Showing posts from April, 2012

Great Moments in Slasher Film History: Bay of Blood (1971)

As horror films go, giallo movies are among my favorites. I enjoy the subgenre's weaving of pulp mystery characterizations and plot devices into its tales of blood-soaked terror, an attribute that sets it apart from its American counterpart, the slasher subgenre. Despite their differences, the Italian giallo did inspire the American slasher, particularly in the case of Mario Bava's 1971 movie Bay of Blood (a.k.a. Twitch of the Death Nerve, a.k.a. Reazione a Catena). Critics have credited Bay of Blood as being the giallo movie that most obviously influenced the slasher film craze in the U.S. during the 80s--particularly Friday the 13th Part 2, which copied a few of Bay of Blood's death scenes almost shot for shot.

I just saw Bay of Blood for the first time the other week, and here are some thoughts about this gory gem and unique relationship to slasher films and the giallo subgenre itself. Read on....

When Hotties and Horrors Collide at Atomic Cheesecake Studios

Pinup models and pulp art for horror and sci-fi go together like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, and hacking and slashing. This has been a winning combination for decades, adding curves and creeps to countless movie posters and covers of novels, magazines and comic books. Yet with many modern horror and sci-fi posters and publications trending towards heavily photoshopped pictures, what will become of this dynamic duo that fired the feverish imaginations of fantasy and fright fans for so long?

Meet Stacey Barich. She owns and operates Atomic Cheesecake Studios in Baltimore, Maryland where she specializes in portrait photography that captures the classic pinup look that was popular during the 40s and 50s. Given her choice of style, her models often pose with classic fashions, cars, furniture and other items from the Atomic Age. Click here to read an interview with Barich over at the Pinup Directory site. She will also have a special edition of Retro Lovely Magazine completely…

Gentle Giant's Jumbo Vintage Star Wars Action Figures: A Super-Sized Success or a Giant Gyp?

As geek collectible companies go, I've usually been satisfied by the license selection and quality of work provided by Gentle Giant. However, their recent line of Jumbo Vintage Star Wars Action Figures has left me baffled.

For those of you who don't know about this line of collectibles, allow me to explain. What Gentle Giant has done is to take the original 3 and 3/4 inch Star Wars action figures that Kenner released during the late 70s and re-release them in a 12 inch scale. In other words, they're exactly like the original 3 and 3/4 inch action figures--same sculpts, same paint schemes, same number of articulation points--except that they're larger. Each figure comes in a larger-scale blister card that's likewise modeled after the original Kenner blister cards. In keeping with the larger size, there's also a larger price tag: Each figure costs either $75 or $85, a steep increase from the original figures' 70s-era price tag of $2.

(Curiously, Gentle Giant…

Hear What Muppets REALLY Think at the Stuffed & Unstrung Show

For as fun as it can be to watch puppet shows such as The Muppets, it's easy to forget just how difficult, uncomfortable and exhausting the performance art of puppetry can be. After all, puppeteers have to be sure that their puppets perform well while they themselves remain hidden--concealed behind or inside a wide variety of objects--during live performances, sometimes for hours at a time. If you're wondering what that does to a puppeteer's fragile mind, then the live improv show of Stuffed and Unstrung is for you.

I heard about Stuffed and Unstrung the other day because there was a performance of it here this week (which I missed, unfortunately), so I thought I'd spread the word for those of you who might be interested when the show appears near you. Stuffed and Unstrung is a touring performance that's produced by Henson Alternative, a label from The Jim Henson Company that's geared exclusively towards adult audiences. The show consists of six puppeteers who u…

A Look at Okami for Nintendo Wii

As part of my ongoing quest to find and play as many of the top-notch Wii games as I can before the Wii cedes its place as Nintendo's primary home console to the Wii U, I just finished playing Okami. Okami itself has had a unique history: It was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2006, and then it was released for the Wii in 2008 with a new control scheme to fit the Wii's motion controllers.

Even though it began as a game for a different console, Okami is one of the best games that Wii has to offer. It effectively utilizes the Wii's motion controls, it looks gorgeous, the game play is challenging but not impossible, and its central story is genuinely epic in scope. Read on for my complete review.

Prometheus Technology and New Aliens: Colonial Marines Game Footage Revealed

Being a die-hard Alien fan, I've been doing everything that I can to avoid spoilers for both the upcoming Prometheus prequel and the Aliens: Colonial Marines video game so that I can experience them as freshly as possible. I speculated about both projects on this blog before (see here and here) but I didn't want to go too much further than that. Nevertheless, too much fun-yet-non-spoilery stuff has happened lately with these titles that I couldn't help but to mention them here.

* In keeping with its viral marketing campaign, two sites have been launched in relation to Prometheus: the Weyland Industries site, and the Project Prometheus site. Project Prometheus has high-resolution pictures and schematics of the Prometheus spaceship, the Med Pod 7201, and the RT01 Transport. Each of these machines are featured in the Prometheus preview trailers, and I'm guessing that more tech specs will appear on the Project Prometheus site in the weeks to come.

* During the PAX East event…

VHS Rental Memories: The Good, The Bad, and The Schlocky

This morning, I saw in the newspaper an article that discusses how the future of movie distribution largely belongs to the digital, on-demand format and how this shift in distribution will change how people select and view movies. This isn't the first article I've read about this subject, and it won't be the last. In fact, I'm a big fan of any distribution service that allows me to watch films that I want to see (regardless of the films' lacking popularity) when it best suits my busy schedule.

Because I grew up in a time when you had to wait for movies to show at your local theater or search for older and obscure movies on late-night TV broadcasts, I can't help but to think that something is lost in the process of making movies available at the touch of a button. If you're a fan of horror movies like I am, then you know that it's not just the films that keep the fandom going; it's also the stuff that surrounds the movies that give them their appeal a…

Wonderful, Whimsical Books That Teach Children About Death, Necromancy, and the Flesh-Eating Undead

Even though I write a lot about movies, TV shows and video games, I believe that it's important to encourage strong reading habits among young children. Not only do strong reading skills help them excell in school and develop a sense of intellectual curiousity that will serve them well for the rest of their lives, but they will also prepare them for when they choose to devote countless hours of their lives to reading obsessive and trivial publications such as this blog.

With that in mind, here are two titles that I recommend for the knee-high, up-and-coming movie monster fans in your life.

* That's Not Your Mommy Anymore: A Zombie Tale, by Matt Mogk (Author) and Aja Wells (Illustrator)

When a friend first told me about this book, I thought she was kidding. I'm glad to know that she's not, because who could rightfully deny their child the opportunity to read such delightfully morbid prose such as this:

* Grandpa Won't Wake Up, by Simon Max Hill (Author) and Shannon…

Nerd Rant: Xbox 360 Gets Star Wars Kinect, While Wii Gets Nothing

The weekend saw the release of Star Wars Kinect for the Xbox 360, which got mixed reviews among the game critics. One of the recurring complaints about the game is how unresponsive the controls are. There's much more to lightsaber fighting, blaster shoot-outs and deep space combat than just waving your hands around in front of a TV set, although it appears that the makers of Star Wars Kinect didn't get that memo.

OK, so this makes Star Wars Kinect one of an ongoing series of Star Wars games that doesn't quite succeed and hopefully the next one will be a success, right? That would be true, except that it didn't have to be this way. Had they made something like this game for the Nintendo Wii and its Wii MotionPlus feature, it would've been much, much better. How do I know this? I played Red Steel 2, which is proof of concept that the Wii would've been the perfect system for a first-person, motion-interactive Star Wars game. Forget the over-hyped but underwhelming

Evidence (2011) Movie Review: The Truth is Not Out There

For as much of a novelty as they seem to be, "found footage" horror movies require the usage of certain storytelling and filmmaking devices to make them effective. In that sense, they're like any other movie: They must manipulate the audience in order to elicit certain emotional responses without the audience actively noticing that the manipulation is taking place. Well-made found footage movies are works of quality cinema in their own right, because it takes a lot of talent to make footage that looks rough and unscripted on its surface be so compelling.

In the case of Evidence (2011), there's enough talent on display to keep you watching but it never assembles its plot threads into a coherent enough whole to make it satisfying or memorable. Read on for my complete review, which contains minor spoilers.

A Video Game Symphony is Coming to the Strathmore

On April 7th, the Strathmore is hosting "Video Games Live", an immersive concert event where members of the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale will play soundtrack selections from many popular video games. The concert will include music and video footage from games such as Metroid, Final Fantasy VIII, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Halo, and many more. The Strathmore is located in North Bethesda, Maryland.

Video Games Live will be performed twice, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. There will also be a pre-show festival that features a Guitar Hero competition and a cosplay contest. Click here to learn more about the Video Games Live event and to purchase tickets.