The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Archive for October, 2019

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Happy Halloween!

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Batman at Wayne Manor

 

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858

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Chronicles of Riddick

franchisebannerindex.jpgDid they actually intended for this series to be a franchise? Seriously, because this film makes me kind of think that wasn’t the plan. One of the biggest problems with Chronicles of Riddick is that it’s such a drastic departure from Pitch Black. Pitch black is a very small story. The premise is there the danger is all around, but the only people that are going to die are the ones who were shipwrecked. With Chronicles of Riddick the stakes are up to planet destroying, universe killing levels. The necromongers, our villains for this story, are a universal threat. Also, we’re rooting for the bad guy from the last movie.

Already I’m seeing some problems in the formula.

The formula is a big part of the problem here as well, because there isn’t one. Let me rephrase that, if there is a formula… we’ve gone off book and are trying to find a new index1.jpgone. Pitch Black work because it was a smaller story. A narrower focus and a genuinely good idea. This reads more of a by-the-numbers studio film trying to recapture the magic of the previous movie and the result is just a mess.

It’s a shame too because the film is lush. I mean it is beautiful, gaudy, the design is brilliant! I love the Necromonger masks with multiple faces and their shoulder pads with the ornate portraits. The ships are awe inspiring as they land on the worlds they are going to destroy (unless Riddick stops them). And yet the entire film feels vapid – like we’ve put the least possible amount of effort into telling a good story. You see, that’s what Pitch Black really was, just a good story. It’s  really why I come back to this question of whether or not they intended to turn this into a franchise because that’s exactly what Chronicles is… and attempt to launch a franchise. They even went as images.jpgfar as to release the animated feature Dark Fury… Sort of a guaranteed trilogy, just in case things fell through.

Things fell through.

I want to like this, it’s just too long and too much of a slog to get through on a regular basis… There’s no rewatchability here, whereas I can view Pitch Black endlessly.

That should have been the end of things, but Vin Diesel had other plans and fought tirelessly to keep this series alive. More on that next later.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Doug Bradley

Autographs

While I’ve focused mainly on my Hellraiser poster for autographs, over the years, I’ve acquired a few individual items over the years.

This VHS was on sale at the thrift store for about three dollars. The shopkeep assumed the name on the box belonged to the owner of the tape, not the star.

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Bay-Con

Conman74322974_2778619058849166_4598402414725300224_nIt was a last-minute decision for me to head over to Bay-Con. The family was going to be gone for the afternoon and I figured I could spare an hour or so to check out this new micro-convention.

Jeff Ritchie is a regular at Carol and John’s comic shop, and has done a number of pieces of art for events such as free comic book day and the Christmas party. This was his brainchild, and he gathered together some familiar faces and a bunch of the usual suspects to set up a little family event in Bay Village. It’s a very small affair, and reminds me a great deal of some of the library events that we’ve seen of late – things like WEPLcon or Geekfest.

As I approached I stopped and chatted with Stephen from the Ghostbusters: Cleveland division. I hadn’t realized they were going to be at this event and I took the opportunity to take some photos with his Ecto-M car. When I entered the building, I was warmly greeted by a storm trooper. At first I figured it was my friend Jonathan, but soon realized I didn’t actually know this person. He was just a really friendly welcoming presence that  made you feel very at home coming into the convention. On the walls were various artworks by the students of BAYarts, showcasing the talent of the area. Inside the Bay Arts Centre, I saw Rick and Jason set up in the alcove to promote their American Knight comic book, right next to Carol and John’s table where they were trying to get the word out about next weeks Halloweenfest promotion. Inside the building, about half a dozen vendors and crafters sold wares while a snack bar supplied concessions. In one corner easels were set up for people to come and sketch a Jedi who was graciously modelling for them. The convention spilled out into the patio area where NEOTACC had a table set up to sell toys. There were additional tables for painting and carving pumpkins as the hosts from Attack of the Podcast emceed trivia and panels.

This ended up being a charming little event. It’s a nice way to dip your toe in the culture and spend an hour or two on a Sunday afternoon. It’s got potential and is definately headed in the right direction. I’d love to see this grow and expand, and  I’d love to come back to another one.

 


856

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Wind Chill

boxpossesedindexI wasn’t sure what I was getting into here. At first it looked like it might be something like Adam Green’s “Frozen” but in a car instead of a ski lift. The movie starts out straightforward enough. A girl looking for a ride home from college for the Christmas break. As we drive along, the guy behind the wheel gets a little suspicious, like he knows just a bit to much about our heroine – having just met her. At this point I wonder if we’re going more for a stalker sort of film, but no. We end up with something completely different. When he decides to take the “scenic route” and get off the freeway, they find themselves run off the road by a mysterious car and stranded on a lost road in the middle of nowhere. The temperature is dropping to minus 30 degrees and the gas tank is cracked and leaking. Shapes move in the woods around them and  they begin to realize they are not alone in this haunted place.

Wind Chill is good. I mean really good. It knows when to creep you out and build imagessuspense, and when to hit you with a jump scare. The ghosts are done effectively and we are fed details of the curse and the history of this road slowly, a bit at a time. By the end of the movie we know everything that was going on and still end up chilled by it. I so love a well thought out film with such good scares. The characters are sympathetic and it’s quite strange that we get so attached to them considering the film doesn’t EVER GIVE THEM ANY NAMES. Nevertheless Emily Blunt does a fine job making a prissy popular girl into a sympathetic victim.

Of all the films on this set, this is the one I think I’ll be heading back to.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Lego Joker at the park

 

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Into Pitch Black

franchisebannerindex.jpgInto Pitch Black is a tie-in to the original film, an hour long special that was originally broadcast on the Syfy channel. They’ve done this kind of thing before, most notably with the Blair Witch Project, though this seems to have aged a little better. It helps a great deal that the world Riddick exists in is so vaguely defined, it allows them greater leeway in creating a sidequel.

Using a smattering of scenes from Pitch Black, we are given an overview of the film through the eyes of a contractor hiring a mercenary to find Riddick. Interspersed through the narrative are interviews with Riddick’s psychologist in prison as well as the prisoner who altered Riddick’s eyes. There’s a lot of digital overlay, computer screens and graphics to give it more of a documentary look when we’re not in the thick of the narrative. All of that actually gives it a great deal more atmosphere, and it needs it!

index2.jpgThe narrative component of this film looks cheap. I’m sure that’s because it was cheap, filmed on standing sets that were decorated with whatever clutter and junk was laying around. Leather coats, sunglasses and tank tops make up for the costumes, and the performances have all the skill and charm of a crime recreation on America’s Most Wanted. It’s slow and it drags, and at times it seems like it doesn’t know if it wants to be an adventure or a documentary. A straight documentary may have worked better, with screen static and quick cuts to hide the obviously low production values.

I recall this being either a special feature on a DVD or sold as a cheap oh VHS at Best Buy back in the day. These days you can find the entire thing up on YouTube and it’s really only worth watching as a curiosity.


Gemini Man

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71846608_2751257061585366_8466157989626118144_nGemini Man is being billed as an action movie. That’s not really a surprise, it’s pretty much what I would expect to see coming from a Will Smith movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. However, if Gemini Man is anything, it’s actually a thriller. That’s not to say that there isn’t action in the film, you’re never more aware that this is a Bruckheimer film then during a gun fight being held in the middle of a dirtbike chase through the streets of Columbia. There are plenty of fisticuffs and guns in the movie, but there’s a lot more silencers than I’m used to in a Bruckheimer flick. It’s kind of a thriller through that prism.

Will Smith faces-off with a younger clone of himself on the eve of his retirement. It’s a index.jpgsimple premise, but built up with a great deal more intrigue and espionage surrounding it. Smith himself is an odd choice for this role, he’s one of those actors, much like Tom Cruise or Johnny Depp who don’t visibly age. It would have made more sense with Clint Eastwood, who the script was originally written for in the 90’s. The real trick in this film is not so much trying to make Smith look young (with de-aging CGI), but rather trying to make him look older. Either they’ve added some gray or he’s stopped dying his hair. Either way there is a concerted effort to create a salt and pepper tone to his head and beard, as well as some extra ageing added through the conturing of his make up. Nevertheless, the age difference remains a great deal more subtle then I prefer for this type of film. Even more disconcerting is the young clone. While convincing, there’s somthing not right about it – images2.jpgespecially to of us who grew up watching the fresh Prince of Bel-Air and know what Will Smith looked like at this age… something is a bit off, though I doubt it will really throw off younger viewers.

Smith is still playing to type here, albeit an older and slightly more cynical version of himself. It’s much the same character that we saw him play in Suicide Squad. Benedict Wong is an excellent supporting cast, perfect when we need comic relief and reliable when we need back up. I’m most impressed though, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead. My main exposure to her is of course, Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, and that’s a bit of a problem. I absolutely hate the character of Ramona Flowers and that’s strange because in this film Winstead is so much more likeable. She elevates her images.jpgperformance and redeems herself from that role, giving us a competent female lead that is still likeable while being tough as nails. I kind of want to see more of Winstead now in other roles.

The film doesn’t really bother with a love story sub plot, it doesn’t have time. It’s self aware enough though to make it an issue – talking about how there are certain things you give up for the life of an assassin. It’s a good way of addressing the elephant in the room without catering to it.

If I have any real complaints it’s the negative way in which fathers are portrayed– Of images.jpgcourse the evil dude in charge of the clone isn’t a real father, even if he says he is, but I always bristle when fatherhood is kind of trashed in this manner.

Gemini Man is a good, fast paced, globetrotting thriller that will keep you engaged though you won’t find too many surprises here. Even the twist towards the end can be seen coming a mile away.

Gemini Man opens in theaters nationwide October 11.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Besties

Costume

When Lydia’s best friend Taylor comes over, dress up is always part of the sleepovers. However, my kids don’t necessarily dress up as princesses…..

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Cinema Wasteland fall 2019

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The problem with trying to blog about Cinema Wasteland is that by the time it’s over, I’m too exhausted to write about it. Add to that the family hauling me out to Cedar Pointe for Halloweekends on Sunday evening for haunted houses, and this morning I’m wiped.

72278817_2746662192044853_6358905892993236992_nThere were a number of films I wanted to catch this weekend, chief among them, two ridiculous pieces are about inanimate objects as monsters. Killer Cup 3-D was an outrageous piece of cinema, positing styrofoam coffee cups as killers. The evil cups would have faces carved and occasionally sculpted into them, as they attempted to eradicate humanity. One family survives, complete with remote control cup driven tank to help fight back. It only gets more ridiculous from there

This paired nicely with The Day After Gnomemorrow – which was a bizarre parody of Richard Matheson’s  I Am Legend, only instead of vampire like zombies we have garden gnomes attacking and killing any human they can find. This is pretty much exactly the kind of movie wasteland is all about.

I was excited to get a couple of new signatures on my Romero zombie posters, Christine Ford Romero in particular was wonderful to meet and hear her stories about George’s creative process. Also interesting was Christopher Neame. He is a character actor that’s been on all sorts of television (how did I not know he was in both the Flash and Human Target?), but maybe most notable for taking the lead as Johnny Alucard in Dracula 1972. It’s never been one of my favorites -I’m more a fan of 1970’s New York rather than 1970’s Chelsea or London.  Over the years however, the heavy occult influence has begun to appeal to me. Listening to Neame speak (in those gorgeous British tones)gave me a new 71514383_2745279575516448_5588972497685970944_n_2745279568849782appreciation for the film and what it was like to work with Peter Cushing.

“After a take, Christopher Lee would head back to his trailer and sing opera. But Cushing was really one of the guys… He is very warm and sociable with all of us. This was very shortly after his wife had died, and they were just absolutely devoted to one another.  After the shoot he gathered all of us together and told us that if it hadn’t been for this cast, all these wonderful young people, he couldn’t possibly made it through the film. It was something that touched my heart so greatly.”

72167514_2745279962183076_4698628530299207680_n_2745279952183077Of course Wasteland is one of those places I go to see friends twice a year from out of state, as well as the friends who are here year around. It’s a funny thing, as I’ve gotten older, I seem to be watching fewer films there because I get caught up hang out with people. You walk by the bar and someone calls the your name, then suddenly you’re looking down at your watch and realize that you’ve been chatting so long you’ve missed the first 45 minutes of The Green Slime. Wasteland is family.  You know what was really weird this time around? Even though Wasteland isn’t really a cosplay kind of show, it seemed like most of them were dressing up for the one show I wasn’t!

It’s always a great time to be had and a great atmosphere to be in. Wasteland provides me with films that I’d never know to seek out on my own, curious old fare like The Sorcerers, Vengeance of the Zombies (thanks Gunga Jim!) or newer indie films like Retribution. It’s this kind of stuff that I actually enjoy way 71669263_2745280135516392_1752640346631700480_n_2745280132183059more than the predictable things like Witchfinder General or Martin. I was also really digging that they were screening the entire first run of the Flash Gordon serial in several chunks over the course of the weekend.

We always top things off on Saturday night with games and general lunacy – A. Ghastlee Ghoul hosting impromptu readings of pulp trash novels, horror host dance offs, and the ever popular game “what’s in Jeff’s underpants!”

I tell you what, I should start taking Mondays after Wasteland off because I almost feel like I need another day to recover, but in the end, it’s just the medicine I need, twice a year, and I’ll be back in April.

 


852

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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Vinyan

boxpossesedindexLet me just say right off the bat, this movie isn’t for me. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just not my kind of thing and if I’d spotted it at the video store, I would have passed right by.

A couple are looking for their child who was lost in the tsunami. While watching video footage, the wife spots what she believes to be their kid, playing amoungst the mud cover natives. So they journey into the Thai-Burmese jungle, accompanied and led by various unsavory characters until they find the haunted place where their search comes to an end.

This is mostly an atmosphere piece. You can get lost in watching the people venture farther and farther into this alien world just a continent or two away. There’s some tension and suspense, but it’s not so much a horror film as it is an art film. It’s very french, with the way the cinematography is framed and the manner in which they index.jpgdelve into some of the set pieces.

We don’t get any real horror until the last fifteen minuets or so. I frequently hang in until the third act of horror films because I’ve learned that this is when most of them go off the rails, but even in this third act, we don’t get any really engaging scares until almost the end. There is a singe gore set piece in the eintre film. It’s the last scene, well done but not worth the wait.

I hate to dog on this film though because it’s excellent. It’s so well made and shot, it just doesn’t belong in this set. Give it a shot if you like French suspense.  Otherwise, pass.

 


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Penguin at the Crypt

This may be my favorite Penguin photo ever. Can’t decide if I like it better with or without color…..

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