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Akron Canton Comic Con 2017

Conman

thingI found a bald spot at the worst time, too far from home to fix properly. I parked and grabbed my Thing pants from the back seat, ripping a rock from the cuff. The legs usually bunch up at the bottom and I hoped it wouldn’t be noticeable as I applied latex and affixed the rock to the bald cap. Ben Grimm tightened his belt and got ready to head into Akron Canton Comic Con.

As far as Jeff Harper shows go, this one in interesting. It’s a smaller show, but I dig that they have a snack bar at the venue – it provides a little more community and something to do. I’m grateful to Heroic Adventures comic shop for stepping up and sponsoring a costume contest (I’m going to miss these guy’s shop BTW, they’re going strictly online and con vending) as well as some cool trailers and movies running on the TV screens around the hall. All of this makes it feel like just a bit more than the swap meet atmosphere that a lot of Harper shows have.

Air conditioning doesn’t hurt either.

My buddy Vito mentioned that it looked like a nicer show this year than last – I’m not sure. Harper shows never really change that much, but I’ll admit I had a better time myself this year because I knew way more people. Sure, I see Eric and Sean all the time at cons when they set up their booths, but It was really cool running into Alli and hanging out with Jason and Mike. I’m on their side of town and it’s good to have friends in mideast Ohio.

I dove into the quarter bins. I was glad to actually see some good deals here – 5-for-a-dollar, fifty cent bins, quarter bins, three-for-a-dollar….and not just long boxes stuffed with cast off Image books from the 90’s either. I found Blackhawks, House of Mystery (the Elviria one!), as well as fairly modern Spider-man and Superman. Good stuff. I ended up bringing home about seventy books as well as a couple for the kids (maddie LOVES Art Baltazar’s Tiny Titans).

The costumes weren’t everywhere the way they are at some shows, but I really enjoyed what I did see.

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I’ve run into this giggling group of teenagers a couple times now. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Link won first place in the costume contest and absolutely deserved it. She totally brought the character to life.

19399534_1583613741683043_6486045329078687042_nThis kid was doing an original character he called the executioner – a vigilante who collects prizes from his vanquished foes. He ran around the con picking fights with all the cosplayers!

19437619_1583613745016376_8760513177737731222_nThat’s not leather. That’s actually foam! Seriously, the paint job on here was so good I couldn’t even tell.

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This one is another original character – it’s off a minecraft skin though it has an anime look to me. What was really cool was seeing her place in the costume contest! This original character got third!

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I’m going to have to do some edits on this – Batman, Wolverine and the Thing? Yes please!

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Speaking of Wolverine, I was so loving all the X-Men.

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Storm especially was just stunning.

It’s a short show and I was only there for about three hours, so I’m short on pictures, but don’t worry, we’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of Monster Bash….and there’s TONS of photos to come!


Chasing Ghosts

gamerindexWhile the King of Kong maybe the video game documentary with the most notoriety, Chasing Ghosts hosts is probably the best baseline. It covers of a variety of different gamers from the golden age of video games and kind of tries to the center itself around that the fateful day when Life magazine photographed the top gamers in the world to help illustrate lifestyle in the eighties. You probably know Billy, the Pac-Man champion from the King of Kong. He served as the villain in that film, although villain might be too strong of a term. He’s really just a bit of a jerk – with an ego the size of Texas. I don’t know much of this is a character or a persona that he just kind of put on for index2publicities sake, but it was certainly in full effect during this film. He is perhaps a bit more likeable here than in King of Kong, but the jerkiness still seeps through in every one of his interviews. We’re introduced to a number of people who  held records in the 80s, but the most important, in the most interesting is Walter Day – the man who is kind of considered the official scorekeeper and curator of the world record holders. Day is a fascinating character who will inevitably show up in any video game documentaries – He’s kind of like Stan Lee to the video game world.

It was his arcade, twin galaxies, that was considered the mecca of video games – the place for people index3came to break records.

The film is a love letter to the heyday of the Arcade, and speakes to the era all of us old retro gamers so love. It’s interesting to see where these video gaming superstars have found themselves – some have had successful careers, some have a tragic lives – there is no uniformity to it, there’s nothing in common here except for love of gaming. This is one of those documentaries that will remind you index4of those days, it will remind you of how much you used to love the arcades… But it doesn’t quite have the heart to make you fall back in love with those classic video games…(No, not this film – but we’ll get to some others down the road that do).

Chasing Ghosts is a high recommend – seriously, just go and buy this one already. If you’re a fan of documentaries, Or if you’re a fan of video games, this film is an absolute must watch and must have, documenting what has become an important part of our modern pop culture history.


Fatal Femmes

boxff0683904660022So I finished that Fear the Dead box set and thought “Hey! This was fun, do I have any others? “It turns out I still had this vampire looking themed collection that I got ages ago… I was missing Cinema Wasteland and in the mood for those kind of films, it looked like that kind of set. I’d only gotten through a bit though, and did not remember why. Oh boy, I remember now. The movies on the first disc don’t even merit individual discussion, we’re going to lump these all into one artificial.

The first movie, the bewitching, is porn. It’s soft core with a plot, in the misty Mundae tradition, but honestly, that’s it. It’s just porn, wrapped up in a framing sequence about a witch going to Vegas. To be frank, it doesn’t belong in this collection.

Bizarrely, the second film is the polar opposite.it is a Christian horror film – a vampire film actually, though we don’t really discover the vampires in till the end of the film .  mv5bmtiymty3ndawnv5bml5banbnxkftztcwodizmdmzmq-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_It’s not in your face with its message, it’s more about the setting – a Christian college, we see Bible studies at some point the main theme here is that wielding a cross against a vampire only works if you have faith in what that cross represents. That’s a philosophy I particularly like, and have enjoyed since I first read into it in Doctor Who. The main problem here is it feels like bunch of college students (at a Christian college at that) who happen to like horror movies, decided to get together and try make one… But really don’t understand filmmaking. All that this should have been was a fun movie kept within their own group friends, because it’s awful – and does nothing to enhance out of their reputations as actors and filmmakers nor does it really benefit the name of Christ out there…

The final movie on this disc is really the only one that feels like what I was looking for. It’s called catholic ghoulgirls – basically catholic school girls fight off a zombie catholic_ghoul_girlsuprising. It’s another one of those where it’s about getting together your friends and a movie camera. Very little in the way professional actors or anything like that, but at least it is self aware enough to not take itself seriously.

This one is in fact, feature length, rather than the short film that precedes it. It’s amusing as a basic trashy hack and slash, perhaps the best thing I can say about it. The movie actually ends with the message “thanks for watching a crappy movie! “Which should tell you just about everything you need to know about this film. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see on the festival circuit, but not anywhere else.

That’s it for disk one of this set, I don’t think I ever got to disc two before… And man I am hoping it’s going to be better than this one was.


First Time at Lake Effect

conwoman18881917_1561355863908831_7868683073269651622_nI mentioned yesterday that my Ock suit has grown so cumbersome that I required a handler. You may have seen Rhonny Reaper around the net at Dollar Bin Horror or haunting the depths of Cinema Wasteland, but Sunday was her very first time out to Lake Effect Comic Con – and I thought it would be interesting to get a fresh perspective one it. Here’s her review.

 

This year was my first year attending Lake Effect Comic Con and it was a blast. Matthew told me that in past years it had been held at a movie theater, but now the Holiday Inn in Mentor is its home. I’m kind of sad I missed it before because I think the theater sounds like a lovely spot for a con, but this was nice as well. It seemed smaller than I imagined. The show was not crowded, but we did get there late so I’m assuming 18920328_10211047601324769_6667099077153641652_nthe early birds had already dispersed.

I myself had a fantastic time! I went with Matthew acting as his “hands” so he could be Doc Ock. EVERYONE wanted pictures with Matt when we first got there, so it took us a minute to get into the show room. I’ve always loved horror but just recently started working on a horror comic selection, so this was the first time I knew what I was looking for…and I found it in abundance! So many wonderful golden age horror comics for $1 and $2 each! I also found a copy of My Friend Dahmer at the Comics Are Go table, thanks to Matt’s keen eyes. Eric over there gave me the sweetest deal on the book!

Towards the end, they held a costume contest for all the cosplayers, and everyone looked fantastic!!! From the little Wonder Woman to the Sailor 17554224_1075542492576460_7746665918391120333_nMoon, everyone came out in style! I myself came as Lydia Deetz (from Beetlejuice), which I thought was more on the simple side of cosplay…which is why I was shocked the judges picked me for female adult! I’m still in shock…but happy as ever about the killer Deadpool mask I received as the prize (I’m more into horror comics than classic super heroes…but I mean who doesn’t LOVE some Deadpool?)! They also gave a special prize to the Yip Yip alien costume from Sesame Street (which really gave Matt a run for his money) because it was GLORIUOS! You just had to! All in all, this con was a blast and gave me my best haul ever! Can’t wait till the next one!!!

 

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Lake Effect Comic Con 2017

ConmanI dashed forward , camera at the ready when I saw the 17554224_1075542492576460_7746665918391120333_nshaggy red “yep, yep” Muppet walking down the aisle. My Doc Ock suit hindered me a bit, but I met him just as we arrived at the corner of the room.
“I’d love to get a photo with you,” I exclaimed.
Through the black mesh of the mouth I saw him smile.
“You did. Remember back a few years ago? I was Doctor Hugo Strange!”
I think I may have just come full circle.

While I’ve been dressing up since long before I ever heard the word “cosplay” (I was an actual clown before I hit Jr. High. Star Trek conventions at 12. Haunted houses in high school. Theater through it all), you could probably trace the 100_1448beginnings of my modern cosplay career to Lake Effect Comic Con around 2012. It was the first time I ever pulled out my Doc Ock costume (one of the first of my more complicated suits) – very different at the time too! It was the first time I entered a costume contest. It was very much my entry into the scene. It was cool to return to the show where it all started (albeit in a different location) and discover that the suit was still memorable, and to show how much it has grown.

It’s grown so much that I now require a handler to help me with doors and carrying things and stuff! I picked up my friend Rhonda, who agreed to be my hands for the day. She appeared dressed as Lydia from Beetlejuice (Because if I can’t bring my little Lydia, I 18839016_1075542529243123_1290475328772481046_nmight as well take a full grown one with me!) and we headed off to Mentor.

I was running late so I missed the cosplay panel I wanted to hit, but we still managed to get in before one. There was some concern about me making it through the dealers room, but we needn’t have worried. The aisles were more than big enough for me and the place wasn’t crowded. I’m curious if the show grew from last year. We arrived about halfway through so that may have accounted for the lighter attendance.

I have to admit, now in the second year at the hotel, the layout has really grown on me. It feels like Russian nesting dolls, with one dealers room leading to another, adding to that 18892929_887338388072245_1893944626838673547_ndelightful feeling of exploration that I love at some of the more obscure bazaars in Cleveland. Lake effect is an excellent representation of the dealers and shops around the Cleveland area with every comic and toy imaginable littering the rows and corners.  Around a corner I found more tables set up in a narrow hallway. I don’t know if this corner was set up last year or not…the theater Lake Effect used to set up at was selling movie posters next to a table set up for the R2 builders and Heroes United, both welcome additions to the show. The deals are still waning, but I was pleased to spot a single fifty cent bin to plunder, and managed to walk away with a stack of Civil War era Spidey as well as a nice chunk of Groot and Rocket Racoon  solo series, but the real find of the day was Marvel’s Zombie Christmas Carol in the $5.00 Hardcover bin. I’ve never seen this before, but I couldn’t leave without it – especially at that price.

I saw Lake Effect dipping it’s toe into the celeb waters, bring in a18835541_1561355777242173_7918076935831398497_n zombie from the Walking Dead (I don’t know if I forgot, or just didn’t know- either way, I didn’t have my poster) as well as a starlet who had done a couple movies and been a playmate. It’s a direction I hope they veer away from. It didn’t really add much to the show other than the novelty of a few unfamiliar faces…and I get it. After eight years, you have to try and shake things up a bit.

The costume contest seemed a little smaller this year as well, but those that did arrive were still excellent. I was enchanted by the Terminator girl (all the robot parts, painted on – she looked like she stepped right off an 80’s VHS cover) and the little Starlord. More and more I see video game characters, and I feel so bad that I don’t recognize them! But there’s another trend I see popping up – it’s an interesting 2-d style, where your costume and features appear sketched in. It’s a really cool look and the more I see it, the more I’m enchanted by it. I dig the open area in the lobby where they hold this contest – it 18839216_1561356817242069_8450739580311332965_nfeels more intimate, more personal than the theater always did. I feel like I can better hobnob and chat with the other contestants…and that’s really the point of it all for me. I had to move around a bit to be able to see all of the people parading by and nothing made me happier than when the Yep Yep Muppet received a special prize.

I still really like Lake Effect. My only hope is that it doesn’t stagnate in this location – it grew every year at the theater untill the seams of the walls were bursting trying to contain the throngs of people. That seems to have leveled off since the move and that worries me. I dig this con and really hope it’ll be around for years to come.

 

 


Joysticks

directorsgjoysticks I should like this film way more than I do. It’s a video game film, and as a retro Gamer, I really love old video game films. In a lot of ways it really does capture a lot of the arcade feel, and we see tons of classic games – it gives you a great concert video game vibe.

The thing is, this film is less like the wizard, and more like Porkies. It’s definitely a raunchy teen sex comedy, set against the backdrop of an arcade. The thing is, for me the arcade itself is way more interesting but it really is very little more than background noise – the setting itself and the motivation, but not the story.  The premise is simple, a parent thinks that video games are destroying you and is trying to shut down the local arcade – they even invoke the old “there is trouble in River city, and that starts with T ends that rhymes with P which stands for pool”then they take on “or in this case, it rhymes with V which stands for video games “.

The characters are fine, and the pacing is lighthearted – though it’s a lot more fun, if you realize that you are going into a kind of trashy sexy comedy rather than just a video game narrative. The sets are pretty incredible though, much like what I said about the film Arcade, man do I wish I had a video game arcade like this when I was growing up. I have seen they existed somewhere, but not in the Cleveland area, we had little hole in the wall in the malls and local bowling alleys, but that was about it. This one is beautiful, with exciting lighting, snack bars and a bustling throng of activity. Graydon Clark captures the feel of the youth culture from that period excellently and it’s very rare that he stretches the suspension of disbelief here. It’s the camaraderie amongst our heroes that is infectious and genuinely makes you want to root for them.

Despite being maybe just a touch rowdier then the kind of comedies I prefer, this is still definitely a buy. It’s entertaining and the video gamer in me absolutely cannot resist seeing these things played and loved as they are here on the big screen.


Slipstream

boxftdslipstream894I saved this one for last, because I knew it was going to be difficult. I’ve had a copy of slipstream for a good long while – it’s on VHS and I’m pleased to be able to replace that videotape with this DVD collection. I tried to watch this movie a couple times – I was initially excited about it, I remember reading about it in Starlog. Still, every attempt that I’ve made to sit through it has been unsuccessful. The first two acts are basically Waterworld with sailplanes instead of boats. I think somebody had a session with these aircraft and decided they had to make a film surrounding it. It’s late 80s Mark Hamill – which gives you an idea of the quality this sci-fi film has. Because we start the film with Hamill, I assume he’s the hero of the piece, not so.  He gets more and more unlikable throughout the film and by the end he is playing the character as a little too hard edge, it’s a bad fit for him.

The real hero of the film is Bill Paxton’s character. Sometimes his “Aw shucks” charm routine works. In here it comes up as mostly annoying. It’s all combining the wrong elements and gets dated quick – it’s 1989 and it really looks like it. The film can’t decide if it’s 80s or 90s – indeed, especially when we get into the third act it certainly attempts to turn into Blade Runner.

They say no one ever intentionally makes a bad film, and usually you don’t realize you’re making a bad film what are you doing it. That’s especially true here as we have a future lawman chasing after the hunter trying to grab the renegade prisoner he has in his custody. Along the way we encounter a hidden society living down in the valleys and clefts of the mountains. It’s a little confusing, I thought we had fewer people alive than this… particularly when we get to this last group – and elegant community with a very upper-crust high society look to their clothing and environment. It’s remarkably out of place. Then out of place seems to be the order of the day. I mean, I really don’t know what this film is doing in this collection of “fear the dead” films. I suppose the post apocalyptic theme lands it here… we’ve got a lot of those kind of films in this collection, but this one is especially sci-fi and not at all horror. It’s possibly the highest profile movie in the collection, but it may well be the worst as well. I’m glad I finally managed to force myself to sit through it – albeit on fast forward, but really, I always suspected that I wouldn’t dig this film and I’ve been proven right. It may get another chance for me… I really want to like this but so far I’ve just not been able to.

This one is an avoid, even if you see it in the dollar bin, the only reason that I’m holding onto it is because it is part of an otherwise really fun collection of films.


Without Warning

directorsgmv5bmwjmnzq0mtmtzthjmy00yjflltg2ntktnwrlmjcxotu5ywe1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtqxnzmzndi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_When asked to describe the film “predator “, Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the reporter “have you seen this little film called “without warning”? “. Graydon Clark himself frequently compares Predator to his film Without Warning, so it was only natural that this is what I was expecting. Not necessarily the production value, but an isolated group of people being systematically stalked by an alien hunter? Yeah that’s really what I was looking for here.

Comparing this to predator does the film a disservice because it’s a very different kind of story then what predator was– not a worse story, but a different one. Beyond the whole alien stalking humans, there’s not a whole lot in common here and honestly – aliens have been stalking humans in films since the dawn of cinema. In this case there is a small town setting and something fiendish is going on – something is indeed stalking the citizens but nobody knows quite what it is. It could be some think paranormal, it could be something alien, or it might simply be a deranged lunatic on the loose. No one is really sure. Indeed, it does turn out to be an alien though despite being featured on the poster art and box covers, we only see our beastie for a couple minutes at the very end of the third act – good thing too, because it’s nothing more than a tall guy and a mask. It’s a Rick Baker mask to be fair, but still the look of the alien is very much a traditional grey… Perhaps a little bit inspired by Bealock from Star Trek or one of the many bubbleheaded monsters that paraded through episodes of the outer limits. Clark wisely kept him in the dark, and there are plenty of ridges for the light to play around – not just airbrushed streaks but detail that someone with some experience can light effectively to create menace.

The real alien here, the star of the movie, are the parasitic a little ninja throwing stars that the alien sends after people. In the original script Clark noted that the alien was killing people with a bow and arrow, and he wanted something a little bit more otherworldly. These things are visually striking, stunning and gross – and absolutely scary. There is elements of the facehugger (from Aliens) to them, elements of a mutant starfish, with horrible pulsing green blood and the ability to inflict massive pain and yet still can send you into a zombielike state. It’s a brilliant innovation and the real monster at the film.

I genuinely enjoy without warning, and on rewatch I think I’ll like better now that I know exactly what it is I’m going into. It’s definitely a buy, but you may find that difficult – it’s only very recently found its way onto DVD in one form or another, with the rights being weirdly tied up over the years. Still, absolutely grab this if you find it, you won’t be sorry.


Night train to terror

boxftdnight_train_to_terror_poster_01For some strange reason, I can’t remember anything about this film except the band. I know I’ve seen it in the past, but honestly as I looked at it and was kind of drawing a blank so I thought I’d throw it in for a viewing while I was watching the rest of this collection. I still can’t believe that I just don’t remember any of this! It’s an anthology film with three stories told against the backdrop of a train ride to heaven or hell – we’re not exactly told which. God and the Devil are examining the lives of certain people and bargaining for who is going to go where.

During these framing sequences, we also get treated to an extremely 80s rock band playing the same song over and over again. It’s not aparticularly good or bad tune but it does get stuck in your head.

There’s stories about the devil trying to recruit as well as tales of mad scientists and doctors of using patients… I can’t believe I forgot Richard Moll is in this! He plays two different characters into different segments! I love Richard, I especially love his exploitation and horror work – and I told him that myself by the way. Of all the people from my favorite Sitcom;Night Court, he has by far had the most interesting career. Night Train to Terror is a fun film, it’s very much a product of its time and also very much a direct to video kind of film. The back and forth between God and the Devil – I can’t argue the conceit, but it does come off as cheesy. So does the band. The vignettes are utterly forgettable, indeed, Not only have I forgotten them once… But even as I attempt to write this article the stories are a little fuzzy. It’s a nice quick watch though – and really good fodder for horror hosts (in fact that maybe where I’ve seen this previously), More than anything and I can say for this, is that it is a fun film – and definately a recommend. I’d even go as far as to say this one is a buy. You can usually find it cheap, and considering I can never remember these plots – it’s a great value because I feel like you’re seeing a new movie every time!


The farm

boxftdthe-farm-survive-the-dead-dvd-cover-fsk-18For a low-budget micro production, the farm sure does feel like it’s got some good production values. he film is shot well and the actors are reasonably competent done the problem with the bar, is that it takes itself way too seriously. This wants to be a serious interpersonal drama with musings on mortality and purpose – but it doesn’t earn it.

Moreover it’s a zombie film that forgotten that it’s a zombie film. The monsters are somewhat alluded to – that is, we know there is a thread out there, but we don’t actually see the zombies until we are well past the half way point here.

This is the story of two brothers that have survived a zombie apocalypse on the family farm, when a girl stumbles into their life searching for her sister – a sister that they had just killed moments before she turned up. The story is actually much simpler than that, it’s looking at the wounded younger brother, the protective over older brother, and let’s go get some supplies so that we can actually shoehorn some zombies into this story. I think this film could work better if they attempted to have fun with that. If they injected some core humour… But the film insists on itself, and this makes it come off as way too heavy handed. It wants to be an art film instead of a zombie film, but in doing so it succeeds it being neither.

The greatest care is given to the brothers make up, which is an interesting scarring along with the missing arm – it’s cleverly pulled off, though it’s fairly simple see how it’s been done and the greasepaint doesn’t always match his skin tone. The zombies on the other hand are far simpler – shambling ragged clothes with blood poured over them. I’m a little less impressed by this. In some ways it almost feels like someone wanted to make the walking dead but didn’t want to put in the effort. Really that’s the perfect way to sum up this film – it’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see at a film festival with dozens of other movies, or in a film class where the student is just a little bit too impressed with himself. This one is definitely a pass.