Showing posts from October, 2012

Star Wars Flashback: Happy Halloween, Ben Cooper

This Halloween is going to be a damp, soggy one for me with Hurricane Sandy beating up the east coast, so I thought that I would warm my geeky heart with a trip down Halloween memory lane to a much simpler time. A time when Halloween costumes were easy to find and cheap to purchase. A time when a flimsy piece of molded plastic, a thin elastic strap, and an easy-to-tear vinyl suit bearing a copyrightable logo could pass for a Halloween costume. A time when Halloween itself was all but owned by Ben Cooper, Inc.

I don't know much about Ben Cooper, Inc. as a company, other than that it had the licensing rights to produce cheap Halloween costumes of just about any character you could think of during the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. These costumes were everywhere when Halloween season rolled around, so much so that it became synonymous with Halloween itself when I was growing up. Talk to anyone around my age or older (or even slightly younger) and I'll guarantee that they've worn at le…

Giant Insects Reign Supreme in Wii's Escape from Bug Island

I'm a big fan of "big bug" movies, so it would seem obvious that I would pick up a copy of a survival horror video game called Escape from Bug Island for my Nintendo Wii, right? Well ... not necessarily. When the game first appeared in the U.S. back in 2007, it was panned by most video game reviewers. Yet with this game's drop below the $10 price point, I recently decided to give this game a chance anyway to see if the critics were right. Speaking as a big bug movie fan, they weren't.

I can think of several survival horror video games for the Wii that have better graphics, better level designs, and better stories. Even Wii's other bug-centric game, 2009's Deadly Creatures, has better production values. Yet where Escape from Bug Island really delivers is where it delivers the most: It's got plenty of big, icky, human-eating bugs ... and that is AWESOME! Read on for my complete review.

Skew (2011) Movie Review: When Video Cameras See Dead People

I missed last weekend's premiere release of Paranormal Activity 4, but I did have the time to watch another kind of "found footage" movie called Skew, which was written and directed by Sevé Schelenz and has won a few awards on the indie film circuit. Read on for my complete review.

The Complete Batcave, Lego Style

If Bruce Wayne ever decides to re-design the Batcave, he may want to talk to these guys first:

Meet Carlyle Livingston II and Wayne Hussey, two Lego aficionados who took it upon themselves to make this astonishingly detailed Batcave replica. According to, "This is the culmination of about 400 hours of work over three months, completed in March. This intricate Batcave employs the use of four motors to operate some cool features, such as the Batmobile's turntable, a lift for the vehicle and a wall with rotating costumes and weapons. The masterpiece also integrates lighting, bringing to life this grand project. ... Weighing in at 100 pounds, the duo estimates the creation to use about 20,000 pieces 'but it’s probably much more.'"

Looking at pictures of this amazing feat, two things immediately came to mind:

1. This Batcave set dwarfs every other Batcave play set ever made, both in terms of details and features, with room for all of the iconic Bat vehicles…

A Gallery of Gleefully Ghoulish Dolls by Shain Erin

I found some interesting pictures the other week that I thought I would share on my blog, pictures of horrific, malformed dolls made by Shain Erin. I've seen quite a few horror-themed dolls and action figures over the years, but very few of them are as creepy as those produced by Erin. In fact, they remind me of the dark, enigmatic dolls from Richard Sala's giallo-esque graphic novel, The Chuckling Whatsit.

According to the profile Erin provided on his Wordpress site, "For the last several years I’ve been preoccupied with dolls: I see them as a long under appreciated art form with virtually unlimited expressive possibilities. I’m inspired by traditional world art figures (kachina, bochia, nkisi, namchi, shadow puppets, etc.) while working to push the boundaries of what a “doll” is as far as my imagination and skills will take it. ... These are not comforting toys; they can be challenging and defiant, disturbing and enchanting, irrational and frightening, beautiful and sad.…

DC and Marvel Superhero Cartoon Report Card, Fall 2012 Edition

News has been circulating around the Internet this week about Cartoon Network's sudden and unexpected decision to halt the airing of new episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice until January 2013. While the exact reasons behind this decision remain unclear, I think that now is a good time for me to weigh in on how good each of the DC and Marvel superhero cartoons are doing on their respective homes of Cartoon Network and Disney XD. Read on ...

Onryo Ghosts go Gaming in Wii's Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator

The series of Ju-on films that were started by Takashi Shimizu have grown into quite a franchise during the last few years. What began as two stories within a Japanese television anthology movie titled Gakko no kaidan G led to the production of two direct-to-video titles and five theatrical releases during the following decade: two theatrical movies in Japan, and a remake with two sequels in the U.S. In 2009, a two-part film was released, Ju-on: White Ghost/Black Ghost, to celebrate the series' 10th anniversary. With so many films under its belt, a tie-in video game is inevitable. That tie-in is Ju-on: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator, which was released for the Nintendo Wii back in 2009.

As a Wii title, the Ju-on game is three things, in this order of priority: an experience first, a story second, and a game third. In my review, I will examine each of these elements and why this particular combination results in a game that, in spite of its ambitions, will only be of long-term …

NEW--A Pocket-Sized Arcade Cabinet!

Way back in 2010, I published a post about hand-held and tabletop video games from the 1970s and 80s. Part of that post discussed a series of tabletop games released by Coleco that emulated popular arcade games and looked like much smaller versions of arcade cabinets. At the time I joked, "Given the advancements in micro-computing and compact, high-definition video screens, a really devoted fan could probably gut one of the Coleco emulators and convert it into a tabletop unit--in other words, convert a plastic shell that was originally designed to house a VFD emulation of Donkey Kong into something that could house an actual, playable arcade version of Donkey Kong." Apparently, someone at ThinkGeek either read my post or thinks exactly the same way that I do:

Meet the "Arcadie iPhone and iPod Desktop Arcade". According to ThinkGeek, "The Arcadie Desktop Arcade is designed especially for iPhone and iPod Touch. Slide your device into the wee cabinet, pop it in t…

A Deviant Artist Takes a Closer Look at Mimic's Judas Breed Bugs

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I'm a huge fan of monster art. In particular, I'm an avid collector of various mediums (books, magazines, toys, and scale miniatures) that provide accurate and detailed representations of certain movie monster designs that I consider to be art. Such designs would include the mechanical shark from Jaws, the biomechanical parasites from Alien, the submersible monster suit from The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the various stop-motion puppets that Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen used throughout their respective careers in movie special effects. Such an interest becomes an exercise in frustration when I find a movie monster design that I like but I cannot find any pictures or miniatures that provide me with a clear look at the design. Case in point: the Judas Breed insects, the giant GMOs from Guillermo del Toro's Mimic (1997) and its two sequels.

As demonstrated in the behind-the-scenes featurettes that were provided in the …

Splatstick Fantastic: The Cabin in the Woods (2011) and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Films that successfully combine horror and comedy are elusive things to find. The best ones work because they combine a genuine affection and understanding of horror with a willingness to satirize the genre's most improbable and outlandish conventions. Thankfully, I recently found two films that excel at making the mixture of horror and humor work: The Cabin in the Woods and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Both are witty spoofs of the familiar horror movie plot where vacationing young people are trapped in a remote location by some kind of menace, but each film takes a different approach to satirizing such an over worn contrivance. Cabin in the Woods uses the plot as a starting point that expands into a gruesome parody of horror cinema in general, while Tucker & Dale use it as the basis for a gory comedy of errors and misunderstandings.

Without giving too much away, Cabin in the Woods is basically a horror movie version of The Truman Show (1998). Both films are commentaries on the …

Beware of The Black Page in Wii's Calling

Of the many Wii horror games in which I have been indulging as of late, the hardest one to locate and purchase was Calling, which was developed by Hudson Soft exclusively for the Wii and released in the U.S. in 2010. Despite its status as a Wii exclusive, the game didn't receive much publicity and its distribution was very limited. I can understand somewhat why this happened, since Calling is not a typical video game. Calling is less of a standard survival horror game and more of a multiple-perspective ghost story that is told through a series of three-dimensional, interactive environments; hence, I noticed that many reviewers had no idea what to make of it, even to the point of despising the game for its obtuse approach to horror gaming.

Calling has a few problems, but I found the overall gaming experience to be very rewarding and I could appreciate what the developers were trying to accomplish in making such a unique and unusual horror game. Read on for my complete review.

Ghosts Get Serious in The Uninvited (1944)

As a horror movie fan, I do what I can to familiarize myself with noteworthy milestones in horror movie history. Thus, I recently watched The Uninvited, a 1944 horror movie that was based on the novel Uneasy Freehold by Dorothy Macardle. The Uninvited was one of the first Hollywood movies that took ghosts and haunted houses seriously. Previous films either featured ghosts in comedies or revealed them to be practical jokes or engineered distractions to keep attention away from criminal activities (you know, like most of the plots in Scooby Doo cartoons).

The Uninvited tells the story of pair of siblings, Roderick (Ray Milland) and Pamela (Ruth Hussey), who purchase an abandoned mansion that overlooks the English coast. Spooky and inexplicable things begin to occur shortly after they move in and their subsequent investigation into these paranormal events takes them into the strange, secretive lives of the mansion's original owner, Commander Beech (Donald Crisp), and his granddaughter…