Sunday, December 21, 2014

Star Trek: Titan - "Taking Wing"


People wander around Riker’s new ship, the USS Titan, while it sits in spacedock for half the damn book, then finally they get embroiled in a political dispute on Romulus continuing from, again, ugh, Nemesis

RATING: 59% 

(Where to place: right after the TNG book Death in Winter)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Death in Winter"

While the Enterprise is getting repaired from ramming that ship in everybody's favorite Star Trek movie, Picard decides to go off with some characters we don’t care about to see if he can get out of the friendzone with Dr. Crusher by rescuing her. 

RATING: 51%

(Where to place: Immediately after the events of Nemesis, this is the first book considered part of TNG's "relaunch.")

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Ship of the Line"

That one character Kelsey Grammar played for two seconds in that time loop episode takes command of the brand new Enterprise-E but something tells me that ain’t gonna stick!

RATING: 31%

(Where to place: shortly before First Contact)

Star Trek: New Frontier - "Omnibus"

(Reviewing the first four books here since they're all novellas connected to launching this series)
 

House of Cards – Some spaceman rebels against some aliens we’ve never heard of, and a horny Vulcan doesn’t get to have sex at the last second.

RATING: 51%

Into the Void – A brand new ship under the command of that rebel alien dude (Whose name is Mackenzie Calhoun for some reason???) goes on a mission! What mission? Find out in part three I guess! 

RATING: 61%

The Two Front War – There’s some betrayal, some explosions, and things still don’t get resolved, what gives?

RATING: 68%

Endgame – Finally the Excalibur gets involved in some political stuff and a giant bird hatches out of a planet and tries to eat the ship, which is a pretty decent resolution I suppose.

RATING: 72%

(Where to place: It doesn't matter since it's a new crew.ship/etc, but the main story takes place shortly after First Contact)

Star Trek - "Spock Must Die!"

The very first “original” Star Trek “novel” (117 pages?) in which Spock gets turned into two Spocks by the transporter (why does that sound so familiar...). Anyway, one’s a Klingon spy for some reason, there’s some bizarre racist sidebar about why white ladies like Spock, and apparently stuttering is only ever caused by when all left handed children in the future are forced to be right handed??? Thumbs down James Blish!  

RATING: 17%

(Where to place: During the second TOS season, sometime after "Journey to Babel" and right before "Bread and Circuses")

Enterprise S1E18 - "Acquisition"

This episode is universally reviled for its supposed breach of Trek continuity, but I don't give a shit about that - do whatever you have to do to tell a great story! This is not a great story. The Ferengi take over Enterprise to steal its... treasure? One thing I appreciate about Enterprise as a show, though, is it revels in making a man (always Trip Tucker) the object of viewers' sexual desire, so Tucker takes control back of the ship in his BVDs.

RATING: 32%

(image by DeviantArt user angeleyes91011)

Enterprise S1E17 - "Rogue Planet"

Starts great, with a spooky rogue planet being able to support life, ends with a psychic slug.

RATING: 6%

Friday, December 19, 2014

Enterprise S1E16 - "Fusion"

Some Vulcans come out of space asking for help and acting all nice and jolly and it turns out they are a religious sect who believe feeling all the feelings is kinda cool. Well what's not cool is mind rape, which one of them does to T'Pol and Archer just lets them all go with a slap on the wrist - some space cop you're turning out to be, pal!

RATING: 70%

Enterprise S1E15 - "Shuttlepod One"

Malcolm and Trip are on a mission in a shuttlepod (can't remember which number) and through a hilarious series of misunderstandings they come to believe that the Enterprise is destroyed and they are slowly going to die of asphyxiation. No worries, they turn it into a bourbon-drinkin' party!

RATING: 61%

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Enterprise S1E14 - "Shadows of P'Jem"

The Vulcans decide they want to bring T'Pol home and send her to her room with no dinner or whathaveyou, but then she and Archer get kidnapped so everything works out swell!

RATING: 19%

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Enterprise S1E13 - "Sleeping Dogs"

Our spacetronauts encounter a strange ship stranded in a gas giant, but wait a minute, to me that ship looks sorta Klingon so I bet this rescue mission doesn't go off without a hitch!

RATING: 56%

(photo from petyourdog.com)

Enterprise S1E12 - "Dear Doctor"

Dr. Phlox gets a crush on this one earth lady, but he's nervous that she'll be mad that he already has four wives with two or three husbands each, but then she's like "Woah, marriage? Let's just have some fun." Also the Enterprise meets some pre-warp people with a space-plague and they decide not to help them in a very heavy handed pre-Prime Directive example of non-interference. Archer even says, I'm not kidding, "If only we had a rule... a directive, if you will, to stop this in the future." We already got that, writers!

RATING: 48%

Enterprise S1E11 - "Silent Enemy"

Some tall, skinny alien bros decide to crash Enterprise's space party they're throwing for Malcolm, so the Enterprise decides to invent phasers to teach these space bros a lesson.

RATING: 21%

Monday, December 15, 2014

Enterprise S1E10 - "Cold Front"

While meeting some space-religious-types on a pilgrimage to a space-cloud, Archer and co. also meet some time travelers who want to either fuck things up or save them. It's actually an ok episode before the time travelers come in and force a story arc because people nowadays apparently can't enjoy a show unless "everything's connected, man!"

RATING: 62%

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Enterprise S1E9 - "Fortunate Son"

The Enterprise comes across a freighter that's been damaged in an attack, and the "boomers" on board (humans who run cargo) are angry and stubborn and also hostage takers - luckily Ensign Mayweather is there to talk everybody down because he was born on a freighter, man without a country style. Pretty strong episode that fleshes out the world of commerce in Star Trek, something basically no other show would do.

RATING: 68%

Enterprise S1E8 - "Civilization"

Some space pirates are mining poison out of a Medieval style alien town, so Captain Archer pulls a Kirk and makes out with a space lady to save the day.

RATING: 36%

Enterprise S1E7 - "Breaking the Ice"

The crew decides to land on a comet and some Vulcans decide to watch them build a snowman. Also T'Pau has some marital issues only the Southern dude can help resolve because clearly they are going to hook up at some point in the future of the show.

RATING: 41%

Friday, December 12, 2014

Enterprise S1E6 - "The Andorian Incident"

So there's lots of crazy space things to explore, but instead Archer's like "let's check out this boring Vulcan monastery!" Turns out some Andorians also wanted to check it out, ie take everybody hostage because they worry there's a secret spy thing underneath, but that would never be true in Star Trek, right???

RATING: 64%

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Enterprise S1E5 - "Terra Nova"

The Enterprise finds a long lost space colony (I mean, it's 70 years old but I guess that's long lost) except the people forget what technology is and there's a little too much radiation so maybe not a great vacation spot imho.

RATING: 36%

Enterprise S1E4 - "Unexpected"

You know that thing where you meet an alien species so you accidentally hold hands and then grow a bunch of extra nipples because you're now pregnant? No?

RATING: 69%

Enterprise S1E3 - "Strange New World"

Here Archer and the gang land on one a them planet dealies with the hallucinatory flowers like in twenty episodes of the Original Series, which causes the southern dude to flip his shit and turn all racist. Yeah, sure it was the space pollen talking, guy. Time for a trip to human resources if you ask me!

RATING: 61%

Enterprise S1E2 - "Fight or Flight"

The Enterprise meets a floating derelict in space with all its dead crew having their blood drained to make space drugs, so of course they stick around because there are no horror movies in the 22nd Century.

RATING: 64%

Monday, December 8, 2014

Enterprise S1E1 - "Broken Bow"

Everybody hates Enterprise, and to be honest when I was 21 as soon as I heard the Scott Stapp style crooner whining his way through a barely plucked acoustic guitar as the theme song I clicked it off. This first episode is actually really great, it turns out, from effects to story to acting. The plot is there's a Klingon who accidentally crashes on Earth, so it's up to Captain Johnathan Archer and his brand new ship, the, uh, Enterprise (like, future people have a really small stable of names to pick from I guess) to carry this Klingon back to his home world, Klingo, but will everything go according to plan??? Also, gripezone, but Star Trek is always patting itself on the back for diversity yet in six TV shows every crewmember has been hetero cisgender Americans/Europeans with a couple aliens thrown in for good measure.

RATING: 76%

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tentacles

Italian genre films made in the 60s, 70s and 80s are a world unto themselves. They have their own inherent logic, cinematic language and tropes that often act as funhouse mirror reflections of those found in genre films made in North America. While there were plenty of original genre films made during Italy's golden years of schlock, North American genre fans like myself tend to be drawn to films that were blatant rip-offs of other (more successful) films. Hence my recent viewing of Tentacles, a Jaws rip-off from 1977. There were and continue to be a shit ton of movies made in an effort to cash-in on the success of Jaws, very few of them are any good. My main issue with Tentacles is that it did not feature enough tentacles. Most of the time that we see the film's killer octopus we're watching stock footage, which isn't particularly effective. Part of what made Jaws and some of its better imitators (Piranha, Alligator) so powerful was the combination of practical effects with limited stock footage. Tentacles overuses stock footage and scenes of real octopuses interacting with poorly made miniatures. There are only a handful of scenes in the movie with practical monster effects. One such scene, which happens about an hour into the film, features a woman being picked up out of the water by a giant tentacle, it's easily my favorite scene in the whole movie. There's a lot more of this movie worth dissecting, be it the cast (mostly classy American actors) or the score or the weird editing choices, but for the most part Tentacles just isn't interesting enough to warrant any significant investment of your time.

Rating: 51%

Fun Fact: Ovidio G. Assonitis, the director, would later write and produce Piranha II: The Spawning.

(Image from impawards.com)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

House (1977)

This Japanese haunted house movie from the 70s won't scare you, per se, but it is sincerely the most surreal piece of nightmare fuel I've ever come across, including Jodorowsky. The plot is your average high school girls on vacation to a house haunted by the ghost of a woman's loneliness who wants to eat them type fare. It is 40% surreal humor, as when a cat dances and meows a song, 40% surreal terror, as when a girls severed fingers play the piano that bit them off, and 1800% weird nonsense. Toho studios told the director, an art director known for nonlinear experimental films, that they were tired of losing money on comprehensible films, and asked him to make something incomprehensible. Success! I've got to recommend this movie with full marks, since you'll never see anything else like it in your entire life.

RATING: 81%

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Bat

The Bat is more of a mystery film than a horror movie but it features a killer in black wearing a glove with claws on it that he uses to tear out the throats of his victims, so it hardly seemed out of place during this season of horror. Agnes Moorehead plays the main protagonist in the movie, a mystery writer renting a creepy old house. In many ways the movie plays out like an episode of Murder, She Wrote wherein the female writer lead unravels a mystery involving the colorful characters orbiting around her after she turns up in town. One of those colorful characters is played by Vincent Price. Spoiler alert: though Price is not the main villain of the film, he does murder someone at one point, so he's not exactly a nice guy.

Rating: 61%

Fun Fact: Agnes Moorehead made her film debut in Citizen Kane.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Monday, October 27, 2014

2000

2000 used to be a futuristic sounding number, but now if somebody was born in the year 2000 they're old enough to be a misogynistic gamer-gate troll on some internet forum. If somebody gave me $2000 I would like it but to be fair if somebody gave me $2 I would also like that, or, really, I would appreciate any gift because it's the thought that counts. If you have a blog it might take you 10 months to write your first 1000 posts but then it would probably take you another six years to write your next thousand, but at least 800 people a month are still accidentally stumbling across your hodge-podge of time-wasting reviews (shoulda monetized back in 07, rats!).

RATING: Glenn, Loco, Nick, Laurie, Bryan, Internet John, Viking Andrew, Loren, Evan, Robyn, Ryan, Quammy %

Cat People

This past Saturday the Kalamazoo Alamo Draft House had a four horror movie marathon, which sounds great on paper but by hour eight sounded less great. Anyway, the gem of the night was Paul Schrader's Cat People, a movie I would never have guessed was a horror movie by the cover. It's about a couple of were-cats who turn into panthers after having sex with non-were-cats and can't turn back into people until they kill somebody. You know, typical were-cat fare. It's really well directed, and great performances from all the cast and you also (SPOILER) get to see Ed Begley Jr.'s arm ripped off. The other movies were Night of the Creeps, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and Humanoids from the Deep in case you were wondering.

RATING: 78%

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Curse of the Werewolf

Hammer Films have definitely made some of the classiest looking trash anyone has ever seen. There's a reason the poster art for this movie looks like a distorted version of a romance novel cover. The Curse of the Werewolf definitely has some heaving bosoms and star crossed lovers in it but it also has some prison rape and a satanic baptism. Overall the movie is a little disjointed, half of it is about the birth and childhood of the werewolf and the other half features Oliver Reed as an adult living with lycanthropy. Oddly enough, this was the only werewolf movie ever made by Hammer.

Rating: 67%

Fun Fact: Oliver Reed, who played Leon, was also in David Cronenberg's The Brood.

(Image from Wikipedia)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Blob

Maybe it's because I just spent the last few weeks watching terrible Resident Evil and Saw movies, but the remake of The Blob was terrific. The creature (?) effects are pretty great, as is the gore for a mainstream 80s studio horror movie. The plot is there's a small town in America and also there is a blob that eats people, two great tastes that taste great together. Coincidentally, the main girl in this movie is played by Shawnee Smith, who was in every Saw movie as Jigsaw Jr. Lotsa people get blobbed real good including one kid, so nice one, The Blob.

RATING: 70%

Friday, October 24, 2014

Alone in the Dark

During a blackout, four of the world's craziest psychopaths break out of a psychiatric hospital. Amid the chaos, they descend upon their new doctor's home. The doctor and his family are forced to fight for their lives. Sounds kinda like a standard horror movie plot, doesn't it? For the most part Alone in the Dark is pretty average but there are a few moments of madness in the movie that almost elevate it above the standard fare. It also has a great cast: Jack Palance, Martin Landau, a hippy dippy Donald Pleasence and TV's Dwight Schultz (The A-Team, Star Trek: The Next Generation). The tone of this movie is just way off though, everything seesaws back and forth from casual quiet to over the top insanity. The movie never seems to have a clear narrative progression, it just feels like a series of events happening to a dozen or so characters over a 48 hour period. It's worth a look, but that's about it.

Rating: 60%

(Image from Wikipedia)