This Week’s Reading Round-Up : 10/22/2017 – 10/28/2017

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Hey! Whatcha reading this week? I’ll tell you what stood out, for good ill, in my book pile —

R. Sikoryak breaks the mold and gets contemporary in The Unquotable Trump, done up in old-school “giant size special” format by Drawn + Quarterly, and man oh man is this a humdinger of unfortunate laughs. Real quotes from our shithead-in-chief transposed onto re-creations of classic comic book covers (ranging from Plop! to 300 to Watchmen to X-Men and everything in between) is one of those things that only seems like a “no-brainer” after someone’s already done it, and if that “someone” is Sikoryak, you know you’re in very good hands. I guess he originally did this as a 16-page b&w mini-comic, but 48 lush, gigantic, full-color pages is definitely a big step up and does the material justice. It’s all got a tinge of gallows humor to it right now…

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Head In The “Cartoon Clouds”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Another quasi-autobiographical art school memoir — is this what the world really needs these days?

It certainly seems a reasonable enough question — after all, Clowes pretty much eviscerated every last narrative inch available to anyone looking to mine this vein, and in just a handful of pages no less, with his (pre-Hollywood) “Art School Confidential” strip about 20 years ago, didn’t he? Still,  in the ensuing decades, any number of cartoonists have figured that their pre-and post-graduate “salad days” were worth telling us about, to the point where one could be forgiven for thinking there’s just nothing new to be gained from one more guy or gal going down this road. And yet —

Joseph Remnant started serializing the work that would eventually become his first “solo” graphic novel, Cartoon Clouds, something like seven or eight years ago. He was slapping it up page-by-page online first, and then…

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Horror on TV: Thriller 2.14 “Portrait Without A Face” (dir by John Newland)

For tonight’s televised horror, we have another episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted anthology series, Thriller!

In Portrait Without A Face, an arrogant painter is murdered.  No one knows who murdered him but don’t worry.  Just because he’s dead, that doesn’t mean the artist has to stop painting!  In fact, his first post-death painting might just be a picture of the person who killed him…

A Movie A Day #292: The Bride (1985, directed by Franc Roddam)

The Bride opens where most films about Frankenstein and his monster end.

The Baron (played by fucking Sting, of all people) has agreed to create a bride for his creation, who in this movie is named Viktor and played by Clancy Brown.  Jennifer Beals plays the Bride, who is named Eva.  Eva looks like a normal, beautiful wielder-turned-dancer so when she first sees Viktor, she screams.  Viktor gets upset and starts to trash the laboratory.  “Don’t be impertinent!’ snaps the Baron’s assistant (Quentin Crisp).  A fire breaks out.  Quentin Crisp dies and so does another assistant played by Timothy Spall.  The monster escapes.  The Baron takes Eva into his household.  The Baron is obsessed with controlling Eva, who wants her independence and who has fallen in love with Cary Elwes.  When Eva sees a cat, she screams.  “You never told me about cats,” she tells the Baron, “I thought it was a tiny lion!”

The rest of the movie is a bewildering collection of cameos from respected thespians forced to recite some of the worst dialogue in film history.  Viktor befriends Rinaldo the dwarf (David Rappaport), who tells Viktor about how much he dreams of one day seeing Venice.  After Rinaldo is murdered by Alexei Sayle, Viktor swears that he will go to Venice and he will take Eva with him.

(Timothy Spall,  Quentin Crisp, and Alexei Sayle are not the only British performers to be strangely miscast in The Bride.  Keep an eye out for Phil Daniels, Ken Campbell, and Tony Haygarth, all wasted in small roles.)

The Bride attempts to put a revisionist, feminist spin on the story of Frankenstein but it ultimately just looks like a two hour Duran Duran video, with a guest vocals provided by Sting.  The scenes with Clancy Brown and David Rappaport work but otherwise, every important role is miscast.  Jennifer Beals is monotonous as the Bride and Sting never comes close to suggesting that he is capable of the type of mad genius that would be necessary to create life.  When it comes to the Bride of Frankenstein, stick with the original.

One final note: Both Sting and Phil Daniels also appeared in a much better film from Franc Roddam, Quadrophenia.  I recommend seeing Quadrophenia almost as much as I recommend forgetting about The Bride.

Halloween Havoc!: MAN MADE MONSTER (Universal 1941)

cracked rear viewer

Lon Chaney Jr.  made his first foray into Universal Horror with MAN MADE MONSTER, the movie that led to his studio contract and immortality with THE WOLF MAN . Both films were directed by George Waggner, who also wrote the script here under the pseudonym Joseph West. Lon’s large and in charge as the electrical monster, but top billing and acting honors go to Hollywood’s maddest of mad doctors, the great Lionel Atwill .

A bus crashes into high tension wires on a rain slicked highway, leaving all aboard dead save one. He’s Dan McCormick, a carny performer known as ‘Dynamo Dan, The Electric Man’. His seeming imperviousness to electricity piques the interest of scientist Professor Lawrence, who invites the jovial Dan to stay with him and his young niece June. Lawrence wants to run some experimental tests on Dan, but when he leaves for a medical convention his assistant…

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Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Adventures In The Internet Archive #18: Daleks (1985)

For my next adventure in the dark side of the Internet Archive, I played Daleks (1985).

I’m the Doctor!?  It’s about time!  And I’m battling the Daleks?

It’s time to let those dogmatic salt and pepper shakers know who’s the boss!  Press any key to continue?  Just try to stop me!

Those do not look like Daleks.  I guess that stick figure is me, the Doctor.

The game itself is simple.  Every time that The Doctor moves, the Daleks move:

If a Dalek touches you, the game is over.  The only way to eliminate a Dalek is to get it to run into another Dalek.  It is not easy but it can be done, as my high score of 30 attests.  It took me a while to get over my disappointment that the Daleks in the game did not say “Exterminate!” but if you can overlook that, Daleks is an addictive and challenging game.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special George Waggner Edition

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director: George Waggner!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Horror Island (1941, dir by George Waggner)

Man-Made Monster (1941, dir by George Waggner)

The Wolf Man (1941, dir by George Waggner)

Red Nightmare (1957, dir by George Waggner)


Jedadiah Leland’s Horrific Adventures in The Internet Archive #17: Uninvited (1986, ICOM Simulations, Inc)

Continuing my journey through the dark side of the Internet Archive, I played Uninvited (1986, ICOM Simulations, Inc.).

At the start of Uninvited, you are driving down an isolated road when something darts out in front of you.  You swerve to avoid it and crash your car.  When you regain consciousness, you discover that your younger brother, who was in the passenger’s seat, has disappeared.  Did he go for help or has something else happened?

Maybe it has something to do with the mansion that is looming in front of your car.

You can search for your brother in the house.  In fact, that is the only option that is available to you.  There are a lot of rooms to explore but be careful.  There are also ghosts, zombies, and other things that you do not want to run into.  On the plus side, the game will usually warn you before you go into the wrong room.  On the negative side, sometimes it won’t and this will happen:

Though Uninvited‘s point-and-click system can seem clunky by today’s standards, I enjoyed playing it.  I haven’t found my brother, yet, but I am sure he is out there somewhere.

Horror on the Lens: Cruel Jaws (dir by Bruno Mattei)

Today’s horror on the lens is the 1995 Italian film, Cruel Jaws!

As you’ll quickly notice, though the actors speak in English, there are also Japanese subtitles.  That’s because the film was barely released in the United States, for legal reasons.  (Cruel Jaws is full of footage lifted from better-known shark films.)  However, it was very popular in Japan.

This film was directed by the one and only Bruno Mattei.  You can read my review here.