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Jul 152015
 

There are many different villains in pop culture. Some live on to become as iconic as the heroes who fight them while others, not so much. So I put together a list of old villains from movies and TV shows that seem underrated, but still stand out as favorites of mine.

#10) Mouser from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show: Originally featured as a bomb-throwing boss from the Super Mario Bros. 2 NES game, this talking mouse often serves as King Bowser Koopa’s right hand man. Mouser is a stooge but a worthy adversary. However, he hasn’t been featured in the Super Mario Bros. franchise for a long time, among other old characters that seemed to have disappeared off the radar. I wonder why that is.

#9) The Witches from the Volcano of Gloom from My Little Pony (1986 version): They are known as Hydia and her two daughters Reeka and Draggle and come from a long line of evildoers. This trio, along with their giant spider monster Ahgg, is intent on turning the world dark, dank, and dreary and the little ponies are the only ones standing in their way. The witches were the main villains on My Little Pony the Movie (1986) and the ten-part episode The End of Flutter Valley. After that, the witches never returned. It would’ve been nice if they did but this series was not known for its consistency when it comes to villains.

#8) Hurricane Harry from Cool McCool: It does seem that the villains on this show are very similar to the ones in the Batman franchise. That’s mainly because the series was co-created by Bob Kane, the original creator of Batman. However, Hurricane Harry stands out the most. His lungs are so powerful that a single deep breath can easily affect the world’s weather. The most impressive example is when Harry shows his ability to inhale the power of the sun and spit fire like a dragon. It’s unknown how Harry acquired this power to begin with, but it is enough to overlook his lisp.

#7) Jean- Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) from The Fifth Element: Gary Oldman has had quite a few villainous roles before. Unfortunately, this was not labeled among his best. Zorg is an industrialist who believes that preserving life comes from destruction and chaos. He may come off as a lame villain at times, but don’t underestimate him. Zorg is ruthless and never likes to be disappointed by anyone. When that happens he won’t hesitate to blow you up.

#6) Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Batman & Robin: I know this sounds strange since Mr. Freeze is a popular Batman villain. However, this particular version is often frowned upon due to the fact that this movie was constantly mentioned as a box office flop, based on many reviews. Sure his dialogue mostly consists of ice puns but Mr. Freeze is highly skilled. He can move around smoothly in that extremely heavy suit and his freeze gun is amazing. It can encase people and objects within ice in only a matter of seconds. The special effects really blew my mind, especially when compared to the effects used in this movie’s predecessor Batman Forever. Seriously, how can you not find this interesting?

#5) Velasca (Melinda Clarke) from Xena: Warrior Princess: This amazon warrior from season 2 was the adopted daughter of Queen Melosa and intended to be queen of the Amazons. When Gabrielle was selected as heir, Velasca became incredibly jealous. Soon after, she ate ambrosia and became a goddess completely intent on killing Gabrielle. Velasca was eventually plunged into a lava pit along with Callisto, leaving the possibility that they would both return. Although Callisto did return in the third season, Velasca didn’t. There were plenty of opportunities to bring Velasca back throughout the series run but it never happened. Any ideas why?

#4) Beastur from My Pet Monster: He’s the evil master of Monster Land and always pops into the real world in his many attempts to bring Monster back with him. The confrontations are always big chases, but I always liked how Beastur keeps getting sent back to Monster Land when he’s defeated. He does have his hilarious moments too and that’s what makes Beastur so memorable.

#3) Tweeg from The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: It’s no surprise that this troll grunge makes this list. Although Tweeg’s biggest evil trait is his greed, many of his evil plots are focused on trying to meet the standards of MAVO (The Monsters and Villains Organization) as well as his troll mother Eleanor. Tweeg is sneaky and cunning, but even with a group of bounders serving him Tweeg always seems to fall short. He can’t even hit anything with a cannonball. Sometimes you just can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.

#2) Prince Gasket and Archerina from Power Rangers Zeo: The oldest son of King Mondo had fallen in love with the daughter of King Aragon (not featured in the series). Since their families were at war with one another, the two of them eloped. That scenario is much like in Romeo & Juliet, except that Gasket and Archerina mostly lived in hiding from their fathers. These two are both skilled fighters intent on conquering the Earth and ruling the Machine Empire. Once King Mondo caught up with them, Gasket and Archerina retreated and were never seen or heard from again. It leaves you wondering what could’ve become of this duo since they only appeared in 10 episodes out of 50.

#1) Prime Evil from Ghostbusters (1986 version): Who better to take the top spot than the Ghostbusters’ biggest archenemy. This creepy character is intent on taking over the human world and has many different ghosts and ghouls serving him. Of course, Prime Evil has his comedic moments also. He takes insults as compliments, struggles to say “Ghostbusters”, and has a hot temper when putting up with his henchmen. Unfortunately, with the other version of Ghostbusters completely overshadowing this series, Prime Evil went down with it but he’s one villain I’ll never forget.

Special Note: It wasn’t easy putting this list together since there were so many underrated villains to choose from. I was also going to include Scorpina from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as an honorable mention, but after learning the reason behind her disappearance from voice actress Wendee Lee at Anime Festival Orlando 2011, I’m going to let that one pass.

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.

May 302011
 

It looks like Spooky Empire was celebrating Halloween early this year with Spooky Empire’s Mayhem 2011. This convention was truly special because the main celebrity guests were none other than the cast of The Evil Dead franchise.  Including B-movie king Bruce Campbell who had one of the funniest Q&As I’ve ever attended. Bruce started his Q&A by bringing all of the audience members with Evil Dead tattoos onto the stage.  Each person got to show off all of their tattoos and Bruce gave them each a dollar.  He even called one lady a freak.

Bruce then took questions from the audience. I asked him about his time on Jack of All Trades (2000-2001). Even though it only lasted one season, I thought was a great show. Bruce only described it as a one-season failure that brought back some bad memories. “Gee, thanks for bringing that up,” he told me sarcastically, and then went on to the next question. Bruce also had a “game” where he turned his back to the audience and everyone was to shout out titles of movies they wanted their money back for. One woman shouted out Alien Apocalypse (2005) and Bruce gave her three dollars and an apology for that movie. The audience roared with laughter, even though I didn’t think that movie was so bad.  He also had some interesting thoughts on Evil Dead the musical. He recommended it and mentioned his favorite number was What the F*** Was That. Bruce’s opinion was if the musical was done really well it’s really entertaining, and if it’s not done really well it’s still really entertaining. So you can’t really go wrong.

After the Q&A I had my photo taken with Bruce Campbell and got his autograph. I was very excited to have had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite comedic actors.

Another great actor I met from The Evil Dead franchise was Ted Raimi.  He was a very funny, friendly, and talkative.  Of course, I remember him best as Joxer from Xena: Warrior Princess.  Joxer rules!

Then there was Timothy Quill,  who played the Blacksmith in Army of Darkness. Although it was a smaller role, the Blacksmith always stood out, especially in the scene when he helps Ash build his new right hand.

Both Timothy Quill and Bruce Campbell autographed this Army of Darkness poster I bought at the show.

The Ladies of the Evil Dead were also at Mayhem 2011. Theresa Tilly (Shelly), Betsy Baker (Linda), and Ellen Sanweiss (Cheryl) from the first Evil Dead movie. I met them as a group and as you can see from the photo they were all great ladies.

This convention had a lot to offer and I’ll have more posts about Spooky Empire Mayhem 2011 soon.

Aug 202010
 

Yeah, like me.

What makes a great villain? Usually it’s a wickedly tough adversary that the hero(s) must go up against in order to protect the innocent. In many superhero stories, there are usually quite a few different archenemies. Each of them is colorful in their own way.

Let’s take Batman for example. He fights criminals all over Gotham City, but the only villains who are most popular are the colorful ones, such as Joker, Penguin, Cat Woman, Riddler, etc. because they stick out from the rest as much as the superhero.

Dick Tracy is another perfect example. The criminals he fights all have various quirks, which they are named after, like Mumbles, Flat Top, Prune Face, Itchy, etc. I’ll tell ya, if it wasn’t for that, Dick Tracy would never have made it as an icon, no matter how heroic he was.

From an artistic perspective, a great villain is an enemy who is not only colorful, but is evenly matched to the hero. That way it appears more like a 50/50 chance on who will come out on top.

I have here a top five list of my most favorite match-ups that help explain my point.

#5) He-Man vs. Skeletor from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Skeletor’s motive is simple, he wants to rule the world. He-Man is the only one who can stop him and maintain peace in Eternia. It sounds a little one-sided at first, but now I understand that it’s merely a power struggle between the strongest beings representing good and evil.

#4) Obi-Won Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) vs. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) from Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith: These two Jedi warriors used to be partners. With the seduction of Darth Sidous and unfair treatment of the Jedi counsel, Anakin had completely turned rogue. That soon led to their exciting one on one battle, but what was really touching was when after Obi-Won won the fight, he still felt devastated from Anakin’s betrayal just as any mentor would feel if their protégé turns on them.

#3) John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) vs. Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) from Demolition Man: The motives for these two need no introduction, cop vs. convict. However, the relationship goes deeper when Phoenix gets Spartan arrested with him. The battle scenes between them became more intense when Phoenix develops some new combat skills, which challenges Spartan even more. 

#2) Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) vs. Faith (Eliza Dushku) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: These two are both slayers and used to be friends. Although Faith was troubled to begin with, her reason for turning rogue was different. She wanted to live on the wild side and be free, but Buffy knows better. That soon caused some friction between them as to how the slaying should be done. On the other hand, don’t you just love a good cat fight?

#1) Xena (Lucy Lawless) vs. Callisto (Hudson Leick) from Xena: Warrior Princess: Let’s certainly not forget this classic match-up. Years ago when Xena was evil, she conquered Callisto’s home village and killed her family. That drove her to become more like Xena in every way possible while vowing revenge. Callisto had definitely succeeded, even from beyond the grave, if you know what I mean. As beautiful as she was, it’s really Callisto’s psychotic persona that makes her a favorite of mine.

Basically a good villain is one who is worthy of the title. Whether it’s personal grudges or being consumed by a dark power, villains have goals, but it’s their evil intent that gives them bad karma, which is also enjoyable to watch at times.

Aug 162010
 

Isn’t it amazing? Shortly after attending Anime Festival Orlando, my sister and I went to the largest Star Wars convention to come to Orlando, Star Wars Celebration V. It has everything a Star Wars fan would enjoy, hard core or not.   

              

Let’s start with the celebrity guests. Hosting the festivities was Jay Laga’aia, who played Captain Typho on Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I remember him best as Draco the warlord on Xena: Warrior Princess. After getting my picture with Jay, I shook his hand and he gave me a four-day pass as a freebie. How’s that for generosity?   

             

After that I got autographs from Orli Shoshan, who played Shaak Ti and Amy Allen, who played Aayla Secura. (Both characters were from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.) They were both sweet.   

                     

I also had a photo op with Mark Hamill, who was a real nice guy.

 

There were also several interesting Q&A sessions at this convention, including Jon Stewart’s interview with George Lucas. Unfortunately, I didn’t attend any of them because the rooms had reached maximum capacity at least several hours before they even begun. Yes, it was that crazy! 

Of course there was a great amount of Star Wars Cosplay as well as realistic R2-D2 robots that are controlled by remote.  

Now here’s something you don’t see every day, a Chef Vader!

                  

                                       

                 

                 

                                 

                                

                                  

                                  

Some of the other rooms had exhibits of Star Wars statues, including life size ones made out of Legos. It was all so artistically creative.   

              

I really enjoyed this convention. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.