Friday, April 24, 2015
Everyone seems to be in the camp of “OMG the “Deadpool” movie is gonna be so fucking amazing!” Fans have good reason to be optimistic about this X-Men-related film…while I tend to be cautiously optimistic about it. My reasons being that the character itself, and the actor playing him, causes a bit of a concern.
Now before you all jump down my throat about it, let’s look at a few things. The character of Deadpool himself, when written and used correctly, is a great character. When he’s written poorly, well…he’s just another annoyingly talky and confusing amalgamation of ideas from the 80s/90s era that hasn’t aged all that well. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been comic book writers like Daniel Way, Fabian Nicieza, and Rick Remender that have totally nailed what the character is all about, but for as many writers that “get” Deadpool, there’s an equal amount that don’t. Combine that with a screenwriter that may or may not “get” the character, and that doesn’t sound too well and good does it?
Next is the actor playing him. I have a dislike for Ryan Reynolds for a lot of reasons, but mostly because he’s a one trick pony. Any movie I see him in, no matter who he’s playing, he’s Ryan Reynolds. He never comes off as believable in anything to me…like ever. He’s good comic relief in a supporting role, but as a lead…meh. Remember the “Green Lantern” movie? Now granted that whole abortion wasn’t totally his fault, but he didn’t help matters either. How many shitty X-Men movies have there been now? With every shitty one, we always shit all over it, but we never shit on the performance of say, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Why? Because no matter how bad the movie is, he’s still great in the role. “Green Lantern” was a shit movie, helped made shittier by Reynolds’ performance as Hal Jordan. Now maybe it’s a bad comparison because Hal definitely isn’t the smart ass motormouth that Deadpool is, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are plenty of other candidates for the role that could have been better. How about Sam Rockwell as Deadpool? That would be tits.
One good thing about “Deadpool” that compared to other X-Men movies, the film is fairly low budget. That’s a good sign that Fox won’t interfere with it like they have with the other X-Men flicks in the past. Remember: the bigger the budget, the more a major studio will interfere with it. So that in itself is a good sign. What isn’t a good sign to me is his costume. Now I know, “it looks just like it does in the comics”, and yes it certainly does…which to me is why it looks like an above average cosplay. The suit just looks too, for lack of a better word, fake to me. This is really only a minor complaint honestly, since there will probably be some post-production trickery done with it, which tends to happen with movies like this all the time.
Now I’m not forecasting all doom and gloom here about “Deadpool”. After that test footage was “leaked” a while back that got this whole ball rolling (finally), I was happy to hear that it was happening, R rating or not. If the film has the right talent behind the camera (which it might, it might not, it’s honestly too soon to tell), it might be really fucking good.
If it doesn’t, it’ll be another shitty comic book to film adaptation in Ryan Reynolds’ filmography that also includes “Green Lantern”, “Blade: Trinity”, “R.I.P.D.”, and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. I think I missed one or two others, but I’m too lazy to look it up on IMDB, so fuck it.
Here’s hoping I’m wrong.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Horror and comic books go hand in hand. From the early days of EC Comics to the modern titles published by lines like Vertigo and Dark Horse, horror comics come only second to superheroes in terms of what has had the most impact on the comic medium since its inception. Of course, for this fucking guy, horror comics are a way of fucking life. What are the best ones though? The ones that make your skin crawl? The ones that manage to stay with you long after you view the final panels of what you're reading? Well, here we go again.
I want to state first and foremost that this list I shit out here for your reading enjoyment does not include any of the classic EC titles or other horror comics from that classic era. So no, there's no "Tales from the Crypt", "Vault of Horror", "Creepy", "Eerie", or any of their contemporaries. The reason I didn't include them is because they are all anthology titles. Now don't get me wrong; they're all fucking great and have their place in history, but I couldn't include them here because ranking them in terms of what's better than another is fucking impossible. So instead, I'm focusing here on titles that were ongoing storylines.
Some titles didn't make the cut, like any of the Dylan Dog tales, Mike Carey's "Lucifer", or Jason Aaron's spectacular run on "Ghost Rider" from a few years back. I also debated putting "Spawn" somewhere on this list, but upon going back and re-reading the first run of issues, I realized that it honestly wasn't that good to begin with. Keeping all that in mind, I'm anticipating another lynch mob at the gates for my ass, so I'm just gonna say fuck it and dive into this balls deep and without protection...the way a real man does it. So here's my top 10 horror comics to scare the holy living fucking shit straight outta your ass. I apologize for nothing.
10. FROM HELL
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Eddie Campbell
Chances are you know this one relatively well. "From Hell" was originally serialized from the late 80s to the early 90s before finding mass success as a collected edition and inspiring a half decent movie starring Johnny Depp in 2001. "From Hell" is Alan Moore's take on the Jack the Ripper murders being a mass conspiracy driven by the royal family. Loaded with many themes that often re-appear throughout Moore's work (and this will not be the only entry on this list to come from the man) as well as musings of the metaphysical and featuring stark artwork from Eddie Campbell, "From Hell" is a dense read, but worth checking out regardless. The story itself isn't filled with scares or even too much suspense, but the fact that this is based on the actual murders and uses nearly every fact associated with each case to its advantage is what helps make it as haunting as it is.
9. TOMB OF DRACULA
Artist: Gene Colan
In the early 70s, the Comics Code started chilling out a bit in terms of restricted content of horror and supernatural material appearing in comic books, so Marvel birthed this fan favorite in 1972. Featuring a revolving door of writers (including Gerry Conway, Arthur Goodwin, and Gardner Fox) until Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths) finally settled in full time, "Tomb of Dracula" mostly followed the exploits of Frank Drake: a descendant of Dracula who teams with a group of vampire hunters to take on the evil vampire master himself in the modern day. When Wolfman finally settled into the title and began steering it in the right direction, "Tomb of Dracula" became a total blasts. It ran for 70 issues and was always drawn by the late, great Gene Colan with covers by the great Gil Kane. This series is also notable for introducing the vampire hunter Blade, who was very far from being the half-breed daywalker that was popularized by the Wesley Snipes movies.
8. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Ben Templesmith
Before it spawned a horde of sequels and spin-offs and inspired a surprisingly good big screen film adaptation (and a shitty direct to DVD sequel), the original "30 Days of Night" was originally pitched as a film itself, and wasn't received well. Instead it was released as a 3-issue mini-series from IDW, and put both Niles and Templesmith on the map in the comic book world. It's an ingenious plot, as a group of vampires descend upon a sleepy Alaskan town during a part of winter where there's no sun for 30 days. It's a survival tale as the remaining residents of the town contend with the vamps, made all the better with the wonderful, visceral artwork of Ben Templesmith.
7. BLACK HOLE
Writer & Artist: Charles Burns
A 12-issue mini-series published sporadically over a decade, Charles Burns' "Black Hole" takes place in 1970s Seattle, revolving around a group of teenagers afflicted with a sexually transmitted disease that causes severely grotesque mutations. Thus becoming social outcasts, we see their respective fates as illustrated by Burns' beautiful black & white artwork that often borderlines realism and surreal horror. Loaded with metaphor and symbolism, "Black Hole" is a true work of art, and it will stay with you long after you finish it.
6. THE WALKING DEAD
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore (1-6), Charlie Adlard (7-current)
Before it was a hit show that spawned hordes of video games, merchandise, and an upcoming spin-off, "The Walking Dead" was a simple comic book about survival in a zombie-infested world that draws heavily on the works of George Romero. It mostly revolves around cop Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to find that the world he knew is gone and overrun with the undead. Eventually he finds his wife and son, and from that point forward we begin to learn that the worst part about trying to survive in this new world isn't the zombies, it's the survivors and what the world around them has turned them into. Granted I personally feel that the series has overstayed its welcome (it has been going strong since 2003 without missing a beat), that doesn't negate from the fact that "The Walking Dead" has left its mark as the best zombie-based comic series ever.
Writer & Artist: Mike Mignola (and sometimes various others)
He's the world's greatest paranormal investigator...and he's a demon summoned from Hell that has a gruff sense of humor. Mike Mignola's various series starring the titular character combine gothic, Lovecraft-ian horror elements with pulp and dry humor; which combined has always made anything starring Hellboy such a total blast. Not to mention that Mignola's artwork has become so iconic in terms of his style and character designs that it often proves difficult to look at "Hellboy" art not drawn by the man...there's just no comparison.
4. SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: John Totleben (mostly)
One of the most revered works by Alan Moore, "Saga of the Swamp Thing" sees Moore totally revamp the DC Comics character. Given nearly total free reign (in the beginning anyway), Moore re-tools Swamp Thing's origin, making him more beast than man, and adding a whole new mythology to the character that would continue to be kept (mostly) as canon. The Parliament of Trees, the Green, and even John fucking Constantine would be introduced during Moore's prolific run, which combined existentialism and outright horror to beautiful effect. No take on the character to come in the years since has had the impact that Moore's has had, and it will probably never be topped either.
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Steve Dillon
There isn't much I can say about "Preacher" that hasn't been said plenty of times. One of the Vertigo line's most famous ongoing series to ever be featured on the imprint, "Preacher" is the perfect mix of hardcore horror, pitch black humor, and a handful of some of the best and well-developed characters to ever be seen in comic books. Jesse Custer is a Texan preacher with a very shady background who, along with his gun-toting girlfriend Tulip and Irish vampire Cassidy, travel all across America in an effort to search for God. No, not in a spiritual sense: God has abandoned the throne out of fear and gone into hiding, and Jesse (inhabited by the offspring of an angel and a demon) is on a mission to find him and get some answers. I could talk about "Preacher" for hours on end. It's perfect and was one of the comics that got me back into comics when I was older. Check it out and thank me later.
Various writers & artists
Alan Moore created John Constantine, and in the late 80s he got his own ongoing series. The chain-smoking master of bad luck black magic, "Hellblazer" stars Constantine and doesn't always present him in the most flattering of ways. In fact, he's kind of a dick. That being said, he does the right thing when he has to, even if he has to use his friends and loved ones as pawns in his schemes and struggles with evil. Jamie Delano was the initial writer of the series, and gave Constantine much of his backstory as well. Future writers to tackle the character into even greater effect included Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Brian Azzarello, Warren Ellis, Andy Diggle and Mike Carey among others, with artists including Steve Dillon, Sean Phillips, David Lloyd, and the legendary Richard Corben as well. Running for 300 issues before coming to its conclusion in 2013, "Hellblazer" was Vertigo's longest running flagship title, and is one of the most revered comic book series' of all time.
1. THE SANDMAN
Writer: Neil Gaiman
You didn't think it'd be anything else did you? Neil Gaiman's seminal "The Sandman" is regarded as being one of the best comic books, well, ever...and for good reason too. The story of "The Sandman" revolves around Dream of The Endless, also known as Morpheus, and his interactions with the denizens of the spiritual world, and the physical world as well. There's much more to the story than that of course, but to be perfectly honest, I myself have never actually read "The Sandman" in its entirety. Not because I haven't wanted to, I've just never been given the opportunity to. What I have read however, trust me...all I can say is that one day I hope to finally get the chance. Throughout its run, many prominent DC Comics characters would appear, including John Constantine, Etrigan the Demon, and even Martian Manhunter to name a few, but no matter who would get thrown into the mix, "The Sandman" remained satisfying psychological, and occasionally visceral, comic book horror. It spawned spin-offs and even birthed some characters that would go on to prominent appearances outside the main title, most notably being Death, who is represented here as being a super cute and somewhat quirky goth girl. Oh, and if you're like me and slacking on reading the whole thing beginning to end, I recommend checking out the sixth issue (in the first volume "Preludes & Nocturnes"), in which psychotic Justice League villain Doctor Destiny uses his power to make a group of random people in a diner do horrible things to themselves and each other. This alone is one of the absolute best horror stories ever printed in a comic. No bullshit.
Well, that's all for now. So what'd y'all think? Did I forget a bunch? Do you not agree? Am I a piece of shit for never reading "The Sandman" in its entirety? Who cares? If you haven't read any of these, go fucking do it. You're doing yourself a disservice by not at least giving these a look.
Friday, April 17, 2015
We all know who Nicolas Cage is. He’s the batshit crazy actor that will literally star in anything that provides him with a decent paycheck. Well, maybe at this point it’s only half decent. I mean seriously, have you heard about the things this guy has spent his millions on? Comic books, dinosaur bones, A MOTHERFUCKING ISLAND?!?!?!?! After losing and spending so much cash over the years, it’s easy to see why he’d sign on to anything that offers him enough money. Studios and directors still seek to employ him, namely because his batshit performances have just escalated so much in terms of pure batshit-ness that it becomes ridiculously funny. I mean we’ve all seen those clips from that shit-sucking remake of “The Wicker Man” (“NOT THE BEES!!!!!!!!”), so we already have an idea of what to expect from the actor whenever we’re about to watch him in a movie.
But the one thing everyone seems to forget about Nick Cage is that once upon a time, he was a highly respected and regarded actor that had a string of critical and commercial successes that made him an A-list heavyweight. And every now and then, some director will see just what Cage has to truly offer as a performer and cast him in something that really uses his talents wonderfully. The most recent example I can think of offhand is a little film called “Joe”. The film stars Cage as an ex-con forest worker that becomes an unlikely role model for a suffering teenage boy. Without giving too much away, Cage is wonderful in the role. He’s so subdued and relatively melancholy in his performance that if you’d watch any of his shit-fests such as the “Ghost Rider” flicks or “Gone in 60 Seconds” you’d swear that this wasn’t really the same actor. Or that he dropped a bunch of Quaaludes before filming commenced. Either way, he’s awesome in the role. It’s almost a throwback to those performances he gave in “Leaving Las Vegas” or “Adaptation”; where he puts all he has into the performances without doing the Cage-shtick and he just becomes magnetic to watch.
Another recently acclaimed flick he did was Werner Herzog’s “re-working” of “Bad Lieutenant”. Now granted, Cage does dive into his shtick a bit in it, but it actually manages to work really fucking well. The film itself isn’t necessarily for everyone, but he’s magnificent in it. That’s mainly because he has a great director calling his shots. Actors in general have to put a lot of faith into their directors in terms of their overall performance. That’s why you’ll see Cage reminding us that once upon a time he was THE SHIT in films like “Bad Lieutenant” and “Joe”, whereas his performances in “Ghost Rider”, “Wicker Man”, and many others are just PURE SHIT. Yes, the THE makes all the difference.
With all the memes, YouTube montages, and jokes made at his expense, Cage remains one of my favorite actors regardless. Yes, I’ve suffered through my fair amount of shit because of my admiration for him, but every now and then when you dig in that shit deep and hard enough, you find an occasional gem among the turds. With that in mind, go watch “Joe”, and think to yourself afterwards (and during) “where the fuck has this guy been all this time?”
This blog is not sponsored by Nicolas Cage in any way, shape, or form.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Remember when having a comic book-based TV show was so rare? Back in my youth, they were either absolutely terrible and didn't last long ("The Night Man") or were absolutely terrible and lasted forever ("Smallville"). Either way, we didn't get many of them. Most of the ones we did get really had little to nothing to do with their comic book counterparts, which made viewing them straight from the beginning a chore, but we watched them anyway...because there were just so fucking few.
Fast forward to 2015, and now it feels like every show on TV is based on a comic book series or character. Just between the past couple years up till now, we've had "The Walking Dead", "Arrow", "Flash", "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", "Agent Carter", "Constantine", "Gotham", "iZombie" (which I had no idea was a comic), and I think there were more besides but right now I'm too lazy to look it up. All shows range in quality from melodramatic to boring to enjoyable, but all have either been around for more than one season or are already renewed (save for "Constantine", which is undoubtedly the best of that whole bunch, and will more than likely be cancelled...but that's a story for another day). There's more comic based shows on the horizon, including "Supergirl", a spin off of "Walking Dead", a possible spin off of "S.H.I.E.L.D.", another DC-based show in the same universe as "Arrow" and "Flash", some untitled show about planet Krypton (yes you read that right), an adaptation of "Preacher", and a show based on "Lucifer" (?!). Netflix is offering up a bunch of Marvel-based shows, most recently with "Daredevil", which made people's heads explode apparently (granted it is really damn good), and upcoming shows based on Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist; before all four characters team up as the Defenders eventually.
Now for some characters and concepts, having a TV show instead of full blown movies is actually better. It makes for writers getting the time to flesh characters out, and it doesn't make the viewer feel like the creators aren't in a mad dash to get to the end credits. I mean after all, these shows are based on comic books, why not have them adapted into a visual medium that allows for episodic and serialized content, so it should work perfectly right?
Well, sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't.
While binge-watching "Daredevil", I noticed the episode count is 13. Having that many (or few) episodes to a season is perfect. Not once throughout this season did it feel like there was any filler thrown into the show to pad it out. Every episode felt concise and meaningful to the overall arc, while still managing to plant seeds for future Marvel Netflix shows (or maybe even future seasons of "Daredevil"). "The Walking Dead", despite its faults, still manages to mostly keep their seasons concise and to the point as well. Granted they split the season in half, which would drive me crazy back when I actually did watch the show, but no matter its faults, it still managed to keep viewers interested, mostly because it's less than 20 episodes per season.
Now those shows manage to get away with having seasons of that length because they're either part of a subscription-based streaming service or on cable TV. Shows like "Arrow", "Flash", and "S.H.I.E.L.D." are all on network TV, and hence have 20-some episodes per season. Now when you have seasons that long, chances are they get padded out with a lot of filler to keep the episode counts so high. This is the first season of "Flash", which so far hasn't felt like it's had too much filler thrown into it, while "Arrow" and "S.H.I.E.L.D." feel so drawn out that it becomes a chore to slog through 20-some episodes and you pray to yourself that the season will conclude. Not to mention the fact the overall storyarcs for both shows has been all over the place and it feels like each season of the show is 3 years long. It makes the viewer lose interest...which is happening to me. I'm looking forward to the finales of both shows this season, and pondering whether or not I'll be back for the next go-around ("Arrow" probably, "S.H.I.E.L.D." doubtful).
At least in comic books, when a storyarc seems to go on forever with padding and filler thrown into it, once we get the overall payoff, it feels good to get there. With a TV show, not so much. With comics, it's just one more thing that the medium manages to pull off that another medium cannot do, which is why comics get mined by TV producers every single day these days. I'd rather read a year or two's worth of a comic storyarc than sit through 20-some plus episodes of a comic-based TV show any day of the fucking week. Keeping shows like this at 13 episodes makes things more concise and enjoyable...and keeps the viewers salivating for more to come.
Oh, and there's way too many of these shows popping up now. Having a show based on Krypton is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. It'd be like having a show about Batman with no Batman and using his whole rogues gallery to no avail...oh wait.
I guess the point to all this was to tell you guys to stick with comics. TV rots your brain. Ya know what? Don't watch TV at all. Read comics and fuck a lot. Believe it or not you can fit time in your life for both.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
It seems like the amount of hate that this new, rebooted "Fantastic Four" movie is getting is unprecedented. I've honestly never seen or heard so much geek anger directed at a movie like this...well, I think ever. Why though? Are there people that consider the FF films that came out a decade ago classics? Hardly. That being said, getting to the bottom of the pissing and moaning about the new FF movie makes for some interesting discoveries.
First and foremost, the news that came out during pre-production that the film's director told his cast not to bother reading any FF comics for research. Then there was news that Dr. Doom would be a lame blogger. Then there was news that they were changing the race of the Human Torch from Caucasian to black. And blah, blah, blah. For months, people have been bitching, which they are well-within their rights to do, but everything I just listed seems to be what people are bitching about the most. My only question about all that is one thing:
I mean don't get me wrong, the movie will probably be a piece of shit (but in all reality, can it really be any fucking worse than the two cinematic abortions that came out last decade?), but if it is, it won't be because of all that. With those changes in mind, let's look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the main reasons the fanboys have been crying is because the film rights to the Fantastic Four are still owned by Fox (which also owns the film rights for X-Men and has for a very long time) and thus you will not see them teamed up with Iron Man, Captain America, etc. That in itself has plenty to do with sending fanboys into fits, but it isn't the core truth. The core truth of the matter as to why people are pissing on FF is because they have become so blinded to the idea that Marvel can do no wrong that they don't want to see any other studio take on a Marvel property.
Now why have people become so enamored with everything Marvel like never before? Well, they've made a fuck-ton of money and managed to successfully craft a shared movie universe without it becoming too stale. It's impressive no doubt, but in the years since 2008's "Iron Man", which started the whole thing, people go nuts over anything Marvel-related...to a fault. For example: there's a super amount of people that think "Iron Man 2" was perfect and "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is the best show on TV. Does that sound like anyone you'd actually want to have a conversation with about anything? Fuck no.
What I'm getting at here (or trying to) is that Marvel made a lot of changes in their films like the new FF movie is doing, and every single fanboy applauded them. Make Nick Fury black? Sure! (and yes, I know his race was changed in Mark Millar's "Ultimates" series in the early 2000s, doesn't change matters here). Make a character that had a one panel appearance into a major super villain(Killian in "Iron Man 3") while introducing a big twist? Ok awesome! (mostly). Take a bunch of D-list characters with sketchy backgrounds and throw them into a blender in an outer-space odyssey that bears damn little to nearly anything they've done in comics prior? OMG MARVEL YOU'RE SO BRILLIANT!
Now please don't get me wrong, most of the Marvel movies have been super enjoyable...just not the greatest things in the history of mankind like most of the fanboys would have you believe. Here's a quick list of them all:
"Iron Man"? Great.
"Incredible Hulk"? Underrated.
"Iron Man 2"? Nothing more than a springboard for introducing other characters.
"Captain America: The First Avenger"? Wonderful
"Avengers"? Mega-enjoyable, but nowhere near the perfect superhero movie that everyone thought it was.
"Iron Man 3"? Received a fair amount of flack for its twist, but eventually almost universally applauded, even though it took a major villain and made him a red herring alcoholic character actor.
"Thor: The Dark World"? Yawn-inducing.
"Captain America: The Winter Soldier"? The best Marvel movie yet, because it doesn't feel like a Marvel movie.
"Guardians of the Galaxy"? Immensely enjoyable, but definitely not the masterpiece that everyone was raving about FOR MONTHS.
The point is all these Marvel films made their own changes to comic book canon, and were practically all universally praised for it...because they come from Marvel's film division. Fox's "Fantastic Four" makes similar changes, and gets shit thrown at it...because it isn't from Marvel. If it was a Marvel Films Production, everyone would be saying how smart these changes are and come up with reasoning probably using the words and phrases like "modernizing" and "making it all more relatable to the audience" or some bullshit.
In your heart of hearts, you all know that this is all true. Don't deny it.
And yeah, like I said before, no matter what "Fantastic Four" will more than likely blow ass...but I hope it makes a shit load of money, just so the fanboys can keep crying. Their tears give me power and strength.
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Anyone here watch "Gotham"? Have any of you ever watched it? Or have some of you checked it out and eventually gave up? Or, if you're like me, you're sticking it out until the season concludes at least...not because I'm a masochist, but because part of me enjoys live-action train wrecks and when I check a show out I usually give it a full season before I decide to totally say fuck it.
In the case of "Gotham", I've come so close to prematurely pulling out (that wasn't written like that on purpose I swear) that I often wonder why I still continue to sit through it. I mean I've seen some shitty comic-based TV shows before, but "Gotham" may be the worst of the bunch. It makes "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." look like fucking "Casablanca", which in itself should tell you everything you need to know about "Gotham" if you've never seen it and have been the least bit curious about it.
For me, the biggest flaw of the show isn't necessarily its whole "Batman without Batman" style, it's the whole idea that Batman's whole rogues gallery was already at large way before Batman even showed up. That, and some flat out terrible writing that seems to cater more towards viewers that have little to no knowledge of anything Batman-related. We're 18 episodes in of the show's first season, and so far to some degree or another, we've met future Batman villains Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, Joker (don't get me started on that episode), Scarecrow, Hush, Poison Ivy, Black Mask, Mr. Zsasz, Dollmaker, and Two-Face among others. Not to mention that we've had mention of the Venom juice that will one day help Bane become a roided up powerhouse, the reclassification of Dr. Leslie Tompkins from trusted Wayne ally to one-dimensional love interest to Jim Gordon, a pointless appearance from the future parents of Dick Grayson, and character motivations that are so paper-thin that you end up becoming left to wonder if Batman really could save this city from itself in the future.
But the one thing that irks me about "Gotham" the most, the one single thing that really ruins this whole shitfest excuse of a TV show for me personally is something that some if not most of you will probably find as being the least consequential: making the murder of the Wayne family part of some corporate conspiracy. Now I saw this "plot twist" coming a mile away since the pilot episode, and now that it's been confirmed that Gotham City is so fucking dirty that a mega-conglomerate company's board of directors would conspire to kill its CEO and wife, it makes my head want to explode.
Why you ask? Because taking the murder of the Wayne's and changing it from a tragic event into something that's part of a conspiracy ruins the whole aspect of Batman in itself. The randomness of what happens to Bruce's parents is the true tragedy because it is directly responsible for him becoming Batman when he grows up. The random senselessness of it all puts Bruce on a mission that is never-ending: fighting crime. The same thing applies to The Punisher as well. Any media where Frank Castle's family is killed by anything other than a random event is the absolute wrong thing to do. When you take away the randomness of the act that sets these characters into becoming what they are, you take away the true tragedy of the event, and what happens after when they dedicate the rest of their lives to being violent vigilantes.
In that aspect alone, "Gotham" is a failure.
In other aspects, the show is still a failure. Do we need to see a young Riddler that somehow works for the police and is two steps away from being a date-rapist? Do we need to see a young Penguin that acts more like the fucking Joker than any of us could possibly imagine Penguin to be? In all honesty are there any characters on this show we give a shit about? Harvey Bullock is the morally flexible dirty cop that did a complete 180 from wanting to kill Gordon to wanting to help him with no explanation ever given. Gordon himself is a total asshole that we already know will never make a difference on his own, because the police department doesn't get cleaned up (nor does the city) until Batman begins appearing, so we have no reason to root for him at all. Young Bruce is annoying as hell, young Catwoman is too but at least her stories tend to be somewhat interesting, while beleaguered butler Alfred is probably the only character on the show I give two shits about. The whole mob angles with Fish Mooney, Carmine Falcone, and Sal Maroni is a bore...although for no reason we got to see Jeffrey "Re-Animator" Combs get turned into a woman. Yes, you read that sentence right.
I remember reading that there was a pitch about a "Batman without Batman"-type show revolving around Gordon and other GCPD cops...only this would take place while Batman is in his prime. We'd follow various cops living in this world as they deal with street-level crime that Batman can't always be around to stop, sort of like the "Gotham Central" comic series that was pretty good from what I recall. Seeing this in TV form would have at least been much more interesting than anything "Gotham" has had to offer thus far, that's for damn sure. But alas, this is what we got instead, and it looks like Fox is going to keep pimping this show for quite some time.
I know I've been doing nothing but shitting all over "Gotham" throughout this whole thing, but there is maybe one thing that can be done to save this from being a pointless cavalcade of colon-cleansed fecal matter: writing baby Bruce out of the show.
Just think about it: Bruce decides it's best for him to leave Gotham City for a long while, and he departs and we don't see him for some time. The whole sub-plot with his family's company is left in the rear-view mirror, and Gordon, Bullock, etc. are left to contend with day-to-day life in the crime infested world of Gotham City. Maybe time flies in a season or two and they jump ahead a few years. Then when maybe they get ready to wrap the show up, Bruce comes back home all grown up and educated in what makes criminals a superstitious and cowardly lot. Gordon comes to the conclusion that no matter what he does to try to make the city and the police department a better place, he's just one man in a sea of corruption and he can't do it all alone anymore. Bruce sits in his father's study at night pondering his next move and how to strike fear into the heart of the criminal underworld...when a bat comes crashing through the glass window into his face.
"Yes father, I shall become a bat..."
End of show. It would be a perfect conclusion.
In one paragraph I just put more thought into the series as a whole than a whole team of writers has in one season. You're welcome Fox. I'm available for script work whenever you need me.
Friday, April 3, 2015
The "Evil Dead" franchise has always had a special place in my heart. I first came across it in my youth, and actually viewed all three films backwards throughout the years. When I was young, I caught "Army of Darkness" on TV. I had no idea what it was about, but I loved the cheesy effects and Bruce Campbell's overacting. Plus, it was goddamn funny.
When I started getting into the horror genre, I re-discovered that film, plus the first two films before it. I managed to find a VHS copy of "Evil Dead II" at my local video store and gave it a watch. I fucking loved it. To this day it remains my favorite of the series. Eventually I found a VHS copy of the first film (at Wal-Mart of all places) for dirt cheap and picked it up. Compared to the second and third films, the original "Evil Dead" is no holds barred horror that makes surprising use of its miniscule budget to great effect.
Fast forward to now. The "Evil Dead" franchise is viewed as a classic series, and has spawned hordes of merchandise, video games, multiple special edition DVD releases, and even a remake that surprisingly wasn't the abortion we all thought it would be. The remake made a whore-load of money, making a sequel to said remake all the more likely. Not to mention the post-credits cameo from Bruce fucking Campbell, which led to Campbell and Sam Raimi himself stating that there would be a sequel to the remake, plus an "Army of Darkness 2", which would both then converge into a final film starring Ash and the heroine from the remake whose name I don't remember and I'm just too fucking lazy to go to IMDB or Wikipedia to look it up.
Those films never happened.
Now the fact that they never happened really isn't much of a surprise to us fans that have heard false promises of another "Evil Dead" movie for years, but what did come as a surprise is that there's going to be a cable TV series called "Ash VS The Evil Dead" starring Bruce and produced by Raimi.
The initial news of this made me cum harder than a priest watching a Little League game.
Then after I cleaned myself up, I realized that this is probably going to be terrible.
Now don't get me wrong, I fucking love everything "Evil Dead", and anything that gives Bruce Campbell a steady paycheck I am all fucking for, but the "Evil Dead" franchise is one of those things I think should just be left the fuck alone. How are you going to have a weekly series with the same cast of characters (maybe?) finding themselves in trouble with the Necronomicon? Are we going to get multiple seasons of the same old shit? Unless it gets cancelled after one that is. Maybe if it was an anthology series, kind of like "Tales From the Crypt" with Ash as the host/guide it could be interesting, but honestly I just really don't see "Evil Dead" being turned into a serialized TV show working out well.
Now thinking about all this got me thinking about other dumb ass bullshit revivals. And that's what "Ash VS The Evil Dead" is: a revival for fans who have worshipped it for years, and is being revived to try to possibly squeeze some more cash out of it. Look at what's been revived over the past couple years: we have new "Star Wars" movies on the horizon, we got a sequel to "Dumb & Dumber" that was 20 years too late, we're getting a sequel to "Super Troopers" over a decade after it came out, and for some reason we're getting more "Ghostbusters" movies too. Not to mention the fact that TV show wise, we've seen "Arrested Development" brought back from the dead, we're getting "The X-Files" resurrected as well, and for the love of fucking sweet Satan we're getting some kind of follow-up to fucking "Full House". WHO THE FUCK WAS PINING FOR A SEQUEL SERIES TO FUCKING "FULL HOUSE"?!?!?!?!?!?
Producers and studio executives are counting on our fond memories of movies and TV shows that we love and have loved for years to make a little extra cash out of them however the hell they can, and we fall for it. We always fall for it. Because we love this shit so much. Then we fall for it, and we wind up being disappointed by it, and we pretend that we're surprised by how much it sucks now...even though in the back of our heads we always fucking knew that this was going to be shit, and said shit product has tarnished our memories of what we've loved forever more. When we think about the awesomeness of "Ghostbusters" or "X-Files", we'll have fond memories of course, but there will be that thought that pops in your head at the end of "oh shit, they brought it back and it was fucking terrible. Who the fuck thought that was a good idea?"
And goddammit, that's what I'm afraid is going to happen to my beloved "Evil Dead". I hope I wind up being totally wrong. In fact, I hope that I'm dead wrong and this show has a decent run that satisfies its fan base in most, if not all, aspects that genre fans crave from shit like this. I hope watching it brings a huge smile to my face, because I want shit like this to succeed and keep on going strong...but in my heart of hearts, I know I shouldn't get any kind of hopes up for it being what we all want it to be.
At least Bruce will have a steady paycheck for a while...and really, that's pretty much all that matters here.
Do you like shitty movies? Who doesn't am I right? Well, there's different brands of shitty movies. There's shitty movies that are processed and pumped out at exponential rates all the for the sake of making money like "Transformers" and most other franchises that make up the heart of mainstream American film culture. Then there's shitty movies that are shitty just because well...because the filmmakers behind them just make them for the sake of getting their names out there and move on to bigger and better things, much like many of the future hall of fame directors that worked under Roger Corman decades ago.
Then finally, there's the kind of shit that gets pumped out by Troma Entertainment. Now when I say that Troma makes pure shit, I don't mean that in a negative way. Far from it. Troma Entertainment makes and distributes films that are one hundred percent true to the heart of real independent cinema. They make the kind of films they want to make: politically incorrect, totally irreverent, loaded with tits and obscene amounts of gore, and purposely terrible acting. They make these films because they genuinely love making them. They don't do them for the sake of box office receipts and toy sales and worldwide grosses, they do them because they fucking can.
Founded and still operated by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz over 40 years ago, Troma Entertainment had a brief run of prominence as a mainstream American movie studio back in the day, before shifting to the direct to video market and independent film circuit. They continue to produce and distribute films to this very day, and have recently revisited some of their old franchise properties for new generations. When I was a young, would-be perverted cinema snob (no, not THAT Cinema Snob), I would catch the "Toxic Avenger" movies and "Class of Nuke Em High" flicks on Cinemax late at night hoping to see boobs. I did see boobs, a lot of boobs...along with melting body parts and a kid getting his head crushed by a car wheel.
Yep...that's Troma...and goddammit, I love them so fucking much. So, I made a list of my Top 10 Troma Movies. This was a moderately hard list to come up with, yet nowhere near as difficult as coming up with the Pre-1960s Horror List I came up with last time around. There were a handful of films that didn't make the cut here, including "Bloodsucking Freaks", "Rabid Grannies", "Surf Nazis Must Die", "Graduation Day", and "Monster in the Closet" among others. "Troma's War", they're big budget attempt at war satire that nearly bankrupted the studio, has not aged well at all and came nowhere near making this list, but I watched it again because why the fuck not?
Anyway, here we are. Bring your barf bags...and possibly lotion.
10. SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. (1990)
Not nearly as beloved as many of the films featured on this list, "Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD" is a glorious clusterfuck of a film. Allegedly conceived while Kaufman and Herz were in Japan, the duo was approached by Namco (the video game company) to create a Japanese-inspired superhero. They even threw a decent amount of money towards Troma to make it happen. Needless to say, Namco was more interested in a family-friendly creation, and the Troma guys were more interested in...well, making it a fucking Troma movie. The end result is an often uneven but still plenty entertaining, even if it manages to all but fall apart by the time the end credits roll.
9. COMBAT SHOCK (1986)
One of the very few films on this list not directed by Lloyd Kaufman (instead by novelist Buddy Giovinazzo, who also wrote the script), "Combat Shock" is far from typical Troma fare. It tells a tale of urban degradation through the eyes of a Vietnam vet living in a squalid New York City with his pregnant wife and deformed, mutant baby. The film is unflinching in its violence and portrayal of mental decay. Granted it often walks that line between being unintentionally funny and full on heartfelt, "Combat Shock" packs a punch, especially at its conclusion. "Taxi Driver" it isn't, but it's still worth seeing for those with strong stomachs.
8. MOTHER'S DAY (1980)
An exploitation film in its truest form, the original "Mother's Day" is something that is an acquired taste to say the least. Three female friends out on a camping trip run afoul of a couple deranged hillbillies, and their even more insane mother. Terrible things happen, to everyone involved. That pretty much sums up "Mother's Day" in a nutshell. What it lacks in technical prowess it makes up for in pure ferocity, and there's some scenes that you'll never forget. This actually received a half decent remake a few years back too.
7. CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL (1993)
I can't say enough about the love I have for this movie. Before they created "South Park", Trey Parker and Matt Stone crafted this gory musical based on the real life cannibal event of Alfred Packer. Well, loosely based. Parker plays Packer (I just re-read that after I typed it and I absolutely love it, say it out loud), who recounts his story of what happened on those fateful days. There's lots of blood, eating body parts, and wonderful musical numbers that were only the beginning of the duo's amazing work to come in the following years with "South Park" and "The Book of Mormon". It sat on the shelf until 1996 when Troma acquired it and distributed it, making it an instant cult classic. It still holds up today and is fucking hilarious.
6. TERROR FIRMER (1999)
This movie is fucking crazy. I can't put it into any other words, it's just fucking insane. A low budget film crew trying to make the ultimate piece of B-movie "art" is stalked and terrorized by a sexually confused serial killer. There's love triangles, orgies, Ron Jeremy in a cage with mutilated genitalia, and cameos and small roles from Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Lemmy from Motorhead, Eli Roth, and that funny crazy broad from "Reno 911". Co-authored by future "Guardians of the Galaxy" director James Gunn, "Terror Firmer" is a blast. It often crosses lines, but sweet fucking Christ, that's what makes it so damn enjoyable.
5. POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD (2006)
This movie is disgusting. I can't put it into much more words than that. It's also a totally fucking hilarious musical with exploding genitals and plenty of offensiveness...and zombies...and sex with food. With all that sickening material, "Poultrygeist" actually manages to pack a little bit of social commentary into it involving the fast food industry and ultra liberalism. Of the modern Troma movies, this is one of the finest...and most gross.
4. TROMEO & JULIET (1996)
Co-written by James Gunn, "Tromeo & Juliet" is regarded as one of Troma's best films...and also one of their filthiest, nastiest, and most hilarious. A modern day, Troma-tized (see what I did there? I'm putting that English degree to good use) take on Romeo & Juliet, this focuses on the warring families of the Capulets and the Ques, and star-crossed lovers Tromeo and Juliet. There's plenty of disgusting material, boobs, blood, and incest: all of which helps make "Tromeo & Juliet" one of the most well-regarded Troma films, not just among die hard fans, but even among mainstream media. The film received a surprising amount of attention and recognition, helped pave the way for James Gunn to have Hollywood success, and boasts a kick ass soundtrack to boot.
3. FATHER'S DAY (2011)
Crafted by the awesome crew of Astron-6, "Father's Day" is a tour-de-force of insanely violent absurdity. A serial rapist/murderer/cannibal named Fuchman is on a rampage, and the only man that can stop him is a one-eyed ass-kicked named Ahab whose own father was slaughtered years prior. It's gross, funnier than hell, boasts the best cameo/small role that Lloyd Kaufman has ever done, and without a doubt one of the absolute best modern day exploitation movies ever made. In fact, you guys should check out everything that Astron-6 has done over the years. Look the m up and thank me later.
2. CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986)
Tromaville High School sits next to a nuclear power plant. Nothing can go wrong right? Smoking some radioactive marijuana leads high school couple Warren and Chrissy into having strange hallucinations, followed by grotesque mutations, leading to a showdown with the deranged gang called the Cretins. Probably one of Troma's most well known movies, "Class of Nuke 'Em High" is tons of fun and almost endlessly enjoyable. The film was followed by two shitty sequels, along with a Kaufman-helmed fourth installment that came out in 2013. This was one of the first Troma movies I ever saw in my youth, thanks Cinemax.
1. THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984)
You didn't think it'd be anything else did you? "The Toxic Avenger" isn't just Troma's flagship film and franchise, it was what put Troma on the map. Most know the story: a geeky janitor gets bullied by a bunch of asshole jocks, culminating in him getting drenched in toxic waste and mutating into the disfigured superhero known as Toxie (even though he's not called Toxie in this film). Super violent for its time (including the infamous scene of a hit and run involving a kid getting his head crushed), "The Toxic Avenger" is everything that defines Troma as an independent studio: filmmakers doing whatever the fuck they want and making the kind of movie they want to make with no punches pulled. The film would spawn three sequels, merchandise, and even an animated series aimed at kids in the early 90s (and yes, it was terrible...although I had my share of action figures from the show). Over 30 years later, the film remains iconic, and its legacy remains unchallenged by anything else from the studio to go and come in the years that followed.
Does any of this sound remotely entertaining to you in the least? If so, you should check these films out and anything else to come from Troma. You'll find some pure shit without a doubt, but that's part of the charm about Troma...you're sure to enjoy yourself one way or the other. If none of this sounds entertaining to you in the least...well, I guess stick with the mainstream everyday bullshit instead. At least that's safe for consumption...Troma definitely isn't.