Every Wednesday and Friday
I had considered trying to do all the Riddick movies in one post. There could really be an exploration of where things went wrong, but as I got further into these I discovered more and more material… Enough to justify a full round of franchise Focus.
Riddick begins with Pitch Black… A story that fails to even bear his name. Pitch black is a straightforward tale, shipwreck in space, marooned on a world with a bunch of nasty predators. Straightforward, but they manage to pull this off brilliantly with a cast of characters that you can’t help but cheer for, and a villain that you almost want to root for. Riddick is not the central character here, although he does steal every scene he’s in. This is a straightforward horror film, with some sci-fi elements much in the vein of alien. The creature designs are brilliant, with a frightening sense of realism and just a touch of gore. It manages to push all the right buttons, one in particular is in making the ships ugly! I miss ugly ships, it was one of the big selling points for me with the aliens films. The outsides might be a little shinier, but the insides are full of rust and dirt and grit and chains and leather and it’s just beautiful.
I feel like somebody really cared about this movie. They were trying to tell a story they had a specific tale that they wanted to spin and they created great characters to weave it around. For my money this should have been the next great sci-fi horror, and I’ve always been a little disappointed that it wasn’t. But then again by the time we return to this material we find that the series has changed into something completely different.
More on that next time.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Art the Clown himself!
I came into work this morning to the devastating news that Sid Haig is gone. I knew he’d been in the hospital, we all thought he was getting better, but lets face it – he hasn’t looked well in a long time.
His wife broke the news this morning.
On Saturday, September 21, 2019, my light, my heart, my true love, my King, the other half of my soul, Sidney, passed from this realm on to the next. He has returned to the Universe, a shining star in her heavens. He was my angel, my husband, my best friend and always will be. He adored his family, his friends and his fans. This came as a shock to all of us.
We, as a family, are asking that our privacy and time to mourn be respected.
Sidney Eddie Mosesian
7/14/39 – 9/21/19
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Friend.
Goodnight, my love. We will find each other again, next time. I love you.
Rob Zombie chimed in as well.
Last night I received a phone call I was dreading from Bill Moseley, He told me that our friend Sid Haig had died. It was shocking but unfortunately not unexpected. I’ve know for a long time how sick Sid was and what he was battling. Over the past year as I saw pictures of him still attending conventions I thought perhaps he had beat it, but last week when he returned to the hospital I feared the worst.
Sid and I had a long talk on the day that he told me of his condition and he knew 3 From Hell would most likely be his last appearance on screen. Sadly it was. I knew it was very important to Sid that Captain Spaulding make one more round and he did. Sid’s time the film is brief. He was in rough shape that day, but he gave it his all and made his scene very memorable.
I was fan of his as a kid watching Jason of Star Command all the way through our twenty years of working together. I can still clearly remember the first time we met. It was at the Edith Head Costume building at Universal. Sid came out of the dressing room wearing a clown suit which was a few sizes too small. We said hello then we both started laughing at how ridiculous he looked in his ill-fitting suit. We would find him a much better suit.
As we were making House Of 1000 Corpses neither of us knew he was creating a character that would live on and grow in popularity every year. Sid told me many times how thankful he was for the Captain and how that character changed his life. He had completely given up on acting and now suddenly had found a whole new audience at the age of 60. I know he was thrilled and blown away by that fact.
The Captain is gone… but he will never be forgotten.
Rest in Peace Sid
This is a tough one. I knew Sid. So did a number of my friends. We’re both regulars n the con circuit and it’s going to feel empty with him no longer around.
When Madeline and I hit Hazard Con earlier this year, a booth was there promoting Great Lakes Geek Fest. It’s a new convention this year which definitely catches my interest, but being in Geneva, Ohio, I knew it was going to be a bit of a haul getting out there. As the event approached, I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to go or not – I was debating up until Saturday morning in fact. It just so happens that my family had other plans and would be gone for the day, so I decided I might as well give this new show a shot.
I’m never a big fan of a show using the word “geek” in the title, but I try not to let that prejudice me too much. What was really turning me off though, was the fact that the schedule of events took so long to get posted. I saw several announcements that there’d be panels and games and a costume contest, but the show never posted a schedule until 15 hours before the show began. I kind of need more notice than that to decide whether I want to go to a show – especially if I have any of the kids with me. For this reason, I was reluctant to go and definitely wasn’t bringing Maddie or Lydia with me., since there was no way for me to know if there’d be enough activity to keep their short attention spans occupied ( a good call by the way, I don’t think there was).
The layout was a turn off as well. The action was separated across two buildings – Great Lakes Geek Fest had secured a community center as well as the gym of the local Rec Center. The end result makes the convention look smaller than it is. Neither of these venues could have accommodated all of the vendors the show had secured, but at the same time, there weren’t enough tables to completely fill up I both venues the end result was both buildings ended up looking a little empty, with not quite enough vendors or attendees. To further complicate the situation, these two buildings weren’t exactly close to each other. There’s about a block and a half walk you’re the middle of the town to get from one to the other, including crossing the Main Street in Geneva. This is particularly challenging if you’re wearing a costume, and God help you if you have any sort of anxiety.
The convention tried to spin the layout in a positive way, “it’s a short walk, and there’s plenty of places to stuff your face between the two buildings!” It’s actually a good angle, and if they could secure the cooperation of local businesses, perhaps set up a table or two outside and make it into an actual Festival, this might actually turn it into something unique (it’d be a difficult task, and a big ambition). Indeed, some of my more curious encounters happened during my trips up and down the street. At one point a woman on the back seat of the motorcycle her Man was riding paused at the stop light to take photos. Later on, one of the other attendees rushed up to me for a photo. We had stopped in front of the large front window of a local restaurant and while he tried in vain to bring up his photo app, a little girl inside the restaurant noticed me in the Mr. Freeze suit. Her eyes grew wide and I waved. She smiled and waved back, to the amusement of her mother. This could be fun if the walk could somehow be incorporated into the con experience. however, if this isn’t possible, then I’d rather see them fill up a single venue and get everybody under the same roof.
Great Lakes Geek Fest impressed me with an impressive variety of vendors. There were volunteer groups and jewelry makers, action figures and artists, candy and comic books. Outside there were giant replicas of a TIE fighter, Dalek, and X-Wing dot-dot-dot but a shame that I couldn’t locate them in the confusing layout until the show was nearly over. There weren’t as many comic book vendors as I would have liked to have seen, though the ones who were there were recognizable and reliable (Shout out to my local comic shop Comics are Go! for setting up out there!). I’m still regretting passing on that Battle Armor Skeletor I saw in the Adam’s Action Figures booth, and had to grab some unicorn poop for the kids from the candy booth. No real deals in the comic boxes, the best you would do was a dollar a book on some indie titles.
After driving an hour and twenty minuets to get to the con, as I was suiting up I realized something terrible. I had chosen to bring Mr. Freeze out, it was Batman Day after all, but as I reached in my car to start assembling the freeze gun I was astonished to see that I’d forgotten the main body. The lightsaber that powers it was there, so was the front barrel- a clear cylinder made from a soda bottle. But the main body was still back at home, sitting on my pool table, 77 miles away. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to settle for just the soda-bottle-on-a-stick as my freeze gun (Ironically, I’d recently rescued an intrestingly shaped vodka bottle from the street to use as just this kind of hand held smaller freeze gun. I should have just gone with that). I was a little embarrassed (luckily you can’t see in in the dome helmet with all the condensation!) but people actually really seemed to dig it and were amused at the kitsch of it.
I managed to catch several of the panels, listening to the tail end of the Kirby panel and sitting through about half of the Batman at 80 panel. This was fun, because the moderator was pointing out some interesting facts about Mr. Freeze, in deference to me being in the room! I had no idea that Mr. Freeze had first appeared in a Blackhawk comic! it’s these kinds of obscure facts that you’re only going to get at a con. These were well thought out and good stuff. Earlier in the day there had been some games as well – things like comic price is right and jeopardy, which looked like fun (but too early for me to get out to).
In addition to good programming, Great Lake also drew a very friendly crowd. It didn’t hurt that I had a couple of friends there, but I was also able to chat forever with the local Deadpool as we compared notes about the way our respective unicorns work…no, really. He gave me some ideas for an internal mechanism involving pringles cans and epoxy. I got to pose for fight pictures with an excellent Wonder Woman and was impressed to see a curious genderbent Joker – actually, not so much a Joker as a “Partyman” from the 1989 Prince song that accompanied the Batman film. Her face lit up when I recognized the look and she told me I was the only on who had know what it was! Today she was going as Party Ma’am, and I was delighted that my knowing the character had made her day.
The costume contest was held outside which actually helped me see better in those dark wielder goggles I wear. I chatted with Zatanna before drifting towards the DC group to hang out (I only knew one person but that didn’t matter. We were still all bonded by out costume choices). I always say that this is my favorite part of any costume contest, just hanging out and getting to know the other people there. I ended up chatting with the person in front of me all the way up until he had to dash on stage for judging! We cheered on the kids and teenagers competing as the sun began to get low and the entire DC group spontaneously decided we need a group photo. It was a good day.
Despite having some issues, Great Lakes Geek Fest ended up being a nice time. There was a steady stream of attendees, never empty, but never full either. I’m hoping that the bumps in the road were just first year growing pains. It’s a good local con in an area that could use exactly this type of show. The long drive may keep me from coming back immediately, but I definitely want to sit and watch this one grow, get better and eventually take over the world.
Every Wednesday and Friday
Slaughter starts out with cringe inducing country music and flashes of a girl tied by her hands and feet, being drug somewhere… We know don’t where.
My first reaction is “is this another redneck cannibal movie? Because I feel like I just saw this in the other box set”
We cut to a couple of young women driving into the city, so I’m hoping that it’s not exactly a backwoods Hillbilly horror.
Our ingenue is starting over a new apartment, running away from an abusive relationship – she almost immediately makes new friend in the city invites round to her country home. The farm turns into a convenient hiding place when the ex-boyfriend tracked her down.
The new roommate and friend is little bit of a party girl and man eater. But dire things happen to her hookups. Pigs At the farm are hungry. We only get glimpses of the farms patriarch – father and daughter don’t get along, and our ingenue is a bit of an interloper. The situation feels almost as dangerous as the one she is leaving. Dangerous secrets lay hidden behind metal doors in the barn, building she is forbidden to enter, but that she cannot resist.
There is a greater story about abuse here that’s hidden in the background – it’s terrible and really pushes this more towards the “message movie” style than the allegory I think it’s meant to be. You can see by the torture porn in the third act and the mild twist at the end that this really wants to be a horror film… or at least a different kind of film than what it is.
The third act drags – that’s saying something considering there’s so much action, but they’re trying to go to many different directions at once and a good chunk of this probably should’ve happened in the second act leaving the very most frightening parts for the finale.
The uneven tone in Slaughter makes me unlikely to revisit this film, but it’s not bad. There is a good story in here somewhere, but I think needed to be better thought out.
Every Wednesday and Friday
It’s that time of year again when the monsters crawl out of the darkness to come and haunt Lakewood.
I’ve been doing these for the better part of a decade, and this time around I had my daughter with me. She’s been getting more and more into the cosplay scene this year and decided she wanted to pull her monster cupcake out of storage for this event. The costume had to be altered to fit her (She’s grown a lot in in two and a half years) but once we added some extra frosting and accessorized with a chainsaw, she was ready to go!
For my own part, I wanted to do something related to Friday the 13th (which had been the previous day). The thing is, I have always been way more of a Freddy guy than a Jason guy (More of a Dracula fan than a Frankenstein one too fora that matter). I ended up doing a hybrid – Freddy vs. Jason. Half on each side.
A lot of the zombie walks out there have gone by the wayside. It’s fallen out of fashion, but the event at the 5 O’Clock Lounge shows no signs of slowing down. I’m glad. It’s a great charity event and was one of the ways I taught my children about giving and service that’s not just confined to Sunday mornings at Church. As long as they keep holding these zombie themed food drives, I’ll keep on showing up. See you in the spring!
I’ve done both Pinhead and skinless Frank, and loved compositing the two together. I’m my own hellraiser movie all by myself….
A god vs a devil….
Every Wednesday and Friday
For the most part, when it comes to franchise focus I really have tried to stick with films that are a little outside the mainstream. You know, weird movies that have inexplicable franchises. Not so with Riddick. Despite being a failed franchise, most people instantly recognize Vin Diesel as Riddick and have seen at least one of the films on cable. So why go this direction? Something about these films enchants me – perhaps it’s the set design, perhaps it’s the character itself. In a lot of ways these movies remind me of old, ugly and gritty sci-fi, and that’s something that we don’t get enough of that in the 21st-century.
Nevertheless, the reason this ended up being a series instead of one article either in the “Defense of “category or the “case against” category is because once I started digging little deeper into the series I discovered there was more to it than I had realized – maybe even a little bit more to it then you realize.
Next time, will get started with the excellent first entry, and The movie that made me a fan of then diesel… and let you in on a little secret, it’s not the fast and the furious!
Every Wednesday and Friday
I actually got out to see It : Chapter Two on opening weekend (Big thanks to Joe Ostrica and Retro Invasion Weekend for hooking me up with tickets!). I’m not going to review it – there’s plenty of reviews out there already by people more qualified than me, but I do have some thoughts. (With only the mildest of spoilers regarding theme)
My buddy Steph spotted me as I was headed into the Atlas Midway theater. and greeted me with “There’s a surprise in there for you!” I looked at her quizzically then proceeded to the box office. I spotted Jen getting popcorn and headed to say hello. As I passed the doors a demonic clown emerged from a darkened corner to haunt me. My wife laughed and asked which of my crew this guy was. I shook my head and pointed out that all of my friends were accounted for. This dude wasn’t one of us!I love that Atlas Midway does this sort of thing, and it made my night before I even got into the movie.
I actually saw the first chapter twice (after the movie, I lamented to my friend Chris that I really should have done a rewatch before chapter two), and I found it terrifying both time. Repeated viewings didn’t lessen the impact that Bill Skarsguard’s Pennywise had on me. I still jumped at all the right times and it was a rare almost perfect horror film.
Chapter two is good. It really is, but it’s not quite as good as the first one and I’m not sure why. Pennywise is just as brutal a predator, but somehow I find him a touch less spooky this time around. Stephen King once tried to define the types of horror –
“The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”
It Chapter two gives us plenty of the first two, but in a lot of ways I feel like the third is missing.
I try very hard not to compare these movies to the 1990 TV version starring Tim Curry. This isn’t a remake (any more than Christopher Lee’s Dracula is a remake of Bela Lugosi’s) However, comparison seems invited when the movie redoes some it’s set pieces. The reunion in the Chinese restaurant (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the trailer) works better for me in the TV movie because everything is practical. Chapter two fills the scene with CGI, and it feels less…real. Indeed, in a lot of ways, I feel like the characters are underdeveloped. Despite the longer run time in these films, the 1990 version seemed to explore the characters deeper. This may be more about a reliance on writing and storytelling rather than glitz and FX. That certainly feels like what the Chinese restaurant scene falls victim to. The same can be said for Beverly Marsh’s trip back to her old home and tea with the old lady. This scene at least, has the rationale of bringing the stylistic horror into it’s own patter and retelling the scene in such a way that it fits Chapter two’s aesthetic.
That’s really at the heart of this film. It’s at it’s best when it does it’s own thing and shies away from what we’ve seen before. There’s elements added (such as a deadline – this is the last chance the Losers will have to destroy Pennywise) and the ending has been changed up from what we’ve seen before. With all the alterations, you can’t be sure who will live and who will die. It still maintains the structure and heart of the characters, but rewrites the details to create something unique. It’s effective too. Clocking in at just under three hours, the film flies by. It doesn’t just justify the run time, it transcends it. The entire approach takes familiar material and makes it unpredictable – ultimately a satisfying approach.
With the film being as big a success as it has been, Entertainment Weekly is already floating the idea of a third film in it’s recent interview with Bill Skarsgard. He’s up for a prequel and honestly, it may be the one and only time I’d be on board myself. I’d personally like to see the first time IT took on the identity and persona of Pennywise, and explore some of that history Mike Hanlon recounts as the losers folklorist. Anything other than that though, I’d prefer they leave well enough alone. This run has been mre than satisfactory for me and my friends!
Every Wednesday and Friday
Perkins 14 – the name alone has my interest, and look at that pulp style poster! Sadly, there is nothing you do with Anthony Perkins or Psycho or anything like that. Honestly, the film starts as a Silence of the Lambs wannnabe with a prisoner who might have information on the sheriffs lost children. As he plays mind games with him, things come to a head and the sheriff takes revenge– that’s when the film turns into The Crazies. Once the madness hits, killers are activated somehow, and things get bloody fast. Still, it’s a long wait, trying to get to get to the good stuff. Honestly, my recommendation for this is the skip to the halfway point and bypass the psychological and emotional drama. It just doesn’t resonate (and I’m a guy who likes drama). I really wish this wasn’t the first movie in the collection I’d seen – it doesn’t bode well.
Every Wednesday and Friday