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.
Archives of
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
PCR Archives 2005
PCR Archives 2004
PCR Archives 2003
PCR Archives 2002
PCR Archives 2001
PCR Archives 2000
Email PCR

"Fever Pitch"
 by Mike Smith

Liberal vs Conservative
 by Nicholas King

The Reptile Show...."The Amityville Horror"
 by John Lewis

Mike Spits In Jane Fonda's Face!!...Jawsfest
 by Matt Drinnenberg

It Wasn't Me....Here Comes The Force....Passin On....The Pope....Jaws: The Story, Part 15
 by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2005!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our sixth calendar year!
    Number 265  (Vol. 6, No. 16). This edition is for the week of April 18--24, 2005.

Faith Wars, Episode IV: A New Pope

  • NolanCon finds a sponsor
  • April Coffeehouse Film Review
  • Doubletree Inn Giant Comic Con
  • "Brain Robbers From Outer Space, Part 2"
  • Well, the votes are in and the first German Pope elected in hundreds of years is the successor to the widely loved and respected John Paul II. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took the name Pope Benedict XVI and celebrated his first public Mass as the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday after one of the shortest conclaves in a century, which sent an unmistakable signal that the church - buffeted by 21st-century problems - is intent on sticking to tradition.

    An old hard-liner, Ratzinger was close to John Paul and frequently met with him. They regarded each other as good friends. The election of Ratzinger came as no surprise to Vatican insiders. As late as the funeral of Pope John Paul he the delivered the homily, Ratzinger was seen as a clear front-runner.

    However, the very traditionalist tendencies seen as valuable before, gave some critics pause as they wondered if the new Pope might be more divisive than unifying, considering his hard-line views. The Cardinal college sees the 78-year-old pontiff as a "transitional" Pope which allows the world to take in the legacy of John Paul while Benedict stays the course.

    The darkest omens came in the discovery that Ratzinger was a member of Hitler Youth as a young man, but it was at a time that membership among Germany's young was compulsory---and Ratzinger went AWOL on them anyway. The world's Jews don't take this part of the Pope's life seriously, as his contributions since that dark time have been enormous. I can understand the correlations some are making between Nazi and "hard-liner" (anti-gay, against women in church positions, anti-birth control, etc., etc.) but Catholics are not generally known for their liberalism, are they?

    NolanCon Finds a Sponsor
    My pet project and the thing that has consumed so much of my time over the past several weeks (by way of explaining why the PCR's been rather anemic lately) has taken a dramatic turn with the addition of a major sponsor, one Neil McCurry of the People's Community Bank of Sarasota and who also happens to be the president of the Sarasota Film Festival. Neil contacted me last week and we met at the Romeo Coffeehouse Film Review. In an effort to get his name out there as a friend to Florida Filmmakers, Neil is directly involving himself in sharing the risks of this loony venture of mine which, due to him, has now taken a huge leap forward in stability. He's also talking about contests and cash prizes for a mini-film fest at NolanCon. There are also plans for a sort of "scholarship" program. (Think about winning your own full-length motion picture for starters.)

    But it all starts and ends with dealers tables sales, and to some extent, advance ticket sales. Thankfully, I was able to move a few tables this week which is tremendously encouraging! Let's keep it going, time is of the essence. This is shaping up to be bigger than even I imagined (and I can imagine quite a lot as Han Solo once said). I appreciate and am extremely grateful for all your support.

    Keep an eye on the NolanCon website for updates to the guest list and itinerary.

    April Coffeehouse Film Review
    A motley assemblage if ever there was one. From left, Chris Woods, Neil McCurry, Corey Castellano, Nolan Canova, Rick Danford, Gus Perez, and Greg Rivera
    Ben Waller, left, and Pete Guzzo, drinks in hand, discuss the projector set-up.
    Paul Guzzo, left, and Coffeehouse owner/operator Walter Romeo share a light moment.
    "The Mob". I'm not sure of all their names, hope I don't get rubbed out! From left, girl who came with Matt Camero, Matt Camero, Robert Elfstrom, and, I believe, the two actors who played in Last Contract, Daniel Simmons and Scott Jones.
    Some new faces graced the hallowed halls of the Romeo Coffeehouse at this month's Film Review in Ybor. Old friend and special effects make-up man extraordinaire Corey Castellano, fresh off his stint on Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, and new NolanCon sponsor Neil McCurry of the Sarasota Film Festival joined Rick Danford, Chris Woods, Greg Rivera, Gus Perez and myself at the front table to witness the mayhem and talk of world conquest. But more on that "world conquest stuff" some other time...right now let's get to the movies...

    Indiana Jones and Runes of Ende by Mike Beazel. Postponed from last month due to disc glitches, the filmmakers decided to play it safe and brought a digital tape. Ironic, isn't it, that in this digital age, when push comes to shove, word to the wise is tape is still the safe way to go. Indy searches a small island for the Runes of Ende and encounters a Nazi officer and his mercenary henchmen. After several rounds of fisticuffs, gunplay and whippage, Indy escapes with the relic. A lot happens in this well-made fan film, and the whole Coffeehouse became caught up in this homage to the Indiana Jones series. I know I was. Action-packed, good photography and stunt work. Music was loud and rousing. A fun fan film.

    Last Contract by Mike Beazel, starring Scott Jones and Daniel Simmons. On the same tape as the Indiana Jones film, a short that had to do with the mob and hitmen (lots of violence at this month's Review!).The Mob's top hitman from Chicago has moved to Tampa to take it easy. There he meets up with a next generation mobster sent to help him retrieve a box for "The Boss". The younger man eagerly wants to kill the thief, but he is not home when they arrive. They grab the box and prepare to leave when the younger hitman reveals his shortened five year plan for recognition within the Mob. Several gunshots later, only one of the men leaves with a new life. Like the previous film, good performances and high action keeps one riveted to the screen, but unfortunately, the dialogue was lost in the most consistent gremlin of the Coffeehouse Fests: badly distorted audio. Hopefully, we can take another look at this one in the future.

    Trail of Tears by Voodoo Mojo Video Productions, Inc. A look at the crash of the advertising agency industry in 2001-2002. Very funny film, pretty much puts every dotcom and corporate has-been on the street wearing the requisite "will work for food" signs (but customized for their former employment). A biting commentary on the transient nature of success, particularly in the advertising business. You shouldn't laugh but you can't help it!

    The Dance by TOO Productions and 1dayfilms: The Mob's most notorious and legendary hitman has grown old and senile and the Mob is worried he may spill his secrets to the wrong people. To protect these secrets, the Mob sends their new stud hitman to take out the legend. But, if the legend is being taken out, he plans on going out on his own terms. Starring Robert Elfstrom as the old hit man, and Matt Camero as the punk waiting to take him out, his partner played by Jereme Badger is not far away. Co-starring Al Sapienza (The Sopranos) as the nephew. Once again, director Pete Guzzo has delivered a strong film with all the right elements: great cast, great script, and great photography. The Dance will keep you glued to the screen even if you suspect the ending (which may not be quite as obvious as you'd think). Long-time TOO Productions fans will probably recognize Matt Camero and Jereme Badger from the Guzzo brothers' landmark A Joyce Story, a couple years back. Damien Kincannon, a young man mentioned briefly a couple issues back for his work on Ben Waller's Above crewed on this film as a cinematographer.

    PLEASE NOTE: I do these reviews from memory and a scattershot series of written notes at best. If I have overlooked any films that played that night (which are frequently unannounced beforehand), or gotten any names wrong, please drop me a line and set me straight. I'll update this issue immediately!

    The Doubletree Inn Giant Comic Con
    Although Brandon Jones and I have covered many, many of the Tampa Giant Comic Cons in the past, this event marked a slight departure in emphasis with the addition of the Creature Productions' mini-film fest that took place in a room across the hall from the main dealer's room. Long-time readers may recognize Creature Productions as the brainchild of PCR's own John Lewis, ably assisted by daughter Ashley Lauren and Phil Frank (Phil was unable to attend). This was the first Doubletree Comic Con where I was accompanied by legendary PCR hellion Terence Nuzum (Brandon Jones was unable to atttend). This was also the first major convention I was able to place NolanCon flyers at---let's hope that drums up some business!

    The guest lists for these Cons are always pretty impressive, this installment included (but was certainly not limited to) Mark and Stephanie Heike (FemForce, 21st Centurians), Ethan Van Sciver (artist Green Lantern Rebirth, X-Men), Nicola Cuti (writer Warren, Charlton, and DC Comics, movies) and Brandon McKinney (City of Heroes). Filmmakers Gary Wood (Saving Star Wars) and Joel D. Wynkoop (cult filmmaker, Creep, Lost Faith, Dirty Cop No Donut, Brain Robbers From Outer Space) joined the festivites as the Con shared more of the film world with the comics. I looked for advertised guest Dick Kulpa (Cracked Magazine), a favorite of mine, but apparently he was unable to attend.

    Cult filmmakers were well-represented this day. Left, the irrascible Joel D. Wynkoop with his main squeeze Cathy Holseybrook
    Except for bassist Scott van Sickle, you're looking at a mini-BLADE reunion! L-R, Corey Castellano (drums), yours truly (guitar), John Lewis (vocals)
    An extremely rare smile from Terence Nuzum, center, flanked by yours truly, left, and Corey on the right. Terence was amused by some combative remarks from Corey towards me.
    OK, the film room wasn't exactly jam-packed as I take a snap from the front of the room, but we were an enthusiastic bunch. Terence Nuzum, foreground, reflects his ambivalence to the program at hand.
    I'm always one to give young people some recognition. I just discovered Wet Ink Studios, represented here by, L-R, James King, Robert Rhine, and Ralph Bednarski
    Last group shot before we leave the Con, L-R, Ashley Lewis, John Lewis, Terence Nuzum, yours truly, Corey Castellano
    I'd barely arrived when John Lewis pounced on me in the hallway to the dealers room to make absolutely sure I knew when the films would start, haha. No small surprise as his and Ashley's efforts were among the offerings. I was not able to see the featured fan film Saving Star Wars (and I understand it's very good), due to trying to cover the entire Con and meet as many people as possible. Even crazed as I am, I can only be so many places at once. About this time, good friend, Make-Up FX man Corey Castellano joined us with his nephew Joshua and friend. We did see a few films...

    The Scary Gary Hour. Creature Productions' send-up/tribute or attempt at a cheesy horror-hosted program. Well, it certainly was cheesy! John explained that this video which ran at least a half hour was intended to be cut up into smaller segments and intercut with another feature. I'm glad to hear that, because smaller segments is about all I could take of the very unlikable and nearly unwatchable Scary Gary with his ghoulish (think Marilyn Manson-like) make-up and bargain basement improv "comedy" cavorting in a set right out of public access TV. Funnily, the "feature" intended to host these bits looked more promising, but it wasn't done yet. Glad to see someone playing with the hosting angle anyway.

    Daydream. No background provided on the flyer but as I recall this was produced by a female. A stop-motion excercise in hallucinagenic imagery (and moving fruits) done on video. And we all know how hard it is to do stop-motion on video! Actually, I really liked this one, good music and animation work and I encourage the filmmaker to keep it up. I'd like to see another one.

    Buried Troubles. The debut effort of Ashley Lauren Lewis. Slice-of-life story intermingling the loves and troubles of several young male friends. Not bad, especially for a first-timer, unintelligible audio being the only consistent problem, a frequent gremlin of burgeoning filmmakers. I'm overlooking minor color problems for all the programs as the video projector/DVD player combo was acknowleged to be out of alignment or something.

    Permanent Job. Ah yes, Permanent Job. The film that caused all the ruckus over two years ago between Terence, John, Ashley and myself. Now, after such a long time, we were prepared to give it a fresh look. I'm so glad we did. Mike "Deadguy" Scott, Marc Reynolds, and Eric Avant star in a story of three friends concerned a fourth has sold out too much to the corporate mentality and isn't really one of them anymore. Having set up a card game, they await their friend ("Deadguy") who shows up almost immediately in a hurry to leave. Disgusted, the four talk about the freedom of a 9-to-5 job vs the pressures of corporate life even despite the money. As the night wears on, the successful friend appears queasy and panicky about the time. Fainting in a sweat, suddenly his corporate contollers explode into the room to "plug him back in" to the office.
    Two years ago, I was offended that the tight editing, animated titles, and decent audio belied the claim that this was John's "first film". He's since acknowledged the behind-the-scenes help and a second look at Permanent Job refreshes my perspective on the incisive commentary it conveys.

    Terra forming Mars. A Nick Cuti-penned script spawns a retro-documentary with colorful and cheesy effects meant to look like the school films of yesteryear. Extremely effective at doing this with the older professorial type, the energetic younger woman and the curious young boy well cast. Lots of fun and highly recommended.

    The next movie would've been Nightveil which I regret not seeing as it was the product of Convention guests Mark and Stephanie Heike, but we only had so much time to stay at the Con. And although there were originally two rooms scheduled to host the films, somewhere that got cut down to one, so the producers had to scramble to fit everything in. Other films I would've liked to've seen include Batman Dead End, World's Finest, Grayson, Wynkoop's Creep and several trailers. Doug from Creature Productions did email me the trailer to Grub which looks to be a high-action sci-fi thriller along the lines of Triple X, Predator and...dare I say it...Unearthed

    Back in the main dealers room, Terence had discovered some rare concert DVDs and I was encouraged at the higher number of good quality classic comics and magazines to be had. I shook the hands of a few classic-era dealers and tried to break the ice with talk of NolanCon, ha ha. Hopefully that will reap some benefits down the line.

    Sorry if the emphasis seems to be on films this time and not the comics (as it has been for all other Doubletree reviews), it's just the first time for this excursion and I was into it. The reluctantly-on-hiatus Brandon Jones was my comics guy, he won't be coming back for a while (an extremely unfortunate setback in his personal life forced this move), but we wish Brandon the very best and await his eventual return. In the meantime, we will continue to cover the comics, art and movie scene to the best of our ability.

    Brain Robbers From Outer Space, Part 2
    Part 2: The Conclusion.
    Our scene opens in a run-down trailer with a seedy, dirty-looking loser (played with great relish by Dan Pestana, who I remember from Public Access---only I don't remember his hair being this long, ha ha) reading a book with a double-entendre title like "STIFF Competition" or something. He's bickering with his floozy wife about typical trailer trash stuff. He's really hamming it up with a redneck drawl.

    A noise outside prompts the missus to have Dan investigate before she leaves for the bar. Outside, Dan is confronted by bright car headlights, out of which a bloody zombie emerges (no, he didn't drive up). The zombie makes short work out of Dan, the wife AND their child. The wife is stored in the black limousine we see now is driven by the two evil alien henchmen (played by Joseph Miller and Warren Madden, same as in Part 1).

    Narrator Gus Perez says that society has taken a sudden interest in black magic and aliens lately. Covers of tabloids race across the screen suggesting the alien invasion they usually crow about may not be nonsense after all.

    Back on the spacecraft, Morphia ("Alex Michaels" in the credits but I suspect is actually cross-dressing Walter Meseda) is examining the latest failed attempt at some experiment.

    Back in the city, TV reporter Mike Johnson interviews David "The Rock" Nelson at his home about the latest sighting. (David "The Rock" Nelson is the producer/director of "Conrad Brooks vs The Werewolf" one of the most notorious pieces of VHS video schlock ever created in the history of the universe. Of course, I give it four stars!) Next door or thereabouts, the neighbors are attacted to a bright light in the sky.

    Gus resumes his narration telling us that not only are sightings of UFOs on the rise, but reports of the walking dead as well! Is there a connection?

    Alien abductions are on the rise as well, with celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Jerry Brown and Art Bell addressing the subject. Soon after, the monstrous aliens abduct a small child and bring her back to Morphia's spaceship, presumbly for experimentation.

    Meanwhile, Domino (Jose Ortega) finds Lilith's sister Evelyn (played by Lara Stewart, whose character we haven't seen since early in Disc One) and they decide to find a tarot reader at the local carnival to help with their search for her goth sister Lilith (also played by Lara Stewart, although sometimes a stand-in is used so they can appear together). First, Domino and Evelyn stop by the "Virgin on the Bank building" in Clearwater. (Since this scene was filmed, the glass with the image on it has been shot out of the building, so this is one of the few---or only---movies to graphically show close-ups of the Virgin before she was damaged by a vandal.) Using a funny mish-mash of new-age babble and familiar rock lyrics, the tarot reader predicts great danger for the couple.

    Later, another woman who had earlier contacted the tarot reader at the carnival is attacked on the street by two strange creatures (one of whom is played by Grady "The Lobster Boy" Stiles in zombie make-up) and is killed.

    Now, Detective Gustavo Perez begins to describe his more direct activity on the case. He is present when Domino is kidnapped by the two alien henchmen. Although narrating and occasionally appearing onscreen, Detective Perez has curiously little involvement in the screenplay for someone with such intimate knowledge of this story!

    Later at the local graveyard, Evelyn is attacked and killed by a zombie in a very graphic heart-ripping-out scene! The make-up effects really start picking up at this point.

    Back on the spaceship, the captured Domino is chained to a wall as Morphia tries her level best to seduce him into being one of her "pets". Domino resists, which infuriates her. In another part of the ship, the bumbling henchmen also infuriate Morphia with casual horseplay. As Domino is led around, the "experiments" conducted by Morphia are revealed (in part, anyway) to be an attempt at creating immortality. Also, she repeats her intention to eliminate Officer Jamie (Ah, yes, Conrad Brooks, who has yet to surface in Part 2---but lo, and behold....)

    Officer Mary (Raye Ramsey) comes to get Jamie (Conrad Brooks) from his home to help search for the alien spacecraft. This leads them to a park near the spaceship. There, they are attacked by a horde of the undead and must fight for their lives. I must say, this scene stands apart, nearly head and shoulders above the rest, for the amazing graphic zombie effects displayed! The undead are shambling, bloodied and truly threatening human hulks bent on destruction. Jamie and Mary must fight for their lives. Jamie is able to take out a few with his pistol, Mary must fend off one attacker with a baseball bat! Funnily, before and after this scene, Jamie, in close-up, remarks with a smile, "It's hard to find something when you really don't know what you're looking for." One of those great Conrad-isms.

    Having survived the zombie attacks, they continue their search for the spaceship.

    Back on the spaceship, Morphia is still trying to seduce Domino by, basically, masking herself as Lilith, the true love of his life. Close by, the real Lilith awakens from her vampiric slumber, discovers what's happening, and overtakes Morphia so Domino can escape.

    Now outside the craft and stumbling around in near shock, Domino finds Lilith's sister Evelyn who has been transformed into the living dead (from her earlier attack), but strangely, Domino doesn't really seem to notice!

    Cut back to the spaceship where Lilith has bound Morphia to a table. Discovered by her three henchmen (the third played by "Mac" McBride from Tampa's public access), only a paltry attempt is made to free her as the henchmen decide their freedom is at hand and leave her tied up. Mention is made here of the imminent arrival of the "Supreme Emperor" (or something like that), obviously Morphia's superior, but this character is never mentioned again. Only one henchman (Mac) stays behind and attempts to free Morphia in exchange for promised sexual favors. Morphia turns the tables and binds him to another table, which he mistakes for sexual horseplay. Morphia leaves, carrying an impressive-looking alien weapon, presumably intended for Officer Jamie. Lilith discovers the bound and gagged henchman, and disgusted with his weakness, aims a surgical knife at his groin and attacks (fortunately, this scene is cut short, ha ha.)

    Out in the darkness (and after a brief run-in with the undead version of the dirty loser who opened this chapter), Domino and the undead Evelyn rest momentarily. Evelyn caves to her vampiric/undead desires and attempts to attack Domino who, finally, sees something's wrong with her!

    Outside the spacecraft, Morphia runs into Lilith who confronts Morphia in what could be called one of the most unearthly catfights ever captured on video! After a struggle, Lilith prevails in a well-staged and graphic display of violence using the queen's own weapon. (I must reiterate how the make-up effects really improve dramatically in Part 2.)

    Officer Mary and Officer Jamie close in on the spacecraft. From out of the darkness, Domino, back out stumbling around (I guess he overpowered Evelyn!), is almost mistaken for a zombie and nearly shot by Jamie---fortunately, Mary identifies Domino and the three are cheerfully reunited.

    Overhead, an airplane is heard approaching, which Jamie identifies as an Air Force bomber! (Wow, quick I.D.!) They reason the bomber was sent by the government to destroy the aliens and their craft. True enough, now the whistling sound of a dropping bomb fills the air. Within seconds, the whole alien landing site is destroyed. While Domino and Mary are relieved, Officer Jamie is positively the most jubilant. (It's one of those priceless Conrad Brooks displays of overacting, "YEAH!!!!...YEAH!!!...WE GOT 'EM!!!! WE GOT 'EM!! GIVE IT TO THEM!! GIVE IT TO THEM!!! IS THAT GREAT?!?! IS THAT REALLY GREAT?!?! WOOO HOOOOOO!!! GO, GO, GO, GO, GO!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!" Long-time schlock fans might remember a similar scene from Conrad's "The Saturn Avenger vs the Terror Robot" (B&W, 1996). The only loose end, the undead Evelyn, shows up out of the darkness and is quickly punched out by Mary. (Post-publication note: Director Hewlett says the character punched out is actually Ted the Zombie from the earlier scene in the park. Since the dark figure who's punched by Mary is small-ish and hard to make out, I still prefer to see it as Evelyn, whose character would benefit from this more satisfying ending.) Officer Jamie, satisfied with the resolution to this affair, crosses his arms and says, almost pensively, "now...that is show biz!"

    Epilogue 1: Officer Jamie and company relax near a hotel swimming pool, content that they've earned a vacation. Horseplay and antics ensue as they play around knowing they've defeated the aliens.....at least for now.

    But what of Detective Perez, who began this whole story from a hospital gurney?

    Epilogue 2: He finishes his tale to the female doctor (orderly/nurse? played with a wink by Lara Stewart) who decides he must be placed in the looney bin with other psychopaths. Gus struggles as the male orderlies (one played by local low-budget film guru Mark Nash) wrangle with him and he is unable to escape. In one chilling scene, as he's being whisked away through the hospital corridors (actually the hallways of the legendary University of Tampa's Henry B. Plant Hall) he's allowed a look out the window, where he sees the woman he told his story to accompanied by a perfect duplicate of himself! An alien replicant? Gus barely has time to process the implications as he is quickly and unceremoniously dumped in the psycho basement, never to be heard from again.

    Although this marks the end of the narrative and the credits roll, the filmmakers are not quite done with you yet. A lengthy exposition afterwards warn the viewers to beware the power of the government/corporate mind controllers. That history is written by the oppressors, not the oppressed, and that illegal mind-altering drugs, intended for promoting consciousness-expansion have been unfairly and unrepentently forbidden by a draconian government because they know it will lead to enlightenment.

    A list of suggested reading follows (I have many of these tomes) that is truly useful if you want to more deeply appreciate some of the themes explored in "Brain Robbers From Outer Space"!.

    Whew! And you thought B-movies like this were single-layered!

    Please consider making a donation to help support Crazed Fanboy! Click on the "donate" link below and give whatever you can. I sincerely thank you for any and all consideration.---Nolan
    Amazon.com Platinum Visa Card
    In Association with Amazon.com
    "Mike's Rant" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2005 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino    "Splash Page" is ©2005 by Brandon Jones    "Creature's Corner" is ©2005 by John Lewis      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova    
    Crazed Fanboy dotcom is owned and operated by Nolan B. Canova

    Back to Top