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Showing posts from September, 2010

Spider-Man and His Amazingly Craptacular 70s Merchandise

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One of the first outlets where I could express my burgeoning geekhood was in my toy collection. While I would inevitably stuff my room to capacity with all things Star Wars, that wasn't my first experience with toys from a major nerd franchise. My first obsession with collectible playthings in the mid- to late-70s was with none other than ol' Web Head himself, Spider-Man.

Looking back, my Spider-Man collection was a modest one. I had some Spider-Man t-shirts, some ViewMaster and Pocket Flix sets, a few comics and even the classic Mego action figure. Then again, most things related to Spider-Man were pretty modest back then. Don’t let the picture above fool you; back in the late 70s, it was hard to come by some top-notch, non-comic-book Spider-Man stuff.

During that time, there was only one Spider-Man cartoon on syndication, there were no video games, and the only live-action adventures could be seen on Electric Company and a short-lived TV series featuring Nicholas Hammond. Th…

The Best Jaws 3D Fan Site Ever

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Shortly after the recent release of Piranha 3D, I considered doing a retrospective analysis of Jaws 3D, something along the lines of what I previously did for Jaws: The Revenge. Yet unlike Revenge, I have a soft spot for the third entry in the Jaws franchise because it was THE film that got me interested in 3D movies.

Before Jaws 3D, I had a ViewMaster toy and a few sets of reels, and I also knew about previous horror and sci-fi movies from the 50s that were shot in 3D—movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, House of Wax and It Came from Outer Space—courtesy of the Crestwood House books and their ilk. But Jaws 3D solidified in my mind just what the illusion of three dimensions meant in terms of movies (as well as comic books and later video games), thus starting my lifetime affair with 3D entertainment. Furthermore, Jaws 3D was the only one of the 3D movies from the early 80s that caught my eye, since it was the only film to offer the chance of seeing one of my favorite movie m…

My Deep Love of Deep Red

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Silly me. With all the hubbub of 2010 marking the 35th anniversary of Jaws and the 30th anniversary of Empire Strikes Back, I almost forgot that this year also marks the 35th anniversary of Deep Red (a.k.a. Profondo Rosso), Dario Argento's giallo masterpiece. I first saw Deep Red while I was in college and while I have seen many giallo flicks since then, none of them have been quite as memorable as this one.

For those of you who are new to this, giallo movies are basically Italian slasher films with a greater emphasis on mystery than their American counterparts. What makes Deep Red such a great film is that it does best what giallo movies are known for: mysteries that are solved not through physical evidence, but instead through deeply symbolic explorations of the killer's fragmented, deranged mind. (In some ways, giallo films have more in common with the silent German expressionist horror classics such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari than they do with standard murder mystery n…

Hell House: The Awakening: The Review

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A few days ago, I posted a brief preview of the upcoming Viper Comics graphic novel, Hell House: The Awakening by Chad Feehan and Ryan Dixon. In the intervening time, Mr. Dixon and the folks at Viper Comics were kind enough to send me an advance copy of Hell House for review. In a nutshell, if you like your horror subversive and somewhat controversial, then you’ll want to add Hell House to your collection when it arrives in comic shops and book stores at the end of this month. Continue reading past the break for the complete review.

A Look Back at Portable Video Games

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If you're out on the northwest coast this weekend and have a thing for retro video gaming, you might want to head on over to Portland, OR. On September 18 and 19, Portland will be hosting the 5th annual Portland Retro Gaming Expo. It looks like it's going to be a big batch of fun, with events including Nintendo 64 and Atari 2600 gaming tournaments and a cosplay/costume contest.

I grew up during the rise of video game arcades, and the rise and fall and rise again of the home video game consoles. Yet one area of video game history that usually gets overlooked by even hard-core video game aficionados are the portable video games, particularly the pre-Nintendo GameBoy units from the 70s and 80s.

To be sure, the majority of these games weren't very compelling. While arcade games were still exploring their expanding graphical and game play capabilities and the home consoles were racing to keep up with the arcades, the portable video games had even less at their disposal to creat…

Star Wars Fan Film in 3D & Teenage Son of Predator!

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It's a news headline so nice that I just have to say it twice: IT'S STAR WARS IN FREAKIN' 3D!!! Mind you, it's not official Lucasfilm-produced Star Wars; it's a fan-made CGI animated short called The Solo Adventures by Daniel L. Smith and Jeff Scheetz, a short that won Best Animated Feature at this year’s Star Wars Fan Movie Awards at Celebration V in Orlando, Florida. It's a great short by itself (the actor who does the voice of Han Solo sounds almost exactly like Harrison Ford) but the anaglyph 3D really makes this short something truly special to behold. For the first time, you get to see iconic Star Wars vehicles such as the Millennium Falcon, a Star Destroyer and TIE Fighters flying around in 3D. (Of course, you can also watch this same short in 2D, but where's the fun in that?)

I've known for quite some time now that George Lucas has considered converting all six of the Star Wars live action movies into 3D. However, I'm surprised that he hasn&#…

Hell Yes to Hell House: The Awakening & Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD (Updated)

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For all of you comic book hellions out there, you're in luck. This month marks the premiere publication of the Hell House: The Awakening graphic novel, written by Chad Feehan and Ryan Dixon and illustrated by Tsubasa Yozora, from indie publisher Viper Comics. Hell House: The Awakening details what happens when one of these seasonal, religiously-themed events is overrun by something genuinely supernatural. From what I heard in the previews, the end result ain't pretty.

(If by some odd chance that you don't know what a "Hell House" in this context is, you might want to check out the Hell House documentary from 2001. It should also be noted that this kind of Hell House should neither be confused with Richard Matheson's 1971 novel Hell House, nor its 1973 movie adaptation The Legend of Hell House.)

It just so happens that I know--or at least know of--half of this Hell House writing team. Years before he started writing comics, Ryan Dixon produced and directed a f…

"I Did NOT Jump The Shark!" Says TV Writer Who Pioneered Shark Jumping

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Just thought that y'all might find this commentary piece from the Los Angeles Times to be of interest--I know I did: "In defense of 'Happy Days' ' 'Jump the Shark' episode". It's a commentary piece by Fred Fox Jr., the writer who penned the episode of Happy Days where Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli (played by Henry Winkler) ski jumped over a shark.

Since the term "Jump the Shark" has been around since 1985, it's kind of odd to read this piece so long after the term first appeared. Fox uses his commentary to defend his creative decisions when writing the episode, and how the term "Jumping the Shark" does not apply to his episode in the context of Happy Days and its popularity. Yet for all of the assertions and recollections that he makes, Fox fails to cite the most obvious reason why this particular stunt was put in Happy Days in the first place: to capitalize on the popularity of Jaws and the anticipation of its the…

My Top Six Satan-Free Possession Movies

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Forgive me fellow horror movie fans, for I have sinned. I'm a self-professed horror movie fan, but demonic possession films neither scare me nor pique my interest in the slightest. Watching one of the recent previews of The Last Exorcism alone reminded me of my particular horror hangup, because to me it just looks like a camera crew taking on a really angry, feral contortionist (an escapee from Cirque du Soleil with rabies, perhaps?). Don't get me wrong--I think that the idea of one's mind and body being overtaken by a hostile, evil entity is compelling and makes for great horror. However, possession films that involve Satan, the Prince of Lies himself, or one of his minions simply leave me cold.

I suppose the reason for my disinterest is that unlike other movie monsters, Satan is also the key part of many religious belief systems; in my opinion, that's just way too much cultural and psychological baggage for a movie monster to bear. On the other hand, without the popu…

Mark Your Calendar: Drive-In Super Monster-Rama, September 10 and 11 in Vandergrift, PA

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There was a time when drive-in movie theaters were a popular venue of cinematic entertainment, but that time that has long since passed. Heck, I can count the number of times I've been to a drive-in on one hand, and all of those date back to the mid 80s. Nevertheless, the happy horror fans who run the DVD Drive-In Web site won't let this unique viewing format die just yet, which brings us to the fourth annual Drive-In Super Monster-Rama on September 10 and 11.

This two-night horror movie marathon will be held at the Riverside Drive-In Theatre in Vandergrift, PA, which is located outside of Pittsburgh. With the admission price set at only $10 per person each night, this is a sweet deal for any movie fanatic. Check out the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama site for more details. Here's a list of the films that will be playing:

Friday, September 10:
The Comedy of TerrorsThe Oblong BoxThe WitchmakerThe Incredible Melting Man
Saturday, September 11:
Frankenstein Created WomanFrankenstei…