STAKE LAND has got some teeth! Sharp, pointy ones!

April 23, 2011

There are two kinds of vampire movies made today. There’s the kind where the vamps want to kill you (VAMPIRES, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT) and there’s the kind where they want to kiss you (INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, TWILIGHT). Let’s face it folks, vampires are just a lot more interesting when they’re trying to suck the blood out of your neck, not when they’re getting all weepy and sparkly and sexy on your ass. I like my vamps cold-blooded and looking for a fresh kill, not a life partner. That’s why I thoroughly enjoyed the new independent horror flick, STAKE LAND so darn much. The vampires in this very entertaining little post-apocalyptic horror flick are more like the zombies in a Romero movie. They’d much rather suck an infant child dry for a snack than try to hold your hand and ask you to prom.

STAKE LAND takes place in a hellish vision of America where almost every living soul has either been eaten by or turned into a blood-sucking vampire from a mysterious, unexplained plague. Here we meet the veteran vamp slayer, Mister (played with bad assed charm by co-writer Nick Damici) and his teenage apprentice, Martin (Connor Paolo), who was rescued by the elder when he lost his entire family in a vamp attack shortly after the epidemic first began. Together they roam the barren, desolate country side in a beat up old Ford muscle car, looking for survivors to take with them to the rumored “New Eden”, that’s located somewhere across the Canadian border. Along the way they put together a surrogate “family” of survivors that include: a nun aptly named Sister (Kelly McGillis) and a young pregnant mother named Belle (played by modern day scream Queen and total cutie pie, Danielle Harris).

But the road to Eden is paved with many dangers, sometimes the least of which being the undead. There are clans of human cannibals who’ve run out of food and don’t mind feasting on fellow survivors. Then there’s this gosh darned cult of homicidal Christians that suck almost as bad as the vamps do. They get their fundamental kicks by dropping captured blood-suckers out of their helicopters and into the campgrounds of those whom they’ve determined to be sinners. Christ on a cracker! You’ve got to love a vampire movie where the biggest threat is a bunch of crazed tea baggers on a religious crusade!

Director Jim Mickle does a nice job of channeling the sensibilities of old school horror filmmakers like John Carpenter and George Romero, and much like a Romero zombie film, STAKE LAND’s strength comes from its strong social commentary. It points a wooden stake at religious fundamentalism almost as often as it does at the killer vamps and THIS is what elevates it into something much more original and interesting than other films of this type. Even in a world overrun with vampires, mankind is still the most frightening thing to deal with.

STAKE LAND is an original horror movie that is being released by IFC Films and it is NOT a remake or a sequel. It mixes a little of THE ROAD with I AM LEGEND and ZOMBIELAND and creates something new, interesting and frightening that should be seen and supported by fans of the genre everywhere. There are a lot of great action sequences, some terrific scares, tons of great gore, solid acting performances, a very smart script and some beautiful cinematography that sets a perfectly bleak tone with images of grim looking landscapes that are filled with overcast skies, dead forests and murky blue hues. The film was made with a lot of love and hard work that shows from beginning to end. Go see it, suckers!

Planet of the Nerds’ Best Movies of 2010!

January 7, 2011

2010 was an awesome year for film geeks. I saw a lot of great movies and even the bad movies I saw this year had a special unique quality that elevated them from the previous year’s turkeys. From big studio epics to art house independents to a barrage of amazing big and low budget exploitation films, 2010 covered every base for me. Here’s my list of all the best and a few of the worst. Enjoy!



I can’t believe that my favorite movie of the year was an existential Viking film with almost no dialogue, about a one eyed, mute warrior who accompanies a child and a group of Christian soldiers on a journey to bring the word of God to the New World, but Nicolas Winding Refn’s badass cinematic masterpiece blew my fucking mind in a very BIG way. An art house Barbarian flick with a very Alejandro Jodorowsky vibe, this movie stirred something deep in my soul while immersing me in a world of violence, fear, survival and religious and spiritual awakening that left me floored. THIS is what true cinema is all about. Nicolas (BRONSON, THE PUSHER TRILOGY) Refn continues to prove that he is one of the most creative and interesting filmmakers working today.


There is no way I could have expected to love TOY STORY 3 as much as I did. I’m a HUGE fan of 1 and 2, so I just assumed that 3 would be a good, serviceable sequel. What I got was not only my favorite entry in the series, but the most emotionally engaging movie of the whole damn year. TOY STORY 3 made me cry! Hard! Pixar’s ability to continuously create animated features that connect on such a purely human level is downright amazing to me. This is the third year in a row that a film of theirs has made my list and I hope and expect that this trend will continue…to infinity and beyond!


I love that Christopher Nolan released one of the smartest big budget films of the year smack dab in the middle of the mindless wasteland that was last summer’s movie season. Amid a junkyard of bad sequels, remakes and plain old crappy CGI saturated garbage, Nolan gives us something original, compelling, smartly written, well acted and thoughtfully directed. Thanks! It’s an ultra cool trip into a world of dreamscape espionage that fuses the spy movie aesthetic with cyberpunk science fiction in a tale that’s all about redemption and letting go of your inner baggage. Tom Hardy delivered a rock solid supporting performance and I can’t wait to see what he and Nolan have in store for us with the next BATMAN movie!


Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of a graphic novel I’ve never read before was released in the spring to some very mixed reactions. The marketing led audiences to expect a family friendly superhero movie, but instead what they got was a dark, mature, ultra-violent parody of the genre that pulled absolutely no punches whatsoever and featured a 10 year old girl chopping criminals into pieces with a razor sharp sword. I was delighted by this movie’s audacity, manic energy, humor and complete and total insanity. There were times when I couldn’t believe the filmmakers went where they went with it, but I’m so very happy that they did. I loved Nicholas Cage’s performance as the psychotic caped crusader, Big Daddy. His homage to Adam West’s Batman warmed my heart.


There was an advanced screening of this movie at last summer’s Comic-Con that I attended. It was held in a beautiful old theatre in San Diego that was packed with ecstatic geeks and the reaction from the audience was enormously positive. An enthusiastic standing ovation was given to Edgar Wright and the entire cast as they all came out for a post-screening concert with the band Metric, who performed most of the songs in the film. It was an incredibly cool event and I was convinced that this movie was going to be a HUGE hit. Several weeks later I saw it again at a theatre in L.A. on opening weekend and the reaction from the crowd was fairly weak. I don’t understand if it was the film’s unique narrative style that threw people off or what, but I think SCOTT PILGRIM is one of the most original I’ve seen all year long and proof that Edgar Wright is a genius. Yet another movie based on a graphic novel that takes the comic book formula and completely deconstructs it into something fresh and cool.


This is a stylish psychosexual thriller for the ages and proof that Darren Aronofsky is one of the most visually compelling filmmakers of our generation. It’s the kind of film that Brian DePalma, Roman Polanski and David Cronenberg used to make. Natalie Portman delivers the best performance of the year (as well as her entire career) in a very twisted story of fear, envy, lust and insanity in the competitive world of professional ballet. The amazing cinematography is gorgeously gothic throughout this sleek, sexy and scary film.


It was one of the most grueling movie watching experiences of my life, but when it was over I knew I had just seen a very powerful film. This is the only pick on my list that I did not see in a theatre because it barely got a release. I watched it on VOD one night alone and it chilled me down to my bones. It’s difficult to categorize this little indie, which is kind of like a SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE-style relationship movie that slowly burns into a brutally violent revenge story with one of the bleakest endings I’ve ever seen. It centers on three characters (a struggling musician, an Iraq war veteran and a promiscuous young woman) whose lives become tragically and violently intertwined in Austin, Texas. The performances are incredibly realistic and the movie is as gripping and uncompromising as anything I’ve ever seen before. Great cinema!


Eli Craig’s brilliant situation-horror-comedy was one of the laugh-out-loud funniest movies of the year for me. This was a huge hit at last year’s Sundance, but still has not found any kind of release theatrically and will eventually be dumped on home video sometime this year. That sucks because this is one movie that should definitely be seen with an audience. I caught a screening of it at The Cinefamily in L.A. about 6 months ago and it was massively well received. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk share perfect comic chemistry together as two sweet, dimwitted country bumpkins who are continuously mistaken for a couple of backwoods psychopaths by a group of vacationing college kids. It’s like a cross between an episode of THREE’S COMPANY and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The laughs continue to escalate throughout, along with one violent (and hilarious) set piece after another, creating a new genre that I like to call splat-stick. Rent it. Buy it. Love it.


Yes, this film is from 2008 and almost every nerd I know saw it at a festival or on DVD in 2009, but it didn’t receive a theatrical release in the U.S. until last year where I saw it at the Nuart theatre here in L.A. For me, this is the best (and oddest) western of 2010. Director Ji-woon Kim delivers a rollicking yarn about a group of outlaws searching for an ancient map that leads to buried treasure. The movie is filled with some of the most glorious old school action committed to celluloid since RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and the stunt choreography in this film is as epic as it gets. I loved the Sergio Leone meets George Miller style of editing and cinematography.


Maybe I’m crazy, but I enjoyed the shit out of this sick, demented little sci-fi monster movie about a scientist couple creating a new life form through gene splicing, so that they can become rich and famous. It’s the kind of fucked up bio-horror type film that David Cronenberg would be proud of (like THE FLY and THE BROOD). I love that the two main characters are completely unlikable, unethical yuppie scumbags and the methods they employ to accomplish their goals are as refreshingly fucked up as I could have hoped for. When the movie was over I said aloud, “Wow, they went there. They really went there.” This was one of the bravest and most underrated horror films released last year.

Other films I thought deserved mention are:


David O. Russell has made one of the best boxing movies since ROCKY and just like that classic piece of sporting cinema, it’s all about the characters and the struggle for the title shot rather than the actual fight itself (although that’s pretty awesome too). All the acting here is great. Mark Wahlberg proves that he can deliver a solid performance when he’s got a great script in front of him and Amy Adams is sexy and sassy as all hell as his girlfriend, but this movie is all about Christian Bale. His role as the crack addicted older brother and trainer who’s trying to accomplish his own personal “comeback” is one of the single greatest performances of the year. Bale’s complete transformation into this beautifully nuanced character is a welcome relief from the usual hero roles we see him in and proves that he’s one of the most accomplished actors of his generation. Great film!


No film summed up the empty narcissism of this past decade better than David Fincher’s beautifully filmed dissection of Mark Zuckerberg and the THING known as facebook. Aaron Sorkin’s poison pen does a lovely job at giving us a main character that I completely loathed and occasionally sympathized with. It makes sense that one of the most addictive (and sometimes destructive) social experiments of our time was created by a lonely, vindictive nerd who just wanted to be accepted and make a few friends. Like.


Duke Mitchell’s long lost and finally completed 1970’s religious gangster epic is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen before. Mitchell plays an ex-con who decides to sail a yacht to Rome, so that he can kidnap the Pope in exchange for the ransom of “a dollar from every Catholic in the world.” Academy-award winning editor Bob Murawski discovered the film (originally shot in 1975) in Mitchell’s son’s garage and pieced it together over the last 15 years. This newly discovered gem is an instant grindhouse exploitation classic that’s currently touring the country, so check it out on 35mm in a city near you.


One of the scariest horror films I saw all year long was this true crime documentary about the connections between an old east coast urban legend and a real life boogeyman who may have been responsible for several missing children in Staten Island, New York. Then there’s the condemned mental institution in the middle of the woods that the accused once worked at as a caregiver to make things even creepier. A real life slasher film of sorts!


I’ve never felt more nervous expectation before watching a movie in my life. This notorious film from Tom Six about a mad doctor (played to perfection by Dieter Laser) who abducts three innocent victims and surgically connects them together ass-to-mouth was the most surprisingly entertaining horror film of the year. It’s much funnier than I was expecting it to be and it delightfully accomplishes it’s goal of freaking everyone out who watches it, while somehow making you (well me at least) root for the experiment and its creator to succeed. FEED HER!


This wonderful documentary about the cult surrounding what is considered to be one of the worst films ever made, TROLL 2, is so incredibly entertaining to watch simply because George Hardy (the star and subject of both films) is as charming and enthusiastic a man as any I’ve ever seen before. His journey from small town dentist to bad movie icon and horror nerd personality was a joy to watch. I hope we see him again soon in TROLL 2 PART 2 in 3-D!


A very bleak, heartbreaking film about a trio of friends that attend a remote boarding school in the English countryside as children, only to be used as “donors” for the greater good of mankind when they are older. This was a very heartbreaking story that was beautifully acted and written.


Very entertaining doc about the guerilla street art scene that starts out as a mad Frenchman’s obsession in following around and filming guys like Space Invader, Shepard Fairey and the great and mysterious Bansky as they create their graffiti masterpieces around the world. But it’s when Bansky turns the camera around on the filmmaker himself that we gain some insight into his true intentions and the very nature of the hype obsessed art world and the lemmings that follow it. Obey.

19. [REC] 2

It picks up where the first one ended and escalates the tension and scares in a big way. A SWAT team must accompany a City Health Officer into “the” quarantined building to find the nature of the “disease”. What they find is an answer much more horrifying than a simple zombie-infestation. Faster paced, gorier and just as nerve jangling as [REC].


This was one highly effective thriller! I’ve never liked skiing and after seeing this, I’m staying the fuck away from all slopes, chalets and mountains from here on out. Adam Green keeps the tension at an extreme with this perfect winter terror flick and maintains his status as cinema’s top horror auteur. HATCHET 2 was a gore soaked delight, too!


Scorsese’s haunted house movie was some good, atmospheric fun. I knew the twist going in thanks to some spoiler laden trailers, but that didn’t stop me from grooving on this well made film that was like THE SHINING meets JACOB’S LADDER.


This was the most entertaining Dreamworks animated film yet. Great 3-D compliments a wonderful coming-of-age film about a Viking boy learning how to fly a dragon. Awesome.


Totally hilarious! Four friends travel back to 1986 by way of a hot tub time machine and attempt to fix their broken lives, party, get laid and return to the present. Like BACK TO THE FUTURE on coke!


A very well done prequel/sequel to last year’s highly effective found footage haunted house movie. This one does a remarkable job of repeating the same level of creepy scares, while also tying the two films together nicely, and expanding upon the story and characters from the original, too. Amazing how effective a good sound design can be!


Based on the faux GRINDHOUSE trailer, this Mexploitation revenge tale was one stuffed burrito of a movie! I loved the insane violence, hot chicks, crazy action, and like a true exploitation movie from the cynical 70’s, it had a brilliant and timely political and social subtext. Danny Trejo stars in the role he was born to play, along with one of the oddest and coolest casts ever assembled. Lots of sex, violence and tacos for everyone, plus a naked Jessica Alba! Machete don’t text!



I had a feeling this franchise was built on wobbly legs when I saw the first one, which to me was primarily successful due to an inspired and mostly improvised performance by Robert Downey Jr. The sequel was a self-indulgent mess of a movie with a weak plot and almost no action. There were times when I actually felt like I was watching a bad sitcom and the Tony Stark character officially went from being a likable jerk to an obnoxious dickhead that I could care less about. This was a franchise killer.


I wish I had a knife with magic sand in it that could give me back the two hours of my life I wasted watching this wretched film, that featured a cast of white people with British accents playing Persians. WTF!?


Will someone please stop George Romero from making anymore zombie films?! I loved LAND OF THE DEAD, but I can’t take anymore of his inferior new “reboot” series. Especially now that THE WALKING DEAD on AMC is doing Romero better than Romero is, I really wish the man would just retire. There’s a nice social commentary present in this most recent one, but it’s just not original enough or scary enough to stand up against his previous films and features some horrendous acting and even worse CGI effects. When Romero starts using digital blood it’s time to aim for the head and shoot!


Mix THE TERMINATOR with a little DEMON KNIGHT and you got yourself this really boring film about God declaring war on all of mankind by sending all the angels in heaven to Earth to destroy us. It was DOGMA played like a graphic novel only with less action and excitement.


Great special effects, but a terrible script and totally unnecessary 3-D made this a whole lot less awesome than I thought it should have been. Seriously, how do you fuck up a CLASH OF THE TITANS remake? They should have remade KRULL instead.



Ok, so it wasn’t a perfect sequel by any means. I personally think that the young CGI Jeff Bridges was a bad idea for the main villain and it SHOULD have been the Cillian Murphy character instead. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and found the visuals to be some of the best looking eye candy I’ve ever seen. It was a fun and totally unnecessary sequel to a movie I love and I’m happy that they made it. Also, that Daft Punk score was EPIC!

Well, that does it for me on 2010. I saw a lot of movies last year and you can bet I’ll continue to see a lot more this year, too. Nerd out!


October 27, 2010

Everybody likes to watch horror movies on Halloween, right? Here’s a list I compiled of some titles that don’t always get the love they deserve. Some are not available on DVD or are out of print, so you’ll have to do some looking, but it’ll definitely be worth it.  Here goes:


Shunned by horror fans everywhere upon its initial release for not having anything to do at all with the slasher saga featuring Michael Myers, this is an overlooked and misunderstood classic that’s finally beginning to get some respect from nerds everywhere. It deserves it, because HALLOWEEN III is a delightfully fucked up film about the holiday. The plot involves a crazy old toy maker and owner of a novelty company called Silver Shamrock who plans on killing all the children on Halloween that wear his new line of masks during a special T.V. “promotion” shown on the day! How crazy is that? Featuring a solid starring role by the great Tom Atkins (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE FOG), an amazing score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, and one of the most disturbing scenes involving a family watching television ever filmed, this is a perfect movie to watch on the night of Samhain, trust me.


Clive Barker’s masterpiece about a secret community of mutant creatures that live in a mysterious dreamland is less about monsters and more about just trying to fit in when you’re different from everyone else. What nerd couldn’t relate to that? Featuring fantastic effects, great gore and an incredibly creepy performance by horror directing legend David Cronenberg as a serial killer shrink, this movie ROCKS!


Probably one of the creepiest horror movies ever made, this one is about a group of teenagers that become stranded at a secluded roadside wax museum, where they are murdered one by one by a lunatic who has telekinetic control over his mannequins. What?! For a PG rated movie it’s one of the scariest I’ve ever seen. The murders are far more innovative than the usual stalk and slash and the special effects are terrific. Did I mention there’s a sizzling hot Tanya Roberts running around in a halter top and short shorts? Are you sold yet?


This is one of my favorite slimy monster movies from the 80s. A group of friends stay at an old, scary house so they can help their friend unlock the mystery of his dead mother’s secret experiment, which involves a gross little creature that starts killing them off. Highlights include, Academy Award winning actor Rod Steiger screaming his lungs out while being showered in goo and a scene involving a watermelon that’s simply sublime.


What’s not to love about a scary movie that takes place in a theatre during an all-night horrorthon? Absolutely nothing! This film is SO much fun in every conceivable way you can’t help but fall in love with it. More than your typical slasher, it has a great mystery and a very strange back story that keeps you guessing. It also has horror veterans like Jill Schoelen (THE STEPFATHER) and Dee Wallace (THE HOWLING, CUJO) delivering great performances, and it features a very original death involving a giant prop mosquito. Pass the popcorn, please.


The late Stan Winston directed this great horror flick for the holiday about a man who conjures up a giant monster to kill a group of kids who accidentally murdered his son. Featuring amazing special effects by the master himself and an iconic and terrifying looking creature that still holds up to anything created today. This is a perfect Halloween flick in every way. It also serves as an interesting morality tale and it’s got Lance Henriksen acting his ass off as usual.


Did you ever wonder what E.T. would be like if instead of a cute, Reese’s pieces addicted alien we got a flesh eating monster in its place? Look no further, because TERROR VISION is what you’ve been dreaming about. This is pure B-movie bliss. The Putterman family has just installed a new satellite system on their T.V. that starts receiving transmissions from an alien world. All hell breaks loose when a creature with an insatiable appetite crosses through and into their home where it starts eating everything and everyone in sight. This is a fun, campy movie that features performances by Gerrit Graham (USED CARS), Mary Woronov (DEATH RACE 2000, ROCK ‘N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL) and Jon Gries (JOYSTICKS). Switch back to cable, quick!


One of John Carpenter’s most underrated films as well as one awesome spin on the run of the mill demon possession formula. A group of physics students and a priest (Donald Pleasence) lock themselves in an old abandoned church in Los Angeles to decipher an ancient warning involving a swirling mass of green liquid kept in the basement. They soon discover that the contents of the jar contain the energy of Satan himself who plans on releasing an Anti-God upon the Earth! Holy shit! The students who get too close are turned into mindless zombies after being sprayed in the mouth with the substance and the city’s homeless surround the church to do the dark lord’s bidding. This is one scary, original and atmospheric horror movie with a creepy plot device involving a future transmission beamed backwards into your sleeping subconscious that still gives me goose bumps to this day.


One of the weirdest, coolest and most original haunted house movies ever made, this Japanese horror film from the 70s is like watching a Grimm’s fairy tale on LSD. The plot involves a young schoolgirl who invites her six girlfriends to her Aunt’s remote country house for the summer. They soon discover the house is alive with evil spirits and they are slowly killed off in highly imaginative ways. One overweight girl has her head turned into a watermelon, while another girl who likes music is eaten alive by a piano. Incredible imagery and beautifully drawn characters makes this a surreal ghost story classic.


From the twisted minds of H.P. Lovecraft, director Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR) and screenwriter Brian Yuzna (SOCIETY) comes this freaky, psychedelic horror flick from the 80s! Dark humor and grisly violence combine in a plot about a group of scientists performing experiments with a machine called the “resonator” that stimulates the pineal gland and opens up a parallel universe filled with hostile creatures. It has an amazing cast featuring Jeffery Combs (THE FRIGHTENERS), Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD) and the always sexy, Barbara Crampton (who’s dressed in a leather bondage outfit at one point. WOOF!). Atmospheric, bold and one highly entertaining film.

11.,12., & 13. PHANTASM I, II & III

I didn’t include PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION because it’s my least favorite in the series, but if you want to check out an awesome horror trilogy this Halloween, you can’t do much better than Don Coscarelli’s PHANTASM movies. Each film picks up after the last film leaves off and each one increases the insanity, surrealism and gore output by a thousand percent. The storyline involving The Tall Man (an evil funeral home operator from another world) and his attempt to turn the recently deceased into vicious little dwarves that are used as slave labor on his home planet, is one of the most original ever conceived. Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm keep things consistent with their perfect performances and the silver balls are always a joy to watch as they kill people in the most imaginative and violent ways possible. I also love the way you never know for sure if what you’re watching is reality or a dream and Coscarelli did it long before Wes Craven ever did with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.


My favorite David Cronenberg movie and one of the scariest and weirdest “evil children” films ever made. An always excellent and intense, Oliver Reed plays a psychologist who performs a controversial therapy technique on his patients called “Pschoplasms”. One of his favorite disciples is a troubled mother who may be connected to a group of deformed children that brutally murder everyone she seems to have an issue with. This is another twisted entry into Cronenberg’s body horror films and one of his scariest. The day care scene is one of the most disturbing sequences ever filmed.


Ever wonder what PSYCHO would have been like if there was no mystery at all and instead of dressing like his mother and stabbing women in the shower, Norman dressed in a fire retardant outfit and burned them alive with a flame thrower? If the answer is yes, than this is the film you’ve been looking for. It is a sleazy, weird little piece of exploitation madness from 1980 that will really freak you out. More in the vein of William Lustig’s MANIAC than the Hitchcock classic, the story is about an abused Momma’s boy who reacts to the death of his cruel matriarch by playing his records really loud and frying women to a crisp in a special fireproof room he constructs in the family abode. Great movie, but you might need to take a SILKWOOD style shower to scrub the griminess off when this one’s over.

Well, that’s my list for this year. Have a happy Halloween and watch some scary movies!

The Third Annual All Night Horror Show @ The New Bev!

October 12, 2010

It was that magical time of the year again! That time when Phil Blankenship hosts his Third Annual All Night Horror Show at the fabulous New Beverly Cinema here in L.A. I’ve attended the first two all nighters and I was there again for another heaping helping of scary flicks shown over a 12 hour period. It’s a serious endurance test for all horror movie maniacs and if you can make it all the way to the end, you’re one of the proud, the brave and the insane. This year was without a doubt, the best one I’ve ever attended. Each selection made me very happy and I’m marking the days on my calendar ’till next year’s all nighter. The following is a hazy recollection filtered through various chemicals (actually it was only a lot of caffeine and sugar this year ’cause I’m on the wagon):

1st movie:

DARIO ARGENTO’S TENEBRAE (1982) is my second favorite giallo of all time, right after Argento’s DEEP RED. It was a joy to watch this on the big screen with an audience. This fun filled and extremely violent movie is about a famous giallo writer who has come to Rome to promote his new book, Tenebrae. In an unsuspected bit of unwanted publicity, a black gloved killer is slicing women up and stuffing pages from the book in their mouths. Argento is clearly having fun with the genre as everyone is a suspect in this flick and the red herrings are tossed around like a trip to an Asian fish market. At one point even a vicious doberman is a possible killer (by the way, the dog is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen, and at one point it actually sizes up a tall fence, backs up and jumps it in a single bound). Even the actual killer turns out to be a red herring for yet another mysterious killer! The bloody murders are incredibly stylish as usual, especially one where a woman has her arm chopped off with an ax that sprays a geyser of blood against a wall like an abstract artist painting his canvas. The audience ate this one up and it was a great way to start things off.

2nd movie:

What better way to follow up a great Italian horror movie then with another great Italian horror movie. LUCIO FULCI’S THE GATES OF HELL (A.K.A. THE CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD) is a wonderfully insane supernatural zombie flick. It’s about a priest who happens to hang himself in a cemetery over one of the 7 portals of Hell, in a town call Dunwich. Bad choice, because all kinds of crazy hell breaks loose, literally. Before long the residents are having the back of their heads ripped off by zombies that can actually teleport. Let me tell ya, there is nothing more unfair than a zombie that can just materialize out of thin air directly behind you. You can’t defend yourself against that. How about the suicidal priest coming back as a demon who can telepathically make your eyes bleed and cause you to puke out your guts? Not cool. And just when you thought everyone was safe and sound inside the house, cue the maggot storm! That’s right, real maggots showering you from head to toe. These events have their toll on the towns people’s patience, as clearly shown when a protective father shoves a guys head through a power drill because he catches him smoking weed with his daughter. This movie’s plot is all over the map and concludes with a final shot that I still don’t really understand, but I don’t care. I love this movie and it really plays well with an audience. Nobody does crazy fucked up horror as well as the Italians do. Bravo!

3rd movie:

THE EVIL is a creepy little haunted house movie from 1978 that I’ve never seen before. Richard Crenna and Joanna Pettet play a couple who have just purchased an old, cob web filled mansion. They invite a group of friends and some former psychiatric patients of Crenna to help clean the place up. But when Crenna opens up a door in the basement that’s sealed with a weird looking crucifix (bad sign) an evil presence seals the home up making escape impossible. A ghostly apparition tries to help, but one by one the guests drop like flies. There are lots of electrocutions, a dog pushes a woman down a flight of stairs, Andrew Prine (wearing a weird pair of sailor pants) gets stuck in quick sand, and Victor Buono plays the goddamned Devil. What more can I say?

??Surprise movie??

Last year’s surprise movie almost created a near riot when three episodes of TALES FROM THE CRYPT were shown and met with a fairly negative reaction. Well, Phil made up for it this year with a very well received presentation of the 80s Heavy Metal Horror classic TRICK OR TREAT (1986). It was just what everyone wanted at exactly the right time. The fourth film in the night is the RALLY movie where you really need to invigorate the crowd and this one did just that. I’ve never seen TRICK OR TREAT before, so it was a great TREAT for me to finally see it on the big screen with an extremely enthusiastic crowd. The plot concerns a high school metalhead named Eddie Weinbauer (played by Marc Price A.K.A. Skippy from FAMILY TIES) who is constantly being bullied by a group of mean jocks. He is the number one fan of a devil worshipping metal God named Sammi Curr, who is killed in a accidental hotel fire. Heartbroken Eddie seeks support from a metal DJ named Nuke (Gene Simmons) and is given a rare demo album the deceased rock star cut before his untimely death. Eddie soon realizes that Sammi Curr is trying to return to life through the backwards passages on his record. Before long, he starts getting back at the bullies who’ve wronged him as the homicidal rocker returns to the world of the living. This movie was a lot of fucking fun! The awesome music was by the hair band FASTWAY and it was directed by actor Charles Martin Smith (AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STARMAN). Rock on!

5th movie:

Global panic ensues when it is revealed that a mysterious UFO is actually a giant bird that flies at supersonic speed and has no regard for life or architecture. – IMDB plot description for THE GIANT CLAW.

I remember seeing scenes from THE GIANT CLAW (1957) as part of the incredible MOVIE ORGY that Joe Dante edited together along with a handful of other shlocky creature features from the 50s. This one peaked my interest because it featured a giant rubbery looking vulture swooping down and destroying buildings and knocking airplanes out of the sky. This was an inspired choice. A nice taste of old school monster movie madness. It’s about a hot shot jet pilot (are there any other kind?) who spies a UFO “as big as a battleship” one day while flying a test mission. He’s dismissed as a crackpot, but when it becomes apparent that there is actually a giant bird destroying shit and gobbling people up, he becomes the hero who must save the day. Turns out the creature is from some antimatter universe and can only be destroyed with antimatter weaponry (pure nonsensical 50s logic). This movie was a surprising amount of campy fun that kept me chuckling as we pressed further into the early morning hours.

6th movie:

BREEDERS (1986) had been described to me previously as “80 minutes of alien rape” and that’s exactly what it was. This was the HOLY FUCKING SHIT movie of the night and at a time when my attention was drifting towards sleep, it perked me up and kept me glued to the screen with its ridiculous plot, cheesy gore, excessive nudity and the worst acting ever committed to film. The single women of New York are being attacked and raped by a creature that mutates from human form into a nasty, slimy monster with tentacles and a huge penis-finger. The women are all virgins, which is a tough nut to swallow considering all the actresses are in their late twenties, live in the largest city in the world and it’s the 80s. One of the virgin victims is a bathing suit model who snorts cocaine for lunch and does nude aerobics in the studio. The only two people who can crack the case are the world’s dumbest police detective and an equally dumb female doctor with huge hair, who also happens to be a virgin. They uncover a hidden lair in the subway tunnels where the rape victims bathe in a hot tub full of alien semen so they can transform into something more horrifying. This movie was like SEX AND THE CITY meets HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Pure madness and I loved every second of it.

7th movie:

I blacked out from exhaustion following BREEDERS, but I managed to stir awake just in time to catch the last half of THE OUTING (1987). Another wacky 80s horror flick that I somehow missed back in the day. This one (from what I can gather) was about a group of teenagers who somehow awaken an evil monster genie from a bottle. The kids have decided to spend the night in a museum and that’s where the genie starts magically killing them off one by one. One girl is bitten to death by cobras while she takes a bath and two wannabe rapist jocks are murdered with their own masks. It all leads to a showdown with the giant rubber genie chasing the main girl and her parents through the museum as they attempt to destroy the magic lamp. I always thought genies were supposed to be helpful and grant you three wishes and shit. This movie felt like a surreal dream that I was having or how I really wanted NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM to actually play. It closed the All Night Horror Show with a bang!

My fellow Horror Show veteran, Grae Drake (who couldn’t make it all the way through last year) and I stumbled out into the bright early morning sun feeling like we really accomplished something. Anyone can hang for part of the night, but it takes a certain kind of geek warrior to make it ’till the very end. It’s what separates the men from the boys. Or the normal from the crazy. Can’t wait until next year!


Wide awake and ready to be scared at the start of the All Night Horror Show.



12 hours later. We survived.


My Top 10 Favorite Slasher Films of All Time

October 5, 2010

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve decided to compile a list of my all time favorite films from my all time favorite sub genre of horror: the slasher film. From the inspirations drawn from the Italian Giallo genre, the slasher film exploded in the late 70s and early 80s. The year 1981 gave birth to hundreds of cheaply made slashers and each one of them made money. The simple formula of a crazed killer stalking and killing a group of unsuspecting teenagers one by one has been probably the most successful form of American horror next to the zombie film. It was a direct product of a cynical era still trying to come to terms with sexual freedom and the women’s movement. Some call the films puritanical rage against feminism and the casual sex and drug use of the late 60s and early 70s. Whatever it was that caused this pop culture phenomenon, I regard the slasher genre as one of the most honest and pure forms of horror ever created. To this day Hollywood continues to churn out slasher films for new generations of teenagers to enjoy. They are a rite of passage for young lovers and a good excuse to cling on to somebody in the dark. This is a list of my all time favorites…

1. HALLOWEEN (1978)

This is the undisputed classic that was such a huge success, it created a flood of copycats trying to cash in on its low budget money making magic, and it is the main reason the slasher genre was born. It is also the template for all slasher films to follow: Deranged, masked killer escapes on the anniversary of committing a horrible crime and kills every horny, pot smoking teenager he comes across. The “survivor” girl is a prudish, all American type who must confront the maniac one on one. This is also the first slasher to create an unstoppable killer who simply will not die, so he can return again in sequel after sequel. It is also the first of many “holiday” theme slasher films, taking the best of them for its own and creating the most iconic killer ever created, Michael Myers. Everything about this one is perfect. John Carpenter’s brilliant direction combined with Dean Cundey’s incredible steadicam photography, the erie opening theme music and Jamie Lee Curtis’ beautiful portrayal of Laurie Strode add up to greatness. This film also has the amazing Donald Pleasance as the greatest adversarial psychiatrist ever born. As Sam Loomis, he is the Captain Ahab to the boogeyman’s Moby Dick. This film is a genre definer.

Best sequel: HALLOWEEN II (1981)


HALLOWEEN may have been the slasher film to start the wave of imitations, but John Carpenter himself was obviously inspired by this, the first holiday themed slasher film ever made. Although its inspirations are more Giallo than anything else, this is the movie that started it all. A crazed maniac has broken into a sorority house that’s emptying out for the Christmas holiday. He delivers frightening obscene phone calls to the few girls remaining and then starts killing them off one by one. The creepiest thing about this movie is the fact that you are never aware of who and why the killer is doing what he’s doing. Several red herrings are tossed around, but in the end the lunatic is still loose and never revealed. This is probably one of the most chilling and creepiest slashers ever made. If Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN is the Father of the genre, BLACK CHRISTMAS is the Grandfather.


Another great entry in the holiday slasher formula. This one concerns an escaped madman named Harry Warden, who has returned to the town of Valentine’s Bluff on you guessed it, Valentine’s Day, to extract some vengeance on the towns people who left him in an collapsed mine shaft for way too long. Or is it really Harry Warden? There’s a romantic love triangle at work in this grimy, working class slasher that really changes the game in a very interesting way. The final reveal and ending scene are one of the most chilling I’ve ever witnessed.


The “summer camp” slasher is another wonderful byproduct of the genre and a direct result of the success of the original FRIDAY THE 13th. THE BURNING stands out for many reasons. First, it was written and produced by the Weinstein brothers and industry mogul Brad Grey. Second, it features first time performances by Jason Alexander (with hair), Fisher Stevens and Holly Hunter. Third, it breaks from the standard slasher formula in several unique ways: There is a mass group murder in which the horribly burned killer Cropsey chops up a raft full of kids with a pair of gardening sheers. Also, the “survival” girl prototype is abandoned for a “survival” boy. The gore effects by maestro Tom Savini are top notch and there is a pervasive theme of sleaze, voyeurism and aggressive male sexuality that makes this one a little grimier than the others.

5. THE PROWLER (1981)

THE PROWLER is another one of those slashers that fucks around with the spurned lover concept. This one opens with a WWII G.I. jilted in a Dear John letter who returns home with a vengeance. After killing his disloyal love and her new beau with a pitchfork, the movie jumps decades ahead to a dance thrown at the same sight as the previous murders. This movie is a total balls out slasher with some of the goriest and most creative kills ever produced by SFX master, Tom Savini. It also has a scary ass ending that’ll make you jump out of your seat with fright.


Wes Craven really changed the game with this awesomely entertaining and atmospheric slasher that totally twists the genre in a unique way by inventing a killer who’s already dead and can only kill you in your dreams. Sooner or later we all have to sleep and that’s when the iconic Freddy Krueger gets you with his glove made of knives. The first one is still the most serious and the most scary.


7. FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)

This one owes just as much to Mario Bava’s Giallo classic TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (A.K.A BAY OF BLOOD) as it does to HALLOWEEN. The first of the “summer camp” slashers, it is also the first to really amp up the inventive and violent kill scenes. Tom Savini creates one brutal murder after another, as a mysterious killer starts offing a group of counsellors trying to open a closed camp. This is the first of one of the longest running slasher series ever made and the introduction to the iconic Jason Vorhees.



There is a perverse joy I get from this film about a crazy orphan who dresses up like Santa Claus and butchers folks with an ax at Christmas time. A child is severely traumatized by watching a criminal dressed like Ole Saint Nick kill his father and mother (after raping her). He grows up to be a psycho who loses his shit at the holidays and starts offing the locals. The movie is cheaply made in Utah and features some of the cheesiest acting since TROLL 2, but there is something so delightfully WRONG about the movie, I just can’t help but love it to death. B-movie hottie Linnea Quigley impaled on a pair of deer antlers while topless and wearing a pair of Daisy Duke’s has to be seen to be believed. This movie was picketed by angry parents upon its initial release for degrading the holiday. Just another reason to love it.



If you’ve never seen SLEEPAWAY CAMP before, you haven’t lived a full and complete life. It is one of the craziest, weirdest, most off center summer camp slashers ever conceived. People are killed with boiling pots of water, beehives and a hot curling iron. The acting is unnerving at times. The overall ambience of the film is like David Lynch on model glue. And the ending! My god, the fucking insanity that is the ending must be seen with your own eyes, which you will need to wash out with powerful industrial chemicals afterwards. Only the 1980’s could produce a film this warped and fun to watch.



What happens when a feminist writes a slasher movie and it’s directed by another female? SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE is what happens, bitches! This film works as a parody of the genre, while at times it also appears to be playing it somewhat straight. The result is a hilarious send up of all the slasher standards that have come before it. A group of high school girls throw a slumber party and an uninvited guest shows up and starts killing them. The maniac is a very average looking guy clad from head to toe in denim and sporting a large drill that is used more than once as an obvious phallic symbol. The movie is what Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING trailer was. A very funny take on a worn formula.


Hope you enjoyed my Slasher Top 10. If I get a chance, I’ll do a list of the rarest and most seldom seen slashers of all time soon. Nerd out!

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE REMAKE: This is definitely not a date movie!

September 22, 2010


Last night, I attended a sneak preview screening of the remake of the 1978 rape revenge classic, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. I saw the original film only once when I was 12 years old in my friend’s basement on an old pop up loading VCR. The grimy little exploitation flick disturbed me on such a visceral level, that to this day I have been unable to even attempt to try to watch it again.

When I walked into the New Beverly Cinema to see the updated version, my stomach was filled with knots. Everything that I had heard had told me to expect this to be even more brutal than the first. I can remember only certain details about the original. The rape scene in particular was absolutely gut wrenching to watch and the bathtub castration made me wince for about a month afterwards. I was prepared to be completely and utterly disturbed, and I was, but in a manner I didn’t think I would be.

The story is a simple one. Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is an attractive young writer from the big city who has rented a remote cabin in the woods to work on her new novel. One stop at a local gas station attracts the attention of a depraved group of country bumpkins, led by a lascivious gas attendant named Johnny (Jeff Branson).

There is a really well structured build up to what we all know is going to inevitably happen to her. The movie takes its time in creating an atmosphere of tension and then it unleashes its violence at you in such an overwhelming way, I almost couldn’t bare it. The rape scene is horrifying, disgusting and grueling to watch, but what happens to Jennifer afterwards is even more unsettling than I could have imagined.

The bumpkins are all perfectly played monsters. Jeff Branson and Daniel (MEAN GIRLS, BULLY) Franzese are excellent at making the audience wish them the most violent retaliation possible. But it’s the performance of Andrew Howard as Sheriff Storch that really makes the film enter into another realm of unease. He appears at first as a savior when Jennifer manages to momentarily escape her attackers, only to become the spider that has recaptured her in his web for the other insects to feed on. The performance is nuanced in such a way as to actually make you think the guy is a decent family man who truly loves his wife and daughter. There is a brilliantly written moment where he answers a call from his child while the rape plays on in the background that sent chills down my spine. His character is one of pure evil disguised as the protective guardian and doting family man. What makes it even more fucked up is that we actually believe he’s a great dad and husband to two women while savagely destroying another.

After she is beaten and gang raped, Jennifer escapes her attackers by plunging herself into the lake below. There is a great deal of tension among the perpetrators as to whether or not she’s still alive, followed by the tying up of loose ends (that includes the murder of the only nice hick represented on the screen – character actor Tracey Walters as Earl). Then the men continue on with their mundane backwoods lives, but this a revenge film and these bastards have a lot to answer for. And they do.

The character of Jennifer Hills and the intense performance by Sarah Butler is what really sets this film apart from the ’78 film and other subsequent tales of rape and revenge like THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Even Ms. 45 would give her pause when she starts to take these guys out in absolutely the most sickening and depraved ways imaginable. I couldn’t help but think that she herself has become as big a monster as they were. The murders of these scumbags is deserved, but the ferocity and incredibly intricate designs of torture and death she devises makes you think that this woman has taken all the violence she’s experienced and turned it into something beyond mere retaliation. She goes through a transformation that leaves the audience not so much rooting for her, as stunned by her own lack of morality in her hunger for vengeance. She’s been damaged so severely, that she herself has become one of them and this as unsettling as anything else in this bleak, yet powerful film. It will be released unrated on October 8th. Don’t bring a date.


September 1, 2010

Last weekend’s EVERYTHING IS FESTIVAL mondo pop culture explosion at THE CINEFAMILY was filled with so many images that went beyond the limits of my cerebral cortex’s capabilities of comprehension, I’m still trying to sort them out inside my cracked, bleeding brain. I bought myself a weekend pass and made it a point to see everything, which started on Saturday at 5:00 P.M. with a found footage presentation by our curator GHOUL SKOOL and the rest of the crazy people at EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. They gathered together before a sold out crowd to grind our brains into mush with a nonstop assault of eye terrorism.

It began with a musical montage of rednecks at a motorcycle rally that featured lots of ghastly images of the biker culture set to the tune, “Don’t Tread On Me.” From there it was a hodgepodge of insanity that featured a series of clips involving a group of duck hunting hillbillies who bite the heads off the poor deceased fowl after blowing them out of the sky. A preacher speaking in tongues with his parish, that escalates into complete nerve-jolting pandemonium. A compilation of clips featuring a self motivational guru named PAUL CRICK, who sports the electrifying catch phrase, “Killin’ it!”  But my favorite was a series of subversively dark and demented sketches from a twisted demon/genius named BLACKMAGIC ROLLERCOASTER. One of his clips featured God filming something on a video camera in Heaven. It was so monstrously disturbing, there is no way I can describe it to decent humans. Many other moments of brain hemorrhaging madness were seen as well, but those were some of the highlights.

The random clips portion was followed by a screening of the EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE movie sequel 2 EVERYTHING 2 TERRIBLE II: TOKYO DRIFT. It was introduced by GHOUL SKOOL and his crew of mind assassins, who came out in full costume and performed a ritualistic sacrifice to appease the video gods while surrounded by three manmade pyramids comprised of old JERRY MAGUIRE VHS cassettes. It was as if something had spilled over from another dimension and into the Cinefamily screening room like that Philadelphia experiment incident. Or like someone laced the beer with some kind of peyote/LSD/animal tranquilizer combo designer narcotic and we were all having awesome group hallucinations. Or like that orgy scene in EYES WIDE SHUT if it were shot on the surface of an alien planet. One thing was for sure, the apocalypse had begun and I was perfectly fine with it.

2 EVERYTHING 2 TERRIBLE II: TOKYO DRIFT was a little like watching another amazing pop culture bouillabaisse I saw and reported about before called THE MOVIE ORGY, which was a four hour plus collection of baby boomer era footage edited with counterculture irony by the great JOE DANTE and JON DAVISON back when they were in college. TOKYO DRIFT is the Generation X version on crack. An amazing collection of visual absurdities pieced together so lucidly, that like a giant mutant tumor overtaking its host, it formed itself into its own genre of film.

This was followed by a rare 35mm screening presented by the legendary ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE’S own ZACK CARLSON of the insane kung fu exploitation masterpiece MIAMI CONNECTION. ZACK delivered an appropriately passionate sermon on his love for this mind roaster of a movie that got the crowd really pumped up. It was directed by a man named WOO-SANG PARK who’s also responsible for something called NINJA TURF (A.K.A. L.A. STREETFIGHTERS) that is playing in September at THE CINEFAMILY as well.

Before the movie began, ZACK treated us to a few vintage exploitation trailers from his collection that included: THUNDER COPS – an awesome looking Asian film that had about five different genres competing with each other at once. Part action-cop movie, part zombie film, part ghost story, part martial arts flick and part screwball comedy, all in one epic film. There was a clip featuring a woman’s decapitated head being chased around an apartment building by a squadron of remote controlled helicopters that was fucking sublime in its insanity. This was followed by a trailer for another chop sockey flick called THE LUCKY SEVEN, which is about a team of kung fu fighting children going head to head against adult ninjas and they really kick the shit out of each other! They just don’t make kids movies like that in Hollywood. The final trailer was for something called THE SECRET OF THE MAGIC CASTLE that stars an all animal cast and features a “villainous space age monkey!”

MIAMI CONNECTION was co-directed and stars a guy named Y.K. KIM, who is a fortysomething martial artist with the crudest grasp of the English language (or possibly ANY language) I’ve ever heard before. He co-wrote the film so that his lack of knowledge of human conversation could then be committed to screen by an amazing cast of inexperienced actors. The results are magical.

MIAMI CONNECTION was shot and takes place completely in Orlando, Florida. I think Miami is mentioned a couple times. ORLANDO CONNECTION just doesn’t have the same ring that MIAMI CONNECTION does. The plot involves a group of guys in their late thirties to mid-forties whom all live in the same house together, perform in a band called DRAGON SOUND together, practice martial arts together and attend high school together. It is there that they get into some trouble with a drug dealing gang member because he doesn’t like his sister hanging out with them (can you blame him?). This begins some kind of crazy grudge between the band and the gang that escalates into a street war where the stakes are anybody’s guess.

This completed the first day of the fest, but I returned early the next day for more brain damage. It began with a special presentation of found footage from DAN HARMON & ROB SCHRAB, the hilariously creative team responsible for HEAT VISION AND JACK & THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, to name a few.

They showed us all an amazing hodgepodge of weirdness that included: A racist BENNY HILL clip that features the naughty British comic playing MR. T in blackface for an A-TEAM spoof called THE B-TEAM. A series of inept homemade horror anthologies called VAMPIRE VIGNETTES that were hosted and created by a local Wisconsin man named PAUL KNOP. These crudely made “films” were shot on a camcorder and apparently funded with money made from amateur foot fetish videos. But my favorite was a videotaped “talent” show that takes place in the middle of a midwestern mall and featured a man singing an “original” birthday song of his own composition to his traumatized eight year old son. Great stuff!

The final event of the festival was the Found Footage Battle Royale. It featured 16 contestants going head to head with their favorite crazy video clips. They were all split into pairs of two and the audience voted on which clip they liked the most. The winner of that round then moved on to the final round and much like Thunderdome: two men enter, one man leaves. The winner was some guy from Wisconsin who showed us a cable access exercise program hosted by an 80 year old man. It’s called STAYING FIT WITH JIM and apparently the guy’s been doing the show for over twenty years now in Wisconsin with a camcorder in his basement. Believe me, it deserved to win!

By the end of EVERYTHING IS FESTIVAL a third eye had grown in the middle of my forehead and it was bleeding green puss from all the nonstop video voyeurism I had been a part of. It was a mind-shitting experience I’ll never forget and I must give big thanks to everyone involved with this amazing event! Nerd out!


Thumbs up for a job well done, GHOUL SKOOL!



August 9, 2010

We were somewhere around  San Diego when the geek-gasms began to take hold. I remember saying something like, ”I’m feeling a little lightheaded…” And suddenly there was a huge roar all around us and the streets were filled with Supermen, Wonder Women, Klingons, Stormtroopers, Steampunks, Zombies and millions of other costumed geeks. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Moly! Who are all these goddamned nerds?”

Hercules meets Xena/Grae!

Saturday started with a BANG! Xena/Grae and I hit the floor of Comic-Con for a second day in a row in search of one thing. Hercules. And we found the mother-fucker! He was sitting at a booth signing autographs and he leaped out of his seat when he saw her, screaming “I gave you your start!” We immediately arranged for a quick video interview where he hit on my girlfriend, Xena/Grae (flattering, but he’s lucky I was working the camera) and showed off his hairy stomach. Xena/Grae let out her most victorious war cry and we hightailed it to Hall H to get in on some panel action.

Once in Hall H, we made our way over to the press pit and bumped into none other than MR. HEAD GEEK himself, HARRY KNOWLES. He agreed to do an interview with us and he talked for quite awhile about his excitement for the new GREEN LANTERN movie. He was even sporting a GREEN LANTERN tee underneath the brightest Hawaiian shirt I’ve ever seen (which is how we spotted him in the first place). He was very cool and he loved Xena/Grae’s costume. Who doesn’t?

First up in Hall H was the Warner Brothers presentation, which started with the much anticipated GREEN LANTERN movie.


The panel included RYAN REYNOLDS, BLAKE LIVELY (yum), PETER SARSGAARD, MARK (KICK-ASS) STRONG and director MARTIN CAMPBELL. I have a great deal of excitement about this property and the panel discussion did a lot to make me feel like this could be a very cool adaption of the popular DC character. I love the GREEN LANTERN, because it’s more science-fiction than most other comic-book heros and it borrows a little from the awesome LENSMEN series of novels by the great E.E. “DOC” SMITH. That being said, they showed a long trailer of footage that looked pretty cool, but didn’t give me much of a feel for the tone. Still, I remain hopeful for this one.

Next was the HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS presentation. The little blonde kid that plays the evil archenemy in the series was there to introduce the special footage presentation, which was exclusive to the Comic-Con fans. The very long trailer was in 3-D (of course!) and I must say it was pretty damn interesting looking. I’m not a HARRY POTTER fan at all. Never read any of the books and I’ve only seen the first, second and fourth films in the series. They’ve never really done anything for me before, but I just might check out this FINAL chapter (which has been split into two films), because it looks like a HIGHLY dramatic conclusion and those are always fun to watch.

The final WB promo was for the new film from ZACH SNYDER, the wild and weird looking SUCKER PUNCH. I knew nothing about SUCKER PUNCH before this panel, except that it has been described as Alice in Wonderland with machine guns. It does look like that, but it also looks like every geek fetish you could possibly imagine all thrown into one Berserker of a movie! The footage featured hot chicks kicking ass, dark castles, mental wards, nazi-like soldiers wearing gas masks, giant robots shooting WWII planes out of the sky, lots of guns and it even has a fire-breathing Dragon! I still don’t know what it’s about and I don’t want to. I just want to see it. I think ZACH SNYDER is a really interesting genre filmmaker and I’m excited to see what kind of thing he has in store for us here.

The panel included ZACH SNYDER and a lot of really sexy actresses, starting with the gorgeous CARLA GUGINO and also featuring EMILY BROWNING, ABBIE CORNISH, VANESSA HUDGENS, JENA MALONE and JAMIE HUNG. Woof!

Sexy SUCKER PUNCH stars!

The trailer shown in Hall H for SUCKER PUNCH sent every nerd fanboy into convulsions and a few to the bathrooms. Think TIM BURTON meets PAUL VERHOEVEN with a little RUSS MEYER thrown in for fun. I can’t wait until March for this one.

LET ME IN was up next. I went into this panel skeptical. I love LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and considered it one of the best films of 2008. I was worried when I heard that it was being remade for American audiences. I didn’t think we needed one. I’m still not sure if we do, but after seeing the panel I think it could be a pretty cool English language version of the original with a few new surprises. Will it be as good? Probably not, but at least director MATT REEVES has made the right decisions in keeping the children’s age the same, having it take place in a snowy location and keeping the story set in the early eighties. It seems to have the same tone as the original too, which was slow and foreboding.

MATT (CLOVERFIELD) REEVES was joined by the cast, which included KODI SMIT-McPHEE (outstanding in THE ROAD), CLOE MORETZ (HIT GIRL from KICK-ASS) and the most brilliant character actor working today, Academy Award-nominee RICHARD JENKINS (who plays the vampire girl’s guardian).

HIT GIRL is now a vampire!

Everything RICHARD JENKINS does is awesome!

A scene was shown that features the RICHARD JENKINS character attempting to “acquire” a victim, by hiding in the back seat of their car. Unfortunately, the would-be victim brings a friend along for a lift home and complicates the situation even more by stopping to get gas. The scene’s set-up and location have been changed from the original film and it’s actually kind of an improvement in terms of suspense the way it is presented here.

I walked away from this panel with a lot of excitement for LET ME IN. MATT REEVES has made all the right decisions on the look and feel of it and I think it’s going to be an excellent new adaptation of the brilliant Swedish novel, LAT DEN RATTE KOMMA. It’s coming out in October and that’s perfect.

RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE was next and I was VERY excited! Not only am I a huge fan of the series, but I’m also a huge fan of the two SUPER-STUNNING lead actresses for the film, MILLA (I LOVE YOU) JOVOVICH and ALI (I WATCHED HEROES AFTER SEASON ONE JUST FOR YOU!) LARTER (who is the HOTTEST pregnant woman you’ve ever seen in your life)! They are BOTH two of the sexiest women on the planet. Period.





Also, on the panel was director PAUL W.S. ANDERSON and some actor guy named WENTWORTH MILLER, who I could care less about.


The footage for RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE was in 3-D and looked pretty off-the-hook amazing! There was a fight scene shown between the girls and this HUGE monster guy called THE EXECUTIONER (who wears a hood made of metal and swings an enormous hammer). It takes place in a big shower room with drops of water shooting in your face in 3-D and it was tile busting cool!

I was a fan of the RESIDENT EVIL game on PS back in the day, but the thing I love about the movie series is the way it takes the zombie genre and turns into this hyper-kinetic comic-book action sci-fi thing with a totally ROMERO/CARPENTER-style cynical commentary on corporate greed and the corruption of power. The fucking UMBRELLA corporation needs to be stopped and I hope Alice and all her sexy-ass clones can do it! BTW- What’s better than MILLA JOVOVICH in 3-D? An army of MILLA JOVOVICH clones in 3-D! Sign me up!

Immediately following this panel was the now infamous eye-gouging in Hall H. What happened was this: one nerd got mad at another nerd for stealing his seat, so he stabbed him in the face with a ball point pen. At first, we heard the nerd had been poked in the eye, but were told later that he had just received a very nasty scratch across his face. Still, his brand new exclusive HARRY POTTER Comic-Con tee shirt was speckled with blood as he was carried off and the attacker was led away in handcuffs by the San Diego police. Hall H is getting dangerous!

This was NOT the guy who got stabbed in the eye in Hall H.

After the commotion had settled, things finally got back to normal in Hall H and the PAUL panel began. Director GREG MOTTOLA and the star-studded cast came out, which included SIMON PEGG, NICK FROST, BILL HADER, JEFFREY TAMBOR, SIGOURNEY WEAVER, JASON BATEMAN, JOE LO TRUGLIO and once again, SETH ROGEN (only this time thankfully, it’s just his voice).

PEGG & FROST together again.




The plot of PAUL is about two British nerds (PEGG & FROST) who are attending the San Diego Comic-Con of all things (everyone in Hall H went nuts when they showed a shot of them walking up to the convention center) and decide to take a cross-country trip to visit Roswell, New Mexico. They pick up an actual extraterrestrial in the desert named Paul and the wackiness ensues as they’re pursued by government agents. The film looks very funny in a SHAUN OF THE DEAD meets E.T. kind of way and the Hall H reaction was extremely enthusiastic.

Next was the COWBOYS & ALIENS panel and JON (IRON MAN II SUCKED) FAVREAU came out with the cast, featuring DANIEL CRAIG, another Con appearance from super-hot OLIVIA WILDE and HAN SOLO himself, HARRISON FORD, who was escorted onto the stage by security guards with his arms cuffed behind him. It brought the house down as well as revealing the identity of the Hall H stabber. Never would have thought it was INDY.



The Hall H eye stabber was revealed.


The movie has been shooting for only a month, but a few scenes were completed (including special effects shots from ILM) just for Comic-Con. The footage shown involved CRAIG’S gunslinger character getting into some trouble with the law in the old west. He’s caught up in a feud with FORD about something and is about to be lynched when the tiny western town they’re in is attacked by a flying saucer and CRAIG saves the day by shooting it down with a wrist laser he’s wearing. Hard to say if it’ll be awesome, but it looked pretty good and I love FORD in just about anything he does.

The final and most anticipated panel of the day (and the Con for that matter) was the MARVEL presentation. It started with a tease of next year’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, which featured director JOE JOHNSTON and actors CHRIS EVANS and HUGO WEAVING.

The film has just begun filming, but they were able to show us an unfinished scene featuring WEAVING dressed in a Nazi officer uniform (pre-RED SKULL) trying to find the whereabouts of the “cosmic cube”. Many comic nerds lost their minds in fits of geek joy over that.

JOE JOHNSTON assured us that the movie is gonna be action packed and like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (which he himself once worked on) with a super-hero.  I’m hoping it’s great, because CAPTAIN AMERICA is one of my all-time favorite Marvel heroes. Unfortunately, I’m still not completely sold on EVANS as CAP. Time will tell, but I like the direction they’re going in.




Next was THOR and it looks pretty fucking amazing! Director KENNETH BRANAGH and the cast, CHRIS HEMSWORTH (THOR), NATALIE PORTMAN, TOM HIDDLESTON (LOKI) and CLARK GREGG (AGENT PHIL COULSON), came out to show us some footage and talk about the film. The trailer was in (you guessed it) 3-D and looked really cool! The look of the characters and the costumes are perfect and the ASGARD footage is obscenely awesome looking. ANTHONY HOPKINS looks fantastic as ODIN and TOM HIDDLESTON as LOKI gave me chills at how spot-on he is. I can’t wait for this one! It looks epic!




TOM HIDDLESTON as LOKI wants to kill THOR.

CLARK GREGG wants to catch THOR.

We all thought that was it, but suddenly the familiar sounding voice of one SAMUEL L. JACKSON boomed across Hall H to introduce director JOSS WHEDON and the entire cast of THE AVENGERS! AND EVERYBODY WENT INSANE! Here they are:






CHRIS EVANS as CAPTAIN AMERICA, CHRIS HEMSWORTH as THOR, SAM JACKSON as NICK FURY, SCARLETT JOHANSSON as BLACK WIDOW, ROBERT DOWNEY JR. as IRON MAN, JEREMY RENNER as HAWKEYE, and MARK RUFFALO as THE HULK! JOSS WHEDON said that we should all expect the most mammoth super-hero film ever and with him at the helm I expect it to be significantly fantastic! This was an excellent place to conclude the Hall H experience at this year’s Comic-Con. It blew the roof off the joint.

Xena/Grae and I retired to our hotel for some much needed rest. We went out later that night to party with all our friends and share tales of nerd adventures had by all. The next day was sadly the final day of Comic-Con, but we were able to finish up some last minute purchases on the floor as we took a final look around.

The last thing we did at Comic-Con was to record a new podcast with our dear friend MAX LANDIS, who’s a very talented screenwriter (as well as the son of the great JOHN LANDIS) and his lady pal DANI MANNING. We discussed all the sights, sounds and smells we discovered at Comic-Con and the show got pretty crazy at times. If you’d like to watch the video podcast of this show, CLICK HERE! You can also go to THE POPCORN MAFIA website to check out the multitude of interviews and comedy bits we filmed there, too.

GRAE DRAKE, MAX LANDIS, DANI MANNING and MYSELF record a new all Comic-Con related podcast for THE POPCORN MAFIA.

It was a crazy-awesome four days of nerd insanity and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Comic-Con, where I plan to attack it on an even larger scale than the last. Until next time, nerd out!


August 3, 2010

We were somewhere around  San Diego when the geek-gasms began to take hold. I remember saying something like, ”I’m feeling a little lightheaded…” And suddenly there was a huge roar all around us and the streets were filled with Supermen, Wonder Women, Klingons, Stormtroopers, Steampunks, Zombies and millions of other costumed geeks. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Moly! Who are all these goddamned nerds?”

This is how Friday started.

When I awoke the next day in our hotel suite in San Diego , my girlfriend and the lady I’m co-hosting THE POPCORN MAFIA with, Grae Drake was now dressed from head to toe as XENA, THE WARRIOR PRINCESS in a replica costume straight from the UNIVERSAL prop department. She looked absolutely SPOT ON and totally HOT! The moment we walked out of our hotel and headed out for the convention center, she was inundated with one photo request after another. We learned quickly that if you have a great costume at Comic-Con, people want to snap a picture with you (especially if you’re a cute girl). It was insane!

Xena/Grae is inundated with photo requests! Note she hides her cell phone behind her back to maintain authenticity!

Xena's primitive sensibilities are overwhelmed by the floor at Comic-Con.

Our mission for the day was to shoot as many bits with Xena interviewing fellow costumed geeks on the floor and asking them if they knew the whereabouts of Hercules. We got a lot of great footage (including an in depth discussion with a Zombie Stormtrooper), but things took an amazing turn when I went to the SCOTT PILGRIM swag booth to collect my booty.

Upon exiting, Xena/Grae was standing outside with an attractive, athletic looking blonde wearing black wayfarers and a red FLASH tee shirt. Then, Xena/Grae asked me if I could take a picture of her with ZOE BELL? At that point my head did an EXORCIST 360 degree turn as I realized the blonde was none other than the star of DEATH PROOF and former stunt double for LUCY LAWLESS herself, ZOE MOTHER-FUCKING BELL!!! I immediately lost my mind and starting swearing like I had a bad case of Tourette syndrome. She was incredibly nice and even agreed to do an interview, which we filmed for the podcast.

Surprisingly, Zombie Stormtrooper had a lot to say.


After that mind blowing awesomeness, we wandered back to Hall H and walked into the SUPER panel. We had tickets for the panel and grabbed a couple seats in the press section, right behind Mr. Beaks from AIN’T IT COOL NEWS and a reporter from MTV.

I didn’t really know much about SUPER, except that it’s written and directed by the very talented JAMES GUNN, the man responsible for TROMEO AND JULIET, THE SPECIALS, DAWN OF THE DEAD (2003) and SLITHER. The panel included GUNN and the entire cast, ELLEN PAGE, RAINN WILSON, LIV TYLER, NATHAN FILLION and MICHAEL ROOKER.




The plot concerns the RAIIN WILSON character falling in love with the LIV TYLER character and marrying her, only to discover shortly after that she’s a drug addict. WILSON basically has a mental meltdown and decides to start dressing in a handmade superhero costume and starts assaulting law breakers with a huge wrench.

In one scene, WILSON becomes miffed by a man who cuts in a movie theatre line ahead of him. He goes off to his parked car and changes into his costume. When he comes back, he walks right up to the line cutter and splits the guy’s head open with his wrench. It’s an incredibly violent, funny and shocking moment that sent all of Hall H into mad hysterics.

I’m really looking forward to this movie now, because I love the premise and it has that wild TROMA-style twisted humor that I love. It looks like a low rent version of BATMAN combined with KING OF COMEDY and RAINN WILSON’S character is like a TRAVIS BICKLE/RUPERT PUPKIN type, but as a masked vigilante. ELLEN PAGE plays WILSON’S sidekick, who’s like a homicidal ROBIN, only without the motivation of revenge. She just wants to hurt people. Sounds great!

During the Q & A portion of the SUPER panel, Xena/Grae got in line and asked a rather embarrassing question to NATHAN FILLION in front of everyone in Hall H. It was a perfect capper to our Xena video and I shot the whole thing on a HD flip camera for the show.

Xena/Grae and I stayed for the next panel, which was for the highly anticipated remake of the classic 70’s made-for-T.V. movie, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. For the second day in a row, GUILLERMO DEL TORO took the stage and addressed all the crazed horror fanatics in Hall H. He showed a really creepy trailer for the upcoming film that he’s produced for Miramax Films and afterwards gave everyone the GREAT news that it will be rated R by the MPAA for pervasive scariness. He said, “Horror movies need to have balls. And those balls need to be sweaty and wrinkled.”  I couldn’t agree more.

I’m a HUGE fan of the original, which I watched with my parents as a young child. The little creatures in that movie and the killer voodoo idol from TRILOGY OF TERROR gave me many sleepless nights in my early youth. Both were very creepy stories and great examples of a golden age of made for television horror, that also included DUEL, SALEM’S LOT, etc.

This remake looks really frightening and it’s obvious the scares are more extreme, while still remaining faithful to the original. The atmosphere in the footage was dark and gothic and there was a scene shown that’s a prologue to the film, where we see a desperate father going to extremes to get his son back from the little creatures that live in the home’s furnace. It was one freaky scene that involved a nasty bit of amateur dentistry and it made a lot of people jump in their seats. DEL TORO says the tone of the film is as “serious as a fucking attack of gonorrhea.” Ouch!

When asked what he’ll be doing in the future, DEL TORO said he plans to eat four chocolates, get a stretch mark, do an anthology horror series for cable, produce a “weird” version of PINOCCHIO, write and produce the HAUNTED MANSION reboot, and he hinted that he will be directing a big event ticket horror film for a major studio, which was later announced as the H.P.LOVECRAFT adaptation of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS.  That’s a lot of cool stuff to look forward to!

When someone brought up THE HOBBIT and his unfortunate departure from that project, he said that he designed 98% of the first film and 50% of the second one and he hopes that MGM straightens everything out and PETER JACKSON directs them. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, although the loss of a DEL TORO directed version is still a painful sting. I love GUILLERMO DEL TORO and I think he’s one of the most talented and artistic filmmakers working today and listening to his very funny, obscenity laced presentation was a real treat.




PRIEST takes place in a post apocalyptic world where the earth has been laid to waste by a centuries old war between the human race and vampires. PAUL BETTANY plays a heavily trained Catholic priest sworn to kill the bloodsuckers and it’s based on a Japanese graphic novel by MIN-WOO HYUNG.

There’s also an opening anime prologue that was created by SAMURAI JACK and CLONE WARS creator GENNY TARTAKOVSKY. They showed quite a bit of it and it was very interesting and violent.

They also showed us an extended trailer in 3-D and I must say, it looks pretty cool. Like a MAD MAX movie with vampires. Lots of action and some amazing looking visuals of a walled city and strange looking motorcycles riding over sand dunes in an apocalyptic landscape. Hopefully, it’ll be a cool movie.

I really shouldn’t be surprised that the most HILARIOUS panel I’ve ever seen in Hall H was for THE OTHER GUYS. Not when you’ve got WILL FERRELL and director ADAM McKAY together. These two guys play so well off each other they had the entire crowd in the palm of their hands the whole time. I love ANCHORMAN and TALLADEGA NIGHTS and consider them to be two of the funniest comedies this past decade, so I’m super-psyched for THE OTHER GUYS and the footage they showed looked great.

The panel was nonstop funny. When FERRELL came out (wearing dark shades in an outfit similar to STALLONE’S from the EXPENDABLES panel) he waved at the crowd and instead of stopping at his assigned seat, continued walking the length of the stage until McKAY went to bring him back. Once seated he exclaimed, “It’s great to be back in the whale’s vagina!”

They were joined by a stunning EVA MENDES, who was wearing an eye-popping gold dress. During the Q & A a teenage boy asked her a question about an encounter the two had had together at Comic-Con five years previous, during the GHOST RIDER panel she was on. He had asked her a question then and then bumped into her later that night at a restaurant in San Diego, where he was eating with his parents. She told him then, when he was nine years old, that he should look her up in about five years and he was here to see if she was still interested. It was really funny and began a series of running jokes about EVA being a cougar who stalks underage boys in Hall H.

MARKY MARK WAHLBERG was also there for the panel and from the footage shown he actually seems like he’s BOOGIE NIGHTS funny in THE OTHER GUYS. He also tossed in a few cougar jokes at EVA MENDES that were pretty good.

WILL FERRELL and ADAM McKAY were incredibly funny.

EVA MENDES a cougar?

MARK WAHLBERG had some humorous quips about EVA'S availability to minors.

The movie is about the cop duo that works a few desks down from the hotshot super-cop partners that usually star in a buddy action flick. The footage shown was hilarious and there was a running bit about a group of homeless guys that have sex orgies inside stolen cars, that was pure comic gold.

When asked if there would ever be a ANCHORMAN 2, McKAY said that it doesn’t look very good considering how hard it would be to get all those successful and busy actors together, but you never know. I’d love to take another trip back to 70’s era San Diego with RON BURGANDY and company.

Last and very much least was THE GREEN HORNET with director MICHELLE GONDRY and stars SETH ROGEN and (poor) CHRISTOPH WALZ. It was a long day and I really don’t have much hope for this movie. After the panel, I have less. It looks really lame in a very boring and uninspired way. From the trailer they showed, the tone of the film is confusing and I can’t quite figure out what they’re going for here. Some parts of the movie seem like a JUDD APATOW comedy and other parts look like they’re trying to make it seem post modern 60’s style retro cool, but without the cool part.

SETH ROGEN seems to be the only person in Hall H that's excited about THE GREEN HORNET.

CHRISTOPH WALZ is wondering where the exit is.

There was a fight scene shown that was in 3-D, because one thing that this Comic-Con taught me, everything is coming out in 3-D. THE GREEN HORNET wasn’t shot in 3-D, but it’s being converted just like CLASH OF THE TITANS was. They insist that THE GREEN HORNET’S 3-D will be much better, of course. I personally can’t see why anyone would want to pay an extra 5 bucks to see this piece of crap come at them in the latest three dimensional technology, but what the hell do I know? I think that anyone who’s even remotely a casual fan of the original television series this film is based on (which costarred the late, great BRUCE LEE) won’t go anywhere near this stupid looking reinvention. The best thing I can say about this movie is I’m really glad that STEPHEN CHOW left it.

We were done with Hall H and immediately headed over to FLYNN’S ARCADE to cheer us up after THE GREEN HORNET panel. The facade was similar to the one last year and when we walked inside, once again the arcade was filled with vintage 80’s video games that were free for everyone to play. Xena/Grae and I played a few games of ASTEROIDS, GALAXIANS, MS. PAC MAN, BATTLE ZONE and of course, TRON, before we walked through the entrance into the all new, ultra-cool TRON lounge. The place was trippy and filled with props, costumes and even toys from the upcoming TRON LEGACY and at a certain point the walls would project the new trailer all around us. It was even more awesome than last year!

Back at FLYNN'S!

XENA loses her turn.

I'm a GALAXIAN and GALAGA master!

The ultra-cool TRON LEGACY lounge.

XENA and the man from the future.


That was a perfect capper to a long day of crazy Comic-Con action! Later that night we went to a party for TWEETHOUSE that was held on board the S.S. MIDWAY, which is a real live battleship in San Diego harbor. We filmed a few interviews (including some guy that was dressed like a pirate) and watched the quickest fireworks show I’ve ever seen from the upper deck. We went down below to hunt for one of the numerous celebrities that were supposed to be there, which included WILLIAM SHATNER, BRENT SPINER, LAVAR BURTON and TYRESE GIBSON. We couldn’t find THE SHAT or any of the other TREK guys, but we did manage to run into TYRESE GIBSON and stop him for a quick interview. He was walking around with a guy that was dressed in a weird red masked superhero costume, who I think is supposed to represent TYRESE’S new comic book character that’s based on him. The shit was surreal! Check out the video for yourself.

And you can look for more videos and our exclusive Comic-Con video podcast HERE at THE POPCORN MAFIA website.

Stay tuned for my Comic-Con conclusion, where things get really wild (including a blow by blow account of the infamous Hall H eye-gouging). Nerd out!


July 29, 2010

We were somewhere around  San Diego when the geek-gasms began to take hold. I remember saying something like, ” I’m feeling a little lightheaded…” And suddenly there was a huge roar all around us and the streets were filled with Supermen, Wonder Women, Klingons, Stormtroopers, Steampunks, Zombies and millions of other costumed geeks. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Moly! Who are all these goddamned nerds?”

Welcome to Comic-Con 2010!

This year’s Comic-Con was something special, because I was there to represent the awesome movie podcast  THE POPCORN MAFIA, along with its lovely host Grae Drake. We stayed in an amazing hotel suite that was a light disc’s throw from the convention center and after checking into press registration on Wednesday, we hit the floor for preview night. I made a stop to the GENTLE GIANT LTD. booth to pick up my official Comic-Con exclusive Darth Vader bust that is based on the original Ralph McQuarrie design. Score one for the Star Wars nerd that lives inside me! The next day we made our way over to Hall H for the first panel of the day, MEGAMIND from Dreamworks…

Will Ferrell shows up in costume for the panel.

Tina Fey keeps the comedy rolling.

Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt's standee join the panel.

I’ve been a fan of Dreamworks animation ever since I saw ANTS and just recently I loved the holy hell out of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, so I’m really looking forward to their take on the superhero genre. This story involves two sworn adversaries that are constantly at battle: a superhero called Metro Man (Brad Pitt) and a supervillian named Megamind (Will Ferrell). But, when Megamind manages to actually destroy his crime fighting nemesis and is allowed to do whatever his evil little heart desires, he learns that a bad guy is nothing without a good guy to oppose. It looks amusing and has a very funny cast that also includes Tina Fey and Jonah Hill. The panel was good and Ferrell had some great jokes about how he was the only one who showed up in costume. Next up, the most highly anticipated panel of the day and possibly the whole con…

The Big Tron-bowski, Jeff Bridges!

Tron himself, Mr. Bruce Boxleitner.

The REAL creator, Steve Lisberger!

The TRON LEGACY panel was moderated by PATTON OSWALT and was absolutely mind-roasting awesome! The cast came out headed up by Flynn himself, JEFF BRIDGES, and also included OLIVIA WILDE, MICHAEL SHEEN, GARRETT HEDLUND (Flynn’s son) and of course, BRUCE BOXLEITNER (Tron). Also, on the panel was TRON LEGACY director JOSEPH KOSINSKI and the original creator STEVE LISBERGER. The footage shown was beautiful and exciting and looked stunningly gorgeous in Real 3-D. One long scene shown involved Flynn’s son (Garrett Hedlund) and his introduction to the computer game world in much the same way as his father’s was in the first movie. The flying ships that look like three dimensional versions of the aliens from SPACE INVADERS are back and they look similar, only much more detailed. Everything I saw has the same design from the first TRON, only more engaging and fully realized. The light cycle race looks crazy-ass sweet and there are fucking light cars, too! I can’t wait till December and you better believe I’ll be seeing it in IMAX 3-D for sure.

After TRON, Disney showed a teaser trailer in 3-D for the new PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie that featured JOHNNY DEPP as Captain Jack addressing the audience. It made me want some rum.

Then it was announced that GUILLERMO DEL TORO will be writing and producing a HAUNTED MANSION reboot and Hall H went crazy when DEL TORO took the stage to talk about it. He said that ever since he was a little boy and went to Disneyland for the first time, he has loved HAUNTED MANSION and he intends to make a movie that will honor how fucking cool and scary and fun that attraction is. He also said that EDDIE MURPHY will NOT be getting a call for this one. Sounds great to me, as I too love HAUNTED MANSION and can’t wait to see the marriage of DEL TORO’S mind with what already exists there visually!


After the Disney panel, the Sony Pictures presentation began with SALT. The breathtakingly sexy ANGELINA JOLIE and the very reserved LIEV SCHREIBER came out to show some footage from SALT and I must say that I had zero interest in this movie until I watched some scenes from it, and now I think it actually looks pretty cool. They showed us this really great car chase scene where Salt (Angelina Jolie) escapes from custody in a car full of cops and beats their asses Jason Bourne-style. That combined with watching Jolie’s big red lips tell the crowd how hard she worked on the movie from the huge jumbo-tron in Hall H guarantees that I’ll be checking it out soon.

Next up was the BATTLE: LOS ANGELES panel and AARON ECKHART and MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ were trotted out for that. The movie’s about an alien invasion and a group of soldiers sent into an occupied L.A. to take back the city. There was some really intense fire fight footage shown of the squad going head to head with aliens armed with advanced weapons in an urban street fighting scenario similar to BLACKHAWK DOWN. I’m looking forward to this one a lot, because I never get tired of alien invasion movies and war flicks and this is both genres combined. THE HURT LOCKER meets HALO.

Mmmmmm, pass the SALT please.




Sony was followed by the Summit Entertainment presentation of RED, which is another graphic novel turned motion picture. This one features BRUCE WILLIS, HELEN MIRREN, MARY LOUISE PARKER and KARL URBAN, who were all on hand for the panel. The movie’s about a group of retired CIA agents who are forced out of retirement because someone’s trying to off them. Nothing I saw got me that interested. Maybe it was because BRUCE WILLIS couldn’t have seemed more bored and detached from the proceedings and answered everything posed to him in an unenthusiastic tone similar to a Cylon, only without the fun costume cred. Even the free swag for RED was unimpressive.

BRUCE WILLIS tries to stay awake for the RED panel.

MARY LOUISE PARKER and HELEN MIRREN are young hot and older hot.

Next up was the “visionaries” panel hosted by Entertainment Weekly. JOSS WHEDON and J.J. ABRAMS came out to discuss their bodies of work, future projects and their thoughts on the current state and future of fantastic cinema. It was very cool to hear these guys talk about what kind of things motivate them and what their influences are. JOSS WHEDON talked about how excited and frightened he is about the forthcoming AVENGERS project and his hope that MGM eventually releases his recent movie CABIN IN THE WOODS. J.J. ABRAMS had a lot to say about the forthcoming SUPER 8 and his love for old school SPEILBERG-style AMBLIN’ entertainment. He looks so cool in glasses, he made me wish I had shitty vision. I’m really looking forward to basically everything these guys do.


Following that, the testosterone level in Hall H went up to about 200% because it was time for THE EXPENDABLES panel! HARRY KNOWLES moderated the proceedings with cast members TERRY CREWS, DOLPH LUNDGREN, STEVE AUSTIN, RANDY COUTURE and none other than SLY STALLONE himself. Even a much more lively BRUCE WILLIS came out to support this exciting new throwback to the old school action flicks of the 80’s. This was the most macho panel of the entire con and I was afraid that at any second people could start fighting or fucking, or both! A few clips were shown, including a badass fight scene between SLY and STONE COLD where STEVE AUSTIN actually broke STALLONE’S neck for real! Talk about sacrificing for your art! This panel got me even more pumped up than I already was! I wanted to shoot some juice, lift some weights and blow something the fuck up with a bazooka while hanging from ANGELINA JOLIE’S tits!

TERRY CREWS is more than a little excited about THE EXPENDABLES!

DOLPH LUNDGREN comes in peace, but leaves in pieces!


After the EXPENDABLES panel, there was a presentation for SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, but I was starving and had to leave to get some food. Besides, why watch a panel for a movie that I was just about to see an advanced screening of?! Grae got us both into a sneak peek of SCOTT PILGRIM at the beautiful Balboa theatre in downtown San Diego and EDGAR WRIGHT was walking up to everyone in line and personally thanking them for coming. No problem Edgar, your movie was absolutely awesome! SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD is a romantic rock ‘n roll action comedy that takes place in a comic book universe where our hero must battle the League of Evil Exes in order to win the heart of the girl of his dreams. The audience gave it a standing ovation and after the film, Edgar brought out the entire cast. Then the screen raised and METRIC rocked out for the crowd with a mini-concert that was off the hook EPIC!

EDGAR WRIGHT and ME at the SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD screening at Comic-Con!


After the concert, Grae and I went to the MACHETE party. Sadly, we missed the footage shown, but we were still able to load up on some free swag and grab a couple tacos from the MACHETE taco truck. It was late and we were exhausted, so we headed back to our hotel to rest up for the next action packed day. Stay tuned for part 2 of my Comic-Con adventures. Nerd out!