Fitzpatrix

My Bizarre Adventures

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Star Wars: Up Is Hell

We’re a month away from a new Star Wars film that’s apparently so incredible, Lucasfilm is giving director Rian Johnson his own personal Star Wars trilogy to play around with. With hype for the eighth installment of the Skywalker saga at a fever pitch, whet your space opera appetite with a series featuring some of the strangest films inspired by George Lucas’s opus. First on deck is the 1985 animated feature Starchaser: The Legend of Orin.

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Look familiar?

Directed by Steven Hahn and written by Jeffrey Scott (Superfriends, Muppet Babies), Starchaser is essentially the store-brand equivalent of the original Star Wars trilogy, the Sam’s Choice to the OT’s Pepsi. To wit, here’s a tale of a brave but reckless young worker who discovers a magical sword that once belonged to a band of warriors. With the aid of an arrogant outlaw, the courageous daughter of a ruler, and a pair of bickering machines, the young man comes of age and fights a cybernetic warlord. It’s not just the basic story either. Certain shots, set-pieces and even sound effects have been pilfered, almost verbatim, from the classic trilogy (pay close attention to the sounds of the titular starship’s engines as it flies by the camera).

On the plus side, the movie looks good. The animation is fluid and highly expressive in a Rock & Rule/Heavy Metal sort of way and the overall art design, though conventional, shows a good deal of skill and pulp sci-fi influence. By far, the most intriguing designs belong to the flesh-harvesting Man-Droids, who look appropriately nightmarish in their only appearance in the film. For that matter, there are times where Starchaser feels more like a family friendly Heavy Metal, especially in scenes involving Dagg Dibrimi (Carmen Argenziano), the amoral space pirate who could give Captain Sternn a run for his money in the sleaze department. The film seems to find its real voice when it drifts away from its routine nature-versus-technology plot and into these crasser moments.

On balance, Starchaser holds up fairly well. It’s incredibly simple but its infectious zeal and breathless momentum keep it from getting boring. Don’t let the somewhat derivative story keep you away from checking out this visually appealing animated space opera.

Credit: The Popcorn Drop

“Righteous thoughts are my secret. And New Orleans home cooking”

Thanks for the inspiration, Fats.

Credit: TV zoals het vroeger was

“If we’re going to be damned…”

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They said it wouldn’t last (and if you’ve seen some of the first season episodes, you’d believe that sentiment). They said it couldn’t overshadow its predecessor (even though some of the same creators that worked on the original series were involved in the production). Despite the fuss from certain hardcore fans and the somewhat lukewarm critical response, when Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted on this date in 1987 with the episode “Encounter at Farpoint”, it was an instant ratings smash that not only introduced a crop of new fans to the Star Trek phenomenon, but also gave longtime Trekkies new stories and characters to enjoy…or, at least during the first couple of seasons, tolerate.

In 1988, amid the show’s wave of success, a Seattle independent filmmaker and science fiction fan, Ryan K. Johnson, released his satirical tribute to TNG entitled Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation. Johnson’s 15-minute short film is a near-perfect encapsulation of what didn’t work in the show’s early years, from the cranky Captain Picard, the tiresome antics of Wesley Crusher and the occasional rehashing of plots from the original show. The Pepsi Generation serves as a effective reminder of the growing pains that TNG went through before becoming one of the most beloved sci-fi programs on television.

Credit: RyanKJohnson

“…With my wits, without hatin’, without being bitter, without being mean.”

Thank you for the inspiration, Dick Gregory.

Credit to visionaryproject.

They Don’t Call It Tragic-Con

The four days of the San Diego Comic-Con are almost upon us, so with that in mind, let’s take a look back at Comic Book: The Movie, a 2004 mockumetary filmed on location at the 2002 Comic-Con. Starring and directed by Mark Hamill (you know, that clown from that space movie), the comedy features interviews with geek culture bigwigs such as Stan Lee, Bruce Campbell and Kevin Smith, as well as the talents of several prolific voice actors including Billy West, Jess Harnell and Tom Kenny. Although it’s a little choppy, I recommend it just for the novelty of seeing top-notch voice actors plying their craft in a live-action production.

Here’s my favorite deleted scene with Harnell and West performing a lovely song called “Four Color World” to a group of Comic-Con attendees.

Credit: thedvdupdate

“Charm, Talent, Looks, and a Fantastic Voice”

Thanks for the memories, Adam West.

Thanks to filmnoir2019 for the video.

Modal Node to Joy

In May of 1977, an innovative motion picture was released that forever altered the way we understand and create films. It depicted a fast-paced, fantastical adventure that has fueled many imaginations and taught many important life lessons. Of course, I refer to the Hal Needham opus, Smokey and the Bandit! Just kidding, you know what I’m talking about.

There’s no denying the immediate impact that Star Wars has made on the pop cultural landscape, especially in the franchise’s early years. A wide variety of products were made to capitalize on the film’s widespread popularity, ranging from exciting new stories based on the universe, like the early Marvel comics and Brian Daley’s Han Solo Adventures (which I highly recommend), to other movies and shows that took their cues from George Lucas’s modern-day space serial. Even John Williams’s iconic orchestral score became in vogue, with Meco’s various disco remixes of the leitmotifs from the films being the most famous example.

One of the more obscure tributes to Williams’s work on the films is double bassist Ron Carter‘s 1980 album, Empire Jazz, an easy listening homage to the then-recent music of The Empire Strikes Back, including the themes for Darth Vader, Yoda, and the Leia/Han romance motif. Here is my personal favorite track on the album, the underrated theme of Cloud City kingpin and Rebel general, Lando Calrissian.

Thanks to Andy Lindemann for finding this album.

The Worst We Can Find (La-La-La)

To commemorate the Netflix revival of the groundbreaking comedy series and showcase of the world’s most famous horror hosts, Mystery Science Theater 3000 (*twang*), let’s take a look back at a 1996 segment that aired before WWF WrestleMania XII that was the wrestling promotion’s strange answer to the MST3K phenomenon, featuring the riffing stylings of Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler. Here’s the culmination of their goofy Billionaire Ted parody skits: the Huckster vs. the Nacho Man!

Credit: http://www.dailymotion.com/idimegra

“Johnny? Let’s Be Good!”

Thanks for the inspiration, Chuck Berry.

Credit: Clément Monterastelli

Triumph of Love by Walter Mosley

With Black History Month drawing to a close, I wanted to share this moving lecture from one of my favorite black novelists, Walter Mosley.