Venganza Media Gazette

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Friday the 13th (2009) – Revisited

by Arnie Carvalho

“No matter how much you love the original films in the Friday the 13th series,
 it’s virtually indisputable that the 2009 remake/reboot/re-
imagining is far and away the best made of all of them.” 
— Adam-Troy Castro, Syfy.com

“Can we now admit ‘Friday the 13th’ 2009 was damn good?” 
— Michael White, Bloody-Disgusting.com

“It is one of the best film franchise reboots put out in theaters in the past 15 years.” 
— Jason Parker, Friday The 13th Franchise.com

“I’ve always been of the mind (and it’s a hill I’ll die on), that it kinda just 
makes no sense to be a fan of the original Friday the 13th movies and yet not
 a fan of Friday the 13th ’09”
 — John Squires, Editor in Chief of Bloody Disgusting.com, on Twitter

“Stay away from this movie. It really is one of the bad ones…
Run from this movie. Do not reward the makers with your money” 
— Arnie, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

“In three years no one, absolutely no one, will remember that they saw it, that
 they liked it, it will have no aftertaste whatsoever. People will remember 
the original, they will not remember this movie.” 
— Stuart, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

Still Now Playing 10 Years Later…

Today is a momentous day in my life. It’s a birthday of sorts.

While Now Playing Podcast started in 2007 it (like many shows, TV, radio, podcast, and otherwise) went through some growing pains. Cast changes, an irregular release schedule, and format changes all marred the first two years.

That began to change on January 9, 2009 — the date we released the first episode in our first retrospective series: a review of 1980’s Friday the 13th leading up to the 2009 reboot. The show went from two hosts to three (that would begin rotating later that same year). The “Recommend/Not Recommend” finale was solidified, as were patterns of series-specific opening credits, art, and titles for each film series.

Yet it’s arguably today, Friday, February 13th, that could be seen as Now Playing’s true 10th anniversary. It was the day we recorded our final Friday the 13th review. By that point we knew the retrospective was a big hit. Despite initial misgivings, we decided to immediately continue the format and review Star Trek leading up to its reboot. Stuart even went out and bought a microphone and literally stopped “phoning it in.”

I’ll never forget the night of Friday, February 13th, 2009. I was in New York City covering Toy Fair International. I went to see the Friday the 13th reboot in a Times Square movie theater, accompanied by my wife Marjorie. The excitement that caused me to begin the retrospective series was reaching its peak as the lights went down and the movie started.

Flash forward to five hours later. I’m in our hotel room (small, as most all NYC rooms are). I’m pacing. My iPhone 3G is hot against my face from being on a call for so long. I’m on a telephone recording my disappointment with the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot. Brock is in Chicago recording the call, and he would edit the show released to our listeners the following Monday.

All three of us had very similar reactions, and the reboot became the fourth Friday the 13th, out of 12, to get three red arrows on our website.

I honestly never looked back.

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity” — Robert Morgan

As the 10th anniversary of the Friday the 13th reboot approached I came upon an interesting and unexpected turn of events: a number of think pieces were published celebrating the film. Even those who had reacted poorly to the movie initially had come around and not only enjoyed but celebrated director Marcus Nispel’s fresh take on iconic slasher Jason Voorhees (played by Derek Mears).

I started to question my own memory. Could they be right? Could that movie have aged well?

Having been a movie critic for over a decade I know from experience one of the hardest things to do when reviewing a film is to separate expectations from the final product. Movies are marketed to create expectations–to get you into a theater seat and spending money expecting delivery on what trailers, interviews, and even posters have sold.

Going into Friday the 13th in 2009 my expectations were sky high. I had loved Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake far more than the original Tobe Hooper film. I loved Jason as a killer. Jason’s last appearance on screen in 2003’s Freddy vs Jason was one of his best, and that movie’s writing team of Damian Shannon and Mark Swift were writers for the remake.

Could the movie have been good, or at least recommendable, but simply not met my expectations?

10 years have passed, so I decided to find out. For this re-review of 2009’s Friday the 13th I watched the extended “Killer Cut” released on Blu-Ray and Video on Demand. This cut was nine minutes longer than what I saw in theaters.

The Review

I watched the movie having not listened to our 2009 podcast since it was released. I remembered very little going in, only that Stuart thought Jason was a pothead. Then after watching the movie I listened to our old podcast to see what it was that got me so worked up.

SPOILERS BELOW for this 10-year-old movie!

I liked the opening. This is a reboot, and people want Jason as the killer, not old lady Pamela Voorhees. Yet Pamela’s plight from Sean S. Cunningham’s 1980 original Friday is integral to the Jason mythos. To have the climax of the original movie done in montage fashion pays homage and checks the boxes. It does create a confusing timeline as to Jason’s supposed drowning, but handled well.

Then we have the second prologue and, not having seen the movie in a decade, I was faked out. I thought this would be the movie and these five characters, Wade (Jonathan Sadowski), Richie (Ben Feldman), Mike (Nick Mennell), Whitney (Amanda Righetti), and Amanda (America Olivo), were going to be our core cast. They actually seem like a fun group and call back to so many earlier Friday the 13th casts where there’s couples hooking up…and the lonely odd man out. That Jason comes in and killed so many so quickly was a shock.

Then comes our new Jason by Derek Mears. One of my big problems in 2009 goes back to expectation: I was used to the Jason played by Kane Hodder. Jason had gone through many iterations, from bag-wearing woodsman to space-zombie, but the walking after people who run, the nearly supernatural way of catching the prey, seemed like a staple.

This Jason was fast and aggressive. He killed brutally. And he used tools and more thought power than earlier Jasons. Hanging one woman over the campfire to burn while setting a bear trap for another victim really wasn’t in Jason’s modus operandi. But then I had to remember, this is a reboot, not a remake. The Friday the 13th series had lost its luster by doing the same things again and again. In 2009 I couldn’t reconcile this Jason with the ones before. Now I realize this reboot gives us an entirely new Jason.

If I just accept this is a new character, perhaps call him “Jimmy Voorhees”, I’d have no trouble with these new killings. Nispel wanted to revitalize the character and return him to his violent, horror roots. Nearly 30 years had passed since Jason first wielded his machete. It may not be the Jason I wanted, but this viewing I can accept this “Jimmy Voorhees.”

The two characters coming upon Jason’s cabin (plus the bag over Jason’s head) took me back to 1981’s Friday the 13th Part II, and I can go with it.

Not only did the prologue surprise me in killing (seemingly) everyone so fast, I also understand the need to have a body count. One of the pressures with each new horror movie installment was to have more kills. Here, we establish Jason as a badass killer, and we got five good kills. And for those who expect topless women in your Friday films, you got that out of the way too.

Plus, the gore! I was watching the unrated cut, but I marveled at how freely the blood flowed.

Then we actually get to the movie. Again, my expectation was, since we had Shannon and Swift writing again, that we would have a group of fun, believable characters like they gave us in Freddy vs. Jason. Instead, we have a group of character types that would never be friends. I had a real problem with that in theaters.

Yet, when watching it at home on a television, I found myself more forgiving. How many groups of totally different people went camping together in the past? Sure, Parts 1 and 2 made them counsellors thrown together, and 8 had them as classmates, but the victims in parts 3 and 4, and especially 7, don’t feel like they’d hang out together either. So, is this bad writing…or is this an intentional homage to the bad writing in previous installments? More, if I can accept these weird groups in earlier films, why not here too? So, I compartmentalized that complaint and, instead, found these seven young adults appealing, flawed characters, most of whom were obviously going to end up impaled on a machete.

Trent (Travis Van Winkle) is a great douche you love to hate (and with a rich boy name like Travis Van Winkle I wonder how much he was acting). Bree (Julianna Guill) is a wonderful seductress, and the attraction Chewie (Aaron Yoo) shows for Bree takes me back to Crispin Glover’s character in The Final Chapter.

Lawrence (Arien Escarpeta) is a stoner that feels like he would hang out with Chewie. The other couple of Chelsea (Willa Ford) and Nolan (Ryan Hansen) aren’t in the film long enough for me to get a bead on them.

Which does raise one flaw–this group is too big to keep track of. They’re here for a body count, but I’m not sure they are disparate enough where I can even assign them tropes of “the smart one” and “the shy one”, etc. Especially Chelsea and Nolan, they are the flattest of characters.

Then we have typical last-girl Jenna (Danielle Panabaker). Like so many Jason survivors in films past, she’s a brunette, she’s smart, she doesn’t smoke weed, and she doesn’t get naked. And when she encounters, and partners with, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) who is searching for his missing sister Whitney, I’m taken back (in a positive way) to the similar plot in The Final Chapter.

The kills also are varied. I had a problem with Jason using an arrow to kill Nolan, but he used a crossbow in Part II so this wasn’t so far off. And again, this is the new “Jimmy Voorhees.” He’s a survivalist. He has to hunt to survive. It makes sense he’d be good with a bow. (It equally makes sense that this Jason is far more intelligent than the previous incarnations and so he uses Kerosene to power his home). And Chelsea’s machete-in-the-head gave Jason his usual, nearly supernatural sense of where his victims hide.

So halfway in the movie I wonder…was I too harsh on Friday the 13th? Did I allow my expectation to cloud what was delivered?

The answer is….partially, for the movie really does fall apart in the second half.

Nispel was best known (and may still be best known) for his Texas Chainsaw reboot. I don’t know if Nispel rewrote any of Shannon and Swift’s script, but the second half does turn this new Jason into a wannabe Leatherface. Why are there catacombs underneath Camp Crystal Lake? It makes no sense. Why did Jason kidnap Whitney? It makes no sense. Why does Whitney look so good after six weeks of captivity? It makes no sense.

Yet the deaths continue to impress. In this “Killer Cut” Chewie’s slow death in the tool shed was painful to watch as he writhes, groans, and bleeds for a very long time. Lawrence’s kill by Jason throwing an ax goes back to the survivalist skills, and creates a more “realistic” Jason who can’t just walk after every person who runs.

The best death/fake-out may belong to Trent, though. Waving down a tow truck, a silent hand waves Trent to get on. Can this Jason drive a car? No…it’s an old man on oxygen, unable to shout to the young man whose hesitation results in his being impaled on the truck as it drives away.

Yet another decent fake-out is Jenna. She seemed like the perfect “last girl” and, echoing The Final Chapter‘s Trish, I thought it was a given she’d escape. But two brunettes is one to many in a Friday the 13th film so when Whitney is discovered alive Jenna had to die.

The rest is pretty rote action with Jason just dead enough for a climax, yet, of course, always ready to come back for another sequel.

The Verdict

So, was I too harsh on the 2009 Friday the 13th? Yes, I clearly was. My expectation of what the previous Fridays had given clouded my ability to appreciate the changes Nispel tried to bring to make a Jason that could be scary in the 21st century.

Yet, the writing becomes very lazy in the second half. The film is almost a straight downward line, its quality decreasing with every passing frame of film, start to end. At no point does the body of the film reach the highs of its two prologues.

While this is a totally new Jason, much of the film, including the group of victims, is a throwback to the installments released 1980-1984. I wasn’t a fan of many of those early groups, so this is not a success, but it’s not worthy of the damnation I gave on the podcast.

So is it a recommend or not recommend?

It is on the borderline. I think that slasher fans will have a lot to enjoy, while old school Friday the 13th fans will have a lot to swallow.

The ridiculous ending, including everything after the rescue of Whitney (the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.



(the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.

Yet the film has had a longer lifespan than I had imagined ten years ago today and, had it not been for endless legal wrangling over Friday the 13th’s IP rights, I have no doubt “Jimmy Voorhees” would have returned to slay again.

Yet while lawsuits continue over who has the right to make the next Friday film, I look forward to it. Ten years is the longest Jason has ever gone without a movie since his inception in 1980. He is missed, and hopefully Jason Voorhees, not “Jimmy”, will return to the silver screen again in the near future.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!

Hear Now Playing Podcast’s original retrospective series, 12 reviews of Friday the 13th films (plus a bonus recap episode), all available now at NowPlayingPodcast.com

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Summer NOW PLAYING is Now Playing in Theaters!

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When Now Playing Podcast’s X-Men: Apocalypse episode arrived last week, it kick started a summer schedule stacked with week of release reviews for the 9-year-old show and its panel of hosts.

In a way, Now Playing is going back to the beginning.

Longtime listeners will remember the early days, when the show launched with the goal of reviewing a just released flick every week. Those 2007-08 era shows are notable for their shorter run times (the first Iron Man review runs a little more than 8 minutes) and films that would never fit in Now Playing Retrospective Series (reviews of Fever Pitch and 21 are standout examples).

Show creator and producer Arnie Carvalho reflected on that time.  “The original idea for Now Playing was to be weekly, recorded off-the-cuff immediately after stepping out of a theater. There was to be no editing, just a ‘live on tape’ show. We’ve come a long way since those days.  First came editing, then came retrospectives, then came lots of editing!”

Having established its popularity and found its footing with the first retrospective (for Friday the 13th) in 2009, the show has stuck to its celebrated formula – review every film in a series leading up to the latest release. In summer that usually means a handful of new release reviews wrapped inside the longer retrospectives. Summer 2015, for example, was largely dedicated to the Mad Max and Mission Impossible franchises, with appearances by Marvel heroes and that Terminator sequel we’ve all forgotten.

The summer slate that begins with the aforementioned X-Men review will see the hosts back in theaters for eight new releases over the next 11 weeks, reviewing everything from the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Trek sequels, to DC Comics’ Suicide Squad. Three new retrospective series’ will make their debuts this summer, with Matt Damon’s Bourne films taking up the most space on the calendar, and the Independence Day and Ghostbusters franchises offered as a bonus in Now Playing’s bi-annual donation drive.

“The shows we do within days of their US premiere are simply more difficult shows,” Carvalho said. “In three days or less we have to do research that would usually take a week. We have to coordinate our (busy) schedules to find weekend recording time. Then the editor has 20-40 hours of work to cram into just two days.  But we are very excited to be doing the films we are, and our listeners match that anticipation, so all of the work is worth it.  It looks like a good summer.  Out of these eight movies, I’m very excited for six of them!”

Listeners may even be in for a surprise or two, the host hinted. What that means is anyone’s guess, as the calendar turns to June and Now Playing’s summer schedule is stacked through Suicide Squad. The current schedule can be seen at the show’s website, and if you look closely your eyes are not deceiving you – there are two reviews coming for The Bourne Identity. Listeners who love Now Playing’s completist approach to Hollywood franchises will be delighted to know there was a 1988 television movie adaptation of the story, starring a post-Alan Quatermain Richard Chamberlain and former Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith. That should be good.

“Our listeners love when we go obscure. So Chamberlain in a mini-series that hews more closely to the original novel than the Damon films? We’re in!”

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Movies, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on This Summer NOW PLAYING is Now Playing in Theaters!

New Podcast: Star Wars Action News Ep 441: 1995 – Now: 20 Years of Modern Figures

2015 marks Hasbro’s 20th consecutive year of making Hasbro Star Wars figures.  In1995 the first figures in what’s dubbed “Hasbro’s modern figure line” were released–the Power of the Force series.  To commemorate this, Star Wars Action News hosts Marjorie and Arnie dug deep into the show archives to bring you an encore presentation of this episode from 1995!
Join Marjorie and Arnie as they review Wave 1 of Kenner’s Power of the Force 2 figure line, including Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and the Stormtrooper!
Then join Brock for the review of the then-new novel Darksaber, and Nathan P. Butler reflects on the conclusion of the Dark Empire saga with the “new” release Empire’s End!
All that, plus a look back on what it means to have 20 years of figures, on this encore presentation of Star Wars Action News!
We want you to join our team! We have openings currently for video editors, audio editors, and photo editors! Find out all the details! 
And welcome our new show sponsor — Dorkside Toys – with new Black Series and Rebels figures up for pre-order now!   
Download the show now at http://swactionnews.com

January 26, 2015 Posted by | News, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Podcast: Star Wars Action News Ep 441: 1995 – Now: 20 Years of Modern Figures

New Podcast: Star Wars Action News Episode 438: Tarkin ‘Bout Toys

It’s been a long time since Star Wars action figure collectors could shop exclusively at their local brick-and-mortar stores to get the figures they wanted.  Since the release of Hasbro’s The Vintage Collection in 2010 store supplies have been scarce.  Now, however, that seems ready to change!  Across the country collectors are finding new Black Series figures in both 3.75-inch and 6-inch lines, plus new Rebels and Mission Series figures too!  On this episode of Star Wars Action News you can listen to find out which stores to hit to score full waves of new figures.
Also on this week’s show, Arnie and Marjorie discuss Hot Toys’ first exclusive release in their Star Wars Movie Masterpiece Series–the Shadow Stormtrooper.  A repaint of their basic Stormtrooper figure, this release sold out in just a few hours at Sideshow Collectibles.  What’s the fuss all about?  Listen to find out!

With a review of James Lucino’s new Star Wars novel Tarkin and Jerry looking back on books of yesteryear, and ThinkGeek plushes too, you’ll find all this and more in this Episode of Star Wars Action News!

We want you to join our team! We have openings currently for video editors, audio editors, and photo editors! Find out all the details in our forums!

December 16, 2014 Posted by | News, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Podcast: Star Wars Action News Episode 438: Tarkin ‘Bout Toys

Star Wars Action News “Sithmas Exchange” Registry is Open

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REGISTRATION OPENS FOR STAR WARS ACTION NEWS SITHMAS GIFT EXCHANGE

Annual event gives fans chance to have a Force-full holiday!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Springfield, Ill – November 26, 2014 – Today Star Wars Action News, the premier podcast for Star Wars collectors, launched its  annual “Sithmas” holiday gift exchange for listeners looking to send a lightsaber to a fellow fan or find a new Speeder Bike sitting on their doorstep.

Anyone who has ever participated in a “Secret Santa” gift exchange will be familiar with the Star Wars Action News formula; just register online to receive a gift from a fellow participant and you’ll be assigned to buy a gift for someone else taking part in the program.

“Star Wars Action News was founded on the idea of collectors helping collectors,” said creator and host Arnie Carvalho. “From original art to rare figures, the gifts represent the diversity of our audience, and to see people participating worldwide is such a treat.”

The “Sithmas Exchange” gives participants a chance to put together a “wish list” of favorite toy lines, characters, and other items they hope to receive, so the gift-giver isn’t left wandering the aisles of Toys ‘R Us or Target without a clue.

Minimum total gift cost is $20, although past events have seen listeners go above and beyond to gift the perfect Star Wars item to a fellow collector.

Those who wish to participate in the “Sithmas Exchange” can find rules, important shipping details, and a registration form on the Star Wars Action News website. Registration is open until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2014.

About Star Wars Action News

The Star Wars Action News podcast is dedicated to covering Star Wars collectibles of all shapes and sizes. From action figures to art to high-end statues, Star Wars Action News brings listeners biweekly news and reviews, as well as in-depth convention coverage and interviews with toy makers and celebrity collectors.

About Venganza Media Inc.

Based in Springfield, Ill., Venganza Media Inc. is a privately-owned multimedia production facility and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action NewsMarvelicious Toys, and the company’s flagship program, Now Playing Podcast. Since its formation in 2005, Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

Facebook: Star Wars Action News

Twitter: @SWActionNews

November 26, 2014 Posted by | Movies, News, Star Wars | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Star Wars Action News “Sithmas Exchange” Registry is Open

Marvelicious Gift ‘X-Change’ Registry is Open

 

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REGISTRATION OPENS FOR MARVELICIOUS TOYS HOLIDAY GIFT X-CHANGE

4TH annual event gives fans chance to celebrate Merry Marvel Madness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Springfield, Ill – November 25, 2014 – Today Marvelicious Toys, the premier podcast for Marvel collectors, launched its 4th annual holiday gift “X-Change” for listeners looking to send Spider-Man web shooters to a fellow fan or find a Rocket Raccoon statue sitting on their doorstep.

Anyone who has ever participated in a “Secret Santa” gift exchange will be familiar with the Marvelicious formula; just register online to receive a gift from a fellow participant and you’ll be assigned to buy a gift for someone else taking part in the program.

“Marvelicious Toys was founded on the idea of collectors helping collectors,” said creator and host Arnie Carvalho. “From original art to rare figures, the gifts represent the diversity of our audience, and to see people participating worldwide is such a treat.”

The Marvelicious “X-Change” gives participants a chance to put together a “wish list” of favorite toy lines, characters, and other items they hope to receive, so the gift-giver isn’t left wandering the aisles of Toys ‘R Us or Target without a clue.

Minimum total gift cost is $20, although past events have seen listeners go above and beyond to gift the perfect Marvel item to a fellow collector.

Those who wish to participate in the “X-Change” can find rules, important shipping details, and a registration form on the Marvelicious Toys website. Registration is open until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2014.

About Marvelicious Toys

The Marvelicious Toys podcast is dedicated to covering Marvel Comics collectibles of all shapes and sizes. From action figures to art to high-end statues, Marvelicious Toys brings listeners biweekly news and reviews, as well as in-depth convention coverage and interviews with toy makers and celebrity collectors.

About Venganza Media Inc.

Based in Springfield, Ill., Venganza Media Inc. is a privately-owned multimedia production facility and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action NewsMarvelicious Toys, and the company’s flagship program, Now Playing Podcast. Since its formation in 2005, Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

Facebook: Marvelicious Toys

Twitter: @MarveliciousToy

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, News, Site Information | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Marvelicious Gift ‘X-Change’ Registry is Open

Corn Connection: ‘The Gathering’ surprises with actual stars

“This can’t be right, I know these people.” – Arnie Ccorn4

Now Playing Podcast surprised listeners Monday night with the early release of its Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering review, the latest entry in the Stephen King Retrospective Series.

The film was certainly not in award contention when it hit video stores in 1996, but many of its stars may look familiar to viewers, and one member of the cast would go on to greater fame and an Academy Award nomination.

In this week’s Corn Connection, we’re taking that star’s resume, along with the rest of the Corn IV cast, and pointing you toward their places in the Now Playing Podcast archives:

Naomi Watts (Grace Rhodes) DC Heroes Retrospective Series

Naomi Watts is a household name today, but the 21 Grams and Mulholland Drive actress had just a few indie credits under her belt when she headlined in The Gathering. Her most notable role at the time of the film’s release was alongside Lori Petty in Tank Girl, a poorly-received adaptation of the British comic book.

Tank Girl was reviewed in 2013 as part of Now Playing’s DC Heroes Retrospective Series.

Karen Black (June Rhodes) – Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects Retrospective Series

Karen Black, who passed away last year, had enjoyed a long career before appearing in Children of the Corn IV. Today she is celebrated as a pioneering “Scream Queen” and horror fans may know her best from her role as Mother Firefly in director Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.

Now Playing reviewed House and its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, in 2009.

William Windom (Doc Larson)Planet of the Apes Retrospective Series

This actor’s IMDB resume lists more than 250 credits, but he wasn’t a star in the Now Playing universe until this past summer, when the hosts reviewed Escape from the Planet of the Apes, a show that was made available during the Spring 2014 Donation Series.

Marietta Marich (Rosa Nock)The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Retrospective Series

Marich should be recognizable to Now Playing listeners; she played Luda Mae Hewitt, the matriarch of the crazed clan that raised Leatherface in 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2006 prequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.

Both films were covered during 2010’s Chainsaw retrospective.

Harrison Young (Drifter)Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects Retrospective Series

Another actor who went on to work for Rob Zombie, Harrison Young starred as doomed father Don Willis in House of 1000 Corpses. You might also recognize him as the elder Private Ryan in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

Overall, those are some pretty good connections. Things should pick up next week when Now Playing covers the fifth (of nine!) Corn entries. We won’t spoil it, just go to IMDB if you’re curious.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

September 9, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: ‘The Gathering’ surprises with actual stars

‘Turtles’ Power Now Playing on iTunes, ‘Children’ lurking

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Now Playing Podcast is leaving the sewers and venturing into the cornfields.

Venganza Media’s flagship podcast capped its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Retrospective Series this week with its review of the Michael Bay-produced franchise reboot. The film marked the Turtles’ return to the big screen after a 7-year layoff and captured the box office crown on opening weekend.

Now Playing Podcast marked its own triumph on Thursday, when its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) episode debuted at No. 5 on iTunes’ TV & Film audio podcast rankings.

The achievement extends Now Playing’s summer winning streak, highlighted by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II episode, which peaked at No. 2 on iTunes in late July.

Throughout the TMNT series, hosts Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson and Jakob Brewster have guided listeners through the highs and lows of Ninja Turtles lore, and ventured outside of the feature films to discuss long-forgotten turns in the franchise’s history, including the infamous Coming Out Of Their Shells concert tour.

“Turtle Power is a real thing, it cannot be underestimated,” Atkinson joked. “I give all the credit to those green guys. They’ve been through hell at the movies and they deserve a little Top 10 love.”

With theNP_SKSeries-ChildrenCornArt_1400 Turtles franchise now in their rear view, the hosts are set to begin the next chapter in Now Playing’s massive Stephen King retrospective. The series, which began last fall, picks up again Aug. 19 with Children of the Corn, a nine-episode arc that will complete Now Playing’s coverage of King’s Night Shift collection.

The first Corn adaptation hit theaters in 1984 and was followed by seven poorly-received sequels, as well as a television remake. Fans of Now Playing’s earliest horror retrospective series’ can look forward to the hosts continuing their discussion of Hollywood’s sequel addiction as they try their best to remain composed in the face of mediocre filmmaking.

“Reviewing Night Shift has been a long haul, and I say that as the King fan!” Carvalho said. “I haven’t watched most of these Corn films, but they made nine of them — there has to be something there, right?”

“Nine films? Most direct-to-video?” Brewster added. “I just hope I can come up with enough corn puns to bring a kernel of humor to our listeners’ ears. Sigh.”

The Children of the Corn series will carry Now Playing Podcast into early October, before the hosts embark on a journey through the films of director Christopher Nolan, leading up to the release of November’s Interstellar.

August 14, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Turtles’ Power Now Playing on iTunes, ‘Children’ lurking

Venganza Media Now Offering Video Podcasts for Star Wars Action News & Marvelicious Toys

In 2005 I started Star Wars Action News, the first podcast focused solely on Star Wars collecting.  Our first podcasts were rough, but from that first episode I was focused on improving, both in terms of content and in terms of technology.  We focused on improving our audio quality, and our photography, eventually setting up a photo studio and going from consumer grade to professional DSLR cameras.

But by 2008 listeners started telling us about a new podcast format offered by Apple – the enhanced M4A file.  This new podcast type allowed broadcasters to insert chapter markers in our shows, and to have a constantly updating slideshow.  For a show focused on collecting this seemed like a must-have, but there was a barrier:  this was Apple only.  To make an enhanced podcast required a Mac computer, and then the enhanced podcast could only be viewed on an iPod, iPhone, or in Quicktime software.

Still, thanks to the help of our staff, specifically Kevin Gawthrope who enhanced our show every week for the first year, and then Berent Lawton who has tirelessly enhanced our shows for five years–four of which he was the only enhancer.

The result was an instant success–the enhanced podcast was downloaded 10-times more than the audio-only MP3, and one listener, Fernanda, actually crashed her car due to the detailed images included in our enhanced podcast review of Master Replicas’ Millennium Falcon.  We were the first enhanced Star Wars podcast, and in the years since while podcasts about Star Wars toys have proliferated only one other to my knowledge offers an enhanced podcast.

Then in 2010 we added to the roster including an enhanced podcast version of Marvelicious Toys, offering listeners  the only enhanced podcast dedicated completely to Marvel toy collecting.  For collecting shows it seems that having images synched with the audio would be required, but in my experience only one other podcast that even discusses Marvel toys (and it is only a small portion of their content) is enhanced.

But now I do imagine the number of enhanced podcasts will actually decrease rather than increase, for in the past 5 years Apple has started to deprecate the M4A format.  Early versions of the iPad would not show enhanced images.  Then in iTunes 11 Apple buried the ability to view the enhanced images.  Finally, in GarageBand version 10 chapter settings were removed that made enhancing podcasts a reality.

The writing was on the wall–the Apple enhanced M4A will eventually disappear completely.  These changes to Apple’s software has already led many listeners to think our enhanced podcasts were discontinued, all due to Apple’s software “upgrades.”

But our desire at Venganza Media to continue to improve, both in content and technology, has continued.  Firstly, we do not want to be caught unprepared when the M4A file dies completely.  But equally important, at the same time as Apple slowly kills the enhanced podcast format listeners are also moving away from Apple.  Our site statistics show a significant increase in listeners coming in through Android and Windows phones and tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy, the HTC One, and Microsoft Surface.

Why should Apple users have all the fun?

So starting today, January 1, 2014, the team at Venganza Media is converting all our enhanced podcasts to video podcasts.  That’s right, each week Venganza Media will now be putting out at least 1 hour of video content, delivered in 720p HD!

We have worked for weeks to find the perfect MP4 encoding that works on Apple, Windows, and Android devices.  These video shows will continue to have chapter markers for the devices which support that technology.  Additionally, these shows will enable us to have dynamic, moving pictures and, when the item warrants it, video recordings adding a totally new, dynamic element to our shows.  We do know that with any change are some trade-offs–these video podcasts will be about twice the size of our normal enhanced podcast resulting in a longer download time and a bit more use of space on your phone or tablet, but we hope that our listeners will agree these are minor downsides compared to the ability to offer HD video.  Additionally, for those who cannot view HD video or do not want the additional file size, audio-only copies will continue to be available (as they always have been for non-Apple users).

None of this would be possible without the effort of the podcast enhancing/video editing team of Berent, Andrew Harrison, Shane Rossman, and Daryl Whitlow.  Supporting this effort also is Marvelicious Toys graphic designer Justin Kozisek and Star Wars Action News graphic designer Chris Klink, who will be redesigning our logos for the new HD format.

As with any new technology we fully anticipate a learning curve, and we appreciate you sticking with us as we adopt this new technology.  Know that we do it to provide you with a more entertaining and informative show to help you collect better!

The first video podcast is now available, Marvelicious Toys Episode 106.  You can view that now at marvelicioustoys.com

Thank you for listening to our show, and we look forward to brining you great audio and video content in 2014!  We are very excited by what this will mean for our coverage of New York Toy Fair in February, 2014–just don’t watch it while driving!

January 1, 2014 Posted by | Marvelicious Toys, Podcasts, Star Wars Action News | , , | 1 Comment