Archive for December, 2022

Transylvania 6-5000 (1985)

December 26, 2022

I had never heard of this movie before but Amazon Prime really seemed to want to keep suggesting it to me. The algorithm’s reasoning makes sense. It is a comedy film with a bit of horror flavor. It has a really good cast. Also, I hadn’t seen it yet. I kept seeing this pop up and one day this past week I decided to watch it after getting a little stressed. I put it on and sat there as the movie washed over me. I am notoriously easygoing when it comes to movies and I was ready to see whatever this had in store for me.

The basic plot is fairly simple, A video surfaces that looks like a Frankesntein-type creature with enormous strength attacking a man in a small Transylvanian town. In New York City, two tabloid reporters are summoned to their boss’ office. They are assigned to investigate the sighting and must go to Transylvania to check it out. They are told that if they do not get the story, they will lose their jobs. The two reporters are confronted by a cavalcade of crazy locals accompanied by a tidal wave of schtick.

 The reporters are played by Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley, Jr. who both sound like they would rather be anywhere else. Goldblum’s character is clever but aloof. Begley’s character is straightforward but easily distracted. The two are met with ridicule when they start asking about Frankenstein. This makes some sense as it was Dracula that was set in Transylvania while Frankenstein was set in Geneva, Switzerland. In the world of the movie both of these books and film franchises exist. This is also why people start making fun of them.

They flee from the laughing townspeople to their hotel. Their hotel is a theme hotel based on gothic horror owned by the mayor (played by Jeffrey Jones). The pair of journalists have to deal with the incompetent hotel staff. They have to deal with a goofy doorman (played by Michael Richards) who cannot stop doing over-the-top slapstick humor. The butler and the maid (played by John Byner and Carol Kane) are both absolutely brainless and get in each other’s way. None of them offer any assistance and most of them have no effect on the plot.

Despite all of the ridicule, it is clear that something weird is definitely happening in Transylvania. Begley’s character is attacked by a nymphomaniac vampire (played by Geena Davis). The local police inspector is also investigating the matter and seems to be hiding things. Goldblum’s character is distracted by trying to woo a single mother who seems to want nothing to do with him.

Unbeknownst to most of the town, there is a mad doctor’s lab beneath the hotel. The doctor is played by Joseph Bologna who is chewing scenery like crazy. He had been keeping several creatures captive for experimentation. He had been keeping the vampire, a mummy, and the Frankenstein-like creature. The doctor had faked a patient’s death and then his experiments turned him into the creature that was seen in the video.

While searching for the creature, Goldblum and Begley run into a swamp creature and the Wolfman who are both working for the mad doctor. They finally see the creature but Goldblum is arrested for meddling in police affairs while Begley is captured by the Wolfman. Goldblum is freed from his cell by the single mother (whose daughter was kidnapped by the creature). The butler and the maid (who also work for the mad doctor) try to recapture the creature and manage to subdue him, taking him and the daughter back to the lab.

Goldblum is told by a fortune teller where to find the lab and he rushes there to save Begley. In the ensuing struggle, Goldblum figures out that the mad doctor miraculously becomes sane when he leaves the lab. In the confusion, the creature breaks out again and takes the daughter to return her to her mother. Now with the doctor’s help, they pursue the creature to the town wine festival (where the mother has gone to get help). Everything collides as the creature enters town, revealing himself to everybody. He returns the daughter to her mother. The authorities attack the creature but he easily fends them off. The townspeople attack with torches and capture the creature and prepare to burn him alive.

The mad doctor and the reporters try to save the day but it is the grateful mother who defends the creature with a broken bottle. Everything is revealed to the gathering crowd. Goldblum reasons out the mystery and tells everybody that the creature is actually a patient who the mad doctor tried to help. Since the local government had been pocketing money intended for public health, the doctor’s fixes ended up looking like Frankenstein. In fact, all of the creatures are patients with bizarre medical problems. The townspeople turn against the mayor and the police inspector who tried to vilify the creatures. Goldblum ends up with the single mother and Begley ends up with the nymphomaniac vampire. The town ends up being a goldmine for the tabloid.

The movie was filmed in Yugoslavia and funded by Dow Chemicals. Apparently, Dow had some frozen assets in the country that they could not transfer out. So they did a little movie to get rid of the money. Apparently, Dow Chemicals built a 700 million dollar petrochemical plant. The socialist market laws of Yugoslavia required a certain amount of profit to be spent in Yugoslavia. They spent about 5 million dollars on this movie and made 20 million back. They successfully got their money out of the country.

However, the lack of heart of this business decision really shows. It felt like they were going for an old-school Marx Brothers/Hope and Crosby feel but the jokes and the heart were both missing. It is similar to the difference between a movie like Airplane! and Epic Movie. Both have a ton of jokes per minute but only one is seen as a classic. Mel Brooks was also a master of this type of movie. The art of comedy is difficult and I feel like if you are going to tell so many jokes, you better be sure that they are funny. A lot of the jokes fell flat and when I was hit by unfunny jokes in rapid-fire succession, I just started getting annoyed. The only part that I liked was when the movie slowed down during its conclusion.

As an aside, the movie also includes two famously problematic actors. Michael Richards famously revealed his racism on stage in 2006. Jeffrey Jones was arrested in 2002 for possession of child pornography. Neither of them impacted the plot of the movie and Michael Richards was particularly insufferable.

Writer/Director Roy De Luca was actually pretty accomplished but I think he usually had more support and guidance. He is listed as a screenwriter for several Mel Brooks movies but it is well-known that Mel has a group of writers on his films. He was also listed as a staff writer for Carol Burnett, John Byner, Tim Conway, and Marty Feldman on television. These shows had dozens of writers. The point is that he usually had somebody else there to work with and he was on his own here. It shows. Both the plot and the comedy fell flat.  He never directed anything else of note. Critics ripped this movie apart. He made Dow Chemicals a profit but the mission was accomplished, so they had no need for him to make them another movie. Hollywood probably did not want to take a chance on him after that.

Fun Fact: The movie title (and main recurring joke of the movie) is based on the Glenn Miller tune “Pennsylvania 6-500”. This is a joke that was already made in a Bugs Bunny cartoon about twenty years earlier.

Really Fun Fact: Leonard Maltin famously had a one-word review of the movie on Entertainment Tonight. As he swayed to the tune of the above Glen Miller tune, he said “Transylvania 6-5000 stinks.” When interviewed later, he stuck by that review and thought it was one of his best.


The Gift

December 24, 2022

Cassidy Wintercrest had The Gift. She had always wanted to make a difference in the world and something, somewhere had made that happen. A little voice in her ear had granted her the ability to protect the people. This had come in the form of a magical sword that she had found stuck into a snow bank one winter. Remarkably, the blade had no rust even though it had been submerged in snow and wedged into the frozen ground below. The blade was perfect and when she touched the handle, that voice in her ear came alive.

“Hello Cassidy,” the voice had said. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Who said that?” Casidy asked. “Who’s there?”

She looked all around but Cassidy could see nobody. However, she did feel somebody was very close and it unnerved her a bit. She was a simple young woman from a family of modest means but she had very little contact with magic. The village and the farms nearby were too out of the way for adventurers passing through and the locals could handle the odd beast or goblin attack. Magic was not part of her world and she knew that is what she was touching. Something about the blade was mystical and it scared and excited her.

“You cannot see me, child,” the voice said. “I am both close at hand and very far away. This sword before you is a conduit to me.”

“Where are you then?” Cassidy asked. 

She was not so ignorant as to not know about the other planes of existence. If she was talking to a being of Hell or the Abyss, she would have to walk away and send for a priest or cleric of some sort. The thing talking to her would be pure evil.

“I am not from any of the 9 Hells nor am I from the cold Abyss,” the voice said. “Be assured of that.”

“How did you know that’s what I was thinking?” Cassidy asked. 

“Truthfully, touching the hilt of the sword opened a connection between us,” the voice said. “If you walk away, then that connection will fade with time. If you take up the sword, that connection will be strengthened.”

Cassidy thought about that for a few moments. It sounded like there were not so many strings attached to what the sword wanted. But what did the sword want? 

“And what happens then?” Cassidy asked. “If I take up the sword.”

“I help you fight for truth and justice,” the voice said. “We make a pact and that pact will give you power. Power beyond anything you’ve seen before.”

“So we make a deal,” Cassidy said. “What do you get out of the deal?”

“I get a champion to help manage my affairs on your Earth,” the voice said. “However, I would never call on you to do anything that would be against your moral code.”

“Pretty words,” Cassidy said. “How can I be sure they’re true?”

“I must speak the truth,” the voice said. “If I don’t, I lose much of my power.”

“Wait,” Cassidy said. “You said what you aren’t but you haven’t said what you are. Are you a fairy?”

“I am fae in nature,” the voice said. “Yes.”

“Fairies can’t lie,” Cassidy said, more for herself. “But they are not wholly beneficial to mortals. Fairies are tricky.”

“I don’t wish to trick you,” the voice said. “The honest truth is that I seek to contain a threat caused by one of my kind.”

“You could have led with that,” Cassidy said.

“I didn’t wish to frighten you,” the voice said. “I was going to work up to it.”

“No more lies by omission either,” Cassidy said. “Or I walk away.”

“You haven’t walked away yet,” the voice said. “Does that mean you’re interested?”

“I’m obviously interested,” Cassidy said. “But I need to know everything. That starts with your name.”

“Names mean power,” the voice said.

“Backing out so quickly?” Cassidy asked.

“I only say that to show how important it is that I give you mine,” the voice said. “My name is Rainer. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Media Update 12/22/22

December 22, 2022

Falling For Christmas (2022)

A hotel heiress bumps her head around Christmas and ends up at a rundown lodge with amnesia. Kind of like a holiday-themed Overboard but way less mean. It stars Lindsay Lohan and it was great to see her back to acting after all of her troubles. She was really charming in this. The movie is made by production company MPCA which made The Christmas Prince franchise, The Knight Before Christmas, and the Princess Switch Franchise. I unironically loved all of those movies so this really scratched that itch. In my opinion, these are way better than Hallmark movies because they are campy and they know they are campy. That bit of self-awareness makes it easy to stomach the more saccharine moments. This felt like a return to form for MPCA and I am glad to continue that tradition. I recommend this movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

This was made by James Gunn and the gang during the filming of Guardians 3 because they already had a lot of the sets and costumes. This is only 45 minutes long but packs a lot of fun into that short time. It is mostly a Drax and Mantis movie which I was on board for. I really like that they gave Mantis more to do and let her act out and have fun. Pom Klementieff is really a far more versatile actress than I thought. Of course, Dave Bautista continues to improve an already great performance, adding more heart without losing that comedic core. What really sold me on this was the soundtrack which had some Christmas standards but also some fun deep cuts. There are also two really fun and original songs by the Old 97s (the second one with a legendary hero as guest vocalist). It just reminded me how much I love the Guardians franchise while also giving me a warm fuzzy feeling. I recommend this short film.

Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)

I had wanted to watch this for quite sometime as a big fan of the Muppets and Jim Henson productions in general. A poor mother and son both enter a talent competition to try and give them a leg up in the world. One of the strengths of Henson productions is that their puppets always felt like they were alive. Part of that is the impressive movement and puppetry and the other part is the excellent voice work. When the two combine, I absolutely believe those characters are real. Henson productions have also always had a great synergy with music and this is no different. This 45-minute special pays tribute to backcountry bluegrass and country music. I had never heard any of the songs before but they were so well done. Even the one Alice Cooper-style song was out of place but still pretty fun. This is a sweet story about accepting what you have and what you get with a sprinkle of The Gift of the Magi. I recommend this short film.

Christmas With You (2022)

I felt that since I had watched two 45-minute movies, I had room for one last wholesome holiday movie. I had read good things about this one and so I made the leap. A pop star is tasked by her record company to write a Christmas song to remain relevant and she flees to a small town to figure things out. This is textbook Christmas movie material with a high-intensity urban character going to a more rural area and regaining her love of the holidays. Aimee Garcia shines as the lead character and her arc is not so much about becoming more likable but moreso liking herself. Freddie Prinze Jr. is great as the small town music teacher who never got to show his songwriting talent to the world. Deja Monique Cruz is a ball of sunshine as the young girl nervous about growing up and her upcoming quinceanera. Zenzi William’s warmth steals a lot of scenes as she gently snarks and says so much sometimes with just a look. The story feels low pressure and a perfect relaxing holiday tale. It also is unique in its inclusion of Latinx culture. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

KittenSneeze ft. Bbyam – Snow Miser VS Heat Miser

Meghan Trainor ft. Earth, Wind & Fire – Holidays 

Sershen&Zaritskaya – All Alone On Christmas

Ed Sheeran & Elton John – Merry Christmas

Mashup of the Week:

iWillBattle Mashups – I Wish Titanium Could Be Christmas

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Christmas 2022”
  • I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch: Barry Kramer, Impact Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Emily D. Baker, Dan Jones, LegalEagle, Dead Meat, Onsta, Savy Writes Books, Growing Up in Scientology, Watcher, Some More News, Emma Thorne, Jenny Nicholson, Conversations with Curtis, Games Done Quick, Top10 Wrestling, Cultaholic, Allison Pregler, Game Theory, Major League Wrestling
  • I finished Doom Patrol Season 3
  • I watched more Pennyworth Season 1
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 5
  • I watched more Sandman Season 1
  • I watched more Lie to Me Season 2
  • I watched more Bob’s Burgers Season 12
  • I watched more Supergirl Season 6
  • I watched The Dark (Rifftrax Version)
  • I watched Beauty and the Beast 30th Anniversary Special
  • I watched Boy in the Plastic Bubble (Rifftrax Version)

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 7

December 19, 2022

Poison Ivy has revealed her position by attacking drones so Batman rides to her rescue. As Batman argues with Ivy about her being too exposed, Scarecrow unleashes the Cloudburst and floods the city with fear gas that easily penetrates any PPE. The energy of the Cloudburst also fried the Batmobile’s power source. Batman is forced to stick to the rooftops as he leaves Ivy in place to use her plants to struggle against the fear gas. Batman returns to Stagg’s lab to discover how to counteract and destroy the Cloudburst. He discovers battery technology that is unaffected by the Cloudburst. He dives into the fear gas and replaces the power source for the Batmobile The whole time, exposure to the fear gas brings Joker closer to taking over. Batman manages to pull it together and heads into the subway to awaken the last plant that Ivy needs. 

Ivy clears a bit of the fear gas which allows Batman to scan the Cloudburst for weaknesses. The Cloudburst has been mounted onto a tank which is piloted by the Arkham Knight. Batman has a prolonged urban assault battle with the militia’s superior firepower. Batman eventually whittles the forces down to just the Cloudburst tank. Attacks cause the Cloudburst to overcharge and explode. Batman attacks Arkham Knight after the tank explodes but the Knight he is fighting turns out to be another Joker illusion. Batman heads back to Ivy who expends the rest of her strength to unleash pollen in Gotham city that completely dissipates the fear gas. Ivy dies in Batman’s arms.

With the help of the GCPD, Batman is able to track a signal from Commissioner Gordon who is deep below the city. Batman follows and finds that Gordon has been caught and is being escorted deep into the Arkham Knight’s headquarters. Batman is confronted by the Arkham Knight again who is piloting an enormous excavator vehicle. Batman is able to escape the excavator’s ambush but the fight ends with the Arkham Knight obliterating the Batmobile. 

The Arkham Knight takes Gordon and Batman follows the two to an abandoned mall. The Arkham Knight finally reveals his identity as Jason Todd, giving Batman a shock. Batman enters into a final showdown with Jason and takes him down. Batman is able to talk Jason down, telling him that it is not too late to fix things. Jason disappears as soon as Batman turns his back to tell Alfred the good news. 

With the way clear, Batman and Gordon take the elevator up to confront Scarecrow. Batman tells Scarecrow to give up. The Cloudburst is destroyed and the Arkham Knight is gone. His plans are done. Scarecrow instead reveals that Barbara Gordon is still alive and that he was using her safety to blackmail Gordon into doing his bidding. Gordon shoots Batman, causing him to appear to fall to his death. Scarecrow throws Barbara off of the building but Batman swoops in to save her having faked his death to try and help the Gordons out. Barbara and Batman arrive at street level, surrounded by drone tanks when they are saved by the delivery of a second Batmobile that Lucius Fox built. 

Scarecrow still has Gordon but Batman brings Barbara safely back to the GCPD. Batman goes back to the clock tower where the militia is trying to damage the servers there. When he returns to the GCPD, the militia starts a siege. Batman must fight the militia to prevent them from gaining access to the one secure location left in Gotham. After the brutal fight, Batman is told that Commissioner Gordon’s voice has just been used to access the lab at Panessa Studios. At the studios, Batman finds the cell he left Robin in empty and covered in Scarecrow graffiti. Scarecrow tells Batman that he will give himself up in exchange for Robin and Gordon.

Batman travels to the agreed-upon place and removes all of his gadgets before entering the back of a truck that will take him to Scarecrow. The truck crashes and Batman is led through another extensive Joker hallucination. Batman once again sees the dead bodies of his parents where they fell that fateful night in Crime Alley. He is ambushed in the alley by a gang of dozens of Jokers who he struggles against. In the heat of the moment, he succumbs and kills one of the Jokers. The hallucination ends and he is back in the truck that did not crash. Joker taunts Batman for his failure to adhere to his no-kill rule. 

The truck arrives at Arkham Asylum and Scarecrow commands Gordon to unmask Batman in front of a live television audience. Gordon balks at the idea but Batman tells him that he will be okay. This is the end. Batman is unmasked and revealed to be Bruce Wayne to the world. Scarecrow seeks to destroy the symbolic power of Batman by breaking him on live television. Scarecrow injects Batman with pure fear liquid. 

We cut to a scene where Two-Face, Penguin, The Riddler, and Killer Croc have captured the Joker. They say that Joker has killed a lot of their men and that he needs to be brought to justice. Joker summons his version of the Batmobile tank. This is his fantasy. He is cleansing the city of all of the other criminals by killing them all. He uses the tank to slaughter the rogues gallery’s grunts. He then picks up a shotgun to personally hunt down Penguin, Riddler, and Two-Face and gun them down. Joker has taken over Batman’s body and the city is in flames as Alfred pleads with Batman to have mercy on Gotham. 

Back in the real world, Batman has allowed Joker to fully take over his body much to Scarecrow’s confusion. Why is he not scared? Scarecrow injects him again and Joker is plunged into another hallucination. Joker encounters a painting of his death, the cremation oven that burned him up, and his grave neglected and overgrown. People are starting to forget about Joker. He encounters Harley Quinn at Joker’s wake and she is the only one there. On the one-year anniversary of his death, people struggle to remember who Joker was. A radio cohost even mixes up Joker with Riddler. They call Penguin Batman’s archnemesis. As Joker gets more and more afraid of being forgotten, Batman is able to eliminate his presence in Batman’s mind. Scarecrow’s toxin actually cured him of Joker’s infection.

Jason Todd shows up and uses a sniper rifle to free Batman from his restraints and Batman causes Scarecrow to be injected with his own toxin. Scarecrow freaks out which allows Gordon to knock him out. Scarecrow is arrested and the nightmare is over.

With his identity exposed, Batman retreats to Wayne Manor chased by the police and the press. Nightwing, Robin, Barbara, and Alfred must be protected from this. As Bruce Wayne appears at the door of Wayne Manor, the manor explodes and Bruce Wayne is declared dead. However, a Batman is still stalking the streets of Gotham leaving one to wonder just who or what is still out there.

FOIA Request

December 17, 2022

Carlotta banged her fist on her desk in frustration, cursing under her breath. Her cat, Pippin, was startled and ran under the copier machine again. She felt a little guilty about that which quelled her anger for a moment.

“What did I say about angry outbursts?” Pearl asked. “You scare me and you scare the cat and I’m not sure which is the more grievous crime.”

“Sorry,” Carlotta said and took a deep breath. “I can’t find an angle on this AXM thing. I keep hitting dead end after dead end.”

“Maybe it’s a nothing story, Car,” Pearl said. “Maybe there’s nothing to find.”

“That’s bullshit,” Carlotta said. “There has to be something. AXM was one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world. Something happened and the company went under and its assets were sold off to other companies. That makes sense. Except nobody can explain why the company went under. In fact, there is very little information at all on AXM. No matter how deep I dig, there is absolutely nothing.”

“Big companies go under all the time and corporate types usually keep that sort of information to themselves,” Pearl said. “It’s bad press.”

“Except a lot of the board disappeared,” Carlotta said. “That includes the three founders who were some of the most recognizable business celebrities. They were multi-millionaires and do those people really just disappear?”

“I mean, they could,” Pearl said. “They have enough money to hide on some remote island or in the mountains or whatever.”

Carlotta sighed. “That’s just it,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of evidence which is kind of what has me so frustrated. I just have a feeling that something happened and I cannot prove it.”

“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Pearl asked. “Whatever your answer is, it should not include hitting the office furniture or swear words. I don’t want to see you so stressed. It isn’t healthy.”

“I have one more lead to follow right now,” Carlotta said. “It’s not likely to pan out, though.”

“I’ve never known you to give up, Car,” Pearl said. “If this is important to you, you’ll follow the thinnest lead.”

“I have information on an FBI raid from around the time they went under,” Carlotta said. “There was supposedly a raid big enough to make ripples online but there was never a connected court case. An FBI raid of a major telecommunications company should have caused something, right?”

“I guess,” Pearl said. “I’m not really an expert on law and order. So what do you do about it?”

“Well, the justice department is a governmental entity and when you want information out of one of those, you submit a FOIA request,” Carlotta said. “I’m not sure how much of the request they would honor and they might just bury it by dragging their feet. It’s not a sure thing.”

“It sounds like it’s worth a shot,” Pearl said. “Unless this really is a big deal and you poke the bear and you get whacked.”

“The government tends to disappear people to secret prisons instead of killing them,” Carlotta said. “Neither option sounds attractive, though. I think I have to do it, though. If I don’t, it will gnaw at me forever.”

“Forever?” Pearl asked. “That’s a long time. I fully support you in this. I’m sure Pippin will agree once he comes out from under the copier when it’s feeding time.”

“Great,” Carlotta said. “I’ll get on it tomorrow. I think I’ll cook us up some lunch and then I have some fluff pieces to write before the next edition.”

“Sounds good to me,” Pearl said. “I love when you cook.”

“I know you do,” Carlotta said.

Media Update 12/15/22

December 15, 2022

Christmas Bloody Christmas (2022)

A robotic AI Santa Claus in a toy store goes berserk and chases a woman through a small town, causing extreme havoc and death. It felt like a holiday take on Terminator. The movie dialogue felt kind of punk rock especially early on. This one was very gory with buckets of blood. Riley Dandy is the star of this movie and she cusses up a storm as she tries to get wasted and then tries not to get wasted. Abraham Benrubi does the physical acting for the robot Santa and is great at exuding an air of menace. There is not a whole lot of meat and substance to this movie but it is a roller coaster of blood, fire, and carnage. It also briefly explores what Christmas is like for those without families. I recommend this movie.

Deadly Games (1989) aka 36.15 code Père Noël

An insane man dresses as Pere Noel and invades the mansion in pursuit of a young boy and his frail grandfather. The boy must defend his homestead from this maniac. This is a movie from France and therefore entirely in French. The movie was written (but did not release in the US) one year before Home Alone and the director thought about suing over it. The movie has a lot of heart to it and more gore and pathos. The little boy, played by Alain Lalanne, is entertaining without being too precocious and has a lot of moments where I really felt for the kid. Patrick Floersheim plays the villain and he is not played as fully evil and as a fascinating character. I recommend this movie.

Christmas Evil (1980)

A man who is psychologically scarred as a kid changes himself into Santa Claus to give joy to the world but also ends up snapping and punishing those who are naughty. This one actually ended up being less of a horror movie and more of a dark character study. The movie centers on belonging in society and depression. Brandon Maggart plays the lead and is such an interesting actor doing a fascinating character. This movie ended up being unpopular because it was neither really scary nor funny. Still, it is a worthwhile movie. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

The Old ‘97s – I Don’t Know What Christmas Is (But Christmastime Is Here)

The Old ‘97s feat. Kevin Bacon – Here It Is Christmastime

Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Grohl & Billy F. Gibbons – Run Rudolph Run

Lindsey Stirling – Crazy For Christmas

Mashup of the Week

DJ Brero – Ice Ice Christmas

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Killer Santa”
  • I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch: Barry Kramer, Impact Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Emily D. Baker, Dan Jones, LegalEagle, Dead Meat, Onsta, Savy Writes Books, Growing Up in Scientology, Watcher, Some More News, Emma Thorne, Jenny Nicholson, Conversations with Curtis, Games Done Quick, Top10 Wrestling, Cultaholic, Allison Pregler, Game Theory, Major League Wrestling
  • I watched more Doom Patrol Season 3
  • I watched more Tom Swift Season 1
  • I watched more Pennyworth Season 1
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 5
  • I watched more Sandman Season 1
  • I started The Crown Season 5
  • I watched more Titans Season 4
  • I watched Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (Rifftrax Version)

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 6

December 12, 2022

The sewer ends up being a ruse as the Arkham Knight is once again steps ahead of Batman and ambushes him. Batman manages to fight his way out of the ambush to escape the sewers. Once he reaches the surface, Batman is able to capture the commander of a militia APC who tells him that the Arkham Knight got his weapons from Penguin through a company called North Refrigeration.

It turns out that Nightwing has been investigating that company in the city of Bludhaven and offers to team up with Batman to investigate. The two of them track a weapons delivery truck from the company to a Penguin hideout. Batman interrogates Penguin before Nightwing and Batman take on Penguin’s goons as Penguin slips away. Batman destroys the weapon cache. Nightwing offers to help with Scarecrow but Batman tells him to stay on North Refrigeration so they can destroy all of the weapon caches. Then Nightwing needs to go back to Bludhaven. Nightwing defers to his ex-boss’ decision. However, Batman has a new lead from Penguin. Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight are going after pharmaceutical magnate Simon Stagg.

Batman infiltrates Stagg’s airships and finds that Stagg is not exactly a victim of Scarecrow but a collaborator. He had planned to doublecross Scarecrow. Stagg’s company invented a system called the Cloudburst that energizes a gas in such a way that makes it quickly permeate any personal protective equipment. This would make gas masks useless against Scarecrow’s fear gas, destroying any hope of surviving Scarecrow’s next attack. Batman’s Joker hallucinations continually cause him to lose track of Stagg and keeps him one step behind the Arkham Knight’s forces. This leads to Stagg being dosed with fear gas and losing his mind. Batman moves to stop Scarecrow but Joker causes a hallucination that lets Scarecrow get the drop on Batman. Batman is dosed with fear gas and Joker starts to take control. He brutally beats the Arkham Knight’s soldiers and nearly kills several of them. This allows Scarecrow to prepare his escape and he is able to steal the Cloudburst device. 

Fresh off of this defeat, Batman is presented with a video of Barbara Gordon being held back at the Chinatown hideout where he saved Poison Ivy. He rushes across Gotham but Barbara is gassed just as he arrives and Batman is confronted once again with the death of one of his allies. His family. He breaks down with Alfred begging him to carry on for the sake of Gotham City. Joker seductively speaks to Batman and offers to take over his body. With Joker’s takeover, Batman would be free from any more pain. Sweet oblivion. Batman rallies and finally answers Alfred, getting back in the fight. 

Batman decides to head back to the GCPD to consult Poison Ivy on combatting the Scarecrow’s fear gas. She reluctantly agrees to help and he brings her back out into Gotham City where she causes the plants at the Gotham greenhouse to hypergrow into a giant plant to counteract Scarecrow’s poison. Batman must help defend the plant from Arkham Knight’s militia while Ivy forms hardened bark over them. Batman uses sonar to awaken the roots of a similar plant for Ivy so that she has coverage over two of three islands.

Batman then visits Panessa Studios to use the computer there to analyze the militia’s defenses on the third and final island. The island is guarded from the Batmobile and the Batwing by a missile launcher supported by two radar towers. Batman exploits a vulnerability in a drone to learn how to hack the militia’s drones. This causes the opening Batman needs to take out the radio towers. He next goes to the control room for the missile launcher where the Arkham Knight intercepts him in person. After a brief confrontation where the Arkham Knight taunts Batman and escapes, Batman destroys the missile launcher. This will allow the Batwing to scan the city from the sky for the Cloudburst. 

Batman is in the midst of analyzing the new data from the Batwing when he gets an emergency call from Panessa Studios. It is Henry who tells him that Robin is in danger as Harley Quinn has invaded the studio. When Batman arrives, the place is crawling with Harley’s goons and Harley herself. She is there out of loyalty and love to Joker and since there are now four Jokers (that she knows of) she wants to free them to allow their full transformation. Batman arrives to discover that Johnny Charisma, Christina Bell, and Albert King have all escaped deeper into the studios. Harley has sent her goons to retrieve/protect all three. Batman and Robin leave Henry in the lab while they go after all of the criminals.

Batman and Robin find Harley’s goons holding Christina Bell in protective custody in an old horror movie set. She berates Harley’s goons for keeping her from her one true soulmate, Batman. The goons (who used to be Joker goons) start warming up to Christina as familiar. Batman recaptures her and Robin goes to take her back to her cell. 

Each time that Batman is waiting for Robin, Joker starts a hallucination revealing the fate of Jason Todd. Todd was the second Robin and Batman had thought that he died. Joker shows him that instead of killing Robin outright, he kidnapped and brainwashed Robin over time in an abandoned wing of Arkham Asylum. He brands Jason’s face with the letter J. 

Batman goes after Johnny Charisma and Albert King in whichever order. Albert King starts a huge brawl in a Western set with Batman and Robin and Harley’s goons and is tough enough that both crimefighters are needed to take him on. Johnny Charisma faces Batman alone, having rigged himself and a studio with bombs. Batman distracts Charisma by letting him sing while Robin sneaks around and disarms the bombs. On the way back to depositing the last Joker patient (King or Charisma), Batman runs into Harley Quinn. Batman makes quick work of her and her goons and they carry her back toward the lab. 

Once they return to the lab, they are horrified to find that Henry has shot the other subjects dead. Henry reveals that he has been completely taken over Joker for quite some time but hid it. He was the one who let told Harley about the secret lab so she could come and rescue him. He will be the one true Joker. However, Henry catches a look in Batman’s eyes and realizes that Batman is also infected. Joyous that Batman will be a much better choice for Joker, Henry commits suicide. Batman imprisons Harley in one of the cells as everybody is disturbed. Robin says that it is time for Batman to take one of the cells as well. Batman agrees and willingly enters the cell prepared for him.

Joker gives Batman another hallucination and shows him the conclusion of Jason Todd’s captivity. Joker films Jason’s statement that he now hates Batman and that he will be helping Joker in taking him down. Joker laughs and shoots Jason and leaves him for dead. Joker makes a point that any allies that Batman leaves alone, get hurt or killed. It happened to Jason, Barbara, and Talia. Batman is dropped out of the hallucination and realizes that his accepting imprisonment was part of the hallucination. He shoves Robin into the cell and locks him in, cutting Robin’s access to the comm system. Batman goes to confront the Arkham Knight again.

Faetown Pt. 6

December 10, 2022

They were almost to the site of the mysterious resurfaced prison. Traffic was light this early in the morning but RH had had to endure Jenny’s insistence on listening to drive time radio. That had finished and Jenny had retreated into her phone, rapidly typing with her thumbs and concentrating. RH glanced over at her.

“What are you doing over there?” RH asked, more out of boredom than real curiosity. “You look so absorbed in what you’re doing. Playing games?”

“I’m not playing games,” Jenny said. “I’m on the job. We’re in go mode. I’m setting up social media alerts in case something strange happens. Whatever we’re tracking is already on the move and we’re going to want to know the second it does something weird.”

“Good idea,” RH said. “We have no idea what we’re dealing with. I hope you included a pretty broad list of search terms.”

“I’m a whiz when it comes to search terms,” Jenny said. “Some of us have adapted well to the human world.”

“I’ve adapted fine,” RH said. “I’m just more into reading their books and watching their movies than being on the phone or the computer all the time.”

“Ok Boomer,” Jenny said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” RH asked.

“I’m not sure yet,” Jenny said. “It’s something humans say to make fun of people who are old-fashioned. Which is you.”

“I gathered,” RH said. “We’re here. Put it on vibrate.” He pulled the truck into a field and toward a stone arch structure. There was nothing but the arch but with the fae, nothing was ever as it seemed. RH grabbed a sawed-off shotgun and carefully loaded it with iron shot cartridges.

“That’s not regulation,” Jenny said. She grabbed an old-school revolver and checked the ammunition and gave the cylinder a spin.

“I’m not going down if there’s a dragon or something in there,” RH said. “I plan to make it back out alive.”

“Do you think that’s a possibility?” Jenny asked. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen a dragon. If it’s a dragon we’ll need surface-to-air missiles or a descendant of Finn McCool. I don’t want it to be a dragon.”

“I’ve got a small arsenal in the trunk if it comes to it,” RH said. “Pretty much none of it is regulation either. All we have to do is fall back to this position.”

“I’ll remember that if we don’t get vaporized right away,” Jenny said. “Now I’m curious about what you have back there.”

“Hopefully, you’ll stay curious,” RH said. “Some of it I’m even afraid to handle.”

“Is there an elevator back there?” Jenny asked with a huge sarcastic grin..

RH glared at her for a beat and then headed toward an opening that seemed to be ripped through the fabric of space itself. It was a door with no supporting walls on the banks of Curtis Creek. Jenny caught up easily. Luckily the park was closed but their badges would deflect any harassment from any other authorities. The two faerie officers approached guns drawn. RH motioned for both of them to stop and they listened for a bit. Things were mostly quiet.

“Anybody there?” Jenny called out after she lost her patience. “Any persons or creatures should throw down any weapons and lie down on the ground. Behave and we can tell them that you cooperated. That will mean a lot.”

“English? Really?” RH asked. “That cobbled-together language wasn’t around when anything in there was locked away. At least, not in the form we’re using today. It took me a month of exposure to learn the local tongue.”

“You have a point,” Jenny said. “Silly me. I mean, nothing answered anyway so we’re probably clear.”

RH shrugged and called out in ancient Gaelic. “Peace! We mean you no harm. Do not attack. If you need assistance, call out.” He then took a deep breath and stepped through the opening. He had once faced armies of men but, like most fae, he found his power reduced. Even being as magically resistant to harm as he was, he knew he could still be hurt and killed.

Jenny followed RH inside and the two took up positions to check the place out. It was clear that something bad had happened in the prison. The walls were scarred by some sort of magical discharge and there was debris all over the place. The prison was filled with what appeared to be statues. In reality, the two of them knew that creatures were sealed in stone to keep them in stasis during imprisonment. One of the statues had been ripped in half by something powerful which meant that prisoner was dead.

“Do you see anything out of place yet?” Jenny asked, still holding her revolver at the ready.

“One missing statue over there,” RH said as he pointed. “They did not exactly label any of the positions. I guess they never needed to know who was who.”

“I see two more empty spots over there,” Jenny said. “There might be more. This place got a little shook up when it landed on this plane of existence.”

“So we could be looking at anywhere from one to half a dozen escapees,” RH said. “We better get a lead soon and before anybody gets hurt.”

“Let’s get out of here,” Jenny said. “I’ll seal the place up and we can start looking for whoever doesn’t belong.”

“Sounds like a plan,” RH said. “Not much of one but it’s what we have. If we don’t get a lead, there are some people in Faetown who might be able to help.”

“Yeah,” Jenny said. “I would think they would be hungry for humans as soon as they woke up so heading toward a more populated area might be smart.”

Media Update 12/8/22

December 8, 2022


I had a huge crush on Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams because in some ways I felt like her growing up, subdued and reticent but my mind always churning and turning. When I heard that Tim Burton was involved in a new series with Jenna Ortega starring (who I just saw in X), I was excited. I did not know but the series is also headed up by Millar and Gough who did Smallville. This is not a sequel to the 90s movies but instead feels like it borrows from them, the show, and the original comics to make something new. Wednesday Addams is sent to a boarding school for supernatural kids and is immediately swept up into mystery. Jenna Ortega is so good as Wednesday, displaying just enough heart from a guarded character to keep her likable. Emma Myers is really the heart of the show as Wednesday’s sunny werewolf roommate.  Gwendoline Christie plays the strict yet fair headmistress. Christina Ricci herself shows up as the loving den mother. Honestly, I could go on and on about the all-star cast. The characters serve the story which is a really great mystery with some great friendship and romance thrown in. I actually finished all eight episodes in one week so you know I recommend this.


Willow is a movie that I have a lot of fond memories of as somebody who grew up short and loved fantasy. This is a sequel series that takes place almost three decades later. Elora Danan has been hidden but the world is no longer safe even for Queen Sorsha and her children. A questing party must be assembled to save the day including the legendary Willow himself. Warwick Davis is great and shows how much better an actor he is than he was in the eighties (and he was already so good). Ruby Cruz plays the princess who is a warrior and wants to decide her own fate. Her girlfriend is played by Erin Kellyman who has designs to be legendary in her own way. Amar Chadha-Patel delivers a lot of the comedy with his dry wit and sarcastic one-liners as their ruffian guide. The advanced special effects are excellent while still maintaining the charm of the original movie. I have only seen the first two episodes so far but I am really excited to see where this journey goes. I am already invested in all of the characters. I recommend this show.

The Santa Clauses

I do remember liking the first Santa Clause movie and I have seen recaps of the two sequels so I thought why not check this out. As the job starts getting harder, Scott Calvin aka Santa Claus starts to consider retirement but what does that mean? Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell return as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their chemistry is good. Their kids are played by Austin Kane and  Elizabeth Allen-Dick (Tim Allen’s own daughter) and they are very interesting characters. The real strength of the show for me is the elf played by Matilda Lawler who delighted me every time she was on screen. Kal Penn plays a well-meaning but awful person who kind of annoys me but I think that is intentional. I do like the story because I am not quite sure how the conflict is going to be resolved.  I only have two real problems with this show. One is Tim Allen. His character is almost identical to Tim Taylor on Home Improvement where he is too busy doing schtick to actually care about what is going on around him. My other problem is that the elf jokes feel largely one-note and they ring that bell too often. In particular, everything being made out of candy gets grating to me. I actually do not recommend this series but I will probably finish it.

Music of the Week:

Kendrick Lamar – Rich Spirit

Oliver Tree & Robin Schulz – Miss You

Meghan Trainor – Made You Look

Post Malone – Wrapped Around Your Finger

Mashup of the Week:

DoubleGlog – Hollaback Girl Satisfaction

Weekly Update:

  • This week’s theme is “Sequel Series”
  • I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch: Barry Kramer, Attorney Tom, Impact Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling, Emily D. Baker, Dan Jones, LegalEagle, Dead Meat, Onsta, Savy Writes Books, Growing Up in Scientology, Watcher, Some More News, Emma Thorne, Jenny Nicholson, Conversations with Curtis, Games Done Quick, Top10 Wrestling, Cultaholic, Thought Slime, Allison Pregler
  • I watched more Doom Patrol Season 3
  • I watched more Tom Swift Season 1
  • I watched more Pennyworth Season 1
  • I watched more Riverdale Season 5
  • I watched Nutcracker Massacre (2022)

An Exhaustive Summary of the Batman: Arkham Games Pt. 5

December 5, 2022

The story starts not too long after the events of Arkham City. We see the Joker’s body loaded carefully into a cremation oven. As the flames consume his body, his grin seems to glow even brighter. Gotham City Police waits to see who will fill the power vacuum but nobody steps up. A tense peace pervades Gotham City. Arkham City is dismantled and Bruce Wayne’s money is donated to repair the damage. Without warning, Scarecrow returns to the spotlight with an improved fear gas. His attack is senseless and he threatens further terrorist actions, pledging to flood the entire city with fear gas. With such a credible threat, the city starts to evacuate with only a few of the GCPD sticking around to try to keep the peace. With the streets now empty, the gangs of Gotham rise up as looters and rioters.

The story begins with Batman arriving at the batsignal to meet with Commissioner Gordon just as Gordon hangs up the phone with his daughter Barbara who has boarded the last bus out of Gotham. The two speak briefly about whether Scarecrow would actually set off a chemical weapon in Gotham. A call comes in about a missing patrol car but when Gordon turns back around, Batman is gone. We find out that Barbara Gordon lied to her father as she is assisting Batman from her base at the Clocktower. Batman easily tracks down and saves the cop from looters but they are almost run down by a military-grade armored jeep. The vehicle matches the description of one linked to Scarecrow.  Batman summons his new and improved Batmobile via remote and then roars after the vehicle in hot pursuit. Batman races through the city and eventually disables the target vehicle. 

Batman interrogates the driver of the vehicle to get information about Scarecrow. He gets the location of a hideout in nearby Chinatown. Batman takes a pure sample of the new fear gas off of the soldier and sends the information to Barbara to analyze. Batman heads to the hideout to find that Scarecrow has Poison Ivy captive as she is immune to his fear gas. Batman goes to take Ivy in but they are stopped from leaving by soldiers and tanks rolling up on them. Batman operates the Batmobile by remote and displays its new tank mode. With the enemy tanks being drones, there is no need to hold back. After wrecking waves of tanks, Batman takes Ivy back to GCPD lockup for her and Gotham’s safety. 

Batman goes to the Clocktower to use Barbara’s computer to analyze the new fear gas compound. They figure out that instead of tracing the ingredients of the compound, they can try and trace the specific manufacturing process that would be needed to make it. Batman and Barbara use several radio towers to search for and find the manufacturing energy signature. They discover it at Ace Chemicals. During this, Batman debuts his new gear which is basically Bat Armor. Batman relays the probable location to Gordon but Gordon says that he stationed men there. Something is very wrong. 

Batman rushes to infiltrate the Ace Chemicals plant to rescue the police officers and skeleton crew left behind. Once there, he finds that a full-blown paramilitary force has been using the plant as a staging ground. Analysis of their markings matches rumors of a force training in South America led by somebody named the Arkham Knight. Batman comes face to face with this Arkham Knight while trying to track and rescue Ace’s skeleton crew. The Knight taunts Batman and leaves him to fight more drone tanks as his army ships out. 

Batman goes deeper into the plant to stop Scarecrow. It becomes clear that the explosion of gas will not only encompass Gotham, it will cover the entire Eastern Seaboard. After a brief fight, Scarecrow tells Batman to let him go in return for Barbara Gordon’s life. Alfred chimes in to say that he has lost contact with Barbara Gordon. Batman selflessly risks himself to load a neutralizing agent to the tanks. As he puts in the last tank, he turns around to see the Joker pointing a gun at Batman’s head.

We suddenly flashback to Commissioner Gordon arriving at the rundown Panessa Film Studios. He is let into an elevator that takes him down to an underground laboratory. He sees five enclosures. Four of them are taken up by entertainment personality Johnny Charisma, Queen Industries executive Christina Bell, prizefighter Albert King, and boarding school principal Henry Adams. Everybody but Henry displays physical and personality characteristics reminiscent of Joker. Batman informs Gordon that these four slipped through the cracks when people were infected with Joker’s blood. Batman has Robin working on a cure. Meanwhile, the four subjects are basically becoming Joker. Gordon notes that one cell is empty and Batman says that the last patient will be there soon. 

Back in the present, Batman is pestered by the Joker who is clearly only in Batman’s mind. Batman is the fifth infected patient and seeing and hearing The Joker everywhere is a symptom. Batman escapes Ace Chemicals as it implodes but no gas is released thanks to Batman’s efforts. 

However, it is clear now that Barbara Gordon has been taken by the Arkham Knight. Batman breaks the news to Gordon who angrily accompanies him to the Clocktower. Once there, the Joker seems to induce a hallucination in Batman of the time that he shot Barbara Gordon, the incident that put her in her wheelchair. Batman reveals to Commissioner Gordon that Barbara has been helping him in his fight. Gordon angrily rebukes Batman for endangering his daughter and causing her to be put in danger. Gordon goes rogue and leaves Batman to try and track the kidnapping on his own.

Batman tracks the vehicle that took Barbara and finds that it has crashed not too far away. Through forensics, Batman discovers that Barbara caused the driver to crash in order to stash some of the militia’s tech before being recaptured by the Knight. With the help of Lucius Fox, Batman uses the hidden tech to infiltrate the militia’s network and track the Arkham Knight into the sewers. Batman receives a worried call from Robin who offers to join the fight, worried that he has not heard from his girlfriend Barbara. Batman tells him that she is on special assignment and that he is still needed to research the cure. Joker taunts Batman for not telling Robin and for his failures.

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