Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Superheroes, Sonic Screwdrivers, Supernatural Scares, Star Stuff, Sci-fi, Smeg, and Silliness

Friday, 30 November 2018

Zombie Hunter Is An Awful Movie...


After a mysterious street drug called Natas turns most of the world's population into squishy, pink-blooded, flesh-eating, zombies, society crumbles.

Zombie Hunter, it turns out, is an Arrowstorm attempt at grindhouse from 2013 that had somehow slipped under my radar.

Yet, it's hard to believe this is from the same company that made Ozombie the year before.

Pretty much everything about this film is bad, from the unnecessarily ridiculous voice-over (by not one, but two of the characters) to the stage school-reject acting from many of the leads and the awful dialogue they're given, to the unexplained appearance of the CGI monsters that wandered in from an Asylum mockbuster remake of a Resident Evil flick.

I'm not saying Zombie Hunter is Shark Exorcist or Camp Blood bad, because it's actually quite well made given its obviously limited budget - and has some decent ideas thrown in along the way -it's just the script and performances scrape the bottom of the barrel.

What passes for a story centres on a man known only as Hunter (Martin Copping) - as menacing as Les Dennis in Gary Numan's guyliner cosplaying as Mad Max Rockatansky - who becomes entangled with a grim group of survivors in the wastelands of post-apocalyptic Utah.

At the forefront of this group is Father Jesús (Danny Trejo), but regardless of what the DVD cover (see above) may suggest, Danny's presence in this debacle in sadly limited to about 20 minutes.

Otherwise, we're treated to the comedy stylings of charmless rough-as-toast stripper 'Fast Lane' Debbie (Jade Regier), the stereotypically gross Lyle (Jake Suazo), nice girl Alison (Clare Niederpruem) and her sex-obsessed brother Ricky (Jason K. Wixom), and 'funny old person' Jerry (Terry Guthrie), all of whom make The Texas Chain Saw Massacre family look like The Addams Family in comparison.

If you're idea of "humour" is seeing a lot of people puking, watching an awkward, chaste, sex scene,  or hearing the 'light relief' recycle "I'm getting too old for this shit" as though he'd thought up that catchphrase, then this might raise a smile.

But mainly you're going to be reaching for the remote control - to turn it off or fast-forward - or checking your watch to see how much longer there is to go.

Let's not even try to address the random final scene that introduces - then dismisses in the same breath - a pointless, and previously unforeshadowed, plot twist from out of nowhere.

I couldn't help wondering if Danny Trejo wrote his own lines or it was simply his charismatic delivery that elevated his scenes above everything else in Zombie Hunter.

Outside of Trejo's bits, the closest this film comes to a stand-out sequence is when the survivors encounter the final human resident of a town of cannibals, who have been driven insane from eating the flesh of zombies.

For a brief moment, Zombie Hunter switches sub-genres to become a slasher flick, courtesy of a surprisingly menacing antagonist, the cackling Funny Man (Jeff Kirkham).

Another memorable quirk, that I don't recall seeing in other zombie films, is, on a couple of occasions, the zombies hurl guts at fleeing survivors... which just struck me as funny.

But these minor oddities aside, Zombie Hunter is a shockingly awful way to waste 89-minutes of your life.

For One Night Only: Once Upon A Deadpool... With Added Fred Savage!


Artist Appreciation: Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic's Women Of Marvel Variant Covers...


From 2010, found via Tumblr.

#RPG Excavating The Secret History Of Dungeons & Dragons...



Secrets of Blackmoor is a two-hour documentary, charting the evolution of role-playing in games that culminated in the creation of the global phenomenon that is Dungeons & Dragons.

The movie is shot but needs funding to finalise it and make it presentable. The film-makers are looking to raise $25,000 by Christmas Day (December 25) to seal the deal.

You can currently view an early, very rough, cut of 35 minutes of footage from the documentary here. It was screened recently at Gary Con.

There's much more detail about the film, which is due for release next March, its interview subjects, the history it covers etc on the campaign's Kickstarter page, where you can also pledge your financial support.

My Favourite New Supers Show Returns To The UK In January...



Marvel's Runaways returns December 21, only on Hulu, in the States and in January, on SyFy, over here in the UK.

Reimagining The Classics In New Animated Star Wars Show For Younglings (Of All Ages)



In the build-up to the release of Episode IX in a year's time, revisit classic moments from the original movies, in animated form, using sound effects and dialogue from the classics.

This series, Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures premieres today on the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

WEEKLY WORLD NEWS: She's Buying A Stairway To Heaven...



Every one has the potential to trigger a story hook in your contemporary roleplaying campaigns, whether the player-characters are grizzled FBI veterans investigating cults and other clandestine organisations, or kick-ass exorcists looking to save souls and punch demons back to Hell.

I HAVE SUPER FRIENDS!


This has been the birthday that keeps on giving.

At this week's games' night, Pete presented me with a gift crafted by his ultra-talented wife, Jeni, knitter extraordinaire: a handmade Acrobatic Flea doll.

Some time ago, Pete had made a casual request for a picture of the Flea, with a hint that it would be transformed into "something", but I had no idea what he had in mind for it.

This eight inch woollen Flea doll just blew my tiny mind.

I've already decided that he operates in an alternate world of animated toys (The Fuzzy Dimension), patrolling the streets of Knit City (see what I did there?)

In front of The Acrobatic Flea portrait that Pete drew me many, many moons ago

Throwback Thursday: Tricycle...


On Sunday, Rachel, Alice, and I visited the Christmas On The Home Front event at the museum of Kent Life, and one of the first things that caught my eye was an antique tricycle parked outside one of the old houses.

This tricycle, with its solid rubber wheels (rather than those namby-pamby inflatable tyres the kids have these days), was identical to the one I had as a child, in the early '70s.

Was the tricycle that my parents gave me second hand? Quite possibly, as we weren't rolling in money.

I have no recollection of it being some kind of "family heirloom", so I don't know my trike's provenance.

Perhaps tricycle design hadn't evolved since the war years and mine was, in fact, newer?

I'll never know, but I didn't expect to be transported so clearly back to my own childhood while attending a recreation of British life during the war years of the 1940s.

I have fond, and vivid, memories of trying to build a ramp - with a stack of bricks and some hardboard - in the steep drive of our family home in Pembury, to Evel Knievel myself over some imaginary gorge.

Instead, the ramp just toppled over sideways as I rode my trike up it!

Those solid tyres were memorable as well. There was no give in them, so every lump and bump you rode over was vibrated through the tyres, and the bike's metal frame, right into my tiny body.

On the positive side, you never got a flat. So, there was that.

And look how small it is. In my mind, over the years, it has, of course, grown with me, so to be reunited (in a way) with it now just brings home how long ago this all was.

Alice isn't interested in my nostalgia

The Return Of Young Justice...


From Warner Bros. Animation, Young Justice: Outsiders features the return of the fan favourite animated series with a huge cast of DC's most iconic young super heroes - plus brand-new characters, many of whom are just discovering their unique meta-powers and special abilities.

Set against the backdrop of a rich, deep world that touches all corners of the DC universe, our heroes will face the new threat of metahuman-trafficking, and an intergalactic arms race for control of these super-powered youths.

Young Justice: Outsiders premieres January 4, 2019 exclusively on DC Universe.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

#RPG Our Plucky Heroes Thwart Doctor Octopus's Rampaging Giant Robot...

The giant octodroid on its rampage through Manhattan...

I think The Tuesday Knights' tribute to Stan Lee did The Man proud.

Simon ran The Day Of The Octopus scenario, from the original, Basic Set of TSR's Marvel Super Heroes roleplaying game - which none of us had played before - and we all had a whale of a time.

It didn't matter that none of us really knew the system, we mostly knew the characters (either from comics or movies), and with the unexpected arrival of Kevin (he'd been travelling up from Devon during the day and wasn't sure if he'd make it) taking the role of Mr Fantastic, we had three-quarters of The Fantastic Four at the table.

Pete played Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin' Thing, and Erica was Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch, while Clare put her own spin on Logan aka Wolverine and I swung in as Peter Parker, your friendly, neighbourhood, Spider-Man.

The adventure began in the park, with us all in our civvies (loved the fact that the character tokens had our characters in costume on one side and in civilian clothes on the other).

I foiled a mugger who had stolen Aunt May's purse while Ben demolished a gang of shakedown artists who were threatening his favourite pretzel vendor.

Across the road there was a burglary in progress, by a couple of notorious thugs, one of who was Turk (star of many a Netflix/Marvel TV series these days).

Turk had filched a Mandroid power gauntlet from a lobby display (hey, it was the 1980's, security was laxer then!), but Logan distracted him while Mr Fantastic stretched in and disarmed the weapon.

Just as we were handing over the goons to the police, Thor radioed in from Avengers HQ to tell us (a) Sue Storm and The Avengers were dealing with a crisis elsewhere and (b) Dr Octopus had declared his intentions to commit some heinous act in New York today.

We were suddenly ambushed by a collection of minor league villains (namely The Fixer, Scorpion, The Beetle, and Radioactive Man), who we quickly dealt with.

Learning that they were working for Doctor Octopus, we searched them and the van they rolled up in, for clues and were led to an abandoned newspaper printing warehouse.

Inside was a giant - two-storey high - static robot replica of Doctor Octopus, but as Mr Fantastic went in to investigate, the silent printing presses "transformed" into killer robots and attacked, while Doc Ock himself came out of the shadows, cackling like a villain about his plans to take over the city.

Mr Fantastic took out the Doctor with a clever choke hold, but as Ock slipped into unconsciousness he pressed a palm button to activate the giant robot.

The monstrous machine crashed out the building and began to make its way, destructively, down the street.

At first, our efforts to stop it came to naught, even the Human Torch's flames weren't affecting it, but The Thing had 'fastball specialed' Wolverine on to the robot's head, and the feisty Canadian had taken to slicing at the automaton's head and replica glasses.

Having swooped in and moved a stalled car - and its passengers - out of the path of destruction, I tried to slow the Octodroid down with a web wall between two buildings, but it tore through that like it was tissue paper.

Just as Mr Fantastic snaked his rubbery way into a panel on the robot's ankle, I swung up onto the robot's head, just as Logan tore off the eye pieces to reveal the workings of the machine.

I clogged these with webbing, bringing the beast to a grinding halt.

We were hailed as heroes - but still lambasted by JJ Jameson in The Bugle as troublemakers, of course.

And I realised that not only had Spidey forgotten to get any photographs after the initial burglary, but I'd also forgotten I was supposed to be getting Ned Leeds a birthday present.

A souvenir of the Octodroid was suggested!

Fake News: Because I'd forgotten to take any pictures, The Bugle had to rely on an "artist's impression" of the day's events - and decided to include some more 'interesting' heroes - such as Captains America and Marvel - in the story!

Overall, the evening was a great deal of silly fun, with plenty of highlights - from Erica's constant suggestion that she should "nova blast" things (ie. nuke the site from orbit) to the couple of times The Thing hurled Logan at enemies like a human dart.

There was a lot of reminiscing not just about comics, but sundry movie appearances of the characters, and reflecting on the superhero games of our youth (those of us who had partaken!)

Everything Is Possible, Even The Impossible, When Mary Poppins Returns...


Weird Wednesday...

"Mortal Engines Is The Beginning Of A Saga That Deserves To Be Told..."


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Seth MacFarlane's The Orville Beams Back On To UK TV In January...


DVD Of The Week: Hotel Artemis (2018)


Los Angeles, 2028. As violent civil unrest over water shortages fills the streets, a botched getaway sends wounded bank robbers Sherman (Black Panther's Sterling K. Brown) and Lev (Atlanta's Brian Tyree Henry) to Hotel Artemis, ultra-secret "hospital for criminals" run by the agoraphobic Jean Thomas aka The Nurse (Jodie Foster) and her trusted, muscle-bound, orderly Everest (Guardians Of The Galaxy's Dave Bautista).

However, while his brother is on life-support and rioting rages all around, Sherman finds himself entangled in the machinations of fellow patients at The Artemis, including his ex-lover, sultry French assassin Nice (Sofia Boutella); sleazy arms dealer Acapulco (Pacific Rim's Charlie Day); police officer Morgan (Parks & Recreation's Jenny Slate), who has connections to The Nurse's past; and the crime boss of Los Angeles, Orian 'The Wolf King' Franklin (Jurassic Park's Jeff Goldblum) - who happens to also own The Artemis - and his violent, youngest, son Crosby (Star Trek's Zachary Quinto).

Writer/director Drew Pearce, writer of Iron Man 3 and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, delivers a pacy little hour-and-a-half old school action thriller that wears its inspirations on its sleeve.

It's taken the romanticised mythology of services for organised crime from the John Wick franchise, mixed in some Daredevil-style fight scenes, and served it all up with heavy helping of Tarantino tropes (from the banterish dialogue and multiple interweaving backstories of larger-than-life characters to the code names allocated to the hotel's guests and the frequent use of retro music).

With an all-star ensemble cast led by one of my most enduring celebrity crushes (Jodie Foster) and one of more recent (Sofia Boutella), I was already inclined to check out Hotel Artemis, and the obvious John Wick influences evident in the trailers piqued my interest further.

The only character who feels undeserved is Morgan, the cop, who basically comes in, serves her plot role (of triggering memories of Jean's secret, tragic backstory... which then links her to another character), and leaves without actually upsetting the status as The Nurse and Everest fear the presence of a law officer in their facility could.

Coincidence is also a big player in the plot, as much of what goes wrong in this caper spins out of the sad fate of Jean's son, Beau (which, we learn, also planted the seed that led to to the creation of Hotel Artemis).

The near-future setting allows for some minor sci-fi set dressing to creep in, from nanotech medicine and 3D printing (of both replacement organs and weapons) to holographic communications,.

While these help circumvent some of the hotel's "rules" (to protect its clients and maintain the trust of the criminal underworld), this could just have easily been reskinned as a new entry in the John Wick franchise franchise or something similar.

I suspect, with this cast, it was a lot of fun to make (the charming legend that is Jeff Goldblum, for instance, is clearly playing Jeff Goldblum here) and that certainly comes across to the viewer.

Although Hotel Artemis doesn't offer much that it is new, it's freewheeling, slightly bonkers, and relentlessly engaging. And, more often than not, that's all we really need for a movie to entertain us.

#RPG From The Pages Of Marvel Comics: The Tuesday Knights vs Doc Ock! Excelsior!

The Tuesday Knights: Spider-Man, Wolverin, The Thing, and The Human Torch

This evening, as a special tribute to the late Stan 'The Man' Lee, our merry marching band of heroes - aka the Tuesday Knights - are partaking of some Marvel Super Heroes action, under the stewardship of gamesmaster Simon.

Spider-Man (me) and Wolverine (Clare) will be teaming up with half of the Fantastic Four -The Thing (Pete) and the Human Torch (Erica) - to thwart the latest diabolical scheme of Doctor Octopus...

'Nuff said!

There's Always Time For Krypto Art...

Variant cover for next month's Supergirl #25, by Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts

Monday, 26 November 2018

Musical Monday: Tu Hi Re (Armaan Malik & Shashaa Tirupati)




Bollywood comes to HeroPress with this musical number from upcoming superhero flick 2.0.

Horror On Netflix: Cargo (2017)


Stranded in the post-apocalyptic Australian Outback, Brit abroad Andy (Martin Freeman) has 48 hours to find someone to care for his infant daughter Rosie (Lily Anne McPherson-Dobbins/Marlee Jane McPherson-Dobbins) before he transforms into a flesh-eating zombie.

His wife, Kay (Susie Porter), has already succumbed to the deadly virus, and Andy finds himself stumbling through a series of grim encounters on his quest to save one-year-old Rosie after he is bitten.

There's currently no major actor who can encapsulate the hapless, but resilient, English fish-out-of-water quite like Martin Freeman and he carries this film, much like Andy carries Rosie.

With moments of bleakness that sometimes rival The Road or Lost In The Desert, Freeman's presence in Cargo pretty much tells the audience that no matter what happens to Andy, you kind of suspect that Rosie's future will be... er... rosy.

Gruff miner Vic (Anthony Hayes) serves up the gammon, when his helpful veneer quickly peels back to reveal him as racist, misogynistic, bully who becomes as a big a threat to Andy as the slow-moving zombies that dot the wide landscape.

Luckily, for Andy, he is thrust into the company of young Aboriginal girl Thoomi (Simone Landers), whose people's connection to the land makes them approach the zombie situation in a level-headed and methodical manner.

An Australian cinema release, Cargo was given a global audience as the country's first Netflix Original movie.

It's an interesting spin on the zombie genre, with some nice little touches - such as the government-issued emergency medical packs (which include a pneumatic spike to drive through a zombie's brain), the zombies' unexplained and rather peculiar habits (such as their need to bury their heads in the ground), and the fleeting suggestion that the crisis may have some connection to fracking.

The story makes good - although possibly not great - use of the Australian wilderness, but given the clock on Andy's quest, and his increasingly fragile state, he doesn't really travel that wide an area in the 105-minute movie.

The race against time to save a child in the wilderness is certainly an innovative way to heighten the inherent jeopardy of a zombie apocalypse story, and Freeman's central performance ensures that Cargo stands out in a crowded marketplace.

Map-A-Monday: Fake Britain

click to embiggen

Fake Britain is a "work-in-progress" map, being compiled by the Londonist website, collating fictional locations in England, Scotland, and Wales from Judge Dredd's Brit-Cit to Scarfolk and Royston Vasey.

#DCTV Reality Is Being Rewritten In Full-On TV Trailer For Epic Elseworlds Event...


Musical Monday: Big For Your Boots/ Shutdown (Acacia & Aaliyah)



So, Acacia & Aaliyah, my favourite act in this year's X-Factor went out in this weekend's semi-finals. And I think that's the best thing that could have happened for them.

Their frequent presence in the Sunday sing-offs demonstrated, week-on-week, there wasn't enough interest in them from the viewing public for them to win the show next weekend.

But now they're free for Robbie Williams (their mentor) to swoop in, become their manager, and get them a larger platform to strut their stuff on, as well as a record deal that isn't tied down by the restraints of The X-Factor.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Doctor Who: The Witchfinders


Team TARDIS arrive in 17th Century Lancashire just in time for a witch trial outside Bilehurst Cragg, a village that no one has heard of.

Matters get more confused when King James (Alan Cumming) himself turns up to lead the witch hunts.

At first, The Doctor and her team manage to pass themselves off as official witchfinders, but eventually The Doctor runs afoul of strident local landowner Becka Savage (Siobhan Finneran) and is accused of witchcraft herself.

The Witchfinders is the third historical story this season and the third involving ignorance and prejudice against strong women, but unfortunately the longer this episode went on the more it unravelled.

There were several striking moments of standing around listening to massive expositional infodumps, coupled with disappointingly bland alien menace with an underwhelmingly clichéd reason for being on Earth.

With the story potential of the era, I had high hopes for The Witchfinders, as The Doctor and "witches" have history (pardon the pun).

Unfortunately, while The Doctor referenced the fact that she used to be a man, she didn't seem to recall previous encounters with creatures one might call witches (which is odd as, as far as we know, the Carrionites are still imprisoned in the crystal ball in The TARDIS).

Although all over the place narrative-wise, Joy Wilkinson's script gave every member of Team TARDIS a key role to play in events.

However, it felt a bit forced and "obvious" when The Doctor stayed behind to 'babysit' while her three friends went off to track down the alien creatures.

This was a rather clear sign that something was due to happen to The Doctor... and it did.

Even the King just turning up in this out-of-the-way village felt rather peculiar, but I don't know if this was the sort of thing King James was prone to do.

Earlier in the series I was genuinely delighted by showrunner Chris Chibnall's keenest to push historical stories to the forefront again, as they had been key element in the show's original mandate.

Sadly, The Witchfinders should stand as a shining example of why, maybe, the series should give historicals a rest for awhile. Or maybe just try a straight historical story without any alien intervention.

Next Time:


Our Russian Comrades Are In Town Again...

HeroPress visitor numbers for the 24-hour period up to 9am this morning 

As soon as I saw that my week's "top ten posts" (see below) was full of 'classic' posts from the olden days (such as my 10,000 posts post, Rachel's guest post about my medications, and the geek pin-up posts for Skyler Samuels and Caroline Munro) I suspected something was up.

Looking at my visitor stats for the last 24 hours I was immediately struck by the fact that hits to HeroPress from Russia outnumbered their nearest rival (the United States) by seven-to-one.

Pretty sure this is some kind of record, although not necessarily one I'm particularly proud of.

I'm speculating this could be some of bot wave in the wake of Black Friday/Thanksgiving, but what do I know?

Perhaps HeroPress is just a big deal in Moscow!

Golden oldies are dominating this week's top ten 

Don't Have Nightmares! Have A Laugh...

Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) + Dr Who (2022)

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