December 18, 2013

[Castle Rock Companion] Cujo

Check out Angie's post here.

Castle Rock series index.

Don "The Dragon" Wilson... Bloodfist 2 (1990)


Let's open this by saying there's absolutely zero continuity between this film and the last. I about expected as much, but it still feels a little hollow that we never find out what happened to Nancy (the first film was Riley Bowman's lone credit, so they might not even have been able to get her back), what Jake's business partner Hal has been up to (probably still bumming around the Philippines to dodge the IRS), Jake apparently has both kidneys again (though it's never commented on either way), and the villain of both pictures is played by the exact same actor (Joe Mari Avellana) with zero reference to him visibly being the same guy. No "I was the third brother!", no "I'm still alive muwhahahahahah!", no "I'm a slightly more well fed clone!" He's just there and we move forward. If I had to guess, I'd bet this was a separate kickboxing script they had laying around which was retooled for the franchise when they needed a quick sequel. To this day, it's a pretty standard Hollywood tactic, though most will do a hair more work than simply "search and replace" the lead's name.

December 4, 2013

[Castle Rock Companion] Cat's Eye

Check out Angie's post here.

Castle Rock series index.

Don "The Dragon" Wilson... Bloodfist (1989)


Before last night, I had never before seen a film starring Don "The Dragon" Wilson. I know, it's a total failing on my part as a dude who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, and who was into martial arts movies and whatever cheese was playing on Cinemax (on a related note, remind me to write about Angelfist one of these days). On first impression, I can see why Don "The Dragon" did fine in his niche. He's a good looking guy, with his angular features and massive ears making him look like the studly love experiment of Jason Scott Lee and Clark Gable. As a martial artist, he doesn't over do it with a lot of flash, moving well and cutting a nice presence. As an actor... he's one hell of a martial artist. Sorry, to his credit, Don "The Dragon" isn't quite as stiff as a stump, as I've seen many other martial artist-turned-actors be, but that's not saying a whole lot. The film doesn't require him to emote very much, and he pulls off not emoting much with great aplomb. And while his heavy voice with a distinct drawl doesn't always allow for the cleanest of line deliveries, it does give him an approachable charm. He's about as good on screen as Howie Long, is what I'm saying, and as the sole member of Firestorm Fans United, that's perfectly fine by me.

November 27, 2013

[Masters of Carpentry] Johnocrypha: Prey

Check it out here.

Castle Rock Cash-In presents... A Return to Salem's Lot

This is a tie-in to Angelle Tusa's Castle Rock Companion series, which explores the cinematic adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Check out her review of Salem's Lot.



We open in the jungles of South America, where a native tribe is sacrificing a young man (classic image of him stretched out on an altar with his heart being cut out) so as to bless the fertility of the king's newly wed young daughter, while topless women dance about in a circle. Viewing the scene is Joe Webber (Michael Moriarty), an anthropologist who coldly takes over filming when his cameraman wigs out in disgust at the sight. What does this scene have to do with the ensuing film? Jack all! Yes, it establishes Joe as an anthropologist, which is key to the plot, but his callousness at seeing human life ripped away not only doesn't play in the story to follow, but is largely contradicted by it.

October 31, 2013

Castle Rock Cash-In presents... Creepshow 3

This is a tie-in to Angelle Tusa's Castle Rock Companion series, which explores the cinematic adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Check out her reviews of Creepshow and Creepshow 2.



In "Alice", our eponymous, snobbish teenage girl finds herself thrust between alternate realities when her father experiments with a new universal remote. This sets the tone of the piece early, with crisp direction and a good naturalistic flow to the dialogue and performances. It's not a particularly scary short, with the increasingly gory burns Alice suffers as a result of her reality shifts being played more for a gruesome laugh, and more focus is put on the humor, as her father adjusting the color hue throws her in a reality where her family is black, or playing with subtitles makes them Hispanic. Sadly, it just doesn't seem to know where to go beyond that as a few things just randomly happen and the short ends.

[Castle Rock Companion] Creepshow 2

Check out Angie's post here.

Castle Rock series index.

October 11, 2013

Sleepy Hollow, episode 4 "The Lesser Key of Solomon"

In this week's Sleepy Hollow, we learn the Boston Tea Party was a ruse so Ichabod and Samuel Adams could recover a book of King Solomon containing spells to summon demons, that the Hessian descendants of the same order the Headless Horseman fought for is still around, living in Sleepy Hollow as a sleeper cell (or as I like to call them, the Sleepy Cell), that Baddie Blur is really the Ammonite demon god Moloch, and that Jenny has had a tough life.

October 4, 2013

Sleepy Hollow, episode 3 "For the Triumph of Evil"

Ratings

The drop from 8.59mil to 7.97mil is significantly narrower than the drop from the pilot episode's 10.10mil, so here's hoping the show is about to stabilize in the mid-high 7mil range. It's still in a good timeslot on a good night, so as long as they don't suddenly shift it, it should be fine. Granted, wouldn't be the first time they've shifted slots based on numbers like this.



Recap

Abbie arrives at the station where Irving tells her the suspect has been caught and is being interrogated by Ichabod. Which strikes Abbie as odd. As they walk to the interrogation room, Abbie is introduced to a woman, a forensic psychologist, who says the suspect is going for an insanity defense. Reaching the room, Ichabod is looming over a young woman, demanding to know what she saw. The woman is a teenage Abbie Mills. Abbie storms into the room, only to find Ichabod sitting in the suspect's chair, glaring at her with eyes glazed over white. "The truth will set you free." He's gone and Abbie finds herself alone and locked in the room with lights flickering. She spins, finds herself facing a tall, pale figure, nude to the waist, with no features on his face expect a pair of dark eye sockets which leak drifts of sand. Enter, the Sandman.

September 26, 2013

Sleepy Hollow, episode 2 "Blood Moon"

Ratings

Episode 2 has slipped a bit from the episode 1 numbers of 10.10mil to 8.59mil. This is a typical drop, and not unexpected. If it can hold around here, or even settle and stabilize in the 7mil range, it should be okay for another season. Still way too early to tell, though, as I've seen shows hold around here for a few weeks, then take a sudden plunge into 5, 4, sometimes even 3mil. Here's hoping they keep it in this timeslot, as it's just up against sitcoms and reality competitions, giving it an edge for people looking for a drama at the time.



Recap

Night. Ichabod is racing through the woods, the Horseman at his heels. Three other Horsemen, their armored shapes lost in shadows, join in the chase. Ichabod runs into a thicket, where the branches come alive and pull him into the ground. Ichabod finds himself in a catacomb, where Katrina appears and repeats his mission objectives, with the addition of, "Before the Four Horsemen can ride, an army of evil will make way for their arrival. The first dark spirit rises before the blood moon. She's one of us. You must stop her before she kills again!" Katrina disappears. Looking up into the thicket hole he came through, Ichabod sees a charred woman with red eyes looking down at him.

September 25, 2013

Castle Rock Cash-In presents... Firestarter 2: Rekindled

This is a tie-in to Angelle Tusa's Castle Rock Companion series, which explores the cinematic adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Her review of Firestarter can be found here.



Documents relating to the Lot 6 experiment have been released to the public thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, but have been quietly tucked away in library archives instead of creating a media scandal. Nonetheless, a class action lawsuit from the experiment's survivors is quickly launched and settled, and the legal firm for which Vincent Sforza (Danny Nucci) works is tasked with tracking down everyone else related to the experiment so the settlement earnings can be properly processed. Following a paper trail to the basement of the late Dr. Wanless (Freddie Jones in the first film), Vincent encounters a secretive young woman named Tommy (Marguerite Moreau), who's also rooting through the files to dig deeper into the actual drugs used in the trials.

September 19, 2013

Sleepy Hollow, episode 1 "Pilot"

I have a horrible habit of really enjoying TV shows that I know going in probably won't last to the end of the season. My Own Worst Enemy. Surface. Invasion. The Event. Flash Forward. Alcatraz. Zero Hour. 666 Park Avenue. Etc, etc. These are mostly nutty, convoluted genre shows with bizarro concepts which, while they may fail to light a fire against the broader joe public, always snag my attention when I'm looking at the fall previews. I've been burned, with most of these shows ending on massive cliffhangers that sneer in the face of closure. It's a burn I've gotten used to, though, and I keep going in, knowing I'll get a good mix of ideas interesting and crazy, sometimes executed well, sometimes not, but most often well enough to entertain.

September 9, 2013

This Week In My Merry Marvel Read-Thru

The Amazing Spider-Man #48 (May 1968)

"The Wings of the Vulture"
By Stan Lee and John Romita.

With the Vulture dying in prison from a workshop accident, his flight suit falls into the hands of his cellmate, Blackie Drago, a ruthless gangster looking to score big. Spider-Man is quickly on his tail, but in the snow-covered winter season, Pete is again feverish, and he's ultimately left lifeless on a rooftop as a laughing NuVulture flies away.

September 1, 2013

This Week In My Merry Marvel Read-Thru

Tales of Suspense #86 (February 1967)

Iron Man "Death Duel for the Life of Happy Hogan"
By Stan Lee, Gene Colan, and Frank Giacoia.

Iron Man and the Mandarin throw down, Iron Man wins and saves Happy, and I couldn't be more bored. Stan's writing is wordy and dull. Gene's art is still an uncomfortable fit for the series, with Frank doing an awful job on his heavy inks. There's no energy, no flow to the fight, no personality to the characters. It's just a lifeless jumble of lines on a page.

[Midnight Movie Exchange] Leonard Part 6 (1987)

Check it out here.

August 25, 2013

This Week In My Merry Marvel Read-Thru

The Amazing Spider-Man #44 (January 1967)

"Where Crawls the Lizard"
By Stan Lee and John Romita.

Dr. Connors has a relapse, sending the Lizard on a spree to frame Spider-Man for robberies. Meanwhile, Aunt May is on a trip Peter can't currently pay for, and the gang at college goes ga-ga when they meet Mary Jane for the first time.

August 9, 2013

My Merry Marvel Read-Thru: The Mighty Thor (1967)

As I'm not going back to re-read the earlier issues of Thor, just wanted to quickly say this is a series that started off pretty lousy, with Larry Lieber and the rotating artists - mostly Don Heck - often not having a clue what to do with the material beyond having Loki ridiculously manipulate every single villain who showed up each month. When Stan and Jack took over, it settled into a decent, if still bland, rhythm, but then I became hooked as, through 1965-1966, Jack started expanding on the mythology of the series and took us away from the Earthly boredom of Dr. Don Blake and Jane Foster to powerful hero ballads set among the massive and mysterious forces of the cosmos. Some of Jack's most awesome and powerful art of the time is in the pages of this book, even if it's often filtered through the inks of Vince Colletta.

August 1, 2013

My Merry Marvel Read-Thru: A Miscellaneous Beginning

I want to state up front that this isn't really a formal project. I've been working my way up through the superhero titles of the Marvel Silver Age for a while now, and don't have any intention of looping back and re-reading the stuff I've already finished. Since I know several of my followers have been interested in discussing things as I've slowly progressed, I figured I'd just jot down general thoughts so they'd have a better sense of where I am with each book and what I'm feeling.

After this post, I'll largely be going year by year, series by series - i.e. doing all of Thor from '67, then Spider-Man from '67, so on and so forth. As you can see below, before I started the year-by-year system, I read more deeply into Hulk and Dr. Strange (as well as Fantastic Four and X-Men), and will start chronicling them once I get to the point where I've left off. They're here because I wanted to round them to the end of the years where I stopped. As for Daredevil and Avengers, those were the last bits of '66 I had, and so we'll be picking up the next post firmly in 1967.

And at the moment, I'm only doing the series which started in the '60s, so as we get to 1970 and beyond, I'm not going to be adding any other series until I get past the point where all of these ended in the late 90s.

[Midnight Movie Exchange] Rad (1986)

Check it out here.

July 31, 2013

Castle Rock Cash-In presents... Pet Sematary Two

This is a tie-in to Angelle Tusa's Castle Rock Companion series, which explores the cinematic adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Her review of Pet Sematary can be found here.


While in the midst of shooting her latest film (a horror movie, of course), Hollywood starlet Renee Hallow (Darlanne Fluegel) is electrocuted to death as a result of somebody forgetting to say "Hey, we probably shouldn't put all of the power sockets right where a hose is puddling the floor of the set." Screaming from the wings is her teenage son, Jeff Matthews (Edward Furlong), who now goes to live with his recently estranged father, Chase (Anthony Edwards). Chase is a veterinarian, and after the paparazzi swarm of Renee's funeral settles, he decides to shift his business to the small town where she kept a summer home... the small town of course being Ludlow, Maine.

July 24, 2013

Castle Rock Cash-In presents... The Mangler Reborn

This is a tie-in to Angelle Tusa's Castle Rock Companion series, which explores the cinematic adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Her review of The Mangler can be found here.


Local handyman Hadley Watson is in a bit of a slump. He hasn't had a paid service come in for days, his wife finally snaps and chews him out for being a worthless nobody, and the machine he's renovating in his workshop snips him in the hand. Well, it just so happens that this machine is the core of the original Mangler, which caught Hadley's eye at an antique sale as something to occupy his time. Now that he's spilled blood on it, the device is eager for more, so takes control of the body of poor Hadley as he first feeds it his wife, then vulnerable young women in the neighborhood who call him for household repairs.

July 3, 2013

Castle Rock Cash-In presents... The Mangler 2

This is a tie-in to Angelle Tusa's Castle Rock Companion series, which explores the cinematic adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Her review of The Mangler can be found here.



The Royal Collegiate College is a top-of-the-line institution that caters to the pampered youth and bountiful wallets of high society. Due to the wealth of their parents, and the often rebellious and entitled attitude of the kids, the gruff, no-nonsense Headmaster Bradeen (Lance Henriksen) has installed a military-grade surveillance system with an A.I. that not only keeps the largely automated facility running smooth, but monitors all students and teachers to keep their activity appropriate and in line.

June 26, 2013

[Castle Rock Companion] The Shining

Check out part 1 of Angie's post.
Check out part 2 of Angie's post.

Castle Rock series index.

Castle Rock Cash-In presents... Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War

This is a tie-in to Angelle Tusa's Castle Rock Companion series, which explores the cinematic adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Her review of Lawnmower Man (with a special guest) can be found here.



Benjamin Trace (Patrick Bergen), one of the founders of virtual reality technology, has invented the Chyron Chip, which allows for the universal connectivity of all digital information networks. But when he holds back on finishing it over fears of how technology is interacting with society, he's taken to court by his financier, Jonathan Walker (Kevin Conway), who manages to win control of the patent. The chip, though, is security locked and useless, and with Trace withdrawing from society at large, Walker pulls Jobe (now Matt Frewer) out of the wreckage of the last film and tasks him with rebuilding the chip.

January 27, 2013

[A Need for Tenchi] Tenchi Muyo OVA, episode 4 "Mihoshi Falls to the Land of Stars"

(this article was previously published at Second Time Around)

Synopsis

The massive ship of feared uber villain Kagato passes through space. It's surrounded by Galaxy Police cruisers, but casually blasts them all away. The Marshall of the GP contacts the Commander of a station in the solar system in which Kagato is heading (ours), informing him of the incident and ordering a search for the villain. The Commander's Lieutenant informs him the nearest officer is Mihoshi, which isn't taken well as the Commander's desk is littered with expensive damage reports from Mihoshi's previous cases. Nonetheless, the Lieutenant suggests sending Mihoshi after Kagato might be an opportune way to get rid of her.

January 20, 2013

[A Need for Tenchi] Tenchi Muyo OVA, episode 3 "Hello, Ryo-Ohki!"

(this article was previously published at Second Time Around)

Synopsis

In an old memory, Ayeka as a little girl picks a Royal Teardrop flower and gives it to her brother/fiance, Yosho, but he tells her it's not a flower meant for happy occasions. Sudden chaos as we see the flaming devastation unleashed by a demonic Ryoko, who takes off in her ship, Yosho in pursuit. Ayeka, now grown, runs after Yosho, but when she reaches him, he becomes Tenchi. Tenchi tells her again that Yosho is dead and gives her the sword hilt as a memento. Ayeka wakes up with a yell, the sword hilt in her hand. She's in a room at Tenchi's house, Sasami still asleep on the futon next to her. Ayeka goes to the window, longing for Jurai, then sees Ryoko walk across the pond below. Ayeka turns away in disgust, while Ryoko submerges, pulling a black egg from the wreckage of her ship.

January 13, 2013

[A Need for Tenchi] Tenchi Muyo OVA, episode 2 "Here Comes Ayeka"

(this article was previously published at Second Time Around)

Synopsis

A massive ship approaches Earth orbit. At its heart is a garden- and forest-filled capsule where beams of light are projected into a specific tree. A pair of robotic guards, Azaka and Kamidake, activate, and the base of the tree opens, releasing Ayeka, princess of the planet Jurai, from stasis. She's come to Earth in search of her brother, Yosho, but neither he nor his ship are being picked up by scans. Instead, they find Ryoko. Due to the statute of limitations, Ryoko's file is cleared five seconds later, meaning she's no longer a wanted criminal. Ayeka is furious and damns the laws, ordering her ship to move in and capture Ryoko anyways.

January 4, 2013

[A Need for Tenchi] Tenchi Muyo OVA, episode 1: "The Resurrection of Ryoko"

(this articles was previously published at Second Time Around)

Synopsis

Since he was a child, Tenchi Masaki has wanted to sneak into the Masaki family shrine - the centerpiece of the temple/home he shares with his father and grandfather - but his grandfather keeps warning the boy away with legends of the demon who rests within. 700 years ago, the demon unleashed a wave of massive destruction, until a dragon-like ship came from the sky, bringing a warrior, Yosho, who sealed the demon in this cave with the power of a spiritual sword. Tenchi and his family are descended from Yosho and are tasked with guarding the shrine from intruders.

January 3, 2013

Introducing… A Need for Tenchi

(this article was previously published at Second Time Around)

The comedies were what first pulled me into anime. I'd of course seen Robotech and Voltron and a number of the other bowdlerized anime series airing in US Saturday morning cartoon blocks back in the day, but it wasn't until I randomly came across an issue of Ninja High School on the magazine rack at the local mini market (remember when they used to carry comics? Good times) that I started to learn what these terms "anime" and "manga", both still young to our nation's ears, actually meant. Tracking down other issues of Ninja High School, I was hit with a crash course on the foreign elements it was parodying alongside the American action movies and teen comedies of the 80s, and I'd soon pass videos at the local blockbuster that were suddenly familiar. This is how I discovered Captain Harlock, Fist of the North Star, and re-evaluated my love of the above-mentioned Robotech. It even introduced me to sentai teams shortly before Power Rangers hit US airwaves. Most importantly, it introduced me to the most magnificent anime screwball comedy ever made: Project A-Ko. It was through my love of such adorable destruction that I started hording everything I could in the genre, diving into Rumiko Takahashi, and renting the first OVA of a series called Tenchi Muyo.