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Archive for May, 2018

Children of the Corn 666

franchisebannerChildren of the corn 666 is actually one I’d been anticipating, mostly because it features the return of the actor who played Isaac in the first film. The return of an old villain always generates buzz and excitement. The problem is, it’s also usually a desperate move to salvage a failing franchise. Seriously, think back over different franchises and tell me when this has ever worked? It’s not like Phantasm or Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser where the same actor is portraying the villain consistently through pretty much the entire series. Think of house 4 – with the return of William Katt. Think pumpkinhead 3 with the return of Lance Henriksen. This sort of thing generally does not bode well.

I also can’t help note the tagline on the poster is “latest and most horrifying chapter”. This is almost the exact same tag line that they used on Hellraiser; Hellworld, and seem to be a variant of the same thing dimension was slapping on all of their late series direct to video sequels at the time. I also can’t help but note that this one was released in 1999 – a mere year after children of the corn five. Until then we had a pretty consistent gap of 2 to 3 years between sequels. They were putting them out regularly but this short gap tells me they probably filmed five and six back to back and then staggered the release. Children of the Corn 666  is the story of Isaac, the preacher kid from the first movie waking up from his coma just in time for our ingénue to roll into town. Somewhere around the third act he begins to gather the grown-up grandchildren and try and rebuild his cult.

The big problem with this entry, is it takes itself so seriously. Every frame is dire, and none of it is earned. The budget limitations are also on full display – we don’t get near the amount of blood and gore that we’ve seen in previous entries – one bloody corpse dripping and hanging from a tree nonwithstanding. They make do with the only real special fact that they have – namely the ingénue in her underwear – and there are plenty of shots of that. I also find myself still missing the creepy and countrified current children – again we got a group of people in very modern clothes, presumably because period costumes cost too much.

I must say though, Isaac has a genuinely good performance here. If you were ever to try and build a single villain into this franchise, he would have been the one. I think by the time we hit the sixth  entry though, that ship has sailed. It’s a delight to see Nancy Allen show up here as well – she is as beautiful as ever, it’s like she never ages. Still, there is not enough her for me to recommend seeing this movie, and even the attempt at a twist (I say attempt because I think everybody saw this coming with in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film) around the 50 minute mark falls extremely flat.

That’s the problem with children of the corn 666 – it’s not a bad movie, it commits a far greater sin; It’s just boring. I’m disappointed too, because there is actually potential here… There is a grain of a good story embedded in this – I can see the potential. Sadly, children of the corn 666 simply fails  to achieve that potential. This one is a definite skip.


704

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Holy Flame of the Martial World

Movie banner33689094_1945313398846407_5087294277126455296_nI swear, I don’t know why I keep letting Cleveland cinemas do this to me. I know the secret film is going to be appalling, and yet I eagerly show up every time… Oh who am I kidding, I’m a glutton for punishment.

You never know exactly what they’re going to screen at one of these mystery films, it’s frequently horror but sometimes it’s some other sort of weird exploitation. I probably should’ve gotten clued in when the door prize was a Jackie Chan film. Still, When the Shaw Bros logo came up I thought I knew what we were getting into. I was so wrong.

Holy flame is kind of like A fever dream that happened when you fell asleep watching El 51IbMd2P04L._SY445_Rey television. I have a passing acquaintance with samurai films, a much greater experience with anime and a general familiarity with foreign films. But even by my standards, this was over the top.

Holy flame begins with two infants, the apparent murdered as rival schools fight over them… I think. This part was kind of unclear. One is taken by the villain, the other is taken by the protective phantom – who drives away the villain is using his technique of ghostly laughter. The babies grow up, each prepared to avenge the murder of their parents, the daughter not realizing that her master is in fact the one responsible for their deaths in the Sun preparing to quest for the legend airy sword; the holy flame.

Our hero arrives at the cave of the moon, right after he rescues the local snake catcher and his daughter from again of devilish warriors. Inside the cave he battles flying cardboard letters (which I suspect would translate into “eat at Joes “) in an Indiana Jones 002like booby-trap… All to protect what appears to be a sword shaped like a cricket bat and made out of red Plexiglas with a baseball sized jewel centered towards the top. Once he retrieved the blade, he returns to his master with the daughter of the snake catcher – now in powered by a magic snake bladder when they prepare for the showdown with the land that killed his parents. The brother and sister avoid dueling and she eventually learns that her master was a killer for parents and together they combined the powers of the holy flame – the male aspect and female aspect, yen and yang, to destroy the villains in a spectacular show down there ultimately ends in them inflating the swords to giant anime style sizes and ultimately flattening the bad guys with them – there is probably some pyrotechnics as well, because once our heroes board the swords to fly off, magic carpet style, we see their skeletons underneath.

Holy Flame pic2

I’m leaving a lot out to be fair, because this film meanders and diverges incessantly. There is also a side bit with a death cult, a resurrected zombie wire, swordsman that appear out of paintings, I convent full of lady ninjas  and the Bard like a character that keeps teasing them – and engages in swordfights with his flute. The imagery frequently holyflame3-1goes from merely a loony to completely bat crap crazy. It’s one of these films that I genuinely wonder if they realized what they were making… They play it so earnest for most of it but then we have bizarre things like the way the Phantom does sitting somersaults while projecting ghostly laughter, or the least sexy sex scene ever,involving steam bath and bad special effects.

I’ve never so badly wanted to grab a film and give it the mystery science theatre 3000 treatment as I have with this one… The problem is for me to do that, I have to actually watch it again and I don’t think I have the fortitude to do that. It’s available on DVD, but quite frankly you view this sucker at your own peril.


Tiffany Shepis

Autographs

This is the kind of thing I bring, just to see the celebrity scream. Tiff was delighted to see this and actually brought out a couple posters from that shoot to show me – interesting to note, it’s a Japanese bike for the Americian covers, but when this book was released in Japan, they used Americian bikes!

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Romeo and K-Quick

There’s a very golden age hero vibe to these guys, though with Romeo I also mixed in a little of Hard Case from Malibu’s late and lamented ultraverse imprint. If we can’t have Ultraverse back, we can at least have these kind of characters in Angel Lite’s universe, right?


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Yuri’s Night 2018

28056232_1968447723169705_6442038820830732349_n2According to Wikipedia; Yuri’s Night is an international celebration held every April 12 to commemorate milestones in space exploration. Yuri’s Night is named for the first human to launch into space, Yuri Gagarin, who flew the Vostok 1 spaceship on April 12, 1961. In Cleveland, we hold it at the Great Lakes Science Center.

Man. That sounds like an awfully stuffy affair doesn’t it? Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Yuri’s night kicks off with the VIP arty at 6:30, in a roped off area serves amazing food from Cleveland’s most innovative restaurants. New York style pizza with prosciutto, soft tacos made from an amazing seasoned pork. Sandwiches and salads, a deconstructed sushi-like dish with mango and peppers. Strange margaritas in plastic cups and an open bar. And even here in the VIP, I found myself surrounded by sci-fi costumes. Some elaborate Star wars or giant astronauts, and some as simple as funny hats. There was even one person dressed as Stitch, complet with two extra arms wired to her real forearms. Cosplay is so pervasive at this event that a sign over at the Melt table (where they were hocking their take on oatmeal creams) read “If your outfit isn’n’t sci-fi related, you must give us your best Chewbacca impression before taking a cookie”.

The rest of the science center and it’s exhibits are available as well, but the halls felt eerily empty the first hour until the general admission began to trickle in. At one table, a 1young lady in a funny outfit served up cheese balls that had been dipped in liquid nitrogen. You have to keep the ball moving in your mouth or it’ll stick to your tongue (like Schwartz and the lampost in A Christmas Story). You breath steam out of your nose and mouth while you eat it. The taste is like a cheetos flavored snowball.

In one section, science demonstrations go on with bottle rockets, while further down there was a photo booth just around the corner from the main stage where they alternated between a band and a DJ. The lower area really starts to fill up the later the evening goes. Around ten, the floor was packed and I wandered down. I always say it’s 33043218_1936560823054998_7239210404390371328_nnot a party until the lightsabers come out, and I immediately found myself by a dark Jedi with two red lightsabers. Old Skool Cleveland pumped out cover songs and when they kicked off Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, we were all in full swing dancing. For a moment I lost myself.

Sometimes that’s easier in a costume. I pulled out my Borg suit for t he first time in a couple years. There’s not a lot of places for me to wear this, but it was right at home there at Yuri’s night. From the Balcony I spotted some friends coming in with a Xenomorph egg in tow and a chestburster popping out. I ran into Ghostbuster friends in thier spaceball costumes – I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t recognize them until they grabbed me to say 33164936_10214174223183756_7349358770591367168_nhello! I screamed my lungs out for the I Dream of Jeannie team during the costume contest, and wandered around the science center like any curious Borg would – a drink constantly in my metal prosthetic claw.

I missed my chance to come out last year and now I really regret that. This may have been the best party I’ve been to in years, and as the night drew on I never even noticed the time fly by. It’s been ages since I’d been to the Great Lakes Science Center (Certianly before I was married) and I can’t think of a more fun way to renew my acquaintance with this particular attraction. I’m already thinking of my costume for the next Yuri’s night next year and I can’t wait.


They

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From IMDB : “A psychology student finds all her childhood fears and phobias becoming real after a traumatic event. ”

They was one of the reasons I picked up this box set in the first place. It seems like a good opportunity to consolidate my DVD collection a bit. I have seen this film before, it’s probably one of the biggest profile releases on this set! Still, I understand why it was collected here. They has gotten a lot of flak over the years, people seem to really, really hate this film – and I don’t understand why. Is it the “Wes Craven presents” conceit? A backlash or a disappointment that it’s not up to the quality of other Craven films? Objectively speaking, let’s face it – Craven’s involvement in this film was probably limited to cashing a check.

It’s a strong story to me, I remember the commercials being intriguing but I simply never made it out to the theatre in time. Sitting at home watching it on my television, the film scared me. It genuinely frightened me.  It immediately sets the tone for this film and the kind of things that were going to start seeing here. It’s got the look and feel of a lot of films from this era, things like Jeepers Creepers and Darkness Falls. The fact that they never really show you the monster is brilliant – you see enough of it to know that there is something there, something exists in that space and is stalking you but man, the fact that we never get a good full-fledged reveal makes it far creepier than anything – whatever these things are just thoroughly creeps me out.

Of the films in this volume, this may well be the scariest and if I wern’t reviewing it for this column, it would almost certainly be a “in defence of “. I love this movie and if you haven’t caught They, it’s really worth a second look. It’s one that seems to have gathered more appreciation of a time, although it’ll never be a classic it certainly deserves to be more than just a footnote in an eight pack of horror movies.


701

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Children of the Corn 5

franchisebannerChildren of the corn five – right off the bat i’m pretty sure in trouble when I see the title is “fields of terror “and see that Alexis Arquette  is starring. The director is confident to, his name is first on the billing. Seeing Fred Williamson and David Carridine billed towards the end give me a little bit more hope and I actually do usually enjoy Eva Mendez, but not getting my hopes up considering how  uninspired the opening is. Perhaps I’m being overly critical considering my love for the previous entry but man, Ethan Wiley has his work cut out for him here and I don’t think this little Elliot-from-ET looking kid walking towards the green screen is gonna pull it off. I want blood to kick this thing off, not lasers and lightning and adobe after affects. The kids look too non-descript, and I’m only 10 minutes out. Our corn children this time around dress and very contemporary clothing – and this detracts from the creepiness. It’s not just enough to have a shadowy kid pick up a scythe to make it scary. Thankfully we do seem to be at the tail end of the 90s, so the embargo on blood and gore seems to be lifting. The kills aren’t particularly original, but they are visceral.

The clothes are only part of it – our protagonists talk about how bad the town smells, they try and make a point of describing how boring the place is. That’s funny, considering it’s a farming community, and everything looks so clean and crisp. The clothing is too nice and trendy – it just doesn’t fit the narrative. Equally out of place is David Carridine’s cameo as the leader of this cult – it’s the first time we seen an adult that seems to be the head of our corn children and it feels very out of place.

I have to admit though, it passes the watch test. It moves right along at a good steady pace and never really drops my interest. I don’t know if there was some mandate that directed them to keep all of these films under 90 minutes, but really is to their benefit at this things are so short. There is a clumsy attempt to expand on the mythology of he who walks behind the rows. But it seems more thrown in for styles sake rather than story and is gone too quickly, failing to impact the mythology at all.

I got to admit, I wonder if I’m being too hard on this – it’s not necessarily a bad film, indeed it’s better than number three but that’s setting the bar pretty low and leaves this one pretty mediocre. At the end of the day, this is a very by the numbers sequel. A group of strangers blunder into the town – discover corn children, and murder ensues. It might be alright if you’re just looking for more of the same with a snazzier wardrobe, and I probably won’t change the channel if they were running this on the Syfy channel.

Here’s a suggestion if you’re not inclined to skip this one (and I don’t necessarily think you should – especially if you dig some blood and gore); don’t go and order. Put this one on after three – but before you go to four. You’ll better appreciate the Hammer’s solid performance and Eva Mendez charms as you watch the series gradual rebound from three.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Phantasm

directorsd14469577_1287266907984396_6839442167741886021_nThis where it all begins.

Well, sort of. Strictly speaking, “Jim, the World’s Greatest” was Coscarelli’s first film, followed by “Kenny and Company”. But Phantasm…this is where most of us first really encountered Don Coscarelli.

It’s hard for me to find something to say about Phantasm that I haven’t already said. I’m fascinated by these characters and to this day I find the tall man to be one of the most compelling villains ever.

I’m particularly interested in the underlying themes of abandonment – originally much stronger in cut out footage. Indeed there’s still Phantasm footage that has never seen the light of day, scenes with Jody and his girlfriend (supposedly the lady in lavender) as well as a guitar performance by Reggie Bannister. I could see it – there’s a stage in his ice cream shop and we can catch a glimpse of it in the deleted scene where they all get into a food fight there.

The story of the otherworldly undertaker and what he does to the bodies buried in Morningside Cemetery will always be one my my favorites – enough to keep me on board though all of the sequels….but more on that later.

 

 


Ratha Con 2018

Conmanc1cee4_e70339723b8d4093ac8df0f86e83ebd1The mad scientist ran up to me with a shiny gold nugget in his hand exclaiming “Dude, I think I found a part of your costume! “. Sure enough, one of the rivets from my club had fallen off and found it’s way across his path somewhere deep in the parking lot. Floating above my shoulder, or Orko’s glowing eyes smiled. Ratha Con was going to be good.

I had some friends head out of this show several years ago and it’s one I’ve always wanted to go to – based on the sheer niftyness of the name alone. The problem is, it’s a 0083small show– even by my standards – and a long way away. Those two things don’t usually compute, but I had to drop a birthday gift out near Columbus and the rest of my Saturday was free so I decided after four or five years of procrastinating to finally take the leap and cruise to the Athens Community Center. I’m glad I did.

I say small show, but it’s a small show that feels big.  Ratha Con leans heavily on its programming and activity options. In a lot of ways it it felt like a small-scale anime show or the Cleveland ConCoction. There was a tabletop gaming room catering to war games and RPGs, as well as a video game room – and let me 0047tell you something, I’m a sucker for a good video game room. It was the one place I kept wondering back to when I had 10 or 15 minutes to kill – chatting with the room attendant about how much we both loved the arcade version of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and losing embarrassing races on Mario Kart 64. Along the same hallway are the two rooms used for panels. The small room was set up as more of a round table discussion area where as the larger one had a traditional rows of chairs with the guest sitting behind a table with a Mic.

I made a point of attending The 3-D printing workshop. They were using better 0082equipment than I am, with heated print beds, hotter extruders, and quicker speeds – there wasn’t a lot for me to learn there on the printing side though I did take notes on some of the modelling software they have been dabbling in.. I’ve actually had very good results using my traditional brace 3-D and Microsoft 3-D builder – but I’m open to trying something if I get better and easier results, and ended up walking away with some new ideas .

Down the hall, I heard music, so I popped out of the 3D printing panel and found myself at the video game music trivia. A trio of wind and reed instruments would play out the score from a game and the audience would guess the game for bragging rights and prizes. These very talented musicians would be up at the main stage later, rendering out 0009the bouncy sounds of the Cantina band from Star Wars.

Jake Kearney was up next, with his walking dead panel. Kearney bit player who betrayed one of the Saviors for a few episodes last season until he finally got mauled by the tiger. The problem with Walking Dead panels of curse is that most of the behind the scenes anecdotes are already covered in the companion show Talking Dead. What Kearney brings to the table is more of an outsiders view – someone who has appeared on the show, but isn’t IN the show.  It was a sparsely attended panel, and he seemed a little unprepared. It was as if he merely wanted to take questions, questions that largely weren’t coming from this small audience. That’s okay, I had to cut out early any hour to make it to the main stage so I could watch the magic show.

That’s right, there’s a magic show.

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Ratha Con brought back a return guest from previous years – “Big Daddy Cool” who billed himself as an “Impossibleist”. It was a fun show, with good visuals. The audience 0043however, seem to be a little hesitant to participate so when he called for volunteers I wandered up in full Man-At-Arms regalia and choose my card! Big Daddy would later host a magic workshop in one of the panel rooms which I was also dying to see. It’s been a few years since I did magic regularly, although my daughter Lydia has been picking it up from here and there for her YouTube series. Big Daddy showed us a few simple effects, demonstrated some ideas and then when I mentioned that I happened to be a magician as well, he pulled out a variation on a mentalism effect he was showing us – one with cards, using a mechanic that would only be familiar to another magician – that was fun.

Modler_RathaCon27.jpgThe dealers room sprawled across a gym area, with rows and rows of vendors, one corner reserved for the main stage as well as a couple of photo ops against the front wall – a Tardis and a speeder bike from Star Wars. This, in addition to the green screen photo booth in the video game room gives attendees a lot of options to play around and get silly at the show when you’re not in a panel or watching the pirate themed belly dancer on the main stage.

Because it’s a pop culture show and not necessarily a comic con or anime con the vendor’s room was filled with a lot of artists, jewelry makers, prop makers, and sellers of generally weird things – it’s a sort of vendors room and you expect from an OddMall or RenFest. There were a couple of toy vendors, a VR station, one comic book vendor and a lot of interesting things to see.  I dig ecclectic flea markets but always have a hard time Modler_RathaCon6-1024x684finding something to buy in them.

The costume contests are broken down into kids and adults.  The kids parade around the vendor’s are in before The casting has tests are broken into kids and adults – the kids parade around the vendor’s room before lining up and showing off on stage whether judge… I saw the scariest most serious looking joker ever – followed by a girl in a Tom Servo outfit from MST3K!

We won’t speak of the giant Pikachu waddling at the end of the line. I’m still trying to figure out how it got on the speeder bike.

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0005It’s another one of those fun things about it being pop culture event and not strictly a comic con or sci-fi show – you get a marvelous variety of cosplayers. Walter and The Dude from the Big Lebowski were both there, as well as the blues brothers, as well as a stunning armor that took first place in the adult contest and the beautiful Five Nights at Freddys robot that took second. Unlike the kids, their adults are prejudged in a two hour block over in one of the panel rooms. It makes things easier and get you some time to really connect with the judges and explain what your costume is made out of. Honestly, I think I’m beginning to prefer this method.

0002I  really enjoyed Ratha Con, and I’m a little bummed that it’s such a long drive to get there because I really can’t justify coming back unless I’m already staying in the area. Maybe next year I can arrange a weekend with my wife’s friends in Lancaster so I can sneak back out to Athens for the day. You know, that just might work!

I may not see you back there next year, but sooner or later I’ll be back for sure!

 

 


699

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Deadpool 2

Movie banner32191888_1925746840803063_7710354267923546112_nThe sneak preview began with an intro from the man himself.
“You @#$%nuggets are among the first to see Deadpool 2! And I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing I am; are the guys on Sesame Street full on Muppets or just puppets?” ‘Pool then warned us not to google the origin for Cable because it would just confuse us.

We launched directly into a gratuitous action sequence (there may or may not have been a chainsaw involved) before hitting the title credits. I’m really very pleased to report that the title credits are just as funny this time around as they were in the first film. I was genuinely surprised at how well the Celine Dion song works for this title sequence, but it fits the whole James Bond homage they seem to be doing here and the previous scene actually set the mood just right for it.

32286570_1925746834136397_103568789836136448_nJust as we see on the poster, there’s a lot of film homage and parodying here. More cribbing film styles than actual movies, done so they can poke fun in a goofy post-modern way. The film is drowning in fan service and in-jokes hitting X-Men, Avengers, Batman, Superman, Marvel in general….there’s even a pretty dead on swipe at Deadpool’s creator Rob Liefeld. If you are familiar with the genre it all lands with great hilarity, though I fear some of the broader audience is going to feel left out by some of these jokes (I’ll find out in a week when I go back to see it with the wife). It went to great lengths to poke fun at the hyper-politically correct culture we find ourselves in as well. At least, I think that’s what it was doing. It’s hard to tell sometimes, considering they had to change the race of one character and make another one gay in the name of diversity… isn’t that the very thing they’re supposed to making fun of?

The buzz around the lobby was Deadpool 2 exceeded the first. A lot of people felt it was a 32290812_2128876233819748_267699569188405248_nbetter film. I’m not so sure. It definitely had better villains and I really dug the whole X-Force connections. Honestly you could not have gotten better casting for Cable than Josh Brolin. He’s just pitch perfect – not too over the top, not to gritty and grim.  He looks the part and just embodies the character in a way  Ican’t imagine anyone else doing. I’m actually a big fan of Domino here as well – or at least of the character they are calling Domino. Honestly, Zazee Beetz’s character has more depth and heart than the rather one dimensional character she’s named after. It genuinely makes me wish they’d created her an original character to play instead of just flipping race. She’s sassy, dangerous and fun, with a touch of 70’s blaxploitation to her. It would be nice to see more of her (May happen in an X-Force movie) I’d totally read a comic series based on her instead of the albino Domino from X-Force. Like I said, shame they didn’t create an original character.

The problem is there’s moments where the movie just kind of stops dead. And in the end, I think that if I were looking at my library shelf with this and the first Deadpool, I’d be more likely to pull the first. It’s good, but the first was great.

Still, this is definitely a must see…and in the theater. More importantly, Deadpool 2 absolutely wins post credits scenes. That’s it, we don’t ever need another post-credits scene again… It will never, ever be as good as this. Trust me on this, just lay back, close your eyes, and wait through the entire credit sequence.

And if you can, hit it at the Midway Atlas Theaters in Elyria. Friday night, there will be superheros hanging out before the 7:30 screening, that…and this movie are not to be missed.

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Bob Hall

AutographsBob Hall wrote most of the run of my favorite Valiant title – that being Shadowman. When I met him at NEO Comic Con I was hoping for a Shadowman print to get signed. A Master Darque one was close enough!

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

332


Hop

directorsthop-2011-hindiTo be fair – this one didn’t interest me.

I don’t know what it was…the commercials did nothing for me and it felt like it was just a holiday cash grab- I’m still not entirely certain it wasn’t.

Nevertheless, my kids wanted to see it and my wife was interested so we eventually made it out to Amherst Cinema for the movie.

I’m surprised at how much I liked it. Hill is doing what he does best here – he’s taking a simple slackers-find-their-purpose story and infusing it with heart. The CG Easter bunny character should not work nearly as well as he does, but there’s something about him that just resonates. It makes me wonder how much time Hill spends with the animators, if he’s there in the room looking over their shoulders as they create these characters because I can feel his fingerprints in their DNA.

This ended up being a surprise hit in my family, and gets pulled out every year at Easter time. It may not be a buy, but if you’ve never see it, this is definitely worth a watch.


Free Comic Book Day 2018

eventsCoverIt was about 4:30 when the boss poked his head in my office. He said it wasn’t very busy right now and he didn’t expect anybody else to shop today – that I could head out early if 31945578_1919186758125738_829164490422484992_nI wanted to. I grabbed my Iron Man helmet and was out the door like a shot, on my way to Carol and John’s. About 5 o’clock I put down my lawn chairs, set up the TV tray and made myself a nest in line. Just like every year, I looked at the clock and wondered what was I doing? I mean, honestly what am I going to do for the next SEVEN HOURS? Of course, then the next time I checked the clock I was shocked to see it was already 11:30…
There are Free Comic Book Day celebrations to one extent or another all over The United States on the first Saturday every May. Even here in the Cleveland area, Comics Are Go brought in my friend Marc Sumerak from Marvel comics as well as local artist Rick Lozano to sign pieces and sell their work. Imaginary Worlds in Cleveland Heights seems 10to have picked up the baton from York comics, utilizing FCBD as a food drive and offering extra free comics to anyone who brings in canned goods. I always liked this approach, I’m glad to see somebody is still doing it.

Still, the fact is that nobody does Free Comic Book Day like Carol and John’s. The event the night before officially begins around 10 o’clock, but the line starts long before that. I mentioned that I got in around five, and there were already 20 people ahead of me. Card tables had popped up for people to play board games on, Magic tournaments were going on. Cards against humanity was out and in the streets there was dancing. A podcaster set up in the corner and was interviewing avengers as they walked 31898242_1893737123970493_231055518104289280_nby. As the day turned to evening and the skies got darker, Jedi and stormtroopers marched along the road – lightsaber battles took place in the night air. The Ghostbusters arrived, and super heroes were everywhere you looked.

At my nest in line, my friend Mayday was the first to arrive with his lovely bride Pam. We chatted for a while before joining the rest of the Scooby gang at the Red Lantern, two doors down. I grabbed an appetizer with them, and when I got back to my place in line my friend Jen had arrived with pizza for all of us.

When the doors opened at 10, we hit the bar for free beers, thier bottles adorned with artwork reminiscent of this years guest of honor comics legend Jim Sternanko. Across 31946010_10156190699692278_8902142860032212992_ntown, the comic shop had arranged a dinner with him and about 20 guests – my friends Nick and Taylor arrived back at the shop late from that dinner and just a few minutes ahead of Jim himself.

In the meantime we hung out at the art show and I was delighted to see one of the artists had contributed a painting of the Shadow! Stetnanko is famous for is Shadow covers, indeed the one piece of his that I have signed is one of his Shadow illustrations. It made my day to see this homage, and I grabbed a print of it for myself. Before I made it out of the art show, I ran into my buddy Ryan, his wife and new baby… I played peekaboo with the little one, using the visor on the Ironman helmet. While in line in there, a tiny Darth Vader chatted me up, fascinated by my “Bones” Iron Man suit and showing me the lights on his Vader costume. I caught him later, getting into a lightsaber fight with Kylo Ren outside.

9

31945847_814943612025019_5281759499957305344_nI made it back to the nest and gathered everybody up for a group photo over at the Rubber City booth, a little something to remember the night from before it was time to lineup for the free comic giveaway. As we got back, people in giant donut costumes wandered up and offered us tiny cupcakes. We packed up the nest, tossed the chairs in my car and got ready to go through.  It’s always surprising how quickly the night goes, and I’ll be honest – as soon as I’ve gotten out of the comics line I vanish back home because I’m only going to get a few hours sleep before it’s time to do it all again properly on Saturday morning!

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Saturday; the actual Free Comic Book Day, is always a much different kind of event in the evening one. There are  more kids, and they were absolutely enchanted by my Slimer costume. My daughter Maddie came with me, donning her now–too– small Supergirl costume and on the hunt for Pokémon, Simpsons, and DC superhero girls, and of course Marvel zombies once we got into the shop.
I ran into my friend Rhonda while making the rounds, and we all made sure to get our photos in the pop figure box… I wasn’t confident of my ability to get in and out of the box Friday night, and the photos showed up better during the day anyhow. Even in Slimer though, it looked a little tricky – I ended up taking off the costume and setting it inside the box and just taking a photo of that.31924679_1920078671369880_1781156270892384256_n

In the end I only hit three shops this FCBD. C&J’s, Comics are Go (Where they recognized Maddie from the Backyard Zombie Movie series) and Imaginary Worlds. I got all but about three books I wanted. As we headed home, Maddie was digging into her comics, and recommended sparks to me. She was right about how funny the story of two cats in a robotic dog suit was. She also pulled out the Doctor Who book and exclaimed “Dad, isn’t this your favorite Doctor?” Number seven is in fact, not my favorite, but certainly ranks among the top four. She brought home two books specifically for her sister as well, Invader Zim and Street Angel’s Dog. This is really cool to watch ger recommending stories to me and other people. For herself, Maddie found a copy of Supergirl meets Scooby Doo and it blew her mind.

And of course this is really the whole point of Free Comic Book Day – to support the local shops, and get involved in the community. Hope yours was just as amazing.

 


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Children of the Corn 4

franchisebannerThis time around it sure seems like somebody is trying to redeem the franchise. Now I’m not sure who it is, because the year is 1996 and that places this firmly as a dimension films sequel, when they started cranking out franchise entries to any and every property that they owned, regardless of quality or logic. The end result was they started trying to drive the Hellraiser  franchise into the ground, and the Prophecy franchise was getting the same treatment.

The good thing about this era though, is even though the producer shouldn’t care, and there was no money – if you are working on these films you were doing it because you loved these films and these franchises. That’s something that really shows here as we get a very cinematic entry into this series.  This time around, we have kids that seem to be possessed by the old children of the corn – and the movement is growing. It’s not so much a religious conversion (although that is the most heinous baptism I’ve ever seen…and I watched Rawhead Rex at 12 Hours of Terror last year!) like we’ve seen in the other films, but more of a spectral ghost story with exorcism elements to it. It feels different, with quick cuts of terror and flashes of peril. Like I said, somebody is trying to redeem the series – not the least of which was shown by pulling in Karen Black for a cameo! There’s a blue filter to the colour palette here that we never seen before – and sort of dread that I haven’t felt in the rest of the series.

Even with the back to basics approach – cornfields and lots of children. I feel like the gore level has been capped but I found myself really enjoying this as a return to form. The children of the corn haunt this film – they don’t just threaten. They don’t just kill. The presence is felt even when they’re not on screen.

All this is good, because the story feels fairly insubstantial, but what it lacks in substance it makes up for in atmosphere. Perhaps it’s the supernatural possession aspect that’s really appealing to me here – he who walks behind the rows has always been a little bit of a paranormal creature, but this is the one where we really ramp up the the the ethereal threat. Of all the sequel so far, this is by far my favorite – I think I may even enjoy this more than the original. I lost track of how many times watching this I delightedly explain to myself “I love this!”

It makes me wonder what we have in store next.


695

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Infinity War and Iron Man

Movie banneravengersMV5BMjMxNjY2MDU1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzY1MTUwNTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Friday was our premiere event for Avengers Infinity War and we gathered up at the Midway Atlas Cinemas near my home to celebrate.

I’ve got to say, after the frustrating armor malfunction at the last charity event I wore Iron Man to, I was ready to retire it. Just not worth repairing again. I got a request from my friend Taylor to bring it out for the Infinity War premier though so I decided to give it one more chance.

During the repairs I completely reworked the midplate and made a few long overdue upgrades to the chestplate getting around to putting the elastic panels in the breastplate (which makes it WAY easier to get on – it’s been a standard feature of my armors since trying it out with Man-At-Arms) as well as making the collar breakaway. An interesting side benefit to the breakaway collar was that it gave me greater access to the upper arms, allowing me to properly attach them farther up and more securely.

Photos from that event are reminding me how much I really do like this armor, and I may keep it around a bit longer now. I’ll still have to detail the back of the midplate and 31369324_1911751505535930_8910448074183235491_nperhaps do some extra scoring  but I’m happy with the further evolution of my oldest armor.

So, Infinity War.

Is it just me or was that two and a half hours of superhero themed torture porn?

No, I mean it. There’s some Saw level grotesque brutality here. This is trauma equivalent to what we felt as kids watching the melting faces in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’m genuinely not sure I want to take my children to this. I’m not opposed to violence in general. I’m not opposed to it in Superhero movies either. But this was a little more than what I’m comfortable with in this context. It’s much the same thing I felt during the beat-down of Brandon Routh in Superman Returns. It crosses the line from adventure and peril over to the squirm inducing pornography of violence and far more than what I expect from a PG-13 film.

I’m not completely down on Infinity War though. The movie has it’s fun moments. Rocket, Groot and Thor’s team up is some of the best stuff here. I’m also realizing that I REALLY like Doctor Strange when he’s in other people’s movies…way more than when he’s in his own film (I’ve said the same thing about Iron Man – and it’s still true). And then there’s the moment Buckey grabs Rocket and just…twirls. It’s easily light years better than Age of Ultron, and just about as good as Civil War.

At the end of the day though…I’m seeing all of these memes with everyone feeling empty and depressed when they leave the theater. I don’t get it. With an ending that is as cataclysmic as this, basically the next film gets to reset everything, as much as it wants. This movie shouldn’t have been called Infinity War, it should have been called “Avengers : Mulligan”, because a year from now, none of it will matter.

All in all though, it was a nice night, and after the movie we took a few more photos, then our own merry band of Avengers retired to Ihop for our own personal shwarma scene. That’s the great thing about this kind of film. It’s meant to be experienced together and talked about afterwards, and I have no doubt that it will be the main topic of discussion this weekend at Free Comic Book Day.

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