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Archive for May, 2017

599

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

599


Joysticks

directorsgjoysticks I should like this film way more than I do. It’s a video game film, and as a retro Gamer, I really love old video game films. In a lot of ways it really does capture a lot of the arcade feel, and we see tons of classic games – it gives you a great concert video game vibe.

The thing is, this film is less like the wizard, and more like Porkies. It’s definitely a raunchy teen sex comedy, set against the backdrop of an arcade. The thing is, for me the arcade itself is way more interesting but it really is very little more than background noise – the setting itself and the motivation, but not the story.  The premise is simple, a parent thinks that video games are destroying you and is trying to shut down the local arcade – they even invoke the old “there is trouble in River city, and that starts with T ends that rhymes with P which stands for pool”then they take on “or in this case, it rhymes with V which stands for video games “.

The characters are fine, and the pacing is lighthearted – though it’s a lot more fun, if you realize that you are going into a kind of trashy sexy comedy rather than just a video game narrative. The sets are pretty incredible though, much like what I said about the film Arcade, man do I wish I had a video game arcade like this when I was growing up. I have seen they existed somewhere, but not in the Cleveland area, we had little hole in the wall in the malls and local bowling alleys, but that was about it. This one is beautiful, with exciting lighting, snack bars and a bustling throng of activity. Graydon Clark captures the feel of the youth culture from that period excellently and it’s very rare that he stretches the suspension of disbelief here. It’s the camaraderie amongst our heroes that is infectious and genuinely makes you want to root for them.

Despite being maybe just a touch rowdier then the kind of comedies I prefer, this is still definitely a buy. It’s entertaining and the video gamer in me absolutely cannot resist seeing these things played and loved as they are here on the big screen.


598

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

598


Thank you Linda Larkin

Autographs

We’ve been focusing on princesses for the girls, but I have to say, Disney princess Autographs can be fun…

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597

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

597


Prision Bridge

commissionsSo I was contacted by filmmaker Douglas Waltz at 3/4 Time Productions about doing some special FX for a web series he was producing. The idea was to create a bridge that was also a prison- streched aross the grand canyon. I took a couple diffrent passes at the bridge and finally created a model we both liked, then ran a few animations off of it.

Not sure whatever became of the project, but the trailer was spectacular.


596

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

596


Slipstream

boxftdslipstream894I saved this one for last, because I knew it was going to be difficult. I’ve had a copy of slipstream for a good long while – it’s on VHS and I’m pleased to be able to replace that videotape with this DVD collection. I tried to watch this movie a couple times – I was initially excited about it, I remember reading about it in Starlog. Still, every attempt that I’ve made to sit through it has been unsuccessful. The first two acts are basically Waterworld with sailplanes instead of boats. I think somebody had a session with these aircraft and decided they had to make a film surrounding it. It’s late 80s Mark Hamill – which gives you an idea of the quality this sci-fi film has. Because we start the film with Hamill, I assume he’s the hero of the piece, not so.  He gets more and more unlikable throughout the film and by the end he is playing the character as a little too hard edge, it’s a bad fit for him.

The real hero of the film is Bill Paxton’s character. Sometimes his “Aw shucks” charm routine works. In here it comes up as mostly annoying. It’s all combining the wrong elements and gets dated quick – it’s 1989 and it really looks like it. The film can’t decide if it’s 80s or 90s – indeed, especially when we get into the third act it certainly attempts to turn into Blade Runner.

They say no one ever intentionally makes a bad film, and usually you don’t realize you’re making a bad film what are you doing it. That’s especially true here as we have a future lawman chasing after the hunter trying to grab the renegade prisoner he has in his custody. Along the way we encounter a hidden society living down in the valleys and clefts of the mountains. It’s a little confusing, I thought we had fewer people alive than this… particularly when we get to this last group – and elegant community with a very upper-crust high society look to their clothing and environment. It’s remarkably out of place. Then out of place seems to be the order of the day. I mean, I really don’t know what this film is doing in this collection of “fear the dead” films. I suppose the post apocalyptic theme lands it here… we’ve got a lot of those kind of films in this collection, but this one is especially sci-fi and not at all horror. It’s possibly the highest profile movie in the collection, but it may well be the worst as well. I’m glad I finally managed to force myself to sit through it – albeit on fast forward, but really, I always suspected that I wouldn’t dig this film and I’ve been proven right. It may get another chance for me… I really want to like this but so far I’ve just not been able to.

This one is an avoid, even if you see it in the dollar bin, the only reason that I’m holding onto it is because it is part of an otherwise really fun collection of films.


594

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

594


Without Warning

directorsgmv5bmwjmnzq0mtmtzthjmy00yjflltg2ntktnwrlmjcxotu5ywe1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtqxnzmzndi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_When asked to describe the film “predator “, Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the reporter “have you seen this little film called “without warning”? “. Graydon Clark himself frequently compares Predator to his film Without Warning, so it was only natural that this is what I was expecting. Not necessarily the production value, but an isolated group of people being systematically stalked by an alien hunter? Yeah that’s really what I was looking for here.

Comparing this to predator does the film a disservice because it’s a very different kind of story then what predator was– not a worse story, but a different one. Beyond the whole alien stalking humans, there’s not a whole lot in common here and honestly – aliens have been stalking humans in films since the dawn of cinema. In this case there is a small town setting and something fiendish is going on – something is indeed stalking the citizens but nobody knows quite what it is. It could be some think paranormal, it could be something alien, or it might simply be a deranged lunatic on the loose. No one is really sure. Indeed, it does turn out to be an alien though despite being featured on the poster art and box covers, we only see our beastie for a couple minutes at the very end of the third act – good thing too, because it’s nothing more than a tall guy and a mask. It’s a Rick Baker mask to be fair, but still the look of the alien is very much a traditional grey… Perhaps a little bit inspired by Bealock from Star Trek or one of the many bubbleheaded monsters that paraded through episodes of the outer limits. Clark wisely kept him in the dark, and there are plenty of ridges for the light to play around – not just airbrushed streaks but detail that someone with some experience can light effectively to create menace.

The real alien here, the star of the movie, are the parasitic a little ninja throwing stars that the alien sends after people. In the original script Clark noted that the alien was killing people with a bow and arrow, and he wanted something a little bit more otherworldly. These things are visually striking, stunning and gross – and absolutely scary. There is elements of the facehugger (from Aliens) to them, elements of a mutant starfish, with horrible pulsing green blood and the ability to inflict massive pain and yet still can send you into a zombielike state. It’s a brilliant innovation and the real monster at the film.

I genuinely enjoy without warning, and on rewatch I think I’ll like better now that I know exactly what it is I’m going into. It’s definitely a buy, but you may find that difficult – it’s only very recently found its way onto DVD in one form or another, with the rights being weirdly tied up over the years. Still, absolutely grab this if you find it, you won’t be sorry.


Night train to terror

boxftdnight_train_to_terror_poster_01For some strange reason, I can’t remember anything about this film except the band. I know I’ve seen it in the past, but honestly as I looked at it and was kind of drawing a blank so I thought I’d throw it in for a viewing while I was watching the rest of this collection. I still can’t believe that I just don’t remember any of this! It’s an anthology film with three stories told against the backdrop of a train ride to heaven or hell – we’re not exactly told which. God and the Devil are examining the lives of certain people and bargaining for who is going to go where.

During these framing sequences, we also get treated to an extremely 80s rock band playing the same song over and over again. It’s not aparticularly good or bad tune but it does get stuck in your head.

There’s stories about the devil trying to recruit as well as tales of mad scientists and doctors of using patients… I can’t believe I forgot Richard Moll is in this! He plays two different characters into different segments! I love Richard, I especially love his exploitation and horror work – and I told him that myself by the way. Of all the people from my favorite Sitcom;Night Court, he has by far had the most interesting career. Night Train to Terror is a fun film, it’s very much a product of its time and also very much a direct to video kind of film. The back and forth between God and the Devil – I can’t argue the conceit, but it does come off as cheesy. So does the band. The vignettes are utterly forgettable, indeed, Not only have I forgotten them once… But even as I attempt to write this article the stories are a little fuzzy. It’s a nice quick watch though – and really good fodder for horror hosts (in fact that maybe where I’ve seen this previously), More than anything and I can say for this, is that it is a fun film – and definately a recommend. I’d even go as far as to say this one is a buy. You can usually find it cheap, and considering I can never remember these plots – it’s a great value because I feel like you’re seeing a new movie every time!


595

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

595


593

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

593


592

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

592


The farm

boxftdthe-farm-survive-the-dead-dvd-cover-fsk-18For a low-budget micro production, the farm sure does feel like it’s got some good production values. he film is shot well and the actors are reasonably competent done the problem with the bar, is that it takes itself way too seriously. This wants to be a serious interpersonal drama with musings on mortality and purpose – but it doesn’t earn it.

Moreover it’s a zombie film that forgotten that it’s a zombie film. The monsters are somewhat alluded to – that is, we know there is a thread out there, but we don’t actually see the zombies until we are well past the half way point here.

This is the story of two brothers that have survived a zombie apocalypse on the family farm, when a girl stumbles into their life searching for her sister – a sister that they had just killed moments before she turned up. The story is actually much simpler than that, it’s looking at the wounded younger brother, the protective over older brother, and let’s go get some supplies so that we can actually shoehorn some zombies into this story. I think this film could work better if they attempted to have fun with that. If they injected some core humour… But the film insists on itself, and this makes it come off as way too heavy handed. It wants to be an art film instead of a zombie film, but in doing so it succeeds it being neither.

The greatest care is given to the brothers make up, which is an interesting scarring along with the missing arm – it’s cleverly pulled off, though it’s fairly simple see how it’s been done and the greasepaint doesn’t always match his skin tone. The zombies on the other hand are far simpler – shambling ragged clothes with blood poured over them. I’m a little less impressed by this. In some ways it almost feels like someone wanted to make the walking dead but didn’t want to put in the effort. Really that’s the perfect way to sum up this film – it’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see at a film festival with dozens of other movies, or in a film class where the student is just a little bit too impressed with himself. This one is definitely a pass.


Free Comic Book Day 2017

events2017_FCBD_FB-Cover_V1-1You know, it was getting manageable… That stack of comic books on the end table – the one near my spot on the couch was down to a reasonable size.
Then free comic book Day occurred.
I want to step back for a moment and think about how good we have it here in the Cleveland area – we are almost spoiled by the abundance of comic book shops and fandom events within easy reach. On Free Comic Book Day in particular, we have the midnight party for the Free Comic Book Day release at Carol and John’s Comic Shop. The first people 18402964_649873665198682_2553440782179058411_nin line arrived about 9o’clock Thursday night – and waited all the way up to midnight Friday night to receive a full set of the Free Comic Cook Day releases (and dubious bragging rights….). I’m not nearly that dedicated. I came out after work, arriving about 5:45 to set up my little village in line. Several chairs, some for my neighbors as well as myself, a table, and a carpetbag bag full of games and crafting supplies. I wanted to try something different out this year – a mash-up of every superhero I could possibly think of. I crafted a Thor hammer and half a Cap shirt while waiting in line. I then added a green lantern ring, Iron Man armor, then pulled my Batman mask over my Spider-Man mask, pulled up a pair of thing pants underneath a wonder woman belt and added a superman cape. I refer to this look as “Everyman”.

Seriously though, you would not believe how fast six hours flies by amid all this 18342455_705584919620720_2698076922419637133_nchaos… Wandering up and down the lines, and visiting friends while observing the random hijinks that occur around us. A group of dancers spontaneously began to preform in the street. The Ghostbusters car screamed into the parking lot with lights and siren going. A police car blasting the Darth Vader theme cruised by as Daft Punk danced and puzzled over baby Groot. All up and down the line, people were playing games – you can see Magic tournaments and hero clix battles. I stopped by the Scooby’s corner to join them in a game of Cards Against Humanity is for a bit. My friends and I greeted old friends and new friends – we posed for pictures, and we constantly made fun of poor Steph who has probably never been called a “trash panda 18301219_649871135198935_8055056634602885906_n“nearly so many times in one setting before. (indeed, I think my favorite part of the night was watching rocket raccoon get carded at the restaurant… The server looked at her license, shruged her shoulders and said “I don’t know why I’m even doing this… I’d never have guessed this with you! “)

Coming straight from work, I have to admit that doing the midnight release party always makes for a long day… Every single time, I find my social anxiety which tempt me to just stay home, and every single time I’m glad that I did. This is the event that everyone comes out to. I sometimes see certain friends at comic club, others I see at conventions, -a3af30e395853c0cothers I see when I do charity events, but for Free Comic Book Day, it seems like I see everybody I know!

After collecting books I beat a hasty retreat back home – because I’d be getting up again and returning in 10 hours or less!
The daytime events always seem a little bit more subdued compared to the evening events – though perhaps that’s just because of the early time that I’m arriving (got to snag that special book by Marc Sumerack before they run out!). I made it back in line at Carol and Johns just in time to get interviewed by the 18222475_1532025523508532_1675920869806819027_nPlain Dealer and appear in the newspaper on Sunday. I chose a much more manageable costume, donning The Penguin outfit I had put together for the premiere of the Lego Batman movie.

It’s interesting, I managed to run into a very different group of people during the daytime events as I hopped from shop to shop in an attempt to acquire the 30 or so books that I was interested in (out of the 50 offered this year). Written in chalk all over the sidewalk and walls leading up to Carol and Johns were the phrase I am Groot… Children’s chalk drawings later the sidewalk and I stood in line that was significantly shorter than last year – the weather was definitely keeping some people away, but we wouldn’t let this deter us (though it did keep me down to only hopping between three shops!)

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18403430_1532026856841732_4146307777708853836_nThe guys at Comics are Go managed to save an Animal Jam comic for my daughter Maddie (she, her mother and sister along with several friends were having a mother-daughter tea party at the restaurant about three doors down – I joined them afterwards at the comic shop for free comic book Day). When Maddie brought over one of her friends they dug through the stock in the back and thier own personal pulls in the back to find an issue for her as well. This is why Comics are Go is still my home shop (with Carol and John’s being a close second and my  alternate – after all I work on that side of town). It’s not the five for a dollar bins that they had set out (and man did I hit those things hard – I brought home 30 new issues from there!) or the creators they bring in like Rick Lozano or Dirk Diggler… No, it’s the personal service and the guys that work there that really make all the difference.

18199445_1361142930590212_1502246818448713279_n18274998_1361409613896877_4205894747851591342_nAcross town, Jerry over at Strongsville Hobby made sure that I filled my gold book quota– as well as snagging an extra copy of The Tick for a friend of mine who are just moved and didn’t have any comic shops near her. It’s one of those things that makes me realize just how blessed we are in this area… I know I’ve said that already, but it bears repeating. Jerry has taken in the spirit of Free Comic Book Day a step further, offering a bunch of the one dollar image preview books as freebies right along side of the normal FCBD picks… I grabbed a bunch of back stock that he had on half off and waved goodbye as he donned his Batsuit, collected Supergirl and Deadpool to head off in greet the kids at Free Comic Book Day events at local libraries.

I ended my weekend by gathering up the family and heading over to Amherst Cinema for a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. It seems like this happens every year- my 18342245_1532906586753759_3173245102449219018_nfriends all hit the years movie on Thurs or Fri and I don’t make it out until Sunday evening! Admittedly, some of that has to do with me holding out for a screening at Amherst Cinema (all seats are $4.00!) but sometimes it’s just that I can’t make the schedules work.

Guardians is the rare comic movie that my wife wanted to see. Maddie was a little reluctant and not in the mood to go out, but I think she may just have loved it more than any of us!

“Look! It’s Howard the Duck!” She exclaimed in disbelief, leaping from her seat in the middle of the crowded theater as my wife and younger daughter giggled Their way through the film.

A perfect way to end our FCBD adventures. I hope yours was just as productive. (and by the way, if in northeast ohio, check out my FCBD stops!)

Comics are Go

Carol and John’s Comic Shop

Strongsville Hobby and Comics and More

Amherst Cinema

Plain Dealer’s article on FCBD (You’ll find me featured about halfway down)

 


591

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

591


Simon Pegg

Autographs

After building a Batman mask out of paper and tape, then spending a nice night out with friends at the Palace it was really nice to come home to find mail from Simon Pegg waiting for me! It’s obviously a pre-signed one (he likely does a stack of these and leaves them with his agent to send out to people like me) but that’s okay. Presigned is better than not signed any day!
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590

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

590


Angel Lite Army Men pt 4

commissions

An Angel Lite commission.

I really liked the ideas behind this guy, but I asked my question a tad to late….

“Is he a robot or in armor?”

The answer came back that he was indeed in armor – I tend to think I leaned a little far to the robotic side here, but still, really like it – particularly the curvy techno look to it.

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Motor city nightmares

ConmanOver the years, motor city nightmare it has become a semi regular stop for me on the conve18157768_1523947907649627_3587780193094051757_nntion circuit. It’s kind of like Monster Bash in that I like it but can drop it from the schedule if I get overbought and not feel too bad about it.

Motor city is one of those conventions that really does try and give attendees something for thier admission – something more than just a dealers room and guests with increasingly skyrocketing autograph charges (I think I’m just about priced out of the market now – I may be getting out of the autograph game before too long here), with panels and two movie rooms going on all day.

One of the clever things I noticed, is that the upstairs movie room appears to be playing mostly SkullHouse pictures – if you weren’t aware, those are the people who are behind this convention and it’s a great way of mixing programming and self promotion. I like Skull House by the way, and I always make a point to pick up one or two of thier films 18156903_10203064024838898_7831927557440532475_nevery time I head to this con – sitting in on some of those screenings was a good way to figure out which one I should grab and which ones I should perhaps avoid (Monsters of Carnage : Dinobeast -AVOID.).

Motor city is consistently growing – and they certainly want to be a bigger convention. They do try and bring in a few bigger name guests– this year inviting George Romero, Matthew Lillard and Dee Snider to the show, as well as old fan favorites like Sid haig and Lloyd Kauffman (and God bless Sid for holding to the $10 for a signature on your item and photos always free. God Bless Lloyd for always siging for free and taking photos with 18198514_1523949370982814_52269584971771113_neveryone he talks to!)They also pull the VIP upgrades that I so detest… granting better seats and special after parties to the VIP passholders. It shows greater ambitions – and indeed, motor city maybe realizing them. This year, for the first time it felt like they had outgrown your space at the Sheraton hotel. The Saturday crowd was shoulder to shoulder, and moving around was difficult. I found myself fleeing the dealer room because I couldn’t get around in any practical way. Still, it’s a good problem to have and I wouldn’t mind seeing the move to a bigger space as long as they still retain 18157751_1523945434316541_6487137257588712487_nthe heart – with film festival and panel programming.

I managed to catch the 31 panel – I know that Rob Zombie is a device of filmmaker, but I generally enjoy him and I thought 31 was a great return to form (I reviewed it when I came out). While interesting, the panel I have really come to see you this time around was Dee Snider.

Dee’s talk was energetic and informative and one of the most entertaining panels I’ve 18199489_1523945927649825_7764382708838298731_nseen in a long time. He really connects with his audience no matter what subject he is covering – Twisted Sister, strange land, or Holliston… It doesn’t matter you find yourself riveted by his energy, his wit, and his performance.

Dee’s panel was followed by S Don of the dead panel – standing room only, filling the room to capacity. It’s the same old stories, but they never really get old.

Motor city is overhaul the panel system by the way, moving them to a different room with a much better sounding PA – my complaints in years past of not being able to hear 18157919_1523725787671839_2771891678220403625_nother people speak have been well answered.

With a $30 admission and the constantly rising autograph prices – motor city nightmares is likely to remain an optional con for me rather than a can’t miss like cinema wasteland or concoction. But I’ll definitely say same thing about motor city that I say about days of the dead – I’ve never failed to have fun there. It’s never been a disappointment, it’s never been a drag… In motor city in particular is made all the nicer by the fact that I have friends who regularly visit this convention so I never have to worry about being alone.

I’ll see you later motor city. Not sure when, but I’ll be back.