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154

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_154


Week of June 21st

Getting the reviews in JUST before it’s time to watch this weeks new episodes!

I have repeatedly said over the years that Superman works better on television than he does in film. The thing is, counterintuitive as it may be, Batman works better in movies because Batman is all about spectacle. Superman on the other hand, isn’t. For him, it’s all about character. It really is. It’s about reconciling the man with the super and the exploration both of him and he is supporting cast – one of the things that Superman and Lois has really gotten right. That balance, that exploration, all wrapped up in a slow burn. Last weeks episode paid off set ups I didn’t even noticed had occurred. It was all about exploring the past for half of the episode, and then crashing straight into the newest crisis. But it couldn’t of done it properly without the previous nine hours of set up and character exploration.

There’s also a wise effort to homage what’s come before without explicitly connecting to it. We begin the episode with the creation of the fortress of solitude… And it’s obviously trying to evoke the first Superman movie. Of course in a world where that first Salkind Superman film exists, anything else is going to feel a little hollow… And indeed, the same is true of Jor-el. I feel like this actor is miscast, certainly he doesn’t stand up well against luminarias like Marlon Brando and Russell Crowe. The less we see of him the better. Perry White, he is similar miscast, or perhaps we’re just not getting enough of him for me to judge fairly. That’s OK, because they dangle just enough of that Superman and Lois relationship budding that I feel good about it. I feel like I’ve seen everything I need to (and it’s the most realistic one we’ve ever seen – a natural evolution of thier working relationship, as opposed to a meek Clark trying to get the attention of a callous Lois who is preoccupied with an unattainable Superman). We’ve got the whole Lois and Clark vibe, every bit as much as we get the Smallville feeling every time we’re back in town. Overall, this show is about expanding the mythology, and building on everything that has come before.

Building. You know, that’s an interesting turn of phrase. And it perhaps best represents what I’m really liking about this series. It’s building. Instead of falling into the trendy habit of deconstructing, this one’s trying to build and expand, and that’s what makes it the best Superman we’ve seen in nearly 2 decades. And they’re not done with us yet. We’re only halfway through the season. At the end of the episode, when Lois calls John Henry Irons, to tell him things are beginning… I had chills.

Good thing that Superman was so good, because the Flash… UGG.
Seriously, is it just me or has this season of The Flash been a little bit light on… Well, THE FLASH??? Barry and Iris are off to some deserted island with no cell coverage to go make babies, which leaves Team Flash alone to deal with the villian of the week. Except, it’s not really Team Flash anymore. I mean we’ve got all these minor characters that have kind of gotten promoted in the wake of Wells and Cisco and eventually Caitlyn leaving. We’re going to do this Flash-lite episode just with them? This isn’t Legends of Tomorrow where it’s a pure ensemble, this is a show with a clear lead and all of these jumped up minor characters just doesn’t do it for me. It’s almost as if, let’s say in the fifth or sixth season of Star Trek the next generation… What if they decided to replace Geordie Laforge with Barkley, jettison Troi and just give Guinan a full-time role on the show… Maybe Nurse Ogawa gets promoted to doctor and we get rid of Crusher, throw Ensign Sito into the main security role on the bridge… heck while we’re at it – let’s make a depowered Q second in command!

My buddy Mike says it sounds like an interesting alternative universe, while my friend Bobbie says it makes her eye twitch. But either way, as the prime timeline, as the main series, how weird with this be? That’s kind of what I feel like happening on the flash right now, and I really don’t dig it. I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t even finish this episode.

Loki was similarly disappointing. Again we have a lot of X position, a lot of talk, but it feels like so much filler. I almost feel like they had more material than they could fit in a simple movie, but not enough to fill a proper series or miniseries, so it’s getting stretched out. In a film you’d get rid of a lot of the stuff and just hit the two or three plot points that were given Each episode expeditiously. On the other hand if it were a full TV series, or even say a full Netflix run Dash 10 to 12 episodes, we spaced this talky stuff out a lot more instead of dumping it into 2/3 of each episode. Of course that would also necessitate a B storyline, which is also really lax. Low-key just isn’t all that, and it’s being driven on the sheer likability of Tom Hiddleston. I’m not sure if that’s enough, but considering we are already halfway through it, I’m hoping things will really start to pick up. Otherwise the next few weeks are going to be a bit of a slog.

 

 


Akron Canton Comic Con 2021

The plague doctor lowered her mask and began the arduous track through the crowded isles, teaming with people. She stopped short at the large, dark monster. It’s normal to flash was covered mostly in Scarlett ropes, and she evaluating the spectrum. Then, she selected a small white bag from the top of her staff, and on the sachet of lavender on one of the hooks that made up the spiraling talisman that adorned the top of the Skeksis walking stick. Next to him, a young Gelfling, chained to the monster, just looked on, puzzled and petting her Fizzgig.

That’s right, Maddie was coming with me this year – kind of a necessity since I had no hands and needed someone capapble of handing over money for admission and spaying vendors and stuff.

Akron Canton Comic con has been a regular stop now for a few years. It is one of the best of the Harper shows in the area, not just because of the costume contest that draws cosplayers from all around the area, but also the smart and interesting layout in the larger venue. The artist alley lines the upper level, and continues just by the stairs of the lower area. It means you’re going to have to pass through the artists before you hit the dealers. It’s a nice way of getting them better exposure. The venue also most cinnamon press the snack bar, selling two dollar sloppy Joe’s and hotdogs pop and ice and whatever you need. There’s tables and chairs and open spaces in the upper level for people to eat and hang out out, making this one of the more surprisingly social show.

Social can sometimes be the point. There are certain people in that area like Allie or Jason, that I’m only going to run into at these particular events. And for a lot of people, this was their first time back into the convention world in over a year. I was delighted and relieved to run into Mike, the  founder of Akron Comicon, working a booth. He had his own bout with the plague, and this afternoon he actually looked in better health and more positive and spry than I’d seen him, even before the calamity. My teenage daughter was accompanying me, and he actually recognized her first. Not a big surprise, considering my features were completely buried under the full body costume.

In other corners of the show, we ran into a couple that was walking around in Robotech costumes. Never my thing when I was a kid, but my friend Johnny Em turned me onto it by slipping me the novels when I was in my 20s. It’s an amazing series, and fun to see people dressing up with it. I don’t get a chance to talk about it that often. The fellow then reached behind him, into his backpack and pulled out his problem. It was a plate, with what appeared to be a steak and potatoes on it… And I knew immediately which character he was cosplaying. There’s a scene in the middle of the Macross saga, where pilot Ben is just sitting down to dinner. Suddenly the alarm klaxon goes off and he hast to rush off to his veritech plane. He turns back to his dinner, and points at it saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be back.”
The heartbreaking irony here, is he never does make it back. Something you don’t realize at the moment… It’s just a funny line that becomes heartbreaking a few chapters later. A little touch like this on the prop, it just takes the costume to a whole new meta level. 

Maddie found an Avatar poster from one of the artists in Artist Alley, and absolutely fell in love with it. Was one of the first things that she bought, and it’s one of those things that I always enjoy seeing my kids buying art from the vendors, not just toys or books. For my part I hit the 50 Cent bins at Hazel’s Heroes pretty hard, flipping through them, even while in the Skeksis costume. Of course, that meant that when it was time for the costume contest, I had to find a way to hide the bag in my robes. I pushed it up as far as I could into the crook of my elbow and tried to keep that elbow almost past my back, with the bag then melting into the folds of the cloak. Perhaps I should’ve been focusing less on that, because once we got on stage, the sachet from the plague doctor fell off my staff. I reach down to grab it with my Skeksis hand, and a finger fell off. It was a disaster, the costume was falling apart before our very eyes! Everybody smiled and laughed and whore, and Maddie shuffled me quickly off the stage.

After I’d gotten out of the costume, it was back to the floor, where I could better see into the long boxes. I grabbed another stack of trade paperbacks and chatted with some of the people who could now recognize me. There was a Deadpool in a sailor moon costume who you may have recall seeing him at ZipCon back in 2020. (We leared he went by Dead Moon, rather than the SailorPool moniker I’d hung on him last year) He looked at me, aghast.

“THAT’S what you really look like?”
“Look who’s talking!” I laughed. And it was nice being able to chat with people, friends old and new face-to-face.

It had been a long day, and a crowded one. From a purely spectator standpoint, the show seemed like it was more crowded than usual, a phenomenon I’m in countering at every convention I go to this year. We ended up having to park two lots away and walked down to before we got into the show. That’s OK, I’m happy to see that the scene is making some sort of a comeback. We ended the day tired, but happy. And can’t wait to go out and do it again.

If you’re interested in seeing Maddie’s video diary of the event, you can check that out below. Otherwise jump to the pictures!

 

 

 

 


153

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Focus on H B Halicki

I spotted this DVD at one of my many pilgrimages to the Dollar store. The cover art is obviously designed to evoke an association with films like The Fast and the Furious, but I knew better. I grabbed this collection mainly for the third feature listed on it; Gone in 60 Seconds part 2. A less knowledgeable fan might have assumed this film had something to do with the Jerry Bruckhimer movie starring Nicholas Cage, but I was expecting something else. It wasn’t until I got home though, that I fully understood what I have purchased.

Previously, I’d known director H B Halicki only by reputation, not even properly by name. What I discovered was that this set was in fact, a collection of most of his feature films, missing only about 30 minuets of his first movie (but more on that in another article). after watching it, Halicki easily made it on to my list of favorite directors that no one has ever heard of. I’m going to hit these films almost completely out of order though we will kick things off with his first movie. Join us over the next few months as we discover exactly how H B Halicki earned the name “The Car Crash King”!


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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The Graveyard : Bloody Murder 3

index.jpgThe Graveyard is not necessarily a direct sequel to the Bloody Murder films, although it was planned as one. As it is, the film is more of a sidequel, taking place in the same town and at the same camp but not necessarily with the same character as a killer. Nevertheless, you can tell even within the opening minutes that it shares a great deal of the DNA from the previous two films and it very much belongs as a part of the series.

The film opens with a group of stupid teenagers sneaking into the Placid Pines cemetery through a broken gate. I say stupid teens, by the way, not because they’re teenagers but because they are really acting dumb and half drunk announcing their entry and competing for the most interesting entrance to the cemetery. The whole party is overdubbed by a miscellaneous rockabilly song as they run in between the tombstones. While they don’t specifically state that the game they’re playing in the cemetery is “bloody murder” it is set up the same… One person is it and has to go find the others. However the person counting down doesn’t notice the masked killer behind him – and when he opens his eyes a white mask and a knife are coming straight at him. That’s enough for him, game index2or not he takes up running – but the mast killers pursues him, scoring a victim along the way. He wasn’t looking – and impales himself on the broken fence, it’s only then that we discover our masked killer is one of the dumb teenagers – it was all a massive fake out (just like it has been in every previous film) – one that ended up tragic.

Five years later, the masked teen, Robert,  is getting paroled after being charged with manslaughter for this incident. One of the girls from that night is taking him back to town, where they hang out at the campsite from the previous two bloody murder films. We get a melancholy shot of the cemetery as they drive past in Roberts pensive mug staring at the windows. The gangs all coming back to the camp now that Robert is out.

During the getting to know you sequences we get a couple of jump scares with the groundskeeper – someone who is not part of the reunion going on here. Everyone seems to be in fairly high spirits except for Bobby gloomy-McWet-blanket. Perhaps he’s just tired of hearing the couple in the cabin next door have sex. He ominously warned them index3.jpgthat the woods aren’t safe.

The rest of the group has a quick power in the dining room where they discuss whether or not it safe to be around body – turns out his family was murdered while he was in jail, an incident involving arson – the plot thickens. One of the girls freaks out and runs to the cemetery, convinced that karma will follow her and the only way out is to beg forgiveness… In the darkness, a masked killer stalks. He’s not just following her though, he seems to be everywhere – his reflection showing up in the mirror as one of the others heads to the bathroom for an obligatory shower scene.

Back at the graveyard, the dead friend’s grave is empty – dug up.

While they’re investigating the graveyard, shower girl gets it. The group hears screaming but by the time they arrive, the shower is empty. Everyone tries to figure out what happened – her bags are still there and her car is still there. Bobby tells them if she went to the woods, she’s gone. He believes it retribution for what they did five years ago… It doesn’t matter the group decides to head up to the woods to search for her.

In the words we run into an angry ex-girlfriend – this might of actually served as a nice misdirect if they didn’t kill her off as soon as she storms away. We get some squabbling as they wander aimlessly through the effectively lit woods, complete with another fake out– not only a mask but also a retractable blade. They laugh it off, despite the fact that the caretaker warns them once again – these woods aren’t safe, and one of their people are still missing.

index4.jpgBack at camp, the cars have all been tampered with – slashed tires, missing batteries and cut gas lines. That should be ominous, but the pacing feels off and the tone hasn’t built up enough dread. While the boys try and fix the cars, the girls smoke pot and pontificate – that is until the killer shut up again, this time with a severed head in hand (Possibly the best gore in the entire film). The camp is lit beautifully, with that light blue mist we’ve become so used to in the Bloody Murder films and the sight of the killer walking across the field to stalk his victim feels iconic.

Gore signals the beginning of the third act, and now the remaining campers know they’re in danger.

It’s about this time that the cop shows up… He catches Bobby with a bloody knife that the killer used on someone in the woods and he finds himself back in custody. Morning index5.jpgcomes and our survivors gather together in one of the dorms, while the cop throws Bobby in a jail cell. Meanwhile, at the cabins the remaining campers think they have figured out who the killer is.

While it’s clumsier than the two Bloody Murder films, The Graveyard still throws us twists, turns and enough fake outs to keep you wondering through the third act who the killer actually is. Truly the only thing keeping this from being a fully realized Bloody Murder film is the absence of the series slasher, Trevor Moorehouse… And even without him, we still have a masked killer who looks like a natural evolution from that stalker. The white mask this killer wears could just as easily be a weathered and patched up version of the one from Bloody Murder 2. It’s definitely worth watching with the other films and absolutely deserves its place in this trilogy.


Week of June 14th

The main thing that struck me about Loki this week, was how slow it was. The episode was mostly filler (and two episodes in? That’s not a great sign). Don’t get me wrong. We had one or two key plot elements revealed, and that’s good stuff. But 80% of this episode… If this were a feature film, this would be the stuff that got cut. Of course the big reveal that the variant was a female version of lucky, well let’s just say I called this before the series started. At this point, in modern day politics, it was practically a requirement. That said, you’re doing it the right way. Girl Loki is very much her on character, and doing her own thing. Interesting

Over on Superman and Lois, @&$# just got real. Stakes like I’ve never seen before on a CW show, and an explosive climax that was… completely Superman. Not just brutalizing Zod like he did in Man of Steel , not just moping his way through it like in Superman Returns, but an intelligent, clever solution to a world ending problem… Absolutely Superman.

It is not an exaggeration for me to say this is the best Superman I’ve seen in 20 years.

We’re definitely getting more Superman than Clark now. Almost like the first few episodes were frontloaded with Clark story, and now it’s a lot more superman story. It’s an interesting disbursement, and it works. Because as things grow more dire as we move towards a climax, we need Superman more than Clark. Of course now that we’ve hit that climax, one almost wonders where do we go from here? We’re about halfway through the season, but there’s still a lot more to go… and yet this totally felt like it was a season finale. It really gets me eager for what we have in store…

Flash is leaning a little more heavily into intrigue the season. We’re trying to discover things like why the new police chief hates Metas, but we’re also dealing with a lot of B story stuff – like Barry and Iris trying to get pregnant in strange places (like the lab warehouse?), and Black Cisco trying to catalog and dance in his lab. It’s a real effort The show is making to help us accept Chunk as Cisco Ramon‘s replacement… And, it just doesn’t work for me. Cisco was adorkable, where as Chester is just gawky… and not really his own character. He’s just another carbon copy of the archtype, very similar in fanboy inclinatons to Cisco….It’s just feels like a mulligan to me.


Still, it’s a rollicking good adventure with a familiar face, if not exactly a returning villain. But the adventure really feels secondary here. This episode is not really about team flash beating bad guys, as much as it is about really trying to integrate Black Cisco onto the team and more importantly, picking up on some of the threats they been dropping about Cecile. That turned out nicely creepy, and it’s a pleasant change to have attractive people talking about their feelings and padded rooms instead of attractive people talking about their feelings in hallways.  Overall, this is a bridge episode. It’s not filler, but it doesn’t quite stand on its own either. It’s necessary to push the long-term storytelling to the next plot point. Still, if you’re keeping up on the series, it’s fun.

There’s a lot of familiar tech and Easter eggs dropped throughout it, stuff that reminds you why we love the flash and jumped on board with this show in the first place.

And what is this I hear about The Food That Built America having a PODCAST??? I’m going to have to check that out today while I’m on the road. The story of chewing gum was less compelling last night than last week’s potato chip episode, but I’m really still riveted. I hope the podcast isn’t just the narration from the show or something dumb like that. We’ll find out and report back next week!

 


151

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Steel City Con and Pulp Fiction

Look, I knew when I was getting into. I’ve been avoiding Steel City Con for a few years now, because it’s just too big. It looks like a cattle call, a meat market… One of those large autograph focused conventions that I’ve been increasingly dropping for my schedule. However, my buddy Mike has been bugging me to ride along to a show with him for a while now, and he and his buddy had an open seat in the back of the car.

And William Shatner was coming.

I’ve been going to Star Trek conventions for a long time, and I even have Shatner‘s autograph through his fan club, but we never actually crossed paths. He made it to Cleveland a couple of times with wizard world, but we all know how I feel about that show. Being able to camp out in someone’s backseat and not have to worry about navigation or parking, it kind of changes the equation. So does the fact that Shatner is 90. This felt like my best chance, now or never. So I ponied up for the photo op… Something I generally consider to be gouging, but again… This is really my best shot, then I gathered up my Shadow costume and met the guys drive down to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

Steel City Con is actually held at Monroeville convention center… A suburb of Pittsburgh, and also right across the street from Monroeville mall. This is a bonus. I was going to check two boxes off my bucket list, meet Shatner, and finally visit mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed.

The fan community in PA is just as starved for conventions as what I’ve been noticing in Ohio. The show was packed, shoulder to shoulder. The prices were high, and other than Shatner, I was really only interested in meeting two people. Comedy legend John Lovitz was signing at his first convention ever here, and I’ve loved him in everything I’ve ever seen him in. He seem to be in a bit of a mood though, he smiled brightly and cheerfully for photos, and that smile would fade as soon as the camera went down. His panel was half hearted, he still delivered some fun lines, but he really didn’t seem into it.

On the other hand Alanna Masterson and Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead we’re both in fine form. They were happy and friendly, and just generally fun to be around. Alana walked out and looked over the attendance… And just breathed “ look at all the people! I haven’t seen this many people in ages!” She is bouncy and happy and steals the show even when people are asking questions specifically of Chandler Riggs. She’s every bit of fun in person as she always was on talking dead, and that’s a nice thing. The panels themselves though were really lackluster. There is no moderation, no one up there asking questions guiding the conversation and bring us something new. They brought the actors onto the stage, and let the audience just ask questions. The problem is, when you do that, you just get the same dozen questions that you’ve heard in every other interview, convention panel, or talk show. I was actually a little disappointed, because I’ve always loved the entertainment and programming portions of these sort of shows.

The other person I was there to meet was Larry Thomas, better known as the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. He was strictly a target of opportunity, I wanted to meet him because he was there, and also The least expensive autograph and photo! Thomas is having a great time. He loves seeing the fans he loves mugging for the camera, he just seemed genuinely happy to be there, even down to a snarky “master of my domain shirt”, he was possibly the most fun guest that I interacted with that day.

Back in the dealers room I was saddened by the lack of comics. I guess they don’t cal themselves a COMIC con, but that’s what it is… Or at least what it started out as. Best you can do for bargain bins were dollar bins… Although I found one that was swimming full of trade paperbacks. I grabbed some Hell blazer and ultimate, some titles that I always meant to get around to like bite club, and even a strange looking ultimate Spiderman trade. I checked the volume number, it wasn’t on my list… I should’ve looked a little closer though. It’s about three or four issues, all translated into what appears to be Norwegian. I’ve got those issues in English elsewhere, so it’s just kind of a trip to see this thing. Not what I was looking for, but not a complete waste of a dollar bill.

I grab some blind bags of Doctor Who figures to open up with the kids when I got home, as well as digging through a huge box full of Disney park pins. Each, I grabbed a handful for the kids, as well as a bunch of superheroes to pin to the back of my comicon bag.

All in all, I still managed to have a fun day, the guys introduced me to Indian Food, and I got to meet Captain Kirk – really the one that started it all. Still, it was hot and crowded, and in a lot of ways exactly the sort of imagine that I don’t enjoy going to. They could probably still get me back with certain guests… For instance, a couple of the Elm Street girls are coming in the fall, and I’m tempted to make the trek back out just to grab them. But it’s definitely not gonna be a stop on my normal rotation.

Of course because I’m just that masochistic, I decided to make it a doubleheader this weekend. There was a small Jeff Harper show going on in my backyard (and God bless Harper for keeping the con scene alive through the pandemic), back at the Westlake double tree where they did the spring comic show, and where they held Retro Invasion convention back in fall of 2019. The hotel has been getting a lot of traffic with these kind of shows, and it’s nice to have some of the stuff showing up within a quickie 15 minute drive. This one was the pulp fiction show, and really I was just going to find out what it would be like. I have no idea what to expect, other than a strange flea market atmosphere. I once again donned the shadow costume and dove in. When they say pulp fiction convention, what they mean is book sale. All books, a lot of trashy pulp novels from before I was born, as well as more than enough pulp magazines, but also newspaper reprints. A smattering of comics, and a lot more paperback novels from the 70s 80s and 90s than I expected. I loaded up on James Blish Star Trek adaptions as well as Roger Zelazney paperbacks as well as a few odd ducks like a Buck Rogers and a strange zombie for dummies style book. It was an interesting show, and it would probably behove me to go with a list of shadow reprints that I don’t have, and maybe a more informed attack on the paperbacks. It was also a pleasant surprise to discover my buddies Rhonda and Criss there. I haven’t seen these two girls in probably over a year, so it was nice to bump into them, despite my full costume!

There’s talk of making Pulp fiction convention a yearly thing. And I think that’s more than enough. A quick, one day niche specialty feel like this. I’m intrigued enough to show up again if they come back!

 


150

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_150


Halloween Resurrection

index.jpgI’ve never completely understood all the hate that Halloween resurrection gets. Admittedly, this is not up to the quality of the original, but that’s not really what I’m expecting from a late series sequel to a slasher franchise.

It could be because Jamie Lee Curtis is so prominently featured on the cover and that fans were expecting her to be a central component to the film– in all fairness that is a bit of bait and switch. Her prologue in this movie is really nothing more then A dire epilogue to H20 and dispatching her at the beginning (A demand she had written into her contract) surely left a bad taste in certain peoples mouths– much like the way the survivors from Aliens were treated in Alien three.

Nevertheless the idea of turning the Myers house into a bizarre reality television competition, it was actually timely and clever – a twist that we haven’t seen before… OMIGOD IS THAT KATEE SACKHOFF??? Seriously. I love Katee Sackoff  – in everything but BSG. indexI’d totally fogotten aboyt Tyra banks here too. She’s cringeworthy here and there, but her real job is to be cute as the producer of the show. Busta Rhymes also seems wierd casting, but again, we forget how huge this dude was at that moment – he literally had 15 minutes of fame and then vanished from the scene. And you know what? He’s better than he gets credit for.

It’s a paper thin plot with the main characters set up with body cams and exploring the Myers house, but as Michael arrives and starts to slash his way through the hapless contestants, I’m actually quite well entertained – it’s a better entry then some of the late series sequels, most notably my first Halloween film, number six with the curse of Michael Myers (I know that’s a little bar to clear, but when you’re this deep into the series it’s really the way you should be measuring it). Myers kind of lacks motivation outside of his territory being invaded (and that’s more a Jason Vorhees trope. Perhaps someone got them confused) but the third act twist of someone watching the webcast being able to communicate with the final girl inside to help her is actually pretty clever. The whole thing might have been better served as a stand alone or in another franchise (this would make a dynamite Scream sequel). Honestly, this greatest sin is being largely generic and out of place (almost like a fan film or a TV episode) and ultimately forgettable.

But forgettable isn’t the same as BAD.

At the end of the day, you’re either a fan of this or you’re not. It ‘s almost more of a sidequel and perhaps should be held to a different standard. It really doesn’t belong in this continuity (specifically the timeline that skips 2-6, and picks up at H20) I don’t think anything I’m gonna say is gonna change your mind, but if you’ve never seen it – I do encourage you to check it out. It’s a fun watch once you turn your brain off, and having it on DVD is a great reason to grab the set.


Week of 6/6/21

It’s a weird week when the Flash is on the top of the discussion list, but we had a really good episode this week. Cisco is leaving… I mean, he kind of left the show a couple times already, but this time it’s official. This time they’re really committing to it, and giving us what is very much a farewell story. Sure there’s actually a fun villain in it that does some cool stuff, but that’s not what this one’s really about this very much is Cisco story… And it underscores where we’re at with the Flash. It’s time to end it. The series still has enough heart and momentum great episodes like this really resonate. We had a fairly shocking farewell to Wells, and we know that Caitlyn‘s leaving this year too. All of this at once, it feels like if we were to keep pushing another year, that it would just be a mistake. One by one bid farewell to these beloved characters, and maybe just time to put the chairs on the tables and call it a day. After Crisis, the Arrowverse really was over.

Of course, that doesn’t seem to apply to Superman and Lois (or Stargirl for that matter). Then again, it’s hard to tell if it’s proper Arrowverse or not. It’s not cast or paced like an Arrowverse show, and indeed, we’re even reusing a villain from Supergirl season one – you may remember, back when Alex was straight, she even went on a date with him to get information. Then again, I’m not entirely certain if this is really Morgan Edge after all. This weeks episode ended with a bang and a twist and a cliffhanger that has me very eager to see what happens next.


I guess the big news this week is Loki. I’m gonna admit that I enjoyed it. This may be the strongest MCU TV show… At least the strongest opening for one of them that I’ve seen. That’s not surprising, Tom Hiddleston is effortlessly charming, and Owen Wilson is actually very good when he chooses not to do the Owen Wilson/Matthew McConaughey thing. I am intrigued to see where this goes, although I might be a little bit disappointed if the big bad doesn’t turn out to be Kang the Conquerer!

 


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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Brandon Routh

AutographsTo this day, I think Routh’s Superman is underrated, but he took everything that made him appealing as Clark Kent and rolled them even more effectively into his performance as The Atom!

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148

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

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Bloody Murder 2

index.jpgThere’s pros and cons to Bloody Murder 2… Pro, Tiffany Shepis is in this… Con The mask is different, and is in fact pretty uninspired compared to the hockey mask of the previous installment. It’s just one of those plain white face masks you see at the craft store – and it’s not even the one they feature on the cover of the videotape!

We open to what is pretty obviously a dream sequence, a young blonde woman in a misty woods – I’m pleased to see that they’ve retained that same look from the last film, at least this carries over. It’s the sister of Jason, the final victim from the previous film and she is dreaming of bringing her brother back. It’s a good enough set up and it brings us back to the camp. This time however, they aren’t getting ready to open the camp, but rather they’re closing Camp Placid Pines up for the winter. We don’t get a proper opening kill on this one – the dream doesn’t count – but they do mention a wood chipper… That’s Checkovs gun if I ever saw one!

This time, it’s Tiffany Shepis who suggests the game of bloody murder as the campers set around the bonfire. We get a little bit more of the lore concerning Trevor Moorehouse. It’s a good thing because he was woefully under developed in the previous film. Back in the woods, we get the same fake outs from the previous film – a camper with ketchup and another one in a fake plastic hockey mask.

Still, I can’t complain because it does lead to the first kill – and I gotta give these guys props… It’s a lot more graphic than what we saw before. At its heart, Bloody Murder couldn’t decide if it was a slasher or a mystery, but Bloody Murder 2 goes straight for the gore and does so before we even hit the 18 minute mark. They need to go hard on the scene as well, because it’s the films set piece. They’re still creative kills and blood splattered throughout the film, but none as flesh rippingly intense as this one. Best to go in knowing what to expect.

images4.jpgThe next morning, we are still following the structure set down by the first movie – that first kill isn’t missed because they believe he’s left the camp for the year. In the meantime, the local cook gives us an idea of just how pervasive the Trevor Moorehouse urban legend is around these parts. It gives us a better feel for it and makes it more real than what we had seen previously. They mix it with some of the Meta dialogue that scream had made so popular – a discussion of who gets killed first in horror movies, the black dude or the women, then top it off with a little nookie so we can be reassured about who is going to die next.

After the next kill, the skeptical sheriff shows up to address ingenue Tracy’s concerns that she saw Trevor Moorehouse. It doesn’t matter, with the body count piling up, she is increasingly suspicious and decides to take the remaining campers to go search the campsite. Tiffany by the way, isn’t having it and storms off. It’s early in her career though which means this is just a good excuse to get her naked.

The rest of the campers searching the campus don’t find anything, but Tiffany certainly does – a desiccated corpse with an arrow through its neck lies on her path and her screams bring down the cast. At least it’s enough to convince the sheriff there’s a killer amongst us.

index5.jpgWhile the sheriff searches, it’s time to hit the showers to clean off some of the blood, right? Of course, as we all know, the shower scene is like a dog whistle for a slasher and our killer shows right up, hiding in in a new stall to lure his victim out. There’s a clever twist here, and for all of my complaining about them changing from the hockey mask, the blood splatter really does look good on this plain white face – especially under the high contrast of the overhead fluorescent lights. Needless to say, the cops are not pleased.

The plot thickens when our ingenue discovers a video camera pointed at the dorms, potentially revealing the identity of the killer! This leads to the rest of one of the campers, and yet, surprise! The killer is still out there! (after all, we still have about a half hour left) meanwhile, it’s time for another spooky dream sequence.

The head counselor admits that the camp is over and offered to send the girls home, but they’ve got just a little bit more investigation to do – checking pagers, figuring alibis, and getting murdered in the woods. There is still more twists before the killer is revealed as images3.jpgthe third act ramps up.

It’s curious, the first time I watched this movie years ago, my initial thought was how much it was like an early Friday the 13th film… Now I’m struck by just how much this movie is like the first bloody murder film. They both have very similar structures, very similar beats – they’re not just checking off elements of the slasher film this time, they’re also checking off beats from the first movie, down to the final surprise appearance by Trevor Moorehouse. There is also a sort of backhanded attempt to create continuity – rejiggering the timeline and connecting the ingenue to Bloody Murder’s final victim.  It’s a blatant attempt to wedge this in line with the previous film – I’m not complaining, but it’s obvious that The continuity was invented after the bag rather than being planned out from the first film, and I’ve got to say it would be a lot more convincing if they were using the same mask in both movies. The radical changes a bit jarring. Still its interesting to see how they work it and it practically guarantee is that if you like the first one, you’ll like the second one, but there’s not much going on here that’s new or that pushes the franchise forward any. Bloody Murder 2 is a good, solid slasher that you can enjoy as part of the series or on its own.


Week of 5/31/21

Man, I watched a LOT of TV this week, and I’m not sure the reason for the increase. Just a lot of catching up I guess.

I almost feel like Superman was a filler episode this week. Then again, when Superman does the filler episode, they still do it right. We’re getting some linking material to bridge between the first part of the season and the next – getting to really know John Henry Iirons, and seeing some of lois’s neuroses in the bargain. We get a good perspective on what it’s like to be the unpowered part of this family – not just her, but for Jonathan as well. It’s good stuff and actually gives us a lot of Superman rather than just Clark. I’m actually really digging this.

No new episode of the flash this week, but I did manage to catch up with the new installment of the Food that made America. This week they are focusing on the invention of the chicken nugget. That I get, it’s actually kind of cool. I’m at just the right age to remember this being new and cool and an interesting innovation. On the other hand, the same episode demonstrated that the egg McMuffin was first introduced in 1976. That means I’m older than the Egg McMuffin… And I don’t think I’m OK with that.


My youngest daughter came to me and requested LEGO Masters. That’s right, the series has started up again, and this was actually a big family favorite for us last year. Will Arnett (better known as Lego Batman) is still chewing the scenery and we’ve got an interesting cast this year. There’s one couple that reminds the kids very much of their grandparents, and I think that’s going to be the family favorite this year. If you haven’t watched the series, it’s worth your while to look it up. I’m not a Lego guy, but I kind of wish I was. It’s the sort of interesting creation play that appeals to me, but requires a certain level of dedication and focus that I lack. It’s amazing to see what they create, and while I doubt that will talk much more about that in future columns, you can rest assured that we’re gonna be glued to the television for the next 15 weeks or so for this series.

But the real thing I wanted to talk about, was the Friends reunion. I know, I don’t necessarily look like a Friends guy… I’m really not. For me, must see TV was Seinfeld, and Friends with just kind of the thing that came on after it. Nevertheless, like everybody of a certain age, I  have long memories of the show and the reunion was genuinely interesting. I always had certain problems with the show, I was felt like Rachel treated Ross like garbage, and was pleased to discover in the reunion, that everybody agreed… They were on a break!

 I always understood the chemistry between the cast and how perfectly they were each seated for their roles, but I came away with a greater appreciation for your physical comedy and the relationships  developed… Brilliant to find out that there was a genuine attraction between Schwimer in Aniston… (who very much looks like she’s had a face lift around the eyes…) and how that translated on screen. It was fascinating to hear the casting decisions, but more than anything I came away with a greater appreciation for Matt Leblanc. Look, Joey was always one of my favorite characters, he’s what I wish I was instead of being a Chandler. But the thing is, watching this reunion, watching these interviews, of all the actors there he comes across as the most… earnest. He’s genuine. Everyone else is still themselves, but they’re their own Hollywood selves. Matt Leblanc on the other hand, seems to give no care. I appreciate the fact that the dude has let himself go gray, and let his gut come out, the man has no pretension and it’s so refreshing. He’s really on here, and just seems so happy to be back with everyone. Of all the cast here, he’s the one I’d like to sit down and just hang out with. I have so much more respect for him now… And quite frankly, I’m one of those guys who still kevtch about the fact that he got passed over in favor of Keanu Reeves for the Matrix.

One of the most insightful things though that I really heard tonight, was listening to Lisa Kudrow talk about how if there was ever be any sort of sequel, any sort of a continuation,… The thing is they left everybody in such a good place. We knew they were safe, we knew that their lives were going forward in a good place. To create any sort of continuation would necessitate unraveling all that… And who wants to do that? I saw the producers nodding in agreement. It was really their words spoken through her mouth, and I couldn’t be happier. There’s talk of a Night Court reboot these days, and I’m horrified. Night Court is my absolute favorite sitcom of all time, and I don’t wanna see it rebooted. It ended with everybody in good places (no mean trick since they only got word that they were cancelled a few weeks earlier and had to scramble to cobble together a half hearted series finale), and I don’t see where retreading that all the ground ever produces something worthwhile. I want to live with my good memories, and the people who created Friends are wise enough to do that. This is a good way to handle it. It’s nice to see everybody back together again, and in some ways it makes me nostalgic for a time that never really existed. I’m certain I haven’t seen every episode of friends. In fact, I probably haven’t seen most of them. I dropped off when I went to college, along with all my other television… And it was right around this time that the show really pissed me off with the way that Rachel is treating Ross anyhow. But it’s still an undeniable cultural phenomenon and this sort of behind the scenes, reunion, memoir storytelling is always exactly my kind of thing. Absolutely worth watching if you got access to HBO max. It’s probably even more worthwhile watching if one of your friends has access to HBO max and will let you come over and hang out for a couple hours.

 

 


147

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_147


Tracy vs Jason!

Costume

Despite being a realitvely simple costume (that is, no armor), my reinterpretation of the original and filmation Ghostbusters Ape as a modern Columbia Ghostbuster quickly became one of my favorite suits and ended up showing up a LOT.

Sadly, there’s no way this ends well…

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146

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_146I’m not sure why, but sketches of Superman vs. Doctor Doom have been popping up in my sketchbooks for decades.


Week of March 24th

I was looking back through old posts and noticed my initial reviews of Superman and Lois. There’s a lot of hesitancy there. A lot of trepidation. There’s also a definite hope that this will develop into something genuinely good. I’m pleased to say that it has. It really has.

We got a bombshell reveal this week that had jaws on the floor. Every friend I know who watched this absolutely lost their mind. The show really understands how to introduce characters from the mythology in unexpected ways. Moreover, the character development with Jon and Jordan continues to be strong. We see Jordan struggling with his powers, with the sensory overload that comes with being a kryptonian. This comes in to play later as the episodes MacGuffin, and allows him and his brother to team up to save their dad. It’s all great stuff, and I’m constantly surprised. It’s almost as if somebody at the CW sent out a memo asking if “we could make a show not suck for a change?” It’s turned into the best iteration of Superman on screen since the Justice League cartoon.

Speaking of extraordinary television that I was hesitant about… Did anybody catch High Fidelity on Hulu?

I should hate this show. I should absolutely be frustrated by it’s very existence. It’s all the diversity checkboxes; we’ve got race swapped characters, we’ve got a gender swap, we’ve got a gay person, all wrapped up in a remake that was completely unnecessary. This thing should be awful.

I am beside myself at how good it is.

Admittedly, a lot of this has to do with Zoe Kravitz. She takes this role and in many ways makes it her own. There’s still the inherent slacker vibe with a dash of nihilism that we got from John Cusack, but there’s something else going on here too. Cusack manages to make dumpy ironic clothes look trashy. Kravitz makes dumpy trashy clothes look cutting edge fashionable. It’s effortless. The show is messy, and the characters are complex. We can see some of the performances from the film there… But they really end up just being baselines. They end up almost as if they were first draft.

There’s a wisdom here in splitting up the Marie Disalle character into two different male love interests for Zoe‘s character of Rob. As if they are stripping different elements of her to create greater tension and a more complex intrigue. We hit all the beats, and it’s really fun to hear Zoe’s Robin speak some of the same lines as John Cusack‘s Rob… because they’re delivered so differently and yet it all feels perfect. I almost wish they diverge to more from the source material, because I feel like she’s an entirely get enough chance to shine.
High Fidelity is in fact, one of my top five all-time favorite films. This shockingly does it great justice in an alternate reality sort of way. I’d actually love to see a conversation at the bar between John Cusack’s Rob and Zoe Kravitz’s Rob. I think they’d hate each other.

There was  talk of a second season but it went nowhere. This infuriates some of my friends, but watching the series, I feel like they knew it was coming. They left it not quite open ended… They tied up all the loose strings but left a few pass open if they wanted to pick it back up. Nevertheless, they also managed a sense of conclusion and personality that is surprisingly satisfying. No mean trick that.

So after all of that, it’s going to sound weird that I don’t have a lot to say about the flash. It’s still solid, although I almost feel like this week, we ended their whole war of light storyline… And even the beast story, a bunch of villains breaking out from iron Heights, along with killer Frost, feels like it was wrapped up. Wrapped up clumsily at that… As if they were rushing to close the season. We’re only halfway through though, so why is this I feel so much like a season finale?

 


Roman

indexRoman starts with a guy welding at steel mill then coming home, lighting up a cigarette and watching for the girl next door at his window. It’s awkward and creepy with a very indie feel to it, setting the tone for what’s to come.

Roman doesn’t have a television, so his room is set up around that window – his chair and table facing it where he can stay here and watch for the girl next door come out. It’s unnerving and we see how awkward he is, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how they’re going to squeeze 90 minutes out of this.

He dreams of her, dancing nude and backlit against random sets of images – in working, eating, flowers and sparks.

The guys at work make fun of him for not having a television, so he draws one on the wall and pretends to watch it – the girls voice coming from it.

index2Everything changes when he meets a real woman, as he hangs out on the top of his apartment building roof drinking beer – he is surprisingly articulate for such an introvert, but awkward as it is, it’s a charming interaction and now she knows him. A co-worker gives him an old black-and-white TV and he talks the girl over for drinks. This could almost be a romance, at this point… Which is how you know everything is about to go wrong.

Now, he has a secret – and when the next girl comes knocking at his door, it becomes a problem, fueled by his awkwardness and inability to know how to act with other people. (and you know, for being such a social misfit, he sure does attract the cutest women).

indexThere is a lot to love here, from the chilli dogs at the cemetery, to the porn loving superintendent to the beers and holding hands with the severed palm. The movies strangely engrossing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Even being crazy, I really want things to work out for Roman – the closest thing I can compare it to is Adam Green’s Spiral, A similarly awkward head trip with a gawky dude and a cute girl and a dark twist.

Star Lucky McKey would go on to make some of modern horrors more disturbing thrillers such as May and The Woman. This is an interesting project to watch with him, especially seeing him as an actor instead of a director. It’s definitely a high recommend, with an ending I did not see coming, and makes this box set with the purchase price just for this film alone.


145

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

Every Wednesday and Friday

New_145