Or are they? You be the judge!
ALEX TOTH: Dean Mullaney, who edited the recently reviewed Alex Toth volume (see earlier post), wrote in response to my mild complaint that there wasn't more "later" Toth work in the book. To my delight, there are going to be two more volumes in the series, one collecting a bunch of Toth's 60's/70's work, and another volume covering his animation work. Fantastic!
HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN: Well, no one can accuse the filmmakers of false advertising. This low budget spectacle can be found on various pay-per-view venues and I believe it has had a minimal theatrical release. Spinning off a faux Grindhouse trailer, Rutger Hauer plays said hobo with a firearm. He has arrived in the most violent town ever put on film, where hoodlums clamp manhole covers around victim's necks, drop them into manholes then rip their heads off in the middle of the street. A manic criminal family seems to "run" the town by beating, screwing and/or killing anybody they see (sometimes not in that order). The Hobo rescues a prostitute with a heart-of-gold and then decides to clean up the town, with predictably violent results. It's wildly, gleefully over the top and packed with vile language and images. I kind of liked the anarchic spirit of the whole thing, and I'll watch Hauer in just about anything, but this tries to be offensive on almost every level so beware!
BLACK EYE: A brand new comic anthology financed through Kickstarter contributions, including a few bucks from yours truly. Black Eye is a collection of "black humor" that makes Hobo With a Shotgun look like it was adapted from Highlights For Children. There is a cool interview with Mad editor and EC artist Al Feldstein (whose best work in my book were his insane sexy-teen comics for the Fox publishing company) and a look at the writings of Michael O'Donahue, but the comics are the draw here and they are a truly dark collection of scribblings. We were regaling one another with "dead baby" jokes back in junior high ("What do you a dead baby on your doorstep? Matt!"), so bleak for the sake of bleak isn't exactly new or daring for moi, but the art is good and anything that's busted by Canadian customs for obscenity deserves an A for effort. Plus I'll buy anything by Ivan Brunetti.
BLACK DEATH: Continuing the cheery theme of this round-up, Black Death stars Sean Bean as Ulric, a religious warrior in 13th Century England determined to find the neuromancers and witches responsible for the spread of the bubonic plague. 'Cause you gotta blame somebody, you know! He takes along a young monk (Eddie Redmayne) as a guide and leads a motley crew of killers and torturers toward a village that has somehow been spared from the plague's wrath. Many twists ensue that would constitute major spoilers, so I'll just note that I was taken with the look of the film, the acting is uniformly excellent and it's fun to see a movie that tries for a "Conqueror Worm" sort of authenticity, as opposed to arch or camp. There's a really well done sword/bludgeon/knife battle in the middle, too. Definitely worth checking out...