Friday, April 30, 2010

A Clean-up On Elm Street

A new A Nightmare On Elm Street? I’m still getting over the original, when I saw it in junior high and got leg cramps from sitting with my feet on the chair in front of me and tensing up every couple minutes. It was the first time I’d ever experienced this agony, and I let out a worthy Wilhelm scream during the movie. My fellow Mission Theatergoers had to think I was the biggest wuss ever.
Inspired by some key scenes in the film, a friend and I became obsessed with checking out our school’s boiler room. It turned out to be about 1/80th the size of the one in the movie. But still, pretty cool.
I only went to a few scary movies back then because they weren't my thing. The real draw was having fun with friends, like when one “accidentally” spilled his drink all over an annoying classmate.

Here's how you pull that off:

You didn't get this from me. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

K-9: The Reality Series

I'd like to say it was strictly an admiration for German Shepherds that inspired me to see the movie K-9 (1989). But I also didn't mind the work of Jim Belushi.

I particularly liked his SNL portrayal of Captain Kangaroo, who completely loses it while feeding clues to a rather dense game show partner.

And I enjoyed the SNL bit where he's a mean grocery store manager who’s given a pair of shoes that open doors automatically, causing him to meet his comeuppance down an elevator shaft.

Basically any skit where Jim Belushi was a jerk.

However, K-9 was average fare. About what you’d expect from a dog movie. I must’ve liked it enough though, because I went back to the theater three months later when it was re-released as Turner and Hooch (1989).

Fast-forward a few years (and through this movie, if you like) and I’m married. Our first pet is a German Shepherd. This dog lives with us for 10 short years and is praised by every vet we meet as being the friendliest member of the breed that they’ve ever encountered.

I guess he only shared his ugly side with us. Like the time he reared up to the table while my back was turned, and took a deliberate, single bite out of my sandwich. Or when he politely didn't touch a newly planted tree for days. But during the 20 minutes while I was out buying a wire mesh to protect it (in case he got any ideas) … he devoured it.

Despite these indiscretions, he was a great dog. At the time of his passing, if cloning hadn't cost upwards of $100,000 and didn’t brand you as “kind of a freak,” I’d have considered it. Instead, I was left pondering these:

Questions I Have About Pet Cloning

1) After replicating Man's Best Friend at Bill & Melinda Gates prices, can you pick up with your pet right where you left off? Like in mid stick-throw, or something?

2) As you duplicate your dog's DNA structure while crippling all hope of retirement, are you essentially creating a being who's going to re-eat your favorite armchair?

3) Would a life savings-draining freak-pup hatched from your desire to play God be considered, in your vet office's eyes, as the same animal who enjoyed their services before? (Thus qualifying you for discounts because you technically own their oldest patient?)

4) Can you teach a new dog cloned from an old dog new tricks?

Jim Belushi made more K-9 movies. It'd be less expensive to just watch those. At least monetarily.

Friday, April 9, 2010

That 1982 Swamp Thing movie

     What this movie should've been:

And by "should've been," I mean "something even slightly invoking the spirit of the Bernie Wrightson-drawn stories from the 1970s comic."

It wasn't. It was this:

I don't know that it has held up well.

I remember walking in the front door after seeing it and telling my folks everything bad about the movie—in front of the guests they had over for dinner. The look on their friends' faces was like, "Nice parenting."

In truth, I wasn't a huge fan of the Swamp Thing character in those days. (He's since grown on me.) But it was a comic book movie, and I was 11.

I discovered Swamp Thing on Nickelodeon's 'Video Comics' in the early, early days of Cable TV. Nobody would remember this. It was a half-hour show that opened with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," and featured kids on their bikes, pedaling to the drugstore to check out the comic rack. ("Hey, kids. Comics!") 

Each episode was basically a camera moving from panel to panel along the inside pages of a comic book, featuring voice-overs and sound effects. Low-tech, but it worked. The ones I remember were Swamp Thing, Green Lantern, Adam Strange, Mystery In Space, and Sugar and Spike by artist/writer Sheldon Mayer. His stuff, often compared to Charles Schulz, is some of the best comic book work ever produced. I don't know how it's been so overlooked.

But back to the swamp. Once again, THIS looks kind of interesting:

But instead, we were given an average-size guy wearing a rubber suit.

Oh, and some fanboats. Did you see the fanboats? This one is considered a cult favorite, but I started to watch it again recently and couldn't get through it. Instead, I broke out the Berni Wrightson artwork and hit PLAY on "Ride of the Valkyries."