Angel Lite commission
An Angel Lite commission From “the Ballad” Two of the Duncan brothers.
Doc Duncan one of the oldest him and Johnny like to go back forth on whose better with the steel. Johnny might me be more slick than him. But Doc’s faster and more sly and his a southern gentlemen
Archie Duncan a Space Pirate and the youngest members of the Duncan gang.
And don’t forget, new Violent Blue tomorrow!
In Defense of Star Trek Five
There’s no doubt that this is one of the weakest films in the franchise. In fact, there’s really not a lot of defense for it, but then again, the movie isn’t exactly the one who needs defending. What this really is, it’s a defense of William Shatner.
I’m not a fan actually, but I think he gets unfairly savaged when it comes to Star Trek five. It ended any feature directorial career he might have had and at the end of the day, there’s so much of what went wrong in this film that just wasn’t his fault.
Let’s start with the one real thing that WAS his fault, because it affects a lot of the rest of the film, but didn’t necessarily have to. Shatner’s greatest sin was begin an inexperienced director. Sure he’d done some TV work, but that’s just not the same thing. Having directed a couple of features myself as well as episodes of my own series, I can tell you that logistically those two tasks are very different. the vision has to be different. There’s a ton more “moving pieces” you have to coordinate. But most of all…you have a very different relationship with the studio. And that’s where everything began to go wrong.
Shatner invoked the favored nation clause in his contract (basically an agreement that anything they give Nimoy, they have to give Shatner as well.) generally used in salary negotiations, but more than one source has mentioned that this was Shatner’s way of leveraging his directorial debut on to Paramount. The studio wasn’t thrilled about this, but did still have dollar signs in their eyes after Star Trek 4, possibly the most successful of all the Trek films (ironically, my least favorite). They backed Shatner into a corner and got a fourteen to sixteen month scheduled. They’d tried to do this with Nimoy, who had flatly refused, stating he needed at least two years to do things properly, and more likely three (I actually remember him mentioning this in an interview after Star Trek 3). Shatner’s inexperience allowed him to be bullied into an impossibly tight schedule. Still, that wasn’t necessarily the end of the world as long as you have a good crew working with you – particularly in per-production.
Well, that presents a little problem we like to call “The Writer’s Strike”. Hitting ST5 at the worst possible time, we ended up with a less than polished script. In fact, we have a flawed premise from the word go. It’s one thing for the Enterprise to search for and encounter a small-gee god. It’s another for them to try and find God, Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah. The problem is, anyone with the clout to be able to explain this to Shatner and company was out in front of the Paramount building holding a picket sign.
You don’t just need good people in pre-production though, you also need good people in production. Star Trek in particular NEEDS good special effects. This was 1989 – the year we learned the true meaning of the word “Blockbuster”. Sure we’d had them before, but this is one of the first summers where we had constant back to back blockbusters packing out the box office. Indiana Jones and The Final Crusade, Batman, Ghostbusters 2 and that’s just for starters. What this translated into was a shortage of effects houses, and you could just forget booking Lucasfilm for another year at least (There’s that rushed production schedule again!).
ST5 went with a smaller house that was known for it’s smoky, wispy effects. It’s a decision that kind of makes sense as they were thinking about what to do with the Great Barrier section of the film. The problem was that this effects house had NEVER worked with models like this before. They had to learn the process from the ground up and the end results were….less than spectacular. The green screen is obvious, the tone and lighting is frequently wrong and the ship movements are jerky, unnatural. It brings the whole film down, and strips away a great deal of the suspension of disbelief.
Then there’s the villain chase at the end where Kirk is pursued by a giant floating head.
Well, that wasn’t actually the intention.You can find this in both the novel and comic adaptation. The original idea was to have the rocks burst from the ground and assemble themselves int man-like forms that breathed fire and chase Captain Kirk through the desert and up the cliff. Almost sounds similar to what we saw in Galaxy Quest. Of course today, this would be all done in CGI, just like it was in Galaxy Quest, but in 1989, it would either have to be suits or puppets. IMDB reports the budget for ST5 at 27,800,000, higher than four. So I don’t understand what happened when they bargained Shatner down. He wanted an army. The studio said too much. We don’t have the budget. Shatner was willing to play ball. Five. He said. They agreed. Month’s later, word came down that five was being reduced to three. On the day of shooting, only one rockman costume appeared on set….and it looked awful. It looked like a rubber suit, not even up to the standard of the monsters that we saw on the TV show in 1966. The floating head was a post production fix…and one Shatner should actually get some credit for. It was a good bit of quick thinking that ended up being surprisingly effective.
Post production was rushed due to the firm start date in summer 1989 and there was no time for test screenings or tweakings. The film was going out as it was, for better or worse. So much of the story of Star Trek 5 is a tragedy of studio interference. A more seasoned director might have been able to turn out a superior film under these conditions. A more experienced director might have been able to stand up to the execs and fight for what was best for the film, perhaps snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Shatner just didn’t have that kind of juice and even worse, he didn’t have the kind of support a first time director really needs to thrive.
A lot of times I’ll use this space to recommend you go revisit a movie and try to see it through different eyes. This time around I have a different suggestion. Head to the library or the used bookstore or even Amazon and get yourself a copy of the novelization. Back in the days before DVD, there was no such thing as “Special features”. You know how we got to see deleted scenes? We read the novel. You want to see how truly scary Kahn is ? How brutal and violent? Check out the novelization for Star Trek 2 – you’ll see Kahn murdering the space station crew in scenes that were only hinted at in the film. The same is true of this film. The novelization helps show how good a film this really could have been if it had a bit more time, a bit more polish and better visuals. Shatner’s flair and touches are still there, but a lot of the gaps are filled. It’s not a short book. It’s as long as any of the Star Trek novels, actually longer than most. Pick up the book and see if that changes your opinion about Star Trek 5.
Monster Bash 2014
Headed back out to Mars for Bash, this year with 7-year-old Maddie in tow. I figured Bash would be a good first horror con for her, but had no idea how she would like it.
Maddie was enthralled from the moment we reached the doors and saw the Dragula. She really wanted to get in it, but being roped off, I was a little wary to let her. We also passed a green Creature of the Black Lagoon car. The creature car was so cute, with details on the sides, a plushie creature in the front seat and back window, and a liscence plate reading “creech”.
We got inside in time for morning cartoons. Maddie has never seen Woody Woodpecker or Chilly Willy, but recognized Bugs Bunny at least. a lot of fun watching and she laughed through it all. She also discovered the Three Stooges here. I don’t know that she’d seek them out, but she had fun watching them, describing them as weird but funny.
We got in and started to meet some of the guests. Judith O’Dea is someone I wanted to meet for a good while now. She’s the last surviving cast member from Night of the Living Dead that I haven’t gotten to see and she was a delight. Very friendly and outgoing. Maddie marched right up to her and I introduced her. She smiled and greeted Maddie and asked “You haven’t SEEN this movie have you?” Maddie smiled and admitted she’d only seen part of it (you may remember that we only made it through about half of it at the OSS zombie walk). They talked about how it’s scarier in Black and white, and I handed over my poster to be signed. I love it when people look over my posters to see who have signed it before them. She seemed to have a lot of fun looking at all the names spread across it, remembering the people – especially ones like Bill Hinzman who is no longer with us.
I also took Maddie over to see John Russo. This was always part of the plan for the day. Even though I wasn’t planning on buying something over at his table this time around (I have several times in the past) Maddie wanted to meet the person who created zombies and I thought he was a good choice, having written the screenplay for Night of the Living Dead with George Romero. He was extremely friendly with her and seemed genuinely pleased to hear her questions. Maddie asked how he came up with the idea for zombies.
He replied “Well when George and I were working on the story we wanted to start it in a cemetery – because cemeteries are creepy. We knew someone was chasing Barbra, but didn’t know who. I suggested it could be a dead person – and it went on from there.”
Maddie asked if Making a zombie movie was hard. His answer was “It beats working in the coal mines.” then he elaborated on it.
Finally Maddie asked how he learned to make a movie. He told her about going to the movies all the time a as kid and reading a lot. These things gave him ideas from making his own films. Maddie mentioned that she liked going to the movies too. He told her she could grow up to make them herself if she worked at it. Maddie said” It might even be easier now, with tape and video and things…” Russo loved that and told her (and later me) that she was very smart. Before we moved on he pulled out a trading card with his picture on it from Night of the Living Dead, and agave her an autograph.
You know, it seems like all day people were giving Maddie stuff. A led bouncy ball from the WOW table, suckers from one booth, a temporary tattoo from another. during our last pass through the dealers room, Maddie stopped to admire some coffins one of the artists had created. He asked which was her favorite and she pointed out the Dracula one. He told her that she could keep it.
We finally made it back to the film room for Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. The Abbott and Costello impersonators were back this year and introduced the movie, much to our delight. The lobby had been set up with elements from the films which was a great way of setting the mood. It was Maddie’s first time seeing any of these monsters on screen (outside of cartoon fare like Hotel Transylvania). I think that in our modern day, we forget how truly scary the Universal monsters can be. The transformation of the wolfman terrified Maddie and she cuddled close to me when the monsters were menacing people on screen. The comedy helped and afterwards she declared that she loved it! however she allowed that the monsters were a little scary. Not as scary as she finds zombies though.
Back to the dealers room for an autograph and to find something for Lydia. I did get around to meeting Joel Hodgson, but have to admit, he seemed like he was bored with the whole event. He was friendly, but didn’t seem to really want to be there. His manager was a little weasel, and his prices were a little outrageous. All in all, not a great experience. Tom Savini was also he normal reticent self. I have to assume it’s just an awkwardness with people he doesn’t know. I can relate to that, but on the other hand, I watched on fan talk to (at) him for ten minuets, and while he nodded and acknowledged her, he never looked up from his iPad. On the other hand, he is fun and charming in every panel I’ve ever seen him in, not to mention amazing during the fencing match he participated in with the show runners daughter.
This was really fun to watch by the way. They had a strip set up to monitor hits while the ref kept score. Apparently this isn’t their first bout either. In a pervious match, Paisley won. Tom attributes this to the fact that she’s 17 and he’s….*ahem* a senior citizen (His words, not mine!). Apparently a few years ago, one of her friends was over at Toms table looking at the photos, trying to decide which to get, and she found a fencing one. Tom was originally up for the role in The Mask of Zorro when Robert Rodregiouz was still attached to direct. When he left the film, the role went to Antonio Banderas and Tom was really disappointed about this, but came away with a knowledge of swordplay.
I spent the match cheering for Paisley, while Maddie cheered Tom on. The goal was best two out of three rounds, five touches each. Double touches allowed. It came down to the last round. Each had one win, each had four touches. Paisley lunged, Tom came in under her arm and DOUBLE TOUCH. Tie match. The ref laughed and shook his head. “There are no ties in fencing!” One more engarde and Tom took the win.
After lunch we headed back for the storytelling part of the show. This is something new that they did t his year, exploring the roots of oral tradition and urban legends, then telling some stories along the way. It was half panel and half entertainment, but very well done. Maddie loves being told stories (she made me tell her the story of Dracula on the way home) and this was a great addition, and a good example of how kid friendly this convention is.
We elected to leave shorly after the Monster kid home movies that they do, as it was getting late, the dealers room was closing and we; have to wait out another film that Maddie didn’t want to see before getting to the Abbott and Costello tribute show and cake. Still, despite leaving a bit early we had a great time and Maddie was estatic. She ended up buying an old Wonder Woman cup to bring home for Lydia.
Lydia’s Eyes lit up when maddie presented it to her and Lydia almost tackled Maddie hugging her. I like these too, they were Burger King premiums originally. I had a Superman one when I was a kid.
She also bought a set of trading cards for herself. She found some old “Fright Flicks” cards – another item I remember having as a kid. They feature pictures of monsters on them with funny sayings on the bottom and spooky stories on the back. The vendor handed them over to her with the warning “Don’t eat the gum. It’s older than I am!”
I do believe we will be back next year. Maddie really loved it and talked non-stop about it to both her mother and sister about it. In fact, next year…it may be Lydia’s turn to come too.
The Creature car was adorable, but Maddie really liked the Dragula best!
Frankenstein is EVERYWHERE!
We really loved the fencing match. Zorro came out at the end!
Monster Bash really does have one of the best dealer’s rooms around.
I was so excited to find this. It’s a vintage eraser. There was a whole line of these back when Masters of the Universe first came out. I only ever had a Merman one, which I always substituted for the figure when I was a kid. I found this for a dollar in one of the booths.
I remember this figure being very expensive a while back. I got a great deal on it
One last note, we’ll be featuring Monster Bash all week this week on Violent Blue! Head on over and check it out!
Monster Bash This Weekend!
I’ve got my posters pulled and my cameras charged and I’m all ready for Bash this weekend. Maddie will be coming with me and this will be her first horror convention ever! We’re packing a lunch and making sure our DS’s are charged and loaded. Maddie wants to meet the people who made zombies (which means I’m introducing her to John Russo and Tom Savini) and it’ll be her first time seeing the Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstien!
If you see us around the hotel, grab me and say hello!
The Adventures of Mr. Kidzpointe part six
Part six of The Adventures of Mr. Kidzpointe! And don’t forget, new Violent Blue tomorrow!
Race With the Devil
You ever watch a horror movie and find yourself screaming at the screen because the people are so stupid?
Yeah, that’s this movie.
From IMDB :
Race the Devil 1975 Two couples vacationing together in an R.V. from Texas to Colorado are terrorized after they witness a murder during a Satanic ritual.
Now I get that you can’t help but stumble upon a satanic cult preforming a rite from time to time…but it sure does seem like they flaunt it. They keep mentioning it to the wrong people and as we see, this cult reaches far and wide. You get a real sense that they’ve traveled hundreds of miles and are still running into cult members who are all on the lookout for them, not to mention the ones who are pursuing them.
The movie is tense and keeps up the dread. There’s a constant sinking feeling when town after town, cop after cop, they’re all involved with the cult. it’s well acted – this is Peter Fonda after all. It’s also got Loretta Swit in a pre- M.A.S.H. role. It’s really a good film, but suffers from writing these people as dopes – you’ve been chased across the southwest U.S. by crazy cultists and yet you’re still concerned about how dry the martinis you’re going to drink tonight are…. (maybe you ought to stay sober just in case a group of Satanists suddenly surround your camper with torches burning? But hey, that’s just my opinion)
The film ends abruptly, but I think we can guess what happened after the credits role. Definitely a good movie and available on DVD, but might be hard to find outside Amazon.
Days of Future Past
Finally got around to seeing Days of Future Past.
Here’s the thing, I’m not into the X-Men movies. I liked the X-Men in the early 90’s when it was over the top superhero action. I’ve never been a fan of Wolverine. At that point, there really isn’t a whole lot in these films for me. Worse yet, they just get more and more depressing every time. One was okay, but frustrating because of how much it deviated from any know continuity. Two was actually okay. Fun. The bit about Wolverine killing soldiers bothered me a little but otherwise okay. X3 was just depressing and grim. I gave up after that. I saw Wolverine Origins, but not in the theatre, and I thought it was okay…but mediocre. I didn’t even bother with the Wolverine or First class.
First class bothers me actually because I really don’t like this version of Xavier and I don’t want a version of Professor X that is unlikable.
Really, the X films are all about Professor X and Wolverine. More importantly, they are all about Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman. The return of Steward and Ian Mackellan on screen with Jackman is a welcome return to form.
It’s interesting, even though I haven’t seen First Class, I can feel it being integrated here, like two different franchises coming together. A real Avengers vibe. The story deviates miles from the comics, but by now we’ve pretty much accepted that the movies are their own continuity and like I said, these films are about Wolverine and Professor X.
We’re pretty much into full costume mode these days (as opposed to the original film when the fashion was still to try as hard as possible to deny you were in a superhero film), so I don’t understand why they don’t just use comic accurate suits, but the look is very cool. Some of the dopey elements like the fans in the sentinels ake sense when you see them on screen.
There’s not much to complain about here. I still don’t like MacAvoy’s Xavier, but I think I actually may enjoy Michael Fastbender’s Magneto more than Ian Mackellans. It’s enough to get me to pull The Wolverine out to watch it and maybe even anticipate the next film a bit! No small feat. It’s still in theatres, so catch it on the big screen while you still can.
This request took over a year to get back to us. I had pretty much given this one up as not replying. It was a little disappointing too because up until then my girls had had a 100% success ration on getting autograph requests back (I currently bat around the high 70’s).
Totally worth the wait. She not only signed the two cards I sent for the girls and the 8×10 I sent for me…but she also included two more 4×5 pictures for the girls along with door hangers and another 4×5 heaedshot for me! Seriously, one of the coolest successes EVER!
The DC Wiki describes this as a four-issue limited series published under DC’s Vertigo imprint from July to October of 1993. The series focuses on small-time convict John Oakes, who becomes the protégé to Abel Tarrant, the original Tattooed Man.
It’s a shame they didn’t try to take this farther, because Oake’s story is far more interesting. Thrown in jail, he meats Tarrant – now an old and decrepit man. This makes sense seeing as at the time, Green Lantern had been aged as well. Oakes is not only Tarrent’s protégée, but his greatest work as well, tattooing tribal images all over Oakes body.
It’s a different kind of power Oakes finds he has, channeling lines of energy through the tattoos instead of creating constructs the way the Tattooed man did – but when Oakes is released….the tattoo isn’t done yet – something that displeases Tarrant.
This is an EXCELLET book. Don’t expect to find this in the dollar bins, and as far as I know it’s never been collected. You’ll have to pay full price for back issues, but it’s a story you HAVE to read if you’re a fan of Silver Age GL. The depth and fresh take on the Tattooed man is the best presentation of him I’ve seen anywhere since the end of the silver age.
Horses and the costume contest
So the girls participated in a horse show this weekend – specifically they were in the costume contest.
Wednesday they came home and told me they had been invited to participate in the northern Ohio Miniture Horse club’s spring show. It’s an open show, and the farm they’ve been goign to work with the horses at is involved.
“Does Poison Ivy ever ride a horse?” my wife asked me.
“What about Wonder Woman?”
“Sure. There’s even a Heroclix like that.”
Then she told me it was on Sunday.
“Um, I need to measure the horses if you want me to make costumes…”
“You can come out to the farm on Friday!”
For a one day build, I’m actually pleased with how they came out. Maddie’s horse Polly bears a passing resemblance to She-Ra’s horse Swift Wind, though she didn’t like wearing the horn.
DiDi on the other hand, I was just tryign to create a costume that fit with Lydia’s costume and looked a little DC comics Amazon. I’m really pleased with the headpiece and I think it really works with Lyd’s.
Creating horse costumes is one of the stranger cosplays I’ve ever been involved in, but it was great fun to see the girls with their horses and their costumes.
How to train your dragon 2
Remember this picture? Well the girls got out to a sneak preview of the film today, thanks to Jonna Belshaw who hooked us up with the passes.
Funny, it reminds me of Aliens – a sequel that take the form of an action film, more dragons – including the Alpha (or queen), greater peril and greater stakes.
As Hiccup tries to avoid his destiny as the future chief of the village he stumbles upon a group of dragon trappers building an army for our main villian. Along the way, Hiccup finds his long lost mother who has basically become the Jane Goodall of dragonkind.
My girls really connected with the mother. They told me repeatedly that she was their favorite character, and her four winged mount was Lydia’s favorite dragon in the film. Indeed, thier favorite scene was when they entered her Dragon habit. Not only did they tell me this was thier favorite sceen, but I also watched them as it played. Their eyes were wide open, jaws agape as dozens, possibly hundreds of dragons swirled in an ice covered sky.
The main battle is intense, and a little scary for kids. Eight year old Maddie climbed up on my lap during it, a little nervous. Don’t let this keep you away though, this really is basiclly an action film for kids, and done well enough to appeal to both girls as well as boys.
One last note, skip the 3d. The film dosen’t hinge on it, and other than possibly the beginning scene – a dragon race – it dosen’t really use it.
A fun movie for this summer, catch it with you kids!
We did a superhero themed program last winter, and to end it we did a big blow out, two nights…like a VBS. One of the craft projects was to create shields….so here’s not only Maddie and Lydia…but all ofthier Church friends too!
The Iron Man project part six
More hand work today.
Once all the joints are created they must be painted BEFORE they are attached and glued on. We also wanted to create the palm with a circular port for the repulsors.
Finally we add a few red strips to the top (as opposed to the blast shield we see in the movies – it leans more towards the comics, but in the end is more practical)
Next month we’ll work on something really exciting! Metal underwear! but for now, remember, there’s new Violent Blue tomorrow!
In Defense of Hudson Hawk
I’m going to give you two words as too why you should like Hudson Hawk. Two words, and they aren’t even “Bruce Willis”! No, those two words are “Oceans Eleven”.
Seriously. In so many ways, this is cut from the same blueprint…and it’s possibly even more expansive. This is a funny heist movie featureing a couple of buddies, starring one of the biggest stars in the world at the time.
Of course, it was never marketed that way. No, because Bruce Willis was an action hero, this was always marketed as an action movie. Can you imagine if Oceans Eleven was markted as an action flick? What kind of criminal mismanagement would that be?
Seriously, though, go into it with that mindset. It’s a different kind of humor than ocean’s eleven- where that is more buddy related fast talking kind of humor, Hudson Haw is more like Cohen Brothers weird off the wall humor. Still, WIllis pulls it off admirably and Danny Aiello is perfect in the film. There are strange characters permeating this film, slick the candy-bar spies, and the psycho gangster millionaire…and Sandra Burnhart……
The heist has a treasure hunt feel to it, every bit as good as National Treasure, and with just about as high of stakes. The romance falls a little flat, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of chemistry between Willis and Andi McDowell (but then again I never really liked her and I’m not sure what her appeal is supposed to be in the first place). but really the movie hits just about all of it’s notes perfectly.
It’s readily available on DVD and probably on any number of streaming services.