Friday, July 31, 2015

200TH BLOG SPECTACULAR!! (Not really)

Holy shit.

So this is my 200th blog entry on this fucking thing huh? I really can't believe I've done that many. Granted I started doing this like five fucking years ago, so I'm actually probably kinda long overdue I guess...but sometimes real life gets in the way (and it did and still does) and I just had to step away from this bullshit for a while.

Now that we're here at 200, I think that this is the time to do some reflection...mostly at what things are becoming currently here, and what I want them to become in the long term. In the beginning, I talked about all kinds of bullshit that interested me: hockey, video games, comics, comic book movies, and of course the horror genre. My interest in a number of those things has seriously deteriorated over the past couple years or so, so I've decided to mainly focus on horror bullshit because that's really one of the few things I have left that I really feel passionate about these days.

Now as much as I love the horror genre and (nearly) everything about it, I realize this isn't everyone's cup of tea, and that's totally fine. I've always been torn as to wanting to utilize this kind of thing to make a name for myself or just do this for therapeutic reasons...but I've kind of hit a crossroads lately in terms of that. I want to branch out into other things besides having to type assorted bullshit and lists about things that a majority of people have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about...but at the same time, branching out is fucking terrifying. I know what I'm good at, and I know what I want to talk about the most, so the horror biz stuff isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Anyway, I'm exploring some options at the moment in terms of how to make this whole thing evolve. Whether it be through videos or changing up the style of how I do this shit (and yes, I've gotten quite sick of Blogger...there I said it), we'll just have to wait and see what happens until some things in my personal life get settled, and I know where I stand to really start making this thing move forward.

In the meantime, I'm happy to say that some other projects I've either had a hand in or am just a part of appear to be taking off. I can't say anything about them yet, but when I can, this and Facebook is where I'll be announcing them. It's nice to finally see something come to fruition that has my name attached to it in some way that doesn't involve me getting arrested for a change.

In terms of you fine people, my audience, I want to hear more from all you. Whether it be in the comments section here, or on the Nick's Nonsense & Nightmares page, or even on my own personal Facebook page; please sound off on what you want to see and/or feel free to give any thoughts and advice. I know I don't have a gigantic audience, and that's quite alright...I'd rather be known in circles I respect than have widespread recognition any day of the fucking week.

So yeah, that's it for 200 blogs. No big song & dance or anything, just me shitting all this out right here for...well, for shits and giggles. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my cold, black heart for sticking with me, reading my material, following me on Facebook, buying my shit on Kindle, and overall supporting me in every single way imaginable that you have. I love you all, and I'm glad that all of you sexy bastards seem to enjoy me for some odd reason.

See y'all in the funnybooks folks.

Why We Love "Rowdy" Roddy Piper

My heart broke when hearing about the passing of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Undoubtedly one of the best talkers in pro wrestling history (and quite possibly THE best), Roddy Piper made quite a lasting impression, not just on me, but on our whole generation. The fact that he managed to accomplish such a thing without ever being a massive mega star like Hulk Hogan, "Mach Man" Randy Savage, or The Ultimate Warrior, isn't just impressive, it's fucking astonishing.

His amazing shit-talking on the mic combined with his legitimate in-ring skill made Piper a surprising fan favorite...considering he was a heel (AKA, a villain for those unfamiliar with pro wrestling terminology). In fact, Piper was recently voted the best heel in WWE history if I'm not mistaken. How did he manage to accomplish such a feat? Because even though we were supposed to hate this guy, we pretty much couldn't. And if we did, we loved to hate him. His magnetic personality and natural charisma made him one of the absolute greatest character wrestlers of his era.

Not to mention the fact that, for me personally, Piper starred in one of my all time favorite horror films: John Carpenter's "They Live". Piper would go on to star in other sci-fi and action fare; most of which were direct to video trash, but despite that, Piper always came off as likeable and never turned in a shit performance that I can recall off the top of my head.

In my early teens I met Piper (very briefly) at a WCW show during the nWo era of the Monday Night Wars. He was warm with a big 'ol shit-eating grin on his face. Years later, I came across him several more times at various horror conventions, and his magnetic personality shined through in the midst of a surprising amount of people begging him for autographs. I say surprising because I always thought that people that were/are wrestling fans would think it a bit weird if I'd tell them my favorite wrestler from that 80s golden age was Piper...but the true surprise came at a number of those cons when I realized just how much he meant to so many people.

That was "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The masterful shit-talker. The man that could put on a five-star match with no problem no matter who he was put up against. The man who went from wrestler into acting and back again without losing a beat. The man who had natural born attitude that was always more than just a "character".

Rest in peace Roddy. We miss you already.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why "The Walking Dead" Should Die.

Where do I begin?

I remember over a decade ago when I first heard about "The Walking Dead". It was a new comic from Image that was in black and white and promised a never-ending zombie apocalypse survival story...and it delivered. It provided many memorable characters, genuine shocks, and a legitimate feeling of surprise because you never knew what the fuck was going to happen next. Fan favorite characters would get whacked out of nowhere, and it introduced one of the best villains in the history of modern comic books.

In the process of becoming a smash hit comic book (and this was right before the zombie craze really took off mind you), "The Walking Dead" also spawned a smash hit TV show (and an upcoming spin off of said TV show), hordes of merchandise, action figures, and all kinds of other shit too. Needless to say, Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" has become a global phenomenon and sale juggernaut in just a little over a decade.

So why don't I give a shit about the property as a whole anymore?

Well, to put it bluntly, I got bored. Sad as it is to say, I just got bored. I don't mean just with the TV show either (THAT is a whole other story), but the whole damn property just bores the shit out of me. The same goes for the comics. We're well over a hundred issues (I think it's close to 125ish if I'm not mistaken?), and I tuned out long before that. I mean the idea of a never-ending zombie epic sounds good on paper, but after a while, what else can you really do with it? I mean we've had some sick fuck villains, but everything after The Governor just didn't feel as scary honestly (including Negan, that's right I said it). Same formula: "we have to move, it's not safe...okay we moved we're safe...fuck, we're not safe, these people aren't who we thought they were"...rinse, repeat. Not to mention the fact that we all know anyone can die at any moment...but we all know that Rick and Carl (to a lesser extent) are pretty much untouchable. The only time one (or both) of them bite the dust is when the series comes to an end...and that's probably not happening anytime soon.

Creator Robert Kirkman recently said in an interview that he (paraphrasing here) has a vision for where the series (meaning the TV show, not necessarily the comic) will conclude. Now it's easier to have a comic book run for hundreds of issues than for a TV show to run for ten seasons mind you, but it's just the point that this dead horse is going to keep getting beaten into oblivion. Like I said, after a while, how much more shit can you really pump out in this kind of thing that doesn't feel stale?

Now I know that this whole media juggernaut has a rabid fanbase, and that's all well and good. "The Walking Dead" as a comic managed to help Image Comics really challenge Marvel and DC as a big time comic book company, the comic itself managed to re-invigorate the horror comic genre, and the TV show was the beginning of seeing more horror shows hit the TV airwaves. So yeah, it has its place in history without a doubt...

...but everything has to come to an end sooner or later. And maybe "The Walking Dead" should be laid to rest...finally.

Friday, July 24, 2015

25 Years of "Cowboys From Hell"

25 years ago, an album was dropped upon the world that changed the metal scene forever…yes, forever. That album? Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”. While it wasn’t their first recorded material to see the light of day, this was their major label debut, and it became a surprise hit in the process.

“Cowboys From Hell” contained numerous heavy, yet somehow surprisingly catchy, songs that combined elements from Pantera’s glam-rock roots with much heavier rhythms. The opening title track? Fucking classic. “Cemetery Gates”? Also fucking classic (and the very first Pantera song I ever heard in my youth). “Domination”? One of the band’s most notable songs with an insane drum performance that made Vinnie Paul one of the all time kings of thrash metal drumming.

Phil Anselmo demonstrated impressive vocal range on “Cowboys From Hell”, managing to hit high notes that he could rarely hit in the years to come (then again, this was before he murdered his voice with the years of drinking, smoking, and drugs), along with the shredding guitar work of the late, great Dimebag (then called “Diamond”) Darrell. Rex Brown’s pumping bass lines and Vinnie Paul’s aforementioned drum assaults all combined to let the world know that metal music was phasing out of the glam-rock era, and evolving into something new and heavier with little to no compromises.

That in itself is the legacy of Pantera as a whole. They never compromised in terms of what was “hot” at the times they released their five studio albums. Though 1992’s “Vulgar Display of Power” and 1994’s “Far Beyond Driven” I feel are better all-around albums than “Cowboys From Hell”, it doesn’t negate the fact that this was the album that announced to the world that Pantera was here to do something a little different, and helped forge a legacy that just can’t be fucked with.

Now do yourself a favor: go listen to “Cowboys From Hell” from beginning to end. Maybe it’ll be the first time in a long time, maybe it’ll be the first time period. Either way, go do it.

Thank me later.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Case For...and Against...a New "Alien" Film.

In terms of film franchises, there are very few that are as near and dear to me as the "Alien" franchise. Much like my beloved "Terminator", the "Alien" franchise received too many ill-advised sequels (and like "Terminator", should really have just ended with the first sequel) and even two eagerly anticipated (?) mash-ups with "Predator" that were...well, it'd just be better for everyone if we all just forgot about those flicks wouldn't it?

To put it bluntly, the "Alien" franchise has had enough shit thrown at them that it's really starting to stink.

As we all know, the original "Alien" is an absolute classic of horror and suspense. "Aliens" took things in a more action-oriented direction, but is still super fucking enjoyable and one of the best sequels, to any film, ever made. The much maligned "Alien 3" is a steaming turd...yet I've somehow developed a shocking amount of admiration for it over the years, considering all the behind the scenes drama and bullshit that surrounded it (and subsequently to this day is something that David Fincher doesn't want to talk about). "Alien Resurrection" is shameless garbage that has no reason to exist, and ended up being the final nail in the coffin of the franchise until the "Alien VS Predator" films years later...and then just a couple years ago Ridley Scott came back to make "Prometheus", which is touted as a quasi-prequel to "Alien", but divided fans and critics alike because NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING!

With all that in mind, a couple months ago director Neill Blomkamp ("District 9") leaked sketches detailing his take on an "Alien" film, which subsequently excited all of us fanboys, and even managed to convince 20th Century Fox to give him the reins to make a new "Alien" film. Can you believe that? The guy who helmed one of the most surprisingly awesome sci-fi films in recent memory will be helming a new "Alien" film that brings back Sigourney Weaver (and somehow Michael Biehn...uh huh...) and will somehow restore one of cinema's most beloved screen monsters to prominence.

Then I remember that this is Neill Blomkamp, who also crafted the severely underwhelming "Elysium" and "Chappie".


Now I don't want to be a negative nancy more so than usual, but maybe this is something we all shouldn't get too excited about maybe? Remember how excited we were for Ridley Scott making "Prometheus"? How'd that turn out again?

I guess what I'm saying is that I want the "Alien" franchise to stay dead and buried, mainly because I don't want to see it turn out like "Terminator", which has become a joke of a franchise that featured two classic films that got shit all over by subsequent sequels that shat all over the legacy forged by their forbearers.

Then again, the prospect of a new "Alien" film made by the guy responsible for "District 9" is boner-inducing, I won't lie. It's against my better judgment, but maybe it won't be so bad...if it ever does indeed see the light of day that is. Maybe it won't happen at all, the plug will get pulled, and the "Alien" franchise can stay put in the dirt for a little while longer. Maybe.

Oh well, at least if we get a new "Alien" movie from Blomkamp, at least it will look really pretty...I just hope I don't end up throwing my own feces at the movie screen in the process.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Are People Really Trying to Stop "The Green Inferno"?

It feels like it's been forever since Eli Roth has been stroking our collective cocks with "The Green Inferno". Stuck in distribution hell for about two years now, it seems like we're finally going to get Roth's love letter to the Italian cannibal films of yesteryear as its release date is set for this coming September. That is, unless some dickless toolbags have their way...

It was recently brought to my attention that there is a petition to cancel the release of "The Green Inferno", citing that the film is "dehumanizing" to the indigenous people that Roth hired to play the cannibals in the film. One backer also commented that the film is an example of "white supremacy" and mentions the danger Roth and his film crew allegedly put the natives in (no, seriously, that was said) for the sake of making this movie. Now, if "The Green Inferno" is indeed in the spirit of cannibal films that came before it like "Cannibal Holocaust", etc., then I'd say Roth and co. are on the right track of authenticity if any of the allegations posted on the Change site are true. Cannibal movies back in the day were dangerous and totally fucking revolting, and it seems like that is exactly what Roth is trying to accomplish here with his tribute/love letter to the genre.

Then, something else occurred to me while thinking about this whole thing...are we being trolled? Like seriously...are we being fucking trolled here? As said before, "The Green Inferno" has been in pre-release hell forever and the buzz around has never been all that good to begin with, so maybe this whole thing was drummed up by people involved with the film (or maybe even Roth himself) to try to garner some interest. I mean come on, look at that synopsis: internet social justice warriors get eaten alive by pissed off cannibals. Not many in a mainstream audience are going to want to watch it seems like its getting a relatively wide release, and I really can't imagine it making a big enough dent in box office like other recent mainstream horror releases have lately...considering those films are low budget ghost stories and this film is a modestly budgeted gorefest that probably has guys getting their dicks eaten.

So, whether the whole petition is an honest attempt to shelve a movie that has been sitting on the shelf for the better part of two years, or is a (not so elaborate) set up by people involved in the film to garner interest, "The Green Inferno" is finally going to see the light of day. Will it be a bomb? A modern day classic? Another attempt from Eli Roth that shows lots and lots of promise but in the end fails to deliver? Probably the last thing there in all honesty. No matter what, we should be thankful that this movie even exists, let alone is about to be released...and here's hoping there's some renewed interest in the long-dormant cannibal genre...people need to remember what it's like to watch a movie in a theater and puke their fucking brains out.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

30 Years of "Return of the Living Dead"

In a month's time, it will mark the 30th anniversary of a true favorite of the horror genre: "Return of the Living Dead". Those relatively unfamiliar with the film may know it as "that zombie movie with the punks and the super sexy naked zombie chick"...and you'd be right. The original "Return of the Living Dead" is one of the most fun and enjoyable zombie films ever made, and thirty years later, it's still as enjoyable as it was back then.

Based on the novel by John Russo, who had co-created "Night of the Living Dead" with George Romero, "Return of the Living Dead" is written and directed by the great, late Dan O' Bannon, who had written the original "Alien" among many other notable sci-fi/horror works. The story is simple: two idiots accidentally re-animate a whole graveyard full of brain-hungry corpses, while a bunch of punk kids are caught in the crossfire. Before you can say "send more paramedics", the tone of the film shifts from hilarious, to scary, to downright chilling.

For me personally, "Return of the Living Dead" has a special place in my heart. This was one of the first zombie films I ever saw in my youth (and I actually saw its first sequel, "Return of the Living Dead II" first) and left quite an impression on me. Maybe most of that was due to seeing scream queen Linnea Quigley dancing around butt ass naked in a graveyard, but I digress. This was one of the first movies I remember seeing that I genuinely laughed at and was slightly scared by. After re-discovering it years later with the advent of DVD, I fell back in love with it all over again.

The film was followed by numerous sequels, all ranging in terms of quality. "Return of the Living Dead II" took the focus off the horror and was put more on the comedic elements, while "Re-Animator" and "Society" maestro Brian Yuzna was behind the surprisingly good "Return of the Living Dead 3", which threw out the comedy and was straight up, no holds barred, super fucking gory zombie horror that is well worth your time. There were a pair of made for the Sci-Fi Channel films as well, which are the equivalent of cinematic abortions, but you probably already knew that.

If you've never seen the original "Return of the Living Dead", you've been missing out. Go remedy that immediately. Also it goes without saying that you'll be madly in love with Linnea Quigley after viewing the film, and trust me when I say it, but that is a love that never dies...just like the love for this wonderful piece of trash as a whole.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

30 Years of "Day of the Dead"

In 1968, George Romero unleashed the film that started the whole modern zombie craze that would last for decades with the original "Night of the Living Dead". A decade later, Romero would return with the superior (at least to me) sequel "Dawn of the Dead". Both films were revered by fans, and most critics believe it or not, and are viewed as classics of the genre all these years later. In 1985, Romero would release a third "Dead" film that he had hoped would be an epic conclusion to his zombie films, called "Day of the Dead". Romero had envisioned a grand magnum opus of blood, gore, and social commentary with the fate of the world and the human race in the balance...

...things didn't quite turn out that way.

"Day of the Dead" wasn't given much of a budget, and thus many of the big time set pieces Romero had planned out were scrapped and the film as a whole was scaled back. What was released in 1985 instead was a small-budgeted and often claustrophobic feeling zombie dirge that critics and audiences didn't receive well back then compared to "Night" and "Dawn". Over the years though, feelings towards the film have changed mightily.

For starters, "Day of the Dead" doesn't feature many (if at all) likeable characters, compared to "Night" and "Dawn" before it. Everyone seems to be some sort of caricature almost, and there's so much over the top scene-chewing acting from the principal performers that it becomes hard to take it seriously. That being said, Joe Pilato is perfect as the evil bastard Rhodes, and when we see him get ripped apart, it's so damn satisfying.

What really sets "Day of the Dead" apart from the previous two films are two things: first off being Bub: that loveable zombie that is being "rehabilitated" by mad scientist Dr. Logan. Howard Sherman (Sherman Howard) is wonderful in the role, with an expressive face under all that makeup. And speaking of makeup, the second thing that really sets "Day of the Dead" apart from the other films is the makeup and gore effects from Tom Savini. These effects are truly the benchmark in gore effects of the era (for zombie films anyway), and even helped steer the future of gore effects work by employing a young and inexperienced Greg Nicotero, who would go on to form the Oscar-winning and revered KNB Effects group and one of the men behind "The Walking Dead".

It's hard to believe that "Day of the Dead" is 30 years old...and now that I think about it's even harder to believe that "Land of the Dead" is 10 years old. The fourth Romero zombie film wouldn't come out until 20 years after this, which just goes to show you how much of a thud "Day of the Dead" landed on way back then upon its original release. Time has been much kinder to it however, so it's more than worth your time. It isn't anywhere near as prolific as "Night of the Dead" or "Dawn of the Dead" were before it, but it's certainly a super fun and blood soaked blast.

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Super Castlevania IV" VS "Symphony of the Night"

I love video games, of that there is no secret. Another thing that isn't much of a secret is my love for one franchise in particular: "Castlevania". Since I was a kid with my NES, the "Castlevania" franchise has been a staple in my life, and through the years as the series would evolve (and in some cases, de-evolve), my love for it stayed forever the same.

That being said, I recently got into a debate with someone about what the best game in the whole series is. For a majority of gamers, the clear favorite seems to be "Castlevania: Symphony of the Night", which is a more than worthy choice. For me personally though, and feel free to call me out on this, my all time favorite in the franchise is "Super Castlevania IV".

Yes, you read that right.

Even though both games are part of the same franchise, both are quite different in their own ways. So, I'm going to analyze these two ball-breaking classics for your reading enjoyment. And if you don't know how to read, that's fine too.

"Super Castlevania IV" was released in 1991 as an early title for the then new Super NES. A 16-bit remake of the original NES "Castlevania", this game completely re-worked a lot of the flaws (or charms) of the original games. The awkward jumping mechanics and stair climbing pains in the ass were gone. Instead of only being able to fire your whip in front of you, you could now whip in 8 different directions. In essence, the control was absolutely perfect, which is about the only time in the history of ever you can say that about a fucking "Castlevania" game. Not to mention the fact that the game as a whole is a beautiful sight. It was designed to show off just what the Super NES could do graphically, and it succeeded wonderfully. Every so often I still pop this game in, whether it be the actual Super NES cartridge or the Virtual Console version on my Wii-U. This game is a classic and I always find myself going back to it.

"Castlevania: Symphony of the Night" was released in 1997 for the PS1, and is a direct sequel to the PC Engine "Castlevania: Rondo of Blood" (which was ported over here to the Super NES as "Castlevania: Dracula X"). Instead of playing as one of the Belmont's, you play as Dracula's so Alucard, most notably a playable character from "Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse". Also gone from this installment is the traditional whip-wielding action (until you unlock Richter Belmont that is) which has been replaced by a platforming, RPG-ish "Metroid"-style of gameplay. Now this game was a massive hit when originally released, and helped set the stage for nearly every "Castlevania" game to come after it to adopt the same style, especially ones on portable systems. The hype here is real though, "Symphony of the Night" is an amazing game and truly timeless, but as much as people tend to love it, I've always preferred "Super Castlevania IV" over it for a variety of reasons.

From a personal standpoint, I've never been much of an RPG fan. Don't get me wrong, I've played my share of RPGs and games with RPG elements, but it's rare that I stick with one all throughout that holds my interest. It's also rare for me to want to dedicate that much time and effort and energy into a game as well, whether it was back then or even now. That being said, I did enjoy playing through "Symphony of the Night" and uncovering all the secrets and shitting my pants when the castle was flipped upside down. The boss fights were epic and the voice acting is beautifully awful. That being said, and I'll probably get called out here for being lazy, but navigating through the castle and finding and equipping various items, etc., always seemed kind of troublesome to me. Maybe that's more reflective of the kind of gamer I am as opposed to the game's mechanics, but I digress. "Symphony of the Night" always made me feel like there were ways to cheat a little bit to get around the game and come out on top without requiring too much skill like the "Castlevania" games of the past.

"Super Castlevania IV" on the other hand, has none of that shit. That game is a tried and true whip-wielding action blast that makes you rely on your reflexes and your wits to get through the game. Not to mention the fact that the whole game doesn't take place in the castle (in all honesty, when games in this series take place exclusively in the castle, it puts me off; I miss the graveyards and haunted forests) and really wonderfully illustrates some amazingly gothic environments, which adds to the game's creepiness factor.

To close things up, it's really just personal preference that I prefer "Super Castlevania IV" over "Symphony of the Night". Both games are wonderful and beautiful examples of the franchise at its absolute best. You really can't go wrong with either, and if you've never played either game, or any of the classic "Castlevania" games of years before, you done fucked up and missed out on some of the most just plain awesome, and frequently frustrating, video games to ever see the light of day.