Back in my college years (first go round) I read comics to keep my sanity intact. Until those years the comic books that I had read were strictly Marvel and DC superhero books sprinkled with the occasional horror anthology series for spice. But in my late teens I discovered First Comics and fell in love with Nexus, Badger and most especially Grimjack. The adventures of John Gaunt were the perfect next step for someone like me who loved Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and science fiction stories so when I was able to get my hands on the first thirty issues at one time for a cheap price (thank you comic book convention dealers!) I sntached them up and read them repeatedly. I still have those comics and actually still have my entire run of the series that I periodically reread. I've been tempted to pick up the various trade paperback collections over the past decade but haven't as yet. But don't let that stop you. If you've never read Grimjack give the character a try - you might find a new favorite like I did all those years ago.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Sunday, June 28, 2015
In this episode Troy and I return to our Controversial Kaiju series to talk about GODZILLA MOTHRA KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL OUT ATTACK (2001) and marvel at more than just the length of the title. The third film in the 'Millennium' run from Toho it follows the standard for that series by ignoring all previous Godzilla film save the classic 1954 original. Yes- this movie is a direct sequel to GOJIRA and that might explain why for some Big G fans it might be considered controversial. I think the only thing controversial about it is that the director (Shûsuke Kaneko) has not been allowed (or forced!) to make several more awesome Godzilla epics!
As is typical with these giant monster movies from
Japan, I play catch up as Troy takes me to school dropping knowledge
about everything in sight. Luckily there is much to talk about as I complain
about the title and suggest a more accurate and less serious alternate name for
the film. Troy discusses the originally desired
monster lineup and his own preferred roster while I express my amazement at the
monsters' stance on Japan's
juvenile delinquent problem. We were both surprised by the fun way the film
addresses the names given to the various monsters which leads me to rename
Gamera the Flaming Flying Death Disc while Troy simply shakes his head in shame. Adding
to the discussion (and nearly derailing it) is a sideline conversation about Toho's
WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966) because I finally got a chance to see this
supposed sequel to the topic of the last episode. We do stay on point for the
majority of the show but there is a brief bit about 1950's TV westerns that is
apropos of absolutely nothing, so be warned.
If you have any comments or questions the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org where are thrilled to answer any question you might pose. Indeed, this month we answer several queries and I have to once again confess to not having seen a (not so) classic dinosaur film. Add it to the list and I'll eventually get it! Jeeze! Thank you for downloading and listening to the show!
Thursday, June 25, 2015
This is a fantastic brief talk from Mr. Thrower focused on Franco's cinematic style and his own realization of the director's genius. Fascinating for fans and probably for those on the fence about finally checking out Ol' Uncle Jess' work.
Monday, June 22, 2015
I recently came across this issue of Tragg and the Sky Gods in the quarter bins and could not resist. I had absolutely no knowledge of this series but it seems I really lucked out - even though this is numbered 9 it was the last of the series and was a simple reprint of the very first issue. It is certainly interesting and if I could grab the rest of the run as cheap I'd do it! What other Don Glut surprises await me in the cheap comic boxes?
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Over the past week I've been checking out sample episodes of several 1950's TV westerns that I've never had the chance to see before Encore's Western Channels made it a painfully simple push-button matter. Until now the only one of these shows that I had been exposed to was the excellent Have Gun, Will Travel because that show was championed years ago by a dear friend, Jack Daves. From what I've seen so far HGWT remains the top of the heap but I'm willing to see more. Many more! In my childhood I had seen a number of the of the 1960's color westerns like The Big Valley and Bonanza in reruns but most of the early half-hour format black & white shows are a blind spot I've been itching to scratch for a while.
First up was Matt Dillon which turns out to be an alternate titling of the first six seasons of Gunsmoke from 1955 to 1961. The show was shown under this title in syndication for some reason and that seems to be the version Encore has for broadcast. After 1961 the show switched to hour length shows and then to color in 1966. I had caught some color episodes as a kid but had not been too impressed then but I found the half hour variety more interesting. That may be because in the ensuing years I've become a big fan of the original radio version of Gunsmoke with Marshall Dillon played by the awesome William Conrad. The black & white shows feel more like the radio show and therefore seem more to my taste. As an added bonus one of the guest stars in the first Matt Dillon episode I saw (Cow Doctor) was the young Tommy Kirk proving that he was one hell of an actor - possibly from birth! This show was made in 1956 and Kirk hit the big time that year playing one of the Hardy Boys for Disney and his career was off and running.
Next up was The Life & Legend of Wyatt Earp which does its best to standardize and formalize the events of the Earp family of lawmen into easily digestible chunks of occasional brushes with the Clanton gang. Without any knowledge of the historical reality of the situation I suspect the show could be taken as pretty good on its merits and I enjoyed it on that level. But the simplification of the ongoing conflicts between the two groups seems a little too clean for me to watch more than a couple of episodes. The cast is quite good though lead by Hugh O'Brian as Wyatt and solid character actor John Anderson as Virgil Earp.
Friday, June 19, 2015
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Am I the only one with fond memories of this bizarre film? I loved this movie and probably watched it a dozen times when it was a cable TV staple. So strange with Belushi and Aykroyd so obviously playing the roles best suited for the other. And until tonight I had no idea the script was based on a novel! Or that the movie was written by Larry Gelbart of MASH fame! Or that it was directed by the man who made ROCKY! Damn. I gotta see this one again soon.
Sunday, June 14, 2015
I stumbled across a few of these online and then went hunting for more. Of course, some of these are from before they decided to conserve budget by scaling back the level of technology used in the Ape society but those are even more fascinating to me. Some of those ideas were eventually used in the Saturday morning animated series years later.
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Although we have been expecting his passing for a long time it is still quite sad to say goodbye to such a towering cinema presence. He was all the things listed above and much more. We are better for having had you around to entertain us.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
After learning of this film for the first time from Nic Brown of the B-Movie Cast I sought it out. From Nic's brief plot description it was clear that this was just going to be another retread of THE SEVEN SAMURAI by way of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN with a touch of THE ROAD WARRIOR slathered across the top and that is certainly what it turned out to be. The fairly weak script is enlivened by a cast trying to do their best even if they are often undermined by poor direction. This is a very low budget affair and that shows most noticeable in the first third where we are treated to the clumsiest information dump I have ever witnessed in a feature film. As we watch the amazing Bruce Dern drive from his desert oasis village to the means streets of the nearest metropolis we listen as he reels off about three single-spaced pages of history and back-story. Dern is a good enough actor that he can make it sound pretty good and almost natural but it is sloppy filmmaking of the lowest order.
When I first looked over the cast list for WORLD GONE WILD I feared the only good actor in the bunch was going to be Dern with a few of the smaller character roles giving some solid back up and I was mostly correct. Familiar faces such as Julius Carry, Anthony James (as a friendly cannibal!) and good ol' southern boy Alan Autry breathe some life into really underwritten parts. It is a testament to their talent that those small roles are handled with enough skill and energy that that they make a positive impression given that the indifferent direction and poor shot composition often undermines just about any chance at enjoying their characterizations. A great surprise was to be found in an unexpected place though.
I did not think Adam Ant was going to be convincing as the villain and I knew that Michael Pare is only as good onscreen as his director and editor can allow. Usually a strong director and smart editing means a good performance from Pare (witness STREETS OF FIRE) but without a stern taskmaster riding herd he is a sloppy, unconvincing actor. Sadly, here Pare proves as stiff and mildly embarrassing as is his norm but I was very surprised when our diminutive bad guy Adam Ant actually made a huge effort to be big onscreen and damned if he doesn't bring some fun to his part. Indeed, he adds some wonderful moments by being charmingly evil as he works hard to sell his dastardly intentions.
On the whole I can say I'm glad to have seen this but that may be only because I'm such a sucker for 1980's Post Apocalyptic Cinema. This could have and should have been better but what is there is interesting enough to make me grin with guilty joy.
Monday, June 08, 2015
Last month saw me enter the sacred movie house on many occasions - and it was good. Well, it was great actually! Except for that one time.
Let me explain.
The latest Marvel film hit screens and, as I have enjoyed all of them before, I ventured out to view it with high levels of anticipation. High expectations are often the death of joy in such instances but in this case Mr. Wedon and his associates pulled yet another Ace from their sleeves and gave us a fantastic adventure. Much like the first one AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON gets its weakest moments out of the way in the first act dropping us into the action with only some dodgy CGI to mar the fun. It was these first few minutes that gave me some slight trepidation but luckily the remainder of the film was sure-footed and just as emotionally satisfying as it was exciting. These truly are the films I hoped - nay - wished for as a young lad reading and rereading every comic book I could afford. They make me glad to be alive!
Next I went to
only second run theater and caught two movies in one evening. This near
overindulgence in cinema made me giddy with a rush of endorphins even if the
films viewed were less than excellent. First up was the superior of the two,
Neill Blomkamp's third science fiction feature C.H.A.P.P.i.E. which I found to
be very quite entertaining but narratively clumsy. The film is quickly paced,
well performed and flawless in its depiction of its future world and its
special effects, but it is also painfully simple-minded in its plotting and
story. That's not to say I wasn't swept along and even brought (I swear) to
tears on two separate occasions, but I too often felt the hand of the
manipulator subtly shifting the playing field to set up the required set piece
to come. Also, the eventually villainous individual played by Hugh Jackman is
too sketchily drawn to be more than a cardboard bad guy. It seems that there
may have been more ambition in the script to paint him as a religious zealot
and the outline of that trait is present in the finished film but the movie
slides away from it too often for it to deepen him as a character. I liked the
film but it is very flawed.
THE LAZARUS EFFECT on the other paw is a fairly dull affair that wastes a pretty good cast. The film has a good horror premise but squanders it by sanding the interesting story ideas down to silly foregone conclusions. It is a flat, barely interesting but competently produced film that would have merited a 5 out of 10 until the end scattered any remaining good will to the winds. I suspect the sad final act was the third or fourth version attempted by the filmmakers trying to juice an otherwise blah movie. Oh, well.
The Fast & Furious franchise (say that three times fast!) has become a reliably fun and exciting action series since Vin Diesel stepped back into the series and gave it focus. As bizarre and silly as the car stunts and fights often become these movies remain great fun bin the same way a Marvel superhero film can be. FAST & FURIOUS 7 proves that there is still plenty of gas in the tank as the merry, motley crew deal with the fallout of their last government sanctioned adventure. This time Jason Statham is the relentless, deadly villain (as brilliantly teased in the last film) and my man Kurt Russell enters the scene as a potentially valuable ally against The Stath's one man army. I've often said that while some action movies play with the bounds of what is physically possible the Fast & Furious films laugh at gravity and drive past the laws of physics while shooting it the finger - all while looking pretty damned cool. Half the fun of these movies is wondering what outrageous thing they'll come up with next and number 7 does not disappoint in the 'Holy Shit' category of eye-popping crazy.
I worried that the death last year of series star Paul Walker might put a damper on the whole affair, but it did not. They cleverly took the opportunity to very touchingly say goodbye to
Walker in the final moments of this film and
essentially write his character out of future installments without doing away
with him. I'm not ashamed to admit it got a little dusty in the theater before
the credits rolled. I think the smartest choice Diesel and his co-creators on
these movies have made is instilling a sense of family in the DNA of the
character interactions throughout the series and they use that effectively here
for more than just a motivational device. Well done.
THE NOVEMBER MAN (2014)- 8 (very good spy thriller)
THE CANAL (2014)- 7 (well done Irish horror film)
THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) - 9
REC 4: APOCALYPSE (2014)- 6 (the least of the series)
DAY OF ANGER (1967)- 8 (rewatch)
CHAPPIE (2015) - 7
THE LAZARUS EFFECT (2015)- 4
THE VAMPIRE'S NIGHT ORGY (1974)- 7 (rewatch)
UP THE ACADEMY (1980)- 3 (terrible comedy linked to Mad Magazine)
THE TIME GUARDIAN (1987)- 5 (better than expected post-apocalyptic tale)
THE COSMIC MONSTER (1958)- 5 (not bad British SF monster film)
THE ALPHABET MURDERS (1965)- 7 (fun, slightly silly Agatha Christie adaptation)
HOUSEBOUND (2014)- 9 (excellent
horror comedy) New Zealand
FAST & FURIOUS 7 (2015)- 7 (incredibly fun and completely ridiculous)
TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1972)- 8 (rewatch)
FURY ROAD (2015)- 9
PREDESTINATION (2014)- 8 (fantastic Heinlein adaptation/expansion)
BATMAN VS ROBIN (2015)- 7 (good animated tale)
THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973)- 8 (rewatch)
FRANKENSTEIN CONQUORS THE WORLD (1965)- 8 (rewatch)