Saturday, August 18, 2012


BAM!                  POW!

Top 10 lists are pretty much the ultimate cliché when it comes to ranking items.  No matter if it is movies, TV shows, books, comics, music, or hot chicks the instant a list is compiled it is ripe for debate and just as quickly labeled out-of-date.

I wanted to put out a list of my TOP 10 SUPERHERO MOVIES in the spring.  Three things prevented me from doing it: THE AVENGERS, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.  At the time, none had been released and based on previews I expected a few to possibly muscle their way into my work-in-progress list.  So I waited…then the movies came out…then I pondered.

Starting below and continuing over the next several posts I will countdown my personal TOP 10 FAVORITE SUPERHERO MOVIES.  Each entry will come with the various reasons why it made my list.  My primary focus were comic book superheroes that were successfully transferred onto the big screen.  In determining my 10 rankings (and I made sure there would be no cheating “ties”) the following criteria was used: my personal entertainment, repeat viewings, the need to own the movie on DVD, and what I deemed a successful move from comic-book to screen.   Critical ratings and box office were not items I cared about, since when I watch (and rewatch) a movie at home I never worry about what other people thought of the movie or how well it did at the box office.

A fairly thorough list of every superhero movie ever made can be found by CLICKING HERE.   Keep in mind I only counted films that had their origins as a comic book/pulp magazine first (sorry Meteor you had a chance).

As I wrote down and eventually crossed off all the entries that didn’t quite merit a Top 10 ranking, I found things becoming more difficult as my list was soon narrowed to 20 titles.  All of these offerings were excellent choices and this is where my quest for my personal Top 10 begins.  I am listing them in alphabetical order and then the countdown fun (and debate) begins.

BATMAN (1989)

Ok, already I’m sure someone is bellyaching that Superman IV: The Quest for Peace or X-Men 2 aren’t on my list.  At the conclusion of my countdown I’ll address those films that didn’t make my list as well as those that made the Top 20 but were axed as things start being sorted out.

Time to get things rolling…(drum roll)


I was a huge fan of the X-Men comic back in the 80’s when Chris Claremont and John Byrne produced some epic storylines.  Then the “X” became more of a franchise label and everyone on the planet jumped on the bandwagon.  That’s pretty much when I jumped off.

            I didn’t enjoy X-Men or X2, and I never even bothered to see X-Men United.  But, when this new take on the franchise came out, I sucked up my displeasure of the previous entries and gave it a shot.  To my surprise…I loved it.

            The casting of this movie was spot on and the pace was perfect.  James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (outstanding in his scenes in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS) own this movie as Professor Xavier and Magneto.  In fact, if the entire movie had simply revolved around Magneto hunting down and killing war criminals, that would have been fine with me.  X-Men:FC made Magento what he should be…a powerhouse bad ass!  In the first movies, he’s too old and too fragile to really command fear.  But here, his actions (and they are brutal) set the tone of who exactly the other characters are dealing with.  The partnership of Professor X and Magneto is a great deal of fun to watch, between their chess, verbal spats, and training of the younger mutants.

            The time period of the 1960’s is also fully realized in this movie.  Everything builds to a nice climactic battle between the good and evil mutants during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  That’s very important!  In any superhero movie, if the final battle isn’t worth the ride, then too much is missed as viewer expectations dwindle (a major stumbling point of movies like Fantastic Four and Iron Man 2).

            X-Men: First Class holds up well on repeat viewings and has me excited for the sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Maybe the movie should have been a bit higher on the list, but the sheer disappointment I had for the other entries in this franchise (and the fact that the box office of this superior movie, wasn’t as strong as the other three) weighed it down a bit.

#9 and #8…soon…

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flash Fiction Web Site Sampling!

Been a decent month for writing.  Two projects are moving along nicely and I have hopes that both will see availability before 2012 is over.

Where the character from Adjusted begins his bad journey.
First up, I am 80% finished with another 100+-page collection of horror short stories and flash fiction.  Straying away from merely locking myself in to 666-words...but I found a new number that works well.  Currently 30 flash fiction stories finished and I am working on the final two full length shorts that are part of a fun little vampire-werewolf-mummy trilogy that I've always wanted to nod my head in appreciation to.  The cover design for this collection of scary yarns is already finished, so if I can knock out these last twenty pages or so before August is done, I'll be able to move things along to the editing and formatting stages (both of which thankfully take the book out of my hands).

Give Teddy a hug!

At the same time I needed to branch away from sole horror stories for a bit.  It's hard to focus on death and grim tidings when it's 90 degrees and sunny outside.  So, I have managed 200-pages and counting on a unique novel (in presentation) in a genre that is much beloved to me - Superheroes.  This book is a real labor of love for me and based on my initial outlines and notes, and based on the percentage of the story that has been told so far, I'm projecting it to come in around 500 pages when complete.  The "bible" alone was 40-pages.  Something I really needed in order to keep all the various masked crimefighters, and their stories, sorted as I wrote.  No cover yet for this project, but I'm pricing out offers and will hopefully have a visual idea handed to me in a month or two.

In the meantime, a few of my stories have been published on a couple of great horror fiction websites.  If you enjoy reading some short tales while browsing the web, both sites are well worth your time.

First up, THRILLERS, KILLERS, N' CHILLERS just placed my story ADJUSTED up at their site.  It's one of my favorites from my first collection IN 666 WORDS.

You can read my story ADJUSTED by clicking here, and stick around on their site and check out some other great spooky contributions from a wide assortment of authors.

The great flash-fiction website MICROHORROR has also accepted a number of my stories.  TEDDY is one from my future project that I think gets the job done in a short amount of space.  It was obviously inspired by the movie TED...although there probably won't be any laughing Thunder Buddies for the characters in my Teddy's world.  Go check out Teddy and some of my other short offerings by clicking here.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Godzilla Pentagonal Feature! (Yep 5 of them!)

As a child I relied on the Saturday afternoon Creature Feature on Channel 20 or Monster Week on the 4 O'Clock movie to get my Godzilla-Fix.  I used to love the weekly marathons that inevitably ended with Friday's showing of Destroy All Monsters.  But as I grew I seemed to drift apart from Japan's truest fixture of cinematic entertainment.

Thanks to the technology of 2012 (namely Netflix Instant or the DVR), I've been able to reconnect with the lovable atomic fueled giant lizard.  Over the past few days I engulfed myself in GHIDORAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER (1964), GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO (1965), GODZILLA'S REVENGE (1969), THE TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1976), and GODZILLA, MOTHRA, GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK! (2001)

Ghidorah looks tough. 
Thank goodness Godzilla has
that larvae as his tag-team
I won't bore you with long winded reviews that delve too deeply into plots.  The Godzilla franchise never really seems to pay homage to their own movies.  Characters, plots, storylines, timelines, history, origins, who is good and who is's all just window-dressing.  Godzilla seems to stumble from picture to picture not sure if he's a friend to children or whether it's time for the people of Tokyo to get their annual wake up call so insurance adjusters can all declare bankruptcy.  And, suffice to say, when you plant a grade on a Godzilla have to understand the category of movie we're talking about.  An A+ for a Godzilla movie is probably akin to a 'C' for standard fare so please...don't breathe atomic fire onto this genre enthusiast of Japanese cinema blogger.

1) GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER seems to have an awful lot of confusing plot for a standard monster movie.  All I remember is that it all eventually boils down to Godzilla, Mothra (the larvae version), and Rodan battling things out with the title character.  In the midst of this we get a princess with amnesia, a supposed history of Mars, a meteor monster egg, and some running, chasing, and shooting from a variety of human characters that I couldn't keep straight.  Whenever the monsters weren't on screen...I was underenthused.  And I guess I should note that if that damn larvae wasn't around, Ghidorah would have won because apparently Godzilla and Rodan don't live up to the hype when they're a tag team!  Grrr....  Godzilla Rating - 4 smashed buildings out of 10.

2) GODZILLA VS. MONSTER ZERO...OK now things get moving.  We're back to Mars only this time humans are traveling there and back...and there again.  Apparently Ghidorah is back on Mars and causing some real estate issues (Tokyo breathes a sigh of relief).  Earth (or really Japan and one token American) decide to send Godzilla and Rodan to help the martians out.  But it's all just a ploy so the monsters can be turned against us.  Luckily that one American figures it out...and along with the nerdy Japanese lab guy they set things right so Godzilla and Rodan can pummel Ghidorah, who is called Monster Zero even though he has three heads?  Shouldn't it be Monster Three?
Mars stops by to pick up Godzilla and Rodan.
    I enjoyed this offering more than the previous entry.  I found it amusing that the American actor was actually speaking his lines in English (even though he was dubbed you can clearly see that he's saying the same words...and that all the Japanese actors are merely waiting for a pause so they can deliver their lines...since they have no clue what the hell he's really saying).  It was nice that the martians decided they didn't really need Mothra.  Seriously, what drugged out screenwriter decided that a giant moth larvae would be a good monster? 
     There's also two classic moments for laughter in this entry.  First, upon defeating Ghidorah the first time Godzilla decides to dance The Jig, lots of foot work required for the big green guy...and some joyous jumping.  While watching him on a monitor the martian leader can't help but say, "Ah yes, a truly happy moment!"  Second, when the American hero (how did that ever fly in Japan) and his fiance return home, the martians are waiting for them.  In what amounts to the world's longest disintigration blast the hero watches his true love dissolve before his eyes.  His response, "YOU RATS!  YOU DIRTY STINKING RATS!"  Godzilla Rating - 6.5 smashed skyscrapers out of 10.

This picture will probably be on my Christmas
cards this year.
3) GODZILLA'S REVENGE!!!!!  This thing must have been an after-school special or something.  The movie focuses on this little fat kid who is bullied, lonely, and has far too strong of an imagination.  His no-show parents enjoy letting him spend too much time with an elderly chain-smoking neighbor, and over rice (naturally) they talk about monsters.  When Short Round goes home he appranently has a bad trip from the mushrooms Smokey mixed in with the rice and dreams of visiting Monster Island where he watches Godzilla fight The Sea Monster and a giant spider (both simply stock footage from other movies.  Then in what has to be the single funniest moment in the history of this franchise, the fat bellied lad ends up striking up a conversation with Minya (Godzilla's son) who, of course is also bullied by a big monster named Gabbra.
     Wimpy watches Minya solve his problems with a lot of biting and growling.  Then when his "trip" ends he finds out he's being kidnapped by some local thieves.  Folks, I am not making this up.  He fights the crooks off by biting and growling like a monster.  Then at the end he uses these same techniques on the local bullies...and the movies ends a few minutes before this Little Monster is obviously committed.  Godzilla Rating - 2 smashed outhouses out of 10 (solely because I laughed for two hours when this travesty finally ended).  In retrospect, I'm not really sure about that title either.  What exactly was Godzilla's Revenge?  Was it his revenge to train this annoying kid and turn him loose on the children of Tokyo?  Or is his revenge going to take place on the film-makers who greenlit this movie and practically turned the big green guy into a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother just to keep his name in the spotlight...?

A cool retro art poster.

4) THE TERROR OF MECHA-GODZILLA is the movie that my friend considers the pinnacle of the Godzilla franchise.  It's pretty good.  In a rare ode to the series, this movie actually plays as a sequel to the previous entry Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla.  It involves more creepy bad guys controlling monsters and rebuilding the tituar character.  The music in this entry is solid.  Godzilla has a dynamite introduction about 45 minutes into the movie when he has to deliver a serious ass-kicking to some D-rate monster named Titanosaurous.  Then the two Godzilla duke it out.  Godzilla swims away, presumably to Monster Island to check on that fat kid, victorious at the end...of course one year later Star Wars showed up in movie theatres so immediately this entire series seemed dated and Godzilla pretty much stayed on that island for quite a while.  Godzilla Rating - 7 smashed bridges out of 10.

I like this poster.
The Japanese symbols really add
to the atmosphere of it.
Overall, a good movie too!
5) GODZILLA, MOTHRA, GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK!  This movie caught me by surprise.  It started out pretty much throwing away the entire history of the Godzilla franchise except for the original movie (and a sligh joke about the god awful US version).  Godzilla shows up and he's 100% evil.  Luckily Earth has the three-guardian monsters...Baragon, Mothra (again!?), and Ghidorah (fighting on the side of angels this time).  Now the three guardians are here to protect us...but that doesn't mean that humans and property aren't going to get a whole lot of flat before this opus is done.
     The effects in this movie walk a fine line between looking cool...and real hokey.  Literally it depends on the camera angle.  The characters are ridiculous, but the joy comes because the film makers realize this...and pretty much wipe out the entire cast.  There are some awesome deaths in this movie that had me gut busting because I just couldn't believe they were delivering them.  When you see a wounded girl in a hospital...nope...can't spoil it...suffice to say, the entire hospital goes down hard.  The battles with Godzilla and each of the monsters are well filmed, although for such a big deal I thought Ghidorah came off like a bit of a wimp, and even Mothra has a couple of grand moments which made me smile.  And frankly, that's what happened when I was watching this movie.  I started smiling and for that the Godzilla Rating - 8 smashed hospitals out of 10.  The title don't lie.  Once the monsters start showing up and the all-out attacking gets going, there's some great entertainment to be had.