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11 Still-Great Mel Gibson Films That Never Fail to Entertain

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects posted 11 Still-Great Mel Gibson Films That Never Fail to Entertain.  Hunter focused on Gibson in starring roles eliminating movies like Expendables 3 which, as you probably guessed, I thoroughly enjoyed.  Surprisingly, Braveheart didn’t make Hunter’s list.

So, using just the films selected by Hunter, here are my top three Mel Gibson films…

  • Lethal Weapon 
  • The Road Warrior
  • The Patriot

Man, it was tough not including Payback.  And I’ve yet to see Blood Father (and have a strong suspicion that it will be right up there once I do.  What’s really crazy is I’ve owned the blu-ray since last October!)

RIP – Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton died today from complications from surgery.  Mr. Paxton was just 61.

I first took notice of Bill Paxton in his role as Chet in Weird Science.  Not long after that I realized that I’d seen Paxton in small but memorable roles in Streets of Fire and The Terminator.  Paxton followed Weird Science with a small role in Commando.  He then landed his breakout role as Private Hudson in Aliens.

Paxton went on to a have a career that spanned over 40 years appearing tv shows and movies.  A few of my favorite Bill Paxton performances include:

  • Weird Science – Chet
  • Aliens – Private Hudson
  • Near Dark – Severen
  • Tombstone – Morgan Earp
  • True Lies – Simon
  • Twister – Bill
  • A Simple Plan – Hank
  • Frailty – Dad Meiks

Paxton also appeared in Miami Vice, Next of Kin, Navy Seals, Predator 2, One False Move, Trespass, Apollo 13, Titanic, Mighty Joe Young, U-571, Spy Kids 2 & 3, Frasier and so many other shows and movies.  He was currently starring in the tv series Training Day.  Anything Mr. Paxton appeared in, he made better.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bill Paxton’s family, friends and fans.

The Old Guard – “It’s ‘John Wick’ Meets ‘Highlander'”

Forrest Helvie recently interviewed Greg Rucka and Leando Fernandez about their new 5 issue mini-series The Old Guard.  I was sold when Rucka described the series as…

… it’s John Wick meets Highlander. It has bullets and swords, but it’s meant to be a fun, pulpy adventure.

That was enough to get me on board.

Source: News@rama.

Child 44 (The Child 44 Trilogy) by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 (The Child 44 Trilogy) by Tom Rob Smith

First sentence…

Since Maria had decided to die her cat would have to fend for itself.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

1953.  Soviet Russia. Leo Demidov, a young decorated war hero, now an idealistic security officer, is beginning to see the hypocrisy of the Soviet government.  Because all are equal there will be no crime.  Murder, especially is a symptom of Western corruption.  Soviet murderers like all criminals must be mentally ill.

When Leo looks into the case of a boy supposedly killed when struck by a train, he discovers the boy may have been murdered by a serial killer of children.  Told to back off, Leo refuses and finds himself at odds with not only his fellow officers but higher ranking Soviet officials.  Soon enough Leo and his wife are under investigation and from there the book really takes off.

To say more would deprive the reader of a great ride.  Child 44 has more twists and turns than any book in recent memory.  Tom Rob Smith has created a page turner that shocks, surprises and thrills.  I loved every page of it and look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

 

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Ken Meyer Jr.’s Ink Stains 42: Steranko, Adams, Black and More!

If you’re a fan of fanzines, then you’ve got to check out Ken Meyer, Jr.’s monthly column Ink Stains.  Each month Ken (who is an amazing artist) posts… well, let’s let Ken explain…

I have a collection of over 200 fanzines from the 60’s-80’s that I plan to scan and talk about, one at a time. I hope to have some of the participants answer a few questions. Many of those participants are established comics professionals now, while some have gone on to other things. I will show a few snippets from each zine and give you a link to download a pdf of the whole thing, which I hope all of you will do!

For Ink Stains 42, Ken took a look at Collector issues 16, 17, 18, 19, 21 from 1969-1971.   Edited and published by Bill G. Wilson.

I’d never seen issues of Collector before reading Ken’s columsn.  The issues are full of the stuff that fanzines were known.  These issues feature:

Collector 16 features –

  • a Don Newton Batman cover
  • Sketches by Steranko, Giordano, Buckler, Adams
  • Photos of comic legends [Adams, Kane, Frazetta, and more]  at an early convention.
  • Tons of fan art

Collector 17 features –

  • Don Newton interview, art and photos of Don and his studio
  • Tons of fan art and articles

Collector 18 features –

  • Shazam cover by Bill Black (earliest art I’ve seen from my buddy)
  • Bill Black pin-up of Green Lantern
  • Ad for Bill Black’s Paragon fanzine!
  • Fan art and articles

Collector 19 features –

  • Joe Sinnott Thing sketch
  • Sketches from Steranko/Sinnott, Gene Colon, Bill Black and Steve Ditko
  • Fan art and articles

Collector 21 features –

  • Art from Dan Adkins, Don Rosa and Tom Sutton
  • Fan art and articles

Ah, the memories of the glory days of fanzines.  Thanks to Ken Meyer, Jr. for making these available!

Better Dead: A Nathan Heller Thriller by Max Allan Collins

Better Dead: A Nathan Heller Thriller by Max Allan Collins

Publisher: Mysterious Press

First sentence…

I was there when the Commies took over.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

 

Better Dead is actually two interconnected novellas.

In the first Nathan Heller is hired to find evidence to exonerate Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a married couple sentenced to die for providing Russia with secret information on how to build nuclear bombs.  Senator Joe McCarthy, who is leading the hunt for American Commies, wants Heller to serve as a double agent and provide him with whatever information Heller learns about the Rosenbergs.  Before long Heller is on the wrong side of government agents and gangsters and a possible death sentence of his own.

In the second story, Heller learns about government-funded mind control experiments on unknowing subjects from a scientist who has a change of heart.  When the scientist turns up missing, Heller knows that he’s next up unless he can figure a way out.

I’m a huge fan of Max Allan Collins’ Nate Heller series.  Heller is a fictional detective who finds himself in the middle of real crimes.  Heller ages as the series progresses and fiction is mixed with extensive research and historical fact.  It’s fun watching Heller interact with famous (and infamous) folks right out of our history books.  Equally enjoyable is Collins’ take on the crimes and what may have really happened (if it is not as we’ve been taught).

In Better Dead Heller interacts with Joe McCarthy, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Roy Cohen, Bettie Page, Bobby Kennedy and others.  I also like that Heller in these outings is a bit more hardboiled.  Perhaps it’s the decade.

Better Dead is another great addition to the Nate Heller legacy.  I’m hoping for more!

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12 Things You Might Not Know About “Big Trouble in Little China”

Cheryl Eddy and io9.com present 12 Things You Might Not Know About Big Trouble in Little China.  Here are three of my favorites…

3) Jack Burton’s Insane Boots Were Kurt Russell’s Idea
Though the Big Trouble book showers rightful praise on costume designer April Ferry, Russell says he had a hand in selecting his character’s distinctive footwear. He had Jack Burton’s “funky, high-top moccasins” specially made in Aspen at a shop he happened to know about.

5) The Actor Playing Rain Had No Idea He Was in a Comedy
Peter Kwong tells the authors that his scenes as Rain, one of the villainous Lo Pan’s well-armed lieutenants, were so intense that he was under the impression that Big Trouble was merely “an action-adventure with a mysterious ghost story.”

It wasn’t until he filmed his last-act fight—and noted Dennis Dun’s over-the-top eyebrow raise at a key moment during their battle—that he realized the movie was actually a comedy that also happened to have action-adventure and mystical elements. Later in the book, Kwong reveals that his luxurious long wig, which was specifically designed to look like those traditionally worn in Chinese martial arts movies, cost $3,000.

11) Making Lo Pan’s Glowing Skull Was Weirdly Easy
Actor James Hong plays two versions of iconic bad guy David Lo Pan: the ancient old man, and the younger sorcerer. His on-screen transformation comes courtesy of both a bust of Hong that was covered in clear, flexible skin, carefully painted to look like Hong in his old-man make-up, and by fading the lights off outside the bust while fading the lights inside the bust on. According to Johnson, the scene was completed in just one take.

Rabid (1977)

Rabid (1977)

Director: David Cronenberg

Screenplay: David Cronenberg

Stars: Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore and Joe Silver

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s make a low-budget horror movie!”

Tagline: You can’t trust your mother…your best friend…your neighbor next door…

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

In an effort to save Rose [Chambers], the victim of a motorcycle crash, a doctor performs experimental plastic surgery. Rose recovers with a taste for blood and her victims become zombies.

If you can survive the micro budget, bad acting and silly story then you might enjoy Rabid.

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Mike Tyson vs. James ‘Buster’ Douglas: An Oral History of Boxing’s Most Remarkable Upset

If you’re a boxing fan you won’t want to miss Eric Raskin’s excellent Mike Tyson vs. James ‘Buster’ Douglas: An Oral History of Boxing’s Most Remarkable Upset.

Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas, Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, the fighters’ trainers and others all weigh in on the events and fight that was the greatest upset in boxing and perhaps sports history!

 

15 Facts About “Scent of a Woman”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 15 Facts About Scent of a Woman.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. MATT DAMON, BEN AFFLECK, BRENDAN FRASER, AND O’DONNELL’S CASTMATES IN SCHOOL TIES ALL AUDITIONED FOR CHARLIE.
“The whole cast went down to audition for it,” Matt Damon remembered in a 1997 Vanity Fair profile. “So the way I found out about the part is, I’m checking in with my agent, to see if anything good has come in, and my agent says, ‘Here’s one with a young role, and . . . Oh my God, it’s got Al Pacino in it!’ So I go up to Chris and say, ‘Have you heard about this movie?’ and he says [curtly] ‘Yeah.’ So I say, ‘Do you have the script?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Can I see it?’ ‘No—I kinda need it.’ Chris wouldn’t give it to anybody.” Stephen Dorff also auditioned.

7. ‘HOO-AH’ CAME FROM PACINO’S GUN EXPERT.

“I was working with a lieutenant colonel who was teaching me the ways [of the Army],” Pacino recalled. “We worked every day, and he’d teach me how to load and unload a .45 and all this stuff. Every time I did something right, he’d go, ‘Hoo-ah!’ Finally, I asked, ‘Where did you get that from?’ And he said, ‘When we were on the line, and you turned and snapped the rifle in the right way, [you’d say,] ‘Hoo-ah!’ So I just started doing it. It’s funny where things come from.”

12. O’DONNELL’S BEST TAKE WAS A CAMERA OPERATOR’S WORST.
“The one scene where Chris O’Donnell cries, the focus puller missed and it was soft,” editor Michael Tronick revealed. “Normally, Marty [Brest] wouldn’t consider looking at something that’s imperfect that’s flatly out of focus. But it was the best take and we knew it. It had to be in the movie.”

10 Facts About “Night of the Living Dead”

Matthew Jackson and Mental_Floss present 10 Facts About Night of the Living Dead.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. GEORGE ROMERO WAS HEAVILY INSPIRED BY I AM LEGEND.

Armed with Russo’s flesh-eating concept, Romero went to work, pairing it with a story he’d been working on that “basically ripped off” Richard Matheson’s apocalyptic horror novel I Am Legend. Russo later recalled that Romero returned with “about 40 really excellent pages,” including the opening in the cemetery and the arrival at the farmhouse. Russo set to work on the rest, and Night of the Living Dead began to come to life.

8. JONES FOUGHT AGAINST AN ALTERNATE ENDING THAT WOULD HAVE SAVED BEN.

One of the film’s most famous elements is its grim ending, in which Ben, having survived the night, is shot by the sheriff’s zombie-hunting posse and thrown on the fire. At one point, a happier ending for the film was considered, but Jones fought it and won.

“I convinced George that the black community would rather see me dead than saved, after all that had gone on, in a corny and symbolically confusing way,” Jones said. “The heroes never die in American movies. The jolt of that, and the double jolt of the hero being black seemed like a double-barreled whammy.”

9. IT’S IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN BECAUSE OF A CREDITS ERROR.

Night of the Living Dead might be the most famous public domain movie of all time, but it was never intended to be. The Walter Reade Organization, which distributed the film, wanted to release it under the title Night of the Flesh Eaters, but lawyers representing the makers of 1964’s The Flesh Eaters threatened a lawsuit, so the title was changed to Night of the Living Dead. When the title changed, though, copyright notices were not added to the opening titles or to the end credits. Though the filmmakers have fought it in federal court, the film is still in the public domain.

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