Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some pig!

A Tim Hamilton-drawn page from our forthcoming Kolchak: Night Stalker of the Living Dead miniseries from Moonstone.

Can you say, "ravenous undead mutant carnivorous pigs?"

I knew you could.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New DVD Late Show column now posted

My latest batch of "B" movie DVD reviews are now posted at Quick Stop Entertainment.

Titles covered in this column include: Eat My Dust, Creature from the Hillbilly Lagoon, Bacterium, Space Amoeba, Spider Baby, Next, Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke, and more.

Check it out!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend Video Recap

The wife and I rented a whole buncha movies this weekend, mostly older stuff that we'd been interested in seeing for a while, with an impulse choice or two.

First, the CGI-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, TMNT. I was never a huge fan of the property, although I had some of the earliest B&W comics, and Brandi is of an age where she occasionally watched the original TV show. Anyway, this new CGI feature was pretty decent. It required the audience to already know something about the characters, but the story was suitably "big," the voice acting was good, and the animation was really quite nice. One fight scene, pitting two of the turtles against each other on a rooftop in the rain at night, was really quite stunning.

Then, we watched a goofy comedy starring Jamie Kennedy, called Kickin' It Old Skool. Nothing particularly notable, but it was entertaining. A 12-year-old breakdancer hits his head during a school talent show and is comatose for twenty years. Waking up in 2006, he decides to help pay off his family's medical debt be reuniting his dance team and entering a TV contest. Lots of nostalgic "stuck in the 80's" jokes and a great cameo by David Hasslehoff.

Then, because I'd been kinda pumped by the trailer for the next installment, I finally watched the first Alien Vs. Predator movie, AVP. From all the online reviews I'd read, I expected this to be much worse than it was. To be honest, I rather liked it. I thought the story was fine, the effects were good, and the actors basically competent. Sure, it was no Aliens – in either the suspense or characterization departments – but I thought it was fun.

Also watched 300. It was fine. Didn't blow my socks off or anything, but I enjoyed it. Certainly an impressive technical achievement, with some thrills, but ultimately just okay.

Watched the Nicholas Cage flick, Next, another thriller with a time travel or "seeing through time" gimmick (Paycheck, Deja Vu, Heroes, etc.). Next was a solid little film, with a few good twists, based on a Philip k. Dick story, but again, just okay.

Finally, we watched the Korean monster movie, The Host. We'd been looking forward to seeing this for a while, and we weren't disappointed. Like a number of Asian films, the tone shifts in the movie can be a little jarring at times, but the basic story of a dysfunctional family pulling together in a time of crisis was something different for a 'creature feature." The monster itself was rather cool and unique, and its first appearance in the story was shocking and nerve-wracking. Recommended.

And... believe it or not, I also managed to do some work, some reading, and some laundry this weekend, too. ;)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vintage Sci-Fi on DVD

For the second year in a row, Universal Home Video has released a set of vintage science fiction thrillers in a DVD set that can only be purchased from the Best Buy chain.... assuming you can find them.

Last year's set included Tarantula, The Monolith Monsters, Monster on Campus, The Mole People, and, the gem of the set, the classic The Incredible Shrinking Man – in its proper widescreen ratio. for the first time on home video.

Although a number of fans hoped that Uni would offer the movies to the mass market soon after, they still have not done so.

So, when this year's set – which includes Dr. Cyclops, Cult of the Cobra, The Land Unkown (my favorite of the batch), The Deadly Mantis and The Leech Woman – went on sale last week, I convinced the wife to let me make the 50-mile drive to the closest Best Buy store to pick it up. (They're opening a new Best Buy store closer next year, fortunately.)

Frankly, this year's set is pretty weak. 1940's Dr. Cyclops, by the guys behind the original King Kong, is kinda fun, and is in three-strip Technicolor. And, I've been fond of 1957's The Land Unknown (cheesy dinosaurs and all) ever since seeing it when I was a kid on Channel Six's "Sci-Fi Theater," which, for several years in the Seventies, ran on Saturday afternoons during Summer vacation. But the rest of them – including the admittedly entertaining Mantis – are among the studio's weakest SF efforts. In a way, it's too bad This Island Earth and It Came from Outer Space had already been released seperately... but at least the studio issued It as a nice special edition a few years back.

Nonetheless, I still prefer vintage sci-fi and fantasy films over 99% of today's genre flicks, and I'm thrilled to have these in my library. The transfers are gorgeous, and it was great to finally see The Land Unknown in widescreen, which allowed me to even better appreciate the marvelous jungle sets and flawless compositing work of the FX crew.

(Now, I'm planning my trip to BB in late October for the exclusive "classic horror" set.)

Anyway, I was also hoping to pick up a couple of the new wave of MGM/Fox "Midnite Movie" releases – I have my eye on The Witchfinder General and Food of the Gods dics, as well as a few of the double feature sets (Return of Dracula/The Vampire, Yongary/Konga, Tales From The Crypt/Vault of Horror)– but the Best Buy in question didn't have any of them on their poorly-stocked shelves. Neither did our local WallyMart or Circuit City ... looks like Deep Discount DVD will be getting my business again.

Ah... the annual Halloween DVD "surge".... I love it, but if they'd release these things gradually over the year, it would be a lot easier on my limited budget....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New DVD Late Show column posted

New Late Show reviews are now posted at Quick Stop Entertainment, including: The Sergio Leone Anthology, Planetfall, Serenity – The Collector's Edition, The Giant Behemoth, Red Dawn – The Collector's Edition, Pathfinder: Unrated, Heroes: Season 1, Voyagers: The Complete Series, The Bourne Files and more.

Check 'em out!

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Here's the "A" Cover for the first issue of the forthcoming Femme Noir miniseries, pencilled by Joe Staton and digitally painted by Alfredo "Freddy" Lopez. The "B" variant cover is by Brian Bolland.

Isn't it beautiful?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Star Trek Lives!

There's this group of Star Trek fans, see, led by a gentleman named James Cawley, who have recreated the original Trek sets at a secret location in upstate New York, and are actually filming new adventures of the original Enterprise crew, distributed exclusively through this here internet thingy.

These "Season 4" episodes feature scripts by name Trek and sci-fi writers like D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Michael Reaves, Marc Scott Zicree and Howard Weinstein, and include on-screen appearances by original Trek cast members George Takei, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney, Denise Crosby, Malachi Throne, William Windom and Majel Barrett Roddenberry as the voice of the ship's computer. Special effects are state-of-the-art CGI, rivalling anything on the later Trek spin-offs, created by computer animation students and donated to the project.

And, believe it or not, Paramount – along with Majel and Eugene Roddenberry – have apparently given Cawley & company their blessing, as long as they don't financially profit from the episodes.

The original characters have been re-cast with amateur actors of varying talent, but the sets, costumes, props, lighting, photography, music and effects are all top-notch... at least in the one episode that I've downloaded and watched so far, Reaves & Zicree's "World Enough and Time," starring George Takei.

Now maybe I'm just a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I've just seen a new Trek episode – especially such a professional-quality one – but I thought it was terrific. Sure, the main cast are clearly not polished professionals, and sometimes the poor performances can be distracting (Cawley, as Kirk, has a tendency to overact with his eyebrows, for example), but Reaves and Zicree's story (considering that it mostly takes place on the ship) was one of the best Trek stories ever, with a solid understanding of the characters and themes of ST:TOS. Additionally, the key performers in the episode – Takei and Christina Moses as "Alana Sulu" – were so good that they more than made up for anyone else's thespic deficiencies.

Frankly, I'm astounded that a fan production can look so good and play out so well. In fact, I'll go so far to say that had this starred the original cast in their prime, this would be considered one of the top five Classic Trek episodes. But even with the mostly sub-pro cast, I was able to enjoy the episode immensely.

I'll be downloading the other New Voyages as soon as I can, and I have to say that this has given me considerably more confidence in J.J. Abrams' feature film Trek plans, as "World Enough and Time" proved to me that I can still enjoy the original Enterprise crew even with different actors in the roles.

You can download "World Enough and Time" in various formats, as well as a couple of earlier episodes here. The producers encourage people to download and burn the episodes to DVD, and even provide downloadable cover art, too.

If you're a Trekkie, you should check it out. Can't promise you'll like the shows, but you should definitely appreciate the hard work and salute the epic geekiness necessary to pull these things off.