Do you like comics? Do you dig horror? Then you should be into at least a few of these comic-based horror movies — some of which became franchises! Did I miss anything major? Let me know in the comments!
If you’ve been along for the journey that has been It’s All Connected so far, you’ve probably come to the correct conclusion that I like some pretty weird movies. How else would one get from a horror comic book book adaptation by Wes Craven to a true oddity of an anthology starring an icon? As such, I got very excited a few years back when I realized that the already niche horror home media distributor Severin Films had an imprint called InterVision that focuses on even more out-there obscurities that they only put out on DVD. I grab these up whenever I see them, but the first I ever purchased was Dark Harvest, which also came with a Vincent Price picture from 1986 called Escapes. How could I not?
A few years back, I wrote for the Blumhouse website. It had been a while since I’d actually been paid to write about horror. I’d snuck as much of the genre into ToyFare when I had that kind of sway and done a few things for CBR before it turned into a soulless machine, but that was a minute ago, as the kids say. So, writing for Blumouse — which covered the whole genre, not just the films of that particular company — was a lot of fun. I did a piece on cool Predator merch and another on great Alien comics to check out.
I was even in the process of pitching a story about great horror-super hero crossovers when the whole site went sideways. Around then, I bought DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics: Justice League Volume 1. This was part of a series of books DC and DH were putting out at the time collecting their various crossovers over the years. Now, I’m going through them for the spooky season!
Every Halloween (or Scare Season, if you will), I find myself taking on some kind of film-based project, but also trying to read through as many horror-themed books and comics as I can. Last year, I focused solely on Vertigo titles, but this year I’m mostly pulling books off my shelf or out of my To Read box. Of course, I’m always looking around to see if there are any books I just NEED to add to my library, though. While scoping out Amazon, I came across two volumes of Batman By Doug Moench and Kelley Jones. I was immediately interested and began comparing prices when I realized, “Hey, I have these issues in the garage!” As you can see from the above pic, that proved to be true and I saved myself some scratch and also had a far more immediate dive into some very important comics from my childhood!
Thanks to an email from one of my editors, I realized it was New Year’s Eve! Funny how that works out. These might be coming out a bit later than the norm, but I figured I would jump in on the whole “End of the Year” list thingy. First up, I’m going to cover my favorite horror viewing experiences of films that came out several years back!
Surfwise explores the history of Dorian Paskowitz (whose name is misspelled on the IMDb page oddly enough), his wife and nine children as he took them off the grid, drove around in a camper and traveled the United States surfing wherever he could. Dorian graduated from Stamford and was a doctor for a while until he decided to give it up, screw a ton of women and live a life outside of society. He graded the women on a system out of 100 and Juliette scored a 90, so he stopped with her and they started having a litter of kids, 8 boys and 1 girl.
But Dorian wasn’t ALL about having kids, sex and surfing. He was also about living a very natural life. He didn’t want to eat processed food and he demanded that Juliette not to anything with their first child that an ape wouldn’t do. From there he cut out anything unnatural from their diet and tried to take as many hints about living from animals as he could.
Sounds pretty cool right? The kids didn’t have to go to school, did pretty much whatever they wanted, saw the whole country (and Mexico) and got to surf all the time. Well, it wasn’t all great. That camper is super cramped. Apparently, dad was also a bit of a tyrant at times. Plus, he didn’t really want to have money, so they didn’t always get to wear clothes or eat. And, you know how I mentioned Dorian liked to have lots of sex? Well, that didn’t stop in the camper, so the kids were privy to their parents screwing on a nearly nightly basis (according to them). Add all that up and the apart-from-society mentality and you end up with some kids who don’t really know how to operate in society once they left the camper.
I found this documentary fascinating as it delves into both the good and the bad of a really strange situation and how that has affected the 9 children. All of them claim to have enjoyed parts of their childhood, but also note that they’ve had to really struggle in the real world with their lack of education and socialization skills. They seem to have done alright for themselves either in the world of surfing or entertainment. A few work in Hollywood and a few are in bands, including two who were in that band The Flys who did that song “I Got You Where I Want To” which was a pretty big deal in the 90s.
Helvetica is exactly what it sounds like, a documentary about fonts. There isn’t really much of story in this one, it just kind of talks about the history and ubiquity of Helvetica, builds it up a lot, then knocks it down and builds it back up. You’d be surprised at how fired up people get about something as seemingly simple as a font, but as I’m coming to learn thanks to all the docs I’ve been watching, nothing’s ever simple. Heck, there’s a whole science and language to typography that most people are completely oblivious to. There’s not a lot else to say about this one, but if you’ve got any interest in this kind of thing it’s definitely worth checking out. If not, skip it.
Last night I found myself in an unfortunate situation. I had discovered a big bottle of Teacher’s Highland Cream Scotch Whisky, which is amazing. I tried it out with the very last of my Diet Dr. Pepper (gotta watch my figure now that I’m just sitting around all day for the foreseeable future), but then I was left with nothing to mix my next drink with. What’s a boy to do?
Well, we’ve got this big bottle of Jagermeister and some lemonade, so I figured what the hell? (The onion is not part of the recipe).
You can also see that I like to drink my cocktails out of a McDonalds glass from 1977. I don’t usually use shot glasses for measurements, so I just pour until most of the ice is covered (3 cubes), or, when you’re using the Mayor McCheese cup, up to the bottom of the big bicycle wheel.
Then, just fill it up with lemonade and there you go. It takes on a root beer like color, but tastes nothing like it. I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure if the deer blood in the Jager would coagulate when it came into contact with the lemonade, but it mixed pretty well and tasted like, well, lemonade and Jager.
So, here you have The Man In The Yellow Hat, a drink that may already exist under another name. To be honest, the only research I did was putting the name in Google to see if it popped up anywhere else (which is why it’s not called The Yellow Submarine). Next time you’re in a bar and feeling adventurous (and like explaining yourself to the bartender) give The Man In The Yellow Hat a shot!
I know there’s been a lot of talk about Josie and the Pussycats (2001) on the internet lately (well, Jim mentioned the soundtrack over on Enemy of Peanuts and also watched it last night at the same time I was and Kiel‘s been telling me to watch it for years). Well I finally checked it out and it was definitely surprising.
Did you fall for the hook? I hope so, because I loved this movie way more than I thought I would. Sure, I love Can’t Hardly Wait, which was written and directed by the same team as Josie (Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont), but this is a movie based on an Archie comic. That would seem to limit the comedic potential, right?
Fortunately no. First of all, I was surprised with how many “bitches” and “shits” we got at the end of the movie, but nowhere near as much as in the beginning when Tara Reid’s character causes a car crash by holding up a sign that, at first glance, reads “Honk if you love pussy.” She pulls the sign out from behind something to reveal that it actually says “pussycats,” but I was still surprised that joke made it into the movie. You always hear horror stories about really funny ideas being nixed because parent companies are worried about how it’ll make their property look. Apparently Archie Comics is pretty cool, or just weren’t paying attention.
The basic plot is that Alan Cumming (who I thought was Paul Reubens at first, sorry Alan) is a manager for a big record company looking for a new band to replace with the boy band whose plane he let crash (code “Put the Chevy to the levy”). He stumbles across Josie and the Pussycats and signs them, but it later turns out that Parker Posey, who runs the record company, has been encrypting subliminal messages in the music for various reasons. It’s a really goofy plot, exactly the kind you’d expect for a movie like this, but there are enough winks to the audience and tongues in cheek to let you in on the joke that the writers are making fun of movies just like this. It’s oddly subversive.
In honor of the marketing-to-kids theme/satirization, the filmmakers do quite a few things that I liked. First off, anytime the Pussycats are out in public, everyone else is where the “it” color of the moment (starting with pink, then orange and on and on). I noticed it before it was explained (the record company is controlling fashion and slang though these impressionable kids with tons of disposable income, as explained by Eugene Levy playing himself in a filmstrip), which made the reveal all the more satisfying. There’s also enough product placement to make Michael Bay jealous. According to IMDb, they didn’t actually receive any money for all the shout-outs as they were, again, there to show how crazy intense the marketing towards kids can be.
Josie also works as a strange kind of time capsule. TRL and Carson Daly play a somewhat important role in the movie. Daly and Reid have some screen time together and, as anyone who’s anyone will remember, they dated for some time (though I couldn’t remember when that happened or when they broke up, which made the scene both funny and awkward, like watching episodes of Newleyweds after Nick and Jessica got divorced). We also get glimpses of Behind the Music (a show they should really bring back along with Pop Up Video) and Serena Altschul of MTV News fame. If you were a way-too-avid watched of MTV in the late 90s, you’ll remember Serena, if not, she’ll just be another face on the screen, but man, that was a fun little flashback.
Lastly, I’ve got to talk about the cast. First up, you’ve got the Pussycats played by the aforementioned Reid, Rachel Leigh Cook (what is she doing nowadays?) and Rosario Dawson (I had no idea she was in this until the credits rolled). They’re all very serviceable in their roles, but they’re significantly outshined in my opinion by the members of Du Jour, the boy band (another 90s flashback now that I think about it) from the beginning of the movie consisting of Breckin Meyer, Seth Green Donald Faison and a guy named Alexander Martin who played the foreign exchange student in Can’t Hardly Wait. Now CHW fans will remember that Faison and Meyer played two members of the band at the party. I’d like to think that they ditched the other two guys, grabbed Green’s Kenny, taught the foreign kid to speak English and blew up on the boy band scene. These guys are hilarious from the very first moment they’re on screen to their inevitable plane crash.
After a quick look at the Robot Chicken IMDb page, I wonder if this is where Green met Meyer and Cook, both of whom who have regularly contributed voices along with tons of other late 90s “teen” actors. Maybe they can get a good script together and give us a new movie with all those familiar faces dealing with being in their late 20s/early 30s. I could go for that, how about you guys?