Category: TV


Review by C.J. Bunce

Delayed a bit due to the pandemic, a Star Wars tie-in comic book series proved this summer to be the best so far since Marvel Comics pulled the comics license back from Dark Horse.   Star Wars: Bounty Hunters completed its first story arc and will be coming next month to comic shops in a collected edition, available via pre-order now here at Amazon.  Compiling the first five issues of a new series in the vein of The Mandalorian, it establishes itself with a new anti-hero from the past and familiar faces fans of the original trilogy love.  It all begins by asking why all those bounty hunters appeared together on Darth Vader’s ship Executor in that brief scene in The Empire Strikes Back.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca.  His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  Rebecca, a remake, premieres this week on Netflix.  For its fall releases the popular streaming studio nicely split up the male leads of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., putting Henry Cavill in Enola Holmes and Armie Hammer in Rebecca, even using the same mansion for both films.  For Rebecca, Netflix plucked ex-cast members from Mr. Selfridge and some other genre favorites of British TV.  So how does the new Rebecca compare to Hitchcock’s masterpiece?

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Disney+ shared a new trailer for The Mandalorian late Monday, adding more great clips and images from the coming season, tying viewers back to the original 1977 Star Wars.  The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), who we now know as Din Djarin, flying around with his backpack?  Check.  Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) putting an Imperial troop transport through its paces?  Check.  Someone found Yondu’s Yaka Arrow?  Check.  The Abyssin cyclops from the Mos Eisley cantina?  Check.  More of The Child (we know, you know him as Baby Yoda)?  Check.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Your first glance at the title of TCM’s latest overview of a key genre of Hollywood’s greatest films may give you pause: Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and BeyondOnly 31 movies?  Quickly you’ll figure out that the 31 highlighted movies in horror historian David J. Skal’s list are only the framework for a larger, chronological examination of the horror genre, with a lean in to Hollywood’s horror classics, the kind you’re most likely to find on the Turner Classic Movies TCM channel.  In this list of recommendations, readers are sure to pull their hair out, since it’s very likely nobody’s personal list will match the author’s–or anyone else’s.  Yet that’s why we turn to these books, and as you’d expect, Fright Favorites doesn’t disappoint: You’re practically guaranteed to add an obscure–or not-so-obscure–horror film to your future watch list.

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Currently housed in a Tudor-style mansion in Manhattan, The Explorers Club is a real place with a legacy of adventurers among its ranks.  Parodied in The Freshman, the club is a meeting place established in 1904 for the purposes of promoting scientific exploration around the planet, and it does host an annual dinner with unusual flair.  A table can cost you $100,000 and features food including tarantula and other exotic animals that would be a nightmare for animal rights advocates, not to mention the taxidermy displays (Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was filmed there).  Honorary members include the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, John Glenn, Sir Edmund Hillary, Buzz Aldrin, and the club has bestowed its highest award to notables including Mary Leakey, Jane Goodall, Robert Ballard, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Not quite a secret society, the members have circumnavigated the world, flown, sailed, driven, and walked across each continent in search of the next discovery, returning back to the club to share the stories of their accomplishments.  In one of his last projects before his death in 2003, journalist and noted personality George Plimpton (himself a member) collected 51 first-hand accounts of these journeys from the club’s ranks and published them as As Told at the Explorers Club: More Than Fifty Gripping Tales of Adventure, available now in a new edition from Lyons Press.

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Founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman as Timely Comics, then re-branding as Atlas Comics, becoming a household name in 1961 thanks to the inspiration of creators Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, hitting its low in bankruptcy, but rising like the Phoenix to become a movie franchise and Disney property in the 21st century, Marvel Comics has seen eight decades of change.  A new hardcover book aims to chronicle all that.  Marvel: The First 80 Years–The True Story of a Pop-Culture Phenomenon is coming your way next month.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

BritBox may not be the #1 streaming service around, but thanks to the pandemic its subscriptions have reportedly doubled this year.  And you’d think that would give a series like Wild Bill the possibility of a second chance.  Wild Bill was a 2019 British series in the great tradition of police procedurals featuring coppers with attitude starring the unlikely lead in a British series, Rob Lowe.  It’s probably Rob Lowe’s best personal performance to date, and certainly his most mature role, yet the series was canceled by production company ITV after the first season.  And that was a scrawny British season of six episodes, not 10 or 13 like we’d find on this side of the pond, which makes it doubly unfortunate to lose a series with so much promise.  Since American viewership has brought a new life to all things British TV, you’d think that might mean something, but apparently British television studios don’t like making money over here.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re asked to zip off a list of the best Jennifer Lawrence movies, it’s probable you’re not going to include the 2012 teen suspense-thriller, House at the End of the Street.  And yet, as modern efforts at PG-13 teen horror are concerned, director Mark Tonderai (Doctor Who, The Five, Locke & Key) will keep viewers guessing which trope the film will hang its genre hat on.  What’s exactly up with the guy in the house where his sister murdered the rest of the family years ago?  One constant for the Academy Award-winning Lawrence is she rarely disappoints, whether as a bow-wielding survivor (The Hunger Games series) or a shape-shifting X-Woman (X-Men: The Days of Future Past, etc.).  Even back to young Allison on Medium, Lawrence delivers, and this time she takes viewers for a ride into that terrible place called teen angst–near a creepy house in the woods.  And its streaming for your Halloween month pleasure on Netflix.

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Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The setup is classic and intriguing: Ruth Wilson (His Dark Materials, Luther) plays a hospice nurse tending to elderly horror author Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss, The Stepford Wives), who comes to mistake her for the main character in her most famous novel—the ghost of Polly Parsons.  Parsons supposedly haunts Blum’s historic Massachusetts home and once dictated her own dark tale–save for its ending–to Blum.  In writer/director Osgood Perkins’s hands, this classic setup turns into a dark study of isolation and mystery, and showcases the range of Wilson’s talent as an actor.  Netflix’s 2016 original production I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House might make for good Halloween viewing for some fans of spooky, atmospheric, and cryptic ghost stories.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Star Wars in pictures.  It’s something fans of the franchise have gotten excited about now for 43 years running.  From the first publication of Ralph McQuarrie’s earliest concept art, fans want more.  So it makes sense we’re going to see three books are concept artwork this year for the first season of The Mandalorian, the best thing to happen to Star Wars since the original trilogy (OK, and one or two “Star Wars story” movies).  The first of these behind the scenes books is Titan Magazines’ The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery, just released in three versions, one via newsstands, one via comic shops, and a hardcover version you can pick up here at Amazon and brick and mortar bookstores.

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