Wednesday, September 30, 2015



May you find the grand adventure in the great beyond that you offered in your films. From Kong, Shaft, Sheena and Tarzan, you were never timid when it came to churning the thrills!!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Begins...

Well, we're back in action with "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.": a third season, at this point, commencing on Sept 29. Guess that means the show is here to stay, at least a while longer (with the path also being paved for more "Agent Carter" later down the line). 

Will offer comments as notions come to mind on the various episodes, of course.  Wondering how Season 3 will carve its way into "Cap America: Civil War". (Was a tad disappointed that Season 2 didn't link directly to "Age of Ultron"; also had hoped for affluent cameos, but oh, well...)

Anyway, no matter what's concocted, I'm sure we're in for plenty of superheroic capers!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Time Travel Time #14: Army of Frankensteins

When I first heard the title, "Army of Frankensteins", I assumed it a sequel to Richard Raaphorst's "Frankenstein's Army": a fascinating 2013 found-footage film just itching for a sequel. Lo and behold, however, Ryan Bellgardt's "Army of..." is also a 2013 entry, only recently released on disc (by Shout!Factory) and independent of Raaphorst's effort. "Army of..." not only includes Mary Shelley's iconic concept, but time travel and the American Civil War.

Make no bones about it, "Army of..." is unpretentiously but sleekly low-budget. As with other such productions over the decades, this one works because of the imaginative, tender loving care poured into it. Its usage of time travel (and the laying of a hidden history) isn't so much a statement device, but rather a means for fun, as the adventurous twists and turns develop. It also makes great use of Shelley's creature (fashioned just enough in the Jack Pierce vein to avoid copyright infringement), but multiplied to an almost absurd, but stunning effect.

The story, written by Bellgardt, Andy Swanson and Josh McKamie, commences in present day, centering on a young man named Alan Jones (Jordan Farris), who after a series of mishaps that prevent him from proposing to his girl, Ashley (Jami Harris), is assaulted by thugs on his way home one night. The attack is, in actuality, a set-up by a modern Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Tanner Finski (John "Count Gregore" Ferguson) and his adopted, kid-genius assistant, Igor (Christian Bellgardt), who use the young man as an eye-donor for the yet-to-be revived Frankenstein Monster (Eric Gesecus).

Of course, electrical equipment figures into the resurrection process. However, this particular machinery can also catapult one through time by churning a nifty wormhole into the atmosphere. It also culls multi-universe Frankensteins and inadvertently transports them with Alan, Tanner and Igor into the throes of the Civil War. 

After a rough landing (and being swiftly relocated to a medical tent), the dying Tanner insists that Alan track and destroy the Monsters; he also asks Igor to repair the dimensional rift so that the boy and Alan can return home.  

In that the original Monster possesses Alan's eye, such allows the young man to see from the creature's vantage and the merciless way his "clones" attack the warring soldiers. Though Igor remains calm and subdued throughout, Alan becomes the film's hapless anti-hero: a would-be Ash, if you will, but with greater moral conviction than Bruce Campell's celebrated character. Alan also teams with a traditional adventurer, the resourceful Union Corporal Solomon Jones (Rett Terrell), Alan's apparent ancestor. 

Keeping up with Igor and the Joneses is runaway slave/nurse, Virginia (Raychelle McDonald), who more than holds her own with the men, even when she and the primary Frankenstein inadvertently end up a hot air balloon. Fortunately, during their wayward flight, Virginia's sensitivity compels the Monster to champion the Northern cause. 

Alan's symbiotic eye, meanwhile, keeps him tuned to the duo's whereabouts, eventually allowing the principles to reunite. Too bad Virginia's sister, Maggie (Shellie Sterling) doesn't hold the same stalwart motivation, but that's only because she watched the soldier she loved get mutilated by a Frankenstein in the film's prologue.

The strange situation grows even more complicated thanks to Confederate Lieutenant Herbert Henry Swanson (Lucas Ross) and his crazed commander, Robert E. Walton (Thomas Cunningham), who've seized Igor's nano-bot gun. The device can transform any living specimen into a monster, as Walton discovers when he turns his poor cat into a ferocious, bipedal beast that tracks down and bites off Solomon's arm. And wait till you see what happens when Walton orders the lieutenant to use the device on himself! Whoa--Mr. Hyde step aside! (BTW: once transformed, Swanson is portrayed by the effectively hulking Billy Bean.)

In that the film mixes Shelley lore with time travel, "Army of..." can easily be compared to "Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound" (see "Time Travel Time #4": April '14 ), though it projects a higher air of levity than the '90s effort. It also contains a dash of Rod Serling's "Back There" and a hardy sum of Seth Grahame-Smith's alternate-reality mash-up, "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter", incorporating an appearance by the President (Donald Taylor) and John Wilkes Booth (Christopher Robinson) later in the film. 

The movie also offers an ample supply of steampunk, highlighted by Igor's makeshift, "coil cannon" lasterblaster, which he conveniently attaches to Solomon's stump. (Heck, this sucker would make even the well equipped Jim West and Artemus Gordon envious.)

Oh, and for what it's worth, the film's big battle sequence isn't for the squeamish. Though the splatter is mostly computerized, it's also relentless, with plenty of gut-wrenching deaths, accompanied by some swell "Mars Attacks" disintegrations (due to Solomon's handy appendage). The accumulated result should satisfy even the strictest of old-school aficionados. 

Filmmakers of both big and small productions could learn much from "Army of..." (Incidentally, it more than holds its own with such acclaimed eccentricities as  Timo Vuorensola's "Iron Sky" and Jon Favreau's "Cowboys and Aliens"). By simply injecting a fair dose of unapologetic glee into the familiar elements of horror, science-fiction and history, it forges something unlike anything that's come before. To me, that's evidence of genius, and for pulling off something this outrageously imaginative on a shoe-string budget, Bellgardt and his crew have damn good reason to hold their heads high. Now, let's get rollin' on that sequel, guys!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Collectible Time #41: JAKKS 18" Poe Dameron and 20" Yoda Action Figures

Purchased an 18" JAKKS Poe Dameron action figure at Kmart. I figured I'd finally get in on the ground floor with one of the upcoming "Force Awakens" good guys. 

The Chapter VII character  is portrayed by Oscar "Ex Machina" Isaac, and the representation certainly captures the actor's facial structure, even if the gear somewhat obscures this upon initial glance. 

I've always been partial to the X-wing pilot outfit, going back to when Mark Hamill wore such as Luke: a kind of bulky Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon look, perhaps, with a brush of Captain Midnight. Anyway, this variation looks good on Isaac, while connecting with a prior time in "Star Wars" lore. Heck, what can I say? I'm a sucker for nostalgia!

PS: The figure comes with an attachable blaster which can be poised in hand or holster. Nice touch...

Also, a few days later at Kmart, I purchased the JAKKS 20" Yoda!!!

In scale, this one would be more in tune with the 48" JAKKS figures, but is probably intended as its own "jumbo" stand-alone among the company's largest pieces.

Yoda comes with a cloth cloak, an attachable lightsaber  and loads of wrinkled detail on his wise, old head. I don't mean to brag, but the force was evidently with me, for I found this one on its first day of release!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015


FAREWELL, JACK...You always remained one of the good guys...on or off screen.

(Be sure to say hello to good ol' George for me!)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Gotham Returns!!! (Season 2 Commences)

I'm no Criswell, but when it comes to Fox's "Gotham", I can confidently predict an even grander, more fulfilling season with the second--especially when it comes to its primary villains!!!

With Fish gone (or at least seemingly so), Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) should have ample room to spread his wings as the crafty Penguin. That can only be a plus.

I also foresee bigger and more demented things for the poor, misunderstood Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), the Riddler-to-be. 

As for the possible Joker-to-be, Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan), a return is inevitable (if not essential), and though his occupation as the Clown Prince of Crime is still questionable, to peer further into any angle of the arch foe's genesis is a sure-fire means to raise the series to further, maniacal heights.

I'll be posting comments accordingly throughout this season. Can't wait for it to commence. In Dark Knight lore, September 21 is gonna be historic, indeed, reestablishing"Gotham" as one of television's best and most innovative, mythological epics.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Collectible Time #40: JAKKS 48" Talking/Battle-Buddy Stormtropper and 31" Kylo Ren

Somehow, someway I stumbled upon a JAKKS 48" talking/Battle-Buddy "Force Awakens" Stormtrooper at a local Toys"R"Us. (I hear this item is as rare as hen's teeth right now.)

Like the 48" JAKKS Darth Vader (see "Collectible Time #37": Sept '15), this one sure is a sight for sore eyes, as is the dashing, preacher-like figure posing next to it. 

As you can discern, the newly designed "First Unit" Stormtrooper is quite a massive piece of posable plastic, and in addition to emitting a series of sharp blaster sounds, the figure vocalizes such heartwarming statements as "Move out. Let's go"; "Put down your weapons"; "Sir--Resistance fighters"; and the ever encouraging "We're taking you into custody." 

Couldn't help myself with this one, and I seemed destined to grab this sturdy specimen, considering it was the only one on the shelf. For sure, he'll make a fine-dandy companion for Darth.

On the 31" side, found a nifty Kylo Ren at Kmart...

The figure sports a cloth cape, and when the hood is pulled back, one gets a nice view of the helmet: a most familiar looking structure, at that, I might add. One can also insert the pieces of his formidable, cross-like lightsaber. 

Anyway, JAKKS sure does a kick-ass job producing these larger scale figures, whether it's "Star Wars" or otherwise. Happy and proud to have these for my collection.

Friday, September 18, 2015


...Must give a big, blog shout-out to the new FEMFORCE (#172) from AC COMICS!!! Yessiree, our gorgeous faves are back in full, eye-popping swing: Dinosaur Girl; Ms. Victory; Nightveil, She-Cat; Stardust; Synn and Tara. If that line-up doesn't get your pulse pumpin', I honestly don't know what the heck will!!!

It's sure a dandy of a jam-packed issue, too, folks, with moral-based tales and tantalizing artwork by such splendid talents as Chris Allen; Alejandro Alvarez; Jeff Austin; Jacob Bear; David Jacob Beckett; E.T. Dollman; Mark and Stephanie Heike; Andrew Hawnt; Mark Holmes; Dan Membiela; Walter Paisley; Scott Shriver; Mark S. Zimmerman...and my good buddy, Rock Baker (see "Collectible Time #36: Sept '15), whose talents can be found in three spirited stories: "Battle for Atoll Q", "A Nice Girl in a Place Like This" and "Same As It Ever Was".

If you're into strong, curvaceous chicks, this one will tickle (and fulfill) your fancy to the max!!! Take the plunge and order it now from AC Comics (www. ACCCOMICS.COM) while supplies last!!! You won't be disappointed!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Available now in paperback...DEVOLUTION Z #1 at AMAZON.COM (, featuring my short story, THE BOG DEMON TRIUMPHANT!!!

The spectacular second issue is also available at the same source ( as with the first, overflows with unbridled creepiness. 

Here's your chance to own these spine-tingling anthologies in the good, old-fashioned, hard-copy vein!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Monster Team-up Reflection #25: Howling VI--the Freaks

Without debate, "Howling VI: the Freaks" is the most offbeat in the werewolf film franchise. Considering the lackluster quality of most of the sequels, "Howling VI" should have been presented as a stand-alone submission. In fact, it caters to more than just a werewolf, even though one acts as its lead, catering on a number of unique specimens, and therefore emerges as a genuine monster-rally epic. 

Directed by Hope Perello and written by Kevin Rock, the 1991 installment contains aspects of "House of Frankenstein"; Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes"; Clive Barker's "Cabal/Nightbreed" (see "Monster Team-up #24": July '15); George A. Romero's "Tales from the Darkside: The Circus" (see "Monster Team-up #19": Sept '14); and Charles G. Finney's "The Circus of Dr. Lao". It also owes much to Tod Browning's "Freaks"; David Friedman's "She Freak" and as with those beloved entries, stands as a forerunner to the acclaimed "American Horror Story: Freak Show".

The story centers on an enigmatic Englishman/drifter named Ian (Brendan Hughes), a "closet" werewolf who wanders into a sleepy Southern town. He appears particularly drawn to a storefront flyer for a carnival called Harker's World of Wonders, which employees a line of human oddities. In truth, Ian has already accumulated news clippings on the traveling show: the implication being that he may wish to join it, or at the very least, seeks answers from it.

The carnival's owner and guru, R.B. Harker (Bruce "Martyn" Payne, in one of his most memorable roles) is a fascinating chap: stylish in countenance and at first, seemingly sympathetic toward those of different attributes. He tolerates (and perhaps even encourages) the rebellious behavior of his raucous gang, including its hermaphrodite, Carl/Carlotta (Christopher Marley) and a spiteful three-armed, little man named Toomes (Deep Roy). However, when they're crass to a new attraction, Winston, the Alligator Boy (Sean "Gregory" Sullivan), Harker puts them in their place and boosts the young man's ego, exalting his rough-skinned semblance.

On this basis, one would assume that Ian would have no problem finding his niche among the troupe, but for a time remains simply content in helping a humble preacher named Dewey (Jered Barclay) and his pretty daughter, Elizabeth (Michele Matheson), repair their church. 

While the trio bonds, the darker side of Harker's carnival rises: not just with Carl/Carlotta and Toomes, but with the chicken-decapitating, harlequin geek, Bellamy (Antonio "Huggy Bear" Fargas), who acts as a lookout and accomplice to Harker. They know what Ian is, and they want him for their maniacal menagerie, especially Harker, who we soon learn is as unique as those he collects--a sadistic, dark-skinned nosferatu. He also holds a startling link to Ian. 

To bolster the strangeness, the Canton Bluff citizens willingly participate in the carnival's inebriating panache. There's Miss Eddington, the attractive banker (Carol Lynley); eager-to-be-reelected Mayor Pruitt (Randy Pelish); and anxious Sheriff Fuller (Gary "Carlos" Cervantes), who initially comes across as a bumbling Fife-type, but later demonstrates his investigative prowess when Eddington goes missing and Ian is captured by Harker. 

It becomes a struggle for the preacher and daughter to accept Ian for what he's revealed to be, with smitten Elizabeth still wishing to embrace him and Dewey wrestling with the fact that his friend is a werewolf. However, through the dark heart of it all, the real evil of Canton Bluff makes itself known, but even so, when push comes to shove, can the good monster defeat the bad? The finale, of course, grants the answer.

Beyond its absorbing plot, "Howling VI" offers fine, low-budget visuals and atmosphere, with superb special make-up effects by Todd Masters and Steve Johnson. Also, to its credit, the oddities are never obscured by murky cinematography: a common flaw in most modern monster movies. (It should be noted that the werewolf design doesn't mesh with prior "Howling" installments, but this had already become a peculiar staple of the sequels, but in this instance is admirable for its Oliver Reed/"Curse of the Werewolf" insinuations, as well as projecting a look similar to Gary Oldman's furry counterpart in Coppola's "Drac" by at least a year.)

The only evident "flaw" in "Howling VI" is its prologue. The implication is that Ian has attacked a young woman; however, this seems to go against the character's grain, especially since he spares Winston's cat when in wolf form. On this basis, since the carnival does give teddy bears away as prizes (and the victim possesses one during the assault), perhaps it's Harker who's done the ghastly deed, but there's never any exploration on the matter, which upon repeated viewings creates a nagging loose end.

Despite this fact, and that some critics are inexplicably quick to condemn the movie without having even seen it, "Howling VI" is worth a watch and will certainly deliver the goods, as long as one doesn't anticipate too faithful a rehash of Gary Brandner's concepts (though for the record, certain elements of the author's novel, "Howling III", are present in the film). 

Alas, its misleading attribution forces the film to get lost in the direct-to-video shuffle, but taken as its own entity (which is absolutely how it should be perceived), "Howling VI" proves impressive. It contains a moody ambiance, satisfying pacing and sharp characterization: traits certainly not found in most throwaway horror films of its era. An underrated and unjustly maligned gem if ever there was one and worthy of any monster team-up fan's broadminded acceptance...