Saturday, March 28, 2020

An Alternate Reality: I saw Red Son...


It's been a spell since I've read Mark Millar/Dave Johnson/Kilian Plunkett's (Elseworlds) "Superman: Red Son". I recall that I found it entertaining, though disturbing. I feel much the same way with the animated edition. Despite its differences from the three-part series, the movie is a curious example of ambivalent, ideological dictation that should prove hard to swallow for any pro-American.


Directed by Sam Liu and adapted by J.M. DeMatteis, "Red Son" begins in the Soviet Union (circa 1946), where young Kal-El roams. Under an unmentioned alias, our parallel Clark Kent sprouts to implement truth, justice and the Commie way. For most who reside beyond the Iron Curtain, that spells trouble.


That's not to say that our Soviet Superman is entirely rotten to the core. As such, the movie depicts him as misunderstood and well intending for much of the journey. In other words,  Superman's "servant of the state" creed isn't virulent, just different. 


This leaves Lex Luthor to fight for the American cause (even going so far to as to grow his own Superman, or more so, a Bizarro/Doomsday knockoff). In the context of the big flip, that should make Luthor good, right?  Not exactly. 


Luthor, who's married to the principled Lois Lane, still holds a self-serving slant. To demonstrate the contrast between Luthor and the Man of Steel, the latter halts an ambiguous, missile attack on the U.S.


Superman is also quite the concerned diplomat, interacting with revamped versions of Wonder Woman (a man-hating lesbian), Batman (a radical freedom fighter), Braniac and Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan and John Stewart. However, their dynamic inclusion doesn't differentiate one political/economic side from the other. If anything, the queue's muddled antics just muddy the view. 


Though "Red Son'"s concept is fascinating, even "Twilight Zone"-ish in ways, it never etches a hardcore line in the sand, even when Lane shows Superman proof of Stalin's atrocities. Superman is, according to all this, the better side of the Soviet dream (that is, the antithesis of Red extremism), not a superhero born to crush it. Communism, therefore, is only bad if it falls into the wrong hands. 


Sorry, but I'm not buying it. Yeah, the animation may be colorful and the pacing swift, but after the air clears, "Red Son" is just plain misconstrued. In light of Superman's traditional history, this makes the otherwise aesthetic "Red Son" an eighty-four-minute act of propagandist betrayal. 

MODWUMP'S MUSIC FOR BUNKERS


During this surreal time of coronavirus isolation, Modwump's on-target offering, Music for Bunkers is an ideal way to spend an extended session within one's four-wall confines.


The album is divided per two flavors culled from the same coin, with certain electronic selections displaying the natural tensions that spring from any given, dire circumstance and others smacking of revolutionary hope.


"Obsolete Machinery", the opening track, is as swell way to set the pace, spitting forth a wide range of dripping, atmospheric doom, as eerie as a sound-effects record spun to scare and far more foreboding than any stormy night. 


One can detect similar, unsettling traces in the sinister slant of "Papier Machete", which hints at propagandized, Chicken Little fears. The same paranoia splatters from out "Pitter Patter", which gushes of subtle but sublime water torture. "Vaccine for the Masses" and "Boris and Donald" are even more rattling with their gradual proclamations of clamping latches and stinging springs: a set of dungeons brimming of the best and worst of hardcore renderings. But "Dr. Soul" re-imagines it all, with a grating queue of reckless escape that could reduce one to little more than a big skid along some heated road. 


On the upswing, we get "Smithereens", which still presents an apocalyptic ascent, though with a big, damn smile slapped on it. "This Ain't Heaven" churns the same dynamic: creepy in a way, but joyful in spite of its mean misdirection. The cleansing "Vitamin D", the wafting "Blue Skies" and hellzapoppin' "Curfew Crazy" are the strangest and most euphoric of the set, with terse tingles and a stick-it-in-your-ear spitefulness that sure pushes more for life than death.


On the whole, the ambivalent swings of Music for Bunkers" are both dirty and clean, but most of all, perfect for those inner-sanctum interludes when one can't (and maybe shouldn't) get out.

Indulge while the opportunity is ripe:
https://headhumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-bunkers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

RIP STUART GORDON...


You were legendary and yet never in my estimation, respected enough.


In truth, as a writer, director and producer, you held your own with such greats as George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg and even James Whale, Tod Browning and Terence Fisher: a king among classic horror and the fantastic. 


The proof is in the pudding: "Re-Animator"; "From Beyond"; "Dagon": "Castle Freak"; "The Pit and the Pendulum '91"; "Robot Jox"; "Robo Warriors"; "Body Snatchers '93"; "Progeny"; "Dolls"; "Fortress"; "Daughter of Darkness"; "Deathbed"; "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"; "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid"; "The Dentist"; "Space Truckers"; "Edmund"; "Stuck";  "King of the Ants"; "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit"; "Fear Itself: the Eater"; and two excellent "Masters of Horrors" episodes "Dreams of the Witch House" and "The Black Cat". 


Each of these examples stands as a testament to your unique style and ability to transform the strangest into the most beautiful and sublime.


There was only ever one Stuart Gordon. In this respect, it's safe to say, there will never be another to rival your visionary grace.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Collection Recommendation: Mr. Lobo's Cinema Insomnia (Set #6) on Alpha DVD


Alpha Video/oldies.com has released yet another swell set of "Mr. Lobo's Cinema Insomnia" submissions. 


"The Screaming Skull", written/produced by John Kneubuhl and directed by Alex Nicol, features newlyweds (Peggy Webber and John Hudson) haunted by the husband's defunct, first wife (or so it seems). The latter's skull adds to the new bride's anguish via recurring manifestations and ultimately ushers the tension to a vengeful, William Castle-ish climax. 


Mr. Lobo lightens the grimness with his inspiring, off-the-cuff commentary and a special-guest appearance by the cute Kogarella, which make this drive-in classic an even juicier gem than one may remember.  (And as a collectible bonus, the DVD contains a creepy Certificate of Assurance, like those given to "Screaming Skull" audience members in the event they died or went insane during the picture's chilling content.)


Narrated with somber sophistication by Bradford Dillman, "The Atomic Brain" (aka "Monstrosity") presents Dr. Otto Frank (Frank "Killers from Space" Gerstle), a diligent maniac who engages in nuclear-fueled brain transplanting. The mad doc's enthusiasm mounts when an elderly woman hires him to shove her consciousness into the shell of a young babe, and it just so happens that three, smokin' lovelies are available for the spinster's sinister selection. 


Directed by Joseph Mascelli and scripted by a host of writers, this wacky hodgepodge is ripe for Mr. Lobo's wry observations. Fanciful fillers buffer the movie's uncanny atmosphere, ensuring this entry's status as a cerebral "Cinema Insomnia" treat.


Order "Mr. Lobo's Cinema Insomnia: the Screaming Skull" at
https://www.oldies.com/product-view/1144D.html
and "Mr. Lobo's Cinema Insomnia: the Atomic Brain" at 
https://www.oldies.com/product-view/1143D.html.
This cool combo is certain to grant hours of "misunderstood" fun. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

SUPERBABES #3: THREE TIMES THE PUNCH WITH GROOVY SYNN AND STARDUST!!!


AC Comics gives us another blazin', full-color issue of Femforce's Superbabes, and #3 is a psychedelic splash from the past, front to back.


Synn and Stardust are the focal points this time out, with one battling the "grateful" Uncle Jon Band and the other a destructive, giant robot. Mark and Stephanie Heike supply the story and artwork for Synn's tale; and for Stardust's, Chris Irving dishes the plot, while Mark Heike, Jeff Austin, Sylvan Varreau and Gary Carlson supply the visuals.


Without question, one will come away from Superbabes #3 feeling mighty high, especially knowing that justice has prevailed!!

Grab a copy of Superbabes #3 at your local comic shop or favorite online vendor!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

AIRSHIP 27 PODCAST (MARCH '20): READY FOR TAKEOFF!!!


Ron Fortier and Rob Davis soar to the sprawling, New Pulp skies with a mirthful and cautious March '20 podcast.

The emphasis falls upon Charles R. Sanders' popular African legends, Lulama & Damballa. Sander's acclaimed characters continue to enchant, and their in-the-pipeline sequel(s) will be no exception, especially with amazing author, Derrick Ferguson as one of the assigned raconteurs!!!


We also learn that celebrated "Marquis" artist, Guy Davis has joined the Airship 27 ranks. Davis' work is intricate, sweeping and awe-inspiring. A Nancy Hansen novel is his first Airship 27 assignment. Beyond cool!!!


In addition, Ron and Rob warn writers and readers of shifty sites that offer Airship 27 titles. Payment is received, but not a solitary copy is ever sent. Beware, indeed!!!

Listen and watch at