Four guns are unholstered for The Sixth Gun: Sons of the Gun, but this spin-off prequel story in The Sixth Gun saga misfires with its audaciously aimed showdown that pits one giant monster (we're talking 10 stories tall, here) versus cursed gunslingers to close this five issue series. Before we reach that point, a weird wild west storyline unfolds along different paths as each gun's owner brings us back to General Hume's hanging-tree demise starting point and onto their own slides down the slippery slope of perdition.
Each gunslinger can shoot bullets drilling deeper than mere death in their targets: Arcene's bullets carry firey doom; Kinney's bullets bring flesh-rotting ruin; Hedgepeth's bullets bring forth all the souls he's killed as golem-like vassals to do his bidding; and Sumter's bullets explode like cannonballs. A formidable firepower of destruction when directed by the evil General Hume or his soon to be widowed wife, the equally evil Missy Hume. She carries a cursed gun too, but in proper female stereotyping for comic books written by the boys, she only gets a youthful long life for every person she kills with her bullets. How vain.
Sumter wields the first gun, but it doesn't do him much good as he slowly dies of thirst in the desert. A lucky break with an Arabian Nights-styled Waters of Azad fountain hidden in the air, and a pack of human wolves hungering for its treasure, saves him for worse things to come. But he likes it that way, honing his mettle for destruction as the bodies stack up.
One by one, we come to really dislike, hope for salvation, strive to understand, and finally condemn these wicked men. What's not probed is why they must be so bad, but bad things they must do, and there's the more engrossing tale set against a little Cthulish ghoulishness with Arcene's mama making naughty with dark, demon-hided, men deep in the swamp. She looks like the Crypt Keeper, just not as witty and a tad more churlish. Arcene's family tree certainly does show more appendages than the normal allotment for siblings. But this interlude into his questionable parentage doesn't go further than his abrupt dislike for it before we're following Kinney as he suffers the pangs of unrequited love, gun-toting guilt, and the burden of a severe physical deformity causing ordinary folks, and would-be lovers, to shun him like the plague, which he pretty much resembles.
But a heartbeat is all we get to ponder the vagaries of his tribulation before we're following Hedgepeth and his battle with creatures infecting a small town. His gun leads him to the only solution he can figure out for the time allotted. Then off to the showdown with a plague of parasitic monstrosities that Brian Churilla's soft lines can't convey beyond a PG tone. Throat-ripping upchucked creatures, half-eaten men, they all carry as much visual gravitas as Arcene's family-gathering in the swamp. There's no oggling his pencils for emotional shock value; there isn't any where it could add to the scene's impact.
Instead, all threads within this hurried storyline, when they could easily have been separated into fully developed series indivdually, all culminate in a brief Kaiju battle more suited to a tokusatsu drama than a weird wild western. And since none of these gunslingers grows in size, like Ultraman, to meet the danger, the threat is spent with a few bullets so Missy Hume can step in and take charge to shed more blood.
Unless you've read the earlier issues of the comic book series, or the graphic book collections, you may find this one unsatisfying all by its lonesome. I'd recommend reading the others first to come up to speed before tackling this one.
A bit of promotional stretching here: 2019: After the Fall of New York is the correct title for this 1983 Sergio Martino directed opus. John Carpenter's 1981 Escape from New York must have done well at the Mexican box office, so why not fake a sequel to make a few more bucks?
So...I Survived the Zombie Apocalypse and All I Got Was This Podcast is about perky, nubile, blond and boxom, podcasting Mara Mitchell, who loves gardening and making new friends when all her old ones are dead. All her potential new friends are dead, too, but they like it that way and don't want her company.
Cue the zombie apocalypse peppered with satirical moments as Mara is forced to leave her cozy, walled-off, townhouse when a snake bite sends her to the drug store. Only she never reaches the drug store. Instead, she finds out what's been going apocalyptic while she's been gardening and podcasting. Unfortunately, Chris W. Freeman and Korey Hunt can't make what's been going down around her as clever as the title of this graphic book.
I'm starting to think too many writers and artists in comic books are inbreeding at an alarming rate. Here's another cool premise shot to hell with the same stereotypical sexism, the same half-baked humor without zest or visual flair, and the same character types recycled by very good, good, and not so good artists--five too many to keep the story flowing evenly across the pages. This is the let-the-panel-do-the-talking type of graphic novel, so dialog and written narrative are sparse, but much needed to flesh out Mara and her zombie neighbors. Her zombie neighbors are all women and that's the kicker to this premise: even they can't stand her, but since they only eat the male zombies, they leave her alone.
Until she wants to make friends, that is; first the pretend zombie dress-up for the dead party, but that doesn't go well when her nerdgirl takes charge, then it's a pissing contest between the mangy dog that can't keep its leg down, and the lady deadites against the human, leading to a full-blown Rambo onslaught when a trap is sprung with roller-skates and a mannequin. Goofy, but not smart funny; just stupid-funny.
Mara's hookup with old chum, Lisa--she's really dead, like non-reanimated corpse dead--leads to an odd, one-sided buddy-buddy reunion. That's a little smart-funnier. But not much.
So much for swearing off found footage horror movies. When Mladen Milosavljevic messaged me on Facebook offering his movie, Naprata, for review, I could have declined but I didn't. I'm more open to watching foreign horror movies because their tempo, their tone, and their cultural nuances tend to make them more interesting and less standardized than the American made fare; at least when they are at the beginning of a potential franchise cycle anyway.
Ad-libbed dialog, the use of a non-professional Canon camcorder, and a simple storyline setup, all combine to make this hour-long movie about local legends and a clear lesson in what you shouldn't do when told, repeatedly, not to do it an effective little chill.
There's a silent demon we see briefly; enough to know he's badass as hell. There's also an odd, matter of fact attitude conveyed by the local villagers about the demon and his good and bad sides: a yes-he's-real-but we've-learned-to-live-with-him-around-here attitude that is either intentionally directed or accidentally produced from the ad-libbing, but either way it works to create the necessary should we or shouldn't we situation for the newsteam from Belgrade.
The movie is in need of trimming--the interview with Kaleja (which is the actor's name)--goes on a little too long. Also needed was a less shaky-cam approach: the premise has a seasoned newsteam going around interviewing people about violence against women. I would expect an experienced news cameraman to set up his framing better than how the camcorder is utilized here, especially when filming people around a table where the framing would be less mid-shot and close-ups--causing a lot of unnecessary panning back and forth to each person speaking--and more wide-shot with a 3 to 4-shot framing, smoothly combined with zoom-ins for dramatic effect where appropriate.
What's not needed is better acting. It's natural and near cinéma vérité flow here is provided by Baco (Marko Backovic), Ivana (Ivana Bogdanovic), the strange and yet inviting Guardian of the Cemetery (Dusan Colakovic), and everyone else in this micro-budget, three-day, exercise in minimalist horror.
The Professor (Branko Radakovic) is even stranger and less inviting, and we never fully understand his intentions. He refuses to talk about violence against women, sees cats that aren't there, and knows way too much about local lore. The newsteam goes to him to continue their interviewing in the Serbian Village where Kaleja hit his mother with a tray. It is Kaleja's bad behavior, now very popular on FaceBook, that brings investigative reporter Ivana to the village. Ivana is serious, but her crew, including Backo who pees in odd places (he must be the producer) aren't that enthusiastic until the Professor detours their investigative reporting with tales of local vampire lore. Ivana loses control as Baco and her shaky cameraman insist on meeting another odd pair of villagers who tell more tales, of a demon called Naprata. And, oh yes, you can easily summon him with little food offerings or an evil task. But you must be absolutely quiet or he will not be a happy camper, okay?
Here's a wonderfully evocative window card for a monster-filled spook show. At the top is blank space (more than shown in this photograph) to accomodate the local theater's location, and the date and time for the show. This generic card touts the monsters to appear live on stage, but not who would be playing them.