“Birth of the Living Dead” aka “Year of the Living Dead” (2013) / Z-View

Birth of the Living Dead aka Year of the Living Dead (2013)

Director:  Rob Kuhns

Written by: Rob Kuhns

Starring:  George A. Romero, Elvis Mitchell, Mark Harris, Gale Anne Hurd and Bill Hinzman.

Tagline:  1968. Peace. Love. And the undead.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Rob Kuhns goes behind the scenes on the making of Night of the Living Dead.  George Romero is interviewed and some of his earlier commercials are shared.  Elvis Mitchell, Mark Harris, Gale Anne Hurd, Bill Hinzman and others share the impact Night of the Living Dead made on them.  If you’re a George Romero or Night of the Living Dead fan, then this is for you.  I give it 4 of 5 stars.

RIP: Tim Sale

Tim Sale died yesterday at the age of 66.  No cause of death was given.

Tim Sale is best known for his collaborations with writer Jeph Loeb.  A few of the series that they created for DC include: Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, Superman for All Seasons and Catwoman: When in Rome.  For Marvel Comics, the duo created Daredevil: Yellow, Spider-Man: Blue, Hulk: Gray and Captain America: White.

Mr. Sale is also known for his work with Darwyn Cooke on Superman: Confidential, Grendel with Matt Wagner and Deathblow with Jim Lee.  Any comic that Tim Sale worked on was worth picking up because of Sale’s unique spin on characters.  Tim Sale won an Eisner Award in 1999 in the “Best Artist/Penciller/Inker” category.  Tim Sale also provided art for the television series Heroes.

I was fortunate to meet Tim Sale a few times at conventions over the years.  In 2011, Tim Sale did a wonderful sketch for me at MegaCon. Tim said that he wanted to do Rocky from the first movie.  He chose to draw Rocky the loan collector who worked for his friend Gazzo.  Tim Sale also added his turtles Cuff and Link. My buddy, John Higashi was responsible for making it happen.  Thanks to John Higashi, I also attended a dinner with Tim Sale and other artists.

Tim Sale was an amazing artist.  By all accounts he was a kind and gracious man.  The number of news organizations reporting his passing and remembrances from people around the world is testimony to his impact.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tim Sale’s family, friends and fans.

“D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?” – The Documentary Trailer is Here!

I had just turned 13 when D.B. Cooper disappeared with $200,000 in cash.  He jumped out of a jet at night – something even trained parachutists wouldn’t have tried.  A portion of the money was found, but D.B. Cooper never was.

Deal me in!

In 1971, a skyjacker parachutes off a plane with a bag of stolen cash — and gets away with it. Decades later, his identity remains a compelling mystery.

“No Time to Die” (2021) / Z-View

No Time to Die (2021)

Director:  Cary Joji Fukunaga

Screenplay:  Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Story by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga

Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Christoph Waltz  and Billy Magnussen

Tagline: Bond is Back

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Five years ago Bond (Craig) was almost killed in an assassination attempt that appeared to be setup by Madeline (Seydoux), a woman he deeply loves.  After putting her on a train and vowing to never see her again, Bond dropped off the grid.

Now Bond has been contacted by Felix Leiter (Wright), his friend and CIA contact.  Leiter wants Bond’s help in capturing Lyutsifer Safin (Malek) and taking down Project Heracles – nanobots created to kill people based on specific DNA codes.   Bond agrees and finds himself at odds with his MI6 (British Secret Service) as well as the new 007 (Lynch)!  The stakes are raised when Project Heracles is used against SPECTRE and Madeline becomes involved.

No Time To Die is the bookend to Daniel Craig’s Casino RoyaleNo Time to Die doesn’t feel like a typical James Bond film.  It is grimmer.  There’s no subtle winks at the audience.  There’s a weight and sadness to Bond. Let’s break it down…

The Story: I liked the story. As with most James Bond films the stakes are high and probably never higher.

Craig’s Bond:  My favorite James Bond film is Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig.  I thought he was perfect as James Bond who is just coming into MI6.  He’s not yet the suave Bond who is capable to handle every situation.  With that said, Sean Connery remains my favorite Bond.  So, getting back to No Time to Die, Craig is now an older Bond.  He gets the opportunity to show us the suave Bond, but there’s a weariness to him.  It works for this film, but my preference is the Bond that Sean Connery embodied.

The Opening / Song:  Usually Bond films open with a big stunt.  No Time To Die takes a bit to get to the stunt sequence, but it should satisfy fans.  Billie Eilish provides the opening song.  I thought it was just okay and the same with the title sequence.

New 007:  Lashana Lynch plays the new 007.  I like the rivalry between Lynch and Craig; as well as their growing respect.  Lynch is good in what she’s given to do and has charisma.

Paloma: Ana de Armas is Bond’s new partner early in the film.  She’s pretty and believable in the action beats.

Madeline: Léa Seydoux returns and is believable as the woman that James Bond would fall in love with.

MI6: Ralph Fiennes returns as M.  This time he’s at odds with Bond.  Their scenes are tense and I loved their exchanges.  Ben Whishaw returns as Q.  He has a small but important role; he’s not just the gadgets guy any more.  I love Naomie Harris as Moneypenny.  I can never get enough of her.

Felix Leiter:  Jeffrey Wright is such a great actor.  It is great that he had an expanded role.

Lyutsifer Safin:  Rami Malek is perfect.  Safin is scary not because of his physical presence, but his voice and look (this dude never blinks) let’s you know you’re dealing with a cold blooded killer.

Blofeld: Christoph Waltz returns in a small but pivotal role.  The movie is better by having him.

Primo (Cyclops):  James Bond films are famous for their memorable henchmen.  Dali Benssalah excels as Primo, the killer with the bionic eye.

Logan Ash:  Billy Magnussen plays a character you love to hate… and does it well.

I really liked No Time to Die.  I can’t say it exceeded my expectations, but it did surprise me.  There’s a twist I didn’t believe was coming.  No Time to Die makes a good bookend to the Daniel Craig Bond era and rates 4 of 5 stars.

DARK OF NIGHT by Jonathan Maberry & Rachael Lavin!

Jonathan Maberry is one of the best and most prolific writers working today.  His Joe Ledger series is my favorite.  Others prefer his Dead of Night/Fall of Night or Rot & Ruin series.  I’ve read them as well and wouldn’t argue against someone liking them better.  With his new novel, Dark of Night, Maberry does something he’s not done before: He collaborates with Rachael Lavin and combines characters from all three of his series!

Dark of Night: The dead rose. We fell. The survivors are trapped in a world of monsters who prey on the helpless. Some of them are zombies…but they are not the only predators who feed on pain and suffering. DARK OF NIGHT is a story of worlds in collision. Three heroes who have survived the apocalypse are in a deadly race to save a busload of children from ravenous zombies and ruthless human scavengers. This brand new novella brings together three of New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry’s award-winning novel series. Captain Joe Ledger (PATIENT ZERO and CODE ZERO), Officer Desdemona Fox (DEAD OF NIGHT and FALL OF NIGHT), and Rachael Elle (BITS & PIECES, a Rot & Ruin novel) are caught between an endless wave of the living dead and an army of corrupt men who want to enslave the last human survivors. Jonathan Maberry teams with debut novelist Rachael Lavin to tell a sweeping story of adventure, horror, and heroism. Flesh and Fire: In the midst of a midlife crisis, Todd is haunted by Chloe, the lover who died not long after their relationship ended. When Chloe escapes Hell in search of the peaceful rest that has eluded her, a demon named Samael is on her trail and she needs Todd’s help. While on the run Todd and Chloe face demons real and personal, soul-threatening danger, and their long-buried feelings for each other.

Dark of Night Paperback
Dark of Night Kindle

“Blood Crime” (2002) / Z-View

Blood Crime (2002)

Director: William A. Graham

Screenplay:  Mark Lawrence Miller, Preston A. Whitmore II

Starring:  James Caan, Johnathon Schaech and Elizabeth Lackey.

Tagline: Revenge can be murder.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Daniel Pruitt (Schaech) and his wife Jessica (Lackey) are camping in the woods.  Daniel leaves Jessica for a snack run to a nearby store.  When he returns, Jessica has been brutally attacked.  As he races to get her to the hospital, he sideswipes a semi.  When the driver gets out, Jessica identifies the man as her attacker!  Daniel severely beats the trucker and leaves him in the back of the semi.

When Daniel gets to the hospital, Jessica identifies an orderly as her attacker!  Daniel sees a group of officers and demands to see the Sheriff McKenna (Caan).  McKenna tries to put Daniel off, but relents and says, “Walk with me. Give me a minute.”   They go to another room where a body is covered by a sheet.  When the sheet is lifted, it is the trucker that Daniel beat up…  who happens to be Sheriff McKenna’s son!

Daniel didn’t kill the Sheriff’s son, but the evidence makes him look guilty!  Daniel believes that whoever attacked Jessica is also the murderer.  Daniel is running out of time to prove his innocence and find the person who did the crimes. Sheriff McKenna plans to murder whoever killed his son and Daniel looks guilty.  As you can imagine it all comes to a, uh, smashing ending.

Blood Crime rates 2 of 5 stars.  Not even James Caan can save this one.

“Tulsa King” Starring Sylvester Stallone – The Teaser is Here!

We’ve all been waiting for the first teaser/trailer for Tulsa King.  It is here and doesn’t disappoint!

TULSA KING follows New York mafia capo Dwight “The General” Manfredi (Sylvester Stallone), just after he is released from prison after 25 years and unceremoniously exiled by his boss to set up shop in Tulsa, Okla. Realizing that his mob family may not have his best interests in mind, Dwight slowly builds a “crew” from a group of unlikely characters, to help him establish a new criminal empire in a place that to him might as well be another planet. The series also stars Andrea Savage (“I’m Sorry”), Martin Starr (“Silicon Valley”), Max Casella (“The Tender Bar”), Domenick Lombardozzi (“The Irishman”), Vincent Piazza (“Boardwalk Empire”), Jay Will (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), A.C. Peterson (“Superman & Lois”) with Garrett Hedlund (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”).

The series will be executive-produced by Sheridan, Winter, Stallone, David C. Glasser, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari, David Hutkin and Allen Coulter. Braden Aftergood is also set to executive-produce.

“Interceptor” (2022) / Z-View

Interceptor (2022)

Director:  Matthew Reilly

Screenplay:   Matthew Reilly, Stuart Beattie

Starring:  Elsa Pataky, Luke Bracey, Aaron Glenane, Mayen Mehta and Chris Hemsworth.

Tagline:  The World’s last defense.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers

Captain J.J. Collins (Pataky) has just been reassigned to one of two remote US interceptor launch locations.  These interceptor sites protect the US from nuclear strikes by taking out the nukes before they get close enough to do damage.  Collins’ reassignment feels like a demotion for bringing charges against a respected General.

As Collins is getting acclimated, word comes in that the other US interceptor site has been taken down by terrorists.  As Collins and crew process this information, terrorists attempt to breach their control center.  The commanding officer and all of the soldiers outside of the control center are killed.  The terrorists plan to take out this last interceptor site and then launch sixteen stolen nukes at cities across the US.  They are led by the brilliant and egotistical, Alexander Kessel (Bracey) who is sending a video feed to the world.  The only thing standing between the fall of the United States is Captain J.J.  Collins and two soldiers.  They’re outnumbered, outgunned, but not out of the fight!

I absolutely loved Interceptor.  If you’re a fan of 80s action movies, then this should be your jam.

Matthew Reilly, is an internationally best-selling author who writes non-stop action novels.  He co-wrote and directed Interceptor.  I had no idea Reilly was branching out.  Interceptor was his first time directing, but you’d never know it.  I hope to see him helming future films.

Stuart Beattie, who co-wrote Interceptor, is probably best known as the screenwriter for Collateral starring Tom Cruise and 30 Days of NightInterceptor fits nicely in his resume.

Elsa Pataky is believable as the smart, tough as nails, Captain J.J. Collins.  I could see her starring in a sequel.  Pataky’s husband, Chris Hemsworth, has a small, uncredited role.  He’s there for some comic relief and I enjoyed his part.

Luke Bracey excels as the arrogant Alexander Kessel.  He makes an excellent villain.  He’s cocky, overconfident and sure of his charm.  It was cool seeing him trying to hold it together as his plan was failing.

Aaron Glenane plays a soldier you just want to smack.  He’s got a stupid look to match his intellect.  Hats off to Glenane for making the most of his character.

Interceptor isn’t going to win any Academy Awards.  It’s not a film that will change your life, but if you’re looking for an hour and a half of fun action, then give Interceptor a try.  I loved it and Interceptor earns 5 of 5 stars.

ROBERT B. PARKER’S IRONHORSE by Robert Knott / Z-View

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse by Robert Knott

Hardcover : ‎ 374 pages
Publisher: ‎ G.P. Putnam’s Sons

First sentence…

Virgil was sullen.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Territorial Marshall Virgil Cole and his Deputy, Everette Hitch are on a passenger train after delivering prisoners.  On board, in addition to Cole, Hitch and various passengers are the Governor of Texas, his wife, two daughters, a few bodyguards and $500,000.00 in cash!  When Bloody Bob Brandice and some cutthroats attempt steal the cash, Cole and Hitch disrupt their plans.

As the train barrels through the rainy night, Bloody Bob matches wits and blazing six guns with Cole and Hitch.  Things are looking bad for the thieves until they do something unexpected — they disconnect the train cars from the engine!  Cole, Hitch and passengers are on a runaway train as the cars with Bloody Bob, his crew and the Governor’s daughters get farther and farther away!

Robert Knott was an excellent choice to continue Robert B. Parker’s Cole & Hitch series.  Ironhorse is an easy read and starts off like a, uh, runaway train.  I’m a fan of the series and this book.  It rates 4 of 5 stars.

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse Hardcover

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse Kindle

Robert B. Parker’s Ironhorse Paperback

RIP: Philip Baker Hall

Philip Baker Hall died last night peacefully in his sleep surrounded by loved ones.  Mr. Hall was 90.

While you may not recognize Philip Baker Hall’s name, you surely recognize his face if you’re a movie or tv fan.  Mr. Hall was a character actor in the truest sense of the word.  With 185 roles on his resume, Mr. Hall alternated between feature films and television.

Some of the television shows featuring Mr. Hall include: Emergency!, Good Times, Man from Atlantis, MASH, The Waltons, Quincy, Cagney & Lacey, TJ Hooker, Benson, Miami Vice, Family Ties, Flacon Crest, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Seinfeld, Cheers, Chicago Hope, Third Rock from the Sun, Monk, Boston Legal, The West Wing and Modern Family.

Mr. Hall also appeared in his share of feature films, including: Midnight Run, Say Anything, Ghostbusters II, An Innocent Man, Kiss of Death, Hard Eight, The Rock, Air Force One, Boogie Nights, The Truman Show, Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, The Sum of All Fears, Rush Hour 3, Zodiac and Argo.

Philip Baker Hall was an actor that you’d see and think, “It’s THAT guy!”  I loved him as Lt. Joe Bookman in the two episodes of Seinfeld that he did.  He was also excellent as the star of Hard Eight, where he played a tough professional gambler.  Whenever Philip Baker Hall was in the credits, you knew the show or movie would be better for it.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Philip Baker Hall’s family, friends and fans.

“The Wizard of Oz” (1925) / Z-View

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

Director: Larry Semon

Screenplay:  Larry Semon, L. Frank Baum Jr. based on The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Starring:  Larry Semon, Dorothy Dwan, Frank Alexander, Charles Murray, Josef Swickerd, Oliver Hardy, Mary Carr and Spencer Bell.

Tagline: The Thrilling Comedy Cyclone! The Wonderful Land of Oz! The Den of Man Eating Lions! The Famous Scarecrow and Tin Man! The Startling Airplane Rescue! The 100 Foot Leap for Life! All combined in the greatest screen novelty ever made.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

The movie begins with a toymaker reading The Wizard of Oz to his granddaughter…

Dorothy (Dwan) is a just-turned 18 year old who was left on Auntie Em’s (Carr) doorstep as a baby.  In reality, Dorothy is the rightful heir to the throne in the land of Oz.  When a tornado deposits Dorothy, and three farmhands in Oz, the evil Prime Minister Kruel (Swickerd) realizes that the true ruler has returned.

Kruel sends his soldiers to do away with Dorothy and crew.  To escape, one of the farmhands disguises himself as a scarecrow, another a tin woodsman and later the third ends up in a lion suit.  Will Dorothy survive and be crowned queen?  Will Prime Minister Kruel and Lady Vishuss be deposed?  (Psst!  It’s a kid’s book, so what do you think?)

Larry Semon was a popular comedian of the day.  Semon wrote, produced and starred in this version of The Wizard of Oz.  The Scarecrow gets most film time and he’s played by, you guessed it, Larry Semon.  Semon had a love for big budgets and tons sight gags. The Wizard of Oz has both.  We get a lot of visual gags, and the ending even features Semon climbing and swinging between towers while being shot at with a canon, a leap to a rope ladder from a passing plane and more.

A young pre-Laurel & Hardy, Oliver Hardy appears in the film playing the farmhand who becomes the Tin Man.  Spencer Bell (an African-American actor) is billed a G. Howe Black and appears in a few scenes that even at that time were thought as demeaning as his billing.

The Wizard of Oz (1925) earns a 3 of 5 star rating.