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Monday, December 27, 2010

MOVE REVIEW: TRON: LEGACY

In 1982, Walt Disney Pictures revolutionized computer generated imagery with Tron. It was a marvel of technology and a visually stunning masterpiece, long before it's time. Although it was a moderate critical and financial success, it soon fell into obscurity and became a popular cult film. Now as CGI and 3D entertainment have dominated the mainstream film industry (mostly due to the success of Disney films), 28 years later Disney Pictures has released the long-awaited sequel to Tron with Tron: Legacy!
The prologue to Tron: Legacy picks up several years after the original Tron, with Kevin Flynn now billionaire CEO of ENCOM and now a family man, married and with a young son Sam. Then suddenly in 1989, Flynn mysteriously disappears! Now in the present Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is a mischievous hacker and industrial saboteur of the very company his father owned, which has now become a multi-national Microsoft-esque corporation. Although Alan Bradley, whose role is reprised by Bruce Boxleitner, is still part of the board, and the company is relying on the genius of Edward Dillinger (played by Cillian Murphy, who is surprisingly uncredited and we NEVER see again throughout the whole movie? Perhaps in the sequel?)) the son of Ed Dillinger (the villain from the first film.)
Rookie director Jospeh Kosinski definitely had his work cut out for him in restarting the Tron franchise and with possible sequels already in the planning stages it looks as if Tron will be ANOTHER big Disney box office franchise alongside Pirates of the Caribbean. Tron Legacy certainly references the original film as it recreates the first amazing scenes of Sam Flynn finding himself on "The Grid", being abducted by programs and forced to compete in real-life video games in a very Ben-Hur/Gladiator type of story. I am sure there is a considerable amount of people who went to see Tron: Legacy and have not even seen the original or remember it. But for fans like me who fondly remember and cherish the original movie, Tron: Legacy is like a breath of fresh air as this beloved movie gets a sequel and revitalization.
The whole world of Tron is just as fascinating as it was in the original film with it's original mythos of an entire digital world in "The Grid" and the amazingly original mythology surrounding the whole User/Program relationship introduced in the first film. The duality between the characters of Kevin Flynn and Clu create an astounding plot point in the story that goes beyond the old hero/villain cliche.
For those critics and moviegoers who seem disappointed in the plot and story as it appears to be severely dwarfed by the phenomenal digital special effects, I urge those to look at this movie with open eyes and minds and see all the subtle nuances in this movie which hearkens back to a very classic style of storytelling incorporating the original tale of the mythical hero's journey just as it has been from the tale of "King Arthur" to Star Wars! I am a frequent reader of Harry Knowles' Aint It Cool News and recently saw an interesting recent article by Massawyrm: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/47947 Just check out that article and you will see what I'm talking about.
Tron: Legacy is one of the greatest films I've seen as it takes it's place alongside other great recent films like Avatar or Inception. If you're a fan of the original Tron, I know you will enjoy it as much as I did. If you are new to the Tron Universe. I would recommend watching the original before seeing the sequel but perhaps to the skeptic after seeing it the first time in all its digital 3D glory, go back for a second chance and really watch it, you just might be surprised!
Tron Legacy Official Website: http://disney.go.com/TRON/

Saturday, December 25, 2010

TOP 10 1980's TOYS: XMAS EDITION

It's Christmas time again and of course we all know what the TRUE meaning of Christmas is... TOYS, TOYS, and more TOYS!!! Growing up in the 1980's there were so many great toys out that my Christmas' were filled waking up and finding the latest and greatest toys! What would my childhood and those of my generation have been without great toys like G.I. Joe or Transformers! (but NOT Cabbage Patch Kids, they made the '90's Furbie craze look like the Bubonic Plague!) For anyone who grew up with these toys you might remember some of these, if not, just watch an episode of Adult Swim's "Robot Chicken" http://www.adultswim.com/shows/robot-chicken/index.html and you'll see what I'm talking about! So, I made my list (and checked it twice!) of the TOP 10 1980's Toys (Christmas Edition):

#10 "My Pet Monster" - My Pet Monster, it says it all! He was a huge, blue, stuffed-toy, with an ugly face full of hard plastic teeth. He came in this huge box which looked like a jail cell AND he had these weird orange handcuffs that could break when pulled apart. You could also take them off and put the handcuffs on yourself! Brilliant!

#9 "M.A.S.K." - M-m-m-m-mask! Mobile Armored Strike Kommand! (And no I am not misspelling it!) M.A.S.K. were vehicles that turned into other vehicles like a green motorcycle that turned into a mini-helicopter or a red sports-car that turned into a jet...fun!

#8 "Centurions"- Power Extreme, Men-Machine!" The Centurions were a team of cyborg superheroes (easily forgotten) who could attach weapons to their armor (which were full of holes) and you could even mix and match them depending on their mission either by land, sea, or air! The villains Doc Terror and Hacker were the ugliest and most awkward looking cyborgs ever!

#7 "Robocop (and the Ultra Police)" - Here's a great idea: take a violent R-Rated Sci-Fi movie about a cop who gets killed only to come back as a cyborg cop THEN turn it into a kids cartoon TV show and develop action figures! Awesome! The best part was the Robocop toys had caps in their backs which would simulate shooting! Don't you just LOVE cartoon violence! I know I did!

#6 "Thundercats"- "Thunder, Thunder, Thunder Cats! Ho!" Based on the popular cartoon series these anthropomorphized cat-people are still a nostalgic favorite, especially Cheetarah (nuff said!) My favorite toy was the actual "Sword of Omens", a short, plastic, sword based on Lion-Os sword with a glowing red "Eye of Thundera" (you pressed the button and it glowed)!

#5 "The Real Ghostbusters" - These were "The Real Ghostbusters", based on the popular movies starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd but more so based on the spin-off cartoon series which featured "Slimer" as their ghost-mascot! My favorite was the full Proton Pack with a foam tube to simulate the ion stream and with it the ghost trap which opened by stepping on an air pump foot peddle. Hours of fun busting imaginary ghosts (unless you had the projector gun too)!

#4 "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" - He-Man was especially popular (and somewhat overly homoerotic?) the action figures based off the cartoon show was one of the biggest toy lines ever with outrageous bases and vehicles to go along with it. My favorite was the actual Snake Mountain (Skeletor's castle) with all kinds of creepy trapdoors, giant snake and a voice modulator!

#3 "Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye" - Probably one of the biggest and longest running toy lines of the 1980's, The Transformers were extremely popular with literally hundreds of robots and not just vehicles as later came the Dinobots, Insecticons and even a city (Omega Supreme)! When I was a kid I wanted Megatron most of all (as did every kid) but my parents thought it looked too much like a real gun? They were right, that's why we all wanted it! Instead I got Perceptor, he changed into a microscope...yeah...thanks a lot!

#2 "Star Wars" - What child of the 1980's didn't play with Star Wars toys, the highly sought-after and often valuable Star Wars toys brought a whole new level to movie merchandising! My favorite was of course the Millennium Falcon (it took forever for my Dad to assemble it! lol)

#1 "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" - I was a HUGE G.I. Joe kid! I had the comic books, I watched the cartoons, AND had lots and lots of action figures and vehicles (played with while wearing camouflage fatigues bought from the Army/Navy store), THE best (and biggest!) was of course the 6-foot long aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Flagg!!! (Original retail cost: $89.99 Yikes!) Absolutely Amazing!

Friday, December 24, 2010

TOP 10 FAVORITE XMAS MOVIES

Well, it's that time of year again...it's cold, the stores are crowded, and traffic is terrible! So why go out into the holiday madness, why not curl up on the couch and watch some of my favorite Christmas movies. Now for most peoples Xmas movies are silly, sappy stories involving our favorite pseudo-religious icon: you know who I'm talking about...the big guy (No, not Buddha!) Santa Claus! He's on every channel, on every Coke bottle and on Christmas Eve he'll be coming down your chimney and breaking and entering into your house to stuff your stockings! Most of my favorite Xmas movies are not your usual yuletide viewing (but some do have the word Christmas in the title! lol) So grab some hot cocoa, maybe a few gingerbread cookies or spike that eggnog with a little more "holiday cheer" as I present my Top 10 Favorite Xmas Movies:


#10 Tales from the Crypt (1972), "And All Through the House" - While the whole movie is not Xmas themed, one of the first vignettes adapted from the wonderful EC Comic Books from the 1950's (and also as an episode of the popular TV version of "Tales from the Crypt" in 1989) stars Joan Collins as a murderous housewife who kills her husband with an axe on Christmas Eve however, coincidentaly there is also a murderous lunatic on the prowl dressed as Santa Claus!

#9 Die Hard (1988) - Even though this is one of the best action movies of the 80's the whole thing takes place during Christmas. Also, with all the Xmas jokes and references and even various Xmas music and even the song "Let It Snow" plays during the end credits, how much Xmas can you get?

#8 Edward Scissorhands (1990) - Tim Burton is the best at making Christmas delightfully creepy and Edward Scissorhands is one of the best! Johnny Depp plays the shy progentor of the Goth craze, a man-made boy with scissors for hands who has a phenominal talent at cutting topiaries, women's hair, and ice! Although Winona Ryder still looks hot as a blonde she soon falls in love with Edward but it ends tragically with Edward killing her boyfriend on Christmas! But that's ok because she fakes his death and he gives them snow. Lol!

#7 Batman Returns (1992) - When I think of Christmas, I think of Batman! (Don't you?) with the sequal to 1989's Batman directed by Tim Burton, Batman Returns featured Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer as the sexiest Catwoman ever and even though this was a Summer blockbuster, the whole movie takes place during Christmas! Penguin is abandoned in the sewer by his parents on Christmas Eve and later his henchmen jump out of a giant Christmas present during a tree lighting ceremony! Now that's what I call Christmas!

#6 Gremlins (1983) - What's Christmas without a bunch of hellraising little green monsters? When Billy Peltzer's dad gives him Gizmo, a Mogwai, for Christmas, he inadvertantly breaks every rule in the book on the care of this distgustingly cute little furball! Plus Kate's incredibly depressing monologue on her childhood Christmas tragedy is probably one of THE most traumatic things I've ever heard!

#5 Home Alone (1990) - This was always one of my favorite Xmas movies when I was a kid, also because Macaulay Culkin is only a year younger than me! He was so adorably annoying and mischevious that I could watch Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern get mercilessly beaten to a pulp by all of Kevin's ingenious (and possibly deadly!) traps over and over! Brilliant!

#4 A Christmas Story (1983) - This has come to be one of the best Christmas movie classics ever! With Ralphie's bizarre, overactive imagination and his neverending pursuit of an air-rifle for Christmas he has become a Christmas icon! Oh and the leg lamp too! "You'll shoot your eye out!", "Oh Fuuuuuuudge!"

#3 Scrooged (1988) - In this modern (but very '80's) adaptation of Chrales Dicken's "A Christmas Carol", Bill Murray is Frank Cross, a ruthless and amoral TV station president who gets a dose of the 3 ghosts routine and eventually changes his ways. (Predictable?)

#2 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) - This is one of my favorite Christmas movies and probably one of the best of all the Lampoons/Griswold Vacation Movies (including Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure, and NO I am not making that up!) "We're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny ****ing Kaye!" Awesome!

#1 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - Again, Tim Burton+Xmas=Amazing! When Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King, gets bored with Halloween Town, he finds Christmas Town and decides to kidnap Santa Claus and make Christmas his way! (Sounds reasonable?) This has become one of THE best loved Christmas movies of all time and it definitely deserves the #1 spot on my list! My favorite scene has to be when the little boy gets a shrunken head for Christmas: "And what did Santa bring you honey?" Excellent!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TOP 10 GREATEST COMIC BOOKS/GRAPHIC NOVELS

   With the holidays coming up and me being a HUGE comic book fan, I thought it would be a good idea for a change to post my Top 10 Favorite Comic Books and/or Graphic Novels. So if you are a fellow fan or need that perfect gift for that special someone who's as big a comic geek as I am, then here we go:


#10 "X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills" (1982) Written by Chris Claremont and art by Brent Anderson - Reverend William Stryker starts an anti-mutant movement and kidnaps Professor X! Sound familiar? The X-Men move sequal X2: X-Men United screenwriter David Hayter used elements from this story for the movie.
#9 "The Silver Surfer: Parable" (1988) Written by Stan Lee and art by Moebius - Produced by Marvel Comics' short lived Epic Comics with renowned work by French artist Moebius.

 #8 "The Amazing Spider-Man: Kraven's Last Hunt (1987) by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck - Featuring the black-costumed Spider-Man this is the ultimate stroy of revenge!

#7 "Weapon X" (1994) by Barry Windsor-Smith - Originally published in Marvel Comics Presents this is the incredibly violent and bloody story of Wolverine's creation by the Weapon X Project.

#6 "Hellboy: Seed of Destruction" (1994) by Mike Mignola and John Byrne - The originaof Hellboy and his first battle with Rasputin! This volume inspired the forst movie adpatation although Guillermo Del Toro's film is great it left out one very important element: The Frog-Men!

#5 "Kingdome Come" (1996) Written by Mark Waid and art by Alex Ross - Incrediblly epic story and beautiful artwork! This is Alex Ross at his best!

#4 "Astro City: Life in the Big City" (1995) Written by Kurt Busiek art by Alex Ross and Brent Anderson - This is the first volume of one of my favorite super-hero comics ever! Samaritan, Winged Victory, The Hanged Man and The Confessor are just a few of Astro City's many great heroes!

#3 "Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists" (1992) Written by Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman's Sandman and the Endless has always been one of my favorite series and out of the original 10 volume run, Season of Mists will always be my favorite, Lucifer quits gives Morpheus the key to Hell and also this is the first time we get to meet all of the Endless!

#2 "Watchmen" (1986) Written by Alan Moore and art by Dave Gibbons - Long before the movie, this dark vision of superheroes is still just as relevant and poingant as ever!

#1 "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" (1986) Written and art by Frank Miller - This changed the face of comics forever and made Frank Miller one of the greats! This dark, futuristic tale of the return of a retired Batman psarked both acclaim and controversy in a world where comics were once considered "just for kids"!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

World of Warcraft: Top 10 Best Events

World of Warcraft! It's SO much fun, yet so addictive! I've been playing for a few years now having upgraded to both The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. I have however been a fan of the entire Warcraft Universe since the very first RTS PC game Warcraft: Orcs & Humans way back in 1994 and also Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness in 1995. I spent (or wasted?) soooo many hours during High School playing that (and Starcraft) that I consider myself a devoted fan of Blizzard and Warcraft. I started playing WoW a little later than most roughly around the time you started seeing the commercials with Mr.T, Verne Troyer and William Shatner, and later Ozzy Osbourne! I was a devoted Horde player especially Orcs and Forsaken but I did dabble in Alliance as well. As some players are devoted strictly to one faction I like to experience all that WoW has to offer. Unfortunately, I had not been playing consistently for almost a year due to time and money constraints but with the holidays and the release of the newest expansion Cataclysm (TODAY!) I'm back! I realize I probably should've never started back up again but it's SO DAMN FUN! Curse you World of Warcraft, I both love and hate you! I admit it you just sucked me right back in (and I like it)! I think it helps me get through the drudge of the holidays. Well, I'm back and there's no denying it and I realize why we love it and like me keep coming back to play in this immense MMORPG world...to put it plain and simply: It's fun! The "World" of Warcraft has so much to offer with a huge assortment of stories and variety of characters and classes and it proves year after year to be the #1 best-selling game out there! I think one of my favorite things about WoW is the EVENTS! WoW is famous for their ongoing, seasonal and world events that keeps players (like me) returning every year to take part in the many special events in Azeroth (which often coincide with real life hoilidays) from the Lunar Festival to The Feast of Winter Veil! So without further ado here's a list of the Top 10 Best Events in World of Warcraft (WoW)!


#10 "Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza" - I know what your thinking "Fishing?!", yet one of the many secondary skills in WoW, for any class, it is both amusing and to some maybe incredibly boring BUT for those who want to spend 2 hours of their Sunday fishing off the coast of Stranglethorn Vale it's fun to try to catch all those fish before someone else does! (beats going to church, lol!)
#9 "Darkmoon Faire" - One week a month an odd group of Azeroth "carneys" come to the main forests surrounding the main cities with their array of strange oddities, games and PRIZES!
#8 "Peon Day" - On September 30th those annoying little goblins come to sell fireworks to celebrate those hard working peons and peasants who have continually griped about all the hard work they have to do (or fall asleep on the job) while you spend hours playing a video game!
#7 "Lunar Festival" - From February 14th to March 7th visit the Elders to honor the ancestors in Moonglade! Watch out for the demon Omen!
#6 "Feast of Winter Veil" - From December 15th to January 2nd it's a time of caring and gift giving AND gift getting, just sit on Greatfather Winter's lap and you might find a present under the tree! I think mine is ticking?
#5 "Pilgrim's Bounty" - From September 27th to October 4th eat as much turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie you can! Food Fight!!!
#4 "Pirates' Day" - Arrr matey, on September 19th it be Pirates' Day, so dress up like a pirate or walk the plank! lol
#3 "Day of the Dead" - On November 2st and 2nd gather in the graveyard, eat candy skulls and wear masks!
#2 "Brewfest" - From September 20th to October 4th get drunk off your ass with brew! Perfect if your a dwarf!
#1 "Hallow's End" - From October 18th to November 1st things get spooky in Azeroth! Candy and costumes and also the ride of the Headless Horseman! Trick or Treat!

Monday, November 29, 2010

In Memoriam Top 10: Leslie Nielsen

In Memoriam: Leslie Nielsen (February 26, 1926-November 28, 2010)
   Yesterday we lost one of our funniest actors ever: Leslie Nielsen, famous for such roles as Airplane! and The Naked Gun series Chernobog's Blog remembers Leslie Nielsen with our list of his Top 10 Best Movies:

#10 Creepshow (1982) Nielsen plays a revenge-killer in the segment "Something To Tide You Over" along with Ted Danson.
#9 Mr. Magoo (1997) Nielsen in Disney's adaptation of the classic cartoon character Mr. Quincy Magoo.
#8 Scary Movie 3 (2003) and 4 (2006) Nielsen plays President Baxter Harris in two of the Scary Movie series.
#7 Superhero Movie (2008) Nielsen plays Uncle Albert in this Spider-Man/Superhero parody.
#6 Repossessed (1990) Nielsen plays Father Jebedaiah Mayii with Linda Blair in this parody of The Exorcist!
#5 Spy Hard (1996) In this James Bond parody Nielsen plays Dick Steele, Agent WD-40, the theme song by Weird Al Yankovic is awesome!
#4 Forbidden Planet (1956) A young Leslie Nielsen plays Commander J. J. Adams in this Sci-Fi classic!
#3 Dracula: Dead and Loving It! (1995) Nielsen is Count Dracula! "Children of the night...what a mess they make."
#2 Airplane! (1980) Nielsen plays Dr. Rumack in this comedy classic "...and don't call me Shirley."
#1 The Naked Gun (1988) based on the 1982 TV series Police Squad in which Nielsen plays Detective Frank Drebin which began a trilogy of titllation! (Yes, I said Titillation!) 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TOP 10 BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: Boris Karloff

Boris Karloff (November 23, 1887- February 2, 1969)

   Born William Henry Pratt, Boris Karloff is one of the major icons of the classic horror film, best known for playing two of Universal Studios most famous Monsters including Frankenstein's Monster and The Mummy are among his Top 10 Best Movies!
#10 How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) Karloff is the narrator and the voice of the Grinch in the original animated Dr. Seuss holiday classic.
#9 Tower of London (1939) Boris plays Mord, the bald executioner to Duke Richard (Basil Rathbone).
#8 The Invisible Ray (1936) Boris plays Dr. Janos Rukh who searches the African Congo for a meteorite along with Dr. Felix Benet (Béla Lugosi).
#7 The Walking Dead (1936) Boris plays John Ellman, a dead, ex-con who is "resurrected" by Dr. Evan Beaumont played by Edmund Gwenn (who also played Santa Claus in the Original Miracle of 34th St. (1947)!
#6 The Body Snatcher (1945) Boris steals corpses with Béla Lugosi in this Robert Louis Stevenson classic adaptation.
#5 Son of Frankenstein (1939) Boris returns for the third and final time as the inarticulate monster with the help of Ygor (Béla Lugosi).
#4 The Black Cat (1934) Boris Karloff plays Hjalmar Poelzig opposite Béla Lugosi in this macabre story of murder and satanic ritual. The scene at the end when Béla is skinning Boris alive in shadow is particularly disturbing for it's time!
#3 Bride of Frankenstein (1935) The monster (Karloff) demands a mate in this surprisingly brilliant yet campy classic directed by James Whale!
#2 The Mummy (1932) Boris plays Imhotep, the immortal Egyptian priest searching for the reincarnation of his lost love played by Zita Johann.
#1 Frankenstein (1931) The Original Classic Masterpiece! Karloff plays the Monster although his name in the opening credits is left only as a "question mark?"!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: LET ME IN (2010)

      It seems most American audiences are unwilling (or either uninterested) in the occasional foreign horror film. Take for example the recent Japanese horror franchises such as Ringu (1998) or Ju-On (2002) which were remade in the U.S. as The Ring (2002) and The Grudge (2004). The newest Hollywood attempt to remake a foreign horror film however doesn't come from Japan but from Sweden! Let Me In (2010), at first, seems no different from all those other foreign horror remakes however this doesn't seem to be the case as this film marks the return of legendary British based Hammer Films, with it's first theatrical feature of the millennium. Cloverfield (2008) director Matt Reeves returns with his remake of Swedish horror film Let The Right One In (2008) aka "Låt den rätte komma in", although the American remake gives credit to the original novel and screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, it fails to mention the original film directed by Tomas Alfredson.
     Let Me In is a disturbingly unique coming-of-age story of love, adolescent pain and of course VAMPIRES! In a time where the vampire genre has become over-saturated with the overly-hyped, teenage Twilight-like vampires, it is a relief that there are a few original vampire stories such as the recent movie Daybreakers. Let Me In stars two young rising stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee
(The Road) as Owen, a frail, 12-year old boy who comes from a broken home and is constantly bullied befriends Abby played by Chloe Moretz
(Kick-Ass) a mysterious young girl who turns out to be a vampire. Aided by her guardian/father (Richard Jenkins), who goes out at night to kill for her and bring her blood so she can live. Surprisingly, as Owen gradually realizes this it doesn't seem to bother him as the two children soon develop a strong (but somewhat awkward) connection.
     I will not go into the original as much or even try to compare or contrast the two films as this is more of a review of the remake but there are a few things I would like to point out. Although the remake brings some originality to the story there is very little difference from the original film except for the fact that it was filmed in English and not Swedish, but also the setting time frame is the same being the early 1980's although instead of being set near Stockholm, Sweden to Los Alamos, New Mexico (of all places?) which creates somewhat of culture-clash element to the story. There is also the inclusion of another main character, a policeman played by Elias Koteas. Although the names of the main characters are also changed: Owen/Oskar and Abby/Eli. The characters are very similar however Owen seems much less submissive and innocent to his Swedish counterpart Oskar, who has more of a boyish shyness. As with Abby to her Swedish doppelganger Eli who seems much more forward and self-confident. Again this may be partially because of cultural and/or acting difference but it is noticeable. Much of the same elements in both films are the same with the same dark and cold atmosphere (mostly due to to the Winter landscape which seemed an odd similarity as you expect Sweden to be in a very Scandinavian-Arctic climate whereas I had no idea it snowed like that in New Mexico? (I am from Texas after all!)
     The most interesting concept about this story actually comes from the title (or titles) in dealing with the old vampire myth of how vampires can't come into your home unless you actually invite them in! Most modern vampire movies rarely (if ever) deal with this age old (and very European) element vampire of vampire lore. The last time I can even remember a vampire movie even mentioning this is surprisingly from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) movie with Kristy Swanson!? The biggest complaint I have with Let Me In comes from the special effects. Although this movie relies more on the traditional horror of mood and atmosphere but also a lot of blood! In the few sequences where Abby attacks a victim they use noticeably CGI to turn Abby into a more vicious animal-like creature but this makes her appear very jerky and unnatural, which may have been the intent of the director. However, in the original Swedish version the same scenes with the vampire Eli is much more realistic, although mostly in shadow, the original film takes a more subtle approach to the special effects. For horror/vampire movie patrons who expect a little more action or gore, think again. This film is much more focused on characters and their interaction, most of this could be seen as merely a boy-meets-girl story, only with a vampire!
     Overall, I found Let Me In to be a fascinating and intense experience, just the notion of dealing with adolescent vampires creates a disturbing feeling, as we are used to the more older teenage vampires of the Twilight saga, with the character of Abby I am reminded of Claudia from Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire with her childlike mentality inside a vicious blood-sucking killer! The appeal of the film comes mostly from our reluctant juvenile protagonist Owen, for any child who was ever bullied or tormented is a very sympathetic character and the inclusion of his unlikely savior in Abby, who also becomes very likeable and sympathetic, brings new meaning to the phrase "a friend in need", although this "friend" needs blood! If you have not had the opportunity to see the original Let The Right One In, it is definitely worth it and most devoted fans prefer it to the remake, however Let Me In is a worthy homage to the original and both are definitely worth watching!
 
 (Sorry for the lateness of this review, but I wanted to be sure I saw the original foreign film before I saw the remake to better review it.)   

TOP 10 GREATEST HEAVY METAL ALBUMS!

I've been a huge Heavy Metal fan for years and 2010 has been a great year for Heavy Metal music! With great album releases from some of my favorite bands like Iron Maiden, Black Label Society, Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth and also the return of one of my favorite shows VH1 Classics'  "That Metal Show" with it's sixth season now 1-hour long! With the holidays coming up I thought I'd present my list of the Top 10 Heavy Metal albums of all time! (This is my personal opinion and has nothing to do with hype or sales, just pure love of Metal!) Enjoy!
#10 Pantera, "Cowboys from Hell" (1990) - The Texas-born hardcore shredders begins a new age in heavy metal!
#9 Motörhead, "Ace of Spades" (1980) - Motörhead IS Lemmy Kilmister!
#8 Dio, "Holy Diver" (1983) - After Dio left Black Sabbath he started a solo career that
#7 Megadeth, "Peace Sells...But Who's Buying" (1986) - Dave Mustaine at his best!
#6 Slayer, "Reign In Blood" (1986) - "RAINING BLOOD and "Angel of Death"! 'nuff said!
#5 Judas Priest, "British Steel" (1980) - With Rob Halford's vocals, Judas Priest began the New Wave of British Heavy Metal!
#4 Iron Maiden, "Number of the Beast" (1982) - With their third album and new singer Brce Dickinson
#3 Ozzy Osbourne, "Blizzard of Oz" (1981) - After Ozzy was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, he and his manager and soon to be wife Sharon started Ozzy's solo career which would not have succeeded if not for a virtuoso guitar player named Randy Rhodes! With hits like "I Don't Know", "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley" Ozzy Osbourne rose again as the Godfather of Heavy Metal!
#2 Metallica, "Master of Puppets" (1986) - Kings of thrash, Metallica's third album broke new ground and improved on Metallica's speed and heaviness with songs like "Battery", "Master of Puppets" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)"!
#1 Black Sabbath, "Paranoid" (1970) - The originators of the genre! Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Geezer Butler formed THE greatest Heavy Metal band in the world! Their second album "Paranoid" changed the world forever with songs like "War Pigs", "Paranoid" and "Iron Man"!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

VETERANS' DAY - TOP 10 WAR MOVIES

     On Veterans' Day we honor our military veterans and what better way to acknowledge them then with my list of the Top 10 Greatest War Movies!
#10 Platoon (1986) Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe in Oliver Stone's Vietnam War drama.
#9 Pearl Harbor (2001) Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett in Michael Bay's special effects explosion!
#8 Glory (1989) Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman star in this Civil War story of the first all-black volunteer company.
#7 Apocalypse Now (1979) Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola disturbing masterpiece.
#6 The Green Berets (1968) John Wayne stars and co-directs this intense Vietnam War story.
#5 Midway (1976) Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda and Toshirô Mifune  as Admiral Yamamoto in the story of the Battle of the Pacific during WWII.
#4 The Patriot (2000) Mel Gibson plays Benjamin Martin in this Revolutionary War epic (Also starring Heath Legder).
#3
Patton (1970) George C. Scott IS General George S. Patton!
#2 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Sir Alec Guinness stars in this WWII classic about a Japanese POW camp.
#1Saving Private Ryan (1998) Tom Hanks and Matt Damon in the greatest WWII movie ever! The Invasion of Normandy is disturbingly realistic.

Monday, November 1, 2010

TV REVIEW: THE WALKING DEAD

The long-awaited AMC zombie-TV series is finally here: THE WALKING DEAD! Based on the continuing comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and art by Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead is a new original series from AMC. AMC has been known for their groundbreaking, award-winning Cable TV series like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, now they have produced a truly unique TV show under the creative direction of director, writer, executive producer and three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont with writer and creator Robert Kirkman.
Season One begins with six-episodes along with a 90-minute pilot: Episode 1, "Days Gone By". The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Sheriff's Deputy Rick Grimes, who is wounded in the line of duty wakes up from a coma only to find the world has been taken over by ZOMBIES! As he sets off to find his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callis) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs) he is taken in by Morgan (Lennie James) and his son Duane who have taken shelter in a vacant house in Rick's hometown. After Rick recovers and finds plenty of weapons at his police station he travels to Atlanta to search for his wife and son, little does he know that the city is overrun with the walking dead!
The Walking Dead is a truly original TV series like nothing we've ever seen before. While other horror/supernatural TV series like Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Supernatural may have dealt very little with the undead, this is the first true zombie TV series. However, like the award-winning comic book, the focus of the show is not simply zombies, but more about the people in a survival situation. While the TV show is based on the comic, it is wholly apart from the comic as it has noticeable differences with characters and certain plot points, but the original premise is still the same. While long-time comic fans will no doubt love this show, it will most likely attract new fans of the show and new interest in the comic. I admit I had not followed the series from the beginning but read the few first trade paperback volumes a few years ago before I had even heard of the TV show. After seeing the show I am hooked and I hope to catch up to the comic (already up to issue #75/Vol. ) eventually. I'm looking forward to this first season and more to follow as we follow Officer Grimes desperate search for his family among THE WALKING DEAD!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! - TOP 10 SCARIEST MOVIES

    Halloween is my favorite holiday and I LOVE horror movies so today is the perfect time to list the top 10 movies that scare the crap outta me!

 #10 Night of the Living Dead (1968) This is and always will be one of the most original zombie movies ever. The feeding frenzy after the truck explodes is particularly disturbing! Mmm good!


 #9 30 Days of Night (2006) Based on the graphic novel by , this is one of the most original vampire stories ever. The dark Alaskan setting makes you glad to see the sun come up every morning!

 #8 Silence of the Lambs (1991) Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is one of the best villains ever!!!
 #7 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Although considered one of the goriest movies ever, there is a surprisingly little amount of blood in it! Leatherface is awesome!

 #6 The Omen (1976) The original! One of the creepiest children of all time, he IS The Antichrist! That last scene when the boy looks at the camera and smiles, priceless!

 #5 Jaws (1975) After seeing this I never went into the ocean, EVER!

 #4 Psycho (1960) Just the shower scene alone makes you think twice about motels (and also seeing Anthony Perkins in a dress)! LOL!

 #3 Alien (1979) It's like a haunted house in space, around every dark corner could be one of the scariest aliens ever!

 #2 Poltergeist (1982) While watching this one night with friends, our TV exploded! True Story! I'm still afraid of my closet too!

 #1 The Shining (1980) The original Stephen King adaptation directed by Stanley Kubric and starring Jack Nicholson is one of THE most disturbing and scariest movies of all time! Especially the gross old-lady and the 'furry' scene!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TOP 10 BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: Béla Lugosi

 Béla Lugosi (October 20, 1882 - August 16, 1956)
   
One of horror's most iconic and original actors, CHERNOBOG'S LAIR celebrates the birthday of Béla Ferenc Dezsõ Blaskó a.k.a. Béla Lugosi with his Top 10 Best Movies!
 

 #10 Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Béla appeared posthumously in stock footage for only a few minutes in director Ed Woods most infamous masterpiece!
 #9 Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Béla appears as Count Dracula for the last time in this silly comedy.
 #8 Mark of the Vampire (1935) Todd Browning's remake of London After Midnight has Bela Lugosi playing an actor playing a vampire completely mute until the last scene!
 #7 Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) Béla stars as the Frankenstein Monster, a role for which he originally turned down thus introducing Boris Karloff as the Monster!
 #6 Island of Lost Souls (1932) Béla plays "Sayer of the Law" in this adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau.
 #5
The Raven (1935) Béla plays Dr. Richard Vollin, a doctor obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe who creates elaborate torture devices.

 #4 The Black Cat (1934) Béla plays Dr. Vitus Werdegast opposite Boris Karloff in this macabre story of murder and satanic ritual. The scene at the end when Béla is skinning Boris alive in shadow is incredibly disturbing for it's time.
 #3
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Béla is Ygor! With his dark humor and fractured English he almost steals the show from the again-inarticulate monster!
 #2 White Zombie (1932) Just his name: Murder Legendre and his stare, makes this one of Béla's most striking appearances ever!
 #1 Dracula (1931) The one, the only, the original! This is Béla Lugosi at his best, this is what made him an icon and both doomed him to a life of being type-casted as the immortal count until the day he died. He was actually buried in his Dracula cape!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE 3D

    Just like the zombies in the Resident Evil series; the movies just won't stay dead! The fourth installment in the popular zombie franchise has arrived and it is bigger and badder (but not necessarily better...)! Now in eye-straining, headache inducing 3D, Resident Evil: Afterlife stars Milla Jovovich reprising her role as the super-powered zombie killer, Alice.  After the events of the third movie Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Alice has been waging a one-woman war against The Umbrella Corporation, the evil, multi-national conglomerate who developed the T-Virus bio-weapon which caused the zombie apocalypse, only this time...she's not alone! Alice has her own army of clones to attack Umbrella's underground base beneath Tokyo and goes up against the top bad guy Albert Wekser (Shawn Roberts). After Wesker escapes (as he always does in the games) Alice resumes her search for the survivors from the last film like Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and K-Mart (and yes, that is her character's name)Spencer Locke. Her search takes her to the remote regions of Alaska and then back down to Los Angeles where she meets another group of survivors (and more extraneous characters) including Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), a character from the original game. As Alice and the other survivors try to make their way to safety, the inevitable conflict between Wesker and Umbrella must soon come to a climax!
    The convoluted story of the Resident Evil film franchise always brings more thrilling (and sometimes bewildering) cliffhangers which will obviously culminate in the fifth Resident Evil movie most likely slated to be released sometime around 2013? Since the end of the second movie "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" (2004) the story has veered off into bizarre plot-points and twists which somehow complicate even further with Alice (already a formidable ass-kicking heroine) possessing new psychic/telekinetic powers having been infected with the T-virus and now part of an army of "Alice's" in the new movie. I have been a huge fan of the Resident Evil games as well as the movies, but it gets to a point when the story goes too far and you wonder when will enough be enough!? Since the first movie in 2002 the filmmakers initially kept the movies and games separate with merely keeping the atmosphere and back-story of the games in the movies with Alice being a totally original character that does not appear in the games. With the release of "Apocalypse" fans of the games like myself got a treat with the inclusion of game characters such as Jill Valentine (
Sienna Guillory), Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and of course Nemesis from the game Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. When the third movie came along there was the addition of Clair Redfield, the main character from the first game played by Ali Larter (Heroes). It seems like every movie they have to add another character or villain from the game to make fans happy but I have to admit add almost nothing to the actual movie storyline and the filmmakers either kill them off in the next movie (Carlos Olivera) or don't bring them back at all (Jill Valentine)?! At least with "Extinction" and "Afterlife" we get a consistent villain with Wesker (although two different people played him in the movies). Again the same scenario plays out in "Afterlife" with the addition of the Ganados from "Resident Evil 4" (which is one of my favorites although technically, they're not even zombies!) and the Axe-Man from the recent "Resident Evil 5" game (which doesn't even make sense)!
    The action in "Afterlife" is so over the top and with the addition of the more agile and fast-running zombies as in "Extinction" and with Alice's new powers everything becomes an over-done, hyper-active nightmare.
It has more slow-motion fight scenes and "bullet-time" special effects than all 3 "Matrix" movies combined! It never fails when Alice has to jump or make some sort of complicated stunt it goes into slow-motion and we watch close-ups of her bullets as they fly through the air never (missing her mark) as they explode into a zombie's head!
    Another aspect of "Resident Evil: Afterlife" is the addition of the 3D process which has gained both popularity and criticism in mainstream movies with blockbusters like James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland" as well as low-budget horror movies like the recent "Piranha 3D" and the upcoming "Saw 3D". Since 2003 the 3D craze has been steadily increasing and shows no signs of wearing off as more and more films are being released in 3D. To me it seems like a fad; like the 3D movies in the past with its golden age in the 1950's and it re-emergence in the 1980's. Although some films benefit from the 3D process as those who were actually shot in 3D (like "Avatar") but most it feels overblown. The 3D experience may excite some viewers, to me it feels artificial and uncomfortable. I feel it doesn't add anything rewarding to film-going experience.
    With every new sequel to this series we get more and more lost in the heavy continuity and convoluted plotline that by the fifth movie the story will be so confused and tired that they should call the next one "Resident Evil: Exhaustion"! By this time they should let the series die and who knows maybe they will make a prequel? By that time the world will have ended thankfully; or they could even bring in Leon S. Kennedy into the movies (maybe)? If you can look past its many flaws, stereotypical and flat characters, massive plot-holes and altogether confusion "Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D" is an exciting (and overwhelming) experience but don't try too hard to wrap your brain around the plot, you'll just give yourself a headache (or is that just from the 3D glasses?)!

Official Movie Website: http://www.residentevil-movie.com/

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Anime Fest in Dallas!

   I always look forward to Labor Day Weekend, it's like the last breath of summer before the fall starts along with school. Among the many comic/anime conventions around the Dallas area, one event has always been one of my favorites and that is Anime Fest Dallas! Held annually at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion Tower, Anime Fest is a non-profit organization for fans of Japanese Animation where many come from miles around to view new anime, buy & trade merchandise, "and just reveling in all that is anime." I've been a devoted fan and patron of Anime Fest since 1996 where it was held at a small Dallas Holiday Inn with only a small vendor room and one viewing room where we watched bootleg and fan(poorly)-dubbed anime on VHS! Since then it has grown into a huge annual event. Although it may not be as large as Dallas' A-Kon in June, it certainly brings a large number of fans with a huge vendor room, games, viewing, art show and costumes. (Oh, so many Cosplayers!)
Anime Fest is always a satisfying convention and usually not as overcrowded as A-Kon, however with every year it seems to grow and grow, which is fine except it will eventually grow out of the venue and move to a less convenient location. Those of us who live within the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex know we don't have the biggest public transportation system in-between the cities and smaller suburbs but thankfully the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) is reliable and affordable enough and with the Anime Fest being located at Reunion Tower, the trains last stop comes to Union Station which drops you off right at the downstairs entrance to the hotel. This years Anime Fest, like always was a great hit and with special guests like director Kazuyoshi Katayama (Appleseed, Big O) and musical act Nirgilis, a Japanese Techno band, was definitely a success!
I must admit that in recent years I have not been able to endure all 4 days of the convention to the fullest and usually the best days to come is Saturday or Sunday. Unfortunately, I find myself getting older lately and having been an Anime Fest patron for the last 14 years I find that the majority of patrons usually range from within the 15 to 24 year old crowd and feel I have grown out of a lot of the more popular recent anime titles. As I am mostly an old-school type of anime (Gundam, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion) fan I can still find enough merchandise and I always enjoy the various panels and vendors Anime Fest has to offer and I still love seeing all the costumes and cosplayers. Over the years I have observed the changing trends of anime fans and cosplayers with many popular titles whereas a few years ago it was a very heavy Inu Yasha crowd, whereas in recent years fans of other more recent titles such as Full Metal Alchemist, Bleach and Deathnote (or whatever Cartoon Network is showing currently!) gain more popularity. Many of the vendors mostly specialize in toys and other anime knick-knacks along with cosplay (costuming) vendors along with the various sub-cultures for punk, goth and steam-punk varieties. One bizarre fad this year seemed to be the popularity of these curious Japanese pajama-like hoodies called kigurumi, everybody was wearing them!
The best experience I had at this years Anime Fest was that I got to meet director Kazuyoshi Katayama and got his autograph and then later was able to view a very special screening of his new anime film King of Thorn, which was a real treat and many of he fans also seemed to like it. Well, I'm looking forward to next years Anime Fest and hope any fellow anime fans out there in the area will join me!
 Official Site: http://www.animefest.org/

Monday, August 23, 2010

TOP 10 BACK TO SCHOOL MOVIES

 Well, it's back to school time and I thought I would share my Top 10 List of the best Back to School Movies whether they be comedies or dramas, Enjoy!

#10 The Faculty (1998) Elijah Wood takes on alien parasites disguised as teachers! Awesome!

#9 Stand and Deliver (1988) Edward James Olmos teaches math to Lou Diamond Phillips, 'nuff said!

#8 Renaissance Man (1994) Danny De Vito teaches Shakespeare at an Army school. Fun and impressive.

#7 Accepted (2006) Justin Long and Jonah Hill create a fake college that actually works!

#6 School of Rock (2005) Jack Black poses as a substitute teacher and teaches kids about Rock music! Fun and entertaining!

#5 Freedom Writers (2007) Hilary Swank teaches "The Diary of Anne Frank" to inner city High School students. Very moving!

#4 Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) Bill & Ted travel back in time to collect historical figures in order to pass history class! Classic!

#3 Kindergarten Cop (1990) Arnold Schwarzenegger as an undercover cop/kindergarten teacher! "Mr. Kimble, Mr. Kimble!"

#2 Breakfast Club (1985) This is the classic '80s movie that changed detention forever! Bart Simpson's got nothing on Judd Nelson!

#1 Dead Poet's Society (1989) This movie made me want to be a teacher! Robin Williams is great! "Carpe Diem!"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

TOP 10 80'S CARTOONS

     With the resurgence of 80's toy properties in movies and TV I felt like I should acknowledge those cartoons which entertained millions of kids (like myself) during the 1980's! It was a great time to be a kid and I like many others spent countless Saturday mornings glued to some of the most groundbreaking and exciting cartoons ever! Here goes...
#10 "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" (1981) After several cartoons featuring the popular web-slinger, Marvel decided to team Spider-Man up with two other heroes: Iceman and Firestar! (and a dog named Miss Lion?)
#9 "Super-Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show" (1984) Although technically a continuation from the 1973 "Super-Friends" cartoon but in a new format with new super-heroes like Firestorm and villains including Darkseid!
#8 "Voltron: Defender of the Universe" (1985) An American version of the Japanese anime series "Go-Lion".
#7 "Robotech" (1985) An American version of the Japanese anime series "Macross".
#6 "Defenders of the Earth" (1986) Flash Gordon: Savior of the Universe, The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks, Mandrake: The Magician and Lothar? VS. Ming the Merciless!
#5  "Thundercats" (1986) This was one of the most popular series of the 80's and one of the longest running. "Thundercats Ho!"
#4 "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" (1983) One of the most defining cartoons of the 80's and one of the biggest toy lines also!
#3 "The Real Ghostbusters" (1986) (Not to be confused with Filmation's "Ghostbusters") After the successful "Ghostbusters" (1984) film Columbia created a spin-off cartoon series with the ghost Slimer as a "mascot"?
#2 "Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye" (1984) Probably THE most popular cartoon of the 1980's which have survived in numerous incarnations over the years and spawned the blockbuster movies by director Michael Bay!
#1 "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" (1983) After two successful mini-series G.I. Joe earned its own long running series which ran until 1989. This was ultimately my favorite cartoon and also toy series (for which I had VERY many of, even the aircraft carrier!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

TOP 10 BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 - March 15, 1937) 

   H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favorite American authors, an originator of the Weird Tale and creator of The Cthulhu Mythos. Many of his works have been adapted into movies, music, comic books and video games. CHERNOBOG'S LAIR celebrates the 120th anniversary of his birth with a list of his Top 10 movie adaptations.

#10 The Call of Cthulhu (2005) A stylized, direct to DVD, black and white, silent movie made by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (http://www.cthulhulives.org/)
#9 The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1993) John Rhys-Davies stars in this very low budget adaptation featuring its heroine played by Maria Ford appearing throughout most of the movie in the nude!
#8 Die, Monster, Die! (1965) based on the Lovecraft story "The Colour Out of Space" it stars an aging Boris Karloff as a mad scientist.
#7 From Beyond (1986) Director Stuart Gordon and actor Jeffrey Combs, perfect match in this bizarre and overly sexual adaptation of a very short story.
#6 The Haunted Palace (1963) based loosely on the Lovecraft story "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" combined with Edgar Allan Poe's "The Haunted Palace" but it stars Vincent Price and directed by Roger Corman, 'nuff said!
#5 Masters of Horror- Dreams in the Witch-House (2005) Although not a full-length movie, one of the best of the Masters of Horror series directed by Stuart Gordon.
#4 The Dunwich Horror (1970) - A very psychedelic and sexy adaptation starring Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee!
#3 Necronomicon: Book of Dead (1993) A campy collection of vignettes with Jeffrey Combs playing Lovecraft himself in the framing story and an impressive adaptation of Cool Air starring David Warner.
#2 Dagon (2001) - An impressive adaptation by director Stuart Gordon with an odd Spanish twist and creepy fish-people!
#1 Re-Animator (1985) The ultimate Lovecraft movie, Director Stuart Gordon's campy/gory masterpiece starring Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Herbert West!


Also visit my Lovecraft website: http://www.chernobogslair.com/lovecraft/ 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

SPECIAL ANIME REVIEW - KING OF THORN

     This weekend I had the opportunity to view a special screening of a new Japanese anime feature film King of Thorn at AnimeFest in Dallas, TX! From director Kazuyoshi Katayama (Appleseed, Big O) comes an amazing and intense experience featuring a unique blend of traditional and CG animation based on the manga series by Yuji Iwahara. In the year 2015, the mysterious "Medusa" virus becomes a worldwide epidemic. 160 people are chosen to be put into cryogenic sleep at a laboratory inside an ancient Scottish castle to await a future cure. Among those chosen is a teenage girl named Kasumi, reluctant to be separated from her twin sister Shizuku. Upon awakening, her and seven others find themselves surrounded by strange creatures and find the castle covered with giant thorny vines. As the group struggle to escape with their lives they must try to find what happened to them and the world and reveal truth. King of Thorn is based around the timeless fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty and is a running theme throughout the movie. King of Thorn is full of stunning visuals and intense action with some violent imagery. The element of the Medusa virus provides a very disturbing quality to the story as it is very relevant in our world today with the fear of epidemics/pandemics although being set in the near future. Although the supposed effects of the fictional virus does seem somewhat unrealistic as victims are almost literally turned to stone and petrified, it is feasible in this Sci-Fi setting. Like many anime feature films in the past like Akira or Ghost in the Shell there is always an element of confusion in the somewhat convoluted story which is common in many "high-brow" animes which personally I love but the concepts may be lost on many audiences who are not used to anime. King of Thorn is planned to have a short run in American theatres before it is to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 27!
Official Site: http://www.kingofthorn.net/

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TOP 10 COMIC BOOK/SUPERHERO MOVIES

    I am a huge comic book fanboy ("I have issues"!), although there are many comic book movies that fall extremely far from their original comic there are a select few that actually impress and remain true to their comic roots and succeed.

 #10 Sin City (2005) Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's stunningly beautiful masterpiece!
#9 V for Vendetta (2005) Alan Moore's story and the Wachowski Brothers directing, Amazing!
#8 Iron Man (2008) Beginning the new era of Marvel comics movies for years to come!
#7 Watchmen (2009) Zack Snyder's brilliant opus of a comic classic brought to life!
#6 Hellboy (2004) Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman, a match made in HELL!
#5 Spider-Man (2002) An almost perfect superhero film, Tobey Maguire IS Spider-Man!
#4 X-Men (2000) Patrick Stewart as Prof. X and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, 'nuff said!
#3 The Dark Knight (2008) Christopher Nolan's vision and Heath Ledger as the creepiest Joker ever made it awesome!
#2 Superman (1978) This one started it all, without this movie comic book films would have never made it!
#1 Batman (1989) This movie changed my life and made me a life-long Batman (and Tim Burton) fan!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

RIDE FOR DIME 2010

   This Saturday, I got to participate in a yearly celebration of the life of one of my favorite musicians. Since the tragic death of Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Darrel "Dimebag" Abbott in 2004, local bands get together for a charitable music event to honor 'Dimebag' called "RIDE FOR DIME". This year it was held at the Dreamworld Music Complex in Arlington, Texas. The event started at 3:15pm at Longhorn Harley Davidson in Grand Prairie, Texas where hundreds of bikers rode their motorcycles down to the Dreamworld Music Complex hosting an all-night long concert starting at 4pm featuring: Cowboys from Hell Paso, Texas Hippie Coalition, Pumpjack, White Collar Ghetto, Sweettooth, Soulless Intent, Conviction, Threat Level, Whiskey Dick, and 100 Proof Hatred. The whole event was to benefit "Little Kids Rock" an organization which brings musical instruments to children, the event was hosted by local radio station 97.1 The Eagle. I had been a fan of Pantera and Damageplan for several years and was one of many who was deeply saddened by 'Dimebag's' untimely death at the hands of a crazy, gun-toting fan while performing in Columbus, Ohio in 2004. I had the privilege of seeing Pantera performing live several times in Dallas but was not able to see 'Dimebag' play live with Damageplan. Unfortunately this is the first time I had heard of "Ride for Dime" but was excited to be a part of it. Obviously, I didn't own a Harley so I did not take part in the actual "ride" for Dime but was able to attend the benefit concert held at Dreamworld Music Complex, which surprisingly was more like a converted barn turned into a club. Outside was a sweltering 100 degrees Texas heat and unfortunately almost as hot inside too. Around the complex was parked over hundreds of motorcycles, more than I've ever seen. There were several booths and tents outside, some selling various merchandise along with booths for The Eagle and also The Clubhouse, a local Dallas strip club once owned by Pantera. The experience was unique from other concerts I had been to recently, I was never much of a clubber and the environment of the place seemed more like a biker bar. There was lots of bikers, scantly clad girls and beer, lots and lots of beer! I never felt unwanted as the event attracted all kinds of people. The majority of attendees were mostly bikers and local musicians. I was impressed to see a lot of people donning Black Label Society vests and 'Dimebag' T-shirts and I felt like I was participating in something for charity, and that's good. Some of the bands weren't bad and I admit I had not heard of many of them since I have not been too much into the local music scene since college. One band in particular I was most impressed with instead of all the Pantera "wannabes" was a duo called Whiskey Dick, a duo of acoustic/electric guitar players with a country/metal theme, they were rough and with a raunchy sense of humor but I was really impressed when they performed a cover of Zakk Wylde's "In This River" a tribute to 'Dimebag'. Besides the heat, the whole event was quite an experience, I look forward to next year's "Ride for Dime".

Sunday, July 18, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE

     How could CHERNOBOG'S LAIR ignore a film based on a segment from Disney's Fantasia? Without Fantasia , there would be no "Night on Bald Mountain" and no Chernabog! From the director and producers of National Treasure (also starring Nicholas Cage) comes a movie based on The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a 10-minute sequence from Walt Disney's "Fantasia" (1940), for those who DON'T KNOW, an animated concert film that revolutionized feature animation. Although the original story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice is significantly changed for the movie's plot, "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a fun and exciting film with a surprisingly heavy scientific and magical theme including impressive magical special effects and a decent story for a PG rated family movie. "Sorcerer's Apprentice" stars Nicholas Cage as Balthazar Blake, one of three apprentices to the legendary wizard Merlin. When another of Merlin's apprentices, Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina) betrays him and allies with the evil Morgana (Alice Krige). Balthazar manages to trap both Horvath and Morgana in a magical nesting doll; but not before Veronica (Monica Bellucci), another apprentice and Balthazar's lover is also trapped. For the next 1000 years the immortal Balthazar searches for a way to free Veronica and to try to find the Prime Merlinian, Merlin's magical successor. After centuries of searching he finally finds him in the most unlikely of persons, Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel), a very-geeky physics major who's been experimenting with Tesla coils. Balthazar takes it upon himself to train Dave to be a sorcerer. While Dave becomes distracted by his childhood sweetheart Becky (Teresa Palmer), Horvath (now free from an antique Chinese urn) seeks to free Morgana and other evil sorcerers from the nesting doll and destroy the world!
    Although this Sorcerer's Apprentice doesn't feature Mickey Mouse in a pointy hat, it does pay homage to the classic scene of the enchanted brooms. Dave tries to clean up his secluded laboratory and misuses his newly found magical powers, enchanting a whole closet of brooms and mops which backfires. As with other Disney inspired movies such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series, "Apprentice" has almost nothing to do with the original source material, be it ride or movie. However, there is a  homage to the original Sorcerer's Apprentice in a special scene after the end credits. (I won't spoil it!) Although the movie was fun and entertaining, the story does become  convoluted with too many extra characters and a bizarre plot. Nicholas Cage pulls off the character of Balthazar with humorous eccentricity although still retaining his very dull personality. The young star of the movie, Jay Baruchel, has proven himself as an up and coming star with his characters in such comedies as Fanboys (2008) and Tropic Thunder (2008), and fresh from his first starring role with this years She's Out Of My League. While he successfully pulls off the innocent and extremely awkward "nerdiness" well, his overly bumbling and goofy character in Sorcerer's Apprentice is almost too overdone bordering on annoying and even excessive. An hour and a half of his whiny/nasally voice becomes almost unbearable! Despite Jay's nerdy foibles "Sorcerer's Apprentice" is a fun movie but sadly fails to compare with the success of Pirates or National Treasure chocking up another Disney financial flop this year like Prince of Persia. Although I have to admit that I enjoyed both Prince of Persia and Sorcerer's Apprentice, I feel that both of the films suffer both critically and financially with having to "measure up" to Disney $100 million blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean or Alice in Wonderland(coincidently both starring Johnny Depp). Although I'm sure movie going audiences (and myself) can't get enough of Johnny Depp, I wonder how the movie would have done with Depp as Balthazar and who knows, maybe one of the "Twilight" teens as Dave? (yeah right!)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: PREDATORS

    Since our last disappointing venture into the Predator universe with 2007 's "Aliens VS. Predator: Requiem", Robert Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios took it upon themselves to remake or re-imagine the Predator franchise with the release of "Predators"! For most fans of the Aliens/Predator franchises like myself, I was looking forward to this fresh new approach and being written and produced by Robert Rodriguez ("Grindhouse") and directed by Nimród Antal ("Vacancy" (2007) it seemed like a match made in heaven (or space)! Unfortunately, as "Predators" seems more like a remake, it was meant to be a sequel to "Predator" (1987) and "Predator 2" (1990) but instead of following the Aliens VS. Predator series. As "Predators" starts off with good intentions and a seemingly original new story, the movie begins very quickly as our main character Royce (Adrian Brody) appears unconscious and plummeting towards a thick jungle, then suddenly parachuting just in time. With no memory of why or how he got there, he meets other just as clueless, (and very random) victims who follow into a seemingly sick practical joke. With at least 8 others including various soldiers or criminal characters played by a variety of actors like Danny Trejo ("Machete"), Alice Braga ("I Am Legend"), and even Topher Grace ("Spider-Man 3")?! They soon figure out they are on another planet which is basically an alien game preserve for the Predators, who seem more savage and bloodthirsty than ever. As the group quickly dwindles one-by-one they run into Noland (a very chubby Laurence Fishburne) a crazy, lone, survivalist who manages only to complicate the groups situation. As time is running out, whoever is left must try to find a way to either defeat the Predators or make it off the planet; easier said than done!
    The biggest problem is that the story is very unoriginal by merely turning the original story from the first "Predator" movie around. In the first movies the Predators come down to Earth to hunt their prey, but now, in "Predators", the prey are brought to the Predators! The motley crew of characters in the group are SO random and as half of them are picked off very quickly we don't know anything about them or do we even care?! Royce (Brody) and Isabelle (Braga) seem to be the focus as they develop some semblance of a relationship, but with the others, you have everything from a Mexican mob enforcer, to a Yakuza hit man, an African guerrilla fighter, a Russian heavy machine gunner, and even a death row convict and a doctor! It's a wonder Rodriguez even bothered to try and remake "Predator" because despite the difference in the group of "victims" the story is almost the exact same as the group tries to survive against the Predators who hunt them one-by-one, which remain just as mysterious as in the first one with little or no new revelations to the Predator culture as with "Aliens VS. Predator". The character Isabelle (Braga) even makes a reference to the events of the first "Predator" movie as she compares it to their own situation (déjà vu!). The most disappointing of all is Laurence Fishburne's character, who is so over the top insane he reminds me of the crazy guy (Ben Gunn) in "Treasure Island" (READ A BOOK!) that he becomes so uninteresting and (SPOILER!) dies so quickly in the movie we don't even have time to figure him out! All in all, the worst thing about this movie is the fact that the music/soundtrack in the movie is almost the exact same as the original 1987 movie! They didn't even bother giving it it's own score, the themes are the same! You almost expect Arnold Schwarzenegger to pop out from behind a tree! The only interesting part of "Predators" is when the movie alludes to a kind of race war between two kinds of Predators. There are the traditional/classic Predators which we know of but really only see one of in this movie and then there are the more savage Predators who are the main antagonists. Despite the attempt at introducing a new kind of Predator, it remains just as futile as the appearance of the half-Alien half-Predator in AVP2! Overall I was significantly bored and disappointed with "Predators". I can't see Adrian Brody as an action hero and I definitely can't stand Topher Grace! I think the funniest part in the whole movie is the cameo from Danny Trejo, a popular character actor who's made cameos in various movies along with several of Robert Rodriguez's own films such as "Desperado" (1995) and "From Dusk Till Dawn" (1996) but who will also be appearing in the movie "Machete" in September as he reprises the same character he appeared in a farce-trailer for Rodriguez's "Grindhouse: Planet Terror" (2007), coincidentally enough, the actual trailer for the real "Machete" movie appears before "Predators" in theaters!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

THE BIG FOUR LIVE!

   On June, 22 2010, I got to experience a unique concert/movie: "THE BIG FOUR" LIVE - METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER & ANTHRAX! Live from from the Sonisphere Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria, broadcasted via satellite to thousands of movie theaters in the world. Although being away from home at a convention in Kansas City, Missouri, I was able to get tickets online. This movie was only showing for one day, one time only! Even at $18 a ticket, it was well worth it to see this rare concert event rather than having to travel halfway across the globe to Bulgaria of all places to see this one time concert. Never in the last 30 years have all four of  these bands (most of all my favorites) been on the same venue at once! Metallica (being THE biggest of the four) of course had top billing but having Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax together was truly a special treat. The movie began at 7:30pm in one of the smaller screens in the theater. More like watching a Pay-Per-View show at home, a Dish Network satellite menu popped up to play the movie on the big screen. Thankfully without any signal loss the movie played without interference for four and a half hours! I was surprised however that the turnout for this once-in-a-lifetime event was very sparse with only 20-25 attendees in the theater. The movie started somewhat slow as the cameras would show scenes of the crowd as they filled the stadium and even sitting through the sound check for almost thirty minutes but with a few candid interviews with Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) as a group and a single interview with Kerry King (Slayer) about the concert. Although some may be surprised to see that even a European audience at a metal concert is not all that different from an American metal concert. I feel like we we're part of one worldwide Metal family! The significance of "The Big Four" comes from these four bands being the originators of the Thrash genre of Heavy Metal Music from the Southern California, Los Angeles and San Francisco area with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. Although originally from New York Anthrax is also included in The Big Four with their own unique style of thrash which all derives from hard rock and punk/hardcore influences. Anthrax is also one of the few metal bands who collaborated with rap artists with their 1991 version of "Bring the Noise". Although several of these bands have toured together it is between Metallica and Megadeth who have had the biggest rivalry for years as lead singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine was originally a member of Metallica.
    Finally, the concert began as ANTHRAX first took the stage. Although the band has gone through several incarnations with different singers recently including John Bush but for this event, Anthrax reunited (again) with fan-favorite singer Joey Belladonna. As they began a backdrop featuring the cover of their 1987 album Among The Living. They opened with "Caught in a Mosh" the band put on an impressive set with popular songs like "Madhouse", "Metal Thrashing Mad", "I Am The Law", "Got The Time", "Antisocial" and "Indians" where Joey donned a long, colorful, Native American headdress and raced back and forth on the stage. During the set they also did a short tribute to Ronnie James Dio in playing an excerpt from "Heaven and Hell"! Although vocalist Joey Belladonna was noticeably unable to hit some of those high register notes that he was able to back in 1985 watching his natural energy and seeing Scott Ian's hyper style of playing it was clear that the definitive version of Anthrax is back and played a great set beginning the Big Four event!
    Following Anthrax was MEGADETH, beginning and ending with "Holy Wars...Punishment Due" in front of a backdrop depicting the cover to 1990's Rust In Peace album. This event is full of reunions as original bassist David Ellefson, who had returned after 8 years, rejoined Megadeth. With Dave Mustaine's signature vocal-styling and virtuoso playing Megadeth performed "Headcrusher", "Countdown To Extinction", "In My Darkest Hour", "Sweating Bullets" and of course "Peace Sells". Despite the clear weather during Anthrax's set as Megadeth came on ironically dark clouds formed and began raining down hard on the crowd. Although much of the stage was dry it was unclear whether the rain would ruin such a monumental event as many of the attendees put on many colorful rain ponchos. The rain also had an affect on the filming of the concert as the camera man who were very noticeable several of the cameras were flecked with water spots. Megadeth put on a great show with no signs of slowing down on their trademark speed and technical musical expertise. Although Dave Mustaine was not very responsive with the crowd until the end, it was definitely an impressive set. Finally as Megadeth finished up with "Peace Sells" the rain stopped but the dark clouds filled the sky in preparation for the next band.
    SLAYER appeared next in front of a dark red splotched background resembling the design of their newest album World Painted Blood (2009) Among thrash/heavy metal Slayer has to be the darkest and heaviest of the Big Four, having influenced many death metal bands. Also in this event marks singer Tom Araya's return to touring after his back surgery earlier this year.  With the original lineup of Slayer together since 2001 with original drummer Dave Lombardo Slayer is just as powerful as ever. Starting with "World Painted Blood" and "Hate Worldwide" they also performed "South of Heaven", "War Ensemble", "Chemical Warfare", "Angel of Death" and of course "Raining Blood" following an ear-pounding onslaught of dissonant feedback as guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King stood against the amplifiers with their backs to the audience for at least a full 5 minutes, which got a huge response out of the crowd!
    Despite the slow beginning to the concert film, there were NO breaks between sets, only a brief animation of Sonisphere's logo accompanied by a excerpt from Metallica's "Broken, Beat & Scarred" from Death Magnetic. For such a long concert you'd think there would be at least an intermission halfway through! Thankfully there was a short 10 minute break before Metallica came on with interviews from the band on the passing of Ronnie James Dio. As night fell the stage was set up for Metallica's set, instead of a backdrop there was a large video screen behind the stage along with the other two smaller screens on either side of the stage throughout the whole concert.
video
 METALLICA began their set with their signature theme music "The Ecstasy of Gold" by Ennio Morricone, borrowed from the soundtrack to the Clint Eastwood western film "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" with a scene from the film being played on the screens Metallica entered playing "Creeping Death" followed by "For Whom The Bell Tolls". Megadeth also performed "Cyanide", "Master of Puppets" along with "Fade to Black" featuring an acoustic intro by front man James Hetfield and also an impressive pyrotechnic display for the introduction of "One". After finishing with an energetic performance of "Seek and Destroy" with new bassist Robert Trujillo's now famous spinning bass act, Metallica soon returned for a monumental encore performance in what would be, as James described the "The Big Four" event as "history is happening right now!" The stage was filled with extra equipment as Metallica was joined by almost every member of both Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer to perform a cover of "Am I Evil" by Diamond Head! It was quite a site to see as there were at least 15 musicians on stage playing together, especially seeing both James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine side by side playing together after 27 years!
     "The Big Four Live" was definitely not something to be missed by any heavy metal fan! Although such a rare performance, it was successfully broadcasted via satellite in movie theaters all around the world, it's a wonder why they chose such an obscure venue for the concert after all but it proved to be a phenomenal event. "The Big Four Live" was comparably the "Woodstock" of Heavy Metal and anyone who missed it should be kicking themselves with a steel-toed boot!
http://www.thebigfourlive.com/