Archive for October, 2008

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G.I. Joe Comic Packs — Wave 6 (pt.1: MOC)

October 31, 2008

It’s nonstop madness as more Joes have come out this month than in the last year. My savings further dwindle away to nothingness, but here I am bringing you the latest wave of the G.I. Joe comic two-packs. Full review of the figures to follow.

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“She Went To A Party With Eight Dead Murderers!” — The Sentinel

October 30, 2008

THE SENTINEL (1977)
d. Michael Winner 

First of all, this movie is all kinds of awesome, I don’t know where to begin. Mega-spoilers exist within, and at least one screen-cap is so NSFW, so proceed with caution!

There may be those critics who will dismiss this as a poor man’s Rosemary’s Baby due to some similarities of creepy neighbors and religious themes, but that’s where the similarities end. This movie deserves to be judged on its own merits, and it is quite an amazing film that surprised me with its strong cast, its well-crafted mystery, and its absolute bug-nuts ending revelation.

No Wonder The Rent’s So Cheap

No Wonder The Rent’s So Cheap

Basically, this movie tells the story of a young model, Alison Parker (Cristina Raines), who, having recovered from a suicide attempt, moves out of her boyfriend’s (Chris Sarandon) place to a posh apartment in Brooklyn Heights (at the end of Montague Street overlooking the River Walk) for the plum price of $400 a month with a $50 deposit! Dream place, right? That is, until the weird shit starts happening, then you know it was too good to be true.

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G.I. Joe — Wave 10 (pt.2: review)

October 27, 2008

So, within a month of Wave 9’s release comes Wave 10 of this excellent line. Hasbro keeps offering interesting character selections; here they keep things fresh by including a mix of some fan favorites along with some new characters. What follows will be a review of the figures that came in this wave, with the exception of Tiger Force Duke. **UPDATE** See Tiger Force Duke review at the end of this post.

1) Mutt & Junkyard — K-9 Officer & Attack Dog

  • Head/Forearms/Lower Body — New
  • Torso/Biceps/Waist — Cobra Viper (w7)

One of my favorites from the original line comes back to life with this great likeness. The detail is great, even down to the scar on his face. The only issue I have with this version is that his face mask looks a little too bulky and doesn’t cover his mouth and nose convincingly. It’s a small gripe to this overall excellent figure. ***1/2

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Mind-Numbing — Patrick

October 27, 2008

PATRICK (1978)
d. Richard Franklin 

The 70s was a hot-bed for psychic power movies, and unfortunately Patrick comes in at the low end of the totem pole. It’s not entirely horrible, it’s just that it feels overly familiar and I feel that I’ve seen better in similar films.

Patrick is introduced in a scene where he “overhears” a woman and her lover making sweet love and then sharing a bath; in a rage/fit of jealousy, he throws an electric heater into the tub killing the lovers, but not before the woman is revealed to be his mother.

Cut to some time later when a newly employed nurse (Susan Penhaligon) who is to take care of the title character, now in an open-eyed coma. While the staff has given up on Patrick as brain-dead, she believes him to still be aware, and creates a form of communication that involves his spitting once for “yes” and twice for “no”.

When strange incidents occur and when characters who have wronged our nurse protagonist start getting killed off, it’s no secret who is responsible.

The cast on a whole is rather bland in this one despite the almost 80s hairstyles which are rather fun to witness, and despite the ravings of Robert Helpmann’s (from The Red Shoes and Tales of Hoffmann) head doctor — who at one point munches down some frog intestines — and the stern mother-superior attitude of the head matron (Julia Blake) who ends up a crispy critter.

The effects are very low-budget, the thrills minimal and obvious, and the villain/heavy is immobile. Perhaps the only neat thing was when the nurse and Patrick communicate via typewriter.

In any case, not the best psychic thriller out there (Carrie and The Fury still top my list). And I would stick to director Richard Franklin’s later effort, Psycho II.

* star.

With the release of the Saw V, I try and catch up with a review of Saw IV, though my expectations are quite low since I haven’t enjoyed the series at all so far. That’s my caveat.

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Here Comes The Bride — Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

October 27, 2008

CORPSE BRIDE (2005)
d. Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

This movie is a very charming animated tale of Victor (Johnny Depp), a sensitive young man, who is to wed Victoria (Emily Watson) in an arranged marriage according to the ambitious plans of their respective parents. However, in practicing his wedding vows, he accidentally marries a corpse (Helena Bonham Carter).

For those familiar with A Nightmare Before Christmas, this movie has a very similar look and tone, thanks to Tim Burton’s vision and Danny Elfman’s score and songs. It’s not long before ghoulish visual and lingual puns are slung about in an amusing manner.

The animation is top notch — it’s breathtaking to see stop-motion wind, flame and water effects and the character movements are extremely smooth. The designs are also very unique and fun to admire. And the assembled cast all have great bits (my favorite extra on the disc shows an assemblage of the actors voicing their characters — a great peek into the process of animation).

The story-line is predictable to be honest, but the last half hour rewards when the world of the dead mingles with the world of the living and the action ratchets up a notch. Otherwise, a harmless movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome and includes some touching moments. My favorite part is when Emily dissolves into butterflies. Very nice.

**1/2 stars.

Next up, Patrick!

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G.I. Joe — Wave 10 (pt.1: MOC)

October 24, 2008

These guys are coming fast and furious. Waves 11 & 12 are even coming into online retailers in the next two weeks, and comic pack Wave 6 is coming next week. My poor wallet! Figure reviews coming soon.

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“What? We Were Twins In Our Past Lives?” — The Boxer’s Omen

October 24, 2008

THE BOXER’S OMEN (1983)
d. Chih-Hung Kwei

This film is absolutely bug-nuts. It’s wall-to-wall craziness like the bastard offspring of Jodorowsky and early Sam Raimi.

But I Look Nothing Like You!

But I Look Nothing Like You!

The first thing to catch me off guard when watching this film is that it is a Shaw Brothers film. The same Shaw Brothers that made Saturday afternoons so much fun to stay home and who gave us many excellent kung-fu flicks Shaw Brothers. It seems that in the 80s they turned their attention to the fantasy/horror genre and would occasionally spice things up with, oh, full frontal female nudity.

Much like a Jodorowsky film, Boxer’s Omen is such a grab-bag narrative that you trying to make sense of it all is an exercise in futility. It also treats Buddhism and religious themes rather seriously if in a fantastical manner. Finally, like Jodorowsky, this film is packed with intense visuals many of which are truly memorable.

What I could gather is that the Hung, brother of a boxer whose neck is broken during a match attempts to gain revenge on the Thai mobsters responsible; enter the monk. Yep, his revenge quest takes a major sidetrack when a ghostly monk appears urging Hung to seek him out. Hung ends up traveling to a Buddhist temple where he discovers that he was the twin brother of a mummified monk in a previous life (!). And that’s just a taste of the craziness to come. The mummified monk tasks Hung with defeating the evil sorceror that has prevented him (the monk) from achieving immortality. Hung, of course, doesn’t believe him until he pukes up an eel into his sink.

So for the next half an hour, we are treated to Hung’s training montage as he becomes a monk in order to duel a wacked out sorceror in glam pajamas who commands fake bats that emerge from the skulls of crocodiles. Oh, yeah! And the best part is when the glam magician decapitates himself so his head can attack Hung with its veins! Yeahbuhwha!! The filmmakers must have seen The Thing, it’s eerily reminiscent.

Black Magicians Always Up On Latest Styles

Black Magicians Always Up On Latest Styles

After a psychedelic battle ensues, Hung returns to Hong Kong only to immediately break his Buddhist vows by getting it on with his hot girlfriend, and picking up the boxer/mobster storyline which climaxes in a harrowing fight that is almost ruined by the resurrection of the glam sorceror.

And this is no ordinary resurrection. Three other fashion-victim sorcerors (whose symbols echo the Deadly Venoms (Spider, Centipede and Lizard) — wink wink ) enact the grossest ritual ever committed to film.

First they gut a crocodile (pretty sure it’s fake) and then sew a corpse into its empty gut. Then one guy chomps into chicken entrails covered with squirming maggots and then chases it down with gobs of Durian, that crap-smelling fruit. He then regurgitates it for the next guy to chow down on and add a ripe banana rind to. Who then regurgitates that for the next guy until all three leave a putrid looking mess onto a platter. They then cut the corpse out of the crocodile and wash the worms off to reveal a fully nekkid lady that they then proceed to force feed their masticated dinner. Yowza!

Needless to say, Hung, in a weakened state from breaking his vows, now has to travel to Nepal to retrieve the Golden Ashes in order to save himself and help his mummified twin brother become immortal. It is during this attempt that he has a final confrontation with the lady sorceror and her detachable claw hands.

So yeah, this film has to be seen to be believed, it is beyond out there; and I get the feeling that this film may have been typical for its genre. (The more contemporary Art of the Devil 2 deals with similar supernatural/horror themes so it most certainly is also a cultural thing.) The gore looks cheap and fake, but the ideas are extremely effective and imaginative, and being a supernatural film of the 80s, you can expect a lot of neon colored laser lights.

**1/2 stars for the sheer audacious nature of this film. It’s not great at all, but it is mesmerizing.

So while I still wait for the arrival of Patrick, I will most likely have Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride up next for review.