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Feb 152017
 

If you thought you’ve seen every version of The Wizard of Oz, think again. The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz takes a sci-fi turn on the old classic.

Due to a natural occurrence that happens once every 1000 years, noble Dorothy and her dog Toto get swept into a black hole, which takes them to Oz in another galaxy. It’s also neat that Dorothy’s home planet is called New Kansas.

Instead of ruby slippers, Dorothy wears a balloon suit, which is a special kind of safety suit. Secondly, her Aunt Em gave it to her, not the Good Witch of the North. Come to think of it, the Good Witch of the North doesn’t even appear in this version.

Image result for the wonderful galaxy of oz Gloomhilda

Apparently, representing the Tin Man is a robot named Chopper, who works for Dorothy’s family. He goes along to Oz as well. I can’t help but think that his mannerisms remind me of C-3PO from Star Wars.

Upon arrival, Dorothy and Chopper meet their other allies. First is Plantman, who represents the Scarecrow. He has a laid back persona, but can sometimes come off insensitive. Of course that’s all thanks to him not having a brain, so he doesn’t really know any better.

Next is the Cowardly Lion. It turns out that there’s a whole tribe of lions, who are all equally cowardly. The only one who sticks around is their leader Lionman. It’s funny how all of the lions run off all at once. Some of them even shouted, “Run away!”

They all soon make it to the Wizard of Oz, who is actually a scientist named Dr. Oz. (No, not the Dr. Oz with the medical talk show.) Before meeting him, it’s revealed that he has a son, Mosey. You might assume that the story ends here but it doesn’t. The real adventure is only beginning.

As for villains, the main enemy is the evil witch Gloomhilda. At first I thought she represented the Wicked Witch of the West. It turns out that Gloomhilda is her daughter that’s just taking orders.

The actual Wicked Witch of the West is a very creepy entity with a sinister persona. She wears a red cloak to hide her face, which certainly makes her the creepiest version of the witch I have ever seen.

This was an interesting movie version of The Wizard of Oz. It was real adventurous as well as humorous. What stands out most with the humor is Gloomhilda’s General Sludge. He’s not only goofy. Sludge sounds real similar to Pee-Wee Herman. You got to love it.

Feb 082017
 

I’ve seen some movies about giant monstrous spiders and the most memorable one to me was Eight Legged Freaks, but that soon changed when I saw Big Ass Spider!. This is about a giant spider, which was an experiment gone wrong, that’s on the loose. It starts small, but only gets bigger, not to mention stronger and faster.

The movie starts with exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Gunberg) waking up on the ground in the middle of an intense battle against the giant spider. Then suddenly, it cuts to an earlier time. It’s so hard to follow a movie when it does that, especially when I see it for the first time.

As the story goes, Alex gets bitten by a spider and treated at the hospital. Suddenly, a mysterious spider comes out of a dead body and starts attacking people. Now this spider is bigger than any other and is smart enough to unzip zippers, open sewer grates, and snatch rolling quarters with ease. That’s definitely out of the ordinary.

Alex offers his services as an exterminator with the help of security guard Jose Ramos (Lombordo Boyar). He is such a comedic character and is very helpful in his own way.

Then suddenly the military is involved. Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) intends to hunt down this spider before anyone, Major Tanner doesn’t take him seriously.

Of course that doesn’t stop Alex and Jose. They track the spider themselves as the army does the same. As the spider continues to grow while loose in the city, it catches and eats people really fast. It was creepy enough when the spider attacked in its small size.

Also assisting Major Tanner is Lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer). Alex likes her, even though she can come off cold. Eventually Karly does warm up to him, but she’s a soldier first.

I met Clare Kramer at Mini MegaCon 2009 and still remember how sweet she was.

It’s interesting that Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo. I thought he looked familiar.

This was a good movie with plenty of Sci-fi action and humor. As creepy as this spider was, I have to say that the scariest movie spider would be the one on Arachnophobia. It may be a lot smaller, but still very deadly.

Feb 012017
 

Based on yet another Edgar Allan Poe poem, The Haunted Palace takes place in the town of Arkham in the 1700s. The townspeople accuse Joseph Curwen (Vincent Price) of being a warlock and burn him at the stake, but Curwen vowed revenge by coming back for the descendants of the people who killed him. Why must vengeful spirits always attack young people just because they share a bloodline?

One hundred and ten years later, Curwen’s great great grandson Charles Dexter Ward (Vincent Price) and his wife Anne (Debra Paget) inherit the palace Curwen lived in, completely unaware of the curse the town of Arkham has had since Curwen died. The townsfolk are unfriendly, except for Dr. Willet (Frank Maxwell) who shows them the way to the palace that looks real nice in the distance.

When Charles and Anne arrive, they explore the desolate palace. It has such a creepy ambiance that’s interesting and the portrait of Curwen adds a nice touch to the place. When Charles sees it he gets spooked and describes the palace as a mausoleum, as a joke of course.

Eventually, Charles and Anne meet Simon (Lon Chaney Jr.) the caretaker. He just happened to be preparing the palace for their arrival. Simon must not have gotten much done since the palace is still filed with cobwebs and a snake living in the oven. It’s also strange that Simon didn’t even greet them at the door, which was locked shut.

The next day, Charles and Anne discover that the townspeople are strangely becoming deformed. Mostly it’s their eyes disappearing, which is real horrific.

As more time goes by, Charles becomes more affected by the portrait of Curwen and later discovers that Curwen really was a warlock. Soon Curwen returns and takes control of Charles’s body, despite his resistance. As for Anne, she is unaware of the possession, but is suspicious about the changes.

It’s also revealed that Simon is involved with Curwen’s return as well as a guy named Jabez Hutchinson (Milton Parsons) who seemed to have popped out of nowhere.

Curwen also had a black magic book called the Necronomicon. Unlike the one from The Evil Dead franchise, this book was used to summon dark creatures so they would mate with mortal women to create a race of super humans. Now he plans to use it once again.

Curwen also takes revenge by killing the descendants of the people that burned him by burning them to death. Then he intends to bring his old lover Hester (Cathie Merchant) back from the dead. He succeeds but Hester doesn’t really talk much.

This is a good horror feature with mystery and suspense. Though I must admit that it doesn’t stand out as much as some of Vincent Price’s other Edgar Allan Poe based movies, but the whole idea of a haunted palace still keeps it interesting nonetheless.

Jan 252017
 

It’s been a while since the Fatal Fury franchise had a movie. Years after the Anime feature was the live action movie The King of Fighters, which is about top martial artists competing in a tournament that takes place in another dimension.

One of these fighters is CIA operate Mai Shiranui (Maggie Q). She has some of the most amazing moves. In addition to that, when a fighter enters the other dimension, his/her clothes change like how they’re dressed in the video games. Though I must point out that Mai’s outfit is not as skimpy as it usually is.

They can also use projectiles like in the video games. Unlike other live action video game based movies, this one uses them pretty regularly.

It turns out that the King of Fighters tournament is made possible with three relics: The Kagura Mirror, the Yagami Necklace, and the Kusanagi Sword. And the tournament is hosted by Chizuru Kagura (Francoise Yip, who I remember best as Nancy the gorgeous biker girl from Rumble in the Bronx).

 

The mysterious and power hungry Rugal Bernstein (Ray Park) steals the relics and uses them to enter the other dimension in order to awaken a creepy entity called Orochi and gain unlimited power. Rugal is a tough villain, but what is the deal with his eye? It’s very distracting with no explanation behind it.

Chizuru is intent on stopping Rugal, so she tasks Mai. Helping Mai is fellow participant Iori Yagami (Will Yun Lee). It’s not mentioned, but he appears to be Mai’s boyfriend.

Mai also seeks help from Kyo Kusanagi (Sean Faris), who is the son of former participant Saisyu Kusanagi (Hiro Kanagawa). Kyo is against it at first because he doesn’t believe that the other dimension even exists. Kyo does join once he finds out that Rugal is involved, since he has a personal vendetta with him.

Another big skeptic helping out is CIA agent Terry Bogard (David Leitch). I didn’t recognize Terry at first because he wore a suit and tie most the time. Then I remembered who Terry was once he entered the dimension wearing that sleeveless red jacket. Terry even finds a red hat that says “Fatal Fury” on it. Isn’t that interesting.

It turns out that Rugal is summoning every fighter in the tournament to the other dimension and killing them. There were exceptions, though. Attractive participants Mature (Monique Ganderton) and Vice (Bernice Lu) end up as Rugal’s servants. All he had to do was kiss them on the lips. This guy sure is persuasive.

This was certainly a great movie with cool martial arts action and awesome music to go with it. Since the Fatal Fury franchise is making quite a comeback, I should start catching up on those video games.

Jan 182017
 

Sesame Street has yet another musical feature. Sesame Street: Sing, Hoot and Howl With The Sesame Street Animals focuses on songs about different animals with Big Bird as the host. Many animals come to a barn house called the Sing, Hoot, and Howl Club and request animal songs. Even though a wolf, who looks a lot like Jackman Wolf from Sesame Street Rock and Roll, plays piano the songs are all featured in segments.

These segments are from Sesame Street Old School, though most of them use live footage to coincide with the song, like Hardworking Dog and Stardust. These kinds of segments used to be hard for me to follow because they tend to run long. Looking back now, these segments are pretty good. One thing’s for sure. You will never find clips like this on Sesame Street today.

Still I prefer the songs that were performed by Sesame Street characters. Some of those include Proud to be a Cow by Gladys the cow, Cluck Around the Clock by Chrissy and the Alphabeats, and Baa Baa Bamba performed by Luis (Emilio Delgado) and some animals.

The subplot is mostly about the lion trying to request a song, but keeps getting interrupted by other animals giving their requests, especially Gladys the cow. Eventually, the lion gets his request but had to use his loud roar to scare everyone to make it happen.

One song that was really beautiful was We are All Earthlings, performed by a group of animals. Elmo also sings with the group with an unknown character that sounds much like Gobo Fraggle.

This was a good feature with another creative theme. I guess it goes to show that animals love music as much as people do.