Freakazoid! A Lesson in Internet History

Way way back in the 1990s, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created a cartoon about a superhero. No, not that one. In contrast to the Caped Crusader’s brooding pathos, this was to be an off-the-wall comedy. While Timm and Dini wanted a straight superhero show, Steven Spielberg—coming off the success of Warner Brothers’ Animaniacs—wanted another comedy. Thus was born Freakazoid!

Birth of the Cool: An Appreciation for the Cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville

With the birth of the gangster genre during the early part of the twentieth century, the figure of the gangster protagonist has suffered the same fate in countless pictures, good and bad: to die an ignominious death or be locked up forever removed from society’s purview, yet even though the template for the gangster genre hasn’t changed since the time of Griffith. The genre’s adoption and re-appropriation by filmmakers from all over the world has led to several unique strains of the gangster archetype. Whereas the American gangster follows a rise-and-fall narrative, usually employing an immigrant or minority protagonist, the Japanese yakuza is torn between the contradictory values of duty and personal loyalty, while the Gallic version of the gangster archetype was a blend of American genre tropes and existentialist angst. Our French cousins injected Camus and Sartre into characters that wouldn’t be too far off from the early Warner Bros. gangster pictures of the 1930’s. And while there have been many contributors to the Gallic strain of crime pictures the most important of these is French auteur Jean-Pierre Melville. A man that not only dabbled in making gangster pictures he invented the image of the hip, cool, laconic gangster. An image appropriated by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, John Woo, Wong Kar-Wai, Johnnie To, and Jim Jarmusch.

Habit Forming, Mind Controlling, Life Absorbing: The Films of Larry Cohen on VRV!

Larry Cohen is a genre unto himself. A movie is no longer horror, comedy, action, or thriller when Larry Cohen is involved, it’s simply a Larry Cohen film. Who is Larry Cohen? Why do I insist on writing “Larry Cohen” over and over?

Larry Cohen is a writer. Larry Cohen is a producer. Larry Cohen is a director. Often, but not always, Larry Cohen is all three at once. Starting out in television in the early 1960s, he created The Invaders, Branded, and Coronet Blue (which heavily inspired The Bourne Identity), while simultaneously cranking out scripts for the top shows of the era, such as The Defenders and The Fugitive. In 1972 he made his directorial debut with Bone aka Dial Rat for Terror, a scorching racial satire about a black thief/rapist invading the home of an upper-class white family in Beverly Hills. It also contains a scene where someone slips on a banana peel.

How Shows Like HarmonQuest Lure in Role-Playing Newbies

It feels weird to type this, but in 2018 I’m almost ashamed to say I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons. I’d go as far as to say I’ve never played any form of tabletop role-playing game, but I ended up joining a one-night session of Dungeon World a little over a year ago. How did I get there, though? By listening to every episode of The Adventure Zone, binging HarmonQuest, and dipping my nerdy toes into similar shows like Critical Role, of course! It was just the start of a ride I never expected to take and my first introduction to a world in which I never thought I would be remotely interested.

That’s right, no matter how nerdy your interests may seem now, rest assured: There’s always room for more. The winning formula behind this irresistible pull is surprisingly simple, so go ahead and place those Amazon orders for 100pc translucent dice sets before digging in further.

My Anime Dad Can Beat Up Your Anime Dad!

This Sunday is Fathers’ Day, and in the great tradition of the schoolyard Badass Boast, I asked a few of my friends to tell me their favorite anime dads. Anime has no shortage of fathers and father figures to draw upon, and their picks run the gamut from the classic to the modern.

But before we get to them, a few clarifications. First, I have a very expansive definition of “dad.” You don’t have to be a literal parent to be one, or a dude. Ladies is dads too. Second, this isn’t a literal contest in the vein of “who would win in a fight, Goku or Superman?” It’s more a sampling of the favorite father figures of a few of my friends. No blood drawn, just an intellectual conversation between anime lovers.

So, without further ado, I present a selection of the Best Anime Dads.

How an ’80s Sci-Fi Movie Changed the Destiny of Anime Forever

Rainy, cloud covered grey skies, towering skyscrapers, neon lights, muted colors and a dim prognostication of our future: if this type of imagery brings to mind certain anime titles, you may be surprised to learn that many of them share a unlikely common origin. While not the only film to ever influence anime, and certainly not the only sci-fi film to do so, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shares an inordinate amount of importance in developing many of the anime classics we know today, and influencing many of anime’s biggest directors.

Midnight Void – Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou

Canada: a country best known for its free Medicare, hunky Prime Minister, maple syrup porn, and, during the ’70s and ’80s, a much-abused film industry tax incentive program that sent The Great White North spiraling into a little place we like to call… The Midnight Void.

Dracula Cage Match!

Start unpacking the decorations and stocking up on candy—because folks, there are less than five months to Halloween.

As we approach the spook season, one’s thoughts turn naturally to the creatures of the night. The mind ruminates on Frankensteins, goblins, killer tomatoes, and so on. But on what does it linger? Only the most sinister, mysterious, and alluring of monsters: Count Dracula.

Second Look, Second Chances: Repo! The Genetic Opera

Did you know that over a dozen films come out every year? That means that even if you saw a movie a month, you wouldn’t see them all. And it only gets worse when you consider that movies have been around for exactly fifty years, which means there’s another 600 movies to catch up on! Now that’s a lotta movies, film buffs!

With that many motion pictures, some are bound to fall through the cracks and fail to achieve the kinds of success their creators dreamed of. Today I’d like to revisit one of those movies. So come with me on a journey through time to a land I call 2008.

Why Do Anime Characters Sweat So Much?

Anime is a visual medium, but have you ever stopped to really think about what that means? One way to think about it is that anime has the ability to use the things we see to give us information we might not get otherwise. For example, since we don’t always get to know what’s going on inside the heads of the characters we watch on screen, anime can use visual cues to help us understand the emotions they might be feeling. Some of these are obvious, like blushing, but others – like a red hash mark or the almost ubiquitous sweat drop – aren’t always so clear.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at the aforementioned sweat drop and figuring out what it could possibly mean for anime characters to be sweating all the time!

So Your Child Has Been Possessed: The VRV Guide to Possessed Children in Film

Kids are the worst: they’re shrill, dangerously uncoordinated, easily bored, and don’t always poop in the toilet. So who has the patience to deal with one that’s been possessed? Certainly not you, that’s for sure. Thankfully we at VRV are the leading experts in the field of possessed children, and are here to guide you through — or even help you avoid — the often trying predicament that is your already horrible kid being possessed.

Okay, so legal has just informed me that I’m required to share the following:

VRV, VRVBLOG, and its parent company Ellation Inc holds no expertise or authority, nor provides any services in the fields of possession, children, or possessed children. We do, however, have several programs featuring possessed children available for you to stream with your Premium subscription.

Sagas of Sundry and the Art of a Perfect D&D Setup

So, real talk. When it’s gaming night, it’s about more than having good dice — we want our setup to be awesome. We decorate the table to suit the campaign, we pick drinkware reminiscent of everyone’s characters, and we’ll put together a playlist that fits the evening’s adventure. We may even show up with costumes or accessories if we’re feeling extra fancy.

Sadly, no matter how hard you go, your ambiance will never top what Ivan Van Norman has in store for his players. The Geek & Sundry host has gone to insane lengths to make his campaigns as immersive as possible… and it’s giving us a serious case of Gamer Envy.

How does he do it? It’s a crazy combination of high-end sets and pared-down rules that makes for the truly tense adventure known as Sagas of Sundry.

Petty Villainy : Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

When one thinks of Indian cinema, one’s thoughts may conjure images of Bollywood dance sequences or deep introspective art films by the likes of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. This perception is highly reductive — the country is replete with profitable and popular regional film industries: Bollywood, Bengali cinema, the Tamil film industry (Kollywood), Punjab films (Pollywood), the Malayalam movie industry, etc., etc.  Of course, Bollywood is still king, yet by the early 2000’s as technology made cameras ever smaller a renaissance in the indie film scene began.

What Do I Know About… Lupin the 3rd?

Well friends, it’s that special time of the month again—the time when I take a look at an anime I’ve never seen before, try to guess what it’s about, and then write about it.

Just like last time, I gave Twitter three choices. And while in the first installment of this feature I easily guessed what the outcome was going to be in advance, this time I was pretty surprised! Sorry, DARLING in the FRANXX, maybe next time.

The (Stephen) Kings of Horror Anthologies

Horror anthologies hold a special place in my heart. They’re rarely perfect; sometimes they’re almost uniformly messy from beginning to end. Yet there’s something unique beating proudly within them all. There’s a true love for horror and the understanding that even the most bite-sized of thrillrides can be incredibly effective in its allotted time. Still, it takes a certain level of skill to get them right, so it should come as no surprise that some of the best out there involve the handiwork of one of the longstanding masters of the genre: Stephen King.

Whether you’ve watched them a million times or never seen ’em in your life, there’s nothing quite like blowing the dust off a classic anthology or two. If you have a hankering for a couple multi-course meals of the macabre, I now present the agonizing wails of Cat’s Eye and Creepshow for your approval.

Midnight Void: Raw Force

Never trust brochures. Don’t open them, and if you do open one, don’t read it. If you see one lying in the street, just leave it there to be run over. Why this hatred and distrust of brochures? Let me tell you about Mike from the Burbank Karate Club. He read the brochure for this place called Warrior’s Island, which claimed to be where “monks raise dead martial artists from the grave.” What the brochure failed to add is that the only reason these monks have this power is because they lock nude women up in bamboo cages, slather them in BBQ sauce, and eat them. It also neglected to mention that the women come from a man with a Hitler mustache who sells them in exchange for wicker baskets full of “uncut, AA-grade” jade.

But back to Mike and how his belief in brochures ensnared him and his fellow karate clubmates in a web of cannibalism, kung fu, and kung fu zombies. It’s a story for the ages. A story depicted in the film Raw Force, one that could only exist here, in the Midnight Void…

Bringing the Drama: What’s New About the New “Boys Over Flowers”?

Boys Over Flowers is a contemporary shoujo classing for fans of both manga and anime. It’s such a fan favorite, in fact, that there have been five live-action series based on it! The most recent, from 2009, hails from South Korea and features all the same characters you’ve come to know and love from the original series and all its iterations.

But just how close does the K-drama come to the original? Surprisingly close… with a dash of surprisingly different.