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Archive for the ‘Blog Post (short for weblog)’ Category

Dude – I’m on Adkins Undisputed!

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Do you all listen to ADKINS UNDISPUTED? It’s a podcast done by a guy named Mike Scott, who goes through the Scott Adkins filmography in chronological order. I can imagine a version of that concept that’s fun to listen to, but not as good as what Mike does. He takes the job seriously, with heavily researched scripted intros, followed by a more free-wheeling discussion with the week’s guest (or “champion”). And very early in the run of the show Mr. Adkins himself caught on to it and has provided interviews for each episode. I’ve learned many things about the movies from Adkins, plus the side discussions have led me to all kinds of Hong Kong movies I hadn’t seen, and the rotating guests have introduced me to some cool people from the world of action movie fandom. It is fun to listen to, but also a genuine work of action movie scholarship. I love it.

So it was a great honor to be a guest on this week’s show. The subject is THE LEGEND OF HERCULES, which I hadn’t actually seen until now, despite Adkins playing the villain and Renny Harlin being the director. Mike originally invited me on for a better movie a little later in the filmography, but we realized it was going to be months before he got to it and nobody was slotted for HERCULES so I was happy to do it. I hope I did okay!
HERE IT IS

P.S. I’ll post a review of the movie after the episode has been up for a bit

Oscar Best Picture Nominee Round-up 2021

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Well, it’s that time of year again. The end of April, that fabled time when the Oscars were 2 1/2 months ago unless there was a pandemic. Okay, obviously the big event this week is MORTAL KOMBAT coming out on Friday. But I’m still gonna enjoy watching the Oscars on Sunday.

As is my tradition, I made sure to watch all of the best picture nominees. Due to the pandemic I had seen fewer of them than usual when the nominations were announced, but it was easier to catch up since they could all be streamed. That was nice, though I will always treasure the time I had to take a ferry to the only theater in my area still playing HACKSAW RIDGE.

I had intended to do full reviews of more of these, but you know how it is – I decided to write about Godzilla movies and BLOODSPORT sequels and shit instead. It happens. So here are links to the ones I’ve reviewed and some thoughts on the ones I haven’t. (read the rest of this shit…)

R.I.P. DMX

Friday, April 9th, 2021


Man do I hate starting out sentences this way, but rest in peace to DMX, rap icon who wielded the most unwieldy mix of bravado, raw intensity, heart-on-his-sleeve vulnerability and demonic horror in some great and idiosyncratic music. He seemed to appear to us already on top, shocking the world with a completely new sound and cadence. The growls, the chants, the gothic organs, the kids chanting about DMX like he’s Freddy, the catchy anthems that still get our hearts pumping today. But underneath it a sense of sincere anguish and struggle.

In his almost 25 years of music and public life he seemed to always be running from demons, on the brink of possible disaster, yet it feels impossible that they finally caught up with him. From the beginning he talked about pain and fear, he covered himself in blood on an album cover, talked about Hell, gave literal voice to his darkest thoughts, prayed to (and conversed with) God, read sad poems. But he was also known for having fun – praising his friends, driving around on four-wheelers doing wheelies and donuts (a trademark!), boasting, being funny.

And of course he had an action movie period! He just happened to be on the top at the right time to intersect with Joel Silver’s action-star-with-rappers-and-R&B-singers period. So he co-starred with Jet Li and Steven Seagal in roles where he just seemed like DMX, even if his character was, like, a hacktivist. I love that kinda shit – his screen presence was more exciting to me than good acting would’ve been – but he showed much more potential in BELLY, the one movie directed by music video legend Hype Williams. Not everything about the movie works, but it looks absolutely incredible, makes numerous interesting artistic choices and really does harness that raw DMX charisma in a powerful way.

I was so hyped for NEVER DIE ALONE, where he was the lead and stretching himself more, adapting a book by Donald Goins. It didn’t turn out to be what I hoped for at the time, and everyone else seemed to ignore it (though I have since seen it discovered and enjoyed by a few people). Like for most movie star type performers there was kind of a decline in quality, and he was content to just show up in random DTV movies on occasion, more cashing in on his name and face than finding good roles. And that’s fine. I can respect that. His heart was on the mic. Why not also play “Davie” in FAST AND FIERCE: DEATH RACE? I’m sure it was fun.

It was long known that he struggled with addiction and mental health issues that got him into reckless and inexplicable misadventures, but in recent years he appeared to have settled down a little. It seemed like the guy who on his first album said, “And I fear that what I’m saying, won’t be heard until I’m gone / But it’s all good, ’cause I really didn’t expect to live long” was aging into an old legend. Last year I watched him on that Verzuz with Snoop Dogg and it was electric to see the two of them celebrating each others’ life’s work, gushing over each other, dancing around like total dorks.

It made me so happy to watch them like that I actually tried to take some live screengrabs to capture the vibe:

DMX had a belly like a retiree and seemed so humble and flattered, being self-deprecating, almost bashful about the compliments. I hope he was able to enjoy it and really understand how much the world loved him.

Here are my old reviews of some of his movies. They’re not my best or most respectful work. I’ve been thinking about revisiting the Jet Li American period, so maybe I’ll do them more justice next time.

ROMEO MUST DIE
BELLY
NEVER DIE ALONE
CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE
LORDS OF THE STREET

Patreon sneak peek: PUMP UP THE VOLUME

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Here’s a little behind the scenes thing you probly wouldn’t guess: I have close to 30 reviews I’ve written in the past few years that I’m not ready to post yet. There’s nothing I love more than doing a good themed review series, but I always start working and then get sidetracked on the current reviews or a seasonal series and then I end up starting another series that I don’t finish and then another one. I have several of them in progress and I really need to figure out how to focus and get them off my ledger. The one with the topic I’m most excited about I started writing in 2018 (jesus christ, Vern!), so I’ve been trying to wrap that one up. And then I started writing a franchise series that’s kind of a prequel to that. Sorry.

Anyway, I decided it would be cool to take one that’s not gonna see the light of day any time soon and have it as Patreon exclusive for now. So if you are currently pledging to the Patreon you can read my review of the 1990 teen rebellion pirate radio joint PUMP UP THE VOLUME. And then some day in the next 1 to 25 years you may see it posted here in the context of some other similarly-themed movies.

CLICK HERE TO PUMP UP THAT VOLUME

Happy New Year, friends

Thursday, December 31st, 2020

So much for that bullshit. Now for the next one. Hopefully we can start digging our way out of the wreckage from this one.

Thank you everybody for reading and posting this year. I’m so grateful to be able to talk movies and everything else with you all, to hear your insights and your jokes and your feedback. I appreciate the community you all create here and all the other ways you’ve supported me and helped make it possible for me to spend most of my time writing.

So consider this a toast to all of you, to great movies, to terrible movies, to kung fu and samurais and funk music, to excellence, to weirdos, to kindness and generosity and sticking it to The Man. Love you all.

RIP MF DOOM

check me out on a podcast about Jet Li movies

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

As I mentioned in a few recent reviews, I was one of the guests on the podcast Postcards From a Dying World, talking about the films of Jet Li. I had fun and it was a good excuse to fill in or revisit some of his movies (a couple more of those reviews coming soon).

CHECK IT OUT HERE

And by the way this is part two in a trilogy of Chinese cinema episodes. I’m excited to listen to the other two because honestly the guests are much more impressive than me: Part 1 has Dan Halsted, the Portland film programmer you may have heard on RZA’s commentaries and who stars in the legendary story of the guy who tracked down a treasure trove of pristine Shaw Brothers beneath an abandoned theater. Part 3 – Best Hong Kong Cinema of the ’80s and ’90s – has Lisa Morton (author of The Cinema of Tsui Hark), Joey O’Bryan (screenwriter of FULLTIME KILLER, MOTORWAY, DOWNRANGE and TRIPLE THREAT) and Jeff Briggs (archivist at Warner Brothers and Hong Kong cinema expert).

If you check out my episode let me know your top Jet Li movies so I know which ones I need to hurry up and watch or re-watch.

New Patreon bonus: Martial Law: “Sammo Claus”

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Merry Christmas and/or have a good weekend, everybody! Over on Patreon I have a new exclusive, reviewing a Christmas episode of Sammo Hung’s short-lived American TV show Martial Law. I hope you enjoy it.

SAMMO CLAUS!

And I don’t want to be an asshole and only give a present to people giving me money, so also I unlocked the techno song I made in September so you can listen to it without donating. It’s about the ’90s. Sit around the hearth with your family and listen to it, maybe it will become a treasured holiday tradition.

 

I talked about slamming evil on a podcast

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

On the podcast SO DO WE STILL LIKE THIS?, Shawn M of Canada convenes with friends and guests to revisit pieces of pop culture from when he was younger (mostly the ’80s and ’90s) and see how they hold up. He was kind enough to have me on to talk about WORM ON A HOOK and my other books, but more importantly he let me be on the episode that revisits the 1996 film THE PHANTOM! He actually hadn’t seen it. I had. I was honestly so hyped to do this because I really believe there’s alot to discuss about this movie and I enjoyed the conversation. Let me know what you think.

SO DO WE STILL LIKE THIS? episode 118: THE PHANTOM

Programming note

Monday, November 2nd, 2020

I did a couple extra reviews last week, so I ran out of back log and I don’t have anything new to post like I normally would on a Monday… but I sort of need to play it by ear this week anyway. I’ll see if I’m able to concentrate enough to finish the ones I’ve been working on or if it will even feel right to post anything. Like, I might not post a monster movie review right away if a new civil war starts. Maybe wait until a couple days after the first important battle out of respect or whatever. But I promise I have some good stuff coming soon.

Anyway I just want to say stay safe everybody, take care of your mental state, we’re in this together, nazi presidents fuck off, let’s blow up this stupid Death Star and get ready for the next one.

The Shape of Evil: Confronting darkness through the ‘Halloween’ series

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Two years ago, but it seems closer to ten, a nice deputy editor for a new publication approached me to write a piece. He had been reading me forever and was working for this company with a bunch of money invested in it, could pay pretty well and expose me to some new readers not only on the web but a print magazine he compared to Rolling Stone. I said yes and we were going back and forth about what my first piece should be, and then my mom died.

Freelance gigs are usually a little stressful and all-consuming for me, but for some reason I still wanted to do it. Looking back at my emails, I was literally trying to schedule around the days off I had other than the one for the funeral. I agreed to write about the Halloween series, in conjunction with the upcoming David Gordon Green sequel. I watched all ten existing movies (including remakes) and came up with this piece that ties them all together thematically, at times addressing the grief and fears I was dealing with at the time. I took longer than I was supposed to and ended up with twice the agreed upon word count and I was so unsure anybody else would be interested that in my email I said, “If you don’t want it I understand, just let me know and I’ll use it on outlawvern.com and we’ll come up with something else for me to work on for you.”

Then the magazine (you will never see this coming) ran out of money, all the editors resigned, I don’t believe I ever got paid and the article could only be seen on the Wayback Machine. But I got no regrets because working on this helped me in a tough period of my life and gave me a better understanding of my relationship with the genre. So I’m proud to repost it here.

(I’ve kept their edits, so you’ll notice some British spellings in here.) (read the rest of this shit…)