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

Archive for December, 2021

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Closed for the holidays

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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The Munsters Scary Little Christmas

I found this at the dollar tree sometime either this past spring or summer 2020. I came across it for something else in my library, and decided it was finally time to throw this in the DVD player and give it a spin.

I know I was in trouble almost immediately, when it became apparent that wasn’t Fred Gwynne on the cover. I understand how universal would’ve been eager to try and reboot the Munsters in 1996. The massive success of the two Addams family films made it seem like a simple prospect. But there’s some significant differences between the Addams family and the Munsters . Scant as it may be, the Addams family has source material. It may just be a collection of single panel cartoons by artist Charles Adams, but it defined The look and ethic of the TV series, movies, and all other sundry sequels. With the Munsters however, they are the source material. Yes, I understand they’re based on the universal monsters, but Herman Munster is not Frankenstein. Grandpa is not Dracula. They are their own unique creations, defined by the actors who stepped into those roles.

This is one of the immediate places where these Munsters reboots fail. The actor playing Herman just doesn’t look right. He’s not tall enough to proportion out that barrel chest, nor is his face long enough. And would’ve gone along way towards that, as well as an additional half inch at the top of the four head appliance. Grandpa is even worse. We have Jack Klompus, (The rival of Jerry’s father in Seinfeld) done up in corpse paint and an incomprehensible false nose. He lacks the roundness of Al Lewis, not to mention his charm. He’s chewing the scenery and doing his own thing, and it’s jarring. Herman at least attempt to act like Herman… When he remembers to. But it’s a cartoonish exaggeration, something that was earnest when Gwynne would do it. Honestly, I am completely incredulous that they didn’t just bite the bullet and hire Brad Garrett. That man had been preparing for that role his entire life, and he was definitely available for a TV movie or two in 1996.

The other big difference between this and the Addams family reboots, is money. Those two films had an enormous budget, they backed up the stellar performance by Raul Julia and Christopher Lloyd with a well-funded background design. You can see a huge difference by the time we get to the Addams Family Reunion, where the scanty Power Rangers TV budget makes the whole thing look so cheap that even the brilliance of Tim Curry can’t save it.

Likewise, this series looks cheap. I realize that HD TV wasn’t a thing in 1996, but I’m watching this on DVD in standard definition and I can still see the seams on the ears and the noses. You can spot the eyebrow pencil being used to create the widows peaks. They re-created the costumes all right, but they look cheap. Fur around Santa‘s boot falls down at one point, circling his ankle, and they leave it in. Even the film stock feels… Less than.

The exterior set Is done well enough, it’s a facade that’s designed to look more like the Addams family house than the monster one though, and the actors they use who are pretending to be animatronics, well, it just looks a little dumb… Much the way it did in Kiss meets the Phantom of the park. I just keep coming back to that. The whole thing just looks cheap.

For their parts, the actress playing Lily, and the kid playing Eddie do a good enough job. Marilyn too. But the truth is, they’re mostly walking props. The focus isn’t on them, though when Lily does get a little something to do, I do feel like I’m watching Yvonne DiCarlo. It’s good.

Since they’ve moved from Transylvania to Southern California – really? – Eddie just isn’t in the Christmas spirit. It’s too different here, he’s getting bullied at school, and he’s just down. So the family devises their own plans to make him feel better. Marilyn wants to throw a party with all of their relatives… A good excuse to bring in as many universal monsters as possible! Lily on the other hand thinks that what Eddie  needs is involvement in the community… Kind of like in a Charlie Brown Christmas. Herman thinks he can solve it by getting Eddie the perfect Christmas gift, and goes off to look for a second job so he can afford it. Grandpa just believes all Eddie needs is snow. Herman and Marilyn’s plans are quickly sidelined, they’re not even the “B” storyline… Although they do get referenced at the very end. The main thrust of the story comes when grandpa accidentally transports Santa into his lap instead of snow. Then the movie becomes a story about how the Munsters have to get Santa back to the north pole and save Christmas. But can they do it in time? Santas got to lecherous elves with him who would really like the night off and they might just have a thing or two to say about it!

It’s just weird. It feels like somebody took a bunch of puzzle pieces that may or may not fit together, tossed them all into a blender and poured out this movie. I can almost see The writers room with a couple of checklists.

Munsters costumes question Check.
Herman in a Santa suit? Check.
Herman in a biker costume? Check.
Junior high bullies? Check. Santa Claus? Check.
Comedic misunderstanding? Check.
Munsters saved Christmas? Check.
Nosy neighbor? Check.
Holiday contest? Check.
Fruitcake? Check.
Subverting Christmas archetypes for comedic affect? Check.
Drag U La? Check.

It’s all here, it’s all mashed up, safe as can be, but with no coherent vision or Throughline. It’s so safe, no network exact could possibly have said no. But, that makes it so by the numbers, what’s here to get me to watch this instead of a rerun of Baywatch?

Perhaps I’m being a little hard on this, it was the third attempted monster reboot over the course of about five years. But still, this thing is pretty much a stinker. It looks nice on my shelf of misunderstood Christmas movies, but I can’t recommend it in anyway shape or form.


Clementine (Walking Dead Video Game)

Maddie’s real first introduction to the Walking Dead was the video game, so naturally, Clementine is her favorite character from it. It’s a relatively

simple costume (much like my Shadow) but it’s her go-to for quick and easy.

 

 


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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 Suicide Squad

Costume

Mr. Freeze wasn’t actually in the Squad, but he could be – Captain Cold did at least one mission and it’s the only way I could justify this really strange line-up!
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essentialPosting the best strips from the series, in order from the beginning.

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Curse of the Wolf

index.jpgCurse of the wolf starts off in the chat room with someone consulting a bed on how best to tranquilize or subdue the large dog – large like a wolf. I very much get the impression that this movie is trying to be Ginger Snaps, and that worries me – low-budget knock-offs are rarely satisfying.

Our young lady werewolf has obviously been taught by a group of werewolf hunters. We get our first attempt at a transformation sequence through flashbacks as she lays prone and drugged in her basement. It turns out that the other hunters are also werewolves. They do well to keep the suit in shadows and quick cuts as much as possible – because the suit is awful.

We get stark font credits over loud metal music and the whole thing starts to feel very amateur before we even hit 15 minutes. They drag her back to the cavern club house, and we just kind of… Drift. Six months later we cut to a vets office, she appears to be index.jpgworking there mostly to have access to drugs she needs to control her werewolf disease. She stops a bunch of metalheads street dogs from assaulting a woman using her super werewolf kung fu, but at half an hour, about a third of the way through, I’m still waiting for a story to kick in. The hunters are looking for her again to bring her back into their fold– I guess that is close to a story as I’m going to get.

Amateurly filmed with not enough plot (and terrible lighting – everything is crazy dark), curse of the werewolf comes off feeling like a bunch of guys had been playing werewolf the index2apocalypse, or vampire the masquerade too much and decided to make a movie of one of their adventures. Even with the inclusion of several competent martial artists, this is not One of the underworld movies. We get some gore here and there along with copious amounts of metal music and it seems like at some point somebody wanted to turn this into a character study of Life fighting the curse, but it all falls kind of flat. How on earth did they manage to stretch this out to an hour and 45 minutes? Even when viewed on fast forward the movie feels endless. Skip this one – it’s not really even worth putting on for background noise.


New Years Evil

The Capitol couldn’t manage to  put on thier 12 hours of terror marathon this year, but did pull together a smaller one; a four film night called Season’s Bleedings. Of the movies in that lineup, the one I was most looking forward too was New Years Evil. Not only have I never seen it before, I’d never even heard of it.

New Years evil is a straightforward slasher. We have Diane (Roz Kelly – if you ever watched Happy Days, you may remember her as Pinky Tuscadareo) basically a pre MTV VeeJay, hosting a Nu Wave countdown for New Years. The special is spread across all time zones, with diffrent countdowns in each one. But she caught the attention of a serial killer who also has plans for each time zone – a murder each for each one! Now it’s up to the hapless ’80s cops to track down and capture the killer before he gets to his last victem; Diane herself.

It’s an interesting enough setup, but the film itself is LOADED with problems. Setting aside my own preferance for a monster or a masked killer (This one just has an interesting assortment of costumes, false glasses and moustaches – though he does don a strange Stan Laurel mask at the very end) I’m genuinely not sure who to root for here. Obviously we’re ment to side with Diane, but honestly, she’s so unlikeable. She’s a disinterested mom, and really dosen’t even care that her emasculated and drunken husband is either shacked up or on a bender (I actually though he was he Ex from the way she talked about him), just got to get on with the show! And can we be real for a moment? Roz Kelly, at this point in her career, was not passing for a punk princess. Even if she were trying, the fact that she’s got a 20 year old son (and even he’s just…yuck) just makes her too old to be a pop idol. Heavy makeup over bad skin just drive home the slightly karen-esque characterization.

On the other hand, I’m not rooting for the killer either. We don’t get an explination for his motivation until well into the third act, and even then, he feels like a loser. He also never really ingratiates us with cool kills like a Jason or Michael. It’sjust stabby stabby with the switchblade and no set pieces until the final bit at the end.

The cops are basically cardboard cutouts. And this movie could have REALLY benifited from a charasmatic investigator. A Thomas Harris type like Will Graham or Clarice Starling (for that matter, a more charismatic villian would have been equally helpful). These guys aren’t even there to be stereotypes for kills. they’re just…there.

The one notabel thing abotu this film thoguh is the soundtrack. While our rocker crowd and VeeJay are really more….hollywood’s IDEA of what rockers should be like, the two bands featured in the film are the real deal. Made in Japan and Shadow are both good bands cranking out music that is authentic for the era. The real problem is, they’re good, but not GREAT – and on the Sunset strip….good dosen’t really get you anywhere. Still, the soundtrack is actually my favorite thing about this movie.

Despite my issues, this is worth a watch. It’s not a keeper, and I think that smack dab in the middle of a marathon like this is the perfect way to watch it. If it hits streaming like Pluto or Tubi, it’s worth 90 minuets, just for the curiosity alone.

 


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Tom Mandrake

AutographsI’m only recently getting into Ostrander’s legendary run on Spectre, but I remember back in the 90’s always seeing those amazing covers that Tom Mandrake was creating. I love that I got a couple of these signed at NEO Comicon

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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The Vampire Conspiracy

indexReading the description for the vampire conspiracy, it sounds like Saw with vampires – in the washed out grey dirty room that it starts in does nothing to dispel that impression. Five people are abducted by maniacal vampire and put into a deadly maze of wits and endurance – if they make it out alive, the vampires fortune is theirs but if they fail they will be doing to be his bloodthirsty slaves forever.

The film starts with two people who are at the end of this particular game, and obviously about to lose as the vampires descend upon them. It’s not a bad start, and I’m feeling optimistic about the next 88 minutes. Maybe less if there is a lot of credits. Then the head vampire shows up, in a long cloak and a frilly pirate shirt, looking like he stepped right out of an Anne Rice porn parody. And now I’m worried again.

On the other side of the credits, the film begins in earnest, with five people in a white marble room – very reminiscent of Cube. 20 minutes and I’m still waiting for the action to start – it’s been a very talky first act with the vampire basically explaining to his index2.jpgcaptives what the plot is. What little action we seen, one of the guys taking a swing at the vampire, the vampire tossing another one out of the way – it’s all stilted and slow.

Once we get into exploring the house, the trap some cells aren’t exactly so complicated – it’s picking the lock on one door and trying not to open the other one that houses the vampires.

They go in for foggy flashbacks, very much like Saw – and attempt to connect the relationships between the people in the game. There is a good deal of squabbling between the prisoners, in an attempt to build tension through the interpersonal conflict – but it’s a waste, we haven’t had enough time to really connect with these characters so the squabbling just falls flat.

The film attempts a third act climax by having the remaining characters confront their pasts – that is to say confront the people that they have loved and lost. Dead partners and brothers, resurrected and to emotionally confront them before revealing they are now vampires.

index2The setting is smart – because they’re wondering through a maze of identical rooms, all they really need is one set with a couple of extra walls to create hallways in. Shooting could be one or two days with a group of extras to provide vampire attacks and the rest of the time we simply got this small cast off for five people.

What really disappoints me, is the lack of  gore. We have some vampire teeth and minimal make up on the horde of bloodsuckers, but the kills and the defense with the stakes never gets particularly bloody – I never get any torn flesh or complex make up jobs. It’s an interesting idea, but lacking both tension and blood. The film ends up being quite unmemorable. You might wanna watch it just for curiosity, but I won’t blame you if you don’t make it all the way through.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Iron Sapphire

One of the problems with kids, is that they grow – and neither we nor they realize how fast.

Ages ago, Maddie asked for Iron Man armor, but done up as a Star Sapphire.

Well she decided she wanted to pull it out again a few years later, only to discover….it didn’t fit. We ended up completely reworking what we could to break it out one more 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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