Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #81



TV

The Mist

I was a big fan of the 2007 movie The Mist written and directed by Frank Darabont from the story by Stephen King. But not too many others liked it as much as I did and The Mist didn’t do well at the box office. Even friends I showed the movie to on DVD didn’t much care for it. I think the ending to The Mist is to blame. That ending, which I won’t spoil here, is so extreme that I think it turned a lot of people off to the film.

Let’s put it this way, we live in a world where most horror movies follow the same formula. There’s a bad guy, and this bad guy is killing off characters in the movie one by one. They start with the least important character and work their way to the main character. Where, in the end, the main character gets the better of the villain and good wins the day. Only this doesn’t happen in The Mist. There’s no one main villain, there’s a few actually. There are these weird creatures that come out of the titular mist and there’s the character of Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) who’s religious fervor over what’s going on means that she’s as dangerous as the monsters out in the mist.

And because The Mist was unpredictable, didn’t follow convention and has a nasty ending where good doesn’t necessarily win the day meant that what could have been a big hit instead turned into a cult-classic.

The basic plot of the film is that after a storm hits a small Maine town, a weird mist descends that hides all sorts of dangerous creatures that are hungry and out for blood. A few survivors lead by David Drayton (Thomas Jane) hole up in a grocery store and try to wait out the events transpiring outside. But as the minutes turn to hours and the hours to days and the people inside start turning on one and other, Drayton must decide whether it’s safer in the store or outside in the mist.

What I find most ironic is that while the public didn’t turn out to see The Mist, they sure turned out a few years later for Darabont’s next project; The Walking Dead. There are so many similarities between The Mist and The Walking Dead that it’s ironic that The Mist failed so badly but The Walking Dead was, and continues to be, one of the most popular series on TV. There’s the whole apocalyptic angle with people cut off and having to fight for their lives from a weird force. There’s the brutality of the situation, with characters being killed off in some disturbing ways. There’s even some of the same cast shared between The Mist and The Walking Dead too.

What’s funniest, though, is now comes a new The Mist TV series that owes its existence more to the very successful The Walking Dead rather than the film version of The Mist.

Let me start by saying that everything I’ve seen from The Mist TV series promoting the season as a whole looks very good — like it’s going to be a lot of giant “things” in the mist horror fun. That being said — the first episode of The Mist was a big let down. For most of the episode it was more bad CW teen high school drama than Stephen King horror series. Almost all of the first episode is a drama around this Maine town where there’s a whole lot of characters, I suppose TV needs more characters than movies, but they’re all so broadly drawn caricatures of real people that none of them felt real. My guess is that the idea was to introduce these characters under normal circumstances before the mist comes to town and then when they start getting bumped off one by one it’ll have more of an emotional impact in future episodes.

But since no one felt too real I can’t imagine this will happen.

As much as I like to rag on The Walking Dead I have to say that the first season of the show did a great job of introducing characters. Right now there may be dozens of people on the show, but at the start there was only a handful really which meant we got a lot of time meeting each person. And in the first episode we’re only with the character of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) for a good part of the hour as he explores a post-zombie apocalypse wasteland. I think by having the loads of characters in The Mist and having the episode play out in normal life like a cruddy drama lessons the impact of the show. I mean, the show’s called The Mist but in the first episode we get maybe 15 minutes of the mist. The rest of the time it’s this fake family stuff.

If The Mist is comparable to any other show I’d have to say that show would be Under the Dome, another Stephen King series, and I mean that in a bad way. Like The Mist the characters of Under the Dome felt broadly drawn, suffering from the highs and lows of mania and just generally unreal that I bailed on that show after a few episodes.

Still, I have high hopes The Mist will be more The Walking Dead than Under the Dome, especially if the promos for the upcoming season are more representative of what the other episodes are really going to be like rather than just showing us the good bits like movie trailers tend to do.

Better Call Saul

This third season of Better Call Saul which wrapped up last week was better than ever. I think part of the reason the show is so good/I like it so much is that it’s headed towards some kind of conclusion, even if that conclusion is of the character of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) becoming Saul Goodman who later appears on the series Breaking Bad. As much as I might like the idea of having an open-ended story that a medium like TV provides, I have to admit that in practice its almost never a good idea. Too often series start out promising but go on a bit too long and instead of coming to a natural story conclusion drag out the story and grow stale/boring in their declining years. Series like Man Men, Game of Thrones or The Americans started off interestingly enough but went/have gone on a season or two too long and went from interesting series to watch to a slog to suffer through.

I think at least with Better Call Saul we know what the ending is with the character of Saul Goodman. So no matter what happens in the next (hopefully) few seasons, Better Call Saul is a series that’s headed to some sort of story conclusion that will lead to the events that transpired in Breaking Bad.

GLOW

I remember when GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, was a thing in the late 1980s. Then, professional wrestling, specifically the WWF, was quite the phenomena and it seemed as if everyone in my school watched wrestling and had their favorite characters from that show. I was never a big fan of wrestling but I had my favorite character. My favorite character was … well, I can’t quite remember who he was since I picked my fav by going to the toy store and buying the first WWF toy I could find and telling everyone that guy was my favorite.*

GLOW, on the other hand, was a bit different. First, it was on during the day after cartoons Saturday afternoon where I lived and rather than being almost all guy wrestlers as the WWF used to be was all female. What GLOW lacked in production values, each episode looked like it was shot on an $10 budget, they more than made up for in wild characters, over-the-top stories and a bit of titillation. For a time it seemed as if GLOW was somewhat popular but only for a little while. And just as quickly as the series emerged from the jurassic ooze of 1980s TV it was swallowed back up to disappear forever.

Well, kind’a forever. Now comes a new Neflix series called simply GLOW about the fictional formation of the league in the 1980s. Starring Alison Brie as Ruth, an actress in Hollywood who hasn’t acted in anything but is told of an audition where they’re looking for all sorts of different girls that turns into an audition for GLOW. The fictional GLOW shows the inner-workings and what was going on behind the scenes with the people playing the characters on TV each week.

One episode in and GLOW is a pretty interesting show. The first episode has some very strong characters who along with Brie include’s Ruth’s friend Debbie (Betty Gilpin) and GLOW producer Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron). It’s almost this weird, workplace show where the only people who tryout for this unproven GLOW series are, shall we say, “unique” individuals. Some, like Ruth, are looking for a way into acting, while others want to do something physical that’s a bit like a sports team since there was really nothing like that available to women in the 1980s. And some just had nothing else going on in their lives.

If you’re interested in learning more about GLOW I highly recommend the documentary GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling that’s very insightful.

  • After some eBaying, I’m relatively sure the figure I bought was of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

Comics

Predator: The Original Comics Series–Concrete Jungle and Other Stories HC

Out this week is a hardcover edition of the original Predator comics series that’s become known a “Concrete Jungle” over the years. This series written by Mark Verheiden who would have a hand in the Battlestar Galactica reboot and Daredevil TV series with pencils by the amazing Chris Warner whom I tried to emulate art-wise for years is probably the best Predator comic series out there. In fact, it was so good that many elements of it, from its location to many scenes, ended up in the film Predator 2.

Celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of one of the great action movies of all time with this collection of original comics sequels to the film. For the thirtieth anniversary of Predator, Dark Horse is releasing three now-classic tales in one oversized, deluxe hardcover volume designed to sit on your bookshelf beside the Aliens 30th Anniversary edition! Collects Predator: Concrete Jungle TPB (#1#4). Predator: Cold War TP (#1#4), and Predator: Dark River TPB

House of Secrets vol. 1

If the classic long-running DC comics horror series House of Secrets is remembered at all it’s because in its pages the character of Swamp Thing originally debuted back in 1971. And while a mint copy of the comic House of Secrets #92 might fetch thousands of dollars today, the story featured in this new hardcover collected edition, and many others, can be had for a measly $50.

Experience DC’s classic horror series in the retro collection as it was originally printed. Collecting HOUSE OF SECRETS #92–97, including the first appearance of Swamp Thing, this book includes contributions from writers and artists Len Wein, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Aparo and many others and sets the groundwork for classic DC Universe horror stories for years to come.

Toys

Predator 2 Lieutenant Mike Harrigan figure

Crozz Design has created a neat Lieutenant Mike Harrigan figure from the movie Predator 2, but they’re calling him “Savage Hunter Mike” since I’m assuming they don’t have a license to produce anything related to Predator. This incredibly detailed figure retails for around $160.

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1961: Mothra premiers
  • 1972: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes opens in theaters
  • 1975: Rollerball premiers
  • 1979: Moonraker opens
  • 1982: Blade Runner opens
  • 1982: Megaforce opens
  • 1987: Innerspace opens in theaters
  • 1998: Armageddon premiers
  • 1999: The last episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine airs
  • 2005: War of the Worlds (2005) opens in theaters



Direct Beam Comms #79



TV

Homicide: Life on the Street: The Complete Series

Shout Factory is set to release a DVD set of the entire 122 episode series of the classic show Homicide: Life on the Street for a retail of $120 July 4. Homicide: Life on the Street is one of the finest TV series ever and was a show that would go onto inspire other series like The Wire and The Sopranos years later. What I find funny is that 15 years ago I bought the first few seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street on DVD when those sets were retailing for around $100. Even today those original sets will still retail for around $90. That would’ve meant buying a complete set of Homicide: Life on the Street back then would’ve cost between $600 and $700, making $120 now seem like a bargain.

From Shout Factory:

Executive produced by Barry Levinson (director of Rain Man, Wag The Dog and Bugsy) and Tom Fontana (the creator behind HBO’s Oz), and based on the book Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets by David Simon (creator and executive producer of The Wire), Homicide: Life On The Street presented viewers with a gritty and realistic examination of detectives working the homicide division in Baltimore.

The Mist TV spot

Comics

DC Comics/Dark Horse: Batman vs. Predator Paperback

A newly reprinted edition of the Batman vs. Predator comics is out this week. I remember buying the first issue of Batman vs. Predator at a drug store on a spinner rack and the story of a Predator invading Gotham City with Batman being the only hope of stopping them has always been one of my favorites. Especially since Bats gets to wear one boss piece of anti-Predator armor in the comic.

From DC:

After investigating a series of gruesome murders, Batman realizes that these crimes aren’t perpetrated by anyone from Gotham City…or even this planet. Soon, the Dark Knight finds his real enemy—the intergalactic hunter called the Predator! This collection features BATMAN VS. PREDATOR #1–3, BATMAN VS. PREDATOR II: BLOODMATCH #1–4 and BATMAN VS. PREDATOR III: BLOOD TIES #1–4 and is co-published with Dark Horse Comics.

Movies

Predator

The first time I saw Predator I was 13 years old and it was the night before a family trip to Washington DC. My brother, a cousin and myself were camped out that night in the living room and were watching the movie of the week on HBO, which just so happened to be Predator. Even though I hadn’t seen that movie in the theater, nor would I have really had the opportunity to do so back then, I was aware of Predator from it being covered in magazines like Starlog and Fangoria. But still, when I actually saw the movie I was completely blown away. It was like the creators of the film had gotten into my teenaged head, found out all the things I was interested in and put them up on the big screen.

And, nearly 30 years later Predator is still one of my favorite films. Let’s put it this way — at various times I’ve owned Predator on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray and I’m sure that whatever the next thing is that comes along to improve on what’s come before be it 3D or holograms I’ll buy that too.

Predator is the rare movie that actually expanded the sci-fi genera, I think by not exactly adhering to just the sci-fi genera. It’s kind’a a war movie with a group of special forces soldiers lead by “Dutch” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) on a rescue mission in the jungles of Central America. It’s also kind’a a horror movie with the alien Predator gruesomely killing just about anyone who gets in its way. And it’s also kind’a a sci-fi movie with the Predator coming from space on a hunting mission here on Earth.

And it’s probably because Predator isn’t just a war movie, or isn’t just a horror movie or isn’t just a sci-fi movie that it’s stood the test of time and is still a beloved movie by fans of those generas to this day.

I think one thing that sticks in my mind about Predator all these years later are the interesting details. Like the way the Predator’s heat vision is shown on screen in big bright primary colors along with a weird “Bwrarrrrrrrrr” sound every time the Predator is looking about. And the details of each soldier in Dutch’s crew, how they’re all different yet all have the same strange professionalism as warriors in the jungle. They feel like guys who are probably screw-ups when they’re back at home in, say, Idaho but are at their best when they’re in the jungle and people are trying to kill them and vice versa.

I’ve seen Predator many times since that first time and everytime since I catch some new detail that I had missed before, which to me is the mark of a great movie.

That being said, looking back at this movie 30 years later there are a few things that make Predator almost a stereotypical 1980s action movie in that I think some elements in Predator would go and be used in future 1980s and 1990s action movies. From how just about all of Dutch’s soldiers have muscles upon muscles, a weightlifters physique not typically seen in soldiers, to carrying around more firepower than a small army would have, let alone six guys. The most famous weapon in the movie is the mini-gun, it’s the kind of firepower usually seen on jet fighters that fires hundreds of rounds a minute, that a) would be practically useless since the amount of ammunition it needs would make it impractical to haul through the jungle along with b) the weight of the gun that would mean someone would need to carry around hundreds of pounds of hot, unforgiving steel in order to fire the thing once for a few seconds of, “Brrrrrap!”

But in the confines of an action movie made in 1987 — it’s a wonderful “Brrrrrap!”

Akira

Back in the early 1990s I bought a copy of the animated movie Akira on VHS for $30, which with inflation is about $60 today. I was getting $5 a week in allowance and saved up any money I got from Christmas to buy Akira on tape I so badly wanted to see. And this version of the movie was cropped from widescreen and in “pan and scan” with the original audio dubbed from Japanese to English without subtitles. Still, for many years until I picked up a copy of the movie on DVD this was the only film version of Akira I’d be able to see. So today when I was wandering around Walmart and saw they had a 25th anniversary edition DVD of the movie for just $5 I was a bit flabbergasted. For a movie that originally took me many months to get — my original VHS order was lost in the mail and I had to convince the company I bought it from that I wasn’t lying and I really didn’t get it — to see a good quality version of the movie for that low price, just $2.65 in early 1990s dollars, was quite a surprise.

Black Panther teaser trailer

American Made trailer

Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars trailer

Toys

Aliens vs Predator figures

NECA is set to release some figures based on the original Aliens vs. Predator comic later this year. First up is a Predator known as “Broken Tusk” that’s the first Predator to have any personality other than “I kill things.” Also being released is a figure based on the character of Machiko Noguchi, a human who ends up joining a clan of Predators at the end of the series.

The Reading & Watch List

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1973: Battle for the Planet of the Apes premiers in theaters
  • 1982: E.T.:The Extra-Terrestrial premiers in theaters
  • 1983: Superman III opens in theaters
  • 1985: D.A.R.Y.L. premiers
  • 1987: Predator opens in theaters
  • 1989: Ghostbusters II premiers
  • 1990: Gremlins 2: The New Batch opens in theaters
  • 1993: Jurassic Park opens in theaters
  • 2008: The Incredible Hulk premiers in theaters
  • 2013: Man of Steel premiers in theaters



Sam Kieth Batman vs Predator cover art






Ray Lago Predator Race War cover



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Batman vs Predator TBP cover



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