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Nov 092016
 

When it comes to aliens and the horror genre, it’s not often that I would visualize them together but it does happen. One such example is the independent film Extraterrestrial.

This is about college teen April (Brittany Allen) spending a romantic weekend at her mother’s cabin with her boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma). However, April is dismayed when Kyle brings his friends along. They include goofball Seth (Jesse Moss), his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic), and stoner Melanie (Melanie Papalia).

That’s right. It’s a movie about teens in the woods being terrorized by something frightening. This time, an alien spacecraft comes in search of victims to capture and experiment on. The way it was done is much more intense than the common cliché.

At first I thought the aliens were blowing up people after what became of their first victim Nancy McPherson (Emily Perkins) at the beginning of the movie.

Luckily the teens have an ally, Travis (Michael Ironside), who was friends with April’s father. He’s a weed farmer with a military background. It’s amazing what he knows about the aliens.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Murphy (Gil Bellows) investigates the disappearances. Of course he’s skeptical but all the clues he finds always lead to alien attacks.

The aliens only appear in short glimpses throughout the movie, but I can tell that they have a generic look with green skin and bald heads, wearing no clothes. The aliens never talk, so their reasons of invading remain a mystery.
This was a good movie. Sure it contained quite a few clichés of sci-fi horror films but that’s what made it easy to follow, just the way I like it.

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.

Apr 132016
 

As you might recall, the classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers contained Japanese footage within the episodes. But have you ever wondered exactly where that footage came from? It’s from a Sentai series called Super Sentai Zyuranger(1992-1993).

These rangers originally coexisted with the dinosaurs 170 million years ago. Each one was from a different tribe and put in suspended animation until they were awakened to defend Earth. Best part is that there is no identity secrecy. Everyone knows who the Zyurangers are and they befriend the many citizens, especially the kids. They are Geki (Yuta Mochizuki) as the Red Ranger, Goushi (Seiju Umon) as the Black Ranger, Dan (Hideki Fujiwara) as the Blue Ranger, Boi (Takumi Hashimoto) as the Yellow Ranger, and Mei (Reiko Chiba) as the Pink Ranger.

Later on, a sixth Zyuranger joins the team, Burai (Hisashi Sakai) as the Green Ranger. Like the Green Ranger on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, he’s not featured as frequently but for a completely different reason altogether.

The rangers also have zords, but they are featured as the Guardian Beasts and they actually talk. When the five Guardian Beasts combine they become Daizyuzin and Burai’s Guardian Beast is called Dragon Caesar. As interesting as that sounds, I still prefer to call them Megazord and Dragonzord. The same goes for King Brachion as Titanus the Ultrazord.

Instead of Zordon and Alpha 5, the Zyurangers’ wise mentor is a wizard named Barza (Jun Tatara) and he lives in an underground temple instead of a command center.

The villains have the same exact look to the ones on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. However, they are very different in comparison. Not just their names, but their personalities too. Let’s start with the leader who is the witch Bandora (Machiko Soga). If you thought Rita Repulsa was evil, Bandora is much worse. She hates children and often targets them as a way to conquer Earth, sometimes in a brutal manner. Now that’s just low. On the bright side, she is funny when defeated much like Rita.

Bandora’s group also consists of strong warriors Grifforzar and Lamy (Ami Kawai) who are actually husband and wife. That was certainly a surprise since Goldar and Scorpina were never a couple.

And let’s not forget the comedic Topat (Baboo) and Bookback (Squatt) who can take human form. As well as Pleprechaun (Finster) the unusual artist, who created the Golems (Putty Patrollers) and the various Dora Monsters.

Speaking of which, the names are very different but the monster is easy to recognize like Dora Goblin (Gnarly Gnome), Dora Sphinx (King Sphinx), Dora Ninja (Dark Warrior), Dora Cockatrice (Chunky Chicken), Dora Laygor (Madam Woe), and so on and so forth. Personally I prefer to identify the monsters by their names on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

I’ll tell you, I really enjoyed this Sentai series. If you think it’s like Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it isn’t. Super Sentai Zyuranger is edgier and definitely not a kid show. It sure is nice to compare the two shows, especially if you’re a Power Rangers fan.

One last note: There are other Super Sentai shows that follow a similar premise. One I would also recommend is Gosei Sentai Dairanger, which contains footage of the Thunderzords, the White Ranger, and monsters from season two of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Aug 262015
 

Once in a while I like to blog about pop culture that was before my time, but I still find enjoyable. Now I have reached a whole new area of old when I saw the silent French movie A Trip to the Moon on Netflix.

It’s about a group of astronomers dressed as wizards who travel to the moon on a scientific expedition. Leading the group is Professor Barbenfouillis and the group travels in a small capsule powered by a huge cannon with the assistance of some young women in sailor outfits.

Even though the astronomers made it to the moon safely, what puzzles me is that they don’t even need spacesuits to survive on the moon surface, let alone the trip itself. Of course this movie was made back in the early 1900s, years before astronauts traveled to the moon for real. So the physics were unclear at the time.

It’s so amusing when the astronomers keep falling into each other. That kind of fast paced slapstick is what many silent movies were known for and I love it. It never gets old. Of course, my most favorite silent film is and will always be the Mel Brooks movie, Silent Movie.

Here’s something else unusual. The moon is actually inhabited by aliens called Selenites. They’re fearsome, but easily explode with only one hit from an umbrella. Of all the aliens I’ve seen in movies and TV, I have never seen any as weak as the Selenites. Heck, even their leader was a total wimp.

The real icing on the cake is when the astronomers escape back to Earth the professor doesn’t actually get into the space capsule. You’d think he’d burn up on reentry, but he survived just fine.

As much as it boggled my mind, A Trip to the Moon was a good short film. Of course all movies were short back in that era, but it’s a good way to compare how movies were back then compared to what we have now. Also, film credits didn’t exist back then, so the cast and crew were always anonymous. No way that would ever happen today.

One last item: There was also a colorized version of this movie that had the narrative dialogue and musical score replaced with modern instrumental music, which sets a more current tone to an old classic. That sure got me interested.

May 212014
 

In the Sci-Fi Channel original movie Alien Apocalypse, aliens invaded Earth and captured and enslaved the human race. Four astronauts return from a 40-year space mission to find that civilization had completely changed, only to end up captured by human bounty hunters that work for the aliens.

alienapocalypse

Two of the astronauts get killed quickly, so that only leaves Dr. Ivan Hood (Bruce Campbell) and Lt. Kelly Lanaman (Renee O’Connor). They work together to escape, but any slaves who try to escape and get caught end up losing a finger and the aliens eat them. Talk about finger food.

I don’t understand why the slaves have to wear masks while being forced to work. I guess the aliens don’t like to hear any complaining?

Ivan soon manages to kill one of the aliens with a drill bit, which proves that they can die as easily as any human. However, the aliens don’t go down easily, especially when they use their powerful mini tank, which is like a clown car. How many aliens do you think could’ve fit in there?

Bruce Campbell and me

I met Bruce Campbell at Spooky Empire MAY-HEM 2011.

Ivan and Kelly try to inspire hope and freedom to the other slaves, but the only one who goes along with it is Alex (Remington Franklin). Ivan and Alex manage to get away, but Kelly gets recaptured. That’s too bad. I would have liked to see more of her.

After that Ivan and Alex go in search of President Demsky (Peter Jason), who is rumored to have a fighting force ready to fight for freedom. As they travel, they find other escaped slaves to join them. Ivan mends their wounds and cracks their backs. Well, that’s one way to make friends.

Ivan likes to think of himself as the great healer, which is very inspiring to the others because no one seems to know what a doctor is. It’s strange that they don’t even understand a handshake.

This is a good film that really shows that freedom is worth fighting for. I’ve also got to admit, Ivan sure loves that potato liquor.