Category Archives: true blood

Hobo with a Shotgun

Hobo with a Shotgun ~ Yeah, so I finally saw this. The number of times this film has been recommended to me by friends whose opinions I respect, and even those I don’t, is countless. Many of those friends have even nagged me with occasional “Did you see it yet?” inquiries.

The title revealing subject matter and the way sometimes I was recommended or asked about the flick has made me wonder about the sincerity of these friends. Ya know how someone will take a bite of something terrible, and then, not wanting to be the only one who is suffering, will offer you a taste? Yeah, that’s the vibe I have gotten in the past from Hobo with a Shotgun.

Right off the top, I have to give props to the director Jason Eisener and the cinematographer Karim Hussain. The color of this flick is insanely vibrant, no doubt a thematic choice to cash in on the 1970s action exploitation vibe that drives the picture. Even the movie poster reflects that homage, sans the Technicolor of course.

Based on the originally fake trailer from Rodriquez and Tarantino’s Grindhouse, the movie delivers its particular brand of hyperviolence almost from the start. Rutger Hauer is the hobo in question, and runs afoul of The Drake, the warlord who rules Hope Town. yeah, that’s the name, or in light of events and graffiti, it’s now called Scum Town.

Hauer is good here, playing apathetic at first and more than a little crazy, much better than his recent turn in “True Blood” as a subtly and hilariously similar character type. Actually had Sookie’s gramps been more like the hobo, it might have saved this season. When a shotgun eventually makes it into the hobo’s hands, he decides to become a crazed force for good, battling the bad guys and inspiring the frightened townspeople.

Trust me, this hyperviolent tale of good vs. evil set in a hellish Technicolor suburban wasteland sounds much better than it actually is but its misshapen heart is in the right place. Hauer watches and reacts for the most part, but for the rest of the cast it’s an over the top acting massacre that would make Lloyd Kaufman of Troma positively jealous.

Speaking of which, if you love Troma Films, you will love Hobo with a Shotgun. On the other hand, if you don’t, this movie is not for you. And neither is it for the squeamish. Either way, the color is fabulous. And maybe Robert Downey Jr. can fight The Plague in Iron Man 4

Advertisements

Bad Blood

Regular readers know how much I love HBO’s “True Blood.” I even reviewed every episode of season three here on the blog. Now, in its sixth season it has started to go sour for not just myself, but for a lot of fans. Here are just a few reasons why, and not just because Sookie and Bill and/or Eric are not still together.

From the beginning, within the show’s credit sequence, and with references like “God hates fangs” and “coming out of the coffin,” the vampires of “True Blood” have always been a metaphor for the gay rights movement. At times the analogy has become quite uncomfortable, while happily when homosexuality has been shown in the world of the show, it’s been normal and accepted.

This makes “True Blood” a welcome fence post in modern television, but this season has been different. It’s cutting too close to the bone. The in-story escalation of anti-vampire protests has produced some frightening parallels, the most horrifying being the dragging to death behind a car of a young vampire in Texas.

We all know this happened to a young man a few years back, spurring on murders against race and gender minorities. I, like most viewers, turn to TV fantasy to get away from the cold darkness of the real world. I not only don’t want to be reminded, I don’t want to see such things trivialized in what has become a supernatural comedy drama. And with recent events in Russia these last few weeks, the vampire concentration camp subplot is even worse by comparison. There may just be such places for gays soon.

Those issues aside, the stepping down of show creator Alan Ball as writer and showrunner seems to have had a serious negative effect on the show. In my mind “True Blood” seems to have lost its way. The show this season feels more disjointed and less real.

The characters feel more like cookie cutter templates being moved about a chessboard than real people. They have been broken down to their basics and show very little else in the way of depth. Sookie, Jason, and Tara, for instance, might as well just be ‘slut for supes,’ ‘dumbass,’ and ‘clever curser’ for the lack of depth they have shown of late.

This just might be the end for me as far as “True Blood” goes. But for those still on the bandwagon, be sure to catch my friend and colleague Marie Gilbert‘s recaps/reviews of the current season of “True Blood” at Biff Bam Pop!.

Arrow: Vertigo

Back in the day, let’s say the 1950s, back when Green Arrow was literally Batman with a bow, he had a serious rogues gallery. There were a multitude of bizarre criminals who menaced Star City on a regular basis. True, most of them spun on the unoriginal twist of using some sort of bow and arrow motif, but Green Arrow and Speedy had lots of enemies.

The 1970s came along, Speedy got hooked on heroin and left his mentor, Green Arrow, who had changed his costume and facial hair to a more modern look, and turned his aim on social issues rather than super-villains. By the end of the decade however, things had come full circle, and costumed criminals came back in vogue. The powers that be decided Green Arrow needed a rogues gallery, albeit a more believable one, without the mandatory bow and arrow.

Enter Count Vertigo. With a name like Werner Vertigo, what else could he become but a super-villain, right? The Count part comes from being the last member of the royal family of Vlatava, so he has the resources of a small eastern European nation behind him. Afflicted with a balance problem he had a device implanted in his head that prevented vertigo. After years of tinkering with it he found he could affect the balance of others, causing dizziness, and yes, I’ll say it, vertigo. He can also fly. No idea how he does that though.

Merlyn the Magician may the king of super-villains who use bows and arrows, and Green Arrow’s natural opposite number, but when most folks think of the emerald archer’s archenemy on the scale of a Joker or a Luthor, they think Count Vertigo.

But that’s the comics, on the “Arrow” TV series, things are a bit different. Vertigo is a new drug, one that got Oliver’s little sister in a car accident, and arrested in but one of last week‘s cliffhangers. And the drug lord pushing vertigo onto the streets is called The Count.

The hot button comics reference this episode is Thea’s middle name – Dearden. Not only is her nickname Speedy, but in the comics, Mia Dearden is the young girl who was the second person to take on the Speedy identity as Green Arrow’s sidekick. Is this homage or foreshadowing?

The Count, as played by Seth Gabel of “Fringe,” is very manic, theatrical, and dangerous in that mad villain unpredictable way. Brilliant casting, and great costuming, I kinda got a Captain John Hart vibe as well.

Nice to see the writers haven’t forgotten Oliver’s Russian Bratva connection, I just hope that they don’t forget to explain it. It’s also good to see The Count has not lost his Eastern European origins as well. I also like the explanation of his name. Nice touch. And the color of the drug itself? It’s green, like Count Vertigo’s color scheme in the comics.

Detective Quentin Lance’s outrageous grudge against Oliver is getting old, and kind of silly too. I do however like the cast addition of Janina Gavankar from “True Blood” as Detective McKenna Hall. With Laurel tied up with Tommy, Oliver needs a good potential romantic interest. Please don’t bring back the Huntress.

The Count is taken down, of course, but with the possibility of a return, and possibly more like the comics version next time. We’ll see. He reminded me a bit of Mark Hamill’s turn as the Trickster on the old “Flash” series on CBS. Maybe we will get powers and costumes next time.

In this week’s island flashback, we learn more about Yao Fei, Ed Fyers, Deathstroke and the terrorists there. We also see a slick trick make folks look dead. Don’t try this at home, kids. We also see, much too briefly, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak with some bad news for Oliver. But I’m sure we’ll get more of that next week, and hopefully more Felicity as well.

The Barrens

The Barrens ~ There has never been a decent movie made about the Jersey Devil. There have been more than a few duds, usually made by folks who either don’t live here or don’t know anything about the legend. Research is so important. I’m convinced that until a film is made of “The Pines” by Robert Dunbar (and done right), there probably won’t ever be a good movie on our local legend ever made.

The real Pine Barrens

Case in point – Anchor Bay’s The Barrens, written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, a Kansas native, and a veteran of three Saw movies, and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I could just stop there, I suppose, but I’ll also add that he chose to film this horror flick, set in the South Jersey Pine Barrens, in Toronto. Yes, Toronto. To his credit, he wanted to film on location, but Toronto was cheaper. The Pine Barrens is an area that looks nothing like any other place on earth, for those not from here. The trees are stunted, not tall. So much for authenticity.

Also known as The Forest, and The Jersey Devil, the film has Stephen Moyer, vampire Bill Compton from HBO’s “True Blood,” as a British dad in the States who forces his family – second wife Mia Kirshner, teenage daughter, and young son, none of whom want to go – on a camping trip into the Pine Barrens like he used to do with his dad when he was a kid.

Where am I supposed to be from again?

I spent a lot of time trying to figure what vampire Bill’s accent was supposed to be. It should have been British, but was it Australian? But he’s not Australian, is he? It was very distracting. I know that Moyer can do an American accent. So why confuse the audience?

The saddest part of the film, for folks like me, is that this Kansas clown can’t even get the legend of the Jersey Devil right. It’s a very simple story, but he’s got witches, evil spirits and Indian legends mixed in there. And since when does JD butcher deer? It’s not even the right kind of deer. A little research please?

Anyway, apparently Bill is a bit troubled, more than a little disturbed actually, traumatized by something that happened in the Barrens years ago when he was a kid, or a dog bite. By guess who, yeah, duh. I saw it miles away too. Even his family thinks he’s nuts, they’re just trying to be really calm about it – you know, the way you tiptoe around a crazy person. All in all, it’s the predictability of the story that is most disappointing.

The last half-hour of the movie is seemingly endless. And for the most part, pointless. I couldn’t wait for this to be over with. Again I suppose we will have to wait for Robert Dunbar‘s “The Pines” to be made into a film for a good movie on the Jersey Devil. This isn’t it, The Barrens is just a sad excuse for a horror flick. Skip it.

For the record, I think there are more bears in New Jersey than there are mountain lions, Native Americans, or Jersey Devils. And Oswego is not a trail, or a river – it’s a lake. Research, people, research!

Battleship The Movie

Battleship ~ There been a lot of bad press and even worse word of mouth on this flick, and let’s be honest here, this is a movie based on a board game. And not a game that lends itself well to a plot, mind you, this is not Clue we’re talking about here. All that said, and bear in mind, this is by no means a brilliant movie (it’s no Doctor Zhivago) but it is pretty good flick for one made based on a board game.

The acting is pretty bad by most here, I would say below soap opera level, no offense meant to soap opera actors, but it doesn’t bode well for folks like Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard. The special effects of the completely indecipherable alien ships are the draw here, as it should be for a summer blockbuster. They are kinda like rejects from the Transformers movies, only not, but they are impressive. Also impressive is how they actually tie aspects of the film to the specifics of the game “Battleship,” that, I thought was clever. Spoilers, if there are such a thing here, but it was really sweet that the old guys who fought in World War II and their antique battleship are the guys who save the world, especially nice in lieu of Memorial Day this past weekend.

As far as the rest of the cast goes, Rihanna steals the movie, she is a delight. Taylor Kitsch, who I have loved as both Gambit and John Carter, is almost a cipher here. He’s terrible in this role, paper not even cardboard. Liam Neeson… well, if you have seen the preview, you have seen almost all of his scenes. Talk about calling it in, taking the cash and running. I did however also like John Tui and Tadanobu Asano, the latter of which is being called the Johnny Depp of Japan – they were both quite good.

The rest of the movie? It gets not only monotonous and predictable but it actually manages to make those big impressive alien ships get boring after a while. And the jumping from ship to ship to ship when they get sunk got a bit ridiculous after a while. We all knew we would beat the aliens, but it got so I wanted to yell “Get on with it already!” more than a few times.

All in all, it was an enjoyable two hours of mindless popcorn movie fluff. It wasn’t bad enough to want my money back, but as I said, this wasn’t a great film either. I don’t think it deserves the bad word of mouth it has been getting either. Come on folks, it’s not like this was Moulin Rouge! or The Dark Knight.

Best of 2010, In My Opinion

Movies ~ I tried to limit this list to movies that came out in 2010 as opposed to movies that I had first seen in 2010. If it were the latter, I would definitely include things like Suck, Gran Torino, Whip It, Big Fan, Me and Orson Welles and the best flick I saw this year, which is in fact from 1999 – Cradle Will Rock.

Nevertheless, here’s my top ten or so (fourteen actually) for 2010: Julie & Julia, HBO’s multiple Emmy Award winning Temple Grandin, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Despicable Me, the Danish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shutter Island, The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, should-be Oscar contender Secretariat, the surprising Megamind, the equally surprising Hot Tub Time Machine, The Runaways, Tangled, from the Cartoon Network Firebreather, and my favorite film of the year Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

Among the worst I saw this year, again, of those movies that came out this year, would be Dinocroc Vs. Supergator, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and the second and third installments of The Twilight Saga.

Television ~ My favorites on the TV this year are pretty predictable, sadly enough, but at least there’s a quorum. The top three for me are obviously “Mad Men,” “The Walking Dead,” and “Boardwalk Empire,” that’s easy. I was also a sucker for “Doctor Who,” “Misfits” and “Castle” this year, caught on to the amazing “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” better late than never, and I got my comic book geek groove on with “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

Still hanging in there with my favorites, but a bit on the decline in quality would be “Chuck,” “Glee,” “Entourage,” “True Blood” and as much as I hate to say this, “Dexter.” Here’s hoping they improve in coming seasons. This is not to say these are bad series, mind you, they are all head and shoulders above most of the stuff out there.

Music ~ While I was still riding high with Lady GaGa and “Glee” from 2009, 2010 will go down as the year I discovered nerdcore. I spent a lot of my time listening to MC Frontalot, MC Chris, Beefy, Schaffer the Darklord and especially Adam WarRock. As a matter of fact, “The War for Infinity” and the West Coast Avengers Mixtape from Adam were among my favorite albums of the year. Also in there I would put “Something for Everybody” by DEVO and just to make it an even nostalgic choice, the just released “All You Need Is Now” by Duran Duran. I also kinda dug the soundtrack to “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” by Joseph LoDuca.

Songs that I loved this year would have to include that song by Cee Lo Green, edited or unedited version, it was great. The Human League had a nice comeback with “Night People,” I also liked some stuff by Arcade Fire, Ke$sha and Florence + the Machine, but my real favorite of 2010, for both all the wrong and right reasons would have to be “Miracles” by ICP.

Everything Else ~ My favorite books this year were “Pandemonium” by Daryl Gregory and “Heart-Shaped Box” and “20th Century Ghosts” by Joe Hill. Comics by Paul Cornell, Gail Simone and Jim McCann were the best this year. My favorite podcasts included “Tom Vs. Aquaman” and the excellent “Better in the Dark.” My favorite blogs included “The Age of Reasonable Doubt” by Fran Metzman and “The Aquaman Shrine” by Rob Kelly.

Here’s to a great 2011!

Bookmark and Share

True Blood: Evil Is Going On

Finally, the long awaited season finale of “True Blood.” It’s gone by far too quick, and now the waiting begins for next summer. Next summer? Maaan…

So the faerie, the fae, Sookie’s people, might also be aliens, eh? It’s a curious thought. I have compared “True Blood” to “Dark Shadows” frequently this season. The gothic soap opera had a habit of doing everything within its genre and then throwing in the kitchen sink as well. We saw vampires, werewolves, ghosts, Frankenstein-ish monsters, time travel and even Lovecraftian horrors – but aliens, alien abductions and the like are more of a seventies phenomenon. Had “Dark Shadows” stayed on the air I guess they would’ve gotten o that sooner or later. Therefore, it’s probably fair game for “True Blood” as well. Can’t wait to see how it plays out.

We were left with one of the more thrilling cliffhangers so far last time, Eric and Russell both burning up in the sunshine. Such a good cliffhanger, I almost wish it had been a season ending cliffhanger, but such is this season of “True Blood” – it’s never what you expect.

Sookie insists on bringing Eric back inside to save him. The whole time Sookie and company were trying to save Eric inside Fangtasia I couldn’t help wondering one thing – is anyone watching Russell? Couldn’t he have just have crawled away to safety? Personally I was shocked when they saved Russell too. Eric’s not a good listener by the way. Godric said ‘forgive,’ not ‘save.’

The new subplots again supercede the main plot as Sam outs himself to Tara as a shapeshifter, and frankly (pun unintended) I find it hard to believe she took it as well as she did. I would have thought she would just run as far as she possibly could from this crazy town of Bon Temps. And it’s possible she did. I will miss her, but damn smart girl, if it’s true.

Now I’m not fond of Sookie to begin with, but I found it really distasteful the way she was taunting Russell like a trapped animal. No matter how evil the bad guy is – I’m pretty sure the rule for the good guy is to show mercy, or at least not be a sore winner. In fact, rule number one for heroes should be, don’t be a dick. Like Sookie.

The Hotshot subplot came to a head of sorts, but mostly it’s just set-up from the books and for next season. Jason is now apparently the new caretaker of the Jackson Whites, I mean the Pineys, ahem, I mean the shifters who sell V, meth and need dental badly. There’s more to come, according to the books, and I would have rather seen it happen all within one season.

Lafayette’s V aftershocks have taken on an interesting aspect as he has become slightly prescient. This will obviously be shorthand for the writers to tease the viewers with what’s to come. As we find out that Jesus is a witch, we are assured that witches and Wiccans and voodoo will abound in the next season. But again, I am bothered. Why introduce new storylines in the last twenty minutes or so of the season finale, especially when the main story has not come to a close?

We get to see a very dark side to Bill as well as a very dirty secret reaching back to the start of the show. This is a good thing as it adds a twist to this story’s ending. There is also an interesting parallel with Sam. We are told that both of their recent dark turns are actually how they have always been, we just didn’t know it. I don’t know however if Alan Ball and company have succeeded in making me believe this.

We leave as we began. Sookie rejoins the faerie folk. Next season should be interesting if nothing else. Did I like this one? You guess. I can’t wait until next summer.

Bookmark and Share

True Blood: Fresh Blood

This episode’s title is “Fresh Blood,” and it really does feel like such, more like a ‘new start,’ actually. It feels like we are playing catch up with all the new subplots, and some are completely new as of this episode. It’s almost like a new season. The highlight of the episode is Eric’s confrontations with Russell, and to me, much of the rest of it pales in comparison. A vampire who declares war on both the vampire and human worlds should be an unignorable main plot, don’t you think? And shouldn’t you tie up old loose ends before you unravel new knots?

Some random thoughts about what else happened this time around: the ‘In Memoriam’ mini-feature that opened this episode was interesting. Arlene consults the ‘Wiccan’ waitress as to how to get rid of her baby to mixed results. Bill and Sookie play let’s-pretend-we’re-normal. Andy confesses to Tara what really happened to Eggs in a less than satisfying sequence. Lafayette has some V aftershocks after refusing to do more with Jesus. Sam throws a drunken tantrum, then has a moment or two with Tara. Jason picks a fight instead of dealing with his shifter girlfriend or looking for Sookie.

None of the above have anything to do with Russell or Eric, and it’s sad. When they do get to it, it rocks. The climax, and Eric’s plan, and the cliffhanger. Oh. My. God. Imagine if the whole episode had been like this. That would have really rocked. Please, next time, more main story, and less subplots, and set-up for subplots. Thanks!

Bookmark and Share

True Blood: I Smell a Rat

A lot happened in this episode of “True Blood,” but really none of it was fulfilling. Sure, it had been stuff we had been waiting on for some time, but none of it was what we wanted to see. On the cliffhanger we got last time, this should have been all about Russell Edgington, but it seemed as if the live murder and declaration of war on live television was almost a non-event.

There were interesting bits. We got a round of secret origins with Sam, Jason finally confessed to Tara he shot Eggs, Eric wrote his will, Lafayette and Jesus took a v-trip that flashed forward on what may be next season’s big storyline, and of course we finally found out what Sookie is. On that last one, in Sookie’s own words, “Well, that’s lame.” And of course I did pat myself on the back for figuring it out earlier in the season without the benefit of reading the books. All this was good, but it wasn’t what we wanted.

“I Smell a Rat” was for the “True Blood” TV series what we used to call a fill-in issue in the comic book biz. It was a placeholder, to keep the show on schedule, but essentially it did not continue any storylines or cliffhangers. Comics eventually got rid of that tactic. I really wish “True Blood” hadn’t brought it back. Boo hiss.

Bookmark and Share

True Blood: Everything Is Broken

In the pre-credit teaser of this episode we get our first look at the vampire law enforcement/military. They are very Robocop, very Starship Troopers, and very old school cyberpunk, and of course, they are armed with silver. My first thought is ‘kewl,’ but my second thought is ‘how do you keep something like that a secret?’ I’m all for secret empires and ages-old illuminati and the like, but whoa.

“Everything Is Broken,” title derived from the Bob Dylan tune that closes the episode, is written by Alexander Woo, who also wrote the less than satisfactory episode “It Hurts Me Too” from earlier this season. We open on Russell cradling what’s left of Talbot and then move to a vampirically erotic shower scene with Bill and Sookie. Nice juxtaposition. The chatter between them, about what normal couples do, is fun and charming.

When Sam suggested to Tara that she see a shrink, I nearly snarfed Coke through my nose. I think the last thing this show needs is a psychologist creeping around Bon Temps. They would have to commit the whole town! Crazy aside, it’s a good episode for other things. Bill and Sookie get some, Lafayette and Jesus get some, and Sam’s brother gets some.

Eric rats Russell out to The Authority (not the comic, although that’s the first thing I think of when I type that). Full confession, baby. Only the result is not what he hoped. They leave him high and dry. Russell is too hot to handle, so if something is to be done, Eric has to do it himself.

Bill gets to visit fairyland. I have to wonder at the logic of this however. After Sookie’s blood saved his life, there was a weird effect where he could momentarily stand the sunlight. Here, he goes to that watery place of light near the cemetery and the hostess says he’s there because he has Sookie’s blood. But now, hasn’t Bill had Sookie’s blood before this? Why hasn’t this come up before this?

Franklin! He sure scared the crap out of Tara, but we knew he wouldn’t be gone long. Lesson learned for folks not in the know, like Tara – you must stake or decapitate a vampire or they just ain’t dead. Stake in the heart, or head off body, or there’s just no true death.

And finally, Russell takes his war public and worldwide – wow and holy crap – in one of the best cliffhangers on television in quite some time. I cannot wait for the next episode!

Bookmark and Share