Showing posts from June, 2012

Nerd Rant: The Loch Ness Monster Resurfaces in Louisiana Private Schools

When I was a child, I read books about modern legends such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster (in between reading books published by Crestwood House about movie monsters, of course). I would often get the books out of my elementary school library, with the certainty that these supposedly "real" monsters would never be discussed in any of my classes. How times have changed.

According to several news articles that I've read across the Internet, private religious schools in Louisiana are using a textbook published by the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) Inc. that identifies the Loch Ness Monster as proof that dinosaurs still exist in the modern world and thus validates "Young Earth Creationism", the idea that the Earth is only a few thousand years old, and invalidates the theory of evolution. Many of the articles reprint the textbook passage that mentions Nessie, which I will also do so here:

“Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convince…

Nerd Rant: Someone Actually Paid $70 Million to Make a Film Called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I've seen a lot of things at the movies. Gory things, offensive things, full-frontal things, and so forth. Some were great, some were good, some were average, and some were very, very bad. Yet of all the things that Hollywood has put into the movie theaters lately (as opposed to the wild and woolly world of direct-to-video), last weekend's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter leaves me speechless. During the same summer as Battleship, a movie based on a board game, and it's this film that leaves me speechless. I thought that the humorless The Raven from last April that featured Edgar Allen Poe as an amateur detective was bad enough, but now we get the 16th President of the United States as a dour vampire slayer.

Come on, Hollywood! You've got a film about an axe-wielding president who kills monsters and this is the best that you can do? What, did the $70 million budget give you cold feet so you decided to play it serious for fear that a campy horror film would alienate or an…

It's Martian Tripods Versus Steampunk Tech in War of the Worlds: Goliath

Fans of H.G. Wells and the steampunk genre, take note: The animated War of the Worlds: Goliath is scheduled for worldwide release in fall 2012.

Goliath is a sequel to Wells' original novel, and it will take place 15 years after the first invasion. An international defense force called A.R.E.S. has been established using technology derived from the fallen tripods, and it is called into service when a second wave of Martians arrive. In this alternate steampunk timeline, there are armored battle zeppelins and human-made tripods, and A.R.E.S. is led by none other than Theodore Roosevelt. (Move over Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter--War of the Worlds: Goliath will have Teddy Roosevelt, alien fighter!)

Goliath is also a reunion of sorts for some of the cast and crew from the Highlander TV series (1992-1998). This film was co-written by David Abramowitz, a creative consultant for most of Highlander's run, and the voice cast includes Highlander vets Peter Wingfield, Adrian Paul, Elizabet…

The Weird World of Eerie Publications Book Review: Reviving the Horror Comic Book Through Recycling

Of all the media formats that have distributed the horror genre to the masses, few have had it more difficult than the comic book. Congressional hearings that were held during the mid-50s based on nothing more than a fleeting fit of public hysteria caused horror comic books to suddenly vanish from newsstands everywhere and dealt a crippling blow to the comic book industry in general. The horror comic eventually came back during the 60s and 70s, with DC, Marvel and Warren Publishing contributing titles that would help this format recover. The most notorious contributor to the horror comic revival was Eerie Publications, which is the central topic of Mike Howlett's engaging and informative book, The Weird World of Eerie Publications: Comic Gore That Warped Millions of Young Minds.

Howlett's approach to the history of Eerie Publications and its contributions to the horror comic format is exhaustive, almost to a fault. Howlett obviously loves the work of Eerie Publications and you…

Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed Review

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Mars Attacks trading card series. In honor of this milestone in dark-humored alien invasion gore, I picked up a copy of Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed for the Wii. The attitude of the Destroy All Humans! game franchise is very close to that of Mars Attacks, so it only seemed fitting to get this game while reminiscing about viciously funny alien invaders.

All of the other Destroy All Humans! games were made for Playstation and Xbox systems; Big Willy Unleashed is the Wii exclusive in the series. I never owned a Playstation or an Xbox, so playing Big Willy Unleashed was my first chance to experience a full Destroy All Humans! game. Overall, the story chapters, missions, graphics and level designs in Big Willy Unleashed range from good to average; yet where this game becomes a must-buy (albeit at a discount price) is in the variety of alien toys it lets you play with while you terrorize humans around the world. Keep reading for my co…

Happy (Belated) Father's Day to Geek Dads and Dads of Geeks Everywhere

Like the good geek that I am, I spent this last weekend with my dad celebrating Father's Day. My dad's a bit of a geek too; while our respective areas of geekery have never been quite on the same wavelength, Dad always made it a point to encourage my budding geekiness even if he didn't always approve of where it was going.

This year's Father's Day gave me the chance to reflect upon how crucial my dad was to one of the most precocious, demanding times of my life: my obsessive-compulsive infatuation with Star Wars during the late 70s and early 80s. Sure, my folks spent tons of money to placate my addiction to all things from a certain galaxy far, far away, but my dad when the extra mile by putting together a few Star Wars model kits that my impatient and unskilled pre-pubescent personality couldn't assemble but coveted nevertheless. Read on for more about my dad's heroic feats of modeling glue manipulation and modeling paint application that he performed to ke…

The Return of Dracula (1958): A Classic Monster in Eisenhower-Era America

I was looking around Netflix's on-demand list of horror titles the other day when I found this curiosity: The Return of Dracula from 1958.

When I was growing up in the 80s, books about horror movies usually divided Dracula movies into two eras: the Universal era during the 30s and 40s, and the Hammer era during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Thus, to see an American Dracula movie from 1958 listed anywhere was a surprise to me, so I decided to watch it to see how the King of Vampires fared in America during the 50s.

The Return of Dracula begins with Dracula (played by Francis Lederer) fleeing the authorities in Transylvania. He murders and assumes the identity of Czech artist named Bellac, who is traveling to America to visit his cousins in California. While maintaining his guise as Bellac, Dracula stays with Bellac's cousins while he begins to build a new army of the undead. In other words, this movie is Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) but with vampires.

Given the time i…

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus: Building Better Biomechanical Worlds

Being the obsessed Alien franchise fan that I am, I saw Prometheus last weekend in IMAX 3D. I was very impressed with the whole experience, both the quality of the 3D and Ridley Scott's return to the franchise that he started. Yet when it came time to write this review, I had no idea where to begin. Scott's film has so many details and ideas that I could rapidly identify and understand due to my appreciation of all four of the Alien movies, yet I keep seeing reviews, articles and posts on the Web that gripe over how incomprehensible and creatively bankrupt they think Prometheus is. So, since this is a fan blog of sorts anyway, I'm going to drop the pretense of providing some kind of neutral review and discuss the Alien prequel as an Alien fan. Besides, my general rule of thumb about movie franchises is that the best of them build upon ideas and themes over the course of several movies, so it is pointless to discuss sequels--especially third, fourth and fifth sequels--witho…

A Review of Dark Horse's Aliens/Predator: Panel To Panel Book

As the U.S. release date of Prometheus draws closer, I'll wrap up my reviews of items from my personal Alien collection with a book by Dark Horse called Aliens/Predator: Panel To Panel.

If fans want good Alien artwork, they can either pick up books that feature artwork by the original Alien designer H. R. Giger or they can get behind-the-scenes books that detail the production of Alien, its sequels and its crossoverspin-offs. Yet fans should not overlook Aliens/Predator: Panel To Panel, because it features Dark Horse's best comic art of the Alien and the Predator and their various incarnations. This book features page after page of full color art of facehuggers, chestbusters, Warrior Aliens and Alien Queens, as well as Predators and various Alien oddities.

Best of all, this book allows you to enjoy great Aliens, Predator and Aliens vs. Predator art without having to pick up the omnibus collections of each title. The quality of the Dark Horse stories range from good to mediocre…

Ray Bradbury, 1920 - 2012

Today marks the passing of Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest science fiction writers ever to grace the genre. I honestly don't know what to write here--his body of work and artistic influence are so large that I no idea where to begin. He truly was a giant in his field.

Of the many stories he wrote that I've read over the years, one of my favorites is a short story called "The Fog Horn". Before reading it, I never thought that a story about a giant prehistoric monster could be such a heartbreaking meditation on loneliness--Bradbury was that good. This story would later inspire The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), a movie that featured innovative stop-motion effects work by Bradbury's long-time friend, Ray Harryhausen.

There a plenty of more detailed Bradbury obits out there and I particularly recommend the one by Cartoon Brew, which will give you a better idea of how Bradbury's interests and talents extended beyond the written word.

Snow White and the Huntsman Review: A Fairy Tale Super-Sized

With Hollywood's recent inclination toward remakes and re-imaginings, it should surprise no one that classic fairy tales would be due for a makeover. Take Snow White for example: In 2011 and 2012 alone, this tale has already been re-imagined as a TV show (Once Upon a Time) and a feature-length adventure-comedy (Mirror, Mirror). With Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White gets upgraded from a simple fairy tale to a grandiose sword-and-sorcery epic, and the end result is much better than you'd expect it to be.

I'm usually not into the sword-and-sorcery subgenre of fantasy films, unless the film features lots of monsters and/or it includes the work of a legendary special effects artist such as Ray Harryhausen. Nevertheless, Snow White and the Huntsman is an entertaining fantasy epic, with a large cast of characters, great special effects, and scenic cinematography. Of course, this movie wears the influences of the recent Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies on its selve…

Micro Machines Alien Collection Review

There was a time during the 80s and 90s when Micro Machines, a toy line produced by Galoob, was the go-to line for miniature replicas of all sorts of vehicles, both real and fictional. Micro Machines started with vehicles such as cars, trucks, boats and airplanes, and then it profited greatly by producing miniatures of vehicles from popular sci-fi franchises such as Star Trek and Star Wars. In fact, those miniatures proved to be popular enough that Galoob would expand those licenses to include micro-sized playsets and a new line of larger vehicle toys that would fit scale-sized micro figures.

With two major sci-fi franchises under its belt, Galoob decided to add licenses of other sci-fi titles to its Micro Machines line, including Alien, Predator and Terminator. This review will cover the Micro Machines Alien collection, including pictures of each item in the collection. Read on....