Friday, September 14, 2007

Fool Me Once, Shame on You. Fool Me Twice...uh...Won't Get Fooled Again

Here's an informative article about AVP2 from MTV News.

I've seen the film's trailer (check below). It looks promising. I want it to be good. But the first AVP was really, really weak. The Predators looked like overstuffed professional wrestlers and every time a gore scene seemed to be coming, the damned movie cut to bloody splatter on a wall. D'oh!

*Sigh* I'm sure I'll be there on opening weekend of this sequel. Dragging Kathryn along. "Come on honey, it's going to be cool."

I had a hard time selling her on AVP, so please, someone suggest a tactic I can use to get her into a theater to see AVP2. I don't think "It can't possibly be worse than the first one..." will do the trick.

RETRO TOY FLASHBACK # 64: Star Wars Action Figures (Kenner)

One of the great pleasures of being a kid in the age of Star Wars was the elaborate and amazing action figure product line from toymaker Kenner. These small-sized action figures (usually about 3 inches in height, I guess), were beautifully crafted and most importantly - durable. I still have in my possession over fifty of the figures I played with when I was ten years old, and they might be scuffed or bruised but they aren't missing limbs and for the most part, the paint isn't wearing off either.

I remember back in the day that it was considered expensive when these figures were sold for $3.99 by some retailers. Most of the time - if you were lucky - you were able to purchase Kenner's Star Wars figures for $2.50. I remember desperately trying to complete my collection and get every figure possible, including doubles of some (like Imperial Stormtroopers and the "Star Destroyer Commander.") Even in pre-adolescence, I wanted to build my own standing army, I guess.

Another great plus of the line was the gigantic assortment of figures. There were figures for virtually every character in the original trilogy. I'm not just talking main characters like Han Solo or Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker here, but characters like "Snaggletooth," "Hammerhead," "Squid Head" "Gamorrean Guard" "Cloud Car Pilot" and the like. Heck, anyone remember "Lobot?" Basically, if a character had even a cameo in the Star Wars film, you could possess the action figure. That was mega-cool, as was the fact that the Star Wars figures came with accessories like blasters, or in the case of Yoda, a walking stick (and a snake draped across his shoulders). Those characters who carried light sabers in the films had action figures armed with retractable Jedi sabers. Vader's was red, Kenobi's was blue, and Luke's was yellow. I remember I had fun subbing out the light sabers and giving Luke a red one, and so on.

The Star Wars action figures also fit beautifully in their Kenner-produced vehicles and playsets, which also ran the gamut (from the Millennium Falcon to the bridge of a Star Destroyer to the base on Ice Planet Hoth, to the Ewok Village). Seriously - a person could spend every last dollar on Kenner's Star Wars toys if they were so inclined simply because there was so much of the darn stuff.

I treasure this collection, even though it is mostly played out. I loved Star Wars as a kid, so very little of my collection remains "mint in box."

So anyway, here are some photos of my Star Wars Kenner Collection. They now reside in my home office where I work. It won't be long before Joel is eyeing them up with serious interest, I'm afraid...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Comic Book Flashback # 7: Battlestar Galactica (1978)

"Thousands of years ago, colonies were established throughout the universe by a mother race from the far reaches of the universe...a race known as -- human. Now, in the seventh millennium of time, a solemn and dramatic event is taking place...A peace envoy representing the twelve known colonies of man moves through space in hopes of bringing to a close a thousand-year-war..."
-Opening narration from Marvel's Battlestar Galactica comic (1978)

This is the "Marvel Super Special!" in "Full Marvelcolor!", a "Special Collector's Edition!" (Boy, someone at Marvel sure liked exclamation points back in the day...) In more specific terms, for $1.50, fans of Battlestar Galactica could read and enjoy this over-sized "official adaptation of the television sensation!"

Based on the three-hour "Saga of a Star World" by Glen A. Larson - the series premiere - this adaptation is written by Roger McKenzie and drawn by Ernie Colon. As with many comics of the age, this four-color version of a popular TV show is fascinating primarily in the way it differs from the broadcast material. Specifically, some of the ship and character designs are very different from the now-familiar versions fans remember. For instance, Baltar does not resemble John Colicos whatsoever in the comic, but is instead a bald, hulking figure, almost alien in appearance (like Klaus Kinski as Nosferatu). Sire Uri (portrayed by the late Ray Milland in the TV version) is here depicted in a strange way too: as an overweight, hoggish figure. Yes, he actually resembles a pig.

Story-wise, the comic also reflects Baltar's original fate, before it was altered to make the traitor a regular character on the series. As fans will recall, in the movie version (which played in theaters internationally), this original (and grim) fate was restored: A Cylon Centurion slit Baltar's throat at the behest of the Imperious Leader. In accordance with that original material (not the TV show), the comic features a Cylon murdering the man and depicts Baltar's bloodied (slit...) throat and a sword dripping blood. Interestingly, the scene is set "in a shadowed chamber somewhere on a hellhole known as Cylon." Even in the filmed version of the material, it occurs on a Cylon base ship, not a planet.

Perhaps most significantly, Caprican reporter Serina (Jane Seymour in the film) is in the comic book referred to as Lyra, and she is suffering from a fatal space malady that will soon take her life (a plot point adopted for the Laura Roslin character in the re-imagination). The last page of this comic edition sees Lyra begging Captain Apollo "Please, Apollo, no questions! Just whatever happens...promise me you'll look after Boxey."

I remember taking this comic-book with me on a six-week cross-country road trip in 1979, when I was nine years old. I must have read it a million times (that, and a comic-book version of the original King Kong film that I found in a Ben Franklin store in Wisconsin). In addition to the comic-book adaptation, the Battlestar Galactica super spectacular features portraits of Starbuck, Ovions, Commander Adama and Muffit, as well as a variety of articles by Tom Rogers. These included "Life in the Future," "Battle Tactics," "Spaceships and Such: Hardware Of the Future," and "Aliens and Robots." The comic also features a piece called "The Wizard of Hollywood's Dream Factory," an interview with special effects artist John Dykstra by Steve Swires.

Monday, September 10, 2007

CHOICE reviews Horror Films of the 1980s:

The October 2007 issue of CHOICE reviews my latest genre guide, Horror Films of the 1980s. An excerpt:

"As readable and entertaining as it predecessor, this tremendous tome of terror is the quintessential concordance to the films of the dead teenager decade...Muir opts for comprehensiveness, covering each of the 300 horror flicks released between 1980 and 1989...

...Muir's genius lies in his giving context to the films. He offers a time line of events for each year, and his introductory essay documents the 1980s uncertainty that led the genre to become both influential and profitable.

...With the skill of a Jason, Muir has carved out a niche for himself with this kind of reference work. As fun as the films it documents, it will make readers run screaming for the local video store..."