I Think Tuco’s A Bit Upset…

(Thanks, Luciano Napoli!)

No, Tuco… you’ve not been forgotten, pal. We’ll get to you soon enough. Hey, folks – Video Store Action Heroes is a thing and it’s LIVE (woo and hoo). Check out the three cooler entries and mine, which is just OK:

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Just press PLAY (and don’t forget to rewind when you’re done, pal.

Mike’s Take on the Movies does up 1983’s Uncommon Valor (in which we also discover Mike either works out regularly, has some great Photoshop skills, or both).

Todd goes all Cinema Monolith on 1980’s ffolkes (aka North Sea Hijack or Assault Force) in a Moore or less fine as usual review.

Wolfman’s Cult Movie Club takes on one of my favorites, 1987’s The Hidden and I’ll say now that it’s a good thing he saw this great hidden gem first and not the screamingly awful sequel.

What’s up for future installments? Well… you’ll just need to tune in and find out now, won’t you?

-GW

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Not So Random Film of The Weekend: The Zero Boys

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Ooh, it’s my first entry in this soon to be never-ending series. Be gentle!

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While it’s certainly an entertaining popcorn and beer-worthy flick with great camerawork, direction and an appropriately 80’s blend of synth-heavy and orchestral scoring courtesy of Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer, there’s something a wee bit “off” about Nico Mastorakis’ 1986 film The Zero Boys  that keeps it from total greatness. Don’t get me wrong, folks: It’s certainly got just about everything it needs to be a perfectly fine cheesy action flick and even adds in some mildly disturbing  moments that lend it a solid horror vibe. However, there’s very little in the way of gore here and you certainly don’t want to go in expecting a ton of exploitative nudity even though you’d think a film such as this made at this point in time would include a moderate heaping of both as par for the crowd-pleasing course.

In fact, according to an interview on the Arrow Video Blu-Ray, Mastorakis deliberately made the film this way as a sort of counterbalance to his far more brutal 1976 film Island of Death. If you take away the expletives and make a few minor edits, you pretty much have a PG-rated flick that you could easily show on a regular network or basic cable channel these days. Amusingly enough, by comparison, an average episode of Gotham has a load more violence than what you’ll see here (I kind of liked the first two seasons, but the show’s gotten a bit too grim as a alternate world take on its source material, but I digress…).

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Let’s see now: Bandanna? Check. Attitude? Check. Gun? Check. I think that’s everything, but you know how these things go (until they don’t go the way you think).

That’s not to say the film is totally tame, mind you. It moves from high action and a slightly comedic tone at the start into those more moody and serious scare scenes with relative ease and works well enough on that level. In general, Mastorakis’ films tend to go in all sorts of directions as they blend drama, comedy, action, sexy stuff and lots of suspension of disbelief common to genre films. Of course, if you pay too close attention to the writing, some parts don’t click as well as they should because the story needs to move along, damn the continuity consequences or assorted logic fails. In other words, this is one of those films where any sort of overthinking makes it a lot less fun.

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COMING SOON: Getting Some More Action In

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Psst. Hey. Yeah, you. Keep this a secret, would ya? Um, August 18th is when you may want to pop in and see what’s what. Shhhhhh. Just you, though.

Okay,  you may tell a friend or three.  I’ll go make some popcorn.

-GW

Mail Call: #TBT Edition

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An early Christmas gift for myself, arriving in time to rescue a bumpy week. Yep. Review incoming – stay tuned. Thank you, Vinegar Syndrome! That packing job was superb and the shipping was super quick. Now, I need to get my grubby paws on that DVD catalog set of yours so I can poke at a few other releases for the library here.

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Back in a bit.

-GW

Something About Three Kings Lost Makes This #TBT A Lot More Wistful


 

“Sometimes it snows in April.” Thanks to not sleeping last night (working on a few projects for the site plus tackling a small freelance job) I was quite out of the loop today and only heard the news that Prince died when I walked in the door. While I wasn’t a die-hard super fan like a few friends, the fact that he did just about EVERYTHING on his studio recordings and was so prolific that it made me wonder if the man ever slept. That sort of work ethic has always impressed me, but it’s always sad to see someone so talented leave so soon. Anyway, I’ll just leave this clip here (it’s been circulating the internet like a satellite today). In a way, I feel sorry for the kids today who never got to see any of these legends live or don’t know of how much they all changed the music and entertainment scene. All were human and had human problems, but on stage or on whatever you listened to them on, your brain and body were moving to beats that still resonate and motivate when the need arises.

Back in a bit. My favorite Prince song? Wow. Much of Purple Rain aside, I guess this one because it made me laugh (that dancing in the video is awesome but amusing) and even more so when it was covered by an icon from a previous era whose career got a massive boost afterwards.

BUY IT! MVD Entertainment Has Reptiles and Ants For Sale

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Oh yep. I’ve since forgotten who introduced me to Amphetamine Reptile Records way back in the day, but it was a fine and more than a little insane musical journey that was great while it lasted. MVD Entertainment Group is getting me (and some of you) to relive those glory days of noise rock with what’s going to be one of the best documentaries on the subject, Eric Robel’s The Color of Noise in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. This trailer gives you a little taste of what to expect when the doc appears on home video November 24 and even better, MVD and AmRep will also re-issue some of the best releases from the label’s catalog on vinyl and CD starting in December 2015 and continuing into 2016 and beyond. Continue reading

Retro Pop Box Turns Your Mailbox Into A Time Machine

Retro Pop Box (1)If you’re a child of the 1960’s, 70’s or 80’s, or know someone of a certain age craving some random nostalgia, Retro Pop Box is going to be right up your/their alley. The just-launched subscription-only service delivers the goods in the form of monthly boxes of themed swag, all of it fun and guaranteed to get the memory banks kicking in as you’re transported back to your childhood.

A sampler box containing a few items from all three eras popped up in my mailbox a few days back (thanks, Chris!) and it made a rather bland Wednesday end on a rainbow-colored rocket with a paisley disco ball painted on it. Or something close to that.

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READS: VHS Video Cover Art

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If you were around during the 1980’s and owned a VHS player a trip to the video store was probably something done a few times a week in order to check out some good to awful films you hadn’t seen previously or had caught in a theater and wanted to experience all over again. The better video rental shops were part museum, offering up box after box of wildly re-imagined art that didn’t always match what was on those tapes you wanted to rent. From scantily clad ladies beckoning you to pick up that case to painted explosions that guaranteed at least if the film was atrocious stuff would blow up really good, it was a boom time for “B” movie fans. Over in the UK, movie fans got even wilder cover art to ogle from a wide range of artists of assorted talent covering genres from sci-fi and horror to comedy and assorted exploitation flicks.

Whether you’re a fan of the period or just want a great art book to show off to friends, Schiffer Books’ VHS Video Cover Art ($34.99) comes very highly recommended. Compiled by Tom ‘The Dude Designs’ Hodge (a great movie poster artist inspired by this period), the 12″ x 9″ hardcover book is 264 pages of eye-popping artwork. Some of it great, most of it cheesy to an extreme. Here in the US that cheese factor is most likely going to be the appeal to many buyers who may only know some of these films through their western movie posters and/or VHS cover art which was more often than not straightforward studio commissioned art and photos.

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He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Get the Coffee Table Book Treatment

The Art of He-ManOkay, I’ll admit to not being much into He-Man and the Masters of the Universe way back when it was on TV and those beefy action figures and massive playsets were selling like hotcakes in stores. However, I was a big fan of Earl Norem‘s fantasy artwork as well as some of the cool animation Funimation had been doing since the late 60’s. As soon as I heard Dark Horse Comics was putting out a massive 300+ page regular and limited edition hardcover called The Art of He-Man And The Masters of the Universe, it went on my long list of books I needed to check out.

After getting a digital copy to peruse last week, color me impressed and a *kiiiind of* new convert to the old kid’s show. Granted, I’m not about to run out and buy up a box set and binge watch myself into a coma anytime soon. But thanks to the wonderful art and well-done interviews with many involved with the show, toys, comics and even that weird live action film, I respect the show a lot more on the art side of things. It’s still a big toy-selling chunk of nostalgia, but that sort of thing is why many now adults loved the show back in the day. I’m sure some of their parents had an eyebrow raised every time a new figure was requested and I don’t even want to think about holiday shopping for a hot new playset with a bunch of other parents eyeballing the same big box. Anyway, if one or more of those links floats your boat, go make a purchase. The regular edition is in stores on April 15 and the LE hits retail in May.

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Oh, and someone needs to track down Earl Norem and send him a nice letter of thanks for all his gorgeous artwork, as his Wikipedia page is kind of depressing near the end. Personally, I think more people including younger illustration fans WOULD indeed be interested about the career of an 81-year-old artist. Hell, they’d better be, as his work was always consistently grand in just about anything he did.

Random Art: “I Coulda Had A Hirschfeld!”

Art copyright Don Orehek

Art copyright Don Orehek


 

So, if you’re old enough and happened to be a New Yorker (or in NYC) during the 1970’s and into the 80’s, there was a chance you could walk into a certain place at a certain time of the year and have a caricature drawn by a world famous (or nearly world famous) cartoonist for FREE. Yes, that’s right. Before the days of “Pay me!” comic convention art, ebay, and heck, the internet, a lucky few locals and tourists smart enough to find out about the event could queue up at The Manhattan Savings Bank for it’s yearly (National) Cartoonist’s Show.

I’d heard about this back in the early 80’s and wanted to go, but never could find time to get downtown until 1987 when I was working in Manhattan. If I’m not mistaken, a friend of mine had gone either the previous year or the year before and lucked out big time, getting Al Hirschfeld to draw him. Who wouldn’t want a Hirschfeld for nothing? I recall not knowing who was going to be at the 1987 event, and with only an hour for lunch, I figured (correctly) that the more popular cartoonists would get the longest lines. I don’t remember every artist at the event (there were no cell phone cameras back then and I didn’t think to pack a camera with me on a warm summer day to record history), but I eventually made it in front of three of them and the results you’re seeing below the jump…
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