Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Puppet Master Continues: Puppet Master: Axis of Evil

ey there folks and welcome back to Day 4 of The Puppet Master Continues.  I took a mild break from these to bring you a podcast yesterday and hope you all got to enjoy #2 of Rotten Ramblin' On .  That in mind I did say we would dredge into YET another Puppet Master and this is also another time period piece... which people cannot seem to research their own source material.  We move back to 1939 with the Nazis hot on Toulon's trail in the Bodega Bay Inn as Toulon (William Hickey via archive footage) has just eaten his revolver and the Nazis consider this a dead end now but we never did find out if the puppets had respond to the loss of their beloved master.  With that, a young man investigates Toulon's room and finds more than he could have imagined.  This is Puppet Master 9: Axis of Evil.

Blade returns to smite Nazis!!!

Taking place in 1939, Danny Coogan (Levi Fiehler of In the Moment, Moonshine Inc., Wolf Town, Fetching, Crosshairs and Glitch) starts us off with making a series of wooden chairs for his Uncle Len's (Jerry Hoffman of Eight Is Enough, A Day for Thanks on Walton's Mountain, The Ratings Game, The Thirst and The Things We Carry) wedding reception and we are treated to a patriotic whining not unlike Steve Rogers in how he cannot get into the army and fight Nazis due to a limp in his leg.   Danny is hip to Toulon in that he knows he is on the run from the Nazis but for what reason there is no real indication.  Danny is actually on his way to Toulon's room when he hears a gunshot and sees two black garbed men goosestep their way from the room.

The House That Dripped...Puppet Juice??

 Toulon had previously shown Danny his puppets and began telling him the tale of his formula and miracle it can bestow on the puppets.   He looks around the room and finds a wall panel that doesn't seem to line up with the rest of the room finding the puppets with re-introduction to Six Shooter and a new puppet named Ninja.

With the Nazi assassins still at large, Danny accidentally discovers a plot to sabotage a bomb manufacturing plant as he recognizes one of the workers as one of the men trailing Toulon.  Desperate to warn his girlfriend Beth (Jenna Gahllaher of Nightfall and Puppet Master: Axis of Evil) that this Max is a Nazi, she doesn't believe him and he trails Max to an old Opera House in Chinatown to uncover the plot.   Long story into it, Max sends his partner Klaus to take care of this snooper at of all places, his brother's sendoff party before he is overseas.

Klaus ends up killing Danny's mom and mortally wounds his brother.  Following Toulon's notes, Danny transfers his brother Don's soul into Ninja and the rest of the puppets are also reanimated for a showdown with some ratzis.   Will the Reich be foiled?  Can Donny be a true puppet master?  Whatever happened to Beth?

A handful of facts now about the flick.  This is the first Puppet Master movie to be shot in Asia, more specifically China.  This is also the first Puppet Master film to occur in almost seven years since Puppet Master: The Legacy.  Interestingly enough both this Puppet Master and the flick Killjoy 3 were filmed back to back then released in 2009.   Sadly I could see a bit of electric tape put around Ninja's had to hold up his katana.  There was a big debate on whether or not L.A.'s Chinatown had neon signs during the 1940s and finally director David DeCoteau decided it did and it gave the night scene more levels.   Yeah, following the trend past Puppet Master 5, there is no stop animation and more mono-filament wire.  Ugh.

Nutzis is the craziest of peoples....

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Puppet Master Continues: Puppet Master: The Legacy

Welcome back one and all for Day 3 of The Puppet Master Continues. When last we left our monstrous moppets, they were flashing back to a simpler time when they were first brought into existence and Sutekh's people were rampant over Cairo. This time around we move into modern era with a "rogue" agent searching for Toulon's puppets and secrets and she will not be detoured. This is Puppet Master: The Legacy.

Jeez, another old guy. Why don't babes ever answer our Craigslist post?

Maclain (Kate Orsini of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, Gargoyle, Rail Kings, Welcome to Earth and The Nurse) has tracked and scoured the Earth looking for the secrets of Toulon back to the Bodega Bay hotel where Toulon offed himself waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the first film... and was resurrected for the second and them we are at a lost from there on. Reading through his diary and getting a narrative of earlier accounts the diary catches fire and Maclain will have to seek her answers elsewhere. She found a older gentleman now of Eric Weiss (Jacob Witkin of Ekkusu bonba, Superboy, Swamp Thing, Showgirls, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II- Jedi Outcast, Dr. Moreau's House of Pain and Phantom) formally Peter Hertz, the boy Toulon saved from the Nazis in World War II. Present day, Peter has finally found out whatever happened to his friend after years of being out of contact with each other.

Yul Brynner??!!!

Eric has been going through Toulon's notes in order to make sense of the alchemy and strange chemical formula when he is held at gunpoint by Maclain and she demands the secrets so we go through an extensive flashback re-telling with... archived footage? That's right folks, we are getting Toulon's vacation slides and a narrative from Eric. Interspersed with previous footage I saw maybe a half hour of new material but otherwise the rest is from the previous flicks. Maclain goes on to further establish before she arrived at the hotel she tracked Dr. Rick Meyers of Puppet Master 4 and Puppet Master the Final Chapter down and stipulated she wanted Toulon's diary. When she didn't get it by means that were not evil she apparently shot Meyers and his friends to lay hands on the diary.

Eric remains calm for the most part, waiting for a chance to strike. Knowing full well that the puppets remember him and will protect him at Toulon's last wishes and thoughts are being played out on a recorder. The recordings always speak of someone else discovering the secrets and not knowing fully what the formula can be. Soul transference is the name of the game kiddies. Toulon has been dropping souls into his deadly dolls for ages and each new puppet master has been doing the same. Are they now legion? Where are these other dolls? What is their end game?

A few comments of the film now. This is the first Puppet Master film directed by the franchise creator Charles Band. The acting in this movie between Orsini and Witkin isn't bad. The film really tries to fill in the massive amounts of gaping plot holes left by the series but let's face it, those holes are as wide as chasms by now. The pretentious need to have everything tie together by this time does not quite meet up with fans' expectations by this point. Vainglorious endeavors aside, the effort should be acknowledged in spite of the lack of real story telling. If you are an avid fan of the series then by all means, partake in the movie. Otherwise, you can easily skip it. This moving picture doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know but plays up a bit of suspense.

You will sexually gratify me or get a bullet in the head!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Puppet Master Continues: Retro Puppet Master

Hello all and welcome back for Day 2 of The Puppet Master Continues. Yes after that tremendous pile of donkey flop, I wouldn't at all be surprised if all interest in this series completely stopped. Well enough of Dr. Magrew, his daughter Jane and Tank and surprise, surprise NO NEED TO FOLLOW THEM anymore. It's time for another flashback story. Toulon returns after the events of Puppet Master III as he escapes the Nazis heading towards the Swiss border for their fine hot chocolate, watches and knives. What adventures await Toulon and his creations this time around? This is Retro Puppet Master.

No I am not Wesley Snipes and does it look like I can sign an autograph??!!

So the year is 1944 in Switzerland... which is impressive considering Toulon blew his brains out with a pistol in 1939 so this should actually be the year 1938 but who needs fact checking and consistency in their own series? Find me a Horror franchise that has actually mastered that well. Toulon and puppets hide out in an abandoned inn when Blade discovers an old carved puppet head in the case called Cyclops bringing Toulon into a series of flashbacks within a flashback. Ahhh!!! We are approaching Highlander territory now. Journey to Cairo in 1902 when Toulon (Greg Sestero of Nash Bridges, Gattaca, Edtv, The Room, Accepted, Alien Presence and The Pit and the Pendulum) as a young man meets Afzel (Jack Donner of Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, Mannix, Good vs Evil, Star Trek: Enterprise and Vampire) a reputed 3,000 year old sorcerer that stole vast secrets from the followers of the demon Sutekh. Sutekh less than thrilled about this creates three mummies to dispatch him but for some reason the mummies subcontract to a couple of human servants because the sorcerer can sense the mummies trailing him. Confused? EXCELLENT!!

I think we are too early for Goth.

Moving on, Ilsa (Brigatta Dau of Ranma 1/2, Alien Nation: The Enemy Within, Sliders and NightMan) is daughter to the German Ambassador who is apparently a horrible human being and her mother is well less than notable as she doesn't even appear physically in the movie at all. Thugs start pummeling Afzel in the streets outside the theater Toulon's puppet show inhabits, shrieks for help as the thugs scatter like rats deserting the sinking ship, leaving Toulon and Ilsa to aid Afzel.

Realizing that humanity will need help from the elder gods stirring in their sleep, Afzel teaches Toulon the power and formula to animate the puppets as saviors to humankind. In spite of their murderous tendencies of the past movies. A humble beggar dies on the streets and Afzel and Toulon transfer his soul into Pinhead (the puppet not Hellraiser's Doug Bradley). Amazed what is before his eyes, Toulon becomes a diligent student in these arts of magic. Our mummies look a bit foppish in bowler hats, suits, ties and dark smoked glasses. Yes I am not even making that up.

White guys playing Egyptians which I guess that would be Brownface do their level best to secure the secrets of Sutekh by being total peckerheads. Attacking the embassy in the night, abducting Ilsa and killing her parents. Toulon must give back the scrolls to the white Egyptians or they will dispatch Ilsa. Will they be true to their word? Is there a double-cross lurking in the wings?

Yup, now it is time for more facts on the film. This is the first of the Puppet Master series to be filmed outside the US. Mostly "Paris" was Bucharest and Snagov Romania. Shot in 12 days Guy Rolfe's scenes were shot in a day so you guessed it, we will be in flashback land for a bit. The footage of the train is actually shot for a mini-trilogy called Puppet Wars that never got off the ground, so why not use footage already in the can? It was all interior anyway. Interesting enough James Franco auditioned for young Andre Toulon. Well it beats playing new Green Goblin with Sandman and Venom I suppose. Mono-filament wire is being used yet again so no stop-animation for our puppets. Still this was vastly superior to Curse of the Puppet Master.

So what did happen to Rick Meyers? Even beyond the grave I cannot tell you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Puppet Master Continues: Curse of the Puppet Master

Welcome back friends and film freaks to Day 1 of Puppet Master Continues. We move on from the adventures that Doctor Rick Meyers (Gordon Currie from Puppet Master 4, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter, Beverly Hills, 90210, Ripe, Listen, First Wave and Left Behind: World at War) defeated Sutek and his totems... so where the 9 Hells is he??!! Did Blade convince the others he wasn't worth their time and they gacked him in the middle of the night? Are they on strike? This is Curse of the Puppet Master.

Psst, Warden. Heard from the Governor yet?

With no explanation what happened to Rick Meyers at all the puppets were put up for auction. Maybe they sang show tunes all night and Meyers simply had enough of it. EVEN THOUGH, they are the secret to immortality and so on and so forth. Our film opens at The House of Marvels, a museum devoted to dolls and their collection and of course Toulon's puppets can been seen from... a cage? Dr. Magrew (George Peck of Deathtrap, Under Water, Anywhere But Here, The Extra Man and Excuse Me for Living) assures the puppets that this time everything will be different... to whatever that means and he stuffs something into a wooden crate. Seen speeding off into the foreboding woods (which look a bit like Canoga Park in L.A.) he dumps the crate to the ground, douses it in gas and lights it up. As the camera pulls away from the crate a very faint screaming is heard. OooO maybe he was burning Warwick Davis for all those Leprechaun movies. 

Who missed me??  No I am not a garden gnome!

 Anywho, we meet Magrew's daughter Jane (Emily Harrison of Curse of the Puppet Master, Puppet Master: The Legacy, Food for Thought, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, The Bold and the Beautiful and Defending Santa)fresh from college... though I am convinced she is only done for the year and not graduated. Jane looks about for Magrew's assistant, Matt but apparently he had to leave to tend to his sick father leaving Magrew without aid for his dolly show. Dammit I am still irked that Rick isn't even a factor in this when he was a serious driving force of the previous two films. Well, actually the long film broken into and edited to be made into two movies but that is not the point. I want Rick back!

Driving into town for a break, Jane and her father stop at the gas station where the local slow kid dubbed "Tank" (Josh Green of Sweet Kill, Curse of the Puppet Master, Party of Five, Spiders and Peal Harbor) is treated to some low brow bullying because... hell I guess there was nothing good on cable, at the theater or the bully boys just got done burning some books. Jane and Magrew shoo the bullies away by being smarter than they and try to talk to Tank. A timid soul lurks in Tank as he enjoys wood carving, Magrew notices his passion in the carving and asks Tank if he would rather work for him instead. He introduces Tank to Toulon's puppets as they are "alive" and it fascinates Tank to the point he himself is carving new puppets. I would say it as though we have stepped back in time again but seeing the lad only gets paid $35 a week I wouldn't know where to put that timeline considering a '96 Mustang is shown. Jane seems to have a real bond with the puppets and the business. Will the puppets get loose and do in Magrew? Will Tank be the new master?

Just a few bits of interest now.

Full Moon went completely bankrupt during the follow-up to Part 5 and several film projects simply tanked without Paramount bankrolling so Band had to finance his own films and this was the first step. With a much smaller budget and David Allen unable to do the stop animation of the puppets due to be incredibly ill, the stage hands were holding the puppets up or moving them around, coupled with stock footage of the previous Puppetmaster flicks made this look hokey at best and cheesy at worst. At some points you can see the monofilament wire moving their limbs.

The original script was going to take them back to Egypt were Toulon learned of this animating process but it got scrapped and we were given "this" film shot in 8 days.

Hmm?  Oh sorry, I was thinking about that Seinfeld episode.

The Puppet Master Continues!!!

Welcome back friends, family and film freaks. Well it has been a bit since I took a peek into what truly got me started into reviewing films. More than a few years back, I got relegated into reviewing the genre of Horror. Not because I have a natural aptitude to gore, violence, crappy story lines, one-dimensional characters and poorly timed jump scares. Apparently being a guy was the deciding factor. 

Told you we'd get that dope to review the rest of the flicks.

Thankfully for my editor, I didn't run away screaming like a B-movie extra from the babysitter slayer but some days it really made me a tad bitter. That all being said, I have actually been introduced to some clever and well-written fright flicks so I suppose I can muster through the memories of 374 zombie movies and suck it up. Seriously, the comments and compliments I have gotten over the last 3 years has been good. So keep churning those out!

Previously, I reviewed the first five Puppetmaster films, a franchise created by Charles Band, writer and producer of Full Moon Pictures. With the Subspecies franchise and Puppetmaster it didn't matter that this company made Doll Man or Demonic Toys. Our little marionettes of mirth and mayhem are back to cause mischief and murder for those that dare seek to harm their master and who knows... maybe there will be additions to the flock.

For those of you that are still reading this, I declare The Puppet Master Continues.  Be afraid... Be very afraid I don't start laughing.

Blade: a cut above the rest.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Anime Picks Week: Goldenboy

Welcome back for Day 4 of Anime Picks Week. Sorry for yesterday as there has been some trouble acquiring the job I want but enough of that! Let's get back to the anime of the day and this is no exception at all. The subgenre falls under erotic comedy so yes this series is indeed not for the kiddies. We find our main protagonist is a undersexed, easily distracted and somewhat ridiculous perv. The lad's world is filled with landmines of the female persuasion, tempting him at every turn... according to him at least. This is Goldenboy.


Our show hails from the same named manga by mathematician and writer Egawa Tatsuya (Be Free, Dead Man, ONE ZERO NINE, The Last Man, Golden Boy and Happy Boy) who found the ability to combine story arcs with humor, adult language and adult situations in manga form. His stories were so bizarre and goofy it is no wonder this was turned into a six-part series. Meet Kintaro Oe, age 24: left his studies at Tokyo University without graduating in spite of having met all his requirements for his law degree, he deems himself a free spirit and constant student of life. Kintaro takes on various jobs within each new town he bicycles himself to.

Oh yes young man, they are real.  How sweet of you to notice.

Our young adventurer seems to always land a job around or nearby exotic, strong-willed women that he either lusts after profusely or their personalities dare him to strive to their expectations. His typical first impression from the girls is he is a loathsome pervert trying to sneak peeks and make lewd comments. He is in fact young and inexperienced in the matters of polite society and tends to speak what is on his mind before he thinks it through. He is good natured and considerate but must battle with his inner demons of gawking at this provocative women that surround him and his work-site. As a student of life, he keeps a constant update on his finding with his prized possession, his notebook. At the end of the day, he is a hyperactive geek that is awkward at times and sweet at others. Always aiming to learn, help where he can and see bewbs, Kinatro is a beacon of goodness that just happens to be tarnished by being headstrong and hormone ridden.

Just a few points on the show now. Most of the humor surrounding this series is incidental, happenstance and the lad simply has the worst luck when dealing with the opposite sex. He endeavors to be smoother, wiser and more of a capable man. The typical other dimensional Dragon Ball Z effects occur in the form of speed lines, lighting and booming voices when he needs to get a point across or someone is flogging him for his hedonistic ways. My real complaint about this almost hentai series is the women are only two types. Strong, independent and quick to judge or meek and subservient. The portrayals of either doesn't exactly paint girls and women well.

That being said, this series is goofy, fun in an adult theme and makes most guys realize that this could be them if they don't straighten up. The nudity as a whole is light and there is sexual situations but nothing graphic or detailed. Subtle as a brick but tame enough to not offend in a horrible light.   


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Anime Picks Week: Lupin the 3rd

Hello folks and greetings for Day 3 of Anime Picks Week. Scatterbrained me almost did an extensive blog on the ins and outs of City Hunter forgetting... I have already done that. Thankfully my brilliant and lovely girlfriend pointed that out along with me and I decided the best course of action is to find an anime that combines humor with a fair degree of action, heist and police evasion. I speak none other than the thief extraordinaire, the convincing conman, the rascally rogue. This is Lupin the 3rd.

Damn, that girl on the elliptical is really going to it.

Based on the Manga of Kazuhiko Kato (a.k.a. Monkey Punch) this series follows the insane heists and general shenanigans of one master thief Arsene Lupin the third, grandson of fictional character Arsene Lupin the gentleman thief and detective of the Maurice Leblanc novels. That character was sort of a doppelganger of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's own Sherlock Holmes. Complicated, ain't it?

With that in mind, let us discuss the man of the hour and his gang of misfit professionals. With his announcements to rub it in the authorities via calling card to the owners of said gorgeous treasures Lupin knows when to ask for the aid of his trusted accomplices. His closest partner and fellow schemer, Daisuke Jigen, an marksman of unparalleled standing, normally these two pull a fair amount of jobs as a two-man crew but every so often then find need for a few more boots on the ground. Enter Goemon Ishikawa the 13th, a swords-master whose blade can literally cut through anything and his precision is second to none and last but certainly not least, the full-figured femme fatale Fujiko Mine, whose eagerness to help, coupled by her stunning looks tends to blind Lupin as she may scoop up the score for herself.

Femme Fatale?  Moi?

With his patented red jacket, white slacks, black shirt and yellow tie, Lupin strikes a pose of a carefree fellow looking to make his next pinch through his own unique planning and execution. Imagine crossing the Saint with James Bond and adding a level of Peter Cooke for humor and you get the general idea. Guess that would make Fujiko the Bond Girl. Hmm.

Aside from their fun and games of plundering, destruction of private property and mass insanity, one man is assigned to bring our curious quartet in, Inspector Zenigata of INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) who time and time again has been bluffed, thwarted, bamboozled and more or less baffled at the crime in progress let alone how Lupin plans to escape his capture. Seriously though, Zenigata must have a huge ulcer or acid reflux from all the paperwork and stress Lupin creates. He eats food on the go, constantly screaming at fellow authority figures and overall has a bit of an attitude problem towards his superiors.

And now a few facts of the existence of this series. Back in 1967, the Lupin III manga was created in Weekly Manga Action creating a franchise that scored four different anime TV series, at least two live-action movies, CD soundtracks, multiple video games and even a musical. Suck it, Spiderman!

That being said, our franchise bounced from over 10 different companies arguing over the rights to both the original Japanese release and the English dubbed series. Tokyopop acquired the rights to the original Manga and later a second series as well. Funimation Entertainment bought up the rights for several of the TV specials and the films while yet another company Geneon got their mitts on the dubbed 79 episodes and worked a broadcast contract with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. And last of all, Discotek Media fully licensed the entire first TV series and the first live-action movie giving them access to several of the other Lupin titles including some previously released for VHS, DVD and now Blu-Ray. Bet Kazuhiko Kato never saw this playing out the way it did.

Still more popular than Pokemon! BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anime Picks Week : Captain Harlock

Hello again readers and welcome back for Day 2 of Anime Picks Week. This next write-up was at the suggestion of my dad and I have to concur this particular piece of anime covers so much in it. A dystopian timeline with humanity being nothing more than couch potatoes, minds fully at ease that their governments are tending to their every woe that all they do is recreation. No opinions are voiced, no movements are made and no one speaks up. Utopia in some minds, but for others it is viewed as a lethargic, easy target from above. Not everyone on the planet or around it are going to stand for alien invasion. This is Captain Harlock.

Snake Plisken... I hear you were dead.

Based on the manga known as Space Pirate Captain Harlock by artist Leiji Matsumoto (Submarine Super 99, The Galaxy Railways, Gun Frontier, Cosmo Warrior Zero, Queen Emeraldas and Arcadia of My Youth) comes a future of the year 2977, with vast star travel and ferrying but the planet as a whole seems to be falling into a slow but steady sense of despair. The general mood is apathy and none can be bothered to reach beyond their four walls let alone the depths of space. One man and his crew of brigands fight the governments and the alien oppressors known as the Mazone, a species of plant female humanoids that claim to have a link to Earth itself and demand it back. With the only way to be a hero to his planet is to be an outlaw, Harlock hoists the skull and crossbones as they cripple vessels, end blockades and thwart the world's new alien masters.

Harlock is not alone in his battles. The crew of the Arcadia has Daiba Tadashi, a 14 year old lad that joined the Arcadia after the death of his father by the Mazone. Chief Navigator Kayla Kerry, a young woman that scheduled for hard labor for striking the military officer that made light of her father's passing. La Mime , an alien woman who is the last of her kind, saved by Harlock she has psychic abilities and holds one of the closest bonds with the captain. Caliban, first mate to the Arcadia who is kind of the comic relief when he is not building model ship kits and blowing everyone away with his mathematical genius. Maji. The ships chief engineer managing to keep that ship in the sky. Doctor Zero, chief medical officer that is constantly bandaging the crew and snapping at the ship's cook that he points out does not offer enough vegetables and lastly Miss Masu, the curmudgeon cook who holds Doctor Zero and his cat Mi-kun in content due to their unorthodox visits to the kitchen.

Sweetie, bangs are out this season.

Earth Defense Navy and Infantry are constantly attacking the Arcadia or any of their scout ships, convinced that Harlock is the greatest threat the planet has ever known. Continuously exposing the schemes and plots of the Mazone, Earth Defense is of the belief that Harlock is merely throwing them off the scent and he is more than responsible for piracy, treasonous behavior, moral conduct and murder. Will the Mazone ever be defeated? Will Earth ever truly be free? Will Miss Masu and Doctor Zero just bump uglies on the prep table?

Quick few bits of info on this series now. The 1978 series gave you about 13 episodes that the Mazone made their way to Earth in a large sphere and appeared as ancient Mayan gods to those that saw them. While the Arcadia of My Youth shows Harlock's choices and beginnings on being a pirate and acquiring the Arcadia. This series has produced multiple manga and anime based on Harlock or his ancestors to show his family has always rocked the boat of society. Gun Frontier is an amusing series of Franklin Harlock, a gun fighter that searches for a lost clan or tribe of Japanese foreigners and even a spin-off female counterpart called Queen Emeraldas whose manga has a huge following that she also got a series and a few films as well. A computer animated film in 2013, Space Pirate Captain Harlock was released and apparently dropped 30 million into the project. Hell I am stoked to go watch it now!

Damn space floozies attacking me in my sleep.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Anime Picks Week: Phantom Quest Corp

A bit hearty welcome to Day 1 of Anime Picks Week! A quick bit of background on today's choice. Our story revolves around our heroine Ayaka Kisaragi, a talented woman descended from an ancestral line of Japanese exorcists... but given she is sick of their ways and traditions, she decides to open a business to exploit those talents for a fee. This is Yugen Kaisha a.k.a. Phantom Quest Corp.

That ginger could poke your eye out!

Created by writer Mami Watanabe (Heavy Metal L-Gaim, The Record of the Lodoss War, X and Araiso Private High School Student Council Executive Committee) this offbeat horror/comedy is a good hybrid claiming ancient monsters in the modern world.

Ayaka's headquarters operates from her family home wedged among the various buildings in Shinjuku, Tokyo. With her traditional methods of exorcism of demon banishment, mantra, water collected from holy rivers and circles of protection, Ayaka is also adept with martial arts, a laser sword which manifests from her lipstick and her earrings that seem to possess a spiritual charge of explosive proportions. With at least 5 to 6 people in her employ along with working with the U Division 's Detective Karino's case load, you'd think she would be a renown philanthropist by now.

Mystic marvels at money!

Alas between mad shopping sprees, karaoke and what I can only estimate as GALLONS of Sake the business is often in the red. Her boy genius, Mukyo who balances the books, sets appointments, takes cases and client information and in general has to boot Ayaka out of bed due to her binge drinking late sleeps it is a wonder he has not gone completely crackers. Karino of U Division operates from the logic/science base of supernatural happenings and relies heavily on Phantom Quest Corp's traditional exorcism, magic, occult and witchcraft practices to save the day.

With occasional aid by seer Madame Suimei, staff Buddhist exorcist Rokkon and a pyrokinetic (able to project and control flame)14 year old Namai things may get hairy but there is enough diversity in the staff to combat most of what creeps in the dark. Horror content with humorous subtext makes this a fun show with incidental humor worthy of Marx Brothers but enough sexual innuendo to make it mildly lewd. Right away you get the vibe that Karino is head over heels for Ayaka in spite of her horrific drunken singing and carousing as she does. Is there chemistry between them? Will Phantom Quest Corp ever get out of the red? Will Mukyo cook the books, fund a nest egg and disappear to an island?

Now a few facts of the show. Due to some similarities to a previously existing series called Ghost Sweeper Mikami, the only thing this series got was four episodes and then that was that. While the animation, comedy and action sequences were praised by the critics there was too much backlash from the Ghost Sweeper Mikami fans. Also many felt there was not enough plot depth or character development like, how does a 12 year old boy balance all the accounts, appointments and finances for a business? Aside from that, two soundtrack albums were released along with a Japanese novella or light novel and one issue for an English manga.

With a combination of Ghostbusters, X-Files, a hint of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, this series was taken before its time.

Hey! That's not Batman!

Anime Picks Week

Hey folks. Sorry if I went AWOL last week but I am ATTEMPTING to find more gainful employment and that isn't working to the greatest extent it could. With that in mind we last left off with Joan Crawford Week and I thought this time around we have not done any cartoons or anime so clearly it is time to fix that. For those of you that have been living under a rock, stream or gully for the last 50 years, Anime is a term describing Japanese animated product, whether it be penciled, inked and colored or computer animation, this particular style of animation seems to focus in the very same genres as any other TV or movie series.

Stoopid bike!

For your viewing pleasure, it can be original Japanese voice acting with English subtitles or the English dub with American and/or English voice actors. Unlike Disney based animation which primarily focuses on movement of the characters, background and foreground, anime translates from a pose to pose basis allowing the cel or plate animation to have more of an artistic look to it but still give it story arc... unless it is Card Captors. I haven't met a Card Captors fan.

Given the copious amounts of genre I shall do my level best to provide as many examples of as possible throughout the week. This is Anime Picks Week.

Haha! Your ship is pink, Ralph!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Joan Crawford Week: Johnny Guitar

Howdy folks and welcome to Day 4 of Joan Crawford Week. We are a moseyin' into Old Timey West with Ms. Crawford today as we enjoy a Western that gender swaps making Crawford the real hero of the flick and Sterling Hayden the plucky heroine?? With this amazing cast and direction by Nicolas Ray (Flying Leathernecks, On Dangerous Ground, The Lusty Men, Run for Cover, Rebel Without a Cause and Bitter Victory) it is a wonder why this is only a cult classic and not a much more beloved western. This is Johnny Guitar.


Our opening sequence is Johnny Logan (Sterling Hayden of Battle Taxi, Timberjack, The Last Command, The Killing, Valerie and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) riding away from a series of explosions through a hillside. I mean this is action hero worthy of his stalwart bad-ass self.

In a town of the outskirts of Sedona Arizona, this cattle town (amazingly enough more than one horse) a smart, aggressive saloon owner and operator Vienna (Joan Crawford of Grand Hotel, The Women, Susan and God, Possessed, Flamingo Road and The Damned Don't Cry) supports the coming track of a new railroad in spite of the rest of the townsfolk declaring it will be the end of their way of life. She even allows the The Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady of Blood Arrow, Shotgun Slade, Five Bloody Graves, Hell's Bloody Angels, Bonnie's Kids and Police Story) and his compatriots to enjoy the saloon, gambling and liquor a plenty.

Crap! Are they mining out here??!!!

The lead cattle rancher with the most head of cattle and acreage, John McIvers (Ward Bond of The Maltese Falcon, It's a Wonderful Life, The Searchers Wagon Train and Rio Bravo) gots a cactus burr in his rear saddle about how Vienna is a doin' things around these here parts are determined to run Vienna out of town and a previous stick-up of the stage coach is a good enough reason to lay blame. Ah, mob mentality. Vienna doesn't give them an inch and refuses to back down with a little bit of help from Johnny Guitar himself they shoo these cowpokes out easily. Vienna and Johny seem to have one of the hotter love/hate relationships as they banter, snark and flirt back and forth through the better portion of the second act until McIvers tells them that they and the Dancin' Kid and crew have just 24 hours to skidaddle or shootin' irons will do all their talking.

Will the Kid and crew give the town a major shoot up? Will McIvers get the surgery needed to pull that stick out of his ass? Will Vienna and Johnny ever make heads or tails of their past and present relationship?

A tiny amount of trivia on the flick. With theme song by Peggy Lee and Victor Young, the instrumental is played throughout the movie. Filmed in Mono this film also used the tired concept of Trucolor prior to Technocolor... Watch it in black and white, folks. So much better and people don't look peach colored that way.

Joan Crawford insisted on her close-ups only to be filmed in the studio, where the lighting could be controlled. Not one of her close-ups was shot on location. Sterling Hayden stated: "There is not enough money in Hollywood to lure me into make another picture with Joan Crawford. And I like money."

Yup, that's me, Johnny.