2 Aug

Trailer for ‘The F.P.’ is strange, many varieties of awesome.

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday August 2, 2011 | News

The FP by Tyler StoutI’ve complained at length about this new culture of cult film made-to-order. This wave of cheapo pictures that were made to remind you of all the crappy stuff you discovered on VHS back in the day or, if you’re old enough, in trashy city movie theaters and drive-ins. Nearly all of them fall on their face with rare exceptions like Black Dynamite (which is like Dolemite but funnier) and Hobo With A Shotgun (which seems like a long-lost Troma flick). I’m immediately skeptical of all these movies that come out that are practically drowning in nostalgia for the low-end of the video store menu but I try to give everyone a fair shake in spite of my prejudice. Case in point, The FP.

Somehow, The FP managed to escape the iron jaws of movie bloggery back when the South By Southwest film festival was going on. I remember seeing the Tyler Stout poster and The Alamo seemed to be pretty excited about the flick but beyond the SXSW screening, the press seemed to pass on it. As a matter of fact, I didn’t hear much about the movies coming out of that fest this year and now that the legendary Alamo Drafthouse has their own distribution arm, it seems like they’re using Austin as a proving ground for weirdo stuff that’s coming out the festival and into their distro network. Their personal ace in the hole, though, is Evan Husney who has been my contact at Severin Films for the last couple of years, a guy who drove that company and it’s sister label, Intervision, straight to the center of my jaded heart by shifting the focus away from just another Grindhouse Releasing knockoff to become the vanguard of gonzo video. Evan has this uncanny ability to locate the craziest shit ever produced and then somehow manages to hype it up online so that people actually drop coin on a flick like Sledgehammer or Birdemic. Securing The FP for Drafthouse looks like year zero for a new era in the ‘new cult’.

The FP

Some of my favorite guilty pleasures when I was a kid on a Friday night with five bucks in pocket and nowhere in particular to be were low budget sci-fi dystopias and post-apocalypse movies. I’ll never quite understand what’s so thrilling to me about the survival scenario or this notion of living in a society on the verge of total collapse but it really resonates with me. Thanks to these movies, I’m left with the impression that everything is awesome when there’s no job to go to and no economy to speak of except for this sprawling black market of everything you might need with nothing between you and it but a nifty barter system. The stars of these flicks do nothing but find themselves in exciting situations, double crosses, cool muscle cars and wild parties. Meanwhile, every one of these stars is accompanied on their road to ruin by hot women in too much makeup, spandex/fishnet mashups and hair that defies gravity and clearly requires a tremendous amount of product that you’re not likely to find in the wake of total social collapse. Apparently, the brothers Trost, harbor the same fantasies and a deep appreciation of irony that resulted in the production of The FP, which takes that crumbling, grimy setting and replaces the usual car chases through the desert with Dance Dance Revolution matches with lethal consequences  for the loser. Need to read that line again? Go ahead. I’ll wait.

You know what? Why don’t you just watch the trailer? It’s loaded with uncomfortably cheesy one liners and ridiculous costuming. The FP is what would happen if someone gave Kid Rock $500,000 and a directive to make a movie, any movie.

27 Jul

Comic Con recap: Telepresence Style!

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday July 27, 2011 | News

Comic Con LogoI’ve never been to Comic Con and I’m pretty sure that I never will. That ship has sailed. No sour grapes, though. As much as I’d love to check it out, I’m pretty sure I’d be fucking miserable in some of those legendary Hall H lines that are synonymous with the Whale’s Vagina Comic Con. Wireless internet is in short supply and you can only play Angry Birds for so long before reality dawns on you, forcing you to face facts that you’ve been camped out for hours numbering more than 5 to catch a trailer, some production stills and an hour of the cast tickling the audience. This reality is made worse when you realize that everyone else will have seen the same photos, the same trailer and highlights from the panel in video and written word only moments after you and all they had to do was bring up Facebook, Ain’t It Cool or io9 or some shit and it’s all right there for them and they didn’t have to bother putting on pants. The internet is a cruel mistress, indeed.

In years past, Comic Con has been a major headline maker in my various RSS feeds. The entire weekend is dominated by headlines bearing the prefix SDCC: but this year seemed a bit quieter. I don’t know if its the glamor of Comic Con fading after years of big hype or if it’s a sign of the economy but the show, at least the news coming out of it seemed leaner. To the point, in fact, that I didn’t feel like I could follow it all and put it in single articles relevant to each piece of news. I would have had a couple dozen tiny articles! I had a super secret agent on the ground over there, actually. Abby Chamberlain, who wrote that great obituary for the late Harvey Pekar. Hopefully, her wrap-up of the show will be filed shortly as it’ll be cool to have a first-person perspective of the show. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for this wishful thinking recap from both myself and site contributor, Tony Nunes, as we embark on this cross-site promotion combining our efforts into a dual-site attack on what we feel is the coolest shit out of Comic Con. Consider us the Wonder Twins of Comic Con coverage. Cinema Suicide and Dreaming Genius. Two great tastes that taste great together. Wonder Twins power activate!

Continue Reading »

22 Jul

5 kilometers of mud, obstacles and zombies: Run For Your Lives!

Posted by Bryan White | Friday July 22, 2011 | News

Run For Your Lives 5K Obstacle RaceBack in May of this year I ran in the undisputed king of obstacle races, Tough Mudder. It was 10 miles of agony up and down Mount Snow in Vermont, broken up by twenty seven obstacles ranging in difficulty from the absolutely brutal to the positively pedestrian and in the end the experience acted as a sort of benchmark for the 10 months of training I’d undergone to get fit and lose a shitload of weight. I did really well and the run was a lot of fun. So much fun, in fact, that I’m already signed up for next year’s Tough Mudder New England.

Coming off of Tough Mudder was a lot like being high. I buzzed with energy and everything around me seemed far less intense in the wake of that run. I badly wanted to do it again or something like it but these races tend to be pretty expensive so I had to gradually come down from the buzz and get on with my regular life but you better believe that I became pretty familiar with the many varieties of these runs. Since Spartan Race, Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder gained steam, it looked like every venue in the world capable of hosting a race like this suddenly had their own. You had Renegade Playground, Metro Dash, Muddy Buddy, Jailbreak, Rugged Maniac, etc. and each one of them was more of the same. Many of them take place at the same venue and they feature more or less the same track so you can honestly make the claim that if you’ve run one 5K obstacle race, you’ve run them all. I mean honestly, how many cargo nets can you climb and pits of mud can you run through before it starts to feel stale? If you’re going to jump into the mix and run your own obstacle race you had better have an angle that nobody else has considered and I think I may have found it in Run For Your Lives.

Run For Your Lives, on the surface, looks like a cross between a Warrior Dash and a fairground haunted hayride but it’s actually pretty novel. You, as a racer, are outfitted with a belt that holds numerous flags that represent your health. The zombies are out on the track and they want to take all your flags. If you run out of flags, you “die”. If you’re dead, you get no prizes. There are several routes to the end and ways to replenish your health. There’s also 12 obstacles and a lot of zombies. Sounds like an awful lot of fun, if you ask me. Unfortunately, the only Run For Your Lives event is currently happening in Baltimore, not a convenient drive from the New Hampshire Seacoast, you know? Remarkably, the price tag for this race isn’t what the other races are. These tend to run no less than $85 if you get in early. Run For Your Lives is set at $67. If you’re local to Baltimore and in the sort of shape to run it – I can’t stress enough that fitness is a must, in spite of the novelty – register and report back to me. Personally, this is the sort of thing I’d kill to run.

15 Jul

Disco Dazzler aka KISS vs. The Village People, a Marvel Comics Production

Posted by Bryan White | Friday July 15, 2011 | News

Disco DazzlerI’ve been sitting on this epic length article that has been in the writing phase for months, now. The idea spawned from this conversation I had with Brian Solomon from The Vault of Horror about the connection between exploitation movies and Marvel Comics of the 1970’s. It seemed painfully obvious to me that Marvel editors and the writing staff were spending an awful lot of time in the scuzzy theaters of 42nd Street and were sourcing inspiration from the low-end crap that sleazy producers were marketing to people with remarkably poor taste in movies. Then I did some interviews with some of Marvel’s big dogs, Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas and Gerry Anderson and it dawned on me that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Often times, when I’d name check movies, these guys acted like they had no idea what I was talking about. I mentioned The Punisher in the same breath as Death Wish and Gerry reminded me that Frank Castle actually beat Bronson to the public eye by a couple of months. So I was out a really sweet article but I updated my hypothesis and came to the new conclusion that the similarities seemed so strong because comic publishers and exploitation filmmakers had a lot in common. Both exploited popular culture of the time in order to move units. One needed to sell tickets, the other needed to sell comics. The easiest way to do that is to tap into the familiar and Marvel Comics grabbed that crown early and has worn it ever since.

Comic publishers with a tremendous amount of continuity will inevitably produce some pretty ridiculous characters. It just happens. The publishing schedule moves fast and you need to stay productive if you intend to remain competitive and it means the occasional misfire but none were so poorly informed as Marvel’s disco dancing mutant, Dazzler. Dazzler falls into a classification of mind boggling mutants who have somehow managed to defy their sell-by date. Somehow, this character has managed to survive a couple of costume redesigns and popped up in mutant books throughout the 80’s even though her relevance was cut short in the early 80’s when disco music went critical mass and the public backlash forced it to submit to the raw fury of rock and roll and the emerging might of hip-hop. Somehow, Dazzler, with her completely fucking useless mutant power of transmuting sound into light, kicked around the X-Men line up for a while and even managed to take up a valuable spot in that sweet coin-op X-Men video game. Her creation, when viewed in its original context, makes perfect sense, though. Even if it is fucking retarded.

Then Marvel Editor-In-Chief, Jim Shooter, explained recently at his blog about how the heads of Marvel Comics, at the time reaching out to tap into other markets, had this idea to develop a character that could go full-on transmedia and occupy markets outside of comic books. Marvel had some success with The Incredible Hulk and were shooting to do a sort of reverse KISS. Where KISS were a rock band that landed in their own Marvel comic, Marvel wanted a comic book that would produce a rock star. A real one. This had happened in a serendipitous fashion with The Archies, who had a Top 40 hit with Sugar Sugar and were nothing more than studio musicians posing as those comic book characters from Riverdale. Marvel thought they could capture lightning in a bottle by fashioning a disco pop star and then partner with a record label to take that character out of the pages and put it on LP and 8-track. The end result was Dazzler, aka Disco Dazzler. According to Shooter, the character shows up for the first time Uncanny X-Men #130 and then the  plan fell flat until Casablanca Records hit up Marvel about doing something with some of their artists. A plan for an animated short was in the works until Shooter showed up with a script treatment that looked more like a feature film to Marvel and Casablanca, both with dollar signs in their eyes. As with many projects that fly too close to the sun, the wind left the sails and the Dazzler feature was dead in the water, at one time attached to Bo Derek who further doomed the project when she insisted that her husband, famous for being box office poison, direct. Everyone backed off and the project eventually died a quiet death.

The treatment, by Shooter, reads like a 1970’s fanboy fever dream with Cher as a villain, Rodney Dangerfield playing four characters, three of whom are nearly identical. Robin Williams plays the love interest, Laverne and Shirley characters Lenny and Squiggy show up as court jesters and KISS faces off against The Village People, each endowed with super powers consistent with their stage presence. Fighting all of them are Dazzler, Spider Man and The Avengers, 1970’s Avengers aka The shittiest Avengers team of all time. If you can believe it, at Cannes in 1980, studios fell all over each other to court this movie, trying to outbid one another. Reading the treatment, it sounds like The Wiz with familiar super heroes.

Download Shooter’s treatment and see what I mean. I defy you not to laugh.

22 Jun

Indie game, Project Zomboid, promises that you will die.

Posted by Bryan White | Wednesday June 22, 2011 | News

Project Zomboid LogoI used to play a lot of video games. Back when I was 14 or 15, I would often spend entire weekends awake, chipping away at massive, complex roleplayers like Phantasy Star 2 and the original Final Fantasy games and I did this with wild abandon. I had no bills. I lived with my parents and games were affordable if they weren’t outright rentable at the same places I was getting my horror tapes at. Unfortunately, I grew up and as much as I tried to keep up, the medium became even more sophisticated, prices of hardware and software went through the roof and while I often feel like the quality of these consoles warrants their prices, I just can’t dish out that much anymore. That and I feel like a lot of gaming is coasting on stale but still-popular conventions and brand recognition through titles like Call of Duty, Halo, etc. Sure, I have some fun with these games, but there haven’t been many games that send my imagination soaring much in the way that most titles for the Dreamcast did. There are pockets but not much. I feel like I’ve played most games and as much as the marketing machine for these publishers wants me to think that Black Ops is the must play game of the year that I’m asshole not to own; you know, I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing much. But whatever. Like with all popular entertainment living in the mainstream, there’s a reasonably priced alternative and often times I’ve found, be it indie movies, indie comics or indie music, the best ideas are hiding in the underground. When the stakes are as low as they are in indie culture, media producers, beholden to no one, are free to run wild and develop the next big deal title that’ll present consumers with something they’ve never seen before. It’s been going on in all indie corners and with gaming SDKs becoming widely available, computer languages fairly easy to learn and library upon library of code to make your job easier, just about anyone with a good idea and a fundamental grasp on Java can sit down and carve out the next Farmville on a long weekend.

I’m sure there’s a sort of centralized repository for all news related to indie gaming. Rock, Paper, Shotgun tends to do a good job of it, but for the most part, I don’t pay very close attention. As it stands, I have a hard time keeping up with horror and exploitation news these days. Adding numerous gaming feeds to the my newsreader would be a terrible burden. However, there are a few titles that have come to my attention. Everyone is talking about Minecraft, of course. There’s also Spelunky, an unforgiving procedurally generated cave platformer and a really sweet still-in-development co-op heist game called Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine but one that recently came to my attention is a zombie survival horror game that seems to have all the right moves.

Project ZomboidProject Zomboid pits you in the middle of a familiar scenario. You’re one of a handful of survivors in a quarantined city overrun with the walking dead. In the tech demo, you begin as your wife lays wounded in bed. Her situation is pretty bad. You’re tired, you’re hungry and looters have pretty much stolen everything. There’s also the matter of that empty children’s room in your house that seems to suggest the worst. She needs help, bandages and painkillers and you need something to eat and the only way you’re going to remedy this situation is if you nut up and hit the streets to scavenge for supplies. Guess what’s out on the street. Yeah. Lots of them.

Right now there’s a tech demo available for free if you’d like to try the game out. I went ahead and pitched in my $8 so that when the full pay version is available, I can have it and get in on the crazy shit they’re promising. Indie Stone, the developer, is promising a lot of awesome features. There will be a huge setting to explore with a multiplayer co-op option so you can run into your friends and either survive together or compete for resources in a seriously dire situation. The longer you survive, the worse the situation gets with power plants failing, making batteries and non-perishable food a serious commodity. The army is likely to move in for street sweeping operations, too. That is, if you last that long. Last night in my first stroll through the game, I lasted two days in game-time.

Project Zomboid’s gameplay in the tech demo is a little wonky but it is a demo, after all. It’s done in an isometric perspective similar to old-schoolers like X-Com or Syndicate and you run around in real time, but combat is a clumsy affair where you first equip your weapon and then wait for the zombie to come into range before clicking on them Diablo-style to fight. It doesn’t always respond the way you expect it to. Though, I suppose fending off a hungry zombie with nothing but a hammer is going to actually merit disaster for me. The tech demo is very playable and is a lot of fun but it’s not quite beta material, meaning that there’s still a lot to do. A for-pay beta was available until recently when pirates made the game available with the auto-update functionality intact so that every time a non-paying player opened it up and got the latest update, Indie Stone was charged for it. Total bummer. It’s fairly deep for a zombie game, too. Most of these types of games are shoot ‘em ups with little emphasis on actual survival. Most of the time you’re scrounging for bullets while solving cryptic puzzles but Project Zomboid takes it a step further and weaves a unique layer that has you on the lookout for practical supplies like food and first aid. There’s also the looming threat of depression, insanity, alcoholism and drug addiction since, surprise! These things occur in the game. Icons on the right of the screen clue you in on your physical and mental condition indicating when you’re tired, hurt, hungry, scared and drunk, with the possibility of a good deal more. Want some more? How’s this: You’re going to find a lot of shit lying around the game world. Many times it may occur to you that combining some of them may make a really cool weapon or a piece of helpful equipment. Indie Stone has you covered. You can do this. Got a bat? Nails? Hammer? Hammer the nails into the bat. Voila! Spiked bat. Have some booze, rags and a lighter? That shit’s flamable, you know.

Project ZomboidThis game is awesome, I tell you! I was so done with gaming because I can’t seem to find anything that really gets me excited anymore but this one has revived my interest with something that is equal parts familiar and unique. Zombies are tired and played out but Project Zomboid makes it new by making zombie-themed survival horror more than just a hunt for bullets. There’s actual drama here and an incentive to stay alive in the sandbox. Survive for as long as you can.

The available tech demo is free but only plays natively on Windows. However, there is a hacked version that is set to play on Mac and Linux. Download now and consider paying for it. Once the beta is out, you’re going to want to stop playing the tech demo and take advantage of the new features. Get over to their site to learn more and join the forum to keep up on the latest game developments.

18 Jun

Check me out on Tank Riot: Best Worst Movies!

Posted by Bryan White | Saturday June 18, 2011 | News

Tank RiotShort of Cory Doctorow, I am probably Tank Riot’s greatest cheerleader. I discovered them back around episode 50: Rod Serling and demanded that everyone listen to them. Since then the mantle of admin has been passed down to me on the Facebook group from the former guy and I’ve now been featured in segments on the show twice. Once in a conspiracies episode where I ran at the mouth for ten minutes about The Bohemian Grove and in this latest installment of the show when the Tank Riotists saw fit to call me on the red phone to chime in on a topic that I happen to know an awful lot about: bad movies.

Episode 110: Best Worst Movies is mostly about Troll 2 and the documentary from a couple of years back, Best Worst Movie but each of the guys has a couple of bad movies that they love dearly and talk a bit about. Then there’s the epic conversation between myself and Viktor where I talk about The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Death Wish 3, Turkish Star Wars and the films of Godfrey Ho. So download this here podcast and enjoy. Tank Riot is one of my all-time favorites.

6 Jun

The Human Centipede: Full Sequence banned in the UK. The end.

Posted by Bryan White | Monday June 6, 2011 | News

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence bannedIf there’s one thing that UK authorities love more than drinking tea at an appointed time, it’s banning horror movies. In the 80’s, as the genre developed into a box office force not to be trifled with, as well as appointing itself the grim king of video rentals, The United Kingdom reacted by building a list of ‘video nasties’ that wound up totaling 79 titles over the list’s lifespan. You could not buy or rent these movies in England and making them available was punishable with fines and jail time. In spite of its arbitrary nature, lives were ruined when people sold, owned or traded these tapes on the underground tape trading circuit. High profile raids were conducted as no-nonsense media gestures to show just how serious UK authorities were about enforcing this policy. It was fucked up but the era of the nasty ended. This was a component of the Thatcher years and with the passing of that era came an easing of many social restrictions. But wouldn’t you know it, they’re up to their old tricks. Hope you weren’t looking forward to the Human Centipede sequel.

The British Board of Film Censors have declared that The Human Centipede: Full Sequence is “sexually violent and potentially obscene” in a way so pervasive that it cannot even be remedied by cuts. You heard it here, folks. If you didn’t think that that misanthropic piece of ass-to-mouth torture porn couldn’t go any deeper into depravity, apparently Tom Six pulled it off to such a degree that jolly old England will have none of this product on their shores, inspiring violent ass-to-mouth fantasies in its citizenship. Here are the specifics. Be warned, there be spoilers in this bitch.

The first film dealt with a mad doctor who sews together three kidnapped people in order to produce the ‘human centipede’of the title. Although the concept of the film was undoubtedly tasteless and disgusting it was a relatively traditional and conventional horror film and the Board concluded that it was not in breach of our Guidelines at ’18’. This new work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), tells the story of a man who becomes sexually obsessed with a DVD recording of the first film and who imagines putting the ‘centipede’ idea into practice. Unlike the first film, the sequel presents graphic images of sexual violence, forced defecation, and mutilation, and the viewer is invited to witness events from the perspective of the protagonist. Whereas in the first film the ‘centipede’ idea is presented as a revolting medical experiment, with the focus on whether the victims will be able to escape, this sequel presents the ‘centipede’ idea as the object of the protagonist’s depraved sexual fantasy.

The principal focus of The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is the sexual arousal of the central character at both the idea and the spectacle of the total degradation, humiliation, mutilation, torture, and murder of his naked victims. Examples of this include a scene early in the film in which he masturbates whilst he watches a DVD of the original Human Centipede film, with sandpaper wrapped around his penis, and a sequence later in the film in which he becomes aroused at the sight of the members of the ‘centipede’ being forced to defecate into one another’s mouths, culminating in sight of the man wrapping barbed wire around his penis and raping the woman at the rear of the ‘centipede’. There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience. There is a strong focus throughout on the link between sexual arousal and sexual violence and a clear association between pain, perversity and sexual pleasure. It is the Board’s conclusion that the explicit presentation of the central character’s obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of its Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: “It is the Board’s carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm within the terms of the VRA, and would be unacceptable to the public.

The Board also seeks to avoid classifying material that may be in breach of the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 (OPA) or any other relevant legislation. The OPA prohibits the publication of works that have a tendency to deprave or corrupt a significant proportion of those likely to see them. In order to avoid classifying potentially obscene material, the Board engages in regular discussions with the relevant enforcement agencies, including the CPS, the police, and the Ministry of Justice. It is the Board’s view that there is a genuine risk that this video work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), may be considered obscene within the terms of the OPA, for the reasons given above.

My review of the first Human Centipede paints a portrait of a movie that moved me to disgust. The good kind of disgust, mind you, but it implied that I was actually really horrified by the picture. In the time since then, I’ve re-evaluated my feelings on the movie and in hindsight, the whole thing rings rather silly to me. The entire premise is just absurd and the performances are a riot. In the wake of the first picture, Six promised that his sequel would bring it. So no matter how unpleasant you found the first one, I’m pretty sure that nothing will ever match the ferocity of a sequel that involves barbed wire penetration. My entire crotchal region hurts just thinking about this. Tom Six, I applaud your spirited antagonism but what the fuck, pal?

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is still slated for US release this year. No specific date has been released, though. Hang tight, you perverts.

17 May

We may never get to see Jodorowsky’s Dune, but we’ll get to hear the story in a new documentary

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday May 17, 2011 | News

Alejandro Jodorowsky Dune - presale posterI have moaned endlessly here about the aborted production of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel, Dune by Alejandro Jodorowsky. I fucking love that book! I love the movie. To me, it’s the sci-fi equivalent of The Lord of the Rings. No novel in its class builds worlds like it does. I’m also a big fan of the madness of Jodorowsky. His movies make absolutely zero sense to me. I’ve gleaned some meaning from them over time but he’s about the only filmmaker in my collection that is even more cryptic than David Lynch. If you’re just joining us, then allow me to elaborate:

In 1974, Jodorowsky was fishing for a project to follow up The Holy Mountain with. He had read Dune and came up with this insane vision for a movie that would run 14 hours in length, reconsidered the entire god damn plot, filled in blanks that he felt Herbert had left out and he planned to cast it with the wildest cast of people you could conceive of. Salvador Dali was set to play the Emperor Shaddam IV, Orson Welles was set to play the Baron Harkonnen and Jodorowsky’s son, Brontis, was set to play Paul Atreides. Mick Jagger, Herve Villachaize and David Carradine were also down. Each of the worlds in the movie had a different production designer assigned to them with H.R. Giger doing the designs for Giedi Prime, Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud doing Caladan and sci-fi cover artist, Chris Foss, was set to presumably do the designs for Arrakis and the Fremen. It doesn’t end there, either! This was set to be a crazy prog-rock opera of unheard of proportions with Magma and Pink Floyd set to compose the soundtrack.

Does this not sound fucking awesome?

Dune concept art by MoebiusMaybe now you’ll understand why it’s such a tragedy to me that the movie never rolled a single frame of film. Dune went into preproduction for two years and Jodorowsky preproduced himself in circles. The scope of the project was too big. The cast made crazy ass demands. Jodorowsky insisted on to-scale sets of spaceships and castles and shit. All the while, he burned millions of his wealthy investor’s generous financing before the guy decided that Jodorowsky was just too crazy and that this wild flick would never be produced. Following this, Dune passed through dozens of hands before it wound up in Dino De Laurentis’ hands and it was passed to director, David Lynch, who’d wowed the world with The Elephant Man and was shopping ideas for a sci-fi project to take on. If you can believe it, at one point, he was up to direct Return of the Jedi. Can you fucking imagine? This story is just crazy as hell.

It came apart all at once but rather than become this epic train wreck as big as the planned movie, the results of the project wound up in all these other weird places and were put to good use. Moebius and Jodorowsky approached the story again in comic book form and stripped out all the elements that were distinctly Dune. Jodorowsky wrote a story that sounds an awful lot like it, though, and it was published under the title The Incal. It’s incredible! He’d do it again when he expanded the story told in The Incal in his series, The Metabarons. Giger’s designs for the Harkonnen home world wound up in a Japanese ad for stereos, oddly enough, but his concept art found its way to Dune’s contracted special effects man, Dan O’Bannon, who would then take it with him to Ridley Scott’s production of Alien where it would spawn its own horror legacy. It was a massive experiment in filmmaking that went horribly wrong but wound up alright in the end. Jodorowsky’s output would go silent for a very long time while he pursued studies in the tarot, psychotherapy, spiritualism and comic books. I seriously cannot wait for this. A document of this story is going to be like peering into Jodorowsky’s brain. I’m hoping he does a little mime.

Smuggler from Moebius' Dune concept artSo what’s all this then? Why the long narrative before the point? Cannes is happening right now and there’s a ton of news coming down about movies I don’t give a fuck about but long time friend of the site, Troy Z, drew my attention to a recent io9 article about filmmaker Frank Pavich directing a documentary called Jodorowsky’s Dune that will tell the whole sordid tale. The story behind the movie is fascinating as hell and if I can’t have a maddening 14 hour interpretation of Dune, then I’ll take a third-person retelling of the story of the preproduction.

26 Apr

Do you wanna party? Black Ops DLC promises mo’ zombies and a fanboy fantasy cast.

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday April 26, 2011 | News

Black Ops: Call of the DeadApparently, zombies are still fanboy gold. I don’t know how the hell this stale horror trope manages to rope folks in but it does. So when a friend passed this link to me earlier today, I rolled my eyes so hard that I suffered eye strain. I stopped playing the Call of Duty games with the second Modern Warfare title. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the single player story, essentially an unlikely riff on the Red Dawn formula and my Live Gold account ran out around that time and I didn’t really have the cash to renew it. So basically I was stuck with a great multiplayer game with no way to play it and a shitty single player game that I had no desire to play. By the time they rushed Black Ops to market, I’d convinced myself that I’d had it with Call of Duty. Then they rolled out a zombie expansion for it and I knew I was done with Call of Duty. Left 4 Dead scratched my zombie gaming itch in a big way and a Call of Duty version just seemed cheap and kind of stupid. So you can imagine me sitting there at work, judging the shit out of this trailer until 45 Grave’s Party Time kicked in, made famous by being played over and over and over in Return of the Living Dead. Party Time is a song that I really like. Sure, the Funky Fanfare opening that every exploitation fan is familiar with tickeled me but as soon as I saw film damage and zombies, I was resigned to hate the fuck out Call of the Dead… until the cast shows up. They grabbed my attention with 45 Grave but sealed the deal when it became clear to me that you have Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Freddy Krueger Robert Englund), Machete (Danny Trejo) and Michael Freakin’ Rooker as playable characters, each with their own snarky dialog. I guess George Romero is also in there as well as a zombie.

Bottom line: That’s a pretty impressive trailer. I may have to dig up a used copy of this game and grab this DLC. Of course, that’ll mean renewing my Gold account so I can play it online. It sort of looks like Left 4 Dead has a new contender to defend its title from. Of note, I’ll be nothing but utterly disappointed if Party Time isn’t playing on continuous loop throughout the soundtrack. This DLC becomes available on May 3rd so buy some points and grab this when it comes down.

14 Apr

Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series kicks off with first episode

Posted by Bryan White | Thursday April 14, 2011 | News

Mortal KombatHave I somehow been magically whisked away to 1995 or something because there is no god damn way in hell that Mortal Kombat could ever be relevant in this modern age of smart phones and large hadron colliders. They keep publishing games, pushing the violence envelope and trying to stage some kind of late-era coup to prove to the world that button mashing fighting games and fatalities are still hip. Honestly! Even Street Fighter is niche these days. But I digress.

A while back there was a teaser that came down with 7 of 9 and Black Dynamite in what everyone thought was some kind of pitch reel for a  new Mortal Kombat movie and while I groaned back when I wrote about that video and made the same anachronism comments, I was pretty fucking impressed. Turned out that this was a teaser for an upcoming web series that would pit familiar Mortal Kombat characters in a series of quick web videos showcasing, no doubt, kombat and fatalities. You get this wonky premise about the Black Dragon organization as a criminal syndicate and a bunch of cops trying to shut them down but I’ll tell you what, this 12 minute video is head and shoulders above both of those other MK movies combined. It is, in fact, really fucking good with Michael Jai White showcasing some high-end Muay Thai and Jeet Kune Do maneuvers. I guess they’re going to be releasing this series weekly and while I haven’t been paying close attention because honestly, I couldn’t care less about a new Mortal Kombat video game, much less any other fighting game relic from the 90’s, I think this series will tie in with the inevitable release of a new MK title which is the same old shit but this time with flesh cutaways to show you in slow-mo how your punches, kicks and spine removal is affecting the body’s interior. Seriously.

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