Saturday, October 20, 2012

El Professore Movie Review: Goke - Body Snatcher From Hell

Director: Hajime Sato
Starring: Teruo Yoshida, Tomomi Sato, Eizo Kitamura, Hideo Ko, Kathy Horan
* * * *
Hajime Sato is one of my favorite directors and one of Japan's most talented eccentrics. Though he's lensed only a handful of films, each bear his lively and visually inventive mark. Among these are a the Bavaesque haunted house horror, 'Ghost of the Hunchback' (1964); the underwater adventure, 'Terror Beneath the Sea' and the superheroic 'Golden Bat' (both from 1966 and both starring a young Sonny Chiba). In 1968, Sato unleashed his masterpiece, 'Goke - Body Snatcher From Hell', one of the gaudiest, most bizarre and frightening sci fi/horror pictures of the '60s'.

Click through the jump for the full review.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Insane Superman Exploders Commercial Eerily Foreshadows New Movie!

Zack Snyder's 2013 Superman movie, Man of Steel, in still some time away, but for now we can pique our curiosity as to what it may entail thanks to this new commercial for the clearly batshit insane line of tie-in Superman Exploders. Clearly research has proven that the modern child has no patience for creating complex narratives with their toys and instead want to wildly fling them across the room with reckless abandon, smashing and knocking over all and sundry, preferably while screaming loudly. I still blame Angry Birds!

Seriously... what the crap is going on here...

If you can get past the fact that Superman now has long stretchy arms so that you can smash a vase or violently catapult him into a pet or sibling's face, you'll also get some insight into the fact that Man of Steel appears to star a pale, bald General Zod as the major villain, complete with robot army. I guess at least this will provide more opportunities for action than Superman having a bastard son and crying. 

However, I do hope that this raucous new trend in toy design continues. Perhaps the hottest gift this Christmas will be a Furby that you take out of the box, kick the shit out of, and throw through a window. Well played!

Thank GIF It's Friday!

Take THAT, working week!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Star Wars Angry Birds, Jenga?

By now we've all seen the Star Wars Angry Birds images, but have you seen the holy trinity of Star Wars, Angry Birds and Jenga? I had no clue such a thing existed until our very own Luke Milton pointed it out.

The Jenga connection puzzled me, and even after seeing the toys in stores, I'm still a little bit puzzled. Half go the upcoming toys are branded as Jenga, and at a glance, that branding only seems to add dice to the mix. The non-Jenga toys come with the same style bricks (which I would have thought were the Jenga reference), and they come with the same style figures. The dice makes it more of a game, but doesn't scream Jenga to me. 

Either way, my Angry Birds obsessed children freaked out. They've been playing anything Angry Birds for the last month (it is strange how fast this obsession developed) and bought the terribly reviewed last set of toys. And they love them. My 2 year old son will actually sleep with his Angry Birds toys in-hand. It's that intense.

So, buying the Star Wars sets wasn't even a question. We bought the non-Jenga-branded Cantina pack and some of the blind packaged bird/pig figures. Click through the jump for a look at both, as well as information on whether or not the all new slingshot actually works. 

The Books of Beginning: The Successor to Harry Potter That You Aren't Reading But Should Be

Putting aside Harry Potter, the landscape of children's fantasy is...strange. You have your classics (Redwall, various magical series from Lloyd Alexander, Fablehaven, etc), plenty of modern attempts to replicate Harry Potter or Tolkien (Eragon, anyone?). The modern stuff in particular repeatedly leaves me cold, though. Especially when you're looking for fantasy books with appeal to all genders, since most of the middle grade fiction that's not about sports or various wimpy/nerdy children is geared, intentionally or otherwise, toward girls, you really end up wanting something to fill that gap.

And, certainly, it's a hard genre. With the gender gap in reading so pronounced in the United States, fantasy especially becomes difficult to market and promote to a wide audience. Push a love story too much or even put a girl on the cover, and you're losing half the possible readers. Focus too much on aggression and you might turn off a lot of the younger female readers, but publishers don't worry about that because the gender gap results in fewer books being published for boys. It's frustrating.

So, with all this in mind? The Books of Beginning by John Stephens are absolutely some of the best middle grade fantasy written in the last decade, and not nearly enough people know it. The first book, The Emerald Atlas, came out to high acclaim in 2011, and the sequel, The Fire Chronicle, just came out a couple weeks ago. You need to be reading these books.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 10/10/2012

It's all about BATMAN this week with the much-anticipated return of The Joker!  Let's get right into it...

Batman #13 - "Hellooo, Gotham's Finest!  Now stop me if you've heard this one..."

With the above words, the Joker returns to Gotham City.  Or if you'd rather, "A clown walks into a police station, looking for his FACE!  HAHAHA!"

The Joker has been missing in action since the very first issue of Detective Comics in the New 52.  However, his presence has often been felt around the edges, most creepily in the remains of his face, preserved on ice in the evidence locker of the GCPD after it was left for them to find one year ago.  Now, the Clown Prince is BACK and this time, he's not interested in pulling punches.  Already in this one comic, you get a sense of danger and madness unparalleled in any other Joker appearance I've ever read.  This Joker is (ok, I know, what a cliche!) WILD!!!

"Death of the Family" is going to be THE epic story this year.  Starting here, it crosses over to most of the Bat titles and will be ongoing until February and Batman #17Scott Snyder's "love letter to the Joker" promises to be a must-read!  Who would have thought that the now-classic "Court of Owls" story-line was just a warm-up?  Amazing!

More "Death of the Family" with Batgirl, plus Dr. Manhattan, The Phantom Stranger and more after the JUMP!!

Nerd History: Expensive Video Game Prototypes and Lost Games

I've always found the market for video game prototypes to be rather strange and fascinating all at once. With the recent attempted sale of a Final Fantasy II NES prototype getting attention for its $50k price tag, Boing Boing did some uncovering of some of the biggest sales.

My favorite rare game, for what it's worth, isn't a prototype at all but rather a gold cartridge considered the "holy grail" for collectors, the Nintendo World Championships game which was part of a massive tournament from Nintendo. The weirdest one I'm aware of is a Legend of Zelda title that was a downloadable title for a Japanese satellite system. All very strange.

Any old prototypes or lost games that tickle your fancy?

The Book Was Better Podcast: Teaser for Episode 29!

In this week's teaser mini episode of The Book Was Better podcast, Jessica and I get the skinny on Christopher Lloyd slumming it in S Club 8, plus we reveal the next movie novelization we will be ripping mercilessly into next week! Can you guess which fan-favourite franchise we're about to revisit? 

Find out everything you need to know by downloading it from the official site, or why not subscribe to us on itunes so that we can burst into your head every single frigging week! Come on! Give us the keys to your ears!

Review: Dishonored (Xbox 360)

A mix of Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed and a little bit of Batman, Bethesda’s latest offering, Dishonored, feels instantly familiar, and yet beneath its surface lurks a surprising depth and versatility which makes its experience both personal and unique. 

Set in a plague-ridden, steampunk, dystopian England laced with strange machines and dark magic, you play the role of the Empress’ personal bodyguard, Corvo, who is “dishonored” when he is wrongfully accused of her assassination. Armed with a slew of high-tech gadgetry mixed with hand-picked supernatural abilities and a fancy mechanical mask, it’s your job to quash the conspiracy and restore child heir Emily to her rightful place on the throne. It’s up to you whether you want to do this in a noisy torrent of blood, or sweep in like a ghost, completely undetected. Plus it’s a hell of a lot of fun!

If any of that sounds good to you then join me after the jump for some jugular puncturing action!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Unpub Protozone At Congress Of Gamers - Recap

Congress of Gamers is a small(ish) gathering of board gamers in Rockville, MD, just outside of Washington DC. It's just under 3 hours from my house, so I took the long solo drive down to see what it was all about. I really had no clue going into it because 1) Like I said, it's small(ish), 2) It's only been around for a few years, and 3) Their website is a little rough. Just finding out the location requires the user to channel their inner internet detective.

Even walking up to it, I still had no clue what to expect. The event was in a Senior Center, which sounds like it'll be a one or two room building, but this was bigger than most high schools. Tons of themed rooms, with tones of things to do. It made me want to skip 30 years into the future just to have the possibility of hanging out at one of these places.

But I was there to play games. The main room had a whole bunch of people playing Power Grid at once, with a silent Board Game Auction happening along side of it. Instead, I spent my time in the Unpub Protozone, a room for established, and up-and-coming designers to demo their new and unpublished games. The mood was very upbeat and creative in there, with a lot of great minds huddled around each game. I only played a few, and photographed a few more, but overall had a great time.

Click through the jump for the full recap.

Review: Ewok Overload! Hasbro's Exclusive Ewok Figure Packs!

Let me tell you something about ewoks. Something you won't learn in your fancy schools. Ewoks are awesome. I don't want to hear a word about "teddy bears" or "merchandise" or "cutesy cash-cows". Ewoks are badass little murder-bears who practice witchcraft and frigging eat people. They were going to eat Han Solo and absorb his powers of smuggling, smirking and macking on ladies. If you're too cynical to appreciate an ewok then I am done with you.

Hasbro's 3 3/4 inch action figure line only manages to pump out an ewok once or twice a year but, for some inexplicable reason, 2012 has become the ewok mother lode! This year we get no less than seven unique new arboreal bear-buggers for our shelves, thanks to two new multipacks. The only catch? They are both hard-to-find US exclusives, one from Toys R Us and the other from K-Mart.

But lookee here, I managed to find them both!

And if you want to know what I thought of these fuzzy fuggers... join me after the jump!

Inside HBO's Game of Thrones!!

Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones is balanced delicately between a lore compendium (though I’m sure the GRRM enthusiasts would snigger at such a broad-stroke volume being considered a serious lore compendium) and a Making Of. It’s probably a valid argument that by the very nature of a fantasy series a book like this would have to cover a reasonable chunk of lore – but hey, it don’t matter. I thoroughly enjoyed every and all aspects of this.

Join me after the jump for Beanage! For costuming! For badassery! Though no boobs, I feel obliged to warn you, though it is an HBO production.


No longer just a hopeful internet catchphrase, it has been confirmed at NYCC that Agent Phil Coulson does in fact live. We last saw our favourite dry-witted SHIELD buddy on the wrong end of a Loki shish kebab in The Avengers, and while it all looked pretty final (he was checking OUT, you guys!) Joss Whedon has confirmed that not only is Coulson going to be in the upcoming tv spinoff, he is (and I quote) "...headlining the S.H.I.E.L.D show and always was."


I'm interested to know if 'always' really was 'always' or just 'since the internet went batshit crazy for Coulson'. The suggestion is at this stage that the tv show will run alongside the Marvel movie universe, which hopefully will leave the door open to cameos from the movie cast. Cause the last time Jeremy Renner was in a Joss Whedon show it just worked out SO well...

S'up, Nsync?
*purges brain* The early 00's were tough on us all. No word yet on WHEN we'll get to treat ourselves to a weekly dose of Coulson, but with rumours circulating that production would be getting underway 'immediately', we're holding out hope that there might even be a pilot before the next Marvel 'Verse movie. Stay tuned for news as it comes to light, and probably a few more barely contextually appropriate pictures of Jeremy Renner.