Sunday, January 31, 2010

Movie Review: When A Stranger Calls

When A Stranger Calls (2006) ** (out of 5 asterisks)
Director: Simon West
Starring: Camilla Belle

When a stranger calls... it's simple: DON'T ANSWER! Seriously, that's what Caller ID is for. This remake of a 1979 film was particularly unnecessary -- the original was mediocre at best, and this one is barely an improvement. But it seems to be a Hollywood standard that there must be at least one new teen thriller in theaters every other month, but I get the feeling even teens would find this movie boring and predictable. You could fast-forward to the last 20 minutes and not miss anything, and STILL predict the ending.

This movie puts the "ill" in "thriller" -- besides being boring and predictable, it frequently resorts to thriller/horror cliches of sudden sound effects and music stings in order to create suspense.

I watched this at the dollar theater, and that's what it's worth: a cheap thrill -- perhaps fitting for a cheap date, but not something you'll want to watch at home unless you plan to make out with somebody.

Please take my advice and avoid this "Stranger." Instead, check out "Running Scared" (2006), "The Jacket" (2005) or "The Machinist" (2004) and you can thank me later.

Movie Review: The Best of Times

The Best of Times (1986) *** (out of 5 asterisks)
Director: Roger Spottiswoode (Turner & Hooch, Air America, Tomorrow Never Dies)
Starring: Robin Williams, Kurt Russell

This is quite literally "fantasy football," but it's wish fulfilment in pure Hollywood fashion. So, yes, it's cliched and predictable, but it's definitely a "feel good" flick and it's funny too. If you enjoy sports movies, Robin Williams or Kurt Russell it's worth watching.

Movie Review: Versus

Versus (2000) ***1/2 (out of 5 asterisks)
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Cast: Some Japanese actors that even if I recognized who them, I couldn't spell their names correctly

A martial arts zombie movie -- Kung Fu meets Night of the Living Dead. It's like a live-action anime. And it's truly silly and over-the-top ridiculous, yet never takes itself seriously. It's mindless fun, funny and entertaining. Only thing I didn't care much for was the ending -- seemed tacked on and too obvious an attempt at a twist ending. However, it's chock full of low-budget, B-movie fun. Enjoy it with pizza and beer and friends who also love martial arts and zombie movies.

Movie Review: The Rescuers

The Rescuers (1977) *** (out of 5 asterisks)
Director: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Art Stevens
Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Michelle Stacy

Nicely animated and is just a cute, fun, amusing movie all the way through. (And despite my disdain for mostly unnecessary Disney animated sequels, "The Rescuers Down Under" is excellent and in many ways trumps the original.) Recommended for family movie night, or something to keep the kids occupied for almost 90 minutes.

Additional commentary:

As a lifelong animation addict, it's surprising that I waited 30 years after its release to finally watch this. For any animation fan familiar with the work of director/animator/artist Don Bluth (An American Tail, The Secret of N.I.M.H., Anastasia), you'll find Don's distinct visual fingerprints all over it. Bluth, who served as the film's directing animator, has a flair for animating animals, especially cats and mice which this movie has in spades.

I really enjoyed the vocal performances too -- the "celebrity" voices are a great fit for the characters and -- unlike a number of other animated films that feature celebrity voices -- they don't distract or pull you out of the film based on who they are or how they perform.

My only complaint about the film is not about the film at all, but the DVD release. Disney's 2003 version is skimpy on bonus content, lacks THX certification, and some parts of the film look flecky, grainy and washed out. This film is long overdue to be pulled from The Vault for a proper restored release on DVD and Blu-Ray for Disney's Platinum or Diamond Collection.

Craig's Capsule Reviews: The Beginninging

I love watching movies. According to my Netflix profile, I've rated 2268 of them to date. That means I've watched 59.7 movies per year since I was born in 1971, and the first 5 years doesn't count because I wasn't old enough to remember them.

And while I love watching movies, I hate wasting my money or time on a bad one. And hence the need for checking reviews in advance.

But back in the late 80s, I decided that reading movie reviews was a waste of my time.

I was fed up with pompous and overly-critical film critics telling me what they thought was good or bad about movies, especially movies that I enjoyed. Film critics tend to pan most commercial and genre films (scifi, action-adventure, fantasy, animation) and then spend paragraphs blathering on about how great some mind-numbingly slow drama or indie art house film is. In my experience, following their suggestions on movies is usually disappointing.

And I always thought it odd and even unnecessary that anyone would need 10 paragraphs and pages even to review any movie...unless you really, really love it, I guess. (And just how often have you heard a film critic say that they "loved" any movie?) I also hate that a lot of film critics are so detailed in their commentary that they spoil the movie and can influence your opinion of the film before you've even seen it.

I just wanted a quick synopsis -- a short and sweet overview -- with no spoilers and preferably from a regular movie fan to tell simply say whether or not a movie is worth watching based on the overall entertainment value.

So I went looking for such a thing and was rather disappointed to not find such a thing. After all, this was long before such helpful sites like,, and various movie blogs existed. (In the 80s, if you told someone you had a "blog" they would have told you to see a doctor or therapist.)

And since I couldn't find any resources for capsule reviews like I wanted to see, I decided to start writing them myself. And thus "Craig's Capsule Reviews" was birthed.

I started by posting capsule movie reviews on a few movie fan forums. And even though I've technically been blogging since 1999, it didn't occur to me until 2009 that maybe I should start my own movie review blog. So in addition to the photo blog here, I'm going to be continuing my "legacy" of spoiler-free capsule reviews.

Funny, it took me 9 paragraphs to introduce my capsule movie reviews. Does that make me a hypocrite or simply ironic? And isn't "ironic" just an "iron" with an "ic" at the end? And is it too obvious that I've been up most of the night battling insomnia and an attack of sinus congestion?

Well, that makes 10 paragraphs now. I should stop.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


For this blog, I normally don't take photos of new shirts that are still on the rack in department stores. I prefer that they they be more like "found objects," rather than still selling at retail.

But this one is quite possibly the best thing since spliced genes.

And the award for "Best Concept in T-Shirt Design goes to..."

This shirt provides its own caption (and my apologies that it's a little out of focus), so I'm not even going to attempt to write something funnier than the Gary Larson-esque cartoon already is.

But what makes this shirt truly especially special... smells like BACON!

I spotted this shirt in January 2010 at Kohl's in the Boys' dept. And even though the largest size was a little snug on me I just couldn't resist owning a bacon-scented T-Shirt. Now I just need to lose 15 pounds so I can wear it.

This shirt is manufactured by, and although Kohl's stocks Hybrid's shirts regularly and sells them online via they do not offer the bacon shirt on their site.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aggressive Corporate Marketing Has Gone Too Far

Another entry for "T-Shirt Design Travesties":

I've heard of "brand loyalty," but this is beyond ridiculous.
I rather doubt consumers want Nike owning their organs.

* Shirt photographed Jan. 2009 by Craig Crumpton at a thrift store in Duluth, GA.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ja-makin' me crazy T-shirts

Presenting popular cartoon characters as redesigned
by Jamaican souvenir T-shirt artists:

It's Dora de Explorah, mon!
Beavis and Butthead Do Jamaica

* Shirts photographed Jan. 2010 by Craig Crumpton at a thrift store in Duluth, GA.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


What's wrong with this DVD cover?

Ghostbusters II: The Segregation

Where the heck is Ernie Hudson, aka Winston Zeddemore -- fourth and final member of the Ghostbusters team? That's what's wrong with it! And furthermore, Hudson's name is not credited either.

This is the cover art (shamelessly swiped from Amazon) for the 1999 Columbia/TriStar DVD release of Ghostbusters II. It was also among the first additions to my now 300+ collection of DVDs, and initially I resisted buying it because I hated the cover so much. Seriously, where the crap is Winston? And why in the world is he missing from the cover?

But wait...there's more -- an excerpt of the copy from the DVD's back cover (courtesy of Ghostbusters' fan site Spook Central) states: "Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Raimis take up their proton packs once more..."

Now I think maybe it falls into the territory of conspiracy theory, causing one to speculate it was more than a mere oversight. After all, there is always more than one individual involved in the design process. And corporate-types have to approve the image before they could even begin mass-production.

So how could such an obvious blunder slip through?

Did someone at the corporate level decide that Hudson was "less popular" and therefore not important enough to include on the cover art? Were they trying to market to Caucasians only? Was it a covert attempt to make the public forget there was a fourth, non-white member of the Ghostbusters team?

As In Living Color's Homey the Clown would say, "It's just another lie perpetrated by The Man to keep a brother down!"

The history behind this cover art goes back to 1984 and the first Ghostbusters film. Some of the original theatrical posters (seen here on Spook Central) did not include Winston either, which (another Ghostbusters fan site) commented on recently.

And during the space of 15 years (which included the '90s heyday of political correctness), you'd think those at Columbia/TriStar would have made a more intelligent choice for the 1999 DVD release than to omit Hudson yet again, but apparently not. Such an oversight was frankly just plain stupid.

I suppose the omission of Hudson's name from the front cover and copy from the back is...somewhat forgivable. But I'd really like to know why Ernie didn't make the front cover and how it was that no one from Columbia/TriStar noticed a Ghostbuster was missing from the cover art before they released the DVD.

Granted, it's been 10 years since this title was released and fans probably vented over this via newsgroups and fan forums a decade ago and are since done with it. And I got rid of the 1999 version the very day the "Double Feature Gift Set" was released in 2005.

But it still bothers me.

So I ask my fellow "Ghostheads" (that's Ghostbusters fans to everyone else) to join me in the campaign I'm launching against Columbia TriStar Home Video for this travesty. I'm starting a petition, contacting the NAACP, and calling for a boycott of all future Columbia TriStar Home Video releases.

Wait... you say the DVD title itself has since been discontinued and is now out of print? And that in 1994 Columbia TriStar Home Video was renamed Sony Pictures Home Entertainment?

Well, nevermind then!

In related news, Harold Raimis (aka Dr. Egon Spengler) said in a 12.28.2009 interview that Ghostbusters III is "progressing with plans to shoot [summer 2010] and release in 2011":
Dan [Aykroyd] did write a spec GB3 screenplay a few years ago, but no one was motivated to pursue it. Now, 25 years after the original, there seems to be some willingness to proceed and apparently a substantial public appetite for a sequel. We’ll introduce some new young Ghostbusters, and all the old guys will be in it, too. Think Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future.
While I fear the thought of "young Ghostbusters" (and all that that implies), I'm pleased to see the franchise moving forward. I just hope Ernie doesn't get the shaft again.

* Image (idiotic and shameful as it is) courtesy Columbia/TriStar/Sony and

Scary Sentiment

Spotted this weirdly-sculpted figurine at a thrift store. Note the awkward positioning of the characters and the freaky facial expressions. And the eyes... oh my god, the EYES!

CAPTION: We need each other
...because we're too danged creepy to be with anyone else.

Ignoring that the "artist" who crafted this was likely insane, or demon-possessed (or both), I'm trying to imagine someone buying this at its original retail price. What sort of man would look at it and think it would make a good gift for a woman?

An insane man, probably. Or certainly a stupid one.

* Freaky figurine photographed Dec. 2009 by Craig Crumpton at a thrift store in Winder, GA.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Warm Place With No Memory

Souvenir shirt available at Andy Dufresne's
Redemption Hotel and Gift Shop.
* Shirt photographed Jan. 2010 by Craig Crumpton at a thrift store in Duluth, GA.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Iceland: Every child's dream vacation

Another entry for "T-Shirt Design Travesties"
...or not. I'll explain more after the jump.

Iceland: A great place to take your kids!
(and leave them)

Now I realize there's nothing inherently wrong with this design. It's actually quite nice and high-quality in that the image and letters are embroidered, unlike your typical gift shop-variety souvenir shirt with cheap decals that fall off in the first wash. So the quality is to be commended.

Otherwise, there's nothing odd or unusual about this shirt that would've caught my attention... until an amusing thought struck me: this is a souvenir shirt for Iceland. ICELAND! A Land of Ice where it stays freaking ice-cold most of the year.

Even in its warmest season, Iceland's climate barely reaches the mid-60s. Also, Iceland has about as many residents as a car full of clowns.

And note that the shirt in this close-up photo is tagged as a child's size 8-10 (and short-sleeved too, which is ironic now that I think about it). That means some parent not only dragged their child kicking and screaming to Iceland, they bought him a shirt to wear as a reminder of a bitter memory. (No wonder this shirt ended up at a thrift store!)

The very idea of someone taking their child to Iceland amuses me, and even moreso that someone thought it might be a good idea for a "fun family vacation." Now, I'm not saying Iceland isn't worth visiting. (I fear the Icelandic Tourism Board would drop by and kick me in the fjord.) There is some incredible scenery there, to be sure. (I've seen the photos!)

But I believe very few children -- after explaining the climate and geography to them -- would genuinely be eager to visit there.

So imagine the following scenario taking place in the average family household:
DAD: I just bought tickets for our family vacation. We're going to Iceland!
KIDS: Yay! Wait... Iceland?
LITTLE JOHNNY: Are we being punished or do you just hate us?
LITTLE SUSIE: What the @#$%, Dad! Are you insane?
DAD: But I read on the Internet that it's "the perfect place to take your little ones"! So get packed! We leave tomorrow!
KIDS: We're calling Social Services.
* Shirt photographed Dec. 2009 by Craig Crumpton at a thrift store in Winder, GA.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Craigslist Guide

Developed as a resource for my fellow performers out there to help cut through the crap on Craigslist and avoid getting scammed, spammed or otherwise exploited:

Craig's Craigslist Guide for Performers
(via my original blog, now in its 10th year: Voice Actors in the News)

That's MISTER Actor to you.

Another entry for "T-Shirt Design Travesties":

If you need a shirt to identify you as an Actor,
you probably aren't one. 

* Shirt photographed by Craig Crumpton Dec. 2009 at a thrift store in Winder, GA.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

More or Less

Another entry for "T-Shirt Design Travesties":'s also a garment with letters on it.

* Shirt photographed Dec. 2009 by Craig Crumpton at a thrift store in Winder, GA.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Since Birth

Another nominee for "T-Shirt Design Travesties":

Nice to know it doesn't wait until puberty.

* Shirt photographed Dec. 2009 by Craig Crumpton at a thrift store in Winder, GA.