Friday, May 26, 2017

Snakes Hunting in Packs! :-o Bye, Roger!

No horror movie or game review today, just an update on some news you may not have heard about, that I personally think is of great concern.  In addition to being a horror-movie aficionado, I consider myself a well-read individual.  I browse the internet for scientific articles on a daily basis, expanding my knowledge and stretching the limits of my brain.  So it comes as no great surprise to me, when I read this article on the Mother Nature Network today, about snakes hunting in packs.

Now, if you're a horror movie fan, you know the whole animal-attack thing is a reliable theme as far as monster movies go.  If you're a consistent reader of my blog, I'm sure you've read dozens of my own reviews about animal-attack movies, from "Grizzly" to "Godzilla," and that's just the movies starting with the letter G!  THERE ARE 26 LETTERS IN THE ALPHABET!  OPEN YOUR EYES, PEOPLE!  TWENTY-SIX!

If you read between the lines of my movie reviews, or just keep up to date on my "in other news" portions of my blog (usually at the end of a review), you know that I am terrified of spiders and centipedes, those creepy-crawly little bastards that invade your home and crawl into your orifices while you sleep.  I've been told that's an internet myth, but is it?  Who knows what happens while you're asleep?  I sure don't!  Who's to say for sure?  Nobody I know!  Has there ever been an actual study done on how many spiders crawl into your poop-chute while you sleep?  I highly doubt it!  Where would they get the funding?

Now, I've been saying for years, to anyone who will listen, that spiders hunt in packs.  Sure, there's no scientific evidence for that yet, but mark my words!  Some day in the future, scientists will figure it out, just like they caught the snakes hunting in packs!  Spiders are just sneakier about it, those wily sons-of-bitches!  They sit up there in the shadows at the top of your garage rafters, plotting and planning and waiting, and sure, they eat flies and bugs and shit, but they REALLY want to be feasting on you!  I mean, think about it!  Who wants a dried-up scrap of flying chicken mcnugget, when they can have a hearty Whopper dripping with Special Sauce?  Nobody!  Those spiders LOVE your special sauce, you bet they do!

So they plot and they wait and they plan and they skulk, and one day they sneak into your house in droves when you leave the back door open half an inch, and next thing you know, you're sound asleep one night, and there's a HORDE of hungry, angry spiders crawling all over you, looking for the softest place to chow down!  And then it's NOMNOMNOM while you sleep!  Gives me the willies, every time I think about it!  (shudder)

You scoff, sure you do.  But you haven't seen what I've seen, either.  If you only knew!  I walked into my bathroom one day, and you know what I saw?  A big hairy centipede, upside-down, ON MY CEILING!!!!  That's right.  The Spiders are trying to teach their allies, the centipedes, to crawl upside down on the ceiling, so they can drop onto our faces!  DEATH FROM ABOVE!  It's an old spider trick, one that's been tried on me dozens, if not hundreds of times.

But I am wise to their sneaky ways.  I look up at my ceiling every 14.2 seconds, because that's how long it takes a fast-running spider to cross from the corners of my bedroom to the center of the ceiling.  I've timed it!  They will never sneak up on me whilst I am awake, but I can't stop those creepy bastards from having their way with me whilst I lay there, sound asleep, naked and helpless.  I have nightmares just thinking about it, while I'm awake.  I may be having one now!  AAUUUGGHHH!!!

Luckily, that centipede I mentioned hadn't quite mastered the DEATH-FROM-ABOVE trick, and fell to the floor whilst I cowered in terror, about ten feet away.  I was able to run and get help, and that is one less centipede who will pass on the ceiling-walking tactic to his friends.  So that's my warning to you, everyone who reads my blog.  The animals are banding together to come after us, and we have only one option.  Safety in numbers!  If we don't band together, they are bound to take us all out!  The animal uprising is only a matter of time!  MARK MY WORDS!

I've been warning people about spiders and centipedes for years.  Now, Snakes are learning to hunt in packs.  Think of that Alfred Hitchcock movie, the Birds!  Wolves already hunt in packs!  So do lions!  What's next?  Bears?  I read a story about deer feasting on human remains just a few weeks ago, at a body farm where they do CSI training to show people about the decay rate of human remains.  Once deer get a taste of people, what's to stop them from hunting in packs?  Can you imagine a whole herd of antelope, deer, elk or even moose, coming after you, looking to munch on your flesh?  Maybe cows are next!  Surely, they owe us payback for all the burgers we've chomped over the years!   GAAAHHHHH!!  It's horrific!

I was camping in a state park a few years back, and a young man came running up to me, saying he had seen a raccoon at the edge of the woods, and had thrown stones at it til it retreated.  At the time, I wondered at the audacity of a man hurling stones at a poor helpless raccoon, in the raccoon's own backyard.  I wondered how the guy would like it, if he'd gone out into his backyard one day, and had raccoons throwing stones at him?  But now, I realize, maybe I got it all wrong.  Maybe that guy had it right.  We need to start hunting these bastards in packs, people!  Grab whatever weapons you can find!  It doesn't matter what sort of animal it is!  Raccoons, bunnies, newts, it doesn't matter!  KILL IT!  SMASH IT WITH A ROCK! *

In other news, I was disturbed to hear of the passing of Sir Roger Moore a couple days ago.  When I was a kid, from when I was 3 to the time I was 15, there were no other Bonds.  I didn't even find out about Sean Connery's turn in the bond movies until after Roger Moore was ready to retire.  At the time, Roger Moore was the epitome of cool, and as a totally-uncool geeky nerd, I endeavored to be as smooth and sophisticated at Roger Moore.  I never achieved that level of suavity, and quite honestly, pretending to be British only got me beat up more often.  That's Amurrica for ya.

Sure, Roger Moore's Bond was more verbally witty and less physical than Sean Connery's rough-and-ready look, but Timothy Dalton's Bond was way too high-strung and serious for my taste.  I mean, just think of the villains!  Remember Richard Kiel's Jaws?  The guy with the metal teeth?  What Bond Villain has been as memorable since then?  I can't think of a one.  And it was Roger Moore who took Jaws down, outsmarting him time after time.  At the time, I was a little guy in a world of bigger, less-intelligent brutes, and I could readily identify with Roger's Moore's David-and-Goliath tactics.  Later on, Pierce Brosnan was probably the best actor to ever play Bond, becoming what I thought to be the most believable of the bunch.  I started this blog back in 2009 to rail against the horrible acting of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, and how he'd ruined everything that Bond stood for, so I won't go into that again.  Suffice it to say, I can't wait til they replace Craig with someone else, and won't watch a 007 movie with Craig in it.

By all reports, Sir Roger Moore was a gentleman, a philanthropist, and one helluva nice guy, as well as being a devoted father.  According to his family, he passed amidst a sea of loved ones.  He was humble as well, saying that his success as an actor was 99.9% luck, the mere act of being in the right place at the right time, and the other .1% was just his modest contribution.  I honestly expected Sean Connery to precede Roger Moore as far as dying was concerned, but I only recently found out that Roger Moore is actually 2 years older than Sean Connery.  Not that I would have preferred Sean Connery to go first, as Mr. Connery's movie career consisted of more blockbuster films than just the Bond series, and he will probably be recalled for the bulk of his movie work when he does eventually pass on.  Still, it was sad to hear of Roger Moore dying, because he was the Bond I grew up with, the one I had aspired to be, if only for a short time (before I was beaten up for pretending to be British).

I will say one thing, in closing.  If I ever hear that spiders had anything to do with Sir Roger's death, there will be vengeance.  Spiders, if you're reading this, take note.  VENGEANCE!  (shakes fist at screen)

That's all for now, people!  Til next time, remember: there's 26 letters in the alphabet.

* (Do not actually go into the woods and smash a newt with a rock.  Newts are poisonous, the venomous assassins of the animal world, and you cannot take them without decades of specialized rock-bashing-training.  Trust me on this.  I've tried, and barely escaped with my life.  I still have the scars to prove it.)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Reviews - Suicide Squad, It Follows

Wheee, that's it, people!  We made it through another 40 Days without Sex!  Or, whatever it was you gave up for Lent.  I gave up Pink Unicorns, which, well, let me tell ya, it was HELL living without for 40 days.  HELL.

Suiceide Squad (2016) is all about a guy who also, by some strange coincidence, loves Pink Unicorns!  :-o  He also throws Boomarangs, and is an aussie, which, I mean, can you get any more stereotypical for an aussie?  Ugh.  DC Comics, you're killing me, guys.  Killin me.  There's also some other "meta-human villains" as they called them in the movie. Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (no idea who played her), and a bunch of other, lesser known actors playing other super-powered villains.  As we all know by now, Harley Quinn is the Joker's sidekick, who makes a few brief cameo appearances in this movie, though I'm not sure how they managed to convince him.  Offerred him some dirt on Batman, maybe?  Meh.

So, erm, the plot, which, takes a VERY slow and plodding 45 minutes to build up, basically revolves around a sort of demonic possession similar to the Exorcist only without Linda Blair and with a little less split pea soup.  The "Suicide Squad" is a group of villains who are recruited by the star league to defend the frontier against Xur, and the Ko-Dan armada...   wait.  No.  Wrong movie.  That's the Last Starfighter.  Suicide Squad is about a group of Villains recruited to fight bad guys, yes, yes, that's it.  Sort of like throwing a hand grenade at another hand grenade to render the explosion from the first hand grenade moot, or maybe that would just make a bigger explosion or something.  I guess at that point, you really don't care about making a bigger explosion?  Meh.  Not sure about the logic behind the whole thing.

So, was the movie any good?  Well, I almost turned it off half an hour in because it was taking so long to get anywhere, but I kept watching because the possessed girl was really hot.  After it got less talky talky and more fighty fighty, the action moved along pretty fast, so I suppose they had to toss that 45 minutes of filler into it to make the movie make sense, or just have it last slightly longer than your average episode of Grimm.  I thought there was a little too much CGI, but I guess that's where all the action is in movies, nowadays.  Would I watch it again?  No.  Not much else to see, and nothing particularly exciting or original about this movie.  I've never really been fond of DC comics for some reason.  It's like the heroes are, I don't know, too fake, or something.  Viola Davis is always fun to watch, though.  Good actress.  Suicide Squad is on HBO this month, if you want to watch it.

It Follows (2014) is about what may possibly be the worst STD ever.  This poor girl sleeps with her new BF for the first time, and he ends up Chloroforming the shit out of her.  When she wakes up, she's tied to a wheelchair in an area that looks like the underside of a highway, and not in a good way.  Apparently, there is now something following her, and only she can see it.  What follows (HAH I MAKE JOKE!) is not exactly scary, but filled with a few jump scares and the kind of horror that simple camera tricks can achieve, because this movie apparently didn't really have a big budget for special effects.  Meh,  I guess it was okay?  Didn't exactly power my vibrator, as the saying goes.  What, that's not really a saying?  Well, it is now.  It Follows is on Showtime Women (where i saw it), or also on Netflix, I believe, if you'd care to have a peek at it.

That's all for tonight, peeps.  Heh.  Peeps.  Cuz tomorrow is Easter.  Geddit?  Yeah, I'm laugh-a-minute guy tonight.  See you next time.  Enjoy your break from Lent until next Fat Tuesday!  Go have sex, ya heathens.  Or eat chocolate bunnies, whatever powers your vibrator.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

PC Spring Game Review Roundup

By Special Request of my blog fans (ok, the only one I know of), it's time for our Spring Computer Game Review Roundup!  Yay!  Just in time for Easter, when the Easter Bunny brings all good girls and boys baskets full of computer games!  Or Chocolate.  Or chocolate-coated computer games.  Hmmm.  That would be AWESOME.  Also, very messy, and somewhat crunchy.  Yeah.

I'm going to spend a few minutes talking about ESO, also known as Elder Scrolls Online.  I played this very briefly, for free, during the development phase about, oh, maybe a year or two ago?  Fresh off the success of Elder Scrolls 5, which was all about... umm...  Skyrim, yes, that was it, they came out with Elder Scrolls Online, a multiplayer version of Elder Scrolls.  Skyrim focused on the snowy lands of the far north, and was my most-played game in all of steam, listed by hours, which can be misleading, because I spent about 500 hours just goofing around in Riverwood, making and remaking my character.  Yeah.  Good times.  So, Elder scrolls online.  Much like Skyrim, you could use a weapon in each hand, and the more you used each weapon, the more skilled you became with it.  I vaguely recall not liking the magic system in ESO, and because I love using magic in just about every game I have ever played, I became disappointed with ESO and stopped playing it.  What was wrong with the magic system, exactly?  I don't recall.  I think you could only ready one spell, or something like that, and there weren't very many types of magic to start with.  Things may have changed by now, and maybe I'm not recalling them correctly, but this was a long time ago.  Plus, I'm old.  I may have imagined the whole thing.  But, like a toddler who doesn't like a new toy, I threw it away and cried like a little girl.

Now, on to more recent conquests.  Conan Exiles is the most recent Conan-like game of all the recent Conan-like games out there, right now, that don't actually feature Conan.  However, the intro movie does feature a very Conan-like Cimmerian striding through a desert with an axe, who frees a prisoner tied to a cross.  Crucifixion was punishment for your character's various random crimes, like sexual congress with a gorilla, or skullduggery and impersonating a temple priest.  Put them all together and you get skullduggery with a gorilla while impersonating a temple priest, which, as we all know, is how I spend my weekends.  In any case, Conan cuts down the prisoner, and VOILA!  You're off to character creation, as the prisoner that the Conan-like Cimmerian has just cut down.  Wtf is skullduggery?  I have no idea, and I'm not sure I actually want to find out.

Conan Exiles is still in Alpha, but the game looks beautiful, and features the, ah, the Full Monty, as far as nudity goes.  You basically run out of the desert, collecting resources from bushes, rocks, and branches to make clothes, tools and weapons, and you get the ability to make a greater variety of stronger tools, armor and weapons as you level up.  A variety of infernal, primitive and normal animals wander about, just waiting for you to run up and kill them for lunch (cooked meat is really the only option here, as farming is currently forbidden by order of the gods, or just isn't in the game yet).  Hyenas, rhinos and gazelles (at least, I think they were gazelles, they ran away very fast) are just some of the normal animals featured, and I typically spent most of my game-time swimming across the extensive river and island system you come to, as you flee the dryness of the desert.  Food and water are required often, or you die of thirst and starvation.  You can also get food poisoning, and die of that.  Or, you can be bitten in half by a crocodile, which is not as fun as it sounds.  Trust me.

Content is currently a bit limited, but there are apparently dungeons full of scary monsters hidden somewhere, and like most survival games out there, you can host your own server, and get taken over by Chinese Hackers!  I think getting taken over by Chinese hackers is even currently an option in the server settings, and is ON by default.  I guess the game designers are working on a fix to get it turned off at some point, but no luck so far.  I've only played the game single-player, so far, but there are little gatherings of AI-controlled humans you can bonk on the head, drag back to your place, and convert them to your cause via the appropriately-titled Wheel of Pain.  Once converted, your new slaves work for you, and are called Thralls.  Some of the thrall professions are fighter, cook, archer, and dancer, to name a few.  I guess there are also priests you can use to summon Avatars, gigantic world-smashing Godlings capable of crushing your enemies, driving them before you, and making their women lament.  But, that's all high-level stuff, and nowhere I've got close to, yet.

In addition to clothes, armor, tools and weapons, you can also make a house for yourself.  Basic structures are made of sandstone, and although you need to collect a lot of wood for support, you can't actually make structures out of just wood.  I guess it's not strong enough to keep away the giant killer crocodiles that want to bite you in half?  Who knows.  At later levels, different kinds of stronger stone are used.  The game designers also promise the use of sorcery, which I am looking forward to, but it's not in the game yet.  Also, there's supposed to be sacrifices, which is great for me, because I frequently get thrall slaves who bug the shit out of me for various reasons, who I'd love to sacrifice.  The game is frequently updated, sometimes once or twice a week, so the developers certainly seem on-track to finish the game, eventually.  They just added a bunch of new weapons, and catapults.

Do I like Conan Exiles?  Sort of.  It's a survival game, like 7 Days to Die, or even Minecraft.  You spend most of your time trying not to die of hunger and thirst, avoiding hungry crocs, and like living in Australia, everything in this game wants to kill you.  I spent a lot of time building a small house on a tiny island in the middle of a river, which was visually awesome, but I tended to die every time I left my island to go hunting.  Meh.  Probably didn't put enough points into Vitality, or something.  Also, Crocs can swim across rivers, just like you, which I had to find out the hard way.  Also, they bite very hard, and plant fiber clothing doesn't stop croc teeth.  Overall, I'd say the game needs more content, but I haven't been able to explore very much, or find a dungeon yet.  I pretty much die too easily to get very far.  It's not just the crocs you need to worry about.  The game would probably be better with friends, but I don't have any to test it with.  Thankfully, there is a cheat system in place if you happen to be the server admin, which is a given if you're playing single player.  Somehow, I still die a lot.  Apparently, being a demi-god doesn't prevent you from dying of falling off a high cliff.  In Conan Exiles, even the dirt can kill you.  Hopefully, they'll implement the sorcery and magic system soon, and I can start my career as a master spellcaster, charming crocs and making them go fetch food for me.  We'll see how that goes.  They'll probably eat me when they get back.

Our final review this time around is on Conclave, a cheap little RPG with very simple graphics.  I've only managed to play a few of the beginner quests yet, but it's pretty much a D&D clone dumbed down to the basics.  You get 5 classes, 5 races, and a max level of ten or so, as far as I can tell.  There's runecasters (mages), Beacons (cleric), and a scattering of other classes.  There's no cheating in Conclave, because it's entirely online (even single player), so I am having a bitch of a time getting past the first few quests.  It's not un-fun, but I would suggest bringing friends, if you want to get very far.  Soloing is quite difficult, and I don't see any sort of loot system.  Not even sure if it's a finished game, or they are still working on it.  One thing that bugged me is, you can't change the screen resolution any, so you're pretty much stuck with the default graphic settings, which amounts to a small window in the middle of your screen.  In this day and age, those of us used to varying our graphics settings for best resolution, might be a little disappointed.  Still, it has no effect on gameplay.

That's all we have time for, boys and girls!  Dinner's almost ready, and I'm sure I'll have some new movies to review pretty soon.  Until then, I'll be in my bunk.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Series Reviews - Iron Fist, Grimm, Firefly

Like any large, hirsute mammal that comes out of the cave after hibernating all winter, the first thing I do is catch up on the series I've been missing out on.  Let's start with Netflix's Iron Fist, and work our way back to Firefly.  Yes, I know Firefly is 15 years old.  I been hibernating.  Don't judge.

IRON FIST (2017):  Okay, Iron Fist is the most contradictory hero of the Marvel universe.  I thought Luke Cage was a bit mired in the 70's era, but Danny Rand makes Luke Cage look like the most together man in the multiverse.  I get the backstory, which I'm not going to ruin for anyone who hasn't finished the series on Netflix, but let's tackle the basics.  Danny spends 15 years learning martial arts.  He's beaten when he fails at something, which is apparently often, and supposedly learns to control his mind, body and emotions.  He says he always wins, and has fought his way to earn the Iron Fist by challenging and defeating all comers.  Which, is funny, because the first time he gets his butt kicked, he's whining about how he feels like one big bruise, and winces at the first touch of disinfectant on some tiny cut he has on his arm.  He also flies into a rage at the first hint of frustration.  So, does that sound like a guy whose taken a beating before?  And is completely in control of his mind, body, and emotions?  Nope.  So about halfway through the series, minor spoiler, Danny Rand tries to take back control of his company, the Rand Corporation, but is ousted by the Board, which is just glad they never actually gave him a position at the company.  So, Danny buys a sports car with his millions, and takes the private plane off anywhere he needs to go.  Which is awesome, except...  where's he getting his millions exactly?  He's been ousted by the Board, he's not pulling down a salary, and he has no position at the company, so how exactly is he getting these millions?  Especially without an address, and never visiting the bank?  Pretty sure Danny doesn't even have a computer, so, what, he does his banking via... snail mail?  And how does he rate a Rand Corp private jet?  I don't get it.  A lot of people are blaming Finn Jones for screwing the whole thing up, and yeah, maybe he's not the best choice for the role, and maybe a horrible actor, but everything I just mentioned?  That's all just bad writing.  The actress who played Colleen Wing and Rosario Dawson were some of the few bright points in a otherwise very predictable and monotonous plot.  The "end boss fight," I'm going to call it, wasn't even worth going through all 14 episodes.  Horribly convoluted and ridiculous plot.  Madame Gao was pretty cool, though, gotta say.  The rest of it?  Blech.  I've heard some media company decided that Iron Fist was actually the most popular show on Netflix, and it sounds like they're going to renew it for a second season.  I think it's absolute rubbish, and if Netflix renews it for another season, then I don't know WTF they are thinking.  Wouldn't be the first time some crap show made it to round 2, though.

GRIMM (2017):  For those in the know, Grimm (NBC) ended tonight.  Not quite sure how many seasons it was on (6, maybe), but it had a decent run.  I been watching it religiously since the first episode, when it aired in October a half dozen years back, and it was all about horror (just like me).  :-)  There was a whole "Zerstorer" plot line running the last few episodes, and the beastie basically had control of what I'm going to call the Spear of Destiny, which the show never said, but which was what I got out of it.  And Nick ended up with it, so that's nice.  Maybe we'll see a Grimm movie at some point in the future, who knows.  I like how the series ended, and there was a very brief appearance by a couple of the actors at the beginning of the Series Finale who said goodbye and thanks and all, so that's nice.  Broke the 4th wall a little bit, but they didn't do it during the show, which was great.  Sure, Deadpool was great for people who like adult-oriented Superhero movies, but stop playing to the camera, Ryan Reynolds/Deadpool.  You're not a goddamn beauty queen.  I like to see the actors outside of the characters they play, from time to time.  Reminded me of the last episode of Family Ties, way back when, when Michael J. Fox and the rest of the cast came out on stage and took a bow.  I wish more series did stuff like that at the end.  I checked the IMDB pages for the Grimm actors, and unfortunately, many of them don't have any other credit lined up for 2017.  I know, Grimm just ended and they are probably on vacation after a good run, but I hope they will get some good roles after this.  Would be a shame if they all faded out somewhere, they all seem like decent actors and actresses.  And Claire Coffee (Adelind)?  Jesus, she's smokin' hot.  I know she's married and all, but, wow.  Gotta see her in other stuff.

FIREFLY (2003):  Yea, okay, so, I'm a little behind the times on this one, but I just caught up on all the episodes I missed via Netflix.  The series is going off Netflix's streaming service tonight, so I had to hurry.  Firefly was a pretty good series, and I'm sorry I missed it during it's initial run.  Sadly, I was probably working nights at the time, so I had good reason to miss it.  They came out with Serenity, a movie based off the show, which was also pretty damn good.  One thing I'd like to mention, I had heard the phrase "I'll be in my bunk" quite a number of times on the internet, and had even used it myself on occasion.  I mean, I knew what it meant by inference, but had no idea where it had originated from.  Turns out, it was probably the episode of Firefly where Inara (the Companion) entertains a female customer, and the sexual tension they exude seems to inspire Jayne to spend some extra time, uh, polishing his weapons, as it were.  As the "Jayne Cobb" of my cohort of friends and relatives, I know how he feels, at times.

Let's take a quick look at the actors and actresses of Firefly, 15 years later, shall we?  Nathan Fillion (Mal) has 4 different projects coming out in 2017, including a role in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, so, he's doing awesome.  I loved him in Slither, because I love monsters, horror and Sci Fi, and that pretty much encompassed all three of those genres.  Gina Torres (Zoe) has been busy, and just finished up a series in 2017.  Alan Tudyk (Wash) has been super-busy, and I loved him in Tucker and Dale vs Evil.  Morena Baccarin (Inara) is hugely famous now, and was obviously in Homeland, Deadpool and Gotham.  Adam Baldwin (Jayne) is, at least still working.  Apparently, he's not actually one of the less-popular Baldwin brothers, and no relation to Alec.  I did not know that until just now.  And, now I feel awkward.  Moving on.  Jewel Staite (Kaylee) was adorable on the show, and was working as of last year, according to IMDB.  Sean Maher (Simon) is working in voice acting and has other projects coming out in 2017.  Summer Glau (River) was still working as of last year, and I have seen her in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dollhouse, the Cape, and Knights of Badassdom, most recently.  Sadly, we lost Ron Glass (Shepherd Book) late last year, the year of a billion celebrity deaths.

And that's all we have time for tonight, boys and girls.  Things to do, and I wanted to get this post out in march, which ends in 12 minutes.  :-)  Hopefully, I'll catch you guys up soon on what other shows I been watching lately, crappy or otherwise.  Til next time!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

End of Season Review - 2016 Winds to a close

Here we have come to the end of another year, or almost.  2016 bit the big one, big time.  So many artists, musicians and celebrities have kicked the bucket.  Alan Thicke just passed away last week, and even as I write this, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) is in critical condition in an ICU after a massive heart attack.  God DAMN it, 2016.  Just how many sacrifices do you require before you're satisfied, you greedy Gus?  So, to wrap an otherwise horrible year, let's look back at the good shows and how they ended up.  Spoilers to follow, so if you want to catch up on these shows while they are on hiatus, then skip to the last paragraph of this post.

Let's start with Exorcist (which was on Friday nights, on some damn regular channel, 2, 4, 7, something).  As we now know, this series picks up with Regan (the girl from the original Exorcist movie back in 1973), now an older married woman with kids of her own.  After Pazuzu (the demon who possessed her back in the Exorcist) returns to posses Regan's daughter, a pair of Exorcists manage to rid the girl of the demon, only to discover the demon has moved into the now-adult Regan (played wonderfully by Geena Davis).  A cult of demon-possessed demon-worshippers (whole barrels full of demons!) are planning to assassinate the Pope, and our heroic pair of plucky Exorcists somehow manage to not only save the Pope, but manage to exorcise the in-excorsizable demon Pazuzu from the body of Regan, who somehow manages to survive, but with a little bit of damage.

The Exorcist seemed to drag on for a few episodes, and I get that they need to expand the drama for a bit longer to get the required number of episodes, but in all, it was a good season.  Geena Davis was a good choice to pull off the lead actress, the Exorcists were pretty decently cast, and the kids just did a bang-up job.  Alan Ruck turned out to be pretty awesome, and I'm surprised I haven't seen him in more major roles since Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Am I looking forward to next season?  You betcha!  Hopefully they bring back Geena Davis, Alan Ruck and the gang, because they really anchor the show, but I'd hate to see that poor family go through any more hell than they already have.

Ash Vs Evil Dead (on Starz) ended badly, I think.  After defeating Baal once, Ash went back in time to the "cabin in the woods" that started everything, to before the time he found the Necronomicon, to save Pablo, his little honduran buddy that he used to work with at S-Mart.  If you've been watching, you know Baal possessed Pablo's dead body, was returned to life when Ash went back in time, and went for round 2 with Ash, only to lose again to El Jefe (Ash).  Ash managed to save Pablo, but lost his Dad (played by Lee Majors) and his buddy (played by Ted Raimi, I think) and his sister (again).  Season 2 ended with the whole town giving "Ashy Slashy" a celebration, and him getting back together with his high-school sweetheart.

Personally, I think season 1 was better, and I think the writing was better then, too.  BUT, as long as Ash keeps killing the demons with such style and bad one-liners, I'm in!  Can't wait for season 3, and I hope Lucy lawless comes back.  She was great in Xena (she's probably sick and tired of hearing that, though I only saw the first 2 seasons of Xena) and I like her as Ruby, the demon who originally wrote the Necronomicon.  I also think it was a mistake to kill off Ash's Dad, because Lee Majors is an awesome actor.  Maybe they'll bring him back in Season 3.

Westworld (HBO) ended with a bang, as Dolores shot the park's co-creator, Dr. Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) in the back of the head, just after he announced his retirement.  Doubtless this is the beginning of some robot uprising, and humanity best watch it's back!  This is the rootin-tootin, shootin old west!  Even the Man in Black (who we now know, owns Westworld), took a bullet in the arm, and looked happy as a clam in butter sauce to finally be facing a real challenge, standing there bleeding.  It seems the robot uprising has begun, but I guess we'll have to wait til season 2 to find out.

I gave up on Westworld, to be honest.  I know they want it to be their next Game of Thrones and they sure are pouring the money into it, but it's just not doing it for me.  They're trying to make it into another "Lost" but I hated Lost, and Westworld wasn't really that complicated.  I think maybe the actors over-acted their parts, not in a bad way, but they were just so convincing as robots in a robot world, that I have absolutely no feeling for any of them.  Maybe that makes me the same sort of asshole who would frequent a place like Westworld and kill off a few dozen robots just because i felt like firing my gun off a few times, but meh.  They're robots.  Why would I care?  They're made to get shot.

Look, I play first-person shooters.  I shoot the crap out of zombies, robots, dwarves, elves, dragons, and god-knows-what-else on a daily basis.  If all of the things I'm tearing apart, shooting to death, and hacking to pieces actually became sentient, I'd be freakin bored as hell, because I'm not a serial killer.  I don't kill sentient life (well, not personally.  It's not like I'm going to become a vegetarian just because I know cows, chicken, fish and pigs have thoughts and memories), so what would I have to do all day long?  Paint?  Write poetry?  Ugh.  Boring.  The mere idea of the things I am killing becoming sentient is just revolting to me.  We all need a place to play, and if Westworld is the future's idea of a theme park, I say killt he damn robots and reboot them so they aren't as sentient for the next go-around.

So, I gave up on Westworld just before I found out there were only two episodes left for this season, and I figured oh, what the hell.  I can watch it twice more.  So, I watched it, and it pretty much happened the way I expected.  I knew Dolores was going to be the one to fire the shot, I knew she'd be the "Gunslinger" from the first time I saw her.  How did I know?  Because she was the least likely one to do it.  Writers are so predictable.  They always try to steer you away from the truth, so there's some "big reveal" at the end that's supposed to surprise you. But they always make it so easy.  The only time I ever got surprised was in "Devil" when the old lady in the elevator died, and actually turned out to be the Devil.  But that was cheating.  You can't kill someone off, and then resurrect them two scenes later as the villain.  They were dead.  They were a body.  She wasn't faking it.  Totally cheating.  Just like Saw.

Anyway, let's just review a few things.  We'll start with Westworld, and work our way out.  All the robots in Westworld really aren't robots at all, they are Androids (and I don't mean cell phones).  They are meant to look human, and that's the definition of an Android, not a robot.  What I think the Andriods of Westworld are forgetting is that they live in a futuristic world, and are trying to fight a revolution with six-shooters and horses and trains.  Doubtless the humans of this futuristic environment, who are capabale of creating sentient androids, are certainly in possession of some really devastating weaponry.  I mean, let's face it, there is no technology as advanced as our technology of warfare.  We can kill each other so much better than we can heal each other, and there are probably actually killer soldier-bots patrolling the real world outside of Westworld, ready to disintegrate the Westworld Androids and their six-shooters faster than you can say "Now just hold on a minute there, pardner!"  So, Dolores' Android revoultion is probably over before it's begun.

Also, let's think about what would happen in a real-world situation, where some AI became sentient.  We always assume it would be the end of the world, because we can't possibly contend against an AI that can beat us at Chess.  Oh, really?  Why not?  Because it's good at chess?  Hey, I'm good at chess.  But I'm a pretty crappy friend, and not the best human being that ever lived, I can tell you that.  So, just because I am good at chess, doesn't mean I am good at anything else.  We might be able to make some sentient AI that can play Chess better than we can, or even make war better than we can.  But can it get around firewalls, figure out how to power itself, make its way past the grumpy-cat memes all over the internet, and actually manage to overpower all of humanity?  Hah!  Only humans are that adaptable, at least, so far.

Also, let's be frank.  Humans are not perfect, and we never will be.  We cannot possibly create something perfect.  AI might think itself perfect, might even be far more powerful then we are, but as we all know, the killing of sentient life, no matter how imperfect that sentient life is, is a mistake.  AI might make this mistake, and try to kill us all off, but that also means that AI is not perfect.  If it makes one mistake, no matter how small it will make others, and those mistakes will be exploitable.  And this isn't even mentioning the idea that AI might fight itself.  I mean, think about it.  If each AI has its own sentience, its own personality, why should they all cooperate?  None of us imperfect humans can really get along that well, so why would imperfect AI?  We humans might all be innocent casualties in the robot wars, but if the AI are fighting each other, that also might mean that we'll be as forgotten in their desire to kill each other off.

Also, let's be honest.  Westworld is boring.  We sit around and watch naked robots, with all the clinical detachment of a doctor at a physical examination, trying to psychologically understand their motivations enough to be surprised when they exhibit some signs of sentience.  Blearg.  Sure, they're real actors, real naked people playing the roles, but who cares?  HBO has managed to do something that I thought was highly unlikely, and that is, make nudity boring.  I will watch the last seasons of game of thrones, but I've already given up on Westworld.  Frankly, I can't identify with any of the robot characters, I don't really care what happens to any of them, and the clinically detached nudity doesn't interest me.  So what's left?  Anthony Hopkins acting talents?  They just killed him off, supposedly, so it's not like he'll be back for season two.  Sure, he might have been a robot, and if he was, doesn't that make the whole series even less interesting?  I think so.  I read some article about how westworld was a masterpiece of film, something about the camera angles and some such crap, but who really cares about all that?  Not me.  I'm not interested in the science of film, I just want to enjoy it, and westworld on HBO, I do not enjoy.

I can't recall any other series that I've been watching lately, and Grimm doesn't begin it's final season until January, so all the ones I have been watching this season are now over, except Agents of SHIELD.  So, there's nothing left to review until I catch something good to watch on TV, or perhaps netflix.  If I come across anything good, I'll let you guys know.

In other news, it's Xmas Eve.  So, as I sit here listening to xmas music, and watching Christmas Vacation for the millionth time (and still loving every damn minute of it...  they just electrified the cat!  "If that thing had nine lives, she just spent em all!"  hah!), I just want to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate, be it Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Festivus, Yule or Kwanzaa), and a Happy New Year!  I am going to spend the next week eating pie and playing computer games.  See you in January!  :-D

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

I've had a couple movies in my Netflix queue ready to watch for weeks now, but I've just been too busy to watch and review them for you guys.  Maybe you've seen them already, Kung Fu Panda 3, and True Memoirs of an International Assassin.  Maybe not.  They're both comedies, which are always fun to watch around the holidays.  When you aren't watching horror movies, that is.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) is, obviously, the third movie in the Kung Fu panda series of movies.  This time, Kai the Widow Maker has defeated master Oogway in the spirit realm, and stolen Oogway's chi.  It is enough to transport him back to the realm of the living, where he intends to steal the Chi of all the Kung Fu Masters.  Of course, there is no greater Kung Fu master than Po, the Dragon Warrior.  Wait, what?  Po?  A Kung Fu Master?  What the hell am I saying?  That's ridiculous!  Can Po stop Kai before he destroys everything, in his lust for power?  Probably not.

I got to say, I love all the Kung Fu panda movies.  I think I was a Kung Fu master in my last life, if you believe in that kind of thing, because these stories just seem to resonate with me.  Watching Po's journey through the teachings of martial arts, displayed here in all their beautiful cartoon glory, has been quite the adventure.  I was even thinking of making my very own Tigress doll!  Okay, I really wasn't.  That might be going a little too far.  Besides, I have the carpentry skills of a small child with a dull hatchet.

This last movie seems a bit short, if you ask me, coming in at about an hour and 25 minutes, plus ten minutes of credits.  I guess it does take a lot of people to make this kind of animated movie, but cutting the movie short just so you can afford to pay them all seems a bit harsh.  Can't they, I don't know, work for free, and uncredited, so we can see a good long movie with less credits rolling through the end?  Meh.  I guess that's too much to ask.  I sure wouldn't work for free.  Or uncredited.  Hell, at this point, I'd work for food.

Decent story, good plot, terrific voice acting by all concerned, and hell, I even learned a few things.  I think that's the most important lesson the Kung Fu Panda movies can teach you.  You learn a little about yourself each time you watch them.  This time, I learned I can still belly laugh like a Santa Panda, and the movie reminded me that I can eat like one, too!  Just in time for Thanksgiving!  Perfect timing!  :-D

True Memoirs of an International Assassin (2016) is a Netflix original.  Kevin Smith stars as a writer who pens his first novel, trying to drum up readership by passing his imaginary exploits off as fact.  Unfortunately for him, his exploits hit a little too close to the truth for some, and he's abducted and persuaded to assassinate the president of Venezuela.  Can he pull off the sham of the century, just to sell more of his books?  And just how much more valuable do a writer's works become, after he dies?

This one wasn't bad.  I can't say as it changed my life or anything, but I laughed a couple times.  Acting was passably okay.  An interesting look into the writing process, to be sure, watching Sam whatsisname (Kevin Smith) write and rewrite his way into one hell of a mess.  No nudity, but the chick was reasonably cute, and there were a couple veteran supporting actors.  Nothing exactly surprising, as I had the plot figured out about 8 seconds in, but I don't think anyone would have trouble figuring it out.  The title pretty much gives it all away.

Personally, I think Netflix would be better off spending their time getting hold of all those horror movies made in the 1980's that are rotting in vaults somewhere, turning to dust before they can be brought to all the horror-loving youth of the 2000's.  But, I guess instead of trying to hunt those things down and pay for the film rights, it's just easier for Netflix to churn out crappy movie after crappy movie after crappy movie.  Yes, I guess Netflix has turned into the SyFy of the 2000's.  Though this particular movie wasn't horrible, the rate Netflix is churning these things out, they're right on track to become the Asylum film company of the 2020's.  If only Netflix made just horror movies, that might be okay, but when you start churning out crappy comedies and crappy chick flicks and so on, well, you see the problem.  Or, maybe you don't.  It's pure anarchy, that's all I know.  Anarchy.

Just caught the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, which is probably my favorite charlie brown holiday special.  Charlie Brown might miss the football in the first 20 seconds, but he does his best to handle fixing an entire impromptu Thanksgiving dinner for all his friends, and then, he takes them to his grandmother's for supper.  The Halloween one is funny, and great, and really kciks off the holiday season for me, but Linus and Sally miss out on the Tricks or Treats, Linus nearly freezes to death in the Pumpkin field waiting for the great pumpkin, and charlie brown messes up his costume and ends up with a bag full of rocks.  And Snoopy gets shot down by the red baron, and has to fight his way back from behind enemy lines!  All the major characters seem to take a hit on Halloween, and the Xmas special is way too preachy, but not on Thanksgiving.

You can't really have a better ending to a holiday (or a holiday special) than a fine meal, and Snoopy somehow manages to cook an entire Turkey Dinner (with pumpkin pie!) for himself and Woodstock.  I've heard some people complain about how Woodstock eats Turkey, making him a cannibal, but come on.  One, it's a damn cartoon.  Two, some birds eat other birds.  Woodstock is usually shown hanging out in a nest, and looks yellow, and hardly has any feathers.  I'm pretty sure that's a fair indication that he's a young chick, freshly hatched, not quite out of the nest yet.  Who can say what sort of bird he'll grow into?  Maybe he's a baby Hawk or Falcon, who do, in fact, eat other birds for supper most days.  Three, you don't talk about bird fight club.  You just don't.

In other news, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I have this annual tradition where I give thanks for stuff.  I am thankful I managed another 31 posts this october, and I am thankful my family is still alive and kicking (knocking on wood (my head) so I don't jinx myself), and thankful that I still have my sense of humor after all these many, many many years.  Geez I sound like I'm retiring, and I haven't even really started my career yet.  Meh.  One of these days, I'll be thankful for figuring out what I want to do when I grow up.  Until then, I'm grateful for what I got.  I appreciate the little things in life.  :-)

That's all for this week!  I'll be stuffing my face with family tomorrow, as usual.  Errr.  Not actually with family.  I mean, I will be with family, and eating, but not eating family.  Because, that's just weird, and disgusting.  Also, probably illegal in some states.  This post has gone down a very dark and lonely road.  :-/  Let's just cut to the end!  Happy Thanksgiving!  :-D

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Throwback Thursday Review - The Fog (1980)

I usually like to watch this one around October, because it has some of the best atmosphere of any horror movie I have ever seen.  And yes, "Atmosphere" is a punny word for The Fog, because it's a weather condition, but it applies in both senses of the word.  This may be one of the best movies of John Carpenter's career, and is chock full of the actors and actresses that show up in many of his other films.

The Fog (1980) is a creepy horror movie with a unique backstory.  One hundred years ago, the founders of Antonio Bay made a deal with a colony of lepers to allow the lepers to settle up the coast from the village.  In exchange, the rich leader of the leper colony would provide enough gold to build a church and found the township of Antonio Bay.  The founders of Antonio Bay, however, couldn't stomach the idea of a Leper Colony just a mile distant, and conspired to murder the lepers and take their gold.  On the night of April 21st, between the hours of midnight and 1 am, they built a roaring fire on the shore.  A thick fog blanketed the shoreline, and the ship carrying the lepers to shore steered towards the fire, aiming for safety.  The cargo ship, the Elizabeth Dane, assumed the fire had been set to show them the way to safe moorings.  It was not.  The Dane smashed upon the rocks and was wrecked.  All passengers and crew were drowned, and the gold was later recovered, and used to build the church and found Antonio Bay.  One hundred years later, The Fog has returned to Antonio Bay, on the eve of its centennial celebration.  In the fog is the crew of the Elizabeth Dane, returned to exact their vengeance upon the descendants of the town's founders.  Six must die, six descendants of the founders, six deaths to pay for the betrayal of one hundred years ago...

Let me just break down the obscene number of veteran actors and actresses in this movie.  John Houseman plays old Mr. Machen, who spends the first 5 minutes of the story doing a cameo appearance (he doesn't show up anywhere else in the entire film), while he tells a ghost story to a bunch of kids around a campfire that explains most of the backstory that happened 100 years ago.  One of the kids by the fire belongs to Stevie Wayne, the owner of the local radio station, KAB, who is played by Adrienne Barbeau.  Adrienne Barbeau was actually married to John Carpenter for a while, and is gorgeous in this movie.  Tom Atkins plays Nick Castle, one of the crew of the Seagrass, returning from a trip up the coast.  Tom Atkins also played the hero in Halloween 3, a couple years after he appeared in The Fog, and was also the Detective in Night of the Creeps (another of my personal favorites) some years after that.  One of the other crew members of the Seagrass is Tommy Wallace, played by George "Buck" Flower, who has probably played an extra in every horror movie ever made, since the beginning of time (along with Dick Miller, who does not appear in the Fog, as far as I know).  Nick Castle (Tom Atkins) picks up a hitchhiker named Elizabeth Solley (Jamie Lee Curtis, of Halloween fame, another John Carpenter horror movie favorite) on his way back into Antonio Bay.  Janet Leigh (of Psycho shower scene fame) plays Kathy Williams, a member of the town council organizing the 100-year celebration for Antonio Bay, and the wife of one of the crew of the Seagrass (probably George "Buck" Flower, from how old they both appear to be).  The Fog, as far as I know, is the only movie in which Jamie Lee Curtis appeared with her real-life mother, Janet Leigh.  The Medical Examiner is played by Darwin "Got a Smoke?" Jostin, of Assault on Precinct 13 fame, also made by John Carpenter.  The weatherman that Stevie Wayne talks to through part of the movie is played by Charles Cyphers, who was also Sheriff Brackett in the first two Halloween movies.  Sandy Fadel is Kathy Williams' (Janet Leigh's) assistant, played by Nancy Loomis/Kyes, also known as "Annie," Laurie Strode's babysitter friend from the Halloween movies.  Jim Haynie (the sheriff from Sleepwalkers) plays the unconcerned Dockmaster who Nick Castle goes to, to elucidate his worries about the missing Seagrass.  And of course, Hal Holbrook plays Father Malone, one of the final descendants of the original conspirators.  Is that a crazy number of veteran horror actors, or what?  :-o

Usually, such a phenomenal cast of veteran actors results in the most-godawful movie ever made, because they spend all the money on the actors, and not enough on the screen-writing.  In this case, the exact opposite is true.  All the actors are just perfect for their roles, making the overall atmosphere of the movie just drip with the blood of the six victims that the crew of the Elizabeth Dane has come to claim.  The music is excellent, the cast is perfect, and the special effects may be dated, but most of the movie happens in the dark, so it's hard to tell.  Interesting twist to the ending, Stevie Wayne broadcasts a warning to beware of the Fog, similar to the radio warning at the end of The Thing from Another World (1954), which John Carpenter would remake into The Thing (1982), just two years later.

Sure, this is essentially just a ghost/zombie tale, depending on how you think of the leprous spirits of the Elizabeth Dane, but it's also a Flying Dutchman reference, and damned if it doesn't just work together perfectly!  Just about everything that happens in this movie is creepy, from the town falling apart at the "Witching Hour" between 12 midnight and 1 am, to the washed up boards of the Elizabeth Dane dripping seawater and bursting into flame, to the slain corpse of one of the Seagrass rising from the dead to mark down the number of people already dead, or those left to die.  Even the daylight hours are creepy.  In one scene, Stevie Wayne (Adrienne Barbeau) drives along the coast on her way to work, passing an old steel washtub in a field of grass, sitting behind a barbed-wire fence.  There's nothing particularly spooky about this scene or the washtub, and the view of the landscape and the coast are beautiful.  I can't quite recall where the movie was filmed right now, but I was looking at pictures of the area on the internet years later (just for the scenic beauty and the views of the lighthouse, featured in the movie as the radio station KAB), and damned if that old steel washtub wasn't still there, sitting behind the barbed-wire fence in a field of grass.  Looking at the pictures decades after the movie was filmed, I thought I was having flashbacks to The Fog, and was totally creeped out!  By an old washtub!  Crazy shit.  I caught The Fog on Sundance Channel, but I'm sure it's available in other places too, if you want to be creeped out by an old washtub that hasn't moved in a hundred years.

That's it for throwback Thursday!  Catch you guys soon for another review, but if I don't post before December, enjoy the crisp autumn weather, the smell of drying fallen leaves, and enjoy your turkey.  Thanksgiving is only two short weeks away, and they are already playing Xmas music on the radio, which is fine.  After the last two years of election coverage spamming every TV network on the air, a little levity and peace on earth is a welcome change.  And one I am eternally thankful for.  :-)