Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday's (Late) Forgotten Film: Get Crazy


Hi everyone! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas/Chanukah/Winter Solstice/Kwanzaa/Festivus/etc. I'm home on Christmas vacation, which is why I totally forgot about this week's Tuesday's Forgotten--oops! Better late than never, right? With the last of the holidays left this season, New Year's Day, I have an appropriate choice for this week--the 1983 rock comedy Get Crazy.

Get Crazy stars Allen Garfield (Mother, Jugs, and Speed) as a Bill Graham-type rock promoter who owns a live theater in New York much like the Fillmore. He is preparing his annual New Year's Eve concert to welcome in 1983, but a greedy land developer (is their any other kind?) tries to sabotage the concert, with help from the promoter's betraying nephew, so he can take control of the building and demolish it.

The film includes outlandish antics from many over-the-top characters, both on and off the concert stage, and the film lives up to its call for wild behavior. I've only seen the film once on broadcast TV circa 1990 (and even then only in parts), and although it was once available on videocassette, it has never been released on DVD. That's a shame, because I'd love to spend this New Year's Eve welcoming 2012 with this wacky film.

Here is a fan-created trailer for the movie.



If I don't get to talk again before Sunday, Happy New Year!

UPDATE AS OF 12/28/2011: Oh happy happenstance! I just discovered today, completely by coincidence, that the movie is available on Comcast digital cable's movies on demand service in the free movies section. I get to see the movie this New Year's after all. Rejoice!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

In keeping with blog tradition, I can't let Christmas Eve go by without saying this: Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Batman and Robin, "The Cool, Cruel Christmas Caper"

Batman and Robin make their second appearance in my Christmas presentation this year, this time in animated form, taking on Mr. Freeze (who else in a Christmas story?) in "The Cool Cruel Christmas Caper." Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Animaniacs Wish You a Merry Christmas

Bringing you good, classy holiday cheer, here are the Animaniacs wishing you a Merry Christmas as only they can. Enjoy!



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV: The Great Santa Claus Switch

Five days left! Gotta keep things moving, and I do so with this week's Tuesday's Forgotten, a TV special that aired as an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show.

"The Great Santa Claus Switch" aired on December 20, 1970 (exactly 41 years ago today!) in Sullvan's time slot, but Sullivan gave the entire hour over to the Muppets, who had been a hit on Sullivan's show and were becoming even more high profile as Sesame Street had been a big hit for the past year. In the special, Santa is kidnapped by an evil wizard named Cosmo Scam, who plans to masquerade as Santa to steal from people's homes. Both Santa and Cosmo were played by Art Carney. The special is also notable as it features an early incarnation of Gonzo (names Snarl in this special) and Thog, a giant blue Muppet who appears in the opening credits of each episode of The Muppet Show (and has a cameo in the new Muppet movie).

Please enjoy this early Muppet extravaganza. Thanks!






Monday, December 19, 2011

Noel

Less than one week left to Christmas, and I've barely posted any of the stuff I wanted to. Darn you, real life!

I'll try to post what I can throughout the week, even if it means posting more than once a day. Here is the 1992 NBC special Noel, an animated special written by Rankin/Bass alumnus Romeo Muller and narrated by Charlton Heston. Noel is a glass Christmas ornament if who has a "happiness." For more on this happiness and what it's capable of, watch below. Thanks!



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tuesday's (Late) Forgotten TV-Movie: Miracle on 34th Street

I am VERY sorry for my severe lack of posting during this holiday season! It's very unlike me to have such a low  rollout of posts this time of year, but my life is extremely busy both at work and home, even more so than usual. Please bear with me and I'll do my best to turn things around the remainder of the season.

This week I offer a TV-movie version of a classic 1947 Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street. In this 1955 version, Thomas Mitchell plays Kris Kringle in New York City on trial for being crazy, but a kind-hearted lawyer (imagine that) defends the man as well as warms the hearts of a no-nonsense woman and her starry-eyes daughter. This version aired as an installment of The 20th Century Fox Hour on CBS. There were two additional TV-movie remakes of the original film, a 1959 live version on NBC and a 1973 TV-movie starring Sebastian Cabot as Kris (this is the version I first saw).

Here, free and legal, is the 1955 TV-movie version of Miracle on 34th Street in its entirety. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Punky Brewster Cartoon Series, "Christmas in July"

Back in the 1980s, TV networks had an odd habit of recreating their current popular sitcoms with Saturday morning animated counterparts. NBC was no exception, and for one season aired a cartoon show based on Punky Brewster.

They couldn't leave the sitcom formula alone. To "kiddify" an already kiddified show, they added a magical character named Gloamer, who sounds so much like Jar Jar Binks NBC should sue George Lucas for copyright infringement.

Here is Punky and her friends--and Gloamer Binks--in "Christmas in July." Enjoy!



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: One Magic Christmas


Welcome once again to Tuesday's Forgotten, where we blow the dust off of a neglected film/TV series/etc. and give it the once over. Today I offer the 1985 Disney film One Magic Christmas.

Mary Steenburgen plays Ginny, a wife and mother who is quickly losing her Christmas spirit in the wake of her husband's unemployment and dwindling finances. Entering into the family fray is Gideon, a guardian angel, played by Harry Dean Stanton, assigned by Santa Claus to help Ginny rekindle her Christmas spirit. Gideon does this not directly, but through Ginny's children, particularly daughter Abbie.

What sounds like a typical Christmas redemption story is colored by some interesting plot choices. Although the film has a happy ending, much of the film is surprisingly dower and glum, especially for a Disney film, and the story takes the viewer to some pretty deep lows before getting to the high of an ending. It may be the most sober Christmas movie you'll see.

Find out for yourself while watching the entire film. Enjoy!









Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dance Fever Christmas Special


Ah, Dance Fever. What can I say about this classic, revered hallmark of American television entertainment? Well, it had amateur dancers competing on national television for prizes and cash. Plus, it debuted during the height of the disco craze and continued well into the neon glitz of the 80s. It was as cheesy as you can possibly imagine, and watching now, far removed from its pop culture context, it's delightful fun! And like all fine TV shows, it even had a Christmas special!

Here it is from the Christmas season of 1980, hosted by Danny Terrio, with celebrity judges Robert Blake, Chad Everett, and Connie Stevens, plus special performances from David Copperfield and the Gap Band, no less!. Put on your disco dancing shoes and boogie!






Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV-Movie: An American Christmas Carol

As I acknowledged yesterday, the holiday season is officially upon us, and this week's Tuesday's Forgotten is a reflection of that. Today I offer the 1979 TV-movie An American Christmas Carol.

Henry Winkler stars as Benedict Slade,  a stereotypical hard-hearted banker who is visited one Christmas Eve by three spirits who resemble people on whom he has foreclosed homes and possessions. During their visit, we see how he became the man he is and what his fate will be if he doesn't change his selfish ways.

Charles Dickins' A Christmas Carol has been performed and reimangined in countless ways since it was first published, but this version is unique in that it is set in Depression-era America, which provides a fresh look at the themes of the original story in a rich American historical context. Winkler's performance is a fine one, even if he does look odd covered in old man makeup.

Here is the entire film for your enjoyment. Thanks!










Monday, November 28, 2011

Holy Holidays Batman, It's Christmas Time!


Ho ho ho! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. With Turkey Day behind us, it's time to officially welcome the Christmas season! It's a time when even the most stoic and serious get giddy and spirited. Even Batman! Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I love the food, I love the time off, and I love the time well spent with family and friends. I also love to blog about the day, so enjoy some Thanksgiving appetizers right here!

First, the Swedish Chef shows you how to skewer a turkey.  Or rather, how to try to do it!



If turkey isn't your thing, perhaps you, or even better, your lady, would appreciate a "goose" instead. It worked for Benny Bell!



Finally, a reminder that the day is about being thankful, not gluttonous, from someone who excels at setting us straight at holiday time.



I hope you enjoyed these brief but fun clips. Be good, don't drink and drive, enjoy the food, enjoy your loved ones even more, and once again, Happy Thanksgiving!

But wait--what's this?



YYYYEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!! CHRISTMAAAAAAAAAAAAS! YYYYYYEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!

This is MY time of year! Great stuff is on the way! Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Forgotten Film: Home For The Holidays

In case you didn't know, Thanksgiving is this week! In previous years I've featured plenty of Thanksgiving-related fare here, but this year busy times have prevented me from doing so. Still, I have a couple of posts this week in honor of Turkey Day, the first being this week's Forgotten Film, Home for the Holidays.

The film revolves around the family of a career woman played by Holly Hunter, who is fired right before Thanksgiving. With this bad news in mind, she spends Thanksgiving with her wacky dysfunctional family (is there any other kind in Hollywood movies), including her gay brother played by Robert Downey Jr. and cranky father played by Charles Durning. The usual holiday hilarity ensues. There have been several of these types of films made over the years, but this is the only one directed by Jodie Foster, so there's that.

Here is the film's trailer. For more forgotten goodness, click here. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Hot Hits 98" WCAU-FM Philadelphia

As I said in my post earlier this week regarding the Forgotten Film FM, I've been thinking a lot lately about radio, a medium I've always loved. The one station that is likely most responsible for that love is the late WCAU 98.1 FM and their "Hot Hits" format of the '80s.

This format was a form of Top 40 that focuses on high energy presentation, as little talk from the DJs as possible, avoidance of even the slightest moment of dead air, and heavy rotation of the biggest hit songs. In regards to DJ talk, it wasn't that the DJs shouldn't talk at all, but that the talk be concise, to the point, and to serve in the transition of programming, and WCAU-FM's DJs did that excellently.

This format was created by a consultant named Mike Joseph, who had also been instrumental in creating the Top 40 formats of legendary stations WABC-AM in New York and WFIL-AM in Philadelphia, among others. Joseph had refined his format into what he would term "Hot Hits," and the format debuted in 1977 in Hartford, Connecticut to ratings success.

In April 1981, Joseph met with the management of WCAU-FM in Philly to help the station and its struggling disco/dance format (disco being pretty much dead by 1981).  After a few months of testing and tooling behind the scenes, the Hot Hits format made its debut in September 1981.

It was an instant success.

The music, the jingles, and most importanly, the DJs, all hand-picked by Joseph, worked together to create a station that was energetic, fresh, and very very 80s. The best way to explain all this is through the sound of the station itself, and thanks to recent YouTube posters and aircheck collectors, I can do this for you now.

Here is early midday jock Rich Hawkins a mere day or two into the new format.



The most popular DJ at the station, and my favorite DJ of all time, was Terry Young, the "Motormouth." He was funny, strange, fast, and very popular, especially with younger listeners. Here he is in November 1981 during his 7 to midnight shift.



Here is a composite of several DJs and dayparts from February 1982.



Here is a whopping 16 minutes of 98's first major morning man and "shock jock" Barsky in February of 1983. He would be fired in 1985 but return to Philly in the '90s at several Philly stations for many years afterwards.



You can hear the station undergo changes here and there as the 80s progressed, especially in jingles. Here is Jefferson Ward from July of 1985.



As other stations started to erose ratings from the station here and there over the years, and with station owner CBS high on the oldies format that was very successful on their New York City station, WCAU's days as a Top 40 station were numbered. Here is the station from October 28, 1987, days before it would flip to the oldies format.



Two bits of irony about the station's flip to oldies: the station had been an oldies station through much of the 1970s already, and as the station today has included a good deal of 80s songs into their current classic hits format, they're starting to sound more like they did in the 80s.

Thanks!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: FM

As much as I write here about TV and movies, I've never spent any time discussing another one of my favorite media, radio.  It is, after all, the namesake of my Internet handle "phillyradiogeek," and that's exactly what I am.  I love radio! I love the music, talk, jingles, production, everything. I especially love the radio of the era in which I grew up, the 70s and 80s. There was something very special about the way the best radio was produced during those decades, and I miss that kind of radio terribly.

I've been thinking of radio a lot lately, and that leads me to my pick for this week's Tuesday's Forgotten, the 1978 movie FM. FM is a comedy about the battle between the DJs and the bean counters at a fictional LA rock radio station.  When the station's sales manager signs an agreement to air corny plugs for the Army, the DJs, led by the program director/morning personality (Michael Brandon), stage an on-air protest and encourage the listeners to take their side.

There are colorful personalities, including Cleavon Little as the overnight jock and Martin Mull, making his big screen debut, as the wackiest DJ of all. There is also music from Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffet, Tom Petty, Queen, and Steely Dan, who performs the movie's titular song.

Somewhere in my collection I have this film recorded on VHS tape off of cable (yes, I recorded on videotape in the 21st century; don't judge me).  I'll have to dig it out and give it a look.

The plot of the film sounds so similar to WKRP In Cincinnati that I thought for sure the show was inspired by the film, but as far as I can tell, the two projects emerged the same year (1978) coincidentally.  However, the characters of the program directors from both projects were inspired by the same real life person.

Here now for you is the film's trailer.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV: Tales of the Tinkerdee


 This week's Tuesday's Forgotten is, I admit, a bit of a cheat, as the TV program I'm showcasing this week never even aired.


Tales of the Tinkerdee was an unaired pilot created in 1962 by Jim Henson and starring the Muppets.  The show is set in the medieval land of Tinkerdee and involves the birthday party of the land's princess and a witch's plan to crash the party when she is uninvited.  The only Muppet character that is instantly recognizable is Kermit (not yet a frog and not going by that name here) appearing as a minstrel/Greek chorus, but the king and witch characters would be used in later Muppets TV specials.

Here, in glorious black and white, is Tales of the Tinkerdee.  Enjoy!



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Comedian John Pinette at His Finest

Last month, my wife took me to see one of my favorite stand-up comedians, John Pinette, for my birthday. John never fails to make me laugh out loud.  Here are almost 15 minutes of some of his best bits. Enjoy! For more info on John, including upcoming tour dates, CDs, and DVDs, check out his Web site.  Thanks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV: The Pogo Special Birthday Special


Hello everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Halloween last night, as well as a great time enjoying the Countdown to Halloween.  It's one of my favorite times to blog all year, and this year was no exception. I can't wait until next year so we can do it all over again.

However, as Charlie Brown would say, "Another Halloween has come and gone," and it's time to move on. And I move on by posting this week's Tuesday's Forgotten, and this week, it's the 1969 animated TV special The Pogo Special Birthday Special.

The special is, of course, based on the legendary comic strip set in the Okee Fenokee Swamp with Pogo the Possum and friends.  As much as I love comic strips, I confess I've never read Pogo (except for a bit of the brief revamp in the late 80s/early 90s), so this world is a new one for me. Creator Walt Kelly (who lends his voice to some of the characters in the special) was unhappy with the quality of this special, but it's an interesting project nonetheless. Enjoy!



Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat! Happy Halloween 2011

Happy Halloween indeed! As unbelievable as it may seem, Halloween is finally upon us, and that means the end of the Countdown to Halloween. Just like every year, I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of this great Halloween tradition. I'd like to thank my longtime readers who continue to support this blog, and also the new readers (and Followers, I've noticed!) who have expressed their support. You're the reason I keep the blog going. Thanks so much!

Of course, we still have the final post to go! Since trick or treating is the way to cap off the season, that's how will do it at the blog.

First up, we're "trickin' it to the treat" with Michael McDonald and band--well, almost.



Next, a hapless man-child named Skippy goes trick or treating three days early--with poor results.



Finally, comedian Stephen Lynch recounts his love for his favorite holiday. His sick, twisted love.



Guess what? That's it! There's only one thing left to say--Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Devil and Daniel Mouse

This is my next to last post for this year's Countdown to Halloween, so I'll make it a great one.  Today I offer the late 70s animated special The Devil and Daniel Mouse. Two struggling mouse musicians (go with it) make a deal with--who else?--to become successful, with dire results.

Several other blogs participating in the Countdown have carried this special before, but as I've posted most other Nelvana Studios productions from this time period before, why not take my turn at it?  Enjoy, and have a safe weekend!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Revenge of the Attack of the B-Movie Trailers!

Only days away from Halloween!  Time to squeeze in as many fun frightful flicks as possible.  Perhaps these will tantalize your terror tendencies?  Probably not.  But the trailers sure are fun to look at.  I always think the trailers are more entertaining than the actual movies; the trailer only gives you so much, and your imagination fills in the rest.  The movie you imagine is probably better than the actual film!

De ax! De ax!



Don't go in the house! Don't ride your bike through the garden! Don't talk with your mouth full!









Donald Pleasence alert!



Thanks!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Mighty Heroes, "The Drifter"


After a long time away, it's time for the Mighty Heroes to make their triumphant return to the blog.  This time, they face the evil Drifter, who has sent the entire town of Good Haven adrift in the air.  It's up to the Heroes to take on the Drifter and his henchmen, one a Frankenstein lookalike, and the other a racist caricature.  Who will win? Who will lose?  Stay tuned and find out.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: The Terror of Frankenstein


Tuesday is a great day to blog, because I get to showcase a cool pick for Tuesday's Forgotten/Overlooked film, TV, or audio.  As this is the last full week of the Countdown to Halloween, I have a great treat for you today: the 1977 European film The Terror of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein films are a dime a dozen, some fantastic (the 1931 classic) and the, in my opinion, not so fantastic (Frankenstein Unbound--bleh!).  Today I have a great one.  What makes it so is that it is closely faithful to Mary Shelley's novel, which is one of my alltime favorite books ever.

To enjoy this one, you should put aside your preconceived notions of the monster as a flat-headed, speechless ogre (as awesome as the Boris Karloff incarnation is, don't get me wrong).  This is a monster that is eloquent, deep-thinking, and as emotionally tortured as Hamlet or any other literary figure, and he's wonderfully presented here.  Please enjoy, free and legal, the entire film below.

For more great forgotten films, TV, and more from the past, click here.  Thanks!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Casper the Friendly Ghost, "Ghost of the Town"

Hard to believe that there is only one week left until Halloween.  I feel like we just got started!  Let's make this last week a great one.  And make sure to catch all the other great participants in the Countdown to Halloween.

Today I feature the most famous ghost of all, Casper.  Here, he finally gets humanity to accept him after an act of herosim in "Ghost of the Town" (the title of the cartoon given in the screen capture is incorrect).  Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Witches Scene from MacBeth--starring Animaniacs!

I freakin' love Animaniacs. It was one of the funniest and smartest sereis of the 1990s, including prime time series. Here, the cast act out the witches scene from MacBeth. Enjoy! For more Animaniacs Halloween fun, click here.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Skeleton Frolic

I'll keep it short today. Here is a cartoon released by Columbia Pictures in 1937 called "Skeleton Frolic." Appropriately creepy, funny, and whimsical all at the same time. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kirby Krackle, "Zombie Apocalypse"

If you're a fellow comic book geek like myself, you are likely already familiar with the music group Kirby Krackle.  If not, they are a band from Seattle that specializes in music known as "nerdcore," music based on sci-fi, comics, horror, video games, and other geek-like areas of interest.  In their music video below, a young man is doing his best living in, well, a zombie apocalypse.

To hear (and buy) more fun music from Kirby Krackle, check out their site here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Tourist Trap

It's Tuesday, it's the Countdown to Halloween, so that means it's time to digest a frightful film.  This week's pick is the 1979 cult classic Tourist Trap.

Several college-age youths traverse the backroads of America when their car breaks down near an unusual  museum run by the immensely creepy Mr Slausen (Chuck Conners).  He offers to help them but instead imprisons them in his house of horrors filled with mannequins under his telekinetic control.

The film, while certainly not a 4-star classic, has an immensely creepy impact on the viewer--the masks Conners wears alone solidy the horror factor here.  The acting from the young stars is typical of B-movie shockers, but Conners gives it his all.

See for your self right here.  Enjoy!  For more forgotten movies, TV, and audio, click here.  Thanks!









Monday, October 17, 2011

The Children's Television Workshop--of Horror!

No not really, but I did find some cool spooky-related material from two CTW series, Sesame Street and the original Electric Company (of which I just picked up the single disc collection this weekend). It's materal that eery and educational!











In the midst of putting this post together, I coincidentally came across this news item on Twitter.  Yikes! Talk about scary...

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Most Disturbing Stuff I've Ever Posted

I came across these independently-made cartoons on YouTube earlier this year somehow, and they were creepy, disturbing, and all-around bizarre--which made me save them for Halloween.  I haven't done the research on the creator of these cartoons, but based on his YouTube uploads, he specializes in these grotesque animations.

The only thing I can really say to set them up is that they follow a man's psychosis and paranoia.  It's hard to tell if some of the things seen are real or in his imagination.  Either way, these cartoons are, as the title states, the most disturbing things I've ever posted here at the blog.

WARNING! VIOLENCE! STRONG LANGUAGE! GENERAL CREEPINESS! RATED R!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'll Only Give the Great Pumpkin Another 10 Minutes--OK, Maybe Twenty

I won't go into my hardcore fandom for Peanuts yet again, but I will showcase this cute song from the animated version of the Broadway musical Snoopy.  Here, Linus puts his foot down with the Great Pumpkin, giving just a few more minutes for his arrival at the pumpkin patch.  OK, maybe a few more minutes, but that's it!  Just one more hour. And just five more minutes after that.  You get the idea.



Set your DVRs--It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs this year on ABC on Thursday, October 27th at 8pm.  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, "The Bride of Dracula"


It's become an unofficial tradition of my Halloween countdown to feature a spooky cartoon featuring my favorite superhero, Spider-Man, and this year I have a good one.  In this episode of the early 80s series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Spidey and Ice Man try to rescue Firestar from becoming "The Bride of Dracula."  This is an episode right up Chris Sims' alley.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Ghost Story


Sorry for not posting something yesterday, but Circumstances Beyond My Control got the better of me.  I'm back today with another Tuesday's Forgotten Film, and like last week's entry, this week also involves a "revenge from beyond the grave" tale.

Ghost Story is a theatrical film released in 1981 and stars screen legends Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and John Houseman (it was the last film for the former three gentlemen). The film, based on a novel by Peter Straub, tells the story of a group of old well-to-do men who are responsible for the death of a beautiful woman in their younger years.  They avoid telling the authorities and live their lives as if nothing happened.  Suddenly, in their old age, terrible things begin happening to them, as well as one of the men's sons, whose brother contacts the group to get to the bottom of things.  As I've already stated, this is a "revenge from beyond" story, you can surmise who's responsible for the horror.


Like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, this was a favorite of my parents who watched it frequently over the years.  It's available on DVD from Amazon as well as on demand streaming.  Below is the film's trailer.

Thanks!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Interview with Chris Sims, Writer of Dracula the Unconquered

Today is a red letter day for the blog, as today I feature my first-ever interview!  And I couldn't be happier than for it to be with comic book blogger and writer Chris Sims!


Chris began writing about his love for and review of comics at his Invincible Super Blog while working at a comic shop full time.  He later was inspired to begin writing his own web comics with some like-minded friends, who together formed their own comics line, The Action Age of Comics, which produces such high concept titles as The Chronicles of Solomon Stone, Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N, and my personal favorite, Awesome Hospital. In addition, he also continues to write about other comics for AOL's comics news site, Comics Alliance.

Chris is also the inventor of the Nerd Hat.


Chris is here to talk about his latest comic, Dracula the Unconquered, premiering on Halloween.

Brian:  This isn't your first time writing about a vampire (Solomon Stone), but now you're taking on the most famous one of all.  What is it about Dracula that makes him such an intriguing character, and do you plan on doing something different or unexpected with the character?

Chris: Ha!  Well technically, Solomon Stone is a half-vampire, half-wizard skateboard champion.  It might seem subtle, but trust me, it makes a big difference in how you approach the characters.

As for Dracula, what really drew me to him was the fact that there's been so much done with the character in pop culture.  In America, Bram Stoker's novel was in the public domain since it was first published, and as a result, there have been so many interpretations, reinterpretations, reimaginings, and sequels that he's become one of those characters that works in any sort of story.  You can do a serious take, you can do comedy, you can put him in a castle on the moon, and it all makes sense because he's gone so far beyond that original story.  That pop culture aspect is really what I love about him. 

At the same time, that makes it hard to do something truly new, but you don't often see him as an all-ages adventure hero, so hopefully I'll be able to put my own spin on it.

Brian: Most of your previous work, such as Solomon Stone and Awesome Hospital, have been very funny, but the solicitation for Dracula The Unconquered makes the project seem a bit more serious. Is that correct, and if so, why take a different approach now?

Chris: It  wasn't until halfway through writing the first issue that I realized that by giving Dracula a teenage girl sidekick -- an English one, no less -- I was basically writing the "serious" version of Solomon Stone, but that's kind of what it ended up being. 

That said, there are still scenes that I think are pretty funny about it, even though it's not strictly a comedy like Awesome Hospital, or a parody like Sol.  I really have no interest in writing something that's completely dour or humorless, and while Drac's first and foremost an adventure story, I don't think action and comedy are mutually exclusive.  I've described it before as Indiana Jones starring Dracula, and if you go back and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, there are moments in that film that are absolutely hilarious. 

When I think about the comics that I really love that are coming out right now, there are guys like Jeff Parker, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente.  These are guys who never shy away from putting funny moments in their stories, and it never detracts from how thrilling the action is, or the danger their characters face.  It just makes a more well-rounded story, and that's the feeling that I'm going for in Drac:  A fun, solid, entertaining comic.

Brian: You've previously spoken highly of Marvel's Tomb of Dracula, and Steve Downer's design seems a bit reminiscent of Marvel's version of the character.  What is it about that series that was so captivating, and will we see hints of those elements in DTU?

Chris: I don't think I'm blowing anyone's mind when I say that Gene Colan's version of Dracula is far and away my favorite visual of the character.  He captured that monstrous haughtiness so well, and that moustache!  Dracula just doesn't look right without facial hair. 

So yeah, Tomb of Dracula is definitely an influence, specifically in the idea of Dracula traveling around the world and dealing with villains that are even more monstrous than he is.  Also, I can't lie, his whole attitude, that crazy pretentiousness and absolute disbelief that anyone would ever dare to stand against him, it just cracks me up.  It's set the tone for how I think of Dracula speaking just in general, so there's a lot of that arrogance in my version.



Brian: What can we expect from Dracula's assistant Thalia?  From the looks of her on the cover image with her sly grin, she seems to have a few tricks of her own up her sleeve.

Chris: Thalia has her origins in me feeling like I needed a viewpoint character.  I love Dracula as a character, but he's also an immortal sorcerer who used to be King of the Vampires, so if you're following him as a protagonist, that can be pretty hard to relate to.  At the same time, I didn't want her to be just a prop to have thing explained to her, which is exactly what I was parodying with Minxy in Solomon Stone

Mark Waid writes a comic called Ruse that I love, it's a big Sherlock Holmes-style Victorian mystery series, and the detective's assistant, Emma Bishop, is such a great character.  She comes off as smart even when she's next to this super-genius, she's really quippy and active in the story.  She's great, and since there was a Ruse mini-series coming out while I wrote the first two issues of Drac, I really studied it and tried to reverse engineer how he made this lady sidekick so compelling in her own right.

Brian: I loved Ruse!  I instantly saw Thalia as the Emma to Drac's Simon when I first saw the image.

Chris: I actually asked Waid about it and he told me that he just never has one character tell another something she actually knows.  As simple as that might sound, and as much as I'm aware of it from my absolute hate of sentences that begin with "as you know..." it was a really good piece of advice to keep in mind.  When you ditch all that unnecessary exposition, you have a lot of room to work in actual character stuff.

To be honest, Thalia does end up getting a lot of things explained to her and she is in need of rescuing in the first couple of issues, but I've tried not to have those be the things that define her.  She's really fun to write, because for all of Dracula's arrogance, she's meeting him at his absolute low point, and as much danger as she faces, there's a lot of eye-rolling on her part.  After he read the script, Steve Downer pointed out that it was interesting that I'd given Dracula a teenage girl sidekick, because he has this predatory history towards young women.  It wasn't something that I'd considered at first, but once he pointed it out, it became something that I've had in my head.  If you're going to have Dracula as a hero, that's something that probably needs to be redeemed.

Brian: The solicitation also states that the events in Bram Stoker's novel "may not have gone down the way Harker & Co. wrote about them." Does this mean we'll see Dracula in a more positive light?

Chris: It's not so much that Dracula was a good guy during the novel as the "heroes" were trying to make themselves sound more heroic than they actually were.  Before I started writing, I read through Leslie Klinger's The New Annotated Dracula, which is an excellent resource, and the thing I really came away with was that I really just did not like any of the main characters, especially Harker.  Even Van Helsing just comes off as this bumbling crackpot professor who's always suggesting transfusions from random-ass guys to help out vampire victims!  It's hilarious!

So there are certain events in the novel where the "Good Guys" made the wrong assumptions, but all of the actual events happened.  Dracula was still the bad guy, he was still coming to England to eat people.  One of the things that gets addressed later down the line is that Thalia's a librarian and she's read Dracula.  So that stuff's going to come up.

Brian: Tell us more about DTU's cocreators, Josh Krach and Steve Downer, and their contributions to the book. They both have experience in multiple aspects of comic creation (Josh as a letterer and writer, Steve as an illustrator and colorist). What roles will they play in the making of DTU? I believe Steve is illustrating issue #1.

Chris: Steve and I first worked together when he colored Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N., a comic I wrote that Chris Piers drew, and while he makes his living as a colorist, he's an amazing artist as well.  We've been wanting to work together for a while, and a few years ago, we even talked about doing a story about an immortal character so that we could skip around from place to place, so when I decided I wanted to do Dracula as an adventure hero, he was the first guy to pop into my head.  He's been amazing to work with, and he even made a call about the way he wanted to draw something in the first few pages of #1 that changed the whole layout of the first seven issues.  I think people are really going to love what they see out of him.

I've known Josh for several years, and again, he's great.  He's been the letterer on Awesome Hospital since we started, but he's another one of those guys that's talented at everything he does.  He's a great writer -- he does a webcomic called Troop Infinity that's darn near perfect as a kids' adventure comedy, and he's written an upcoming AH short as well -- and he's even pretty good at drawing, too.  Like Steve, he's been an excellent collaborator, and when I sent them my plots for the first arc's worth of stories, he made a few great suggestions that made my job so much easier.

Brian: 'Fess up Chris.  This is just your way of counterbalancing all the Anita Blake comics and Twilight products, isn't it?  Next you'll write a witch comic to cancel out Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose.

Chris: The only way to fix bad comics is to make better ones.  You have to try, right?


Brian: You've been involved with comic creation for awhile now through your site the Action Age of Comics.  Are you happy with the progress the projects available there have made, and what can we expect in the future?

Chris: It's weird, because even when my schedule's so packed that I'm barely sleeping, it never really feels like I'm doing enough.  I'm just impatient, I guess.

In addition to Drac, Awesome Hospital is still going every Tuesday and Thursday, and Chad Bowers and I have our first graphic novel coming out next year from Oni.  I wish I could tell you more about that one, but for now, that's all I can say.  Plus, you know, there's my day job over at ComicsAlliance every day.  And one day... maybe not this year, maybe not this century, but one day I'll be able to put out Solomon Stone #3.  It's got succubus pirates.

Brian: Finally, and this is an important question: does Batman prefer beef barbeque or pork barbeque?

Chris: Oh, definitely pulled pork.  South Carolina Mustard-Based sauce has the delicious sharp taste of justice.

Dracula The Unconquered makes its debut October 31st, and will be available for download in cbr format for $1.  Check out the official site here.

Thanks Chris!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Attack of the B-Movie Trailers!

There are many great, classic horror films.  There are also far more goofy, cheesy, weird, and flat-out bad horror films.  But sometimes, they're more fun!  Here is a sampling of several fine examples.  Enjoy!







Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Comic Book Review: Ghostbusters #1



Although the Ghostbusters films were  released during the summers of 1984 and 1989, respectively, the characters have long been associated and celebrated around Halloween, so it's only appropriate that IDW Publishing release the first issue of their new Ghostbusters comic at the start of the season.  IDW has held the comic book license for the Ghostbusters for a few years now, and has released several miniseries since, but this is the company's first attempt at an ongoing with the franchise.  How does it hold up?  Find out now!

The issue opens up with a concise description of each of the four paranormal experts in case anyone is unfamiliar with them (which I find impossible to believe, but OK), but the sequence turns out to be a dream taking place in the mind of Ray Stanz (Dan Akroyd's character).  At the end of his dream, he is told by a herald (in the image of Blues Brother John Belushi, a nice touch) that "The Third is Coming."  What "The Third" is remains to be seen. Meanwhile, an unnamed New Yorker is attacked by a ghost through his bathroom mirror, a ghost which also briefly appears in a mirror in Ray's bedroom after Ray awakens from his dream.

Whatever it is, it is very involved with Ray, as Egon takes a scan of his brain and finds a great deal of unusual activity.  Ray, it is assumed, is the conduit through which the next great villain will tether itself to the boys.



A subplot involves Winston taking Peter to investigate a young boy's claim of haunting in his tenement; the boy is the nephew of Peter MacNicol's character from the second film.  When Winston and Peter arrive, the building is covered in green slime.  As they stake out the building, they encounter a spectre very familiar to Ghostbusters fans.  Finally, a three-page backup story sets up former EPA adversary Walter Peck as the new head of a government oversight department in charge of paranormal investigators such as the Ghostbusters, which I'm sure will cause grief for the guys down the road.

I was pleasantly surprised by the issue.  The characterization of the Ghostbusters and Janine is spot on; no one does or says anything out of the ordinary for them.  At the same time, writer Erik Burnham doesn't try to do caricatures of Bill Murray or Dan Akroyd either; the characters are on display here, not the actors. The story has a good balance of supernatural happenings, characterization, and gives you plenty to take in while leaving you curious to see what will happen in the next few issues.

The artwork by Dan Schoening (illustration) and Luis Antonio Delgado (coloring) is cartoon-like in a good way, being expressive while still holding a faint resemblance to the live action characters we know and love.  And except for one instance of mild innuendo and the appearance of the word "ass," this is fairly suitable for younger audiences.  If you're a solid Ghostbusters fan like myself, I recommend IDW's Ghostbusters #1.

Ghostbusters #1 retails for $3.99.  To find a comic shop near you, go to Comic Shop Locator.  Thanks!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV-Movie: Dark Night of the Scarecrow


Today is a particularly fun post for me, as I get to comply with two different memes at once.  In additon to participating in the Countdown, I'm also a part of Tuesday's Forgotten/Overlooked, in which many blogs write about a lost/forgotten/ignored/obscure movie, TV show, or music recording of the past and bring it to light.  My selection for this week fits both Tuesday's Forgotten and the Countdown perfectly!

Dark Night of the Scarecrow was a TV-movie that aired on CBS on October 24, 1981.  Charles Durning stars as a mailman for a small rural town who looks disdainfully at the relationship between Bubba, a mentally challenged man, and a young girl named Marylee.  When Marylee appears brutally attacked, he and other townsfolk believe Bubba has raped and tried to kill her.   In fact, she was attacked by a pack of dogs from which Bubba saved her.

Bubba tells this to his mother, who has him disguise himself as a scarecrow to hide from the angry mob.  His ruse is discovered, and the mob shoots him to death while he hangs in the field in his disguise, where he's left for dead.

It's then that the deceased Bubba exacts his revenge...

To see how he does this, check out the film on You Tube here:









The movie is readily available on DVD and will be available on Blu-Ray next Tuesday, October 11th.

Countdowners: for more Tuesday's Forgtten glory, click here. Tuesday peeps, for more great stuff from the Countdown to Halloween, click here.

Thanks everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween TV Commercials 2011

Welcome back to the Countdown to Halloween. Saturday's post was just an introduction into the season with a small variety of clips to warm you up. Today we start full out, as usual, with some fun TV commercials that are either for Halloween products or commericals that have a horror or spooky theme.

First I have a commercial for Easter Seals' Halloween coupons, presented by Countdown favorite Vincent Price. He is still sorely missed today.



Next up is a Dunkin Donuts commercial that I've wanted to showcase for  years, but couldn't find it until now. You try eating Munchkins with lobster claws!
I especially like the apparent boredom the patrons are experiencing at the party. I've been to a couple of those myself.



I never knew Paas made Halloween make-up kits. See, the Countdown is educational as well as entertaining!



Happy Pails!



When you need a marshmallowy breakfast cereal, what you gonna eat? GHOSTBUSTERS!



When encountered by a werewolf, don't worry if you don't have a silver bullet, just have a Halloween meal from Burger Chef handy (never mind that Burger Chef is out of business).



Finally, here is another commercial in a series that I posted last Halloween. Frankenstein's monster isn't a killer, he's just in need of Osteo Bi-Flex for his achy joints.



See you tomorrow for more Halloween goodness!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Countdown to Halloween 2011 Opening Ceremonies

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to the 2011 Countdown to Halloween at Me and You and a Blog Named BOOOOOOOOO!  My name is Brian, but you can call me Phillyradiogeek, and I'm extremely happy to have you here.  For longtime and returning readers, thanks for coming back, and for new readers, welcome!  I hope you stay around once the countdown is over.

This is my third year participating in the Countdown, which gets better and better each year.  I'm honored to be accepted into this spooky camaraderie of crazies who, like me, love to blog about  Halloween.  Here at Me and You, there will be chills, thrills, and fun for both the young and young at heart.

If I could please ask you a favor, at any point during or after the Countdown, please check out my reader survey along the right of the blog and let me know what you think about it.  I'm always looking to improve it, and the best way for me to do that is to ask you what needs improving.  Thanks!

So, without further ado, let the Countdown to Halloween begin!




Friday, September 30, 2011

DC Comics: More Quick Looks

This is the last week of the DC Comics relaunch, and what a month it's been! The move, whether considered good or bad by comics fans, is certainly a bold one, and only time will tell if it was the right one commercially. But as for the comics themselves, how did they turn out? Let's see!


This is the kind of experience you want from a Batman book!  Action, detective work, humor, intrigue, characterization, and a great cliffhanger.  A great #1 issue for new and longtime readers alike!  
Again, a great first issue for the most iconic of all superheroes.  Packed with both action and words--a whole, whole lot of words--I loved this one as well.  I enjoyed this much more than Action Comics. A great book!

Catwoman, while certainly not for the kids, was a fine first issue with gorgeous art from the excellent Guillem March.  I'm interested to see where Selina goes in this series.


Wonder Woman was a title I had great trepidation for, and it was warranted.  Despite writer Brian Azzarello's wish to write the title as a horror story, that's not what I want to see Diana involved in.  She's a superhero.  I'll be passing on this one.

I've never read an Aquaman comic before, but this was a fine one to start with.  Great art, and an Aquaman out to show both the humans in the story and real-life comic fandom that he's a DC big leaguer deserving of respect.  He's earned mine.

Voodoo #1 (image not available): an interesting issue to be sure, again with great art, but with so many comics out there, not one I'm on the edge of my seat to read any further.  Still, this is an interesting title for sci-fi fans.

Batman The Dark Knight #1 (image not available): See my review of Batman #1 above: think of the polar opposite and that's my review of this title.  The less said, the better.

That's the end of my look at the new DC Comics, and it's what I expected: a pretty mixed bag of great, awful, and in-between.  To decide for yourself, look for your local comic shop at http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ or buy a digital copy for your eReader or Smartphone at http://www.comixology.com/.

Please come back tomorrow for the Countdown to Halloween!  The host blog displays all the participating blogs' links at midnight tonight.  There are over 200 of them at last count, but please check out as many as you can (including this one, of course) throughout the entire month of October.  It's a great deal of fun, and that's what Halloween's all about, right?

See you then!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm


It's Tuesday, and that means another forgotten/overlooked/just plain good TV series, movie, or music. Today, since I've been in a DC Comics mood this month, I present the animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

This was released on Christmas Day 1993, and is set in the same universe as the wonderful Batman: The Animated Series. Here, Batman (voiced by the popular Kevin Conroy) investigates the new villain Phantasm, who is knocking off Gotham's mob bosses. Who is he, and what, if anything, does the Joker (the excellent Mark Hamill) have to do with it? Mix in an old flame of Bruce Wayne (played by Dana Delany) and you have an intelligent, beautifully animated film that beats most live action Bat films.

Here is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. The last couple minutes are missing, unfortunately, but you can surmise what happens.  I also had to change YouTube accounts at one point, so there is some footage overlap. Thanks!







Monday, September 26, 2011

The New DC Comics: Quick Reviews

Hey everyone! Welcome to a new week, and when it's over, a new month.  That new month would be October.  And do you know what that means?

THE COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN IS ALMOST HERE!!

That's right.  For my third straight year, I will be participating in the multiblog event in which we all post a Halloween item per day (or as close to it as we can get) up until All Hallow's 'eve.  It's a wonderful event that I hope you take part in, if not as a blogger, then at least as a reader.

But first things first...

I've been lax in my reviews of some of the new titles coming out of the "new" DC Comics, and I'd like to get to as many of them as I can between now and the Countdown.  These will be kept shorter than my previous reviews, so without further ado, here they are.


Justice League International #1: What a pleasant surprise this was! As decompressed as Justice League #1 was, this was fast-paced, action-packed, and set things up quickly but fluidly.  We were given the entire team lineup, their first assignment, immediate internal conflicts, and a adventurous cliffhanger in just the first issue.  There is nothing groundbreaking or overly dramatic here, but that's exactly why I loved it.  It was just good ol' fashioned superhero comics, which we need more of these days (not everything has to be The Dark Knight Returns).  As disappointed as I was starting to get in the new titles, this one came at just the right time.  My 2nd favorite title so far!


Swamp Thing #1: I've never read a Swamp Thing comic before, so I thought now was the perfect time to try one.  The art is very good, and the story, while a slow burn until the end, was interesting.  However, there wasn't anything here that hooked me and kept me on the edge of my seat.  This was certainly not a bad comic by any means, but I wasn't competely wowed by it either.  I may not stay with this one much longer.


Batwoman #1: OH HELLS YEAH!!  This was the one I was looking forward to the most, and it didn't disappoint.  This title, delayed for nearly a year after it was first announced, is fantastic from start to finish.  This may not have been the best jumping on point for those who haven't read the character before (as the story wasn't written with the line-wide relaunch in mind), but it gives you just enough of what you need to know.  The character is fascinating, the villain creepy, and the artwork?  Just Google "JH Williams Batwoman" and see for yourself.  Highest possible recommendation!!

Supergirl #1: I'm apprehensive about the reboot of Supergirl, as she was already in a great place creatively before the DC relaunch, thanks to writer Sterling Gates's great work on the character, turning her from an insecure, confused teen girl into a compassionate, confident young woman by the end of his run.  Unfortunately, they are starting from scratch again here, which is a shame.  However, this issue is a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Supergirl, as the issue chronicles her landing on earth and her confusion as to what's happened to her and where she is.  The artwork by Mahmud Asrar is very good, and the story, while not much happens, is intriguing.  I'm curious to see what happens next, which is all you can ask from a #1 issue.

I'll have more on the DC relaunch later this week.  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Comic Book Review: Batgirl #1


Peering once again at the newly relaunched line of DC Comics, today I turn my attention to a title I was particularly looking forward to, Batgirl #1.  This was a bigger deal than other titles because this is the debut of the newly unparalyzed Barbara Gordon, who lost her ability to walk due to events in the one-shot comic Batman: The Killing Joke, my alltime favorite comic story.

Unfortunately, my curiosity as to how Barbara regained her ability to walk is still a mystery.  Writer Gail Simone has apparently decided to keep the reason secret for awhile longer to add to the interest of the story, a decision that I believe is a mistake.  Barbara has been wheelchair-bound for 20 years, and I believe to announce with much fanfare that she will walk again and then not reveal the reason in the first issue is a disservice to the reader.  My disappointment in this decision severely limited my enjoyment of the issue.

This is a shame, because despite that, there is much to enjoy here.  Batgirl gives some punk villiains a good ass-kicking, there is a tender scene between Barbara and her father, Commissioner Gordon, and a quirky new roommate for Barbara is introduced that could provide leaded levity in future issues.  I also enjoyed the artwork by Ardian Syaf quite a bit, especially her newly designed costume.



However, the omission of Barbara's recovery was such a blow to me that the issue was difficult to enjoy.  I will try the next issue, but if more substance isn't given as to Barbara's "miracle" (as Barbara calls it), I likely won't be back for issue #3.

Find your local comic shop at http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ or buy digital comics for your computer, iPad, or iPhone at http://www.comixology.com/.

Thanks!

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