Dinos

Posted in Collectibles with tags on February 2, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS


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RIP Mr. Cub

Posted in RIP with tags on January 24, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

Hall of Famer Ernie Banks has died at 83. RIP Ernie.

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Monster QB

Posted in Miscellania with tags on January 13, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

 

cardale_jonesI’ve been watching football for a long time and I can’t ever recall seeing a college team go through three QBs and win the National Championship. An enthusiastic congratulations to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Watching 6’5 250-lb Cardale Jones knock a 300-lb nose-guard on his ass is just sublime.

WER, 2013

Posted in Horror with tags on January 12, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

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To me there are at three variants in the Lycanthrope film genre: 1) those that predominantly rely on CGI and those that use traditional prosthetic makeup effects, 2) films which go for broke and just assume yes werewolves are real and supernatural beasts, as opposed to films that explain the lycanthrope affliction through a medical condition, and 3) films that portray the monster as an upright walking man-beast (Lon Chaney, Jr.), which is contrary to the four-legged shape-shifting werewolf as popularized in films like An American Werewolf in London (1981). I like all kinds of Lycanthrope films, from upright walking beasts in Werewolf of London (1935) and The Wolf Man (1941), Cry of the Werewolf (1944), which featured a German Shepherd, to the modern CGI-mapped Underworld films (now tentatively on the table for reboots), which are not so modern anymore.

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This all brings us to the American-made and Romanian-shot WER (2013), which is one of the better Lycanthrope films of the last 10 years.  I found it infinitely better than Universal’s idle-brained remake of the Lon Chaney classic, starring Benicio Del Toro and retitled as The Wolfman (2010). The film opens right off the bat with action and grabs your attention when a family of three is brutally attacked by what appears to be a large animal, while camping in rural France. The husband and young boy are killed, but the woman survives to explain the attack to police.

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Soon afterward, a hulking and unkept peasant named Talan Gwynek, aptly played by Brian Scott O’Connor, is apprehended by police, led by prickish Klaus Pistor (Sebastion Roché).  Human rights activist and attorney Kate Moore (A.J.Cook) agrees to represent the shackled Talan. Her legal team consists of asshole mole Eric (Vik Sahay) and former boyfriend and forensic examiner Gavin (Simon Quarterman). Kate’s interview and encounter with Talan suggests she is representing a gentle, introverted, and crippled client incapable of mobility, let alone violent and brutal slayings.

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Gavin performs an autopsy on the victims. The lower mandible of the father was removed and portion of the tongue was consumed. One of the thighs was chewed to the bone.  The child’s arms, abdomen, lower torso and legs are missing. Gavin concludes that the bite marks and patterns are consistent with a large animal attack.

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Upon meeting with Talan’s mother (Carmilia Maxim), the legal team learns that Talan is not French, but Romanian, and has a “condition” passed down through the paternal lineage of his family.  After consulting with a doctor in the USA, Gavin believes the affliction may be Porphyria, described in the film as an extremely rare blood condition that leads to limbic motion retardation.  The legal team decides that by demonstrating that Talan has a muscular-skeletal debilitating disease is the best defense that he couldn’t possibly murder the campers. The team finds a medical specialist to perform a Porphyria test, which consists of a corneal impression and wet reagent assay and a blinking light test.  In real life this is all hogwash, but it looks good on film.

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Let’s run this glass slide across your eyeball….

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Now, let’s run the strobe test….

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WER works both as a faux-documentary film (thankfully, it’s not a found footage movie) and a good old-fashioned horror film. Some of the cock-fighting between the lead guys gets old, but it serves a plot device. In the end we get to see some blood-letting and it delivers the goods. It’s also refreshing to see CGI used for key scenes where it would be cost-prohibitive or dangerous to use real sets, or in one key scene, have a human jump out of a building several stories above ground level.  The story is unusual, with a lawyer defending someone who may or may not be a Lycanthrope.   This is no classic, but director and writer William Brent Bell has fabricated an underrated, interesting and welcome additional to Lycanthrope filmdom.  Claws up! I’ll watch this one again.

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RIP Rod Taylor

Posted in RIP with tags on January 9, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

The greatest time traveler of them all has passed away. RIP Rod Taylor.

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The Bubble (1966), Blu-ray

Posted in 3-D, Sci-Fi with tags , on January 3, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

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We believe The Bubble is a very entertaining story about most unusual people in a situation you’ll talk about for a long time to come!

I was first introduced to the gimmickry of Arch Oboler through Bill Cosby’s dialogue about his childhood being terrorized by a radio broadcast on a monstrous giant chicken heart (Wonderfulness, 1966). The Chicken Heart bit was of course one of the many brilliant “Nights Out” radio show scripts penned by Arch Oboler from the mid-1930’s through the 1940’s. Most of these shows are now lost, but Oboler recreated “The Chicken Heart” on a record LP. Oboler was quite a maverick and was successful in stage, radio, television and film as a writer, playwright, novelist, director and producer. He had a huge hit with the 3-D film Bwana Devil (1952), and later returned to the genre with the unusual “Space Vision” 3-D film The Bubble (1966), now available for the first time on Blu-ray (Kino Lorber, 2014).

Like The Angry Red Planet (1959), filmed in the ridiculous negative image and solarisation CineMagic technique developed by animator Norman Maurer and 3-D movie producer Sid Pink, The Bubble (aka The Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth) is a gimmick film and a one tricky pony at that. The 3-D compositions are nothing special ~an airplane foil juts out in the opening moments, a man sticks a broom in your face, and various items float in space. However, the film is unusual technically in being perhaps the first anamorphic film (2.5:1) shot in the 3-D strip process. The film restoration looks fantastic. Unfortunately I don’t have a 3-D system to fully appreciate the dimensional effects.

The plot has an expecting mother, her husband and a pilot force landing during a storm into an odd rural community. There they discover they are trapped under an impenetrable dome. The movie reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” (Episode 79, 1961), with ambivalent and slightly off-kilter people stumbling around a cylindrical space, at odds why they are where they are. Not surprising, Rod Serling has acknowledged Arch Oboler as an early inspiration. If I had the notion to read Steven King’s Under the Dome (2009), or worse, watch the 13-episode mini-series, I would probably draw some similarities to The Bubble.

The film is not bad at all and certainly not worthy of awful reviews seen on IMDb. The acting is passable with Michael Cole (The Mod Squad) and Deborah Walley the romantic leads, and I love those floating Don Post masks in the shock therapy sequence. The floating heads and the weird “nutrient pylon” were made by physical effects jack-of-all-trades Harry Thomas (1909-1996), who designed the man-eating plant in a coffee-can Audrey Jr., in Corman’s The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). The Blu-ray comes with several extras, including the original and 1976 re-issue trailers, advertising art and promos, and 2-D and 3-D versions of the film.

Looking for something different? This is it. Genre enthusiasts will enjoy The Bubble and it might just surprise and intrigue some others.

The Woman in Black 2 (2015)

Posted in Horror with tags on January 2, 2015 by MONSTERMINIONS

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In many ways, Hammer’s sequel The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014) is better than the original. Both films clock in at short running times less than 100 minutes, which I find refreshing in today’s opulence of three hour CGI synthesizia, and center around odd dealings in Eel Marsh Manor, a creepy abandoned estate stuck on a tidal-locked and fog shrouded Tombolo in Northeastern England. WIB2 takes place 40 years after WIB, during the Luftwaffe bombing raids on England in WWII. This sets up a nice plot device to relocate several adolescent war orphans from the war torn landscapes to the foggy coastal environs of Eel Marsh, and you guessed it -a haunted house. The central characters are an introverted and shell-shocked boy Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), nannie Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox), RAF pilot Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine), and head mistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory, who you may recognize from some of the Harry Potter films and the latest 007 Skyfall).

Once the party reaches Eel Marsh Manor, the usual hijinks occur, including cliché bullying of young Edward, creaks and thumps, shadowy apparitions, plenty of bus shots, broken windows, explorations of chests and basements and a very creepy room full of weathered mechanical toys. Of course only Edward can see the woman in black at first.

However, the film is indeed atmospheric and expertly lensed. Some of the cinematography is striking and the amateur photographer in me senses that portions of the film were shot by candlelight using extremely fast and wide open lenses (ala Kubrick). The film looks like a ghost story should be and most closely resembles Guillermo del Toro’s superior The Devil’s Backbone (2001), and his production The Orphanage (2007). It’s also well acted by a fine British cast. I much prefer Phoebe Fox’s heroine in the lead over the somewhat stiff Daniel Radcliffe (no, I’m not a big fan) in the original. As far as ghost stories go, this is competent work, but why release this in January? I would have loved seeing WIB2 this past Halloween.