Ninja Turtles New Jersey Art and Thoughts On The New TMNT Movie

Artist and New Jersey lover Scott Modrzynski of Mojo’s Work, has quite and interesting life story. You can check it out for yourself, but he’s got a ton of love and respect for New Jersey AND The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, two forces combined and strikingly illustrated in his TMNT/New Jersey art featured here. What a killer combo from Scott! He’s got so much more at his site with his NJ Badass series which are mash-ups of our state AND characters like Deadpool, Scooby Doo, Mario & Luigi, Superman, and Spiderman just to name a few! Now, onto my thoughts on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, in theaters now.

Don’t call this a comeback. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been here for years and haven’t really ever gone away. Nickelodeon grabbing full rights to the property a few years ago has been a dream for fans. Since the latest cartoon series premiered, and now the new feature film is hitting theaters, we’re in the midst of Turtle fever all over again with new toys, special edition sodas and perhaps the most logical, pizza tie-ins.

Michael Bay has modified a few details of the Turtles here and there, most notably, the look of our beloved pizza devourin’, Foot Clan fightin’ Turtles. What scares me is that regardless of what true die-hard Turtles fans feel about this film, if it does big business at the box office, which, from a curiosity standpoint it’s basically guaranteed to, Bay’s alterations will probably stick around for the long run.

Very early on, well before critics actually saw this film, I was put off by promotional photos and rumors. Now that people are finally seeing it and tweeting such flat, lackluster feedback about the movie, I’m even less compelled to go to the theater to see it. I can wait for this one to hit Redbox. Meanwhile, I’ll watch my DVDs of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film from 1990 which remains one of the best movies of the superhero genre as well as The Secret of the Ooze which is still badass too!

I remember seeing the 1990 original in the theater as well as the sequel, and I enjoyed both films immensely. The only minor issue I had with the original was the casting of April O’Neil. From a performance standpoint I had no complaints about Judith Hoag, but I couldn’t help feeling that there was a more appropriate actress for the role.

At the time, the ’80s were still lingering around and a logical choice for April would’ve been an actress who starred in one of the quintessential kids movies from the ’80s. I always felt that Jersey’s own, Kerri Green, who played Andi in The Goonies, would’ve been an awesome April O’Neil. If anything, she would’ve embodied the cartoon April perfectly. Think about it. This leads me to the hotly debated issue of Megan Fox. Stunt casting at its best.

Having Angelina Jolie shoved down our throats for so many years was always a similar topic of discussion for me. I was never so crazy-obsessed with Jolie from a physical standpoint nor was I ever seduced by any of her films. Conversely, Megan Fox is super hot and it’s a near fact that her acting ability is not on par with other actresses of her age range, but admiring her (not her wacky thumbs) might be the lone reason for me eventually giving Ninja Turtles a watch.  

Admittedly, I was even a fan of TVs The Next Mutation when it first aired, mainly because it was cool to see a live action offshoot of the TMNT movies, no matter how Power Rangers-esque it was. Judging by what I’ve seen and heard about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, I might just be better off watching my bootlegs of The Next Mutation this weekend!

Head over to our friend The Sewer Den to read his expert opinion on the 2014 Ninja Turtles film:
http://www.thesewerden.com/2014/08/tmnt-2014-movie-review.html

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.68: Eerie, Indiana

Photobucket

“My name is Marshall Teller. Not long ago I was living in New Jersey just across the river from New York City. It was crowded, polluted, and full of crime…I loved it. But my parents wanted a better life for my sister and me, so we moved to a place so wholesome, so squeaky clean, you could only find it on TV. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth…”

Fellow horror fans were few and far between when I was a kid. Even in my teenage years I really only had one friend who was into horror like me. And nowadays all it takes is a Google search and you can see that the Internet is literally overrun with horror blogs. It doesn’t get any better than that. But let me go back to when I was a little kid. Those were some important years in the ’80s and ’90s for the genre of horror. On a much different scale, horror was marketed to the kids. There were movies, comics, and TV shows. Horror and Sci-Fi began to merge together to incorporate thrillers, the unexplained, spooky mysteries, and anything remotely…eerie. One of the first shows that successfully blended all this together for young kids in a neat package was Eerie, Indiana.

Photobucket 
“…nobody believes me, but this is the center of weirdness for the entire planet…Eerie, Indiana, my home sweet home…”

Eerie premiered in September of 1991 and I began recording each episode as they aired without even knowing if I would like them or not. I just had a feeling that it exactly my type of show. The pilot turned out to be classic. The plot revolves around our main character Marshall’s (Omri Katz) neighbors, a set of twin boys whose mother preserves them in a type of human Tupperware called Foreverware when they go to sleep at night. It was directed by Jersey guy Joe Dante and it’s in line with all of his other superb genre work. From there, Marshall would investigate all kinds of weird stuff around his town. The show hit home for me since Marshall was constantly comparing his new whacked out hometown to his old neighborhood in New Jersey. Ironically, in the show he uses Jersey as his measuring stick for normal. Obviously we’re far from it!

“Normally I wouldn’t be afraid of pancakes, but back in Jersey, breakfast was always a serve yourself bowl of cereal. Mom had me worried.”

Predating Eerie, Indiana’s premiere by a couple of years, New Jersey had their very own magazine which was basically the same premise as Eerie called Weird NJ. I wonder if the shows producers did a little borrowing? It was quite a few years before the magazine blew up and became world renowned, but local Jersey folks were well aware of its existence. The publishers, Mark and Mark are local icons who eventually branched out into books and their own specials on the History Channel. You might say I was spoiled. Add this reading material into my TV watching routine and you can pick up on what kind of a kid I was and why I related to Marshall.

I had an insatiable appetite for anything I could devour with a creepy tone to it. Eerie, Indiana was my must-see TV for the season that it aired. When I was even younger I would watch Amazing Stories, The Goonies, The ‘Burbs, Monster Squad, The Explorers, The Gate, Haunted Honeymoon, Tomes and Talismans, Twilight Zone, and Tales From The Crypt. On stormy days in the summer my sister and I used to watch the video tape from the Clue video board game. Most times we didn’t even play the game, we just liked the mysterious video. Heck, after Eerie, Indiana was basically dead in the water I even watched Ghost Writer on PBS. That show rocked too. Are You Afraid of the Dark began in the same year as Eerie, Indiana and, a few years later, so did Goosebumps, so it just goes to show that there was a demand for that type of programming.

I would nearly wet myself when the promos would start airing for Shocktober on Channel 11 (WPIX here in the Tri-State area) as Halloween season neared. Friday and Saturday nights were spent staying up late and falling asleep on the recliner after being petrified by Werewolf, Tales from the Darkside, and Freddy’s Nightmares.

As I got older there seemed to be less and less of the types of genre movies and shows that I loved to watch as a kid. I was hooked on Buffy The Vampire Slayer when it first aired. Presently, with shows like True Blood, and Vampire Diaries, I prefer to watch Supernatural and My Babysitter’s a Vampire because they’re not as much adventure/horror as they are a blend of drama and romance. Those shows seem blatantly geared toward women. I’m not looking for comedy, but it’s a special feeling I get when watching the Monster Squad – nobody makes stuff like that anymore. The closest I’ve seen is the animated show Gravity Falls on Disney Channel that seems to be directly influenced by Eerie, Indiana. It’s the combination of fun and spooky adventure that appeals to me. If you were brought up watching Scooby Doo as a kid, you probably watched Eerie, Indiana when you were a little older! I want to see more shows like this, how about you?

X-Files: The Jersey Devil

Photobucket

Are there any homeless people in your town? I’m sure most towns have a few vagrants here and there, but the way the X-Files portrayed Atlantic City back in 1993 was atrocious. In the episode “The Jersey Devil,” America’s Playground was comprised of a bunch of dilapidated old buildings inhabited by a thousand homeless people living on the sidewalks. Adding to this nonsense, they somehow weaseled in THE MOST WHACKED OUT TAKE ON THE JERSEY DEVIL IN THE HISTORY OF TIME.

No one should have ever let this happen. On October 8th, 1993, the still new Fox show The X-Files aired it’s 5th episode “The Jersey Devil.” It’s an episode that will go down in infamy as not only the worst X-Files episode of all time, but the worst episode of any television show in the history of the universe. If that sounds too preposterous to you, you MUST go back and watch this episode. It’s streaming on Netflix if you are so inclined.

Thankfully, I only watched this episode a couple of weeks ago so I haven’t lived 19 years with the terrible memories it. I’ve been stewing over it since I watched it because it made me so furiously angry and confused. I couldn’t understand how such an embarrassing episode was green-lit to actually air on TV. I think I may have only watched one or two X-Files episodes in my entire life, but this was not one of them.

Photobucket

There are so many things wrong with the episode. I’ll try to sum them up as briefly as possible for you. First of all, the plot was inaccurate and completely dumb. Here it is in a nutshell: A naked savage beast woman is THE JERSEY DEVIL. She normally lives in the Pine Barrens, but sometimes she goes to Atlantic City, no not on a senior bus trip, but on foot, and pillages the makeshift forts of HOMELESS people that seemed to comprise the entire span of Atlantic City. There’s been a report of a grisly murder in the Pine Barrens and Mulder wants the case so bad that he risks his life and his job to make it happen.

Eventually, beast woman of the Pines has a run in with Mulder (David Duchovny) but she eludes him. He then becomes obsessed with trying to track her down and apprehend her. After the nude savage cannibalistic beast woman goes and steals food from the garbage and terrorizes the homeless peeps of A.C, she stops at the Pool at Harrah’s to fist pump with DJ Pauly D. Ok, so that’s not how it went, but that would’ve been a way funnier story.

Beyond the plot there were other problems with this show. I couldn’t get over how bland the acting was. I realize there was supposed to be a certain chemistry between Mulder and Scully, but DAMN it was non-existent! Like George Carlin once said, “I’d rather watch flies f*ck” than watch these two interact with each other on the small screen. Duchovny’s acting seems to channel offbeat actors like Jeff Goldblum, but Goldblum’s idiosyncrasies and like-ability push him into the stratosphere while Duchovny acts like he’s a full frontal lobotomy patient. He’s monotone, and facially paralyzed. I realize some people worship this guy, but in this specific episode he made me question why he’s even an actor.

More puzzling is the fact that Duchovny was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for his performance in The X-Files. The Globe award staff must’ve been playing racquetball the night this episode aired. According to Wikipedia, after Duchovny read for the role during the casting process, the show creator Chris Carter thought he had “talked rather slowly” leading him to believe he was “not particularly bright.” He was playing an FBI agent, not a stoner!

Wikipedia ALSO notes that The Jersey Devil episode was “Pretty Silly,” and you know if Wikipedia says it, it’s 100% true! It comes down to this question: what does the Jersey Devil really look like? This episode will lead you to believe that J.D is a naked woman who lives in the woods, has animalistic tendencies, will kill people, eat garbage, and shoots down to A.C every now and again because there’s better tasting trash there.

Local myths legends are open to our interpretation, and I get that. It’s just that I believe if the Jersey Devil is going to be portrayed, he should be as scary and ferocious as many artists and accounts have described him over the years. And yes, something tells me it’s a HE, not a she.

What was that? You’re a fanatical X-Files fan and you are outright livid that I am insulting your blessed show? The X-Files obviously has a rabid fan base and this episode isn’t a classic example of how good it may have been. But don’t even bother defending the craptastic “Jersey Devil” episode. That’s not even a good silly adjective for it because most times things that are craptastic are actually good in a very crappy way, this one is soooo the complete opposite. Beware!