Saturday, January 31, 2009

Joe Coleman: Afraid of the Void

Joe Coleman. I don’t claim to know much about this Outsider Artist beyond what I have seen of his pieces. I do know that his subjects lean toward the murderous and the outlaws, those who live in the shadowy side of the street. His artwork has certain attributes of horror vacui (literally, ‘fear of empty spaces’), a quality often found in works created by the mentally ill in which practically every available spot on the paper or canvas is taken up. Think of it as the direct antithesis of minimalism.

Coleman first caught my eye with his banned artwork for the terrifying crime thriller Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, and his cover art for the Amok Press edition of vagabond author Jack Black’s You Can’t Win. Black’s autobiographical account of his life on the hustle was a great influence on Beat author William S. Burroughs, who supplies the foreword to this edition.

(Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer)

(You Can’t Win)

What struck me most interesting about Coleman’s work–and of horror vacui as a whole–was the startling similarities I saw between it and Mandalas, the heavily symbolic Wheel Of Life found in Buddhism and other Dharmic religions. It’s almost as if insanity and faith aren’t that far distant from one another…at least on paper.

(Faith by Joe Coleman)

(Buddhist Mandala)

From a horror movie to the Beat generation to Eastern religion: Joe Coleman has taken us full circle.

Check out his website, or purchase a book of his work.

–J/Metro

Friday, January 30, 2009

Book Review: The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu

The Ten-Cent Plague
by David Hajdu

This book chronicles the early days of the comic book, from its inception as full-color reprints of the Sunday funnies to the madmen at E.C. Comics shutting their doors and closing up business. It's less about the good times than it is about the bad, primarily the medium being used as a scapegoat time and time again by the media, religious organizations, and overzealous PTAs looking to place the blame of society's ills somewhere. Comic books simply made an easy target, easier even than television and film, because as an art form it was still new, and geared primarily toward children. It was something, to paraphrase the Fresh Prince, that parents just didn't understand.

What started out as mere parental concern quickly grew out of hand, resulting in Fahrenheit 451-style book burnings and mass hysteria. There were judicial inquiries, which more resembled trials than anything else, and comic books were all but given the death sentence. The Comic Code Authority was put into effect with such a rigid code of decency that it was effectively impossible for some publishers to continue their work. Among the many ridiculous bans, the words "weird", "horror", and "crime" were no longer allowed to be used even in the comic book's title, which pretty much meant that everything EC Comics put out was contraband. Without the CCA's seal of approval, distributors wouldn't distribute, shippers wouldn't ship, and sellers wouldn't sell. Bill Gaines, the head honcho at EC, attempted to fall into line, but it was of no use. He and his cohorts were run out of business.

EC is but one aspect of this work, but perhaps the archetypal one. They stood for everything that the code was against, and so a good deal of paper is spent (rightfully) depicting their struggle.

It's a fascinating book, really, for anyone interested not only in the history of the comic book, but the history of America itself. And although a little bit more humor in the writing wouldn't have hurt, for those who lived through and suffered at the the hands of the Comics Code Authority, it's no laughing matter. For many of them, this was their passion and their livelihood, squashed by fascist censorship. So it's only fitting that the book ends with a lengthy list of those who never worked in the medium again--a memorial monument to those all but blacklisted because they weren't afraid of the word "weird".

This book is currently ranked #18,373 in books at Amazon.com. Visit David Hajdu's website, or purchase the book now!

Long live the weird.
--J/Metro

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What If? (At A Glance)

What If...At A Glance
(Marvel Comics)


Uatu the Watcher, who first appeared in Fantastic Four #13 acts as host and narrator to this fun little series that explores what life in the Marvel Universe would have been like if only things had turned out just a little different. It goes without saying that these stories are not part of the Marvel Universe "canon", so essentially anything is fair game.

Volume One (1977-1984)
#1: ...Spider-Man Joined The Fantastic Four?
#2: ...The Hulk Had The Brain of Bruce Banner?
#3: ...The Avengers Had Never Been?
#4: ...The Invaders Had Stayed Together After World War Two?
#5: ...Captain America Hadn't Vanished During World War Two?
#6: ...The Fantastic Four Had Different Super-Powers?
#7: ...Someone Else Besides Spider-Man Had Been Bitten By The Radioactive Spider?
#8: ...The World Knew That Daredevil Is Blind?
#9: ...The Avengers Had Fought Evil During The 1950s?
#10: ...Jane Foster Had Found The Hammer Of Thor?
#11: ...The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The Fantastic Four?
#12: ...Rick Jones Had Become The Hulk?
#13: ...Conan The Barbarian Walked The Earth Today?
#14: ...Sgt. Fury Had Fought World War Two In Outer Space?
#15: ...Nova Had Been Four Other People?
#16: ...Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung-Fu, Fought On The Side Of Fu Manchu?
#17: ...Ghost Rider, Spider-Woman and Captain Marvel Were Villains?
#18: ...Dr. Strange Were A Disciple Of Dormammu?
#19: ...Spider-Man Had Never Become A Crimefighter?
#20: ...The Avengers Fought The Kree-Skrull War Without Rick Jones?
#21: ...Invisible Girl Of The Fantastic Four Married The Sub-Mariner?
#22: ...Dr. Doom Had Become A Hero?
#23: ...The Hulk Had Become A Barbarian?
#24: ... Spider-Man Had Rescue Gwen Stacy?
#25: ...Thor And The Avengers Battled The Gods?
#26: ...Captain America Had Been Elected President?
#27: ...Phoenix Had Not Died?
#28: ...Daredevil Became An Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
#29: ...The Avengers Defeated Everybody?
#30: ...Spider-Man's Clone Lived?
#31: ...Wolverine Had Killed The Hulk?
#32: ...The Avengers Had Become Pawns Of Korvac?
#33: ...Dazzler Had Become The Herald Of Galactus?/...Iron Man Was Trapped In The Time Of King Arthur?
#34: (All Humor Issue)
#35: ...Elektra Had Lived?
#36: ...The Fantastic Four Had Not Gained Their Super-Powers?
#37: ...The Beast And The Thing Continued To Mutate?
#38: ...Featuring Captain America, Daredevil, Vision And The Scarlet Witch (Aging versions of our super-heroes)
#39: ...The Mighty Thor Battled The Conan The Barbarian?
#40: ...Dr. Strange Had Not Become Master Of The Mystic Arts?
#41: ...Sub-Mariner Had Saved Atlantis From Its Destiny?
#42: ...The Invisible Girl Had Died?
#43: ...Conan The Barbarian Were Stranded In The 20th Century?
#44: ...Captain America Were Revived Today?
#45: ...The Hulk Went Berserk?
#46: ...Spider-Man's Uncle Ben Had Lived?
#47: ...Loki Had Found The Hammer Of Thor?


In 1988, four years after the cancellation of the regular series, Marvel released a one-shot Special Issue, possibly to gauge interest in resurrecting the title. Apparently the sales didn't yet warrant the return of the series. I do not own this issue, but my research suggests that the Watcher did not appear this time around.


What If Special (1988)
#1: What If Iron Man Had Been A Traitor?


The Watcher returned for Volume 2, but was gone with issue #77. This volume sometimes revisited themes originally touched upon in the first series, and was also notable for the fact that storylines sometimes spanned more than one issue, whereas in the first series they were always self-contained.


Volume Two (1989-1998)
#-1: ...Starring Bishop, The Man From The Future
#1: ...The Avengers Lost The Evolutionary War?
#2: ...Daredevil Killed The Kingpin?
#3: ...Steve Rogers Had Refused To Give Up Being Captain America?
#4: ...The Alien Costume Had Possessed Spider-Man?
#5: ...The Vision Had Destroyed The Avengers?
#6: ...The X-Men Lost Inferno?
#7: ...Wolverine Was An Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
#8: ...Iron Man Lost The Armor Wars?
#9: ...The X-Men Died On Their First Mission?
#10: ...The Punisher's Family Hadn't Been Killed?
#11: ...The Fantastic Four All Had The Same Power?
#12: ...The X-Men Had Stayed In Asgard?
#13: ...Professor X Of The X-Men Had Become The Juggernaut?
#14: ...Captain Marvel Had Not Died?
#15: ...The Fantastic Four Had Lost The Trial Of Galactus?
#16: ...Wolverine Battled Conan The Barbarian?
#17: ...Kraven The Hunter Had Killed Spider-Man?
#18: ...The Fantastic Four Battled Doctor Doom Before They Got Their Powers?
#19: ...Vision Of The Avengers Conquered The World?
#20: ...The Amazing Spider-Man Had Not Married Mary Jane?
#21: ...The Amazing Spider-Man Had Married The Black Cat?
#22: ...The Silver Surfer Had Not Escaped Earth?
#23: ...The All-New, All-Different X-Men Had Never Existed?
#24: ...Wolverine Was Lord Of The Vampires
#25: ...The Marvel Super-Heroes Had Lost Atlantis Attacks?
#26: ...The Punisher Had Killed Daredevil?
#27: ...Namor Had Joined The Fantastic Four?
#28: ...Captain America Had Led An Army Of Super Soldiers In World War II?
#29: ...Captain America Had Formed The Avengers?
#30: ...The Fantastic Four's Second Child Had Lived?
#31: ...Spider-Man Had Kept His Cosmic Powers?
#32: ...Phoenix Had Not Died?
#33: ...Phoenix Rose Again?
#34: ...No One Was Watching The Watcher? (All-Humor Issue)
#35: ...The Fantastic Five Fought Dr. Doom And Annihilus (Timequake Pt. 1)
#36: ...The Avengers Battled The Guardians Of The Galaxy? (Timequake Pt. 2)
#37: ...Wolverine Had Been Lord Of The Vampires During Inferno? (Timequake Pt. 3)
#38: ...Thor Was A Thrall Of Seth? (Timequake Pt. 4)
#39: ...The Watcher Saved The Universe? (Timequake Pt. 5)
#40: ...Storm Of The X-Men Had Remained A Thief?
#41: ...The Avengers Had Fought Galactus?
#42: ...Spider-Man Had Kept His Six Arms?
#43: ...Wolverine Had Married Mariko?
#44: ...Venom Had Possessed The Punisher?
#45: ...Barbara Ketch Had Become Ghost Rider?
#46: ...Cable Had Destroyed The X-Men? (Part 1 of 2)
#47: ...Magneto Took Over The USA? (Part 2 of 2)
#48: ...Daredevil Had Saved Nuke?
#49: ...Silver Surfer Possessed The Infinity Gauntlet?
#50: ...The Hulk Had Killed Wolverine?
#51: ...The Punisher Became Captain America?
#52: ...Doom Became Sorcerer Supreme?
#53: ...Ironman Of 2020 Had Been Stranded In The Past?/What If Rick Jones Remained The Hulk?/What If Spider-Man Killed The Lizard?
#54: ...Death's Head I Had Lived?
#55: ...The Avengers Lost Operation: Galactic Storm? (Part 1 of 2)
#56: ...The Avengers Lost Operation: Galactic Storm? (Part 2 of 2)
#57: ...The Punisher Became An Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
#58: ...The Punisher Had Killed Spider-Man?
#59: ...Wolverine Led Alpha Flight?
#60: ...X-Men: The Wedding Album [What If Scott Summers And Jean Grey Had Married Earlier?/What If Scott Summers And Jean Grey Had Never Fallen In Love At All?/What If Phoenix Had Fallen For Wolverine?]
#61: ...Spider-Man's Parents Destroyed His Family?
#62: ...Wolverine Battled Weapon-X?
#63: ...War Machine Had Not Destroyed The Living Eraser?
#64: ...Iron Man Sold Out?
#65: ...Archangel Fell From Grace?
#66: ...Rogue Possessed The Power Of Thor?
#67: ...Captain America Were Revived Today? (Part 1)
#68: ...Captain America Were Revived Today? (Part 2)
#69: ...Stryfe Killed The X-Men?
#70: ...The Silver Surfer Had Not Betrayed Galactus?
#71: ...The Gamma Bomb Spawned A Thousand Hulks?
#72: ...Spider-Man Become A Murderer?
#73: ...The Kingpin Owned Daredevil?
#74: ...Mr. Sinister Formed The X-Men?
#75: ...Blink Of Generation X Had Not Died?
#76: ...Peter Parker Had To Destroy Spider-Man?
#77: ...Legion Had Killed Magneto?
#78: ...The New Fantastic Four Had Remained A Team?
#79: ...Storm Had The Power Of Phoenix?
#80: ...The Hulk Had Evolved Into The Maestro?
#81: ...The Age Of Apocalypse Had Not Ended?
#82: ...J. Jonah Jameson Adopted Spider-Man?
#83: ...Daredevil Was The Disciple Of Doctor Strange?
#84: ...Shard Had Lived Instead Of Bishop?
#85: ...Magneto Ruled All Mutants?
#86: ...Scarlet Spider Killed Spider-Man?


With issue #87, the tried-and-true format of dictating a specific point in history where a divergence created an alternate reality was abandoned, and in its place we found darker versions of the Marvel Universe. For example, rather than "What would have happened if Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four back in Amazing Spider-Man #1?", it became "What if Spider-Man turned into a hideous Spider-Monster...for no real reason?" This new format was more akin to DC's "Elseworld" stories than it was previous incarnations of What If. Perhaps most notable was the introduction of Spider-Girl in issue #105, which, by proxy, introduced the MC2 line of comics.


New Format
#87: ...Starring Sabretooth [Cat And Mouse, Rampaging in the X-Mansion]
#88: ...Starring Spider-Man [Arachnamorphosis, Morphing into a spider-monster]
#89: ...Starring Fantastic Four [The Fantastic Farce, Losing control of their powers]
#90: ...Starring Cyclops and Havok [In The Shadows, Orphaned at an early age]
#91: ...Starring The Incredible Hulk [The Man, The Monster, Banner as a savage and the Hulk intelligent]
#92: ...Starring Cannonball's Little Brother Josh [I'll Be Your Best Friend, Discovers a sentinel]
#93: ...Starring Wolverine [Ferus, Wolverine goes savage]
#94: ...Starring Juggernaut [Wanderings, Killed Xavier and the X-Men]
#95: ...Starring Ghost Rider [Broken Soul, Alternate version of ghost rider]
#96: ...Starring Quick Silver [They Grow Up So Quickly, Raised by Magneto]
#97: ...Starring Black Knight [Last Light, Camelot conquered by Dr. Doom]
#98: ...Starring Rogue [Seeds Of Yesterday, Nightcrawler raised by Mystique]
#99: ...Starring Spider-Man [Mask Of The Innocent, Black Cat as a celebrity]
#100: ...Starring Gambit [Paper Skin, etc., Numerous humorous tales]
#101: ...Starring Archangel [Angel Of Death, Archangel killed X-Men and the Horsemen]
#102: ...Starring Daredevil [Shadow Boxing, Became a boxer like his father]
#103: ...Starring Captain America [Prodigal Son, Awakened in a much darker future]
#104: ...Starring Silver Surfer [Finder's Keepers, Impossible Man has the Infinity Gauntlet]
#105: ...Starring Spider-Man? [Legacy..., Spider-Man has a daughter with spider powers]
#106: ...Starring Gambit [Retribution, X-Men chasing Gambit for his betrayal]
#107: ...Starring The Mighty Thor [If This Age Be Golden, Thor in the Golden Age]
#108: ...Starring The Avengers [The Greatest Sacrifice, Carnage bonded to the Silver Surfer]
#109: ...Starring The Fantastic Four [Tragedy In A Tiny Town, Ben Grimm in Liddle-Ville]
#110: ...Starring The Uncanny X-Men [Family Ties, Colossus a Soviet Super Soldier]
#111: ...Starring Wolverine [Comes The Horseman, As a Horseman of War]
#112: ...Starring Ka-Zar [Brave Old World, Manhattan turned into Savage Land]
#113: ...Starring Iron Man [Strange Allies, Stark Lives, As Sorcerer Supreme]
#114: ...Starring Secret Wars [Brave New Worlds, Children of our heroes fight again 25 years later]


The series returned for a series of one-shots in 2005, some hosted by the Watcher, one by a comic book fan, and two by writer Brian Michael Bendis!


Volume Three (2005) (One-Shots)
--What If Karen Page Had Lived?
--What If Jessica Jones Had Joined The Avengers?
--What If Doctor Doom Had Become The Thing?
--What If General Ross Had Become The Hulk?
--What If Professor X And Magneto Formed The X-Men Together
--What If Aunt May Died Instead Of Uncle Ben?


One year later, Marvel continued in the same six-issue one-shot format, although once again following in the footsteps of DC's Elseworld titles, with a tendency to place our well-known heroes in different eras. Once again, the Watcher was back.


Volume Four (2006) (One-Shots)
--...Captain America Had Lived In The American Civil War?
--...The Fantastic Four Were Cosmonauts?
--...Sub-Mariner Lived With His Human Father?
--...Daredevil Had Lived In Feudal Japan?
--...Thor Was Herald Of Galactus?
--...Wolverine Became The Punisher In The 1920s?


As 2006 came to a close, Marvel fired off five more one-shot issues, this time each one giving an alternate outcome for a major storyline or "event" that had already come to a close. Think of them as "alternate endings" on the director's cut DVD of your favorite epic movie.


Volume Five (2006)
--Avengers Disassembled [What If The Scarlet Witch Hadn't Acted Alone?]
--Spider-Man: The Other [What If Peter Parker Rejected His Inner Spider?]
--Wolverine: Enemy Of The State [What If Wolverine Was Never Deprogrammed?]
--Age of Apocalypse [What If Both Xavier And Magneto Were Killed By Legion?]
--X-Men: Deadly Genesis [What If Vulcan Became The Leader Of The X-Men?]


And, with 2007, Marvel continued the trend, once again showing alternate realities based around their largest of storylines.


Volume Six (2007)
--Planet Hulk [What If Caiera The Oldstrong Had Survived The Destruction On Sakaar Instead Of Hulk?/What If Hulk Had Landed On The Planet The Illuminati Had Intended For Him?/ What If Hulk Had Reverted Back To Bruce Banner When He Crashed On Sakaar?]
--Annihilation [What If The Annihilation Wave Reached Earth?]
--X-Men: Rise And Fall Of The Shi'ar Empire [What If Vulcan Absorbed The Energies Of The M'Kraan Crystal And Became Phoenix?]
--Civil War [What If Captain America Led All The Heroes Against The Registration Act?/What If Iron Man lost the Civil War?]
--Spider-Man Vs. Wolverine [What If Spider-Man Had Remained In 1980's Russia After An Accidental Death?]


Starting in December 2008, and continuing into 2009, Marvel announced the latest series of one-shots, again capitalizing on the success of their "event" storylines. On top of this, each issue contain a continuing Runaways back-up feature, What If The Runaways Became The Young Avengers. Announced were the following issues.


Volume Seven (2008)
--House Of M [What If Scarlet Witch Said 'No More Powers'?]
--Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America [What If Iron Man Had Died?]
--The New(er) Fantastic Four [Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine]
--Spider-Man: Back In Black [What If Mary Jane Had Been Shot Instead Of Aunt May?]
--Secret Wars [What If Dr. Doom Kept The Beyonder's Power?]

If I missed anything, meet me on the blue area of the moon, and we'll discuss it like adults.

--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Movie Review: Pervert!

Pervert!

Written by Mike Davis
Directed by Jonathon Yudis

James...Sean Andrews
Hezekiah...Darrell Sandeen
Cheryl...Mary Carey
Alisha...Sally Jean
Patty...Juliette Clark
“The following movie has been rated Horny-14. Pregnant women and men who already have an erection at this point in the film should leave the theater now.”
New Orleans college student James heads to the family’s desert ranch to visit his Bible-quoting (but degenerate) father Hezekiah, and learn how to be a real man. Hezekiah, an old widower trying to live his dream of being an artist (he sculpts the female form out of raw meat) has somehow managed to shack up with bouncy blonde Cheryl, who comes off like a Russ Meyer version of Tara Reid. Cheryl wastes no time seducing James, and soon enough they’re screwing right beneath Hezekiah’s nose--sometimes quite literally. When the old man finds out, Cheryl abruptly disappears and Hezekiah tells James that she packed her bags and moved on during the night. She’s quickly replaced by Alisha, this time a bitchy brunette, and when her corpse along with Cheryl’s is discovered, father suspects son and son suspects father. Thinking he has gone soft in the head, James hires Patty, a nurse, to care for Hezekiah, who handcuffs him to the bed and begins a relationship with the oh-so-lucky James. And, sure as shit, she finds herself in danger. So just who is the real killer?

The answer will astound you.

This comic throwback to old school nudie and exploitation films is ridiculous (but it’s supposed to be), and surprisingly enjoyable. Think a Troma film with a bigger budget, more talented actors, and better production values. It’s full of Cinemax-style sex and nudity, voodoo, double entendres, camera tricks (split-screen, reverse images, etc.), offensive jokes, and unrelated scenes of naked women interspersed amongst the action. The sound effects are too cartoony and are the worst part of the film, while the soundtrack is fantastic, running the gamut from country to garage rock to Indian sitar and everything in between. Spoof fans and friends of Toxie should flock to this movie in droves.

If actress Mary Carey seems familiar to you, you've probably seen her in such fare as Thumpin Melons, Rub the Muff 6, Lick My Balls, and Funbag Fantasies 5.

Perverts.

2005
Unrated
81 minutes
Color
USA
English

Hump Day! Not as bad as we make it out to be, not as fun as it sounds.
--J/Metro

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TV Review: Nowhere Man (1995)

Nowhere Man
TV's NOWHERE MAN from Lawrence Hertzog
The Complete Series


Created by Lawrence Hertzog
Produced by Stan Rogow

Thomas Veil...Bruce Greenwood
Alyson Veil...Megan Gallagher
Larry Levy...Murray Rubinstein
"My name is Thomas Veil, or at least I thought it was. I'm a photographer, I had it all: a wife, Alyson, friends, a career. And in one moment it was taken away, all because of a single photograph. I have it; They want it; and they will do anything to get the negative. I'm keeping this diary as proof that these events are real. I know they are... They have to be. "
Thomas Veil is a photojournalist who has traveled the world with his camera. Somewhere along the way, he has taken a photograph that the world was not meant to see, because upon the opening of his new exhibit in Chicago, Illinois, his entire life and indeed his existence has seemingly been erased. Desperate to find the truth and set things right, he embarks on a one man war against a massive unseen enemy and a conspiracy that has its grips everywhere.

Although by strict definition, Nowhere Man isn't a horror series, it had plenty of bizarre and unusual aspects to entertain the discerning fan. Its blend of X-Files themed conspiracy, The Fugitive's on-the-road aspects, and an Organization rivaling that of The Prisoner has propelled this series into cult status for its legion of devoted fans. It would have reached a much wider audience had it not been run on the fledgling UPN network and cancelled after only one season.

The series is finally available on DVD, saving fans from having to settle for another crappy bootleg.

Stand-out episodes are marked with a star by their title.

1) Absolute Zero*
Thomas Veil takes his wife Alyson out to a celebration dinner, but when he returns from a trip to the restroom it seems as if his entire existence has been erased. His own wife doesn't know him, nor do his friends, family, or pet German shepherd. His phone has been disconnected and the locks have been changed on his house. Questioning himself, Tom is admitted to a mental institution where he learns that the doctors at the hospital are a part of the conspiracy which took his identity. Now certain of his sanity, he escapes from the hospital and heads out on the open road in search of answers, his only clue lying in the fact that one of his photographs, “Hidden Agenda”—depicting a third-world execution—has been stolen.

The pilot episode has the distinction of being directed by horror genre legend Tobe Hooper.

2) Turnabout*
Tom uses identification stolen from the hospital to make his way across the country, posing as Dr. Bellamy. Soon “They” catch up to Tom, believing him to be the real doctor, and take him to their headquarters where Dr. Bellamy is told to use the same brainwashing technique on a Nowhere Woman patient that he had formerly used on one Thomas Veil. But soon enough, as the title suggests, the tables are turned.

3) The Incredible Derek
Tom enlarges the “Hidden Agenda” photograph and finds a clue that leads him to a small town in Georgia in the pursuit of more answers. He finds a paranoid soldier from the picture that refuses to offer any substantial answers and comes across Derek, a blind psychic child who makes some mysterious forecasts about Tom's predicament.

4) Something About Her
Using a little girl as bait, the conspirators apprehend Tom and place him into a hallucinatory state where he is forced to believe he has been living happily with a woman for nearly a year. When she is placed in jeopardy, Tom is questioned about the “Hidden Agenda” photograph and the whereabouts of the negatives. Just before giving into Their requests, something sparks Tom's memory and he realizes that the life he's living is not real.

5) Paradise On Your Doorstep
Tom secures himself a job developing photographs in a small town in order to hide out and earn money for his travels. While processing a roll of film, he spies a picture of his wife Alyson and attempts to track down the customer. The trail leads him to New Phoenix, a small community of people who have all lost their identities to the conspirators and have become Nowhere Men (or Women) themselves. The picture turns out to be a fake meant to lure him to their city, and Tom begins to question whether the people of New Phoenix are really citizens or prisoners.

6) The Spider Webb*
Tom finds the contents of The Lenny Little Show on public access television to be a little too close for comfort. Tom watches as Lenny Little runs through the same web of conspiracy that Tom himself has been running through, the actors portraying scenes directly out of Tom's previous adventures. Tom's investigation leads him to the offices of Max Webb productions, mysteriously tied to the conspirators. Webb assures Tom that the major problem is that Lenny Little has grown too predictable, and Tom takes his words to heart.

7) A Rough Whimper Of Insanity
Tom enlists the help of reclusive computer hacker/virtual reality genius Scott Hansen (Sean Whalen, Roach of Wes Craven's People Under The Stairs) to access the files his pursuers have on him. Unfortunately this episode falls prey to the trap most movies and television shows do when dealing with computers: it crosses well over the line of futuristic and into the land of ridiculousness.

8) The Alpha Spike
Tom traces Dr. Bellamy's path back to The Sterling Academy, a private school where he acquires a job as a janitor and discovers that the school board is brainwashing the students to be perfect soldiers. Upon discovering the body of an apparent suicide and believing that things are not as cut and dry as the police suspect, Tom is framed and arrested for the seduction of an underage student girl and held until his pursuers can pick him up.

9) You Really Got A Hold On Me*
While wandering through a spooky carnival at night, Tom's life is saved by Gus, a mysterious stranger who calls himself Tom's guardian angel and seems to know everything about his situation, including the only way out of it. Gus is, in fact, another Nowhere Man who has been on the run for a quarter of a century and has lost his will to go on. Dean Stockwell of Quantum Leap guest stars.

10) Father *
Attempting to find some aspect of his former life that has not been erased, Tom travels to his hometown where he finds his father, the man who abandoned him twenty years earlier. But is it really his father, or have “They” gotten to him too?

11) An Enemy Within
Tom is accidentally shot by a security guard in Pennsylvania and left in the woods. On the verge of death, he's discovered by Emily Noonan who takes him home and nurses him back to health. While recuperating, Tom is told by Emily that a powerful local corporation, Collective Foods, is tearing apart the town by buying up all the land. Emily, refusing to sell her farm, is engaged in a legal dispute with the corporation who accuses her of blocking progress. Tom finally finds someone he can trust and Emily finds a greater source of inspiration and strength then she previously thought possible. An innocent romance begins to develop.

12) It's Not Such A Wonderful Life *
Shortly before Christmas, Tom discovers that the military activities he photographed in “Hidden Agenda” are under investigation by the senate. He is soon located by federal agents who reveal the secrets behind “The Organization” (as “They” are technically called.) He's reunited with his wife Alyson and his mother in a government safe house where they can celebrate the holidays while his pursuers are being captured. Initially Tom believes Alyson's explanations for her behavior in earlier episodes, but in the end he finds that his winter wonderland is not what it seems.

13) Contact
An Organization insider contacts Tom and alerts him that Richard Grace, a member high up the ladder, is the one responsible for the erasure of his life. He promises Tom useful information about the Organization under the stipulation that he kill Grace. Tom has to decide how close he wants to get, and how willing he is to sleep with the enemy.

14) Heart Of Darkness*
Tom uses the computer that he received from his inside contact to hunt down Cyrus Quinn, a retired military man who is connected to the “Hidden Agenda” execution. To reach him, Tom must infiltrate the American Guard, a radical militia group that Quinn founded to further his own political beliefs.

15) Forever Jung
Tom's investigation leads him to a Minnesota nursing home where he poses as an orderly. He stumbles upon another branch of the conspiracy that grants elderly patrons another chance at youth, in exchange for their free will, a mind control experiment that is to result in the assassination of a high-powered judge.

16) Shine A Light On You
Investigating John Myerson, whom he has linked to The Organization, Tom visits a New Mexico town that is in an uproar over a series of recent UFO sightings. He is told by locals that Myerson is a scientist who was reportedly abducted by aliens months ago. Tom talks to his daughter Helen and convinces her to allow him access to the Weaver Institute where Myerson worked. Here he discovers the experiments going on under the supervision of The Organization and learns that Myerson may not be the victim he is believed to be.

17) Stay Tuned
Tom's contact leads him to Darby, New York which appears to be the perfect little town: unbelievably clean, hospitable, and overwhelmingly friendly. The entire town whole-heartedly supports a single politician, and this, along with the warnings of a few locals, confirms Tom's suspicion that something within this town is horribly wrong.

18) Hidden Agenda*
Tom's informant, who has been compromised by the Organization, convinces him to give the back story to the “Hidden Agenda” photograph, and in a series of flashbacks we witness he and his partner Harrison Barton uncover illegal operations by U.S. military in Nicaragua first hand. The episode ends with a startling revelation regarding the photograph which disrupts Tom's view of reality.

19) Doppelganger*
Tom accepts one final tip from the insider at The Organization, and arrives at the hometown of Clare Hillard, a fellow reporter who worked the same beat he did when he took the “Hidden Agenda” photograph. Here, Tom discovers another man has taken over his identity. Claire disappears and Tom is arrested in suspicion of her murder. Lucky for us, Tom can smell a rat from a mile away.

20) Through A Lens Darkly*
Tom is once again captured by the Organization and forced through a walk down memory lane. He is paralyzed and put into a trance where he relives events both real and altered from as early as his tenth year. We meet Tom's first love in this episode, Laura, and witness their ups and downs. After reliving too many painful memories, Tom breaks down and agrees to give up the “Hidden Agenda” negatives. But what of the past they're not showing him?

21) The Dark Side Of The Moon
While running from an Organization operative, Tom is mugged by a gang member who takes his bag and everything in it, including the “Hidden Agenda” negatives. Both Tom and the operative are in hot pursuit of the negatives, but the operative gets there first, killing the thief and leaving Tom to take the blame. Now Tom has to retrieve the negatives before the operative can get out of the city and avoid an angry set of gang members who are seeking revenge. The whole episode is backed and narrated by a late- shift radio DJ who likes to wax poetic about the night in between songs.

22) Calaway
Seeking a reprieve from a bad bout of insomnia, Tom finds a trail that leads him back to Calaway, the mental hospital where his adventure began in episode one. He's once again institutionalized and finds that former patient Joe Carter has joined the medical staff and thus the Organization. At first, Joe doesn't believe he was ever a patient but after some research finds that Tom is telling the truth. Also recently added to the hospital is a young new nowhere man, going through exactly what Tom did in episode one.

23) Zero Minus Ten (Coma)
Tom wakes up in a hospital bed, only to be told that he had been in a car accident which left him in a coma for numerous months. His wife Alyson and his best friend Larry are there when he awakes, assuring him that the whole terrible ordeal was just a dream. Tom is not convinced, but finds it in himself to trust Larry who promises to assist him in locating the negatives. In the meantime, Tom's photographs are being prepared for another showing, this time the centerpiece entitled “Displacement” rather than “Hidden Agenda.”

24) Marathon (Bed of Lies)*
After a tireless examination of the “Hidden Agenda” negatives, Tom discovers a clue that had until now never seen the light of day. It leads him to a research facility in Washington, D.C. that is home to the top-secret Project Marathon, a mind control assassination experiment. After surviving an attempt on his life, Tom makes contact with an FBI agent who, for once, appears to be an ally. This is Nowhere Man, however, so who is to say that all is as it seems? The agent tells Tom that one of the men executed in “Hidden Agenda” was a U.S. senator and gives him a key to a safety deposit box that contains a very important file.

25) Gemini Man*
Tom opens the safe-deposit box to find a full report on “Hidden Agenda” and the Organization written by an inside agent named Gemini. He learns that all four of the men executed in the photograph were in fact U.S. senators on the Intelligence Committee, and that only one member was not pictured. Tom tracks down the surviving senator to find out the truth, although the truth is ultimately ugly. The truth is that everything is a lie: Hidden Agenda, the negatives, even Tom Veil himself. A riveting episode that ties directly in with the one before it, and a fitting end to the season. It all makes sense, too, in a bizarre sort of way (providing you don't mind filling in the blanks for yourself.) We only wish we had one more episode—or Lord willing, a movie—to finish this thing off right.


Hidden Agenda

August 1995-May 1996
60 minutes
UPN
Color
United States
English

--J/Metro

Monday, January 26, 2009

Movie Review: Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker (2001)

Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker!
Written and Directed by Chris Seaver

Misty Donatuti...Mulva
Chris Seaver...Mr. Bonejack

The name Mulva comes from a now-classic Seinfeld episode, and this film comes to us from the folks at Low Budget Pictures--so we're not exactly expecting Oscar worthy material here...but this is borderline ridiculous.

A room full of comic book and horror movie memorabilia...a dog named Krypto...a possibly lobotomized teenage girl with terrible glasses and a haircut to match who eats a nice bowl of Frankenberry mixed with soda, sugar, Junior Mints and chocolate syrup for breakfast ("It's very refreshing!"). That's Mulva. And Mulva, unfortunately, is our heroine.

Mulva is going trick-or-treating for the first time since a traumatic incident involving a donut and a hot-dog (figure it out), and boy, is she excited about it. Little does she know that a group of real-life zombies are on the prowl and hungry for her flesh. Surely you're supposed to be rooting for Mulva...but I was praying that the zombies would tear out her throat, so I wouldn't have to hear her voice anymore.

The camera work is terrible...the acting is absolutely atrocious...the special effects are sub-sub-par...the character of Mulva is by far the most annoying person to be put on film since the early days of Jerry Lewis ("Hey, Laaadyyyy"). I'm not sure if the "black" character was supposed to be so-offensive-it's-funny, a la 'Family Guy', but it turns out to be so-stupid-it's-just-stupid--a mishmash of outdated racial sterotypes that are even less tolerable when you consider that it's white guy writer/director Chris Seaver in black face. Sure, Mulva gets her sweets, but what about the rest of us? Could they not have at least hired some eye candy for this film? Think the girl on the box looks pretty good? Me too...it's just too bad she's not in the film!

If I had to be nice, I would say that the rapid-fire pop-culture references were somewhat fun--and it does demonstrate that the filmmakers are big fans of the horror genre; and as much as I hate to admit it, the Benny Hill chase scene did make me chuckle a bit. A cameo by Lloyd Kaufman and some of Troma's cast of regulars may serve to "legitimize" this movie, but for the most part, it tried way too hard and had way too little talent behind it.

I've got mixed emotions about the whole Horror-Comedy genre of which Mulva belongs to. If done right, it can range from kind of enjoyable (Dead and Breakfast) to excellent (Shaun of the Dead). But, if done poorly, it can just come across as a cop-out: "Of course, it's terrible! It's supposed to be terrible! That's why it's funny! Get it!?"

No...I'm afraid I don't.

I give this Z-Grade cheezer an F.

2001
Unrated
59 Minutes
Color
United States
English

--J/Metro

Sunday, January 25, 2009

d.a. levy: cleveland memory project



Cleveland poet d.a. levy was many things: an outlaw, an underground sensation, and a genius among them. He died in 1968 under mysterious circumstances, leaving an unfortunately small legacy of work behind, much of which is difficult (if not impossible) to find. For us fans, the d.a. levy Collection at the Cleveland Memory Project's webpage is an amazing resource. The online material allows us to see material in a way that we have likely never seen it before: written in his own hand. Also features personal letters, poems, scans of his 'zines (back before 'zine was even a word), art and more. The collages (from which the above image was cropped) are a personal favorite of mine. Be sure to check it out, and if you like what you see buy his work!

--J/Metro

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Movie Review: Camp Utopia (2002)

Camp Utopia

Written by Robert Madero and Skippy McGriff
Directed by Robert Madero

Collin Stark...Lance
Jessica Jordan...Gretchen
Alexandra Westmore...Dee Dee
James E. Foly...Vesper
Sarah Megan White...Brittany
Adam Minarovich...Ranger Roger
Nineteen sixty nine. Saigon. The war rages on in the jungles of Vietnam. Peace demonstrations continue on the streets of America. And in a small hippie commune in Northern California, Timothy Bach, a self-proclaimed guru, maintains a hypnotic hold on his followers.

Bach had left the world of rock and roll a year earlier, walking off stage in the middle of a concert in Chicago. He surfaced months later on the west coast, creating Campy Utopia as an idyllic refuge from the real world.

On June 23, 1969, a summer of love became the summer of horror for the disciples of Timothy Bach.

Something went terribly wrong in the free love and peace commune...

Following an over-long, mock-groovy music backed opening credits sequence (made bearable only by the gloriously gorgeous hippie chicks gyrating in mellow abandon), we witness the infamous Timothy Bach--played nearly silently by Stephen Pearcy, lead singer of the ridiculous hair metal band RATT--screwing some girl who is one with the cosmos. You know she's one with the cosmos, because she says things during intercourse like, "I want to fly with the universe!" And then, I'm assuming at climax, Timothy reaches out for a machete and grants her wish.

Flash forward to the present day. Five college kids (a self-professed "bunch of spoiled assholes") in a Volkswagen bus head out into the woods for a little camping trip. You got your perennial bitch (Gretchen), your sweet girl next door (Brittany), your horny hero (Lance), your greedy stock trader who would be more at home in the 1980s (Vesper), and your new girl with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things hippie (Dee Dee). They pitch their tents, of course, right on top of Timothy's old stomping grounds, looking to smoke some weed and get some ass. They're all alone out there on the blood-soaked grounds, except for Ranger Roger--a creepy and perverted forest ranger who watches pornos at Station #69 in his underwear with his asthmatic poodle on his lap.

Seriously.

(I'll never understand the need for bumbling comic relief characters in horror films--not even in 'classics' like Last House on the Left.)

Anywho, predictably, the teens begin meeting their maker one-by-one.

The acting is pretty poor in some places--although it gets better as the movie goes on, meaning that there was a pretty strict learning curve during the filming. The special effects are essentially what you'd expect from this sort of movie: sticky-icky ooey-gooey karo syrup and moderately successful prosthetics. The soundtrack, unfortunately, is pretty much dreadful, parts of it sounding like cues from an unreleased late-'eighties, early-'nineties erotic cop drama starring Bruce Willis or Jeff Fahey. (You'll understand once you hear it.)

Where the film excels, however, are the death scenes. They're brief, simple, and not particularly gory, but they are effective. Especially the first one. You knew it was coming eventually, you just didn't expect it to happen when it did. Props must also be given for the fact that this movie has self-aware elements (as seemingly all horror films must in the wake of Scream)--referencing Friday the 13th, Dead Next Door, Skinned Alive, and Blair Witch--but it's not hyper-aware, meaning that the characters don't use their knowledge of these films as the basis of their survival. Also, a big kudos to the filmmakers for having the balls to unveil the majority of the action in broad daylight--none of this slinking around in the shadows crap for them!

An enjoyable little low-budget throwback to Jason Voorhees and Charles Manson, definitely worth a watch to fans of the genre.

2002
81 Minutes
Unrated
Color
USA
English


I've got my "Stay Young" tee-shirt. How about you?
--J/Metro

Friday, January 23, 2009

Comic Review: Batman: Jazz

Batman: Jazz
DC Comics
(1995)

Batman Jazz Comic Book [Midnite Media]Batman Jazz Comic Book [Midnite Media]Batman Jazz Comic Book [Midnite Media]

Written by Gerard Jones
Illustrated by Mark Badger

There's nothing quite like a good Batman story, a delicate mix of super-heroics, gritty realism, and pulp fiction detective work. And there's nothing quite like old-school hipsterism, either, the likes of Jack Kerouac, hepcats, and antiquated slang. So when the two worlds come together in this three-issue miniseries, the results should have proved spectacular.

Old Bats, out patrolling the streets of Gotham, hears the wild sounds of Hot Jazz and he follows it to the park where an old man named Willie Little is blowing the sax. Soon enough, the old jazzman is attacked by three zoot-suited poseurs in paper mache masks, and Batman is determined to discover why. He learns that Willie Little is, in actuality, Blue Byrd, a world-famous musician who supposedly died 40 years ago (not to mention an obvious stand-in figure for the legendary Charlie 'Bird' Parker). In seeking out Byrd's attackers, Batman learns a thing or two about heart, a thing or two about soul, a thing or two about jazz, and yes, even a thing or two about himself.

Which is all fine and good, really. The writing was enjoyable, especially the philosophical ramblings about masks and identity, and the subterranean pontifications on jazz. That said, now the downfall of the series: the art was so rough and muddied that at times it was impossible to tell what I was even looking at. I'm assuming that it was "inspired" by the look of The Dark Knight Returns, but it didn't work here, nor would it fit here if it did. The muddy style seems instead to be hiding a lack of talent. And while I can appreciate the jazz-cat stereotypes in more laughable ventures (Mr. Beat, for example), it simply has no place in Gotham.

Still, while it will never be a defining Batman story, it is well worth reading for the Geek-Beat crowd.

Speaking of Batman's connection to jazz, it's interesting to note that that late, great Neal Hefti, a composer who wrote and arranged for Count Basie and Frank Sinatra, also penned the viral "Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Batman!" theme song for the campy Adam West television show.

--J/Metro

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Movie Review: Spider Baby (1964)

Spider Baby
or
The Maddest Story Ever Told
Spider Baby 1964 Movie [Midnite Media]
Written & Directed by Jack Hill

Lon Chaney Jr. .... Bruno
Jill Banner .... Virginia
Sid Haig .... Ralph
Beverly Washburn .... Elizabeth
Carol Ohmart .... Emily Howe
Quinn K. Redeker .... Peter Howe
Karl Schanzer .... Schlocker
Mary Mitchel .... Ann

From "The Dictionary of Rare and Peculiar Diseases": The Merrye Syndrome, so called because its only known occurrence is among the descendents of one Ebenezer Merrye; a progressive age regression beginning about the tenth year and continuing steadily throughout the victim's lifetime. It is believed that eventually the victim of the Merrye Syndrome may even regress beyond the prenatal level, reverting to a pre-human condition of savagery and cannibalism. Many authorities do not accept the existence of the Merrye Syndrome. Incredible…but true, nevertheless!

Incredible indeed. I have to say that I was in love with this black horror comedy from the get-go. The opening credits were a horror-hipster's dream, and dig that crazy theme song--by Lon Chaney, Jr. no less!

When Titus W. Merrye died years ago, he left his chauffeur Bruno in charge of the family. They're not a normal family, kind of a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Sawyer clan and the Addams Family. We've got Elizabeth, who loves to hate everything; Virginia, a homicidal girl who thinks she's a spider; Ralph, the bald animalistic mute brother; Uncle Ned, Aunt Clara and Aunt Martha, locked up tight in the secret cellar. And let's not forget Titus. Sure, he's a rotting corpse, but his children tuck him in and give him a kiss every night come bedtime.

Spider Baby: The Merrye Family [Midnite Media]

Unfortunately for the Merrye's, Emily and Peter Howe--long lost cousins--have hired a lawyer and are on their way to collect their rightful inheritance, including the family fortune, the estate, and the children. Bruno and the kids work fast to hide their dark secrets in order to accommodate their guests. The lawyer, Mr. Schlocker, announces that the children will be placed into professional care facilities, but Bruno made a promise to his former boss: to protect the children forever and ever, and to keep them from public ridicule. And Bruno is a man of his word.

Peter Howe seems to be a decent sort who would rather just leave the family be, so we're glad when he leaves the house early to get blitzed with Mr. Schlocker's secretary. Emily, however, is a money-hungry bitch who gets exactly what she deserves and we love every minute of it. And Mr. Schlocker? Well, he's a lawyer and a slimy one at that.

The film did tend to be a bit slow at times and some of the scenes seemed drawn out, but it's a small price to pay for such wonderfully bizarre characters. Sid Haig was great as Ralph, an early role for a man who has since become one of the coolest character actor's in film history. It's my opinion that Spider Baby is a much more influential piece than most people understand. As far as homicidal families go, this one predates even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it was obviously implanted in Rob Zombie's subconscious when he directed House of 1000 Corpses. Hell, he even cast Sid Haig in his picture! It's true that there's no sex, no nudity, no cursing and no gore. But amazingly, it all works. Haven't seen it? I suggest you do.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Cannibal Orgy; The Liver Eaters; Attack of the Liver Eaters;

1964
Unrated
81 Minutes
Black & White
United States
English

--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Secret Sex Life of Superman

Remember that scene in Kevin Smith's Mallrats where the characters are discussing the possible repercussions of Superman's sex life? Remember how hard you laughed, and how novel it seemed? Well, it turns out that Mr. Smith wasn't the first one to express these concerns. Back in 1971, science fiction author Larry Niven published an essay called "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" which goes into far, far greater detail than even Smith's mighty monologues.

Lois Lane gutted like a trout? Superman masturbating on the moon? Super-sperm swarming over the great city of Metropolis? And Superman pregnant with his own baby?

Intrigued?

I thought so.

Now head on over to LarryNiven.Org [EDIT: link dead as of 10.12.12] and give it a read...

...and if you like what you read, the curious among us may want to hunt down a copy of Penthouse Comix #5, in which the legendary Curt Swan adapts the essay for those of us who need an eyeful of the Super-Smut.

Curt Swan/Larry Niven: Secret Sex Life of Superman [Midnite Media]
Hmm...now if we could only discover what the sex life of Mr. Mxyptlk is like.

Hump Day! Not as bad as we make it out to be, not as fun as it sounds.
--J/Metro

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fantastic F-O-U-R: Let Me SPELL It Out For You

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the Fantastic Four, and their timeless connection to a single man. No, I'm not talking about Stan Lee. No, not Jack Kirby either. No, not even John Byrne. I'm talking about this man:

Aaron Spelling: Fan-Tastic [Midnite Media]

That's right, it's Aaron Spelling. Strange as it may seem, there are numerous karmic threads tying the cosmic comic foursome to the late, great producer. Read on, my kittlings.

It's no secret that Brian Austin Green, who portrayed David Silver in the original 90210 series, also donated his voice to the Human Torch for the 1990's animated Fantastic Four series. But did you know that Chuck McCann, who lent his voice to the Thing, also appeared as Larry Horvath in 2 episodes of the Aaron Spelling produced Starsky and Hutch? And let's not forget about Simon Templeman, who played Dr. Doom in 3 episodes, and also appeared in 3 episodes of Spelling's Charmed as the Angel of Death, and as Kurt in an episode of Melrose Place entitled "For Love of Money"; or Alan Oppenheimer, who played Uatu the Watcher, and also appeared on one episode of Spelling's Hart to Hart.

The 1960's cartoon supplies a few surprises as well. Gerald Mohr, who played Mr. Fantastic, also appeared on one episode of Johnny Ringo, the first show ever produced by Aaron Spelling, and Jo Ann Pflug, who played the Invisible Woman, appeared on a number of Spelling shows, including Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Charlie's Angels!

Remember the aborted Roger Corman-produced Fantastic Four movie? These karmic connections extend from there as well. Michael Bailey Smith, who played Ben Grimm, portrayed Belthazor in 14 episodes of Charmed, and Carl Ciafralio, who played the Thing, appeared as 'Huntsman' in Charmed's 2002 episode "Happily Ever After" and as a security guard in Melrose Place's 1997 episode "Screams from a Marriage".

And how can we forget the big budget success stories that were Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer? Jessica Alba, who played the Invisible Woman, appeared as Layla in one episode of Love Boat: the Next Wave, and in 2 episodes of the original 90210 as Leanne.

And Julian McMahon, who played Dr. Doom, appeared in a whopping 47 episodes of Charmed as Cole Turner!

You might assume that the connections must end there. But you would assume wrong. Just take a look at the following panels, snipped (snikt?) from back issues of the short-lived Fantastic Four Unplugged.


Fantastic Four/Aaron Spelling [Midnite Media]Fantastic Four/Aaron Spelling [Midnite Media]Fantastic Four/Aaron Spelling [Midnite Media]

So what does it all mean? Was Aaron Spelling the real mastermind behind Marvel Comics? Could be...now that I think about it, I've never seen Stan Lee and Aaron Spelling in the same room together.

...curiouser and curiouser...

--J/Metro

Monday, January 19, 2009

Movie Review: Slugs (1987)

Slugs
Slugs Movie 1987 [Midnite Media]
Written by José Antonio Escrivá and Ron Gantman
Directed by Juan Piquer Simón

Michael Garfield...Mike Brady
Kim Terry...Kim Brady
Philip MacHale...Don Palmer
Alicia Moro...Maureen Watson

Slugs: The Movie, as the title card states, as opposed to Slugs: The Broadway Play, or even Slugs: The Laundry Detergent.

I must admit, at first glance this film has a certain degree of credibility going for it: It's based on a best selling novel by British author Shaun Hutson, it features music by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and it was produced by Francesca De Laurentiis, the daughter of the legendary Dino De Laurentiis. However, it's got a few strikes against it as well: namely, that it's called "Slugs", and the hero's name is Mike Brady.

No, not THAT Mike Brady, architect extraordinaire and father to legendary recording artist Johnny Bravo. This Mike Brady is the Health Inspector in the small town of Ashton (AKA the "armpit of America"), and is married to a hot little high school English teacher named Kim. He's the only person that has connected the dots in the string of mysterious deaths that has been spreading through the community. Well, maybe not dots...more like trails of slime.

You see, it's like this: an evil land developer is constructing a shopping center right on top of what was once a toxic landfill. When the construction crew broke ground, they also opened up a real can of worms--almost literally--unleashing a horde of big ass mutant slugs upon the unsuspecting populace.

It's not a great movie. It's not even a good movie. But it is a fun movie, and sometimes that's all you need. The acting ranges from passable to simply atrocious, and the dialogue is quite ridiculous at times--"You don't have the authority to declare Happy Birthday! Not in this town!"--and the characters are barely more defined than the slugs themselves, not to mention that townsfolk are introduced only to be killed off with such regularity that you don't feel that the primary cast is any real danger. But the death scenes, while silly in their own ways, really do deliver.

Highlights include a post-coital naked high school girl being consumed alive by hundred of slugs (not as hot as you might think), and a human eyeball exploding in a shower of blood and worms in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Truly a thing of beauty.

You know that movie Slither? It's like that movie's older brother, but not quite as handsome, and not nearly as good at sports.

1988
Rated R
92 Minutes
Color
Spain/USA
English

"Rat shit and maggot eggs!"
--J/Metro

Introductions

Welcome, my kittlings, to the introductory posting of my new blog. I've tried my hands at a number of blogs in the past, and they've all fallen quite quickly by the wayside. But one of my New Year's goals was to publish a blog regularly for at least one year. It will take a lot more dedication than I've shown in the past, so I've chosen a subject that has long been a fascination of mine:

Midnite Media.

What, exactly, is Midnite Media? A wide spectrum of things that fall just this side of the shores of the mainstream: comic books, horror movies, pulp novels, outre music...Freakery, Geekery and the occasional Beatnikery. In short, Midnite Media is whatever I declare it to be.

...Coming Soon...

--J/Metro

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