Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #111


The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story ***/****

After The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story debuted in 2016 and was a critical smash it wasn’t surprising that FX put another American Crime series on the fast-track. That show, which is still in the works two years later, was supposed to be about hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, but proved to be too complex so was shelved. Now, what was originally set to be the third series instead debuted last week as the second — The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

This time the true-crime angle is of spree-killer Andrew Cunanan (Darren Criss) who in the summer of 1997 murdered four men from Minnesota to Illinois to New Jersey before ending up in Miami Beach where he most famously shot and killed Gianni Versace (Edgar Ramírez) outside his home. The first episode of the series focused on Cunanan’s murder of Versace as well as flashing back in time to the early 1990s when we meet both the killer and Versace in their somewhat formative years.

I remember the summer of 1997 when the killings started it was news, but not top news. Then as things progressed it became headline news but after Versace was murdered networks the news outlets would break into their regular coverage to provide updates on the case, going so far as to broadcast live the raid of Cunanan’s final hideout on TV.

I really enjoyed the first American Crime series but think part of that was because the series was mostly focused on the trial of OJ Simpson and the media circus surrounding that and less about the actual murder. And while I can see a “media circus” element happening in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story there won’t be any trial component since Cunanan killed himself eight days after killing Versace.

Even though the series is titled The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story I suppose too much of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story will deal with Cunanan’s other murders as well as that above mentioned “media circus” that surrounded him and those events. I can’t imagine there’s enough story to justify ten episodes of just Cunanan and Versace.

Corporate **/****

The new Comedy Central sitcom Corporate debuted last week. The series is funny enough if it borrows maybe a bit too much from what’s come before in other similar corporation themed series. Like the beginning of Corporate is pretty much a direct lift from the “TPS reports” part of Office Space — here it’s being sure to CC everyone in on e-mails, but the gist if the joke is the same. In many ways too Corporate feels like a version of the British TV series The IT Crowd with the zany, slightly nutty and dangerous bosses with a dash of Better Off Ted’s weird corporate culture and faux corporation TV commercials thrown in for good measure.

There’s nothing wrong from borrowing from past series but I do have to question why an office themed TV series would choose to ape one of the best known skits from one of the most beloved office related films of all time? That just seems dumb to me. I think Corporate can turn into an interesting TV series if it’s ever able to shed the weight of what’s come before and create something new.


Incredible Hulk Epic Collection: Fall of the Pantheon

I had almost forgotten that I collected The Incredible Hulk comics in the early 1990s. I think I was collecting them since I was in awe of then Hulk artist Dale Keown at the time but even after he left the book I kept buying them because of the wonderful writing of Peter David with art by Gary Frank. Many of those David/Frank comics I loved so much are collected here with Incredible Hulk Epic Collection: Fall of the Pantheon.

From Marvel:

Hulk goes to Hel and back! First, Hulk and the Pantheon face a painful — and all too human — loss. But Hela herself soon claims the Hulk in an Asgardian underworld epic! Then, it’s the end of an era as the Pantheon is torn apart from within! Agamemnon stands trial, one among them falls and the Hulk’s rage transforms him into a savage…Bruce Banner?! While Doc Samson strives to save Bruce’s mind, Betty battles for her life — and the stage is set for a new status quo. In hiding and struggling to remain calm, the Hulk takes on Man-Thing, the Abomination and the Punisher! Plus: Hulk shares a symbiotic showdown with Venom and joins Hank Pym and the Wasp in a true Tale to Astonish!


The Movie Chain: #3: Strange Days (1995)

Last week: The Abyss

The Movie Chain is a weekly, micro-movie review where each week’s film is related to the previous week’s movie in some way.

All through the 1990s there was an excitement building about the turn of the millennium where we’d be leaving the 20th century and heading to the 21st where surly things would be great. One of the movies of the time that capitalized on this fervor was Strange Days. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and co-written by James Cameron of last week’s The Abyss, Strange Days takes place on New Year’s Eve 1999 and is a little too ahead of its time with its technology. In the movie Ralph Fiennes plays Lenny Nero, a dealer of black market videos that depict everything from porn to robberies. But these aren’t just regular old VHS tapes, in the 1999 of Strange Days these recordings give the viewer an immersive experience where they actually feel like they’re making it with a porn star or robbing a convenience store. The twist here is that one of these recordings accidentally captures the LAPD murdering a man, and the two cops that committed the crime will stop at nothing to destroy the recording. And all this is taking place around the turn of 1999 to 2000 with all the celebrations and craziness and hedonism that was happening in the world of Strange Days.

The technology of Strange Days is pretty cool, the device the the person wears to view these recordings is called a SQUID and looks pretty much just like a technological version of its namesake that’s attached to the person’s head. 23 years later we’re just starting to get to the technological level of what’s in the 1999 world of Strange Days.

Now mostly a forgotten film, Strange Days is a typical 1990s action-thriller that tried to look forward to what the future was going to be like and got some stuff wrong and some stuff right. Movies like The Net, Hackers and Johnny Mnemonic were all released alongside Strange Days and all dealt with many of the same ideas. I haven’t seen Strange Days for a while now but remember it liking it when it first came out.

I wouldn’t call Strange Days a cult movie, but director Kathryn Bigelow is known as the director of the cult film Near Dark and would go onto direct The Hurt Locker which would win six Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director as well.

Next week: “Who here has been in a helo crash before?”

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Cool TV Posters of the Week

Todd McFarlane Incredible Hulk drawing

The forgotten 1970s Doctor Strange movie

The release of the new Doctor Strange movie marks the eleventh movie from Marvel Studios that already includes films for characters like Thor and Captain America. While Marvel’s films have made literally billions upon billions of dollars, there’s a little secret that fans of comics know that most of the movie going public doesn’t — there was a series of films based on Marvel characters that were released in the 1970s that Marvel has wishes everyone would just forget about.

spiderman-vogueBack then, Marvel licensed several of their characters to studios in an attempt at creating TV properties. The first of these was The Amazing Spider Man in 1978.

Owing to the limitations of 1970s movie technology and smaller budgets for TV, Spider-Man, like all the other Marvel TV properties, began as a movie of the week. The original movie served as an origin story for the character of Peter Parker (Nicholas Hammond), here not a high school teen but instead his 20s, who’s bitten by a radioactive spider and is given superpowers he uses to solve crimes.

The original TV movie was popular enough that it would spawn two seasons of an The Amazing Spider-Man TV series from 1978 to 1979. Either I was too young at the time or I simply didn’t watch, but I have no memory of seeing the Nicholas Hammond version of Spider-Man on TV until the 1990s when, I believe, USA Network would air the series each year around Thanksgiving.

This 1970s costumed Spider-Man isn’t on screen very often since the movie/series mostly focuses on Peter Parker rather than Spidey. At times The Amazing Spider-Man is remarkably dull for a series based on a comic book.

2d780eb0acccb50fda93cab83ada551eThe Incredible Hulk would follow Spider-Man in 1978. Starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, The Incredible Hulk was the most successful of these 1970s Marvel TV series and ran some 80+ episodes as well as having several TV movies afterwards. Seemingly each episode of the series featured Bixby as David Banner always on the run from town to town trying to help some poor soul out of a bind before circumstances out of his control would cause him to Hulk-out (Ferrigno) and wreck some scenery before being forced to move on over dreary music and in the rain to the next town.

In 1979 two Captain America TV movies would debut with Captain America and Captain America II: Death Too Soon. This Steve Rogers (Reb Brown) is, no joke, a body-building artist who drives around in a van who’s given a serum which gives him super-abilities. Reb’s Captain America rides a motorcycle which rockets out of the back of his van and has a semi-transparent shield when he fights the bad guys.

I remember the Captain America TV movies being shown in syndication from time to time and these two movies are available on DVD.

If The Incredible Hulk were extremely popular and Captain America would get two movies, then the Doctor Strange TV movie must’ve drawn the short straw since it’s all but a lost film today.

drstrange19784Starring Peter Hooten in the title role, here Doctor Strange is a hospital psychiatrist who’s called to become the next “Sorcerer Supreme” in a never-ending fight against the evil forces of the universe — here personified by Morgan le Fay played by Jessica Walter later of Arrested Development fame.

It took me years to see Doctor Strange. As far as I can tell the movie only ever aired on TV a few times and while it was released on VHS Doctor Strange has so far never been available on DVD or a more modern format*. I finally saw it on a bootleg VHS tape taken from the official VHS release a few years ago.

And I can see why Doctor Strange wasn’t turned into a series — we spend a lot of time with the good doctor as a hospital physician before we get to Doctor Strange the mastery of the mystical arts. And even when we get to him a lot of the movie features Strange battling le Fay on a black velvet background void that features a soundtrack that’s part disco and part new wave.

I can only imaging the latest incarnation of Doctor Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch will easily outdo the cheesy 1978 version of Doctor Strange and will one day be available on DVD too.

*Actually, Shout Factory has released a copy of Doctor Strange on DVD this week “remastered from original film elements.”

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