S.M. Douglas

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Year: 2015 (page 1 of 3)

The Mountain Breaks 1,000 Year Old Viking Record

Hafthór Björnsson, who plays Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane in the Game of Thrones recently broke a 1,000 year old Viking record when he carried a 1,433 pound 30 foot long log five steps.

According to Viking legend the prior record holder was Ormur Stórólfsson who is said to have carried for three steps the mast of a ship that weighed 1,250lbs. Unfortunately for Stórólfsson his back is said to have broken after the third step. Björnsson fared much better in not only beating Stórólfsson’s ancient accomplishment earlier this year, but surviving the process intact as can be seen below: Continue reading

Was 1981 the Best Year in Horror Film History?

Here we are folks. I have been building toward this post for an entire year. Last October I discussed how 1981 featured several of the greatest werewolf films and transformations of all time. Then, this spring I waded into the controversy over two of the more iconic nature-horror films of all time: both featuring lions and both released in 1981.

At that point I probably could have stopped with quite a case built as to why 1981 was a great year for horror fans. But of course horror is much more than werewolves and animals run amok. For instance, I haven’t even mentioned as of yet perhaps the most successful horror genre of the past forty years – the slasher film. Largely kicked off by the October 1974 release of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which introduced several key elements of the genre – including murder by power tools and a powerful mask wearing killer) the genre exploded in popularity during the early 1980’s. Continue reading

Star Wars In The News

Needless to say with the upcoming December 18th release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens all things Star Wars are everywhere. Now some may bemoan this marketing blitz, but this is nothing new.

Back in the Star Wars “golden age” of the late 1970’s to early 1980’s we also had marketing appearances by the actors, toy promotions, and all kinds of other fun stuff. And yet those efforts to further capitalize on the immense popularity of George Lucas’ creation seemed so much more innocent. Continue reading

R.I.P. Wes Craven

Yesterday Wes Craven died of brain cancer at the age of 76. And though he will probably be most often remembered for creating Freddy Krueger, he did much more than that.

Freddy Krueger

Perhaps his most important accomplishment was to almost single-handedly advance the horror sub-genre of blurred reality (and yes I just made that name up – there must be a more accurate term out there). In the films “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977), “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984), “The Serpent and the Rainbow” (1988), and “The People Under the Stairs” (1991) he consistently offered something new by creating characters dealing with dreams and fantasies that had a terrifying and lethal overlap with reality.

And for that matter he further dabbled in such concepts via his wildly successful “Scream” franchise.  Even as he battled cancer to its ultimate conclusion he (along with Steve Niles) created the new 5-issue comic book dealing with the most iconic creatures in horror: zombies, werewolves and vampires. For all of that and much more he will be missed.

Shark Week 2015

As everyone not living under a rock knows Shark Week came early this year. And though I am not a fan of the July running time (versus the standard August airing that otherwise provided much needed entertainment value to the dog days of summer) give the Discovery Channel their due. Shark Week 2015 was a success.

Big Great White

Readers may remember my comments on last year’s woeful edition, and I am happy to say that other than a few glitches Discovery Channel got it right this year. This is important not just for Discovery Channel’s bottom line, but for sharks as well.

Discovery Channel made a big effort to return Shark Week to the elements that originally made it worth watching, as noted by Howard Swartz, Discovery’s vice-president of documentaries and specials. Swartz has publicly stated this year’s goal was to kill the bullshit about extinct sharks mysteriously still living today, and focus on science-based television. And that they almost did.

Several episodes were particularly strong, including “Shark Trek”, “Monster Mako”, “Alien Sharks”, “Tiburones: The Sharks of Cuba”, “Ninja Sharks”, “Shark Planet”, “Sharks of the Shadowlands”, and “Shark Clans”. Though each had flaws, the decision to branch out and discuss sharks such as the Thresher, Seven-Gill, Mako, and Salmon Shark was much appreciated. I hope next year follows up on what was undeniably a strong line-up.

Careful readers will note that only two of the episodes listed above truly focused on Great White sharks. I am not bagging on Great White’s – I love them, hands down my favorite animal alive. And even the episodes I am about to critique were worth watching, albeit with the sound muted, just to see these incredible animals. For whatever reason the Discovery Channel still seems to want to get gimmicky when it comes to embellishing a creature that is so magnificent it doesn’t even come close to deserving the schlock treatment.

To that end I am first singling out “Island of the Mega Shark” as being sub-par. For one reason the enormous female Great White “Deep Blue” repeatedly singled out as “pregnant” was clearly merely fattened up by recent consumption of an elephant seal.

Biggest-Great White Filmed

To date there is absolutely no evidence that near term Great White’s would get anywhere near a prime hunting ground, especially given that big Great White’s are known to eat smaller one’s. Why can’t you just enjoy the fact that you managed to capture on film one of the biggest Great White’s ever seen and let the viewers enjoy that? In addition, was it really necessary to have “Dicky” involved. The guy is a tool. He has no business anywhere near a research vessel. For that matter Discovery Channel would do well to push the non-scientists/non-experts into the background. The strongest episodes were all one’s where the scientist’s (or people like Rodney Fox who are clearly experts on shark behavior and identification) had leading roles.

Second place on the list of the worst episodes was “The Return of the Great White Serial Killer” which though interesting in theory simply did not warrant an entire hour. Not only was it incredibly speculative, but it was largely a retread of previous episodes. It could have been greatly strengthened by discussing the relationship between Great Whites, their prey, and how humans inadvertently end up in the mix in California waters in particular.

Finally, one of the other poorly done episodes would have to be “Super Predator”. It was incredibly frustrating in large part because the real story was right there in front of the Discovery Channel team. But they chose to ignore it in favor of some strained inference that maybe a Megalodon type shark is hunting the depths of the Southern Ocean. Stop it! Note to Discovery Channel, had you focused on the actual fact that there is this place where because of unique currents and underwater geography it creates an enormous buffet for some of earth’s biggest predators that would have been a great story worth exploring.

Overall I would give Discovery Channel a B+ for its efforts. Hopefully they continue in the direction they are going. In the meantime buckle up – It’s time for Sharknado 3! Yikes!

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