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Oct 282015
 

Welcome to another Halloween themed top 10 list. This year it’s about my most favorite wicked witches in pop culture. Just to set the record straight, there is a difference between witchcraft and sorcery, although it is hard to tell sometimes. Be sure to check out my Top 10 Wicked Sorceresses list for a comparison. Now here are the witches.

#10) Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) from H.R. Pufnstuf: Witches don’t come any sillier than her. In fact, you can tell just by the sound of her name that Witchiepoo is more funny than creepy. She is intent on capturing young Jimmy and stealing his talking flute Freddie, but never succeeds. It doesn’t help that Witchiepoo has bumbling henchmen and a talking castle that doesn’t believe in her. Of course that’s what makes this witch so interesting and memorable.

#9) The Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus: Known as Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), this trio of witches intends to steal the life force from children for the soul purpose of staying forever young. They tend to bumble through situations while adjusting to the more modern world, since they’re from 300 years in the past, but that’s what makes them hilarious. However, these witches are also dangerous and creepy, so you definitely don’t want to get on their bad sides.

#8) Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) from The Brothers Grimm: This nameless beauty was vain and selfish, then eventually killed by the plague. Now as a vengeful spirit, the Mirror Queen has the power to possess an entire forest and capture young girls in creepy and mysterious ways to steal their youth. Seriously, what is it with old witches wanting to stay young?

#7) Maja from Adventure Time: This sky witch is known for taking various objects that contain sentimental affection for great power. In addition to that, Maja can fly, shoot bolts of electricity from her hands, and has an edgy distorted voice. At least she believes in fair trade, compared to most wicked witches.

#6) Taminella Grinderfall from Muppets franchise: This character was always cast as the wicked witch in some of the old Muppet fairytale specials like Tales of the Tinkerdee and The Frog Prince. Her methods of deceit are often silly and easy to see through, but they always seem to succeed, especially with King Goshposh. Since Taminella was never featured again after her defeat in The Frog Prince, she has definitely become underrated.

#5) Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) from Harry Potter franchise: Among many of Voldemort’s followers, Bellatrix is the most loyal as well as the most psychotic. She takes pleasure in killing anyone who crosses her and has sparked a personal vendetta with Neville Longbottom, since she was the one who tortured his parents. What really makes Bellatrix stand out is her crazy and sadistic persona, which is something any evil master ought to look for in a henchwoman.

#4) Theodora (Mila Kunis) from Oz the Great and Powerful: The Wicked Witch of the West has always been an iconic character. However, it’s the one in this movie version that stands out because it reveals how this wicked witch came to be. It’s so interesting to know that Theodora used to be good, then was driven to become a heartless monster. I’ve never been able to see the Wicked Witch of the West the same way again after that.

#3) Evil Willow (Alyson Hannigan) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow Rosenberg is a witch that has always been a loyal member of Buffy’s Scooby team. In season six, her girlfriend Tara was murdered and that pushed Willow to a breaking point. That drove her to take revenge and nearly destroy the world. It can be tough to see such a good character go bad, but Evil Willow’s edgy presence and determination makes her a witch you wouldn’t want to face in a dark alley.

#2) Queen Jadis (Tilda Swinton) from Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Best referred to as the White Witch, this self-proclaimed queen rules the land of Narnia with an iron fist and turns anyone who crosses her into stone. She won’t hesitate to hurt or kill others and is quick to judge when her servants’ loyalty is compromised.

Jadis has made appearances in the sequels and even the animated version was good. One thing is for certain. The White Witch is as evil as they come.

#1) Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) from The Craft: This troubled teen is the head of her coven and desires great power, so she can use it to get what she wants. Eventually, Nancy lets that go to her head and ends up losing her sanity. As wickedly crazy as she is, I think Nancy is also likable, especially when she smiles. That is why I rank her at the top of this list.

Oct 292014
 

This Halloween I thought I would cover the most famous vampire in pop culture, Count Dracula. There’s no doubt that this vampire is so iconic because there have been so many versions. Whether it’s about his own story, or if he’s part of a group of other monsters, the role of Count Dracula has been played by more actors than any other vampire. Here are the versions I remember best in chronological order, even though most of them are highly obscure.

Dracula (1932): Frankly, who doesn’t remember the original movie with Bela Lagosi as the Count. This may be a classic horror feature, but it’s not one I was hugely into compared to the following films and TV appearances, even though he was the inspiration behind the Count from Sesame Street.

Mad Monster Party (1967): Normally when the classic movie monsters are together, Dracula is the one in charge because he’s the toughest in the bunch. Although he’s quick on the attack, Dracula tends to fumble especially since Frankenstein’s monster is stronger than he is.

Electric Company (1970s): Believe it or not, one of Morgan Freeman’s reoccurring characters was Dracula. He has a mysterious presence that can scare people, but isn’t dangerous. It seems that this Dracula’s favorite pastimes include drinking vanilla malts and taking a bath in a casket.

Ghostbusters (1975): This version of Count Dracula, played by Billy Holms, is very goofy and as a bat he tends to bump into walls. What really stands out are his fangs since they look so fake. Luckily his wife Countess Dracula is with him to keep him in line.

Ghostbusters (1986): Although this version of Count Dracula looks a lot like the Dracula from Groovy Ghoulies, he’s actually a lot tougher than many of the evil spirits the Ghostbusters ever faced. His ambition is to take over Transylvania by taking human slaves with his hypnotic power instead of a bite. He also hates mirrors as well as garlic. A little strange, don’t you think?

Castlevania Games (1987-1991): Dracula has appeared on video games before, but the best known is in the Castlevania franchise as the main villain. Instead of the Van Helsings fighting Dracula, it’s the Belmont family. It goes to show that the Count always returns no matter how many times he’s been defeated.

Captain N: The Game Master (1989): The animated version that’s based on the video games is a warlord trying to take over the world of Castlevania. Though I must admit that the Count has a creepier look.

Monster Force (1994): As the main villain in this series, Dracula prefers to be called Dracule. Even though he has a charming persona, don’t be fooled. Dracule is very powerful with his metamorphosis, hypnotic spells, and other magical abilities, which gives the Prince of Darkness an edge over humans and monsters alike.

Leslie Neilson as Count Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995): I remember when I first heard about this comedy classic. After discovering that Leslie Nielsen was going to star as Dracula, I knew from the start that it was going to be a good one. This Dracula is clumsy and his shadow has a mind of its own, but don’t take him too lightly. He’s powerful in the ways of mind control, sometimes even more than he realizes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2000): Dracula’s only appearance on this show was in the season five episode Buffy vs. Dracula, where Rudolf Martin played the role, but he did leave his mark during his time in Sunnydale. He seduced Buffy, made Xander his Renfield, even Spike remembers Dracula as an old rival before he got famous. This certainly covers a lot of ground on how Dracula stands out from other vampires and it’s hilarious when Buffy slays him… twice.

Van Helsing (2004): Richard Roxborough plays the role in this movie. As the main villain once again, he introduces a new skill that vampires have and that’s the ability to walk up walls and on the ceiling like it was nothing. Though Dracula is both strong and deadly, it’s really his three wives that stand out as big favorites to me.

Hotel Transylvania (2012): Adam Sandler voiced the most recent animated version of Count Dracula. Unlike other Draculas, this one is actually one of the good guys. After losing his wife to a group of angry villagers, Dracula created a hotel resort as a safe haven for monsters. However, he also became an overprotective father and control freak. Dracula is also funny, especially when he tries to tell humans that he never did say, “Bleh, bleh, bleh”.

Apr 082014
 

Even though Eliza Dushku was only at MegaCon 2014 for one day, it was so exciting to have met her. She was so sweet. I put a list together of my favorite characters she played and here they are.

On a side note, it was also a pleasure to meet James Marsters once again.

Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: She first came along in season three as a new slayer that joins Buffy and the gang, but her outlook on slaying is different from how Buffy sees it. Faith is overconfident and doesn’t care about what anyone thinks of her, among other things. This caused friction between the two slayers and eventually they became enemies. Some of my most favorite fight scenes are between Buffy and Faith.

Tru Davies from Tru Calling: She’s a morgue worker with an amazing psychic ability. When a body comes in, it asks for Tru’s help and she has to repeat the day in order to prevent that person from getting killed by solving the mystery behind it. What impresses me the most is Tru’s photographic memory. Just one quick look is all she needs to remember everything.

Missy Pantone from Bring it On: This is one of her few comedic roles. Missy is a spunky teenage gymnast, who joins the cheerleading squad. I like her witty persona and how she makes such a big difference as part of the squad.

Jessie Burlingame from Wrong Turn: As part of a group of young friends in the woods, Jessie is tough, courageous, and knows how to take charge. It really shows when she’s confronted by the cannibals. Too bad Jessie isn’t in any of the sequels.

Dana Tacker from True Lies: She’s the young rebellious teenage daughter of computer salesman/spy Harry Tacker. I admit that I didn’t recognize Eliza Dushku when I first saw this movie, but it’s nice to see her in some of her earlier roles as well as her modern ones.

What are some of your favorites?

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.

Jan 232012
 

As many Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans know, the series lasted for seven seasons and continues in the comic books. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 Motion Comic (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) brings these comics to DVD. Originally, the series left off with all of the potential slayers having equal power to Buffy and Faith. Then after defeating the Hellmouth of Sunnydale, there was a choice for Buffy to either retire or continue fighting evil, which was left unanswered.

The motion comic starts with that answer. Buffy does continue as the slayer with the whole Scooby gang stationed in different parts of the world. Buffy and Xander lead Command Central in Scotland, Andrew is in Southern Italy, Giles is in England, and so on and so forth. Each of them leads a group of slayers as a squad, continuing to fight the good fight against evil supernatural beings.

The fight scenes are still as exciting as ever. Buffy battles demons, vampires, and other dangerous beasts, but now her tactics are different because she runs her attack squad like a military operation. However, the slayer squads are separate from the U.S. Military. So does that make the slayer squads a bunch of vigilantes, or what?

Xander meanwhile, stays at the base in charge of the records and keeps in contact with the squads through computer systems, satellites, and psychics.

The monsters aren’t the only trouble Buffy has to think about. Her sister Dawn has become a giant after dating a guy who turned out to be a demon called a Thrisewise. Willow, who can now fly easily, does what she can to help Dawn out. In the meantime, everyone tries to make the most of this “giant” situation.

Although Buffy and the gang battle new enemies, there are some old characters that return also and not whom I would have expected to return. Deep inside the crater where Sunnydale used to be, there resides Amy the witch and Warren. Willow had skinned Warren completely a while back, but Amy used her magic to keep him alive. Now Amy and Warren both want revenge on Buffy. How the two of them got together is anybody’s guess.

In case you were wondering where Faith was, she’s in Cleveland and still as rebellious as ever. Unfortunately, Faith doesn’t lead a slayer squad like the others. She’s a loner and merely, what she calls, a “go-to girl for dirty deeds done cheap”, and wants out. Giles puts her on a solo mission, which came with yet another squabble with Buffy.

Of course every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an ultimate monster Buffy and the gang must battle to prevent an apocalypse. This time it’s a new villain named Twilight and his legion of unstoppable Japanese vampires, who seek to destroy every slayer on Earth, with the assistance of Warren and Amy.

I enjoyed this motion comic. Buffy and the gang have come a long way over the years and are still going strong, despite that none of the original actors from the series reprise their roles. I wonder if the franchise is still continuing in the comics.