April 22, 2007

APE -- Alternative Press (Zines, Art and Crafts) Expo 2007

Comics, zines, crafts, art, UFO propaganda, renegade robots and fighting monsters were in abundance at the Alternative Press Expo 2007 in San Francisco this weekend.

Here are the APE 2007 highlights:

Check out my Flickr blog here of the event:
APE 2007

April 8, 2007

Tips for Watching Grindhouse

When I first heard that two of my favorite directors -- Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino -- would be teaming up to be making a double feature called Grindhouse in the style of old exploitation horror/action films from the '70s, I got downright giddy. Rodriguez filmed Planet Terror -- an almost realistic zombie flick complete with bioweapons, brilliant cameos of B-grade, retro C-grade and a few A-grade actors, a BBQ recipe subplot, bitchy babysitters, sexy and creepy doctors, choppers, and a go go dancer who ends up with an impressive gun for a leg. Rodriguez hit the mark dead on and it's truly an entertaining film all the way through right down to its spaghetti western ending.

Tarantino went the other route with Death Proof and paid tribute to action films of the exploitation era complete with sexy ladies, the best stunt woman in the business -- Zoe Bell, killer cars (literally) and a car chase worth it's weight in blood and axe grease. At first you really have no idea where the film will go -- since Tarantino likes to have his characters talk about nothing a lot -- but it's worth it in the end. The car crashes will leave you squinting in pain and the chases will have you hooting and hollering. I don't want to give anything away (hey, I hate spoilers too), but be sure to stay all the way through the end of the last film -- no skipping out as soon as the credits roll. And I give extra points for Tarantino for putting April March on the soundtrack. In fact, the entire soundtrack to this double feature is as cool and unexpected as the films themselves.

In true grindhouse form, Rodriguez and Tarantino also had some of their director friends make trailers for movies that will sadly never see the light of day. Originally, Rodriguez and Tarantino had planned to make all of the film's fake trailers themselves. According to Rodriguez (snagged via Wiki), "We had so many ideas for trailers. I made Machete. I shot lobby cards and the poster and cut the trailer and sent it to Quentin, and he just flipped out because it looked so vintage and so real. He started showing it around to directors Eli Roth (Hostel) and to Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), and they said, 'Can we do a trailer? We have an idea for a trailer!' We were like, 'Hey, let them shoot it. If we don't get around to shooting ours, we'll put theirs in the movie. If theirs comes out really great, we'll put it in the movie to have some variety.' Then Rob Zombie came up to me in October at the Scream Awards and said, 'I have a trailer: Werewolf Women of the SS.' I said, 'Say no more. Go shoot it. You got me.'

So here are a few tips (without spoilers) to help you get through 3 hours and 11 minutes of nonstop fun and action known as Grindhouse.

Most Important Tip:
Nothing ruins a cool film like this faster than a jerk talking on his cell phone or a little kid kicking the back of your seat. This is common in every mall and megaplex theater I've gone to in the last 5 years. But if you watch this flick at a artsy indie theater (like The Bridge Theater in San Francisco) you will be among people who truly love films and THAT specific film since it's the only one showing and there's nothing else around the theater to attract chatty teens and people who update their iPods during films. I swear this was the ONLY time I've seen a movie without people disrupting it with newborn babies or text messaging. I'll be going back to The Bridge Theater again and again thanks to this awesome movie-going experience. Do your part to support local indie/small movie houses so more films like this can be shown the way they were meant to be seen.

1. PEE BEFORE THE MOVIES START. Seriously. This double feature is long and since you don't want to miss anything good. Pee first. And don't get a beverage unless you really will dehydrate during the films.

2. IF YOU HAVE TO PEE AGAIN AT LEAST WAIT UNTIL THE SEX SCENE. I don't want to give anything away here -- but there is a sex scene in Planet Terror. And you can run to the restroom then. You won't miss much. Just don't take too long!

3. DON'T EAT A FULL MEAL FIRST. Why? Let's just say there's a few grossout moments in Planet Terror (it IS a zombie movie after all) and in Death Proof (a slasher movie using a car, so yeah there's a few memorable squeamy crashes). But honestly, the fake trailer for Thanksgiving made my stomach lurch the most.

4. WATCH THE FAKE TRAILERS AT THE BEGINNING AND MIDDLE. Machete is the first one by Rodriguez. Then the middle trailers are by his pals Rob Zombie (Nazi werewolf women complete with a truly bizarre grade-A actor cameo), Edgar Wright (Don't) and probably the most disturbing of the bunch Eli Roth's Thanksgiving. Maybe you can figure out the last shot of Thanksgiving. It's a quick disgusting scene at the dinner table that I thank to God wasn't a freeze frame. Ewwww.

5. SPOT ALL THE CAMEOS OF RETRO STARS IN BOTH FILMS. Both directors tend to use the same actors over and over in their films (and in this case some of them used the same characters in both films connecting them further -- like the twins!) But most importantly both directors have fun casting actors and actresses that you know you've seen somewhere before but just can't place them. I don't want to give them away -- because what would be the fun in that?! -- but let's just say you'll spot them if you're a fan of "Lost," "Six Feet Under," "Boston Public," "Charmed," "Twin Peaks," "Veronica Mars," "Passions," Goonies, RENT, Terminator and The Lawnmower Man.

Also some actors in the films aren't regular actors at all, but icons in industry. In Planet Terror Deputy Tolo is played by Tom Savini -- a legendary makeup artist on The Night of the Living Dead films. Actors are also often close friends of the director as in the case of Deputy Carlos played by Carlos Gallardo (Mexican director and producer friend of Rodriguez). Oh and the twin babysitters are actually Rodriguez's nieces -- Electra and Elise Avellan. For Tarantino's Death Proof, you might want to brush up on stuntwoman icons 101. Because this film is full of them such as Monica Staggs and the awesome Zoe Bell.

6. PEE AGAIN AT THE BEGINNING OF DEATH PROOF. Why? Because Tarantino has his girl characters chatter about nothing the first 5-10 minutes of the film while they drive and you won't miss much and your bladder will thank you later when it gets seriously good.

7. APPRECIATE THE RETRO WEAR AND TEAR. To keep the grindhouse feel going, both directors scratched up their films, made them cut abruptly to other scenes, had the vocal track skip and hiccup, and in Tarantino's case he gives the audience a "Missing Reel" sign just when something amazing is about to happen. Doh! But at least the whole audience will groan, so you won't be alone.

8. BASK IN THE TALENT OF ZOE BELL. She's a New Zealand stuntwoman who not only shadowed Lucy Lawless as her double in "Xena," but also brilliantly shadowed Uma in Kill Bill which is no easy feat considering how particular Tarantino is about fighting and making it look both real and impossible at the same time. So watch her show off her talent (she literally did all her stunts and make it look effortless) in Death Proof.

9. GET READY FOR BAD-ASS KURT RUSSELL. Ya know, I was waiting forever to say that sentence again. I miss Snake. And after being in all those horrible Disney movies over and over again (seriously do they OWN his soul or something?) I was happy to see Russell do what he does best -- being charming and creepy and devilish in a movie meant for him. I hope this means we'll see more of this dark side of him. PLEASE.

10. DO NOT DRIVE LIKE A MANIAC AFTER THE FILM. I did. I couldn't help it. It was a foggy, spooky San Francisco night after catching the film at The Bridge Theater and I had parked right out front. Some jerk was almost about to back into me as he was making a horrible attempt to parallel park. I honked at him as he came within inches of hitting my car. And he ignored me. So somehow my VW bug became deathproof as I backup a tad and screeched out of the parking lot full speed ahead of the approaching traffic behind me. And I'm pretty sure in my Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill mindset at the time that was perfectly fine behavior. But in hindsight I'm glad I didn't win a Darwin Award that night. So take my advice and after the film, ride the bus. Or hail a taxi. Or better yet, join the line for the next showing.

April 7, 2007

Star Wars Papercraft Easter Egg Boxes

Who says the Easter Bunny doesn't need a little help once in awhile? Make these cute Yoda and Chewbacca Papercraft Easter Egg Boxes, illustrated by Star Wars artist Katie Cook, to hold your favorite decorated eggs. Print out the PDF designs, follow the easy instructions and fill them with candy or even a very special Easter egg! Use them year-round to store your Star Wars action figures, miniatures, cards and other collectibles.

Click here for the instructions: Star Wars Papercraft Easter Egg Boxes

April 5, 2007

Mr. Binks and Brett

With my never-ending obsession with Sherlock Holmes actor Jeremy Brett, I came across this candid photo of himself and his beloved dog Mr. Binks. There's nothing cuter than a British stage actor of yesteryear taking a quick nap with his faithful pooch.


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