Friday, April 22, 2011
SUPERNATURAL! It's been my favorite show on The CW since the beginning and unlike other shows on The CW like Smallville (which I stopped watching regularly shortly after the first season), Supernatural (created by Eric Kripke) is a show that has literally "grown-up" with every season. I enjoyed following the adventures of brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) & Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester every Thursday night (now on Fridays!) as they battled ghosts, monsters, vampires, and demons! And through ALL of their hardships (DRAMA!), the MANY deaths (i.e. their father John played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) including their own, the many incarnations of the demon Meg and the arrival of the angel Castiel (played by Misha Collins), AND not to mention: THE APOCALYPSE!!! With the upcoming Season 6 Finale on 4/22, I present the TOP 13 BEST EPISODES of Seasons 1-5...why 13??? Because, it's SUPERNATURAL!
#13"Monster Movie", S.4, Aired: 10/16/08 - It's Oktoberfest and Sam & Dean investigate a series of mysterious murders reminiscent of classic monster movies! AND it's in Black & White! This is one of my favorite fun episodes (which has nothing to do with the current continuity). I have always loved the old Universal monster movies and the shape-shifter creature was a perfect opportunity to include it!
#12 "Mystery Spot", S.3, Aired: 2/14/08 - When Sam & Dean discover a supernatural mystery spot, Sam dies again and again and again... in a maddening loop that only Dean knows about! The concept seems hilarious but it actually becomes quite heart-wrenching as Dean has to deal with every death!
#11 "The Monster At The End of This Book", S.4, Aired: 4/2/09 - Apparently Sam & Dean are characters in a series of novels written by Chuck Shurley (Robert Patrick Benedict) who turns out to be a prophet? Chuck has become one of my favorite new characters and as a fellow writer I can relate to him.
#10 "The Usual Suspects", S.2, Aired: 11/9/06 - Sam & Dean are arrested and suspected of murder, but a ghostly clue helps them to solve it with the help of guest star Det. Diana Ballard played by Linda "The Exorcist" Blair! It was cool to see Linda Blair play a part and I had hoped she might become a regular, but sadly...
#9 "The Kids Are Alright", S.3, Aired: 10/11/07 - Dean drops in on an old girlfriend, Lisa (played by Cindy Sampson), and finds out she has a son, Ben (Nicholas Elia) who's neighborhood is being terrorized by changelings!
#8 "Hell House", S.1, Aired: 3/30/06 - While Sam & Dean battle a killer spirit they meet the Ghostfacers for the first time! The Ghostfacers were a great way to parody the recent popularity of over-the-top ghost hunters (i.e. "Ghost Hunters", "Ghost Adventures") they showed up several times in the show whenever Sam & Dean came across a haunted house.
#7 "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" S.5, Aired: , In Bobby's hometown, the dead are returning to life and want to go about life as usual...at first, then Zombies attack! This was a great variation on the zombie genre, the people who came back from the dead seemed normal but they soon changed and fed on flesh!
#6 "All Hell Breaks Loose", Part 1 & 2, S.2, Aired: 5/10/07-5/17/07 - Sam finds himself in a ghost town with others with psychic powers who have been pitted against each other by the yellow-eyed demon! Very intense!
#5 "The End", S.5, Aired: 10/1/09 - 5 years into the future, the apocalypse has happened, Lucifer has possessed Sam and the Croatoan virus runs rampant! This was a disturbing look into a possible future, especially when we saw what Sam could become as the host for Lucifer.
#4 "Hunted", S.2, Aired: 1/11/07 - As Sam hunts for others with psychic powers like him, he is being hunted by Gordon, a relentless vampire killer! The vampires in Supernatural were different from other vampires, somewhat reminiscent of the vampires from The Forsaken (2001).
#3 "Nightshifter" S.2, Aired: 1/25/07 - Sam & Dean search for a shape-shifter in a bank with the aid of Ronald (played by Chris Gauthier) a paranoid conspiracy-theorist, when they become surrounded by a SWAT team! Ronald was an interesting character, paranoid but yet very sympathetic.
#2 "Devil's Trap", S.1, Aired: 5/4/06 - Season One's Finale was the first in a long line of cliffhangers when Sam & Dean finally find their father and battle a demon only to be hit-and-run by semi-truck! After this first season fans couldn't wait for the next cliffhanger!
#1 "Pilot", S.1, Aired: 9/13/05 - Every story has a beginning and the original Pilot started it all! Meet Sam & Dean Winchester, while searching for their missing father Dean picks Sam up from college and they come across the urban legend of the "woman in white"! It's amazing how much things have changed since then...
Sunday, April 17, 2011
"What's your favorite scary movie?"
SCRE4M (Scream 4 )is the newest chapter in the Scream franchise. It's been ten years (11 in real life) since the infamous Woodsboro murders and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) has returned home to promote her new book "Out of Darkness", a sort of self-help book after coming to terms with being the survivor of a three murder-sprees (the last 3 movies). Although her story had already been publicized, no thanks to the book by journalist Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) who is now married to Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) now Sheriff of Woodsboro. Sure enough, upon Sidney's return home, the deaths start all over again in the same manner as the original murders. While Sidney stays at the home of her Aunt Kate and cousin Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), the whole town is in chaos as Sheriff Dewey and Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) try to solve the murders. Soon Gale takes it upon herself to try to uncover the murderer in her vain attempt to restart her career. With townspeople dying all around her, Sidney knows she is the ultimate target and awaits a confrontation with the new "Ghostface" killer while trying to protect her (extended) family.
The opening sequence of Scre4m, (or rather the two false openings of the movie) leave you confused and it isn't until about 10 minutes until we really get into the story. We see a much more mature Sidney (Neve Campbell, whose career has unfortunately been less than successful with various TV appearances). It seems almost too convenient that she picks the anniversary of the murders to come home to Woddsboro where the murders have become this unofficial Halloween-like holiday combined with the popularity of the "Stab" movies have made the town famous (or infamous). As Sidney finds kinship with her young cousin Jill, whose friends have been dying all around her she disregards Sidney's and her mom's attempts to protect her by keeping her at home but instead goes to her friend Kirby (Hayden Panettiere). As teens continue to be brutally murdered despite the town already being on edge and with police everywhere, the elusive killer manages to kill everyone around Sidney. The town's teenagers seem so desensitised to the events happening around them (even more so than the first movie) that the high school's Cinema Club stages their annual "Stab" movie-marathon party! The finale comes together in the typical Scream-tradition revealing the killer(s) (which I will not spoil!) however I find the ultimate identity of the killer to be both shocking and unbelievable than all of the Scream movies combined, the bloody climax makes about as much sense as the The Simpsons episode of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"! Although I am a huge fan of director Wes Craven I feel he isn't entirely solely to blame as there was much conflict with the original writer Kevin Williamson that Craven admits the production was "stressful" (See EW.com for more).
It seems the story was really reaching on their victims with the introduction of Sidney's extended family and her seemingly plain cousin Jill. Gale and Dewey's relationship seems so awkward that even though the actors are married in real life their characters rarely show it.
While the first Scream films tried to make address the social commentary including the 90's teen scene and horror/slasher movies in general. The new movie does attempt to address the newest teen mentalities and diversions such as one scene in particular which was the only one that made me laugh: when the reports of the murders start coming in, there's a scene inside the high school classroom when all the students' cell phone go off and chaos ensues...!
The whole thing about Scream is the referencing of the so-called "rules of a horror movie" but as the apparent rules have changed, they no longer seem to apply in this new century and therefore contradict the reason the killers in the movies emulate the movies to begin with! At first, Scre4m started in the usual way, I knew going in that it could never capture the power of the original prologue of the first movie with the intense Drew Barrymore scene. After seeing Scream 4, I find myself feeling very conflicted...the horror fan in me wanting really hard to like it, but the other part of me wanting to denounce this movie as a travesty of film making and admitting to the ultimate "death of the horror genre" (which surprisingly is eluded to in the prologue of this movie by none other than Anna Paquin who plays a bit part!).
Friday, April 15, 2011
#8 Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne/Black Label Society) - A.K.A. Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt, Zakk Wylde became Ozzy Osbourne's lead guitarist on the 1988 album "No Rest for the Wicked" which began a long musical collaboration with Ozzy for almost 20 years. Having started several side-projects including "Pride & Glory" (1994) and "Book of Shadows" (1996) he is also the founder of Black Label Society since 1999. Recently having departed from Ozzy's band and recovered from major health issues, Zakk is back on the attack with BLS and has never been better with his signature black and white, Bullseye pattern, Gibson Les Paul Custom, awesome!
Favorite Song: "Bleed For Me"
#7 Kirk Hammett (Metallica) - Originally the founder of the band Exodus, Kirk Hammett (a protege of Joe Satriani) was hired in 1983 by Metallica after former guitarist Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) was fired. Since then Kirk has been a major part of Metallica's sound as it has evolved and changed over the years. Even during the late 1990's when they cut their hair, went alternative and Kirk suddenly had a new fondness for the Wah pedal...and despite the lack of his signature solos on 2003's "St. Anger" album. Either way Kirk is still a top shredder on my list. I especially love his guitars decorated with old monster movie posters.
Favorite Song: "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
#6 Angus Young (AC/DC) - Known for his wild onstage antics and his English school boy uniform Angus Young has been a major force in hard rock as the co-founder (Along with brother Malcolm) and lead guitarist for the Australian hard rock band AC/DC! With his signature Gibson SG, Angus Young is a legend with his now familiar sound and memorable riffs!
Favorite Song: "Thunderstruck"
#5 Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen) - Eddie Van Halen along with brother and drummer Alex formed the hard rock band Van Halen in 1972 and ushered in a new style of guitar playing utilizing intense solos and high frequency feedback. Although the band has gone through many incarnations with several singers including David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, and Garry Cherone; Van Halen is complete again having reunited with Roth and included Eddie's son Wolfgang on bass! Favorite Song: "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love"
#4 Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) - A brilliant and ingenious guitar player, Jimmy Page was originally a member of The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, who went along to found Led Zeppelin in 1968 with singer Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham creating a musical phenomenon as one of the major influences of hard rock and heavy metal! Favorite Song: "Immigrant Song"
#3 Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell) - Tony Iommi is considered to be one of the most important and influential guitarists and a pioneer of heavy metal music. His distinct dropped down tuning style created a completely new sound and changed hard rock and heavy metal for all time. His detuned sound actually developed by accident as he was working in a sheet metal factory when the tips of his fingers were cutoff in an accident. He then used rubber baby bottles and formed thimbles to protect his fingers, thus drop tuning the guitar strings in order to play. Having originally formed the band originally called "Earth", with their unique, darker sound they changed the name to Black Sabbath and with their new singer John "Ozzy" Osbourne created heavy metal history! Favorite Song: "Paranoid"
#2 Randy Rhoads (Quiet Riot/Ozzy Osbourne) - A true musical genius and guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads founded the band Quiet Riot in 1973 with bassist Kelliy Garni and went on to join singer Ozzy Osbourne during his comeback after having been fired by Black Sabbath in 1979. With his enormous talent he was able to bring Ozzy back from the brink with a new sound and made Heavy Metal history with two albums "The Blizzard of Oz" (1980) and "Diary of a Madman" (1981). Tragically his life ended in a plane crash in 1982 while on tour with Ozzy, he was only 26 years old. Having lost a friend and musical companion Ozzy's bands could never truly replace Randy even with such talented guitar players like Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde.
Favorite Song: "Mr. Crowley"
#1 Jimi Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix Experience) - The original gypsy/voodoo child Jimi Hendrix changed the world of the electric guitar forever. As one of the greatest guitar players of all time he began his musical career in England with his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience and would later achieve worldwide fame performing in the U.S. including the famous Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967 and of course Woodstock in 1969. His career and life soon came to an abrupt end in 1970 from a drug overdose. He was only 27 years old. Favorite Song: His legend and music will live on forever... "Voodoo Chile"
LINKS: Guitar World Magazine, VH1 Classics's That Metal Show
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
#9 The Ren and Stimpy Show (1991-1996) This popular Nickelodeon cartoon featured the insane duo of Ren Höek, a psychotic chihuahua and Stimpson J. Cat, a dimwitted cat, in one of the most offensive and disgusting shows of all time... and that's why we loved it! "You eeee-diot!"
#8 ReBoot (1994-2001) Original and groundbreaking, "ReBoot" was produced by a Canadian/Vancouver based production company and was the very first completely computer-generated animated series. The series featured Bob, a guardian of the Mainframe who protects the computer-world from Megabyte, a villainous computer virus. With characters and story elements based on real-world computer technology this highly creative Tron-like world paved the way for modern CGI feature TV shows and films.
#7 Darkwing Duck (1991-1992) After the success of Disney's "Ducktales" (1987) cartoon series, with Disney's new weekday afternoon lineup included shows such as "Talespin", "Goof Troop" featuring already established Disney characters. Disney introduced a new superhero based in the Ducktales-like animal world it featured a semi-dark themed crime fighter "Darkwing Duck" a.k.a. Drake Mallard as a caped crime-fighter who used a variety of gas-guns, very reminiscent of "The Shadow" or "The Sandman". A sort-of spin-off of "Duck Tales", it featured the character of Launchpad McQuack as DW's sidekick and later also featured Gizmo-Duck. With some of the funniest Batman/James Bond-like super villains such as Steelbeak, Megavolt, Quackerjack, and his arch-nemesis Negaduck! "Let's get dangerous!"
#6 The Tick (1994-1996) Based on the independent comic book series created by Ben Edlund in 1986, the Fox Network introduced the wacky (and most likely insane) unlikely superhero The Tick (Townsend Coleman) and his sidekick Arthur (Rob Paulsen)! Featuring some of the craziest allies such as Die Fledermaus, American Maid and super villains from Chairface Chippendale to Brainchild just to name a few! "Spoooooon!!!"
#5 Animaniacs (1993-1998) "It's time for Animaniacs, and we're zany to the max..." In the new renaissance of Warner Bros. animation in collaboration with Steven Spielberg which included such titles as "Tiny Toon Adventures", "Animaniacs" was a revolution of animation entertaining both kids and adults! With a huge cast original characters including the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot, along with Pinky & the Brain (which got their own spin-off in 1995), Slappy and Skippy Squirrel, Rita and Runt, and The Goodfeathers! With often very adult-oriented and sometimes suggestive themes (Hello Nurse) and pop-culture references from both movie and cartoon history the show even including some current political themes with an appearance from Bill Clinton!
#4 X-Men (1992-1997) Although the X-Men were not new to animation with appearances in the 1980's with "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" (1981) to a failed "X-Men" pilot starring Kitty Pryde in 1989. As "The X-Men" Marvel comic book had experienced renewed interest with an all-star talent and popular new characters (i.e. Gambit, Jubilee, Bishop). The Fox Network produced a popular animated series featuring some of the most popular mutant characters creating even more success for Wolverine, who had already been the X-Men's most popular character. The series also re-introduced an older character, Morph (a.k.a. Changeling), who started out as an extraneous character but soon became the center of a major plot line as they killed off his character in the pilot episode! The show featured original stories as well as those based on past comic story-arcs such as "Days of Future Past" and "The (Dark) Phoenix Saga".
#3 Gargoyles (1994-1997) Whoever thought that Disney would have created one of the best action/fantasy cartoon series ever! "Stone by day, warriors by night!" With Keith David as the voice of the heroic Goliath and Marina Sirtis as the femme fatale Demona, it was dark, violent, even scary at sometimes! There was even a controversial episode called "Deadly Force" involving the lead Hispanic damsel Elisa Maza getting shot! An amazing show, it featured an intense episodic storyline and often highly-intellectual content featuring influences from the works of William Shakespeare!
#2 Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) I have been a huge Batman fan even from an early age and following the "Batman" movies directed by Tim Burton (1989-1992), Warner Bros. produced a new Emmy-winning animated series featuring the work of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. With some of the best voice actors like Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and memorable villains starring such actors as Mark Hamill as The Joker, Richard Moll as Two-Face, Ron Perlman as Clayface, Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman and David Warner as Ra's Al Ghul. Later the show introduced a much older teenage Robin (Dick Grayson) and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and retitled in it's 2nd season as "The Adventures of Batman & Robin" and was then later reworked into "The New Batman Adventures" featuring a new younger Robin (Tim Drake) and Nightwing. The show spawned two feature films including the theatrical release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993). "I am vengeance...I am the night...I AM BATMAN!"
#1 The Simpsons (1989-Current) Although it technically premiered on "The Tracy Ullman Show" in 1987 and it's first episode aired on December 17, 1989, The Simpsons were the defining dysfunctional family of the 1990's. Now it has become the single-longest running TV show of all time with worldwide popularity and is currently in it's 22nd season having released a theatrical movie in 2007 (The Simpsons Movie), along with billions of dollars in merchandise! "Ay Caramba!"