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Showing posts from March, 2010

The Crestwood House . . . of Horrors!

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Because of my personality trait of obsessive introspection, I can cite the many things that have contributed to my state of perpetual geekery / arrested maturity / dubious connection to reality over the years. Star Wars was my gateway drug to all things science fiction and fantasy, while Spider-Man (courtesy of The Electric Company TV show and its companion magazine of the same title) got me started on superheroes and all things comic book-ish. On the other hand, my interest in horror is a bit more convoluted in its history and took much longer to blossom. What I can say, though, is that my introduction to classic horror cinema was provided not by the movie theater itself, but instead by a publishing company called Crestwood House.
Some background information: This happened in the early 1980s, when there were no video rental stores and VCRs--let alone DVD players--were not common household appliances. My family didn't have cable and what syndicated TV stations (remember those?) we…

Free to be in 3D

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I've been a fan of 3D media for as long as I can remember. From the old View Master toys to books and magazines that came with cardboard red and blue glasses so that the anaglyph pictures inside would pop off the page, I always thought that the use of illusory three dimensions to enhance entertainment media was a fascinating, under-utilized idea. I've felt this was for almost three decades, come to think of it. Boy, am I old . . . .

Anyway, with the blockbuster success of Avatar and the impressive sales of Panasonic's S3DHD TVs, the first line of high-definition, flat-screen TVs, it appears that the idea of 3D has caught on--at least in the circles of movie production. Even Warner Bros. has gone so far to recently announce that all of their upcoming tentpole films will be in 3D.

With this sudden growth of the 3D movie market, there has been a fair amount of backlash from both critics and fans alike. For example, I usually enjoy reading Roger Ebert's movie reviews (even i…

Touched by a Dark Angel

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Score another one for DVD box sets: I just finished watching the entire Dark Angel series. When it originally aired, I dismissed Dark Angel as nothing more than a Buffy The Vampire Slayer clone; however, at the behest of the Mrs., I started watching the series and quickly learned that my original opinion of the show was very, very wrong.

Dark Angel has all the things that a great sci-fi TV show should have: a solid cast, decent production values, good scripts, and a detailed, consistent back story (or "mythology" for all you Joseph Campbell fans) that ties it all together. The first season was great and the second season upped the ante considerably, making for many tense, compelling story arcs. Indeed, the overarching plot of the second season--the conflict between fugitive genetically-engineered super-soldiers and the members of a secretive, selective breeding cult that's thousands of years old--made for some interesting, freaky viewing. Dark Angel also has the distinct…

Video Game Cheaters (and the Web Sites that Love Them)

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I love video games, but I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the best at them. I love No More Heroes to pieces, but the third boss Shinobu kept kicking my butt inside out. I enjoy The Conduit, but the aliens kept gunning me down at the Jefferson Memorial. I've also wanted to play through all of Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, but I kept running out of the necessary ammo during the last boss fight at the end of the Resident Evil 0 section of the game.

The repeated losses at the Umbrella Chronicles game was particularly harsh for me; even though I'm not a big Resident Evil fan, I love rail shooters where I can mow down endless waves of zombies. I have other horror rail shooters for Wii and I've completed all of them--the awesome Dead Space: Extraction, the over-the-top and also awesome House of the Dead: Overkill, and the arcade ports of House of the Dead 2 and 3--so being unable to complete Umbrella Chronicles stood out like a sore thumb. Furthermore, Umb…

Write of the Living Dead

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It's official: I'm now a published author. Centipede Press has published a large book of essays about Night of the Living Dead as part of their "Studies in the Horror Film" series of books and my essay, "Cannibalizing Consumers", is in it. You can read more about the book here.

"Cannibalizing Consumers" was originally part of a series of essays that was included in a 40th anniversary retrospective of Night of the Living Dead on the PopMatters site back in 2008, and it was picked up to be part of the book. If you are so inclined, you can read my original essay here. I'm giddy that my first shot at recognition in an academic publication happens to revolve around the genre-defining film that introduced the world to unstoppable, epidemic, undead cannibalism. Then again, this is isn't just an article publication for me: 1) It's an article published in a series of books about studying horror films, 2) it's an article largely devoted to N…

Wii Want Tron

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Of all of the films that I'm looking forward to this year, I've definitely got high hopes for Tron Legacy. I wasn't a big fan of the first Tron from way back when in the 80s, yet it was fascinating in the sense that it was both so high-tech and yet so primitive at the same time. For as advanced as the film looked, the conceptual foundation of the plot was like something, say, a caveman would tell you if you ever showed him a computer and asked him how it worked. He'd probably tell you that the computer contains a bunch of tiny, glowing people inside and they are the ones who make it work, just like in Tron . . . well, he'd tell you that, providing that he wouldn't try to bash your skull in first in response to you scaring the bejesus out of him with your magical, flickering doohickey.
Nevertheless, Tron Legacy looks to be a blast--the first preview for it was equal parts glossy, high-tech VR cool and dark, mysterious cyberpunk dread. Now with that said, I really…

Nerd Devotion in Lego

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For as long as I can remember, I've had a strong admiration (not to mention something of a mild jealousy) of people who have mastered the hobby of miniature sci-fi/horror model making. My skill level only gets me as far as buying an occasional highly-detailed NECA action figure--or, as I would prefer to call them, "highly-detailed, pre-painted, pre-assembled model kits for people who lack the time, money and talent to paint and assemble highly-detailed model kits".

However, I reserve my deepest geek appreciation for those who go the extra mile to design entire model kits from scratch by themselves. Many do it as customized garage kits, some of which are even made available for purchase (either assembled or unassembled) by others. But my post for today focuses on 15-year-old Sven Junga, who has made some eye-popping models of vehicles from Stargate, Star Trek and Star Wars from nothing but Legos. Yep, Legos. I hang my model-assembly-challenged nerd head in shame. Read on .…