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Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR #335  (Vol. 7, No. 34) This edition is for the week of August 21--27, 2006.

The Doubletree Inn Con; C.P. Indie Film Fest for August  by Nolan B. Canova
La Floridiana Tidbits  by Will Moriaty
"Idlewild"  by Mike Smith
Tampa Comic Con....Cracked Magazine Makes News....VHS Grindhouse: "Legend of the Werewold"  by Andy Lalino
Seen the King Lately?...Movie News....Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 33: "Blazing Saddles"  by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Tampa Comic Con
I almost didn't make it. Started up the car on 10:30am Sunday morning and...nothing. Battery was dead. Took it over to get a new one put in...and viola! By noon-ish, I was back in business and ready for my star trek to the oft-held con. For those readers who may not know what I'm writing about, the Tampa Comic Con was held this past Sunday at the DoubleTree hotel off Cyprus in Tampa. While I prefer horror or movie-themed cons, I love the intimacy of the Tampa Comic Con, and the fact a lot of PCR staff attend.

I kind of knew I'd be seeing a lot of people I knew there, including a gaggle of PCR writers. Sho 'nuff, before I even walked into the DoubleTree lobby, there was everyone. Before mingling, however, I nearly became part of a scene that was being lensed for a new locally-shot gargantuan hottie movie, presumably a sequel to "The Amazing Colossal Woman" starring friend Brenna Barry in the title role. As I approached, a crowd of people ran away! Was it my after shave? No, simply they were being directed to do so, simulating the attack of the Colossal Woman. Now, I had no idea at the time that Brenna was starring in a movie, nor had I ever heard of it. It was great seeing Brenna at the con and catching up. She looked very eye-catching in her skimpy outfit, which was anything but colossal.

After my exposure (ahem!) to Brenna, I ran into PCR's John Lewis and his daughter Ashley, who were masterminding the con's popular film festival, sponsored by Creature Productions. John and Ashley didn't have much time to chat, as they were busy with the fest, however I knew my time at the con was limited (had to leave by 2:30pm) and there was little chance we'd have a substantial conversation. Hope to get more time with them at the next con.

I forget who I ran into next; Rick Danford or Nolan and the gang. I think it was Rick, as he was hanging out (understandably so) with Brenna Barry, who Rick and I had occasion to work with in the past. Rick seemed to be doing well, making the rounds and mingling - Rick was and is always great at promotions and marketing when it comes to his projects. We chatted a bit and resolved to catch up even more once we got inside the convention.

Next up was our fearless leader Nolan Canova, and his legion of PCR writers and contributors: filmmaker Chris Woods, filmmaker/resident PCR grouch Terence Nuzum, and PCR message board contributor C.A. Passinault, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time that afternoon. I missed seeing PCR regulars Will Moriaty, Ed Tucker (who resides in Jacksonville, and was not able to attend), faux Republican Brandon Jones, Greg Rivera, make-up maestro Corey Castellano, Drew Reiber (Drew, where are you???), Joe Davison, Lisa Zubek, Lonnie Dohlen...and Matt & Mike, who were there in spirit.

It was always fun seeing Nole, who I had conversed with via telephone approximately a week earlier. Wish I had more one-on-one time with him, but I was on limited time, due to the fact I was scheduled to assist in remodeling my bathroom later that afternoon (fun!). I especially wanted to talk with him about some of his comments he posted on his "My Space" page, which I found very alarming. But, Nole appeared as chipper as ever and far removed from any downer mood swings - the way it should be. Chris Woods and I caught up briefly. He's been busy at work, while working feverishly on projects for The Horror Channel - good luck Chris!

I finally was able to make it inside after a lengthy mingling session outside the venue. I paid my admission amidst the intimidating crowd of Stormtroopers (love seeing those guys and gals) and made my way into the modest dealer/guest auditorium. I made a bee-line to see a friend of mine who I knew would be in attendance - the amazing Terry Cronin! from Melbourne, Florida. Terry's always-expanding resume includes co-creator of the popular horror comic "Students of the Unusual", which was colorfully represented at his eye-catching booth. He's also known as one of the "3 Boys" in Melbourne's 3 Boys Productions, who holds one of Florida's finest film festivals: The Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival (M.I.F.F.) which is coming soon in November (mark your calendars!).

Terry and I had a fantastic time chatting and catching up. Students of the Unusual is more popular than ever, with its tireless co-creator/contributor enthusiastically pitching it to the fans. Last year in '05 Terry and his creative partner Pat Martin were featured on an IFC original production "Comic Con Chronicles", a documentary spotlighting three San Diego Comic Con vendors, of which SOTU was one! It was an incredibly well-done show, with Terry, Pat and their horror comic center stage - you can't buy that kind of publicity! Being featured in that documentary worked well for Terry and Students, and he often gets complements not just on quality of the comic, but being recognized from the program as well. Couldn't happen to a nicer person. Ask your local comic book dealer for this excellent comic book.

Next door to Terry was con regular Pete Mongelli, there promoting the upcoming Screamfest 2006 to be held in Orlando for the first time. Down the row from Terry and Pete were filmmaker Bill Black and Brenna Barry (BB and BB!), there in promotion of Brenna's new starring vehicle, presumably a remake of "The Amazing Colossal Woman". Rick Danford was present at her booth as well, and we all continued our conversation from outside. Brenna seemed thrilled at starring in a sci-fi flick, and I let her know that most fanboys would be are all-to-thrilled to see her in a picture such as this. Hopefully, we'll be seeing more of Brenna in future fantasy productions.

After all the meetings were done, I was able to peruse the dealer's room. As noted above, I wish there were more vendors there who catered to tastes other than comic books, however it was still fun looking at all the superhero action figures, ceramic busts, and other fun collectibles. I managed to find a couple of booths selling back issues of FM, Creepy, Eerie, Fango, etc., but was in sticker-shock when discovering the prices. One seller was offering a decent selection of old VHS tapes, of which I purchased: "Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde", "Planet of the Vampire Men" (Al Adamson), and "Track of the Moon Beast". All were decently-priced. Wish there were more cult DVD's for sale, but it was tough to find anything other than the usual humdrum Hollywood blockbusters and expensive bootlegs.

The top celebrity at the con was the illustrious Noel Neill, who portrayed "Lois Lane" in the '50s TV show "Superman". It was great to see her still active and enjoying her legendary status as a superheroine. Neill was accompanied by several famous comic book artists such as Nick Cardy.

The day came to an unfortunate early end (2:30pm), when I had to return home to take care of some home remodeling. But at the next con I hope to stay longer and hang out with fellow PCR fanboys.

Cracked Magazine Makes News
I find it pleasantly amazing when I pick up a mainstream newspaper, in this case the St. Petersburg Times, and see an article not on Britney Spears, American I-dull, or the latest Pixar abomination, but rather something cool from better days, in this case Cracked magazine.

After reading the article (featured in the business section!) and acquiring more info from Nolan, I discovered that Cracked had been sold to a "pudgy young lawyer" named Monty Sarhan. The seller was a figure oft-mentioned on PCR: Dick Kulpa (a regular at Tampa Comic Con).

Though I have not yet seen the "Premiere Issue" of the "new" Cracked, the blurb describes it as far removed from the Cracked of old. It's sadly and supposedly more like a "lad mag" (never heard that term until now), such as Maxim and FHM. Goodbye newsprint and hello glossy inside pages. Upon review, I am fully prepared to lambaste the "new" Cracked should it cross the line of abandoning its charm, which was established in the heyday of the great humor mags.

In my opinion, good fanboy entertainment is the perfect blend of talent and the pop culture of the time. I believe we still have talented filmmakers, comic artists, writers, etc. out there, but when they execute a craft in a time period devoid of the proper pop culture elements, like from 1987 to now, most efforts fall flat as a pancake, so I wouldn't be surprised if Cracked isn't at all what we remember it to be. It's one thing to lampoon 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark". It's quite another to lampoon 'MI:3'. Seriously; why even bother?

I should also point out the author’s negative tone about the magazine, calling it a “juvenile comics rag known for its bathroom humor” and “a top time waster in the nation’s study halls”. Don’t you just love being preached to by a high and mighty…journalist? Is there nothing lower? The SPT wisely left off the ‘journalist’s’ name (it was bought from the AP), as to not further embarrass him or herself.

I'm reminded of how hurtful it was when Mad magazine lent its moniker to that God-awful TV 'comedy' show that managed to out-worse SNL. Looks like Cracked is about to suffer a similar fate, thanks to these wonderful new generations who laughingly believe they're better than the '70s.

It was reported that Sarhan hired on ‘writers’ from ‘SNL’ and Comedy Central as part of the new Cracked crack staff. Wow, now they really are doomed.

I'm off to read ‘70s back issues of "Crazy", and be entertained by that delightful Nebbish.

VHS Grindhouse: "Legend of the Werewolf" (1975)
Here's a horror picture from '75 that could easily have passed for a '60s flick. In fact, werewolf fans will note that the lycanthrope in this film very much resembles Oliver Reed's interpretation from Hammer's "Curse of the Werewolf". Released by a company called Tyburn Film Productions, Ltd., who consisted of veteran's from British TV's "House of Hammer" series, LOTW is an admirable and impressive attempt at creating an enduring horror vision in the wake of Hammer's decline (Britain's Amicus studio seemed to have the same goals, and ultimately were more successful).

The story is the weakest element in the film. It begins with a horse-drawn wagon traversing through the French countryside, owned by Maestro Pamponi, a colorful potion peddler, his wife, and "Tiny", their simpleton assistant. They come upon a great-looking corpse swaying from a hangman's noose. For some reason they decide to camp there for the night, and Tiny goes off to shoot a rabbit for supper.

On the hunt, Tiny encounters (and shoots) a feral "Wolf Boy" who was foraging for grub. He brings the injured boy back to Pamponi, who gets the inspiration to use the boy in his showman's act. Before long, the "Wolf-Boy" becomes a traveling sensation.

When Wolf-Boy reaches adulthood, the lycanthropic trouble begins. On the night of a full moon, the young man becomes a blood-hungry werewolf and kills Tiny. He's then banished and sent to live in the city of Paris. He quickly acquires a fitting job as a zoo assistant. His boss the Zookeeper is played by the amazing actor Ron Moody (beep-beep!), who reminded me of a gruff Marty Feldman. The boy, named Etoile (played by David Rintoul) is right at home, tending to some mangy, toothless wolves and other aging animals.

Every day at lunch, three -uh- ladies of the night visit the zoo. They are introduced to Etoile, and of course an infatuation blossoms between him and one of the hookers - Christine. Etoile doesn't immediately know she's a whore, but soon finds out, and may God have mercy on the souls of her johns, who are torn apart when the full moon blooms.

The baffling, animal-like murders come to the attention of Prof. Paul (the legendary Peter Cushing), who is a Paris coroner. He's quick to insist the murders are the work of a beast...or something possibly supernatural. The police aren't so quick to believe, forcing Paul to go on his own mission to solve the mystery, with his ventures taking him to the house of ill repute and through the grimy sewers of Paris.

I found LOTW to be a very enjoyable horror movie, with nice production value, a great performance by Cushing, able directing by veteran Freddie Francis, and welcome attention to detail. While I don't think it's a masterpiece, it's a noble hair's breath away from Hammer quality and should not be missed by true horror fans.

My copy is a pristine edition from a company called Interglobal Video.

"Oddservations" is ©2006 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.