Saturday, November 17, 2012

El Professore Movie Reviews: Hercules in the Center of the Earth (aka Hercules in the Haunted World)

Director: Mario Bava
Starring: Reg Park, Christopher Lee
* * *

Rarely has someone done so much with so little throughout his career as Mario Bava. Originally a painter (which explains why nearly every one of his low budgeters look so gorgeous), turned cinematographer, Bava finally got his big break in 1960, where he got to direct his first film, the gory, gothic masterpiece, 'The Mask of Satan' (better known here in the States as 'Black Sunday'. It was a shocking (for it's time) hit that showed Bava a master of B/W horror. For his followup, he tackled the Peplum genre that was peaking in Italy at the time and lensed 'Hercules in the Center of the World' (better known in the States under it's more exploitive title of 'Hercules in the Haunted World'). This film showed he was equally adept filming in color.

Full review after the jump.

Nerd History: Pop Music!

Nerd History is taking a bit of a weekday absence, providing you instead with some weekend treats. I've also been battling a pretty bad cold all week, so you'll have to settle for some interesting stuff about how pop music has changed in the last few decades:

In the 1960s, 85 percent of the songs were written in a major key, compared with only about 40 percent of them now. Broadly speaking, the sound has shifted from bright and happy to something more complicated.


America’s popular songs have also become slower and longer. When the researchers analyzed the beats per minutes (BPM) of each song, they found a decrease from an average 116 BPM in the 1960s to approximately 100 BPM in the 2000s. Songs in the 1960s tended to run under three minutes, whereas more recent hits are longer, around four minutes on average.

If pop music is more complicated, great! My ears still can't handle Rihanna (but perk up at Shonen Knife) so what do I know, though?

RPG Nerds Unite At TeeFury! (Today Only)

TeeFury hit my nerd-nerve today with Adams Pinto's "Critical Hit" t-shirt design.

It's an awesome visual of those rare, yet extremely memorable moments in gaming. Wear this shirt for an instant +2 Charisma, and jealous stares from your gamer friends. 

You can pick up this shirt for just $10, but it's only available until midnight EST tonight.

Also, check back next week for our Holiday Gift Guide to Awesome T-Shirts. Always one of my favorite gifts to give.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Two Sents: A Wreck-It Ralph Two Sentence Review

Beautiful writing and production puts this on par with Toy Story and other classics, but the cameo-filled, retro-nodding, classic video game arcade setting makes it just that much cooler. Seriously, even Tapper makes an appearance.

Hot Toys Coulson!

If YOU were the adult collectible guru company Hot Toys and you wanted to release the first images of a fairly niche Avengers-universe character to the audience who (fairly literally) resurrected him, how would you  do it?


Oh, I'm feelin' you Cap. I really really am. Head below the cut for more pictures and general Coul-squee.

Thank GIF it's Friday

It's Friday bitcheeeeeessssss!

Let's not leave the weekend feeling like we were a second-rate sequel, okay? Okay.

Book Review: The James Bond Omnibus Vol. 004!

With Skyfall exploding all around the world, why not reminisce with some James Bond action of the past? Our friends at Titan Books have been reprinting omnibi of classic Bond comic strips, which originally made their debut in British newspaper The Daily Express from 1958. But don’t fret, the strips collected in this volume are from the far sexier seventies!

Admittedly I’m kind of late to this party. Titan have recently released The James Bond Omnibus (vol. 004) - written by Jim Lawrence with art by Yaroslav Horak - and this is the one I have in hand. So I’ve missed the comic adaptations of Fleming’s original novels such as Dr. No - but if tales with names such as The League of Vampires, The Girl Machine and The Nevsky Nude pique your interest then there’s still plenty of hard-drinking, villain-punching, woman-pounding fun to be had. So put on your white tuxedo jacket - we might be late but we’re at the party now!

To find out what I thought of all this... join me after the jump!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Readthrough of Time: New Spring

We're back on board with the Readthrough of Time, now moving to New Spring, a prequel published first as a novella in the Legends compilation and later expanded into a larger book.

Considering how immensely negative I was about Crossroads of Twilight, going back to a prequel, which one assumes will spend too much time on stuff that doesn't matter, would work out poorly. I was happy to be wrong.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I may be living under a rock, or a hill, or the sewers... but I TOTALLY didn't see these new Lego 2013 images until just now. Did we know that Lego TMNT is on its way? And did we know that it looks awesome?

I want that Kraang so bad! 

And the LOTR / Hobbit sets are looking pretty sweet too. Here is the Goblin King Battle.

Click through the jump for more photos, more drooling, and more info on the upcoming sets.

Let's Listen to The Hobbit Score!

Got a hankering for hairy little men? Can't wait a whole more month? Want to squeeze the residue off their hairy little feet and pour it into your eager ears? Well the folks at Empire have you covered! Thanks to their tiny fantasy widget you can listen to Howard Shore's entire score for The Hobbit: Part One: Bilbo Eats a Potato and Goes For a Walk for free! That's right! Go on! Do it now! Waiting is for suckers! Howard? Sure!

Click here to put Middle Earth in your middle ear!

Cut damn you! Stupid potato!
It's quite beautiful, huh? I'm enjoying listening to it and imaging my own movie. In my version, he not only eats a potato but he also puts a little bit of butter on it! For three hours. What do you imagine when you listen to The Hobbit score alone in your room? Tell us in the comments section!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stryder's Favourite Comics - 11/07/2012

Hey folks!  Happy Diwali!  Welcome to a whole new month of comic books!  I have to say, the first week of November started with a much so that I'm having a hard time deciding what comic to put pre-jump, as I liked them all so much!  Well, when in doubt, I always go with...Batman!  In this case, starring in:

Detective Comics #14 - "Breaking the law only works on your terms.  Isn't that right, Batman?  I'm doing the right thing.  For Gotham...and for the planet."

As this issue of Detective Comics opens, Bruce Wayne is saved from certain death due to an assassination attempt!  His rescuer?  The Penguin!  Of course, since we read last issue, we know that Penguin was also the one who hired the assassin.  Bruce is NOT happy...

Ironically then, Batman ends up trying to HELP the Penguin as the story progresses, by attempting to take down Poison Ivy before she can blow up Shandy Pharmaceuticals, a drug company that's responsibly for some major environmental damage.  Oh, and it's owned by The Penguin!  When Damian asks why he would bother trying to stop Ivy, Batman replies: "Ivy's endangering others.  Herself.  And Gotham...It's the right thing to do."  Argue with that, Boy Wonder!

Oh, amusingly, Alfred is still missing but no-one's worried about it, even though it seems like he's been gone a while.  He didn't bring Damian breakfast (not that he deserves it!).  I imagine we'll find out just what's happened to him next week as "Death of a Family" continues in Batman #14!

New Before Watchmen, Action Comics, Green Lantern and more after the JUMP!!

The Book Was Better Podcast! Teaser for Episode 31!

The Book Was Better is the podcast where Jessica and I tear into the hastily written book-of-the-film! In this week’s teaser mini-episode we open amazing presents live on air, sent to us by our awesome listeners! It's sort of like Christmas, except we get stuff and you don't!

We also reveal which horrendous sequel we will be reading/watching/enduring next week when we check back in with some of the most wretched characters of all!

You can download it right now from the official site, or why not subscribe to us on iTunes? It will make me feel like a big, important man!

Kickstart the Week: Fist of Awesome by Nicoll Hunt

...and the Kickstarter Video of the Year award goes to Fist of Awesome!

FIST OF AWESOME is a time-travelling-lumberjack-em-up, a sorely underrepresented genre by anyone's metric. It's a modern homage to classics like Streets of Rage and Final Fight, but with more time travel and lumberjacks.
Nicoll Hunt (of I Fight Bears) put together a sweet little video for Fist of Awesome, which just so happens to look like a sweet little game. It's an iOS/Android side scrolling beat-em-up with characters in the style of the old Sierra classics (King's Quest, Police Quest), and lots of woodland creatures to punch.

My biggest gripe with games like this on touch devices is the control scheme. But from reading the Kickstarter listing, Nicoll is clearly concerned with that as well. It's very comforting to read that "the primary goal of the system is to ensure that you never look at the placement of your fingers to pull off any move. Touchscreen violence will never be the same again."

The project is currently at 20% of its £5,000 goal, with 28 days to go. With a low priced digital game, it's hard to break out on Kickstarter, but Fist of Awesome is off to a great start. You can jump in for a copy of the game at £5 (that's $8 for US cheapskates) or go all out and add the Echolevel chip tunes soundtrack, a poster, a t-shirt, and more. At £200 you'll get everything, plus an appearance as a background character in the game, and at £500 you will be a playable character. YOU TOO CAN PUNCH A BEAR IN THE MOUTH.

Check out Fist of Awesome on Kickstarter:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Halo 4! It's Kind of Boring!

Halo 4 is an extremely polished, visually stunning, sci-fi/action sequel that is not nearly as fun as it should be. Which is probably a controversial opinion to have. A glance at the Metacritic paints a different picture entirely with most major reviewers awarding high nineties to perfect hundreds, so why did I continually struggle to connect? Why do large portions of the campaign feel like a repetitive chore? Haven’t we experienced a lot of this before?

To find out what went wrong (but also what they got right)... join me after the jump!

David Tennant Does the Clone Wars!

George Takei voiced Lok Durd, Simon Pegg voiced Dengar, and now ex-Doctor David Tennant has been officially absorbed into the rapidly expanding Star Wars saga. He plays ancient droid lightsaber expert/archivist Huyang in the latest animated Clone Wars episode A Test of Strength which follows a bunch of sassy, wide-eyed Jedi younglings who are attempting to custom build their baby’s-first-lightsaber. You can get a taste of his performance in this preview clip here:

More than just a cameo, Huyang is present for the entire episode and there’s no doubt that Tennant manages to give him an energy and import that is necessary to make us care about another silly robot. The fact that he’s providing some previously unrevealed Jedi lore is an added bonus. Plus he totally schools those obnoxious kids!

I've been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about Clone Wars Season Five, now seven episodes in, but if you want to hear my general thoughts so far... join me after the jump!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

El Professore Movie Reviews: Lady Frankenstein

Director: Mel Welles
Starring: Joseph Cotton, Rosalba Neri
* * *
Mel Welles has been one of my favorite character actors ever since I first saw him as the unforgettable flower store owner (and English language mangler), Gravis Mushnik in Roger Corman's immortal 'Little Shop of Horrors'. O.K. admittedly he's done nothing else before or since that comes close, but that one portrayal was enough to make me a lifelong fan. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered what a cinema entrepreneur he actually was. As it turns out, 'Little Shop...' was his last in the U.S. He decided to take his show on the road and headed to Europe where his ubiquitous skills (he could write, direct and produce as well as act) served him well. While in Italy, he directed things like the horror film, 'Island of the Dead' (aka 'Maneater of Hydra') and the violent spy sendup, 'Our Man in Jamaica'. Eventually, Welles returned to the States where he achieved immortality among Kaiju fans by scripting and dubbing the English language version of the Japanese superhero show, 'Spectreman' (yes, not only did he write the loopy dialogue, but that's his voice you hear in several main characters). Before departing Italy, he directed the feature he's perhaps best known for, the erotic horror 'Lady Frankenstein'.

Full review after the jump.