Every Wednesday and Friday
Every Wednesday and Friday
So I mentioned last month that the Death Wish franchise is actually based off of books. Death Sentence is the second book in the series, but because we just looked at the movie of the same name, it’s fresh on our minds. The name is of course, pretty much where the similarities end.
Written by Brian Garfield, the author of the original Death Wish book. He was unhappy with the way the original movie ended, so he wrote his own sequel a year later. In many ways, it seems like he’s trying to work out his own second amendment issues in these novels and more than once, you get a whiff of cognitive dissonance here.
While technically a follow up to the novel, in many ways it reads a spin-off to the film. In either way, it’s well done. This feels less like a sequel and more like a second chapter, or third act. Indeed, it almost immediately feels like what I always expected a Death Wish story to be.
After the events in New York, Paul has moved to Chicago, but it hasn’t stopped his vigilante urges. Both the cops and the criminal element soon notice that the Vigilante has moved and the manhunt begins. Along the way, Paul falls in love again but soon realizes he must choose between being the vigilante or having a life with this woman. And even while the street crime rate drops, things are complicated further when copycat killers begin to emerge.
This is a fascinating read, with greater detail about the Vigilatne’s methods. We explore how he acquires guns, hides then and stalks. We get greater insight to the politics in the police department and how they want to handle it, and in general, both pro and anti gun sentiments are handled well (though Garfield makes his leanings clear).
It’s a harder book to find these days. Death Wish was reprinted in time for the remake, but this book didn’t get the same treatment (I managed to snag a kindle version using a gift card from a costume contest last year). It’s actually the superior of the two Death Wish Novels and worth hunting down.
The Harper shows are a constant. They never change all that much, so I figured I knew what was in store for me Sunday. But I always forget – summer cons mean wardrobe malfunctions.
I had thrown up a poll to see what costume people wanted to see, and my old Mr Freeze won in a landslide. At 96%, it wasn’t even close. It had been over two years since I had Freeze out, and as I pulled it out, the wear showed. I had a lot of patching to do, including re-attaching one of the oxygen tanks to the back (and figuring a new way of doing so that didn’t just involve boat loads of glue). Also, my Freeze gun was missing. By “Missing” I mean, buried somewhere in the attic, but nt where I can find it to lay my hands on it. I looked around, trying to figure out what to do, and then decided to build a new on up around my Kyberlight lightsaber. It ended up being massive – but that’s not a bad thing. A bigger gun is far more reminiscent of the film Freeze. I packed the armor in the car and left the windows down during the early service at church. I was hoping the summer sun wouldn’t melt anything.
I started to suit up in the parking lot. It seems like this used t be easier. it certainly was when I tested it at home. The velcro tabs on the sides didn’t seem to want to hold. there was plenty of room, but they just kept coming loose. Finally I got the chestplate on and was looking for the gauntlets.
On of the air tanks came off. The hot sun had caused the glue between the metal clip and air tank to separate. Grumbling, I reached for my repair kit and grabbed a razor. I cut a lip in the tank (made from a couple of two liter bottles) and slid half the long clip inside the painted bottle itself, then the other side into the slot on the back of my armor. I prayed it would be enough to naturally clamp together, and went back to the business of putting the chestplate back on. Seriously, one velcro fastens then the other pulls off…Finally, with the armor on and the first gauntlet over my wrist…
The other tank came off. Out came the razor again, repeating the same proceedure. Back into the chestplate. Gauntlets on. Gloves on. Bald cap in place. Belt was sagging with the midplate a bit, but I’d have to live with it.
The goggles chose that moment to break, and I found myself rejiggering the clutch on the side that adjusts the tension. It was another few minuets before they were workable, and I finally slid my dome into place. I picked up the freeze gun and the muzzle promptly slid off the lightsaber. The sun had melted the glue holding this into place as well. I slid it back on and decided to let it float. It would allow me to grip the second handle sideways giving it a more industrial look, but it also meant I’d have to make sure to always point it up. If I relaxed my grip downward, the front would side off again. Fine. Lets get into the show.
I have to admit, I dig this venue. The split level with the snack bar and some good dealers makes it a nice set up. The costume contest draws an interesting crowd as well. I think it pulls in more young people than other Harper shows do. Over the years I’ve really seen the costume talent here develop into something impressive, from the amazing Umbrella ninja to the Carnivale Wonder Woman, the competition here grows better every year.
My favorite outfit of the day however, had to be the demonic Ronald McDonald. The young lady in the suit was totally into it and created a cheerfully creepy visage. I love these kind of mash ups, and was totally rooting for her in the costume contest.
I was happy to see so many fifty cent bins and even managed to plow through the single quarter box at the show, scoring a stack of vertigo books I’d always meant to check out and finding the completing issue of two different mini-series I’d been collecting. The vendor knocked a dollar off the already deeply discounted books and even better, he offered to hold onto my bag until I was ready to leave so I wouldn’t have to lug it around in the bulky costume. God bless this dude.
I missed seeing a lot of the friends I regularly run into at this show, but still had a nice time at it. It’s not hard to make new aquantances in this environment. I’m always amused when I look out and see a bunch of heroes sitting at a table with the lunch they just bought at the snack bar, or playing a board game. It’s a surreal image. There were some artists I recognized from Woo-Con and Akron, as well as some great booths. I found one table full of Godzilla movies, along with a book on Japanese film. The LaGrange table was selling old theater signs and there was an amazing selection of He-Man toys in the back. That’s really what the Harper shows are about – interesting buys and good shopping.It’s a nice little con with good deals and interesting artists, and that’s why I keep coming back.
Every Wednesday and Friday
While I’m a fan of the Conjuring movies, I hadn’t gotten around to the Annabelle ones until recently, but when I got invited to an advance screening of Annabelle Comes Home, I figured it was time to change that, so I sat down and watched both Annabelle and Annabelle Creation before heading out to the film preview. It’s a great universe James Wan has created here, growing it slowly and organically. It works and while the Annabelle films aren’t perfect, they’ve always been good sequel fodder. Annabelle Comes Home changes all of that.
This movie is not only a great sequel, it’s also a great film in of itself. That’s a hard trick to pull off, but this move manages to fit into the mythology and push it forward, while simultaneously standing alone quite well and giving us a movie that is every bit as terrifying as the first Conjuring was.
I went into the film cold and was genuinely surprised to see Ed and Lorraine Warren so prominently featured. They don’t stick around long and are gone before the midpoint of the first act, but it’s organic – you don’t really even notice their exit (kind of like those “lite” episodes of Doctor Who, like Blink, where the Doctor is really just a supporting character and not really in the episode) as the focus shifts to their daughter Judy, and her two teen babysitters as they spend a terrifying night in the Warren’s home. The premise is simple; what if all those things locked away in the Warren’s occult museum clawed their way out of their basement for the night? In this way, the film trances the Annabelle franchise and becomes something more. It’s not really ANNABELLE comes home, but rather Annabelle COMES HOME.
While the previous Annabelle films have been somewhat doll-centric, focusing on the doll and the evil spirit that travels with it (It’s not really the doll that’s the evil – this isn’t Chucky, rather the doll is an avatar and a conduit for demonic entity(s) in these films) this movie unleashes a whole host of evil spirits, ghosts and demonic influences. This is a hardcore HAUNTING and it is terrifying. McKenna Grace in particular turns out a brilliant performance as 12-year-old Judy Warren, a role that requires a level of intensity that should be beyond her years. She thwarts the evil with prayers and crosses and is every bit a match for Annabelle herself.
The film never fails to be creepy, even when we’re doing the getting to know you thing in the second act, with laughs and aw shucks moments (Pizza Delivery guy, YOU’RE THE REAL MVP!) you can feel the dread creeping through, and by the time we hit act three, everything has turned upside down. I watched the movie with a rowdy audience and as things rapidly spun out of control they shrieked and screamed in disbelief.
I understand why they didn’t want to open against Toy Story 4 and the Child’s Play reboot, but man, it may have been worth the risk, because this just blows them out of the water. Absolutely, DO NOT miss this film. Annabelle Comes Home opens in theaters June 26th
I bet you didn’t know that James Wan directed a Death Wish film did you?
Actually, that takes some explaining.
You see, there’s actually a sequel to the Death Wish book. The author, Brian Garfield, wasn’t entirely happy with the way the film turned out and wrote Death Sentance to rebut it and continue Paul’s story himself. 32 years later, there’s a film adaption (I know. I don’t get it either).
This is actually a pretty impressive cast. I mean Kevin Bacon is fine, and James Wan is always the mark of quality. Fun to see Aiesha Taylor from Who’s Line (Although, Man does she look a lot different than usual! That severe pullback hair doo…)but you show me John Goodman I am on board! Goodman is brilliant by the way, as the gang mentor – it’s a bizarre performance and totally unlike anything else I’ve seen him do before. I am consistently in awe of this man’s range.
Interesting, for the first time the main characters is accountant (Which was Paul’s profession in the novel, not architect) though he still hasn’t got the same name from the book.
We’re well into the movie when we get to our tragedy. Using the old flashing-headlights-initiation-killing urban legend is a really interesting way of updating for the 21 st century. I’m glad that we are going up against street thugs once again. After a few films of the vigilante going out to the mafia, I like that we’re going back to basics. Death Sentance has created a street gang with all the charisma and distinctive look from the first Death Wish films, well making them distinctly modern.
What’s interesting is Kevin Bacon succeeds everywhere that Bruce Willis failed for me. I completely buy his internal conflict, how difficult it is for him to begin his revenge. I totally accept his reluctance and clumsiness with his weapon (indeed, the early kills are almost accidental) and it makes sense because this is a revenge drama and not an action like the 2018 Death Wish was. It’s important to remember this because it doesn’t move fast like an action film does, or like a Death Wish film does. There is a great deal more attention paid to the family dynamics – with the family member who has been killed, and Bacon really sells it in one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from him. When we had a home invasion, I’d swear we’re at the end of the third act when in actuality it’s only the second and the third act is just beginning.
It’s that last 30 minutes, and I kind of wish that it had come earlier. But come back to the original premise – this really isn’t a action movie, it’s a revenge drama. Sure there are some action elements, but that’s not the thrust of the film.
It’s worth waiting for though, very much worthy of the Death Wish legacy. By the way, fans of The Crow are going to notice A great deal of influence from that here too. Someone needs to get James Wan on that reboot Because this film convinces me he’s the man for that job.
There is a greater sense of finality in this film, something that I never truly feel from the Death Wish movies. That may actually make it the most fitting way to end this marathon. I’m glad I saw it, I’m glad I saw all of them. It was long overdue.
Aw crap. What do you mean I didn’t see ALL of them? and why are you speaking in German? (*sigh* We’ll be back with more)
Every Wednesday and Friday
It’s been awhile since I’ve really had something on TV to kind of gush about.I miss the days when Doctor Who was appointment television – it hasn’t been that way for a while now, and the Walking Dead is still around but kind of a shadow of it’s former self.
I’ve been planning on watching Good Omens, but haven’t got the opportunity until this past weekend – the freedom of fathers day gave me enough time to binge this and it far exceeded my expectations.
I remember picking up the book from the library when it first came out, and not really getting too far into it… It seems like a good idea, and I always did dig Neil Gaiman, (ont as much Terry Pratchet. I know, heresy, but discworld just wasn’t my thing) and a number of my friends liked it. I just never got terribly far into it. After watching this, I may have to give it another try.
The thing that strikes me so much about this end of the world comedy about a Demon and Angel attempting to prevent Armageddon, it that it looks so cinematic. It feels like summer blockbuster – even more so than the actual summer blockbusters of recent years. There are moments where I see David Tennant’s demon Crowley and he is so very perfectly framed and lit that I feel like I’m watching one of the set pieces out of some movie commercial I’ve been watching for the past two months – you know what I mean? It’s that excitement that we used to get from seeing Jurassic Park posters all over the place, along with promotional items at the local fast food joint and larger-than-life stand-ups in every theatre.It feels epic and big and I genuinely can’t think of another actor who could’ve pulled this off in such a massive scope. Honestly, every bit of casting here is well done, I didn’t even realize that was Michael McKeon as a witchfinder general until the credits rolled! Brian Cox as death is another welcome familiar, well not face… But his voice and presence I certainly felt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Michael Sheen in anything before, but his angel Aziraphale is a pitch perfect foil for Tennant’s Crowley and the two have an undeniable chemestry. The effects are top-notch, and the entire series just leaves me wanting to see more of these two characters. Even watching young Sam Taylor Buck play the 11 year old antichrist, all I could think was that this kid was going places – probably not too far from becoming a leading man in a few years.
If I have any criticisms, it would be my opinion that wordy British humor sometimes dosen’t translate onto screen. Those long asides that are perfectly hilarious in print can stop the pacing of a show flat. It happens occasionally here, and Pratchetts influence reminds me a lot of Douglas Adams same meandering style of tangent. It’s a minor quibble in an otherwise excellent series.
Seriously, I can’t recommend Good Omens enough. It’s a good enough incentive to get Amazon Prime (That and the fact that it has the entire run of Dark Shadows!), even if only for a month (long enough to watch the six episodes of Good Omens). As soon as there is a DVD release of this thing, I’m going to be there on day one!
Joel swore that he’d never go on the convention circuit, but I think he’s been finding that this, along with the Turky Day marathon is truly some of the best promotion he can get for the newer MST3K releases. He’s one of the ultimate horror hosts, so I was really stoked to meet him and get this!
Every Wednesday and Friday
We get some j horror up next with voices. It has a strong opening that makes me think of poltergeist with more blood and is a good way to wash the taste of the last horrorfest movie out of my mouth. We head directly to a Japanese high school, complete with all the stereotypes you can expect from one of these films. There is a wedding coming up this weekend. Well there WAS a wedding, until the bride jumped off the balcony and slammed into the floor.
I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m still engaged – in no small part because I wanna get to that scene I witnessed at the beginning. Besides, the hospital the bride is being treated in is incredibly creepy in a ghost story kind of way… and what happens next is quite bloody.
Indeed, Voices is full of brilliant bloody imagery, creepy dream sequences and moves at a nicely quick pace, maybe too quickly as I sometimes give confused as to what was going on. I’m not sure if the schoolgirl main character is cursed or haunted here, but it’s certainly never drags.
All around our ingenue, people are dying or trying to kill her as she searches for answers. For someone familiar with anime or Japanese film, this movie is comfort food. Everything, the themes, characters, all of it is very familiar. That’s not a bad thing by the way, it’s everything I want from a horror film. Its supernatural with blood and character. Indeed, it’s exactly the sort of thing that made J horror popular in the early to thousands – and I imagine of all the films in this set, this is the ne I’m most likely to revisit!
Every Wednesday and Friday
Every Wednesday and Friday
Lost Nation Comic Convention premiered in Willoughby this weekend, a small show with big ambitions. The promoter of this show has been around the con scene for a while and knew the lay of the land long before trying to throw his own show. The big ambition shows in his choice of Guest of Honor, bringing in the legendary Jim Shooter.
This may have been the wrong weekend for such a show, with Colossalcon siphoning off a great deal of potential attendees. The venue at Lost Nation Sports Park was confusing and I found myself not sure where to go in at. A Soccer tournament was going on at the same time, further confusing and complicating traffic. Fortunately I spotted Deadpool by a door adorned with yellow balloons and rushed over there where I was ushered in. As you go in you had to go down a short hallway, past the restaurant and into a large empty antechamber before finding the path to the basketball court (adjacent to the indoor batting cages) where the show was located at. I wondered the entire time if I were in the wrong place, only slightly reassured by occasional signs for Lost Nation Comic Con.
Once inside though, I was greeted by a nice smattering of vendors and artists. I was really digging the toy vibe here, grabbing a figure from the NEO-TACC booth as well as some Nintendo game figurines for my arcade cabinet. Heroes United had set up both a green screen and a Star Wars backdrop for people to take photos at with props and their characters. Son of Ghoul set up in the center, the R2 builder club had an R2D2 on display while another vendor brought a video game system. in another corner, a DJ spun tunes (light rock – office music). Jim Shooter was over at his table, talking endlessly with guests. CBCS graded items and a small but steady flow of people filtered through the area. When the Ghostbuster theme came on, Tracy the Ape ran over to dance.
The panels were intimate. Jim Shooter sat in a comfy chair while a dozen or fewer people gathered around him on bleachers. He shared stories about breaking into the industry, working for Mort Wisenger and his time on Superman. At thirteen he was sending stories to DC, figuring if he could write like Marvel, it was something DC didn’t have and would want. He recalled this drawing ire from Batman creator Bob Kane and others at DC – but not Mort. Mort rode him hard, but behind his back would tell everyone how Shooter could take any story and turn it into something usable.
Towards the end of both days, there was a costume contest, but the low turnout made it a small lineup. Each person had a minuet or two to pose, then the whole line paraded around the con floor. Back at the lineup the DJ spun the Cha-Cha Slide for the contestants to dance to while the judges deliberated. By the time 4:00 rolled around, Lost Nation made an announcement letting vendors know they could tear down a little early. As I was getting ready to leave, someone tapped me n the shoulder and asked me to visit JCW Graphix booth and that they had something for me. Confused, I wandered over with my monkey head in my hands. The artist greeted me and gave me a sketch that he had drawn of me during the convention.
“When you see a monkey dressed in a Ghostbuster costume, you HAVE to draw that!” I was blown away. It’s one of my favorite take-aways from a con, ever.
There were several vendors that didn’t make both days and this hurt the con as much as the date and confusing venue. Hopefully this can all be chalked up to first year growing pains, and I really dug the vendors who were there both days. Good artist and good vendors make for a fine show.
The promoter has already announced plans for next year. Personally, I’d like to see the show move to a smaller venue that can better support them and perhaps reduce it to a one day show instead of a Saturday and Sunday. I’d liek to see more flyers and more networking to get he word out. It’s a small show and will grow best if it embraces that (for the time being). I’m eager to see where Lost Nation goes from here.
Every Wednesday and Friday
“I’m so glad to know I’m in the right place,” the guy told me as he got out of his car. I bobbed my head up and down in the monkey costume and was greeted by a young woman at the entrance to the hotel.
“I have no idea who you are,” the girl told me, “but I love you.”
Tracy the Ape was feeling very welcome here at retro invasion
Retro invasion weekend is a small convention in its first year in Westlake, one of the shortest drives from my house ever – a mere 20 minutes on the freeway, closer than my office commute actually. They also had the curious distinction of being held in the same hotel where I attended my first Star Trek convention, so it was good vibes all around.
I really dig the philosophy here, Retro Invasion was holding a reunion for the film Just One of the Guys, as well as attempting to hold a Sleepaway Camp reunion. Going for weird little films that were not necessarily mainstream horror but still running with the horror vibe really makes for an interesting convention…
Because it’s their first year, one can understand that there’s going to be some problems… A number of their issues were not their fault, but then again there were also plenty of problems that were. Let’s start with the stuff that wasn’t their fault
Retro Invasion had been plagued with unfortunate cancellations. The first guest to bow out was Courtney Gains who played one of the murderous children in Children of the Corn. His dropping out had been announced months earlier so while it was disappointing, it was expected. However it also appears that Felissa Rose and Kathrine Kamhi cancelled quite late in the game, and this was not adequately advertised. I only knew because I’ve made a habit to repeatedly check convention websites just before the show (Because of what happened way back in 2012 with North Coast Comic Con). I saw more than a few people wandering around in Camp Arawak shirts still expecting the Sleepaway Camp reunion that was no longer going to happen. It also will have seriously cut into the convention’s income as they were offering a special Sleepaway Camp photo op in costume – it was actually reasonably priced and I was actually considering taking advantage of it (and we all know I NEVER do these things).
In any event, the guest cancellations had to have affected attendance. Another factor was Colossalcon happening the same weekend. While there is not a ton of crossover there, I can imagine it weakened the support a bit. None of these things are the shows fault, however there were serious organization problems that really showed
The dealers room was small and cramped. One vendor, upon seeing how tight the room was, asked the promoter if you could just set up his booth in the hallway instead, creating an entire little alcove near the registration desk for his wares. The room itself was divided into three aisles, but you could only access the middle aisle by going behind the tables on the end caps and slipping between that and the tables on the outer aisle… Someone had marked the path with bright pink duck tape arrows on the carpet – nevertheless it was difficult enough to get through that the vendors in the middle aisle were really feeling shafted… And wern’t shy about expressing their displeasure. To get a better feel for the place, check out Neon Trash’s video review (My monkey ghostbuster actually opens the video)
Panels and films were held in a completely different part of the hotel – a problem the late and lamented Shinbokucon used to have. Motor City Nightmares manages to make this work, with photo ops and one of their two movie rooms occurring on a different floor, however the second movie room on that floor only shows skullhouse pictures – their own work. For them, it’s overflow rather than main attraction. With Retro Invasion, the movie room and the panel room were both on the third floor, over in the other side of the hotel. This made for a lot of walking back and forth, and neiter room was adequately marked. After some walking, I found the panel room because the door was open, but I had to ask two different people to find the movie room. It would’ve helped have had these two locations marked with large “Retro Invasion” signs as well as schedules posted outside those doors.
Still, I can’t complain. The film selections were fun and the panels were well done – by the numbers, but on the other hand I had no idea how much fun it would be to watch Danny Hicks and Robert Kurtzman bounce off each other. Retro Invasion offered good programming, but it’s way too hard to figure out where that programming is actually LOCATED.
Overall, the convention was very lightly attended, which will make it difficult for them to secure vendor’s for thier next show. At one point, a panel was announced over the loudspeaker. One of the vendor’s voices rang out “And you’ll have NO PROBLEM finding a seat!”. Around noon, a lot of the vendors in the small room began tearing down and giving up for the day – that’s never a good sign.
I really did enjoy my time at Retro Invasion, though I think the $30 ticket price is a little high for what they offer. I would however, really like to see them succeed – I seriously dig having a horror convention so close to home and like the quirky philosophy that they seem to bring to their show. They’ve scheduled a second go around later this year – on Nov 1-3. Nevertheless, they’re going to have a hard time finding vendors for a second year and unless this show gets better very quickly, it’s going to vanish.
I’ll be back in November. Let’s see what happens.
No, seriously. This happened.