Film Review: Cannibal Girls (1973)

Release Date: April, 1973
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Daniel Goldberg, Ivan Reitman, Robert Sandler
Music by: Doug Riley
Cast: Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Ronald Ulrich

Scary Pictures Productions, 84 Minutes

Review:

Strangely, I didn’t know about this movie’s existence until a few years ago. The reason I find that strange is that I’m a fan of Ivan Reitman’s work and I also really loved SCTV and that group of Canadian comedians.

I also find it odd that Reitman did a cannibal movie that starred two major players from SCTV before any of them had any real notoriety. As one might expect, this isn’t just straight horror and it sort of parodies the cannibal and gore movies that were popular with audiences of exploitation film.

All that being said, this was a cool experiment. It didn’t hit it out of the park or leave much of a mark but it was one of the very first steps in the careers of three talented people.

Now compared to the things it parodies, this is pretty light on gore. It’s more about capturing the same sort of vibe but having some cheekiness thrown in. It still has a gritty and brooding atmosphere that definitely feels authentic to the time.

However, also like the films it is channeling, it’s also mostly dull. While the black comedy sort of makes up for the lack of real exploitation, it isn’t enough to carry the picture or really salvage it.

Although, I liked seeing Levy and Martin play characters that were somewhat serious. They hadn’t quite grown into decent actors by this point but they are the best actors in the picture.

Reitman would go on to make some of the most memorable comedies of all-time but he was very raw as a director here. The film feels very green and there are some noticeable issues but to be fair, this was also better than similar films that lesser directors put out that wouldn’t go on to do anything worthwhile after starting in schlock.

This really isn’t a blip on the radar when looking back at exploitation cinema but this is something worth checking out just to see some of the earliest work by Reitman, Levy and Martin.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: the exploitation films it sort of parodies: Blood Feast, The Organ Grinders and The Wizard of Gore.

Video Game Review: Dragon Warrior III (NES)

My biggest complaint about Dragon Warrior II was the grinding. Sadly, it may actually be worse in this chapter, as I felt like I spent countless hours being forced to grind away for experience points in an effort to progress in the game.

Still, this was a damn good installment in the series and in spite of my fun and the adventure screeching to a halt too often, the game was great when I was able to actually play it and not get my ass kicked.

I like that the overworld map was very similar to Earth and that once you’ve been everywhere and have defeated the big evil, a chasm opens up, revealing a new darkworld where the real big evil lives. So once you think that you’ve beat the game, you realize that there is a whole new world to explore and save from darkness.

Also, the ending of this game leads into the story of Dragon Warrior I. So this is a prequel. Although, that can be figured out if you pay attention to and remember all the details from the first and third games.

Overall, this game felt much larger in scale than the others. The second game felt massive compared to the first but this one feels like it also dwarfed its predecessor since it gave you a second world map. Additionally, this one also took the longest to play. But, again, a lot of that was grinding and grinding hard.

For fans of the series, this is a pretty satisfying chapter. Dragon Warrior always had the edge for me over Final Fantasy back in the early days of the two franchises. However, after I play through Dragon Warrior IV, I do plan to give the 8-bit Final Fantasy games a replay, as it’s been decades and my opinion on which franchise was better, could now be very different.

If it weren’t for all the tedious grinding, this would have been a 10 out of 10.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: The other Dragon Warrior a.k.a. Dragon Quest games for the original NES, as well as the NES Final Fantasy games.

Comic Review: Vampirella Master Series – Omnibus

Published: September 20th, 2017
Written by: Kurt Busiek, Mike Carey, Warren Ellis, Jeph Loeb, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, James Robinson
Art by: Amanda Conner, Gary Frank, Joe Jusko, Louis LaChance, Mike Lilly, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Mark Texeira

Dynamite Entertainment, Harris Comics, 545 Pages

Review:

I’ve kind of dug Vampirella my entire life, even if I hadn’t read many of her stories until more recently. She always looked like a cool, badass character and I’ve always enjoyed horror, especially vampire fiction.

Being that this is the 50th anniversary of the character and because I’m stoked for the new series that Christopher Priest is writing, I wanted to dive deep into Vampirella lore.

This gigantic omnibus was put out recently by Dynamite but it collects stories from the ’90s when Vampirella was being published by the now defunct Harris Comics.

What makes this collection special, is that it is a compilation of Vampirella stories from a ton of A-list creators in a time when comics were allowed to be harder, sexier, edgier and darker: all things that make Vampirella who she is.

Overall, most of this was entertaining. The only low point was the Kurt Busiek story because it was a bit slow when compared to the pacing of the others. I did like Busiek’s tale overall but it was also the largest and kind of took the wind out of the sails for me.

I wish that some of the other stories were larger or expanded on more, though. There were a lot of cool ideas tossed around and a lot of what was considered Vampirella canon was experimented on and retconned. Typically, I’m not big on retcons but with Vampirella having a rocky history, as far as being published regularly and with any sort of long lasting narrative, it doesn’t bother me. Plus, by the ’90s, a little reinvention wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In the end, I was glad to have finally read these stories and they’re certainly better than what was the standard in the early to mid-’90s.

I also loved most of the art.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Vampirella stories, as well as comics featuring Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris.

Comic Review: Wolverine Vs. Blade – One-Shot

Published: July 10th, 2019
Written by: Marc Guggenheim
Art by: Dave Wilkins

Marvel Comics, 40 Pages

Review:

This was a comic book that I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it hit the shelves. It came home with me immediately and I gave it a read, twice.

Now it’s not a classic and probably won’t be heralded for years to come but for a Marvel comic in 2019, this was some solid f’n stuff! But maybe it would’ve worked better as an annual. Granted, I don’t think Wolverine or Blade have regular titles, right now. Wolverine has just been in a lot of recent miniseries, as Marvel just resurrected him after being on the shelf for a few years.

Anyway, this is a badass comic. Marc Guggenheim, now mostly known as the guy behind all the CW superhero shows, penned a cool story that understood its characters and gave them real life. The banter between Blade and Wolverine was entertaining and they made a formidable pair.

Now calling this Wolverine Vs. Blade might have been a bit of a stretch. The two fight but it’s pretty short and they realize that they need to team up to stop a vampire threat.

The big twist as to who the big villain is, is pretty neat. I don’t want to spoil it but it makes sense for the story and for being a good match for the combined powers and skills of the heroes.

Also, there is a Doctor Strange cameo in this.

But apart from my satisfaction regarding the story, I also loved the art. Dave Wilkins created a beautiful looking comic.

In fact, I’d like to see Guggenheim and Wilkins work together again. Marvel should just greenlight a sequel to this or let these two work on some sort of team up miniseries.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Blade stories, as well as mid-’00s X-Force featuring Wolverine leading the team as a black ops group.

Video Game Review: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (PlayStation 4)

I enjoyed the first game in this series, so I figured I’d jump on this one, especially since I found it for twelve bucks.

It adds a lot of new things to the gameplay and gives you about half a dozen maps, instead of a measly two like the first game. So it gets some points for that.

However, this just gets to be really repetitive and I didn’t care about the story on the same level that I cared about it in the first chapter.

To be frank, this becomes kind of a dud after you’ve played it for awhile. I just got bored and about halfway through the game, I stopped playing it. I didn’t just quit like I would a bad game, I just didn’t have much urge to fire up the PS4 after awhile and once I got my hands on another game, this got stored away on the game shelf.

The graphics are solid and the gameplay mechanics are tight for the most part.

Although, flying the dragon was a bit clunky and took some getting used to. But that’s my only complaint regarding the game’s controls. But still, flying a dragon should be the greatest thing in the game and it’s far from that.

Maybe I’ll finish this on a rainy day but I’m in no rush.

It was a decent continuation with great care given to the mechanics and gameplay additions but it’s like they left no creativity for the story. It’s only fun to a point and then you’d rather just leave the house and get an ice cream sandwich.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: the game before it: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

Comic Review: Camelot 3000

Published: December,1982 – April, 1985
Written by: Mike W. Barr
Art by: Brian Bolland, Bruce Patterson, Terry Austin, Tatjana Wood

DC Comics, 320 Pages

Review:

I used to see Camelot 3000 in the back issue bins all the time when I started out collecting comics. I was a dummy that only bought superhero comics and toyline tie-in stuff, so I never gave it a chance.

However, over the years, I’ve heard great things about it and I’ve since gone out and collected all twelve issues of this DC Comics maxiseries.

Having now read it, I thought that all the hype was pretty justified. It was an energetic and exciting read. I crushed the whole thing out in a cross country flight and it made the time pass with ease, even if my seat was smaller than a can of corn.

Mike Barr’s story was stupendous with lots of layers, superb character development and also, one of the most original takes I’ve ever seen on the King Arthur legend.

Furthermore, the whole comic is visually stunning thanks to the fantastic art of Brian Bolland, who is a legend in my book.

Also, it touches on some social issues a few decades before those issues started to be addressed in mainstream entertainment. It’s certainly a comic book ahead of its time and it presented these things with care and respect.

I love that this tapped into great fantasy storytelling, mixed it up with solid science fiction and ultimately gave us something that truly feels epic. And I’m not one to throw the word “epic” around, as it is used too often like “awesome” and has lost its intended meaning.

Camelot 3000 is most definitely a classic in the comic book medium and one of the best series to come out of the outstanding ’80s.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: ’70s and ’80s fantasy comics, as well as other DC maxiseries from the era like Watchmen and V for Vendetta.

Comic Review: Cerebus, Book 2: High Society (Issues #26-51)

Published: May, 1981 – May, 1983
Written by: Dave Sim
Art by: Dave Sim

Aardvark-Vanaheim, 532 Pages

Review:

The High Society story arc actually ends at issue 50 but I tacked 51 onto this, as it serves as a one-issue bridge between High Society and the first part of Church & State. And it felt more natural to tack it into this big string of issues, as opposed to reading it at the front of Church & State.

Having just come off of reading the first twenty-five issues of Cerebus, I wasn’t sure what to expect from High Society. I’ve read a few issues from this large arc in the past but never have I read it in its entirety or in order, for that matter.

This really takes Cerebus to the next level and I understand that Dave Sim probably grew tired of the series just being a parody of ’70s sword and sorcery comics, as well as Howard the Duck, in some regard, but I personally loved those earlier issues.

But this is more mature, looks at life a bit deeper and Sim starts to ask bigger questions and reveal deeper things about himself.

High Society steps out of the formula of not having a formula. It fine tunes things and thus, gives us a more interesting, more cohesive and more meaningful tale to digest.

I really dug this story, its tone and I’ve got to say, I don’t really disagree with Sim’s commentary on politics and high society. This is a good critique on that stuff and even though it’s done with caricatures and in a somewhat fantastical way, it’s all very real.

The high points of the book for me channel back to the earlier stories though. My favorite bits are where Jaka returns and Cerebus is faced with his love for her while trying to maintain the status he’s achieved since they were last together. Has he changed for the better? Has he changed for the worse? How can his life be different but his love for her is still the same? Has his relationship with Astoria created a love triangle? How does Astoria really see Cerebus? And why the hell can’t Cerebus be nicer to the Elf?

High Society still delves into parody though. The Roach is used pretty heavily in this and we even get to see him take on a new form that is a parody of Marvel Comics’ Moon Knight.

This was a fine followup to Sim’s early Cerebus work and frankly, it’s made me excited to get into the next big epic, Church & State. Plus, Sim’s art really is more detailed and alluring here. This is a fantastic comic to look at and drink in. High Society is a great example of how powerful just black, white and grey can be in the comic book medium.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other Cerebus story arcs, especially the earlier stuff.