Sunday, September 22, 2019

Blockheads In Ice Blocks Movie Night

By coincidence the two movies I watched the other evening each featured the title character trapped in ice.

The Thing From Another World (1951.) A remote arctic research station detects the crash of an unusual object. Upon investigation they discover an alien being encased in ice. Somehow the men are able to carve out a coffin-sized ice block to bring the creature back to their base.

Uh-oh. Quibble time. How did they dig underneath the alien Popsicle to create the block, especially with a bad storm on the way limiting their time? How did they raise the block to fly it back home? Did someone crawl under, carving away without the ice falling and crushing him?

At the base the frozen ET is stored in a cold room. OK, the monster has to get free or watching an ice-encased alien just sitting there gets boring really quick. How a delayed reaction by a damaged heating device on the alien, melting him free?

No, they have to use the "I didn't know the electric blanket was still on when I threw it on the ice block" gag. And what adds to the nonsense is a soldier sitting around eight feet away from the melting block, his back turned towards it so it can't see what is happening. But he should hear the dripping water and ice hitting the floor. That had to be an damn interesting magazine he was reading (or in the case of Playboy was staring at.)

Now the alien supposedly has superior intelligence but acts like the Frankenstein Monster on a bad day, limited smarts and poor self-control. He does show some cunning but it's more like an animal, not a high IQ being.

Contrast this plot with another movie, Queen of Blood (1966), in which unsuspecting Earthmen rescue an alien who has crashed on Mars. She looks generally human but is unable to understand our language like the rampaging alien in The Thing. She just plays along until she needs an oral hemoglobin fix.

So the thing in The Thing could've acted rational, waiting for the chance to kill off the humans at an opportune time. But nooooo, he has to stomp around and rage like Donald Trump with a bee in his ass.

This movie features the stereotypical scientist who wants to communicate with the supposedly superior intelligence. Yup, you can reason with monsters in the middle of a destructive spree. This reminds me of my short story, Gandhi Meets Godzilla, in which Gandhi stages a sit in front of Godzilla, passive resistance and thoughts of peace all ground into a bloody group pulp.

Next up was Captain America (1990), a direct to video wonder. It's easy to pick on this cinematic train wreck but I have to say a few parts showed potential and the actors did a decent job with what they had. Once again a cheap budget and rewrites ruin an endeavor.

Like the Marvel comics Captain America returns decades later after being on ice, seeing his girlfriend now a married middle-aged woman. The man out of time angle was used in the later MCU movies but this movie handled it almost as well.

But what kills it is the stupid nonsense that you wouldn't accept in a comic book. For some reason the producers decided that Cap should be put out of commission on his very first mission during World War II so when he returns the public is unaware of his existence.

Cap parachutes into action, breaking into the stronghold of the Red Skull. In this version the Red Skull's appearance is over the top, too bloody awful. According to the director he decided to drop that look for the rest of the movie because the audience would get sick of looking at the Skull's horrible visage. This results in another change from the comic books that will add to the movie's faults.

The Red Skull defeats Cap and ties him to a rocket aimed at the White House. He sends Cap off on a one way trip. Meanwhile a young boy sneaks out at night in Washington, DC to take some shots of the Skull's target.

The young boy spots the rocket heading towards the WH and despite it being so dark, his lens being too short, and the rocket being too fast he gets a shot of Cap on the rocket. The rocket misses the White House thanks to Cap banging and twisting one of its fins with his foot.

Later the boy shows his friend an enlarged photo of Cap on the rocket as it flew over. OK, I'm familiar with photography, especially film photography, and I want to know what kind of super-fine grain film he was using that was so sensitive he could used a fast shutter to freeze the image in the dark. I mean did he shoot with Kodak Tri-XXXXXXX with an ASA of 400,000?

As in the comics the rocket crashes into the arctic. Cap falls into suspended animation until his body is freed decades later and he lives again.

He learns the Red Skull is still alive but with a new look. In fact his name should've been Reddish Scarface. No explanation is given to the absence of the gory head casing. Maybe it dried out, scabbed up, and then fell apart.

The Red Skull now operates like a Mafia godfather. I forgot to mention he's now Italian with the typical gun-toting thugs at this command. (Any tie in with the Red Brigades?)

The actor portraying the Red Skull, Scott Paulin, doesn't ham it up like Joseph Culp as Dr. Doom in the unreleased Fantastic Four (1994) movie. And I have to give credit to Matt Salinger as Captain America for some good acting even though the character is made to look stupid a couple of times in the film. For example after Cap takes out an opponent he smashes the third wall, giving the viewer a goofy smug smile.

This production obviously suffered from its cheap budget. In an interview Salinger said the production kept running out of money. His Cap uniform was made of rubber and while filming during the hot weather he almost passed out. After a scene was done he would removed the oversized red boots and pour out the accumulated sweat water.

Oddly enough the producers spent some money on the audio with Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording. I experienced the film with my tablet and ear buds but the sound was pretty good. There's nothing like hearing a car racing inside your head from left to right.

You can watch both The Thing From Another World and Captain America for free online. The first film is available at commercial free and the latter can be found on YouTube with annoying ads to be skipped.

And don't forget: Watch the skies.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Click Here To Learn The Scandalous Truth About Clickbait!!

Archetypal Clickbait Comic Cover

No, Superman didn't die unlike the more recent event. By the time I read this comic in the 1960s I was getting tired of Kal-El. He was too powerful. 

For example he's on a date with Lois Lane one night and the moon starts falling towards the earth. So Superman just flies up and fixes the problem.

Even as Superboy Kal-El was one step below God. Challenged to perform impossible tasks Superboy stands on his head. People say, "So what?" He tells them to check with the local observatory. Astronomers are shocked that the earth has moved out of its orbit. With his impossible task completed Superboy just puts the world back into proper orbit. Of course with the moon's gravitational pull still in effect one would think his moving trick wouldn't be that easy. No earthquakes or tidal waves.

It got the the point that I wished Superman would die. That's why I started reading Spider-Man. He didn't web the moon back into correct orbit while on a date. In the early issues he would get bruised in a fistfight. He was strong but not that strong. But over the years like Superman Peter Parker's strength has increased to the point that he could sneeze and rip off Mary Jane's clothes. Instead of hauling out the kryptonite the writers will have to weaken Spidey with DDT.

Marvel Clickbait Cover -- How Could You, House of Ideas?

In the early days Marvel drew more fans than DC/National Periodicals because it didn't recycle the same old crap. But here's an example of old crap, a Marvel cover using the same blurbs as DC to claim that a key character was indeed taking a dirt nap. Some third rate character called the Changeling was impersonating Prof X so that the real Xavier could pursue a secret mission, a fact hidden from the X-Men. So it was a hoax, it wasn't real. Too bad no one filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission about deceptive business practices.

CBR: Clickbait Bamboozles Readers

Yup, I'm on anti-clickbait kick.

Comic Book Resources has stooped into the deceptive luring of readers. The above image is accompanied by the shocking headline: 15 MCU Scandals Marvel Tried To Bury. Scandal -- as in sex? As in Spider-Man portrayer Tom Holland committed a shocking transgression to this innocent girl (see the red arrow!) while she was taking a shower.

Forget it. If you watch the YouTube video [ ] you won't see the distressed naked babe. Instead you'll learn about a series of controversies like a director didn't like a producer, typical Hollywood gossip.