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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.

Nov 162012
 

If there’s one thing that makes a video game exciting, it’s a boss battle at the end of a level. Whether it’s for the creative look of the character, his or her fighting style, or even the musical score, boss fights are always something to look forward to after getting past a whole bunch of other evil minions as long as I can figure out the strategy. Every boss has one. Unless you have a strategy guide, it’s usually only found by trial and error. These are bosses that truly stand out as big favorites of mine from video games I’ve played, not including final bosses.

#10) Doppelganger from Double Dragon 2: The Revenge (NES): Normally, doppelganger bosses are a cliché, but this evil clone of Billy Lee is so mysterious and sneaky, it’s cool. The Doppelganger not only has the same fight moves; he can also turn invisible and attack by clenching onto Billy, rendering him helpless. How many evil clones do you know that can do that?

#9) Two-Face from Batman Forever (Sega Genesis): It may seem like he’s the main boss of the game, but he isn’t. The Riddler is. Two-Face has a perplexing fighting style because it’s different, depending on which direction he’s facing. I don’t believe he ever used swords and bear traps in the movie, but can you believe that Two-Face can actually restore his life meter just by flipping his coin?

On a side note: I’d also like to include Two-Face’s two girlfriends, Sugar and Spice, because I think they’re both interesting fighters even though the movie doesn’t feature them that way.

#8) Master Necky from Donkey Kong Country (Super NES): This giant buzzard can spit coconuts, but what I like most is that he only peeks his head out from either side of the screen. Necky never shows the rest of his body, even when he gets defeated. It’s hilarious when Necky’s head falls to the ground and still makes noise while Donkey Kong cheers for victory. Is that what a buzzard looks like when it has a concussion?

#7) The Wrestler from Simpsons Arcade Game: Dropping in from a set of stage lights, this strong unnamed character is the first boss of the game. Like most of the other bosses, it’s hard to determine how he fits into the story, especially since this character was never on the series. You’ve got to admit though. The Wrestler is a fun boss to fight on a game like this.

#6) Goldar from Power Rangers Super Legends (Playstation 2): Even though it seems like every boss in this game is defeated by the same simple strategy, this classic character is the most awesome one to fight, and I’m not just saying this because he’s old school. Goldar likes to talk during the battle and he doesn’t fly out of reach as often as he does in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers the Movie game for Sega Genesis. Of course, Goldar could’ve come up with something wittier to say than, “Why did the chicken cross the road? To meet his doom.” Dude, that’s lame.

#5) Horsehead from Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (NES): Armed with a mace, he’s the guardian of Parapa Palace. Apparently, Horsehead’s only weak spot is his head, which sounds very simple. However, I never would’ve known that if I hadn’t seen that episode of Captain N: The Game Master called “Quest for the Potion of Power”, where Horsehead made an appearance. Isn’t the animated version cool? What I don’t understand is why Horsehead never returned on any of the later Legend of Zelda games as some of the other bosses in this game have. Wouldn’t it be neat if he did?

#4) Dancing Specters from Super Castlevania 4 (Super NES): Also known as Paula Abghoul and Fred Askare, this pair of dancers are the stars of the haunted ballroom. As they dance away to the awesome boss music, these ghosts use swords and flying blades that keep Simon Belmont from “cutting in”. You won’t see this on Dancing with the Stars.

#3) Phantom of the high school musical from Scooby-Doo First Frights (Playstation 2): With the aid of his skeleton henchmen, this creepy character has an edgy presence. I think it’s neat that the Scooby gang gets to actually fight a monster before unmasking him, but before doing that you have to hear the Phantom sing and take out his henchmen. What really makes him interesting is the mystery involved. So what if he’s just a guy in a suit.

#2) Nano from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Playstation 2): There are several versions of this boss, but I mainly want to focus on the giant monstrosity at the end of stage 2. I always find giant bosses more exciting because of the intensity. Although it took me a little while to figure out how to fight Nano at this point, I totally found this boss battle interesting. Just aim high, robot goes down.

#1) Lobber from House of the Dead Overkill (Nintendo Wii): Of all the different types of monsters I’ve seen in horror themed video games, this is definitely one of the most original creatures I ever saw. Lobber hides out in the fetid waters and attacks by throwing chunks of its body. That’s just nasty, but my only real concern is that you have to fight a bunch of bats also. They’re harder to aim for than the monster itself. Other than that, Lobber is a villain that’s unique as well as creepy.

Apr 202012
 

Primates are intelligent animals that love bananas. But like humans, they can use their superior skills for good or evil. Either way, apes and monkeys do leave their mark as pop culture icons. Here are some of my favorites.

#10) King Kong from King Kong: This gigantic ape has been around for ages with at least several movie versions. He’s well known for being brought from the jungle to New York City, where he runs amok and climbs the tallest building with the woman he loves. After seeing the newest version from 2005, I realized that King Kong is more of a love story than an adventure story. You’ve got to admit though. Kong sure knows how to beat up a T-Rex.

#9) King Homer from The Simpsons: One of the stories on Tree House of Horror III spoofs King Kong with King Homer. King Homer is not only in love with Marge, but he eats people alive, along with Shirley Temple.

King Homer’s only other appearance was on the Super NES title, The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare and was surprisingly easy to defeat with Bartzilla’s electrical body.

#8) Silver from Ninja Turtles the Next Mutation: He’s a gangster Himalayan ape and is the last of his kind. That’s why Silver became so greedy. Whenever there’s an opportunity to steal a ton of money, Silver and his gang of well-dressed crooks will seize it.

#7) Grape Ape from The Great Grape Ape Show: Now here’s an ape I really enjoyed when I was a kid. Grape Ape is strong, gigantic, and kind hearted. However, most people fear him because of his size. At least he has Beagle Beagle as his best friend. I have always wandered how Beagle’s van supports Grape Ape on top so easily.

#6) Primator from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Lord Zedd created this ape monster from a gorilla costume. Primator is a shape shifter, who can turn into anyone of the rangers and imitate any of their voices. His only weakness is mirrors. When Primator sees his reflection, he instantly changes back into himself. If only it were that simple with other shape shifters.

#5) Bogey from Shirt Tales: With his appetite for bananas, tree swinging skills, and Humphrey Bogart persona, this orangutan has always been one of my most favorites among the Shirt Tales. Bogey also has a habit of calling everyone he meets “Sweetheart”, but I’m sure that’s just his way of presenting himself as a friend.

#4) Tracy from Ghostbusters (1986 version): He’s a brave and intelligent ape with great strength. Tracy is also inventive. He created all of the gadgets for the Ghostbusters team and loves to cook, especially with bananas. However, you should never call Tracy a big ape. That makes him lose his temper.

#3) Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls: Of all the villains the Powerpuff Girls face on a regular basis, this primate is their biggest foe, whose grudge is too close to home. Mojo used to be Professor Utonium’s lab assistant until the Powerpuff Girls were created. The Chemical X made him more intelligent, but he felt ignored and unappreciated. Now Mojo is an inventive mad genius, who likes to talk. He’s definitely worthy of the title Super Villain.

#2) Donkey Kong from Donkey Kong franchise: This iconic ape started out as the main villain of a classic arcade game from the early 80s because he had kidnapped Mario’s first girlfriend Pauline.

I also remember Donkey Kong as a giant sized villain from Captain N: The Game Master.

Years later, he becomes a jungle hero that began with the Super NES title Donkey Kong Country, which brings me to…

#1) Diddy Kong from Donkey Kong franchise: He’s Donkey Kong’s junior partner in battle, like Tails is to Sonic the Hedgehog. Diddy may not be as strong as Donkey Kong, but he’s light on his feet and can smoothly cartwheel his way out of trouble.

Diddy later proves to be more of an adventurer when he partners up with Dixie Kong in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. I can’t help but love this little guy.

Oct 312011
 

Happy Halloween, everybody! Vampires and zombies are not the only top monsters of the horror genre. Another classic beast is the werewolf a.k.a. lyconthropes. The curse of the werewolf is easily spread like a zombie virus, courtesy of its sharp claws and teeth. When the full moon is out, the victim becomes a wild beast that’s out of control and allergic to silver. These are my most favorite werewolves.

#10) Scott Howard from Teen Wolf: Scott is an underdog teenager, who comes from a family of werewolves. Sure, the full moon causes his transformation, but it can also be triggered by anger. However, Scott is always cautious about anyone seeing him wolf out in public, even when it can be useful.

On a side note, Michael J. Fox played Scott Howard on the original Teen Wolf movie and Jason Bateman played the role in the sequel, Teen Wolf 2, but it was the cartoon series I remember best.

#9) Velkan (Will Kemp) from Van Helsing: He was a werewolf hunter along with his sister Anna until their latest catch broke free and attacked. Now Velkan is a werewolf that can smoothly crawl up walls, run long distances, and has the strength to kill vampires. The transformation was graphical because both his clothes and skin get ripped up. Now isn’t that just creepy?

#8) Jack de Wolfe (Joey Fatone) from Red Riding Hood: Now here’s a unique werewolf. He’s a shape shifter with a huge appetite for human beings. However, Jack’s transformations are limited to only his eaten victims, but mostly prefers the form of his very first victim.

#7) Ginger (Katherine Isabelle) from Ginger Snaps: She was a gothic teen along with her sister Brigitte. After being attacked by a werewolf she becomes more dangerous, not only as a wolf girl, but also as a girl who is not afraid to take vengeance on her tormentors with deadly results. However, Ginger does fear the extra hair from her scratches and the tail growing from her tailbone. Of course, who wouldn’t be?

#6) Fangface from Fangface: Unlike most werewolves, he is eager, friendly, and heroic, like a superhero. Fangface’s transformations are entirely based on whether he sees the sun or the moon. That can be easily controlled with any pictures of the sun or the moon. The only time Fangface gets out of control is when anyone mentions food, which makes him want to eat his friend Pugsy. Rubbing Fangface’s paw is the only way to calm him down if that were to happen.

#5) Professor Lupin (David Thewlis) from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: During Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts, Lupin was the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. When the moon is out, he becomes a werewolf with the posture of a human and not as hairy compared to other werewolves. This curse prevents Lupin from teaching, but still remains to be a great ally in later Harry Potter films.

#4) Oz (Seth Green) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: As a human, he’s a young bass player and Willow’s love interest. Every night of the full moon, Oz becomes a dangerous werewolf. What’s really touching is that Willow still loves Oz for he is still a good soul. It’s too bad the relationship didn’t last after awhile.

#3) Free from Soul Eater: He’s an immortal wolfman with amazing powers that control ice and snow. However, Free likes to brag and is a bit of a klutz, which makes him hilarious. However, Free is still a very dangerous opponent because he’s a lot tougher than most keshans.

#2) Fangster from Ghostbusters: He’s a futuristic ghost werewolf that’s strong and muscular as he is scary. Like his other ghostly comrades, Fangster can sneak into tight places by materializing into spirit form. However, he never reveals his human form and the closest Fangster has ever come to infecting anyone with the werewolf curse is by turning dogs into savage werewolf slaves with a magical arch built out of bones.

#1) Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) from The Wolfman (2010 version): This was the latest remake based on the old movie monster. Talbot was an American citizen, who was summoned to England to search for his missing brother, only to be attacked by a werewolf and possess the curse. Now he’s a graphical beast that smoothly slashes up innocent people at random with his claws. Even though that movie was slow-paced, it still makes me think of how far this mythical monster has come over the years in both movies and TV shows.

 

Werewolves

Honorable mentions: Believe it or not, werewolves have left their mark on video games also. In the Super NES game Zombies Ate my Neighbors, the werewolves were fierce, but were easily defeated with silverware. Now isn’t that just silly?

The video game I remember best from this category is Werewolf: The Last Warrior for the NES. The hero is a man, who becomes a werewolf by picking up red ‘W’s. (Blue ‘W’s weaken him.) The more wolf he is, the more powerful he becomes in order to fight evil. Here’s an example that I found on YouTube to help set the mood for the werewolf’s howling success.

Oct 282011
 

One type of setting that really sets the mood on Halloween is a haunted house. I’m not referring to the places featured on shows like Ghost Hunters. Sure they’re intense, but not as enjoyable to watch in my opinion. The ones I’m talking about are more up front with added suspense. Here are my top ten favorite haunted houses from movies, TV shows, video games, etc.

#10) Ketchum House from The Amityville Horror (1979 version): This classic house has a demonic curse because it was built on ground that was used for Devil worship and sacrifice many years ago. The house terrorizes anyone who lives there with a series of hauntings, which could be anything from doors and windows slamming, to fly infestation, to even bleeding walls and toilets. The demonic presence is both slow and tricky. Over a span of 20 days the terror occurs in pieces at a time. Even though certain others can easily sense the evil, it’s not enough to convince anyone else about it. Don’t you just hate that?

#9) The Haunted House from Haunted House (Atari and Nintendo Wii): This was one of the first spooky titles for the Atari back in the early 80s. It wasn’t much since the inside is real simple as it is dark and filled with bats, spiders, and ghosts, all four floors of it.

Thirty years later, the Nintendo Wii released a new and improved remake of Haunted House with an actual story line behind it. Siblings Jacob and Silvia Silverspring head to Silver Bay in a mansion to search for objects all around. The basic spooks are the same. However, the thrills and chills are more graphical and intensified, but still at a young level. Light sources are more limited than before and the quest is more difficult to figure out because there’s more to it compared to the Atari version. I must admit though, this modern take on the old standard is brilliant.

#8) Possessed house from Night of the Demons (80s version): Ghosts possess most haunted houses, but this house is more unique because it’s haunted by demons. If you think it’s all the same, think again. The house was once a funeral parlor, but every year on Halloween night, anyone who enters becomes a victim to these demons. Luckily, they can’t cross running water, which explains the underground stream that surrounds the property. The tough part is escaping and/or surviving before sunrise because anything can happen.

#7) Nebbercracker’s house from Monster House: Years ago, this house was possessed by the ghost of Constance the giantess. Now it’s a dangerous monster that lures children over and eats them along with anyone else who comes by. The house is also clever not to draw too much attention while doing so. Of course the real excitement is from what goes on inside the place while the children explore. The video games feature it more than the movie does.

#6) Haunted Mansion from Disney’s Haunted Mansion: Who could forget the old mansion that’s haunted by 999 ghosts? It starts with a gallery of portraits that stretch, a creepy hallway, a séance with Madame Leota, and ghosts of many kinds that are both inside and outside in the private graveyard. Isn’t it strange that these ghosts start out scary, but later on they’re more festive?

#5) Castle Hellsubus from Elvira’s Haunted Hills: It may appear cozy at points, but this place is haunted by a family curse. All who share the Hellsubus family bloodline end up doing murderous things. This castle also has plenty of surprises like a torture chamber in the basement and a giant crack that runs all throughout the floor and walls. Each night as the castle settles, it seems like the crack gets longer. Is it the curse, or just poor workmanship?

#4) Haunted House Party from Crashbox: This was one of my most favorite segments on that show. Inside the house is a fancy cocktail party that can only be viewed from the windows outside. It’s a creative way to learn about historical figures by observing their conversations. Usually it’s with a British butler or a classy lady. Sometimes it makes me wonder who they are, even if it is all shadow puppets.

#3) Professor Windlenot’s Museum of the Strange and Unusual from Shivers (CD-ROM): Even though this isn’t a haunted residence per se, it has plenty of haunts lurking all over. As you explore the museum, it’s not only the evil Ixupi you’ll run into, but the ghosts of their victims as well. At least they’re friendly ghosts and they move on once they’re freed from the Ixupi pots.

#2) Hauntquarters from Ghostbusters (1986 version): This creepy castle is the home of Prime Evil and his ghostly minions, which appears to be isolated in an eerie ghost dimension. The source of its power is Prime Evil’s bone troller organ that he uses to send ghosts to the mortal world on evil missions. As far as the haunting there, I would guess that exploring Hauntquarters would be as dangerous as exploring Snake Mountain, the evil lair of Skeletor.

#1) The Haunted house from A Night in a Haunted House/A Night in a Graveyard: Since this is from a CD, you don’t get to actually see the haunted house beyond what’s on the album cover. However, the tracks contain plenty of exciting stories and sound effects to make it feel like you’re actually there. Narrator Jack Dorsey sure makes it sound like poetry, describing the house and everything inside.