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Archive for October, 2012

Happy Halloween!

If you’re not sure exactly what is going on, check out this week’s Violent Blue.

The Spider-Man costume is real. What happend is we were given a box of custumes for the girls, and someone threw in an adult Spider-Man costume for me. No mask or gloves, but not a big deal.

Except I was broke.

So I was looking at this Spider-Man costume and trying to figure out what to do with it. I had a costume party coming up and wanted to wear it, but the mask and gloves were a problem. I considered doing the mask in facepaint, but my hair would still be showing. I don’t currently have a bald cap and it just looks band anyhow. I could do a Marvel Zombie, but to be comic accurate, I need a torn up mask. I don’t have an intact Spidey mask, much less a torn one.

Zombies still seemed like a good idea. I was thinking about the “Blackest Night” event DC had done in the Green Lantern comics a year ago. Those zombies weren’t just dead people, the black lantern rings kind of took them and turned them into gruesomely distorted versions of themselves. I came up with the idea of etching the spider web on my face and creating dark circles around my eyes in the shape of his goggles from the mask, then adding my black lantern ring to explain the lack of gloves.

I like it. The makeup was crazy long – over two hours. I could probably chalk that up to me trying out some new techniques. The cuts are cotten, colored with fake blood and the edges cleaned up with flesh tone greaspaint. A little black in there too to dirty it up and make it look infected. I could probably do it quicker now. I also added a little pink to the skin where the cuts join to add some trauma. Over all, I think it works well, and I like the idea of a costume that is in of itself a crossover. I like the idea though, that Taylor is wearing to to cause trouble. I used to wear Doctor Who costumes to Star Trek conventions for that EXACT SAME REASON!

Head on over to see this week’s Halloween hijinks at Violent Blue!

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1313 Mockingbird Lane

I missed it! I didn’t even realized that NBC was broadcasting it on Friday. Fortunately I was chatting with Kevin over at the Monster Channel Sunday night and he told me I could find it on NBC.com. So I headed over there,  loaded up the page and watched.

In case you weren’t aware, 1313 Mockingbird Lane is a contemporary re-imagining of The Munsters, and is produced by Bryan Singer of “X-Men”  and “House M.D.” fame.  The look is contemporary. It’s slick and the effects are great. It’s got sharp pacing and some interesting practical effects along with interesting characterizations of the characters.

What it isn’t…..is funny.

It was developed as a kind of dramatic comedy. There’s a lot of sentimentality and talk of “Loving too much”, and these kind of lines are delivered with such straight faced sincerity it’s obvious they are trying to play this straight.

I think that’s really where this fails. You see, the source material is so absurd, you really have to play this for laughs. I was thinking about this a bit, and wondered if you could have played The Addam’s Family this straight. I don’t think it would work there either. In fact I think they tried a little too hard to be serious in the movies and it’s one of the places those fall short. The tone is important with these kind of stories. This isn’t the place for an hour drama/comedy like Ally McBeal or Franklin and Bash. This is strictly half hour sitcom / slapstick material like Night Court or Big Bang Theory.

The tone also applies to the look of the characters. I’m not a hater as far as them looking repetitively normal. I get what they were trying to do, but it seems like they may have gone a bit too far in many cases. Herman really needs a different build. Someone big and clumsy like Brad Garrett. When Herman would fall or stumble, it just didn’t work right. Jerry O’Connell is just to…pretty for that to work. It feels wrong. There was a clever moment when he was silhouetted in front of a lantern giving the square head and bolts look for a moment. I will grant that they didn’t need to go that far into the Frankenstein makeup, but perhaps a messier hairstyle that gave the impression of a bigger, more square head would have worked.

Lily, played by Portia de Rossi, is fairly well realized, but I missed the streaks in her hair. I  think it would have been perfectly reasonable to have two toned hair, perhaps in a more modern style rather than the skunk look. A few more Bat  touches as well – a necklace or bracelet. Perhaps a choker would have completely satisfied me.

Eddie is totally good. I’m fine with him. Mason Cook did a perfectly adequate job for someone his age.

Charity Wakefield’s Marylin kind of baffles me. Considering that they seemed to put great effort in making sure none of the characters looked like their counterparts in the original series, they sure made Marylin look like she stepped  right out of a 1960’s peroxide ad. She’s supposed to be the normal looking one. That Marylin Monroe look of her’s is completely out of place in 2012. There’s a serious missed opportunity here. She could have been a perky cheerleader type or a hopeful Glee clone. Making her look exactly like Marylin from teh original Munsters actually makes her look more out of place than the rest of the family.

Then there’s Grandpa, played by Eddie Izzard. Grandpa was one of the best things about this show. The look works just fine for me – except when he vamps out. And that brings me to my final criticism of the pilot. The horror.

Grandpa’s vampire is terrifying. It’s grotesque and right out of the Coppola Dracula movie. Seriously well realized but seriously intimidating. I wouldn’t let my kids watch that monster, it’s too scary and that was the whole point of the Munsters. It was a gateway show for monster kids, monsters that weren’t that scary but still monsters. It’s not jsut  that Grandpa is terrifying, things get a little scary violent -especially towards the end. Eddie’s scoutmaster is invited over for dinner because Grandpa wants to kill him, drink his blood and put his heart in Herman. It almost happens. He vamps out and the scoutmaster accidentally falls down a flight of stairs and is killed accidentally before Grandpa can murder him. One of the last scenes is Herman on the operating table with a new heart and Grandpa drinking the last of the scoutmasters blood through a straw. That’s a little gruesome for The Munsters. I’d be fine with it in a horror show, but it’s out of place in a comedy. The gore (particularly when Herman is being operated on) is pushing it but can work if done properly (The Mark Harmon film “Summer School” immediately comes to mind) but murder and death are just wrong for this context.

The show wasn’t picked up, and I admit, I’m glad. This is the wrong format for it. But I’m also glad the pilot got made and got broadcast, because it gives us a different image of The Munsters and speaks to some very good ideas. I think this show could be updated and look a lot like what this pilot showed us. But I think the theme and tone need to be different so that it turns The Munsters back into a show were we get the opportunity to laugh at what scares us.


The future of Comic Book movies

So blockbuster season is firmly in  the past. I saw what I was going to see, and successfully avoided Dark Knight (not a nolan fan, I’ll get around to it on DVD). and I’m wondering how much longer this can last.

Don’t get me wrong. Comic Book films aren’t going away. They never have. There have been comic book films pretty much as long as there has been cinema. I have old Captain America serials and Superman movies from the 40 and 50s. I think there were a grand total of five Shadow movies. But as you look over history, you can see certian…eras. Especially in the last few decades. Usually it’s started off by a Superhero film that redefines the genre. Superman did it, and that was really the model for a good chunk of the 80s, until Batman in 1989. That redefined things as gritty, dark and rubber suits if you were going to go with a costume like in Captain America – but you weren’t allowed to show the suits too much. No costume? You just went dark and grindhousey like in the Punisher. Oh and the supporting cast didn’t really have to resemble their comic book counterparts. You can toss Judge Dredd, The Crow, Spawn and Blade in there, probably even X-Men though around that time things began to change. Specifically, Spider-Man changed all of that. Now we were looking more at making the costume as closely resemble the source material as possible, like Cap and the Avengers and Thor and Green Lantern and Hellboy ect….and it also defined the Superhero movie as THE blockbuster event of the summer.

And that’s where we’ve been for a while. In fact, we’ve kind of gone from a comic book movie being an event because it’s so rare, to any other kind of blockbuster being an event because it’s so rare. Remember Independence Day? Mission Impossible (two was my favorite)? Godzilla? How about the original Total Recal or Terminator 2? Demolition Man? We don’t see these movies so much now because the Superhero movie has taken their place. Indeed, one of the reasons The Expendables has been such a big deal is because the 80’s action movie has become nearly extinct.

Which brings me to my point. How long can this last? We’ve been on the superhero blockbuster ride for a decade now and what really has me thinking about this is The Avengers. It seems to me that with the Avengers, the comic book blockbuster has reached critical mass. It’s a brilliant achievement in of itself, and really the epitome of everything Avi Avrad was trying to do when he set Marvel down  the path to making movies (his belief was that film was where Marvel would make it’s money and was the future of the company) in the 90’s.

But where do we go from here? Already the landscape is changing again. The Dark Knight seems to be the new template, judging by the look of The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel. If Superhero film is moving in that direction, then the Avengers is already falling behind. And as DC moves forward to try and duplicate the success from the Avengers, the glut of Superhero movies on the market is only going to get worse, making market fatigue inevitable…and quickining it’s progress.

That’s really my fear. That it becomes so common place it breeds contempt. Without some new innovation, a REAL game changer (not just an tonal change like we got from the Dark Knight) that Hollywood will ride this train into the ground, until Superhero movies become box office poison. 

And here’s the really scary thought to me both as a comic fan and as a comic artist on Violent Blue

Because comics these days are so heavily tied to the movie properties to support them, when the Comic Book movie goes back underground or vanishes completely for a while (like it did in the seventies)…what happens to comic books?


Dracula at the Capitol Theatre in Cleveland this Sunday! 10:00 and $5.00! There’s nothing more I can really say about it….I’m just super pumped to see this on the big screen…especially after watching the Frakenstien movies on Wednesday! I’m so excited, I may just blow off workign on any Violent Blue this weekend….hope to see you there!


Turn off the Dark

This should be awful.

Seriously. This is a terrible idea and the people who gave  the go ahead should really consider another line of work.

So why can’t I stop watching it?

I got the DVD at Monster Bash. It’s not great, certainly no pro-shot, but it’s watchable….given that may alternative is sitting and listening to the OST with my eyes closed.

We all heard the stories about the nightmare production – actors in  the hospital, budget overruns, script problems. The subject matter itself really isn’t suitable for stage. Mind you, it’s not the WORST idea for a musical…you need only go back to our post months ago on Carrie : the Musical to see that. ( https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/carrie-the-musical/ ) And it feels the need to rehash that origin story AGAIN. This is the reason I skip the first fifty minuets of Raimi’s first movie every time I watch it. Still, they manage to do something interesting with it. The idea of the hero persona being inspired by the myth of Arachne is an interesting take. We actually get to the MJ romance quicker and I honestly LIKE MJ in this. It’s a better actress and somehow she just feels more sympathetic.

Interestingly, we never get resolution from Uncle Ben’s death.

There’s a heavy film influence here. The costume is obviously based on the movies -and it’s certainly better than that crap Andrew Garfield is wearing. They add the romance angle from Doc Ock and his wife and transfer it into the Norman Osborn character. It’s MJ he drops off the bridge again instead of Gwen -I’m more willing to forgive that with a smaller scale like this though.

You know what? I think “Rise above” may be even more inspiring than “With great power comes great responsibility”.

It’s not U2. If you remember that, you’ll be fine with the music. It’s not u2. It’s showtunes that aren’t bogged down with the baggage of showtune tradition. It’s better than other novelty musicals like Evil Dead or Spamalot.

In the end though, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a novelty. It’s really more circus than theatre. It’s cool to finally see Carnage in a live action appearance (unless you count the Sega Genesis commercials back in the 90’s) and the cutscenes on the big screens of the villains and the backstory really works. It’s fun. The music is catchy enough for me to listen too at work. This production should be terrible….

But it’s not. I want to hate on it, but I just can’t. I’m not sure it’s worth the price of a broadway musical, but it’s definitely worth seeing.  Hit up Youtube for clips and grab a bootleg if you can find one. (While you at it, check out this week’s Violent Blue!)

 


Frakenstien double feature!

Just in time for Halloween, NCM Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Universal will present a Halloween Double Feature in movie theaters nationwide on Wednesday, October 24th in celebration of Universal’s 100th Anniversary. Don’t miss seeing Boris Karloff on the big screen as the original “Frankenstein” (1931) followed by Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935).

The event will begin with TCM Host Robert Osborne as he treats audiences to exclusive interviews conducted at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival.  Joining him will be Karloff’s daughter, Sara Karloff along with Bela Lugosi, Jr. the son of the classic Dracula star and  Academy Award® winning make-up artist, Rick Baker. All three will talk about classic horror movies, how legendary icons like Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi helped define the genre and how today’s horror films measure up to the classics.

The nearest theatre to me is Crocker Park in Westlake, tickets are 12.50. You KNOW I’m going. You can find a list of participating theatres here : http://www.fathomevents.com/upcoming/alllocations.aspx?eventid=1105

Seriously. Don’t miss this. It’s one thing for me to come up here and talk about the coolness of 12 hours of Terror and seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the big screen, but Frankenstein? and Bride of Frankenstein? Are you kidding me? These aren’t just horror classics, they’re classic masterpieces. I’m going to finish up a Violent Blue strip and then I’m out the door!


So I decided to revisit the Fright Night remake. It’s bee na year or so since I caught the sneak preview. I remember not hating it. I think I actually like it a bit better even this time around.

Much like the Carpenter Vampires movies and From Dusk Till Dawn were a breath of fresh air in a time where vampire lore was dominated by Anne Rice, Fright Night is a refreshing  break from the Twilight era of vampires, and a return to from where vampires are brutal killers, not romantic loners.
The effects are good enough and even a bit creative. Anton Yelchin’s Charlie is actually an incredibly good vampire hunter, particularly in the movie’s finale.

So what’s the problem? Well, it’s mostly in the name. You see, this is a good vampire movie. A couple of tweaks and it could absolutely stand on it’s own, but instead, the producers opted for a remake. Fright Night was on of the innovators in the 80. It was different take on the idea, much like the Lost Boys. Unfortunately, if you’re going to call yourself Fright Night then you have to live up to that legacy, and really instead of helping it along, the name recognition just drags this movie down, creating unrealistic expectations.

That’s really the curse of the remake in general isn’t it? You get the name recognition, but  then you also have to live up to the previous installments…and that’s not easy. Most remakes don’t really even try, it’s just a quick cash grab. I think this could have worked better as an unrelated sequel – don’t use the characters names (or maybe make Tennant, Peter Vincent’s son, something like that) and set it in the same universe, but make a fresh movie for a new generation. But insted,  they went the cheap route and made a straight up remake. It’s a pity. This si a good movie, but it will never be considered as good as it could be because it’s forever saddled with the term “remake”

You can watch it here untill someone wises up and takes it down (in which case you’ll just have to head over and read some Violent Blue. Okay?).


 

Happy Monday! Today I’m rebloging a post from the PC Repair on Wheels site where I’m talking about one of my favorite books; Microserfs.

The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a PowerBook by the narrator, Daniel. Because of this, as well as its formatting and usage of emoticons, wich is really interesting considering the similiarties  to what emerged a decade later in the form of blogs (like this one!).

What I’ve always said about Microserfs and why I enjoy it so much is that it gives you a very good feeling for what it’s like to live in teh tech industry. The market and tech world has changed significantly since the 90s – the financial predictions that Microserfs makes were absolutely dead on – but the Tech culture remains largely the same. I look at this book and recognize my world as someone in IT, yet it’s tempered with enough human intrest to make it accessable to someone outside that arena. That makes it a good book to hand to someone outside of my world so they can better understand the industry I exist in.

Coupland revisited many of the ideas in Microserfs in his 2006 novel JPod, which has been labeled “Microserfs for the Google generation”.

I’m not sure why, but I just don’t find JPod as compelling. That dosne’t make sense as they are both so similar. Both Microserfs and Jpod are written in the form of a log by the main character. Both characters are in their mid-twenties, mainly live to work in the digital industry, which also means they are doubting their purpose in life, their friends are their -also slightly dysfunctional- colleagues, they fall in love with a female colleague and their parents have problems.
Perhaps it’s because by this point Coupland had made more of a name for himself and is a more recognizable author. He self referancs himself several times in JPod which I find supremely annoying.

Pick them both up at the Libaray. There’s audio versions as well, and having read the pap[er books and listened to the audio ones I can tell you, there’s not much of any importance left out. Microserfs is read by Matthew Perry (of “Friends” fame) and is the perfect voice for it. Spend some time in these books and see the world through IT eyes. But while you’re reading, don’t forget to put it down here and here to check out the new Violent Blue strips!


Hauntville!

We’re starting a new column this week, hopefully this will be a bi-weekly thing. Before I started on Violent Blue, I made films. This column is a fun little place where I’m going to show off videos that I’ve either done or appeared in.

I spent half the Halloween season working at the Elyria Haunted House “Hauntville”.  They recently got profiled on the news and much to my surprise, not only am I in the video…I’m the thumbnail! check it out!

http://youtu.be/15uXSmmGwoA


12 Hours of Terror

And what a movie night we have ahead of us! The Capitol Theatre presents its 3rd Annual 12 Hours of Terror all-night horror movie marathon. Titles include: The original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) FRIGHT NIGHT (1985), SLITHER (2006), SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004), TERROR TRAIN (1980), JAWS 3-D (1983) plus a surprise secret screening! No one under 18 admitted. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 day of show.

Look guys, movies like these were made to be seen on a big screen. 12 hours is always a good time and not a bad deal, even at thirty dollars. I guarantee you won’t be disappointing.

And if you are, read some Violent Blue. That always cheers me right up.