Friday, December 24, 2010

Awesome Christmas Comics

One thing I love is Christmas comics (I also love Halloween comics, but never got around to typing about them this past October).  Of course there are many, many more, what with all the various company-wide specials published through the years, but these are the ones that always really stand out in my mind this time of year.  Without too much sentimentality, here are some Holiday comics I dig:

Clerks Holiday Special- I really wish Kevin Smith would do an animated Holiday Special to go along with this excellent comic. It’s Christmas in in the tri-town area, and where else would Dante and Randall find themselves, but the Quick Stop and RST Video, respectively. Randall discovers a door between the two stores that leads to Santa’s workshop, while Dante plans to visit a catatonic Caitlin Bree, who has been institutionalized ever since she fucked a dead guy in the Quick Stop bathroom. All’s well that ends well, and, well…this ends with Dante stuffing Caitlin’s stocking with one of those oversized candy canes.

Batgirl Adventures- Babs has a little Christmas fun with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

Battle Pope: Christmas Popetacular- Before The Walking Dead, before Invincible, Robert Kirkman cut his comic book teeth on a little self-published black-and-white called Battle Pope. Probably the best issue of the way-too-short series was the Christmas special. Pope bangs the Virgin Mary. Jesus throws down against Santa over the true meaning of Christmas. And, yeah, I did say that Pope goes at it with Mary, right? Certainly not a book for those who prefer the more sentimental side of the Holidays. But fun as hell, regardless.

Jingle Belle- Paul Dini’s Jingle Belle is Santa’s teenage daughter, and has been the star of a host of one-shots and minis (many of them Christmas-themed, obviously, but some of them not).

"Twas the fight before Christmas..."
Batman: The Long Halloween #3- This one isn’t really one to read on its own…but of course the Christmas installment of one of the best Bat-books written should be on this list.

JLA #60- It’s been a while since I’ve read this issue, but I remember enjoying it a lot when it came out nine years ago. Apparently Santa is a leaguer.

And lastly, a book I am looking forward to reading:

Santa Claus Versus the Martians- Apparently delayed until next Christmas, this book, published by Image, looks to be a fun slice of yuletide lunacy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stag Night of the Dead Reviewed

Stag Night of the Dead (2010)
Directed by Napoleon Jones (Neil Jones)

Tom Hanks never had a bachelor party like this. Dean is getting married tomorrow, and douchey best man Marky has arranged for an un-toppable bachelor party. This British zombedy is the story of six buds and their hired “stag night” entertainment (read: a stripper), who find themselves the latest willing victims in a game of Zomball. The film starts out pretty slow (which is not a good sign for a movie with a trim 80-minute running time), as we peek in on Dean hanging upside down, naked, getting whipped by the above-mentioned stripper. The opening setting, coupled with the movie’s promo art, had me a bit concerned that this would be yet another Zombie Strippers knock off. Fortunately, this is not the case.

Once the mid-day nudy bar debauchery comes to an end, the gang, stripper in tow, set off to a military complex, where they are greeted and instructed on the rules of Zomball (at this point, the film‘s pace picks up considerably). Essentially, in a post-zombie-infected world, you can pay money to hunt zombies in a controlled environment. Kinda like laser tag with the undead. This idea evokes a bit of The Running Man or Death Race 2000, in that it’s people doing fucked up shit for sport or game, and it seems to be acceptable.

The rules of Zomball are recounted to the players several times, the most important of which: Never humiliate a zombie. Whatever that means. And for the number of times this rule is reiterated, it never really comes full circle. Sure, our rowdy bunch of partiers hard end up humiliating some zombies…but it never really seems as big a deal as the rule would indicate. Despite this, and the slow beginning, the movie is pretty enjoyable. The characters are likable (when they are supposed to be) and annoying or hate-able (when called for). The stripper character is fleshed out (no, not in a nudity way) far more than most strippers in low-budget horror flicks are. Of course, there is the token sideways-hatted guy that speaks mostly in slang, who refers to himself often in the third person as DJ Ronny (think a British Loopz from Detour). DJ Ronny is good for a few laughs, though, and is the catalyst for some of the film’s funnier moments--Zomboobs and a Zomblow job.

And the makeup and special effects? Pretty damn good. There’s a scene in particular where the Flounder-like character, replete in a “This is my drinking shirt” shirt, gets smashed between the gates as they are closing, right as a zombie shoves his arm through the back of his head and out his mouth. The arm coming through this guy’s head is clearly CG, but it’s good enough that it doesn’t detract from the death or garner any laughs. You are still focused on the fact that this guy just had a zombie’s arm shoved through the back of his head. Certainly miles ahead of anything I might see on SyFy on a Saturday night (though I do genuinely love those made-for-SyFy joints).

These days, when video store shelves (figuratively! I know no one goes to the video store any more) are overflowing with dime-a-dozen, direct-to-video zombie rampages, you could do a hell of a lot worse than to support Stag Night of the Dead.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Technology vs. Nostalgia: Part One--the Audiophile

Back in 2006, I thought I was ready. I bought an iPod, loaded it up and burned back-up copies of all of my CDs. Then I sold my entire CD collection on eBay. I was ready to embrace the new MP3-only world that seemed fast approaching. As it turned out, I wasn’t.

As a little back story, I’m not much of a hoarder or collector or keeper-of-things. If I haven’t used something in a week I’m ready to get rid of it. So I have always been selling portions of my CD collection. CDs I wasn’t listening to at a particular time were sold to the local record store to make room and money for new ones. But I always maintained a fairly sizeable collection. Until I sold them all. ALL of them. Even the ones that were NEVER cut during one of my semi-annual collection purges.

And I thought I was ready.

For the first few months, it was okay. But then I found myself getting the itch. I was missing digging through the CD bins. Missing scouring eBay for good deals on out-of-print discs. Missing the hulking collection of discs that was always stored in alphabetical order next to my stereo. When I started getting those urges, I started doing something that kind of felt like the bulimia of CD addiction. I would buy discs regularly for a few months, accumulate a mini-collection, and then throw them all up on eBay. Then I would start anew.

But why? Why did I miss my CD addiction so much? Certainly it was cheaper to just buy MP3s off iTunes or Amazon. Certainly it takes up less space in the house. No need for a bulky CD tower. Certainly it is more environmentally friendly, since no resources would be used to create the physical product. But damn, nostalgia is a nag. I was missing the goofy shit. Unwrapping a new CD, carefully removing the white sticker that annoyingly ran across the top, popping the fresh disc into the player. The things I had done thousands of times since 1993 when I got my first CD player for my fifteenth birthday.

Now, four years after selling my CD collection, after spending seventeen years and thousands of dollars buying music, I own about six CDs. And I miss my collection. My fully loaded iPod does not cut it. Silly as it is, I want that physical product with the liner notes and the case and the disc and the unwrapping and the alphabetizing. So I’m planning to re-build my collection. Evolution be damned. I don’t have to accept the technology if I don’t want to. I mean, the albums are still going on my iPod, so it’s not like it’s going to be 1998, with me having to pick and choose which discs I take in the car with me. I just like the idea of having that physical archive.

Like I said, nostalgia is kind of a bitch. Or I’m nostalgia’s bitch. Either way. I miss my CD collection. And I thought I was ready.

Monday, September 27, 2010

DVD releases for September 28, 2010

This is the last week of September. Friday is the first day of October. Probably the best time of year to be a horror fan. The Fall/Halloween movie season gets started with some great titles.

First up is Adam Green’s Frozen. I wish I had been able to see this in theaters, as the trailer looked so intense. Looks like a great movie to curl up with on a cold winter night.

I have always heard how awesome the 1981 made-for-TV Dark Night of the Scarecrow is, and now I will finally be able to find out for myself. Hope this flick lives up to the hype!

I’m not a die hard fan of Madman like a lot of slasher fans are. But I do enjoy it, and will be glad to finally add it to my collection, as the original DVD had been out of print for a while.

While Iron Man 2 was not quite as good as the first (and it broke the sequel-that’s-better-than-the-first chain that X2, Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight started), I definitely had a good time in the theater. It was a great kickoff for the 2010 summer movie season.

Get Him to the Greek was not a genre movie of any kind, but goddamn I can’t wait to see it. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is probably one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and part of it’s charm was Russell Brand. Basing an entire movie around his Aldous Snow was a great idea.

Another film I am stoked for is Suck. To begin with, I would probably watch anything Alice Cooper was in at all, because he rules so hard. Throw in Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins and it’s all rock n’ roll from there.

I haven’t been into all the DC animated movies over the past few years (though I still want to see Batman: Under the Red Hood), but Superman/Batman: Apocalypse does look pretty fun.

...And holy shit, next week looks almost as good, if not better!  Because, fucking finally:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Zombies on the Rampage

I read a review in a fairly recent issue of Fangoria of some new low-budget zombie film. The review began with the following lines: “I hate zombie movies. I hate saying I hate zombie movies.” This was the reviewer’s way of saying that he has grown bored with the zombie sub-genre in the past six years, since the Dawn of the Dead remake and “The Walking Dead” comic renewed interest in reanimated corpses. At least they renewed interest with the masses. Us horror hounds have always known that zombies were awesome, and it didn’t take these breakout works to prove it (though I do love them both).

This review kind of bothered me. I mean, the movie being reviewed may have sucked (I don’t even remember what it was called). And we have all seen our fair share of crappy zombie movies to come out in the last half decade. But seriously, that is not going to deter me from continuing to check out the ones that look good, even if the genre *is* saturated. Just last year I watched and LOVED Dead Snow, and the other night I finally got around to watching Flight of the Living Dead--fun as hell. Granted, for every one of those enjoyable zombie movies, there’s a The Wickeds or a Day of the Dead 2. But still….remember how fun Dead & Breakfast was? And I would never want to dissuade someone from making the next Hide and Creep.

Maybe this guy was one of those movie-goers bemoaning all the post-Scream slashers that came out eleven years ago (of which I certainly saw my fair share of crappy ones…but I was just thankful that people were making slasher movies again). And I’m sure he now “hates vampire movies” and “hates saying he hates vampire movies.” And maybe he‘s right. But this automatically, and unfairly, crosses out all the great flicks that may come out dealing with any of these commonly-tread horror tropes.

I love zombie movies. I love saying I love zombie movies. Like many of you, I’ve loved them for twenty-ish years, ever since I saw the Tom Savini Night of the Living Dead remake in seventh grade. And I will continue to love every zombie movie (and slasher movie and vampire movie and whatever else becomes popular next year) that is made well, and with care and affection from the filmmaker. But who knows, maybe the movie being reviewed just sucked.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Violence In film

Just a quick blog inspired by Sylvester Stallone.  Weird, right?

I recently read an article where Stallone criticizes extreme violence in movies.  He says that in order for violence to justifiably exist in movies, there needs to be a balance of heroism.  I get that; however, after watching Rambo (2008) last night for the first time, I have to say that I had more issue watching that movie's violence vs. the type of violence you'd see in any of the so-called torture flicks.

Yes, we all know that John Rambo is heroic.  He's an action star.  A hero.  A do-right, stand-up guy who fights (and kills) for what he believe in.  With that being said, there is scene in Rambo where a Burmese village gets completely massacred by corrupt war criminals.  Everyone gets brutally slaughtered -- women get raped, children get shot and thrown into fires.  For me, this is far worse than watching the gory torture in, let's say, the Saw movies.  At least with Saw, you can separate yourself from the situation.  It's still fantasy -- and a bit over-dramatic.

To Stallone's point, there's no real heroism in the torture flicks; however, I don't care.  Clearly, Stallone's violence is more justified because he does what he does for a reason; but nonetheless, it was far more difficult to watch the brutal village massacre in Rambo than sitting through a bloody, eye-gouging scene in a torture flick.  With that said, I enjoyed both movies.  I just find it hard to digest Stallone's criticism of violence in movies when his violence is far more upsetting.

I said my piece.    



Monday, January 11, 2010

The Blu-Ray Challenge

Just a quick note about this whole Blu-Ray transition.  As it appears, 2010 is the year that Bloody Popcorn has accepted Blu-Ray as the new way to watch movies.  We bought a new 55" hi-def TV and a Blu-Ray player with Netflix/wireless capability.  We've purchased a few Blu-Rays:
  • District 9
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • X-men
  • Die Hard (4 pack)
Now, here's my beef.  Our DVD collections rests somewhere around 1,000.  It makes me physically nauseous to think about converted our collection to Blu-Ray.  How have the rest of you handled this transition?  Do you just purchase the new stuff?  Do you convert your favorite films?  Then, what do you do with your double movies -- sell/give away the DVDs?  And what about the TV Shows -- am I to convert my Buffy seasons?? I need feedback.

At first, I just wanted to purchase new release Blu-Rays that would benefit from the Blu-Ray experience -- action movies, etc -- but now, I don't know.  In the back of my head, I hear this voice that says, "Oohhh.. you keep seeing that Friday the 13th Blu-Ray at Wal-Mart.  Why not just go ahead and get it -- one double movie purchase isn't going to break you."  Then I hear the same voice, telling me the same thing about Terminator and Alien and the list goes on.  I'm beginning to hear the same voice convincing me that comedies would look awesome in Hi-Def.  And I'm sure they do -- but where does it end?

I know we're not the first to experience this dilemma.  So, help us out.  A little advice.  A little reassurance that our movie-buying-budget is going to accidentally triple this year.

Okay -- I am off to lunch. Disclaimer: Didn't have time to proof this post, so it could be riddled with typos.  My apologies. I'll re-look at it after lunch.