Friday, February 10, 2006

A Bloody Great Night

IWA East Coast once again invaded the South Charleston Community Center last Wednesday, and well over 300 fans were treated to a night of blood, guts and mayhem. "A Need To Bleed 2006" was the name of the event. Former WCW and WWE superstar Big Van Vader was the main attraction. As is always the case, the entire evening was an amazing example of the best of independent wrestling.

The tone for the evening was set with the first match. "Omega" Aaron Draven and M Dogg 20 made their IWA debuts, and let loose with an epic match that featured tons of thrilling high-flying moves. M Dogg won after delivering a Shooting Star Press (see right), and that was after he'd lost a contact lens during the match!

Next up we had a championship match, for the IWA Mid South Women's title. Crowd favorite Mickie Knuckles proved what a trouper she is by working the match despite being very sick. Her persistence was rewarded, as she recaptured the IWA MS Women's Championship from Cinncinnati's Haily Hatred.

The evil genius, Dr. Max Graves, then sprung a surprise on the crowd. He hinted that he would join his pet monster, Warpig, in a tag match, but then unveiled Razorback, Warpig's new tag-team partner in the aptly named "Freaks Of Nature." These two 8-foot, thousand-pound behemoths crushed the team of JTL (Justin Time and Travis Lynn) into powder in record time. Who knows what the future holds for IWA East Coast with these two beasts on the prowl?

El Drunko, unfortunately, did not make the show. It seems he was detained due to a misunderstanding over a DUI. Crowza, wrestling under a mask as "El Drunko," took his place, and proceeded to get destroyed by J.C. Bailey. Crowza and Woody Numbers would return, later in the show.

The IWA East Coast Championship was on the line as Chris Hero took on Tracy Smothers. Smothers has quickly become the favorite heel of the IWA regulars, and it was supremely entertaining to watch as he very nearly took the belt off of Chris Hero. There were a series of odd occurrences during the match--One of the security guards interfered on behalf of Smothers, and then Hero's travel partners, Ian Rotten, Mickie Knuckles, and JTL, came to the ringside area. Hero did retain his title and afterwards there was a prolonged handshake between the two wrestlers.

Next up, we had the IWA East Coast debut of Big Van Vader, who took on the Juggulator, as well as Crowza. Even Woody Numbers got into the act, throwing water on the immense superstar during the match. The guys were no match for the power of Big Van Vader, and he easily dispatched them. Afterwards, he got on the microphone to compliment the area and say how much he liked it here. The big guy was a class act.

Necrobutcher and "Mr. Insanity" Toby Klein then treated the crowd to a wild deathmatch that went all over the arena. After the two found their way back into the ring, Necrobutcher was victorious. Both men were bloody messes. It was one of the highlights of the night.

Nothing could top the sick spectacle that is the "Barefoot Thumbtack Match." Mad Man Pondo and Ian Rotten delivered an incredible match that was both compelling and cringe-inducing. The blood flowed freely as both men became walking corkboards. Pondo emerged as the winner after several minutes of sheer brutality.

"A Need To Bleed 2006" was another in a string of winning nights for IWA East Coast. The crowds continue to grow, and for fans of hardcore high-flying action, they can't be beat. The next IWA East Coast show is April 5, featuring Chris Hero putting his title on the line against Japanese great, Dick Togo in a ladder match, and the stupefying return of El Drunko as he takes on former ECW and WWE star The Blue Meanie, in what's sure to be a contest for the ages!

Area fans of Big Van Vader get a second chance to see the beast from Boulder Colorado tonight, as he appears with RCW, in Ashland. Check their website for more details.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Little Otik, Creepy Animation

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

Disturbing Animation

Do you like creepy movies that tend to chase other people out of the room? If so, this month, The Sundance Channel is showing something that's right up your alley. Little Otik is the fourth feature-length film by Czech surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer. It's the story of a childless couple who adopt a whittled tree stump as their child. Soon, the stump, which they name "Otik," comes to life, sprouts teeth, and starts eating everything, and everyone, he can get his hands on. In terms of disturbing cinema, this tale of the terror of parenthood makes "Eraserhead" look like a Disney movie. Little Otik is also extremely funny, with dark situation comedy woven into its fairy-tale-gone-bad motif. The film is subtitled, so you can turn down the sound and follow the story, if the baby noises start creeping out your cats. It's mostly live-action, but Otik is animated, and a few of Svankmajer's earlier works make cameo appearances on TV screens in the background.

Sundance is showing Little Otik four more times this month: This Saturday at 5:45 p.m.; Friday the 17th at 2:30 p.m.; Thursday the 23rd at 10:00 p.m.; and Sunday the 26th at 8:05 a.m.. Sundance is also showing a collection of Svankmajer's animated shorts all month long, including a double feature with Little Otik on the 23rd.

Traditional Animation's Last Stand (for now)

Curious George opens this weekend, and it's notable for two reasons: First, it's an animated feature that is aimed directly at the younger set, with a clear "G" rating and no contrived pop-culture references or innuendo. Second, Curious George is the last big-budget traditionally animated American feature film that we'll be treated to for the foreseeable future. Unless Disney, under their new head, Pixar's John Lasseter, revives the hand-drawn animation unit, everything we see on the big screen will be created with a computer. In fact, we have to correct an item from last week. 'Flushed Away,' the next feature film from Aardman Animation ('Wallace and Gromit'), will be entirely computer-generated, although it will mimic the look of clay animation.

Curious George is a throwback to the more innocent days of musical cartoons aimed at children. It's great that the artform has moved beyond those limitations, but it's nice to see that a good children's cartoon can still find a home in the marketplace, too.

It will be interesting to see how well Curious George does at the box office. If it's a hit, will the credit go to the fact that it's a movie intended for kids, or if it bombs, will the blame go to the fact that it was made using "old-fashioned" 2 D animation? There's a chance that this movie could reverse the trend, and all the movie studios will start cranking out hand-drawn animation again.

But we're not holding our breath.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Need To Bleed

It snuck up on me! The first IWA East Coast event of the year takes place tonight. "A Need To Bleed 2006" sees former WWE and WCW star Big Van Vader coming to town to take on Ashland Kentucky's Juggulator. The highlight of the night will be Mad Man Pondo facing Ian Rotten in a barefoot thumbtack match, and the fans are bringing the thumbtacks! In addition, IWA favorites Necrobutcher, Chris Hero, Tracy Smothers, Mickie Knuckles and El Drunko will all be in action.

As the poster on the right says, this all takes place tonight (Feb. 8) at the South Charleston Community Center. Tickets are 10 and 15 dollars, and the show kicks off at 7 p.m. I'll have a full wrap-up tomorrow. If you're into ultra-hip bloodsport, this is the place to be.

The Super Commercials

Okay, even with my Steelers winning, the Super Bowl was a lackluster game that seemed like a contest between two teams trying to do everything they could to lose. We still had the main attraction, the thing that everybody looks forward to....we had the commercials.

As they have for the past several years, USA Today has done its "Super Bowl Ad Meter", and with no real news being reported yesterday and nobody wanting to talk about the actual game, the commercials have been analyzed to the point where, just two days later, everyone's sick of hearing about them, so I'm going to keep this short. I'm just going to run down my three favorite spots, the three I liked least, and I toss in a couple of extra dishonorable mentions that rubbed me the wrong way.

THE BEST SUPER BOWL ADS

I'm a sucker for animated dinosaurs. I knew who Ray Harryhausen was before I started first grade. So the FedEx "caveman" spot won me over. In it, a caveman tries to send a message by tying it to the leg of a pterodactyl. However, it quickly gets eaten by a T-Rex, and the caveman gets fired for not using FedEx, even though it doesn't exist yet. Two more animated dinos give us a double punchline. This is one you can watch over and over again.

If I did drink beer, I probably wouldn't drink Bud Light, but you have to give its ad team credit for coming up with the most memorable commercials year after year. "Magic Fridge" made me laugh out loud, and that doesn't happen too often during commercials. This spot was the favorite on the Ad Meter. Maybe one reason that these spots are so funny is because they have to accomplish their comic goals in 30 seconds. Brevity is the soul of wit, something that Saturday Night Live would do well to remember.

Another great commercial for a product I would never buy was for the H3 Hummer. A Kaiju Monster is destroying a city when it comes face-to-face with a giant robot (yeah, they had me at "Kaiju Monster"). Instead of doing battle, they walk off hand-in-hand. In a montage, the monster is shown to be pregnant. Finally we see the proud parents cradling their baby -- an H3 Hummer. A great commercial for a gas-guzzling monster.

THE WORST SUPER BOWL ADS

Speaking of gas-guzzling monsters, the Cadillac Escalade commercial, where the truck for rich sissy-boys poses as a fashion model, took an ugly vehicle and made it look even uglier. That spot was a total waste.

Gillette's Fusion is a razor with five blades on one side, one blade on the back, and you can get a version that runs on batteries, so it can vibrate. What the hell were they thinking? You take something with more sharp edges than a Ninja weapon, use it to shave, and THEN you want to make it shake all over the place? My face is bleeding just thinking about it. No commercial could sell me on that tiny suicide machine. No wonder the commercial shows them treating it like a WMD.

The spot for GoDaddy.com was just lame. That's an unpardonable sin for a Super Bowl commercial. It's time to retire this lame gimmick of mock censorship and find some other way to sell whatever the hell it is that they sell at GoDaddy.com. Nobody cares.

MY SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL PEEVES

The ad for the upcoming movie, "V For Vendetta" really got under my skin. It wasn't because the movie looks bad or anything. It was the tag line, "From the creators of the Matrix trilogy." See, this movie is based on a classic graphic novel written by Alan Moore and drawn by David Lloyd. Moore wants nothing to do with any movie adaptations of his work, so he insisted that his name not be used in promoting this film. He won't even take any money from the movie. The Wachowski brothers, who were responsible for the confusing mish-mash that was the Matrix trilogy, wrote the script for this movie, and reports are that they made arbitrary changes that take away from the original story. Giving them credit for this movie is just wrong.

Topping that on my own personal Peeve-O-Meter was the promo for ABC's Lost. I'm talking about the one where they took the late Robert Palmer's song and video for "Addicted To Love" and had some badly matched vocalist dub in "st" at the end of "love," which was supposed to make it sound like Palmer was singing "Addicted To Lost," but which really sounded like he was singing "Addicted To Lust." I think that's actually a psychological disorder. Either way, it didn't do anything to make me want to watch what I hear is actually a very good show.