Friday, August 30, 2013

Babylon 5 Movie Week: Babylon 5: In the Beginning

Welcome back my blooming observers of the Omniverse.    It was hinted that the Minbari were a peaceful race but proud and willfull as well.  The year is 2245 and EarthForce has just managed to fend off their first threat; a species known as the Dilgar and EarthForce handed them their heads. So prime the main guns, set the twin particle arrays to stun and keep the commerce going.  This is Babylon 5: In the Beginning.

Mardi Gras got out of hand.

Delenn:  It is said that in every age, there is one singular spoiler that forever changes the world around us. A nexus if you will.

Our movie opens with the remains of Centauri Prime up in flames and tattered buildings, a young Centauri boy and girl play in the royal throne room. An aged Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik of Hill Street Blues, Problem Child, Dear John, Babylon 5: The Gathering, Babylon 5, Sliders and 42) lets the boy be Emperor of all the Centauri Republic for 5 minutes, during this time the lad can give any order he wants.  The lad demands a story of epic battles between heroes and villains.  The young girl asks for a true story.  Mollari sighs with a heavy burden but decides to give the children both what they want and speaks of the Earth-Minbari war which occurred 35 years priop when he was still the ambassador to Earth.
 Before the war, Earthgov is cocky as hell due to their triumph over the Dilgar and they are expanding out into space, creating colonies and pushing their ships and cruisers in the reaches of space. 

You will bow before me Jor-El!!!

Meanwhile the Grey Council of the Minbari are ever vigilant to the resurrection of the Shadows and chose to investigate Z’ha’dum (the planet of the Shadows’ origin) when they encounter the Earth ships.  As a sign of respect, the Minbari open their ship’s gunports and the Prometheus (Earthgov ship) assuming this is the beginning of an attack and fires at the Minbaris’ flag ship.  With their leader Dukhat dead, The Grey Council consists of three casts or clans if you will.  The warrior cast, workers cast and religious cast are comprised bringing order to their people and speak for each cast in the wider picture of things.  The Grey Council screams for blood demanding a holy war against all of humanity. A war lasting over ten years writing the battles in space with gallons of blood; the Minbari are a deeply spiritual people discover that their fellow souls are being shared with the Earthlings.  Minbari must never kill Minbari creating an immediate cease fire. 

I just have a quick couple of concerns about this film in the grand scope of the series.   Even if you are not a Babylon 5 fan, this is a compelling story of battle, potential dark days and overtly prideful peoples.  G’Kar (Andreas Katsulas of True Identity, Blame It on the Bellboy, Babylon 5: The Gathering, The Fugitive and Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Dr. Franklin (Richard Biggs of Walk Like a Man, Days of Our Lives, Babylon 5: The River of Souls and Crusade) seemed relegated to cameo appearances and that just don’t fly with the fans, man and while a few scenes establish the pasts of most of our characters, Garibaldi is nowhere at the station or in the war.  A mild annoyance at best this film does cover almost every facet of the war. There is triumph, good humor, mass explosions and more than a fair share of tragedy.

Annual chili cookout ends in tears.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Babylon 5 Movie Week: Babylon 5: Thirdspace

Back again my little space rangers and welcome to a belated Day 2 of Babylon 5 Movie Week.  Due to a slight injury yesterday I was a bit too sore to sit in this seat but I am well enough now to bring you lot some amusement and disturbing story arcs.   So fasten your space belts, prep the safety harness and breach that jumpgate.  This is Babylon 5: Thirdspace.

Thirdspace is crazy ya'll!

Susan Ivanova: Well, the spoilers are starting to circle.

For starters this film takes place in the year of 2261 (after Season 4, Episode 8: The Shadow War) so our heroes have conquered an ancient evil and allow themselves a moment to breathe.  Babylon 5 Star Fury patrols discover an immense artifact in hyperspace (point between normal space and travel faster than light) and the Interplanetary Expeditions Xenoarchaeologist Dr. Elizabeth Trent (Shari Belafonte of Hotel, The Midnight Hour, Beyond Reality, Hey Arnold! And Teacher of Year) to better decipher what it is, what it can do and how best to exploit it.  

Hungry Eeeyessss!!!

Current commander of Babylon 5 Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner of Tron, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice, Free Fall and Tron: Legacy) prepares for the worse and feels this artifact is a great and significant find but we should tread cautiously.  There is wisdom in these words but they atypically fall on deaf ears as human greed and arrogance rears its ugly head in these matters.  I was shocked as well.
Using a low level current to get better readings on the artifact the entire station seems to have their dreams influenced and are almost reduced to a vegetated state without proper explanation…or is there?
Dr. Trent comes to the conclusion the artifact is pre-existing Jumpgate before even the ancient Vorlons developed it and it starts drawing power from the station causing energy spikes all over the boards.  Hope tech and sub-repair get time and a half. 

Given all that is known by the Vorlons at this time we are given to revere them as wise, brave and with great compassion for the younger races.  The united races find it almost unprecedented that the Vorlons could ever falter.   The device activates on its own opening a passage to Thirdspace and this invasion force proceeds to lay waste to several cruisers and extracts massive destruction on the station itself.  EarthForce preps a counter attack and give our mysterious aliens on hell of a wingding.  These invaders single seat fighters even have shields so the Star Furies are in for one hell of a tumble.   The artifact itself seems to be disrupting the station but driving every sentient being on it to the brink of crackers.

The Galaxy's cutest couple.

I had just a few points to make on the film at this time.  The elevator seen between Zach Allen and Lyta that felt clunky and unnecessary was actually inserted (oOoOo kinky) to fill up time for the film.  Sci-fi and Sci-Fi Fantasy artist/author Wayne Barlowe designed the appearance of the artifact Thirdspace jumpgate  Not one of the better films due to the story flow feeling a bit interfered via time constraint but effects and performances remained spot on so yes you can have this one in your collection.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Babylon 5 Movie Week: Babylon 5: The Gathering

Hello there readers and welcome to the Babylon 5 Movie Week.  Starting us off with we begin logically at the beginning.   The year is 2257.  Earth has taken to the stars and engaged in battles with other species.  Yes humans just can’t help but be messing with peoples.  To create this complex series of creatures, other worlds and cultures we turn to Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski (Captain Power: The Beginning, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, The Real Ghost Busters, Jake and the Fatman,Jeremiah, Changeling, Thor, and World War Z) to open our minds to this realm.  So age that spoo, consult the elders and for God’s sake speak nothing of the Grey Council.   This is Babylon 5: The Gathering.

Look out for the credits, Phil!!!

Delenn:  I look forward to meeting a Vorlon.  I’ve heard much about them that is spoiler.

From humans to humanoid to just downright unexplainable lifeforms, the search of intergalactic peace is sought by many.  The place to allow commerce and peace talks are Babylon 5.  A hub in the galaxy allowing issues to be resolved amongst the 5 major space travelers of the known galaxies; humans, Narn, Centauri, Minbari and Vorlons.    It has been a 10 year commission to construct a place that prevents war; this 5 mile long space station is home to 250,000 residents, roughly 100,000 humans and 2,000 EarthForce personnel and including areas for business, living quarters and recreation.

Great, Londo is hammered...again.

Commander Sinclair (Michael O’ Hare of Fly Away Home, C.H.U.D., Into Thin Air, A Case of Deadly Force and Tales from the Darkside) runs this little bailiwick and boy howdy he has his work cut out for him.  Awaiting the final delegate of the Vorlons; Ambassador Kosh arrives 2 days ahead of schedule when he is falls ill in less than a minute of being on the station.   Station chief medical officer Dr. Kyle (Johnny Sekka of Woman of Straw, Khartoum, The Message and Passion Paradise) puts Kosh in quarantine and attempts to prevent his death while Security Chief Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle of The Outsider, Babylon 5, Babylon 5: The River of Souls, Devious Beings and Storm Watch) launches his own investigation into possible poisoning of the ambassador.   The Babylon Council consisting of the 5 major races hold the Commander in contempt and decree his guilt of attempted murder.  Not the best way your first day on the job can go.

A few comments about this movie now if you don’t mind.   With the introduction of CGI just in the wings, accomplished scale models and forced perspective; the visual effects can hold their own but this was a truly ambitious start to an impressive feat of writing as well as storytelling.   Complex characters and various story arcs were getting life breathed into them and frankly it offered a wide range of twists and turns for every adventure.   No two Babylon 5 episodes were the same and that is very difficult to do in a medium like science fiction.  This was only just the beginning of greater things to come.

Flying casually sir.

Babylon 5 Movie Week

Welcome eager young space cadets!!!  This week we will view the phenomenon that was Babylon 5.  Five seasons, seven films, series of novels and comic books this has been deemed one of America's finer science fiction.  I felt almost anyone can critique the seasons so I thought we would tackle the TV movies instead.

So grab your junior spaceman rocket belts and flitter on over to this Babylon 5 Movie Week.

Bit phallic ain't it?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hammer Features Week: The Curse of Frankstein

Greetings my fine cadre of readers welcome back to Day 4 of Hammer Features Week.  Again we will investigate the collection of Hammer Films to see they tapped into Mary Shelly’s finest creation.  So prep the kite with a key, prime the electrodes and throw the third switch.  This is The Curse of Frankenstein.

Whatever do you mean NO MORE COFFEE!!!

Baron Frankenstein: I’ve spoiled nobody, just robbed a few graves!

Our cinematic feature opens with Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing of Horror of Dracula, The Blood Beast Terror, Carnage, The Vampire Lovers, Dr. Who and the Daleks, Twins of Evil, Star Wars and Shock Waves) awaits his execution for murder and he chooses to tell the story of his life to a priest (Alex Gallier of Flame and the Flesh, Million Dollar Manhunt, Thunder Over Tangier, The Revenge of Frankenstein and The Man Inside) hearing his final confession.
As a young lad Victor’s father passed on at an early age in his life leaving him the estate and title of Frankenstein.  While overwhelming a friend of the family Paul Krempe(Robert Urquhart of Battle Hell, Dunkirk, Armchair Theatre, Jango, The Plane Makers and The Pathfinders) assists Victor in his experimental endeavors as they bring a dog back from the dead.  So naturally the next step is a human, right?

Christopher Lee when he wakes in the morning.

Victor begins to fasten his own creation from scavenged remains of the dead and even so far as slaying a distinguished professor through what is perceived as an accidental death.  He is most successful in his creation but Krempe leaves disgusted with the manner Victor has acquired his creature (Christopher Lee of Horror of Dracula, The Devil’s Agent, Horror Castle, Castle of the Living Dead, Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring).  Bad form to loot from the dead old boy and the two gents scuffle and damage the brain in its jar the creature is violent and psychotic.  They vow to lock it up for now but it inevitably escapes and crushes an old man in the woods.  Both Victor and Krempe hunt down the creature, shoot it and bury it the woods.  Yeah that won’t come and bite them in their ass.

Now I have just a few highlights of the movie if you will.    The original notion of the movie was to be done in black and white but Universal Studios raised a big stink and said it would ruin the classic Universal version with Boris Karloff so Hammer had to retune the script as well as shoot the film in Eastmancolour (the first European Technicolor 35mm Spherical).  Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing met professionally for the first time on the set of this film and developed a rapport and friendship until Cushing’s demise in 1994.    

Yes yes, I am vile and diabolical...but how is my port?

This of course is the first Frankenstein movie to be filmed in color setting precedence to this day.  Doctor Who alumni Patrick Troughton appeared in a cameo as a gravedigger and while the good fellow was credited to most of the early publicity material; his scenes were cut from the finished production.   I hear he egged the sets and flew off in the TARDIS before getting reprimanded. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hammer Features Week: The Curse of the Werewolf

Welcome back everyone to Hammer Features Week and I thought we would stem away from the Dracula saga and hop into the realm of lycanthropy.   Yes I speak of werewolves and not something that requires a medicated shampoo.  Veteran actor Oliver Reed (His and Hers, The Pirates of Blood River, Night Creatures, The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revenge, Ten Little Indians, The Big Sleep and Gladiator) is finally credited as an actor in this very film and well…the performance is sublime but the material is a bit touch and go.   So gather your holly, melt the silver down for weapons and God be with you.  This is The Curse of the Werewolf.

Oh, Dios mío!

On the moors, it is be a spoiler from the devil!!

Directed by Hammer go to man Terence Fisher (The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, The Gorgon and Dracula: Prince of Darkness) and set in 18th century Spain brings a tale of sorrow to haunt more than a generation.  A beggar is imprisoned by the cruel Marques after making comments out of his place at the nobleman’s wedding.   The poor bastard is just left there for over fifteen years and his only human contact was the jailer and his gorgeous mute daughter (Yvonne Romain of Action of the Tiger, Murder Reported, Corridors of Blood, Circus of Horrors and Night Creatures). 

Marque of Da Suede!  ZING!

The young wild eyed girl was tossed in with the beggar after avoiding the decrepit Marques’ advances she is man handled by said beggar.  The next day she was sent up to entertain the Marques but she flees the countryside and is found in the forest by a gentleman scholar name of Don Alfredo Corledo (Clifford Evans of Love on the Dole, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Kiss of the Vampire, The Power Game and One Brief Summer) who nurses her back to health and finds her to be a delight.  She dies giving birth to her child out of wedlock (SCANDALOUS!!) and Don Corledo adopts the boy Leon as his own.  The boy seems different as he wails in the night with an almost murderous rage at the full moon.

Leon grows to a young man to work in a vineyard and his employers take an instant liking to the lad.  All seems well until…the nights of the full moon.  His mood swings being erratic get him dumped in the hoosegow until the vineyard owner’s daughter Cristina (Catherine Feller of The Gypsy and the Gentleman, Blood Wedding, Less Than Kind and Murder in Eden) defends Leon to the hilt and speaks on his behalf.


I have just a few things to interject about the film.    This is the only werewolf film that Hammer Studios ever made.  Five minutes of the original film were censored for the British release and more so out of the American version given the rape content.  Nothing graphic to that end but it is a very tender subject in any media.    The gravel quarry in Buckinghamshire where Spain allegedly is where most of the Tom Baker Doctor Who era was shot.

I went on my papers!!! I is big boy now!

Feel free to leave a comment or a request.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hammer Features Week: Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Hello and welcome back to Hammer Features Week.  Now it is rare I tackle a sequel directly after reviewing its original source but I thought this could be entertaining and therefore how could I refuse?
We hark to the year of our lord 1966 where director Terence Fisher (The Curse of Frankenstein, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy and Horror of Dracula) has procured another helping of horror to the dish of dismay, this dinner of detestation…yeah now I am just flexing my vocabulary.  Dreadfully sorry about that behavior, it won’t happen again for a while.    So hang the garlic cloves around your windows, don your crucifix and prepare for battles with the undead.  This is Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

Dracula's tale told through The Eye of Sauron.

After a reign of hideous terror, spanning more than a century, the King of the Spoiler was finally traced to his lair high in the Carpathian mountains.

It has been ten years, ten quiet years since Doctor Van Helsing had done battle with the lord of the undead Dracula and won. Dracula had faced an adversary armed with the knowledge of dispatching vampirism and the dark lord’s arrogance was his own undoing.   The villagers quietly rejoice but remain vigilant of any strangers, stragglers or persons unknown.  To not allow them to disturb the town of Karlsbad in the remote region of the castle of Dracula the peasants remain cordial but wary.  Four young travelers from England are visiting the countryside to broaden their horizons.   They have chosen to dine and relax in the local tavern with a large well armed priest wanders from off the road in need of libation and a warm meal.

  Father Sandor (Andrew Keir of Sword of Freedom, Ivanhoe, The Four Just Men, Cleopatra, Macbeth and Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.) greets the Kent family four but urges them to avoid Karlsbad.  Our young travelers are baffled at the mention of this castle because the maps show nothing in that area but the good father assures them the castle is there and they should not go.   Naturally the good father’s warnings are chocked up to being poppycock and tom foolery.  The Kent family travels until almost evening when the coach driver pulls over, demands they vacate the carriage and even threatens them at dagger point for them to leave.  

Now dear what could possibly go wrong?

Confused for a place to stay for the night is a shabby cabin to lodge in or they can walk the two kilometers (1.24 miles for the Americans.  Stupid metric system.) into Karlsbad.    As luck would have it, quite possibly a writing device, a driverless coach appears with two black stallions.  Our party cannot believe their good fortune and head off…with the ominous omens and portents here!

And now I have just a few tidbits and bonmots about the film.   
Once again I am always floored by the costuming and sets Hammer brought to life.    The haunting chords of composer James Bernard sets the scene well and keeps the mood throughout the film.

Now be honest, am I getting long in the tooth?

Christopher Lee (Horror of Dracula, The Three Musketeers, The Man with the Golden Gun, Dracula and Son and Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones) is completely without dialogue the whole film.  The rumormill churned out such fabrications to Lee was being a diva and insisted Dracula would never say such things.  Another story is the screenwriter felt vampires had no need for idle chat or tete-a-tete  so that being said Lee was to have no lines at all.  

Take your pick on which you choose to believe.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hammer Features Week: Horror of Dracula

Okay you horror nuts have a decent one for you all.  Harkin back to 1958 when Dracula was tall, majestic and all the while vicious and one would dare say brutal.  So grab your crucifix, holy water and a few stakes.   This is the Horror of Dracula.

There's a trusting face.

Shh there be spoilers on the moors.

Veteran Hammer Film Director Terrence Fisher (The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Man Could Cheat Death) brings in my humble opinion a timeless tale of the misdeeds of the Lord of the Vampires.  We open with our movie on Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen of Chance Meeting, Four Sided Triangle and Quartermass 2) a mind mannered librarian arriving in Transylvania to catalog Count Dracula’s extensive library but in fact is to investigate Count Dracula (Christopher Lee of Horror of Dracula, The Three Musketeers, The Man with the Golden Gun, Dracula and Son and Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones) and the possible link he has with a cult of vampirism.  Soon after encountering one of Dracula’s brides, Harker is determined to rid the world of this undead monster, manages to stake the girl but is thereby angered Dracula and is slain by him.

Mmm, just my type. A negative.

 Doctor Van Helsing (Peter Cushing of The Curse of Frankenstein, The Abominable Snowman, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Brides of Dracula, Dr. Who and the Daleks, Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope and Shock Waves) arrives in Transylvania in search of the whereabouts of his associate; only to find Harker had been made a vampire and he slew his former colleague.  He finds a few detailed clues that Dracula has vacated the country in search for Harker’s fiancée, Lucy.  Desperate to catch the fiend before he has the girl under his spell, Helsing rushes back to London in the hopes that he can end Dracula’s tyranny of terror. 

What can I say about this movie?    Well it is one of the Technicolor greats.  Filmed in standard 35mm stock and has two very distinguished British actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  The film has a good pace and does not leave much time to moll over scene to scene.  The wide angle shots of the castle’s interior will astound you.   The musical score in junction with the exterior castle shots and even those of the graveyard just sends mild chills down the spine. The fog on the graveyard followed by the orchestration just sets the tone of this movie.  Lee’s portrayal of Dracula is one of elegance and object cruelty.  Cushing is steadfast as a hero and you get the feeling would sacrifice his own life to end Dracula. 

I say old sport, you're crinkling my cravat.

Sorry gore fans this is not that messy for you but I think the plot and performances should make up for that.  As for the rest of you that may have grown up on these films as well as your children did.  Pop it in your DVD player and give it the love it deserves.

Hammer Features Week

Hello all and welcome to the event of the week.  I thought from all those heroes of yesteryear we could use some villainous behavior now.  Some wonderful orchestral music, amazing sets and wonderful costuming.  A little bit of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee roaming across the screen.  Yes ladies and gents I thought this week will be a collection of Hammer Films.


Fear that which is about to come. From vampires and werewolves to the Frankenstein's monster this should make for interesting reading or at least I hope so.   Please again feel free to leave a comment on this blog or Facebook.

Ta ta!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Superhero Film Week: Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan

Well kiddies it is that time again when the week is up, the curtain runs down and the show is over. As we already had a pulp fiction hero prior it is only fair that we get one of Gold Key Comics a shot at the title as well.  Originated from the mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs I speak of his most famous of characters; The Lord of the Apes, Tarzan.   So grab your machete, tip your native guide well and do not start nothing with a silverback.  This is Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan.

But bananas are currency for all!

Sixth Earl of Greystoke: If he’s a Greystoke, I’ll know him at a spoiler!

A ship is thrashed about in the high seas leaving a nobleman and his wife stranded in the wilds of Africa.  Our nobleman is not a fop or does nothing as he builds his lady a home up in the far trees where she gives birth to their son.   But a handful of days later a family of apes encounter the couple and panic ensues on both sides and the young boy has become an orphan.  A large silverback gorilla takes the boy as a surrogate son to replace her own lost infant.

Dammit dad I said it was a black tie event!

Twenty years later, a Frenchman Capitaine Phillippe D’Arnot (Ian Holm of The Man in the Iron Mask, Alien, Time Bandits, Brazil, Fifth Element and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) leads a band of English sportsmen and is deeply disgusted at their wanton need of blood sports as they shot Tarzan’s adopted mother.  Tarzan (Christopher Lambert of Highlander, Knight Movies, Fortress, The Hunted, Mortal Kombat and Mean Guns) stalks and kills them all but D’Arnot who was injured in a fall during this gun battle.  Tarzan takes D’Arnot to the tree house and nurses him back to health.  After examining documents and pictures D’Arnot realizes the young ape man is actually of royal birth and heir to the Earl of Greystoke.  The young man adapts quite quickly and even understands English in a few short months.  Will a man of nature be able to flourish in the land of civility, clothes and proper manners or will he long for the hills of Africa once more and renounce his title?

I had but a few comments to be made on this film.  This is Andie MacDowell’s first feature film and she was redubbed by Glenn Close because they felt her Southern accent was a bit much for the English teacher her character is.  I have heard countless ridicule aimed at the puppeteers of the Apes and that there was not enough real ape footage to balance the two. This was deeming FX prosthetics and animatronics guru Daniel Parker (Lifeforce, Little Shop of Horrors, Empire of the Sun and Hamlet) and EFX artist Rick Baker (The Howling, American Werewolf in London, Starman, Gorillas in the Mist,  Wolf and Escape from L.A.) some unjust comments.

THERE CAN BE ONLY...oh wait, wrong role. Sorry.

 What really dumbfounds me is how little people see of Christopher Lambert’s performance as the proclaimed lord of the apes.   His eyes and body language speaks volumes of a man taken from his normal element no matter how dangerous it may be and left to these strangers with their culture and mannerisms that are not his to speak of.   This man who spent almost his entire life learning of the ways of the jungle must now comport himself as a proper gentleman and be mindful of not only his surroundings but how others will view and judge him.   To me this is one of the better portrayals of Tarzan as well as one of the best interpretations of the written works.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Superhero Film Week: Swamp Thing

Welcome back boys and girls to another helping of Superhero Film Week.  I thought I would point out the differences to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) ratings from the early 80’s to current.  The Christian Morality campaign was in high swing and felt films needed to be rated by the government to cut down on violence and nudity since Hollywood wasn’t doing their jobs according to these yahoos.   With stricter clauses inserted the ratings for the next film I am reviewing would be rated R rather than the PG rating it was given in the day.  Why would that be on a comic book film you ask?  Well DC Comics had more mature collections as well including this very character I am going to babble on and on about.   So grab those hip waders, watch for alligators and do not bring your evil here.   This is Swamp Thing.

No hitchhikers!!!

Dr. Anton Arcane: A man who loves gives hostages to spoiler.

Based on the DC Comics horror series, House of Secrets; a tragic tale of a scientist striving only to better the world and humanity was met with a near fatal end.  A new metamorphosis on life if you will and this translated to a later series known as Swamp Thing.  Director Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Night Visions and Scream) embraced the terror and conflict side of this comic book and brought it to life.

Must not stare at cleavage...maybe a glance.

Government agent Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau of Escape from New York, The Fog, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, Batman the Animated Series, The Drew Carey Show and God of War III) has been assigned to protect a pair of scientists Dr Alec Holland (Ray Wise of Robocop, Knots Landing, Twin Peaks, The Chase, Ressurection Blvd., and Reaper) and Linda Holland (Nannette Brown of Swamp Thing and My Boyfriend’s Back) because of the practicalities and applications of Holland’s formula.  A formula that allows both plant and animal to survive and adapt even thrive in the harshest of conditions.  

Scalp massage?

Of course with every good intention something wicked lurks behind it as a rival scientist Anton Arcane (Louis Jordan of Letter from an Unknown Woman, Gigi, Made in Paris, To Commit a Murder and Year of the Comet) and his army of mercenaries, shoot just about everyone involved, torch the place like a Vietnamese village and make off with Holland’s notebooks.  Alec falls into the swamps coated in his formula and on fire.  
Cable escapes and invades the mercs while trying to call for help and she sees a 6 foot 5 plant creature emerge from the swamps and swat Arcane’s bully boys around like they were house flies.  As she heads for cover the creature acknowledges her name and makes known that he is Holland. This now towering plant humanoid seeks revenge on Arcane.

Now I have just a few comments about the movie.  It does have the 1950’s atomic mutation feel of a monster film yes but the source material gave that option.  The classic struggle of good vs. evil and for all its flaws Louis Jordan was an exquisite villain and his right hand man Ferret (David Hess of The Last House on the Left, Hitch Hike, House on the Edge of the Park, Nutcracker, Zombie Nation and Cabin Fever) is the personification of scumbag.  He just comes off as this leering rapist/murderer that probably savaged many a village during that lovely war. 

Made ya a convertible there, chief!

Poor Swamp Thing (Dick Durock of Coast to Coast, Braker, Silverado and Swamp Thing the TV Series) had to be melting in his mostly thick rubber suit trudging through the swamps and not falling on his face was a real compliment to his balance.  And no we shant speak of the unfortunate sequel by Jim Wynorski.  One last tidbit is Friday the 13th famed composer Harry Manfredini did the composure for this film as he was a regular working with Wes Craven projects.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Superhero Film Week: Doc Savage The Man of Bronze

Comin’ back atcha kiddies with another helping of Superhero Film Week and I found something a little campy, dated and still an impressive feat for its time. As I mentioned earlier, that I would be including Pulp Fiction heroes in this week and I gots us a doozy here.   So without blowing yer skirts up too much and diving in the Way Back machine, I present to you Doc Savage Man of Bronze.

Strange growth under my groin. Oh wait that is the title card.

Monk: Have no fear! Doc Spoiler is here!

With his brilliant father Clark Savage ever pushing young Clark Savage Jr., our young lad was trained both mind and body by a team of scientists to create a nearly superhuman man since his birth.  Doc Savage (Ron Ely of South Pacific, The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker, The Aquanauts, The Night of the Grizzly, Fantasy Island and Sheena) is a jack of all trades being a scientist, surgeon, physician, adventurer, inventor, explorer, researcher and musician.  The Nietzschean package of brain and brawn has amazing strength, agility and endurance, a photographic memory, a master of at least 12 martial arts, and a limitless knowledge of the sciences.  Heck the man is also a master of disguise and voice mimicry. 

Chief Wild Eagle finally snaps!

After World War I, Doc found camaraderie with five men who become adventurers with Doc and each from a different walk of life.  Monk (Michael Miller of Rockys Messer, Coming Attractions, Saturday the 14th and Space Raiders) the industrial chemist, electrical engineer Long Tom (Paul Gleason of All My Children, The Breakfast Club, Die Hard, Social Misfits and The Passing) attorney and adapted swords master Ham (Darrell Zwerling of Chinatown, Grease, Joe versus the Volcano and Wild at Heart), archaeologist/geologist and living lexicon Johnny (Eldon Quick of In the Heat of the Night, How Come Nobody’s on Our Side? And The Big Bet) and of course constructional engineer and bare knuckle boxer Renny (William Lucking of Force Five, Danger in Paradise, Coast to Coast, Erin Brockovich, Red Dragon and Sons of Anarchy) and became his Fabulous Five. 

The boys gather up and bang their heads together on how to break this horrible news to the Doc as they wait in his swanky, plush penthouse in the Empire State Building.  Returning from his Arctic hideaway the fellas have to bare the news of Doc’s father dying under mysterious circumstances while exploring Central America.   No sooner has Doc gone through his father’s safe to examine his papers he too is being targeted by an assassin.  Savage chases down would be killer only to cause him to fall to his death. 

 After a detailed examination and more political and social reach than a giraffe running for mayor, Savage examines his assailant and explains in Holmes’ like detail where he hails from, what tribe he belongs to and how he came to be here.   Yeah he will continue to blow your mind like that but you don’t sweat him because he is a good egg, see?

Pin yer ears back I gots more yacking.  Director Michael Anderson (The Dam Busters, 1984, Around the World in 80 Days, Logan’s Run and Orca) was up to bat as this was his biggest invested film since Around the World in 80 Days and producer George Pal’s (tom thumb, The Time Machine, Atlantis, The Lost Continent and The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm) last film he ever produced giving it his all to get this to a screen debut.  Due to poor box office the sequel never came but every 10 years or so some ninny hammer has to bring it up as a reboot or brilliant sequel idea.   Given the time period this character hails from that writer better do his or her homework.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Superhero Film Week: Batman

Howdy howdy boys and girls of all age and welcome back to Day 2 of Superhero Film Week.  We usher through the corridors of time to provide you with yet another film of my childhood. In the far far away time of 1989 I was given the option of watching two blockbuster hits and fortunately I chose the one I did first.  With action, explosions, hits, jabs, japes and a decent soundtrack by Prince and Danny Elfman.  So strap on your utility belt, toss the bat shark repellent and fire your atomic batteries.   This is Batman.

Gotham can be a drag at times.

Where does he get those wonderful spoilers?

Based on the written works of Bob Kane (creator of Batman, Courageous Cat and Cool McCool) Director Tim Burton (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Ed Wood, Planet of the Apes and Big Fish) was offered this directorial after his ranging success with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  With former Oingo Boingo lead man turned composer Danny Elfman; this dynamic duo set to make movie history.  

When fighting crime, always make an entrance.

With a town steep in corruption and people turning a blind eye, one man strives to take back the night from the criminals allowing the city to sleep restfully.   With the efforts of District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams of Hit!, The Take, The Empire Strikes Back, Nighthawks and Return of the Jedi) and Police Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle of Hang ‘Em High, Gunsmoke, The Carey Treatment, One Little Indian, Batman Returns and The Quick and the Dead) they build a case against the Capo that holds the town in a strangle hold of fear, Carl Grissom (Jack Palance of Arrowhead, Shane, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Tango &Cash, City Slickers and Treasure Island).  

Grissom feels threatened and sends his number one guy Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson of Five Easy Pieces, Chinatown, The Shining, A Few Good Men, Hoffa, As Good as It Gets and Something’s Gotta Give) and some of his other cronies to raid a front company Axis Chemicals.  Circulating through the underworld and the newspapers is mentioned an urban legend of a human bat roaming the rooftops and streets.  Jack and crooks are rousted by the cops and a shoot out occurs when a Batman (Michael Keaton of Night Shift, Mr. Mom,  Beetlejuice, Speechless, Desperate Measures, and White Noise) appears, thumps the villains and lobs Jack into a vat of chemicals by accident.  Days later Jack survives but is disfigured both mind and face.  He calls himself the Joker and proceeds to rain havoc on Gotham.  Can this vigilante be the dark hero; this knight errant that can save Gotham from this raving lunatic?

Yes kiddies, botox has side effects.

Yes I have a few things to interject.  Budgeted at 35 million, this was Warner Brothers (and sister) studios attempt at capturing the same moxy that Superman brought them with the first two films.  After Superman III and Superman IV: Quest for Peace, there was not much hope to breathe life into another comic book movie and this one soared at clearing $251 million at the box office on top of another $150,500,000 in rentals in the states alone.   VHS rentals went through the roof and it is still widely regarded as one of the best interpretations of the Batman saga.