Archive for the ‘movies’ category

The Guilty Pleasures of “Puppet Master…”

July 21, 2021

Horror as a genre is not for everyone, and even those of us who enjoy it have our favorite sub-domains. One of my favorite niche franchises is that of Puppet Master, now having produced over a dozen films since the first one issued in 1989.

Now calling these inspired creations “puppets” is technically incorrect as they are actually marionettes, although of the autonomous Pinocchio type that function without strings, or even direct human guidance. Crafted by old world-type puppet master Andre Toulon, these puppets are infused with the souls of people who died fighting the Nazis, and have an axe to grind against them and other rotten individuals. Toulon had picked up the trick of animating the figures with transmigrated souls through Egyptian magic, and as we know the ancients were quite concerned with resurrecting things. A glowing green brew with which he infuses his creations keeps them perking. Each of the anthropomorphic Puppets has a distinct appearance, personality and skill set.

Consider Blade here. Skull-like but not quite a skull, he’s inhabited by the soul of a German scientist and doctor who wanted to work with Toulon, but was shot by the Nazis. Now he operates with a hook as one hand, and a blade for the other, and is arguably the leader of the Puppets. He has kind of a Goth appearance.

Then we have Six-Shooter, undeniably well-armed with three sets of them each brandishing a pistol. Cast in the mold of a dastardly western outlaw, he can use his arms to climb walls, like Dr. Octopus of Spiderman infamy, and has a memorable hee-hee-hee laugh. Other Puppets include Jester, Torch, Pinhead, Tunneler, and Leech Woman (don’t ask). These are just a few of the regulars, who at times serve for either good or evil as protagonists or antagonists. It can all get rather confusing, and their universe is far from seamless.

The series has prequels, sequels, and cross-overs which add to the general mayhem and confusion. While a horror series with considerable gore, there’s a bit of leavening humor throughout. One leaves each viewing wondering what exactly they have seen, but this strange brew of Egyptian magic I find oddly invigorating and certainly offbeat…

Space Jam: A New Legacy…

July 5, 2021

Perhaps the alarmed expressions on the faces of the Looney Tunes characters is a reaction to their new movie, Space Jam: A New Legacy, opening July 16th in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. A key question is whether the world really needed a sequel to 1996’s original Space Jam movie, and the consensus of opinion is not only no, but hell no!

Now the sequel a quarter century later involves basketball superstar LeBron James’ young son Dom being captured and held by a rogue A.I. in a digitized world from which he will be released only if LeBron can best the A.I.’s team in a game of basketball, with LeBron’s team consisting of the classic Warner Bros. Tune Squad characters.

They’re almost all there, with Pepe Le Pew having been deleted due to criticisms that he “normalized rape culture.” I kind of miss the lusty French skunk already, and hope that somehow the character will be reintroduced someday, although probably it will be in a contrite, sanitized form. Well, first they came for Mr. Potato Head and then Pepe Le Pew, and now it would appear that Lola Bunny has also been subjected to cultural revisionism as having been overly sexualized in the original Space Jam movie. – – Give me a break! I’m a furry but not of the ‘toon subdivision. Now Cheetah from Wonder Woman 1984 was a stunning anthropomorphic shifter, much more to my liking. But I digress…

Now the redrawn Lola Bunny (left) is rendered less curvy than her 1996 predecessor shown to the right. Lola is also rendered more fully clothed and styled less like a teenager than her previous incarnation. We wouldn’t want Bugs Bunny to be considered a pedophile, after all. A previous love interest for Bugs introduced in 1966 was Honey Bunny, although she was dropped as she overly resembled Bugs, and might have been him in drag. So now we have the revised Lola Bunny, looking less hawt than before…

..So Space Jam 2 is a mixed bag, with some things that are painful to see, like Porky Pig performing in a rap battle. But other things are a hoot, like Granny channeling Trinity and Speedy Gonzalez doing the honors as Neo in a take-off on the The Matrix. “Abuela, let’s do this!,” exults Speedy before effortlessly dodging bullets like a furry Flash.

Just don’t tell Yosemite Sam to “shoot the ball,” because that’s exactly what he does! And may Speedy have a long run!

“Godzilla vs. Kong” Arriving…

March 4, 2021


In these times of a deadly global pandemic and an insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, you probably figured that a Godzilla vs. Kong movie was inevitable.  We may even be jaded to it, kind of like “Yeah, it figures, whatever!”  But after years in the planning and multiple delays in 2020, Godzilla vs. Kong is at last set to open in late March.  

Described as a “massive monster brawl,” this latest installment in the MonsterVerse unites in mortal combat the iconic franchise figures of King Kong, who has appeared in a dozen films, and Godzilla, the veteran of three dozen flicks.  Both franchises began cinematic renewal and revitalization programs beginning in 2014, with Godzilla establishing himself as “King of the Titans,” and mankind in this universe being in fearful coexistence with them.  King Kong, for his part, has done well in his domain on Skull Island, and has demonstrated his ability to dominate in battle large reptilian creatures, including three T-Rexes at once.  This makes him a serious contender in any monster match, even if he is essentially a giant ape…

 

Now in the current crossover matchup, Godzilla has become seriously ticked off, and is rampaging around the planet, prompting mankind to recruit King Kong as a defensive agent.  Kong has the advantage of superior intelligence and agility, whereas Godzilla is elemental and practically indestructible, plus he has that radioactive breath thing going on.  You have to choose sides in this combat, and I confess to being a Godzilla loyalist.  He is just magnificent emerging from the sea, an unfathomable, breathtaking, and unstoppable force of nature!  Kong may be King, but Godzilla is…well, a god.  The Internet is having a field day over the upcoming battle royal, and we are at least promised by the producer that one of the combatants will win.  There’s nothing we monster movie fans hate more than ambiguous endings, which are all too common and very unsatisfying.  If I wanted a “write your own ending” conclusion, I wouldn’t be bankrolling someone else to write the script.

Regardless of who emerges victorious in the epic fray, we are promised more MonsterVerse films to come…and there is the revelation that some thing manifested as seismic activity within the hollow Earth may be instigating the fracas to begin with, like a cosmic conspiracy theorist. Perhaps there is a common, real enemy. All is probably not as it appears, with plenty of hooks to hang future movies on.  Producers do, after all, want your interest piqued, and your movie dollars supporting their efforts…Rawrr!  

 

 

Soon, “Cheetah” Will be Unleashed!

August 24, 2020

 

Well, we’re all agog here in our little furry corner of the web called Foxsylvania about the latest trailer revealing more about the appearance of Barbara Ann Minerva (aka “Cheetah”) in the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 film.  The Coronavirus screwed with the original intended release date as it did with many other good things, which has now been kicked back to October 2nd, 2020.  Good things can be worth waiting for, however, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be disappointed by the cinematic appearance of this bad girl furry, portrayed by Kristen Wiig.

While we previously just had fan art renditions, in the trailer we now have brief but actual footage of Cheetah in combat with Wonder Woman, and the battle looks incredibly kinetic and aerial, set in The White House!  We also know that Cheetah undergoes a progressive transformation into the character, eventually winding up with fur and a tail.- – I…am…so…ENVIOUS!  Progressive transformations are really the way to go, since an instantaneous one (I understand) tends to be both painful and unconvincing.

Barbara Ann Minerva isn’t just another pretty kitty…she has a doctoral degree in archaeology, and a complex love-hate relationship with Wonder Woman.  She can change her physiology at will, and as Cheetah isn’t even much bothered by the Amazon’s magic lasso.  The character has come a long ways from earlier representations as a woman in a a costume.  I do so like a character with bite, and you may want to make yourself a prrromise to see this one…




(- –Do we want to send in psychotherapists or animal control to deal with this one?) 

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Of Giant Monsters…

May 20, 2020


There’s a special place in my heart for 1950’s horror movies, especially those featuring giant monsters…and it’s hard to think of a better tag line for one than, “This was the day that engulfed the world in terror!”  More than 60 years after its 1957 debut, The Deadly Mantis continues to be entertaining as a high camp classic, more amusing now than horrifying.  The clumsy and dated not-so-special effects of the giant mantis flying are alone worth watching the film for.

In these times of invisible horrors like the coronavirus, it’s so nice to see our fears embodied as something gigantic and readily identifiable that we can shoot artillery at, and direct flame throwers towards; we know that we’re going to win against it at the end.  I doubt, however, that bleach and bright lights would be effective against this thing.  Perhaps we can get a large number of regular praying mantids together, and make one really big one like this that we could threaten murder hornets with.  A Universal Picture creation, one yearns to see the Deadly Mantis locked in mortal combat with some creature from the Toho Studios world…Mothra vs. Mantis has a nice ring to it.  Now that’s entertainment…I’d go bugs over that one!

 

https://youtu.be/G8R9OoQh4q0

 

 

“Cheetah” in “Wonder Woman 1984”

February 14, 2020



I’m really not a big Wonder Woman fan, but have been known to dip into it for the occasional but thrilling glimpses of Cheetah, who together with Catwoman can really pique my interest.  This is not to deny or dismiss the many dazzling vixens that are out there, although cat-women are far more common in film.

It would appear that Cheetah is going to be done right in the Wonder Woman 1984 film, unlike the much-touted felines of Cats, which disappointed and creeped-out many briefly before disappearing into commercial oblivion.  Cheetah (Barbara Ann Minerva) will be played by Kristen Wiig, and the image of her above to the left is fan art rather than an actual image of the CGI creation in the upcoming film.  It’s unclear at this point as to how fully transformed we’ll get to see the formidable Wonder Woman villainess, but hopes are high that the rather sedate, plain-dressing Barbara Minerva will during the course of the film become a were-cheetah, complete with fur and predatory skills.  I’ll certainly be pulling for her in what could be legendary battles with the Amazon…

Wonder Woman 1984 reportedly has an ’80’s vibe, and also pays tribute to the comic book traditions of the series.  While the exact physical depiction and portrayal of the character is being kept under wraps, the film won’t hit theaters until June, at which point the cat will be out of the bag…

 

 

The Guilty Pleasures of “BattleBots”

June 21, 2019

  

Robotic fighters have long been a recurring theme in science fiction, and an object of fascination to males like myself who refused to grow up.  From the Richard Matheson story to its adaptation in the Twilight Zone episode “Steel,” inspiration was drawn for the Hugh Jackman movie, “Real Steel.”  As an enabling step towards realization of those fantasies, we also have airing on The Discovery Channel the BattleBots series, a place where the pugilistic arts meet high technology in an arena of mechanical mayhem.

Now the tone of these different sagas varies greatly, with Steel as shown on The Twilight Zone dark and dystopian, and set in the then-distant future world of…(gasp)…1974!  Good ole Battling Maxo could no longer hold his own against the more advanced models then.  Far more family-friendly was Real Steel, a movie more centered upon the relationship of a father and son than upon the robots themselves.  The weekly BattleBots series is a strange spectacle featuring teams of bright people from around the world who at times don costumes and whoop and yell as they yet intently field weaponized remotely-controlled devices against one another in a containing area.  Their creations, often resembling lawn mowers from hell, inflict damage upon their opponents until an adversary is unable to operate, or time for a match runs out.  Although not choreographed, matches borrow from “over-the-top” traditions of professional wrestling, complete with a ring announcer, commentators, and a whipped-up audience waving signs…

…Now, it might be interesting to see some cross-over action on BattleBots, such as seeing those ‘bots versus a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica, or perhaps a Dalek from Dr. Who.- – That ought to drive up the old ratings!

 

Jonesy’s Tale…

October 24, 2018



In the original 1979 classic science fiction movie Alien, officer Ellen Ripley and the ship’s cat, Jonesy, are the soul survivors of the cargo ship Nostromo when it comes under attack by a vicious predatory life form genetically engineered by another race. Jones the cat is left safely behind in the movie sequel Aliens when his mistress goes off to fight xenomorph hordes with space marines, presumably living out a more mundane existence.  

Ellen Ripley’s strong and resourceful character appears in two sequels to the original movie, with her clone appearing in yet another.  Now the enduring cat gets to tell his own story from the feline perspective in an 80-page illustrated book, Jonesy:  Nine Lives on the Nostromo.  More a graphic novel than a children’s book, the beloved fan-favorite cat in Rory Lucey’s book does not actively work with Ripley to defeat the alien but remains true to his species, displaying normal and at times disconcertingly humorous feline behavior throughout.  

In the movie, Jonesy at times perceives danger before his human shipmates do, a key to his survival in the face of an alpha predator.  In one brief although memorable scene, the crated cat and the alien simply regard one another through the carrier screen, each perhaps possessed of a mutual curiosity about the other before Ripley and the creature resume their fight to the death.  Ripley’s formidable protectiveness extends to the cat in the same way that it would later extend to the child Newt in the movie sequel.

Published earlier this year by Titan Books, Jonesy is a purr-fect find for fans of the series, and cat lovers in general…

 

 

Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…

May 21, 2018


I recently revisited Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth, which I first saw as a kid and which hooked me on science fiction for life.  The 1957 black and white film featured Harryhausen’s stop-action creature features, and was filmed in Italy because that was where Harryhausen wanted to vacation.  He wanted the film to be in color, but they didn’t have the budget to do so at the time although a later colorized version was made. The name of the snake-tailed Ymir creature from Venus was not mentioned in the film because they were afraid people would confuse the name with “Emir.”

The film included many memorable scenes such as a fight to the death between the Ymir and an elephant, which traumatized the young me as the elephant lost.  Then there was the grand finale scene which featured a show-down with the creature in the Roman Coliseum; what could be better staging?!

Equally epic was Harryhausen’s stop-action filmed fight with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.  That one creeped me out as a kid for some time…

 

 

Rampage:  Megafauna Rampant…

April 11, 2018

I’m glad that my cousin, Ralph, finally made it to the big screen!  He always had dreams of going to Hollywood, and deserved it after all those years of parking cars, pumping gas, and hanging out at furry and video game conventions.  It was annoying to him that people would pull at his costume only to discover that it wasn’t one. – – Ahh, his mother would have been so proud of him!  On the other hand, I wasn’t granted Ralph’s athleticism, being only a bookish writer…fortune, thou art a cruel mistress!

I suppose it was inevitable that they’d make a movie loosely based on the vintage video game, Rampage, and starring Dwayne Johnson.  After all, Doom turned out so well!  In the long-ago, I can remember playing the video game, and never doing terribly well…such is the the story of my life!  Anyways, in his latest action film outing, the Rock plays primatologist Davis Okoye who is attempting to intervene on behalf of his albino silverback gorilla, George, the object of a rogue genetic experiment gone awry. – –Tell me about it!  George, Ralph, and other mutant animals grown to enormous size are, well, rampaging through North America, and causing big trouble and general mayhem.  It’s up to Dwayne Johnson and others to find an antidote…

This sci fi/fantasy offering sounds like good brainless fun, and is opening April 13th at a theater near you!  A CGI-heavy movie, it also features Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead, minus his Negan bat, Lucille.  I expect that Ralphie will give a memorable performance, and even if he doesn’t, I’m still proud of the big lug… 😉


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