Justice League: War - Hey, I don't know if you've heard, but WB and DC are finally getting their cinematic act together! Yeah, first they're putting Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others in a movie together, then they're going to have a sequel already in the works, and begin a shared cinematic universe just like Marvel!
Except it's direct to Blu-ray and animated. That other thing you were thinking of? Who knows when we'll ever see it.
Facepalming, Head-desking. Wondering why WB can't just look at their animated DC stuff and realize they can do this kind of thing in non-cartoon form too.
Anyway, yeah, this is the beginning of a shared continuity.
Napoleon Dynamite: 10th Anniversary Edition - It's a frickin' rip-off you shouldn't sink your talons into, despite the fake Liger fur on the cover, with less special features than previous versions. Including the short-lived animated series would have been a no-brainer here, but it seems the chickens at Fox video do not have large talents.More >>
Metallica Through the Never - If you have a large 3D TV, a great sound system and at least an open mind about the music of Metallica, I have no reservations about recommending one of my favorite movies of the year. Like with the Oscar-nominated Gravity, though, I fear much of the appeal may have been in the Imax 3D presentation; without that, will it play as just another concert movie? I'm enough of a fan to take that chance. After all, fellow Metalli-heads, how often do we get to see them play "Orion" live?
Frankenstein Created Woman - '60s Hammer horror with one of the most insane Frankenstein plots ever. Dig this - the son of an executed murderer is in love with the local innkeeper's daughter, who has a massive deformity on half her face. When he runs afoul of a trio of dandies (acting like Clockwork Orange droogs years before) who wind up accidentally killing the landlord, they of course frame the crook's kid. He won't give an alibi, because he was busy banging said landlord's daughter and wants to preserve her honor, and is guillotined; she is so horrified she commits suicide.
Dr. Frankenstein, of course, has the genius idea to put the boy's soul into the girl's body...oh, and give her some plastic surgery while he's at it, because you do not fuck with Peter Cushing when he says that's what he wants to do. The payoff does not, could not measure up to such a set-up, but do you really care?
To underestimate the importance of The Professor would be a mistake. His own show seemed, at least at the beginning, to do so; he and his perky co-castaway Mary Anne were dismissively lumped together as "The Rest" at the end of "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island" in the first season, although this rudeness was rectified in later seasons. All the same, the handsome, tousled-haired fellow in the perfectly cleaned and pressed white shirt and khaki pants seemed, at times, little more than a plot convenience, a handy spouter of exposition and builder of gadgets. The Professor - Roy Hinkley by name, you may recall - put down roots in the Boomer psyche, however. Along with Mr. Spock and Mr. Peabody, he's part of a trinity that made certain young TV rerun junkies of the '60s and '70s want to grow up to be insufferable pedantic know-it-alls.
While the Professor certainly qualifies as an iconic pop-culture nerd, Russell Johnson, the actor most remembered for playing him, wasn't always nerdy. He was cool enough to play one of the shady crooks on the lam that holds a hipster watering hole hostage in Roger Corman's 1957 Rock All Night. And he was manly enough to play second lead to Peter Breck in the western series Black Saddle, and appear in dozens of other movie and TV westerns. He even had a guest shot on that infamous season of the original Dallas that turned out to be a dream. But many of the other movies and shows on Johnson's long list of credits are near and dear to the nerdy heart. Johnson, who passed on last week at 89, was a frequent star and supporting player in sci-fi and horror, and had he never played the resident smarty-pants of the Island's seven castaways, whose expansive erudition and ingenuity was somehow never quite enough to overcome Gilligan's prodigal gift for fucking things up, there's a good chance that midcentury pop-culture geeks might still remember him with a smile.
Here are a few of the other highpoints of The Russell Johnson Canon...
Bad Milo - There are two types of people in the world. Those who don't like movies about ass demons, and Topless Robot readers. This educational film might just teach you a good solid lesson in colon cleansing, removing some of the waste-full times of your day. Or you could literally laugh your butt off.
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy - Like the DVD extra you should have been given before but never were, this comprehensive documentary looks at the making of every Nightmare on Elm Street installment via interviews with all the major players: Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Jack Sholder, Chuck Russell, Heather Langenkamp, Clu Gulager (who turns everything into a dirty joke), every single actor that played a Dream Warrior who isn't named Patricia Arquette, etc. Yes, they talk about the (unintentional?) gay subtext of part 2, the fact that David Warner was the original choice for Freddy, and the fact that indeed, pepperoni pizza was the inspiration for Krueger's face. It'll make you want to run out and buy the originals, then feel ashamed that you didn't already have them. (Full disclosure: I'm pretty sure some of my friends were on the crew, and while we're at it, Jack Sholder used to teach at the same college as my dad. But it's not like I wasn't a Freddy fan long before ever knowing them.)More >>
Earlier today, the TV host - who really ought to have played a custom Bat-villain named Paleface - Tweeted out the above picture, along with the caption: "Very excited @WBHomeEnt is releasing the Batman '66 Complete TV Series in 2014! The seat smells like Adam West."
Well, WB Home Entertainment hadn't actually made that public yet. But this forced their hand, and now they admit, yes, there is a complete box set of all three seasons coming sometime in 2014. Yeah, yeah, Holy Inevitability...but who among us does not feel Bat-tastic about the imminent reunion with old chums?
I suspect Conan might be on the extras somewhere. Just a hunch.
I used to intern for Roger Corman, and the poster above was framed on the wall in his offices - the only movie he made that was never released. I'm sure everyone here knows the story - Marvel wanted the rights back, and Avi Arad paid the producers to never release such a cheap version.
The movie itself will probably never be publicly available, but a new documentary, Doomed, aims to tell the entire story, and will show some of the footage for the first time legally anywhere, alongside in-depth interviews with everyone involved. Curiously, this is NOT a Kickstarter - there's a website with a PayPal donation button, and DVD presales, along with the above poster for $99 - I presume Corman's participation in the documentary includes tacit approval of such sales.
Now, let us hope Fox doesn't pay these filmmakers not to release their footage...More >>
Riddick - It's admirable that, rather than take to Kickstarter, Vin Diesel used his own money to fund a third movie featuring his favorite character. If only the final product had as much to admire: its first third, featuring Riddick alone on a hostile planet, is fantastic, a mini Conan-in-space movie to do Robert E. Howard proud. But then the movie keeps going, becoming first an Alien movie with Riddick as the barely seen killer creature, then finally a rip-off of Pitch Black with unfortunate, unpleasant gay jokes and rape humor. The unrated director's cut features more of the Necromonger backstory with Karl Urban's Vaako, and a complete collection is also available today, including the animated short "Dark Fury" on Blu-ray for the first time. Really, though, you're better off just buying Pitch Black and pretending there were no sequels.
You're Next - It's best not to say too much about this fun little horror flick if you haven't seen it; suffice it to say it made many ten-best lists, and that its appeal lies primarily in a sudden tonal shift that happens halfway through, which illuminates the story rather than undermining it. I'll be curious to see if any wrestling fans who aren't paying attention pick it up thinking it's a "Best of the Wyatt Family" disc - aside from the animal masks, there's really no similarity.
Entertainment Weekly got the goods on the return of Trevor Slattery, now living like a celebrity in prison. The new short, "All Hail the King," looks to clear a few things up.
In what sounds like a split-difference to please both fans and haters of Iron Man 3's new take on the Mandarin, it seems that the Ten Rings organization is real, and not necessarily the group we saw controlled by Killian...but there's no mention of a real Mandarin, which would seem to let Killian's declaration of "I am the Mandarin!" stand.
We'll also get a look at the cheesy '80s TV show Slattery used to star in, and see Ben Kingsley's Sean Connery impersonation.
Full details and pictures are over at EW, in a multi-page interview with the short's director, Drew Pearce.
I liked the idea that Killian was behind the Ten Rings in movie one, and thought Yinsen's appearance at the New Year party backed up that notion (Killian punishing him and Stark), and hate the idea that there's another Mandarin out there - but I'm not automatically opposed to this. At the very least, I'm happy to see more of Kingsley playing drunk, and possibly doing more bad accents.
To all those who think even one wrestling post a week is too much, beg pardon. The ramifications of this apply to many other brands as well.
At CES, WWE just announced the WWE Network - an online network with 24/7 live-streaming programming and on-demand archival content, including - at launch - every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view show ever. It's basically their own dedicated Netflix.
Those $60/month pay-per-view events? Included in the price. Which is $9.99 a month (minimum 6-month commitment). Older events are supposedly uncut and uncensored...though we'll see. It no longer makes any financial sense to buy the DVDs or the pay-per-views, when this service is available on every Internet-compatible device.
Imagine other brands doing this. CBS News making available every CBS News show ever, for example. MTV doing the same. Adult Swim? Perhaps. Disney's using Netflix in a similar way, but imagine everything Disney owns, available at all times online in one location. In an age of instant digital piracy, the "back in the vault" strategy no longer makes sense.
Also, Syfy fans? You may no longer have to be bothered with wrestling on your network.
Feb 24th, 11:09 EST (right after Raw) is when the network goes online, making WrestleMania 30 the first pay-per-view to air on it.
The Act of Killing - A thoroughly unique and ballsy documentary, in which participants in a series of mass killings in Indonesia in the '60s, hailed as heroes for it by many, are given the budget and the equipment to make mini-movies reenacting their crimes. This they do, often in bizarre and surreal ways; but when one of them finds himself playing the victim, he suddenly begins to develop a creeping sense of empathy. Before things are through, his body literally starts to try and violently exorcize the evil within him - it's some of the year's most compelling footage, and most of the cast and crew are billed as "Anonymous" due to the potential danger such scenes represent. It's not for everyone, but it goes places you most likely have never seen a movie go before.
Throne of Blood - English scholars might slap you silly if you said, "You know what Shakespeare needs? Less dialogue and more samurai." Cinephiles, however, would pat you on the back and tell you you've just described Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, a classic that retells the story of Macbeth in feudal Japan. It's dual format Blu-ray and DVD, but also a different kind of dual format in that there are two alternate sets of subtitles, with differing interpretations of the Japanese language words and phrases that don't have 1:1 equivalents in English. If you're unfamiliar with Kurosawa, this would be my choice for a starting point - witches, swordfights, betrayal and a familiar story transcend cultural boundaries, and acclimatize you to the setting so you can move on to Yojimbo, Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress etc.