Wednesday, June 27, 2012


In the first part of Zombzany and the Missing Maniac -- which I've titled "Contractual Obligations" -- Zombzany is standing before his throne in the midst of a heated argument over the phone with his agent, Cain Ram O’Jam. Cain has hired Zombzany out once again to a local sci-fi club for their annual horror movie marathon. Cain insists that this time all the films will be genuine zombie films and live up to Zombzany’s high cinematic standards. Zombzany reluctantly agrees to the engagement and proceeds to prepare for yet another long evening of horror films.

Enjoy Zombzany and the Missing Maniac: Part One – Contractual Obligations.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


“I do think Chronicle goes in an interesting and somewhat unique direction with the super-powered teenager genre. It manages to realistically capture the emotional turmoil of being a teenager, while adding the element of telekinetic powers, which in the case of one of these teens is like putting out a fire with gasoline.”

Science Fiction, Action and Drama

Dane DeHaan/Andrew Detmer, Alex Russell/Matt Garetty, Michael B. Jordan/Steve Montgomery, Michael Kelly/Richard Detmer, Ashley Hinshaw/Casey Letter, Bo Petersen/Karen Detmer and Anna Wood/Monica

Director - Josh Trank

Writer - Max Landis

Rated PG-13 - intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking

1 hr., 29 min.

I am not a fan of “found footage” films, which I documented at some length in my review of Apollo 18 (2011) which I posted back in February of this year. There are only two films in the history of the genre that I have enjoyed: Cloverfield (2008) and Monsters (2010). I can now add Chronicle to this list of found footage films that I actually thought were well constructed and entertaining films.

Wisely, Chronicle focuses its story on three central characters. The principal character is Andrew Detmer, a high school student who is a loner and not popular with his fellow students. His home life is even worse. His mother is bedridden and is slowly dying of cancer. His father, who is on disability, spends his time drinking and verbally and even sometimes physically abusing Andrew. Andrew’s only real friend is his cousin Matt Garetty, who has recently been hanging out with the popular kids and been ignoring Andrew.

Andrew buys a used video camcorder and begins recording his daily life. Matt notices Andrew and his camera and hoping to coax Andrew out of his funk, invites him to a rave at his rich friend’s house. Andrew brings his camcorder to the party and immediately begins to get ridiculed by the other party goers. Matt rushes up to Andrew and tells him he has to come with him to “film” something with his camera. Steve Montgomery, a friend of Matt’s, is waiting outside a large hole in the ground and before Andrew realizes what is happening, the three of them are crawling in a tunnel underground where they find a large crystalline structure that is glowing. Steve touches it and is thrust halfway across the tunnel by some type of light wave of power. All three of them exit the cavern and don’t meet up until weeks later.

Seemingly by accident, the trio of teens discovers that they have telekinetic powers and begin using them on small objects like cards and baseballs. However, as they continue to experiment, they gradually learn that they can do quite a bit more with their abilities. As their powers grow stronger and more versatile, their temptation to abuse those powers also grows; leading them down a path that they seem unable to turn back from.

Teenagers with strange powers are nothing new to movies. What is different about Chronicle – other than the previously mentioned found footage style of shooting – is that it is portrayed very realistically. The powers that they get are developed slowly over time and with each new ability they discover that they possess, it takes them even more time to control those abilities, let alone master them. These are teenagers and they actually act like teenagers. In their first live test of their powers they go to a toy store and frighten some of the customers by levitating stuffed animals and hitting other teenagers with various items. While these guys are essentially your average teenage males and inherently not bad people, they just can’t help but use these powers to punk other people out. Quite a bit of time is spent with the three newly bonded friends sharing their new-found powers and gradually expanding on them to the point where one of them misuses that power (I’ll let you guess which one) and nearly kills some people by running them off the road. All these scenes build to a steady climax, where one of the teens must stop the other from destruction on a massive scale.

I did have a problem with the character of Andrew Detmer. I understand that we are meant to empathize with his multiple problems both at home and school, but it just seemed to me a bit overstated. While his mother’s cancer and his father’s drunken abuse never crosses the line into melodrama, it certainly comes exceedingly close. It might have been a little more realistic if his father was a least somewhat more sympathetic; or if perhaps his mother suffered a non-terminal illness. However, the story might not have had the same impact if these changes had been made.

I liked the story of Chronicle, but once again I feel like using the video tape “found footage” format really did the dramatic impact of this film a disservice. Because the film is made up of videotaped sequences, there are many, many jump-cuts that jarred me and took me out of the story. The best and most dynamic part of the film is the final confrontational scene between the two teens, where the filmmakers cleverly made use of security camera footage to show the action from multiple angles. This technique worked so well, it only emphasized to me the limits that the one-camera approach placed on the rest of the film.

I do think Chronicle goes in an interesting and somewhat unique direction with the super-powered teenager genre. It manages to realistically capture the emotional turmoil of being a teenager, while adding the element of telekinetic powers, which in the case of one of these teens is like putting out a fire with gasoline.

TECHNICAL: Acting – 8 Directing – 8 Cinematography – 7 Script – 8 Special Effects – 9
VISCERAL: Visual – 8 Auditory – 8 Intellectual – 8 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 9


Monday, June 11, 2012


“Ridley Scott is still a director with a strong and individual vision. Prometheus proves that he still has a passion for science fiction as a genre and as a way of telling multifaceted stories that are both inhumane and humane.”

Science fiction, horror and action

Starring - Noomi Rapace, Elizabeth Shaw, Michael Fassbender/David, Charlize Theron/Meredith Vickers, Idris Elba/Janek, Guy Pearce/Peter Weyland, Logan Marshall-Green/Charlie Holloway, Sean Harris/Fifield, Rafe Spall/Millburn, Emun Elliott/Chance and Benedict Wong/Ravel

Director - Ridley Scott

Writers - Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof

Rated R - sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language

1 hr., 4 min.

Prometheus is Ridley Scott’s long awaited return to science fiction and it was definitely worth the wait! Director Ridley Scott has dabbled in all three of my favorite genres: science fiction – Blade Runner, horror – Alien and fantasy – Legend. Out of these three, only Legend is a failure, while Blade Runner and Alien are not only successes, but are considered by many (myself included) to be modern film classics. For this reason, I was looking forward to seeing Prometheus more for what Scott would do in the science fiction genre, than what he would do with the story as it related to Alien. Is Prometheus a prequel to Alien? Yes, it definitely is in regard to story, but not so much in its stylistic or thematic approaches.

“A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race…” or so says the promotional description for the film. The team of explorers is a crew of scientists and ordinary astronauts. The ship they fly in, the Prometheus is paid for by the Weyland Corporation. The crew are all employees of Weyland Corporation as well; with the exception of David, who is an android that was built by them. The founder of Weyland Corporation, Peter Weyland has funded the expedition to a star system that was found in several ancient illustrations discovered by the archeological couple Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway. It is his and their belief that the “engineers” are a race of superior alien beings, who have seeded the Earth with their own DNA in order to promote intelligent life there and that the planet that they are traveling to will lead them to the engineers home world. Once there, they hope to be able to ask the engineers why they were created and for what purpose. When the crew awakens from hyper-sleep, they are already in orbit around the distant moon LV-223, their destination. They land the ship on LV-223, close to a huge structure that resembles an ancient building, but is much more.

To reveal any more of the story of Prometheus would give away too many of the interesting plot revelations and narrative twists. I will say that the story itself, while thought-provoking on its own - and indeed produces a fair amount of interesting ideas - is not the strongest element of Prometheus. Part of this is due to a lack of a definitive payoff at the end of the film. All the big questions that are asked at the beginning of the film are not satisfactorily answered at the end of the film.  I do wonder why these deeper questions were brought up, only to be mostly ignored throughout the film. Still, the character story arcs, for the most part, are wrapped up satisfactorily and that is an important aspect of the film.

The reason that the characters are so important to Prometheus is because each of the characters represents a differing viewpoint to the idea that aliens may be the originators of the human race. The central viewpoint character is Elizabeth Shaw, one of the archeologists who have gathered the ancient Earth artifacts that contain the message from the engineers. Throughout the film she wears a cross on a chain around her neck, signifying that she has faith in a higher power. Because of this, she looks to the aliens not as gods, but merely as the hands of god and not mankind’s true creator. Her drive to get to the truth behind the engineers is what carries Prometheus. In contrast to Shaw is David, the android manufactured by Weyland Corporation, who is programed with the singular purpose of finding an engineer alien alive and gaining information that is vital to his programmer. David, being an emotionless android, never questions the purpose of the mission or appears to care for its success or not. What makes David interesting is his pacifistic outward demeanor that seems to hide a deeper and more ominous purpose. Meredith Vickers is the head of the mission and the lead representative of Weyland Corp. Her cool demeanor and anti-social behavior give her an enigmatic air, as she apparently sees Prometheus and her crew only as investments. Her external motivation seems only to see the safe return of Weyland property and she seems skeptical about even the existence of the engineers. These three characters are the driving force of Prometheus, because as the film progresses and the story becomes more complex, each of these characters demonstrates more depth of character and purpose than was initially apparent. Prometheus is a film that definitely derives as much story from its characters as it does from its philosophical elements or external conflicts.

Prometheus is not all internal character struggles or theological vs. scientific ruminations. It also has many physical conflicts with the various alien creatures that the crew encounters on the alien satellite. While the film takes some time to set up these encounters, once they do occur they continue on almost without ceasing. Fans of Scott’s ability to craft atmospheric dread will not be disappointed by several sequences that take place on both the terrain and on Prometheus. One of the most disturbing and frightening sequences in the film features Shaw in a mêlée with an alien creature in a truly unique manner. Prometheus not only delivers visceral alien thrills on multiple levels, but in manifold ways and methods.

Ridley Scott is still a director with a strong and individual vision. Prometheus proves that he still has a passion for science fiction as a genre and as a way of telling multifaceted stories that are both inhumane and humane. Anyone who has a love of science fiction and its depiction in cinema should see Prometheus.

TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 10 Cinematography – 10 Script – 9 Special Effects – 10
VISCERAL: Visual – 10 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 9 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 10

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


In the seventh and final part of Zombzany Meets Doc Freak titled "Remote Controlled Revenge", back from the undead, with a newly recharged scepter, Zombzany has regained control of his cemetery, his throne and the horror movie marathon. Zombzany decides to replace the final Frankenstein film of the marathon, with a classic zombie film from his private video tape collection. Slowly, he is approached by his most loyal zombie servant, Sebastian. It isn’t until Sebastian is almost upon him that Zombzany sees the control devise on Sebastian’s chest and realizes that he is being attacked.

Shouting in triumph – from a safe distance – “Doc” Freak tells Zombzany that he has taken control of Sebastian with a remote control devise and orders Sebastian to kill Zombzany. Zombzany casts a spell over Sebastian, forcing him back towards Freak. Freak turns up the power on his devise to full power and Sebastian turns back upon his Necromantic master. Zombzany casts a spell of detonation on Sebastian, blowing the device on Sebastian’s chest to pieces! Zombzany then casts another even more powerful detonation spell at “Doc” Freak and blows up the remote right out of Freak’s hands!

When the smoke of the multiple magical explosions clear, Doc Freak is nowhere in sight, so Zombzany returns to his throne to retrieve one of his beloved zombie video tapes and discovers that they were all destroyed by his own destructive spells. The only video not melted down to plastic sludge is another Frankenstein film, which he reluctantly concludes the horror movie marathon with.

Enjoy the final installment of Zombzany Meets Doc Freak – Part Seven – Remote Controlled Revenge!

Friday, June 1, 2012


Thank you for voting in the - Which of these films do you plan on seeing in May of 2012 – poll! The results to this month’s poll were much more positive than last month, which is an indicator that you are more excited about genre films being released in May than you were the ones in April. Of the fifteen people who voted, most were interested in one film. The top vote getter for May was easily The Avengers which received 11 votes (73%)! Coming in at a close second place was Men in Black III with 9 votes (60%). Limping in at a distant third place was Dark Shadows with only 3 votes (20%). In a very distant last place was Battleship with only one vote.  (6%).

Thank you all for voting on this month’s poll! There are now fifteen of you who may consider yourselves Genre Guardian Generals! Anyone who has seen The Avengers (based on the amount of money it made, I’d guess most of you saw it), Men in Black III, Dark Shadows or Battleship at the theater, please leave a quick comment here and let me know what you thought of it.


Once again on the right column of this page, you will see at the top of the column the next poll that I’ve posted. As always, this poll includes the titles and release dates of all the major SF, Fantasy or Horror films that are being distributed to movie theaters in the month of June 2012. They are: Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1), Prometheus (June 8), Brave (June 22) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22). As always, I’d appreciate anyone who reads GUARDIANS OF THE GENRE! to place a vote for any of these films that you plan on seeing at the theater. Snow White and the Huntsman is a film that looks visually stunning, but I just can’t get excited about yet another film “retelling” of a fairy tale, so I’ll pass on this at the theater. Prometheus is a film I’ve been fascinated with for some time, partly because of the mystery of whether it is truly a prequel to Alien, but mostly to see if Ridley Scott is still capable of directing a science fiction classic like Alien. I’ll definitely be watching Prometheus at the theater next weekend! Brave is Pixar’s thirteenth feature film, but I haven’t liked a film by them since Ratatouille in 2007 (yes, I thought Up was sentimental crap), so I’ll be passing on seeing Brave at the theater. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is interesting. It is based on a bestselling novel (which I didn’t read) and the screenplay is by the author (which I think is wise). The director is Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian-Kazakh film director known for the Russian films Night Watch and Day Watch, as well as the American film Wanted, all of which I liked. Still, I am uncertain if the weird historical-horror mash-up can carry a feature film, so I’ll probably pass on seeing it at the theater and watch it as soon as it is available on blu-ray disc.

Let me know what you’ll be seeing on the big screen by participating in this month’s new poll!


Podcast of the Month for May 2012 is:

Sci-Fi Saturday Night

Sci-Fi Saturday Night is a sometimes weekly podcast that is broadcast “live” on Ustream every Thursday night at 8pm. This sometimes irreverent and oftentimes explicit podcast is a stream-of-conscious and a ostentatiously science fiction-centric podcast that talks about all things sci-fi. This multiple-person podcast discusses sci-fi news, books, movies, TV shows and conventions. There is also almost always a special guest that is also the featured interview of the week. The format is very loose – to put it politely – but the crazy group of podcasters usually begin with the news, then they segue into whatever subject that they are most interested in that particular week.

The podcast is hosted by The Dome, who founded SFSN as a radio show on a certain network which will not be named, along with former co-host Mr. K. His likes include “Anything with Busty Women, Harley Quinn, artists and writers. The rest of the cast include Kiriana, who is in charge of the soundboard and who’s real job is as a biologist currently working out of Boston. Illustrator X is an artist who drew all the art on the podcast’s website and is a huge comic book geek. AwakeByJava is the resident sci-fi TV show expert and both loves and hates Syfy programing. The Dead Redhead is a huge horror movie fan and George Romero in particular. Zombrarian is the post editor and resident grammar zombie, who enjoys all kinds of books and curling up with her undead kitties. Dru Silla, R Daneel Olivaw, Winter is coming, Samantha B and Amandatron3000 all show up at irregular times to add their brand of madness.

What I like about Sci-Fi Saturday Night is that, for me, it is a local podcast as all of the podcasters are residents of the New England area. What makes that fun for me is that their news and interviews will feature things that are important to the New England area. They are the official podcast of the Boston Comic Con and do extensive interviews from that convention. Their interviews are often informal, but not irreverent. Recent interview guests have included author Norman Spinrad and comic book artist/writer Kevin Eastman.

If you want to find out more about Sci-Fi Saturday Night go to: