Aug 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - July 2020

With this whole Corona thing, the unimaginable has happened.
I've actually caught up on all the shows I normally record!


Streaming

Schitt's Creek (Netflix) - Little late to the party on this one but I'm so glad I got around to it! I've been a Eugene Levy fan since SCTV and he really is just getting better with age. The show itself is pretty simple but the characters make it shine. Just waiting for the final season to come to streaming.

Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix) - I didn't watch the original a whole lot but I'm finding out true crime may be a favorite thing for me. There's only a handful of episodes right now but I really hope there will be more. Each episode is devoted to a single mystery. If the first one doesn't hook you, I don't know what will. And how did they manage to make the theme even spookier??

Warrior Nun (Netflix) - Based on the comic Warrior Nun Areala, a teenage girl awakes from death with a religious artifact embedded in her, making her the new chosen one. It's a little supernatural, a little superhero, plus you've got kick ass nuns battling demons! What more could you want? A second season, that's what!

Locke & Key (Netflix) - Yet another comic I haven't read turned series. It has the wonder of an 80s kids adventure movie but with a touch of dark fantasy to it. I guess it's sort of like Stranger Things but modern instead of in the 80s. If you're reading this, you should check it out.

Movies

Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999, Pluto TV)
Picking up from last month’s “Finish the Franchise.” I'm not going to even get into this. It was a terrible way to leave the series. Doesn't seem like they were interested in keeping continuity and Candyman seems to have the hots for his descendant. I mean, she is a former Playboy centerfold and Baywatch babe, but ew. Hopefully the reboot will return him to horror icon status.

Rating: 2/10


A building full of workers is forced to quarantine when a virus that causes you to lose impulse control breaks out. It’s like Office Space but instead of a printer, the disgruntled employees bloodily battle their way up floors to get revenge on the big cheese. Steven Yuen is great here and you’ll be rooting for him if you’ve ever had “one of those days” at work. Plus, it's directed by Joe Lynch!

Rating: 7/10


Take the Ghostbusters, give them better tech and exorcist super powers, toss in a bit of cyberpunk because the demons they’re fighting are using a Pokémon-like phone app to turn people into Evil Dead. The mish-mash-up is a lot to process but I had a lot of fun with it! I think it’s be great as a series and/or a comic. It's from the same Aussie's that did Wyrmwood which I also liked a lot.

Rating: 7/10

I didn't like the look of this from the first trailer and my opinion hasn't changed now that I've seen it. I actually didn't mind the idea of turning Chucky into a home assistant gone rogue but the script needs to go to the returns department. Also, whoever approved his design needs to be fired. Yes, they succeeded in making him look creepy but it's not the good kind of creepy.

Rating: 4/10

Oh. My. God. I LOVE this movie!! Everything about this flick is on point and brimming with style. Not just the music but the sound design and the visuals.*chef kiss* I was hooked on the opening credits sequence alone. I wish Edgar Wright had been allowed to make his version of Ant-Man.

Rating: 9/10


Blade Squad (aka Inline Cops, 1998)
Sorry I could only find a German trailer but it should give you an idea just how 90s EXTREEEEEME this wants to be. It was made in '98 but it feels like something made in the mid-80s that was trying to be futuristic. I don't know how anyone involved could take this seriously: Police on inline skates with rocket boost backpacks. Oh yeah, they operate out of the back of a seriously modified garbage truck. It's not quite "so bad it's good" but it's close! The drama is SO over the top. I blame this one totally on Kevin at Masked Library for making me aware of it.

Rating: 3/10


Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future (1985, YouTube. Watch it above!)
This is the original UK TV special that provides Max's origin story. It was reshot and became the pilot episode for the 1987 ABC TV series so if you're familiar with that, this isn't much different. The show was insanely ahead of its time in the 80s but would fit perfectly in today's cyber scene. If you're only familiar with Max as a talking head, check this out!

Rating: 8/10

Month
New: Rewatch: 2

Year to Date
New: 40  Rewatch: 2

Jul 29, 2020

Spook Show 2 Trading Cards

Way back in 2012(!) I backed a fantastic Kickstarter for a trading card set from Monsterwax based on the classic Spook Shows of yesteryear. They just recently returned to Kickstart a second series.

You can see my review of the first series here.


If you're a rare species that's reading my blog and doesn't know what a Spook Show is, I'll let them lay it out for you.

The Ghost Shows of the 1930s-1960s operated much like traveling haunted houses-- but were presented live on a stage using macabre magic! They featured professional magicians (or "Ghost Masters") who would drive across the country and rent theaters during off-hours (usually after midnight). There, they would perform all sorts of ghastly magic and gruesome illusions. Audiences might witness a bloody decapitation, or watch a volunteer get placed into a  trance and have their arm amputated with a buzz saw. A beautiful assistant could climb into a wicker basket and get run through with numerous swords or spikes. Another might be cremated and her smoldering skeleton would still be squirming as the oven lid was opened. A random volunteer could have the skin from their face removed, then have their skull extracted and floated about the stage as the audience looked on in shock.

There was no limit to the imagination or horror of Spook Shows. The climax was the infamous "black out", when the theater was plunged into complete darkness and flooded with floating ghosts and other spiritual manifestations. A horror film immediately followed, but in some instances, many in the audience had already fled the theatre in panic! (Sorry, no refunds!) But the memories never left those who witnessed these spook-tacular events. The craze was so popular, it made numerous magicians rich-- and pitted some of them against each other in cut-throat feuds for better dates and larger territories.


They have some really fun rewards lined up.

If you pledge as little as $2 you get a Death Curse to fill out and destroy your enemies!
At $4, you get the Death Curse and a real ghost!
Starting at $18, you can get the full base set of cards.
$28 gets the base set plus some chase cards and $50 gets you the complete base set, all chase cards, a sketch, an autograph, and more, including a zombie servant!

Check out the whole thing on Kickstarter
They're well over the goal with 6 days left to back.

Funny thing is I kinda glossed over the photos when I backed the project and when I went back to make this post, I noticed all the photos they have for the series 1 cards (red background) are the photos I took when I made my post about those cards! I'm having my ghost lawyer contact them.

Jul 22, 2020

Marvel Battleworld Game by Funko

Wow it seems like forever ago that I posted about any new toys. Let's see...that was...back in May with the Imperial Probe Droid figure. It's not like I'm not popping into stores to see what's up but it's definitely not as often and not as fun. It's more of a challenge to pick something up on a whim these days due to the longer check out lines. But I did spot the latest game from Funko a couple weeks ago and had to check it out.

Marvel Battleworld display

Jul 15, 2020

Order of the Thinned Veil 2020

It's looking more and more like we won't be having a traditional Halloween this year so I'm happy to take it in any form I can get it. After last year's experience, there was no doubt I'd be joining the Order of the Thinned Veil again this year.


The Order, or OTV, is a yearly membership for Halloween fiends to get tricks and treats all year long. There are three levels of membership, basically the more you pay, the more stuff you get. I went for the Trick or Treat level which is the mid-level option. That means I get one package now and one later in the year.

The first shipment is the first level, or Candy Corn membership.


You can get more info on each piece at the OTV homepage. But here's a run down.

“The Nightwatchman” Owl Wall Plaque by Jason McKittrick
“Candy Corn Cometh” art print by Sam Heimer
Pumpkin Seeds!
Halloween themed "popping candy" with sucker
OTV Enamel Membership Pin

Not pictured: 
2020 Welcome Letter from Lisa Morton, author of The Halloween Encyclopedia
Order of the Thinned Veil Membership Certificate
“The Legend of Lantern Jack” – An original tale by Jason McKittrick. This short story is the basis for most of the artwork produced by the Order of the Thinned Veil.

While I love everything I got here, what I"m really excited for is the next shipment, the Trick or Treat level. It includes a set of 3 Trick or Treater figures that I cannot wait to get! There were five offered this year in total but I couldn't quite afford the next level to get them but I will be more than happy with the three that will be knocking on my door.

If you're a Halloween fanatic, you should be following the gents behind the Order on Instagram to keep with with the treats they produce year round.

Jul 13, 2020

9 Years Blogging

Hey, look at this!
I didn't forget my Blog-iversary this year.


Thank you to the handful of you that keep on visiting and posting comments.

Here's some stats for the blog's lifetime.


In a stunning upset, the Andy Gibb Poster has fallen to the second most visited page. In the top spot is a League of Extraordinary Bloggers post about Spacemen. Wow, I can't believe that was 7 years ago!


And here are the top searches that have lead people to this very site. There's a lesson here, kids. If you want site hits, post about Andy Gibb!

Jul 8, 2020

Book Report - The Art of Tron (1982)

Many, many, many years ago, I joined the website PaperbackSwap.com. As you might guess from the name, it's a site where you can swap books with other people. You can even wish list things so that you're notified as soon as someone posts something you're after. While searching for anything Tron related, I found an entry for The Art of Tron, something I wasn't even aware existed. On my wish list it went and years passed.

A few weeks ago I got an email letting me know a book I had wish listed was available.
It was The Art of Tron!
I clicked buttons faster than I ever had in my life and it finally arrived yesterday.

Art of Tron cover

Now, the general rule at PaperbackSwap is that you post books in a condition that you would be fine receiving them in. This book is definitely showing its age on the front and back covers but I am just happy to have it! Copies on Ebay have recently sold between $46-$80 depending on condition. I paid about $4 to cover the cost of shipping and a 'book credit' from a previous trade where I sent someone a book they wanted. If I could scan the book without destroying it, I'd love to share it with other fans.

Anyway, let's get digitized into the world of Tron!

Jul 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - June 2020

Welcome to the June recap, brought to you by Shudder! I mean, they're not sponsoring me or anything but I did jump on a 30 day trial to finally check it out. I'll definitely be continuing to subscribe once that runs out. It's a million times better than trying to sort through a lot of the horror garbage on Prime.

If you've seen anything interested in the past month, let me know in the comments.


Streaming

October Faction (Netflix) - Only about halfway through the first season but really liking it so far! It's kind of like Supernatural (monster hunters) meets Men in Black (secret agency).

Vagrant Queen (SyFy) - Waited until it was over to watch all 10 episodes. It was a lot of fun with a surprising amount of splatter. I loved the main characters pretty much right from the start. Not only all this, but episode 8 is a wonderful homage to the movie Clue! Really hope it gets picked up for at least one more season. Haven't read the comic it's based on but that may change.

Creepshow (AMC/Shudder) - The eps are usually at least okay with some excellent ones and only a couple of meh ones. It really feels like an 80s throwback, mainly due to the effects, which isn't a bad thing. I am not a fan of the live action Creep though, something just isn't right about him.

Movies


Satanic Panic (2019, Shudder)
This movie was so much fun! I love when they manage to get the mix of horror and humor just right. And it's got a killer soundtrack by Boston-based Wolfmen of Mars (seriously, check them out!) I was surprised to see the screenplay is by Grady Hendrix who is an author I've been accidentally enjoying. (I've been buying his books based on the premise and finding out after the fact, "Hey! It's that guy again.")

Rating: 8/10


Tammy and the T-Rex (1994, Shudder)
On the other hand, you have this oddly entertaining, crazy thing. It's not good. It's not even 'so bad it's good' but somehow you can't stop watching to see what weirdness is next. Probably better enjoyed with friends and some adult beverages.

Rating: 5/10


Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019, Shudder or Prime)
I wanted to catch this at Salem Horror Fest last year but missed it. So glad I finally got to see it. It's an amazing documentary that I would recommend to any fan of horror movies. It's awesome to see so many black horror actors from different franchises together.

*Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989, Netflix)
Still my second favorite Indy flick but man there are some goofy gags in here. Are they more valid than "nuke the fridge" because of the writing or Sean Connery?

Rating: 8/10


Scare Package (2019, Shudder)
I think people will be split on this horror comedy anthology. It has a very specific, peculiar sense of humor that you'll either be immediately on board with or will turn it off in the first 20-30 minutes. The trailer should give you an idea which one you might be. I really enjoyed it for the most part. It was a little meta and played with horror tropes in a fun way.

Rating: 6.5/10


Summer of '84 (Shudder)
I'm not saying it wasn't good or I didn't like it (I did!) but the trailer had me expecting something a little more. It never really got tense until the end and it was a bit slow going. I didn't mind the slowness but I would have enjoyed it more if they either got deeper into the characters or there was a slow burn leading up to the climax. Excellent synth soundtrack.

Rating: 7/10

I had planned to delve back into "Finish the Franchise" where I watch all the movies in a horror series that I haven't seen. However, I didn't plan ahead and verify they were all streaming somewhere! So maybe part 3 will be next month if I can track it down. Although, after the second one, I don't know that I want to.

*Candyman (1992, Netflix)
I remember really digging this when I saw it in theaters. It's still good but I definitely saw it a little differently this time after watching Horror Noire and with current events. Even though he's not on screen that much, Tony Todd just owns it.

Rating: 7/10

Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995, Pluto TV)
If Candyman was handled right, he could have ascended to a seat in Horror Olympus with the other icons we know so well. Unfortunately, the sequel trades in good characters, social commentary, and story for a higher body count and gore. Also, this has got to be the lamest way anyone gets their name ever.

Rating: 4/10

Month
New: 6  Rewatch: 2

Year to Date
New: 33  Rewatch: 2

Jun 17, 2020

Choose Your Own IT Adventure

Just to set expectations, the IT in the post title is indeed Information Technology. There are no murderous clowns or spiders from outer space in this post.

Data Center of Doom cover

I've had this for awhile and never got around to sharing it. It all started back in BC (Before Corona) when I was talking to one of my managers in his office. I happened to see just enough of the book corner sticking out from a pile of books and papers to know it was a CYOA book. At first I thought it was a parody because it didn't look or sound like a typical CYOA book.

Data Center of Doom back cover

When I (excitedly) asked what it was he said I could take it as it was just a promo item he got at a tech trade show. As I started looking at it, there was no doubt it was an official book after seeing the ChooseCo logo. What a cool way to promote your company!

Here is the back cover text:
Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls provide a security architecture that protects, scales and evolves with data center needs. Our firewalls are designed to safely enable applications by user, application and content without compromising performance. We support physical, virtualized and mixed-mode date center environments, with consistent next-generation firewall features managed with a single centralized management platform.

There's also mention of a secret online ending but since the book is around 8 years old, that page no longer comes up with anything.

Data Center of Doom other books

I think my favorite thing about the book is this Books You May Have Missed section. CYOA fans will no doubt recognize the original inspirations for some of these tech parody titles.

So, what's the book about? You take the role of a network Security Architect at a pharmaceutical company that is on the verge of going public. Sounds like a thrilling adventure, right?

Your day starts off noticing network traffic from R&D is being routed to Georgia (the country) and from there your choices begin.

You can try to chase down the mysterious R&D network traffic.

You could end up giving a presentation to the Chief Information Security Office about Palo Alto firewalls, which would have prevented the whole R&D data thing to begin with.

You may find yourself heading off to the Amazon to find out what happened to another tech that was going to visit the company's latest acquisition.

Data Center of Doom illustrations

It's not all as boring as you think it might be, but then some of it is. My first run through followed the Amazon plot and it was fun. The corporate stuff, not so much and I don't know if someone that isn't into IT would even enjoy those parts.

For the heck of it, I checked eBay for this book and if the current listings are to be believed, it's on the rarer side. I couldn't find any completed auctions but there are two for sale right now, both asking over $70!

Jun 10, 2020

Spider, Man

Just a head's up: if spiders are not your thing, you may want to click away!
Maybe go check out this awesome Spider-Man spider cosplay.

Now that that's out of the way, on to our story.

I was driving to get take out the other night and noticed out of the corner of my eye something moving on the hood of the car. At first I thought...well, I don't know what I thought, maybe it was dirt or something? I came to a stop light and it was moving again. It was a spider but not one I'd seen before.

Bold Jumper 4

Naturally, when I got to my destination I had to take some pics since he'd managed to hang on for the ride. Here he is on the windshield wiper arm to give you an idea of size. It's really only about as big as my thumbnail but that's certainly bigger than the usual spiders I see around the house.

Bold Jumper 1

I tossed a pic up on Insta (that's how the cool kids say it, right?) and one of my friends ID'd it as a jumping spider. With that knowledge I was able to figure out it's a Bold Jumper. I've seen smaller jumping spiders before but they've looked quite different.

Bold Jumper 2

In retrospect, I should have known it was a jumping spider because there's two things I always notice about them. Unlike other spiders, when they move they always look like a stop motion special effect. There's just something stilted about their movement. The other thing is they seem to have great eyesight.

When I was leaning in to take these pics, I could clearly tell he was looking back at the big brick in the sky (my phone). You can see in the above pics, he was even cocking his head to the side. If he was wearing a tiny top hat, I imagine he'd tip it to me to say "Hello up there".

Bold Jumper 3

How's that for a close-up? Kinda feels like he's going to jump right at you!

He managed to hang on for the drive home as well so he's probably out and about hunting in my yard.

Jun 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - May 2020


Hope everyone is still doing good out there in internet land! I know a lot of places have started a phased re-opening but don't let that make you think we're out of the woods. We still have a way to go to get back to "normal". Please continue to be safe!

Okay, on with the show! I know we joke about time having no meaning but I seriously had to double check my movie log to make sure I saw the first entry this month because it felt like I watched it so long ago!


Streaming

Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian (Disney+) - An 8 part series on the making of The Mandalorian? Um, yes please!

Dispatches from Elsewhere (AMC) - I'm glad I decided to wait until all the episodes were out to watch them over a few days. I really enjoyed this as it actually engaged my brain and made me feel things.

Movies


This was sort of like The Andromeda Strain (science lab) meets 28 Days Later (rage virus) but keep in mind it is 1985. The scariest makeup effects are some flaky skin and boils which is a shame because if they'd done any kind of gore, it would make a better movie. As it is, I have no clue how this got an R rating.
There were a couple moments where the local yokels clash with the government/not quite CDC people that felt pretty relevant with the quarantine protestors. Despite it feeling like a made for TV movie, I thought it was pretty good overall. I mean, how can you go wrong with Police Academy's G.W. Bailey (Lt. Harris)? I was surprised at some of the "big" name cast that are here considering I hadn't heard of the movie.

Rating: 6/10


The only way I can describe this is sort of like a Dollar Store Evil Dead with a splash of 1985's Demons. The plot will sort of make sense while you're watching it and then rockets off the next exit for Whathehellsburg at 70 mph. The only thing more laughable than the effects is the acting. Having said that, it might be a good candidate for your own MST3k-inspired rip session.

Rating: 4/10

I'm not familiar enough with Treasure Island to make any kind of comparisons but it was pretty fun. The casting was spot on with really enjoyable performances.

Rating: 7/10

Blumhouse has made a name for itself cranking out mostly PG13 horror that I usually enjoy. Not so much for this vacation. While I didn't think it was all bad, the rating keeps it from becoming truly threatening at the needed times and it ends up feeling more like an amusement park haunted house than horror movie. The contrived plot "twist" at the end was too out of left field for me to do anything other than roll my eyes at it. And don't even get me started on how dumb Tattoo is...

Rating: 5/10

Never read the book and it's been decades since I've seen the original movie. From what I do remember, they made a few changes but it still feels like a hollow remake, some of which I blame on bland Jason Clarke. What I'd really be interested in is some kind of prequel about the mythology/creation of the Semetary. I do have to applaud the young actress that played the daughter, she was amazing. Also good: some cringe inducing gore.

Rating: 6/10

Month
New: 5  Rewatch: 0

Year to Date
New: 27  Rewatch: 0

May 27, 2020

Star Wars Black Series Probe Droid

Continuing the 40th anniversary celebration of The Empire Strikes Back, and the 43rd of Star Wars from Monday, here's the recently released Black Series Probe Droid.

Click to order on Amazon
The probe droid is one of my favorite droids in all of Star Wars so I was thrilled to find this on a recent trip to Target. But then I had a moment of sticker shock and didn't pick it up right away. I wasn't expecting to pay $10 more than the usual 6" scale Black Series figure.

By my next trip back, I had thought it over. Despite being a huge Star Wars fan, my collecting has been scaled back to almost nothing and this is one of my favorite things in my favorite movie. So I took heed of some wise words: Treat Yo'Self.


And I'm so glad I did! It is totally worth every penny!

Aside from the larger box, I can see where that extra $10 went to with this figure: its size and detail. Having it sitting around, I feel like I have a prop replica instead of an "action figure." Probe droids aren't known for their fashion sense, so it doesn't come with many accessories except a clear pole and a snowy base to plug it into.


The head turns 360°and I'd be lying if I said the little kid in me secretly wanted it to make a clicking noise like the old Kenner droid figures. The longer legs have three joints, while the shorter ones just two. I am loving the silver weathering they used to give it that "used" look.


In addition to paint weathering, they also dirtied it up a little.


Another thing that would have been cool to have would be an extendable antenna but given how thin they are, I can see where that would be hard to do. This front on angle is kind of odd, I feel like he's being fancy and extending an arm to say "How do you do?"

If you're on the fence about picking this up, definitely do it. You won't regret it. I don't think this will be one you can wait on to go on clearance.

Not having a Chewbacca or Hoth Han figure (not to mention snow) I couldn't recreate the scene from Empire Strikes Back so I had to work with what I have.

May 21, 2020

Happy 40th Empire Strikes Back

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, I wanted to reminisce a little about the greatest sci-fi adventure.


I grew up watching Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons and while there was a good mix of Godzilla flicks in there, I think ESB was the first real sequel I saw that continued the adventures of another movie. I"m not 100% sure but I think the first time I saw a trailer was in front of Moonraker (also my first Bond). If it had to so with outer space, I wanted to see it! I can't even convey to you the sense of how much 9 year old me was blown away by the trailer! Not only seeing the characters I loved coming back but all the new stuff. I didn't even know the name AT-AT yet but they were damn cool!


The Music
While the Star Wars main theme is certainly iconic, there's no denying that the Imperial March has become "the Star Wars song". Even people that aren't familiar with Star Wars (who ARE these people?) know it just like everyone knows the Jaws theme. Another reason I love the soundtrack is that the March's influence is felt in other tracks. When CDs first came out, this was the first one I bought. It was also the first CD I played in my first brand new car.

The Places
Okay, Dagobah doesn't bring much to the table aside from Yoda. Hoth is pretty much an ice cube but I love just about everything there from cold weather outfits to Probe droids. The Battle of Hoth is one of the best sequences in all of Star Wars. But Bespin? Out of all the locations in all the movies, that's the place I'd move to if I could. You know, when it's not under Imperial occupation.


The Characters
There were only a handful of new main characters but they make up for quantity with quality. It would take a few more years for me to fully appreciate Yoda's wisdom. I remember turning to my dad and asking him what "That is why you fail." meant. Lando was kinda cool but also a bit on the shady side.


Boba. Fett. So much hype for him even before the movie from his animated appearance in the Holiday Special to the mail away figure and articles like the one here. Imperial Shocktrooper that wiped out the Jedi? Bounty Hunter? Who was this guy and what's with the cool armor?


The Toys
OMG the toys! That mail away Boba Fett before the movie even came out was everything! Even though I had the AT-AT, it was always the smaller vehicles like Slave I or the Cloud Car that captured my imagination (again going back to Bespin). The new mini-rigs gave us a peek at what might be just off screen. I still wish we'd gotten a Kenner Carbon Freeze Chamber playset.

I remember having to go to a toy store in another state to get the Yoda figure after he was released. Sure it was probably easy enough to find down the road but when you're a kid, you had to have it!

The Fast Food Tie-Ins
Fellow fan Richard Woloski over at Skywalking Through Neverland has a great piece up spotlighting the Burger King and Burger Chef Empire promo items which is sure to give you some warm fuzzies.

The Speculation
Who was the other Yoda mentioned? Couldn't be Han, right? Leia? I dunno. A character in the next movie?

Wait, what? Vader's gotta be pulling Luke's leg, right? There's no way he's really his father, that's insane! This was the talk of the playground for the next three years.
Kids today will never understand.

Feel free to share your Empire memories in the comments!

I've also shared some Empire poster magazines over the years.

ESB #1

May 13, 2020

Dark Ride: A Book Review

Today we're visiting an abandoned amusement park in Dark Ride: A Novel of Horror & Suspense by Ian Rob Wright.


Here's the plot from Amazon

'Bright Lights' AJ Starr is a pro wrestler on the rise, and his life is about to change forever. Knowing this, he plans one last party with all of his best friends. The venue? Saxon Hills theme park, abandoned ten years ago after its flagship ride burned down and killed nine innocent people. Some people say the place is haunted, but AJ knows from his time inside the squared circle that fantasy and reality are totally separate things.

Or so he thought.

AJ has no idea how nightmarish things are about to get, and eventually he'll be left wondering whether he brought his friends to Saxon Hills theme park to have fun. 

Or to die.

This was my first read from Wright and I enjoyed it quite a bit. In the Foreward, he explains how wrestling and the Disney parks are things he enjoys and both factor into the story to some degree. Our intro to main character AJ is an entire chapter of a wrestling match. I've never been big into wrestling but thankfully it's a short chapter.

From there, AJ meets up with his friends from high school. There's good friend Ashley who's dating physical trainer, and typical jerk, Greg, wheelchair bound Ben, his sister Tasha, and single friend Samantha. They all hop into a van with some booze to spend the night in an remote, abandoned amusement park for one last night of fun before AJ leaves town. If that setup doesn't sound like an 80s horror movie, I don't know what does!

They get to the park around the 25% mark and there's a lot of relationship drama for the next 25% which was really reminding me of a Friday the 13th movie. Then they start exploring the ride: Frenzy. That's when things start getting weird.

This fictional ride is based around the Germanic god Woden but the whole time I could picture nothing but Epcot's Maelstrom (now home to Frozen Ever After). I think if you've ever been on it, it'll easily jump to mind.

As someone that's been to the Disney parks quite a bit, venturing into a shutdown attraction is both intriguing and creepy to me. I often think how weird it is to be in such a large enclosed space (if that makes sense), add to that navigating by flashlight, the eerie quiet, and creepy animatronic figures and even I'd be a little spooked!

The book is 230 pages and it's a brisk read despite spending the first half hanging out with the characters and seeing them interact like friends do. Once they get into the ride and the horror begins, it goes even quicker. If you're looking for something that reads like an 80s horror movie, I'd definitely recommend Dark Ride!

Through the Kindle app, I can loan the book out for 2 weeks so if you want to check it out, let me know.

Rating: 3.5/5

May 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - April 2020

I was going to start the post off with a cool cats and kittens salutation but I figure everyone is probably tired of it by now.


Streaming

Bloodride (Netflix) - This Norwegian horror anthology series is...okay. The thing that hurts it most is that the episodes are only 30 minutes so they don't really have time to develop and/or you can see the ending a mile away. The other thing is the English dubbing is flat in some places and removes any emotion from the dialog. 
My episode rankings: 2-3-1-4-5-6

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix) - I'm still loving this series! I like that it has "short" seasons and they're able to tell an overarching story. I really thought the next to last episode was the season finale while watching it. It would have been amazing if they ended there.

Tiger King (Netflix) - Just when you thought Walmart or "Florida Man" was the weirdest and craziest humanity could get, Joe Exotic says hold my beer. You just cannot look away once you start watching.

Movies

The Descent (2005, Amazon Prime)
Much like The House of the Devil from last month, this one has been on my list and was amazing. The whole claustrophobia thing was worse for me than the creatures. The thought of getting stuck in a tight spot underground or worse, being lost, is something that gets to me. I really enjoyed the story because it was something I wasn't expecting going in.

Rating: 8/10

Onward (2020, Disney+)
I don't know if the general public will enjoy this one as much as someone that's into D&D and the whole fantasy thing. I am one of those someones and having that history really gives this a whole extra level of enjoyment. We all know Pixar is good at giving you the feels and this one does but it's different. I was a little surprised by the ending and was impressed they went the way they did with it.

Rating: 8/10

The folks at my favorite movie review podcast, Now Playing, are doing a viral outbreak retrospective series. Every week, they're reviewing a virus movie from each decade, starting in the 1950s. Since I'm pretty much stuck in the house on weekends, I thought I'd watch along so I could listen to their reviews.


Panic in the Streets (1950) available from the Internet Archive
There's just something about a good noir film that tickles me. It might seem corny but the dialog, the acting style, I just adore it. It's that love of noir that really kept me glued to this one. Although this is about a plague, it's really a basic cops & robbers/detective style story. This is Jack Palance's first film and he is great as the main baddie.

Rating: 7/10


The Satan Bug (1965) available on YouTube
On the other hand, we have this one from director John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape). The plot is very Bond (chasing a wacko who stole a bio-weapon) but the execution is a little bland. In a good Bond flick, I can roll with bad film logic/script but this one just doesn't stay above the fun line for the most part. Huge props to the set designers of the lab in the trailer (it's in the movie too).

Rating: 5/10


The Andromeda Strain (1971)
I've kind of always wanted to see this because it had a cool name, not because I knew anything about it. It's essentially a two hour CSI: Virus Unit because most of it takes place in a lab. The opening scenes sucked me in right away and I was even not bored with all the science although it does lag a bit in places. They do some fun stuff with split screen and 70s "computer graphics".

Rating: 6/10


Month
New: 5  Rewatch: 0

Year to Date
New: 22  Rewatch: 0

Apr 22, 2020

Labrytinth - The Adventure Game

Have you ever wanted to grab a few friends and test yourself against the Goblin King and his Labyrinth? Now you can thanks to River Horse Games!


Let's start by looking at the book. Much like the Labyrinth itself, things are not what they seem at first glance here.


They made an interesting choice by cutting a small area out of the pages so that the custom dice can be stored in the book. It's a neat idea but I can easily see it leading to tearing a page if your finger gets hooked in there. Also, the owl in the bottom corner is on every page and you can flip the pages to make his wings flap.


Removing the dust jacket finds a replica of Sarah's book! For me, this alone is worth the price of admission. I'd be happy just to have this on display. But, there is adventure within!

Apr 15, 2020

Now Hear This - Gorky Park

Before you get your hopes up, no, this post is not about the soundtrack from the 1983 William Hurt movie of the same name. Today I'm talking about the glam rock/hair band Gorky Park.


The band originally formed in Soviet Russia (insert Yakov Smirnoff joke of choice here) in 1987. That same year, they came over the the US looking for a record deal, which they were able to score with help from Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.

In 1989, they released a self-titled album and its first single "Bang".


This song got quite a bit of air play on MTV, which is how I first found them. The song has a catchy chorus and you can easily imagine an arena crowd chanting along. The video stayed in MTV's Top 15 for two months, topping out at number 3.

If you were old enough in the 80s, you no doubt remember the cold war and a time when it seemed like someone could "push the button" at any time to kick off a nuclear war. The US wasn't quite so friendly with Russia then so for a Soviet band to gain popularity in the US seemed like a big deal to me at the time.

The band's second single, "Try to Find Me" (Billboard #81) was the required on every hair/glam rock album power ballad. The song "Within Your Eyes" may not be a ballad but it's definitely a better candidate to find its way on to a mixtape.

It was the third single "Peace in Our Time" that really made them stand out for me because it features guest vocals by Bon Jovi! In the late 80s, you couldn't get much bigger. Both of these songs found their was to radio. I also dig their cover of The Who's "My Generation".

Although they released three more albums during the 90s, they never managed to match their initial success. With grunge on its way in and the third and fourth albums only being released in Russia I never knew they had more albums until the internet came along.

The first album will always stick with me. Anytime I listen to it it immediately takes me back to the late 80s when the world was a much different place.

Apr 8, 2020

Missile Command: Recharged

Missile Command is the latest Atari classic to make the transition to mobile. The game play is essentially the same, but you can't bring a 40 year old game into the present without a few changes, right?


You'll notice right away one of the biggest changes are the graphics. Most everything is now rendered in a Tron-esque neon. I think this gives it a more retro feel than if it was replicating the original graphics. Somewhat lost under an annoying "soundtrack" are the original arcade sounds. It's not bad the first couple times you play but thankfully, it can be switched off.

To defend your cities, you still have 3 bases which now have unlimited ammo but take time to reload before they can be fired again. Since you direct shots by tapping the screen, you can't choose the base that shoots. This can be challenging! It seems to use the closest base that is ready to fire. It might not sound like much but it will be an adjustment for veteran Commanders.

There are no longer attack waves to break up the assault, you are consistently under bombardment. It starts out slow, but of course things begin to get more intense the longer you play. Your cities don't rebuild, but destroyed bases will. At least if there is a point where you get extra cities I haven't hit it yet, my best so far is around 25k.


The incoming ordnance is also a bit different. Enemy missiles now come in three sizes (smart bombs in two!) with projectile speed increasing as they get smaller. Also in the skies will be the occasional "power-up" which...isn't quite the right word because it's not always something you want! Maybe environmental modifier? These can slow things down, speed them up, set off a bomb that will clear the screen, and more.


Another new feature is that you can improve your defenses as you play. Your score after a game translates to points to buy upgrades for missile speed, explosion size, and how quickly your bases can reload or rebuild themselves. I think these add a good incentive to play again other than beating your last score because you'll get higher scores the more you improve.

The game is free but unless you pay $2.99 you'll be stuck with limited replay, represented by a battery graphic that loses one of three bars per game played with one bar recharging every 20 minutes. The free version has all the features of the paid so it's worth checking out if you're an arcade fan.

This is a fun return to a classic but honestly I don't see myself playing it much once it gets to the point where I'll have to play 2 or 3 games just to improve one thing. I'll probably keep it around as a time filler for awhile.


I almost forgot, there is one more fun new thing they put in here: Augmented Reality. Now you can have a Missile Command cabinet wherever you go. You can get right up close to it and the image is super crisp. You can also access the game from here so it's almost like walking up to a machine to play.

Apr 1, 2020

Monthly Media Recap - March 2020

March seemed to go be pretty fast and yet March 1st feels like it was about 6 months ago. It came in like a lion and left like a beast from Hell. I hope everyone out there is doing okay. In case you missed it, I'm giving away a bunch of codes for games on Steam. Plenty left!


Streaming

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Final Season (Disney+) - This has been fantastic! There's a few more to go but I'm glad they had the chance to come back to the series. Still the same great story telling but the animation has improved so much since it first started...wow, almost 12 years ago.

Movies


It's sort of like Jason meets Office Space, just not as funny. It's not terrible and there are some bits where I think they really hit the jokes but after about an hour, I was checking how much time was left. I think it would work better if it was split into short webisodes.

Rating: 4/10

Did we need a sequel? Not really but I had a damn good time with it. If you liked the first one, it's probably a safe bet you'll enjoy this one. The gang's all back...well, mostly. Little Rock is barely in this compared to everyone else but we're here for Tallahassee, right? New zombies and plenty of fun ways to kill them. Plus, one of the best post-credits scenes in the history of film!

Rating: 8/10

I haven't seem Daniel Craig in anything outside of Bond but man, was he amazing in this. The whole cast is pretty great and the story is so well told. Some people may refuse to see this knowing Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) directed it and those people are missing out on a wonderful classic murder mystery.

Rating: 9/10


Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019, Amazon Prime)
If you're a long time fan of the Kevin Smith-verse, this is your movie. At the same time it makes fun of the whole reboot/remake thing, it's throwing callbacks to every previous movie at you. The movie itself does feel like it's cashing in on that nostalgia a little too hard sometimes but I found it funny just for that reason. If you can sync the movie with YouTube, you can listen to Smith's Quarantinentary track.

Rating: 7/10

I'd been meaning to see this one since its release and am glad I finally got around to it! Not only does it take place in the 80s but it was shot on 16mm film and used a lot of late 70s/early 80s camera techniques to make it feel it was was actually made in the 80s. It's a bit slow to get started, which you could probably say about this type of movie from the 80s, but once it get going it's a Satanic panic good time.

Rating: 8/10

Toy Story 4 (2019, Disney+)
Even though "We have to save (toy) for (kid)" is basically the plot of every movie, Pixar still keeps is relatively fresh with fun new characters and exploring relationships with the original gang. Because they pushed Forky so hard before the movie even came out, I was expecting not to like him but I should know to trust Pixar. Even Duke Kaboom was a fun addition. I may not have gotten misty eyed like at the end of 3 but this ending has it's own gut wrenching to it because it's a little more "real life" than falling into an incinerator.

Rating: 8/10

Have you come across anything good while stuck at home?
Let me know in the comments.

Month
New: 6 Rewatch: 0

Year to Date
New: 17 Rewatch: 0

Mar 23, 2020

Stuck in the House Stuff & Free Games

Hey folks, I hope everyone out there is doing well. We're doing okay here near Salem MA. Currently not under lockdown but doing my part by staying away from people.

I wanted to put together a quick post of some stuff to do whether you're stuck in the house or not. A lot of it is free!


Get it? Stuck in the house?

In addition to the stuff below, the Internet Archive is an insanely huge rabbit hole you can lose yourself in. There are tons of videos, books, magazines and more like:

Fangoria archive
Pulp magazines
Home Console games 
Classic Arcade Games
 1975 Haunted Mansion Operations Manual
Coloring Books

Movies

Streaming horror service Shudder is offering a 30 day free trial for new users with promo code SHUTIN.

Also, if you're a horror fan, the Spooky Vegan has a rundown of the freaky flicks currently available on Shudder, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

Books

Speaking of Amazon, you can get a free, two month Kindle Unlimited trial if you sign up before April 30th. New users only.

Audible Stories has a selection of streaming free audio books for tiny tykes to teens as well as literary classics. You don't even have to sign up, just click and listen.

Fusion Books is offering a few issues of their gaming magazine Fusion as free PDFs. Each issue has articles on retro, current gen, indie, and tabletop gaming. (Links: 1, 2, 3) They're also giving away the book 8-bit Kids, which I highly recommend if you're a gamer and grew up in the 70s and/or 80s.

Comic Books

The Digital Comic Museum is an online archive dedicated to Golden Age comics. You can read online, or if you sign up for a free account, you can download them. Pro Tip: There is a search bar at the top of the page.

Tabletop Games

Cryptozoic Entertainment is having a huge sale on a lot of their games and offer free shipping with orders over $50. They have several Rick & Morty themed games, the DC Deckbuilding game, and even a Challenge of the Superfriends card game!

If you're looking to get your RPG on without actually gathering friends together, Astral is offering the use of their virtual tabletop software, with all paid features enabled, through April.


Video Games

Steam has a handful of free games:  Tomb Raider, Deiland, Headsnatchers, Drawful 2, Goat of Duty, Pleasure PuzzlePortrait, Lara Croft and The Temple of Osiris.

I grabbed Tomb Raider and Goat of Duty. Goat is a lot of fun if you like FPS deathmatch!

Epic Games has The Stanley Parable and Watch Dogs in addition to a handful of other always free to play games.

I also have a ton of unused Steam codes to give away!
Feel free to take a couple and I will update the post as games are claimed.

Mar 11, 2020

Battle Tribes - Grid Wave

A couple weeks ago Spy Monkey Creations let loose their most recent wave of Battle Tribes figures and this time they're going back to the game grid!



Credit: @Battle Tribes

As you can see, this latest wave of figures is an homage to the original 1982 Tron figures by Tomy. To say I was thrilled about the announcement would be an understatement. Luckily, I was able to grab the whole wave as they sold out pretty quick! Let's get a closer look at the programs.


First is the Grid Avatar in the role of Flynn. If you're familiar with the Battle Tribes figures, you know that each figure comes with multiple heads and weapons. Since we're looking at four figures, I didn't take a ton of pics of the different combos you can make with each figure. If you want to see all the parts, head over to Spy Monkey Creations.

I don't know what the official names of each type of figure are but I call this one the barbarian. Mainly because it comes with a Conan-style head and a furry vest. The shield is the closest thing any of the figures have to an identity disc and I'm a little disappointed no one else has one but I understand when they do the figures, each "style" has its own accessories.


Here's the Avatar with barbarian head and vest, although you can't really see it. They did an outstanding job with the digital markings on all the figures, especially the tiny back of the hand ones. I used a blue light here to give him a more electric look.

I got the colored lights I used at a Dollar Tree of all places! They're little plastic things that are meant to be worn on your fingers but they work great for shooting action figures.


This is the Grid Enforcer, taking the part of the Warrior. With this goblin/imp head I think it looks like a nasty virus that could infect your system. I used the Dollar Tree lights again here. They really light up the translucent plastic.


Here we have the Grid Overlord, standing in for Sark. In addition to more "normal" accessories, he's got a claw hand and a big mech fist. I usually call this one sci-fi guard because of the heads and chest armor piece.


Each of the figures has a couple of  glow in the dark accessories and one GITD head. The glowy bits are a natural way to go with Tron inspired figures but in my opinion, the heads don't work that well because they have no details colored in like the regular heads.


Fighting for the User is the Grid Champion. This guy is a wrestler style figure, which means he gets a little sidekick and a bunch of food heads, similar to the Spicy Pumpkin figure I talked about a couple months ago. Not my personal favorite style of figure because it's got a variety of heads instead of weapons.


Tron himself stopped by to show the Champion how to sling a disc.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...