TRAIN 8 – The Zombie Express / Z-View

TRAIN 8 – The Zombie Express

Created and written by David Stephan and Marysol Levant
Additional writing and dialogue by Brian Phillipson
Art by Alex Cormack
Colors by Ashley Cormack and Alex Cormack
Letters and book design by Alex Murillo

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Train 8 is a high speed train traveling from Seattle to Chicago a few days before Thanksgiving.  The train is barreling along when a passenger infected with a virus dies and reanimates as a zombie.  Soon the train is out of control as passengers fight an ever-increasing number of the undead.  Surviving the zombies may not be enough, since the government has plans to destroy everyone and everything on the train!

Train 8 was originally written as a film script.  It probably would have made a cool movie.  As it turns out it’s not bad as a graphic novel.  Although the writing is a bit redundant/clunky in places, the story moves.  Some scenes are a little too dark, but that’s too be expected when the lights go out.  ; )    Props for the ending which is foreshadowed but is still a surprise and sets up a potential sequel.

Overall, I enjoyed Train 8.  If you’re a zombie fan, you should give it a look.

TRAIN 8 – The Zombie Express earns 3 of 5 stars.

Prey (2022) / Z-View

Prey (2022)

Director:  Dan Trachtenberg

Screenplay by:  Patrick Aison, Dan Trachtenberg based on characters created by Jim Thomas, John Thomas

Starring:  Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers and Dane DiLiegro

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

The year is 1719.  When a Comanche warrior is attacked by a mountain lion, Taabe (Beaver) leads a group of braves to attempt rescue. Naru (Midthunder), Taabe’s sister is allowed to join the men since she has been trained in healing herbs.  They find the wounded warrior along with tracks of a unknown beast.  The prints are  big as a bear’s but different.

When the others return to their village, Naru stays behind to track the beast.  She soon discovers that something new is in the forest.  It is a Predator!  Naru sees it kill a bear.  The Predator is a hunter and humans are now the prey!

Prey is an excellent and worthy addition to the Predator franchise.  The screenplay by Patrick Aison and Dan Trachtenberg avoids being preachy while at the same time is respectful of the Comanche culture with a female lead.

Dan Trachtenberg’s last film was 10 Cloverfield Lane, a sequel different from the original, yet fit perfectly into the franchise.  Trachtenberg has captured lighting in a bottle, by again creating a sequel different from the original, yet a perfect franchise fit.  I can see Prey serving as a springboard for future Predator movies set in different time periods.  Imagine a Predator/samurai film, or a Predator/gladiator movie, or… well, you get the idea.  I hope we don’t have to wait as long for Trachtenberg’s next feature.

Amber Midthunder excels in her role as Naru.  She is able to effectively portray the range of emotions required as well as the athletic exploits of an action star.  I look forward to seeing what Midthunder does next.

Prey is exciting and lives up to it’s potential.  There were quite a few folks writing the film off even before the first scene was shot.  I love that Prey turned out to be surprisingly good.  Some even think it better than the original with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  While I’m not in that camp, I did really like Prey and figure I may like it even more on subsequent viewings.  For now…

Prey earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Parlor, Bedroom and Bath” (1931) / Z-View

Parlor, Bedroom and Bath (1931)

Director:  Edward Sedgwick

Screenplay by:  C.W. Bell, Mark Swan and Robert E. Hopkins (additional dialogue)

Starring:  Buster Keaton, Charlotte Greenwood, Reginald Denny, Cliff Edwards, Dorothy Christy, Sally Eilers and Edward Brophy

Tagline:   You’ve seen great lovers of the screen- but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Buster Keaton doing his stuff- a dozen sweethearts- and every one landed him in more trouble.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Jeffrey (Denny) wants to marry Gini (Eilers), but Gini refuses until her older sister, Angelica (Christy) marries.  The problem is no man is exciting enough for Angelica.

When Jeffrey accidentally injures mild-mannered Reggie (Keaton), Jeffrey brings Reggie back to the mansion to recuperate.   Angelica thinks Reggie is handsome and that gives Jeffrey an idea.  He will pass Reggie off as a dashing ladies man.  This turns out to be harder than first thought.  Reggie is not only timid around ladies, he’s totally inexperienced with dating them.

So Jeffrey gets one of his lady friends to spread the word about Reggie’s prowess.  Jeffrey then reserves a hotel room where Reggie will be “caught” with a woman and a jealous Angelica will want to marry him.  That’s the plan.  Poor Reggie ends up on the run with multiple women, a jealous husband, a hotel detective and bellmen after him.  If you enjoy farce and/or Buster Keaton, you should get a kick out of Parlor, Bedroom and Bath!

Parlor, Bedroom and Bath earns 4 of 5 stars.

SLOWER BEAR by Anthony Neil Smith is Available Now!

Anthony Neil Smith has a new book out.  It’s a sequel to Slow Bear titled, Slower Bear.  Here’s the lowdown…

Micah “Slow Bear” Cross returns in another breathless slice of pitch-perfect pulp from noir legend Anthony Neil Smith.

After successfully faking his own death, we catch up with Micah “Slow Bear” Cross standing in a field in Nebraska with his boot on the neck of a Ukranian human trafficker.

So far, so Slow Bear.

After handing out some of his trademark summary justice, Micah finds himself the temporary custodian of two very young, and very scared victims of trafficking.

Along with his latest one-night stand Abeline, Slow Bear and the girls launch themselves into a desperate fight for survival as they do all they can to escape the clutches of the ruthless trafficking gang who are out for revenge and restitution.

What follows will absolutely delight fans of Anthony Neil Smith and pulp-noir lovers everywhere…

I’m a Anthony Neil Smith and am happy for the return of Micah “Slow Bear” Cross.  Slower Bear sounds like another winner.  My order is in.  If you’d like to get on board…

Slower Bear Paperback

Slower Bear Hardback

Slower Bear Kindle

Day Shift (2022) Starring Jamie Foxx / Z-View

Day Shift (2022)

Director:  J.J. Perry

Screenplay by:  Tyler Tice, Shay Hatten from a story by Tyler Tice

Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Meagan Good, Karla Souza, Steve Howey, Scott Adkins, Oliver Masucci, Snoop Dogg 
and Zion Broadnax

Tagline:  Some Jobs Really Go for the Throat

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Bud Jablonski (Foxx) is separated from his wife who plans to move to Florida with their little girl due to mounting bills.  Bud convinces his wife to give him until the end of the week to raise the needed several thousand dollars.  She agrees.

Although his wife thinks he’s a pool cleaner, Bud is actually a vampire killer.  The trouble is, Bud was kicked out of the vampire-killing union due to multiple rules violations.  In order to get a chance at raising the kind of money he needs, Bud gets Big John Elliott (Snoop Dogg), a legendary vampire killer, to vouch for him and is reinstated in the union.  In order to make sure that Bud follows the rules, he’s paired with a nervous union desk clerk (Franco) with no field experience.  Now all Bud has to do is kill enough vampires to raise the needed cash — little does Bud know that a vampire queen has him and his family in her sights.

If you’ve read this far, you might enjoy Day Shift.  It has it’s moments, but is so far from reality that there’s little tension.  We never really fear for the deaths of any of the stars, and when we’re surprised that one does die, the post credits scene reveals what we thought happened, didn’t.  The lack of tension would be okay if the comedy really hit home, but again, there are moments but not enough to make it a laugh fest.  My favorite scenes involved the Nazarian brothers (Howey and Adkins) who are vampire hunters extraordinaire.  Day Shift isn’t terrible, but I was expecting better.

Day Shift earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Master of the World” (1961) / Z-View

Master of the World (1961)

Director:  William Witney

Screenplay by: Richard Matheson based on two novels by Jules Verne: Master of the World and Robur, the Conqueror

Starring:  Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull, Mary Webster, David Frankham  and Vito Scotti

Tagline:  The fabulous adventures of the man who conquered the earth to save it!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

While investigating a volcanic crater, Prudent (Hall), his daughter Dorothy (Webster), her fiance Phillip (Frankham) and US agent John Strock (Bronson) are taken aboard a flying machine!  Robur (Price), the genius who invented the flying warship, plans to create world peace by destroying all ships of war in every country.  Refusing to release his captives, they watch helplessly as Prudent orders the destruction of war ships and all crew aboard.  Safe in the sky out of range of any weapons from below, Prudent strikes at will.  Despite the odds, the captives decide to try an escape attempt or bring about the destruction of the flying fortress even at the cost of their own lives.

Charles Bronson was still several years away from becoming an international star when Master of the World was made.  Vincent Price is great as the crazy genius who believes to stop wars he must destroy armies.  Vito Scotti provides comic relief for most of the film, but at the end gets to go for a tear or two.

Master of the World earns 3 of 5 stars.

Behind the Scenes on the Making of “Tulsa King” with Sly Stallone and Tyler Sheridan

I am so stoked for Tulsa King.  Everything that we see makes the show look great.

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.

Stream the new series on November 13, exclusively on Paramount+.

“The Mysterious Island” (1929) / Z-View

The Mysterious Island (1929)

Director: Lucien Hubbard, Benjamin Christensen (uncredited), Maurice Tourneur (uncredited)

Screenplay by:  Lucien Hubbard based on Jules Verne‘s novel, The Mysterious Island

Starring:  Lionel Barrymore, Jacqueline Gadsdon, Lloyd Hughes and Montagu Love

Tagline:  METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER’S Dramatic Spectale Based on Jules Vern’s Immortal Novel!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Count Andre Dakkar (Barrymore) is a brilliant scientist and beloved ruler of an island kingdom.  Dakkar along with his daughter Sonia (Gadsdon) and her fiance (who is also Dakkar’s right hand man) have invented two ships that can go undersea.  Just as they are about to test the first ship, the island is attacked by the evil Baron Falon’s  (Love) army.  Falon wants the island country and undersea ships for his own!

The attack damages the first ship which sinks to the bottom of the ocean.  The crew realizes they have no way to surface and will die at the bottom of the sea… if they are not killed by the strange creatures and gigantic monsters that live on the ocean floor.  Meanwhile, Sonia hopes to use the second ship to save the crew of the first vessel.  Little does she know the horrors that await…

The Mysterious Island has some cool special underwater effects, but truth be told, I was enjoying the less scifi aspects of the film more.  Still, you cannot go wrong with Lionel Barrymore in a Jules Verne adventure!

The Mysterious Island earns 3 of 5 stars.

“The Nice Guys” (2016) / Z-View

The Nice Guys (2016)

Director: Shane Black

Screenplay by:  Shane Black, Anthony Bagarozzi

Starring:  Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Keith David, Gil Gerard, Murielle Telio and Kim Basinger

Tagline:  They’re not that nice

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Holland March (Gosling) is a sketchy private eye trying to earn enough dough to support himself and his daughter.  So when he’s offered money by Misty Mountain’s aunt to find Misty, March takes the case (and the cash) even though everyone knows the porn star is dead.  March thinks he’ll spend a couple of days “earning” the advance and then he’ll let the old lady down easy.  That all changes when Jackson Healy (Crowe) puts a beating on March and tells him to drop the investigation.  Rather than take another whoppin’, Healy agrees.

When Healy gets home, two thugs are waiting for him.  They rough him up in an effort to get information about the Misty Mountain case.  Fortunately he has nothing to give them.  After the roughnecks split, Healy goes back to March and convinces him that they should team up to solve the case.  Soon they’ll find that they’re way over their head with hired assassins and government officials wanting them dead.

The Nice Guys has it’s moments.  Crowe and Gosling’s characters are mismatched enough that there’s humor and chemistry in them working as a team.  Angourie Rice is excellent as Gosling’s young, but smart-beyond-her-years daughter.  Basinger has a small but important role.  The plot was a little more convoluted than needed, but that’s a small nit to pick.  I’m surprised The Nice Guys didn’t warrant a sequel.

The Nice Guys earns 3 of 5 stars.

RIP: Wolfgang Petersen

Wolfgang Petersen, the German filmmaker who gained international fame with Das Boot (which he wrote and directed), died August 12, 2022 from pancreatic cancer.  Mr. Petersen was 81.

Das Boot aka The Boat told the story of a WWII, German U-boat crew.  The film was nominated for six Academy Awards (including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay).  After that Hollywood called and Wolfgang Petersen would go on to direct crow-pleasing movies for the rest of his career.  Some of his feature films include: The Never-Ending Story; Shattered; In the Line of Fire; Outbreak; The Perfect Storm and Troy.

My favorite Wolfgang Petersen films are In the Line of Fire and Shattered (which he wrote, directed and produced!).

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wolfgang Petersen’s family, friends and fans.