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Oct 012013

Based on the book series by R.L. Stine, Goosebumps (1995-1998) provides horror that’s focused on a young level. I can remember this series being one of the most popular shows from the mid 90s, next to Power Rangers. However, like the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, there are no consistent characters. Every episode features different characters, all played by different actors. Like the books, the only consistency Goosebumps provides is its creative level of horror and follows the same formula, which is about teenagers encountering a supernatural force and must defeat it themselves. Most commonly it happens to kids who have just moved to a new neighborhood.

Since each Goosebumps episode is so different, I’ve come up with a list of some of my favorites.

The House of No Return: Three mischievous friends, Robbie (Jeff Davis), Nathan (Robin Weekes), and Laurie (Lauren Annis), form a club called Danger Inc. They try to recruit as many members as they can, but the initiation requires spending one hour in an old abandoned house that’s haunted by the ghosts of a married couple, who love children. Danger Inc. calls it a test of bravery. Boy, are they in for a rude awakening.

The Haunted House Game: A little girl (Dara Perlmutter) tricks two teens, Jonathon (Benjamin Plener) and Nadine (Laura Vanderwoort), into going inside an abandoned house and they find a board game that comes to life. Now the teens must play the game in order to survive the ghostly terrors inside. What really makes this interesting is the adventurous quest on the game board and the creepy exploration inside the house, which is like a puzzle. All of the doorways lead to random areas. For example, once you enter the front door, you’re already in the basement. Who do you suppose was the original interior decorator?

Teacher’s Pet: During a class field trip in the woods, two friends, Becca (Michelle Risi) and Benjy (Telmo Miranda), stray from the group and find a creepy old cabin that reveals a mystery behind their science teacher’s love of snakes. One of the most common scenarios of the horror genre is about teens being terrorized in the woods, which I find interesting. Let’s face it, you can’t have a horror themed series without at least one episode about teens in the woods.

The Ghost Next Door: In this two parter, a young girl named Hannah (Nicole Dicker) suspects her new friend Danny (Cody Jones) to be a ghost, but includes a twist that I never saw coming.

Ghost Beach: Siblings Jerry (Sheldon Smith) and Terri (Jessica Hogeveen) Sadler meet Sam (Billy Turnbull) and Louisa (Anna Majewski), who coincidentally have the same last name. They tell Jerry and Terri about a cave at the beach that’s haunted by a ghost. Of course, who could resist checking that out in the middle of the night?

What are some of your favorite Goosebumps episodes?

Aug 232013

Image result for the addams family animated series

Many of us remember the classic Addams Family sitcom from the 1960s and the success continued with other versions. The one I want to focus on now is The Addams Family (1992-1993) animated series, which was produced by Hanna Barbera.

Shortly after the first Addams Family movie, this Saturday morning cartoon quickly followed with some new developments. First off, Thing used to be a hand that only appears out of open containers. Now he can travel anywhere as a dismembered hand.

Lurch is also different. He is still strong and intimidates guests with his presence, but he hardly ever talks. It’s just not as funny as the Lurch from the sitcom, who is still a big favorite of mine.

The Addams’s are a friendly close knit family despite how different they are compared to most people. The main people who are against the Addams’s are their neighbors the Normanmeyers. Norman and his wife Normina always think of ways to sabotage the Addams’s in attempt to drive them out of town. Of course they always fail, the Addams’s never hold a grudge. All they want to do is be neighborly.

Norman and Normina have a son, Norman Jr., who likes the Addams’s and is able to look past their differences. He often tries to convince his parents that the Addams’s are not so bad, but do they ever listen?

John Astin, who I met at Spooky Empire MAY-HEM 2012, reprises his role as Gomez Addams.

Overall, this animated take on the Addams Family franchise is a good one that’s more on a younger level. In other words, the creepy hijinks are smoother, whether it’s Pugsley trying to terrorize his sister with an axe, or Uncle Fester’s explosions and his use for light bulbs. It’s amazing.

One last item: This may seem a little off topic, but I also met Debi Derryberry, who voices the role of Wednesday Addams, at Anime Festival Orlando 2013. She has voiced many different characters over the years, including Jimmy Neutron.

Other than Wednesday Addams, the role I remember best was Tinkerbell from Peter Pan and the Pirates, which was labeled as a lost gem. Debi enjoyed doing that character.

Mar 152013

Highly skilled warriors have always been both inspirational and interesting heroes in pop culture. From martial artists to “chosen ones” with special powers, these ladies really make an impression with their amazing skills. Here are some of my favorites, who I find fascinating.

#10) Red Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) from Red Sonja: This warrior is not only highly skilled with a sword, but also has an amazing jumping ability. I like to think of Sonja as a pre-Xena kind of warrior woman, even though she is difficult, especially when it comes to winning her heart by defeating her in a fair fight.

#9) Yim Wing Chun (Michelle Yeoh) from Wing Chun: Now here’s a martial artist like no other. She not only has fast reflexes, some of which are highly exaggerated, but also has a comedic wit. Wing Chun makes all of her fight moves look so smooth and easy that not even the toughest bandits can touch her. Her only limit is that she never kills. She only toys with her foes. It’s all part of what makes Wing Chun a big favorite of mine.

#8) Alice (Milla Jovovich) from Resident Evil films: Amazing combat skills and smooth moves are what make her the hottest heroine in the franchise. Whenever faced with ravenous zombies, mutant canines, or other dangerous beasts, Alice will fight it. Alice’s abilities are so extraordinary that Umbrella Corp decided to make many clones of her, which keep getting killed in their deadly obstacle course. It just seems so wasteful.

#7) Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: She was once a high school cheerleader, only to receive the strength and skill of a type of warrior called the slayer. Now Buffy spends much of her spare time battling evil supernatural beings from vampires to demons and sometimes the rebellious slayer Faith with her martial arts and comedic wit. Luckily, Buffy never has to fight alone.

#6) Helen (Gina Torres) from Cleopatra 2525: She leads the trio of freedom fighters and is the only one who can communicate with the anonymous Voice because of the receptor inside her ear. Helen is a courageous fighter, but has a personal grudge against Creegan for murdering her father. Whenever Helen faces Creegan she struggles to stay focused on the task at hand. Luckily, her teammates Sarge and Cleo are always there to watch her back.

#5) Princess Amelia (Amber Benson) from Attack of the Gryphon: She is the princess of Lockland and a noble leader. Whatever the adversary, man or beast, Amelia shows no fear, especially when there’s a task. I admire her devotion, but she hardly ever loosens up. I wonder what Amelia does on her leisure time when she’s not fighting battles, or going on quests to save her kingdom.

#4) Beatrix Kiddo a.k.a. the Bride (Uma Thurman) from Kill Bill: She was a trained assassin specialized with any kind of weapon. When Beatrix decides to give up that lifestyle, she gets hunted down and nearly killed by Bill, her lover and sensei. Although Beatrix’s main focus is revenge, I sure admire her will power. Even against overwhelming odds, she never lets up.

#3) Chun-Li from Street Fighter franchise: Ever since her first appearance on the Street Fighter 2 Super NES video game, Chun-Li has always been a huge favorite in the franchise with her jumping skill, powerful kicking moves, and sex appeal. There have been at least several versions of Chun-Li over the years, but her story is always the same. She didn’t become a street fighter for personal glory. Chun-Li merely wants revenge on Bison for her father’s murder. Here are a few of my favorite movie versions.

Street Fighter: Ming Na plays the role as a reporter covering the war in Shadowloo, but also goes undercover in an attempt to take her revenge.

Street Fighter 2 the Animated Movie: In this Anime film, Chun-Li is an Interpol agent. She has the same grudge against Bison, but always keeps a clear head because she knows that duty comes before personal feelings.

Street Fighter the Legend of Chun-Li: The most recent version played by Kristin Kreuk features more of Chun-Li’s background, including how she learns to use the Hado fireball from later Street Fighter video games.

#2) Xena (Lucy Lawless) from Xena Warrior Princess: She was once a dangerous warlord, but thanks to Hercules she now uses the many skills she developed over the years to become a heroic warrior. Like Hercules, Xena travels around helping others in need while making up for a lifetime of evil. Some of her fighting moves are highly exaggerated, but I admire her strength because even while Xena is vulnerable, she can still kick butt easily.

#1) Charmed Ones from Charmed: If there’s one team of women that deserve to be on top, it’s the Halliwell sisters.

Prue (Shannen Doherty) is the courageous leader. Combined with her telekinetic powers, I definitely see Prue worthy of the title Noble Warrior.

Piper (Holly Marie Combs) has the power to freeze anything in its place. Her powers eventually expand with the ability to blow up enemies. Of course it’s really Piper’s comedic persona, which usually comes from being irritated, that makes her a big favorite.

Phoebe’s (Alyssa Milano) power is only limited to premonitions, but don’t underestimate her. Phoebe’s martial art skills always pack quite a punch in battle.

Then there’s Paige (Rose McGowan), who is half witch and half white lighter. Her telekinetic power is different from Prue’s, but still just as useful in battle. It’s also neat that Paige can orb anywhere at anytime, which gives the Charmed ones more of an edge.

Oct 122012

Legendary monsters have been creatively featured on Anime shows like Soul Eater and XXXholic. Another series that does so is Rosario + Vampire – Season One and Rosario + Vampire: CAPU2 (Season 2) (2008-2009).

Meet Tsukune Aono, a high school teenager who is unable to get into any private school. That all changes when his parents get him enrolled in Yokai Academy, which sounds like a nice place. Little did any of them know it’s actually a school for monsters. Since Tsukune is a human, he’s in quite a bind because if any humans were found on campus, they would be killed instantly.

Todd Haberkorn, who I met at MegaCon 2012, voices the role of Tsukune.

Tsukune really feels out of place, but that soon changes when he meets his first monster friend Moka Akashiya a vampire girl. She is the only one who knows that Tsukune is a human and promises to keep it a secret, despite the fact that Moka loves to drink his blood often. I’m a little surprised that Tsukune hasn’t become a vampire himself after all of those neck bites.

Moka appears to be sweet natured, but also has a dark side that only surfaces when the rosary around her neck is removed. This Moka is like the ultimate battle monster. When other monsters step out of line, Moka fights them off, but never kills. What’s really odd is that Moka cannot remove the rosary herself, only Tsukune can. Yet he never does intently. It always happens by accident.

Colleen Clinkenbeard, who I met at MegaCon 2011, voices Moka’s monsterous side.

As the series progresses, Tsukune finds more new friends at the school. They start out as enemies, but turn out to be good thanks to Tsukune’s positive influence and Moka kicking their butts.

The first is Kurumu Korono a busty succubus, who can fly and has very long nails to scratch at her enemies. Although Kurumu has the power to seduce, she actually has a conscience and a good heart, which is rare among other succubae.

Brina Palencia, who I met at MegaCon 2012, voices the role of Kurumu.

Next came Yukari Sendo a young witch, who is both cute and intelligent. She’s very skilled with her magic wand, but her favorite spell is to drop golden washtubs on people’s heads. It’s just as hilarious as it is useful.

Then there was Mizore Shirayuki a snow girl with the power to freeze anything in ice. She has a deadpan persona and loves to stalk. It’s amazing how Mizore pops in every now and then from the oddest locations so unexpectedly. I wonder how long she has had that lollipop in her mouth, or if it’s even the same one.

Together the five of them are all part of the newspaper club, led by Ginei Morioka, who is a werewolf that loves to take pictures of gorgeous girls, in a perverted manner.

It’s nice that Tsukune’s best friends are all girls. Unfortunately, all four of the girls are madly in love with him. Like Archie Andrews, Tsukune cannot make up his mind about which girl to be involved with. On the other hand, it does seem like Moka is Tsukune’s main squeeze, but is she really?

This was an interesting series that’s both exciting and funny. What also adds to the humor is the talking bat that pops in and out as a narrator. You could always depend on him to provide monster info and mention how fast it takes Moka to win a fight.

Oct 012012

In the year 2020, scientist Dr. Reed Crawley and his students use high tech weaponry to fight against classic monsters that threaten mankind. The students include Tripp Hansen the martial artist, Lance McGruder the weapons specialist, Shelley Frank the psychic, and Luke Talbot the werewolf. Together they are called the Monster Force (1994-1995).

The Monster Force travels all over the world to investigate strange happenings, but unlike most monster hunters, they don’t intend to destroy the various creatures. They keep them in containment to examine and study. However, there are occasions when other people are against the Monster Force’s tactics because they refuse to kill the monsters, but that doesn’t stop them from doing the right thing.

When the Monster Force is ready for action, they activate special armor called E.M.A.C.S., which stands for Energized Monster Containment Suit. It increases their normal abilities and shields them from serious harm. Luke doesn’t use an E.M.A.C. Suit, but can control his wolf power to fight against the monsters… most of the time.

The main monsters the Monster Force go up against are Count Dracula (who prefers to be called Dracule), Ho-Tep the mummy sorcerer, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Dracule’s assistant Renfield is always by his side and has more of a resemblance to Igor, but there is no Igor on this series.

Another major enemy is Bela the werewolf. A long time ago, Bela attacked Luke’s grandfather Lawrence Talbot and he became the Wolf Man. Luke inherited the curse and hopes to end it by slaying Bela, who is more difficult to kill than any other werewolf. One thing is for sure, this personal grudge does not keep Luke from doing what’s right as part of the Monster Force team.

The Frankenstein Monster is also featured, but as an ally to the Monster Force. He is very close with Shelley, but his love is not for her. It’s for the Bride of Frankenstein, who only wants to be left alone by everyone.

This was a good series. Oddly, I still remember it best for its original time slot, which was Saturday mornings at 6:00 AM, and this was back before DVRs were invented. Now I see Monster Force as a close relation to Van Helsing. All the better the reason to look for vampire women on this show.