Weekly Reading Round-Up : 05/20/2018 – 05/26/2018, Brian Canini And Pat Aulisio

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Let’s talk some mini comics! I’ve been getting a ton of them in the mail lately and am doing my best to keep up (if you’ve sent me some and haven’t seen ’em reviewed yet, rest assured, I’m getting around to everything in the next week or two — and if you haven’t sent me any but want to, get in touch!), so let’s dive right in and take a look at some of what’s been coming my way, starting with a trio from our old friend Brian Canini and his Drunken Cat Comics self-publishing imprint —

Roulette is a stark and unforgiving (just check out that cover) eight-pager about a couple “dudebros” who have hit rock bottom and are indulging in the preferred method of drunken Russians to end their suffering. What exactly brought the pair of them to this point is only hinted at, but it’s not like…

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Solo: A Star Wars Story, A review with the spoilers that you deserve! By Case Wright


GO SEE THIS MOVIE! I don’t remember when Star Wars came out, but I do remember when Empire did and I loved it.  Yes, there were some deeper themes to these movies, but at their heart they were fun like a beach read.  We, the fans, have made these films into something they never were serious think pieces.  I just saw a youtube video where a guy was trying to describe the “correct” routes Han would have to take through the Kessel Run. Give it a rest!

This movie did what the last 6 have failed to do: Entertain.  Rogue One was a melancholy piece of trash about sending an email on a vhs tape.  BORING.  The rest are mind-numbingly painful experiences that are determined to take themselves so seriously that I have had more fun reviewing license agreements for my latest Turbo Tax software.  I really don’t care about Rey or the Ugly Gloomy Kid Kylo Ren who failed to get any of Han’s good looks.  If I were Han, I would have called up Maury Povich about that kid.

This movie did what it was supposed to do first: entertain.  It’s like the other movies never bothered to put that basic principle into the writers’ room.  Ron Howard really did a great job with the film and Alden Ehrenreich really succeeded in capturing a pre-cynical, but still cocky Han.  It could be that I also liked this story because Han reminds me the most of myself: edgy, cocky, wise-cracking, iconoclast, with devastating good looks.

The story even opens uniquely without any moody sad bullshit. Instead, it opens with some text, the title card, and Han driving away fast and furious, and a bit bloodied.  There’s no everyone’s perfect and noble blah blah blah.  Within 30 minutes, you are transported to a high-stakes futuristic train robbery that if it had a couple tumbleweeds and player piano, it would have been a great Western.

Han begins his quest because he loses his love Emilia Clarke.  Han between you and me: you gotta lock that down.  Other than Emilia, everyone else in the universe is gross and scaly even pretty people make ugly kids (see above) there must be radiation in this galaxy far far away or some such shit.  Han figures that if he does enough smuggling and heists he’ll get enough cash, to buy a ship and get Emilia Clarke out of the hellhole from whence she came. It doesn’t quite work out the way he plans, but you see a great character arc as Han become more cynical and savvy as the rogue we will eventually love.

As he is going on his big heist, we watch his friendship develop with Chewy, Lando, and most of all the Millenium Falcon which comes across as a character herself.  Most of the critics who have done middling reviews seem to focus on the box office, but unless you’re a shareholder of Newscorp or an accountant at 20th Century fox, why do you care?!  Another bizarre critique is that it’s too fun or not melancholy enough as Rogue One.  Okay, I have solution for the people who don’t think this amazingly well-done feature isn’t sad enough for them:  Go see this film, then shortly thereafter do a search for political twitter and then click show threads or just look up one of your hollywood heroes and count the indictments.



Cleaning Out The DVR: Mommy’s Little Angel (dir by Curtis Crawford)

(I recorded Mommy’s Little Angel off of Lifetime on March 17th.)

Katie Porters (Morgan Nuendorf) may only be 12 years old but she’s already had to deal with a lot.

Her mother, Shawna (Kimberly Laferriere), loves her and swears that she would do anything to protect Katie but she’s also a pill-popping drug addict who is constantly on the verge of losing control.  It doesn’t help, of course, that Katie keeps hiding her mother’s pills.  It’s almost as if Kate is trying to get her mother in trouble…

Her father, Darren (Peter Michael Dillon), just spent three years in jail for physically abusing Shawna.  Darren says that he just wants to be with his daughter but Shawna wants nothing to do with him and moves to a different town to get away from him.  Of course, Darren always manages to track Katie and Shawna down.  That probably has something to do with the fact that Katie is always letting him know where she and her mother are hiding.

Katie’s a bad kid with bad thoughts but no one realizes it, largely because she’s only 12 years old and she always knows how to smile and be charming.  For instance, Shawn’s cousin, Nikki (Amanda Clayton), thinks that Katie’s the best!  And Katie likes Nikki, too!  Of course, what’s not to like?  Nikki has a nice big house and, because she’s desperate to be a mother herself, spoils Katie.  In fact, Katie even tells Shawna that she doesn’t care if anything bad ever happens to Shawna.  “I’ll go live with Aunt Nikki,” Katie says.

What a little brat!

Anyway, something bad does eventually happen to Shawna.  She ends up getting tossed off of the top level of a parking garage.  The police and everyone else assume that Shawna committed suicide.  Of course, what they don’t know is that 1) Darren murdered Shawna and 2) Katie arranged for Shawna to be murdered.

So now, Katie is finally living with her Aunt Nikki!  And you would think that Katie would be happy about this!  But no, Katie’s never happy.  As soon as she moves in, Katie comes to realize that there’s all sorts of things competing for Nikki’s attention.  Whether it’s her job or even her husband, Nikki always seems to be putting other things ahead of Katie.

And then, Nikki discovers that she’s pregnant!

Guess how Katie responds to that?

In recent years, Lifetime has shown a surprisingly large number of psycho kid films.  They really do tap into feelings and fears to which all women can relate.  What if your child does grow up to be a psycho?  Also, what if your friend or cousin does a terrible job parenting and then dies and suddenly, you find yourself obligated to take care of their murderous children?  It’s a concern because, deep down, we’re always convinced that most people have no idea how to raise children.

The thing that distinguishes Mommy’s Little Angel from other Lifetime movie about killer kids is just how efficient Katie is in her villainy.  I mean, Katie doesn’t mess around.  When she decides to set a house on fire, it’s obvious that she knows exactly what she’s doing.  When it’s time for Katie to try to convince Nikki to kill for her, Katie chants, “Kill him, Nikki.  Kill him…”  It’s not just that little Katie is evil.  It’s that Katie’s so happy about it!  It all leads to a film that’s enjoyably melodramatic and over-the-top, even by the wonderful standards of Lifetime.

Seriously, don’t turn your back on Katie…

4 Shots From 4 Peter Cushing Films: Hamlet, Doctor Who and the Daleks, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Star Wars

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 lets the visuals do the talking!

Today is Peter Cushing’s birthday!  This edition of 4 Shots From 4 Films is dedicated to him, his memory, and his career!

4 Shots From 4 Peter Cushing Films

Hamlet (1948, dir by Laurence Olivier)

Doctor Who and the Daleks (1965, dir by Gordon Flemyng)

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969, dir by Terence Fisher)

Star Wars (1977, dir by George Lucas)


Happy World Redhead Day!

by Charles Blinger

Everyone be sure to wish my sister a Happy World Redhead Day!

The pulps have always love redheads, especially when they had a gun in their hand or a seductive gleam in their eye.  In honor of World Redhead Day, here are some of pulp fiction’s best redheads!

by Julian Paul

by Robert Maguire

by Robert McGinnis

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

by Jean Chapman

by Harry Barton

by Robert McGinnis

Unknown Artist

Unknown Artist

by Harry Barton

The TSL’s Grindhouse: Clown (dir by Jon Watts)

Clown, a gory horror film, sucks.

I can’t say that I was particularly surprised to discover that it sucked but still, I was hoping that it would be better than it turned out to be.  That’s largely because the film itself has a fairly compelling backstory.  In 2010, director Jon Watts and his co-writer, Christopher D. Ford, uploaded a fake trailer for Clown to YouTube, in which they stated that the film would be produced by Eli Roth.  Roth saw the trailer and was so impressed that he actually did decide to produce the film.

Filming began in 2010 and the film spent a while playing the festival circuit, where it got the type of vaguely respectable reviews that are usually given to low-budget horror films made by amateur filmmakers that no one is ever expecting to hear from again.  In 2012, Dimension Films and FilmNation Entertainment acquired the rights to distribute Clown.  What followed was an agonizing wait as Clown was basically released in almost every other country in the world. except for the USA.  In fact, it wouldn’t be until 2016 that Clown would get an American release.  During that time, Jon Watts received deserved acclaim for directing Cop Car and he was hired by Marvel to direct Spider-Man: Homecoming.

As an admirer of Watts’s subsequent films, I was really interested in seeing Clown.  So, yesterday afternoon, I sat down and I watched Clown on Netflix.

Clown is the story of a stupid guy named Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) who tries to save his son’s birthday party by dressing up like a clown.  What Kent doesn’t know is that the clown makeup is cursed and that, by putting it on, he’s now allowed himself to be possessed by a demon that feeds on children!  What a dumbass!  Kent tries to wash the makeup off his face but it won’t come off.  He tries to take off his rainbow wig, just to discover that it’s now permanently attached to scalp.  His wife uses a screw driver to try to pop off the red nose but, instead, she just rips his real nose to pieces.  (The family dog eats the red nose and promptly becomes possessed.)  Kent keeps telling everyone that he’s been possessed by a demon but no one believes him.  Everyone just thinks that he’s a weirdo in clown makeup.

It sounds more interesting than it is.  For all the promise in the idea of a possessed clown, Clown doesn’t do much with it.  Clown is 90 minutes long but it only has enough plot for 30 minutes.  The remaining hour is basically made up of characters repeating what we already know.  We watch as Kent learns that the clown makeup is cursed.  Then, we have to follow his wife as she does her own research and discovers that the clown makeup is cursed.  Then, Peter Stomare shows up and starts explaining to everyone that the clown makeup is cursed.  By this point, I was yelling at the screen, “I KNOW THIS ALREADY!”

Throughout the film, there are hints of the Jon Watts’s talent but, for the most part, they remain merely that.  There’s an effective scene that takes place in a jungle gym at Chuck-E-Cheese’s and occasionally, there will be a line of dialogue or a movement of the camera that actually lives up to the plot’s subversive potential.  However, especially when compared to Cop Car and Spider-Man, Clown is an abysmally paced film.  It’s also terribly acted with Andy Powers neither sympathetic nor compelling as the possessed man in clown makeup.  Not even a reliable character actor like Peter Stomare can bring much to the material.

The general rule of most horror films is that, no matter what the threat, dogs and children usually survive.  The film not only breaks that rule but it breaks it multiple times.  In fact, there’s so much blood spilled in the film that I actually found myself getting depressed watching it.  Lacking both a satiric edge and any real interest in subverting the horror genre, Clown instead comes across as being unnecessarily mean-spirited.  It’s just not much fun to watch.

When it comes to killer clowns, stick with Pennywise.