There's been a buzz of activity over the past week, so Shock-O-Rama will be a mixed bag off coverage today instead of a singularly focused piece.
Sharknado 2: Electric Boogaloo
So Sharknado 2: The Second One happened, spawning a second social media maelstrom which should likely encourage round three from the channel that doubles down on Y's (it's seriously 50% of their name). The general internet public gobbles this stuff up, but it feels like a disingenuous win (most of these excited people don't actually like cult/bad movies). After all it isn't the film which draws in the audience; it's the interactive nature of participating in a cultural tent pole. And as Wil Wheaton tweeted about his secret cameo death, Matt and Al from the Today Show (network SYNERGY) straighface reported on impending shark storms, and I missed half a dozen celebrity sightings during a single trip to the fridge for a new cold one, America was in the grips of something they hadn't felt since the domineering fist of the internet took over: yearly special fever.
Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer. Frosty the Snowman. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!. The Little Drummer Boy. Back in the day these specials were just that: special. They ran once, perhaps twice a year. Home video wasn't a thing; on demand and streaming lived only in the realm of science fiction. In exchange for omnipresent access to content, we lost this amazing joint cultural experience- everyone watched Frosty that same evening because that's when it was on. Afterward everyone had a shared experience to draw upon in conversation; in relating to one another. Sharknado and Sharknado 2, for all of their faults, offer that same cultural touchstone experience to an entirely new generation, one which doesn't have a frame of reference for once a year specials, but wants to be connected with everyone else- at least for one night.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has blown the doors off the box office, jockeyed for position near the head of the 'Apes cinematic hierarchy, and sparked serious discussion about the potential for an Oscar nomination for Andy Serkis (no question; he deserves a nomination). With this second new entry in the 'Apes series comes a new wave of folks who will want to Go Ape! (Human see, human do) While it's easy for newly converted fans to jump in their Icarus, fly back in time, and watch the films beginning with Chuck Heston as Bright Eyes, becoming engrossed in all media Apes is a much more daunting prospect. That is unless you have From Aldo to Zira: Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia by Rich Handley (coincidently also the author of Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology).
From Aldo to Zira (great title for an apes based romantic comedy) is indispensable for anyone seeking to explore the fringier aspects to all things 'of the Apes'. In addition to detailed entries on all aspects of the film series through the Tim Burton miscarriage, this reference covers absolutely all of the TV show, the various comic books, the original novel, any video game adaptations, AND the stage production (oooooooohhhh Doctor Zaius!). With 422 detailed and illustrated pages, and a handy legend to assist in differentiating what is and is not canonical, Handley will guide you through even the most minor of Apes minutia. Snag a copy Here, and happy human hunting.
John Fasano - RIP
The cult cinemascape was stunned and saddened to learn of the passing of writer, director, editor, and rockin' human being, John Fasano on July 19th. Perhaps most famous on the scene for his 80's collaborations with body rocker Jon Mikl Thor (Zombie Nightmare and Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare), his extensive body of work also includes more mainstream recognizable fare like Another 48 Hrs, Universal Soldier: The Return, and Darkness Falls, all of which he wrote. While Fasano's cult shadow may not stretch as far as other household horror names, his loss is no less felt, especially at the comparatively young age of 52. While I may crack wise when referencing Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare, it's always with a reverential spirit- I earnestly and unironically enjoy the flick (and the Zombie Nightmare episode of MST3K is one of my favorites). Goodbye John Fasano, you lived to rock.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.
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