Man-at-Arms (part two)
When last we left Man-at-Arms, he had boarded the mysterious blue box and gone off in search of allies.
It begins in the northern wastes….
and then into the fiery depths.
Even on Earth (in the most 80’s photo ever)
and in the deepest reaches of space!
Still more to come!
The cover for this one is misleading – and that’s really a shame! The creepy little girl over the blue washed out background is a great image but its got nothing to do with the story (though I’d sure like to see the story that image actually does represents!)
The film is about a nurse arriving in Jamaica to take care of a rich man’s younger brother – as voodoo swirls on around them. It’s a genuinely good thriller, and feels very more than a little reminiscent of the Serpent and the Rainbow done it would make a perfect double feature with that film. It’s still fairly simplistic story, greed and betrayal, with voodoo thrown in as the method of vengeance for betrayal instead of more traditional methods like a gun or knife. It’s surprisingly packed with stars -we got Jennifer grey front and center here, although it’s after the plastic surgery so she’s a little bit harder to recognize. Tim Curry is around a great deal. A lot more than you would expect – I thought it’d be a cameo but no, he’s really one of the supporting players enjoying chewing the scenery in the way that only he knows how.
The other very weird thing about this, is it this is the tales from the crypt film. That took me completely by surprise, and there is no trace of it in the poster art on the box set. I know if you read the description on the back you’ll see the name in kind of FinePrint. I completely missed that. Seriously, I simply didn’t realise there WAS a third Tales from the Ccrypt movie! I’m a big fan of the Demon Knight, and an even bigger fan of Bordello of Blood – which felt like a good companion piece to John carpenters vampires that but this? I never knew this existed! It was a pleasant surprise, although honestly, the film doesn’t need the tales from the crypt pedigree – It stands on it’s own as a good movie. Still, I hope that it’s got a few more eyes on it during international release becasue of the that. It deserves it
This is genuinely one of the better films of the bunch, and I would kind of like to see this going together in a marathon with something like Serpant and the Rainbow and perhaps even Hatchet two – where Tony Todd is playing a voodoo master. This is definitely one I’m going to have to come back and revisit – soon hopefully.
Focus on Children of the Corn
We’re moving on to the Children of the Corn franchise this week – and I’m fully aware of the enormity of the task I’m about to tackle… Who thought it was a good idea to make nine of these things? I mean I understand long franchises when you’re dealing with something like Nightmare on Elm Street – that has a narrative… I get multiple sequels to hellraiser – that’s perfectly suited to be an anthology with the through line… But children of the corn seems like there is not enough story there to really keep going for that long…Like the house series, I’ve got a passing familiarity with this one – I’ve seen the first film, read the short story, and I’m pretty sure I’ve caught one or two of the sequels… Part three was included in one of my horror box sets and that particular entry will probably serve as a franchise focus and boxset project review.
I’m optimistic – it looks like these things are generally pretty short, because running into a single two-hour entry in the prom night series just about killed me (more on that later) !
Children of the Corn has a special place in my heart, because it’s one of the few films that truly terrified my wife… I mean, this film messed her up. To this day she has a phobia of cornfields and gets nervous when we drive through the rural countryside… I think this will be fun.
Cleveland ConCoction 2018
I skipped out of work about 45 minuets early to catch the opening ceremonies. I wondered if it would feel different this year at the new venue, but no, the set-up and delivery was just what I was used to. in fact, instead of feeling out of place in the new hotel, it instead felt like coming home.
For the last couple years I’ve sung the praises of ConCoction and written book length articles on my experiences there. While the show hadn’t quite grown bigger than their excellent accommodations at the Hopkins Sheraton, they HAD outgrown their parking space almost immediately, finally prompting the move east to the Bertrem in Aurora (just outside of Solon). It makes it an hour drive for me this year, but it’s a fine trade off to not have to face the possibility of $12 parking daily.
The show easily managed to fill out the new venue, splitting between two buildings. In the first, we had the artist and author allies, as well as two proramming rooms. A small outdoor walkway connects the buildings, leading to the sprawling game area along with a small conference nook, and larger media friendly room. The dealers room is over here too, a good move that assures everyone visits both sides of the show. Parties still pop up down the hall in the rooms, just follow the sounds of the music. The new venue feels right. It feels like ConCoction has come home.
Programming was as impressive as ever. I’ve heard for years about the Harp Twins from my friend Sean but never really sat down to listen to them. I snuck into the back of their first concert and discovered that I really needed more of this in my life and made a special effort to catch most of their second performance the next day. I also made a special effort to see Pete Mako’s show – he’s changed his schtick from the Boogie Man to the Rock and roll Devil , but the music still felt like the fun acoustic rock I’ve really come to enjoy from him.
Psychology of Cosplay, how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse, Doctor Who, these are just a few of the panels I was able to attend when not strutting around in a Lego suit, getting into sword fights in the dealers room (I STILL WANT THOSE PHOTOS!) or hanging out with friends old and new. ConCoction is still one of the only shows I do more than one day of, and the programming is a big part of that. Equally important is the old-school sci-fi convention feel that they maintain. The show continues to grow every year and here at their new digs, I can see them expanding more than ever…and I plan on being right there to watch it happen!
Man, this thing would have been a holy grail back in the 90’s…. Valiant, chromium cover, autographed…it almost makes me feel sad that I found it at Half Price books for half the cover price….
(It’s okay X-O…. I still love you….)
Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Why St. Patrick as a superhero? Because I’m evil.
I’m not a gamer, which means I’m not as steeped in the lore of Tomb Raider as others may be… this may work in my favor actually, but it also affects my expectations – and this is not the Lara Croft that I was expecting to see. Oh sure, she looks the part, with the clinging tank top and tight olive pants, but there’s something in her performance that feels off. This is most definitely an origin story and it shows. Lara’s got the drive but not the skill, she is intelligent but lacks wisdom, she blunders through the film lacking the grace and experience that I expect from this character. I remember being thoroughly let down by this approach to the Lone Ranger film, however I don’t have nearly the emotional connection to the Lara Croft as I do to the Lone Ranger so here it merely serves to keep me off balance. It also lends to my incredulity when we see her figuring out the traps and puzzles in the titular tomb being raided in the third act. It seems an incongruity with what we’ve seen in the previous hour of film. Indeed, It almost seems like her father, Richard, should be the real main character of this piece.
Alicia Vikander, playing our heroine this time around is quirky and fun – attributes that I usually enjoy, but somehow it feels a little bit wrong overlaid on a character that is generally betrayed with poise and determination and only underscores the difference between this movie and the Angelina Jolie films. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this – after all, what this is meant to be is a fun action romp with a wilderness twist.
The Macguffin used here, that of an ancient tomb that holds the old witch Himiko and her curse, is actually quite compelling and I wish we would’ve seen more of it. We’ve got a couple of scenes in the third act that are derivative of The Last Crusade and Temple of Doom, but overall, the whole archaeological aspect of the film is very understated which was a surprise to me. Lara Croft to me has always been Indiana Jones in hotpants. One of my friends pointed out that in recent years the games have shifted more towards survival games rather than straightforward treasure hunting adventures… It was his opinion that the film was going in that direction as well and I can certainly see it. It doesn’t bear a great resemblance to the video game I remember, though as one friend pointed out they do manage to brilliantly capture the platforming aspect of it during a number of perilous scenes.
And make no mistake, there is indeed a great deal of peril and danger in this movie! I think I spent half of the film watching Lara fall, plummet, and hang off of ledges and such – it was such a repeating motif you could build a drinking game around it.
With all this, it actually manages to feel like it’s breaking a little bit of ground on it’s own… like the film could have easily stood by itself without the Tomb Raider name. The paradox of course is that while the movie is good enough to stand alone without the franchise, it never would’ve gotten the requisite number of eyes in front of it without the Tomb Raider name to be successful. It’s a quandary that usually frustrates me, but this time around they manage to handle the balance very well, and mix it all into a fairly satisfying action movie.
In the end, it might not be a must-see-in-the-theater kind of film – although I’ll be perfectly fine tagging along with friends if they wanted to go see it… I’d be equally fine grabbing it from the red box when it comes out for rent. In fact that’s probably when I’m going to do for the kids – they’re not going to miss anything watching on the in fact that’s probably what I’m going to do for the kids – they’re not gonna miss anything watching it on the TV instead of a movie screen. It’s a solid film, and definitely strong enough to warrant a couple of sequels – after all, the objective of the movie was to reboot the series and they’ve mostly done this in their own unique fashion.
Tomb Raider arrives in theaters March 16th.
The Garfield films get a lot of hate and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s just the normal backlash at the kids films with CG characters….I don’t know. What I do know is that when the first Garfield film came out, I was hooked. I’m a lifelong fan of the character and I loved what Iwas seeing. It was funny and sassy and it really FELT like Garfield (apparently a lot of people disagred). My main complain was that the dog Odie, was real and not CG (not enough budget for him to also be a cartoon apparently)
I was shocked when I heard there would be a sequel.
Hill has taken a lot of the critisisms from the first movie and addressed them. Odie is still not a cartoon, but there’s WAY less of him. Garfield dosen’t dance (except for a goofy bit at the end) and there’s more of him. Twice as much in fact.
It’s a stimple twin swapping story, Garfield takes the place of one of the royal cats of England, trying to save the family manor. Our villian, in a brilliant bit of casting, is Billy Connally who manages not to die in a film for once.
I kind of feel bad for Hill on this one, because while he crafts a funny and entertaining film, this one seemed doomed from the start with the bad press fro mteh first and Bill Murry’s reluctance to come in for the voice – I think the studio expected this to do meger numbers. The movie deserves better. Hill treats the material with respect and is more than just a hired gun on this one. Seriously, if you have good memories of watchign the Garfield holiday specials on TV, you should check this out – especially if you have kids!
Fantasticon s6 ep 17 Toledo
It’s been a few years since I hit Fantasticon. I was there for it’s first appearance in Toledo (at a slightly smaller venue that they outgrew in their first outing) but scheduling conflicts had kept me from getting back to the burgeoning show and I had always wondered what had become of it once it moved to the much larger space in the Seagate Center.
My first impression was that sadly, the parking situation hadn’t gotten any better. if anything, it had worsened a bit as I had feared. Lot parking around the center was a flat $5, with hourly rates in the basement of the Center itself . Still five as long as you’re gone in five hours. I wasn’t, but the extra two beans was worth it to be able to park a mere twenty feet from the elevator and have easy access to my car in the cumbersome Lego Deadpool suit I was waddling around in. I had no handler and knew that having to wander a block either carrying or wearing the costume would have been impossible.
Inside, signs smartly directed me to the registration counter and inside. The layout is very well done and easy to get around. I found myself thankful for the smooth polished floors that made it easy for me to move my lego feet.
While I miss the warm, homey hotel like- feel of that first venue, I have to admit the larger dealers room was nice. I lugged my two Batman volumes over to Mike DeCarlo’s table. While Jim Aparo is the definitive Batman artist for me, but when he inked his own stuff it would always feel a little muddy. Aparo was always at his best when DeCarlo was inking – crisp and solid and defined. He smiled when I told him this.
“Jim always told me that besides himself, I was his favorite inker!” he grinned as he thanked me.
I headed over to the panel stage – a corner cordoned off with curtains and chairs just in time for the trivia contest. The corner had letters pasted to the walls; A,B,C, and D. Everyone stood and listened for the multiple choice question, and would then go stand by the letter that went with thier answer.
“This is a lot more walking than I had bargained for!” I exclaimed, bouncing my way from corner “C” to corner “A”. I ended up in the top four before I missed a question and had to quit. I love the game and they way they set it up.
I ran into my friend Ed and drafted him to be my handler for a hour where he helped me shop. It’s the problem with the lego suits- no hands and if you wait until the end of the show, that stuff you were looking at might just ave vanished….. Ed was a huge help that was above and beyond and I really appreciated it.
I also managed to sneak in to watch most of Daniel Phillips panel as he made up an assistant into a sinister cat-like creature. I’m not familiar enough with this guys work – I need to fix that.
Towards the end of the day I made it back for the costume contest. It’s always interesting chatting with the other people there about what they made and how they did it. I was flanked by a couple guys in armor discussing how they built their outfits and what they’d like to try for a Hulkbuster suit (something I’d like to make myself). I leapt back in fear as a dark Jedi glided towards me applying a Force choke. Lego Deadpool danced behind Pyramid Head as I marveled at Youndu Poppins and the way she’d made the arrow into the umbrella. I got to talk sewing with Cinderella (Her second twirl dress – Her Elsa had won last year and her Cinderella would win this time around as well). We took interviews with the local news station and generally goofed around with the other attendees until it was time to head in. There’s a reason I always describe that wait right before the costume contest as my favorite part of any show.
“Magical girl curtain holding power!” I exclaimed at the anime girl holding the entrance in. She brandished her wand at me. “Just you wait! I’ll turn you into the REAL Deadpool instead of a LEGO one!” She then followed me into the adjacent convention hall, an empty one that had been converted for use as a green room. It was dark and cold, like an empty aircraft hanger. The lower temperature did me some good as Harley Quinn chatted me up. Lego suits get warm.
When my number was called I bounded out and eyed the portable stairs warily. I’d been practicing with those big feet…
I grabbed the handrails and dove in. I made it up two steps and was trying to navigate the third….and the stirs began to topple backwards….with me on it!
I was rescued by the Lone Ranger.
The Emcee, whose costume I’d been admiring an hour earlier dashed up, caught the railing to steady it as he gave me a good push up. I jumped on the stage in triumph to applause and laughter. Down the stairs was easier than up. Crisis averted.
I have to admit, I really dig this show. It’s run with heart. They bring in fun guests and JUST enough programming to make it a real event, and keep it balanced between shopping and programming. I’m hoping my schedule conflicts are behind me and I can start making this a regular stop on the con circuit. Either way, sooner or later, I’ll be back.
PS : I made the news!
Night of the Demons 2009
Occasionally when I hear people speak about night of the Demons 2009, it’s negative. More often though, they simply don’t speak about it at all. I think a lot of people weren’t even aware this came out… It’s almost as if the fan base didn’t get the memo and those who did responded with the sort of derision that has become typical in the current climate of remake fatigue.
For me, night of the Demons 2009 is actually a remake done right. It’snot slavishly devoted to the original, it takes the premise and then runs off its own direction. The villain is still very much the same, and the concept is completely recognizable – resurrected Demons in the local haunted house. Yet it manages to feel modern, with color filters when appropriate – green tones instead of the warm oranges of the 80s. With make ups that are just as horrific but grizzly in a new millennium sort of way.
The sexuality is ramped up here as well, and I’m surprised that it doesn’t bother me the way it did in Friday the 13th – perhaps because it’s not just lazy pornographic moments splashed over the screen but rather erotic moments that make you tingle.
We’ve got Angela hosting a party again – this one’s a little different as it’s a pay for play houseparty, with a little bit more attendance and debauchery involved. We’ve got a scream queen inserted, this time around at Tiffany Shepis doing her best to act as young as the rest of the cast is. Even Linnea Quigley makes a cameo, showing some homage to the original.
The Demons are far more scarier here, perhaps a bit more aggressive in the kinetic filmmaking style of the 2000s.The film feels bloodier and grander in scope. There may be a reason for that.
I checked the budgets. The original in 1988 cost about 1.2 million. Adjusted for 2009 inflation that’s close to 2.2 million dollars. Compare that to the ten million dollars that was poured into this remake and we can see just why this looks so much slicker than the original.
All in all, I like this… Much like Dawn of the Dead, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it’s a remake that captures the spirit of the original but updated for a modern audience and takes full advantage of filmmaking technology that wasn’t available 20 years ago. I’m not certain that I really need a sequel to this remake, but I’m glad that this one exists and honestly I’m equally likely to grab this as I am the original – I feel quite equal appreciation for both.
A Wrinkle in Time
I think A Wrinkle in Time may just be the best video game ever!
Wait. This is a movie isn’t it?
It’s awfully pretty, with tons of gorgeous CGI that probably couldn’t have been duplicated by puppets. It’s a rare thing for me to admit that a film is better enhance by CGI than practical, but if ever there was one… This is it.
Considering the challenging material from the book, the film doesn’t water it down excessively. There’s a little, but by and large it stays smart dealing with high concepts just as deftly as it tackles the mundane.
The modernization of the film is predictable, but doesn’t really detract from it… I’m not sure that it makes it particularly more relevant, but it doesn’t hurt it. Our lead actress in particular is charming, cute and spunky and I hope to see her in more coming up.
The real revelation here though, is Chris Pine as the father. Pine turns in a brilliant performance, and it brings into sharp focus just how big a mistake doing the Star Trek movies was… he’s far better served in roles like this then he is pretending to be William Shatner.
The director really let her imagination fly here, not binding herself specifically to the book and opting for some radically different imagery. For the most part it works, but let me caution you… Do not see this in 3-D or IMAX. I caught this on one of those huge screens and it actually gave me motion sickness.
It’s a dazzling spectacle, and actually might have been better suited as a summer blockbuster. Definitely want to catch it in the theater, and bring the kids… Especially if it’ll get them interested later on in reading the book!
A Wrinkle in Time arrives in theaters on March 9th
Last year, when the carpetbaggers at Wizard World blew into town, I took to the streets to protest. Specifically, the streets that lead to the local comic shops in the area. I hit about eight places last year, and it was my goal to do better this time around. I donned my Star Lord jacket and headed out.
Comics Are Go
5188 Detroit Rd
Sheffield Village, OH 44035
I started the day off meeting up with my friend Jennifer and her daughter Samantha at my home shop, Comics Are Go for my first stop. Eric had set up at Wizard World (“consorting with the enemy” he told me) and then was heading to Columbus for a Harper show. That’s okay, Ed was manning the home front and chatted up Jennifer while Samantha and I dug through the discount trade bins. I grabbed a couple of avengers books entirely because they’ve got Ben Grimm in them while Jen found a Ghostbusters Annual to get. I waved goodbye to them and started to make my way towards the freeway. A couple stops before that though…..
394 Broad St
Elyria, OH 44035
Over to Keith’s to pick up some new Superman as I make my way to the freeway. I declined the bag for my comic books, so he sandwiched them between two old indie books with the covers ripped off to protect them from the weather! I always feel weird in here, I used to work in the same corner building when it was a different business… I’m hoping to be back here around free comic book Day too!
Comics and More
831 Chestnut Commons Dr,
Elyria, OH 44035
The comic book side of strongsville hobby is my last stop before I hit the freeway – it’s on the edge of town and I always think of it more as a hobby shop then a comic shop… So I sometimes accidentally overlook it. I missed going here last year and was happy to correct that oversight this time around! There’s always a weird varity of things here, more trades than comics but more interesting toys and models and you’re finding your average comic shop as well! I’m heading to Parma next!
Carol and Johns 17462 Lorain Ave
Cleveland, OH 44111
United States. A comic tour of Cleveland wouldn’t be complete without a stop out here…. kind of cool to see that the place is packed!
4704 Rocky River Dr
Cleveland, OH 44135
Taking the little side trip year, last year I went out of my way to stop at recess games… This year I thought I’d drop in at war zone again, it’s been awhile – are used to play hero clix here in my tournament days. It’s a small, cramped, dark maze of games and figurines stacked up on top of each other – the sort of hidden treasure trove that you could dig for ever in and always find something new.
B and L comics
5591 Ridge Road,
People love the store – one of the guys in my comic book club has told me it’s his favorite shop – and it shows, considering the place was still full and busy on a comic con weekend. It actually makes me feel good to see how busy the shop then today – this ones an old school shop, cramped and dark – there is an old tube TV playing infomercials underneath the counter… And I can always count on them to have a long box full of beat up Silver age books for $.50 each
5853 Ridge Rd,
Cleveland (Parma), OH 44129
Right down the street is north coast nostalgia, who also usually has a nice selection of quarter bins full of interesting stuff – but this time around I found something really cool! The hologram figure of green Lantern… I remember this look from the rock of ages storyline in the early days of JLA. However, I’ve never seen one of these figures before – I didn’t even know they existed!
Ground Zero Comics
15139 Pearl Rd,
Strongsville, OH 44136
Still much heavier game emphasis at Ground Zero, but I Gotta admit I enjoy being greeted at the door by the gigantic Deadpool statue. Once again, the place was full of guys playing games and digging through boxes. I’m beginning to suspect that all the action this weekend just might NOT be at Wizard World…..
Kidforce collectables 103 Front St
Berea, OH 44017
I genuinely don’t remember if I just forgot about kid force last year or if I had just run out of steam by that point… But I definitely wanted to check them out this time around. I know they’ve been in this location for a couple years now, but it’s not the one I remember – I’ve seen them in a couple of their previous locations in the past and I must admit I really like the new digs. In addition to being a big pop marketplace, and game retailer, there’s also rows of pinball machines here! It’s an interesting new direction to see your game shop go – really digging it!
13446 Cedar Rd,
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
I actually checked out imaginary worlds in Cleveland Heights back when they first opened, but the place is just so far out of the way for me that I haven’t been back much> They also have dollar bins as opposed to fifty cent or quarter bins, which is frequently too rich for my blood. But oh holy crap…these actually may be the best dollar bins in Cleveland. I pulled a Dark Shadows in there, noticing that there’s a surprising amount of beat up gold key in there. There’s a price break at 25 for $20 and I think I may just have to pop back after I get paid again. The owner told me he could fill out my Thing collection and I think I see all the issues of Camelot 3000 that I’m missing in there…
It’s tough to say goodbye to big fun – A more tearful farewell even then York comics last year. This vintage toy, novelty, in pop culture shop has been the linchpin of the Coventry road shopping experience for as long as I can remember. I’ve been coming out here for 20 years, and I’m happy to say that I never took it for granted, and visited as often as I could – always finding something amazing whether it was in the back, in the context of beans, or in the dozens of tiny card catalogue drawers Full of Oriental trading toys. I’m gonna miss you guys as they pack up and move along.
My tour this year lasted six and a half hours covering eleven locations and once again saying goodby to one. Next year I think I may just have to try something different….this tour takes a lot out of me. I’m exhausted….
Zombie Kid Diaries
The title really tells you everything you need to know about the series. It is exactly what it says it is – it is a zombie kids diary. This little boy had aspirations of being a professional video gamer before he got bitten by a zombie and infected. He still wants to be a gamer, but now has to contend with some of the inconveniences of being a zombie. Things like growing claws unexpectedly, or having a hard time concentrating on people in front of him talking to him when he’s hungry and they smell like chocolate cake to him. A lot of the story is very standard kids stuff – school, games, talking about his mother’s job, but it all a little bit different now because of course our young man is a zombie.
It’s a great all ages title, very much a spoof on things like diary of a wimpy kid and I highly recommend it for your little ones – stuff like this is great as gateway fare to raise proper monster kids.