Thursday, October 25, 2007

Streaming Horror Film

You're Scaring the Children was distributed in the mid 1990s by its creator via what he was calling shareware video. I'm no longer certain where I first learned about the video, but it was either on the alt.horror Usenet newsgroup or a horror listserv mailing list I was subscribing to. The deal was this guy would send you a copy of this film just for the asking, and you had the right to copy and distribute it as you please. Now that I finally have the technological capacity to do so, I'm doing just that.

You're Scaring the Children grabbed me right away, and it's become one of those videos I watch once a year or so. It's not a film in the traditional sense, but more of a short horror story with video illustrations. The video work is barebones black and white with the narrator speaking directly to the camera, recounting the various bizarre occurrences that happened at Seacrist Elementary School.

I've never seen anything quite like it (and I've seen a LOT of horror movies) and I still find the video downright haunting. After a little Googling I was able to determine that the video was the work of an author who goes by the name of Soren Narnia. You can check out his website right here, and he's self-published several collections of his short stories that you can find on Amazon and other online retailers. I contacted him awhile ago just to make sure I still had his blessings to distribute his video online and he was good enough to give the thumbs up.

I've broken the video into four parts for ease of uploading, and you can link to all four parts below. I figure if I'm so fond of this video there's got to be someone else who will find it interesting. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

You're Scaring the Children, Part 1

You're Scaring the Children, Part 2

You're Scaring the Children, Part 3

You're Scaring the Children, Part 4

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Flash Gordon: A Truly Novel Character

Next Friday, August 10, Sci Fi Channel debuts its new series featuring Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon, possibly the longest running recurring character in the history of science fiction. I have high hopes for the series, and if successful it would make for a pretty solid couple of hours as it is being run back to back with the newest (and way cool) incarnation of Dr. Who.

For a full history of the character, Wikipedia has a pretty extensive article here. Personally, my interest in the character began with a series of novels launched in 1973. These books presented Flash as a character whose home base was the planet Earth as it was in later years of Alex Raymond's comic strip and the 1954-1955 TV series that starred Steve Holland, as opposed to the many film and comic book versions that took place solely on the planet Mongo. Series regulars Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov appeared in the novels, and while the covers carried Alex Raymond's name, the novels were ghost written by the likes of Ron Goulart, among others. Click on any of the cover images below for a closer look.

The Lion Men of Mongo
This first novel in the series was the one that evaded me. Research tells me that this is the Flash Gordon origin story, in which Flash, Dale, and Zarkov land on the planet Mongo and battle the nefarious Ming the Merciless.

The Plague of Sound
A giant spider, an underground city, and a mad muscian who seeks to rule a planet by the shattering effects of ultra high frequency sound.

The Space Circus
Trapped on the planet Mesmo, Flash is forced into slavery where he must perform as a trapeze artist in a circus of extraterrestrials.

The Time Trap of Ming XIII
In the distant future, a descendant of Ming the Merciless sends his minions back in time to assassinate Flash Gordon.

The Witch Queen of Mongo
Flash, Dale, and Dr. Zarkov are transported to Mongo by a teenager with the ability to bend reality, where they become the prisoners of Queen Azura and her consort Ming Jr.

The War of the Cybernauts
This was the first of the series that I stumbled across. Not really a problem since the books can be read in any order (maybe with the exception of the first). Flash and Zarkov crash on a planet inhabited by robots and plagued by an ongoing war. This book had the best cover of the series, featuring some classic pulp style robots.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Comic Book Review

The 1980s was a great time to be a comics fan. The new direct sale market allowed many small publishers to get their product into comic book stores without the large outlay of cash required for newsstand distribution. A lot of crappy comics got published, but for those of us willing to sort the wheat from the chaff there were finally books that presented an alternative in a market that had been dominated by Marvel and DC. One of the absolute best of this bunch was Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus. The book was initially published by Capital Comics, then First Comics, Dark Horse, and now artist Steve Rude is self-publishing through his Rude Dude Productions imprint.

This is the first of a four issue mini-series, but the book also carries over the numbering from the last Dark Horse issue from ten years ago, making this also the 99th issue. Nexus is a fusion-powered assassin who targets mass murderers. His home base on a moon called Ylum has become a place where sentients of many species can seek asylum from tyranny. Nexus's long time companion Sundra Peale is about to give birth to the couple's first child. Nexus, however, has garnered many enemies over the course of 99 issues, and several nefarious looking villains of varying species are plotting the death of the unborn child. There is unrest between a pair of fanatical religious sects called the Alvonites and the Elvonites, and President Tyrone is hard pressed to keep the peace without Nexus backing him up.

Seeing these characters again after so long is like running into old and dear friends you never expected to see again. We've yet to get reacquainted with Dave of Thune and his son Fred, better known as The Hammer, and I'm hoping Baron and Rude are saving that pleasure for next issue. Many of the early issues of Nexus carried a quote from science fiction author Harlan Ellison that said Nexus "glows with originality." It was truly unique in its day, and it's still a great read. I eagerly await the second installment of Space Opera.

Who Wants to be a Super Hero? #1:
Comic Book Review

I think of Stan Lee in much the same way I think of Lucille Ball. Lucy was a groundbreaking entertainer and her first TV show I Love Lucy is credited with inventing the three-camera sitcom format that is still used today. She went on to star in two more successful sitcoms and garnered four Emmys. I respect the hell out of her accomplishments, I just never thought she was funny.

Stan Lee, of course, co-created all the major hitters of the early days of Marvel Comics, in tandem with whichever artist was working on the book. Lee had a hand in Spider-man, X-Men, Daredevil, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four... It's an impressive list, and the early Marvel Comics had a level of characterization that was missing from the Distinguished Competition. As with Lucy I respect what he did, giving the world so many enduring characters, but Stan was never much of a writer, and I find most of those early stories unreadable.

Comics have evolved quite a bit since then, but judging from Dark Horse's Who Wants To Be A Super Hero? #1, Stan's writing has not. The subject of this first issue is a character named Feedback, based on the winner of last summer's Sci Fi Channel reality show Who Wants To Be A Super Hero? As was established in the show, Feedback is a computer tech geek who after being struck by lightning while holding a video game controller (dear God, did I just write that?) he is endowed with strange electrical powers. You might think this was being played for laughs, but the story is played as straight super hero melodrama. Without exaggeration, nearly every panel in this book had me inwardly shrieking "who the hell talks like this?" I'm not entirely sure if he's intentionally doing a retro thing here, trying to ape the ridiculously over the top style of his earlier work. If this is the case, my response is that an imitation of crap is still crap.

As the winner of last summer's Who Wants To Be A Super Hero?, Feedback was also supposed to appear in a Sci Fi Channel original movie. Given the quality of most such efforts, perhaps it's best that the movie hasn't materialized. I honestly enjoyed the show, and even though Feedback's win was a bit of a surprise (I had thought Major Victory was a shoe-in), I thought he was a deserving winner. Nobody, however, deserves this comic.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

iPod Truffle Shuffle

Here's another movie/product tie-in that just wasn't meant to be.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Transformers: Optimist Prime

Harry Potter and the Order Form From Phoenix

Friday, July 13, 2007

Actor Kerwin Matthews Dies

Tim Lucas reported recently on his Video Watchblog that Kerwin Matthews, (pictured above with co-star Kathryn Grant) star of 1958's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad which scared the living crap out of me at a young age, recently passed away at the age of 81. I knew Matthews best from the Sinbad film, 1960's The Three Worlds of Gulliver (which, like 7th Voyage, had him working opposite some of Ray Harryhausen's magnificent stop motion animation) and the much lesser film (though fondly remembered by me) The Boy Who Cried Werewolf from 1973.

Grindhouse Double Feature Review on Cinematical

The movie Grindhouse may have tanked at the box office, but the film's existence has shed light on the grindhouse phenomenon, spurring several DVD companies to reissue classic flicks from the golden age of sleaze. This double feature (with trailers) of Pick-up and The Teacher just hit shelves and you can read my review of it in my Killer B's on DVD feature over at Cinematical.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How Creepy Would The Simpsons Be in the Real World?

Question: How creepy would The Simpsons be in the real world?
Answer: Creepy. Very Creepy. Creepy like a bucket of spiders. Creepy like old people sex. Judge for yourself:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Transformers Misses Out On Obvious Tie-In

I would think this one was a no-brainer.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Halitosis

Here's proof that even J.K. Rowling's work is subject to editorial tampering. This is what the final installment of the Harry Potter series was originally going to be called.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Man Has Middle Name Legally Changed To Megatron

One Jason Michael Burrows (known over on Flickr as PunkJr) of Seattle, Washington has legally changed his name to Jason Megatron Burrows. As near as I can tell, he is not on Michael Bay's payroll. Click here to view the legal documents.

Does anyone else find it interesting that Jason willingly chose the name of a being who wishes to subjugate humanity and with the extremely anti-social habit of turning into a big gun? I urge the authorities to watch this man closely.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bava Book Almost Here

Tim and Donna Lucas of Video Watchdog magazine announced last Friday that they are at long last in possession of two advance copies of their book Mario Bava: All The Colors of the Dark. The book has been several years in the making, and about three years ago I had the pleasure of assisting with the digital restoration of some of the many images in the book. The book will, no doubt, become the last word on Italian film maestro Mario Bava. Tim and Donna have posted a video here of the two of them viewing the advance copies for the very first time, and they definitely have the air of proud parents about them. I can't wait to see the book myself.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets!

I saw this over on and I'm fascinated. I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets is an anthology of World War II era comics by an obscure artist named Fletcher Hanks. "These strips were beyond terrible," according to the Boing Boing post, "filled with a kind of idiotic energy. Each panel tops the previous panel for freakish goofiness, each strip surpasses the previous strip for mind-croggling ham-fistedness." Hanks wrote and drew the adventures of Fantomah: Mystery Woman of the Jungle and Stardust the Super Wizard, the latter obviously being from a time when the concept of a superhero was so new that some people obviously didn't get it.

The samples of Hanks' work that I've found online are fascinatingly surreal and remind me a bit of Basil Wolverton's work, particularly in his rendering of neanderthalish villains. Stardust actually bears a resemblance to the British comic book character Marvelman (changed to Miracleman when he came stateside in the 80s), though Marvelman didn't appear until 1954. Since Marvelman was a blatant knock off of Captain Marvel I suppose it's conceivable that the character's look might have been cribbed from Stardust.

Anyway, if you go to the listing for
I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets on Amazon you can check out a few pages of Hanks' work by using the "Search Inside" function. You can also read a couple full length stories at's Fletcher Hanks page.

Monday, April 30, 2007

DON'T Trailer

The reason for the financial failure of Grindhouse at the U.S. box office is going to be debated for some time to come. Some say it was just too long, some believe the average filmgoer didn't understand what the film was trying to do, and others think The Weinstein company didn't market the film properly. While I think the length was at least a partial issue, I don't have a definitive answer, but ultimately I don't think it will matter. This movie will find it's audience on DVD, and eventually settle into the role of cult classic.

The fake trailers were an absolute hoot, so here's the trailer for the non-existant film Don't, directed by Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead fame. It looks, quite intentionally, like a European film from the 70s, capturing the feel of the era quite nicely.

Retromedia's Blood Flood Recalled

I've been looking forward to the triple feature Blood Flood from Retromedia. Three bonafide trash classics from the grindhouse/drive-in era including Andy Milligan's Guru the Mad Monk, a Mexican flick from late in Boris Karloff's career called House of Evil, and most importantly Grave of the Vampire, which I reviewed here on Omega Channel some time ago. What's not to love? Grave of the Vampire has long been a favorite, and as I pointed out in my review the film is long overdue for a quality DVD release. The Alpha Video DVD is atrocious looking, but until now it was the only game in town. Considering the number of hits my review has been getting lately from the link at IMDB, I assume there must be a fair amount of interest in this new release. As soon as the disk arrived from Netflix I put it on and was dismayed to learn that while this version of Grave of the Vampire is visually superior to the Alpha Video version by leaps and bounds, the audio is unfortunately out of synch by several seconds. I went to Retromedia's website to email them about this, but as you can see on the Retromedia home page, they are well aware of the problem. The disk is being recalled and will hopefully be reissued before long. If you've purchased the disk, check the Retromedia page for instructions on what to do.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Muppet Faces of Death

This is just wrong on so many levels. I'd probably be offended if I weren't laughing so hard.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


To get a good idea how much science fiction cinema changed in 1977, take a look at the genre films that came out in the decade prior to Star Wars. I believe Logan's Run was the last big budget sci-fi flick to come out of Hollywood before George Lucas, for good or ill, changed the rules. Psychedelic science fiction was common then, with John Boorman's Zardoz being a perfect example. 1969's The Illustrated Man is plenty trippy too, and a film that has really stayed in my head in the few days since seeing it.

Based on a book by Ray Bradbury, which was essentially a short story anthology with the title character binding everything together, the film stars Rod Steiger as Carl, a drifter wandering the rural countryside somewhere in depression era America. He crosses paths with a young man named Willie (Robert Drivas) who is making his way on foot to California. The two men share a campfire and eventually Carl explains that he's looking for a very specific house in which resides a woman he plans to kill. This woman is responsible for the skin illustrations (Carl bursts into a rage when Willie calls them tattoos) that cover nearly every inch of his body from the neck down. The illustrations are alive, or so Carl claims, and they offer glimpses into the future.

The narrative leaps back and forth between Carl's flashback of how an enigmatic and beautiful woman named Felicia (Claire Bloom who I remember best from Robert Wise's The Haunting) came to give him the tattoos... sorry, illustrations to begin with, the story of Carl and Willie around the campfire, and three tales of the future. These stories deal with a futuristic family whose children have developed an unnatural obsession with their holographic playroom, a crew of astronauts who have crashed on an alien world and are seeking shelter, and a man and a woman dealing with the fact that the world will end in less than a day.

Oddly enough, I find it both compelling and infuriating that some things are just never explained. Carl and Felicia appear in all three future stories with no explanation as to why. Are these reincarnations, or perhaps since the stories are coming through pictures on Carl's body they're being filtered through his mind somehow? Why does Felicia give Carl the illlustrations? Like I said, it's trippy. There are some charmingly outdated visions of the future here, like the single color uniform style clothing, and a very simple looking crashed spaceship that I would bet is a recycled prop from the previous year's Planet of the Apes. The film uses a more leisurely pace than most modern films, but rather than boring the audience, director Jack Smight uses the time to deepen characterization. They definitely don't make them like this anymore, but I sure wish they did.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

More on the Plane Dead Trailer

When I posted about the Plane Dead trailer a few days ago, I mentioned that the version on Youtube wasn't providing the embedding code for whatever reason. Now there is another version up which you can view below. Be advised that the version viewable from the official site is much clearer, but if you can't bear to pull yourself away from this site (and who could blame you) click on the "play" button below.

Podcast Recommendation

If you're not listening to the Mondo Movie Podcast, let me ask you this:


Ben Howard and Dan Auty are a pair of British gents who know cinema inside and out and discuss movies that cross all genres, covering classics, current releases, and the seamy underbelly of exploitation cinema. They have a distinct advantage in that a British accent always make you sound smart. Combine that with the fact that they genuinely know what they're talking about, and you've got one of the best movie podcasts out there.

Ben and Dan podcast more or less weekly. In the current episode posted on Friday, January 26, they discuss Mel Gibson's Apocolypto, Robert Altman's A Wedding (as part 2 of their Altman Film Festival), as well as some interesting chatter about HD and Blue Ray DVD formats.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I posted about this movie on Cinematical awhile back, but having recently seen Snakes on a Plane, I got to thinking about it again. Lots of people are swearing that Plane Dead was in production before Snakes, but, I remain skeptical. Regardless of which came first, Imageworks Entertainment isn't shying away from the comparison, as they are highlighting a quote from that proclaims "Plane Dead tops Snakes on a Plane." In any case, it looks like a cool idea: Snakes on a Plane with zombies. I can see the potential. The trailer is up on Youtube, but the code usually provided to embed a video has been removed at the copyright owner's request. Not sure why someone would turn down free publicity, but you can link to the trailer on the movie's official website. No news yet on a distribution

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

DVD Review

A searing indictment of man's inhumanity to man displayed amidst the turmoil of the age-old conflict of man against nature. No, wait. My bad. It's about motherf***ing snakes on a motherf***ing plane. The sheer simplicity of the film's concept is its greatest strength. Snakes On A Plane is its own built in excuse; whenever something preposterous happens, the viewer just shrugs and says, "Hey, it's Snakes On A Plane. If I wanted gritty realism I'd have rented Mean Girls." Historically, the film recalls not just the airline disaster movies of the seventies, but the nature gone amok genre from the same period, represented by Frogs, Fer de Lance (snakes on a submarine, if you will), and a seemingly forgotten tale of bats going bats in a subterranean complex called Chosen Survivors, to name but a few.

Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips ) witnesses a mob hit on Daniel Hayes, a prominent prosecuting attorney from Los Angeles. Hayes has been laboring to put mobster Edward Kim behind bars, but for his troubles Hayes is beaten to death with a baseball bat. Sean is taken into protective custody by FBI Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson ), and arrangements are made for Sean to fly to California under FBI protection to testify against Kim. Why exactly he needs to fly to California to testify about a murder that occurred in Hawaii is not mentioned, but hey, it's Snakes On A Plane, if I wanted a lecture on legal jurisdiction I'd rent High Noon. The FBI sets up a decoy private jet, while actually transporting Sean on a commercial 747. All the other passengers are forced to travel coach as Flynn has commandeered the first class section for his passenger. Kim's goons are not fooled, though, and they manage to get a large container filled with poisonous snakes from all over the world stowed in the luggage section. The flowered leis the passengers are given have been treated with snake pheromones, making those slithery bastards all the more aggressive.

Screen time is split between the live snakes and they're more energetic but far less convincing digital stand-ins. Once the vipers are loose the plot rarely takes a second to breathe, with snakes putting the hurt on the passengers at a breakneck pace. Even the heartiest of souls will cringe when they see the "snake on snake violence" as some poor schmuck just tries to take a leak. These cold-blooded belly-crawlers present not only an immediate threat to the passengers and crew, but they play hell with wiring and ventilation. Sean is relatively safe in the first class compartment, but he doesn't need to be bitten if the snakes can bring the entire plane down into the Pacific. One might ask why Kim would go to all this trouble. Surely a small but powerful explosive could do the job more efficiently. True, the plan is as convoluted as anything the worst James Bond villain could concoct, but hey, it's Snakes On a Plane, if I wanted realistic plotting I'd rent Capote.

The film's simplicity carries over into its use of characterization. Everyone in the movie has a personality that can be summed up in a few words: arrogant rap artist, bubbleheaded socialite, snotty British guy, etc. Even our hero Agent Flynn is a career cop with a failed marriage, and flight attendant Claire Miller (Julianna Margulies) is making her last flight before leaving the job. Introducing the characters as they board the plane is also a convenient shortcut which will seem familiar to anyone who has ever seen The Love Boat.

In the months prior to Snakes' theatrical release, there was buzz on this flick all over the internet. Not since The Blair Witch Project has a film's online promotion campaign so threatened to outshine the film itself. A catchy no BS title, a fast paced script, and the involvement of Samuel L. Jackson, and you've got one good time at the movies. The film also performs the difficult task of being predictable without being boring, and of being preposterous without insulting the viewer's intelligence.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Kaiju Love

This is both disturbing and hilarious. Here is a series of love-themed paintings featuring kaiju (giant Japanese monsters). Thanks to Boing Boing for pointing this out. All I can think is that the artist's sexual awakening happened in an instant, and he was watching Ultraman at the time. These probably aren't safe for work, so proceed with caution.

Friday, January 26, 2007

DVD Review

This is the third film in the Marvel Animated Features line to be released by Lionsgate Films, following in the wake of Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2. Never having had a big time live action incarnation -- or even a particularly notable animated one -- Iron Man lacks the immediate name recognition of Spider-man, X-Men, or some of the other leaders of the Marvel Comics pantheon. I'm sure all that will change once the big budget Iron Man film starring Robert Downey, Jr. hits screens in Summer 2008, but for the moment, this direct to DVD animated feature is old Shell Head's chance to shine (with the aid of a little Turtle Wax).

Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark has been channeling a lot of his company's funds into a pet project in China. He hopes to literally raise a long buried city, though a group of Chinese terrorists, fearing the return of an ancient emperor known as The Mandarin, attack the excavation. Stark's friend and overseer of the project James Rhodes is taken hostage, and Stark is injured during a rescue attempt. With Rhodes' help, Stark builds a high tech suit of armor with advanced weaponry, and the two manage to escape. Upon returning to the U.S., Rhodes learns that the armor he and Stark built together was only a crude version of a project Stark has been working on for some time. In a secret area of Stark Industries there are dozens of similar suits, each designed for a specific purpose. This is fortunate, as the raising of the Chinese city has awakened four superhumanly strong creatures, each mastering one of four elements: fire, air, water, and earth. They travel to the four corners of the earth in search of the five rings that will raise The Mandarin from the dead. Stark realizes that this is his fault, and perhaps the only one who can stop these creatures is Iron Man.

The back story receives a much needed revamping. In the comics, Iron Man's origin took place in Vietnam in the early 1960s, and his amazing armor was built with those miracles of modern technology known as transistors. You didn't see it much, but I bet the suit had an 8-track player too. According to an interview on the disk, the idea was to use a mystical adversary to counter Stark's advanced technology. While a sound theory, the elemental villains do little to grab my imagination, and the fact that their faces never change expression doesn't help either. The Mandarin is an imposing enough character, but he's saved for the film's climax. The film does a good job of incorporating terrorist leader Wong Chu and The Mandarin, two characters from the comics, but I think a high tech villain along the lines of The Crimson Dynamo or The Titanium Man would have been a better match for Iron Man. Characterization is often flat, particularly with Wong Chu, whose emot-o-meter is stuck on asshole. This can be attributed, in a large part, to the unremarkable voice talent, though I did like that Marc Worden reprised his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man from the Ultimate Avengers features.

In the plus column, the action scenes work very well. The elementals may not make for interesting characters, but in a mindlessly fun super hero brawl they get the job done. Iron Man's battle with The Mandarin's servants in a live volcano is a real stand out, and the climactic showdown with The Mandarin himself does not disappoint. When I first saw Stark in the familiar red and gold armor I got a fanboy chill down my spine. The film mostly uses traditional 2-D animation, though the elementals and Iron Man himself are rendered using 3-D computer animation. The design of the Iron Man character lends itself well to this process and it works quite effectively.

I enjoyed The Invincible Iron Man, though not nearly as much as I had hoped to. Perhaps a sequel not bogged down by the origin story will be more to my liking.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Way Cool Trailer

Oh my God, this is an awesome trailer. You can see influences from Bad Taste through Shaun of the Dead. I even see parts of The Killer Shrews in there. Even if the movie turns out to be a total piece of crap we'll still have the trailer, but I have I hopes for this one.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cool Video

As cool as the whole Youtube thing is, there's plenty of crap to sift through before finding something exceptional. Tony Vs. Paul, is a hilarious work of stop motion animation. I found the link to this on Boing Boing. Check it out.

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