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Archive for August, 2022


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

Every Wednesday and Friday



Kazokukon 2022

Glass City Center, Toledo, OH Aug 26-28


“I’ll give them this, I at least admire the effort.“

I hate to say it, but Maddie’s right… I’ll give them props for trying, and the show wasn’t a complete waste of time, but if I had to use one word to describe this convention, it would be “disappointment“.

It was a rush for us actually, I literally hadn’t heard of the show until about 5:30 Saturday night, when a post asking for help judging their costume contest came across my feed. Up until then, I’d seen no social media references, no posts, no idea that it existed. Nevertheless, while there wasn’t enough time to get out there Saturday, I figured Maddie and I could make the trip Sunday, so I ran upstairs, gave her a heads up, and we started pulling Isabella and Archduke Levouis for the next day. I couldn’t help but notice that the map they had on their Google doc seemed awfully small… Especially considering how large the venue was. Nevertheless, the photos looked reasonably active, and it was only an hour and a half to Toledo, so we would just hope and that it felt bigger in person.

The day started off well enough, I managed to hit a Toledo Burger King on the way there to use the breakfast coupon I’ve gotten at fantasticon.  It was only good in Toledo, and I was delighted to actually get back into town to use it. We found parking on the city street, a mere half block away. We got ready and walked over to the building. We found one sign that said “event entrance”… But when we went into those doors, we saw a shockingly empty building. It was empty enough to make us wonder if we were in the right place or if things were still going on. We turned left, walked around to look, and couldn’t find anybody. We ended up outside and a gentleman in the parking garage directed us to the correct floor. The elevator deposited us right where we had started, and so this time we went right. We were able to find the entrance to the show that way, that we did have to ask one more time while we were in the building.

We apprehensively walked to the admission table, a plain table with no adornment, set against a black background. A guy dressed in a schoolgirl costume looked up at us, apparently annoyed that we were taking him away from his phone.

“Did you pre-register?“ “I replied no and he gruffly cut me off.

“ $20. CASH.”

Fortunately, that’s how I planned to pay anyhow, and Maddie handed him over a $50 bill while he distractedly rummaged around for her change.

There were no signs there leading around, although the very basic blocky map was available. We wandered into the first enclosure that we found, only to be pitched a professional photo op. Not what we’re looking for. We wandered a little further down and noted board games and video games in one section, and finally reached the other end of the convention space where there was a panel just about to get started. Around the corner was the oddly spaced dealers room, a small section comparatively but packed with an interesting variety of dealers. Nevertheless, the whole time, we couldn’t help but notice how empty everything was. Indeed, even in the dealers room, there were multiple tables that were bare, looking like they had hoped for more vendors than had shown up.

Things were a little easier once we got to lay of the land, but this is a small show, with not a lot going on Sunday. We sat and listened to most of the panel with ninja Dan, and managed to make it back for anime idol, I sort of singing and dancing competition. Another event though that was really poorly planned out… With large gaps between the performances. The moderator actually had to jump up and sing some of his own songs to pad the time and it really came off as clunky.

Not all was bad here. While the vendors room wasn’t huge, it did feature a really interesting and diverse selection of dealers. Maddie grabbed a really nice little charm from demon slayer, as well as a grab bag of stickers and prints and stuff. I made my way over to one of the booths to grab a stack of comics… Those are having a hard time going through the long boxes. The things were packed quite tightly, and I like dexterity and gloves. Nevertheless, I found a few Star Trek that I’ve never seen before along with some other fun stuff I’d been meaning to dip my toe in. These boxes in particular were set up as dollar boxes, but a note on the sign revealed they were actually dollar… or less boxes. Plenty of issues inside were $.75 or $.50, and that was actually a nice pleasant surprise. I got a pair of pretty chopsticks from my other daughter, and splurged on a beautiful dragon themed dagger for myself. That’s the thing about going to a convention… If the show starts this is disappoint you, it’s still up to you

I have the end of the day, I think they bit off more than they could chew. They tried to throw a huge anime show but weren’t prepared adequately for the logistics. There’s not nearly enough programming or events or even guests to justify their entry fee. I can understand why it Has to be that expensive, the venue isn’t cheap. But this is the sort of show that really should’ve been started off smaller, out of the HW Hall or a college gym. They could’ve filled that up just fine. It also needed some more promotion, and perhaps should’ve taken baby steps in growing itself. This is the sort of show that really would’ve benefited from joining forces with a local anime club or something like that. On its own, there weren’t enough volunteers to help guide and run events, and the entire flow of the layout is wonky and confusing. And they need better signage and more logic to how things are displayed. If I had any advice, it would be cut your ticket price in half (and reduce it even further for Sundays, when you’re n

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps it was a wildly successful show and I just didn’t notice… Perhaps I was just there at the wrong time. I’ll give you that, Saturday would’ve been a much better day to go. If I’d known about it, that’s what I would’ve attended. But nevertheless, I’m seeing a lot of rough edges here… And perhaps it’s just because it’s their first year. I’m going to cut them some slack for that, but honestly… Unless I hear about some significant changes, I doubt we’ll be back next year.




Last couple weeks’s pulls

It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’ve fallen behind on stuff like comics and television, but I finally made it back out to the shop to pick up my pull list,  and a couple of things off the shelf. Nevertheless, my stack was significantly smaller than I would’ve expected.

I’d actually forgotten about the Human Target. It’s been a while since the last issue came out… And seeing this on the shelf made me wonder if I had just missed a few months and the series had wrapped up without me? No. It’s still solicits issue seven at the back, so apparently the title was just paused or late. I’ve got a bone to pick though, with calling this tales of the human target. This is not a human target book. This is a justice league international book. That’s a problem. Not just the branding, but dropping a JLI book into this run, because the thing about justice league international was the book was funny. It was at just the right time, right in the middle of the comics boom, and shortly before the implosion… At a perfect time for an experiment. A perfect time for a silly book that could play with superhero tropes and give us something a little more lighthearted. It worked in that context for a while, but as the market shrink, we would see the pendulum swing back towards adventure and playing it straight with Gran morrison’s JLA.

Human target is not a funny series. And when you drop a group like the JLI into a slightly nihilistic deconstruction, it’s just awful. Justice league international when written as a satire is goofy and silly and fun. But when written as a straight up deconstruction, it makes the heroes look sad and incompetent. It’s just not a fun book.

What’s even more frustrating, is that I was warned. I’ve been enjoying human target, with a quibble here or there, a few decisions I wasn’t big on, but for the most part Tom King has just slightly touched these characters bringing them into visit as side characters in the background.They told me Tom King was up to no good, and I should’ve listened. Because this book right here is no good. I don’t know if it was planned as a bunch of back up stories or a companion piece, maybe something to throw in the back of the tree paper back… Dropping it right here in the middle when you’re already late feels like a misstep. It stops everything dead cold, and quite frankly turns me off enough that I’m not so sure I’m interested in continuing the series. Maybe I’ll just take a peek when it’s over.

Ghost Rider on the other hand continues to be good. It’s an interesting supernatural adventure… And one that’s very much in ghost riders wheelhouse. Out in the wastes we called the devils backbone, there is an annual motorcycle race… At the end of the race, you meet the devil. When you meet him, you can ask a question or a boon or something… And it’s just a cool concept well done. We need more of that. It’s interesting, because you look at some of the faces here, Dr. doom, wolverine, a lot of familiar marvel characters and it makes sense to put them in this context, that’s sort of desperation. It’s almost reminiscent of the secret six story arc about the various villains chasing after what basically amounted to a get out of jail free card, only for hell. I like this. It’s one of the better runs of Ghost Rider I’ve ever seen, and I hope they keep the creep and the quality up.

Over at Iron Man I am again a little confused, because it felt like I missed an issue. No, this is actually going back in time a bit. Before the previous issue where Tony’s captured and fighting for his life, we’ve got a rewind to remind ourselves of his relationship with war machine. That’s gonna be important, because war machine someone coming after him, complete with that black stealth suit that we see painted onto the cover. It’s a set up and a pause and again, I have to note that these sort of stories really do killed him I meant about the title, but at least in this case, it’s done well and stays engaging. Unlike that pause in human target, this issue does a good job of setting up where we’re going next.

And then there’s Batgirls. This title is also in the middle of what feels like a bridge story. We’re kind of done with the last arc, and setting up the next one, which gives us a nice excuse to hang out with the Batgirls for shenanigans. And shenanigans it is. Look, one of things I’m really enjoying here is the character development. You know, I dipped in and out of Cassie‘s Batgirl series back in the day. I was particularly interested in the brief “will they or one day“ with Superboy, and shocked by the whole “getting fired“ storyline. There was good stuff here and there on the cruise ship, things that helped us get to know Cassie, but the entire point of her character is that she doesn’t have any character. She’s basically a blank slate, and it’s harder to develop that and draw it out when you’ve just got her paired up with a mentor like Barbara. Pairing her up with Stephanie, I feel like we see so much more character development here in these nine issues than I’ve seen in the past 10 years with the various appearances in and out of her own series.

There’s also some interesting character development going on over in Spider-Man. We’re starting to see some carryover from the past series, particularly in how they’re handling Norman Osborne. It’s interesting, I’ll definitely give you that. There’s so much here that I like, and yet I’m still not sure if it’s enough to balance out the frustration over what I don’t know. This is one of those titles where I find myself more often than not dipping in and out of i’m not consistent with my reading on this one, simply because without enough information, I just don’t feel committed. The JR JR art isn’t helping me any either, but I’ve looked past that before and the colorists really does help prop him up.

Nevertheless, the writer definately has a handle on Peter’s voice. Spidey is always at his best when the writer gets him and his humor, and I think my single favorite moment in this issue is when the Vulture complains about Spidey telling someone he’s a murderer –

“But aren’t you trying to murder me right now?”

Then there’s She Hulk. Not necessarily a comic, but certainly a comic property. The first episode was OK. I think OK is really the operative word, otherwise some things that I didn’t care for. In particular, don’t let your kids watch the after credit sequence. Dropping that F bomb was a little bit shocking and didn’t make any of us particularly happy. The series has of course gotten the majority of his coverage over Jennifer‘s rant about how she does being angry better than Bruce… I don’t need to cover that here, except to say it was a dumb thing to insert. It’s not compelling, if anything it’s a self-inflicted wound. I can blow it off though, because this Jennifer Walters… She’s not a good person. She’s narcissistic self involved and aspires to victimhood. “She Hulk? That name better not stick. I can’t even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk?“ Well no. You can’t. Because that’s exactly what you are… A derivative of the Hulk. That’s what the character always was! It’s stuff like this it just turns me right off and sours the stuff that actually manages to be funny. I think Mecharandom42 on Youtube put it best – “Stop lecturing me about how bad you have it.” I agree. You office and home are WAY nicer than anything I’ve ever had. It’s just…..*sigh*.

And the funny parts? You’ve already seen all of episode one in commercials basically. It’s not untill we get into part two that we really start to get in to the story, but even then, the pity party continues. Jen is hired by a firm developing a new superhuman division. However, they want her because she’s She-hulk. She walks through the halls, bitter and angry; “I’lll never know if they hired me for my skill or just because I’m She-Hulk!”. No, you do know. You ABSOLUTELY were hired because you’re She-Hulk. And it’s gotten you a massive corner office and high salary. Here I’m just hoping that this is a character arc and that she’s a better person on the other end of this, because right now- she LOOKS like She-Hulk, but the character is still utterly unrecognizable. The Jen Walters I know, doesn’t resent being She-Hulk. Big and green actually gives her confidence and makes her feel beautiful and empowered, not….whatever this is.

Disney/Marvel? In the words of Sam Wilson  – “Do better”.


Moscow Zero

DollarindexDid you ever buy a movie, solely based on the location? That’s exactly why I grabbed this copy of Moscow zero. The film promises us a dark journey into the depths of the underground catacombs below Moscow, and it does not disappoint.

We have Vincent Gallo as a priest looking for his mentor, being led by some local guides. We flashback frequently to the mentor charting the ruins and investigating. Along the way we find homeless communities that survive midway below the city, and who are intent on sealing up these particular catacombs because they fear dark spirits within. The ghosts are indeed there, the souls of a group of children who fled persecution to hide in these catacombs, eventually perishing alone in the darkness.

It’s all wonderfully moody and eerily lit, although I wish they could’ve made the ghosts a little spookier and added to the atmosphere. Val Kilmer is prominently featured on this cover, but he’s a minor character at best – this being right after his peak and at the beginning of his decline. He still brings his trademark charisma to the film, but it’s the main cast that do the real heavy lifting and brilliantly create a suspenseful trek through the dark and rocky catacombs below the deapths of Russia. It’s absolutely worth a look if you can find it used or the cost of a rental.

Gone in 60 Seconds 1974

I’m actually a big fan of Gone in 60 Seconds with Nicolas Cage. In fact, I much prefer it to The Fast and the Furious, which feels like a very similar movie to me – at least the first one did before the franchise turned into ghetto James Bond. There’s something charming about Nicolas Cage when he’s on his game and surrounded by good people. It’s one of only a handful of films that Angela Jolie stars and where I don’t feel like punching her in the face. I mean, I don’t know a thing about what they’re talking about when they’re describing the various cars or engines, but man it sure does makes me wish I did. There’s also something just charming and the filling about a good heist movie where you’re not sure who you’d rather root for – the detective or the thieves. Gone in 60 seconds is absolutely one of those films that I’ll drop everything and watch whenever I’m flipping through the cable channels.

Imagine my surprise to discover that it’s a remake.

Back one year before I was born, H B Halicki was plotting his cinematic debut. He was a mechanic who fixed cars, ran impounds and was a general competent gearhead all around. They say to write what you know, so that’s exactly what he did. He crafted a story around cars and high-speed chases and threw in as many car crashes as he could possibly get away with. He spent the previous years buying up as many cars as he could from auctions and impounds and etc. most of which were purchased for the express purpose of destroying them within his debut film, Gone in 60 Seconds.

You’ll recognize a lot from this film if you’re familiar with the Cage movie. There are a few changes of course. Halicki is an insurance adjuster who moonlights as a car thief, but it’s still a massive car heist on a deadline. They specifically target cars that are insured, that way the owners will be made whole, but this puts him at odds with his brother and his job. We get other elements from the Cage film as well – the scene with the drug dealers car where they have to blow away the heroin by gunning the exhaust is here, as well as the relationship with Eleanor. Also much like the Cage film, the final chase takes up much of the film – this one goes on ridiculously long clocking in at right around 40 minutes, and culminating in the same type of epic jump that Cage manages in the remake… only in the original, the jump isn’t a CG monstrosity against a blue screen, it’s the real thing that ramps up Eleanor 30 feet into the air and 130 feet in distance, landing with an earth shattering crash that jammed 10 vertebrae in Halicki’s spine. He never walked quite the same again, and never regretted a moment of it.

It’s a fairly rough film, and you can tell that it’s Halicki’s first effort. It took a while to complete and occasionally they’d have to shut down production and fix cars in the very garage they were shooting at to raise funds. A great deal the film is overdubbed and shot on extremely grainy stock. The hair and fashions are 70s in the extreme, and I don’t mean Hollywood 70s either. Some of the stunts aren’t actually stunts either. For instance, when Halicki wraps Eleanor around a telephone pole towards the end of the film, that’s not a stunt, that’s an accident. The driver in the car behind him tapped him on the back and sent him spinning out of control. Halicki blacked out as the car came to a teeth rattling stop. When he woke up his first words were reportedly “Did we get coverage?”.

Despite all of its flaws that I can’t help but really digging the movie. The film just has so much heart and I genuinely admire this guy for really going for it. This is a dude who created a film out of nothing, doing his own stunts and creating his own world, and ultimately crafting something that would last forever.

If you dig the Nicolas Cage Gone in 60 Seconds I can’t recommend this enough… If you enjoy 70s films or car chase movies it’s once again an incredibly high recommend and I cannot for the life of me understand why this man did not have a much bigger career.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Cabin Fever : Patient Zero

OK Cabin Fever Patient Zero, you’ve got quite a bit to prove. Because here’s the thing, I’m not a big fan of the original. I mean I don’t hate it, I think I’ve watched it twice back in the day. Those two times were both on VHS, so that let you know about how long ago it was. I haven’t sought out the remake or really any of the sequels, but I’ll admit, seeing a familiar franchise name like this on the shelves of dollar tree, and noticing Sean Astin in the credits… OK. I’m good. It’s 94 minutes, so that’s manageable, especially on one and a half speed. But, Patient Zero, you have a lot to prove and I’m going into this defiant.

The contagions already underway, and people are trying to contain it which gives you an idea of what kind of movie this will be. Sean Astin is in custody, playing a character named Porter. He is the only non-asymptomatic carrier of this disease, and his family is dead.
Elsewhere, how much younger cast is arriving in a part of the world where everybody skin as far more darker than ours. Central America? There’s a lot of Spanish language going on hi there. Either way we have a wedding coming up along with the traditional festivities… And the bachelor party. And the bachelor party is taking itself out on a yacht to an abandoned island that the locals won’t go near..
How strange. When snorkeling they find no fish… Not until they come across a cove of desiccated fish corpses that is.
Meanwhile, in the B storyline, Sean Astin is getting poked and prodded, and infecting the staff at the secret government facility. I’m curious if the sea storylines ever meet up..
Back at the campsite, the rashes started. I can’t say I’m feeling too sympathetic. They’ve made most of these characters far less likable than the ones in the original… But then again that’s because they’re just there to die I guess,  and douchebag totally deserves the most heinous squirting scene anyone has ever seen. In search of helpers here, it’s time to explore the abandoned building on the other side of the island.
Oh my God. It’s a building for an Astin was in isn’t it? (yes, yes it is) This is a time jump isn’t it? (No. It’s not.)
OK, at this point I’m just here for the gore. And to be fair, pretty girls skin ripping completely off her arm… Definitely worth the price of admission. Also, are those zombies?
There are some seriously action going on in the last act, and a couple of very impressive bit of blood. What I can say about this film, is that it’s an excellent sequel to the Cabin Fever series. it does everything a good sequel is supposed to do. He expands the world and pushes the mythology a bit. Not a ton, but a bit… It’s a pretty threadbare mythology as it is. If you’re a fan of this series and these movies, you’re gonna like this. If you’re a Gore hound, you’re gonna like this. Seriously, more skin less people than Hell raiser!  It’s almost my thing… But not quite. It’s close enough though, where I can see why people really dig this. Moreover, I gave them huge props for actually giving us a definitive answer as to the origin of the cabin fever virus. This is one of those few criticisms I have George Romero, that he would never give us a firm answer as to where the zombie virus came from. Cabin Fever manages to do so intelligently, dramatically, and without getting in the way of the story.. (Stick around for the end credits which flesh out the initial mention out) It’s actually A soft recommend.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Secret of the Clown

index.jpgThe shadowy silhouettes and well done kills that begin Secret of the Clown give us a promising open, though someone needs to teach these guys about set lighting – things are so dark you can barely see anything. The glimpses of the monsters arms though, there mummified and awkward – unsettling and a good introduction. Once we get into the film proper though, the tension keeps up, with quick cuts of the murders and an occult ceremony happening as a young woman research is something in the local well lit library. The parking lot has the same lighting problems though, and I’m afraid this is going to kill the whole movie. The sound mix as well, it’s muddy, Almost as if the entire thing has been ADR. The quick cuts however keep coming as the young woman takes a shower – she’s obviously experiencing visions.

In the background, there is a creepy clown doll – and it’s left behind when Val walks out on her boyfriend. The boyfriend talks about how she thought the clown protected her. One of his friends smashes it in anger, and that’s when strange happenings begin.

Bobby is haunted by the ghost of his friends who died, and visions of things happening in the house – something is controlling this haunting, and he wants to get to the bottom of it. He brings in a psychic in a very exorcist like scene – and together they begin trying to figure out what haunts the house. The battle to find the killer and rid the house of it’s haunting is quite compelling – I wasn’t expecting so much of a haunted house kind of film. There is elements of American Werewolf in London and The Exorcist here. The imagery is frequently compelling and well crafted, with a surprisingly shoppingexcellent set of twists towards the end. When we finally see the clown itself, it’s a genuinely good design – tattooed and clad in rags. The face itself is the only part that really resembles a clown. It’s a great concept, but held back by and inexpert execution. That’s really the problem with the entire film. Great ideas and a definite vision, but the entire thing is dragged down by the low production values.

At the end of the day it’s still recommend, but only for people who can see past The production as it is and can see it for what it could’ve been.

Devil’s Revenge

Right off the bat, I feel like the devil is trying to convince us it’s going to be good stuff. The credits roll over scenes from the movie, much the way a syndicated adventure show credits would… Like they’re trying to assure us that there’s something good in store, despite the cheap cover art.

We have a group of men exploring a cave, but it’s not going well. Things get even more sinister when they find a chamber but obviously man-made… And filled with bones. He’s located the relic he’s looking for, but at what cost? The whole thing actually gives me very Stephen M Smith vibes… And that’s interesting. There’s a definite for boating here, and things start to go very wrong very quickly as figures appear in the cave, and people begin to die. You don’t need to tell Dude twice. He is out of there!

At least, he’s getting out long enough to resupply and mount another expression… This doesn’t go over well with the wife, but he’s desperate to get back there, so he can break a curse on the family. Even as he argues with the wife on the phone, the demons send a heart attack his way and he crashes the car in the ER, the demons watch.

They look good too… Someone spent some serious money on these outfits, and having a bunch of them around, with their dead, black eye sockets almost gives me a blind dead feeling. They may be just a little bit too proud of them though, as they’re constantly showing them in full light, and Wall and make up holds up, too much time just standing around on screen does sort of push your suspension of disbelief.

Back from a heart attack, the vision continue there’s almost no attempt to make this into a bit of a head trip keeping your balance and throwing strange imagery at you. I’m not complaining, considering I came into this thing mostly for monsters… And William Shatner. However, the trippiness comes off almost as intrusive and repetitive rather than leaving you off-balance. Still, strange looks from the people around our hero and the general sense of unease in the air manages to set up an effectively paranoid mood. All the people around him shift in an out of being avatars for the demonic.

Time to go talk to dad. Shatner, at his horse farm. He explains that for long time, the Rockies trying to make him find his only way to break the curse… And the fact that he didn’t destroy it… But he just disturbed the relic… It kind of just pissed everything off.

So now it’s time to go back to the cave… This time he’s bringing his entire family

This is kind of where it falls apart me. I realize we’re heading into the third act, and this is kind of their way of raising the stakes, but it really doesn’t make sense. And as we see him wandering through the cave with his family, it’s almost like a spelunking vacation. “Look at this!”… “Let me tell you stories about how this happens”… It belies the seriousness of the mission and undermines the gravitas of question through hostile territory to break the curse. Moreover, even as our Aztec  ghosts make their way to confront our family I am unconvinced that any carnage is gonna happen here… Maybe the dad could die, but I can’t believe anyone is in any real jeopardy. I can’t see that working thematically. It also feels like we’re in a pattern of running away from this cave and coming back and running away and coming back. It feels redundant and repetitive, but then again so there’s a lot of this film.

Another big problem is the lighting. The entire thing is just looks so flat… And as I mentioned, these suits are frequently shown and fully lit. That does nothing for their effectiveness. Director Jared Cohen really needs to move past his TV movie roots for something like this and light everything just for the sheer beauty of it. Creating more room in the caves and playing with the shadows and ridges on these excellent suits would go a long way towards creeping up these monsters. I give them props for understanding how to enhance the suits with CGI, adding some motion to the mandibles, and creating just enough glow and smoke to make them fantastic. On the other hand,that he’s using the same old cgi blood packs  is painfully obvious, and he’s all about bad CG explosions. That works once, maybe twice, and in the distance… but they look really bad here, up close, front and center.

The real shame of all of this is there’s a good idea here. A good story somewhere, but it needs a lot of work. The pacing all over the place, fast where it needs to be slow, and slower it needs to be fast. The movie itself is about 20 minutes too long, and focused on the wrong things I think. All of the family drama really should’ve been background, with the movie itself focus more on the cave expedition and heightening the whore there. Some flashbacks to the plot exposition and curse may have worked better… And perhaps a longer, slower descent as the hauntings grow and drive our characters to find the relic would’ve been more effective.

It might be fun if you just turn your brain off to watch a rubber suit monster movie with William Shatner, but I’m disappointed because it really could’ve been so much more.

What could go wrong?







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


Satanic Panic

Satanic Panic starts off with pizza delivery. A bunch of people delivering them actually. Seems like a good place to film. We get a variety of delinquents that she delivers to until she gets a call for Mills basin. One of the other drivers tells her it’s a messed up area… You got a delivery boy, but you come back at delivery MAN! So, our girl fires up the Vespa and heads out.

It just so happens that she’s delivering to a satanic cult… Although it sounds a lot like a motivational speaker seminar… this is bad for the pizza delivery girl, because it’s Beltane, sacrifice, and she’s a virgin.

She escapes and seeks help at the next house she comes to… But what happens there is, well, indescribable. While she’s there though, she rescues another girl, and tries to call the police. Of course, the cult intercepts and comes looking for them. At this point, it almost feels like race the devil, if it were a comedy. And this absolutely is a comedy. The Satanists may be deadly and ready to kill, but they’re also bizarre and hilarious. Their yuppie characters and it’s just bizarre.

The girls escape into the night, but the coven is still in pursuit. They create a monster out of the soul of one of the unfaithful to seek out the refugees.

Turns out the girl that was trapped at the other house is the daughter of the coven leader. She helps explain the plot, while securing the next house they hiding. Salt around the windows and doors, things like that, and after our girl gets attacked by some very expensive sheets, the witches daughter sets her down for a drink to explain the plot.

We get a voodoo attack, we get to read entrails, we get an ice pic through the skull. The film brings the gore.
The trees are alive in the dark woods and the girls are captured. The ritual begins and pizza girls belly swells as she prepares gave birth to the demon. And then… To fuzzy bunnies.,

I’ll admit, the ending is a little deus ex Machina, and I would’ve preferred something more clever. Something that shows the ingenuity of our hero. Nevertheless, everything else in the movie is so well done, as long as you’re just holding on for the ride,… Well, it’s a good ride. You’re going to enjoy it.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


The Pale Door

The Pale Door begins with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe.
“While like a ghastly rapid River, through the pale door, A hideous throng rushes out forever, and laugh – but smile no more.“

I don’t know whether this is pretentious or a good omen for the move they’re trying to set. Still, it’s from Shudder, which gives me a lot of confidence. It’s presented by Joe Lansdale, and features interesting credits over an ancient book of the occult. Blood drips onto the book, and while I don’t recognize anyone in the credits, the production values are very high and exactly the sort of thing I expect from Shudder.

On the other end of the credits, a western family prepares to defend themselves from the group of men who have shown up in the dead of night. The father dies and we fast forward 15 years to the older brother, now a wanted outlaw and his younger brother working on saloon. It really is a by the numbers sort of western at the beginning… Shoot out in the street, wanted posters on the walls, and then we head over to a train robbery.. that’s where things go wrong. On the train, there’s not nearly as much gold or money as they expected… But there IS a girl chained up, locked in a box. In the ensuing scuffle, the older brother gets shot, and she offers to take them back to her hometown, where there would be doctors. She says it would be a reward for her safe return. Still, it’s all incredibly suspicious..-she takes them to the town square, to the local saloon which is also the local House of ill repute. Everyone is welcoming. Overly welcoming.

The ladies take the men up to the various rooms and prep them… And this is where everything goes awry. Monster creeps along the ceiling, unseen. The women seduce the men, also doing curious things, such as saving  clippings of hair.

All of thier heads snapped to attention when they learn younger brother is a virgin… and that he’s never taken a life. The Madame, sits him down to explain the plot. We get a flashback to her life before these days. She was accused of being a witch, and strung up to burn, even while pregnant..and all of it, 200 years ago.

Upstairs, the women transform into monsters witches, and begin the killing. Cowboys versus witches, guns versus claws and knives. It’s gloriously bloody and incredibly fun. It’s a far more effective idea than Cowboys versus zombies or aliens… And we’re only just now entering the third act I have passed the halfway mark.

It’s a brilliant design. The witches are basically the traditional look… Pointed nose, long chin and sunken eyes… But burned. All of them, burned at the stake… And survived
They clear the cat house, but wolves wait for them outside. The Madame commands the witches in the walls to kill the rest, but bring the boy to her. It doesn’t matter. They make their escape… Except the older brother is still back in town with the witches and younger brother is determined to go and rescue him. We had into the final act on a suicide mission… Cowboys versus witches.

This is good. It’s shockingly good. Like I said, it works better than some of the other matchups like Cowboys vs Aliens or Cowboys vs Zombies or even the creepiness of Dead Seven or House 2. The witches fit the aesthetic and the era and the actors commit fully to the idea. This is a genuine Western, and at the same time it’s a genuine horror film. It knows exactly how much each to put in, with all the gunplay and prairie dust you expect from a Western, and all the blood and horrific monsters you expect from a horror movie. This one’s a high recommend.

Jurassic Dead

Do you know how Jurassic Park manages to spend the first hour talking about the science of re-creating dinosaurs? Well Jurassic Dead managers compress that all into the first four minutes of the film, as well as showing it getting stolen by Army men who look like mafia gangsters.

During a time of great peril on earth, a group of scientists emerging took control of a secret military bunker deep in the desert… Evil will unleash it’s monstrous secrets to destroy earth… Five commandos set out to elimminate the threat… Out of the five commandos, two survived.

We find the scientist teaching college level courses… Like a community college level reanimator. Of course, reanimating a cat in front of his students, gets him canned and not looking both ways before crossing the street gets him hit by a car.

We get a brief text message telling us that the scientist survived and is taking over the installation, but there’s five commandos headed to take him out.

That’s when the astroids hit the planet. Looking for help, a group of for college students accidentally enter a military installation… The same one the five commandos are entering to try and take out the scientist creating the zombie dinosaurs.

The editor likes a lot of smoke FX. Also, lockdown. Holographic bad guy says it must be safe. Also, time to release the zombie dinosaurs.
Everybody seems to think that they have to do that shot from Jurassic Park where the feet hit the ground… and it never works. Still, it’s a good way to kick off commando versus zombie dinosaur action at the 41 minute mark.

It actually starts with a fistfight. Zombie dinosaur is down, but not out… And the CG and green screen are strong. Interestingly enough, though, the dinosaur is actually not CG. It is indeed, a guy in a reasonably impressive dinosaur suit, wearing green suit, and frequently composited against a green screen… The defect actually makes him look CG frequently, after being filtered and cleaned up and of course the close-ups aren’t much better. (better paint job, or even just a light brushing of KY jelly would have done wonders!). Still, I got to give them props for using a suit instead of a computer generated beastie.

By the way, you know how zombies work don’t you? If a zombie bites you, you become a zombie. If a zombie dinosaur malls you, you still become a zombie!
It makes for some interesting dynamics and we end up having more than just a dinosaur to worry about in this bunker.

That’s really all I have to say about this film. The excess of CG make it feel like a video game. The sets are frequently digital (swapping in an out with several real sets the filmmakers were allowed to film at a local haunted house… A brilliant decision, and I’m glad they had the opportunity. You can tell the difference ) with layers of digital FX and lighting overlaid on top of the film., and costumes really look like thrift store zombie hunter cosplay. Hyper computer generated reality was distracting in big budget forays like Sucker Punch and Sky Captain and it’s every bit as distracting here… Even if the budget makes it a bit more forgivable. as long as you know what you’re getting into, It’s entertaining on 2X speed, it would be ideal for a horror host to play with. But overall, it kind of belongs at the dollar tree where I found it.



85% of the cast is under 25


Mostly one location

Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Amityville, Ouija, ect)


science gone wrong

Scream at the Devil

Scream at the Devil starts with some beautiful locations in Venice and the promise of Tony Todd, but features lo-res crummy looking credits which always gets me worried..
Miriam, separated from her husband over heels, wanders city, taking photographs… Painting… Escaping her grief over the marriage, and also trying to out run her desire to have a child. She’s drawn to Church, perhaps trying to find solace,. Instead, it evokes lashes and images and visions.

On the other side of the credits, we see her and her husband moving into a new home, having somehow reconciled. There’s still tension, but there’s also moments of camaraderie. In the house they seem happy, but Miriam sees things… Visions of CGI faces, that stick out like a sore thumb against the beautiful soft lighting and warm colors of the house. 

Suddenly, the husbands car is destroyed… Even though they’re miles away from it. Also Miriam is talking to imaginary children. It’s hard to figure out who to be rooting for here. The enraged husband, angered by the destruction of his car… A car, or a wife who reacts with equal venom and may just be going a tad  crazy. So far we’ve got lots of shouting, but I was personally hoping for more devil.
The husband’s dispatched shortly, (didn’t really even last long enough for me to remember his name!)  or was he? Miriam’s car is missing and there’s no trace of a body. To be fair, I’d probably run to if I were living with a crazy wife and surrounded by creepy neighbors and demonic deliveryman. 

Miriam has visions and sleeps in the tub a lot. Occasionally she has evil visitors Who try and compel her to invite them in. 

It’s a bizarre head trip – and while I don’t mind such movies (Many of the late series Hellraisers veered in this direction under the supervision of Rick Bota), you still have to have a story and a place to go. This doesn’t We’re never entirely sure what’s going on and whether or not Miriam is mad. The ambiguous ending leaves me suspicious that the filmmakers don’t know either. The film lacks any real direction in favor of drifting from set piece to set piece and ultimately fails to satisfy.



Black and white greasepaint

Bad CGI (common, afterFX, same old blood packs)

Bad fonts (common, pixelated)

Cover misrepresents the movie

Shower/bath Scene (Bonus for no nudity)

Stock DVD cover (Exorcism style)

Horror con star cameo



The Junkman

Firing up the junkman, I’m starting to get the impression that Halicki could be repetitive. It’s almost like if you’ve seen one of his films and you’ve seen them all… Then again, the junkman does have a fun meta-twist.

Halicki stars as Hollis, a gearhead turned actor coming out the success of his first film gone in 60 seconds, and beginning work on his next movie. It’s not so much biographical as it is wish fulfillment. In the film, Gone in 60 Seconds is a huge hit and a household name, and Halicki himself is now working with Hollywood stars on his next movie – A good excuse to give Hollywood mainstay Hoyt Axton a nice meaty guest role. However, there’s murder in the air and someone is trying to kill Halicki on his way to the James Dean festival where he’s a guest.

That about sums up the plot, and once again we are treated to a film that is essentially one very long car chase spread over a couple of different vehicles. I like that he uses both his prior success and his new connections to his best advantage – we get some interesting glimpses into his life and his garage. We even get a cameo from Eleanor, all dented and crushed in her former glory, now with Gone in 60 Seconds painted across the side to commemorate the film.

Junkman ends up being just as entertaining of a film as Gone in 60 Seconds, but the meta-connection to Halicki’s previous film hurts it – it effectively keeps it from standing on its own as a movie and turns it into a mere sidequel. Casual viewers will probably feel like they’ve missed an important part of the story if they haven’t seen Gone in 60 Seconds previously. Halicki would have probably been better off crafting a completely separate story with new people and new situations – we’re constantly reminded that despite his alias in the film, it is in fact, his garage and his cars being used in the film. His name is everywhere – on billboards and garage addresses and such. This overall connection may also have held Halicki himself back, with producers not being certain that he could break away and do something new.
Still, it works as part of the Gone in 60 Seconds series and if you enjoyed his other films, you’ll have fun with this.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Geekfest 2022

Look, I’m as surprised as anyone. I was certain that geek fast was dead. I mean, the plague killed bigger and more powerful conventions than them… And they already missed a year here and there even without those complications. It’s a difficult event for the library to mount, a lot of variables a lot of planning. I really wouldn’t have blamed them for just deciding to sit this one out.

I’ve actually only heard that they were coming back about three weeks ago. Definitely not much more than two weeks before the event itself, and it was so close to Neo Comicon  that I wasn’t sure if we really had it in us to do two back to back shows. Still, it’s a show I like, being one of those more programming driven events. Maddie hadn’t been out to this thing since all the way back in 2016, and she found herself really looking forward to it, another chance to bring out her my hero academia costume and connect with other people. So, Saturday morning, we loaded up the car and headed out.

I was taking a chance bringing out my Borg costume for this one… Star Trek is passé these days, and Star Wars is real the real attention is at. Still, I was pleased to discover I wasn’t the only person and track garb there. This event draws a lot of boomers and Xers, with children that they’ve raised on Star Trek. I was surprised at how often I was recognized, not only by adults, but by teenagers! Around the corner at one point and one of the vendors piped up “now there is the scariest summer of my life!“. He was of course referring to the Star Trek next generation cliffhanger “the best of both worlds“. I nodded. “It’s funny, but of all the two-parter is they did after that, they never quite managed to get you to those same stakes.“ The vendor agreed. “During that third season,“ he told me. “They’ve gotten into the habit of always resolving everything within the last five minutes… But we got closer and closer to the end of this episode, 10 minutes, five minutes, three minutes, and I found myself wondering how tehy were going to wrap this up. I spent all summer nervous and wondering what was going to happen when the show came back.“. I remember that summer too. I mentioned to him that I was certain that Captain Picard wasn’t coming back to the show, that he’d be taken off with these bad guys, and that Patrick Stewart would basically go off and go back to Shakespeare while Commander Riker would take command of the enterprise for the remainder of the series pack. It was fun chatting with somebody about this and reminiscing about the days when Star Trek was genuinely good and had such cultural relevance.  As I wandered around, I made sure to menace the other people in Star Trek costumes, and was surprised to how many there were… In fact, I wasn’t even the only one carrying around a triple! There was a great looking doctor crusher with a triple in her jacket pocket. It seem to be behaving better than mine, considering I couldn’t get mine to sit on my shoulder the way it’s supposed to. I managed to get it attached just before pre-judging for the costume contest and about 20 minutes before I had to walk on stage for the main competition. That’s really my main goal, to have him ride out on my shoulder so that I can remove him and display him to the audience. I’ve gotta remember to use a better magnet the next time though.

That pre-judging was a problem. One of the main events that Maddie and I were looking forward to was a screening of Howls moving castle. The Akron Summit public library has a massive auditorium with a large screen… Just about movie size, so they get to see this on the big screen is a real treat. However, the movie was screening from Eleven to One, and pre-judging was at noon! It didn’t help that Maddie and I were a little late getting in as well, so we probably missed about 20% of the movie, but we did get to watch was every bit as good as we remember, and incredibly fun to watch on a proper screen with a good sound system.

Costumes were in abundance, despite the fact that the costume contests itself was a little lightly populated. Queen Anna Boleyn shuffled through the doors as I was making my way out for a swag dump, she waved a wand at me to vanish the evil machinery! She would occasionally come up to me throughout the convention with a screwdriver adjusting my mechanics. Another running joke was the way that R2 D2 seem to keep running into me. The R2-D2 builders club had a table downstairs with the 501st Legion, creating of nice Star Wars presence there. But occasionally the droid would roll his way upstairs and mingle with the rest of the people. It would see me and Emmett allowed high pitch scream, as I’d come over and scan it and examine it for the edification of the crowd. At times I almost felt like a little droid was following me!

I’ll say this, not only did Geekfest return, they veritably exploded. It’s bigger than I’ve ever seen it before, with them really pulling out all the stops. I remember the days when this show was basically maybe a half dozen tables up by the auditorium, mostly library personnel making buttons and playing games with the kids, one panel room and maybe some improv going on in the main auditorium. This time around they utilized all four floors. Star Wars characters on the ground floor along with a cosplay repair station… I can’t even tell you how amazing that was! When fingers started popping off my glove, I was grateful to be able to use their hot glue gun to put myself back together. Also video game rooms downstairs with retro video games and custom ones made by one of the guests. Another floor had board games… Some of them giant size. A couple tables in the middle were reserved for first timers playing dungeons and dragons. Another floor gave you a chance to explore strange history, along with a table of comics to give away. The vendors and artists were spread out as well. Instead of a handful of tables… A group of vendors that are slowly growing more and more numerous over the years, you could now find artists and vendors scattered throughout the library. There are tables around the length of the entrance, and then spread down below the atrium, and then even more nestled in between the bookshelves and rose and valleys of the library. It’s a fascinating set up, and the library actually went out of its way to draw attention to them by issuing kids a “passport“ where they can get stickers from each booth… Trying to collect them all, and thereby visit all of the guests. This is all in addition to the art show that was going on on the ground floor, one that you could vote  in for People’s choice award… And constant panels and games going on in the two conference rooms in the atrium. Indeed, the overlap was so great, that we always seem to be running from event to event, particularly towards the end when we were coming out for the costume contest lineup. Maddie was none too pleased to have to leave her panel to get in line. “They were going to give away BOOKS at the end!” She lamented.

Still, despite all the challenges, as we drove home, Maddie and I agreed this may just have been the best convention we went to this year. Being so program driven just makes for a far more entertaining experience, and is exactly the sort of thing that will keep Maddie (who’s convention attention span is usually about 2 to 3 hours) completely occupied for over five hours. It’s also a great place to make new friends, something that kiddo is discovering and taking full advantage of.

Here’s the thing, the festival bills itself as a mini comicon? I don’t think so. There’s things I’m much fuller convention experience than a lot of the ones that we pay much more money to get into. It’s also become one of our favorites, and will be back next year.



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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Critters 3


indexWhat the heck is Leonardo DiCaprio doing in this movie!?

Outside of our returning bounty Hunter, I don’t actually recognize anybody else in the film, but that’s OK, because they’re set up and ready to go, this time move in the action primarily to a single location. While we start off on a road trip with critters arriving, they eventually infest themselves into a condemned building that the landlord is trying to kick everybody out of. It turns into a long night as the surviving tenants and the landlord’s son try to rid the building of the evil critters.
It’s great to see the bounty hunter back, and it’s fascinating to watch Leo – I was hoping he’d get eaten but no such luck. with a solid cast, it feels very by the numbers but that’s index1really what you want from such a film. It ends with a twist though. The bounty hunter is not allowed to destroy the last two eggs, as it would be genocide… These are the last two in existence as far as they know. An escape pod is sent for the eggs and he gets trapped in it – setting us up for the fourth film, Which will give us our first real departure from the formula in the series.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday