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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Geeky Movie Night: 1982

On my drive home today, I recalled how much I'd enjoyed the movies of 1982. It was a great year for lovers of science fiction and fantasy: that year I marvelled at Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Blade Runner, Airplane II: The Sequel, Firefox, Tron, Swamp Thing, and Conan the Barbarian.

I also put up with E.T.. No year is perfect.

There were some films I was too young to see in 1982: The Thing, Cat People, Creepshow, and Poltergeist, among others. But I caught them later, and The Thing in particular became a favourite.

As I drove, I wondered if perhaps I should arrange a 1982-themed movie night. But with such a wide array of great movies to choose from, how could I possibly pick just two or three representing the SF/F/horror/cult sphere of that incredible year?

If I had to pick one film that captured the zeitgeist of my early teens, it would have to be Tron. At that age I was obsessed with computers, video arcades, and home computer games, and Tron held out the mind-bending possibility that one could enter a whole new digital realm. It also looked and sounded like no other movie.

For a second feature, I would probably choose Conan the Barbarian, which is almost the polar opposite of Tron; it's low tech, it presents a world of fantasy and magic, and the hero is a man of brawn rather than brain. And yet it's just as exciting and fun as my first choice, and the two films share the spirit of adventure that I adore most in escapist film.

Choosing a third film is considerably more difficult. As a Trekkie, I'm tempted to pick the most highly regarded of all Trek films, Wrath of Khan. It's a legitimately great movie, and holds up to this day. But it's also part of a larger story, and it feels a little weird to view a sequel without its larger context.

Blade Runner is tempting, but for authenticity you'd have to screen the original version with the happy ending and voice-over, which I think most fans of the film would see as inferior to the later director's cuts.

In the end, I'd have to wrap up my 1982 movie night with John Carpenter's The Thing, still one of the creepiest and bleakest horror movies of all time, with a terrific story, claustrophobic atmosphere, and perhaps one of the most nihilistic endings ever. It also serves as a nice counterpoint to my more upbeat choices.

How about you? I've posted a poll at right to measure my readers' favourite cult, fantasy and science fiction films of 1982. I'm interested to see what three or four or five films you might choose for you own movie night. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Facets of Madness

Here's another in a quickly growing array of bad self-portraits/lazy blog posts. At least there'll be a Wonder Woman review coming soon! 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Turn That Frown Upside Down with Bonus Horror

Yesterday Jeff suggested I should turn my smile upside-down for an even more horrifying self-portrait. I think this is pretty chilling, but it's almost tame compared to the accidental monstrosity below:
I was trying to paint out my mouth with the band-aid tool to make it easier to lay in the upside-down grimace, but Photoshop interpreted the data by filling my mouth with eyeballs. I couldn't have pulled this off if I'd been trying, that's for sure. Eurrrghh! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Going A*P*E

I've seen a lot of terrible movies, but A*P*E (1976) takes the cake. Apparently made on a budget of literally just thousands of dollars, A*P*E omits the traditional second and third acts of a normal movie and gets straight to the climax, which is of course the typical military-versus-giant-beast showdown. Setting (and shooting) the action in Korea adds a tiny bit of interest, as does the 3D format, but the performances, direction, editing and effects are so slipshod that it's hard to believe this thing ever got released. Still, it's worth a few laughs, and the in-your-face 3D gimmicks make for some cheesy fun. 

I watched A*P*E on Kino-Lorber's new Blu-Ray disc. The folks at the 3D film archive have done their usual bang-up job of restoring the image (for what it's worth), and the included commentary by Chris Alexander is informative and funny as hell. I don't know that I'd recommend this as a buy even for my bad-movie-loving friends, but it's worth at least one watch. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Front left: Darwin, Earl
Ladies: Diane, Barbara, Kathy
Gentlemen: Bruce, Evan, David

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mystery Viking

Sometime in 1972, either my parents or my aunt or uncle shot a slide of this impressive statue, reproduced here as a scan. Without a living person in the frame, it's hard to judge the statue's scale, but it looks pretty impressive to me. Does anyone know where I might find this statue? 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Visions of G&G XII

Earlier this month, I joined my G&G brethren in celebrating the twelfth (!) annual Gaming & Guinness gathering. By now, anyone who follows this blog knows the drill: once a year, I meet with some old buddies and we play games and drink Guinness (well, most of us; Scott and I are teetotallers). Every year is special in its own way, and this time around three highlights stand out: the swag, the group photo concept, and my successful attempt to make X-Wing more efficient.

You can see the swag above: Island Mike and Rob collaborated to mint challenge coins for the group. Not only are they quite handsome works of art, they bring the challenge coin tradition to G&G; for those unawares, members of any challenge coin group are meant to carry their coin at all times. If you run into another member of the group, you can challenge that person to present their coin; if they don't have it with them, they need to buy you a drink (or perform another service of similar value). If they meet your challenge, you buy them a round, and so on.

Jeff came up with the idea of staging a photo that presents us as a bunch of back-alley gamblers.
Since we were all wearing our jerseys from last year, we took the opportunity to shoot them from the rear:
As for X-Wing, I learned from last year's mistake of having everyone take the time to custom-build their own fleets. It's fun in principle, but it adds at least an hour of preparation to the game. I avoided that this time by pre-building ship options and limiting ship choices to those few that were to be used in the scenario I developed, which pitted a squad of basic TIE fighters and a Firespray against a hodgepodge Rebel fleet trying to get away with a stolen TIE fighter and a freighter full of defectors. The Imperials won this particular engagement, and the game flew by quite quickly. Lesson learned!

And now, some selected photographic highlights from the festivities...

Congratulations to Steve for winning Circvs Maximvs for the first time, and to Jeff and Scott for reaching the podium. And thanks to Mike for hosting!