366 DAYS OF METAL: “You Can’t Bring Me Down” (Suicidal Tendencies)

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Movie Review: QUEEN OF SPADES The Dark Rite

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queen of spades the dark rite
SSS Entertainment

“There are some words you mustn’t say in front of a mirror.”

  • There is an ancient ritual known to humankind for more than a hundred years… According to the legend, an ominous entity known as the Queen of Spades can be summoned¬†by drawing a door and staircase on a mirror in the darkness, and by saying her name three times. The Queen of Spades gets her energy from reflective objects: she cuts locks of hair from those asleep, and those that see her go mad or die. Four teenagers decide to call the Queen of Spades as a joke. But when one of them dies of a sudden heart attack, the group realizes they are up against something inexplicable and deadly dangerous.

Queen Of Spades: The Dark Rite is another one of those direct-to-video movies that I probably wouldn’t know about, had it not been for being bed-ridden for a number of months and cruising through the Horror section on the Amazon Prime account for something to watch. Although I know better than to judge a movie by the cover art itself, I was rather impressed with the one used with Queen Of Spades (although it is a bit more on the cliche’ side of things), so I added it to the watch list.

Normally, it’s a case where the movie’s cover art is much more impressive than the movie itself. It happens a lot. Here, though, I have to say that this is a rare instance of the movie being just as good as the cover art implied. Maybe not better, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Queen Of Spades: The Dark Rite is a Russian-language film, as it is set in Russia (duh). The basis of the story is your standard Bloody Mary-style urban legend, with the entity in question going by a different name than what we ‘Muricans call it. Of course, it involves a bunch of teenagers hanging out one night and, after the requisite exposition of the legend of the Queen of Spades, decide to try and summon her as a larf, because teenagers being stupid knows no national boundaries. Of course, this leads to the standard discovering the hard way that the legend is for realsies, and the evil entity is gunning for them. Well, one girl from the group especially. So now they need to figure out what’s going on and how to fight off the Queen of Spades, and somehow also convince their parents of what’s going on.

Overall, I found Queen Of Spades: The Dark Rite to be better than what I was expecting. Mind you, I usually set the bar kind of low on the direct-to-video movies I come across on streaming sites. And while it has its flaws, the movie did really well with the low budget it had, really saturating the film with the right kind of atmosphere. You could really feel the cold permeating, causing a chill to the bone. Yeah, the CGI is kind of noticeably lacking, but it’s not terribly distracting and isn’t used all the time. What really makes this work is the stylized cinematography, the rather good acting, and the fact that the script subverts the tired Adults Don’t Believe The Kids trope that is in all of the American movies like this. I recommend searching this out and giving it a watch some night, preferably in the dead of winter. And keep your mirrors covered.

366 DAYS OF METAL: “Opening A Doorway Into The Ocult/Beyond The Grave” (Possession)

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Obligatory Pious-Sounding Lent Post, 2020 Edition

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header

crown of thorns

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The beginning of what we devout types refer to as Lent, the six week period leading up to Easter. Basically, a time of fasting and abstinence from something that’s considered important to them. Sometimes it’s something obvious, like chocolate, or television, or even avoiding the internet somehow. Nowadays, swearing off the internet for 40 days is equal to, if not worse than, swearing off sex for a perpetual horn-dog. I wouldn’t know anything about that later part.

“What are you giving up for Lent?” That’s a question that I’ve come across with less frequency than back when I was in primary and high school. But it does pop up every year. I’ve never really participated in the abstinence part of Lent growing up, despite growing up in a Methodist-based family. Later, after I began my ongoing post-Evangelical wilderness wanderings, my answer would be, “I gave up Lent for Lent.” Ha ha, funny. Pause for laughter. Such wit.

Personally, this year I believe it would be beneficial for me to instead use the time to study the Scriptures, expand my knowledge through books and studies, instead of “giving something up.” I’m doing this all the time; I just want to focus more on this during the Lenten period, rather than distract myself with other pursuits. That’s not to say that I won’t take the time to take in a movie or actually do something to enjoy life. I’m not pious, you know.

For others, to give up something during this time of reflection on the ministry of Jesus, His road leading up to the cross, His death and resurrection, would be beneficial. For me, what I detailed is what I’m going to be focusing on mainly during the next 39 days. Everything I’ve already scheduled to be posted won’t be changed–I’d hate to disrupt the ongoing 366 Days Of Metal thing–but I’ll definitely get back to things after Easter Sunday. Cheers, all, and don’t overdo it on the Cadbury Eggs…


Movie Review: PRAY 2 The Woods

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pray 2
Cross Shadow Production

  • Still riding high from her #1 Best-selling Book Tour, Laurie Curtis finishes what she thinks is just another Talk Show appearance. As the sun goes down and the shadows deepen, she heads home to enjoy what was supposed to be a quiet, relaxing evening alone…but her night is anything but peaceful! Meanwhile, across town, a Church Youth Group heads into the woods for its annual Fall camping trip…but they are not alone. He’s back! Exactly one year later, the mysterious masked villain is on the loose and striking fear into the hearts of his targets once again! Will the faith and heroism of the intended victims triumph over evil and darkness? Continuing the clean, heart-pounding suspense of “Pray” follow the characters from the original movie, as well as many new ones, as the thrill-ride continues…into the Woods!

Back in the fall of 2018, I watched and reviewed what was hyped as the first Evangelical Christian slasher horror movie: Pray. I was only aware of it because of a review done by YouTube sensation Say Goodnight Kevin. I knew what I was getting into. I have no one else to blame but myself. Still, I was unprepared at how bad this movie was. Then, I noticed that there were two (!) sequels to this made, available on Amazon Prime streaming as well. So, being the masochistic movie watcher that I am, I added them to my que. I figured, even if this was the film-makers’ first attempt at a movie (it was), they should have at least learned from the mistakes and made at least a marginally better sequel, right? Right?


Okay, look: I of course got the Movie Rundown part up top directly from the Cross Shadow Productions web page, so of course they’re going to be hyping their own movie. But, co’mon. “Clean, heart-pounding suspense”? Were they snickering as they wrote that? And believe me, the blatant lies that the movie description blurb spews forth is the least of this movie’s transgressions. Because somehow, some way, they have made something that simultaneously expands on the story in the first Pray., but made it an even more convoluted mess than before.

Where do I even begin with this? Well, the story seems to be a bunch of different bits smooshed together without care for context or editing or whatnot. It starts off with what is presumably a flashback to the convenience store lady who was abducted at the beginning of the first movie (in case you were wondering where she ended up at), tied up in duct tape and kept in the shoddiest outdoor shed in existence. It looks like one stiff breeze and it’ll come crashing down. She escapes that one easily enough, and the bad guy gives chase in the poorly lit woods. Oh, hey, that’s the subtitle of this flick. They got something right. So, she’s rescued by a passing truck, and we then get a title sequence that clearly used various pictures and .gifs from a Peninterest Halloween sub-thread. Booga booga booga. This is a “horror” movie, after all. Then, a year later (not that the movie tells us this, we had to learn this from the movie blurb description again) a bunch of 20-something youth group teens are packing up to go on a camping trip, with all the lame shenanigans that come along with that. Then, we find ourselves at a taping of a daytime talk show where the lady who escaped in the opening credits is now a famous author, having written about surviving her abduction and peddling DVDs of the first movie, for some reason. Then she goes back home, and has to take her dog to the vet because he seems to be choking on something lodged in his throat. Meanwhile, back at the Camping Retreat, the kids are montage-ing setting up their tents, chasing each other with fake snakes and silly string, and havin’ themselves a good ol’ fashioned wholesome Bible study with the hip, happenin’ director Pastor Dave. Dave ain’t here, man. Anyway, back in the other storyline, the lady gets a frantic call from the vet explaining her doggie was the victim of one of the oldest urban legends in the book, and CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY! Then, back at the camp, the kids and the director Pastor are sitting around the campfire with the Day-For-Night filter going, toasting marshmallows (though you never see anyone eat one of ’em), and the Pastor decides to tell everyone the Oldest Sermon Illustration in the book, and claim it actually happened to him. Yadda yadda yadda, buncha police trying to find the guy, bad guy is riding an ATV into the woods, the kids mistake it for a motorcycle because they’re stupid, then they chase down the guy after he falls off of the ATV–presumably for blood loss–and then the police show up, and he’s taken in and gets a phone call from (GASP!) HIS TWIN BROTHER WHO IS THE REAL STALKER GUY! I mean, you can’t really call him the killer, be cause NOBODY HAD DIED YET. There’s also no bloodshed whatsoever. Cue the end credits and blooper reel.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. Pray 2: The Woods sucked so hard that the gravitational pull caused us to hit the singularity where time slowed to a perceivable halt and space is infinitely curved. We saw only blackness and darkness. We were inside of the black hole that was this movie. I want to have a human avatar of this movie, so that I may choke it and watch the life ebb away slowly from its eyes, as it sees the void beyond my face, as I scream “LOOK! LOOK UPON THIS FACE AND DESPAIR! FOWL, WRETCHED MOVIE!!!” Then I shall feed its body to swine, then kill the swine and burn it, then shoot its ashes into the howling silent void of space, where it can never inflict such (ironically) unholy pain on anyone ever again.

I did not like this movie. You would think that, as an advocate for Christians to get involved with the horror genre, I would be all about promoting this. No, you see, I’m an advocate for Christians to make good horror movies. Pray 2: The Woods is a badly written, badly acted, badly shot, badly edited, badly produced piece of evangelical crap that wouldn’t scare a 5-year-old. Actually, scratch that, I did see an actual 5-year-old freak out over one of the camping scenes while sharing the pain watching it with a couple of friends. You take your victories where you can get ’em.

In short, unless you’re as incredibly masochistic as I am when it comes to these kind of movies, pass by this one if you know what’s good for you.

366 DAYS OF METAL: “Suicide Solution” (Ozzy Osbourne)

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from a certain point of view

  • In honor of the fortieth anniversary¬†of Star Wars: A New Hope, this collection features Star Wars stories by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from Star Wars literary history. More than forty authors have lent their unique vision to forty “scenes”, each retelling a different moment from the original Star Wars film, but with a twist: Every scene is told from the point of view of a background character. Whether it’s the X-wing pilots who helped Luke destroy the Death Star or the stormtroopers who never quite could find the droids they were looking for, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View places the classic movie in a whole new perspective, and celebrates the influence and legacy of the unparalleled cultural phenomenon, Star Wars.

As I’ve mentioned in previous Star Wars book reviews, I started reading the expanded universe novels around 2001, on the insistence of my friend Nex. This was long before Disney bought out Lucasfilm and Star Wars, rendering the novels to be what I like to call “professional fan-fic”, aka Star Wars Legends. Personally, my favorite ones that I liked to read were the three that contained short stories from the point of view of the peripheral characters: Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and Tales from Jaba’s Palace. I’ve always been intrigued by what the minor characters you see in movies, experiencing what’s going on, were thinking or doing that lead up to that moment. These books really scratched that imaginative itch I had.

Of course, now that those have been regulated into the Legends category, it was a wait to see if anything like those books would appear in the new official Disney canon. Lo and behold, in 2017 there was published the anthology From a Certain Point of View, a collection of short stories that were written by several authors, based on certain peripheral characters that were in the background of everything going on during the run of the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. This was released in conjunction with the movie’s 40th anniversary since its release back in 1977, and since it features 40 stories (one for each year, I presume), I need to stop yammering on and get to the stories contained within this tome. Shall we? We shall…

“Raymus” (Gary Witta)
It’s the story of Raymus Antilles, the captain of the Tantive IV, taking place from essentially the tail end of Rogue One, when they launch out of the Star Cruiser Profundity, to when he’s choked to death by Darth Vader after their capture over Tatooine. Basically, this bridges the small gap between the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope…

“The Bucket” (Christie Golden)
This one deals with Stormtrooper TK-4601, who is the one who manages to nab Princess Leia on the Tantive IV, right after she sticks those Death Star plans into some random astromech droid that I’m sure has no bearing on the overall saga whatsoever. Oh, and the “bucket” in question refers to the stormtrooper helmets. You’re welcome…

“The Sith of Datawork” (Ken Liu)
A brief yet amusing look at the bureaucratic side of the Galactic Empire, specifically the paperwork involved for a certain gunnery captain that ordered his subordinates not to fire upon some escape pod that didn’t have any life signs…

“Stories in the Sand” (Griffin McElroy)
Here, we have a story about a Jawa named Jot who likes to hide in his secret space on the clan’s sandcrawler and watch the “stories” taken from the memory cores of the droids they find before they’re wiped for resale. Then one day, he happens upon the memory core of a recently acquired R2 unit, which shows him clips from the Prequel Trilogy, among other things…

“Reirin” (Sabaa Tahir)
A young female Tusken Raider outcast wants to leave Tatooine (couldn’t imagine why), so she’s tasked with finding a shiny stone held within the Jawa sandcrawler that happens to be selling a couple of droids to a moisture farmer and his plucky nephew…

“The Red One” (Rae Carson)
That’s right, there’s a story about the R5-D4 unit that was the Owen’s first pick from the Jawa’s swap meet. This goes into things a bit into detail as to why it fritzed out like it did…

“Rites” (John Jackson Miller)
Hey, you remember the part in A New Hope, with the Tusken Raiders who ambush Luke while he’s trying to find R2? This is a story about those guys. This one has a bit which alludes to the part in Attack Of The Clones, where Anakin slaughters a camp of Tuskens for killing his mother. Continuity, yay.

“Master and Apprentice” (Claudia Gray)
An existential bit of a discussion between Obi-Wan and the force ghost of his old master, Qui-Gon, during that part where Luke goes back to find his aunt and uncle kind of sort of not well…

“Beru Whitesun Lars” (Meg Cabot)
This is a short but rather interesting story narrated by the title character, Luke’s Aunt Beru, all about raising Luke and her thoughts on that. Given the ending of the story, it does raise more questions, here…

“The Luckless Rodian” (Renee Ahdieh)
Of course, there’s going to be a story about Greedo, the green-skinned bounty hunter that NEVER SHOT BECAUSE HAN SHOT AND THAT WAS IT…sorry. Deep breaths, here. Anyway, this is what led up to that confrontation, and it appears there was a woman involved that horked Greedo off in the first place…

“Not for Nothing” (Mur Lafferty)
Presented as a chapter from a book of memoirs by one of the members of Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes (that band in the cantina that plays a style of music that elicits giggles by myself immature man-boys when spoken of), this sheds a bit of light as to why a band comprised of Bith (a species with pink sensitive skin and big, lidless eyes that are unable to secrete tears) would be on a planet like Tatooine in the first place…

“We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here” (Chuck Wendig)
Now we take a look at the cantina bartender Wuher, who is grumpy but affable, going about his day trying not get involved with everything going down around him. Which includes the arrival of some farm kid and an old guy in robes with a couple of darn droids on the day that his droid detector is not working properly…

“The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper” (Kelly Sue DeConnick / Matt Fraction)
Kind of a wacky story involving Muftak and Kabe, the two aliens that…well, Google ’em, you’ll know them when you see the images. Anyway, this involves a sought-after Bith instrument, where the rent monies went to, and various other instances involving Greedo that demonstrates that the continuity between the stories are a bit off…

“Added Muscle” (Paul Dini)
And here we have a bit of a Boba Fett inner monologue involving that Special Edition scene where Jabba the Hutt confronting Han Solo in Docking Bay 94 with a bunch of other bounty hunters to collect on Solo’s debt. This one was written by long-time television writer Paul Dini, and let’s just say he doesn’t really nail Boba Fett at all. He sounds more like Lobo, from the Superman: The Animated Series which he has worked on. Really could have used K. W. Jeter handling Fett…

“You Owe Me a Ride” (Zoraida Cordova)
This one is about the Tonnika sisters, the two females that were seen maybe a split-second in the movie. Here, they head off to Jabba’s palace for a job, then decide to steal the Millennium Falcon to get off planet and…do stuff. Things don’t go as planned, obviously…

“The Secrets of Long Snoot” (Delilah S. Dawson)
This one’s about that steampunk clad snitch Garindan ezz Zavor, who lead the stormtroopers to Docking Bay 94. Goes a bit into why he was on Tatooine, and how he was trying to get back home…ah, who cares? He ratted out our heroes, guys…

“Born in the Storm” (Daniel Jose Older)
A rather amusing story told in the form of an Imperial Incident Report form, from one of the stormtroopers that happened to be in the group that were on Tatooine searching for a couple of droids…

“Laina” (Wil Wheaton)
Yes, that Wil Wheaton. Here, he pens a story about a rebel soldier on Yavin IV videotaping a message to his 2-year-old daughter, whom he’s about to send away with a couple of aunts off-world for safty’s sake. This one had me shouting, “THAT WAS MY JOKE GUESS, YOU BASTARD!” at the end…

“Fully Operational” (Beth Revis)
Here we have a story taking place shortly before and during that meeting on the Death Star where Tarkin informs everyone that the Senate was disolved and that chokey-chokey thing happened between Vader and an Admiral. This is from the point of view of General Tagge, not the guy getting choked, but the one who was concerned about the Rebels finding a weak point in the Death Star from the stolen plans. Interesting bit, here…

“An Incident Report” (Mallory Ortberg)
Taking place directly after the previous story, this is the rather angry incident report filled out by the guy who was force-choked by Vader, one Admiral Motti, Chief of the Imperial Navy. He doesn’t seem too happy about the incident, it seems…

“Change of Heart” (Elizabeth Wein)
This is from the point of view of…um, Unidentified Imperial Navy Trooper, who was the guard of Princess Leia while she was prisoner on the Death Star, and was present at her interigation by the hands of Vader, and on the bridge when Alderaan got blow’ed up…

“Eclipse” (Madeleine Roux)
Things are getting rather dark, as now, right after the previous story, we have one about Leia’s adoptive mother, Breha Organa of Alderaan, experiencing her final hour or so on the planet before getting blow’ed up…

[It’s right around here, where I had to pause and look at pictures of kittens for about ten minutes before continuing on with the book]

“Verge of Greatness” (Pablo Hidalgo)
Didn’t think we would skip a story featuring our favorite galactic despot, Grand Moff Tarkin, did we? Here, we get a glimpse of his black, icy soul as he contemplates the power of the Death Star, his acquisition of said Death Star, the destruction of Scarif and thoughts on Director Krennic, all while preparing to take out the rebellion once and for all…

“Far too Remote” (Jeffrey Brown)
This is a single panel comic involving stormtroopers and an Imperial officer (turns out it was General Tagge) searching out Dantooine for that rebel base…

“The Trigger” (Kieron Gillen)
Okay, so, here we have a story involving one Chelli Lona Aphra. As someone whose fandom of Star Wars only covers the movies, a handful of cannon novels, and The Mandalorian series, I had to look up this character. Seems that Aphra is a scavenger that is mentioned in a lot of comic book stories, and apparently appears here because it involves the obligatory search of Dantooine by Imperials, and her running into them while scavenging the abandoned Rebel base. Decent story, though…

“Of MSE-6 and Men” (Glen Weldon)
And here we have a story told from the point of view of the MSE-6 repair droid aboard the Death Star, some time before the destruction of the base above Yavin IV. You know, that thing on the wheels that skittered away freaked out by Chewbacca? That’s the one. Only, the majority of the story concerns the hook-up between a stormtrooper and an Imperial officer, as told by way of the recorded information stored within the droid. Like an episode of Queer As Folk in space…

“Bump” (Ben Acker / Ben Blacker)
Now we have a story about that one Stormtrooper that famously bumped his head on the threshold of the control room where C-3PO and R2-D2 are hiding out in the Death Star. You know the one. This is a story about what happened leading up to that moment, and what happened directly after…

“End of Watch” (Adam Christopher)
This is a story about an administrative Imperial officer in charge of the Death Star’s Station Control West, who is about to get off of duty for the night, when wouldn’t ‘cha now it, there’s an unscheduled arrival of some old YT-1300 light freighter named the Millennial Falcon messing up the traffic…

“The Baptist” (Nnedi Okorafor)
Hey, do you remember that eye-stalk that pokes out of the fetid water of the trash compactor, conjoined to that thing that drags Luke down into the water with it? Presumably to eat him? This is the story of that creature. Turns out it’s a “her”, her name is “Omi”, and she wasn’t planning on eating him after all, really…

“Time of Death” (Cavan Scott)
Finally we have a story about Obi-Wan Kenobi, told from his point of view…just after he’s killed by Darth Vader. Buncha flashbacks in this interesting story, which features a 3-year-old Luke Skywalker at one point…

“There Is Another” (Gary D. Schmidt)
Hey, a story involving Master Yoda. Who wasn’t a part of A New Hope. Eh, whatever. Here, he’s getting ready to plant some seeds for food, takes on some Imperial probe droids, and senses the death of Obi-Wan. It also seems Yoda would rather train Leia rather than Luke as a Jedi, as Obi’s force ghost tries to convince him otherwise. Also, there’s a cooking pot…

“Palpatine” (Ian Doescher)
Okay, so, this one was written by the guy who has written the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars book series, so this story is also written in iambic pentameter. And, true to the title, this one is from the point of view of Emperor Palpatine, after hearing news of Obi-Wan Kenobi at the hands of Darth Vader. He goes from gloating, to worry about other Jedi that may have slipped the Jedi Purge, right back to gloating again…

“Sparks” (Paul S. Kemp)
This one focuses on Dex Tiree, one of the pilots in Gold Squadron, and his thoughts on things as he goes through the briefing on the Death Star schematics, and his favorite R5 unit nicknamed “Sparks”, going on the run on the Death Star…kind of ends on a downer, this one…

“Duty Roster” (Jason Fry)
And here we have a story from one of the other starfighter pilots that didn’t partake of the run on the Death Star due to some anger issues, mostly due to the Empire ravaging his home world, but also having the nickname of “Fake Wedge”…

“Desert Son” (Pierce Brown)
A story told from the point of view of Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s friend from Tatooine. This focuses mainly on his perspective of the trench run on the Death Star, and what’s going through Bigg’s head, up until it was his windshield…

“Grounded” (Greg Rucka)
Here’s something from a mechanic on the Rebel base on Yavin 4, named Nera Kase. We get a look at the situation and tension at the base as the battle of Yavin takes place over the radio broadcast, and the weight that the deaths have on the ground crew…

[again, I had to pause to look at kitties…man, this is taking more out of me than expected…]

“Contingency Plan” (Alexander Freed)
And now, a story of Mon Mothma, another character that didn’t appear in A New Hope. Anyway, in this story, it’s explained why she was absent during the Battle of Yavin, and delves into the inner turmoil she was experiencing after Alderaan was destroyed. It gets kinda dark, this one does…

“The Angle” (Charles Soule)
Another story involving a beloved character that didn’t really appear until one of the later movies. This one involves Lando Calrissian, having a friendly game of Klikklak interrupted by an Imperial officer and a handful of stormtroopers, and then witnessing a holovid of the Empire’s Death Star being blow’ed up with the help of his former ship, the Millennial Falcon…

“By Whatever Sun” (E. K. Johnson / Ashely Eckstein)
The penultimate story in the collection (I just wanted to write the word “penultimate”), and it’s another one featuring a periferal character that originated outside the movie proper: Captain Miara Larte, one of the few survivors of Alderaan, along with her crew are standing front-and-center of the celebration at the end of the movie. We get a glimpse of what’s going through her head as she witnesses Leia awarding medals to Luke and Han, totally snubbing the Wookiee…

“Whills” (Tom Angleberger)
And finally, we have a very brief, but utterly amusing story dedicated to the unseen Whills of Star Wars legend that watches and chronicles the epic sprawling story of Star Wars, explaining where we get the opening crawl, and also where we got the Star Wars Holiday Special…

Well, now. This was quite the trip. For the most part, the stories here managed to take something about the movie that didn’t seem important to the overall story, and make it far more interesting than it should have been. The handful of nit-picks that I have concern the stories that involved Greedo in one way shape or form, as they didn’t necessarily jive with the continuity with each other. With the ones that took place in Mos Eisley, I had to remember these weren’t part of the Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina book, and thus didn’t share the same explanation of who and what the characters’ motivations were. Some stories resonated more for me than others, but I’m not really going to go into detail about those, mainly because these are subjective, and I’ve already gone a bit long with the review of this.

Overall: I’ve only read a small handful of what you would call the “New Canon” of Star Wars books, From A Certain Point of View included. I liked this collection. It told entertaining bite-sized stories from a galaxy far, far away, as expected. Also, none of the authors got paid to do this; they all agreed to have the proceeds go to a reading charity. So, for those of you who like that warm fuzzy self-righteous feeling to go with your rank consumerism, there you go. Recommended.


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netherbeast incorporated
Shoreline Entertainment

“Here at Berm-Tech, we offer you a hand shake, whether you have hands, hooks, or flippers.”

  • Employees of Berm-Tech Industries, Inc. have kept the family secret for a long time. For years it has been business as usual, until the top “vampire” in charge contracts a dreaded disease, becomes senile forgetting that he’s a vampire and starts killing off other vampire colleagues. A human efficiency expert and “Dead Mike’s” replacement are invited to work at Berm-Tech but soon they discover that some of their associates are not what they appear to be.

Here’s a movie that I stumbled upon early on in my utilizing the Amazon Prime movie streaming service. Netherbeast, Incorporated, going by the site description alone, sounded like it was right up my ally: A business firm that’s a place where vampires can work and live in safety from being hunted by humans, when the boss (who is also a vampire) starts to go senile and begins to hire humans. Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that, otherwise that just sounds like another premise for a syndicated sitcom. Probably for UPN. Before it went bye-bye in the mid-aughts and merged with the WB to become the CW.

What got me to watch Netherbeast, Incorporated, was the pedigree of actors in this: former SNL alumni Darrel Hammond, Kids In The Hall alumni Dave Foley, Judd Nelson, Robert Wagner, Jason friggin’ Mewes, and Steve Burns. You know, that guy from Blue’s Clues? Yeah, he’s in this movie. And with a cast like that, you would presume this would be something of a quirky dark comedy horror. And you would be right. So very, very right.

So, going into the story a bit more: This movie revolves around the goings-on within Berm-Tech Industries, a telephone company in Arizona staffed entirely by vampires who refer to themselves as “Netherfolk”. Turns out that this company was established by President James Garfield and Alexander Graham Bell as a safe-haven for the Netherfolk, a place for them to work, live and generally exist away from the interference from humans, who have a tendency to overreact to there being vampires in existence somewhere. The movie itself begins when one of the long-time employees discovers that the boss is suffering from the netherfolk equivalent of Alzheimer’s, by way of the boss having staked another employee and warning him that he’s suspecting there are vampires in the building and keep an eye out for ’em, ‘kay? Things escalate from there, as it’s in this particular state of mind that has him hiring a couple of humans–“first lifers”–a security expert and a productivity expert to work at the company. Of course, wackiness ensues to try and keep from their undead cover from being blown entirely.

Netherbeast, Incorporated was, for the most part, rather enjoyable. It does seem a bit subdued, though, like there was much more potential that may have been lost in the shuffle. It was going for more of an Office Space with Vampires direction, which works for the most part. However, for whatever reason, Dave Foley and Jason Mewes are woefully underutilized, which is a damn shame. A dirty, lowdown shame, I tells ya. Darrel Hammond is perfectly in his element as the (literally) brain-dead boss, and Judd Nelson was great as the antagonist of the movie. Also, this doesn’t shy away from the gore. Nicely done, movie.

Overall: Netherbeast, Incorporated seemed to get lost in the shuffle of horror flicks that were released in the Aughts. My guess is, it probably had to do with it coming out before the whole Twilight movie franchise made vampire movies popular again. Regardless, this was a pretty good original comedy horror flick. While I’m probably not going to go back to this as much as I do with the annual viewings of, say, Shaun Of The Dead, Zombieland or The Lost Boys, Netherbeast, Incorporated is more like a movie that, if I happen upon it on a cable channel, I’ll stay and watch. Still, recommended.

366 DAYS OF METAL: “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” (Prong)

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Movie Review: STAR GAMES

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star games
Multicom Entertainment Group

  • Hunted by an alien tyrant intent on inter-planetary domination, the young prince of a far away space kingdom seeks refuge on Earth. There, he meets Brian, a troubled boy who is more in touch with science fiction than reality. The two of them form a fast friendship and fight for the freedom of the galaxy — together.

I have to tell you, it was a real pain in the tuchus trying to find a decent image for the cover for the movie Star Games. So far, I’ve only found this title as one included as part of the streaming on Amazon Prime, and they don’t use the cover art prominently. A Google search revealed that, for whatever reason, this movie doesn’t seem to have had a release, either on VHS or DVD. Or, maybe it has, and someone has taken it upon themselves to wipe out every copy in existence, and erasing any trace of it online. If only they were successful in doing so with Amazon Prime, I would have been spared watching this abomination of a science fiction movie.

Star Games (or Stargames, depending on where you want to search for this online) was written and directed by one Greydon Clark. Normally, I don’t really focus too much on who wrote and/or directed a movie too much; in this case, while researching some of his past work, it looks like he’s rather prolific in the Bad Movie department, stretching all the way back to the early 1970s. As it turns out, it looks like I’ve already seen at least two of his movies before: 1985’s Final Justice, and 1987’s Uninvited. You better believe there will be reviews for this one some time in the near future. But, back to the topic at hand.

It looks like Star Games/Stargames was the last movie that Clark made. Such is
the pity, as this is not the movie to go out on top with. There has to be a much better bad movie inside him to retire on.

So, here we have the story of a young alien prince who escapes the violent coup rising up against the king of whatever planet it is he is in charge of (I’ve ceased caring about that kind of details by now, so don’t expect it here) by stealing one of the royal spaceships whose AI default avatar is one of those nightmare inducing clowns. It’s really a rare thing for me to include screen shots from the movies that I review, but this is something you need to see to believe:

star games clown ai


Anyway, the alien kid high-tails it to Earth, pursued by the henchmen of the evil overthrower alien guy, and crash-lands in a forest. Meanwhile, a diabetic video game enthusiast middleschool-aged boy is taken by his parents out to the same set of woods for some outdoorsy family things. Yeah, I point out that the kid’s diabetic, because the movie kinda goes out of its way to establish that he is, in fact, diabetic with an exciting blood glucose check right when we meet his character. Riveting. Once they reach the campsite, the kid heads out for a hike in the woods by himself while his parents set to grillin’, and finds himself accosted by the most disinterested-looking bear I’ve seen on screen since Day Of The Animals. This leads him to stumble upon the hiding place of the alien prince kid, and after spending the night hiding away from both the bear and the alien hunters, they set off to find the human boy’s parents. They bond over video games, the alien hunters chase after them, then the bear shows up again, they find the kid’s family, they get beamed up in the evil alien guy’s ship, the good guys show up, yada-yada-yada, evil defeated, and the earth boy is cured of his ‘betus due to ALIEN MAGIC!

As badly made sci-fi flicks go, Star Games (or Stargames) is a disinterested mess. The effects alone are of the quality of a Sega CD game, which kind of makes sense, as there are a few scenes where Earth boy is playing Sonic the Hedgehog. He’s also playing Doom at one point, but whatever. The effects aren’t up to snuff to 1998 standards, is what I’m saying here. The acting is what you would expect, which is to say early 80s Saturday morning syndicated kids’ show level. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, just swap out the terrible ship AI with a floating robot buddy, and the Earth kid with a lovable doggie, and you’ve basically got the plot for Benji, ZAX & The Alien Prince. The big difference being, I would much rather look up old episodes of that show on YouTube, rather than having to sit through this one again.

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