Monday, September 27, 2010

The Vault Mourns Giant Gonzalez

The colorful world of pro graps lost a legend last week in Jorge "Giant" Gonzalez, a man perhaps best known for being monstrously tall and wearing a furry full-body spandex suit airbrushed with muscles and a butt crack.

Although he left us at the all-too-young age of 44, Gonzalez is not just another tragic early wrestling death, done in as so many others have been by a steroid-enlarged heart tapping out after a (half) lifetime  of coke, booze, and freebasing enough pure dinosaur tranquilizer to kill God. Rather, he seems to have died because he was simply too big for this world. Also, diabetes. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Countdown: The Top 10 Tunes from Mega Man 2

Mega Man 2 is one of the best video games of all time. As a kid, I was absolutely taken with the Mega Man franchise, and the games still hold a special place in my heart even as the series spirals more and more into a vortex of impenetrably strange Japaneseness. Years and countless sequels later, the Blue Bomber now celebrates vanquishing another Robot Master by flashing an anime-riffic peace sign accompanied by a 4-year-old Japanese girl screaming "Yah-sho!" as his eyes turn into those little upside-down letter U's (not really). But even if I can't really enjoy some of the newer games (though, the Zero series was awesome if retarded hard), I can still fondly reflect on the golden days of my childhood, when I spent hours upon hours in front of the old NES trying to beat Mega Man 2.

It's because I spent so much time playing this game as a kid that this list exists. You try playing this game for any amount of time without noticing the ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING SOUNDTRACK. Now imagine hearing these dope jams on loop for days on end. Even back then, I knew the soundtrack to this game was some next level stuff - King Shit, if you will - especially given the fact that the majority of NES game music consisted of artless beeps and boops (the likes of which can still be found today whenever someone plays video games on a TV show). 

Great music has gone on to become a Mega Man series trademark, but I'm still of the opinion that this game has still yet to be surpassed by any of its many sequels as far as the tunes go. It's an 8 bit Magnum Opus. I'd even go as far as saying that no video game since this one has offered up an original soundtrack that was quite so awesome across the board, let alone better. And that's saying something, considering this game came out in 1988. My hat is off to composers Takashi Tateishi, Manami Matsumae, and Yoshihiro Sakaguchi - if the world ever needs to be saved using only a 1980s Casio keyboard, these are the folks to call.

So let's see what makes it all so awesome, then. Keep in mind, as all of these tunes are pretty spectacular, the following list is less for strict ranking purposes and more along the lines of "Hey, if you've never heard them before check these awesome old video game tunes out." Submitted for your approval in Countdown Format, Mega Man 2's Top 10 Tunes - after the break.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Top Five Best Things About "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" is one of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone, which is one of the undisputed greatest TV series of all time. If you don't agree with that statement, you don't belong in my readership (but thanks anyway for the hit!). Back when the TV biz was nowhere near as established (or corrupt) as it is now, much of the programming that found its way beamed into living rooms across America was essentially glorified filler made to take up time in between commercials (as opposed to now, when... wait). I sometimes like to tell myself that anyone with a camera, a script, a group of people to fill in as actors, and at least half a clue could have made history in the burgeoning picture business of this era. This is because I equate every writer and director of this era with Ed Wood for some reason.

Enter Rod Serling (shown here as the innovator of the old "arrow through the head" gag), who would have been better than you no matter when he was born no matter what you think. He was one of those ridiculously prolific types who can churn out works of irrefutable depth and profound social resonance at breakneck pace and on no budget (which, other than the "irrefutable depth and profound social resonance" part, actually sounds exactly like Ed Wood).

Don't get me wrong - just like any anthology series, there are more than a few Twilight Zone eps that could be generously described as clunkers (and the Serling-penned Night Gallery segment "The Nature of the Enemy" is actually one of the worst things I've ever seen). But the man wrote 148 of these episodes, among a ton of other things, many of which I love the shit out of, so I'll balk at calling him an overhyped hack and settle for "creative genius." Remember, kids, on the internet you're either one or the other.

But before I really digress and this turns into another Hood of Horror epic, let's just hurry up and get down to ranking the top five best things about "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."

And by the way - you can fully watch this episode on YouTube.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror

I'm gonna start this blog off right - with this monster-sized, probably too long to read, screen-heavy (for the skimmers) writeup of Snoop Doggie Dogg's best starring vehicle since Soul Plane.

It's hard to believe an anthology horror movie heavily featuring Snoop Dogg could exceed expectations, but Hood of Horror is even more spectacular than I ever dared hope. I stumbled across this gem after catching the tail end of Tales from the Hood on BET the other night, and I don't know what inspired this unrelenting block of awesome in BET's programming, but I would have been a fool to not gorge myself on so much inner-city terror.

I'm just gonna throw this out there: urban-tinged genre movies are nothing new, but there's no genre that benefits from a hood sensibility more than horror. This probably has to do with the fact that both hip ho
p and horror are at their absolute best when they're at their most over the top. And Hood of Horror is so over the top it's impossible not to enjoy. This is that rare film that's at its best when it's not even bothering to make sense. And even when it's at it's worst, the movie still features Snoop Doggie By God Dogg as a soul stealing demon of the ghetto, the promise of which probably got this project the green light on its own. Hell, I know I would've signed off on that pitch.