Showing posts from October, 2013

Mental Health Care Runs Amuck in Psycho-Pass Anime Series

One of the best things about Japanese anime is that as a means of storytelling, it is not limited to specific areas of subject matter. Whereas most American animation is usually limited to kid-friendly material, anime can be applied to just about any genre (drama, romance, horror, etc.). Thus, when I heard about the anime Psycho-Pass, a hard-boiled cyberpunk crime thriller series that spans 22 half-hour episodes, I just had to see it for myself. I'm glad I did--it's one of the smartest sci-fi shows I've ever seen.

The overall plot of Psycho-Pass will sound familiar to anyone who frequents the crime thriller genre: a group of law enforcement officers searching for an elusive suspect who is connected to a series of brutal, gruesome crimes. Yet where Psycho-Pass differs greatly from other crime thrillers is in its setting, a futuristic Japan that is constantly monitored by an omnipresent computer network called the Sybil System. Such a setting puts a unique spin on standard c…

The Dark Knight Disappears from Cartoon Network

It's official: Beware the Batman, the animated series that makes up half of Cartoon Network's DC Nation programming block, has been pulled from the network's schedule. For the immediate future, the DC Nation hour will consist of two episodes of Teen Titans Go! There has been some speculation that Beware the Batman will return in January, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

If anything, I think that this development speaks volumes about Time Warner's inept handling of the DC universe. Some of the scuttlebutt that I've heard is that the executives at Cartoon Network weren't happy with having DC superhero cartoons "forced" on them by their parent company of Time Warner, so they were happy to get rid of the under-performing Beware the Batman cartoon as soon as they could. If that is true, then that would indicate that Time Warner's current plan to promote DC superheroes in media formats outside of comic books is poorly organized and will mostly l…

Zombie Babies Infect Spirit Halloween Product Lines

Being a horror fan, I naturally consider myself to be an aficionado of the Halloween holiday season. Nevertheless, my recent visit to a Spirit Halloween store revealed to me how far I am behind the times in recognizing Halloween awesomeness, an awesomeness that's so awesomely awesome that it's criminal for it to be limited to just one season. The awesomeness that I'm talking about is Spirit Halloween's line of "Zombie Baby" props and costumes.

Watch your back, Anne Geddes--they're coming to get you!

Sure, the fusion of horrific imagery and themes with children and things aimed at children has long been a staple of horror art, merchandising and storytelling. What Spirit Halloween has done is take this to a new level by providing a wide selection of props and costumes (some motorized, some not) that make little bundles of joy look like newborn nightmares. When I say "wide selection", I mean just that--it felt like all that was missing from Spirit Ha…

Dawn of the Dead Cupcakes

The Mrs. and I were visiting family over the weekend when one of the young geeks-in-training surprised us with a terrific Halloween treat: zombie cupcakes.

It's rare that a food item combines two things that I really love--zombies and pastry--but these cupcakes had it all. With pretzel sticks for arms, Tic Tacs for fingers, marshmallows for heads, and thick icing for skin, eyes, mouths and hair, these desserts of the damned can cause an epic sugar high that any horror fan would love. All that was missing were a few hapless gingerbread men (with sweet gumdrop brains) for these carnivorous confectionaries to terrorize.

Click below to see more pictures of this horde of undead delights.

Imperial Items I'd Like to See in the Star Wars: Rebels Animated Series

This year's New York Comic Con (NYCC) came and went last weekend, and it had the usual geeky fanfare: panel discussions, celebrity appearances, cosplay, and previews of upcoming films, TV shows, and merchandise. From this particular NYCC event, the one event that really stood out from the others was the preview presentation of the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels, a CGI animated series that will debut in the fall of 2014 on Disney XD. The presentation was given by Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, and it gave many tantalizing glimpses into the series that will show fans what the Star Wars universe was like during the rapid growth of the Empire after the Clone Wars and the early days of the Rebel Alliance.

Of the many details that were revealed during the presentation, one in particular caught my attention: the inclusion of vintage Star Wars toys as part of the series' vehicles and weapons. In particular, the Imperial Troop Transport, a vehicle toy that was released by Kenner as part of thei…

DC and Marvel Superhero Cartoon Report Card, Fall 2013 Edition

Last fall, I did a report card post about the DC and Marvel superhero cartoons on Cartoon Network and Disney XD. Since almost all of the cartoons from last year have been replaced with new cartoons (Ultimate Spider-Man is the only one that's still on the air), I think that now would be a good time to take a look at where things stand for animated DC and Marvel titles and how they reflect larger expansion plans to push both classic and obscure superhero characters from the comics onto multiple media platforms. Read on ...

Nintendo Goes Retro in Wii Party U

Oh, Nintendo ... I just can't quit you. Even though I don't have the Wii U console and probably won't for a long time to come, I still like to keep an eye on what Nintendo is doing to see the new ideas it brings to the world of video games. With the upcoming minigame collection title Wii Party U, not only will players get the unique experience of asymmetrical game play but they will also get a high-tech flashback to a concept that was popular during the early years of portable video games: "head-to-head" tabletop gaming.

From what I have seen in the ads and articles about Wii Party U, 15 of the two-player minigames will be limited to the Wii U GamePad's display screen and require players to share the GamePad controls to play competitively or cooperatively. The picture below provides an example of what this kind of game play would look like, and the minigames that fall into this format include foosball, baseball, and slot car racing.

When I saw video footage of …

A Self-Made Superhero Gets an Upgrade in Iron Man 3

Due to financial problems beyond my control last summer, I have begun to catch up on all the box office fun I missed just a few months ago. First up: Iron Man 3, the concluding chapter in the trilogy about Marvel's resident techno-genius Tony Stark and his super-powered alter ego.

Iron Man 3 opens with Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) still reeling from the events in The Avengers movie. Overwhelmed by the many possible threats that could doom humanity, he has become obsessed with upgrading Iron Man--and himself--to counter any and all future menaces. Further complicating the picture are the appearances of the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a terrorist mastermind who has been orchestrating a series of surprise attacks around the world, and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), a corporate rival who threatens to topple Stark Industries through his own "think tank" called Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM). When a surprise attack by the Mandarin forces him away from home and friends, Stark …

Great Moments in Video Game Licensing History: Alligator People and Planet of the Apes for the Atari 2600

Since early days of their history, video games have been used like any other form of merchandising--as the recipients of licenses for popular characters, movies and TV shows for the sake of making money based on name recognition. It didn't matter how limited the graphics and game play options were in early video games; as long as gamers were willing to associate vague shapes, garbled noises and repetitive tasks with famous characters such as Buck Rogers, Dracula, Popeye and Superman, entertainment companies were willing to add video games to their vast inventories of licensed merchandise.

Yet as with most things in the entertainment industry, some oddities were bound to surface in what would appear to be a straightforward system. Case in point: unreleased games based on The Alligator People (1959) and Planet of the Apes (1968) for the Atari 2600. I can understand why Atari, Intellivision and Coleco were looking for new game content to promote their respective consoles in the early …