Showing posts from August, 2011

Nerd Rant: Summer 2011 Wrap Up and the Demise of "New" Fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi

With August coming to a close, now is a good time to look back at the last three months of movie releases aimed at the fantasy, horror and sci-fi audiences. The way I see it, the summer of 2011 was largely divided into two halves: the first half consisted of superhero movies and the second half of remakes/reboots, with the release of the final Harry Potter movie, the adaptation of the seventh book in a best-selling novel series, unintentionally marking the halfway point between these two halves. Most of the other films that don't fit into these categories--namely, Cowboys and Aliens, the third Transformers movie, and Final Destination 5--are also based on some pre-existing material (Cowboys on a comic book, Transformers on a toy line and its tie-in cartoons, and Final Destination 5 on four previous films in a series). For as much as I have enjoyed many of these movies, they left me asking this question: Where did all the new stuff go?

When I say "new stuff" here, I'm…

The Thing Prequel and The Curse of The Prebootaquelmake

This October, Universal will release The Thing, the long-awaited prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (yes, you read that correctly). Judging from the teaser poster and trailer, the prequel aims to recapture the claustrophobic look and feel of Carpenter's movie. Recently released stills from the prequel and of the prequel's creature maquettes further confirm the prequel's fealty to the previous Thing film. With the prequel's dedication to capture all of the creative traits of Carpenter's movie, it leaves one to wonder if we'll be getting more of a remake of The Thing (which is a remake itself) than a prequel.

Carpenter's The Thing performed poorly at the box office in 1982, which was largely due to its release during the blockbuster run of another alien movie, E.T. Since then, there have been a handful of Thing comic books published by Dark Horse and an intense Thing video game released back in 2002, but none of these unofficial sequels to Carpenter'…

Incredible Change-Bots Graphic Novel Review: More Than Just Machines!

For as much as I love robot toys, I think that many of the narratives that have been built around them are frequently hokey and forgettable. Take the Transformers, for example: The toys themselves are creative, colorful and well-designed playthings, but the stories behind them are paper-thin pretenses to sell the toys. While there are still plenty of die-hard Transformers fans out there, I could never seriously accept the blatantly absurd premise of an ongoing war between anthropomorphic, shape-changing robots from outer space.

Thankfully, there's a graphic novel out there for both Transformers fans and naysayers alike: Incredible Change-Bots by Jeffrey Brown. Change-Bots tells the story of two warring groups of transforming robots, the good (yet dysfunctional) Awesomebots and the bad (yet incompetent) Fantasticons, and how they bring their unending and aimless conflict to Earth. Read on for my complete review.

Zombie Attack Engagement Photos: Till Undead Apocalypse Do We Part

Here's something you don't see every day: A series of engagement portrait photos that depict the happy soon-to-be-wed couple fighting off a member of the voraciously hungry undead. According to the Gothamist site, California photographer Amanda Rynda took the zombie attack photos at the request of the couple, who also provided their own zombie. Click here to see the complete set of engagement/zombie attack pics.

Zombie-themed marital activities are nothing new, although this is the first time that I've heard of a couple using a zombie attack as part of their engagement commemoration efforts. I suppose that couples who slay zombies together stay together, but I have yet to see anyone top last year's zombie wedding in Seattle where Bruce Campbell himself officiated the ceremony. For more examples of rotting, cannibalistic wedded bliss, check out the Zombie Wedding blog.

Attack of the Brain-Eating Amoebas

Here's a ghastly thing that has been making headlines lately: Naegleria fowleri, a.k.a. brain-eating amoebas. So far this summer, this microscopic mind-muncher has claimed the lives of three people in three different states: Virginia, Florida and Louisiana. According to MSNBC:

"Naegleria fowleri moves into the body through the nose and destroys brain tissue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bug causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, a nearly always fatal disease of the central nervous system, the CDC reported. ... Naegleria fowleri is usually found warm, stagnant water in freshwater lakes, ponds and rivers. It can also be found in wells."

The good news is that brain-eating amoeba infections are very rare, and there's no sign of any sort of outbreak at this time. Nevertheless, the Naegleria fowleri is one of nature's many ghoulish, nightmarish creepy-crawlies, ranking alongside flesh-eating bacteria, which destroys skin and muscl…

Nerd Rant: Seven Spectacular Sci-Fi Toys That Got Away

If you’ve been a horror/sci-fi nerd for as long as I have, then you’ll know this story well. You’re at a shopping mall or a toy store or a comic book shop, and you see a toy you’ve never seen before that captures something special about one of your favorite franchises. Maybe it’s a replica of something that hasn’t been made available any other way, or maybe it’s just plain cool in its concept. Regardless, you don’t have the money to buy it at the time, so you think that you’ll just pick it up later ... but you can’t, because you never see it again anywhere. Another variation of this story is that someone else tells you about a toy that’s everything you could ever ask for from a franchise replica, but you never get the chance to purchase it because none of the stores at your location carry it.

This post is devoted to seven such toys that I wanted to have in my personal collection but for whatever reason, it just never happened. Many of these toys are available on eBay right now but at p…

In Defense of Jaws 2

Before the summer movie season closes, I've decided to use a post to reminisce about one of my favorite summer monster movie sequels, Jaws 2.

There are some Jaws fans who consider ALL of the sequels--yes, even Jaws 2--to be unforgivable acts of cinematic sacrilege. (On the other hand, I only reserve that frustrated fan fury for Jaws: The Revenge.) Whatever its shortcomings are, Jaws 2 is actually a good ferocious fish tale. Sure, it was solely made to cash in on the popularity of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and it doesn't really do much to advance the story of Amity Island or any of its residents. Nevertheless, I will make this case in its favor: Jaws 2 captured the paranoid fears of the water that were instigated by the first Jaws movie. In other words, if Jaws made you paranoid that an enormous, toothy fish was waiting to devour you no matter what kind of body of water in which you were swimming, then Jaws 2 shamelessly exploited those fears by presenting several worst case scena…

Radiant: Cell Phone Gaming Gone Retro

Oh, cell phones...what can't they do? In addition to their telephone and text messaging duties, they also serve as a portable media player, a portable Internet browser, and a portable gaming system. I've used my cell phone for all of the other functions I just listed, but I never really caught on to the idea of using a cell phone to play video games. Of the handful that I've played, none of them were able to overcome the problem of having poor controllers. Cell phones weren't built primarily to play games, so naturally there aren't many buttons available to control whatever game you are playing.

Yet there is one game that I found that effectively utilizes my cell phone's limitations and provides a trip down nostalgia lane for those of us who remember when video game arcades were in every shopping mall and Atari ruled the world of home gaming consoles. The game is called Radiant, and it was produced by Hexage. Read on for my complete review.

The AvP Predalien Motorcycle: A Parasitic Space Monster for the Harley-Davidson Crowd

It looks like Bangkok-based artist Roongrojna Sangwongprisarn just did something that Ducati hasn't gotten around to yet. Using discarded parts from cars, motorcycles and bicycles, Roongrojna built a motorcycle in the form of the Predalien hybrid from Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (hospital maternity ward/alien hive not included). Check it out:

You can read more about Roongrojna's biomechanical bike at the Oddity Central site. This is a pretty sweet ride, and I think it's also very cool that it bears some similarites to the early conceptual art of the Moto-Terminator robot (see below) that was in Terminator Salvation.

Vizio 3D TV Update: The Return of The Anaglyph

Last April, I published a post about the wonders of the Vizio 47-inch TruLED LCD 3D HDTV that my wife and I picked up for our viewing pleasure. In the months since then, we bought two pairs of 3D glasses to go with our Vizio HDTV and Blu-ray player combo. On the basis of what we've watched since getting the 3D glasses, I've come to three conclusions:

1. Between the availability of HDTVs, high definition Blu-ray discs, and CGI special effects and animation, I think that the era of home 3D entertainment has finally arrived.

2. Sadly, even though home 3D entertainment is here, not all of it is created equal. We've watched high-definition 3D videos on our Vizio HDTV from two different sources: on demand 3D videos from our cable provider and 3D Blu-rays. Between the two, the Blu-rays have provided an overall better quality of 3D entertainment, but even that level of quality is not always guaranteed. For example, the 3D Blu-ray of Tron Legacy is almost flawless, while the 3D Blu-r…

The Astonishing Art of Sym-Bionic Titan

A few weeks ago, I published a post about Cartoon Network's cancellation of Sym-Bionic Titan, Genndy Tartakovsky's most recent animated TV series. Through Titan, Tartakovsky breathed new life into the standard big 'bot cartoon formula through the successful combination of sly, self-aware humor, complex characters, and a diverse world that grew in scope and complexity with each successive episode. After the show's cancellation was announced, devoted Titan fans launched their own campaigns to get the show renewed. Last week, a Facebook community named "Help Sym-Bionic Titan Get Another Season" published some pictures of the background art that was used during the production of Titan's episodes.

I am re-posting these pictures here (click on the link below to see the full gallery), because they prove two things: 1) that Titanreally needs to be renewed because no other animated show has ever looked this good, and 2) that Tartakovsky is an artist in the truest s…

Marvel Flashback: Syndicated Spider-Man Cartoon, 1981-1982

If you grew up in the 1980s like I did, it's safe to assume that you heard about Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, a cartoon that aired on NBC on Saturday mornings from 1981 to 1983. However, it's not safe to assume that the same people have heard of the syndicated Spider-Man cartoon that ran on weekdays from 1981 to 1982. I know I sure didn't.

I normally wouldn't do a post about a little-known superhero cartoon, except to say that I regard it as a personal discovery. That's one of the joys of being a horror/sci-fi geek: finding the little oddities and obscurities in the genres that you love so much, even when you think that you know all that there is to know about your sources of obsessive geekery. It's kind of like finding out that Larry Hagman himself directed Beware! The Blob (a.k.a. Son of the Blob), the one and only sequel to The Blob, or that Kenner goofed up some of the actionfigures in its Star Wars toy line. Read on to learn more about this little-kn…