Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #99


Stranger Things

These days, with how fragmented pop-culture has become, pop-cultural phenomenas are pretty rare. It used to be that once or twice a year some song, TV series or film would become a touchstone that would become a national focus for a time before we all moved onto something else. But with how pop-culture has become so expansive over the last decade with 400 new scripted TV series premiering every year, music for every taste existing in very specific channels, dozens of mega-budget movies being released each year and now competition from the likes of smart phone apps and social media — it makes for a landscape where it’s practically impossible for some pop-culture thing to break out of its specific marketing silo to phenomena status.

To me a “cultural phenomena” is some movie, TV series or song that practically everyone is aware of, even if they may have not ever seen or heard it. In the 1990s I was aware of the series Seinfeld, knew what channel it was on and what actors were involved even if I didn’t start watching it until the show was in syndication years after it became popular. And that goes for a lot of TV series that are cultural phenomena these days too. I’d say series like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are phenomena in that I’d assume just about anyone who watches TV on a regular basis is aware of these two shows, even if many people have never actually watched an episode of them.

So, in a TV landscape where there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of scripted and non-scripted TV series airing each week I’d say those two are only two shows that I’d think would be considered “pop-culture phenomena.” Well, actually, I think there’s now three with Stranger Things joining the cultural phenomena ranks last year with its breakout TV season everyone’s still talking about.

Before the first season of Stranger Things debuted on Netflix the summer of 2016 most of the talk online about the show was how much it looked like the works of Steven Spielberg. And not all in a good way. I got the sense that most people thought Stranger Things was going to be derivative and dull and were counting it out before a single episode streamed. But once the episodes debuted and the reviews started coming in things changed for the show. What was about to be written off as a lame attempt by Netflix creating a show about the 1980s for the nostalgia set became something that appealed to both those who were fans of the sci-fi and horror genera, those interested in nostalgia and those interested in great TV too.

What I think works best about the first season of Stranger Things, where kids from a small Indiana town uncover a conspiracy when one of their own goes missing and another kid appears out of nowhere, was the story. It’s cool that Stranger Things is set in this nostalgia friendly early 1980s, but the story of Stranger Things works no matter where/what time it’s set. Set Stranger Things present day in Florida and the story would still work.

And that’s why I was so excited to see the return of this show — to get back into the story of Stranger Things that has a palpable sense of mystery and danger and to find out what everyone’s been up to the last year after the devastating events at the end of the first season of the series.

In the second season, it’s about a year after the first and everything’s returned to normal in Hawkins. Well, mostly everything. Will’s (Noah Schnapp) returned to the fold except he’s still experiencing visions from the “upside down” where he was most of the first season, Mike’s (Finn Wolfhard) grades are falling since he’s still trying to find Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Nancy’s (Natalia Dyer) dealing with her friend Barb’s parents who’re selling their house to pay for a detective to search for her.

What I found most interest gin in the show is that the characters are paying the consequences from the first. Be it Will being rescued, but now being called “zombie boy” by kids who are scared of him, Mike’s life being turned around from everything he went through or even Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) finding that while things around Hawkins have been pretty normal, it’s about to get a lot less so.

In Stranger Things, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction and just because the kids of Hawkins drove the evil out doesn’t mean that a greater one isn’t going to try and get back in and is stronger than ever.


Night Force by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan: The Complete Series

One comic series that I’m totally unfamiliar with that sounds amazing is Night Force. This comic series began in the early 1980s and lasted a measly 14 issues before being cancelled. I’m assuming that since the series was out just before I started collecting comics, and since it was so limited, that’s why I never saw it in the 25¢ comic bins at the flea markets or antique shops I used to frequent. Of course, it could also be that at the time of the 25¢ back issue comics I was too busy hunting for an Incredible Hulk #181, The Amazing Spider-Man #129 or Iron Fist #14 to notice something as interesting sounding as Night Force.

One thing — the collected editions of this series go for between $30 and $40 for paperback and hardback cover respectively, but you can find complete runs of the original comics on eBay for less than $20 shipped.

From DC:

The creative team behind Tomb of Dracula reunited in 1982 for DC’s NIGHT FORCE! The series begins as the mysterious sorcerer Baron Winter assembles a team to take on an occult evil. But can the granddaughter of Dracula’s greatest foe, a powerful parapsychologist, and a timelost warrior from the court of King David tackle these threats?


Alien 3 Dog Alien Maquette

The Prime 1 Studio and CoolProps Alien 3 monster looks amazing. From the sickly brown color to its translucent dome and swappable heads with mouth closed and open, this statue stands more than two feet tall and certainly one to own. Unfortunately, “amazing” comes with a steep price as this item is set to retail for nearly $1,700.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1954: Godzilla opens in Japan
  • 1961: Peter Jackson, director of King Kong, The Frighteners and The Lord of the Rings films is born
  • 1988: They Live premiers
  • 2002: *28 Days Later…” Premiers
  • 2009: The TV series V premiers
  • 2010: The first episode of The Walking Dead airs

Direct Beam Comms #76


Alien 3 25th anniversary

I’ve written a lot about the movies Alien and Aliens over the years, but I don’t believe that I’ve ever really delved into the movie Alien 3. When I saw that movie was turning 25 this week I thought it would be the perfect time to muse about that film.

Today, Alien 3 is considered by the fans to be a noble failure. That movie was directed by David Fincher before he was David Fincher, so it’s got all the visual stylings we would come to expect from the director, but something about the movie is off. Alien 3 kind’a tries to return the Alien franchise to its roots — an alien vs a bunch of people sans any real weapons — yet the story is so uneven in places that it never ever is able to “get going” and never takes the audience for the ride we were expecting to go on after Aliens.

I’d agree that Alien 3 is the weakest of the first three alien movies and I remember the first time I saw it, on VHS the winter of 1992, I was disappointed by it. I remember thinking that Alien 3 wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t nearly as good as the other two.

Here’s the thing, though. I think that if Alien 3 had somehow not been a sequel, that instead it was the first film of an Alien franchise instead of third, it would be widely regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made warts and all.

Alien 3 has its own unique look and feel. If the esthetic of Alien was of “truck drivers in space” and Aliens a sort of 1980s yuppie mixed with military fatigues, I think the look of Alien 3 can best be described as depressed industrial. Everything from the colors of the environment to the uniforms the characters wear is a sickly, rust-colored industrialization gone amok brown. There’s absolutely no bright colors in Alien 3 and everything looks worn and used and ready to fall apart.

And this esthetic would carry over to Fincher’s later films like Se7en and Fight Club which are both considered great films partially because of this esthetic.

It’s true that the story of Alien 3 isn’t great, the movie’s famously trouble production explains a lot, but it’s still enjoyable. The story centers Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) crash landing on a far-off planet that’s a sort of prison complex for some very bad guys. And because she’s arrived with the alien spore Ripley and the prisoners must do battle to the death with the creature since help isn’t coming and it’s a winner takes all situation.

Now that I think about it, the craziest choice in Alien 3 is that you’ve got at the time one of the most beautiful and famous actresses on the planet with Weaver who in this film has a shaved head and looks more like one of the ragged male prisoners than one of the most recognizable actors on the planet which is a bold chose to say the least.

All of which makes for one interesting movie to watch even if the story’s uneven at best. But since Alien 3 is a the third film, and since two of the most beloved characters in Aliens are killed off in the opening minutes on-screen and since the story’s not perfect means that to most Alien 3 is seen as the first failure in the franchise rather than an interesting film. I do wonder if anyone now would go into Alien 3 without any expectations, which admittedly is impossible, what they would think of the film? Would they agree with Siskel & Ebert who gave the film two thumbs down or would they see something more in this now mostly forgotten film?

Star Wars 40th anniversary

I’m old enough to remember when the 10th anniversary of Star Wars was a big deal and now that the movie turns 40 this week I thought it would be interesting to post a few articles I’ve written over the years on the franchise.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, for years known simply as The Road Warrior in this part of the world, turns 35 this week. I saw Star Wars in the theater as many of my friends did, but I don’t know anyone who ever saw Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior there. I saw that movie many times edited for content on broadcast TV and I’m relatively sure I didn’t see the complete unedited version of the film until many years later on DVD.

Much like with Star Wars and Alien 3, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior is a part of a movie franchise that’s still going strong today.

War for the Planet of the Apes movie trailer

The Mummy trailer


The Art and Making of Alien: Covenant

Out this week is the obligatory “making of” book for the movie Alien: Covenant. From Amazon:

This official companion book explores all the major environments, creatures and technology that feature in this exciting new movie. It explores the intricate technology of the eponymous colony ship and its auxiliary vehicles, designs of the crew’s uniforms and weaponry, artwork of key locations and breathtaking alien art imagery in amazing detail. Packed with fascinating sketches, blueprints, diagrams, full-color artwork, final film frames and behind-the-scenes shots from the set, Alien: Covenant – The Art of the Film is the ultimate literary companion to this highly anticipated movie event.


Alien: Covenant

NECA has released photos of all its action-figures set to be released from the movie Alien: Covenant including the already shown Xenomorph, but new Neomorph as well as other monsters from the film.

The Reading & Watch List


Star Trek: Discovery series promo

The Crossing series promo

GLOW series promo

The Gifted series promo

The Orville series promo

Ghosted series promo

Black Lightning series promo

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1970: Beneath the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 1971: Escape from the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 1977: Star Wars premieres 40 years ago
  • 1979: Alien opens
  • 1979: Dawn of the Dead opens in theaters
  • 1981: Outland opens
  • 1982: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior opens in theaters 35 years ago
  • 1983: Return of the Jedi premiers
  • 1985: Trancers premiers
  • 1988: Killer Klowns from Outer Space debuts
  • 1990: Back to the Future Part III opens in theaters
  • 1992: Alien 3 opens 25 years ago
  • 1995: Johnny Mnemonic premiers
  • 1997: The Lost World: Jurassic Park opens in theaters 20 years ago
  • 1999: The last episode of the TV series Millennium airs
  • 2010: The last episode of Lost airs

Direct Beam Comms #30


Game of Thrones

The sixth season finale of the series Game of Thrones titled “The Winds of Winter” aired last Sunday on HBO and was pretty great. The episode finished a lot of on-going storylines of the series and set a path towards some sort of conclusion to the overall Game of Thrones story at some point in the near future.

If only the fifth and the rest of the sixth seasons had been as good.

lead_960During the last two seasons of Game of Thrones much of the multitude of storylines have essentially been stuck in place. Things would happen to the characters and they’d do things in reaction to them, but in the end they’d end up right in the same place they started in. The series seemed to have completely lost its momentum and didn’t seem to be headed anywhere I could discern. I’m not sure if this was because the show’s based on the popular book series, and the creators of the TV series were biding their time trying to stretch things out for the storyline of the books to catch up with the show, or if the series creators were trying to do their best at translating the story of the books to TV which meant a lot of the same stuff over and over again? Regardless, the last few seasons of Game of Thrones simply haven’t been as good as the first few.

That being said, “The Winds of Winter” seemed to do a lot to right the series’ course.

Over the years the main and secondary casts of Game of Thrones have ballooned to perhaps dozens of actors. And with a cast that big meant that some main characters were written out of the show for entire seasons while others would only get a few minutes of screen time each season.

“The Winds of Winter” seemed to have fixed those issues with many characters exiting the series while at the same time all the various storylines of the show that have played out independently for years now being brought together into a single arch.

All of which is great. While all those separate stories might have been cool in the beginning, as we slowly got more and more and more separate stories the series grew into this colossal, unmanageable beast that started to get hard to follow. I can’t tell you how many times my friend Michael had to key me onto who was who’s brother/sister/aunt/uncle and why I should be caring about them. But it seems now like things might have changed on the show for the better. Even if it means less of what makes Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones and more cues from things like The Lord of the Rings right down to how battles play out and how oaths are delivered.

Season 6: C+, “The Winds of Winter”: B+

Halt and Catch Fire

One of the best series on TV Halt and Catch Fire is set to return Tuesday, August 23 to AMC. They’re calling it a “late summer” return, but to me late August is the start of the fall TV season.


Alien observation

51d5c400496bfa693ee7d753745a91b0When we first meet the character of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien at the most she’s got a few months to live and at the least several weeks from her perspective. The events of Alien plays out over a few days and at the end of the movie Ripley goes into a frozen hyper sleep where she dozes for 57 years before being rescued. But from her perspective one second she goes to sleep and the next she’s awakened by her rescuers.

Those 57 years pass in a flash to her.

From the looks of her apartment, the fact that she has to go through legal hearings on the events that transpired in Alien and that she has enough time to get a license to use heavy machinery and work on the docks, I’d say the events of Aliens play out over the course of a few months. And again, she’s in hyper sleep on the way to Acheron with the marines and when she’s awakened I’d say that Aliens plays out over no more than a week’s time total after.

The same goes for Alien 3 — Ripley’s in hyper sleep after Aliens and is awakened on Fiorina 161 where the story plays out over the course of, again, maybe a week. And the Ripley after that in Alien Resurrection is a clone and doesn’t really count!

So from Ripley’s perspective the three original Alien trilogy movies take place over the course of the worse few months anyone’s ever experienced!

(BTW — you can thank me for it if the next Alien movie is called Alien Observation.)

Sully movie trailer

“I’ve got 40 years in the air, but in the end I’m going to be judged on 208 seconds.”

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1978: Battlestar Galactica (the original series) debuts in European cinemas
  • 1982: TRON opens in theaters
  • 1985: Back to the Future premiers in theaters
  • 1996: Independence Day opens in theaters

Alien 3 (1992) miniature puppet

Alien 3 miniature


What if Prometheus doesn’t have anything to do with anything after Alien?

I have a question; what exactly is the life cycle of the creature in the movie Alien? From the movies and to a lesser extent the Alien comic books I thought the life cycle was pretty clear, but after the events of Prometheus I’m not so sure.

The Alien Facehugger

The Alien Facehugger

In the original version of Alien to Aliens and even Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection as well as the  Dark Horse comics it seemed as if the alien was a creature native to some far-off planet in our galaxy that lived within some kind of natural ecosystem it was a part of.

The alien lived in a hive like ants or bees, built domes for protection at the center of which lived a queen that ruled the hive. In their natural ecosystem there were predators that preyed on the alien and vise versa.

The alien starts its life with the queen laying an egg. Some other unsuspecting creature is infected with an spore via a “facehugger” contained in the egg. Then, some sort of miniature alien is implanted in this creature via the facehugger. After a short time of incubation, a juvenile alien “chestburster”  literally erupts from the creature and eventually grows into an adult alien.

The Alien Chestburster

The Alien Chestburster

Sometime in the past time of the movies, a queen alien was taken from its home planet by other aliens possessing interstellar travel technology. These other aliens have become known as the “Engineers.” Somewhere in flight among the stars, these Engineers were overwhelmed by the alien, infected and their ship crashed on the world LV-426 which would be found by the crew of the Nostromo in the movie Alien. While exploring the crashed ship, crewmember Kane would find a hold full of the queen’s eggs, become infected himself and deliver an alien aboard the Nostromo in flight.

The idea of the egg, facehugger, chestburster and adult alien came from Alien. The idea of the hive and queen were from Aliens.

This all was cannon in the series until 2003 and the release of the director’s cut of Alien.

The grown creature of Alien

The grown creature of Alien

Here, a scene was added to Alien that fans had known about for some time. Characters of Dallas and Brett, who had been taken by the alien and presumed killed during the course of the movie, are found by Ripley hidden away in some darkened corridor on the ship. Both have been trapped and cocooned and are slowly being transformed into two alien eggs. Brett, who was captured first, is a long way gone and is almost totally turned into an egg. Dallas is a little less transformed and is coherent enough to beg Ripley to kill him, which she does.

An Engineer in Prometheus

An Engineer in Prometheus

The question of the crewmembers turned to eggs raises is what, if any, role does the alien queen play in things? Or, is this some sort of way of the alien “kick starting” a hive when no queen is present?

And again, even with this inconsistency (do queens make eggs, or are eggs transformed beings?) things were mostly fine until 2012 and Prometheus.

Prometheus explored the race of Engineers that were somewhat introduced in Alien and in the comics. Here, they were shown as seeding life on the Earth and using the far off planet LV-223, in the same system as LV-426, to house bunkers full of weird and dangerous bio-weapons. The crew of the ship Prometheus visits this planet and on exploring one of these bunkers one crew member is infected by black “goo” and another is sprayed with the blood of a worm also infected with this goo.

Infected crewmember Fifield in Prometheus

Infected crewmember Fifield in Prometheus

It takes some time but each begins to turn into something monstrous. One of these man-creature-things attacks the Prometheus and ends up killing several other crew members of the ship. Before turning, the other infected person has sex with scientist Elizabeth Shaw and impregnates her with something that starts out as looking like a fish crossed with an octopus crossed with a dildo but grows into a massive mostly octopus-looking thing. This thing captures one of the Engineers and implants something into him. This something grows much like the chestburster of Alien and when born comes out looking much like the alien of the original films abet with a few minor physical differences – different color, different jaw, etc.

What’s going on here? Are the things of the Alien films supposed to be different than the things of Prometheus, or are they supposed to be related? In some ways they seem to be related, but in others not so much.

I have a few theories:

The octopus-thing from Prometheus

The octopus-thing from Prometheus

The alien of the Alien movies and the creatures of Prometheus are both bio-weapons, but different if somewhat related ones. Maybe the alien is some natural creature the Engineers found on some far off planet and took some of the eggs of to use as one of their weapons? And maybe during one of these shipments of these eggs one got out, infected an Engineer which caused the ship to crash land on LV-426 en-route to LV-223?

Still, this doesn’t quite explain things. Like why does being “infected” cause the births of the alien from Alien and the octopus-thing infecting the Engineer in Prometheus? They seem too related to just be coincidence.



The “deacon” creator of Prometheus

It’s just that director Ridley Scott of Alien and director James Cameron of Aliens had different visions of the alien life cycle and that’s what we’re seeing play out on the big screen.

If you take out everything that happened after Alien in regards to the alien life cycle – mostly that a queen alien is the one who lays the eggs that creates little aliens – Alien fits nicely into the Prometheus mythos. With Ridley Scott, the alien is just another bio weapon that, like the creatures from Prometheus, are created by the Engineers. I think in Ridley’s mind the movies go Prometheus to Alien and everything else that’s happened after really isn’t his concern.