Sunday, November 25, 2012

Go-Bots Vs. Star Wars

After a marked lull in activity on my blog for the last month during which time I was busy writing horror movie reviews at In the Queue, I revisited for the first time just a few weeks ago.  I was shocked to see, in the last month, the viewings of my site had doubled!  I’m not sure what I can attribute this spike in interest to except maybe people love tongue-in-cheek articles about meat products, since the majority of hits seemed to stem from my Goetta and Spam entries.

Or maybe, just maybe, it is time my self-depreciating, semi-acerbic wit, my tendency to carouse, my boundless knowledge of pop culture, and my ability to string together marginally related words to create partially coherent sentences to finally be truly appreciated.

Regardless, I best strike while the iron is hot, which is why I’m bringing out the big guns.  The GO-BOTS!

When I was a kid, I hated the Go-Bots.  To my recollection I had exactly two in my toy collection.  Screwhead (because he has a screw...for a head) and Pathfinder who, supposedly, is a female Go-Bot.  I was completely unaware of this until I went to look for a screen shot of her.  But now that I look at this pic of “her,” I totally see the feminine qualities.  Large, broad shoulders, some sort of bonnet, and a bow-tie.  Screams the fairer sex.  How did I ever overlook it? 

One thing was for sure, they sucked.  I wasn’t a kid who owned a bunch of Transformers growing up, so this wasn't the litmus test by which they were measured, although even with only a couple of each in my collection it was obvious Transformers were FAR superior toys.  Me?  I was a He-Man/GI Joe/Thundercats guy.  I'm telling you right now, the feminine wiles of Teela were much more enchanting than the blocky, cold, asexual feel of a robot.  That being said, who didn't have a little bit of a crush on Arcee?

The Go-Bots  were just so damned generic.  To transform Pathfinder you folded her in half and to transform Screwhead I’m pretty sure you just tipped him over.

I never knew the Go-Bots as popular toys.  I thought everybody felt the same way I did about them.  But they had cartoons, paint with water books, activity books, Nestle Quik tie-ins, cereals….oh, wait, no, they didn’t have a cereal at all.  They didn’t have Colorforms either, which is a PRETTY good measuring stick of popularity.  Maybe they weren’t so beloved after all.

But what they did have was MODELS.  Good thing, because I’m really tired of living vicariously through Dr. Wiley.  My deep seeded need to build a robot without any knowledge of how to actually build a robot can finally be fulfilled!

I bought the Buggyman model off EBAY.  I picked Buggyman because he was cheaper than the other models I found on EBAY.  He must be the scrub Go-Bot.  For those of you who only speak Transformer, Buggyman would be the equivalent of Sideswipe.  Remember him?  No?  Neither do I.

I was kind of surprised when I received the package.  Kind of small.  I was expecting something at least the size of, say, a puzzle box.  It was more the size of the palm of my hand.  I thought, being a giant robot, it might be a little more grandiose.  Of course, for all I know, the Go-Bots were actually very tiny.  Like Transformers meets The Littles

 My good friend Buffalo is going to help me build this bad boy.  Doesn't have the same ring as Jim or Jack, but just as effective and twice as tasty.

Here are all the pieces spread on my card table.  Looks pretty meager, eh?  You betcha’ it does.  But let’s just wait to see it when it’s done.  Just break out ye old instructions here.  Hey, there’s a description right on here of Buggyman! 

“Buggyman is a ferocious robot from the planet GoBotron, located in a distant galaxy.  With a few simple movements he is transformed into a dune buggy.  He’s a real mean machine!”

Ah yes, dune buggies, the meanest of all machines.  I guess, based on my viewing of Mad Max 2, he’ll be pretty important after the apocalypse. But for now only important for those times when you have to traverse a desert.  Or joyride on a beach.  Even in the lame world of the Go-Bots, Buggyman is at the bottom of the totem.  Unless “GoBotron” is rife with dunes.  GoBotron.  Seriously.

Let’s get in to the actual directions.  Step 1.  Check.  Step 2.  Check.  Step 3……cement?  Step 6…..paint?  Step 9…mild detergent? What the hell?  I thought this thing would just snap together.  I don’t have this crap just sitting around the house.  Damn, Dr. Wiley had it easy.

It took me 50 times longer to write the last 700 words then it did to be foiled in my original attempt at building the Go-Bots model.  But with a Dale’s Pale Ale and a shot of Buffalo already in my gullet, with my Les McCann and Eddie Harris record playing, I was inspired to build SOMETHING.

How about THE MILLENIUM FALCON?!  This has been sitting in my closet for about a year or so now.  I picked it up for $4 at the Goodwill.  It's a 3-D puzzle.  Seemed like a steal.  I’ve hesitated to make it because it touts “super challenging” right there on the front of the box.  Welp, no time like the present!

 Ugh, look at it.  Intimidating.  Kind of oozing out of the box, like The Blob.  Better turn all the pieces over.

Holy shit.  It’s just gray.  So very gray.  Painfully gray.  It’s going to be like putting together a black and white picture of the sky.  And 3-D puzzles aren’t like other puzzles, all the pieces don’t just go together.  Oh, no.  I gotta make the top, the bottom, the sides, the back, the wings, all separately then fold it all together like some sort of malevolent origami!  Not to mention there are too many pieces to fit comfortably on my card table, so I have them spread everywhere…some on the lid of a tote, some still in the box.  God knows if they are even all there.  A bit more daunting then I had hoped.  This calls for some more Buffalo Trace and another beer.

A couple more shots and another Dale's Pale Ale later.  The Blob has consumed me.  I Got about 6 pieces put together, but two of them were together straight out of the box.  Han Solo is somewhere crying in to his beer as we speak.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday the 13th

Despite all my talk about love of the horror genre, until October of 2012, I had never seen the original Friday the 13th.  For a while I avoided it because I was scared of horror films, slashers in particular.  Then, when I got in to horror films, I avoided it because it was too obvious.  Too mainstream, too readily available, too well known.  Better to watch Night of the Creeps, or Slaughter High.

I have to say, about ten minutes in to the film, I was already taken with something astounding; Kevin Bacon was in this bitch!  I mean, it’s well known that Jamie Lee Curtis was in Halloween, and Johnny Depp was in Nightmare on Elm Street, so how can it be I had no idea Kevin Bacon was in Friday the 13th?  Certainly Bacon is as important to the pop culture lexicon as Depp, right?  I think Tremors trumps any work by Depp, and what moviephile hasn’t played a rousing round or two of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?”

The second thing I was struck by?  The outfits.  Oh, dear, the outfits.  Here’s screen shot number 1:

Holy crap, what is that guy wearing?  Bright red socks and a red kerchief with MATCHING RED SHOESTRINGS!  Quite the little accesorizer.  No shirt and cut-off jean shirts.  What do you do in an outfit like that?  Cut down trees.  In this thrilling scene they are getting ready to remove that pesky stump.  Slasher films always start out so innocuous.

Hey look at this snazzy dresser.  Plain white pants, plain white shoes, bright red suspenders with no shirt.  The modern man in the early 80s.  Before they invented belts, I guess.  Damn, looks like I left the play time on this one.  It actually bothers my sense of aesthetics, but I’m too lazy to go back and fix it.  But it reminds me, these two dapper fellows appear about three minutes apart in the film.  Talk about sensory overload!  Not to mention just a scant few minutes later, on the dock you can see right there in the background, Kevin Bacon will be seen cavorting in a pair of blue and yellow Speedos.  I like to refer to that particular scene as “superfluous batch.”

Speaking of snappy dressers, I swear when our killer first shows up she (oops, spoiler alert!) is wearing a tweed jacket and a pair of slacks.  That doesn’t seem very threatening, and I’m sure those little burrs get all caught up on the tweed.  Still, I guess slashing throats in the woods with a huge butcher’s knife probably adds a bit of menace regardless of one’s poor choice in wardrobe.  I wanted to make a Mr. Bean joke here, but I already messed it up by revealing the gender of the killer with my spoiler alert joke.  The choice of jests available for the early 80s slasher-film blogger is abundant, but only one path is true.  I hope I have chosen the correct one. 

God I hate Rowan Atkinson.

Let’s get this whole “spoiler alert” thing out of the way.  Chances are you have seen the original Friday the 13th at some point in your life.  And if you haven’t, there’s a pretty good chance you aren’t reading this review, in 2012, for advice on whether or not to watch it.  Either way, seen it or no, you’re probably just curious what I think of it so, yeah, I’m going to spoil the hell out of it.  I’m going to tell you Kevin Bacon’s character dies and I’m going to post a picture of it.  I’m going to tell you they play strip Monopoly at the camp but, even with such a ripe opportunity to explore burgeoning teenage sexuality, nobody gets naked.  Most importantly, I’m going tell you the killer is Jason’s mom and Jason, for all intents and purposes, isn’t even in it. 

Now that there have been nine Friday the 13th sequels, a remake, and a crossover, all of which (ugh, most of which, I know he isn’t in the 5th one either) revolve around the character of Jason Vorhees, he has become the embodiment of the films.  It seems weird, in retrospect, that he did not appear in the first film and I have it on good authority (thanks to Mr. Kris Riley) didn’t even don his iconic hockey mask until the third film.

That being said, I actually rather enjoyed Friday the 13th.  My expectations for the film, considering it has now reached its 30th anniversary, were very low.  I assumed it would be much of the same slasher dreck I have seen before and even though Friday the 13th would in all actuality have been a precursor to those films, it wouldn’t matter since I hadn’t seen it until after.

To a degree, that turns out to be absolutely true.  It is very similar to any slasher you’ve ever sat through.  It was, however, unexpectedly gory with a few over-the-top murder scenes, there’s death by knife, arrows, and axes, the direction is competent enough and almost suspenseful at times (almost), the soundtrack is quite memorable, and it has the decency to be laughable instead of boring during downtime.

The climax of the film is a bit of a letdown, as our sole survivor Alice (Adrienne King) grapples with Pamela Vorhees (Betsy Palmer).  I know in this sort of film it might seem silly to complain about how foolhardy the heroine is, but I can’t help myself.  See, first Alice hits her with a fireplace poker, than runs to a shed.  Then Vorhees finds her, so she hits her with the butt of a rifle, and runs away.  Then, oh god, can it be true?  She hits her with a FRYING PAN.  And runs away.  Come on, give me a break.  She’s unconscious every time.  You better tie her up or bludgeon her with that frying pan, one or the other.  At least the final, killing blow is so ridiculous it will probably leave you in stitches.

After seeing a ton of cheaply made slasher films, I was surprised this film left any sort of impression on me.  I'm not going to tout it as a "must see," but as a pop culture phenomenon it is definitely worth a watch.  KEVIN BACON, LOOK OUT!

Next up, Halloween review at In the Queue Reviews.

Or, if you feel froggy, jump ahead to my review of The Burning.