Posts

Showing posts from September, 2011

Pictures of Insect Men: A Retrospective Analysis of the Mimic Trilogy

Image
This week marks the release of the Mimic director's cut on Blu-ray, which includes all sorts of brand new goodies. I haven't gotten my copy yet, but I will soon. I heard that even though the new cut still doesn't have the ending that Guillermo del Toro wanted, it's closer to his original vision than the theatrical cut. I've also heard that del Toro's commentary track provides a lot interesting details as to how Mimic became less about what he wanted and more about what the producers wanted. (Then again, I don't think that the new director's cut further explores one of Mimic's grimly funny ideas, that a population of giant carnivorous insects could grow under the very nose of America's largest city but as long as the critters stay in the shadows and relegate their carnivorous diet to society's outcasts--the homeless, stray animals, and larger vermin such as rats--no one would really notice.)

Until I can put my two cents in about the new cut, h…

A Look Back at the 1979 Spider-Woman Cartoon

Image
It's not easy being a female superhero, especially if you're the less popular female version of a widely known male superhero. For example, while DC Comics makes oodles of cash from the popularity of Superman and Batman, it often seems completely clueless as to what to do with Supergirl, Batgirl and Batwoman.

Over at Marvel, there's Spider-Woman, the female counterpart of one of Marvel's most popular character, Spider-Man. Between 1977 to today, there have been at least three Spider-Women in the Marvel Universe--four if you include the one super villain who assumed the same name. The first Spider-Woman was Jessica Drew, who had her own comic book series that ran from 1978 to 1983. Unlike the other Spider-Women, Drew also had her own short-lived animated TV series that aired on ABC on Saturday mornings in 1979.

I vaguely remember seeing the Spider-Woman cartoon on Saturday mornings way back when I was just a wee lad, so I decided to track down all 16 episodes of the serie…

Bones, Bugs, and Botany: The Skeletal Sculptures of Cedric Laquieze

Image
Question: What do you get when you mix together animal skeletons, dead insects, and plastic flowers? Answer: A series of sculptures by Amsterdam-based sculptor Cedric Laquieze. For as ghastly as such a combination may sound, his unique combination of organic shapes and colors result in some fascinating artwork that evokes both the wonderous diversity of life and inescapable conclusion of death. For some reason, his flowers and bones sculptures remind me of artwork associated with the Mexican holiday known as Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

Laquieze's work has been exhibited in locations such as Paris, Belgium, Italy, and Germany, and you can read more about him on his blog. Click below for some examples of Laquieze's creations.

Top Picks: 2011 Sci-Fi and Superhero Christmas Ornaments

Image
With September here, merchandise for the big three holidays--Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas--is currently flooding the shelves of stores everywhere. As sure as the leaves change color in the fall, this tidal wave of merchandising also includes geek-pandering Christmas ornaments. Highly-detailed and highly-affordable miniatures are like catnip to me, so here are my recommendations for this year's ornaments. While I couldn't find any ornaments to recommend that would fit into the category of horror, there are plenty of others left in the areas of science fiction and superheroes. Read on ...

The Creature Flops Among Us

Image
From what I've been reading, the new monster movie Creature has been setting box office records--although not the kind of records any movie should want to set. According to Box Office Mojo, Creature currently holds the distinction of having the fifth lowest-grossing opening on record for a nationwide release and the second-worst in terms of per-location average, with an estimated per-showing attendance at less than six people. I didn't think much of this at first, until I heard who the lead producer of this z-grade movie was and arranged for its theatrical run: Sidney Sheinberg, former President of Universal Pictures.

Sheinberg has been credited with "discovering" Steven Spielberg and using his position at Universal to support (and lavishly profit from) many of Spielberg's most popular movies, starting with Jaws and concluding with Jurassic Park. However, just because a movie mogul discovers and cultivates a talented movie director doesn't make the mogul hims…

REC 2, Quarantine 2, and the Limits of Found Footage Filmmaking

Image
I love found footage movies. When they're done right, they live up to their name of being "found footage"--namely, film and/or video footage that was "found" and edited together for our viewing (dis)pleasure. They're like horror films told solely from the victim's perspective: no cutaway shots to the monsters, ghosts, and/or madmen, no background music to let you know when something bad is about to happen. On the other hand, when found footage films are done wrong, they are either dreadfully boring (such as The Wicksboro Incident) or the story that the filmmakers want to tell doesn't really fit the found footage style of filmmaking, so they abruptly break with the style at some point during the movie. This break usually happens towards the end, when footage is inserted that either wasn't found (such as The Last Broadcast) or couldn't be found because the logic of the story clearly indicates that the footage would've been destroyed before…

Iron Man: Armored Adventures Season One Review

Image
As adaptations go, cartoons that are based on popular superhero comic books are in a class of their own. Unlike superhero movies that are limited to approximately two hours per film, superhero cartoons consist of multiple episodes and can thus better emulate the serialized storytelling style found in comic books. On the other hand, both superhero cartoons and films follow the same narrative strategy of retelling the origin of the superhero in question and the origins of the most popular super villains in his rogues gallery, largely for the sake of new fans. Some retellings are mostly faithful to its source material, while other retellings take many creative liberties. Leaning towards the side of "many creative liberties" is the Iron Man: Armored Adventures series, which is will soon be airing its second season on Nicktoons.

When Armored Adventures first appeared in 2009, I didn't give it much thought because it took many of the characters and plot points from the Iron Man…

Futurama's New (Old) Groove

Image
Last night, Futurama wrapped up its sixth season on Comedy Central, a season that lasted 26 episodes and two summers. (Yes, two summers. That's how cable channels do things, I guess.) This is the first full season of weekly, half-hour episodes that Futurama has had since it was cancelled on Fox back in 2003. While season six got off to a rocky start, I'm happy to say that the second half of the season show that Futurama has finally returned to form.

As I wrote last summer when season six started, Futurama already had a rough time finding its comic footing during the unusual demands that were placed on it by Comedy Central during season five. As season six got underway, the first few episodes felt like the writers were testing the waters of half-hour, stand-alone episodes again, along with the new levels of raunchiness that they were permitted on Comedy Central. These early episodes, such as "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela", "Proposition Infinity" and "A Clockwork …

Ten Horror and Sci-Fi Films That Should Be Remade

Image
During the last few weekends, a series of horror and sci-fi movie remakes have appeared at the box office. Remakes of Conan the Barbarian, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Fright Night and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which is a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes) have already been released, and a remake of Straw Dogs is scheduled for release in a few days. It appears that the big studios are determined to remake as many of their big name horror and sci-fi franchises as possible, for no other reason that they want a "sure thing"--namely, franchises that already have devoted fan bases--instead of taking the financial risk of investing in something new and unproven.

What I believe is that if remakes are what the studios want to produce to save money and minimize, then they should be doing is remaking movies they already own but weren't complete successes in their original incarnations for the sake of improving them with better creative teams and better budgets…

Great Moments in Found Footage History: Incident in Lake County (1998)

Image
This last weekend saw the release of Apollo 18, a "found footage" horror film that depicts NASA's last, top secret visit to the moon and explains the real reason why no one has returned to the moon since then. While Apollo 18 is entirely fictitious, that hasn't stopped the film's producers from courting the moon conspiracy audience by claiming that the film is actually a documentary and sponsoring a conspiracy theory-laden Web site called "LunarTruth.com", a site that is advertised in Apollo 18 itself. (Space.com and The Los Angeles Times have more information about NASA's reaction to Apollo 18.)

This isn't the first time that a found footage film has blurred the line between fact and fiction as part of its promotional campaign. Such a tactic was key to the success of The Blair Witch Project (1999), which went a long way towards convincing some viewers that the events depicted in the Blair Witch movie actually happened. Sometimes, such an approac…