Archive | September, 2012

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31 Days of Halloween: Day 1

Posted on 30 September 2012 by DM

In honor of the holiday that is tied for favorite in my heart, I am going to be watching and reviewing a horror movie that I have never seen for each day of the month of October. It’s like 30 Days of Christmas but with blood. So enjoy.

 

Day 1: Grave Encounters

Genre: Ghost/Supernatural

Release Date: 2011

Grave Encounters is a small production that depicts the leftover footage from a reality television crew that, ala Ghost Hunters, is trying to prove the reality of ghosts with pseudo science, which apparently bites off more than it can chew (much like me and this last sentence). As they investigate an abandoned mental hospital, reality becomes skewed and the crew is confronted horrible supernatural encounters.

 

Additional notes: The reality tv angel worked well to help with scares but made it all the more jarring when a scene was filmed outside of that direct camera context.

 

Summary: Under the premise of a “proving the paranormal” reality television show, Grave Encounters takes a bit long to deliver on the scares and gives them for too brief a time. All in all, it is too top-heavy a movie.

DM

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Being a Better Geek: Halloween (1978) and Scream

Posted on 30 September 2012 by VinnieAve

For the month of October I decided on a couple of films that steered me towards the horror genre, Halloween and Scream. My assumption is that Vincenzo will hate them both and punish me later but the point of this little endeavor is to share what helped to develop our various geekdoms. I grew into the horror franchise after High School and scream was one of the first movies I saw that drove me there. The franchise is a favorite of mine, filled with witty banter and inside jokes pertaining to the industry. I came to Halloween much later but it quickly became my all time favorite horror movie. So much so that I crave my DVD that was lent for the purposes of this article before Too much of October is behind us. I have rarely seen movies succeed at creating an atmosphere as well as this film. So much so that I watch it several times during the month of October to help me maintain that Halloween spirit. The soundtrack will also be playing most of the month in an effort to make pedestrians fear my car as it drives along.

Vincenzo's Take

I am by no means a horror fan, and in particular I am not a slasher horror fan. So I have not seen any of these, probably because there is a house in my town that does amazing Halloween decoration and at night they have people dressed up. One night when we went there a man dressed up as Freddy Kruger was there and I was terrified at the time. For this reason I avoided slasher films. Thus this week I will be talking about Halloween (1978) and Scream.

So first to Halloween, I have enjoyed John Carpenter for a number of years with The Thing coming in as one of my favorite horror films overall, so suffice it to say I have intended to see this for a while now and this was as good a reason as any. The basic story of Halloween is that Michael Myers has escaped from the asylum and has gone back to his town in the process stalking Laurie Strode and killing the teens. I don’t particularly care to go over the story since it’s pretty standard fare at this point making its way into the lexicon of film. That is not to say that this one is not great a film and there was definitely a reason to watch this even if you are not a horror fan. This film was a fantastic piece of art. There are a number of well filmed scenes from the beginning of the film with the first scene being entirely 1st person. Throughout the film there is an excellent use of light and darkness.

The next big part of the movie that was the music, John Carpenter’s films always have a standard soundtrack type that can enhance the film or not have any effect. In this case the music has such a great effect on the level of terror in the film. There was one particular story element that I found troublesome. For the first part of the story Michael is very clearly human and is bound by human rules and the laws of nature. However, in the last act of the film in particular, there are several elements of Michael that are much more super-natural. I think this change damages the character and weakens the film. However, at the end of the day I really enjoyed this film and most likely will be adding this to my collection at some point.

The second film that I was assigned for Being a Better Geek was Scream.
I have to start this with the statement is that Scream is a satire and parody of the slasher genre. Sadly this film’s humor hinges almost entirely on knowing the tropes of the genre otherwise this movie is a pretty weak and goofy film. This review will be short since by and large I like to talk about what worked really well and what worked terribly poorly.

The biggest short coming of this film is that it tries to balance between being a horror film and being a comedy about horror films, this causes there to be odd tonal shifts, particularly when there are attack scenes. When Ghostface attacks he almost always takes a few big hits and is really taken down like a chump before he kills the person who it has attacked.

It was difficult for me to enjoy this movie since so much of it hinges on the audience knowing about the genre. There is a scene where a character goes over the rules of surviving a horror film. While everyone knows them, the people who will actually enjoy this are fans, not the initiate. This major element causes me to not be able to recommend this to people who are not fans already.

 

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The Delve:The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Posted on 26 September 2012 by VinnieAve

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Being a Better Geek: Powerpuff Girls Finale

Posted on 23 September 2012 by DM

DM’s Take:

We wrap up this Being a Better Geek with some of the better Powerpuff Girls episodes of the season.  A particular favorite of mine was the Rowdyruff Boys but I suspect that holds a strong place in most people’s brains.  I also suspect that Uh Oh, Dynamo is a favorite of Vincenzo’s with Giant Robots and Giant monsters.

To sum up my feelings about Powerpuff Girls: I think the animation is great.  It makes me want to try out Dexter’s Laboratory, which I hear is similar with some strong humor.  The stories and dialogue are tongue-in-cheek and just up my alley as well.  I really have no problems with the show.  That said I do not think it will make it on to my normal watch list.  It is not that I do not like the show obviously, but it just came a bit too late.  In regards to my Geekatude though, I am very glad to have watched the first season of Powerpuff Girls.

Vincenzo’s Take

Well this was a great set of episodes. DM said a lot of what I wanted to talk about but there is one episode that he missed that was artistically great. The Bare Facts is a segment that was very experimental. The entire episode is through the eyes of the Mayor, hearing the story of his kidnapping by Mojo Jojo from the girls with each girl telling the story in a different style similar to the personality of the character. The change in tone and animation style was fantastic.

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We Waste Our Time

Posted on 18 September 2012 by VinnieAve

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Be a Better Geek: Powerpuff Girls Season 1 Episodes 3-7

Posted on 15 September 2012 by DM

DM’s Take

OK as is, I think, understandable I am having a rough time writing for each individual episode of this show.  My summary is as follows.  Vincenzo’s goal was to give me a show similar to MLP: Friendship is magic to show me that a show could target little girls and quirky adults.  The problem therein is that I already knew that.  Its just a matter of where I want to spend my time.  This set of Powerpuff Girls episodes continues to be entertaining, and I am giving it my fullest of attention, but it still remains a show that I would only watch in my periphery as I do other things.  We have some tongue in cheek humor (and more adult humor as well), fun villains and the like.  Honestly, it reminds me strongly of Underdog from when I was younger and makes me want to go back and see exactly how much of that is nostalgia and how much is for real.  My favorite episode of this batch has to be a tie between Buttercrush and Major Competition although honestly the show does a great job at maintaining consistency throughout the episodes in terms of quality.

Vinnie’s Take

Okay so I was busy studying for the GREs this week and didn’t get much watched. I will catch-up this week. I did get to episode 5 last week and was clearly reminded of why I enjoyed this show as a kid. For me the winner in that batch was BoogieFrights/Abracadaver. Both of these had a bit of a horror element to them with a good touch of humor. Also there was Octi Evil which introduces my favorite version of Satan, Him. The eery voice still haunts me from time to time.

Update: I watched the additional 2 that DM got to. Major Man was a great character. It felt like something that could have gone with Superman. Since this was airing around the same time as that, ensuring that the kids watching would understand what was being parodied there. We get a bit more on the origin of the girls and Mojo Jojo. This whole set reminds me why this era of animation was great and still can be enjoyed as 14 years after the first airing of these episodes. It is really a shame that Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon aren’t giving young people right out of animation school.

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The Delve: Minority Report

Posted on 14 September 2012 by VinnieAve

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Being a Better Geek: Powerpuff Girls Episodes 1-2

Posted on 08 September 2012 by DM

Vinnie’s Introduction

Hey Everybody. We’re starting up a new series so I get to do a brief introduction. We’ve covered a lot in the past 8 months, but there has been a lack of American cartoons so I decided to pick one that is still held up as a high point, The Powerpuff Girls. For many people my age this was a hugely popular show, for both boys and girls. It has the right combination of action and character to entertain children but still keep parents engaged.

Vinnie’s Take

So these first 2 episodes introduce 2 of our series villains Mojo Jojo, who is the biggest bad of the show and Sedusa, who as the name implies is a seductress. I think the idea of having a seductress character in a children’s show was a bit of risk but it makes the show stand out. It wasn’t until DM’s tweet the other day that I caught what Buttercup was putting in the Professor’s pocket. Mommy Fearest was probably the best of the batch this week mostly because of the way it has the Professor display his loneliness.

DM’s Take

Powerpuff Girls Season 1 episodes: Monkey See, Doggy Do; Mommy Fearest; Insect Inside; Powerpuff Bluff

They’re ditzy they’re smart, they’re sweet and a bit crude, the Powerpuff girls seem to try for adults and children and to a point deliver (so far). The premise being that a scientist has, in his attempt to create girls with sugar and spice, accidentally added chemical X and made the Powerpuff Girls, who seem to be like little 4-5 year old supergirl clones. The show seems very tongue-in-cheek, full of puns and dumb jokes.  The episodes I watched included some doozys, the most ridiculous of them being when three under shaven criminals dress in Powerpuff Girls costumes and frame the girls…I could not stop shaking my head the entire episode.   It was a rough week so I only managed the first four, but my initial impression is positive but wary about whether this will get boring or not.

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Podcast: X-Cutioner’s Song, Macross Plus, Gamescon News

Posted on 06 September 2012 by VinnieAve

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Being a Better Geek: Cycle of the Werewolf

Posted on 01 September 2012 by VinnieAve

Why I picked it…Its simple really; It was the first Horror literature that I was exposed to (unless you count fairy tales, which I did not until much later).  Cycle of the Werewolf was read to my fourth grade class in the afternoons post recess.  The adult in me is sure that it was edited for our little ears but it still called to me.  By no means is it an award winning work.  The writing is very early King and that is to say sub par in key elements like depth and plot.  It was the atmosphere that captured me though. King has always been able to pull his reader into the moment, to feel what they feel and experience what they experience.  So I assign to Vincenzo the novella that started my love of Horror Fiction, and I hope that he likes it because its a long road from here.
DM

Vincenzo’s Take

I write this as I sit in the back seat of my parent’s car, driving to Cambridge, MA for my cousin’s wedding. I tell you this because this week we read Cycle of the Werewolf, a novella by Stephen King, so if even if you are like me, you know that he loves to write his stories in New England, in this case like most of his stuff Maine. The basic premise of this tale is that there is a vignette for each month of a year with various werewolf attacks throughout the year.

There were some things about this book that I enjoyed. I will give King this he has a wonderful talent for describing and building his world. You get an excellent feel for the small town nature with more or less everyone knows everyone. You know the shops and the people the setting is great. Without a doubt this was the best part of the story. I enjoyed the main conceit of the book, being the short vignette format worked well, and it was a good way to move quickly from each month to another.

Sadly, both of the benefits came at a cost. While there are a good number of characters who you know a little bit about but there is no real main character to identify with or carry the story. I found the book to be uncompelling and not really caring who died or what really happened. The book had very little emotion to it. This made the book a bit of a failure and I would be hesitant to recomend this book to people who are not already big horror fans or are people who must read all of Stephen King’s works.

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