CHERNOBOG'S LAIR.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Birthday Special: Stan Lee - Top 10 Comic Books

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STAN LEE!!!
Stan "The Man" Lee
 has been THE single most influential person in comic books and popular culture for the last 50 years! He is all things including: writer, editor, producer, publisher, the former President and Chairman of Marvel Comics Group, currently Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Comics, Founder, Chairman and CCO of POW! Entertainment, TV personality and even sometimes actor! He is most known as the creator (or sometimes "co-creator") of Marvel Comics' characters such as The Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, The X-Men, and of course, The Amazing Spider-Man!
Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber on December 28, 1922 in New York City. Stan had an early interest in writing and journalism and when he enlisted in the U.S. Army during WWII he worked in the Signal Corps. When he was hired by comic book publisher Martin Goodman at Timely Comics it wasn't long before he began writing for the comics including for such characters as Captain America. As comic book superheroes were gaining popularity in the late 1950's and early 60's including DC Comics' own Justice League of America, Stan saw the opportunity to create new superheroes with real character and personality. Already dissatisfied with his own work, he was prepared to quit the business entirely until he was assigned to create a new team of superheroes. What resulted was the creation of the Fantastic Four and their popularity sparked even more creations such as Spider-Man and The X-Men...and of course the rest, is history! CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Proudly Presents in honor of Stan Lee's 89th Birthday The Top 10 Stan Lee Comic Books! "Excelsior!"

#10 Spider-Man/Kingpin: To The Death (1997) - In this one-shot graphic novel Spider-Man is wanted for a crime he didn't commit and both fellow heroes and villains alike are after him! With the help of Daredevil he's able to clear his name and protect the city from the rivalry between Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin and Zoltaro.

#9 Daredevil #47 (Dec. 1968), "Brother, Take My Hand" - Daredevil visits a blind African-American soldier who later seeks out the help of Lawyer Matt Murdock in one of the first anti-prejudice stories in Marvel Comics.

#8 The X-Men #9 (Jan. 1965), "Enter, The Avengers" - While The Avengers interfere with the X-Men's mission, Professor Xavier seeks the villain Lucifer who was the one caused the loss of his legs.

#7 Thor #180-181 (Sept./Oct. 1970), "When Gods Go Mad" - Loki has switched bodies with Thor and is wreaking havoc on New York City! Also featuring Mephisto!

#6 Amazing Spider-Man #50 (July 1967), "Spider-Man No More!" - Peter Parker's life has become too complicated, with Aunt May in the hospital, J. Jonah Jameson continuing his anti-Spider-Man publicity and Peter's falling grades in college he decides to quit being Spider-Man! But soon, he realizes that he is needed and becomes Spider-Man again!

#5 Marvel Premiere Featuring Dr. Strange #3 (July 1972), "While The World Spins Mad!" - Dr. Strange is hit by a truck and lost in the Dream World pursued by Nightmare!

#4 Silver Surfer #5 (Apr. 1969), "And Who Shall Mourn For Him?" - The Silver Surfer steals the Space Scrambler from the Fantastic Four in order to break the dimensional barrier that imprisons him. Also featuring The Stranger!

#3 Captain America #16 (Nov. 1940), "Red Skull's Deadly Revenge" - One of Stan's first Capt. America stories as a young writer for (then) Timely Comics. The Red Skull escapes from prison and learns the identity of Capt. America!

#2 Fantastic Four #48-50 (1966), "The Galactus Trilogy" - Considered to be one of the most monumental story-arcs in the early history of Marvel Comics. It featured the first appearance of Galactus and The Silver Surfer!

#1 Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May-July 1971), "And Now, The Goblin!" - One of the most controversial and influential stories in comics, the story dealt with anti-drug themes and was published without the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval despite the current censorship standards. This three-issue arc featured a major battle between Spider-Man and his arch-enemy The Green Goblin and dealt with Norman Osborn's son Harry's drug addiction. This changed the way comics were viewed in the public and mainstream media and it started a legacy that Stan lee helped to create setting the standard for Marvel Comics' long reputation for innovation and unique story-telling. "'Nuff said!"

Follow Stan Lee on Twitter @TheRealStanLee, and visit The Real Stan Lee.com

Saturday, December 24, 2011

TOP 12 BEST (WORST) XMAS VILLAINS

Well, it's that time of year again and with all the awful and annoying Christmas specials and movies out there we sometimes forget that a lot of those movies have some of the best (or worst) villains this horrible holiday has to offer. Forget about "Peace on Earth" and Christmas cheer, these holiday badasses are devoted to spreading Christmas FEAR! What would this jolly holiday be without a few merry miscreants to cause trouble. So, in honor of this frightfully festive time of year CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents: The TOP 12 BEST (WORST) XMAS VILLAINS! Why 12...? Duh, Twelve Days of Christmas! Enjoy and Bah Humbug! (Why is it so short, because I've been to busy to write it and you're probably too busy to read it...LOL)
#12 Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), Die Hard (1988)
#11 Jack Frost (Martin Short), Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)
#10 Snow Miser/Heat Miser, The Year Without A Sanat Claus (1974)
#9 The Winter Warlock, Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (1970)
#8 Mr. B.Z. (John Lithgow), Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)
#7 The Abominable Snow Monster, a.k.a. "Bumble", Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
#6 Stripe, Gremlins (1984) - Gizmo
#5 Mr. Henry F. Potter, a.k.a. "Old Man Potter" (Lionel Barrymore), It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
#4 Harry and Marv, a.k.a. "The Wet Bandits" (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), Home Alone (1990)
#3 Mr. Oogie-Boogie, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
#2 The Grinch (Boris Karloff & Jim Carrey), How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1964/2000)
#1 Ebeneezer Scrooge A Christmas Carol - (Reginald Owen, Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Jim Carrey and 200 others!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

METALLICA'S 30th ANNIVERSARY: TOP 10 SONGS

Metallica
METALLICA!!! Formed in San Francisco, California in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield, Metallica is THE most popular heavy metal band in the world today! Along with their definitive lineup during the 1980's which included lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and virtuoso bass player Cliff Burton (1962-1986) Metallica was a powerful part of the Bay area Thrash Metal scene. Through all of the lineup changes (Dave Mustaine fired in 1982), deaths (Cliff Burton death in 1986), injuries (James' burning in 1992), breakups (Jason Newstead leaving in 2000) and controversies (Napster) Metallica is still #1. With their current lineup of James, Lars, Kirk and bassist Robert Trujillo, this year Metallica celebrates their 30th Anniversary with special perfomances (Metallica's 30th Anniversary Shows) and releasing previously unreleased songs from their last album Death Magentic. So to celebrate Metallica's 30th Anniversary, CHERNOOG'S BLOG Presents: The Top 10 Metallica Songs!

#10 "Some Kind of Monster", St. Anger (2003) - After bassist Jason Newstead left the band to pursue other projects it formed a schism in the group that also unearthed other problems as well, such as James' alcohol problems. James entered rehab and returned over a year later to begin work on a new album. With the addition on a new bass player, Robert Trujillo the band became whole again and released St. Anger, an album which would cause much controversy in critics and fans alike. "Some Kind of Monster" reflects the bands inner demons that revealed themselves during that time. The song title also happens to be the name of the documentary released in 2003 which revealed the turmoil in the group as they went into therapy.

#9 "The Day That Never Comes", Death Magnetic (2008) - The single and accompanied music video to this song is very powerful. As the band returned to more of a heavier thrash sound with Death Magnetic, the song's arrangement is much like "Master of Puppets" era Metallica. "The Day That Never Comes" addresses the issues of forgiveness and resentment while the music video reveals scenes of soldiers in the Middle East.

#8 "Until It Sleeps", Load (1996) - When Metallica returned after a long break in 1996 they stunned their fans and the music industry with drastic changes to their style and image to a more alternative sound and short hair! "Until It Sleeps" is a hauntingly powerful song about anger, loss and emotional pain. The music video is a surprisingly artistic and surreal visions featuring hellish images akin to the artwork of Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch.
Metallica circa 1983
 
#7 "Orion", Master of Puppets (1986) - One of the few instrumental songs in Metallica's career, "Orion" is a progressive symphonic masterpiece. The song features solo's from former bassist Cliff Burton, with his classical-style rhythm and harmony. Coincidentally the song was played at Cliff's Funeral and is rarely played live.

#6 "Enter Sandman", Metallica, a.k.a. 'The Black Album' (1991) - The "Black Album" is Metallica's most commercially and critically successful albums to date earning a #1 spot on the Billboard charts and has sold 22 million copies worldwide. With producer Bob Rock, the band spent almost a year in the studio recording it and fine tuning it until it's release. Although there was much tension and animosity between Rock and the band the final result would soon become Metallica's most popular album. "Enter Sandman" would become the most played single from that album and would earnt hem a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1992.

#5  "Master of Puppets", Master of Puppets (1986) - One of Metallica's most popular and complex songs ever, "Master of Puppets" deals with drug addiction and their power to control your mind. One of bassist Cliff Burton's favorites, it is notable for it's extensive use of heavy downpicking style and instrumental bridge.

#4 "Fade To Black", Ride the Lightning (1984) - When Metallica released their second album Ride the Lightning in 1984, the first single to be released from that album was "Fade To Black", a controversial ballad about death and suicide. The song features an accoustic introduction by James Hetfield. The album would cause much controversy from fans who were used to Metallica's signature speed and thrash style, critics and the industry would pan this uncharacteristic song but would soon define Metallica's style and evolution. It remains one of their most popular song and live favorites. Coinidentally, it was during the intro to this song when James Hetfield was accidentally burned by pyrotechnics while on tour with Guns 'n Roses in Canada in 1992.
Metallica circa 1991
#3 "One", ...And Justice For All (1988) - Even though Metallica had already released 3 albums and several singles, they were mostly ignored by mainstream media includeing radio and MTV. In 1988 when Metallica released their 4th album ...And Justice For All  with new bass player Jason Newstead the band finally decided to produce a music video for the song "One", a song about a soldier who is severly wounded during battle and is unable to speak or move. The song was based on the novel Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (1939). The black and white music video would feature the band playing in a warehouse setting followed by scenes from the 1971 film version. The band also released a band-only version of the video for the home video "2 of One". The song features sound wartime effects in the introduction followed by a slow ballad and then into a heavy machine gun-like guitar buildup.

#2 "For Whom The Bell Tolls", Ride the Lightning (1984) - Inspired by the 1940 Ernest Hemingway novel, "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is one of Metallica's most popular and intricate songs, also a live fan-favorite the song features a haunting bell-chime not unlike AC/DC's "Hells Bells". Another of Cliff Burton's arrangements, the introduction is comprised of one of his signature distorted bass-solos.

#1 "Whiplash", Kill 'Em All (1983) - When Metallica was signed by Megaforce Records in 1982 following the success of their popular demo No Life 'til Leather, they planned to release their debut album originally titled Metal Up Your Ass! However due to conflicts with the record label and distributors, they decided to change the name to Kill 'Em All reflecting the bands initial disdain for the mainstream music industry. As they grew in popularity in the underground metal scene who would've thought that 30 years later they would be THE most popular heavy metal band in the world! The first single to be released from the album was "Whiplash", a heavy, pounding song describing the life of a touring metal band and the energy you get from a performance. The following lyrics would say it best in summing up what would be the life legacy and power that is METALLICA:

"The show is through, the metal is gone, It's time to hit the road!
Another town another gig, again we will explode!
Hotel rooms and motorways, life out here is raw
But We will never stop, We will never quit,
Cause we're METALLICA!"
Metallica's Official Website: http://www.metallica.com/

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Birthday Special: Top 10 Ozzy Osbourne Albums

Happy Birthday Ozzy Osbourne! The "Prince of F***ing Darkness" was born John Michael Osbourne on December 3, 1948 in Aston, Birmingham, England. The fourth of six children to a poor, working-class family, Ozzy seemed doomed to fail at an early age. A poor student, he dropped out of school at age 15 and had many odd jobs such as working in construction, plumbing, and at a slaughter house. He ended up in prison for stealing, sentenced to six weeks, he was released and given a new lease on life and decided to turn to music. He soon joined several small bands until he joined Earth with guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. The band soon changed their name to Black Sabbath in 1969 and changed music history forever creating a new sound which would eventually be known as heavy metal!
After several best-selling albums and world tours, tensions in the band grew as did Ozzy's alcohol and drug abuse, he was fired from the band in 1979. With the help of his now wife/manager Sharon Osbourne, he began a successful solo career and has since become known as "The Godfather of Heavy Metal". From bat-biting lunatic to reality-TV dad, Ozzy Osbourne has been a major figure in hard rock and heavy metal for over 40 years! As one of my favorite music artists I wanted to celebrate Ozzy's 63rd birthday with this list. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents The Top 10 Best Ozzy Osbourne Albums: Enjoy!

#10 Scream (2010) - After the departure of guitarist and long time collaborator Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society), Ozzy had recruited up and coming guitarist Gus G. on his latest album Scream, which features songs "Let Me Hear You Scream", "Life Won't Wait", and "Let It Die".

#9 Ozzmosis (1995) - After Ozzy returned from his so called "retirement" after No More Tears, he released a somewhat different sounding and experimental album, Ozzmosis, which featured "I Just Want You", "See You On The Other Side" and "Perry Mason". Shortly after this album, Ozzy released a greatest hits album, The Ozazman Cometh (1997), which included a new song "Back On Earth" and several previously unreleased Black Sabbath demos.

#8 Down To Earth (2001) - After a seven year-long hiatus Ozzy released Down To Earth which went platinum in 2003. The album featured bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies) and drummer Mike Bordin (Faith No More). It includes songs such as: "Gets Me Through", "Dreamer" and "Running Out of Time". During the tour which included the performance Live at Budokan, Ozzy recruited former Metallica bass player Jason Newstead after Trujillo joined Metallica which caused much controversy.

#7 Black Rain (2007) - After another long hiatus Ozzy and guitarist Zakk Wylde would join to record a new album, Black Rain, which includes: "Not Going Away", "I Don't Wanna Stop", "Black Rain". Unfortunately in 2009 Ozzy decided to seek a new guitar player, claiming Zakk's style was becoming too much like his own band, Black Label Society, which he had been playing on and off with since 1998. Later that year, Ozzy would perform at BlizzCon, Blizzard Entertainment's annual gaming convention and to the shock of many fans, with his new guitar player Gus G!

#6 The Ultimate Sin (1986) - Ozzy's 4th studio album featured bassist Phil Soussan and drummer Randy Castillo (died in 2002). It included the title track "The Ultimate Sin", "Killer of Giants", and the hit single "Shot in the Dark" (one of my personal favorites) which was also co-written by Soussan and unfortunately later was not re-issued due to continuing legal battles with the bass player.
Ozzy in the '80s

#5 Bark at the Moon (1983) - After the untimely death of guitarist Randy Rhoads, Ozzy recruited guitar player Jake E. Lee, formerly of Ratt, to record his third album which featured "Bark At The Moon", "Rock 'N' Roll Rebel", and "Now You See It (Now You Don't") it quickly went gold. The music video for the title track was filmed in an actual sanitarium outside of London.

#4 No Rest for the Wicked (1988) - After Jake E. Lee left Ozzy in 1987 and Ozzy continued to suffer with drug and alcohol addiction, he soon found guitarist Zakk Wylde and recorded No Rest for the Wicked which included songs like "Miracle Man", "Crazy Babies" and "Breaking All The Rules". With the following tour Ozzy reunited with Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler. Later they would release a live album, Just Say Ozzy in 1990.

#3 No More Tears (1991) - Considered to be one of Ozzy's most popular and most commercially successful albums, No More Tears featured the Grammy winning song "I Don't Want To Change The World" along with "Mama, I'm Coming Home", "Road To Nowhere", and the title track "No More Tears", the edited version would would see tons of radio play as well as the video on MTV. This would be the second album to feature guitarist Zakk Wylde. Also lending his songwriting talents to the album was Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead. After touring for the album Ozzy claimed he was retiring with his "No More Tours" Tour, but he would soon return...

#2 Diary of a Madman (1981) - Ozzy's second album was released only a year after his first to keep his name and sales fresh on the Billboard charts. It featured such hits as "Over The Mountain", "Flying High Again", "You Can't Kill Rock and Roll", and "Diary of a Madman". Sadly, shortly after the album's release, guitarist Randy Rhoads was tragically killed in an accident involving a light-aircraft on March 19, 1982. His friendship with Ozzy and his musical genius will never be equaled.

#1 Blizzard of Ozz (1980) - The first and the best, Blizzard of Ozz was Ozzy Osbourne's debut solo album. Featuring guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads, Blizzard of Ozz was originally the name of the band but they soon realized that Ozzy's name would be the driving force and with the next album left it simply as Ozzy Osbourne. Blizzard was a huge commercial success, selling over 6,000,000 copies and certified 4X Platinum. With songs like "I Don't Know", Goodbye to Romance", "Mr. Crowley", "Suicide Solution" and of course, his most famous hit: "Crazy Train", makes Blizzard the #1 Best Ozzy album that has since never been surpassed!

LINK: The Official Ozzy Osbourne Website
My photo of Ozzy at "I AM Ozzy"
booksigning in Dallas, TX, 2/27/2010
See my blog entry: An Adventure in Dissapointment 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

World of Warcraft's 7th Anniversary: Top 10 Classic Dungeons

It's World of Warcaft's Seventh Anniversary! As a devoted fan and player, (although sometimes off and on) I've played through my share pf dungeons and raids. It's not always easy to find the right combination of players who can effectively deal damage, heal or tank. But, if you can cooperate with other players long enough to successfully complete a dungeon or raid without getting kicked, then you will reap the benefits including all the loot, and rare items you can carry (not to mention the XP)! Every dungeon and raid has it's own charm and unique qualities but there are a few particular ones who always give the best drops and provide the most fun! CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents: The Top 10 World of Warcraft Classic Dungeons...Enter Dungeon!

#10 Stormwind Stockade (20-30) - A maximum-security prison complex beneath Stormwind. When a prisoner-led revolt left Warden Thelwater incapable of managing the chaos, he left it up to the warriors and heroes of Stormwind to quell the riot of Stormwind's most wanted criminals!
#9 Wailing Caverns (15-25) - Discovered by the Night-Elf druid Naralex, the Wailing Caverns lie beneath the Northern Barrens. Once known as the Emerald Dream, the caverns once pure underground springs are now a breeding ground for the most foul and vicious creatures!

#8 Ragefire Chasm (15-21) - The chasm consists of a network of volcanic caverns which lie underneath the Orc city of Orgrimmar. Inhabited by followers of a demonic cult known as the Searing Blade, the cult seek to threaten Durotar and the forces of The Horde.

#7 Deadmines (15-21) - Once a plentiful gold mine for the Kingdom of Stormwind, now it is a base of operations for the Defias Brotherhood. Led by Vanessa VanCleef, daughter of former leader Edwin VanCleef, she leads the Defias in a plot to bring down the kingdom and to avenge her father's death!

#6 Shadowfang Keep (16-26) - Near Pyrewood Village in the Silverpine forest looms this dark fortress. Lord Vincent Godfrey has taken over this haunted castle along with several creatures of The Scourge and ghosts of the past!

#5 Scarlet Monastery (26-45) - One the center of learning and enlightenment in the Kingdom of Lorderon, with the rise of The Scourge, the monastery became a fortress for the religious fanatics known as The Scarlet Crusade. The crusaders are intolerant of all non-human races seeking to rid Azeroth of the undead plague. Their leaders, Scarlet Commander Mograine and High Inquisitor Whitemane, command a vast army of devoted zealots.

#4 Scholomance (38-48) - Beneath the keep of Caer Darrow lies a series of crypts once owned by the noble Barov family. Now the wizard Kel'Thuzad, servant of the Lich King and his Cult of the Damned have overrun the crypts and turned it into a school for necromancy!

#3  Dire Maul (36-52) - The ancient city of Eldre'Thalas now lie in ruins infested by the spectral Highborne, satyrs and ogres. As you make your way through this dungeon's three districts you will face several deadly bosses such as Zevrim Foulhoof, Prince Tortheldrin and the demonic Immo'thar!

#2 Blackrock Depths (47-60) - Beneath the Blackrock Mountains is the home of the Dark Iron dwarves and their Emperor Dagran Thaurissan. Among the vast horde of Dark Iron dwarves and fire elementals, there is also The Seven, a group of powerful Dark iron dwarf mages who protect the black forge!

#1 Blackwing Lair (60) - At the very height of Blackrock Spire dwells Nefarian, the Lord of Blackrock, and the eldest son of Deathwing! He, along with his fellow Dragonkin makes Blackwing Lair one of the most difficult raids in World of Warcraft!

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11 National Metal Day: Top 11 Metal Bands

11-11-11 is National Metal Day! Because of the efforts of VH1 Classic and Facebook, Heavy Metal finally get's a day all it's own, a day to bask in all things METAL and headbang till your neck hurts! Heavy Metal has been a growing genre of music for the last 40 years and with bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Metallica, heavy metal has become one of the most popular forms of music today. As a die hard heavy metal fan, CHERNOBOG'S BLOG proudly presents the Top 11 Metal Bands...Why 11? Because "it's one louder than 10!"

#11 Anthrax - Formed in New York City in 1981, these Thrash Metal pioneers broke new ground in speed and intensity and were also one of the first metal bands to embrace rap and hip-hop music with their collaboration with Public Enemy ("Bring the Noise"). Now part of the so-called "Big Four", being the founders of American thrash metal alongside Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. Despite the band's numerous lineup changes, the band has recently released a new album (Worship Music) reuniting with vocalist Joey Belladona, who was with the band during the band's heyday in the 1980's. Favorite Album: Among the Living (1987)

#10 Pantera - Although these Texas headbangers started out in 1981 as part of the glam scene, as the 90's dawned, they used their speed and power to incorporate a more hardcore style into their music and became one of the biggest heavy metal bands ever! Founded in Arlington, Texas; brothers Vinnie Paul and Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott joined with bassist Rex Brown and vocalist Phil Anselmo in 1988. Unfortunately the band would soon break-up in 2003 due to the conflicts between the Abbott brothers and the always outspoken Anselmo who had gone onto producing several side projects with Down and Superjoint Ritual. The brothers would then form Damageplan in 2004, but their new found success would be short lived with the untimely death of "Dimebag" Darrell in December of 2004, when he was shot onstage in Columbus, Ohio by a deranged fan.
Favorite Album: Vulgar Display of Power (1992)

#9 Motörhead - Considered to be one of THE LOUDEST bands in the world, Motörhead was one of the originators of modern heavy metal along with the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal". Formed in 1975, they fused hard rock and punk to create a sound all of their own. Frontman Lemmy Kilmister's signature growl also made him one of the most recognizable voices in heavy metal. Although the band has been through many lineup changes over the years Lemmy has been the only consistent member and the constant driving force of the band. Their latest album The Wörld Is Yours featured a slow blues version of their classic "Ace of Spades".
Favorite Album: Ace of Spades (1980)

#8 Megadeth - When guitarist Dave Mustaine was booted out of Metallica in 1983 he founded his own band with bassist David Ellefson and brought to the world of heavy metal their own unique style of speed and intensity thrash metal laced with strong political themes. Although Megadeth has suffered through some tough times and several lineup changes including Dave Ellefson's departure from the band in 2002 and his reunion in 2009. Megadeth is included in metal's "Big Four" alongside Anthrax, Slayer, and Metallica. Their latest album Thirte3n, is Megadeth's 13th studio album.
Favorite Album: Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? (1985)

#7 Dio - Before replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio was a member in several bands during the 1970's including Elf and Rainbow. But when Dio joined Sabbath in 1979 and with the release of 1980's Heaven and Hell, it began a new chapter for the heavy metal pioneers! After his departure from Black Sabbath in 1982, Dio embarked on a successful solo career. A powerful singer, Dio is credited with creating the famous "devil horns" hand signal which would be adopted by all metal fans and sparking the "Power Metal" sub-genre of heavy metal. Dio would soon reunite with members of Black Sabbath as Heaven & Hell and performed with them until his death from stomach cancer on May 16, 2010.
Favorite Album: Holy Diver (1981)

#6 Slayer - Slayer is the most EVIL metal band of the "Big Four"...and that's how they like it! Originally named Dragonslayer, Slayer was founded in 1981 in Huntington Park, California by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Bass player Tom Araya provides the screaming vocals on the soundtrack to Hell with albums such as Show No Mercy (1983), Hell Awaits (1985), Reign In Blood (1986) and South of Heaven (1988). Their most ominous named album God Hates Us All was coincidentally released on September 11th, 2001. Their latest and 10th studio album World Painted Blood was released in 2009.
Favorite Album: Reign In Blood (1986)

#5 Judas Priest - No other metal band has been so influential in both the sound, style and look of heavy metal than Judas Priest! Formed in Birmingham, England in 1969, Judas Priest began the movement which would be known as the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" in the 1970's, after releasing albums like Sad Wings of Destiny (1976) and Hell Bent for Leather (1978), they soon earned mainstream success in the 1980's with album's such as British Steel (1980) and Screaming for Vengeance (1982). Vocalist Rob Halford joined the band in 1974, bringing his signature high-pitched, operatic, vocal stylings to their evolving sound thus earning him the moniker of "Metal God"! His trademark style of dress including leather, whips and chains would become a heavy metal tradition despite it's origins with Halford's sexual orientation. Even though Halford left the band in 1991 to pursue other projects, Halford reunited with Judas Priest in 2003 and continues to tour all over the world bringing metal to the masses!
Favorite Album: Screaming For Vengeance (1982)

#4 Iron Maiden - As part of the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" Iron Maiden began in London in 1975 with bassist and songwriter Steve Harris. Although the band started out with several singers including Paul Di'Anno on their first two albums: Iron Maiden (1980) and Killers (1981) it wasn't until singer Bruce Dickinson joined the band in 1982 that the band achieved major success with gold and platinum albums such as The Number of the Beast (1982) and Powerslave (1983). Although Dickinson left the band in 1993, he rejoined in 1999 sparking a new era for the band with the album Brave New World (2000). Iron Maiden's most recent album, The Final Frontier (2010) earned them a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for "El Dorado".
Favorite Album: The Number of the Beast (1982)

James Hetfield of Metallica
#3 Metallica - Founded in 1981 in San Francisco, California by guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, Metallica's unique form of thrash metal took the world by storm with their heaviness and speed. From their meager, independent beginnings to world-wide, mainstream success Metallica has been constantly evolving both in style and sound. Through many changes (Load and ReLoad), trials (Napster) and tribulations, and bass players (i.e. Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton (R.I.P.), Jason Newstead and now Robert Trujillo), Metallica has grown into THE most popular heavy metal band today!  Their latest album Death Magnetic (2008) went double platinum and their latest collaboration project with singer-songwriter Lou Reed called Lulu (http://www.loureedmetallica.com/) was released on November 1st, 2011. Recently, Metallica has been on tour around the world with other bands of the "Big Four" including Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. Metallica was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Favorite Album: Master of Puppets (1984)

#2 Ozzy Osbourne - After he was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, Ozzy, with the help of his then manager/now wife Sharon, began a successful solo career which earned him the title of the "Godfather of Heavy Metal" and the "Prince of Darkness". Along with virtuoso guitarist Randy Rhoads, Ozzy rose to the top with the release of Blizzard of Ozz (1980) and Diary of the Madman (1981). Despite the untimely death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy continued to make heavy metal history throughout the 1980's and 1990's alongside talented guitar players such as Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde with albums such as Bark at the Moon (1983), The Ultimate Sin (1986) and No More Tears (1991) and now with Ozzy's current guitarist Gus G. on his latest album Scream (2010).
Favorite Album: Blizzard of Ozz (1980)
Black Sabbath
 
#1 Black Sabbath - Originally named Earth, the band who would soon become Black Sabbath are the originators of Heavy Metal! Formed in 1968 in Birmingham, England by guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and singer Ozzy Osbourne; with their bluesy, down-tuned sound and doom-and-gloom style Black Sabbath single-handedly created a new form of hard rock. With their debut album simply titled Black Sabbath (1970), followed by Paranoid (1970), Black Sabbath gave birth to heavy metal. Later with multiple platinum albums such as Master of Reality (1971) and Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath (1973), the band would receive world-wide fame and later earning the title of The "Greatest Metal Band of All Time" and also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Through their multiple line-up changes which ould include vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio and others, guitarist Tony Iommi Favorite Album: Paranoid (1970)

Monday, October 31, 2011

HAPPY HALLOWEEN Top 10 Scariest TV Shows

Happy Halloween!!! While television shows in the late 1950's and 60's like the original "The Twilight Zone" (1959-1964) and "The Outer Limits" (1963-1965) paved the way for shows like "Dark Shadows" (1966-1971) and "Kolchak: the Nightstalker" (1974-1975) in the 70's . They would soon give rise to even more horror and Sci-Fi TV shows in the 80's and 90's. Since I grew up watching many of these shows, this Halloween Chernobog's Blog looks back at some of the scariest modern TV shows in the last 30 years and present my list of the Top 10 Scariest Modern TV Shows. Enjoy!
#10 Freddy's Nightmares (1988-1990) - A short lived TV series based on the ORIGINAL "Nightmare on Elm Street" films starring Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). A horror anthology hosted by Freddy himself, the show was somewhat disappointing to many fans, playing on the more campy side of Freddy's character making him into more of a Cryptkeeper type. While the show had a few memorable episodes with early appearances by now major stars such as Brad Pitt, Freddy's Nightmares are now more like a bad dream you can't quite remember after waking up. Favorite Episode: "The Art of Death", 3/12/1989 - A cartoonist's creation called The Phantom comes to life!

#9 Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990) - While loosely based on the "Friday the 13th" film series the show had nothing to do with hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhies. The show revolved around two young owners of an antique store (which they inherit from their uncle) who try to recover cursed items from their store. While the show lasted for three seasons there were several episodes with decent stories and interesting plots revolving around these various cursed items.
Favorite Episode: "Tales of the Undead", 11/25/1988 - A comic book monster comes to life and kills a shopkeeper!

#8 Tales from the Darkside (1983-1988) - "Tales from the Darkside" was a horror anthology series very reminiscent of "The Twilight Zone" with a little "Tales from the Crypt"-like story structure that would always end with a twist! The show lasted for four seasons and even sparked a major movie in 1990, which featured three stories and starred actors such as Steve Buscemi and Christian Slater!
Favorite Episode: "The Word Processor of the Gods", 11/25/1984 - A struggling writer's computer has the power to grant wishes!

#7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) - While having very little to do with the 1992 movie starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the TV series became an increasingly popular show during the late 1990's and sparked the career of actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. The show was an ingenious combination of occult action and teenage drama from the mind of creator Joss Whedon. The show also spawned a spin-off in 1999 with Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul, (1999-2004) starring David Boreanaz (Bones).
Favorite Episode: "Halloween", 10/25/1997 - Buffy and her friends buy costumes and a cursed costume shop where they turn into whatever they are wearing!

#6 Millennium (1996-1999) - F.B.I. profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) has the ability to see inside the mind of serial killers. He joins the Millennium group, a team of former law enforcement officers who believe crime is increasing as the millennium approaches. This was the second show from "X-Files" creator Chris Carter, although the show did not last as long as it's predecessor (only 3 seasons) it was an interesting and often suspenseful show with a highly original concept...that is, until Y2K didn't happen!
Favorite Episode: "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me", 5/1/1998 - Four demons trade stories at a donut shop of how they corrupt human souls.

#5 The X-Files (1993-2002) - F.B.I. Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovney) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) search for the truth as they investigate strange murders, monsters, alien abductions and government cover-ups! Created by Chris Carter, The X-Files became a pop-culture phenomenon in the 1990's and spawned two major films including X-Files: Fight the Future (1997) and The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008).
Favorite Episode: "The Host", 11/23/1994 - When a body is found in the sewers Mulder and Scully investigate and discover the killer is a Fluke-Man!
http://www.xfiles.com/

#4 Masters of Horror (2005-2007) - Anchor Bay and Starz produced two seasons of hour-long horror anthologies directed by some of the best names in horror from John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Mick Garris and Stuart Gordon. Some of the most original and horrifying stories came from this short-lived series which would quickly be released to DVD for many more to enjoy and be horrified!
Favorite Episode: "The Black Cat", 1/19/2007 - Based on the tale by Edgar Allan Poe, directed by Stuart Gordon (Reanimator, Dagon) and starring Jeffrey Combs (Reanimator) as Poe himself!
http://www.mastersofhorror.net/ 

#3 The Walking Dead (2010-Current) - Based on the graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, the series premiered on AMC on Halloween 2010 and has since become one of the most popular and most terrifying TV show ever. Sherrif Rick Grimes has to find and protect his family as they try to survive a zombie outbreak!
Favorite Episode: "Guts", 11/7/2010 - As Rick and the others try to escape Atlanta, they try to blend in with the "Walkers" and cover themselves in gore.
http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead

#2 Supernatural (2005-Current) - Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester hunt monsters, ghosts, vampires, demons and rogue angels! They have both been to Hell and back (literally!) and even prevented the apocalypse!
Favorite Episode: "Nightshifter", 1/25/2007 - Sam & Dean search for a shape-shifter in a bank with the aid of Ronald (Chris Gauthier), a paranoid conspiracy-theorist, when they become surrounded by a SWAT team!
http://www.cwtv.com/shows/supernatural

#1 Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996) - Based on the 1950's EC horror comic books published by Bill Gaines, Tales from the Crypt aired on HBO in 1989 and soon became immensely popular spawning a children's animated series: Tales from the Cryptkeeper (1993), and two major movies including Demon Knight (1995) and Bordello of Blood (1996)! The horrific host of the show was the Cryptkeeper, an animatronic puppet based on the comic book storyteller, voiced by John Kassir. After seven scary seasons the show featured some of the most talented Hollywood directors and producers such as Robert Zemekis and Richard Donner; and actors including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Pesci, Demi Moore, Michael J. Fox, Malcolm McDowell, John Rhys Davies, Whoopi Goldberg, Dan Aykroyd, Christopher Reeve, Kirk and Eric Douglass AND Tom Hanks just to name a few!
Favorite Episode: "The Secret", 7/31/1990 - A rambunctious orphan is adopted by a rich, childless couple who spoil him and turn out to be vampires, but the jokes on them because the kid is a werewolf!
http://www.warnervideo.com/talesfromthecryptdvd/

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!



Saturday, October 22, 2011

TOP 10 WORST MOVIE REMAKES

MOVIE REMAKES! It seems lately, that if a movie is over 20 years old, it automatically gets thrown into the proverbial Hollywood laundry pile to be remade. Far be it for Hollywood to remake any truly classic movie such as Citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca (1942) or Gone with the Wind (1939), although I'm sure they've thought about it. While most remakes, particularly in the horror/sci-fi genre are usually awful, there have been a few successes (i.e. Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)). It seems that lately the average number of movie remakes have been increasing, particularly in the last few years with all of the franchise remakes and reboots. The latest atrocity to this long list of movie remakes is of course The Thing (2011). This movie has an interesting past, this latest version is actually a remake of a remake! No joke, the original film titled The Thing (from Another World) (1951) was a 1950's black-and-white, Cold-War/Sci-Fi paranoia film starring James Arness as "The Thing" and produced by Howard Hawks. The movie was masterfully remade in as simply The Thing in 1982 by horror master John Carpenter (Halloween (1978) starring Kurt Russell (Escape from New York (1981). While this latest version is technically considered to be a prequel, taking place before the events of the 1982 version, that claim makes no sense since the title the same? While there have been many remakes over the years there are ten that come to mind that fall completely short of it's original intention of outdoing the original and fail miserably...here are the Top 10 "Worst" Movie Remakes:

#10 House of Wax (2005) - The original film titled Mystery of the Wax Museum was released in 1933 and starred Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray (King Kong (1933). When a famous London sculptor (Atwill) is horribly burned in a fire, he disappears, only to reappear in New York City with a new wax museum where he uses stolen corpses for his wax exhibits. When it was remade as House of Wax in 1953 starring Vincent Price, it was filmed in 3-D and used the same premise. Them in 2005, it was remade into a mediocre teen horror movie featuring now Supernatural TV star Jared Padalecki and Paris Hilton (of all people!?). The movie was drastically changed into a story about two twin boys, one horribly deformed, who create a bizarre wax museum (and town) encasing victims (alive or dead) in wax!
#9 The Haunting (1999) Based on the classic tale by Shirley Jackson, the original 1963 Robert Wise classic is a masterpiece of subtle suspense and psychological terror. Unfortunately, the 1999 remake directed by Jan de Bont and starring Liam Neesons and Catherine Zeta Jones is a travesty relying on cheap CGI effects and a convoluted storyline.

#8 Night of the Living Dead (1990) - While George Romero's 1968 zombie classic is considered to be one of the best and well-known modern horror classic, special effects artist Tom Savini decided to direct a remake of it in 1990. Not only did they change the fate of the major characters but the ending as well! What we're they thinking?
#7 King Kong (2005) - The original King Kong (1933) is a classic adventure featuring one of the first uses of stop-motion animation. After the success of the "Lord of the Rings" Trilogy, director Peter Jackson endeavored to remake this classic film using state-of-the-art motion capture (played Andy Serkis (Gollum) and CGI effects, what resulted was a really convoluted and really LONG movie! Despite Jackson's ambitious vision, the remake got mixed reviews and moderate success. But not for Jack Black...
#6 The Omen (2006) - The Omen is one of the scariest modern horror films of all time. Released in 1976 following the same vein of religious terror like The Exorcist (1973), The Omen is about a child who will become the Antichrist! Liev Shrieber and Julia Stiles starred in this pathetic remake, which was released almost 30 years to the day and fittingly on 6/6/06. Unfortunately, the inauspicious release date didn't help the fact that the movie was awful.

#5 Planet of the Apes (2001) - Tim Burton, known for his fantastically dark films, would be the LAST person in the word to direct a remake, however, his  2001 remake of the 1968 classic Sci-Fi film turned out to be an embarrassing, big-budget, flop! In this so-called "re-imagining" of the Apes film, Mark Wahlberg is definitely NO Charlton Heston! Despite the impressive ape-make-up effects but lacking in story and substance.

#4 Clash of the Titans (2010) - The original 1981 mythological epic is a fantasy classic, however following Sam Worthington's fame in Avatar (2009), director Louis Leterier turned Perseus into a ungrateful, angst-ridden, jerk bent on revenge! Liam Neeson as Zeus is so over-the-top with his blindingly, flashy armor costume. The movie takes the original story of heroism and love and shoves it up the Kraken's ass!

#3 I Am Legend (2007) - While Richard Matheson's original vampire novel I Am Legend has been adapted into movies before including The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price and The Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston, when director Francis Lawrence wanted to bring new life to Matheson's story he actually used the title of the story for the movie (what a concept!). Starring Will Smith, I Am Legend is downright boring. Watching Will Smith (and his dog) all by himself most of the movie, surrounded by terrible CGI vampires is exhausting! Even the campy, 70's exploitation Charlton Heston version is more entertaining than Smith's! They should've called it something else rather than ruin the original story.

#2 War of the Worlds (2005) - H.G Well's timeless Sci-Fi novel was first adapted into film in the 1953 classic Byron Haksin film. When it was announced that visionary director Steven Spielberg was set to direct a remake in 2005 audiences were highly anticipating this epic special effects laden blockbuster! It even stars Tom Cruise and a young Dakota Fanning, however the whole movie is a huge disappointment. While most moviegoers think Spielberg can do no wrong, we are reminded of flops such as The Lost World (2002) and Minority Report (1997), you can't win them all!

#1 Psycho (1998) - Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is a monumental suspense classic! Based on the novel by Robert Bloch, Hitchcock literally created the slasher-movie genre. Of all the classic films that you would think would never be remade...BUT in 1998, director Gus van Sant (Good Will Hunting (1997)) decided to produce a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, starring Vince Vaughn as the cross-gender confused killer, Norman Bates. What was he thinking? This movie shouldn't even be allowed to exist! It was a box office flop earning only a little over $20 million dollars but with a budget of $25 million. This is quite possibly THE worst movie remake of all time!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MUSIC REVIEW: MISFITS - THE DEVIL'S RAIN

THE MISFITS are back! This week saw the release of The Devil's Rain, the first full-length Misfits album in almost a decade! The band's current lineup includes Jerry Only on bass and vocals, Dez Cadena (formerly of Black Flag) on guitars and Eric "Chupacabra" Arce on drums. Produced by Ed Stasium, The Devil's Rain consists of 16 tracks including re-recorded versions of "Land of the Dead" and "Twilight of the Dead", singles previously released in 2009. Other tracks incorporate the Misfits' signature horror/sci-fi themes with songs like "The Black Hole", "The Mummy's Hand", "Dark Shadows", "Jack the Ripper", "Ghost of Frankenstein" and "Death Ray". The album features artwork by Arthur Suydam (Marvel: Zombies) and the album title is based on the 1975 movie starring William Shatner and Ernest Borgnine. The new album is available in a Limited Deluxe Edition with a Glow-in-the-Dark poster inside. A special promotion for this album includes a special limited-time coupon offer from Best Buy! If you're a longtime fan of the Misfits or just now discovering this phenomenal horror punk band, The Devil's Rain is an amazing album and just in time for Halloween!

Formed in 1977 by Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only at the dawn of the American punk music scene, the Misfits' unique style and imagery were based on horror and sci-fi B-movies. Although the band originally broke up in 1983, they later reformed in 1995 despite legal battles with Danzig, who went on to form Samhain and then Danzig. The Misfits enjoyed a short-lived revival from 1995-2001 with Jerry Only on bass, Michale Graves on vocals, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein on guitars, and Dr. Chud on drums. During that time they released two full albums including American Psycho (1997) and Famous Monsters (1999). Recent releases include compilation albums Cuts from the Crypt (2001) and Project: 1950 (2003). While the Misfits lineup has changed many times over the years including musicians such as John Cafiero, Robo, and even Marky Ramone; Jerry Only has been the only consistent member. Since the band's 30th anniversary the latest version of the Misfits shows promise in the hopes that the Misfits will be able to continue rocking on despite their rocky past!

"The Devil's Rain" is the judgment of all others who stand before us, like a prophecy. The old B-movie was an influence to some of the lyrics, but the song itself is as if the heavens opened and swallowed our enemies. They have...and a new “rain” of terror begins"
- Jerry Only

LINKS
MisfitsRecords.com

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Special Concert Review: The Planets: An HD Odyssey

As most of you know, I am a big fan of heavy metal music but I also enjoy classical music and neither Ft.Worth nor I are not without a little culture. Both heavy metal and classical music share some of the same heavy themes and power with pieces such as Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Moussorgsky and of course The Planets by Gustav Holst. Last night, I experienced a very special concert (which I almost missed because of my health) at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas: The Planets: An HD Odyssey performed by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Associate Conductor Andrés Franco and also featuring a performance by the TCU Chorale. To begin the concert, the symphony performed the Star-Spangled Banner and then the 1812, Overture solonelle Op. 49 by Tchaikovsky, a surprising but fitting and impressive prelude to The Planets. This particular performance was accompanied by a visual presentation on a movie screen above the symphony featuring HD images of the actual planets of our solar system taken from satellite photos and The Hubble Telescope. Before the music began there was a short, documentary-style interview session featuring several prominent scientists and astronomers from institutes such as the Jet Propulsion Lab.
Ironically, although the performance features images of the actual planets, the theme of The Planets has more to do with their Roman mythological counterparts than the actual planets. The performance began with the most popular and recognizable of pieces from The Planets: "Mars, the Bringer of War". Mars is a very powerful and bellicose piece that incorporates images of battle and destruction, however while the planet Mars itself has a very barren, rocky terrain which has sparked the imagination of astronomers and Sci-Fi writers for years. Also on the screen, were images from the Mars Rover Mission in 2004. Next was "Venus, the Bringer of Peace", a very slow and light piece which reflects the mysterious surface of the planet accompanied by very colorful images. Then came "Mercury, the Winged Messenger", a very light and playful piece which hardly compliments the actual planet as it appears very grey and resembles our moon. "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" is probably the next best-known piece from The Planets and is quite possibly the most uplifting and triumphant with a very Western-themed sound. The images of it's gaseous surface and particularly it's great red spot are wondrous. Next came "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age", a piece that starts out very slow and grows very ominous. The images of Saturn's rings were especially impressive. Next was "Uranus, the Magician", while starting out very playful and lively, the piece ends very somber and foreboding. The striking blue color of the planet complimented the piece very well. The last piece of The Planets is "Neptune, the Mystic", another haunting and mysterious piece which featured the marvelous voices of the TCU Chorale towards the end. The performance was a success and very special experience which earned a standing ovation for the conductor and the symphony. This concert was originally performed by the Houston Symphony and is also available on DVD and Blu-ray

   

"Every artist ought to pray that he may not be a 'success.' If he's a failure he stands a good chance on concentrating upon the best work of which he's capable." - Gustav Holst, 1925

Friday, September 16, 2011

BLU-RAY SPECIAL: TOP 10 STAR WARS MOMENTS

STAR WARS is THE greatest pop-culture phenomenon in the world (or the galaxy)! I grew up on Star Wars (the Original trilogy) and have been a devoted fan all of my life. No other movie has had such an impact on my life. While the prequel trilogy may not match by far the original trilogy, it does hold some merit in the Star Wars Saga as a whole. Today marks the release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray in the U.S., which includes 9 High-Definition Blu-ray discs and features over 40 hours of bonus material including deleted, extended and alternate scenes, documentaries and archive footage! The Star Wars movies have some of the greatest and most memorable moments in movie history and any Star Wars fan would have a hard time choosing their favorite. In celebration of the release of The Complete Saga on Blu-ray, Chernobog's Blog Presents: The Top 10 STAR WARS Moments!

#10 The Rise of Darth Vader (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) - While fans have been awaiting to see the origin of Darth Vader for 30 years, the events leading up to Episode III was not without disappointment. After Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) joins Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), he helps him to destroy the Jedi, (even killing younglings) and the ultimate duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan leaves Anakin severely injured. The Emperor makes Anakin him into a half-man/half-machine. Upon reviving him, the Emperor tells Anakin that he inadvertently killed Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) in anger and thus he responds with the now infamous "NOOOOOO!"

#9 "It's a Trap!" (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) - During the final battle between the Rebellion and the Empire over the moon of Endor, Lando Calrissian in the Millenium Falcon, leads a squadron of fighters to attack the new Death Star. Under the command of Admiral Ackbar the fleet soon realizes that the deflector shield is still operational because Han and his team have so far been unable to deactivate it. When the fleet start to retreat, they realize that the Empire has surrounded them with Star Destoyers. Ackbar says one of the most famous and overly done quotes in the whole Star Wars saga: "It's a trap!"

#8 The Death of Qui-Gon Jinn (Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) - While Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) may have seemed like an ancillary character in Episode I, he remains a fan favorite. His death causes Obi-Wan to reluctantly take on the training of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who had previously been denied by the Jedi Council. While Qui-Gon is seen as a very wise Jedi Master, he is apparently very rebellious in his decision to take Anakin from his home and train him as a Jedi. Even Yoda, Master Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), and the council knew that Anakin possessed many qualities of the Dark Side, Despite their warnings, believing Anakin is prophesied to bring balance to the force,Qui-Gon defies the council and trains him anyway. His training is cut short as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) encounter Darth Maul (Ray Park), a Dark Lord of the Sith. In a desperate duel with the dual-lightsaber wielding Sith, Qui-Gonn is killed and later Obi-Wan vows to complete Anakins training.

#7 Escape from Jabba's Palace (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) - By the final chapter of the Original Trilogy, our heroes are in the worst situation possible! When Han Solo (Harrison Ford) was frozen in carbonite, Boba Fett took him to Jabba the Hut. While Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) had already been undercover in Jabba's palace as a guard, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) also comes to Han's rescue, disguised as the bounty hunter Boussh with Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) as her captive. Although Leia tries to free Han from his frozen prison, they are discovered! Han is thrown in jail with Chewbacca and Leia is chained to Jabba's side and forced to wear a scanty slave outfit (many a fanboy's dream)! Finally Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) arrives, now a full fledged Jedi Knight, He attempts to bargain for his friends lives, but is fed to the Rancor. When Luke defeats the Rancor, Jabba then decides to feed all of them (except Leia) to the Sarlac! Ultimately, Luke escapes being eaten by the Sarlac, Han unwittingly defeats Boba Fett and Leia strangles Jabba. It all ends when Jabba's sail barge is destroyed in a magnificent explosion and our heroes escape with C-3PO and R2-D2 in tow!

#6 The Trash Compactor (Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) - When Han Solo and Luke Skywalker go to rescue Princess Leia disguised as Stormtroopers, they are cut off by Imperial troops and their only escape is through one of the Death Star's trash compactors. While trapped, they realize there is a creature living in the compactor which almost kills Luke and on top of that the compactor is activated and slowly begins to crush the three of them. If not for the bumbling efforts of C-3PO and R2-D2 they surely would've been crushed to death!

#5 The Death of Emperor Palpatine (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) - During the final battle between the Rebellion and the Empire, Luke Skywalker has been held captive in the Emperor's throne room watching the battle alongside his father, Darth Vader. As tensions rise and Luke feels the need to kill the Emperor, battle ensues between Vader and Luke! Luke, in a fit of rage, then cuts off Vader's hand and still refuses to join the Dark Side. The Emperor responds with bolts of Force lightning, nearly killing Luke if not for Vader's ultimate sacrifice! Vader intervenes, picks up the Emperor and throws him down a long shaft but not before receiving a fatal dose of the Emperor's power. Vader soon dies as Luke finally sees the real face of his father.

#4 The Duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) - Probably one of THE darkest moments in the Star Wars saga, the ultimate duel between friends is the final step in turning Anakin to the Dark Side of The Force. It is a shock to see Anakin and Obi-Wan, who had become very close as Master and Padawan, locked in such a violent battle on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. It is one of the most powerful scenes and a dramatic moment for Obi-Wan: "You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! You were to bring balance to The Force, not leave it in darkness! You we're my brother Anakin, I loved you..."

#3 The Freezing of Han Solo (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - While there are several scenes in the Original Trilogy that deal with narrow escapes, the climax to The Empire Strikes Back is not one of them. When Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO travel to Bespin and Cloud City to seek refuge and repairs from Han's old friend Lando Calrissian, unfortunately Lando has already made a deal with the Empire and turns Han over to them! While Vader wants to use the heroes as bait for Luke, whom he intends to freeze in Carbonite for his journey to the Emperor. First, he tests it on Han. As Han is prepared to be lowered into the freezing device (which is one of the most dramatic and romantic moments in the Star Wars saga) Leia kisses Han and says "I love you", to which Han responds: "I know" and he is lowered into the freezer.

#2 Luke Vs. Darth Vader (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - The first battle between Darth  Vader and Luke Skywalker in the climax to The Empire Strikes Back is one of the most pivotal moments in the Star Wars Saga. Luke, having left Yoda's training prematurely to save Han and Leia at Cloud City is met by a trap set by Vader. As he is lured into the Carbonite Freezing Chamber he is met by Vader and the battle ensues. The fight is taken outside onto a platform overlooking a bottomless shaft in the bowels of Cloud City where Vader ultimately cuts off Luke's hand and then drops one of  the biggest WTF moments of all time: "I am your father!" The rest is history...

#1 The Battle of Yavin, a.k.a. the destruction of the first Death Star (Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) - The ultimate battle between the Rebellion and the Empire is fought by a small squadron of Rebel fighters and the enormous Death Star! (That's no moon!) With the knowledge from the secret plans from Princess Leia stored in R2-D2 the Rebels were able to find a small thermal exhaust port along a trench. Against insurmountable odds the small squadron manages to fend off defending TIE fighters and Death Star gunners until only Luke Skywalker's X-Wing remains and with only the power of The Force at his side (and a little help from Han Solo) he manages to fire a single proton torpedo into a 2-meter wide hole and BOOM! The Death Star Explodes! The Rebels win, Luke and Han get medals from Leia (but not Chewbacca?) and the galaxy is safe again...but don't worry The Empire will build another one soon!


My thoughts on the Blu-ray release: While the video releases of the Star Wars Saga have always met with some controversy, the release of the new Blu-rays is not without some debate. The THX remastered editions of the Original Trilogy released in 1995 and the Special Editions in 1997 included some subtle and some very bold changes to the films made by George Lucas himself. While some of the changes have sparked discontent and controversy in many fans (including me), any changes are remotely minor to the saga as a whole. With the release of the new Blu-rays it is obvious there will be even more changes along with even more added, deleted and altered scenes, but I hope will not "damage" the saga further! May the Force Be With You!
LINKS: Star Wars Official Site, The Official Star Wars Blog, Star Wars Blu-ray on Facebook

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11, 2001

September 11th, 2001...it started out an ordinary day like any other. People went to school and work that morning like they did every day, little did we know that it would be day that would change our world and everything forever...

I remember where I was on 9/11: I was a college journalism student at Tarrant County College working in the newspaper office when a student came by the room and announced a plane crashed in New York City. The class quickly went to the student center where there was a big-screen TV and we saw the WTC North Tower in flames and watched as a second plane hit the South Tower. We watched the devastation in silence most of the morning and when it was announced that classes were cancelled I went to work and watched the rest of the event there. I had a friend that lived on Staten Island at that time and another friend who was in the U.S. Army Reserves and was involved in "Operation Enduring Freedom" (Nov. 2001-Dec. 2002), thankfully he came home but I have another friend currently serving in the Air Force in Iraq.

I don't usually blog about anything political or for that matter anything dealing with current events other than movies, music or TV. I admit I am not up on current events as much as I should be and am much more preoccupied with entertainment than the world's problems right now. But in light of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I felt obligated to acknowledge those events that affected so much in our world and so many people. No doubt the Internet will be full of 9/11 features and articles today and even Yahoo! News has a particularly large website devoted to 9/11 Remembered. Not since the invasion of Pearl Harbor in World War II has there been such a single loss of American lives and devastation. For my generation, this was a pivotal moment in our history, not unlike the baby-boomer generation who experienced the assassinations of John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King Jr. Such national tragedies like the Challenger explosion in 1986 or Columbia disaster in 2003 cannot even compare to the loss of life and destruction of September 11th, 2001. We live in a troubled time, never has such a travesty caused so much fear, anger, hate, confusion and suspicion than 9/11 and if it hadn't been such a major event we wouldn't be talking about it today. We look back on the events of 9/11, a day where everything stopped and we watched helplessly as a symbol of American prosperity and power toppled in a cloud of dust and smoke, making the ground shake.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

ANIME FEST SPECIAL: TOP 10 ANIME

It's AnimeFest Weekend here in Dallas, Texas and unfortunately...I'm not going! Sadly, due to financial constraints, I have broken my long time tradition of being an attendee at Dallas' AnimeFest this year! But, it's not all bad, instead of spending a lot of money and dealing with the crowd, I can sit right here at home and have my own personal AnimeFest and watch all of my favorite anime! And so I thought I would post my long-overdue list of my favorite TOP 10 ANIME! This list includes both anime series, movies, OVAs, Enjoy!

#10 Macross/Robotech (1982) - In the year 1999, a gigantic spaceship crash-lands on Earth sparking a united Earth government to rebuild the ship and utilize the alien technology to develop their own new technology including fighter-planes that can transform into robots known as Veritechs! To most kids who grew up in the 80's like me who watched this little cartoon called Robotech and we had no idea it was our first introduction to anime! Although altered, diluted and Americanized from it's original format as Macross, it sparked a new popularity of anime in the 80's. The late 1970's brought "Gundam" and Starblazers to the U.S. while it remained virtually unknown, and did not seem to have the same affect, Robotech brought Japanimation to a more mainstream audience and of course the rest...is history!

#9 Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X (2000) - Set during the Japanese Meiji Era, ten years after the revolution, Hitokiri battousai, the Manslayer, the legendary assassin known as Himura Kenshin is now a wanderer who has vowed never to kill again. Armed with his reverse blade sword he finds himself protecting a small sword school led by Kaoru Kamiya. Along with a diverse cast of characters including Sanosuke, Yahiko, and Dr. Megumi Rurouni Kenshin is a delightful series full of action, comedy and romance. Also recommend Samurai X OAVs: Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal, Samurai X: Reflection and Samurai X: The Movie (a.k.a. "Requiem")!

#8 Vampire Hunter D (1985) - Set in the year 12,090 A.D., the Earth is overrun with vampires, werewolves and all manner of dark creatures. When a small village is terrorized by an ancient aristocrat vampire and his minions, a young woman named Doris hires a vampire hunter named only "D" after she is bitten. However, D is no ordinary vampire hunter...! Vampire Hunter D was one of the first mature anime movies I ever saw. I was fascinated by the mixture of dark, Gothic horror and sci-fi in the strange post-apocalyptic setting. D has always been one of my favorite animes and I was overjoyed when a sequel, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was released in 2000, but unfortunately it doesn't equal to the original, however it did spark new interest in D as recently both the original novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi, with art by Yoshitaka Amano and manga have been released in the U.S.!

#7 Samurai 7 (2004) - Based on the classic samurai film by director Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai (1954)), Samurai 7 is an anime adaptation combining both fantasy and sci-fi elements into a unique 26 episode series. When a simple farming village is threatened by technologically advanced bandits who take their crops every year, the village decides to hire samurai warriors to defend them. What they get is an unusual group of samurai including the experienced Kanbei, the young Katsuhiro and a clumsy cyborg named Kikuchiyo! Truly original and fantastic, I was already a fan of Kurosawa's films and found the anime adaptation to be an impressive and wonderful series.

#6 Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) - The year is 2015, after a catastrophic global event, the Earth is being attacked by alien creatures dubbed "Angels" and only one organization, N.E.R.V., is equipped to handle them with their own bio-mechanical mecha suits called Evangelions or EVA. Shinji Ikari, a timid teenage boy is summoned by his father unexpectedly to pilot an EVA along with two other children (Rei and Asuka) in order to save the world! This phenomenal series combined Judeo-Christian mythology with apocalyptic prophecies and giant robots to create one of the most popular anime series in the last decade. After several movies and a recent reboot Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0, there is also a live action movie in the works!

#5 Cowboy Bebop (1998) - Following the adventures of a rag-tag group of bounty hunters, Cowboy Bebop is an immensely popular and successful anime series with a huge following. This unlikely "team" of bounty hunters include Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, along with Ed and Ein the dog. Despite having only a short run of 26 episodes, Cowboy Bebop is action-packed and funny, with an amazing soundtrack by Yokko Kanno! Also see Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)!

#4 Mobile Suit Gundam (1978) - In the year 0079, the galaxy is caught up in a war between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon utilizing state-of-the-art mobile suit technology. When Amuro Ray, a young mechanical genius is caught up in the conflict he ends up piloting one of the Federation's prototype mobile suits called Gundam! Possibly THE most influential anime series ever, Mobile Suit Gundam has sparked over a dozen spin-offs (including the most recent: Gundam Seed) and several movies, not to mention a fortune in toys and models!

#3 Princess Mononoke (1997) - The animals and spirits of the forest are threatened by the encroachment of man and when Ashitaka becomes infected by a demon, he is exiled and seeks the Great Spirit of the Forrest in the hopes it will remove his curse. Along the way he meets San, a ferocious wolf-girl, a human raised by wolves, who is about to lead a major battle against the humans! Of all the films by master director Hayao Miyazaki, it's hard to chose a favorite, but considering Princess Mononkoe was the first of his films to earn immense popularity in the U.S. and is still the #1 film in Japan at the time! Princess Mononoke was one of the first Japanese animated films to have a wide release in the U.S. due to it's celerity voice actors and English script by writer Neil Gaiman. Also recommend other Miyazaki films such as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo.

#2 Ghost in the Shell (1995) - Motoko Kusanagi, an advanced cyborg, is a member of Section 9, a covert security force specializing in cyber-crimes. While investigating a case she and her team are involved with the infamous "Puppet Master", an anonymous cyber-hacker, which will change her life forever. Based on the mana by Masamune Shirow (Dominion Tank Police, Orion), Ghost in the Shell is one of the most successful anime series spawning the sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and two anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and S.A.C. 2nd Gig, also the movie Solid State Society.

#1 AKIRA (1988) - 30 years after World War III where a massive nuclear explosion destroyed much of Tokyo, Japan; two young members of a biker gang, Kaneda and Tetsuo get involved in a huge, political cover-up dealing with psychic, mutant children. After a biker fight and crash, Tetsuo is abducted by scientists and experimented on, giving him psychic powers which will ultimately reawakens the most powerful psychic of all, Akira! Akira deals with love, friendship, government conspiracies, evolution and the power of the mind. Akira is written, directed and based on the manga series (1982-1990) created by Katsuhiro Otomo. Highly influential and beautifully animated, Akira is considered to be the most popular anime film of all time and is my #1 Favorite anime! "Kaneda!!! Tetsuo!!!"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Birthday Special: TOP 10 Tim Burton Films

Happy Birthday Tim Burton! (Born: August 25, 1958) I have always loved Tim Burton's films since I was young and he has directed some of my favorite movies! Once a former animator for Walt Disney Studios, Tim Burton is a successful writer, producer, director and even sometimes actor (Singles (1992)). Many of his movies are brilliant examples of his unique artistry and creativity! Tim Burton has made some of the strangest and darkest movies in the last 30 years! This is my list of the Top 10 Tim Burton movies, including some of my favorite films. Enjoy!

#10 Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) - This was Tim Burton's first major motion picture and Pee-Wee Herman's (Paul Reubens) first movie. The childlike talent of Reubens' character with the darkly, twisted visuals of Tim Burton was a perfect combination. The character of "Pee-Wee Herman" first appeared in Paul Reubens' adult-oriented, one-man show The Pee-Wee Herman Show (1981), (which he would later reprise on Broadway in 2011). A year after the Big Adventure movie Pee-Wee would later appear in the popular children's TV show Pee-Wee's Playhouse (1986-1990). Pee-Wee also appeared in one other movie, Big-Top Pee-Wee (1988) before the literal "death" of the character in 1991 when Reubens was accused of indecent exposure in 1991.

#9 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) - Of the many projects with director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp, one of the most unique is the movie adaptation of the musical "Sweeney Todd". Whereas movie musicals are in short supply since the 1960's, Sweeney Todd seemed an appropriate subject for Tim Burton, it's dark, it's twisted, there is a LOT of blood and a lot of singing of course! With Helena Bonham Carter (Burton's latest companion) as Mrs. Lovett whose questioningly addictive meat pies and Sweeney Todd (Depp), a bloodthirsty barber driven by revenge makes Sweeney Todd a dark, entertaining and somewhat disturbing story.

#8 Edward Scissorhands (1990) - The first among many Tim Burton films which star Johnny Depp. Depp stars as Edward, an artificial boy, leather clad, mop-topped, freak with a passion for topiaries created by Vincent Price. When discovered by an Avon salesman, Peg (Dianne Wiest) she brings Edward home to her suburban home and her daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). Soon he starts cutting womens' hair and falls in love with Kim. Soon realizing that normal people will never truly accept him, he is chased back home by a mob and presumed dead after an accident. While Edward himself is both mysterious and frightening, the story is quite romantic. The ultimate story of humanity's fear of the unknown and dangers of conformity make Edward Scissorhands one of Burton's best films and established Depp and Burton's long-time collaboration for years to come.

#7 Mars Attacks! (1996) - In this parody of classic sci-fi movies based on a series of 1960's Topps trading cards, Martians arrive on Earth. Although they seem peaceful at first, a horrible invasion begins, which can only be stopped by the warbling yodels of country music...? Mars Attacks is a quirky and hilarious movie with a star-studded cast which includes: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Michael J. Fox , Sarah Jessica Parker and a young Natalie Portman!

#6 The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) - While not directed by Burton himself, "Tim Burton's:" The Nightmare Before Christmas is in fact pure Burton. Directed by Henry Selick and produced and based on a story and characters created by Tim Burton, "Nightmare" is a beautiful stop-motion animated feature set in the dark and twisted world of Halloween Town. When Jack Skellington (voice:Chris Sarandon/songs:Danny Elfman)"The Pumpkin King" grows tired of the same old thing every year, he discovers a magical door to Christmas Land and devises a plot to kidnap Santa Claus and takeover Christmas in his own creepy way! With incredible animation and ingenious songs by long-time Burton collaborator Danny Elfman, "Nightmare" is a favorite holiday movie!

#5 Batman Returns (1992) - Following the phenominal success of the first Batman (1989) movie, Tim Burton was set to direct another delightfully dark sequel with the addition of two of Batman's most popular villains: The Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfieffer)! The grotesque Penguin and the seductive Catwoman added much to the already dark and disturbing story. Although the sequel had a bigger budget and earned a bigger salary for Michael Keaton (Batman), producers at Warner Bros. soon decided to bring in director Joel Schumacher for the third movie, Batman Forever (1995). While successful to most fans, it was a joke, and the fourth movie, Batman & Robin (1997), would soon prove to be a horrific end to the first Batman franchise.

#4 Ed Wood (1994) - In this quirky bio-pic of Hollywood's Worst Director of All Time: Edward D. Wood, Jr., Tim Burton directs this entirely black-and-white story based on Ed Wood's biography "Nightmare of Ecstasy". Johnny Depp plays Ed Wood alongside Martin Landau's Oscar Winning performance as Bela Lugosi. Burton was the perfect director to pay tribute to the worst director, who oddly enough is remembered fondly for directing some of the worst and best B-Movies of the 1950's and 60's such as Bride of the Monster (1955), Night of the Ghouls (1959) and of course Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)!

#3 Beetlejuice (1988) - One of Burton's most well-known movies, Beetlejuice is a black comedy on death. Starring Michael Keaton as the disgusting and vulgar Beetlejuice (oops, I said it three times! LOL), a self-proclaimed bio-exorcist who wants to "help" recently dead newlyweds Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) remove a live family from their house. Their plan soon backfires as the "ghost with the most" becomes uncontrolable and wreaks havoc on the living! Brilliantly dark and funny with Burton's distinct touch, Beetlejuice is one of my favorite Burton movies!

#2 Sleepy Hollow (1999) - Although "loosely" based on the timeless novel by Washington Irving with a little inspiration from Disney's animated short, Sleepy Hollow is one of Tim Burton's most successful and big budget blockbusters! Full of Gothic atmosphere and blood, Sleepy Hollow is a new spin on the classic tale with Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as a police constable from New York who is sent to the town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of bizarre decapitations.  He soon becomes involved in a complex plot of conspiracy, murder and black magic. Christina Ricci stars as Katrina Van Tassel with a group of Burton regulars including veteran actor Michael Gough (which would be his last movie) and Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman with stunts by Ray Park.

#1 Batman (1989) - Batman, one of the greatest comic book crime fighters of all time finally gets a blockbuster movie which redefined the comic book movie/summer blockbuster! Tim Burton's dark vision of Gotham City brought the Dark Knight to life, with music by Danny Elfman and the perfect cast of Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. The Batman movie was one of the defining movies of my childhood and established my lifelong love of the Caped Crusader. While Jack Nicholson almost stole the show as the Clown Prince of Crime, it established Tim Burton as one of the biggest directors of the last few decades and paved the way for many of his films!