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Hall of Fame City Comic Con 2018

Conman36627632_1946127048959228_7218901840509796352_n41916543_2116971871680558_6680351282764447744_n“Dude, looks like Metal arms are in this year!”

I looked in the direction the voice was coming from. A Winter Soldier was pointing to the prosthetic Borg arm being passed back to me by security after their examination. I slid it on and nodded.

“Sure are,” I replied. “Just look over there!”

I pointed to the Sinister Six group. Doc Ock and his four static robot arms turned and smiled at us.

There were scheduling conflicts last year and I missed HOF, though I heard glowing reports from friends that attended and I really dug the cons first year (when it was MY turn to be Doc Ock!). It’s good to see that the show is growing at a steady, healthy pace. not too fast, not to slow. They’ve figured out a better way to maximize thier space too. It wasn’t shoulder to shoulder the way it had been in 2016.

41952239_10156935707883754_1110828102096781312_nI decided to try and hit the line for Kevin Eastman first. I’m not really a Turtles fan, but I respect the property and love the success Eastman became because of it. I found my friend Eric wearing his Jurassic Park outfit and waiting in Eastman’s line so I swung by to say hello. He expressed shock at me not being in costume yet and tried his best to convince me to do the costume contest. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to hang out and the contest was still five hours away. Still, waiting in this line would kill a good chunk of that time. It was a prodigious queue, curving down the end of the hall and I tried to find the end of it, only to be stopped by security. I was informed that the line had been capped at 150 people ( which they hit in the first 45 minuets of the show) and that I’d have to come back in three hours for the second signing. This situation was just a little too reminiscent of the confusion and poorly run ticketing system for George Perez the last time I was out here, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. The convention schedule, released about a week in advance, had shown two specific “Signing” times – a weird thing for a comic convention like this (I see it regularly at anime cons, but not at comic cons), and It had spooked me. I decided to head elsewhere. After all, I wasn’t REALLY here for Eastman. I was here for Peter David.

41721301_2114064061971339_5560187360580206592_nBack in the 90’s, David was instrumental in shaping the the direction of DC’s Star Trek line, having taken it over from Mike W. Barr. This is my favorite era of Star trek and those comics have always been special to me. From there I migrated over to his novels  – Rock and a Hard Place is my favorite TNG book ever. I took my place in line right behind one of the guys I knew from Panels:The Comic Club.

Approaching his table I pulled out a gift I had brought him. He picked up the furry blob and looked at it.

“What is it?”

“A Borg Tribble.”

He rolled his eyes in disbelief.

“I don’t know how I’m getting this through airport security…’what’s that in your bag sir?’ ‘um, it’s an assimilated tribble….?’ ‘OUT OF THE LINE!’ ”

He confirmed my suspicions about the Stone character in Rock being a prototype for the hero of his New Frontier books, though he has no idea what my have happened to him afterwards. I followed him to his panel and was fascinated by his stories of how he got into comics, and the way he kind of drifted into different assignments. It’s been an interesting kind of career.

I popped out of the panel a little early to go get into costume. I had decided to do the first half of the show in normal clothes since it was so hot and my Borg suit wouldn’t fare well 41951394_2117444428299969_3820951851692457984_nin the end of summer weather. I applied the makeup in my car (God bless the guys at Rubber City Cosplay by the way. They offered to let me suit up and do my makeup in by their booth where they had a station set up. I had to decline because I was using latex and needed my car heater vents to dry it). I was trying something new this time – instead of just drawing sick green veins on my face I built them up using cotton and latex, THEN drew the green lines on the swollen veins. It ended up being the first time I found myself truly happy with this look.

Because I resent being charged for parking, my car was half a block away, parked in front of a house. Suddenly the door burst open and a slightly scary looking man stormed out staring at me.

“DUDE! I just had to run out here to see this,” he exclaimed in amazement. “That thing is off the HOOK! What’s going on?”

I explained about the con around the corner and waved goodbye. A car load of kids drove by headed to the Wendy’s across the street from the Canton Civic Center. They yelled at me from their windows and asked what my character was called. I told them I was a Borg and waved, trying hard not to squint. The heat was making the white greasepaint run down into my eye. I crossed the street with one good eye, and fished the 41955063_2115589821818763_1599708342316433408_nnapkin out of the hidden compartment in my belt, then cleared the tears and makeup from under my cowl. Outside the doors was parked the greatest vespa scooter EVER, painted red with decals to look like the bike from Akira.  I reapplied some white as I wandered back in, thankful for the cooler temperatures in the convention hall.

This time out, I made one more upgrade to the Borg suit. I added a borg tribble of my own (with more lights on it that the one I presented to David) who would sit on my shoulder (magnets in the tribble and my costume). One of my favorite moments was a family coming up to me and asking for a picture. The little daughter, riding on mommy’s hip wasn’t too sure about my robot in corpse paint. I plucked the furry little ball off my shoulder and asked if she’d like to hold the Tribble. “He’s soft,” I explained as she  snatched him from my hand. The camera got a big smile from her.

42044592_2115589671818778_8881238807525982208_nAcross the hall, I spotted my friends Rocky (also dressed as a Winter Soldier, but also carrying around Rocket Raccoon) and Chris (Appropriately garbed as Casey Jones), who had just arrived. I let them know about the early lineup for Kevin Eastman and we headed that way.  It wasn’t quite two yet, but the line was already the length of the civic center. As we stepped into the queue, I saw Ben from comic club rushing from the Eastman’s presentation and  heading down the hall. I waved him over.

“Man, this is crazy,” he exclaimed. “It never occurred to me that people would actually duck out of Kevin Eastman’s panel to start lining up early!”

41885480_2115589788485433_6118727623834075136_nI introduced Ben to Chris and Rocky, and explained comic club. We all made a little nest in line. The guys chatted about new costumes, Infinity War and Turtles while Rocket and my Tribble got into fights.

“I was heading into the parking lot,” Rocky told us. “Rocket Raccoon was in my passenger seat. The guy at the gate took my money then looked in and said ‘You guys have a good time’. So apparently Rocket counts as one of the guys…”

To quote A Christmas Story; “The line stretched all the way to Terre Haute, and I was at the end of it”.  Still, it was good to be with friends and we eventually got our stuff signed. I noted the “No posed photos” sign and slipped Rocky (ahead of me in line) my camera to 41818782_2115589558485456_4720367039116476416_nsnap shots of me meeting Eastman. Kevin drew “Casey Jones Doodles” all over Chris’s hockey stick, and loved my outfit as my borg arm handed over my comic using it’s claw. His assistant asked for a photo.

“There’s a LOT of cosplay at this show isn’t there?” Eastman asked. I acknowledged that Ohio has a lot of interesting costume culture.

There was just enough time after we got out of the endless Eastman line for me to plow through the 3-for-$1 bins, scoring about thirty books as well as a handfull of small pokemon for me to bring home to the kids. My backpack sagged on my shoulders, heavy with comic books as I headed backstage for the costume contest.

“Matthew?”

My name rang out. I was late and Spider-Man was looking for me.

“Coming! Coming! I’m here!” I panted as I shuffled off my backpack and stowed it under a backstage chair. Spidey pointed to the second line.

41771699_10156935452953754_2660371922180636672_n“Okay! Line up right here.”

I walked over and pointed at the floor.

“Right here? Here. Right THIS spot?”

Spidey gave me an exasperated smile and swatted me away. Looking around I found myself next to my friend Jason, who was ready with a quick change Clark Kent/ Superman costume (much like the one Maddie wore to NEO). Seems like I had friends to keep me company in every line I found myself in. Cassie and Vito were too far away for me to reach, but Dwayne snuck up behind me and greeted me – I hadn’t even recognized him in costume!

HOF is a good con, and consistently brings in top talent like no other convention its size. If they could just figure out how to handle the crowds for those guests, it would be a near perfect show. That and ditch the charge for the convention hall parking lot (Akron comic con, and Geekfest both managed to provide free parking, Heck, CONCoction MOVED so they could). Still, it’s good vendors, exceptional guest and good times with friends. Barring further schedule conflicts I expect to be back next year!

 

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John dies at the end

directorsd9781250035950_p0_v2_s260x420It’s hard for me to really look at John dies at the end objectively… The film in of itself is a nice little bit of low-budget creepy horror… The thing​ is, the source material happens to be one of the best horror novels that I’ve read in ages, with way too much material to put on screen – indeed they only managed to get about a quarter of it if that. The book greatly expands on A number of the characters, ones that play key roles that are almost forgotten in this movie, and our main characters are more deeply explored as well. There are horrors beyond description in the book, although the film certainly does its best to translate these things literally – the monster made out of meat, The flying mustache, a lot of the fiendish thingies that go bump in the night, it’s a valiant effort, even when it falls short.

Like I said it’s a good film, but hard for me to look at without comparing it to the book… and I wonder if I’d have the same interest in this movie without the book – indeed I wonder if I would even found it without the book. It’s a tricky balance.

Still, in the end I enjoy this tale of otherworldly forces trying to reach our universe and John-Dies-At-The-Endbeing thwarted by a couple of losers. If nothing else it really showcases the weird taste that Coscarelli has –  and that’s a good thing, I enjoy seeing his tastes lineup so well with mine and I really like to see a little bit more from the subject. This needs a sequel, and one that expands more on the first book (There’s still so much there that could recovered before hitting the second or third ones!).

 


Fall Zombie Walk at the Five O’Clock

41334437_2106309569413455_8145805982564352000_nSlowly the metal tentacle slid around Rhonda, getting in position to take a candid photo. She looked over at the click, startled, then paused.
“I know that arm!”
She whirled around and hugged the zombie Doctor Octopus behind her…and that’s how this fall’s zombie walk started out for me.

The Five O’Clock is kind of home base for Cleveland Zombie Walks. Familiar faces and a neighborhood that still likes poking thier heads out the windows to see the zombies shamble.

This was a special walk for me because the wife came along to help us raise money and food  for the Second Harvest food bank. Ryan was back in his old Sgt. Cunningham fatigues and in the back of the bar, performers from the Legion of Terror (of the local 41279363_2106309686080110_4882021671038353408_nhuanted house at Bloodview) ate fire and blew streams of fluid to create huge fireballs.

We got started about twenty minuets late. In an open field the little clowns and ghouls chased a drone filming the whole thing. Undead Doc Ock menaced Lakewood and the bloody day wore on.

These days, I’m seeing fewer zombie walks around the area, but as long as the dead haunt Lakewood, I’ll be joining them.

 

 


King of the Zombies

Movie bannerhqdefault (2)Ever since I first saw clips of it in Zacherly’s Horrible Horror, King of the Zombies has been one of my favorite zombie films. And the heart and soul of this movie is Mantan Moreland.

These days his kind of performance in both this and the follow-up Revenge of the zombies is considered racially charged, politically incorrect. But I never saw a racial stereotype here. I always saw a comedian, a goof whose charm and zany antics rivaled the talents of Lou Costello. His wit, his bulging eyes and frantic energy never failed to make me laugh.

It’s more than that, in a lot of ways, he felt like the everyman to me. As the postman in mantan-morelandSpider Baby, I certainly relate to him, the ordinary guy who’s just doing his job, and in King of the zombies he’s not the statuesque heroic dude like our stars. no indeed, he’s the poor slob who actually does the leg work. He uncovers the plot and his fearful reaction to the
zombies is perhaps the most reasonable of them all!

King of the Zombies is a regular selection here at Argo city, and it’s not unusual to see Spider baby or Revenge on my TV as well. Check these out the next time they come up on something like Svengoolie and let Mantan Moreland make you laugh all over again.

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They Live

CostumeThe first time I tried They Live aliens, I didn’t have the bubble eyes. It just didn’t work. I came much closer on my second pass, except the eyes are still off….too big this time. They were also really hard to see out of, but it was close enough to be recognizable. part of me wants to revisit this one more time and get it right, another part feels like it’s too much trouble. We’ll see what happens.

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The Predator

Movie bannerThe_Predator_official_posterRight off the bat, let’s get something straight – The Predator is not a remake. It’s not a re-imagining, It’s really only a reboot in that they are hoping to reignite the franchise with this movie. This is a sequel, and a proper one at that… there were references to previous films, and we definitely know where this movie stands in the continuity. We get homages although they’re not beating you over the head with them and yes somebody does utter the words “Get to the choppas!”

But it’s definitely a sequel another remake.They get points for that. Then they lose those points for casting Olivia Munn as a scientist.

They get docked couple more for Jake Busey the same role. Seriously, while Brent Spiner could pull off the slightly cracked scientist in government isolation, Busey just doesn’t have the chops for it. He’s too goofy in a Shaggy and Scooby kind of way. gallery-1536332655-olivia-munn-the-predator-casey-bracketThen there is Olivia Munn. Munn doesn’t smile once in this entire film, and she doesn’t know how to run – heroically or otherwise (don’t they have some sort of superhero school training in the X-Men films?). Seriously, those dainty little steps she’s taking are doing nothing for her performance. She spends the entire film with a shocked and confused look on her face – I can’t blame her for that one though, because I’m pretty confused as to why she was cast here. She lacks their gravitas for this sort of role, I just don’t buy her as an intellectual (was Kate McKinnon not available?) Moreover, she just isn’t an action hero. Yet they’re not exploiting her looks with a clingy T-shirt or something equally crass, so quite frankly I don’t understand what she’s doing here.

new-photos-predator-halloween-lego-spider-manIt’s not a bad film though – Boyd Holbrook does his best as the hero of the piece. Arnold has big shoes to fill, and they’re doing their best. I’m actually quite surprised at how much I enjoy Keegan Michael Key in this as well. His comic relief could very easily tip over into the annoying – and I’m betting a lot of people are still going to call it that- but I actually found him funny and doing some of his better work here. I wasn’t alone either, I could frequently hear laughter in the theater I was at whenever he’d be delivering outrageously offensive humor at the worst possible times.

The Predator wants to be Independence Day without the buildings exploding. It wants that sort of underground government investigation and involvement attempting as it does, a great scope in its storytelling. It’s particularly apparent in the first act. Things narrow down and get personal on the second act as our hero’s autistic son gets involved in the danger, and then we’re back to the big picture by the third act with the government tracking down the monster. I get the impression that there may have been a bigger story originally, and that it was cut down in certain places (more likely for pace rather than cost. This movie looks expensive). Indeed, I’m not sure if that was to the films benefit or detriment.

Gore hounds will be happy, this is easily the most violent predator film I’ve ever seen – and let’s face it, this franchise set the bar pretty high. Still, it’s usually stabbing or  lasers through the chest in these movies. With this installment we get tons of severed bodies, blood and organs flying all over the place – and far more intestines than I’m used to seeing, even with my film watching habits. I’m digging the way they push the mythology as well. We get a little bit more insight as to why the Predators take the sort of trophies they do, and when the Predator brings out his hunting dogs, it’s actually a great moment. The creature designs are beautiful and they’re a perfectly fitting addition to the predator mythos. It’s a shame they have to be completely CGI, gallery-1536145644-the-predatorbecause they do have that FX fake sheen sometimes. Indeed, the ships here have the same problem, though this film probably gives us the best look at the Predator vessels that we’ve ever seen. Someone to put some thought into this, both with the shapes that they have integrated into the hull as well as the brushed metal coloring that shows up all over them.

Overall, it’s a solid film – and if it were the first movie in the franchise, I think would be guaranteed a sequel. Because it’s part of a legacy series, it’s judged a lot more harshly,  but it’s definitely a Predator film rather than a derivative knock off. In fact it’s definitely the sort of film that couldn’t be anything else, and I’m looking forward to any follow-ups Fox has in store for us.

The Predator opens in Theaters September 14.


Black Cobra 4?

franchisebannerRight from the start you can tell Black Cobra four is going to be bad. It’s weird and grainy and the sound feels awkward– the music sounds like it comes from a 1940s film, despite being filmed in 1991.

I use the term “filmed” loosely by the way, considering this film was patched together from outtakes and redubbed clips from previous films with a little bit of new footage added. Williamson himself didn’t even know this movie existed until somebody confronted him about it at the grocery store – he didn’t shoot any new footage for it.

His Detective Malone has always been a bit of a one note character as it is – very standard action cop but in this overdubbed patch job, he feels even less developed than ever before. Because of all the useded footage, he ends up not having a lot of dialogue – and those long stretches of silence, add a far more brooding feel to him. It’s out of character, and we end up completely losing all of the charm that makes Fred Williamson a star. Williamson’s Detective Malone ends up entering a scene from the side, then vanishing for long stretches – almost disconnected… Like Bella Lugosi in plan nine from outer space.

The villain and the gang from the first movie are back (though now, there Islamic terrorists screaming “Allah is with us! “) kidnapping a brilliant computer programmer help them make better weapons. I suppose I should be relieved to see the return of the studded black leather, but really I’ve been enjoying the sequels a lot more than the original and this feels like a step backwards – a desperate step. At least they’re not so rapey in this film. The dialogue is clumsy, the music is canned, The dubbing is awful, and everything here is just a misfire.

It’s not just the dialogue, it’s the delivery – Fred’s side kick in this movie never shares the screen with him – although he does telephone him at one point. We only have the sidekick’s  side of the telephone conversation because of course, Fred didn’t actually film this movie. We have the detective wander in the room again when he hears a blender or a TV go on, and the dramatic acceptance when the witness offers him a milkshake. It makes for a rough viewing. By the halfway point, I was ready to give up but stuck around because sometimes the third act will make all the difference.

It didn’t, but at least it was least talky so I could use the fast foreword more often. We have our  rescue missions that thematically should be run by the hero… But again, Fred Williamson isn’t an actually here! at 12 minutes to go, I was just watching the clock. Even for mediocre low-budget action series like this, I wanted better for it.

Shockingly, it may just be that this entry didn’t completely kill the series! IMDb reports a new production, the Black Cobra Returns in preproduction right now! We’ll see if this actually happens, I think I might just be down for that!


Vampire

Costume

It’s a new take on my general vampire look..more pointed teeth. It was a big hit at Horrorhound last year!


Aliens Purge

bestAlienspurgeThe aliens comics from dark horse are a mixed bag​. The franchise has bend the bread and butter of the company, along with other licenses like predator and Star Wars. They’ve been putting these out for a long time. Some are extremely good – particularly the initial offerings, while other titles don’t quite hit the mark.

Purge is a nice solid one shot, successfully dropping us in the middle of the familiar aliens universe, while giving us a nice quick episodic short story.

It’s the story of a leper colony run by the company, used as a breeding ground for the aliens. The focus here however, is on the synthetic – a new type of android far superior to the Bishop and ash models we seen in the previous movies – you’re going to have to pick up this issue in the back issue long boxes though if you wanna find out why.

It’s a real coincidence that this book was up for review on here. I mentioned recently I got to talk with the art team on this book and get my copy signed. Ande looked at that first page with the girl sleeping amoungst the aliens and sighed “I just love this shot.”

It’s not rare, and should be an average price if you can locate it – ask your local comic book shop for it and see if you can lay your hands on it – it’s absolutely worth it in a perfect way to try out the world of aliens comics.

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Phantasm three

directorsdPhantasm_3I’m not ashamed to say that this is my least favorite of the series. It’s hard to say if it’s the weakest entry or not, some people really hate the fourth entry, though I don’t know that that’s fair.

Phantasm three feels like it’s strays little bit too far from the formula… Ironic since that’s exactly what people say about the second movie! I may also be a little bit biased​. I discovered Phantasm three sitting on the shelf of my local video store about six months to a year after it had been released and I nearly lost my mind. I was so excited to finally see this – not knowing that it had even existed. After watching it, it felt like a let down. But you know what, it’s that era of film as well. A lot of the sequels from 1993 through 1998 also felt very disappointing and horror itself was in place I really didn’t like.

phantasm3-_mikemeetsblacksphere.jpgThe good news is Michael Baldwin is back for about half of this film… The movie starts up strong picking up right where at the second one left off. Jody is back as well, although for a great deal of the film he takes the form of one of those silver spheres- One that is now on the side of good. I very much get the impression that there was some confusion or some doubt that Thornbury and Baldwin would make it back, or perhaps that they would make it back for as much of the film as they did. As a result, the second act introduces a lot of new characters and tries to form a whole new trio. We have another young boy who has been orphaned by the tall man’s shenanigans, as well as a militant young black woman who serves as the muscle. They’re both very 90s stereoypes, and in a lot of ways, Reggie banister doesn’t fit with them. He seemed out of place with his hqdefaultseventies/eighties look and sensibilities. It’s something you don’t notice  as much when he’s hanging with his contemporaries but it comes into sharp relief and when contrasted against these strong, modern stereotypes…
We also encounter some new villains – some bright and obnoxiously colored scavengers. They get promptly killed off and turned into zombies then keep returning to wreck the film… Honestly they’re one of the weakest parts of the movie. These characters are practically cartoons and they sap a lot of the creepy atmosphere from the film, pushing the humor over The line to silly shenanigans.

At the end of the day, I think that’s really my problem with this movie… It’s not dark enough, it’s not scary enough, it’s not brilliant. If you got rid of these silly scavengers, or made them less of a caricature and more a threat I think I would’ve liked to better. I mentioned before that the orphan character is just so… clean… He’s got freshly laundered jeans and a bright blue jean jacket, his hair is immaculately cut. If he were in rags with a dirty face I think I would’ve accepted him more. The world would’ve felt more grim.

downloadYou can’t dismiss this film though, it’s got some great moments and some wonderful touches on it… We have some truly creepy images of the tall man sitting and communing with the silver sentinel spheres… Indeed we see more of the balls in this movie then possibly any other phantasm film, and with a greater variety. We don’t necessarily see them cause the same level of gore as we did in part 2, but that’s a budgetary restrictions…

All in all, this one is worth watching – if nothing else as a bridge between two and four… And of course for the same reasons that you watch any Phantasm movie… It’s a reunion with Mike and Bill and Reggie and Don and Angus, and you.