Showing posts from January, 2013

Using Zombies in Hardware Store Ad Campaign = Success; Using Hardware Store in Zombie Mockumentary = Unemployment

During the Halloween season of 2011, I posted a story about how the Westlake Ace Hardware chain of stores in Nebraska used zombies as part of a new advertising campaign. This zombie-themed campaign, which included a witty Web site and in-store "Zombie Preparedness Centers", was a big success. Unfortunately, someone in Georgia didn't get the memo.

According to reports from newssitesaroundthe Internet, a group of college students in Georgia produced a documentary short film called When The Zombies Come that won a prize at the recent Sundance Film Festival. The film was shot an Ace Hardware store in Lawrenceville, GA, and it featured real-life Ace employee Alex Warner explaining why a hardware store would be a perfect place to be during a sudden zombie outbreak. One would think that this high-profile, prize-winning mockumentary--a mockumentary that was made without a dime from Ace itself--is an ideal extension of the aforementioned Ace advertising campaign, right? Apparentl…

Giallo and Slasher Fans Get a Prime Time Treat in The Following

I finally got around to watching the first episode of The Following, Fox's latest horror TV series. While there are other horror shows on other non-premium networks, shows such as Supernatural and American Horror Story, The Following is the only one that is firmly rooted in the giallo/slasher subgenre of horror. As a passionate fan of that subgenre, I'm grateful for this show's arrival. Not only is it off to a promising start with an interesting premise, but I don't have to pay extra on my cable bill to watch it (as opposed to subscribing to Showtime to watch another serialized giallo/slasher series, Dexter).

The Following is the brainchild of Kevin Williamson, whose previous horror credits include TV series such as The Vampire Diaries and movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and three of the four Scream movies. The show begins with FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) coming out of retirement to help catch serial killer Dr. Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) who recen…

Nerd Rant: Arnold Schwarzenegger Will be Back for Terminator 5, But is That Really a Good Thing?

According to the box office totals from last weekend, The Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger's first starring role since his stint as the Governor of California, has performed below expectations. I won't go as far as to call it an outright flop--after all, films like this can be quite lucrative overseas and in the home video market--but it was handily beaten at the box office by a ghost movie, a gangster movie, a film noir movie, a Quentin Tarantino movie, a musical, and a godawful Marlon Wayans comedy. For a one-time king of action movies, this could hardly be called a "comeback". With such a dubious return to acting, Schwarzenegger has recently announced his involvement in the upcoming Terminator 5, a move that he apparently feels will better help to restore his acting career.

I understand the logic here: A familiar name like Schwarzenegger wasn't enough to promote The Last Stand, so combining a familiar name with a familiar franchise should logically do better.…

A Look Back at Namco's Xevious

One of the fun things about being a devoted geek is looking back at the stuff you loved as a kid (TV shows, comic books, novels, movies and so forth) and discovering new things about them. In this case, I'm talking about Xevious, a vertical scrolling shooter arcade game that Namco released in 1982. Xevious is credited as one of the earliest vertical scrolling shooters, a subgenre of video gaming that would become quite popular among both arcade and home console gamers alike.

Although I don't remember when I first played Xevious, I became quite fond of it for years--I even bought the Atari 7800 system back in the late 80s because it was the first console to feature Xevious as part of its library. For a long time, I thought that the game was a one-hit wonder, because I didn't see any other games bearing the Xevious title and I didn't know many other gamers at the time who loved the game as much as I did. Little did I know that my assumption was somewhat incorrect: While

Is it the End of Line for Tron: Uprising on Disney XD?

I've been hearing rumors about this around the 'net for weeks now and while nothing official has been released as of yet, here's the bad news: Tron: Uprising, the Tron sequel/Tron: Legacy prequel, is probably going to be cancelled on Disney XD.

I've been in denial about this news, even though the writing on was on the figurative wall for some time. When you've seen as many short-lived horror and sci-fi TV shows as I have, you learn to recognize the warning signs: Between the inconsistent showings of episodes in the fall, poor marketing and the recent placement of the show on the 12 a.m. EST slot on Monday mornings, it was pretty obvious that Disney XD management had decided to burn through the first season of Tron: Uprising episodes it had commissioned. This isn't the first time that a TV network has tried so hard to kill off a show it has selected to air, but the fact that the Tron franchise is Disney's baby makes Uprising's likely cancellation even mo…

Mazinger Z Gets a Major Upgrade in Bandai's DX Soul of Chogokin Line

From what little I know of Japanese culture, I can tell you two things: Japan really loves robots and it really, really loves miniatures. Therefore, it only stands to reason that many of Japan's robot toys and model kits will have insane amounts of detail. For example, there's the upcoming DX Soul of Chogokin Mazinger Z set by Bandai, which was released in December 2012.

I'm not very familiar with Mazinger Z as an anime series, but this collectible toy that's based on its titular robot is sure to impress both anime and non-anime fans alike. Sure, the price tag of this toy is jaw-dropping--it costs around $400--but with its jaw-dropping price comes equally jaw-dropping amounts of features and detail. Read on for more information about this robot toy collectible.

Support Cryptozoology Action Figures through Kickstarter

You know who is represented frequently in the area of high-quality action figures? Superheroes and movie monsters. You know who isn't? The creatures of cryptozoology. Thankfully, toy and video game designer Richard T. Broadwater plans to do something about that.

Broadwater is using Kickstarter to fund a new line of action figures called "Legendary Monsters". According to the Kickstarter page, "Legendary Monsters is a line of action figures based on monsters of urban legend and folklore. ... Each of the four monsters comes with an eyewitness figure, a diorama base depicting the surroundings and a written account of the real life eyewitness account right on the package! ... Each victim has 5-6 points of articulation and stands 3 and 3/4-4" tall. Each monster features 10-12 points of articulation and contains hinged arms, legs and ball jointed shoulders. Our figures will be crafted from the best materials and feature solid engineering and are fully posable."

Great Moments in Creature Feature Special Effects History: The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)

It's almost impossible these days to read online discussions about new and upcoming creature features without encountering some debate over the effectiveness of practical effects versus CGI. I personally think that a combination of both is the best option, although I've been told by someone who works in the industry that the major studios will often dump practical effects for CGI for the sake of cost-cutting and expediency. That's a disappointing development, but unfortunately that is how Hollywood seems to work these days.

Regardless, for those of you who appreciate practical special effects in your monster movies, you should check out the 50s-era "big bug" movie, The Monster That Challenged the World (1957). There are a few things that are misleading about the title--in particular, there is more than one monster in the movie, and the monsters never actually get around to challenging the entire world. Also, this film is technically not a big bug movie because th…

A Superhero Origin Story Goes Back to the Basics in Chronicle (2012)

During the summer of 2012, I spent many hours reviewing online discussions among fans who compared The Avengers to Dark Knight Rises, the two big superhero blockbusters of that season. Some argued that The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises are polar opposites of each other in terms of style and mood. On the basis of what I have just watched, I would argue otherwise: The polar opposite of both The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises is Chronicle, the 2012 low-budget film that was directed by Josh Trank and scripted by Max Landis.

I make my comparison based on one major criterion: Avengers and Dark Knight Rises are based on preexisting characters with devoted fan bases, while Chronicle creates a new set of characters that have no fan bases and thus do not have to conform to any preexisting fan expectations or narrative arcs. As a result, Chronicle feels like a fresh and emotionally honest take on a story that has been told many, many times before--the story of what happens when ordinary human b…

Robotech Returns (Sort of) with the Genesis Pits Role-Playing Game Sourcebook

2013 will see the return of several beloved horror and sci-fi titles, including Iron Man (as a sequel), Evil Dead (as a remake), and Aliens (as a video game). Yet one that I didn't expect to return was Robotech, the popular anime series from 1985 that has yet to see a successful and consistent continuation in the decades since. From I've read on various anime sites, another straight-to-video film titled Robotech: Love, Live, Alive is scheduled for release sometime this year, although its exact release date has yet to be determined. This post isn't about that. Instead, I'm focusing my attention on a role-playing game (RPG) sourcebook that was published less than a month before the end of 2012: the Robotech Genesis Pits Sourcebook.

The Robotech RPG has been around for a while and new modules of the game usually mirror what is considered to be "canon" (i.e., the animated episodes, as opposed to the comic books or novels). In contrast, the Genesis Pits Sourcebook