, and the firefighters are on their way to put out the fire in her house. We’re introduced to some of our characters through flashbacks, and of course, the charge to destroy Michael is led by Tommy Doyle. Chants of “The evil dies tonight!” are pervasive. Michael is on a rampage, killing his way through the town as he carves a path back home. Michael is all about home. About looking through that upstairs bedroom window… Or perhaps he’s not looking through the window, perhaps he’s just looking at his reflection and into himself. Either way, this is where he’s headed, and it’s where the ultimate showdown will be.

The film is heavily loaded with reunions. Tommy Doyle, this time played by Anthony Michael Hall (Part of me is upset they didn’t bring back Paul Rudd, but then again, he hasn’t aged a day since part six back in 1995 and actually might not look OLD enough for this version). Charles Cyphers police chief, and Tommy’s young sleepover friend Lindsay from the original… we even get a quick nod to the Silver Shamrock masks from the unrelated part three! However, we spent a lot of time on reflection and reunion and retelling, and much like the heavy-handed “the mob is the REAL monster” subplot, the stuff gets very old. It’s not that I don’t wanna see these characters back, it’s just that there’s so much of this family reunion stuff going on that it distracts from the film.

Jamie Lee Curtis for her part is sorely under used. They keep her at the hospital for the entire film… And this is no Halloween 2, where Michael is stalking the hallways. She’s just out of the way. We get a mob scene at the hospital where they think he might be coming to get her, but it’s all a red herring. Michael’s not after her, he just wants to go home. It almost feels like one of those movies like the direct to video Hellraiser movies, where they bring in the lead actor for a day or two, that way they get the name on the cover, but they shoot all the coverage separate from everybody else in their own little corner of the set and get it over with. Honestly, the easiest way to solve the pacing issues would be to drop a lot of the hospital stuff, and give Jamie Lee Curtis basically all the lines and actions that Judy Greer (playing her – Laurie strode‘s – daughter) has in this film. Give her a chance to really be the hero again.

That’s not to say this is a bad movie. Horror fans and gorehounds alike will be thoroughly satisfied with the amount of blood constantly thrown at the screen as well as the levels of the torn flesh that we get to see. Michael is brutal as ever, perhaps even more than usual, and this Director loves the spectacle of the violence. If you don’t see the night go in, you’re still going to see blood spraying towards the camera. It’s everywhere. It’s also frequent. There is an enormous amount of action here, almost with a comic book pacing. The problem here is, there’s very little actually thats frightening. But that’s OK, you’re not coming to this movie to genuinely be scared… You’re coming to visit familiar faces. The familiar heroine in Laurie Strode, and the familiar villain in Michael Myers (by the way, there’s a certain brilliance in the way the Shatner mask has been burned and weathered. It ages Michael up, giving him the same character lines on his face that mirror those on Laurie), even the familiar legacy of Doctor Loomis. And in those respects, it really does deliver and makes a fairly good companion piece to the 2018 reboot. However, the film can’t stand on its own and feels a little sloppy (not to mention about twenty minuets too long). It’s a little poorly put together, with an ending so bleak that it genuinely bothers me. Then again, we knew there was another one of these coming out already. It almost makes me wonder if the ending had been altered in someway to make that happen.

I wish I could say this was a definite go to on opening night, but it really isn’t. I wouldn’t be opposed to streaming it, or renting it when it comes out, but in many ways it feels like this is a step backwards in quality. A real shame considering how far this series has come.

Halloween Kills opens in theaters on October 15th

 

Mr. Freeze vs Wonder Woman

Costume

I actually ended up doing two versions of this – the first one among the ruins didn’t really thrill me. WW kept blending into the rocks. The blue and red background may be simpler, but it really pops a lot more.

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180

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_180

Cinema Wasteland Fall 2021

“You’re not leaving already?” Eric Roberts looked at me.

I smiled and shook my head, and as I readjusted my backpack.

“No, I’m just trying to get everything stashed and get out-of-the-way.”

Roberts smiled. “You’re not ever in anyone’s way, and you’re a lovely man!”

You know, these sort of things just don’t happen at Horrorhound.

It feels like Cinema Wasteland lite this time around, even more so than the movie nights Ken occasionally throws. He tested the waters with one of those movie nights month or two ago, and was putting on the first full Cinema Wasteland this weekend since the lockdown. But, the attendance was a little more sparse than usual. Regulars like Tom Sullivan were notably absent. About half of those in attendance and vending were wearing masks. Like I said, it felt a bit like a light version of the normal show. Nevertheless, I hadn’t realized how much I needed a wasteland weekend.

I did an smaller number of shows the last couple years… Basically hitting anything that was open to show support for the cons that dared to run a show. That means a lot of Jeff Harper events, as well as some trips south to the Toyhio show. It also meant a couple of trips to PA, where my buddies finally managed to drag me to the big Steel City comic con in Monroeville. But Wasteland is different. Wasteland reminds me why I love convention life. I said it in my reviews, the Steel City is a cash grab. It’s a cattle call, moving you through expensive guest lines and it’s programming is lackluster… Then there are the shows like the Harper events where there’s no programming at all.

Wasteland is all about programming. It’s all about the curation, and showing me films I never knew I needed to see like The incredibly strange creatures just stopped living and became mixed zombies. This one was playing Friday evening, hosted by Gunga Jim. I generally enjoy his stuff, and he is always a fun personality at the events. Gunga Jim came into the movie room to announce that this would in fact be the only time he gets to show this film. Somebody had just snatched up the rights to this public domain movie, just this week and that prevented him from selling it or ever screening it again. Such a bizarre development, and really, after watching this movie… Who would WANT to buy the rights to it? This thing isn’t getting a criterion Blu-ray release!

But I also was happy to be back at Wasteland to remind me that there are still shows out there that aren’t just trying to gouge their customers at every opportunity. Most guests were charging $20 for an autograph, and that went down to $10 if you brought your own thing. Photos were free with the autograph. David Millbern was pleasant and chatty, showing me photos of his new Emmy, as well as the contract from slumber party massacre… just to prove how ridiculously low his day rate was. I make more than that at my own job. Roseanne Katon squealed in delight when I Unrolled my Motel hell poster for her to sign… She’d be the first person on this one. She talked about filming and even shared that her daughter had dressed up as her character for Halloween one year… gotten make up for a bloody slit throat and everything. Fred Olen Ray was in his corner, hocking DVDs. If you bought two or three, he would throw in a free autograph. That’s actually a pretty good deal on the best of days. Likewise, James Edwards from JR Bookwaters crew was set up, and happy to sign my DVD copies of Dead Next Door and Robot Ninja for free. He was delighted to hear about the screening we had in Cleveland couple years ago and amazed I actually got to see it on the big screen.

Guests at Cinema Wasteland tend to be more obscure ones, not the main stream folks who are constantly on the convention circuit… there are a lot of first-timers and these are people who genuinely want to be there. They’re having fun and amazed at how nice the crowd is. Wasteland tends to spoil a first time convention guest for any other shows.

Zander Vorkov could not make it this year, some health problems have sprung up recently, so I signed the giant get well card that Ken had set out at the registration desk. Another fun little touch that wasteland generally does for guests to have to bow out because of some ailment or another.

I managed to slip in for the short film block, but I swear, these things are getting longer. The last feature was a full hour! That doesn’t count as a short film in my book! Still, I sat through an interesting kind of ghostly cult film for 23 minutes and God bless the guys who did the second one. Creating a fun and Quick little shock story and showing how effective that can be even in a mirror three minutes. I’ll admit I bailed right before the third time. I know what to expect from this particular filmmaker, he’s an expert in molding and sculpting silicone, and nobody does gore better than he does. I wasn’t up to 40 minutes of that though, but I did run over to his table To purchase some grotesque body parts for my collection.

My personal favorite film this time around, had to be psycho ape. The premise is a crazed killer rate goes around murdering people with bananas. In this universe, bananas are as razor sharp and deadly as any knife or blade. He’s pursued by a teenage girl who wants to be the next Jane Goodall, trying to help him, and the sinister doctor ZOOmis; Wildlife specialist with a Dr. Loomis from Halloween sort of obsession with capturing and imprisoning psycho ape. The apes it is bad, the CGI blood packs are terrible, and the whole thing is just ludicrous… And it revels in it. They know exactly how bad of a film as it is, and they lean into it. It ends up being bloody, funny, and just a generally good time.

I ended up my weekend, by popping out to wasteland Sunday afternoon for one quick last go around in the dealers room, before headed out to the Cleveland Comic and Nostalgia Show a couple towns over in Westlake. I’ve reviewed a couple of Harper shows this year already, there’s not much that changes or that needs to be said. I was there for $.50 bins and to hang out with a friend who was having a birthday.
 
It was nice to cap off the weekend with one extra run through a different dealer’s room. All in all, it really does help remind me, why I enjoy con life. I can’t wait until we really see things get back into full swing.
 
 
 
 

 

179

essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_179