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?”
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!
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.
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.
Next up was the PREIST panel with director SCOTT STEWART and cast members PAUL BETTANY, MAGGIE Q, CAM GIGANDET, KARL URBAN and STEPHEN (TRUE BLOOD) MOYER.
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.
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.
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!
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!