Posts Tagged ‘movies

06
Nov
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 277: The 2012 Holiday Movie Preview

 

Delayed a few days by technical difficulties, the Showcase is back! This week, Blake and Erin talk about the big Disney/Lucasfilm news before diving into the big movie releases of November and December. James Bond returns! Peter Jackson takes us back to Middle-Earth! Lincoln rises from the grave or something! And lest we forget: Cirque de Soleil! All this and more in the annual Holiday Movie Preview special! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 277: The 2012 Holiday Movie Preview

20
Oct
12

Lunatics and Laughter Day 9: Arachnophobia (1990)

Director: Frank Marshall

Writers: Don Jakoby, Al Williams & Wesley Strick

Cast: Jeff Daniels, Harley Jane Kozak, John Goodman, Julian Sands, Stuart Pankin, Brian McNamara, Mark L. Taylor, Henry Jones, Peter Jason, James Handy, Roy Brocksmith, Kathy Kinney

Plot: Dr. James Atherton (Julian Sands) takes photographer Jerry Manley (Mark L. Taylor) with him on a hunt through the Amazon rainforest, hoping to discover new species of insects and arachnids. Manley has been ill, and fights a fever as they march through Venezuela. The search bears fruit – the team discovers a large, highly aggressive spider Atherton has never seen before. When the still-sick Manley goes to bed, a male “General” spider that stowed away in his pack bites him, killing him in seconds. When his body is found, his death is attributed to the fever and he is sent back to the United States, with the spider that bit him hiding inside.

Manley’s body is returned to his family in Canaima, where town mortician Irv Kendall (Roy Brocksmith) opens the box and finds him shriveled up, drained of fluid, and in a state that’s not at all conducive to an open casket. The spider sneaks outside, gets snared by a bird and is carried to the barn of a house where Dr. Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels) and his family are moving in, Ross replacing the retiring town doctor Sam Metcalf (Henry Jones). Ross even starts a wine cellar in the basement. When his son discovers a house spider, the arachnophobic Ross has his wife Molly (Harley Jane Kozak) take it to the barn, unaware of the enormous Venezuelan spider hiding in the hay. That night the spiders meet, and mate.

Ross is shocked the next day when Dr. Metcalf tells him he’s decided not to retire after all, crushing Ross, who was supposed to inherit his patients and establish a practice. As he leaves Metcalf’s office he encounters Sheriff Lloyd Parsons (Stuart Pankin) writing him a ticket. He’s rescued by Margaret Hollins (Mary Carver), a retired schoolteacher who dislikes Metcalf and is glad to have the option of another doctor. She’s pleased to be Ross’s first patient. Unfortunately, she’s also his only patient.

Mary turns out to be perfectly healthy, and she tries to cheer him by offering to throw a “Welcome to Canaima” party. While he’s at the office, Molly goes to photograph the barn and discovers a gargantuan spider web in the rafters. She misses the huge egg sac that soon looses a new generation of spiders. Over the next few days they spread out, one of them sneaking into Margaret’s house and killing her.

Ross gets more bad news the next day when he finds the wood in his cellar is weak and rotten. It gets worse when he goes to Margaret’s and finds her body. Although most of the town believes Metcalf’s diagnosis of a heart attack, Ross insists on an autopsy, but the Sheriff blocks him. The spiders strike again soon afterwards, killing a high school football player. Metcalf is next, bitten on the toe and dying as his wife sees the spider.

Convinced the deaths are spider-related, Ross calls the closest expert he can find, Atherton, who is skeptical until he realizes Ross is calling from the late Jerry Manley’s hometown. Atherton sends his assistant, Chris Collins (Brian McNamara) to help with the investigation, and joins himself when bites are found on all three victims. Chris manages to capture a live specimen in Margaret’s house for study. Meanwhile town exterminator Delbert McClintock (John Goodman) discovers the spiders are immune to his toxins – if not a heavy boot.

Atherton examines the captured spider and determines it’s the hybrid of the Venezuelan spider and a house spider. It has a short lifespan, but the General male no doubt has a queen hiding somewhere that will have the ability to create a new generation capable of reproduction. If they can’t destroy it before her nest hatches, Canaima will fall, then the next town, then the next. Phil, Chris and Delbert map out the attacks and realize the nest is on Ross’s property. Atherton, meanwhile, finds Molly’s photograph of the web and comes to the same conclusion. He arrives first, and is bitten and dead by the time the others arrive. Delbert finds Atherton’s body and pulls out his own “special” blend of toxins to fight the creatures.

Ross and Chris go to the house to try to get his family out. The living room is suddenly filled with thousands of deadly spiders. Everyone but Ross escapes, and he falls through the rotten floor into the cellar, where he finds the egg sac. He starts to douse the sac with wine so he can burn it, but is attacked by the original General male. He manages to burn it just as the sac starts to hatch, but it isn’t dead. Grabbing his nail gun, he fires the torched male into the egg sac, killing it and destroying the rest of them in one strike. In the end, the Jennings return to San Francisco, glad to be back in a world where events are totally under their own control… until the earthquake starts.

Thoughts: Although not remembered as well as many of the other films on this list, Arachnophobia holds a special place in my heart – it’s the first horror/comedy I remember actually seeing in theaters. (Yes, even my beloved Ghostbusters was a video find for me. I may even have seen the cartoon first before I ever saw the movie, I honestly don’t remember.) And no matter how much technology may improve the home theater experience over the years – higher resolution, more DPI (whatever that is) streaming video that also makes popcorn in a variety of flavors, whatever – there will always be an irreproducible charm in going to a theater, sitting in a darkened room with others, and absorbing a fun movie in a community experience. This was such a movie for me.

Arachnophobia falls into the more “serious,” Type-A category of horror/comedy. In fact, the first act of the film, while we’re in Venezuela, has little comedy at all, giving us a prologue that very easily could have led into a straight (albeit somewhat cheesy and overdone) traditional horror film. The comedy comes in once we get back to Canaima, and even then it’s very dry at first. Ross, depressed at only having one patient, hopes that she’ll turn out to be “ravaged by disease,” then moments later (on screen, at least) coolly denies that very wish when she turns out to be in perfect health. For much of the film, the comedy we get is well below the threshold that flips the switch and makes it a legitimate horror/comedy and not simply a lite PG-13 horror film. When that switch finally is flipped, it’s due almost entirely to the injection of the John Goodman character.

Delbert is the one wacky character in the midst of a group that doesn’t really have time to be funny. Once the real situation becomes clear, Daniels and company have to deal with thousands of very fast murderers about the size of a quarter… that’s about as serious a situation as we’ve yet seen in this horror/comedy project, and they don’t really play it for laughs. Delbert is our comic relief, an exaggerated character that borders on the cartoonish. Goodman is a fantastic actor, a wonderful comedian (with dramatic chops that are frequently overlooked), but Delbert actually takes things almost too far a few times. Part of it may simply be familiarity with John Goodman – he’s well-known enough now that it’s hard to see him play the part without just getting a very strong sense of him putting on the character. But at the same time, he’s really an odd man out in this movie. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that’s his role after all, but there are moments where he goes far enough to jolt you out of the scene.

By contrast, Jeff Daniels works well as the sort of small-town everyman (although the Ross Jennings character is, technically, a San Francisco transplant). He does, however, latch on to several stereotypes. If you’re going to do a movie where the monster is a spider, you almost have to make your hero an arachnophobe, and Frank Marshall actually takes him to the ridiculously young age of two to establish the initial childhood trauma. That scene, where he describes a spider assaulting him in the crib, is one of the funnier moments in the earlier part of the movie, in fact. He still keeps his dryness with him, even after the spiders attack. (In the climax, as he tries to pelt the male with wine bottles, he stops himself from using a particularly good vintage). But nothing he does would be funny enough to classify the movie as a comedy, in and of itself, without Goodman tipping the scales.

Director Frank Marshall is much better known for his straight comedies, but he does a decent job here conveying the horror. There are plenty of small touches that add to the horror – slow pans across spider webs and small shadows that twitch and creep … they’re all wonderful moments that will chill you nicely if you’ve got a fear of spiders already. For all the hairy legs and downright chilling movement that a spider brings with it, though, the really scary thing about this movie isn’t what the monster looks like. Most horror films rely on showing you something grotesque or mutating something mundane into an object of terror. Not so much in Arachnophobia. The hybrid spiders, for all the terror they create, don’t look that different from a traditional spider. The fear comes from the fact that these tiny killers – unlike the likes of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers – could literally be anywhere. How often do you look under your blankets before you get into bed or peek in your shoes before you put them on? Marshall even manages to work in a twist on the old “wiggling doorknob” routine so prevalent in horror movies – in this version, it’s the swarm of spiders actually pushing through and rattling the knob in the process.

There’s a bit towards the end, while Daniels tries to battle the hiding spider in his cellar, where he’s looking around frantically for a monster that is utterly invisible. It brings to mind every time you’ve ever walked into a spiderweb and started flailing madly, looking like a lunatic to anybody who happens to see you. That’s a really funny moment, when it happens to someone else. But that moment encapsulates the whole movie. In the world Marshall creates, every miniscule nook and cranny of every room could be hiding grim death for anyone unlucky enough to encounter it at the wrong time. If you’re not scared of spiders, that thought could be enough to drive the fear into you.

Don’t forget, Lunatics and Laughter is the second Reel to Reel movie study. The first, Mutants, Monsters and Madmen, is now available as a $2.99 eBook in the Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords.com bookstore. And you can find links to all of my novels, collections, and short stories, in their assorted print, eBook and audio forms, at the Now Available page!

And while the 20 films for the first phase of Lunatics and Laughter have been selected, I’m still taking suggestions for next year’s expanded eBook edition. I’m especially looking for good horror/comedies from before 1980, so if you’ve got any ideas, please share them in the comments section.

12
Oct
12

Lunatics and Laughter Day 1: The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Director: George Marshall

Writers: Walter DeLeon, based on the play The Ghost Breaker by Paul Dickey & Charles W. Goddard

Cast: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Richard Carlson, Paul Lukas, Willie Best, Pedro de Cordoba, Virginia Brissac, Noble Johnson, Anthony Quinn

Plot: On a rainy evening in New York City, Mary Carter (Paulette Goddard) packs to visit her great-great grandfather’s “haunted” island off the coast of Cuba, which she has inherited . Although the Cuban representative Havez (Pedro de Cordoba) tries to dissuade her from visiting, Mary is skeptical of the claims of ghosts on what he calls “Black Island.” Elsewhere in the hotel we meet radio “ghostbreaker” Lawrence Lawrence (Bob Hope), who reveals secrets, uncovers skeletons in the closet, and blows the lid off, as he puts it later, “family ghosts.” Larry is planning to leave for fishing vacation after that evening’s broadcast with his valet, Alex (a somewhat insensitive racial stereotype, by modern standards, played by Willie Best). When Mr. Parada (Paul Lukas) arrives to transfer the castle to Mary, he offers her a princely sum of $50,000 for the land. Before she decides on the deal, she receives a mysterious phone call from a man named Ramon (Anthony Quinn) warning her not to sell. The combination of the call and the offer simply makes her more determined to visit her grandfather’s estate. Left alone, she listens to Larry’s radio broadcast where he dishes on a mob operation.

When Larry returns, there are a series of shootings in the hallways and Larry believes he kills Ramon.  Mary helps him hide as the police search the building, but he winds up in her trunk and is mistakenly sent to her cruise ship. Mary and Alex locate the trunk, but are unable to free Larry before he’s loaded onto the ship. In her room, Mary receives a letter warning her that death awaits her on the island. Alex helps Larry out and shows him a newspaper report about the shooting (remember evening editions? Neither do I) where he points out that Ramon was shot by a different caliber bullet– Larry couldn’t have killed him. Larry realizes someone is trying to intimidate Mary into avoiding the castle. As they discuss the situation on the deck, someone pushes a heavy potted plant over a railing, nearly killing the couple. They flee back to her stateroom, where the strain of the evening starts to show on Mary. When Alex arrives and says they can ride back to New York on a speedboat if they hurry, he refuses to leave, determined to help Mary. Before leaving the ship, Parada warns Larry about the castle, while Mary runs into an old acquaintance, Geoff Montgomery (Richard Carlson) who is skeptical of Parada and tries to warn her from dealing with him. Larry is excited when Parada tells him about a voodoo priestess on the island, one who allegedly has the power to create mindless zombies. (“You mean like Democrats?” Larry quips.)

That evening Geoff begins to romance Mary, who asks him to accompany her to Black Island. He refuses, fearful of the zombies. Mary is shocked when she believes she sees a ghost – Ramon, the murdered man. He introduces himself as Ramon’s twin brother, Francisco Mederos, who angrily demands information about his brother’s death. Larry and Alex, meanwhile, have taken a rowboat out to Black Island, where they encounter “Mother Zombie” (Virginia Brissac) and one of her zombies (Noble Johnson). They enter the house, where they hear noises that indicate someone else is there and find a strange painting that is the perfect image of Mary – her great-great-grandmother Maria. The two split up, and Alex observes a ghostly figure emerging from a trunk. Larry chases but only finds a skeleton. At the shore, Mother Zombie watches as Mary suddenly swims onto the beach carrying a waterproof bag with a dry robe. Inside, Larry and Alex hear Mary calling for them, but believe it’s a trick. She, meanwhile, hears voices telling her to run away before it’s too late – but runs right into the clutches of the Zombie. She flees, observed by the hidden Parada, who himself is captured by an unseen figure. Larry and Alex are attacked by the Zombie, hiding in a suit of armor, but before the creature can deliver a death-blow, they see the image of Maria Sebastian walk down the stairs. As it is distracted, Larry and Alex lock it in a closet and run to Maria – really Mary wearing her great-grandmother’s clothes after her own were ripped fleeing from the zombie. Mary notices the painting of Maria is pointing towards the crypt, and she and Larry investigate. In the crypt, Larry and Mary find Parada stabbed, stuffed in one of the caskets, bleeding to death. As he dies, he directs them to the organ in the crypt. Mary solves the puzzle, using the organ to open a hidden door that leads to an old mine beneath the castle. Francisco and Geoff both appear with guns, and Geoff shoots the gun from Francisco’s hand backing the other three against the wall. Geoff reveals that he was behind the threats and the offer to buy the castle, determined to gain ownership of an enormous vein of silver beneath the island. He’s about to shoot them, but the ceiling above collapses and clobbers him. A puzzled Alex looks down and says, “Boss, did I press the wrong button?”

Thoughts: At the top of his game, Bob Hope was one of the funniest human beings ever placed on the planet. He had a sly, sharp wit that was just this side of being truly subversive, and was just as likely to deliver a merciless zinger as he was to take a shot across his own rather prodigious nose. It’s not surprising, given the immensity of his library, that we start our march through the creepy comedy catalogue with him.

From the beginning, this film demonstrates how far afield certain comedies go. If you strip the movie down to its bare plot, it’s actually pretty dramatic – a reporter Is falsely accused of murder, flees from justice, and winds up in a haunted house. It could very easily be the set-up for a more traditional horror movie. The comedy comes not from anything in the situation or setting, but from the wonderfully funny performances by Hope and Best. Horror/comedies tend fall one way or another – either a dark story with funny characters (let’s call this “Type A” for the sake of discussion) or a pure comedy that plays with the tropes of a horror for its humor(“Type B”). While both sorts of film have strong examples (and we’ll discuss films from both categories before this little experiment is over), I find that the Type A movie is typically much more satisfying. (Virtually any “spoof” movie is in the Type B category, and as so many terrible spoofs have been made since Scary Movie jumpstarted that particular subgenre in 2000, I may be a bit unfairly biased against Type B. But at least I can admit it.)

The story is creepy, and the house is covered with cobwebs and dust, straight out of the pages of Better Haunted Homes and Gardens. The moment when the armored zombie slowly raises its mace over the head of the oblivious Larry is genuinely tense, and you’re afraid for him until Alex saves the day. No matter how tough the situation gets, though, Hope’s one-liners and Best’s witty retorts keep the mood light at all times. The best sequence, when Larry and Alex explore the mansion, is full of stuff like this – a distant sneeze prompts Hope to observe “The ghost has a cold,” for instance, and when the two commit the Scary Movie Cardinal Sin of splitting up, Larry tells Alex that, if he sees a couple of fellows running, let the first one go, because “That’ll be me.” Perhaps the greatest thing is how close to the vest the film plays the notion of the supernatural. These days, anyone trying to make a movie of this nature would feel the need to have Mary plagued by odd noises and startling images in the mirror practically from the beginning. Here, there’s nothing close to a confirmation the ghosts are real until Alex sees one in the trunk, almost exactly one hour into the film’s running time. (Okay, admittedly, we see the Zombie before that, but voodoo zombies aren’t the same thing we think of today, and even in this film can just as easily be explained as someone who is heavily drugged rather than someone under any some sort of legitimate magical curse.)

As a Type A, the film allows for more of a slow burn than many movies do today get to the genuinely frightening elements. It takes almost a half hour of the film’s short 85 minute running time to even get on the ship to Cuba, and the closest thing we’ve gotten to horror at this point are the brief allusions to ghosts in Mary’s castle, which she hasn’t even left for yet. The comedy, oddly, is also light, built primarily out of Hope’s quipping and his physical acting ability – the scene where Alex helps him out of Mary’s trunk, for example, is hysterical.

In fact, a lot of the movie is packed with red herrings and somewhat questionable moments that, in retrospect, are simple plot devices with no other value but to complicate the situation. The entire subplot regarding the mobster angry at Larry and Francisco seeking justice for his brother’s murder, in the end, amount to almost nothing. You could lift those characters out of the film entirely, come up with another explanation for getting Larry and Mary together (Larry was planning on a vacation, for Heaven’s sake, it would have been far more expedient simply to have him meet Mary on the cruise ship and get involved in her case when the potted plant is pushed towards her) and you’d still have essentially the same movie. Despite that, though, the movie doesn’t feel padded, and whips forward at a nice clip to the very entertaining finale.

As a rule, I try to not let cultural differences hurt my enjoyment of a movie too much. The 1940s were simply a different time, and I don’t really feel it’s fair to judge a film from that earlier period with the same standards as a contemporary film. That said, the portrayal of Alex frequently borders on the offensive. Although Willie Best gives a solid comedic performance, it’s based on the sort of minstrel show stereotype that, today, would get a film picketed from the moment it’s released. Alex is a clever character – frequently more logical and sensible than Larry, in fact – but it can be a bit hard to accept his cadence and intonation in the 21st century. Perhaps the worst moment is when a frightened Alex hides in a dust-filled clock, emerging covered with white powder and explaining that, when he gets scared, his “Al-bee-no blood shows through.” To his credit, though, Best also gets one of the film’s flat-out funniest moments, when Alex, at the end of his rope, knocks on the door to the closet where he trapped the zombie just to make sure it’s still there, then starts patiently pacing back and forth in front of one of the few things he can control.

To use the film’s age to its benefit, there is a degree of quaintness that makes it even more charming. The ease with which Larry is placed on the boat to Cuba is funny (the idea that anyone in 2012 could make it onto a ship that easily, let alone one to Cuba, is laughable). Hope’s Larry Lawrence is his typical charming screwball, particularly when he sees how shaken up Mary is by the whole affair and turns on some music, putting on a persona and dancing with her to cheer her up. The word today would be “adorkable” – he gladly plays the buffoon, but it’s purely for her benefit. Mary later calls him chivalrous, and when the obvious attraction between the two (who have only known each other for a few murder-obsessed hours) surfaces, there’s no trouble believing it.

Although the movie isn’t without its faults, it’s still a fun excursion with Bob Hope and well worth watching if you want lighter fare in the run-up to Halloween. The creepy moments are genuinely so, and the funny moments are as full of Hope’s timeless charm as any film he ever made.

Don’t forget, Lunatics and Laughter is the second Reel to Reel movie study. The first, Mutants, Monsters and Madmen, is now available as a $2.99 eBook in the Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords.com bookstore. And you can find links to all of my novels, collections, and short stories, in their assorted print, eBook and audio forms, at the Now Available page!

And while the 20 films for the first phase of Lunatics and Laughter have been selected, I’m still taking suggestions for next year’s expanded eBook edition. I’m especially looking for good horror/comedies from before 1980, so if you’ve got any ideas, please share them in the comments section.

02
Oct
12

Reel to Reel Phase II: Lunatics and Laughter

Last year, as you may remember, I spent the entire month of October presenting my thoughts on great horror movies. In fact, that project (originally called “Story Structure”) is the core of my new eBook, Reel to Reel: Mutants, Monsters and Madmen, now available for a measly $2.99. It’s the best value you could possibly ask for, assuming you’re looking for an eBook about the history of horror movies for less than the price of the average American Comic Book.

I was hoping to do a full-blown sequel this year, but with one thing or another, I just never got around to preparing the articles I’d intended to do. But looking ahead at a long October devoid of creepy content… well… I just can’t bring myself to do it.

So I’m going to try. It won’t be as extensive as last year, but if I get to work now, I may be able to knock out the first segment of films in Reel to Reel II: Lunatics and Laughter. Last year I talked about the world’s scariest movies. This year I’m going for one of my favorite genres: the horror/comedy.

It’s an odd combination, fear and humor, and it’s one that doesn’t obviously lend itself to a merger. But the truth is, fear and humor actually compliment one another brilliantly. Part of the reason for that, I think, is because the structure is actually very similar. Both fear and laughter require a pattern of tension: the situation is introduced, tension is built, and tension is released over and over again. The difference, of course, is that in comedy the tension is released with a laugh and in horror it is released in a scream. The horror/comedy is delightful precisely because it lends itself so neatly to both.

I’m hoping to tick off as many entries as I can this year (I make no promises, this is what I hope), and then spend the ensuing months beefing it up to an even more expanded edition than the measly five bonus films in Reel to Reel I. But once again, this year, I turn to you for suggestions. I’m working on my list and I find that I don’t have as many suggestions probably because there aren’t as many truly great horror/comedies as there are pure horror classics. In particular, I find that I’m somewhat deficient in films prior to the 1980s, when the advent of films like Ghostbusters and Monster Squad really helps the genre take off. So I’m asking you guys for your suggestions. What are the all-time great horror/comedies in your estimation?

A few ground rules:

  • By my definition, a horror/comedy is NOT a movie that you laugh at just because it’s terrible. That’s a “so bad it’s good” movie, which now that I think about it might make for a fun Reel to Reel itself someday. But not now. I want movies that are genuinely good (or at least memorable).
  • No “spoof” movies. Things like Scary Movie are in no way intended to actually scare you. A really great horror/comedy uses the tropes of both genres. In fact, the perfect horror/comedy, in my estimation, is a film where you simply don’t know if the creator want you to laugh or scream until the moment where it happens.
  • Only films currently available on Netflix or Amazon Prime (or in my personal DVD collection) are eligible. I know this will knock out some movies, but I’m not going to torrent and I don’t really have time for a manhunt.

Other than that, anything goes. For point of reference, these are the candidates I’ve compiled thus far:

  1. The Ghost Breakers (1940)
  2. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
  3. Mad Monster Party (1967)
  4. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  5. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)
  6. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  7. Ghostbusters (1984)
  8. Gremlins (1984)
  9. The Toxic Avenger (1984)
  10. Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)
  11. The Monster Squad (1987)
  12. Beetlejuice (1988)
  13. Heathers (1988)
  14. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
  15. Arachnaphobia (1990)
  16. Tremors (1990)
  17. Army of Darkness (1992)
  18. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
  19. Dead Alive (1992)
  20. The Frighteners (1996)
  21. Bride of Chucky (1998)
  22. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
  23. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
  24. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
  25. Fido (2006)
  26. Slither (2006)
  27. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
  28. Zombieland (2009)
  29. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (2010)
  30. Frankenweenie (2012)

See what I mean about a dearth of pre-80s movies?

So hit me, guys. Tell me what movies I need to add to this list. Tell me which movies on this list simply must be included in the project. Tell me what can scare you and make you laugh all at the same time.

LIST UPDATED TO REFLECT MY FAVORITE (AND MOST LIKELY) SUGGESTIONS

24
Sep
12

Who are your favorite movie monsters?

 

The next Showcase Top Ten will be deep in October, gang, so we decided to get all Halloweeny-on your butts. Tell us your favorite movie monsters!

And the fun of it is, YOU get to define monster. Is a serial killer a monster? A ghost? A guy in a rubber suit? An adorable Muppet? It’s up to you, friends. Just a couple of ground rules:

You’re voting for the monster, not the movie. If you say “I’m voting for Freddy Krueger in Nightmares 1, 3, 4, and 7, but not 2, 5, and 6,” I’m going to stop reading and just chalk up a single vote for Fred.

Similarly, don’t vote for the same monster twice on one list. (I know that seems like common sense, but you would be surprised at a couple of the lists I’ve gotten for previous episodes…) You can count two members of the same species or line as two different monsters, though.

Like we did with the Villain top ten, you can cast a group vote for a kind of monster if they usually do their thing as a horde and not individuals (such as zombies, the Borg, the Jurassic Park raptors, etc.)

And this time it’s MOVIES ONLY. No comic book, TV or video game monsters unless they have also appeared on the silver screen. (Direct-to-video movies count.)

Okay, gang. Get your top ten list in early! Send ’em to Showcase@cxpulp.com!

 

02
Jun
12

An open letter to Disney and Muppet Studios

To the powers that be at the Walt Disney Company and Muppet Studios:

I’d like to tell you about my niece, Maggie. Maggie is 19 months old and completely in love with the Muppets. She can recognize Kermit on the spine of a DVD from a wall of over 500 cases. She carries her Walter doll everywhere she goes. She is not yet speaking in complete sentences, but she will sing along with “Mahna Mahna.” Her current record for watching The Muppets is four times in one day, and it would have been higher had her parents not carefully snuck in some of the other DVDs when she wasn’t paying attention.

Although the most recent film, The Muppets, is her favorite, Maggie has gleefully consumed every Muppet movie and television special currently available on DVD, as well as the first three seasons of The Muppet Show. When she sees me, her Uncle Blake, working on my computer, she gives me pleading eyes until I hoist her onto my lap and start finding clips of Kermit, Gonzo and the others on YouTube. The number crunchers at Google probably find it rather unusual that a 34-year-old man can spend upwards of an hour watching the same clips over and over and over and over and over again.

We’re trying to branch out. We’ve started sneaking episodes of Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock into the rotation, and although Maggie enjoys these programs as well, her heart belongs to the Muppet Show Muppets.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful. I’m a Muppet fan from as far back as I can remember, and if Maggie is going to be obsessed with something, I’m glad it’s the Muppets instead of some of the truly insipid shows that are on the air for the preschool set right now. (I’m not going to name any names, but I’m sure you can think of a few.)

The thing is, we’re running out of stuff. Oh sure, Maggie is perfectly happy watching the same Muppet movie over and over (and over and over) again, time after time, but for myself, her grandparents, and especially her parents, we’re really starting to crave new material.

Which brings me to the point of this letter. Please. For the love of God. Get the next Muppet movie made as fast as you can.

And while we’re waiting, why not release the last two seasons of The Muppet Show on DVD to help tide us over? And for that matter, the 22 episodes of Muppets Tonight? (I’d ask for Muppet Babies too, but I understand the legal hurdles involved with clearing all of the short film clips that program included that make such a DVD highly improbable.) I would have happily purchased these DVDs to add to my personal collection even before Maggie was born. Now, they’re practically a necessity.

We need — desperately — more Muppet product. And you, my friends, are our only hope.

In closing, let me just introduce you to the little girl you’ll be disappointing if you don’t produce these DVDs as quickly as possible:

Seriously. How can you say no to that face?

30
May
12

Everything But Imaginary #450: Five Superhero Movies Hollywood Needs to Make

So this whole Avengers movie… made a buttload of money, right? The thing is, it did it with superheroes that the general public, until a few years ago, had never heard of, or at most vaguely remembered in a nostalgic kind of way. So let’s look at some other superheroes from outside of the A-list and see how Hollywood could make their movies into hits.

Everything But Imaginary #450: Five Superhero Movies Hollywood Needs to Make




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