The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Archive for April, 2013

A couple more commissions from Angle Lite comics. This one is Mr. Loves, Guardian of the heroine.

I’m sure he’s  a far more serious character, but I couldn’t resist throwing in a few fun captions.

wabbit1 small wabbit2 small

Okay, now back to working on Violent Blue.


Cedar Lee Sci-Fi festival

66817_582765398415193_1264437923_n

Hey guys, just a quick reminder, there’s a lot going on this weekend! Saturday is Free comic book day. My girls and I will be hitting a bunch of local venues and trying to complete a set as well and buying stuff at each store to su557945_10151555964452138_2139572511_npport the retailers. Then that evening is the Cedar Lee theatre’s Sci-Fi fest! This is the first time they’ve tried something like this, but you know we’re big fans of their horror film festivals and are really hoping this is just as much fun. For the innaugral year they are presenting the following four films :

The original “Godzilla (Gojira)” (1954) at 8:00 PM, “The Matrix” (1999) at 10:00 PM, “Total Recall” (1990) at 12:30 AM and “They Live” (1988) at 2:30 AM. Marathon tickets are $16 and available in advance only. Day of tickets for individual films are $5 each.

Seriously, a screening of Godzilla should be enough reason to get out there this weekend! Then come on back here Monday morning for a new Violent Blue!


Pet minder

gamerSo I found the craziest app for my tablet and phone. It’s not exactly a video game, but that’s  the closest category I could really come up with to put it under.

pet_minder_ipad400Does anyone remember having one of those Tamagotchi devices back in the 90’s? You know, the little virtual pets in a LCD egg that you had to feed, clean up after and play with to keep them alive?

Chances are, if you were old enough to have one of  those games, you’ve grown up a bit now. According to the 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 72.9 millions homes. Of course a real pet is more than a little different from having a virtual pet. That’s where today’s app comes in.

Pet Minder Lite for Android keeps track of all the needs your pet has. It’s a free app that tracks pet feedings, bathroom breaks and trips to the vet with a tile notification system that is very similar to Windows 8. It even remembers birthdays!  The app can show as many as to two feeding reminders every day on the Android notification bar.


Bubble Mania!

gamerMy wife adores bubble popping games, tetris clones and puzzles of all kinds. So when we found bubble Mania, we were both hooked.

It’s a standard puzzle game, match three or more of the same color and they all disappear. It’s wrapped up in the tiniest of stories, that the main character ( the cat like creature at the bottom) has had all of her babies kidnapped and they are trapped in the bubbles. It’s up to you to rescue them! So she stands under the mass of bubbles and throws them up one at a time, trying to match enough to free her babies.

You do have limited energy, lose to many times and you’ll have to wait until the next day to play again, but all in all it’s a fun time waster, with pretty graphics that feel similar to the more kawaii Anime styles. Give it a try, it’s free at the Amazon App store, and while you’re waiting for it to download, head on over to Violent Blue and check out today’s strip!


The Ward

Movie banner

This review contains spoilers. Get over it.

MV5BMTY3NDE3NzQxNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjYxMzI1NQ@@__V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_I was getting ready for Cinema Wasteland. I had taken Friday off from work, I usually do so I can sleep late in the morning and grab a nap in the afternoon, because once Cinema Wasteland starts – sleep is just not an option.

Amy and the girls had left for the morning and I was flipping through Netflix and came across The Ward. This was the latest John Carpenter film. I remember hearing about it a year or so ago…and nothing good. Most reviewers ripped it apart, with a lot of observations like “Carpenter is just in this one for the paycheck” and “uninspired” and “Unoriginal” Carpenter fans in particular wer incensed, acting like this was the worst Carpenter film ever, and wondering if he had lost his touch.

The bad review on Horror Ect. had pushed this to the bottom of my to-watch list, but it was a sleepy afternoon and it seemed like a good time to catch up.

It’s actually a nice ghost story that keeps you on your toes. The gore isn’t over the top and there are some torture elements there for the Saw fans. The monster isn’t particuarly groundbreaking, but sufficiantly creepy. I figured out the twist at the end – almost, I got a slight detail wrong. It’s Sucker Punch for horror fans but I was wrong about who’s dream it was. The jump scare at the end got me too.

The films biggest flaw I think, is that it’s perfectly average. John Carpenter’s name makes us expect a great deal more – and I’m not sure why. Not every Carpenter film can be a masterpiece like The Thing, or Escape for New York, or even the underrated ones like Prince of Darkness or the Fog. The Ward is certianly better than Ghosts of Mars or Escape from L.A.

The%20Ward-cropped-proto-filmcritic_reviews___entry_defaultI do have two small gripes with the film. I am completely at a loss when  trying to understand why this is a period piece. Period movies are hard. They require a great deal more attention to detail – it has to LOOK right.

This movie is set in the 60’s and I’ve got to tell you, this chick does NOT look like she stepped out of 1966. That hair is too curly and silky (I remember my friend’s mother telling uys about how she used to take so much time to straighten out her naturly curly hair in the 60’s because no one wore it curly at the time). The makeup isn’t shaped correctly. The colors are wrong. John Carpenter lived through this era, I’d expect him to get it a little better…..or perhaps just set it in modern times. The clothes are slightly better, but really they’re mostly nodescrpit. They could have come from any era. Other than a few shots of the TV and soem referances to Electroshock tharapy being revolutionarly, I just don’t get why this had to be a period film.

ghost behind youMy other issue is the monster. Like I said, the ghost is adaquate. That mask really shouldn’t be shown in full light like that though. They try to clean it up with some CG and create a “Crawling ” effect on her skin, but it ends up looking a little to cheap. Cheap isn’t necessarily bad, Carpenter does well with cheap. But he would have done better back lighting this thing, or really giving some harsh contrasting shadows. There are tons of ridges on her face for the light to play on, wrinkles you colud get glistening effects from KY Jelly and really create a creepier atmosphere. I wonder if there just wasn’t time to set up the lighting correctly (still, a couple of strategically placed clamp lamps could have helped immensely)?

All in all, a very average movie. By the way, before I got around to writing this review I was pleased to see I wasn’t the only one who had recently watched this nad had this kind of reaction, BloodyWren over at horrific healing got his review up a couple weeks ahead of me! You can check it out here :  http://bloodyrenn.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/the-ward/

and don’t forget, there’s new Violent Blue up today!


Pinhead pins, take two.

hellraiser

100_3235

So when we last tried to make pins for the pinhead makeup, it was using liquid latex. That experiment failed miserably. This time we’re going straight to the modeling compuound, something I’m reasonably sure will work.

I use a product by Crayola (like the crayons) called model magic. It’s extremely lightweight and the consistency of clay. It dries hard, but still remarkably light, lighter than foam rubber even. The reason I had wanted to avoid using this was because I was going to have to roll each of those nails by hand…and yep. That’s exactly what I ended up doing.

100_3234I had counted the pins on Pinheads skull and kept coming up with different numbers. I finally settled on 120. I expected I would end up making a slightly larger grid and not needing all of those, but better to have extras than not enough.

Finally, once enough pins were done, it was time to do a test run to see if they 100_3253would be light enough to stick on my face. First we draw the grid on my face so we know where to put the pins. this will also serve as a guide for the cotton scars I’ll add later. A dab of liquid latex at the bottom each, then some heat and time  waiting for them to connect with my face. In addition, I am planning on using shredded cotton to create the grid on my face. That will have t he added effect of helping to support the pins and hide the wide bottom that is holding it on to my skin.

The grid is going to be achieved by adding shredded cotton to my face. First you draw a line of liquid latex, then you slowly add bits 100_3255of cotton on top of it. Next you color it to blend in with the skin. When I actually do the pin head makeup, I won’t actually have to color the cotton since my skin will be white anyhow. To get it to look like a slice however, you need blood. The blood mats down the center and makes the edges look torn. For Pinhead, I plan to use blue food coloring instead of red blood.

Since I’m not in full makeup yet, I still did some of the cotton cuts, but colored them flesh tone and added a line of red blood in them so it gives kind of the effect of a pre-pinhead….it is just a test run after all.

The cotton cuts are going to take forever…I can see that just from the preliminary testing I’m doing right now. This is going to be a long makeup application.

100_3261Since it’s just a test appliance, I decided not to do the whole face, just half…it’ll save time, and still be proof of concept. I like how it looks, and the pins are working out just fine. The next step is goign to be the bald cap. There’s plenty of Model Magic pins left that I can glue them on to it….

but not tonight. I’ve already spent two hours rolling pins and another hour and a half just trying tout this makeup application. I’m loving the look, you can really see the beautiful symmetry of the pins, but I’m also getting a little tiered and need to do some Violent Blue for tomorrow. We’ll tackle the bald cap on anther night.

Pins :COMPLETE

100_3259


Image

ssm copy


Finished a couple of comissions over the weekend for Dave over at Angel Lite comics – This is his character Dumas Spirit and her secret identity Spirit Ariela Olivier.

1 2 3

Now that’s that is done, maybe i better get back on to some Violent Blue…..


Shinboku Con 7

Conman

Logo2013I attended the seventh annual Shinboku con this weekend. This is a new one to me. I was aware of it last year but decided not to go because I already had a full con schedule and I’m not as into Anime as I used to be. About a year after I got married I stopped watching regularly, and probably stopped buying shortly after that, it had gotten to mainstream; to popular.

Now before you accuse me of being a hipster, I’d like to point out that it’s not necessarily it’s popularity per se that is the probelm. It’s everything that goes with it. It’s the pretentious posuers that crop up who think thier Anime experts because they’ve seen Tenchi Muyo, but have no idea what Robotech is. It’s the IMG_20130413_161155glut of crap anime that floods the shelves of best buy (or thier subsidiary Suncoast back in the day – a real perpetrator of this) that keeps people from discovering great stuff like Bounty Dog, or Bubblegum Crisis, or X.

I hadn’t expected much from this con, but decided to try it out this year, so I put on my one and only Anime shirt (Excel Saga) and headed over. The con is in my backyard – almost litrialy. I could walk to the hotel from my house. That’s a good thing and also a bad thing. Elyria isn’t known for it’s culture. That’s not quite fair, because there is some good stuff here, but it gets no press and doesn’t always get a chance to thrive.

I looked over the schedule and saw that there was some real organization here. It’s an ambitious con. A panel room, a main stage (which also doubles as another panel room. Sometimes you have to choose which one you want to go IMG_20130413_130537 smallto), a video game room, a tabletop game room, a dealers room and an anime room. That’s a lot going on at any given time of day. I did check out the vendors room, but it was extremely small and not a lot that I was interested in. A real surprise that the vendors room was such a disappointment – it’s usually one of the coolest things about a convention. Still, there was definitely plenty of other things to see and do.

I started my day off hitting the cosplay panel. God bless the Ramada Inn by the way, for providing coffee. It was a cold rainy day and I wasn’t as bundled up as I should have been. There was a lot of basic info that I already knew here, but one interesting tidbit, I’ve never considered searching YouTube for cosplay tips and patterns like the moderator suggested. I like that. I may be looking into that for my next costume project….maybe even for some of the Hellraiser project. I headed IMG_20130413_135246downstairs for my next panel, with voice actor Kyle Hebert. The downstairs thing by the way, is a bit of a problem, it’s got to do with the way the hotel is set up. The con was divided into two places. First flooor towards the front of the hotel, and upstairs towards the back of the hotel. I was constantly running back and forth to get from one event to the next. Still, that’s the Hotel’s fault, not the cons.

Back to Kyle Hebert.  He’s done several things I know about and was really fun to listen too. This was more of a random stream of consciousness talk rather IMG_20130413_151102than a formal panel (he would be doing a voice acting workshop later in the day. I managed to catch about half of that before I had to leave for the day.) and it was interesting to hear him talk about every subject under the sun, including 3d movies, the Wizard of OZ, working in video games and his dream of being in a Disney movies (finally fulfilled when he did two likes as Ryu in Wreck-it Ralph).

Since it was across the hall, I wanted to check out the video game room. While I like video games, I generally suck at them. It’s the main reason I’m not a gamer. However, I love watching other people play…it gives me some of the experience of the game without ripping out my hair because I can’t figure out the next stupid puzzle. I stood in awe watching the new marvel vs. Capcom game, along with some of the interesting Kinect games being played. Skull girls was a fun interesting title, along with Portal. Someone had rigged up a MAME machine to the big screen, and Super Mario was  running for a good chunk of the day. Awsome.

551429_10151523748618614_1059436194_nOn the other side of the hall there was the tabletop gaming room. I didn’t spend quite as much time in there as I would have liked too. It’s one thing to watch over someones shoulder while they are playing a video game, but I just feel weird watching a war game or a role playing game. I guess I’m just not sure what the protocol is there. The gaming vendors were down in this room as well instead of the vendors room and that worked out well. I really wanted to buy one of the plushie 12 sided die, but this was a little too close to Cinema Wasteland and I’m still kind of broke.

Amongst the games, there was a Heroclix tournament scheduled, but unfortunately I had a conflict, my wife had a job that night that was going to IMG_20130413_141847start about the same time as the heroclix tourney so I missed it. However I did run in to a couple of guys I know from clix beforehand and that was fun.

My next panel was the special effect makeup one. I do makeups frequently and am always interested in learning something new. That was half the reason I did the haunted house last year.  I learned a new recipe for blood that I may be trying out at the Lakewood Zombie Walk this year and got a great idea for how to do a life cast. That’s something I’ve really been wanting lately as I try to create more and IMG_20130413_160208more intricate make up appliances.

Usually I will fill up a convention blog entry with pictures of people in costume. Of course at an Anime con, cosplay is far more pervasive. I’ve always complained about the lack of cosplay at horror cons and even at Ohio Comic cons (I admit, I do seem to see more of it outside of Ohio). I knew I’d see more at an Anime convention, but I really wasn’t prepared for exactly how much. Honestly, I actually felt a little out of place.

If I had tried to take pictures of everyone in costume I wouldn’t have had time to do anything else! There were however, a few stand out costumes.

IMG_20130413_141017

Calvin and Hobbes. Yes, he IS carrying around a stuffed tiger. He wanted the picture to be more like we would typically  see Calvin, so he made faces while I was snapping it. Note the Black Lantern ring????

darko

Donnie Darko. It’s a cult film for a good reason….I just wish I could figure out what that reason was. Very cool costume choices though.

IMG_20130413_160654

This No-Face from Spirited Away was just the coolest thing I saw all day. That’s APOCALYPSEactually an average size girl in there. If you look hard you can just make out the black fabric covering the eyehole.

I managed to sneak back for the Zombie Apocalypse panel and I’m incredibly glad I did. It was one of the funniest panels of the night. A little out of control with ranting and some of the more outrageous humor from the evening (they were actually carding people for this one – I can understand that from the language alone….)

I ended the evening at the glow stick ball. Lots of good thumping music here, with a lot of video game influences. In particular I was hearing a lot of Skyrim playing. People were dancing, having fun, minding thier own business….

GLOWSTICK BALL

and that’s when the lightsaber battle broke out…..

lightsaber

Now that’s a party.

It was a well done con. Better than I expected, though there were still some rough edges. Still, this is exactly the kind of thing Elyria needs more of and in a lot of ways it reminds me a lot of why I used to be into Anime myself. I don’t think I can ever get back to that kind of passion for the subject, but this convention definitely has my interest and is on my radar. I suspect I’ll be back next year, if for no other reason than to support a good Elyria event. Who knows? Maybe I can dress up as a character from Violent Blue! (Do they make squirrel costumes in my size?)

bottom banner

IMG_20130413_140219 small


Evil Dead 2013

Movie banner

edI was determined to catch this while it was still in the theatres…despite the outpouring of negative reviews.

Now, most of the negative reviews I’ve seen generally fall into two categories :

The first is people who don’t like horror. Why these people would go see a movie titled “Evil Dead” I have no idea, but there are countless IMDB reviews complaining about violence, the excessive gore, even coining the phrase “Gore Porn” I guess the term “Torture Porn” has gotten played out.

The second category is people who are devotees of the original. This is the far greater category, those who revere the original film and prize it as a Horror classic.

It’s these folks especially that I have an issue with.

IMG_2683I like the Evil Dead movies. They possibly get more attention from me than they might otherwise because of their status as cult classics.  More than once I’ve been known to marathon them, and for me an Evil Dead marathon includes not only the three films, but also “Within the Woods” (the short film made to finance Evil Dead- a sort of proof of concept), both of the musicals (not only “boomstick”, which everyone knows, but also the small production that was done without authorization in Chicago and shut down quickly) and a copy of Evil Dead along with the live commentary done at Cinema Wasteland a few years ago.

I’ve tried to get into the Army of Darkness comics from Dynamite, but really the only ones that really worked for me was the crossover with the Marvel Zombies. When I see them at Half price books though, I usually get them. On my wall is a print of Tom Sullivan’s original poster, sporting the original name “Book of the Dead”. It’s signed by a bunch of the cast. I’ve gone out of my way to meet as many as I possibly could, even Bruce Campbell was nice enough to sign the thing through the mail for me.

So now that I’ve established that I have some cred here, I’d like to point one thing out about the original Evil Dead.

It’s not a great movie.Evil Dead Autos

It’s not meant to be. This isn’t cinema, it’s not art. It’s a B-Movie classic, a VHS memory. These things are good, they should be remembered, even celebrated. That’s why there are conventions like Monster Bash, and Cinema Wasteland. But let’s not overrate their quality. The original has a paper thin plot, minimal characterization and emphasizes gore over storytelling (all criticisms I heard leveled by fans at the new movie). It overcame it’s shortcomings by putting the passion of the filmmakers on the screen, and by not taking itself too seriously, venturing into a hyper-reality with comic book level violence and the occasional slapstick. It’s even possible that it could benefit from a modern remake (or preferably a sequel) that’s faithful to the original.

I think with this new movie, I take the greatest issue with the idea of “reimagining” rather than remaking it. “Reimagining” essentially gives the director the power to remake without any connection to the source material. It’s indulgent towards the film maker, not the audience, and that’s a problem. It’s especially a problem with a movie that is already fighting an uphill battle because it’s a remake and divergent from the original. In this case, they’ve used it as an excuse to skew dark and serious. Evil Dead was never dark and serious. If you get the tone of the film wrong, it casts a shadow over the entire end product and that’s a shame.

The “Reimagineing” excuse also allows them to change the rules. The most noticeable to me was how the Book of the Dead would not burn. It was a fundamental change in the relic, separating the continuity. It also gives them leave to stick in little homages wherever they feel like it…reminding you “this isn’t a sequel! It’s a reimagining!” Yeah. Ask Bryan Singer how well that worked in Superman Returns.

That said, this isn’t a bad movie. I really want it to be a sequel instead of an alternate universe, and I will probably continue to look at it that way. There could have been more than one book of the dead. Who knows if that’s even the same woods? but I’ll tell you what, if it is the same woods, I can totally understand there being more than one cabin out there.  Maybe paranormal and archeological researchers are drawn out to that region for some reason. Perhaps it has a history. That’s enough rationalization for me anyhow. Moreover, I don’t NEED Ash for a sequal, anymore than I NEEDED Ripley for it to be an Alien movie. I’ve long disowned the third film in that series, and despite what they call her in the fourth, that’s NOT Ripley that Sigorney Weaver is playing there…and I’m cool with that. The same is true for Evil Dead. I’m good with it just being about the demons and the killings.

While they may get the tone wrong, introducing serious elements like detox and abandonment, they get the gore and the creature effects VERY right. These kind of practical effects in this sort of movie always hold up better than CG, and when CG is used, it’s used right – that is, it’s used to enhance the practical. The book of the dead looks shockingly good. The redesign was really well thought out, though I have one tiny little beef with it. There are a great many interior illustrations that are pretty straightforward. it’s dark art, but still very comic book figure looking. It’s close enough in style that they really should have given this job to Tom Sullivan (the man who created the original book of the dead. Here he is pictured with me – he’s the guy holding the book!). Tom could have created these nightmarish images just as well as whatever artist took the job, and the producers could have really played up the connection to the original movie. A real missed opportunity here.   The Tree assault is done with more taste (marginally) and logic – there’s a point to it. The dialogue is chilling when we hear the demon declare “your girlfriend is being raped in Hell!” or “your mother hates you. She waits for you in Hell”. Even in the original, confidant lines like  “you are all going to die tonight” was scary. It still works here.

I’m not going to lie here. I liked this movie. It’s not better than the original, but it’s not any worse either, and that’s something a lot of sequels can’t say. It’s got it’s flaws but if we can get past both that and our (somewhat unwarranted) reverence for the original, there’s a fun and scary movie here. I’ll definitely be buying this when it comes out and am looking forward to some commentaries. I’ll pop this at the end of my next marathon (something I wouldn’t do with the Nightmare on Elm Street remake) and I look forward to seeing where this goes next.

 

By the way, Simply Film is also doing a review today, check out the podcast here :

http://simplyfilm.org/2013/04/11/as-of-yet-unnamed-simply-film-podcast-evil-dead/


Doctor Who 2013

timthumbSo we are definately far enough into the 2013 half-a-season for me to be able to form an opinion. I’m very much enjoying this run. Of course you probably wouldn’t expect anything else right?

Well, maybe you would.

I’m not Matt Smith’s biggest fan. He’s kind of like Tom Baker to me, everyone else loves him and thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread. I’m kind of lukewarm to him. I’m happy to watch him, but he’s nowhere near one of my favorites.

A couple of things have changed this time around though  The costume has changed slightly. longer coat, and a vest.  I can’t tell you how much the vest helps that costume. It adds loads to the “old man in a young man’s body” thing that Smith plays (In fact it actually helps him play it better than Tennant did I always wanted to see him look younger and more punk, maybe lose the necktie. Smith goes in the opposite direction and perfects it).  During Smith’s first two seasons I hated that suitjacket and bow tie combination so much I can’t even begin to express it. It never worked for me, and I cringed every time there was a long shot panning over the endless expanse of white shirt below that tie. A bow tie NEEDS a vest or a high button coat, otherwise it ravages the eye. The running gag about bow ties being cool is fine – very Who, but the costume ruined it for me. The longer coat we started to see in “Good Man Goes To War” helped, but this outfit perfects it. The occasional appearance of Amy’s eyeglasses is a superb touch.

The redesigned TARDIS is another source of delight to me. I despised the console from the previous run. The whole mish-mash of old technology that made up the console when the series first returned was handled with far more subtly in Eccleston and Tennenats era. It was too over-the-top in Smiths previous series. I love  the look of the new console. I miss the size of the previous console room,but it’s a fair trade for a console I can once again look upon with awe. I AM glad they still built the set so we can get in below the console and work in the guts of the TARDIS. That was a great innovation in the last set and a logical extension of how we would see Eccleston working under the grating of the console room in the first series.

pandorica-opens

Matt Smith came in under a disadvantage, following a popular Doctor (one that became a favorite of mine) his age (Actually too young. I didn’t know that could matter so much…but it does) and was saddled down with bad costuming and sets that went too silly. I know. All of that seems shallow – then again, just ask Colin Baker about how a bad costume can drag down a character. This stuff does matter.

It took me a full year to really accept Matt as the Doctor. It never clicked for me until his speech to the army of aliens in The Pandorica Opens.  “Remember every black day I defeated you! Then do the smart thing……let someone else go first”. Yeah, that was the Doctor. Finally.

All of those superficial complaints I’ve had however are gone now and let’s face it, the cosmetic shortcomings in the series have constantly been overshadowed by the excellent storytelling and directions Stephen Moffet has taken us.

That’s not slowing down either. For the first time I can remember, I’m really intrigued by the season arch – specifically who is Clara? It’s enough to make me move past the Ponds (who I was actually fond of, besides, I always liked a crowded TARDIS. Multiple companions always added a more ensemble feel to the show. One of the reasons Peter Davison is one of my favorites) and really wait on the edge of my seat for the next episodes.

While I’m waiting, I better get some Violent Blue done.


Lydia’s artwork

 

Maddie BannerMaddie is going to step aside this month and present some of her sister’s work. Lydia has been watching Maddie draw all her life and decided to start drawing herself.

I mean that. Lydia did a self portrait.

I knew this was supposed to be Lyds the moment I saw it. How? Look at the frilly skirt. Lydia loves those things. She is always wearing tooled skirts with leggins both at home and to school. I think it shows an interesting eye that she was able to capture this in her picture….that’s an impressive attention to deatil for a five-year-old.

lyds

Head over to Violent Blue to check out what Lydia’s daddy is doing today!


Alien : The Director’s Cut

Movie banner

alienI left Cinema Wasteland a little early on Friday night. I hate to cut out on the party early like that, but there was something special going on . The Apollo Theatre was screening the director’s cut of Alien.

I really miss the days when ships were dirty. When they were cramped and rusty and full of weird parts. Today ships are too clean. Even Prometheus, which cribbed a bunch of the visual style from Alien, was far to clean with holographic displays and smooth panels. This was a far more visually interesting ship and seeing it on the big screen lends so much more to it- you can see the hand written notes stuck to screens, you can see the Waylan name on the beer cans and the photos of family and pets. This was so cool to see at the theatre. The director’s cut is interesting. I’m not really convinced it adds anything to the movie, but it doesn’t really drag it down. I’ve seen a virtual directors cut with every bit of available footage added back in….and that DOES drag, but it’s a lot of fun to spend three hours on the Nostromo. It wouldn’t have worked in the theatre though. Not like this.

11594110-largeThe interesting thing about going to see this in the theatre – Oberlin is a college town. The theatre was packed with college students, and it was obvious that most of them had never seen this before (I  personally find that unthinkable, but the evidence  overwhelms me). It was fascinating to see them react to the movie for the first time. It gave an added joy to seeing this on the big screen and made it that much more memorable. Determinately worth slipping out of Wasteland.

By the way, I ran into the Cleveland Cinema’s Late Shift guys at Wasteland and noticed there’s a screening of Kubrick’s The Shining coming up on the 20th! I may just have to hit that next!


Cinema Wasteland spring 2013

Conman

april_2013_bannerNew_388758_596532770358566_1574777929_nThere’s always something special about Wasteland. As time has gone by I realize I see a lot of the same folks there every year and that makes things a little more fun. I kind of hid behind cosplay makeup this year, but still managed to say hi to Jason and Sean and Douglas. Angelique and Killer Shrew, I’m sorry I missed you guys! And a special thanks to Jeff Josyln (the gent in the zombie Uncle Sam outfit) for letting me use a bunch of his photos in this post. We seem to hit several of the same events, I’m going to have to say hello the New_479967_596532610358582_169202630_nnext time I see you.

I caught several movies this year that I’ve never seen before. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the new Gladiators – I only saw the tail end of it though (scheduling conflicts). Got to see She-Devils a-go-go with the director sitting about two seats away and the room peppered with cast members from Old School Sinema. The strangest thing I saw though, was probably Little Cigars. Little people con men…..featuring Felix Silla (Twiki, Cousin It). Just bizarre. If you’re curious, you can watch it on You Tube here– untill someone wises up and takes it down….

new100_3791

Ghastlee Night at the movies was fun as ever, though I didn’t manage to get in on any of the games.  Ginger Rose brought in balloons that had glow sticks or lights or something in them and they were getting batted around the room all night. People were getting hit in the face, on the head and general chaos ensued. Ken the promoter got roasted (though Sally the Zombie Cheerleader was taking that a little too seriously when she brought out a grill and barbecue sauce) and there was the best cornhole game ever – trying to get teeny bottles of booze through the mouth on a blown up poster of Ken’s face. it just fits Wasteland to a “T”.

I got to meet the cast of Slumber Party Massacre, but the most exciting was getting to meet Brinke Stevens. She’s one of the original scream Queens and someone I’d wanted to see for a while. Jeff Lieberman was New_100_3794back this time as well, and I finally got a picture with him as well .his panel with the cast of Just Before Dawn was the funniest panel I’ve seen in ages.

I came home with a stack of DVDs, finally getting horror Convention massacre from Old School Sinema’s table and grabbing Gingersquach from Baron Morbid. Lieberman signed a copy of Remote Control. I’ve got a bunch of movies to get through in the next couple of weeks.

Can’t wait to head back to Wasteland in October for The Hills Have Eyes reunion.  In the meantime, I better go catch up on my Violent Blue.

546077_596532463691930_13396306_n 529603_596532497025260_973529945_nI’ve never seen these Kiss guys before. I’ve got to look into that further. The werewolf girl though, she was just adorable. I love the pink hair and the cute outfit!

New_540557_596536617024848_1383190620_n

New_528524_596532727025237_1958571308_n

40832_596532797025230_15101592_nI can’t believe I missed this! Where WAS I when this was going on outside????New_524307_596532637025246_4936391_n I saw this young lady last year. She looked a lot more scary this time around  New_156893_10200869294763798_517025251_n New_909275_171022843053438_1325600192_n New_563752_10151414191476888_2101656720_n

New_100_3786 New_100_3785Always lots of interesting vendors!New_525438_612667862140_1885742736_n New_100_3807 New_100_3805 New_100_3800 New_100_3799 New_100_3787 new 100_3801


Wasteland this weekend!

april_13_smallI know this is two weeks in a row with no Friday Essentials, but Cinema Wasteland is this weekend! Since I missed most of it in the fall I expect to be spending pretty much the whole weekend there this time around. Come on out and join me! It’s always a party you will never forget! While you’re waiting though, There’s new Violent Blue up!


Hannibal

images

So I watched Hannibal last night. It’s rare I actually make time to catch a broadcast like this, but I love the Lecter series. I read my mother’s copies of the first two books as a teenager, long before I saw Manhunter or Silence of the Lambs on TV.

The show is badly miscast. While I like Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham, the other cast members are just throwing me off. 4Lawrence Fishbourne is a capable actor and I’m actually looking forward to him as Perry White in this summer’s Superman movie. He worked well in CSI and we don’t even need to mention the Matrix movies. Jack Crawford seems an ill fit for him though. I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps he’s too cool – too clean. Crawford should be a grizzled veteran FBI agent. Direct and to the point, in suits with washed out colors and ties that came off the rack with no thought towards fashion. Fishbourne has always just felt too….affable. I don’t like it.

By far though the biggest offender here is Lecter himself. I’m not married to the image of Anthony Hopkins. Really I’m not, though I’d have to admit he is the definitive performance and anyone else has nigh impossible shoes to fill….still, Brian Cox managed to do a perfectly serviceable job – and years before Hopkins ever came near the role.

1Mads Mikkelsen’s accent is incomprehensible. I have to struggle to understand what he is saying half the time, quite a surprise too. I rarely notice accents. This needs to get better or grow on me REAL quick.

The accent is just part of the problem though. He comes off far too cold. Lecter is always intelligent, refined, but also engaging. Warm in his own way. He’s easy to love as long as you don’t offend him. Mikkelsen is just…. there. It almost feels that in an attempt to give a performance that is distinctly different from Hopkins, he failed to check out the source material (not only the movies, but the books as well).

The writing is excellent. The story is engaging and the dialogue rings true. I can see these characters saying these words. I bet they look dynamite in a script. The delivery just kills them. I’m so dissapointed, this is tragic.

From the trailer at the end, I like where the series is going. I do think they should put less emphasis on Hannibal eating. It’s funny, but the cannibalism always seemed like a minor part of the books, a necessary shock and motive but not a driving component in any of the stories. It’s just a fact of life for the gourmet.

Otherwise we get Graham sinking deep into the profiles he’s doing, the partnership between him and Lecter and the relationships beginning to form. I really like the story, I just hate the cast and I’m hoping the series can overcome this, otherwise I’ll be jumping ship after the first couple episodes.

Maybe I can just find the scripts and read those instead. Something to think about while I create next week’s Violent Blue.

2


The Theatre

Movie banner

MakeThumbImageI  think this counts as an Argo City movie night….we will hit a film a little later in the article.

The movie theatre I remember the most growing up was Avon Lake. (I found these pictures over at American Classic Images )  It was where I saw Goonies, Flight of the navigator, Both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom, not to mention Batman, Spacehunter  and the Dark Crystal. It was where I went to my first midnight movie – which just happened tMakeThumbImage2o be a Rocky Horror show screening with the live performance going on below the screen.  It was where I first saw the poster for Return of the Living Dead and the Robocop standup. It’s where I dreamed of going to see the Untouchables.  It was okay, not quite a dump. It had character. Not the neon glitz of the modern Cineplex’s with 20 or 30 screens. From the time I was five or six until I was nineteen, this was my theatre.

It closed in 1995, the year after I graduated High School. I suppose in it’s own way it made sense. Four screens couldn’t compete with eight screens at midway Mall, or ten in Sheffield , or twenty……

Still, I miss it. Some of these thoughts are coming to me because I’m heading to Cinema Wasteland this weekend. Baron Morbid also got me thinking about it in his facebook post about one of the theatres he grew up with .

But then, there’s also this :

the_croods_poster_dreamworks0_smlWe took the girls to see The Croods tonight at Amherst Cinema. For the longest time we just weren’t going to movies. It was too expensive, especially with young children who might not make it through the entire film! Over the last few years though, we’ve been hitting the Lorain Palace occasionally (less now that they do more 3-d films) and Amherst Cinema. They do first run movies and tickets are $3. I can get my family in, get popcorn and a drink and still spend less than $20.

Amherst is a bit more of a dive, but it has it’s own character. Tonight I realized that just like Avon Lake had been mine,  this is my girls’ theater. This is the magical place my girls will remember going to movies at long after it’s gone and they’re grown up.

You know what? I’m thankful that such a place can still exist.

 

Amherst Cinema, Amherst, OH. img0916go8


Last Week’s Pulls

comics

green_hornet1Okay, I tried to do one of these earlier in the week, this time we’ll see if I can get through it without getting distracted!

First up is the new Green Hornet book. This is a good re-introduction. It’s a self-contained story with a good resolution, though we get one page at the end that suggests this will be part of a lager arc to come. It’s not only a good jumping on point if you’re already intrigued, it’s also a good sampling issue for folks who aren’t familiar with the Green Hornet but might have been recommended. It’s got everything that makes the character great. We’re back in the 30’s, and that’s cool. While I do think that the Hornet lends itself better to modern updates than other characters indexlike The Shadow. Back in the NOW day, they really ran with it and I loved what they did. Dynamites wasn’t bad, they incorporated some very good ideas like adding the Motorcycle and the mechanic, but I never completely warmed up to the costume and things just never quite fell into place. I’m not bothered by it going away. The whole Green Hornet : year one series had been far better done anyhow. the art was beautiful, moody and dark, much like the Bendis era of Daredevil, and it suited what they were doing with the character.

Speaking of Year one series, I did try out The Shadow : year one. It was pretty much what I expected…..it’s an origin story and that just rubs me the wrong way. I think one of the strengths of The Shadow is that he doesn’t have 2013-02-17-shadow_year_onean Origin. Of course it’s possible that this is just one of his misdirections. After all, we have three other distinct origins – the One from Chaykn’s 80’s series, the Shamballa origin. This however contradicts the origin from the ’95 film, and neither really meshes with the one presented at the end of the 90’s series “The Shadow Strikes”. However, in that story, the Shadow does acknowledge, “One day I might tell you the story of Shamballah” suggesting that all of his potential origins are fake stories.  That’s cool. I can deal with that, but if that’s t he case, i’m not going to waste my time on stories that don’t really develop the character because they’re misdirections.

shadowI’m not complaining about this mind you – having a Shadow Year One series just shows that Dynamite is willing to exploit the license to it’s fullest. That was my biggest problem with Dark Horse when they had the character, they never put out any material. A couple of mini-series. A one shot. A team up. That’s about it. At least when DC had the Shadow, they were putting out a title every month. Dynamite has my enthusiasm because they are running two Shadow series simultaneously,  not to mention specials, annuals and the team-up book Masks, which continues to be the most exciting crossover of my lifetime (getting a little crowded though. I’d rather see more Shadow and Green Hornet, and les Ms. Fury and Black Terror). This is nothing but good news, and the further we get away from the Ennis series, the better The Shadow has been. He’s fighting a lot more masked villains lately though and that feels a little unusual. It’s taking some getting imagesused to, but it’s not a bad thing inherently. NOW managed to make that look good when they were doing the Green Hornet in the 80’s and 90’s, but then again, at that time period EVERYONE was wearing masks and spandex and armor….not so much in 2013. Still, it’s a fun book and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Not a lot has changed in t he last few months. The DCU is still practacly unreadable to me,  I just don’t recognize these characters anymore. Grifter is losing his title, which was one of the only new 52 ones I was keeping up with. We caught my impressions of the bat titles earlier this weeks so let’s move on to Doctor Who.

doctorwho7cI started back up on these based on the high recommendation from my friend Don Smith. The art has improved since the Tennant series, I recognize all of the characters this time. My impression of the stories themselves however have just been……meh. It’s not bad. It really isn’t. It’s just not great….it’s not even as good as the TV series (and that’s a fair criticism. There are tons of Star Trek comics that I could point to that are superior to a bunch of the shows or films). Average isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also not usually enough to keep me following it. This issue features the return of the Vash’narada (from silence in the library) but it really feels like I’ve seen all of this before.

On the other hand, IDW is also publishing the 40th anniversary series “Prisoners in idw-prisoners-of-time-3Time”. This is featuring all of the previous Doctors in order. I skimmed the issues with one and two. I’ve just never liked those incarnations. I can sometimes enjoy Hartnell in the Target novilizations, and Trouton was fine in the two Doctors, but really they both just irritate me, and I’ve never understood why Trouton is the favorite Doctor for so many of the actors that came later.

This issue hwever…..this is the one featuring Jon Pertwee. The third Doctor. MY Doctor. He has always been my favorite, always been the one I think of as the REAL Doctor, and I’ve never seen him portrayed better in the comics.

There really aren’t that many comics featuring him in the first place and most of the ones that do exist are standard newspaper comic strip kind of art. He’s never gotten the dynamic Image Comics kind of treatment that the modern Doctors peroidiclly enjoy. I loved the art in this. It’s stylalized, kinetic and modern. Even better, it features Sarah Jane Smith as his companion (My favorite of the Thrid Doctor’s companions. Funny, I still think of her more as Pertwee’s companion than Baker’s) and they’ve got Liz Shaw back as well . Nowere to be found is that dolt Jo Grant, but the Brigidier is here as well and the story is very much an action one. I really love this piece.

Doctor Who

There were more pulls last week, things like Red Team, which is a good series, especially if you’re a fan of procedurals like Law and Order or Criminal Minds- it deals with a group of cops turning vigilante, but I suspect there’s a bigger picture going on here. All Star- Western is another great idea series, and it seems to get better. Some people have criticized it for taking place in western era Gotham, but I’ve actually been enjoying some of that and throwing Vandal Savage in there fighting against Jonah Hex was a good idea. Still it’s another average book , and hard to generate a lot of enthusiasm about. Finally there’s Justice League Dark and Constantine. I think the whole issue with John Constantine deserves some further examination – I may revisit that once we’re a few issues into the new series. JLD on the other hand – this is a really interesting series….and too interesting to survive. I expect cancellation any day. We’ll see. For now, I’m heading off to do some Violent Blue. See you tomorrow.

comcis


Thank you Carl Riener!

Autographs

One of my favorite classic sitcoms is the Dick Van Dyke show. I’ve gone out of my way to grab autographs from Dick, Rose Marie and Mary Tyler Moore. I was unaware of Riener’s involvement until recently though. I probably knew, but just never made the connection I suppose.

I’ve enjoyed him of course in the Oceans series, and knew he was the father of Rob Reiner,  but I also recently noticed his name on another of my favorite movies. Another connection I had never made before.

He directed Summer School.

He’s go a quick cameo in the beginning of it as well, but he DIRECTED this movie! It really seems unlike him for some reason. I love the heart in this film, the humor is off the wall, and the two monster kids might as well be me at that age. In fact they inspired a lot of my behavior from that period.

Anyhow, Mr. Riener was nice enough to singe two things for me through the mail, including the Summer School poster that Mark Harmon already scribbled on! My biggest thanks to Mr. Riener for making that poster even more cool!

riener 2

riener 1


Requiem

comics

RequieumThis started off as a last week’s pulls article, but I quickly found myself off-track. You see, I’ve been reading a lot of the Batman titles lately. The Requiem storyline caught me a little off guard, but let’s face it – I’m not reading this because it’s great storytelling, I’m reading it to make sure the little creep is really dead.

The truth is, I’ve wanted Damien gone for a good long time, but really I didn’t want him dead so much as I wanted him to never have existed. Damien gives me problems.  It’s not just the age thing, though four (or five) Robins in, it makes it a little difficult to believe Bruce Wayne is in his late 20’s or early 30’s. It also makes it seem like he has a Robin for a cruelly short period, six months to a year and then discards them. All of these are problems Damien creates or exacerbates. There is however, a much bigger issue here.

I see what they are going for here. Bruce lost a Robin and he’s sad and things will never be the same….and that worked really well.

In 1988.

lWhen Jason Todd died it was shocking, and the repercussions of that event reverberated over the decades. That case with Jason’s uniform in it? We first saw that in “The Dark Knight Returns” years before this happened. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy and that Frank Miller had the foresight to see this might happen sooner or later was chilling. Batman really never WAS the same. the idea that Robin could die was unthinkable and it changed the way he operated. When Tim Drake became Robin he noted “Everything Bruce has done is to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to me that happened to Jason”.

You could really argue that Jason’s death wasn’t Batman’s fault. You could equally argue that it was indeed his responsibility. Either way, you could forgive him.

In 2012/13 this doesn’t work the same way – not with Damien. We’ve seen it before…in fact, we’ve seen it to many times. Damien is the THIRD Robin to die. You can’t debate this any more – putting a kid in that suit after two or three other deaths, that’s tantamount to child abuse. It’s reckless endangerment. DC has played the dead Robin card too many times to the point that if you give any thought to it, Batman is reflected badly.

untitledI’d argue something similar when Stephanie Brown put on the Robin costume. It was even more insulting then because she was just tossed in to that story line to be thrown away. It cheapened the mantle. The fact that Jason Todd is back (Steph too for that matter,  though I haven’t actually seen her around much in the new 52 so she’s easier to ignore) essentially invalidated twenty years of pathos generated by his death.

Killing off Damien doesn’t fix this. It just muddies the water further.

With Jason, I and a lot of other folks transferred a lot of our affections from Dick to him. He was a little annoying, but it was actually a cool idea that someone else could step into the role of Robin. The problem of course, was he felt a little TOO contrived, too much like Dick and when they went back to retcon him, they actually made things worse.  Jason’s greatest contribution to the Batman storyline was his death. He became an honest-to-God martyr.

Damien never had my affection from the word go. It’s like Morrison went out of his way to make him unlikable. I never got the chemistry he was supposed to have with Dick (perhaps I would have bought into it more if we didn’t all know Bruce would be Batman again in a year or so….done as an Elseworlds story this might have worked better). It felt forced, like they were trying to hard to recreate the relationship Dick had with Tim.

Moreover, I missed Tim. I really do wish they hadn’t aged him. He was far more interesting at 14 than he was at 19 (in fact, in Teen Titans, he does look a little younger again, but not quite young enough – Robin always worked better for me at Jr. high age). I knew from his introduction Damien was going to become Robin and I was fairly certain he was going to be killed off as well. None of this ever worked for me. It just didn’t.

They could have fixed this. If Damien had ceased to exist in the new 52, I would have been the happiest boy in the world. I could have dealt with Dick back in the Robin suit even (though I would expect him to be back to Nightwing soon). The way they choose to handle this feels very wrong to me….and I’m not sure where Batman goes from here.

I think I’ll go work on some Violent Blue and think about how I would fix this.

Robin-costumes-from-Batman-dc-comics-17152392-596-400