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Showing posts from September, 2013

Get Your RC Geek on with Wow! Stuff's Six-Legged Attacknid

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I've ranted before about how the Terminator franchise really needs a much better selection of scale-accurate replicas of Skynet's vast army of kill 'bots, and I think that's especially true in the area of remote control (RC) toys. So far, there has only been one officially licensed RC toy replica of a Terminator vehicle, the aerial HK unit from Terminator Salvation; otherwise, the only other RC Terminator replicas that I know of are ones made by extremely tech-savvy fans.

However, even though we'll never see an official Lego Mindstorms version of a T-600 or a T-1 tank, there are other RC toys that toy collecting Terminator fans can use as substitutes to terrorize their action figure collections. A WooWee Robosapien toy could be used as a substitute for a Harvester, a quadcopter could be used as a substitute for an aerial HK, and a Kid Galaxy Cybercycle could be used as a substitute for a Moto-Terminator. Even the rarely seen HK Centurion and T-7T Tetrapod now have …

Goodbye, Bay Harbor Butcher: A Look Back at Dexter (2006 - 2013)

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I remember reading a quote from Alfred Hitchcock a while back, although I can't find the exact source from where it originated. It was during an interview, and Hitchcock was asked about how to evoke an audience's sympathy for an anti-hero such as a criminal. He said that to have a sympathetic anti-hero, he can't just be what's normally thought of as a "bad guy"; he has to be the best at whatever vice he practices (e.g., bank robbery, art theft, high-profile assassinations, etc.) and, as long as he is portrayed by a handsome and charming actor, audiences will cheer the anti-hero along as long as he strives to maintain his reputation as the best. Hitchcock recognized that it's human nature to support hard work and success and his approach to anti-heroes proved that under the right circumstances, this support can be twisted around to cheer on theft, violence, excessive bloodshed, and death. Thus, while petty thieves, impoverished drug dealers and second-rate…

Alien Abductees Get Even in Altered (2006)

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As movie monsters go, filmmakers have gotten plenty of mileage from the concept of extraterrestrial threats. There have been countless movies about high-tech alien invaders (War of the Worlds, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers), parasitic alien biology (Alien, The Thing), and too-close-for-comfort contact with an alien intelligence (Fire in the Sky, The Fourth Kind). In the midst of this crowded field of alien terrors is Altered, a 2006 creature feature that was directed and co-written by Eduardo Sánchez, co-writer and co-director of The Blair Witch Project.

Altered is about four men who were abducted and tortured by alien visitors when they were teenagers. After years of unsuccessfully coping with the trauma they endured, three of the men decide to hunt down and capture one of the visitors as an act of retribution; yet once they capture an alien, they're not completely sure of what they should do next. To make matters worse, their alien captive isn't quite as helpless as he looks a…

Toy Collecting Reaches a New Level of Excess with Gentle Giant's Six Foot Kenner Stormtrooper Action Figure

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Last year, I posted two rants (click here and here) about Gentle Giant's release of "Jumbo" 12 inch replicas of 3 and 3/4 inch figures from Kenner's Star Wars toy line that was released during the late 70s. I couldn't--and still can't--comprehend the appeal of buying a larger scale replica of an action figure at a price point that's ridiculously higher than the original.

Of course, leave it up to me to underestimate the power of the toy collectors market. Since my 2012 rants, the 12 inch Jumbo line has expanded to include replicas of many Kenner figures from Empire Strikes Back (including the Wampa) and it looks like it will go on to include many Kenner Return of the Jedi figure replicas as well. With the Jumbo series proving to be a hit, Gentle Giant has decided to get even giant-er by releasing a limited edition six foot tall replica of Kenner's Stormtrooper action figure (complete with removable blaster), which will be released in 2014 for $2,300. T…

Two Great Tron Games That Aren't Really Tron Games: escapeVektor and Light Trax

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After all these years, I'm still baffled over Disney's mishandling of the Tron franchise: Given the original film's premise and the popularity of its first arcade game, Disney could have used Tron to break into the video game market through a series of games set inside of a computer world. Instead, Disney's licensing of Tron games has been uneven and largely underwhelming. After the original arcade game in 1982, there was another arcade game in 1983, Discs of Tron, and a handful of Tron titles for the Atari and Intellivision home consoles. That batch of games was followed by ... 20 years of nothing.

The impressive Tron 2.0 came out in 2003 but between lackluster sales and poor support from Disney, that game quickly faded into cult classic status while other game franchises thrived. Since Tron 2.0, Tron characters have appeared from time to time in the Kingdom Hearts video game series, and a selection of tie-in games of varying quality were released under the collective…

Weekend Detention Becomes a Death Sentence in Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012)

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When a movie opens with a SWAT team bursting into a school library to find a teenager holding a bloody fire ax and surrounded by corpses--one of which being so fresh that it hasn't even collapsed to the floor yet--you know you're in for something different. Such is the case of Bad Kids Go to Hell, a 2012 movie that was directed and co-written by Matthew Spradlin. Spradlin based this movie on his best-selling graphic novel of the same name; however, because I haven't read the graphic novel yet, I can't say how faithful the movie is to its source material and which one is better.

After its jarring first scene, Bad Kids Go to Hell goes back eight hours to when six students at Crestview Academy, an upper-class private school, arrive for a day-long session of Saturday detention in their school's library. When one of them suddenly dies under suspicious circumstances, the other students begin to fear for their own lives. Is there a killer in their midst, or is something e…

Xevious Reborn: Hot Wheels RC Terrain Twister

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It's amazing how something things never go away. They just appear again under a different name.

Early this year, I did a retrospective piece about Namco's classic arcade game Xevious, its sequels, spin-offs and model kits. One of the items that I looked at was a Grobda model kit, a kit based on one of the enemy vehicles in Xevious that also had its own spin-off arcade game Grobda. As you can see in the model picture below, a Grobda tank doesn't have continuous track treads; instead, it has two spinning corkscrew tubes that propel it across terrain and over the water.




The Grobda tank makes for an interesting-looking detail in a video game, but who would want to actually see something like this move in the real world? Fast forward to today, where we now have the Hot Wheels RC Terrain Twister toy, which I have pictured below. Notice any similarities?




Apparently, this toy has been around for a while. It was first released almost a decade ago by Tyco under the same name "Terr…

Support Interactive Digital Insanity Through the Neverending Nightmares Kickstarter Campaign

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Just as the falling prices of film and video production equipment has spurred the work of independent filmmakers, the falling prices of computer technology has likewise spurred the work of independent video game developers. Of particular note is an upcoming project called Neverending Nightmares by Matt Gilgenbach, an indie horror game that is advertised as being "inspired by the developer's battle with mental illness." Sweet!

According to the description provided inspired by Gilgenbach on the Kickstarter page he set up to raise funds for his game, "Neverending Nightmares is a psychological horror game inspired by the real horror of my battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. It features a truly interactive narrative structure allowing you to shape the outcome of the game. It will take the psychological horror genre in a new direction by eschewing many traditions that don’t contribute to creating an immersive horrifying experience such as limited save…

Phantom Sharks and Mutant Alligators Come to Life at Shark City Ozark

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For as glamorous as it looks from the outside, the entertainment industry is an extremely tough business. For every international superstar, there are thousands of actors, directors, writers and production crew members who are struggling to get by in such a demanding, hyper-competitive business. This is especially true for practical special effects artists: With Hollywood's desire to go digital, artists who aim to keep practical effects alive in both movies and television are facing increasingly steeper challenges from production companies that see CGI as sure-fire means of saving time and money--albeit at the steep expense of quality effects work and fan satisfaction.

Entering the fray of practical special effects services is Shark City Ozark (SCO), a creature effects shop in Missouri. I've been in contact with SCO about their latest projects, the recent SyFy production of Ghost Shark (read my review here) and the upcoming Ragin' Cajun Redneck Gators, which airs on SyFy th…