Monday, June 30, 2014

Wild West TV Week: Wanted: Dead or Alive

Welcome pardners to Day 1 of Wild West TV Week and I hope to have a slew of heroes and desperadoes at the ready for you.  This write-up is about a bounty hunter that with his charm, wit and million dollar smile is to this day one of the most popular actors even after his untimely death.  A man that looks like he could handle himself in a bar fight as easy as picking up a lady.   This is Wanted: Dead or Alive.

Itchy shoulder can set off an itchy trigger, see?

Josh Randal: You want your friend here to keep spoiling, don't step out of line.

Civil War veteran Josh Randall (Steve McQueen of The Blob, The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery, Never So Few, The Great Escape, Nevada Smith, The Thomas Crowne Affair, The Getaway, Papillon, The Towering Inferno and The Hunter) is a bounty hunter by trade and brings the horse thieves and back shooters in dead or alive.  A lone operator in a sea of despicable men he roams the countryside on horseback looking for profitable outlaws.  The pilot episode has him visiting the local US Marshall Jeff Wilcox (John Cliff of Riverboat, Bat Masterson, Oklahoma Territory, Maverick, Perry Mason and That Darn Cat!) looking for one Andy Martin's bounty when he is ambushed but Andy's younger brother who cold cocks him with a pistol and then drills the Marshall.

It's NOT ALRIGHT since I picked that fight!!!

Randall wakes up with a headache and a plethora of accusations and he probably sprung this outlaw and got double-crossed.  Vengeance isn't so much swift in this town but they put an express land in it.  Randall clocks the two loud mouths, rides out of town and goes after the Martin boys to clear his name and avenge his friend Wilcox.  What treachery will be waiting for him along the way?  Will the Martin brothers have a gang to match Randall?  Interesting trivia in this, prior to being Little Joe via Bonanza, Michael Landon is a back shooter in the pilot episode and doesn't look a day over I Was a Teenage Werewolf era.

With influences like John Wayne of the big screen totting a 30.30 carbine rifle with longer barrel, custom action to chamber rounds faster or a maple wood stock to make it lighter.  This show took a different spin on this old thing that has armchair historians crapping themselves in anger.  It's just poor research, people.  Randall's Mare is a sawed off 1892 Winchester 94 which is his primary firearm giving him more rounds in a gun fight.   Now the Weekend Gunslingers got their spurs in a knot about the show being set in 1870's and therefore Randall's weapon does not exist yet and then they go on endlessly about the practicality of that chopped down rifle used like a club and blah blah blah.  Sorry McQueen is prettier than you, fellas but you really need a hobby.

The theme of the anti-hero was not uncommon for the latter 50's and early 60's with TV and Movies but this is possibly the first truly likable anti-hero.  Josh has been pinned down in some box canyon giving away the better chunk of his earned money to the families of the victims or just to see the victim gets a proper burial.  Helping folks under siege from an Indian attack (I will be hard pressed to find a true Native American in the lot), bandits holding up banks or even a good old fashion train robbery, Randall has the uncanny ability to be the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Could have something to do with the writing of course.

Take it, Phil. I'm inbred and illiterate, remember?

Wild West TV Week

Hey there! Now before you roll your eyes and groan, "Jake, you have already done a Western TV spot before."  I would point out that the 50's and the 60's produced a slew of Western TV shows and I covered some of the most popular but I did not cover every Western I wanted to.   I also made mention that I would eventually get back to it and give it some life to the readers that are not familiar with these particular shows.

Heeeeeeere's..... Steve McQueen?

The basis of the week is to touch (not bad touch) on a few that were beloved but some barely reside in DVD land and are still relegated to piss poor VHS copies that have had anything from being in the direct sun too long or the VCR chew the tape something fierce and cannot be replaced.  Most of the series I will be reviewing this week can be found on the Encore channel so set the DVR up and record those bad boys.

Chuck Connors for the NRA.

So relax in the easy chair or couch and try to take in some of these classics and don't spoil it by counting how many rounds from each six shooter or rifle have been fired.  Just accept they are on God Mode and they have Infinite ammo.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Video Game Week: Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li

Welcome back video game fans to Day 5 of Video Game Movie Week.  I have been trying to limit the films this week to movies I had not seen, Tomb Raider being the exception.  Today's cinematic wonder hails around a female protagonist of many video games running.  From her cunning, guile, grace and beauty of which can only be rivaled by her speed, stamina and determination.  That being said, I hope and pray this character based movie is not a great big steaming pile of elephant flop.  This is Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li.

I had a growth spurt as a boy, dig?

Bison: The Spring Beauty makes her way to the nest of spoilers.

This movie is solely focused around the life of Chun-Li, from the happy days of learning concert piano and Wu Shu with her father Xiang (Edmund Chen of Ghoststories, The Eye, Police & Thief, Sense of Home and Serangoon Road) to the day he was abducted by a unscrupulous businessman Bison (Neal McDonough of Ravenous, Band of Brothers, Timeline, Walking Tall and Justified) with the assistance of his hulking and bruising bestial of a man Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan of Armageddon, The Green Mile, The Whole Nine Yards, Planet of the Apes, The Scorpion King, Daredevil, Sin City and Kung Fu Panda) around the age of 12 she has bared this sadness but continued on her studies of Wu Shu and piano as a young woman.  Chun Li (Kristin Kreuk of Smallville, Eurotrip, Earthsea and Beauty and the Beast) a headstrong and good hearten 21st Century girl receives an scroll written in the ancient dynasty text that she cannot read, she hurries home to see her mother who is dying of cancer.

Whose scruffy lookin'?

Meanwhile Bison is consolidating his assets to Bangkok and his corporation Shadaloo is built on syndicate money, informs the heads of these families that their participation in future endeavors is at an end.  Rather than jumping the man at dinner, they leave grumbling and are dispatched to Hell by Bison's associate Vega (Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas).   After her mother passes away, Chun Li takes the scroll to Hong Kong's shopping district and of course a wise elder will send her on the path that is before her, telling her of a mentor just so suited for her training and blah blah blah.

Plot development 3 offers the Bangkok Gangland Homicide department detective Maya Sunee (Moon Bloodgood of Eight Below, Pathfinder, Day Break and Terminator Salvation) a hard nosed female cop that had to work her way to her badge and you know this reteric.  With a forced partnership of Interpol agent Charlie Nash (Chris Klein of Election, American Pie, Rollerball, Caught in the Crossfire and Wilfred) a stereotypical portrayal of a decadent American hard ass with a heart of gold.  When these two are clumsily flirting to a point it is painfully obvious there is no chemistry, they are hot on the trail of Bison.   Will Chun Li join forces with the cops or will she strike out on her own?  Is she there for justice or merely to wipe that smug look off of Bison's face?

Okay, got a few pet peeves here but I will do my best to reign them in.  One, Charlie Nash was in Guile's Special Forces Air Force and not some smarmy jackass in Don Johnson's hand me downs. Two, while the late Raul Julia was decked out as Bison in the unfortunate 1994 Street Fighter character jumble, I have to say Neal McDonough brings a morbid and dark villain to the table.  I was pleasantly surprised with his representation.  Three, the bloody narration throughout this movie felt like a voyage of discovery in the sense of a lost girl growing up and yeah she is a concert pianist and privileged child now turned warrior which is a huge separation from the Interpol tough as nails cop of the games.  Honestly if you remove the Street Fighter elements from this movie, it is actually enjoyable.

Bring it on, Clark Kent!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Video Game Movie Week: Hitman

Day 4 of Video Game Movie Week has arrived and aren't you kiddies excited??!!!   Well...  could you at least pretend to give a crap?   Sheesh, with that notion we will be moving into a villain's role.  Many will call this character an anti-hero, broken man or even the cliche social misfit but at the end of the day he does exactly what he was crafted for.  To assassinate and leave without a trace.  This is Hitman.

I didn't get fresh towels for my room!!!

Agent 47: Nika...
Nika Boronina: Yes?
Agent 47: Stop spoiling or I'll put you back in the trunk.

Now there will be a bit of a harsh vibe coming off of me and for that I can only apologize.  That being said our story opens with an unspecified location near an asylum housing a gathering of young boys with shaved heads, bar codes on the back of said head getting paramilitary training as a team of lab coated scientists and stark dressed military types look on.   With hand-to-hand combat training, firearms, rifles, SMGs, demolitions, garrote, melee combat, knives, creating mickeys or sedatives, staging murders to look like accidental deaths and infiltration tactics these lads grow up to be efficient trained killers.
Cut to scene where Interpol agent Whittier (Dougray Scott of Ever After: A Cinderella Story, Enigma, Mission: Impossible II, Love's Kitchen, Hemlock Grove and Last Passenger) conversing with 47 (Timothy Olyphant of Scream 2, Go, Gone in Sixty Seconds, A Man Apart, Deadwood and Justified) as 47 explains his life and his allegiance to a shadow paramilitary group known only as The Organization.

Love my scotch... scotchy scotchy scotch, down in my belly.

Three months ago 47 completed his mission of a gang leader/ kingpin in Niger.  His handler contacts him about another hit aimed at the Russian President(Ulirich Thomsen of The Celebration, Adam's Apples, The Thing, The Notebook and Banshee) publicly and graphically.  After the deed is done his employers contact him directly claiming a witness spotted him and she has to be taken care of as well.  Drawing one of his Colts (not an AMT 45 Hardballer, he said nitpicking) to gun down this woman, he quickly realizes she has never seen him before and goes to leave as a bullet narrowly misses him.  An assassination attempt on the assassin?

His employers tip of the FSB (The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) to his whereabouts so they can deal with him.  47 acquires a prostitute and the late President Belicoff's mistress Nika (Olga Kurylenko of Secrets, Max Payne, Quantum of Solace, The Assassin Next Door, Tyranny and Oblivion) and proceeds to interrogate the hell out of her until she coughs up that Belicoff had a body double who wanted the seat of power and through 47 he has it but it becomes clear in order for this coup to go smoothly they will be have to be removed from the equation.  Through a hail of bullets, body pummelings and explosions 47 clearly needs some help in return.

Now a few comments to make about the film.  Thanks to the re-tweaking of the writing, they went with a genetically enhanced Dark Angel theme rather than the cloned creations of the game series.   a impromptu sword fight breaks out on a speeding train which while interesting just looks like the producers saying," Hey, we already paid for the actors to learn dis, we're gunna film dis!"    Nika is basically just a knock-off of Mei Ling from the games who 47 saved a couple of times in order to get details on a mission in progress.

Timothy Olyphant to his credit delivers a cold blooded bastard and clearly he got some serious strength training and a martial arts package to say the least but he still looks too nice for the role.  You half expect him to give Nika a supporting hug.   Personally, for physicality, martial arts and a cold stare I would have gave this role to Vin Diesel but that's my take on it.

Not a great film, plot is underdeveloped,  no real character development, no sense of goals and just a little too Michael Bay with the action sequences.  Why some of the story-lines from the existing video game material was not used?  Not a clue.

The local library steps up its enforcement policies.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Video Game Movie Week: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Welcome back gamer geeks and geekettes to Day 3 of Video Game Week.  I decided to cheat and simply dig into the collection of DVDs and find us an overly talked about, much dissected, ridiculed and praised film.  Won't that be just keen?  In truth while this is a beloved icon in the video game community, I felt this film deserves another look and all scoffing aside, let us look into the most adventurous privateer that does her archaeology without the use of a bullwhip and a fedora.  This is Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Back off fanboys!!!

Lara Croft: But you might try to spoil me.
Manfred Powell: I'm not going to kill you.
Lara Croft: I said you'd try.

Gracing the screen of 2001 audiences, Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie of Hackers, Foxfire, Gia, The Bone Collector,Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Salt and Maleficent) an English titled lady aristocrat spends most of her days avoiding proper behavior and goes for adventures of forgotten civilizations, treasure and the occasional animated stone golems about.  As she finishes her workout and shower (I can only imagine the 12 to 13 year old boys' eyes rocketing out during the PG-13 shower sequence) she notes the solar system has begun an alignment of all the planets which has not occurred in over a thousand years.

That night as she slept she wakes from a prophetic dream about his long-dead father Richard (Jon Voight of Midnight Cowboy, Catch-22, Deliverance, Runaway Train, Heat, Mission: Impossible, Anaconda and National Treasure) who warns her of an ancient artifact that could be used by unscrupulous people.   There is only some many times I can write the word evil.
With the aid of Hilary (Chris Barrie of The Brittas Empire, Red Dwarf, Get Fit with Brittas, A Prince Among Men, When Evil Calls, Back in Business and The Scum Also Rises), her butler, confidant and all around manservant and Bryce (Noah Taylor of Life in the Fast Lane, Almost Famous, Vanilla Sky, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) her tech guru, they start to peel back the mystery of a brilliantly crafted clock for this very alignment that unlocks a treasure known only as the Triangle of Life.

Ladies and gentlemen, Stone Temple Peons!!!

A enigmatic organization seems to want the triangle for their own end and will stop at nothing to get it.  One such in their employ, Manfred Powell (Iain Glen of Beautiful Creatures, Glasgow Kiss, The Soul Keeper, Darkness and MI-5) a lawyer of antiquities offers to assist Lady Croft in deciphering the riddle of the clock and locating the triangle.  She refuses to ally herself with this morally corrupt man and Powell is forced to find another tomb raider, a competitor of Lara's Alex West (Daniel Craig of I Dreamed of Africa, Road to Perdition, The Mother, Casino Royale,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Skyfall) a man of many talents as the shower scene seemed to indicate from Lara.    It is a race to the finish for the treasure and quite possibly to save the world from an eternity of darkness.

Quick few comments to make on the film at this time.
This was one of the highest grossing action films with a female lead role that actually surpassed Cameron's Aliens.  In spite of the constant fight sequences, the astounding wire work with the bungee cord gun battles I didn't see Lara out and out kill anyone with a firearm the whole flick.  Animated golems doesn't make the list, they cannot scream in agony.  

Angelina Jolie had to undergo Yoga strength training, kickboxing classes and lastly SAS weapons training for her sidearm, SMGs and Assault Rifle gun battles.   I think the padded bra must have hurt just a bit though.  Having no breasts of my own I must continue to speculate these matters from afar.

We got you now, Sam Fisher and...  guys, I think we got the wrong address... again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Video Game Movie Week: Silent Hill

Welcome back you console paddle nerdlings for Day 2 of Video Game Movie Week and yeah this film was a bit out there from 2006 and I simply avoided it due to the love of the game.    Yes our next film adapts itself from a rather disturbingly brilliant horror game franchise where strange happenings occur, life and death can be one and the same and vengeance is swift and merciless. For what appears to be deserted is actually damned and ruined to the end of days.  No I am not talking about Villisca Iowa.  This is Silent Hill.

Stripper-grams are so detailed anymore.
Rose: What do you want?
Dark Alessa: All we ask for is spoiler.
Rose: Satisfaction?
Dark Alessa: Revenge.

With their child Sharon (Jodelle Ferland of Kingdom Hospital, Stargate SG-1, BloodRayne: Deliverance, Stargate: Atlantis and The Cabin in the Woods) sleepwalking and attempting to hurl herself over cliffs and to the jagged rocks below. Her mother Rose (Radha Mitchell of Neighbours, High Art, Pitch Black, Cowboys and Angels,  Dead Heat, Phone Booth and Man on Fire) narrowly catching her before her child plummeted to the depths keeps muttering Silent Hill over and over in her unconscious state.    She decides against her husband's wishes she will take young Sharon to this Silent Hill town in order to purge or improve the child's mind.  Yeah and later you can let her juggle throwing knives that are acid edged.   Her husband Christopher (Sean Bean of Patriot Games, GoldenEye, Airborne, Ronin, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Troy and Game of Thrones) frantically calling and attempt to locate them both violates the sacred couples computer rules...  as she left it on power save and all the information of this Silent Hill in West Virginia is at his fingertips and he immediately lets out a breath and we cut to the open road.

The darker side of the Land of Oz.

Filling up for gas Rose notices the pleasant collection of colored pencil works his daughter has done and what she has been drawing on the road is full of pain,  twisted people and some guy with a pyramid for a head.  Sharon doesn't remember doing that at all in the car ride. Kooky?  Well yes it is but one would think to see about a child psychologist rather than an abandoned ghost town filled with more than a few freak accidents and fires but hey I am not a parent.  With the typical Camp Blood routine Rose is getting the feeling that the town might be a bit odd there.

Having an accidental car crash due to a run-in with a police cyclist Cybil (Laurie Holden of TekWar: TekLab, The Magnificent Seven, The X-Files, Fantastic Four and The Walking Dead) the two get jumped by some strange humanoid creature as Cybil arrests Rose and Cybil ventilates the creature.  The town seems to be covered in soot and ash as if after a fire, Cybil and Rose try to find any other residents or help to find Sharon and get out of town.

A few comments to make at this time.  Writer Roger Avary (True Romance, Killing Zoe, Pulp Fiction, RPM, The Rules of Attraction and Beowulf) adapted the overall theme of the game rather than just lift the storyline from the 1999 original video game by reading about a real-life town in Pennsylvania being completely deserted due to a mine fire burning the mines directly under the town for 40 years and that was the basis of his Silent Hill.

Director Christopher Gans (Silver Slime, Necronomicon: Book of Dead, Crying Freeman, Brotherhood of the Wolf and Beauty and the Beast) spent fiver years trying to obtain the rights to make the film.  He even cut a short film on his own money and overlayed it with music from the games.   Dance choreographer and actor Roberto Campanella (Year of the Lion, From Time to Time, Shadow Pleasures, Roxana, Silent Hill and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D), the dark nurses and roaming undead are all dancers needed to be able to be flexible enough for the erratic movements of the creatures.  Aside from "Ring of Fire" coined by Johnny Cash every piece of music is directly from the game series.   With a bit of reverse videography the creepy motions of the Dark Nurses was just the actors walking backwards.  

There are little hints and homage to the film as you could see the director really wanted to do this movie.  An extreme close-up on metal pipes as that was the first weapon you get in the game, Rose finding Alessa scribbling insanely on a desk the cult symbol from the games is on the wall behind her, Sharon's pictures a left as a clue of what direction she went and my personal favorite, the theme song from Silent Hill 3 is played on the car radio exactly as it did in a cut-scene for Silent Hill 3
Okay game boys and girls, the bottom line is while this is not a shot for shot replication of the original point and click, puzzle solving, first person shooter horror game, be grateful.  Think how rushed that whole game felt like and imagine trying to put that on the big screen without people just laughing at it or being so bizarre it is on the video nasty list.  With expansive crane shots, hand held work, tight zooms and a pretty damn fine editor this film was creepy, gory and a terrifying ride.

This county is hell on the jaywalkers!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Video Game Movies Week: Far Cry

Hello and welcome to Day 1 of Video Game Movies Week and yes I know this is a risky notion given how many of these films have let us down in the past but what the heck, I might not have to seen limbs fly apart and blood caking the walls.  Because I already saw BloodRayne, punks.   Seriously though, that film was lacking any character or plot development and had a significant amount of nudity for no reason at all.  

Today I thought I would take a look into a Uwe Boll film and yes I know I have said countless times avoid these movies like the plague due to its inane need for voice over narrative, real motion camera work and more tricky zooms to see how long it is before the audience projectile vomits but I am a glutton for punishment.  Who knows, maybe it will be closer to the source material than most films.   This is Far Cry.

Either these tourists go or I do.

Dr. Krieger: You're just a spoiler boat man.
Jack Carver: I didn't say anything about being simple.

The story is centered around Jack Carver (Til Schweiger of Intimate Affairs, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Phantom Pain, Inglourious Basterds, New Year's Eve and This Means War) a former US Army Special Forces veteran who has had a belly full of killing and simply wants to run his charter boat service as his fare Valerie Cardinal (Emmanuelle Vaugier of Smallville, House of the Dead 2, Painkiller Jane, Supernatural, Saw II, Unearthed, CSI: NY, Covert Affairs and Lost Girl) a young journalist who is wishes to visit her uncle Max (Ralf Moeller of Universal Soldier, Conan, Gladiator, Andromeda, The Scorpion King, Crazy for Love, Postal and Alone in the Dark II) whose research is on an isolated island under government management.

I present to you: Edgar Winter on steroids!

No sooner has Valerie gotten on the island she gets kidnapped by lackeys of Doctor Krieger (Udo Kier of Johnny Mnemonic, Barb Wire, Blade, Stingers, End of Days, Feardotcom and Dracula 3000) a brilliant but warped scientist who is hell bent on creating the ultimate super soldier but thankfully he is not a Nazi nor son of a Nazi war criminal and in fact, being German has no barring on the performance or project.   Jack's boat gets blown up with the nitwit toadies thinking he had seen too much of the island but unbeknownst to our underlings they failed in dispatching a man they could have just easily paid off to look the other way.  Now Jack is working his way around the island, dispatching bad guys like a Stallone or Schwarzenegger film, attempting to rescue the girl and stop these mad experiments.   Will Jack triumph or will the villain finally win the day?

Okay I have a few comments to make about the film now.  The action base of the flick feels like a 1980's film in that the action actually kicks ass.  Til Schweiger's take of Carver makes him a fairly likable guy that wants to walk away from being the good guy but in the end submits to his nature and opens keg worth of whoop ass on the villains and gets some decent lines.   Once again Michael Pare (The Philadelphia Experiment, Streets of Fire, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!, Village of the Damned,BloodRayne,  BloodRayne II: Deliverance and Gone) makes his way back with Boll for another straight-to-DVD flick and you know, he seems okay with that.    Oh FYI, the actors with the exception of Scheweiger have no weapons training or discipline.  Jeez Boll, stretch the budget for some SWAT and infantry seminars and demonstrations.

My real only complaint is the cinematographer Mathia Neumann (House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale) is trying to kill off photo-phobics.  That real motion camera feel a.k.a. no bloody stabilizer or gyro mount for the camera makes me want to puke.  the repetitive motion is making the action bounce around and will give migraine sufferers a fricking migraine.  Take that to heart if you consider this film for viewing.  BAD ON THE EYES AND BRAIN.

For you FPS fans, well this is roughly about 50% of what the Far Cry game is and gasp, Carver is not Native American in the movie and yes the super soldiers are not referred as genetically altered beasts called Trigens and look human with contacts and make-up but let's be honest.  The game itself is less than original, over-the-top and frankly a bit ridiculous.  Giving a first person shooter game a plot isn't a bad thing but I always found the game itself to be lacking and waiting more out of it.

Get me off this set!!!

Video Game Movie Week

Hello friendly readers and welcome back to my paltry writing.  This week I am slugging through cinema's live action take on video games. As you know video game films can fall in either direction. Some well done and others are complete agony to watch.  These films fall under many categories such as Action, Sci-fi and Horror so we have some options.

The ultra-violence is well on its way.

Yes there will be the usual collection of gems and turds and only experience will let me know either way so I will have to view it first hand.  I am going to select the first one today but we will see how it goes.  If you have any suggestions for the week, drop me a comment on Facebook or leave a message on the blog.  Hopefully we will have some fun with it.

Party of Five: The Fight Club Years

Friday, June 20, 2014

Red Dwarf Favorites: Quarantine

Howdy smeggers and welcome to Day 5 of Red Dwarf Favorites.  Today we touch base on the first episode I ever saw from Red Dwarf and it was almost an instant like.  Our story begins in Series 5 Episode 4 leads our crew into a salvage mission at an abandoned research center on a ice planet.  The search follows an emergency distress signal leading them to look about the center which leads them to all sorts of danger.  This is Quarantine.

It's only a model.
Rimmer: So let me get this straight. You wanna fly on a magic carpet to see the king of the Spoiler People and plead with for your freedom, and you're telling me you're all completely sane?

As the team took Starbug out for the search and rescue mission Rimmer assumes command...  not that you would know it by the lack of response from Lister and the Cat.  Kryten asked politely for the scouter droid to be launched and the boys jumped right in action.  After a few minutes later the crew informs Rimmer that the research center holds the experiments of Doctor Hildegarde Lanstrom (Maggie Steed of Shine on Harvey Moon, Pie in the Sky, Clatterford, Whites, 32 Brinkburn Street, Stella and Midsomer Murders),  a brillant scientist whose field of studies are positive and negative viruses.  They point out that they need to borrow Rimmer's holo-projector to acquire Lanstrom, who is also a hologram.

She's got Betty Davis Eyes!!!

Rimmer grumbles and points out how Red Dwarf cannot handle more than one hologram at a time.  Lister suggests a time share idea and Rimmer goes through the roof over this.  As Kryten begins to inform Rimmer of Space Corp Directive, Rimmer preps a pod to go back to Red Dwarf claiming that Kryten has made up these rules.  Kryten asks Holly to provide Rimmer with a hologramatic version the Space Corp Directives and Rimmer snarls and capitulates while waiting for the pod to be prepared.

With that out of the way Kryten, Lister and the Cat make their way into the center only to discover the viral projects may be volatile but the scare was unjustified.  Lanstrom was in a stasis pod preserving herself, proceeds to fire beams from her eyes at our boys and they flee.   Kryten deduces that Lanstrom is infected with a holo-virus and she is quite crackers.  Trying to get support from Rimmer via radio, Rimmer behaves smug and petulant as per usual.  Lanstrom speaks to Rimmer and exclaims how quite mad she is.  Rimmer shakes his head and proceeds back to the Dwarf.   Our fellows luck out as the virus burns Lanstrom out and they take her discoveries and research back to the Dwarf.  

Just humor him, fellas.

Finding that Starbug is heading to a different landing bay which is quarantine.  Space Corp Directive 595 (any crew member in direct contact with diseases must enter quarantine for the next three months.)  Leaving the three of them in one bedroom accommodations as per Space Corp Directive 597 (one berth per registered crew member) Lister is the only registered crew member, one room is all they get.  Is the various diseases infected our heroes or is Rimmer being a total git?  Will they be cleared or cash in their chips all together?

Some fun facts about this episode now.  The Mr. Flibble penguin puppet was nothing more than a stand-in prop puppet as the crew was hitting every thrift shop imaginable but could not find anything as comical as the penguin.  In the end, the temporary prop was used for the episode.

It took up to an hour to film a three-minute scene with Cat, Lister and Kryten arguing in the quarantine bay.  The cast kept blowing their lines and cracking up with out and out laughter.  The producers were going out of their minds as they had only booked the studio for two and a half hours overall.

Rimmer out for his constitutional. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Red Dwarf Favorites: Dimension Jump

Welcome back Dwarfers to Day 4 Red Dwarf Favorites and as before I am jumping ahead to now Series 4.  Lister, Rimmer, The Cat and Kryten together with the ship's A.I. are up to no good as per usual.  They find themselves in a bit of a pickle when their transport shuttle Starbug has a collision and drops in an oceanic moon.  With this ragtag of misfits flailing about who can save them from their soon-to-be gruesome fate of drowning and suffocation?  This is Dimension Jump.

Drink it in, ladies.

Mellie: What are you doing lunch time?
Ace Rimmer: Not sure, why?
Mellie: Because if you're interested, I'll be in my quarters, covered in maple syrup.
Ace Rimmer: I'm sorry Mellie, I don't spoil with the staff.
Mellie: I resign.
Ace Rimmer: I'll be there at 1300.

This episode opens with a flashback sequence of young Arnold Rimmer (Simon Gaffney of Red Dwarf) at age seven and how it is very likely he will be held back a year due to poor grades. His mother (Kali Greenwood of It's a Hudd Hudd World and Red Dwarf) informs him this letter she has received may alter the very course of his life and ruin his chances of getting into the Space Corps.

We cut to twenty years later as a sleek space fighter prototype is being tested on its maiden voyage and Commander Arnold "Ace" Rimmer has successfully navigated it back in when a salute from the fellas.  Running into the best engineer in the business David "Spanners" Lister gives him a greeting of return and offers a hug and handshake.  The two are impressed how the lightship handled and feel confident that she is ready for service.  Moseying on his Exo's office, Ace chats up the lovely secretary Mellie and proceeds to see the boss, not before his is offered a tantalizing lunch from Mellie.  A rather provocative lunch.  Bongo, his boss tells Ace of a vehicle that has just been created that can break the dimension barrier but there is no coming back.    Being the bravo fellow he is, Ace preps the craft for jump and heads into the unknown.

Kryten engages "guilt mode".

At that same time in another dimension; Lister, The Cat and Kryten are heading to an oceanic moon for a fishing holiday...  without Rimmer.  Rimmer wakes up and catches them red handed.  With a round of whining and typical sniveling the crew agrees to allow Rimmer to join them on this relaxing endeavor.   Much to their utter disappointment he agrees and readies for a bit of fun.
Kryten at the helm ends up in a collision crash with an unknown object or ship and the Starbug pummels like a stone through a wet paper bag.  With the starboard engine damaged, The Cat's leg broken and Kryten not being waterproof to deal with the weather, the crew looks done for.
Will Ace be able to save the Dwarfers in time or will they succumb to their watery fate?

The idea for this episode came from Chris Barrie asking both creators/writers/producers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor if he could have the chance to play someone heroic.  Barrie had been playing an arrogant git on The Brittas Empire and he said he was suffering from "git overload".    Ace Rimmer's mannerisms, voice and aimable attitude was based on Sean Connery's James Bond.
Dimension Jump is said to be Chris Barrie's favorite episode given the ability to play both Ace and smeghead Rimmer at equally as they are completely separate men, in spite of being the same man.

When Rimmers collide. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Red Dwarf Favorites: Bodyswap

Welcome back sci-fi fans to Day 3 of Red Dwarf Favorites as we jump into Series 3.  With the complications of losing Norman Lovett to the Scottish Isles so he could no longer be the ship's A.I. and re-introducing Kryten from Series 2 as a reoccuring character we press on into the deep black.  This is Bodyswap.

Nope, still don't get the appeal to "Friends" at all.
Rimmer: Look, I know it's a stupid idean and there's a high chance of you being a spoiling vegetable for the rest of your life, but if the rest of your life 's only 30 seconds, what the hell?

During a scrolling of Series 3, Kryten crashed his space bike and was repaired but brought back his neuroses of being second class, Lister had given birth cesarean to his twin boys Jim and Bexely and handled them over to his parallel double, their mother to raise them and Holly missing his female doppelganger changes sex to still run the ship but now as a blonde and quite female.

One of the ship's on-board repair drones known as a Skutter has gone completely crackers and proceeds to rewire the ship.  Rimmer and Kryten (Robert Llewellyn of The Corner House, Smith & Jones, Junkyard Wars, Batteries Not Included and Carpool)  are busy double checking and cross indexing every circuit when they realize they cannot find the auto-destruct sequence for the ship and therefore have no control of the bomb going off.  

Awkward silences.

Holly (comedian Hattie Haydridge of Comic Relief, Saturday Live, Jonathan Creek, Lexx and It's Kevin) the ship's A.I. is bibbling on as per usual and makes you question how he/she can even run the basic fundamentals of this complex ship, let alone have a few working brain cells since going senile.  As the auto-destruct gets triggered thanks to Lister ordering a milkshake and a crispy bar the crew scramble to get the bomb deactivated when Kryten suggests using the same technology to create a hologram and swap Lister's mind with one of the dead crew to order self-destruct off.

Later that night Rimmer is just concerned about Lister's lack of diet, health and horrendous habits that he suggests they swap bodies for two weeks while Rimmer gets Lister fit and trim.  Haven't experienced touch, taste or smell in 3 million and 3 years, Rimmer's senses are a bit overwhelmed and well...  the diet and fitness program goes a bit off.  Chastised by Lister now wearing Rimmer's holo-body, Rimmer promises to buckle down.

Tempted by all the sins of the flesh again, Rimmer fails to follow through and the two swap bodies back.  Lister is coughing from all the cigars, booze and food Rimmer has made him ingest and tells Rimmer that will NEVER happen again.   Lister wakes the next day to find himself back in Rimmer's holo-body as Rimmer hijacked Lister's.  Can he convince the rest of the crew to catch Rimmer and swap them back?

Bodyswap was the first episode they could not film in front of the live audience because of Chris Barrie and Craig Charles had to dub their lines over each other talking and make sure it matched up with the difference in speech patterns.  A scene that was taped but deleted was Kryten comes to the sauna with a huge pile of food at Rimmer's(in Lister's body) request and a gag was Kryten had a lighter attachment in his index figure to light Rimmer's cigar. During the lighting and rechecks on equipment Llewellyn's suit became so sweat ridden that his own sweat short-circuited the wires to the lighter and every time they went to ignite the coils he was shocked mildly.

Charles Atlas diet plan.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Red Dwarf Favorites: Stasis Leak

Welcome back to Day 2 of Red Dwarf Favorites.  We jump ahead to Series 2 as Rimmer, Lister and the Cat are adjusting to life on Red Dwarf and its endless isolation.  Space is vast and so far there hasn't been an inkling of intelligent life outside the ship or in it for that matter.  Our boys are bored to the point of breaking and Lister decides to idly flick through Rimmer's diary back when he was still alive and has made a startling discovery.  To what end?   This is Stasis Leak.

Now see here, Mr. Potter...
Rimmer: Three Listers???!  Splendid!!!  Perhaps Lister can open a bottle of wine for Lister and Lister.  Rimmer here doesn't drink because he's spoiled but I wouldn't mind a glass!

Our episode opens with a flashback 3 million years ago when Rimmer puts Lister on report for giving Rimmer hallucinogenic mushrooms for breakfast causing him to show up for assignment nude aside from swimming goggles and a pair of gloves.  Captain Hollister (Mac McDonald of Death Wish 3, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Batman, Nightbreed, Delta Wave,Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom, The Fifth Element and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead) gives Lister two weeks punishment and as usual Rimmer blurts out his disapproval getting 8 weeks painting the 6 mile long ship.  Getting the space suits prepped Rimmer is visited by a floating head of his own face with an H imprinted on it who warns him of the impending future.

Cut to 3 million and two years later, Lister is checking out Rimmer's diary after finding a wedding photo of Kochanski and himself and piecing this whole chain of events together as the lot of them head down to Floor 16 and they conclude there is a pocket of time and space preserved by the very same radiation that caused the accident in the first place wiping the crew out.    To put it a bit more easy than that, a portion of time and space are out of sync with the rest of the universe's causality.

The Cat wins yet another Puff Up contest.

The problem is that they can go back in time but not bring anyone back with them as that person would be broken down molecule by molecule.  Lister thinks he can convince Kochanski to go into stasis in the spare stasis pod before the accident and Rimmer is of the mindset to warn his former self of the same.  Being there is only one other stasis pod it is a race to see who can con whom first.

A bit of trivia on the episode now.  The Ganymede Holiday Inn was in fact the Crowne Plaza Midland Holiday Inn in Manchester where the Red Dwarf cast and crew were staying at for more than 4 months. They filmed their shenanigans in the hotel during regular operating hours and apparently discouraged people from staying as a woman was sprayed in the face with a seltzer bottle causing potential customers to vacate.

In the final scene of Stasis Leak the actress Clare Grogan who played Kochanski was sent home too soon and due to equal height, the floor manager (in charge of props, camera, lighting and general safety) Dona DiStefano had to be Kochanski with a wide brim hat and stand in for her.

When Series 3 came around and the lot of them proceeded to head back to book another collection of hotel rooms the Crown Plaza politely turned them down and asked them to never darken their doorsteps again.

3 Listers??!!  Think I will join Rimmer in that bottle of wine.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Red Dwarf Favorites: Me2

Hello and welcome to the Jupiter mining vessel Red Dwarf.  Three million years into deep space, this hydrogen gas powered mammoth is over 6 miles long and 3 miles deep containing the last human being in existence, a holographic projection of the former crew and a humanoid that evolved from the domestic house cat.  Powering and running this ship at full tilt is the A.I. known as Holly, who may be senile and gone a bit peculiar.  This episode starts in continuity from Confidence & Paranoia where Arnold Rimmer has an exact duplicate of himself created to torment Lister further and allow Rimmer the drive and ambition to climb up the ranks and earn his command he so desperately craves.  This is Me2.

Beats doing the latrines!
Rimmer: Everything you ever did, you did to pull me back and spoil me.
Lister: Like what?
Rimmer: Like using my Mother's photography as an ashtray.

Lister's (Craig Charles of Red Dwarf, Cyberspace, Captain Butler, Doctors and Coronation Street) dead roommate is moving out of their sleeping quarters and moving in with an exact copy of himself who is equally petulant, whiny, snidely and all around smeghead.  A mid-level technician with a Napoleon complex.  Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie of Black Adder the Third, Spitting Image, The Legends of Treasure Island, The Brittas Empire, Get Fit with Brittas, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) is delighted at this turn of events and cannot wait to improve his rank and station in life now that he is away from the negativity that is Lister.  Lister comes across a tape Holly made for Rimmer as a tribute to his death.   Frankly to me, it sounds like a snuff film but hey to each their own I say.

Beside himself with joy.

Meanwhile the Cat (Danny John-Jules of Labyrinth, In Dreams, Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, The Tomorrow People, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Blade II and Death in Paradise) has once again put on his finest and outlandish wardrobe, greased his skates and is making his moves...  for a mate or three.  Yes he is skating the hallways with a megaphone announcing to all females to form a que and wait their turn.   As the days progress the Rimmers start squabbling, pointing out their flaws to great length and blame one another for the failure to be in command.
In spite of living on a vessel that is the size of a small city the Rimmers constant bickering has driven Lister, the Cat and even Holly batty and it is time for one of them to go.  But who will it be?  The original that had the bright idea of creating a clone of himself or the clone that claims validation in existence as well?

A few comments to make on this episode.  The death sequence for Rimmer as he mutters his final words, Gazpacho soup is of course a homage to Citizen Kane's Rosebud but how they bring the story out of Rimmer is to die for.  Chris Barrie's facial expressions in this scene are priceless as he portrays this haunted and distraught man when the dialogue is making you tear up from laughter.

Smoking in theaters...  IN SPACE!!!!

Red Dwarf Favorites

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen.  This week I can assure you we will NOT being reviewing anything of giallo or supernatural nasty because while I love Argento's work I need to be able to sleep at nights.   That being said I will be diving into the severely sprained minds of writers and creative team of Red Dwarf with Rob Grant and Doug Taylor (Spitting Image and Red Dwarf) and I thought I would share with you my favorite episodes.

You're not gonna rub my belly??!!!!

This goes without saying will bounce through several of the seasons.  With a 20 year hiatus with the promise of a movie that never saw fruition the mini-series of Back to Earth had hit or miss from the fans and breathing life into Season 10, the fans across the pond, around the states and frankly anyone with TV has heard, seen or caught a glance of Red Dwarf.

Whether you have hygiene issues that would unnerve a baboon, so anal retentive you could sharpen pencils with your bum, licked your clothes and took a session of naps or you really liked doing laundry, this show was for you.
That in mind, smeggers we now begin the Red Dwarf Favorites!

Did we scare it off?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Friday the 13th!!

While this is not an official holiday nor does it have a stamp of approval by the states, my friend Brandon Gardner and I always made it an event to gather snacks, soda and watch 20 somethings playing teenagers being systematically slaughtered like pigs in the Friday the 13th sequels.  

Greetings mortals!!!  I trust that...  hey, that is a flaming bag of dog feces on my porch!

As there are more than a few superstitious folks out there that do NOT even want to journey on the road, go for a walk at night or head to the store for an item.  I say no worries.  Those twinkies you wanted will be there tomorrow...  unless the ax murdering loony from beyond the grave has a certain spongy goodness sugar rush, mauled the clerks and claimed them for himself.   I'd suggest calling the cops on the mass homicide scene, leave your statement and just go to another store.

Have a full-filled full moon!!!

And happy birthday Tammi!!!

Candy gram!!!

Dario Argento Week: Mother of Tears

Howdy folks!  I wasn't kidding about a double feature and boy oh boy it made my skin crawl, sluff off and run for the hills.   It has been more than 25 years since Inferno and Argento began weaving his warped web of terror and surreal visions of the final chapter to The Three Mothers.  In 2007, after more than a few re-writes since 1984, the ancient tale first described in Suspiria and Inferno.  The final story begins without further adieu.  This is Mother of Tears.

Okay, who wants a thigh?

Mater Lacrimarum: Who wants to eat the spoiler?

Diving right into the film we see dirt being unearthed as members of the Catholic Church observe the digging up of a 19th century church official when they discover there is a large box chained to his casket.  The scholars demand to this box be removed and placed in their care.  Observing the contents of the box they reveal artifacts, scrolls and tomes belonging to Mater Lachymarum (Moran Atias of The Roses of the Desert, Good and Evil, Land of the Lost, Just Married, Crash and The Next Three Days), the last surviving member of the Three Sisters, a despicable triumvirate of black art witches that date back as far as the 11th century whose corrupting powers could effect events on a global scale, twisting and contorting people of all minds to utter evil.  The Monsignor who attended the dig, goes over the artifacts to the limited knowledge of witchcraft, occult and magic he has available and feels horrified at his discovery.

He then sends the urn to Michael (Adam James of Ashes to Ashes, Bonekickers, Wired, Doctor Who, Last Chance Harvey and The Execution of Gary Glitter) a foremost expert on mysticism, alchemy, the occult and the histories of ancient religions and magic of the highest and darkest orders.   Michael's colleagues at the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome, Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento of Demons 2, Close Friends, Trauma, XXX, Last Days, Land of the Dead and Dracula 3D) an American art restoration student that is dating Michael and Giselle (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni of Demons 2, Opera, The Phantom of the Opera, Ghost Son and The Dirt) a fellow restorative take it upon themselves to open the box.  Giselle cuts herself but they press on to find three statues representing the Three Mothers, a ornate ritual dagger, a cloak and even the box itself is carved with runes, wards and magical glyph.   Okay, I need to press on.  I sound like a Dungeon Master describing the treasure.

Well the Vatican funds vampire hunters so, why not magical theory?

No sooner does Giselle send Sarah off to fetch some translation books for the texts on the artifacts she is attacked by bizarre creatures that disembowel her.  Sarah witnessing this, runs like Hell and with good reason.  Mater Lachrymarum's familiar, a baboon gives chase after Sarah as she narrowly escapes with her life.  Giving her statement to the police she spends the night at Michael's.  Michael contacts the Cardinal that sent him the urn only to find out he had a massive stroke and now lays in a coma.  His assistant hands Michael a piece of paper with only Mater Lachrymarum written on it.    Back in Rome, all Hell is breaking loose with wave upon wave of mass suicides, murder tolls in the hundreds and anarchy in the streets.    Under the radar of this chaos a movement of pagan witches are joining Mater Lachrymarum's expanding coven quietly, gathering their strengths to bring an age of darkness humanity has never known in this modern era.  Can Sarah and Michael overt this mass of lunacy or are they doomed to swept away in it?

A few comments to make about the movie now.

The first screening of the film's trailer took place at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.  On that same day in question, a restored print of Suspiria was shown in the Cannes Classics section.
Dario Nicolodi, a writer/actress and former lover of Dario Argento played Elisa Mandy, Sarah's mother in flashback sequences.  Interestingly enough that Daria Nicolodi and Asia Argento are  mother and daughter in real life as much the film.

Now the nice folks at Medusa Film felt his film was too dark, graphic with depraved visions of perverse sex, cannibalism themes and sadomasochism...  Didn't they read the script??   Argento was forced to water down the sex and violence for the release to theaters for a broader audience but released an uncut original version that yours truly just finished watching.  Kinda wished I got the neutered version.    Quick FYI, parents. Due to the extremely graphic violence and sexual scenes, this is DEFINITELY NOT one for the kiddies.  The parents that let said children watch this movie, well...  it is on their heads and not mine.

Sorry, I was holding in a sneeze. Continue, please.

Dario Argento Week: Opera

Greetings to Day 4 of Dario Argento Week and I must be honest in saying my sleep cycle has been interrupted by more than a few nightmares.  No joke, it has been a few times of drenched in cold sweat and terrors involving me walking around my apartment.  The sacrifice I make for you people!!!   All joking aside some of these flicks have been a bit eye-opening.   Today's film is no exception as we burrow into the life of a young opparata who has deemed the performance of Verdi's Macbeth is cursed.  Another giallo film involving a mad stalker and yes that is a bit of a theme for our esteemed director.  This is Opera.

Give me sight beyond sight!

Betty: I am nothing like my spoiler!  Nothing like her!

The movie opens with these extreme close-ups of a raven's eye and a slight pan back to a wide opera theater house as practice to Macbeth as this innocuous raven caws about as the duet sings the piece and Betty (Cristina Marsillach of Estoy en crisis, La gabbia, Every Time We Say Goodbye, Days of Inspector Ambrosio and The Sea and the Weather) is anxious and paranoid about the composition as the lead  is ran down by a car and Betty is thrust into the lead role working with Marco (Ian Charleson of A Private Matter, Jubilee, Chariots of Fire, Antony & Cleopatra, Gandhi, Ascendancy and The Sun Also Rises)  a talented, charismatic director that tries to bring her to ease in her new role.  The show must go on!   During her opening performance, a murder occurs in one of the opera boxes giving the cast a sense of forebode.    Marco does his level best to bring the cast to a calm that would rival a Hindu calf.

A sharp tale to be told!

More murders keep happening during the productions and the only loosely thing these murders have in common is Betty.  On her way out of the theater she is abducted by her stalker, bound by rope, tape over her mouth and a series of needles on tapes are placed just under her top eye lids forcing Betty to watch whatever her stalker/serial killer wants her to watch.  Will she get away from her horrendous captor?  Will there be anything left of the cast to perform the show?  Will this effect her acting career?

Just a few interesting trivia notes from the film at this time.

The ending of the movie was inspired by Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon being such a visual disturbing series of images, Argento felt obligated to bring the same to his audience.  The character Marco, horror director turned opera director was based on the maestro Argento himself.  No ego there, folks.  According to Urbano Barberini (Inspector Alan Santini of Opera) the film had over 140 crows that took hours for the crew to re-capture as they were released in the opera house for filming.  only a rough tally of 60 of them were ever reclaimed.  The others must have escaped from the opera house during filming.

An alternative ending gave Betty Stockholm syndrome as she began to see her captor in a different light and she fell in love with this killer that proved himself time and time again that there were no boundaries he would not cross to please her.   Similar to Thomas Harris' novel Hannibal.  Great and warped minds think alike I suppose.

Optometry of the 1980's.