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Phantasm remastered

Movie banner14457349_1287267471317673_5192525131738943887_nOver the weekend, I caught the newly restored, remastered version of phantasm. Really, you don’t need the resolution upgrade and digitally cleaned up pretty print to get me out to see this movie. The mere prospect of seeing Phantasm on the big screen is more than enough of an incentive to propel me to the theater. Before we get into the effects of the new restoration, I’d like to talk a little bit about the film itself.and establish a pedigree. There’s lots of Freddy Kruger fans, there are plenty of Jason Vorhees fans. Heck, even Hellraiser has a significant following (Who are abused by their franchise almost as much as Cleveland Browns fans are….).

Phantasm fans are little bit more rare.  It’s a weird niche film, that doesn’t quite get the respect that it deserves. It’s certainly more beloved than most people realize – I noticed at two different conventions, they never seemed to be prepared for the MASSIVE autograph line that the Tall Man would draw. Phantasm fans are a different breed – and I’m the biggest Phantasm fan you’ll find in the Midwest, I assure you. It’s what’s driven me to meet all the members of the main cast- no mean feat (Remind me to tell you all about the repeated near-misses and letters sometime).


So what is it about this series that draws my devotion? I recall as a child seeing the phantasm_2advertisements on television for Phantasm 2. They made a big deal about “the ball is back!” And they featured the tall man heavily. I was confused, how did I miss Phantasm one? With something that looked is interesting as this, I surely would have seen the commercials for the last few years. I always perked up when I saw this commercials for Nightmare on Elm Street sequels or Friday the 13th sequels! So what was going on here? It wasn’t too long into the theatrical run of phantasm two that the original start playing on the late night UHF channels. I was not quite as steeped in the look and feel of the 70s then as I am now, so it was a strange beast to me. The hair was actually a little bit off-putting, especially young Mike’s, but there was so much about this that I immediately latched on to. The feeling that I was watching something on those late night UHF channels that I was probably too young for. The genuine creepiness of those endless marble corners, and The mysteriousness of the hooded dwarves. It all created a perfect horror movie… And then in the last act, everything turns into a completely different film – somehow they tricked me and I don’t watching science fiction all along. It’s a marvelous twist.  Funny, if you just look at it objectively on paper, coming up and saying 14469577_1287266907984396_6839442167741886021_n“It was aliens “really does seem like a cop out, but here it works on unimaginably well. Maybe it’s the fact that there are no flying saucers, no little green man, just a stark white room and those two simple chrome poles… used to brilliant efffect with a simple splitscreen effect.  I was hooked there and then, and it wouldn’t be long before I finally made it to Phantasm two. It  gets some flack for being the high budget entry in a low-budget series, it gets grief for not bringing back Michael Baldwin or Bill Thornbury back, but it’s undeniably where a lot of the mythology starts. It’s where we see four barrel shot gun, it’s where we finally see what really is underneath the hoods on the dwarf robes. It’s the point where the series turns into a road movie, and propels Reggie into action stardom. They bring in the same haunting score, and it proves that this formula can continue to work.

Even though Bill and Mike didn’t come back for this one, Reggie and the tall man aren’t the only two returning characters – the car is back. That’s surprisingly important, the hemi-cuda in the series is every bit of character as any of the actors. I’m not a car person in the least, but that this vehicle really is the through line spanning all the movies, and  it struck me profoundly enough that I spent a couple of years searching for a hot wheels or matchbox version of the car, something to add to a meager Phantasm collection (there really isn’t that much merchandising out for the series sadly. It’s tough to even get all the movies in one set!).


14484770_1287266841317736_7800697036673455131_nSo what about this for a restoration? Interestingly enough, Phantasm really benefits from it. This is on the first time I’ve seen the film on the big screen, cinema wasteland ran a 16 mm copy one year and I was thrilled at how clear it was – being a to read what kind of book is on Mikes bedside table, and being able to make out some of the names on the tombstones. Still, I hadn’t realized how dirty the print was until I saw this treatment. The colors pop, more vibrant than I’ve ever seen them and there’s been some mild re-editing – nothing so insidious as the “Han shot first” thing, but judicious inserts in places like the antique store, the ball victim losing control of his bladder, things like that. Most of the improvements will be late when noticeable, even if you seen this film on hundred times as I have. It looks good, … Sometimes this kind of restoration will actually make movies look cheaper. It’ll turn them into Soap Opera quality rather than Godfather quality. Phantasm is one of those films that really feels elevated by the new treatment. Of course the Capital, being the cult and art house theatre that it is, screened trailers for upcoming presentations of “I drink your blood” and “the Pit”. It all added to the overall atmosphere of the evening. These are the kind of films phantasm would’ve played with at the local drive in or corner grind house.

Sadly, we weren’t quite in synch with FantasticFest at the Alamo Drafthouse so we only got the intro to the film and not the Q&A which featured this beautiful duet between Bill Thornbury and Kat Lester –

14470398_1286341708076916_8484064258982743829_nHowever, the film WAS preceded by a short feature on the upcoming phantasm ravager, What is hoped to be the definitive end to the series, particularly now that it’s star Has passed. The poster was up outside the theater and that alone was enough to give me chills. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I was so excited for a film coming out… Perhaps Freddy versus Jason? But that was a long time ago, and to be perfectly candid, as much as I love both of those franchises, neither mean as much to me as Phantasm does. I will be there in the center of the theatre come October 7!

I hope to see you there to.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Outlook slow switching between folders

techtipsWhen I’m not writing comics or watching terrible films I also work as an IT consultant. Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the last 17 years.


A delay between switching folders in inbox, which is als present when switching back to inbox from other places such as Calander and Contacts. This can be fixed by disabling hardware accelleration.

There may be a control for this in file/options/advanced under “Graphics” or “Display”. If not, you’ll have to edit the registry.

Step 1 – open your registry. Press the windows key and type “Regedit” then press enter or click the Regedit icon, windows 7 users you can type Regedit in your start bar.

Step 2 – Browse to: COMPUTER \ HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Office \ 15.0 \ Common\ Graphics. If you don not have a “Graphics” right click on “Common” and choose “New” then “Key” and create “Graphics” (no quotes)

Step 3 – Once on the Graphics “folder” right click it and choose new DWORD (32-bit) Value

Step 4 – Give the new DWORD a Value name: DisableHardwareAcceleration and give it a Value of 1 – Click OK to save it.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


The wolf man

remakesthe_wolfman_poster_by_galipaksularIt really breaks my heart to say it, but we all know what the biggest problem of the Wolfman remake was don’t we? I don’t understand how after giving such an incredible performance as Van Helsing in Coppola’s god-awful Dracula that Anthony Hopkins just sleepwalks his way through this film. His presence was one of the big selling points for me and yet every line delivery is flat and uninspired. It’s said that he does three takes of every scene at least, I can help but wonder was this is the director just picking the most dreadful versions of this line readings or was Hopkins just there for the check?I just don’t know.

Benicio Deltoro is great in this role and the design is more than Wolfman-final-smalladequate, although I’ve always preferred my wolf man to be more Man-like and this still tips a little more in that direction. However the biggest thing I could do to help this film if I were remaking it would be replacing Anthony Hopkins with somebody who genuinely want to be in this role and could deliver the sinister with the zeal and grim delight.

I’ve got nothing else on this one. This is a surprisingly good movie and it’s a shame that Hopkins lacklustre performance drug it down so much. I do hope that we see another try at this with some more traditional feeling, although it seems like the wayuniversal is doing things were likely to go down another false rabbit hole again.


Movie banner31-headerthirty_one_ver7Here’s the thing, I like Rob Zombie.  At least, I like it when Rob Zombie is making horror. That seems to be the problem, at least in the middle of his career… he came out strong with house of 1000 corpses which I genuinely think it is the prototypical Rob zombie movie. It is the blueprint, the archetype. But he got so much blowback from the way it ended – and I’ve heard this criticism myself on more than one occasion. This idea that the end is too fantastic, that it goes off the rails, that it becomes a cartoon… I disagree with all of that by the way, I think the ending is just fantastic enough and it actually punctuates the movie for me. I like that it goes off the rails, because it turns the film into a bona fide horror movie  (when it was teetering on the brink of either being a thriller or a genuine horror). Still, I think he got so much flack for that ending that he felt like he had to go darker, more serious and gritty to be legitimized as a filmmaker. That’s what we get in the devils rejects, and it is absolutely a departure – it’s a different genre then the movie it’s supposed to be a sequel to. It’s very much a road trip thriller, and at the sharp contrast to the horror movie that House was. It’s a trend that we continue through his Halloween films – a far more serious and straightforward tone… with an occasional high concept thrown in just to try and remind you that he can in fact think. Still this gritty serious tone makes those films joyless and sucked A lot of the fun out. This is why I actually appreciate his last film, Lords of Salem. It feels like Zombie had remembered that movies are supposed to be fun. They can be bloody and violent and complete head trips, but they don’t have to be nihilistic. They can still be fun. There are some missed opportunities in Lord of Salem, but it certainly felt like Zombie beginning a return to form. 31 is the fulfillment of that promise and the 31-1true return to form I’ve been hoping for. I feel like this film really drives us  back to that original prototype with a bloody scary, fun film.

We have a group of traveling carny people en route to the next destination when suddenly they find themselves abducted (in a scene very reminiscent of house of thousand corpses) and trapped in a very Saw-like dungeon to play a game called “31 “. They must survive the night… 12 hours trying to move through this factory Labyrinth while killers stalk and attempt to exterminate them. It’s a reasonably simple premise, and we’ve seen 100 times before. Somebody else described it as the running man meets the purge and I think that’s a great description. What that doesn’t tell you though is how much fun this movie is. You root for the heroes, and you desperately want them all to get out. I like these people, and I want to see them escape. You boo the villains. They’re little more than stereotype stand ins, but that doesn’t keep them from being interesting. And yes, the imagery is clown is there, but these are not actually 31-rob-zombie-peliculaclowns. Their masked and made up and that’s about as much as we get to the clown thing.  The kills are bloody and gory and inventive, and our heroes fight back wonderfully. We don’t get a lot in the way of twists although there is a sprinkling of Illuminati behind it all. Still,  I dig this one. it’s Rob zombie doing what I like, bringing the blood, while keeping it larger-than-life. It’s absolutely a Zombie film, we have Sheri moon zombie as one of our leads, it’s set in a 70s that looks more like the way somebody imagined the seventies looking… It’s filtered and greasy and effective..31 is probably my favorite zombie film since his first one, and I’m relieved to see this as his second horror film in a row… It’s a path I hope he’ll stay on, because I genuinely enjoy it when he does.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Zeros promo


Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about a shoot for the local Zombie hunter team? It’s finally out! Look for me near the beginning of the clip!


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


The Exorcist

theexorcistposterI caught an advance screening of the new Exorcist series while I was at Horrorhound. The big problem with trying to do any sort of sequel to the Exorcist, is that the original is such a transgressive film. The imagery and blasphemy is so over the top in the original that honestly if you try to top it match it, you lose half of your audience. What made it special is they managed to balance the grotesque with a chilling atmosphere – it’s a religious horror done right. In the sequels, they tended to focus more on the fear of the unknown, and talk up the religious fear angle. The problem is they never quite manage to hit the same level of atmosphere that the original did. Since then, there have been a score of exorcist themed films, most of which really missed the point. They go for the weird, sometimes the unexplained, but generally fail to achieve the balance of grotesque beauty and atmospheric fear. exorcist-tv-header

Stephen King once pointed out that “terror” is the knife coming at you, and “horror” is seeing the knife go in. Far too often exorcist films stumble trying to achieve terror and land back into horror. All of this is what it makes it a tough proposition then, to create any sort of the sequel, much less an entire series like we are seeing here.

Still, they manage it.

They actually achieve what I think is a satisfying reboot – and  do it much the same way the Doctor Who did back in 2005. This is not a true revamp, it is a far removed exorcist-tv-show-reviewsequel that continues the series rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

In reality, it might of been better to have called this “AN exorcist” rather than “THE exorcist”.  It’s the same universe, it’s the same world, but with none of the same characters (well, maybe the Devil). We get a two second call back to the original movie – it’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment. The music kicks in at the very end of the film and it’s a really appropriate for the imagery we see on screen.

This series looks like it’s going to be all about atmosphere – they get the feel right, it’s

THE EXORCIST:  L-R:  Alfonso Herrera and Geena Davis in THE EXORCIST coming soon to FOX.  ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Jean Whiteside/FOX

THE EXORCIST: L-R: Alfonso Herrera and Geena Davis in THE EXORCIST coming soon to FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jean Whiteside/FOX

almost like I’m back in John Carpenter’s Prince of darkness… Which is my standard for

religious horror done right. I get a sense of dread, but we only get one or two brief moments of genuine horror in this pilot episode. I spoke with the producer, and it is clear that he is a fan– and desperate to get this right.

“I spend a lot of my Friday nights staying home watching the X files instead of going to parties,” he told me. “And I think I had a much better time! ”

While this first episode is very much a slow burn, he assured me that the series begins to crank up pretty rapidly, “things start to happen, people start to die and it the-exorcist-tvgets crazy pretty quick.”.  I already care about these characters that are introduced in the first episode. I love the young priest, and the old priest is surprisingly dynamic – in a hard, lanky, grizzled sort of way. We have a family in peril but that just seems to eb the tip of the iceberg – we get the impression that greater things are happening just below the surface of this community. There is a ground work that I can see being laid here, real world building that’s going on and you know what? It’s a world I really want to spend some time in.

The Exorcist Will be airing on Fox Fridays this fall.