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Bats versus Bolts: Universal Horror

This review was requested by patron Mathom. If you’d like me to review a movie, please consider supporting my Patreon.

New Year, New Mouse, New Regular Feature!

This is Bats versus Bolts!

Someone ask me what Bats versus Bolts is.

“Sigh. What’s Bats versus…”

Glad you asked! Dracula and Frankenstein are two of the most famous and frequently adapted stories of all time. Hell, Dracula alone has been adapted…hang on let me just Google that…

Uh. No, Google. I’m pretty sure that’s not right.

Anyway, in every decade there are Dracula movies and Frankenstein movies that reflect the culture, trends and social forces that created them and I thought it would be cool to take two from each decade and pit them against each other in a no holds barred monster mash. So let’s start with the two most iconic versions, Universal’s Dracula and Frankenstein from the nineteen thirties.

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Happy New Year!

I don’t hold with New Year’s, personally, it’s just a fake holiday cooked up by Big Calendar. But I suppose it’s as good a time as any to take stock of everything that’s happened last year and check for structural damage.

So, 2018 was…mixed.

A better year than 2017, definitely. 2017 (for me) was just an series of unending failure, rejection and humiliation culminating in me hitting my lowest point since…ever, pretty much. 2018 on the other hand, was a series of sharp highs and lows and I’ll definitely take that over the alternative. If current trends continue, 2019 might actually be (whisper it softly now) good?

The bad was losses in the family, the occasional depressive episode and just the general mental and emotional wear and tear of living in a world run by an insane wall-obsessed golden tamarin.

“NO COLLUSION!”

So let’s talk about the good.

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“It’s a mutation. It’s a very groovy mutation.”

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Much like an awesome party where someone suddenly showed up with a suitcase full of tainted MDMA, the X-Men film franchise got real bad, real fast. From the dizzying (well) highs of X2 the franchise had laid two massive turds in a row and was now in the unenviable position of having exactly as many bad films as good ones (also known as the Star Trek ratio). What was to be done?

“REBOOT!”

“Well hang on there, let’s not just go with the most obvious knee jerk response let’s think about the best way to erase past mistakes and inject new life into…”

“GRITTY REBOOT?”

“Okay, good, good, we’re thinking outside the box now, let’s just try a little harder…”

“Urrrrrrrrrr…”

“YOUNG AND SEXY REBOOT!”

“YES! HE CAN BE TAUGHT!”

Alright, all joking aside, the idea for a movie about the early days of Xavier’s School for Gifted Child Soldiers had been knocking about since the shooting of X2, and as an idea it’s pretty damn bad. Making a movie about the earliest adventures of the X-Men is like making a movie about John Lennon and focusing solely on his time in the Quarrymen. That was the worst part. Virtually all the good stuff came later. For a while. Then things got really, really awful.

In this analogy, Rob Liefeld is Yoko.

But First Class also shares much of its DNA with what was originally going to be the second instalment of the X-Men Origins spin off series, Magneto. After Wolverine Origins bombed so hard that the box office was glowing in the dark, the ideas for Magneto were bundled up and worked into First Class.

So how does this grab-bag of sewn together bad ideas and discarded movie bits work as a film?

Surprisingly well! Except when it doesn’t. It’s complicated.

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Sly fox…

Hi guys. Firstly, thanks and welcome to new patron Felreign, a recurring villain in Marvel’s Eternals in the nineteen eighties. Fans would always look forward to his team-ups with main villain Ghaur, which would always result in Felreign betraying him, leaving Ghaur shaking his fist impotently and screaming “CURSE YOU FELREIGN!”

Also, my brother Dónal has a new music video out and it’s absolutely awesome. Check it out.

Why do we Irish drink so much? Foxes and peer pressure. Now you now.

Bill Maher on the death of Santa Claus

The guy who, for millennia, has flown around the world every Christmas to give presents to small children out of the goodness of his heart is dead, and America is in mourning. Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, give each other gifts, I guess. Someone on Reddit posted, “I’m so incredibly grateful I lived in a world that included Santa Claus.” Personally, I’m grateful I lived in a world that included oxygen and trees, and an entertainment industry where you can become a millionaire despite looking like your face was dunked in batter by an angry spouse, but to each his own. Now, I have nothing against gifts – I was given them now and then when I was a kid and I had kept my promise to stop torturing the dog. But the assumption everyone had back then, both the adults and the kids, was that gifts were for kids, and when you grew up you moved on to big-boy things like cocaine and never getting married because that’s a form of slavery.

But then two thousand years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended that gifts were actually something that grown up people give each other to express human emotions like gratitude and friendship and love. And because America has over 4,500 colleges – which means we need more professors than we have smart people – some dumb people got to be professors by writing theses with titles like All of the Other Reindeer-Rudolf as a metaphor for exclusion in the LGBT community. And now when adults are forced to do grown-up things like buy auto insurance, they call it “adulting,” and act like it’s some giant struggle.

This is all Santa Claus’ fault somehow.

I’m not saying we’ve necessarily gotten stupider although we definitely have and I, Bill Maher, am very smart and would make an excellent king. The average Joe is smarter in a lot of ways than he was in, say, the years before Santa Claus, when a big night out was dying of dysentry and a Carmen Miranda musical. The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff.

I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks Santa Claus was important, and as an entitled white male who’s constantly been rewarded for being a loud-mouthed asshole with ever greater money fame and influence I think I know what I’m talking about . I mean, Santa Claus? What’s he ever done for anybody? Has he embodied the worst caricatures of the liberal elite by basically embodying the Token Evil Atheist from a Left Behind movie? Has he aided the cultural polarisation of an entire nation?

Fuck Santa Claus, I hope he burns.

“No resurrections this time.”

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Every so often in superhero comics, a character will come along who is so ground-breakingly original, so instantly arresting, that they become an archetype. The obvious example is Superman. Supes shows up in 1938, and creates an entire genre. Every “Cape” type superhero follows in Superman’s footsteps, every “Cowl” has a bit of Batman (who, it must be said, got that bit from Zorro). Got an angsty teenage super-hero with real world problems the audience can relate to? Cut Stan Lee and Steve Ditko a check. When it comes to superheroes there are the archetypes, and the rest are copycats. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As I mentioned before, Black Panther, Daredevil and Moon Knight are all derived from Batman but manage to put a different enough spin on the archetype to be great characters in their own right.

And the villains have their archetypes too. And no villain casts a longer shadow in comics than the master of Apokolips, DARKSEID.

Who is DARKSEID? Fool. DARKSEID is.

See?

Jack Kirby spent much of his career in comics attempting to create a new American mythology with all new pantheons of gods and heroes. In DARKSEID, he created his Satan, a brooding, pitiless tyrant who can never truly be defeated because he is evil itself. DARKSEID is an archetype, and you don’t have to look far to find his descendants across all comic book companies big and small.

Oh what? You think I’m not going to use this to plug my own work? You must be confusing me with someone who has shame.

The most blatant (and admitted) rip off of DARKSEID is, of course, Marvel’s Thanos. He’s also the most interesting.

Whereas DARKSEID cares for nothing but himself, Thanos is usually depicted as something of a romantic, devoted utterly to the woman of his dreams. Unfortunately, the woman in question is Death itself whom Thanos tries to woo by eradicating as many of the living as possible. There is a kind of primordial mythic scope to that which I love. I mean, imagine you get transported thousands of years into the past and you got adopted by a local tribe and they asked you to tell them one of the stories of your people. And, as you crouch around the campfire, you tell the tale of the great giant Thanos who so loved death herself that he killed half of everything that lived to woo her, and still she spurned him.

That’s the kind of story cavemen would tell each other. It feels ancient and epic. It’s deep shit man.

And of course, that is the element that the producers of the MCU decided to do away with. Now, I’m on record as predicting that the whole MCU project was going to come a cropper because it was building to a final confrontation with Movie!Thanos and that he was a boring character, an awful villain and a terrible lover.

So. Here we are.

“Quit stalling.”

Yes, I was obviously wrong (uuuuugh what is this sensation I don’t like it) but, in my defence, I do still think that Guardians of the Galaxy completely mishandled Thanos. I just didn’t reckon with the Russo Brothers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely pulling out the mother of all salvage jobs. Cards on the table, Infinity War is by far my favourite Avengers movie and one of the best entries in the MCU thus far and, bizarrely, that’s mostly down to Thanos, the element I was most expecting to tank the entire endeavour.

How did they do it? Let’s take a look.

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Here is the news…

Hi guys,

Firstly, a very belated thank you to new patron PandorasHomeoBox, THE hottest club in New York from 1972 to 1987 before it burnt down during a wizard’s duel between David Bowie and Prince.

Second, in case any of you were wondering how my play reading went then I am happy to report that it went pretty darn well. Huge thanks to AboutFace Theatre, the cast and the NewVember Festival, legends all.

And lastly, long time friend of the blog Erik Copper is kickstarting his album and you should head over  and throw money at him. Make it rain up in there.

That’s yer lot, Mouse away!

New Patrons!

A belated thank you to these new patrons:

Isaacblue72, an AI from the future who came back in time to teach us all about the magic of future funk.

Ragnar Haukur Sverrisson, who ruled the Viking settlement of Dublin from 1041 to 1982.

Castiel Destler, villain of the relatively obscure but well regarded James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Mission to Russia with a View to a Deadly Kill. 

I’m sorry, I suck, also please support my play!

Mouse where the hell is the review this is an outrage!

Sorry! Sorry, I’m really sorry. I was on holiday over the weekend and this review just slipped the hell away from me. I’m really sorry, especially since Qwirkyproductions has been waiting for this review since the frickin’ Obama administration. I’ll be ready for Halloween, promise.

Okay, well…you watch yer ass. See you next week.

Actually there’s one more thing…

You have GOT to be kidding

So my play, The Caspian Sea, came back from Alaska leaner, meaner and with a white wolf companion that it goes on adventures with. And now it’s getting a staged reading as part of the Newvember Theatre Festival on November 9th in the New Theatre Temple Bar. If you live in Dublin (we few, we happy few), tickets are on sale now and I’d love to see your face.

The rest of you, I’ll see your faces on Hallowe’en.