Thursday, April 18, 2019

Lost in Translation?: Kong- Skull Island

As we get hyped for what the next Godzilla Film will bring and think about what the Crossover Film will bring in 2020, let's look back at what started the real push.

Kong's first solo Film in over a Decade was a big hit.

Let's see how Asia decided to market it...
Damn!  That is one bad-ass Poster!

I mean...damn.

As always, here's the original...
I added a splash of color on the front and some sharpening to add some depth.  It doesn't look 3-D enough if it is all flat, after all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

'70s Trash: Blood Mania (1970)

A great Title does not always a great Film make.  Blood Mania is a 1970 Film that is famous among a hardcore group of people.  Basically, you either have never heard of the Film (like me) or own multiple copies of the Film for whatever reason.  There is no middle ground here, folks!  The Film tells the tale of blackmail, intrigue and murder.  It sure sounds like the Title should fit.  It really doesn't until the end though.  Before that, you get what is basically a Soap Opera Story that is constantly-threatening to turn into a Porn.  You think I'm joking, but I'm really not.  It comes to us from the Writer/Director of such classics as Angel and Avenging Angel.  The other two Writers have such Credits as only this Film and another Film by the same Director.  Our Star is the other Co-Writer and he seemingly-died before his Career could really get started.  Information on said death is very vague, so who knows?  To find out what is going on with this love it or hate it Film, read on...
The Titles play out as a woman runs around bathed in red light and scared by stuff.

This...isn't part of the Film- at all.  It's just BS for the Title Sequence.  No, really.
The actual Story involves this woman watching over her sick Father.  He's unhappy.  She's awful.
His Doctor is good, but has a problem- he's being blackmailed.  A fellow Doctor has proof that he performed an Abortion some time in the recent past.

Another Film where I have to be reminded that this basic medical procedure was banned until the '70s- what are the odds?!?
The Daughter wants Dad dead and finds a way to do it.  She happens to take a drug to get high- leading to a psychedelic Sex Scene- that is good for causing heart attacks- what are the odds?!?
She confesses to the Doctor, who gets mad...but also needs $50,000 from her, so goes along with it.
The Will does not go in her favor as the money goes to the previously-unseen Sister.  She takes it poorly.
Now that the other Sister has the money, Doc goes after her.  His big plan- romantic date at the Renaissance Festival.  No, really.

To steal a bit from Rifftrax/MST3k...'Flirting at the Renaissance Festival- Blood Mania!!!'
Seeing them together drives the Sister even more crazy and that night- after the Nurse and Aunt leave-, she straight up kills her!

All of a sudden, blood appears in Blood Mania!
Doc comes over to find the body and...doesn't take it well.

Things get worse as the Blackmailer- who raped the Girlfriend is a Subplot I skipped- shows up with the body and...the End?  Just...the End?  Alright...I guess.
A surprisingly-dull and generic Film all things considered.  This Film really took 3 Writers?  Best I can guess, someone came up with the Ending bit of 'person paints with blood.'  Granted, H.G. Lewis did this first in 1965, but alright.  Another person- maybe our Lead- came up with the 'Doctor blackmailed and working with Daughter' thing.  I guess the 3rd guy had to take both ideas and stick them together like some sort of kid's Art Project gone awry.  Whoever named this Film gets the real credit- it is a great Title.  I wish that it was on a better Film.  To be fair, Blood Mania is *not* a Film that you'd ever put in the same category as Citizen Kane regardless of the Plot.  I really wish that I could recommend this one to more people.  The Soap Opera Plot is a bit cliché.  The fact that they keep almost setting up Sex Scenes- at least 3 times in the first 20 minutes- is another issue.  The fact that everyone is pretty much unlikable- save for the good Sister- is yet another issue.  If you come for the crazy name, lower your expectations.  This is from the same time that people turned a bad Spy Film into They Saved Hitler's Brain or turned a generic Film based on Charles Manson into Snuff.  There are enough moments of insanity snuck in here to make the more hardcore fan of this stuff happy though.  Plus, the Artist seemed to really capture this guy's ability to 'ugly cry'...
Next time, another Film with blood in the Title.  It has to be better and/or less deceitful, right?  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Zoned Out: The Comedian (2019)

After a long break for me and an even longer break between Revivals, this is back.  I might as well start at the beginning.
In this Pilot/Intro, Kamal here is a Comic who can't quite seem to get a laugh.  Here's a hint- don't do the same jokes if they don't ever work!
He meets a famous Comic who tells him to essentially mine his personal life for laughs.  It works...but at what price?
He learns that using people in his Act seems to affect reality itself!  I won't truly SPOIL how though.
Will he use this new power for good or for, well, less than good?
When his big moment comes, will he cross the line?  Will he lose himself to gain fame?

To find out, watch the Episode.  It's available on most Platforms, but the rest of the Show is on CBS All-Access- now not just for Star Trek and Big Bang Theory re-runs!
An interesting choice of Pilot/Opening Episode.  As far as I know, this is *not* a riff on a classic Episode.  Some of those are definitely coming.  In this case, I almost thought it was a new version of a Night Gallery Episode- a failed Comic is blessed/cursed to always be thought funny-, but it's not.  If I'm completely wrong- oh well.  In any event, this one is quite solid.  Kamal is an underrated Lead Actor and he carries this thing well.  He plays what feels like a pretty fleshed-out Character.  He wants to do good things.  He wants success.  He initially tries to stay on the right path, but those sweet sweet laughs are quite tempting!  In his defense, some measurable good does come from this.  Like anyone altering reality, however, his actions start to cause more problems than good.  As it is a Twilight Zone Episode, they don't feel the need to bother explaining why this works.  Do they have to?  Is that the most important part?  There's plenty of subtext to unpack here, so I'll leave that to the 2,003 YouTube Videos about that.  I'll just tell you that this Revival is starting off strong and I'm excited to see what this new face will do...
Next time, a new riff on a classic.  You'll feel even less safe flying than ever- yes, that is possible!  See you then...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Quick Reviews: Superman/Batman- Public Enemies

With so many Superhero Films coming out in April, it's important to remember the forgotten ones.  In this case, it's a DC Animated Film based on a popular Comic Arc from the 2000s...
In this outrageous Comic Book tale, a corrupt Businessman (Lex Luthor) gets elected President on empty promises and the fact that people ignore his past.

Funny joke- right?
He seems to do well and gets many heroes working for him- including Captain Atom and Power Girl.

Naturally, Superman is not convinced.
Things get dark as Superman is wounded and then framed for murder.  Will the bromance overcome these odds?
Adding to the conflict, we have a Meteor heading towards the Earth.  Oh and it's a chunk of Krypton.
Will the pair be able to save the day while also battling Heroes working for Luthor?
More importantly, will they be able to survive with all of the Villains coming for the $1 Billion Bounty on Superman?

To find out, watch the Film.
A fun, flashy and not-so-deep Film.  The Story its based on is mostly-the-same.  This was made at a weird time for DC Animated.  Basically, they wanted to make every big story into a Cartoon for a quick buck.  They were usually good, but there was almost no creativity- which is lie Bruce Timm left for a while.  This Film is a good example of why all that happened.  It's fun.  It's vibrant.  It's...just the Comic Book in Animated Form.  If you didn't read that Story and are watching this as a new thing in 2019, that may not be a big deal.  At the time, however, the Story was from 2003- only 6 years before this release.  It's a good Story, but...aren't there plenty of older Stories to do.  On top of that, they change very little.  They only really tweak the Ending a bit, but otherwise do it 'shot-for-shot' and nearly word-for-word.  I guess the idea was that the Venn Diagram of Comic Book Readers and Comic Book Animated Film Viewers was smaller than I thought- maybe.  In any event, this is an enjoyable hour-long romp that is fun, but nothing more.  On the plus side, it will introduce kids to the Host of Firing Line...
A fun, action-packed Story that is, to be fair, a little more shallow than it could be.  It's a great 'popcorn flick' though, so good on ya, Movie!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Lost in Translation: The Savage Bees (Part 2)

So much for getting to this quickly.

Yeah, I spaced out and forgot to post the second one right after the first one.  Fixing that now...

The Savage Bees is about, well, Bees.  Nature's Honey Farmer isn't scary by default, so let's see how they make it work...
Damn!

I'm scare of Bees now!!!

Here's the original Poster …
I had to give it a little 'oomph' with upping the contrast and colors.  I think that it's an improvement.

Friday, April 12, 2019

DCE-Hulu: Doom Patrol- 'Doom Patrol Patrol'

Another week and a weird adventure with the Doom Patrol.  Will this intentionally-redundant Title be worth it?
This Episode focuses on Elastigirl in the Flashbacks.  As such, we get such lovely stuff as her losing control and smothering a creepy Producer to death.  Joy.
In the Main Story, the group- or 3 of them to be exact- investigates the original Patrol.  What secret are they hiding and will it help them rescue the Chief?
In the B-Plot, Robotman and Cyborg try to (separately) bond with the latter's Dad.  Will this help them work together?
Back in the other Story, things start to get weird.  What's going on?  Will this help them save the Chief?

To find out, watch the Show.
A somewhat dour Episode, but still with some good craziness.  This one feels the most like a Titans Episode.  It's as if the people who made that Show so bleak were trying to worm their way into Production.  Here's hoping that this is not a sign of things to come.  The actual Stories are at least interesting.  It's nice to see them try to use some form of the original Doom Patrol- led by Mento- in this Universe, even if they are removing most of the core Members.  Where is Beast Boy?  This one also really pushes me to wonder why certain people don't seem to age at all.  Elastigirl is in her, what, 80s now?  If she has to constantly-struggle to keep her face up and not in goop, is she also somehow managing to pull the wrinkles and lines back too?  That doesn't even cover Crazy Jane or The Chief either.  For what it's worth, the B-Plot was a little bit stronger, if on the nose.  Incidentally, we are back to not using Mr. Nobody at all here, but still using Timothy Dalton.  How is he a Guest Star that just happens to be in 5 out of 6 Episodes so far?  Yes, I still find that weird, even though this Episode features Cops turned into Piñatas!  This feels *mostly* like a return to form after the odd 2-Parter, but I'm just worried that dour will overwhelm deliciously-weird here.  Here's hoping it won't!  In the meantime, I have another fake Google stand-in to add to my ever-growing collection...
Next time, more strange adventures.  I don't read ahead on these, so enjoy being in the dark on these too.  See you then...

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Quick Reviews: A Lure- Teenage Fight Club

Another Film in the 'Ultimate Horror Collection.' So far I've gotten boring Ghosts and generic Mountain Men.  Will things improve with *sigh* this one?
In the Cold Open, three Cheerleaders are kidnapped after they wander out into the Woods.

After that, this young Cop is pestered by her partner about breaking up with her boyfriend...before being sent undercover to figure out what happened to said girls.  Jump Street!
It's all about a Party tonight.  Due to Editing, it appears that this is her first day in School, although I *could* be wrong.

The Janitor switches their invites (with the address) with another one.  Dun dun dun!
After some padding and minor Character Development, they drive out to the Woods for a Party...as you do.  Is it safe?
Of course not!  They all get captured by weirdos who put them in Cages.  What is their big plan?
They make them fight each other in a crappy ring while...rich people watch them.  People apparently pay $5,000 a night for this- why?!?
Can any of them escape?  Can they stop the criminals?

To find out, watch the Movie (if you insist).
Considering I paid $1.99 for the whole Disc (with 5 Films), I guess this wasn't a complete rip-off.  The Film is...nothing special.  It looks cheap.  It feels cheap.  It is cheap.  Ironically, this is the same Film which says that rich people would pay $5,000 to watch teenage girls fight to the death.  This is the same Film that the Villain brags about making nearly A MILLION DOLLARS with this business.  Wait- is that how they funded this?  Was this a confession?!?  All kidding aside, the Acting is...so-so.  Nobody is really bad, but nobody is really stand-out.  It is mostly just an excuse to have woman shriek in peril- a lot!  If you took a shot every time one of them screamed/cried out, you'd die of alcohol poisoning in the first Hour!  It's a *bit* regressive, even if it is from 2010.  Yes, they do get their revenge on the men- mostly- but its still pretty exploitative.  I won't SPOIL the whole thing, but I do have to point out how they ruin the Ending for no reason.  Happy(ish) ending- fine.  Pointless add-on (that made me think that they just forgot to stop filming) which has the Lead appear topless and implies that she'll be killed- not fine.  It's just...why?  Why do this?  There's already lots of death, so adding a dour stinger to the end is just unnecessary.  This is basically a weird attempt to slap on the 'Heroine dies in the beginning of the next Slasher Film' trope to the end of the FIRST Film.  Why?  This Film was apparently going to just be called Lure, but the Distributors insisted upon the name change.  It makes this Credit especially funny then...
A pretty nothing Film that is just generic as hell.  If you like women screaming in terror though, it's for you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

TV Heroics: The Incredible Hulk Returns!

Don't make me dour- you won't like me when I'm dour.  This is The Incredible Hulk Returns, a 1988 TV Movie.  It's the start of the first *true* Superhero Film Trilogy (since Superman got one more Film).  The Show had been off-the-air for a while and Bixby was away from Acting due to personal issues.  In his return, he agreed to both help the Network AND set-up a future spin-off.  That Spin-off- The Mighty Thor!  That's right- this is a Backdoor Pilot- just not for the Lead.  It would be like if, for instance, American Dad wasn't originated as a Pilot.  Instead, in this example, Stan and Francine would guest-star in Family Guy's Road Trip and the Show would come from there.  Sadly, there was no Road Trip or Thor spin-off to be.  Maybe next time, Hulk.  In the meantime, you've got corporate espionage, Character Actors galore and two Heroes teaming up.  To find out how this memorable (not always for good reasons) Film plays out, read on...
Some vague time after the Show ended, Banner ended up in L.A. with a new lady, a new identity and a new job.
He's working for a big Tech Company and making a vague MacGuffin that will cure him (and also help humanity).
His attempt to test the procedure one night is interrupted by Donald Blake, a Med Student he once knew.  The man recognized him and wanted his help.
You see, he went on a failed expedition in Norway (as their Medic) and got his soul bound to the Almighty Thor!

In this Film, they are unique identities and he 'summons' Thor from the spirit realm.  Different, but...okay.  Kind of like Thor's realistic-to-the-time outfit- okay.
Naturally, they manage to 'make Banner mad' and the pair battle.  It's less exciting than I'm used to now, sadly.

Another note: this is a new Hulk wig.  It's larger to cover up Lou's hearing aid.  Thanks, IMDB!
The Reporter from the Series shows up after this incident and starts to look around, stressing out Banner.

Sadly, this is the Actor's last appearance in a Hulk vehicle as a Stroke put an end to his Acting Career for a while shortly after making this.
There's another Plot going on as one of Banner's Boss' (below left) is in need of money and makes a desperate deal to a criminal (below right) played by Tim Thomerson.

You know that he's evil in the '80s because he negotiates his deal while playing Racquetball!
After some conflicts (personal and literal), the pair unite (with Blake) to save the day.
Thor and Blake leave for their failed spin-off attempt and Banner leaves to protect the woman he loves, setting up the next one of these (seen here).

I guess I need to find and watch the final Film in the Trilogy now, huh?  The End.
A solid Film.  You have to consider a few things if you watch this in 2019 (or later).  First off, this was a TV Movie made in 1988.  There's no CGI (as it was super-expensive then).  The Special Effects are just above cheesy and that's sometimes being generous.  This is a TV Movie Budget, so no major stunts like you'll get on the 'big screen.'  That said, there are trade-offs.  This one relies very much on Practical Effects and, well, Lou Ferrigno is a good one!  Aside from sometimes-spotty make-up and an inconsistent wig, he's looking jacked and terrifying.  At WrestleMania 35 this weekend, Bobby Lashley (who's also quite jacked) was wearing green contact lenses- coincidence?  As for Thor, I was expecting to hate this portrayal a lot more.  It's still about as deep as a puddle, but Masterson does have a certain charm.  I can see how you would dislike the take on the character and the look- I just made peace with it pretty quickly.  The Film is still anchored by two things- a decent Story and good Character Actors.  Besides the ones I've mentioned, you also have Charles Napier, who was apparently so good that you could still respect him in a Film where the Monster was Ron Jeremy's disembodied penis!  He was also the 'voice' of the Hulk's growl- thanks again, IMDB.  If you know and love the Show, this won't disappoint.  If you only know the characters from the MCU, prepare to be disappointed in just how awesome they are.  In spite of that, it's a pretty easy Film to watch and enjoy.  Just for comparison, how do they look in the Modern Age...
Next time, I jump back to the '70s.  It was a different time- a bloodier time!  Stay tuned...