So, summer is winding down, especially with the arrival of daytime temperatures only in the 60’s here in Massachusetts. And I saw the only movie that mattered this summer: Guardians of the Galaxy. Having never read the comic book, or even heard of the comic book until the movie, I had nothing to compare it to and greatly enjoyed the film. Yeah, I know this deletes some of my geek points, but I still have plenty of geek left. Through this experience, I believe I have found the perfect man.
Ladies, meet Groot.
Yeah. Okay. So. He’s a tree.
What makes Groot the perfect man? Let’s start with the physical attributes. He’s tall. Dark. Has compassionate eyes and a great smile. His abilities range from very handy to extraordinary. He can reach all those things on top shelves that my short stature cannot. He can stretch and grow to help you bust out of an intergalactic maximum security prison if needed. He provides shade in the blazing sun and grows his own flowers for you on Valentine’s Day and birthdays. He produces light during power outages. And he speaks only when he needs to. His personality is quite incredible. Groot is friendly to and gentle around children. He is a loyal friend. When others sit around talking and planning, he is doing. And most importantly, Groot would gladly impale anyone that tries to harm those he holds dear to his lively heart.
When I was about seven years old, I spent Easter weekend at the home of my newly married sister. On that wonderful Sunday, my pre-school aged nephew and I excitedly entered the living area, hoping to find baskets stuffed with Peeps, chocolate and other goodies laying in plastic shredded green grass. But instead, we found a wrecked living room with disarrayed couch cushions, blankets, and decorate pillows laying around.
The story the young adults told us curious children was that my brother-in-law spotted the Easter Bunny in the home and chased him around the room.
This was not met with excitement from us kiddos.
In fact, my first thought was something more like this:
My little nephew and I stood silent for a bit, staring with wide eyes at the damage done by a rabbit large enough to carry around presents for our baskets.
“What color was he?” my nephew asked.
“Oh, multi-colored. He kept changing colors as he ran around.”
A color changing rabbit meant only one thing to this Cold War, Generation X child: Mutated. You mean to tell me that a giant, mutated bunny was in this house?!
Suddenly, this notion was not that scary:
Yep, to me, the Easter Bunny was scarier that a beaten Son of God being brutally crucified and then rising from the grave like some zombie. Okay. Yeah. It sounds silly, but I’ve always been an imaginative child.
I was too young at that time to appreciate that this prank meant to boost our belief in the Easter Bunny actually strengthened my faith. So the cutesy, capitalistic symbol of Easter and I really haven’t experienced a solid relationship. And truthfully, who wants to think of the Lord bloody and broken on a Roman cross when flowers are budding, birds are singing, and baby duckies and bunnies are prancing around? But, hey, the Resurrection is my basis for this Spring Time holiday. Therefore, I never encouraged the belief of a gift giving bunny to my own son. And I only died Easter eggs with him once because it was just such a stinky mess. By the way, Peeps candies are plain gross.
But then this guy came along:
Hecks, yeah!! A six foot tall, speedy, boomerang slinging, Australian accented bad-ass that protects me from evil! Voiced by Hugh Jackman, this Easter Bunny explained that Easter is also about “hope” and “new beginnings.” Therefore, lining up with the Christian belief that one can be “born again.”
So once again, I say thank you to the Easter Bunny for helping to keep my faith strong. 🙂
Zombie fans united this weekend at movie theatres to witness a depiction of the entire world at war with the undead. Based on Max Brooks brutally intriguing novel of the same title, “World War Z” is not your typical zombie film.
If you want missing body parts, blood spatters and intestines hanging out, watch AMC’s The Walking Dead, or any of the newer George Romero movies. For the WWZ movie is mostly void of the gruesomely detailed walking corpses or attacks as Brooks so masterfully writes in the novel.
But the film is packed with soldiers calling the zombies “Zekes,” shooting at them, and putting their lives on the line to save their country men. Bombs, including nuclear, fall. People panic and scream and fall prey to the infected and entire cities are lost as millions (possibly billions) of people turn. And these bad boys and girls don’t stumble around stupidly and aimlessly. These zombie biznaches run, climb stairs, leap, and even parkour throughout streets, building tops, and over obstacles. They pile on top of each other like ants, scaling buildings and walls. And these zombies are intelligent.
Viewers who have read the book will also find Patient Zero, a kick-ass female soldier, and most importantly, the horrid, radical, and seemingly irrational decisions that salvage human kind. Well, most of human kind anyway. And this last idea is what I believe is the premise of the novel.
If you are interested in seeing the movie, but have not read the book, don’t read it yet. Just go enjoy the film. Then pick up Max Brooks’ World War Z at your local library or book store. If you have read the novel and haven’t seen the film, be prepared that the film creators basically put Brooks’ idea on the big screen. Don’t compare it to the book.
And good luck surviving this version of the Zombie Apocalypse.
My mother said I was four years old when I settled on the floor in front of our television to watch The Wizard of Oz for the first time. She said I made it through the tornado ripping up the house and landing on the witch. I made it through Dorothy getting swarmed by munchkins. Yet when giant monkeys soared in, Mama said I propelled off the floor in a hissy and cowered in her lap.
And this weekend, thirty-plus years later, I sat in a theatre, again wowed by the land of Oz. Sam Raimi and teams of special effects artists delighted us with Oz, The Great and Powerful, complete with Munchkins, Tinkers, witches, and yes, flying monkeys. Though not seen at first, they howl and screech through the wind and cast menacing shadows on the land below. Once they make their appearance in hordes, they hiss and bare baboon fangs, and attack with clawed hands and feet. And now they are in 3-D. I squashed back against the theatre seat and wast tempted to duck.
Though obviously computer generated, Oz, the Great and Powerful is a beautiful movie. The costumes are quite imaginative. The characters are wonderfully executed, as James Franco is charming and marvelous. Rachel Weiss is wickedly lovely. And Mila Kunis is surprisingly brilliant. Oz is well worth the price of the ticket and a trip to a good theatre to view it.
Here is another round of my favorite quotes from the spooky side of life. Enjoy!
“Look at her, Thing. I would die for her. I would kill for her. Either way, what bliss!” Gomez Addams, The Addams Family Movie.
“We’ve had a doozy of a day, Officer. There we we’re mindin’ our own business. Makin’ some improvements to our new vacation home. When all the sudden these kids start killin’ themselves all over my property!” Tucker in Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil.
“Yeah, I had to dismember that guy with a trowel.”
“I’m sorry I let you get attacked by a werewolf and then ended the world.”
Both from Marty in Cabin in the Woods.
A couple from AMC’s The Walking Dead:
“You believe in a blood sucking dog? (chupacabra) -Seth
“You believe in the dead walking around?” -Daryl.
“I shot Daryl,” -Andrea.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. We’ve all wanted to shoot Daryl,” -Dale.
“She turned into a raven and then flew back to hell,” Tessa from ABC’s Suburgatory.
“Yes, umm, are you nuts? I don’t wanna steal drugs from my father, I don’t wanna go inside a monster, and I don’t wanna die!” – Chowder, Monster House
From Shawn of the Dead:
“We may have to kill my stepdad,” Shawn to Ed.
Liz, screaming: “EVERYBODY CALM THE F*&# DOWN!!!”
“I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy,” Freddy Krueger.
“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.
Three, four, better lock your door.
Five, Six, get your crucifix.
Seven, eight, stay up late.
Nine, ten, never sleep again.” Nightmare on Elm Street.
“May be innocent, may be sweet…ain’t half as good as rotting meat,” Blix the demon, Legend.
“Dib! Are you trying to bring the dead back to life again?” Professor Membrane, Invader Zim.
“I’m not alone in the dark. I like the dark. I love the dark. But I hate nature, I hate nature!” Chunk, The Goonies.
For a time which quantity I cannot remember, I’ve rummaged through bargain bins of DVD’s in search of a certain 40 + year-old movie. These hunts always ended with empty hands. Every holiday, again I search the DVD’s on sale. Every Halloween, I think “there has to be copies of it on display now!” Nope. Finally last year, I went to For Your Entertainment and asked if they sold copies of it because they have everything in stock.
“We have it on Blu-Ray.”
I have not made that technological jump yet.
It’s not that I don’t believe this masterpiece deserves me paying a full price. It’s that I simply cannot afford it right now.
I’m talking about George A. Romero’s classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead, independently filmed and released in 1968 on 35 mm black and white film.
My appreciation for this movie began when viewing Night on cable television as a teen-ager. During this time, the cable networks thought it was a great idea to colorize the classics. Well, this does NOT work for horror films. The shadows, drear, and dread disappear when fake colors are added. So I patiently waited a few days until a network aired it in black and white around Halloween time.
That night, I lay on my bed, gripping my pillow and refusing to take my wide-eyed gaze off the screen. Barbara watched in helpless terror when her brother was attacked by a walking corpse in a cemetery. Strangers sealed themselves in a farmhouse, hoping to ward off flesh-eating zombies. And *gasp* sweet little Karen (portrayed by an eleven year old) dined on her own father and killed her mother with a masonry spade. To me, this whole idea was terrifying: the dead coming back to life as soul-less beings, with no purpose but to consume the living; walling oneself in a house and with few options for survival; a child falling prey to the monsters and then killing her parents. Mr. Romero appeared to spare nothing when it came to scaring the living daylights out of people.
And these concepts have survived near four and a half decades, spanned generations, and crossed into many medias: movies, video games, television, books, graphic novels, and music. With no pun intended, the zombie genre is alive now more than ever.
So, back to my beautiful moment.
This weekend, I took the Boy and a couple of friends to the mall so we can get some air-conditioning. We parted ways for a bit and agreed to meet back in Target. But they were not there. Hmmmmm, where would three video game playing, music loving, graphic novel/comic book reading teen-aged boys go? Newbury Comics. Right beside Target. Of course.
The boys spot me immediately, and two of them head my way. Upon turning to call for the third one, I see it standing on a low shelf, the cover printed over a gravestone background. Could it be? Is this finally happeneing? Everything vanished out of view as I honed in on it.
George A. Romero’s
The Original Classic
After years of searching for them, The Living Dead found me at a completely unexpected moment. I love you, Newbury Comics.
“Wait! I’ll be just a few minutes!” I call to the boys as I scoop the DVD from its place, leaving a blank spot. Ah, the last copy, at least on this shelf. My son’s friends arch eyebrows in confusion when seeing someone my age dash into Newbury Comics. But I did not care. In addition to getting hard-to-find movie, music, and TV show memorabilia, I’ve discovered great bargains at the comic store in the past.
Instead of blabbing about how I’ve been searching for this DVD like a long-lost relative, I made small talk with the Newbury employee at the register, typically dressed in punk gear and her hair dyed orange and yellow.
On they way home, with three boys gawking over a Batman book, I realized this will be my second “staycation” within a year that I’m spending time with Mr. Romero and zombies.
The MTV Movie Awards rolled out this past weekend, which I did not watch this year because we do not have cable. But this is the movie award show I truthfully enjoy watching because it celebrates movies people actually watch. Another reason I dig the MTV Movie awards is the categories: Best Fight Scene, Best Hero, Best Dirtbag. But I’d like to propose my own category, along with my winners: Best Cameo Appearances.
The Cast of “Dawson’s Creek” in Muppets From Space (1999) :
The Muppet Movies are riddled with great cameos, from Brook Shields to Jim Parsons. But one of my faves is when the cast of teen drama “Dawson’s Creek” waited in the fields for the alien arrival. The piece included a young Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson (of Fox’s Fringe fame).
Whoopi Goldberg, The Little Rascals, 1994.
A dread-locked Buckwheat skips along just before the big soap box car race. He smiles and points into the audience, seated in the bleachers.
“Look, there’s my Mom!” And Whoopi Goldberg smiles are waves back. Sweet.
Kathy Bates in Stephen King’s The Stand (1994):
As the Super Flu plagued humanity and thousands dropped dead, disc jockey Rae Flowers (played by Bates) ran a radio station all by herself for a day. Yet her views of the flu cost her her life, which was shockingly aired on her radio show….
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright, George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005): Around the time of Pegg’s performance in the amazingly funny in Shawn of the Dead, he and his friend, Edgar, were zombified for Romero’s fourth installment of his legendary franchise. Simon and Edgar played “photo booth zombies,” where people could get their pictures taken with a pair of zombies securely chained out of harm’s way.
Timothy Olyphant voice over in Rango(2011):
A pet tropical lizard gets lost in the dry American west. The poncho wearing Spirit of the West, gruffly and mysteriously voiced by Mr. Olyphant, guides him. Hey, animated films can have cameos also.
Keith Richards in Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End (2007): Our favorite pirates gathered at the Brethren Court, and Captain Teague (Richards) made sure no one broke the pirate code.
Christopher Knight and Florence Henderson in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995):
What Generation X kid did not love the Brady Bunch? Peter, played by Knight, was my favorite Brady. Knight appeared as a teacher in a cafeteria, getting onto one of the newer Brady Boys. And Grandma Brady visited the family at the end of the movie. Who better to play her, than Mrs. Brady herself, Florence Henderson.
Dr. Phil and Shaquille O’Neal, Scary Movie 4 (2006): This is my absolute favorite opening in the Scary Movie franchise. Dr. Phil cuts off the wrong foot and admits he’s not a real doctor. Shaq misses a shot. Dr. Phil drops the “mother” of all curse words.
Although I did not rank the above cameos, I did save the best one for last. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Bill Murray as himself in Zombieland (2009):
Tallahassee, Columbus and the girls need a safe place to crash on their way to Pacific Playland as zombies have taken over America. Tallahassee (portrayed by Woody Harrelson) drives them to Bill Murray’s mansion, where they drink wine, practice shooting, and play a scene from Ghostbusters. In this photo, Murray shows the few survivors how to make themselves up like zombies in order to walk around with the Dead. For those who have not seen the film, I will NOT spoil the moment that makes this the Greatest Cameo Ever.
Supposedly, Stephen King appears in every film that was based on his books. Also, master of suspense and horror, Alfred Hitchcock, has cameos in all of his films.