Friday, January 31, 2014

Computer Snafu

Well folks due to an oversight on my part, my computer is down for a spell. Need either an IDE cable adaptor or a SATA hard drive and DVD SATA unit to connect to my comp.  Working on both concepts now.  Sorry for the reading discontinuation. Writing this on my Droid.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PC Games I am Playing Week: Hitman: Blood Money

Welcome back for Day 4 of PC Games I am Playing Week and thought we would go with something a bit darker than we have previously been.  Imagine a world where assassins are created to do the dirty deed with extreme prejudice, a world that molds and sculpts ordinary men and women into effective killing machines that know stealth, hand-to-hand, melee and firearms.   This bizarre FPS/action adventure by  IO Interactive and allows the game to go from first person view and third person, free range with tactics, weapons and funds used to complete a contract.  The man known only as 47 is been used as a fluid assassin through his handler Diana Burnwood but only after he broke out of an asylum.  Comforting he is not but he is your character for destruction.  This is Hitman: Blood Money.

Hmm, I have mixed feelings on the killing of a clown.

Alexander Leland Cayne: The name “Agent 47” is just a whisper on the lips of the dead… because if he comes calling for you…you will never even know…until it’s too late.  Then, like a spoiler, he’ll disappear.  A phantom. A legend. 

Released in November 19, 2000 the Hitman series began with explanation of a secret cloning experiment that created malicious and cold men and women as assassins with almost flawless records.  The project had ended thanks to the man known only as 47.   Today we talk about the fourth of the six part series known as Hitman: Blood Money (2006).

47 is been placed in high demand with his exceptional kill record that the morally corrupt elitists and those born in wealth find him to be a useful tool every time.  Now not unlike its predecessors the obstacles and boundaries of each mission stacks the deck against you and you have to think on your feet, pre-plan your escape routes and weapons needed for the gigs.  Rending non-combatants unconscious must be done from the shadows with all the surveillance cameras in high end areas.  Body disposal decisions must be made on the fly.  Can you drop it down a sewer grate or toss him in a dumpster?  The lower key you are, the greater rewards you get.   Also you will get deductions from the contract if you have made a spectacle of yourself.  Remember this is not Grand Theft Auto 9000 but an elegant and effective killer than does not want to draw attention to himself or his clients. 

Next contract.

Your environment has more improvised weapon availability such as NPC bullet shield.  That’s right you can use a defenseless person to soak up rounds coming out at you.   Kitchen knives were a touch I liked as he could use them as throwing weapons or a simple device to slit a throat.  Nail guns, screwdrivers even a sword cane.  Non-conventional weapons for a change.   My personal favorite was tampering with a cooking grill’s propane line.  Got a great vantage point to view the impending explosion and cackled.  Reintroduction to sedatives to know people out in close combat is difficult but not impossible.  A common claw hammer has two purposes, throwing weapon and melee weapon and the only throwing weapon you can retrieve.

With bribery, cunning on each kill, evading guards, cameras and security systems you cannot help but get a good feel how to handle the contracts that the experience will improve your lateral thinking.  

The violence level is probably not one for the kiddies and plus I do not want to give career options of this magnitude but most kids are starting to think for themselves.  I cannot imagine a video game will corrupt them to the level that most politicians claim but a bit of censorship may not be a bad idea.

Geez, no one has friended me on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

PC Games I am Playing Week: Wolfenstein

Welcome back sports fans to Day 3 of PC Games I am Playing Week.  This next video game has history to it dating as far back as 1981.  Castle Wolfenstein was created by Muse Software for the Apple II then last was developed for MS-DOS, Atari and even the Commodore 64.  Starting the trend of side scrolling shooter games and paved the way for a sequel Beyond Castle Wolfenstein you were required to use stealth and think about your objectives.  Moving   in 1992 Wolfenstein 3D, the FPS was truly given life as you play a WW2 Allied spy attempting a jail break from the Nazi prison under Castle Wolfenstein.  After 10 levels of so so graphics we could even through down with a Nazi power armored Hitler.  Of course he has about 4 chain guns strapped to the armor.  Wolfenstein 3D easily dominates the scene causing a stir in even consoles games of Super NES, 3DO and Atari Jaguar.  Now as exciting as that all sounds I was actually enjoying the 2009 version where our hero, William “B.J.” Blazkowicz is back, kicking Ratzi butt and obverting yet another plot by the Reich to take over zee world.   This is Wolfenstein.

Ho boy did I get on the wrong boat.

Blazkowicz: OSA Headquarters.  This is Agent B.J. Blazkowicz.  Wake up the spoiler. Tell him we have to meet as soon as I land.

In this incarnation we see a battleship getting ready to deploy missiles to hit London and BJ is right in the middle of fleeing when a medallion he lifted starts glowing, the goosesteppers open up on him when the medallion projects a shield blocking the gunfire then channels this incalculable power that vaporizes the gunmen.   Snazzy accessory for any globe hopping hero, I wonder if Dr. Jones would have used that one.   Stealing a Mezzerschmitt and high flying away before the ship explodes Blazkowicz is left to ponder what origins this miraculous medallion came from.   Investigations conclude that the SS is busy researching the people of Thule where the first civilization to contact another dimension known as the Black Sun.  Blazkowicz’s mission is to prevent the Nazis of crossing over to this dimension to build a super weapon that would ensure their victory in the war.

Handy freedom fighter this fellow.

Now we can discuss the game play itself.  The game play is pretty straight forward standard WASD as movement controls, R getting the reload program and I personally liked G for grenade rather than a cycle through search like Jedi Knight II.  The mouse sensitivity needs to be calibrated by you in order to do a bit better with long range sniping, the typical FPS POV is standard but with some impressive graphics thanks to an upgraded version of Tech 4 game engine.  with depth in shadow, post-processed effects offering a unique look at the physics of the supernatural realm called the Veil, you can stop time, move around objects in the real world or defeat enemies that had an almost impervious shield.

With the classification of science fiction-horror FPS this version was co-developed by Raven Software, id Software, Pi Studios and Endrant Studios.   Lot of cooks in the kitchen didn’t spoil the soup this time around.  This single-player game is also fitted to be a Multiplayer option for those interested but there were more than a few patches needed to get it on track.  Methinks a few folks got sacked because of it.  With its bloody gore, violence levels and a bit of harsh language it is really the parents’ call on whether little Johnny or Suzie can play it.  My nephew has a blast with it and he is all of 12.   Think on that. 

Oh great, Hydra joined as well.

Monday, January 27, 2014

PC Games I am Playing Week: Fallout: New Vegas

Howdy pardners and welcome back to Day 2 of PC Games I am Playing Week.  Today I speak of a game that is *gasp!* four whole years of age.  Yes this antique is the continuation of the Fallout series originally crafted in 1995 by Interplay Entertainment and has swapped hands to Black Ilse Studios only to have Black Isle file Chapter 13, return, lose rights to Fallout thus did not release Fallout 3: Capital Wasteland by Bethesda Softworks and then work injunction with Bethesda Softworks under Black Isle’s new company name Obsidian Entertainment.   Confused?  Well you should be.   So strap on your six guns, gather up some companions and watch out for strangers.  This is Fallout: New Vegas.

Sheesh, Hoss is packing some iron.

Spoiler…  Spoiler never changes.

The game I am referring to moves us back to the Mohave Desert, to an area more or less untouched by the war so its 1950’s influence, clothes, lingo and music still grace this giant sandbox but where there were cowboys, beef barons and gamblers with a heart of gold is now under the continuous onslaught of Fiends, slavers, raiders and rampaging super mutants and feral ghouls.  Where landmarks of the old Nevada standing have been made into renewed communities trying to survive this harsh world as two factions battle for the Hoover Dam and all the power it can provide.  The New California Republic, a foundation of former law enforcement and military ideals and Caesar’s Legion, a ruthless reincarnation of the barbarous Roman Emporium duke it out for all the marbles.  
One man keeps them both at bay, Mr. House and his fleet of Securitron robots.  He now owns all of New Vegas and plays to keep things running smoothly and the caps flowing in like so much chilled champagne.

Disagreement with the locals.

Your character is NOT a vault dweller.  SHOCK!!! 
You are a courier hired to carry an unknown package to a specified destination when you get jumped by a fellow in a dapper checkered suit and some Great Khans, shot in the head and left for dead.  That is your beginning intro!  As you come to in the town of Goodsprings you find that life on the Wild Wasteland is full of danger and wonder.  Rarely are the two far apart.  You need to bolster up some skills, arm yourself better and frankly get that package back to your client posthaste.  Perhaps you can indulge in a bit of revenge while you are at it.  

Like Fallout 3; the same game engine for smooth play, graphics and synched dialogue is identical.  You do however have options to newer weapons, modifying them, living off the land, freestyle wandering, side quests and different dialogue skills.   As always with this continued game system an amazing voice cast is essential in the telling of your tale as it unfolds.

 Ron Perlman (Chronos, Blade II, Alien Ressurection, Hellboy and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army) returns as the narrator of this post-apocalyptic land along with familiar voices such as Michael Dorn (CHiPs, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as Marcus the former Super Mutant Sheriff in Fallout 2, Felica Day (The Guild, Eureka and Supernatural) as Veronica, a bright eyed girl from California with stars in her eyes and a pneumatic gauntlet on her right hand and many more.

Hardcore mode was introduced to give more of a real feel to the game such as: dehydration, poisoning, hunger pains, withdrawals from drugs and medicine and finally healing injuries.  With 6 add-on adventures, an ultimate edition and more than its fair share of real life cosplayers; New Vegas has ran with the same steam that Fallout 3 has had and brought a whole new generation of gamers to this universe and then some.

Harland's...a bit blunt and right to the point.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

PC Games I am Playing Week: Shadowrun Returns

Hey there all and welcome to PC Games Week.   As you know I do reference more than a few console based games and that has been fun but at the end of the day I admit I would rather be behind the screen on the keyboard slaughtering villagers, having FPS gunfights and solving a few brain teasers.  Today’s game hails from the realm of table top based role-playing games from as far back as 1989 from FASA Corporation. Bringing technology of cybernetics and virtual reality hackers in mixed with sorcery, dragons and metahuman creatures to the world.  In 1993, Super Nintendo brought us the first story arc based on the cyberpunk fantasy RPG involving character Jake Armitage, a man suffering amnesia, wounded by assassins trying to figure out who wants him dead and completes his overall mission.  

Your swinging bachelor/bachelorette pad...definitely a fire hazard.

1994 Sega Genesis created a third person based game of both combat and exploration with Real Time standings along with the cause and effects of each battle. 
 13 years go by and we had not seen hide or hair of one for the newer consoles or PC until 2007’s abysmal failure that worked solely on Windows Vista which was a glorified verse of Quake.  Heartbroken were so many fans that 6 years later we had heard rumors of a company called Harebrained Schemes were raising money on Kickstarter to finance their own cyberpunk fantasy game under the title Shadowrun Returns.  So grab your trauma patches, call out the doc wagon and lock and load. This is Shadowrun Returns.

That is one seriously bizarre elf.

Spoilers are the Wiz, man.

Following under tactical RPG, this single-player game has all the bells and whistles the chummers have been scanning for. Character generation starts with the five races running the streets: humans, orcs, trolls, elves and dwarves.  Each species has its pros and cons so choose the archetype that works best for what you want to do.  And if that isn’t enough to make you happy how about classes as well?  Ranging from all the greats: Street Samurai (fighter), Mage, Decker (electronic and cyber thief), Shaman (cleric or holy person), Rigger (robot drone master) or Physical Adept (magically strengthened).   Our story opens with your character looking around a slum lord’s wet dream of an apartment.  The rats and cockroaches are fighting over who gets to leave first and your vidphone gives you a call from a fellow Shadowrunner (fellow illegal adventurer or privateer) tells you he has passed away and this payment plan is set up as insurance to find out who killed him and why.  The natural loyalty of the runners is pretty sound and you begin your investigation.  Our hero even runs into Super NES’s hero Jake Armitage as a NPC as you discover a new spin on an old classic Ripper case.  

I have just a few comments at this point to be made.  The combat is turn based; you fan out your fellow runners in any formation you so choose and there is a bit of problem solving to be had.  Best advice, chummer is to diversify your character to decking (computer skills), healing and lots of etiquette (Corporation, Security, Gang and Street speak) The storyline also hails from the same timeline as the Super NES and Sega Genesis games so that includes the lingo, gritty look of the streets and alleys and while it lacks a voice cast it returns us back to traditional RPG turn based formats of the like of: Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, Fallout and Planescape: Torment.   I found it entertaining, warped and everything the game systems have been aspiring to reach and finally made.  Dead Man’s Switch is just the first installment as this is linked to Steam Workshop for newer campaigns.   My only nitpicks is the loading time from mission to mission and we don’t get to play with any vehicles.

Gunfight in the nut house...a tad odd admittedly.

PC Games I am Playing Week!

Hey gang!  So thought I would shy away from movies and TV shows for a change and get back into another aspect of my reviews which is: video games!   Yeah I know I did the 1997 PC games not long ago but at the end the's my friggin' blog so lump it.   That in mind I would also point out what games may have slipped past your notice or just didn't get nearly enough airtime and advertisement.  

Travelin' the wild wasteland!

Christmas and birthday provided me with just a bit of gaming fun to try out so why the heck not give my opinion of its playing style, the graphics, whither or not it had a decent story or voice cast.   Only seems fair to give back some love from a hobby that brought me hours of entertainment.  So these games are not in a chronological order but more of an order of what I found to be fun that particular time.  Keep in mind I am tackling all these games due to their replay ability.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dunaway Week: The Towering Inferno

And a fine hello and how do you do my readers and enjoy this last day of Dunaway Week and I thought we would end this one in a blaze of glory.  A star studded cast of the likes that 20th Century Fox liked cramming together to leave us wondering and guessing, “What the heck was their estimated budget on this flick?”  With enough man’s man actors that happen to be pretty to keep the ladies’ attention coupled with some danger, excitement and really wild things, this movie is guaranteed to pull on the heart strings, make your stomach flip flop and ensure your disdain in most politicians.  This is The Towering Inferno.

Now ladies, the fire is actually upstairs.

James Duncan: Everything under control?
Chief O’ Hallorhan: You’ve gotta move all these people out of here.
James Duncan: Aw, now, just how bad is it?
Chief O’ Hallorhan: It’s a spoiler, mister, all fires are bad.

Architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman of The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting) get back after an lengthy vacation in time to see his creation, a towering skyscraper nearly complete and there is to be a shindig like no other to pat some backs on its completion. The owner James Duncan (William Holden of Sunset Blvd., The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Wild Bunch and Network) is holding court with the Mayor and several up and comers in San Francisco when a small fire breaks out on the 81st floor due to faulty wiring.   Roberts and the engineer Giddings go to the 81st floor and attempt to stop a security guard from getting curious when he opens a door causing a flash fire to break out killing the guard and burning Gidding so badly he could die.  Roberts rushes back to Duncan and tries to get this party evacuated and Duncan dismisses it as not really an issue. 

Ugh, wish that guy would catch on fire.

Typical trusting in sprinklers I guess.  The fire department is alerted and Chief O’ Hallorhan (Steve McQueen of Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Great Escape, Bullit and Junior Bonner) demands evacuation begins now as the building is slowly being engulfed in flames.   At the party, Susan Franklin (Faye Dunaway of Little Big Man, Midnight Crossing, The Gamble and Up to Date) is helping to evacuate the VIPs and herself with an orderly fashion.  Most of the party members have managed to disembark but eventually even the express elevators become too dangerous and there is no easy way out of this now blazing deathtrap in the sky.

I had a few points I wanted to make about this film now.  This hails from the disaster genre producer Irwin Allen whose is known mostly for TV like: Land of the Giants, Swiss Family Robinson, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space.  The common factor in this was people were made almost extraordinary due to insurmountable dangers and how they performed under the pressure.  With his production of The Posiedon Adventure getting less than great input it was a bit of a gamble to put this top notch cast in a film but Allen wanted this to be big.  With amazing scale model work, John Williams’ score to provide scope and no less than 57 separate sets this film is a work up of good story, great cast and some brilliant direction.

Free donuts for firefighters??!!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dunaway Week: The Thomas Crown Affair

Welcome back again fans of the written text to Day 3 of Dunaway Week and I find this particular film to be enjoyable, clever and well-written.  The oddest thing is I actually enjoy the remake of this movie a tad bit more than its original but of course it did lack our leading lady of the week in a more substantial role.  What happens when a billionaire and sportsman gets bored with the daily grind of the 9 to 5?  How about a multi-million dollar heist for the kicks?  If I have tickled your fancy, grab those schematics, keep your safecracker tools at the ready and prep your getaway.  This is The Thomas Crown Affair.

Hey, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...pervs.

Thomas Crown: What a funny, dirty little spoiler!
Vicki Anderson: It’s a funny, dirty little job!  So shoot me in the leg!

Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen of The Great Escape, Bullit, The Getaway, Papllion and The Hunter) is a millionaire businessman, a man’s man and a go getter plotting a heist to having five guys lift 2.6 million from a bank in Boston and hide it in a trash can in a cemetery.  Brilliant hiding spot to be certain, Thomas does not have any interaction during ore before the crime and these men do not even know one another.  Thomas scoops up the money and sends the deposit to a Geneva account.

With the local law enforcement baffled an insurance investigator, Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway of Casanova, Barfly, Midnight Crossing, Burning Secret, Double Edge, Albino Alligator and Last Goodbye) has a contract to look into this heist, receive 10% of the money that was taken if she can managed to recover it.  With a bit of instinct and know how she suspects Crown as the mastermind behind the swindle.

Don't look up her skirt, don't look up her skirt. Crap, I just looked.

She profiles Crown as one of those playboy millionaires that bore easily and sky diving or golf is just not enough to end boredom.  Maybe he should consider martial arts and an elaborate bat costume but not sure if it would help.  The two begin the mating dance i.e. cat and mouse that Anderson will figure out how she will prove Crown the thief.  Shockingly enough Vicki starts to fall for Crown and he as well with her but she aids Detective Eddie Malone (Paul Burke of Naked City, 12 O’Clock High, Valley of the Dolls, Hot Shots and Dynasty) crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s but will she reveal her findings to the cops in spite of her feelings for Crown?

I just had a few minor nitpicks and observations at this time for the movie.  I saw in the robbery scene that the robbers had quite a few revolvers with silencers that somehow snapped on and off easily, I am no expert in this but commonly unless it is a custom job a silencer will not work on a revolver.  From three angles I witnessed the character Carl put his glove ( I think his left one) on three times.  Now this could be a matter of dramatic build up but more likely a continuity error.   Written by the talented Alan Trustman (Bullitt, They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, Lady Ice, Hit! and Crime and Passion) this is a diverting and leisurely film with a good build up of suspense and very character driven with a kicky soundtrack.

Girl on the move, ladies and gents.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dunaway Week: Chinatown

Howdy boys and girls and welcome back to Dunaway Week.  This time around I thought we would go more into a neo film noir if you will.  A story of a private detective that gets in over his head, get muscled by some local talent, falls for the female client and in general get caught in a land grab scheme and did I mention a certain blonde bombshell happens in this film?  So keep a watch handy, know your street contacts and never sleep with the lady client.  This is Chinatown.

I'm here for the Barbershop quartet audition.

Noah Cross: “Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and spoilers all get respectable if they last long enough.

Directed by Roman Polanski (The Fearless Vampire Killers, Rosemary’s Baby, Macbeth, The Tenant, Tess and Pirates) and written by writer Robert Towne (Bonnie and Clyde, The Last Detail, The Yakuza, Orca, Heaven Can Wait and 8 Million Ways to Die) comes a story of private detective J.J. or Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson of Easy Rider, 5 Easy Pieces, The Shining, As Good as It Gets and The Departed) fresh from a cheating wife case and the client while not thrilled settles most of the bill.  Gittes is asked to do a surveillance gig on a potential cheating husband by a woman that identifies herself as Evelyn Mulwray.  Jack follows Mr. Mulwray around a reservoir, a nearby oceanfront and finally back to a ritzy apartment snapping pics of Mulwray and a young blonde girl.  The pictures end up in the newspaper the next day.

Sheesh, more barren than a politician's promise

Back from his shave and haircut he is confronted by a stunning woman who exclaims they have never met and tells Jake she is the actual Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway of The Towering Inferno, Three Days of the Condor, Network, Voyage of the Damned and Mommy Dearest) who then threatens a major lawsuit.  Realizing he has been left holding the bag, Gittes wants to know who wants to get at Mulwray but before he can get with the man he is found drown in a freshwater reservoir.   Jake looks into Mulwray’s death and find thousands of gallons of water are being dumped in the middle of a drought and the head security of Water and Power along with a hobbit with a knife tune Jake up.  
Mrs. Mulwray convinced that Jake will get himself killed wants to simply pay Jake off and call things square but Jake is looking to finding out the bigger picture around her husband’s death, why the water is being wasted and who stands to gain from this.

I had just a few comments about the flick.   The Chinatown screenplay is widely regarded as one of the most perfect write ups and as used as a teaching point in screenwriting seminars and classes all over the states.  Robert Towne wrote this screenplay with Nicholson in mind as the lead.

The movie line” Forget it, Jake it’s Chinatown.” was voted as the #71st of the 100 Greatest Movie Lines by Premiere.   A dark, gritty classic full of murder, romance and everything in between as Ms.Dunaway woos the crowd with her demeanor and attitude.

Sorry doll but I don't look for black birds. Try Spade.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dunaway Week: Bonnie and Clyde

Welcome to Dunaway Week as we look through Faye’s collection of greats and maybe to see her range of emotions as she plays a poor and bored small-town girl that manages to link up with a small-time thief getting up in their necks in trouble.   In the capable hands of director Arthur Penn (The Miracle Worker, The Chase, Flesh and Blood, Little Big Man, Night Moves and Target) a director known to break through the cinema taboos showing sex and violence in an A List film.   So clean up them gats, keep the jalopy fueled and devil may care what the authorities say.  This is Bonnie and Clyde.

Bet this could sell some Coke.

C.W. Moss: I spent a spoiler… I spent *A YEAR* in reformatory!
Bonnie Parker: Whooee! A man with a record!

With what is considered ground breaking film brings us into the middle of the Great Depression, Connie Parker (Faye Dunaway of Hurry Sundown The Happening, The Thomas Crown Affair, Little Big Man and Midnight Crossing) leaving her restaurant bored to tears as a waitress find a young man named Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Lilith, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds and Bugsy) trying to still her mother’s Ford Coupe and rather than ratting him out she joins him in a drive off and presents the idea being Clyde’s stickup partner.  They manage to pull off some holdups but in spite of the efforts brought a thrill but didn’t exactly make the greenbacks.

You eyeballin' me?

As the daring duo crime spree is getting into high gear they join up with a gas pump man C.W. Moss (character actor Michael J Pollard of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Window on Main Street, Summer Magic, Caprice, Roxanne, Scrooged and Tango & Cash) and later attempt to link up with Clyde’s brother Buck (Gene Hackman of Ride with Terror, Lilith, First to Fight, Marooned, The French Connection, The Poseidon Adventure and Superman) and his mousey wife Blanche (Estelle Parsons of Rachel,Rachel, Don’t Drink the Water, Watermelon Man, I Walk the Line and Two People) join the insanity but the duo’s bank robberies get violent and more than a few tellers had been shot creating a level of notoriety, local law enforcement, a Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (Denver Pyle of Gunsmoke, Hog Wild, Welcome to L.A., The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, The Dukes of Hazzard and Maverick) are hot on their trail.

I had just a few goofs on the film itself.   Bonnie’s hairdo was more prevalent to 1960’s rather than the 1930s.  I noticed the mystery of Blanche’s disappearing and reappearing donut between shots but my favorite of continuity issue was CW’s replenishing hamburger.  Now admittedly that is fairly petty observations.  The violence of the movie is worthy of that of the Wild Bunch but the overall tone of the film makes it light and funny with Bonnie’s extensionality poetry and Clyde’s snide ambivalence and almost philosophical standing on life was intriguing.  This film of course broke some serious ground to giving mild sexual content and a fair amount violence and even a level of gore that it did show a newer level of realism to it.

A snake gave me this apple...want some?

Dunaway Week

Howdy readers!  I have recently been through several of my posts and I realized I have not given leading ladies of Hollywood their due and am a bit ashamed on that.  Starting this week I felt I would pay homage to a sultry siren of the silver screen from her resonant voice to the amazing set of eyes she has worked with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen, Robert Redford as well as the likes of Christopher Lee, Michael York, Oliver Reed and Gary Sinse.

Dishy, ain't she?

Her lasting power in the industry she has managed to produce, write and even direct.  Tinseltown can be merciless to starlets but this lady has persevered in a town that had the standing that any woman over 30 has a limited shelf life Faye Dunaway has ranked at #32 in 100 years of Heroes and Villains for Bonnie and Clyde as well as #41 for her portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest.

So pilgrimage with me and see this actress throughout the ages and hopefully you will enjoy.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sci-Fi of 1950's Week: Frankenstein's Daughter

Welcome back for Sci-fi’s Week of the 1950’s and I thought let’s tap into a legacy that is Horror and a name that speaks of evil and twisted.  That would be none other than Frankenstein.   Yes thanks to Hollywood and its need to dragging Mary Shelly’s creation through more than its fair share of B-Movie ancestry these films have been put on the screen with their more than fair share of plot holes.  For example, how could an obsessed man mocking God’s work manage to have time to create offspring with a woman.  Surely the skibbling off in the middle of the night to animate the dead would be a turn off for most women but perhaps I am jumping the gun.  This is Frankenstein’s Daughter.

My God, he is still talking.

Elsu: Your father and grandfather never used a spoiler brain.
Oliver Frank: No. The way the female’s brain is conditioned to a man’s world.  Therefore it takes orders where the other ones didn’t.

Welcome to L.A. in 1958 as our movie begins a bushy eye browed creature with giant bucked teeth roams the streets at night just as Suzie (Sally Todd of The Unearthly, The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent, Dragnet, M Squad and G.I. Blues) returns from her date with boyfriend in tow and she shrills at the mere sight of this girl.  Open credits and cut to the next morning as Suzie’s friend Trudy (Sandra Knight of Thunder Road, Tales of Wells Fargo, Bourbon Street Beat, Tate, Surfside 6 and Tower of London) meet up for tennis of which Suzie gabs almost endlessly about this misshapen girl with her killer unibrow and terrifying teeth.   This tale brings about strange and garbled memories for Trudy as if she may have been this monster Suzie spoke of. 

Should a demented madman offer a lady a Tiparillo?

Enter Professor Morton (Felix Locher of Hell Ship Mutiny, Desert Hell, Thunder in the Sun, The Firebrand and California) who is attempting to devise a fountain of youth serum for men and his assistant Oliver Frank (Donald Murphy of Killer Leopard, Shack Out on 101, Lord Love a Duck and Swamp Girl) has a look of contempt for the elder man that would rival most serial killers.  This Frankenstein is the lowest of the low as he spikes Trudy’s drinks with the professor’s formula causing Trudy to metamorphosis into that Neolithic creature of earlier.  He somewhat convinces Suzie to go out on a date with him, tries a little park and necking of which she stomps out of the car.  Rather than apologizing for mixed signals he gets the idea of dropping into low gear and running her down.  Our suave fellow feels a female monster would be more docile and easier to control.  Clearly he needed to rent a copy of Species to point out how that was a bad concept.

Our Frankenstein is cruel, sexist and quite frankly unworthy of the family title yet gets to carry on as he does.   With cliché dialogue about man playing God, the monsters looking a bit on the gooey side and depictions of teenagers in the fifties this straight to the drive-in film is perfect for a bad movie crowd.  If you were looking for a dramatic and clever standing on this age old tale well keep on looking Jack cause nothing really redeeming here.

Gary Busey after the bike accident.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sci-fi of the 1950's Week: Robot Monster

Hello everyone and yes I know this week has been an odd one but my sinuses are playing merry merry hell with me and it has been a bit difficult to focus.  That in mind I reviewed a brilliant film that captured the mind and soul…two days ago.  This movie however is no cinematic opus but rather it was rated, reviewed and reviled as one of the subject matter for the 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way).  Granted most of their reasons of such were due to poor film quality, lack of restoration, poor audio and well yes it is also a stinkburger.   Those in mind, take on some emergency rations, prep the charcoal filters for the water and don’t pick a fight with a gorilla like being.  This is Robot Monster.

Dear God, I can barely breathe in this helmet!

Great One: Earth Ro-man, you violate the laws of plans.  To think for yourself is to be like the hu-man.
Ro-man: Yes! To be like the spoiler! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in the plan?

Our vivid visual opens with the alien known as Ro-man Extension XJ-2 looking down Bronson Canyon via Griffith Park as he observes he has wiped out all humanity with his Calcinator Death Ray to his Supreme commander known as Great One.  Yeah typical B-movie with no budget response is to give greater description to your nonsensical.   It would appear his calculations were off as 8 humans are alive and well. 
An overtly complicated exposition about developing an immunity to the ray, a scientist, his wife, two daughters, his 8 year old son and 2 pilots are kept safe by this energy curtain developed by  The Professor…I kid you not that is the character’s name in credits but is played by none other than character actor John Mylong (The Devil Pays Off, For Whom the Bell Tolls, His Kind of Woman, Magnificent Obsession and Never Say Goodbye) and this is also Roy (George Nader’s first exposure to film to  later TV and Film gems like: Nowhere to Go, The Man and the Challenge, The Loretta Young Show, Shannon, A Walk by the Sea, The Human Duplicators and Espionage in Lisbon) shows some decent chops versus Ro-Man, slayer of the world.  

Post Apocalyptic Family Robinson.

Okay a quick few comments on this momentous movie.  Once again, projects large and small, Bronson Canyon is made to suffer.  As a spot for caverns and quarries for TV and Film for decades from anything of Bert I. Gordon’s The Magic Sword, Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes and Star Trek episodes to the crazy bunch of the Tremors creators of Stampede Entertainment, this entire movie was filmed in this rather large expanse of geography. 

Now while they were saving money on locations, maybe a continuity director would have been nice.  The wee lad Johnny clearly seen wearing jeans and he enters the cave gets knocked out and over only to awake wearing a pair of shorts.   The Professor is proud to perform a marriage ceremony for Roy and his daughter Alice holding onto a book in his hand one shot and then the next, poof it is gone.

The amusing thing about this terribly done film is that it is beloved by many a bad movie lover and has actually made over a million dollars for the span of its existence.  Given it had only $1000 on the books for production that even a flop can get some love.

Another Craigslist hookup begins with shame.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sci-fi of the 1950's Week: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Howdy all and as promised we begin our late week with a 1951 Sci-fi classic brought to us from the pulp Sci-fi novelist Harry Bates (Farewell to the Master, Space Hawk: The Greatest of Interplanetary Adventurers, Hawk Carse, The Affair of the Brains, The Bluff of the Hawk and The Passing of Ku Sui) this humble black and white mono recorded number about a humanoid visitor from another world bringing with him a large and powerful robot and a message for all mankind.  So prep the Army, check your weapons and vehicles and by all means shoot profusely at the unknown.  This is The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Wow Gort, they drop some clams on this set, huh?

Klaatu: You must go to Spoiler. You must then recite these three words. Klaatu barada nikto.

A flying saucer lazily approaches the Earth and eventually lands in Washington, D.C.  Naturally the US military completely encamp around it awaiting any sign of life and/or trouble.  A hatch and gangplank opens from the ship and a tall humanoid name of Klaatu (Michael Rennie of The Robe, The Third Man, The Lost World, Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel) exits the craft announcing that he comes in peace, but as he just jets down from the gangway he draws a small cylinder from his side which a twitchy soldier mistakes for a weapon and shoots him.  Yeah we are off to a fine start of intergalactic representation.   Without any warning a large robot name of Gort (7’7” Lock Martin of Lost in a Harem, Lady on a Train, Off Limits, Invaders from Mars and The Snow Creature) pops out of the ship and proceeds to disintegrate every weapon around him with a ray of awesome power from his head visor Cyclops style. 


Klaatu gets him to cease the destruction and goes on to explain the device he held would allow the President to see other worlds; a sort of an inter-dimensional View Master full of wibbly wobbly timey-wimey stuff.      
Rushed to the hospital he floors the Army medical by applying some healing salve that heals the wound instantly while the Army attempts to get inside his spaceship to no doubt reverse engineer the thing.  So blasting the guy wasn’t insult enough they now move on to the lesser crime of breaking and entering.   

After escaping military personnel, Klaatu snags a suit and calls himself Mr. Carpenter to better blend in and learn of this primitive backwater world that still think atomic power is a neat idea.  Staying at a boarding house under this alias he befriends the residents and listens with great interest on his fellow boarders’ opinions of why the alien is here on Earth. 

From petty fear to typical kneejerk reactions to the unknown, Klaatu is then attacked by the Army yet again as he flees off world stopping his servitor from killing the lot of them and leaves the assembled scientists with these thoughts how the penchant of humanity’s blood lust, harnessing the power of the atom and the exploration of space that the Earth will be viewed as savages of the cosmos and to tread carefully for it could very well mean the end for the planet.

From the paranoia of the Americans only six years after World War II and the Cold War coming to affect; this really is an excellent example of human behavior large and small.  Showing the military’s standing on zero tolerance to the innocence of a small boy befriending a total stranger, director Ray Wise (The Body Snatcher, Born to Kill, The Haunting, The Andromeda Strain and The Hindenberg) and crew go the message across that the jumping to conclusions without clear thinking or rational behavior could lead to devastating consequences. 

No Helen, Scientology is complete and utter crap. 

1950's Sci-Fi Week!!!

Yes, yes I know I have been AWOL for the last few days.  Sleeping habits are being more horrendous than usual so allow me the opportunity to apologize to my readers up front.  I am sorry, gang.   With that in mind I will be doing a collection of films from the 1950's via Science Fiction. Some good, some bad but all fifties.  Why the fifties?  Well considering this is where Lucas, Carpenter, Speilberg and Cronenberg grew up with and influenced my generation, I feel it only fitting and proper to absorb what wild and bizarre may have touched them.

Earthlings! Prepare to be probed...vigorously.

With this in mind we will be experiencing films of Howard Hawks caliber to things like Robot Monster. It shall as always be a grab bag of cheers and jeers so buckle up kiddies, because this one we may never return from...or you know, we will just learn about some films...kinda like any other time.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bill Murray Week: Scrooged

Howdy kids!  I bet you thought I was off into another dimension again and shirking my blogging review duties!!  WELL YOU WERE WRONG!!!!  That other dimension problem took about 20 minutes real time so I decided we would finish up Bill Murray week with a delightful holiday treat of Christmas. Yes, I am aware that it is January and it is unnecessary to be reminded of such.  With that in mind what could be more traditional Christmas but a bit of Charles Dickens?    And just so we do not lose the crass and cultureless Americans we can always modernize it.  So grab that 18 year old scotch, don’t miss your power lunch and beware of three spirits. This is Scrooged.

Now, don't cry.  You're pretty too.

Frank Cross: No, you are a spoiler brought on by alcohol…Russian vodka poisoned by Chernobyl!

Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a cold, cynical TV programming executive that has found success and wealth in the field but not without the cost of joy and a normal relationship.  Chasing his career to excel makes him lost the one girl that makes it all worth living, Claire (Karen Allen of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Starman, The Basket, Falling Sky and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) he is strained from his brother James (John Murray of Starting Over, Caddyshack, Moving Violations and A Darker Reality) and in general is a miserable bastard to be around.  His overworked personal secretary Grace (Alfre Woodward of St. Elsewhere, Blue Chips, How to Make an American Quilt and Star Trek:Generations) has to break her family plans and force her to neglect her son Calvin who is withdrawn and mute.  His board of executives put together a commercial for a re-telling of Dickens’ Christmas Carol which Frank finds it too fluffy and cheery.  He then presents his cut of the commercial that would have made young mothers freak quicker than Silent Night, Deadly Night promos.  When criticized by his diminutive yes-man Elliot, Frank takes the complaint in and fires the poor guy on Christmas Eve.

What is Marian doing without Indy?

Heading the live broadcast of A Christmas Carol, Frank’s life begins to almost mirror the story as he is visited by his long dead mentor Lew Hayward (John Forsythe of The Trouble with Harry, Kitten With a Whip, Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty) who tells him to make amends for the error of his ways or he is doomed.  He is to expect three ghosts to come a knocking.   Well unlike some Murray characters, this one does not have an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back and must to deal with his boss Preston (Robert Mitchum of Out of the Past, El Dorado, Cape Fear, Night of the Hunter and Jake Spanner, Private Eye) and the expectations of this show. 

I have just a few comments to be made about this film now.   The spirits are to die for…pun intended.  With the makeup and effects you end up enjoying each ghost for their presence and personality.  Carol Kane portrays the Ghost of Christmas Present and is just inherently wrong as this sweet angelic pixie that kicks the crap out of Frank.  For those of us who have seen it, watch again.  For those that have not, give it a shot.

Whaddua mean Ghostbusters II sucked eggs??!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bill Murray Week: Ghostbusters

Welcome back to the double feature day of Bill Murray Week.  As was previously mentioned, this is to make up for yesterday’s lack of movie review.  As this was the sixth film under the wing of director Ivan Reitman (Foxy Lady, Cannibal Girls, Meatballs, Heavy Metal, Legal Eagles, Twins and Kindergarten Cop) Three parapsychology professors Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) and Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) have had their grants pulled, their tenure not renewed and they have been forcefully removed off campus of ESU.  Broke and destitute what will they do?  Go into business for themselves of course.  So grab your proton pack, set your trap and DO NOT shut off the main grid.  This is Ghostbusters.

I like the cut of your gib, sir.

Dr. Ray Stantz: Symmeterical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.
Dr. Peter Venkman: You’re right, no human spoiler would stack books like this.

After being tossed out on their collective ears from Eastern State University, our paranormal professors invest in developing technology that can trap, transport and contain spooks, ghosts and specters for a nominal fee.  After this usual eyeball rolling and skeptical standings their business starts booming and they are the talk of the town and country.  A reluctant client Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver of Alien The Year of Living Dangerously, Aliens, Copycat, Galaxy Quest and Avatar) claims that her apartment is haunted and Venkman is more than willing to check her out in her apartment…I mean head over to her apartment and check things out. 

Nerves of steel our scientists.

Stantz and Spengler start investigating the building itself and notice that its architecture draw ups are focused on natural ley lines that could draw enough psychokinetic energy to open a portal to a different realm of existence.  That alone should cause for worry but the other aspect is they are lacking in manpower to handle the massive load of undead plaguing New York and hire on Winston Zeddmore (Ernie Hudson of Dolemite II: The Human Tornado, Highcliffe Manor, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, The Substitute, The Crow and The Adventures of Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure)   To make matters worse a member of the EPA Walter Peck feels the power grid requirements of the Ghostbusters is a dangerous threat to the city and state.  My theory is he wasn’t hugged enough as a child.  Their power grid is shut off and the containment unit overloads releasing all the nasties they spent months capturing.   They all journey towards Dana’s building converging to bring out an awesome entity the likes humanity had not seen in thousands of years.   With the mayor receiving threats, pleas and demands on what will be done he allows the Ghostbusters a crack at the problem in order to save all of New York.

I had just a few comments and notes to mention about the movie at this time.  Prior to his unfortunate death, John Belushi was slated to play Peter Venkman.  Think on that for a second.   Aykroyd used to joke that “Slimer” was the ghost of John Belushi.  The electric shock treatment in the beginning of the movie was a parody on the 1930’s Rhine Experiments testing subjects for ESP.   To this day, this is one of the most highly quotable movies in existence.  According to the DVD commentary, Ivan Reitman got a call from William Atherton who played Walter Peck that is was such a hated ass they wanted him dead and actually he got in more than a few fist fights in bars over this character and somehow that was all Ivan’s fault.   Hmm, maybe Atherton just plays jerk a little too well.

This...could be a problem.