Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mummy Maniac - Misogyny All Wrapped Up

Mummy Maniac
Hollywood House of Horrors
Directed by Max Nikoff
Written by Max Nikoff
Starring Ben Stewart, Erica Kruz & Colette Claire

Rated R - 81 Minutes

Tag Line:
Preserve The Fear

Alternate Titles:

A psycho disguised as a cop on the streets of New York abducts women, then kills them.  He wraps their heads in bandages, like a mummy and then mutilates the head.  Then he dumps the body in a random location.  That is not only the capsulated review, but it's also about as detailed as the plot gets!  To be perfectly honest there isn't much of a plot.  Mummy Maniac nabs a victim, throws her in his truck, takes her to his "black room" and then kills them after asking a few nonsensical questions.  This is pretty much the whole movie, rinse and repeat.

It's the Mummy Maniac!  Look, he's even got bandages on his mirror!

Look!  It's MUMMY!  

The girls themselves are all pretty unlikable and apparently quite clueless.  Though Mummy Maniac is dressed as a police officer throughout the entire film, you would think that it would be quite obvious that after being thrown into a white truck and then tossed into a room with sharp tools that the man standing in front of you is not a cop.  Doesn't stop these dimwits from protesting that they hadn't done anything wrong and that they shouldn't be arrested.  When it does dawn on them that they are in trouble, some of them get quite bold and inform him that he can't just do that to people.  A few others just cry and blabber incoherently.

That brings me to a major issue I had with the film:  The sound.  The sounds was SO murky and SO uneven that I had to put on the subtitle option on Netflix.  Think THAT's bad?  The subtitles would often give half a sentence of dialog and then it would say (UNCLEAR).  You know you are in deep shit when even the subtitles have no clue what the fuck is going on!

Naturally after you wrap a girls head up like a mummy, you fondle her....

Mummy's going to wrap you up!

Aside from the murder scenes, there are some scenes of Mummy Maniac driving around New York and spying on people from a building top.  There are also a few scenes with his shrink.  Most confusing are the scenes with his mother.  I spent the entire film trying to figure out if she was real, or if she was a figment of his imagination a la Norman Bates.  She apparently keeps putting him down and humiliating him because he couldn't make it as a Marine.  I'm guessing this is what caused his........erm.....mummy issues (get it?) and started him on a killing spree.  Oh yeah, and when he dies he wants to become a mummy.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  Five girls are murdered throughout the course of the film.

Nude-O-Meter:  We get to see a couple pairs of boobs.

Things That Go Bump In The Night:  The Mummy Maniac!  A psycho cop obsessed with mummies!

Final Thoughts
The premise of the film sounded fairly interesting.  I'm always up for a psycho flick.  The was allegedly based on real events, though I didn't really look it up, so I can't confirm that.  It's said that this film was made on a $500 budget.  I'm going to have to assume that the money was used to bribe a couple of girls to show their boobs.  And possibly a couple cans of paint.  I really can't recommend this movie to anyone, unless you are a hardcore DIY film fanatic.  While I admire any filmmaker that can not only make a film on their own terms but get it distributed, the final product could have used some more polishing and a lot more work on the sound!  If you DO check this one out, make sure you opt for the subtitles!

One final note:  The first girl that he abducts sounds EXACTLY like Lois Griffin from Family Guy.  That might be worth watching the first twenty or so minutes for....it's kinda hilarious.

Final Score
One out of Five Pizza Rolls

Welcome to the Shadowlands - An Interview with Andrew Parietti

Issue #8
Recently I came across a new magazine at my local Barnes & Noble.  There in the ever shrinking film magazine section was a hand drawn Planet of the Apes cover (Issue #7).  Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of Planet of the Apes, but I AM a fan of The Evil Dead which, was also listed on the cover....not to mention there was just something about the magazine as a whole that appealed to me.  Needless to say, I bought it, read it and loved it.

I was even more thrilled when I came across Issue #8, which features a fantastic portrait of a Xenomorph on it's cover (you can bet that I'll be nominating that for a Rondo this year...it's FANTASTIC!)  The accompanying feature on the Alien series was also a fantastic read.  After devouring Issue #8, I knew that I had to find out more about this magazine, so I contacted creator/editor Andrew Parietti and he was kind enough to take some time out for an interview!

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I'm the editor and publisher of Shadowland Magazine, a quarterly print publication that covers the best in horror, sci-fi and fantasy entertainment. I'm an avid fan of each the aforementioned genres – an interest that began before I could even remember.

Issue #8 Back Cover
What was the genesis of Shadowland Magazine?

Shadowland was really an endeavor to recapture the glory days of publications like The Monster Times, Starlog and, to some degree, Comics Scene. I've had an interest in publishing my own magazine for some time, so when I finally had the opportunity to try my hand at it, it was a no-brainer. While there's a guide – or “For Dummies” instructional/reference book – for nearly everything nowadays, a step-by-step handbook on magazine
publishing has yet to see the light of day. Starting up the magazine was very much a trial-by-fire approach but, fortunately, most of the wrinkles were ironed out well before the first issue went to the printer. Though it's still an endless learning experience.

Within the span of nine issues, the magazine has already evolved considerably. The first three issues were around 52 pages and we've since increased our page count to 104 pages. And, since issue #7, our distribution numbers have increased considerably, hitting not only more comic/hobby shops than ever before, but newsstands and bookstores like Barnes & Noble.

Shadowland has a varied mix of horror, sci-fi & fantasy...covering movies, books, comics, video games, television and more. What criteria do you use when selecting material for Shadowland?
Issue #7

When selecting material to include in Shadowland I'm always looking to apply a mix of the mainstream and obscure. However, if an article is covering a mainstream topic, I would always rather that it take a unique approach to the subject. For example, Shadowland #3 (our 'Bat Issue') featured an excellent retrospective by Flynn Cook who defended the two heavily-criticized Schumacher Batman films (Batman Forever & Batman and Robin), and offered both credible and insightful reasons for their merit. While those two films are far from obscure, Cook's article was not only 'out of the box' but offered a fresh look at the material. Alternatively, in the same issue there was Frank Warden's Rondo Award-nominated article that analyzed the lesser known 1930 film, The Bat Whispers – a criminally underrated technical masterpiece that rarely gets a mention in any magazine.

At the end of the day, which material to include is a bit of a
balancing act, because articles on Planet of the Apes, Ghostbusters, Alien, The Phantom of the Opera, Batman and the Evil Dead will always draw in the mainstream readers and garner significant interest across the board. By including these we can also cover topics that are far from the norm, like the 1987 made-for-TV Bates Motel movie, the unreleased Hellraiser: Virtual Hell video game, and the 1990s Robocop live-action television series, to name but a few.

Issue #6
Another goal is to balance out the horror, sci-fi and fantasy articles without focusing too much on one genre. And Shadowland never settles on one set era to cover. We've included content from silent films to modern summer blockbusters. Ultimately, I use my own fan 'barometer' to gauge the content – is this issue something I would pick up in a store? Would I spend my money on this? Are these articles something I would care to read? If all the answers are yes, and so far they
have been for each issue and every included article, I know I'm on the right track.

So many current magazines focus on a single niche genre, that they really have their respective market cornered. For example, Scary Monsters is the preeminent source of classic horror, and G-Fan is the go-to publication for Godzilla films and giant Japanese monsters. HorrorHound touches upon multiple eras of horror films from classic to new, they also tend to pay special attention to the 1980s era of slashers. All of these are fantastic publications and have not only set the bar, but raised it.

Issue #5
I know of no one who's strictly into horror, yet hates all sci-fi (or fantasy). And vice versa. That applies to 'in-genre' appeal as well. Sure, someone may love the classic Universal horror films and hate the gory '80s slashers, but there's many more who can find enjoyment in both. I feel that the diverse blend that
Shadowland covers really sets it apart from the current line-up of publications on the shelves.

What/Who are your inspirations?

The 1980s/early '90s run of Starlog Magazine was a strong inspiration for Shadowland. That era was a great time for the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres and quite possibly Starlog's finest hour. You take a look at those back issues and you find amazing articles on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the Star Trek films when they were starring the original crew, Tim Burton's Batman, Aliens, Robocop, James Bond, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Gremlins, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Terminator 2 – it was one heck of a time for movies. Plus with the advent of home video and the studios' newfound drive for tie-in merchandising, the medium exploded like never before. There were endless amounts of subjects to tackle, and Starlog did it

Issue #4
Comics Scene, an offshoot of Starlog, was another influence. It was one of the first major magazines in the United States to not only be completely devoted to covering comic books, but was one of the first to explore the rising popularity of Japanese anime, including Akira and Lensman. This was also at a time pre-internet explosion, so both Comics Scene and Starlog were on the cutting edge. Nowadays, that's near impossible for any print publication; as soon as the ink dries after it comes off the printer the 'news' of an upcoming film, show, etc, is already outdated.

And lastly, The Monster Times stands as one of the all time greatest publications in the history of the genres and one of my main inspirations. It covered everything from horror to sci-fi to fantasy, including Godzilla films, comic book superheroes, Star Trek, the Hammer horror pictures, and everything in between.
As a kid I'd always be hunting down The Monster Times at horror conventions (alas, I wasn't around when it was being published in 1972).

Can you take us through the typical process of putting together an issue of Shadowland?

Putting together a typical issue of Shadowland begins with figuring out which articles will be included, their respective length, and then making sure that there will be enough pages to accommodate each one. Sometimes an article doesn't arrive on time, falls through at the last minute, or is postponed for whatever reason, which means quickly deciding on a replacement piece. Fortunately, I have no shortage of yet-to-be published articles on hand.

Once a decent number of the articles are decided on, I speak with Shadowland's cover artist – the immensely talented Dwayne Pinkney – about which ones he's interested in taking on for the front and back covers.
Issue #3

Next comes the task of designing the layout, followed by a final proofreading of the finished files. And then said files are sent off to the printer. And by that point, the next issue is already in the works. By the time issue #9 is on the shelves, I'll already be well underway working on issue #10 – and maybe even parts of #11. As of now, I'm already compiling content three issues ahead.

There seems to be a cycle that films (especially in the horror genre) follow.  Each decade, there seems to be a main theme.  For example, the 50's monster boom, the 80's slasher flicks, the 70's obsession with the devil and of course the first decade of the new millennium was the decade of torture porn.  Where do you see this decade going?

I think the theme will be more ambiguous this decade than previous ones. There's just so much content being turned out that I don't see us going into an all-inclusive theme of monsters, slashers or occult like the '50s - '80s. If I had to bet, I'd say that this decade we're going to see an overarching 'loss of control' theme play out across the genres, particularly in the fields of horror and sci-fi. The internet age has given society a virtual playground at our fingertips, and yet it's often a rift for dividing people as much as it connects them. While Facebook my be an outlet to catch-up with friends, check any message board and you'll have people at each others throats, whether it be over politics or favorite ice cream flavor, the topic is seemingly irrelevant. Yet, the internet exists on an entirely virtual arena, built and maintained on data collecting servers – servers that are out of the public's control. Not to mention that the internet, like television, is subject to media manipulation on so many levels. This coincides with the always reliable 'distrust of government' – which is nothing new, but recent security concerns over how our government 'watches' and 'listens' to us will no doubt fuel public fears and distrust. And of course, there's a disconnect between parents and children (something else that's nothing new), but now kids and teenagers are constantly 'plugged in' to countless online enabled devices ranging from their game consoles to computers to cell phones, and have more avenues to conceal their activities from parents. It all amounts to loss of control to different degrees.
Issue #2

All of this will provide ample themes for future genre films over the next decade. Already look at the multitude of horror films depicting children, either in danger or the cause of danger – like Dark Skies Mama, Haunting in Connecticut 2, Last Exorcism 2, and the upcoming Carrie remake. An outpouring of recent ghost films, along with the Evil Dead remake, seem to focus on possession – which equates to loss of control on a family/friends level. The onslaught of zombies in media like The Walking Dead, World War Z, Warm Bodies, shows not only personal loss of control (ie turning into a mindless zombie), but a much greater collapse of all societal control – which can be evidenced in the new wave of apocalypse cinema: John Dies at the End, the upcoming fourth Mad Max film, all the way to comedies like This is the End. As such, I see many more genre films adopting a far bleaker, grittier tone, for better or worse. That sense of 'realism' is even permeating the superhero genre with some of the darkest Batman films to be released, not to mention the recent Superman film, and focusing more on Iron Man's faults more than his heroics.
What direction would you like to see genre films go?

Issue #1
I would like to see genre films start to take far more risks and be developed with original storylines not based on prior films, novels, television shows, comics, video games, etc. Studios are hungry for profits but they're afraid to step out of established boundaries and, therefore, they play it safe. And it's hard to blame them, when it's not unheard of to spend $275 million on a single film. So remakes, reboots, sequels, and prequels have become commonplace. Don't get me wrong, some remakes have proven to be exceptionally good – and likewise, some sequels outperform their predecessors. But, in ten years, what will they do, start remaking the remakes or rebooting the successful franchises, like they did with the Amazing Spider-Man film? Unfortunately, we're on a path that will give us no new, innovative properties like Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Friday the 13th, Mad Max, etc...all things that were not based on established comics, novels, video games, prior to their development.

What's your favorite film?

Most difficult question to answer, ever. It's a tough call, I can easily name favorite trilogy (Mad Max), favorite franchise (Toho's Godzilla series), but single favorite movie is one heck of a challenge. I'd have to go with an animated one – Transformers: The Movie (1986). Might sound like an odd choice, but it's a film I never get tired of watching. I'd say its appeal is partially nostalgia-based, but I also genuinely feel that it's a remarkably well done film in terms of story, voice-acting, soundtrack, and writing. Also, in an age where the average film drags on past the two-hour mark, it told an entertaining story in less than 90 minutes. Despite my appreciation for the animated movie, I'm not a fan of the recent live-action Transformer films.

What's your favorite movie snack?

I'll have to go with popcorn.

What scared you the most as a kid?

I was watching horror films before I could remember, so horror films never scared me. I was wisely taught at a very early age that all movies were 'make believe.' That was a concept I grasped very quickly and I never recall having a single nightmare from any horror film I ever watched. By the age of five or six I mush have already seen the majority of slasher films, particularly the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Child's Play, etc. Not to mention all the Universal Monster flicks, and everything in between. I grew up in New York City, so I got to go to the horror conventions like Fangoria and Chiller Theatre when I was very young and met Kane Hodder (Jason), and saw Doug Bradley (Pinhead) and all the rest of the then-current 'movie monsters' in person. It was always the magic of filmmaking to me, and as a kid I never understood how someone could be afraid of things that were make believe. I was also a very level-headed kid and wasn't running around the house with a butcher knife pretending I was Chucky.

Ironically, what did scare me somewhat as a kid was ED-209 from Robocop. Between that monotone voice and its jerky, clumsy movements, it succeeded in freaking me out. While I knew it was just a movie, I couldn't figure out the way they made the robot move and I knew it wasn't a guy in a suit. I must've been five or so at the time, if not even four, and I finally found a bunch of photos in Starlog of ED-209 and how the filmmakers made it work with stop-motion miniatures and life-sized motion props. I wasn't scared of him after that and wanted the Kenner-produced toy.

Do you believe in the paranormal?

People have seen some strange things, and I certainly wouldn't rule anything out. Whether it's a UFO sighting to ghosts, even bigfoot, there are countless upon countless eyewitnesses that claim to have seen some evidence of the paranormal in one form or another. Certainly, not all witnesses accounts are entirely reliable and some may be dis-proven – but even if 1% can't be solved or dismissed, that says something extraordinary. And how many witnesses never step forward with their stories? I'd imagine that many more haven't and that it would be a case similar to Marco Polo on his deathbed, when he said of his travels, “I did not tell half of what I saw, for I knew I would not be believed.”

If you had unlimited funds and unlimited access to any talent, IP's, etc in the world.  What would your dream project be?

I've actually thought about this one before, as filmmaking, in one form or another, is my genuine passion. Honestly, if I had unlimited funds, I would want to write, direct and produce a 26-episode computer-animated series based on my own plot and characters – or, alternatively, turn it into a 3D computer-animated feature film. Computer-animation has been relegated to typical Pixar fare, or films made to appeal to younger audiences, with few exceptions – one of which was the questionable Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which may have opted too much for photo realism in favor of the anime stylings of recent Final Fantasy and Resident Evil CG films. Computer-animation is a remarkable medium that has yet to be used to its full storytelling potential. While there's nothing wrong with Despicable Me 4, 5, and 6, I would like to see the format used for something truly groundbreaking in terms of visuals and story depth. The technology has evolved to the point where something remarkably different can now be achieved.

A huge thank you to Andrew for the fantastic interview!  Don't forget to check out Shadowland's website where you can order back issues and SUBSCRIBE immediately to this fantastic magazine!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Making The Impossible Possible with Ginnungagap Filmwerks!

After watching the documentary, Journey to Planet X, I was quite taken with the filmmaking magic of Eric Swain and Troy Bernier.  The shear ingenuity and heart that these two put into their films is amazing.  I knew that I had to talk to them.

I got a chance to sit down and talk with Eric and Troy as well as Andrew Brown, who has acted in both Planet X as well as the film currently in production, Temple of Joy.  We were also joined by Austin Jones, who unfortunately we lost connection with during the interview.

You guys just got back from a Filmfest in Miami. Which festival was that?

Troy: Miami is an active area when it comes to culture and the arts.  This weekend that we're going into (Fourth of July Weekend) we're going to Super Con, which is a pretty big event.  We won, two years ago with Planet X.  It's large, they get about eight to ten thousand people there.

Eric:  That's in the documentary, Journey to Planet X the Geek Film Festival.  That's actually the film festival in Super Con.

Troy:  Yeah, I don't know if they are having the festival this year, I haven't heard anything, but it's a great place to show films.  Mike Broder is the guy that runs Super Con.  Prior to that, I myself was attending the African American International Black Film Festival, which had some amazing films.  Eric and I have been to some outstanding festivals these past two years, some of the best festivals in the country, and after going to the ABFF at the Ritz Carlton, which is not a bad hotel, I was impressed and would say they are at the top.  They know what they're doing and they know how to take care of everyone there.  It was awesome, with some wonderful films and wonderful shorts.  It was a lot of fun.

Tell me about the genesis of Ginnungagap Filmwerks.

Troy:  Eric, how do you figure it's been?

Eric:  The name of the company came about after 2004 or 2005, because we had been playing around with other names.  We had our 2001 medieval drama, A Brief Spell, I had called it Swain Films, after my own last name.  Ginnungagap came about in the mid 2000's and came to represent the empty space before we create a movie.  We tried experimenting with a few others but that's the one that seemed to fit.

How did Plaent X come about?

Troy:  Planet X and several other films that we have created plus a few more that are in the pipe is from a time that I call "The Great Leap Forward".  Eric and I would always hang out and we were having a real good time and we started coming up with these stories and we had ideas of what we could do.  This was shortly after A Brief Spell and before we made Longevity.  Planet X is a prequel to the main story, which is Planet X Part III, which is about Dr Von Hooven fifty years later.  That's already been written.  That was written before we even started Planet X and the latest film that we're producing right now, Temple of Joy.  These all came about in 2003/2004.

Eric:  When we started writing Planet X, it was actually in two pieces.  The concept of traveling to the outer solar system to one of Pluto's moons and finding a special element....the research team and the drama with the government.  The concept of introducing pirates, The Oorts in the outer solar system, the rebellion, that was kind of the other piece and that came a little bit later.  Of course both of these parts fit together when writing what we call Part III, which is not actually what we filmed.  It became a lengthy movie and we decided to do a prequel to that.  The main characted Von Hooven is young and starting out.

How long did it take to make Planet X?

Troy:  Officially, eighteen months.  Pre-production itself took about a year, because we built a lot of things, we had to figure out how to do it, had to figure out where to get the parts from.  We went to junkyards, stripped things, you know to get what we needed...assemble them...

Eric:  Some of those pieces we're still using!

Troy:  Yes, that's true!  It's amazing how you can recycle some of this stuff!

There is a lot of ingenuity that went into this movie, such as using the cold locker to convey the coldness of space, especially since you guys are in Florida where it's hard to reproduce chilly temperatures!  Do you have any fun stories about the making of Planet X that maybe didn't make it into the documentary?

Eric:  Oh yes...they did show a lot of that in the documentary how we had to wait and wait to turn off the power and the lights and all that stuff, so that was all part of the drama.  Of course the biggest drama occurs when we weren't shooting in the studio.  The studio and green room is a big more of a controlled environment.  When we went out to the sand pile early in the morning...just getting everybody there was a scary proposition, getting the vehicle there, getting everybody on top.  We were kinda shooting on a plateau and getting the vehicle up there was something that when we got there we thought we might not be able to do.  Not to mention the sunlight was changing rapidly, it actually started to get brighter than we wanted it to.
The space helmets we made, we put microphones inside the helmets to pick up the actors and the sound picked up very well on film, but the two actors couldn't hear each other, they had no direct connection between them, so they basically had to read lips.

Troy:  The guys that did Journey to Planet X, Josh Koury and Myles Kane, they have over two hundred and fifty hours worth of footage from making the documentary and there are scenes that are probably out of this world.  I'm waiting for a Blu Ray push for all the content, the many more interviews we had with so many other people.  They followed me to New York, where I was doing an event. There were several interviews with people in the area who were involved with my upbringing and some of the bizarre things that would take place, just in the fact that were trying to make this film as good as possible and the hurdles and challenges that we faced.  That's why it took so long....just to put all the pieces together.  Because it's original.  Almost every component in that film is made from scratch.  You know, you bust up something and just take tiny pieces of it to make things.  So the film is 100% original, even down to the music.  Scott Opielia is the lead vocalist for a group called Sigmond Floyd, they're a Pink Floyd cover band, and we contracted him to make some original music for us.  He doesn't play keyboards, but he pushed his tunes through his guitar, which is plugged into synthesizers and produced an amazing soundtrack for us, which was awesome.  We were fortunate enough that we knew a guy, Maris Moon, that we met online who made a really cool song that we used in Longevity.  He was so cool and he said he had more music if wanted to use that too.  Since we were making everything official and above the table, we created a soundtrack to put on iTunes.  Rita Ritkin, who also an actress in Planet X also licensed one of her songs for us to include on the soundtrack.  SO the film is completely original, we own everything and we're using this model for the rest of our pieces.

You're new film is called Temple of Joy, tell us a bit about that.

Eric:  This is an idea that we had earlier.  As I said we had a bunch of ideas in the mid 2000's.  I wanted to do a time travel story, I've always loved Time Travel...I love H.G. Well's The Time Machine among many others.  I knew that we were going to have to work on many details, as time travel has many details that have to fit together.  The whole idea of having a futuristic story with people in the future mastering time travel and they have to patrol the time line.  It's been done before but we like to put our own twist on it.  We threw around a couple of ideas and this one came out on top.

What equipment to you use for your shoots?

Eric:  Well most important is the camera which is a Panasonic AG-150, which is a three chip HD camera that does really exceptional in low light.  We also use the green screen a lot, which allows us to super impose and composite pictures together and make backgrounds behind the characters.  It's much easier to do in high def because you get more definition on the edges of objects, etc.  Of course there's the microphones and lavalieres.  Sound is very important.
When it comes to editing, I use Adobe Premier, which has been working really great for me.  I've heard more people are going to.  For special effects, I use Adobe After effects which I've been using since A Brief Spell.  I can do basic special effects, compositing, basic shapes, explosions....no 3D modelling like space ships and such, but useful for most other stuff.

What is the casting process like?

Andrew:  Laurel, a friend of mine who was on Planet X said, "Hey Troy is casting for this awesome Sci-Fi movie" and I said "Sci-Fi Movie?  Sounds great!"  So Laurel hooked me up with Troy and I got to audition and I became Jack Wellaby, Planetary Geologist - Please don't take me for granite!  I got to do a great scene piloting a shuttle-craft, walked down a hallway that looked like it was on another planet, got to shoot a music video for the films and we shot at a quarry that looked like we were on another planet, which was awesome.  When we were doing Temple of Joy, Troy said "We want to get alumni from Planet X" so we got to audition first.  I think the best equipment he has is a time travel device that allows us to do the movie.  We go back in time and forward in time...plus we can redo a scene if it didn't come out quite right!  It's great!

Sounds great, when is Temple of Joy coming out?

Troy:  That's a tough one because we have two major challenges that we're dealing with. One is that we make a bad habit of shooting when it's hot and space suits and heat don't go well together.  Also it's very wet this time of year and that's going to hamper our progress as well.

Eric:  We started shooting in October, so we did get to shoot some of the cooler part of the year.

Troy:  Yeah, we actually were in Spain, in Cardona, north of Barcelona up in the mountains.  The Cardona Castle is this amazing, massive fortress that was a significant piece of history during these campaigns of the Moors trying to invade Europe and that was the one place they were being held back.  We shot there, we were there while during the screening of Journey to  Planet X at Stiges.  So we took the time to go up into the mountains and shoot some scenes, which are actually very important scenes in Temple of Joy.  We did the same when we were in Sedona Film Festival, we shot several scenes in the deserts of Arizona.

Eric:  This is really the first film where we're making use of different locations, other than just shooting around the local areas.  Being lucky enough to be at these film festivals we're making use of them as best we can.

Any last words you'd like to provide?

Eric:  We appreciate the interest in our films, we kind of entered into this not as a chosen profession, but it's something we've found we enjoy immensley.  Being creative is a great counterbalance to the analytical nature of our jobs.  It keeps us in balance.

Troy:  It's great for the mind!  Definitely check back because in six months we'll have much more to show and tell! Don't forget folks, check out http://ginnungagapfilmwerks.com/!

Keep it tuned here for more info from the fine lads at Ginnungagap Filmwerks!

Don't forget to watch Planet X at Vimeo.com or at it's official website:  http://planetxthemovie.com !

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Godzilla vs Monster Zero - Planet X....More Like Planet Judas!

Godzilla vs Monster Zero
Directed by  Ishirô Honda
Written by Shin'ichi Sekizawa
 Starring  Nick Adams, Akira Takarada & Jun Tazaki

G -  Runtime 96 MInutes / 74 Minutes (Reissue)

Tag Lines
None that I could find.

Alternate Titles:
 Kaijû daisensô (The Great Monster War)  -  Japan
Battle of the Astros
A Guerra dos Monstros (War of the Monsters)  -  Brazil
Befehl aus dem Dunkel  (Command From the Darkness) -  Germany
Los monstruos invaden la Tierra  (Monsters Invade Earth)  -  Spain
Avaruushirviöt hyökkäävät  (Space Monsters are Attacking)  -  Finland
Invasion planète X  (Invasion of Planet X) -  France
Αστρο-τερατα επιτίθενται  (Astro Monsters Attack)   -  Greece
Μυστική βάσις AZ3, επιχειρησεις Κεραυνος  (Secret Base AZ3, Business Thuderbolt)  - Greece
L'invasione degli astromostri  (Invasion of the Astro-Monster)  -  Italy
Inwazja potworów  (Monster Invasion) -  Poland
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero - USA
Invasion of Astro-Monster - USA
Monster Zero - USA

"We're going to fight to the last man, baby!"
                                                     - Astronaut Glenn

Godzilla vs Monster Zero is how I grew up knowing this movie.  As you can see by the myriad titles above, it goes by many different names, most hilariously the Greek title, Secret Base AZ3, Business Thunderbolt)  Granted that's a Google Translator translation, so I'm sure that it actually means something slightly more coherent, but still, that's just wacky!

Humans discover that there is a secret planet orbiting just behind Jupiter and the World Space Organization (I think that's what it's called) sends out a manned mission to explore the planet.  Apparently they don't believe in probes.  Anyway, our two heroes, Astronauts Glenn Amer and K. Fuji land on Planet X and almost immediately they get the feeling they're not alone.

Nothing like getting your spaceship jacked as soon as you land on a new planet!

Apparently the aliens on Planet X new that the 80's fashions were gonna be big!  Look at them shades!

Turns out they're right.  The aliens, lead by the mysterious Controller of Planet X take our heroes underground and plead for their help.  Turns out that King Ghidora is wrecking havoc on Planet X and the aliens want to "Borrow" Godzill and Rodan to combat him.  The aliens refer to Godzilla as Monster Zero-One and Rodan as Monster Zero-Two.  In exchange, they will provide us with a cure for all disease.  Seems like a fair trade.

The Earth agrees to this offer and the aliens arrive in their glowing UFO's and pull Godzilla and Rodan (still in hibernation) into force fields and then transport them through space to Planet X.  Once there, they are woken up on Planet X, they have a throw down with Ghidorah and win the battle.  This is where we are treated to Godzilla's hilarious victory dance.  This is definitely the turning point between Godzilla being a horrifying allegory for nuclear war and a children's matinee idol.

Now THAT'S an alien abduction!!!!!!!!

Well, as it turns out, the aliens take Godzill and Rodan into their control and threaten the Earth with mass destruction if the people of the world don't agree to be Planet X's slaves.  Being the strong willed beings we are, we don't bow down to tyrants, even if they are in control of three powerful kaiju!  We come up with a way to counter the alien's mind control of Monsters Zero-One and Zero-Two.  Once they're free of alien control, they turn on their alien captors and Monster Zero for a final Battle Royale.

Rodan swoops in, dodging Ghidora's lightening attack.....

It's the Kaiju version of Tango and Cash!

Midnight Cinephile Tally:

Death Toll:  Well, it's a kaiju flick which means that there's cities getting stomped, so yeah, there's quite a bit of death I'm sure....but that's all implied off screen.  On screen deaths would total a whopping ONE!

Nude-O-Meter:  No sir.....kiddie stuff, remember?

Monster Party:  Ooooh man.  You get three monsters.  You get Godzilla, Rodan and the "Demon of Our Galaxy!", King Ghidorah!

Final Thoughts
There are some people who dislike the "Silly Zilla" so to speak and don't like his little victory dance.  As a matter of fact, there were several key people on the production that were against it initially.  There are some who prefer the more light-hearted, goofy goofy monster stomping fun of the 70's.  Then there are people like me who will watch them all and love them all.  Sure some are better than others....and Godzilla vs. Monster Zero is definitely one of the better ones!

Final Rating
Three out of Five Pizza Rolls!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars - Board Game

Godzilla:  Kaiju World Wars
2 - 4 Players
Playtime:  Approximately 60 Minutes
Designed by Richard H Berg
Published by The Toy Vault

Have you always wanted to be Godzilla?  Admit it, you used to pretend that you were a giant monster and you would stomp around your yard with Lego buildings and pretending that various plants were actually huge trees.  Maybe you still do!  I'll admit it, every time I look down at an ant or swat at a flying insect, I can't help but think that to THEM, I'm huge....to them....I AM a Kaiju!  Perhaps once or twice I've let out a small roar as I swatted a fly away and laughed with child like glee.  I'm a giant man child though.....

But what if there was a more socially acceptable way to pretend that you're a giant monster, without people staring at you and sheltering their children from you as you pass by?  Got you covered!  Simply play Godzilla:  Kaiju World War!

Here's what comes in the box

This is not the first Kaiju or Godzilla themed board game by far, but it seem to be the most immersive and the most involved.  Once again, I have delved into the endlessly amazing and vast information available at Board Game Geek to bring you a look at this game.  As usual all pictures have been taken from Board Game Geek.

Monster Cards

MechaGodzilla Ability Card

A nice look at the Godzilla model (image belongs to Fred Hartig, BGG)

Kaiju Fight!  (image belongs to Fred Hartig, BGG)

I have not been able to play this game yet, but it does look like a ton of fun.  I love the theme and I love the look of the components!  If it looks like fun, find a copy, find some friends and have yourself a Kaiju Throwdown!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Godzilla for the Commodore 64

Godzilla reared his head a few times on the Commodore 64!  Probably the most well known of his early 8-Bit appearances was in Epyx's much loved The Movie Monster Game (which I covered waaaay back when this was still the Wizard of Vestron blog).  However, his first appearance on the C64 was a fun little time waster called simply:  Godzilla!

The start of a new game

Back in the 80's, if you were an ambitious person you could buy books that contained software and games that you could actually program yourself.  Godzilla was in one such book (though I don't remember the name of it) and it also made it's way around via disk swapping of C64 enthusiasts.

The game itself is quite simple and plays much like a boardgame.  Godzilla will move around a grid, some representing the ocean and some representing Japan.  It's up to you to send in troops, ships, planes, missiles and even an atomic bomb to stop him.  You must try to keep him from reaching Tokyo.  If he reaches and destroys Tokyo, it's game over.

First attack on Godzilla and I've lost 5 ships and a bunch of troops!

You have the option to either attack Godzilla (you will be told how many ships, planes, troops, etc you have in a given square on the grid) or to move your forces closer to Godzilla.  This can be tricky though, because he moves quickly and he moves ALOT!

There is no real animation in the game, Godzilla will move from sqaure to square and occasionally a square will flash red when he's on a rampage.  Other than that, it's all up to your imagination.  There are some fun sound effects when you attack Big G, and you'll get a quick little funeral death march ditty if he wins.

Aw jeez, this isn't good.  Godzilla makes landfall in Tokyo and the death toll is high.  I've got to move quickly.

It may not sound like much, but Godzilla can be surprisingly addictive in the "I'm just going to give it one more go before bed" kind of way.  It's not always easy to bring the big guy down and I truly think it's down to the roll of the dice, so to speak.

.....and over twenty million dead.  I am probably the worst JSDF commander ever.  FAIL!

It's pretty easy these days to get a hold of games such as this.  Head on over to Lemon 64, go to the games section and you should be able to find a link to download the game (you will need a Commodore 64 emulator, of course....I suggest WinVice)

Though it looks like it's malfunctioning.....the game is really loading....

Pacific Rim - Jaeger-Bombing Kaiju Back To Their Own Dimension!

Pacific Rim
PG-13  132 Minutes
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Written by Guillermo del Toro & Travis Beacham
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi & Idris Elba

Tag Lines:
Go Big or Go Extinct.
To Fight Monsters, We Created Monsters.

Alternate Titles:
Titanes del Pacífico (Pacific Titans)  - Argentina
Огненият пръстен (Ring of Fire)  -  Bulgaria
Titanes del Pacífico (Pacific Titans)    -  Bolivia
Círculo de Fogo  (Circle of Fire)  -  Brazil
Titanes del Pacífico  (Pacific Titans)  -  Chile
Útok na Zemi  (Attack on Earth)  -  Czech Republic
Vaikse ookeani võitlus  (Pacific Battle)  -  Estonia
Hyökkäys Maahan  (Attack to Earth) -  Finland
Το δαχτυλιδι της φωτιας  (The Ring of Fire)  -  Greece
Bitka za Pacifik  (Battle for the Pacific)  -  Croatia
Tűzgyűrű  (Ring of Fire) -  Hungary
Ugnies ziedas  (Ring of Fire)  -  Lithuania
Titanes del Pacífico  (Pacific Titans)  -  Mexico
Titanes del Pacífico  (Pacific Titans)  -  Peru
Batalha do Pacífico  (Battle of the Pacific)  -  Portugal
Cercul de foc  (Ring of Fire)  -  Romania
Bitka za Pacifik  (Battle for the Pacific) -  Serbia
Pacifički prsten  (Pacific Ring)  -  Serbia

Pasifik Savasi  (Pacific War)  -  Turkey

"Today we are CANCELLING the Apocalypse!"
                                                           - Stacker Pentecost

If you ask anyone close to me, especially my wife, what I'm really like, they'll likely tell you that I'm just a big old man child.  I love monster movies, video & board games and I have the sense of humor of a 5 year old.  I think farts of funny, so sue me.  Having said that, there are certain things in this world that make me full on revert back to childhood and squee with delight like a kid on Christmas morning.  One of those things is Kaiju and giant robots.  I've been watching Godzilla movies since I can remember.  I LIVED for Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons and when I got a little old and TNT started to play Godzilla marathons all night on MonsterVision, cable television was at it's penultimate for me.  Weekday mornings before school were filled with Voltron and Gigantor.  After school it was Transformers and GoBots.  I couldn't get enough.

"That's great Matt, you love this stuff!  Get on with the review already!"

Okay, okay, my bad.  

Pacific Rim is quite simply the best giant robot vs Kaiju film made in the last twenty five years.  End Review.

"Seriously?  That's the whole review, huh?"

More, eh?  Well, okay, if you insist.  

I watched the 3D version (naturally...I'm a 3D junkie) and I have to say that some of the visuals were absolutely stunning in the third dimension.  I'm sure it's equally fantastic in two.  We've certainly come a long way from the toy tanks and rubber monster suits of the 20th century....not that there was anything wrong with those, mind you.

So where do Kaiju come from?  In this case, they start to come through a rift that forms in the Pacific Ocean.  Apparently on the other side of this rift is another dimension.  After getting it's ass handed to itself a few times, humanity creates the Jaeger Program, setting aside the worlds differences to combat the new threat.  A Jaeger (which is derived from the Germon word for hunter) is a gigantic robot that is controlled by two pilots who are linked together mentally in what's called a Neural Handshake.  The interface to control a Jaeger is too much for one person to handle, so each pilot controls one half of the robot....being linked mentally they are able to act in tandem as a single unit.

Pacific Rim hit all the right notes for me and there was a lot of fun to be had with the movie.  It wears it's love of Kaiju films on it's sleeve and it's very readily apparent, especially in some of the creature designs, especially one codenamed Knifehead, who is an homage to Guiron from the 1969 classic Gamera vs Guiron (aka Attack of the Monsters).  The acting is a bit wonky in places, but I thought that actually helped keep the vibe of the movie fun.  No one should go looking for dramatic depth, this is a B monster movie on a triple A budget.  The dialog is epic and cheesy and a hell of a lot of fun and the two-plus hour run time seemed to go by in a blink.

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  A whole lot of people die.  

Nude-O-Meter:  That'd be a zero, friend.

Monsters Party:  Hell yeah there are monsters!  Kaiju a plenty!

Final Thoughts
For me, it simply doesn't get much better than this.  Giant robots beat the snot out of giant monsters by sea, on land and even in the air.  This is everything I used to imagine a Godzilla film could be when I was a kid.  Now, we just have to wait a year to see what Godzilla 2014 has to offer!  LONG LIVE KAIJU!

Final Rating

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kaiju Week!!!!!!!!

Alien week was fairly successful, I think.  By successful, I mean I had fun doing it, and I suppose that's all that really matters!  After watching Pacific Rim last night my love of all things Kaiju has completely been revitalized, so therefore this week is now KAIJU WEEK!  Huzzah!

The games that I reviewed seemed to be a hit, so I am going to make gaming a part of Midnight Cinephile!  So you can look forward to several Kaiju themed games to be featured here this week, as well as the usual smorgastborg of stuff.  If there is something that you would like to see featured, send me an e-mail or check me out on Facebook or Twitter!

Let the carnage begin!!!!!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Twilight Zone - The Invaders

Season 2's The Invaders is one of those episodes that I always manage to catch when the Syfy Channel puts on their annual Twilight Zone marathons.  Somehow, someway, the fates conspire and when I turn on my television, this is usually one of the first episodes.  Weird, huh?

The Invaders tells the story of a lonely woman in her rustic farmhouse...no electricity, no modern conveniences, who is terrorized by miniature aliens one night.  This episode is particularly impressive because it is almost completely dialog free, save for Rod Serling's opening and closing monologues and about 5 lines at the very end.  Other than those instances, the story is propelled forward and the tension mounts as the tiny invaders infiltrate the house.

Interestingly, the Invaders themselves are less than terrifying, looking like toy wind up robots.  It's the way in which they seem to pop up all over the house in the least expected places while the poor woman defends herself as best she can.  Of course the episode wraps with a surprise twist which I won't spoil here.

Home, home on the range......

Pay no attention the strange man outside your window....

Something has landed on the roof....

Of course she's going to take a look.....

Huh!  A miniature UFO....ya weren't expecting THAT, were ya?

Right from the start the li'l bastards start their assault.

These aliens are quite portly......

After getting shot with mini lasers, she checks out her welts....

The whole thing kinda has a Trilogy of Terror Zuni Fetish Doll feel.....but with aliens

Uh-oh.....never good when a knife is missing....

Another attempt to get in through a kitchen window....

Found the knife!  Ma'am?  I found yer......POKE!

One of the Invaders fires off his mini laser.....

After catching one in a sheet, he gets beaten Friday the 13th Part VII style!

Then put in a wooden box and toss on the fire.  Ouch!

The surviving Invader makes a break for his UFO.....

The woman BREAKS his UFO.....with an axe!  That's hardcore!

Hope you got Triple A, dude.

This is brings us up to the "twist" which I'm not going to spoil here....it's not a jaw dropping twist, but it does make you stop and think about your place in the universe.....I also wonder if they were thinking about this episode when they created some of the aspects of Men in Black!