Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed. Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2001 Banner! Number 54 (Vol 2, No. 14).  This edition is for the week of April 2--8, 2001.
X-Files: The real return of Fox Mulder; Three's company? Doggett evidently remains.

X-Watch!Well, well, well....after a good month off following seemingly endless "teasers", we finally discover the true fate of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny).

To re-cap: about 6 months or so ago, Fox Mulder was abducted by aliens and subjected to ongoing cruel and invasive experiments (you know the kind...anal probes and such...and ,no, that wasn't graphically depicted, altho much was). That not only left the X-Files "division" of the FBI one man short, but now resources needed to be compiled quickly to help Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) locate Mulder.

Enter Special agent John Doggett (the increasingly likeable Robert Patrick of "T-1000" fame). Hired to find Mulder AND deal with a emotional and distant agent Scully AND continue with business-as-usual at the X-Files, his itinerary is quite full, thank you. How any normal person could handle this kind of stress is beyond me, but Robert Patrick brings to the role of Doggett a gentle-but-strong, inquisitive-but-realistic, not-prone-to-extraterrestrial-explanations, kind of agent. Sound familiar? It should...this is exactly what special agent Scully was assigned to do some seven years ago. However, as Mulder predicted, she's seen and experienced too much to remain very skeptical about X-subjects. In fact, all Doggett wants to do half the time is just find out what the hell is going on.

About a month ago (in TV time) Mulder was discovered in the desert, nude, and apparently dead. His face and body a map of tortuous wounds inflicted by alien examinations. (Here we took a break to watch the new "Lone Gunmen" series for several weeks until X-Files returned. We now return to our plot sysnopsis' of new episodes, already in progress).

A short while after Mulder's funeral (attended by, among others, the aforementioned Lone Gunmen), a startling discovery is made by fisherman out at sea: the bloated corpse of Billy Miles is floating nearby. The Billy Miles abduction case is one of the first that Scully and Mulder worked on together. Shockingly, altho the "corpse" is badly decomposed and rotted-looking, there are life signs! Billy is transported to a hospital, where he is monitored for further changes. While visiting Billy, Scully discovers a second heartbeat on Billy's monitor, while he is apparently having a Grand Mal seizure. She notes the "equipment malfunction" to the nurse and moves on.

In the next sequence--with incredible effects, Billy is shown to revive, leave his bed, go into a shower, and shed his skin! He is found wandering in the hall by a staff nurse, who alerts Doggett and Scully. Scully determines that an alien pathogen was released into Miles during his abduction, causing hime to grow new skin and become a new person---but the new person is part alien. Scully determines the same thing will happen to Mulder unless a cure is found.

Alex Krycek. The name itself is enough to send nearly as many shivers as the (late?) Cigarette Smoking Man. Krycek (Nicholas Lea) appearance is eerily well-timed. He teases Skinner with the miracle vaccine--developed by the aforementioned CSM--that can save Mulder's life, but with a price: Skinner must ensure Scully's baby does NOT come to term. Skinner refuses. (Risky, since Krycek still has that gadget that can torture, and ultimately kill, Skinner.) Doggett persues Krycek into a parking garage, a fight ensues, the vaccine vial drops, breaks, Krycek gets away. No matter....Scully has developed an alternate treatment.

Eventually, Mulder recovers. His first words, "did anybody miss me?", are charming as is Gillian Anderson's reactions. This was an excellent episode and clears the way for Duchovny's (permanent?) return to the X-Files. The top-notch writing, direction, acting and special effects are what fans have come to expect from the best of what this series has to offer. Note: Altho John Dogget was offered a chance at a new position, he chose to remain. So now instead of one full-time agent, one missing agent and one inexperienced agent, we now have three, full-time, experienced agents. Three a crowd? Probably. But it's the best thing to happen to The X-Files in years.

The return of PeeWee
Paul 'PeeWee' ReubensI saw this show last week and couldn't resist commenting any longer. Paul Reubens, aka, PeeWee Herman appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno last week to promote his new movie, "Blow", also starring Johnny Depp.

Reubens certainly looks different. Some of that is due to his movie role and his keeping the '70s period clothes from the movie. But he is such an odd animal, you never know. To hear him speak normally is weird now. He kind of sounds like PeeWee on Quaaludes or something. But that mischevious expression makes everything he says funny. He could read a salad recipe and have me rolling on the floor. Trying to take him seriously as an actor can be challenging. But an actor he is. In the new movie he plays an ex-marine(!) who becomes a hairdresser/cocaine-dealer.
Paul Reubens on the Tonight Show     In a rather tedious digression during the interview, Reubens stated that he learned enough about hairdressing to cut Jay's hair. He brought out a big box of hair care products, then recited chapter-and-verse of their attributes. At one point Reubens got up, walked around to Jay's back and pretended to cut Leno's locks. Leno thought it was real--Reubens "palmed" some stage hair to frighten Jay.

Benecio Del Toro as The Dog-Faced Boy!Paul is planning two new PeeWee Herman movies. One for adults, and one more for children, a la, "PeeWee's Playhouse".

Another amusing anecdote concerned Oscar-winner Benecio Del Toro's early role as The Dog-Faced Boy in one of the early PeeWee movies. (Hey, we gotta start somewhere, right? Wasn't Jeff Goldblum on PeeWee's Playhouse?)

While not one of Florida's most embarassing residents (his parents still live in Sarasota), and certainly not the smear to our area Darryl Strawberry is, it is worth noting that Paul Reubens' career has only just recently regained its footing after the notorious setback of his arrest at a Sarasota adult theatre many years ago. When he mentioned the "adult themes" of the upcoming PeeWee movie, there were nervous laughs in the audience, I, for one, hope that chapter is long over for this remarkably talented and strange man.

Deadguy's Dementia
   While wandering around the graveyard, looking for more horror movie info to share with you ghouls, I came across several sites making a reference to an interview held with both George Romero and George Lucas regarding "Night of the Living Dead, Part 4". There were several sites with varying information on the interview, but no "official" source could be found.. Until I went to George Romero's website:
   It's an interview where apparently Lucas seems a little inebriated, and talking about how he wants to work with Romero on Dead 4 (Which was listed here a few weeks ago as "Twilight of the Dead", but according to Romero himself, there's no official name as of yet).
   "I've always loved the DEAD films, and it just plain sucks that George hasn't made one since 1968," stated Mr. Lucas incorrectly, apparently unaware of "Day of the Dead", made in 1985. "Yeah. It's time for another one," Lucas continued, explaining that ILM (Industrial Lights and Magic, LucasFilm's Special effects company) will be devoting some of its power to realizing Romero's unique, horrifying vision while working on Star Wars Episode 2.
   Ahh.. A dream come true, a collaboration between the coolest Georges on the face of the planet, I was on Cloud 9...
   "What you'll be seeing, " Lucas continued, not letting Romero get even a word in. "Are armies of zombies. We're talking oogles. It'll be amazing. The scope of this fourth DEAD film is beyond anything I've imagined, and I'm proud to help my buddy realize his vision."
   I just about passed-out, but then, I thought.. "oogles"? I couldn't see Mr. Lucas saying something like that.. I got about halfway through the interview before I noticed that Lucas was quoted as saying: "So, Romero, we gonna' find out why the dead like to eat brains?" Romero pauses and say's "No.. but there'll be lots of big lizards and sh*t."
   Man... I fell for that one...hook, line, and sinker.

   It's hard to get straight film news when it's this close to April Fool's Day. ESPECIALLY when you forget about the whole April Fool's day thing in the first place. I felt like a moron.
   Luckily, TRUE fans know that the dead DON'T go after brains, not in Romero's flicks. The brain-eating zombies are actually from the "Return of the Living Dead" series. I can see how it's an easy thing to let all of the undead movies you've seen just kinda' "melt" together, but be warned, they are drastically different.
   In lieu of trying to find reliable information during the mass hysteria of April Fool's day, I've decided to focus on the contrast and comparison of two tried-and-true horror series: "Night of the Living Dead", and "Return of the Living Dead". These two series are NOT related.

Romero's dark vision of the undead, as seen in "Night of the Living Dead" is far different from the campy antics seen in "Return of the Living Dead".    "Return of the Living Dead" was originally intended to be directed by Tobe Hooper and Produced by George Romero, but Richard Rubinstein of Laurel Entertainment asked Romero not to get involved, because he didn't want people to think this film was part of Romero's "Living Dead" series. Not only because of authorship issues, but also because of the content quality.
In fact, Rubinstein also tried to legally stop "Return" from using the term "Living Dead" altogether, but the ruling was found in-favor of the movie producers and allowed them to continue using it. Personally, I think that by naming the movie "Return of the Living Dead", they ARE suggesting that this is a sequel, and I certainly don't think that was an accident, either. In my opinion, it's certainly unfair.
   The concept that they had issue with was that Return of the Living Dead was basically one of the first horror movies to PURPOSELY make fun of itself. (Notice I said "ONE of the first"..) It was full of gags and stuff that made light of the whole situation, while still delivering the gore that folks expected from a movie such as this. I remember my favorite part:
   A zombie has just killed two police officers, and he, and his brethren, have eaten their brains. He then sits down behind the police radio and looks at it for a moment and then looks over to where his buddies are still snacking on the remains of the police officers. Radio operators are heard begging for information, as he looks back to the radio. He awkwardly (he's dead) reaches for the microphone and says in a very low, raspy voice: "Send more cops..."
   I just about fell over when I heard that one! It was like a pizza delivery order for zombies!
   Even though John Russo, who helped write "Return of the Living Dead", also helped to write "Night of the Living Dead", there are very DEFINITE differences between them. Most notably, the tone. In the Night of the Living Dead series, there's a very serious undertone that gets very little comic relief. It's almost a "what if"-type documentary look at Zombies, even though it's not really a documentary at all.
   When you finish watching a Romero "Dead" flick, it invites you to reflect and look at what could be. It's definitely geared more towards gloom and doom, which I would imagine must leave some folks feeling uncomfortable.
   The first movie of the series, "Night of the Living Dead" shows what happens when the Dead start to rise on a global basis. According to Romero, the reason behind the dead rising is NOT revealed in the movie. There are characters within the movie that suggest things like a nearby comet, but the actual reason is not revealed until the second film, "Dawn of the Dead". The idea is that when there's no room left in hell, the dead shall walk the Earth.
   The only problem I see with that is that apparently, no one's going to heaven either, because EVERYONE is coming back.
   The first of the Romero "dead" films is the "Night of the Living Dead" which focuses around one group of people as they try to cope with the sudden reanimation of the dead. Of interest is the global basis it operates in, represented by news casts which seem to accurately depict the status of a world gone mad.
   Part 2, "Dawn of the Dead", starts at a time where islands of people are fighting back, and escaping the zombie groups by living in fortified and/or sealed-off areas. The movie tracks one such group as they live within an almost fully self-sufficient environment, however, there are nearby groups that are jealous of their "fortune" and are all too ready to take it away from them.
   Part 3, "Day of the Dead" is where it seems that only the most fortified groups remain, or at least that's what the movie follows; a heavily armed, well fortified group that is basically trying to survive, while also trying to find a use for the zombies. Some interesting ethical and moral questions are raised during the bloodbath that ensues.
   Part 4, is currently being written and although Romero isn't ENTIRELY close-mouthed about it, he's not really saying much either. Basically, it's going to be a continuation of the first 3 movies, but possibly with more attention to the global scale of the event.
He has talked about his vision for the future of this "undead world" he's created, and it included the quivering pieces of gore that are all that's left of the decaying zombies from the first 3 movies.
   In fact, he's got an open-ended book which is supposed to have its first few installments released fairly soon. It's called "The Death of Death". Here's what Romero himself has to say about it: "My zombie films focused on small groups of people dealing with their immediate problems. "The Death of Death" will be an original novel with much wider scope, detailing what happens, minute-by-minute, all around the planet, during the few days that it takes for society to collapse when faced with a plague spread by walking corpses."
   His idea is that he will keep coming back to this "book" and add more chapters to it, and just keep writing it until he dies. He also noted that if he is forewarned that his death is imminent, he'll do his best to wrap it up quickly! (ya' gotta' love that guy!) My question is.. if THAT's what the book is covering, then what is the movie supposed to cover?
   My suspicion is that "The Death of Death" will be intended to be stories that occur BETWEEN Part 3 and part 4. This is probably his last Zombie flick in this series, although he HAS mentioned that a "dream-come-true" for him would be to make a zombie movie exclusively for the internet.
   It's possible that, in Part 4, he may finally decide to include a "remedy" for the undead problem, though I think it's probably more his style to kill-off everyone and start the human race over as basically undead cavemen or something. It could really go either way.
   In contrast to the "Night of the Living Dead", "Return of the Living Dead" uses the premise that military experiments have created a toxin that brings the dead back to life. The affected area is relatively small, though densely populated with the undead.
   Part one and two of "The Return of the Living Dead" series is more fan-oriented, even to the point where there's a cameo appearance of Forry Ackerman as a zombie, and both use the "whoopsy, accidentally opened the contaminated barrel with the zombie gas in it" premise. Part 3 had an interesting plot that, although it's not new, proved to be more serious than the other two of the series. Basically, the idea is that a girl is accidentally killed, and the boy sneaks her into the military laboratory to bring her back to life. Of course, is she the same person when she comes back? It's an interesting look at unlife as a zombie, and the gradual decay of a person as they spend time becoming more and more undead. Even more interesting is the concept that the person becoming a zombie has discovered ways of holding back their newfound cravings for human flesh, but will it hold back these cravings forever? It's not quite the gloom and doom of Romero's Dead series, but still makes for an excellent movie.
   If you make plans to rent or buy it, be sure you get the un-rated director's cut. Interestingly enough, you can tell which version it is by the photograph on the front cover: In the R-rated version, there's a picture of a girl with some holes in her sleeves, but in the un-rated version these holes reveal shards of glass that are sticking out of her arms.
   Finally, I hope the differences between these series are of interest to you. Perhaps you may have discovered that you've missed part of one of the series, or I've turned you onto something new. Just remember, these, and other zombie flicks are NOT all the same. In fact, aside from the idea that they are dead folks that are wandering among live folks again, I haven't really found any that are truly alike (unless you count Evil Dead 1 and Evil Dead 2... oh boy...don't get me started!).
   More Movie news next week, once these April fools stop copying each other's made-up news stories...

Anybody get me that "Shades of Death" road sign yet? If so, I sure hope you sent it certified mail, because I AIN'T GOT IT YET!!

"Deadguy's Dementia"is ©2001 by Mike Scott

Letters to the Editor
Matt's Rail     by Matt Drinnenberg
Well, it appears that Mike is still THE BIG KAHUNA when it comes to fortelling the future realities of Oscar life. Even if he did wuss out and not go for it on ALL categories, he is still reigning champion. This being the case, I've come to the point in life when certain observations---synomations, if you will---beg to be proclaimed. For certain, in this category....

I am the Norton to his Ralph
I am the Chef to his Kermit
I am the Robin to his Batman
I am the Kato to his Green Hornet
and possibly most crushing of all......
I am the Barney to his Fred. (Although, if I remember correctly, I actually observed Mike roll 2 strikes in a row, Flintstone style...it was awesome!!!)

Must say I was more than pleasantly suprised Russell Crowe ended up NOT looking like the JERK OFF he was acting like up until the moment his name was called. I never thought too much of him until I realized he was Cort in "Quick and the Dead", so I was happy to see him win, although I still believe Ed Harris deserved it more. Hopefully, he'll take it for "Enemy at the Gates", which I haven't seen, but it looks great, and he's always awesome.
   Was nice seeing Julia Roberts win, too. Unlike Mike, I've always appreciated her talents as an actress, and thought her speech was quite genuine. (And she didn't thank everyone for liking her, which is ALWAYS a plus)
   Figured "Gladiator" would take it, as it is truly the most deserving. The movie truly is EPIC in every sense of the word.

Well, gotta make this short and get back to work.
Till next time, take care and God Bless

Mike's Rant     by Michael A. Smith
Hello gang! College basketball is over and baseball has just begun. Ah spring.........when all is right in the world. Shall we begin?

Two notes on items that appeared in last week's issue: Carrie-Anne Moss played Trinity in "The Matrix." Also, I was paraphrasing Sir Arthur C. Clarke's words at last week's Academy Awards ceremony. What he actually referred to was "the greatest acceptance speech never DELIVERED." (I think we finally nailed that quote! LOL!---N)

Congratulations to my very own Maryland Terrapins who made the college basketball Final Four for the first time ever this year. Though they lost to Duke on the way to the title game, they should be proud of what they accomplished. I know I am.

Yesterday was opening day for major league baseball, and my Orioles are 1-0. The day began as it always does for me: wake up, scratch myself and then play John Fogerty's "Centerfield" to get me in the mood. (Thanks for the visual.---N) Sadly, this is the first time since 1986 that I have not attended opening day in Baltimore. I wrote Orioles owner Peter Angelos a letter explaining my reasoning for canceling my tickets and feelings about the team. Should he answer back (yeah, right!) I'll share it with my readers. (You're a maniac, you know that?---N) This past week also saw the first game of my son's high school team. They also are 1-0. On a more personal note, my son Phillip went 2-2 with a walk. He doubled to the gap and beat out an infield hit. (Sports lingo.....I love it.---N) He also scored all three times he was on. (That's my boy!---N) Autographed baseballs will be available on a first come, first served basis! Can you tell I'm a proud pop? (And I'm a proud uncle! Family doesn't have to sign up for autographed balls, right?---N)

Speaking of baseball, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on the recent apprehension of former Major League player Darryl Strawberry. In 1980, he was the number one pick in the major league draft. He had speed, power and one of the sweetest swings I have ever seen. He was an all-star many times over and was surely destined for the hall of fame. Unfortunately, he was also a wife-beating, drug-abusing asshole! It seems that Tampa has kicked out it's share of major leaguers. But for every Fred McGriff or Tino Martinez, players who stand out in the game not only for their stats but their behavior, you get Darryl Strawberry and Gary Sheffield. I've met both Gary Sheffield and his uncle, Dwight Gooden. Both were very nice and seemed genuinely grateful that I was a fan. Sheffield took a lot of heat this spring because he wanted a contract extension which he hoped would pay him what he felt he was worth. However, he has since retracted his request and, in fact, hit the game-winning home run for the Dodgers today. But I digress.
    By all accounts, Darryl Strawberry was a good kid from L.A. with incredible talent. He should have been ending a hall of fame career by now. Instead he sits in jail for AGAIN violating his parole agreement. What is it that makes these people feel they are invulnerable to the law and it's consequences? Is it because they know that they can only do what very few of us ever dreamed of doing...............and at such a high level? And that those of us who envy that skill are willing to indulge them? The funniest thing I ever learned in all my years in Baltimore is that millionaires LOVE getting things for free! I can't tell you how many Orioles players I would see in line at my theatre and would happily pass in for free. They acted like it was the greatest thing in the world. Is it the fact that we go out of our way and stumble over our praise for these athletes that gives them a sense of being above reproach?
    I remember watching a "Simpsons" episode that featured many ball players, including Strawberry. They satirized the then-popular habit of the opposing fans chanting "DARRRRYYYYLLLL" at Strawberry while he was on the field. "Don't you think that makes him upset?" Marge Simpson asks. "Heck no," Bart replies, "he's used to it." The next shot is of Strawberry in the outfield, wiping away a tear. Several years ago, Strawberry was diagnosed with cancer. In true hero fashion, he returned to help the Yankees win the world series. He proclaimed himself clean and sober. Yet, within six months, he was arrested again for drug possession and solicitation. He has been given chance after chance by anyone who ever cared about him, yet he continues to bite the hand that is reaching out to help. Recently he divulged that the cancer he thought he had beaten has returned. As hard as that is, it is no excuse for what he has done to his family.....................and himself. Like Steve Howe before him, he has taken his God-given talent and pissed it away. And for what? For a cheap high............for a few thrills. This man could have gone down as one of the greatest players of all time. Instead he will be remembered as a joke. Unfortunately, it's not a funny one.

Well, gang, that's it for now. Have a great week.

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg    "Deadguy's Dementia"is ©2001 by Mike Scott    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova, ©2001