Category: Movies

As We Head into Halloween How About These Books, Graphic Novels and Movies

Man, I love Halloween!

As we get closer to the big night, I find myself drawn to scary books and movies. For some reason even more so this year. Maybe it’s because there are so many good ones available.

I just finished reading Steve Niles‘ Dial M for MonsterDial M is a book of short stories featuring his monster hunter, Cal McDonald. You’ve heard me praise Niles‘ work before and this book is no exception. I love everything about the world Niles has created for Cal [and I’m especially glad I can safely visit without fear of vampires, werewolves, fiends or other creatures coming after me!]. I’d suggest that you start with Guns, Drugs and Monsters [the first novel in the series] and then follow it up with Savage Membrane [the second].

If you’d like to get a taste of Niles‘ work before commiting to a novel, then by all means check out 30 Days of Night. This award winning comic series [with art by the extremely talented Ben Templesmith] is being developed into a feature film produced by none other than Sam Raimi! Why wait for the film? The graphic novel is available now and well worth every penny!

Changing gears just a bit… on Tuesday, one of my two favorite movies so far this year, becomes available! That’s right 28 Days Later is available Tuesday! Man, I can’t wait!

If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably a real horror fan. You probably already know that a Dawn of the Dead remake starring Ving Rhames is coming out next March. But did you know that the trailer is available now? At first I didn’t think that a re-make of Dawn of the Dead was a good idea since the original trilogy [Night of the Living DeadDawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead] by George Romero are considered cult classics. But I did like the remake of Night of the Living Dead ]… and Ving Rhames is starring… so why not?

Plus, it’ll give me one more thing to love about Halloween!

Kill Bill Disappoints

I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarintino’s work. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are two of my favorite movies. From Dusk till Dawn is as well. [And yes, I know that Robert Rodriguez directed it!] I loved everything about the original trailer for “Kill Bill.” The look. The music. The stars. How could it miss?
Let me tell you how. [Minor spoilers ahead.]
“Kill Bill” starts off well enough. It begins with a scratchy, cheesy “Now For Our Feature Presentation” intro straight out of the drive-ins that I loved as a kid. There’s also the retro “Presented in Shaw-Scope” title card, the “Revenge is a dish best served cold” Klingon quote, and the Sonny Bono song, “Bang, Bang” playing over the credits. Yeah baby, Quentin was tapping in to everything that we loved about this genre from our childhood.
Then the movie starts with a bang. Literally. Uma Thurman is shot in the head and left for dead. But she’s not really dead… just in a coma for four years. And when she wakes up she must have her revenge. Great set-up.

The action is over-the-top and brutal. The first payback that we see is really well done. It has the right mix of Tarantino heightened reality, humor and action. Then we have a flashback to the hospital and this is where the movie starts to loose me. There are a couple of scenes with a red neck and Buck the orderly that just really push the envelope. And for some reason everything after that seemed truly excessive and redundant.
How many arterial sprays do we need to see? How many limbs chopped off? But before we get to that gore we have to sit through an anime cartoon [which is pretty well done but again, very gory], a boring dialogue about tea, and discussion about why Uma needs a specific man to make her sword.
When I left the theater, I was disappointed. I had been hoping to see a really fun, really exciting revenge film. To make matters even worse, we don’t get to see how everything turns out, since “Kill Bill, Volume 2” doesn’t come out until February. The funny thing is, I didn’t hate the movie. I’m not sure I even disliked it. I was disappointed… but disappointed enough not to see the rest?

I guess we’ll know in February.

“Kill Bill”



I saw Underworld today [which fits right in with our monster movie theme of late].Underworld tells the story of a centuries old war between vampires and werewolves. It has tons of action and effects but feels like it could have been shortened a bit. Also, with Underworld, the more you think about it, the more you find to question. It’s fun while it’s going on, but doesn’t hold up under examination. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, yet if you like this sort of thing, then it’s probably the sort of thing that you’ll like. ; )

On another note, the trailer for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre played before Underworld. I haven’t seen the orginal in years [and didn’t really care for it when I saw it], but this remake looks interesting… As does Gothica with Halle Berry [both of which also fit our continuing horro theme].
“Underworld” rates a C

House of the Dead

Well, it seems I’m not alone in my love of horror movies. That being the case, I thought I’d tell you about another monster movie that you may be interested in.It’s called House of the Dead and looks like something that I’d have caught as the second feature back in the day of drive-ins. [Man, how I miss those days!]

House of the Dead has an interesting trailer and a classic plot. A group of young people find themselves stranded on an island with a group of zombies that want to kill / eat them.

If I go to see it, am I expecting a classic? No. An award-winning film? No. A scary good time? Yeah. And what more should you ask from a drive-in movie?

Frankenstein, Wolfman & Dracula: Together Again!

As most of you know, I love a good horror movie. I’ll watch most any kind of horror film from the giant bug movies of the 50’s to the unstoppable serial killers of recent days. But my favorite type of horror movies are ones with great monsters.
Especially the classic monsters.
The Wolfman.

These are the big three. The kings of the hill. The monsters that other monsters aspire to be.

And next summer they’ll all be in the same movie!

Van Helsing stars Hugh Jackman as the famed vampire killer, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.

In the screenplay, written and directed by Stephen Sommers, Van Helsing goes to Transylvania to hunt down and kill Count Dracula, and finds himself up against the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster as well. How cool does that sound?

Cool enough that even though the movie doesn’t come out until May of next year, they’re already planning a tv series “based” on the idea and leaving the door open for sequels.

And that’s just great news for horror movie fans like me!

“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” / Z-View

I saw Robert Rodriguez’s “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” today. I’d really been looking forward to it. I first saw “El Mariachi” years ago and became a Rodriguez fan. Then came “Desparado,” and “Dusk Til Dawn” and Rodriguez was on the “A” list. So when Rodriguez decided to create an epic “Mariachi” film, he was able to get Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Reuben Blades, and Willem Dafoe, to join the returning Antonio Bandaras, Salema Hayek, and Danny Trejo.With a cast like that and Rodriguez at the helm, it just had to be good, right? Yeah, but I was really hoping it would be so much better. Bandaras is back as THE Mariachi but this time he’s gonna save Mexico.

Ok, cool. An epic film should have a huge story and what could be bigger than saving your country? [Yeah, Bond would save the world but this isn’t Bond.] So the story idea works.

Next there are a bunch of characters. Johnny Depp steals every scene as a rogue CIA agent. Mickey Rourke has an interesting role as American criminal who has escaped to Mexico and has joined Willem Dafoe’s cartel. Both Rourke and Dafoe are under-used. Dafoe plans to take over Mexico by bankrolling a coup using an evil General. The General killed Bandaras’… hey!

Wake Up!

Yeah, now I see the problem. Although there’s a huge storyline and a lot of interesting characters, the story kind of bottoms out. Still, it was fun and ya gotta love the action… and did I mention that Johnny Depp absolutely rules in this movie?

“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” rates a “C.”

On a side note – there was a preview for a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Jack Nicholson’s line, “We’re not all doctors, baby” left me laughing out loud. You have to see it, since telling it wouldn’t be as funny, but when you do see it, make sure you’re not drinking anything!

John Ritter, Johnny Cash and The Falling Man

Remembering three who died:

John Ritter died suddenly last night from a heart attack. He was only 54 years old. Although best known for his role as Jack Tripper on “Three’s Company” and the star of “8 Rules for Dating My Daughter,” I believe his best work was not in either of these sitcoms. It wasn’t even a comedy. I thought his best performance was as Vaughn in Sling Blade. Perhaps I’m in the minority with this opinion, but I know that we all agree that he was loved by his fans and will be missed.

Johnny Cash was known as the Man in Black. I remember as a child singing many of his songs… “A Boy Named Sue”“Burning Ring of Fire”… “Folsom Prison Blues”… A new generation had discovered the Man in Black and he recently won an award on MTVMTV! I’m so happy that he lived to see it and that we’ll always have his music.

The Falling Man. I just read a piece from Esquire magazine about the search to discover who was photographed jumping from one of the twin towers on 9-11-01. Tom Junod wrote such a compelling piece. Here are the first few opening lines:

In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying. He appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity’s divine suction or by what awaits him.

I read the article and it stayed with me throughout day. The combination of my memories of that horrific day, combined with the beauty and horror of the photo and the eloquent text by Junod just kept coming back to mind time and time again as the day moved on.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of John RitterJohnny Cashthe Falling Man and all of the victims of 9-11.

Bale is Bruce

Christian Bale has been cast as Bruce Wayne in Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming Batman movie, to be directed by Christopher Nolan [“Momento”].

Principal photography is expected to begin in early 2004. The movie is written by David Goyer and Nolan, and will follow the early career of The Dark Knight.

Christopher Nolan is quoted as saying, “What I see in Christian is the ultimate embodiment of Bruce Wayne. He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for.”

I totally agree.

“Rundown” the Most…

Over the next two months at least one movie premieres each week that I really want to see. The one I’m most looking forward to is The Rundown.

Yeah, I’m as surprised about that as you.
With all of potentially cool movies during this time period, [Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Underworld, Cold Creek Manor, The Human Stain, Out of Time, Kill Bill Volume 1, Mystic River… well you get the idea], I want to see the movie starring The Rock!Actually, The Rock is a talented performer and this movie looks to fit him perfectly. The trailer rocks. [Yeah, I know, bad pun.] There’s action, comedy, and a great supporting cast. This could be a real surprise hit. And speaking of surprises, one of the worst kept secrets is the surprise cameo by… well, if you don’t know I don’t want to ruin it for you. It might make you mad enough to throw an egg at me! ; )

Gibson, Wyle & More

  • Mel Gibson spent nearly $30 million of his own money to produce, co-write and direct “The Passion.” Some say it is a classic, while others hate it. Before I form my opinion, I think I should at least see it.
  • Noah Wyle will be taking a break this season from NBC’s top-rated drama ER. Wyle is not leaving for good but will take a break this season to spend more time with his wife, and their nine-month-old son. I’ll miss him but family has to come first!
  • Eighty-four prisoners escaped from a maximum security prison in northeastern Brazil early on Saturday through a 50-yard tunnel they dug to the jungle outside, police said. Colonel Klink is said to be shocked!
  • A burglar who took a nap after breaking into an elderly woman’s house in Amsterdam was arrested after she found him asleep on her couch. He’s hoping that he’s assigned to the prison in the item above!
  • A Japanese expedition equipped with infrared cameras will scour the Nepali Himalayas for six weeks starting Sunday in search of the legendary Yeti, or abominable snowman. I don’t know who will be happier if they find proof… them or Jazz!

Odd But True

  • Let’s start off with a strange trailer today… “Bubba Ho-Tep” is a horror-comedy starring Bruce Campbell as an old Elvis impersonator who has to fight off evil… well, take a look. If you like it, you’ll say, “Thank you… thank you very much.”
  • Michael Crichton’s best seller, Timeline, is coming to the big screen! The trailer rocks! See it and then check out the book before the movie premieres!
  • I’ve been talking about how cool “Underworld” looks — any movie with vampires and werewolves has gotta be at least somewhat cool — anyway, there’s a new trailer online now. This one just keeps looking better and better!
  • BIRMINGHAM, Mich. – Ozzy Osbourne’s tour manager, in town for the Ozzfest heavy metal music festival, was found dead in his hotel room, the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office said today. You just know this is going to mess Ozzy up.
  • ROCKY M0UNT, Va. (Reuters) – Prosecutors accused three teen-age boys of promoting fist fights between boys who were in their care at a summer camp and charging other campers admission to watch the boxing matches. Only in America!
  • LONDON (Reuters) – An elderly British man who lived in a run-down house, bought second-hand clothes and watched television at his neighbor’s to save on electricity left a million pounds to a dog charity and nothing to his daughters, newspapers reported on Friday. Well, dogs are man’s best friends!
  • BERLIN (Reuters) – A giant catfish that ate a dog and terrorized a German lake for years has washed up dead, but the legend of “Kuno the Killer” lives on. Well, dogs are not catfish’s best friends!
  • SAN FRANCISCORick Beal wanted to grab some cash on the way to the airport — so he hired a limo and allegedly robbed a bank on the way. “Just leave the motor running… I’ll be right back!”

Rumors, Dumb Criminals & More

  • From Dark Horizons: Looks like Tuesday’s rumor about “Big Trouble in Little China 2” was just a rumor. That’s too bad since it was such a good rumor!
  • There’s been a lot of discussion about Mel Gibson’s next film, “The Passion.” Mel hosted a special preview and the crowd reaction was very strong and very positive. I, for one, can’t wait to see it!
  • The Z Review posted an interesting tidbit: “There’s no truth to the rumor that Sly Stallone is attached to star in “Beverly Hills Cop 4”. The idea did come up, and I believe it was mentioned to Sly as part of a new 3-pic deal Para has talked to him about but word is he … passed.” Interesting to note that Paramount may have floated a 3 picture deal at Sly! [A tip of the hat to Dark Horizons]
  • From Yahoo’s “Notable Quotes for today: “I went to check with my 6-year-old about whether I should take the job… . They (his children) don’t like to sit through my other films. But this they think is great.” — SYLVESTER STALLONE telling The Philadelphia Inquirer about playing the villain in “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.”
  • OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) – What was that again? Julia Roberts accused Richard Simmons of stealing her car and wanted Ronald Reagan to arrest him. Believe it or not this is a true story! [Although those named above are NOT the celebrities but every day people caught up in life.]
  • FORT WORTH, Texas – A bank robber made the ultimate bad career move when he wrote a holdup noteon the back of his resume. OK… so now he has something else to add to his resume.

Carpenter/Russell, Hanks/Spielberg & More

  • Dark Horizons posted an item from Wing King that talks are underway for a “Big Trouble in Little China” sequel with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell returning and Jackie Chan may be in the mix as well! Russell and Carpenter with Jackie Chan — yeah, I’m in!
  • Dark Horizons posted an item from showing some new pics from the Hellboy set. This one keeps looking better and better!
  • Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are gearing up for new 10-part WWII miniseries, which at this point is called “Untitled World War II Pacific Theater Project.” Perhaps a better name would be “Untitled Award Winning Money Making Project.”
  • LOS ANGELESLeah Remini plays a wife on the CBS sitcom “The King of Queens” was recently married in real life. I don’t watch her show but I gotta tell ya, there is something very appealing about her…
  • LONDON (Reuters) – Criminals could avoid being taken to court if they agree to apologize personally to their victims, under plans outlined by the UK government Tuesday. “I’m really sorry I stole your money, burned down your house and kicked your puppy.” Yeah, that ought to do it.
  • SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A California man accused of stealing heads and other human body parts from a local hospital and stashing them at his house, posted $10,000 bail over the weekend, police said on Monday. Maybe he could just say he was “sorry.”
  • SALT LAKE CITY – The security chief for the 2002 Winter Olympics was pickpocketed while he attended the Moscow-Utah Youth Games. So how secure do you feel now?

BB2, 28 Days & The Goon

  • I didn’t care much for “Bad Boys” but I really, really enjoyed “Bad Boys II.” Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have that rare screen chemistry that makes you enjoy just watching them interact. Add a script that is pedal-to-the-floor action with a good mix of humor, then throw in director Michael Bay and you have two and a half hours of fun. I”m not the only one who feels this way… BB2 opened at #1 this weekend! This movie gets a big thumbs up and a spot in my dvd library!
  • Remember when I told you about that great little zombie flick, “28 days later”? I’ve seen it twice [which is rare for me these days] and can’t wait for it to arrive on dvd. If you haven’t seen it yet, but decide to, be sure you wait through the credits! Starting July 25th an alternate ending will run!
  • Another thing that I’ve been talking up forever is The Goon comic by Eric Powell. Well, the July 25th issue of Entertainment Weekly lists The Goon at #4 in its “Must List” column. The Goon also gets an “A” rating in the same issue’s review section. ZONErs are always ahead of the curve!

Movies, TV, Novels & More

  • “Identity” features John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet in a sweet little mystery directed by James Mangold of “Cop Land” fame. It reminded me of something that could have been an episode from the classic years of “Twilight Zone.” It’s got a twist ending… followed by another. It’s definitely worth a rental.
  • “The Hunted” stars Benicio del Torro as a special forces soldier who has gone off the deep end and Tommy Lee Jones as the man who trained and therefore feels compelled to bring him in before more people are killed. This movie features some of the most brutal and realistic knife fights ever put on film [way to go Rafael!] If you like action/adventure then this one may be worth a look.
  • “A Man Apart” could have been so much better. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. Vin Diesel plays a cop whose wife is murdered after he brings down a drug lord. Vin then goes after his wife’s killers. I’m glad I saw it and you may be too if there’s nothing better on…
  • Michael Crow has with just two books, become one of my favorite authors. I told you about him after I’d finished his first book, Red Rain. It was one of the best crime novels I’d read in years. Well, I’ve finished his second, The Bite, and it is just as good. Check him out, you’ll thank me later!
  • Miramax Films and Quentin Tarantino,the writer-director of ’90s landmarks “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” have announced unusual plans to splice his long-awaited new action film, “Kill Bill,” into two movies and release them within months of each other. It’ll be interesting to see if fans will turn out since “Kill Bill” doesn’t have the built in fan base of “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Matrix.”
  • NEW YORK – One of Sharon Osbourne’s dogs was eaten by a coyote — and husband Ozzy Osbourne managed to save another dog from a similar fate. As a dog owner, I can imagine the pain that they’re going through.
  • The Emmy nominations have been announced and here’s who I’m pulling for… Best Drama Series: “24” / Best Actor in a Drama: Michael Chiklis for “The Shield” / Best Actress in a Drama: Jennifer Garner for “Alias” / Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: John Spencer for “The West Wing” / Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Lena Olin for “Alias” / Best Comedy Series: “Everybody Loves Raymond” / Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Ray Romano for “Everybody Loves Raymond” / Actress in a Comedy Series: Patricia Heaton for “Everybody Loves Raymond” / Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Peter Boyle for “Everybody Loves Raymond” / Supporting Actress / Comedy: Doris Roberts for “Everybody Loves Raymond”
  • Since we’re talking about the best in television… one of the best shows on tv will soon become a comic. “The Shield” is going to be published by IDW — the same people who publish the comic adaptation for “CSI” and Steve Niles’ novels [like Guns, Drugs and Monsters and Savage Membrane]. This could turn into something very cool.
  • SANTA FE, N.M (Reuters) – A New Mexico family is suing their local Catholic church over a funeral Mass in which they claim a priest said their relative was only a middling Catholic and going straight to hell. And that was the nicest thing he could find to say??
  • ALBANY, N.Y. (Reuters) – A convicted murderer wants the state of New York to pay $500,000 for his sex change and a key ruling in his case has moved him closer to his dream of serving the rest of his sentence in a women’s jail. Yeah, he’s a convicted murderer, let’s help him achieve dream. Yeah, that would be REAL justice.