Category Archives: Film & TV

Top Ten Star Wars Rip Offs And Cash Ins

Star Wars is a cultural touchstone which took the world by storm and kicked off a fanboy Armageddon the likes of which have not been matched, even said fanboys rivals… the Trekkie. Star Wars reached across the gulf of nerd and straight to find the heart of the culture of pop, for better or worse. No matter your age, whether you saw Star Wars back in 1977 or on TV in 1984 or on video in the 90’s, you saw it and gripped you. Sure, it’s not the most well written, acted or directed saga out there and the prequels were pretty much garbage straight through but the impact that Star Wars had is undeniable. The film changed the game in 1977 (a game already having been altered by Jaws 2 years prior). Cross-Marketing was never as important as it was now and just as Jaws had before it and Alien would after it… a wave of quick cash-ins flooded the market for years to come. Now, some use the term rip-off, but these are really more cash-ins for the most part. Riding a trend is easy, ripping off is something more. A few of the list below are pretty blatant in their note for note copying of the Star Wars formula but lets face it, Star Wars was not highly original to begin with so it’s a self perpetuating cycle. Of those that are not copies are those which are original pieces of work made in the style of Star Wars as a deliberate attempt to strike a similar cord with the massive audience of Star Wars fans. Here Anthony Carioscia and Josh Hadley bring you ten films that tried to be Star Wars.

Moonraker – (1979)

Anthony: This eleventh entry in the Bond franchise brought everyone’s favorite spy into space! When a space ship is mysteriously hi-jacked, Bond is sent to find out who is behind it. During this adventure he meets Holly Goodhead as well as his old enemy Jaws. The Roger Moore era of Bond was known for its cheesy installments and this one takes the cheesecake. While sandwiched between two better bonds (The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only), Moonraker is worth a look just to see Bond fighting with laser guns in space.

Star Odyssey – (1979)

Josh: Star Odyssey is an Italian entry into the post Star Wars boom and it might just be the most Italian thing ever. It’s like what Star Wars would be if you watched the movie in another language all the while thinking it was some kind of porno. You have mustaches on just about every male, skimpy clothing on most females, terrible editing, garbage can “droids” ,a pair of suicidal duck robots (I wish I were kidding), “androids” that are ostensibly fruity cannon fodder as well a villain straight out of an eight year old’s idea of what Darth Vader was all about.

Message from Space – (1978)

Anthony: In 1978 director Kinji Fukasaku and actor Sony Chiba brought us the critically acclaim history film Shogun’s Samurai. That same year the two made the Star Wars rip-off Message from Space.  After the planet Jillucia is nearly wiped out by the forces of an Empress known as Mother, a man called King Kaiba sends eight holy seeds each to be gathered by a chosen one to help save the galaxy. This Japanese classic is notable for having a empress type character( played by a man in drag) before Empire Strikes Back introduced us to Emperor Palpatine.  The film is a lot of fun to watch and recommended for those who love old school Japanese sci-fi.

Battlestar Galactica – (1978)

Josh: Movies were not the only medium which used Star Wars as an “influence”. In 1979 ABC Television made Battlestar Galactica as a 3 hour TV movie which led into the TV series. Battlestar was like H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come in that it was not taking elements from Lucas’ movie, but more so the style and tone… which was enough to make Fox and Lucas sue Universal (Battlestar’s production company). Fox and Lucas lost the case but won the battle as Galactica was not a ratings hit and was cancelled after one season. Using some of the FX crew from Star Wars gives Galactica a great look but the mundane stories and meandering production were definitely a problem.

H.G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come – (1979)

Josh: I am not even sure how to describe 1979’s H. G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come . It’s like a bad pre-Star Wars scifi hack job but with a post Star Wars sensibility. It’s hard to describe. There are cute droids, space battles, colorful costumes, bad acting… upon reflection though it’s closer to a Space 1999 rip off that was simply made at a time when everyone wanted “the next Star Wars“.

Starcrash – (1978)

Anthony: Out of all the Italian Star Wars knock offs, Starcrash  is the most well known. Stella Star and her sidekick Akton manage to pick up a castaway when running from authorities. They are then recruited by the Emperor to help destroy a super weapon by Count Zarth Arn as well as save the prince ( played by David Hasselholf). With nice colors and special effects, Starcrash is a beautiful film. Not a dull moment goes by in this flick as it is very enjoyable and action packed. A good place to start for ones trying to get into Italian rip-off films.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan – (1982)

Anthony: In 1979 due to the success of Star Wars, an attempt at bringing Star Trek to the big screen was made. This film was called Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The film’s end product was that of a flawed and boring film. In 1982 they tried again with The Wrath of Khan, this time making a space opera with space battles… you know, like Star Wars. This film is to Star Trek what The Empire Strikes Back is to Star War  as it remains the most iconic installment in its franchise.

Starchaser : The Legend of Orin – (1985)

Josh: It took until 1985 for Starchaser: The Legend of Orin to come about… (I guess they were waiting for the entire Star Wars trilogy to finish up before they ripped it off). A farm boy who has a destiny to stop an armored warlord with a laser sword alongside a rouge smuggler, a lost princess and a few droids… while using a vaguely described “force” and a ghost mentor. Nope, this was not like Star Wars AT ALL. This 3D animated film is not really that bad, if you can forgive its obvious “influences”.

Flash Gordon – (1980)

Anthony: Though based on source material that influenced Star Wars, there is no denying this film was made to cash in on Star Wars. A football player is skyjacked aboard a doctor’s space ship along with a beautiful woman. They travel to planet Mongo to unite its forces to stop the planets’s dictator Ming the Merciless. With it’s Adam West Batman inspired  campy tone, great sense of humor, over the top action and killer sound track by Queen, Flash Gordon is one of the best films of the 80’s. Any science fiction fan who hasn’t seen this film must! You won’t regret it.

https://youtu.be/qiiRLde9WSk

Battle Beyond the Stars – (1980)

Josh: Battle Beyond The Stars is Roger Corman’s entry into the post Star Wars boom (post Empire really, it’s 1980 at this point). Corman had released Starcrash  a few years prior and didn’t want to repeat himself so instead of a straight up Star Wars knock, Battle is really more Star Wars influenced when in reality this is a blatant sci-fi version of The Magnificent Seven (more so than The Seven Samurai). John Sayles witty script, James Cameron’s amazing art design and models and a cast of fantastic actors all make Battle Beyond The Stars a far better film than it should be.

There are many more films which were influenced by Star Wars back in 1977 and the film continues to spread it’s effect on the film industry today. The ten we showcased here are only a sample all of the amazingly interesting movies which came and went in the wake of that war in the stars unleashed that summer of 77.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea & Shaq Are On A New TV Show

Flea, the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and songwriter, makes very sporadic and unexpected appearances in the world of film and television. His filmography is actually a little bigger than his discography – with appearances in the last two of the Back to the Future films, the voice of Donnie in the Wild Thornberrys, the Big Lebowski, Duckman and the Decline of Western Civilization Part III. Flea’s a real cool guy. When I met him a couple months ago, we had this brief exchange of glazed eyes I’ll never forget at Amoeba Records and it was one of the more memorable things that has happened to me all year.  I might have embarrassed myself a little, but there was no way I was going to handle meeting Flea in a calm manner. Sadly, it’s not me.

Now, when my friend Justin said “Flea has a show”, I thought he was referring to a Flea solo concert. He confessed it was a television show and I was certain he was pulling my leg. Well, he was half-right. Flea recently starred in a pilot for Amazon Video entitled “Highston”, a show which may get picked up by Amazon Prime as film and television (post-television?) shows see a shift towards instant streaming release only. The premise revolves around a 19-year old named Highston Liggetts who is a little lost and perceived to be delusional and mentally ill by his family, save for the family member who might actually have real issues, Uncle Bob. The nature of his dissociative disorder is his strong and vivid perceptions of celebrity imaginary friends, from Oprah to Bill Gates. In this pilot however, his friends are Flea and basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal. Truly, an unforgeable trio. If the show is picked up though, it will have rotating cast. I can only hope Flea will write the score for the show afterwards.

The Highston pilot was a very, very clever piece. Since Calvin & Hobbes, it seems some of the best stories in any form of media involve the dichotomous worlds between imaginary friends and those who can’t see them. Australian (and later American) television series Wilfred is another good example of this format. Highston is different from Calvin & Hobbes and Wilfred in the fact that no one outside of Highston, the eponymous title character, can see his friends or their involvement at all. In both Calvin & Hobbes and Wilfred, characters outside of Calvin and Ryan see Hobbes and Wilfred respectively as a stuffed toy tiger and non-anthropomorphic dog.

I won’t spoil the ending, but Highston’s family wants him to either make something of himself within a week or get admitted to a psychiatric hospital. The pilot provides a lot of blunt but not still pushy nor distracting social commentary, especially on the way society handles mental illness. “No one is happy”, says Highston’s father, Mr. Liggetts. “But Flea and Shaq say they’re happy,” replies Highston. “WELL, that’s because Flea and Shaq are the only happy people! Everybody knows that,” as Flea and Shaq mock the parents to no avail other than what Highston can hear. The show also features some nasty, kooky and funky original basslines from Flea as Shaq teaches Highston dance moves. Highston is a very polite and empathetic person, but no one, especially his family cares to listen to him outside of an agenda they filter everything through.

Nothing I can say is really going to capture the show’s inherent wit and thought provoking social commentary undertones. Regardless if you have Amazon Video and/or Prime, it is available to watch for free here. If you’re a Chili Peppers fan, a basketball nut or just looking to kick back and relax with some new piece of television that isn’t 100% mind rotting, I would definitely recommend the pilot of Highston. Thanks again, Flea.

 

 

C-3PO And R2-D2 Predicted Star Wars’ Future With Disney In 2003

With The Force Awakens a little over than a month away, nobody could have possibly predicted ten years ago that the Star Wars empire would be in such a radically different position.

That is, nobody except R2-D2 and C-3PO, voicing the thoughts of author James Luceno, in 2003.

The extremely controversial New Jedi Order storyline was launched in 1999, beginning with R.A. Salvatore’s Vector Prime and ending in 2003 with James Luceno’s The Unifying Force. The best way to describe the series to a casual fan? It’s the Star Wars equivalent of A Song of Ice And Fire, adapted as Game of Thrones on HBO. The series, beginning with the death of a beloved character, threw the Star Wars galaxy into complete chaos with the invasion of the Yuuzhan Vong, an alien race of religious zealots from another galaxy hell-bent on causing as much destruction as possible. Nobody was safe, and the status quo would organically shift with each and every novel.

Though derided by many fans for its radical reinvention of the Star Wars mythos when it was first released, the serise and its impact on the franchise has been reappraised in recent years; Matthew Stover’s Traitor, released in 2003, is the most profound Star Wars novel ever written, stripping away layers of heavy-universe building in favor of a four-character narrative that redefined the role of the Force and eschewed the notion of “light” and “dark”, while the finale The Unifying Force is perhaps the single most ambitious and action-packed novel in Star Wars literary canon.

The New Jedi Order was the last real groundbreaking storyline in the adult novel canon before derided storylines The Dark Nest Trilogy, Legacy of the Force, Fate of the Jedi, and Crucible were released, eating up the majority of the Star Wars publishing timeline until LucasFilm was purchased by Disney in 2012 and the Expanded Universe canon was thrown out of the equation in 2014. These later novels remain criticized by many fans for their lack of originality, charm, and warmth characteristic of Star Wars, and were almost unreadable by new fans for their heavy references to earlier works.

It’s fitting that R2-D2 and C-3PO, the comedic duo who acted as sort of a lens into the Star Wars galaxy for naive filmgoers in 1977, realized that the franchise was beginning to go stale and that big things were on the horizon in the final pages of The Unifying Force. In a sort of touching metafictional banter in the novel’s final pages, the droid duo reflect on the franchise’s status in pop culture, its continued dwindling in popularity in comparison with other films, and, perhaps unintentionally, the eventual Disney buyout and the Expanded Universe’s discarding by the Lucasfilm Story Group.

“A far more dangerous enemy? Who or what could possibly be more dangerous than the Yuuzhan Vong?”

R2-D2 warbled. 

“Obsolescence?” After mulling it over, the protocol droid loosed what amounted to a sigh. “Perhaps I am deluding myself. With all the advances that have been made in droid technology, I suppose we are in danger of being considered obsolete. But what are we to do, Artoo? Retirement isn’t an option for us. We will continue as relics, of a sort, passed along to new masters until our parts can no longer be replaced, or until we suffer some irreparable system failure. Oh, it’s all very… bittersweet, I think is the proper word.”

R2-D2’s response was a surprisingly cheery burst of squeaks and peeps.

“Do you really believe that life will remain as unpredictable as ever and that our adventures will continue? I hope so, my little friend, even if they don’t quite measure up to adventures we’ve had, and even if they are lacking a dash of the old enchantment…”

R2-D2 made a razzing sound.

“What do you mean, I used to say that all the time? Just what are you going on about” C-3PO paused, then said. “I don’t mind at all that it’s a long story. After all, Artoo, we have nothing but time.”

Of course, at the time, Star Wars novels were dwindling in sales, and 2002’s Attack of the Clones was beaten at the box office by the latest installments of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Spider-Man.

‘Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company’ Review

In lieu of a single player story campaign in the highly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront reboot, author Alexander Freed (who wrote the Imperial Agent campaign in Star Wars: The Old Republic) was brought on board to write Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company, a companion novel set after the destruction of the Death Star told primarily from the point of view of a single unit in the Rebel Alliance military, the titular Twilight Company. Despite this being his first attempt at a novel, Freed has knocked it out of the park and delivered what is easily the strongest canon piece of Star Wars literature thus far; Battlefront: Twilight Company is sure to be a fan-pleasing favorite.

Twilight Company tells the story of Namir, a young warrior from an uncivilized world who finds himself dragged into the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. As part of Twilight Company, Namir takes part in an ambitious campaign by the Rebel Alliance to push inwards to the Core worlds of the Galactic Empire following the events of A New Hope. The overstretched Rebel Alliance soon deems the operation too taxing and orders a retreat, setting up the events of The Empire Strikes Back and culminating in the Battle of Sullust, easily the most ambitious battle scene of the new literary canon thus far and a tentpole of the Galactic Civil War alongside Yavin, Hoth, and Endor.

Fans of classic Expanded Universe novels by Michael Stackpole, Karen Traviss, and Aaron Allston will find much to love in Twilight Company, such as the gritty action scenes, dark humor, and “unit”-oriented storytelling that gives every character a chance to shine; you’ll meet new faces like ex-bounty hunter Brand, four-armed behemoth Gadren, and a shady Imperial turncoat with major ties to another character of the new Star Wars canon.

The book’s morally ambiguous take on the Galactic Civil War paves the way for next year’s spin-off film, Rogue One, painting shades of grey on both sides. The reader experiences several chapters from the point of view of an upstart female stormtrooper named Thara and several high-ranking Imperial advisers of dubious moral nature, while we’ll see soldiers of the Rebel Alliance engaged in horrible acts of war, teetering the boundary between noble freedom fighters to violent insurgents.

Namir himself often questions his own reasons for fighting. On his home planet, Namir found himself bounced between fighting for the dominant military force of the moment before getting swept up in the Rebel Alliance. Does Namir actually believe in the values of the Rebels, or does he just go with the flow? What is preventing him from switching to the Galactic Empire, whose success in the Galactic Civil War is much more realistic? Namir’s character arc contrasts with that of Governor Everi Chalis, an Imperial politician and efficiency agent assigned to a backwater planet in the Mid Rim of the galaxy who opts out of the Imperial war machine and promises to deliver the secrets of the Empire’s infrastructure to Rebel intelligence. The relationship between Namir and Chalis forms the backbone of Twilight Company.

While Twilight Company is easily enjoyed on its own, much of the events of the novel tie in directly with the various stories compiled in the recently released Rise of the Empire bind up, which includes the novels Tarkin and A New Dawn as well as three short stories, the story “Bottleneck” specifically setting up the backstory of one of the major players in Twilight Company. This is an example of the synergy made possible by the LucasFilm Story Group established in 2014, currently overseeing the development of a single, cohesive Star Wars canon, and the novel is easily the most continuity-building of the new novels thus far.

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company’s dense and layered storytelling eschews the traditional Star Wars black-and-white flavoring in favor of a darker and more personal tale of varying. Explosive action scenes and dark humor only punctuate this character-driven tale, and the hardcore Star Wars fan will appreciate its heavy world-building and cameos from other characters throughout the Star Wars pantheon.

Battlefront_Twilight_Company_cover
Hardcover/Released November 3, 2015, 390 pages

Top 10 Japanese Horror Films That Aren’t About Ghost Or Kaiju

Japanese horror films or J-horror have always been a force to be reckoned with. The country has produced some of the scariest, weirdest and most extreme films the genre has known. In Western pop culture, people normally think of giant monsters (aka Kaiju) or ghost children when it comes to horror flicks from Japan, though the country has produced a diverse wealth of them spanning multiple subgenres. Here, in no order, are ten of the country’s best horror films that feature neither of those things.

Suicide Club (2002)

During the late 90’s to mid 2000’s Japan was making many controversial horror films, one of the most notable being Suicide Club. The film is about police investigating a wave of unconnected suicides and is most notorious for a scene where schools girls happily jump in front of a train. Despite having such a dark subject matter, the film has plenty of humor. Recommended for fans of films that are disturbing and funny at the same time.

Versus (2000)

Versus is a horror, comedy, martial arts, gunplay fusion directed by the now acclaimed Ryuhei Kitamura. Set in a place known as The Forrest of Resurrection, a gang of Yakuzas fights hordes of zombies while trying to stop their leader from opening a portal to hell. With good laughs, gore and fight choreography, the film has stuff to please just about any kind of geek. In 2004 an extended edition called Ultimate Versus was released. This is the best version to see.

Wicked City (1987)

In the 1980’s anime was known for being very violent and this horror anime is a prime example of that. Set near the dawn of the year 2000, a human agent named Taki and a female demon named Makie take on a group of demons called The Radicals. They must also protect a 200-year-old man named Giuesspi who is the only one who can bring peace to the human and demon worlds. The film mixes frightening visuals with high-octane action and explicit gore and nudity and never feels slow for a minute, but at the same time is able to tell a good story.

Kuroneko (1968)

During a civil war, two women are raped and murdered by samurai. After the war, many samurai start mysteriously dying. A young hero is then called in from the government who are convinced it’s the work of a demon. Though the film’s plot does involve ghosts, the film is not structured like a ghost movie and is different in style than what Japan’s horror scene would be known for.  The black and white look mixed with its feudal setting gives the film great atmosphere. The acting is also very good and you really feel for the characters, something that is lost in a lot of horror.

Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis (1988)

Yet another genre blender, this film mixes horror with science fiction and historical fantasy. The plot is about a demonic reincarnation of an old Japaneses emperor on a mission to destroy all of Toyko. The film was a major part of the occult crazes that swept Japan from the late 80’s-early 90’s. Though very slow at times, this film is full of atmosphere and a story that just draws you in and shocks you at when it wants to. The emperor from this film was the inspiration for M. Bison from the game series Street Fighter.

Onibaba (1964)

From Kaneto Shindo, director of Kuroneko, comes another feudal era horror film. Two women have a hobby that involves killing soldiers and stealing their belongings. The women then meet a mysterious man who wears a bizarre mask. Like Kuronekothe film’s setting and lack of color give it good atmosphere. The free-jazz and tribal score also help give the film a bit of a bizarre tone. If Akira Kurosawa made a horror film, it would be Onibaba.

Tetsuo:The Iron Man (1989)

Shinya Tsukamoto is known for directing some of Japan’s craziest films and Tetsuo is no exception. The film is about a businessman who accidentally kills a man who has a fetish for sticking scrap metal in his body. The businessman then starts sprouting metal appendages such as drills out of random parts of his body (not making this up). Shot in black and white and on a low budget this film feels like Eraserhead on crack.  The industrial score is also very good and fits the film perfectly. The film would get two sequels, Tetsuo II: The Body Hammer and Tetsuo: Bullet Man.

Vampire Hunter D (1985)

Based on the first of the Vampire Hunter D novels, this film is horror anime at it’s finest. In the year 12,090 AD, a young woman named Doris hires a half-vampire half human named D to protect her from a powerful vampire lord who has bitten her and wants to make her his new bride. Vampire Hunter D is mostly known as the film that inspired the game series Castlevania. Some of the similarities include Doris using a whip as her main weapon and D resembling recurring Castlevania character Alucard. In 2000, the film would receive a sequel titled Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, based on the third book in the series.

Ichi The Killer (2001) 

Considered to be one of the most disturbing films of all time. The film is directed by famed Japanese director Takashi Miike and is based off the manga of the same name. The film is about a Yakuza named Kakihara who gets turned on when he feels pain. While torturing a rival Yakuza, he learns of an assassin named Ichi who is a great martial artist who gets turned on when he inflicts pain (not making this up) . The film was banned in many countries due to its explicit violence. Though it is full of shock value, the film doesn’t fail in the story and character departments. The film has a prequel called 1-Ichi, which is done in the style of an anime.

Audition (1999)

Also from Takashi Miike, Audition is one of the most well-known and greatest J-horror films out there. A father who lost his wife looks for a new girlfriend. The method he uses is a false movie audition held by his friend, who is a filmmaker. Eventually, he finds the girl he wants. The two relate real well though, though the film hints that this girl is not right in the head, leading to an unforgettable climax. The film is known for its roller coaster-like story structure. Most of it is like a romantic drama with hints of horror; you know things are going to get bad, but you don’t know when. The film is very disturbing and creepy without the use of much onscreen gore.

Top 13 Non Romero Zombie Films

October is around again, the time of year where everyone binges on horror films. To celebrate his one year anniversary on the site, Anthony has decided to bring the horror lists back from the dead. While last year he talked about slashers, this time he goes into the zombie sub-genre… just none of these zombie films are directed by horror master George A Romero, pioneer of the genre renowned for his … of the Living Dead films.

 

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)

We start the list off with a serving from Spain. The film is about the Knights Templar coming back from the dead. They are blind due to having their eyes pecked out when they were hung on the gallows, but they are still pretty deadly. The film contains the great atmosphere and visuals that Spanish horror is known for and it helped kick start a boom of films from that country. The film would later get three sequels,none of which would connect story wise.

28 Days Later (2002)

Directed by acclaimed director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting,Slumdog Millionaire) this film is credited for bringing the zombie genre back from the dead! A man wakes up from a 28 day coma to a word over run by people infected by a rage virus. The film put a new spin on the genre by using a virus instead of the undead making these zombies faster and more violent. The score is also very well done something rare for scores done during this time period. The sequel 28 Weeks Later is also pretty good.

City of the Living Dead (1980)

Italian director Lucio Fulci was made many great films including some in the zombie sub genre. City of the Living Dead is one of those greats. The film is about a reporter and a psychic race to close the gates of hell after a clergyman’s suicide caused them to open. While these gates are open all kinds of strange and evil things happen as well as you know zombies! The film has good dark atmosphere as well as some really brutal deaths that you will not be able to unsee!

Deadgirl (2008)

From writer Trent Haaga, known for his Troma films Citizen Toxie and Terror Firmer, comes a different kind of film. The film is about two teens that skip school to go to an abandoned mental hospital where they find a tied girl who is of the undead. The boys do what any person would do if they saw a zombie girl… make her their sex slave (not making this up). Thing is those shackles won’t hold forever! The film is very disturbing and caused controversy when it came out though it was also praised for being smarter than most teen horrors.

https://youtu.be/tHWAoKzHut8

Brain Dead (1992)

Known as Dead Alive in the states, this New Zealand horror-comedy is one of Peter Jackson’s earliest films. The film is about a man whose mother is bitten by a when visiting a zoo. The woman becomes a zombie and this slowly starts an outbreak. Considered the goriest film of all time at its releases, the film is a fusion of Monty Python humor and splatter gore. Anything can possibly happen in this film.

White Zombie (1932)

This early Bela Lugosi film is considered to be the very first zombie film. In this film a man goes to a witch doctor to try to find a lure the woman he loves away from her fiance. Instead the witch doctor turns her into a zombie and then turns the man into one soon. The finance of the woman then travels to Haiti to find his lost lover after he finds out she is in fact not dead. Instead of the living dead, this film is about people under the control of voodoo. The film would eventually get a sequel called Revolt of the Zombies.

Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)

Known as Cemetery Man in the states this Italian film is a very distinct one. This genre blender of horror, black comedy and romance tells the story of a young cemetery caretaker who battles undead all awhile looking for love. With great jokes, beautiful atmosphere and visuals and very Gothic feel, this flick is a must watch for all zombie lovers.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Speaking of horror, romance and comedy fusions, Shaun of the Dead is the debut film by acclaimed director Edgar Wright. Shaun is just a man with your typical family problems… he just tries fixing them while a zombie apocalypse is going on! Though this film is normally thought of as a straight comedy, plenty of horror elements still exist.

Zombi 2 (1979)

Though films tied to Romero’s dead series are excluded from this list, Zombi 2 gets a pass for being an unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead. Fucli’s first attempt at a zombie film, this film is very gory and has several iconic scenes including one where a zombie fights a shark.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

A woman named Mary is riding around in a car with some friends. The car falls of a bridge and all of them die except Mary. She then gets a job as an organist for a church. She then starts seeing weird and disturbing images including zombies that seem to be coming for her. Layered with atmosphere; Carnival of Souls influenced many and is still shown at festivals to this day.

Re-Animator (1985)

Adaptations of H.P Lovecraft’s stories tend to normally be bad, but Re-Animator is one of the few diamonds in that rough. Herbert West is a new student at a medical school who is trying to find a way to bring the dead back to life. It works but not in the way he’s planned! While really really gory, this film also has a good sense of humor and characters. The film would get two sequels, Bride of the Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator.

The Beyond (1981)

A woman inherits an old hotel and not too long after many bizarre and horrid events happen (including zombies of course). She later learns that this place was built on one of the seven layers of Hell. A horror masterpiece and Fulci’s best work by far, The Beyond is a must watch for anyone into horror. Mixing splatter gore with weird, artsy horror, this film unites both cinema snobs and exploitation lovers everywhere.

Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Directed by film legend Dan O’ Bannon, Return of the Living Dead is the most popular none Romero zombie film. In this horror comedy three men and a group of punks end up having to deal with a horde of the undead. These zombies crave brains instead of human flesh and can only be killed with fire or electricity. The soundtrack includes songs from punk classics such as The Cramps and The Damned. Loads of fun is to be had when watching time capsule of the 1980’s. The film would receive two theatrical sequels and two SYFY channel sequels.

 

Interview: “Godfather of Gore” HG Lewis Talks Upcoming film Bloodmania

Herschel Gordon Lewis is a man who has made films in many genres, but he is most known for creating the horror sub genre known as splatter, a style of horror known for tongue and cheek humor and lots of gore. Because of this he is commonly referred to as the “Godfather of Gore”. Some of his best splatter projects include the 1963 proto-slasher  Blood Feast1964’s redneck horror film 2,000 Maniacs and the bizarre and gruesome, The Wizard of Gore from 1970. Though hated by just about every film critic back when these films were made, Lewis is now considered a horror legend due to his influence on the genre.

Lewis has recently made a film titled Herschel Gordon Lewis’s Bloodmania a horror anthology film involving him and Canadian filmmakers Kevin Littlelight and Melanie Reinboldt. I recently had the chance to email interview the man on this upcoming films as well as his legacy.

On new film:
The full title is “Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BloodMania. It’s four unrelated episodes, shot in or near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I wrote one and directed two. The other screenplays and directors are Canadian.

https://youtu.be/BPBYyCH-J1E

On filming process:

I’ve never worked with a more dedicated and more talented crew. Funny stories will have to wait. My only negative comment is that I could shoot two more features during the length of time editing has taken up

On becoming a cult icon:
I’m extraordinarily pleased. That’s especially true when I look back at the early days, when the entire motion picture industry regarded me as an outlaw.

On being called “The Godfather of Gore”:
I do agree. Blood Feast was, regardless of film making quality or the lack of it, the first “splatter film.” Looking for a theme the major film companies had avoided, I decided to experiment. I spent as little money as I could without abandoning blood and guts beyond anyone’s expectations. The “experts” laughed and ridiculed … until box office results shocked them into reality.

On personal favorite none splatter film:
She-Devils on Wheels… and The Uh-Oh Show, a semi-gore film which in my opinion has been painfully amateurish in its distribution.

On being an author:
My books all are related to marketing. The best-seller, now in its fourth edition, is titled “On the Art of Writing Copy.”

Advice to young filmmakers:
Don’t let your ego take command. Don’t cast any friends unless they’re professional actors. Constantly remind yourself that you’re entertaining people who don’t know you.

On film he would like to see turned into musical:
Two Thousand Maniacs. Put an investment group together and you can be the producer.

 

Josh Homme, Mark Lanegan & Iggy Pop Are In A New Silent Film

Gutterdämmerung seems to be a portmanteau of the English “gutter” and the German “götterdämmerung” (or just an Anglicization of the word), which means roughly means “a collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder.” The word is a German translation of the Old Norse ” Ragnarök” a prophetic concept in Norse mythology which foretells a large and all-consuming battle between deities which would to extravagent chaos and disarray, as dramatized in Richard Wagner’s opera series, also entitled “Götterdämmerung.” Enough background.

Importantly, there is a spooky awesome independent film in the works from the Belgian-Swedish visual artist Bjorn Tagemose, entitled “Gutterdämmerung.” A tribute to 1920’s Hollywood (the era’s horror genre to be specific), the tagline is the “loudest silent movie on Earth.” This may not be a complete exaggeration. The film will be “silent”, if you exclude the dark, heavy soundtrack that will be accommodate the film at all points. Instead of the ragtime piano or organs prevalent in old-timey film, the website says the soundtrack is performed by  “a live rock band of rock express the emotions and action whilst special effects from the film explode to life all around the audience.” Though exact artistic details of the soundtrack have not been released, several figures from alternative rock, metal and punk are starring in the film – which may give some hints to what the soundtrack will sound like. So far, the film’s cast has been announced as Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Josh Homme (listed as Joshua Homme), Motorhead’s Lemmy, solo artist and ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegen, famed Black Flag singer and inspiration speaker/comedian combo Henry Rollins, Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes, Slayer’s Tom Araya, solo artist Grace Jones and the one and only Iggy Pop.

The website is hosting a contest for tickets and merchandise to guess the two remaining co-stars. The film is expected to be released sometime in 2016. The film’s Facebook page lists the project as a “concert tour”…perhaps all the collaborating musicians will go on tour together to promote the project? We’ll have to see.

Watch a promotional trailer for the film below:

 

Review: The Force Is Strong With ‘Star Wars: Aftermath’

You must unlearn what you have learned…

Such is the mantra of Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath, the most ambitious and groundbreaking entry in Star Wars literary canon since 1991’s Heir to the Empire.

Aftermath is the first officially canon novel (and tie-in product, in general) to explore the aftermath of the Death Star II’s destruction and the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Does it answer all the seething questions you may have about the newly wiped clean 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens? No, but Wendig does a fine job of telling an intimate family drama on Imperial-controlled Akiva while also painting broader strokes of the galaxy-at-large, caught in a war between the Galactic Empire and the fledgling New Republic.

Wendig’s distinct method of prose might be off putting to some fans; rather than painting a scene via infodumping like most Star Wars authors before him, Wendig uses a combination of short and snappy sentences alongside present tense, making Aftermath’s storytelling tight and concise with a nice flow.

At the core of Aftermath is the relationship between Rebel pilot Norra Wexley and her son, Temmin, simultaneously a childhood prodigy and a rebellious, angry youth who is reluctant to forgive his mother for leaving Akiva to fight the tyrannical Galactic Empire. After the shattered Empire reconvenes in the Akiva system and effectively blockades the sector, capturing ace Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles in the process, Norra is forced to drag her son into the conflict he never wanted part of, and crosses paths with a colourful supporting cast of allies: Snarky Imperial turncoat and drunkard Sinjir Rath Velus, aspiring alien bounty hunter Jas Emari, and a reprogrammed Trade Federation battle droid named Bones who just about steals every scene that he’s part of.

On the other side of the war is the Imperial Future Council led by Admiral Rae Sloane, a strong and cunning officer determined to bring the Empire back from the brink of death. She’s caught between a squabbling cabal of Imperial advisers, financiers, and military officers who have their own vision of a future Empire. Sloane, introduced in John Jackson Miller’s A New Dawn, is already one of the most intriguing aspects of the new canon, and Wendig handles Miller’s creation with utmost care and reverence to her original appearance: “Forget the old way”. Her Imperial cohorts are a bit more two dimensional, though a standout in the cast is the enigmatic Tashu, a dark-side cultist and adviser of Emperor Palpatine.

In between chapters focusing on the main storyline are “Interludes”, painting a picture of how individuals across different planets affected by the war respond to the changing status quo and the shift of power to the New Republic. You’ll meet familiar faces and concepts in these little vignettes, many of which may be setting up story threads for The Force Awakens and future novels. You’ll learn more about the true fate of Boba Fett, dive into the politics of the New Republic through the viewpoint of Supreme Chancellor Mon Mothma, and catch up with a certain scruffy nerf-herder and his walking carpet. These interludes break up the story nicely without disrupting the narrative’s flow.

Chuck Wendig brings a fresh new voice to the Star Wars saga with his distinct prose and an eye for diversity, while his snapshots of galactic life bring a sense of scale unlike any Star Wars novel has seen. If this is any indication of the direction this franchise’s storytelling is headed, sign me up.

aftermath

 

Top 7 Wes Craven Films (That Aren’t Nightmare Or Scream)

We recently lost one of the horror genre’s heroes, Wes Craven. The man is most known for creating one of horror’s best mascots with A Nightmare on Elm Street as well starting the slasher revival with Scream. The general public tends to forget the man made many more films. Kicking off Alternative Nation’s Halloween 2015 editorials, here are a few of Craven’s best films that don’t star Freddy Krueger or Ghostface.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQj2GKwKp5w&w=420&h=315]

Deadly Friend (1986)

Paul Conway is a young child prodigy whose best friend is a robot he built named BB (who has nothing on robot BB-8 in the new Star Wars flick). He also has a crush on his neighbor Samantha, who is constantly beaten by her drunk father. One day, the two decide to play a prank on the town’s crazy lady, Elvira. This goes horribly wrong: BB ends up getting destroyed and Sam’s father throws her down the stairs, leaving her braindead. Paul decides to use BB’s chip to bring Samantha back. It works, but she doesn’t come back normal!

This movie is ultra cheesy but tons of fun. Originally it was supposed to be a sci-fi thriller that focused more on story, but the studio forced Craven to add scenes of gore and nightmares. Maybe one day we will see the original cut.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXm8BeWT304&w=420&h=315]

Shocker (1989)

Horace Pinker is a psychotic TV repairman on a killing spree. This all ends when a football player Jonathan turns him in and Pinker his given the electric chair. Before his death, he sells his soul to Satan and fuses with electricity, giving him the power to travel through power lines, TVs, and even people (not making this up).

This film is 80’s cheese at its best. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and gets weirder and weirder as it progresses. If you enjoyed A Nightmare on Elm Street then you should be able to enjoy this one.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAFDHyH8buQ&w=560&h=315]

Red Eye (2005)

Red Eye is a thriller about a woman (Rachael McAdams) riding a red eye flight to Miami. While on this plan she meets a man (Cillian Murphy) who at first seems really friendly… until he kidnaps her. She is then forced to assist him in a plot to kill a politician or else he kills her father. Showcasing a different style from Craven, the film feels very Hitchcock influenced. With well crafted suspense and a threatening performance from Cillian Murphy, this film will keep you at the edge of your seat.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPWTvbTWhZc&w=420&h=315]

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

Starring Bill Pullman and based on the none fiction book of the same name, The Serpent and the Rainbow is one of Craven’s weirder films. Pullman plays an anthropologist who, after hearing about a drug that turns people into zombies, travels to Haiti to investigate. Like every movie with voodoo in it, this film is very surreal. Those who think that Wes Craven’s films are never intelligent should give this one a watch.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzbqK4nw3R8&w=420&h=315]

Swamp Thing (1982)

Based on the DC superhero of the same name, Swamp Thing is one of the most underrated comic book movies out there. Dr. Alex Holland is transformed into the creature swamp thing when a lab sabotage is pulled by the evil Dr. Anton Arcane. He ends up helping out a woman named Alice Cable. The film is more of an action film with some horror elements. Craven made this movie to prove that he can do more than just horror… and he proved it well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEyQIcuGwDw&w=420&h=315]

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Set in the ghetto, this film tells the story of a 13 year old boy named Fool. When attempting to rob the house of his family’s insane landlords, Fool, along with two others, get trapped in their house. They then face the horrors inside and learn some very dark secrets. Craven tackles disturbing themes such as incest and child abuse, but at the same time the film is very comical. The characters are also very memorable and the script is pretty original, making this a film that should be in any horror fan’s collection.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95C1wxkwMeA&w=560&h=315]

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Back in his early days, Wes made exploitation films. The Hills Have Eyes is about a family that has their car break down very far from civilization who are then attacked by inbred cannibals and captures Katy, the baby of the oldest daughter Lynne and her boyfriend Doug. After the attack, the surviving family members fight the cannibals to rescue Katy from their clutches. The film is very brutal and has very memorable characters. Deformed actor Micheal Berryman, who played one of the cannibals, is now a horror icon.

A sequel was made in 1984 which wasn’t very good… Wes Craven himself has admitted that he only made the sequel because he needed money. In 2006, the film was remade by french horror director Alexander Aja. This remake would end up being one of the best remakes of the 2000’s.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W9KPhmYYtg&w=560&h=315]

The Last House on the Left (1972)

Wes Craven’s first film is also his most controversial. Inspired by the Ingmar Berman classic The Virgin Spring, this film tells the story of two young girls Mari and Phylliss. They are on their way to a rock concert. At the same time, two thugs, Krug and Weasel, as well as Krug’s girlfriend Sadie and drug addicted son are hiding out not too far from the venue. The girls are eventually kidnapped, sadistically tortured then murdered. Krug and company later drive off, but their car breaks done in front of a strange house. The old couple that lives there lets them stay the night. Little do they know this old couple are Mari’s parents!

Though this film has a few scenes of pointless comic relief, this is Craven’s most vile and raw film. It is also one of the most popular films of the grindhouse era, even appealing to some people who don’t normally like these kind of films. This was also the first time Craven started a trend, as many clones were spawned, the best of these being House on the Edge of the Park which stars David Hess in a role very similar to his own in this. The film was remade in 2009 with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul.

Star Wars: Dark Disciple Author Remembers Christopher Lee

The fifth entry in the well oiled machine that is Lucasfilm and Disney’s canon line of adult Star Wars novels, Dark Disciple (releasing 7/7) is based on unproduced scripts for The Clone Wars animated series’ scrapped seventh (and possibly eighth) season, written by George Lucas’s daughter Katie and adapted to novel form by Christie Golden.

Dark Disciple is a swashbuckling adventure story starring fan favorite characters who first became notable in the now non-canon Expanded Universe, Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos. Christie Golden and Katie Lucas playfully inject new life into these characters while remaining faithful to their dark backstories, pairing them on a mission marked with romance, intrigue, and vengeance. At the center of it all is Count Dooku, the charismatic leader of the Confederate forces fighting the Republic in the Clone Wars.

Eerily, Count Dooku actor Christopher Lee passed away last month as the book went into first printing, and as such, Dark Disciple serves as a sort of unintentional swan song for the storied actor whose “villainous” career spanned everything from the classic Hammer horror films to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Katie and Christie perfectly captured the essence of what makes Christopher Lee such a great cinematic villain, balancing his elegant mannerisms with marks of cruelty in their characterization of Dooku.

I recently had the chance to chat with Christie Golden via email, who had nothing but praise for the late, great Sir Christopher Lee…

Given so much of this novel is based around his character, do you have any words for the late Sir Christopher Lee? 

Christopher Lee… wow, this one hurt.  Although honestly, our time in life is finite, and how marvelous to have lived an exciting and meaningful personal life, to have created timeless characters that will live on for those not even born yet to see them, and to be healthy and pursuing work one loves all the way up to one’s 90s.  When I got to write Dooku, I had that lovely, rich voice in my head, Christopher’s expressions and body language, to draw from.  There’s one scene I wrote where I had Dooku do Something Really Awful, something cruel and subtle and dripping with cultured malice, and I was reminded all over again that Christopher Lee was Dooku, and he was a total badass.  I’m so sad, but he lived his life magnificently, and we are all richer for it.  RIP.

Count_Dooku
Christopher Lee (27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015) as Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002).

Having based this novel on unproduced Clone Wars scripts, how much did you get to play around with your own contributions? Did you make any changes to things such as character species and such for the novel?

Novelizations are interesting projects on the media spectrum. Unlike tie-in novels, they are assuredly direct adaptations of an existing project, not original stories, but they have a so much more room for the novelizer to take the story.  My goal was to remain faithful to the feel of the original as well as using a great amount of the dialogue as written, and keeping the key events.  I did get to introduce new characters and new arcs (the Mahran are mine, as is Lassa Rhayme), which is always fun.  There were also some references or lines that were brief in the scripts, but I thought warranted a much deeper treatment.  Also, some things work beautifully on the screen, but not so well in the written medium, and vice versa.  I’ve done this type of work before, and the decisions as to what to develop, what to leave as is, and what to rework are calls the author must make.

christie
Christie Golden.

You essentially took scripts aimed at the 13 year old boy and added adult themes to them, and the novel was previously marketed as being skewered to an adult audience, which was impossible on Cartoon Network. How did you know just how much innuendo and, eh, “full on gambits” to include?

Ha! You’d be a little surprised at how much of that was actually in the scripts.  A lot of the flirting was already there, including the term”full-on gambit.” What I got to do was bring the potential at least of a physical consummation of a very profound passion. I strove to leave exactly how far things went up to the individual reader, but this is obviously something deep and strong, not a mild flirtation.  It’s a fine line to walk, and there was a bit of back and forth at how much was appropriate to spell out directly. I hoped to capture the intensity of their connection without anything explicit.

How different was it writing Dark Disciple than your earlier, pre Canon works, now with the Lucasfilm Story Group in place? Did you get to meet with Katie Lucas and Dave Filoni/The Clone Wars team?

Alas, that was not to be!  I had a few conference calls with the usual suspects (Shelly Shapiro, Jen Heddle, Pablo Hidalgo), and there were definitely things we made sure Dave Filoni was on board with.  Via email, he often answered questions or offered his take on how to work something differently.  I did have the great pleasure of meeting him at Celebration, and was so pleased to hear how much he (and others at Lucasfilm) had enjoyed my treatment of their work.

In “Dark Disciple” you bring the film canon version of Quinlan Vos this much closer to his Legends counterpart. How much did you draw from the original source material? Some liken the new Star Wars continuity to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which mixes and matches aspects of the original source material into something new.

Since we were doing a reboot of canon, I wanted to make sure that everything I drew from was actually there, in canon form. I really wanted this story to be pure canon, so I actually tried not to read up on what had happened in the Legends universe. As you say, it’s obvious that the goal was to bring in some of that Legends “feel” to Vos. Many readers had expressed concern that Vos was sort of a “surfer dude” in TCW, but let’s remember, that was only one episode.  And while that playful aspect is certainly a key part of his personality in Dark Disciple,  it was clear to me as I read the scripts that the goal was to take him to some very dark places.

The initial flirtations between Ventress and Vos are similar to that of Han and Leia, yet their relationship really takes on its own warped identity. How did you approach this relationship when you were filling in the nuances that were obviously absent in the original TV scripts?

I was so fortunate to be tapped for this project as it really played to my strengths: character, dialogue, and that whole “what makes good people go bad” thing that, along with the “triumph of the human spirit,” is a theme I am constantly wanting to explore.  I watched and rewatched the Ventress episodes till I knew her very deeply–I could “see” all her reactions, hear her gravelly but silky voice, and anticipate her body language.  With Vos, I watched “Hunt for Ziro” and also paid close attention to the animatics of the first four episodes I was given.  I felt they really had chemistry and it was easy to sort of fall in step beside them.

asajj-ventress-yellow-lightsaber-star-wars-dark-disciple
Ventress, with her new yellow lightsaber, in an unproduced episode of The Clone Wars.

There are certain changes to characters that happen in this novel. If this would have been adapted as part of the television show, would thee changes have been the new status quo for a period of time? Did you condense a story arc that was broken up over the course of a season or two with “Dark Disciple”?

There were indications of time passing between certain episodes, so I am fairly certain this was intended to be a long-playing arc that interspersed with other storylines.

Are there any canon subjects in the Star Wars universe you’d like to take on in the future with Dark Disciple ready for release?

I had a dream come true when I met Mark Hamill at Celebration. I had the chance to tell him I had been 13 in 1977 and grew up to write SWs books, and that his performance in the trilogy truly changed my life and set me on my path.  He asked if I were still writing, obviously addressing the new canon.  I was delighted to reply “yes,” So honestly?  Anything to do with Luke Skywalker makes me go back to the summer of ’77 and would make me outrageously happy and humbled.

Interview: Documentary Filmmaker Is Seeking Young Bands For Grindcore Movie

Not too long ago I interviewed Katherine Katz of grindcore outfit Agoraphobic Nosebleed, when she mentioned an upcoming documentary called Slave to the Grind – A Film About Grindcore. The film is going to tell the history of the grindcore genre and will be released on December 1st, 2017. Not long after, I conducted an email interview with Doug Brown, director of the film, who discussed how you could be a part of the project.

Tell us about your film: what made you decide to do a documentary on grindcore? 

Making this film has been on my mind for quite some time. I started taking the idea seriously close to two years ago as I was finishing my last film, Never Enough. It was a full year of making contact with musicians, assembling a competent crew (who was willing to get roughed up in a pit with film equipment) and thinking critically about what I thought should be in a film on grind before we picked up camera. I’m a music history buff, and the origins/directions of music trends is fascinating to me. I know that metalheads and punks devour information on music they dig, and since there was nothing comprehensive on grind, I am taking a chance.

Will it be a straight forward documentary or done in a more experimental style like Montage of Heck?

We are still getting footage, so the style of the final cut is unknown. All I know is that it will be pretty intense.

Which bands are you going to cover? Are all of them confirmed or are you still searching for more?

We will be interviewing everyone we can, but this does not guarantee them a place in the film. There are too many important musicians in the genre, not to mention the importance of the underground/DIY aspect…which I would argue is as important as the big names. At the end of the day it will be about: fit, flow, history, and story-telling. Yes – most people will expect Napalm Death, Terorrizer, Brutal Truth, Discordance Axis… but this film will have many wide cards that some of the hardcore fans will be pleased to see.

And yes – we are still searching for more. In a band? Get in touch!

Are you willing to show case younger unknown bands?

Yes. Young bands are the lifeblood of the scene, and nothing is more DIY than playing a basement for a handful of friends. Grindcore is about the music, and nothing is more about the music than an unsigned band.

With all these grindcore bands playing big festivals, Napalm Death having their biggest year this year, and the hype that all these bands have been recently getting, do you feel grindcore is more popular now then it ever was?

If Grindcore is popular, it likely has to do with a few technological factors. Firstly, the internet has made it easier to reach an audience half way around the globe. The online presence of music can also present a scene that is non-existent. You’d be shocked how many bands with a huge following/digital presence still playing in front of the same number of people I saw them play in front of a decade ago. Grindcore is never going to massive, but it will always be strong.

I’ve also heard terms like ‘hipster grind’ thrown around – even describing bands like Insect Warfare and Grindlink. If that is Hip… then I guess I’m a hipster. But at the end of the day, this shit is all online. I don’t hear these conversations at shows/festivals. If all anyone understands about grindcore is what it ‘seems to be’ online, they need to get out to a show. Shows haven’t changed too much and that is the real community. Support your scene!

slave to the grind

Grind music on Alternative Nation: Check out our interviews with Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway, Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Katherine Katz, & Bill X Nye’s Nick Jackubowski.

How Stargate and Star Trek Paved the Way for the Disney Movie Universe

Ever since 2009, Disney has dominated the film and television market from underneath the Marvel Cinematic Universe banner. It is with this in mind that the Disney is now synonymous with Hollywood and often considered as the pioneer for bringing popular fantasy and cartoon characters to the silver screen.

Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe is not the first project to recreate fantasy stories for film and television, however, as famous series’ such as Star Trek and Stargate initially paved the way for such developments. These shows also established a template for showcasing complicated worlds with multiple narratives, all within an engaging, fantasy setting.

Let’s take Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek as an example. It is arguably the seminal cross-over franchise, even though it was a slow-burner in terms of gaining credibility and popularity among viewers. Debuting in 1966, it combined a focus on the prevalent social issues of the time with an engaging and thrilling fantasy narrative. This initially provided something of a shock to the system for viewers, as it effectively transcended genres and lacked a single focus for individuals to identify with.

As the show diversified with a new, animated series in 1973 and a second phase production run in 1977, however, it won an army of cult followers and laid the foundations for future genre-busting franchises. This eventually culminated with the launch of multiple Star Trek motion pictures, with films released throughout the 1980’s before being reinvested with ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ as we approached the new millennium. The success of this franchise underlines the potential that cross-genre programming has in the contemporary market, especially if brands intend to win over a new generation of fans and establish a cinematic universe.

While the success of franchises such as Star Trek may have created a template for brands such as Disney to follow, however, the latter have partnered with Marvel to expand to an entirely new level. So rather than simply transcending television genres and creating a cinematic universe, Disney and Marvel have also broken down the boundaries of modern media and entertainment channels to present their characters to a wider audience. From console and desktop games which have sold thousands to the most profitable Marvel slots, these modern franchises operate across multiple channels and outlets.

This creates far more lucrative and impactful franchises, and will now set the example for similar brands and studios to follow. Just as Paramount and MGM built their success on the appeal of iconic characters and franchises, Disney and Marvel have capitalised on technological advancement to expand further and engage fans through new channels. This has also opened up brand new money making opportunities, enabling companies to optimise their level of profitability over time. It also guarantees a greater legacy for individual stories and characters, with Disney and Marvel in particular able to reach out to a brand new demographic of adult fans.

Alternative Nation Review Of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

above: Kurt Cobain with daughter Frances Bean.

On Thursday, I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck at Seattle’s Egyptian Theatre, just a block from Linda’s Tavern, where Cobain was last seen alive. The film, which will premiere on HBO on May 4, is directed by Brett Morgen, who was granted access to a private archive of Cobain’s belongings by his widow Courtney Love in 2007. The previously unreleased material that Morgen found – revealed in an untouched storage unit of Love’s – makes up much of the film’s content. Montage of Heck is appropriately named: while it references a mixtape Cobain made as a teenager, it also describes the constant stream of videos, drawings, and recordings that drive the film.

Montage is set apart from other Cobain documentaries by its deeply personal experience, in contrast to more historical, musical, or biographical perspectives. The presence of Cobain’s often-intimate audio and visual art, as well as the sparse, family-oriented use of interviews, aids this personal touch. With vivid quality, we’re introduced to the various periods of Kurt’s life through family videos, acoustic or vocal recordings, diary entries, and much more. It’s a complete immersion into Cobain’s art and worldview, or as executive producer Frances Bean Cobain put it to Rolling Stone, “it’s the closest thing to having Kurt tell his own story in his own words — by his own aesthetic, his own perception of the world.”

It’s also clearly a Kurt-centric, rather than Nirvana-centric, documentary. The freedom Morgen has with Nirvana’s discography is noticeable, and tweaked versions of “All Apologies” and “Something in the Way” define some great scenes detailing Kurt’s childhood. The band’s rise to fame is represented by lively and immersive concert and behind-the-scenes footage, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle for Montage, and not the priority or focus. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is introduced by a title card as “Kurt’s Friend” rather than as his bandmate, and Krist’s interview is oriented more towards Kurt’s personality and psychology than his musical development. Additionally, an interview with Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl didn’t make it into the film in time for the Sundance Festival. For director Brett Morgen, this positioning of Nirvana was intentional. “This isn’t a film where I wanted to go interview everyone who played with Nirvana, nor is it a film where I wanted to interview any more than the base minimum of what I had to do, so it was almost like primal,” he told Consequence of Sound. “Like the mom, the dad, the sister, the first love, the wife, the best friend.”

The interviews that Morgen did include in the documentary, however, are certainly revealing. Courtney Love admits that she did heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean, although she and Cobain aggressively denied the notion in 1992 after a damning article was published about them in Vanity Fair. One of Kurt’s diary entries is also shown on screen, with Kurt noting his ten experiences with heroin between 1987 and 1990. Tracy Marander, Cobain’s first serious girlfriend, says that he never told her about doing heroin and that she never saw any evidence of it. Kurt’s mom Wendy O’Connor shares an emotional story about noticing her son’s weight loss and sores and confronting him about his heroin usage. O’Connor says that when she asked him about using needles to inject heroin, Kurt was too emotional and couldn’t respond.

Kurt’s father Don Cobain is interviewed for the first time about his son, alongside Kurt’s stepmom Jenny. They recall Kurt’s attitude and resentment towards them as well as the difficulties they had with Kurt after he was kicked out of his mom Wendy’s house. Meanwhile, with the help of surpisingly decent animation sequences as well as never-before-seen family videos, Kurt’s childhood is vividly reconstructed. Morgen constructs a nostalgic narrative in which the idyllic, hyperactive childhood of Cobain and the idealistic era of the 1960s were shattered by Don and Wendy’s divorce, resulting in Kurt’s social withdrawal. There might be some understandable mix of nostalgia and revisionism when Wendy O’Connor describes the picturesque nature of Aberdeen, WA, Cobain’s small hometown that was hit hard by the decline of the timber industry in the area in the 1970s and 1980s. Still, his perspective of social alienation, family rejection, and affinity for punk rock is made apparent and personal.

Beginning with the turbulence of his post-divorce childhood, Morgen draws out several incidents in Cobain’s life that reveal recurring elements of shame, and subsequent social withdrawal and depression, or rebellion and rage. One revealing story – told by Cobain in a previously unheard recording and put to life with animation – describes his awkward first sexual experience with a girl he describes as “not retarded” but “slow and illiterate.” After her father revealed the secret to their high school, Cobain felt so embarrassed that he got high and drunk and laid down on train tracks, waiting to be killed. The next train that came happened to be one track over, and Cobain was spared. It’s clear that Morgen wants the story to illustrate some common feelings of shame and its link with suicidality in Cobain’s life.

This might irritate some Cobain conspiracy types, who would argue that Montage of Heck is the product of a Courtney Love agenda. Love played no part in the artistic direction of the film, whereas Frances Bean, who loved the film, served as the executive producer. According to The Stranger, a woman at the Seattle director Q&A session Wednesday night “shouted her displeasure that the documentary was all ‘from Courtney [Love]’s point of view.’ As Morgen began to defend himself, the woman said she knew both Kurt and Courtney, and reiterated her point.”

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Frances Bean Cobain and Courtney Love with director Brett Morgen at the Sundance Film Festival.

Towards the end of the film, as Courtney is discussing Kurt’s hypersensitivity, she says that she never cheated on Kurt, but that the one time she thought about it and had the chance to do it, he could sense what she was up to. She then implies that this led to Cobain’s apparent suicide attempt in Rome in March of 1994. It’s another interesting and honest admission from Love and a revealing glimpse into Cobain’s last days. Cobain’s suicide is only addressed by a title sequence at the end of the film that states that he took his life one month after the Rome attempt at age 27.

Still, it’s clear from watching the film that Morgen’s initiative, rather than the family members’ agenda, are driving the film. A scene that Wendy O’Connor asked not to be included in the film was actually included in the final cut by Morgen. It’s difficult to watch: Cobain is clearly high on heroin while playing with Frances during her first haircut.

Although I missed the Q&A with director Morgen later that night, the Egyptian’s theater setting was a great way to experience the Montage of Heck. Never-before-seen footage, including extensive home videos from Kurt and Courtney’s time living in Los Angeles in 1992, is really valuable throughout. It humanizes Cobain like no other work has and I think many will get a fuller, although not any less confusing, understanding of Cobain’s life. Like executive producer Frances Bean, who labeled the project “emotional journalism” and wanted to avoid the “mythology” and “romanticism” of her father, Morgen produces the most intimate documentary about Cobain yet. With this goal in mind, as well as unprecedented access to Cobain’s personal art, notebooks, and tapes, Morgen produces a film richer in detail and more honest to its character than any previous Cobain doc.

Montage of Heck will premiere on HBO on May 4. You can check out the film’s limited theatrical screenings at HBO.

Exclusive: NIN, Pixies & AWOLNATION Members Discuss Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Off the heels of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, the world has reverted back to 1977, when the storied franchise was on everyone’s minds. Credit it to a trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens that even has the most skeptic of fans pumped. We’ve been asking most of our interviewees and staff as of late of their thoughts on the heavily anticipated sequel; hit the jump to hear what members of bands like Nine Inch Nails, Testament, Pixies, and our own humble website have to say.

Ilan Rubin (Nine Inch Nails/Angels & Airwaves drummer) – You know what, it looked really good. I’m really excited about it because Star Wars was an obsession of mine growing up. I went from dinosaurs to Star Wars, it’s something I’ve always enjoyed throughout my life. The original trilogy will always hold a special place in my heart along with most of the population on this globe. Obviously Episodes I, II, & III were disappointments, that were becoming less disappointing as they went on. This new trailer looked really good, and I’m excited for it. It had a darker element which I think is exciting. The prequels were too childish, especially The Phantom Menace!

Joey Santiago (The Pixies guitarist) – Looks awesome! I want to watch it. I haven’t watched any sequels… I watched the movies until those bears came in. What the hell were they called? I thought it was getting too commercial. I thought they were just going to sell dolls… but I’m looking forward to the new one.

Aaron Bruno (AWOLNATION frontman) – So far what I’ve seen is beyond epic and better than I ever imagined. It seems darker and right. I got chills and had a tear in my eye I was so excited! At first, I was gravely disappointed with [the prequels], except III, because you can watch Anakin truly lose his mind. They even suggested some terrible things he did which was hard to sell, but they were true to the story. Darker throughout the whole thing, it was ridiculous. I recently recently got to watch all six of them again, the original trilogy first, obviously, with someone who hadn’t seen them. I’ve been so far removed from the prequels that I was able to enjoy them more now… Darth Maul was an incredible character. I feel like he kind of died in whack way. I don’t like the way they killed him. [Doug points out he was resurrected in The Clone Wars animated series] Oh, yeah?

Eric Peterson (Testament guitarist) – The stuff they can do with movies nowadays… its amazing what they accomplished. I remember in 8th grade when the first Star Wars commercials were on TV and every kid was like “Did you see that?” I’m a huge science fiction fan so I can’t wait. I’m also a huge fan of Vikings, can’t get enough of it.

Waylon Krieger (Actor/Robby Krieger band frontman) – I met George Lucas indirectly once at Skywalker Ranch and was taken back by how humble he was. I only hope they can match episodes IV and V in quality.

Anthony “Tiny” Biuso (Session drummer) – I think it looks great! I think JJ Abrams is the best director choice they could make, because he knows what he’s doing. He is really a fan of that franchise and he definitely knows the genre. The trailer was a little vague, but I think it’s going to be great. I’m a big fan, but the last few movies were just horrible. I liked Return of the Jedi, but I know most people only liked the first two . I like all three of those. They have the bucks to do it. They have the craftsmen and producers to do that movie justice. Movies like that are really made or broke in the editing in the final process . I think Disney… oh what do I know, I’m a ****ing drummer.

Rick Warwick (Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders singer) – I am a Star Wars fan. Funny thing is I haven’t seen them till just a few years ago. I guess it was the punk in me but during the Star Wars crazy when everyone was going nuts for them I had no interest in seeing them. But a few years ago my daughter, who was 4 at the time, saw The Empire Strikes Back  for the first time on TV and fell in love with it. So we got her all six movies and she used to watch them constantly. I would watch them with her and fell in love with them myself. I am excited for the upcoming film. The trailer looks fantastic. We just have to wait and see how it is.

Nick Gray (Noiseheads singer/guitarist) – I’ve been a Star Wars fan forever – was basically my childhood. I think the new movie looks great so far. There are few directors that just know how to make a fun movie, and I think J.J. Abrams is one of them. I’m just hoping William Shatner shows up somewhere.

Ken Faggio (Manga author/Morpheus Descends bassist) –  I like what J.J. Abrams did with the Star Trek movies, so I’m optimistic about it. The fact that he is a fan of the original movies is a good thing, so I think he’ll do them justice, but you’re never going to please everyone. No matter how good something is there will always be someone who has something they don’t like. For every Darth Maul there’s a Jar Jar Binks. I think the biggest problem with Star Wars fans is that they want that same sense of wonder they had when they saw first movie and no matter how good anything is that comes after that, it’s never going to measure up.

Josh Schifris (Lesch-Nyhan drummer) – I honestly flipped! With the first trailer I was a tad disappointed but the second one got me so hyped… not just because Han Solo had the cameo… the deceased Darth Vader, the new TIES and X wings… that awesome looking Sith Lord!

Greg Capra (Striven guitarist/Grunge Metal Graveyard host) – When I first heard the news that Disney haf acquired LucasFilms, I was skeptical. Alright, let’s be real. I’m still skeptical! But with a teaser of the Star Destroyer having crash landed in the desert and Harrison Ford (Just For Men Version) back to kick some ass with Chewbacca, I can’t wait to watch Episode VII on Christmas Day!!

Josh Hadley (Alternative Nation guest contributor/Radiodrome podcast) – It just looks like a sad and vain attempt to fix the massive damage that Lucas did to the franchise and it just comes off as desperate.

Jeremy Neubauer (Rock Show Radio founder/Alternative Nation Radio manager) – I like the Star Trek reboots because I think [JJ Abrams] stayed true to the spirit of Star Trek while still making them ‘modern’, and from the looks of the Star Wars trailers it’s going to be more of the same. As long as there are no characters like Jar Jar Binks, I have no doubt he will succeed!

Brett Buchanan (AlternativeNation.net owner/Darth Vader to Billy Corgan’s Emperor) – Jar Jar should be the Sith Lord guy.

Doug McCausland (The sad individual who wrote this article/Han Solo) – Brett Buchanan kept telling me about how much Attack of the Clones sucked while simultaneously giving me a play by play and telling me how cool every scene was. I think he’s in denial. But yeah, I cried like a baby when Han Solo and Chewbacca showed up.

Riley Rowe (Alternative Nation reporter/Luke Skywalker) – While the hype is out of the roof on this movie, I’m trying to keep my expectations low. This has the potential to be on either side of the spectrum in regards to entertainment and quality. I have respect for JJ Abrams for what he did with the recent Star Trek movies, but he has so many different demographics and audiences to pander to with this one. The fact that Harrison Ford will be in it makes me slightly nervous due to the sub-par last Indiana Jones.

Anthony Carioscia (Alternative Nation metal guru/Greedo) – I think it looks awesome. Getting Star Wars out of Lucas’s hands is what saved the franchise. Now if we ever a movie set in the Knights of the Old Republic timeline, I can die happy.

Travis Weiss (Alternative Nation contributor/R2-D2) –You had my curiosity, now you have my attention”. Also, it was pretty badass to have the wrecked spaceship in the desert.

“Birdman” Dan (Alternative Nation producer/Roargh singer/guitarist/C-3PO) – I am not a fan of Star Wars past the originals.

Austin Eddington (Alternative Nation contributor/Kyle Katarn) – I think that the new style the Empire has going on is pretty cool. They look like they were designed by Apple. Pretty fitting for the bad-guys.

Gabe Brady (Voice actor/Alternative Nation contributor/Lando Calrissian) – I wonder who Luke was talking to in the beginning of the trailer…

Mike Mazzarone (Alternative Nation booking manager/head reporter/Jar Jar Binks) – Uhh, Spock is cool, I guess.

Interviews with Anthony Biuso and Eric Peterson originally conducted by Anthony Carioscia. Quotes range from November 2014 to April 2015. Lord Vader finds Lauren Gornik and Tim Branom's lack of faith.. disturbing. 

Members Of Pixies, Thin Lizzy, Ministry, & More Talk “The Bridge” Movie

The Bridge, written and directed by Bobby Field, is a rock and roll story starring a diverse cast of classic rock, metal, and alternative musicians. Alternative Nation reporters Doug McCausland, Riley Rowe, and Anthony Carioscia interviewed several cast members of the film: Joey Santiago of the Pixies, Sin Quirin of Ministry, renowned session drummer Tiny Biuso, and Ricky Warwick of Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders. Instead of hearing it from me, read on for some quotes directly from these individuals to get a feel of what The Bridge is about…

What can we expect of this film in general? 

Sin: It’s a rock n’ roll film and is definitely geared towards fans of rock music. Basically, it’s about this small town prodigy who needs to free himself from his dark past and cross a bridge and see where he ends up.

Tiny Biuso: We start shooting that hopefully in mid 2015.

How did you initially get involved with The Bridge?

Joey Santiago: It was simple as getting in contact with Bobby Field, who is directing and wrote the script.

Sin Quirin: I was initially introduced by a mutual friend of Bobby. I went down and met with Bobby and did a quick on-camera interview and I was in. They sent me the script and I really dug all the other actors and musicians involved in it and that’s how I got involved.

Tiny Biuso: This was given to me by a mutual friend, Metal Sanaz. She is a television and internet personality and does a lot of music events and stuff like that. I think Bobby had mentioned to her that he was looking for musicians to play characters in his movie, and she said “You gotta ask Anthony Tiny Biuso” because he’s a character!

Ricky Warwick: A friend of a friend, Bobby, contacted me. I read the script and met up with Bobby Field, the director. Just seemed like a great idea! It just appealed to me being a musician from a small private island. It was similar to something I’ve been through personally. I can’t wait to be in the movie… I have no interest in becoming an actor, but I’ve always wanted to be in a film. I read the script to the movie and saw who was in it and it just looked like fun.

Can you tell us about the character you will be portraying? 

Joey Santiago: I’ll be playing a sleazy motel owner…

Ricky Warwick: I play Nathan and he is a drug dealer. It’s not a major part, but it’s something. He’s not only a drug dealer, he’s strung out on drugs as well. I’ve known a few drug dealers in my time, so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Tiny Biuso: I don’t have a major role in the story, but the character I have is a drummer, and his name is Kyle. He is the drummer of this band called Snake River, which i think is a freaking awesome name for a band. When the band breaks up because of the singer’s selfish and self destructive behavior, I start a new band with the bass player.

Any artists you are looking forward to collaborating with for this film? 

Joey Santiago: Yeah, it’s a weird diverse cast of people, including Joe Elliot from Def Leppard, Ricky Warwick from Black Star Riders…

Ricky Warwick: Joe Elliot has been a really close friend of mine. I’m always excited to get together with him… we always have a good laugh. Joey Santiago from the Pixies is great, as well as Tiny and the guys from Ministry! I know all those guys. It’s going to be working with friends, which is always cool.

Tiny Biuso:  Actually, I’m stoked to be working with everybody. I just think it’s a cool thing that the director put together, with all these different rock musicians and all these different players coming together. I mean,  Joey Elliot from Def Leppard! I’ve been a big fan of his since i was a kid. Same thing with Al from Ministry. Both Ministry and Def Leppard, as far on the opposite side of the spectrum as those bands are, I can say i’m a big fan of both them. Ricky Warwick from Thin Lizzy… he has been a friend of mine for 20 something years. I’m really looking forward to seeing his role in the movie, though him and I might not be intersecting as characters. Hopefully I get to see him shoot some of his stuff and go down to the set to mess with him! So to answer your question, I am stoked to be involved with all these people. Eddie from Twisted Sister… I am from Long Island just like Twisted Sister, and I’ve been a fan of those guys for around 25 to 30 years.

Sin Quirin: I met Joe Elliot when Ministry played a couple festivals with Def Leppard in 2008, so we met briefly. I’ve been a big Def Leppard and Eddie Ojeda [Twisted Sister guitarist] fan since I was a kid. Knowing those guys were involved was a big deal for me. Once we started the film, I’ve met Joey [Santiago, Pixies guitarist] and Ricky Warwick [Black Star Riders/Thin Lizzy frontman]. They’re great guys and I have much respect for them and their bands. And then I brought in my lead singer, Al Jourgensen into the project, just adding more fuel to the fire.

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi Review

Disney and LucasFilm continue the well oiled machine that is the Star Wars universe with Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne, the third canon adult novel released since 2014’s continuity reboot of the Expanded Universe literature and video games.

Compared to the earth-shattering crisis presented in John Jackson Miller’s A New Dawn and the rags to riches biography of the enigmatic Moff Tarkin by James Luceno, Hearne gives us a smaller, more intimate story in Heir to the Jedi, an in-universe memoir written by Luke Skywalker, the second major Star Wars novel written in first person Michael Stackpole’s classic I, Jedi (that one being written from fighter pilot Corran Horn’s point of view).

Taking place some time after Luke Skywalker’s destruction of the first Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Heir to the Jedi sees an underequipped Rebellion on the run from the Galactic Empire. Luke must continue his Jedi training in lieu of the late Obi-Wan Kenobi’s mentorship while running missions for the Rebel Alliance. Heir to the Jedi sees Luke, alongside his trusty companion R2-D2, trade his iconic X-wing for the newly created ship, the sleek corvette Desert Jewel, co-piloted by a brash female named Nakari Kelen. During their adventures, Luke and Nakari encounter brain-sucking alien parasites (in a rather memorable sequence taking a cue or two from Ridley Scott, at that), Imperial assassins, and giant sea monsters.

Utilizing the first-person format, Kevin Hearne injects a healthy amount of self-aware humor into the Star Wars formula that will either be welcomed by those who may have been burned out by the dark and brooding prequel era, or off-putting for those who are expecting yet another dark Star Wars tale; you’ll get to see Luke try and desperately fail to lift noodles using the Force, awkwardly flirt with Nakari, and… slip and fall in dung?

In a sense, Star Wars is defined by the conflict of good against the very face of evil, and while the tender moments work beautifully, utilizing the first person-format in such a swashbuckling adventure kind of prevents the story from reaching its true potential; naturally, the events in the book are only seen through Luke’s eyes, preventing us from experiencing a centralized, scheming villain in the vein of Darth Vader, A New Dawn’s brilliant Count Vidian or the classic Admiral Thrawn.

While not a bad Star Wars book by any means, Heir to the Jedi is the weakest of the three released adult novels in the Disney canon thus far, and its tone will more than likely divide the Star Wars fanbase. Those who embrace the idea of a simple and intimate tale with little impact (and a dose of off-beat humor) in the Star Wars galaxy at large will embrace Heir to the Jedi, still a major step up from some of the later Expanded Universe offerings and, like the other two canon novels, a perfect stepping stone for the casual Star Wars fan into the larger world of literature.

 Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi is available now via Del Rey Books. 

DC Comics: Triple TV Serving Of Gotham, Arrow And The Flash

Are we being swamped by superhero movies right now? It seems like every week we’re either seeing or hearing about the latest comic book action movie hitting theatres or sitting currently in production. Last year there were 4 big theatrical superhero based movie releases and each of them came from Marvel. DC Comics in comparison has had a much smaller slice of the pie in terms of both theatrical releases and source material and haven’t had a cinematic release since 2013’s rather lacklustre ‘Man of Steel’. But it’s television where DC Comics have been working hard bringing us a trio of comic-based TV shows; namely ‘Gotham’, ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’.

Gotham

‘Gotham’, developed by Bruno Heller, premiered on Fox in September 2014 to over 14 million viewers and is based on the ‘Batman’ franchise. The show is an origin tale of sorts featuring a number of DC characters and villains from the ‘Batman’ world and centered around a young James Gordon, who is played by Benjamin McKenzie. Unfortunately it has been met with criticism mostly from fans of the franchise that do enjoy picking apart the timeline and its viewing figures have taken a slight decline with each and every episode aired. But these anachronisms and minor disapproval hasn’t stopped the network renewing the show for a second season.

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The ‘Batman’ franchise itself is still thriving mostly thanks to the incredible rebooted trilogy from talented British director Christopher Nolan and of course with the highly anticipated ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ arriving in 2016. So once more it’s become a highly lucrative brand providing fans with endless merchandise and even popular online games like ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ slot game at the royalvegascasino.com.

Arrow

‘Arrow’ is now in its third season and enjoying a consistent audience over on its CW averaging around 4 million viewers per season. It stars Stephen Amell in the title role as Oliver Queen, the billionaire playboy who turns to crime fighting under the alias Green Arrow. Previously the character had appeared in ‘Smallville’, the series which followed Superman during his teen years, before being expanded to its very own show.

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‘Arrow’ has been well received by both fans and critics offering a more realistic take on the character and his origins. Its consistent viewing figures have kept it a staple of CW’s line-up and has also been hailed for its intelligent writing and exciting storylines. ‘Arrow’s success has led to the spin-off of the aforementioned CW show ‘The Flash’, which is part of the shared universe. Now that ‘The Flash’ has arrived to much praise everybody is just waiting for the crossover episodes.

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The Flash

‘The Flash’ premiered in the US in October 2014 on CW and got picked up for a second season last month. With our cinemas and TV channels filled with various superheroes and villains ‘T he Flash’ has been praised by critics and fans alike for its more light-hearted approach to the subject matter. The adaptation has definitely lightened the mood to the usual grim and gritty superhero fares we have been used to in recent years, mostly thanks to the influence of movies like ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.

Could this be due to audiences needing a little more humour from their superheroes? We can see that a more jocular and playful style used in superhero-based spinoff series ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ as well as last years hit movie ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ benefited greatly from its good humoured approach.

Spider-Man’s Reign To Continue

Plus, our picks for the next actor to play the role

Over the past 15 years, superhero films have come to represent their own genre of film, and entertainment culture as a whole. With both DC and Marvel Comics (as well as other comic publishers) unleashing hero after hero on the big screen, in video games, and now even on television, there’s been an exhaustive stream of content. But with the recent news that Sony and Marvel have reached an agreement that will lead to yet another Spider-Man film franchise, it’s worth acknowledging that no single superhero has had the reach—in film and elsewhere in entertainment—as Spidey.

It begins with the fact that Spider-Man, unlike other more recent heroes (except for possibly the Hulk), has already been a part of two entirely separate film series. Director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man started off the more popular series way back in 2002, with Tobey Maguire in the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. That story became a trilogy that received a great deal of critical acclaim and in some ways set the tone for lighter-hearted comic adaptations (such as Iron Man or Thor).

But in 2012, Marc Webb took his own stab at rebooting Spider-Man on the big screen. Andrew Garfield was thrust into a fairly different take on the character in The Amazing Spider-Man, with one sequel to follow. Both films did well, though a majority of fans seem to have preferred the Raimi/Maguire films, for the most part.

Along with five films from two different directors, the webslinger also seems to have been the subject of more video games in the past 15 years than any other hero (though this is difficult to verify across all modes of gaming). Each of the films had an accompanying video game for Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo consoles, and there were additional major video games produced in that span. For example, Ultimate Spider-Man by Activision is a popular pick as one of the best Spider-Man games produced, despite its intentional resemblance of comic book graphics rather than a particular film.

And make no mistake, Spider-Man has not been limited to popular console systems and developers. The hero has a long-standing place in the online gaming community, too. Betfair’s online casino hosts the main Spider-Man game alongside a number of other Marvel offerings. In this particular title, a slot machine concept is built around various graphics and bonuses surrounding the concept of a battle with the Green Goblin. Finally, even beyond online gaming, the app market has produced even more opportunity for Spider-Man gaming. Gameloft’s Spider-Man Unlimited stands tall as the best option, earning four stars from Touch Arcade.

And then of course there was that disastrous Broadway musical, which took Spider-Man beyond film and video games alike. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Even after all of this, the folks at Marvel and Sony have still decided it’s about time for even more of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. And in spite of ourselves, we’re excited about it! Naturally, the Internet is already churning with rumors (or, at this point, suggestions) of who should next take up the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Here are our own quick thoughts on 10 actors who could take up the role….

Logan Lerman

Probably a little overrated at 23, the Noah and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower star is being considered, according to IGN.

Dylan O’Brien

See above. The same IGN article mentions O’Brien as a candidate.

Daniel Radcliffe

You know you want it.

Zac Efron

Efron was hysterical in the Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors, and we’ll never doubt him again. He’d probably pull this off.

Donald Glover

Maybe the most popular suggestion online, Glover even campaigned for the role in Marc Webb’s films.

Robert Pattinson

He’s just undeniably Peter Parker-ish….

Josh Hutcherson

Something about this seems too easy, but perhaps that makes the Hunger Games star perfect for the role.

Kit Harington

Jon Snow will get a monster role outside of Game Of Thrones at some point soon. Maybe this will be it.

Rupert Grint

Give Ron Weasley dark hair and glasses and he could pull off an oddly intriguing Peter Parker.

A Total Unknown

This will never happen, but a totally unknown actor could be an exciting idea.

Top Ten Horror Films For Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day, the day couples celebrate their love for each other. A common tradition on this day is watching sappy romance films. But there are also many horror films that fit this occasion. In no order here are 10 films that you can make out to (or contemplate how alone you are) while seeing blood spill and guts fly!

Warning: Some trailers may be NSFW.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8-DVXVdtZY]

Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)

A popular story for lovers is the tale of Romeo & Juliet. Now what better way to tell the story then with Juliet as an undead super soldier! In this sequel to the 80’s classic Return of the Living Dead, a young man’s girlfriend dies in a motorcycle accident. Sad by his loss,  he uses his dad’s military experiment to bring her back. She comes back to life, but is slowly becoming a zombie super solider and though she still loves him, she can’t control her urge to eat brains. This film gets a lot of flak for being an in name only sequel; while not as good as the first one, its way better than the other Return of the Living Dead sequels.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwX0hOpsuec]

Demons (1985)

What better to do on a date then going to see a movie? And what better movie to see then one with demons coming out of it and killing the audience? This is exactly what happens to the characters in this classic. Anyone who is scratched or bitten by one of these demons will turn into one. Written by Dario Argento, directed by Lamberto Bava (son of Mario Bava) and scored by the band Goblin, this film is a really fun 80’s cheese fest. The film has one official sequel which is even better then the first.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Adm6D6B8RI]

Video Violence (1987)

So maybe you can’t afford to go to the movies and would rather just stay home and rent a movie (if renting still is a thing). That’s what the couple in this ultra low budget film did… just the films they were renting turned out to be actual snuff films. Despite the film’s low budget, it has a bit of a charm and is really entertaining. It had one sequel which is pretty fun too.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8iyMxTeB2Y]

Nekromantik (1987)

A German film that shows that even those with “special” fetishes don’t need to be left out. Not going to go into detail on this one, as it’s very graphic. Though disturbing, it is also very humorous and even classy at parts. Somehow this all works and just helps make the film very surreal; not for the easily offended.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_lwtRMg0ts]

The Lost Boys (1987)

A mother and her two sons move in with her father who lives in a town called Santa Carla. They quickly learn that the town is known for its high death rate. While out for a walk, Michael becomes interested in a young woman named Star who seems to be hanging out with a very sketchy crowd. This crowd turns out to be a team of vampires! They later bite Michael, turning him into a half vampire. If he tastes human blood, his transformation will be permanent. Star is revealed to also be a half vampire, and Michael, Star, Michael’s sexually ambiguous younger brother, and two junior vampire hunters team up to kill this group of vampires in order to change the two back to normal. This film has great scares, action, comedy and really fun characters. It’s also full of references to The Doors!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8LIug1cP04]

Dead Alive aka Brain Dead (1992)

Another very romantic how we first met story made by the man now known for the Lord of the Rings films, Peter Jackson. The film is a zombie horror comedy and is one of the goriest films ever made. It is a fusion of Monty Python style humor and splatter gore. The film is also very impulsive, as anything can possibly happen.  Oh, and it also has a romance sub plot between the main character and a gypsy girl.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6AXQeCE9Rw]

Videodrome (1983)

For couples into S&M who’ve already seen Fifty Shades of Grey twenty times straight this weekend is a bizarre Canadian sci-fi/horror film by acclaimed director David Cronenberg.  James Woods plays the head of a small TV station who learns of a strange signal coming from an underground sadomasochist program.  This signal causes people to commit acts of violence and torture. The film is very surreal and includes several scenes with bizarre hallucinations. The podcast Radiodrome is named after this film.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYcBSQokyBU]

Let The Right One In (2008)

Puppy love is a wonderful thing, especially when it’s between a 12 year old boy and a vampire. In this Swedish film, young outcast Oscar meets a little girl named Eli. Eli helps Oscar stand up to his bullies. He later finds out Eli needs to drink blood to survive! The film is very good at balancing drama with horror. The film feels pretty much like an updated Universal monster film. The film was remade 2 years later as Let Me In, though it has nothing on the original.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPgA88v0aDU]

Audition (1999)

There is nothing more sad then losing a loved one, but eventually we have to move on. In this film by Japanese cult director, Takashi Miike, a father who lost his wife looks for a new girlfriend. The method he uses is a false movie audition held by his friend, who is a filmmaker. Eventually he finds the girl he wants. The two relate real well though, the film hints that this girl is not right in the head, leading to an unforgettable climax. The film is known for its roller coaster-like story structure. Most of the film is like a romantic drama with hints of horror; you know things are going to get bad but you don’t know when. The film is very disturbing and creepy without the use of much onscreen gore.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmLv9HpUhJU]

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

Maybe the best horror film to watch with your lover on Valentine’s Day is one that actually takes place on Valentine’s day: the film is about a guy in a miner’s suit killing people who celebrate Valentine’s Day! The film was part of the 80’s slasher craze. The shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine namesake originates from this film.