Sunday, May 30, 2010

ANGELS, ALIENS AND VAMPIRES! A TRIPLE FEATURE OF LEGION, OUTLANDER AND DAYBREAKERS!

My bangin' buddy Phileas Photon zapped into my lab yesterday with a trio of wicked cool blu-ray discs for us to watch. I say "zapped" because even though we contact each other through space and time via email to set up our monthly movie marathons (you'll have to ask Phileas how that works - I flunked out of Introductory Physics in High School), Phileas has the bad habit of just appearing at my crib out of thin air, which is always accompanied by this loud electrical zapping noise!  I brewed up a pot of his favorite caffeinated beverage and served it to him black and strong - not the way he likes his women - but that's a topic for another blog.


Our first feature of the day was Legion, a film released to theaters earlier this year to almost universal suck ass reviews. If you aren't familiar with the concept of Legion, it purports to be about God losing his faith in humanity and sending a legion of his angels to destroy his children. His once favorite angel Michael disobeys orders and stands with a group of humans at a desert diner to protect a women who is pregnant with a child that has some sort of hidden destiny. Legion is best enjoyed if you turn off your brain and just groove on the the tasty visuals and kick-ass action sequences. Unfortunately, this freak often can't let sleeping dogs lie (Legion doesn't quite qualify as a dog -- maybe a lost puppy though) and although I enjoyed the mostly snappy dialogue, attractive actors and well choreographed action scenes, I kept wondering two things: Who was the father of the child and why was he so damned important to cause Micheal to side against God? Unless I slept through the answers to these questions they are never given a satisfactory explanation by the writers of Legion. I can only recommend Legion to those who don't care about biblical accuracy and like their ultraviolence without any meaningful reasoning behind it. I liked Legion, but only as a quick bite to eat at a fast food joint, where you're thankful afterwards that you didn't suffer heartburn.





Our second flick was Outlander, which had a very limited release here in the USA early last year. Outlander is a classic example of a film that - in the case of this country at least - the film company didn't know how to promote it. As a result, I don't tink it was given a fair chance to find an audience. Outlander is an odd blend of science fiction and historical fantasy. The plot concerns a human-looking pilot of spaceship crashing on Earth in Norway in year 709AD. He had a deadly monstrous passenger on board that also escaped the crash. Kainan befriends a local tribe and helps them to hunt down the alien creature that is attacking their village and feeding on its people. In the course of killing the creature, Kainan finds friendship, love and more with the tribe and decides to stay with them. This is a well told tale, with adventure, action, and drama galore! It has a wonderful cast that includes John Hurt, Sophia Myles, Ron Perlman and Jim Caviezel as Kanin, who recently starred in AMC's remake of The Prisoner. I urge anyone who likes science fiction, fantasy, historical drama or just a wicked good action drama to give Outlander at try. It won't leave you hungry, but very full indeed!




Our final feature for the day was Daybreakers, which coincidentally was released to theaters just two weeks prior to our first feature Legion. Daybreakers is similar to Outlander in that it combines two distinctly different genres: In this case horror creatures in a science fictional setting, the near future. I had become interested in Daybreakers when I found out that it was directed and written by the Spierig brothers, who had directed and self-financed their first feature, 2003's unheralded zombie film, Undead. I missed Daybreakers at its limited run at the theater, so I wanted to see the blu-ray release as soon as possible. The basic premise of Daybreakers is that in the year 2019, most of the human population has been transformed into vampires, which results in a shortage of human blood for the vampires to feed on. A mega-corporation is secretly harvesting human blood to sell to the rapidly growing demand and in the meantime looking to create a synthetic blood substitute to reap even more profits for the company. The head researcher for the synth-blood substitute becomes involved with a small group of free human rebels and helps them to bring down the vampire run population. This outrageous plot, once excepted, opens the door for many interesting ethical questions, which Daybreakers spends an adequate amount of time delving into. Much like The Matrix, Daybreakers uses the format of an action-science fiction film to help drive the plot and the message. As a fan of both the horror and sf genres, I recommend Daybreakers highly. Unlike the many mainstream critics, I don't think that this film sucks the lifeblood out of your need for intelligent storytelling or exciting action adventure!


With another zap and an additional pop, Phileas left through another time wormhole, taking his blu-ray films and leaving this film freak to await another time for watching more wicked cool genre movies in his multimedia laboratory. Until my next movie m√©lange, this is "Doc" Freak signing off.

Friday, May 21, 2010

WICKED COOL GHOUL INTERVIEW!


I just read the most boffo socko article and interview of Ron "The Ghoul" Sweed ever! Detroit's Metro Times had a cover feature story by Anita Schmaltz on my favorite bearded maniac, The Ghoul! It briefly detailed the history of Detroit's love of all things Ghoul, then segued into an interview with Ron's mom, Ron himself and his current wife.


Here are some great quotes from Ron's mom Irene Barnard:

"Ron was very different right from the time he came out of the chute. It started out when he was about 3, maybe 4 years old. His grandfather took him downtown to see Santa Claus, and he was going to buy him one Christmas present, like maybe a football or a baseball or a catcher’s mitt. Ron picked out a hand puppet, and he couldn’t be dissuaded to give that up. As early as that, he wanted to entertain."

"He and a bunch of kids one day went to the neighboring show which was, oh, maybe a half hour’s distance from our house. And the matinee show should have been over maybe 4 o’clock, maybe 4:15, and I waited, and I waited, and I began to sorta worry, then, all of a sudden, I see this crowd of kids come walking down the street, and I knew ... Ron is in the middle of this crowd, and he was. What had happened ... this was some sort of a fright show at the Shore Theater in Euclid. Unbeknownst to me, he said this was tossed into the rubbish. It was a gorilla suit, and he wore it coming home. He said that it was just thrown out in the trash. I was very gullible. I believed that. That poor guy lost his gorilla suit. This is how he met Ernie Anderson"

Here is a great quote from Ron's wife Mary Terese Matousek:

"It’s just been amazing to me. The first time I saw him, he was at a small club (in Cleveland). It was like a Thursday so there weren’t a lot of people. But we went to Detroit, at the Magic Bag, the first time I saw him do a big live show. It was amazing to see how the people responded to him. I mean, literally, his foot hit the stage, and everybody in the whole place just got to their feet. It sent chills up and down my spine."

Here are some great quotes from Ron "The Ghoul" Sweed himself:

"My friends and I went to a afternoon matinee of [in a carnival barker’s tone] “Dr. Silkini and his live stage show of horrors, on stage in person, the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, King Kong and 45 horror movies,” you know, all in one afternoon. Well, hey, can’t pass that up. You know, that’s almost as good as Christmas. All the kids are screaming, throwing popcorn at the Frankenstein Monster. We weren’t very kind 13-year-olds … Then the show was over, so we took this short-cut home which was through a back alley. Silkini was loading up to go home. It was his misfortune to have left an open trunk with a gorilla suit there."

"I always had a fascination for gorilla suits. You know, The Three Stooges always had some gorilla in it, some of those old B-movies. Yeah, look around, there’s no Dr. Silkini, Hot damn! I got a gorilla suit. … We were walking from one street to another to get to our street just gathering more people, 'Hey, a gorilla! Look at that!' "

To read the entire Metro Times article on Ron Sweed  go to http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=2251 and tell 'em "Doc" Freak sent ya!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I, ZOMBIE - A NEW TAKE ON ZOMBIE COMICS




I’ve been reading lots of wicked cool horror comics lately, but a new comic that has a unique feel to it is I, Zombie published by DC’s Vertigo line of comics. I was drawn (no pun intended) to this title by Mike Allred’s art, as I’ve been a long-time fan of his Madman comics for years. However, once I read the first issue of I, Zombie - a bargain at the introductory price of just $1.00 – I was even more impressed by the subtle writing style of Chris Roberson. Roberson gradually introduces you to the setting (Eugene, Oregon), the main character (Gwen Dylan) her occupation (gravedigger) and her unusual friends (Ellie – a ghost - and Scott: aka: Spot – a were-terrier). Not until the end of the first issue is it confirmed that our P.O.V. character Gwen is a zombie and that she needs to eat a fresh human brain at least once-a-month or she will go all “Night of the Living Dead”. Unfortunately, eating recently deceased human brains has a nasty side effect for Gwen – other than their foul taste: She is overcome by the dead person’s recent memories. In the case of her most recent meal, those thoughts include his murder and she finds herself compelled to find his murderer. I, Zombie is a unique blend of horror, mystery and humor that I recommend to fans of any of these genres. Check it out freaks!

Check out a short preview story introducing Gwen and her friends from I, Zombie, that was originally published in The House of Mystery Halloween Annual last October.











Sunday, May 9, 2010

HELLBOY IN MEXICO!



Hola, mis amigos! It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you cool ghouls on the wicked pissa shiznit that I’ve been down with lately, but you’ll have to trust this freak when he tells you I have been keeping busy! I’ve read mucho comic books over the years, but one of my hands-down favorites has been Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics. I have been a fan of big red since his first mini-series Seed of Destruction was first published in 1994! Most horror fans probably are only familiar with Hellboy, and its spin-off comic series B.P.R.D., from the Guillerom del Toro directed films. So you noobs will have to take my word for it that the Mignola written comic books are way bitchin’ better!

A malos buena introduction to Hellboy just came to a comic book store near you! It’s Hellboy in Mexico - a one-shot comic written by Mike Mignola and drawn by Richard Corben! It tells the story of Hellboy’s “lost weekend” in Mexico back in 1956, when he was still a young demon in the employ of The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He is sent there to investigate stink holes from Hell that are spewing up monsters that wipe out whole towns in Mexico. Soon, he runs into three brothers who are masked wrestlers, or luchadores, who were sent by the virgin Mary to fight monsters! For a month, Hellboy joins los tres luchadores: kills monsters by day and parties hardy by night. Tragedy strikes one of the masked brothers one night and it is up to Hellboy to put things right. I am only a casual fan of Mexico’s masked wrestlers, but I have watched several El Santo films (El Santo is considered the most famous and iconic of all Mexican luchadores – the Hulk Hogan of Mexican wrestling isn’t even a fair comparison). I was jazzed when I first read that Dark Horse comics was finally going to publish a story about this undocumented adventure of Hellboy! Although only 26 pages long, Hellboy in Mexico packs a lot of action, humor, horror and pathos into this story! Please do yourself a favor horror fans and buy this comic!

Here is an excerpt of an interview with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola on writing Hellboy in Mexico:

EDITOR: So what brings Hellboy south of the border?


MIGNOLA: Something really bad was going on down in Mexico, so the B.P.R.D. sent Hellboy. The story takes place back in 1957, and back then HB just went where the Bureau sent him, that was his job.


EDITOR: Mexico has such rich folklore, especially in regard to the supernatural. How much research did you do for Hellboy in Mexico?


MIGNOLA: Almost none. This isn't one of those stories that's heavily folklore based. I did find out that down in Mexico vampires sometimes take the form of turkeys. It was a challenge working that in.


EDITOR: Hellboy in Mexico reunites you with artist Richard Corben, whom you've worked with on previous Hellboy series. Are you excited to be working with Richard again? What is it about Richard's distinct style that seems such a logical fit for Hellboy?


MIGNOLA: Hard to say. Stylistically he's not much like me, but he's just great. He can draw anything and is especially great (I think) at stuff that is crumbling at the edges, stuff that's dented, banged up, dirty, and overgrown. That was a feel that was very important to have here as it was in The Crooked Man.


EDITOR: Hellboy has been to a lot of different places in his travels. Russia, England, even the backwoods of the American south. Where else in the world would you like Hellboy to visit? Australia? Cleveland?


MIGNOLA: In my mind Hellboy has been every place at least once, it's just a matter of doing my homework about some of those more exotic locales (like Cleveland). Just about every place has some legend about a monster that needs fighting.


EDITOR: You've got several ongoing titles with Dark Horse (Ape Sapien, B.P.R.D., Witchfinder), but you'll always be best known for Hellboy. Is writing for Hellboy a more personal process for you than when you're working on other titles?


MIGNOLA: Hellboy is the most personal. He was the first, and I know his story better than I know all the others. Most of the other titles I just cowrite, which usually means just a few notes or phone calls from me. John Arcudi is doing all the serious heavy lifting on B.P.R.D. That book is great because of John and Guy Davis.


EDITOR: You've mentioned in prior interviews that you got into comics because you love drawing monsters. Do you write based on which monsters would be interesting to see in your books?

MIGNOLA: A few of the stories I drew myself were simply excuses to draw a particular monster. When I'm writing a story but not drawing it, I need a bit more of a story. And the beauty of that is that I can ask the artist to draw things I can't (or just don't want) to draw. That's the good thing about working with guys like Corben and Fegredo. They can draw anything