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Intimations of Apocalypse

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Monday, April 18, 2011 09:48 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Art (Not), Cinematic Titanic (Not), Comedy (Not), Harry Potter (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Star Wars (Not), Tron (Not), Video (Not), Web comics (Not)
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Monday, January 4, 2010 11:01 AM
On the Stage: Cinematic Titanic New Year's Eve Triple Feature
 by Fëanor

I don't think I've ever gone out to an event on New Year's Eve - I've always just stayed in with a close friend or two and watched the ball drop. But this year I eschewed the ball and, accompanied by Peccable and TrackerNeil, headed out to the Keswick Theater in Glenside to watch the Cinematic Titanic crew make fun of three really bad movies in a row. (Many thanks again to P & T for providing dinner and transportation.) The movies were: a rather depressing and silly apocalyptic Japanese film called War of the Insects, or Genocide, which has the typical message of Japanese monster films, that being, stop acting against nature or eventually it will have its revenge on you; an Italian strongman movie called Samson and the Seven Miracles, which is suspiciously devoid of miracles, although it does have an unintentionally hilarious scene where Samson turns around and gets konked on the back of the head by a bell he was ringing; and a creepy, icky, surreal Ten Little Indians-style dysfunctional family murder drama called Legacy of Blood. I actually had already bought the Cinematic Titanic DVD of Legacy of Blood, but had no trouble watching them tear the movie to bits again. It's a pain getting out to the Keswick, the venue has only two very small bathrooms for which there are always long lines, and the seats aren't particularly comfortable, but the sound is great, and it's a beautiful old theater. I wasn't used to staying up so late and ended up with a rather painful, pounding headache throughout the last two movies, but I still had fun. The five members of Cinematic Titanic did a great job and remained on point and funny throughout. It was a fine way to slide over into 2010.
Tagged (?): Cinematic Titanic (Not), Comedy (Not), Movies (Not), On the Stage (Not), Personal (Not)
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009 09:00 AM
(Last updated on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 09:05 AM)
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.



Tagged (?): Art (Not), Cinematic Titanic (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Food (Not), Hellboy (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), News (Not), Products (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Video (Not), Warren Ellis (Not)
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009 03:56 PM
On the Stage - Cinematic Titanic (The Alien Factor)
 by Fëanor

I've enjoyed the many episodes of Cinematic Titanic I've downloaded, but whenever the guys took their show on tour, they never came anywhere near Philly - until now! When I saw they were hitting town in June, I made sure to get tickets as soon as they went on sale. The guys were at the Troc this past Friday and Saturday night, doing a different movie each night. Poppy and I saw them Friday night when they were doing a cheesy sci-fi film called The Alien Factor. We really weren't sure what kind of crowd would show up, or how early we'd need to get there. We decided to arrive about when the doors were supposed to open, but as we walked up we were surprised to find that there was already a line that ran all the way down the block and then curled back on itself! We jumped on the end and soon met a brother and sister who, like ourselves, were MST3K fans from way back. We had fun talking to them, and checking out the other people in line. It was a real mix of people - young folks probably in their late teens and early twenties, and plenty of other folks 20 or 30 or maybe even 40 years older. I was wearing my vintage MST3K shirt for the occasion (featuring a picture of Trace Beaulieu as Dr. Forester and the text "I'M EVIL!"), and a number of other people were wearing similar shirts. At one point someone carried a Tom Servo model through the crowd - that got applause and cheers. I was especially pleased that one woman had come dressed in an old school Gizmonic Institute jumpsuit. Poppy and our linemate even thought they saw local weatherman Dave Roberts in the back of the line, but we never confirmed that.

The Trocadero staff were surprisingly disorganized about getting everybody searched and getting their tickets scanned and getting them inside, but after some confusion we did finally enter the theater and grab some seats in the balcony. While we were waiting for the show to begin, an amusing pre-show slideshow was projected on the screen on stage, containing entertainingly odd vintage pre-show slides from old movie theaters mixed in with random trivia about Cinematic Titanic. Particularly interesting to me was the guide to pronouncing the names of the cast members. Turns out Mary Jo Pehl's last name is pronounced "peel," and Trace Beaulieu's last name is pronounced "bowl-you." Once the slides were done, a comedian and bit actor named David "Gruber" Allen (an old friend of the cast, and the man who coined the abbreviation "MST3K") got on stage and did some stand-up, as well as some musical bits, accompanied by J. Elvis Weinstein on guitar. TV's Frank also came up and did a song and some other stand-up bits. I was pleasantly surprised by all this (mostly quite funny) opening comedy material; I hadn't expected anything of the sort. After the opening stuff was over, Joel came out (to much applause and many cheers) and introduced everybody. Then they all took their places at either side of the screen and the movie started.

The Alien Factor is pleasantly awful in classic MST3K fashion. It's set in a small American town and opens with a stereotypical sci-fi/horror movie scene: a young couple are drinking and making out in a parked car in the middle of nowhere and are suddenly attacked by a monster which kills one of them and leaves the other in shock. Turns out an alien spacecraft has crashed nearby, freeing the three ferocious zoological specimens that were on board. Now said beasts are roaming the countryside, killing random rubes. The local police (all two of them) are stumped until a mysterious expert arrives in town to investigate a supposed meteor crash, and ends up helping hunt down and dispose of the alien monsters.

The acting is universally awful, natch. It looks like the production had three cars available for use and just had to dress them up as best they could to be whatever they needed them to be. At least that would explain why a two-door sedan with a flashing light on top is used as a cop car, and why a hatchback is used as an ambulance. Part way through the movie there's a pointless and sad musical interlude in a bar featuring a bunch of guys wearing ruffled shirts and playing generic classic rock (a local band who demanded to be put in the movie, perhaps?) while two girls dance listlessly in the corner, and another man sits eating nuts and drinking beer with single-minded speed and fierce determination. The nut-eater later goes home and stumbles around his house for long, painful minutes until finally clambering down into the basement, where, in a scene meant to be scary that's actually just hilarious, he turns on the light and reveals one of the alien monsters, which promptly tears him to bits. Later a woman reporter wanders the woods endlessly while nothing happens. The dramatic conclusion, which is meant to be sad and thought-provoking, features the hero and savior of the story (the mysterious expert who, it turns out, is really an alien, as well) being tragically killed. (Spoiler!)

The basic story - of an alien who disguises himself as a human and comes to Earth to track down a fellow alien who's a killer - has been done more successfully in a number of other movies, but the one that I remember most fondly is The Hidden, starring Kyle MacLachlan as the alien cop. Joel and the gang didn't mention The Hidden, but did a great job tearing The Alien Factor to bits. They all had scripts they were following, but I sense at least some of their gags may have been ad libbed. Anyway, they were all clearly having fun, often laughing along with us at their own and each other's jokes. The humor was classic MST3K stuff, with a fun added twist: now that they're not on TV, they're free to curse! Also, unlike in their Cinematic Titanic DVDs, they didn't include any frame story about the Time Tube or the nanotated disc or any of that, and they didn't stop the film in the middle to do a comedy bit. It was just movie riffing straight through. Overall, it was a different experience seeing them live than it is seeing them recorded. There's something special about enjoying comedy with a live audience. There's a subtle interaction between performer and crowd that really adds to the experience. Plus, just being there with a bunch of other fans, and hearing them laugh along with me, was great.

Even though the tickets were crazy expensive (with Ticketmaster "convenience" charges added in, I ended up paying $99!!) I'm really glad we went. It was a very fun night.
Tagged (?): Cinematic Titanic (Not), Comedy (Not), Movies (Not), On the Stage (Not)
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Monday, June 15, 2009 12:37 PM
A Few Unrelated Items
 by Fëanor

  • We had a busy weekend this past weekend. Poppy and I went to see Cinematic Titanic live Friday night (full review forthcoming), then we went to a barbecue Saturday afternoon, and a surprise birthday party Sunday afternoon.


  • Last night I had a disturbing dream that myself and a group of other folks (possibly my family? If so, they weren't my real family, just my dream family) got turned into zombies. We weren't your average zombies, though; we weren't moaning, shambling, unintelligent beasts. All of our smarts had survived intact. And we were physically intact, too, if I remember correctly; no rotting flesh or any of that. We were hungry and realized we were craving human organs (specifically brains), so we planned an assault on a police station. Once we invaded it, we started beating prisoners and cops alike into unconsciousness, trusting on our superhuman zombie strength and nigh invulnerability to save us from any counterattacks. I tried to convince my compatriots to drag the people inside the station before we started cutting their skulls open with saws to get at their brains. Even though I was a zombie, I still found all this quite disgusting. So I was pretty glad when I finally woke up! Even if it was to the dog whining for no good reason.


  • I submitted my tattoo to Contrariwise, a literary tattoo website, a while back, and today it got posted.
Tagged (?): Cinematic Titanic (Not), Comedy (Not), Dreams (Not), Internet (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), Personal (Not), Tattoos (Not), Zombies (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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