Last year was the first year where I participated in Listmas on this here blog (though I’ve been Listmas-ing for much longer over on Virtual Bastion, in case you want to pay us a visit…). Since listing things is a surprisingly fun pastime, I decided that I’d do it again this year. To start things off, I felt like listing my favorite episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a super fun series (recently revived on Netflix) where a guy and two robots watch and make fun of cruddy movies. It’s a seriously fun time, and I’d highly recommend it if it sounds like your cup of tea. Without further ado, my favorite episodes from the series…more or less (there were a lot to go through, so I may have missed a few…). Continue reading Listmas 2019: Top 10 MST3K Episodes
Now that Inktober is over, I decided to create a summary picture for all 31 of the inked drawings I did. This was my first Inktober, and admittedly, it was a rather exhausting affair. I usually do just a drawing or two a month, and this time, I was drawing nearly every day starting September 1. Needless to say, it made me…tired. And I look forward to taking a short break from drawing for the time being. Continue reading Inktober 2019 Summary
The Duck doesn’t normally do movie reviews…or watch that many modern movies in general. (I don’t even have cable anymore. Why was I paying to watch TV with commercials anyway?) But last Friday, something very special came to Netflix…Invader ZiM: Enter the Florpus. Below, I’d like to indulge in a brief moment of nostalgia, followed by a little review summarizing my thoughts on this momentous occasion in human history. Continue reading Invader ZiM: Enter the Florpus is Better Than Chicken and Rice
In recent weeks, the Duck has become quite focused on uncovering the identities of old movies I watched as a duckling. You see, I have many fond memories of either borrowing movies from the library or renting them from the local VHS rental store. And so, I’d like to list all the lesser known (basically, non-Disney) animated children’s movies I watched as a duckling. Without further ado… Continue reading Listmas 2018: Lesser-Known Movies from my Ducklinghood
As a duckling, I was obviously much more easily entertained than I am now. Back then, I had a very small TV in my bedroom, one of those TV/VCR combos, and a collection of animated movies, mainly Disney. This little setup was responsible for some of my fondest duckling-hood memories. Continue reading Movie Time as a Duckling
We’ve got another 100 theme challenge topic to tackle, and this one is “grey”. I can start this particular topic by revealing a very pointless bit of information about myself that you shall all likely forget by the time this post is over. I like Earl Grey Tea. Moving on, I think my main subject for today’s post shall focus on the answer to this riddle. What is black and white and grey all over, except when it’s tinted, and can often be found for free on Youtube? Yes, I must admit that I’m not terribly good at riddles, whether it be writing them or solving them. But the answer is, nevertheless, old black and white movies. It counts. Grey is a very common color in these movies, despite what the name might have you believe. Continue reading 100 Theme Blog Challenge No. 19: Grey
I recently decided to watch “The Blair Witch Project” for a second time, thanks to a gameplay video of “Slender: The Nine Pages” I saw on Youtube that got me in the mood for something scary. That game thoroughly freaked me out and made me turn on a lot of lights in the house once nighttime came. And I did a lot of running down the hallway whenever I was forced to go down there to use the bathroom. Seeing a dark room at the end of a long hallway makes me suspect too much the Slender Man’s going to show up and…do whatever it is that it does. Whatever that may be, I’m certain it will be something I won’t like.
Unfortunately, “The Blair Witch Project” did not scare me this time. Sure, it was a bit creepy, but it wasn’t scary. Like how seeing a spider on TV is creepy, but I’m certainly not going to start shrieking and tossing shoes at it. (That is not to say that I typically behave in such an erratic fashion when spiders trespass on my property for real….) And I was quite disappointed because I really enjoyed the movie my first time seeing it. Even if I didn’t sleep that night. Nope, I didn’t sleep at all. At least it was impossible to get nightmares that way. Continue reading Not Knowing is the Worst Part
Today’s 100 theme challenge is number 8, innocence. Innocence makes me think of many things, like not guilty. Like being in court, and you are accused of doing something, but you’re innocent, for crying out loud, innocent! I also think of, well, let me explain.
You see, my favorite video games are those that don’t have any swearing or other such naughty things. The innocent games. This can apply to books and movies, too, for you non-gamers out there. Just replace “games” with whichever word you like, and it all means the same thing. The innocent stories. That doesn’t mean nothing bad happens. In fact, my favorite stories are the ones that are dark and deep and emotional. They are not necessarily sickly sweet and childish, with a shallow, meaningless plot. Nothing about innocence means a story, whether it be in a game or movie or book, has to be boring. There is just no one saying “friggin’ this” and “friggin’ that” (or the worse version) or scenes of people doing, well, certain things people do, which is already disturbing enough without the fact that it doesn’t further the plot whatsoever. (And you can play classical music all you want during such scenes and do fancy camera angles, it doesn’t make it better.)
And hey, some people like the movies or games or whatever that are more nitty gritty and more realistic. That’s part of why I think M-rated games are so popular. Not everyone wants to play cute things like “Kirby” and “Mario” all the time. But, for me, I just can’t get into those kinds of stories as much as the innocent ones. Yeah, it may be less realistic, when you have some evil psycho saying “gosh” when they really should be swearing like the people in “The Sopranos”, but I get attached to those innocent stories, the innocent games in particular. Video games are a nice way to escape from reality (any story is, really), so it can be a pleasant experience to play a game that has an innocence not found in the real world. Sometimes it is nice to have not only heroes, but villains, that aren’t quite as scummy as the people in the real world. The world can be an ugly place, and that is something I want to escape from. (Otherwise, I’ll just watch the news or visit my local high school.)
It is amazing, too, how innocent things often are so popular. When TV shows like “The Sopranos” and movies like “Saw” are seen by so many people, you wonder if all people want to see is the nastier side of human nature. But, what about immensely popular video games like “Kingdom Hearts”? Not a swear word or naughty innuendo anywhere. No blood. No nudity. Innocent. This series even stars Disney characters as a major part of its cast. This would seem like it would make the series childish and not appeal so much to adults, but it has a deep, complex, and emotional story that people of all ages love. (It’s also the number one game in Fanfiction.net, if that tells you anything. In your face, all other games!) Or let’s even take something more familiar to everyone. “Star Wars”. There is violence (oh, poor Anakin in episode 3, even if he deserved it), but is there swearing? Is there, well, dirtiness (I have a lame way of saying it, but you know what I mean)? Is there usually even blood? Heck, lightsabers cauterize wounds! Woops, my arm just got lopped off, but no squirting blood to be seen. Keeps the rugs from staining, too. Despite this lack of cussing and blood-spraying, “Star Wars” still was and is a popular franchise. (This happens to be the number one movie on Fanfiction.net, too.)
So in the end, it is nice to see that sometimes, even the innocent things get attention. I understand wanting to see more “realistic” characters from time to time. I do enjoy “Jak and Daxter” (that’s about as bad as the Duck gets, which tells you a little something about my game collection), where the characters are not nearly so innocent as those from “Kingdom Hearts”. Sometimes I’m in the mood for that kind of thing. But, I love the games I can play and the movies I can watch where I don’t have to worry about seeing the things that are too common in the real world. (And seriously, half the population would appreciate it if we stopped being forced to see naked women constantly. I think the female form looks quite nice clothed.) And I think that is why such things as “Kingdom Hearts” and “Star Wars” are so popular. They have great stories and characters and action and all kinds of things we like, but they are also more innocent than most things, which lets us escape from reality rather than mimicking it. Would “Kingdom Hearts” be popular like it is now if Sora started spouting profanities (imagine that, no, Sora’s such a sweetie, he wouldn’t even if he could)? If the favorite swear word of middle-schoolers (my goodness, they wouldn’t stop with that word, the one that rhymes with my name…) showed up throughout the “Star Wars” trilogies, would it have been the same? Maybe I’m just being naïve. Maybe it would have made no affect or even helped the series. I just don’t personally think the addition of these things would have. It wouldn’t have appealed to such a wide audience, at the very least. But, either way, who cares? I love the innocent stories, and I always will.
Am I An Innocent Duck?
About 15 years ago, the duck had a babysitter. It was a different one than usual, and she brought over a movie to watch. The movie was “The Dark Crystal”, which disturbed me quite a bit at the time. Despite my terror, I was disappointed when my parents returned, and the movie was turned off halfway through. Should’ve started it earlier, I suppose.
An equal amount of years later, the duck was still thinking about the movie I never got to finish. I was very curious to see what my duckling self had seen so many years ago, but I kept putting it off. I didn’t feel like renting it. Too much effort. But, then I saw the movie on Netflix. Beckoning. “Watch me again, duck.” “See what you missed, waterfowl.” I resisted for a while, having better things to do, then, finally I thought WTH.
And so I got me a nice bottle of water (due to my diet at the time, I couldn’t invite juice or popcorn over to be my movie companions that evening), and I watched the movie I had left unfinished for so many years. I saw many things I had entirely forgotten, and I saw a few things I still remembered. I could never forget the innocent Gelflings or the wicked Skeksis. I also still couldn’t forget the scene where the Skeksis Emperor died (or more like crumbled, like a dry, but delicious Famous Amos cookie), a scene that has haunted me since ducklinghood.
But, mostly, it was new, with just a touch of a familiar feeling. Overall, I had fun watching the movie. The story was interesting. The design of the various creatures was wonderful. It was extremely creative and quite magical. As I was watching it, though, I wasn’t entirely sure of it, but once I neared the end, I was so disappointed it was over.
For those of you who haven’t seen it (though, you probably have; it’s considered a cult classic for a reason, I’m sure, and it’s 30 years old, too), I’ll try to summarize. I understood most of it. The movie is about a Gelfling named Jen who sets out on a quest to restore the Dark Crystal. Long, long ago, a crystal was damaged, which became the Dark Crystal (correct me if I’m wrong). At this time, two races came into existence. The peaceful Mystics and the evil Skeksis, hideous vulture-like things. The Skeksis have the Dark Crystal in their castle and are the ones responsible for killing off almost all of the Gelflings and enslaving many others. In short, they’re quite naughty, to say the least.
(Spoilers ahead. Though not really, since you all probably saw it anyway.) So at the request of his late master, Jen goes looking for a crystal shard (kind of like “Kirby 64”, but not…), not yet knowing what he’s supposed to do with it. He gets the shard from this old woman named Aughra, who says the Great Conjunction is coming when the three suns align, and something big will happen. After this, Jen meets a female Gelfling named Kira (much to his surprise; he thought he was the last Gelfling left), who can talk to animals (and has a pet dog-like thing named Fizgigg, though I kept thinking she was saying Bisquick), and the two face many dangers. Primarily, an army of crab beetle things called Garthim, sent after them by the Skeksis, who believe a Gelfling will be the one to put an end to them. They also face a banished Skeksis, formerly called the Chamberlain, who claims to be a friend and wants them to go with him to the castle to make peace. (Fortunately, our heroes are not huge idiots and so refuse. Stranger danger, remember!)
Anyway, due to some writing in old Gelfling ruins, something about the “triple sun” and “the two made one”, Jen and Kira realize they need to bring the shard to the castle and restore the crystal. And so they do, but not without more trouble from the Garthim and the Chamberlain (who is a major stalker, if you ask me). Towards the end, the three suns are coming together, and if Jen doesn’t restore the crystal before they align, apparently the Skeksis will live forever, but fortunately, he succeeds. By now, we realize that each Mystic and Skeksis is half of one being, and the two become one again. The end.
So it was a fun movie. I’m glad I got to see it. I love how creative it was, and I like the concept of the Mystics and Skeksis being only a half of a person. Like the good side and the bad side. And I love that there is actually so much more to the movie than just what’s…in the movie. Does that make sense? I mean, the story and such is a lot more complex than just what we see. Apparently when the movie came out in 1982, a book was also released that has a whole lot more information on the characters and world that we saw in the movie. They put a lot of work into thinking everything out, and it makes the movie more interesting that way. Unfortunately, said book is rare and expensive, so for now, I just get my extra facts from Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia more or less holds all the knowledge of the universe.
Anyway, after watching the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to buy it several days later. (Could not find it at first. And then, there it was. At the grocery store. It was fate that brought us together! Or more like the fact that I had remembered seeing it there a few weeks earlier. Still fate. But, why on Thra did the other stores not have it? Skeksis must in some way be responsible.) The DVD (that’s right, I still haven’t given in to Blu Ray and perhaps shan’t ever) had some extra features, most of which were meh. But, I really enjoyed the video on the making of the movie. All the characters are puppets, and it was fun to see how they did everything. It’s amazing how they can do the fingers, the facial expressions. And watching someone practice running around in an unfinished Skeksis costume was pretty funny.
So in short, it was a fun movie. Truly one of the most creative things I’ve seen in a while. The character design. Wow. It fills me with shame when I see my own original characters. You sicken me, my own creations. You sicken me.
My Skeksis Title Would Simply Be: The Duck (and I’d be the scariest of them all)
I recently saw the 1932 version of the movie “The Most Dangerous Game”, based off of the short story of the same name by Richard Connell. (I found it free on good, old youtube. I love youtube. The movie is supposedly a horror movie, though I didn’t find myself to be horrified.)
I feel a bit silly for my reason for watching the movie. I wanted to see it because I read that part of the video game, “Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc”, is based off this particular movie, so I was curious. The character from the game, Count Razoff, is based off of Count Zaroff from the movie. They are both lunatics that are overly obsessed with hunting and live in mansions in the middle of nowhere. Zaroff uses a bow or a rifle, and Razoff uses a rifle that shoots arrows. (And the most important similarity. Both are good at rolling their R’s.) In the game, Razoff hunts Rayman when he goes into the Count’s mansion. Razoff is apparently bent on turning Rayman into a rug or stuffing him. I guess he hasn’t decided on which yet. (I’d go with the rug myself.) In the movie, well, you’ll see. This post contains spoilers. If you’re allergic, you may need to leave. This post also contains nuts, in the case of Zaroff.
Anyway, the movie starts out on a ship. On this ship is our main character, Robert Rainsford, who is a hunter and wrote a book on hunting. Some of the people there are concerned that these lights for guiding the boat by this island are not where they should be. (I don’t know what they’re called. I can’t remember the last time I was on the high seas.) Meanwhile, a man is discussing hunting with Robert and asks him how he would feel if he was the one being hunted. Robert won’t give a straight answer because, after all, he’s the hunter, not the prey. Oh, Robert. You just walked into some major foreshadowing.
Well, the ship crashes, as we all hoped it would (hey, we want a story, don’t we?), and Robert is the only survivor. He manages to swim to the island nearby, where he finds a mansion. The mansion of Russian Count Zaroff, in fact, who lives there with a couple creepy servants. Zaroff tells Robert that another ship crashed recently, and the four survivors are staying with him. He asks Robert to stay with him until the boathouse is fixed. Only two of the other survivors are here currently, Eve (the token female, who wasn’t in the original story) and Martin, her drunk, annoying brother. The other two survivors, sailors, are not here. Apparently, they’ve been gone hunting the last couple of days.
Anyway, they talk, and we find that Zaroff is a hunter himself, and he has heard of Robert and even read his book. He also goes on to explain that hunting has become too easy and boring for him. He tried using a bow rather than a gun, but that didn’t help, so he decided he needed new game to hunt. “The most dangerous game,” in fact (hey, he stole the title), but he won’t say what. (My guess is goats. Those little buggers have goatees and will eat anything, the rogues. And have you seen their eyes…?)
Later, as Zaroff plays the piano for them, Eve takes Robert to the side and voices her suspicions. Ever since the sailors went with Zaroff into the trophy room, which is always kept locked, they haven’t been heard from again. And she suspects there is nothing wrong with the boathouse. Nonsense. Robert’s sure nothing weird’s going on here. I guess he forgot he’s in a movie, and movies need conflict.
Anyway, Eve and Robert are heading to their rooms for the night, and Martin says he and Zaroff should go hunting. Eve tells Martin to not stay up too late, and Martin says not to worry, Zaroff will take care of him, to which Zaroff responds, “Indeed I shall.” Oh, yes, Zaroff will take care of Martin, all right. Indeed he shall.
Later, Eve comes to Robert’s room. Martin still hasn’t returned, and she is worried. So they go look for him and see that the trophy room is unlocked. They go in, and it is dark. After a bit, they are shocked to find a human head mounted on the wall. Then, they hide as Zaroff and his henchmen come in carrying a suspicious bundle. Eve and Robert confront Zaroff, and they find out just what the bundle is. Or more accurately, who. (Good riddance, Martin, you obnoxious man, you! I mean, oh no!)
And this is where we find that soylent green is made of people. Wait, no, wrong movie. Eve is taken away while Robert is bound, and Zaroff explains that the prey he now hunts, “the most dangerous game”, is humans. Zaroff takes his victims to the trophy room before hunting them because they think he’s joking at first. He then asks Robert to hunt with him, but Robert refuses. In that case, Robert will just have to be Zaroff’s next prey, and Eve will be his once Robert is dead. Zaroff says he’ll give Robert a knife and a head start. At midnight, Zaroff will come after him, and if Robert survives until sunrise, Zaroff will let him and Eve go. But, Zaroff has never before lost.
Up until this point, the movie has been interesting, but here’s where it gets a little boring. Eve decides to go with Robert, and the two attempt to go as far as they can, but find that the island is quite small. So Robert sets out traps, but Zaroff is not so easily fooled. After the first trap, Zaroff replaces his bow with a rifle, and after the second one, Zaroff calls his hounds. (What a cheater! And who hunts with hounds, anyway? I still think goats are more ferocious.) So there’s a chase scene (my favorite, not!) that ends in one henchman dying and Robert battling a couple hounds by the edge of a waterfall. Zaroff shoots at him, and dog and man go tumbling to the water below. Zaroff, satisfied, returns home with Eve.
But, Robert is not dead, of course. Zaroff simply shot his own dog. Robert comes back into the mansion, and Zaroff congratulates him. He gives Robert the key to the boathouse and says that he and Eve are free to go. But, the dastardly Count isn’t going to give up so easily. He then pulls out a hidden handgun and Robert attacks him. Then, we have another one of my favorites, a fight scene (NOT!), during which the remaining creepy henchman also decides to join in, probably because it looks like so much fun. An injured Zaroff grabs his bow, but Robert stabs him with an arrow. Then, he and Eve make their getaway. They start to leave in a boat, and Zaroff, severely injured, goes to the window to shoot at them with his bow, but weak, falls through the window, supposedly down to his own hounds.
So there you have it. You’re all now victims of major movie spoilers. I thought it was a pretty good movie, despite some boring stuff. I most enjoyed the parts in Zaroff’s mansion before Martin goes missing. I thought it was kind of funny how Zaroff tries to tolerate the obnoxious Martin shortly before the drunk meets his demise. And it was much fun to see Count Razoff’s inspiration. I was also pleased that Eve’s clothes didn’t somehow all fall off at some point in the movie. Most women apparently have trouble keeping their clothes on. Not sure why.
The Most Dangerous Duck