Halloween Scene: Happy Halloween!!!

What’s up Halloween Sceners, hopefully everyone’s getting pumped for Halloween Night. I will not be reading or watching any horror related material tonight because I’m heading to a superhero themed costume party. If you just There’s even going to be a band! It’ll be like a high school movie. I haven’t gotten fully dressed yet, but here’s a quick look at part of my costume:

If you can’t figure it out based on that, you’re definitely not a DC Comics fan, but that’s okay.

Also, around 4:30PM today we saw some kids rolling up to our condo complex not wearing costumes and obnoxiously ringing the doorbell and knocking over and over. So, I decided not to give them candy. When I went out to get beer, I found this in my door handle:

Jesus candy is the best candy.

And finally, I saw this Halloween store yesterday in the mall and plan on suing them:

Now get out there and cause some trouble!

Halloween Scene: Even More Star Wars Today Show Goodness

Apparently before I woke up the Ewoks were getting pretty frisky (and possibly drunk) on The Today Show, which features even more hosts in Star Wars costumes. Enjoy this clip from the show which shows them fighting, dancing, drinking and humping.

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Halloween Scene: Backwoods (2008)

To say I was apprehensive about watching Backwoods would be an understatement. What you can’t see is that that boards you see on the box to the side is actually a slip cover that reveals this huge mountain of a man holding Haylie Duff. That combined with the fact that I had never heard of the movie and that watching a Deliverance/Hills Have Eyes-like movie doesn’t get me very excited, left the Backwoods DVD I was given when I still worked at Wizard on my “to watch” pile for quite a while. I popped it on last night, promptly fell asleep and started it back up today and I was pleasantly surprised.

I would guess that your enjoyment of this movie will directly correlate with how many of these kinds of movies you’ve seen. Like I said, these aren’t really my thing, so I tend to avoid them, which means I wasn’t comparing it too much. The plot focuses on this group of employees from a video game company going on a company paintball retreat. They stop somewhere and, because one of the guys is wearing an FBI hat, the redneck proprietor directs them to an off-the-map location where they start getting attacked by people in the woods. As it turns out, the people in the woods are part of a cult-like group that is really into God and has taken over a military base (or were they actually in the military? I’m not sure if it’s ever explained). They usually kill the men and keep the women as breeding stock to keep their little society going. The dummy who thought they were all actually part of the FBI told the leader of the cult, so he’s operating under the assumption that that is the truth. Soon enough our heroes are on the run, trying to escape.

There were several times in the movie where I thought things were going to completely slow down and get boring, but luckily that never happened. See the paintball people are broken up into two teams. One team (Team Canon Fodder) gets taken out pretty quickly, so I was thinking “Well, there goes the potential for cool deaths throughout the movie.” But it turns out some were captured, not killed which allows for a much more interesting second half.

And speaking of the cast, they all did a pretty great job. Haylie is definitely my favorite of the Duff clan and our hero turns out to be Ryan Merriman who was in Final Destination 3 and played young Jarod in The Pretender. You’ve got your regular dickish guy, the girl who can’t stop screaming and the head of the backwoods folk who is all about God and military. The most surprising member of the cast to me was Deborah Van Valkenburgh as Mother Ruth, the woman who runs this whole messed up operation. Turns out she was Mercy in The Warriors! And wow, what a difference almost 30 years can make.

I want to jump into some major SPOILER territory right now because I do take issue with the end. See, you’ve got your usual showdown where the good guy takes out the bad guys. He’s facing down the big bruiser, the main guy and another guy. He easily shoots the other guy, then plugs the big guy a couple times and then the old guy drives his car into another car before our hero shoots him in the head. Now, here’s the thing. Why doesn’t he go over to shoot the giant guy in the head a couple times. Instead, we get a post script where the hero wakes up to the FBI telling him they only found two corpses. Then we see the FBI raiding the facility the backwoods people lived in and it’s almost empty (which is weird because there were a ton of people there before and not all of them were killed, like the kids) only to see the one female officer get killed by the giant before the credits come up. See, I don’t mind abrupt endings like this, but what the hell does it mean? Are we supposed to think that they giant killed all of the guys in the FBI unit? That he was taken down after this? It’s annoying sequel-bait that bugs me, even though I’m actually working on a story right now that picks up where a movie like this or Texas Chainsaw Masacre ends. Anyone interested, let me know!

Halloween Scene: Star Wars On The Today Show???

You know how sometimes you go to bed a little tipsy and wonder if you’re still drunk when you wake up? And then sometimes you turn on the TV and you see two women dressed up as Yoda and C-3PO on the Today Show and you’re almost 100% sure you must still be drunk or at least dreaming? That happened today, but I’m definitely not even hungover. I have no idea why, but the last hour of Today, which is hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford (3PO) and Hoda Kotb (the giant Yoda), had a number of people dressed up as characters from the Star Wars Universe like Chewbacca, a couple of Ewoks and a ton of Storm- and Clone Troopers. I have yet to figure out how to hook my computer up to my TV to get actual screencaps, so I had to make due with my phone. I think you get the idea. I even accidentally caught some of the pre-commercial animation on the screen like the Millenium Falcon and TIE Fighter stuff you can see after the jump.

Ad It Up: Streets Of Rage (1992)

Holy crap. Is there any more evidence as to how far we’ve come as video game players than this 17-year-old ad for the original Streets Of Rage for the Sega Genesis? I don’t normally feel old, but when I think about how much I used to play Streets of Rage 2 and 3, this makes me feel it in my bones. And also, the whole 17-year-old thing. I can feel the creek in my thumbs like a storm’s rolling in. Anyway, the game series that would eventually go on to star a kangaroo and a kid sport rollerblades started off as this incredible lame ad in comics like Brave And The Bold Green Arrow, The Question & The Butcher #2 in 1992. I’m sure people remember the game much more than the comic, but just look at how poorly they advertised this game. “Choose from a shocking amount of socks and belts”? What the hell does that even mean? That doesn’t make me want to kill 2,000 of the exact same bad guy and then 500 of one that is fat and has a baseball theme. Thank God, Sega go their shit straight and went for what the kids really want, the aforementioned kangaroo and kid on rollerblades. Whew!

Halloween Scene: Crimson (1998-2001)

Along with Battle Chasers and Danger Girl, the third comic to bow from WildStorm’s Cliffhanger imprint was none other than Crimson, a vampire saga written by Brian Augustyn and drawn by none other than Humberto Ramos. I know Battle Chasers and Danger Girl were the big titles coming out of Cliffhanger, but Crimson was the one I glommed onto. I read the first few issues of DG, but couldn’t afford to keep up with that and all my other books, so I dropped it. I believe I read every issue of Crimson, but getting to the end of the fourth volume and the end of the story, I didn’t remember as much.

The basic story is that this teenager Alex is driving through Central Park with his friends when a vampire gang attacks. His friends get killed and Alex gets turned. He becomes a vampire, an ancient being named Ekimus tells him he’s the chosen one and he makes friends with a Mexican vampire named Joe. From there things get even crazier. For a full-on crazy review, hit the jump.

The first trade focuses on Alex adjusting to his new life. He’s got to give up his family and his girlfriend gets caught up in his new life. He gets vengeance on the vampires who turned him. We also meet a young woman named Scarlet who s part of a group called the Red Hoods which hunt down vampires, werewolves, demons and other monsters. We’re also introduced to Senator Van Fleet, another vampire who employs Alex’s dad and a cop who turns out to be the reincarnation of St. George the Dragon Slayer.

The next volumes broaden the spectrum of the story, by introducing all kinds of religious and mythological characters. The Christian idea of God comes into play, there’s angels, werewolves, Templar knights, Eden, the queen of the vampires and dragons.

Looking back, I think Crimson might have been the first limited series I ever read. Everything else I was reading at the time was ongoing superhero stuff. Seeing as how the neverending superhero idea is what I was used to, I don’t think I was prepared for how crazy Crimson got so fast. By the end of the second year, you’ve got all these ideas about Alex being the chosen one, defending the trod-upon demons and monsters of the world and fighting against the Church’s assassins. Soon enough, you’ve got dragons overrunning New York City and Lisseth, mother of all vampires, trying to destroy all living things so that neither heaven nor hell will have anything to rule over.

I’m a bit conflicted on how to review this series. I really liked reading it, but there’s a lot of nostalgia behind it. The dialogue slips way into Silver Age “let’s explain EVERYTHING we’re doing and recap EVERYTHING that came before in the book” which can come off as tired and stale. It’s annoying, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me. There’s also echoes of Buffy, but the two things were kind of happening at the same time. There aren’t even that many crossovers or references to Buffy (you do get X-Files, Friends and NYPD Blue references though in the issues), but it’s hard to think of any late-90s vampire without thinking of Buffy. Consider this Buffy if it was starring a teenage vampire and done by the BBC with a lot more religion involved.

Also, the originality of this book depends on what you’ve read coming in. See, for me, this was the first piece of fiction that addressed the Knights Templar, the idea of multiple chosen ones living at the same time (I got really sick of the chosen one concept eventually) and especially the idea that agents of the Church were actually persecuting innocent demons who weren’t hurting anyone. To me, at the time, these were all very novel concepts. Now, I feel like I’ve seen all of them thanks to watching hundreds of freaking horror movies and reading my fair share of limited series comics.

Having read all of this one a relatively brief sitting, I will definitely say that I enjoyed Crimson as a whole. While Augustyn’s writing got tedious at times, Ramos’ art stayed amazing throughout the entire series. And think about this, not only do you get to see regular doses of vampire, but also werewolf, dragons, angels, demons and even an alien or two (in crowd shots). I haven’t read a ton of Ramos’ comics, but I freaking loved what he did on these books (though I wish the borders would have been a little interesting than just solid colors, but whatever). For horror fans, the way the blood is penciled, inked and colored is proabably the best I’ve ever seen in any comic book. I have no idea how easy it is to get these trades. I got them on Sequential Swap, though there was nothing easy about that. Plus, just check out the cool designs for the trades. Even though I usually like some kind of uniformity in my trade designs, I like how amazingly different these covers were designed. You’ll just have to wait for someone else to scan the backs or buy your own to see how the themes were continued on the back.

So, if you’re looking for a vampire story without sparkles or too much relationship drama, then you should do what you can to dig up Crimson issues or trades. Danger Girl kind of trailed off and I don’t think Battle Chasers ever ended, so I think Crimson is your best bet when it comes from the world of Cliffhanger, though I would love to read some of Chris Bachalo’s Steampunk. I even followed him on to Out There, but I have no idea if that book ever ended because I was in college at the time and reading my books in awkward bursts. Give it a shot if you’re game, if nothing else, the art is of the highest quality throughout!

The Ruins Rundown

Hey faithful readers, sorry I didn’t post yesterday about The Ruins, I just barely got the Dexter Season 2 Halloween Scene up in time before heading to bed. I haven’t scored a new job, so don’t start too much fanfare, I’ve actually been babysitting the last couple days and it’s going really well. Who would have thought watching a kid would be so tiring (moms and dads, that’s who). Anyway, last night’s The Ruins, wasn’t quite as crazy as the previous week’s (I wonder if they’re doing it on purpose at this point), but a lot of stuff went on that could change the game from here on out. This is a fairly long one, so hit the jump for the details and some pictures (guess who just discovered that MTV puts images up after each episode on the Ruins mini site).

We started off with a recap and update as to how crazy the love quadrilateral is between Wes, Johanna, KellyAnne and Cohutta, which came to a pretty surprising head this episode. See Wes and Johanna were engaged and KellyAnne and Cohutta dated during Real World Sydney and after (I just realized thanks to Wikipedia that Dunbar was on that same season and you never see them talk). Now Wes and KellyAnne are dating and Wes thinks Cohutta’s getting a little frisky around KA when he’s drunk. The funny thing is that there’s zero footage shown to support it, so either Wes is full of it or MTV didn’t want to to back it up.

All of this might just seem like background info, but it all comes into play this episode because…well, I’ll get to that in a minute. The main challenge was a weird one. First you had to pull the other team’s people off of a giant pole and then once that was done, you built something out of cinder blocks. Like I said, weird. The Champions won it because Evan (who is apparently Canadian, I know this because they made a huge deal out of it this episode) held on to that pole while the others built the thing.

So, with the ability to choose who was going to go in, the Champions went in to deliberate. Before that, a bunch of the girls were talking and “decided” to send Veronica in against KellyAnne. Here’s the reason that was stupid. I understand wanting to get rid of Veronica. One, the girls don’t like here and two, if she’s gone the means the money gets split between fewer people. However, it would be better for your team to send in someone who could actually take KellyAnne out instead of boosting her ego. See KA is strong and most of the girls on the Champions team are weak, the longer she’s around the more likely the Challengers will win more missions which will take money out of your pockets. Duh.

During the deliberation, Wes volunteered to go in instead of Evan and Kenny who were also on the block (which is funny because those dudes have done nothing spectacular at all this season) and decided to take Cahutta on because he was sweet on his girl. Then it’s up to the girls, but they haven’t decided on the girls so TJ Lavin comes in and takes a vote. It splits right down the middle between Veronica vs. Kimberly and Veronica vs. KA. So, in an unprecedented move, TJ brought in the entire team to vote. The kicker was that they couldn’t talk about it at all and the previous votes didn’t count. Cyrus was the first person to talk and for whatever reason he chose Ibis vs. Kimberly! I guess you ladies should keep everyone in the loop on your crazy plans. After that, pretty much everyone went along with Cy and in a crazy twist, Ibis (who also hasn’t done anything impressive the whole game) ended up going in against Kim.

The Ruins challenge involved unraveling a giant rope and jumping over a bunch of logs. In a crazy upset, Cohutta took out Wes, which brought about interview comments from Kenny about how he was glad to see Wes go. Here’s the thing Kenny, with your resident whipping boy gone, that means you and your stupid cronies will be next in line and might actually prove you inflated sense of placement.

Then the ladies were up and Kimberly whupped Ibis’s ass. Like hardcore. It was interesting. After Ibis got blindsided with getting thrown in, she was talking with a bunch of the girls about how when she comes back she’s going to change things. Heh, nope. Also, it was interesting because they didn’t show Kimberly responded to the news at all. Maybe because she went into the Ruins and killed it.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this and I can’t remember if it happened before or after the Ruins, but Johnny Bananas was getting loud again and pissing people off. Even Susie, who regular readers know I’ve been hating this season, said that Johnny was the bane of her existence. Things ended with him putting an X over his mouth and saying he wouldn’t talk again. If the preview for the next episode is any indicator, not only is that total BS, but it looks like Johnny might be getting into a brawl or, more likely, getting tossed to the wolves after pissing too many people off. That would continue the crazy drama week, then less crazy drama week pattern. Can’t wait.

Halloween Scene: Dexter Season 2 (2007)

After burning through the first season of Dexter, I went through the second even quicker. Going in, I didn’t have super high hopes because Rickey told me the characters got on his nerves. On the other hand, I got about six comments on Facebook from people telling me how excited they were for me to jump into the second season. I completely loved it. The characters that I was getting a little tired of like Doakes and Laguerta both still bothered me, but they had such different character arcs this season over last that they didn’t really bother me as much. I also loved Deb’s arc which took her from scared former victim to strong woman, from someone looking for a quick bone to someone looking for a real relationship.

And of course, you’ve got this season’s overall plot which focused on Dexter’s at-sea dumping area getting discovered and a big search for the identity of the Bay Harbor Butcher. Wow. This thing was tense, wasn’t it? I really wasn’t sure how he was going to get out of it, even when Dex was convinced. I also loved him bouncing between women and how drug user’s anonymous allowed him to talk about his murder addiction out in the open. And, of course, you’ve got the further mysteries behind his adopted father’s life and death. I was hooked by all that stuff.

I really can’t say enough good things about this show and I feel like the hour-ish long format and 12 episode seasons fits just perfectly. And, unlike say Weeds, which is a show I’ve grown to hate, I feel like the Dexter seasons are really well played out and all the beats make logical sense, unlike Weeds with all of the “what would be the one way that this thing could work out and we’ll never talk about it again?” storytelling style.

Oh, also, I loved Keith Carradine as Agent Lundy. I don’t have a lot of experience with the dude, but his voice was driving me crazy. He sounded SO familiar. Then I looked him up and it turns out that he’s David Carradine’s half brother and he sounds EXACTLY like Bill from Kill Bill. It’s crazy.

I was just about to jump into Dexter Season 3 on NetBox, but, unfortunately, it’s not on there, so I’ll have to get the discs. Gah, that will take forever!!!

Halloween Scene: Jack Frost (1996)

After being bored with Terror Train and Funhouse, I knew I was going to have a good time with Jack Frost. And I knew this because it might be the horror movie I’ve watched the most. See, while older horror fans came up with a myriad of Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels, I was enjoying Scream and Jack Frost. I’m not 100% on the details, but I think I saw that crazy lenticular box at the video store and rented it. Then, when HBO did one of those free weekends, I taped it.

The plot follows a serial killer called Jack Frost who gets in an accident while being transported to his execution. His genes mix with the experimental genetic material in the oncoming truck and the snow which turns him into Jack Frost the killer snowman. So he heads back to Snowmonton, the town where he got busted by small town cop Sam. Now Jack is wreaking havoc while Sam, a government agent and a scientist try to put a stop to it.

As a teenager just getting into horror, this movie was perfect. You’ve got a villain who’s funny, but very scary in theory (how do you stop water?), some really creative POV shots, a ton of great kills and all kinds of humor. And it’s a great kind of humor because it’s very dark. Watching it again after a few years, I can also appreciate that the dark humor isn’t solely based on horror tropes. Yes, you get some of those, but then there’s just great throwaway lines like just before Jack gets splashed with the genetic goo and he says something like “This is gonna hurt.” I’m also not exactly sure if the story is supposed to be a joke all around (I would guess so), so the gaps in logic can either be read as funny or lame. I read them as funny. It’s a lot like Dance Of The Dead in that respect.

I was also impressed with the acting. Yes, the special effects look very homemade at times, but I thought the acting was spot on and realistic. And, as you may or may not know, one of those good actors is Shannon Elizabeth in her very first movie. Her character definitely falls into the logical gap I mentioned before (she wants to go out and party after her brother dies), but I took it as satire. She also takes part in the infamous carrot bathtub scene which is…weird to say the least. If you haven’t gotten enough Jack Frost goodness, hit the jump for my live blog of Jack Frost and tons of screencaps!

*Woah, I do not remember this weird voice over opening. This is super annoying. And not appropriate at all to tell a kid.

*Showing the credits as actual Christmas ornaments is very creative.

*Woah, I forgot Shannon Elizabeth was in this. Is she the carrot girl?

*”State Executional Transfer Vehicle” written on the side of the van transporting Jack? Seems like a highly specific vehicle, that county must have a ton of money.

*Haha, Snowmonton, that’s almost as good of a town name as Nilbog.

*Jack’s penchant for looking at the camera and tossing out one liners is pretty epic.

*Oh no, the Genetic Research truck flipped over. Too bad this isn’t a Marvel comic, otherwise, Jack would be moments away from turning into a superhero.

*The shots of Jack melting are pretty great, but the shots of the cop watching him are even better. He looks like he’s trying to do a Magic Eye from a few feet away.

*Yes! Animated DNA/snow sequence. As if you couldn’t understand what was happening.

*Now we’re introduced to our hero Sam, the guy who nabbed Jack and swore revenge.

*How had his son not heard about Jack Frost? Word like that spreads like crazy in a small town school.

*It looks like his son literally made him poop with marshmallows for breakfast. They’re actually oats and they’ll come into play later.

*Are those supposed to be real snowmen? How are they supposed to last till Saturday?

*Shannon Elizabeth is super hot in this.

*Haha, what the heck is this guy going to put that giant ornament on? He looks so happy about it too!

*Sam asks “What’s the matter, somebody die?” Then the secretary shows him the note “Somebody died.” Good stuff.

*Ah yes, the creepy “behind the dead, frozen guy in a still-rocking rocking chair shot. “Take your foot of the chair.” Damn this movie’s funny.

*Haha, the country store owner was also in Lost Highway!

*”It wasn’t meant to happen like this!” The scientist guys says they hadn’t even tested an acid on an amoeba, but why were they transporting an entire trunk of the stuff anywhere? Don’t scientists usually do experiments with a small amount of things?

*I like that the coroner actually knows his shit. This was even before CSI!

*The sound of Jack dragging himself is awesome.

*They probably should have filmed this movie somewhere where there might actually be real snow.

*How did those men find out about the killing so quickly? Sam JUST got back.

*Sam’s kid needs a freaking puppet to figure out where the coal and carrots go on a snowman? Yet, this isn’t the stupidest thing he does in the movie.

*Why does that bully talk with such a stupid accent?

*Also, why would you want to go on “black ice sled run” on flat ground?

*Yes! Decapitation! That’s what happens when you mess with Jack Frost! Why would their runners be so sharp?

*”He’s usually not so short tempered.” the dead boy’s mother says. Lady, your son just died, get emotional.

*Sam’s kid is old enough to know that telling anyone “the snowman did it” probably won’t make any sense.

*The acting in this movie is surprisingly strong.

*Woah, it was Shannon Elizabeth’s brother who died. “The lord forsook this house long ago.” – Shannon. That was intense.

*Screw physics, I love that Jack shoves the axe down Billy’s dad’s throat.

*Haha, Jack took the time to put the lights on the tree just to lure Billy’s mom into death.

*This goes to show how much of a bastard Jack is. Not only does he frame Sam’s kid for murder, but he also decides to off an entire family after killing their kid.

*Gotta love the meanness behind the death of Billy’s mom with her mouth stuffed with an ornament and her head smashed into the ornaments repeatedly.

*Yes! Another weird death POV shot, this time from inside the tree.

*ANOTHER cool POV shot: underneath the puddle.

*”F#cker’s a snowman!” – Paul

*”What the hell is eating him.” – one cop “I bet it’s not his girlfriend.” – the other cop

*Yeah! Jack Frost driving a cop car!

*The map of Snowmonton is hilariously basic.

*Shannon Elizabeth would rather break into the sheriff’s house to bone than mourn.

*The awkward winter strip down is hilarious (gloves, parkas, scarves, long johns).

*Now they’re stealing the sheriff’s wine? You never steal a man’s booze!

*Heh, the freezer just has a carrot sticking out of it and a TON of ice.

*”Who’s out there?” – Shannon’s boyfriend “Well, it ain’t f#cking Frosty!” – Jack

*Woah Jack can shoot icicles, forgot about that one.

*Yeah, she’s bathing in Jack. And there’s the carrot. Things are about to get…weird.

*Hey, where’s his carrot?

*”Looks like Christmas came a little early this year.” – Jack. Yeesh.

*You’re walled in, just tell Sam what’s going on!

*Haha, he’s shooting a puddle, but the floor isn’t getting damaged.

*I like that it’s the nerdy scientist who’s all “remember your orders to bring it back alive” and not the secret agent man.

*Yeah, hair dryer’s as guns, blowing him into the furnace.

*Hey, it’s not really over. That’s the brilliant thing about this character, you can’t really ever get rid of him because water can turn into steam, ice, etc. If it wasn’t so goofy, he’d be scarier than Freddy.

*Haha, Jack’s “frost bite” is awesome!

*Jack inside the scientist dude is pretty funny.

*Hey Sam’s son is a friggin psychopath, he put antifreeze in his dad’s food!!!

*Jack’s melted head looks surprisingly cool.

*Finally! A hero playing dead so the killer will stop strangling him, but it’s a trick!!!

*Gotta love the idea of killing the bad guy with a truck full of anti-freeze.

*Trusting the cap of a plastic bottle to be air tight is probably not the best idea in the world when dealing with a killer snow man, just saying guys.

*Now I just need to watch the sequel, which I’ve never seen. Giant pupper snowman on the beach? Score!