Archive for August, 2010

Microsoft Windows 95 was released 15 years ago today

Posted in Microsoft, pop culture, technology, Windows with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by Paxton

Microsoft Windows 95 startup screen

Microsoft released Windows 95 on Aug 24, 1995, 15 years ago today.  It was developed internally as Windows 4 or under the codename Chicago.  The whole operating system was designed to be a “ground up” improvement of Windows 3.1 including vast enhancements to the GUI, or “user interface”. It was with this release of Windows that Microsoft became the computing powerhouse it became in the late 90s/early 2000s. It was also this success with Windows 95 and early versions of Internet Explorer that would lay the ground work for all of Microsoft’s problems with the Justice Department about being a monopoly.

Windows 95 welcome screen

Like I said, Windows 95 was the birth of Windows as we now know it today.  The taskbar and Start button began here as well as “plug and play” compatibility, 32 bit processing and the Windows Explorer file management application.  All of these innovations were included and remain in current versions of Windows mostly unchanged to this day.  Internet Explorer 1.0 was available for the release of Windows 95, but not with the default installation, which didn’t even install TCP/IP.  You had to buy the Microsoft Plus! pack to get the brand new Microsoft browser as well as other features like themes and disc compression.  Microsoft Plus! was mostly used in factory installs, so not many people used IE at first.  Internet Explorer would become part of the Win95 installation with IE v2.0 several months later.

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Billy the Kid Week 2010: I cast a Billy the Kid vs Dracula remake

Posted in Billy the Kid, Dracula, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

So, Billy the Kid Week was last week and I finished it up with a review of the movie Billy the Kid vs Dracula.  This was a movie that looked and sounded terrible, but had a concept that was so completely out of left field (and AWESOME) that I fell head over heels for it.  Unfortunately, the movie lived up to how bad it looked and I gave up an hour into the complete mess of a movie.  However the concept stuck with me and I decided I wanted someone to remake this movie today (or, better yet, in the 80s/90s).  How incredible would that have been?  Something like Young Guns but with a little Lost Boys mixed in?  FANTASTIC.

So, I started to cast my remake of this movie.  I decided I wanted Emilio Estevez as Billy (obviously).  Late 80s or early 90s Estevez would be ideal.  However, if we made it today, I like the idea of an older Billy clashing with the King of the Vampires, too.  Now, for Drac, I really want to say Bela Lugosi, however, Bela died WELL before the ’80s/’90s so I needed someone else that could make a good vampire lord.  After much thought I came up with Sam Neill.  He was a fantastic vampire in Daybreakers and I think he would make a great Dracula. Plus, if we made this movie in the late 80s early ’90s, Neill doesn’t look much different now than he did back then (see him in Hunt for Red October in 1990 or Jurassic Park in 1993).  So, here’s our two protagonists.

Emilio as Billy Sam Neill as Dracula

I am so in love with this movie right now.  I literally would take this movie, move to Connecticut and marry it in a commitment ceremony, then make sweet, sweet love with it on a bear skin rug next to a raging fire until the sun comes up.  That’s right, bear skin rug by the fire love making.  You know I’m seriously in love.  Anyway, I also wanted a female caught between these two guys.  I thought about Angelina Jolie, but she may be too tough and doesn’t really fit into this.  I wanted more of a sweet female character.  My first choice would probably be Gwyneth Paltrow.   The first thing I remember seeing her in was Se7en in 1995.  I loved her in that and I love her now.  That’s my first choice, so I’m going with that.  Besides, 1995 seems like a good year to make this movie now that I think about it.  Gwyneth would be 23 and fresh off Se7en.  Emilio would be a few years past the Young Guns movies and he didn’t appear in any movies in 1995 but appeared in D2: The Mighty Ducks in 1994 and a small role in Mission: Impossible in 1996.  Sam Neill would be two years after his role in Jurassic Park. So 1995 seems like a nice fit for this movie.  Now the poster.

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Billy the Kid Week 2010: Freaky Friday the 13th featuring Billy the Kid, The Three Stooges and Dracula

Posted in Billy the Kid, Dracula, monsters, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, reviews, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2010 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

This is Day 5 of Billy the Kid Week. All week I’ve been reviewing movies featuring the character of Billy the Kid. Here are the previous week’s entries:

Day 0: Young Guns II 20th birthday
Day 1: Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw
Day 2: The Left Handed Gun starring Paul Newman
Day 3: Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
Day 4: Young Guns 22nd birthday

Since today is Friday the 13th, I am dubbing today as Billy the Kid Week’s “Freaky Friday”.  I will review one wacky and one scary movie featuring Billy. The first movie will be the Three Stooges’ epic western, The Outlaws IS Coming. The second movie will be the horror schlockfest Billy the Kid vs Dracula. These movies look like they should be appropriately zany, so let’s get started.

The Outlaws is Coming

Released in 1965, this is the last fully completed film featuring The Stooges. They began filming one more movie, Kook’s Tour, in 1970, but Larry had a stroke before filming was completed and the movie sat unfinished and unreleased for years afterward.

The original title of this movie was The Three Stooges Meet The Gunslingers.  That earlier title sounds reminiscent of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein for a reason as this movie is setup in much the same way. Instead of being a “monster rally” movie featuring a famous comedy team, it’s a “gunslinger rally” movie featuring a famous comedy team. There are 9 famous gunslingers in this movie including Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickock, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Johnny Ringo, Cole Younger, Rob Dalton and Belle Star.  Each of the nine gunslingers were played by popular local Kid-TV hosts of the day.  Other notable stars in this film are Adam West as Kenneth Cabot,  a naive ne’er-do-well who works with the Stooges, the gorgeous Nancy Kovack as Annie Oakley and Henry Gibson as Charlie Horse, the Indian chief’s son.  The movie is even narrated by Paul Frees, known for his voice work on Rocky and Bullwinkle (most notably, Boris Badenov).  So, lots of talent were culled together to make this last movie for the Stooges.  West would go on to Batman the very next year.  Nancy Kovack would go on to several roles in geek classics like Queenie in two episodes of West’s Batman as well as Nona in an episode of the original Star Trek in 1968.

The Gunslingers

In the movie, the Stooges work as photographers and “undercover investigators” at an organization similar to the ASPCA.  They work with West’s Cabot and are sent on an undercover mission to Casper, Wyoming to determine why the population of Bison are dwindling.  They discover that a ruthless cattle baron, Rance Roden, has a group of deadly gunslingers killing off the bison to stir up the Indian population into an uprising that will slaughter the cavalry and put Roden in charge of the government (how the cavalry being defeated puts Rance as ruler of the government is not explained).  Oh, and Roden is selling government weapons to the Indians.  We meet the group of gunslingers in the beginning and learn where their territories are.  For some reason, Billy the Kid is said to be in charge of the Dakota Territory instead of Santa Fe (New Mexico, where Billy spent the majority of his life).  Johnny Ringo is in charge of Santa Fe.  Not a big deal since this is a Stooges movie, but it surprised me.  Anyway, we meet the gunslingers in the beginning, then we really don’t see them again until the end when there’s a big gunfight.  So, Billy the Kid only has dialogue in like two scenes.  Also, he’s played with the temperament of a teenager or child.  He whines and cries whenever he doesn’t want to do something.  Roden’s henchman Trigger Mortis (Get it? It’s a play on Rigor Mortis…haha!) gets most of the screen time for the villains.

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Billy the Kid Week 2010: Young Guns turns 22 years old this month

Posted in Billy the Kid, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2010 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

Welcome to Day 4 of Billy the Kid Week. I’ve been reviewing Billy the Kid movies every day. Here are the previous days’ reviews:

Day 0: Young Guns II 20th birthday
Day 1: Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw
Day 2: The Left Handed Gun starring Paul Newman
Day 3: Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Which now brings us to today’s movie review, Young Guns, which also celebrates its 22nd birthday today.

Young Guns movie ad

Young Guns was released on Aug 12, 1988.  I was fourteen years old.  I didn’t see it on the day of release, I saw it later that year.  I didn’t know that much about the movie going into it, only that it was a western starring Emilio Estevez.  I decided to see it on a lark towards the end of the movie’s run.

When I was done watching it, I was blown away.  I had no expectations going in so this movie blew me out of the back of the theater.  I loved it.  I was especially in love with Emilio’s portrayal of Billy the Kid.  He played the living sh*t out of that character.  Also, the movie was full of action and snappy dialogue.  I loved the movie so much I started reading everything I could get my hands on about Billy the Kid.  I checked out library books about real life gunslingers and started reading western fiction including titles like The First Fast Draw by Louis L’Amour and other Billy the Kid titles like Anything for Billy by Larry McMurtry.  It really shaped some of my interests during high school.  I was even Emilio Estevez’s version of Billy the Kid for Halloween one year.

Young Guns poster

So, for the 22nd anniversary I sat down with my wife and watched this movie for the first time in probably 9-10 years. It was the first time ever for my wife to watch it.  When I watched this movie last I remember thinking that I had started liking Young Guns II better, I thought it was more fun.  I remember thinking that Young Guns was a little more boring than I remembered.  Well, I’m here to say that my 10 years ago self was full of crap.  This movie is anything BUT boring.  I still love it.

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Billy the Kid Week 2010: Review of Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

Posted in Billy the Kid, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

Welcome to day 3 of Billy the Kid Week 2010. I’ll be reviewing Billy the Kid movies all week. Day 1 I reviewed Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw starring Jane Russell. Day 2 I reviewed The Left Handed Gun starring Paul Newman. Today I look back at a classic Billy the Kid western from the early ’70s directed by one of the last great directors of the genre, Sam Peckinpah, who also directed the wonderful The Wild Bunch. The movie is 1973’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Directed by legendary director Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) and starring James Coburn as Pat Garrett and Kris Kristofferson as Billy the Kid. This movie also contains the motion picture debut of Bob Dylan in the small role of Alias.  Dylan would also score the soundtrack (his first music score) and created “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” for this movie.  This particular movie is legendary for the “behind the scenes” battles between Peckinpah and MGM studio head James Aubrey.  Aubrey did everything he could to undermine Peckinpah who, to be fair, was battling a severe bout of alcoholism which would plague him for the rest of his life.

Aubrey constantly questioned Peckinpah’s camera setups, time to shoot scenes and would continually tell Peckinpah to remove certain scenes he felt were unnecessary.  Peckinpah convinced the cast and crew to work covertly on lunch breaks and weekends to complete all the scenes he wanted shot.  When principal photography was finished, the picture was 21 days late and over $1 million over budget.  Peckinpah’s final cut of the film was 124 minutes.  However, the studio was so unhappy they took the film away from him and re-cut it to 102 minutes and released it.  The film was a box office failure.  Peckinpah’s 124 minute director’s cut was restored in the early ’80s on home video and laserdisc.  Eventually public opinion on the movie was turned and people began considering the movie to be an overlooked masterpiece, on par with The Wild Bunch.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid DVD

Before a few days ago, I’d never watched this movie.  I was aware of it, I planned on watching it many years ago during my Billy the Kid movie marathons, but I just never got around to it.  I was glad that I now had the chance to see it.  Honestly, this movie is better than the previous two movies I reviewed, but it’s still not one of my favorites.

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Billy the Kid Week 2010: Review of The Left Handed Gun (1958)

Posted in Billy the Kid, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , , on August 10, 2010 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

Welcome to Day 2 of Billy the Kid Week 2010. I’ll be reviewing Billy the Kid movies all week. Yesterday I reviewed the 1943 Howard Hughes movie, The Outlaw starring Jane Russell. Today, I’m reviewing The Left Handed Gun starring Paul Newman.

The Left Handed Gun poster

In 1955 Gore Vidal wrote a teleplay for The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse called The Death of Billy the Kid.  It starred Paul Newman as Billy the Kid.  Several years later Vidal’s teleplay would be used as the basis for Leslie Stevens’ screenplay for The Left Handed Gun.  Originally, James Dean was cast to play Billy the Kid for this movie but he died in 1955 and the studio cast Paul Newman as Dean’s replacement.

Many critics of this movie believe star Paul Newman was miscast.  Newman, at the time, was 33 years old and seen as too old to play the teenage Billy the Kid.

I originally watched this movie back in the late ’90s when I was trying to watch as many movies that had Billy the Kid in it as I could find.  I thought, “Paul Newman as Billy? This should be pretty good.” However, I was wrong.  You can tell that this screenplay was written for a younger actor.  Dean probably would have been able to pull off the “troubled teenager” bit a little more convincingly than the mid-30 year old Newman.  But even with a more convincing lead, this movie is just boring.  Newman’s Billy seems like a petulant child and the events transpiring barely registered in my consciousness.  By the time the movie was over (what felt like 6 hours later) I had forgotten most of the story.  Plus, Billy’s “love interest” shows up half way through the movie and all of sudden they are in love.  It’s weird.  She’s played by Lita Milan, and she’s pretty, but she has a very distracting haircut; the infamous femme-mullet.  The whole movie feels like a jumbled collection of boring scenes capped off with a very unsatisfying ending.

Billy the Kid tintype

Per the movie’s title, for many years Billy the Kid was believed to be left handed.  The mistake occurred because the one known/verified photograph of Billy the Kid (above) was a ferrotype (or, tintype) which portrays a mirrored image of the subject.  Unfortunately, publishers over the years reproduced this photo in numerous books “as is” and didn’t document the fact that we are looking at the mirror image of Billy the Kid.  This led to the mistaken belief by many people that Billy was left handed (as that’s where his gun is holstered in the photo).  Extensive expert photo analysis has concluded that Billy wasn’t left handed and this image is in fact reversed.

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Billy the Kid Week 2010: Review of Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw (1943)

Posted in Billy the Kid, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , on August 9, 2010 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

Welcome to the beginning of Billy the Kid week where I will watch and review a bunch of movies featuring the historical character Billy the Kid. This started with the 20th birthday of Young Guns II on Aug 1.  It will continue throughout this week and will include a review of Young Guns which turns 22 years old on Thursday, Aug 12.

The first movie I’ll review for Billy the Kid Week will be Howard Hughes’ infamous The Outlaw from 1943.

The Outlaw

This movie introduced audiences to the gorgeous Jane Russell.  The movie became highly controversial and extremely famous for the battle Hughes had in trying to release it.  At the time, movie makers followed what was called the Hays Code which was a set of strict guidelines that movie makers had to follow when portraying women, their clothing and sex.  In making this movie, Hughes completely ignored this code.  Howard Hughes produced this movie (even co-directing it with Howard Hawks) and used it to push the boundaries of what a movie could show…sex-wise.  Hughes picked Russell because of her looks and even designed a brand new bra to contain Russell’s breasts (however she refused to wear it).

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