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Saturday, May 09th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

So, let’s recap where we were on the last episode. I’m old, getting older. A lot has changed in the world of fandom between the pre and post internet ages. Our circles of like minded friends have grown considerably and the art of word of mouth has gone from in depth discussions in somebody’s basement before, during and between movies to shouting on message boards while you’re taking your morning constitutional.

It’s a big big world out there, and now the entire thing is at our fingertips. Including the very movies we love to watch.

My experience in geeking out on horror movies started out much like many many other people. I didn’t have cable growing up; it didn’t come far enough down the road. We had three major network channels and two PBS channels. That was about it. Thankfully, VCR’s hit popularity fairly early on in my youth, so I was saved by that.

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Thursday, May 07th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’m totally aware that I spend a lot of time on various podcasts and such whining about how I’m getting old. Truth is, I don’t really care about getting old. I also don’t actually think I’m ‘Old’. It’s just a fun thing to get worked up over. However, as I do grow older, I’ve come to notice some significant changes in the world of ‘fandom’ or ‘geekdom’, or which ever label you’d like to slap on those of us who get into…well, anything…a bit more than others.

As my body has aged since I first started losing myself in the world of movies in the early 80′s, so too has technology aged significantly over the same number of years. One could say that technology has aged a bit more gracefully than myself, but…let’s look beyond that. Where somewhere in the vicinity of 1980 I watched films such as Stars Wars and The Black Hole hundreds of times because that was the only VHS tapes that were on hand, now days I find myself often times crippled by sheer choice. Where once catching a rare film was a unique event in the development of one’s personal pop culture, these days said rare films can be found in a matter of minutes.

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Wednesday, May 06th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

I know, I know, we’ve always been told to never judge a book by its cover. But, I can’t help myself. Sometimes, I make judgments based solely on a cover. This is a holdover of my youth, the heyday of the VHS rental store where I’d stand and study box art by the hour, if my parents would let me.

In the modern age, Netflix Instant Watch has come pretty close to replacing that nostalgic tradition of when I stood in the shadows of the horror section trying to make up my mind what I was going to watch next. The service is packed with titles. It’s filled with colorful cover art and broken into handy categories, sub categories and more. Let’s face it; we’ve all had those evenings where we planned to sit and watch something and spent the next forty five minutes just scrolling through the service to see what’s out there. The only thing missing is bad lighting and the smell of musty cardboard and stale popcorn.

That’s all a long winded way to say, sometimes when I sit down and start flipping through Netflix, I feel like a kid again. Eager to watch something new, something I may not have considered watching before. This typically leads to being mesmerized by all the pretty cover art. Which sometimes leads me to making the decision on what I’m going to watch, based solely on the cover art. Which is how I found myself sitting down and watching Preservation.

Released in early 2015, Preservation is a try to be smart thriller mixed with a healthy dose of revenge flick. Written and directed by Christopher Denham, the film has great aspirations in its story telling, but sadly feels a bit like two distinct stories mixed together. The challenging part is that both of these halves feel distinctly different in quality and storytelling. With the fact that the solid and more engaging part of the story fills the second half of the film, we are left with a bit of a chore in the first half of the film.

Sean, recently ousted from the military, is heading off for a hunting trip with his brother Mike and his new wife Wit. The setup is easy enough; the boys used to come to these woods as kids. Mike had originally planned on making the trip with Wit, but soon Sean shows up out of the blue and essentially invites himself along.

The first half of our film focuses on these three characters and their forced awkwardness, which leads to our first hurdle to get past. While none of the performances are particularly bad, neither are they overly convincing in their plight. There’s a secret Wit is keeping from Mike. There is Sean’s mysterious exit from the military. There is the forced awkwardness between these three as Sean meets his new sister in law for the first time and more. None of these traits come across in a fashion that leads the viewer to becoming emotionally invested in their tension. Instead, we’re left on the side lines waiting for these to finish having these uncomfortable little moments.

Thankfully, this problematic pace only lasts for the first thirty minutes or so of the show as soon, the trio wakes up and finds out somebody has been in their camp and stolen their gear. This is when we are introduced to the faceless antagonist trio that simultaneously ups the tempo of the film, but also brings the strong female character of Wit to the surface. People are hunted, revenge is sought and ultimately, the rest of the film plays out like your standard Strangers clone, in the woods.

The movie packs a surprising amount of violence for the initial setup. While it isn’t overly graphic, there will be scenes that leave you cringing from time to time. The biggest surprise though, is that after being forced to try and connect emotionally with these characters, we have a hard time continuing to be invested as the carnage starts. It’s Wit’s turn from a character you’re mostly overlooking, to one filled with conviction and one you can begin to empathize with that makes the second half of the film such a treat.

In the end, Preservation isn’t going to win any awards for originality. It’s not going to win any awards for mind blowing story telling. It will treat you to a fairly entertaining way to blow an hour and a half on a slow night though, which makes it a worthy add to your Netflix queue.

Plus, that cover is pretty great.

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Monday, May 04th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

So, here we are on May the 4th, Star Wars day for those that are officially inclined. Star Wars played an important role in my growing up to be a big fan of science fiction and fantasy, movies, comics and more. It took hold of me at a young age and never really did let up.

Since it’s a special day, I figured it might be a good day to let some info slip on a top secret writing project that I’ve been working on over the last year or so. It’s important to me, not sure if it will be important to you readers, but you never know until you try, right? I won’t be releasing any specific details of this project here today, but take my word for it…some time later this year, or early next, you may be reading yourself a little book by the title of “My Life as a Teenage Geek, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cinema Fromage” and finding out what leads a middle aged man to right and talk passionately about his favorite geeky films.

Here today, is chapter two of my soon to be book. (Memoir? Autobiography? I don’t know, that all sounds a little heady.) It explains what Star Wars means to me, so I hope you enjoy! Even if you don’t, May the 4th be With You!


In 1977, I had just turned 3. I remember nothing of this time of course, but I’m told my love of film had started roughly around this time. That year, a movie that would set in motion my love of science fiction, storytelling and genre fiction was thrust upon the public. George Lucas released Star Wars and the nerd populace was forever changed.

What does this have to do with a the story of a horror blogger and podcaster, one who wasn’t old enough to remember a cohesive memory of the time? I’m told I was there. I’m told I was there on opening night, waiting in line outside the theater, taken by mother.

While my mother was only tangentially interested in the science fiction opus, she knew at the tender age of three, I would be enthralled by the fantasy world filled with action, aliens and galactic menace. While my parents may not have the same passion for things like movies and books that I have today, Mom knew early on that it was something that would suck me in and take hold.

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Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

A few days ago, the Internet erupted with speculation and reactions to a Hugh Jackman Instagram post in which he displayed his fists with Wolverine’s famous claws sticking out of one hand. The caption for the photo read “WOLVERINE… ONE LAST TIME. HJ,” naturally causing many to assume that the actor would be sheathing his claws, so to speak, and wrapping up his long-held role of X-Men figurehead Wolverine. Indeed, soon after the post went up, numerous sources confirmed this assumption: Hugh Jackman will play Wolverine in a sequel to “The Wolverine” in 2017, and thereafter be done with the role he’s held since 2000.

So what will we make of the longest-tenured Hollywood superhero when all’s said and done? To some extent, that will depend on the finale. Presumably, Wolverine will make at least a small appearance in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” coming in 2016, but the sequel to “The Wolverine” will really be an important last act. That’s particularly true considering the 2013 film received good, but not great reviews. In the meantime, however, a look back at the last 15 years reveals some pretty amazing work by Jackman.

For starters, he actually appeared in every single movie in the extensive X-Men franchise, according to the X-Men Wiki (and confirmed if you bother sifting through IMDB). That may sound obvious, but when you consider that X-Men movies have covered different timelines, entire groups of new characters, and a Wolverine spinoff that seemed to take the character in its own direction, it’s pretty remarkable that he was needed in every movie (even if his appearance in “X-Men: First Class” consists of only two choice words in an amusing cameo). All in all, that’s nine movies thus far, with two more to go, making Hugh Jackman far and away the most exposed superhero of the modern era, despite the popularity of characters like Spider-Man or The Avengers.

In the process, Jackman helped to reinforce Wolverine’s place as the single face of the extensive X-Men family of heroes. And that was never a guarantee. Consider The Avengers, for whom Captain America is (from a comic book perspective) supposed to be the lead protagonist. Well, as it happens, Robert Downey, Jr. is a bigger box office draw than Chris Evans, and the Iron Man movies are more popular than the Captain America ones. The result is that in the film, Iron Man has become the de facto face of The Avengers. The same could have happened with the X-Men, with big names like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, and even Jennifer Lawrence having been attached through the years.

And yet, Wolverine is still the face, and this fact is perhaps most evident in the video games industry. Just as the famous yellow-and-dark blue costuming of Wolverine from the comics (largely abandoned in the modern movies) is an iconic image on early arcade games, Jackman’s likeness has dominated modern X-Men games. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” was arguably the worst movie in the franchise, and yet its game, featuring Jackman’s voice and likeness, got an aggregated 4/5 score at Metacritic. Meanwhile, the Betfair gaming platform features a number of different X-Men and Wolverine-related games, and Jackman’s image is there right alongside the cartoon version of Wolverine. In games featuring numerous X-Men, which generally take the place of icons on slot machine wheels, Jackman is front-and-center.

There’s also an argument to be made that Hugh Jackman gave us the purest form of a superhero in that he actually pulls off the reluctance associated with it. Generally speaking, popular superheroes are tortured individuals. With the possible exception of Iron Man, they fight evil because no one else can. After all, with great power comes great responsibility. And yet, most of them are also pulled back to it internally. Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne needs Batman to feel whole. Peter Parker needs Spider-Man to be someone who matters. Bruce Banner hates the Hulk, but the Hulk loves smashing things. Every hero feels the pull… except for Jackman’s Wolverine. This is a character who would genuinely prefer holing up in some bar in Australia getting drunk and being gruff. He rolls his eyes, complains, argues, and basically kicks and screams when he’s dragged into superhero duty. In a way, it makes him the most unique of the bunch.

As for the comparison to Batman—the hero perhaps most like Wolverine in his reluctance to keep fighting the good fight—Jackman, for his part, doesn’t see them on the same level. Quoted by Comicbook.com, he jokingly addressed the idea of a Wolverine vs. Batman film by saying it’d have to be a short, because Batman wouldn’t stand a chance!

All in all, it’s safe to say we’ll miss Jackman’s Wolverine.

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Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell

There once was a song, I’m sure you’re all familiar with it. The verse went something like, “What once was lost, now is found.” Such is my life as a fan of film. The once was, a man who loved to explore the filmscape in search of random treasures, treading through the mire of filth that once happens upon in such a search, and enjoying every smelly kernel of the trip. That film fan was lost though. He became swamped, overwhelmed with the act of keeping up and worrying about things he shouldn’t, such of fans and stats. Said man took a hiatus; he left to find himself, to locate that fan that once lay within him that he celebrated daily. The hunt took some time, but that film fan of old, now is found. The film fan stumbled upon a time where he could once again sit and enjoy a movie because the poster looked cool, of the cast impressive. He apologized to his circle of friends, hoped they would welcome him back and maybe he settled back in, things would go back to the way they once were. Let’s hope the reunion goes better for our intrepid film fan than it did for Yul Perkins in “Hit & Run”.

In my time away, I’d seen trailers for “Hit & Run”. It looked weird; I mean, it featured Bradley Cooper in White Man Dreads! That’s certainly an attention grabber. It also had a cast that caught my eye. I’ve long been fan of Kristen Bell since her days on “Veronica Mars” and Dax Sheppard’s always been hilarious. Knowing that they are real life ‘life partners’ as well, the idea of them working together on screen was a draw. The plot seemed odd enough to be something different, Dax Sheppard plays a former getaway driver who is in witness protection after ratting out is former gang, then falls in love with Kristen Bell in is newly adopted town. Her job situation lands her an interview in L.A., the very town that Dax is sworn to stay out of for his own safety. Thankfully, the contrived setup and stellar supporting cast combined to make a road movie that was at the same time hilarious, rather engrossing and a bit action packed. Really, it all fit together to make a really good story.

As I said, I’ve always found Dax Sheppard to be a solid actor. He’s proven his comedy chops in flicks like “Idiocracy” and he’s proven his more dramatic side on TV’s “Parenthood”. Here in “Hit & Run” he manages to put together a solid character that has a few facets to it. You know he’s done something wrong, yet you still find yourself cheering for him throughout the film. At times, you feel sorry for him and at others, you’re confident he’s going to win the day. He makes a character that’s easy for we the viewers to connect with, which is essential for this type of film. Kristen Bell plays well off of Sheppard. She’s sweet and innocent and you can understand where her frustrations come from when they arrive. You’re engaged throughout her and Sheppard’s ups and downs. Despite Bell’s solid performance though, you find yourself sticking with the film for Sheppard. Seeing as he directed the film, in addition to starring in it, it’s nice to see him stand out so well.

While the main plot of “Hit and Run” was its solid and true story telling, what made this movie so enjoyable for me was the supporting cast. With out this crew, the hilarity of the movie would not rank so high. Tom Arnold, believe it or not, is a scene stealer. His moments are all over the top, but honestly, what would you expect from Tom? Watching him ghost ride his mini van while discharging his fire arm was enough to bring out some loud laughter. When you find out after this fact that he’s actually a US Marshall? Even better. There are some other stalwarts that show up here, such as Kristen Chenowith and Sean Hayes, all of which are great in the short scenes they show up for, helping to round out the movie quite well. Seeing Bradley Cooper play against his stereo type was a nice change. Though his performance was nothing particularly mind blowing, it was a nice change from Mr. Hunky Leading man.

In the end? “Hit & Run” was easy to dismiss form the trailers alone, and I don’t think it fared very well in the box office. The marketing push was short, so I’m not surprised if most readers hear about it and say, “Oh, I remember that flick, Bradley Cooper in dreads…” Thanks to Neflix streaming though, you can go back and give it a watch and I think you’ll find it well worth your time.

So for now, your long lost film blogger bids you a fond adieu. He can’t really say if he’s back full time, or even regularly. He can say that he’s starting to feel his oats once again and that the time away has done him well. The landscape of movie geekdom looks mysterious and new once again, instead of stale and frustrating as it once was. If you’re feeling froggy, he’ll be happy to have your company on the journey once again.

Monday, August 12th, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve decided to play around with making some game video casts. Not sure where the idea’s going yet, but I figure why not! I play a lot of video games and I make a lot of podcasts…it all seems pretty logical! This first game, Super House of Dead Ninja’s is a lot of fun and I talked about it here on CF last week, so I figured it would make a good test subject to see if I had all the ins and outs of Fraps figured out!

More to come? Probably! I still don’t have a name or anything picked out and as of yet, I don’t even know if I’ll post them at BGH or Cinema Fromage, so stay tuned. You can always find out what’s going on with them on twitter by checking me out @CaseyBGH or on Steam http://steamcommunity.com/id/CinemaFromage/.

Find the free version of SHoDN at Adult Swim Games: http://games.adultswim.com/super-house-of-dead-ninjas-action-online-game.html

Find out more on Megadev and their Projects: http://megadev.tumblr.com/

Find SHoDN on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/224820/

Coming up Next: The Swapper

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 | Author: Casey Criswell

This week, my health coach was out and had to miss our last group meeting for this session. In her stead, I was told I’d be running the group in her absence! (Note that I wasn’t asked!) Everybody expected me to talk about running, but I went a different direction and decided to spend today’s meeting sharing the various sites and apps that I’ve used along my journey! So, I figured I’d go ahead and share that list here for you all as well!

Enjoy!

Learn to Run:
Couch to 5K – http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml
Zombies Run 5k Training – https://www.zombiesrungame.com/
Hal Higdon Training Plans – http://www.halhigdon.com/training/
GPS Tracking:
Run Keeper – http://www.runkeeper.com
Endomondo – http://www.endomondo.com
Nike+ – http://www.nikeplus.com
Strava – http://www.strava.com/
Exercise Tracking:
Fitocracy – http://www.fitocracy.com
JeFit – http://www.jefit.com/
Google Docs – http://docs.google.com
Exercise Training:
EXRX.net – http://exrx.net/
Livestrong.com – http://www.livestrong.com
Starting Strength Wiki – http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ:The_Lifts
Brain Over Brawn – http://brainoverbrawn.com/ (body weight exercises)
Stumptuous – http://www.stumptuous.com/workout-6 (Female Centric fitness blog, good dumbbell program)
Entertainment:
Spotify – http://www.spotify.com
Pandora – http://www.pandora.com
Audible – http://www.audible.com
Jog.fm – http://www.jog.fm
Calorie and Weight Tracking:
My Fitness Pal – http://www.myfitnesspal.com
Physics Diet – http://www.physicsdiet.com
Sparkpeople – http://www.sparkpeople.com/
The Daily Plate – http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/
Recipes and Food Info:
Nutritionix – http://www.nutritionix.com/
Sparkpeople – http://www.sparkpeople.com/

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Monday, June 25th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

It took a long time, but I’m finally getting back to watching movies for watching movies sake. To some extent though, this return to movie watching tends to be dependent on whatever is on Cinemax or HBO while I’m playing Diablo 3! I’ll be damned if I can stop long enough to change the channel!

But seriously though, it feels good to get back to watching movies simply for the sake of it being fun to watch movies. This weekend found me with some extra time, so I indulged quite a bit.

First up….


Abraham Lincon: Vampire Hunter

For a more indepth review on this one, you’ll have to be sure to check in to the upcomng Bloody Good Horror Podcast. For our purposed here, I’ll just go ahead and say: I enjoyed the hell out of it! In fact, my comment to Colleen afterward was; “that was dumb as hell, but by god I loved it!”

Let’s be fair here: The premise is down right zany. The book was pretty zany too, although quite enjoyable. To expect anything less that zany in the movie version is just setting yourself up for disappointment. The crazy wire fu antics an over the top action scenes are this flick’s bread and butter. The story is secondary, yet still fun. For those of you coming from the book, this story is fairly different. Overall it is very condensed chopping out a good portion of the middle such as the Speed family and Abe’s rise through politics. It still hits the major points though! The ending however, is fairly different. Still, good fun all the same.

Safe House

BEEFCAKE! Er…Denzel and Ryan Reynolds. The commercials for “Safe House” pretty much spell everything out for you; there’s reall no big mystery going on here. For an action/spy flick, this one’s pretty by the numbers. However, Denzel is star caliber and Reynolds is getting there, so the acting makes this pretty watchable. The action sequences are pretty rote as are the twists but…it’s engaging. That’s really all I can say. Denzel’s Tobin Frost character is a good one and Reynold’s green behind the ears CIA agent is pretty solid as well.

That said, I can honestly say that I’m glad that I waited for video on this one (read: Screeners!) as opposed to shelling out ticket $$ for it when it was at the theaters. It was pretty good; not really $12 good though.

Project X

This flick promised a lot with it’s trailers. The crazy party, hints of some truly out of this world events taking place at said party, yadda yadda. Being a fan of the handheld trope when done right, I figured this would be worth a shot since that was the main gimmick they were going for. In a lot of ways, this worked in “Project X”; it had some really solid moments and some cool stuff going on from time to time. None of it really turned out to be mind blowing though. In the end, I sat through this expecting something outrageous to happen but instead I was given….”Animal House” as shot by handhelds. This still makes for some good laughs and a decent flick but it was just somewhat anticlamtic by the time it was all said and done.

The characters were are main driving force in this one and really, “Thomas” and “JB” did a pretty decent job. I’d have to say “Costa” did a decent job too, but if I was Thomas, Costa would have been murdered pretty early on. Then again, that just means that the kid play Costa was doing his job right!

All in all? I’d watch it again.

American Psycho

I watched about half of a lot of movies while playing Diablo 3, but most of them I’d glance over at pay attention to for 10-15 mintues at a time. It shows the power of this classic that I actually pushed the keyboard and mouse away and sat and watched “American Psycho” through to the end. Especially considering I’ve seen it three or four times already!

There’s much to say that hasn’t been said before about “American Psycho”. Christian Bale was simply fantastic at the role and there’s not much arguing it. I can say that having read the book in the time since my last viewing, it was pretty cool to see how well they did adapting it to a film. There’s a lot of idiosyncracies that were spelled out in internal monologues in the novel that actually translated well to the big screen. My first viewing, I’m not so sure I caught all of the subtleties, but they definitely stood out post read.

And finally….

True Blood 5×3: Whatever I Am, You Made Me

This season still can’t make up it’s mind if it’s going to be any good or not. All I can say is that so far, it’s better than Season 4. Man, they’re getting a bit long winded in parts though. Then again, I’m biased. I can ‘t freaking stand Tara and I’m still pissy that they didn’t keep her dead after Season 4. I honestly don’t know home much more I can take.

On the plus side? The Pam history lessons are fantastic! (As is the Pam.)

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Monday, June 04th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve not heard of Branded until I stumbled across this trailer on Google +. At first blush, it looks pretty fantastic though! You could say it looks like it was here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and it’s all out of bubble gum.

Okay, that was cheesy. But…you can’t deny that this looks like the spiritual successor to “They Live” from this trailer! Subliminal commands, some kind of weird alien stuff going on under the ‘surface’. All in all, this really strikes a chord with my inner dystopian sci-fi geek! Casting Max von Sydow is just icing on the freaking cake, man.