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Archive for May, 2019


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

Every Wednesday and Friday



bannerpdindex.jpgBack water starts up with happy music and a happy couple heading into the woods. That shaky cam look is immediately putting me off

It’s weird, I almost get a “Blair Witch” vibe  with the shaky camera, forest and the strange voices coming from the woods. Indeed, when the couple gets attacked in their tent it’s very on the nose. We are left wondering, what’s going on? Is it the creepy fisherman or the suspicious policeman? Are they McGuffins? The first act of the film seriously seeks to keep you off balance, wondering what kind of movie it is.

It’s a very smart personal story being told here, and red herrings do not surprise me one bit. It’s really attempting to draw horror from this young couple being terrorized through the night… until the third act twist, when survival horror turns into a whole other kind of survival horror.

I really don’t want to give anything more away, because this film is not what it seems and its worth watching just for that. It’s not the best movie in this set, but it’s definitely worth a try for something different.



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

Every Wednesday and Friday

Batmobile on the road



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

Every Wednesday and Friday


bannerpdindex.jpgPelt lifts it’s intro directly from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, right down to the sound of the photographs. This way we know what kind of film we are getting into before it quickly transitions over to the local bar. A group of party girls and their boyfriends plan a backpacking trip (and getting on the wrong side of the local bikers) following a trail which of course takes the least traveled route… Easier to get them lost, you know? The trail they’re looking for however, goes through private property (That’s what we call foreshadowing).

Once they set up camp for the night, hijinks ensue. The killing starts just before the half hour mark.

The comparison is to TCM aren’t unwarranted though, it’s redneck horror with some images1.jpgscattered influences. The moment one of the girls crashes through a window to escape the killer once again reminds me a lot of TCM – though they take it even further with a glass gag that will make you squirm in your seat. Indeed, there are more than a couple of cringeworthy snares built-in to this film, gore that isn’t cartoonish like “Hatchet”, But crueler and more uncomfortable like in “Saw. For instance, the actual “Pelt” scenes again feel like TCM to me, but cranked up to 11.

images3.jpgPelt maybe derivative, but overall it’s good solid bloody fun. It’s worth a spin on Netflix, might even be worth buying this set for!


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

Alan Dean Foster


While film novilizations may arguable not be so relevant anymore, I love this just because of the autograph! Foster did some of the best novilazations (back in the days when these things were ESSENTIAL reading) and his original work is always entertaining. This one was a Christmas gift, and I’m thrilled to have it.

15056478_1342934475750972_7296501730492462433_n 15134571_1342934519084301_3848279083066305154_n


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

Death Wish : The Novel


garfield-deathwishDid anyone else here realize that the original Charles Bronson film was based off a novel? I sure didn’t. But the good news is that the release of the remake has also led to the novel getting reprinted in hardcover, and that makes it mercifully simple to find. Not so much with it’s sequel “Death Sentence”, but I’m working on that one.

I was surprised as to how much of the basic plot from the Death Wish novel made it into the film. It’s in many ways the same story, so what I really want to highlight are the differences.

We see a great deal more of the son-in-law in the book. He’s a bit of a weasel but he’s there to serve as a sounding board. He embodies the liberal archetype this book sets as the standard, even as Paul swings ever so slightly to the right. The assault on the wife and daughter are never described in detail. The film is far more lurid in it’s portrayal – the book goes out of it’s way to insist there was no rape. I kind of appreciate that. Still, we get a LOT more of Paul’s inner monologue as he begins his descent into violence. His violence is more random, and there’s just as much of it as we see in the movie. The ending is very different. Unresolved but very interesting.

Reading this, I can see where the film gets it’s social messaging from. It’s very heavy handed here, and while the film seems balanced, the author of the novel has definitely chosen a side on the left wing – which is odd because his hero is on the 493661opposite end of his philosophy, causing an interesting cognitive dissonance.

Like the film, it moves slow. Most of the book is about getting over the tragedy of Paul losing his wife and daughter, and the madness of feeling alone. It absolutely draws you in and compels you. By the time we hit that last quarter of the novel where the shooting starts, it feels almost like we’ve got a completely different book in our hands.

I’m conflicted as to what is superior – the film or the book. The intellectual and literary snob in me wants to say the book, and yet the film is comfort food – not only is it familiar, there’s things it just does better. Do yourself a favor and check both the original film and this novel out from the Library so you can compare and contrast for yourself.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet

Movie banner56178712_10218363995641367_8262274680904220672_nThis weekend I crashed the Cleveland Haunters Club screening of American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet including a Q and A with the director. I had no idea what I was going into. The cover art feels like a low quality Asylum movie, heading straight to Netflix. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Ratchet is a well shot film with a good script and fine actors ding a competent job. The license plates and news segments remind us that film was shot in the Cleveland area, most notably in several locations in Westlake and Akron.

Don’t be fooled by the title though. While our antagonist, Lilith Ratchet, is indeed a ghost, she acts like no poltergeist I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t a surprise then, to discover that American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet wasn’t the intended title. Director Eddie Lengyel planned on calling the film simply The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, but the distribution company stepped in and decided 51237843_2419711374770882_3597706701551173632_nthey could sell more copies under a different title, tying it to an existing (if unrelated) anthology franchise.

The movie starts at Creative Apothecary in Akron, a new age store where our protagonists discover an ornate wooden box (have we learned nothing from Hellraiser or Gremlins?) containing a shrunken head (have we learned nothing from Charles Band??) and a poem. The sell it to a radio host who makes the head the centerpiece of his Halloween show. Broadcasting from a packed night club he plays hot potato with the head while repeatedly reciting the poem (have we learned nothing from Candyman???) unleashing the curse and the evil IMG_6335ghost of Lilith Ratchet.

I kid with all the horror references. While you can definitely spot Lengyels influences in things like the way Ratchet moves (a glide that really reminds me of Angela in “Night of the Demons” or even the Daleks from Doctor Who), he doesn’t wear them on his sleeve. There’s plenty here that feels original. I was particularly impressed with the boldness of using a big crowded party to unleash the curse. More often this happens in small, intimate settings. A slumber party or small gathering of friends. Doing it in a populous setting is a risk, but the kinetic energy of the lights and people at the party is also a great 57070980_2571781152897236_4783031230440407040_njuxtaposition with the later kills, most of which happen in isolation and gloom.

It’s not a perfect film. Despite the 30 day shoot, with a budget of $15,000 some cracks will show. They are few and far between, but there are occasional clumsy segways and certain scenes that didn’t get the attention to lighting that most of the rest of the film did. Lilith Ratchet is a great looking ghost, but light is not this makeup’s friend. When she’s too lit up, she looks too much like an actress in a costume, but when she’s cloaked in shadows and darkness, those horrifying teeth and piercing eyes give me chills.

That’s the reason I’m recommending this film so highly by the way. Sure, the Conjuring movies made me jump a couple times. Human Centipede made me squirm. But I haven’t IMG_6336really gotten goosebumps from a horror movie since “Sinister”. That takes some talent. It’s got some blood, but it’s not really gory. It dosen’t rely on the gore, but rather an atmosphere and a ghost whose presence fills the room every time Lilith glides into frame.

The film ends with a requisite twist that I could mostly see an hour into it, but also manages to tie things together nicely, bringing us full circle back to the beginning. It’s a satisfying enough ending that leaves the door open for us to possibly see Lilith Ratchet again, and I for one, hope we do.

American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet is currently available at Wal-Mart, and is coming to Redbox as well as Netflix in the near future.

Doctor Strange-Mite

CostumeSometimes it’s not enough to just dress Bat-Mite up, sometimes you have to go full poster…..



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

Every Wednesday and Friday

Death Wish 2018

franchisebannerDeath-Wish-2017-movie-posterI think the problem is Bruce Willis. I love Bruce Willis. He’s a tough guy and a great action star… and I’m not sure that’s what this film really requires. Stay with me on this.

This is an interesting new take on the whole Death Wish series. I’m glad they went with a diffrent profession (doctor instead of an Architect) and that they went with a very up-to-date look. On paper, Willis looks perfect for this role. He’s every bit the action star that Charles Bronson was and he’s about as long in tooth as we remember Bronson being – especially in the late series sequels. But Bronson had a quiet toughness. He could sit in a living room or work on a drawing and be at ease. Bruce Willis oozes tough guy in all his movements. I have a hard time buying those action star fists as the healing hands of a doctor. I have a hard time buying the clumsiness with a gun, or the reluctance to use it.

Don’t get me wrong, when we get into the later confident action sequences, he’s in perfect form. It’s just a haul trying to get him there. I admit I kind of dig the way the hoodie has replaced that knit thermal hat Bronson wore in two.

Death WishIt’s funny, I would have expected a lot more grit and grain here. Eli Roth is a grindhouse aficionado and I was really expecting an exploitation movie. I suppose that’s a much more difficult proposition in 2018. This is a slickly packaged almost- revenge/action film. We (thankfully) lack the rape  and the death of  the wife seems less brutal. Roth does manage to stick in some gore though – a few messy set pieces that are more extreme than you would normally find in an action film. I’m grateful for that though I wish we’d see a little more kinetic over-the-top action.

All in all, it’s not a bad film. It’s definitely a remake of the film and feels like it has less than ever to do with the original novel. It’s probably as good as any of the late series sequels and I would hope that it’ll drum up some interest in classic Bronson. Besides, you can’t tell me it isn’t pretty cool to see the nod to the original in the way this ends!





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

Every Wednesday and Friday

Star Lord in Cleveland


Free Comic Book Day 2019

events57038280_10156959660912278_5719002890270408704_n59554254_10218704700919822_5730319347411320832_nDepending on where you live, what shops you have nearby, everyone does something diffrent for Free Comic Book Day. Some shops just hand you a few extra books with your purchase. Others, like the late and lamented York comics, leverage it as a charity event – giving away the gold books but throwing in extra silver books for a canned food donation. And here in Cleveland, at Carol and Johns, they throw a party.

The party is actually on Friday night, the day before FCBD, leading up to the midnight 58679409_10156989385787278_4059958543967584256_nrelease of the books. The shop is open late with sales and deals. At 10:00pm the annex opens with a pop up bar serving complementary soda and comic themed beer. People who tip get an extra free comic. Down on the other side of the strip, another room opens, housing a comic themed (this year the theme was X-Men) art show (it’s also where you go to get your free comics at midnight), where artists in attendance do free sketches and sell their wares. In recent years, other businesses in the same strip complex have gotten in on the act, with the local toy collectors club setting up in the Working Class Brewery, and the ice cream shop offering up an Infinity Gauntlet themed dish.

The lineup starts well before ten though. When I arrived around five, the line had already started. As the night went on, Two podcasts set up shop along the line. An artist set up his easel at the corner. People mingled and played board games in line. Costumes 59592378_2460804583963950_6017528075397365760_nbegan to pop up and take photos. A large Millennium Falcon interior was available for pictures, as well as the wanted poster from the X-Men story “Days of Future Past”. Stormtroopers and Jedi marched in the streets. It’s the party we wait all year for.

There’s always prep for FCBD. I decided this was the year I finally execute the idea I’d been playing with for a couple years. I wanted to do Freddy Kruger as a Yellow Lantern (Sinestro Corps). I’d worn out my old Freddy makeup a few years ago, but that’s fine. The point is to do a makeup (Build it from scratch) that takes several hours while I wait in line, and Sinestro Corps is cool because there are 59921110_2460827867294955_701903995261681664_nglowing lights on the costume – and this is DEFINITELY the event you want to have a glowing costume at. The night atmosphere really brings it out. In anticipation, I had fashioned a new glove with clear yellow blades that lit up, and pulled out the old Sinestro suit from the closet. In addition, my buddy Ryan had put a call out, informing me that he had taken a bungee cord to the eye and was stuck wearing an eyepatch for the next week or so which pretty much ruined his costume plans. “Can you help me pull together a Nick Fury?”.  I pulled my leather trench coat, my Winter Soldier Cap shirt and stuck a shield sticker over the buckle of my utility belt, then told Ryan to wear navy pants and we’d dress him on site.

I’d packed the Batmobile accessories as well. It wasn’t a sure thing – the day had been rainy but I figured that if the rain let up and I could find a visible parking space near the line that It would be fun to build up the Batmobile. When I arrived I scored a spot just 59690961_2460804923963916_4232194497838055424_none store away from the end of the line, by the grocery store. It was good enough and I built up the car, then set up my nest in line. After I’d been working on makeup for an hour and a half I’d only gotten the basic structure of the chin done. It was around this time that the car in the space directly in front of my nest  in line pulled out. I grabbed my friend Marcus and begged him to hold the parking spot for thirty seconds. I sprinted over to my car, yellow latex chin dangling from my face as he stood in the empty space, arms spread. The Batmobile raced over and took up a place right up front, directly across from my nest.  Four hours into the night I’d gotten my Freddy makeup mostly done while  chatting with friends from Pop and Panels and the Scoobies. One of the guys from The Panel Scanners Podcast had been eyeing my progress from a distance and now came up to me and asked if I could head over to thier booth so they could interview me. I promised I’d walk down as soon as I suited up and started grabbing costume pieces from my car to pull over my latex and greaspaint stained clothes. I hit the button on my belt to make sure the lights worked.

They didn’t. Crap.

I turned over the battery pack to make sure the AAs were in tight and spotted the problem. The wire that feeds into the socket connector  where the battery pack connects in had pulled out. I whipped out my swiss army knife (I always keep it in my car) and my 59953823_2460810177296724_7143054771056803840_nbuddy Rocky held the belt still, looking on in disbelief as I rewired the belt, bypassing the juncture and splicing the wires directly into the battery pack, then insulating the wires with duck tape.

As we were watching my belt finally light up, Mayday swung by and asked if I had any tape. His belt was giving him problems too. We emptied the roll of duck tape and got him fixed up. I could see it was a bad night for belts when Vito stopped me later on to ask if I could help him fix his Batman belt…..

Inside the shop, Winston discovered he had a suspicious visitor. The cat eyed the strange dog in the spider-man costume warily. FCBD is always a little rough on the comic shop’s 59445931_10157000005387278_1553795622958530560_nfeline mascot. The crowds inside were packed shoulder to shoulder, debating the virtues of the Wolverine Canadian Ale vs the Cyclops Weak Summer Pilsner. I was certain that Endgame was all anyone would be talking about. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t. The conversations around me were constantly “What do you think of the new Child’s Play movie coming out?” or speculation on the new Sonic the Hedghog film.

Back at the nest, Jen and her kids descended on us and my friend Vanessa pulled up a chair after her place in line had gotten ursurped by a bunch of guys noisily playing marvel monopoly practically on top of her seat (We’re happy to take in refugees). Rocky and Mayday grabbed thier hammer and lightsaber respectively asking if the trolls needed eviction. She shook her head laughing.

Every single year I’m amazed at how fast six or seven hours in line pass. But then, it’s not really a queue – it really wouldn’t be worth this kind of wait, just for ten free comics (eleven if you could the graphic novel they throw in for the first 200). No, this is a party that lasts all night. I’d be back in the morning for another run through. The day event is a little more subdued and I usually hit Comics are Go as well, but the evening party is the one we always spend the most time at. It’s one of the benefits of having one of the best comic shops in the country local, and no one else does FCBD like this.





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

Every Wednesday and Friday


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

Every Wednesday and Friday