- Fan Theory
- Mild Spoilers
- Nerd 101
- Series Recap
The last time Harrison Ford reprised one of his iconic science fiction roles, some fans took issue that the filmmakers were basically creating a retelling of the original story in an attempt to harness moviegoers’ nostalgia and avoid any negative critique. It’s a tough balance for sure, when you are making a sequel to a classic film thirty years later. (I’m looking forward to seeing a 57-year-old Jennifer Lawrence in Mother: Genesis! hitting theaters in the summer of 2047.) However where Star Wars: The Force Awakens may have won over audiences by treading in familiar territory, Blade Runner 2049 pays homage to the vibe, tone and feel of the original science fiction film noir, while also pushing the story forward in new directions that most fans will enjoy.
If you are like me, you may need a refresher on what is happening in any film franchise, let alone one that took thirty-five years for the sequel to be released. While I highly recommend watching or re-watching Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner from 1982, with the director’s preferred version, The Final Cut (there are several versions of the film to choose from including the Theatrical Cut and an International Cut) available on DVD, here is a brief recap that will have you passing the Voight-Kampff test in no time!
The original film follows the story of an ex-police officer named Rick Deckard who works as a blade runner in the rainy, dystopian Los Angeles of 2019. Blade runners are essentially bounty hunters who track down illegal replicants—bioengineered androids manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation that are indistinguishable from natural humans. Replicants have been given advanced strength, speed and even in some cases intelligence. They are used for labor, mainly on off-world space colonies in situations that are too dangerous for humans. However, while the company claims they are “more human than human” (the inspiration for a killer White Zombie song) a failsafe was used in their creation to stop them from developing empathy and other human emotions that could lead to them turning on their masters. Therefore, replicants of the Nexus-6 model only live for four years before dropping dead. In a world where intelligent synthetic humans exist, it seems the logic is that they can’t let them get too human, otherwise that whole slave labor thing becomes a moral issue.
Despite these precautions, replicants staged a mutiny on an off-world colony, leading to them being banned on Earth. Deckard is informed that four of these illegal replicants have made their way to Los Angeles and he is tasked with hunting them down. Eduardo Gaff, a detective, shows Deckard a video of another Blade Runner performing the Voight-Kampff test: a series of questions using an advanced form of a lie detector that measures contractions of the iris, heart rate and eye moment to test for empathy. In this case, when it is revealed that the subject, Leon, is not human, the replicant kills the blade runner. From there Deckard meets with the head of the Tyrell Corporation and the creator of the replicants, Eldon Tyrell himself, to see if the test works on the new Nexus-6 replicants. Tyrell introduces Decker to Rachael who, after giving an extended test, he discovers is a replicant – even though she thinks she is human, representing an advancement in replicant technology.
Deckard proceeds with his investigation into tracking down the fugitive replicants, leading him to Leon’s hotel room where he finds a synthetic snake scale. In the world of 2019 Blade Runner, real animals are hard to come by and much like the artificial humans, a whole industry exists to bioengineer animals. This clue, coupled with a photo, leads Deckard to a strip club where the female replicant of the bunch, Zhora, is working. After a brief confrontation, he “retires” the replicant; blade runner lingo for killing her. Returning home, Rachael is waiting for Deckard at his apartment. He spills the beans to her on her replicant status. She doesn’t believe him, telling him of childhood memories, that Deckard proves are really those of Tyrell’s niece by finishing her private story for her.
Later, on the street, Deckard is confronted by Leon, who he kills. He is also informed by the police that he is to “retire” the escaped Rachael, who has not returned to the Tyrell Corporation. Meanwhile the remaining fugitive replicants including Roy (played by Rutger Hauer) track down a genetic designer, named Sebastian, who works for Tyrell, who they think can help reverse their age limit. Roy tricks him into gaining access to Tyrell, where the replicant confronts his maker, asking to be saved from imminent death. When Tyrell confirms that there is no way to reverse the aging failsafe for replicants, Roy gives him a kiss before killing him. At this point Deckard has tracked the replicants to Sebastian’s apartment where he kills the second to last one living, Pris, before Roy returns for the final showdown. However, instead of fighting it out to the death, the replicant, Roy, actually saves Deckard in the end and sits down to expire peacefully. The cops show up and the detective, Gaff, tells Deckard knowingly, “It’s too bad she won’t live.” Deckard returns home to find Rachael in his apartment. Before they leave, Deckard discovers Gaf’s calling card: an origami piece of paper, this time in the form of a unicorn… which is the animal Deckard had a dream about. This final scene led to one of the greatest fan debates in cinema history: is Deckard a replicant?!
So, before we flash forward thirty years to the Blade Runner world of 2049, the filmmakers bridged the two films with several shorts connecting the two. Blade Runner 2049 director, Denis Villeneuve introduces each of these, and I think they are great tie-ins that fans of Blade Runner and completism will enjoy. These will help you getting up to speed with what you need to know going in, while not giving away any spoilers.
“Black Out 2022”
The events in this anime-style short are referenced in the new feature. In the year 2022, just three years after the events of the original, an electromagnetic pulse is detonated by rebel replicants, wiping out the power grid and destroying computer data records including police files on replicant data.
“2036: Nexus Dawn”
This short introduces us to Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), a bioengineer who bought the Tyrell Corporation and intends to convince the government to allow him to start making replicants again in order to further colonize the galaxy at a faster pace.
“2048: Nowhere to Run”
This story takes place a year before the events of the new feature film and gives some backstory to the character, Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista), who is a rouge “skin job.”
So now we get to Blade Runner 2049; and right off the bat I must tell you that this is another one of those films that the less I reveal about the plot, the better off you will be going in. So here is what I can tell you: Ryan Gossling plays a new Blade Runner named K. He lives with his holographic girlfriend – basically the 2049 version of Alexa – a situation that delivers one of the weirdest sex scenes since 2013’s Her when Joaquin Phoenix tried to have relations with his iPhone. Like his predecessor, K is tasked with tracking down illegal replicants on Earth. However, now newer models of replicants, the Nexus-8s, which were created by Niander Wallace who purchased the Tyrell Corporation, have been taught to obey humans. Yet blade runners are tasked with tracking down older Nexus 6s who have survived and gone into hiding. K tracks down one such older model replicant, Sapper Morton (featured in the above short), and makes a discovery which has world-shattering implications; so much so that his boss, Lt. Joshi (Robin Wright) sends him on a mission to possibly avoid catastrophe. In his way stands Wallace with his own intentions. The maniacal performance that Jared Leto gives as Wallace hints at what he could have delivered as The Joker in the ill-fated Suicide Squad. While he is blind, the character uses an implant to see with robotic floating cameras that follow him around like birds. It gives a creepy, villainous effect to the character that serves the story well. While replicants are not fully human, the humans in this world are moving on from their humanity as well. Wallace’s assistant, a replicant woman named Luv, chases K on his quest in some of the most intense battle scenes set against the unique world of Blade Runner. Like the original, the story will leave viewers with lots to think over, and that was key to making this a successful film to hold up to the original.
What I like about this new film is that it keeps us in the Blade Runner universe although we are now close to the year in which the original took place. Obviously in 2019 we are not going to have flying cars, and hopefully the environmental situation won’t be so dire that all plant and animal life on earth is synthetic. Yet in this world of 2049, filmmakers didn’t update their take on the future to align with how we now know things turned out, yet continued living in the Blade Runner world, just thirty years later. There is even one of those ever-present holographic advertisements, for Pan Am Airlines, a company whose logo was featured in the first film, yet in real life went out of business in 1991. This odd retrofuture take is a lot better choice for a number of reasons. The Terminator movies would try and make it make sense, from one sequel to the next; which is insane. Wait, so they actually thought there was going to be a killer robot uprising in the year 1997 and when “Judgement Day” didn’t actually happen, had to make the story conform to our reality for Terminator 3?
Blade Runner fans will be happy that this sequel didn’t go the way of other sequels made decades after the original (looking at you, Blues Brothers 2000). I recommend revisiting the original and viewing the above shorts before hunkering down with another densely packed vision of a future that may never be.
Did you see Blade Runner 2049? What did you think?
Mother! is like Curb Your Enthusiasm meets an intense Hitchcockian thriller, which is a sentence I never thought I would write in a movie review. Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) Mother! is this year’s Birdman; a surrealist take on fame and celebrity where the viewer will start to question what is “real,” imagined or just plain metaphorical on the part of the filmmaker.
Before we are treated to a bizarre descent into madness, we meet a married couple with a twenty-year age difference living in a large, remote country home. The wife (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is devoted to her poet husband (Javier Bardem) who is suffering from a case of writer’s block.
They seem happy enough as the wife attempts to redecorate and remodel the poet’s home that had been previously burned in a fire, while he tries to once again get the flames of creativity burning. However, this docile existence is ripped away when one night a stranger arrives (Ed Harris), and he and his rude wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) are invited by the poet to move into the house indefinitely. This leads to some of the more, dare I say, “comical” moments that are played for horror instead of laughs. The same awkward social situations and breaking of taboos that Larry David may find himself in are made gut-wrenching in the hands of Aronofsky. The poet invites a total stranger to stay in their home without even asking his wife. The look that Jennifer Lawrence gives him says it all. The same look that any of us would give our spouse in the same situation, but in this film, the look is almost of panic. These moments build as the stranger’s wife moves in and grills Lawrence’s character on her intention to have or not have children with the poet. This off-putting awkwardness culminates with the sudden arrival of the stranger-couple’s two sons and the invasion of privacy takes off into the realm of true nightmares.
The first clue that everything is not what it seems early on is that the characters never give or say each other’s names. This creates some odd scenes where introductions to strangers are not made and points at which one would call out someone’s name go by with no name called. It’s like all the characters were Norm’s wife on Cheers (that reference is a deep cut, go ask your Dad.)
A great man once said: “Not about to see your light. And if you wanna find hell with me. I can show you what it’s like. Till you’re bleeding – OH MOOOOTHER!”
That is about as a good a synopsis for the film Mother with an exclamation point as anyone could give. Open for everyone’s own interpretation or misinterpretation, possibly upsetting to parents and something that is going to get stuck in your head for a while after you experience it.
An artistic film like Mother! promoted to a wide audience, featuring huge stars is sure to stir up controversy. It may rub some viewers the wrong way, not for what is actually said or done on screen (although that will also serve to shock some) but rather what is left open for interpretation. (SPOILERS, if you want to go into the film completely clean, please abandon us here!) Toward the end, what is an intense, spiraling out of control thriller that will have you holding on to your seat screaming “WOW, WHERE IS THIS GOING?!” suddenly takes a left turn into an absurdist, allegory for what at first could be interpreted as the drawbacks and nightmare of fame. Yet biblical metaphors abound and those with a strong knowledge of the Good Book and the tenants of Christianity will come away with something completely different; a clear bible story as retold through and imaginative, if horrific story. (As I said a lot of room for interpretation, and also being offended.)
Last week I told you that Stephen King’s IT had one of the most demented sequences in a major Hollywood film. That was until I saw Mother! Although I should give some warning: true gore hounds and horror genre fanatics may be disappointed if they were expecting horror and not thriller. The trailer and marketing of Mother! may have done a disservice for promising too much in the wrong direction. Going in, I was expecting a modern take alluding to Rosemary’s Baby. Perhaps so close to Halloween, with other horror movies either in theaters or about to be released, I assumed Jenifer Lawrence would be covered with buckets of blood. Well, there are buckets and there is blood, however for those of us like me, going in expecting buckets of blood followed by a smash cut to the end credits and a blasting rendition of Danzig’s “Mother”- it is best to clear your mind of all of that and go into Mother! fresh. Fans of Aronofsky’s previous mind-bending work will not be disappointed by this new entry.
Have you seen Mother!? What was your interpretation of that insane ending?
In the story of IT, an eternal demon assuming the form of Pennywise The Dancing Clown comes back to Derry, Maine to terrorize and eat children every 27 years. Based on his novel, Stephen King’s horrifying IT mini-series first premiered on television in 1990 and now exactly 27 years later, IT has returned to prey on our fears. Released nationwide this week, the new IT film broke the Thursday box office record for an R-rated movie that was previously held by Deadpool with $13.5 million in one night. “Hello Georgie!”
A horror movie centering around the terror of children already has a demented premise and IT starts off with what might be one of the most demented sequences in a big Hollywood movie. True genre fans will wish that there were more Pennywise-induced horror and less heart. However, as an overall cinematic experience for a general audience, IT delivers a balance of good story telling, character development, and genuine creepy moments with a stellar young cast.
Actor Finn Wolfhard, one of the main kids from Stranger Things has the unique experience of being typecast in a very, very specific genre. Specifically, the nostalgic 1980’s horror throwback genre featuring a group of bicycle-riding, loser kids who must figure out what monster is kidnapping children from their town. Of course, IT was the original that Stranger Things was in part evoking, and paying homage to a point that hopefully younger viewer will get clued in on. There are plenty of 80’s references throughout including the films playing at the local movie theater each time the kids ride by it. Most interestingly A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5; hey maybe the gang should have gone to see it to get some supernatural entity battling tips?
As Richie Tozier, Finn and the rest of the child actors do an excellent job of making us feel their character’s terror while also delivering some great comedic moments. If anything, the decision to embrace an R-rating, rather than water down the subject matter for a possible wider audience, allows the dialogue to reflect how boys of that age actually talk to each other when adults aren’t around. This serves to add to the authenticity and realness of their lives, contrasting with the always bizarre world of Stephen King we have entered; something that most horror films ignore.
Unlike the miniseries, this feature version of IT only focuses on the children battling the shape-shifting creature and a second movie, IT: Chapter 2 will deal with their adult selves upon his return. The film opens with little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) meeting Pennywise (played by Bill Skarsgård) after his brother Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) crafts him a little paper boat which floats into the sewer. From there Bill and his friends in “The Losers’ Club” spend their summer vacation trying to unravel the mystery of what happened to Georgie and why so many kids keep going missing around town. They each have ever increasingly disturbing encounters with what they soon dub “IT.” Each encounter is a manifestation of what they fear most: While Bill is haunted by his brother, feared to be dead, Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) is stalked by a creepy painting of a woman in his father’s office. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) is a hypochondriac hounded by a face melting leper and poor Richie… hates clowns. Their group acquires new outcasts along the way. The “new kid” chubby Ben (Jeremy Ray Talyor) has an adorable crush on Beverly (Sophia Lillis) who has been wrongly labeled the town floozy, getting bullied by the other girls at school. Meanwhile “the home-schooled kid” Mike (Chosen Jacobs) is seeing visions of burn victims.
This town is terrifying even without a supernatural creepy clown luring children into the sewer to feed on their fears. There could be an entire non-horror film dedicated to the psychotic bully, Henry Bowers, who gives Pennywise a run for his money in the depravity department, and Beverly’s sexual predator father.
Fans of classic horror, Stephen King, and good old cinema should be sure to see this latest edition to the King mythos on the big screen. It will leave you a bit jumpy. After watching two hours of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, someone put a red balloon in the hallway of the movie theater exit as we walked out of the screening. Several people actually screamed and ran away from it as if IT was going to jump out at them!
IT will stay with you for a bit and give you some questions to mull over. Such as: What would Pennywise do to feed on the fears of adults? “Hello Georgie. I’ve got your tax returns, Georgie. …Looks like you are overdue for a colonoscopy, Georgie.”
Have you seen the new IT movie? Did you like it, Georgie, did you?
It has been over thirty years since horror master, Stephen King, gave generations of his fans a severe case of Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, with the release of his novel IT. However, for myself and many, it would be Tim Curry taking on the role of the terrifying Pennywise the Clown in the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation that would have us afraid to walk by a sewer drain.
Now this Friday, September 8th, a new IT feature film is hitting theaters nationwide. From the poster alone, many may develop yet another phobia: Globophobia, the fear of balloons! Regardless King’s IT changed the way we look at clowns for good, and I’m afraid there is no going back.
If the full feature 2017 reboot of IT, directed by Andrés Muschietti (Mama) is as good as the trailers and previews have made it out to be, it is going to be pants-wetting scary; we are going to need that raincoat. The story of the missing children of Derry, Maine is taking place this time in 1989 with a sequel planned where we will see the second part of the book following those characters as adults (presumably in present day.) The seven outcast kids that make up The Losers Club must fight the shape-shifting, immortal entity who loves to become the scariest thing IT could think of: a clown. We are two months out from Halloween and we already have our first great horror entry for the fall! It will have us saying “What if it’s just a crazy guy in a clown suit?”
Not everyone is as excited for the new IT movie as I am. This past week the World Clown Association released a statement attempting to distance itself from IT and assuring the public that Pennywise has nothing to do with real clowns who just want to make people happy (sounds like something Pennywise would say). These professional clowns are concerned that IT is having a negative impact on their work and public perception. One poor birthday clown even arrived at a gig only to be surrounded by police cars: Someone had reported a “clown sighting” in the neighborhood. This anti-clown sentiment has increased with the latest from the IT franchise, leading the Association to say in part:
“Please understand, just because someone wears a rubber Halloween mask, that does not make one a clown! The horror movie character, “Jason,” wears a hockey goalie mask. But, people would be mistaken if they actually thought he was a hockey player! We disavow any relationship with these “horror characters.”
They disavow! OK? That’s a really good argument that may win some points on a high school debate team, and you have to feel sorry for these clowns. However, it is going to be tough to win over the hearts and minds of the general public who may have been triggered by IT on a deeper psychological level. There is something about clowns that provokes a real uncomfortable feeling. In the field of robotics researchers refer to this as “The Uncanny Valley.” According to Wikipedia this is “the hypothesis that human replicas which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion (or uncanniness) among some observers. Valley denotes a dip in the human observer’s affinity for the replica, a relation that otherwise increases with the replica’s human likeness.”
In other words, if a robot or clown looks almost like a normal human, but not quite, there is a point at which it confuses our brain and thus gives us the willies (I believe that is the medical term.) Arnold Schwarzenegger as the nice Terminator – not creepy. That weird cab driver robot that drives Arnold in Total Recall: totally CREEPY!
Some would argue that the concept of the evil clown has its roots in the origins of the clown itself. Although the modern circus clown has roots in the early 19th century, the concept of “The Fool” or court jester is found in many cultures around the world and some are not so light-hearted. In ancient Rome, the archimimes would attend funerals to imitate and mock the deceased, even if this upset the family. Imagine laying Grandpa to rest and a clown shows up to start making zingers! While that may be offensive and annoying, in modern times our fear of clowns really took a turn. The famous serial killer John Wayne Gacy was an actual birthday clown, however, it wasn’t until 1986 with the release of IT that the modern Creepy Clown phenomenon was born. Next to Freddy Kruger, no other horror icon is known for quick wit and macabre association with children as Pennywise. However unlike Freddy, Pennywise took the form of an already established cultural entity. It would be like if before the original A Nightmare on Elm Street had been released, there was already a group of performers who showed up to birthday parties in fedoras and red and black striped sweaters. In this way, Stephen King altered the way we feel about clowns and may have awoken a fear we didn’t even know we had. King’s true legacy when it comes to creepy clowns is ever evolving. Some mischievous evil-doers have taken advantage of this IT-inspired clown fear over the years. Most recently terrorizing several towns around the world with what has been dubbed the “Clown Attack Craze.”
From France to Texas between 2014 and 2016 a strange real-life version of IT began popping up. While the sightings in France and other places seemed to be more of a dark-natured prank with terrifying looking IT-inspired clowns showing up in the middle of the night for some Instagram pictures, other situations were more serious. In Southern California, residents reported scary clowns holding baseball bats and axes. A high school in Flomaton, Alabama, was put on lockdown after someone going by the name “Flomo Clown” and “Shoota Clown” made what police called “terrorist threats” to the school. Thankfully authorities in that town were not your typical horror movie Sheriffs who demand to know “what you damn kids are up to” when someone reports a threat, and local police eventually nabbed the clown perpetrators. In South Carolina last year, creepy clowns were reported to be trying to lure children into the woods near one apartment complex. Is this just life imitating art or art imitating life? With the new IT movie sure to be a box office success, perhaps this Halloween season we will see more clowns hitting the streets to scare folks. Hopefully the most terrifying things happen only on the movie screen.
Are you frightened of clowns? Do you think Stephen King’s IT has ruined a once fun tradition?
A smart Muppet once said “Rubber Ducky you’re the one. You make bath time so much fun.” For those of us who are past rubber ducky age yet still want to have a killer time in the tub, the advent of “bath bombs” in recent years has spiced up getting a soak. Not to be confused with “bath salts” which will make you go on an actual murderous, face eating rampage, bath bombs come in different shapes and sizes, but are mainly small balls of hard packed ingredients that dissolve in water creating a nice scent while releasing wild colors. It’s like if Willy Wonka invented a trippy version of Alka-Seltzer to clean your backside.
Now a variety of fans are jumping into the geek culture inspired merch market with unique bath bombs of their own. Bath time isn’t just Child’s Play anymore! Except when it is: the folks over at Loquita Bath and Body have summoned up the likes of horror icon Chucky and his bride Tiffany and trapped their tiny souls in these scary looking bath bombs. While currently out of stock, they will soon be back for orders and will be reaping havoc in your bathroom at only $7 a pop. I imagine watching Chucky’s head melt in your bathtub will be just like a reenactment of the ending scene from Child’s Play 2 where Chucky melts into a pile of goo at the Good Guy doll factory. Gross! Seems like we are going to need a shower after that bath.
The still bathwater will suddenly start ominously quivering when you bring this bath bomb home. Another terrifying creation Loquita made is the Tyrannosaurus Rex eyeball from the original Jurassic Park! I think I would run screaming if someone threw that in the bathtub. “They were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should!” A second Jurassic Park inspired item is a sugar scrub titled “Clever Girl.” The puns uh, …will find a way.
For those of us with less of a taste for horror and gore, Loquita also offers bath bomb tributes to Brandon Lee’s character from the cult classic film, The Crow. If that isn’t enough 90’s goth nostalgia for you, they also have a bath bomb made of the purple hued lips of Fairuza Balk’s teen witch character from The Craft.
I’ve always wanted to do that thing where you watch Jaws in a swimming pool. However, now I’m going to have to download Jaws 1-4 on the old iPad while getting back in the water with a Jaws themed bath bomb called JAWSome from Porcelain Wolf. This bomb releases blue ocean colors with the smell of the seaside, but then as it dissolves the blue waters turn to a bloody red. We are going to need a bigger bathtub.
Beginning with Psycho the bathroom has had its fair share of murder scenes in movies. However, none are as creepy as the one in Wes Craven’s classic A Nightmare on Elm Street with Freddy’s blade hand coming out of the water. So, it is fitting that to top themselves after the Jaws bath bomb, Porcelain Wolf created one inspired by Freddy Krueger himself. You won’t be having a nice pleasant nap in the tub when this bath bomb dissolves into the colors of Freddy’s sweater. One, two Freddy’s coming for you!
Next, if superheroes are more your thing, you can have a splash with the Marvel lineup of characters. Even if Hugh Jackman is unavailable to share the tub, a variety of bath bombs are out there including this old school Wolverine from BombardiersBLISS. The bath bomb even has a surprise inside; a small Lego Wolverine! They also make a Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, and Deadpool to rescue you from a boring wash.
These Minions will melt your heart and each other as their yellow bodies slowly disintegrate into your bathwater. Nothing despicable here though as these cute bath bombs from The Island Bath and Body also come with a small Minion figure inside each one. Even Gru would approve!
If you could have any pop culture figure turned into a bath bomb, what would it be?
Ever curious about what goes on behind the scenes of the comic book industry? I imagine it’s steeped in egos, orgies, and alcohol…but that’s just me.
Kevin Eastman, David Avallone, and Ben Bishop along with Troy Little, Brittany Peer and Taylor Esposito are working on a “dramedy” (dark-comedy-drama) based on the “totally fictional, true story” of cartoonist, Shane Bookman, whose world exploded with the unanticipated popularity of Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls, about a trio of ninja-like, mutant felines inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise that Eastman co-created some 34 years ago.
As is the case sometimes when youth, naiveté, and success conspire to wreck things, Shane Bookman’s world eventually imploded, which Drawing Blood chronicles.
This 4 chapter, 112-page graphic novel is the vehicle the creative team is using to bring together the crazy industry stories they’ve heard of or have lived through themselves, inside and outside the comic industry, throughout the years.
In an interview with Nerd For A Living (N4AL) podcast host, Adron Buske, Eastman describes Drawing Blood as “a dash of Breaking Bad, a dash of Spinal Tap, a dash of Amadeus…and a dash of Comic Book Confidential,” which sounds like a pretty tasty amalgamation to me.
While the Drawing Blood team could have taken it to IDW to get published, they’re taking it to the fans in the form of a Kickstarter campaign. For Eastman, the act of bringing this project straight to the fans is a throwback to the period when he and Peter Laird first created TMNT and released it into the wild, sans publishers and editors.
In that N4AL interview, Eastman said that he and Drawing Blood co-creator, David Avallone, wanted to “go back to the basics” and “strip it down to a creative team working in a room and reaching out for the support of the fans.”
A successful Kickstarter campaign will allow this pedigreed team to immerse themselves in that grassroots, indie aura while establishing a baseline of support and de-risking their efforts to some degree.
The campaign is currently near 90% of goal with just 6 days left. I’m thinking with my personal network of about two dozen people (bots notwithstanding), this very post could ultimately be responsible for tipping the campaign into the black. Fingers crossed for a successful Kickstarter. I wanna know what happens to Books!
Update: The Drawing Blood Kickstarter campaign reached its goal and now the push is on for their stretch goal so check out the campaign before it ends.
How the Defenders’ Iron Fist got played! A step by step guide
In Marvel’s The Defenders Episode 3: “Worst Behavior” Danny Rand (Finn Jones), also known as the immortal Iron First is emboldened by his new Defender team mate Luke Cage’s (Mike Colter) reminder that he is a rich white kid in America.
Using his vast corporate network, AKA a quick accounting search, Danny uncovers the corporate arm of The Hand, the evil organization that killed Danny’s parents and more or less run the world. Armed with an office address, Danny walks right in demanding to speak to the CEO. But the plan doesn’t go as well as planned…
Sigourney Weaver: Villain of the Marvel’s Defenders
Sigourney Weaver stars as Alexandra Reid, the leader of the ancient and evil organization the Hand in Marvel’s Defenders. Stop reading now to avoid spoilers from Marvel’s Defenders Episode’s 1 – 6.
The character of Alexandra Reid quickly proves herself as a formidable foe, pushing a reborn Electra(Elodie Young) around and catching Danny off guard during his confrontation with the Hand’s corporate branch. In fact her strategy against Danny was so well played that we can all learn from it.
How to mess with Danny Rand
So here it goes, you’re Alexandra, the head of the most powerful and private organization in the world hanging out in your office catching up on Game of Thrones when you get a call from security saying that a visitor is demanding to speak to the CEO. You check the security cam and see Danny Rand, the troublesome immortal Iron first and key to saving your quickly shortening but immensely long life.
What do you do when a crazy ex business partner who can mess with your plans of world domination and immortality demands a meeting?
Step 1: Be a good host
Send your guest to a luxurious waiting room, make sure the heat is up to keep it comfortable. Have plenty of salty snacks and plenty of delicious beverages available.
Step 2: Call Security
As you are about to meet with an unstable competitor with a vengeance you can’t very well put your employees in danger, the important ones anyway. Instead you grab your most respectable looking security officers and a few interns, put them in nice suits, sit them around a conference table and voila.Throw in a couple of notebooks to realism.
Step 3: Enter the guest
Guide your guest to the boardroom but don’t worry about keeping them waiting a little extra. They didn’t have an appointment after all. Make sure to avoid the restrooms. Bring them into the boardroom.
Step 4: The game begins
Have all board members stare awkwardly at guest. Ensure that the guest speaks first – POWER MOVE!
Step 5: Interrupt
Watch from sidelines and right as your guest gets to the point sneak in and grab his arm familiarly. Leave your hand on him just long enough for it to become uncomfortable then allow him to continue.
Step 7: You own him now!
Take a seat at the table like you own it and enjoy knowing that all the restrooms are on lockdown.
Marvel’s The Defenders: on Netflix August 18th.
Official Synopsis: “Marvel’s The Defenders” follows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. A quartet of singular heroes with one common goal – to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize they just might be stronger when teamed together.
This weekend Annabelle: Creation opens in theaters nationwide.
It’s the second spin-off film to The Conjuring series and a direct prequel of 2014’s Annabelle. So, if you need to catch up on exactly how this all fits together, you can read my series recap to prepare yourself for Creation here.
This film actually takes place before the events of the last Annabelle movie. At this point in a long running horror franchise, fans can normally expect a huge drop off in production value and overall quality in content. The original team sold the rights long ago and the studio is looking to cash in! The good news is that is not the case with this latest entry. Director David Sandberg (Lights Out) dolls up the franchise with fresh scares. In fact, it might be one of the best of the series overall.
We meet a happy family, The Mullins in rural 1940’s western United States. Mr. Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) is a doll maker who crafts a decidedly creepy doll. Despite his choice in doll design, business is booming and a merchant in town has even placed an order for several. However, the good times end soon as on the way home from church one Sunday while the father is fixing a tire, the Mullin’s young daughter “Bee” is struck by a car on the side of the road and killed.
Twelve years later, a bus full of misplaced orphan girls and their nun, Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), are headed down the same road to live in the large house with the Mullins who have graciously invited them to stay there until they can be adopted. Mrs. Mullins (Miranda Otto) is now bedridden and her status is a source of creepy speculation for the girls. One night two of the orphans swear that she was trying to scare them despite Mr. Mullins claiming his wife hasn’t been out of bed in years.
Understandably the couple are not the same happy people they were before the loss of their daughter, and Mr. Mullins frightens the curious Janice (Talitha Bateman), who is suffering from polio. When Janice attempts to go into the late Bee’s room he firmly tells her that the door is to remain locked and we firmly know what is going to happen next.
Sure, enough Janice peeks
inside only to discover the strange Annabelle doll locked in a closet in the dead girl’s room, complete with a cross hanging inside and the walls covered in pages of the Bible. The doll does its creepy doll thing, moving on its own and appearing to open and shut doors.
I don’t know what kid would see all of that and decide to stick around but Janice and her best friend and confidant Linda (Lulu Wilson) are the quintessential horror movie characters that make you scream “don’t go in there!” or “why did they do that?!” Soon Janice is seeing the Mullin’s dead daughter Bee, however, if you have already seen the first Annabelle movie and are familiar with how things work in The Conjuring series (SPOILER) then we know that that is NOT really going to be their daughter… but as Loraine Warren would say “something evil that was NEVER human.”
While the demon lurking inside the doll is a spawn from hell intent on taking the soul of a young girl in order to assume human form, the man of the house is kind of a dick as well. While at first it seems altruistic that this man with a deceased daughter and a sickly wife would offer his large home to a group of young, orphan girls, something else more sinister is afoot. During the first act, I kept thinking: “He must KNOW”- and sure enough Mr. Mullins knows about the demon doll and decided to invite the girls to live with him anyway. Dick move, bro. Dick move.
This film stands on its own as a solid horror movie and its own story. If you have never seen The Conjuring or even the first Annabelle movie, don’t worry. Aside from reading my series recap, you will be all set. However, there are a few fun fanboy easter eggs sprinkled throughout.
One of the first The Conjuring references that jumped out at me was the use of crucifixes in this film. While any demon possession story is going to have a few, The Conjuring uses the crucifix prominently and often upside down. When the Mullins first walk into their house, the engravings on their front door have crosses coming from the bottom and top just like in the scene in The Conjuring 2 where crosses placed on the wall begin to turn upside down.
The next tie-in to The Conjuring is through Sister Charlotte. We get a glimpse of her backstory when she is unpacking and Mr. Mullins sees a photo of her with several other nuns. She explains this was from her time overseas at a small convent in Rome and names the sisters present. However, Mr. Mullins points out another ghostly figure of a nun in the background she does not recognize. This is clearly the evil nun, the demon Valak from the last Conjuring film, which will also be making an appearance in an upcoming spinoff movie, The Nun, due out in 2018.
I also believe true fans of The Conjuring/ Annabelle series will probably guess a few plot points and the twist ending from a mile away. However, Annabelle: Creation does a great job of tying together the franchise while giving some great visual scares. I should also note I saw the film in a Dolby Cinema theater which had an incredible sound system, punching me in the chest with each sound effect. This only added to the foreboding feeling of dread the girls on screen were going through.
Have you seen Annabelle: Creation? What did you think of the film?
Annabelle: Creation hits theaters nationwide Friday, August 11th and in a unique twist the film is actually a prequel to a prequel of The Conjuring: the series is going backwards in time. This will be the fourth film in the franchise and if you are like me it can be super tough to keep track of and remember what is going on in a long running series. While I can’t wait to see what demon hunters and a creepy possessed doll are up to this time, I have to furiously Google the plot points of the previous films when I get to the theater so I don’t miss anything. That is why I have put together another franchise recap to get you up to speed on the ins and outs of Ed and Loraine Warren’s paranormal investigations. We will be retiring haunted items on our demon shelf in no time!
NOTE: it is safe to say there are SPOILERS if you have not seen the previous Conjuring films.
In 2013 director James Wan (of SAW fame) made what would be the first in The Conjuring series which follows the supposedly “true” stories (more on that later) of paranormal investigators Ed and Loraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who rose to fame in the 1970’s and 80’s. They were a real-life version of the team that shows up in Poltergeist to help a haunted family. Ed Warren passed on to the next realm in 2006, but Loraine is still here on this plane of existence to lend her soul to movie studios. The series is tangentially related to what was up until now the most famous of the Warren cases: The Amityville Horror. Amityville, the story of a man following in the footsteps of his homes previous owner, murdering his family while possessed by a demon, is referenced in The Conjuring, but Wan indicated that wanted to tell a different Warren story as the former has already been filmed and re-filmed nearly a dozen times.
What follows is a classic story of a young family moving into an old house only to discover that it is haunted. (Up until Paranormal Activity, it was a safe bet that horror movie characters should only buy brand new condos if they want to live.) In 1971, the Perron family including Roger and Carolyn with their five daughters; Andrea, Nancy, Christine, Cindy and April get a sweet deal on a rundown farmhouse in Rhode Island. Right away things go sideways when the family dog ends up dead and the children can’t get a good night’s sleep, what with all the loud clapping, an angry spirit threatening to kill the whole family and mom Carolyn being trapped in the spooky basement by an unseen force. So, like any good mother, Carolyn finds demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren who make a living lecturing at college campuses on their work (today I’m sure some college would make an entire curriculum out of demon hunting.) Carolyn convinces the Warrens to come and take a look at the house. While there, Lorraine is able to use her Spidey sense to detect many spirits in the house and becomes freaked out by one that she says is very hostile. The Warrens recommend a full exorcism of the home (hopefully home owners insurance covers green pea soup stains), but they need permission from the Catholic Church before they go ahead with a complete demon removal.
The pair do research on the property and discover that, in the 1800’s, the place belonged to an accused witch named Bathsheba, who was totally a bad witch. Bathsheba murdered her own one-week old baby as a sacrifice to the devil and put a curse on the land and anyone who would live there. The evil witch killed herself in 1863, and since then the house has been plagued by murders and suicides. Oof, I bet the real-estate agent did not tell them that nugget of property history. The Perrons attempt to escape by staying at a motel; however, this doesn’t work as the witch is “attached’ to the family now. After conducting some recordings, the Warrens get the Church on board with the exorcism.
However, before the priest can arrive, Bathsheba possesses Carolyn and takes Christine and April back to the house where she plans to sacrifice them just like old times.
Luckily Ed shows up and stops her, tying Carolyn to a chair where he must give the exorcism himself: the power of Ed compels you! In the process Carolyn breaks free and is about to kill her daughter, April, when Loraine distracts her allowing Ed to finish the exorcism, ridding Carolyn of Bathsheba and lifting the curse on the house. At the end of the movie when the Warrens return home, they place a music box from the Perron’s home in their room of haunted artifacts. It spontaneously opens and begins to play on its own. While this happens, we overhear a conversation that the Warrens are going to go investigate a case in Long Island, wink, wink- Amityville reference!
The second film in the series, Annabelle came out in 2014 as a prequel to The Conjuring. In the first film, we meet the Warrens and they are talking to people that are also seeking their help over the story of a possessed doll. Annabelle starts out with that entire scene from the first film and then gives viewers the complete backstory. Sadly though, Annabelle does not connect The Conjuring universe to Chucky.
The story then follows the case of John and Mia Form in the late 1960’s in Santa Monica, California. As the young couple are expecting the birth of their first child, a baby girl, Mia wants an expensive antique doll, and as a surprise one-day John gets it for her. However, the doll is soon ruined for her in the most horrific way imaginable. Mia hears fighting sounds happening from her next-door neighbors and calls police; when she goes out to investigate, a crazy man and woman attack her. Luckily the police arrive and kill the man, while the woman dramatically slits her own throat after grabbing hold of the doll. A drop of the woman’s blood splashes it’s face. We learn that the woman’s name was “Annabelle” and Mia soon wants to rid herself of the tarnished doll, having John throw it away; boom first mistake.
Later a fire erupts in their home and as the pregnant lady is attempting to escape, an unseen force pulls her back toward the flames. Luckily, she is rescued but more strange things keep happening. After moving to a new apartment, and having the successful birth of their daughter Leah, the DOLL shows up, even though John had thrown it away. After more paranormal things happen in the apartment, Mia investigates by talking to police detectives about the woman who killed herself. Funny story! It turns out that Annabelle and the man were into the occult and had wanted to summon a demon by claiming a soul.
Mia decided to do a little research; in horror movies this means going to a library or an old book store. Mia hits up the book store where she meets a woman who works there named Evelyn. Evelyn, seeing the occult books Mia is reading, drops some insider knowledge on the situation. She thinks Annabelle wants Leah’s soul. Evelyn relates to Mia as she had a daughter who died in a car accident because of Evelyn. When Evelyn was going to kill herself, her dead daughter whispered in her ear that it is “not her time to go yet.” Creepy. Having corroboration that the doll is in fact evil, Mia and John contact their priest who agrees to come and take the doll from their house. However, when he attempts to take it into his church, the ghost of Annabelle is not having it and attacks the poor man. Having had enough from this annoying demon doll, Mia tries to destroy it. However, the spirit inside warns her that the only way to stop it from taking her daughters’ soul is if she sacrifices herself instead. Like a good mom she takes the doll and is about to jump out the window, but John and Evelyn are there in time to stop her. Instead Evelyn takes Annabelle the doll and sacrifices herself instead to make up for the death of her daughter, and it is now her time to go. The doll possession seems to have been lifted. Six months later Mia and John and their daughter are just fine. However, we see a woman from the opening scene who had been talking to the Warrens purchasing the doll for her own child and learn that the doll is now locked up in the Warren’s special haunted artifact room. Side note: who here would watch a crossover “Annabelle Vs Chucky?!”
The Conjuring 2
In 2016, the Wan directed The Conjuring 2 and jumped back into the main series following Ed and Loraine Warren. This time we start off with the Warrens in the mid 1970’s conducting a séance where Loraine relives the Amityville horrors before being lured into a basement by a demonic looking nun where she sees Ed impaled and murdered in the vision. Then we jump to London, England where the Hodgson family is having some paranormal happenings. Their child Janet has been caught sleep walking and having a conversation with the ghost of an elderly man who sits in the chair in the corner and angrily yells at her that she is in his house. “I see dead people!” Soon, mother Peggy and the other children are seeing things move around the house and are terrified. They stay with neighbors but soon word gets out about the haunting and the media comes calling to interview the family. Talking to a reporter Janet becomes possessed by the spirit of a man named Bill Wilkins who died in the house. He likes to mess with the family as he wants them to leave so he can have peace in his house. The media attention causes the Hodgson’s story to get to the Warrens who are invited by the church to come and investigate if the story is real or a big hoax.
At this time Loraine is reluctant to continue with their paranormal investigations as the vision of the evil nun killing Ed has her worried. However Ed wants to do the right thing and help the family sine he and Loraine are one of the few people in the world who believe folks in these type of situations.
Once in London however, other investigators helping the Warrens make a video in which they discover Janet pretending to be possessed and destroying the family kitchen on purpose. This leads the Warrens to declaring the whole thing a hoax and leaving the investigation. However. Loraine soon finds out that the haunting is real. Not only that the old man’s spirit is being used by an evil demon: The Demonic Nun! The Warrens rush back to the house to find that the rest of the family is locked out while a possessed Janet is inside. Ed goes in the house but as he does lightning strikes, cracking open a tree on the front yard which creates a large protruding wooden shard; just like the one Loraine saw in her vision! In a dramatic rescue, reminiscent of the ending of Annabelle, Ed grabs Janet before she can lea through the widow to her death. However, as he grabs her, he clutches the window’s curtain and ends up hanging on, out the window, perilously dangling above the large spike. Just in time Loraine remembers that she has the name of the demon written down in her Bible: Valak. As we all remember, having a demon’s name is the key to getting rid of it and Loraine successfully gets Valak out of Janet, stopping the possession and freeing the girl. In the end the Warrens add “The Crooked Man” toy from the Hodgson’s to their shelf of haunted artifacts, placing it next to the music box from the first film and the Annabelle doll. We are then reminded that this was all supposedly true as the text on the screen says that Peggy lived in that same house the rest of her life until she died in 2003 in the same spot as the old man who had haunted her.
As a skeptic, whenever the tagline “based on a true story” or “inspired by true events” is employed for the promotion of a horror film, I immediately roll my eyes. Although I am a huge horror fan and can suspend my disbelief for most things, as soon as things start flying around the room I can’t help thinking about that poster in the lobby that claims it is all real. The only film to deal with using “true events” as the source material for a horror movie successfully in my book is The Exorcism of Emily Rose where two versions of events are shown. One version is from the viewpoint of the family of the girl claiming that their daughter was possessed by a demon and who was killed during an exorcism. The other by authorities who assert that the young woman with epilepsy was abused by her religious extremist parents and priest. More often than not this is the case in these “real life” horror stories. It’s just some crazy folks looking for attention. The real Ed and Loraine Warren came under a constant stream of criticism for giving credence to such family situations in order to attain their own fame and fortune.
In fact this past March, Warner Brothers and The Conjuring franchise filmmakers were sued for an insane $900 million dollars by author Gerald Brittle, who wrote a 1980 book, “The Demonologist” which details stories depicted in The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2. Brittle claims that he had a contract with the Warrens preventing any further works to be derived from these stories without his involvement or permission. However, the studio says since these stories are historical fact they do not need to obtain legal clearance from Brittle. As part of the lawsuit, Brittle is essentially admitting that the stories were fabricated, and the filmmakers are not using “true events” as a basis for the series but his original, creative fictional storytelling, and therefore owe him compensation for story credit on the movies. This also means that a Fortune 500 company is taking the legal position in the court of law that demons and demon possession are real. So, unless Annabelle herself gets up and walks across the courtroom, this guy might actually have a case! However, what is even stranger is that Brittle waited until after the third movie in the series to file a lawsuit.
My suggestion is to put all of the above aside and go into Annabelle: Creation (and the rest of The Conjuring series) taking it as fiction. So far, the series has had some hits and misses, but real or not, there is something about the topic of demonic possession that is very compelling for audiences. Check back next week for my full review of Annabelle: Creation!