Showing posts from August, 2010

Sci-Fi Geekery in American History

A few weeks ago, the Mrs. and I took a few friends to the National Mall in Washington DC to look around some of the museums. While each of the museums have their own sci-fi geek-friendly content, I was suprised to see quite a few references to 20th century sci-fi movies and TV shows in the National Museum of American History--both in the main hall and elsewhere. Click below to see a my photo gallery of federally recognized historical nerdity.

Campy, Kooky Commercials Worth Watching: Roaches and Ferrets Gone Wild!

In our modern era of online video downloads, online DVD rentals and digital video recording, I find myself blessed to have so many options to avoid watching commercials (that is, except for when I show up early at the movie theater--who'da thunk that?). Yet in spite of these options, I still find myself catching a commercial here and there on TV and believe it or not, some of them are still worth watching. In particular, I'm talking about this Orkin commercial, as pictured above.

Yes, I know that Orkin has been using human-sized, talking bugs as part of their recent ad campaign, which draws heavy visual influences from the classic movie Them! and David Cronenberg's hallucinatory adaptation of The Naked Lunch (yes, a film about an exterminator who gets high from pesticide chemicals is used as stylistic inspiration for an ad campaign for an extermination service), and that this particular commercial has been on the air for months. Being the big bug movie fan that I am, I thi…

Ass Kicking and Kid Sidekicks

A few days ago I watched the DVD releases of Kick-Ass and Batman: Under the Red Hood. Kick-Ass is the big screen adaptation of the comic book series of the same name by Mark Millar, who also did Wanted. Batman: Under the Red Hood is the animated adaptation by DC of the recent comic book storyline about the death and resurrection of one of Batman’s sidekicks, Jason Todd (formerly known as the dead Robin, now known as the Robin gone bad). Of the two movies, Kick-Ass is the better film, with a great script, great cast and great direction by Matthew Vaughn. On the other hand, Red Hood has above-average animation, moody atmosphere, thrilling fight scenes and an excellent voice cast, but the story gets lost in a convoluted series of plot twists and inconsistent character development arcs that fail to build to a satisfying conclusion. Indeed, the story of a mysterious masked figure who arrives in Gotham City to murder several gangsters culminating in a final showdown with Batman that somehow…

Attack of the Giant Lawn Ornament, Part 2: Revenge of Survivor!

When we last left the big bug lawn ornament in Stoystown, PA, I posted a bunch of pictures on this blog to give you a clear picture of what this 9 foot tall fiberglass mantis looks like. Since then, I've been able to speak directly to the bug's owners at the Second Time Around shop, and they provided plenty of extra information to me about this unique display:

The big bug's official name is "Survivor", which was selected as part of a fundraising contest for Easter Seals.Before arriving at Second Time Around, Survivor's previous owner was the proprietor of the Roof Garden Gift Shop in Boswell, PA, which burned down in 1984. The owner purchased Survivor somewhere in Virginia in 1964, along with a companion piece: a large brontosaurus, which is now located in Altoona, PA. (Imagine what kind of spectacular monster movie that would be--Giant Bronto vs. Mega-Mantis!)The owners of Second Time Around regularly dress up Survivor for various events and holidays, such as…

Attack of the Giant Lawn Ornament, Part 1 (Updated)

If you have ever lost a lawn ornament--say, a pink flamingo or a garden gnome--my guess is that they were probably eaten by this guy:

I found this 9 foot tall mammoth mantis near Second Time Around, a second hand store in Stoystown, while wandering around the back roads of southwestern Pennsylvania. So, I thought I'd snap a few pics of it for my photo collection of the odd and kitschy. Click the link below for the full gallery.

Remake Double Take: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

I can't help but to feel sorry for the horror genre of movies these days. Of all of the other genres out there, horror seems to be the one that is most likely to be subjected to remakes, reboots or "reimaginings". Often, these are remakes of movies that didn't need to be remade at all: The Haunting, Carnival of Souls, Psycho, Halloween, The Omen, Amityville Horror, Black Christmas, The Stepford Wives, Prom Night, Nightmare on Elm Street, the list goes on and on with no end in sight.

In my opinion, remakes are only worthwhile if they do one of two things: either they bring something different to the story that's distinct but is still faithful to the original narrative's internal logic, or they redo a movie that had potential to be great but for whatever reason didn't completely succeed in its initial cinematic incarnation. In the first category, there are remakes such as The Thing, The Fly and The Blob, each based on classic films but are different and effe…

Great Moments in Movie Spoiler History: The Empire Strikes Back

Being the pack rat that I am, I was digging through my old Star Wars print paraphernalia the other day when I found issue 41 of Prevue magazine from 1980 that was devoted to the then-upcoming release of the eagerly anticipated Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. This Prevue issue featured interviews with director Irvin Kershner, production designer Ralph McQuarrie, Star Wars creator George Lucas, and Al Williamson, the artist who worked on Marvel Comics' adaptation of Empire. The issue also had a fantastic wrap-around cover by graphic artist Jim Steranko, who was also the editor of Prevue. (Sadly, because I was just a wee lad when I got this issue, I didn't think to protect this super-awesome cover from the ravages of time.) To view and/or download images of this issue's cover and interviews, continue reading past the jump.

Yet what really makes this issue a treasure for Star Wars fans is not just the magazine's content, but a tantalizing bit from Prevue's le…

Jaws: The Interactive Experience

In the modern era of interactive entertainment, movie fans of all stripes have plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves within their favorite cinematic adventures, either through amusement park rides with cutting-edge technology or through video games with high-definition, three-dimensional graphics. Unfortunately, one of my favorite movies, Jaws, hasn't found the proper interactive niche to provide the uneasiness and shocks that a true immersive monster shark attack simulation should provide.

So far, the Jaws video games have been a bust. The 1987 Jaws game for the Nintendo Entertainment System had the dual drawbacks of being based on Jaws: The Revenge and having game play that was somewhat reminiscent of Activision's very scare-less Seaquest for the Atari 2600. Jaws Unleashed, for all of its vicarious violence and delightful destruction, featured no scares at all because you play as the shark. (In the game's defense, the levels of Jaws Unleashed which were based on s…

Mini-Review of Despicable Me

In keeping with my trend of reviewing movies weeks after their initial release, here are my thoughts on one of this summer's CGI cartoon releases, Despicable Me. I had some hesitations going into this movie, because all of the previews made it appear that the plot of Despicable Me was yet another one of those young-waifs-melt-the-heart-of-a-chronic-scrooge-making-him/her-a-lovable-softie exercises that Hollywood loves to churn out to earn a quick buck from the PG-rated crowd. It turned out that I was right--that is the basic plot of Despicable Me. Yet what I wasn't expecting was to see this plot fueled by a series of sight gags and absurd comic sequences that riotously send up the cinematic staples of mad scientists and James Bond-esque megalomaniacal villains. Indeed, if you like your scientists crazy and your villains gadget-savvy and globe-trotting, then Despicable Me is the summer comedy for you. Also worthy of note is that the humor in Despicable Me successfully evokes th…