Resin Heroes

Aeon Flux (1991) animation cell

Direct Beam Comms #25


Liquid Television

Aeon Flux

Aeon Flux

The MTV series Liquid Television aired its first episode 25 years ago this week, but if you’re under the age of 35 you’ve probably never heard of Liquid Television. I take that back — if you’re under the age of 35 AND you weren’t interested in things like animation back then you’ve probably never heard of this show.

Liquid Television was an anthology half-hour animated series that featured several different animated shorts in each episode. Some of these shorts were traditionally animated and others used puppets with some live action thrown in for good measure. Liquid Television was highly experimental and felt very much of its time of the early 1990s.

Now that I think about it, I didn’t care for most of the shorts that aired on Liquid Television. But at the time to get to the good stuff you had to watch a lot of episodes of Dog Boy.

When I say “good stuff” I mean shorts like ones for Beavis and Butt-Head and Aeon Flux.

Beavis and Butt-Head, one of the defining series for a generation that came of age in the 1990s, began “life” on Liquid Television as one of these shorts. I remember seeing “Frog Baseball” for the first time and not quite getting it. Looking at Beavis and Butt-head now it’s so crudely done and so gross and so over-the-top…on the one hand it seemed to be glorifying the stupidity of teens, but on the other hand it was so funny it was hard to not turn away.

After Liquid Television Beavis and Butt-Head was spun-off to its own series that ran for a whopping eight seasons, 222 episodes and a feature film. I remember teachers complaining about students doing the Beavis and Butt-Head laugh in class and for a while it seemed like everyone was replacing their The Simpsons t-shirts with Beavis and Butt-Head ones.

And Aeon Flux. I remember the first time I saw this show about a woman wearing dominatrix gear armed to the teeth in a futuristic setting with a seemingly unlimited supply of ammo (that so perfectly captured the aesthetic of The Matrix but was created nearly a decade before that movie) I was enthralled right from the start of the animated intro of Aeon’s eyelashes catching a fly ala a venus fly trap.

Aeon Flux was so good it made watching Liquid Television worthwhile on its own.

The story of Aeon Flux is hard to describe. It may take place in the future — on some far off planet. Or it may take place on the Earth. Aeon is trying to get something and is willing to shoot as many people who get in her way as it takes to get it. There’s not much dialog so the story is told through action.

Oh, and at one point Aeon is killed and goes to heaven where she gets her feet licked.

Aeon Flux did find some success after Liquid Television with a feature film version of the same name in 2005 that starred Charlize Theron, though honestly I could never bring myself to watch that.


Dominic Cooper as the Preacher

Dominic Cooper as the Preacher

The first episode of Preacher on AMC aired last Sunday and it was…interesting. I think. I read the comic book just before I watched the show so I went into it knowing certain things about the Preacher story. But even after having read the comic I wasn’t totally sure on what was going on in the TV show.

Now that I think about it I’m not sure there was a coherent story in the first episode at all.

There’s this preacher named Jesse (Dominic Cooper) who’s having a crisis of identity and a guy named Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) that sure seems to be a vampire and a woman named “Tulip” (Ruth Negga) who’s good at killing people. And all these characters have interesting “moments” from Jesse trying to lead his flock and failing to Tulip preparing for a big fight with two prepubescent helpers and Cassidy battling, what I’m assuming are, vampire hunters at 30,000 feet.

But as to an actual story to hang these interesting scenes off of — there simply wasn’t one here.

Maybe in future episodes there will be. But after having watched the first super-sized episode of Preacher with all it’s weird heightened reality glory — I’d have to say if it doesn’t develop some story quick I’m going to be done with Preacher in a few weeks.

Grade: D+


The Hateful Eight

Hateful-EightIt took me quite a while to catch up with Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie The Hateful Eight but last week I was finally able to do so. And after watching it, I’m glad I saw it at home and not in the theater, though maybe not for the reason you’d think.

The Hateful Eight follows eight stranded stage coach travelers snowed in by a blizzard at a rest stop in the mountains that’s equal parts classic western with bits of a snowy outpost where you’re never sure just who’s who ala The Thing (1982) and bloody projectile vomiting and something’s in the basement ala The Evil Dead (1981) thrown in for good measure. One of the travelers, John Ruth (Kurt Russell doing his best impersonation of John Wayne since Big Trouble in Little China) is transporting Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the leader of a vicious gang who Ruth’s delivering for a $10,000 reward to the authorities. But at the stop he becomes suspicious of the other six travelers also stranded there when things seem amiss and becomes convinced that someone at the stop is part of Domergue’s gang and is there to free her and kill everyone else.

Much of The Hateful Eight follows Ruth along with another bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to figure out just who’s who.

I really enjoyed The Hateful Eight. It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in quite sometime and yet another great film by Tarantino. It was great to see Kurt Russell back in action in a snowed in outpost like in The Thing, Russell even looks a bit like his character MacReady did in that movie with shaggy hair and a mustache and beard, and the movie kept me guessing right up until the end as to who’s who.

That being said, I’m not sure I would have liked The Hateful Eight as much as I did if I saw it in the theater. It’s nearly three hours in length and like much of Tarantino’s films features characters in rooms talking to one and other without a lot of action. And with how Tarantino shot the film in lots of medium shots without a lot of camera movement meant that it felt like I was watching a stage play.

And while The Hateful Eight does feature some time-jumps that Tarantino’s known for, it doesn’t have that many. So the great bulk of the movie takes place with these eight characters interacting within the rest stop/haberdashery. Which at home being able to pause the movie at certain points so I could get up and stretch my legs and even splitting the movie over two nights made what I would have assumed something that would’ve had me squirming in my seat ready to bolt to the exit by the start of the final credits in the theater to something much more enjoyable.

Grade: A

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1982: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan premiers
  • 1985: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock opens in theaters
  • 1990: Total Recall premiers
  • 1991: The TV series Liquid Television debuts on MTV 25 years ago
  • 1996: The last episode of Space: Above and Beyond airs 20 years ago