Monday, November 30, 2009

yester plot

what's this?  young Spock and older Spock together for the first time?

way back in 1973 the continuing adventures of Star Trek were done in animated form.  this series seems to be the least talked about of all the Trek spinoffs, but it is one of the best, if not the best of the sequels.

this is from the episode "Yesteryear" in which Spock travels back in time to set things right, after something happened in a previous journey through time.

I really dislike time travel stories.

he uses the "Guardian of Time" which made it's first appearance in "City on the Edge of Forever" to rectify matters (as he and Kirk did in that episode.

it's also a sequel of sorts to the episode "Journey To Babel" where we find out young Spock has a pet sehlat, sort of a teddy bear with six inch fangs.  it's name is I-Chaya, and the cartoon deals with quality of life issues (amazing in 1974, I'll tell you what).

apparently a cg sehlat was animated in the "Enterprise" series, but as that show was eminently disappointing I didn't last long enough to see that appearance.  dollars to donuts says he wasn't green or even brown in the episode.

the entire series was released on DVD sometime back.  I'm surprised no idiot executive has decided that the series looks too dated and wants to go back and re-animate it and just keep the voices.  wouldn't surprise me one bit.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

she's a wonder

here is what Wonder Woman looked like in her guest appearance with Superman in 1988.

here she is with her mother (thankfully not Cloris Leachman this time) on Paradise Island.  obviously going with the George Perez rendition now.

fighting a cyclops.  unfortunately you can't see the magic lasso here.  she also flies, no invisible plane!

our heroes to the rescue!  one of the better episodes of the series.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Superman (1988)

for Superman's 50th anniversary, DC Comics had Ruby-Spears make a new Superman cartoon.  it's now been released on a 2 disc DVD set.  I watched this when it debuted in 1988, well, some of the episodes, anyway.  I don't remember much about them.

oddly enough, this is the title.  there's no "Superman" that comes up in the by now familiar "strange visitor from another planet" narration that accompanies the sequence.  this is the ONLY cartoon version of Superman that contains the "truth, justice and the American way" sentence.

I remember thinking it still didn't have enough action for my liking.  it was definitely a step up from the anemic Superfriends, and had some gorgeous designs by the late comics legend Gil Kane, but there was no hard hitting super fights.  how boring is that?  pretty boring, actually.  Superman did get to fight a variety of robots, and I think Titano makes an appearance (I have only watched 6 of the 13 episodes.

here's a title card, showing off said designs.  this show is heavily influenced by the then current John Byrne revamp of Superman- Lex Luthor is now almost a Kingpin clone, except he's a legit businessman to hide his desire to take over Metropolis.  or the world, I've never quite been sure.

Marv Wolfman's name is a plus as well, though apparently he was hired not because of his comics expertise but based on a Superman parody he did for The Garbage Pail Kids.

whatever got him there I'm thankful for.  the episodes are all followed by flashbacks to when Clark was a kid, and these range from cute to something Uncle Mort would be proud of (nearly too sweet).

of course, the Christopher Reeve Superman is also here.  the voice acting is pretty standard, decent, but we as fans have been spoiled by the great stuff done recently by Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano in the later series' work.

and apparently I needed to watch one more episode, as Wonder Woman herself shows up to help Superman out on a case.  I do wish they hadn't used Luthor as the villain in nearly every episode.  got old in a hurry.

a good show.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

what? Marine who?

I wish I had some news about the Marine Boy book I'm working on, but it's still about 78% finished still.  I thought I'd post some grabs though!

I think most of these are from the recent legit DVD set of Saturday Morning TV Cartoons v.1, which contained one gorgeous episode of Marine Boy.

I would love to think a legit release was on it's way, but so far there's been nary a peep.  at least now we know who actually owns the rights to the series.

here's our hero throwing his boomerang in the opening credits.  the theme song is catchy, but it's not a patch on the Japanese version, one of the few I prefer over the US one.  it's a catchy pop song.

here's a giant monster catching a plane mid-air.  this was an episode I saw twice in a row, so I remembered it much more than any other episode.  at the time I was disappointed that I had gotten up at 6 AM to see the same cartoon, but now I'm glad it happened. 

at least it had several of these giant monsters sprinkled throughout the episode, making it a very exciting show.

I wonder if anyone actually called WDCA and told them they were airing the same episode again.  these days some fans would have been on the internet immediately, registering their digust throughout the world, and hoping some clown got fired for the mix up!

lastly, a shot of Marine Boy and Splasher having a conference.  this is one of the things that is greatly appealing about the cartoon- who wouldn't want a dolphin as a playmate/best friend?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

it's only Teenage Caveman...

I sometimes envy kids these days, with movies on demand and access to just about anything they want to watch at any time.  before all of this, seeing a movie in the tv guide you wanted to see became an EVENT.  spending the night at a pal's house on a Friday evening in preparation for movie was a great thing to do.  reading comic books, playing games outside, having a good dinner... even if the movie wasn't great it was memorable.

this happened with this fine and underrated (and sadly titled) movie Teenage Caveman (1958), along with many other movies.  my friend Dale (now Ronald) and I watched it and many others on Friday nights.  these were aired on "Sci-Fi Flicks" on KWGN Channel 2 out of Denver CO.  one of the schedulers there had to be a genre fan, we got a lot of great movies shown.

Monday, November 23, 2009

dinosaurs at the museum!

Monster of the Week (an idea that only I have ever thought of!)

I know.  since Monday is the start of my week, I thought this would be fun to do, getting me focused up on what's really important...

so up for today is our old pal Angilas.  no, I'll never call him "Anguirus", "Angurus", "Anzilla" or especially "Angirasu".  just plain ol' Angilas is good enough for Godzilla, it's good enough for me!

there behemoths be!

if my memory serves me correctly, I saw this fun and surprisingly scary giant monster movie before I saw the "original"- The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.  I'm not 100 percent sure now, as I look back through the mists of time.

but it stands to reason I saw it first, since I like it more.  it's not quite as well made, but there's just something inherently likable about the entire movie.  the cast is quite enjoyable, and very sincere in their performances.  the story is nothing new, atomic bombs revive a prehistoric monster (sound familiar?) but the rather graphic effects shown are a bit disturbing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

DAM titles

been talking a lot about cartoons, so I'm going to head back to live action land.

Destroy All Monsters (1968) is my favorite Godzilla movie, and one of my favorite movies of all times.  but it sure doesn't have the greatest looking title sequence, does it?  this is from the "international" version, and it's not bad.  not great, but not bad.

 Here's American International Pictures', and it's not very exciting at all.  now that I've given it some thought (I know, too much thought) it's like the calm before the storm.  start out with a nice mellow title, that doesn't let you know what thrill ride you are really in for with the rest of the movie. I'm not sure they had that intention, but it works for me.


just wanted to end with a really cool shot.

Friday, November 20, 2009


it's a great time to be a fan of Japanese cartoons.  they show up everywhere, and finally some fans are delving back into the older stuff, such as Great Mazinga (グレートマジンガー)!  (please don't bother me with the "-er" or "-a" nonsense.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

he's got radioactive blood...

I may have mentioned this before, but there are a few tv show theme songs that get me viscerally.  this is one of them, the 1967 Spider-man theme song.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Star Warners" (1998)

long before Robot Chicken and (ugh) Family Guy did their "homages" to Star Wars, one of the greatest cartoons ever did theirs- "Pinky and the Brain".  I wasn't sure if this was actually an Animaniacs episode, but everything I've seen says it was the series finale to "PATB".  anyone with more info is invited to share it here.

ultra toy time

here are two of my first Ultra Monsters that I ever bought.  I got them from the long gone Pony Toy Go Round in 1989 or so.  they were about $5, if I remember correctly, mailed right to me in Colorado.

Monday, November 16, 2009

of dragons and georges (1982)

Rankin-Bass made a ton of cartoon movies from fantasy books, starting with The Hobbit (1977) followed by The Return of the King (1980), The Last Unicorn (1982),  and this fun movie, based on the book of the same name, which took cues from Gordon Dickson's fine novel "The Dragon and The George".

a mega-bug

all these images come from my decidedly non-anamorphic HK R3 DVD of the following movie.  series videophiles will have to forgive me.

Godzilla is back, and to the consternation of continuity freaks, he's in a new timeline.  here he's shown up three times, searching for energy.  a cool thing in this movie is the flashbacks to the first three times he showed up, 1954, 1966 and 1996.  in 1996 he is after plasma energy, a renewable energy source for Japan.  in this raid he kills an army man and his female compatriot now HAS TO DESTROY Godzilla FOREVER.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Atlantis, in 7 cities

my brother and I saw this movie in what I remember to be the late summer of 1978.  it was something I had never heard of until we saw the poster at the Trojan Theater in downtown Longmont.  I think it ran for a week engagement, and I don't recall the place being packed.

look out, there's smog in the air!

well, sort of- it's Hedorah in all it's flying form glory.  you don't hear too much about this cool looking form of our favorite sludge monster, but I really like it.  it always reminded me of both a horseshoe crab and a trilobite.

8th Man, you know, Tobor!

here's a cool and sort of rare cartoon- though oddly, there's a ton of episodes available in various PD compilations floating about on dollar DVDs and such.  however, it was aired in the wake of the huge success of Astro Boy and Gigantor.

however, this was one I never saw growing up at all.  I first saw it offered for sale at Star*Con 1989, and then several volumes were on sale at my first Comicon in 1990.

dealers back then wanted $20 for a tape with five episodes on it, in various video and audio quality.  I eventually traded for about 30 episodes of the 52 episode run.  that's a lot of 8th Man to watch.  not sure I ever did see every episode I had, though I transferred them to DVD-r at some point.

this Japanese cartoon is a bit more American than some of the others.  these are some frame grabs from the episode "Target: 8th Man".  here the Black Butterfly Gang outfits a man with a costume that gives him powers similar to 8th Man so the Butterflies can destroy him.

here we can see the buff villain vowing to destroy 8th Man on his honor.  I'm pretty sure this doesn't happen, but I'd hate to spoil the episode for anyone!  though I am also sure most people will know that our hero will survive this dastardly plot and be able to fight evil in the next episode.

which of course is exactly what happens.  there were some recurring villains, such as the Butterfly Gang, Intercrime and Dr. Spectra.

it's a pretty violent show, with death by gunshots in nearly every episode, not to mention rockets, lasers and even a robot tiger on occasion!  he also fought aliens and giant birds and monstrous eelers. 

here we see a rather awesome display of strength, which might remind a fan or two of some other superhero.

naturally, a cool cartoon like this is not available in good quality on commercial DVD, but you can get great copies here.  they also have many fine and cool things to view.

Friday, November 13, 2009

never laugh at live triceratops!

usually these dinosaurs are shown in the movies as rather peaceful creatures, usually arriving in the nick of time to save the day when a large theropod is menacing the heroes or whatever.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Batman, 1968

oddly enough, I only ever saw a few of the Filmation Batman cartoon.  I saw plenty of Superman, Superboy and Aquaman, but for some reason the Batman series was elusive.

this featured Olan Soule as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and for years, he was THE cartoon voice of Batman for me.  even when Adam West did the voice for the 70s show and whatever Superfriends it was he did, Batman didn't sound right.  Casey Kasem did the voice of Robin.  when the Dynamic Duo teamed up with Scooby (the nadir of Batman's career) it was odd hearing Casey talk to himself as Robin and Shaggy.  same thing happened when the Scoobies met the Pussycats.

anyway, Batman looked pretty much the same here as he always did.  Batgirl was a guest star in many of the 34 episodes produced, half of which were two parters.  he fought many of his rogue's gallery of villains, though a few of them looked remarkably different than they did in the live action version that was airing on ABC at the time.

and of course, they added some of the silliest foes they could, such as "Simon the Pieman".  of all the foes Batman had by 1968, a sinister baker was the best they could come up with?  I suppose it could have been worse, they might have used Colonel Gumm...

at least the Joker, the Penguin, Mr. Freeeze and the Riddler all made appearances, and of course Selina Kyle, the Catwoman showed up.  though I have never seen a green cat ever.  she was voiced by Jane Webb, who also voiced Barbara Gordon and just about every other female ever for Filmation. 

it's a wonder this show isn't out on DVD, with all the hoopla over the "Dark Knight" there is these days. 

where every trek has gone before

not to be too uber trek geeky, but this new kid playing at being James Kirk got the crap beat out of him for nearly the entire two hours.  when the real (and only) Jim Kirk had to fight someone, he never got that beat up in three seasons.

even the Gorn here, far more powerful than a Vulcan couldn't keep Kirk down.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

space? what voyage?

a nice comp movie based on the "Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot".  it was compiled in 1970 and presented as a feature movie to various tv stations around the country (none in CO, of course).

I only ever saw one episode of "Sokko" growing up, the first one, and that is mostly presented here.  I actually first saw the movie in an 8mm box in K-mart, of all places, back when that was all you could own.  which I am sure just astounds many kids these days that can see just about anything they want to immediately.  the movie is made up of the first, second, third and fourth episodes, the thirteenth (I think) and the final one.  they used each monster at least twice, which saved on costs, I'd think.

of course, since there was no blurb ON the box telling me it was a Japanese movie, I passed it up for quite possibly "Varan, The Unbelievable".  while I greatly enjoyed seeing all 11 minutes of destruction that Varan does, I think perhaps a giant robot fighting 2 or 3 monsters would have been more my thing then.  I mean, look at this thing!

there's 26 episodes in the series, and it was dubbed by a different team than AIP's usual go to guys, Titra/Titan.  Jerry Berke, AKA the voice of 8th Man, is the narrator.  Bobbie Byers, the voice of Prince Planet was the voice for Johnny (and probably the rest of the female characters).  it's good dubbing, but not quite up to Titan/Titra standards.

it's a really fun show, full of energy and destruction and monsters.  it's also pretty violent, as our heroes gun down villains with no remorse- even Johnny, who appears to be about 12, is armed and dangerous!  of course, not quite as well equipped as Giant Robot is!  eat your heart out, MechaGodzilla!

did I mention that none of our heroes voyage into space at all in the movie?

Star Trek (2008)

rather, "Star Trek" of Earth B, or whatever post Trek Crisis you'd prefer to designate it as now. it's still a remake.

I didn't hate it.  in fact, I quite enjoyed it.  but best Trek movie?  hardly. I'd say half of the ten are better than this.  but it's quite enjoyable, despite it's many flaws (one of them being that it's 20 minutes too long).

I had notes and all sorts of things I was going to write down here.  mostly I'll say this- Leonard Nimoy is the best part of the movie, hands down.  he made me believe these kids are actually who they are supposed to be playing,  finally.

but naming the villain "Nero"?  really?  I agree with Ebert's review, for the most part.  it's a cynical attempt to continue a beloved franchise with younger actors.  for such a lame idea, it's surprising it was this good.

one last thing... i really hated all the "funny" stories about how previous Trek movies were full of bad actors and bad effects and lousy stories.  what universe did those idiots live in?  I hope they have to watch hours of "The Starlost" as they deserve it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Prince Planet on Hulu!

it appears as though MGM is putting 46 episodes of Prince Planet on Hulu!

this is one of the "lost" episodes that is available. the quality is pretty darn good, too! thanks to Let's Anime for posting this originally!

here he comes from the sky

it's taken far too long to decide on my 100th post.  but at last, here it is, in all it's epic glory!

I saw a total of three episodes of Ultraman as a kid.  #5, "the Secret of Miroganda", #38 "The Spaceship Rescue Command" and #35 "The Monster Graveyard".  it's this episode I'll be discussing now.

there is a place somewhere in space where Ultraman deposits the various monsters he has defeated in the past.  well, the ones that don't get blown up or dismembered.  these are the more, er, innocent monsters, as the episode explains, that were not actually trying to take over the Earth or kill people on purpose.  or perhaps just whatever suits the makes still had intact.  I had never seen so many different monsters, even if they were just floating in space.  of course, one of the creatures I saw was the giant robot thing that Arashi and Ito didn't recognize.  when I finally saw the episode again many years later, there was no giant robot in the Monster Graveyard at all.  funny how memory is.

our heroes, having dispatched many of the monsters with Ultraman's help are now remorseful that so many living creatures had to be destroyed.  they decide to hold a memorial service for the beasts.  this means lots of flashbacks to even MORE monsters I had never seen.

yes, I was in giant monster heaven, despite the somberness of the episode.

elsewhere, some scientists launch a rocket.  naturally it runs right into one of the creatures in the Graveyard, and crashes back to Earth with it.  this is the monster Seaboz (シーボーズ) that Arashi and Ito (and I) didn't recognize.  it's STILL alive, but wants to go back to peacefulness of space, and it cries nearly the whole episode.  the Science Patrol tries many ways of getting it back space, including tying it to a rocket, none of which work.

there is no real fight in this episode, it's done by a series of still photos, which is pretty cool.  this episode is directed by the late Akio Jissoji, who did many of the really outre episodes in this series.   it's one of the standouts.

out of all the Ultra monsters that have returned in various sequels, Seaboz has not been one of them.  I like him, and have one of Bandai toys.  I wish I had been able to see more Ultraman episodes, but it never aired in the 70s in Colorado.  I saw these in WV, on the greatest channel ever, WDCA Channel 20.  my cousins all knew the show well, and would get into arguments on how to do the "Spacium Beam" pose.

you know, I would have seen Ultraman a fourth time, in Kansas, but as we all gathered around the tv, the first episode of Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot aired.  which was cool, too.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Shaolin Boxers (1976)

due to a slight discrepancy, my planned 100th post will take place later.
this is a movie which features my style of kung fu, Choy Li Fut.  it's a pretty adult affair, directed by the late great Chang Cheh for the famous Shaw Brothers Studios.  it's a lot better movie that Choi Lee Fut, though I like that film a lot also.

the late Fu Sheng stars in this movie, and it begins with a demonstration of various techniques.  this is not unusual for kung fu movies of this time period.  there is also a spoken (in Chinese, Mandarin, I believe) history of the style, which fortunately is written out in both Chinese and English.  it's pretty accurate as well.  we see a lot of fist forms, and some of the various stances.  lacking are the many weapons that we use, but we'll see a few of those in the actual movie.  there's also a lot of training scenes.

the plot of the movie itself involves a gang taking over a town, and the people not standing up for themselves.  in fact, they think our hero is the troublemaker.  he knows some kung fu, enough to beat the henchmen up (poor Beardy, aka Kar Yan Leung really gets smacked around this movie) but not enough to stand up to the main villain.  so off to more training he goes, to learn "the deadliest style of kung fu, Choy Li Fut" though they say it as "tsai li fu" in the movie. those Chinese people have a different word for everything!  in fact, they have more than one different word for the same thing, depending on which dialect you listen to!

I first saw this movie on a multi-gen murky tape under the title "Demon Fists of Kung Fu".  I had been doing CLF for about 2 years, and wasn't quite sure it was the same style, and due to the poor quality of the tape it was hard to tell.  now on a cleaned up letterboxed DVD print it's really easy to see the style at work- low stances, fast Northern style footwork, powerful punches and Southern weapons, it's all there.  I do wish I could make all the cool "whooshing" sounds when I practiced my kung fu, but movies are not quite the same.  Fu Sheng should have been a much bigger star in the rest of the world as well.  highly recommended!

Flashman (1967)

thanks to the Batman tv series, masked heroes became the rage all over the world.  Italy seemed to be quite taken with them, as they turned out several movies- two Superargo features, Argoman, Goldface, a slew of "Three Fantastic Supermen" films and a hero I'd heard of but never thought I'd see at all, let alone dubbed in English and in a fine video presentation.  and yet, here is our hero "Flashman"!  not to be confused with the Japanese Super Sentai series (Flashman) of the same name, of course.

our hero is veddy veddy English, and of course has a butler (named Jarvis, on loan from Mr. Stark?) who helps him out.  a scientist has invented a serum that turns people invisible, and a villain has stolen it for nefarious doings.    our hero wants to stop him.  our hero has a bulletproof costume and can leap really well- 20 or 30 feet into the air.  his sister also knows his secret identity.  which is a neat twist.  usually family members are to be protected.

there is some clever wordplay with some invisible man being seen and all.  I wonder who dubbed this?  probably the same people that dubbed many of the Italian peplums and spaghetti westerns from the same time period.  like many Italian movies, it's got a rockin' theme song, and the entire soundtrack is pretty good.  one of the other characters is named "Smithers" and they keep saying it.  all I can think of is Waylon.  the movie runs a compact 90 minutes.