Posts Tagged ‘the popcorn mafia’

Fear and Loathing @ Comic-Con 2010 Part 3: XENA MEETS SORBO/HERCULES, GREEN LANTERN, SUCKER PUNCH, LET ME IN, RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, NERD EYE STABBING, COWBOYS & ALIENS, MARVEL MADNESS & RECORDING A PODCAST WITH MAX LANDIS!.

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.

GREEN LANTERN cast.

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.

MILLA!

MILLA AND ALI!!

MORE MILLA!

MORE ALI!

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

PAUL W.S. ANDERSON talks 3-D.

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.

IT'S BATEMAN!

RIPLEY!

HADER, TAMBOR, TRUGLIO and ROGEN.

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.

BOND!

I'M WILD FOR WILDE!

The Hall H eye stabber was revealed.

HAN STABBED FIRST!

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.

JOE JOHNSTON.

THE HUMAN TORCH becomes CAPTAIN AMERICA.

AGENT SMITH is THE RED SKULL.

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!

KENNETH BRANAGH talks THOR.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH is THOR.

NATALIE PORTMAN wants to kiss THOR.

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:

SAM JACKSON is NICK FURY.

CHRIS EVANS is CAPTAIN AMERICA.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. is IRON MAN.

JEREMY RENNER is HAWKEYE and MARK RUFFALO is THE HULK.

THE AVENGERS UNITED!

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!

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Fear and Loathing @ Comic-Con 2010 Part 1: TRON LEGACY, J.J. ABRAMS & JOSS WHEDON, THE EXPENDABLES and SCOTT PILGRIM!

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!

PATTON OSWALT and GUILLERMO DEL TORO discuss HAUNTED MANSION.

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.

LIEV SCHREIBER talks SALT

Harvey Dent on BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.

Feisty MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ fights again in BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.

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.

J.J. ABRAMS and JOSS WHEDON.

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!

GO FOR IT, SLY!

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!

The cast of SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD!

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!

CROPSEY is one of the scariest horror films of the year AND IT’S A DOCUMENTARY!!

July 14, 2010

MINOR SPOILERS!

I love scary stories. When I was a kid growing up in the mid-west, we would often terrorize each other with tales of escaped lunatics with meat hooks for hands. They were usually hiding in the local forest preserves, waiting for us to go exploring so that they could extract some bloody vengeance upon us for a past misdeed. These yarns would fuel our imaginations so much, that they would evolve more and more with each telling and before long, we would start to believe our own fiction.

One day (around Christmas time) a real-life horror story rocked my young world with the police discovery of over thirty corpses buried in the crawl-space of convicted mass-murderer JOHN GACY’S suburban Chicago home. I lived in a neighboring town and a few of his all-male teenage victims went to the same high school that I would later attend. It was very scary and it was all 100% real.

In the new documentary CROPSEY, filmmakers JOSHUA ZEMAN and BARBARA BRANCACCIO explore the parallels between an east coast urban legend, an abandoned mental institution and a real-life boogeyman named ANDRE RAND, who’s probably responsible for the disappearances of at least four children in Staten Island, NY. The results are very disturbing.

Directors Josh Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio outside the abandoned Willowbrook Mental Institution.

Along the Atlantic seaboard, kids have been scaring the shit out of each other around the campfires for generations now, with the tale of the deformed, escaped madman Cropsey. The horribly burned psycho, armed with a hook or an ax (depending on who’s telling the tale) is a “fictional” monster that preys on anyone stupid enough to enter the forest he calls home. The Cropsey legend is often told at many of the sleepaway camps located in the woods of upstate New York and you may remember a variation of the story that’s told in the 1981 slasher movie, THE BURNING. For kids growing up in Staten Island, the legend was incorporated into the very real abandoned mental institution known formerly as Willowbrook. This is where the movie really starts to work its creepy magic on the audience.

Back in the early 70’s a young, ambitious reporter named GERALDO RIVERA did an expose on Willowbrook. He uncovered some really terrifying footage of a facility completely overcrowded with mentally and physically handicapped children living in absolutely inhuman conditions. At one time the patients outnumbered the staff fifty to one. Not long after the RIVERA report, the state closed Willowbrook down and moved most of its patients out, but some would return and make a home in the woods and tunnels around the vacant institution.

In 1987, a 13 year old girl with Down Syndrome, named JENNIFER SCHWEIGER, was abducted and became the focus of an intense search through the woods of Staten Island. Her body was found on the grounds of Willowbrook and before long, a homeless man named ANDRE RAND, a former worker at the closed facility who was living in a nearby tent, was arrested for suspicion of her murder. He was convicted of kidnapping through mostly circumstantial evidence and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Many years later he was on trial again, only this time for the abduction of another missing girl named HOLLY ANN HUGHES, and there are at least three others that he’s suspected of being responsible for as well. There are also a lot of ambiguities as to whether he acted alone or if he’s just an innocent scapegoat for the police. Some even suspect a conspiracy involving the same Satanic church that the Son of Sam allegedly belonged to.

Andre Rand in police custody.

Many of the discoveries made by the filmmakers are downright bone chilling. One scene in particular shows JOSHUA ZEMAN and BARBARA BRANCACCIO finding an old piece of news footage featuring a local reporter on the scene for one of the missing kids. Over the reporter’s shoulder is a young man from the neighborhood mugging for the camera. He just so happens to be one of the future missing children that police suspect ANDRE RAND of abducting. Blood-curdling.

This is one of the few documentaries I’ve seen that follows the narrative of a horror film. It’s really very frightening at times and like most good true crime stories, there are more questions posed than solid answers provided, leaving the audience to come up with their own theories. It’s the unresolved mysteries that I found to be the most haunting part of this film.

I was lucky enough to do a podcast interview with co-director JOSHUA ZEMAN about CROPSEY, along with GRAE DRAKE for THE POCORN MAFIA. Click to listen HERE or check it out on iTunes. We discuss the movie, the case and one of Josh’s film influences, the highly acclaimed documentary PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS. Nerd out!

I’m a guest on THE POPCORN MAFIA this week!

November 17, 2009

Your very own PLANET OF THE NERDS (a.k.a. Michael Monterastelli) is the guest reviewer on the hilarious movie-review podcast, THE POPCORN MAFIA this week! I join co-hosts GRAE DRAKE and GARIANA ABEYTA to discuss the new films, THE FOURTH KIND and THE BOX. This is the second time I’ve been on the show and we all really cut loose on this episode, which is called DOUBLE KNOT NAMEPOCALYPSE. You can listen to me talk about why aliens don’t like giving oral at www.popcornmafia.com and you can also download the show on iTunes. If you’ve never heard the ladies before, they’ve got themselves one helluva funny program and it just got nominated for best movie podcast of the year! Good luck girls!

SLEEPAWAY CAMP and the “…TURN TO”!

October 13, 2009

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WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ONE GIGANTIC SPOILER!

Back in 1983, one of the weirdest, cheesiest, funniest and downright craziest slasher films ever created was released on an unsuspecting world. It was called SLEEPAWAY CAMP and if you’ve never seen it before, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITNG FOR? It’s incredible!

The first time I saw it was back in my teenage years. My girlfriend at the time and I were at the local video store looking for a good horror movie to rent. As we scanned the aisles I stopped upon the box for SLEEPAWAY CAMP, which I had noticed many times before and had made a mental note to give it a shot. The artwork was really awesome, with the sneaker impaled with a bloody knife and the kid’s frightened letter home. It was way too intriguing to pass up, so we took it back to her parents house, popped it into the VCR and watched it with all the lights turned off in the basement. We were expecting something along the lines of a simple FRIDAY THE 13TH rip-off, that would be good for a few harmless scares and would be easy to make out to. Well, we got a lot more than we bargained for.

Last Thursday night in L.A., the Cinefamily held a double feature screening of SLEEPAWAY CAMP (the director’s own 35mm print was flown in from New Jersey) and it’s most recent sequel, RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP (2008) to kick off their slasher series, that will be going on every Thursday night, all month long. I was joined by the lovely GRAE DRAKE and GARIANA ABEYTA of THE POPCORN MAFIA and good old KATHY ZONIS, who was their cameragirl at last years COMIC-CON. She was the only one in our group who hadn’t seen SLEEPAWAY before and watching her reactions to it was priceless.

What is it like? If DAVID LYNCH’S brain were transplanted into the head of a low budget filmmaker from New Jersey back in the early 80’s, he would have made SLEEPAWAY CAMP. It’s a film that is not really well made at all, but manages to entertain as well as genuinely creep out the audience. Over the years it has built up a huge following of fans, whom speak of the film with great admiration. Much of this can be attributed to one of the most notorious and shocking “shock” endings ever filmed. But there are many other reasons to love SLEEPAWAY CAMP:

Angela and Ricky are ready to have lots of fun at Camp Arawak.

Angela and Ricky are ready to have lots of fun at Camp Arawak.

The most awesome pairing of two guys wearing shorts ever!

The most awesome pairing of two guys wearing shorts ever!

The most tweaked out performance I've ever seen belongs to this lady, who plays Angela's mom.

The most tweaked out performance I've ever seen belongs to this lady, who plays Angela's mom.

There are more half shirts and short shorts than any film in history and that's if you just count the guys.

There are more half shirts and short shorts than any film in history and that's if you just count the guys.

Lots of unconventional "kills" in this movie. When was the last time you saw someone use a beehive to murder somebody?

Lots of unconventional "kills" in this movie. When was the last time you saw someone use a beehive to murder somebody?

Camp owner Mel pays for his cheapness and dating underage girls with an arrow to the throat.

Camp owner Mel pays for his cheapness and dating underage girls with an arrow to the throat.

This image will be burned into your mind's eye for eternity after witnessing it fully.

This image will be burned into your mind's eye for eternity after witnessing it fully.

The film opens with a horrible boating accident that occurs at Camp Arawak, which judging from everyone’s “Joisey” accent, is located somewhere in upstate New York or perhaps in the garden state itself. Flash forward to five years later and the surviving child of the accident, Angela has been adopted by a crazy lady, who ties string to her fingers and has a few bizarre ideas about parenting as well. She sends Angela (FELISSA ROSE) and her new brother Ricky (JONATHON TIERSTEN) to the exact same place where Angela watched her dad get chopped up by a motor boat, Camp Arawak. As a result of the accident, Angela doesn’t speak very much, which makes her the target of all the camp bullies and the pedophile cook. One by one, they all meet a grisly end at the hands of a mysterious killer who’s stalking the camp. The highly creative murders range from being burned by a pot of boiling corn on the cob to having a beehive dropped in your lap while on the can. Normally, after the first murder, the camp would be closed and the children sent home. But Camp Arawak is run by a very cheap middle aged man named Mel (MIKE KELLIN), who keeps the murders under wraps, convinces the local sheriff (who sports the most obvious fake mustache ever) that they are all accidents and plans a rendezvous with Meg (an underage counselor). The bodies continue to pile up and the final “reveal” of the killer is something that is so absolutely insane, it blows the mind! If you’ve never seen it before and want to be surprised when you do, don’t look at the next photo because it’s an enormous spoiler!

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! SHE'S GOT A DICK!!!

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! SHE'S GOT A DICK!!!

I wonder if  ROBERT HILTZIK, the writer and director of SLEEPAWAY CAMP, ever realized how truly crazy the movie he was making is. There are so many weird characters in this film, it’s almost like the TWIN PEAKS of slasher movies. The overall tone has a pervasive feeling of cruelty and an undercurrent of weird sexuality that made me glad I never went to camp as a kid. Also, there has never been such an amazing collection of bad 80’s fashions ever featured in one film. Lots of half shirts and short shorts and that’s just what the guys are wearing!

After SLEEPAWAY there was a short break and when we came back, we were treated to a special screening of the long awaited followup film (the 4th official sequel. 5th if you count another unreleased sequel) RETURN TO SLEEPAWAY CAMP or “…TURN TO” as the cast and crew referred to it. You see, it just so happens that our good friend KATHY ZONIS is friends with one of the actresses from “…TURN TO”, JACKIE TOHN and she invited her to the screening. My friend BRIAN COLLINS, who has an awesome website called HORROR MOVIE A DAY, conducted a very funny, impromptu interview with her before the screening.

JACKIE TOHN is interviewed by BRIAN COLLINS about her work on "...TURN TO".

JACKIE TOHN is interviewed by BRIAN COLLINS about her work on "...TURN TO".

We enjoyed watching her die so much, we tried to kill her again outside the theatre.

We enjoyed watching her die so much, we tried to kill her again outside the theatre.

The "...TURN TO"!

The "...TURN TO"!

She talked about how seriously the returning director ROBERT HILTZIK took the production and how the cast took it the opposite way. She’s no stranger to working with shlocky filmmakers, considering she worked with UWE BOLL on the horror film POSTAL, which I still have to see. Her performance in this movie is really good and I almost didn’t want to see her die in it. Almost. I’ve actually seen “…TURN TO” before, when it was released on DVD from MAGNET. She said it was shot in 2003, but it just came out last year. I thought it was fun then, but watching it with an audience and a live “heckler” commentary from one of the stars was fantastic. At one point during the movie, Jackie was perplexed by her hairdo in the film and screamed out at the screen, “WHY DO I LOOK LIKE THAT!?”. It was a riot! She had never seen the film all the way through and afterwards she told us that it was a blast for her to watch with everyone. She even received huge applause after her death in the movie, which involved her head being wrapped up in barbed wire. Awesome!

Although “…TURN TO” is not quite the cultural zeitgeist nugget that the original is, it’s still a great deal of fun to watch. The plot involves another summer at the notorious camp, which is now called Camp Manabe ( Man-a- be, get it? Jackie told us that the director was very proud of himself for coming up with that one). This one centers on an obnoxious, disgusting fat kid named Alan, who’s viciously picked on by everyone. Once again, there’s a killer on the loose and nobody can figure out who it is. PAUL DeANGELO returns as Ronnie, the counselor from the original who only wears tank tops and the shortest shorts ever. He is joined by VINCENT PASTORE (Big Pussy from THE SOPRANOS) and ISSAC HAYES in a cameo as the “chef”. OH!

 Meet Alan, the obnoxious fat kid who lights his farts on fire.

Meet Alan, the obnoxious fat kid who lights his farts on fire.

The babes of "...TURN TO"! That's JACKIE TOHN on the far right.

The babes of "...TURN TO"! That's JACKIE TOHN on the far right.

Big Pussy and a "familiar" looking cop, who uses one of those cancer throat things to communicate.

Big Pussy and a "familiar" looking cop, who uses one of those cancer throat things to communicate.

ANGELA'S BACK!!! HOLY FUCK!!!

ANGELA'S BACK!!! HOLY FUCK!!!

The thing that I like the most about “…TURN TO” is that the cruelty from the original is back and has even been amplified to a higher level than before. Every character in the movie seems like they are on the brink of completely losing control. The Alan character is so horribly treated by his peers you would almost feel sorry for him, if he wasn’t such an unsympathetic freak. One moment I found to be particularly funny and cruel features Alan screaming in agony at the sight of a dead frog he loved, that was skinned alive by bullies. BRIAN COLLINS turned to me during that scene and said, “This is one of the meanest horror movies ever made”, in which I concurred.

It was a great time and the slasher retrospective will be going on every Thursday night, all month long at the Cinefamily. This Thursday is a triple feature of three high school slashers that include SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, GRADUATION DAY and REDEEMER: SON OF SATAN. See you there.

I was TRICK ‘R TREATing, all weekend long.

October 6, 2009

trick-r-treat

On October 5th, 2007 the first horror anthology movie in quite awhile was supposed to be released theatrically by the folks at the WB. It wasn’t. Why, you ask? Well, it’s not because the movie isn’t very good. On the contrary, it’s excellent. It’s not because the movie was too expensive and that they wouldn’t make their money back, because it cost less than 15 million to make. It’s not because there wouldn’t be an audience for a horror film that takes place on and is released near Halloween, who’s only real competition is the latest SAW sequel, because I believe it would have done great. So why WB? WHY!? Why are you dumping this film on DVD with no fanfare except the cult-like buzz it has gotten by the few people who’ve been lucky enough to see it? I don’t know the answer to this, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that studio execs are brainless idiots that are born without spines, guts, or balls. I mean, that’s got to be it, right?

The problem with TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it’s just too damn clever and a bit too original for a studio system that is only interested in marketing a pre-sold property. If TRICK ‘R TREAT was a remake or a sequel, or if it was based on a popular video game or graphic novel, then no problem. It would already be a franchise and therefore, a bankable property. But the WB can’t be expected to get behind something that’s new and original, because then they could possibly lose some of their precious money and then some executive douchebag might lose their job, which they don’t deserve anyway, so let’s greenlight that FRIDAY THE 13th remake/sequel instead and fuck what the people want, right? WRONG!

I saw TRICK ‘R TREAT a full year ago with a packed house of horror maniacs at a special screening held in Hollywood by the folks at AIN’T IT COOL NEWS and the reaction was phenomenal. I know others who saw it at the ’08 L.A. Screamfest and even before that at The Alamo Drafthouse’s annual BUTT NUMB-A-THON in ’07. After the success of these screenings, I thought for sure the WB would realize their error and release it theatrically the following October with all the bells and whistles. EPIC FAIL!

So now TRICK ‘R TREAT has finally seen the light of day on home video and I guess we should be thankful for that, but this a movie that really needs to be seen in a theatre with an audience, to be truly appreciated. Luckily, I live in L.A. and there were a few screenings of it at the two best revival theaters in the city, the New Beverly Cinema and the Cinefamily @ The Silent Movie Theatre, this past weekend. I attended both.

An awesome double bill @ The New Bev!

An awesome double bill @ The New Bev!

Michael Dougherty introducing his film to the Cinefamily.

Michael Dougherty gets a "hand" introducing his film to the Cinefamily.

Both screenings were a lot of fun! The Cinefamily threw a costume contest before the movie and I went as the DARK WIZARD (which won me 3rd prize and an autographed TRICK ‘R TREAT poster!), while my companion Grae Drake from The Popcorn Mafia went as a sexy ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL, with a pencil sticking out of her cheek. She looked awesome and did her own makeup too!

THE DARK WIZARD and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL say, "Trick 'r Treat!"

THE DARK WIZARD and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL say, "Trick 'r Treat!"

MICHAEL DOUGHERTY and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL ate my beard!

MICHAEL DOUGHERTY and ZOMBIE SCHOOL GIRL ate my beard!

The New Bev featured TRICK ‘R TREAT on a double bill with one of the greatest horror anthology movies ever made, 1982’s CREEPSHOW. Both screenings included an introduction and Q and A from the director, MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, who seemed ecstatic over how well received his film was by both audiences.

Michael Dougherty introduces his movie at the New Bev.

Michael Dougherty introduces his movie at the New Bev.

The best way to describe TRICK ‘R TREAT is that it is an anthology film in the spirit of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, CREEPSHOW and THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE, only presented in an non-linear narrative similar to PULP FICTION, that features interwoven characters and stories.

The first story centers on a school principal (played with dark humor by DYLAN BAKER), who happens to be a candy poisoning, child killer bent on teaching his son how to carve a pumpkin the “right” way.

I'd check that candy if I were you, kid.

I'd check that candy if I were you, kid.

The second story involves a prank thrown on an autistic girl that involves an old “legend” about a bus of mentally challenged kids that were driven off a cliff to their deaths. This segment is like THE GOONIES with a body count.

The WB execs had a hard time wrapping their skulls around this one!

The WB execs had a hard time wrapping their skulls around this one!

The third tale features a group of attractive, twenty-something girls who are throwing a costume party in the woods, so they can “feed” their animal instincts. ANNA PAQUIN is a virgin trying to find a date, dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. Virgins, vampires and werewolves. Oh my!

Four hot "bitches"!

Four hot "bitches"!

The final story is about a mean old man (BRIAN COX) who refuses to celebrate Halloween in any way, shape or form. No decorations, costumes or candy from him, just a lot of bad attitude. Unfortunately, SAM is a stickler for the rules of the holiday and makes sure they are being followed by all. This bizarre little creature serves as the film’s mascot (ala the Crypt Keeper) and in this story he proves to be a real menace to anyone who doesn’t want to play along.

Better get that candy ready, or else!

Better get that candy ready, or else!

TRICK ‘R TREAT is an instantly iconic horror movie for horror movie geeks, made by a horror movie geek. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY has created one of the most Halloween-ish movies about Halloween ever. Not even HALLOWEEN is as Halloween as TRICK ‘R TREAT! The incredible art direction by TONY WOHLGEMUTH and beautiful cinematography by GLENN MacPHERSON creates the most richly detailed setting I’ve ever seen. Every corner of the frame virtually explodes with amazing images of pumpkin patches, costume parades, and lavishly decorated neighborhoods where every house has a carved Jack-O-Lantern and all the kids are dressed as pirates, monsters and ghosts.

There is also a great deal of gore and a pervasive tone of mirth and malice that reminded me a lot of the kind of horror movies I grew up on in the 80’s. And that’s where those dummies at the WB had their biggest problem with the film. MICHAEL DOUGHERTY kills off 15 kids in this movie and I admire the balls it took to do that. We live in an age where the very thought of harming a child in a movie is considered taboo, even if the kid really deserves it. What puss-ified times we live in. It’s just a movie, people!

Following the TRICK ‘R TREAT screening at the New Bev, was a screening of the classic GEORGE ROMERO and STEPHEN KING collaboration, CREEPSHOW. I loved seeing it again so much and it complimented TRICK ‘R TREAT beautifully. CREEPSHOW still has a great deal of SCARE power left in it, as there were a lot of screams from the audience. The term, “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” would fit here, if it wasn’t for the fact that MICHAEL DOUGHERTY did do just that.

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To hell with renting TRICK ‘R TREAT, just go ahead and buy it. It’s worth it and trust me, you’ll be watching it every Halloween from now on. Just be sure to watch it with all the lights turned off and don’t forget to follow all the rules, or you might find yourself in trouble with SAM! Trick ‘r treat!

That's SAM hanging out at the New Bev's TRICK 'R TREAT screening.

That's SAM hanging out at the New Bev's TRICK 'R TREAT screening.

Bronson is badass!

September 22, 2009

Bronson poster 1

Last Friday night my friend Gariana Abeyta of The Popcorn Mafia got me into a sold out screening of the new movie BRONSON at the Cinefamily. I had a previous dinner engagement and missed the Q and A with the Director and the star at the earlier show, but I got to see the movie and I’m very grateful, because BRONSON was the shit!

BRONSON tells the story of a petty thief named Michael Peterson, who is sentenced to 7 years in prison for the armed robbery of a post office that netted him about 28 pounds and change. His quest to become the most famous criminal in Britain leads him to change his name to Charles Bronson (the epitome of macho maleness) and assume an alter ego that becomes the British penal system’s worst nightmare. Charles Bronson really hates authority and loves nothing more than mixing it up with prison guards, officials, inmates and just about anyone that gets near him. After numerous assaults he is moved from one prison to another and begins to pile up more and more sentences. He likes to draw and write poems, but his favorite thing to do is to take a hostage, strip naked, grease himself with something (butter, paint, his own blood) and take on about 8 prison guards at once as they rush him with billy clubs and ultimately beat the living tar out of him. He also causes about 4 million pounds in damage to one unfortunate institution during a prison riot and fire he starts. All in all, he ends up doing 34 years in prison and 30 of those are in solitary confinement.

Tom Hardy as Charles Bronson, the most famous, charismatic, and violent prisoners in England.

Tom Hardy as Charles Bronson, one of the most famous, charismatic, and violent prisoners in the U.K.

This movie is edgy British cinema at its best. The energy, style, humor and brutality are in the tradition of THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, SEXY BEAST, and TRAINSPOTTING. The direction from Nicolas Refn is visceral, confident, brave and displays an amazing visual style that is quite impressive considering this film was made for less than one million pounds. The narrative structure is also very operatic, with the main character donning clown face and performing to an audience at times. Tom Hardy gives a virtuoso performance as Bronson. He’s a charming sociopath with a love for the limelight and a violent temper for anyone that pisses him off, and of course everyone does. It’s an incredible story and a powerhouse of a movie that stands out from just about anything I’ve seen this year. Find it and see it when it’s released next month because it’s fucking awesome!

Summer Camp with the Cinefamily!

August 31, 2009

“Dear Mom and Dad,

Camp is great! We’re learning how to use knives and guns and the boys and girls are sleeping with each other. It’s the greatest summer camp ever!”

– SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE

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I am truly saddened over the fact that I have never been to summer camp a day in my life. I would have loved to have camped out in the woods by a crackling fire and toasted marshmallows while singing, “Koom-by-yah” with my fellow campers. Archery, arts and crafts, and skinny dipping would have been a lot of fun, but this was just not meant to be.

My summer camp memories are relegated to the movies, so I was excited to see that the Cinefamily was throwing an all-night SUMMER CAMP MOVIE MARATHON! I went with my partner in crime, the lovely Grae Drake of The Popcorn Mafia and boy did we have ourselves some fun. The Cinefamily’s main programmer, Hadrian Belove and his staff were all dressed like counselors and there was a wading pool and a crafts table set up for making “friendship” bracelets. There was also plenty of beer on hand for us older campers and I ate one of the most delicious smores ever made. The first movie we watched was the amazing, LITTLE DARLINGS…

Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neil spend their summer trying to get laid.

Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neil spend their summer trying to get laid.

You’ve got to love a teen comedy that’s this inappropriate. Tatum O’Neil and a chain-smoking Kristy McNichol spend their summer camp experience trying to win a bet on which one of them can get laid first. Kristy has her eyes on a teenage (almost unintelligible) Matt Dillon, while Tatum tries to score some loving from an extremely hairy and waaaaayyyyyy too old Armand Assante. If you like under age drinking and jail bait, this is the summer camp movie for you! Up next was something truly incredible…

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Meatballs meets The Beach!

Summer Camp Nightmare

1987’s SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE tells the story of an all boy’s summer camp that’s run by a very strict Chuck (The Rifleman) Connors. He makes them watch religious programs on the only T.V. and cancels the dance with the nearby girl’s camp. That’s when the kids form an uprising and take control by killing him, jailing the counselors and creating their own society with their own rules. This movie was like a cross between MEATBALLS, LORD OF THE FLIES, THE BEACH, TAPS and a half dozen prison films I’ve seen, complete with a shanking, a rape and a lynching! WOW! Next up, it was time to get stupid…

Meatballs2poster

Meet Meathead, the pot smoking alien.

Meet Meathead, the pot smoking alien.

MEATBALLS PART 2 has absolutely nothing at all to do with the Bill Murray movie. It’s about a war between the laid-back Camp Sasquatch and the military-themed Camp Patton. There’s also an E.T. who smokes weed in it, named Meathead, who has been sent to Earth for the summer by his parents to get his merit badge. Pee Wee Herman, John Larroquette, Richard (EMPTY NEST) Mulligan and the guy who played Ogre from REVENGE OF THE NERDS are on hand for the hilarity. I haven’t seen this one since VHS back in the eighties and it was quite a treat to see a beautiful 35mm Sony archive print of it.

Then, our “camp director” Hadrian offered us all a choice between watching the MEATBALLS rip-off GORP or a christian summer camp movie called, GERONIMO.

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We chose GERONIMO and boy am I glad! It’s the “honky and the home-boys” tale of a born-again camp counselor who’s given the tough assignment of taking care of a group of wild, inner-city kids from Chicago for the summer, all of whom seem very “real” and behave like the cast of Larry Clark’s KIDS. After dozens of lectures about Jesus and a few unintentionally racist comments, the boys finally discover the “joy” of camping, when they’re not stealing everything in sight, picking fights with everyone and sniffing glue. This was truly a “rare” treat to see.

Next up was GORP, but it was about 4 a.m. and we needed to take the big, yellow bus back home. Thanks again to the Cinefamily for all the fun. It was the best summer camp experience I’ve ever had, without all that awkward “growing up” stuff!

I got my Comic-Con on!

July 27, 2009
Holy shit! I'm at Comic-Con!

Holy shit! I'm at Comic-Con!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a nerd. But for one reason or another, I’ve never made the geek pilgrimage to San Diego to witness the spectacle that is Comic-Con. This year however, I scored a last minute ticket, and hot footed it to the “whale’s vagina” for a full day of nerdocity. I made it there around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and hooked up with my good friends, The Popcorn Mafia. We hit the floor around 11 and as I made several passes around, I was dumbstruck by the amount of costumed nerds I saw. There was a pack of six predators that either came together, or met on the floor and decided to hang with each other. I’m not sure.

Somebody call Governor Schwarzenegger!!

Somebody call Governor Schwarzenegger!!

There were scores of nerd-ladies dressed like Wonder Woman, that varied on a sliding scale of hotness. I saw a stormtrooper dressed like Elvis. I saw robots, wizards, ninjas, jedis, hobbits, aliens, monsters, ghouls, Klingons, zombies, and Harry Knowles in the men’s bathroom waiting to take a leak. It was awesome!

Around 1:30, we hit the infamous Hall H, where we scored great seats and hunkered down for about 4 hours of geekgasms. The first panel we saw was for EXTRACT, the new Mike Judge comedy, starring Jason Bateman, Kristen Wigg, Mila Kunis, and Ben Affleck. It looks very funny and has an amazing ensemble cast. I’m a huge fan of Judge’s film work, including OFFICE SPACE and the criminally underrated, IDIOCRACY. The panel consisted of Mike Judge, Jason Bateman, and the gorgeous Mila Kunis, who was dissed by a young nerd asking a question, when she incorrectly complimented his “stormtrooper” costume and was informed, rather rudely, that it was in fact a “biker scout” costume. I gotta feeling this kid’s never gonna get laid with that attitude.

This was followed by the ZOMBIELAND presentation, which started off with a new super-violent comic-con exclusive trailer. It was a great trailer and made me even more excited about seeing it. I love zombie movies and this one looks like a big, crazy zombie-comedy, ala SHAUN OF THE DEAD, only on a much larger scale. The panel consisted of the director, Ruben Fleischer and cast members, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and the awesome, Woody Harrelson, who got a great reaction from the crowd. They showed us two scenes from the movie that were very good. One involved Jesse Eisenberg consoling a pretty girl he has a crush on who’s just been attacked by a zombie, only to have to defend himself against her once she turns into one. Another scene, involved Harrelson smashing zombies over the head with a banjo in a supermarket. Good times.

Next up, was 2012 with Roland Emmerich on the panel. It started with a brand new trailer that really rocked the house. Say what you want about him, but Roland Emmerich is this generation’s Irwin Allen and 2012 looks like the mother of all disaster movies! Emmerich showed us an action scene, but warned us beforehand, that about 70% of the effects were perfect and 30% needs a little more work. The scene I saw was jaw dropping cool and looked 100% to me. It featured John Cusack attempting to drive his family out to the airport as L.A. crumbles around him in what looks like a magnitude 50.9 size earthquake. Cusack drives through falling buildings and finally they get on a plane that takes off as the runway collapses underneath them. It was really fucking wild and I’m really looking forward to this.

There was a short break, but it was like the calm before the storm. I gobbled up a hot dog that tasted like an old shoe and a huge pile of the most disgusting nachos ever made, because I hadn’t eaten anything all day and was coasting on geek fumes. Then the spectacle of IRON MAN 2 filled the hall and made me forget about my hideous lunch for awhile. The moderator was introduced to the rabid crowd, some douche bag from Access Hollywood who’d been creeping us out with his insincere enthusiasm all day. He received a chorus of boos that echoed ominously throughout Hall H. He ignored it all and introduced the director, the guy from PCU, who showed us the world’s shortest trailer. Not even a trailer, but more like a teaser of a teaser. The expectant crowd tried to contain their disappointment when suddenly, Robert Downey Jr. (looking very Tony Stark) hit the stage and the joint went BANANERZ!  He insisted that they play some footage from the movie at once and we were treated to three new scenes from the upcoming sequel. One featured a meeting at Randy’s Donuts in L.A., between Stark and Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury. It was cool but very short. Second, was a congressional hearing, featuring Gary Shandling as a U.S. senator trying to force Tony Stark to give them his Iron Man suit for study. The scene was great and Downey is very funny in it. Last was a scene involving Don Cheadle (replacing the fired Terrence Howard) and Sam Rockwell getting together to build the War Machine suit, which we then saw in full on, ass kicking action. It was awesome!

Robert Downey Jr.'s face fills Hall H.

Robert Downey Jr.'s face fills Hall H.

Then they hauled out Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell to answer questions from the nerds. The highlight was when a geek asked the magnificent looking Johansson if she had to do anything special in the audition to get the part. She mentioned something about doing deep knee bends and every male nerd in the audience giggled and in unison ran to the bathrooms to masturbate. I got your “Iron Man” right here. OH! There was also some brief talk about the upcoming Avengers movie. I personally want to see a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie set in WW II more than anything, but that’s just me.

Hall H exhausted the shit out of me and the Popcorn Mafia. We also needed decent food and drink, so we all went to an Italian restaurant (big surprise) to recharge our batteries and share our feelings about everything we had just witnessed. Unsure of what to do next, I remembered a tip I got from my nerd friend Cat, who I stumbled into on the main floor earlier. She spoke to me of a place outside the convention center, on sixth street, that was a replica of Flynn’s arcade from TRON. Now, I’m a huge Tron maniac from way back in the day, so I convinced the group of nerds I was with to check it out. Great idea!

Wow! Flynn's arcade!

Wow! Flynn's arcade!

Classic 80's arcade games everywhere!

Classic 80's arcade games everywhere!

Back in the day, I was a master of the Tron arcade game.

Back in the day, I was a master of the Tron arcade game.

We waited in a line for about 20 minutes and then were allowed into a replica of Flynn’s arcade from the movie Tron, complete with 80’s arcade games. They had Battle Zone, Defender, Joust, Asteroids, Missle Command, and Tron the video game, which I was addicted to like a crackhead back in the day. We were all having fun playing video games, when suddenly a wall opened up and everyone was ushered into a dark hallway that had large, illuminated pre-production sketches of the new lightcycles for the upcoming sequel, TRON: LEGACY. The hallway led to a room filled with throbbing electronic music and low and behold, an actual full size lightcycle from the new movie! It looked awesome and I went into geek convulsions.

I was very impressed with the sketch of the new lightcycle.

I was very impressed with the sketch of the new lightcycle.

I was even more impressed with the actual lightcycle!!

I was even more impressed with the actual lightcycle!!

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Needless to say, I was totally blown away. And as a bonus, they gave us a free “Flynn’s Arcade” t-shirt as we left. It had been a very cool and long day for us, so the Popcorn Mafia and I hunkered down at the Hyatt to get drunk and go over our numerous adventures during the day. For my first ever Comic-Con experience, I was completely satisfied at all the coolness I had absorbed into my geek mind. Tired, I grabbed the arm of the nearest and most attractive nerd woman I could find and ran off into the night. The next morning I was on the road back to L.A., but I will return next year Comic-Con. You can bet your geek ass on that!