Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guess What's Coming?

Oh the Horror!: The Asphyx (1972)

 I originally wrote this review for ThEpic Review on March 3, 2014.

   When you watch a film dealing with immortality, a good number of questions usually arise. What would you use it for? How would your body handle the aging process? What about severe trauma and injury? If you were immortal and fell into a wood chipper, for instance, what would happen? Would you just be a miserable pile of specks for the rest of your days? Would your consciousness rest in one speck or as a collective in multiple specks of your severed brain matter? I'm not really sure that the 1972 British horror film The Asphyx really answers any of these questions, but it does kind of ask them. Well, maybe not the questions regarding the wood chipper. In The Asphyx, director Peter Newbrook presents a Victorian tale that examines the importance of certain significant factors in our lives: family, science, humanitarianism, and Greek death spirits. If I had to compare The Asphyx to some other films, I'd say it's kind of a cross between The Man They Could Not Hang mixed with Ghostbusters, if that particular amalgam were written by Charles Dickens. Curious now? Then read on and learn about The Asphyx; a film that strove for greatness and missed it, but still managed to be pretty good.....

Action Figure Review: Yoda Vs. Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars Hero Mashers by Hasbro

 Today I'm looking at the third and final two-pack of the first series of Star Wars Hero Mashers: Yoda Vs. Emperor Palpatine! Based on their duel from the end of Revenge of the Sith this set includes a number of Force effect hands which can be swapped out in place of the more basic hands. I'm all about the idea of including Force effect hands, but a problem I have with this set is that all of the Force effects are permanently attached to the hands rather than using the peg and port system that's already in place. That's a complaint I have with a couple of sets in this line but it seems more pronounced here. Still, Yoda and Palpatine are significant characters and everyone will surely want to add these warriors to their collections, right? Well, read on and learn why wars not make one great after the break...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Barracuda (1978)

I originally wrote this review on September 5, 2013 for ThEpic Review.   

  In the wake of 1975's Jaws, many filmmakers stepped in to take advantage of audiences craving more underwater horror from aquatic creatures desperately craving human flesh.  Most of those films were quite forgettable and thus doomed to obscurity, just like today's movie review: Barracuda.  Released in 1978, Barracuda was the final film of director Harry Kerwin, whom I had never heard of but directed films with intriguing titles such as How I Became a Nudist and My Third Wife George.  It seems like, for Mr. Kerwin, a film about killer barracudas was probably a rather tame undertaking.  Yes, if you couldn't guess, Barracuda is a film about a school of killer barracuda terrorizing the residents of a small town situated along the coast.  But it's so much more, as well!  I was expecting a fairly cheesy creature film, but Barracuda actually delivers some decent surprises despite its low budget appearance.  Honestly, this episode could have easily been an episode of the X-Files as it weaves its way from simple creature attacks to a government conspiracy.  Ready for a B-movie with bite?  Then read about Barracuda after the break.....

Action Figure Review: Sith Speeder & Darth Maul from Star Wars Hero Mashers by Hasbro

   When it comes down to it, is there any character more visually appealing in the Star Wars universe than Darth Maul? Maybe, but it's tough to think of one off hand. When this guy showed up prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, our collective minds were blown! I wanted Darth Maul everything back then, and so did everyone else on planet earth. While Kylo Ren is getting his turn in the spotlight, I don't think the anticipation and marketing surrounding him even begins to compare to that which surrounded Darth Maul. While Darth Maul initially seemed like he was squandered by being killed at the end of TPM, While his legacy grew in the Expanded Universe novels, The Clone Wars brought him back and really added some depth to the character. It's cool to know that after the events of Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, he's still running around out there. Maybe an appearance in Rebels is in order at some point? Anyways, this was almost the first new product I purchased from the Force Friday event. A week and one day before Force Friday I was at a K-mart with my little one when we found this figure on the shelf. We attempted to purchase him but were told he was street dated. I really wanted him to be my first Force Friday purchase as Darth Maul on his Sith Speeder was my first Episode 1 purchase 16 years ago. He was still part of my Force Friday haul and from my first stop, Toys 'R Us, so I guess history repeated itself. Ready for a look at Darth Maul? Then join me after the break...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Oh the Horror!: City of the Living Dead/ The Gates of Hell (1980)

I originally wrote this review on April 23rd, 2014 for ThEpic Review.

To expand his ever growing body of knowledge, Barbecue17 enrolled in a film appreciation class at his local college.

Movie Thoughts by Barbecue17
The movie I watched: City of the Living Dead (AKA The Gates of Hell)
It was directed by: Lucio Fulci
It was released in: 1980

Please briefly summarize the plot: When a priest named Father Thomas commits suicide in a cemetery in the town of Dunwich, he sets off a series of events that include the dead returning to life, a psychic falling into a comatose state, and a portal to Hell opening up. While an investigative journalist and a psychic try to find the mysterious town of Dunwich, the residents of the cursed town try to survive the strange happenings. As people continue  to die under odd circumstances, the town itself slowly transforms into something out of a nightmare.

Action Figure Review: Luke Skywalker Vs. Darth Vader from Star Wars: Mashers by Hasbro

  In my review for Boba Fett and Han Solo, I stated that there probably wasn't a better Star Wars combination for a two-pack. Thinking about it, I'm willing to admit that I'm wrong: Darth Vader Vs. Luke Skywalker is definitely the ultimate 2-pack so far as Star Wars figures go. This two-pack from the Star Wars Mashers line features Luke and Vader during their duel on Cloud City which is easily my favorite lightsaber duel from the Original Trilogy. Luke's Bespin outfit is also my favorite outfit he wears in the Original Trilogy (followed closely by his yellow jacket and brown pants from the ceremony at the end of ANH) so I'm glad to see it already featured in this line. This is another installment of my Force Friday hall from Toys 'R Us. Ready for a closer look? Then join me after the break...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Barbecue's Bonfire: 9/26/2015

It's almost October! I'm so excited! Halloween is right around the corner and in just a few short days I'll be beginning 31 Days of Toy Terror! This is my 3rd year of this (two years over the ThEpic Review) and I truly think this is the best year of horror toy reviews! So much variety! Check out more cool stuff including my visit to the Mothman Festival, my thoughts on female action figures, Star Wars: Lost Stars, and some cool, spooky podcasts I've been into lately, all after the break...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)

   This review was originally written for ThEpic Review on 8/21/2013.

  Last year (actually, 2012-Editor) during my annual Halloween horror movie marathon (which typically starts in mid-August) I set out to watch all of the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I had seen the original and the remake with Jackie Earl Haley (which I liked- sue me) but had never seen any of the sequels.  I only made it through the first five last year so I just recently decided to start checking out the others. Last night I watched Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (A.K.A. A Nightmare on Elm Street 6), both because I wanted to see how the main series ended and because I wanted to see the context of this crazy NECA version of Freddy Krueger with the Powerglove.  So, I know you're just dying to know my opinions on this 22 year old film, right?  Let me just start by saying that this was enjoyable film, but just not a very good one.  There's always a macabre fun when Freddy Krueger's involved (much like the Cryptkeeper) and I love the special effects of the period, but the story is kind of crazy and doesn't seem to make too much sense.  Anyways, here's a review of Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.

Action Figure Review: Jedi Speeder & Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars: Hero Mashers by Hasbro

    Today I'm looking at another set from the Star Wars Hero Mashers line: The Jedi Speeder & Anakin Skywalker two-pack. While this is without a doubt Anakin Skywalker from Episode II, this is not a Jedi speeder. It's a simple old swoop bike. More accurately, it's a Zephyr-G swoop bike and it belongs to Owen Lars. Yeah, this is the swoop bike that Anakin borrowed when he went to resuce his mother on Tatooine and slaughter Tusken Raiders. While many of you have probably tried to repress your memories of Hayden Christensen's performance in Episode II, this figure does capture one of the better scenes he had in that movie. Ready for a closer look at Anakin and his swoop bike? Then join me after the break!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Evil Dead (2013)

I originally wrote this review for ThEpic Review on 4/8/2013.

     All right you primitive screw-heads, listen up!  I've been a hardcore Evil Dead fan since discovering Army of Darkness in a box of yard sale VHS tapes at my grandma's house in 8th grade, so I might represent the toughest audience director Fede Alvarez and producers Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Robert G. Tapert had to impress with this new film.  While the original The Evil Dead was a very grueling and gruesome horror film, it also somehow managed to implement some bizarre comedic elements to the film that give it a very different quality from your average horror film.  I'm happy to say that while the new Evil Dead manages to be an extremely gruesome horror film, it also still manages some of these unique touches that make it stand out from your average slasher film and give it that unique Evil Dead feeling.  By the way, note that the new film is called "Evil Dead" (no "the") and the original is "The Evil Dead."  Read on if you want some more!  Do ya???  

Action Figure Review: Han Solo Vs. Boba Fett from Star Wars: Hero Mashers by Hasbro

 Is there any greater pairing of action figures in the Star Wars galaxy than Boba Fett and Han Solo? For a year or so I've been tempted by Hasbro's Marvel Mashers but it was Star Wars that finally got me to jump in and pick up some of these figures. While I was anxious to grab a few of the Black Series figures on Force Friday, I really wasn't terribly interested in much else. The traditional 1/18th scale figures just aren't doing it for me and the Micro Machines just don't seem to have the quality behind them that I had hoped for. The Hero Mashers, though, won me over. Not only do they have a fun, Sigma 6 like vibe, but they have characters from a variety of film (and cartoons) and they're big enough and durable enough that I can play with them with my little one. The Hero Mashers currently come in a four different varieties: Single packs, deluxe figures, double packs, and small vehicles with a pilot (5 packs and larger vehicles are coming). Han and Boba Fett here are one of the initial three 2-packs and features Boba Fett and Han Solo in there The Empire Strikes Back outfits. Ready for a look at everyone's favorite bounty hunter and scoundrel? Then join me after the break...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

This review was originally written in February 2013 at ThEpic Review.

     I finally had a chance to catch "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" this weekend.  After hearing some not so good things about this action/horror/fantasy/comedy, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie.  It was a fun, fast paced genre film that seems quite underrated.  More after the break....

Action Figure Review: Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Black Series: Phase III from Hasbro

   I've documented my Force Friday experience on the last episode of The Collection Agency podcast but I'm just now getting around to showing off my Force Friday haul (I've been really busy getting stuff ready for 31 Days of Toy Terror Returns beginning October 1st!). The first figure I snagged from the Toys 'R Us where I spent my Force Friday countdown was Kylo Ren. I imagine that this was the first figure everyone wanted as Kylo Ren just hits all of the design points that Star Wars fans love in their bad guys. Ever since seeing Kylo Ren ignite his fiery red lightsaber with a cross-guard last November when the first The Force Awakens trailer was released, nearly everyone has been enamored by this mysterious member of the Knights of Ren. While I won't spend much time with rumors and theories here, I am just itching to review this figure from Hasbro's newest incarnation of Star Wars: The Black Series (while the packaging is red and black, it doesn't explicitly say The Force Awakens on it; perhaps they'll use the same packaging for the next year or so for figures from all over the Star Wars universe. Ready for a closer look at Kylo Ren? Then join me after the break...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

   I originally wrote this review in September 2013 for ThEpic Review.

  While I really wanted to see Insidious: Chapter 2 on it's release date of Friday the 13th of September, I ended up waiting until this weekend. I did, however, get a chance to re-watch the first Insidious last week, something which I think really adds to the experience, because Insidious doesn't feel like a tacked on horror sequel; it really and truly feels like the second half of a complete film. I'm trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, so I'm going to be a bit vague at times while assuming that you've seen the first film, because you really need to in order to make sense of Chapter 2. The movie relies heavily on the original film and takes place before, after, and sometimes even during the original film's timeline. It's certainly not the scariest film of the year (thus far I believe that would be another film by director James Wan and starring Patrick Wilson: The Conjuring), but it is clever, inventive, and fun. Insidious definitely felt as much like a dark fantasy film as a horror film, as the movie has it's own rules, alternate worlds, and mythology. Chapter 2 continues that trend while not feeling like it's retreading the same ground.

Action Figure Review: Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid ReAction by Funko

  Seriously, who doesn't love the late, great Pat Morita? Full disclosure: I'm not sure I've ever even seen The Karate Kid (any of them). I actually know Pat Morita best from his role as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi on the earlier episodes of Happy Days and Grandpa Woo on The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (I pretty much lived on Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite from 3rd or 4th grade well into high school). Still, even without having seen The Karate Kid, I absolutely know who Mr. Miyagi is. He's such an iconic character that I decided I really wanted to add him to my ReAction collection. While on vacation I went to a flea market where a collectibles vendor was selling ReAction figures for $8 each with a buy one/ get one 1/2 off sale. I ended up paying only $6 for Mr. Miyagi and one other figure that I'll be reviewing a bit closer to Halloween. Ready for a closer look at Mr. Miaygi? Then join me after the break...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Prince of Darkness (1987)

I originally wrote this review in October 2013 for ThEpic Review.  

  John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness is definitely one of the director's least well known films. While many of Carpenter's films failed to perform well when released, most of them (such as The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China) have developed cult followings and even been reevaluated over time. Prince of Darkness certainly doesn't have the cult following of those films, but it still manages to be a fairly creepy horror film that combines an exorcism/possession film with a zombie movie and a techno-babble laced thriller. When a Cardinal dies and leaves behind a box containing a key to a mysterious door in an abandoned church in downtown Los Angeles, a priest (Donald Pleasance) finds that an ancient religious order has been guarding a giant vat of swirling green liquid that may contain the physical elements of the Anti-Christ in the basement. It's also the second film in Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy" along with The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness. Sound intriguing and slightly insane? Well, it's both, but we'll get to that after the break.

A New Batgirl Review: Batgirl- White Knight from DC Superhero Chess Figure Collection by Eaglemoss Publications

 Fancy a game of chess? A few weeks ago I was on vacation around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN and I had the chance to stop in at a comic shop I always enjoy visiting: S&G Comics & Collectibles in Sevierville, TN. They're a nice local comic shop and I stopped by there for a while out geocaching with my family. They seemed to be having a sale on the DC Superhero Eaglemoss Publications chess pieces and I managed to pick up this Batgirl for $13. I've known about her existence but never happened to run into her before. If you're unfamiliar with them, Eaglemoss Publications puts out sets of chess pieces where a new piece in the set comes out every few weeks. So far as I'm aware they've released three sets based on DC comics: A Batman set, a Justice League set, and a Forever Evil based set. Interestingly, they manage to out out a wider range of characters than DC Collectibles does in their action figure line (seriously, the chess pieces have Montoya as The Question, Black Bat, Batwing, and Ventriloquist). Today I'm taking a closer look at my Batgirl chess piece, who happens to be one of two white knight playing pieces in the overall Batman set. Ready for a closer look? Then join me after the break...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Barbecue's Bonfire: 9/19/2015

This has been a slower week for me, at least so far as nerdy stuff goes. I'm doing some traveling this weekend and will hopefully have more tales to tell this week. In the meantime I'm talking about Star Wars, Mad Monster Party, the new Marvel Legends waves, King Hsss' torso, and more! Oh, and I got a new Halloween mask. Do you like it? More fun after the break...

Friday, September 18, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Poltergeist 2: The Other Side (1986)

     The original Poltergeist is one of the best haunted house movies of all time.  Period.  Directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Funhouse) and co-written (and arguably co-directed) by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist presents a slice of a suburban family's interactions with the supernatural that initially captures the wonderment and awe that you'd expect from a Spielberg film, but soon turns into the all out terror fest you'd hope for from Hooper.  It's a creepy movie that, over time, has built up an even creepier legacy due to what is often referred to as the "Poltergeist Curse," both due to the deaths of multiple cast members during the filming of the series and the fact that the original film used real skeletons during the climactic swimming pool scene.  Poltergeist 2: The Other Side begins strong, following up where the original film left off, and maintains it's ghostly momentum throughout the first half.  Director Brian Gibson just can't keep the film as tight, well-paced, and terrifying as Hooper was able to, however, and it shows as the film begins to steadily unravel about halfway through.  More thoughts (and some spoilers) after the break....

Action Figure Review: Mad Mike from Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis by Funko

  Today I'm looking at Mad Mike from Funko's first series of Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis. So, who exactly is Mad Mike a parody of? If you look at the original card you'll definitely see some influence from Conan the Barbarian, which of course is retained here. There's also some standard jungle/barbarian warrior imagery here such as the double bladed axe, the headband, and the leopard print clothes. And the name? Very possibly a reference to the film Mad Max. Let's take a closer look and see what other warrior ways we can discover, after the break...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Oh the Horror!: The Visit (2015)

To expand his ever growing body of knowledge, Barbecue17 enrolled in a film appreciation class at his local college. He is posting copies of his class assignments pass the knowledge on to you.

Movie Thoughts by Barbecue17
The movie I watched: 
The Visit
It was directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
It was released in: 2015

Please briefly summarize the plot:
Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) are dedicated to creating a documentary of their first ever meeting with their grandparents. After a fight 15 years prior, the children's mother has never allowed her parents to be a part of their lives. While Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop-pop (Peter McRobbie) initially seem like charming, ideal grandparents, as night falls their behavior changes. Pop-pop spends all day chopping wood, believes he's being followed, and locks away mysterious bags in a storage shed. Nana roams the house at night scratching at doors. Is this typical old-age behavior or is something more sinister at work?

Action Figure Review: Kellan Colt from Shadowrun Duels by WizKids

 Today I'm looking at another figure from WizKids' Shadowrun Duels line: Kellan Colt! Originally a ToyFare magazine exclusive offered in March 2003, 1 and 2, Kellan Colt reuses most of the body from series 1's Kyushi and the accessories from a few different figures to make a cool new female mage. Last month when I reviewed the Street Deacon I talked a little bit about the history of the line. Attempting to marry together traditional action figures with a rules based game has been around since at least Battle Beasts and Monster in My Pocket, but Shadowrun Duels took it to the next level as each figure came with a rulebook easily as complex as anything you might find in the average game at your local gameshop. Today, before looking at the figure itself, I want to share a few thoughts as to why I think this concept just didn't succeed:

1. Distribution: Back in 2003 buying action figures off of the internet was more of a rarity. There were definitely not the number of e-tailers, online auctions, or Amazon sales that there are today. If you wanted these you had to know about them or buy them in person. Too bad they seemed to have some fairly limited distribution. They tended to mostly appear at specialty retailers like game shops, which leads me to my second point...

2. Confusion: Walking a fine line between game pieces and action figures seemed to prove unappealing to both sides. Serious gamers saw toys while action figure collectors saw unknown characters. The price was also a bit higher than the average figure. If I recall correctly, and that hurt the impulse buy of getting folks into a new line.

3. Not User Friendly: As game pieces, these are clumsy and awkward. They require a lot of space to play and can be somewhat fragile; both not qualities that tabletop gamers typically look for.

   Sadly, these three issues kept these amazing action figures from getting into the hands of collectors. While not every figure features excellent articulation, they all features amazing sculpts and accessories courtesy of Plan B toys who handled the creation of these figures. Ready to check out today's figure? Then join me after the break...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Oculus (2013)

I originally wrote this review in April 2014 for ThEpic Review.

  I had really high hopes for Oculus. It seems to have had so much going for it: Great early buzz, a creepy, cursed antique, and Karen Gillan. What's not to like? Oculus is an interesting film as while it initially seems to be more of a ghost story, it actually feels like more of a psychological thriller. Directed by Mike Flanagan and based off of his short film Oculus: Chapter 3-The Man with the Plan, the film revolves around an 18th century mirror called the Lasser Glass that has a long history of tragedy attached to it. Like baby dolls and jack in the boxes, mirrors are just another of those fairly mundane objects that somehow end up being exceedingly creepy when put into a horror context. Is Oculus worth a look or is this one looking glass you should just pass right by? Read on and fight out after the break...   

Action Figure Review: Mara of Primus from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

Today I'm checking out the August 2015 Club Eternia action figure from Masters of the Universe Classics: Mara of Primus! Mara is the first Galactic Guardian in MOTUC since last year's Galactic Protector She-Ra and nicely adds another hero to that faction's roster. While Mara was a prominent character in The New Adventures of He-Man she didn't actually get a figure in the vintage toyline. There was a prototype created but she was never released. That's finally changing, however, as Mara enters the MOTUC collection. Ready for a closer look at Mara? Then join me after the break...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oh the Horror!: The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

 I originally wrote this review for ThEpic Review in February of 2016.

  Last weekend I was pretty sick. Turns out I probably had the flu. I was feeling awful; chills, sore throat, and a fever of 102 degrees. In the midst of all of this I knew that I just wanted to lay back and watch a crazy horror movie on Netflix, so I flipped through until I stumbled upon this little gem: The Lair of the White Worm. The Lair of the White Worm is a 1988 British horror film directed by Ken Russell (Tommy, Altered States) loosely adapted from Bram Stoker's 1911 novel that revolves around an archaeologist excavating the site of an old convent that seems to have been built atop of a temple dedicated to the worship of some ancient snake deity. Set in the quiet countryside of Derbyshire, England, the film tells a tale of ancient pagan cult thought long dead returning to cause havoc in the lives of the locals. Filled with trippy visions, creepy old caverns, and seductive snake women,  The Lair of the White Worm is both crazy and clever enough to remind me of some of the wildest Doctor Who episodes. It also stars Peter Capaldi, the current 12th Doctor, and Hugh Grant, who played the Doctor briefly in the Red Nose Day parody special Doctor Who and the Curse of the Fatal Death. With its tale of a long dormant ancient pagan cult terrorizing a sleepy British town, the movie does feel like an amalgam of Doctor Who, The Wicker Man, and an H.P. Lovecraft tale. If you're looking for your daily dose of bizarre hallucinations, naked blue snake women, and Hugh Grant, The Lair of the White Worm might just suit you. More after the break...

Action Figure Review: Heads of Eternia from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

  Despite what the title sounds like, this is not a multi-pack of action figures based on the various rulers of Eternia. It's literally a pack of six alternate heads that can be used on past Masters of the Universe figures. The Heads of Eternia accessory pack is actually the subscription exclusive item for the Club 200x sub and was just sent to subscribers in August of 2015. It includes alternate heads inspired by the 200x toyline and NECA Stactions for Roboto (October 2010), Grizzlor (October 2010), Buzz-Off (December 2010), Sy-Klone (April 2011), Clawful (July 2011), and Snout Spout (November 2011). Getting this item is actually a big deal. I'm not going to get into a long narrative, but here are the basic facts:

*Early in the MOTUC line a few figures came with alternate heads based on their 200x inspired looks.

*At some point after Whiplash, we were told that Mattel management would no longer allow these as they viewed the 200x line as a failure.

*Fans championed for a pack of alternate heads but were told it was too morbid.

*Recently we've been seeing more figures based on the 200x series and were finally shown the Heads of Eternia pack at New York Toy Fair 2015.

*Former brand manager Scott "Toyguru" Neitlich opened a thread on where he explained that various teams at Mattel over the years weren't in favor of 200x elements.

So, here's a pack we never thought we'd get that we now have. Want to see what these heads look like? Then join me after the break...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Oh the Horror!: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

   This review was originally written in October 2013 for ThEpic Review.

  Sam Neil has been in a great number of movies (including the upcoming Escape Plan) but I will forever be unable to watch any of his roles and not think of him as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park. His portrayal of that character is just such a huge part of my childhood that anytime I watch a movie starring Sam Neil, I feel as if I'm watching something that takes place either before or after Grant's visit to Isla Nublar. Personally, I would have loved to see Neil play James Bond (he was in the running for the role as a successor to Roger Moore) but obviously that train has now sailed. On that note, let's talk about something relevant to In the Mouth of Madness, such as the movie itself.  Written by Michael De Luca and directed by John Carpenter, In the Mouth of Madness is an incredibly unsettling 1995 horror film that strongly utilizes the mystique and ideas of the works of horror scribe H.P. Lovecraft to tell the tale of an author who literally drives his readers mad. While many fictional works reference the writings of Lovecraft through various name drops, few of them actually feel as if they're doing so on any more than a surface level. In the Mouth of Madness does a fantastic job of drawing inspiration from Lovecraft's work in a way that strives to channel the true depth of the author's mad genius, resulting in a film with a proliferance of disturbing images and even more disturbing musings on topics such as sanity and the nature of reality. Ready for a leap into madness? Then join me after the break....

Action Figure Review: Evil Seed from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

 Originally a one off Filmation villian, Evil Seed made a huge comeback as a menacing character in the 200x Mike Young Productions Masters of the Universe series. Evil Seed has long been one of the most requested characters for Masters of the Universe Classics and it's great to finally have him. When the Club 200x sub was revealed at New York Toy Fair earlier this year, Evil Seed was one of the first guys revealed. Heck, he's so popular that the Filmation Evil Seed has already been revealed for the upcoming He-Man and the Masters of the Universe line based more explicitly on the Filmation animated series. Evil Seed is the second figure in the Club 200x sub and was released in August of 2015. Ready for a look at this awesome plant based predator? Then join me after the break...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Barbecue's Bonfire: 9/12/15

Hey everyone!

It's time for another weekly installment of Barbecue's Bonfire, my weekly catch-all thread for everything I want to chat about. This week: Star Wars Hero Mashers, Funko Vinyl MLP variants, Kool-Aid Ghoul-Aid, the Collection Agency Force Friday special podcast, the absence of Han, Luke, and Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise, Batgirl masks, and October Toys' Grimskull from Skeleton Warriors. More thoughts after the break...

Also! I'm on Facebook now! Check me out and like my page, please!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Insidious (2010)

I originally wrote this review in August of 2013 for ThEpic Review.

     Insidious was a movie I had wanted to see, but somehow it just passed me by.  When I was intrigued by the trailer for the upcoming Insidious: Chapter 2, Brad told me that I had to absolutely watch the original.  I'd heard great reviews of the movie from a number of folks with quite a few people telling me they thought it was one of the scariest movies they had ever seen. After seeing (and loving) director James Wan's The Conjuring, I knew I had to track this film down.  I guess I am a fan of James Wan's directorial horror efforts, as I enjoyed the original Saw, the somewhat silly but fun Dead Silence, and of course The Conjuring.  So, what did I think of Insidious?  I'll get into a slightly more spoilerish review after the break, but I will say that I enjoyed the movie.  I didn't, however, find it nearly as scary as so many people have made it out to be (for my money, The Conjuring was a much more frightening film).  For most horror movies, unless there's some relevant history, I think viewers are best going into the theater with as little information as possible. Since you've probably heard a bit about Insidious by now, as the movie came out in 2011, I will say that I felt the movie was more of a blend of horror and dark fantasy rather than just a straight up horror film.  It also reminds me quite a bit of Poltergeist, which always earns a film a few points.  It's got good performances, especially by Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, and manages to pull a few surprises.  If you're looking for a good haunted house movie that's more psychological rather than visceral, it's worth looking into. More detailed thoughts (and some spoilers) after the break......

Action Figure Review: Big Knight's Castle by Schleich

   Today I'm looking at something a bit different: The Big Knight's Castle from Schleich. Schleich is a German toy company that produces plastic miniatures and toys which can be found in many stores in the United States including Target, Toys 'R Us, FAO Schwarz, and various other independent toy stores that sell "higher-end" product aimed at kids. While Schleich does sell product based on the Smurfs and Snoopy their main focus is on more generic characters such as knights, elves, and animals. The castle I'm looking at today was released in 2014 and is intended for use with the knights sub-line. It is quite massive! While the retail price on this item is around $150, I ended up waiting around until I saw one on Amazon for around $60, which is a real steal. I'm structuring this review a bit different than my standard figure reviews as I'll be showing off each piece of the set along with some images of the playset's compatibility with some other figures from different scales. Ready to invade the Big Knight's Castle? Then join me after the break...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

This review originally appeared on ThEpic Review in September of 2013.

     Like the connection between the original Halloween and Halloween II, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers picks up right where Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers ends (although it soon jumos ahead one year to the next Halloween) to continue the story with most of the same characters. Released in 1989, Halloween 5 is an incredibly disappointing sequel. Where Halloween 4 left us with one of the most shocking scenes in the entire franchise where a seemingly dead Michael Myers has seemingly transferred his evil powers to his niece, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), Halloween 5 leaves us with the cinematic equivalent of a smashed pumpkin: it starts off with some promise, but quickly is dashed apart into a real mess. It's lacks the suspense of any of the previous films, dwells far too long on things of no interest, and really doesn't seem to have any real plot. It also has an ending that's completely unsatifying. There are films that end on a cliffhanger or a shocking scene and there are films that end with no resolution. Halloween 5 falls squarely into the latter category. Want to hear more reasons why it's so bad, along with a brief summary of a few decent elements? (Even a smashed pumpkin has seeds that you can toast and enjoy!) Then join me after the break...

Action Figure Review: Clark Can't from Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis by Funko

 This will be the last Garbage Pail Kids figure I review for awhile. I'll definitely be covering the entire series, though, so keep checking back here at Action Figure Barbecue come October 1st when I start my 31 Days of Toy Terror countdown! That's when I'll cover a few more of the more terrifying, fright inducing, cringe worthy characters in the series. Today, though? Today you get Clark Can't, an example of superhero cosplay gone wrong. Ready for a closer look? Then join me after the break...

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

This review originally appeared on ThEpic Review in September of 2013.

     Halloween is one of the most atmospheric and suspenseful horror films ever made. Halloween II is actually a pretty good sequel that explores the aftermath of the original film. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is absolutely insane, has nothing to do with the first two films, and tried to take the series in a direction that I really liked as being unrelated stories taking place on Halloween night. Unfortunately, too many moviegoers were unhappy that Halloween III wasn't a Michael Myers slash-fest so the concept of unrelated stories was dropped and the fourth installment in the series brought back Michael Myers. Yes, in Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers we learn that ten years have passed since the events of the first two films and Michael Myers is still alive but comatose in a sanitarium. He's also being transferred back to Smith's Grove without the consent of Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasance), so you just know that some stabbings are inevitable. Oh, did I mention that the transfer is happening on October 30th? Yes, there is no way this will end well. Read more about the horror after the break...

Episode 4 of the Collection Agency Podcast is up at Geeks With Wives Radio! Force Friday Special!

     Monday night me and my good friend Brad Bell of Geeks with Wives got together to record the newest episode of The Collection Agency, our podcast about collecting! In this Force Friday special we talk about recent things we've picked up, our Force Friday hauls, Force Friday midnight experiences, Brad's coffee drinking habits, the aftermath of Force Friday (including the reported shortages and such), me jumping in a van with some guys to go hunt down a Count Dooku figure during the Episode II toys midnight event, my 2 year old wanting to eat Bossk, and much, much more!  Check us out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Oh the Horror!: The Fog (1980)

     This review was originally written by me on 10/7/2012 for ThEpic Review.

   How do you follow up a film that changed the horror genre (arguably creating a new sub-genre), proved to be one of the most successful independent films of all time, and was positively reappraised by critics within a year of it's release? That's the struggle John Carpenter faced after the release of Halloween in 1978 and the film that followed it in 1980 was The Fog. In between the two films, Carpenter directed two television films including the very successful Elvis, his first pairing with Kurt Russell. While again pairing Carpenter's score and direction with the presence of Halloween stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Nancy Loomis, The Fog turns out to be a much different film than it's predecessor. It's a more traditional ghost story; something that feels like a cross between a vengeful ghost tale and Jaws involving lighthouses, ancient curses, buried secrets, and ghostly pirates. The Fog is not a great movie, but it's definitely a worthwhile horror film for a cold, foggy night. It's incredibly atmospheric and has a nice mystery at it's core that should appeal to most horror fans. Read on for a bit more analysis after the break...

Action Figure Review: "Buzz Saw" Hordak from Masters of the Universe Classics by Mattel

  When Masters of the Universe Classics first began in 2008 it was just supposed to be a short line of a few heroes and villains. But it grew. Actually, grew is an understatement. The line exploded and has reached the unprecedented point where vehicles, giant beasts, accessory packs, and enormous playsets are available for a 7 inch scaled toyline! At some point during the years that MOTUC rose in popularity, one of the line's ultimate goals became clear: To release every figure from the vintage toyline. Fans championed it and Mattel seemed to be behind it. As we're growing ever closer to that goal (which will be completed by the end of 2015) today I'm looking at a figure that helps us get one step closer: "Buzz Saw" Hordak (and yes, the packaging uses the quotation marks).  "Buzz Saw" Hordak was a vintage Hordak variant released in 1987 (the sixth year of the line) that was extremely similar to the regular Hordak. Unlike other variants, it was difficult to tell that there was anything different about this fellow at a glance. It was an action feature that differentiated him. I owned both Hordaks as a kid but when it kind of dawned on me that a modern MOTUC "Buzz Saw" Hordak would basically be the same as the original figure from 2009, I kind of did a double take. Was this really a necessary release? It seems that many other collectors felt the same way. Some saw him as a waste, others saw him as a necessary evil, and still others saw him as an improvement. What's my verdict? Read on after the break...

Monday, September 7, 2015

Oh the Horror!: FDR: American Badass (2012)

   I originally wrote this review for ThEpic Review on August 15th, 2013.

  FDR: American Badass! tells the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (AKA: The Delano, AKA: Wheels of Steel, AKA: Big Papa Juicemaker) as he comes to terms with the loss of the usage of his legs due to polio and the strains this put on his marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt during his first three terms as President of the United States.  Covering such significant events such as Roosevelt contracting polio through a werewolf bite, his first election as President, and his triumphant one-man attack on Normandy, FDR: American Badass! gives us a robust and yet intimately personal look at the werewolf fighting 32nd President of the United States.  It also features a werewolf Adolf Hitler, a gatling gun wheel chair, and a drug-induced visit with the spirit of Abraham Lincoln.  This is an over-the-top and offensive comedy that's sole purpose is to make you laugh and cringe in equal measures. Want to learn more? Check it out after the break....

Action Figure Review: Ghastly Ashley from Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis by Funko

 I'm going to cut the introduction short since I'm looking at (yet) another figure from the first series of Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis by Funko. Today I'm looking at Ghastly Ashley, your stereotypical teenager with braces, glasses, and really bad skin. Since I was a stereotypical teenager with braces, glasses, and bad skin, I can sympathize with Ashley here. She's just trying to look pleasant for the boys. Let's pay Ashley a bit more attention after the break...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Barbecue's Bonfire: 9/5/2015

Hey everyone,

I've decided to do a weekly post just capturing various things I want to talk about or point out. It's going to be pretty casual so some weeks may have more or less content. This time I'm talking about Force Friday, DC Trade Paperbacks, American Horror Story, 200x Roboto, and horror movie reviews. Click to read more random ramblings after the break...

Friday, September 4, 2015

Oh The Horror!: The Crow (1994)

    I originally wrote this review for ThEpic Review July 12th, 2013.

 I'm as shocked as you are that I had never seen The Crow before this week.  Released in 1994, the film is an eccentric blend of Gothic romance, superhero fantasy, and vigilante drama. The Crow manages to visit some dark places without ever dwelling in them for too long, which helps to explain it's longevity and cult fan base.  While it's surrounded by an omnipresent oppressive atmosphere, the film still inserts some glimpses of light that allow the film to not only have an underlying sweetness to it (a midst all the killing), but also a sense of fun and playfulness as well.  Mostly, though, The Crow is remembered as the last film of Brandon Lee, son of the late Bruce Lee, who was killed during filming due to an actual bullet being dislodged from a gun barrel by a blank. While it was most certainly a tragic accident, it does lend the film and Lee's character of Eric Draven a haunting, ghost-like quality.  While no film or performance can justify the death of an actor or crew member, those deaths certainly can change the way we view and experience a film.  Since it sounds like the film is going to be remade/rebooted sometime soon (with Luke Evans in the role of Eric Draven), perhaps now is as good a time as ever to reexamine this modern cult classic. More thoughts after the break....

Action Figure Review: Teevee Stevie from Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis by Funko

Guess what? I'm looking at another Garbage Pail Kid from Funko's new series of Really Big Mystery Minis! Today I'm looking at Teevee Stevie, a kid who had watched so much television that his head has literally turned into one. One of the things that I'll advise you dear readers about is that while these figures are sold in blind boxes for around $8-$9 each, you can pick up a case of all 12 figures for a pretty decent price. I think I paid about $65 dollars shipped for a case, dropping the cost per figure to a little over $5 each. That's a much better price! Anyways, here comes a monstrous Garbage Pail Kid whose brain has been turned to mush: Teevee Stevie! Don't change that channel as I've got more GPK goodness after the break...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Oh The Horror!: The Beyond/ Seven Doors of Death (1981)

   I originally wrote this review for ThEpic Review on March 18th, 2014.

   The Beyond (also released as Seven Doors of Death) has been praised by some horror fans as director Lucio Fulci's masterpiece. Combining his more sinister, arcane tales of the occult and portals to Hell with his more popular zombie films, The Beyond manages to be just as creepy and disturbing as it is gory. And let me warn you, The Beyond is gory. We're talking grindhouse style eyeballs removed from eye sockets and people being eaten bite by bite by spiders gory. We're talking dogs eating blind people and people getting melted by acid. This is the kind of film that will make you sit there and both quiver and shiver (most films opt for either one or the other!) until the very last frame. Ready for a brief look at 1981's The Beyond? Then join me after the break...

Action Figure Review: Leaky Lindsay from Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis by Funko

  I've covered two of the figures from Funko's Garbage Pail Kids line and I know I'm going to be covering quite a few more so I'll keep my intro brief. Today I'm looking at Leaky Lindsay, a girl who definitely has a few sinus problems. Yuck! There's snot dripping down her nose and all over her new clothes! Garbage Pail Kids seem to come in three distinct styles: Gross-out, monstrous, or attitude. Lindsay is definitely a gross-out figure. Interested in seeing if there more to this figure than meets the eye? Then dig around after the break and find out...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Oh the Horror!: Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012)

I originally wrote this review of ThEpic Review on July 9th, 2013.
     I'm not sure where I first heard about the film Bad Kids Go to Hell.  It's based on the comic book of the same name, authored by the film's director Matthew Spradlin, but I wasn't at all familiar with the book prior to seeing the film.  Anyways, the simplest way I can put it is that Bad Kids Go to Hell is The Breakfast Club meets Scream (it even has Judd Nelson in it).  Six students at the prestigious Crestview Academy are sentenced to spend a day of detention locked in the school's new library and write a report on the school's history.  Did I mention the library was built on sacred Apache land?  And one of the students claims to talk to her dead parents daily?  Bad Kids Go to Hell doesn't have a terribly original premise, but it does make up for that with some truly amusing dialogue, some solid performances, and a plot that didn't play out how I expected it to.  Read on for more of my opinions after the break....  

Action Figure Review: Adam Bomb from Garbage Pail Kids Mystery Minis by Funko

  Yesterday I started looking at the first series of Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis and talked a little about the history of the property. Today I'm looking at another one of the figures who might just be the face of the property itself: Adam Bomb. When you think about the Garbage Pail Kids, you probably think about the image of Adam Bomb pushing the big red button of death with a mushroom cloud exploding from his head and his tie being blown aside. He's a perfect example of 1980s dark humor and quite possibly the most coveted figure from this line. Ready for a closer look? Then join me after the break...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Oh the Horror!: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

To expand his ever growing body of knowledge, Barbecue17 enrolled in a film appreciation class at his local college. He is posting copies of his class assignments pass the knowledge on to you.

Movie Thoughts by Barbecue17
The movie I watched:
The Town that Dreaded Sundown
It was directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
It was released in: 2014

Please briefly summarize the plot:
In the 1940s a masked killer known as the Phantom stalked the streets of Texarkana but his identity was never uncovered. In the 1970s a film was made of the murders, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, and it has since become a Halloween viewing tradition. In 2013, however, the Phantom returns and begins his killing spree anew. Using the 1970s film as a basis for his murders, the Phantom terrorizes the town and stalks Jami Lerner, a victim who the Phantom let escape with a cryptic message. Delving deeper into the town's history and lore, Jami attempts to find some clue as to the identity of the masked maniac terrorizing the town.

Action Figure Review: New Wave Dave from Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Minis by Funko

     The mid 1980s to early 1990s featured a ton of gross-out entertainment/toy lines that kids loved and parents dreaded: Mad Balls, Boglins, slime of all sorts, the Mad Scientist Monster Lab, Dr. Dreaful, the Creepy Crawlers revival, Savage Mondo Blitzers, and perhaps most famous of all, the Garbage Pail Kids. A collaboration between the Topps Company and cartoonist Art Spiegelman (yes, the guy who wrote Maus), Garbage Pail Kids first made their appearance in 1985 as a series of trading cards and stickers and quickly became popular among the kiddies. Multiple series were released, a move was made (and quickly forgotten), the cards were banned from some schools, and Coleco sued Topps due to the way the Garbage Pail Kids resembled the Cabbage Patch kids. While the series died out in the late 80s, Topps began revisiting the line in 2003 to play on the nostalgia of the now mostly grown-up fans. To further celebrate the GPK legacy Funko has released a series of their Really Big Mystery Minis dedicated to the Garbage Pail Kids. The first series of figures has 12 unique characters and they're each packed one to a case! The great thing about that is that if you buy a full case (which is easy to do) you have the whole set. None of this having to buy multiple cases/ chase figure nonsense of other Mystery Mini lines. Today as I start looking at my set of figures, I'm showing off New Wave Dave. Ready for a look at this early punk rocker? Then join me after the break...