Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some tricks and treats for Halloween

With All Hallow's Eve now upon us its time to pull on the costumes, get out the candy and watch some scary flicks. But surprisingly very few horror films are actually set on Halloween. Well here's some that takes the love of October 31 and delivers some good fun.
1. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Okay so it's not a movie, nor is it scary. But the classic animated special is still required Halloween viewing. Plus who doesn't love the World War One Flying Ace or Linus's straight view of the world-"three things I've learned never to discuss with people-politics, religion and the Great Pumpkin."

2. Halloween. The original John Carpenter flick, long before poor Michael Myers had a sister, a niece, became part of a Druidish cult, had to fight Busta Rhymes and was rebooted by Rob Zombie into poor white trash.

3. Sleepy Hollow. It's not set on Halloween but Tim Burton's offbeat take on the Headless Horseman story has a lot of imagery we associate with the holiday. Throw in Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci and three Sith Lords and you got a cool cast also.

4. Trick R Treat. I already raved about this one earlier. A fun anthology fest with some laughs and scares. Plus Anna Paquin in a Little Red Riding Hood outfit. What's not to like?

So happy Halloween and stay safe.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

AVATAR trailer and website now here!

Finally the full trailer and website for James Cameron's epic is up. The trailer looks great and definetly sells it better than the previous one. The CGI effects, heavily criticized earlier look much more realistic. My only complaint is what bonehead decided to stick the trailer on Yahoo? Oh well here's a copy on Youtube and the official movie site-

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flash Gordon-The Ice Monster

The things you find in used bookstores...Long before the idea of the graphic novel or trade paperback collection, publishers decided instead to reprint comics in standard paperback size. One of these is this collection, copyrighted around 1968 which collects three stories from a short lived comic book series published by King Features. And as the cover plays up, its Al Williamson providing the art work-at least for the first two stories.

The first one, untitled in the book but I guess "The Ice Monster" finds Flash and company returning to Mongo (after a rather lengthy section retelling the previous adventures) to get radium to continue Dr. Zarkov's experiments. Once there they venture to the frozen kingdom of Frigia where they discover a scientist who has invented a serum to allow people to live forever. But when a plot to poison the serum is hatched, Flash will have fight to save himself and Dale Arden.

The second story-"The Mole Machine" has Flash and Zarkov head to Earth's Core in Zarkov's new machine where the discover the land of Krenkelium. Here they find a paranoid king, his hot daughter (who as usual gets attached to our hero) and prehistoric monsters.
The final story-"The Death Trap of Mongo"-finds our heroes facing death at the hands of a vengeful nobleman and his advisor-scientist. I'll let you have three guesses who the advisor is.

The fun thing is looking back at the stories and how simple they are. No elaborate over-plotting or pointless subplots-just Flash Gordon saving the universe. The artwork of Williamson is also great, the best next to creator Alex Raymond. (A book collecting Williamson's Flash stories from the 60s, along with a two-issue Marvel series from the 90s and his adaptation of the 1980 movie was recently published). Also fun is the references to other sci-fi stories. In particular Edgar Rice Burroughs-the serum that extends life from the Carson Napier books to Krenkelium (named after fellow artist Roy Krenkel) and the setup being lifted from At The Earth's Core. They certainly don't make them like this anymore.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Some new Avatar pics

While those of us wait for Thursday for the new trailer to hit the net (sorry I just couldn't pay to see crap like Saw VI to see it) some new images of James Cameron's Avatar has popped up- December can't get here quick enough.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Doc Savage movie in the works?!-UPDATE

According to Harry Knowles it is. Knowles ran into screenwriter Shane Black (of Lethal Weapon fame) who admitted he has been hired to write a new movie version of the 1930s pulp superhero for producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who recently wrote the new Star Trek and both Transformers movies.) Doc Savage for those who don't know was introduced in his own pulp magazine back in the 1930s and found renewed success in the 60s when paperback reprints sold and would prove an influence on characters ranging from Superman to Indiana Jones. A previous movie version, produced by legendary sci-fi producer George Pal, flopped in 1975 (mostly due to its campy humor) so hopefully this version will do the character right.

Well so much for AICN getting it right- According to this Shane Black is writing and possibly could direct the film but Orci and Kurtzman are not producing. Instead the producers of the upcoming The Green Hornet and in limbo Flash Gordon remake is producing. Considering their idea of a superhero is Seth Rogen I'm now cringing at the idea of who they'll want for Clark Savage Jr-Paul Rudd or Jason Siegel or any of the other Apatow stock company available?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's rumor-New Star Wars 3D!!

You got to wonder where people get their information? Marketsaw in an article has stated that Lucasfilm is now prepping a new Star Wars trilogy, to be filmed in 3D with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola directing chapters and George Lucas just producing, depending on how James Cameron's Avatar peforms. This was quickly rejected with Quint at aintitcool getting a response from Lucas's public relations department- that denies any new movies are being worked on. Lucas has stated his intention to make 3D versions of the current movies even though work has been put on hold while the current live action TV series and The Clone Wars animated series are in production.

Check your sources!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dafoe, Dafoe and More Dafoe

With about a 100 movies coming out (okay that's a slight exaggeration) Willem Dafoe is hitting the press circuit and giving some information about John Carter of Mars.

First up is a brief comment he made to Roger Ebert- Ebert asks if the already announced PG-13 rating will affect the film. Dafoe says no and that he's looking forward to working with Andrew Stanton again.

Next up is from Aint It Cool News- He confirms Tars Tarkas will apparently be around 9 feet tall and is that "Thark school" will be soon in session.

Finally he endures this interview with MTV- According to them, the film is some sort of political drama, even though Dafoe flat out says it's not. It's also apparent the interviewer has never read the novels and even assumes that the books stand for the plight of Native Americans (sure and Lord of the Rings is about short people's problems.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some DVD news

Normally I don't do this but I figured since they both go with this blog to give readers a heads-up.

First Amazon is taking pre-orders for Princess of Mars, slated for DVD release December 29. No word on any extras (other than a making of featurette listed on Asylum's page.)

Second up is a new two disc special edition of Buck Rogers, the classic 1939 serial starring Buster Crabbe set for release November 3. According to Amazon the set will include a 1933 Buck Rogers short, liner notes and as reported on a few websites three documentaries-one on the serial, another on Crabbe and his career and the third being the panel from this past summer's San Diego Comic Con.

Book Review: John Carter of Mars

A Reviewer's Note: This review has been changed a little

Well, we've reach the final entry in the series...

In the first of two adventures included, Dejah Thoris is kidnapped while out for a ride with John Carter. A ransom note is left demanding that their iron mines to Pew Mogel, a self-proclaimed "most powerful ruler" of Barsoom. When John and his friends attempt to rescue her what they find is a mad eye popping villain, an army of intelligent white apes and Joog-a simple minded giant under his control. With Pew and Joog heading for Helium, John has to save the day-and that includes dancing ulsios and a lot of silliness.

After that adventure John Carter hopes to have some peace and quiet when he is summoned by Tardors Mors. But it's a trap and he's for once abducted by skeleton like creatures from Sasoom-better known as Jupiter. When their mad leader decides he wants Barsoom for himself, John must act to save his adopted home world and his incomparable Dejah before it's too late. Will he stop the Skeleton Men?

As you can tell by the two plot descriptions, John Carter of Mars isn't a complete novel. Instead it collects one finished novel and an unfinished one, both published in magazine form during Burroughs' life but not collected until nearly 15 years after he died. The first entry John Carter and the Giant of Mars also bears another distinction-it was the first John Carter story not written by Burroughs but by his son Jack for a planned entry in the Little Big Book series (a popular children's book series that had illustrations on one page and the story on another.) Ultimately Burroughs senior did some work and it was published in 1941 and it shows why his style was hard to imitate. Also it suffers from many errors with regard to the previous novels and just never overcomes the fact it was written for small children. They might enjoy it but the older reader probably will just laugh.

The second story-The Skeleton Men of Jupiter-would see print in 1943 but Burroughs never completed it. In some ways maybe it was for the best-Skeleton Men is predictable and unsatisfying and repeats some of the same problems as the last two novels. What really does this one in is the lack of suspense. By this point we know John Carter will escape, rescue Dejah Thoris and save the day but it never felt this worn out before. Some have speculated that Burroughs never finished this because even he saw it as poor compared to the previous entries. It might have picked up in the second half though. But we'll never know.

So the final entry gets a collective ** out of 4 for both stories.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Traci Lords IS Dejah Thoris

Yep here's our first official pic of Ms. Lords from Asylum's Princess of Mars. A couple of other new photos are up showing more of Dejah and Antonio Sabato Jr. in his Martian costume. Go here for more

Do we need anymore X-Men movies revisited.

Some might remember over a month ago I posted my thoughts about making anymore X-Men movies. Well now they might have come up with a way to get me into the theater. In an interview Bryan Singer has revealed he has talked with 2oth Century Fox about returning for a possible fourth film in the proper series (not the Origins or First Class spinoffs). He's not alone in wanting a fourth film-producer Lauren Schuler Donner also mentioned in an interview she also the possibility of a fourth film. While it doesn't make up for the pointless Deadpool spinoff, the Wolverine sequel or the First Class film, another Singer X-Men might be what can salvage this series.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Review: Llana of Gathol

A Reviewer's Note: This review has been altered.

Sorry for the delayed trip back to Barsoom...

After the standard visit to his favorite Earth-bound nephew, John Carter begins spinning his latest adventures which starts while out for some "me" time. Flying over the apparently "dead" city of Horz, he rescues a man from Green men to discover the latest unknown species-a white race living inside the city. But proving no good deed goes unpunished he is taken prisoner for fear he will reveal their existence. Sent to the pits with the man he rescued, Pan Dan Chee, he begins to play Jetan when Pan falls for the likeness of one of the game's pieces-modeled after John Carter's granddaughter, Llana of Gathol. And as you can guess from the title it isn't too long before Llana herself shows up and gets swept into an adventure involving suspended animation, a settlement of the First Born, a braggart who intends to conquer Barsoom and take Llana for himself and some invisible menaces.

As mentioned in my review of Escape on Venus, Burroughs wrote this novel as four interconnected novellas. Unlike that one though, Llana of Gathol maintains at least a through-line : John Carter's attempts to stop the apparent Jeddak of Jeddaks Hin Abtol from conquering Barsoom and John's attempts to rescue his granddaughter. And it is an improvement over Synthetic Men of Mars thanks to keeping John Carter front and center. What also makes the novel interesting is that like Carson of Venus, Burroughs shows his opinions of the Nazis with Hin Abtol, a petty tyrant who thinks he deserves to conquer the world. While it isn't on the nose as the Zanis that Carson has to fight, it's still present.

Where this one falls short though is the episodic nature with John and Llana escaping, being captured and escaping again. This one also runs through some of the same ideas-invisible enemies, another woman who can't seem to resist the Warlord of Mars (which does cause some humor when he admits he feels awkward being a grandfather who never ages while being seduced)-all those tropes are present and accounted for. I guess what I was hoping for was a grand final go around but instead it's just a regular day for our hero.

Ultimately as the final complete novel of the series, Llana of Gathol isn't the grand slam finale the series deserved but an okay book. But you can't have everything. Rating: **1/2 out of 4

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Some John Carter movie news

Some casting and fx news this time. First IMDB is reporting that Daryl Sabara has been cast as "Edgar Rice Burrows." (Someone needs to check their spelling.) Sabara is best known as one of the leads in Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids films and roles in things ranging from Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place to Rob Zombie's Halloween.

The other news is that an outfit called Double Negative has been hired to work on the visual effects for the film. Among their credits are The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and some upcoming films like Sherlock Holmes and Prince of Persia. Here's their credit list.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Spook review-Trick R Treat

What the heck, it's October so time for a few good scares.
In this case, Trick R Treat actually delivers a few, along with some humor. Following the template of the George Romero-Stephen King fright fest Creepshow, Trick has four interconnected stories that plays through its brief but tight 82 minute run time. The first finds a principal (Dylan Baker) celebrating Halloween in his own way; the second one finds a group of kids reliving an urban legend concerning a bus accident; running through both segments and culminating in the third finds Anna Paquin (decked out as Little Red Riding Hood) trying to find that special someone and finally an old curmudgeon (Brian Cox) gets the trick or treater from Hell.

Directed with tongue in cheek by Michael Dougherty (who co-wrote X-Men 2 and Superman Returns) the film is definitely a step up from such recent junk like the Friday the 13th and Sorority Row remakes and Rob Zombie's Halloween II. In fact (rant coming in!) my only complaint is with the shabby treatment its distributor Warner Bros has given the film. Reportedly setting on the shelf for 2 years (I first saw a trailer for it on the 300 DVD) the studio is only now releasing it direct to DVD and Blu-Ray despite the fact the film has gathered some good notices (and the presence of Paquin, currently hot with HBO's sexy vampire show True Blood). To me it's another sad sign of how far the horror genre has fallen when good horror films like this (or Splinter or Let the Right One In) gets either scant release or DVD while crap like the pointless Saw sequels or the recent Orphan get wide multi theater release.

Beyond that give Trick R Treat a try. And be nice to that trick or treater next time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Princess of Mars Poster

Asylum has updated their site with our first view of the poster for their Princess of Mars. As you can tell we get a buff Antonio Sabato Jr; giant spiders and what looks like Traci Lords engaging a Thark in swordplay. Well she got the jump on Lynn Collins anyway.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bossk's Back!

Yep as the picture tells, the famous bounty hunter makes his animated debut in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which returns tonight on Cartoon Network under the subtitle "Rise of the Bounty Hunters." I know many dismissed it early on after the movie but the show rebounded and definetly looks good this season. I'll let you know what I thought after I watch the premiere.

UPDATE-Well no Bossk. Still the premiere did give the viewer plenty of new bounty hunter Cad Bane in action. The episode all showed a lightsaber wielding librarian and a fussier robot than C-3PO. I'll just have to wait and see if we see our favorite Trandoshan.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: Escape on Venus

Reviewer's Note: This review has been changed.

In this adventure, Carson Napier and his love Duare are attempting to find safe haven after being booted out of Vepaja over their illicit love affair. The two are heading for the friendly country of Korva when their are captured first by Myposians-fish like creatures and then a horde of following tribes, including Japalans and Vooyargans, who freeze them from the neck down and show them off in a zoo. At the end both end up stuck in the middle of a war between Falsans and Pangans...who honestly I couldn't even tell apart.

If my description sounds vague and flat...well the "novel" is that way as well. It probably has to do with the way Burroughs wrote it. Written just as World War II broke out, Burroughs wrote 12 short novellas for publication-four that would make up this book, another set that would make up Savage Pellucidar (the final entry in that series) and the final set that would result in Llana of Gathol (the 10th in the John Carter of Mars series and the last one published in book form during Burroughs' life.) While this might have spiced up his writing, it leaves the reader somewhat worn out by the end. Indeed all four novellas have the same setup-Carson and Duare escaping one death trap only to land in another. The villains introduced aren't memorable and by the end you even get the feeling Burroughs had run out of things for his hero to do. That may explain why this was the last Venus novel (even though a novella, The Wizard of Venus would be published after Burroughs' death.)

So it gets a ** out of 4.

Dejah Thoris Sideshow Statue Revealed

Some Barsoom news from San Diego Comic-Con for you guys. Sideshow Collectibles has released first images of a Dejah Thoris statue for fan...