Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative
Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Superheroes, Sci-fi, Star Stuff, Silliness, Scares, and the Supernatural

Friday, 31 January 2020

Important Information As The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse Draws Ever Nearer...


Thanks to Justin 'Pun' Isaac for this.

You Always Remember Your First...


Tsui Hark's Zu Warriors Of The Magic Mountain was the first wuxia film I knowingly encountered, even though, at the time, the term wuxia was still unknown to me (it didn't really break through into the mainstream until Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

I seem to recall it was a late-night movie on Channel 4, possibly tied into a Jonathan Ross series on "obscure" cinema.

Unsurprisingly, Zu was unlike anything I had seen before (I was already a fan of Japanese chanbara cinema, but this was something else) and yet it immediately clicked with me, both as a fan of genre movies and as a gamer.

Now, Zu Warriors Of The Magic Mountain is making its worldwide debut on Blu-Ray, thanks to Eureka Entertainment, presented from a brand new 2K restoration.

Due out on April 20, it is available for pre-order from Amazon here.
One of the most important cinematic achievements in Hong Kong cinema, Tsui Hark's Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain birthed the modern-day special effects industry in Hong Kong, and influenced filmmakers around the world, including John Carpenter (who credited the film as the inspiration for Big Trouble in Little China).

Featuring an all-star cast led by Yuen Biao (Wheels on Meals, Project A) as young soldier Dik Ming-kei, currently caught in a war between two rival armies during Tang Dynasty. Taking sanctuary in a cave within the ominous Zu Mountain, he becomes entangled in a battle with supernatural forces beyond his comprehension.

Featuring breath-taking art design, stunning cinematography, and ground-breaking special effects, Eureka Classics is extremely proud to present Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain from a brand new 2K restoration making its worldwide debut on Blu-ray.

BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Limited Edition O-CARD with new artwork by Darren Wheeling [2000 units]
  • PLUS: A collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film [2000 units]
  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a brand new 2K restoration
  • Cantonese, Mandarin, and English soundtrack options, original monaural presentations
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Brand new and exclusive feature length audio commentary by critic and Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • Brand new and exclusive interview with Tsui Hark a lengthy and in-depth interview with director Tsui Hark filmed in 2020 exclusively for this release
  • Zu: Time Warrior [93 mins] the export cut of the film produced for European theatres, featuring a wraparound segment with Yuen Biao as a modern-day college student who is transported, Wizard of Oz style, to 10th Century China
  • Tsui Hark episode of Son of the Incredibly Strange Film Show originally aired on British television in 1989
  • Alternate opening credits, restored to their original Western presentation
  • Archival Interview with Yien Biao [12 mins]
  • Archival Interview with Mang Hoi [20 mins]
  • Archival interview with Moon Lee [20 mins]
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailers

A Witcher's Swords: "A Silver Blade For Monsters And Steel For Humans..."




While we patiently await the arrival of season two of The Witcher and the between-seasons' anime The Witcher: Nightmare of The Wolf (which will tell the story of Geralt's mentor Vesemir), here are a couple of Henry Cavill-fronted looks at elements of season one.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

I'm Delighted To Say We're All Doomed!


During my formative years as a comic book collector, while I had a passing interest in the big blockbusting teams like the Justice League and The Avengers, my heart truly belonged to the smaller units, such as the Teen Titans and Fantastic Four.

Then Grant Morrison started writing The Doom Patrol in 1989 and I fell in love. The comic was peculiar, mind-bending, educational, and entertaining in ways I had rarely encountered in the medium, blending in art movements and strange science with twisted fairy stories and a host of broken characters.

Then last year, DC Universe launched a Doom Patrol live-action series... that was nowhere to be found over here in the benighted British Isles.

Almost a year later, and I was on the verge of importing an American Blu-Ray of the series, believing that the show (clearly inspired, in large part, by the Morrison era of the comics) would never turn up over here.

However, around Christmas - maybe a bit later - it was revealed that the show would be appearing on StarzPlay, an extra pay channel available through Prime Video. This pissed me off immensely as I wasn't going to pay another channel subscription for a single show.

Then I discovered what else was on the channel (Castle Rock, Pennyworth, Channel Zero, Deadly Class, Mr Mercedes etc) and the decision was taken out of my hands.

This week, with a gap in my viewing schedule, I took the plunge and began my subscription.

And I'm so glad I did.

Long story, short: Doom Patrol turns out to be my favourite TV superhero show. Ever.

Beyond the visceral excitement of show that actually stays true to its source material, I laughed out loud, I wept, my jaw was frequently on the floor, and I was constantly being pleasantly surprised by the escalating weirdness of it all.

And I'm now thinking I should import the Blu-Ray anyway (for when I, inevitably, have to cut my StarzPlay subscription).

I have to confess that I wasn't sure about the inclusion of Vic Stone aka Cyborg (Joivan Wade), in the team, though.

For me, I will always associate him with the Teen Titans - as that's where he first appeared. I felt the more recent upping of his power level and bumping him to the Justice League did the character a great disservice as he was always more interesting as the level-head of the Titans.

So, when I saw his inclusion in Doom Patrol, rather than Titans, I was like "huh?"

But, you know what? He works here. And he works well, as the outsider trying to bring some order to the dysfunctional team.

The thing is, though, even though the Doom Patrol frequently proclaim they are not team, they gel way better than the Titans, possibly because there are fewer of them and they are generally more interesting characters.

Another thing this show does way better than Titans is allowing its characters to actually use their abilities, as well as putting them up against villains with incredible - and visually-exciting - suites of powers.

Foremost among these is Eric Morden aka Mr Nobody (Firefly's Alan Tudyk), a seemingly omniscient - and unbeatable - being with a Deadpool/Ambush Bug-style fourth wall breaking habit, who knows he's in a TV show!

Early on, Mr Nobody kidnaps The Chief, Niles Caulder (James Bond himself, Timothy Dalton).

The overarching plot of season one then becomes a hunt for The Chief' by his ageless "team" - former test pilot, the bandage-swathed Larry Trainor (Matthew Zuk, Matt Bomer in unbandaged flashbacks); brain-in-a-robot-shell Cliff Steel (Riley Shanahan, the excellent Brendan Fraser in human form); gelatinous former film star Rita Farr (April Bowlby); and Crazy Jane (Orange Is The New Black's Diane Guerrero) and her multiple personalities - .hampered by a variety of apocalyptic side-quests along the way.

With Doom Patrol we're really getting to see characters - both antagonists and protagonists - who look, and act, like they have stepped off the pages of a comic book (did you ever think you'd see a live-action Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, for instance?)

From the horrific depths of Crazy Jane's mental "underground" to the joyous heights of Larry Trainor singing karaoke on Danny The Street (yes, even Danny appears in this), Doom Patrol covers all the emotional bases.

Having more in common with Legion than the most mainstream supers shows, I could write reams about how how brilliant Doom Patrol is, but suffice to say it outruns The Flash and overpowers Supergirl (in truth, it makes those old CW superhero shows that I love so much seem cheap and shallow in caparison).

Part of me hopes they might rope in Grant Morrison and Gerard Way to bring their comic book magic to the scripts for season two, but, in all honesty, the staff writers on Doom Patrol are already knocking it out of the park with every episode.

And let's hope that, as I came to this first season about 11 months late, I won't have so long to wait for season two to debut.

It's such a pity Doom Patrol is hidden away on StarzPlay in the UK as this is really one comic book show that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Carry On Dick! The Infamous Highwayman Rides Again In A New Comic Book...


The notorious Dick Turpin, along with fellow highwayman Tom King the Gentleman Thief, find themselves at a mysterious abandoned monastery in the middle of a raging storm after a planned highway robbery goes horribly wrong.

But it soon becomes apparent that the dark cloisters where they've sought shelter from the torrential rain are not as empty as they first appeared - and what was expected to be a quiet few hours under cover soon reveals itself to be a long night of mystery and terror!
Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade is a standalone 56-page, full-colour, graphic novel of 18th Century highwayman horror, set in the same fantastical timeline as the popular Flintlock series of anthology comic books.

Written by Steve Tanner of Time Bomb Comics, with line art by Roland Bird and colour art by Brett Burbridge, Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade is already finished, but Steve is seeking Kickstarter-backing to fund its publication.

Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade - Page One

The crowdfunding campaign, which has already hit its target, runs until March 1 and you can check out the various investor incentives, add-ons etc here on its Kickstarter page, where you can also read more about the story and see some of the gorgeous finished pages.

Campaign exclusive art print by Roland Bird and Brett Burbridge

Let's Hope It Lives Up To Expectations; One Last Push Will Get Us To The Witch's Hut...



Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Publisher Says The Cimmerian Comic Book Adaptations Will Be Conan "Uncensored"!


American comic book publisher Ablaze has struck a deal with Conan Properties International to publish English-language editions of the Glénat bande dessinée series The Cimmerian.

The French adaptations of Robert E Howard's "uncensoredoriginal stories are described as "the true Conan... unrestrained, violent, and sexual... just as Robert E. Howard intended".

The two issues of The Cimmerian: Queen of the Black Coast will be published in March, with The Cimmerian: Red Nails launching the next month (April).

You can read more about the agreement between Ablaze and Conan Properties International, and see a gallery of artwork and covers from The Cimmerian, over at ICv2.

The Theme Song Alone Is Reason Enough To Pick Up Adam Adamant Lives!



Da Vinci's Demons and Krypton star Blake Ritson dons the dapper outfit and steps into the role that made Gerald Harper a star in the 1960's TV series, as he headlines the latest series of audio adventures from Big Finish.

He joins Milly Thomas and Guy Adams in an audio reimagining of the classic groovy cult from the Swinging '60s, in association with BBC Studios.
Due to popular demand, Big Finish has revived Adam Adamant Lives! as a series of full-cast, action-packed audio dramas. The setting is still a thoroughly authentic 1966, but this time Adam’s re-appearance decades after his vanishing in 1902 remains a mystery. And Adamant is tormented by the inner presence of his arch foe, The Face, as a constant companion buried in his psyche.

The first three fab adventures are available now from bigfinish.com as a collector’s edition CD box set and digital download, from just £16.99.

In 1966, the winning team who’d brought Doctor Who to TV screens (Head of Drama, Sidney Newman and producer, Verity Lambert) cooked-up an action hero series as the BBC’s answer to ITV’s top-rated off-beat spy-fi show The Avengers (which Newman had also initiated).

Their creation was Adam Adamant Lives!

The series made a TV star of Gerald Harper, who played the eponymous hero, Adam Adamant. An Edwardian adventurer and government agent, Adamant fell foul of his nemesis, The Face, in 1902, and found himself frozen in a block of ice with all life-signs suspended.

Awakening in the ‘modern’ world of swinging 1966, Adamant soon found his feet, enlisting the assistance of groovy Sixties youngster, Georgina Jones, and a butler, in the form of ex-thespian and Punch’n’Judy man William E. Simms.

Together, they zoomed into action in their Mini Cooper, fighting crime and defeating the bad guys - clashing with the fantastical, the downright nasty and everything in between. Their adventures were quirky, crazy and just a little tongue-in-cheek.

It’s a series that has been lost in the mists of time, with many of the original episodes wiped.

But it's always been a firm favourite with cult TV aficionados, and some even suggest that it was the root inspiration for Austin Powers, Mike Myers’s comic International Man of Mystery.

In Big Finish’s full-cast audio production of Adam Adamant Lives! the mad-cap antics are all present, with plenty of groovy Sixties charm.

However, author Guy Adams (a thriller and comics writer with strong audio drama credentials writing Doctor Who and Torchwood for Big Finish) has also reinvented the series as a dark, compelling, psychological drama, permeated by the feeling that absolutely anything could happen at any moment.
You can save even more money by buying the first box set as part of a bundle that includes a pre-order for the second box set of Adam's audio adventures (which is due in August).

Weird Wednesday...

Stack Pringles. Make Endless New Flavors...



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Wonder Woman Wednesday...

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

#RPG Calling All My Gaming Friends On Facebook, Old And New...


Did you know I'd set up a Facebook group for friendly debate and banter about old school gaming, called I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters?

It's been active for a month and has already attracted just shy of 200 members, but would always welcome more.

In recent weeks, it has been home to a wide range of discussions from handling player-character deaths in-game and attitudes to mega-dungeons, vampires, firearms, and Hawk The Slayer, through to and to favourite settings and preferred campaign lengths.

While we call ourselves an "old school" group, I take a very broad approach to that, considering "old school" to be more an attitude than a definitive set - or style - of rules systems.

The main thing I'm looking for is a positive approach to discussing the hobby, an inspirational creative hivemind that will benefit members willing to join in the conversation.

You can find the group here on Facebook.

We've Followed The Breadcrumbs And The Witch's House Is Finally In Sight...

Artwork by Ghoulish Gary Pullin

The Axe Must Fall...


Thanks to a combination of mini-series coming to an end and a tightening of the old purse strings (thanks, in large part to the declining value of the pound and the increasing price of comics), my monthly pull-list is at an all-time low.

These are the titles I'm currently getting - or have pre-ordered:
  • Conan: Battle For The Serpent Crown
  • Conan The Barbarian
  • Crone
  • Daphne Byrne
  • Dark Agnes
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Infernal Tides
  • He-Man & The Masters Of The Multiverse
  • Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Ghosts
  • Killing Red Sonja
  • Knights Of The Dinner Table
  • Norse Mythology
  • Reaver
  • Red Sonja
  • Red Sonja: Age Of Chaos
  • Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica
  • Savage Avengers
  • Sword Master
  • The Immortal Hulk
  • The Last God
  • The Last God: Tales From The Book Of Ages
  • Three Jokers
You'll probably notice a paucity of actual superhero titles in that list these days.

This is because I'm now getting my quality superhero fix through film and television. With the current high quality and broad portfolio of comic book shows available via the various streaming services, that itch is getting well and truly scratched for - it has to be said - a fraction of the cost of comic books these days.

Comic book-wise, I think the future lies in mini-series.

I shall keep an eye out, for instance, for the return of Battlepug, and the launch of Marvel's Solomon Kaneand I'm hoping for further titles covering Conan's adventures in the Hyborian Age, rather than his on-going, anachronistic exploits in the modern Marvel Age (Is Savage Sword ever coming back?).

Everybody Was Kirk Fu Fighting!!!


In unabashed celebration of Captain James T. Kirk’s singular fighting skills, Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual is every Starfleet cadet’s must-have training guide for surviving the final frontier.

As captain of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise, James T. Kirk engaged in his share of fisticuffs, besting opponents with a slick combination of moves and guile that remains unmatched. Is there anyone you’d rather have watching your back as you take on Klingons, alien gladiators, genetically engineered supermen, and even the occasional giant walking reptile?

Kirk Fu is a series of unarmed combat techniques developed by one of Starfleet’s most celebrated starship captains over several years of encounters with alien species on any number of strange new worlds. A blend of various fighting styles, Kirk Fu incorporates elements of several Earth-based martial arts forms as well as cruder methods employed in bars and back alleys on planets throughout the galaxy.

It is as unorthodox in practice as it is unbelievable to behold. Including excerpts from Kirk’s own notes and personal logs, the Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual is the perfect training guide for surviving the depths of space. With proper training and practice, every Starfleet cadet can become one with Kirk Fu.

Dayton Ward’s Star Trek: Kirk Fu Manual, illustrated by Italian comic book artist Christian Cornia, is scheduled for release in early March.

The book is destined to become essential reading for would-be members of Starfleet (and its contemporary precursor, Space Force) looking to learn the secrets of the most versatile fighting technique on the Final Frontier.

The 64-page, 7″ x 7″, hardcover is available for pre-order from Amazon here, and you can see some sample page spreads below.

Comics Without Context...

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