Sunday, July 22, 2018

Chaser (2008)


This Korean film does not let you breathe.

It's a very straight story, about a kidnapper and the guy who tries to stop him. Of course, that's easier said than done, resulting in a cat and mouse chase that has you on the edge of your seat from beginning 'till end.

Will he stop him, or will he not? That's pretty much all there is to it. But if you're looking for an excellent thriller, this is about as good as it gets.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Green Room with Paul Provenza (2010)

Speaking of comedy, here's the best comedy talk show in existence.

It's a very simple concept, where a handful of stand-up comedians simply sit around shooting the shit. They'll swap war stories, reveal tricks of the trade, and debate current issues. Since they're all professional comedians, they're often competing with each other in adding one joke on top of another, resulting in a long stream of punchlines.

And the great thing is, that it's all done with an edge that's hardly seen anymore these days. They'll tackle "controversial topics" like race, gender and sexuality, while never afraid to smash political correctness to smithereens.

So in our current times, where everyone seems to get offended by absolutely everything, this show is a breath of fresh air, reminding us that there is still some sanity in the world.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

This movie is hardly a hidden gem. In fact, it's one of the best-known films in the world. So why the hell am I writing about this famous movie that everybody and their neighbor’s dog have already watched, on a blog about lesser known cult cinema?

Well, it's because it's misrepresented. That’s right! The film drew a lot of attention upon its release, and tons of journalists wrote about how it was based on a true story, and the illegalities of Wall Street, bla, bla, bla....

But you know what? Hardly anybody mentioned the fact that the film is fucking hilarious! Yep. It's almost wall to wall comedy, with one hysterical scene after the other. And clocking in at three hours, I honestly can't think of a single film that's consistently THIS funny for such a long time.

So yeah... people will tell you this is a "cautionary tale" and "crime movie" and all this kind of bullshit. But watch it again, and tell me you're not wiping tears of laughter?


Monday, July 16, 2018

The Endless (2017)

With all those posts on comic books complete, I'm back to writing about movies. And what better to start with, than exactly the kind of film this site was made for: A true hidden gem.

The Endless is a philosophical horror story of sorts, that's actually more interested in making you think, than scared. It's a clever tale about life and happiness and the joy of the unexpected, wrapped into a rather unconventional story about a religious cult of sort.

It's weird and wonderful in all sorts of ways, and the really great thing about it is that it never pretends to have all the answers, but leaves it up to you to draw your own conclusions.

It's also a sort of sequel to the film Resolution, but you don't really need to see that first. Actually, it feels like The Endless is more of a remake with a bigger budget, just like Robert Rodriguez's Desperado is a sequel/remake to El Mariachi.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Escape the Cape Part 7 - The horror

Written by Scott Snyder & Scott Tuft and illustrated by Attila Futaki
We start off lightly with a classic tale of terror.

Severed is a pretty much straight forward story about a kid being tortured by an evil monster. Think Dracula in a southern gothic setting.

There is nothing really groundbreaking about the book, and it follows genre tropes like domino pieces. But it's told in a captivating way that had me think of good old Stephen King, and at the end of it all I was left with a pleasant feeling of having read an all-around great piece of horror fiction.

Locke & Key
Written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez
Speaking of Stephen King: Here's a graphic novel from his son. Joe Hill changed his name so as to escape his father's shadow, and he's certainly been successful in that. So much so, that Locke & Key is probably the most well known of all these books, and Google is always sure to recommend it when asking for "Horror comics".

It's a high-concept story about magical keys that can supply supernatural abilities to whoever walks through the doors they open. And if that all sounds a bit childish to you, then you're right. It is a fantastic story for children to read, and I only wish I was 10 when I first discovered it.

Sullivan's Sluggers
Written by Mark Andrew Smith and illustrated by James Stokoe
This one is pure fun.

When a baseball team is invited to play a game in a remote village, they soon discover that all the locals has been turned into giant tentacle monsters. It's even sillier than it sounds, with ridiculous stereotypes saying cheesy one-liners as they fight outrageous beasts.

But hey, who doesn't love that?

Black Hole
Written and illustrated by Charles Burns
Now we're onto stranger things.

Black Hole is a weird kind of coming-of-age story, about a sexually transmitted disease of sorts, that has people growing extra limbs. It's not really about monsters though, but more of a tale about feeling like a visitor in your own skin and being out of touch with everyone else.

There's a surreal creepiness to it, that can best be described as if Donnie Darko was directed by David Lynch. A film adaptation also been long in the works, with several big names attached. Rupert Sanders (the director of Ghost in the Shell 2017) even made a short pitch video, which is actually kinda cool. It doesn't really make much sense without having read the comics, but you can check it out here to get an idea of what awaits you.

Written and illustrated by Junji Ito
Junji Ito is a master mangaka, with a whole range of fantastic horror epics. His most successful one is arguably Uzumaki, which is about a town where everyone gets obsessed by spirals.

The comic was also adapted to a very cool movie that I've already written about, however that production happened before the comic had come to its conclusion, and the whole story goes much further than what was shown in the film.

The images Ito conjures up are out of this world, and you owe it to yourself to see just how bizarre it gets.

Written and illustrated by Junji Ito
If that's not fucked-up enough for you, don't worry: Junji Ito takes things even further in Gyo. This time around, he'll introduced you to a range of dead fish which grow spiky spider legs and walk up on land. Soon they start infecting humans, who also grow extra legs along with freaky tubes from their ass and mouth. Seriously, The Human Centipede movies got nothing on this shit!

Good old Ito doesn't stop there either, and has a whole bunch of other fantastic comic. I highly recommend checking out Hellstar Remina, about a living star with a gigantous mouth that eats planets, as well as the short but brilliant Enigma of Amigara Fault which you can read in it's entirety here.

Written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Jacen Burrows
And while we're onto the sick stuff, why not see just how demented things can get?

Crossed is probably the most bonkers comic ever made, where insane panels like the one to the right is just run of the mill.

The story revolves around some sort of zombie-like outbreak, where the afflicted turns into over-the-top psychopaths. There's so much violence and mutilation and sex in these books, that it makes The Walking Dead seem like a Winnie the Pooh.

Seriously. This is some hardcore stuff.

The Goon
Written and illustrated by Eric Powell
Let's brighten things up again with more lighthearted entertainment.

The Goon is probably the closest thing you will find to an actual superhero comic in all these articles. While the titular Goon does not have superpowers, he is certainly an unrealistically strong hero that saves the day every other title. Still, these books are more of a silly romp that pays tribute to all kinds of classic horror fiction.

This is another one where a film adaptation has been in the works for ages, even with a successful Kickstarter campaign. but for now, the only thing that's come of it is this short promo.

The stories in the comics usually features a sweet ironic ending, and the drawings.. oh, man, you just gotta see them! Eric Powell is in a league of his own!

Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities
Written by Eric Powell and illustrated by Kyle Hotz
Everything Eric Powell touches turns to gold, and this is another of his must-read comics.

It's an ensemble piece with classical characters such as Dr. Jekyll, The Elephant Man, Victor Frankenstein, and the Loch Ness monster. And if that all sounds somewhat similar to Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, there is a major difference: Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities is fun!

No brooding, hyper-intellectual existentialism here. Just balls to the wall entertainment.

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse
Written and illustrated by Ben Templesmith
If you're in the mood for even more comedic horror, this series is about a worm that lives in a corpse. Now, I know what you're thinking:

"A worm in a rotting corpse? That sounds hilarious!"

And you are right, because it is.

The titular worm is a private detective of sorts, who goes around saving the world from different dooms, while jumping from corpse to corpse. There's robotic henchmen, magical tattoos, and so many tentacles.

Ben Templesmith has a unique drawing style which has later been copied by countless others, without anyone quite managing to reach the original awesomeness of Templesmith.

Rat God
Written and illustrated by Richard Corben
Another comics creator with a distinct style, is Richard Corben. Just like Templesmith, he too has a fascination for H.P. Lovecraft, and he's made a whole bunch of homages to the horror legend. Rat God is the best one I've found so far.

Similarly to Sullivan's Sluggers, the story is about a remote village where everyone has turned into monsters, however Corben's tale is actually quite creepy. Part of that comes from his excellent visual style, that is often as much about the spaces he leaves out.

Just look at how he illustrates this dark and mysterious road. Don't you just want to go there?

Written and illustrated by Paul Tobin and illustrated by Juan Ferreyra
And if going on wild adventures is your thing, Colder is sure to satisfy. It's an insane tale about insanity, with several dimensions of horror and monsters that draw their scariness by defying logic.

The artist has a flair for drawing fingers, and there's a whole bunch of people getting theirs cut off, as well as weird creatures consisting of nothing but interlocked digits.

There is also a story in there, about some guy who's been in a coma or something, but mostly, the series is just an excuse for drawing the most wonderful craziness. Especially vol.2, The Bad Seed, is really entertaining.

Negative Space
Written by Ryan K. Lindsay and illustrated by Owen Gieni
Kind of in the same vein as Colder, Negative Space is a monstrous headtrip which tries its best to make you insane. It's a rabbit hole of depression, where all your innermost fears are warranted and even a suicide note turns out to have evil implications.

But at the same time, it's also an engaging sci-fi adventure where men in black chase around secret alien creatures posing as human beings.

So what do you get when you combine these two elements? A really cool and fucked up journey into paranoia.

And Then Emily Was Gone
Written by John Lees and illustrated by Iain Laurie
This weirdly titled gem is yet another trip into hell, framed as a detective story.

The protagonist is a schizophrenic policeman who sees monsters everywhere. He tries his best to convince himself that it's all in his head, but the problem is that some of them might not be.

Add a missing child into the mix, an island of messed up locals, and heaps of trippy visuals, and you've got an illustrated version of The Wicker Man on acid.

Good stuff.

The Extremist
Written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Ted McKeever
This is the comic book which would make your mother furious if she found out about.

But if you prefer your horror to be on the existential side, look no further. The Extremist is all about sexual violence, except for when it is also a deep exploration the human psyche.

We follow a masked murdered who goes about killing people left and right, and we all understand that this is a horrible person, yet somehow the author also manages to make us sympathize with this monster.

The way we dive into the darkest of humanity with a kind of understanding, made me think of Cronenberg at his very best.


Seven Cannibals
Written by Sylvain Runberg and illustrated by Tirso

And if sympathizing with one single murderer might sound bad, then how about seven of them?

We've all seen innumerable Italian flicks about primitive bush people eating silly adventurers, but this little gem managed to put a new spin on the cannibal genre, in making it about suave jet-setters doing the eating. Think American Psycho with an appetite, and you've got an idea of where this is going.

But with such an wild concept, you'd think the story would easily slip into involuntary comedy, but the storytelling actually manages to make it both believable and engaging all the way till the end.

Highly recommended!

I am a Hero
Written and illustrated by Kengo Hanazawa
I thought it only appropriate to end these articles about comic books without superheroes, with the aptly titled I am a Hero.

Of course, the title is meant to be ironic, as this protagonist is not your typical hero. He's more of a bumbling fool who never knows what to do or say. The problem is though, that he's also in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, so he's simply forced to man the fuck up.

The artwork is quite amazing, and I'm pretty sure that most of the drawings are actually photographies which have been traced with a pencil, as almost every panel look completely real.

It's also a friggin' huge story which will take you quite a long time to get through. Luckily, it keeps the tension all the way, and gets really crazy towards the end there, so this is sure to keep you engaged for quite a while.

And that's it! Finally, I can go back to writing about movies =)

I might do another one of these comic book articles at some point, but for now I've brought you up to date with all the best comic books I've found so far. I'm sure there's loads of great ones still out there, waiting to be discovered, so don't hesitate to tell me what your favorites are

This is the seventh article about comic books without superheroes. The other parts can be found here:

Monday, June 4, 2018

Escape the Cape Part 6 - The Drama

Written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Brendan McCarthy & Carol Swain
I always enjoy authors who write unlikable protagonists, and the guy in this book is certainly no traditional hero. Not only is he a deformed Thalidomide baby (a real condition) but he's also a skinhead. Yeah... this is a book about a crippled neo nazi.

It sounds terrible, and it is. But the great thing is that the book portrays this guy as both a victim you naturally want to empathize with, as well as the most disgusting asshole that you would beat the shit out of... had he not been a cripple.

It plays tricks with your mind, and might even make you reconsider some of your values. And is that not the mark of genius?

Fashion Beast
Written by Alan Moore & Malcolm McLaren and illustraded by Antony Johnston  & Facundo Percio
Okay, so I know Alan Moore is recognized as one of the greatest comic book writers in the world, with his Watchmen being hailed as the most influential graphic novel of all time. But let me tell you a secret: I think he's quite overrated. Everything he does is so heavy and self-indulgent that I often find his books a bit tiresome to get through.

So it's not without reason that the only comic of his that I've ever really liked, is the one book he actually didn't write himself. Fashion Beast was apparently actually a movie script Moore wrote sometime in the 80s, and it wasn't until Malcolm McLaren adapted it to a comic book that it became published. And what a good thing that was, 'cause this thing is friggin awesome!

It has the feel of a Tim Burton movie, with clear similarities to Edward Scissorhands. The plot revolves not only around fashion, but also around who we are and how what we wear defines us. There's also a whole clusterfuck of twists that always keeps you guessing who's who.

Paying for It
Written and illustrated by Chester Brown
On the more controversial side of things, we have this little book which details the author's true experiences with prostitutes. Tired of having to deal with all the troubles of romantic relationships, he just decides to start paying for sex instead, and is all the more happy for it.

Naturally, this sparked quite a bit of protests, with some people calling the author all kinds of nasty things. However, anyone who actually sits down to read the book will have to admit that he does make quite a few excellent points. And if you don't agree with them, you are welcome to partake in an open discussion, which was just what the author intended.

Essex County
Written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Jeff Lemire is a favorite of mine (his Sweet Tooth being a must read for any comics fan) and Essex County was his first big hit.

It's classic drama in its truest sense, with fantastic characters that you really care about. They go through life with ups and downs, and I wouldn't be surprised if you found the pages smudged by a tear or two.

His illustrations have a distinct minimalist style, which fits perfectly with the icy setting of the Canadian Essex County. So if you're a winter person, then this is definitely one to pick up, especially if you also happen to be into hockey.

Written and illustrated by Ed Brubaker
Here's another auto-biographical work that will shake you with its honesty.

It's a coming of age tale about a pretty messed up kid who you probably once used to know. Maybe you went to school with him, or maybe he kept chasing you through the playground, or heck, maybe you played this part yourself. In some form or another, we all knew that one guy who always got in trouble and kept saying the most horrific things at the worst times.

In short: A lowlife.

The great thing is that the author doesn't try to make excuses or paint certain episodes with rosy colors. Instead, it's a true story about all the shoddy kids will do while still figuring out who the hell they are.

Written by Blair Butler and illustrated by Kevin Mellon
Anyone who's into MMA, UFC and all that jazz, will find something of a hidden gem in this book. It tells the story of an up and coming fighter who gives it all to become the best.

Kind of like an illustrated version of Rocky, the great thing is that the comic book goes way beyond the victories, and dives into the darker side of competing professionally. Accepting failure and learning to know your limits is something these Hollywood movies always likes to skip, but that also makes this book all the more interesting.

I've got one more article to write about comic books without superheroes, but it might take me a while to finish it because it will be the longest one. You veteran readers of this blog might have already guessed which genre it will explore ;)

This is the sixth article about comic books without superheroes. The other parts can be found here:
Part 6 - The Drama

Friday, May 25, 2018

Escape the Cape Part 5 - The funnies

Al's Baby
Written by John Wagner and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra
So it turns out that the comic books about Judge Dread, is not actually about Judge Dread. That's right, both the original comic where he first appeared, 2000 AD, and even the titular Judge Dredd Megazine, are books filled with strange stories which often have little or nothing at all to do with the tough superhero.

Some stories are quite dramatic, while others border on horror, and yet others are pure fun. Al's Baby is such a tale, which blends mafia with male maternity. Think The Godfather mixed with Schwarzenegger's Junior and you're on the right track.

It's every bit as silly as it sounds, but also quite a bit smarter. And the whole thing has been collected in a stand-alone book that's available on Amazon.

Lenore - The Cutest Little Dead Girl
Written and illustrated by Roman Dirge 
This is one of those childish little treats that's not really meant for children. The titular Lenore fully lives up to her claim of being just as cute as she is dead, and she's accompanied by a set of strange friends which may or may not be supernatural.

It's a bit like Calvin & Hobes set in a Tim Burton world, with stories that often ends in messed up moral lessons. The writer also like to spoof famous fairytales and has a soft spot for Edgar Allen Poe, so don't be surprised if there's also a bit of poetic injustice.

Officer Downe  
Written by Joe Casey and illustrated by Chris Burnham
If guts and gore makes you laugh, then this comic is for you. Similar to the fantastic film Dead Heat, Officer Downe is about a zombie cop that keeps coming back to life.

This guy is not a exactly a good cop though, as he basically just goes around slaughtering anyone who stands in his way. It could have been just another over the top policeman series, but what makes it so fun is how the artist does shy away from showing the brutality in all its brilliance.

Apparently they also made a movie out of it, but from checking out the trailer, it looks like it's not at all the same gorefest as the comic. But please do tell me if you've seen it and think it's worth seeking out.

The Pro
Written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Amanda Conner
Even though this comic is actually about superheroes, it's more of an anti-superhero book, as the wonderfully crude Garth Ennis explores the genius concept: What if the person who was selected to wear a cape was not actually a goody two-shoes prude, but rather a tired old whore?

The whole thing is filled with dick-jokes and fart-humor, poking fun at the ridiculousness of the whole superhero genre. Ennis would later go on to expand on this whole idea in a much longer series called The Boys, which is also somewhat entertaining, but feels quite dragged out. So you're much better just jumping into this one-book deal, and get a quick laugh at all the silly spandex-people.

Everything Can be Beaten
Written by Chancre Scolex and illustrated by Crab Scrambly
Some weird kid with a mask is stuck in a cellar where he spends his days smashing little kittens with a giant hammer.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "Killing kittens? That's not funny!"

But trust me, in this book it really is.

Written and illustrated by Ivan Brunetti
Onto the hardcore stuff.

Ivan Brunetti is not afraid to go to the depths of depravity and find humor in such dark places that you should probably be careful who you let see what you're reading.

The title is perfectly fitting, as we follow the insane ramblings of a fucked up psychopath, who is often uncomfortably relatable.

It is extremely text-heavy at times, with some whole pages filled with meaningless babble, but every once and a while he presents something which you can't stop laughing at, even though you know that you really shouldn't. Like this:

This is the fifth article about comic books without superheroes. The other parts can be found here:
Part 5 - The Funnies

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Escape the Cape Part 4 - The Beauties

Hard Boiled
Written by Frank Miller and illustrated by Geof Darrow
Have you ever heard the expression: "Read until your eyes bleed"? Well this book will pretty much redefine its meaning, as every page is an explosion of details that will take you hours to admire.

There's just so much stuff!

Here, have look for yourself:

Written and illustrated by brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
If Hard Boiled is full of details, then Daytripper is the polar opposite. Each panel tells exactly what it needs to do, while focusing on the beauty of its simple lines.

As the title suggest, the series is a trip. Or more precisely, it's a whole series of trips, as each of the 10 issues explores on a new story. All dreamy and engaging and wonderfully weird, with often tragic endings which fits perfectly with the beautiful artwork.

And if you want more, you should check out the rather similar book called De: Tales from the same guys.

Last Days of American Crime
Written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Greg Tocchini
Reading this 3-issue series is like walking through a magnificent art gallery. Greg Tocchini really puts the art in artwork, as each of his paintings is simply mind-blowing.

The story is quite pulpy and made me think of the fantastic sci-fi flicks of Paul Verhoeven. It also creates a fun contrast to the stylistic high-art.

And if you want more, then check out Tocchini's single issue Sequence Shot. Additionally, he does some fantastic work on the underwater-series titled simply Low.

Aladdin Legacy Of The Lost
Written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by Stjepan Šejić & Patrick Reilly
Anyone who's read Arabian Nights knows that Disney really raped Aladdin.

Luckily Radical Comics lived up to their name, and created a fresh adaptation of the story which is filled with monsters. There's rabid dogs, giant snakes and humongous sea monsters, in addition to the murderous genie.

The series is dark and violent and even sexy at times, creating a perfect fairytale for adults. And the artists obviously enjoyed themselves, as they must have spent ages laboring over each glorious panel.

Oink - Heaven's Butcher (Remastered 2015 Edition)
Written and illustrated by John Mueller
This little piggy went to the comics shop. And what he found there was pure splendor.

Oink is like a mix between Animal Farm and The Matrix, drawn in the style of Vincent van Gogh. And while the original publication was truly something else when it came out in the 90s, the creator kept getting so much feedback about it over the years, that he went back and redid the whole thing in even more spectacular style.

This remastered edition is so pleasing to the eye that it creates the perfect conversation piece whenever people asks about this particular book on your shelf.

Written by Brandon Graham and illustrated by Simon Roy
This series is perfectly described as "style over substance", and to be honest, I really don't understand much of what it's supposed to be about. Some heroic characters fly through space and do... stuff.

To add to the confusion, the story starts up at issue 21, with the preceding 20 issues seemingly about an entirely different character all-together.

However, the creative ingenuity of the artist just has to be seen to be believed, as he draws up alien worlds which feels truly alien. With so many movies and comics just portraying other planets very similar to earth, it's truly rare to find something filled with concepts which just boggles your mind.

So I guess it's only fitting that it's not entirely coherent.

Tokyo Ghost
Written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Sean Murphy
I cam hardly remember the story in this book. Something in the future... bla, bla, bla.

That doesn't matter though, 'cause the illustrations are what it's all about. It mixes machinery with samurais, sci-fi cities and gorgeous jungles into a whole new sexy genre of its own.

I mean, just look at this stuff:

Muse (2012)
Written by Denis-Piere Filippi and illustrated by Terry Dodson
Speaking of sexy: let's go all in (pun intended) with this fun steampunk erotica.

Muse tells the story of a woman who travels through famous fairytales, meeting midgets and monsters, cyborgs and sultans.

All that's beside the point though, as this book is just one big excuse to draw women in skimpy outfits. Luckily, that also happens to be one of my favorite things.

Because oooooh, do they look good!

The Wrenchies
Written and illustrated by Farel Dalrymple
Like an illustrated version of William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch, this drug infused fable is utterly stuffed with beauty to the point of running over with minute details of wonder.

Sadly, the hallucinogenic symbolism doesn't stop there, as it’s just as incomprehensible. The story drowns in different realities and characters which continuously speak their minds before wondering if they just spoke out loud, or if it was all a dream.

However, the visual presentation is still some of the best artwork in comic book history, and you can pick any page at random and have an amazing experience getting lost in the scenery, if you just stop trying to make sense of it all.

Freaks of the Heartland
Written by Steve Niles and illustrated by Greg Ruth
Be sure to keep a handkerchief close by when reading this one. It's about a boy and his freak of a brother with superhuman strength. 

This superhuman is no hero though, as his mutated shape has his parents keeping him locked up in a barn. Of course it's only a matter of time before he breaks free, sending him off on a violent escape through prejudice.

You can read all sorts of political symbolism into it if you want, but personally, I just loved to get lost in the artwork.

The Arrival
Written and illustrated by Shaun Tan
I've saved the best for last, and this is somewhat of a hidden gem. A passion project of a single man, it took Shaun Tan four years to complete this surrealist story. And once you open the book, you'll quickly understand why it too so long.

The plot revolves around some unnamed character who comes to a new place where everything is alien. There's no text and you could easily run through the whole thing in a few minutes, but you will not want to. Because this book will dazzle you with some of the most brilliant drawings you have ever seen.

It's by far the most beautiful book I have read, so instead of saying anything more about it, I'll simply let this image speak for itself:

There's still more comics to talk about and the next article will focus on the ones which made me laugh.

This is the fourth article about comic books without superheroes. The other parts can be found here:
Part 4 - The Beauties