Casting Internets

I’ve been holding on to these links for WAY too long. Like, back to NYCC long, so let’s get these out and move on.

As I mentioned in a previous Casting, I’m writing for Spinoff Online now, you can check out all those posts here.

For CBR, I wrote a ton of stuff including this Commentary with Ron Marz and Filip Sablik about Artifacts Volume 2, the Image creator owned comics panel at NYCC, David Hine about taking over The Darkness, the NYCC announcement that Extreme Studios is coming back, Dark Horse‘s NYCC panel, Robert Kirkman’s Skybound panel and the McFarlane panel.

Speaking of CBR, I was in the room for this interview with Patton Oswalt and had to stifle myself from laughing too loud. It’s weird seeing video of a memory but from a different angle. That Roots bit at the end was genius.

My pal and brand new member of the CBR family Brett White wrote a killer column about new Ultimate Spider-Man Miles Morales. It’s been out for awhile, but I finally had a chance to read.

Speaking of Brett, check out his Tumblr now for the amazing sketches he got at NYCC. I am jealous of his ability to talk to artists. Dorkly‘s graphic of Fifteen People You’ll See At Every Con is pretty accurate. I’d add “Adventure Time Cross Dressers,” “Dead-Eyed Journalists” and “Skanky Costume Chicks” to the list. (via IHC)

Dan Trachtenberg of Totally Rad Show fame will be directing his first feature called Crime Of The Century. I know I don’t actually know him, but I feel like one of my pals has made good. (via /Film)Mondo’s Trick r Treat, The Burning and Sleepaway Camp posters look amazing. I’ll take one of each. (via /Film)

TLo wrote about the first episode of the second season of Work Of Art on Bravo which features Sucklord, a toy customizer/kitbasher who used to get covered in ToyFare all the time. It’s awesome to see him on TV and I think TLo’s take on his performance in the first ep was pretty spot on.

Conan O’Brien sold a sitcom to TBS called Fat Chance according to THR. Nuff said.

The possibility of a Cannonball Run remake by Guy Ritchie starring Brad Pitt and George Clooney is a remake I could get behind. (via /Film)

I can’t believe I just discovered Jay Mohr had been blogging about Real Housewives of New Jersey recently! I could have been enjoying this Bravo blog all season!

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Halloween Scene: The Perfect Host (2010) & Frozen (2010)

The key to a great horror movie is to either have such a tight plot that the audience doesn’t have any questions or to keep things moving along so fast that they don’t have time to ask questions. Neither of the new movies I watched today in my Halloween movie marathon that included Halloween III, Dawn Of The Dead, Evil Dead, Halloween and others), can say to have that quality, though that doesn’t mean they’re altogether bad flicks.

I don’t remember exactly where I saw a preview for The Perfect Host, but it looked intriguing. There’s so many twists in this movie that I don’t want to spoil much, so I’ll say that if you like psychological thrillers, this one might be up your alley. Even the trailer has spoilers so you’ve been warned. WE’RE IN SPOILER TERRITORY FROM HERE TO FROZEN. So, the trailer revealed that a guy who’s on the run after robbing a bank winds up breaking into a guy’s house (played by David Hyde Pierce). As it turns out DHP is something of a psycho and flips the script on the criminal, not just capturing him, but throwing a party in his presence/honor. This turns out to be the case in the movie, though we don’t get to that point for about 20-30 minutes which kills a lot of the tension that’s supposed to build when the criminal is trying to convince DHP he’s someone he’s not. We already know from the trailer that he’s a bad guy too, so either don’t put that in the trailer or get to the point a little faster.

But, as I said, that’s not the only twist and this flick has more of them than a pretzel factory. As it turns out, DHP isn’t really having a party, he’s just nuts. The party scenes are all in his head, meaning he’s doing all these actions while the criminal just looks on and waits for death. Apparently, DHP has these “parties” on a regular basis with a set schedule and everything, leading up to the victim’s eventual death. So, there’s you’re source of tension, right? Well, not so much because DHP plays the part pretty wackily. Had he been less over the top about everything, he’d seem like more of a threat. But maybe that’s how it’s supposed to land because in yet another twist, the criminal gains his freedom through a game of chess, until he gives DHP shit and winds up getting knocked out. Cut to the next morning when DHP looks pretty satisfied and puts a picture of the dead criminal in his scrapbook. But that can’t be the end, right? We’ve seen too many twists already, plus this supposedly clever psycho just left the criminal out in the garbage seemingly in front of his house. It’s all a ruse! Well, just the death part as DHP used make up to make it look like the criminal was dead.

And the surprises don’t stop there as it turns out the DHP is actually a cop! A WHA?! Now, I didn’t see that one coming, but nothing was really surprising at this point because everything was supposed to be surprising, you know? Besides, I doubt whether someone with the clear psychological problems of DHP’s character (he has all these fake people writing him post cards that he himself writes, not to mention all the phantom party guests) could hack it as a cop, especially a detective or whatever he’s supposed to be. There’s more twists after that involving why the criminal committed the robbery in the first place and DHP’s secret possibly getting revealed to his fellow cops, but by that point I was kind of just waiting for the movie to be over. I was too questionable about the details and then started looking hard at things and they started falling apart for me. It’s too bad, too, because I think DHP could have had a really impressive performance here if he had played it a little tighter (or the director had told him to do so).

So, I guess the lessons learned from The Perfect Host are to give less away in the trailer, keep the performances in check and ease up on the supposedly shocking twists because they tire/bore your audience after a while.

Frozen suffered from entirely different problems in my opinion, though that opinion might have been unfairly elevated by the praise of some of my horror-loving friends. I had actually forgotten that it was written and directed by Hatchet and Hatchet II‘s Adam Green, which would have probably raised expectations even more. When I first heard the concept for this flick, I was immediately doubtful, a whole 90 minutes about three people stuck on a chair lift? It can’t be good. That’s a Twilight Zone/Tales From The Crypt episode. But people liked it.

The thing about Frozen is that, even for it’s change in scenery and odd locale, it’s basically a slasher movie and thus follows all of those conventions. You’ve got a group of kids making a stupid decision (begging a guy they bribed who clearly doesn’t give a shit about anything, to let them go on one last run down a ski mountain), making more stupid decisions and then the killer either getting them or not. In this case, the killer is wolves. And, of course, there’s a SPOILER final girl who winds up having an ending like pretty much every horror female ever.

None of which is necessarily bad, but I had expected so much that I was waiting for it to transcend what was happening and it never did. The dialog between the characters was alright, but nothing amazing, though it’s hard to say if this is the fault of the writing or the performances. I also felt like some of the decisions they made were so stupid that I didn’t care so much anymore if they died or not (I don’t have these feelings in real life, but in horror movies where that’s the point, sometimes I just want to skip the crap and get to those scenes). But that only happens when I’m not engrossed and I didn’t find anything engrossing about this movie aside from the fact that people were getting hurt and that’s sad.

My main problems are SPOILERY, so be warned. I can buy that they want to make one last trip down the mountain even if it’s shockingly stupid. Most slasher movies hinge on something like this, so it’s a suspension of disbelief I’m okay with. My first problem was the terrible facsimiles of New England accents. I actually didn’t realize at first that the movie was supposed to be set there and had I not met my wife, I wouldn’t know the difference, but I did and these are the worst NE accents I’ve heard in a long time. Related to that is the fact that the movie is filled with wolves, which I 1) don’t believe exist in NE and 2) think would be somehow kept away from a ski mountain, even one that’s been closed down for the week. I also have a problem with the idea that a ski resort wouldn’t check it’s lifts and property better, but that’s just me. I might be wrong about all these things, but they bugged me and like I said above, when things bug me about a movie, it knocks me right out of the story. I also think that the first guy that jumped down should have attached his board to distribute the weight of the fall, but not everyone’s a genius.

At the end of the day it was a mostly well put together movie with some really good special effects which was a surprise given the film’s setting. It’s mostly tight and attempts to build character, but it’s in a really familiar and obvious way (two buddies, one has a girlfriend, you can imagine a good portion of the dynamics there). It just didn’t grab me because there were too many elements that didn’t feel or seem right. I could be wrong about everything that seemed off and very well might be, but it was all too distracting for me to ever really get engrossed in the proceedings.

Halloween Scene: Losing Power & A Bit Of My Mind

Sometimes, I think I’ve seen too many horror movies. In case you don’t read my dad blog called Pop Poppa (or haven’t read my latest post over there yet), we lost power for about 28 hours this weekend thanks to an unseasonably early snow storm. The amount of snow fall was one thing, but the real problem came from all the trees still packed with leaves that got frozen and cracked from the trees causing all kinds of electrical problems. It went out around 5:00PM on Saturday and kicked back on around 8:20PM on Sunday, so it wasn’t the longest we’ve ever been without power (that would be 72 hours), but it was taxing, especially with the baby (though she seemed to handle it well).

Saturday night, I got a little paranoid. See, it wasn’t just that we lost power, something we were ready for thanks to a hefty supply of candles, flashlights, headlamps and touchlights, but the fact that our cell phones weren’t really working. I figured it had something to do with everyone trying to use their phones to make calls or go online, but it still gave me the heebie jeebies. I mentioned something along those lines to my wife who laughed at me and said we were not in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. No duh, zombies wouldn’t me much good in the snow, I said, but I was thinking more of an attack. I know it’s paranoid, but wouldn’t a storm be the perfect time to attack? Power lines down, communications interrupted-at-best and natural cover. Yeah, it’s crazy, but the idea ran through my head.

It didn’t last though and I slept fine that night. I didn’t have another scare until the power kicked back on at 8:20PM. I’ve been reading Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box which I will hopefully finish and write about soon and was doing so when the power kicked back in. We had turned most of the lights off and unplugged the TV and a few other things for fear of a power surge, so the way I realized the power was back–while reading the scariest book I’ve read in a long time–was by the shredder and printer kicking on at the exact same time. Earlier in the day, I had put a letter in the shredder, forgetting the power was out, so when it came on, it started shredding. Meanwhile, the printer does this thing where it makes noise at random times anyway, so the combination of the two really gave me a jump. I was excited that we had power again, but in kind of a terrified way. I guess that’s how Halloween should be!

Halloween Scene: Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Like a lot of people, Jaws is one of my favorite movies. As such, it is the standard by which I measure all over shark and water-based monster movies. This attitude has kept me away from a lot of movies of this ilk. But, you know what? That’s not really fair, is it? Halloween’s another favorite movie, but that hasn’t kept me away from slasher flicks, so why does liking Jaws make me not want to see shark movies? The obvious reason is that, if you can’t top the best, why bother? It’s a valid argument, but one that’s been keeping me away from a good movie like Deep Blue Sea. Another problem is that I’ve seen so many straight-up lifts of the Jaws plot, that I go into movies like DBS expecting them. Lastly, since Jaws was a widely accepted classic almost immediately, I think a lot of people with good underwater monster stories might have shied away. This is good because they would have been compared, but bad because it means the sub-genre is mostly filled with one great movie, lots of copycats and the occasional gem.

DBS is one of those gems. It’s not near-perfection like Jaws, but it’s a fun movie with a great cast, some alright effects and a plot that combines elements of Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure and your basic mad scientist flick. See, there’s this research facility out in the ocean that’s doing tests on sharks that will somehow help people. While doing the experiments, one of the doctors did a few things she wasn’t supposed to and now the sharks are super smart. They then start attacking the facility, killing a large number of the scientists and people there.

So, you’ve got the threat of not just sharks which are scary enough on their own, but super smart sharks with emotions and what not. Plus, you’ve got a mostly underwater locale which means there are plenty of scenes that made movies like Poseidon Adventure or The Abyss so creepy to me personally (I have a an unnatural fear of things that shouldn’t be under water, being under water). Plus, the cast include Sam Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saffron Burrows, LL Cool J, Thomas Jane and more. There’s also quite a few winking nods to Jaws that let you know that director Renny Harlin knows the comparisons are being made. The first shark we see has a license plate in his mouth and the comparisons don’t stop there. I didn’t notice it on my own by SPOILER the sharks actually die in the same way that the sharks in the first three Jaws flicks die. Nice touch.

Another nice touch is the above closing credits song. I’m a big fan of horror movies (any movie really) that include a song at the end that’s actually related to/written for the movie. Sure it’s corny, but I guess I’m a little corny too. At the end of the day, I’d have to agree with a quick description I just read on YouTube while looking for this clip, it’s the second best shark movie I’ve seen. Now, I’ve heard that The Reef and that other movie where divers are abandoned at sea (can’t think of the darn name) are good too, but my Jaws-bias got in the way.

Halloween Scene: C.H.U.D. (1984)

C.H.U.D.‘s one of those movies that I seem to have always been aware of. I remember seeing the VHS box while roaming the video store with my parents well before I actually got interested in horror. I remember seeing it on horror lists when I did get interested and also hearing the movie mentioned in Kevin Smith movies or maybe by the writer/director himself. But, I never saw it. I figured the movie was goofy because of the title and didn’t get around to seeing it until today.

So, I was pretty surprised when I started watching on Netflix Instant and the movie was actually pretty serious. Not overly serious and not taking itself too seriously, but this is not a corny movie. It’s about Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers who live under New York City. The government is trying to cover it all up, but a photographer and a guy who runs a homeless shelter find out about them. As it turns out, the creatures are the result of an nuclear organization dumping waste in supposedly abandoned sewers and tunnels under the city. Some of the homeless people who live down there mutated and then fed off of their fellow homeless. With their food supply getting eaten up, the C.H.U.D.s soon take to the streets wreaking havoc.

It’s an interesting, though far fetched plot, that’s well executed by the cast and crew. John Heard plays the photographer and a young Daniel Stern the shelter guy. There’s also a cop who I could have sword was a young Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation, but was not. They take their time to reveal the monsters and build some tension both personal and on a larger scale, keeping the monsters out of the movie until the last third or so.

And that’s kind of where the problem lies, the monsters. The design was pretty good, but you can see where the head piece attached to the body suit and I just couldn’t get past the yellow glowing eyes. It’s cool when they’re in the dark, but when it’s bright out, it just looks silly. But, I don’t hold that against them too much. Like I said, the movie’s pretty good and I’m also a sucker for any horror movie set in NYC, so I can forgive some less than great creature suits in favor of an overall solid flick.

Real World Watcher San Diego Episode 5 “Over The Rainbow”

A lot can be said about Zach after tonight’s episode of Real World San Diego. He’s a bigot. He’s hateful. He’s potentially violent. He’s rude. He’s selfish. He’s a bully. He reacts in an over the top manner. He doesn’t care about other peoples’ feelings. I don’t know if I agree with all of those points (mostly the bigoted one, though I can see where that idea could come from). I do know that he made me really angry today for his close-mindedness, which is only made worse by the fact that the blonde girl–whose name I honestly had forgotten because she’s less a person and more a pair of short shorts hanging on his every word–gives him someone to pair up with and run away with. More on this if you hit the jump! Continue reading Real World Watcher San Diego Episode 5 “Over The Rainbow”

Halloween Scene: The Thing From Another World Miniseries

In an unexpected twist of fate today, I paused The Thing to use the bathroom (too much information?). As I tend to do, I wanted something to read, so I started flipping through my to-read pile and was looking at the rather gruesome cover to The Thing From Another World #1. A few months back, I went to a small, but awesome hotel ballroom comic show and bought it and its counterpart on the cheap.

I didn’t even know what the book was. An adaptation of the movie John Carpenter based his version of The Thing on? That would make sense, right? Well, that’s not the case. These two issues actually form a follow-up to Carpenter’s movie, picking up a few beats after the end of the film.

And that’s kind of the problem. I mean, it’s cool to continue the story and I’m not one of those people who feels like source material is ruined by something that comes after the fact, but one of the coolest parts of Carpenter’s film is that “Why don’t we just wait here and see what happens” ending. What’s going to happen?! Well, this comic tells you and it’s not really as interesting as whatever the ending you envisioned in your head.

Don’t get me wrong, the story in these two issues isn’t bad by any means, but it’s not really necessary. MacReady wakes up and Childs has dragged him out into the ice. Then a boat comes and saves MacReady who almost immediately steals a helicopter and winds up crashing back near the outpost from the first movie. Here, a team of military people attack MacReady after seeing him torch all the corpses from the movie.

Of course, the thing has infiltrated the group and kills all but one of them. They then wind up back with Childs and yet another group of people. There’s a test like in the movie and then blammo, things get insane and the movie ends on a submarine!

As you might be able to assume from the description, writer Chuck Pfarrer packed an awful lot into two issues. What’s the point of putting MacReady on the boat if he’s just going to go right back to the station? Why waste all those panels and pages on something that’s not really important? Turns out Pfarrer is a screenwriter, so maybe he wasn’t thinking about the economy of the page. Who knows.

The book also suffers from some muddy artwork by John Higgins that gets especially difficult to follow towards the end when the action really ramps up. It’s not easy keeping track of all the characters or the action. Pretty much everything that happens on the submarine left me scratching my head.

I feel like this review came off more negative than I wanted it to. As a potential, possible continuation of one of the greatest movies of all time, it’s interesting. There’s some cool ideas in there and Pfarrer captured MacReady’s voice really well, it just felt rushed.