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WANG CHUNG: TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.

To Live and Die in LABalladeer’s Blog presents another edition of “Give Them A Shoutout Before They’re Dead.” This time around it’s to Wang Chung, for their memorable soundtrack for the INCREDIBLY underappreciated movie To Live and Die in L.A.

The movie was from some of the creative team behind Miami Vice and was often described as “Film Noir Meets MTV.” After a teaser depicting Secret Service Agent Richard Chance and his partner saving the U.S. president from a Muslim terrorist the main story focuses on the often-neglected role of the U.S. Secret Service: fighting counterfeiters.

Ironically the movie features top scenes from the novel it’s based on, yet presents the story with the exact opposite meaning that the novel offers. Both are enjoyable but in entirely different ways – the film as flash and the book as substance. 

And Robert Downey SENIOR has a small role for you trivia buffs.

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BLACK JACK KETCHUM: GUNSLINGER

FRONTIERADO IS FRIDAY, AUGUST 4th!

Black jack

Black Jack

BLACK JACK KETCHUM – Black Jack was one of the leaders of the many outlaws who made their home in Hole In The Wall, Wyoming, all of them roughly lumped together under the general name the Hole In The Wall Gang. Though Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch faction of the gang is by far the most famous grouping, Ketchum and his followers deserve a much bigger reputation than they currently enjoy.

Ketchum was born in 1866 in San Angelo, TX, and by 1887 he was working as an actual cowboy at various ranches in the Lone Star State. In 1890, after a cattle drive to Clayton, NM, Black Jack and his brother Sam were involved in a train robbery and would spend the rest of their lives as outlaws, vowing never to work as miserable cowhands ever again.

By 1892 Ketchum’s Hole In The Wall gang included his brother Sam, Will “Noose” Carver, Bronco Bill Walters and  Ben Kilpatrick, the Tall Texan. The Gang began alternating its time between launching train and bank robberies from their Hole In The Wall headquarters and running a shady saloon and gambling hall back in San Angelo. Continue reading

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THE INCUBATED GIRL (1896): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Incubated GirlTHE INCUBATED GIRL (1896) – Written by F.T. Jane, as in THE Jane who originated the Jane’s Guides. 

It would be overly glib to describe this novel as just a sci-fi version of Alraune because it definitely goes in some unexpected directions. Plus Alraune itself borrowed heavily from Homunculus, Mandrake and Mandragore folklore. There’s a touch of The Great God Pan as well. 

The Incubated Girl begins with British Egyptologist Blackburn Zadara discovering an ancient coffin of a Priest of Isis. There is no corpse inside but rather a manuscript and assorted chemical concoctions. Zadara returns to England with the discovery and translates the manuscript – it is a guide to creating human life by using the chemical substances that were buried with the manuscript.

Blackburn closely follows the instructions and months later he invites his friend Meredyth Wilson Sr over to witness the initial results of the experiment. Wilson watches as Zadara opens a large egg-shaped pod from which he removes a little baby girl.  

Blackburn Zadara names the child Stella and tells Meredyth that according to the Egyptian manuscript Stella will be supernaturally healthy and will never experience death as long as she never drinks human milk nor eats any meat.

Over the years as Stella grows, Zadara tries to create additional humanoids but those efforts always fail. The Egyptologist has been using specifically deaf-mute servants to attend to Stella to limit involved interaction with other humans.

By her 18th year Stella is beautiful and highly intelligent but is as selfish as a newborn and enjoys enacting revenge against anyone who gets on her bad side. Blackburn takes the incubated girl to London with him, but she abandons him there, since she finds him ugly and unpleasant. Continue reading

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MANTIS 21: NECRODAMUS ATTACKS

FOR PART 1 OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF MARVEL’S SUPERHEROINE MANTIS CLICK HERE 

Avengers 128 bewitched, botheredAVENGERS Volume 1, Number 128 (October 1974)  Bewitched, Bothered … and Dead

I’m sure Marvel Comics gave special thanks to Quinn Martin for providing the title to this particular story. Yes, it’s a play on the usual “bewitched, bothered and bewildered.”  

ANYWAY, WE ARE IN THE HOME STRETCH OF THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA! MISS A CHAPTER FROM NOW TO THE END AND YOU’LL BE CONFUSED.

BEWITCHED, BOTHERED … AND DEAD

Synopsis: Nighttime on the rooftop of Avengers Mansion. The Avengers and Fantastic Four have just returned from the wedding of the former Avenger Quicksilver and the Inhuman woman named Crystal. The Avengers traveled in their Quin-Jet and the Fantastic Four – oddly enough – in their roofless Fantasticar.

Mantis xxxxThe two teams are hanging out chit-chatting before the FF will head home to the Baxter Building. As Midnight arrives a supernatural lightning storm strikes, threatening the lives of members from both teams with its repeated and tightly placed lightning bolts. Continue reading

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TOM SAWYER: 1973 MUSICAL

Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer

The TOM SAWYER I’m referring to here is the 1973 musical version which is unforgiveably forgotten by many people. This musical has some incredibly catchy songs, memorable dialogue portions and terrific performances from all cast members, young and old.

Most importantly the film nicely distills the essential elements of Mark Twain’s popular story in a nearly seamless way. Anything you loved from the book when you read it is to be found here: Tom’s tall tales to Aunt Polly to explain why he’s late for supper or didn’t show up at school, Tom tricking other kids into paying him to whitewash a fence for him, Tom and Huckleberry Finn witnessing Injun Joe’s murder of Ol’ Doc, Tom chivalrously taking a thrashing for Becky Thatcher, Tom and Huck running away and being given up for dead and of course Tom attending his own funeral.

All that and a great musical number during an excellently mounted 1870’s Fourth of July Celebration. Injun Joe gets a much more merciful end in this movie than he did in the book, so that’s a plus, too. 

Johnny Whitaker, known to generations of Continue reading

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ARKANSAS TRAVELER: WILD WEST WEB SERIES

Arkansas TravelerFrontierado is on Friday, August 4th! Here is a Web Series that goes with it like your favorite whiskey. It’s called Arkansas Traveler.

A Faustian Western Web Series

“Thanks to its smooth-talking, whiskey-drinking, gun-slinging elements, Arkansas Traveler contains everything it needs to appeal to… western fans… At the same time, its washed out, low-lit style brings something new to the genre…” – tubefilter

Travelin’ Productions‘ Arkansas Traveler web series unravels the enigmatic journey of Wayland McGlowhorn, Starring Garret DillahuntAngela Bettis, and Sean Bridgers.  

A mini-series in six parts, Arkansas Traveler is a gritty, dark adventure into the life and mind of a man released by forces beyond his ken from the grip of the bloody last days of the American Civil War.

The series is based on a revered feature-length screenplay by Sean Bridgers, of Deadwood fame as Johnny Burns, and acclaimed shows like Rectify and the upcoming Epix original, Get Shorty. Under Travelin’ Productions’ banner, Bridgers co-directed the series with Michael “Ffish” Hemschoot, an animation and visual effects super villain, who worked on films like The Matrix, and Master and Commander. 

It’s a project years in the making, as the filmmakers have reimagined original teaser footage they produced with Missouri production company, Wide Awake Films, back in 2010, into this web series. The web series carries the same goal as the original teaser short: to intrigue and grow an audience, and inspire them to demand more.  

Travelin’ Productions’ mandate is simply to tell damn good stories, and with this project, the filmmakers hope to rally fans of westerns and dramas with a darker bend. Ray McKinnon once called the screenplay for this Faustian Western, “…one of the best un-produced scripts I have read in the last decade” (Arkansas Online, 2011)  

Watch all the episodes for free online Continue reading

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POSSE (1993): MOVIE REVIEW

 Frontierado is coming up on Friday, August 4th!

POSSE is a terrific western about a gang of African American  gunfighters (plus the goofiest  Baldwin brother) involved in an action-packed epic journey across the American west.

The Frontierado holiday is the perfect time of year to hunker down with this film while drinking a Cactus Jack or a Deuces Wild or two. I’ll review the recipes for those mixed drinks in a few days, for now we’ll focus on this movie on our countdown.

Posse stars Mario Van Peebles, who also directed, as Jesse Lee, the brooding, revenge-driven hero of the saga. He and all but one member of his gang, our titular posse, are soldiers fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898. A dangerous assault they carry out turns out to be Continue reading

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