Friday, January 18, 2008

What's a sampasumb?

Here's the thing. When I was a kid, I was really into the whole comic book/superhero thing. Had the box of comics under the bed, those little Mego superhero dolls, and when I thought I was alone I'd imagine tossing cars (and bad guys) around with my superhuman strength.

Huh. Actually, I still have the comics and Mego dolls. Very little tossing of cars and bad guys going on these days, though.

Anyway. In 1978, which put me about 11 (not quite to the "I'm too old/cool for comics" phase), Pocket Books came out with a bunch of novels featuring Marvel Comics characters. The series was called (....wait for it....) the "Marvel Novel Series", and there were 11 books in the set:
  1. Mayhem in Manhattan (Spider-Man)
  2. Stalker from the Stars (the Incredible Hulk)
  3. Cry of the Beast ( the Hulk)
  4. Holocaust for Hire (Captain America)
  5. Doomsday (the Fantastic Four)
  6. And Call My Killer . . . Modok! (Iron Man)
  7. Nightmare (Doctor Strange)
  8. Crime Campaign (Spider-Man)
  9. The Marvel Super-Heroes (an anthology of four short stories, featuring the Avengers, Daredevil, the Hulk, and the X-Men)
  10. The Man Who Stole Tomorrow (the Avengers)
  11. Murdermoon (Spider-Man and the Hulk)
Being a resourceful kid, I managed to get my hands on most of the books as they came out, and read 'em like there was no tomorrow. (Hey, one of the books was The Man Who Stole Tomorrow. Get it?) Anyway, to my 11 year old brain, the books were high art. I really wolfed 'em down.


Having re-read most of the books as an adult, I'm here to say they were not fine literature. Truth be told, they were pretty bad. See, these were a bunch of comic book writers trying their hands as full-fledged novelists. Bit of a stretch from a 32 page picture book to 200+ pages of settings, plot and theme. I'm not saying any of these guys didn't go on to write a best seller later - maybe they did. But these books were not them.

So. All that said and done, Cry of the Beast was the very best of the lot, hands down. (That the Hulk happened to be my favorite character, was just green icing on the cake.)

Ah, the Hulk.... I still remember that tagline from the top of each comic issue's first page:
Caught in the heart of a nuclear explosion, victim of gamma radiation gone wild, Doctor Robert Bruce Banner now finds himself transformed in times of stress into seven feet, one thousand pounds of unfettered fury - the most powerful creature to ever walk the earth - The Incredible Hulk!
Great stuff.

Which brings us to my long overdue point. In Cry of the Beast, the word "Sampasumb" is mumbled by Bruce Banner as he's slowly returning to consciousness, having just "Hulked out" and kicked a bunch of bad guys' butts.

And I always liked the sound of it.

So, as your special treat for reading through all of the above - here's the sampasumb excerpt in it's entirety:
"Bruce...Bruce, please wake up."
Banner felt like tiny sheets of flypaper were stuck onto his eyes. With an effort, he tore them open.
"Oh, thank heavens. Are you all right?" the voice asked.
His body felt like a sack of dirty socks and his head felt like the wicker hamper they'd been thrown in.
"Sampasumb," he replied with lips of lead.
What's not to love?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Reincarnation [Rinne] (2005)

This movie has it all:
  • Creepy Ghost Face in Mirror? ...Check.
  • Dark and Deserted Library Ghouls? ...Check.
  • Bloody Walking Dead Zombies? ...Check.
  • Terrifying Self-Animated Talking Doll? ...Check!
I LOVED it! I don't know if you will, but I thought it was the creepiest horror film I've seen in a long time. After I rented it and watched it, I bought it (at least, it's on the way from Amazon).

What's not to love?!
From "The premise of the film is that big-time Japanese director Matsumura is making a horror film about a real life mass murder that took place in a nearby Osaka hotel. He casts fresh young actress Suguira as the female lead and final victim. As soon as Suguira joins the cast, she begins experiencing memories of the night of the murders, as if she had lived through the events herself.... But which victim was she?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mammoth (2006)


Um... no.

You can safely pass on this one. I couldn't pass on it - I mean, it's got a living, breathing people-killing prehistoric BEAST on the cover. It doesn't matter how bad the film may be, with a cover like that, I'm in.

But you need not be. To be fair, the movie doesn't take itself seriously - it's designed from the start to make fun of the whole B-Movie genre. There are lots of laughs and in-jokes during dialogue, and the actors themselves are clearly making fun of... themselves.

But even being a fan of B-Movies, I didn't laugh out loud once during the film. In fact, I didn't even smile. I did kind of half-smile on the inside - once or twice - though.

Even the film plot doesn't take itself too seriously - it's not just a prehistoric-beast-on-the-rampage movie, it's a prehistoric-beast-possessed-by-an-alien-on-the-rampage movie.

So, you know.

About the only reason I'd recommend the movie is if you want to see the CGI mammoth effects. But... they're not really worth it, either. If the movie was pre-T2, the effects would be impressive, but as it is they're too little and too... CGI-ey.

Here's the plot blurb from the movie's website:
When a meteor smashes into a Pleistocene museum, the fury of a partially frozen, 40,000-year-old mammoth is unleashed on a small country town.

Under orders to contain the threat posed by the mammoth at all costs, Special Agents Powers (Leila Arcieri) and Whitaker (Marcus Lyle Brown) are given 17 hours to kill the mammoth or else the entire town will be decimated. The agents recruit local paleontologist Dr. Frank Abernathy (Vincent Ventresca) to help them hunt down the creature before its rampage of death and destruction reaches the outside world.

With the clock ticking and the body count rising, the only chance Dr. Abernathy has of saving his daughter, Jack (Summer Glau), and B-movie-fanatic father, Simon (Tom Skerritt), is to help the agents destroy his life's work.
Notice how the blurb doesn't really mention the whole alien possession angle?

Wonder why.


Friday, January 4, 2008

January's Monster Movie of the Month - The Blob (1958)

So the 2008 calendar I bought for my desk is all about monster movies of the 1950s - you know, one movie for each month of the year.

And I had this thought: "Hey, I could write a review about each movie I've seen in the month it's on the calendar!" And if I haven't seen the film, I'll just rent it that month.

So here we are.

THIS movie, I've seen a few times, but not for several years. Well, not true - I watched part of it at my little brother's house a couple of months ago.

The plot boils down to an extraterrestrial gob of sentient jelly terrorizing this little town; the jelly gob gets bigger each time it "eats" someone (i.e. oozes all over them until they dissolve - ick).

Thing is, this blob thing moves sooooooo slowly, it's kind of ludicrous anyone is caught by it at all. But they are - have to do things like fall down in fear or inadvertantly back themselves into a corner.

Anyway. The Blob ends up getting frozen at the end ('cause everyone knows you can't spread frozen jelly, nor can frozen gobs of alien jelly terrorize).

I think the movie's two claims to fame (cult status) are it's lead actor, Steve McQueen, who went on to become a major star in the 60s and 70s, and it's super cheesy theme song (that plays during the opening credits).