Wet Hot American Summer •••• [four out of five]

WHAS is recognizable to any State fan… but not immediately.  …  It could be mixed bag of strange and hilarious, but it was rarely uninteresting and it was always 100% more inventive than what most sketch TV had to offer, then and now.  When The State went off the air, members resurfaced here and there, but it wasn’t until Wet Hot American Summer – where the whole crew reappeared, including show director / editor David Wain – that it seemed like we might get a proper followup.

And it happens, but only after making you believe that this might be an actual movie.  To a casual viewer that could make the weirdness seem out of left field, but it was totally a payoff worth waiting for for State fans…•


The Expendable One Vol. 1 – Jason M. Burns ♦♦ [two out of five]

‘Expendable One’ is all idea and a rush to get to the end.  That’s it’s readable is a by-product.  Burns has some really great concepts and, yeah, they’d make fun films.  But this book is an example of mostly flash and no substance.  If you like popcorn books with crude gags, you can do worse.  But you can also do a lot better…



Grand Champion ••• [three out of five]

Sometimes there are movies that are so specialized in EVIsubject matter that I wonder if the intended audience actually finds it interesting or is similarly puzzled by the limitations.  ‘Grand Champion’ was, apparently, director Barry Tubb’s “love letter to Texas,” as he grew up in Snyder, where the film took place, and probably got to witness some of the livestock shows that the film includes.  That’s all fine and good.  I like genre films, and I like animals.  But ‘Grand Champion’ is so torn between kids movie antics and wanting to be good to steers and Texas that it makes for an odd little film.  Not unpleasant to watch, hence the three stars, but not really clear what the end goal was…


Fade to Blonde – Max Phillips ♦♦♦♦ [four out of five]

This is almost a perfect book.  Max Phillips’ strings together characters and dialogue in such a beautiful way – just enough attitude, just enough playfulness, before slamming it back down to reality with some harsh words and truths.  If only ‘Fade to Blonde’ stirred up a little trouble instead of playing out like a light mystery, it would’ve given the tale the added dose of terror it needed to be perfect…



Hellboy: House of the Living Dead – Mike Mignola ♦♦♦ [three out of five]

In his Hellboy one-shots, Mignola has, as of late, been freed of the increasingly heavy narrative that’s been building in Hellboy / BPRD titles, and that remains true in ‘House of the Living Dead.’  But what made early Hellboy and makes the current one-shots entertaining is, in part, their brevity, and as such, expanding on the formula for this mini graphic novel ends up feeling like a stunted tale, neither long enough to be affecting or short enough to read leisurely…



Bloody Mary – Garth Ennis ♦♦ [two out of five]

Bloody Mary is a collection of two short series Garth Ennis wrote for the now defunct ‘Helix’ line of comics (which was a DC branch for, I think, sci-fi themed stories) – Bloody Mary and Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty.  I’d long been looking forward to reading these, seeing it as something maybe transitional for Ennis between Preacher and some of his later works.  And it’s not bad, but seeing as how we aim for whole crampons here, I sided with 2 instead of 3 to denote that the collection is, on a whole, not that satisfying…


Bone •••• [four out of five]

Bone is a strangeass movie.  That’s about as eloquent as it gets.  I did my Larry Cohen bid for a while, starting with the classic films – It’s Alive, Q, The Stuff – and moving around his career to all the strange stuff he’s touched.  … Cohen’s low budget to a fault, his guerilla film-making style always in sync with the straight-ahead momentum of most of his movies.  Even quieter affairs like It’s Alive give the sense that if a take is good enough, it’s going in the picture.

But Bone was his first deal, and while that down and dirty environment is still there, there’s a bit more wandering here, and a bit odder substance to the movie, as a result.