Tag Archive: Universal monsters


 

Since the announcement of the retro-style Kenner action figures in 2013 from Funko and Super7 (now exclusively produced by Super7), we’ve been excited to see the next license to find its way into the 3.75-inch, five points of articulation format (we’ve discussed hundreds of the licensed figures in the ReAction line here at borg over the years).  At each New York Toy Fair, Super7 has amassed everything from Alien to CW’s Arrow, and this coming weekend’s New York Toy Fair 2019 will be no different.  The biggest moneymaker for Super7 will no doubt be a series of twelve Major League Baseball action figures, including the great #42 Jackie Robinson, plus three mascot figures, all expected to be released this year during the All-Star Game to commemorate the centennial of Robinson’s birth.

But there’s more in store for movie fans.  As previewed here last year and first seen at New York Toy Fair 2017 via prototype sculpts, final versions of Wave Two of the Planet of the Apes action figure line will be on display (and see below to pre-order now each from Entertainment Earth, which just opened pre-orders for the series).  You’ll need to decide for yourself which is the coolest of the bunch: Cornelius in the ancient American spacesuit as seen in the opening to Escape from the Planet of the Apes, or the 5.5-inch Lawgiver statue from Beneath the Planet of the ApesOther figures include General Aldo from Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the creepy Mendez XXVI from Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and two Gorilla Soldiers, a Patrolman and Hunter to build your armies from Planet of the Apes.  The carded figures feature original card art by Ed Repka, the Lawgiver comes in retro-style packaging and all of the figures come with accessories.

Attendees of New York Toy Fair at the Super7 booth will also find early looks at a new line of figures from Rocky IV.    The series includes Rocky and Ivan Drago (both in ring attire), Rocky and Ivan Drago (in final round outfits), Rocky (winter training), and the figure you didn’t know you wanted: Sico the Robot.

Here are images of other figures in the new wave of Planet of the Apes:

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As we previewed here at borg.com, toymaker Super 7 featured great exclusives at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con with both an onsite presence and an offsite store featuring both a Masters of the Universe theme and a Universal Monsters theme.  If you were early enough you could have even scored a pair of four different styles of limited edition Universal Monster-themed Saucony shoes.  We think the best nostalgia draw from Super 7 is their multi-license classic Kenner style 3 3/4-inch ReAction figure line that we’ve covered here at borg.com since Day One.  We previewed some of the latest ReAction figures in our coverage of 2018 New York Toy Fair (here), but Super 7 showcased some brand new prototypes, packaging, and exclusives this weekend.

Probably the best display featured the figures of the new Hellboy line.  These two-pack sets look great in person, and will likely become only more popular as we get closer to the release of the new Hellboy movie.  The Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins prototypes based on the classic arcade game were also fantastic, giving fans a look at the final pieces in the first series (back row) and the next series (front in grey) that’s underway.

Of course the next series of the original Super 7 ReAction line, Alien, looks great and the sculpts and packaging have only gotten better.  We’re going to need to pick up one of those Ripley’s the Jonesy the cat at a minimum.  And Kane after his attack in his spacesuit–Wow!

Below are photographs from the Super 7 booth featuring other figures from the ReAction line: the exclusive convention Universal Monsters, The Fiend and Alien exclusives, Masters of the Universe, and Robotech.

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Of course the big highlight of October will not be a film at all, but the premiere of the entire second season of Stranger Things on Netflix, coming October 27.  But Netflix is also finally adding the time travel/horror/coming of age Donnie Darko to its streaming service, coming October 11.  Lifetime will premiere its remake of Disney’s The Watcher in the Woods, starring Anjelica Huston, on October 21.  Fans of the classic Universal Monsters will get their fix this month from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) throughout the month.  And Freeform (formerly ABC Family) has the modern classics and “family” viewing horror films including animated and mainstream films like Monsters, Inc., Frankenweenie, The Addams Family, and Sleepy Hollow.  You’ll find a run of Boris Karloff movies today on TCM, a Stephen King marathon on AMC on October 14, and a Tim Burton marathon on Freeform on October 23.

AMC does not post its television schedule more than two weeks in advance, so you’ll need to check your local listings for the annual AMC FearFest, but we do know it runs from October 23-31, and usually features a marathon each day, so you can probably expect a day each of films from Halloween, Freddy and Jason, Chucky, and Leprechaun films.  This year’s FearFest includes the following horror films: Halloween (1978), Halloween 4, Halloween 5, Halloween 6, Halloween H2O, Halloween II (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Freddy vs. Jason, Friday the 13th Part IX: Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Child’s Play, Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky, Annabelle, Thinner, Dreamcatcher, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead (2005), House of the Dead 1&2, House on Haunted Hill (1999), Return to House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax (2005), Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Army of Darkness, Van Helsing, Lake Placid, Slither, and the Leprechaun franchise (last year’s Fest included Leprechaun 1-4).  Syfy Channel and Spike listings are posted below through October 17–listings are not yet available beyond that.  Chiller–the year-round horror network, carries its standard slasher fare, plus some better modern horror classics this month.  Chiller’s listings are reported only about two weeks out, so listings below are through October 14.  Spike begins some good Halloween classics on October 13.  Syfy is hosting its 31 Days of Halloween event again this year.

Other Netflix films coming this month related to the horror genre include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ghost Patrol, 13 Demons, and Cult of Chucky, now available, Stephen King’s The Mist season one (October 24), and the bloody Quentin Tarentino Western The Hateful Eight (October 25).  TCM is highlighting horror on Tuesdays this month.  Freeform’s annual 13 Nights of Halloween kicks off October 19.  Starz Encore Suspense is another way to stream Halloween films this month.  Their inventory includes Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, Death Proof, Don’t Breathe, Rosemary’s Baby, The Funhouse, John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, and entries from Final Destination, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Children of the Corn, Hellraiser, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and The Grudge franchises–and horror and suspense films are part of the channel’s daily schedule here.

Definitely cable channels and Netflix will have plenty for every taste and all ages this month, and this is before all the channels have published their end of month schedules.  So start with today, browse the selections and set your DVR now.  All times listed below are Central Time.

Tuesday, October 3
1:00A  Island of Lost Souls (1932) TCM – Charles Laughton, Bela Legosi
2:30  The Black Cat (1934) TCM – Boris Karloff, Bela Legosi (Edgar Allan Poe adaptation)
3:45  The Invisible Man (1933) TCM – Claude Rains
10:00  The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Starz Suspense
11:00  The Hollow – Syfy
12:00P  Pulp Fiction – AMC
1:00  Hollow Man 2 – Syfy
3:00  Hollow Man – Syfy
4:00  Old 37 – Chiller
5:30  Exorcism of Emily Rose – Syfy
6:00  All Cheerleaders Die – Chiller
7:00  Frankenstein (1931) TCM – Boris Karloff
8:00  Apartment 143 – Chiller
8:30  Bride of Frankenstein (1935) TCM – Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester
9:00  Drag Me to Hell – Syfy
10:00  The Mummy (1932) TCM – Boris Karloff
10:00  Old 37 – Chiller
11:00  The Mothman Prophesies – Syfy
11:30  The Wolfman (1941) TCM – Lon Chaney, Jr.

Wednesday, October 4
12:00A  All Cheerleaders Die – Chiller
1:30  Scream of the Banshee – Syfy
2:00  Apartment 143 – Chiller
5:30  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – Syfy
8:00  The Mothman Prophesies – Syfy
10:30  Dead Still – Syfy
12:30  The Exorcism of Emily Rose – Syfy
3:00P  Drag Me to Hell – Syfy
4:00  Fender Bender – Chiller
5:00  Resident Evil: Afterlife – Syfy
6:00  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – El Rey
6:00  The Boy – Chiller
7:00  Insidious: Chapter 3 – Syfy
8:00  Wrath – Chiller
10:00  Fender Bender – Chiller
11:00  Dead Still – Syfy

Thursday, October 5
12:00A  The Boy – Chiller
1:00  Ghost Storm – Syfy
2:00  Wrath – Chiller
3:30  Silence of the Lambs – El Rey
6:00  Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Syfy
8:30  Holes – AMC
9:00  Ghost Storm – Syfy
11:00  Silent Hill – Syfy
11:30P  Total Recall – AMC
1:30  Resident Evil: Afterlife – Syfy
3:30  Insidious: Chapter 3 – Syfy
4:00  ATM – Chiller
5:30  Blade Runner – Syfy
6:00  Indigenous – Chiller
8:00  John Dies at the End – Chiller
10:00  Blade Runner – Syfy
10:00 ATM – Chiller

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you try to get a modern generation of moviegoers to explore the entertainment of the past, you may learn quickly it often just doesn’t work out.  One of the entertainment realms of the past that successfully spanned multiple generations is the Universal Studios monster film series.  The “Universal Monsters” began in the 1920s and stretched into the 1950s, beginning with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera and continuing on into the “modern” technology of 3D in 1954 with The Creature from the Black Lagoon (reviewed here previously at borg.com).  Kids who grew up in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s continued to watch and re-watch the film series years later.  As the horror genre is concerned, it doesn’t get more “classic” than the Universal Monsters.  Now that we’ve entered the month of Halloween, it’s time to start binge-watching the best of the horror genre, and for audiences of all ages the Universal Monsters is a good place to start.  But for the younger crowd not willing to go for the classics, especially black and white classics, you may want to give the new Universal Studios reboot a try–the new “Dark Universe.”  The introductory chapter to the Dark Universe, this summer’s The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, is now streaming on multiple platforms and available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD

The Mummy won’t be for everyone.  Purists loyal to the classic films are the first group that may not go for it–it doesn’t adhere very much by way look or feel to Boris Karloff’s 1932 original version, although the core concept is similar: resurrecting an ancient Egyptian royal entombed without being mummified, followed by a pursuit to resurrect The Entombed’s lover after The Entombed is brought back to life by an archaeologist.  The other group that may pass on the new film are fans of Universal’s more recent decade-long film series that originally starred Brandon Fraser and Rachel Weisz (and later Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), which spanned seven films in all and an animated television series between 1999 and 2008.  Ultimately the best audience for this year’s version of The Mummy will be audiences looking for a new film to rent or stream during this holiday season with a horror flavor.  The Mummy isn’t a romp like the recent film series or memorable like the original, but it is light as horror goes, full of action and plenty of monsters (actually zombies) without much actual gore, and overall it’s a fun way to step into the Halloween zone for general audiences.  And who doesn’t like a zombie movie?

The Mummy stars Tom Cruise as adventurer/soldier Nick Morton (along the lines of Matt Damon in The Great Wall) who, along with another soldier played by Jake Johnson (New Girl), tries to find buried treasure after Nick romances and steals a treasure map from an archaeologist named Dr. Jennifer Halsey, played by Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).  Not among Cruise’s top films (see last week’s review here of American Made for that) fans of Cruise movies will still find this in the realm of his Mission: Impossible roles.  The mummy of the title is a woman in this incarnation of the horror tale, Princess Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella, in a performance that becomes the best aspect of the film.  As with her several recent performances (Atomic Blonde, Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service), it’s always exciting to see Boutella immerse herself into a role.  The actress who gained early fame as a dancer in Madonna and Michael Jackson music videos seems to easily take on the physical coordination required for this first monster of the Dark Universe.  One of Ahmanet’s powers is raising the dead into zombie defenders, and in several key action sequences the film becomes a full-scale zombie horror flick.  The zombie factor, plus big-budget production value and stars Cruise and Boutella may be enough to satisfy a broader audience’s desire for something new this Halloween.

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We’re at the beginning of something potentially exciting for moviegoers.  The release of the new Universal Pictures movie The Mummy is just the beginning.  Instead of rebooting or adding another sequel to the trilogy of movies from the most recent Universal series titled The Mummy beginning back in 1999, Universal is taking the lead of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and creating a new franchise of interconnected movies.  Beginning this year with The Mummy co-starring Star Trek Beyond’s Sofia Boutella, Tom Cruise, and Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, the classic “Universal Monsters” will be resurrected (literally and figuratively), including Frankenstein’s monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein.  Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll represents the first step in that crossover networking of characters across movies that Marvel does so well.

Cruise and Crowe are bringing the star power to ignite this franchise, with Boutella, the latest and greatest kickass action heroine actress, playing a role that evokes for us the power and energy of the DC Comics character Enchantress (who appeared as the villain in last year’s Suicide Squad).   In the latest trailer for the film, released this week, Cruise is clearly in his signature Mission Impossible mode, and the entire trailer has a Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe.  The movie has received buzz for Cruise continuing to rack up performances doing his own stunts, this time in an actual Zero G environment for the airplane attack scenes.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, known for rebooting and remaking anything and everything they can get theirs hands on, are part of the team putting this new universe together.  Kurtzman will direct The Mummy.  Speaking of the Marvel universe, the music for the film will be created by Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3 composer Brian Tyler, also known for music in several franchises including The Expendables, Now You See Me, Fast and the Furious, and Final Destination series, plus Rambo, Sleepy Hollow, Aliens v. Predator, and Star Trek Enterprise. 

Check out the new trailer for The Mummy:

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mummy-boutella

The release of Universal Pictures new movie The Mummy is already off to a bumpy start, with its release date already bumped a few times.  Instead of a reboot or sequel to the trilogy of movies from the most recent Universal series titled The Mummy beginning in 1999, Universal is branching out to have a go at something like Marvel Comics and DC Comics franchises of sprawling films.  The classic “Universal Monsters” will be resurrected (literally and figuratively), including Frankenstein’s monster, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, and Bride of Frankenstein.  The go-to producer team for every genre remake these days–Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is being tapped to put this new universe together.  Kurtzman will direct The Mummy.

Tom Cruise headlines the new film in his next Mission Impossible-style action role, along with Russell Crowe, whose role sounds even more interesting.  He will play Dr. Jekyll.  Star Trek Beyond star Sofia Boutella is the mummy of the title.  The movie co-stars Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class), Jake Johnson (New Girl, Jurassic World), and Courtney B. Vance (The Hunt for Red October, Terminator Genisys).

the-mummy-reboot-poster

Sean Daniel, who produced the most recent Mummy trilogy, is also a producer on the reboot movie.

Check out the above poster released this week, and this first teaser for The Mummy:

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i-frankenstein moving poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

I, Frankenstein is a fantasy-horror motion picture released earlier this year, based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux.  Starring Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Bill Nighy (Underworld, Shawn of the Dead, State of Play), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), and Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher), all signs pointed to the possibility that the film could be minimally watchable.  But retellings of classic monster stories are tough to get right.  In our ongoing pursuit at borg.com to identify the best of Blu-ray 3D home video we screened I, Frankenstein in Blu-ray 3D.  Despite having some pretty stellar 3D special effects, the film unfortunately can’t overcome its thin effort to retell the Frankenstein story.

With creators of Underworld behind the scenes, it’s no wonder this film has the look of that franchise.  It also shares the same dark vibe as the respectable and fun monster mash-up Van Helsing.  But its clunky twist on Frankenstein’s monster isn’t saved by the serious acting of lead Aaron Eckhart, or the quality bad guy villainy portrayed by Bill Nighy.

Adam Frankenstein

Good monster retellings?  Try Young Frankenstein (1974), Phantom of the Opera (2004), Van Helsing (2004), the American Werewolf series, Wolf (1994), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), The Mummy (1999), and the short-lived Dracula (2013) TV series.  These all show how retellings of classic monster stories can be done right.

Nicely done action sequences and fiery explosions?  It’s got ’em.  Beautifully-rendered, in-your-face 3D?  It’s got that, too.  And if you only want to watch special effects with the backdrop of a classic, then this may be something for one of those moments.

But I, Frankenstein is about a legion of gargoyles and their gargoyle queen (Miranda Otto) who are in a battle with demons under the control of a demon prince played by Nighy, posing as a modern-day biotech businessman.  Nighy’s character wants Dr. Frankenstein’s journal, to be able to resurrect soulless bodies for demons in hell to fill.  Otto’s character attempts to recruit Frankenstein (the monster has taken his creator’s name) to her cause, even giving him the rather silly name of Adam (which nobody else ever uses). Hundreds of years after their initial meeting, Frankenstein and the gargoyle queen reunite in the present day (still wearing the same costumes).

Huh? 

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