Naika Reviews “Night of the Creeps”

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Looking to get revved up for Halloween this week?  Then definitely get the DVD player up and running for Fred Dekker’s homage to horror in the entertaining 1986 cult-hit Night of the Creeps.  It’s a fun, goofy romp with great effects, a cheezy college plot and one awesome acting job from Tom Atkins, who plays the grizzled, kick-ass Detective Ray Cameron.  Gore, flamethrowers and awesome one-liners ensue as our heroes, two would-be college sweethearts and a handicapped best pal, along with Cameron, fight alien slugs that zombify people.  Who comes up with this stuff?

The basic plot goes like this: In 1959, an alien experiment crashes onto a college makeout spot and infects frat boy Johnny while his lady friend (who just happens to be the ex-girlfriend of the aforementioned Detective Ray Cameron) is murdered by an escaped mental patient.  Flash forward to the 80s and best friends Chris Romero & J.C. Hooper are in a frat party as Chris pines over resident sorority hottie Cynthia Cronenberg (yes, many of the surnames in this movie are from prominent horror directors of the time).  Chris is convinced that the only way to Cynthia’s heart is to join a frat, and therefore, frat-hat Brad demands that Chris and J.C. find a corpse in the research campus to place on a rival frat as a prank.  However, Chris and J.C. inadvertenly find the infected Johnny from 1959 who is in cryo-sleep and releases him.  Full of alien slugs, zombie Johnny begins spreading his zombieness to others, creating more slug-infested zombies.  With Detective Cameron sensing the danger as well, it’s up to Chris, J.C. & Cynthia to do the deed and beat the slugs.

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This comes highly recommended from me since zombie heads exploding with alien slugs are hard to beat, but the gore and the one liners also make the movie stick out in your head.  Ray Cameron has the BEST one-liners in the movie, maybe in all movies ever, as he kicks ass in all grizzled forms.  The effects of the slugs are well done, while the effects of the gory zombies are remarkable.  Lastly, the film is written well and has some brilliant execution, and the way things tie together from past events is a huge plus.  80s cheese could be an issue for those who may not be familiar with it, but if you check your expectations at the door, then you’re in for some serious fun.  Get the popcorn, turn out the lights and definitely watch Night of the Creeps….just make sure your date isn’t dead.

Images courtesy of IMFDB.org.

Naika Reviews “Black Jack OVA” (1992-2000)

 

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Osamu Tezuka’s macabre medical man gets a well-deserved OVA series thanks to the greatness of his former protege Osamu Dezaki (God rest his soul), a masterful director with a knack for grit, noir and dramatic freeze frames.  Space Cobra, Rose of Versailles and Ashita no Joe are only but a sampling of what Dezaki has helmed, so it’s no surprise that he would be the right man to bring to life the dark and strange world that would surround our titular hero, the unlicensed surgical genius known as Black Jack.

My first glimpse of Black Jack however was through Manga Video’s release of the 1996 movie (also helmed by Dezaki) on VHS, a tape that I treasured in the late 90’s.  Filled with awesome visuals and an epic sense of dread, the film would’ve been a great primer for me had I tuned in to those OVAs.  Despite my awareness of those episodes, I was unable to sit down and view them until 2014, and by then, a new TV series and film had already emerged. However, judging by the way the new stuff looks, I’d pass it up happily to see anything related to Dezaki because these OVAs are hard to top.

From the start, Black Jack is rife with gorgeous animation that blends the vintage wonder of Tezuka’s designs with the modern edginess that is typical of all things Dezaki.  Pinoko’s happy interactions with everyone, from lovable gangsters to choir boys with folliage in their eye sockets, is evidence of this as she skips behind our brooding doctor with joyful abandon.  This is also emphasized with Dezaki’s careful use of light, where characters are shaded immaculately under a variety of backdrops that include sunstroked forests, surgical exam lamps and neon skylines.  Another plus here is how well movement is depicted. From the first incision to the rush of guerilla soldiers firefighting in the jungle, the motions of all the characters in Black Jack are smooth and dramatic.  Rounding it all off are Dezaki’s awesome freeze frames, which add an explosive exclamation point to any situation depicted, especially when it comes to action.  Much of this art, from the freeze frames to the character designs, is all thanks to Dezaki’s longtime collaborator Akio Sugino, a man who kicks moe to the can with a heavy dose of “adult” and “mature.”  To put it bluntly, Black Jack is eye candy for grown-ups, and that’s how I like it.

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However, let’s not forget that at the core of all of this lush imagery is a tale about an underworld miracle worker.  Black Jack pulls no punches when it comes to his fee, since he can apparently do colon resections under gunfire while sipping Kood-Aid (I jest), but that makes it all the more worthwhile to watch when he encounters situations that have him baffled beyond belief (the OVA’s first episode being a great example of this).  Furthermore, Black Jack’s many cases veer into the realm of the supernatural that fixes you to the screen, where we find his sound medical science being challenged constantly by phenomena that he simply cannot explain.  Talking abdominal tumors, geyser vomit and dreamy trips to the Sengoku era are only but a sampling of what he encounters throughout the OVA series, but don’t jump in expecting that he’ll do battle with the Overfiend.  Black Jack is written well without pretending to be anything more than what it is (an OVA), and overall, that’s good enough for me.

Dezaki’s Black Jack OVA series is a dark and suspenseful look at a man who walks between the crossroads of medical science, morality and the supernatural.  Told in grand fashion thanks to some great animation, Black Jack is a reminder that great viewing doesn’t necessarily have to be a Studio Ghibli epic or a poorly drawn schlock-fest.  Although it can be dismissed as a medical thriller on the surface, Black Jack’s chilling cases rise to the occasion once we witness their eventual descent into the macabre.  Black Jack might be the very best in his profession, but even he must submit to the realization that no matter what he does, there always seems to be something much larger happening beyong his comprehension.

Images courtesy of stellarsisters.com

Happy 4th of July and Other Things

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Yes, once again, I emerge from another hiatus to wish you all a Happy 4th of July, and what better way to say that than with a lewd photo of Tina Armstrong right?  Muhahahahaha!!

Much has happened during this hiatus including a trip to China with me and the GF, Arsenal ending their trophy drought with the FA Cup and the thrill of watching another World Cup, which has culminated into one hell of a game for the U.S. as they ended their campaign with a loss to Belgium.

The GF and I will traveling to St. Augustine this 4th of July, but weather reports have come in that Hurricane Arthur will be sweeping by the coast.  It apparently won’t hit mind you, but assuming it does, it might hurl lances at us with the Ghouls and Ghosts theme playing in the background.  Anyways, here’s my little blip on the blog.  Hopefully, I’ll update with more thoughts soon, especially since YouTube effectively eliminated my account (more on that later).  Unitl then, have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!!

Phil McNulty & Celebrations

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I’m sure you all know that this has been a very up and down season for Arsenal, especially since we’ve been number 1 in the Premier League for quite some length, only for it all to topple as we now remain at 5th.  Now, I won’t add to what others have mentioned already, but let me just say that it hurts as a fan. 

Yesterday, Arsenal gave us a dogged, grind-it-out, ugly performance to reach the FA Cup finals after the shot-stopping Lukasz Fabianski provided the foothold we needed to beat a Wigan squad who, despite playing for the Championship, remain undefeated in their last 12 games in this tournament.  It was for that reason that we celebrated.  It was for that reason that fans all across Arsenal were swept in jubilation…we have emerged with a chance to reclaim the FA Cup.

Then some hack at the BBC wrote this a day later.

Phil McNulty’s hatred for Arsenal borders on the pathological, and despite his bias for all things Manchester United, the very fact that he claimed that our celebrations “hinted at not just relief but almost a desperation,” highlight how willing he is to abandon the joy of sport at the expense of not only insulting Arsenal Football Club, but the very nature of the FA Cup. 

Furthermore, his insinuation that Wigan are a “very competent, but hardly [a] remarkable, Championship team” is insulting given that they not only won the trophy last season, but did so while beating Manchester City (last season and this season).  My Arsenal bias holds on to the notion that we were the better (yet nervy) side yesterday, but take nothing away from the Latics; they played their socks off (aside from some strange calls from that jerk they call a ref).

Well, we’ve fallen off a bit in the Prem, but a win at Wembley will hopefully put things right for us.  With hacks like Phil at the helm of football writing on the Beeb, it’s time to throw off all the divisiveness amongst our support and rally behind the team.  Let’s give Arsenal all we got, and let’s get ourselves a trophy!!!!

Naika Reviews “LUTHER (Seasons 1-3)”

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Let me be clear and say to all of you that I don’t do much television.  Even if I did, I’d probably find myself recapping shows long after their original run, and unfortunately, Neil Cross’ Luther is one of them.  I’ve long heard of the acting talents of Idris Elba on The Wire, along with his much professed love of all things Arsenal, but after watching all three seasons recently, I find it regrettable that I didn’t see his work sooner.  Luther is a brooding whirlpool of urban mayhem and Idris Elba’s portrayal of him is at the center of it all, serving as both anchor and sail.

The plights of Luther throughout the show would not be complete without a host of other characters who serve to question his moral limits while offering him sincere support.  Despite his separation from his wife Zoe, Luther’s main female counterpart is the cunning and scene-stealing Alice Morgan (portrayed by the talented Ruth Wilson).  After murdering her parents in the very first episode of season 1, Alice develops an uncanny attraction to our detective after he deduces her involvement in the matter without any solid evidence.  Luther initially views this relationship as an annoyance as he juggles between his marital problems and his duties, but as the second and third seasons unravel, we slowly find that the both of them begin to confide in one another in such a way that thoughts of something more are left lingering for us in the series’ end.

In addition, a detective series wouldn’t be complete without good old precinct regulars, namely his clear-eyed protege Detective Sergeant Justin Ripley (Warren Brown).  The straight arrow of the bunch, Justin acts as both Luther’s trusted partner and moral compass when many of the show’s antagonists test his conscience.  This especially comes to a boil at the end of season 1 when another one of Luther’s fellow inspectors commits a very desperate crime and pins all the blame on him.  However, we wouldn’t have a gripping show if the challenges to Luther’s conscience didn’t have its consequences, and what you’ll find in season 3 is a new juggling act for our protagonist as he juggles a new threat in the form some very vindictive co-workers that goes a stretch beyond your normal internal affair shenanigans.

luther-1-_FULL-bbc-america-one1If it sounds like I’m being vague here, then believe me when I tell you that it is on purpose.  Don’t expect the brilliance of Sherlock or the class of Poirot here since Luther’s hook is all about how the search to nab wicked men make virtuous men both obsessed and miserable.  In addition to that, the consequences aren’t the typical mouth-offs like “Yeah, she took the kids and moved to her Mom’s” kind, it’s the violent, yelling punch a fucking hole in my wife’s door kind…NON-STOP.  Now, if you have a hard time believing what I am writing, then you’ll have no problems seeing it since we have one fine actor doing his best to paint a very dark portrait for us.

In the end, Idris Elba’s award-winning portrayal of Luther, from the weary eyes to the hunched shoulders, along with his dogged gait and razor-edged wit, is a sight to behold.  In respect to the series as a whole, we not only witness how one detective’s obsessions lead him to more compromising consequences, but it challenges the old notions of why we seek light at the end of ANY tunnel in the first place.  For a man like Luther, light at the end of the tunnel obscures the true purpose of emerging from it altogether, and to do so, one must be willing to trudge deeply into the darkness.

Hello 2014!

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It’s a bit late from me y’all, and no, I didn’t have the time to make a 2013 event round-up like in the previous year, but that might go to show you how crazy last year was.  From the Boston bombings, the death of Nelson Mandela, the World Cup draw and the release of the PS4, lots of stuff has happened.  There’ll be more movie reviews coming on here soon, and I’ll have some more Arsenal updates as well as we continue to push for the title (cross your fingers).  Otherwise, hope you all had a great Holiday, so stay warm and let’s welcome 2014!

Happy Holidays!!

Cowboy_Bebop_Group_ChristmasSince it IS the season, it’s my pleasure to wish the lot of you a Happy Holiday, assuming you pass by here of course.  The end of the year is nigh, so you’ll definitely be hearing one of my self important Year-End Round-ups, along with a possible AMV as well on the YouTube channel.  Lots of things have happened in the world the last time I blogged, and there’s no better way to get those events out of the chest than to procrastinate like a drunken sloth and hurriedly write a half-assed blogpost before New Year’s Eve.  Furthermore, since the GF is watching Cowboy Bebop for the first time this month, a Cowboy Bebop-ish holiday image is in order.  Happy Holidays folks!!!