Sep 30, 2013

Monthly Movie Recap - September 2013

Well, not a whole lot of movie watching this past month. Mainly due to me spending a lot of movie time watching season 1 of American Horror Story and getting blown away and/or obsessed with it. If you haven't seen it, I can't recommend it highly enough. Although, it's not for everyone.

Also, this is up a day early due to the Countdown to Halloween starting (officially) tomorrow!

I'm a little on the fence with this one. If I had caught it in theaters I think I would have been a little let down with it. But having seen it at home, I really enjoyed it! I think it's pretty ballsy of them to put out a different kind of zombie movie at a time when zombies are at their mass media peek.

Cool: Telling a story from the zombie's point of view makes for some original humor
Lame: The effects for the "Boners" aren't great but they do look a bit Harryhausen-esque so it's not all bad
Rating: 6.5/10

I almost always see Pixar movies when they're released (excepting anything in the Cars-verse) but somehow this one slipped by me. I'd been hearing for years how awesome just the first 10 minutes of Up are and I wasn't let down. Why they hell aren't these people writing for live action?

Cool: The character work is amazing, you really get attached to them; Squirrel!
Lame: Me, for not seeing this sooner!
Rating: 8.5/10

Wizard of Oz (1939) IMAX 3D
To celebrate its 75th Anniversary, we're off to see the Wizard in IMAX 3D! Considering how old the movie is and that it was a post conversion, I thought it looked great. Better in some places than others but I really feel they did the best with what they had. It's a little weird watching this after seeing Oz: The Great & Powerful. Did he know he was sending Dorothy to kill his ex when he asked for her broom?

Cool: They added depth to all those flat backdrops; I'm still blown away by the production design
Lame: Being in IMAX, you can see some of the prosthetic makeup work that you've never noticed before
Rating: 9/10

World War Z (2013)
One of the best things I can say about this is that it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I am still a bit annoyed they didn't do more of an adaptation of the book but on the other hand it's so huge in scope it would take several movies to do it justice. They got a little tiny bit of it in here.

Cool: When there's action, it grabs you and pulls you along
In-Between: I didn't really notice the lack of gore in this PG13 movie until I stopped to think about it
Lame: I don't mind fast zombies but when they swarm it's obvious they're repeating CG models in the crowds; Don't like the way the zombies twitch, it looks too weird.
Rating: 5.5/10

Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyon
The best thing I can say about this is that it's not the worst movie I've ever seen. The trailer tells you pretty much everything you need to know about it except that it takes way too long trying to establish the people as characters.

Cool: Buyan is a dude in a suit, it may not look great close up but I have to give them props for practical makeup
Lame: Oh, where to start? Overuse of bad CGI/green screening, gore that looks like it's from a video game, "acting"
Rating: 3.5/10, so bad it's good but force some friends to watch with you!

Month Total
 New:4; Rewatch: 1

Year to Date
New: 63, Rewatch:2

Sep 26, 2013

September 2013 Loot Crate: Animate

Loot Crate has provided me with this product in exchange for my honest opinions.

I have to say, when I found out the theme of the September Loot Crate was Animate I got pretty excited. Almost as excited as when the April theme was Token (for video games). But let's face it, there are very few topics that would get me more eagerly anticipating a Crate than classic video games.

Grab a big bowl of cereal because we're going around the dial!
(for you younger kids, TVs used to be these non-flat boxy things that had dials on them to change the channels and *gasp!* no remotes)

Loot Crate September 2013 Animate TMNT Funko

Let me tell ya, any Loot Crate with Funko in it is already way ahead, in fact it may make it OVER 9000, like that sticker! Little Leonardo is too cute for words, although he's probably my 3rd favorite TMNT. According to the enclosed guide, you may have received any of the four. There's a Pikachu sticker from the humorous (and NSFW) video from Egoraptor. and a cool Star Wars/TMNT mashup magnet. Here's a close-up...

Loot Crate September 2013 Animate Star Wars TMNT magnet

And next up is-
I'm ready for my close-up!

Loot Crate September 2013 Animate Stimpy plush

Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Stimpy!
Can you back up a little so I can get everything in the shot?

Loot Crate September 2013 Animate Family Guy Stewie Lip Balm Stimpy plush

Ah, there we go. You don't always get all the same stuff as other Looters. For instance, the Lip Balm could have been Yoshi instead of Stewie. Even though he's probably been animated at some point, I think the Family Guy branding fits better. I'm not a lip balm guy but I am headed to Florida soon and I do like cinnamon, so maybe I'll test it out.
If it had SPF, I'd be more likely to use it.

Another for instance: some people will get Ren! Stimpy's ear tag says he talks but when you squeeze him the only sound he makes is what I can only describe as a cartoon blinking sound effect. I tried several times, that's the only sound he makes. Weird. His tongue is also a little stretchy so you can pull that out a bit if you want. Odd features aside, he'll look cool sitting around. During my unboxing, I discovered my wife of 11 years does not
know who Ren & Stimpy are!

Loot Crate September 2013 Animate Kidrobot Futurama Zapp Brannigan keychain

Yay, blind box item! These are so much fun because you never know what you're going to get. Some people will get Simpsons characters instead. These character keychains were done by kidrobot, one of the bigger names in vinyl toys. Zapp Brannigan may not be most people's first choice but he's alright by me. My only complaint is that with his small stature,
he can't really show off his too short uniform.

And to answer my curiosity from last month, the mini-mag is indeed replacing the former postcard that detailed what should be in your Crate.

Loot Crate September 2013 Animate magazine

I really like getting this mini-mag in the box. It definitely gives you more of a sense of community than the postcard! And it also lets them dish out more info and spotlight Looters.

Loot Crate September 2013 Animate

I have to say this month's crate was well worth the admission!
If you want to get cool stuff like this, head over to Loot Crate and use
 promo code AEIOUWHY for 10% off your order.

Sep 25, 2013

Now Hear This - Pre-Halloween Edition

With October less than a week away, you might be on the lookout for some new audio delicacies to spook-ify your Halloween season. And I'm here to help you!

I have to take a moment to completely gush like an exsanguinated body over the latest release from horror rock band Calabrese, who are also one of my absolute favorite bands right now! The album is called Born with a Scorpion's Touch, which is also the first single.

I got my copy in the mail the other day (it pays to pre-order!) and I have not stopped listening to it. The boys seem to be exploring some new territory on this one and I am loving it. I have to say they've really surprised me with a few of the tracks on here because they're so different from what you'd expect after hearing previous albums. I'm anticipating some people not being thrilled with the new direction and will probably accuse them of selling out.
Screw them! If a band doesn't evolve, it gets old and dies.

Anyway, Born with a Scorpion's Touch rises from the earth on October 1st and you can get it from the Calabrese site. Believe in Rock n Roll!

The second offering is one I only just recently discovered myself.
It's from Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks and is called Halloween is Here.

From their website:
"Halloween Is Here" is a terrifying tribute to all those strange and obscure Halloween albums from the 1950s to the 1980s. It contains twelve spooky stories and monstrous sing-a-longs for your unholy holiday party at the local insane asylum.

If the album art and that description weren't enough to sell me (which they are!) it was also being released on a limited edition green 12" vinyl. I say was because those are all sold out! The CD is limited to 300 copies which you can pre-order directly from them. You can listen to song clips there as well. This album also drops on October 1st.

I also recommend poking around the site and checking out their other albums. Their sound has been described as gothic country, as if country music wasn't depressing enough!

Lastly, there's a new track from Creature Feature! Although I only own one of their albums (Greatest Show Unearthed), they're right up there on my Halloween playlist.

You can get the new single, Netherworld, on iTunes and since they're 100% independent, it will help them crank out more tunes and videos for October. Head on over to their site where you can sample other songs and check out their bio to see if you might dig them like a grave.

I first found out about them because Gris Grimly did the artwork for the first couple albums. And after hearing "A Gorey Demise" I was an instant fan!

If you've got any Halloween music recommendations that are slightly off the beaten path, go ahead and let me know in the comments. I'm always up for hearing something new!

Sep 23, 2013

2013 Halloween Lottery Tickets

While certain department stores might be dragging their heels getting out the spooky seasonal sundries, the local lottery commission is always on the ball.

Here's the MA 2013 scratch ticket.

Massachusetts 2013 Halloween lottery ticket

I did not win a thing on it!

I started a Flickr group where people can post their own state Halloween tickets.
Help out if you can and please scan before you scratch.

In case you missed it, I'm doing a giveaway for postcards from Salem MA and Disney'd Haunted Mansion. If you want to get in the running, head to the bottom of this post.

Sep 17, 2013

Halloween Retail Ranting & Contest

Dear Target, what is up with you and Halloween this year?

By this time every year, I can usually count on you to be in full on Halloween mode. Costumes, candy and seasonal exclusives should be vying for my attention come mid-September, and yet, they're not. Back to School went out at the end of July. It should be gone, you know, when the kids are back in school. But you know what will happen? Christmas stuff will be out a week before Halloween.

It's not to say you're not trying, but try HARDER. Halloween is not something you should be half-assing. I've been checking my stores since the start of this month and it seems every week a little more (very little) is out on the shelves. While you may associate Halloween with creeping, merch should not creep on to the sales floor week by week, it should appear like I just said Candyman three times in a mirror.

 I did manage to find some of the retro General Mills monster cereals this weekend (below). Almost every box had some manner of ding, dent or crush damage. Probably nothing to the average consumer, but is the average consumer the person these boxes are meant for?

And while I'm ranting, you also killed one of my favorite things about Halloween: the Target exclusive Hot Wheels set. Honestly, I"m not sure if I should be directing this loathing at Target or Mattel. Long time readers may remember my unhappiness with the 2012 set. At least that one had an awesome deco for of the cars that I couldn't pass up. This year? The set has gone down from 5 cars to 4 cars. Know what didn't change? The price! 
I can go buy 4 single cars for less than this "exclusive" "Halloween" set.

So pissed off about this, I didn't waste the time to take a good photo.
If the Skull Crusher (top) was unique to this set, I might have been persuaded to buy it. Guess what? You can buy it on a single card. Not only that, but the white one below it, Bad Raditude, is also on a single card and is black/red instead of white/blue. It's a black car with a (black) cat head on it! I'd been on the fence about picking it up but now I think I will just to spite this junk pile. Luckily for me, Shawn from Branded in the 80s found me some real Halloween Hot Wheels at his Kroger. Those will get loving posts!

Whew! Well, I sorta apologize for my rant there. But really, the only people who will understand my pain are people that follow this blog, my kindred spirits. I should mention I did find some epic items in their dollar spot but those are being saved for October.

On to the fun stuff!

If you blog and love Halloween, check out Countdown to Halloween where they've just posted this year's blog badges. And also Crooked Ninja Turtle's Blog-O-Ween.

I've been getting asked if I'm hosting the Great Pumpkin Exchange like last year. While it was probably an overall 85-90% success, I won't have time for it this year. The first week and a half of October I'll be visiting DisneyWorld and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

What I will be doing again this year is postcards!
I'll randomly pick winners to receive a postcard from Salem MA with an October cancellation on it. They won't go in the mail til the second week of the month, but you should get them in plenty of time for Halloween. Don't worry! These won't be the vanilla postcards you can get anywhere with Salem slapped on them. I take special care picking them out to fit the season. As an added bonus, since I have the opportunity, I'll pick a few random souls for Haunted Mansion postcards too. You may win one or the other, or both!

The contest is only open to US residents (sorry!). Actual number of winners will vary dependind on how many people enter. To avoid winner notification emails getting lost in your spam filters, you'll need to fill in your mailing info in the form below. The info is only seen, and used by, me. Once the winners are picked, the collected info is deleted.

Please be sure to select the option in the Rafflecopter widget
to say you've added your address!

Sep 13, 2013

League Post - Blue

It’s been a while since we've had a photo assignment for the weekly League of Extraordinary Blogger’s challenge. We've done green, and we've done red, so how about this time we do:


And once again, I'm taking a little creative leeway with the topic to line it up with something I was going to blog about anyway. Thanks to Tom Berges and the Facebook group I Grew Up Star Wars, I won a pack of vintage Star Wars trading cards!
It's not much, but it's the little things, right?

If you grew up during the Original Trilogy time, or you just want to see the first generation of Star Wars kids, you should check out the full website for a blast down memory lane.

star wars 1997 trading cards series 5 orange topps

So, this would have been a lot better had it been a pack of Series 1 trading cards because those were the blue cards. This is where I'm kinda stretching things, the wrapper is blue. I'm also using a blue background for bonus points! Although the gum was broken, it was in otherwise decent looking shape. Not moldy like the pieces in the Dinosaurs Attack! packs I got awhile back. Unlike Monica Lewinsky (blue dress!), I did not put it in my mouth. Heeeeyyy-o!

star wars 1997 trading cards series 5 orange topps

Oh, hey, look at that! The cards have a blue star burst in the corner! Series 5 had a lot of behind the scenes type stuff. Probably because they'd already cranked out four other 66 card sets in the same year and needed more material. But that's why this kid loved these cards. Between these and magazines, that was you're only way of getting that kind of info at the time. Card backs are how I learned who the main actors were.

One thing I always found interesting was that they kept the numbering of cards and stickers across the five series instead of starting over at 1 every new series, so these are all up in the 200-300 range.

star wars 1997 trading cards series 5 orange topps

Luke is in a weird pose there (middle) like he's gotta go right now and is trying to hold it. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing anything that resembled a toilet in Leia's cell on the Death Star. Maybe it's one of those kinda things where it retracts into the wall when you're not using it. File under: things you shouldn't think about.

I tell ya, if the tactile memory of opening a wax pack and the aromatic memory of the gum didn't already take me back to 1977, the feel of the sticker card (right) in my hand really did the trick. Why, the sticker more than the cards themselves? I couldn't say, just something about how the sticker is a different card stock.

See what other League Members are Blue about
The Monster Cafe has a blue Topps connection
A barrage of retro blue-ness waits at Neato Coolville
The Goodwill Geek breaks out a bevy of blue baubles

Sep 11, 2013

My Top 5 Toons: Retro Sci-Fi Edition

The September Loot Crate theme was recently announced as "Animate" so we can be sure they'll deliver some cartoon related goodies this month. It might be too much to hope to get a little something from all the franchises on the TV screens above but if it's as good as the
Arcade Crate from April, I'll be a happy camper.

Other members in the community are doing "Top 5 Animated" lists so I thought I'd join in with my own spin. Doing a general Top 5 animated series of all time would be a daunting task to say the least so I narrowed the focus to sci-fi toons from my childhood.

Sep 9, 2013

Monday Miscellany

Sometimes you spend your free brain time over the weekend racking it for something to blog about. I'm prodding myself in the direction of coming up with something occasionally that doesn't involve me trying to setup and photograph small things. I love taking photos but it can be a pain to set up the "studio", and I use that word very loosely.

What did I come up with? Truthfully, nothing very original, just some cool stuff I found around the web. But I figure if you're reading this, we probably share some brain waves and I'll at least allow you to waste some of your day in a fun way. 

Clue the movie cult classic

Buzzfeed has an amazing article about the cult classic Clue. While I love the movie, I've never delved deeply into the behind the scenes or trivia. Two of the things I learned:
  • Carrie Fisher was originally cast as Miss Scarlet
  • Kahn's "flames" speech was only in one of the endings so 2/3 of the people that saw it in the theater didn't see it!
Tommy Day Boxsome trading card sale

Pal of the blog and keeper of Tophat Sasquatch, Tommy Day, is running a 50% off sale on his trading card site Boxsome from now until Wednesday the 11th. Not only can you buy packs of trading cards from the 80s/90s for just $1.50 each but he always throws in some extras like single cards, pogs and stickers. Who doesn't love getting nostalgia-y goodness?

If you need to be taken back to those childhood days of opening a pack of cards and inhaling that unforgettable scent of the included stick of gum, this is worth every penny! Personally, I would not recommend eating the gum. In one of the packs I opened, it was a little moldy...or something. Maybe it was mutating, I'm not sure. It was from a Dinosaurs Attack! pack so maybe it picked something up from the Timescanning process.

If you love Star Wars but just don't have the time to watch it, check out this video which nicely summarizes the film in 60 seconds. Although you may have to go back and watch it a few times to catch everything because it moves so fast and there's a lot going on!

Wizard of Oz 75th anniversary

Lastly, Warner Brothers has all sorts of things brewing for the 75th Anniversary celebration of The Wizard of Oz (Happy Meals!). When you ask me to list favorite movies I probably won't site this one and I really should! I saw it in a DLP theater a few years ago when it was released on BluRay and really, there's no home system that can compare to seeing it in a theater with kids and their parents. When you look at some of the pure eye-candy junk that Hollywood turns out these days, you still forget this was made in 1939.
Just goes to show, story matters!

It's coming to IMAX 3D for one week starting September 20th (we've already got our tickets) before the 75th Anniv. Limited Collector's Edition BluRay/DVD set is released. I hate double dipping on movies as much as the next flying monkey but this thing is PACKED!
It's worth it just for that thumb drive (bottom right). Ok, maybe not $80...

There's also a companion book that will have a lot never seen before stuff like Technicolor test frames and costume designs stills as well as some pull out items.
I'm a sucker for those kind of books!


Sep 5, 2013

League Post - My Name Is...

League of Extraordinary Bloggers

Inigo Montoya? Nope.
Slim Shady? Nuh-uh.
Jonas? Still no.
Earl? I do have some karma to set right, but no.

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers wants to know who, who, who are you?
And believe me, they won't get fooled again!
(make it stop!)

Hello, my name is… Tell us a little about yourself — even if we all know who you are, there are plenty of new folks wondering if you’re in fact a dog.

Where to start? I generally go by the name Dex, online and in the "real world." In high school, my group of friends had a few Eds so we all had specific names to avoid confusion and the truncated version of my last name has stuck with me. It's kinda like having a secret identity apart from my public everyday persona.

I've been a Star Wars geek since there's been Star Wars. The only time I haven't loved Star Wars were the six years of my life before there was Star Wars. I don't blog a whole lot about it but I should be, at least more than I am. As corny as it sounds, I can only try to imagine what my life would have been like without it. I've met so many great friends (and my wife!) because we share a common love of a movie. Crazy ain't it?

Sep 3, 2013

Loot Crate "Cake" - August 2013

The passing of a month means two things around here. One, there's going to be a Monthly Movie Recap and two, there's going to be a Loot Crate review! The fine folks at Loot Crate provide me with a box of awesome in exchange for dragon eggs each month.
Dragon eggs, or a blog review...I know it's one of those things.

Loot Crate Cake August 2013

It's time to play Brad Pitt's favorite game: What's in the BOX?!?

The theme for August was "Cake" because Loot Crate is celebrating its one year anniversary/birthday. Sadly, they did not send actual cake. But given what all was packed in the box, that may be a good thing! Or maybe the cake is a lie...more on that later.

Sep 1, 2013

Monthly Movie Recap - August 2013

Egads! Can you believe it's September already?! Can you believe someone outside a musty comic book used the exclamation egads? The majority if films I took in this month were recent, which is definitely a change from the norm!

Zero Effect (1998)
I had no idea this movie even existed before hearing about it from the Cult Film Club. It's a little off-beat and quirky and turns into a pretty good detective movie. Was getting a little Fletch vibe while watching it.

Cool: Pullman does a great job at being a Holmes-like detective; good soundtrack
Lame: I was just not into the Stiller-only scenes, which weren't many.
Rating: 6/10

The Heat (2013)
Hey, it's a buddy cop movie with two completely opposite personality types that are forced to get along! It was entertaining and I was certainly laughing but some of it was from McCarthy's creative slinging of profanity.

Cool: It was mostly shot in my neck of the woods. The Denny's in the movie is one I drive by frequently.
Lame: A few minor roles were done by people that could be really funny if given the chance; No post-credits outtakes?!
Rating: 5.5/10

Freaked (1993)
What the Hell did I just watch?! Whatever it was, it was Awesome!! I felt like I was watching Garbage Pail Kids by way of Ed Roth, it's just that kind of disgusting, gross-out goodness

Cool: Great cast including an uncredited Keanu as Dogboy
Lame: I can only imagine how much awesomer this would have been if the post-production budget hadn't been cut
Rating: 7.5/10

The Wolverine (2013)
While it may not quite be the Wolverine film I've been waiting for, it's a hell of a lot better than his last solo outing. One day, someone will have the balls to make an R rated Wolverine movie. That's the one I want!

Cool: Big props for having the stones to do an actual story instead of an all-out superhero action flick
Lame: The actress playing Viper! I don't mind how they changed the character but this actress, ugh! Plus it sounded like all her dialog was done ADR.
Rating: 7/10

Detention of the Dead (2013)
Stop me if you've heard this one before: a jock, pretty girl, nerd, burnout and an alterna-girl are stuck in detention together. Sound familiar? Now add zombies! Sound awesome? It does, but that's not this movie.

Cool: The best thing about this movie for me was the soundtrack
Lame: I'd say it feels like something made for YouTube but I've seen much better stuff there
Rating: 4/10, check out Dance of the Dead for a better high school zombie flick

Sexy Evil Genius (2013)
If you'd told me I'd really enjoy a film where 95% of it takes place with the characters talking around a table at a bar, I would never believe it. I was drawn to this one because of the genre TV stars and enjoyed it so much beyond that. It's got a modern-noir vibe to it.

Cool:  I haven't watched the recent BSG so I haven't see Sackhoff in much but she is great in this; the slow Hitchcockian revealing of the plot.
Lame: Seeing Oz and Dawn smooch is still a little disturbing no matter how long ago Buffy ended.
Rating: 8.5/10

Men in Black 3 (2012)
I saw MiB 2 when it came out and only vaguely remember thinking it wasn't that great of a sequel. With 3, I feel like they got they're groove back and it was a lot of fun! I especially enjoy how they tied everything together at the end.

Cool: Brolin's young K is about as perfect as it gets; retro-aliens in the 60s
Lame: The main baddie was just a little too weird
Rating: 7/10

Saturday Morning Mystery (2012) aka Saturday Morning Massacre
A group of young paranormal investigators and their dog drive around in a van and bust spooks. I know it sounds familiar, but this is taking the Scooby-Doo template in a non-cartoony, fairly standard horror movie direction.

Cool: The first case they open the movie with was a good homage to the Scooby Gang.
Lame: Effects are so-so
Rating: 5/10

Month Total

Year to Date
New: 59, Rewatch:1