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

Archive for July, 2022

Deadline : Auto Theft

Deadline Auto Theft begins with a daring helicopter hijack. The thieves though have the bad fortune to land right where police chief Hoyt Axton is having lunch with his porn star daughter and her sleazebag husband. The hijacker jumps into a sports car and begins the first chase of the movie. We get lots of high speed and crunchy car crashes as they race down the concrete spillway that we’re so familiar with from Terminator 2, Grease, not to mention countless Donald G Jackson films. It’s around this point, with Hoyt Axton hot in pursuit and singing into his CB that I notice this whole thing is beginning to sound just a little bit familiar…

What were watching is actually the scene that was being filmed at the beginning of the Junkman – that’s right, we are in director Hollis’ follow up to the fictional version of gone in 60 seconds! This is actually kind of cool.
Axton finds himself dressing down his police force for crashing too many cars during the chase and present them with their new assignment as we cross fade to our hijackers at a very familiar looking wedding. Axton is looking for a group of hijackers that are responsible for a rash of car theft, and back at the wedding we find H B Halicki telling his brother that they’ve got a big order – 40 cars in record time… Wait a minute, what? I’ve seen this movie too!

Deadline Auto Theft is a strange remix of Gone in 60 Seconds with the addition of that early car chase and where hockey has swapped out the police chief Hawkins for the most part with white Axton‘s Detective Gibbs – complete with a whole new subplot involving his porn star daughter and scumbag son-in-law who’s car Halicki stole as part of the whole affair.

It’s a bizarre mishmash – it’s nine years later and not only has Halicki visibly aged, but his camera skills have gotten better with the newly shot footage comes off as much cleaner and slicker looking than the old footage that’s being mixed in. All the character moments are still there, the heroin scare, the epic jump, the 40 minute car chase – but now it’s been repackaged in this sort of parallel universe director’s cut that makes the continuity police in me want to tear my hair out.

In all fairness, between Gone in 60 Seconds and Deadline Auto Theft, Deadline Auto Theft is the superior production – it benefits from Halicki getting some more time behind the camera and some experience doing what he does. However, this strange attempt to re-edit and re-package his first try also has the effect of killing his career. It would be another six years before Halicki would attempt his fatal come back.

Ultimately this collection of films creates an interesting footnote as far as low-budget film making goes – but I can’t fault the man. Gone too soon, he left us this fascinating collection of movies and I’m better off for having explored them.




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

Every Wednesday and Friday



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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Hoboken Hollow

index1.jpgHoboken Hollow doesn’t waste any time – it begins with a hitchhiker being hanged and somebody butchering human meat before jumping into the credits. It does say it’s inspired by true events, for whatever that’s worth – that’s usually a bit of a warning that it’s going to be complete nonsense.

The credits play out over shots of jerky being hung, a man being chased, an axe and a van – the movie very much is trying to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre (but without a monster like Leatherface), and we know exactly where we stand. Interesting collection of names though, with Dennis hopper, and Michael Madsen, Lynn Shea and C. Thomas Howell – makes me really curious as to what we’re in for.

The Gore is plentiful, but they frequently linger too long on it which makes it clumsy. Nevertheless, the bloodiest hit-and-run you’ve ever seen as well as severed body parts and backwoods creepy keeps my interest.

The story revolves around a ranch that vagabonds come to work at – complete with an ominous warning inside the bunkhouse. A general supplies store front, run by an old woman and her mentally challenged son is it’s public face, but the ranch work however is more like indentured servitude. Sometimes just to step up from slavery, although there are fewer shackles and chains. The rules are a bit looser  for the old timers but these new recruits are very much treated as slaves. In the background, the torture porn keeps going.

shoppingThings start to slow down in the middle, we are supposed to be more repulsed by the horror of these men slavery, but I’m here for gore and terror. It’s enough to make me wonder if the earlier blood and guts were inserts done after the fact when they decided they needed a little bit more torn flesh.

The climax ends up being weak compared to the strong start on the school, and the entire movie is fairly predictable. This one is not a high recommend, I could probably easily pass on this one and I feel like I’m missing anything

Last Week’s Pulls

Let’s face it, it’s just all about Worlds Finest. And I don’t even have a whole lot to say about it. On issue five they still haven’t jumped the shark, it’s still great fun and good adventure. In fact, we pretty well finish up the storyline, with Superman employing some clever tactics, and some good back up by the Doom Patrol. It’s just good. It’s all good.

Well, maybe Robin doesn’t think it’s that good, last issue Supergirl accidentally dropped him in the time vortex, but that’s just collateral damage right?

Nope because even as we finish up the story and close up this chapter, the title for the next issue is all about rescuing Robin all Search for Spock style. It’s weird. It almost feels like an epilogue… albeit at an extended one. Like the story didn’t quite have enough to stretch it out to six issues, so we’re going to tack on this weird little side quest at the end… But I can’t say I mind. I’m really enjoying riding along with all these characters, so give me another issue with us. And then give me 100 more.

It’s not just the characters, it’s the respect that they’re shown. No attempt to deconstruct or moralize, and quite frankly, I’m really enjoying the style of costume as well. Superman needs the red shorts… But they’ve done some really fun stuff with Robin and Supergirl as well. And Batman? Whatever’s drawing this is heavily influenced by Batman 1989. My compliments. You’re doing it right.

I was feeling so optimistic that I actually picked up a copy of dark crisis young justice two.

That was a mistake.

As respectful and straightforward as worlds finest is? Young Justice is the exact opposite. A cynical deconstruction that pokes fun at the original series as hateful and misogynistic and homophobic and whatever other istaphobic adjectives you wanna throw in. Basically, if you like the old one, you’re stupid and probably some sort of a bigot as well, because young justice wasn’t the best ever, our new young social justice… That’s the best ever!l

Here’s the thing, the audience that you’re writing this for? They’re not the ones buying this book. They’re not the ones who have nostalgia from Young Justice… At least not the comic book. Maybe the cartoon. But all this is really doing is driving away the nostalgia baited audience that you presumably marketed this for… And I’m just very disappointed. I’m sure there’s a market for this, I’m sure there’s somebody out there who wants preachy social justice comics, but this ain’t it… And sales numbers are showing it, especially when you compare the sales numbers of these last two books, as well as the last young justice miniseries with the 90s run. Just saying.

I had some criticism of Nightwing last time out, and I still stand by them, but I also stand by the statement I made then that this really does remind me of that first late 90s run of Nightwing. I’m getting real early run Chuck Dixon vibes here… and the books being handled very well. It’s still a continuation of the same story, Nightwings taking down the corrupt police force in the haven, with the aid and research of Barbara Gordon. You know what? That’s half the appeal of this book. Just spending a little bit more time watching Babs and Dick hang out and schmooze. Serious biz, I could go for just a whole book of this. Like lessen her role In Batgirls to strictly mentor and guy in the chair… A.k.a. Oracle, and then change this book to Batgirl and Nightwing, and make it all about Dick and Babs. I would eat that up with a spoon. Seriously, Nightwing and Batgirls is really the best that any of the Batman titles have been for me in a good decade or so.

I thought I’d dip my toe back in over at She-Hulk. I have to admit that this issue is a better intro than the last one I grabbed. We start off with a brawl…but it’s a weird fight. The bad guy is a hulking super strong dude with the mind of a child, and he mistook She-Hulk’s friend Jack of Hearts for a bad guy from a fairy tale… was all a misunderstanding that Jen and Jack go chat about at a nearby restaurant.

I have to say – having read a couple of these issues and seeing the commercials for the upcoming TV show – I think I’ve got the feel of this series. It’s not for me. Good to know.  Also good to know that I can skip an issue and so little will happen that I can feel like I haven’t missed a thing. Yeah. Not for me.

What HAS been for me though is New Fantastic Four. It’s still as off the hook as the first issue and I’m just really enjoying this neo classic team up again. We throw Human torch into the mix and now we’ve got a party.

Seriously, this is what I’m reading these books for – it’s a get together with old friends. It’s putting the band back together. It’s just a bunch of old chums hanging out together in the Marvel Universe.One of the things that really strikes me about this series is despite the demonic supernatural nature of this current villians, this take on Ghost Rider is so vastly diffrent from what they’re doing over in his main title. It’s actually a really fun thing to have these two diffrent takes – one horror edged fantasy in the main book, as opposed to a more superhero take over here. It’s really smart.

The other thing I’m enjoying on this book is just how authentic every one is. The author has REALLY captured the voices of each character and what makes them so distinct form each other. The cynicism of this era’s Hulk isn’t easy to get right – he can easily become a downer if you don’t get that balance right – and Spidey? He’s as fun and effervescent as ever!

I’m not sure what brought me back to Iron Man. I mean, I was pretty stoked with last months, but come on. Monkeys. I’d buy a comic featuring Putin if he were fighting monkeys.

This is a very straightforward adventure. It actually reminds me of a conversation between two comic writers, a man and a woman. The man asked her if she’d ever had one of those fantasies about getting on a plane and hijackers taking over.  She was appalled, and pointed out that all she wants to do when she gets on a plane is grab a drink. Get to her seat. maybe take a nap. The man explained, that’s not the point. The point is the plane gets taken over  and YOU are the one to save it! That story resonated with me – it’s a fundamental boy’s adventure fantasy (maybe substitute a plane with the mall….or the local burger joint). Well Iron Man is going back to basics and putting out this exact scenario right at the beginning of the book this month.

The bad guy jumps and Tony pursues….and they find themselves in a wilderness stalking each other. Really digging this. A lot more fun than I expected and they’ve managed to build up enough curiosity on my part that I think I just might be back next month!






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

Every Wednesday and Friday



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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Dark Image

That’s odd. Justin’s name isn’t anywhere on this thing, but Dark Image (also released as Mirror Image) is listed as one of his films, co directed with frequent collaborator Chris Freeman.
I like the cast – Leslie Easterbrook and even an Eric Roberts cameo lent it a bit of street cred, and the film opens in a nicely eerie black and white. Ferris wheel….girls on swings and a pair of sisters – with one murdered.Years later, she’s trying to cope with the death of her sister and off on a getaway to help jog here memory about what happened. So is the cop (suspended for tampering with the evidence) that investigated the case, and he’s trying to drag his partner back into it. The captain (Roberts) warns him off but he’s determined.
Meanwhile, the girl is seeing things – maybe her meds are out of synch?Her shrink warns her that if it keeps up, he’ll have to send her back to the institution.That’s not stopping the flashes of bloody hand prints and dead sister in the shower though….. It’s a good and creepy CGI haunting that pops up sporadically though the film while the cops stalk them, trying to perhaps pin the murder on the sister. The  whole haunting has a strange Dante influence – curiously artsy for a film with such frequently flat lighting. Still, it’s the setup for what happens next – and all secrets are revealed when the devil opens her memories.
The thing is, this thing really isn’t sure if it want’s to be a police thriller or a horror movie – and it’s not quite sophisticated enough to balance those two things like a Giallo would. Perhaps wit ha bit more length and intrigue. I know I’, the LAST one to say a movie is too short, but at 76 minuets, there’s time to misdirect and ratchet up tension, or lean into the possession aspect. Freeman and Jones manage a  few spectacular images towards the end, and I’m definitely glad I watched it…but there’s not enough repeat value here for me to really consider returning to it.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Night of the Living Dead 3D

So here’s the thing, I’ve never heard a good word spoken about Night of the Living Dead 3D. I mean, I’ve heard people trash this thing from end end. I’ve been hearing nothing but negative reviews for years. I won’t say that it’s kept me away, but it’s definitely slowed my roll. It’s put it on the back burner, the “yeah, I need to watch this one of these days list“… And that’s even with it having Sid Haig in it. I loved it, and I do recall watching it once, ages ago but not make it very far. I saw Sid up here briefly and vanished at the beginning, and assumed that was all it was… So I figured it was a one day cameo and I’ll get to it when I get to it. Well, I finally got to it, and interestingly enough… It’s actually not all that bad.

You’re always gonna have a problem when you try and remake Night of the Living Dead. That’s true in any every field, but Night of the Living Dead has been tried more times than you probably realize, particularly because it’s in the public domain. This movie though, isn’t really a remake. It’s sort of a remake and homage and maybe even a little bit of sequel… Much in the way that Superman Returns wasn’t a proper remake or homage sequel. It couldn’t decide what it wanted to be and it ended up being none of those.

Night of the Living Dead 3D starts off with a bit of a scene from the original Night of the Living Dead, and then dissolves over into the new version. Barb (Yes. They call her BARB) and Johnny are heading to a funeral… not just to place flowers on a grave. But still, the zombie breakout occurs on schedule, and Johnny jumps in the car and rushes off. We don’t see much past that, Barbara stranded in the cemetery. She runs often finds herself in a mortuary… The Tovar and Son funeral home. This is important. Because this is much more central to this series.

Oh, did I say series? Well, I’ll get to that later.

There’s zombies already there chomping on people and generally doing their thing., But suddenly Sid Haig shows up and rushes Barb off. He tells her to flee, and quite justifiably, she does… Despite being a little bit annoyed that he wouldn’t shelter her. Honestly, there’s almost a return of the living dead vibe there… And that’ll be significant later. On the road, she was ambushed by more zombies, because that’s what zombies do. But she’s rescued by a dashing young biker named Ben. He’s actually heading out to his friend, Harry Cooper’s house, over at the Cooper plant farms, and he takes her with him.
This is kind of where I do have a little bit of a beef. Because this series is very different from the original Night of the Living Dead.  There’s a chance here to establish its own identity, but it undermines that by using so many of the original films names. It telegrams some of what you are going to expect, and it’s not necessarily something they needed to do.

In any event, Cooper Farms happens to be a pot growing farm. This is before it was legalized in any of the states, so we’ve got a certain degree of disreputable character going here. It’s also a great reason why they won’t call the cops to take care of the zombies that inevitably follow Barbara.
Helen isn’t Harry’s first wife, she is his second, and not the mother of the young girl that lives there. There’s also a farmhand and we do also have a “ Judy“ who is really just there to be the sexy, naked ingenue . Part of me really does take some offense to that, because Judy was far more wholesome than he was in a film, and, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting that particular actress. Nevertheless, she is there to fulfill the nudity portioned and up the body count. She’s stooping a dude in the barn, which keep her separate from most of the household shenanigans, that gives them somebody to go rescue.

We do get a number of the story beats from the original night of the living dead, there is some tension between Ben and Harry, though it’s a very different sort of tension. It’s a disagreement on the plan, and not nearly as hostile. We do get the little girl getting Zombified, but it’s played differently. All of this is second act stuff as we ratchet up the tension. The actual night of living dead film is playing on the TV, and indeed, the farmhand wasn’t sure that Barbara wasn’t crazy… And just reacting to what’s on the TV. No. She wasn’t crazy, and when the zombies start attacking, it’s apparent. It’s never more apparent though, one of refugee starts pounding on the door. It’s the third act, and Sid Haig has arrived at the farmhouse.

Tovar is an interesting character, turns out, The whole thing really did start at his mortuary… He’s not quite the mortician that his father was, and once the weird bag started appearing from the government… Well, whatever chemical was in there… There was… Leakage. It’s a good role for Haig. Simultaneously fun, and both straight man and villain. He ends up being a great deal more sinister than he seems at the beginning of the film, and this is all good stuff.It’s the sort of thing that really goes it’s on direction and separates us from the original.I miss Sid.

So, as far as the bad goes… The 3-D is seriously sketchy. It’s the red and blue sort it 3-D, and the DVD comes with a couple pairs of the glasses. It doesn’t really work that well. Also, this thing really undermines itself I feel, by using the names from the original film. And in name only sort of remake or something completely original inhibit self would have been preferable.

The good? This is actually a really good zombie movie. We have good and innovative kills, we’ve got a great environment, and quite frankly whenever we get exterior shots of that old farmhouse… Juxtaposed against the blue fog of an eerie night, it’s brilliant. It’s gorgeous sort of in name only sort of remake or something completely original in a bit self would have been preferable.

The good? This is actually a really good zombie movie. We have good and innovative kills, we’ve got a great environment, and quite frankly whenever we get exterior shots of that old farmhouse… Juxtaposed against the blue fog of an eerie night, it’s brilliant. It’s gorgeous imagery, and shows a real deft touched. The movie itself also kind of does it sound thing. It takes the premise, but then tells its own story… Much like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake. This is a strength that this movie has over something like Tom Savini‘s 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead . Savini, for all of his credit, really just tried to remake the film, while perhaps adding a bit more Sarah Connor to Barbara. As much as I enjoy watching Tony Todd Chula Siri – and seriously, how brilliant was that casting? – The 1990 remake always fails to satisfy, because it’s a hollow imitation of something so brilliant as Romero‘s original masterpiece. This on the other hand doesn’t fall into that trap… Like Snider is Donna dead, it takes a name, and it takes the idea, and then it plays fast and loose with everything else. Indeed, this thing would pair up really well with the dawn of the dead remake… far better than Savinis.
It also establishes some of his own law. It comes up with his own idea for why the outbreak happened, and the introduction of Tovar and his mortuary is interesting. It’s distinctive. It helps give the film its own identity, something that this thing really needs.

If you’ve heard nothing but smack talk about this film, let me encourage you to give it a real try. If you want to don the red and blue glasses, go ahead, I sure did! But more importantly, give the film itself a chance. There’s a lot to love here, as long as you understand going into it… This is not night of the living dead… And it’s not trying to be. Approach it as it’s own thing, and I think you just might enjoy it.

Early July

What took them three months to release Suicide Squad Blaze part 3? I mean, Rogues as well, but I jumped off that train with part two anyhow. 3 months for these black label titles???? *ugh* This isn’t Image comics you know guys! And everyone keeps trying to tell me the comics industry isn’t broken.

It’s strange too . the title actually got a lot worse in the intrum. I know I keep harping on the Amanda Waller as a villain thing, but they REALLY turned her into a terrible person here – off the charts. The story goes esoteric off the charts and gives the strangest Vertigo title a run for it’s money. It’s one of those things – you can go too freaky, too weird, and too edgy. Blaze revs up and goes right off that cliff.

It’s a beautiful fall though. The art is absolutely gorgeous and inspired. Standing alone it’s some wonderful rendering. But for this thing to fall apart here is a big disappointment to me – especially with me digging the first couple issues.

I’d actually completely forgotten that Batman ’89 was still going. I probably should have just waited for the whole thing to wrap up and grab a trade. I still might, now that it’s all over. a trade would look really nice next to my copy of the actual film adaption (By Jerry Ordway – my favorite Superman artist no less!)

It’s genuinely an interesting take on this universe. I’m not sure I would have been happy with it if this had been the actual third film, but then again – I wonder how much like this a film would have been. I don’t feel as much Burton influence as I think we would have seen had he made it. I also remember not being real thrilled with the racebending on Robin when it was rumored back then, but then again, I was similarly disappointed with the recasting of Two-Face when we ultimately got Batman Forever (which I DO really like). Because this exists as an exercise in theory, I think it becomes far more palatable and it’s been an interesting enough read – with the occasional moments of brilliance.

I also checked in with Daredevil. You may recall me pointing out that Devil’s Reign didn’t quite reestablish the status quo that I really wanted, rather redirecting DD into a whole new globetrotting direction – but before we do, it’s time for one last night out on the town in the big apple, busting heads with Spidey. It’s genuinely good. It’s everything I want this title to be. We’ll see where issue two goes, but this one bit of storytelling sure did make a good deposit of goodwill in the bank.

Over at the Punisher though – my patience is just about wearing out. They are doubling down on this garbage about Frank being a trouble kid and trying to retcon a foreshadowing of the Punisher into his ten year old self and ….UGH! Just read my last review. It’s all there.

There’s some cool stuff here once we get past that bit. It’s particuarly interesting to see Lady Bullseye and her companion show up to do battle with Frank…and we may just be seeing the real turning point here where he turns on the Hand. It sure feels like it, but I’m honestly not sure where this is going. For now I’m still on the ride and just enjoying the pretty pictures.

By the way, is anyone else reading Flashpoint Beyond? I grabbed issue three on impulse and then had to go back and read the rest of it. Perhaps it’s got to do with me recently reading through that amazing Flashpoint special ediditon trade, but I really enjoy this. I find most Batman comics from the last decade or so to just be impenetrable, but this actually works for me. It’s a cool continuation in that universe and actually does these characters some justice. Seriously, give this title a chance and see if you don’t dig it.

Speaking if digging stuff…I finally figured out why this current run of Ghost Rider has got me so hooked.

Quite frankly, it’s Hellblazer. This title is absolutely a new version of Hellblazer – but with more motorcycles and chains. (and not THAT many more chains – John got into some WIERD stuff)

It really occurred to me when I was watching the cop who’s pursuing him do magic. Her partner isn’t into it, so it feels cheeky and alien to him, but it’s that sort of mystical edged horror that we’re really seeing here in Ghost Rider. It gives it a freshness of dark delights that just has me totally hooked. It even spills over onto the other characters in the series. This issue it’s Ghost Rider vs the Circus of Crime. Now these guys are fine – but on the goofy side. very 70’s marvel….

This issue is the Circus of Crime like you’ve NEVER seen them before… and they are TERRIFYING.

Batgirls continues to be delightful. Normally I’d be annoyed that Babs is coming in and taking center stage, taking the focus off of Cass and Steph, but man. She’s just so CUTE with Dick. Like, I barely remember what the actuall misson was. I was just there to watch her and Nightwing flirt.
They don’t skimp on the action, never fear. There’s plenty of jumping and punching and foiled evil, but the way these characters are written is just SO compelling and I haven’t ben THIS into Dick and Babs since the ORIGINAL Birds of Prey when it was running simultaneously with the original run of Nightwing. This stuff is ABSOLUTELY back on form. I can’t believe this is one of my favorite comics going right now but is totally is.

The other title I’ve found myself looking forward too every month is the current relaunch of Archer and Armstrong. The books was always a little cracked, but it’s just complete Lunacy these days and enormous fun. Imagine opening the book to see something like this….

Like I said….just really fun. And that’s a lot of what I’m looking for these days. I know we’re only on issue three of this run so far, but it feels like I’ve gotten way more than three issues of reading out of them. I’ll leave you with this image and check back next time!











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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Capital City Comic Con

It’s a little pet peeve of mine. I never got Rico Ross on my Wishmaster poster. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know he was even in the movie when I met him in Chicago all those years ago, but moreover, I probably didn’t even have the poster started that. Still, he plays such a fun character in it… The cop role really works for him. So it’s always buged me that his autograph is not on my poster. When I saw Capital City Comicon advertising him along with an Aliens reunion… I started to waiver. I mean, Lansing is a much tougher drive than Detroit. It’s over three hours and gas is still 4.50 or more. However, it was my birthday and I had a little extra cash… so I took the day off from work, and headed out Friday night.

I chose Friday night specifically because it’s a good deal cheaper than Saturday. And that kind of cost is what had me thinking I was rolling into one of those big souless mega cons, and I was really just on a mercenary mission to sneak in, get my autographs and sneak out. It be good to have Spunkmeyer on my Aliens poster, and I also had a stack of Hope comics with me. This is a sort of superhero title that my acquaintance Dirk Manning wrote. I see Dirk probably half a dozen times a year, but I’ve never met his collaborator, artist K Lynn Smith. I figured I’d grab her autographs on these books while the getting was good.

Lansing is a smaller town than I had expected. The convention center is plenty big, but the city itself is kind of small, like Akron… I didn’t have to drive too far to find free street parking. Still, the prospect of walking 2 1/2 blocks in unfamiliar territory was definitely enough to get me to leave my Shadow costume behind. Walking into the convention center, you get the impression that shows been around for a while. The whole operation is running smoothly, like a well oiled machine. A Big dealers room in the main hall, two tables set up, one for pre-registration and one for tickets at the door. I did notice however, down the other hall, just passed the restrooms, were two smaller conference rooms being used for panels. Capital City does set up a main stage in the main hall, a place for the celebrities to give their panels as well as events like the costume contests or the odd wedding. But these smaller conference rooms are also holding panels. Smaller stuff, exploring fandom, or writers workshops. That’s exactly the sort of panel that you expect to see at a smaller show… Exactly the sort of thing I love. I was both surprised and pleased to see it here, because It’s also usually the first thing that gets dropped when the convention grows.

One thing that hasn’t dropped though, is the autograph prices. In fact it’s going up. You’re gonna see me doing fewer and fewer autographs these days, mostly just filling holes in my collection like I was on this trip. They’re charging too much for D-List celebrities (Supporting players who were never leads) who are signing their name and then personalizing it to you… that isn’t a collectible, but they’re certainly charging collectible prices, and it makes me feel bad paying it. Still, it was nice to catch up with Rico and chat a little bit about his time on Doctor Who. Ms. Smith was delightful as well, choosing different colored markers design different colored covers… I pulled out the comics and she grinned holding up her markers in the light. “I’m ready!“ It was a fun encounter.

One of the things that really struck me at this convention where the number of environments set up for photo ops. The Mandalorian crew had brought up a whole Star Wars set, and a local maker had set up a monsters Inc. environment. The lost in space robot was out here as well, and so we’re several celebrity cars… Parked on the far side of the main hall. I mystery machine, a weird Gothic Hot rod, and my delight, the car from knight rider. I grabbed a random passerby and finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of getting a photo with K.I.T.T. Literally, I had this car right after college, but it was white… And even today the Imid heads up display in my car features the K.I.T.T. interface. This was an absolute delight for me. Also nice that the cars were set up simply as exhibits… No charge, no donation, just come and see them. I really didn’t complain too much dropping a five dollar bill to see the DeLorean from back to the future last month at Fanboy Expo Columbus, and I was OK paying a similar amount to sit in the back to one way back in 2014 when they featured it at Horrorhound Cincinnati… But I gotta admit, I’m much more appreciative when they just have the cars out for you to ogle and photograph. Speaking as the owner a Batmobile, that’s what I do. I’ve never charged anybody for a photo with my Bat car!

The extra photo op areas does seem to be a trend that I’m seeing more and more of, and I really dig it. There was also an FX artist on the other side of the room featuring gigantic towering replicas of Groot and the Demogorgon from stranger things. All of these environments actually made me kind of glad I wasn’t wearing a costume! It all really adds value to the convention… And I have to say, Capital city really went out of his way to do just that. There’s a lot more heart here than I expected, and a lot more to explore and do. This one’s actually a big recommend to anybody in the area, and quite frankly, let’s just see what gas does next year. Because if I can swing it, I think I might just be back to do a full day there next time.



All Finales!

Man, it’s all finales all day over here! Admittedly, I’m a little late. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but in the meantime I didn’t even know that Superman and Lois as well as the flash we’re both ending on the same week! When I referred to the penultimate episode in the last blog, turns out, I was actually accurate! There’s not a whole lot to say about Superman and Lois. They wrapped up the storyline, gave us a good climax, and then spent a good 15 minutes after all that tying up loose ends and resolving the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I also particularly enjoyed them slipping in what may be the most obscure Easter egg ever. If you know what that Miracle Monday banner actually refers to… You can absolutely be my friend.
The Flash on the other hand felt a little abrupt in it’s ending. The whole thing really sped along… No pun intended… In creating its own climax. I felt like I needed another two episodes or so, not surprising considering the season was only 20 episodes. The plague still affecting us and giving us shorter seasons I think. Nevertheless, it was a spectacular ending, with the ultimate fight between Flash and Thawn (Who’s your tailor? SATAN???) and you can genuinely see where this was designed to be a series finale. That may be one of the reasons it feels so rushed, because the renewal for this show came very late, and they were trying to tie it all off. Last minute changes had to be made so they could pull one more season out of this series, and I for one am actually glad. The Flash has actually really rebounded in the last season and a half, and I’m definitely up for one more ride. I swear, part of me thinks that the reason the movie keeps getting delayed is because the series just won’t die… Somewhere, somehow, Barry keeps messing with the timeline to make sure that the film doesn’t come out until the TV shows ready to end!

Ms Marvel may actually be the strongest of the Marvel shows right now. It’s almost as if Marvel discovered superhero action again… There’s still not enough of it mind you, but definitely more than what we got in WandaVision or Loki. Episode four gives us a pretty spectacular fight and chase, and they almost gave us a costume. Not quite, but almost get there. It’s back to a very talky story though once we hit episode five. It’s almost entirely made up of a flashback, going back to Kamala’s ancestors and more of the bracelets origins. It’s actually the exact sort of thing that would get cut if anybody was trying for anything resembling normal pacing. Indeed, I think the filler in these shows is a lot more onerous, because they’re such short series. When you got 22 episodes, yeah, give me a flashback episode. Let’s explore every bit of the history. When you’ve only got six episodes? Just put her in the mask and let me see her punching things. Still, the finale does that’s good. It’s a nice big chase, it’s a nice big fight, it almost feels divorced from a lot of the rest of the series. Come on was protecting the son of the ClanDestine leader… resolving in New Jersey the big adventure that we had in Pakistan. We also finally get the costume. Seriously, this has been one of the thanks it’s really annoyed and frustrated me in this series. Why do we wait till the very end, the last episode to get the costume? I was supposed WandaVision did a similar thing, but then again, it pissed me off there too!

Nevertheless, Ms Marvel seems to be the closest thing to getting it right that Marvel has done on television. It’s not there yet, and they still seem obsessed with a certain formula that isn’t quite working. I’m hoping somebody starts to fine-tune this a little bit more, because for the first time I really see the potential here. it doesn’t hurt that the actress playing Kamala is cute as a button and perfectly adorkable in the role. She gets the character and really pulls it off well. Indeed, I hope they jump straight into some more with her, because a big part of her charm is her youth. And she’s not gonna stay that age for very long… But much to my pleasant surprise, they may actually get me to watch the marvels just because of her! Imagine that.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Mahoning Valley Comicon

New year! New con!

So what’s my first impression? This is a small convention. I mean a really small convention. For a show that’s trying to get off the ground and actually advertising D list celebrity guests… they sure are trying to pack everybody into one tiny hotel room. The dealers room was tiny and cramped, and while they did have a second one around the corner That thing was even smaller. You could do the first dealers room in 10 minutes and the second in 5… And boy am I glad I didn’t bring a Lego costume with me. That had been the intent until I discovered That thing was even smaller. You could do the first dealers room in 10 minutes and the second in five… And boy am I glad I didn’t bring a Lego costume with me. That had been the intent until I discovered The costume contest was going to be on Sunday, instead of the Saturday we were going to be present at. One of my Lego costumes literally would not have been able to fit through half of the dealers room. On the other hand, I only got to wear the McMandalorian once… This was a great opportunity. Maddie had her my hero academia gender bend ready as well so off we went.

I know I say this a lot, but this is one of those that I wish was closer to home. 100 miles away and an hour and 45 minute journey is a bit much for a show the small, on the other hand… They really are trying. We sat in on a couple of the panels, and they had some really interesting stuff. 40 years of collecting Spider-Man… As well as a paranormal investigator, And a cosplay panel. All ran, all were engaging and interesting, and those first two especially, we’re different than what we’re used to seeing a lot of these shows. They both really captured my daughters interest… Something I thought was really cool. I particularly enjoyed the paranormal investigator, as he approaches it from a biblical perspective. He references scripture constantly drawing parallels and comparisons to modern phenomenon that investigators encounter. When the panel was complete, Maddie and I looked at each other. “I think we need to get a copy of his book.“.

It was a good day, with some really interesting photo ops. They had a lost in space robot as well as an R2-D2 set up, and I really dig this kind of thing. It seems to becoming more popular and I’m glad they made the space for it. It really adds value to a small show like this. Like I said, they tried real hard. I think if they opened up double the dealers space, we’d really have something here. I’m actually genuinely interested in seeing how this develops. It had initially build itself as Warren comicon, but then had to postpone… And during the hiatus, a lot of things, including the name and the guest list changed. It makes me wonder if this was really the show they wanted to put on, but in any event, I think this was a genuinely good first year and I hope to see great things from this show in the future.

View Maddie’s review below, and then photos after the jump!




Critters 2


indexThe best sequels take the formula of the previous movie and turn it up a notch. Aliens took its source material and cranked it up by adding a ton more aliens and increasing the action 100 fold. Critters amps up the ridiculous instead.
We return to Grover’s bend, with the kid who survived the last critter attack. The bounty hunters are back as well, and so are the bloodthirsty little hairballs. Critter eggs get mixed in with Easter eggs and they begin their free-for-all on the town.
When I really enjoy about critters to though is the way the absurdity gets cranked up.
We have a bounty hunter that needs to find a form to take on, the first thing he sees is a playboy centerfold and morphs into her – a significant departure from what we’ve seen previously…and a bit of surprise to see a topless scene in a PG-13 movie! The critters inde1xthemselves are more obnoxious and more absurd, with my favorite scene occurring with them in an all you can eat buffet. It’s the first time we get to see the giant critter ball as well, we are all of the little creatures combined together to make one large rolling wrecking ball. This level of ridiculousness and comedy mixed in with violence and gore would continue throughout the rest of the series, and it’s really from the second film that we see a lot of the heart that we would get used to in the series. Sadly the next two entries would end up being direct to video.



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

Every Wednesday and Friday



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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Rivers 9

Looking at the credits for Rivers 9, I see C. Thomas Hall, Vinnie Jones and Jamie Kennedy. Bad. The whole poker motif going on under the credits also gets my attention. I enjoy Vegas style stories.

We got a new casino moving into a small town and sucking all the finances out of it. One of the really squeezed is a car mechanic named Jake Rivers finally takes out his frustrations on the windshield of one of the casino employees well the local sheriff (C Thomas Howell in an audacious wig and fake mustache ) is trying to make time with his wife
Vinnie Jones, the casino owner doesn’t take Carlie to Jakes assaults, and strikes back – burning his home, blocking the roadwith a down tree, and making a bit of a threat to his sister, Who works at the casino as a cocktail waitress.

Solid first act set up. Time for a mechanic to get some payback. He grabs one of the guys that hangs out in the shop and get some to introduce him to the person who installed One of the systems in the casino… You’ll have the blueprints… And… Oh my God. You’re kidding me…”River’s 9”.

Seriously? This is an Ocean’s Eleven mockbuster???

Seriously I can’t believe it took me halfway through the movie to realize it.

They start together of the crew, locals and disgruntled casino employees, and get ready for the heist. Hire an actor to distract the main guy in a poker game while they steal the casino money.

There’s no tension in this poker game. I think this thing needs a score and some drama… Because quite frankly I feel nothing. Then again, there’s not enough attention as our guy climbs through the air ducts to get to the safe room either… We occasionally get a jazzy score in the background, something to evoke Ocean’s Eleven, but the very low tech backwater style of this film is pretty much enough to constantly remind you that this ain’t that.

Ultimately, that’s really the problem. I don’t know who this was made for. In a world where Ocean’s Eleven exists, I don’t know who’s gonna watch this instead. It’s really not fair to compare it either, they such different kinds of movies, but the film invites a comparison in some of the styles that it tries and fails to emulate as well as the name and general mood of the peace. I think this might’ve been better served in trying to give it its own identity rather than piggybacking on a popular franchise… especially with the more action oriented double-cross showdown at the end.  It’s a shame that they went this rout instead of trying to mock buster something they didn’t have any hope of coming close to.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday



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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Pound of Flesh


indexVan Damme’s looking good in Pound of Flesh, he’s wearing dark glasses to hide the bags under his eyes and is striking in a black suit as he checked into a hotel.

After being so pleased with Kickboxer : Vengence, I was feeling OK taking a chance on another dollar tree action purchase, but there’s always a lingering fear that my luck will run out, especially considering Van Damme’s track record with late career DTV releases.

We start the movie with disjointed images in a sort of halfhearted attempt to give us a backstory. I can’t complain, we’re not going back too far… A couple days probably and it gives us an excuse for a fight within the first five minutes. Van Damme rescues a young woman from a mugger or something in an alley… It’s all very stereo typical. The girl take them out to club for a drink to show him her gratitude, takes her back to her room, and steals his kidney.

bfc37acfd4740383b514d6fe8612d10cNo, really. He wakes up in a tub of ice a little lighter, and this is obviously where we get our title pound of flash.

Van Damm phones up Aki Aleongan, an old underworld friend (His charm and delivery actually reminds a great deal of Victor Wong and if they ever wanted to remake Prince of Darkness, he’d make a great Birack) to help him out, because Van Damme is determined to get his kidney back (He figures he’s got 10 hours before it goes to somebody else).

I’m quite amused that VanDamme begins his beat down tour by laying out a couple of index2club bouncers with a Gideon Bible. He’s in good form here. This first stop leads us to a clue about a fight club where the thief will be, and before we close out the first act, we’ve got to throw in some extra character motivation. After all going after a bunch of action villians just to get your kidney back seems like a kind of silly premise doesn’t it? Turns out he was planning on donating that to his brothers daughter who is three months to live. Things feel a little bit less silly now. A little.

The car chase leads us to a very unpretentious fight club and largely empty room, and a rematch between VanDamme and the mugger – the real mastermind behind the theft.  Who we now know was the thieves assistant.
imagesAs they get closer to locating the stolen flesh, the black market starts to fight back culminating in Van Damme’s infiltration of a large complex and a last ditch effort attempt to reclaim his property before his niece dies.

It’s a standard direct to video fare and Van Damme action film, no worse than most of the others. It’s hard to like any of these characters though, the hooker who stole the kidney, The fallen priest, or Van Damme’s pretty scummy character and the reasons he’s at odds with his brother. (I’s something when you have to admit that the old gangster buddy is actually the most sympathetic character in the movie!) They could benefit from a pure hero rather than some of these inexplicable shades of gray. It doesn’t pass the watch test, and both the twist and the ending are absolute total drags . Most days of the week I’d probably be more inclined to grab Hard Target or Death Warrant. Then again, you can only watch the same film so many times and as JCVD action goes, this one isn’t terrible.

Room 33

index.jpgRoom 33 starts with a van full of people on the road, heading out to a Roller derby match. We’re treated to some really interesting looking credits – the film may be grainy, but the credits are scratching letters overlaid on artistically rendered vines and branches and dark backgrounds. It’s actually really effective. Once we get past the credits the van comes upon a couple whose car has broken down and there is some question about the wisdom picking up hitchhikers, this is a horror movie after all!

There is work to avoid something – we’re not sure what, really good quick flash cuts of the background, and rammed into a tree.

The mysterious road that the van is riding on however comes to a dead end – that’s not what the map says, but there is no way to proceed and the van is nearly out of gas.

Look there’s a driveway!

Well where there is a driveway, there is a house right?

index.jpgAs they make their way to the house, they can hear strange noises, screams coming from the woods, before finding an old abandoned building that they decide to stay the night in – They’ll look for gas in the morning.The ominous graffiti inside doesn’t deter them.

Inside they find a young woman with extreme PSTD who initially attacks one of their party with a shovel, misses, then cowers underneath the sink in the kitchen. Outside a man in black stalks the premises… and he has some connection to the girl.

It’s a good set up with some surprisingly fresh innovation, blending slasher, stalking with just a touch of haunt. Shots of the girls on rollerskates (and presumably being followed by a cameraman also on skates) creates an interesting smooth motion and energy to the film. Things start to ramp up before we even hit the halfway shoppingmark, so you certainly can’t complain about its pacing.

I wouldn’t entirely call the ending a twist – but it’s definitely a satisfying resolution, even if it doesn’t give us all the answers we need

Room 33 is a genuinely fun and satisfying horror movie, and if the rest of the films in this collection in it like this, I’m looking forward to finishing it up