Riverdale actor KJ Apa graces MCM London Comic Con with kiwi charm 

Sunday was the final day of MCM London Comic Con, and with it was one last big name to close out the weekend.

New Zealand actor KJ Apa, who plays Archie Andrews on the television show Riverdale, was in London to answer a number of questions at his Q&A panel.

Apa, wearing a shirt given to him by a fan at MCM, charmed the socks off the audience. The show is young (it only first began airing in January), but has already gained a dedicated audience.

Though things were easy straight off the bat for Apa. Being a New Zealander, he had to adjust to his new surroundings in America. Apa said that he needed to stop using certain Kiwi terms that his American counter-parts wouldn’t know, and said that it took the cast a little while to get their chemistry working. Thankfully they pulled it off well.

The 19-year-old actor showed plenty of affection for his television father, Luke Perry. Apa said that Perry was the one actor that he got on best with (name Jugheard actor Cole Sprouse as the second). That special relationship lead to some great acting experiences for Apa.

The final scene of the season in which Perry’s character Fred Andrews is shot, was one of Apa’s favourites to film.  Both actors received the script for the scene the night before filming, and Apa said he was thrown. But Apa said that his special relationship with Perry made that final scene very difficult to film, and they both had to stop to take a few minutes from the emotional scene.

The shooting of Fred Andrews (which may or may not be fatal) will lead to Archie becoming a lot darker as he looks to avenge his father. Apa promises that Archie will become much more intense in season 2.

As far as season 1 was concerned, Apa said that he initially thought that Jughead was the killer. The actor said he thought it would be cool, considering that Jughead is the narrator of the show. But once he dropped that idea, he moved on to suspecting Clifford Blossom. And he guessed it right early on, saying that he stunned one of the writers when he asked if Clifford was the one responsible for Jason’s death.

Perhaps Apa has a future in writing murder-mysteries.

Apa is a fairly new to acting, getting his first role when he was only sixteen. And it was something that came fairly naturally. He claims he didn’t even have to work on his American accent for Riverdale. When Apa first auditioned for the role of Archie, he brought his guitar along to his callback. Apa, who performs all of his own music in the show, said that he felt calmer with his guitar in his hands.

But a solo album doesn’t look to likely for Apa. Hopefully he sticks to acting, though, he has plenty of fans to carry him on.

 

Firefly’s Summer Glau and Sean Maher reunite at MCM London Comic Con

Two stars from Joss Whedon’s short-lived, cult television series Firefly were reunited on Saturday at MCM London Comic Con.

Actors Summer Glau and Sean Maher (who played siblings River Tam and Dr Simon Tam respectively) joined the stage for a lengthy Q&A session with their fans. The pair completely packed the room on the sold-out Saturday, which is pretty impressive for a television show that didn’t even make it through its first season.

Despite it’s short life, Firefly has a massive and dedicated fan base. Glau and Maher agreed that it was probably this aspect that helped fans become so fanatical. But it didn’t hurt that the story and its characters were each so special.

Maher recalled how when the cast first started working together, the chemistry was both instantaneous and organic. Their sibling affection for each other helped create some of the more dynamic parts of the show. Each after sighted the other as a larger reason as to why their performances did so well.

The actors said that the filming was a unique and special experience. Glau said that she was mostly kept in the dark about the future of the show, and said that creator Joss Whedon only gave her glimpses into her character’s past – information that she wouldn’t divulge to the fans.

The subject of Glau’s ballet training came up multiple times in her responses. But her character River uses a variety of martial arts in the Serenity film. Glau spoke about how her “gangly limbs” were used to her advantage to form a unique style that was one of the more impressive aspects of the movie.

Both Glau and Maher’s characters were at the forefront of Firefly’s follow-up film (and excited about having dialogue on so many pages). Glau especially had to work on her martial arts training, which she said she began several months before filming even began.

“It became my life,” said Glau, reflecting on her training – which included lessons with 12-year-old boys who all refused to be her partner.

Glau and Maher also discussed the string of cancelled shows they’ve both been on. Maher especially felt jaded after having a number of his shows axed by the same network on multiple occasions. But if the success of Firefly proves anything, its that there can still be love for a show that is gone too soon.

But mostly, both actors look back fondly on their time on both Firefly and the follow-up film Serenity. Both actors have worked with Whedon on multiple occasions. Whedon himself mostly lives in the realm of movies these days, but a full-fledged return to television would always be welcome.

Minor note, but bonus points for Glau’s super-adorable little girl. She could be heard chatting away during the entire hour. And is apparently a big fan of The Jetsons.

MCM London Comic Con brings out the legends on day one 

MCM London Comic Con was back again for its 2017 Spring edition.

The convention, at ExCel London, started its three-day weekend celebrations with some of the biggest and most-loved names in pop culture as well as some new British-bred talents.

Included in the morning’s schedule was four of the Power Ranger‘s most familiar faces. Original rangers Austin St. John, Walter Jones and David Yost were joined by former Yellow Ranger Karan Ashley.

The four old friends discussed their times on the much-beloved television show, including reminiscing about favourite episodes and moments. Though the conversation veered more to the serious side when they began to talk about the difficulties of getting good contracts in Hollywood and what they view as unfair treatment by their bosses.

Though all four actors said that they will be appearing in the film The Order in the future with several other former Power Rangers. It’s a show that has quite a loyal and fanatical fan base, and sure to give The Order the attention it needs.

The convention’s big name of the day was kung fu icon Donnie Yen. The Chinese actor sat with The Modern School of Film’s Robert Milazzo to discuss the icons of the genre as well as Yen’s own upbringing in both China and the rough streets of Boston.

Up-and-coming English director Tom Paton took the time to promote his new film Redwood while sharing his experiences as a young, indie director. The film, which stars Buffy alum Nicholas Brendon, is Paton’s second feature-length film following the success of 2016’s Pandorica.

Closing the day out with both the best of indie success and iconic names was the panel with Lloyd Kaufman of Troma with Essex Spacebin director David Hollinsworth.

Essex Spacebin, which is distributed by Troma, premiered at Prince Charles Cinema back in February paired up with the Troma classic Tromeo and Juliet.  But while Essex Spacebin is certainly Troma-inspired (Hollinsworth named Combat Shock in particular), its certainly a British film.

It’s a strange (to put it lightly) story of a woman trying to access a stargate… or something. It’s almost utterly explainable but worth watching just for the spectacle. The film was mostly shot on 35mm film and stars an actress who largely had never done any acting before.

Troma picked up the film after the creators emailed Kaufman. But Troma always strives for the unique and basks in the anti-establishment. It certainly doesn’t win all the fans in the world, but there are barely any fans that are more fanatical.

Kaufman was recently at the Cannes Film Festival to promote the new Return to Return to Nuke ’em High Volume 2. And looking at the Troma twitter page it looks like they all had a fucking blast causing a scene.

And that’s what is so great about MCM London Comic Con. It offers both big names and established icons but also makes sure to celebrate British talent. Troma being at the con is going to be a personal highlight of the weekend. Always happy to see Lloyd when he comes to London. Nothing is more infectious than passion and investing what you believe in.

There have been a lot of changes to this weekend’s schedule, including both cancelled appearances and additional panels. Always keep up with MCM’s twitter page and check those signs! If you haven’t bought your tickets, tough. Saturday is now entirely sold out.

Wicked Wednesday: Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2017)

I don’t often write about contemporary horror films on my blog. There’s a multitude of reasons, but mostly – I just don’t care for a vast majority of them. Though if we’re being totally honest, I don’t think the last slew of forgettable 80’s slashers I’ve been watching are exactly top-notch either.

But I always feel more guilty disliking a new film versus a 1983 film that has already made it’s money. When a new horror film is great, I love screaming about it from the hilltops.

So when I saw there was a new film on Shudder that was likened to Ti West’s The House of the Devil (which is a personal favourite), I was rather excited. Unfortunately, Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is nothing like House of the Devil.

Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is the story of Adele, a girl who has moved to a town to take care of her elderly aunt with agoraphobia. Adele is quiet and meek, but mostly just bored. It’s not very helpful that her aunt rarely speaks to her, even when Adele mentions seeing a photograph of her aunt in her younger days.

Her Aunt Dora leaves her notes that she slides under the door. Adele must leave her aunt’s meals at the door and follow whatever the notes tell her to do. She’s also in charge of the cash.

While shopping in the grocery store one day, Adele spots a girl testing out pomegranates and flirting with the stock boy. Adele is immediately smitten. She buys the fruit and tries it for herself.

By chance, the two girls meet again when Adele goes to a pizza parlor and the mysterious girl offers to buy her a slice. The girl introduces herself as Beth. She’s the cliched “worldly girl” that appears in these movies. She wears berets! She knows a lot about Victorian history! She orders Manhattans! She doesn’t care what other people think!

Adele can’t see through this shit and I really don’t feel sorry for her.

Beth stops by Aunt Dora’s home one day during her run and Adele reluctantly lets her new friend inside the house. The two try on dresses that they find in the basement and, you know, bond!

But Beth’s bad influence is quick. Adele is constantly stealing money from her aunt, who refuses to give her an advance, and is coaxed into buying a ‘natural remedy’ instead of Dora’s expensive heart medication. Then they are caught spying on Dora when they slide a mirror under her door. It was these two scenes that made me decide that I really disliked Adele. A lot. Sweet, sweet my ass.

Adele leaves her sickly aunt behind to go with Beth to a cabin. They hang out on the beach and take pills. Beth admits to Adele that she had an abortion after having unprotected sex with a man while on quaaludes. After that, they take some gravestone rubbings. Spooky.

Despite the fact that the two kissed earlier, Adele is later rejected by her Beth. Absolutely crushed, Adele takes Beth’s pills and takes a cab back to Aunt Dora’s home. But, unsurprisingly, Aunt Dora is already dead because that’s what you get for playing pharmacist.

Aunt Dora’s death hardly phases Adele. She immediately starts going through her aunt’s things. She finds a ring and goes to take it to Beth with an attached apology note, but when Adele arrives at Beth’s flat, she discovers that there’s a naked man in Beth’s bed! Shock, horror (because you didn’t see that coming when you’re into a “worldly girl”).

Distraught (though not about her dead aunt), Adele begins to popping Beth’s pills like they’re going out of date. She begins to have hallucinations of her aunt in her rocking chair. She begins to start pawning off her aunt’s things. She buys a new outfit and then has love-less sex with a random man at a bar.

Then on one, dark stormy night – shit begins to go down. And it’s pretty standard: Adele finds that her childhood toy has been moved. Then she discovers that the front door has been left open, and – surprise – Beth is there when she turns around.

But Beth isn’t quite herself. Adele panics when the bell that her aunt used to ring for service keeps going off. She runs into the basement, sensing that something isn’t quite right (or its all those drugs). The sweet, sweet lonely girl attempts to hide, but is eventually caught by the being that is following her. And what that thing is, we’re never really explained.

And the ending, well, I won’t spoil it, but I think this was inevitable as soon as Adele picked up that stupid photograph.

Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention (though I’m pretty certain I was), but a lot of things weren’t explained. Like who was the random old lady that gave Beth flowers at the cemetery? Was it from an admirer? Why even include that? What the hell is Beth’s deal? Has she been going this for centuries? Is she from the Victorian era? Why does she talk about the Victorian era so much when the rest of the film ignores it and has the girls dress up in flapper dresses?

Why does anything matter?

Why did I watch this movie?

I guess there’s nothing seriously wrong with Sweet, Sweey Lonely Girl other than I wish it actually answered something. It’s not the greatest talent in the world to write something open-ended without explanation. There is no backstory built into the film, and I honestly think that this is a case where a little less mystery would have paid off. But the film is really stunning and probably worth watching for that alone.

Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.

MCM London Comic Con 2017 preview

Friday has become Riverdale day for me. Without it, I feel I great sense of loss. But all good things must come to an end… and thankfully there’s plenty of things around the corner to fill that hole in my heart.

COMIC CON IS BACK, KIDS!

MCM London Comic Con will return to the Excel Centre for another three-days of pop-culture goodness. And this time, the minds behind the con have plenty of great things to see.

For one, the one and only Lloyd Kaufman will be in attendance to help promote the British film Essex Spacebin as well as the video game Victor Vran: Motörhead Through the Ages. It’s always a pleasure to see this man, and well worth meeting even if you’re a Troma virgin.

And to really fill that Riverdale emptiness, Archie Andrews himself AJ Kappa will be in London. And for another show that my heart belongs to, both Tam siblings from Firefly. Considering how dedicated of a fan base Joss Whedon has, their panel is bound to be a highlight (if not a personal one).

But the con continues to have a little something for everyone. Doctor Who companions Billie Piper and Catherine Tate will both grace London. And if you’re a more classic sci fi fan, Sam Jones (Flash Gordon), Lou Ferrigno (the Hulk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura of Star Trek) will all be appearing all weekend.

New this year is the Forbidden Planet’s author corner, which will be hosting some of the UK’s best science fiction and fantasy writers.

MCM London Comic Con will be May 26 to the 28th. Weekend priority tickets are sold out (and Saturday nearly gone). But you can still purchase day tickets here.

Wicked Wednesday: The Unseen (1980)

A lot of movies are forgettable. You watch them, shrug, carry on with your day then aren’t really able to explain what you watched on three hours ago to your friends. The Unseen is one of those special, forgettable films that makes me roll my eyes to the heavens asking why I’m cursed to waste my life watching/writing about these things.

Now on paper, The Unseen  sounds promising. It stars Sydney Lassick and Barbara Bach. It was directed by a Friday the 13th director (Danny Steinmann, Part V). It’s about incest, secret babies and journalists. But really, it’s so dull and really long-winded that I mostly feel ambivalent about writing about it.

Jennifer is a news reporter for a television station, out covering a festival called Solvang with her sister Karen and their friend Vicki. When the girls arrive in town, they are told that there’s been a mix-up and that they don’t have a room booked at the hotel in town. And since the festival is so popular, there are no rooms available at any hotel in town.

So the three women are forced to go out of town to look for lodgings. They stop at a museum, thinking it is a hotel. But the man inside, Ernest, is played by Lassick so is most definitely going to be a creep. He explains to Jennifer the situation at the museum, and eventually offers her and her friends a room at his own home.

When the girls arrive at the large farmhouse, Ernest introduces them to his wife, Virginia. She’s a wisp of a woman, and very distraught by the girls’ arrival.

Ernest heads out back to the museum after Jennifer and Karen go back to the festival. Vicki stays behind as she’s feeling unwell. This makes the perfect opportunity to kill someone off! After getting into bed for a rest, something reaches out of the floor vent and grabs her. She struggles again it, but it pulled down the vent. But the grate slams down on her neck.

While at the parade, Jennifer’s ex-boyfriend, Tony, shows up. This is easily the most confusing part of the movie. He’s mad that she left him without giving them a chance to work things out, but I’m also pretty certain she accuses him of beating her? Either way, Tony sucks. But Karen likes him and convinces her sister to stay behind in the town and work things out.

It turns out that Jennifer is pregnant, and plans to abort the baby because Tony hurt his knee and can no longer work? Again, I mostly don’t care. Point is: babies.

Meanwhile, Ernest is hanging out at the museum. A man begins to speak to him. It’s revealed that the almighty voice is from Ernest’s dead father. Oh and Virginia’s. They’re brother and sister. In his delusion, Ernest hears his father scold him for raping his poor sister (who is not the sharpest). When the dad mentions ‘taking care’ of the situation, Ernest recalls killing his father.

With Vicki out of the way, that clears the floor for Karen to get killed when she returns to the home. She drops a bowl of fruit and begins to pick it up, but her scarf if grabbed and pulled down into the vent, and her head slammed against the grate.

Virginia finds both of the girls and goes into shock. She tells Ernest, and he says they need to take care of the bodies to protect ‘Junior’ and get rid of Jennifer when she returns to the house.

Jennifer is dropped off by an angry Tony and left alone. She goes into the empty house and goes into the basement when she hears Ernest calling for her. She agrees to help him, but is then locked in the basement.

She begins to look for a way out, but instead finds the corpses of Karen and Vicki partially buried. She begins to panic and scream when something moves in the piles of crap on the floor. Jennifer feels even more panicked when she sees Junior. He’s a big lump of a boy, but he mostly just wants to play with her.

But Jennifer is kind of a bitch. She just panics and cries instead of appropriately assessing the situation. I suppose it’s because he killed her friends. Whatever.

Junior’s parents hear Jennifer’s screams and assume Junior is killing her. When Ernest goes to check, he finds her scooting away. He begins to strangle her with his belt, but she’s saved by Virginia. Then it’s Virginia’s turn to get strangled, but her son sees her in trouble and he pushes Ernest away.

Then Ernest attacks Junior (boy this is a fun movie) and gives his son a board-with-a-nail to the head. Believing he’s taken care of both his sister and his son, Ernest goes to look for Virginia. She’s made the silly idea of crawling into the chicken coop (she twisted her ankle or something so she can’t walk, apparently). He finds her and the scuffle over the ax.

Jen tries her best to get away, and it seems like things are about to end when Tony shows up! Only Tony is a dipshit and falls (remember that all-important knee injury). But don’t worry, Virginia FINALLY ends shit by shooting Ernest in the chest before he can ax Jennifer in the skull.

Like a boss, Virginia returns into her home. She returns to sooth her dying boy while the world’s worst couple make their escape.

The Unseen isn’t a bad movie, but I almost wish it was. Sometimes it’s better to make a statement than to hardly make a mark at all. I did enjoy that Virginia ends up being the real hero of the film. She had clearly been abused by her brother most of her life, and when she finally gets her revenge – you can’t help but cheering for her.

That being said, Jennifer is not that great. Mostly because her idiotic relationship with Tony ruins her character. All of the background about the abortion and the knee-injury is mostly just padding to get the film get to that 90-minute-mark.

The film does a lot of telling instead of showing. That goes down to a poor script. When the reveal happens that Virginia and Ernest are siblings, and have a child – it should be bigger. Instead a decision was made to have Sydney Lassick sit in a chair and talk to himself for a good five-minutes. It’s one of the more stranger story-telling devices I’ve seen in a film. And it really doesn’t work.

I wouldn’t tell anyone not to watch this film, but boy. You could really spend your time better elsewhere.

Riverdale Ep. 13 recap “Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter”

After last week’s unbelievable episode, Riverdale turned much more somber for it’s final chapter in its first season.

Many of the residents are coming to terms (or rather, not coming to terms) with their new Riverdale. It’s confirmed that Clifford Blossom was using the maple syrup business as a front to smuggle heroin out of Montreal in his trucks.

The discovery of the heroin only puts more pressure on FP, as the sheriff and mayor believe that the Serpents are the ones responsible for selling the drugs in Riverdale. FP is insistent that the gang never pushed any hard drugs, but the gang are an easy scapegoat.

To further push their agenda, Mayor McCoy and Principal Weatherbee ask Betty and Archie to be the face of Riverdale’s 75th Jubilee (a cute nod to Archie comic’s 75th anniversary this year). The adults tell the two kids that they want to celebrate how they all worked together to bring peace to Riverdale. Which, as Betty points out, is not really true. But they reluctantly agree.

But devious, wonderful little Betty has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She begins to prepare an article about Clifford Blossom and how the Southside Serpents are getting an unfair amount of blame in Jason Blossom’s death. But the Coopers refuse to publish it in their newspaper. They tell her that there is a lot more violence towards the gang and they don’t want Betty to be the next target.

Betty, who is not happy with her new-reunited family’s returned faux-happiness, confronts her mom when Alice tells her off for publishing the story about the Serpents in the Blue and Gold. Alice is angry at her daughter, who ended up getting “go to Hell Serpent Slut” painted on her locker, but Betty turns the tables and begins to question her mom instead.

Alice refuses to answer any of Betty’s questions about the argument she had with Hal on their homecoming night. But eventually, she goes to her daughter and admits that was the night she told Hal that she was pregnant, but they disagreed on how to ‘handle’ the baby. Alice eventually went away to the same place they sent Polly, and she gave the baby – a boy – up for adoption.

While Alice and Betty have their moment of reconciliation, things are not going well for Hermione and Veronica’s increasingly strained relationship. Hermione fired the Serpents from the job site, and wants to buy out Fred Andrews from his part-ownership. Fred, angry that Hermione fired his workers, refuses to sell. And Hermione has the gumption to ask Veronica to have a word with Archie about his father.

Hermione is, of course, desperate to get rid of Fred because of her husband’s return at the end of the month. The less of her relationship with Fred that’s around, the better. But Fred still refuses to sell.

Meanwhile, Fred is probably having a pretty shit week. As well as trying to be forced out of his project, he learns that he can no longer watch Jughead. The boy is sent to the Southside and has to transfer out of Riverdale High.

But Jughead actually handles things pretty well for someone who has been dramatic about every slight against him. He seems to actually fit in more with the, I dunno, ‘rugged’ kids at Southside High. But Betty is fairly convinced that things will change between them, despite her boyfriend’s insistence that it won’t.

His friends go to “save” him from his new school, but it’s completely unnecessary and dramatic. The boy, well, actually looks pretty happy. But the happiness is pretty short-lived when Veronica receives a text from Cheryl saying she’s going to be with Jason.

Poor little rich girl. After the death of her father, the girl is sick of the Blossom fortune and struggles with her relationship with her mom. She abdicates her place on the River Vixens. She gives Jughead her spider brooch (and even apologises!).

But Cheryl is not coping well. She dons her infamous white dress and goes to Sweetwater River. The gang catch her as she’s banging her fists against the ice. It doesn’t seem like the river can hold all of their weight, but when Cheryl actually falls through the ice, the race to help her. Archie busts up his hand trying to smash through the ice, and eventually breaks through – saving the girl.

Despite his damaged hand, Archie still wants to play the Jubilee with the Pussycats. But Josie says she heard about his heroic act and says she wants to play his song, an ode to his friends and what they had been through the past few months.

And Betty gives her speech in solidarity with FP and Jughead. Things look great for the kids, but a whole lot less great for the sheriff, mayor and Principal Weatherbee.

With a victory under the belt, Betty goes with Jughead to FP’s trailer while Archie and Veronica go to her place. A&V finally get it on. And while Juggie and Betty are about to get equally cozy, they’re interrupted. Outside the trailer is a slew of Southside Serpents, who say they will take care of Jughead. FP didn’t rat any of them out to get a shorter prison sentence.

The gang give Jughead one of their jackets, which he happily dons. But as soon as Betty sees him, she looks more disgusted than impressed.

The season wraps up when Archie goes to meet his dad at Pop’s. While Archie is washing his hands in the bathroom, he hears a commotion. When he re-enters the dining area, he sees a robber with a gun pointed at Pop’s head. Fred shakes his head at Archie, who clearly wants to intervene. Both men go to stop things, and a shot is fired – but it’s Fred who takes the bullet. As Jughead’s final voice-over tells us, the violence “was anything but random”.

So if Riverdale thinks they can kill of Luke Perry, they’re in a for a whole lot of angry. But what does it mean? The most obvious explanation is that Fred was a target because he doesn’t want to be bought out. But how did the ski-masked man find Fred anyway?

This show did a pretty great job at building next season’s mysteries while finally closing some doors.

Oh and Cheryl set her house on fire – the only way to “purify” things.

What a top bitch. I love Cheryl.

And that is it for Riverdale season 1! What a ride. I sure as hell had a lot of fun. See you for season 2.