Author: Craig Zablo

Why So Serious?

I’m a huge Batman fan. And while I don’t like every comic or movie version ever made of The Dark Knight, when creators get him right there’s hardly any character better. I haven’t seen a Batman movie yet that really nails it, but this one may come closest.

No Country for Old Men

“No Country for Old Men” brought to the screen by co-writers and co-directors Joel and Ethan Cohen is being talked up for all kinds of awards. After seeing it today, I’d say it’s going to win a bunch. Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy and boasting a flawless cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson and Kelly MacDonald, this could be THE film to beat come award season.

The Good: not going Hollywood and changing the story; Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson and Kelly MacDonald are perfectly cast; the scene where Chigurh
brings the cuffs to the front, strangles the deputy and then calmly cleans his wrists; when Moss stumbles on the drug-deal-gone-bad aftermath; when Chigurh makes the old man “call it”; Moss barely escaping into the river and then coming out to calmly prepare for the “next attack” which is barreling at him; Moss’ dialogue with his wife and later Carson Wells; Sherriff Bell’s dialogue with everyone; the pacing; when Chigurh appears behind Carson Wells on the steps; Woody Harrelson’s scene with Bardem; the direction.

The Bad: Anton Chigurh. Nothing else comes close to being “The Bad.”

The Ugly: Doctoring your own gunshot wound; and when you hear “there’s a bone sticking out of your arm.”

If you haven’t yet, you should read the book and then see the movie. That way, come Oscars you’ll be ahead of the curve.

The "I am Legend" Legacy

I saw “I am Legend” at the first showing today in a packed theater. After seeing the CGI “vampires” [although they are never called that in the movie] in this trailer, I must admit I went in with a bit of trepidation. But, because the Richard Matheson novel is so strong, and because the previous two movies [The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man] based on the same novel worked on their own levels, I felt that Will Smith and crew could pull off a worthy addition to the “I am Legend” legacy. So did he? Let’s take a look:

The Good: The concept; Will Smith as Robert Neville, Sam; how the virus is created; taking the time needed to show Neville’s isolation; Neville going in to save Sam; stumbling on the standing/sleeping “vampires”; snaring a vampire / being snared; Sam saving Neville; how the final scene tied into the title.

The Bad: Most complaints that I’ve read about the movie are gripes about the shift once the woman and her son arrive. While it’s true that the feel of the movie changes, I think that it works because we now see just how much Neville has lost touch with reality. Pretty bold move if you ask me. Some of the CGI effects.

The Ugly: The vampires.

All-in-all I really enjoyed the movie much more than I thought I would going in. It not only will find a place in my dvd library, but adds nicely to the “I am Legend” legacy.

We’re All Fans

Duane Swierczynski is one of my favorite novelists. Recently Duane got the opportunity to write some comics… specifically the Punisher. In this interview he talks about his first experience with the Punisher:

“It was Steve Grant’s Circle of Blood epic from 1985, which opens with Frank in the slammer, squaring off against Jigsaw and his goons, and ends with a punch in the gut right out of a Mickey Spillane novel. I don’t want to ruin it for you if you’ve never read it, but man. That Jeep. Perched on the side of the bridge. In the rain. It doesn’t get any more noir than that.”
Most ZONErs probably know that my buddies, Mike Zeck and John Beatty were the artists on Circle of Blood. So one of my favorite novelists is a not only a fan of comic books but also of two of my buddies. Stuff like that is cool.

Wanna Hear a Joke?

Here’s three…

1] A guy shows up late for work. The boss yells “You should have been here at 8:30!” he replies: “Why? What happened at 8:30?”

2] Two cannibals are eating a clown. One cannibal turns to the other and asks, “This taste funny to you?”

And finally…

3] A man placed some flowers on the grave of his dearly departed mother and started back toward his car when his attention was diverted to another man kneeling at a grave.

The man seemed to be praying with profound intensity and kept repeating, “Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?”

The first man approached him and said, “Sir, I don’t wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I’ve ever seen before. For whom do you mourn so deeply? A child? A parent?”

The mourner took a moment to collect himself, then replied, “My wife’s first husband.”


OK… let’s hear yours.

Man Law for Clean House?

This post will probably surprise many ZONErs who swing by here to read the latest manly post about movies [action, crime, horror], novels [tough guy authors like Huston, Vachss, Morrell], comic books [Sin City, Walking Dead, 100 Bullets] or sports [da Bears, UFC]. You see, I’ve been hooked on a tv show that I just discovered. It’s called Clean House.Yeah,
Clean House. It’s not about a bar-room brawler, or a mafia hitman. No… it’s about a team of “experts” that go into a house that’s cluttered beyond belief and whip it back into shape. They weed out stuff to sell, give away and even a few things to keep. They hold a yard sale and then take the money raised [plus a thousand bucks kicked in by the show] and redo several rooms in the house [while the home owners are sent away for the night]. The show concludes with the big reveal: we and the homeowners get to see what the Clean House experts have done. Usually the new digs are really cool.I’ve been DVRing the episodes and watching a couple a night. I can get through them pretty quickly and they are giving me some ideas about things to do around the Zablo estate. So, can we get a Man Law passed that Clean House is okay to watch?

Comic Artists and Professional Wrestlers

Next Sunday, December 9th, my buddy John Beatty will be one of the guests at the Epic Comic Con in Orlando, Florida. He’ll be there along with a bunch of comic book artists, professional wrestlers as well as a couple of actors and authors. Talk about an interesting mix!

John will be sketching and signing autographs. I’ll be there hanging out as well. If you’re in the area, plan to drop on by!

Just Mist

Going in, “The Mist” had almost all indications that it was going to be awesome. Frank Darabont [The Shawshank Redemption The Green Mile] had written the screenplay and directed Stephen King’s novella of the same name. It was Darabont’s dream project and one of King’s most popular stories. The movie was well cast and early word was positive.

The Good: the story – a mysterious mist containing creatures rolls in to a small town forcing a variety of characters to take refuge in a supermarket; the interplay of the people as they slowly learn what is going on; the ending [which is different than King’s novella — and no, I’m not giving away either]; the meek store clerk, Marcia Gay Harden in her role as Mrs. Carmody.

The Bad: some of the CGI creatures; what happens to some of the characters; the ending [yeah, I know, I listed it under the good as well… more on that in a second]; Ms. Carmody.

The Ugly: what happens to some of the characters and the ending [more in a sec].

As you probably guessed the ending really has an impact. Although different than the novella’s [and praised by Stephen King], it just wasn’t the ending that I wanted. There’s no doubt that it works on one level, and could be justified as logical — but, and here’s the big but, it could just as easily be argued that it wasn’t logical and it doesn’t work. I give credit to Darabont for having the courage to go with his vision and perhaps it will grow on me as time passes.

Although I’m glad that I saw “The Mist” it just missed getting a solid recommendation from me. It definitely has kept me thinking about it. And maybe that’s the best recommendation a movie can get.

RIP Evel Knievel

Robert Craig Knievel aka Evel Knievel died today. He was 69 years old. Many of you younger ZONE readers may not remember Evel, but my guess is you know something about this outrageous daredevil whose biggest claims to fame came from unsuccessful jumps.

In 1965, Knievel led a group that he named Evel Knievel’s Motorcycle Daredevils. They would travel from town to town performing typical motorcycle stunts of the era: riding wheelies, driving through fire walls and jumping things. Knievel had a knack for self-promotion and a talent for jumping his motorcycle over things. In 1966 he began touring alone and his jumps continued to become bigger.

On New Year’s Day in 1968 he failed in his attempt to jump the fountains at Caesar’s Palace. Although the jump nearly killed him, it also launched him in to popular culture history. In the years to follow there would be more jumps, astronomical paychecks, tv and movie appearances, Evel Knievel toys and collector cards and an ever growing legend. Most kids my age went through a period when they considered Evel Knievel to be “the man.” He was outrageous, traveled where he wanted, had tons of money and beautiful women and risked his life doing what he wanted.

In 1974, Knievel was paid $6 million dollars by ABC for the rights to televise his attempt to jump the Snake River canyon in a rocket-motorcycle. I remember watching the show live and my total disappointment when the chute malfunctioned almost immediately. Although Knievel continued to make big jumps and big money, I had lost interest. Knievel retired from big jumps in 1976, but continued touring into the 1980’s. He had been in failing health in recent years.

In 2006, Evel was quoted as saying, “No king or prince has lived a better life.” Evel lived his life doing things his way and for a several years he was as popular as any rock star. It’s hard to imagine that a guy who jumped his motorcycle over things could have had such an impact on popular culture, but Evel Knievel did.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and fans.