Inspiration can come from a wide variety of sources. The original source can be very good work, or it can be a bad one with a good idea, just poorly delivered. An example of this is the 2000 film, Battlefield Earth. Yes this disaster of a film actually inspired a story idea for me. It was being shown on a channel after midnight (probably the only way to really watch this box office bomb) and I didn’t need to get up in the morning so I decided to see if the rumors of how bad this movie was true. Let me just say, it’s very true. But the ending made me think, what would happen to a series of conquered worlds if the occupying aliens suddenly found their source of power and transportation gone?
So I love watching various science-fiction, fantasy and horror TV shows and movies. Both the good and the bad kind. If a show is too bad, I can elect to not watch it. There is plenty of other shows to move onto. But where can you find these shows? I have lots of memories in the 80’s and 90’s visiting the local video rental store. When I went with my family, I was always trying to find the weirdest, oddest film to watch. Often I was over ruled since my siblings usually wanted to watch something from Disney or other main-stream films. So later when I lived on my own, I had to be lucky to catch the show on a time it was aired (such as Battlefield Earth listed above) or I had to buy a VHS tape (later DVD). This had two issues, if it wasn’t a money maker, it may not have had a lot of media releases. When they were found, they were either really expensive, or really cheap in the discount bin. If cost wasn’t too big of a factor, what would I do with the media afterwards. I don’t mind buying DVDs of Star Trek or other favorites that I would enjoy watching at any time. But would I really want to watch Hell Comes to Frogtown again and again?
Luckily the internet came to our rescue. The rise of streaming services has given some of these diamond in the rough films a home where you can give them a view. So I thought I’d share where I’ve found some of my more unusual films. Yes there is a large variety on Netflix, Hulu or Paramount+. However these services are like cable channels. They only hold the rights to some films for so long (unless they are originals specifically for the streaming service). I’ve discovered that some of the streaming services like Amazon Prime, Pluto TV and Tubi have held some interesting titles. I’ve been able to watch some of the films in the Darkstalker series (boy that was cheesy). You can also find shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000, Creature Features, Elvira and more where they re-show off-kilter films (sometimes by adding comedy in the process).
Another amazing service for films and different documentaries has been plain old YouTube. As I type out this blog post, I’ve been watching episodes of Timeline (where they are building a medieval castle and exploring the life of ordinary people who built them).
I’ve also added apps on my Smart TV for Xumo, Crackle, Ruko TV and others, but I don’t get a chance to get into those as often. But you can find a cheesy 80’s sword and sorcery film that may give you an idea for your next Dungeons and Dragons game.
I suspect that fifteen years ago this topic wouldn’t have come up in an #RPGaDAY style challenge. At least not one that would have inspired discussion on streaming services. I wonder if this single suggestion was used to gather links on possible streaming sources for other’s to explore?
So I got involved in a discussion on a Stargate fandom page online. The topic was the much debated Stargate Universe series. Some people stated that they liked it, others (including myself) stated that we didn’t like it. The conversation was going pretty well until someone posted the following “You are not a true fan of Stargate unless you’ve watched all of Stargate Universe.” Now this was a statement that I really had to respond to as I’ve heard this “True Fan” comment before and it bugs me a lot. Rant Mode On: I think this meme said it best.
As most of you know (or have probably guessed), I’m a fan of a large number of science fiction and fantasy franchises. And there are some shows that I have not found entertaining. I could never get into the Buffy and Angel series no matter how hard I tried. It seemed like every time I sat down to give The X-Files a chance while it was first airing, it turned out to be the episode of the season with the most blood. There are other series, movies, comics and books that I just couldn’t get into. Some I will talk about in future blog posts.
Even in my favorite franchises, there are stinkers. I’ve only seen the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise once. And I only plan to watch it once again (to mine it for quotes and trivia questions) before I avoid it at all costs afterwards. If someone would have had the misfortune of having that episode be their first introduction to the Star Trek universe, I could understand why they may not like Enterprise or even Star Trek itself. They get to decide what they are fans of, not me nor anyone else.
Using the term “True Fan” is a form of Gatekeeping. Gatekeeping, in the fandom/hobby sense, is allowing only those the “true fans” deem worthy to join them in the fandom. They may use this to keep fans of a certain series in a franchise out of their club/social media group/etc. (i.e. “You can’t be a true Star Trek fan if you like Star Trek: Discovery), or they may use this to keep certain players out of their games (i.e. “You can’t play in our Battletech game with papers figures, you have to only play with painted figs). A note on this last one. A sanctioned tournament for a miniature or card game requiring certain items to use in the tournament is a method of marketing and sales, not gatekeeping. And one I see in cosplay groups is, your cosplay isn’t worthy of inclusion. Really? With how much time, energy and effort goes into cosplay you are going to get upset because it’s not “screen accurate”? Someone who puts their heart into their fandom doesn’t deserve to get it crushed.
Gatekeeping by “true fans” makes the base of participants smaller and could kill our fandoms. You never know what was someone’s introduction to the fandom or hobby. While I was manning the USS Ticonderoga recruiting booth during the opening weekend of Star Trek: Into Darkness, a new fan came up to me and stated that the previous Star Trek film had inspired him so much that he went and watched all of the original Star Trek television series. He was now a fan of the franchise itself and was checking out the other shows. Had he been talking to a “true fan”, he could have been discouraged by the belittlement and not checked out the rest of the universe that awaited him.
It’s not just geeky movies and hobbies that his plagued by this. I’ve seen this same “true fan” mentality in sports fandom. “You can’t be a true fan of the (insert team name here) unless you can name a player from their 2009 championship run.” As our Dwight meme says above: “False!”
Now when someone asks a question like “Is the new Superman & Lois television series any good?” I usually respond somewhere along the line of “I’ve enjoyed it.” If I found that I haven’t been a fan of a series, I state that it is something I haven’t enjoyed. If someone says they enjoyed a series that I have not, then I’m glad. Not everyone has to enjoy what I enjoy. I request the same respect in return. The “I’ve enjoyed it” answer is also how I avoid the bait posts where someone is trying to start an opportunity to troll fans of a series.
So to recap, if you were to say to me “I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of the anime Cowboy Bebop and enjoyed it, am I a fan?” my answer would be yes. If you asked if you wanted to cosplay as a gender-bended Robin Hood and his band of thieves in the Sherwood Forest, would I consider you a fan? My answer would still be yes. “I really like Real Salt Lake because they are a local team.” I’d say welcome to the fandom. Would I shun you if you only wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition? No, I would not and I even might ask if there is an opening in your game. You get to decide if you are a fan of something, not these “true fans.” Enjoy what you want to enjoy and don’t let anyone tear you down for it.
Now to get back to the Stargate Universe discussion. I really enjoyed the original Stargate movie ever since I first saw it on opening weekend. It took me a while to get a chance to sit down and watch Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, but I enjoyed them both to the point where I call myself a fan. Because I had enjoyed both of these series so much, I took the opportunity to get season one, disk one DVD of Stargate Universe from Netflix (this should tell you how long ago this was) and my wife and I watched the first five episodes. There was one good episode in that first set (it was about time travel). I liked the nerdy kid who’s name I can’t remember. I really wanted to follow Samantha Carter in command of the USS Hamond and see her adventures. And I thought the concept of being trapped on a living spaceship not under your control sounded interesting. But I found the writing in SGU horrendous. The acting really wasn’t up to snuff despite some good names on the acting list. The use of the tech to switch bodies to go back to Earth and spy on your ex-wife was dumb. It was dark, dreary and depressing and was practically a soap opera. Talking into the floating camera things was too much like how reality TV show contestants would react to a camera between dramatic takes (a major turn off). And the scene where some woman is talking to her floating camera making a message for her husband, and then forgets to turn it off while she cheats on him with another member of the crew really made me roll my eyes. I think I realized this show wasn’t for me when the lead scientist and the lead military guy was fighting in the fifth episode and I turned to my wife and said “I don’t even care who wins this fight.”
Now if you are a fan of Stargate Universe. Good for you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Some of the SGU fans in the discussion stated that it got better in season two and encouraged me to sit down and give the series another try. I could see myself doing this once I’ve gotten all of my other catch-up and new watching completed. I’m really enjoying Superman & Lois and I watch it every week. WandaVision was another series I had to keep up on. I need to finish my first watch through of Farscape (yea I missed it when it first aired) and someday I’ll watch all of the episodes of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. There are a ton of shows in my streaming lists and interests that I want to watch. And that doesn’t even count the number of books and comics I want to read or games I want to play. Bottom line is that SGU is really down on the priority list. So yes I’d give it another try if my list has been completed, but that will not be for a very very long time.
I think I’ve said enough to end this rant. If you are still reading, thank you. Just remember, you decide what you are a fan of, not other people and not those who gatekeep with the term “true fans”.
I was very happy to complete the Character Creation Challenge last month. It was an actual challenge that I didn’t know if I could complete. And there were a few days I was wondering if I would make the deadline. It took up quite a bit of time just to make sure I didn’t miss a day. One of the things that ended up getting pushed off to the side was the other blog entries that were not related to the challenge, but I wanted to post. I was able to sneak in a review of Wonder Woman 1984, but there were several other subjects that I wanted to cover. Here is one of my catch up posts that would have been posted last month.
I enjoy watching classic and cheesy horror films. From the Universal Classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy to the British studio that released the Hammer Horrors. Some of these horror films can also be quite cheesy and funny such as Killer Klowns from Outer Space (boy that’s a lively one). I’m not big into the mega-slashers or the buckets of blood films. If you have to rely on too much splatter-gore special effects to make up for bad writing, it tends to turn me off. But even the smallest film with a shoe-string budget can be enjoyable if done the right way.
There are several shows that help me find some of these classics and clunker horror/science-fiction films. The one I wanted to talk about today is Creature Features from the San Fransisco bay area which just celebrated the 50th Anniversary of it’s first showing. I had discovered this show sometime in 2018 on the show’s YouTube channel and quickly added it to my Saturday night TV lineup.
This is a “horror host” show that was popular in the 70’s and continues today. Television stations would receive batches of films that they could air that were real clunkers. What certain stations in different cities did to attract an audience is to have an employee of the station dress up in a costume come up with a punny name and be the host for some of these z-grade movies. Even if the movie was a bomb, audiences would tune in to check out the host. Sometimes skits and parody songs would be performed while others hosts had interviews and trivia. Everyone had their own spin on the idea which helped made them unique. I head learned about these “horror hosts” from a wonderful documentary called American Scary. Creature Features has had three runs. The first by host Bob Wilkins, the second by host John Stanley and the current run that started in 2016 with Vincent Van Dahl, Mr. Livingston and Tangella.
On January 9, 2021, Creature Features aired a 50th Anniversary Special of the original Creature Features hosted by Bob Wilkins. A special tribute to Wilkins was shown along with the first film from that night “The Horror of Party Beach”. Van Dahl interviewed John Stanley and director Tom Wyrsch. There were several old interviews shown from Bob Shaw who was one of the producers of the original show. They even had the outro from Bob Wilkins to wrap things up. As for The Horror of Party Beach, let’s just say that it was bad enough that I kept expecting the heckling robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000 to show up to make fun of the film. The creatures that menaced the teenagers looked like they had hot dogs hanging out of their mouths. Yea it was gloriously bad. And probably not one I’d watch again.
If you get a chance, check out the Creature Features YouTube channel. I watch it on the YouTube app on my television. They air the show live online every Saturday and they have past shows available as well. Besides showing the classics (that they can afford to show) they have also shown some recent fan films (somehow they got a foreign Star Trek fan film) and small budget studio releases that they were able to get their hands on. The variety has been very interesting. I also like the interview format that they have. 99% of the guests have been very entertaining to listen to ranging from actors, special effects artists, cosplayers and more.
Congratulations to Creature Features for reaching a 50th Anniversary. I hope you guys can continue to bring us many cheesy horror and science-fiction films for many years to come.
Even with the Character Creation Challenge going on there are other geeky things on my list that I’d like to cross off. Today I had an unexpected opportunity to go see the latest superhero film, Wonder Woman 1984 with my wife. Let me just say, we were very entertained.
Yay the end of 2020 is here. There were a lot of weird and bad things that happened this past year, but you don’t need me to tell you that. It wasn’t all bad, but I think I’ll be one of the many people who use 2020 as a swear word.
There were several movies that came out this year that I wish I could have seen in the theater. I really loved how cute the Scoob! movie was. Bill & Ted Face The Music was another really good movie that I wish I could have seen in the theater. I know that Wonder Woman 84 is out, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. I’m really sad that several movies that was scheduled for theatrical release in 2020 were delayed. When they come out (and hopefully in theaters) I am looking forward to seeing the epic SF movie Dune, the new James Bond flick called No Time To Die, The King’s Man (as part of the Kingsman series), Black Widow, Godzilla vs King Kong, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and more. Yes, I miss going to theaters.
So starting tomorrow, January 1st, I will be participating in the 31 day Character Creation Challenge. So there will be a new blog post at least once a day. This will be a marathon on several levels. I’m curious on how this will turn out. As I’ve been finding more and more homebrew creations, I plan to post them online. Eventually I want to start making new creations that will be featured on this website. I’ve been gathering photos for my online photo album and they should be up fairly soon. This will include my meeting a variety of famous people and kewl things that I have seen. Plus I’ll be continuing to flesh out this website. Time seems to be the constant struggle with all of the things I have on my plate.
But in all I know that 2021 will be a much better year. I plan to make my contributions towards that goal.