Author: Craig Zablo

Worth a Watch? You Be the Jury!

A few weeks ago, Chris Mills listed some movies that aren’t on dvd, but should be. I, the Jury starring Armand Assante as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer was one of them.  I couldn’t agree more. I saw the movie when it was first released and loved it. I wish I was writing to say that Assante’s Hammer has finally made it to dvd, but I’m not.

Instead I’m writing to say that you can see it on the FOX Movie Channel this month. I, the Jury isn’t a classic or for everyone. But if you’re a fan of Spillane, Assante, or Barbara Carrera then… you might want to give it a go.

I know I will. “I, the Jury” rates an A.

A Decade Later, Your Words Still Sting

Mike Hoffman is an artist who has strong opinions. Unfortunately most of what he posts are attacks on other artists that he considers hacks, no-talents, etc. Hoffman has been ranting about many of the biggest name artists in the comic business for several months now. Not only does he denegrate their talents, but at the same time he puffs up his own.

And it’s not that Hoffman lacks talent. He’s very good at what he does. And what he does is paint and draw in the style of Frazetta. That in and of itself is not a bad thing. Like anything, it is what it is.

Hoffman’s style has stirred up a lot of debate among fans and pros alike. Some love it, some hate it. At any rate, everyone has an opinion. And you know how opinionated Big Beatty is. Well, it seems that at some point in the last ten or fifteen years, Beatty said something that got under Hoffman’s skin. Well… it finally worked its way out in a a recent rant posted on his website:

And then there’s “Big” John Beatty, who went into a blind fury over my artwork way back in the 1990s. I’d post a pic of this moron here, but a Google search turns up almost nothing on this clown. Great career as an “inker” ya got going there, John!

John got wind of Hoffman’s comments and responded:

I’ve had a great career as an “inker” and enjoyed it for many years…now I’ve moved on to doing other work, which is of no interest to you, or many others so, I’ll leave it at that.

You’re a scary talent that comics and illustration will lose, but I’m sure your life, as mine, will continue on and hopefully for the better, as I can see staying in the business you are in is making your life practically unbearable…according to what I read in your weblog.

Your a great humorist and I enjoy your rants very much…really…I figure you are working towards a new career goal in commentary, instead of art for your future?

Anyway…big “ups” for the mention and for the memory that I must have left on you since you’ve been stewing about it since 1990. Finally got the balls to come out and say something in 2005?

I know that someone must scan all of your email due to the fact that you must have thin skin or something, so if this never does reach you, that’s fine too.

Have a great life outside of the USA and I hope this means that there really will be a “Hoffman International” once you and the family are outside of the country?

That is if you ever really leave instead of just talking a lot about it?

Best wishes-

I wonder what Beatty said that’s been bugging Hoffman for all these years…

I wonder if this is the last we’ve heard from the two of them…

But most of all I wonder if this means that I’ll never get a Hoffman Stallone sketch for my gallery.

Maybe 2005 Just Got A Little Better


2005 has NOT been the greatest year for movies.

Sure there was Sin City, and War of the Worlds. And yeah, King Kong is   coming. Heck, even The Transporter 2 and The New World might be       good… but the year overall has been pretty blah.  So in a year like this, when a movie comes in under the radar and looks to be a winner, ya just gotta love it.

A History of Violence could be THAT movie.

Maybe 2005 just got a little better.

This Fall, Kong Will Be King


Without a doubt,this fall Kong will be King

Pretty much every movie fan in the world knows that Peter Jackson’s King Kong will be released on December 14th. What many of us didn’t know until just recently was that Warner Brothers had finally decided to release the orginal King Kong to dvd on November 22nd.

What makes this release even cooler is that Peter Jackson is also contributing to the dvd release. Jackson has created a two hour, seven part documentary titled: “RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World.” What will really get Kong fans going is that “part of the documentary focuses on the mysterious ‘spider pit’ sequence deleted from the film before its theatrical premiere.” The dvd will also contain a recreation of it as well as features on director Merian C. Cooper, and commentary tracks by legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen and others.

Of course to maximize their profits, Warners is releasing Kong in not one, not two, but THREE, that’s right – THREE editions.

I don’t know which version, I’m going to get, but you can be sure that one will find it’s way into my collection!

A Story About a Valuable Stolen Property

If you’re like me or any of the other 36 million people who’ve read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, then you probably love a good conspiracy story.

If that’s the case, then whoo-boy, do I have a doosey for ya.  Lewis Perdue has not only accused Dan Brown of plagiarizing from Perdue‘s books The DaVinci Legacy [published in 1983 ] and Daughter of God [published in 2000], but he has taken his case to court and the Internet.

A recent court ruling by Judge George Daniels of U.S. District Court in New York says that “Any slightly similar elements are on the level of generalized or otherwise unprotectable ideas.”

Still, Perdue plans to appeal this decision and argues that there are over 300 significant similarities between his book and The DaVinci Code. Perdue further argues that “in an analysis of more than 50 pivotal plot events, sixty-five percent of these – 65%occur in the same order.

In his latest blog post, Perdue says despite Judge Daniels’ ruling, Perdue’s battle to show that Brown plagiarized his work isn’t over, in fact, “It’s hardly begun.”

You can find more of Perdue’s thoughts HERE.

I’ve read and enjoyed Brown’s The DaVinci Code.

I haven’t yet read Perdue’s The DaVinci Legacy or Daughter of God, but I should since they sound like good conspiracy stories.

Then again, maybe I should just follow Perdue’s Battle Against Brown.

Who Needs Five Different Sin City Covers?

I’ve been on quite the dvd kick of late, recommending Lost: Season One and Superman: Season One.

Now comes along one of my favorite movies of the year and my all-time favorite comic book movie and I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to by the initial release.

Sin City [aka The Barebones Edition] hits the street on August 16th. It’s already been announced that next year a deluxe edition [with tons of extras] will be available. So, I’m thinking that I ought to just wait for it. It’ll only be a few more months — and it’ll have everything that the August 16th release has and more.

Studios release various editions of dvds to maximize their profits and I can understand that. They’re in business to make money. What irks me is when they do gimmicks like 5 different covers for the same edition. I guess some people will buy all five.

Me, I’m still trying to decide if I should buy just one.

You Won’t Believe a Man Can Fly

Yesterday, I said that I usually don’t buy tv series dvds for my collection. Then I talked up one. Any guess what I’m about to do today?

Yep, today I’m recommending the first season dvd of Superman.

If you’re anywhere near my age [46], then George Reeves WAS Superman. And sure, the effects were low budget [ok, no budget], but man, did we love the show.

I can’t wait to get the chance to love it again!

What Would I Have to Lose?

I usually don’t purchase tv series for my dvd collection.

I may make an exception though when Lost comes to dvd on September 6th.

Lost was on my “Must See TV” list from its premiere and it continued to gain momentum with each new episode. What was not to like? Great characters. A great mystery. And just enough info to REALLY wonder what the heck is going on.

The dvd extras and price [$38.99] also add to the appeal for making Lost a dvd addition to my collection.

Snake Plissken Lives!

It was a running joke in Escape from New

York that almost everyone Snake Plissken ran into thought he was dead. Escape from New York was released in 1981 and although it was a fan favorite, it wasn’t a block buster.

Everyone pretty much thought that was it for Snake… that he was dead.

Then 15 years later, Escape from LA was released. It also developed a cult following, but wasn’t a block buster.

Everyone pretty much thought that was it for Snake… that he was dead.

In 2002 CrossGen published the first two issues of John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken Chronicles. CrossGen then folded… but Snake wasn’t dead. Hurricane Entertainment published the last two issues.

Everyone pretty much thought that was it for Snake… that he was dead.

Alias Comics and Hurricane Entertainment are teaming to bring back John Carpenter’s Snake Plissken Chronicles this November when a collection of the original four-issue miniseries
will be published.

Movie and comic fans will love this news since the original mini-series sold “strong from start to finish.” For most comic art fans, the cover alone will be worth the price of admission since
it’ll be by Drew Struzan [and as an added treat don’t forget that Tone Rodriguez provided the pencils for the series].

Snake Plissken is my favorite John Carpenter character and translates easily to comics. Who knows, maybe if this collection sells well, we’ll see more of Snake’s adventures.

Anyone here think that Snake Plissken is dead?

Charlotte Over Atlanta

Last Saturday I started hyping Shelton Drum’s Heroes Con for 2006. I did this partly because Wizard announced their Atlanta Convention would be held the same weekend, but mainly because I love Heroes Con.

This isn’t news to anyone who’s been reading the ZONE for any length of time. What may be news though, is the fact that Wizard has announced that they will not have the Atlanta Show in 2006, and when they do schedule it, it won’t be the same weekend as Heroes.

And if you think that’s great news [and it is — I want to be able to support both shows, but if I have to choose, there is no choice for I will be at Heroes!] then wait till you see the guests who’ve already signed up for Heroes 2006!

Man, I can’t wait!

If you’re still not sold on the idea of attending, then check out these pictures and con report from 2005 [some provided by yours truly].

Hopefully, I’ll see you there!

300: Sin City Style

Most of you probably remember that I was pretty stoked when it was reported that Zack [Dawn of the Dead] Snyder looked to be taking the director’s spot for the movie adaptaion of Frank Miller’s epic 300.

Harry at Ain’t It Cool News reported today that Snyder plans to film it like Robert Rodriguez did with Sin City – a near shot for shot panel recreation of the comic. The film has been budgeted at $60 million with shooting to begin this fall.

And I, for one, am still stoked!

Bruce Lee Lives!

On November 27th of this year, Bruce Lee would have been 65 years old. Amazing isn’t it?

It’s hard to imagine Bruce as ever being older than 32, since that’s how old he was when he died on July 20, 1973. Think about that for a second. Bruce Lee died 32 years ago. Bruce has been dead now for a longer period of time than he lived. And yet, you can say his name to almost anyone of any age and they know who Bruce Lee was.

My guess is that he’s more popular now than he was while alive. I say that because each year a new generation discovers Bruce Lee and his movies [and he only made a handful of kung fu movies before he died].

I’m old enough that my first memory of Bruce was as Kato on The Green Hornet. Man, Kato was cool! Of course, that was because of Bruce‘s charisma.

After The Green Hornet, Bruce‘s next onscreen performance was with James Garner in Marlowe. Bruce had a small role as a martial artist thug.

I also fondly remember my anticipation to see Bruce in the tv movieLongstreet.Lee played the part of a martial artist who trains a blind insurance investigator the art of self defense. When the movie spun off into a short lived tv series, Lee was brought back for four of the 23 episodes.

It wasn’t long after that Bruce Lee‘s Fist of Fury aka The Big Boss hit the US. It was quickly followed by The Chinese Connection and Return of the Dragon [with Chuck Norris fighting Bruce to the death]. Bruce Lee fever was growing, but it wasn’t until the release of Enter the Dragon that Bruce Lee mania really soared. Sadly, Bruce Lee died three weeks prior to it’s premiere in the USA.

As you probably know, Enter the Dragon is the classic Bruce Lee movie… it’s still the best kung fu movie ever made… and arguments can be made the best action movie as well.

After Bruce‘s death, producers sought every way possible to continue to make money from Bruce Lee. Green Hornet episodes were combined and released as features with Kato getting top billing! The Game of Death, the movie that Bruce was working on when he died was completed with a look-alike and bad effects and it was released. Several movies were released “based” on the life of Bruce Lee [but made to look like new Bruce Lee movies], equally as bad were the movies starring guys like Bruce Li or Bruce Le trying to pass as the original. The one excellent documentary that should be in every Bruce Lee fan’s collection is
Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey.

Earlier this year Bruce Lee was named “Chinese Film’s Bright Star of the Century.” This November, in honor of Bruce‘s 65th birthday and bigger than life bronze statue of Bruce will be errected in Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars. You can read the details HERE.

Yeah it’s true that Bruce Lee died 32 years ago… but it’s equally true that Bruce Lee will live forever!

“Marlowe” rates a C+
“Fists of Fury” rates a C
“Chinese Connection” rates a C
“Return of the Dragon” rates a B
“Enter the Dragon” rates an A+
“Game of Death” rates a C
“Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey” rates an A+

Heroes Over Wizards

As regular ZONErs know, it’s become a Zablo family tradition to attend the annual Heroes Convention in Charlotte. I start talking up the show each year as the date for the convention gets closer and new guests are announced. Usually my hype begins about six months before the show.

This year I’m starting a bit early.

Like NOW.

WizardWorld [a big company that puts on conventions all over the US] has purposely scheduled their convention in Atlanta the
same weekend as Heroes.

Coincidence you say? Nope.

You see, Shelton has made it an annual tradition to announce his next convention date a year in advance [and his show has always been held in mid to late June].

This year, because there were rumors that Wizard was looking at Atlanta, Shelton wrote them to find out the date that they were looking at. Shelton even offered to support their show as long as their schedules didn’t fall on the same weekend.

You can imagine everyone’s surprise when Wizard announced that their Atlanta convention would fall on the same weekend as Heroes. You can read the details here and here.

Well, I’m happy to say that pros and fans have rallied around Shelton‘s show. Casey Jones, Tony Harris, Bryan Hitch, Greg Rucka, Joe Pruett, J. Michael Straczynski, Cliff Chiang, Mark Bagley and Ethan Van Sciver all quickly announced that they’d be at HEROES and NOT the Atlanta convention next year. Additionally, Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze and Karl Story who live in Atlanta have announced that they will be at Heroes as well!

Heroes 2006 may end up being the best Heroes ever. My hope is that the folks running the Wizard show will reconsider and reschedule. They’ve already started a bit of backtracking

At any rate, if Wizard changes their date or not, I’ll be at Heroes in ’06.

Hopefully you will too!

A Really Creepy Moment

Last night I watched “Hide and Seek,” a psychological thriller starring Robert DeNiro and Dakota Fannning. The movie was pretty good, but that’s not the point of this post…

In the movie DeNiro keeps waking up at 2:06 AM. The first time that this happens, he discovers his wife has committed suicide. As the movie progresses 2:06 AM becomes a significant plot point and the audience is left wondering [until the resolution] why DeNiro wakes up at 2:06 AM.

It was pretty creepy. Especially late in the movie, as Deniro searches for a killer in the house and suddenly Dakota holds up a child’s clock set to 2:06 AM. Now THAT was very creepy, but it’s still not the creepy moment I’m leading up to.

Overall the movie was a fun way to spend a couple of hours and I really enjoyed how the dvd set up the alternate endings [there were several]. Ah, but I digresss… so on to the REAL creepy moment

Later that night I woke up feeling the need to go to the restroom. Now most nights, I sleep through until the morning. Occasionally I’m compelled to get up in the middle of the night for a trip to the john, so it’s not totally unusual that this would happen. Last night when I woke to go, I looked to see what time it was… and you guessed it… the digital clock read 2:06 AM.

Now THAT was creepy!

“Hide and Seek” rates a B