Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Countdown to Halloween!

James Bond will return!

But first, we have some Halloween to take care of.

So, my James Bond project hit a giant speed bump. More of a speed mountain, really.

I blame a couple of things. First, the end of August got super busy with End of Summer activities and I slowed down my reading of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. But probably more impactful was finally hitting the Dr. No movie in my schedule. I started the Bond project because I wanted to blog through the movies, but I wanted to do that after a fresh look at the books since those have always informed my opinions of the films. When I discovered what looked like an actual character arc through the book series, I got excited about that and was looking forward to OHMSS, which I imagined to be the top of that arc. When I got to it, I was raring to go. But then I watched Dr. No and had such a ball blogging about it that I suddenly got bored with the idea of going back to the novels again.

Don't worry. I'm still reading OHMSS and I'll finish blogging through the Fleming novels and all of the films. But the scope of the project has changed and I'm not going to make myself do a bunch of stuff that I'd planned to do. I feel like I've said what I want to say about the newspaper strips, for instance. I'm still planning to read those, but I'm not going to force myself to write about them if I don't notice anything new. I'm also not going to blog through the non-Fleming novels. I'd still like to read those too, but I know that when I finish Man with the Golden Gun I'm gonna want a break. I made a trip to our local mystery bookstore a few weeks ago and picked up a bunch of stuff I can't wait to dig into, so I'm not going to put that off while I force myself to endure Q'ute. Not having to blog all that relaxes my schedule so that I won't get burned out and leaves me extra time to do some things I want to do like the Countdown to Halloween.

I'm doing this year's Countdown a little differently from the last few years. Instead of picking a monster and writing about various iterations of it over the next 31 days, I'm going to watch a ton of horror movies and write about those. The plan is to do that for 31 movies, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I miss a day or two. There's some awesome Kill All Monsters stuff brewing that I shouldn't talk about yet, but it involves deadlines and I need to make sure I hit those. There should be plenty of time to do that and watch/blog about 31 horror movies, but if I ever end up in a spot where I have to make a choice... well, you know.

One way or the other though, this blog's about to get a lot busier. Hope you're up for some Halloween, then we'll get back to Bond in November and take another break in December for the next installment of the Christmas Carol project. We've also got new posts scheduled from GW Thomas, who's guest-blogged here about space pulp a few times and has lots more to say. Fun times ahead.

Monday, September 29, 2014

FallCon is this Saturday!

If you live in or near Minneapolis/St Paul, I hope you're making plans to come to FallCon on Saturday. I'll be there with Kill All Monsters books and posters and a few other things, but even if you've already got what you need, please stop by and say "hi" anyway. It makes the day go by and you know I love to see you.

My wife Diane and son David will also be there. Diane will be the one decorating kids' faces with superhero and other nerd stuff. David will have issues of his Hulkasaurus mini-comics and plans to debut a new anthology of short strips. He showed me one of them and I LOLed all over it, so it's good stuff. Not that I'm biased.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pirates of Treasure Island (2006)

Who's In It: Lance Henriksen (Aliens, The Terminator, Millenium), Tom Nagel (Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove and a bit part in Man of Steel), and Rebekah Kochan (Eating Out, Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds, Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat).

What It's About: A loose adaptation of Treasure Island in which Jim Hawkins (Nagel) is in his 20s and dating Anne Bonney (Kochan), while Long John Silver (Henriksen) lost his leg to giant insects.

How It Is: This found its way into my Netflix queue I'm sure because I was just adding pirate movies one day. If I ever knew what it was, I'd forgotten until I popped it in and saw the opening words, "The Asylum Presents." Coming out the same year as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, this was The Asylum's mockbuster rip-off of that franchise.

I go back and forth on my feelings about The Asylum and did so again during the ten seconds after I saw their logo on this thing. First my heart sank, dispirited that I wasn't about to discover some hidden gem. But that disappointment quickly turned into "let's do this" and a determination to enjoy whatever goofiness I was about to jump into.

The effects - what few there are - are actually okay. The giant insects that inhabit Treasure Island are rare, so the CGI team only needed to create a couple of them and they look pretty good. Director Leigh Scott even hired a real ship to film on, though it's obviously not moving in the scenes that are shot on deck. The effects and ship money all came out of the costume budget though. The wardrobe (as Chris Schweizer pointed out when I tweeted some images) looks like it was borrowed from a community theater, and even then some hats and other pieces get reused between characters.

We know going in though that any Asylum film is made on the super cheap, so let's not belabor that. What's worth judging is how they tell the story and Pirates of Treasure Island makes some fun choices. Making Jim Hawkins older changes the story in a big way, but it's still interesting, especially when his girlfriend turns out to be a famous, feared pirate who doesn't want that life for him. Giant insects are also a nice twist and an early indicator that the movie isn't taking itself at all seriously. As are the wacky novelty glasses worn by Blind Pew and having Captain Smollett demand that everyone use the French pronunciation of his name. And while I wouldn't dream of spoiling them for you, the dying words of a major character are unbelievably stupid and hilarious and end the movie in the same spirit that it began.

Rating: Three out five giant, peg-leg making bugs.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Happy ERBday!

Painting by Daryl Mandryk [via]

Today would have been Edgar Rice Burroughs' 139th birthday, so Happy ERBday, everyone!

The last couple of weeks have been crazy, so I didn't have a lot of time for reading or posting, but the Bondathon will resume as soon as I finish On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Back into the groove now, so hopefully not too much longer.


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