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

Archive for November, 2021

Fist of the Vampire

index.jpgFist of the vampire… What a stupid name… And that logo looks a lot like they want to emulate the Shaw Bros intro – the film dives into grainy footage that says it’s from 1977. I don’t know, these 70s vampires look awfully 21st-century to me as they pursue a guy in a ponytail and a three-piece suit down a desaturated alleyway.

On the other hand, maybe I’m being too hard on things – we get into some bloodletting and action right away, and if they keep this kind of pace this may well be a nicely entertaining flick.

The vampire attack is brutal – full of blood and fire. Somebody knows how to use after effects and bought some stock footage. This is especially evident as we watch some very stylized credits over metal music. A lot of quick cuts and flashing images, leading us into the gunfight that begins the film. Young one flees the policeman, shooting it out in a video store and eventually being followed to her hideout where more gunplay ensues. You can tell the makers of the film are movie people, the living room walls are covered in DVD shelves, and I wouldn’t be surprised if index1.jpgthat video store was actually creation in somebody’s basement. Nevertheless, they really know how to stage action, whether it’s hand-to-hand throwing punches and kicks or pistols and automatic weapons enhanced by CG muzzle flashes. It’s well done enough that they’re able to maintain this action sequence for long stretches of time without you getting tired of it. 23 minutes into the film, we are finally getting a breather from the action as detectives investigate this crime scene, – and I didn’t even notice that time fly by.

We move on to a detective investigating an underground fighting ring. It’s being run by the vampires from the 1977 sequence and in large part appears to be there to showcase several martial artists in exciting fighting in sequences that aren’t required to propel the narrative. With all of the stilted performances being delivered by the amateur actors here, I understand why – they need all the production value they can get, and these fight index2sequences really do add quite a bit.

The thing is, even with some of the week performances and by the numbers plt points, this is still a really entertaining action film. A box set like this is the perfect place for it, though it might be more at home in an action set rather than a horror one. Either way, it’s worth a watch. Of all the movies in this said, it was the only one that really made me want to explore the directors other work – and there’s been quite a bit of it – low budget direct to video crap but with as much fun as I had here, it might be worth a look. If you have the opportunity, definitely catch this one at a film festival or marathon. Just remember to turn your brain off first.


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

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Killbot

3d.jpgI have this really unreasonable love for certian films – such as Chopping Mall. This is one of the killer robots from the 80’s horror schlock film called “Chopping Mall”. I modeled this thing up from scratch using Bryce 3d, arms are included in a separate file and are glued on (it seemed to tricky and fragile to integrate them on the bot itself).

 

Model can be found here https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2914278

 

 

 

 

 

 


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

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Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned

index2.jpgI’m not really expecting much from Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned – but I’m hoping that it’s got its got a sense of humour as the name indicates. I noticed that Lloyd Kauffman is gonna pop in here and I’m looking forward to seeing his cameo. It comes early and is one of Lloyds best ones ever.

Set up is pretty much what the title says, a dude picking up bros and heading to his bachelor party at the bungalow. Strippers arrive about 20 minutes in and of course, Demons. They drug the bachelor before seducing all the guys (not a difficult task, tight leather). Debauchery leads into some gruesome deaths before everything is interrupted by a call from the fiance. The best man escorts the succubi out, And they reluctantly comply, staring longingly at them through the windows. The groom is not dead but looking anemic

This is when the three Demon girls return, claiming thier car has broke down.

index2Around this time, the best man discovers the dead bodies in the Demon ladies attack. The word vampire gets used, but they don’t feel like vampires to me – whatever they are though, the film is full speed ahead from here out – bloody and gory and with plenty of action. The pacing gets a little choppy though, there’s at least two places where the film probably should have ended but wouldn’t have met its length requirements to be a feature – the segways between scens are awkward, almost feeling like they were tagged on. I’d have liked that better if it had been integrated more smoothly. Still, I actually really, really enjoy this. It’s low budget, sophomoric humour,and Unpolished production values but great dumb fun.


Encanto

I went into Encanto with absolutely no expectations or preconcieved notions In fact, I went in with no information at all. I hadn’t even heard of the film. But my daughter had, and she was very eager to go see it, so when a couple of passes for an advance screening crossed my desk, I grabbed Maddie and off we went.

Even now though, mere days before the movie comes out, I’m seeing really no push. There’s a banner on Disney+, and sometimes an ad will pop up on my fire stick, but otherwise nothing. No commercials on television, no ads before YouTube videos, it almost feels like this thing doesn’t exist. And that’s a shame, because Encanto is a pretty good film.

We have a Colombian family, who generations ago escaped tyranny. The patriarch gave his life so that they could escape, and because of that, a miracle happens. An everlasting magical candle appeared and imbued all the members of this family with special gifts. One daughter has super strength, while another has super hearing. One can make flowers bloom out of nothing, well another one can heal you with whatever food she cooks. It’s an interesting premise, with this family as sort of the patrons of the entire village. They live in a magic house which manages to have its own personality without ever speaking a word, and from there they live and work and marry, and prepare for the youngest’s gift to emerge. That’s a time of some trepidation, because the last daughter, Mirabelle (Stephanie Beatriz), discovered she didn’t have a gift.

In the background though, the cracks in the walls are beginning to show. And it looks like the time for that miracle may be running out. It is up to Mirabel to save the miracle, save her family, and maybe in the process, figure out who she is.

Maddie is a big fan of the sort of Latin entertainment that’s been coming up lately… Stuff like Cuco, or Luca, or Book of Life, so this fits right into her wheelhouse. It’s gorgeously made with genuinely interesting characters, and a sense of magic… Dangerous magic. Mirabelle finds a lost family member Bruno (John Leguizamo) with a dire vision of the future, but it’s mixed up. Things don’t happen in order, and this becomes a mystery she has to unravel.

The thing that stands out the most for me in this film, are the songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I am an old theater veteran, and I pay attention to the songs in Disney films, glorified show tunes really. But the thing is, in the modern era, the music hasn’t been particularly memorable. With the exception of Frozen, I can’t really pick too many modern era Disney songs out of the air. Tangled is a better film than Frozen, but the only thing I remember from that is about half of “Waiting For My Life to Begin”. Frozen two, I know that “Into the Unknown” exists… But I can’t even hum it from memory. And the only reason that I remember “You’re Welcome” from Moana, is because I watched Spider-Man sing it at karaoke one night. All the music in Encanto just sticks with you. It’s a sort of film where you want to rush out and buy the soundtrack because it’s haunting and original and just works. It doesn’t stick with a normal pop or show tune formula, it’s progressive melody and really well thought out. I could give this film high marks just for that.

I could, but I don’t have to. The characters really carry this done as well. It’s still Disney, but there’s flaws and there’s depth and there’s growth. Everybody has an arc, and that’s interesting. Mirabel herself should be the least interesting of all of them, no superpowers, and maybe the mousiest looking one of them all. But there’s a personality and quirkiness to her that’s just enchanting. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes as well, the way she sews and embroidery on some things, the particular personality quirks of each character, and especially the bizarre and mournful nature of the lost brother Bruno. Everything just works together perfectly.

If I have any complaints, it’s that I wish we got the dark prediction earlier in the film, somewhere tacked onto the end of the first act. Watching Mirabel try and prevent it, and hunt down the clues is really the most entertaining part of this film for me. But because it’s really all shoved into the middle and back end of the third act, it sometimes feels like it goes too fast. Then again, that might be an endorsement… The film obviously passes The watch test.

I have two daughters, which means I spent a lot of time taking them to Disney, princess, and animated films over the last decade. There’s some that fall into a predictable pattern, predictable characters and tropes, and after a while you can spot it a mile away. It becomes boring. There’s others, that stand out, films that you end up enjoying yourself as well, it’s not just about taking the kids out. This is one of those. So when Encanto comes out this weekend, go see it. Hit it in the theater where you got a good sound system to revel in that soundtrack.

Encanto hits theaters November 24th.

By the way, go see Ghostbusters Afterlife as well… I got together with a group of ‘busters and we hit that this weekend too! The film gave me everything I wanted from a Ghostbusters sequel and is possibly an even better follow up than Ghostbusters Two. Support good films like Encanto , but let’s also support the good ones like Afterlife… I kind of don’t want to see Encanto knock Ghostbusters off the board! (I’m going again this week and taking the wife with me this time!)


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Mr Freeze and the Gotham gang

Costume

I pulled out my Mr. Freeze outfit and did some minor repairs, then realized I couldn’t find my freeze gun. A whole new freeze gun became a part of these upgrades!
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essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

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Gelfling

Over the last couple years, Maddie has been getting more into cons and cosplay, developing her own set of costumes and characters. It’s about time I started showcasing her more as part of Argo City Cosplay!

This one was a quickie, but a nice one- a Gelfling to accompany my Skeksis! (The Fizzgig was a must)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Last Week’s Pulls 11/13

Man, remember ten years ago when i wold do these kind of “this week’s pulls” fairly regularly? The thing is, I don’t read a lot of new comics. New 52 REALLY broke the habit and comics have been in a sort of slow decline. But there’s DECADES of back issues and fifty cent/dollar bins out there for me to keep feeding the habit….

I got my dates mixed up. CnJ’s big indie sale was LAST week. But while I was out there, I figured I’d hit the recent release racks and fill my alliteration quota at the same time.

I’d been eagerly awaiting Batman 89, and then completely forgot about it. While I was at it, I picked up superman 78… even though I’m not a huge fan of the Christopher Reeve movies, (yes, I know that’s sacrilege). Nevertheless, playing around in these movie continuities seems like a really interesting idea and I wanted to explore them. Then, my jaw dropped. Ambush bug was on the cover of Suicide Squad. Ambush Bug! I love Aambush Bug. He’s underused (then again, that may be a blessing. Once Marvel started doing more and more Slapstick stories, they completely lost what was funny about the character in the first place) but I think his two mini series back in the 80s are some of the funniest stuff DC has ever put out. He pops up from time to time nowadays, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. His appearance of new 52 was amazing. Ambush Bug year none on the other hand, was less than triumphant.

This is… Interesting.

I like Suicide Squad, I really do. And I feel like the title is starting to get back on track what with the new movie out. It went wild in bizarre directions for a little while there, and while nothing will ever top the 80s Ostrander run, this isn’t terrible stuff. Ambush Bug is really weird here in issues #7 and #8. He’s goofy, but not quite as wacky as usual. Still, the fourth wall jokes all land, and the fact that he keeps changing costume and dressing up like the various squad characters… To see him in a Captain Boomerang costume and then a Harley Quinn one… It’s absolutely worth the price of admission.

Batman 89 on the other hand, I’m shocked that I’m so underwhelmed. I don’t understand when exactly this movie supposed to be. They’ve got Michael Keaton looking old here. White streaks on his temples like Mr. Fantastic, and it just doesn’t line up. The haircut’s weird. Michael Gough’s Alfred has a mustache and Commissioner Gordon is just a bit more fit. Still big, but that sort of 50s barrel chest big instead of Pat Hingle beer belly big. It all just feels off.

We do have to congratulate them though, they are doing the thing we all wanted, giving us more of Billy Dee Williams Harvey Dent. We’re definitely going to see him transform into his version of Two Face, and that’s got me holding on. And they’re also trying to introduce a Robin… this is one of the things I’d like to know more about. Is this supposed to be the Robin Chris Rock was up for? Because they’re calling him Drake… Tim Drake wasn’t Around yet in 1989. Certainly not as Robin. And it’s a weird costume. I’d like to know what it was influenced from.

All in all, I’m not sure I’m into this. We’re only two issues in, but it’s just too flat and too off for me. If you promise me Batman 89, I want everything to look like Batman 89. It’s a high bar.

Superman 78 on the other hand, I can’t believe how much I love this book! 

As I’ve stated previously, I’m not a huge fan of the Donner films. I don’t dislike them per se, but the gawky bumbling Clark Kent, and the chain-smoking, raspy voice Lois Lane do nothing for me. In fact, I remember liking parts three and four better because Clark got different love interests that actually cared about who he was! Things were going that direction in the comics at that time as well… With Superman and Lois Lane breaking off their long standing romance, while an adult Lana Lang, Clark’s co-anchor at WGBS, was starting to take notice an interest in him. I really enjoyed them exploring that towards the end of the pre-crisis run.

That may be what really charms me about these comics. It’s not so much that they feel like the Donner movies, as much as it is they feel like Superman comics in the late 70’s And early 80s. I’m very much a post crisis John Byrne, Jerry Ordway kind of guy, but I do have a certain nostalgia for those old days. There’s something fun about them, fun about seeing Lex Luthor as a chubby evil doer, and throwing back to a time when they actually had Brainiac well defined a knew what to do with him.

Superman 78 sees Brainiac coming to earth to collect the last Kryptonian to store him in the bottle of Kandor. It’s a perfectly straightforward set up, and gives us an excuse to visit with Marlon Brando as well as Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Margot Kidder, Marc McClure and Christopher Reeve. They manage to sneak in the skeletal super powers version of Brainiac as well, and the whole thing just works. It hangs together, and pulls at the nostalgia heartstrings just perfectly. And they manage to do it all without any politics, social justice or any of the other drags that so anchor down to many modern comics. I am absolutely following Superman 78 all the way.

By the way, speaking of avoiding a lot of those things that dragmodern comics down, is anybody watching Star Trek Prodigy?

Seriously. I think He-Man gave me some renewed hope for some of these “kid” Versions of the series, so I sat down and gave this thing a try.

I’m genuinely loving it.

It’s not trying to be cynical or deconstruct anything, in fact I don’t even know what time period this is taking place in. We’re not necessarily bound by the non-confrontational and optimistic nature of humanity at the time, because we’re not dealing with humanity. It’s a rogue group of aliens who have discovered a lost starship and are learning how to fly it. Yet we still get the optimistic hopeful evolution of humanity in the holographic representation of Katherine Janeway. She feels very Star Trek. In fact, it almost feels like she is there on the bridge with these guys, trying to steer them into becoming Star Trek… I mean Starfleet. The whole thing is absolutely the most enjoyable Star Trek I have watched since the license was handed over to Bad Robot and Secret Hideout. Once again, the show is fairly devoid of social agenda and identity politics, opting instead for an interesting adventure, with moments that are adorable and other moments that are absolute punch the air events. We’ll talk more about this I think, once I get around to catching up on Stargirl again and doing a proper TV post!

Still, the comics thing was fun. We should do this again.

 

 


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Jim Shooter

AutographsI’ve always been a fan of Jim Shooter, and love the Valient universe he created. (I got Bob Hall on this one too!)

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

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Grave Mistake

index.jpgGrave mistake starts off with a drunk guy in the middle of the desert by A shallow grave pouring chemicals on it in the hopes it will destroy the body… Well, at least we know how the zombie apocalypse got started on this one!

During the credits we get a zombie attack on a truck in and some kids heading home from the skate park. It turns out the drunk with the chemicals is also an abusive father – nice.

We kept to the mechanic in his office having flashbacks of his time at war – things ended badly there, and there is some PSTD involved. You are moving seen of him trying to decide whether or not to kill himself we cut to a jump in the car reading is on the box and then what appears to be an impromptu medieval fair going on in the wilderness. I’m extremely confused. (It seems to be more of an excuse to have guys who can swing swords at the zombies later on)

Mechanics assistant is a goofy Conrad Brooks type who’s written a book on surviving the zombie apocalypse. Good thing to do, because there is some news report that the zombies have arrived!

Zombie some cells are only in airbrushed grey with some gruesome flight details, but it’s effective enough and someone’s certainly beginning to learn their gore fx . There are some clever mixtures of gore and camera trickery used to achieve some of the more interesting kills, but not much of a story – it’s secondary to the filmmakers ability to show off their make up skills.

index2We get to standard small group on a run (heading to the local armory), as well as the occasional zombie attacks, the running out of gas gag and the “let’s go shopping” scene.

The actors do a fair job and the cinematography is adequate despite the consumer grade equipment being used here.

It’s worth watching as part of a collection like this, especially for some of that kills force the end and hopefully would serve as a good calling card for the filmmakers to go on to bigger and better things.


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

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Iron Sapphire redux

Costume

Out of nowhere, Maddie asked me to redo her Iron Sapphire armor! I’ve always been leased with it, but we had to completely remake the midplate expand the legs because she’s grown so much since the last time she wore it!

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

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Awaking the Dead

index.jpgAwaking the dead begins with a highly stylised to CG sort of introduction. It worries me because it usually signals a poor production values throughout the rest of the film.

From shots of the city we move to a small bedroom, desaturated with a young muscular man waking up to an annoying alarm clock.

He opened up a letter that reads “they didn’t die in vain, go to the old house and wait for me”

The next person to wake up is a young woman in an equally desaturated bedroom, her nudity tastefully obscured.

She has a note as well, “stay inside the house, I’ll be there soon…”

Back to the man who is now revealed to be a priest. He tosses a suitcase in the car and heads out.

Driving montage with gloomy metal playing over. He enters the house with the key that was hidden in a Bible. The girl greats him with a baseball bat. It turns out he used to index.jpgwork with her father and had come for her.

Outside, a plane releases vapour trails that infect a couple of badly dubbed schoolgirls. Children play and neighbours point and priest and discovers his tires been slashed.

Knock on the door and the girls huge, slightly homicidal boyfriend makes his way in. She convinces him to leave with a large knife. The priest continues to wait for her father. She also managed to secure a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses with a knife in a particularly funny scene. The boyfriend’s been sitting in his car though, stewing and finally busts out again ready to go get her. It’s too late, the schoolgirl zombies get him first.

index2.jpgInside, the priest falls asleep with dreams of faceless people. Children point of him accusingly. dream wakes him, Disturbed, he turns over and attempted to go back to sleep. In the meantime, zombies are at the windows.

Good news is there only one zombie out there. The bad news is it’s her hulking boyfriend. a blow to the eye dispatches him quite well.

As the zombie plague grows, the house becomes a refuge for more and more survivors.  But the priest notices outside someone watching and taking notes – he begins to suspect that this is not a natural phenomenon on, but rather a manufactured one.

Things go badly and it becomes time to leave the relative safety of the house to go seek index2out the location on a map where this or may be stemming from. Survivors get up and take to the streets.

Some of the action is interesting and the character signs suddenly look a lot better but it’s not enough to salvage the film. Waking the dead as the germ of a good idea but drags in its pacing… The constantly saturation seems to be there to disguise poor production values and attempt in artistic astetec, but the film itself never really manages to get up and running. This one is a pass, even in the box set.