Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
October 25, 2019
Papa Ray Loves Black Meat
Category: Serious … Travels

So I visited Field of Screams in Lancaster County, PA, last night. As haunts go, it was comparable to other attractions incorporating multiple attractions in terms of quality, though it had a few standout areas -- I particularly enjoyed the multi-floor setup of the Den of Darkness (one ground-level area resembled a frontier saloon/brothel; toward the end there was attic area populated with all manner of creepy dolls), and the layout of the Nocturnal Wasteland was impressive though the theme was kinda weak. (The green light/fog combination they employed to give the visual impression of wading through a toxic swamp was brilliant, though.)

And there was one part that left me especially cold, though that's less the fault of the haunt itself than the actor. And it's not an uncommon thing. (I mean, I wouldn't be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time it happened -- I haven't been to a million haunts, and not every haunt affords the opportunity for it -- but I could certainly buy a current Marvel Legends figure at a local comic shop markup.) Nearly every time I pass through a redneck cannibal area and the actors can interact with patrons, an actor singles me out to make a crack about "dark meat" or some other reference to the color of my skin. Last night the area was loud and the guy had wrapped his arms entirely around my head, so his speech was muffled, but I think he said, "Papa Ray looooves black meat." Ha ha ha. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 4:40 pm | Comments (0)
September 16, 2019
Brief comments on Dark Phoenix

So I watched Dark Phoenix, and... yeah, it's bad. But the thing that gets me: it's bad in the way that pretty much all the X-Men live-action movies (save First Class) have been bad, only the direction (and the dialogue, and the music?) is marginally less competent -- which means the movie was less capable of manipulating audiences into gushing over it despite the lackluster content. I feel like the main problem with the X-Men movies is that they forget that, generally speaking, the most compelling part of any superhero story is the "hero" part, and in most of the X-films the mutants are more interested in protecting themselves -- and fighting each other in big noisy CGI set pieces -- than they are about protecting the public or standing up for nobler ideals. Here (again) the heroes were all flawed in decidedly non-heroic ways: two of the major players, driven by a decidedly ignoble desire for revenge, outright wanted to murder someone they once cared for deeply. Even in the "uplifting" final bit where Jean finally consciously decides to use the Phoenix force for "good," she walks around disintegrating her foes (and, sure, they were evil aliens), and I couldn't help thinking that a being that powerful should subdue enemies without blasting them to atoms. But superhero movies across the board aren't particularly sympathetic to the Supervillain Lives Matter movement.

-posted by Wes | 6:39 am | Comments (0)
September 2, 2019
Wade in the water, children
Category: Travels

For the first time in... a very long time, today I went to the local swimming pool! Every year I tell myself I'm going to make it to the pool, and every year Labor Day comes and goes without my having gone swimming all summer. I was determined not to let that happen this year, and so -- after planning to leave around noon and not actually making it out the door until shortly after 4pm -- I finally made good on that promise to myself.

And it was great! I dunked myself a bunch of times, "swam" (ie maneuvered for some distance without my feet touching the floor) several "laps" (it was crowded enough that I couldn't swim across the pool lengthwise without running into folks, so I swam the width instead), and stood around moving my arms and legs until I got tired of being in the water and decided to call it a day. I was back home by 5pm. 😛 Still, I'm glad I went.

Now to see if I can make it to the beach while the weather's still nice!

-posted by Wes | 6:09 pm | Comments (0)
August 29, 2019
Crowdfunding Unicron
Category: Toys

So it totally makes sense to me that individuals or even independent studios (like the Four Horsemen) would rely upon crowdfunding in order to realize their wares, but now even the major companies are crowdfunding certain products. And honestly? I'm not sure how I feel about that. In a way it makes sense, but I feel like Hasbro should have the resources to bring a product to market, and if they're not confident that said product will hit their minimum profit threshold then they just shouldn't make that product.

As it is, it creates this weird dynamic among fans and collectors where -- because the toy in question, Hasbro's massive and ambitious G1 Unicron, only gets made if 8000 people plunk down close to $600 to make it happen -- you've got some collectors actively criticizing and sniping and subtly digging at others for not helping to get Unicron made. You also have people who are in no way paying $600 for a goddamned toy -- and who don't particularly need or want a toy over two feet tall -- and so resent all parties for attempting to goad them into such a ridiculous purchase. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:49 pm | Comments (0)
Not-so Scary Stories

Earlier this week I saw Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Admittedly I did not actually expect it to be scary (and it wasn't), but I also did not expect it to be as lame as it was. Irritating characters, dialogue that was 90% needless exposition, and "scares" detached from any context that might have made them more compelling does not make for good viewing.

I'm also highly disappointed in some of the choices that were made for this film -- namely the decision not to make it an anthology. I might be a little biased here -- I love horror anthology flicks -- but part of that bias probably owes to the ease of making a relatively effective horror anthology. (Of the 4-5 stories in any anthology film, only one of them needs to be memorable for the movie to be worth watching, and all but the crappiest flicks can usually pull that off.) Here, however, we had a film expressly based on a collection of scary stories, and for some reason they made it about a group of annoying teens and a ghost that kills by writing stories in its Death Note. It was kinda like a weak horror remake of "Ghostwriter", only nowhere near as enjoyable as actual Ghostwriter (to say nothing of a proper horror remake of Ghostwriter, which now I think I need to see). (more...)

-posted by Wes | 12:08 pm | Comments (0)
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