Back Issue Gold 1985: When John Byrne Split The Hulk in Two!

Ahhh yes I can still remember how stoked I was as a kid waaaay back in 1985 when John Byrne took over writing and drawing The Incredible Hulk for a far too short of a run. I was only 11 years old, but I seriously adored John Byrne, he was hands down my favorite comic book artist and The Hulk was my favorite comic book character. Byrne had been writing and drawing Alpha Flight, which of course I was a die hard fan of too, when he switched to full on Hulk mode with issue #314. I was thrilled!

I must have read that issue a hundred times and the cover itself couldn’t have been more awesome as it featured the Jade Giant in all of his Byrne-esque glory along with a gang of his deadliest villains behind him ready to start some shit. The Leader, Modok, The Rhino, Abomination & The Juggernaut! Byrne’s highly detailed artwork pushed The Hulk to new levels of awesomeness, the character was more massive than he’d ever been too. Though the villains on the cover end up being just part of Hulk’s over active imagination, the Byrne run fully  made up for that with making Hulk-centric character Doc Samson one of, if not the main character of his short run. From that point in in Hulk history Doc Samson quickly became one of my favorite Marvel characters, the series also improved upon Doc’s costume, giving him a new one, ditching his classic but sorta awful lightning bolt suit he’d worn previously.

In the past we’d seen Samson tangle with the Hulk but never quite like this. I absolutely love how Byrne’s Hulk completely dwarf’s Samson in size like never before, yet he proves just how much of a bad ass the character really is with not only his brawn but also his brains. This issue is essentially one big fight between the two and begins with a more mindless version of the Hulk who’d been missing in another dimension called The Crossroads, exiled by Doctor Strange for over a year (those were great issues too!). Samson cleverly defeats The Hulk and makes Hulk history using his genius scientific intellect to actually separate Bruce Banner from The Hulk as two living breathing entities.

This was a great era of Hulk history and let’s face it John Byrne was easily one of the best comic book writers and artists of  the 70’s & 80’s if not of all time. During this run he pumped out 8 issues, one being an awesome Marvel Fanfare where’s Byrne’s stunning artwork proved he was easily one of the best of all time when it came to drawing the jade giant. Another was The Hulk annual #14 which he wrote but master Hulk artist Sal Buscema drew. I love the Byrne era Hulk and apparently he’d had big plans for the series but was thwarted, there’s actually a great story about what went down here with the Byrne Hulk run for all of you Hulk-a-maniancs. Also check out ‘Incredible Hulk: Visionaries #1‘ Trade Paperback  which features the whole output of Byrne 80’s Hulk. Ahhh those were the good ol’ days….

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Movie Review: Crazy Christmas Twists & Turns in ‘Better Watch Out’!

 Deck the halls people! I checked out the new Christmas thriller / horror flick “Better Watch Out” last night as I was beginning to crave me some holiday themed mayhem! I really had no idea just what to expect, but had heard this one had a few twists and turns under it’s belt and of course I love creepy Christmas movies so why the hell not kick off the holiday season with a possible bang. ‘Better Watch Out’ is indeed an interesting movie, especially because it of it’s clever mind game it plays at it’s nasty core. More thriller than horror, with it’s fair share comedy and seemingly lighthearted holiday seasoned set up.

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Morrissey’s & The Smiths Humble Beginnings: ‘England Is Mine’…

I’ve been a huge fan of ‘The Smiths’ for sooo long and to say they are one of the most influential bands of the 80’s isn’t something that’s up for debate. So I was completely surprised to find that there’s a movie that chronicles the life of the band’s iconic and always controversial frontman, Morrissey. Old news? Not to me! I’ve always been a bit curious about what make this guy tick and I’ve got high hopes for this cool looking little flick. Even more so I love the idea of seeing how The Smiths actually came together as a band and the introduction of the Moz to co-founder Johnny Marr.

People have been clamoring for the band to get back together since the late 80’s so who knows maybe the release of this movie could fan the flames? Arriving right on time, as Morrissey who’s had a strong solo career, is readying the release of his latest album “Low In High School” and The Smiths equally influential guitarist Johnny Marr has also got a new album on the way. If you’re a fan of dreamy alt brit pop of the 1980’s then “England is Mine” could be right up your alley. However…

That being said from what I understand it seems the movie is set during the period before he joined The Smiths and apparently doesn’t feature any of the band’s music. Though I’m still gonna check it out it kinda makes you wonder why they even did a move at all without the music. Perhaps it didn’t get the band’s seal of approval? Big time bummer, but who knows it might still be interesting to see his humble beginnings.

Whatever the case it’s a shame the movie for whatever reason skips the rise and fall of the band, because at this point I can’t imagine someone will be making another movie about the life and times of The Moz…the movie is available online to rent and will have an official dvd release in December. I’ll check it out soon and post a review…anyone seen this already?

Forgotten Movie Gems: Operation Scorpio’s Kung Fu Comic Book Artist!

Hot Dayum! Here’s a rad ass kung fu movie I recently checked out that deserves some serious love yet remains all but forgotten by most here in the USA. If you dig comic books and kung fu I say you gotta take a moment to check out…

Operation Scorpio, aka The Scorpion King (1991)

 

This unique Hong Kong kung Fu movie from 1991 is barrel of zany fun. It’s jam packed with some truly stunning action and hyper-crazy early 1990’s Kung Fu mayhem!! This one’s got a ton of heart and a cool ass story about a comic book artist, Yu Shu, who’s got a wild ass imagination and spends his time daydreaming of being a real life superhero. It opens with a great sequence that perfectly sets the stage for the frantic charming martial arts extravaganza. His wild imagination gets the best of him when his ‘in class cartooning’ soon gets him expelled from medical school leaving him to help his Uncle’s buddy, Master Yat around his popular noodle restaurant. But Yu soon finds himself  fully wrapped up in the evil web of a criminal prostitution ring, when going out on a limb, he helps a woman escape from their stronghold late one evening while walking about town. Now the duo are on the run and take shelter hiding out in Master Yat’s noodle house, they’ll eventually find a lot more than noodle’s in his bustling restaurant. 

 

 

Shit gets pretty awesome as the movie constantly introduces us to a colorful cast of unique characters and the villain’s seemingly superhuman fighting abilities inspire our main character to take a stab at kung fu himself. He secretly heads off to local martial arts school that’s taught by one of the most bad ass, muscle bound kung fu experts I’ve ever seen in cinema. This dude rivals Bolo Yueng! The movie plays out a bit like a comic book version of “My Bodyguard” & “The Karate Kid” and it’s filled with comedy, romance and downright incredible martial arts sequences. Sonny, (The Scorpion King), the lanky villain of the movie, shows that size clearly doesn’t matter when it comes to superhuman kung fu and proves himself to be quite a cinematic threat to anyone who stands in his way. His “scorpion” style of fighting is a treat to see in action as well and one of the best action scenes is when Yu’s Hulking kung fu teacher decides to try and put an end to his problems himself. This truly epic and a bit of a heartbreaking confrontation is definitely not to be missed..

 

 

We’ve got a ton of cool shit going on in this one & one of the most entertainingly cheezy sequences of the movie involves the rigorous kung fu training endured by Yu as he masters martial arts through a full on noodle making work out. We’ve got some great twists and turns in the plot as well and just about everything in this movie is quirky enough to elevate this one to a level of it’s own in the ranks of late 80’s early 90’s martial arts movies. Cool sets, ultra colorful characters, superhuman kung fu, heart and unique little story drive this movie into territory I wasn’t even aware existed in the genre. Operation Scorpio, aka ‘The Scorpion King’ is a total treat for any comic book fan and it’s no wonder the flick was produced by the legendary Sammo Hung. It stands on it’s own and really deserves a lot more attention and notoriety for it’s pure charm and ultra endearing cheez factor it delivers. Seek this one out, as it really is a forgotten gem… 

 

 

Stranger Things: Please Use Practical Monster Effects!!

Stranger Things Season 2 finally dropped this Halloween and damn was it good! So much fun and such a total and complete trip down memory lane. The show plays off of the wonder filled nostalgia of the 80’s and almost perfectly captures the magic of movies like Poltergeist, E.T., The Goonies and The Lost Boys to name a few.

This show couldn’t possibly get any better at delivering the ever so sweet 1980’s cinematic magic could it?  Well I say it could do the job way better, after watching the second season it was apparent once again that this show could really up it’s game by ditching a lot of the shoddy CGI effects it uses for it’s monsters.

 

 

The show sure looks and feels like an 80’s Amblin flick, that is until they introduce us to the other worldly monsters. Then it quickly becomes very apparent it’s 2017 and that some questionable CG has entered my 80’s fantasy! So for season 3 of the show, I think they could do better, to really recreate that magic of old, it’s time for the show to incorporate practical creature effects! Puppetry, makeup, animatronics!

 

 

Imagine the creatures on the show if they had the feel of E.T., The Gremlins or Pumpkinhead?! The CG takes me out of the moment, the realism fades quickly and I imagine how much more effective the experience would really be if it just gave this tweak to say 75% of it’s fx work. That alone would give us the ultimate nostalgia trip, let’s face it, fans would go nuts for this and especially those who are real fans of the genre the show’s replicating. So help me spread this idea #strangerthings80sfx & Let’s demand that 80’s special effects magic be utilized for the next season!!!  They’ve come a long way with practical fx work and blending with CG or using CG to eliminate wires & puppeteers would take the show to a whole next level of 1980’s love….

 

Happy Halloween: The Top 10 ‘Human to Monster’ Movie Transformations!!!

Happpppy HALLOWEEN boys, ghouls and all freaks of nature!! It’s finally here that special day where all things creepy and spooky are considered the norm amongst all other average humans!! Well today we’re going the distance and going to take a look at one of my favorite topics of all time: MONSTERS!! Duh!

So today many will be transforming themselves into creepy creatures of the night and I want to compile the top ten movie “human to monster” transformations of all time!!! Let’s get on with this shit, in no particular order, it’s time to get gross people, because who doesn’t love seeing humans morph into creepy creatures especially on Halloween!!

10. The Howling (1981)

I just NEVER get sick of this awesome werewolf transformation in the Howling! It’s one of the best human to monster transitions of all time, I just love the fact that Dee Wallace watches the whole damn thing instead of getting the fuck outta dodge!! One of the best!

9. The Beast Within (1982)

Check this shit out, one of the best most bizarre transformations for sure! This time though we witness a troubled teenage transform into some sort of bug/human hybrid! Nasty for sure!! Goddamn do I love some good practical fx!!

 7. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)

What a damn fine movie, I just can’t get enuff of this one, it’s got awesome practical old school monster fx and even features Robert Englund in one of his best (maybe the best?!) post Freddy movie roles. Better yet Englund transforms into a big ass monster that look’s like Chet’s brother from “Weird Science”!!

6. The Curse 2: The Bite (1989)

Damn I love this flick, it’s a sequel only in name to the ‘Will Wheaton’ movie “The Curse” from a couple years before. It’s a fun movie with some superb extra special fx and a finale that’s worth the wait of the often meandering story. If you’ve never seen this one maybe skip watching this here and just seek out the full movie, this sequence is most of it’s awesome finale…

 

5. Tales From The Dark Side: The Movie (1990)

The finale story to ‘Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie’ anthology is super awesome and features a totally memorable monster movie transformation! I still feel bad for the dude who didn’t keep his promise, things were just going so damn well in their relationship! Oh well no amount of counseling could have fixed this deep inner relationship issue! It had to come out at some point!

 4. The Company of Wolves (1984)

This rad and totally bizarre, sometimes forgotten gem of a werewolf movie, has several awesome transformations in it. However this one is my favorite. The snout out of the mouth is an awesome totally disgusting effect that still awes me every time. I’ve got to re-watch this one again SOON! This freaked me the fuck out as a kid…

 3. The Thing (1982)

Here’s a classic! The Norris transformation sequence in The Thing is one of the best most iconic moments in monster movie history! Like it needs any real introduction-here it is again in all it’s gory glory!

2. Black Sheep (2006)

I love this horror comedy and Weta Workshop did an incredible job giving us a totally memorable transformation sequence! The movie is filled with awesome practical fx work and I love the whole “weresheep angle”, if you’ve never seen this indie gem you better check it out asap-it delivers the goods and then some!!

1.An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Considered by most to be the greatest man to monster movie transformation of all time obviously this one needed to be on the list, so here it is one last time for any of you who’ve been living in a damn cave for the majority of your life! Ohhh the pain of it all!!!

 

Still haven’t had enuff? Me neither-here’s a few more I totally dig!!

Oh and Luke Skywalker as he transforms into a bug in the shitty “Guyver”…still damn cool tho!

Oh and Drew Barrymore’s crazy transformation in the underrated “Doppleganger”!! 

 God bless Youtube, Here’s a cool one from The Spookies from 1986~!

Cool one from Waxwork II: Lost in Time!

A great one from the criminally underrated 1987 monster extravaganza ‘The Kindred’!!

….and of course this WHOLE damn movie!!

Six Underrated Bad Ass Slasher Flicks You Need to See This Halloween!

So you’ve seen all the ‘Friday The 13th’ movies, every installment of the ‘Halloween’ franchise, Seen all four ‘Scream’ films and all of the Child’s Play/Chucky flicks-What the hell’s next? Well don’t fret because there are some awesome lesser known slasher flicks you may’ve never heard of that you’ve gotta check out this Halloween. Let’s face it too, as far as slasher movies go, there are A LOT of terribly shitty ones you really don’t want to waste your time watching! I’ll save you the boredom of  trudging through a bad 80’s slasher movie. If you’re looking for quality, here are 6 awesome ones you probably haven’t checked out yet, just in time for Halloween!!

1.Strange Behavior 1981 (AKA: Dead Kids)

This cool Aussie horror movie is definitely NOT your average slasher fare, which is all the more reason to check out this gem. 1981 hailed as the golden years of the slasher hurled a ton of forgettable genre movies in our direction but ‘Strange Behavior’ in my opinion remains one that’s got a lot more going for it than what appears on it surface initially. This campy mystery mixes the slasher with elements of sci-fi and 1950’s horror. It’s also got one of the most incredible teen party dance scenes in movie history! Dig it! 

 

2. The Prowler (1981)

Worth it alone for the special fx work of master Tom Savini, The Prowler is a ton of fun and also has a cool mystery within it’s gory plot. It even features a memorable slasher dressed head to toe in WWII army fatigues that’s hell bent on hunting down horny teens. This movie has a lot more character than most of it’s peers, has some awesome spooky settings as well as some excellent moments of extreme tension! The Prowler is top notch when it comes to classy ass slasher movies.

 

3.  Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

You see a trend here? 1981 everyone was competing to make the coolest slasher movie and ‘Happy Birthday To Me’ is considered by many to be one of the best the genre had to offer. This one’s beautifully filmed, filled with cool special fx and even stars Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie) in the movie’s lead role! For it’s rather long run time (1 hour & 51 minutes) it never becomes dull and one of the reasons this one’s so damn charming is because of the incredibly ridiculous plot twists throughout that are played totally straight and serious- Scooby Doo and his gang would feel right at home in this one!

 

4. The Burning (1981)

Dang! 1981 AGAIN!! Here’s hands down on of the best, most entertaining slasher movies of all time. Although feeling incredibly similar to ‘Friday the 13th’ at first, this one’s a total classic that deserves far more praise. It’s filled with awesome gory, truly inventive kills, a cool disfigured monster-y slasher & most interestingly stars Jason Alexander (Seinfeld’s George Costanza) in his first movie role! A ton of fun and filled with ridiculous 80’s nostalgia, The Burning is a great time.

 

5. Tourist Trap (1979)

This one’s an interesting one for sure, for a PG rated movie it sure packs a weird creepy ass punch. It’ll make you develop a serious fear of mannequins, as a gang of traveling teenagers stops at a spooky roadside attraction that’s jam packed with em! To make matters worse there’s a masked slasher on the prowl who’s got telekinetic powers in which he uses to animate the freaky mannequins. Tourist Trap is filled with ultra trippy imagery and is a truly bizarre, utterly unique installment into the genre! 

6. Popcorn (1991)

Enter the 1990’s!! Popcorn is a truly underrated gem of a flick that brings a disfigured psycho into the theater during a horror movie marathon. It’s filled with some neat-o plot twists, cool fx and and a unique story that twists in and out of the schlocky horror movies our onscreen characters are watching. It also stars Jill Schoelen, who’s a total 80’s horror movie cutie icon and legend Dee Wallace Stone for some extra added horror cred. Oddly the movie was shot in Jamaica which is why the people in it are always listening to reggae. Check this one out it’s got a lot of charm for an early 90’s slasher flick.