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Craig Zablo Posts

Halloween Fun!

Posted in Books, Movies, and Zombies

Man, I love Halloween!

As we get closer to the big night, I find myself drawn to scary books and movies. For some reason even more so than usual this year. Maybe it’s because there are so many good ones available.

I just finished reading Steve Niles’ Dial M for Monster. Dial M is a book of short stories featuring his monster hunter, Cal McDonald. You’ve heard me praise Niles’ work before and this book is no exception. I love everything about the world Niles has created for Cal [and I’m especially glad I can safely visit without fear of vampires, werewolves, fiends or other creatures coming after me!]. I’d suggest that you start with Guns, Drugs and Monsters [the first novel in the series] and then follow it up with Savage Membrane [the second].

If you’d like to get a taste of Niles’ work before commiting to a novel, then by all means check out 30 Days of Night. This award winning comic series [with art by the extremely talented Ben Templesmith] is being developed into a feature film produced by none other than Sam Raimi! Why wait for the film? The graphic novel is available now and well worth every penny!

Changing gears just a bit… on Tuesday, one of my two favorite movies so far this year, becomes available! That’s right 28 Days Later is available Tuesday! Man, I can’t wait!

If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably a real horror fan. You probably already know that a Dawn of the Dead remake starring Ving Rhames is coming out next March. But did you know that
the trailer is available now? At first I didn’t think that a re-make of Dawn of the Dead was a good idea since the original trilogy [Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead] by George Romero are considered cult classics. But I did like the remake of Night of the Living Dead ]… plus Ving Rhames is starring… so why not? Plus, it’ll give me one more thing to love about Halloween!

Kill Bill Disappoints

Posted in Movies, and Z-View

I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarintino’s work. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are two of my favorite movies. From Dusk till Dawn is as well. [And yes, I know that Robert Rodriguez directed it!] I loved everything about the original trailer for “Kill Bill.” The look. The music. The stars. How could it miss?

 

Let me tell you how. [Minor spoilers ahead.]
“Kill Bill” starts off well enough. It begins with a scratchy, cheesy “Now For Our Feature Presentation” intro straight out of the drive-ins that I loved as a kid. There’s also the retro “Presented in Shaw-Scope” title card, the “Revenge is a dish best served cold” Klingon quote, and the Sonny Bono song, “Bang, Bang” playing over the credits. Yeah baby, Quentin was tapping in to everything that we loved about this genre from our childhood.
Then the movie starts with a bang. Literally. Uma Thurman is shot in the head and left for dead. But she’s not really dead… just in a coma for four years. And when she wakes up she must have her revenge. Great set-up.

The action is over-the-top and brutal. The first payback that we see is really well done. It has the right mix of Tarantino heightened reality, humor and action. Then we have a flashback to the hospital and this is where the movie starts to loose me. There are a couple of scenes with a red neck and Buck the orderly that just really push the envelope. And for some reason everything after that seemed truly excessive and redundant.
How many arterial sprays do we need to see? How many limbs chopped off? But before we get to that gore we have to sit through an anime cartoon [which is pretty well done but again, very gory], a boring dialogue about tea, and discussion about why Uma needs a specific man to make her sword.When I left the theater, I was disappointed. I had been hoping to see a really fun, really exciting revenge film. To make matters even worse, we don’t get to see how everything turns out, since “Kill Bill, Volume 2” doesn’t come out until February. The funny thing is, I didn’t hate the movie. I’m not sure I even disliked it. I was disappointed… but disappointed enough not to see the rest?

I guess we’ll know in February.

“Kill Bill”

Rating: 3 out of 5

Underworld

Posted in Horror, and Movies

I saw Underworld today [which fits right in with our monster movie theme of late].

Underworld tells the story of a centuries old war between vampires and werewolves. It has tons of action and effects but feels like it could have been shortened a bit. Also, with Underworld, the more you think about it, the more you find to question. It’s fun while it’s going on, but doesn’t hold up under examination. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, yet if you like this sort of thing, then it’s probably the sort of thing that you’ll like. ; )

On another note, the trailer for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre played before Underworld. I haven’t seen the orginal in years [and didn’t really care for it when I saw it], but this remake looks interesting… As does Gothica with Halle Berry [both of which also fit our continuing horro theme].
“Underworld” rates a C

House of the Dead

Posted in Horror, and Movies

Well, it seems I’m not alone in my love of horror movies. That being the case, I thought I’d tell you about another monster movie that you may be interested in.

It’s called House of the Dead and looks like something that I’d have caught as the second feature back in the day of drive-ins. [Man, how I miss those days!]

House of the Dead has an interesting trailer and a classic plot. A group of young people find themselves stranded on an island with a group of zombies that want to kill / eat them.

If I go to see it, am I expecting a classic? No. An award-winning film? No. A scary good time? Yeah. And what more should you ask from a drive-in movie?

Frankenstein, Wolfman & Dracula: Together Again!

Posted in Horror, and Movies

As most of you know, I love a good horror movie. I’ll watch most any kind of horror film from the giant bug movies of the 50’s to the unstoppable serial killers of recent days. But my favorite type of horror movies are ones with great monsters.
Especially the classic monsters.

Frankenstein.

Dracula.

The Wolfman.

These are the big three. The kings of the hill. The monsters that other monsters aspire to be.
And next summer they’ll all be in the same movie!

Van Helsing stars Hugh Jackman as the famed vampire killer, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.

In the screenplay, written and directed by Stephen Sommers, Van Helsing goes to Transylvania to hunt down and kill Count Dracula, and finds himself up against the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster as well. How cool does that sound?

Cool enough that even though the movie doesn’t come out until May of next year, they’re already planning a tv series “based” on the idea and leaving the door open for sequels.

And that’s just great news for horror movie fans like me!

J-Ville Trip Report

Posted in Art, Comics, and Con Report

Last Saturday, John Higashi, John Beatty and I drove up to Jacksonville, Florida to attend a benefit for the Tourette Syndrome Association sponsored by Big City Comics. Several comics pros were to be on hand signing autographs and sketching. There were a lot of other activities scheduled and John Higashi had his eye on a couple of pieces in the art auction.

The drive up was great. John H. was at the wheel, Beatty was in the back seat doggin’ John H’s amazing collection, and I got to ride shotgun, laughing at all of the nonsense. We made it up in record time, or maybe time just flew by because we were laughing so much.

When we arrived things were just getting set up. A couple of tables had been set up inside, so we joined Don Perlin (Marvel Comics), Duck Edwing (MAD Magazine), Ed Hall (political cartoonist), and Jason Sobel (Fuzzy Dice Studios). Robert Smith was out in the crowd set up to do caricatures.

John H. wanted to speak to Mr. Perlin about a Star Wars comission, but told me that I should try to commission him up for a Stallone sketch first. Unfortunately for both of us, Mr. Perlin had a line already. But sitting directly in front of me was Ed Hall. I really enjoy his work and so I approached him about doing a Stallone piece. He agreed and the result was really cool. I’ll post it with next weekend’s update. Ed was amazing in that he was able to draw so many caricatures of famous people without any reference.

Seeing that I had popped for a piece, John H. approached Duck for a Spy vs Spy commission. John asked for a panel gag and offered four times the going rate for a sketch. Duck agreed and then to our surprise said, “You know I’m the writer for the strip, not the artist, right?” To John‘s credit, he said, “that’s cool” and went ahead with the commission. Duck drew him a funny seven panel Spy vs Spy strip. John then kicked in an extra $20 toward the charity so Duck came back and drew him a large executioner!

The crowd was constant throughout the day. “Soft Spike” jokes were flying from everyone. Big Beatty did some really nice sketches. He started off with a nice Captain America and Deathlock. He also did cool sketches of Iron Man, Green Goblin, and others!

Jason Sobol was sitting in front of me with his portfolio and a great sense of humor [especially when I called him Josh a couple of times]. At any rate, he didn’t soft spike me [you’d had to have been there] and drew me a cool Sly as a young Judge Dredd. I’ll post that this weekend.

As the show wound down it was time for the auction. John H. had his eye on two pieces, the Kubert “Sgt. Rock” and a Beetle Bailey Sunday page. It came down to the wire between John and another guy for the Kubert piece, but I’m happy to say that John won! Man, the Sgt. Rock is even more impressive in person. It could be the cornerstone of ANY collection! [John also won the Beetle Bailey page!]

I was happy that I had been able to get two new sketches for my Stallone theme, and John H. had won the two pieces in the auction that he was after… but we weren’t done yet. After a short discussion, we approached Mr. Perlin about doing commissions for us. He agreed! So in two weeks John and I plan to drive back up to J-ville and pick up our Don Perlin originals! [We’d go next weekend but John H. will be in Baltimore getting even more art!]

All in all it was a great little event that raised a fair amount of money for a very good cause. I hope that they’re able to put it on again next year. If they do and you live within driving distance, you should plan to attend… you’ll get to meet some really nice people, possibly pick up a sketch or orignal art and maybe, just maybe, find out what it means to be soft spiked!

Once Upon… Mexico

Posted in Movies

I saw Robert Rodriguez’s “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” today. I’d really been looking forward to it. I first saw “El Mariachi” years ago and became a Rodriguez fan. Then came “Desparado,” and “Dusk Til Dawn” and Rodriguez was on the “A” list. So when Rodriguez decided to create an epic “Mariachi” film, he was able to get Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Reuben Blades, and Willem Dafoe, to join the returning Antonio Bandaras, Salema Hayek, and Danny Trejo.

With a cast like that and Rodriguez at the helm, it just had to be good, right? Yeah, but I was really hoping it would be so much better. Bandaras is back as THE Mariachi but this time he’s gonna save Mexico.

Ok, cool. An epic film should have a huge story and what could be bigger than saving your country? [Yeah, Bond would save the world but this isn’t Bond.] So the story idea works.

Next there are a bunch of characters. Johnny Depp steals every scene as a rogue CIA agent. Mickey Rourke has an interesting role as American criminal who has escaped to Mexico and has joined Willem Dafoe’s cartel. Both Rourke and Dafoe are under-used. Dafoe plans to take over Mexico by bankrolling a coup using an evil General. The General killed Bandaras’… hey!

Wake Up!

Yeah, now I see the problem. Although there’s a huge storyline and a lot of interesting characters, the story kind of bottoms out. Still, it was fun and ya gotta love the action… and did I mention that Johnny Depp absolutely rules in this movie?

“Once Upon a Time in Mexico” rates a “C.”

On a side note – there was a preview for a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Jack Nicholson’s line, “We’re not all doctors, baby” left me laughing out loud. You have to see it, since telling it wouldn’t be as funny, but when you do see it, make sure you’re not drinking anything!

Bale is Bruce

Posted in Movies

Christian Bale has been cast as Bruce Wayne in Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming Batman movie, to be directed by Christopher Nolan [“Momento”].

Principal photography is expected to begin in early 2004. The movie is written by David Goyer and Nolan, and will follow the early career of The Dark Knight.

Christopher Nolan is quoted as saying, “What I see in Christian is the ultimate embodiment of Bruce Wayne. He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for.”

I totally agree.

New "Must See TV"

Posted in TV

As the new tv season draws near, these are the shows that interest me the most:

MONDAY* Everybody Loves Raymond: Believe it or not, I had never watched an episode until this summer. I found it to be one of the best comedies going and am looking forward to the new season.* Vegas: This is a new show and I may find myself checking it out even though it goes up against Everybody Loves Raymond

TUESDAY*
24: The third season looks to come back as strong as the first two. 24 was one of my top two favorite shows last year. [Unfortunately The Shield won’t return until January!]

WEDNESDAY* The West Wing: Always in my top three “must see tv” shows… but this season could be different with the lose of it’s creator. Still the last season’s finale left me wanting more.* Karen Sisco: Based on the Elmore Leonard’s character [from the book and movie], this is the new show that I’m most looking forward to.

THURSDAY* Survivor: This is a family viewing event each week which makes it a lot of fun.* ER: Although not as good as it once was [few shows are], it still makes it to the “must see tv” weekly list.

FRIDAY* Boston Public: Moving the show to Friday’s isn’t going to help. I’m just hoping that it hasn’t jumped the shark.

SATURDAY* I usually watch a bad sci-fi movie on, oddly enough, the SciFi channel or maybe even rent a dvd since there’s not much on except Cops and that’s not “must see.”

SUNDAY* Alias: Yeah, I’m coming back for more… who can blame me?* The Lyon’s Den: I saw a preview of this before “28 days later” and was sold!

Well, at least it looks like there’s a little something every night worth checking out. Have I missed anything?

Rundown the Most…

Posted in Movies

Over the next two months at least one movie premieres each week that I really want to see. The one I’m most looking forward to is The Rundown.

Yeah, I’m as surprised about that as you.

With all of potentially cool movies during this time period, [Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Underworld, Cold Creek Manor, The Human Stain, Out of Time, Kill Bill Volume 1, Mystic River… well you get the idea], I want to see the movie starring The Rock!

Actually, The Rock is a talented performer and this movie looks to fit him perfectly. The trailer rocks. [Yeah, I know, bad pun.] There’s action, comedy, and a great supporting cast. This could be a real surprise hit. And speaking of surprises, one of the worst kept secrets is the surprise cameo by… well, if you don’t know I don’t want to ruin it for you. It might make you mad enough to throw an egg at me! ; )

Egging on Arnold!

Posted in Trivia

Did you happen to see the video of Arnold Schwarzenegger getting hit by a egg? If not, I’ve posted a pic of the incident. At any rate, the egg came flying from the crowd, and hit Arnold splattering his coat with egg and yolk.

Arnold looked down, saw the mess, and as he continued walking, shaking hands and greeting fans, took his jacket off without missing a beat.

There were a lot of ways that he could have handled it. Panic is one. Anger is another. Yet, the way Arnold dealt with the situation was very calm and cool. Impressive even.

I usually don’t deal with politics in my blog, but I felt that this really deserved a mention. I’m not sure how the election will turn out, but win or lose, I’ll bet Arnold doesn’t end up with egg on his face!

Playmakers Scores!

Posted in Sports, and TV

Have you checked out ESPN’s new original series, Playmakers? If not, you should. So far two epsiodes have aired and they were both great!

Playmakers features an ensemble cast, with all of the characters played to perfection by mostly little known actors. The production values are first rate, but special mention should be given to the writing and direction. What could be a typical tv series about a football team is instead a compelling drama about the intertwining lives of characters who happen to play football for a living. But don’t get me wrong, the professional football backdrop is almost a character itself. I’m actually surprised at how real it all looks, sounds, and feels.

Playmakers is on Tuesdays at 9PM on ESPN. I give it my highest recommendation.
Check it out… even if you don’t like football, I’ll bet you’ll like Playmakers.

Thinking About "Jerry’s Kids"

Posted in TV

For 38 years Jerry Lewis has hosted an annual telethon for muscular dystrophy and I’ve always had mixed feelings about it.

I like the idea of people opening their wallets to help those less fortunate. It’s fun to see the variety of acts. You know, stuff that would’t have a chance on tv since the days of Ed Sullivan. And I always have the hope that this year, with the money the telethon raises, a cure will be found.

Then there are the other parts. Like when the handicapped are rolled out and talked about as if they’re just to be pitied. Or when they’re referred to as “Jerry’s Kids.” That title, at least in my mind, conjures up images of handicapped children thrown out of society only to be saved after becoming one of “Jerry’s Kids.”
Jerry’s telethon
raised a record $60,505,234 this weekend. No doubt that outweighs any negative thoughts I may have about it… at least until next year.

Charles Bronson – RIP

Posted in Celebs, and RIP

Charles Bronson has passed on.

I don’t remember the first time that I saw Charles Bronson in a movie. It may have been in “The Dirty Dozen,” or “The Magnificant Seven,” but more likely than not it was in the horror film, “The House of Wax.” When I was a little kid, it seems as if Bronson was always popping up in a co-starring role and making a bigger impact that the stars of the films. And for a period of time in the 70’s, Charles Bronson was my favorite actor.
Charles Bronson starred in some great movies.
“Hard Times,” “The Mechanic,” and of course “Death Wish” are my personal favorite Bronson staring roles. You knew any movie he was in, was worth the price of admission. What more can you ask from a star?

Charles Bronson has left us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.