Friday, July 30, 2010

Fake Monster Shark Sighting in Cardiff, CA

Now this is creative:

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

An often-abused statue of a surfer on Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas was turned into a Jaws-dropping artwork early Saturday morning by a group of unknown pranksters. Crowds of gawkers and picture takers nearly created a traffic hazard, as they gathered around the bronze statue, which, sometime in the early morning hours, was entombed inside a 15-foot tall papier-mâché version of a great white shark’s massive snout. ... A large seam along the shark’s jaw indicates it was transported in two large pieces and then stuck together with a foamlike sealer that also made it look like the beast was bursting through the surface of the ocean.

The statue, called "Magic Carpet Ride," was made by artist Matthew Antichevich and erected in 2007 at a cost of $120,000 paid for mostly by the Cardiff Botanical Society. It was said to be the first to honor surfing in San Diego County. But the reaction from local surfers was cool at best, and heated at worst, as they found the surfer to fall short of the macho image they thought their sport should project.

Ever since, the statue, known locally — and derisively — by local surfers as the “Cardiff Kook,” has routinely been dressed in different costumes by snarky locals. At various times, the statue of a young male surfer has been adorned with a ballerina’s tutu and luche libre wrestler’s mask, a woman’s bikini and other costumes, most recently a tennis outfit with racket. But the shark attack took pranks on the statue to a new level.
Click here to learn about the fake shark's creator. Click here to see pictures of other pranks involving the Cardiff Kook. From what I've read, the shark was removed from the Cardiff Kook statue earlier this week.

Since this prank is essentially a three-dimensional rendition of a poster for Jaws or a Jaws rip-off, I'm going to use this opportunity to indulge my love of horror movie art by posting pics of posters and VHS box covers which depict sharks, piranhas, and other hungry denizens of the deep either eating or about to eat helpless humans. Click below for the all-you-can-eat bloody pulp art buffet.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Hunt Continues: A Spoiler-Free Review of Predators

My schedule finally cleared up so I could see Predators, a sequel to the 1987 movie which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and was directed by John McTiernan. When I first heard that Predators producer Robert Rodriguez intended this sequel to be a direct continuation of the first Predator while ignoring the events in Predator 2 and the Alien vs. Predator movies, I was somewhat concerned that Predators would turn out to be something like Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. For me, it seemed like Singer in Superman Returns was so determined to pay tribute to Richard Donner and the late Christopher Reeve's contributions to the Superman movies from the 70s and 80s that he forgot to make a good Superman movie, so I was worried that Rodriguez and director Nimród Antal were going to end up making a sequel that's too reverent of the first Predator to be a good Predator movie. Thankfully, I was wrong. Not only is Predators the best Predator sequel to date, but I also found it to be a better film than Predator itself. Read on....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Live from DC: The Horrors of Online Dating

When people think of where to see a fun, over-the-top gore-a-thon, they usually think of mediums such as films, comic books, and (with increasing frequency) video games. Sadly, the opportunities for seeing such colorful entertainment in live performances for the masses are rare--which is all the more reason why the Molotov Theatre Group in the Washington DC area is a true bloodlust blessing for us gore hounds on the east coast.

As part of Washington DC's Capital Fringe Festival, the Molotov Theatre Group are performing "The Horrors of Online Dating" until July 31 at the Playbill Café. This world-premier musical by Shawn Northrip details the dating adventures of Judy (played by Jenny Donovan), a pill-popping psychopath whose favorite pastime is slicing and dicing the many men she meets via the Internet. Cheering her on in her gruesome activities are her hallucinatory friends, three of which are portrayed by puppets (yes, puppets). Judy eventually meets a self-help guru who she believes can make her "uncrazy". Of course, for someone as disturbed as Judy, the path to uncraziness is not painless one. Especially for the guru....

As director Kevin Finkelstein puts it, "The Horrors of Online Dating creates a world seen through the eyes of a schizophrenic serial killer. Come for the violent deaths and buckets of blood, but stay for the possessed laptop, singing pill bottles and cat with enormous balls. The Horrors of Online Dating will redefine your concept of musicals, puppets, and general bad taste."

So if you've got a strong stomach and you're itching for a musical, gory live show that includes puppets, buy your tickets now for "The Horrors of Online Dating". (If you really want to get into the thick of things, be sure to sit near the front--you'll be given protective plastic bags to shield yourself from the projectile splatter. Yummy!) Be sure to check out the Molotov Theatre Group's site for more information about their current production, their past performances and a brief overview of the theatrical tradition of "Grand Guignol", a form of performance art that's ideal for the discerning degenerate. Click below to see more pictures of Judy, her victims and her imaginary puppet friends, courtesy of Paul Gillis for the Capital Fringe Festival.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Exclusive Look at Comic-Con 2010 Exclusives

As any good geek knows, Comic-Con 2010 is right around the corner, from July 22 to the 25 at the San Diego Convention Center. Unfortunately, while I may be a good geek, I'm also a very poor and very busy geek so I won't be going. However, if I had oodles of money to burn, not only would I be at the con but I would also be snatching up quite a few of the exclusives that will be available at this event. Read on after the jump for my top picks, in alphabetical order by franchise.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hopper's Horror: Night Tide

I know I'm a bit late here due to technical difficulties, but I wanted to do this post ever since I first heard about Dennis Hopper's passing last May. To say that Hopper's five-decade long career was diverse and unusual is an understatement: He had done both television and film, he's been in a lion's share of classic and cult classic films, and he also dabbled in writing and directing films. He even provided his vocal talents to video games such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and the Wii's creepy-crawly Deadly Creatures. All of that aside, I wanted to take the time to review one of Hopper's early, overlooked films: Night Tide (1961). Read on …

Friday, July 9, 2010

Art Update: Ray Harryhausen, Animal/Human Hybrids, and a Really, Really Huge Eyeball

For those of you fantasy/horror/sci-fi geeks who are planning a vacation across the pond in the United Kingdom, you need to pay a visit to the London Film Museum. The museum is hosting "Myths and Legends", an exhibition of Harryhausen's work which includes his original models and design sketches. The exhibit opened on June 29th (Harryhausen's birthday—he turned 90 this year) and it will be at the London Film Museum for one year until it is permanently relocated to the National Media Museum in Bradford, UK.

Over here in the states, the Irvine Contemporary art gallery in Washington DC (the gallery which previously exhibited the delightfully grotesque work of Aaron Johnson) is hosting the work of an artist named Gaia in an exhibit entitled "Gaia: The Urban Romantic". The exhibit will be on display until July 24.

A recurring theme in Gaia's work is the depiction of human bodies with animal heads, with some of the human/animal hybrids cradling decapitated human heads in their arms. According to the gallery's site, "Drawing on his new and evolving body of imagery depicting human and animal figures, Gaia's work reflects on the ancient themes of animal and human sympathies, but now in the context of the city and the human built environment. ... Gaia employs recognizable animal figures to remind us of lost human connections to nature and the environment. He constructs an image of a reversal of the 'natural order' where animals intervene as protectors and avatars for a new awareness of the human condition in the natural world." No word on whether the display includes a fly-headed human holding in its hands a human-headed fly.

Finally, there's a 30-foot tall giant eye on display at Pritzker Park in Chicago, IL:

If eyes are windows to the soul, then this eyeball provides a window large enough to swallow souls by the thousands. The eyeball will be on display until October 31. It was created by artist Tony Tasset, who also did a blob monster sculpture, a very suggestive and somewhat gory grotto, and the most ghoulish chandelier I've ever seen, as if it were taken straight from one of the the "bone chapels" at various locations across Europe. The eye is part of a Tasset installation coordinated by the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA). Cue the Hall and Oats karaoke:

Gi-ant eye
It's watching you
It sees your every move
Gi-ant eye
It's watching you
Gi-ant eye
It's watching you, watching you, watching you

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let's Hear It for The Toys! A Review of Toy Story 3

I got to see Toy Story 3 in 3-D the other day. Naturally, Pixar worked its storytelling magic once again and hit this CGI cartoon movie out of the park, with a witty script, excellent animation, and top-notch voice talent. (In particular, Michael Keaton's turn as a flamboyant, conflicted Ken doll is a truly inspired performance.) The 3-D quality is also worthy of note, but the narrative doesn't suffer in the slightest if you only see it in 2-D.

This sequel scored very high over on Rotten Tomatoes, so there's little point in me repeating what was already said by many other critics about the dramatic and comedic strengths of the movie here. However, I will say this: Over the course of three movies, the Toy Story franchise has touched on just about everything that can happen to a toy in today's culture. Toys can be playthings that enable imaginative fantasies; targets of brutal abuse; collector's items worth much, much more than their original selling price; heirlooms for the next generation; artifacts that evoke memories from a distant past; charitable donations for other children; or relics destined for the trash heap. Sure, the central plot device of the Toy Story movies—that toys have deep, complex personal identities that they express when no one else is looking—may seem like a cute way of anthropomorphizing inanimate objects for the sake of a whimsical fairy tale. Yet given the wide number of ways that toys can be valued or rejected, cherished or destroyed, it makes sense to me that people can buy into the idea that these items have unique psychologies of their own, even if nary a single thought passes through their plastic heads.

I've heard it argued before that when children engage in play, especially with toys, they are emulating and preparing themselves for what they think adult life is. Yet I think that the popularity of the Toy Story films shows that toys leave a lasting impression on the collective adult mind, even long after we have convinced ourselves that we have outgrown them. In their own ways, toys introduce us to the future roles and worlds we are destined to inhabit, and leave us looking back at them in a mix of fondness, longing, and bewilderment when our adult destinations don't turn out to be what we expected. As Pixar has discovered, that's exactly why toys make great source material for both absurd comedy and existential drama.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jaws: The Revenge Production Analysis, Part 3: Sequel Envy

Sigourney Weaver’s return to the role of Ellen Ripley in Aliens, James Cameron’s sequel to Alien, proved to be a big hit in the summer of 1986. Not only was Aliens one of the top ten highest-grossing films of 1986, it was also the only one of the ten that was a monster movie sequel which featured a female lead. It was such a hit that Weaver scored an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Weaver’s first nomination). It’s not a matter of whether Weaver deserved the nomination or not; what the nomination did prove is that an actress could earn significant critical acclaim from within the industry for reprising a role in a monster movie sequel—particularly a female, maternally-oriented role such as Ellen Ripley.

While the profitability of a monster movie sequel like Aliens probably spurred the quick production of Jaws: The Revenge, I don’t think that Revenge was intended to be a rip-off of Aliens in terms of plot. (That said, the beeping homing beacon that’s attached to the shark in Revenge serves as similar dramatic purpose as the beeping motion detectors in Aliens.) Yet because the aforementioned trade announcement in Part 2 of this analysis places the completion of the initial script as late as December of 1986 and a production deadline of July 1987, it appears to me that Sid Sheinberg pushed hard for an Ellen Brody-centric Jaws sequel after industry buzz began to build around Weaver’s performance in Aliens and the possibility of an Oscar nomination. If anything, it clearly convinced Sheinberg and his wife Lorraine Gary that a Jaws movie could be made featuring a “violent episode of woman versus nature” as its climax while Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Amity Island, and even the titular shark itself were relegated to secondary roles. Read on ...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jaws: The Revenge Production Analysis, Part 2: This Time, It's Marital

Jaws: The Revenge was written and filmed with Ellen Brody as the main character. Ellen is the wife of Amity Police Chief Martin Brody and is played by Lorraine Gary. Gary’s acting career largely consisted of secondary roles in TV shows and movies; Jaws and Jaws 2, the other Jaws films which featured Ellen, were no exception. Prior to Jaws: The Revenge in 1987, her last big screen role was 1941 (1979), Steven Spielberg’s first major flop. (Consider the many layers of irony here: Spielberg first gave Gary a blockbuster film like Jaws on her resume, and then he gave her a blockbuster flop less than five years later—her last role before Revenge, a sequel to a Spielberg film, which finally killed both the Jaws franchise and her acting career.)

Jaws: The Revenge was Gary’s only lead role in a movie—which, in a Jaws movie, means that her character will be the one who kills the monster shark by the film’s conclusion. Yet even within the monster-centric narrative logic of the Jaws universe, such an act is highly improbable; never in the previous Jaws movies is it indicated that Ellen would be the type of person to hunt and kill a shark, let alone go fishing at all. Thus, making Ellen the main character is what ultimately necessitates the plot of a vengeful-minded, globe-trotting, psychic-powered shark, because there’s no other way to explain how a character such as Ellen Brody—who, as written in Revenge, is a widowed, middle-aged real estate agent with two adult sons and one granddaughter—could kill a 25-foot long Great White Shark. Read on ...