Showing posts from November, 2011

Santa "Scarface" Claus Says, "Say Hello-Ho-Ho to My Little Friend!"

It looks like we've come a long way from the days when kids were told that they'd shoot their eyes out if they got Red Ryder BB guns for Christmas.

"In this country, you gotta make the toys first. When you make the toys,  you then get the guns. When you get the guns, then you get the power."
From Seattle PI: "An Arizona gun club is offering a chance for children and their families to pose for photos with Santa while holding pistols and military-style rifles. ... Ron Kennedy, general manager of the Scottsdale Gun Club, said the business got the idea for the photo op last year when a club member happened to come in dressed as Santa and other members wanted their picture taken while they were holding their guns. ... Kennedy, whose club offers guns for sale and rental and has a 32-lane indoor shooting range, said the event wasn't aimed at children, but the club supports the right of parents to include their children in the photos and believes that's a personal …

The Muppets Review: The Return of Everyone's Favorite Felt Friends

Reviving dormant franchises for new audiences can be a tricky thing, particularly when it comes to franchises that are based on animated characters. As in any franchise revival, there's always the tension between appealing to new fans while maintaining the interest of the original fans; very rarely do these rival tensions balance evenly. When it comes to animated characters, the common approaches to revival appear to be either dumbing down the characters to appeal to kids (for the sake of merchandising), or putting the characters in the "real world" alongside known actors (for the sake of celebrity name recognition value), or both. These strategies rarely work, but they've succeeded just enough for Hollywood to keep them in their franchise revival playbook.

On the other hand, there are the title characters of the new movie The Muppets. They aren't cartoon characters but they are closely associated with kid-friendly entertainment, and they've had a long history…

The Narrative of Victor Karloch: Haunted Horrors in Miniature

A friend of mine just let me know about a movie project that sounds like a unique exercise in the genre of horror: The Narrative of Victor Karloch, by Spirit Cabinet.

According to the Spirit Cabinet site, "Victor Karloch is a Victorian ghost story puppet film and live stage performance (at selected theaters) produced by Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams Films and The Jim Henson Foundation. ... The film incorporates 30" tall bunraku-style rod puppets, shadow puppetry, traditional in-camera effects, and digital atmospheric effects to present a gothic tale narrated by Victor Karloch, an alchemist, ghost hunter, and scholar who has devoted his life to the exploration of the supernatural." Victor Karloch was written by Kevin McTurk, a special effects artist whose previous projects include Batman Returns, Jurassic Park, and King Kong, and it will feature the vocal talents of Christopher Lloyd, Chris Parnell, Lance Henriksen, and Doug Jones.

Judging from the preview tr…

Batman: Brave and the Bold Bids Farewell, while Young Justice has a Haunting Halloween

Last weekend, Cartoon Network aired the series finale of Batman: Brave and the Bold. The final episode, titled "Mitefall!", was written by noted DC vet Paul Dini. In "Mitefall!", inter-dimensional fanboy Batmite has grown tired of Brave and the Bold and decides to sabotage the show so that it will be cancelled and replaced by a darker, more dramatic Batman series. In a curious twist, this is the only episode of Brave and the Bold that isn't so much of a tribute to the Silver Age of DC Comics as it is a satirical jab at how TV shows--both live-action and animated alike--"jump the shark". Each of Batmite's strategies to undermine Brave and the Bold are textbook examples of shark jumping, such as the addition of cute yet superfluous characters, needlessly changing central locations, and casting Ted McGinley. Yet for as unusual as this episode is, it still makes for a fitting finale to one of the smartest Batman shows to air on TV. Adding to the final…

Rest In Peace 2 Review: The Chronicles of ChromeSkull

For as much as I love them, slasher films just aren't what they used to be. Naturally, it's hard to recapture the golden era of the slasher film when this horror subgenre was relatively new (at least here in the U.S., anyway), an era that started during the late 70s and began to wane during the mid-80s. Yet for a straightforward plot structure that revolves around a masked and/or disfigured psychopath with a perchance for killing sprees, it seems that the time where slashers can reach the iconic status previously achieved by the likes of Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger is largely over.

This is not to say that horror filmmakers have given up their efforts to create memorable movie murderers. Case in point: ChromeSkull, the resident killer in the Laid to Rest movies. When he first appeared in 2009, not much was revealed about this bald, hulking masked killer other than his real name (Jesse Cromeans), his passion for killing lots and lots of people with his big, …

Green Lantern Arrives On Cartoon Network, with DC Nation Scheduled for 2012

Last weekend, Cartoon Network aired the one-hour premiere of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, the new CGI cartoon that's devoted to DC's top space cop. This series stands out for two reasons: It's the first DC cartoon series that's completely CGI, and it's the first DC TV series in a long time that doesn't directly involve Superman, Batman, or one of their supporting characters (such as Robin). Even though the box office performance of the live-action Green Lantern movie from last summer didn't live up to Time-Warner's expectations, it's nice to see that they're still willing to invest time and money into Green Lantern, with the hopes that they'll do the same for other DC characters.

For a first episode, the premiere of Green Lantern was fun to watch. It involved Hal Jordan and his ally Kilowog traveling to a remote area of space where Green Lanterns are being killed off by an unknown assailant. From what I could determine from the premier…

Eerie Publications' Horror Comics Cover Art: Once, Twice, Three Times the Terror

During the Halloween season the other week, the Monster Brains blog did a series of posts devoted to the comic book cover art from the various horror titles published by Eerie Publications during the 60s and 70s. These anthology titles included Witches' Tales, Tales of Voodoo, Weird, Terror Tales, Tales From The Tomb and Horror Tales. The covers of these comics are fantastic examples of pulp horror art, both grisly and lurid (and somewhat sleazy) in equal measure. I'm convinced that the artists who produced the colorful VHS cover art for low budget horror movies during the 80s were heavily influenced by these comics.

Yet what surprised me when viewing the cover posted by Monster Brains was how much Eerie Publications reused the same art across their various titles. Not all of the covers are repeats, but just enough are that it's hard not to notice. I suppose there are only so many ways that a comic book artist can show people being bitten, stabbed, dismembered and decapitat…

Puss In Boots Review: A Comedic Computer-Generated Cat Caper in 3D

When I first heard that DreamWorks was planning a movie spin-off to their Shrek franchise that featured Puss in Boots as the main character, I was somewhat skeptical. After all, Shrek was scraping the bottom of the barrel of fairy tale satire by the end of its four-movie run, so I couldn't imagine that there'd be much left for a stand-alone Puss in Boots movie. Thankfully, I was proven wrong: Puss in Boots is a fun, goofy adventure that's fit for audiences of all ages.

Puss in Boots follows the adventures of its titular character (voiced by Antonio Banderas) as he partners with mastermind Humpty "Alexander" Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) and feline thief extraordinaire Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) for a big score: the fabled golden egg-laying goose from a particular giant-dwelling castle in the clouds.

Puss in Boots isn't as cheeky as the Shrek movies, and that ultimately works in its favor. Instead of saturating the script with pop culture references and taking re…

JawsFest 3 Premieres in Chicopee, MA

Last December, I posted a review of two JawsFest DVDs produced by Lou and Dianna "Yana" Pisano (you can see the review here). These fan-made DVDs are feature-length love letters to the Jaws franchise, and they provide Jaws fans with footage of the original JawsFest event that was held in 2005 and tours of various locations throughout Martha's Vineyard where scenes from three of the Jaws movies were shot. Now, almost a year later, the Pisanos have completed the third and final chapter of the their Jaws fan appreciation trilogy, JawsFest 3: The Invasion of JawsFest '10, and they held a premiere showing of it last weekend in Chicopee, Massachusetts. From what I've heard, the event was a big success in spite of the unexpected snow storm that slammed the east coast during the last weekend of October.

JawsFest 3 is a two-disc DVD set, with over three hours of Jaws fan-friendly footage. One of the bonus features is a documentary produced and directed by Justin White call…

Ten Terminator Toys That Should Be Made

When it comes to collecting toys, models and miniatures, it's not easy being a Terminator fan. Unlike the larger and more popular sci-fi franchises such as Star Wars and Star Trek, the number of scale replicas for particular robots and vehicles from the Terminator franchise are limited in variety, are often hard to find, and can be very expensive. Here's a list of Terminator robots and vehicles that should be made available in some form (a die-cast miniature, a highly-detailed toy, etc.) for those who enjoy collecting killer machines from the future.

Oxitec is Remaking Mimic--with Mosquitoes!

My, how times have changed. In the 1997 movie Mimic, scientists genetically engineer a breed of insect that's intended to reduce the population of cockroaches in New York City that are spreading a lethal virus. Fast-forward to 2011, and such a premise is no longer science fiction. According to last Sunday's edition of The New York Times:

"Researchers on Sunday reported initial signs of success from the first release into the environment of mosquitoes engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, killing them before they reach adulthood. The results, and other work elsewhere, could herald an age in which genetically modified insects will be used to help control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria. ... Authorities in the Florida Keys, which in 2009 experienced its first cases of dengue fever in decades, hope to conduct an open-air test of the modified mosquitoes as early as December, pending approval from the Agriculture Departme…