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Body snatchers

remakesMV5BMTIwNDIyMDYyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjE4MDU5._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_AL_Bodysnatchers is such an obvious cash grab on recognizable name that it makes it almost offensive. Return of the body snatchers from the 70s version with Leonard Nimoy is a perfect example of a remake  really done right where as this is just a mess about no name actors in an attempt to kind of do a sidequal. A shift on location with actors in characters that we just don’t care about who are engaged in the same situations  and done without any care or any respect.  That’s really why it feels like. I wanna like this, because I enjoy both the original and the remake but this version is just so poorly put together – even it’s claim to fame that it will show you what happens when somebody is changed into a pod person looks dreadful, like a baloon with flour on it deflating.  So how can we rebuild this? With an infusion of cash based on a recognizable name, and one to grade B actress, television people and recognizable locations that don’t cost a lot.I guess what I’m really saying is we make this with some care. Remake this was some excitement. This is one of the original paranoia films (which sadly this remake is completely devoid of) and in today’s market something like that could really fly well but it needs some star power anda production team that loves the material and really cares about making a great film.

Tapeheads

forgotten banner220px-Tapeheads_(movie_poster)Tape heads really should be good. But it’s easy to see how this is a forgotten film. Still, This is John Cusack and Tim Robbins! How on earth is this bad? It’s awfuly dated though, about two kids trying to break into the music video business with what appears to be an old Sony camcorder. Here’s what IMDB has to say about it :

After being fired from their jobs as security guards, Josh and Ivan form Video Aces, a video production company. Using Josh’s talent and Ivan’s business savvy, they attempt to hit it big in the business while doing projects they want to do. Among those whose paths cross with theirs are Norman Mart, an extremely right-wing presidential candidate; Samantha Gregory, a scheming music reporter; and Mo Fuzz, a producer willing to give them a chance or three if they’ll work on spec.

The film gradually gets better and better as things go on but really it’s all in all painfully slow. Cusak’s character doesn’t really give us more to root for really and that’s a pity because he’s the one we should be on board with. Tim Robbins is so painfully bland in this role you wonder “how are you still getting jobs in Hollywood?”

This is a fun film for curiosity’s sake to see these actors in early obscure roles, but that’s it. This one is a pass.

Superargo

forgotten banner2550superargo

I thought I knew what I was in for one Superargo came up. I mean I’ve seen Santo movies and I’m not that unfamiliar with the Luchadores,  but this was something altogether different.  Perhaps it’s the Italian sensibility, because Superargo is very much more a superhero then most of the traditional Mexican wrestlers out there, with psychic powers that we see him training and honing throughout the course of the movie.

The action is actually quite passable really, the whole thing feels a lot like a cross between the Luchadore films and the Adam West Batman television show. it’s still campy and silly but it always takes itself seriously never falling into intentional wackiness.

The Costume is surprisingly not bad as well, it’s kind of reminiscent of the robin costume when they changed it into black-and-red,with a spectacular cowl that merges into a kind of black leather mask in a huge gold belt buckle. As silly that sounds it works. It’s hard to get through though, it’s really was exactly the sort of thing that you’d expect to see on Saturday afternoons with your local movie host and I think that’s really where it belongs, at conventions at retro TV festivals things like that. I do recommend it, just know what you get into.

Channing Tatum

Autographs

I know that I’m one of the only ones who really liked the GI Joe film, but I dug it and thought it was a good role  for Tatum. Was really pleased to discover he signs through the mail!

Channing Ttum

 

Scarecrow

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Maddie has a big thing for the Wizard of Oz – meet the Scarecrow!

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All Americon 7

Conman13669017_10207639878933420_6152023192531395550_nEvery year I’ve said “I’m going to wait until this show grows a bit before coming back” and then the next year I keep finding myself here. Why is that?

It’s really the caliber of guests they have. It’s still one of the smaller size shows – and they realize it. Nevertheless, in addition to some of the familiar artist faces we see on the convention circuit, they always go out of thier way to bring in one big name whether it’s Jim Sternako, Michael Golden and Renee Witterstaetter or this year, James O’Barr. It’s not just one guest, it’s one GREAT guest.

O’Barr was honestly the reason I came out this year. I wasn’t going to Wizard World earlier this year just to meet him (I object to WW on general principle) especially where then was a good smaller show coming up a few months later.

AllAmericon keeps growing, breaking the 2000 attendee mark this year. Interestingly though, while things were crowded and the joint was hopping earlier in the day, most people seemed to be heading out around 2 – right as I was pulling in. I saw a lot of great costumes heading home – something that perplexed me…the costume contest wasn’t until 5 13592799_1223152581062496_6748203952458136594_n(perhaps in the future this needs to be earlier – by the time it was over, the show was closing down). I loved hanging with Shorts Spidey here and there. Making new friends if a great part of con life.

The cosplay element here continues to impress me by the way, there were a lot of great  outfits and some really fun characters running around being silly and generally having a good time at the show. And that’s really the important part. It’s a fun show. I met people who were there for their first convention ever, others that had been to multiple shows (it always interesting to have to re-introduce yourself to someone you met a while ago, but neither of you recognize each other because you were wearing completely different costumes a the time….).

Speaking of costumes, it seems every time I do this show I have problems with my costume. (It’s got to be the summer heat). The Velcro of Voltron came apart on me a half hour before the costume contest at AAC5. Last year at AAC6 my Thing jaw was coming off – I had  to reglue it on my lower lip, but that didn’t help the drooping by the jawline. This year I was running into problems with my 13654171_1222795844431503_4950613691780821261_niron Man mk41 suit….As soon as I pulled the breastplate out of the car, the minigun on the shoulder fell off. The heat had melted the glue. I quickly seized some wooden skewers ( the ones Amy had brought me for my boots when Maddie and I did Lake effect – there were still some in the car) and pushed them through the shoulder and into the foam that held the gun. I snapped off the excess and to my great astonishment and delight it held the entire show.

I also ran down batteries. By the time I hit the judges table, one of my laser sights were dead as well as the blinking EL wire in my midplate. ARRRGH! (At least I stayed lit up during the rest of the con – that’s what counts) I’d made a lot of upgrades on this suit since Akron-Canton…weaponizing it further and adding a lot more lights. the pulsing LEDs on my chestplate were perhaps my favorite. I’m just about completely happy with the suit…I’d be completely satisfied if I could just figure out how to make that faceplate come down (Several people asked too).

It’s time for this show to move on though. Next year, they are going to be expanding to  the 13607016_1223156981062056_7784269984059379896_nCovelli center in downtown Youngstown. I’m hoping to see more vendors  They really need more- it doesn’t take long to do that dealer’s room, and with the long stretches between events you kind of need more. That said, I’m also hoping to see more programming. There was a great game demo going on a couple times during the day, as well as the cosplay contest (kids, and adults – about an hour and a half between them) as well as one cospaly panel. A couple more panels, perhaps a q&a with their guests and I could see this turning into the next big thing in that area! We’ll see next year!

 

Bill Daily

Autographs

I finally decided I had waited long enough. My kids love I dream of Jeannie and Alf and while I had gotten Barbra Edan and Larry Hagman, I still  hadn’t gotten around to Bill Daily. He took nearly six months to replay and when he did he did something curious.  He sent two identical pictures. each was signed separately, in different places but still…weird. I gave one to the girls and kept this one for myself.

bill Daily

The Presence

Movie bannerThe Presence is a German found footage film – and really one of those entities that serves to do little more then give Netflix some content…
80106788I know a lot of people automatically dismiss a film as soon as they hear the words “found footage”, but I’m not quite so quick to judge solely on that. It opens with a familiar premise, three people heading to an allegedly haunted location to try and investigate paranormal activity – documenting the whole thing with their camera. We’ve seen the same idea repeatedly, all the way back to the Blair witch project, and of course more recently in films like grave encounters, The speak, and Greystone Park. Because we’re in Europe, we’re going to a castle – it’s a nice change from the abandoned asylums and words that are used to seeing in the scanner movies, and it should provide us with remarkable atmosphere.

The film obviously draws heavy influence from the Blair witch project, and paranormal activity. We can see throughout the movie that it pulls concepts and scenes almost directly from these two films and does it frequently. That’s okay, If you’re going to steal, do it from the best. The Problem is, even with trying to copy some of these more successful films – they do it so poorly that it comes off flat and colorless. This magnificent castle that should be dazzling us with spooky atmosphere fails to do much more than act as a fairly brightly lit backdrop. There are expeditions out into the woods surrounding the castle, and yet instead of filing us with dread they feel long andtedious

Length really seems to be a problem. At a relatively short hour and 22 minutes, this film still feels too long– as if there’s not enough story and not enough scares to fill this running time, and we are left with long lingering shots of walls, grass, and our sleeping protagonists. I susp[ect part of this is pacing – there are certian basic rules of screenwriging and pacing, yet it seems like most found footage films seem to think they can ignore them… This examples of why those rules absolutely apply here as well.

I stuck with it, frequently these kind of movies seriously pick up in the third act, (prince of darkness was like that, I left it too early and didn’t realise how all hell breaks loose in the third act until years later)Ibut even when the third act failed to scare, I stuck with it to see if the film had a sufficiently shocking end.  That’s actually one thing that the Blair witch did perfectly. It  kept you uneasy,but it was the ending that stayed with me.  There’s stuff that the end of this particular film that are some of the only two or three genuinely original and creepy moments that the movie, but it’s immediately ruined by cutting to a surreal and ridiculous video game looking sequence from the brightly coloured first person perspective of the person carrying the camera.

There’s nothing new here, and the familiar tropes that we do see – possession and haunting… They’re all too familiar, I’ve seen this before – and done better. The haunting is almost entirely made up of offscreen banging and videotape of a door opening and closing amid camera glitches.  Doing someone complicated haunting – something a little more extreme with some stage hands… Stuff like stacking furniture (remember the chair and table gag in poltergeist? That was all one shot… Simple effect but incredibly effective) . Having some stage hands  offscreen toss pots and pans in the frame, books flying – intercut more bloody premonitions at unexpected times into the videotape… Any of this kind of stuff could have really creeped up the atmosphere. So could some proper lighting to inject some intimidating gloom into the castle.  Sadly instead, we got the flat bright natural lights that failed to take full advantage of this marvelous location. Possessions tend to be genuinely scary, but they didn’t push for anything revolutionary– and the sad part is I think that they believed they were… But it all fell flat – blank stares and a lack of bladder control isn’t really that’s shocking in 2014 done

Over long and under storied, I’m afraid this one is a pass.  There’s great potential here, and I can see a much better film that could have been– but I get the definite impression that there was no time or money here, and as a result there is also no care. Netflix is possibly the best place for it – I can’t see how anybody would ever watch this movie otherwise.

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

503

Deadshot

definitive

My personal definitive way of drawing iconic characters

Man, I was obsessed with Deadshot before it was cool. Does that make me a hipster?

I remembered him from the DC Who’s Who, and when he showed up in Suicide Squad I was fascinated. When Ostrander did the miniseries around ’88 I was hooked.

Luke McDonell laid a lot of groundwork for how Deadshot would look, but I have to say it was Geoff Isherwood’s simplified design that really resonated with me, and really informs my take.

deadshot pencils deadshot inked deadshot colored

 

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