Thursday, 26 February 2009

Shred on Lee Kyung Won!

Continuing a loose video game music theme at Disaster Towers, here's Korean guitarist Lee Kyung Won's reimaginationing of the Guile stage theme from Street Fighter II. US imperialist might never sounded so heroic! Lee's no slouch in the productivity department either, as well as transforming the Street Fighter II arcade credits theme into a soft rock classic; he's also had a crack at Cammy, Zangief, Charlie Nash, Ken and Balrog the Boxer's stage music. There's even a Fatal Fury 3 Boss theme for the SNK faithful. Info on Lee himself is a bit thin on the ground, although I can tell you that as well as being a wizard axeman, he also shares his name with a female badminton player. Exciting!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Wrestle Jammin'

For your listening pleasure, please find inclosed Joel Feinberg's chiptune theme music for The Wrestler's mocked-up NES grappler Wrestle Jam. If you're puzzled at the lack of Ram Jammin' in said vid, it's because the footage used is from real-life NES tights-and-fights sim Pro Wrestling. Kotaku ran an article on the faux title's genesis the other day, find that here. Good reads!

Sketch Tuesday: Orion

Bah. Curse my lateness. No alliteration for me. Orion was the notional lead in Jack Kirby's New Gods series, first appearing in the title's inaugural issue, dated February 1971. Born on Apokolips, raised on New Genesis, and destined to battle his father to the death at the end of all things. Well, until various writers transposed that termination arc onto Kal-El of Krypton. Poor Orion eh? That's before you even get into Batman stealing his missus. Yikes!

Although everyone ignores it, Kirby closed the saga in 1985 with a prestige format graphic novel called The Hunger Dogs. Hunger Dogs saw an increasing isolated Darkseid finally achieving something of his force dominion ambitions through the use the atom allegory Micro-Mark. Orion battles across the hell-planet, instigating a revolution among the despised Apokoliptian working class in the process. Rather than duff his dad at the conclusion, Orion abandons the self-destructive prophecy and zips off to start a new life with his beloved Bekka. He's outgrown Darkseid, and all he entails. A rather fitting conclusion I think, but what do I know?

Being the son of Darkseid, Orion naturally has a brutish exterior. His craggy monster face is usually kept in check by his soothing Mother box, but every now and then he reveals his true form - usually to make a bombastic point. Here's my take on The Dog of War.

Believe it or not, when I started this I didn't intend it to be a weekly love letter to Jack Kirby!

Battle Convoy!

Vintage blurb reel! Stop-motion Japanese ad detailing Optimus Prime's previous life as Battle Convoy, from Takara's Diaclone line. Unusually, for G1 fans anyway, this shill short focuses on the trailer playset; a toy detail utterly neglected in most subsequent Transformers media. In the animated TV series, the haul kibble would usually float off into the ether when the Prime cab sprung into action. As with most vid-blurbs of this period, the item is presented as an in-text character going about their robot business, rather than a child prop. Gotta love the blistering heat haze fogging the opening desert shots, and the toy's radioactive awesomeness overloading the scale powerlines! Interesting to note that Battle Convoy is seen adventuring about an arid landscape, given Hasbro's later election to stage their rebranded Transformers line around an extinct volcano in Oregon.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Atrocity Playset!

Now you too can re-create the magic of the Lars' brutal execution at the hands of Sandtroopers! This thrilling addition to the Star Wars Legacy Collection is exclusive to moppet magnet Toys R Us. Ages 4+! Genuine product! Maybe they'll issue an aftermath variant with a ray blasted hut, and the couple's steaming skeletal remains clawing away from the entrance? Magic. Deeply Disturbed Luke sold separately.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

An Afternoon with The Lost

Setting aside Niko Bellic's American dream, Rockstar North prop up last year's Grand Theft Auto 4 with 360 exclusive expansion pack The Lost and Damned. This first slice of episodic content focuses on The Lost, a biker gang prone to brief, violent flirtations with GTA4's main storyline. Players take control of occasional Bellic assist character Johnny Klebitz, smarting after gang control is steered away from his entrepreneurial instincts, and back into pointless smash-and-grabs, by rehab vet Billy Grey.

Brief impressions rather than a full review, I'm barely a quarter through.

Thankfuly, Rockstar North has resisted any urge to reset Liberty City to unplundered; all islands are open from the get-go. Klebitz stumbles across demolitions grade military hardware at an alarmingly early juncture too. It continues to be readily available throughout, purchased off the back of a pal's truck, who doesn't require buttering-up either. Vehicles have been added, tracklists extended, and motorcycle handling has been tweaked to something a little more tolerable. A big phew there, since bike convoying is frequent. Klebitz himself handles differently too: stout and plodding, where Niko was rapid and tumbling.

Without wishing to give too much away, storyline highlights thus far have included a hilariously curtailed piece of cat and mousing with the LCPD, and the loss of one chapter member quickly spinning out into a street level Patriot Act. Billy Grey is certainly one for brotherhood posturing and paranoid isolationist rhetoric. Follow orders. Stop asking questions. His vocal goon squad have more than a faint whiff of Saints Row 2's nondescript chump army about them - each eager to risk and die for transparent bro fibs. Klebitz has a little more ambition than that. His dry remarks taking the bore out of endless odes to 'deadbeats' and counter-culture camaraderie. The way I end up playing forms a kind of individualist text too - bikes intermittently dumped for more reliable car motoring, default weapon sets traded up, and heavies going uncalled. Who plays GTA to be in a gang anyway? It's always more fun to accomplish alone.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Sketch Saturday: Etrigan the Demon

A shade early. I'm busy tomorrow! The Demon was Jack Kirby's hastily commissioned follow-up to the cancelled Fourth World books. Whilst Kamandi basked in the Pierre Boulle inspired Fifth World, Etrigan the Demon had Arthurian myth-space to call home. Summoned from Hell to act as Camelot's trump card by sorcerer supreme Merlin, an unsuccessful Etrigan was reduced to human form and sent packing. Etrigan has since found life as a satanic supporting player in many a DC universe, popping up as a spirit guide in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, and up-for-a-ruck in The New Batman (animated) Adventures.

I'm a bit torn on my Demon. I'm happy with everything other than his left arm. Don't know what happened there. I thought about cropping it, but it looked worse. Oh well! I'm especially pleased that he's turned out particularly stout.

Occult Luis Guzman!

"A basterds work is never done..."

Quentin Tarantino's long-gestating World War II epic is finally on the march. Say hello to Inglourious Basterds.

Opinion's split on the wilful misspelling, either it's a meta nod to Tarantino's haphazard approaching to the Queen's, and the Hollywood press scorn it inspired; or some colour to differentiate itself from Enzo G. Castellari's 1978 inspiration flick Inglorious Bastards - also known variously as Quel Maledetto Treno Blindato, Hell's Heroes, Counterfeit Commandos, and (surfing the Blaxploitation wave) GI Bro. Heck, it might even be an underhand attempt to short change Castellari on remake money, although Tarantino's presence on a recent three-disc reissue set would suggest otherwise.

Basterds is the tale of a crack platoon of Jewish commandos raising hell behind enemy lines, told in tandem with a kosher cinema owner's simmering revenge plot. Rather than opt for deadly accurate history channeling, Tarantino has observed that this is the course the war woulda' run if only his characters had been around. Home for Christmas!

Frightful Pagan Day!

The Heh Skull wishes you a very spooky Friday the 13th!

Hopefully you didn't suffer through an unfortunate demise on this day of dread. Ghost readers, be aware that I welcome your otherwordly patronage. Flattered I am. Zombies, stink up elsewhere. I've no time for shufflers. What's the ghost internets like then undead pals? Full of white-hot terror, and up-sheet pics of lady apparitions I'll wager. Saucy! I digress, here's your Disaster Year approved freaky Friday YouTube clip; with a remake out and about, it can't help but be topical!

This slice of nice comes from 1989's umpteenth trip to the well, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. A real stinker, once caught late at night on Summer Holidays BBC1. For those prone to affront, hockey-face barely makes it to any of New York's islands until deep into the last reels. Those liars! Very little pre-Giuliani Dearth Wishing cross-pollination on offer here. You'd think 80s New York would be ripe for the picking! Jason fails utterly to make any mark as an instrument of unkillable puritan justice. Anti-sleaze Golem vs nest of sin is out the window, Jason preferring to dog early reel nuisances instead. Ho-hum. Watch as a tired stunt worker plods his through some fright-house murder. The crumbling stink of unoriginality hangs heavy over this film, giving off belch whiffs as the latest offering limps through long assigned slaughter spunking. Phew! It gets up in your nose.

This here though is the sole fraction of quality; delirious anti-triumph as neo-con killer Jason reveals himself an Ali fan.


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Deader Rising!

Game bulletin Kotaku has it confirmed. Expect more zombie genocide! Details are heartening too! Despite the Dead Rising series' development shift west, Keiji Inafune is on still on-board as producer. While I don't doubt that Canadian studio Blue Castle Games can string some pulpy shuffle thrills together, key to the original's appeal was an aggressively forthright condemnation of American agricultural policy, and nationwide gluttony. No, seriously! Quite the coup for a Japanese studio's inaugural game on the 'States born 360 system eh? Inafune's game framed the American leads as over-ripe waddle-men desperately trying to keep a leg up on skinny rot hordes, and glamorous immigrant terrorists. I had worried that such concerns would be straight out the window when the franchise left Japan dev, but with Inafune aboard and the series scene shifting to that other monument to abasement: Las Vegas, signs are hopeful!

Shame Frank's no longer the lead. Guess he never did get that tank moving again.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sketch Sunday: Cobra Commander

Faceless, Blofeld alike antagonist to Hasbro's GI Joe: A Real American Hero; or Action Force if you hail from Blighty. Created by Larry Hama, who salvaged a rejected Nick Fury Jnr comics pitch into Joe canon when he got wind that franchise was to be resurrected at 3 3/4", following the success of the Micronauts and Star Wars toylines. Originally a mail-away figure, Cobra Commander was eventually issued in a wide variety of molds, including a blank polished reflection face, and sundry battle armours. This hooded outfitting is my favourite. Hood-Head Commander has been vetoed from the upcoming GI Joe movie - makes him look too much like a Ku Klux Klansman by all accounts. Heaven forbid your privileged, psychotic, terror-cell leader looks like a racist eh?

Here's an even sketchier copic marker render.

My Belly Is Not Full!

Teaser fruit of Canadian developer Blue Castle Games' ongoing Dead Rising sequel efforts? No official confirmation has emerged, but that Atlasphere sequence is a little slick for a fan cobble, don't you think?

Thursday, 5 February 2009

T(etsujin) 28

Behold! TMNT CG animation studio Imagi has silver screen designs on the very first giant robot manga. Following on from Osamu Tezuka's mini-bot heroics, Mitsuteru Yokoyama's Tetsujin 28-go told the story of an inventor's son, and his pairing to a voiceless boiler-bot. Together they battled against all creed of criminal, and no small amount of rampaging armour slaves. Imagi, by way of pitch, prepared this short reel of bare exposition and robo-clash histrionics.

28-go becomes reduction zip flavoured T28. That's one way around the name muddle I suppose. Christen the robot with a Soviet tank production number! You can't really blame the struggling animation studio; Tetsujin's a little hard to swallow for a deadly mainstream kids animation feature, and who wants to pay the Ladd's for the use of water-down title Gigantor? Especially when they're preparing their own spin-off franchise: G3. Not to mention that any attempt at a literal translation is going to undermine the effort with a distinct whiff of me-too Iron Man grasping. A dire situation all round! Still did they really have to transform Yokoyama's Shotaro Kaneda from a stocky little prep kid into a indistinct 'tude placeholder? Shouldn't think the feature will be exploring cataclysm weapon guilt following World War II either.

Still! The mountain-bot clashes ain't no slouch, and there's always disaster currency in seeing bold order-men piloting from their destruction avatar's palm. Fearless! Shotaro aside, colour me interested - certainly more so than the curve-less Astro Boy update.

Quite apart from a duff live action movie, this isn't the first time this franchise has been recently revived. Most notably, Giant Robo grandstander Yasuhiro Imagawa piloted a splendid TV series in 2004. Aside from a feature length capper movie, it's easily available in the West; Manga published at least two DVD volumes in the UK, and Geneon got the whole set out for the US. Well worth tracking down. This Tetsujin is less endless metal clashes, more Frankenstein rumination on artificial life responsibility.

Get all excited! Check this nationalistic pride flavoured opener!

That theme's a winner.

Judge, Jury & Executioner!

No! Not late 70s Joe Dredd, it's yet another Watchmen viral!

Seems a shame to not have a full Columbia serial series out of those fantastic Minutemen suits. Who doesn't want to see bite-size chunks of Hooded Justice agitatedly clobbering some no-good purse snatcher to death? Hopefully we'll get a full trailer for the Tales of the Black Freighter animated movie soon too.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Down With Huckabees!

Christian Bale! He had a tantrum. Did you hear it? 'Course you did. On the million-to-one chance you didn't, here it is.

Fuck this. Fuck that. Transatlantic wobbly this. Indistinct accent that. Put yourself in his shoes! You're standing there, ACTING, trying to nail a scene in did-anyone-want-it sequel Terminator: Salvation (3 stunk up the Terminator number game, so down with T4, up with colon noun), and some CLOWN is fiddling with lights in the background. Zoot alores! Who taught Hollywood to this light nudging idiot?

basic human decency, Bale's shitfit is hilarious! The invincible star really stuck it to those work-a-day Joes! I especially liked the bits where Bales implied the guy's career is to be ruined, and sundry producer's cowering apologies to try and placate the unsackable talent. "I didn't see anything Christian, although I'm sure you're correct."

Ha ha!


He shoulda kept it sweary, then we could all laugh it off as another wonderful blue-air La La Land snap-shot. Still though, stay the fuck outta Bale's eyeline! He's filling Edward Furlong's shoes for Christ's sake.

For those that way inclined, there's even a dance remix.

I enjoyed Harry Knowles' take over at Ain't It Cool News; although he raises some fair in-club points, it can't help but seem the toady back-rub of a arch sycophant eager for future exclusives. Stress on 'seem'. Remember when that site leaked things? Just another octopus arm now.

Anyway, brush all that aside, we're forgetting the real villain in Hollywood Land: I Heart Huckabees director David O Russell!


Bale's got a long way to go if he wants to compete with this former indy darling in the unchallengeable dick stakes. Bale shouted and snarled at a grown man, O Russell's got that beat cold. He kicks set-dressings at winter-years women! Invisible stage-hands get wads of paper launched at their cowering frames!

He NURSED that screenplay for three years! HAVE SOME RESPECT RANK AMATEUR LILY TOMLIN!

I love that the cameraman reframes at 2:04. For prosperity!

Real update tomorrow. I promise.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em

Intentional or not, this is arm-waving vaudeville gold. With thanks to Anna.