Showing posts from June, 2013

Bon Appétit: A Season One Review of NBC’s Hannibal

This review may be a bit late--the season finale of Hannibal aired last week--but I’m going to do this anyway. It’s not often when a horror TV show succeeds in being consistently creepy during an entire season, and Hannibal does so with flying, blood-spattered colors. It also breathes disturbing new life into the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, which is an impressive feat unto itself. Connections to Thomas Harris’ horror novels aside, Hannibal is what TV shows like The Following and Criminal Minds should be, and what earlier shows such as Millennium and Profiler could have been.

Instead of treating serial killers as monster-of-the-week antagonists who are quickly foiled at the end of each episode, Hannibal uses its main characters--namely Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy)--to explore serial murder and the nature of identity and insanity on a more complex and nuanced level. In doing so, the series depicts Lecter in a manner similar to Dexter Morgan (Mich…

Richard Matheson, 1926 - 2013

As giants in the horror and sci-fi genres go, Richard Matheson is a unique case. He's not a familiar name for most media audiences, yet his influence is so pervasive that it's impossible to imagine modern horror and sci-fi pop culture without him.

In the early years of my geekhood, I familiarized myself with both classic and contemporary horror and sci-fi movies and TV shows but Matheson's name never stood out in any obvious way. Unlike horror/sci-fi celebrities such as Stephen King and Steven Spielberg--both of whom have been heavily influenced by Matheson--I rarely saw Matheson's name used to promote his work. It wasn't until I noticed the appearance of his name in the credits of many movies and TV shows that I was able to understand who he was.

Even though he is a well-respected novelist and short story author in his own right, Matheson frequently contributed his talents to film and TV production. He would either adapt his written work into scripts (The Incredib…

Want to Add a Slender Man Doll to Your Horror Collection? Nevermore Toys and Kickstarter Can Help!

Early this year, I published a post about toy designer Richard T. Broadwater’s Kickstarter campaign to launch Legendary Monsters, a series of highly-detailed action figures that are based on cryptozoological legends such as the Mothman and the Chupacabra. Since then, Broadwater and his company Nevermore Toys have expanded their selection of fantastical frights to include a legend from the modern digital age: the Slender Man.

While Nevermore Toys’ Slender Man doll is not officially part of the Legendary Monsters series, it makes for a great complementary piece to the Legendary Monsters figures. According to various online sources, the Slender Man is actually a creation of a “paranormal pictures” Photoshop contest back in 2009, but the Slender Man has gone on to have a life of his own. Like the creatures in the Legendary Monsters series, the Slender Man legend has yielded plenty of blurry pictures and bone-chilling tales since his first appearance four years ago--so much as that an ent…

30 Years Later, Jaws 3D Swims Back to the Movie Theater

My source of disposable income has been tight as of late, so I've fallen behind on this summer's recent blockbuster releases such as Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel. However, my financial problems haven't kept me from squeezing out enough cash to see a limited release of a film that I missed seeing in the theater during its original release in 1983: Jaws 3D.

As I wrote in a previous post about Jaws 3D, "I have a soft spot for the third entry in the Jaws franchise because it was THE film that got me interested in 3D movies. ... Before Jaws 3D, I had a ViewMaster toy and a few sets of reels, and I also knew about previous horror and sci-fi movies from the 50s that were shot in 3D--movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, House of Wax and It Came from Outer Space--courtesy of the Crestwood House books and their ilk. But Jaws 3D solidified in my mind just what the illusion of three dimensions meant in terms of movies (as well as comic books and later video games), thus …

Yes, This Almost Happened: The Car Game--for Kids!

When looking back at the history of the American toy industry, it’s amazing to consider some of the toys that the industry thought would be “appropriate” for kids. Take Kenner, for example: After making boatloads of cash from Star Wars toys, it hastily picked up the toy license for Alien simply because it was a high-profile space movie without giving a second thought about how horrifying the film actually was. Along those lines, Kenner did something else based on movie popularity, with likewise questionable results. It created a game for kids based on the 1977 horror movie, The Car, about a possessed, driverless car that loves to run over people. I had no idea that this game was even an idea in someone’s head, let alone something that Kenner thought about releasing to toy stores, until I found a post about it on the Plaid Stallions site.

With Kenner's The Car game, kids can get run down by a demonic vehicle in the privacy of their own homes. (Photo courtesy of Plaid Stallions.)


My Five Favorite Open World Environments in Video Games

Video games have come a long, long way from when they first appeared for the general public back in the 70s. Not only have they become more complex in terms of graphics and game play, but they also transitioned from a 2D to 3D format with varying degrees of depth. I enjoy many of the classic 2D games from the 80s and games from the 90s onward that have 3D graphics, but I'm particularly fascinated with games that provide open worlds (a.k.a. "sandboxes") that allow players to explore large and unique locations as part of and/or in between game missions. Even if a game is mediocre or doesn't hold my interest, I'm content to be a virtual tourist if it provides me with an engrossing open environment to visit.

Here's a list of five open worlds that kept me entertained for hours with their expansive scope, unique features, and varied opportunities for interaction. These aren't the immersive virtual realities that the sci-fi genre keeps promising us, but they'…

The Universal Studios Jaws Ride Lives on at the Amity Boat Tours Site

Fans of Jaws and its subsequent franchise were crushed when the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida decided to close its Jaws ride back in January 2012. Yet while this piece of Jaws history is gone, it is far from forgotten. The folks behind the Amity Boat Tours Web site, a site that has been around for 13 years, are updating the site into the "Finale Edition" that will serve as an archive for all things concerning the Jaws ride.

According to the site, "(T)he Finale Edition of celebrates the life, and community of the JAWS World -- from the honorary JAWS Skippers to the Summer vacationers of Amity, this site was built and designed for you. We have received many questions and concerns that the site will close, and grow old, now that the attraction is gone. Quite the contrary has occurred. We have been working, since weeks before the announcement of its closure, to begin crafting a brand-new way to bring Amity Harbor to you and something tha…

BBC's Orphan Black Sends in the Clones

Thank goodness for modern cable TV, because I wouldn't know what to do without BBC. First, it broadcast the amazing three-part zombie miniseries In the Flesh, and last weekend it finished its run of the first ten episode season of Orphan Black. A title like Orphan Black sounds like some kind of anime or manga series (you know, something like Perfect Blue or Death Note), but it's not. It's a sci-fi TV show about a covert experiment in cloning, as told from the clones' perspective.

Orphan Black opens in Toronto with a young woman named Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) who is trying to escape her poor, drug-fueled life and regain custody of her daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler). Sarah was adopted when she was an infant, and her only close friend is her foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris). One day, Sarah is waiting at a metro station when a woman who looks exactly like commits suicide by throwing herself in front of an oncoming train. Seizing the opportunity, Sarah decides to assume …

A Look at Kotobukiya's ED-209 and RoboCop MK-2 Figures

When it comes to figures and miniatures for the RoboCop franchise, plenty of figures, busts and model kits have been made of the titular RoboCop character. However, recreations of other robots from the franchise, such as the ED-209 and RoboCop MK-2 (a.k.a. RoboCain), have been much harder to come by and very expensive to purchase. Things are slowly turning around in terms of availability: NECA will be releasing an ED-209 replica this summer, while Hot Toys will be releasing an ED-209 replica in early 2014 to go with its new deluxe RoboCop figure. Yet with both versions of ED-209 costing a sizable chunk of cash--NECA is charging $50 and Hot Toys is charging $410--these new collectables may still be out of reach for many RoboCop fans.

Thankfully, I was able to add ED-209 and RoboCop MK-2 to my personal collection a few years ago for around $10 each, courtesy of the Japanese model and toy company Kotobukiya. Kotobukiya did a series of 3.5-inch figures based on robots from the original Ro…