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Aug 242016
 

Shortly after I became interested in Vincent Price movies like The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors, the next one I saw was The Fall of the House of Usher, which is a much darker drama in the ways of horror.

It’s about Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) who travels to the House of Usher to see his fiancée Madeline (Myrna Fahey). This house is a desolate mansion near a murky swamp past a dark forest. As creepy as the scenery is, Philip intends to take Madeline away from all that.

The only problem is Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price), her only living relative. He believes that the entire Usher bloodline is tainted since every relative was an evildoer consumed by madness and it must not continue.

Roderick also has sensitive hearing, which is why even the tiniest loud noise is too much for him to handle. I can remember this being spoofed on Elvira’s Haunted Hills. Looking back now, I’m actually surprised that Roderick never put pillows over his ears, among other things.

Roderick tries to warn Philip and get him to leave for his own safety, but Philip refuses. Now throughout the rest of the movie, Phillip struggles to deal with the haunting disasters of the house and being able to let Madeline go with him. That even includes making Philip think she’s dead, even though she’s really cataleptic.

The pacing slows down at this point. All that really stands out, other than the climax, is when Philip falls asleep and dreams that he’s in the lower level of the house that’s all foggy. Then enters a room filled with ghouls.

This was a good movie with an interestingly simple horror story. There was a remake but it was nothing like this one. The early 60’s certainly were a great time for Edgar Allan Poe based moves.

Aug 172016
 

Remember the old classic arcade games of the early 1980s like Asteroids, Space Invaders, Defender, Frogger, etc.? Well here’s a movie that puts them all together with a modern twist called Pixels.

Home theater installer Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) was once a video game wizard and even entered an arcade world competition. The secret to his success was memorizing the patterns. Unfortunately, Sam lost on the final game, Donkey Kong. You’ve got to admit that it’s a hard one, since remembering patterns isn’t always the key to succeeding like many video games we have today.

After the competition ends, the footage from it gets put in a time capsule and sent out into space in hopes of finding alien life. Thirty years later, aliens did find the capsule and saw it as a declaration of war, even though that was not Earth’s intention at all. It often seems like any gesture of peace toward extraterrestrials ends up mistaken for war. Like on Mars Attacks when a dove was released, then the aliens go crazy and shoot everyone.

When the aliens arrive on Earth, they attack in the forms of the old classic video game characters, starting with Galaga, then Arknoid. Luckily, Sam’s best friend Will Cooper (Kevin James) is the President of the United States, since Sam’s expertise in gaming is the key to stopping these aliens from destroying the planet. Sam needed that connection so he would be allowed to share his knowledge with the government despite that everyone thinks that President Cooper is a buffoon.

With the assistance of conspiracy nut Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) and Lieutenant Colonel Violet Van Patten (Michelle Monaghan) a new squad is formed called the Arcaders. However, it also includes Sam’s old nemesis and arrogant gaming champ Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage).

The next game the aliens attack with is Centipede. The look from the original game was pretty tame, but this new updated look is cooler and edgier. The battle was exciting and smooth once Sam and Ludlow had the opportunity to take action themselves, even with the giant spiders jumping around.

It’s also neat that even though the aliens don’t show their true forms, they disguise themselves as celebrities from the 80s like Ronald Reagan, Hall & Oates, and young Madonna. Even Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) makes an appearance. Remember that character?

The next game is PAC-Man, a true classic, but as a twist PAC-Man is the enemy. Sam, Ludlow, and Eddie drive cars that represent the ghosts in a wild action sequence. If you thought that it couldn’t get any more exciting, think again.

In the climax, the Arcaders face their greatest challenge yet, Donkey Kong. What are the odds that it’s the one game Sam struggles with most? On the other hand, it’s so awesome that you get to see the game play from such an intense angle.

Although it’s definitely not something you would expect from an Adam Sandler film, Pixels was a creative movie about a love for video games that has plenty of nostalgic value as well as Adam Sandler’s brand of comedy. It’s especially humorous with Q-Bert’s antics.

Aug 102016
 

Sesame Street – Put Down the Duckie is a feature I remember well long before it was released on DVD. Back in 1988, it was advertised as The Sesame Street Special and premiered on Prime Time. When I first heard about it, I couldn’t wait to see it, despite the fact that the network had a telethon that ran through some of the time slot. Don’t you just hate that?

The special starts with Gladys Knight and the Pips performing the extended version of the Sesame Street theme, then Phil Donohue interviewing the people on the street. Of course everyone wants to speak. It was enough for Phil Donohue to take off. I remember Phil Donohue having a popular talk show back in the day but never understood it.

From here on out, this feature is all songs and segments from previous episodes of that season. The highlights include the Monsterpiece Theater segment The 39 Stairs, Grover as a singing and dancing waiter in a Spanish restaurant, and the Jellyman Kelly song.

Of course the biggest highlight in this feature is Hoots the Owl and his band performing Put Down the Duckie as Ernie struggles to play the saxophone while holding his rubber duckie. As an extension to the catchy song, various celebrities join in like Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Madeline Khan, Paul Simon, Jane Curtain, Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens), and bunch of others I didn’t recognize.

Speaking of celebrity guest stars, in another segment Bob (Bob McGrath) sings People in your Neighborhood, which features Barbara Walters getting the scoop on Bob and Linda’s (Linda Bove) relationship and Ralph Nader practically destroying Bob’s sweater as he inspects it. This segment seems much different compared to past versions of this song because it’s not as innocent as before when comes to describing each person’s job.

I can also remember back in the day when Robert MacNeil was a news correspondent on PBS. He appears on this feature to investigate a missing cookie story by talking to Cookie Monster. Kermit the frog also appears as Cookie’s lawyer.

The final segment is called Pretty Great Performances, which features an all animal orchestra performing Italian Street Song with Placido Flamingo. Who remembers this character? Looking back now, he sounds just like Wayne from The Muppet Show, especially when he sings.

This was certainly a classic Sesame Street feature, especially since it was only on TV once. You still won’t find this feature on cable because it’s now part of Sesame Street Old School. By the way, when do you think they’ll release Sesame Street Old School: Volume 4 on DVD?

Aug 032016
 
Anime Festival Orlando was awesome this year. Among the celebrity guests who attended was voice actor Gregg Berger. He had voiced some great characters over the years and was a really nice guy who enjoys what he does. Here are my favorite characters.
Image result for garfield and friends odie
Odie from Garfield franchise: Next to Garfield, this friendly unintelligent dog is the most iconic. One thing I always found peculiar about Odie is that in a franchise where all animals can talk, he’s the only one that doesn’t and there’s no explanation why. At least Odie understands what the other animals say.
Image result for garfield and friends orson
Orson Pig from Garfield and Friends: I often think that Orson is the leadership figure of the U.S. Acres because he is the most sensible of the group. Orson is also a bookworm and sometimes thinks he’s the hero of the stories he reads. The most common is his superhero alter ego, Power Pig. Of course I can’t blame Orson for wanting to play pretend once in a while since he has to put up with the hijinks of his friends, not to mention his older brothers that treat him like a runt.
On a side note: Gregg autographed my Garfield and Friends, Volume 1 DVD set while doing the voice of Orson.
Floyd the Mouse
Floyd the mouse from Garfield and Friends: We all know that Garfield is not a mouser. As a result, Floyd becomes a good friend of his. As far as I can tell, the only things that separate Floyd from other mice are his bulgy eyes and his brand of humor that works when paired with the funny cat.
Image result for duckman cornfed pig 1994
Cornfed Pig from Duckman: This detective is Duckman’s partner and the more sensible member of the duo. Cornfed is highly intelligent and skilled in many ways. I can definitely tell by the way he talks, despite that he also comes off as a chatterbox.
Grimlock from Transformers (80s version): He’s the leader of the Dinobots and transforms into a T-Rex. Like the other Dinobots, Grimlock is pretty stubborn and always up for taking action. When it comes to the Dinobots, Grimlock is really the only one who stands out as an individual. It might have to do with the action figure I have with the other Transformers I’ve kept over the years.
Image result for Fantastic Max AB
AB Sitter from Fantastic Max: He’s a toy robot with the persona of an overprotective adult. AB is often intent on telling Max what to do. Of course, Max doesn’t listen. That’s what makes his rule telling so funny. AB may often be uptight, but his heart is in the right place.
What are some of your favorite characters?
Jul 272016
 

Fighting games were huge back in the 90s as well as they are today. Normally what comes to mind are Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instinct, which started a trend of other fighting game franchises. The one I’m going to focus on now is Fatal Fury.

I never actually played any of the Fatal Fury games before, but I do remember reading about them in magazines like Nintendo Power and Gamepro. Like most fighting games, it was just a bunch of cool characters with awesome special moves and hardly any story lines. Of course that’s always cleared up with movies and comics that are based on the games.

It turns out that Fatal Fury did have a movie called Fatal Fury the Movie and it was Anime that I find reminiscent to Street Fighter 2: The Animated Movie, which is very nostalgic.

The story here is about the ancient armor of Mars that was split into six pieces, but once assembled it would make anyone who wears it powerful enough to destroy the world. Laocorn Gaudeamus intends to find all of the pieces that were scattered all over the world. So far he has already found three.

Laocorn’s twin sister Sulia seeks out martial artists Terry Bogard, his brother Andy, the brash Joe Higashi, and the gorgeous Mai Shiranui to stop Laocorn and save him from himself.

The martial arts action is awesome. I’ll tell you, if I was as familiar with these characters like I am with the ones from Street Fighter, I would enjoy the battle scenes much more while looking forward to seeing any of the special moves.

However, this feature doesn’t just have battle scenes among the major characters. The heroes also battle a group of assailants whose power come from their masks. Removing the masks may defeat these mystical fighters, but don’t underestimate them.

Lastly, it’s pretty neat that when any of the heroic fighters, who includes Kim Kaphwan, are out of uniform, they can change very quickly before going into battle. I guess it’s the look of the fighters in the video games, which seems to be a big part of their strength.

This was an interesting movie. Even though it runs long at points, this blast from the past is one I would recommend, especially if you grew up on video games from the 90s.