Monday, January 30, 2012

Bad Figure Man vs. Good Figure Man

Okay, so here's the story - back in 1990, trolling the figure aisles of both Seekonk Child World and Swansea TRU, hoping to discover the latest releases of WWF LJN figs ("Akeem! Now With Gut Power!" and "Bad News Brown! With Ghetto Blaster Crotch Kick!" (I made them both up, but there REALLY should have been a BNB figure...god the INJUSTICE of it all...))

Okay, I'll start again. Back in the day, in our never-ending Figure Quest (much like The Never Ending Story, or The Boy Who Could Fly, we...)

Management apologizes for the lack of focus in this narrative. Those responsible have been sacked.

Back in the day, we hunted for figures. Action figures, to be exact. If memory serves, on one particular sunshine-y day, where all the inhabitants of their gumdrop houses on Lollipop Lane came out to * smack *

On one particular day, we ended up in the Swansea Toys R Us, thwarted in our quest to find the latest cutting-edge releases of WWF LJN figures. Our eyes were diverted to these particular two specimens, heretofore unrecognized denizens of the world of action figures. There was something...compelling...about each of them, and their perceived relationship with each other.

The exact script, which has stood the test of time, was due to the fact that Sweatpants, as is his wont, correctly and accurately imbued each previously lifeless figure with the depth of character and conflict and sheer wonder that made made playing Wrestling Figure Chess with him such a profound delight. The exact dialogue, which will never leave my memory, enacted on the dashboard of my Mazda Protege on the way back from the mall:

Bad Figure Man: (bent over doing something) * evil, sinister laugh *

Good Figure Man: (walking by, nonchalant head turn) Why, Bad Figure Man! What are you doing?

Bad Figure Man: Dumping raw sewage into the drinking water!

Good Figure Man: But why are you doing that?

Bad Figure Man: To kill people!

Good Figure Man: Well, I'm going to have to stop you.

Somehow, I didn't crash the car, doubled over the steering wheel in convulsive laughter. We made it home, and GFM and BFM vanished into the dustbin of history, to await their eventual renaissance. With that, the moment vanished into history. History dissolved into myth, myth became legend.

Until today.

I believe, with the help of Jay "Gonga" Gately (the unsung third Knight Templar of the Figure Quest and a guy that SHOULD be on this blog), I have actually FOUND both Good Figure Man and Bad Figure Man. Only JSP can confirm. Their dialogue has often echoed through my head as a reverberation of a parallel universe rich in its possibilities of Really Bad Guy Doing Very Bad Things and Pretty Good Guy TryingTo Stop Him. I think these are the guys, right? If they're not, then I give up doing anything for any reason, and I am going to eat both these entire bags of sugar and flour until I die. It's all I have. The wife is out of town for a week. The toilet seat is down,, but that's all I got.

JSP mentioned this in passing in an email today, and I took it upon myself to find these fucking guys. Jay was the one with the CRITICAL missing bit of info (via text message) which read, and I quote, " They rode on giant insects. The insects legs were a black glove you put your hand into. Your fingers would be the insect's legs and Bad Figure Man rode on the insect...I think. That's all I can remember."

That's all you had to remember, my dear friend. A quick Google search of "insect hand action figures" lead me to a vanished race of toys known as the Sectaurs. And with that, I give you, Good Figure Man and Bad Figure Man, excavated and renewed for a new millennium.

"No! Good Figure Man!!! Don't go out of focus! As your younger brother, I vow to go out and face Bad Figure Man myself! No matter what happens!"

And here's Bad Figure Man, one more time, because he's seriously up to some seriously very Bad, Bad Things...I mean. LOOK at the guy.

Ferris is back! Official 2012 Honda CR-V Game Day Commercial - "Matthew's Day Off" Extended Version

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Zone

Okay, let's get into it. Here are my top ten (links are to Wikipedia pages, which have spoilers):

"The Four of Us Are Dying" Not especially scary (as the Zone goes) but this one has incredible mood and atmosphere (in a heavily abstracted film noir kind of style) and, like all first season episodes, has the plangent Bernard Herriman score rather than the better-known four-note-motif that came later. (You all know composer Bernard Herriman: his first movie score was Citizen Kane and his last movie score was Taxi Driver. Beat that!)

"The Hitch-Hiker" Totally terrifying. Reminiscent of the opening half-hour of Psycho (in more ways than one). Unusual in that the protagonist narrates. "Going my way?"

"Mirror Image" This one is my favorite example of a phenomenon that makes the Zone immune to modern updates (in my opinion): With the black-and-white photography, the cheap sets, and the "slice-of-life" depiction of early 'Sixties life, Zone episodes are weird and creepy before anything happens -- just the act of setting the scene (and creating what contemporary viewers experience as humdrum normalcy) can fill us modern viewers with dread. Here, it's a lonely upstate New York bus station in the small hours of the night.

"The After Hours" See above remarks viz. 1960s normalcy. This time it's a department store after closing time, and an elevator that goes to a floor that isn't there...

"The Howling Man" Fucking terrifying, and possibly my favorite. Executed in a shamelessly baroque, Gothic style with frequent drunken tilted-camera angles and a protagonist/narrator who's totally insane (or is he?)

"Twenty-Two" This one's marred by its use of videotape (rather than film) which was a cost-cutting measure that crippled some Zone episodes, giving them an unfortunate "soap opera" vibe (which doesn't do much to blunt the power of the idea).

"The Grave" This one's got a wonderfully evocative "Ambrose Bierce" tonality that I totally dig. It's that dusty, windy, moonlit Old West that only exists on film, shot on indoor sets. Lee Marvin has to prove his courage, and probably wishes he didn't.

"The Midnight Sun" An unusually well-crafted episode, despite its limited scenario. I love this one because its closing moments (and Serling's narration) highlight the conceptual brilliance of the series itself.

"The Dummy" A truly terrifying shocker, which stars Cliff Robertson (and is one of two Zones featuring the same spectacularly creepy "ventriloquist's dummy" prop).

"Stopover in a Quiet Town" A little bit more whimsical, but, again, the closing twist and ending narration bring it home like nobody's business.

Honorable Mention: "Printer's Devil" One of the few Season 4, hour-long episodes that works (the show was unable to function properly in this longer format, in my opinion). Burgess Meredith makes my favorite of his many appearances.

I tried to focus on episodes I had a particular fondness for (or terror of). Of course I also love the following "gold standard" classics:

"Third from the Sun"
"The Eye of the Beholder"
"The Invaders"
"Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?"
"It's a Good Life"
"To Serve Man"
"Living Doll" (which is how we got here in the first place)

Mr. Pitt died

From ew, an Abercrombie, the actor best recognized for playing Elaine Benes’ boss on Seinfeld, has died. He was 77.
Abercrombie, who did voice work on the movie Rango this year, passed away in Hollywood on Thursday. He just finished work on the animated series Green Lantern for the Cartoon Network.

Abercrombie’s career spanned more than 50 years and included roles in flicks like Young Frankenstein and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. TV gigs included playing Mr. Pitt on Seinfeld, as well as parts on Wizards of Waverly Place, Desperate Housewives, Murphy Brown and L.A. Law.

He was born in Essex, England and began his career as a stage actor.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"My name is Talky Tina, and I'm going to kill you"

Totally wicked! (As the kid at the end of The Incredibles exclaims hilariously.) You can actually buy the "Talky Tina" doll from that genuinely terrifying Twilight Zone episode with Telly Savalas. It really does all the creepy stuff from the episode: the eyes open by themselves, and it says all the lines from the show (by means of the original soundtrack), including:

"My name is Talky Tina, and I love you very much."
"My name is Talky Tina, and I don't think I like you."
"My name is Talky Tina, and you'll be sorry."
"My name is Talky Tina, and I'm going to kill you."
"My name is Talky Tina, and you'd better be nice to me."

Remember that last line, when Tavalas is dead and the wife drops the doll in slow motion? Gives me chills. Anyway it's just $139 bucks. Look!

Awesome: Two Teens Send LEGO Minifig To 80,000 Feet

From geekology, 17-year old Canadian twelfth graders Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad recently sent a LEGO minifig to 80,000-feet (~15 miles/24km/not really outerspace but still really damn high) with a weather balloon, and this is the video to prove it. The young men spent $400 and four months of Saturdays planning the minifig's journey, but somehow managed to send him up without a helmet. You killed him! Besides that though, good lookin. Me? I've never sent anything anywhere. "But I thought you used to have that pen-pal in prison?" I don't want to talk about him.


From filmdrunk, Kirk Cameron is worried about where this country’s headed. Not only is our president a part-negroid socialist who burns bibles to keep pagan babies warm, hardly anyone came to Kirk’s birthday party (except Belinda- GO OUTSIDE BELINDA! Sandwiches aren’t for sinners! I heard you humming that Dixie Chicks song!). That’s why Kirk is on a journey through history to find out what made America great once. Specifically, he tours the alternate history version of the 80s as envisioned by Ronald Reagan fan-fiction, and the part of the Founding Father story that doesn’t mention that almost none of them were Christians. This journey is chronicled in Kirk’s new documentary, Monumental, the trailer for which you can watch below.

But who am I kidding? The real draw is Kirk Cameron and his incredible reaction shots. No one wordlessly conveys humility before Christ like Kirk Cameron. He should become the Andy Serkis of Christian movies, where WETA uses Kirk Cameron covered in performance-capture censors to imbue each performer with the spirit of Jesus. It’s just too bad those black tights are a sin. Not to mention pre-marital mo-cap.

“I went on a journey to retrace the journey of our forefathers, to see if they left us some kind of a map that would guide us back to the foundation of America’s success.”

Try 1945 Europe, when it was all bombed and burnt to shit and America was the lone remaining manufacturing power. Or to Teddy Roosevelt. He rode a moose once and it was totally badass.

“What I discovered is that our history has not just been forgotten, it’s been re-written.”

For instance, did you know that Ronald Reagan was an actor? Really, it’s true! He used to be in monkey movies, like Joey from Friends. There was this one, Bedtime for Bonzo. Apparently it was about a chimp who wouldn’t go to sleep. They couldn’t get him to go to sleep, so they called Ronald Reagan. And Ronald Reagan came and told the chimp, “Look, chimp, we both know that you are not my grandfather. But if we put aside our differences, together we can defeat communism. Those goddamned atheists will have to pry this banana from my cold, dead, intelligently-designed hand.”

The theme to Welcome Back, Kotter is my favorite TV theme, what's yours?

I’m not talking about the quality of a TV show, just the theme. What is your favorite TV theme song?

If You Close Your Eyes and Squint, There's Kind of a New Monty Python Movie Coming (Not Really)

From variety, Members of Monty Python's Flying Circus are reteaming for "Absolutely Anything," a sci-fi farce combining CGI and live action, with Terry Jones to direct and Mike Medavoy to produce.

Plans are for filming to begin in the U.K. this spring, with the Pythons voicing key roles as a a group of aliens who endow an earthling with the power to do "absolutely anything" to see what a mess he'll make of things -- which is precisely what happens. There's also a talking dog named Dennis who seems to understand more about the mayhem that ensues than anyone else does. Robin Williams will voice the character.

From toplessrobot, Besides Terry Jones as director, Variety goes on to report that John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin have already agreed to do voices for the film, and that producers are "attempting" to sign Eric Idle (call me crazy, but I'm willing to bet he does it). Which makes it as full a reunion as we're going to get... and also Robin Williams will be there. ...nnngyeengh? (rueful shrug) Look, this may be our last chance for any sort of Python reunion, so let's just take what we can get here. We can complain about it how it sucks after they're all dead.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger, I died! RIP Dick Tufeld

I’ve never seen a Lost in Space fan (I’ve probably watched it twice in my life) but I always thought that the robot was kind of cool. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I’m mixing it up with the Forbidden Planet robot. I don’t even know what my point is here; oh yeah, the voice of the robot from Lost in Space died.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

'Welcome Back Kotter' star Robert Hegyes dies

From ew, The actor best known for playing Jewish Puerto Rican student Juan Epstein on the 1970s TV show Welcome Back Kotter has died.
The Flynn & Son Funeral Home in Fords, N.J., says it was informed of Robert Hegyes’ death Thursday by the actor’s family. He was 60.

A spokesman at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., told the Star-Ledger newspaper that Hegyes, of Metuchen, arrived at the hospital in the morning in full cardiac arrest and died.

Hegyes was appearing on Broadway in 1975 when he auditioned for Kotter, a TV series about a teacher who returns to the inner-city school of his youth to teach a group of remedial students. They included the character Vinnie Barbarino, played by John Travolta.

Skull And Bones

ABBA to release first new song in 18 years

(Rolling Stone) -- ABBA have announced plans to reissue their final album, "The Visitors," with a previously unreleased song on April 23.

"From a Twinkling Star to a Passing Angel," a demo recorded around the time "The Visitors" was released in 1981, will be the first new ABBA recording released since the box set "Thank You for the Music" was issued in 1994.

The new version of "The Visitors" will also include six previously released bonus tracks and a DVD featuring rare and unreleased footage from the Swedish pop band's archives, including their last-ever live performance on the BBC's "Late Late Breakfast Show" in December of 1982.

ABBA disbanded in 1982 and have since refused to reunite. The band even declined to get back together for their induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Man Creates $150,000 "Star Trek" Apartment, Wife Destroys It in Divorce

From worstpreviews, Tony Alleyne has spent over ten years transforming his 500 square-foot UK apartment into the interior of the USS Voyager from "Star Trek." It has cost him around $150,000 to do so, and now because of a divorce, he is forced to rip everything down.

Some of the features of the apartment include hand-crafted furnishings, a high-tech bathroom, voice-activated blue lighting, air conditioning, a command console and his own transporter room.

Before we start blaming the wife, it's important to point out that Alleyne and his wife have lived in the apartment since 1994 and she has been paying the entire mortgage for it. Meanwhile, Alleyne has been skipping on the mortgage in order to spend all his money to turn their apartment into a "Star Trek" starship.

Now that they are getting divorced, the wife wants to sell the apartment and wants it back to how it was. And he doesn't have any money to buy the apartment from her. "To say I'm gutted is an understatement," said Alleyne. "It is my life's work - and it looks like it's going into a skip. I admit there were tears."

See pictures of the apartment here

Glass Floor Supported By 180,000 Little Plastic People

From geekology, This is a glass floor supported entirely by the combined effort of 180,000 little plastic people. It was constructed by South Korean artist Do Ho Suh and at first I thought all the figurines were women and the floor represented the glass ceiling, but then I realized I got high with the bartender on my lunch break and I'm reading way too far into things. Oh shit, oh shit -- this popup says I just won an iPad!

See more pics here

Sequels that thankfully never happened

From, Some of the worst films ever made are, in fact, sequels to some of the best films ever made. While some have gotten it right (Godfather II, anyone?), many more have left people longing for the originals. Luckily, some studio executives had the wherewithal to put the kibosh on these prospective sequels.

Just a few short weeks after the release of the smash hit E.T., director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison reunited to write a treatment for a proposed sequel. It sounded like a good idea, until you read the treatment. Seems the duo planned to turn the heartwarming family classic into a total fear fest. The proposed story called for a new breed of evil aliens to come crashing down to earth and abduct the film’s main child protagonists, and charged poor little E.T. with their rescue. Yikes.

Read more here

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You can't see the actor

Minor cinematic observation: some of the best directors have used this really great counterintuitve technique at extremely dramatic moments in their movies. The protagonist is at an absolutely critical juncture in his/her story, and (usually) is having a conversation; maybe it's on the phone, or maybe it's with somebody else in the room. (Or maybe it's not a conversation; maybe it's a monologue.) And as the man speaks, you can't see him. You can see him all right, but his face is in shadow or obscured, or (most often) he's turned away from the camera (maybe on the phone) and all you see is the back of his head. For example (no spoilers):

HARRISON FORD (in Witness) takes advantage of a rare trip out of the Amish community to find a pay phone and connect with his partner. He discovers some disquieting developments, makes another call, abruptly hangs up the phone...and just stands there, getting not just mad but Harrison-Ford-mad. But we can't see his face since Peter Weir photographs the entire scene from behind his head.

JOSH BROLIN has his (only?) phone conversation with Javier Bardem (in No Country For Old Men). Same remarks. Extremely intense confrontation, but we never cut away to Bardem and we never see Brolin's face; just the back of his head.

ROBERT DE NIRO sits and weeps in a Florida jail cell (in Raging Bull). He's facing the camera, but his entire body is in deep shadow except for his right shoulder and arm (which shake as he cries). We can hear him whimpering but we can't see him at all.

ORSON WELLES, as Citizen Kane, signs his "Declaration of Principles" in the New York Enquirer editorial offices. He's leaning over the desk with a pen, talking to Bernstein and Leland. His entire upper body is silhouetted; you can't see his face (above). (Roger Ebert pointed this one out, in his excellent feature-length commentary.)

ALAN ARKIN has a crucial conversation with an elderly resident of the coastal Italian town his unit's based near (in Mike Nichols' stunning Catch-22 adaptation). We're cutting back and forth between Yossarian (Arkin) and his interlocutor, an old Italian local. In Arkin's tight shots, he's entirely silhouetted by the ambience from the Italian village streetlights. His head bobs (in tight focus) as he speaks, but it's a featureless black outline.

Any others?

Top 15 movies I didn't see in 2011 because they looked terrible

From geektyrant, So I thought what the hell, why not make a Top 15 list of movies that I didn't see over the last year because of how bad they looked. My decision not to see any of these movies was based on how bad they looked due to the trailers that the studio released for them, as well as some of the actors that were involved with the projects.

I can't really give any kind of commentary on the films because I haven't seen any of them, and I seriously doubt I will ever watch them. This list is based purely off the fact that they looked absolutely terrible.

So here's the list, each one accompanied by the movie trailer that turned me off on the film. And yes, there are two Nicolas Cage movies on the list. This list is in no particular order"

See full list here

'Real' Beavis and Butthead

[via slashfilm]

Oscars 2012: And the nominees are...

From ew, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the nominees for the 84th Academy Awards. This year’s most nominated film? Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, with 11 nominations, followed by Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, with 10.

Below are the rest of the nominees.

The Oscars will be televised on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Best Picture

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Full list here

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to Megan Fox Island


I entered this in this week's Cracked photoplasty competition. The theme was "movies remade as light-hearted romantic comedies".

Birthday love!

Please join me in wishing Crystal Math a kickass, glorious happy birthday! For those of you who have not yet met her - she's a warm, genuine and all around lovely human being and I look forward to introducing her to all of the east coast Horrorthonners when we visit New York and Rhode Island next month (2/18-2/26, details to follow!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mary Shelly's Frankenhole Season 2 Starts Tonight!

Set your DVRs! Or stay up late! It starts at quarter past midnight.

A lot of people worked really hard on this, but if you want to look for things I made personally, there's the stage set, the backstage set, and the stake-firing vampire hunter's musket. Enjoy!

Totally worth 2 hours of your time

In 2009, Casey Pugh asked thousands of Internet users to remake "Star Wars: A New Hope" into a fan film, 15 seconds at a time. Contributors were allowed to recreate scenes from Star Wars however they wanted. Within just a few months SWU grew into a wild success. The creativity that poured into the project was unimaginable.

SWU has been featured in documentaries, news features and conferences around the world for its unique appeal. In 2010 we won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media.

Finally, the crowd-sourced project has been stitched together and put online for your streaming pleasure. The "Director's Cut" is a feature-length film that contains hand-picked scenes from the entire collection. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Slow news day: What was the first concert you ever saw?

The first concert I ever saw live was Duran Duran in 1983 at the Worcester Centrum in Worcester, MA. My ticket cost $15 (yes I’ve kept all my concert stubs) and I believe I attended the show with Octo and a kid named Roger. We left before the encores because we didn’t know there was such a thing as encores. The next day in school I learned that Duran Duran played for an additional 30 minutes after we left. The last show I saw was Soundgarden at Mohegan Sun last summer. My ticket cost $200. My next show is the recently reunited Van Halen (March) and I'm checking out the action with Deroaches. I’m bored folks, tell me your tales!