Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Innkeepers (2011)



Directed by Ti West; Dark Sky Films; Magnet Releasing

Filmmaker Ti West takes on a journey into the realm of psychological horror with his latest project, The Innkeepers, a follow up to 2009’s The House of the Devil. After that breakout hit and the subsequent bad vibes in the wake from Cabin Fever II, a film he claims no allegiance due to reported heavy studio interference, West needed a winner to get the bad tastes out of everybody’s mouths and put that dreck in the past.  

Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are two front desk clerks at the historic Yankee Pedlar Inn working the last weekend before the establishment faces demolition. Both enthusiasts of the supernatural, Luke operates a "paranormal sighting" website using the Yankee Pedlar for the majority of his site’s content while quirky Claire is still a bit green to the lifestyle. Like many old hotels, this one has a seedy story in its past concerning a woman who committed suicide there when her fiancĂ©e stood her up at the altar. Luke’s claim to have previously made contact with this spirit intrigues Claire to the point that she also tries to reach out to her once she starts hearing and seeing strange things over the course of the next couple of days.
 

Meanwhile, two guests check-in during the hotel’s final sendoff, including a washed up actress who now has a different calling in life (Kelly McGillis) and a creepy old-timer (George Riddle) who requests to stay in a specific room for reasons unknown. As more bizarre occurrences keep happening towards the Inn’s final farewell, is everything all in Claire’s young mind or are there spirits lurking with bad intentions?  

The Innkeepers is a return to form for West who provides us with the usual slow burn towards his conclusion, apparent in his previous works such as The Roost and the previously mentioned Devil. The film utilizes a great deal of comedic elements, even going as far as masquerading as a horror-comedy until the final act. At the same time, this is not a deep venture into psycho-horror, like a Shining clone or anything like that.


The scares are kept to a minimum with the emphasis on an uneasy atmosphere instead. West aims for a telling an overall interesting story with good characters rather than trying for an all-out scare fest. In this way, he definitely demonstrates some versatile in his directing skills, especially in terms of guiding his talent. The most notable example is with female lead Paxton, who usually uses her piercing blue eyes and good looks to sell her roles. As Claire, Paxton is extremely convincing as a nerdy, awkward chick who appears uncomfortable in her own skin. She uses her pure acting skills instead of relying on her good looks, which makes you appreciate her talents as an actress on a completely different.

West delivers the expected beautiful cinematography that goes along with his films with excessive usage of long standing shots and excellent lighting choices for interior scenes in the hotel. Expect a film that prods along to the end, where the payoff is ambiguous but enough clues are provided for a satisfying conclusion…if you were paying attention the whole time.

It would definitely be worth your time to register for one last stay at The Yankee Pedlar to meet these particular Innkeepers. Just make sure to keep bugging them for towels early and often. Now available now on VOD with scheduled for theatrical release on February 3.


RATING:
3.5 out of 5 Creeper Santas









TRAILER:



LINKS:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

WWE Royal Rumble 2012 PPV Results




Live from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, it's time for the 25th Annual edition of the WWE Royal Rumble! Coming off arguably their best PPV of 2011, TLC, the WWE launches the first of the big four PPV events with Wrestlemania right around the corner. All of the matches have a ton of potential, especially the 30-man over the top rope main event which is always is fun to watch. Man is that Switchfoot "Dark Horses" song awesome. Anyway, let's get to the action...



World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat Steel Cage Match: 
Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan (champ) vs. Mark Henry

The slow burning heel turn for Bryan may come into tonight's match, which he might need to do in order to walk out as champ under these insurmountable odds. He has been able to slip away with the strap when recently facing these to behemoths in one-on-one matchups, but now he is locked in a steel cage with both of them having intentions to squash him flat. Is this the end of the reign or a beginning of a new era for Bryan?  


RESULT: Daniel Bryan retains the title when he escapes from the cage. Bryan was made to look strong in this one and Henry's real life injury was noticeable as he did not see much action throughout. Really surprised that this title match was the opening fight on the card.



Video Promo: 
John Cena promo. He's there day in, day out...you have seen and heard it all before. The part with the troops was a nicer touch though.



 Divas Tag Match (huh?): 
Divas of Doom & Bella Twins vs. Kelly Kelly, Eve, Tamina & Alicia Fox

Last minute add-on match. Where has Beth been all this time? No real focus here...they all kind of hate each other. Basically this is filler and there was no time to find an official pic for this section.


RESULT: Beth Phoenix pinned Kelly Kelly after hitting the Glam Slam. Luckily this match was not too long and it was great to see Beth Phoenix back in action. Now back to regularly scheduled programming...



Backstage Segment: 
Zack Ryder (in a wheelchair and a back brace) shows up with Eve to tell John Lauranitis that he is there to see Cena kick Kane's butt. Guess no surprise Ryder Rumble return. Eve gives John L. the business and hopes he gets fired tomorrow on RAW.



Embrace the Hate Match (haha!): 
John Cena (Skywalker) vs. Kane (The Emperor)

 Is this feud over yet? For years, many have clamored for the return of masked Kane but the 'E has sucked the life out of the angle by making it all about John Cena embracing the hate. Kane plays Emperor to Cena's Anakin Skywalker and it has been embarrassingly hokey. And somehow Zack Ryder got dragged into the angle and it cost him the U.S. Title. Here is to hoping that this will be the end of the joke and if Cena does not start to turn heel because of this, then the angle was a huge waste of time for everyone involved.


RESULT: No contest with them both fighting up the ramp as the ref counts a double countout. After the fight reaches the back, Kane drags Ryder to the ring and Tombstones him even after Eve begs for him to stop. Cena tries to help but gets chokeslammed in the process. Eve still blames Cena. Guess this angle is still TBD. Pfft!



Single Match: 
Brodus Clay vs. Drew McIntyre

 Another last minute added match (again no pic above) involving the undefeated The Funkasaurus and McIntyre, who can't buy a win. Expect the jobbing to continue here as I don't know Drew has to do to get out of the WWE doghouse.


RESULT: Clay in another squash followed by his trademark dancing. So far, this schtick still hasn't gotten old even though it will be remarkable to see him fight in a match longer than a minute. But how can you not love the man from Planet Funk? "My bad!"



WWE Championship Match: 
  CM Punk(champ) vs. Dolph Ziggler 
w/ special guest ref John Laurinaitis

The interim RAW GM and VP of Talent Relations has been warned to call this one down the middle, despite his relationship with Punk, as he will be reviewed for his position tomorrow night on RAW by none other than Triple H. Outside of story lines, Ziggler has definitely worked his butt off in 2011 to get to the main event level and deserves a high exposure match such as this. As cool as it is to be champ, Punk does not need the title anymore to get over, not to say it would be great having him walk out of the Rumble as champ. Either way, both men are great workers and either having their arm raised is a victory for the WWE. Is Johnny Boy going to call it down the middle? 

 
RESULT: Punk retains after hitting the GTS in another top star match between these two athletes. Easily the best bout on the card with the interim GM calling it down the middle...minus a little goofiness towards the end of the match.




The Royal Rumble: 
30 WWE Superstars

You know the rules: it starts out with two men and another grappler comes in every 9 seconds. The only way to be eliminated is to be thrown over the top rope and the last man remaining earns an instant title match at Wrestlemania. There are always surprise entrants, such as Diesel last year, and mums been on them so far. But expect Alberto Del Rio and Christian to return from injury as well as Zach Ryder his (kayfabe) ailment. The main buzz has been surrounding Chris Jericho's true in-ring return, where he has promised us all that the world will end as we know it at the Rumble. Are we going to finally find out who "she" is and what Jericho's intentions are for the WWE? Who's going to Wrestlemania...favorites right now are Randy Orton, Sheamus and Wade Barrett.

Contestants:
#1 Miz
#2 Alex Riley
#3 R-Truth
#4 Cody Rhodes
#5 Justin Gabriel
#6 Primo
#7 Mick Foley
#8 Ricardo Rodriquez
#9 Santino Marella
#10 Epico
#11 Kofi Kingston
#12 Jerry Lawler
#13 Ezekiel Jackson
#14 Jinder Mahal
#15 The Great Khali
#16 Hunico
#17 Booker T
#18 Dolph Ziggler
#19 Hacksaw Jim Duggan
#20 Michael Cole
#21 Kharma
#22 Sheamus
#23 Road Dogg Jesse James
#24 Jey Uso
#25 Jack Swagger
#26 Wade Barrett
#27 David Otunga
#28 Randy Orton
#29 Chris Jericho
#30 Big Show

 Eliminations:
Miz eliminated Riley
Miz eliminated Truth
Foley and Rodriquez eliminated Gabriel
Foley eliminated Primo
Santino eliminated Rodriquez
Foley eliminated Epico with Mr. Socko
Rhodes eliminated Santino
Rhodes eliminated Foley
Rhodes eliminated Lawler
Khali eliminated Mahal
Khali eliminated Jackson
Rhodes eliminated Duggan
Rhodes and Ziggler eliminated Booker T and Khali
Booker T eliminated Cole by pulling him to the outside
Kharma eliminated Hunico
Ziggler eliminated Kharma
Sheamus eliminated Kingston
Barrett eliminated Road Dogg
Orton eliminated Uso
Orton eliminated Barrett
Jericho eliminated Otunga
Big Show and Sheamus eliminated Swagger
Big Show eliminated Miz and Rhodes
Big Show eliminated Ziggler
Orton eliminated Big Show
Jericho eliminated Orton
Sheamus eliminated Jericho

RESULT: Sheamus eliminated Jericho win a Brogue Kick to knock Jericho to the floor. There were some questionable choices like Otunga, Uso, Epico, and Primo, but it was great to see Duggan and Road Dogg (who was receiving hige pops and chants that he "still had it") return as surprise entrants.



VERDICT:


The Royal Rumble match is always cool to watch, but this year's entrants left a lot to be desired. The Jericho "promise" to end the world as we know it was a non-factor as well. Besides the Punk-Ziggler matchup, the other bouts were pretty much so-so. But aren't these PPVs all just to setup the following night's RAW nowadays anyway? Final score is that it was OK, but definitely a step down in the excitement of the WWE's past two PPVs to close out 2011.



Friday, January 27, 2012

TOTALLY YOU-TUBULAR: “The Humpty Dance” Karaoke



Welcome to the latest Man-Cave feature, TOTALLY YOU-TUBULAR! Every now and then, I will find something weird around on the social media outlet and post for you all to check out. I was planning to do this back in October, but wanted to wait until something worthy enough of being the debut video would surface…and it has! Thanks to my friend Jessica, she has acquired the found footage which uncovers the legendary myth of me performing a karaoke version of Digital Underground’s early 1990’s opus, "The Humpty Dance". Now you have probably heard me talking about doing this on some webcast or maybe even on some website out there, but now little Jess has the Holy Grail for you all to enjoy. Originally started back at now defunct Thirsty Whale in Orlando, FL, I decided to get up on Wild Bill’s (5th and Broadway) stage during my last trip to Nashville and break it down like DX…after only consuming one-half of a Corona Light on a full stomach. Backed by my new Nashville friend Andy, click on the link and then please enjoy the sights and sounds of The Humpty Dance and go check out Jess’ YouTube channel (redsox2833)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgRatmpX6sY

Got any cool videos you want me to play on The Man-Cave? Send them my way by contacting me at etmcrules@yahoo.com. You have a better chance for them to air here than on Tosh.0, ha!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interview with Husk author Matt Hults




Last week I reviewed a very unique and entertaining horror book, entitled Husk. If you have not yet, you can check out the review here and get accustomed to this fantastic literary horror novel. Husk is the story of a mysterious killer slaughtering the inhabitants a small town in Minneapolis, coinciding with the death of serial killer Kale Kane. The killer's identity remains anonymous for a majority of the book and it is not certain if he is of the flesh or a supernatural element. When his intentions become known and the full capacity of his abilities come to fruition, it will take the collective efforts of the book's many protagonists to even hope for a chance to take this seemingly indestructible murderer down.

Matt Hults is a new author on the scene who certainly makes his stake for notoriety with his first book release. The book might be an easy read, but that does not mean it is simple in plot and is very hard to out down. The story seems straight forward in the first act, but then the plot becomes extremely involved with each turn of the page afterward. One thing is certain, you will be engrossed until you reach the conclusion. Husk is also the recipient of the "It Award" for best book in The Man-Cave's annual It & S*** Awards for 2011. Hults is here today to talk to us more in depth about his work and the influences that surrounded its creation.

 

The Man-Cave:  Welcome to The Man-Cave, Matt! First thing first, what is the origin behind the concept for Husk?

Matt Hults:  Thank you, Geof. I've excited to be a part of The Man-Cave's 2012 opener! Husk came about as an accident. Years ago I had saved up money to take a summer off work and write my first novel, The Varanus Discovery, an action adventure story that was kind of part Indiana Jones, part Jurassic Park. I knew nothing about writing at the time, and the resulting story turned out to be a 232K behemoth of probably every beginner mistake possible. I learned this as I wrote the last third of the book, knowing I would need to go back and do extensive cuts and revisions. Instead, I decided to take what I'd learned writing that first story and start a whole new book. The day after I typed 'THE END' on Varanus, my wife and I took a day trip to the country, intending to go a state park, but we made a wrong turn and ended up in the small town of Loretto, Minnesota. I knew I wanted to do a horror book, and when I saw Loretto it seemed like the perfect setting. We drove around the area, and a few miles away we came across a small collection of luxurious looking houses built on a hillside, all by themselves. I thought, "How quaint ... but they're a long way from help". When we got home, I sat down and banged out what became chapter one of Husk without any other plot ideas other than that I wanted a villain that was incredibly powerful and versed in ancient knowledge, yet unable to achieve its goals without the help of others. I built the rest of the story around that idea and the town.


TMC:  This is your debut publication, so congratulations on your accomplishment. Did you go the horror route because you're a genre fan?

MH:  Absolutely! I grew up with Star Wars and Indiana Jones and the Hardy Boys, Scooby-Doo cartoons, Spider-Man comics, and The Twilight Zone. I love adventure, sci-fi, mystery, thrillers, but I'm particularly a sucker for a good horror story no matter what form it may take, and across the spectrum of sub-genres, as well, from the darkly serious to the comically cheesy. My favorite stories present a truly ominous threat for the characters to overcome, yet allow a glimmer of hope. We all know that real life horrors are no fun.


TMC:  I felt a little bit of awesome old school slasher/ghost flicks like Shocker, Ghost in the Machine and The Horror Show. Am I right in that assumption?

MH:  Oh, yes! As I've said, I'm a horror junkie, and it was inevitable that some of the cinematic influences from growing up in the 70's and 80's would find their way into my writing. I tend to write what I would like to read, if that doesn't come off as too narcissistic. But I also like to care about my characters. I've found with my recent slasher clones I'm rooting for the killer rather than the victims, and I didn't want that to be the case in Husk.



TMC:  Was Kale Kane inspired from a real life serial killer?

MH:  No. Although I suppose his handiwork could be comparable to that of Ed Gein (technically not a serial killer, but still really messed up!), Kane more or less just popped into my head. I knew I wanted him to be gaunt, almost skeletal, someone you might be repulsed by but not necessarily find physically threatening - so when he lets loose in the police raid you get the hint there's something else going on. His name then came from the need to link the killings in the story together. I wanted to have a mark the killer left on the victims, and after some contemplation as to what that mark should be, I settled on a set of initials. I didn't have a name at the time, so I hit the dry-erase board and started with some simple, single-letter combos. I got to K and created the overlapping symbol seen on the cover of the book. Next, I had to come up with a name to fit the letters. KK. Kale Kane. Some people thought the name was too trite, but 'Kenneth Knickerbottoms' didn't have the same ring to it.


TMC:  Without giving away any spoilers, the antagonist's endgame intentions are relative to events tied into theological history. Did you perform a lot of research to manifest this history or did you create these historical touches especially for Husk?

MH:  Half and half, I guess. I wanted the story to be about Good vs. Evil, but without specifying that Good = Christian, or Evil = Satanic. Having grown up with a strong (aka 'forced') Christian background, I used those beliefs as a base. I did do some research into American Indian theologies after a title change. The original title for Husk was "Glade's Bend", named after the neighborhood where the character Mallory lives. That seemed too passive, though, and I later changed it to "Skinwalker". At the time, the word 'skinwalker' wasn't as much a part of popular culture as it is today, and the only other book I could find with that title was from the 80's. Because my story wasn't about actual skinwalkers, though, I felt it was different enough to go forward. At the same time, I wanted some backing for the title, and thus added the appropriate American Indian references and even got feedback from American Indian readers. When the book was done it became delayed at numerous times, and at one point I simply shelved it and quit writing entirely. In the interim, Skinwalkers began popping up everywhere, from movies to TV to comics. When Books of the Dead accepted the story, we made the hard choice to change the title to avoid confusion with the movie that had come out a few years prior. I chose Husk from a line of dialogue where one character, Frank, describes the villain as "a seed of evil in a husk of flesh." I thought it would be a cool tie-in. Ironically, the movie Husk came out days after the new title was announced *slaps hand to forehead*. Oh, well. It still works.
 

TMC:  Another skill I appreciate about your writing is that you do not waste too much time before diving into the action, while supplying the reader with enough background to catch them up to speed quickly. Is that due to keeping the page numbers down or is it for pacing purposes?


MH:  I never really worry about page numbers. Some people will try and tell you that a chapter should be a certain length, but I think that's bull. Lord knows I've agonized over it more than a few times during rewrites, but I've learned to just pace it in a way I hope others will find entertaining. I have to give credit to some of my best test readers, authors Mike Stone, Bret Jordan, Joel Sutherland, and Jerry Gordon who helped me spot where to remind the reader what was going on. Those guys were instrumental in helping polish the story to a shine.


TMC:  Speaking of pacing, your writing style is much like Steve Alten (of Meg fame), who offers cinematic experience on pages of a book. There is action among a slew of chaos, which is especially noticeable in the extended final act. Can you elaborate on your literary vision and intention to convert a high budget film into an exciting 300 page book?

MH:  I tend to write the story as I see it in my head. Sometimes I'll storyboard a scene on paper. I love to draw, and before delving into writing I often told people I wanted to be a comic book artist or movie director. As mentioned above, the inundation of numerous genre films has also geared my thought process toward the visual telling of the tale.


TMC:  Are any of the characters outside of Kane and the mystery killer based on any people you know in real life?

MH:  I guess the one character that has some real life roots would be Tim Fleming, he being a combination of myself and one of my best high school friends (whose name is Tim). The character's family's financial and marital issues are reminiscent of my teenage years. Likewise, his experiences with Mallory at the Valley Fair amusement park are an embellished version of an evening I had at the same park the night before leaving for the military. I had gone to the park with a group of friends, and among them was a girl I had a crush on. Unfortunately she was far more interested in one of my wealthier, better looking friends (who drove a Mercedes, just like in the story). He already had a girlfriend at the time, but that didn't stop him of making moves on this other girl. It was a rather bummer of a send-off if you ask me, but it translated perfectly into the story and allowed me to unload some of the emotional baggage leftover from that night. On the other hand, the events from chapter 8 are entirely fictional ... Honest. 


TMC:  Who are some of your writing influences?

MH:  Dean Koontz, hands down. I know that might seem like a cliche answer being that he's one of the biggest authors around, but I find he writes with that same sense of hope-among-chaos that I enjoy. I also learned that our childhoods were not so different. I once saw an interview where he discussed growing up with an alcoholic father, and talked about having prepped his bedroom for a quick escape if needed. My parents divorced when I was a 15, and my mother eventually began dating someone who later turned out to be a drug-abusing, bipolar, bank-robbing ex-con who had served 15 years for murder. When he moved in with us, life got ... scary. My brother and I took the screens off our third floor town-house window in case we needed to get out fast, and I always slept with a knife tucked between the mattress and the bed frame. I guess I should have added him to the answer from the last question about characters based off real people: I used his last name for the first person to die in the opening police raid. 


TMC:  If there is a message or moral for your readers to take away from Husk, what would it be?

MH:  I guess it is to just be true to yourself and not masquerade as someone you're not in order to fit in with others. This is the underlying struggle Mallory and Tim face throughout the story; Mallory with her friends and Tim with his own insecurities. I suppose it's a lesson that I leaned being an artistic guy who went to a jock high school. Oh, yeah, and don't dig up dead serial killers, either. 




TMC:  Any plans for a follow up to Husk or has the story ended from your perspective?

MH:  Thoughts of expanding on the story pop up now and again, but for now it's done.


TMC:  What is in the pipeline for you next, Matt? Any projects you want to discuss or is there anything you would like to promote?

MH:  I'm currently working on a zombie novella for a Books of the Dead multi-author story titled Living Death Race 2000, as well as plugging away at my next novel. I also invite everyone to check out my collection of horror short stories, Anything Can Be Dangerous, which is available to download for FREE from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and iTunes. Likewise, for those with children (or those who are just a kid at heart) I've published a adventure/horror children's book titled Dwellers of the Dark under my penname Lewis Hand. I'm also on Facebook and happy to meet new friends.


TMC:  Thanks again for stopping by and congrats again on your first book release. I just wanted to close this out by telling you and my readers that I am not a huge book reader and have never read a book from beginning to end, especially a 300+ pager, in one day...until I read Husk.

MH:  Thank you, Geof! Looking forward to another year of Man-Cave splendor!

Husk can be purchased as an e-book or hard copy by clicking on the widgets below...




Monday, January 23, 2012

The Man-Cave Remembers: STREET HAWK



The Man...The Machine...STREET HAWK!

Early to mid-1980's television will always be remembered for being saturated with one-hour action programming about super vehicles. Networks threw whatever they could at the wall to see what stuck. For every A-Team, there was a Riptide. For every Knight Rider and Airwolf, there was a Blue Thunder. As you can see, not all of these shows went on to have multiple seasons and made their claim to memorable 80's pop culture, but there was one show that did not deserve a fading into obscurity, even though it has held a cult status to this very day. That show is 1985's Street Hawk.

Jesse Mach (70's & 80's heartthrob Rex Smith) was a motorcycle cop severely injured by some bad guys and destined to desk work forever due to his knee ailment. Not only was his partner and friend killed off by the same criminals who ran him over, but he also lost the ability to retain the hotshot motorcyclist expert lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. That is until he was approached by Norman Tuttle (Murphy Brown's Joe Regalbuto), a genius government tech agent leading the top secret operation entitled Street Hawk, a super motorcycle that would be used to fight crime vigilante-style and unbeknownst to the local Los Angeles police force. Even  though Tuttle was originally against the idea, his boss targeted Mach as the perfect candidate with the skills and personality needed to make the Hawk operation successful. After undergoing a new prosthetic surgery to correct his knee and cycle training under Tuttle's tutelage, Mach used Street Hawk to avenge his partner's death and his own attempted murder by a drug dealing criminal (Christopher Lloyd...yup good ol' Doc Brown) and some shady police officials. In superhero-esque fashion, Mach would both keep his LAPD public relations position to remain in the know of all police happenings as well as his "limp" to nullify any ties to him being the police-given moniker Street Hawk. And that was all just in the pilot!

The leads

The pilot episode was as good as any TV pilot back then. It was action-packed and did not spend too much useless time before Jesse Mach got on the bike and started tearing up the streets of L.A. Beginning with the second episode, the series followed the standard "villain of the week" formula with no series-wide arch. Unfortunately, this might have been the show's undoing. Although entertaining, there was no endgame to the premise. There was no "Sam Beckett Quantum Leap-ing trying to get home" or "The A-Team trying to clear their name with the military". Mach also instantly went from P.R. rep in the pilot to a detective in the second episode with no explanation why or how. He also lost the limp, which was his cover. They should have stuck with that neat little idea, but instead they made him a hard-nosed detective and not as much of the enjoyable cool showoff he portrayed in the pilot. 

Even though Street Hawk was ABC's answer to NBC's Knight Rider, it really tried not be its clone. Instead, the creators ditched any camp by being a little more serious, evident in the large body count throughout all of the episodes. That's right...good or bad, a lot of people died. Mach was not interested in incarcerating criminals and more concerned with killing them dead by rarely "missing" with his weapons. Ever want to see George Clooney get whacked? Watch the second episode. At the same time, the show tried to come across a little more hip with all demographics of the 80's audience. Girls still thought Smith was dreamy, dudes liked the action and kids were enchanted by the motorcycle - which was totally tubular to the max.

Clooney bites it!

In the show, the Street Hawk bike reached 200 MPH and 300 MPH using the hyperthrust mode. It was armed with machine guns, rocket launchers and a laser cannon. It also came equipped with a vertical lift/jump system, both on and off road capabilities and an infrared camera. Pretty sweet, huh? In reality, three bikes were used to being the Street Hawk model to life. A 1983 Honda XL500 was employed for the pilot, while the rest of the series used 1984 Honda XR500's and stunts scenes used Honda CR250's. (courtesy of streethawkonline.com) Even though it was just extremely sped up film stock used for the effect, the hyperthrust sequences became a trademark of the show because the effect's outcome looked so sleek. 

The chemistry between leads Smith and Regalbuto was very good, playing the whole "odd couple" angle. Mach was daring and threw caution to the wind while Tuttle was conservative and always more concerned with his precious bike. However, they needed each other equally since Street Hawk was, at Tuttle put it, so complex that two people were mandatory to operate it. Mach did the driving and heroics, but Tuttle played dependable navigator and operated the Hyper Thrust option from his command center. This led to some comical back and forth conversation between the two through their communication system. Mach was the brawn and Tuttle was the brains. Just how smart was Tuttle? He came up with the idea for the Internet and Google in the fourth episode, wishing there was way to type someone's name in and have everything about them pop up on your screen. No joke.

Hyperthrust

Each episode was filled with popular 80's top-10 tracks, but the synthesizer score by Tangerine Dream was the tangible that paced the show and provided it with its character. The theme song itself is truly a marvel of the 80's action shows, much like Airwolf and Knight Rider.
 
Alas, the show only lasted one season of 13 total episodes before cancellation, which was not due to poor ratings. According to a recent Street Hawk documentary, network politics got it bounced to Friday nights, a notoriously lame time slot and against powerhouse Dallas no less, instead of the Monday Night Football lead-in slot it was created for (which wound up going to MacGyver). ABC wanted to go another direction with that time slot plus they didn't want to keep coughing up a reported $1 million per episode. At least that is their story, although the show could have really benefited from the previously mentioned idea of a  series-wide arch as to not become stale. Nevertheless, it was an exciting show that should be remembered as an enjoyable product of the 80's worth re-visiting if you watched it during its first run or checking it out if this is the first you have heard of it. You can get it on Amazon for less than $20, well worth the price tag.

It even got a couple versions of video games


SHOW OPENING:




CHECK IT OUT:
Streethawkonline.com - the definitive archive of all that is Street Hawk!


BUY THE ENTIRE SERIES:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Husk by Matt Hults




When law enforcement is finally able to corner deranged serial killer Kale Kane, an ensuing bloodbath occurs. Not until after Kane slaughters most of the police force, he is left comatose while he serves his time lifeless in a mental asylum. His body succumbs to death five years later, but the nightmare has only begun for many in a town outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

From the shadows, a mysterious Killer watches the Weiss family move into their new home. Divorcee Paul Weiss has moved his children, teenage daughter Mallroy and young son BJ, to this beautiful home for a better life after his recent separation, but has unknowingly placed Mallory in the cross hairs of our unidentified antagonist. His sights are instantly set on slaughtering her as a part of his hidden agenda. 

Detective Melissa Humble soon begins to investigate a string of bizarre murders using Kane's modus operandi and recruits retired Frank Atkins to help her solve the mystery based on his familiarity with the source material. Atkins is a survivor of the original police onslaught that subdued Kane, but lost his fiery edge and retired into a life of seclusion after authoring a failed book on theories of the mystery surrounding Kane's reign of terror. He believes that Kane was utilizing ancient supernatural elements during his killing spree and that while he is no longer among the living, the entity that aligned with the deceased killer has returned to finish what they started. Of course, Humble disregards his ideas and concentrates on finding a more realistic and conventional copycat killer.

Meanwhile, the Killer is the only one who knows the location of Kane's grave site and he needs his body to put his evil plan into play. For some reason, he requires the effort of others to unearth the corpse for his use, thus prolonging his agenda. As he continues to kill, he will soon have enough "power" to sacrifice Mallory and make his consequential intentions known to all. Standing in his way is Humble, Atkins, Mallory and Tim Fleming, a local boy with a mega crush on the beautiful Mallory. But will they be enough of a force to stop him once his true identity is revealed? Is he simply a copycat killer or something beyond their comprehension? All will be known to them in time.


Husk is the first book released by author Matt Hults (Books of the Dead Press) and he delivers his own unique breed of horror to his readers. Where else can you find a literary work that effectively mixes the slasher, zombie and paranormal genres all into one nice package? Don't say The Bible either. Just when you think you know the story, he throws a ton of swerves in what is probably the most original horror storyline in print. It's like a large budget motion picture transcended into words, much like that of author Steve Alten (Meg). 

For a quick and easy read, the action happens early and often and doesn't let up for a breath, especially in the extended final act. There is a hint of supernatural slasher flicks in the mix, such as Shocker, The Horror Show and Ghost in the Machine with a bit of Paranormal Activity thrown in for good measure. Hults is graphic when describing the heavy gore, leaving nothing to your imagination. Yet he still plays on simple things that creep people out like fear of the dark, home invasion and being stalked. There is never a sense of security or safety for reasons that cannot be disclosed without spoiling the fun. Also, the main protagonists are also portrayed as redeemable and quite likable. These include Tim, who all social outcasts can relate to, and Mallory as the fickle and "wanting what she can't have" teenage girl many have become familiar with growing up.

The only problems with Husk are in its typos and an abrupt ending, all of which are forgivable given the final product. It is simply a book that is very hard to put down once you get going due to the aura of mystery behind the intentions of the book's killer, who simply is labeled "the Killer" for a majority of the book, much like Jay Bennett's classic The Executioner. This is one heck of a debut from Hults, who will hopefully share more of his work to the world very soon.You pick this up for only $3.99 as an eBook, so it is also an inexpensive little treasure.


RATING:
4 out of 5 Creeper Santas









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Monday, January 16, 2012

Chillerama (2011)




Where have all the drive-ins gone? Before cineplexes dominated the industry, drive-ins were the place to check out some of the most truly low budget, zaniest flicks on the planet within the confines of a major social gathering. Not letting us all forget about those good old days are writers/directors Adam Green, Tim Sullivan, Joe Lynch, and Adam Rifkin, whose combined talents bring us Chillerama. With so much promise and hype, did this can't-miss prospect miss the mark?

In the final night of its existence, Cecil B. Kaufman (Office Space's Richard Riehle) closes down his local drive-in with a bang by showing four lost prints of some truly bizarro flicks for his movie-goers to enjoy. The only problem is that a necrophiliac, who gets frisky with the wrong corpse, is turned into a sex-crazed, bloodthirsty zombie and soon inadvertently begins to infect the remainder of the drive-in's audience. Our two main leads on the verge of a blossoming romantic relationship, Tobe (Corey Jones) and Mayna (Kaili Thorne), are among the audience members who watch four Z-grade films including Wadzilla, the story of a man's sperm gone bad; I Was a Teenage Werebear, a tale of a boy whose true sexual side is outed in hairy fashion; The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, which shows what really happened to Anne Frank before Adolf Hitler created the Frankenstein monster in an alternate universe; and Deathication, showing a montage of feces gags.


Chillerama's premise of being a tribute to drive-ins and the films-within-the-film appear to be excellent on paper, but the end result is nowhere near as entertaining as it should be. It is especially disappointing considering the four great cinematic minds at the helm. Rifkin's Wadzilla is like one joke that plays itself out too soon, although it is always good to see Ray Wise working. Sullivan's Werebear is by far the worst aspect of the film, containing too many unfunny and annoying musical numbers that drags the overall film down almost to the level of being completely unwatchable. Even hottie Gabby West (Scream Queens) is totally misused after her opening scene. Lynch's Zom-B-Movie is our wraparound story that tries too hard to be a Troma dedication by saturating the screen with penises and corpse sex, literally. It also concludes with a complete cop out of an ending, thus ruining any steam it was building up to at that point. Meanwhile, Deathication begins with a great introduction by its faux director, but is not as shockingly gross as it intended to be. Thankfully, we only get to see very little of it.
Adam Green's The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is the only saving grace. Completely subtitled and in black & white, this one will have you crying in laughter from beginning to end. Too bad it only lasts around 20 minutes of the film's insanely long two-hour running time. Have you ever wanted to see Joel David Moore (Avatar, Hatchet) playing Adolf Hitler as he sings a song about why people hate him and how understood he is? What do you mean "no"? Well, you will be glad that Green thought of the idea once you finish watching this segment. Moore speaks all of two lines in actual German, while speaking jibberish, with words that include "Boba Fett", "Golimar" and "Osh Kosh B' Gosh", the rest of the time. And that is only scratching the surface of the kind of hilarity you'll find in this mini-flick.


This one "coulda been a contenda", but utterly fails sans the Frankenstein segment. When four equally great modern-day directors collaborate together on a film, the result should be nothing less than a sure-fire hit. Unfortunately, the highlights of this film are too few and far in-between to make Chillerama the epic motion picture that it should have been. If you want to see a film with a quarter of the budget and genuinely in the vein of Troma, check out Drew Besson's The Taint.

If you do watch it, make sure to hang around for the credits to hear Moore's vocal opus!



RATING:
2 out of 5 Creeper Santas










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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting Daniel Bryan Over




The WWE finally pulled the trigger on making Daniel Bryan their WWE World Champion, but his booking since his surprising Money in the Bank victory in July has certainly been underwhelming. Instead of using that PPV win as momentum to elevate him into the main event scene, Bryan went on an extended losing streak that lasted the remainder of the summer. By mid-September, Bryan was a glorified jobber and his “cash in” of the MITB briefcase at Wrestlemania became about as threatening as being hit in the face with a cotton ball.

At December's TLC, Bryan cashed in the briefcase to beat the winded Big Show, who just won the belt from Mark Henry just moments ago. This event should have been the turning point  where the WWE could do something drastic with his character, but they still have him being the nerdy and Rocky-esque underdog title holder who appears to be nothing more than a transitional champ. While the WWE’s booking of Bryan has been horrible to this point, here is a list of five things that could help him regain his much deserved legitimacy and build a much needed future superstar for the company.


# 1  Promos: Practice, Practice, Practice
He is getting a little better on the mic lately, but he has a long way to go. He needs to use his free time out of the gym to look in the mirror, practice working on some character traits and facial expressions. If he increases his promo cutting quality to even 75% to what it is now, he will be over like Dover. But do that he needs to…


  # 2  ...Decide if he should be face or heel
Again, this is where the WWE screwed the pooch with his briefcase cash-in. They should have planned for him to cash it on Henry if he was going to remain face or Show if he was turning heel. Whoever he cashed it in on should have a made a hard stance on his character. He could have won the belt, celebrated and then jumped Show to re-injure his ankle. The next night he could have come out on RAW and said that the fans have been holding him back from being a champion because he can’t “talk” well on the mic, so he decided to go against his word of waiting until Wrestlemania and cash it in on the injured Show. He could have held up the belt and said “Look, when I don't listen to someone else besides you potato chip eating morons who don’t know a hip toss from a hippo and here is what I can do on my own!” That being said, he is shorter and not too physically menacing for the mainstream fan to take seriously, so maybe it would be a wise idea to…


# 3  ...Get him some backup or insurance policy
Right now, there is a genetic freak (no, not Scott Steiner) who is a bore as a face and has been going on a losing streak of his own since dropping the Intercontinental Championship last fall to Cody Rhodes. Yes, Ezekiel Jackson. He also is terrible at promos but he is a strong bull, who could serve as a bodyguard and muscle for the smaller statured Bryan. Zeke’s use of the tights to pin Drew McIntyre on a recent Smackdown is the most interesting thing he has done in months. Either Zeke or Drew, or both, are characters in limbo that could be more effective if they joined forces in some sort of stable. Bryan could say to both of them that he too was on a losing streak until he decided to do something for himself and they should ban together to end the current image of the WWE. 


     # 4  Make him a true "submission expert" or give him a new gimmick
Whether face or heel, if his character is to remain a submission expert, like a Chris Benoit or a Dean Malenko, he needs to start making big names tap clean. If people are not going to view him as a legitimate physical force due to his size, have him be resilient like Flair and pull off victories with roll ups (face) or outside interference (heel) after taking a huge beating. Right now, the WWE is riding the submission train with him, so let him Labell Lock a Randy Orton or an Alberto Del Rio and make him tap on a PPV.


      # 5- Have a high profile match at this year's Wrestlemania and win
That is probably not going to happen but if the WWE keeps the belt on him until Wrestlemania, he needs to put on his usual Five-Star match and walk away victorious. It doesn’t matter if it is against Orton or Henry, he needs to beat them clean as a face or cheat as a heel. If he wins at ‘Mania, it will be a topic that he can mention in his future promos and establish legitimacy as a main event player.


Without doing fantasy booking, these are just some ideas to throw against the wall. It is gfood to see the WWE giving him a nice push, but the real concern is that they are just ending his MITB angle to push him back down into the midcard. Last week's Smackdown and this week's RAW portrayed him as a cocky, egotistical champ with a bit of a chicken-s*** heel quality. The WWE has started to implement "slow burns" to angles, so perhaps this a slow burn to Bryan going flat out heel. On the mic, his promos are lacking (but have been improving) and his matches are among the best to watch in the ring, but the Cenation and HHH caliber of marks will hold him down from greatness because Bryan is trying to learn the soap opera side of sports entertainment. The fact of the matter is that he is not a great “entertainer”, but an awesome “wrestler” as he has stated before in the past.

Need more proof on how great he is to watch in the ring when he is allowed to perform at his highest potential. Go to YouTube and type in “Bryan Danielson” with “ROH” or “Ring of Honor”, then enjoy. In the meantime, even though D-Bry is in Booker T’s Fave Five, the WWE needs for him to defeat some quality opponents and use some traits listed above to elevate this performer to the main event status where he rightfully belongs. His No Count-Out/No Disqualification match against Big Show for the championship on this week's Smackdown will hopefully tell us more on what road his character is traveling down as we approach the Royal Rumble.