You don’t have to be a gamer to love Tales from the Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands.jpgI admit it: I can’t tell one end of a video game from the other. My children could beat me bloody at that old Simpsons driving game, and I gave up the pursuit long ago. And though they, and many othes, have tried to draw me back into gaming over the years, for all sorts of good reasons, it’s just never worked.

But Tales of the Borderlandsis something different. You don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate a good, light, smart and occasionally tragic story well-told, in an animation style that’s incredibly clever in its (apparent) simplicity.

Until now, non-gamers like me could only enjoy Borderlands in let’s-play streams, but the folks at Telltale Games and Gearbox (try and figure out who’s responsible for what in these game credits, I dare you) realize a good thing when they’ve got it, so they’re offering Tales on disk starting very soon. It’s a real opportunity to enjoy the story without the added stress of all that gaming. Ew.

Check out the trailer:

Jim Steranko. S.H.I.E.L.D. ‘Nuff said.

Shield SterankoSomebody said “S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Jim Steranko” in the same breath today, and bang!, I was eleven years old again and this happened:

Probably more than any other comics artists south of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko defined comics in the Sixties and, to no small degree, comics ever since. And yeah, yeah, he’s gotten plenty of awards since then, a lot of recognition, but – goddammit, people, it’s been FIFTY YEARS since Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I still it just like that: full color, bigger than life, right there.

I did a quick read of his Wikipedia page, and got another jolt:…

…he’d actually done earlier work, when I was even younger, that I remember with just as much power: an odd an unassuming little comic called Spyman that was one of the concepts that – cheesy and derivative as it was – made me want to tell stories of the fantastic myself. Sure, sure, make money, get rich, of course, but to make ups stories about guys with robot hands that could to anything and even do a diagram on the cover? I wanted that bad. So ladies and gentlemen:

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Tim Curry. Still here.

pennywiseTim Curry, one of the few living actors who deserves the term “legend” over here in our corner of the popular culture, had a stroke about three years ago. It’s put him in a wheelchair, at least in public, and slowed his speech, but he is still fucking Tim Curry, goddammit.

We don’t need to run through his accomplishments. If you don’t remember him Congo or The Three Musketeers, it would only take a moment of seeing them to say, “Oh, yeah! He was in that, too!” And it’s understandable – it’s been twenty-five years or more for a lot of that stuff. Personally, we remember him best as Winston Newquay – no, seriously somebody look it up we even remember the name – from Stephen J. Cannel’s mostly forgotten undercover cop show Wiseguy. And in animated stuff. Come on he was in all the cool shows: Fish Police, Tiny Toons, Batman: the Animated Adventures, Darkwing Duck. He was in Duckman and Freakazoid, damn it. He’s a hero.

And really: he was the best thing to remember in… Read the rest of this entry »

If you haven’t seen Wyrmwood yet, you’re no real zombie fan. C’mon.

wyrmwood-posterSeriously.

Take a couple pounds of Road Warrior, mix in a healthy serving of Evil Dead, and sprinkle liberally with your favorite Terry Gilliam movie … and you’ve got Wyrmwood, a completely insane zombie apocalypse film from deep in the wilds (in every sense of the word) of Australia.

It staggered onto American shores a few months ago, and it’s been working the convention circuit ever since (its first appearance was last year at Fantastic Fest).Now it’s on Netflix and Amazon Watch Instantly, and, trust us: it’s awesome. Here’s the trailer that just begins to share the magic:

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, blah blah blah. This here is the real thing, people.

And tell us what you think:

Hey there, Mister Man! Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalfe are bringing Stephen King to Broadway in an adaptation of Misery

Misery 1Clearly horror fans everywhere have died and gone to heaven. A kind of heaven, anyway.

Truthfully, could there be any better collision of talent and ambition than this, Mister Man? Apparently, William Goldman – the utterly brilliant novelist and screenwriter behind Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, Magic and so much more, wrote this adaptation a couple of years ago, and it had a short test run in Pennsylvania in 2012. Now Bruce friggin’ Willis and the hugely underrated Laurie Metcalfe (Roseanne, Leonard’s Mom on Big Bang Theory) are bringing Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes to Broadway in October and November.

It’s actually a brilliant idea; virtually the entire story of the disaffected romance novelist and his crazed Number One Fan takes place in Annie’s tiny, isolated house – a great opportunity for an essentially two-person stage play. Too bad nobody thought of it earlier…and how great that artists of this caliber are finally doing it.

And you critics better watch yourselves. Annie does not suffer doodie-heads gladly. Or at all. Have you ever heard of “hobbling”…?

Martian Manhunter: Finally Worth Reading

Martian manhunerMartian Manhunter, This poor schlub, like Ant-Man over in the other universe, has had a rough go of it since shortly after his creation as a lime-colored Superman knock-off way back in 1955 — just a few months after I was born. And in more than 50 years of comics reading (SUCK it, IGN!), I have simply lost count of the number of reboots and recasts by good men (and women) and true. And ultimately … nothing. Green wreckage strewn among the continuities.

Until now.

You don’t really need to know much of the tortured history of the shape-shifting, high-flying, super-strong telepath from ancient (?) Mars to really enjoy this beautifully written, beautifully drawn new series. Written by Rob Williams, Pencilled wonderfully by Eddy Barrows, this is one of the (surprisingly may) reboots that have surged out of the post-52 “Convergence” that is actually well worth reading; a reconception almost as fundamental and jarring as Moore’s Swamp Thing so many years ago. Okay, that might be overstating it a little, but still: nice to see a character who has been treating so erratically, and often so poorly, for almost 60 years finally getting the “A” list treatment. Even if he does seem to kind’a die at the end of the second issue.

Yeah, right.

Go buy it as your favorite retailer or online suppler! GO!

Scream Queens first impression: *meh*

Scream QueensIt’s not particularly fair to judge a series by its promotion, months before its premiere, but hey, bitch, this is Hollywood,d deal with it. And Fox is pushing Scream Queens, its new series from Ryan Murphy of Glee and American Horror Story, pretty hard. In fact, you can watch four “cute” mini-interviews with its four main characters right here, published recently in Variety.

But really… Murphy’s track record in horror (and in comedy-drama in general, actually), has been spotty at best. Glee fell hard and fast after a phenomenal first season, American Horror Story has been … well, icky since its earliest days, what with ghosts in rubber BDSM suits, circus freaks and stories that start in one direction and then zoom off into another for … well, often for no discernible reason, other than Ryan’s current interest.

And even with the involvement of really accomplished young (though tragically over made-up) actresses like Emma Roberts and Abigail Breslin, the whole concept feels so dated. The premise concerns a bitch-clique at a high-toned private school (I think; a little hard to tell) called “The Chanels,” and is — as they keep telling us — Mean Girls meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But Mean Girls was a ‘thing’ more then ten years ago; the original Chainsaw was — oh my god, my heart — forty years ago, and even the remake was made in 2003, and not even Jessica Biel wants to talk about it. Besides, Roberts has already done this role, as good as it’s going to get, in the “Madison, the Bitchy Teen Witch” season of American Horror Story. They even reference Heathers. Heathers: 1988. When Christian Slater and Winona Rider will still teenagers.

Hasn’t Ryan seen anything made since, oh, the Bush Administration?

I don’t know. We’ll see. But like they say before they drop the bombs and regret it later: confidence is not high. 

San Andreas Quake: why you have to love bad rip-offs of Big Movies

San Andreas QuakeWhenever a big action movie is just over the horizon, two things happen in the marketsphere: porn and a knock-off video. Thus and therefore: San Andreas Quake. 

I can’t remember the first time I noticed one of the knock-offs. Maybe it was King Solomon’s Mines coming out at the same time as one of the Indiana Jones movies, I don’t know. Certainly SyFy’s continuing Saturday night slopfest helped the tradition along, giving The Asylum and companies like it a chance to make very fast, very bad movies with essentially the same log line as an upcoming blockbuster, that can pop onto cable or VOD before the real one hits its first weekend.

Think Hansel vs. Gretel or I Am Omega or Pirates of the Lost Treasure. And there are so many others. So many others..

(And then there’s the porn-alternatives. Raiders of the Lost Arse. Titty Titty Gang Bang. Star Whores. They have a long and distinguished history all their own. Check out some of the best here.)

But the knock-offs serve a purpose…

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Tanith Lee passed away, but we lost her a long time ago.

Tanith LeeI had a collection of Tanith Lee novels on my bookshelf for as long as I had books of my own to put on those shelves (kind’a gave up on paper a few years and a big house ago). But there is no escaping it: Lee was part of my literary life for more than forty years, and news of her death last week hit harder than it should have, because — sad as it is — she was almost forgotten already.

The ever-reliable Guardian did a smart and touching tribute to her a few days ago, but in talking about her many awards and her place in fantasy literature, they also quoted a Locus article from more than five years ago. “If anyone ever wonders why there’s nothing coming from me,” she said back around 2010, “it’s not my fault. I’m doing the work. No, I haven’t deteriorated or gone insane. Suddenly, I just can’t get anything into print.”

That’s what happened: we left her behind.

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