Tuesday, June 27, 2017

STEFANO DALCA/STEVEN SLOZZ'S TRITTICO PARANOICO TERMINALE!!!


In the cinematic realm of the abstract, the weird...the wonderful, such names as Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch come to mind, but I'd argue there's another writer/director deserving of the same, exalted prestige...Italy's Stefano Dalca, otherwise known as Steven Slozz.


Dalca's specialty is the short film, and in such, he excels, just as Lynch did in his early, pre-"Eraserhead" days. The young filmmaker's fondness for surrealism is contagious. I can't tell you how many times I've watched his material before entering slumber and have had the most magnificent dreams. (For further analysis, please visit my review of "Dissonanze Relazionali: Oct '15). Yes, Dalca is as fine a magician as one will find.


Dalca's latest endeavor is "Trittico Paranoico Terminale" ("Terminal Paranoid Tryptych"): a 66-min, black-and-white sojourn that digs deep into psychological quirks and conditions more than any other production he's fashioned. On many levels, "Trittico" is his most ambitious venture yet, and perhaps his greatest success, considering the subject matter is a delicate one, with focus on obsessive-compulsive disorders and bipolar hindrances, with which so many people struggle. 


The film begins with a somber youth scribbling away at a table, and upon showing us his crude handiwork, we're led into such unnerving tracks as mummification; forced feasting; canine transformation; adultery per a fish-faced fiend; a twisted spurt of hide-and-seek; an intoxicated Christmas; anguished strolls and bullying violence; plus ceaseless cleaning, capped by infuriating, irreparable repairs. Oh, dear my! Are these terrible interludes weighed upon us by others, or are we their cause and effect? Does it really matter who's to blame? Our filmmaker seems to say: No matter the emanation, we all do feel life's mounting pains; none of us are alone in the fight.  


As grim as "Trittico'"s content is, Dalca has fun with its delivery: his segments equaling a kind of hard medicine coated in beguiling sugar and spice, all arranged in a subtle, three-tier flow. Some of his best examples come when he enters the scenes, showboating his keen knack for pantomime. His cheerfully tormented friends also do a lovely job emulating his style, which reinforces the wry continuity.


"Trittico", like Dalca's previous works, will likely be difficult to pigeonhole for the casual viewer (heck, probably any viewer), even when the obsessive insinuations clearly curdle through. It's more the way in which the moments are rendered that gives the product its unmatched flavor. "Trittico" allows one to drape one's own moody meaning upon the scenes, and once this is accomplished, one is hooked. On this basis, there's nothing in the cinematic field today that even comes close to triggering such personal perception. Dalca, therefore, is the be-all/end-all master when it comes to this alternative, storytelling format. 

If you're interested in obtaining a copy of "Trittico", feel free to message Dalca on this post, or contact the man directly at ... https://www.facebook.com/stefano.dalca ... for pricing and shipping arrangements. The dear Mr. Slozz will be more than honored to converse. (BTW: Stefano, I'm most appreciative of the dedication!)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Preacher Returns: AMC Blesses Season 2


The initial season of Sam Caitlin/Evan Goldberg/Seth Rogan's "Preacher", based on the DC/Vertigo's cult comic by Steve Dillon and Garth Ennis, ended on a "Star Trek V"/"If you're God..." dangler. As AMC leads us into Season 2, an alleged, richer exploration regarding the Lord's whereabouts begins. 


In truth, the series now becomes more of an official road trip of sorts, but then even when stationary, "Preacher" had that kind of feel. Its characters, after all, always seemed to be in search of something, if not new, bizarre scenarios, than certainly their places in life. 


Again leading the ensemble is the "Genesis blessed" Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), who's accompanied by his gutsy gal, Tulip O'Hare (Ruth Negga); his tipsy vampire buddy, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), and the woeful but sincere Arseface (Ian Colietti).


To propel the headliners along, Graham McTavish's mysterious Cowboy (aka The Saint of Killers) is on their trail, fringed by regulars portrayed by Anatol Yusef; Tom Brooke; W. Earl Brown; Julie Ann Emery; Lucy Griffiths; Noah Taylor; Pip Torrens; Derek Wilson; and the always fascinating Jackie Earle Haley.  


The first season's storytelling sometimes felt sadistic, but then such was rather characteristic of the DC/Vertigo comic. Still, it would be nice to see Season 2 plunge more seriously into its mystical concerns and leave the wise-ass humor behind. (On the other hand, I once thought "Army of Darkness" would have played better straight than snarky, but have since revised my opinion...)


All the same, the atmospheric flow of Season 2 could, indeed, make or break the show, but before a decision for renewal comes, we at least have a hardy thirteen episodes to digest. If the series maintains its fan base (and its voice is heard via letter, email and the like), Season 3 seems pretty much guaranteed. 

For now, Custer's weird trek recommences Sunday, June 25, following (for better or worse) AMC's lackluster "Fear the Walking Dead"; thereafter, it'll be stationed on Mondays at 9 pm, where it has a better chance of expanding its viewership.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

REVENGE OF THE LOST--NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON PRIME!!!

For those excited about Erik Franklin and Daniel Husser's "Brother Bones--the Undead Avenger" movie, there's now a chance (via Amazon Prime) to view the creative duo's earlier, fantasy endeavor..."Revenge of the Lost"!!!


Directed by Franklin, who co-wrote with Husser, "Revenge of the Lost" is a sprawling tale set in modern times: an alternate-reality romp, that is, where dinosaurs have returned to ravage the earth. In the heart of the monstrous chaos, desperate survivalists trek to a military base, only to learn that the flesh-feasting behemoths pale in comparison to the furtive ferocity that lurks behind the scenes.


"Revenge of the Lost" takes Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" concept one step beyond what we find in the novels and big-budget movies, which have only ever teased fans with the prospect of an actual global, dinosaur invasion. The Franklin-Husser Entertainment LLC production is, therefore, a dream come true for those who've yearned for such a logical expansion, but the film also presents significant and realistic characterizations and set-ups, similar to what one finds in George A. Romero's acclaimed "Dead" franchise. In other words, this film isn't merely a series of dinosaur attacks, but rather an epic of imaginative, identifiable depth. 

The cast helps make the concept credible, with Franklin doing a sterling job as Ray O'Brien: a resourceful, former police officer who must maintain his sanity as the terror escalates. He's joined by Ivey Bronwen as Michelle Dixon; Erika Chang as Commander Knight; Matt White as Rico Wilder; Jerry Nash as Jeremy White; Lawrence Ratliff as Corporal North; Grace Xie as Dr. Price; and Jay G. Hill as Dr. Winston. Each plays a pivotal part in the adventure, creating convincing bridges between the well staged action sequences.We end up caring for these people, never wishing to see them perish, even if their chances for survival appear dim. 

Do yourself a favor and give this fine production a view at ... https://www.amazon.com/Revenge-Lost-Ivey-Bronwen/dp/B072MSTXDB/.

After you watch, then visit... https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/333395674/brother-bones-the-undead-avenger ... to help get the film version of Ron Fortier's Brother Bones into gear.


It would be wonderful if Franklin-Husser Entertainment could make its next excursion the first, true-blue, New Pulp movie ever made. It's not so far-fetched an idea, either, considering that these capable filmmakers have committed themselves to the honorable task. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

HAPPY SUMMER 2017!!!

JESSE GUTIERREZ'S NIGHT OF THE BLOODY CHUPA-APES & PHANTOM OF THE BARRIO #3!!!

Jesse Lalochezia Gutierrez has a mighty fine surprise for his fans--two, super-duper, comic creations in which they can indulge, with all the cool, brash, exploitation elements we've come to know and love from this marvelous artist/storyteller!!!

"Night of the Bloody Chupa-Apes", by its very name, invokes the gruesome, Mexican horror classic, "Night of the Bloody Apes" (aka, "The Horrible Man-Beast": a quasi remake of "Doctor of Doom", as one might know). And yes, Gutierrez's tale is tinged with qualities of '69 film, but his story equally conjures the atmosphere of  New World Picture's drive-in favorite, "Humanoids from the Deep", in the way his green simians slink their way into attack. There's also a fine heapin' of beautiful babes, including the voluptuous Tina and the buxom Batwoman; capped by one helluva rambunctious, lucha-libre climax. Also, don't be surprised if that shape-shifting, "brainiac" Baron Salazar surfaces or a particular, pasty-faced chauffeur in the "Burnt Offerings" vein. 

In addition to "Chupa-Apes", Gutierrez gives us his latest chapter in the devilishly dynamic, "Phantom of the Barrio" saga. Issue #3 extends the investigative, Edgar Wallace structure we've come to expect, tinged by an atmosphere that smacks of Argento, Bava, Naschy, and Ossorio. Most importantly, the Phantom continues to heighten his reign of terror in the most merciless of ways: precisely what we fans crave.

What's neat about the Phantom is his slick, off-kilter, guitar-strummin' style: in one sense, an embodiment of Angela and Luciana Giussani's Diabolik, but fueled by the wry drive of Jose Mojica Marin's Coffin Joe and Wes Craven's Freddy Krueger. 

I adore both issues and recommend them to any one with a sincere interest in collecting the best among today's indie comics.
BTW: To accompany my order, Gutierrez included a limited-edition, "Mexi-Loteria" card sheet, which presents a superb smattering of his colorful artwork. To enhance this fine collectible, the back features a reproduction of the gutsy, Pancho Gila/Bandido Studios logo. To say the least, I'm most pleased and grateful. 

If you want to get in on the action (and I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so), leave a message for Gutierrez on this post or better yet, contact him on the pricing and availability of his products at ... https://www.facebook.com/jesse.gutierrez.7186.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

THE BLACK BAT/THE PURPLE SCAR: FACES OF FEAR...NOW AVAILABLE FROM MOONSTONE!!!


Just finished the novella, THE BLACK BAT/THE PURPLE SCAR: FACES OF FEAR, the latest crossover adventure from Moonstone Books. Gotta say--whoa!!! This one sure overflows with action and intrigue. It's also written by Black Bat raconteur and Airship 27 Publications founder, Ron Fortier (a good sign, if ever there was one, for no one weaves a New Pulp yarn quite like Captain Ron). The adventure is also graced by gripping illustrations from his creative pal, the legendary Rob Davis!!!

Faces of Fear deals with the evident rise of dead criminals within Black Bat/Tony Quinn's NY turf. It appears that the insidious, porcelain-faced Mr. Mask is responsible. Naturally, Black Bat (accompanied by his faithful assistant, Silk Kirby) leaps in to tackle the situation. However, as the weirdness mounts, another enigmatic figure enters--that hard-hitting, rubber-masked avenger, the Purple Scar, aka Miles Murdoch. 

After the Black Bat rescues the Purple Scar from a sticky situation, the crusaders decide to join forces to untangle the perplexing manifestations.   


As with Fortier's Black Bat comic-book entries, Faces of Fear moves at a rapid clip, but the blistering action never blurs the characterizations, which remain distinct throughout, courtesy of the author's crisp, engaging style. The story also does an excellent job probing concepts of identity and the secrets people tuck beneath their various facades. 

Davis' wonderful illustrations give a film-noir ambiance to the tale: each image projecting a moody, almost three-dimensional depth that pulp fans will relish. 

By the adventure's conclusion, one side triumphs over the other, but I won't reveal exactly how. Experiencing the way Black Bat and Purple Scar (or more precisely, Fortier and Davis) make it click is all part of the fun. 

Incidentally, the stunning hardback-cover artwork is by Davis, with Eric Enervold having rendered the dynamic, softcover version. Cool!!! 

Give Faces of Fear a try. You're guaranteed a rousing treat, with either edition you buy. Heck, why not splurge for both? 

Order today at ... http://www.moonstonebooks.com/shop/search.aspx?sfield=keywords&search=black+bat+purple+scar.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

RIP ADAM WEST...


You were my hero when I was a little boy and remained such through these many decades. Your version of Batman taught me how to dream big dreams, to be a good person...to see the world as a colorful and exciting place. Because of your series, my mind opened to other forms of fantasy and adventure--none of which would have happened if you had not made such an enormous impression on my life. 

No matter where you appeared, Mr. West, you were always the real deal, whether rubbing elbows with the Three Stooges in "The Outlaws Is Coming" or Sammy Davis in "Poor Devil", indulging in a "Zombie Nightmare" or crossing paths with the wholesome "Lois and Clark", the curvaceous "Black Scorpion" or the somber "Robinson Crusoe on Mars". I can still recall how I excited I was to find you in the great Karloff's "Voodoo Island"; hosting the offbeat anthology, "Tales from Beyond"; and let's not forget that harrowing "sand shark" encounter on "The Outer Limits".

I'll miss you with all my heart and especially savor that wonderful moment when you visited Rider College in the '80s: without question, the fondest memory of my young adulthood. Gosh, it still puts me on top of the world just to think that I was in your awesome presence!!! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

AIRSHIP 27 PODCAST #28 (JUNE '17): READY FOR TAKEOFF!!!

A truly significant episode of the Airship 27 Podcast is here!!! In episode #28, Captain Ron Fortier and Chief Engineer Rob Davis give us all the current scoops regarding the upcoming Erik Franklin and Daniel Husser production of "Brother Bones--The Undead Avenger"!!!


Captain Ron has already announced via Facebook that actor David Stoker will be portraying the lead(s), but other cast members have also been chosen--all detailed via the podcast, along with info on the production's oh-so-important Kickstarter campaign. (Updates on upcoming Airship book titles are also discussed in this installment.)


It appears that all systems are go to make the Brother Bones movie a reality, but please do give a listen to the podcast and (if at all possible) contribute to this great cause. If you do, you're assured to become part of New Pulp cinema history!!!

Tune in at...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QdUkjGCLP4.

Brother Bones Kickstarter info can be accessed at...https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/333395674/brother-bones-the-undead-avenger.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Monster Team-up Reflection #34: I saw the Mummy...


I was pleased to see Karl Freund/Boris Karloff’s “The Mummy” referenced in a theatrical, promotional featurette for the '17 reboot. However, that “The Mummy ‘32” was highlighted doesn’t mean that the new entry, directed by Alex ("Star Trek"/"Spider-man") Kurtzman, is faithful to the cinematic foundation, whether in content or pace, but it at least confirms that Universal Studios acknowledges its classic past. In so doing, it additionally establishes that its new entry is but another in a long string.


“Mummy ‘17”, in this respect, is also an offshoot of Hammer Studios' bandaged antagonists; the Aztec Mummy imports; Steven Sommer’s movie-serial styled samplings; and all those among and in-between. 

The new film, however, is characterized by a beautiful, disinterred lady, not that such re-animated lovelies haven't graced such stories before. (Consider Bram Stoker's "Jewel of Seven Stars" and its various adaptations; plus the Universal inclusions of Imhotep's Princess Ank-es-en-Amon and Kharis' Princess Anaka.) Per screenwriters David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan Dussman, the main difference this time (besides the addition of another classic, horror character within the structure) is that the revived female becomes the film's all-consuming catalyst. She is--no ifs, ands or buts--the Mummy, even if others of her more-or-less kind remain at her disposal. 


Sofia Boutella, who made a stellar splash as Jaylah in last year's “Star Trek Beyond”, plays Princess Ahmanet, a power-hungry Egyptian monarch who’s sprung from her Iraqi tomb inadvertently by mercenary Sergeant Nick Morton, portrayed with a devil-may-care edge by Tom Cruise. Abetted by his pal, Corporal Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), Morton has no qualms about transporting the princess and her artifacts for monetary gain.


It's on the jet trip home that the initial phases of Ahmanet's curse really unwrap, seemingly killing Morton, but not before he manages to dispatch his archaeologist lady friend, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle "King Arthur" Wallis) by parachute. Morton awakes in a London morgue, bursting through his body bag, his head full of questions and fears. How the hell did he survive and (of all extraordinary things) without an apparent scratch? 

It appears that the now emancipated princess has the hots for Morton, keeping him on a short leash (and as a handy, God of Death vessel), as she attempts to turn our world into a "dark universe", which leads to...


Russell Crowe's Dr. Henry Jekyll and of course, his alter-ego, Mr. Edward Hyde...  Jekyll is a cryptozootologist of sorts, an expert of "gods and monsters", if one will (and at various times, the movie's host/narrator). His dark side can be summoned easily enough, or so Morton comes to learn, but for the most part, the good doctor acts as the solider of fortune's congenial mentor, inspiring him to snuff the mummy's curse.


The Jeykll/Hyde/Mummy configuration is the film's most enjoyable element, but nothing new in the realm of storytelling. The combo appeared in Warren Magazine's Eerie #78, though the characters' overlap was more concise than in Kurtzman's film. 

As presented in the latter, the iconic personas appear with gradual nonchalance, as such characters would in a Jess Franco or Paul Naschy picture (but with only Jekyll, not ever Hyde, interacting with Ahmanet). This seeming off-the-cuff approach might likely be used for Universal's planned "House of Frankenstein"/"House of Dracula/"Van Helsing" quasi reboots. ("Dracula Untold" is no longer part of the equation.) Incidentally, Crowe would make a superb overseer for any monster rally, considering the suave credibility he grants his dual embodiment. 


Kurtzman's film presents an open ending, in obvious anticipation of a sequel, but what movie doesn't these days? In the meantime, the existing adventure offers lots of weird turmoil, dusty explosions, a harrowing underwater sequence and a spectral smidgen of "An American Werewolf in London", "Lifeforce" and "The Blind Dead". Through all this, Morton fervidly jaunts and for appearance sake, saves the day, along with the alluring Halsey, who acts as Ahmanet's fleeting competition. Ahmanet, however, is as hounded in her own right to regain her glorious past. Though there's every reason not to feel sorry for her, somehow or other, we do.

As far as Boutella goes, she's made history by simply being part of an extensive sub-genre. She's also an exotic gem to savor, though purists of classic Universal may find her story's roller-coaster intersections too reminiscent of Sommer's films. On the other hand, fans of the latter (i.e., later Universal) might find her movie's moody ambiance ponderous. Nevertheless, for those open-minded enough to taste from both ends, the new "Mummy" will entertain. To expand Ahmanet's story, therefore (as well as Morton and Jekyll/Hyde's), seems sensible, but only the film's box-office gross will determine whether another resurrection is bestowed.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I saw Wonder Woman...


Some years back, DC/WB dished up an animated Wonder Woman direct-to-disc adaptation, which promised to be the most faithful-to-the-source to date. When it arrived, Wonder Woman turned out to be a quasi man-hater (well, cynical enough to hold borderline contempt for the opposite sex) and overall, a long-shot from an ideal, foreign ambassador. So much for promises...


With this in mind, I couldn't help but go into Patty Jenkins' directorial venture with some hesitation, hardening my heart so as not to be insulted again. On the other hand, Gal Gadot's portrayal of the legendary Amazon in Zack Snyder's "Batman v Superman", as well as the recent "Justice League" trailers, gave me hope that somehow, some damn way, this new "Wonder Woman" would fulfill, despite the film taking liberties with William Moulton Marsten's revisionist, Greek mythology.


This "Wonder Woman", scripted by Allan Heinberg (from a treatment by Synder and Jason Fuchs), occurs during World War I, so we don't get the fighting-the-Nazis angle of the character's comic-book genesis or what we find in the early stages of the Lynda Carter television series. It's hard to say why this period was chosen (perhaps it being the prelude to women's suffrage might be the cause); nonetheless, Wonder Woman's fight for what's right still resonates despite the alteration. Also (hallelujah!), there's no "clever" twist, where we're forced to embrace terrorists to make us feel "complete", as in that blasphemous "Lego Batman Movie". Thanks to American Army Air Service Captain Steve Trevor (Christopher Pine), our heroine quickly adapts an Allied allegiance, assured her involvement will help stop the carnage.


Though the film's early part focuses on Themyscira (aka, Paradise Island), the action soon shifts to England, but this doesn't impact Wonder Woman's insinuated and indirect support of the "Land of the Free and the Brave", let alone her heartfelt, fish-out-of-water assimilation into the modern Western world. 

When she dons her early 20th Century attire, Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince, fits right in for basic sauntering...well, at least after Trevor and his secretary, Etta Candy (Lucy Davis), insist that she temporarily abandon her shield and "god-killer" sword. (Incidentally, Wonder Woman isn't called by her popular label in this version: her quasi-alias remaining the prevalent one.)


As with any fish-out-of-water story, humor arises, but it never turns silly: the jokes being reminiscent of those of "Time After Time", "Star Trek IV" and "Crocodile Dundee". There also comes a point when the Great War's horrors (eventually embellished by magical calamity) become so stark that the story makes an earnest turn, its tone then aligning with "Batman v Superman" and "Man of Steel". The contrast feels so seamless, however, that most won't notice or complain. 


To help the story's dramatic sweep, Gadot performs her role to the dignified hilt: a statuesque, empathetic beauty who somehow becomes even more beautiful--and sexier--as the adventure evolves. (Yeah, I know, to say a woman is beautiful and/or sexy these days is considered politically incorrect, but if Gadot doesn't get one's pulse racin', one is either a Pod Person or dead). The actress also injects a natural naivety into her performance, evident even in the island segments. All the same, when bullet-deflecting and lasso-lashing is required, she takes no guff, personifying the type of icon that those on either the side of the warring coin can (and do) respect.


Pine enhances Gadot's performance with his own no-nonsense, Kirk-like projection, his reactions to his friend's ethereal abilities being credible and sincere. Trevor knows she's special and honors her, just as she honors him. He does, however, command various scenes, as do several other decent but all-too-human men (played by Ewen Bremmer, Eugene Brave Rock and Said Taghmaoui), but it's only because it's their world that the Amazon enters. Slowly but surely, dear Diana gets into the groove and deals with matters in her own inimitable (and prefeminist) way.


With the film occurring during WWI, the historically staged factions determine not only the circumstances, but the villains, with one holding a mythological secret. He's a turn-of-the-century, pretend proponent of peace for the Allies, named Patrick Morgan, portrayed with quivering pomp by David Thewlis, who just happens to be the war god Ares. Sneaky, eh? 


The Central Power/German participants who complement Ares' agenda are Nazi forerunners: General Erich Ludendorff, based on the real-life, military legend, played by imagi-film/series veteran, Danny Huston; and the facially disfigured Doctor (Isabel Maru) Poison, an old DC foe played by Elena Anaya, who horror fans will recall from Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In". Though the duo is aware that WWI is ending, they seek an extension through Poison's superpower gas. 


The set-up progresses with grace and precision, as our heroes race against the clock to snuff the sinister scheme. Most importantly, Wonder Woman stays true to her roots throughout each snag and potential distraction, more than rising to the occasion in the end: something that should gratify her Golden Age fan base. 

If this new version of our celebrated Amazon is any sign of where the "Justice League" franchise is headed, we should breathe a collective sigh of relief. There's every reason to believe the best is yet to come. With gorgeous and talented Gadot on board, how could it be otherwise?