Archive for the ‘Retro’ Category

By the time you read this the fourth season of BBC‘s Sherlock will be airing and we will have an answer to a two-year-old mystery, is James Moriarty dead or alive? While the character of Professor Moriarty and/or characters based on him are real in the Sherlock and Elementary universes and in scores of other Sherlock Holmes adaptations, some Sherlockians have been asking themselves for decades, if “The Napoleon of Crime” ever really existed at all?

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The character is first mentioned in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem first published in the December 1893 issue of The Strand Magazine,  and latter included in the collection of short stories entitled The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes though Moriarty may or may not have been anonymously referred to in a few previous cases. In the story, set in 1890, Holmes asks Watson, “You have probably never heard of Professor Moriarty?” When Watson says no, Holmes then tells him, “Aye, there’s the genius and the wonder of the thing! The man pervades London, and no one has heard of him. That’s what puts him on a pinnacle in the records of crime. I tell you, Watson, in all seriousness, that if I could beat that man, if I could free society of him, I should feel that my own career had reached its summit, and I should be prepared to turn to some more placid line in life.” 

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN SEASON, FELLOW NERDS!
Welcome to another edition of Nerd History with Tom Elmore!

Many of us celebrate the arrival of Halloween by watching horror films. And whether or not you prefer the classics monsters like Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster, or the newer ones such as Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Kruger, almost all of them can trace their origins to three German films of the silent era.

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From 1911 until 1933 Germany enjoyed its first taste of democracy during the Weimar Republic. This gave German artists freedoms of which modern artists would be jealous. Consequently every area of German culture enjoyed an unprecedented wave of creativity. The German film industry flourished during this period, producing about 250 films a year. In Berlin alone there was over 230 film studios. Though filmmakers had unprecedented artistic freedom, they had to overcome obstacles created by a broken infrastructure, shortages caused by World War I and one of the worst economies in the history of Europe.

Yet thanks to their fertile imaginations and remarkable talents, it was German filmmakers, and not Hollywood, producing the most ambitious and technically advanced films in the world. However, many of the films (these three included) showed the conscious and sub-conscious fears of the German people, in particular, fear of authority figures.

NOTE: Synopses contain spoilers. Yes, these films were made almost 100 years ago, but still, a spoiler alert is a spoiler alert! 

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September 8, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek, one of the most successful franchises in the history of entertainment which to date has spawned four spin-off television series, thirteen theatrical films and countless books, video games and other paraphernalia.
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While many books, blogs and documentaries are celebrating the show’s milestone and its impact on society and pop culture, there is one part of the story that is getting very little attention: the aborted second series Star Trek Phase II.

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The sudden and surprising death of Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson 1958-2016) has led to numerous tributes and discussions about the man, his music and his influences on pop culture. But one part of his career that is not getting a lot of talk, his relationship with Batman.
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(image courtesy of Warner Bros.)

This article will hopefully shed some light on this now-nearly-forgotten connection between the Dark Knight and the Purple Prince.

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Before we begin, please let me be completely honest here… I absolutely LOVE bad 80s horror movies. There is just a certain something about these classic gems (if you can even call them that) of retro-cinema that just have a special place in my heart.

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Maybe it’s that familiar shot-on-video look that reminds me of my childhood; maybe it’s the overabundance of cheese-ball campiness that tickles my (admittedly offbeat) funny bone; or maybe it’s the fact that in these movies, anything can kill you… and I do mean ANYTHING. It’s with that in mind we take a look back at 1985’s The Stuff – the only movie (to my knowledge) to ever feature killer ice cream… or yogurt… or whatever it is.

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

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Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice marks the first time that these two iconic characters have appeared together in a live action film or television production. However, it is far from the first the first appearance of the ultimate superhero dream team.
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(image courtesy of DC Comics, art by Jim Lee)

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To be perfectly honest, I had completely forgotten about 1989’s Parents until just a few years ago. But thanks to magic of Netflix, this bizarre film about family-style cannibalism has suddenly re-emerged from the depths of (at least in my eyes) obscurity and has, much like a lot of other films out there, found new life on the instant streaming service.

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With that in mind, let’s take a look back at this lesser known horror gem…

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Often overlooked in the hoopla over the upcoming film Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, is the fact that 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most important milestones in the Man of Steel’s history, the debut of his first animated film, Superman (a.k.a The Mad Scientist) produced by Max Fleischer’s animation studio and released by Paramount Studios. Let’s take a look back on this very important part of nerd history!
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Max Fleischer, and his brother Dave are often regarded as two of the greatest and most important animators of the 1920s and 1930s. Often considered to be Walt Disney’s only rival, they created the character Betty Boop. They later acquired the rights to the comic strip Popeye and turned the title character into the biggest animated star of its day. Sometime in 1941, their distributor, Paramount Pictures approached them about doing a series of shorts based on a recent comic book character that was taking the nation by storm-Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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When most horror fans hear the name Lucio Fulci, they probably immediately think of movies like “Zombie” or “Gates of Hell”. While those are both excellent films, I figured I’d instead devote this issue of my Retro Reviews column to a lesser-known gem by the Italian Horror icon (and a personal favorite of mine) “The House By The Cemetery.”

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January 12, 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the show that begat one of the most remarkable crazes in the history of television- 1966’s Batman.
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(limited edition BluRay box set cover)

           
How the show came to be is an interesting tale in its own right. A high-ranking ABC executive suggested that the network adapt a comic book hero into a television show for the early programming slot, when children are most likely to be watching T.V. ABC’s first choice was Superman, but those rights where tied by the Broadway musical It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman which closed after 129 performances. Next they tried Dick Tracy, but the character’s creator, Chester Gould was already negotiating with NBC. Thus ABC settled on their third choice, Batman.

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