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Archive for August, 2012

Blazing Saddles this weekend!

Overall I’ve been pretty pleased with the second half of this years Late Shift schedule. There haven’t been nearly as many movies that I’ve never seen (but should have) on it.

This is one of them.

I’ve heard people qoute this movei for years and I’ve seen a n awful lot of trailers ofr it, but never actually sat down and watched it through. I’m a fan of Mel Brooks so I am looking foreward to using this as an excuse to finally see it. If your in the Cleveland area, come on down to the Cedar Lee Theatre this Saturday and catch the midnight showing with me.

Don’t forget, there will be a new Violent Blue up tomorrow!

Wonder Woman

This has been sitting on my shelf since I got it at Monster Bash in June. I probably could have located it myself with enough effort but sometimes it’s nice th just let the bootleggers do their work. They gave me a good deal on it too, and bundled it with the Spider-Man musical.

I’ve heard a couple of people tak about how much they wish this series would have gotten made. I certainly can see my following it for at least the frist couple of months and then checking in on it every now and then. I can see myself following it with my daughters (who really liked the scenes with Wonder Woman).

The story is okay, but not the really great kind of narrative you need for a pilot. It feels more like a mid season filler story. Definitely part of the series, but if you missed it, you wouldn’t get lost. I really like that it’s not an origin story. It starts the series with everyone and everything already established. This used to be standard (Star Trek, I’m looking at you.) and in a lot of ways works better. Too many origin stories slow things down instead of moving us into the story.

My biggest problem with this series is Adrianne Palicki herself. I’m not going to go down the tired old road of saying no one can compare to Lynda Carter. Though comparisons are unavoidable, it’s completely beside the point. Palicki ‘s greatest flaw is  that she lacks the strength and confidence to play this character. Her voice is too light…airy. When she gets quippy, it sounds like a 22 year old celebutant, not a strong amazon warrior. Watch the Justice League cartoons. The voice is just a touch deeper, but what it really resonates is gravitas. Even that 19-20 year old Lynda Carter stood and spoke with enough poise that I had no problem believing she was mature, immortal and strong. Palicki  just skews too young. She doesn’t look stable when she stands heroically and she shuffles when she walks, like she doesn’t know how to move in heels (not all women do, not all women need to. But if you’re going to play Wonder Woman, yeah, you really do). The contrast is at it’s most stark during the end confrontation with Elizabeth Hurley (possibly the best thing about this show.) who takes long confident strides and radiates feminity.

By the way, Palicki has a couple of beauty marks that drive me nuts too. One on her jaw and one in between her eyebrows. It’s completely shallow of me and I realize that they make Palicki unique and beautiful, but they don’t belong on Wonder Woman and I just can’t stop staring at them.  $1.00 worth of greaspaint could have solved that problem. Hmmm. That sounds like a good idea for a Violent Blue strip.

The costume is fine with me. It gives the necessary impression and color it needs too and by the way, if you really hate the pants, well they turn into the more familiar bikini bottoms for the final showdown. I think they might have gotten a lot less criticism for the look if they had leaked one of those pictures on the web ahead of time.  Really, the whole look for the series is slick and cool. The fight sequences are stunning. Better than anything even the animateds managed to do. The plane isn’t invisible, but looks cool enough that we forgive it. There’s a fleet of them and it works in the context.

So what’s the final verdict? It’s kind of like the current series of Doctor Who. I don’t hate Matt Smith. He is nowhere near one of my favorites, but I don’t mind him. I’ll watch the series and be happy it’s still on, even though I’d rather be watching David Tennent. That’s how I feel about this Wonder Woman. I would have watched it and been content, while wishing they’d chosen someone else for the role. I’m not happy it got passed on, but perhaps it’s for the best, especially if it results in a better product soon. I suspect it may. DC has seen the success with Marvels Avengers and they know they need to get their tails in gear. I suspect we’ll see Wonder Woman on a screen, either big or small, sooner than you may think.

Goodbye Phyllis Diller

I remember watching Diller on Bob Hope specials, on Hollywood Squares and other game shows and I was really happy she found a whole new generation of fans on Family Guy.

I didn’t know she was sick. She wasn’t when I wrote her two years ago. Not only did she sign the picture I sent, but she also included this beautiful glossy and autographed it too. I kept meaning to send her that book of hers I found in Amish country last year. It rode around in an envelope in my car all year but I never got around to posting it.

I’m going to miss Phyllis Diller. There’s a corner of the wall in my library where her picture is hung next to autographs from Dick Clark and Elizabeth Taylor. That corner is beginning to make me sad.

Autograph requests

When people come into my library or look through my autograph scrapbooks I frequently get asked “How did you meet THEM?”. To be fair, more than half of my autographs are acquired in person at Sci-Fi or Horror conventions like Cinema Wasteland and Monster Bash. However, there’s also a great many that I have gotten through the mail. I tend to target people that I don’t think I’m going to get a chance to ever meet in real life, especially older folks who don’t like to travel any more like Angus Scrimm and John Zacherly.

A couple of years ago I helped a friend send out his first autograph request and it occurs to me that it might be nice to show you a little about how I do it.

1. I write formal letters. No first names to the recipient, ever. It’s always Mr. or Ms. It may be old fashioned, but it shows respect.

2. A little flattery. You don’t have to mean it. They can’t see your eyes to tell if your lying.

3.Talk about specifics. Don’t just repeat the list of movies they’ve been in off of IMDB.  Don’t even list all the movies they’ve done. Just talk about the ones you liked. What moved you about them and why you like them in the film. If you can’t think of anything, then perhaps you shouldn’t be asking for their autograph.

4.Include an item to be autographed. Don’t assume they have headshots laying around. Print out a picture. It’ll cost you about $4 at Target to use the automated machine. Some folks are nice and will return your autograph and  include a picture or a headshot of their own along with it. Jerry Lewis actually swapped the picture I sent with a better, glossy copy of the same image. That was especially cool since that’s not the one he normally sends out. 

While we’re on the subject, don’t be greedy. Send one picture. Maybe two. I never send more than that. I don’t resell the stuff, and the main reason I might send more than one pic is because I’m planning on getting a second autograph on that same picture and I want an extra in case it gets lost in the mail or never returned (That’s the reason I still have one Dick Van Dyke auto, even though Julie Andrews never returned the Mary Poppins pic signed by Dick that I sent her).

5. Send return postage or a SASE. Bottom line is to make this as easy as possible for the recipient. We just want them to open the envelope, sign the picture, slip it in another envelope and put it in the mailbox. Five minuets or less. If they have to put postage on it, or find an envelope, or dig out a headshot or get a headshot from thier agent, these things take time and money. Let’s not make this any more difficult than it has to be.

6.If you get a reply, send a thank-you note. I buy postcards (usually with a Cleveland theme – it helps them remember who they signed what for) and hand write thank-yous to a lot of the people  I get autographs from. I don’t bother when it’s an agent’s address or a set because it may never arrive, but when it’s a home or PO box it’s good form to say thanks and it takes less time than you spent sending the original request.  

7. Finally, don’t presume too much. Even though you’ve seen these people again and again on TV or at the movies, remember, you’re writing a letter to a stranger.  Don’t act like you know them, or assume that them sending you an autograph makes you buddies. They are doing you a favor, not starting a relationship. You won’ t be exchanging Christmas cards in December or attending their summer barbecue. Sending repeated letters is bad form and makes the rest of us look like creepy stalkers.

And again, yes, they are doing you a favor. They don’t owe you an autograph, though it shows that they do appreciate their fans. They are people  too and everyone is different. I wasn’t upset that Tom Savini was distant when I met him a few years ago. I’m not an especially friendly person myself and we were both strangers to each other. He was still polite and signed a poster and took a photo with me. I’m totally cool with that. Sometimes you will meet someone who is especially friendly, like when I wrote my friends favorite author and asked her to send him an autograph (I enclosed a picture and a stamped envelope addressed to him).  She not only sent him the autograph but also a long letter (written mostly on the back of the picture) and then also sent ME a letter. Those are great experiences and really they are the reason we do this kind of thing. But not every one will be like that. To quote Clint Eastwood “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it”.

These are by no means a definitive set of rules, but they’ve worked well for me over the years. It’s a rush when you send that envelope out and an even bigger thrill to get one back. For some reason, having an actor or director’s autograph just makes their films more fun to watch. For a moment, instead of the movie being simply a one way communication, it opens up into interactivity.  You get to talk back to the people involved in it and for that moment they know you exist too.

Good luck. I’m going to go out and check my mail before I get back to Violent Blue.


So I came home and found a pile of dolls on the landing in front of my bedroom. That’s not unusual. Then I looked at them a little closer. Almost everyone of them had thier hands bound behind thier back.I have the creepiest little girls ever. I’m locking my door tonight.

Batman vs Deadshot


I was playing a game online one night and thought I’d try my Suicide Squad vs someone else’s Bat-team.  That leap/climb really killed me at the end and we ended up in a melee with Batman and Deadshot…which is exactly what you don’t want with Deadshot. He’s great at a distance, but up close…meh. John Delcared he was going to use Batman’s Exploit Weakness and I felt compelled to point out that he already had exploited Flyod’s weakness by engaging him in close quarters! I just imagined it happening like this.

 I’m pretty sure this is going to show up eventually in Violent Blue as a dream sequance

Big Lebowski this Weekend at the Plaza

A quick heads up to fans of the Big Lebowski. It’ll be playing this weekend at the Plaza, but if you can’t make it, never fear, it’ll be showing again in December at the Cedar Lee!

The Maltese Falcon TONIGHT!


Tonights the night! I’m going to see one of my all time favorite movies…possibly the one that’s been my favortie for the longest. I’m even more excited about this one than I was about Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Which coincidentally is playing at this festival too….).

You can find detail on tickets and location here :


Maddie asked me if I would draw something for her. I said I’d be happy to and asked what she wanted. She thought about it for a moment and replied “I want a scary monster!” I said that would be fine and asked what kind of monster. She marched into my library and pointed to the autographed Hellraiser poster. “I want him!”

I’m not sure what she painted him green. It’s kind of like the zombie she painted green…maybe green things are scary….

I can see why she’s attracted to it though…it probably has to to with memories of this event…..(oh how my wife FREAKED OUT when she saw these pictures…..I told her to calm down and go read some Violent Blue )

Goodbye Joe Kubert

I just…I don’t have the words.

Casablanca this weekend


ImageHeading out to Playhouse Square this Saturday for their screening of Casablanca! $5 to get in and I know a little parking lot that charges $3 for a space all day.

Casablanca is admittedly, one of those movies that is always in revival, and I suppose I could wait for another chance, but really, I just want to see it on the big screen, and the screens don’t get much bigger than this one (without going IMAX or something anyhow)

Hope to see you downtown at 2:00!

Superman 2 : Donner vs. Lester

I was really excited to show off the Richard Donner autographs he mailed me, but it seems like a good opportunity to talk a little bit about the Donner cut of Superman 2.

I’ve got a fun habit of watching a kind of “alternate” Superman. We all know that the first two movies were filmed mostly back to back and were intended to stand as a unified whole. Most people are fine watching the theatrical cuts of 1 and 2. It’s a good 3-4 hours. My preference however is to throw in the Salkind international cut ( this is one that was shown on TV, with a good hour of extra footage) and then follow it up with the Donner cut of 2. It’s a long 5-6 hour block to do it, but you get an experience like no other.

To be fair, I’m not a Lester hater. The theatrical cut of Superman 2 is still one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. There’s a strength to the script and a mythology that’s just remarkable. We may sense more magic from Donners parts – Lester was really just a hired gun. In fact  there are scenes that Donner filmed that Lester reshot, and shot exactly the same. No different angles, just a different color necktie or something.

The biggest differences are things the studio interfered with. The ending, and more importantly – Brando. Having Jor-El in Superman 2 changes the whole tone of the film. It changes the feel when Superman gives up his powers. You can almost see accusation in Jor-El’s eyes, aimed at Lois as the de-powering occurs. The loss at the end of the movie as Jor-El restores Superman’s powers has a different flavor. Brando’s contribution to this film cannot be overstated. He may be more important to this movie than he was to the first.

The Salkind International cut of Superman 1 isn’t commercially available, but  tech savy people can probably track it down. otherwise, pick up a copy of the extended version and pair it with the Donner cut of Superman 2 and watch this movie again for the first time.

Thank You Richard Donner!


Do I really even need to say anything else? How cool is this?

I’ll tell you what, Taylor over at Violent Blue would plotz.


You know, I used to love the Robocop cartoon on Fox kids (or as they were calling it back then “Fox Action Theater”) but always wondered what they were thinking making a cartoon out of an R Rated movie. Of course I also found myself wondering why they would make a movie that – from the poster art – looked like it would be perfectly geared towards kids and rate it R. I have vivid memories of going to the Avon Lake Theatre (with the marquee all lit up in sparkling moving lights) and staring at the huge cardboard stand up in the lobby – this same image of Robocop getting out of his car, and lamenting the fact that I wouldn’t get to see it.

Of course I caught it on TV years later. Even recorded that TV edited version and watched it over and over through the years. Then my friend Mike got the Criterion cut – the nc17 version. Wow. Talk about over the top violence. The directors commentary on it is really good as well and gives you a much better idea of what was going through Verhoven’s head at the time.

I doubt this will be that criterion cut so it may feel like some things are missing, but I still can’t wait to see this on the big screen. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since I was 11. If you’ve got five dollars burning a hole in your pocket, come on out to the Cedar lee and join me this Saturday at midnight. And remember,  there will be a new Violent Blue up tomorrow!

Cinema in the Square!

Cleveland’s 15th annual Cinema in the Square is here! Last year, my friend Mike and I caught the screening of “The Good The Bad and The Ugly”> This year I plan on hitting a few more of these movies. Aug 16 is “The Maltese Falcon”! one of my all time favorite movies. The full list is available over at and it includes Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, Mary Poppins and a whole bunch more. My wife is even talking about taking the kids to Willy Wonka and the Choclate Factory. 

All showings are $5,and I know of a good parking spot about a blok and a half away where you can pay a box $3 to park as long as you need. This is really worth the trip to downtown Cleveland to hang out at Playhouse Squeare and especially for me – to be able to see movies that were made long before I was born! Hope to see you there!