Tag Archives: Science Fiction

SERIES OVERVIEW: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (2017)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

This review might seem a bit out of nowhere for a horror site, but Mystery Science Theater 3000 is something near and dear to the hearts of many hardcore horror fans simply because we've all had to suffer through bad movies with our friends.
We've all been there, particularly if you lived through the video rental era. You'd wander the aisles for upwards of an hour, reading the backs of boxes, looking for the perfect movie to watch. You would grab a pizza and a few refreshing cold beverages, get home, pop in the movie and immediately be disappointed with your carefully selected choice of films. It happens, but you'd suffer through it anyway, because money was spent and you weren't about to let that crappy movie win.
I'm a bit shocked that some of the people I watched movies with back then are still my friends considering how many bad movies I made them watch. At this point I would like to formally apologize to my friend John for making him suffer through all those dreadful movies. Notice I said that I would LIKE to apologize; I'm not actually going to because those memories are some of the best of my formative years.
Which brings me to my point. Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn't just a movie watching experience; it's more like a bonding experience. You feel a kinship, not just with the host and his companions, but with everyone who has ever suffered through a bad movie.
I'll admit that when I first heard that Joel Hodgson was trying to reboot Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was skeptical. As much as I loved the show, I really didn't think it was still relevant in today's society of 140-character Twitter humor, Fail Army videos, and tasteless memes. That, and the fact that it's closing on 20 years since the show appeared on television.
Surprisingly, the new incarnation is every bit as good as the older version. Mind you, it's not the same show. It's the next step in the progression of the show. An evolution. Everything about it is new. It's much more polished with better visuals in some areas, and the old school, homemade feel in others.
Kinga Forrester and Max aka TV's Son of TV's Frank / Fair use doctrine.The story plays out the same way as the old one. Evil mad scientists Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day), and her assistant, TV's Son of TV's Frank, aka Max (Patton Oswalt), trap some poor, likable dope — Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) — on the far side of the moon and force him to watch bad movies with his robot pals.
Even though Day and Oswalt do a great job as the new "Mads", I don't think their characters are fully developed at this point. They seem almost TOO competent compared to Clayton and Pearl Forrester. And while both are colorful and entertaining, they seem a bit generic. As a big fan of both, I'm hoping that both can embrace their respective roles and make them unique and interesting characters in future seasons.
Jonah and the bots / Fair use doctrine.Jonah Ray does a superb job filling the shoes of the hosts before him. No small feat. (Get it? Shoes, Feet. HaHaHaHa!) considering that Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson had two distinctly different styles. He's not just filling the shoes in though, he's doing a great job of making the role his own. And although the voices of Crow and Tom Servo have changed slightly, Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn pick up almost seamlessly from Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy regarding the character and delivery of their respective robots.
The riffing in the theater segments is fast and concise right out of the gate, with lots of references to current events as well as throwbacks to some of the classic episodes. Just like the old show, the diverse range of topics give the new shows a great amount of re-watchability.
The host segments are lively and fun, although it's easy to tell that Ray, Yount, and Vaughn haven't quite mastered their on-screen chemistry. That sort of thing will come together over time, though.
Also, the addition of some big-name celebrities and a few familiar old faces dropping by on occasion gives the viewers an added treat. I'd tell you a few right now, but it's more fun to be surprised by it.
Overall, it's a faithful continuation of the series if you're an old fan of the show, and it's a great introduction if you're a newbie.

CROWDFUNDING PICK: Space Babes From Outer Space

I don't know about the rest of you, but I miss the old sex comedies of the 80s and 90s. You could argue that their time has come and gone, and a few months ago I probably would have agreed with you. However, the good folks over at Bandit Motion Pictures are trying their best to prove us all wrong with Space Babes From Outer Space.
It's time for Space Babes From Outer Space!
It's time for Space Babes From Outer Space
If you aren't familiar with Bandit Motion Pictures, it is a collaborative effort between Scott Schirmer, Brian K Williams, and Ellie Church. The group’s first films, Harvest Lake and Plank Face were disturbing and transgressive films. So if I had to guess what their next project would be, well I probably wouldn't have guessed a sex comedy. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. If I had any desire to complain, it would have vanished with the trailers.
Space Babes From Outer Space will be directed by Williams (Time to Kill), while Schirmer and Church are on board as producers. Ellie Church (Frankenstein Created Bikers) pulls double duty as the leader of the titular Space Babes, along with Alyss Winkler (Plank Face) and Allison Maier. Seriously, if you need a reason to see this beyond that line up, I can't help ya, friend.
The Space Babes From Outer Space crowdfunding ends soon!
And right now there is a super easy way to make sure you can watch Space Babes From Outer Space. Bandit Motion Pictures is in the midst, actually the closing stretch of an indiegogo. At the time of this writing, there is only a week to go. The perks are unbelievable, there is a limited double disc “stacked” edition, that will only be available to IGG supporters. After the IGG only the single disc version will be available, and it may not be available for long. Their first film Harvest Lake is already out of print. If you made the mistake of not nailing down a copy, don't repeat it. Believe me, you will kick yourself, because the best Space Babes can only be found in Outer Space.
There isn't much time left so hurry up. Space Babes From Outer Space is our crowd funding pick of the month.
Oh, and don’t forget to give the Facebook page a like.

BOOK REVIEW: FUTURISTIC VIOLENCE AND FANCY SUITS

futuristic

By Nick Durham

David Wong is a fucking loon. Don't believe me? Go read John Dies at the End. Don Coscarelli directed a pretty good adaptation that captured most of the insanity contained in that book, but the novel itself should be read by one and all to get the full effect of Wong's lunacy. After John Dies at the End became a sleeper hit, Wong (real name Jason Pargin, AKA the editor of the wonderful humor site CRACKED) released This Book is Full of Spiders, which further cemented his demented talents. Now, here we are with his eagerly anticipated Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits; a novel which grabs you firmly by the balls and rarely relents.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits revolves around a young girl named Zoey Ashe, reserved to living her life in a trailer park with her mom, as well as he beloved cat Stench Machine. Zoey's estranged father, an insanely wealthy crime lord/business man named Arthur, has recently met a mysterious death, and left everything to Zoey. Before she knows it, Zoey is hunted down by psychopaths with freaky-ass enhancements (including a guy with a metal jaw and another one that shoots lightning from his fingertips). Her only place of refuge? A Vegas-esque city called Tabula Ra$a, where she is to hook up with her father's cohorts, who have plans of their own and surprises up their sleeves.

While definitely more in the realm of science fiction than horror, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits is equal parts farce, action romp, dark (very dark) comedy, and surprising commentary on the effects of social media and the absurdity of the YouTube generation and those that always feel the need to broadcast themselves to satiate their own narcissism. This is illustrated by Wong presenting us a world in the very not too distant future where nearly everyone in the world is broadcasting dumb ass bullshit for various audiences that eat it up, including all the viewers that tune in to what becomes a potential genocide thanks to a literal super villain.  Yes, this book is absolutely fucking insane.

The characters are well developed for the most part. Zoey is a likeable protagonist and our guide through the insanity of Tabula Ra$a. Out of her father's cohorts, the stoic Will somehow manages to be the most interesting of the bunch with the least information given about him compared to his partners, while our super villain Molech is equal parts douche bag frat boy and horrifying psycho. Oh, and little Stench Machine is a pisser. I'm all for more cat sidekicks in literature. I demand it, make this shit happen...it may be one of the only ways to get people to get off their phones and actually fucking read more.

So yeah, you should definitely go pick up Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits as soon as you can. If you read John Dies at the End and/or This Book is Full of Spiders, then you should know more or less what to expect here, except this is a much more coherent and better-structured story that is a legitimate page turner. I seriously can't recommend it enough. Check it out.

Rating: 5/5

 

THIS JUST IN: Alien 5 Put on Hold

By Dixielord

Neil Blomkamp of Chappie and Alien 5
Alien 5's Neil Blomkamp

The prospect of Alien 5 actually happening got a lot of positive buzz from fans of the series. Most of the buzz being due to attached director Neil Blomkamp (Chappie, District 9), and his vision of how to continue the franchise. Now it looks like Alien 5 has been put on hold. It isn't dead, just on hold, as confirmed by Blomkamp Twitter. Blompkamp has been eager to tackle Alien 5, so why the sudden hold.

Apparent the hold came directly from Fox and is due to the upcoming Prometheus sequel. More directly it would probably have a lot to do with the recent name change to Alien: Paradise Lost. The name change puts the Prometheus sequel squarely in the camp of the Alien franchise, and moves it closer to the series than ever. Fox has decided to put all Alien attention and resources into Alien: Paradise Lost versus Alien 5.

It's probably a good move so as not to over saturate the market and exhaust the fan base. If nothing else it will relieve any confusing with two movies both with Alien in the title, a confusion I'm sure the Asylum will take advantage of with a cheap Alien knockoff anyway. It might not set so well with fans of the Alien franchise who were disappointed with either the Prometheus movie, the last few Alien films, or both. Blompkamp fans should be satisfied that he will be working on other projects during the wait.

In Blomkamp's on words from his verified twitter

Alien is kinda holding/ pending Prometheus 2. So I shall be working on other things... as much as I love the xeno- and Lt Ripley.

The tweet also seems to confirm Ripley will be back and we can only hope that means Sigourney Weaver will be playing her. As far as I know she has not been officially attached. This far out anything can happen, but I can't see anyone else playing Ripley in Alien 5. Probably the worst fear is what happens if Alien 5 is put back into play and Blomkamp isn't available/ With the studio wait on him? Without him a lot of the buzz and excitement of Alien 5 would probably quickly melt away

Still the movie isn't dead, and hopefully will eventually make it to the big screen. It just means we will have to wait a little longer for Chappieversus Aliens. Now I want to see that mash up.

Alien vs Chappie in Alien 5
Alien vs Chappie in Alien 5? Nah man, probably not.

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

Man is the warmest place to hide.

By Woofer McWooferson

rpenter's The Thing movie poster

Director: John Carpenter; Writers: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David; Rating: R; Run Time: 109 min; Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1982

As most horror fans already know, John Carpenter's The Thing received deeply mixed reactions at its theatrical release in 1982, but has amassed one of the largest cult followings in the decades since. Information on this can be found easily, so this review will not dwell on this aspect. However, it is worth noting that the creature was so groundbreaking that it was nearly impossible to describe without sounding silly – at least at the time. In fact, Rob Bottin's description of his vision for the creature, while intriguing to Carpenter, needed to be set down on storyboards before Carpenter was sold on the idea. For this reason, John Carpenter's The Thing needs another theatrical release to enable people to enjoy it on the big screen. Perhaps it should even be shown in theaters once a decade. Or year.

John Carpenter's The Thing is a watershed film for several reasons, not the least of which are the top notch effects by Rob Bottin. While Stan Winston's group made the dog Thing, he is adamant that all know the effects were Bottin's baby and he was just called in to help. This is remniscent of Howard Hawks insistence that The Thing From Another World was Christian Nyby's direction alone – an apt comparison since Carpenter's masterpiece is, itself, an homage to The Thing From Another World (as well as a more faithful yet modernized adaptation of John W. Campbell's “Who Goes There?”). In addition to the effects, the paranoia and claustrophobic nature of being at a camp in Antarctica in winter is so effective that the audience begins to experience it. We feel as if we are just as trapped and just as helpless as the people at US Outpost 31. We have nowhere to go except to ride this pony to the finish line as we watch pull ahead and watch the others fall away. Having an all male cast was also brilliant. It creates a feeling of pent up frustration. If the movie had smell-o-rama, we would undoubtedly smell exactly what is described in the opening of the original short story, which begins with the Thing already in camp:

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice-buried cabins of an Antarctic camp know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish-oil stench of melted seal blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat-and-snow-drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not-unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air.

Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather. Yet, somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates—dogs, machines, and cooking—came another taint. It was a queer, neck-ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a life-smell. But it came from the thing that lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light.

Added to this, of course, would be the unmistakable smells of ejaculate and marijuana, for there is no way those men were stationed up there that long without masturbating. We see marijuana being smoked in the film, but the greenhouse that Childs (Keith David) and Palmer (David Clennon) tended was cut from the final release for a number of reasons.

John Carpenter's The Thing dog creature

The cast. It's difficult to convey just how perfect this ensemble is. Every character is perfectly cast, with each actor bringing pathos and realism to his role, thereby creating characters which feel thoroughly developed even though we only see them for a couple of days of their lives. R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) is a strong, no-nonsense, tough helicopter pilot with whom everyone wants to have a drink. Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is the scientist able to put the good of Earth first. Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), who is determined to help the Norweigans at the nearby camp, feels like a real doctor – and one that someone might actually want to visit. Skating cook Nauls (T.K. Carter) brings youth and freshness to a cast full of older men. Clark (Richard Masur), the dog handler, is more than sympathetic, and the audience truly feels his pain when the something happens to the dogs. Likewise Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan), George Bennings (Peter Maloney), Captain Garry (Donald Moffat), Fuchs (Joel Polis), and radio operator Windows (Thomas Waites) all seem like real people, people who might live next door or go to the same gym as you do.

The Siberian Huskies. Siberian Huskies are some of the most, if not the most, majestic and handsome dogs. While all of the Huskies in the film are well trained, Jed, who plays the lead Husky in the film, is the unequaled stand out. Jed was a wolf-dog hybrid, with the wolf side dominant, so his owner/trainer remained on set whenever Jed was being filmed. In fact, when Jed was acting, sets would be closed and this wolf intensity shows through as the Dog Thing, amping up the creep factor geometrically.

John Carpenter's The Thing Norweigan camp thing

John Carpenter's direction cannot be dismissed as it is what brought all these elements together to create the perfect horror movie. There is not a single note out of place, from Copper's nose ring and full frontal in the hall to Let's Make A Deal on videotape, from the Norwegians to the Huskies, and from MacReady to Garry to the Thing itself – this movie is a not only a phenomenal horror film, it's a damn good movie all the way around.

Man is the warmest place to hide.

By Woofer McWooferson

rpenter's The Thing movie poster

Director: John Carpenter; Writers: Bill Lancaster (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David; Rating: R; Run Time: 109 min; Genre: Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1982

As most horror fans already know, John Carpenter's The Thing received deeply mixed reactions at its theatrical release in 1982, but has amassed one of the largest cult followings in the decades since. Information on this can be found easily, so this review will not dwell on this aspect. However, it is worth noting that the creature was so groundbreaking that it was nearly impossible to describe without sounding silly – at least at the time. In fact, Rob Bottin's description of his vision for the creature, while intriguing to Carpenter, needed to be set down on storyboards before Carpenter was sold on the idea. For this reason, John Carpenter's The Thing needs another theatrical release to enable people to enjoy it on the big screen. Perhaps it should even be shown in theaters once a decade. Or year.

John Carpenter's The Thing is a watershed film for several reasons, not the least of which are the top notch effects by Rob Bottin. While Stan Winston's group made the dog Thing, he is adamant that all know the effects were Bottin's baby and he was just called in to help. This is remniscent of Howard Hawks insistence that The Thing From Another World was Christian Nyby's direction alone – an apt comparison since Carpenter's masterpiece is, itself, an homage to The Thing From Another World (as well as a more faithful yet modernized adaptation of John W. Campbell's “Who Goes There?”). In addition to the effects, the paranoia and claustrophobic nature of being at a camp in Antarctica in winter is so effective that the audience begins to experience it. We feel as if we are just as trapped and just as helpless as the people at US Outpost 31. We have nowhere to go except to ride this pony to the finish line as we watch pull ahead and watch the others fall away. Having an all male cast was also brilliant. It creates a feeling of pent up frustration. If the movie had smell-o-rama, we would undoubtedly smell exactly what is described in the opening of the original short story, which begins with the Thing already in camp:

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice-buried cabins of an Antarctic camp know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish-oil stench of melted seal blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat-and-snow-drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not-unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air.

Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather. Yet, somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates—dogs, machines, and cooking—came another taint. It was a queer, neck-ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a life-smell. But it came from the thing that lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light.

Added to this, of course, would be the unmistakable smells of ejaculate and marijuana, for there is no way those men were stationed up there that long without masturbating. We see marijuana being smoked in the film, but the greenhouse that Childs (Keith David) and Palmer (David Clennon) tended was cut from the final release for a number of reasons.

John Carpenter's The Thing dog creature

The cast. It's difficult to convey just how perfect this ensemble is. Every character is perfectly cast, with each actor bringing pathos and realism to his role, thereby creating characters which feel thoroughly developed even though we only see them for a couple of days of their lives. R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell) is a strong, no-nonsense, tough helicopter pilot with whom everyone wants to have a drink. Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) is the scientist able to put the good of Earth first. Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), who is determined to help the Norweigans at the nearby camp, feels like a real doctor – and one that someone might actually want to visit. Skating cook Nauls (T.K. Carter) brings youth and freshness to a cast full of older men. Clark (Richard Masur), the dog handler, is more than sympathetic, and the audience truly feels his pain when the something happens to the dogs. Likewise Vance Norris (Charles Hallahan), George Bennings (Peter Maloney), Captain Garry (Donald Moffat), Fuchs (Joel Polis), and radio operator Windows (Thomas Waites) all seem like real people, people who might live next door or go to the same gym as you do.

The Siberian Huskies. Siberian Huskies are some of the most, if not the most, majestic and handsome dogs. While all of the Huskies in the film are well trained, Jed, who plays the lead Husky in the film, is the unequaled stand out. Jed was a wolf-dog hybrid, with the wolf side dominant, so his owner/trainer remained on set whenever Jed was being filmed. In fact, when Jed was acting, sets would be closed and this wolf intensity shows through as the Dog Thing, amping up the creep factor geometrically.

John Carpenter's The Thing Norweigan camp thing

John Carpenter's direction cannot be dismissed as it is what brought all these elements together to create the perfect horror movie. There is not a single note out of place, from Copper's nose ring and full frontal in the hall to Let's Make A Deal on videotape, from the Norwegians to the Huskies, and from MacReady to Garry to the Thing itself – this movie is a not only a phenomenal horror film, it's a damn good movie all the way around.

Over 9,000/10 claws – I don't even know how many times I have seen this movie. Stop reading right now and go watch John Carpenter's The Thing.

Over 9,000/10 claws – I don't even know how many times I have seen this movie. Stop reading right now and go watch John Carpenter's The Thing.

UPDATE: Looking over this months later, I realize that I paid no compliments to Rob Bottin's SFX in making John Carpenter's The Thing come to life. Bottin's efforts paid off and, in my book, are the measuring stick for creature SFX to many horror fans. Neither Carpenter nor Bottin received the credit they – and everyone involved in the production – deserved. The movie's status as cult favorite and must-have for fans of the genre or SFX in general has done little to erase the effects of the deeply mixed reactions of critics at release – at best it was dismissed and at worst it was panned. John Carpenter's The Thing was a film way ahead of its time.

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Thing From Another World (1951)

The Film That Inspired John Carpenter's The Thing

By Woofer McWooferson

The Thing From Another World (1951) Title Screen

Directors: Christian Nyby, Howard Hawks (uncredited); Writers: Charles Lederer (screenplay), John W. Campbell Jr. (short story "Who Goes There?"); Stars: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, James Arness; Rating: U; Run Time: 87 min; Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1951

The Thing From Another World (1951) is the first attempt to bring “Who Goes There?”, the John W. Campbell Jr. short story, to life. While very true to the story in some aspects, it is quite different as well – more different than the two adaptations that follow. The Thing From Another World follows Captain Patrick “Pat” Hendry (Kenneth Tobey), his crew, and reporter Ned “Scotty” Scott (Douglas Spencer) who accompanies them as they travel to assist a North Pole scientific outpost. According to Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite), a scientist who has won every accolade the scientific community has to offer, something has crashed about 80 miles away and the crashed object is sufficiently magnetic to throw off compass readings. Dr. Carrington then explains why they believe the item is very likely an alien craft, and the a group soon sets out to recover what they can. After a disastrous attempt to remove the ship with thermite, they busy themselves with manually recoving a frozen being that must have come from the craft. What follows is their struggle to deal with the being when it is accidentally thawed and it returns to life, attacking the gathered and their sled dogs (Siberian Huskies) with impunity. While the main plot involves the craft and creature, there is a subplot involving Pat and Nikki (Margaret Sheridan) Dr. Carrington's secretary. This may seem distracting at first, but it actually ties back into the main plot when Nikki passes important information to Pat.

The Thing From Another World (1951) Pacing Off the Craft

Directed by Christian Nyby, whose credits include many TV shows ranging from Perry Mason to Adam-12, The Thing From Another World has many hallmarks of a Howard Hawks (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Scarface) film, such as multiple simultaneous conversations. Hawks was producer as well as Nyby's mentor, so it seems highly appropriate that it would be very Hawksesque. Nevertheless, the film received criticism and many accused it of being directed by Hawks who, they believed, allowed Nyby to put his name to it. The film is quick and crisp and trimmed of any possible fat. Even the scenes between Nikki and Pat do not feel forced or irrelevant. On the contrary, they help establish character as well as setting by showing the different ways they and others react to the situation as it escalates.

Kenneth Tobey (Hellraiser: Bloodline, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is confident and charismatic as the captain who must consider and the safety of everyone with the regulations and orders from his higher ups, all while handling Dr. Carrington and his ego. Robert Cornthwaite's portrayal of Dr. Carrington, a scientist whose faith is rooted solely in the scientific community and whose reputation is impeccable is right on the nose. He is both intelligent and ignorant, blinded by the very science that he trusts with, quite literally, his life. Margaret Sheridan's Nikki and Douglas Spencer's Scotty add both humor and realism, while James Arness as the Thing manages to convey a sense of terror – both of us as well as to us.

The Thing From Another World is not just a great scifi/horror movie, it's an all around great film with a fine plot, top notch acting, and snappy dialogue. Although tame by today's standards, it is required viewing for fans of classic science fiction and horror.

9/10 claws

BOOK REVIEW: The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three (1987)

The Dark Tower II:
The Drawing of the Three

By Woofer McWooferson

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three

Author: Stephen King; Publisher: Grant; ISBN: 978-0-937986-90-5; Media: Print (Hardcover); Length: 400 pages; Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Science fiction, Western; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1987

The Drawing of the Three, book 2 in Stephen King's magnum opus, the Dark Tower series, finds Roland sitting on a beach where book one ended. Roland's pursuit of the man in black has placed him in a position of vulnerability, and when this threatens his guns, he snaps out of a dream and back into reality. His guns, he has been taught, are everything to a gunslinger. Well, of course! How could one be a gunslinger with no guns? you might ask, but know that question will be answered in good time.

So worried about his guns (and rightfully so), he fails to comprehend the danger to himself from creatures that come out of the waves. After a brief encounter with the creatures, lobstrosities he calls them, he recovers himself and tends to his guns before beginning his journey up the beach. As he continues, he finds doors to New York City in various decades. Each door has a label (The Prisoner, The Lady of Shadows, and The Pusher), and it is through two of these doors that he meets those who will become part of his ka-tet. The other reveals a new foe in a new world. On the surface, the chosen two are unlikely candidates for companionship with Roland, but Roland can see what we cannot. Roland can see the steel in them.

The Drawing of the Three gives us more insight into Roland and his quest, through his actions alone as well as his interactions with his new companions. Where The Gunslinger was sparse like the desert Roland crossed, The Drawing of the Three is as relentless as his trek up the beach and as full and rich and varied as the city which he visits in our world. He leaves his mark on everything he touches, intentionally and unintentionally, and he eventually brings out the best in his companions. Filled with the rich descriptive narrative that Constant Readers have come to expect from Sai King, The Drawing of the Three is worthy follow up to The Gunslinger and segue into book 3, The Waste Lands.

10/10 claws – Make sure you have snacks, a drink, and a comfy seat because you will not want to put this down.

MOVIE REVIEW: Ejecta (2014)

By Nick Durham

ejecta2

I'm a sucker for anything alien-related. I've always had an intense love for science fiction, and any science fiction that gets blended with any kind of horror elements pretty much makes me cream my jeans at the thought. That's why whenever there's any kind of sci-fi/horror flick hitting the scene, I'll usually end up checking it out, even if it's against my better judgment. I should also mention now that if said film involves any kind of alien abduction-type stuff, I'm usually there front and center. That's why when I took one look at the synopsis for Ejecta, I decided to check it out.

A Canadian film from directors Chad Archibald (The Drownsman) and Matt Wiele, Ejecta stars Julian Richings (better known to most as Death from Supernatural) as an alien abductee named Cassidy who gets tracked down by a conspiracy blogger named Sullivan (Adam Seybold). What happens next unfolds out of order, mixing elements of found footage style and traditional narrative styled jump scares and suspense (i.e., you can easily tell that this film had two directors). Somehow, even though this makes Ejecta feel pretty uneven as a whole, it still works...for the most part anyway.

As the film's overarching plot begins to further reveal itself, we get the usual tropes of government conspiracies and alien creature jump scares that end up being fairly predictable, but there are some really surprisingly well-crafted ideas buried within the film's script. Some of these ideas are rarely seen in films of this type, and while they're nothing revolutionary, they make for a welcome change of pace. That, and some really nice twists towards the end, separate Ejecta from other films of its ilk.

The one department where Ejecta deserves a ton of praise is in its acting. Everyone in this film performs really well in their roles, which in all honesty I was a bit surprised at. Films of this type usually feature the standard character tropes of "dude who's been abducted before and knows shit", "dude who believes in aliens and doesn't know shit", and "government operative who knows aliens are real and knows all the shit". While Ejecta does feature all those tropes (in fact, those are our three leads), it uses them all to wonderful effect, and each one is extremely well acted from Richings, Seybold, and Pontypool actress Lisa Houle as the interrogator/doctor who gets way, way more than she bargained for.

Ejecta isn't anything bad, it isn't anything all that special either, and it definitely isn't for everybody. It has its slow burn elements, but when it gets good, it's pretty good. Plus, it runs at a fairly brisk running time, so you could do much, much worse than what this film has to offer. If alien abduction-type scares or anything I've described sounds up your alley at all, check this out.

Rating: 3/5

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): The Green Slime (1969)

Before The Andromeda Strain. Before Alien. Before Armageddon.
There was The Green Slime.

By Woofer McWooferson

The Green Slime movie poster
The Green Slime movie poster

Director: Kinji Fukasaku; Writers: Bill Finger (screenplay) (as William Finger), Ivan Reiner (story) , Tom Rowe (screenplay) , Charles Sinclair (screenplay); Stars: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel; Rating: G; Run Time: 90 min; Genre: Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1969

“Nothing exciting ever happens around here.” Words that any moviegoer knows is a trigger for something exciting to happen – but not usually the kind of excitement that the characters would enjoy. In The Green Slime, the excitement comes in the form of an asteroid breaking out of orbit and hurtling toward Earth at a phenomenal rate. Earth's only hope is to blast apart the asteroid, and the only man capable of successfully heading that mission is the soon to be retired Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton). With less than ten hours to destroy the asteroid, Rankin is on his way to the space station headed up by his former partner Commander Vince Elliot (Richard Jaeckel). In an awkward love triangle that is edited out of the Japanese version, Rankin's ex is one of the station's doctors, Dr. Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi), and she is currently with Elliot. Can these two commanders overcome their rivalry and join together to save Earth?

There's more than one threat from this asteroid, though, and our hapless astronauts are unaware of the danger they face. After saving Earth from the asteroid, the crew returns to the station to undergo decontamination – three times. They have unwittingly returned with a hitchhiker, and soon the space station is under attack by the green slime that lived on the surface of the asteroid. Once again Rankin and Bass – er – Rankin and Elliot must work together to save Earth.

There is a reason that MST3K chose The Green Slime for their pilot/promo episode, and that reason is that The Green Slime has it all – major and more major threat, technical jargon, harried ground control, dashing astronauts, a doctor who wants to save the slime for SCIENCE, and the woman who loved both commanders. Not only that, The Green Slime comes with a funky theme song that has a good beat and you can dance to it.

BONUS FACT: Director Kinji Fukasaku also directed Battle Royale, Battle Royale II, and the Japanese segments of Tora! Tora! Tora!

5/10 claws – cheesy goodness for everyone! Invite your friends, but don't forget the green slime cheese topping!

MOVIE REVIEW: Zombie Cats from Mars (2015)

Zombie Cats from Mars:

A Brief Look at a Labor of Love

By Woofer McWooferson

Zombie Cats
Director: Montetré; Writer: Ryan Cloutier; Stars: Ernest Adams, Bobby Bridges, Josh Edward; Rating: NR; Run Time: 97 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2015

Zombie Cats from Mars feels like it was made for fun and with no regard for marketability. The plot is stereotypical: a young person sees something unusual and tries to warn adults but ends up having to take care of the situation because the adults do not believe him.

As a film, Zombie Cats from Mars falls short in every category, but as riff fodder it is overripe for the picking. Most of the acting is flat and uninspired, the effects are so far below par as not to register, and the plot is thinner than fruit fly wings. However, this doesn't mean the movie sucks. Far from it. Zombie Cats from Mars is a highly riffable movie with many laugh-inducing scenes. It seems to be an in joke of a film, a labor of love and whimsy that was never intended as a serious “art” film. With this in mind, Zombie Cats from Mars becomes as much of an iconic piece of B-movie mania as any medium-budgeted SyFy movie does.

If you like Mars or cats or zombies or movies or any combination of these, then Zombie Cats from Mars is for you. Make sure you have friends over because it's a movie best viewed with others.

Still unsure? Check them out on Facebook or the official website.

5/10 claws – because it's a labor of love and an imminently riffable romp