Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Excuse me, society...we're monsters too, you know. Who do you gotta maul around here...


Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know about Bigfoot. He got his own movie with John Lithgow. And the Loch Ness Monster...and the Chupacabra, the Boogey Man, Dracula, Wolfman, Lagoon creatures, etc. But there are OH SO many more monsters out there, just struggling to get the monstrous recognition they deserve. There are documented "reports" of all of these creatures on-line at ask.com. So would you do them a favor, and think about THEM the next time something goes bump in the night? Please?

Instead of dwelling on Frankenstein, maybe think about...

LITTLE FAT SHADOW BEINGS. Tiny, round Buddha-like shadow creatures. According to "J. Santana," they come through your window while you are sleeping and hang out. Before that, they came from a handful of white orbs that flew down from the heavens. They have been reported in Arizona. You can run....but can you run from your own little fat shadow?

Or have terrible, terrible nightmares of the horror that are OWL PEOPLE. Says "Claudia C.," these terrors are approximately six feet tall, with large round eyes. They stopped by Claudia's van in San Diego where she was relaxing with "a couple of beers." Still, to this day, no one knows what they want. But, man, can you not be creeped out by these nocturnal bird people with fully-rotating heads?

Holy snikes! Is that the dreaded TRIANGLE MAN? The gaunt, skinny, night-visitor with a face shaped like a triangle that used to sit at the edge of "Corrinne M.'s" bed, during her childhood. Sure, she hasn't seen him sense, but would you want to? I mean, HE DOES THE THINGS THAT A TRIANGLE CAN. *shudder*

Oh no! Can it be true? Has THE DUENDE a.k.a. THE GNOME OF MEXICO been spying on kids on trampolines again? That's what happened to young "Mister X," who's pitbull started barking at the terribly tiny elf-like creature. The Duende did what any Duende would do--hid in the bushes. Duende's are awful, but they are not stupid--is there a Duende hiding in your bushes? Do you have the nerve to check? Do ya, punk?

Is...is...is it THE CREATURE OF THE DUMP? That's what "Paula M." saw on one balmy summer afternoon at an Oregon junkyard. A fuzzy, brown, burrowing worm-like creature with NO DISCERNIBLE EYES, NOSE OR MOUTH. Nothing freaks me out like the featureless. 

Do you have the courage to look away from a PHANTOM KANGAROO? Like the one said to be haunting San Francisco's Golden Gate Park since the 1980s? Marsupials are frightening to begin with (that...pouch...eaeaeaeaggghghghgh), but can you even imagine one that can appear and disappear at will? 

Maybe the most terrifying of all is THE POPOBAWA, a cyclops dwarf with bat-like wings that terrorizes the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Africa. According to X-Project mag, this creature is particularly feared for its habit of "sodomizing men in their sleep." Imagine waking to a back-door burrowing by a myopic winged little dude...that's almost a freaky as...

THE BIG MUDDY MONSTER, who has been quickening the pulses of the citizens of Murphysboro, Illinois since 1973. A large, eight-foot tall creature covered in mud and hair, thought to be related to Bigfoot or Robin Williams. 

MONSTERS! So...many...monsters!




Sunday, June 28, 2009

Luck, consider yourself pressed...


I'm a bit of a game show nut--I spend a lot of time writing and working at home, and GSN is often on in the background. I know I'm not supposed to be watching the channel (every commercial is for denture creme or erection medication), but I always find myself enchanted by families feuding, the dipshits of Chain Reaction, Woolery and his Lingo, and the drunk celebs of Match Game. Heck, it's unfairly hard to find an episode of Card Sharks when you need one. One of the greatest of my game show pleasures is Press Your Luck, the Whammy-infested random board manned by the late great Peter Tomarken. It was always a pleasure to see the Whammys break-dance over and snatch contestants' money away (animated, btw, by Better Off Dead Director Savage Steve Holland, who may be the nicest guy in the history of the world). One particular episode in 1984 will live on in infamy, as PYL met its match in ice cream truck driver Michael Larson.

The bearded, sad-sack Larson was a super fan of the show, but more importantly, a student of it. Larson had discovered that the seemingly random boards were, in fact, five set boards (which he figured out after taping episodes and pausing the VCR, then progressing frame by frame). After a couple of seconds, Larson knew which board he had, and could always stop on big-money squares, and ones with extra spins. What started off as a normal episode soon spiraled out of control. Tomarken, caught up in the excitement, kept the show moving, but panic was ensuing backstage. By the time the super-long show wrapped, Larson had racked up the single biggest total in the history of PYL: $110, 237 in cash and prizes (with just over 100k in cash!)

The network tried to get out of paying Larson, considering him a cheater, but they had no legal ground to stand on. Larson was paid out his winnings--which he promptly blew on ponzi schemes. The episode itself (which I have included in 5 pieces lifted from YouTube, below) is truly mesmerizing. Once Larson really goes on his seemingly never-ending tear, you can't take your eyes off of it--it's that rare occurrence of real life drama that feels like fiction but isn't. So enjoy it--trust me, it's worth it. And whatever you do, don't stop...at a WHAMMY.











Thursday, June 25, 2009

Now available! RiffTrax Presents "Ghost" with Janet Varney and ME!

RiffTrax Presents
GHOST
Riffed by Janet Varney and Cole Stratton

Check it out HERE.



For those of you unfamiliar, RiffTrax.com is a venture helmed by Michael J. Nelson (former head writer and host of Mystery Science Theater 3000) where Nelson and frequent collaborators/former MST3Kers Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett make fun of movies on a downloadable mp3 track. You simply download the track and play it back while synced up to the DVD of the film (which you rent or own yourself) and you've got feature-length comedic commentary! Nelson has also featured guest riffers like Weird Al Yankovic, Fred Willard, Neil Patrick Harris and (as of next week) Joel McHale, and has also commissioned official "RiffTrax Presents" teams for riffs not featuring Nelson but of guests whose work he admires. After having Mike and the guys at SF Sketchfest a couple of times, Janet and I got some work writing for them on the first Harry Potter film, and were then asked to write and perform our first RiffTrax Presents track, which ended up being Dirty Dancing, released last September. After a overwhelmingly positive response, we're back with our second RiffTrax--this time to the Swayze/Moore "classic" Ghost.

Please download it, and enjoy! A longer description of the track:

If messy wet clay and the brothers Righteous are your idea of foreplay, look no further than this Jerry Zucker-directed (yes, THAT Jerry Zucker) surprise smash hit of 1990.

Test your credulity as our beloved Patrick Swayze trades in his dirty dancin' shoes and his blue collar bartending meat hooks to give a turn in the role he was destined to play: an intelligent, educated, high-powered account executive.

Feel his pain when he is prematurely ripped away from Demi Moore while she is upstaged by her own Hobbit haircut.

Drown in misery as you discover that the only way he can communicate with her is through a scenery-gnawing con woman.

But cheer up! You also get to feast your eyes on some of cinema's worst special effects in the form of crudely animated shadow demons.*

Cole Stratton and Janet Varney return for another Swayze classic with Ghost, a movie cloaked in profound questions about the existence of an afterlife, whether the living can communicate with the dead, and how in the world Whoopi Goldberg ended up with an Oscar.

*We are not referring to Tony Goldwyn.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quick! Hollywood! Mine my childhood!

With Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen already enjoying boffo business at the box office (Grimlock, pictured above, is my favorite of my childhood Transformers, and I am assuming will be absent from the second film), it seems inevitable that Hollywood will return once again to the seemingly endless well of crap I used to play with. There's been movies in the works for years of Thundercats and Voltron, and I'm sure we'll see big-screen treatments of marginal toys in the years to come. May I make some suggestions, tinsel town? How 'bout...

M.A.S.K.: The Movie

Sure, we already learned that Illusion is the Ultimate Weapon in everyone's favorite Bryan Brown/Brian Dennehy flicks F/X, but let's give this one a shot. Based on a series of toys in which vehicles turned into...other vehicles...M.A.S.K. has a built in following (and not just the people who worked for Kenner Toys!). Here's a plot and some casting:

Uh-oh. Miles Mayhem (Stacy Keach) and his Evil Network of Mayhem are at it again. Who will stop him? How about Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (umm...MASK)! Led by the fearless Matt Tracker (Thomas "Tom" Jane) and his sidekick Bruce Sato (Ken Leung), who drive Rhino, a mack truck that turns into mobile defense unit as well as a car/jet combo, the rest of the team includes Condor (Motorcycle/Chopper) pilot Brad Turner (Johnny Galecki); Gator (Jeep/Boat) driver Dusty Hayes (Thomas Haden Church); and Hondo Maclean (Idris Elba), behind the wheel of Hurricane, a '57 Chevy/Tank. But as Mayhem closes in on Boulder Hill, MASK's gas station/armored base, will Tracker and company have enough to win the day? And just whose side is dune buggy/plane Firefly owner Julio Lopez (Lou Diamond Phillips) on, anyway?

BATTLE BEASTS: THE BEGINNING

These highly-evolved fighting wildlife stand upright and (depending upon the "element" on their chest) square off against each other. Will Orangutan (Timothy Hutton) and his "water" stand a chance against Shark (William H. Macy) and his "wood?" Where will Giselle (Amy Yasbeck) and her "fire" factor into all this? And will anyone figure out that a toy company made us pay serious money to basically play rock, paper, scissors?

M.U.S.C.L.E.: THE MOTION PICTURE

It's true--there are Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere. The greatest of them--a wrestling champion known only as Super Muscle Man (Powers Boothe)--has his only son, tiny announcer guy (one of those Zach and Cody kids...I don't care which one) kidnapped by the Evil Buffaloman (NFL star Jason Taylor) and must compete in a Battle Royale to save his son. In his way are Buffalo's tough "Cosmic Crunchers" wrestling team, played by Charles Fleischer, Danny Trejo and Jason Statham. Can Super Muscle Man win the day...and his son's love?

SECTAURS: WARRIORS OF SYMBION (IN IMAX 3D INSECT-A-RAMA)

Somewhere in space...somewhere in time...on the planet Symbion, a controversial genetic experiment is taking place, led by charismatic scientist (Jimmy Fallon). When something goes terribly wrong, insects and arachnids start to grow to enormous sizes, and two new kingdoms are created, who immediately start warring with each other. On one side is Prince Dargon (Matthew Lillard), who rules the peaceful Shining Realm of Prosperon. On the other is Empress Devora (Nicole Richie), who rules the aggresive Dark Domain of Synax. As Devora quests for the Hyves, containing the "ultimate power," will Dargon and his forces be able to stop her? Also starring Louis Gossett Jr., Timothy Olyphant and Matt LeBlanc.


MADBALLS: MADE AS HELL AND NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE

Mutated spongy projectiles (voiced by Fran Drescher, Frank Welker, Marc Price and John Leguizamo)  threaten the earth. Can one lone little boy (the other Zach and Cody kid, whichever one isn't in that M.U.S.C.L.E. movie) and his enchanted baseball bat (with the voice talents of Will Arnett) send them back into outer space where they belong? The film will also feature the second big screen appearance of Mikhail Gorbachev, who appeared in Wim Wenders' Faraway, So Close

C'mon Hollywood--get crackin!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bad fake bands #1: The Hoagiez

Every January, I head up north to run SF Sketchfest along with longtime friend and collaborator Janet Varney. It's a long, boring climb up the 5 to San Francisco, so we often come up with weird games to play to pass the time (when we're not singing along to the likes of Sun Kil Moon, Ryan Adams, King Creosote and countless more). One such game was trying to come up with the worst ficticious band name we could. Once agreed, we then went through and made up their discography, naming each album and trading off track names. In the spirit of that game, I offer up occasional fake band bios--the first being the actual band we agreed upon as the worst the first time we played the game. The details long since forgotten (save for the name and a few choice track names), I'm flushing it out myself here. So, without further adieu...

THE HOAGIEZ
Personnel:
Chazz Winchell: Vox, Lead guitar
Johan Elgenberri: Rhythm Guitar, Backing vocals
Rudy Knudsen: Bass, Backing vocals (1998-1995)
Steve "Bubo" Knudsen: Drums, other percussion (1988-1994)
Polk Ramirez: Keyboards, Moog (1988-89)
Peter Fratelli: Bass (1995-1999)
Glynn Palmer: Drums (1995-1999)

The Hoagiez formed in 1988, when the members met at an Al-Anon meeting in Winnemucca, Nevada. They soon discovered they all had two things in common--the love of music, and of overstuffed submarine sandwiches. They began rehearsing on weekends at Winchell's house, now vacant due to a nasty divorce from first wife Gretchen. Winchell and Elgenberri (a recent Swedish transplant, sent to the states as a sales rep for Katjes candies) worked particularly well together, and wrote the majority of the Hoagiez material. Brothers Rudy and Steve (who earned the nickname "Bubo" after a childhood obsession with the Clash of the Titans robotic owl of the same name) made a strong rhythm and percussion section, with Bubo known for his bird-like precision. Ramirez, a whiz on the keys but an asshole off of them, brought a lot of tension to the group, and was fired after the Hoagiez first gig at the Winnemucca Convention Center (playing for a Dental convention, Ramirez flipped off the DDSs, drunkenly shouting "Anesthetize this, mutha fuckas!") The foursome, encouraged by the overall positive/apathetic response to their music, headed into the studio to record their first record, simply titled The Hoagiez. Lead single "Prance Like That" caught the ear of local DJ Toots O'Herlihy, who began rotating it on his highly rated morning drivetime show, "Toots and the Bandit." The demo found its way into the hands of Ghostpicnic Records founder Dan Rudolph, who quickly signed the band to a four record contract and put the band on a sixteen week U.S. tour, opening for fellow Ghostpicnic artists The Snowy River Men. With their fan base growing, The Hoagiez felt the pressure to record their sophomore effort, entitled Extra Toppings. A bit of a concept record, there wasn't a clear single--"Pickles" got the most play, but it really failed to make much of an impact. Sales were middling, but their live shows continued to draw large crowds, still rabid to hear "Prance Like That." 

In the winter of 1994, tragedy struck the band when Bubo was killed in a freak remote control car accident. Already two weeks into recording their third album for Ghostpicnic, the session took a massive creative turn, with the songwriting sparse and introspective. A tribute to their late drummer, Bubo's Petals entered the marketplace with a resounding thud in the spring of 95, and The Hoagiez soon found themselves dropped from their longtime label. Gigs started to come few and far between, and Rudy Knudsen decided to call it quits and took a job as a carnival barker. Winchell and Elgenberri were determined to keep the band together, so they hired new bassist Peter Fratelli and drummer Glynn Palmer, who had both spent some time playing together in Winnemucca bluegrass band The Mighty Mighty Fine Ramblers. This injected some much needed new life into the band, and over the next three months they put together The Hoagiez final record, Dr. Temecula and the Billion-Mile Candy-Cane Staircase. A psychedelic departure and cautionary-tale narrative record, it clocked in at nearly 75 minutes with only five tracks. Self-released by the band, it sold fairly well considering its lack of label backing. The Hoagiez continued to tour for a few more years, but as the crowds dwindled, the band decided to call it quits officially in August of 1999. They played their final gig at a downtown Winnemucca bar and restaurant called "The Days of Winnemucca and Roses," to a sold-out crowd of longtime fans. 

Discography:
*The Hoagiez (1989)
Tracks:
1. Hey Hey (Ima Hoagie)
2. Hospital Schmospital
3. Kitten Bookmark
4. Prance Like That
5. (There's Not Enough) Limes in the World
6. Tigershark
7. Hobo Club
8. I don't have time for no Farmer's Market
9. Theme For a Hoagie

*Extra Toppings (1992)
Tracks:
1. Pile 'em on
2. Pickles
3. Onions
4. Lo-Fat Mayo
5. Cilantro (Oh no no)
6. Greenest of the Peppers
7. Black Olives
8. Toast it Up (I Will Wait)

*Bubo's Petals (1995)
Tracks:
1. I Miss His Snare
2. Silent Rimshots
3. How Much Time Do We Really Have? (I Mean, Really?)
4. Pool Party
5. Prance Like That (Somberly)
6. Life is a Potluck
7. I Don't Get Pottery
8. The Nap Eternal
9. Eagles Fly, Penguins Won't
10. Roll Credits (The Credits of Our Lives)

*Dr. Temecula and the Billion-Mile Candy-Cane Staircase (1997)
Tracks:
1. Temecula's Fantastic Salmon Machine
2. Hoofalloo's Hullaballooed Horsey Sauce
3. The Elves Won't Mind if Milo Takes his Share of Ranger Rick Magazines, as Long as He Puts Them Back After Reading Them, Arranged Chronologically And Stored Properly In Mylar Sheets With Cardboard Backings (Remix)
4. Rumble
5. Sunshine (The Staircase is Destroyed)

**Author's note: Originally, we had decided on Hoagies with an "s" and not a "z," but I recently discovered that there is an actual band called The Hoagies, who seem much funnier than anything I can come up with (and have a drummer with an eyepatch. I mean...c'mon!).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Group Health commercial campaign!

SEE! me in a commercial campaign for Group Health, a medical group up in the Pacific Northwest.

HEAR! me utter lines like "Mature audiences only," "A real lone wolf," and "This isn't Sci-Fi!"

WAIT! for two more spots, not yet released but coming soon, I hope.

PLEASE! forgive this self-serving post. More ha-ha oriented posts coming soon, I promise!



Friday, June 19, 2009

Cinematic gems #11: Seraphim Falls


I'm a sucker for a good western, especially a character-driven one. Such is the case with 2006's Seraphim Falls, an enthralling, brutal story of revenge and personal limits that failed to find much of an audience, even on DVD. Shortly after the Civil War, Confederate Colonel Morsman Carver (Liam Neeson, in an intense, brooding and riveting performance) hires a team of mountain men (including Michael Wincott and Ed Lauter) to help him hunt down Gideon (Pierce Brosnan, in some of his finest work), an Ex-Union Captain responsible for the death of his innocent family. Gideon is a man wracked with guilt, trying to put the terrible wrongs of the war behind him and start anew. Carver will stop at nothing to get his revenge, and as Gideon dispatches his men and stays one step ahead of him, Carver's resolve gets even stronger. Set against a marvelous backdrop of the mountains, plains and unsettled terrain of the old west, this is a fantastic blend of classical western storytelling with a bit of a post-modern slant.

What makes this film particularly arresting is the moral ambiguity these two soldiers share--we're unsure really who is the bad guy here, or if there even is a bad guy. There's a bit of a nod to classic westerns like The Searchers and The Outlaw Josey Wales where revenge poisons the protagonist and threatens to make them no better than those who wronged them. Director David Von Ancken shows real promise here in his first feature, and although the pacing can drag a little at times, the tension and suspense always stays at a high level. The film would be nothing without its two stars--Neeson and Brosnan create a bit of a dual chemistry despite little screen time together (sort of like DeNiro and Pacino in Heat). Brosnan is particular shines here--never have we seen such a grizzled, flawed, complex characterization by the actor normally know for his flashy Bond-esque performances (also check him out in The Matador, another career high for him).

We are lucky if we get one or two Westerns a year now, a sad state for a genre that once dominated film and television. But with strong Westerns like The Proposition, 3:10 to Yuma, Appaloosa and this one creeping into the multiplexes, the genre still has some good life left in it.

**Darnit, more than 3 days since my last post. Spot the Baio below!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finally! A post about the history of turtles in television and cinema!

I admit it--I'm a sucker for turtles. I had one as a pet whilst in college at San Francisco State. He was a semi-aquatic box turtle named "The Amazing Turtle." My wife (then girlfriend) Jenny even wrote a simple song about him, with lyrics like:

"The Amazing Turtle
He is so amazing
Swims and eats a lot
And he also sits there gazing
The Amazing Turtle
Likes to decapitate fish
Don't know if he likes it 
but he finds it quite a dish
The Amazing Turtle!"

Let's face it. Turtles have had very little impact on television and film throughout the years. But for those brave, slow shelled souls who have made it to the big screen and the boob tube, I offer this fond look back at them. I guess we should start with the biggest turtle franchise...

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Memorable quotes: "Cowabunga!" "Wise man say forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza," "A Jose Canseco bat? Tell me you didn't pay money for this," "Chevy Nova?"

Man, was I ever into TMNT. The comics, the roll-playing game (yes...the roll-playing game. Let's just say I had an ass-kicking buffalo named "Chips."), the cartoon, the movies. I was so obsessed with winning a large stuffed Donatello at Circus Circus I threw a shit fit when my parents cut off my game money (had to settle for a Turtles sports bottle instead...*sigh*). The first live-action film really nailed it (at least to a 12 year old boy). It was fun, fast-paced and had guys in suits instead of CGI, which is just downright charming. Plus, Elias Koteas made a kick-ass Casey Jones. It also taught kids that you can accomplish anything with teamwork...oh, and radioactive ooze. Gotta have that. The second film was...ok, at best. The third...well, anything with "Tarzan Boy" for a theme song is not good. It just isn't. Still haven't seen the computer-animated film, so I guess I should add it to the ol' Netflix queue. 

TOBY THE TURTLE (FROM DISNEY'S ROBIN HOOD)
Memorable quotes: "Yay dad!" "I'm scared of Prince John. He's cranky." "If I tattletale, I'll die til I'm dead."

Poor Toby. Slow of foot AND visually impaired? Still, Toby stole every scene he was in, particularly his flag-waving support for his father in the archery games. I do find it kind of odd that he hangs out exclusively with a bunch of rabbits. 

TARDY THE TURTLE (FROM GREG THE BUNNY)
Memorable quotes: "Chocolate ice cream goes in the freezer," "I'm not supposed to eat the Legos," "Crayons taste like purple," "I love ashtrays!"

FOX's short-lived puppet parody Greg the Bunny featured Seth Green, Eugene Levy, Sarah Silverman and stand-out puppet performer Tardy the Turtle, whose random lines and simplistic phrasing were a pre-cursor to Steve Carell in Anchorman. I felt bad laughing at him...I just kept telling myself I'm laughing with him. Oh...and after the show wrapped, Tardy was STOLEN from the production. To this day, the creators haven't recovered him. 

CRUSH (FROM DISNEY'S FINDING NEMO)
Memorable quotes: "Saw the whole thing, dude. First you were all like "whoa", and we were like "whoa", and you were like "whoa...,"  "Dolphins, yeah! They think they're so cute. "Oh, look at me, I'm a flippy little dolphin, let me flip for you. Ain't I something?"

Ah, Crush. Destroying the turtle stereotypes by being a fast-swimming surfer-dude. More power to you, forward-thinking terrapin! Crush's scenes in Finding Nemo came in a dangerous lull section of the film, helping to pick up the pace and plunge the film into its third act. And if you are ever at Disney's California Adventure or its counter part in Florida, I highly recommend checking out Crush's Turtle Talk, in which an animated Crush interacts with audience members. 

VERNE (FROM OVER THE HEDGE)
Memorable quotes: "Whenever something doesn't feel right, my tail tingles. And let me tell you something, everything you've said so far is driving my tail crazy," "I thought we'd be dead by step two, so this is going great."

I didn't really read the comic strip, but the animated film was pretty decent. Gary Shandling voiced Verne, the sensible leader of the odd gang of woodland creatures, whose tail can sense danger. He really anchored the film while Steve Carell's Hammy the Squirrel and William Shatner's possum chewed scenery.

FRANKLIN THE TURTLE
Memorable quotes: Um... "Hey, I'm gonna teach you stuff," er..."Get your learn on!"...or something

Based on the popular children's books by Paulette Bourgeois, Franklin the turtle and his friends (A bear, a goose, an owl, etc.) go on educational adventures, such as: Franklin goes to school, Franklin Plants a Tree, Franklin In The Dark, Franklin And the Tooth Fairy, and Franklin's Birthday Party. I can only hope they kick it up a notch in episodes such as Franklin Goes to the Museum of Tolerance, Franklin and the Cast of Frasier, Franklin Sticks it to The Man, Franklin Hopes They Renew Jericho, and Franklin Meets Franklinstein. Is it apparent that I know little to nothing about Franklin? He's a turtle...that's all I need to know.

THE MOCK TURTLE (FROM ALICE IN WONDERLAND)
Memorable quotes: "We called him "tortoise" because he "tort-us."... He tort us reading and writing..."

Lewis Carroll's fictional turtle is a beloved creation from Alice in Wonderland, named after a Victorian meal called Mock Turtle Soup. As Alice has been brought to the screen numerous times, the list of actors who have portrayed him are immense: Gene Wilder, Cary Grant, Roy Skelton, Donald O'Connor, John Gielgud and Ringo Starr (pictured above), among others. Not too shabby...


GAMERA
Memorable quotes: "AAAAAAAAARRRRAAAAAAAAA"

Created in 1965, this Japanese giant fire-breathing flying turtle was made to rival the success of Godzilla. Mutated during an atomic blast, Gamera can retreat into his shell and enter a coma-like state to heal if injured. But, most importantly, he is a GIANT FIRE-BREATHING FLYING TURTLE. Which rules. 

I'm sure I've missed a few famous half-shelled heroes, so feel free to leave me comments to correct the oversight. TURTLES!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Things with unfortunate names #1: Ball Buster


The name of the game is Ball Buster
...and for adults, it's exciting! Never has a Scott Joplin tune been used so inappropriately as in this commercial for a short lived and unfortunately named "family" game from the '70s. You may have heard the audio of this spot as a transitional track on UNKLE's debut album, Psyence Fiction. Here's the original commercial for you all to enjoy. And remember...You're a BALL BUSTER!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Golly...should I see "Terminator Salvation?" Only one place to turn...


...and that's to Yahoo users online movie reviews! When on the fence, it's always great to read what the layman thinks of the latest theatrical fare. So...should I check out John Connor's grim futuristic battle? Or skip the McG fest? What says you, Yahoo users?

Bassdynamix writes:
"I dont want to tell to much of the story without throwing in spoilers cause then whats the point of seeing the movie. Ill say this, good Story, Super Action, Lots of Machines and Terminators. Oh man cant wait for the next part. Also arnold is in the movie and yet not in it. Hows that you may ask well lets just say Roland Kickinger lends a hand. They could use this same technology to finish the movie The Game of Death. Well guys and girls if you want popcorn movie excitement with action galore go see this flick."

Hmmm....well, Bassdynamix makes some good points. Plus, he properly capitalized "Lots of Machines." Let's see...

Furreelx77, in a review titled "Thank you, thank you, thank you" writes:
"I don't care what the critics say or what picky unappreciative people say... This film was great! It showed homage and made a connection with T1 and T2 while staying self contained in its own story telling. There isn't a overly deep extravagant story line to bore us, and it had enough suspense and CG to keep the viewers clued to the screen. I have been a fan since 1984 through the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this film! I was entertained and intrigued from start to finish!"

Look, if it shows homage and keeps me clued to the screen, then I'm on board. Plus, they've been a fan for 25 years, and that's dedication. Oh! Looking at...

Joshking518's passionate review "I was blown out of my seat!"
"WOW!!! That is the only thing i could speak out of my quivering lips, after this amazing film was over. This movie was definitely one of the best I have seen in a while. This movie didn't have a very well drawn out plot but it didn't NEED one. The movie already has an amazing backstory. The entire movie was non stop action. It never let up until the credits rolled. It also leaves us hanging for a sequel. If you're looking for well drawn out, plot-driven film, look somewhere else. But if you're looking for a blown-out-of-your-pants experience then you have most definitely come to the perfect place!!!"

Shoot...well, I usually look for well drawn out, plot-driven films. Then again, I do enjoy a good blown-out-of-your pants experience. Isn't it possible to have both? You, know kind of like when we all saw
Howard the Duck for the first time?

Geavone writes, in his review "Best robot movie ever!"
"Anyone that actually seen this movie and says its anything less then great is either not into this kind of film or they are simply hating!"

Well, obviously Geavone hasn't seen Robot Jox...

Jbscott_2003
raves "Nice!"
"Action- yes story- yes surprise-yes, pretty girl- yes. how can you not like it? i don't know what the critics were watching. It was worth going to see."

Whoah whoah whoah---action, surprise, AND pretty girl? That's almost as good as comedy, shock and accident-prone dwarf! I just may have to see this Terminator thing after all!

Fels.marv
thinks "A GOOD SUMMER MOVIE"
"I REALLY LIKED THIS MOVIE,I THOUGHT IT WAS A LITTLE SHORT BUT FOR WHAT IT WAS IT WAS GOOD.BUT TO ME IT SEEMED LIKE SAM WORTHINGTON WAS THE STAR OF THE FILM AND NOT CHRISTIAN BALE.I REALLY DIDN'T CARE FOR JOHN CONNOR THIS TIME AROUND ,I REALLY LIKED SAM WORTHINGTON'S CHARACTER.I LOVED THE ACTION BUT I THOUGHT THE MOVIE WAS A LITTLE CHEESIE AT TIMES BUT WHATEVER,GO CHECK IT OUT."

OK. I GOTCHA. I'LL GO CHECK IT OUT. STOP YELLING AT ME, FELS.MARV! Let's check out one more...

Bunnyb5968 writes "*****ing bananas!"
"This movie was awesome! I don't want to give anything way so ill end this by saying. If you didn't like this movie that means you didn't know ***** about the series to begin with so you should go watch some ***** movie like milk!"

I'm not sure if I know five stars about the series to begin with. Well, let's see. Linda Hamilton. That's one. Oh, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong. Two and three. Christian Bale. Four. Crap...if I can't think of a fifth, then I'm going to have to go and watch some five star movie like
Milk. Or On The Waterfront. Or Citizen Kane. Shoot. C'mon....Oh! Robert Patrick! *phew*

Well, I've learned a lot from these well-written, level-headed reviews. I'll take a day or two to really think it through before heading to the AMC. Thanks, Yahoo movies!





Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh boy oh boy! Fun with movie titles!


Every once in a while, it's good clean fun to sit down and mash some movie titles together. You just need one word in common between the two films to act as a link...so put some together, and give a brief synopsis of what the two films would be if they mated. Make some of your own, and post them in the comments. Have fun!

It's a Wonderful Lifeboat
The floating town of Bedford Falls finds themselves shipwrecked and hanging on for dear life in a rickety lifeboat after Nazi-ish Mr. Potter torpedoes them with unpayable loans. When Potter finds himself aboard the little schooner, it's up to George, Mary and Crazy Uncle Billy to keep the town from throwing the old man to the sharks. As the days pass and water becomes scarce, the townsfolks due their best to survive, eating Zuzu's petals for sustenance. 

No County for Old Men in Black
Retired small town sheriff and FBI agent Tommy Lee Jones finds himself out of the game and unable to remember his previous employment history due to glancing at some red lighted memory wiping thingy. He spends his days driving around in the desert on the trail of a psychotic talking pug with a Prince Valiant haircut. His old FBI partner, whom he doesn't remember, shows up occasionally and says "I make this look gooooood."

Stand By Meatballs
Four friends in the 1950s set out for the summer of a lifetime when they enroll in Camp DeadBody. Pranks, make-out sessions and uncomfortable talks about wasted potential are in store as the boys outrace a train, run from a junkyard dog and beat a free-spirited albino counselor named Ace out of a sombrero full of peanuts. Oh, and many years later, the fat kid somehow becomes super good-looking and marries that Rebecca chick who played Mystique in the X-Men movie. 

Bring it On the Waterfront
A spunky cheerleader named Torrance, who really "coulda been somebody," works hard on the docks after her brother Charley makes her sell-out her cheerleading routine to an inner-city cheer squad. Her chicken must be extra funky and her goose extra loose as she tries to break-free of her dead-end life...only to find herself finishing in second place, beaten and bloodied. 

Freejack The Bear
After losing his wife in a tragic car accident, professional clown and father of two young boys John Leary finds himself the target of time-traveling bounty hunters, who bring him to futuristic 2009 New York City and intend to transplant his mind into that of a terminally-ill billionaire. It's up to his conscience known as Jack the Bear to help him fight off Mick Jagger's incoming lips and get back to his boys in the past.

Dick Tracy Fragments
Comic book crime fighting detective Dick Tracy loses his 9 year old brother Sonny and does his best to cope with the world around him, told through non-linear storytelling, multiple split-screen camera angles, and bright pastel colors. Periodically, Dick dons a shower curtain and his yellow fedora and gives insite into his warped, confused policemind. 

The Karate Kidco
A teenager named Daniel moves to Reseda, CA and befriends a wise old karate master, who teaches the young man a strong work ethic after repeatedly waxing on and waxing off. He quickly catches the entrepreneurial bug and starts a manure company staffed entirely by children. Not everyone loves his business--rival shitco Cobra Kai (whose secret ingredient is known only as "Sweep the Leg Johnny") are quick to take him on and try to ruin him. Does Daniel have what it takes when the shit hits the fan?

Road House of Sand and Fog
Dalton, a tough bouncer for whom pain don't hurt, has his home mistakenly taken from him and auctioned off and sold. Thus begins a series of conflicts with the new owners, an ultra-rich and ultra-tanned bully and a blind steel-guitar playing Iranian immigrant. 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit-Proof Fence
A famous cartoon rabbit is wrongly accused of murder by the Australian government and must go on the run to clear his name. Traveling with three young Aboriginal girls, the rabbit makes a hard trek across the barren outback on foot, fending off starvation, wildlife and barrels of "Dip." Can he puh-puh-puhleeze the po-lice and survive to entertain another day?

In & Outsiders
A high-school drama teacher named Pony Boy is "outed" on national television when a former greaser friend named Dallas says so at the Rumble Awards. It causes quite a stir with all of the socs, who chase him and good friend Johnny around town. Pony Boy comes to terms with his own sexuality, realizing that if he just embraces it, he will stay gold. 

Make your own and leave 'em as comments!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cinematic gems #10: Seconds


John Frankenheimer was one of our best directors, having helmed classics like The Manchurian Candidate, The Train, Seven Days in May, Ronin, The Young Savages, and The Birdman of Alcatraz. One of his greatest overlooked triumphs is 1966's Seconds, a fascinating, eerie, depressing mindfuck (and trust me, that term is oh-so-apt here). 

The film follows middle-aged Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph), struggling with growing older and the aimlessness of his life, including a loveless marriage. He is offered a new life by "The Company"--who will "kill" him off, change his face, body and identity. Hamilton accepts, and comes back as young and handsome Tony Wilson (Rock Hudson, in his best and most complex performance ever). But as he soon learns, youth comes with a price. A terrible, terrible price.

The look of the film is extraordinary--cinematographer James Wong Howe employs a fish-eye lens, and shoots from extreme angles, creating an uneasy feeling of paranoia and claustrophobia. Jerry Goldsmith's score is jarring and creepy and perfectly accentuates the scene work. Based on the novel by David Ely, this is a Faustian cautionary tale with a killer twist ending that truly pays off. It was a box-office failure upon release, too bleak and hard to take for the masses. It's since found life on video and a much-deserved cult following. Oh--the film is also believed to be the catalyst for the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson's mental breakdown. What more do you need?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Come see me make 'em up with POKE!

Shameless self-plug! On my own blog of all places!

Come see 
POKE
long form improvisation with

SCOTT ADSIT (Pete Hornberger from 30 Rock!)
ITHAMAR ENRIQUEZ (Second City Mainstage)
JESSICA MAKINSON (Com Cent.'s Halfway Home)
ROB REINIS (Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog)
COLE STRATTON (ME! MTV's Yo Momma)
JANET VARNEY (TBS' Dinner and a Movie) 

Thursdays
June 11th and 25th
8pm
@ I.O. West
6366 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA
$10 (FREE to IO students)




Monday, June 1, 2009

That's Celebutainment! Part II!

More celebrity gossip!*

MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY'S SHIRTS TO STRIKE ON WEDNESDAY
Ultra-tanned romcom star Matthew McConaughey was surprised to find out that his entire collection of tops had unionized and were planning to strike this coming Wednesday. According to Shirt spokesman Three-button Burgundy Polo, the upperwear were "tired of being under utilized or completely ignored altogether." After seeing a lilac American Apparel summer shirt ripped in half and discarded after a furious bout of McConaughey's bongo playing, the tees decided that action had to be taken. "There are many, many celebs that should NEVER be seen without a top on, such as Dustin Diamond," said an old Threadless shirt with a helvetica slogan reading Boner Patrol. "If Matt isn't going to don us, someone else will."

ROBERT PATTINSON'S HAIR TO RECEIVE TOP BILLING IN NEWEST TWILIGHT FILM
Hunky semi-actor Robert Pattinson, who rose to fame after being killed by Voldemort and becoming a brooding, sparkly vamp in the film adaptation of Twilight, negotiated top-billing for his towering coif in the upcoming Twilight New Moon. "My hair really anchored my performance in that film, and I feel it would be unfair to deny it the celebrity it richly deserves," says Pattinson, who commented for this article from a vacuum where no teenage girls can be heard screaming. "Looking down and brooding was all me, but everything else, well, that was the hair." Kristin Stewart, who plays his pale depressed love interest Bella, is still attempting to secure billing for her "shitty attitude."

STUDY REVEALS DAVE COULIER IMPETUS FOR EVERY SONG EVER WRITTEN
Results of a twenty year study conducted by the Institute of Meaning in Song, or IOMIS, were released online today, confirming what many always suspected--that Full House star and occasional Jackalope Dave Coulier was the inspiration for every piece of music ever created. "We had confirmed the Alanis Morrisette thing pre-study, of course," said IOMIS lead researcher Harvey Freunlichen, "But as we delved deeper into our studies, Coulier's influence on all other works couldn't be denied." As soon as the results became public, hundreds of reknowned songwriters publicly acknowledged Coulier as songwriting inspirado. "I might not have known it at the time, but [hit ballad] 'Alison' was totally about Uncle Joey, I can see that now," said bespectacled troubadour Elvis Costello. Added Lenny Kravitz, "Duh."

GARFIELD TO RECONSIDER POSITION ON "MONDAYS"
Lazy cartoon cat Garfield, famous for his love of lasagna and sleeping and hatred of Odie and Nermal, was overheard casually remarking to sadsack owner Jon that "Mondays really aren't all that bad. I mean, it's just a day. Sorry I smashed the alarm clock again." Notes Jon: "I don't buy that for a second. Next week I'll try to rouse him, and he'll just pour coffee on me again or kick Odie off the table. Man...I just realized what an asshole my cat is."

DANE COOK ALMOST FINDS JOKE
Serendity almost struck "comedian" Dane Cook at a gig last Thursday at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, CA. Midway through his set, whilst talking about Hypercolor shirts and other things that he remembers from ten to twenty years ago, Cook found himself approaching an actual punchline. "I saw it there, just floating in the ether," says Cook. "But the closer I got to it, zeroing in on that elusive genuine funny moment, it suddenly disappeared." Cook instead went to his go-to "crouch low to the ground, then kick the air and pace frantically," which delighted many frat boys in backwards baseball caps who were waiting for the roofies in their dates' drinks to kick-in. 

DANCING WITH THE STARS TO TRY ALL INDIE-STAR EDITION ON IFC
ABC staple and ratings juggernaut Dancing With The Stars will host a short summer edition of the show on cable's Independent Film Channel, featuring a lineup of some of the greatest indie film actors displaying their low-budget charms on the dance floor. Host Tom Bergeron just gushed about the possibilities: "Man, you haven't lived 'til you've seen Catherine Keener do a samba. Or Kevin Corrigan foxtrot. Just wait until Sam Rockwell and Hope Davis pair up for a sizzling tango!" The season will also feature Liev Schreiber, Michael Rappaport, Lily Taylor, and that weird kid who played Gummo.


JEFF FOXWORTHY CAUGHT READING NEITZSCHE
Fans of Blue Collar comedian Jeff Foxworthy were shocked to see video leaked on YouTube showing the everyman comic sitting on a park bench reading Friedrich Neitzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra. "It done makes me sad," said longtime fan Clem Puddlebook, "Dat der guy was a' one of us. 'N now, he buh-leeves in eternal recurrence n' meaningless berry-ation. That there guy would have us buh-leeve in a' chaotic, pointless shufflin' of mattah n' law. 'Nuff said." Foxworthy bombed later that evening at the Nashville Chuckle Hut with his new "You might be an existentialist if..." jokes.

*Works of pure fiction from my hardly-functioning mind, so no slander intended. So don't be mad, celebs!*