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

Archive for March, 2023


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

Every Wednesday and Friday



Con Schedule – second half of 2023

Man, March beat me UP! I did seven conventions in less than two months – half of them with Maddie in tow. I seriously don’t know what was up with March this year (and a bit of Feb) but the cons were just stacked on top of each other – usually with two or three going on on any given weekend!

I’ve got a ten week convention break coming up after Wasteland this weekend. Then, the rest of the year is going to be a LOT slower – about one (sometimes two) a month, starting in June. Here’s my Schedule for the rest of the year.

June is a little up in the air. Toyhio and Monster Bash overlap. I’m still deciding which to do. The family is out camping that weekend, so I’m free the whole time. I may try and do Bash on Friday and Toyhio on Saturday.

Monster Bash, June 16-18, 2023  Marriott Pittsburgh North 100 Cranberry Woods Drive, Cranberry Township, PA 16066

TOYHIO TOY SHOW  June 17, 2023   Metroplex Expo Center 1620 Motor Inn Dr, Girard, OH 44420

Youngstown Comic Con (formerly AllAmeriCon) July 8th, 2023   Canfield Fairgrounds 7265 Columbiana-Canfield Rd, Canfield, OH 44406

NEO Comicon Sunday July 30th, 2023 NORTH OLMSTED SOCCER SPORTSPLEX 31515 Lorain rd, North Olmsted, OH 44070

Geekfest August 19th, 2023   Akron-Summit County Public Library 60 South High Street Akron, Ohio 44326


We’ve got a double weekend here too! Cinema Wasteland is the same Weekend as Hall of Fame, so I’ll likely be at Wasteland on Friday so I can take Maddie to HOF on Sat.

Cinema Wasteland September 29th-October 1st  Best Western Plus (Formally the Holiday Inn) 15471 Royalton Rd (Rt. 82) Strongsville, OH 44136

Hall of Fame City Comic Con September 30th, 2023   Canton Civic Center  1101 Market Ave N, Canton, OH 44702

Monster Bash, October 13-14, 2023  Marriott Pittsburgh North 100 Cranberry Woods Drive, Cranberry Township, PA 16066 (Heading back for a SATURDAY BASH this time since I couldn’t make it in June)

Oh, and we’ll also be heading down to Versailles for the Immortal Christian Metal festival in July. It was a lot of fun last year and I really want to return in July- I might even hit part 2 in September!

Immortal Christian Rock Festival  and BMI Event Center, 791 E Main St, Versailles, OH 45380

Date Show City State Who
Jun-16 Monster Bash Pittsburg PA Matthew
Jun-17 Toyhio Girard OH Matthew
Jul-8 Youngstown Comic Cn Youngstown OH Maddie and Matt
July-22-23 Immortal Fest Versailles OH Matthew
July-30 NEO Comicon N. Olmsted OH Maddie and Matt
Aug-19 Geekfest Akron OH Maddie and Matt
Sep-2,3 Immortal Fest Versailles OH Matthew
Sep-29 Cinema Wasteland Strongsville OH Matthew
Sep-30 Hall of Fame Canton OH Maddie and Matt
Oct-14 Monster Bash Pittsburg PA Maddie? and Matt





Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga : Terror of the Dark Forest has an absolutely gorgeous cover and put out by shout shout factory, so I’m holding on some real hope for this thing. The recap an explanation of what the Baba Yaga is is very well done… Chilling and matches the cover art, so I’m really digging it.

We kept to a child walking in the middle of the street on a foggy night, beautifully lit and just dark enough to be unsettling. A woman comes out of the fog… No, a girl. A dream. And in modern times, a boy wakes from a nightmare.

The whole private school and development community vibe I get here reminds me a lot of the fright night we met. Identical houses and plastic people, with the occasional bullies. Oh, and the girl next-door that our boy is falling in love with.

Did I mention that dude’s infant sister has a new and wholly creepy nanny?

Of course, because there’s a new nanny, dad has decided to put the cameras up… Right? Except… Some of the things we see on the security cameras can’t be seen in real life… Like that person sitting in the chair by the crib… Or the gnarled black hand that reaches up… We get a good and proper jump scare less than 20 minutes in, just saw the movie and let us know it’s not playing around.

The vibes totally change for me once the boy and the girl get chased in the woods by bullies… What are the strange red cords that the boys trip over? They surround small house in point Grille find… It’s old… Dirty, ramshackle and dangerous. The inside is dim blue lighting, like the torture room in hellraiser. It’s got mysterious shapes and mechanism in it, and seems bigger on the inside than on the outside. Voice whispers to the boy… Even as his mother nets with red yarn in the babies room, And drops into the strangest dreams.

OK, now you’re into nightmare on elm street vibes. Seriously, this thing manages to evoke the feeling sensation of all sorts of different horror films, will never directly on margin or copying any of them. There’s a certain brilliance to that… And I’m saying that while still fully immersed in the first act. They are still well over an hour to go here! 

The most settling thing here is that inside the ancient hut… That’s odd enough, but things actually get weirder once kiddo arrives home…. And now, the mother and father have forgotten never had a baby… Much less noticed that that baby is missing. 

And why is the old babysitter his crushes piano teacher???

But it’s not just the teacher, all of the parents have gone insane… Even the crush has turned into an Alice demonic… Until our boy shakes the evil out of her and brings her back to reality.

Oh crap. Do you know what’s worse the bullies? Possessed bullies. Now we’ve stumbled into it territory.

They want to burn down the shack… Which seems to me to be a good idea… But it also may be kiddos only way of getting his sister back. Also, they’re bullies, so he’s reluctant to exceed to their demands. Inside, there’s photos of all of them, and a Maps… And a watcher in the woods keeping track of them all.

Turns out, the wanderer in the woods is much like a hero… He lost something… A child perhaps, but he couldn’t quite remember it. That’s how he knew Eve had to come to the city. He’s kind of playing the role of doomsayer for us here, that and folklorist.

Even as he’s being murdered by a shadow, they make their way back to the hut to embark on an arcane journey. Our hero runs into the furnace, parts of the wires or vines, and then find himself sucked into a whole different world… Girlfriend and bully her right behind him, even as they are pursued by whatever evil stalks them. 

It’s one of those mirror universe deals… Where everything is lit different, and nothing feels quite right… because right about now, this film is prepared to completely mess with your sense of reality, lunging us towards an ending that feels very green light… Very light the silent hill film.

It gets weird from here on out. I mean weird same time, marvelous. This isn’t just a good film, this is a shockingly good film. This thing was not a blockbuster theatrical release just saddens me to my core. If you still see this on the shelves at Dollar Tree… Grab it immediately. It is great innovative unbalanced horror that makes you think, makes you care, and makes you scared. It’s brilliant stuff, and gets my highest recommendation.



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

Every Wednesday and Friday



boxhhindexOK, I’m going to flat out admit I watched Darkness first out of this box set, mostly because I’ve got a thing for Anna Paquin (Who is playing a role here that was originally intended for Natalie Portman, pre-Star Wars). She looks so much like an ex-girlfriend, it’s uncanny… And I genuinely like her Rogue in X-Men.

We got a nice set up right off the bat with quick flashes of horrific images overdubbed with what sounds like either a police or psychiatrists voice asking a young girl to help them find other missing children., Then we fast forward to Spain, 40 years later and Anna Paquin waking up in a moody house.

We quickly establish that they are isolated in the middle of nowhere with an ailing father and an eclipse coming up. That’s when things start to get weird… Shadows, and things index2moving by themselves. Every day the lights go out, and the son of the family says, the darkness is different. The electricians can’t figure it out, and we are left to wonder what’s going on.

The fathers doctor happens to be Giancarlo Giannini, who perplexed me for half an hour until I realized he was the corrupt inspector in Hannibal. He must’ve been using hair dye in his prior film (shot two years later, but released one year earlier) and it throws me off. In any event, he assures the family that things are going to be just fine, which is a good indication that things are NOT going to be just fine.

The father starts to get obsessive and we get glimpses of shadowy figures in the hallways, not entirely unlike the dead twin sisters in the Shining. It’s all wonderfully spooky and effectively shot so that we know we are out of the first act and things are about to get real. Younger brother starts seeing ghostly children and everything’s about to get bad.
The haunting escalates quickly from here on out, making it difficult to distinguish between the second and third act of the film. With the running time of 88 minutes, that’s not unexpected anyhow.

As things start to get bad, Anna Paquin discovers a weird carved Sigel under the floor, something that comprises of snakes and strange figures now lurk in the darkness, and empty rooms and on ceilings.
imagesAnna figures it out, and leaves the house… trying to warn her parents away from returning, but the evil unleashed isn’t confined to the house – a nice twist. In most haunted house stories, you can escape the ghosts just by bailing, but whatever this darkness is, it’s following her and her family, and the hauntings are relentless. Don’t fall for the red herring though, there’s more going on here than you realize… And by the end, everything is revealed.

This has good hunting elements, but it’s also a really clever suspense film mixed in with the supernatural elements. It’s a genuinely fun film and I’m pleased with the way that this movie starts this box set.



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

Mostly one location

Ghost Children (Bonus for white dress)

something walks by in the background

Door slams

occultic symbols (bonus if hidden)

Television week of 3/24

First and foremost, can I say that I’m glad we got back to normal on The Mandalorian? I’m told that last week’s side quest was actually a follow up to something from Andor. That’s fine, I believe you. I didn’t bother watching Andor, so dropping it in the middle of the show really doesn’t quite work for me. I realized they did the same thing with Book of Boba Fett, but that’s a show that was in need of saving. The thing is, it doesn’t count as a crossover if you’re doing an entire episode of a different show. Cross the characters over, sure. Make it a part of the show, make it integral to the story, but don’t just drop an episode of a different show in between a couple bookends and called a crossover. It was annoying enough when they were doing this for back door pilots, it’s even less interesting now.

I’m actually glad to see we’re getting some character development. It’s amazing how much expression and character they can pull out of the Baby Yoda puppet. More importantly though, we’re actually getting some interesting character development from Bo Katan as well. I’m enjoying seeing where the series takes these characters, and I tell you, the amount of spirituality that we are constantly seeing from them makes me want to dabble in building a Bible study around it.

Character development was pretty front and center in most of my television last week actually. Star Trek Picard continues to move along at a pleasant pace. One of the highlights of this week’s episode is watching Jack Crusher and the Laforge girls mount a caper to steal a cloaking device for the Titan, off of a Klingon ship in the Federation museum. It’s just brilliant. I know people are hot and cold on Captain Shaw, but I’ll tell you this, I would totally watch a show with him , the Laforges, and Jack.

The most poignant moment in the show though, came about midway. Jack and Seven are looking out over the various ships in the fleet museum and his eyes fall on the Enterprise. The real one. NCC – 1701 – A. It is my favorite ship of all time, the best looking one, with the best crew and the best adventures. There’s just something about that ship… and to get to see new footage of it in a new episode of Star Trek… it’s something we never thought we’d get.

What’s important about this scene though, is that show runner Terry Matalas takes a moment to talk directly to the audience. You remember, I’ve pointed out multiple times, the moment that I left Star Trek. It was the episode of lower decks, and mariner tells the delegation on the ship “no no, I’m making fun of you, not with you. Even more so than listening to Michael Chabon talk about how he made certain decisions on the show to anger the “wrong kind of fans”, this one really got to me. This was the writers clearly telling their audience that they hated them. They didn’t respect them. You’re stupid and only worth making fun of. Matalas is doing the opposite here. Jack spends a few minutes describing how much he loves that ship. Seven cocks her head and looks at him curiously.

“I thought you weren’t a big fan of Starfleet?”

“Not of Starfleet, of starships.” He describes the clean lines and sheer beauty of the Constitution refit… an assessment that I can’t argue. It’s a touching moment, and a very powerful bit of writing. Indeed, it’s every bit as powerful as watching Doctor Who Time Crash and seeing David Tennant look at Peter Davison tell him “You were my Doctor.” Every bit as powerful as Jon Favreau bringing Luke Skywalker back for the last episode of The Mandalorian. All these things reassure you that you’re in good hands. That your on this ride with people who respect the material, maybe even loves it.

One last note that I couldn’t help but notice. Once in a blue moon, we’ll mention my fan series. Star Trek : Icarus Flight was a TNG era series set on a Constellation class starship that sprung out of our teenage RPG  game nights. I did a few comics, mayn sketches and some student films for it. For my friends and those who know me, it’s as mucha part of the spin-off collection as Voyager or DS9. It even gets a couple of jokes making fun of it in Galaxy Quest (They qoute, word for word, one of our running gags, I kid you not). When they showed the museum, it was to my great shock and delight that I spotted my ship there. We now know the final home of the Icarus – there next to the USS New Jersey, the HMS Bounty and the USS Enterprise. Some people think it might be the Star Gazer, but nope. As far as I’m Concerned, it’s the Icarus. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. You’re not going to convince me otherwise)I couldn’t be more pleased and grateful.

The Flash was on break this week, but that’s OK, Superman and Lois was heavy enough for both shows. This is the episode that we discover Lois has cancer. Not pregnancy, not a strange alien illness, simple, aggressive stage 3 breast cancer. It’s devastating. Sure there’s other things going on in the episode. We see that ugly Mannheim is in the middle of some machinations, and working hard to cover up his involvement in creating super villains. We see Sarah convincing Nat to head over to Metropolis for a big party – place where she can meet guys, maybe even this universe’s version of the guy she was crushing on back in her own world! Jon Kent convinces Jordan to head to the same party for very much the same reasons. Talk to a girl. Try and get over this on again off again break up with Sarah. It’s all good stuff. It’s all fun. I’m still shocked at the kids don’t annoy me, but the truth is, all of it pales in comparison to this revelation of Lois being sick…. even if that plot point only takes up about five minutes of the show. It’s a tribute to just how good these actors are. Sure, there’s probably something to be said for my preexisting connection to the Superman family, but honestly, Elizabeth Tuloch has has embodied this role so well, she is absolutely the definitive Lois Lane for me. And every one of these actors are throwing down so hard, that I believe it. Never for a second do I doubt that this group of people are a family. As they come together around Lois, holding her and rallying to her, It’s far more powerful and emotional than any CW show deserves to be. It’s brilliant storytelling with characters that I genuinely am invested in.

Like I said, it was a heavy week for television. My Thursday was pretty emotional, and I sure I’m glad there’s new History’s Greatest Heists and Food That Built America to kind of shake it off a little bit and get me into a better mood before I hit work on Monday!

The Monster

I have to be honest, looking at the poster for monster, it looks very generic. You can’t necessarily tell that this is trying to piggyback off of Cloverfield, but within moments of the film starting… The shaky cam really tells you everything you need to know.

After a brief flash of chaos, we get two women packing for a trip to Japan… Hot but professional is what they’re going for. They’re padding this intro with it not just getting to know you stuff but airport footage and getting to know the city bits as well. Wandering through Tokyo.
They’re doing a video or documentary or a news article or some sort… But in the middle of a interview, we start to hear sirens outside the building. Then the walks Shake. There are explosions outside! We got to get out of there!

We get Dim and strobing shaky cam in stairwells and hallways as they trying to get out of the building. It’s no good, they get trapped in the basement. Then they make their way out. Then they get trapped in a cave or a sewer… At one point they were on top of a roof…

I wish I could give you a more detailed synopsis. The problem is, that’s all this is. We have a sort of small scale road movie… Only the road is the sidewalk. It’s them trying to get to the American Center or the American Embassy, which ever one they can reach first. The trip is punctuated by monster attacks or the repercussions of those attacks… Falling buildings, Caved in floors, general mayhem. Of course once they finally do make it to the American Embassy, it’s destroyed.

Is there any hope of getting home? I’d say not. The film ends abruptly, with no real climax and resolution. We just cut the black at the end of the scene and get the epilogue – white text on a black screen about the two girls that were being found. This video is all that survived, it was posted by their father, yada yada yada.

The real problem with monster, is the lack of story. It feels like somebody went out to see Cloverfield, and thought “I can do that!“. The big difference is, Cloverfield had a well thought out plot… And several storylines going on at once. The monster attack was really the background, the “C” storyline if that. The “A” storyline is of course them trying to escape and survive, but the “B” storyline is this weird unrequited love story and how do you come back to being friends after sleeping together. It’s tense in a bit self, with the threat of those feelings never getting resolved to due to the current crisis… All of that works together to create a compelling narrative with characters that you genuinely care about.

In Monster, I don’t know these girls. We get a couple of pauses in the running to have long monologues about wanting to go home, and I miss my sister, and will you turn that camera off! Never do I really feel like I know or care about these people. They’re just avatars in a video game. They’re just pretty faces drifting from scene to scene.

The other thing that Cloverfield really had going for it, was an interesting monster. Interesting in that it was incomprehensible, and even at that big reveal towards the end, I never entirely was able to grasp what this thing properly looked like. The titular monster of this Asylum film, we never see it. We occasionally spy tentacles erupting from the ground or crawling around the building. We see them slapping to the pavement, opening up great gaps. We see them hit buildings to try and collapse them. We constantly see fighter jets in the air, on their way to attack it and explosions in the distance. But we never see this monster. That tentacle wrapping around a building on the cover? That’s about all you’ll see, and the clearest picture of it that you’ll get. Ultimately that makes for a disappointment.

The entire thing actually, is a bit of a disappointment. It’s just something to eat up time, and the real shame of it is I could see them pulling a good movie out of the story. They just need some extra planning and perhaps a script rather than a lot of ad-libbed screaming. The idea of seeing a Kaiju invasion from the ground level, it’s still compelling enough to stand the test of time, provided you give us people that we want to struggle through the apocalypse with.
Sadly this isn’t that.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


The Ninth Gate

large_uamhDQBebdW3UQqOaVmma3yW8pmThe ninth gate is really everything I love about cult films. We’ve got everything I could ask for, mystery, a Satanic order, adventure, and exotic locales, obsession and character. The film appeals to me in particular because of the bibliophile angle. I love all books, stories and if I’m at your house, you can be assured that at some point I’ve snuck away to look through your collection of books. This film understands that, and it understands exactly the sort of person I would be if I had the means these people do. Films like this, or like High Fidelity, or even the Fast and the Furious – movies that explore collections that have been obsessively accumulated and the people who curate them always fascinate me – it makes me wish I had that kind of passion and singular vision these people do

I love how intelligently written it is, and how it celebrates literacy and research. These characters are smart people, well read, you know what you’re talking about, and many are experts in their field.

fhd999TNG_Emmanuelle_Seigner_036The story of course is about the search for a very rare book, the nine gates – which supposedly holds the secret to immortality. It features Johnny Depp in one of his better roles. Mind you, I enjoy Captain Jack and I am a fan of his work with Tim Burton, but this is something completely different – a character with depth and smarm and purpose. It’s not a quirky character, and that in fact makes it a stretch – I love Depp in this.

It’s a film you may have overlooked because quite frankly, it’s as common as dirt – you’ll see it on every shelf in every video store and frequently on Netflix. Seriously, sit down and give this a watch.



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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Seven Nights of Darkness

boxhhindexSeven Nights of Darkness begins with a text prologue, Six reality show contestants spent seven nights in abandoned asylum, but the show never aired because of the tragedy and they ended up piecing together the footage that we had!

I’m a little worried that this sound like Grave Encounters, on the other hand, I LIKE Grave Encounters so hopefully this won’t be too bad won’t be too bad. A note, the first contestant is from Toledo Ohio! A little down south but still hometown territory!

It’s definitely from the found footage craze that Paranormal Activity kicked off, the problem is they seem to be using the mic attached the camera which is gonna cause problems throughout this whole thing. I can see I’m gonna be riding the volume button on the 104384452_3341392512571815_8597451568821496332_nremote the whole time.

The first night, the contestant’s task is to explore the asylum, in particular, the lower levels. As the contestants move around the place, we see a lot of teasing and scaring each other… high school sort of nonsense. There are creepy artifacts in the building, a doll here, a crib there, a ghost detector that they can check areas with… The bathrooms are absolutely definitely haunted!

Night two, we open the envelope with the task in it – “if it says karaoke I’m leaving!” No, not karaoke but they are instructed to hold a séance on the second floor. One of the index2contestants freaked out a little bit, inside she’s going to continue to sleep on. That night we start to hear strange noises…like a baby cry. Out medium is affected and goes catatonic.

Night threes instructions are to reenact on the third floor and take pictures. This is when things start to get bad. As they take a photo there’s almost a flash of a ghostly figure behind the chair, and suddenly the girl from the previous night who had the freak out comes out of her catatonic to rush our group and attack them.

index3Night four and the girl is back in her catatonic state, sitting in the lobotomy chair. One of the contestants is fed up, and starts going up there, interrogating and yelling at her as she just stands there blankly… Finally he elicits a terrible reaction from her, and we can see the possesion. Weird spatial and temporal distortions begin to pop up as well.

One of the players is exposed to the plant , Someone who’s been making noises and stuff, but the reason he’s confessing is because the place is trying to freaking out now, and there’s stuff happening that he didn’t cause. Even worse, possessed girl has vanished. It’s all set us up for an intense third act.
imagesThat’s it. I don’t actually want to give you any more description because this one I really want you to go out and try and find. I noticed that it’s on YouTube, and this movie alone is worth the purchase of this box set. It starts off slow and derivative and I was completely unimpressed until about halfway through the movie when suddenly it just kept getting scarier and scarier. In a lot of ways it’s kind of a low rent Grave Encounters with a dash of Blair Witch. But even with that rocky start, it pays off in spades.



85% of the cast is under 25


found footage

Abandoned Asylum

something walks by in the background

Door slams


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

Every Wednesday and Friday



boxhhindexOminous is a word I actually use very frequently When describing horror movies, so I’m gonna be very disappointed if this one, using the word for its title, actually ends up sucking. We have a smartly dressed and then walking up to an abandoned house. The door opens by itself as if to admit him… At which point he should be running screaming in the other direction. Instead, he enters the dilapidated building and begins to look around. Strange noises coming from the emptiness, and as he lights a cigarette he gets too spooked, turns on his heel and flees.

We cut to a Mom in the middle of domestic chaos when her husband calls tell her he wants to take them out of town to a vacation house in the mountains. The place is definitely in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dense forest and accessible only by a dirt road.It’s a nice log cabin lake house, even if there are ghostly children crying in the woods surrounding it…

But the shot on video crispiness is not this movie’s friend. This whole thing looks like it was shot on consumer grade equipment, and any possible atmosphere is really undercut, despite clever lighting and some surprisingly competent translucent effects. We do get our first jump scares before were even 20 minutes in, and the filmmakers seem determined to use both the location and it’s isolation to its fullest extent.
These guys are masters of strategically placing ghosts in places where they’ll be frighteningly revealed, or framing them and windows where you’ll just see enough of them to freak you out, and the makeup is extremely good. Someone knows what they’re doing as far as blending and contouring, but they need more shadows, and more grain over them. It’s a problem that’s far more prevalent at the beginning of the film, almost as if it took them some time to really dial in the right shading for these shots. Although it never completely goes away, it gets much better by the time we hit the second act. Still, index2It’s another one of these instances where the video cinematography and crisper resolution holds the film back.

As the kids play in the woods little girl finds a dirty old doll, exactly the sort of thing I’d expect to find in a haunted woods. The skies turn gray, and the weather conspires to keep the family hidden in the house. It’s a perfect time for the kids to play hide and seek, and the daughter decides to hide in the closet, clutching her new doll. As her brother searches for her, the daughter is oblivious to the fact that she’s not alone in the closet, and sprints out as he whips open the door. They both ran out of the room giggling, as a hand emerges from the closet and drags the doll back in. When night falls, the hauntings ramp up, with dead children inhabiting the house, invading the space of living.

It’s such a competently made film that I can’t fault it. I do really enjoy it for what it is, but there’s such a talent on display here with director Justin Berginzoni and his crew , that I long to see these people giving a bigger budget and hope that this is a good calling card for them. The fact that they manage a dolly zoom with this equipment alone is enough to prove these guys know what they’re doing. There are plenty of scares and misdirects and you can tell that they are lifting gags and flare from other influences like the conjuring and House on Haunted Hill and the ring, even elements of the Amityville Horror. It’s the ideal candidate for a set like this, and the best sort of film I would expect to see at a horror convention or film festival. I’d have a hard time paying more than a few dollars for it, but yes I like this, it’s exactly the sort of gem that I delight in.



Moving to a new house

Ghost Children (Bonus for white dress)


Kid(s) see ghosts no one else does

Ghost watching from a window

something walks by in the background

Door slams

Columbus toy and game show

Right off the bat, can you please do me a favor? If there’s going to be a charge for parking, please let us know ahead of time! Print it on the flyers. Includ it on every post with the date and time. Seriously, because this is basically increasing your admission fee by 27%, and I need to be able to budget for that.

Indeed, it seems to me that I had this EXACT same complaint the last time I was out at the Ohio Convention Center. Perhaps I would have remembered if it hadn’t been nearly ten years ago at the sadly short lived Tricon. (Short lived as in – that first year was also their last)

At first glance, the $12 admission fee seems a little high considering this is a glorified flea market. On the other hand, it’s the biggest flea market I’ve ever seen. The Columbus toy and game show actually dwarfs toyhio in comparison, and I didn’t think that was possible. I ended up going to the early service at church Sunday morning because I wanted to arrive really responsible.Walking in just before one, it was close to 3:30 before I managed to finish going through the entire building. And it’s just so vast.

I was actually eager to come out to this one since I had to skip Toyhio last month. Zip Con was going on the same day and Maddie had really wanted to hit that show. As a result, I’d been kind of jonesing for a good toy show to dig through. Since I wasn’t going to be doing Concoction this weekend, my schedule was free. This would be the perfect place to use the money I had set aside to spend at Concoction! I spent Saturday getting hyped up by watching through the entire season of Action Figure Adventure, while considering what to wear.

Because it’s not really a cosplay sort of show, I wanted to go soft and easy. I had considered bringing out the Penguin again but decided instead on something new. Kong, my human version of the 1975 Ghostbusters hadn’t be out since the Afterlife premire.  It’s nice and simple, but not quite as spectacular as going as Tracy the gorilla. To give it more spice, I added a couple of killer tomato friends to come along for the ride. People actually recognized them a lot more than they recognized me. It’s exactly the right kind of show for that. Killer Ttomatoes are not the most easily identifiable characters but when people do recognize ’em… they love it.

I was actually surprised by how chatty some of the vendors were. Sure, you got rows of old guys sitting in there lawn chairs with a scowl on their face… basically flea market attitude. But you’ve also got plenty of them who are genuinely excited about the stuff they’re selling and the geners they’re playing in. If you see a guy selling Doctor Who… hes gonna want to talk to you about Doctor Who. I was asked who my favorite doctor was, where I thought the series was going, answer more questions about star trek. It was great. It was also really nice to bump into my buddy Marse. He’s more local to The Columbus area, and our paths only cross once every year or two. He just completed a marvelous Samurai Batman and was trying it out for the first time here.

I was picking up a bunch of stuff that had actually been on my bucket list…Back at the last Toyhio I hit, I passed on a Last Action Hero figure in favor of a transforming Terminator. But Last Action Hero looks more like Arnold, so I’m glad to have a second chance to pick him up cheap. The McDonalds I passed on was here to…still mocking me. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have let it go this time, not at $30…..

I’ve also been skipping over cheap road rippers for EVER. I thought the MOTU Mini one would finally satisfy me, but….no. Not really. But the thing is, I’ve started to notice them just beginning to go up in price. About time for me to finally plunk down a Lincoln for a cheap loose one.

I came across a spectacular McFarline figure – I have NO idea who or what she is. She’s missing an arm, but I can 3d print a new one easily and for a buck, I’ll take that and the Borg. I’m always on the hunt for custom fodder. I raided the 3 for a dollar bins for stuff like Fred and the video game figures, as well as scoring that nice Riker for less than what’s I’ve been paying at Record Exchange. A really worthwhile haul!

All in all, a good day. I’m really impressed with the show and just how much stuff is scattered across those endless aisles. I got to spend a nice little bit of time playing video games on the free arcade alley, take photos with Gremlins, hobnob with other ‘busters, as well as really scratch that toy itch. It may well be worth a return visit in the future.

Television, week of 3-15.

I don’t know how to talk about Star Trek Picard without just going back into gushing. That tends to get tedious really quick, so all I’ll say is.. wow. We discover that the changeling infiltration is far worse than anyone had imagined. Remember back in the middle of Deep Space 9? The episode homefront? It was a two parter with Sisko back on Earth, and the paranoia wrapping up as to how Many people might the changelings have already replaced, and how high up the fleet might be compromised. Turns out, there were only six changelings on Earth at that time, and what they really managed to do this stir up paranoia. Well, decades later, all of our greatest fears from that episode have in fact, come true. The changelings are everywhere, And they’ve evolved to the point where traditional blood screenings don’t show them. Trust no one.
By the way? Trust no one? It’s not just Doctor Crusher telling Picard that… it’s…


I’m not gonna tell you. I want you to watch this episode and if you’re a TNG fan, You are going to plotz.

So, remember last week when I was talking about The Mandalorian? When I was describing how Baby Yoda is essential and this theory is head really refocused? Well just throw all of that out the window. This week we’ve got a very good 10 minutes at the beginning, and an OK 10 minutes at the end, the problem is the 35 minutes in the middle which have nothing to do with anything. This week’s episode bookends the restoration of mando, tying up loose ends. By the way, I heard more about living water on this episode than I have anywhere since my day is back at Moody Bible institute. The main story however, the middle section, is all about the evil mad scientists that was going to do unspeakable things to baby yoda when mando 1st picked him up and delivered him to Moff Gideon’s people. I suppose it’s an interesting enough story, but it’s really not the sort of thing you can get away with in a short season. I’m not sure where this belongs. Indeed, it feels more like a comic book supplement or a novelization spin off then something that should be a part of the series proper.

Really, I don’t know what it is about this week, because the Flash is doing the same thing! We ship off Barry and Iris to one last romantic getaway before the baby comes. Their friends are gonna throw baby shower and all that kind of stuff but first, they have to contend with a young woman who was previously dead, but brought back to life during Crisis. When she was brought back, she discovered she has good luck powers, except recently they’ve gone awry. Now she’s at the center of a police investigation, her fiancee is in a coma and the local gangsters are trying to kidnap her because of a elaborate plot involving gambling debts and The local underground casino. Flash isn’t in this at all. In fact there’s no costumes in this at all, it’s like we’re back in the early 2000s when The CW still wanted to make super hero shows like Smallville and Birds of Prey, but were too ashamed of them to actually make them look like super hero shows. All of this should annoy me. The problem is, the story is just so cute and quirky, I chuckled all the way through it. Look, this is still a definite skip if you’re binging the series or trying to do a speed run, but it is the sort of thing that can get away with in the middle of a full season of network TV. Of course, The Flash isn’t getting a whole season, so i’m still not sure what they’re thinking here.

Finally, it’s the return of Superman and Lois. I feel like they’ve done some tweaking on the S on the costume perhaps? It looks a little different. But not as different as Jonathan Kent does! Oh man, this new actor is just all kinds of throwing me off. They’re not even really dressing him the same as the previous iteration. At least some blonde highlights in that hair probably would have helped.

The episode telegraphs sets up a bunch of storylines that we’re gonna be seeing this season. A weird and cringe love triangle with Lana’s ex husband and Lois’s boss, Health problems and a pregnancy scare for Lois, and the continued weirdness in Sarah and Jordan’s relationship. That’s the one that annoys me the most. She wants space, and he’s supposed to be just wait around for her and be okay with that. To me it feels very much like Sarah is stringing him along, and it’s a little ugly. It makes me suspect that they’re prepping to dissolve her relationship with him and put her with a lesbian POC like they were setting up last year. Part of me is also betting it’s gonna be John Henry’s daughter. I just don’t like any of that. It’s an ugly way of treating both Sarah and Jordan. But perhaps I’m overreacting, I’ve been burned enough times that I spent a lot of the series just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like Picard, It’s been so good that I have a hard time believing they haven’t jumped the shark yet! Perhaps I should just unclench and enjoy myself while I can. The villain this time around was good, with a nice old fashioned look to him. “Ugly” Bruno Manheim is in the mix, and anytime you give me one of Kirby’s contributions to the Superman cast, it’s almost always brilliant.They don’t skimp on the action either. We get some good rescue action, and a spectacular knock-down-drag-out with Superman and the villain of the week. It’s everything that I ever asked for in a Superman show. We’ve got compelling hero action, and a great supporting cast of characters. Not to mention that the actress playing Clark and Lois are still knocking it out of the park. Tyler Hochen and Bitsy Tuloch may well become my definitive actors for these characters. They’re just that good.

I also fell down a rabbit hole this weekend. Remember a while back when I  mentioned the film Nintendo Quest? Well there’s an entire series featuring Jay Bartlett, the protagonist of that documentary, and his action figure quest. You see, he’s trying to amass a collection of highly sought after action figures to auction off for a London hospital. It’s absolutely riveting. It’s the thrill of all the toy shows I go to but for a better cause. It’s familiar faces and spectacular settings – taking us all the way to Power Con (The ultimate He-Man convention in Anaheim CA – I desperately want to go and I know I’ll never be able to afford it!). I actually passed on this early on because it didn’t capture my imagination enough. Things looked different on this Saturday afternoon and I was channel flipping. It’s amazing and I can’t recommend it enough!

Wow! I’m not used to having this many programs to watch all at once! Kind of nice for a change. Can’t wait to see what happens next week. In the meantime, I’m gonna head back and finish my DVR of history’s greatest heists. I’ve never actually heard of the Museum of Natural History robbery before!


Comic pulls for a week of 3-15

Let’s kick things off with Batgirls. It’s a nice little one-shot which is a good change of pace after the somewhat have your story arc we just finished. There’s some familiar Batman villains in it… in fact there’s a lot of Batman imagery here. It’s almost as if the writer was reveling in the fact that they get to write a Batman book. Maybe not the Batman book, but at least a Batman book! The enthusiasm is fun. That’s really what has carried this series from the word go. Just how fun it is.

Over at Marvel, the Amazing Spider-Man declares itself to be the issue you’ve been waiting for. Well,  that’s not entirely true. It’s about half the issue that I’ve been waiting for. We’re starting to get into the flashbacks on what happened between Peter and Mary Jane, how we arrived at our current status quo. It’s taken long enough, but even then, you left me on another cliff hangar! Like seriously, just explain to me what’s going on and let me decide whether or not I like it. I know I praised this sort of reverse character development in World’s Finest, but to be fair, in that book…. the character development was for the supporting characters, not fundamental to the central continuity that you’re building. When you’re doing this with the main characters (which affects the entire story), then just dropping us into the middle of it….. it’s frustrating. I’m still gonna ride this out for at least one more issue… simply because I have to know what happened. So in that respect, I suppose it makes sense. You’re getting the sales… but you’re frustrating the fan.

Also a little frustrating is the fact that the best stuff Marvel’s putting out are these infinity comics like Alligator Loki! It’s still adorable, even this week with him looking at Venom and Carnage and thinking about how cool it would be to bond with a symbiote!

For the most part though, it was Star Trek week. Up the mainline Star Trek book, which is getting better by inches, they found their way into the dimension that the Klingon gods used to dwell in, and there’s some intrigue going on here. However, this brings Worf into conflict with Sisko, and Worf leaves… which brings us to Star Trek Defiant issue 1. This is a spin off of the main series, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. With the way that they are doing these jumbled patchwork crews, I almost feel like we would have been better off just running the series as a bunch of Minis, and picked up this Defiant book after the current run of Star Trek is over. The crew here is going to be B’elanna Torres from Voyager, Ambassador Spock, and for some inexplicable reason, Lore. The timing couldn’t be better though. Releasing this book at the same time that Picard is running is either really good timing, or really good luck. Worf is featured heavily on Picard in a covert role, much like what we’re seeing in the Defiant series, and a lot of that goodwill is going to spill over. We also saw previews with Brent Spiner in this final season of Picard and everybody assumed that Lore was coming back. Now that we know that the series is all about changelings, I’m reconsidering that suspicion, but it still got him back in the public consciousness, just in time to appear in this comic book. Well done.

The jewel of this stack though, is still Star Trek Resurgence. It concludes its story with issue 5 in a very moving way. It’s been a nice little self contained side adventure in one of my favorite eras. It didn’t go too far with fan service, but kept enough just keep me roped in and interested. I’m sad this series is over and I genuinely hope they’ll do another one. There doesn’t seem to be plans for it, But the game seems to be continuing on. Since I’m not attending Concoction this weekend, maybe I’ll scour YouTube to see if I can find a play-through to watch. I’ve really come to enjoy these characters. And isn’t that really the entire point of expanded universe, whether it’s for a television series or a game?

It’s been a good week for comics. It’s been a good week for Star Trek for that matter too! And what’s that? Superman and Lois is back? Well, I think I’d better head back to the living room and catch upon my television!


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Why I won’t be returning to Cleveland Concoction.

I was very excited to see that Cleveland Concoction was returning. This has been one of my favorite conventions for a long time, and I’ve written extensively about my previous trips there. Even as recently as zip con, we were waiting for registration to open up so we could get tickets. I literally had this discussion with my friend Rose there – we’d actually both won membership to the next show back in 2019, but then covid hit and they shut down for 2020. And then again for 2021, even 2022. Honestly, you couldn’t expect them to keep rolling over the free membership for that many years and I absolutely did not want to be THAT guy. Once I finally saw that the link was active, I purchased my weekend badge. This was on March 1st.

It wasn’t until March 6th, that they posted their covid guidelines. Concoction this year will be a masked event. People will either be required to mask and all areas unless actively eating or drinking… or will be required to show proof of vaccination at registration.

That is not the show I paid for.

As a general rule, I don’t attend any event that requires me to show my papers like a refugee in the movie Casablanca. I also don’t attend masked events (and skipped Great Lakes Comic Con last year for this very reason, as well as passing on several Anime events), particularly now that we find ourselves in 2023. Sure, you may be scratching your head and pointing out “I’m sure I’ve seen you at a masked comicon or two! That’s true. Back in the early days of the pandemic, when the government lock downs were finally opening up, I absolutely headed out to shows like Toyhio and Jeff Harper’s Cleveland Comic Book and Nostalgia events. The truth is, we have small shows like this to thank for the return of conventions in a lot of ways. They kept the dealers going, they kept the habit up… and somebody had to go first. I wanted to support whoever that might be.

We’re now well past that. The moment vaccines became widely available, any question of restrictions should have been moot. Moreover we are now living in the wake of the Cochran study which showed that masking did not effectively stop much in the way of transmission Still, it’s a security blanket that many people simply will not let go of. That is your prerogative. I won’t make fun of you (to your face anyhow. But my wife and I will probably chuckle to each other about it in private). If you wish to run you show like that, it’s also your prerogative. I would have just passed on it. I still plan to skip it, but had I known in advance, I wouldn’t have bought a ticket. That’s my real issue here.

I have been fully vaccinated. It’s something I did to be able to move more easily around my job which involves visiting a variety of remote locales. Not only am I vaccinated, I’ve had covid… after my vaccination. That means I’ve also developed natural antibodies which science has shown to be a much more durable form of immunity. I am done wearing a mask. And if you ask me to show my card, it better be in a professional capacity otherwise the answer will be no. Very possibly a colorful no.

We attended Hazard con last year, also a masked event that didn’t sufficiently pre-warn us. We would have turned around and left if we hadn’t just driven a couple of hours across state lines to get there, and in any event it really did kill the day. Those little shows like Harper and Toyhios? Those are a couple of hours digging through long boxes and toybins and then out. Concoction is a weekend long event With after parties that go from dusk till dawn. It’s not the sort of thing that you want to wear a mask for 20 hours at.

Ironically, those restrictions probably wouldn’t affected me anyhow. My costume choices for the event were going to be Skeletor and Pinhead. It’s actually why I chose those for my last two convention appearances at Astronomicon and Fantasticon. They were really being pulled for ConCoction. Indeed, I’ve continued to stay clean shaven and delayed growing back my beard (which I keep to hide my weak chin) SPECIFICALLY because I can’t have it with the Pinhead makeup. It would have been very simple to add a samurai mask around my nose and chin to compliment the slightly Japanese look to my armor. Skeletor himself is a completely enclosed mask. Problem is, I don’t want to support the mask porn Concoction is still promoting. Which is a shame, because I’ve already bought my ticket and there are no refunds. I received no communication back from my emails to the show… and to be fair, we’re so close to showtime I can’t imagine it would be easy to contact me even if I didn’t end up in their Spam folder. However the entire affair has left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not going this weekend, and I won’t be buying from their vendors or their artists, nor will I be roaming around the halls in big detailed cosplay to amuse people and take photos with attendees.I always hope I add value to a show by supporting the people there and being a walking bit of decoration. But I’m not expecting to be missed. I don’t wish harm or ill will on the show. I simply won’t be participating in it.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me in Concoction. Maddie and I will not be returning to Hazard Con, ever. In this case with Concoction, it’s not quite as dishonest as Hazard, nor is it on the level of negligence that led me to complain about the North Coast Comic Con, But I still very much resent the fact that my pittance of admission is non refundable and that I’m not hearing back from registration. Concoction has definitely fallen off of the A list for me. It’s not going to be one of my automatic must-goes any longer, the way Cinema Wasteland and NEO Comic-Con are. I can’t trust them that they won’t take my money, then add new rules and run away. It’ll take some years of watching the con and it’s regulations before I’ll be comfortable buying a pass from them again. You probably won’t hear too much about me promoting them any further either. I’ll stay home and put away the armor that I’d left out, staged and ready. Perhaps I’ll check out The Columbus Toy and Game show.

But I won’t be back at concoction anytime soon.


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

Every Wednesday and Friday


Fantasticon 2023

The Joker walked up to Skeletor with an outstretched hand. Skeletor shook hands.
“What’s your name?” The Joker asked.
“So,” The Joker paused.” What’s your deal?”
“I’m here to take over the world!” Skeletor cackled.
The Joker shook his head.
“No, that’s my deal. You’re going to have to get a new deal.”
“What if I take over a DIFFRENT word?” Skeletor asked.

A few steps away, the the UA high teacher just laughed at them both.

I’ve got to say, it’s probably not a great idea for me to do Masters of the Universe characters two years in a row for this convention, but Skeletor had been itching to get back out since October and this is one of those sort of shows that really appreciates those kind of characters. The 40 times that I got stopped (across three hours) for photos is a good testament to that.

Fantasticon  is a frequent if not regular stop for us. But I couldn’t help but notice that the place was packed this year. Last year it was manageable. In prior years, there’s been more than enough room for me to move around… to the point where I’ve actually brought out Lego costumes for the show. Not this year! Skeletor is bulky enough that he still presents a problem though… and like Pinhead last week, wardrobe malfunction seems to be the word of the day. Those huge shoulder pads are always difficult to manage. You have to get the elastic all the way under your armpit for them to set correctly, and even then… there’s a certain sweet spot that you have to get where they’re resting on top of the vest, and where the fringe parts in just the right place To really balance on your forearm. If that’s not difficult enough, as soon as I put on the harness, the lower right hand strap broke. There we are, on the sidewalk by our parked car in downtown Toledo. The temperature has plummeted and the wind is blowing, and this thing has completely broken apart. I ran to the car, grab duct tape and patched it up as best I could. It was just too cold for Maddie and me to really gear up outside, so we stacked up my armor and ran to the convention center. The harness held until we got inside, where it promptly came apart again. now separated from my emergency repair kit, I snatched a safety pin from my mask, and pinned the foam together. I also noticed that my belt felt loose for most of the day. It wasn’t until I did my final check before the costume contest that I discovered the back of the belt where the clips connect had torn. Not all the way through, it was still connected, but it created a gap that left everything terribly loose. At least Skeletor can swagger around with one hand on his belt buckle and still look natural… and it will hold long enough for me to shake a fist in the air…  but still. One problem after another. I’m glad I left the stiff monster feet at home (I’d tangled with those stage stairs before!).

We headed down the comic creators isle. The few actors that they had brought in didn’t really interest me, and are charging too much to meet anyhow. Then again, it seems like the comic creators are also trying to price me out of this game now. Sam De La Rosa is all business, and as I handed over a single issue of Venom he proudly warned me “I charge you know!” I nodded. “That’s why I don’t have any money left over to buy stuff from your table!”

At least Ron Marz was interested in talking a little bit about his time on Green Lantern and how the run came about. The real treat of the day was Geof Isherwood. Not only was he signing for free, he was really happy to talk about his time on Suicide Squad. It’s one of my favorite books, and he was generally engaged.

“It was such an interesting time,” he told me. “The book has shifted into this espionage, spy sort of thing. It was really different.”
He flipped over the next book in the stack which is the cover of Superman Batman and Aquaman searching for the Atom.
“A lot of people actually tell me this is their favorite cover,” he said.
“Really?” I replied, intrigued. It’s a good one, and I definitely wanted a signature on because of the mainstream characters, but he produced so much more interesting work, that I was surprised.
“For me it was one of those moments… I finally get to draw Superman!”

I tried my best to get into a couple of the panels, but it was standing room only, with the crowd spilling out past the panel area and into the aisle. Like I said, it was a crowded day. No less crowded when it came time for the costume contest. Fantasticon brings out really great cosplayers. I saw an amazing Venom that I just had to chat with about his foam method. It had been his first contest, and he ended up placing. I love it when first timers win!

Despite being a reasonably short day – we were probably there for only about 3 hours, it was a pretty exhausting one and Maddie and I were pretty quick to head out after the contest. I made a quick sideline to grab a beautiful Hellraiser print, and check out the lego figures now that I had my mask off! But before too long we were back in the car, And headed to Burger King for ice cream.

Fantastic con remains a good solid show and I almost wonder if they’ve outgrown this venue. Time will tell. We’ll see you next year. I’m almost certain we’ll be back.

Maddie’s review is below, and the scroll further for photos!

Last week! 3-11-23!

It’s pretty common knowledge that Baby Yoda was supposed to be basically written out of season 3 and a lot of the Mandalorian going forward. I’ve heard talk that the marketing department basically came to John Favro and told him “You can’t do that period it’s the only mech we can actually sell!”

Whatever happened, The Mandalorian definitely got the message and Baby Yoda is absolutely pervasive the series. He’s so ever-present to the point where he actually gets some of his own action, piloting a ship and going to get Bo Katan to rescue Mando. Mando on the other hand is wondering “How did I end up on the set of the Descent?”

It’s funny, because I watched The Mandalorian and Star Trek Picard back-to-back. It’s interesting to note how differently they both treat technology. I’ve never noticed it before, but star trek still tries to fill you with wonder at the high tech. The characters on screen are impressed and astonished by the bounty hunter ship. The method of communication that the bad guy uses to talk with her evil overlord is shocking. There’s a real healthy respect for technology and what it can and can’t do. On the other hand, Star Wars is very casual about its tech. We just assume that Baby Yoda’s antigrav stroller is just gonna float. It’s just a matter of fact that this stuff works. High Tech robots are sold with the same disdain and casual flare as a beat up ’89 Chevy. In star trek, technology is still a miracle, where it is in Star Wars it’s just a fact of their existence. I think it’s an interesting contrast.

Picard basically a bottle story this episode. Our heroes are trapped in a gravity well due the miscalculation on Picard’s part, and everybody’s going to die. It’s kind of an examination of what do you do when you know there is no hope…

Of course they eventually escape. I mean come on, we know we have another 5 episodes are so to go so that’s not really a surprise. What it is, is a chance to sit back and watch some character development. It’s an exposition heavy episode, but it doesn’t feel like it. It never drags, and because these are characters that you genuinely care about… and they’re acting in character, (Along with a few new fan favorites) It’s really just a nice little hang out at the bar with friends. That’s one of the things that I keep pointing out about how Picard really gets star trek right… for the first time In probably a decade and a half.

I remember talking a little bit last week about how the first part of the red death 2 partner here felt like it should have ended with that episode. I’m actually still of that same opinion. This second part felt a lot like filler to me, and when you’ve only got half a season, you really can’t afford to be wasting time on filler. Sure, there’s some shenanigans, with the Red Death duplicating herself like Agent Smith in the Matrix and then going all Minority Report on central city… but it still feels stretched out. Like we could have gotten this earlier. I almost wonder if this 2nd part was Entirely so that we could squeeze in a Batwoman cameo. For those who weren’t fans of the character of the show, it’s OK, it’s brief. But It really serves to showcase the service that Leslie was given a real disservice in that character. When Ruby Rose left, it always felt like they just reached out and grabbed the first lesbian they could to fill the suit. Add POC for a diversity upgrade…and that was it. That didn’t give Leslie a chance to really spread her wings as an actress, that didn’t give her a great deal of characterization beyond “gay and black”. I enjoy far more watching her chew the scenery as the Red Death. When you put this character with flaws and depth next to the fairly flat and bland Batwoman, it really becomes apparent that Leslie has a lot of talent that she just wasn’t given a chance to use in her own series. Despite being a bit of a filler episode, the Flash is maintaining a good baseline of quality, and I really am going to miss it when it ends. The news about Grant Gustin hanging up the suit for the final time last week really hit me. I’m gonna miss these characters, but after 9 years of it? It’s really a case of “Don’t be sad that it’s ending, be grateful that it happend.”

foodSpeaking of things that I’m grateful are happening, The Food That Built America has just been piling up on my DVR. I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to this recently, because it’s just such a good show, and I caught up this weekend.
They’ve moved from a lot of stuff that you would expect… a lot of the staples of American food and are getting more specific. It’s not just breakfast cereal in general now, it’s Pebbles and Pop Tarts and Eggo waffles. We explore the origins of the Buffalo wing, And marshmallow peep. One of the things that really strikes me, is how recent a lot of these innovations are apparent if you’re a Gen Xer like me, you grew up always having holiday candy for each season. But a lot of that stuff got started within my parents lifetime. It’s Interesting to understand that Pop Tarts and leggo my Eggos were born right around the same time I was; indeed, just a few years earlier. It’s almost unthinkable to realize that until the last thirty years or so, nobody really ate chicken wings or Buffalo wings outside of New York. We tend to forget that wings only gained national prominence and came of age in the early nineties… around the same time I was coming of age myself. We take a lot of the stuff for granted, and this show is particularly good in reminding us of the rapid innovation and development of our society. It helps really put us in our place in history. That’s the thing that I’m thoroughly enjoying about it, and if you missed the first season, it’s usually in frequent reruns on the History Channel. Set your DVR and get to watching this. You won’t be sorry.


Ava’s Possessions

Five minutes into Ava‘s possessions, and I can already see I’m going to like this. Much like the zombie comedies that became fashionable for a while this one is a Comedy that mixing humor with the traditional exorcisms kind of films. That’s strange, it seems like it be a tough sell… But the filmmakers dives right in and manage to whip up something that’s immediately entertaining, knows what it is and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s not pretentious, and more importantly it’s not parody – which would’ve been the absolute easiest way to go here. They’ve also got an interesting advantage here… What happens after an exorcism? The exorcism itself in most of these films is the focal point. Starting this thing up in a dumpy apartment that’s been trashed, with a judgemental family, all banged and bandaged up… Asking if Ava‘s had anything to do with her possession… It’s a brilliant satire. To make things worse, the DA wants to prosecute her for things she did while possessed, and she basically has a life that wasn’t that great already, completely falling apart now.

Turns out, there’s a version of rehab, like AAA but for people who’ve been possessed. If she goes there, the state will drop the charges.

Of course the demon immediately six to get her back, and we get creepy little girl images as well as dramatic lighting to let us know that the evil is closing back in.
She invites her friends over… They come, hesitantly… And we get to hear a few more details. They describe her as a mega bitch while she was possessed… As well as a slut. She got uninvited from a friends birthday party after sleeping with that friends boyfriend – you know? And while they get drunk, ghostly voices whisper.

Time for her first meeting.

Part of therapy is group sessions, part of it is making amends, and part of it and trying to sort through the pieces… To perhaps figure out what happened. Group therapy is fascinating and fun nonsense… It’s everything that Danny Bonaduce describes rehab as. And yet Ava‘s attempt to explore the truth here… Not to mention the things that her family and friends are hiding from her, all really draws you in. Review out its twists and turns as the movie perfectly balances satirical humor with a mystery and creepy horror elements. The demon himself is beautifully realize and smartly underused. He’s there when you need him, but they don’t linger on it anymore than they have to. The same is true of the possessed people. There’s not a ton of blood or gore or make up affects here, never more than is needed, but just enough to satisfy the job. It was possessions is a fairly unique piece of work and I can’t breeze a highly enough. This one’s a definite by whether you see it at the dollar store or anywhere else!

American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet

56178712_10218363995641367_8262274680904220672_nThe cover art for this movie feels like a low quality Asylum movie, heading straight to Netflix. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Ratchet is a well shot film with a good script and fine actors ding a competent job. The license plates and news segments remind us that film was shot in the Cleveland area, most notably in several locations in Westlake and Akron.

Don’t be fooled by the title though. While our antagonist, Lilith Ratchet, is indeed a ghost, she acts like no poltergeist I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t a surprise then, to discover that American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet wasn’t the intended title. Director Eddie Lengyel planned on calling the film simply The Curse of Lilith Ratchet, but the distribution company stepped in and decided 51237843_2419711374770882_3597706701551173632_nthey could sell more copies under a different title, tying it to an existing (if unrelated) anthology franchise.

The movie starts at Creative Apothecary in Akron, a new age store where our protagonists discover an ornate wooden box (have we learned nothing from Hellraiser or Gremlins?) containing a shrunken head (have we learned nothing from Charles Band??) and a poem. The sell it to a radio host who makes the head the centerpiece of his Halloween show. Broadcasting from a packed night club he plays hot potato with the head while repeatedly reciting the poem (have we learned nothing from Candyman???) unleashing the curse and the evil IMG_6335ghost of Lilith Ratchet.

I kid with all the horror references. While you can definitely spot Lengyels influences in things like the way Ratchet moves (a glide that really reminds me of Angela in “Night of the Demons” or even the Daleks from Doctor Who), he doesn’t wear them on his sleeve. There’s plenty here that feels original. I was particularly impressed with the boldness of using a big crowded party to unleash the curse. More often this happens in small, intimate settings. A slumber party or small gathering of friends. Doing it in a populous setting is a risk, but the kinetic energy of the lights and people at the party is also a great 57070980_2571781152897236_4783031230440407040_njuxtaposition with the later kills, most of which happen in isolation and gloom.

It’s not a perfect film. Despite the 30 day shoot, with a budget of $15,000 some cracks will show. They are few and far between, but there are occasional clumsy segways and certain scenes that didn’t get the attention to lighting that most of the rest of the film did. Lilith Ratchet is a great looking ghost, but light is not this makeup’s friend. When she’s too lit up, she looks too much like an actress in a costume, but when she’s cloaked in shadows and darkness, those horrifying teeth and piercing eyes give me chills.

That’s the reason I’m recommending this film so highly by the way. Sure, the Conjuring movies made me jump a couple times. Human Centipede made me squirm. But I haven’t IMG_6336really gotten goosebumps from a horror movie since “Sinister”. That takes some talent. It’s got some blood, but it’s not really gory. It dosen’t rely on the gore, but rather an atmosphere and a ghost whose presence fills the room every time Lilith glides into frame.

The film ends with a requisite twist that I could mostly see an hour into it, but also manages to tie things together nicely, bringing us full circle back to the beginning. It’s a satisfying enough ending that leaves the door open for us to possibly see Lilith Ratchet again, and I for one, hope we do.



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

Every Wednesday and Friday