Friday, June 28, 2013

Old School Week: The Killer Shrews

Welcome back kids and on to Day 4 of Old School Week.  I was idly glancing at some the requests I have been reading and I thought I have not reviewed a 1950’s horror film before and heck fire I surely can find one that molds well into that of which I do review.  So get your Dixieland Jazz, stock up on booze and don’t emote much.  This is The Killer Shrews.

The Joan Collins' story!!

Automatic pilot can’t play spoilers like I can.

Special Effects coordinator/director Ray Kellogg (The Giant Gila Monster, My Dog, Buddy, The Monroes and The Green Berets) was better known in the movie industry for doing scale model effects and superimposing camera angles and yet someone got it in their head to give this man a directing gig.   Captain Thorne Sherman (James Best of The Dukes of Hazzard, Hooper, Savages, Gator, Rolling Thunder and The End) make a delivery of supplies to a remote island with a group of genetic researchers when a freak hurricane smacks the region of water.  The captain is leery to try to unload the cargo do to the weather.  He and his first mate Griswold (Judge Henry Dupree of The Killer Shrews and My Dog, Buddy) shove off (YOU SHOVE OFF!!!) to land to inform the residents of the delay.  They notice a really large fence about 9 feet high.  I know you are all thinking they are filming porn and you are dead wrong.  I double checked just for you.  

Yeah you hiked up your trousers good!

Dr. Craigis (Baruch Lumet of One Third of a Nation, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Interns, The Group and The Wild Party) his daughter Ann (Ingrid Goude of The Tattered Dress, The Big Beat, The Bob Cummings Show, Wild Heritage, Never Steal Anything Small and Holiday for Lovers) and her fiancĂ©e Jerry Farrell (Ken Curtis of The Alamo, Have Gun-Will Travel, How the West Was Won, Ripcord, Gunsmoke and Robin Hood) decide to end world hunger by trying to shrink the human metabolism by trying this experimental formula on shrews for a comparison to humanity’s appetite but it had a total reversal and the shrews started getting larger and larger.
Lassie??!!! What did you do to Timmy??!!!

The creatures escape and proceed to wreak merry merry havoc on the island as the scientists and crewmen are terrified by said creature.  From the monsters able to burrow through the walls and strike without warning; our intrepid party decide to make a break for the boat and risk the hurricane versus the mutations running rampant.

I have a few quick notes on this.  First off what in God’s green earth was Ken Curtis doing on this flick?  Well it was his hold over flick before Gunsmoke fame and he also produced this movie.   For shame Festus!!!    Writer Jay Simms (The Giant Gila Monster, Law of the Plainsman, Panic in Year Zero!, The Rifleman, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Big Valley and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father) had a successful career writing Western TV after two creature feature screenplays.   This is truly a stinker from start to finish but it is still quite amusing to view.

Another high ball, Captain?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Old School Week: Angel Season 1

Back again film and TV fans and welcome to day 3 of Old School Week and I thought I would tackle a TV series this time and frankly touch base on a show I have never covered.  So for those Whedon fans out there it seems only fitting and fair we tackle a certain vampire hero.   So gather that holy water, grab your religious totem and sharpen a few stakes.  This is Angel Season 1

Stakes are ready, boys!

Doyle: I’ve been sent by the spoilers that be.

Once upon a time, there was a vicious vampire.  A creatures so fierce, so horrendous that other vampires did not want to cross him, and then he foolishly fed on a gypsy girl that was beloved by her tribe and they cursed the vampire to restore his soul.  Forced to atone for his sins he lives out his undead life in taking out vampires and demons.  He falls for a vampire slayer and has an amazing torrid love story with her until his soul is tempted by perfect happiness, turning him back into the monster he was.  

My fan club is bigger than yours, ya ponce!

After Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel (David Boreanz of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, These Girls, Mr. Fix-It, Officer Down and Bones) leaves Sunnydale to stave off returning to the beast he moves to Los Angeles to fight for the downtrodden and defenseless from creatures of the darkness.  Heading back to his dwelling he encounters a man name of Doyle (Glen Quinn of Shout, Dr. Giggles, Live Nude Girls, Roseanne, The Curse of Monkey Island, R.S.V.P., and Fair City) who states their paths have crossed and he will assist him in the fight against evil.   Another Sunnydale resident has made her way to L.A., Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, What Boys Like, Miss Match, Voodoo Moon, Relative Chaos, Veronica Mars and The Lying Game) chooses to pursue an acting career but still not very street smart when dealing with the forces of darkness.  As a subsidiary for Angel saving her life Cordelia wishes offer her help in exchange for a salary. 

Now I have just a few tidbits on the show overall.  Executive producer/ writer David Greenwalt (The Commish, Profit, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Miracles, Jake 2.0, Moonlight and Grimm) had taken the reins of this show when writer/director Joss Whedon (Roseanne, Alien: Resurrection, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse and The Avengers) was juggling the later Buffy episodes and Firefly and still managing to create viable entities in this existing universes these two created.

Hold you closer tiny dancer?

Personally I felt this spin-off stood on its own and allowed cast members of both shows to frequent back and forth creating crossover episodes of which is more of a comic book theme but in this particular mixed genre it worked well and still was a powerful show for many folk of varied ages to enjoy and yes I am well aware how many a gay man and straight female would NOT shut up about Season 5 of Angel but that is a completely different review down the way.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Old School Week : Vampire Hunter D

Old School Week starts up again and this time I thought we would take in an anime.  Hmm this title will do nicely as we seem to have the need for supernatural and science fiction so let’s get to it.
So grab a refreshing soda, maybe a savory treat and find your favorite sitting chair.   This is Vampire Hunter D.

There he goes on a horse with no name.

Count Magnus Lee: What a wonderful night this has been! For the first time in one hundred years I haven’t been spoiled once!

From the Japanese novels of same title Hideyuki Kikuchi (Vampire Hunter D, Raiser of Gales, Demon Deathchase, Tale of the Dead Town, The Stuff of Dreams and The Rose Princess) written well over 25 novels in regards to this character and the world surrounding it.  Some time in 1999 a nuclear war occurred and the population suffered for it.  Vampires knowing all along it was only a matter of time when humanity would do such; uses their vast technology to shield certain pockets of humanity around the planet. Keeping the human population to a steady amount and given their technology is less advanced, the vampires walk among their “cattle” and causing them to live in fear and torment.  They postulate and preen that they are of great nobility and should be treated as such.

Optic blast fire!

The year is 12,090 AD; a young sheep herder named Doris Lang is making guard rounds her farm to insure no predators get to her herd when she is attack by the lord of the land Count Magnus Lee, a 10,000 year old vampire who intends on making Doris his new bride, leaves cackling as he plots, schemes and prepares for his new concubine.

Hungry Hippos: A Gothic Fairy tale.

A day later a man shrouded in black the name of D riding a cybernetic horse sees Doris is in trouble and offers her his help for 100 pieces of gold.  She even offers herself to him because she is completely desperate to fight the vampires.    Our young vampire hunter assures her that will not be necessary and he will take the job.   The counts’ minions and even the count’s own daughter Lamika feels utter distain to bringing a country bumpkin human into the House of Lee and she is torn between her loyalty to her father and her disgust for her would be stepmother.

And now I just have a few points about this anime.  Lead animation designer Yoshitaka Amano(Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, 1001 Nights, Gatchaman and Angel’s Egg)and animation character designer/animator Noriyasu Yamauchi (City Hunter, Gunbuster, Megami Paradise, Agent Aika and Cowboy Bebop) were given this challenge to create not only this post-apocalyptic vision but to give off elements of terror and gore.  I say now this IS NOT for the kids, people.  With depictions of extreme violence, some nudity and more than a fair share of snark, this is truly an adult themed animation.  

Batter up!

We have elements of mystery, intrigue, violence and the animosity between the human working class and residing authority.  The realm is almost a new dark age with technology cobbled from the previous years prior to the nuclear holocaust.  This gives of the feel of a sci-fi fantasy and old west theme which makes for a decent tale of our unknown vampire hunter and why he alone must step into the darkness to destroy it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Old School Week: Bloody Murder

Old School Week begins and nothing says old school quite like a mindless slasher movie.  Let’s just skim through IMDB and see what we can find, shall we?     Ah here looks like a family delight so pop that jiffy pop, sink down in your cushy couch and prepare for a scare.   This is Bloody Murder.

Comin' for ya, Pooh Bear!

Spoilers come in lots of different forums.  It’s all miserable.

Ah we open our amazing opus with a gaggle of teenagers in a SUV traveling to their summer job as camp counselors at Camp Placid Pines to prep it for the onslaught of bouncy, sugar ridden youngsters who they will be responsible for.   As they ride down they begin their scintillating dialogue that was stolen from every later Friday the 13th.

Trim you good, hedge!

Seriously they have a ghost story of a kid Trevor Moorhouse whose father was the head counselor and little Trevor constantly tattled on every kid working there if they were slacking, fooling around or partaking in a spiff or a cocktail.   It was said he drowned in the lake years ago but no body was found.   Later on there were tales of kids going there and never coming back.   DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND VAGUELY FAMILIAR????!!!!   

Car trouble??

Following true to form of this tired formula, the kids split off to do their chores and slowly but surely the cast is being methodically killed off by a guy in a jumpsuit with a hockey mask?  However, the fellow in question is very thin; the outfit looks baggy on him and frankly wouldn’t scare a child because he looks like he is cosplaying in the woods.    The local law enforcement is of course inept at doing paperwork let alone dealing with a serial slasher of such awesome cunning and they play a round of red herring with one of the cast.     The premise is simple, the dialogue feels like it was yanked from every low budgeted slasher from the 80’s having Friday the 13th envy, the acting is more wooden than the plank they should all be walking off and apparently kills rely on tight out of frame focus and about 3 simplistic gore gags.  

The fake blood could have used some black dye in it and they are attempting to make this part ghost story and part suspense even though they did enough exposition to fill a novella.  It was shot on 35mm spherical and shot in stereo and I am guessing that is all the community college was going to let these yahoos use.    Sorry to say it slasher fans but there is next to no violence as it is implied (couldn’t afford effects), very little harsh or suggestive language and absolutely no nudity.  Feels like the kiddie ride at the slasher theme park.

Operator! Quick I need...(LINE!)

The editing was fair and some of the jump cuts as well as scares could have really brought some genuine scares if shot better at night and oh what else…hmm…oh yeah not ask your friends to star in it and bargain for some actual actors.   The scene chewing of too much dialogue and the fact that almost every counselor has someone close dead in their life was absurd and unnecessary.    The potential for a decent film was there and the concept is a solid enough formula but writer John R Stevenson (Bloody Murder and Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp) just overcompensated due to lack of experience.

Old School Week

Let's kick it.  Yeah I'm sorry and will never use that term again.  The meaning behind Old School Week is to review a movie, TV Show season or video game at random.  I wanted to get back to my routes of reviewing as I used to and frankly it is a bit more fun picking material out of a hat rather than adhering to the rigors of what I set out for the week and the week after.  So if you will indulge me on this little endeavor, I shall attempt to make it fun as always.

Better do what da man says, sucka!

Also I cannot stress enough to plug some comments or even some requests.  Not saying the well has run dry but come on people, if this lacks in anyone having fun on these reads it is you all.  Take your time and think about something fun you would like to see on here.  No rush needed but I always love a little input.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tremor Week: Tremors: The Series

Back again Graboid fans and I know many of you are asking; is this damn week over yet??!!!   Well as luck would have it we are at the cusp of the end with the last project involving Graboids, Shriekers and Ass Blasters.   Yes I still frown at that last name myself.  Sci-fi channel found them in a bit of a pickle with the 4th season of Farscape put on hold to the point of not having it.  What to do for that time slot?  Well the folks at Stampede Entertainment provided 13 episodes of Graboid, Shrieker and Ass Blaster entertainment.  So grab your space blankets to block your body heat, grab your SMGs and stockpile your ammo.  This is Tremors: The Series.
Next thing I shoot is my agent.

Burt Gummer: The possibility for spoilers boggles the mind.

Recapping after the third movie, Desert Jack moved to Vegas and left the business to a poor dope name of Tyler Reed (Victor Browne of One Life to Live, Rescue 77, Desolation Canyon, The Confessional and The Invited), former Nascar racer and adrenaline junkie.  As his gorgeous Charger is drug under the dirt by the sterile Graboid known as El Blanco, Burt Gummer (Michael Gross of Family Ties, Cool as Ice, Tremors, In the Line of Duty, Tremors II: Aftershocks, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection and E.R.) saves Reed’s bacon by lobbing a concussion grenade in the area of El Blanco.   

Miss me??!!!

With the loud sound scaring him off, Gummer and Reed head into town.   Meeting up at Chang’s Market; Jodi (Lela Lee of Flow, Yellow, Charmed, The Girls’ Room, Scrubs and Exposed) and Nancy (Maricia Strassman of Welcome Back, Kotter, Good Time Harry, Booker, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Noah Knows Best and Third Watch) try to get the full story while Gummer rants and raves about the current conditions of Perfection Valley which dictates that El Blanco is an endangered species and their land is protected by law but they still have to tread carefully with the Department of the Interior which was assigned Agent Twitchell (Dean Norris of Total Recall, T2: Judgment Day, Windfall, Medium and Breaking Bad) to deal with these insane Graboid incursions as well as another McGuffin device known as a compound called Mix Master.

 Founded in a secret lab back in the early 50’s, this agent could blend animal, mineral and plant life to new and exciting hybrids.  Due to the lab not being on the up and up, the Pentagon had the lab sealed but Mix Master got loose and proceeds to combine creates and plants to a vast level of sheer insanity making the valley even more dangerous than before.

Hate being El Blanco's catering service.

The cast also adds a former Vegas showgirl and the late Miguel’s only living relative Rosalita (Gladys Jimenez of Secrets of a Chambermaid, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and East Side Story), a sassy, brassy gal with a past she doesn't like speaking of.

Here are just a few highlights and critiques about the show.  The potential of this TV series was there but it was introduced on Sci-Fi after they announced they were not sure if they wanted to do more Farscape episodes so I can imagine quite a few pissed off fans and they didn’t want to give this “filler” show the time of day.  Its poor ratings really screwed fans of the movie series and denied the possibilities for more Tremors fun to be had.  As a fan of the movie however I have to acknowledge there was a bit of tripe writing as they were having adventures every other day or Gummer and Reed went out of town to tend to a Graboid issue so it was getting a bit silly. 

Snipe Hunt: In Color!

The crane, slow pan and zoom handheld was top notch and our boys from KNB EFX and 4-Ward Productions did a fine job with prosthetics and CGI renderings but guessing the fickle audience just could not settle down to this for the next 3 to 4 seasons.   Ah well that is life.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tremors Week : Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

Welcome back buckaroos to further adventures of Graboids and their prey…which is just about anything that cannot run fast enough or stop making sound.  Well today we throw off the shackles of what we know about this creatures and how to track them.  In fact, let’s get rid of all those technological marvels that would aid in capture and elimination and go back to a simpler time in Americana.  Say about 1889 when Perfection Valley went under a different name of Rejection.   So grab your ten gallon hat, your six-shooter and do your level best to blast a critter.   This is Tremors 4: The Legend Begins.

Mmm Mexican. My favorite!

Black Hand Kelly: I’ll tell ya one thing, I ain’t got your book-learnin’, but I do know this: being full-growed don’t make ya a spoiler.

The founding members of Rejection Valley are more or less dependent on the silver mine residing near the valley.   Deep in the mines a hot spring erupts and causes a series of eggs to hatch and the mine becomes a death trap for anyone that sets foot in it.  Christine Lord (Sara Botsford of E.N.G., As the World Turns and The Arrow) runs the local tavern and hotel. Pyong Lien Chang (Ming Lo of Jarhead, Million Dollar Baby and The Pursuit of Happyness) and his wife Lu Wan (Lydia Look of The Proud Family, 10,000 Days and Battle of the Damned) run the local grocery and feed store.

Alright, which one of you had beans yet again?!

Burt Gummer’s ancestor Hiram Gummer (Michael Gross of Family Ties, With a Vengeance, Tremors, Avalanche, Tremors II: Aftershocks, Ground Control and Batman Beyond: The Movie) is the exact opposite of his descendant in that he is a well-mannered, lofty businessman from the East with no experience with firearms or any real physical activity at all.  This man is at best a dandy and demands to know why his silver mine is not being productive. One of the miners Juan Pedilla (Brent Roam of Deep Blue Sea, Desert Saints, Toolbox Murders and Patients) speaks out on what the town has agreed as sensationalist hooey.   That the mine is infested with desert dragons as they call them and Hiram will have not of this.   Hiram mounts up a few miners with guns and they proceed out to the valley in the hopes of putting an end to this nonsense.  Low and behold creatures spring out from the ground and proceed to devour the miners. 

With only Juan and Hiram to make it back alive the town believes the only way to end this nightmare is hiring a lethal and professional gunfighter the name of Black Hand Kelly (Billy Drago of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Charmed, Revamped, Demon Hunter, The Hills Have Eyes and Revamped) in the hopes that the crisis will be averted.

Blast that crazed howler monkey offscreen!!

And now I have just a bit of information of the film, with being shot in 35mm Dolby Digital, a bit of crane work and mostly dolly, the fine folks of K.N.B. EFX Group (Day of the Dead, Evil Dead II, From Dusk til Dawn, Phantasm II, Bride of the Re-Animator) and miniatures effects 4-Ward Productions (Tremors, Darkman, Batman Returns, Captain Ron, Dracula and Planet of the Apes) work side by side to create the hybrids of scale model and forced perspective as well as full scale prosthetic creatures. 

I, myself am not the biggest fan of prequels but I do understand that they wanted to tap into a formula with the series to renew it and make it fresh.  All in all I thought the production came out well but yes I also found it a bit more hammy than Brian Adams love songs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

210th Blog!! Tremors Week: Tremors 3: Back to Perfection

Welcome back campers to Day 3 of Tremors Week.  We are in the swing of things on this happy hump day so why not have some more Graboid adventures?  I mean c’mon you have a fair amount of free time if you are reading this blog.   So what say we go back to where it all began?   So stockpile your bomb making material, prep your RC car bomb bait, and get your BFGs ready.   This is Tremors III: Back to Perfection.
Come fly with me!! Let's fly..let's fly away!!!

Burt: Need I remind you Jack? They are not your friends they are spoilers. OVER!

11 years after the first Graboid encounter, the town of Perfection has settled and getting a bit of a tourist attraction feel.  Chang’s Market has been taken over by Walter’s niece Jodi (Susan Chuang of Dharma & Greg, Melvin Goes to Dinner, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, Cold Case and Escort Service) Nancy (Charlotte Stewart of Little House on the Prairie, Eraserhead, Tremors and Slums of Beverly Hills) gets her pottery collection is going well but she cannot afford for Mindy (Ariana Richards of Tremors, Timescape, Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Battledogs) to college. Miguel (Tony Genaro of La Bamba, Tremors, Phenomenon, The Mask of Zorro and Mighty Joe Young) is tending to his horse ranch and it is striving.  Out of town in Chile a Graboid sighting was taking place.  By the time the local government took the reports seriously the Graboid took on its secondary evolution known as Shrieker.  A hermaphroditical creature that doubles its number after enough food is allotted to it. 

Nothing phallic in this picture...honest.

Burt (Michael Gross of Family Ties, Big Business, Tremors, Tremors II: Aftershocks, True Heart, Ground Control and Combustion) has the right tools for the problem as these creatures hunt by heat emission.  Cutting close to 30 of these creatures down with a dual 50 caliber anti-aircraft gun turret he heads home back to Perfection only to find out some half assed nitwit calling himself Desert Jack (Shawn Christian of Crossing Jordan, Red Skies, Birds of Prey, Summerland, Boston Legal and Days of our Lives) hosting this mock up Graboid tours.   However the underground dwelling creatures may not be completely extinct in Perfection to the likes the town though. 

Burt Gummer is most annoyed with everyone letting their seismometer system go to pot.  Without proper monitoring they have no idea how long the graboids have been around and therefore no idea when they may become shriekers.  Everyone points out to Burt that he may be a bit paranoid and needs to relax.   Proven right Burt calls the town to action.  It is either them or the critters.
After combating a few shriekers they noticed husks have been shedded from the shriekers meaning yet another evolution has occurred with the creature.  They now can rocket to the sky with some sort of blast off capability and glide for great distances.  Jodi cruelly names these new species Ass blasters.  Yes, cue porno jokes left and right. 


I just have a few acknowledgements for the film.  Tippet Studio (Hollow Man, Blade II, Men in Black II, Hellboy and Catwoman) is responsible for the CGI portion and back to Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (Alien 3, Death Becomes Her, Michael, Alien: Resurrection, Starship Troopers and Spider-Man) for the animatronics and prosthetic creatures as with the previous movies.  

The blending with CGI and physical props looks better with this film because the use of green screens versus the blue screen used for Tremors II.   This film is truly for the fans and not to be watched independently from the series.  With the same warped humor of the first two and creature surprises yet again it offers some inside gags and in general has a good nature of silly.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tremors Week: Tremors II: Aftershocks

Welcome back kiddies to Day 2 of Tremors Week and I hope you are ready for Creature EFX and CGI!!! If not; well tough.  When we last left our heroes of Perfection they had survived the great encounter of the named “Graboids” and each made something of their lives.   So grab some dynamite, prep a RC car and hope he swallows the bait.   This is Tremors II: Aftershocks.

Okay boys, let's go eat the ADI!!!

Burt Gummer: I am COMPLETELY out of spoilers.  That’s never happened to me before.

6 years after the Graboid encounter in Perfection, Val and Rhonda got married and are living off the dividends of the creature discovery while Earl (Fred Ward of Catchfire, Cast a Deadly Spell, The Player, Equinox and Invasion: Earth) sunk his money into an Ostrich farm…because he is really got his finger so far from the pulse of what is a good investment.  

A taxi cab rolls up to his ranch and he is approached by a fellow Senor Ortega (Marcelo Tubert of Man Against the Mob: The Chinatown Murders, Partners in Life, Vampire in Brooklyn and Leprechaun 3) who owns Petromaya Oil Field and he must shut the pumps down due to Graboid infestation.  As an expert, he figures Earl would be an asset to removing the creatures, saving his workers and getting the oil field up and running again.   Ortega’s cabbie, Grady Hoover (Christopher Gartin of Buddies, M.A.N.T.I.S., Friends and Family and Hitched) offers to assist Earl for a sum of the money.  $50,000 buckaroos per Graboid.   The Mexican government is offering whatever arms and munitions they need to wipe these creatures out.

Got Kevin Bacon right in the crosshairs...

 Earl reluctantly heads to the oil field with Grady and meets up with the geologist/biologist Kate Reilly (Helen Shaver of Desert Hearts, The Color of Money, Open Season, The Wishing Tree and Poltergeist: The Legacy) and her assistant handy man and tech Julio (Marco Hernandez of Cheers, Ghetto Blaster, Red Surf and Lois & Clark).  They have set up seismographic monitors to point out the graboids, Earl and Grady simply taunt them with a noisy RC car rigged with dynamite and boom!  Instant 50 gees!   After realizing they are outnumbered the boys feel some back up would help and call survivalist Burt Gummer (Michael Gross of Just Tell Me What You Want, Family Ties, Big Business, Tremors, E.R. and Batman Beyond: The Movie) to the scene.  

With Burt’s need for overkill, he is packing big bore rifles and enough high explosives to make a crater the size of the Grand Canyon.   After a few more graboids meet their maker, one runs away from Earl and Grady howling in pain.  It ceases shrilling and the boys go to investigate only to find the worm is torn out. Some sort of metamorphism has occurred.   Have the worms turned?  What will this new life form be like and can they stop it in time?
Hmm, wonder if anyone noticed I beefed.

I have just a few highlights about the FX of the film.  Tippet Studio (Hollow Man, Blade II, Men in Black II, Hellboy and Catwoman) is responsible for the CGI portion and back to Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (Alien 3, Death Becomes Her, Michael, Alien: Resurrection, Starship Troopers and Spider-Man) for the animatronics and prosthetic creatures.  The hybrid of both physical and virtual props does flush out more of what the creatures’ movement and attacks can be.
Spoonful of sugar this, Mary Poppins!!

The sad part is this was a direct to video/DVD film and could have benefited from some screen time.  The writing was not as sound as the original but that was due primarily to the creatures already been unveiled.  A decent enough sequel to the original but I would prefer more of the survivors of the original joining in.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tremors Week: Tremors

Greetings and welcome to Tremors Week Day 1.   We explore the craze of 1990 when writer Brent Maddock (Short Circuit, *batteries not included, Short Circuit 2, Heart and Souls and Tremors 2: Aftershocks) brought to Universal Studios a creature feature formula of the 1950’s about a series of human and animal attacks and yet no sign of the predator in question.  No tracks, remains or even feces were found.   So grab your Winchester (rifle not Sam or Dean), don’t leave your car running and above all else be cool.  This is Tremors.

Well that's no deer.

Burt Gummer: Broke in the wrong rec room, didn’t you? You spoiler!

Following the resurrection of the creature features in the same way Critters and Gremlins did for the 1980’s; our story begins in the former mining settlement Perfection Nevada.  The population is 14, the area is wide spread prairie and isolation formed from a mountain range.  Handymen Valentine McKee (Kevin Bacon of Animal House, Friday the 13th, Footloose, Stir of Echoes and The Following) and Earl Basset (Fred Ward of Escape from Alcatraz, Carny, Southern Comfort, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Off Limits and The Prince of Pennsylvania) have grown sick of this one horse town and the crap jobs that go along with it.   They decide to pack it in and leave for the nearest town called Bixby.

Gullet Cam!!!

On their way out of town they see a man sitting up on an electrical town swaying on the beams.  The boys drag this corpse to the town doctor when he announces the fella died of dehydration.  Baffling as that is local shepherd Old Fred and his flock is viciously attacked by an unknown creature.  Val and Earl past by the ranch to find the sheep have been ripped to pieces and even discover Old Fred’s dead head.  Heh that was too fun. 

Careful honey, Chuck Heston is wily!!!

Thinking there is a lunatic on the loose Val and Earl head back into town to hold a pow wow at the local grocer Chang (Victor Wong of Year of the Dragon, Big Trouble in Little China, The Golden Child, The Last Emperor and Prince of Darkness) survivalist couple Burt (Michael Gross of Family Ties, Alan & Naomi, Avalanche, Tremors II: Aftershocks and True Heart) and Heather (Reba McEntire of North, The Little Rascals, On Night at McCool’s and Reba)  former hippie Nancy (Charlotte Stewart of  Little House on the Prairie, Eraserhead, and  Slums of Beverly Hills) her daughter Nancy (Ariana Richards of Jurassic Park, Timescape and The Lost World: Jurassic Park)grad seismologist Rhonda (Finn Carter of China Beach, Sweet Justice, Secret Service Guy and The Outer Limits) and local horse rancher Miguel (Tony Genaro of Switch, Final Analysis, Equinox, Heart and Souls, Speechless, The Mask of Zorro and Price of Glory) the heads up and that they should be ready.   

Burt and Heather are armed to the teeth look at this as just another excuse to bear arms…possibly arm bears too.  Unbeknownst to our local yokels the threat is far greater as the creatures pop out of the ground and attack.  Will the town go under and will anyone be left to tell the tale?

Yikes just envisioned Hentai for some reason!

I have just a few comments on the FX alone attached to this film.  From scale model work to the roving creature at full scale 4-ward Productions with the assistance of KNB EFX captured every facet of the creature from stop animation, miniatures and pneumatic puppetry.  This film is memorable for performance, dialogue of an amusing nature and its effects.  It’s silly, slightly scary and really amusing.  It had a major influence on the equally ridiculous Lake Placid series.  Take that for what it is worth.

Tremors Week

Howdy all.  This week I thought we would tackle a franchise based on the old Atomic mutation and large creature features.  A throwback that caught like wild fire spawning 3 sequels as well as a 14 episode television series based on said film.  I am referring to Tremors.  Yes from Kevin Bacon antics of underground monsters to the evolution of the beasties on a biological scale, these plug uglies got to terrorize a tiny town known as Perfection Valley Nevada to as far as Chilie.

Stay tuned for the week's bizarre phenomenon that swept over 6 million fans and counting and be advised there are three more...repeat...three more mother humpers.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

N64 Week: GoldenEye

Hello first person shooters and welcome to Day 5 of N64 Week.  I apologize for the delay but unforeseen weather dictated I did not have my computer on so we are playing catch up and hey isn’t that the same thing a double O deals with too?  With the clock ticking, trained soldiers or even organized crime a double O has to be ready to improvise, get the intel, confirm and execute.   So grab your tux or cocktail dress, prep your silencer for your Walther PP7 and get ready to do a myriad of things for Queen and country.   This is GoldenEye N64.


Alec Trevelyan: Why can’t you be a good spoiler and die?

Based on the 1995 James Bond movie of same title; GoldenEye is a single-player game in with players assume the identity of 007 James Bond himself as he takes down a Russian crime syndicate before they can use a satellite weapon against London and time is running out fast.  With each passing moment, Bond is required to get through 20 levels of men attacking him, obstacles and main level bosses.

It is you who is outgunned!!

The game also has a 4 person multiplayer option with a split screen and radar allowing two, three or even four players to a few death match rounds or even a capture the flag game.  Personally I prefer the License to Kill option meaning your target is hit once he or she dies instantly.   Makes things more challenging. 
Among the collection of weapons to this game are assault rifles, submachine guns, pistols, shotguns, silenced weapons, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, grenade launchers and Moonraker laser pistols.    

I got a rocket for your sprocket..Hey hey...Ho ho.

Okay now that we got over the boring humdrum part, let’s get to a few tips and tricks.

Bank shot:  Okay you have followed your quarry and he or she is just around the corner but you know the moment you pop your head out you are taking more lead than a paint factory.  With the grenade launcher you can bounce a round off the wall in a diagonal shot the fire and blast can provide cover or even with the blast radius can take out your opponent.  Don’t get too cocky and get close to the blast or it will take you out just as easily.

Targeting crosshairs: Whether it is a pistol, SMG or rocket launcher the crosshairs provided by your R button is your friend.  Trying to hit a target from a distance can be tricky but this cuts your problem down by half.  Don’t wait too long to line up a shot because your friends can do the same just as well or even better.  Bottom line if you have a great hiding spot and vantage point this is ideal.  Off the cuff and running from a hail of bullets this will just get you killed quicker than stepping on a land mine.

Proximity mine placement: My two best friends are the ones to lay this ground work in my experience.  Don’t bother dropping a mine at the floor; chuck it at the ceiling, a narrow passageway or in a deep shadow.  The bomb is set and primed.  The downside to proximity mines this is a need to REMEMBER where you put them.  The other problem is if you die in one location there is a better than average chance you wind up in the area you just mined.

Hand grenades:  Pull the pin and toss?  Yeah that doesn’t always guarantee you a kill.  Cook off at least two seconds then chuck or lightly toss depending how close your enemies are.    An easy use of the grenade is dropping it from a height and running like your butt is on fire. 

Aha! Now to hide under the cover of...air.

While the graphics are not as stellar now this game sold more than 8 million units making it the third highest selling N64 game behind Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64 and has spawn a series of spin-off PC and well as other console successors giving it 1998 Console Game of the Year; fans of the Bond films and game franchise still hold it in high regards and in their hearts.  Truly the first FPS that got it right!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

N64 Week: Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

Howdy gaming geeks and welcome back to Day 4 of N64 Week.   Given how many different first person shooter games have been established since the 1995 Castle Wolfenstein; I thought it best to focus on Lucasarts growing collection of third person shooter games.  Third person means you actually see your character interact around in his or her surroundings plus you also see the character his or herself. First person is just from the character’s POV.   At the time PC CD-Rom games were getting a wide variety in first and third person shooter but Lucasarts decided to expand its existing Star Wars franchise into new player heroes.  So strap on your blaster, keep your wits about you and brush up on your swoop bike skills.  This is Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire.

Trust me ladies!

Based on the novel written by Steve Perry (Shadow of the Empire: Evolution, MedStar I: Battle Surgeons, MedStar II: Jedi Healer and Death Star) this game like its same name titled book fell as a prequel between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  
Our main protagonist Dash Rendar and his droid Leebo have arrived on Hoth prior to the battle and are dropping off supplies for a tidy sum.  After chatting up with Han Solo he convinces Solo to drop him in a Snowspeeder with Rogue Squadron to fight off the AT-ATs (All Terrain Armored Transport) and provide cover for the escaping ships.  

Ew, Wampa breeding pens.

As the rest of the ships are taking off the Snowstorm troopers have entered the base and have cut you off from your ship the Outrider.  You must get past a small army of storm troopers, a few Wampas and oh yes an AT-ST (All Terrain Scout Transport) armed with turbo lasers that could blast through several feet of ice and concrete.  No sweat, right?
The game is done in true Lucasarts standard.  Treating the game over a series of interaction from Empire Strikes Back, Dash throws in his lot with the Rebels and tries to assist them in 10 different levels ranging over a period of months and chapters. 

Stinking sewers...not getting paid enough for this.

Now I think it is time for some handy hints and tips on this particular game.  
Invincibility and Infinite Ammo:  You know you love it, you know you want it and here is how to get it.  On the Hard setting of the game you need to get all the challenge points before the code works.   Then you hold the crouch button for 15 seconds on the first person levels and boom instant invulnerability and unlimited ammo.   Mind you, if you fall off a cliff or scaffolding you are still gonna die.
Infrared Vison: Seeing in different spectrums of light comes in handy.  Press on Control buttons, the L, R and Z at the same time.  Then while those buttons are pressed gently move the Control stick around until the screen turns green.  Technically this is Night Vision and you will see yourself and all enemies easily.

Defeat Wampas Easy Peasy:  Okay so you lack the Force, a lightsaber and a crusty puppet to cheer you on to your fledgling abilities so I too would be scared of a Wampa.  Lucky for you there are at least 4 on most of the Hoth levels.  They however are in cages to be released.  Why the rebels needed Wampas on standby?  Oh who has time for these questions?  Release them both and run like a bat out of Hell to the main door.  These critters will start wailing on each other.  Then you can pick off the battered winner with your blaster.   Pretty Machiavellian, wouldn't you say?

The levels vary from third person shooter, to racing down a swarm of swoop bike scumbags trying to kill Skywalker to outer space battles.  Your only real pain is adapting to the graphics of this older series.  The music is full orchestral and none of that synthesized crap from Rogue Squadron as it is also the first 3D incorporated game.  So if you miss a jet pack of less than controllable capabilities, blasters with explosive shells and heat seekers and heck a jump that doesn’t go higher than 3 feet then brothers and sisters welcome back to Shadows of the Empire!