Monday, October 26, 2009

Remote Viewing - LOST TAPES on Animal Planet

Since the ALCS was only mildly interesting last night...cough.... I was surfing the cable stations for something before the shows we normally watch were on. Just out of curiosity I decided to check out Animal Planet where I found they had some show called LOST TAPES, of which I was unfamiliar. Whoa! Not what I had expected on AP at all!

I guess I thought the show was about material from animal/wildlife documentaries which had been unseen for some reason. What I discovered was that the program's premise is that there are actual creatures of legend roaming about (vampires, werewolves, etc.) of which video and film footage exists. The footage has been repressed by the 'authorities' to prevent panic. The two episodes I watched last night dealt with the hunt for a 'serial killer' who turned out to be a werewolf and the discovery of a vampire leaving in a home just purchased by a family. The 'tapes' of the events are intercut with interviews with the people involved and "experts" on cryptozoology and paranormal creatures.

The show has a website (link above), where you read more about the show, watch entire episodes and discuss them with other viewers/fans. Since I just found both the site and show I haven't had much of a chance to do more than skim a bit, but it does look like a lot of fun.

Major disclaimer: I do not believe in the existence of any of these creatures. I do not believe in the paranormal. I certainly don't 'buy' some of the things that folks report and discuss in the forums, since a few really do believe in some of 'urban legends' and creatures in the series. I love being scared and love monsters. I take everything in the series with several tablespoons of salt, but can still enjoy it for what it is. Much like I am interested in seeing the movie "Paranormal Activity" but certainly don't believe that that film is anymore than a well-done independent film with special effects.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Four-Color Fiend: Why am I still reading?

Just a quick peek at some of the comics I’m reading.

Walking Dead (Image Comics) by co-creator/writer Robert Kirkman & current artist Charlie Adlard continues to be among my Top Five comics. I’ve talked about the book before, so if you’ve heard all this skip forward.

Kirkman’s characters are the reason to read this book (not to slight Adlard’s art which perfectly fits the series). Forced into a situation by a plague which reanimates the dead, a group of survivors have to do whatever they can to survive. In the past five issues (#61-66), the “Fear the Hunters” storyline, former police-officer Rick Grimes and the others confront something just as ‘evil’ and perhaps much more dangerous than zombies. Not going to give it away, should you be picking up the book in TPB, but the changes in society may have reached a point where the morals we once lived by no longer suffice. I recommend you pick up the first TPB or better yet the first ‘omnibus’ edition of the series and give it a try. Ignore the zombies and just follow the interaction of the characters. It will be worth it!

Justice Society of America (DC Comics) has reached a point where I just don’t care anymore. I started picking up the book during the whole Final Crisis saga, have been reading it and mostly enjoying it through the “Kingdom Come” Superman/Gog storyline. I now find that I’m reading the book more out of habit than for the enjoyment the book used to bring. I still like some of the characters (especially Michael Holt, the new Mr. Terrific), but not enough to keep buying the book. It was announced back at SDCC, I believe, that the book is actually going to have a spin-off, with part of the team going off with Magog (is there a worse “new” character currently being pushed by DC?) with the rest staying put. Frankly, I haven’t cared enough to actually research which members are going and which staying. Anybody want some back I may keep the JSA vs. Kobra mini, since Michael plays such a central part.

Just as I’m dropping JSA, it seems that Justice League of America is going to get more interesting. The recent story arc featuring the Royal Flush(ed down the toilet) gang and third string villains Amos Fortune & Roulette was pretty much of a waste of time & effort. Frankly, I really can’t even pretend to care about the mostly second-string characters currently in the JLA. It is primarily the knowledge (from SDCC again) that James Robinson will be picking up the writing chores that keep me buying the book. I don’t want to miss out on any hints of what is to come.

Speaking of Robinson, I really want to recommend his current Justice League: Cry for Justice mini. The story features Hal Jordan (from some period before Blackest Night, I’m guessing), Ray Palmer, Congorilla and several other characters who may or may not make up the newly reformed JLA when Robinson takes over that team’s book. In this incarnation Congorilla (the one time “great white hunter” Congo Bill) reminds me a great deal of Cliff (Robotman) Steele at his best wise-cracking best. Hey, between this particular golden gorilla and Kenneth (Gorilla-Man) Hale in Marvel’s Agents of Atlas I’m getting my fill of talking gorillas. As a child of the Silver Age DC comics, I could not be happier! Team-up!!!

Next time some Old Time Radio!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Popcorn For One: ZOMBIELAND (perhaps some SPOILER)

I'm going to start right out by giving my ratings and then my review: The first half of this movie gets *** 1/2 Stars and the second half *** stars. Not a perfect film, but certainly as good as I hoped and better than I would have expected.

ZOMBIELAND, if you haven't seen all the ads, takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where a plague (never really explained) has wiped out almost everyone. When the film starts it has obviously been several months since the plague hit and we eventually meet four 'normal' folks who have thus far survived. 'Columbus' (played by Jessie Eisenberg) is a videogame playing nerd, who is trying to get to Ohio to find if his parents have survived. He has gotten by so far by creating a "list of rules" that he follows, many of which we get to see as the 'rule' actually appears on the screen during the action. It is Columbus who narrates the film and it is through his neurotic eyes that we see the other survivors, "Tallahasse" (Woody Harrelson in his best role since NATURAL BORN KILLERS) who seemingly mourns only the death of his puppy; and two sisters "Wichita" (Emma Stone) and "Little Rock" (Abigail Breslin) who were together and without supervision (not explained) prior to the plague.

While Tallahasse's only goal is to find the last box of Twinkies, the girls seek an amusement park they visited in California as children in the idealistic belief (which it is apparent Wichita doesn't really believe) that there are no zombies there. The first half of the film introduces the characters, give some background and eventually has them teaming up for the great road-trip across Zombieland, which is what Columbus has come to call what is left of the U.S. In many ways this is the strongest and most fun part of the film, until the predictable final confrontation at the park. As much as I loved the movie, and would gladly see it again, there are some scenes that take place in the Hollywood home of a celebrity that all but stop the film dead in it's tracks (perhaps appropriate in a movie about the undead). I know we are expected to care and things lead up to this moment, but the scene goes on way too long in my book. Thankfully the appearance of the mansion's owner (a well-known star who I won't give away as many have)turns the film back into the delight that it was in earlier reels.

Two warnings: Many of the most shocking and gory scenes in the film, as well as some of the funniest, appear during the opening credits. If the blood & guts there don't bother you you won't have a problem with what is to come. What a is worse than a puking zombie? One puking directly into the cameralense. Oh, yeah! Secondly, stick it out through the end credits, for a cute bit featuring that 'guest star'.

As usual, there were over half a dozen trailers before the film and this time around the some choices fit with the main feature. Quickly:
1) A Nightmare on Elm St. - why? The trailer shows scenes we have seen in the original and it's sequels. Skip
2) Shutter Island - a creepy, scary tale from Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DeCaprio? I'm am so there!
3) Saw 23 - okay maybe only VI, but haven't we lived through Jigsaw's games way too often already? *yawn* skip
4) 2012 - okay, the trailers looks awesome and living in California there's nothing better than watching the entire state being destroyed. I like John Cusack and Woody Harrelson is also in this one. I'd be tempted to see this one with Kristina, since she is always asking me if I believe in the Mayan prophecy. I might see this.
5) A Christmas Carol - not a huge Jim Carey fan, but I so love this book that I can give just about any version at least a try. Very probably!
6) Amelia - Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart. Donna wants to see this one, and she doesn't want to see very much! :-)