Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Robins Are Getting Dirty in Detective Comics #47


The Robin War continues in Batman Detective Comics #47. The third chapter in the crossover event sees Writer Ray Fawkes and Artist Steve Pugh continuing an epic tale bringing all the Boy Wonders, past and present, together to take on the Gotham City Police Department as well as a more sinister force. 21 pages of vibrantly illustrated action and drama await the reader of this issue.

In Detective Comics #47, the GCPD cracks down on the Robins and puts them in lock up. Batman must choose sides. The mysterious Court of Owls stands behind it all pulling the strings!

Writer Ray Fawkes gives Peter J. Tomasi a break from scripting Detective Comics to bring us the next chapter in the Robin Wars. He does an admirable job putting all the Boy Wonders in one place and showing off different bits of their personalities as they band together for a common goal. It’s a pleasant story element which keeps things interesting on a cerebral level amongst all the kicking, punching, and screaming.

The issue is rated T for Teen and contains violence, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes. The typical comic book elements are really all we get here. There’s nothing too shocking or out of the ordinary to report. I will ask one simple question: “Does anyone remember when super heroes didn’t use bad language?”

A breakneck pace and exhilarating artwork make for an exciting reading experience for Detective Comics #47. Steve Pugh’s full-page spread of Batcop and Dick Grayson springing into danger is a memorable image fit for framing. Fawkes does his part to give his audience a suspenseful ride within the confines of one piece of a massive puzzle.

Detective Comics #47 is available now in print and digital editions.

The Robins Are Getting Dirty in Detective Comics #47


The Robin War continues in Batman Detective Comics #47. The third chapter in the crossover event sees Writer Ray Fawkes and Artist Steve Pugh continuing an epic tale bringing all the Boy Wonders, past and present, together to take on the Gotham City Police Department as well as a more sinister force. 21 pages of vibrantly illustrated action and drama await the reader of this issue.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Scream Factory Kicks It Into High Gear With "The Car" Blu-ray


“The Car” charges onto Blu-ray courtesy of the high-definition savior of all “forgotten” horror gems known as Scream Factory. The 1977 low-budget shocker was obviously influenced by “Jaws” and spawned many copycats like Stephen King’s “Christine” and “Trucks.” Award-winning Director Elliott Silverstein (“The Twilight Zone,” “Tales from the Crypt”) crafts a startling tale featuring James Brolin gearing up to battle another demonic force in “The Amityville Horror” a couple of years later.

Two bicyclists are run down by a strange black car in the desert near a small town in Utah. But this is just the first in a series of hit-and-run murders. Sheriff Wade Parents (James Brolin) is called in to investigate, and his deputy, Everett (John Marley), is killed by the black sedan, which, some witnesses say, has no one behind its wheel. When “The Car” threatens a local school parade, the lives of the town's children and Wade's teacher girlfriend, Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd), are endangered.

Cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld (“Young Frankenstein,” “Fail Safe”) does an incredible job of putting audiences in both the driver’s seat of “The Car” and in the shoes of its helpless victims. He has an eye for striking camera angles that help build up tension to a fever pitch. Hirschfeld’s craftsmanship is accentuated by the frantic editing of Michael McCroskey which sets the pace for much of the action and creates a sense of anxiety and helplessness as the car charges towards its target.

“The Car” is rated PG for violence and gore, profanity, adult situations, drinking and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. Compared to today’s PG-13 movies, there’s nothing too shocking here. Most of the scares are in the build-ups and chase scenes as the metallic predator charges furiously at its prey.

Scream Factory’s “The Car” comes fully loaded with bonus material that will thrill both new and longtime fans of the film. New interviews with Director Elliot Silverstein and Actors Melody Thomas Scott and Geraldine Keams are included. A theatrical trailer, TV spot, and radio spots are also found. The Blu-ray debut contains a still gallery as well.

One bizarre side note for “The Car” is that filmmakers included a quote from Church of Satan leader Anton LaVey at the beginning of “The Car.” He’s also listed as a technical advisor for the movie. It’s obviously a gimmick to promote the movie at a time when the Satanic Panic movement was at it’s height and LaVey’s teachings were highly sensationalized. As a Christian, I could understand why the reading of a passage out of the Satanic Bible would be frowned upon. I’m sure it will cause many potential viewers from watching the film, too.

“The Car” is a surprisingly convincing horror film that will make you believe a possessed vehicle really could be stalking you around the corner. Imagine the suspense you felt as the shark quickly creeped up on someone in “Jaws.” Apply that to a 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III black coupe honking loud as you do your best to pedal or run away in terror and you can imagine the sensation you’ll experience watching this cult classic.

"The Car" is available now on Blu-ray.

Scream Factory Kicks It Into High Gear With "The Car" Blu-ray


“The Car” charges onto Blu-ray courtesy of the high-definition savior of all “forgotten” horror gems known as Scream Factory. The 1977 low-budget shocker was obviously influenced by “Jaws” and spawned many copycats like Stephen King’s “Christine” and “Trucks.” Award-winning Director Elliott Silverstein (“The Twilight Zone,” “Tales from the Crypt”) crafts a startling tale featuring James Brolin gearing up to battle another demonic force in “The Amityville Horror” a couple of years later.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tragedy Revealed in Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2


DC Comics’ Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2 is upon us. Writers Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello give us the next chapter in the highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed “The Dark Knight Returns” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Andy Kubert pencils the book and Klaus Janson brings each panel a definitive texture filled in by Brad Anderson’s vivid coloring.

Carrie Kelley has been captured in Dark Knight III: The Master Race. The GCPD wants to know if the real Batman is alive. Is our aged Caped Crusader still among the living and running things from the dark recesses of the Batcave or has he shuffled off this mortal coil? Meanwhile, the Atom continues to search for a way to resize the Kandorians and bring them into the world.

Disappointment is not what I had in mind when I delved into Dark Knight III: The Master Race. As the story moves forward, it seems to be rooted more in "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" than "The Dark Knight Returns." Everything happening in issue #2 is Superman-centered when it comes to the main storyline and establishing the villains of the book. With the general consensus being that "Strikes Again" was far inferior to "Returns," I was hoping for something focusing more on Batman, his villains, and getting back to the root of things in his world.

As an added bonus to Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2, readers get the 16-page Dark Knight Universe presents Wonder Woman #1. Writers Miller and Azzarello give us background on the rivalry between the Amazon goddess and her daughter Lara. Art for the mini-comic is provided by Eduardo Risso, who does a good job channeling Miller’s art style while bringing something of himself to the table as well.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2 is rated T+ for Teen Plus. I’m still puzzled as to why it’s given this rating. There’s really nothing much outside of the normal content we find in the Batman or Detective Comics monthly titles. It contains violence, gore, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes.

Let me make myself clear. I’m not saying the tale Miller and Azzarello are telling is necessarily bad. It's just not what I craved when cracking open Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2. I feel like I'm reading a Justice League book instead of one centered around Batman. If the comic were titled "The Justice League Returns" I wouldn’t have such an issue.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2 is available now in print and digital editions.

Tragedy Revealed in Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2


DC Comics’ Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2 is upon us. Writers Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello give us the next chapter in the highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed “The Dark Knight Returns” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Andy Kubert pencils the book and Klaus Janson brings each panel a definitive texture filled in by Brad Anderson’s vivid coloring.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Weight of the World is Superheavy in Batman #47


Batman #47 continues Jim Gordon and the Gotham City PD’s battle on the enigmatic Mr. Bloom. The 22 pages of story are written by mastermind Scott Snyder and illustrated by the capable hands of Greg Capullo. It’s interesting to see the evolution of a new character which could easily be positioned right next to the most legendary villains in the Dark Knight’s Gallery of Rogues.

In Batman #47, Jim Gordon is in the fight of his life against Mr. Bloom. Bruce Wayne discovers a shocking secret about his past that will change everything in Gotham City!

Writer Scott Snyder blends together multiple storylines with impeccable ease. Artist Greg Capullo continues to amaze with his trademark style and unique take on characters new and old. The two form a powerhouse of creativity that never ceases to amaze and thrill me.

Issue #47 of Batman is rated T for Teen. It contains violence, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes. If you’re used to PG-13 comic book movies, you’ll be fine with what’s going on here.

Batman #47 continues to tease readers waiting anxiously to find out more about the motives of the enigmatic Mr. Bloom. Just when you think Gordon's Batcop finally has everything under control, a new threat rears its ugly head in a way that only the twisted mind of Scott Snyder could dream up. I still can't shake the nervousness over whether they're going to put Bruce back in the cape and cowl and retire Batcop. I want more of Jim Gordon's Dark Knight. If they can find a way for both to co-exist, I would be all for that.

Batman #47 is available now in print and digital editions.

The Weight of the World is Superheavy in Batman #47


Batman #47 continues Jim Gordon and the Gotham City PD’s battle on the enigmatic Mr. Bloom. The 22 pages of story are written by mastermind Scott Snyder and illustrated by the capable hands of Greg Capullo. It’s interesting to see the evolution of a new character which could easily be positioned right next to the most legendary villains in the Dark Knight’s Gallery of Rogues.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Filled With Nostalgia, New Magic


SPOILERS! SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE STOP READING NOW! 

Where do you even start when reviewing a movie you’ve been waiting to see since 1983? Yes, I know there have been three other “Star Wars” movies and two television series since “Return of the Jedi” played in theaters 32 summers ago. I’ve loved every one of them and watched and rewatched them.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is different, though. What we have here is an extension of the adventures of the beloved Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia Organa along with a new generation of characters. We’re not exploring groundwork we’ve already had mapped out for us and know what to expect to a certain degree. With the Expanded Universe tossed out of continuity, there’s a whole new journey for us to embark on.

Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. When a defector named Finn (John Boyega) crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey (Daisy Ridley), a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the last of the Jedi Knights.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is very much a return to the magic and excitement we experienced with the original trilogy. You’re dropped into a galaxy that is both familiar yet different. Some of the characters we already know and love are there to help the new ones on their own hero’s journeys.

My personal experience viewing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was overwhelming. I had to see it twice before doing this review. It was all too much to take in the first time. The first time I was in shock over what was unfolding in front of me.

The basic storyline pays homage to all three of the original “Star Wars” films. The way it all transpired actually reminded me of “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” We’re told the same story but in a different time and place. You definitely get a feeling of deja vu at times. History tends to repeat itself in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. I was bothered by this a bit, but realize it was probably necessary to move forward into new territory.

Harrison Ford pours himself right back into the role of Han Solo. I wouldn’t even necessarily say he’s grown as a character. He’s still the same old smuggler moving from one job to the next. Solo’s every bit as cocky and reckless as he’s ever been. Ford might have spent decades talking crap about the role, but it’s evident he’s having a blast strapping the laser guns and familiar outfit back on.

My favorite character in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is Kylo Ren. He’s like a loose cannon of anger and hate bottled up and ready to explode on anyone who crosses him. He’s obsessed with finding Luke Skywalker and carrying on the “legacy” of his grandfather, Darth Vader. Adam Driver really brings a dark charisma to the conflicted role.

For those excited to see Captain Phasma in action, you better lower your expectations to a level of zero. She’s barely in the movie and does nothing of any significance. I can’t believe so much was made of such a useless character. Anyone who was excited at the idea of bringing more powerful females into the “Star Wars” world will be furious. Unless her character is going to be fully realized in “Episode VIII,” Phasma will be remembered as a wasted opportunity much like Darth Maul was for the prequel trilogy.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is an interesting animal. It didn’t unravel the way I expected it to from seeing the trailers and reading information about it for the past year. However, at the same time I wasn’t surprised at some of the secret revelations and events that take place in it. I expected it to happen, but didn’t all at the same time.

The movie is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. It has the same content any of the other “Star Wars” films had. There’s also some mild language to be found. The same types of expletives we got in 1977. I would say it’s less graphic than “Revenge of the Sith,” though.

Is it better than any of the original trilogy movies? I would say not better than “A New Hope” or “The Empire Strikes Back.” “Return of the Jedi” loses points because of the Ewoks. That’s one thing the movie doesn’t have - Ewoks or Gungans. It’s superior to the prequels just because of the atmosphere and touches of nostalgia we get. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is an entertaining and explosive step in the right direction as a new era begins to unfold.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Filled With Nostalgia, New Magic


SPOILERS! SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE STOP READING NOW! 

Where do you even start when reviewing a movie you’ve been waiting to see since 1983? Yes, I know there have been three other “Star Wars” movies and two television series since “Return of the Jedi” played in theaters 32 summers ago. I’ve loved every one of them and watched and rewatched them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Read a Good "Star Wars" Comic in Line for "The Force Awakens"


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hits theaters tomorrow and many readers out there will be standing in line for hours with plenty of time to burn. With the advent of smart phones, almost everyone has unlimited data these days. Why not put that data to good use and download a couple of comic books that will take you to a Galaxy Far, Far Away while you wait.

Marvel began publishing “Star Wars” comic books in 2014 after reclaiming the rights from Dark Horse. It all sort of makes sense, seeing that the same company owns both properties now. I have two suggestions for your reading pleasure.

“Star Wars Movie Sampler #1” contains previews of most of the titles being published by Marvel right now. A few pages from “Star Wars,” “Darth Vader,” “Princess Leia,” “Kanan: The Last Padawan,” “Lando,” “Journey to the Force Awakens - Shattered Empire,” and the newest 6-part crossover event “Vader Down.” Each book takes place during different times.

“Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens - Shattered Empire” will no doubt be the comic you’ll most be interested in as it takes place right after “Return of the Jedi.” Once you’ve perused the different titles within the sampler, you can decide which ones you want to finish reading. I can’t imagine any “Star Wars” fan not wanting to read every one of these.

Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Infinities” is a 528-page collection of some of the most interesting graphic novels ever published through Dark Horse. “Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope #1-4,” “Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back #1-4,” “Star Wars Infinities: Return of the Jedi #1-4,” and “The Star Wars #0-8” all take the familiar tales we’ve grown up with and spin them out of control.

The “Star Wars: Infinities” books explore how “A New Hope” might have gone if Luke Skywalker missed the target in his attack on the Death Star? What would have become of the Rebel Alliance if Luke perished in the icy wastelands of Hoth during “The Empire Strikes Back?” What if “Return of the Jedi's” rescue of Han Solo had gone badly wrong?

In one of the most anticipated alternate takes on the “Star Wars” Universe, we follow Annikin Starkiller into battle as he takes a hero’s journey based on the original draft of George Lucas' screenplay! Many of your most beloved characters are here. They might not look or act the way you expect them to, though, in “The Star Wars.”

Either one of these great books will provide you with enough entertainment and excitement to gear you up for the latest chapter in George Lucas’s epic space saga. I know there are those out there who absolutely refuse to pick up a comic book and read it. The “Star Wars Movie Sampler #1” and “Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Infinities” might just take you into a larger world. See what I did there? (Obi-Wan Kenobi quote - nudge and a wink).

“Star Wars Movie Sampler #1” is available now for free as a Digital Download.

“Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Infinities” is available now in print and Digital editions.

Read a Good "Star Wars" Comic in Line for "The Force Awakens"


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hits theaters tomorrow and many readers out there will be standing in line for hours with plenty of time to burn. With the advent of smart phones, almost everyone has unlimited data these days. Why not put that data to good use and download a couple of comic books that will take you to a Galaxy Far, Far Away while you wait.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Worlds Collide in Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1


DC Comics and IDW Publishing give comic book fans the greatest Christmas present they could ever ask for with Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. I’m not entirely sure who asked for this mashup of epic proportions, but you better believe Writer James Tynion IV and Artist Freddie E Williams II both pour every ounce of their souls into the first 21-page issue. I guess the blending of the two universes isn’t as strange as it might have been years ago, with the recent crossovers between “Star Trek,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “Green Lantern.”

In Gotham City, a series of deadly raids leads Batman to believe he’s up against a group of highly trained ninjas known as the Foot Clan! Somehow, they’ve crossed over to another dimension and are determined to take advantage of the situation while looking to get back home. But they haven’t come alone: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are hot on their trail in Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.

James Tynion IV combines the worlds of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the only manner I can think possible through somehow crossing dimensions. The concept reminded me a little of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time.” That movie had the Turtles transported through time to the distant past. It’s not quite the same thing, but our Heroes in a Half-Shell are out of their natural environment here as well.

Freddie E Williams II’s art is energetic and sweeping as ninja swords and daggers swoosh through the air. My only problem with the illustrations is with Batman’s proportions. He is too big and muscular, reminding me of a 'roided out wrestler. The style of drawing works for the Turtles, but looks awkward when applied to the Caped Crusader.

Issue #1 of Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 is rated T for Teens. It contains violence, profanity, and intense and frightening scenes. There’s nothing here that would frighten anyone over the age of 10. If you’ve seen any of the TMNT or Batman movies, you’re ready to pick this book up.

Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 is a fun crossover comic that I really never would have expected. I’m still not completely convinced the concept will work in the end. However, it’s fun to see the Dark Knight face-to-face with Shredder and meeting the Turtles. Good or bad when it’s all said and done, here is a team-up that won’t be forgotten in the annals of comic book history.

Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 is available now in print and Kindle editions.

Worlds Collide in Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1


DC Comics and IDW Publishing give comic book fans the greatest Christmas present they could ever ask for with Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. I’m not entirely sure who asked for this mashup of epic proportions, but you better believe Writer James Tynion IV and Artist Freddie E Williams II both pour every ounce of their souls into the first 21-page issue. I guess the blending of the two universes isn’t as strange as it might have been years ago, with the recent crossovers between “Star Trek,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “Green Lantern.”

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Robin War Begins with the Greatest of Ease


The battle for Gotham City is on the rise in DC Comics’ Robin War #1. Writer Tom King leads an army of artists including Khary Randolph, Alain Mauricet, Jorge Corona, and others. The 38-page debut issue kicks off a storyline that will spread across several Bat-centric monthly titles to tell a tale too big for a single book.

In Robin War #1, Damian Wayne returns to Gotham City and he is not happy. There are restless youth all over the city calling themselves Robin. Bruce Wayne is no longer Batman and the GCPD, led by the new, armored-up Batman, is cracking down on anybody wearing the “R.” And things only get worse when Red Hood, Red Robin and Grayson all come back to Gotham City...

I love the way Writer Tom King gives us a brief look at what each of Bruce Wayne's former partners are up to before fate brings them together again. Each one gets a chance in the spotlight as their paths are about to cross. King also does a phenomenal job of setting the story in motion and giving us reasons to become emotionally attached to each character.

I'm not quite sure why DC felt it necessary to have five artists work on a single issue. Although it isn't really distracting, it seems unnecessary here. I get what they're trying to do. They're trying to give certain sections a unique look and give it some visual variety. Maybe it does unconsciously work. Either way, everyone puts their best foot forward in the first chapter of what's shaping up to be another defining moment in comic book history.

Robin War #1 is rated T for Teen. It contains violence and gore, profanity, and intense and frightening scenes. There's definitely no shortage of comic book violence which will keep your eyes darting from one panel to the next.

Robin War #1 does a marvelous job setting readers up for another dramatic and action-packed comic book event within the DC Universe. We're immediately thrown into a whirlwind of tragedy that once again brings all of Batman's sidekicks together to serve justice on the streets of Gotham. The return of a decades-old deadly secret society makes everything even more intricate and astonishing. We have a great start to what could be a an enduring chapter in the chronicles of Batman, his Boy Wonders, and the army of vigilantes they've influenced to strike against those who would bring harm to the citizens they've sworn to protect.

Robin War #1 is available now in print and Kindle editions.

The Robin War Begins with the Greatest of Ease


The battle for Gotham City is on the rise in DC Comics’ Robin War #1. Writer Tom King leads an army of artists including Khary Randolph, Alain Mauricet, Jorge Corona, and others. The 38-page debut issue kicks off a storyline that will spread across several Bat-centric monthly titles to tell a tale too big for a single book.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

"The Garbage Pail Kids Movie" Oozes Onto Blu-ray


Scream Factory does us the honor of unleashing “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” Collector's Edition on anyone brave enough to indulge in it. The gross-out fest from the golden age of the 1980s was directed by Rod Amateau and stars no one besides Mackenzie Astin and Anthony Newley anyone will remember. I have a hard time using the phrase “written by” when referring to Melinda Palmer and Amateau, which both had a hand in bringing this atrocity to the big screen.

Urchins Windy Winston, Foul Phil and Messy Tessie help a shopkeeper's (Anthony Newley) helper (Mackenzie Astin) woo a fashion designer (Katie Barberi). That’s it. That’s all I can do to explain the plot of “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.”

“The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” doesn’t have a single redeeming quality that comes to mind. The attempt at acting by everyone on screen is absolutely deplorable. I’m convinced that every actor in the film was overdubbed by someone else. Legendary voice actor Jim Cummings does his best to bring a couple of the characters to life. I hope he was paid well for wasting his time.

I’m all for gross-out humor when it’s done well. Unfortunately, each character in “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” is a one-trick pony that gets tired quickly. There’s no sort of surprises to be found once you’re introduced to each of them. One farts on command; another pees his pants every time he gets nervous; one snots all over everything all the time; and another is a crocodile that likes to eat people’s toes. I think you get the picture.

It would also help if the mouths of the kids moved the right way when they talked. Their mouths move up and down like old felt puppets from the 1960s. Body movement is reduced to the actors lurking about like a child with too many coats and too much clothing on. The whole movie is just one giant awkward mess unspooling before you.

“The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” is rated PG for crude humor, mild language, and violence. By today’s standards, it’s all rather tame. A few key scenes included scantily clad women at a fashion show. There’s a couple light sexual innuendos here and there, but nothing too shocking.

If you want a sneak peek behind the scenes at the people who brought this cinematic calamity to life, Scream Factory unloads a few special features. There are new interviews with Actors Mackenzie Astin, Arturo Gil and Kevin Thompson, Makeup Effects Creator John Carl Buechler, Makeup Effects Artist Gino Crognale, and First Assistant Director Thomas A. Irvine. A theatrical trailer is included as well.

I can’t think of a better time to use the saying, “Some things you can never unsee” than when warning viewers of the dangers in watching “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.” I won’t even suggest it as a good way to waste a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon. There are so many other bad movies you could watch that are somehow better.

“The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” Collector's Edition is available now on Blu-ray.

"The Garbage Pail Kids Movie" Oozes Onto Blu-ray


Scream Factory does us the honor of unleashing “The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” Collector's Edition on anyone brave enough to indulge in it. The gross-out fest from the golden age of the 1980s was directed by Rod Amateau and stars no one besides Mackenzie Astin and Anthony Newley anyone will remember. I have a hard time using the phrase “written by” when referring to Melinda Palmer and Amateau, which both had a hand in bringing this atrocity to the big screen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Ant-Man" Invades Your Home


Marvel's "Ant-Man" invades your home in a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD edition just in time to get it under your Christmas tree. Pure and simple, "Ant-Man" is a heist film for the comic book generation directed by the more than capable Peyton Reed ("Yes Man," "Bring It On"). It just so happens that the costumed guy putting the job together can shrink and organize hundreds of insects into an army to do his bidding.

Paul Rudd takes on the lead role and injects his usual brand of wry humor into the character. A great combination of special effects, humor, and superhero action make for what I consider one of the most fun and exhilarating viewing experiences I've had watching a Marvel comic book movie.

In "Ant-Man," Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is forced out of his own company by former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). He recruits the talents of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a master thief just released from prison. Lang becomes Ant-Man, trained by Pym and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross, also known as Yellowjacket, from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.

The movie is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. It also contains profanity, alcohol and smoking, drug references, adult situations, and frightening and intense scenes. I felt "Ant-Man" had way more bad language than the other Marvel films and all of it was unnecessary and could've been avoided.

"Ant-Man's" Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD release comes with some impressive bonus material. The featurette "Making of An Ant-Sized Heist: A How-To Guide" takes viewers behind the scenes of the film to examine the superhero's costume, the stunts, and the effects. "Let's Go to the Macroverse" takes a look at the creation of the world from the viewpoint of Ant-Man. WHIH News Front is an assortment of content designed to delve deeper into the world of Ant-Man. Audio commentary is provided by Director Peyton Reed and Actor Paul Rudd. Deleted and extended scenes are found as well.

"Ant-Man" is a breath of fresh air in a comic book world that grows more and more calculable. What we have here is a welcome departure from the Marvel formula. It might not be the Marvel movie we thought we wanted, but it's the one we need to shake things up and make their cinematic universe interesting again. Hopefully, what we see with "Ant-Man" is only a sample of what Marvel has in store for us in the near future when it comes to each movie's unique atmosphere and style.

"Ant-Man" is available now on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.

"Ant-Man" Invades Your Home


Marvel's "Ant-Man" invades your home in a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD edition just in time to get it under your Christmas tree. Pure and simple, "Ant-Man" is a heist film for the comic book generation directed by the more than capable Peyton Reed ("Yes Man," "Bring It On"). It just so happens that the costumed guy putting the job together can shrink and organize hundreds of insects into an army to do his bidding.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Apprentice Put to the Test in Arkham Knight - Robin Special


DC Comics thrills again with the one-shot Batman: Arkham Knight - Robin Special #1. The 20-page story is a quick blast of energy written by Peter J. Tomasi. Robson Rocha handles the penciling while Rob Schwager craftily colors the artwork.

After an intense training session in the Batcave, Tim Drake settles in for a normal day as a science teacher at Robinson Academy. But just as a class field trip to Wayne Industries begins, things take a violent turn when a gang of armed thugs enter the building in Batman: Arkham Knight - Robin Special #1.

Peter J. Tomasi pits Tim Drake’s Boy Wonder not up against just one villain, but three who have one target in mind. Bane, Killer Croc, and Clayface want to get their clutches on the deadly Titan compound. The scribe has no issues with putting our hero and his students in harm’s way for our own selfish enjoyment.

Robson Rocha takes full advantage of his job by providing strong artwork that captures the intense essence of Tomasi’s story. I’m sure he also relished in the fact that he had the opportunity to draw several of the Dynamic Duo’s key archenemies in the span one book. He more than proves his worth with every line he puts down.

The comic is rated T+ for Teen Plus. Batman: Arkham Knight - Robin Special #1 contains violence, profanity, and intense scenes. I don’t really see where the rating comes from since it doesn’t include anything we haven’t seen in any of the regular monthly Batman titles.

Batman: Arkham Knight - Robin Special #1 gives Tim Drake a chance to show off his skills in the video game world everyone loves. The issue will keep readers glued to the pages and shows the Caped Crusader’s sidekick is more than capable of taking care of himself as well as others in a crisis. It’s a short and sweet tale that shouldn’t be missed by fans of Red Robin for sure.

Batman: Arkham Knight - Robin Special #1 is available now in print.

Apprentice Put to the Test in Arkham Knight - Robin Special


DC Comics thrills again with the one-shot Batman: Arkham Knight - Robin Special #1. The 20-page story is a quick blast of energy written by Peter J. Tomasi. Robson Rocha handles the penciling while Rob Schwager craftily colors the artwork.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Scream Factory Tells Us A Classic "Ghost Story"


1981's gothic horror classic "Ghost Story" comes to Blu-ray thanks to our good friends at Scream Factory. Based on Peter Straub's acclaimed 1979 novel of the same name, the film stars a cast of Hollywood royalty including Fred Astaire ("Top Hat"), John Houseman ("The Paper Chase"), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. ("Little Ceasar"), Melvyn Douglas ("Hud"), and Patrice Neal ("The Day the Earth Stood Still"). They're joined by the more than capable talents of Craig Wasson ("One Life to Live") and Alice Krige ("Star Trek: First Contact"). Award-winning director John Irvin ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "Raw Deal," "Hamburger Hill") helmed the thrilling film with the assistance of Director of Photography Jack Cardiff capturing his dark vision.

Every year, four affluent old friends -- Ricky Hawthorne (Fred Astaire), Sears James (John Houseman), Dr. John Jaffrey (Melvyn Douglas) and Edward Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) -- meet to tell ghost stories. When one of Wanderley's sons (Craig Wasson) dies mysteriously the day before his wedding, and the ghostly apparition of a beautiful woman (Alice Krige) appears on the ice, the four old friends have no choice but to piece together one last "Ghost Story" -- this one more terrifying than all the others, because it is true.

There are several reasons "Ghost Story" resonates with me. It pulls you in and emotionally attaches you to its characters. The atmosphere of the movie is so well-established and you feel as if everything you see on screen is authentic. A cast who is genuinely committed to a great story helps as well.

Released in 1981, "Ghost Story" suffers from aged special effects. There are times where the use of blue-screen is painfully evident. The sequences are jarring and pull you out of the viewing experience. You just have to shake off the feeling and not let it ruin the rest of your experience.

"Ghost Story" is rated R for violence and gore, sex and nudity, profanity, alcohol and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. Aside from the usual upper female nudity we always get, there's also full frontal male nudity. I really don't know why any of the nudity is included, as it really adds nothing to the story or the forward motion of the narrative. Rotting and slimy corpses are a recurring visual which will scare some viewers.

Scream Factory's Blu-ray release of "Ghost Story" is filled with some entertaining bonus material for viewers to enjoy. Audio commentary is provided by Director John Irvin. New interviews with Author Peter Straub, Actress Alice Krige, Screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen, Producer Burt Weissbourd, and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor are found. A vintage theatrical trailer, TV and radio spots, and a photo gallery are included as well.

"Ghost Story" is a beautifully filmed old-fashioned gothic horror show from a visual standpoint. It's unfortunate that the movie feels choppy at times and even rushed. I compare it to reading a novel after someone has torn out one or two pages throughout its entirety. Wonderful acting from the golden age of cinema, some top-notch practical effects, and gorgeously bleak sets and locations help elevate this to cult status.

"Ghost Story" is available now on Blu-ray.

Scream Factory Tells Us A Classic "Ghost Story"


1981's gothic horror classic "Ghost Story" comes to Blu-ray thanks to our good friends at Scream Factory. Based on Peter Straub's acclaimed 1979 novel of the same name, the film stars a cast of Hollywood royalty including Fred Astaire ("Top Hat"), John Houseman ("The Paper Chase"), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. ("Little Ceasar"), Melvyn Douglas ("Hud"), and Patrice Neal ("The Day the Earth Stood Still"). They're joined by the more than capable talents of Craig Wasson ("One Life to Live") and Alice Krige ("Star Trek: First Contact"). Award-winning director John Irvin ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "Raw Deal," "Hamburger Hill") helmed the thrilling film with the assistance of Director of Photography Jack Cardiff capturing his dark vision.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Santa Claus vs. Krampus Smackdown in "Christmas Horror Story"


RLJ Entertainment gifts us a wonderfully horrific film experience this holiday season with "A Christmas Horror Story." Helmed by three different directors, the anthology movie brings to mind such classics of terror as "Tales from the Crypt," "Creepshow," "Trick 'r Treat," and the likes. William Shatner heads up a cast that dedicate themselves to a script that gives fans of yuletide horror and gore everything they could ever ask for.

It’s the season of joy, peace, and goodwill… unless you live in Bailey Downs. Last Christmas Eve, two teens came to a grisly end in a school basement. Now, one year later, a new set of horrors has come to town. As three friends explore the site of the massacre, a malevolent spirit is determined to keep them there forever. One of the first cops (Adrian Holmes) to the scene of the bloody murders has new complications as his seven-year-old son (Orion John) exhibits terrifying and violent behavior. And when a local family seeks reconciliation with an estranged aunt (Corinne Conley) for the wrong reasons, they suddenly find themselves running in terror from Krampus (Rob Archer), the demonic anti-Santa Claus. Not even St. Nick (George Buza) is immune to the terror as he fights back against a horde of zombie elves in "A Christmas Horror Story." This is destined to be a holiday no one will ever forget….

I really enjoyed "A Christmas Horror Story" up until the very end. A grizzled tough-guy Santa Claus decapitating foul-mouthed zombie elves and taking on Krampus in a battle royale sealed the deal for me. The other well-written and finely shot tales were the icing on the fruitcake. Having William Shatner be the wise old radio personality with a special Christmas lesson to be shared was the cherry on top.

The only real problem with "A Christmas Horror Story" is its twist ending undermines my favorite segment. All is not as it seems, which is usually a good thing. Unfortunately for me, it completely derailed what I was the most excited for in the film. The ending will most likely also be seen as distasteful by some in light of recent tragic events.

Although "A Christmas Horror Story" is listed as Unrated, it would most likely receive an R if put before the MPAA. It contains violence and gore, drinking, profanity, sexual situations, and intense and frightening scenes. Let's just say there's a lot of gore and elves literally losing their heads. A rather explicit and unnecessary sex scene is shown without any nudity.

The DVD version of "A Christmas Horror Story" provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the movie. It includes interviews with the cast and crew. We also get a peek at the filming process. The makeup effects are a focus of the featurette as well.

"A Christmas Horror Story" somehow brings together so many different elements from our favorite horror sub genres and makes them work together in one entertaining film. It's an incredible feat the filmmakers have achieved by putting together a murderous Santa Claus, Krampus, a supernatural entity ala "The Conjuring," a changeling, ravenous zombie elves, and St. Nick as an action movie hero. It's a jolly good time for all those who like a little darkness and gore during the holiday season.

"A Christmas Horror Story" is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.

Santa Claus vs. Krampus Smackdown in "Christmas Horror Story"


RLJ Entertainment gifts us a wonderfully horrific film experience this holiday season with "A Christmas Horror Story." Helmed by three different directors, the anthology movie brings to mind such classics of terror as "Tales from the Crypt," "Creepshow," "Trick 'r Treat," and the likes. William Shatner heads up a cast that dedicate themselves to a script that gives fans of yuletide horror and gore everything they could ever ask for.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

You Better Watch Out for "Krampus"


Director Michael Dougherty (“Trick 'r Treat”) gives moviegoers another dose of holiday cheer with “Krampus.” The delightfully twisted vision of the Christmas season is written by Dougherty, Todd Casey, and Zach Shields. The cast is made up of Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”), David Koechner (“Anchorman”), and Emjay Anthony as Max.

While the holiday season represents the most magical time of year, ancient European folklore warns of Krampus, a horned beast who punishes naughty children at Christmastime. When dysfunctional family squabbling causes young Max (Emjay Anthony) to lose his festive spirit, it unleashes the wrath of the fearsome demon. As Krampus lays siege to the Engel home, mom (Toni Collette), pop (Adam Scott), sister (Stefania LaVie Owen) and brother must band together to save one another from a monstrous fate.

I know what you were thinking when you saw the trailer for “Krampus” the first time. “This has to be a joke. They can’t be serious.” Well, Director / Co-Writer Michael Dougherty is very serious about the follow-up to his 2007 film “Trick 'r Treat.” Just like with that movie, he explores the ancient folklore and beliefs of a superstitious world most of us have forgotten about.

“Krampus” takes itself serious, but doesn’t forget to have fun along the way. Even though it provides laughs along with its jump scares and thrills, the movie never feels conflicted or uneven. Director Dougherty found the perfect recipe for what could have been a major misfire.

Cinematographer Jules O'Loughlin drops us right in the middle of a normal middle-American suburb and somehow leaves us feeling completely detached from the outside world. You truly believe you’re trapped in the midst of a blizzard with no connection to civilization. I was totally immersed in “Krampus” and all the many sets and locations it was shot in and on.

“Krampus” reminded me very much of classic 1980’s horror films whose main heroes and focuses were children. A few movies that come to mind are “The Gate,” “Gremlins,” “The Monster Squad,” and even “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.” They captured our imaginations and fueled our nightmares as we grew up. Even though we might have been scared at the time, they’re memories we cherish and continue to take with us into adulthood.

As a Christian, I probably don’t need to warn others who share my beliefs of what many might find offensive. “Krampus” is based on the mythical beast which many pagans feared in pre-Christian times. However, like many traditions, the creature has been utilized by Christians since then. As a fan of horror and supernatural folklore, I just enjoy a nice scary story.

I look at this in the same way I look at “A Christmas Carol.” “Krampus” is a cautionary tale using goblins and ghouls as tools to tell the story. The lessons to be learned here is rather straightforward. “Be careful what you wish for” and “Be good and not naughty.” You could also say it’s telling us all to appreciate and respect our families no matter how irritating or pleasant they may be.

“Krampus” is rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence / terror, language and some drug material. I would definitely not take a child under the age of 13 to see this, unless you want to lay awake with them until you take all the Christmas decorations down and board up your fireplace. The drug material the rating refers to is a scene where a candy cane bong is shown. No actual use of drugs is shown.

I’ve been a huge fan of Christmas horror films for many years now. I actually collect them and watch as many as I can every year. I own everything from “Silent Night, Deadly Night” to “Santa’s Slay” to “Black Christmas” and “Rare Exports.” “Krampus” is a welcome addition and a wonderful gift of fright for the season. The production values, CGI, special effects, and acting all come together to create a truly memorable experience I’ll be repeating on an annual basis.

You Better Watch Out for "Krampus"


Director Michael Dougherty (“Trick 'r Treat”) gives moviegoers another dose of holiday cheer with “Krampus.” The delightfully twisted vision of the Christmas season is written by Dougherty, Todd Casey, and Zach Shields. The cast is made up of Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”), David Koechner (“Anchorman”), and Emjay Anthony as Max.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Peek Behind the Curtain with Batman: Endgame Director's Cut #1


DC Comics awards its audience with a look behind the scenes at the creative process of a single issue of one of their most renowned monthly titles with Batman: Endgame Director's Cut #1. The entire 61-page book is mostly in black and white. We've seen this type of artistic breakdown before in the past, and the focus here is issue #40 which concluded the epic "Endgame" storyline.

The book is split into four different sections. First, we get Part 6 of Endgame devoid of coloring. Greg Capullo's illustrations are shown in their purest forms. You really get a good idea into who sets up the visual foundation for each and every issue.

Secondly, Scott Snyder's first draft of the script shows us what Capullo has to work with as he puts pencil in hand and lays it down on paper (or pad). The third part gives us a look at the cover pencils for several of Greg Capullo's covers.

The fourth portion presents the depth and layering Inker Andy Kubert brings to the forefront of many issues' variant covers. A majority of people don't take into consideration the importance of a great comic book cover. After all, it is the first thing we see on the shelf when walking into a shop or store.

The special issue is rated T for Teen. It contains violence and gore, although bloody images really don't have the same effect on readers when everything is in black and white. There's also some profanity and frightening and intense scenes to be found.

Batman: Endgame Director's Cut #1 is a testament to the talents of two of the comic book industry's most incredible creative forces. We get a peek behind the curtain at the techniques these individuals utilize to bring a single issue of the title to fruition. It's a look into the complex process we take for granted as critical consumers. We so easily dismiss the time and energy put into entertaining us every month. Hopefully, this tribute will help us put things in perspective from an artistic standpoint.

Batman: Endgame Director's Cut #1 is available now in print and Kindle editions.

Peek Behind the Curtain with Batman: Endgame Director's Cut #1


DC Comics awards its audience with a look behind the scenes at the creative process of a single issue of one of their most renowned monthly titles with Batman: Endgame Director's Cut #1. The entire 61-page book is mostly in black and white. We've seen this type of artistic breakdown before in the past, and the focus here is issue #40 which concluded the epic "Endgame" storyline.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Dynamic Duo Takes on More Adventures in "Batman '66 Vol. 4"


DC Comics takes us back in time with "Batman '66 Volume 4." The hardcover graphic novel collection includes issues #17 through 22 and Batman: The Lost Episode #1. A diverse group of writers and artists join forces to expand the world many of us visited week after week and afternoons as reruns.

In "Batman '66 Volume 4," the Dynamic Duo team up with Barbara Gordon to take on the worst enemies of Gotham City. They face off against The Bookworm, a deranged zombie creating Professor, The Queen of Diamonds, Lord Death Man and The Joker. They also face off against Two-Face for the first time ever!

An army of writers such as Jeff Parker, Mike W. Barr, and others provide readers with seven tales which take us back to a less grim time in the career of Batman. Just like the lighthearted series it's based on, it's more Caped Crusader and Dynamic Duo than Dark Knight. If you love the zany formula used in each episode of the show, then you'll fully appreciate the stories found in "Batman '66 Volume 4."

Several different artists including Joe Prado, David Bullock, Richard Case, and several others capture the fundamental elements found in each and every episode of Batman. Colorful villains and splashes of "Biff, "Bang," and "Pow" fill the action-packed panels of this fourth volume of the renowned monthly title. The imagery of the TV series is best suited for this medium because that's exactly what it really was. It was a comic book come to life onscreen.

The real treat within "Batman '66 Volume 4" is Len Wein's adaptation of Harlan Ellison's outline for a lost episode of the television series. The tale introduces Two-Face into the wacky world of "Batman '66." Artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez brings Ellison's vision to vivid life to give us all a look at what could've been onscreen.

"Batman '66 Volume 4" is rated E for Everyone. There's the usual comic violence and peril, but it's all in good fun. It's nice to see a book we all can all enjoy no matter what the age.

Bonus material for "Batman '66 Volume 4" features some extra goodies for comic book enthusiasts. Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's penciled pages are found in their entirety. There's also a "Two-Face Sketchbook" by Garcia-Lopez to gawk at. Harlan Ellison's unedited original manuscript for his Two-Face story is included accompanied by photos from the "Batman" TV series. Variant covers for different issues close out the book.

"Batman '66 Volume 4" captures all the colorful camp, humor, and comic book flare of the original television series. It really is the perfect vehicle for the legendary show to live on. What a perfect homage to everyone who was involved, some of which have passed away.

"Batman '66 Volume 4" is available now in print and Kindle editions.

Dynamic Duo Takes on More Adventures in "Batman '66 Vol. 4"


DC Comics takes us back in time with "Batman '66 Volume 4." The hardcover graphic novel collection includes issues #17 through 22 and Batman: The Lost Episode #1. A diverse group of writers and artists join forces to expand the world many of us visited week after week and afternoons as reruns.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Scream Factory Shows Us the "White of the Eye"


Cult classic “White of the Eye” is brought to Blu-ray by horror and slasher aficionados Scream Factory. The 1987 film was directed by Donald Cammell and written by himself and wife China. It is based on the book “Mrs. White” by Author Margaret Tracy. The running time is 111 minutes.

Joan White (Cathy Moriarty) is informed by the police that her husband, Paul (David Keith), a soundman who specializes in high-end audio systems, might be responsible for a series of gruesome murders in their Arizona community. As Paul's behavior turns violent, she begins to suspect her husband's guilt. In flashback, we see how Paul seduced Joan away from her then-boyfriend Mike (Alan Rosenberg), and the hunting trip Mike and Paul took that changed their relationship forever in “White of the Eye.”

Cinematographer Larry McConkey uses interesting camera angles and close-ups to capture the offbeat direction of Donald Cammell. Editor Terry Rawlings pieces it all together to give the film a specific rhythm and momentum that leaves the viewer on edge and anticipating abrupt changes from one scene's pacing to the next. It's not an easy watch as we're thrown into a downward spiral of dread and empathetic sorrow for the lead character.

Nick Mason and Rick Fenn’s haunting musical score seamlessly complements the actions of Cathy Moriarity and David Keith for “White of the Eye.” Moriarity is reserved up until the point of her emotional explosions when she just can’t take anymore. Both Alan Rosenberg and David Keith fill the screen with a dark and brooding tension that leaves audiences uncomfortable at times. The soundtrack guides us through all these diverse sensations.

The Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack for “White of the Eye” contains the usual great bonus material we expect from Scream Factory releases. The movie is given a new high-definition transfer from the original camera negative. Audio commentary is provided by Donald Cammell biographer Sam Umland. There are deleted scenes with commentary. Interviews with Steadicam Operator Larry McConkey and Actor Alan Rosenberg are included. An alternate credit sequence is found as well.

Director Donald Cammell's “White of the Eye” is rated R for violence and gore, adult situations and sensuality, profanity, alcohol / drugs / smoking, and frightening and intense scenes. Although there is quite a bit of sexuality to be found, there is no nudity. Much of the intensity is due to the excellent camerawork and editing for the film.

"White of the Eye" is an example of what happens when you allow an experimental independent filmmaker to helm what very well could've been another typical slasher flick. Throw in some sensuality ala "Basic Instinct" or "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and you have the makings of a rather unique viewing experience. It may not be the greatest movie you'll ever see, but it will definitely be one you won't forget.

"White of the Eye" Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack is available now right here.

Scream Factory Shows Us the "White of the Eye"


Cult classic “White of the Eye” is brought to Blu-ray by horror and slasher aficionados Scream Factory. The 1987 film was directed by Donald Cammell and written by himself and wife China. It is based on the book “Mrs. White” by Author Margaret Tracy. The running time is 111 minutes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Batman Returns Again in Dark Knight III: Master Race Book One


Dark Knight III: The Master Race Book One is finally here thanks to the good people at DC Comics. Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello bring us the continuation to one of the most influential graphic novels ever released. Andy Kubert provides the art with Klaus Janson doing the inking. The first issue is 32 pages with a 16-page mini-comic. It was released on November 25th, 2015.

Book One of Dark Knight III: The Master Race takes us into the future where Gotham City is still in the grips of crime and mayhem. The Batman has disappeared once again and many citizens are angry at his absence. When the Caped Crusader begins hitting the streets again, attacks on police officers make way for doubts as to what side of the law the vigilante is now on.

Writers Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello throw us right into the center of the action and excitement from the get-go. You tend to get the message of what to expect when the second page of the comic starts with a chase scene through the streets of Gotham City. They also take us into the worlds of Wonder Woman and Superman to let us in on what the two of them have been up to since we saw the characters last. You get a feeling we’ll be seeing quite a bit more of them and other extended family in the future.

Artist Andy Kubert dives right into the world of Frank Miller’s creation. His style remains his own, but blends well with an intentional nod to the handiwork of Miller. Alex Sinclair accentuates each panel with grim, yet vibrant colors which dazzle the eyes of the reader. Original colorist Lynn Varley should be proud of how well Sinclair picked up where she left off with “The Dark Knight Strikes Again.” Klaus Janson keeps his legacy alive with masterful inking that strengthens the illustrations Miller supplied.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race Book One didn’t have a rating posted on it, but I would consider it a T+ for Teen Plus. It contains violence, gore, and profanity. There is also one panel that shows Commissioner Yindel holding an open flask which obviously insinuates she drinks alcohol. The 16-page mini-comic features the adventures of the Atom within the Dark Knight Universe. Frank Miller illustrates a tale written by himself and Brian Azzarello. Klaus Janson inks the book. It’s a real treat to see Miller’s handiwork again within the pages of issue #1.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race Book One will convince the skeptics there is still a remarkable story to tell within the Universe that Frank Miller transported us to back in 1986. Many will find the first issue of this limited series a vast improvement over “The Dark Knight Strikes Again” already. It’s full of thrills and surprises which leave you craving more in the open-ended finale.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race Book One is available now in print and Kindle editions.

Batman Returns Again in Dark Knight III: Master Race Book One


Dark Knight III: The Master Race Book One is finally here thanks to the good people at DC Comics. Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello bring us the continuation to one of the most influential graphic novels ever released. Andy Kubert provides the art with Klaus Janson doing the inking. The first issue is 32 pages with a 16-page mini-comic. It was released on November 25th, 2015.

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Mockingjay, Part 2” Provides a Satisfying Conclusion


Suzanne Collins’ epic saga comes to a gratifying conclusion with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2.” Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson return to reclaim freedom for the future and take down Donald Sutherland’s President Snow once and for all. Director Francis Lawrence takes us back to the dystopic world of Panem in the final chapter of the science fiction adventure.

Realizing the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest friends, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) for the ultimate mission. Together, they leave District 13 to liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland), who's obsessed with destroying Katniss. What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions in “The Hunger Games: Mockingbird, Part 2.”

Jennifer Lawrence shines once again in the role of Katniss Everdeen. After what felt like an emotional disconnect in Part 1 of "Mockingjay," she seems to have found her footing again. Her performance, whether she’s angry or sad, comes across as genuine and this helps keep the viewer engaged in the cinematic experience.

Julianne Moore and Phillip Seymour Hoffman both bring their A games to the roles they’ve embraced. Moore’s ability to take on the persona of President Coin is evident in every scene she appears in. Hoffman’s reserved demeanor in the role of the self-absorbed Plutarch Heavensbee is worthy of note. I find myself feeling obligated to mention what a great actor we lost in Mr. Hoffman.

The special effects for "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2" are impressive. I don't recall being distracted by any shoddy green screen or weak CGI work. All the elements, both artificial and practical, come together to create a stunning product for everyone to enjoy.

I have a minor complaint to air about "Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2." The first movies were somewhat believable and didn't cross over into serious sci-fi. You could see what was happening onscreen being a possibility in the near future.

In the final installment “The Hunger Games” series, elements of what are referred to as creature features are noticed. I found myself comparing certain scenes and characters to "Resident Evil," "Alien," and even "Batman Beyond." When I questioned my son about these occurrences, he said they're explained better and appear more frequently in the books. For those who haven't read the novels, they appear to come out of nowhere and not really fit in with what audiences who haven’t read the books expect from these movies.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” is full of social and moral commentary. That’s what the entire franchise is built upon. We see the old saying “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” unfold before our eyes. The concept of “the end justifies the means” is explored as well. The lengths people will go to in order to get what they want is explored. We’re also reminded that if we don’t learn from our mistakes, history is prone to repeat itself.

The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material. There are some horror elements that pop up in the hero’s trek to the Capital. Children are also put in peril and killed in one instant.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2" is a satisfying conclusion to the series. You experience a sense of closure. There are surprises and we all get what we've been waiting for in the end. I found the tacked on "second" ending to be needless, but it doesn't ruin the experience. The first fadeout left me adequately satisfied.

"Mockingjay, Part 2” Provides a Satisfying Conclusion


Suzanne Collins’ epic saga comes to a gratifying conclusion with “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2.” Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson return to reclaim freedom for the future and take down Donald Sutherland’s President Snow once and for all. Director Francis Lawrence takes us back to the dystopic world of Panem in the final chapter of the science fiction adventure.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Gruesome Secret is Kept in Scream Factory's "Blood and Lace"


1971 forgotten cult classic “Blood and Lace” comes to Blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory. Originally titled “The Blood Secret,” what many would consider a precursor to the modern day slasher stars Vic Tayback (“Alice”), Len Lesser (“Seinfeld”), Gloria Grahame (“The Bad and the Beautiful”), and Melody Patterson (“The Cycle Savages”). All of these poor souls are caught up in a complex weaved tapestry of terror, lies, and murder orchestrated by Director Philip Gilbert and Writer Gil Lasky.

After her mother’s brutal murder at the hands of a hammer-wielding maniac, teenaged Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson) is suddenly orphaned in “Blood and Lace.” She is sent to a home for children run by the enigmatic Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame), in spite of the concern that Ellie will be the newest target of her mother’s killer. But as terror strikes again and again, it becomes unclear who might be the bigger threat to Ellie’s life: the mysterious murderer with a hammer… or her sadistic new caretaker.

Two of “Blood and Lace’s” many charms are its cinematography and sound effects. Director of Photography Paul Hipp utilizes a POV angle from the standpoint of a hand holding a hammer that is a unique view for audiences. Many cameramen and filmmakers adapted a similar style in dozens of slasher movies thereafter.

Sound is exploited to its fullest extent with loud shrills and bombastic musical crescendos that will pierce your eardrums and keep you on the edge of your seat. One scene shows a girl dying of thirst and someone torturing her by loudly gulping down a drink off-camera. Her swallowing sounds are magnified for the emotional impact.

One of the strangest moments for me was when I noticed that lead actor Melody Patterson appeared to be dubbed in the opening sequence of “Blood and Lace.” I kept thinking she reminded me of Sherman from the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” cartoons. In the very next part, the sound and tone of her voice changed significantly. As I did research for my review, I found out actor June Foray voiced Patterson’s character at the beginning. Foray was famous for voicing Rocky the Squirrel in “Rocky and His Friends” and many other legendary individuals, creatures, and animals in cartoon history.

“Blood and Lace” is rated R for some violence. It also contains gore, profanity, and adult situations. A couple killing scenes are rather gruesome, but they’re minimized through the use of noticeably fake blood.

The bonus material for Scream Factory’s “Blood and Lace” Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack isn’t quite as thrilling as other titles they’ve debuted in high-definition. Commentary is provided by film historian Richard Harlan Smith. An alternate opening and theatrical trailer are included as well.

“Blood and Lace” is a wickedly entertaining B-movie that will remind modern viewers of “Psycho,” “Flowers in the Attic,” “House on Sorority Row,” and “Annie” if they were all rolled into one gritty mystery thriller. Imagine if the orphans from “Annie” were all grown up, but still lived together and were terrorized by a Miss Hannigan who has become more and more emotionally unsteady and homicidal over the years. Accompanied by a masterfully dramatic musical score that feels pieced together from several of the Universal classic monster movies from the 1930s and 1940s, we get a sinister little whodunit that will leave you in suspense to the surprising end.

“Blood and Lace” is available now in a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack.