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AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: Goober and the Ghost Chasers (1973)

Posted in cartoons, ghosts, monsters, pop culture, TV shows, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2017 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to talk about the cartoon series Goober and the Ghost Chasers.  It was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired in late 1973.  It was created to capitalize on the popularity of Scooby-Doo.

Much like Scooby-Doo, the show involved a group of teenagers and their dog driving around solving mysteries.

Goober, obviously, was the dog.  He had similar mannerisms to Scooby.  Sort of a coward.  Very goofy and jokey.  He talked.  But it’s interesting, it’s not directly acknowledged in the cartoon if the teens can understand Goober when he talks.  They talk to Goober, but when Goober talks, it’s usually directly to camera and the teens never give any indication that he talked or that they heard he talked.  It’s weird.  The teens were Ted, Tina and Gilly.  The teens worked for a supernatural investigation magazine called Ghost Chasers.  Obviously Ted = Fred.  Tina is very much a cross between Daphne and Velma.  And Gilly is sort of his own thing.  He’s Goober’s closest human companion.  He’s not a stoner or a coward.  He doesn’t love to eat.  He’s the photographer for the magazine.  In some ways like Shaggy but in most ways he’s different.  Gilly is probably the most annoying.  I like everyone else.

The mysteries this crew investigate usually wind up having a real supernatural aspect to them. As in real ghosts and real monsters as opposed to Scooby in which the mysteries had a basis in reality.  Plus, for some reason, Goober can turn invisible. He can’t control it, and it usually happens when he gets scared, but it happens.

Like Scooby, many episodes would have “special guests” show up to help solve crimes.  For at least half of the one and only season the Ghost Chasers crew were joined by the Partridge Kids (Danny, Laurie, Tracy, Chris, seen below in the middle).

The Partridge kids were voiced by the actual actors; Danny Bonaduce, Susan Dey, Suzanne Crough and Brian Forster.  For some reason, around episode 11, the Partridge Kids disappear and never make another appearance.  However, don’t feel bad for them, about a year later they would get their own cartoon series.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Frighteners movie novelization by Michael Jahn (1996)

Posted in books, Genres, ghosts, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2017 by Paxton

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On Friday I talked about one of my favorite ghost movies, Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners from 1996. Well, as luck would have it, they released a movie novelization for it.  It was written by Michael Jahn.

 

I Read Movies

So, I recorded a very special Halloween episode of I Read Movies all about this novelization. I talk about extra scenes, I talk about new plot points, there’s even a good bit explaining the nature of the movie’s ghosts. Lots of good stuff to hear, so either download the latest episode of I Read Movies on iTunes and Google Play or listen to it right here.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Frighteners (1996)

Posted in Genres, ghosts, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2017 by Paxton

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Today I finally get to talk about The Frighteners by Peter Jackson starring Michael J Fox.  I’m trying to remember how I first found out about/watched this movie.  I’m fairly certain I did not see it in the theater as I would have been still in college and this particular movie wouldn’t have got me or my friends into the theater.  Plus, I don’t actually remember it in the theater.

I’m pretty sure I found out about it later. The draw for me would have been Michael J Fox in a horror comedy. I’m also fairly certain this would have been my first exposure to Peter Jackson as well. I probably caught it on DVD sometime in 1998 or 1999.  And I loved it.

The movie is about Frank Bannister, played by Michael J Fox.  He can see ghosts. He uses this ability to fleece money from people as a “psychic investigator”.  However Frank stumbles upon a rash of recent killings that look to be linked to a murder that happened decades earlier and he’ll need to use all of his supernatural skills to solve the murder before he becomes the next victim.

That’s the basic synopsis.  Lots more is going on here.  Let’s take a look at the movie.


Opening title card.


This is the Bradley House. At one time it was Fairwater Hospital/Sanatorium.  It was the site of the Bartlett/Bradley murders.  Now it’s mostly closed and abandoned.  The only people living here are Patricia Bradley and her mother.


As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a big fan of this movie. I want you to know that upfront before I talk about the opening of the movie. The opening is a very exciting set piece within the Bradley house. We see Patricia being chased by a ghost that is materializing within the walls of the house. It’s a fast paced chase with some pretty great effects for 1996.  And Patricia, played by Dee Wallace Stone, seems pretty terrified.  Eventually the ghost materializes under the carpet on the stairs and grabs her just as her mother appears with a shotgun and blows away the part of the carpet where the ghost’s head would be.  It’s a nice, thrilling beginning to the movie.  However, once you get to the climax of the movie, it ultimately makes no sense.  At all.  Even Peter Jackson admits this opening is a cheat.  It’s ostensibly one of the bigger problems with the movie, but honestly it never really bothered me.


Easter Egg Alert!  We learn some backstory about Patricia and her boyfriend, Johnny Bartlett, in a sequence featuring a “real crime” video one of the main characters is watching. This is the cover of the video. The picture of the couple on the left is supposed to be a photo of Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey as their characters in Jackson’s previous movie, Heavenly Creatures.


Patricia’s mother the very next morning after the above opening sequence and she’s sporting a hairdo in what looks to be an unsubtle homage to Gary Oldman in Coppola’s Dracula which was only 4 years before this.


Michael J Fox plays Frank Bannister. A man that has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts.  As I mentioned he uses this ability to con people by working with ghosts to haunt houses so they have to hire him to “exorcise” the ghosts.  Fox is pretty great as the lead.


These are the ghosts that work with Frank; Cyrus and Stuart. Cyrus is a 70s disco gangster and he’s played by the great Chi McBride. Stuart is sort of a nerdy guy played by Jim Fyfe who, to me, is probably best known for hosting/producing those “Buy Me That!” series of PSAs about how commercials use camera trickery to make their products appear more attractive.


This is another ghost working with Frank, “The Judge”. Judge is an Old West gunslinger/sheriff played by John Astin.  He is sort of decrepit, his ectoplasm is drying up, and he has trouble keeping his jawbone in.


Frank starts seeing spectral numbers carved into people’s heads.  At first he thinks his ghost associates did it but we learn they didn’t.


Great cameo by R Lee Ermey as Sgt Hiles. He protects the cemetery and is essentially playing his character from Full Metal Jacket.


Here’s the ghost that Frank is up against. This ghost is killing people by appearing out of the walls and squeezing their hearts until they die.  The Judge calls him the Soul Collector.


Jeffrey Combs is excellent as Special Agent Dammers. Dammers is an expert in parapsychology. His work with cults has rendered him a bit…insane.


At one point The Judge humps a mummy.


“Dr Teeth” Jake Busey plays Johnny Bartlett with much scenery chewing.

Those are just some of the highlights.  Like I said, I quite adore this movie.  Fox is great.  I think, for the most part, the effects are great, especially for 1996.  And it’s got this fun horror-comedy vibe that I just dig.

The movie does pose several questions in the nature of it’s ghosts.  One of the biggest issues I’ve had for years is that the ghost that’s committing the murders is WAY more powerful than ghosts like Stuart and Cyrus.  As a matter of fact, Sgt Hiles also seems way more powerful than Stuart and Cyrus.  Why is there a difference?  Are there different classes of ghosts?  What are the rules?  The movie doesn’t really spell any of that out.  For the most part, this lack of clarity doesn’t really hurt the movie, but those of us that have watched it many times can’t help but wonder what’s up.

I acquired the movie novelization to The Frighteners which is written by Michael Jahn.  I was hoping it would address some of my concerns.  On Monday check out my review of said novelization on a brand new episode of I Read Movies where we’ll see if any of this ghost business is explained.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Real Ghostbusters S4E2 – Flip Side

Posted in cartoons, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2017 by Paxton

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Okay, so the last two episodes of The Real Ghostbusters I talked about (Take Two, Citizen Ghost) were super meta and attempted to deal with some issues of canon pertaining to the cartoons and the movie.  They were fun and interesting episodes.

Now, let’s take a look at a later episode that isn’t all “canon-y” and is just a cool episode that I had heard about but never seen.


Season 4 Episode 2 – Flip Side.  I forget where I first heard of this episode.  I thought it was over on Shawn’s website when he was doing animation cels for Halloween several years ago.  I could have sworn he had a Peoplebusters animation cel. The Peoplebusters are the ghost world version of the Ghostbusters.  It was such an awesome concept that I’ve been wanting to watch the episode in which they were introduced for years.  But I couldn’t find the animation cel on Shawn’s site, so maybe it was in the comments of an unrelated episode of the show.  I’m not sure.


This particular episode is during one of the later seasons where they changed the show name to Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters.


In this episode the guys are taken via a dimensional storm to an alternate New York called Boo York, aka The Big Pumpkin.  It’s a flip universe populated by ghosts.


The guys go to their headquarters to figure out what’s going on and see things are very different. I love that the Peoplebusters sign has Egon in the cross bar.


The guys walk into the building and they run into this universe’s version of themselves…The Peoplebusters!  Yes!  Ghosts who hunt people!  I’ve always loved the idea of antagonists that are the reverse of the protagonists.  Sherlock Holmes/Moriarty.  Flash/Reverse Flash.  Ghostbusters/Peoplebusters.  I love it.


Since the Ghostbusters are humans in the ghost world, they seem to have all the abilities that ghosts do in our world. The very first of which is, they can fly.  The guys spend the episode learning about being people in a ghost world all while being chased by the Peoplebusters.


Here’s the containment unit the Peoplebusters use. It’s a giant awesome metal skull that “eats” the humans.


This is the Peoplebuster’s Ecto-1. And I think it’s kind of badass.  The Ghostbusters really need to take notes on this one.  It’s like a Mad Max vehicle raped a Batmobile.

Not only is this a very good episode, the visual design of the alternate Boo York is superb.  I highly recommend watching this episode if you haven’t.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Real Ghostbusters S1E10 – Take Two

Posted in cartoons, Ghostbusters, ghosts, monsters, nostalgia, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2017 by Paxton

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Since I’m doing ghosts this year for Halloween, I thought I really needed to discuss Ghostbusters in some way.  I didn’t want to review the movie, that’s been done a million times.  I didn’t want to review the sequel either.  There aren’t any Ghostbusters novels to read (I’ve talked about that as well) and I seriously considered talking about last year’s Ghostbusters reboot. However, I decided to discuss the cartoon based on the movie:  The Real Ghostbusters.

I talked about The Real Ghostbusters cartoon before when I explained the difference between it and Filmation’s Ghost Busters.  I’m a fan of the show. It’s not one of my holy sacred childhood things but I do like it quite a bit.

I noticed recently Netflix added 5 seasons of The Real Ghostbusters to its streaming service so I decided to check out a few episodes since I hadn’t watched it in so long. There were a few episodes that I’d heard about and never watched so I decided to use this opportunity to check them out.  I’ll review each of these episodes separately throughout this month.

So, let’s start with the first one on my list…

I’d heard that J Michael Straczynski wrote several of the first season episodes of the show.  Straczynski is a well known comic writer and novelist.  Two of these early season 1 episodes I’d heard about were super meta involving the first Ghostbusters movie and how it connects to the cartoon.  This sounded super interesting to me so I thought I’d check them out.  The first of these episodes was…


Season 1 episode 10. Take Two. In this episode, Hollywood is going to make a movie about the Ghostbusters. So the guys are flown out to LA to be consultants for said movie.


While flying out to Hollywood I guess Venkman was harrassing the flight attendant because Egon mentions that she threw Peter’s suitcases out of the plane while they went over Cleveland.


The guys arrive in LA and we of course get a gratuitous Hollywood sign appearance (But it looks like it’s in the Grand Canyon for some reason).  The guys get a look at the cast list for the movie and are less than impressed. Winston reads out, “Murray, Ackroyd and Ramis? Is that a law firm?”


Oh yeah, Slimer tags along on the trip and once in LA the first thing he does is chase Carmen Miranda? WHAT?


While on the movie set an old “sleeping ghost” is awakened. A sleeping ghost hates noise so any time he hears loud noises he goes berserk. The sleeping ghost inhabits a giant robot prop from a space movie set and goes on a rampage across the movie studio lot trying to shut everyone up.  You know, making a LOT MORE NOISE while trying to get everyone to MAKE LESS NOISE.


The guys’ proton packs are accidentally switched with props so when they try to bust the ghost, nothing happens.


Slimer happens to bump into the poster for the Ghostbusters movie they are making.


We are on a movie studio lot so there are several scenes of the guys hanging out on different movie sets. Here Winston, Ray, and Slimer chill out on a western set.


After capturing the sleeping ghost the guys dress up in tuxes and attend the movie premiere.


While sitting in the theater you see actual film footage from the 1984 Ghostbusters movie including Venkman’s voice saying lines from the opening scene (the lines are dubbed by another actor, however). Peter even looks at the screen and says that Bill Murray looks nothing like him.

This was a wonderfully meta episode.  I quite enjoyed watching this one and seeing how the cartoon handled the idea of a movie being made of the cartoon.  J Michael Straczynski wrote one other “metafictional” episode right after this.  I’ll review it next.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: Ghosted by Joshua Williamson (2013)

Posted in comic books, ghosts, monsters, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by Paxton

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Today I want to talk about a comic book called Ghosted. It was released in early 2013 and was written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Goran Sudzuka.

Ghosted is about a professional thief, Jackson Winters, who is said to be able to steal anything. During Winters’ previous heist something went horribly wrong, his entire team was killed and he found himself in jail. Winters is busted out of jail by the very wealthy Markus Schreken to do a job. Markus is a collector of all things occult and supernatural. He wants Winters to break into the legendarily haunted and soon to be demolished Trask Mansion to steal a ghost.  Winters reluctantly agrees if he can pick his team.  But amidst doing the job, Winters discovers that several team members have other agendas and Markus’ task may not be as simple as first thought.

The story is rich with atmosphere. The characters are interesting. The plot is super exciting. Twists and turns, revelations, and double crosses.  It always keeps you guessing.  And with the progression of each volume, the stakes and the epicness of the world just increases.  It gets f’n BONKERS by the end.  The series ended on issue #20.  And it’s so much fun.  I definitely recommend this as a read.

I don’t remember how I first found out about Joshua Williamson. I think I’d read about Ghosted online sometime back in 2015. I thought it sounded like a “supernatural Ocean’s 11” and was immediately taken with the idea, so I read the first two trades. Right after this I started reading everything I could find by Joshua Williamson; Nailbiter, Robocop, Birthright. Devoured them all.  Then I eventually finished the series when the final two Ghosted volumes were released.

Williamson is great at darker tone type stories.  Nailbiter is a big recommend.  But if you want another “ghostly” tale from Williamson check out his Disney Kingdoms: The Haunted Mansion four issue series.  It’s pretty great too.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: Thirt13n Ghosts (2001)

Posted in Genres, ghosts, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2017 by Paxton

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Thirteen Ghosts from 2001 was a remake of a 1960 William Castle movie by the same name.  The remake took the basic story by Robb White and “modernized” it.  It was directed by Steve Beck who only has one other directing credit to his name…Ghost Ship.  From the very next year.  Not a stellar resume, to be sure.

13 Ghosts poster

Back in 2001, I was actually excited to see Thirteen Ghosts (aka Thirt13n Ghosts).  It looked like a cool stylized modern horror movie.  It had an awesome glass walled clockwork house and Shannon Elizabeth.  I had (actually have) quite a crush on Ms Elizabeth.  In 2001, the run up of movies she was in before this included American Pie, Scary Movie, American Pie 2, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  And she was…well, if not a great actress, she was likable enough.  And she is super attractive.

I remember kind of liking this movie when I saw it in the theater.  It wasn’t the greatest movie I’d ever seen but I remember liking the concept and the world the movie inhabited.

title card
As you can see this movie follows Se7en‘s lead of embedding numbers stylistically into the title.

Cyrus
F Murray Abraham plays Cyrus, a genius/psychotic ghost hunter obsessed with trapping ghosts.  He uses these glasses to actually “see” the ghosts which is a neat little inside joke to the original 13 Ghosts from 1960.  William Castle passed out glasses to audiences which allowed them to “see” ghosts in the theater.

Lillard 1 Lillard 2
Matthew Lillard and his favorite thick sweater (he loves those sweaters – see Scream, right) is in this movie as well playing a psychic that helps Cyrus trap the ghosts.  And also like in Scream, he loves to SHOUT ALL OF HIS LINES.  And yes, he says “Aw, man…” a few times.  Honestly, I’m poking fun at Matthew a bit, but I’m a fan of his.

house 2 house 1
At the center of this movie is Cyrus’ house. It’s designed to exacting specifications as seen in the book The Arcanum. The entire house’s purpose is to hold and store ghosts until it’s time to release them and start up “the machine” that exists in the middle of the house. All the construction materials and inscriptions in the glass are specifically to trap the ghosts inside.


This is Cyrus’ surviving family. Tony Shaloub is Cyrus’ brother-in-law, Shannon Elizabeth is Shaloub’s daughter and the chick on the left is the nanny for the little boy in the movie which I’m not showing you a picture.  They come to inherit the house when Cyrus dies capturing a ghost.

The Jackal ghost
There are 13 types of ghosts needed by Cyrus to pull off what he wants to do. They are referred to as The Black Zodiac.  This ghost is called “The Jackal”. It’s one of the more terrifying ghost designs.  Each of these ghosts were designed by the filmmakers and given complete backstories.  One of the things I love about this movie is how they really thought about the world this movie inhabits and really tried to flesh out some of the backstory even if that backstory would never be seen actually in the movie (see book pages below).  Wish they would have given this type of thought to the actual script.

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Pages from The Arcanum.  It’s in The Arcanum that is described the 13 types of ghosts.  The one on the left is the most powerful ghost called “The Juggernaut”.  The middle one is “The Jackal”.  The ghost on the right is called “The Hammer”.


All 12 ghosts gathered around the device about to open a portal to Hell.

So, watching it again, I feel the same.  The movie isn’t exactly terrible.  There are certain aspects like the house, the ghosts, how the machine works, that I like.  But other things like the script and the majority of the actors are just not very good.  Normally you’d think Tony Shaloub would be great, but he’s not.  He’s not terrible either.  But he’s not good.  And Shannon Elizabeth is barely in the movie.  The ones that get to really chew some scenery are F Murray Abraham and Matthew Lillard.  They get to have all the fun here.  And there’s a great set piece in the opening of the movie where they capture a ghost.  It’s thrilling and action packed.  Wish the rest of the movie could have been the same way.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.