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Jul 052013
 

We all remember the tale of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. Well, nobody tells it better than Tim Burton with the movie Sleepy Hollow. Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane, but in this film he’s not a schoolmaster, he’s a constable. How’s that for an edge?

Crane is more intent on using scientific methods and examinations to solve crimes instead of medieval torture devices. So he gets sent to the town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate mysterious murders, which were all caused by decapitation.

Crane asks about suspects, but he’s told that the killer is the Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken), a Hessian mercenary who never speaks but has teeth as sharp as his sword. The Horseman gets killed, but has risen again. Crane doesn’t believe that old story though.

The Horseman strikes again and slices off another victim’s head with one slice of his sword like a hot knife through butter. I must admit, that Horseman would make a great executioner for the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, since they both have a thing for head slicing.

Crane now believes in the Horseman when he comes face to face with him. Since the Horseman never kills Crane, he realizes that none of the Horseman’s victims are random. So Crane tries to figure out the connection. But first, with the help of his new assistant Young Masbath (Marc Pickering), Crane investigates the source, which is the Horseman’s grave, but when they arrive they find something more. The Tree of the Dead, where the Horseman was buried, is a gateway between two worlds. The tree also bleeds, so Crane chops into it with a small axe. With each chop, the tree spits out blood all over him. Somebody get this guy a wet nap.

Within the tree are all of the heads the Horseman took. In the grave, the Horseman’s skull is missing. Whoever took it must’ve also brought the killer back. The Horseman is still only a mercenary, even in death.

After the Horseman kills yet again, Brom (Casper Van Dien) tries to fight him. The Horseman does defend himself, but walks away in annoyance as if he was saying, “Leave me alone. I’m busy.” Crane had tried to warn Brom, but he didn’t listen and got killed. Then the Horseman is all, “Finally. Now I can get out of here.”

Soon the pieces all come together, which is based on inheriting a fortune and eliminating all of the other possible heirs. Everyone involved was a target for the Horseman. However, Crane ends up suspecting his love interest Katrina (Christina Ricci) because she can cast spells. But is Katrina really the mastermind behind it all?

This was a good horror mystery movie. Having Ichabod Crane as an investigator works a whole lot better than as a schoolmaster who was possibly killed by the Headless Horseman.

Feb 152013
 

I remember the original version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory from when I was a kid. The Tim Burton remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was different and very well made. Johnny Depp stars as top candy maker Willy Wonka, who is highly chipper and a bit loony. It’s like he struggles to grow up. He can’t even say “parents” without choking on his words.

Mr. Wonka invites five children, who have won golden tickets to his large but reclusive factory for a tour and a special prize for one of them. The search for those golden tickets was like a feeding frenzy. Everybody wants to get into that place.

The winners are Augustus Gloop (Phillip Wiegratz) a greedy glutton, Veruca Salt (Julia Winter) a spoiled brat, Violet Beauregarde (AnnaSophia Robb) a gum chewing overachiever, Mike Teevee (Jordan Fry) a total sociopath, and Charlie Buckett (Freddie Highmore) who is a very good kid. The children are so much younger in this movie version, which makes more sense than before.

There are many Oompa Loompas throughout the fantasy filled factory all played by one actor, Deep Roy. The Oompa Loompas never speak, they only lip-synch voiceovers or sing as each child gets into trouble during the tour. The songs are pretty catchy. I’ll give you that.

One by one the children disappear from the tour group. If you’ve seen the original movie version, you’d already know the order. The first to go is Augustus. At the chocolate waterfall, he makes a pig of himself and falls into the river. Then the pipes suck him in towards the fudge room.

Then after an exciting boat ride and flashback into Mr. Wonka’s childhood, the tour group arrives in the invention room. Once there, Mr. Wonka shows them a stick of gum that’s a three-piece dinner. Violet tries the gum, but swells up into a giant blueberry. That was a neat effect how she turned blue, then growing so big and plump.

Next up is the nut sorting room, where a bunch of trained squirrels crack the nuts to be used in the candy. Veruca tries to capture one. Then all of the squirrels attack her and send her down the garbage shoot along with her dad. Those squrriels sure showed them whose boss.

After that, Mike gets himself shrunk in the TV room. It’s a little surprising that Mr. Wonka isn’t really worried about any of them possibly meeting a dreadful fate.

Anyhow, Charlie becomes the winner of a special prize. He certainly deserves it, but there’s a catch. Why must there always be a catch to these things? As far as what happened to the other kids after their “accidents”, they all did survive. I’m glad we actually get to see them at this point. It makes you wonder what will happen when they grow into adults.

This was an excellent remake of the original classic. I am a little surprised that Gene Wilder or any of the other original cast members from the old version didn’t at least make a cameo.

May 202011
 

“Aarrgh!” With the premiere of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, I decided to post a list of my top ten favorite pirates in pop culture, who have all left their marks as top plunderers of the sea.

#10) Pirate Ghosts from Garfield’s Halloween Adventure: Very little is known about these characters, only that they buried their treasure inside a house and vowed to return in 100 years to retrieve it. The pirates did come for the treasure and chase Garfield and Odie because they witnessed it. Those pirates were never seen or heard from again after that.

#9) Divatox (Hilary Shepard Turner) from Power Rangers Turbo: This female pirate and her crew come from outer space to raid riches and reign terror on the galaxy. Divatox’s pirate ship is actually a submarine with torpedoes that are used to make her henchmonsters giant-sized, which is a signature tactic with every Power Rangers arch villain. Divatox is highly emotional. Whatever the outcome of her evil plans, she gets very angry, very joyful, or very smug. Divatox never fights her own battles, but she has her ways.

#8) Black Jackson the pirate (Glenda Jackson) from The Muppet Show: In season five when Glenda Jackson made a guest appearance, she somehow becomes a pirate captain who takes over the theater. With the help of her pirate crew, Black Jackson turns it into a ship and they search for buried treasure. While out at sea, Black Jackson and her crew also like to sing and dance, even while battling with cannons.

#7) Long John Silver (Tim Curry) from Muppet Treasure Island: He was a ship cook, who befriends Jim Hawkins throughout the voyage to Treasure Island, only to find out that he is a dangerous pirate. Yet, Long John has a soft spot for young Jim, which makes him a pirate with honor.

#6) Captain James Hook from Peter Pan: There are quite a few versions of this pirate that I remember well. On Disney’s Peter Pan, Hook is as suave as he is wicked. What really stands out is his fear of the crocodile that loves the taste of him after Peter Pan fed Hook’s hand to it. Hook really freaks out whenever that crocodile arrives for a handout. In the sequel Return to Neverland, an octopus craves him. What is Hook flavored with, that sea creatures love so much?

Then in Peter Pan and the Pirates, I thought Tim Curry did a great job voicing the role of Peter Pan’s arch foe. This is also the only version of Hook who would use Shakespearean references to express his emotions.

Shortly afterward came Dustin Hoffman’s version on Hook, who is more merciless than ever. He kidnaps Peter Pan’s children for his own and he actually kills those who oppose him. How low can a pirate get?

And lastly on Shrek the Third, Hook is a piano player at a tavern called The Poison Apple. He has a pirate crew, but they prefer to attack on land instead of the sea, equipped with cannons and a piano that the captain plays while the crew fights.

#5) Captain Bones from Crashbox: Normally pirate captains, even dead ones, would have a crew but this one is a loner on a ship that’s been marooned for a long time. Captain Bones doesn’t haunt the ship. He merely tries to occupy his time by making math puzzles out of his own bones. As Captain Bones presents them, he insults those who can’t figure them out. Now there’s a pirate who has to pull himself together frequently.

#4) Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3: The name “Davy Jones” is often mentioned among pirates and sailors alike as a term for drowning at sea. In this franchise, Davy Jones is a cursed pirate captain that’s half-man and half-squid. He’s a soul collector, who likes to play the organ with the tentacles on his face. Now I understand the term better, which includes Davy Jones’s locker. Pirates don’t come any creepier than this character.

#3) Long John Scarechrome from Ghostbusters (1986 version): This pirate ghost is known as the sailor of the seven galaxies. Unlike other pirates, Long John is crafty with his high-tech weapons in his walking stick and steel leg. Even his ghost ship has satellites on the sails, laser cannons, and rockets to travel through space. It makes you wonder what kind of pirate Long John was when he was alive.

#2) Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from Pirates of the Caribbean: Here’s a pirate who is like no other. He is both roguish and charming, despite that the ladies keep slapping him. Jack pillages and plunders, but he also has honor and a sense of humor. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which side he’s on, but you gotta love this guy.

#1) Morgan Adams (Geena Davis) from Cutthroat Island: This resourceful pirate is my most favorite. She is highly skilled and knows how to take charge, like a warrior woman. Morgan is also witty, even in a dangerous situation. She has killed many pirates in battle, but Morgan is tougher than most and fights with honor. It would’ve been nice to see this classic heroine on some of her other adventures, as great as she is.

Freddy Kruger Horror Icon

 80's Films, Horror Films  Comments Off on Freddy Kruger Horror Icon
Oct 132010
 

One of the top horror movie monsters is Freddy Kruger from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, which was made famous by Robert Englund. Freddy’s story is simple. He was a child killer and the townspeople execute him out of vigilante justice. Freddy seeks revenge from beyond the grave by terrorizing their children from within their dreams.

You might find this hard to believe, but I first heard about the franchise from the Nightmare on Elm Street video game for the NES. The hero(s) is an unknown teen, who goes through various levels to gather Freddy’s bones and fight numerous enemies that resemble Freddy with only his fists. That left just a tiny bit of a Power Ranger factor there, which I found interesting.

To become more familiar with the Nightmare on Elm Street films, I decided to start with Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors because it left me under the impression that it was the most accurate to the video game. Unfortunately, I was wrong. That sequel wasn’t bad, but it totally ran short of my expectations, with the possible exception of the young teen who dreams himself as the Wizard Master.

It wasn’t until recently when I saw the original A Nightmare on Elm Street movie for the very first time. Hey, I didn’t know this was Johnny Depp’s first movie.

It starts out with a group of teens having nightmares for no apparent reason, which also affects them in reality, emotionally and physically. Tina (Amanda Wyss) is the first to be attacked. The next morning she tells her friends Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), Glen (Johnny Depp), and Rod (Nick Corri). They tell Tina that they each had nightmares also, which were highly similar, but no one knows why or who the attacker is.

I met both Heather Langenkamp and Amanda Wyss at Spooky Empire 2010. Heather was very sweet and I remembered her best as Marie Lubbock from the 80s sitcom Just the Ten of Us. Heather was a bit surprised that anyone remembers that show and said that it was a favorite of hers because it was so dear to her heart.

Amanda Wyss was also very sweet and was making sure that I was having a good time, which I was.

At first, the four teens think the nightmares are nothing. Then the nightmares continue and Tina gets killed. Unfortunately, Rod gets blamed and arrested for it. To make matters worse, Nancy is too scared to sleep for she could be next. Staying awake is the only sure way to stay safe, but Nancy’s parents don’t believe her and insist that she should sleep. Now isn’t that frustrating? It’s like they just don’t get it, no matter what.

Nancy’s nightmares continue to get worse and her mother takes her to Dr. King (Charles Fleischer, who is the voice of Roger Rabbit) to monitor her dreams. The machinery goes haywire, but Nancy makes a breakthrough by snatching Freddy’s hat and waking up with it. It wasn’t until that point when Freddy Kruger is finally revealed as the killer. Yet Nancy’s mom, Marge (Ronee Blakley), still insists that Nancy should be sleeping, even after Freddy’s other attacks.

I met Charles Fleischer at FX Convention 2008.

Nancy is a fighter in this movie, but not like in the video game. However, I did notice a few similarities with the locations. Some of the levels included houses, the junkyard, the cemetery, and the high school. It would’ve made more sense if Nancy had been the hero in the video game instead of an unknown teen(s).

What is it with these monsters peeping on young ladies in the bathtub?

I must admit that Freddy is creative with his attacks because in the dream world, the possibilities are endless. That’s how he appears so sneaky. Freddy could be hiding anywhere, and I do mean anywhere. It’s still difficult to understand how he gets into other people’s psyches so easily.

Nightmare on Elm Street turned out to be a really good film. It had quite a few sequels, including Freddy vs. Jason. Freddy is like Dracula. He gets defeated, but keeps coming back.

Apr 032010
 

I know this movie is still out in theaters, but I couldn’t wait to talk about it after seeing it for the first time. As you can see in this Cosplay photo from MegaCon 2010, Alice in Wonderland was definitely a movie to look forward to.

At Mini MegaCon 2009, I met Alice’s (Mia Wasikowska) stunt double Tarah Paige and she was sweet. I remember Tarah most from Stick It as young gymnast Tricia Skilken. Tarah also mentioned that she was a Decepticon from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Single-Disc Edition). My sister and I each got an autograph from her also.

 

Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland was different compared to other versions. Alice is a young woman from London, who is being forced into an arranged marriage. She also had strange dreams of being in Wonderland when she was a child. Now Alice goes there for real and is destined to slay the Jabberwocky, who works for the wicked Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter).

Other interesting characters include Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. After seeing him as other artsy characters like Sweeny Todd and Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, it was obvious that he was perfect for this role. I also like his eyes, they were cool looking.

There’s also the Cheshire Cat who can appear and disappear with a neat effect, like the disappearing demons on Charmed and a tiny Dormouse, who has the sword skills of Reppicheep from Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. However, she can be a bit arrogant sometimes. Like when she confronts Alice and gladly stabs her in the foot. Please, Dormouse. Save it for the battlefield, will ya.

Last, but not least, there’s Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. She is the sister of the Red Queen, but a polar opposite.  Anne Hathaway has played princess roles before, which I have enjoyed. I admit, this character doesn’t stand out as much, but it’s still a good one.

The effects in this movie are amazing. I didn’t recognize the playing card soldiers at first because of the strange armor they wear, but after seeing a few close ups of the numbers and symbols on their shoulders, I could tell what they were more easily.

When the huge battle between the Red Queen’s soldiers and the White Queen’s soldiers took place it was set up on a chessboard. It started out a little misleading as if it was going to be like a chess game, but then it became a more exciting battle much in the style of the huge battle scene on Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. It’s incredible!

This was a great film. However, the parts with Alice in the “real” world ran a bit long. Once Alice was in Wonderland, it was one great adventure of comedy and excitement.