Showing posts from August, 2017

Great Moments in Mystery Box Storytelling: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Back in 2007, director J.J. Abrams gave a TED talk where he praised what he called "mystery box" storytelling. To him, a mystery box of a narrative represent hope, potential, and infinite possibility (his words). In the years since his talk, geeks have used Abrams' own words against him whenever he used an element of mystery to buttress weak stories (as he did in Lost, Super 8, his Star Trek movies, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, etc.).

There's nothing wrong with using a bit of mystery to stir an audience's imagination and keep them engaged in a story; likewise, storytellers don't necessary have to answer all of the questions that they raise in order to tell satisfying stories. On the other hand, explicitly building a narrative around questions that are either never answered or only provide lackluster resolutions provides more frustration than entertainment, something that I don't think Abrams understands yet.

Still, you have to cut Abrams some slack. One …

The Re-release of Terminator 2: A Judgment Day for 3D Movies?

This weekend, theaters across the country will be showing a remastered 3D re-release of Terminator 2 (1991). T2 director and co-writer James Cameron oversaw the post-production 3D conversion process, which he did previously for another one of his films, Titanic (original 2D release in 1997, 3D re-release in 2012). In a way, this 3D conversion closes a particular circle within the Terminator franchise: For the longest time, the only 3D Terminator movie was the one included in “Terminator 2 3D: Battle Across Time”, an attraction at the Universal Studios theme parks. Now, over two decades later, we finally have the actual feature-length T2 movie in 3D.

Unfortunately, American fans of 3D movies and T2 better be ready to see this film in the theaters while it’s there. According to several sites I’ve been to online, the 3D Blu-ray for T2 will not be made available in the U.S. when it’s released on home video in October. The 3D Blu-ray will be sold in other markets, but the only versions of…

Clothes (and Heads) Come Off in Stripper Horror Film Peelers (2016)

Given low-budget horror films' long-standing relationship with exploitation filmmaking, it's no surprise that there's a subgenre horror movies that take place in strip clubs. From goremeister Herschell Gordon Lewis' The Gore Gore Girls (1972) to the more recent Strippers vs. Werewolves (2012), strippers have appeared frequently in smaller-budgeted horror flicks as a way to efficiently maximize their titillation appeal to potential audiences. After all, why go to the trouble of writing and shooting scenes to justify nudity when a film can just take place in a location where nudity is expected? (Curiously, there isn't a horror movie subgenre involving nudist communities. Go figure.)

One of the latest entries into the stripper horror movie subgenre is Peelers (2016), the second horror film directed by Sevé Schelenz. The film takes place on the closing night of a strip club, when four workers from a local mine show up to celebrate something they discovered a few hours e…

Slasher Flicks, VHS Rentals, and Challenging Puzzles Come Together in Slayaway Camp

I've played many horror video games over the years. Monster games, zombie games, ghost games ... I've played dozens upon dozens of them. Yet games with slashers? They're few and far in between, as well as challenging to find whenever they do arrive on the market. So, I'm sure that you can imagine my surprise when I recently found a slasher game in the form of ... a puzzle game. Really. Welcome to Slayaway Camp!

Developed and released by Blue Wizard Digital, Slayaway Camp takes its inspiration from the many slasher movies that appeared at the box office, cable channels and video rental stores during the '80s. It challenges players to use the masked killer Skullface bump off many hapless campers in a series of tiled boards that contain a variety of obstacles. Because Skullface can only move in one direction at a time, players have to figure out how to move him in a way that eliminates all of the victims on the level and allows him to exit the level on a designated ti…

Kenner’s Micro Cloud City Strikes Back, Lego Style

As someone who grew up with interlocking brick toys, I stand in awe of Lego hobbyists who understand this product so well that they can build whatever vehicles, buildings and playsets they imagine. In particular, I’m a big fan of BaronSat (a.k.a. Eric Duron), a master builder who has used his talents to re-create many vintage Kenner Star Wars toys—both those that were released and those that never made it past the prototype stage—so that they match the features of the original toys while staying in scale with Lego minifigs.

One of BaronSat’s latest Lego creations is a set of Cloud City locations as they were seen in Empire Strikes Back (1980). According to BaronSat’s site, this set is a “custom tribute model to the “Bespin” models of Kenner's Micro Collection line. Three playsets were sold at the time: Freeze Chamber, Control Room and Gantry. … The last playset “Torture Chamber” was never produced and is only visible as a prototype”.

I was obsessed with all things Star Wars when I…

A Review of Inferno (1953), Film Noir in the Third Dimension

When frequenting websites that cover pop culture, I've noticed that the majority of commentary about 3D entertainment focuses on either the latest summer blockbusters or cutting edge virtual reality technology. Unfortunately, what these sites ignore is one very crucial thing that digital high-definition video technology brings to 3D: the restoration, preservation and distribution of vintage 3D movies from the 20th century.

This post will look at one of the best films from Hollywood's brief "golden age" of 3D during the '50s: Inferno, a film noir thriller that was directed by Roy Ward Baker*. So far, Inferno has been released twice on 3D Blu-ray: Once in the U.K. by Panamint and once in the U.S. by Twilight Time, and both releases come with different special features. (For a detailed comparison of these releases, go to DVD Beaver here.) I watched the Twilight Time release, so this review will discuss one of the special features on that version.

Inferno begins with…

Geeking Out on the Go

Over the last few months, I've been facing many challenges to keeping this blog going. Most of them were technical--I was never in the right place to have the right tech with me to get blog posts done. Or so I thought.

It hadn't occurred to me that most of what I needed to blog was right there with me, and all I needed were a few extra, affordable add-ons--namely apps and portable keyboards--to keep bloggin' away. That's right: Even though I call myself a geek, it still took me some time to figure out what plenty of other geeks had already figured out.

Just about every IT device I interact with every day has a keyboard option of some sort, either through a touch screen display or a Bluetooth connection. Thus, the concept of "portable computing" that I've been reading about for years (for a decade, at least) had arrived and I didn't realize it. Boy, is my nerd face red ....

So thanks for staying with me, blog readers. I'll be taking this blog on the r…