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Mar 222017
 

Hanna-Barbera is best known for its animated shows with the occasional live action series. It turns out that there was an old series that combined both called The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968-1969). It’s about Tom Sawyer (Kevin Schultz), Huckleberry Finn (Michael Shea), and Becky Thatcher (LuAnn Haslam) ending up in an animated world while on the run from their nemesis Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy) in a mysterious cave. Their goal is to get back home to their hometown Hannibal, Missouri.

When I first saw this show on the Boomerang channel a while back, I was fascinated that it had live actors in an animated world like in such movies as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cool World, and Space Jam. I always liked that concept.

Another interesting point is about Injun Joe. The three young heroes always end up someplace different and the animated antagonist always has a very striking resemblance to Injun Joe, right down to the chain and handcuff on his right wrist. Ted Cassidy voices each villain. As much as I liked his role of Lurch from The Addams Family, it’s good to see him doing a different range of characters too. Despite that the live action version of Injun Joe is only in the intro of every episode.

In addition to that, after the villain is defeated (sometimes ending in death) Injun Joe easily comes back as someone else. This leads to number of theories, from the whole series being one long dream to Injun Joe having some kind of supernatural power we know nothing about. Whatever the reason, it makes for an interesting episode formula.

The only other show I know of that used that tactic was Back to the Future the animated series (1991-1993). Whenever the protagonists travel back to any time period, they always run into an ancestor of Biff Tannen, who always calls Marty McFly a butthead at least once. I always found that interesting.

Back to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I also would like to point out that even though Tom, Becky, and Huck are the only non-animated characters, there are times when they are animated at a distance. Particularly when a stunt double is required. It’s so clever how that works.

This was certainly a great series overall, especially with its unique method of real actors in animated worlds. What could’ve made this DVD set better was if there had been a special feature about how the series was put together. Unfortunately, there are none.

Mar 152017
 

Next to Anime, Sentai shows are often interesting. One title that always seems to pop up is Ultraman: The Complete Series (1966-1967). Until fairly recently, I had no idea what it was about since the commercials and merchandise don’t tell much.

The series takes place in the future and various aliens from outer space, mainly giant monsters, come to Earth and try to threaten civilization. It’s always up to an organization called the Science Patrol to protect the planet from these monstrous threats.

The Science Patrol consists of Captain Mura (Akiji Kobayashi), tough guy Daisuke Arashi (Sandayu Dokumamushi), the funny inventor Mitsuhiro Ide (Masanari Nihei), the pretty radio/communications operator Akiko Fuji (Horoko Sakurai), and her younger brother Hoshin Fuji (Akihide Tsuzawa).

Also helping out is Deputy Captain Shin Hayata (Susumu Korobe), who unknown to everyone is Ultraman, a giant intergalactic hero.

Unlike other superheroes, Shin never transforms right away when faced with the monstrous danger. He always waits to do so as a last resort because Ultraman has a color timer, limiting his powers. In a way, it’s a total rip off.

I know that it’s a 60s series and I don’t expect much action, but the Ultraman battles are only featured in the climax of each episode. That’s best part of the show, seeing Ultraman kick monster butt.

Overall, this was a good show for its time. Though not as exciting as the Super Sentai franchise, it certainly is interesting like in the way of the classic Godzilla movies.

Mar 082017
 

When it comes to vampire movies, it’s easy to think of Dracula. Back in the 70s, there was a creative version called Blacula. This is about Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall, who I remember best as the King of Cartoons from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse) seeking help from Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to surpress the slave trade, but instead Dracula turns the prince into a vampire thus making him Blacula. Who would’ve thought that Dracula was involved in the slave trade back in 1780.

About two hundred years later, Blacula rises again and looks for victims in Los Angeles. I’m sure he’s merely suffering with his thirst for blood. It’s easy to see that in the animated opening title sequence, which is really cool I might add.

Soon Blacula claims his first victims, interior designers Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schaffer (Rick Melzler) and decides to take a cape to add to his look. Why not, I mean what’s a vampire without a cape.

After taking a few more victims, Blacula finds a young woman named Tina (Vonetta McGee). She has a striking resemblance to Blacula’s wife Luva, mainly because the same actress plays her.

Normally Blacula doesn’t care who his victims are, but he would never intentionally harm Tina or take her by force. Even after Blacula reveals what he really is, Tina still falls for him. Is that insane or what?

The only one suspicious about the mysterious attacks is scientific investigator Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who happens to be dating Tina’s sister Michelle (Denise Nicholas). To prove it, he intends to show his superiors the vampire victims in order for them to believe him. That was a smart move on Dr. Thomas’s part.

The main victim that stands out to me is Juanita Jones (Ketty Lester) the cab driver. After running over Blacula, she had an attitude with him, which was pretty funny. Juanita was one heck of a vampire too.

Blacula has the same weaknesses as any vampire, but here’s something different. He tends to avoid a certain individual named Skillet (Ji-Tu Cumbuka) who often describes Blacula as “one strange dude”. Could it be because Skillet likes to be photographed, or because he’s so annoying? It’s hard to say.

Even though it’s not shown until much later in the movie, Blacula can also turn into a bat. The effect is really smooth and amazing.

I liked this movie. It was certainly good for its time, especially when compared with how the vampires looked back in the 70s to the vampires in movies today. Those were more simpler times.

Mar 012017
 

Based on the title alone, The Seven Deadly Sins (2014-2016) does sound like a show about evildoers with a story plot similar to the movie Se7en. However, that’s not what it is at all. The Seven Deadly Sins are actually a group of heroic immortal knights in the region of Britannia until they disbanded after being wrongfully accused of plotting to overthrow the Liones Kingdom.

In actuality, it was another group of knights called the Holy Knights that took over and captured the king. So the king’s daughter Princess Elizabeth goes in search of the seven deadly sins in hopes of reuniting them to save her kingdom.

The first sin she finds is the leader Meliodas the sin of Wrath. Though he has the appearance of a child, Meliodas is very powerful. He has a comedic side also, which is mainly shown when he freely touches Elizabeth inappropriately without thinking. Oddly, Elizabeth doesn’t seem to mind because she never reacts to it.

The real comic relief comes from Meliodas’s companion Hawk the talking pig. He always reacts to Meliodas’s perverted ways and yells whenever anyone jokes about eating a pig product.

I met Christina Vee, who was the voice of Hawk, at Anime Festival Orlando 2011.

As the three of them travel together in a tavern that’s strapped onto a giant green pig, which is really nifty, more deadly sins are found like Ban the sin of Greed. He’s strong and has a laid back attitude, especially when it comes to stealing people’s clothes. However, Ban is very devoted for those he cares about.

Diane the sin of Envy is a giant girl who is in love with Meliodas, though he’s devoted to Elizabeth. I can see Diane being out of place being the only giant of the team, but she is very much an equal member as far as the other sins are concerned.

King the sin of Sloth is a fairy king that flies with a comfy pillow, which is appropriate. King isn’t lazy though. He’s in love with Diane, but their relationship is complicated because of Diane’s feelings for Meliodas.

It isn’t until much later in the series when the remaining sins are found. Gowther the sin of Lust is book smart but struggles to understand emotions. The best way Gowther does is by studying other people’s actions on how emotions work.

Lastly there’s Merlin the sin of Gluttony. That’s right, it’s Merlin from Camelot. Though shockingly, Merlin is a woman and an attractive one at that. She didn’t participate in the series until much later, but it would’ve helped if Merlin had appeared sooner.

This was an interesting Anime series overall. I’m sure you might be thinking that there were supposed to be seven sins but only six were featured. It’s true that one sin was still unaccounted for, Pride. I wonder who that could be.

Feb 222017
 

Normally when it comes to shooter video games, the most common genres featured are action, horror, or movie based games like Transformers and Jurassic Park. Well here’s a shooter that’s more cute and cartoony. It’s called Chicken Shoot for Nintendo Wii.

The object of the game is to shoot as many chickens as you can as they fly by. Some of which contain weapon upgrades. However, unlike other shooters, there’s not even an ounce of bloodshed. When a chicken is shot, the content is reminiscent of Looney Tunes or any of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the 60s.

As you proceed through the levels the scenery takes place in different countries from Scandinavia to the Himalayas to even Antarctica. Why would a simple farmer travel that far and wide just to shoot chickens? It just doesn’t sound logical if you think about it.

The control is a little tricky but real simple once you get the hang of it. For instance, the traveling is not automatic. You have to move the Wii remote like a mouse to move in any given direction. Luckily, each stage only takes place in a small-condensed area.

Speaking of moving the Wii remote, quickly moving it off screen is how you usually reload your ammo. In this game, you just press the ‘A’ button. It took me a while to figure that out because I’m used to how other shooters reload.

At this point you might think Chicken Shoot isn’t too challenging. Well in later stages, not only do you have more chickens to find and shoot, more of them throw eggs you have to shoot before they hit you. Supposably there is a life bar, but it’s not real visible.

There are three different modes to choose from. They are the arcade mode, the classic game mode that is merely shooting against the clock in stage one, and the Catch an Egg game.

Catch an Egg is a mini game where you catch eggs in the hen house before they hit the ground. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Once again moving the Wii remote like a mouse does the control.

This was certainly an interesting game for its cute humor and game play. It’s one of those rare titles that a certain genre is not well known for, but still stands out just the same.