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"Ics Age: The Meltdown"  by Mike Smith
WRESTLEMANIA 22, Reviewed  by Mark Terry
Border Security is a War on Terror  by Joshua Montgomery
Matters of Faith  by Nick King
Lizard Talk....Moon Knight....Tampa Indie Film Fest IV  by John Lewis
Hate To Say I Told You So....07-27-07....The Turtle Triumphs....5,256,000 MINUTES....That '70s Show....Kill Me Now....Passing On....My Favorite Films -- Part 14: Two this week. "Jaws: The Revenge" (for laughs), and "Glory" (for real)  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 315  (Vol. 7, No. 14). This edition is for the week of April 3--9, 2006.

  • Tom DeLay Quits
  • Katie Couric Leaves NBC for CBS
  • Homeland Chief Arrested on Child Pornography Charges
  • Tampa Premiere of "Unearthed"
  • 10 Years of "Creeping Death"
    • TV Producer Dan Curtis Dies
    • Strange Agents to appear at Ybor Fest
    • The Tampa Premiere of The Guzzo Bros' "99"
  • Tom DeLay Calls It Quits
    After battling a seemingly never-ending and ever-increasing litany of scandalous charges, former House Majority Leader, and Texas Republican representative, Tom DeLay, an 11-term lawmaker, stepped forward Tuesday and announced he would resign, effective "sometime before mid-June".

    DeLay is fighting an indictment in Texas as part of an investigation into the allegedly illegal use of funds for state legislative races.

    Money laundering charges tied to a re-districting scheme. Improper campaign contribution handling (buying votes). Ties to lobbyist, whistle-blower, and convicted felon Jack Abramoff. Late night comedians are having a field day with this one.

    What does DeLay say to all this? "I have no fear whatsoever about any investigation into me or my personal or professional activities."

    Well...that's great, Tom! Anyone else in your position would be, you know, pretty nervous by now, I should think. Nervous enough to cut their losses and resign....oh wait, you did that. But you're innocent. And you're quitting for the "good of the Republican Party" because of all the time these messy investigations are taking up. Very thoughful of you. Kind of like when Nixon resigned because the Watergate scandal was distracting him too much to concentrate on the issues of the day. Not because he was guilty or anything.

    Good luck, my friend.

  • Join Couch Potato in a Message Board victory dance!

    Katie Couric Leaves NBC For CBS
    After a 15-year tenure at NBC, Katie Couric, co-host of The Today Show announced she was leaving the show to join rival network CBS as chief anchor and official replacement for Dan Rather. Bob Schieffer, who has been temporary anchor since Rather stepped down last year, welcomed Couric to CBS.

    Her presence has long been credited for edging out rival morning shows like Good Morning, America and others. Not everyone is a Couric fan, and critics are wating to see how the bubbly, smiley interviewer comes across with a deadly serious role, reporting what is often tragic and world-changing news to a huge audience.

    The day after Couric announced she was leaving for CBS, NBC chose Meredith Vieira (host of the daytime version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) as Matt Lauer's new partner on the "Today" show.

    Homeland Chief Arrested on Child Pornography Charges
    Once again, one of Dubya's beloved hand-picked apostles in the church of His Administration ("You're dong a heck of a job, Brownie") has been found to be...mmmmm....less-than-a-perfect candidate after all. In an office with, you know, draconian security measures in place to protect us from those nasty terrorists, like Homeland Security, you'd hope one of the high-ranking officers wouldn't be a freaking pedophile! Who does the background checks here?

    Police say Brian J. Doyle sent pornographic movie clips to what he believed was a 14-year-old Polk County, FL, girl after seeing her profile online. The 14-year-old was actually an undercover police officer participating in a sting operation (dontcha love those).

    The 55-year-old deputy press secretary is the fourth-ranking official in the Homeland Security public affairs office.

    He had no problem leaving his badge in place (clearly identifying him as a Security Agent) in photos and webcam exchanges with the teen. He made several sexual propositions including requests for performing sexual acts. During online conversations, Doyle revealed his name, who he worked for and offered his office and government-issued cell phone numbers, the sheriff's office said. So, luckily for the sheriffs, he wasn't a particularly bright pedophile.

    Last I heard he'd racked up over 20 counts involving sexual conduct with a minor. Sheriffs arrested Doyle on Tuesday at his Silver Spring, Md., home, while he was still online with the girl, and booked him into the Montgomery County Detention Center, where he was waiting to be extradited to Florida.

    You're doing a heck of a job, Brian!


    Pheromone Films
    Produced by Craig Kovach, Dennis Oravec, and Joe Davison
    Written and Directed by Craig Kovach

    I gotta hand it to Craig Kovach and Joe Davison--they really know how to throw a premiere party. Pulling out all the stops, the cast and crew screening of sci-fi action film Unearthed last Thursday at El Centro Ybor was a first-class endeavor, starting with a most enjoyable schmooze-fest before the show.

    CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE (a new browser window will open)
    Tampa Film Comissioner Krista Soroka animatedly conversing with an attendee of the Unearthed premiere party.
    From left, Unearthed producer/director Craig Kovach, yours truly, and co-producer/actor Joe Davison. Yes, that's a custom shot glass in my hand!
    The main cast gathers at the bar. From left, John Bernath, Joe Davison, director Craig Kovach, Katharine Kissingford, and John Frans
    Here, I'm flanked by two of the film's stars, John Frans, left, and, John Bernath, right. Not sure what I'm drinking there, it started to get hazy about then...
    William Moriaty and I got started on libations pretty quickly as we attempted to meet a few people (we knew virtually nobody) before the movie started. Between these awkward exchanges we'd eye the generous display of props for the movie provided in the lobby---a very nice touch and added to the ambience. (Seeing them again after the movie was more meanigful as now we had images to associate with them, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) Tampa Film Commisioner Krista Soroka came up to me and called me by name (I got a hug, too, how cool), and we chatted a bit; she's great. She was the only one there I'd met before.

    The good turn-out of cast, crew, press (ahem, that's me), and well-wishers were soon ushered into the main auditorium where director Craig Kovach made some opening statements and gave a few thanks. William and I sat pretty squarely in the center of the steep stadium seating arrangement. I just had a chance to oggle the huge video projector sitting in the aisle a few rows up (obviously, Craig and Co. were not cutting any corners here at exhibition time any more than they had on their movie) when the lights dimmed and the show started.

    An ancient Indian artifact, or what seems to be one, is unearthed near downtown Tampa by an embattled archeologist, Mallory Page (Katharine Kissingford) struggling to protect her finds from interfering agencies. Easier said than done as a series of homicides seem to involve the researchers and their work, the police, and yes, even evil extraterrestrials!

    The chief among these bad guys is a tall demon/alien named Voss (John Bernath in a great make-up by Marcus Koch) who subdues his henchmen/zombies with an injection of a green liquid, which also can be used to assassinate the unworthy. Hot on their tail is a lone gunman Dietz (John Frans) with his own agenda, but it is this individual the story seems to revolve around. The main "buddy cops" doing the running and the chasing are played by Joe Davison and Tom Savini who managed to steal virtually every scene they were in.

    Car chases and bullet-riddled show-downs quickly become the order of the day. And the unearthed artifact itself?  Ah....you'll have to see the movie to find out why all these factions have come to do battle over it.

    The best analogy I can make quickly is to think X-Files meets Die Hard.

    The mini-DV video format was stretched to its very limits on the huge screen they chose, I don't know if it was necessarily flattering in many scenes. The producers did not opt for a "film look", so the video looks like a video---BUT, most scenes held up surprisingly well against a variety of obviously challenging lighting situations. (Camera person/D.P. Tracy Fitzgerald informed me afterwards much of the film was shot on the Canon XL-1.)

    The performances from misters Davison and Savini made any scene they were in more entertaining -- I don't know when I've actually enjoyed Savini more (I didn't expect as much, to be honest).

    The movie ran a little long as some expository and reaction scenes could've been trimmed a bit. They obviously wanted to show off where the enormous special effects/car chase/bullet budget went; most of the second half of the film (and much of the first half, actually) is comprised of very noisy car chase/gunshot scenes, but Tampa scenery is heavily featured, which is cool.

    Despite my heavy metal background, I am generally not a fan of heavy/punk/thrash/rap music for soundtrack ambience as I think it detracts from the action. I figure the filmmakers found the effect of the music made the cityscape seem seedier and more sinister (and it does), but extended exposure can make much of it feel like a very long music video inserted into action scenes.

    I met director Craig Kovach at the show and found him to be just the nicest, gentlest guy---stark contrast to the polarizing Joe Davison (just kidding, Joe!). I truly wish them both the best of luck in getting their movie distributed. (Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, Unearthed has no distribution deal yet, but a few interested parties have forwarded tantalizing encouragement.)

    Good booze, good snacks, and a good presentation of a good movie with a lot of heart topped off a memorable night in Ybor.

    Creeping Death Long-time readers may remember last year's NolanRadio interview with Chris Woods and Simon Lynx of ICON Film Studios. Somewhere in that verbal banter was a reference to The Red Freak and Creeping Death, ideas created by Woods and developed by both boys as far back as their days in Utica, NY, and transplanted to the University of Tampa which Chris attended in the mid-'90s. Basically, The Red Freak was a horror host of an anthology horror series for his school's A/V department's closed-circuit TV show. If you're thinking public access TV, that's pretty close, as UT's A/V center became Tampa's public access television during the '80s. I frequently confuse the two and Chris reminds me that Creeping Death was never on public access.

    Chris Woods as The Red Freak
    In commemoration of Creeping Death's 10-year anniversary, Chris recently made me a copy of some of his best episodes. These provide an invaluable insight to the early workings of Chris Woods' deranged mind---beginners stuff, sure, but the talent that would emerge for later films like BLEED, Chameleon, and Sever was already at work.

    The most endearing thing about the Red Freak is that Chris plays him himself and is trying his level best to act dark and evil and it's adorable if you know him personally ("am...I...in...your...head...yet?"). The make-up effects, however, are darn good (especially considering he's working on a student's budget), and the camera work is pure Woods. I watched the following episodes:

    NIGHTTIME. This is probably my favorite. A college student involved in producing video is chillin' in his dorm room (convenient set) when he notices a very unusual TV show that has just come on. The creepy host/announcer (played with great relish by Luis Matos) is evidently conning victims to be willing participants in their own grizzly murders---only they think it's a joke until it's too late. Afterwards, the host looks directly into the camera and bids the viewer (in this case, fellow UT student Brett McDavid) to tune in again, and implies there are ways to become more involved. "John", our seduced student, simultaneously horrified and captivated by what amounts to an underground "snuff" show, can't find any information on the program once it's over. After about a day of frustration he happens on the program again, same set-up, only this time, somehow the host has left a message for John in his dorm room. It offers a meeting for the two to get together and they do. The true nature of this meeting and of the show itself becomes more devilish in nature when John has to sign a waiver/contract before he can get involved.

    Lisa Klarich as Madame Eve
    In between episodes there are the "bumper spots" with host Red Freak and a lovely siren accomplice called The Mistress of Death, Madame Eve, played with vampish abandon by Lisa Klarich, who, to me, bears an uncanny resemblance to Woods' later femme fatale, Amanda Beck (BLEED, POP). Both the Freak and Madame are very good at entertaining us between segments. Next up...

    WARHAMMER. This is Chris's personal favorite, and it is definitely well-made, but the story has to do with role-playing gaming obsession, something I can't identify with. The craftsmanship in this segment is amazing, however, and it is this---and the heavy-metal soundtrack--that kept my attention (the heavy music worked well to convey disorientation and attitude, usually I am not a big fan of it in movie soundtracks). Our hero, Jimmy (Steve Tanzy), is distraught over the fact that he can't seem to win at his favorite role-playing game ("Warhammer", I presume). His obsession grows to the point of psychosis and he believes his action-figures are speaking to him. They start giving advice and seem to be protective. Unfortunately, Jimmy's girlfriend (Elizabeth Leaberry) has a short patience for this and threatens to leave him. The toys, though, feel she's...in the way. Chris Woods makes effective use of stop-motion animation to convey the toys' revolt. This must've been very complicated as stop-moton is not as easy to do with video as it is with film. Still, the effects worked well and a good episode resulted.

    BLOOD FEAST 1997. I got this far with the tape when my TV malfunctioned and hasn't worked since (I don't think it was because of the Red Freak!). I got as far as the opening credits which show Chris's tantalizing attempt to update the Hershell Gordon Lewis '60s classic. In fact, H.G. is featured in a little micro-interview just before the feature starts. As soon as I can I will re-visit this "Blood Feast" remake/update.

    For a more detailed history of The Red Freak and Creeping Death, visit Chris's website for it: http://www.redfreak.com/CreepingDeath.html


    I wish to acknowledge the sad passing of legendary TV producer Dan Curtis at 79 of a brain tumor. I did not know Mr. Curtis had passed away until I received this week's Mike's Rant. Baby-boomers were forever affected by his groundbreaking supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows in the '60s. Other extremely notable contributions shortly thereafter forever cemented him as an icon of horror pop-culture: the TV movies The Night Stalker, and The Night Strangler (the former the basis for the short-lived 1974 TV series starring Darren McGavin. At its first showing, The Night Stalker was the highest-rated TV movie of all time), Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, Dracula (both '70s TV movies starring Jack Palance), and the movie adaptations of Dark Shadows. Dan Curtis was a pioneer in the field along with such luminaries as Rod Serling and Richard Matheson. He will be sorely missed.

    Dr. Mayhem Inc. and Agent Orange of Tampa's local sci-fi experimental performance art band Strange Agents, will be performing a short piece, "A is for Atom" during the shorts movie program showing at 6:30 pm Sat. April 8th at the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image-HCC Black Box Theater.

    "99", the new feature film produced by The Guzzo Brothers and 1 Day Films that has already been nominated for TWO awards in national film festivals, will hold its Tampa premiere on Saturday, April 8 at 9 p.m. at Muvico Theatres in Centro Ybor, 1600 E. Eighth Ave. in Ybor City as part of the 2006 Ybor Festival of the Moving Image.

    Thus far, 99 has been accepted into six film festivals around the country – Garden State, New York International, Cosmos, Barebones, NJ International and the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image. It also has an upcoming private screening for distributors in L.A. Its WORLD premiere will be at the Garden State Film Festival (New Jersey) on Sunday, April 2. Visit www.99themovie.com for more on the film.

    Shot primarily in Tampa and St. Petersburg, well over 100 individuals from the local community made up the cast and crew that made this feature film possible.

    Summary: The campus free spirit and scam artist has been GIVEN a bar in tropical paradise. All he has to do is pass a drug test that is impossible. Knowing he failed, he plans the ultimate heist to steal back his tainted specimen and replace it with a clean specimen.

    The campus pretty boy has spent his four year college career hard at work trying to win a bet he made during his first week of college freshman year, stating he would sleep with 100 women by the time he graduated. He has to sleep with one more woman to win the bet, but with just 12 hours to go in the bet and everyone he has ever crossed while in pursuit of number 100 looking for revenge before he leaves campus forever, winning the bet is the last thing on his mind. Now, he just wants to survive.

    Two different people, two different stories, colliding in one entertaining film.

    This film has no profanity or nudity, but promises to deliver over 99 guilty pleasures.

    This is the fifth film written, directed and produced by Pete and Paul Guzzo. Their last short film, The Dance, was accepted into over 10 film festivals around the country, garnering awards and accolades along the way. Pete and Paul Guzzo are hosts and founders of the Tampa Film Review (www.thetampafilmreview.com) and in 2005 the Weekly Planet named the Guzzos the Best Reasons to Believe the Local Film Scene Is Alive and Well.

    The Ybor Festival of the Moving Image celebrates its fourth year of presenting a wide variety of exciting cinema with over 60 films, documentaries, shorts, features and live performances that will thrill the critic and novice alike.

    Visit www.yborfilmfestival.com for more information on the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image.

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    "Mike's Rant" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith     "La Floridiana" is ©2006 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith    "Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2006 by Vinnie Blesi    "My Middle Toe Is Longer Than Yours" is ©2006 by Mark Terry    "Splash Page" is ©2006 by Brandon Jones      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova    
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