Sweet Sixteen: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina


Netflix has a reputation for being hit-and-miss with their original shows and films.  For every Stranger Things there is a Gypsy and for every Bright there is a The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter.  It was no surprise, then, that when Netflix announced they were handed the reins on a new series originally meant to be produced as a companion series to Riverdale on The CW, fans had their doubts.  The show would be based on the comic series entitled Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and would follow the darker tone of the comic as opposed to the sometimes sugary sweet antics of the better known Sabrina The Teenage Witch comic.


Fans can rest easy.  I watched the first few episodes of the new series over the weekend and I have to admit that I’m hooked pretty hard.

No spoilers ahead.  Just a few general comments about the series. 

The series opens just a few days before Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday on October 31st, which also happens to be the night of her dark baptism where she is expected to willingly giver herself over to the baddest baddie himself, Satan, in return for her magical powers and immortality.  When she refuses to sign the Book of the Beast, Sabrina sets into motion a series of events that will affect her, her family and friends, and the rest of the mortal and witch community of Greendale.


The series moves at a slow but steady pace that builds both tension and horror with each episode.  There’s also a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor that is delivered to varying degrees of success.  The humor is much needed, as the horror can get quite heavy handed at times.


CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA SEASON Season 1 EPISODE 3 PHOTO CREDIT Diyah Pera/Netflix PICTURED Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Davis, Miranda Otto

What makes this series so fun to watch is the cast.  There isn’t a weak actor in the bunch, and the show managed to get quite a few well known character actors to take on some of the best roles in the series.  I’ll get to Sabrina in a moment, but for now I want to focus on the supporting cast.


First up is Michelle Gomez as Mrs. Wardwell.  While I was no fan of her over-the-top performance as Missy/The Master in Doctor Who, she has definitely won me over in this series.  Gomez’ Wardwell has a major change of character early in the series and slinks her way in and out of every scene.  She’s devilishly charming and sinfully dangerous all at the same time.


Next up are Sabrina’s mortal friends Roz and Susie (Jaz Sinclair and Lachlan Watson) and her human boyfriend, Harvey (Ross Lynch).  Roz is an outspoken young woman who joins up with Sabrina in forming a young women’s support group at Baxter High School known as the Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association (W.I.C.C.A.) after Susie is repeatedly bullied by football players with no action taken against them by the school.  Both characters become key players in the series as it develops.

Ross Lynch portrays Sabrina’s gullible, somewhat dimwitted boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle.  His character has some strong development over the course of the series and he closes the season as a completely different person.


Chance Perdomo portrays Ambrose Spellman, Sabrina’s cousin who, luckily for Sabrina, is under house arrest for attempting to blow up the Vatican.  He’s her primary source of incite, wisdom, and protection for her throughout most of the series.


Appearing as both adversaries and uneasy allies are the Weird Sisters.  Prudence (Tati Gabrielle), Agatha (Adeline Rudolph), and Dorcas (Abigail Cowen) are a thorn in Sabrina’s side throughout the series.  They don’t want her to sign the Book of the Beast because she is a half breed and they challenge her as often as possible at the Academy of Unseen Arts.


Some of the other standouts in the cast include Richard Coyle as Father Faustus Blackwood.  He does a brilliant job as the sinister Head of the Academy and as a High Priest of the Church of Night.  I must admit that it was hard to take him serious at first, though, as I loved him as the goofy Jeff in Coupling many years ago.  Bronson Pinchot, yes, Balki from Perfect Strangers, is absolutely perfect as Principal Hawthorne.  He’s one of Sabrina’s primary enemies in the mortal world.


Miranda Otto is excellent as Aunt Zelda, the most devout member of the Spellman family, who is a harsh ruler in Sabrina’s home.  She’s cold, a tad cranky, and totally devoted to the Dark Lord.  Sabrina’s other aunt, Hilda, is portrayed as extremely protective of Sabrina but willing to bend the rules for the betterment of her niece.  She obviously loves Sabrina and her tender heart can quickly turn vicious when necessary.


As strong as the cast is, the entire series would fall to pieces without Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina.  She carries the series throughout and her sunny disposition is a breath of fresh air in the otherwise dark and dull world of Greendale.  Even her clothing (almost always red or trimmed in bright red) makes her stand out from the crowd.  Much of her look is mirrored by her Aunt Hilda and it’s obvious that the pair have a strong bond.  If Chilling Adventures is any indicator, Shipka has a solid career ahead of her.


The series is definitely a far cry from the much loved Sabrina The Teenage.  Where that series was lighthearted and fun, this series is dark, Satanic at times, and pushes boundaries.  I was never a big fan of the classic Melissa Joan Hart series, but I didn’t dislike it.  It was a nice distraction every now and then, but I never got too involved with the show.  Just know that the two series are entirely different creatures based on entirely different versions of Sabrina.


The series has already stirred some controversy as well.  Oddly enough, I haven’t heard very much out of Christian groups talking about the celebration of Satan or witchcraft.  Instead, I’ve heard on a local level that some practicing Wiccans have taken offense to the way that the series gives off the idea that Wiccans are Satan worshipers.  Perhaps Christian groups haven’t said much because Sabrina denies the Dark Lord or they just haven’t had time to fully watch the series?  I’m not sure.

In any case, I highly recommend watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  It is funny but extremely dark, and injects a little light into a very devilish subject.  It isn’t perfect (I spotted one major mess up during Sabrina’s trial), but it’s still a fun ride.

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll see you again real soon.

Throwback Thursday: Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (1993-94)

Hell’s Kitchen

Frank Miller is responsible for a number of the most beloved comic book stories ever placed on the printed page.  The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, and 300 are just some of the titles that Miller wrote and illustrated.  He is also responsible building up one of Marvel’s most popular characters, Daredevil.  The character was created in 1964 by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, with possible influence from Jack Kirby.  Miller took the reins on the character in the early 1980’s, with Daredevil: Born Again (1986) being one of the his best known story arcs during that time.  He also created the character of Elektra, who has been both a love interest and a thorn in the side of Daredevil ever since she made her debut in 1981.


Miller left the Daredevil title in the late 80’s, but would return in 1993 with a retelling of Daredevil’s origin story in the five issue arc, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear.  Penciled by John Romita, Jr, inked by Al Williamson, colored by Christie Scheele, and lettered by Joe Rosen, this story gave us a grittier, more violent vision of Matt Murdock and his journey to become the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.

The first issue was released twenty five years ago this month in 1993.  The series would run through February of 1994.  This story is the one that made me a fan of Daredevil and it’s the reason that I still read Daredevil books to this day.


In the series’ run, we get to see a young Matt Murdock train with Stick, watch him meet Foggy Nelson, and encounter Elektra for the first time (again).  We also see just how powerful the mighty Kingpin is and how far his influence reaches.  He’s a despicable character, to say the least, and he manipulates things from a distance in the story.


The death of Matt’s father is brutally written and illustrated, and gives the reader incite into why Murdock would eventually become the hero that he is known and loved for being today.  John Romita, Jr. does an excellent job of bringing Miller’s vision to life, and the color and tone of each panel in the books does a great job of engaging the reader.

This is, in my opinion, some of Miller’s best writing.  I’d go as far as saying that this is better than The Dark Knight Returns.


I still own all five issues in this run.  It has been released multiple times since 1993, including trade paperbacks and hardcover editions, but I’m still hanging on to the original run of books that I have.

If you’re a fan of the Netflix series featuring Daredevil, especially the first season, you’ll notice the influence of Miller’s story on the atmosphere and overall look of the show.


Charlie Cox as Daredevil in the Netflix series of the same name.

It’s hard to believe that the first issue of this series was published twenty five years ago.  Of course, that means that I’m twenty five years older as well.  If you aren’t a fan of Daredevil but want to know a good place to start your journey to Hell’s Kitchen, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear is a great place to start.


As always, thanks for reading my posts.  This particular Throwback Thursday was a fun one for me to look back on since I love Daredevil so much.  Who are some of your favorite comic book superheroes?  Let me know in the comments.




Tunes: Spaceman (2018), by Ace Frehley

The Space Ace is back!

Please note that this album review includes my review from Amazon and additional comments.

Ace looks and sounds better than he has in years on Spaceman. Of all of his recent releases (from Anomaly in 2009 and on), this album has the best production quality. I found Space Invader and Origins, Vol. 1 to be lacking in sound quality, but Spaceman more than makes up for it.


The album features two cuts co-written and performed with former KISS bandmate Gene Simmons. Simmons’ influence is heavy on the album’s opener, Without You I’m Nothing, especially in the lyrics, and can also be felt in Your Wish Is My Command


There are no soft tracks on this album (as expected) and Ace sounds like he’s really enjoying himself on the harder tracks such as Bronx Boy (my favorite track on the album) and Off My Back.

Like all of his other solo efforts, Ace included a cover tune. This time around he tackled I Wanna Go Back, which was a big hit for Eddie Money in the mid 1980’s. Ace’s version comes across a tad slower but just as enjoyable. Ace also included an instrumental piece, Quantum Flux, which showcases the Space Ace’s talents.


Eddie Money

This album does not disappoint. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from Ace with this release. He “shocked me” with this album and how solid it really is compared to his other recent releases. Many of the lyrics hearken back to his youth and his early years in rock n’ roll. That seems to be a theme with many of the older rockers that are still around and still putting out original music. No matter the subject, though, Spaceman is a solid effort and I recommend any fan of Ace pick it up and give it a listen.

Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons

Hall of Fame Inductees Kiss original band members Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, and Gene Simmons appear in the press room at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April, 10, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

There seems to be a lot of talk (primarily rumors) about Ace and Peter Criss (the Catman) possibly rejoining KISS for their End of the Road tour.  I seriously doubt that this will happen, especially considering the fact that Tommy Thayer has been the band’s lead guitarist since 2002 and Eric Singer has been hitting the drums for the band longer than any other drummer.  Criss has made it clear on numerous occasions that he is done with the band and touring as a solo artist as well.  I’d still love to see both of them pop up for a few shows here and there, especially the band’s final show, even if it’s just to perform one or two songs.


Ace really outdid himself with this album.  Hopefully I’ll get to catch him on tour.  Let me know what you think about the album in the comments section.  As always, thanks for reading.  More posts will be coming very soon.

Chuck Fest 2018

Lake Charles, LA

My original plans were to attend ArtsFest in Lake Charles over the weekend, but due to a few derailments, I ended up not being able to attend that event.  Instead, I managed to make it out to Chuck Fest for a few hours on Saturday evening.

For those of you unaware, Chuck Fest is essentially a celebration of Lake Charles.  A portion of the downtown area at the intersection of Ryan St. and Broad St. is blocked off and local and regional artists, craft breweries, food vendors, and others set up tables in the area.  Local restaurants, stores, and clubs in the area open their doors to all as well, and the city basically has a gigantic street party.


The event lasted from noon until midnight and featured nearly forty bands at four official venues.  I attended a few of the live shows but made sure to be at Stellar Beans at 7PM to see my friend, Brett Welch, jam for awhile.  If you’ve ever been to Stellar Beans, a locally owned coffee shop, you know that the atmosphere is generally laid back most of the time.  For Chuck Fest, though, patrons filed in and out of the coffee shop the entire time.  Many of them purchased coffee and other beverages and even some of Stellar’s great short order food.  A few brought in their own adult beverages.  People randomly broke out into dances while Brett did his thing as well.


After Brett’s performance, I wandered out into the streets to check out everything going on at the festival.  There were a ton of people at the event, and it was great to see Lake Charles so alive on a Saturday evening.


The weather wasn’t on its best behavior during the event.  There was an almost constant misting going on and the wind kicked up quite a bit as the evening continued.  A few vendors had problems with their canopies overturning due to the wind, but they always had a few helping hands around to set their canopies back up when needed.


I left the event late on Saturday and returned to the area the next morning.  The streets were clean and Stellar Beans was back to its normal, quiet self.  I had a medium roast coffee and caught up on the news of the day while myself and other patrons were serenaded by a local guitarist.  It was the perfect way to top off a fun weekend.

Now I’m preparing for the upcoming weekend.  My original plans have once again been disrupted by life thanks to my kids having early morning activities on Saturday, but I still have plans to have a little fun on Saturday afternoon and possibly on Sunday.  I’ll be sure to let you all know what goes down if I do have a good weekend.

As always, thanks for reading.  If you attended any cool festivals or events over the weekend, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.  I’ve got a little nerdy goodness planned for later this week, so be watching for my next post real soon.

Throwback Thursday: Comic Book Men (2012)

Red Bank, NJ

Today’s Throwback Thursday post is very special.  Why?  Because I’m pretty sure that this is the “youngest” Throwback that I’ve ever posted and because I just so happened to meet one of the stars of this particular series over the weekend (and completely forgot to mention meeting him in my previous post).  So what are we traveling back in time for today?  Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men (2012-2018).


The cast of Comic Book Men, L to R: Mike Zapcic, Walt Flanagan, Kevin Smith, Ming Chen, and Bryan Johnson.

Comic Book Men ran for seven seasons on AMC.  Considering the fact that AMC often buried it behind The Walking Dead replays late on Sunday evening after the Talking Dead live show, it’s a wonder that the series lasted as long as it did.  Many fans of the series, myself included, just couldn’t stay up late enough to watch an entire episode, especially if they had to work in the morning.  I would always try to stay up to watch the original broadcasts, but often had to catch up through video on demand later in the week.


The staff of Jay And Silent Bob’s Secret Stash with Jason Mewes (L) and TV’s Batman, Adam West (R).

The show was funny, engaging, educational at times, and loaded with nostalgia.  Each episode was based out of Jay And Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, Kevin Smith’s comic book store, with different adventures happening primarily in and around Red Bank, New Jersey.  The first season consisted of six one-hour episodes that saw the main cast, Walt Flanagan, Mike Zapcic, Bryan Johnson (who wasn’t an actual employee of the store), and Ming Chen, appraise and make offers to buy and sell pop culture items such as comics, toys, and props from films.  They also visited a local flea market, got tattoos, and made a commercial for the store among other things.  The show would cut to the cast and Smith recording a podcast about the topics and events covered during the episode as well.


Walt Flanagan, Ming Chen, Michael Zapcic, Bryan Johnson and Stan Lee – Comic Book Men – Season 2, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: David E. Steele

Beginning with the second season and until its cancellation, the series was reduced to a half hour and ran for thirteen to sixteen episodes.  Also with season two, the series began having more and more celebrity guests.  Jason Mewes (Clerks, Dogma, Mallrats, etc.) appeared in the first season and in multiple episodes afterwards.  Brian O’Halloran (Clerks) got the celebrity ball rolling in season two and other notable guests included Adam West, Burt Ward, Stan Lee, Dean Cain, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Peter Mayhew, George Perez, Jim Lee, and Kevin Eastman.


The cast with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Some of my favorite episodes of the series involved Robert Bruce, a noted pop culturist who knows pretty much everything about anything toy, film, or comic book related.  He was often brought in to appraise an item whenever it stumped Walt, Mike, or Ming.  He was loaded with knowledge and was quick to note anything that might have been odd or off-putting about particular items.


Robert Bruce and a Stash customer.

I also enjoyed episodes where the gang went on small adventures to places like the JAWS Museum, another museum that featured an Action Comics #1 (first appearance of Superman), and when they visited the “Batcave” of a Batman superfan’s home.  Not only was it great to see some of the items and books that were featured in these episodes, it was also fun to see the looks of pure joy spread across the faces of Walt, Bryan, Mike, and Ming.  It was obvious that these men loved what they were doing in each episode.


Dean Cain (Lois & Clark) drops by the Stash for Superman’s 75th Anniversary.

Watching the guys humiliate one another was also a great aspect of the series.  Granted, most of the time the humiliation was placed on Ming, but he did get in a few shots of his own against the rest of the guys.  One of the best things to happen on the show was the recreation of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman’s wedding.  Mike dressed as Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and poor Ming dressed in drag as Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), complete with bright blue lipstick (that Sue never actually wore) and they rode off to their honeymoon in a car at the end of the episode.


Kevin Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, tries her hand at being a clerk.

Over the weekend, I had the chance to meet Ming Chen at Gulf Coast Fan Fest.  I attended a couple of the panels that he hosted and got to briefly talk with him during the convention.  He seems like a genuinely nice guy and he gave attendees some great advice on starting up their own podcast.  I asked him if the guys on the show really did give him constant crap or if it was just for the series.  He told me that it was actually worse whenever the cameras were off because there were some things that just couldn’t be shown on television.


Comic Book Men was cancelled earlier this year.  It’s sad that the series came to an end, as I do believe that it gave nerds and geeks like myself a genuine look at ourselves.  I know plenty of people that are exactly like many of the folks that showed up in the series.  I have friends that collect everything from comics to toys and movie posters.  I know guys and gals that can recall facts about some of the most obscure comics and television shows out there.  I know people that have wept when they were forced to sell one of their beloved items due to needing money for school, healthcare, or other necessities.

In other words, Comic Book Men was me and everyone like me.

Be sure to check out the series on Amazon Prime if you didn’t get to see it during its original run on AMC.  I also recommend meeting the cast of the show if you get a chance.  I know that Ming, Mike, and Bryan attend many comic book conventions throughout the year.  Jason Mewes does as well.  Hopefully Walt will hit the con circuit soon, but I don’t believe that he attends many conventions.

I hope to visit Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash one day, and I also hope to meet more of the guys.

As always, thanks for reading.  Comic Book Men might have only recently left us, but it leaves a giant void in geekdom in its wake.  I’ll see all of you again real soon!




Gulf Coast Fan Fest 2018!

Biloxi, MS

The beautiful Mississippi Coast Convention Center was home to Gulf Coast Fan Fest over the past weekend in Biloxi, MS.  I attended both days of the event and I had a really great time.  I arrived in Biloxi on Friday afternoon and caught up with some good friends before heading out to the official Kick Off Party at the Crooked Letter Brewing Company in nearby Ocean Springs.   At the party, Comic Book Men‘s very own Ming Chen was in attendance as were a few other guests and convention attendees.  Former WCW/WWE superstar Honk Tonk Man performed his one man show as well.


My blurry photo of Honky Tonk Man.

On Saturday I entered the convention ready to visit with friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time.  I managed to catch up with quite a few of them and probably missed just as many as I wandered around the convention center.  I was dressed as Doctor Zhukov from the Fortune and Glory RPG.  Most people called me Doctor Horrible from Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.


Not Doctor Horrible!

After a couple of hours, I decided to go back to my hotel room at the Quality Inn next to the Coliseum, freshen up a bit, and change into some shorts and a t-shirt.  I returned to the convention and sought out the two autographs that I wanted the most: Peter Davison (the 5th Doctor) and David Naughton (An American Werewolf In London).  I succeeded in getting both of them.


Davison is my favorite Doctor.  I was a tad star struck by him.  He didn’t say a whole lot to me but thanked me for being a fan and thanked me for supporting his work.  After getting his autograph, I moved along to David Naughton’s table.  When I walked up to him, I told him my name and blurted out, “Among my werewolf freak friends, you are considered a god.”  He laughed and said, “That’s funny,” and engaged me a little about werewolves.  I told him that I’m a huge fan of the classic werewolf films including the Lon Chaney, Jr. movies and the classic Werewolf of London.  He seemed a little surprised that I mentioned Werewolf of London and said that not many people bring up that film.  I got an autograph and a photo with him.  He was excellent.


The rest of my Saturday at the convention was spent strolling through the vendor area, catching up with artists like my good friend, Vo Nguyen, and visiting with the other conventions on hand promoting their own events.  I also sat in on the Kevin Sorbo panel.  Mediated by Ming Chen, the panel was great.  Sorbo held nothing back when asked questions about his work, his faith, and his politics.  It was one of the most interesting panels that I’ve ever attended.  I especially enjoyed Sorbo’s stories about his work on Hercules and Xena.


After the convention closed for the day, I headed out to the beach across the street from the coliseum and took a long walk along the beach and on the pier heading out into the Gulf of Mexico.  Biloxi has always been one of my favorite cities to visit, and this weekend was one of my best visits yet.  The weather was perfect and the beach was simply gorgeous.

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Sunday morning I got up early and enjoyed a nice breakfast at the hotel.  Then I attended Mass at Our Lady Of Fatima parish.  After that I checked out of my room and headed to the convention.  I visited with a few more of my friends and purchased a print from Vo Nguyen.  He sketched a photo of the Joker for me as well.  I also walked through the numerous film artifacts in the Merrill Movie Museum.  If you ever have a chance to check out this traveling museum, do it!


In the afternoon, myself and a few other representatives of Southern Geek (Rafe and Shannon White and Cave Moran) hosted a panel on The Walking Dead.  We had a fairly decent crowd considering the fact that we were up against Peter Davison.  I spent a little more time at the convention taking photos of cosplayers such as RedTop Cosplay and Iron Mwar.  After saying good bye to a few good friends, I headed over to the beach for one last look and then headed home.  I hope to return to GCFF next year.  It was an excellent event.


RedTop Cosplay


Iron Mwar

As always, thanks for reading my post.  October is stacked, so be sure to keep an eye on my page for more geeky goodness.  I have plans to attend more conventions in the next few months, and I plan on blogging about all of them.  I’ll have another Throwback Thursday tomorrow as well, so don’t forget to check my blog tomorrow!

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Throwback Thursday: Halloween (1978)

Forty Years Ago

It’s hard to believe that it has been forty years since John Carpenter’s Halloween was released.  While it wasn’t the first slasher film (many argue that 1912’s The Lunatics deserves that title), it was definitely the film that blazed the trail for future slasher franchises such as Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Sleepaway Camp, Silent Night, Deadly Night and Child’s Play. I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend came later, but they benefited from Halloween‘s success as well.


The film unintentionally established a set of rules for slasher films to follow.  Those rules, best described in Wes Craven’s Scream franchise, included such items as virgins survive, never assume that the killer is dead, and never saying, “I’ll be right back,” among others.


Halloween also introduced us to Jamie Lee Curtis, one of the most popular and successful scream queens in all of cinematic history.  Not only has she appeared in a number of Halloween sequels, she’s become a star in other film genres as well.  Just a few of her most popular films include Trading Places (1983), Freaky Friday (2003), True Lies (1994), and My Girl (1991).  It gave Donald Pleasence one of his most famous roles as Dr. Loomis, the man hot on the trail of the evil Michael Myers.  P.J. Soles, already a veteran of the horror scene thanks to her performance in Carrie (1976), would go on to feature in other horror films and the cult hit Rock N’ Roll High School (1979) and have solid supporting roles in Stripes (1981) and Private Benjamin (1980).


The film’s simple piano score was composed and performed by Carpenter.  Despite its simplicity, it ranks with the Star Wars theme and the Jaws theme as one of the most recognizable film themes in history.


The film is one of the most successful independent films of all time.  It’s also one of the most influential horror films.  It was made on a budget of $300,000 dollars and much of the cast wore their own clothes for the film.  The legendary Michael Myers mask is actually a modified Captain Kirk mask that production designer Tommy Lee Wallace purchased for less than two dollars at a costume shop.


The film was followed by seven sequels and a remake by Rob Zombie in 2007 which had its own sequel as well.  Later this month a new sequel to the original film will be released featuring Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode.  The film will completely ignore all of the previous sequels and the remake, technically making it the first sequel to the original film.


I recommend watching the first film and the Rob Zombie remake.  All of the sequels are hit and miss, but there’s no questioning their influence on horror films.  I hope to watch the new sequel later this year.  I hope it lives up to all of the hype.

Thanks for reading.  I’m headed to Gulf Coast Fan Fest this weekend, so look out for my review of the convention early next week.  I might post a photo or two from the convention on my blog over the weekend, so keep an eye out for that as well.


The Walking Dead Season Nine Premiere!

The Calm Before The Storm?

Sunday night saw the beginning of the ninth season of AMC’s highly successful The Walking Dead.  Despite sagging ratings in recent years, it’s still one of the most watched shows on television.  The new season brings with it a few changes in front of and behind the camera that have given the series an entirely new tone.  Scott Gimple is out as showrunner, with Angela Kang, a long time writer for the series, now in charge of the gang.  Gimple’s tenure ceased with the end of the “All Out War” that saw the Hilltop, the Kingdom, Alexandria, and Oceanside come together to stop Negan’s tyrannical rule over their communities.  The Scavengers were obliterated by Simon, leaving only their leader, Jadis, alive. Carl dies from a walker bite while helping Siddiq and Morgan has hit the trail once again.  Maggie shows signs of breaking away from Rick’s vision for the future of all of their communities.


Prior to the premiere, information was released stating that the ninth season would see the exit of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan).  The loss of both of them means that the series will take a major detour from the comics yet again.  This brings up a ton of questions such as who will take Rick’s leadership role in Alexandria? Who will replace Maggie?  Will they die or will they leave like Morgan?  What happens to Judith? We won’t know for at least a few more episodes.


Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Chloe Garcia as Judith  – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Mild Spoilers Ahead!

Season nine opened with Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), and young Judith (Chloe Garcia) having a nice little family moment and all of the communities settled into a mildly pleasant atmosphere.  As the show continues, though, we see that some communities aren’t quite as idyllic as they appear.  Many of the survivors at the Sanctuary, which is now under the guidance of Daryl (Norman Reedus), are beginning to grumble about not having enough food.  They also appear to dislike Daryl and prefer Rick, treating him like a nicer version of Negan (but signs, literal signs, are everywhere showing that the community still respects Negan).  Maggie has set up a sound little democracy on the Hilltop, but has to deal with dissenters such as the persistently devilish Gregory (Xander Berkeley) on a daily basis.


Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and the Scavenger formerly known as Jadis, Anne (Pollyanna McIntosh) set out on a supply run.

While on a joint community supply run, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) is almost killed by walkers.  When he is rescued, he and Carol (Melissa McBride) share a kiss.  He eventually proposes to Carol on their return from the supply run, but she denies him.  The group is then forced to take an alternate route back to their communities as a bridge has collapsed under the weight of a walker herd.  When one of the wagons gets stuck in the mud, the group’s struggle to free it attracts walkers and one of the Hilltop’s younger citizens, Ken (A.J. Achinger), is killed while attempting to free the horses.

Once Maggie returns to the Hilltop, she notifies Ken’s parents of his death.  Brett Butler is nearly unrecognizable as Ken’s mother, but she does an excellent job as a mother spiraling into severe depression after learning of her son’s death.  Gregory sees Ken’s death as a chance to make a play for power in the community, and he manipulates Ken’s father (John Finn) into assisting him.


Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Carol (Melissa McBride), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) on a supply run in Washington, D.C.


With hints here and there about unease in the communities, specifically the Hilltop and the Sanctuary, the leaders make moves to remedy the situation.  Daryl tells Rick that he doesn’t want to lead the Sanctuary anymore and shows signs of siding more with Maggie than Rick.  Carol offers to take over as the leader of the Sanctuary (a pretty solid move in my opinion, as she has consistently proven that she can handle herself quite well in bad situations).  Maggie’s moves are a bit more vicious.


Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Xander Berkeley as Gregory – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Rick approaches Maggie, whose community is thriving, about providing more assistance for the other communities, specifically the Sanctuary.  She agrees, but only at a large price, making demands that Rick agrees to, but with some obvious reservations.  The tension is getting quite thick between these two.  Maggie is then attacked by Ken’s father, who has been convinced by Gregory to murder her.

It is at this point that Maggie makes her own power play.  Instead of imprisoning Gregory, she has him hanged in the community in full view of many of the citizens.  Daryl apparently supports her decision, but Rick doesn’t appear to agree with her.  Michonne notices children watching the hanging and attempts to stop it, but is too late.  Maggie, not phased one bit, tells the people to get their kids back in bed.  Gregory dies begging for his life.  It’s a brutal end for the character, but not necessarily undeserved.


This episode was full of new things.  From the growing divide between Maggie and Rick to the revelation that the communities are growing not only food, but corn for use as fuel in vehicles.  Governments appear to slowly be developing in the communities as well.  Carol once again seems to have her head on straight and while she doesn’t want to marry Ezekiel right now, she appears to be open to a romantic relationship with him.  Enid is in a wheelchair thanks to Ken’s father, but that’s probably just a temporary thing.  Characters that have taken a backseat in recent seasons are now moving to the front of the story.  Heck, even the title sequence has been freshened up for the new season.

The only thing really missing from the episode was Jeffery Dean Morgan as Negan.  No doubt that he’ll be taking on a bigger role in later episodes, but for now, showrunner Angela Kang has him on the backburner.

The episode was very good.  It wasn’t the best season opener (Season Two’s opener is still  my favorite), but it was definitely a nice change of pace.  I was never really that upset with any of Scott Gimple’s choices in the series except for the death of Carl, but the tone of the series has definitely changed under Kang’s guidance and that was immediately evident in the first episode.  Hopefully the season will only get better.


On a sad note, I hated hearing that Scott Wilson, who portrayed Hershel on The Walking Dead, passed away over the weekend due to complications from leukemia.  The series paid tribute to him at the end of the episode.  Wilson was an excellent actor and his portrayal of Hershel was one of the best things about The Walking Dead while he was on the series.  He’s one of the cast members that I always wanted to meet but never had the chance to see in person.  Rest in peace, Mr. Wilson.

Gulf Coast Fan Fest is this weekend.  I’ll be there and so will three cast members of The Walking Dead.  Seth Gilliam, Denise Crosby, and Joshua Mikel will all be at the event and I hope to meet all of them.  I’ve had opportunities to meet Denise Crosby before, but time and/or expenses always prevented me from approaching her.  Seth Gilliam was supposed to be at an event I attended last year, but he had to cancel and I didn’t get to see him.  This will be the first opportunity for me to meet Joshua Mikel, and I really want to tell him just how much I loved to hate his character, Jared.

As always, thanks for reading.  Keep an eye open for my Throwback Thursday post and a full report on Gulf Coast Fan Fest after this weekend!



7th Annual Lake Charles Film Festival

Southwest Louisiana

On Friday, October 5th, at the Brimstone Museum in Sulphur, LA, the 7th Annual Lake Charles Film Festival kicked off with a series of short films and music videos and a screening of Tarzan of the Apes in celebration of the silent film’s 100th anniversary.  Kelsey Swire was the emcee for the evening and she introduced each short and music video as well as the anniversary presentation of Tarzan of the Apes.  She also introduced the guest of honor, Jay Underwood, best known for his work in projects such as The Boy Who Could Fly, Not Quite Human, and the unreleased (but much loved thanks to bootleg copies) The Fantastic Four (1994).  Festival director Patrick Bennett presented Mr. Underwood with the official festival cake and asked him to cut the cake with a celebratory sword.


Jay Underwood and his wife, Julie, cut the festival cake.  Entirely too dark photo taken by me, Ken Fontenot.

After the screening of Tarzan of the Apes, the event moved to Rikenjak’s Brewing Company for a festival kickoff party where attendees, guests, and presenters got a chance to mingle with one another and talk about film and all sorts of other things.  Rikenjak’s did an excellent job of serving the party, making sure that everyone received their food and drinks in a timely manner.  There was also live music at the venue.

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I arrived early on Saturday morning to assist with the setup of some of the rooms for the festival.  I was then asked to help out in one of the viewing rooms.  Luckily for me it was the very room that Mr. Underwood would be showcasing Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four in later that day.  I presented Jim DeVault’s Azteq Vs The Prowler, an independent horror flick that mixed luchadores and a deformed killer and Brandon Katcher’s Circular Resonance, a documentary about Noah Frisch, a Didgeridoo maker, and his world travels.


Photo taken by Patrick Bennett.

After those films, Mr. Underwood presented Doomed! and provided excellent commentary during and after the presentation.  It was especially fun to hear about the rat-infested studio where the film was shot and how the cast and crew spent a lot of their own time and money to get the project finished.  After the presentation and Q&A, Mr. Underwood signed autographs, took photos, and had copies of the Doomed! documentary for sale.  I received an autographed photo from him on which he thanked me for showing his film.  That was pretty cool.


More films were shown throughout the day.  I managed to see a few of them in their entirety and a couple of them for just a few brief moments, but I enjoyed every one of them.  Doomed! was a real treat and Little Eden by the Lockhearts was my favorite music video.  My personal favorite of all of the documentaries and films that I was able to see in their entirety, though, was Last Beer at the Pig’s Ear.  It told the story of the final days at the Pig’s Ear, a 152 year old pub in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and focused on some of the people that made the place so special.  I fell in love with the people and the place, and by the end of the film, I was almost moved to tears.  It is a great documentary and I highly recommend that you check out the website here or visit and like their Facebook page.


Taken from the LCFF Facebook page.

The festival was topped off with an awards ceremony at my favorite watering hole, MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub.  I enjoyed my usual, fish and chips with delicious colcannon on the side, and I sipped on some mead as well.  Despite mosquitoes and lovely Louisiana humidity, the event was great.

Here are the winners:

Home Grown:

  1. 1000 Year Flood
  2. Cover Me
  3. Into The Green

Feature Narrative:

  1. The Maestro
  2. Evol
  3. One Nation Under God

Short Narrative:

  1. The Hollow Earth
  2. Dependents
  3. Little Pictures

Documentary Feature:

  1. 1000 Year Flood
  2. Poured In Pennsylvania
  3. Up To Snuff

Documentary Short:

  1. The School of Honk
  2. Western Jubilee
  3. Bee-Sharp Honeybee

Feature Script:

  1. The Lady Pirates
  2. A Self Made Man
  3. Life In The Country

Short Script:

  1. Sombra City
  2. Life With Bill: “Waiting On Cahill”
  3. Abandon All Hope

48 Hour Film Sprint:

  1. The Writer
  2. Tin City
  3. Tooth


  1. The Modern Lives
  2. The Story of God
  3. Ego

Student Film:

  1. L.A. Fadeaway
  2. Into The Green
  3. A Hard Gamble

Music Video:

  1. Mice or Men
  2. We’re All Mad Here
  3. Private Eye

Web Series:

  1. Bail Out: I Am Lorenzo Lamas
  2. So SOHA Season Two
  3. The Strategy of Water

Foreign Film

  1. By Blood
  2. Balloon
  3. Ainhoa

Scallywag Award:

Presented to Jay Underwood for his thirty plus years of work in film and television.

Be sure to come out to the Lake Charles Film Festival next year.  This event has steadily grown in size and the film selection gets increasingly better as well.  It’s a great way for filmmakers, writers, actors, and film fanatics to get together and talk about their favorite subject.

Special thanks go out to all of those that made this event happen, especially Patrick, Kelsey, Thom Trahan, and the Brimstone Museum.

As always, thanks for reading.  I’m heading to Gulf Coast Fan Fest this weekend and I’ll be posting about it in the very near future.  I’ve also got a special treat for Throwback Thursday this week.  Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about last night’s Season Nine premiere of The Walking Dead.  Featured in the episode is another great performance from Xander Berkeley who portrays Gregory on the show.  He was also featured in The Maestro, which took top honors in the Feature Narrative category at the Lake Charles Film Festival.  See you all again real soon!