Monday, December 23, 2013

Stories to Read (part 1?)

Because I read a lot, and because not everything I read is very good, thought I'd compile a list of recommendations of stories that I enjoyed, and found myself remembering long after--which is rare, because a lot of what I read goes in one eyeball and out the other. So maybe you'll enjoy them too, or maybe not.Tastes vary, after all.

Rhododaktylos Nyx by Brandon Nolta -- I'm not one for flowery language, but the poeticness of the intro caught my eye--who knew post-apocalyptic futures could sound lovely!-- and serves as an interesting contrast to the hard reality portions of the story. It's a thinker, and if you like thinking, this might be for you.

Captain Quasar and the Popularity Contest On Goobalox Five by Milo James Fowler -- Out of all the Captain Quasar tales, this one remains my favorite. (They'll all good, of course.) It's good fun and likely to make you laugh ... that is if you aren't a scrooge.

Alligators by Twitter by John Wiswell -- Absurdism via Twitter. Never fails to make me laugh.

The Pony Spell by Gary McNulty -- Another silly story where a curse somehow turns into a wish fulfillment for the entire family.  

Womanspace by Ed Rybicki -- I've mentioned this story before, but it's worth bringing up again because it's an enjoyable "poke at the sexes" kind of tale. I do think people came down on this too hard, and for that, they are total scrooges. 

The Watchmaker's Wife by Lydia S. Gray -- A sad tale of a dream made into a clockwork woman, who faces the cruelties of both the world and of men. But the ending gives the reader hope of a better future for our mechanical heroine.

Day of the Creamsicles by Don Raymond -- More absurdism, because gosh darn it, it's fun! Great voice in this one.

The Third Attractor by Mjke Wood -- The story that inspired "The Mission" for me. If you can get past the techno-babble in the beginning, you are rewarded with an amusing twist. Also, it's one of the few stories I've encountered that doesn't portray the religious character as a narrow minded bigot.  

Captain Confederation by Jim Robb -- Funny story about over-regulating super heroes and their activities. 

That's it for now. A much lighter (in terms of tonality) list, but would be kind of a bummer to recommend downer stories for the holidays, not to mention, I really don't care for "weep-woe" protagonists.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Movie Review: The Toxic Avenger (1984)

No, this isn't the missing Avenger from Marvel's universe, although that would be really cool. The Toxic Avenger is one of those schlock films filled with 80's cheesy goodness. Action, gore, explosions, ridiculously over the top deaths, bad one-liners... yes it has it all!

The story behind the film is pretty interesting as well. As the story goes, originally this film was meant to be a horror, and there are scenes that would've fit nicely in a Friday the 13th movie, but the film writer did a twist, making the monster more of a good guy and thus a superhero.

Also should be noted that the director's previous experience was with pornos, which explains some questionable shots in the beginning title sequence. Don't worry though, the most you see are some tits and humping, which was standard fair in 80's movies.

The film starts with a cheesy short narration on pollution, and one has to wonder if Captain Planet hijacked the narration. Our story then begins at the local health club, where we meet the mop boy Melvin, who is the epitome of greekdom. He's scrawny, he's a virgin, he's uncoordinated, he's the target of bullies.

Health freaks Bozo and Slug (yeah, that's their names, and there is no end to the silly names in this) decide to pull a nasty prank on poor Melvin. Bozo's girlfriend tricks Melvin into putting on a tutu and to make out with a sheep in front of the entire health club. In a fit of embarrassment, Melvin throws himself out a window, and falls into vats of toxic waste that look suspiciously like green Jello. And by the power of grey skullillegally dumped waste, Melvin becomes... a horribly mutated freak with super strength and super-size. Note: Melvin never removes the tutu.       

As you'd expect, one look at the newly transformed Melvin sends everyone fleeing, which forces Melvin to make the dump his new home. However, with his new powers comes new responsibilities, as he's able to sense evil-doings, much like Spider-Man's "spidey sense".

And this is where the fun begins.

The town Tromaville (a nod to Troma Entertainment, this film's production house) has so much crime going on, it would give Gotham City a run for its money. Not only does Melvin go after his bullies, he fights drug dealers and gangsters, leading all the way up to the corrupt local government.

Some of the most creative deaths I've seen, they're downright glorious. Like making an ice cream sundae in a villain's mouth, using a dismembered arm as a melee weapon, six-way Mexican standoff, and tossing a little person into a dryer. And to add insult to death, a Melvin's signature mop to the face!

Warning: There is a scene where a dog gets shot.

Oh, and hope you like "Ride of the Valkyries" because they play it a lot; it's pretty much Melvin's theme song.

Overall, it's a very silly film that is both awesome and hilarious. The acting might make you cringe, because it's pretty bad, even for a schlock film. But despite all the gore and terribleness, comes a very positive messages, when all the townspeople band together to save their favorite toxic hero from annihilation.

So gather your friends and family around the yule log, grab some eggnog, and sit down to watch The Toxic Avenger. Because you can only watch It's a Wonderful Life so many times.