Tag: William Katt

Hidden Netflix Gems – House

This is a film for hardcore fans of things like Tales from the Crypt, Stephen King novels, and the more horror-heavy pages of the classic Heavy Metal magazine. In fact, in many ways it is very much like a feature-length Tales from the Crypt episode, one that is especially heavy on the comic relief. Produced by Friday the 13th director Sean S. Cunningham and directed by Steve Miner, who helmed the first two sequels to that film, this is decidedly campy, deliciously cheesy and immensely satisfying B-movie fun.

Not to be confused with the 1977 Japanese cult movie of the same name, the 1986 film House (aka Ding Dong, You’re Dead, its original video release subtitle) stars William Katt as best-selling horror novelist Roger Cobb, a Vietnam vet who has been struggling with writing about his experiences in the war. One of his problems is that no one else seems particularly interested in this story, preferring he write another horror story instead, but more importantly, he is also dealing with the fact that his wife, popular TV actress Sandy Sinclair (Kay Lenz), has recently left him. Even more recently, his beloved Aunt Elizabeth (Susan French), committed suicide by hanging herself in her creepy old Victorian mansion, where Roger and Sandy’s young son Jimmy (played alternately by twins Erik and Mark Silver) disappeared some time ago. Roger inherits the house and decides to try and finish his new book there, in solitude, while also dealing with the demons of his past.

Of course, he doesn’t exactly find the solitude he’s looking for, due to a bumbling but well-intentioned neighbor named Harold Gorton (George Wendt), who provides much of the films comedy, and a series of strange monsters that seem to come from another dimension within the house, who provide the rest. Saying the monsters are more funny than scary is not a criticism of the film, however, as this is clearly intentional most of the time. Though the effects will look dated to viewers in the modern CGI era, they are quite well-done; they are not the nightmare creations of other films of the time like John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly, but they stand up nicely alongside more silly films like Ghostbusters or Gremlins.

As it turns out, Roger’s preoccupation with his Vietnam memories is especially relevant to the literal demons he faces in the strange old house, and though the film takes some rather dead-end narrative turns along the way, its central story is pure pulp horror in the most classic sense. House is not a good horror film to watch if you want something genuinely frightening, but if you’re in the mood for tongue-in-cheek fun that only takes itself seriously enough to deliver a few cheap scares, it’s well worth a look.

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series

We all know about the various superheroes that have found their way from the pages of DC and Marvel Comics into the world of live-action television series, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the like. The ones who often get short shrift, however, are the ones that have been created specifically for the small screen.

Remember Captain Nice? Mr. Terrific? Nightman? M.A.N.T.I.S.?

No…? Then you take my point: the costumed crusaders that originated from existing source material are the ones which have tended to remain in the public consciousness.

There is an exception to this rule, however, and we’re pretty sure the reason he hasn’t been forgotten is that, in addition to possessing the powers of flight, super strength, invisibility, and many others, he’s also the only made-for-TV hero who had a theme song that many of us still remember almost 30 years down the line:

Thank you, Joey Scarbury…but, also, thank you, Stephen J. Cannell, creator of “The Greatest American Hero,” for coming up with such an awesome concept for a series.

Ralph Hinkley (William Katt), a high school teacher, takes his class on a field trip and, after leaving them temporarily to go in search of aid for their van’s flat tire, encounters a UFO. Also present: FBI Agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp), who just happened to be in the neighborhood, as it were. The aliens present Ralph with a red suit and cape, inform him that wearing it will provide him with superhuman abilities, and tell him that he and Bill must work together to save the world. Sounds great…except that, while walking back to civilization, Ralph loses the instructions, leaving him uncertain as to exactly how the suit works. Cue 3 seasons and 44 episodes of superhero shenanigans, anchored by Culp’s delightfully grouchy performance and made even more watchable by the gorgeous Connie Sellecca, who plays Ralph’s girlfriend (and eventual wife), Pam.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Didn’t they already release this set awhile back?” Indeed, they did, but that was back when Anchor Bay held the rights to the series. Since then, the rights to most of Stephen J. Cannell’s series have come to Mill Creek…and if you focus really, really hard on the awesomely low price of this set, it may help offset the depression you experience when you learn that the bonus material from the previous Anchor Bay sets stayed with Anchor Bay. The only thing you’ll get here is a 20-minute interview with Cannell. It’s something, but when compared to the inclusions on the previous sets, it sure ain’t much. Still, if you really, really wanted “The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series,” you would’ve bought it back when it first came out. Since you apparently only kind of wanted it, though, this is the perfect chance to snap it up at a ridiculously reasonable price.

The only real drawback: you’ll never, ever get the theme song out of your head.

Click to buy “The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series”

New York Comic-Con 2009: The Wrap-Up

You know you’re on the right bus for Comic-Con when a guy comes aboard wearing a Flash t-shirt…and he’s followed a guy toting two enormous bags in which to carry swag…and then that guy is followed by Darth Vader.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe Lord Vader wasn’t actually on the bus with me, but he was most certainly present – and in various heights, weights, shapes, and sizes, no less – during the course of the New York Comic-Con, which took place at New York’s Javitz Center from February 6th through the 8th.

Our man Jason Zingale has been our resident San Diego Comic-Con attendee for the past couple of years, but Bullz-Eye was also in the house for last year’s NYCC, thanks to our man in New York, Jonathan Flax. (Granted, he’s often a quiet man, but he’s still there for us when we need him.) This year, however, I couldn’t resist the chance to take in Comic-Con for myself. The San Diego event takes place immediately after I’ve already spent two-and-a-half weeks in L.A. for the July TCA Press Tour, and by that point, I just can’t be away from my wife and daughter any longer; fortunately, the NYCC takes place long enough after the January TCA tour that I was able to feel comfortable heading out of town to attend. It was disappointing that I had to take in all of the sights, sounds, and events all by my lonesome, but lord knows there were plenty of other people with whom I was sharing the experience. I might’ve come by myself, but I was in no way alone.

Day 1:

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Heroes 3.1 / 3.2 – The Old One-Two Punch

“Heroes” is back, baby…and to celebrate, NBC gave us a one-hour recap special, followed by two brand-new, full-length episodes. Rather than waste time, let’s get to talking ’bout what happened, shall we?

Episode 3.1

After a close encounter with his niece which proves that Claire is still about as dumb in the future as she is in the present, FuturePeter jumps back to the day Nathan was originally going to reveal his powers to the world at large and attempts to change history with a couple of quick gunshots. I’ve already read a few bloggers who’re asking, “Why did he only go back to a few minutes before Nathan made his revelation? Why didn’t he go farther back and, y’know, catch Nathan in a less public place?” And, really, there’s only one answer to that question: because if he’d done that, then there wouldn’t have been much of a story. And, thus, FuturePeter pops a couple of caps in his brother…and successfully, no less. Yeah, we knew the bullets connected, but who would’ve thought that he’d really die? Not that it’s a permanent situation, but, still…

It was so nice to see Hiro getting back to being the same loveably funny and hopelessly heroic guy that we saw in the first season. The guy just loves to be a hero, and he can’t resist that instinct, no matter how many times Ando may plead with him to do otherwise. It was great when Hiro decided to open the safe despite his father’s posthumous order, only to meet with a second message from him. (“I asked you not to open the safe!”) So who has the purity of blood…? I loved the special effects used to designate the motion of the new speedster hero – c’mon, Hollywood, let’s get that “Flash” flick fast-tracked now, shall we? – as well as the way she cold-cocked him. (“But I am on my feet.” BAM!)

Sylar’s dialogue when he paid a call on Claire was deliciously villainous and comic-book-y, though I could’ve done without his awful description of his time spent south of the border. (“It’s all behind me now, like a long night after a bad taco”? Really?) The sequence with Claire wandering through the dark house, trying to avoid capture, was straight out of a grade-B thriller, but it was still effectively creepy, particularly when he finally succeeded. Okay, when he was first poking around in Claire’s head (literally), all I could think of was the scene at the end of “Hannibal,” when Dr. Lecter popped the top off Paul Krendler’s skull, but Sylar definitely got my attention…and Claire’s…when he said that she could never die. What, never…? (Well, hardly ever…)

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Heroes: Season 3 Preview

I have seen the first hour of the two-hour premiere of the new season of “Heroes,” and I’d just like to dispel a rumor that’s been floating around the ‘net: the episode does not begin with Sylar standing in the shower, assuring Claire that Season 2 was just a bad dream.

Poor Tim Kring. He’s spent the last year having to deal with non-stop comments about how the second season of “Heroes” didn’t live up to the expectations that had been set by the first season, so much so that he felt obliged to go on the record with Entertainment Weekly and apologize to the fans. But don’t feel too badly for him: Kring’s reputation is already on the mend, courtesy of this first hour of Season 3 (subtitled “Villains”), of which the producers of “Heroes” were so proud that they debuted it at Comic-Con way back in July.

Our man Jason Zingale was on the scene at the time…yes, that’s right, he saw it before I did, the bastard…but sadly for those who love their spoilers, he was willing to say precious little about what he’d witnessed.

“I’d like to talk more about what I saw, but I simply don’t want to ruin the experience,” he said, in his original blog entry. “All I’ll say for now is that it is mind-blowing, and it’s exactly what the series needs after season two was interrupted by the strike. Some cliffhangers are explained and others aren’t. New characters with powers are introduced, while older characters reveal new powers of their own. And perhaps most importantly, it’s all done with a comic flair that was sorely missing from last year’s mini-season.”

Having now seen it for myself, I have no arguments with any of his statements. It really does feel like a return to form for the series…though, of course, let’s be honest: given how long it’s been since we last saw a new episode of the show – can you believe the last one aired on Dec. 3, 2007? – isn’t it possible that our desire for more “Heroes” might be making us a little bit more forgiving than we might otherwise be?

Sure, it’s possible…but when you see it for yourself on Monday, I’m pretty sure you, too, will agree that the series hasn’t been this much like a live-action comic book since Season 1.

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