‘Alien: Covenant’ Will Make You Appreciate The ‘AVP’ Franchise!

‘Alien: Covenant’ finally dropped at theaters yesterday, and after all the hype the smoke finally cleared as I sat back for a late night viewing of the “prequel” for the legendary horror franchise. Ridley Scott returns again after the lackluster ‘Prometheus’ for purely passable installment that is Alien: Covenant. I wasn’t a huge fan of Prometheus, it’s one of those movies I can’t say I ever care about seeing again and same is the case also with ‘Covenant’. It does though fit quite nicely alongside the current trend of forgettable sequels to once amazing movie franchises of the 80’s that are cranked out these days. It’s like the ‘Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull’ of the Alien series, making the third and fourth installments of the Alien franchise suddenly feel more legit.

This doesn’t mean I hated the movie, it just means that I’m quickly growing tired of the trend of sequels that I once endlessly pined for. It pains me to see Ridley Scott now for a second time bringing us such uninspired pieces of cinema. The movies large cast of characters hasn’t got anyone in it you’re likely to give a damn about and spends it’s time focusing on the android “twin btother” characters played by Michael Fassbender instead. ‘Covenant’  simply feels like Ridley has run out of ideas and decided to start lifting major plot points from ‘Bladerunner’ simultaneously trying to re-create a “best of” compilation of scary scenarios from his first Alien movie.

So while no one from the cast gets much time to develop into much more than alien prey you might think that at the very least we’d get quite possibly the best most bad ass version of the legendary ‘Alien’ creature now that it’s 2017 and they’ve more than got the budget to do so. Quite the contrary, ‘Alien: Covenant’ can’t even get that right for fans. For a movie that’s been boasting impressive practical fx work from day one you’re likely to be disappointed by it’s incredibly cartoony looking aliens littered about the movie frantically. Heck the fx work in this movie makes the two ‘AVP’ flicks suddenly feel kinda legit as well and that’s a damn hard thing to do. Long gone is the suspense & stylized horror of the old movies, instead you’ll be treated to the same old CGI schlock you’re used to from all the huge summer blockbusters. The Alien franchise officially lost it’s heart & soul quite a long time ago and even bringing Scott aboard hasn’t resulted in finding it. Right down to final battle, this movie simply fails, proving that we ALL really miss Sigourney Weaver in a BIG way.  Ridley has now truly mastered mediocrity as I honestly may’ve actually enjoyed Prometheus more than this, because at least with that one I wasn’t expecting much there from the start.

At least one thing Ridley got right were the locations & sets he used in filming this movie. It’s visually stunning in that respect. However I’m realizing I was actually quite fine with NOT knowing the backstory of the Alien and honestly liked it when we knew nothing about it’s origins when it was little more than a monstrous stow away. The mystery is gone and instead what we end up with plot wise begins to feel a bit absurd and a tad cliche. This is a classic case of “they just don’t make em’ like they used to”. It’s a bit sad but I realize not everyone can make a ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and sometimes attaching the original directors to these sequels clearly doesn’t always equal movie magic. That being said, after seeing this last night my excitement level for the upcoming sequels to Bladerunner & Predator has severely lowered. I’d say if you’re a casual fan of the Alien franchise you’ll likely have a good time at the movies with this one but if you’re looking for the magic of the first two (or heck even the third & fourth) you’re bound to feel a bit empty as you exit the theater. At least now I’ve developed a new urge to revisit the ‘AVP’ movies, I mean damn, I was way too hard on those I think…

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Astral Projection: The Theater Method!

I’ve expressed my interest in lucid dreaming here at Universal Dork a couple times in the past and today I thought I’d take a moment to talk about ‘astral projection’. First though, if you’re not quite sure what lucid dreaming is let me make it simple, it’s when you have a very vivid dream and something within the dream triggers you to become aware that you are dreaming (movies like Inception & Dreamscape are good examples). In many of these cases often with a little practice and focus you can learn to have them quite regularly. To be honest it makes movies like ‘Inception’ feel pretty boring. It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced and  anyone can do it with a little effort.

There’s another practice that’s linked to lucid dreaming called ‘astral projection‘, also known as an ‘out of body experience’ or OBE. I’ve worked a ton on different methods to experience this phenomenon with various degrees of success. I can tell you with honesty that it’s lead to the most bizarre & unexplainable experiences of my existence. I’m to this day a bit uncertain exactly what astral projection really is at it’s core, some believe it’s just an elaborate lucid dream while others believe it’s the complete separation of consciousness from the physical body. I intend to find out for myself what the truth really is behind it. Thus far I’ve had several unexplainable experiences that have lead me to believe that perhaps there’s abilities humans have that involve being able to enter into different dimensions of existence that are not of our physical material world. It’s also made me question heavily my beliefs on life after death. Perhaps there’s more to us than just our bodies of flesh and bone?   Continue reading

Is the New HELLBOY Movie in Good Hands?!

Wow! So yesterday Mike Mignola made a stunning announcement that Hellboy will be returning to the big screen! BUT and there’s a big BUT here, without Ron Perlman & Guillermo del Toro’s involvement. This is a bit shocking to many as we’ve been waiting the third and final installment that’s been teased for years. I wish they’d have done it and I feel a bit bad for Ron Perlman as he gave the role his all and has been fighting for the fans for so long to complete the trilogy. With that being said, David Harbour, the cop from ‘Stranger Things’ will be stepping into the role of the big devil himself and he seems like an amazing choice for the role. I can already easily picture him as Hellboy just on his looks alone and the guy is a decent actor as well. So I think they’re off to a great start in terms of casting. I’m hoping that they’ll create Hellboy in the same way they did with Ron Perlman. His and the rest of the BPRD’s make up was incredible in del Toro’s movies and I’m hoping that they’re not going to simply CG Hellboy and the gang. One thing Guillermo did extremely well was the creation of incredible monsters using mainly practical fx and incorporating CGI only when truly necessary.

Also announced was director Neil Marshall, who I was immediately thrilled about, for the simple fact that he’s made easily two of the best horror movies of the last twenty years, Dog Soldiers & The Descent. Both of these movies are mind blowing-ly awesome and they’re 100% rock solid proof that this director just might bring us the best Hellboy movie possible. Heck, I go as far to put ‘Dog Soldiers’ right up there with ‘An American Werewolf in London’ and ‘The Howling’. As excited as I am at the possibility here I realized that ‘The Descent’ was released all the way back in 2005 and it got me thinking just what the hell has Neil Marshall really been up to the last twelve years? Lets find out as it may give us a better idea of exactly what we’re in store for with this new Hellboy flick.

After ‘The Descent’ Marshall went on to direct the lackluster ‘Mad Max’ influenced movie ‘Doomsday’ in 2008. The movie was a bit of a box office bomb and to me didn’t bring anything new or exciting to the table honestly in the post apocalyptic adventure genre. I guess I give him an ‘A’ for effort for giving it an honest shot but the movie was just too bland to make any real waves and has been largely forgotten for the most part.

After that he did ‘Centurion’ in 2010, with Michael Fassbender starring. It was a an ok attempt at a historical hack and slash war movie about the disappearance of the Roman empire’s ninth legion. This was also a bit of a bomb at the box office and largely went under the radar of movie goers. Once again this movie didn’t bring anything to the table that hadn’t really already been done before. One thing though I’ll say are that his movies look great and even Doomsday visually was at least effective in that area. Still ‘Centurion’ is one time viewing and it doesn’t have much to differentiate it from anything else that was being cranked out in the  genre at the time.

After that Marshall disappeared from the movie scene directing 2 excellent episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ as well as episodes of ‘Black Sails’, ‘Constantine’, ‘Hannibal’, ‘Timeless’ & ‘Westworld’. In 2015 he was one of the directors in the horror anthology movie ‘Tales of Halloween’ and directed the excellent installment “Bad Seed” about the killer GMO pumpkin! Loved it…

So what we’ve got here for Marshall is a big return to the silver screen on a big budget flick. I don’t have any reason to believe that he’s going to fuck it up, in fact with a great script which I’m certain Mignola will be part of and the supposed “R” rating the movie’s rumored to get we just might see a more true to the comic version of the character. I think it’ll be much darker, bloody and quite possibly a much bigger hit this time around. I’ve always thought cinematic Hellboy was ahead of it’s time and that the strange Mignola-verse would fare far better in today’s landscape than that of 2008 to movie goers. Hellboy & The BPRD are easily my favorites of the current comic book franchises out there, so this next movie means a lot to me.

If they lift the amazing feel of the del Toro movies and add a bit darker tone (don’t lose all the comedy though) we’ll be in for one helluva Hellboy flick. I’m also hoping that the movie might make a role for Ron Perlman, Doug Jones & Selma Blair (perhaps as villains?) because we all know how badly they wanted a third film. How cool would Ron & Doug be starring as some crazy creatures? Let’s let Neil Marshall return to his true roots and give the Hellboy movies the lethal does of horror they need today. The guy is super talented and his two incredible horror movies he made are proof that Marshall is exactly where he needs to be. I’m hoping this will begin many more Mignola-verse based movies or a BPRD tv series dammit!! So don’t fret I think Hellboy’s indeed in good hands… 

Comic Cover of the Week: DEADWORLD #1, When Zombies Were Punk as F#ck!

There was a time when zombies were fucking awesome & not like how they are “awesome” today. That time was way back in the 70’s & 80’s before everyone and their mom and dad were watching ‘The Walking Dead’. Today the zombie craze has brought us countless shitty zombie movies, comic books & merch but back in the 80’s all of the zombie mayhem was quite a bit more underground. I was watching Frank Henenlotter’s ‘Brain Damage’ last night with a group of people and noticed someone in the movie was reading ‘Deadworld’. I was surprised that no one in the group had ever even heard of the comic book. I’ve blogged several times in the past about the book which still remains my favorite zombie comic of all time (at least the first 12 issues or so). Deadworld is punk as fuck and featured some truly stunning undead art from the gore master Vincent Locke who’s done artwork for bands like Cannibal Corpse. The 1986 book featured a prominent villain simply referred to as ‘King Zombie’ and his gang of undead who’ve developed intelligence while still lusting for flesh. He was a total badass who cruised around on his motorcycle and terrorized a gang of teens who’s bus broke down on a desolate highway. The books a treasure trove of totally amazing, legit zombie tattoo designs by the way. There’s been a collection done pretty recently of all of the old issues and they even tried to reboot it a some years back. I suggest hunting those down, they’re a unique read and embody the dirty grit of grindhouse 80’s style zombie flick to perfection. This was the issue featured in ‘Brain Damage’ it remains today one of my favorite pieces of zombie art to date!

And of course here’s ‘King Zombie’…..

 

 

Support ‘Bonehill Road’: 80’s Inspired, Practical FX Werewolf Flick Starring Linnea Quigley!

Do you miss amazing werewolf movies like ‘An American Werewolf in London’, ‘The Howling’ and ‘Dog Soldiers’? I sure as hell do! Well luckily there’s someone out there right now who’s funding a brand new 80’s style throwback werewolf flick that boasts no CGI at all and even additionally release it on VHS! Yep ‘Bonehill Road’ has been getting some attention lately in the horror community with it’s Indiegogo fundraising page. The project only has five short days left and has already exceeded it’s goal, but the more money they can raise the better it’s gonna be. Here’s one of the early werewolf designs below!

Director Todd Sheets has been making movies since 1985, many of which were shot on video and have an ultra low budget. However he’s got quite a unique indie style of his own and his movies definitely bring on the crazy gore while remaining a ton o’ fun. You can check out some of his crazy ass stuff on youtube. This project seems to be a bit of a labor of love and it seems Sheets is really going for a higher quality of story, effects work and full on scares this time around. Any money made from the Indiegogo page will go into one thing…the creature fx!! He’s going to really need the funds if he really wants to match the likes of movies like ‘The Howling’. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this project shapes up in the end, he’s going to release it on VHS as well which is a cool little novelty for all of us collectors of the dead media. Things get even better though, to perfectly match the vibe of the 1980’s the movie has just recently cast horror scream queen icon Linnea Quigley! how cool is that?!

This is a great way to support indie film makers with a dream who’re not cranking out the norm of PG-13 throwaway horror blockbusters for the masses. If you’re a fan of old school horror check out the Indiegogo page. We need more hand on horror like this, I really enjoyed more recent ventures like ‘Dog Soldiers’ & ‘Late Phases’ (which was a pretty brilliant old school style werewolf movie) but the fact remains that we just don’t get enough film that’s made by people who’re really truly have a passion for their projects. If you got some extra cash or have some experience in fx work check it out, Todd Sheets is looking to make his dream project into a modern monster masterpiece! 

The All Time Greatest One Shot Comics: The Incredible Hulk’s Wisconsin Rampage!

Here’s the second installment of the all time greatest one shot comics, featuring small self contained stories that begin & end all within the span of one single issue! Today we’ve got an excellent story from 2001 in The Incredible Hulk #26 (vol. 2) written by Sean Mckeever and drawn by one of my personal favorites, the amazing Kyle Hotz. I immediately had a soft spot for this issue as it  takes place in Wausau, Wisconsin (and even features ‘Eagle River’ on a highway sign, a place where my family’s had a cottage for ages) a state that we don’t normally see superhero adventures taking place. I had a feeling that Mckeever must’ve been a Wisconsin native to include such random small towns in this story and I was right as his Wiki page states he’s from Appleton (I used to live there!).

Anyway the story features The Hulk as he wanders aimlessly through the night on a lonely highway being drawn to a nearby city’s lights in the distance. The Hulk appears to be at peace in the quiet night, but hey we all know for the jade giant tranquility never lasts long. The cool thing about this particular issue is that Hulk kinda takes a back seat as the story really follows the exploits of b-lister down on his luck supervillain ‘The Killer Shrike’ and his wife Nadine who’re traveling the country aimlessly in his beat up van. I love what this one brings to the table as we’re able to see Simon Maddicks (The Killer Shrike) life as a real person. We witness the struggle of a woman who’s stuck by her mate as he’s chosen a life as a superhuman criminal constantly on the run from the law. She’s tired and ready to live a normal boring life. Shrike’s promising her soon he’ll be ready and willing to give up the life of crime and pulls into Wausau claiming that it could be the city for both of them to settle down in.   

 

It doesn’t take long for her to realize Simon’s lying through his teeth as he eyes up a convenience store and tells her he’s got a new plan. Rather than looking for the big score like he has for years he’s gonna hit small towns hard where there’s no superhuman resistance. We get a real glimpse in to what life might really be like for a supervillain who at his core is just a regular small time crook. There haven’t been too many comics that have covered this topic so intimately and really given us a look at the starving supervillain’s daily life. It’s too bad The Killer Shrike doesn’t realize this small city’s also harboring the most powerful brute force on the planet-The Hulk. We get a compelling introspective into just what makes The Hulk tick and where his thoughts wander to when he’s in a state of peace with his surroundings. There’s a lot of great dialogue packed into this little story and Hotz’s unique artwork really brings this tale to life

The Killer Shrike suits up in his van and hit’s the convenience store with an easy small time score, or so he thinks. On his way out with the cash he nearly runs head on into you guessed it…good ol’ green jeans himself. The Shrike in sheer panic attacks The Hulk, who really just wants to be left alone. He’s doesn’t let up either as he’s convinced he can take down The Hulk himself, he keeps on striking until he levels an entire building upon the jade giant. The Killer Shrike however quickly realizes that very building also crushed his getaway van with his lover, Nadine inside. As things often go wrong when puny humans decide to pester the Hulk, this issue delivers a heartfelt punch to the gut as we witness one fateful night in the life of Simon Maddicks. I wish Marvel could capture this type of depth in their characters and villains more often as The Incredible Hulk #26 would be great issue to present to Marvel executives today as they ponder upon why their comic book sales have declined so much recently. Check this issue out next time you’re at the comic shop roaming through the back issue boxes, it’s a damn fine little slice of storytelling! P.S. here’s an old Marvel Universe profile for the Killer Shrike!

Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ Won’t Feature Arnold? I Don’t Buy It!

It’s been “revealed” recently that Shane Black’s ‘The Predator’ set for a 2018 release will NOT feature the return of Arnold Schwarzengger’s iconic character ‘Dutch’ from the original (and by far best Predator flick of them all). Apparently Mr. Black who actually starred along side Arnold in the 1987 movie met with him and the two couldn’t agree on the right role for his character Dutch to play in the upcoming blockbuster. This what Arnie recently had to say about it:

“They asked me, and I read it, and I didn’t like it — whatever they offered, So I’m not going to do that, no. Except if there’s a chance that they rewrite it, or make it a more significant role. But the way it is now, no, I won’t do that.”

So Predator fans all over seem a bit bummed about the news. Black had basically gone on record saying this installment of the franchise was going to feel like a big mysterious event for all the fans rather than just another throwaway Predator installment to make a few bucks. He’s stated: It would be an”inventive sequel” to the 1987 movie and not a remake. “Why start over, when you’ve all this rich mythology yet to mine? I like the idea of expanding and exploring the existing Predator mythology, rather than hitting the restart button.” He’s also said he was resisting the urges to use CGI and keep it in line with the original’s spectacular practical effects. From what I understand he’s kinda going for a “Force Awakens” of the franchise and I just don’t see how you can really do that with Arnold involved.

So I’m throwing it out there that I think Arnold’s statement is pure BS to throw the fans off. I bet he’ll indeed be included to the cast, but as it stood it sounded like Shane wanted Dutch to appear at the end of the movie in a way similar to how Luke Skywalker appeared in the Force Awakens. So let’s consider this though, Arnold is 69 years old, though he still looks great, if he’s gonna appear in a Predator movie it better be fucking soon! To make a great sequel to the ORIGINAL movie you absolutely need Dutch, one of the only people on earth to survive an actual confrontation with the alien killing machine. I’m sure Black knows this and I just can’t imagine he wouldn’t include the character in this next movie. Arnold be the ideal addition to a team of mercenaries who try and fail to kill the creature, who then seek him out to lead the mission. Wouldn’t the cast seen in the picture below be 100 times more epic if Arnold was included?

He certainly can’t go hand to hand against a Predator when he’s nearly 70 years old but he could still get in on the action with a big ass gun and help the team in their fight, employing his knowledge & some tricks he used against them back in ’87. It’d be amazing and the only thing that’d make this sequel even better was if they also added Danny Glover from ‘Predator 2’ to the cast as well. The two of them could lead the team in their final confrontation in this installment. Again, Shane Black must know that the rich mythology and classic characters returning in “The Force Awakens” was a huge part of what made the movie a bonafide blockbuster for all ages. I realize neither Glover or Arnold have the box office draw that they did back in the 80’s, hey neither did Mark Hamill until you linked him to the Star Wars franchise. What better surprise for fans for Dutch to appear in the movie mid way through?

So now I’ve recently heard that ‘The Predator’ has been pushed back from a Feb 2018 release all the way to August 2018. Hmmm…perhaps Shane is actually reworking the script to include Arnold in a bigger role? I’m completely willing to bet this is the case. I don’t have much faith in the idea that we’ll be seeing Danny Glover appear, though it’d be absolutely amazing for the die hard fans. However I just don’t believe Shane’s gonna let a direct sequel to Predator hit the theaters without Dutch. It’d be a huge mistake. He wants this one to be epic for all Predator fans and you simply can’t do it without Arnold. The Terminator franchise more recently rammed Arnold in as a Terminator and it felt forced as fuck. Arnie again as ‘Dutch’ however feels completely natural and essential for a true Predator sequel. What do you think? You think we’ll be seeing Arnold in the next Predator or has my fanboy fantasy warped my mind?