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PCR #171  (Vol. 4, No. 27)  This edition is for the week of June 30--July 6, 2003.

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Creature's Corner

Hello all you PCR readers:
Again it was wet enough down in the catacombs to force the fossorial "cellar dwellers" to remain above ground with us. Not that we mind for there is plenty of room in the castle for entertaining guests. Especially guests which lurk in the shadows of mankinds existence. Besides, they were not going to leave until they heard the rest of the story of "The Trip Down South."

Phil and I woke up on Wednesday morning and ate continental breakfast cuisine at the Motel. Breakfast consisted of toast and donuts. After that we looked at our maps. Our first destination was an area around Homestead that was home for some African Agama Lizards (Agama agama). We drove the three miles to the street which was to be our destination. Driving down the road we were looking for a walled in school. The lizards were supposed to be a common sight on the walls. I was excited (as usual) for I'd never seen Agamas in the wild before and I always enjoy adding new species to my list. The neatest thing was that we could observe these lizards without having to go to Ghana or Togo to do it.

We drove up the road for a ways and saw nothing. We did drive by a school but it had no huge stone walls around it. We went down for several blocks past where we were told to go and finally turned around. Driving back by the school we caught sight of a lizard at least 9" in length. It was sitting on top of a little 30" high wall made of coral rock. The wall ran the length of the school but out by the road. This was the place. The giant wall we were expecting to see was actually a small boundary wall. Within five minutes we saw an additional 3 lizards, one of them being about a foot long. All of them were females. We took several pictures before getting back into the truck and following the ancient coral wall. We saw a couple of them on the wall where it runs along the side of the school. At that point it began to get cloudy and the lizards disappeared. We decided to make a pit stop at a conveniet store to get a drink and a snack while waiting to see what the weather was going to do.

It only rained lightly for about ten minutes. Shortly after, the sun came out in all it's brilliance, to douse the landscape with life giving light. We hopped back into the truck, driving back to the school again. We pulled up slowly, watching for signs of the agama's return to their basking spots. Within minutes a couple females and a smaller animal were up on top of the wall. I got the telephoto lens out and took a few pictures. Suddenly, a splash of bright color caught my attention. About twenty yards away, on the wall, a beautiful male Red-Head Agama could be seen. The colors on this animal were so intense they defied description. His head was an extremely bright, almost fluorescent red color, his body a deep blackish-blue. His tail had a wide band halfway down it's length that was as bright as the animal's head. This lizard was a magnificent specimen and a true sight to behold. Compared to the more curious, drab colored females, this guy was very skittish and would disappear whenever we moved at all. Trying to even get a picture of this majestic beast proved to be very difficult. With patience and perseverence we managed to get a couple marginal shots. One other male was seen but he was more typical of most import specimens, lighter in background color with more subdued features. The brightly colored male was obviously the alpha male of this colony. I must also add that several of the females had some varying degrees of red on them signifying they were gravid. One female in particular was very plump, obviously getting close to parturition.

We walked along the wall taking a good look at it . It was pocked and honeycombed with holes, supplying the agamas with a vast network of both hiding places and nesting sites. Unfortunately we noticed several spots where the wall looked like it had been torn apart. It didn't take a brain surgeon to realize that unscrupulous reptile hunters were slowly tearing down the ancient wall in search of agama hiding spots. I imagine in a few years the wall will be gone, the perfect agama habitat destroyed. The thing that really bugs me is that these lizards are one of the least expensive in the trade. I used to import them from Ghana at the cost of one dollar each. They are still similarly priced today. Hardly worth destroying a wall that has been there for so long. Some people just don't get it.

I was going to finish this story this go round but alas, it is late, and there are other things to be told. I PROMISE, next week will conclude the S. Florida trip.

Okay, here we go. It took some thought, but, "Twenty Eight Days Later," I finally figured out how to approach Twenty Eight Days Later, so here is my review: "Twenty Eight Days Later."

I LIKED IT!! There's not really much original thought here but the execution of the flick was quite successful in my opinion. Interestingly enough this film had many similarities to lots of end of the world horror/sci-fi classics such as The Last Man On Earth, Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn and Day of the Dead, Return Of The Living Dead, The Crazies, World Without End, Night Of The Comet, The Stand, and of course, The Omega Man. With such an array of influences, how could this film fail. Survey says; it didn't. This movie did everything it was supposed to do; excite, scare, create intrigue, questions, and answers to those questions. In short, this 8 million dollar British flick is a winner, taking in 10.1 million dollars at the box office.

Director Danny Boyle worked from a screenplay written by Alex Garland who wrote "The Beach," another film directed by Boyle. The story concerns experimentation on chimps with a newly created "Rage" virus. A group of animal rights activists break into the lab to release the unfortunate chimps, not realizing the danger they are about to unleash on an unexpecting world.. The group is attacked and thus the virus is spread.

Twenty-Eight Days Later an injured bicycle delivery person wakes from a coma only to find the hospital void of any life. He wanders the streets of London in search of anybody he can find. He seems to be the last man on earth. He stumbles into a church and comes upon a scene of horror when, looking down into the pews, he sees scores of dead people. Calling out to see if anyone responds several of them jump up and the chase is on. Jim finds out in a hurry about the nature of the plague that is killing humanity; it creates psycho, bloodthirsty freaks. He runs and is rescued by two people who are still alive. They eventually find a father and daughter, but not before they lose one of their own. Once they hook up with the father/daughter team (played by Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns), it's off to the outskirts of Manchester as they chase a radio signal promising salvation in a world gone mad. Once taken in by their "saviours" they wonder whether the new surroundings are truly safe or just a set up for something more devious than the poor diseased wretches could ever dream up.

To say anything more about the story would give too much away. Suffice it to say this is one you should see. It is a little dark and gloomy looking with very subdued color but I think that look is in part why the movie works so well. The dark, somber mood of the film is one of it's strengths. Though many of the shock parts can be seen, they are always a little non-descript so as to provide the viewer with a chance to enhance the hopelessness and horror of the situation within their own dark thoughts.

This movie will be seen by some as a tribute to many of the "end of the world" greats from the past. Others may view it as a blatant rip-off. The beginning scenes of murder and mayhem are right out of a George Romero movie. The army unit reminds me of the soldiers in both The Last Man On Earth and Day Of The Dead. Boyle did a great job of using sound as a scare tactic which worked quite well. I even jumped a couple times.

I always admire movies which are better than I expect, especially when the cast consists of mostly unknowns. The most familiar face to americans would have to be that of Brendan Gleeson. He played Frank, Hannah's dad. His list of credits includes (most recently) Gangs of New York, Braveheart, The General, and A.I. The cast as a whole did a great job, each adding something to the script. As far as this being touted as a "zombie flick," I don't really agree with that. The afflicted are not dead, and they are certainly not slow.

So, what are you waiting for? Go out and see this one during the long, holiday weekend. I give this movie a solid THREE SCREAMS on the Creature Scale.

Lastly I would like to mention a new comic that hit the stands a couple months ago; "Spirit Of The Amazon." This one is truly different with a good story line and nice artwork. Months ago I picked up a book for fifty cents that was written in Portugese. Though I couldn't understand a word of the story the art was good. There was also a note promising the book would appear in english. A couple months ago I saw the first issue in english so I picked it up. I loved it. It was a good story which had a deep underlying theme. I couldn't wait for the second issue. It was worth the wait. The cover was breathtaking showing an almost naked, green-skinned girl (Alanya) swimming alongside a pair of dolphins along a coral reef. It made me want to jump right in and join them. (swimming with the dophins of course, get your minds out of the gutter). I took the book home and read it before any of my other books for the week. Once again I was impressed.

Spirit of the Amazon is the brainchild of The Boys From Brazil (no, not the movie) and produced by a company called NW Studios (New Warrior). Written by Orlando Paes Filho with art by Rodrigo Pereira, Renato Munhoz, and Dave Santana, the story is about a group of friendly aliens from a variety of planets who come to earth to try and save what's left of the natural ecosystems of the planet before mankind can destroy what's left of the Earth's natural resources (shades of Klaatu And Gort). They have a base called the nest hidden in the vast jungles of Brazil. Native peoples of the region (can we call them Indians, I hope so) are also on the protection list. Since they are from various planets they have various physical differences. Each being has some trait that allows them a certain affinity with various types of plants and animal groups on the planet.

The world's largest arms manufacturer, Samuel Greenberg is planning to bring the world to it's knees by controlling the natural resources of the planet while creating chaotic diversions for the world's governments to deal with.

If you like your comics with lots of governmental cover-ups, intrigue, espionage, and environmental themes then pick up "Spirit Of The Amazon." There are lots of underlying themes here that are both well hidden and out in the open. I would even say the book is highly spiritual with supernatural overtones as well. This comic will make you think a little about the state of the world we live in. (It's also interesting to see how the creators perceive our government and its policies). I highly recommend this one.

Anyway, have a Great week!!! C-Ya!!!

"Creature's Corner" is ©2003 by John Lewis.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.