Monday, February 19, 2007

The Many Loves of Watchdog à la Mod

William Finley caught in the act of acting in Brian De Palma's
MURDER A LA MOD.

My review of MURDER A LA MOD, Brian De Palma's first stab at the thriller genre, is now available in the current issue of SIGHT & SOUND... and on their website here.

Unfortunately, a wee mistake was made in the editing of this review for publication. The third paragraph ends: "PHANTOM [OF THE PARADISE] fans will be intrigued to spot De Palma's own name on the clapboard in a film-within-the-film." That sentence should read: "PHANTOM [OF THE PARADISE] fans will be intrigued to spot the name of Swan, along with De Palma's own name, on the clapboard in a film-within-the-film."

In other news, here's your first advance peek at the cover of VIDEO WATCHDOG #129. John and I finished editing the issue last night and Donna posted it to our printer very early this morning. As you can see, it sports one of the most commercial covers we've ever had; it emphasizes our feature coverage of Neil Marshall's THE DESCENT (by Richard Harland Smith and Sam Umland), Shane M. Dallmann's "DVD Spotlight" coverage of the SAW Trilogy, and interior reviews of HOSTEL and FINAL DESTINATION 3. We hope to attract some new readers, who, upon opening the issue, will sooner or later find themselves (ha ha ha) in the deep end of the pool, 'doG-paddling about in content as wildly cultish and outré as our seasoned readers have come to expect.

There's a fair amount of Cult TV coverage in this issue, including ULTRAMAN, SECRET AGENT aka DANGER MAN, and the Nigel Kneale BBC series BEASTS and KINVIG; then there are our reviews of the 75th Anniversary editions of DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN; some Toho reviews; the long-awaited return of "Things from the Attic"; Ramsey Campbell on Max Ophüls' THE RECKLESS MOMENT, and lots else.

The BIG news about this new cover, however, is that -- for the first time in our 17-year history -- we've allowed a subtle revision of our familiar magazine logo. You may have overlooked it at first glance, but look again: the central HD in "Watchdog" is now more prominent, flagging the fact that this issue heralds our first steps into the exciting new realms of HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. There's just a few HD reviews herein, and we're keeping them a secret for now... but you can depend on this becoming an expanding feature of issues to come. A near-complete listing of the issue's contents, a hi-res look at the cover, and free review samples will be posted soon in the Coming Soon area of the VIDEO WATCHDOG website.

Also, I was sorry to notice on Mark Evanier's blog today his announcement of the death of comic artist Bob Oksner at the age of 90.

I'm only familiar with a fraction of Mr. Oksner's work, and when I was enjoying it most as a youngster, I'm not sure that I was even aware of his name; DC Comics didn't always play up the names of their writers ands artists the way Marvel did. However, the lower right hand corner of this cover of THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS #73 shows that Mr. Oksner was certainly known and appreciated by his peers. As I kid, I remember thinking that the artist on such books as THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE, THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS, THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS, STANLEY AND HIS MONSTER and ANGEL AND THE APE might be an anonymous or pseudonymous Mort Drucker, because the draftsmanship and deftness of caricature were comparable in many ways. In recent years, I've been revisiting some of these classic humor comics from the 1950s-'70s and have found that they're still as funny as they ever were, but my admiration for Oksner's work has grown by leaps and bounds. His work was not only superbly narrative and supportive of the scripted humor (much of it courtesy of THE FLESH EATERS screenwriter Arnold Drake), but it was also funny in itself (not an easy thing) and could also be sexy in an amusing way. (Much of the humor of Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, and Dobie Gillis in these comics had to do with ogling shapely girls.) In addition to all that, Oksner could draw monsters on a par with Jack Davis -- my highest compliment.

You can read more about Bob Oksner by following the link above to Mark Evanier's blog today and scrolling down several items.

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