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Reno Comic Con— I know, right??

I never thought I’d see the day, but my old stomping grounds (and the birthplace of Cool Jerk and Doc Splatter) is hosting its very own comic convention this week.

Reno Comic Con — part of a series of conventions put on by Wizard World — will mark its debut in the Truckee Meadows this Friday through Sunday, Nov. 21-23. I’ve been given the status of “Special Guest” so that means I can show up drunk and take anything I want from other people’s tables. Crazy, right? Home team has its privileges!

Last time I had a book signing in Reno was 2011, and since then I’ve released Cool Jerk Vol. 4: Thinkulus. So all of you completionists will certainly need to swing by my table to pick one up! Further, I’ll have all sorts of Cool Jerk effluvia you’d expect to see at a comic-con, such as Canvas Panels, t-shirts, sketchbooks, posters, buttons, stickers and my ever-grinnin’ mug. All items are going to be discounted so THIS IS DEFINITELY THE TIME TO SHOP! Nevada sales tax? I got your back— it’s all part of the price!

Click it to expand-a-size it!


Need some help getting there? Here’s a locator I whipped up while simultaneously placing an order at Port of Subs.

So bring your Christmas shopping list and some folding money (I also take credit cards) and come by the Cool Jerk outpost C-41 in Artists Alley, on the far right side of Hall 2. I expect to see a bunch of friendly, familiar faces… hope yours is one of them!

SHOW HOURS
Friday, Nov. 21: 3pm-8pm
Saturday, Nov. 22: 10am-7pm
Sunday, Nov. 23: 11am-5pm


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 31: “Willow Creek” (2014)

Not the sequel to "Willow" (1988).

I was duped.

Reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes made “Willow Creek” (2014) sound like the Citizen Kane of found-footage sasquatch movies. “‘Willow Creek?’ More like ‘Scary and the Hendersons!’” “From celebrated director Bobcat Goldthwait…” etc. Sounded like the perfect movie to wrap up DOCtoberFest 2014, so I rented it (Amazon) and watched it with Mrs. Doc Splatter and two Splatter Cadets James Not Jackson and Mrs. James Not Jackson.

It started out with some promise. A filmmaking boyfriend and his good-natured girlfriend drive up to Trinity National Forest and start interviewing locals in and around Willow Creek about the Patterson-Gimlin sasquatch film from 1967 and I’m such a bigfoot nerd/phobe that I didn’t even need to fact check any of this sentence. But if you’re looking for tense, edge-of-your-seat thrills and frights, you’re better off with “The Blair Witch Project.” Why? Because this scene wasn’t in “Blair Witch.”

For fuck's sake PLEASE LEAVE THE TENT AND INVESTIGATE!

Here’s Jim and Kelly listening to something outside their tent. Not very captivating, right? Well, amplify that by 20 MINUTES. That’s how long the four of us sat, watching them in their goddamned tent, in one long, unbroken shot. The Jackson cadets were imploring them to leave the tent and get killed by sasquatch TO PUT US OUT OF OUR MISERY.

Do we get a sasquatch attack? Not really. Do Jim and Kelly meet a grisly end? I think that’s implied. Will I ever go camping? Not on your life.

This movie had the potential for an A or a B+, but The Doc has to give it a D for lack of payoff and pissing off the entire audience. Available via Amazon rental.

This has been DOCtoberFest 2014. Thanks for reading, commenting and suggesting movies to watch. I hope you enjoyed yourself and hope you have a terrif* Halloween!

(*short for both “terrific” and “terrifying”).


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 30: “Carrie” (2013)

Adding to the pile of “needless and inferior remakes” goes “Carrie” (2013), starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie White and Julianne Moore as her über-religious nutbar of a mother.

As remakes go, this one brings high production values and CGI to the table, along with a decent role for Julianne Moore. That being said, the rest of the movie is a by-the-numbers remake of the 1976 classic, complete with topical elements like iPhones to make it “relevant and timely for Millennials and the era of cyberbullying.” That’s all well and good, but the remake remains inferior to the original in most every aspect. In fact, I decided to do a quick side-by-side comparison of the infamous prom scene:

Click it to live large

So many other reasons why this can’t hold a candle to the original, not the least of which is the original’s grand finale “arm grab” scene. You know the one I’m talking about— the one that made you cry for your mama.

The Doc gives the “Carrie” remake a D+. Available on Netflix among other places.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 29: “Night of the Demons” (2009)

You had me at "Monica Keena."

I think my stance on remakes should come to no surprise of even the most-casual reader of Doc Splatter’s movie reviews and Gore Score comics. Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” last year’s “Fright Night” and any number of movies with “Texas Chainsaw” or “Body Snatchers” in the title should serve as examples of needless wasting of resources and diminishing returns.

That being said, there are remakes that bring a little somethin’-somethin’ to the party: John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and even 1988’s “The Blob” all took 1950s drive-in thrillers, polished them up and made them all the better for it.

2009 (left) and 1988 (right)

I’m conflicted, because the “Night of the Demons” (2009) remake is both better and inferior to the classic 1988 splatterfest.

A quick primer for both movies: Goth hedonist Angela holds an epic Halloween party in a dilapidated mansion that serves as a portal for demons to possess the living and they pick off trapped partygoers one-by-one until the break of dawn and invariably there’s an awesome darkwave soundtrack, decent laughs, girl-on-girl makeouts, gruesome deaths and Suzanne shoves a lipstick into her boob (not a typo — trust me on that one).

One area where the remake succeeds over the original is the cast. Shannon Elizabeth (Angela) is joined by Monica Keena, Diora Baird, Edward Furlong and Bobbi Sue Luther. All are likable and bring something memorable and fun to the table; you actually kind of feel bad when they start to get their faces ripped off. In contrast, the original had only Linnea Quigley among a bunch of rookie actors and relative no-names.

On the other hand, the original had a certain charm about it, with its well-defined archetypes (the jock, the virgin, the tramp, the hood, the black dude, the cute couple, the bombastic jackass) and its sense of humor was complimented by its genuinely eerie and gory thrills.

While both have their share of good music (the original version uses one particular Bauhaus song to good effect), the remake’s soundtrack is second only to “The Return of the Living Dead” (1985).

Surprisingly decent, I would give it a recommendation and an A. Check it out on Hulu Plus.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 28: “Life After Beth” (2014)

I saw the trailer for “Life After Beth” (2014) earlier this year and thought it looked fun. I do heart me Aubrey Plaza, with her sanpaku eyes and her perpetual state of looking annoyed/disenfranchised, and figured she would be terrific in the role of a reanimated corpse. And I was right.

"I have to study for a test."

The gist: Beth Slocum dies on a solo nature hike and she’s mourned by her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) and her estranged boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) but a few days after her literal dirt nap, Beth is back, seemingly intact but maybe missing some recent memories. Not a big deal, except her folks have to keep her hidden from public. Because, you know, resurrected daughter. Zach and Beth get to spend some quality time saying and doing things Zach wish he had time for before Beth’s demise… which is really sweet and romantic and HEY WTF ISN’T THIS A ZOMBIE MOVIE OR WHAT??

Beth's downward spiral, seen here chained to her stove.

So yeah, things spiral out of control once Zach clues in Beth that she’s, well, dead. Not only does Beth begin to corrode physically and mentally but others start coming back from the dead. No one saw the “zombie apocalypse” coming… including me.

Zach tries to stop his brother from shooting Beth, who is still chained to the stove.

It’s surprisingly restrained on the gore, at least until the third reel. There are some really touching scenes, like Zach bonding with Mr. and Mrs. Slocum after Beth’s funeral, Mrs. Slocum feeding her own fingers to Beth because she’s a good mom, Zach’s final goodbye to Beth… good stuff. And the humor is pretty subtle and charming, too. “La-ven-derrrr”

Zach and Beth (plus her stove) finally take that hike together.

“Life After Beth” is the best rom-zom-com since 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead.” And before you argue that there haven’t been any rom-zom-coms since “Shaun of the Dead,” let me remind you of last year’s awful “Warm Bodies.”

Doc Splatter is pleased to give “Life After Beth” a hearty A+ and recommends it highly. Available for digital rental via Amazon and other vendors.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 27: “Fright Night” (2011)

(Click it to Brewster-size it!)


Not a review per se, but acknowledging “Fright Night” (2011) as another unnecessary remake of a classic. And hey, Internet research for panel 2!


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 26: “Teeth” (2007)

Recommended by Cider via Eva Halloween’s online playground The Year of Halloween, I ponied up $3.00 and rented “Teeth” (2007).

I was going to try to write this review in Latin. I got as far as vagina dentata because that’s the elevator pitch right there. Then I was going to say carpe diem, tempus fugit, caveat emptor and hakuna matata. Actually, some of these make sense in the context of a movie which features a chaste high-school girl whose *ahem* “rose has thorns,” which puts several mashers in the ER or morgue.

It's pretty much exactly what it looks like is going on.

I gotta tell you, except for the unbelievably awkward pelvic exam scene (above), it was a lot of fun to watch. It’s a coming-of-age teen drama with no shortage of gallows humor or mutilated man appendages. I think it would pair nicely with “Pitch Perfect” for some reason. Great production values yet low budget (all the effects looked practical, except the suspicious CGI twin cooling towers looming in the background of this small Texas town), fine acting, convincing portrayals of terror, guilt and OMIGOD YOUR JUNK JUST ATE MY JUNK!

And wait ’til you see what Mother does.

Bravo for making this the squirmiest gynecological body-horror show since David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers” (1988). The Doc gives it an A. Available as an online rental via Amazon Prime.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 25: “The Taking of Deborah Logan” (2014)

This one comes to Doc Splatter with a glowing recommendation from Splatter Intern James Not Jackson, so I fired up the Netflix and here’s what I got.

From the onset, “The Taking of Deborah Logan” (2014) looks like another mockumentary/found footage thrillride, but it has two massive faults that seem to plague this genre.

Why, gramma — what SATANIC EYES you have!

First, if you want to trick the audience into thinking this is an Alzheimer’s documentary but then you switch gears and turn it into SURPRISE! a demonic possession movie, maybe tone down the LOOK AT THE OLD LADY POSSESSED BY SATAN movie poster. Just a suggestion.

Why, gramma — what an ANATOMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE, UNHINGED SNAKE JAW you have

Second, in “found footage,” you don’t get to add scary music when you see a shadowy or out-of-focus figure duck out of screen. When you take an iPhone video of a friend walking into a closed door, you don’t hear “wop-waaa” (sad trombone). No. You hear “thud” and maybe an epithet or two. That’s all. Leaving out music or “BEY-OOON!” scary sounds in “found footage” is not only necessary but it’s mandatory. Tsk, tsk.

Those two massive disappointments aside, this is plenty creepy and actually has a modest body count of maybe 2-3 people. Jill Larson did a great job as the title character, at times both heartbreaking (if you know someone with Alzheimer’s) and unapologetically twisted. They did bad math on keeping track of the days that had gone by, but that’s just me being anal retentive.

I’m giving Debby Logan a B+. You can check it out on your neighbor’s Netflix account.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 24: “Infection” (2010)

You know how sometimes the trailer is like a thousand times better than the movie? Like “Prometheus?” Remember the tense feeling you got in your chest during the trailer? Then when you actually saw it, it was like finding a dog turd made its way to the floormat of your car even though you were really careful at the dog park and made sure to look everywhere you stepped but it had either rained or the sprinklers were on overnight and there was a lot of mud and you still tried to stay on the grassy areas?

Like that.

Well, how about when the movie poster is a thousand times better than the movie?

That’s “Infection” (2010). In fact, I don’t know if it has a movie poster! This image is from the DVD packaging.

For this movie, I confess I started to watch it, but by the end of the opening credits I had mentally checked out. BUT instead, I whipped through the whole movie in like 2 minutes by dragging the fast forward bar on my iPad. And here’s what I saw:

Woman in a Smart car visits an old lady who is very clearly a young blond actress in laughable old-lady makeup who seems to retell a tale of the distant past (now) where she was a waitress and there’s a small-town cop and a tough guy and mysterious circumstances and some bad lighting and a couple people having seizures and a stereotypical nerdy science guy and it looks like only the blond, the tough and the nerd can save the town from I don’t know parasites? and then there’s a posse to get the parasites and it ends with some of the worst special effects ever and if you think I’m joking just trust me on that and then we zoom to the future because “old” blond actress is done with her story and oh my god I can’t believe I wasted all this time on this piece of shit I’m calling it an F and getting on with my day.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 23: “The Fourth Kind” (2009)

For my review of extra-terrestrial thrill ride “The Fourth Kind” (2009), I’m doing it all in memes.


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