Horrible Imaginings Film Festival Presents Sion Sono’s ‘Tag’: Schoolgirl Slaughter-ific

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Briefly summing up the film’s plot in a small paragraph is actually very difficult, so what we will say is that a schoolgirl on a field trip begins encountering strange phenomena that convince her more and more she’s not real.

Okay, even with the weird-ass explanation chapter at the end of the film, this is a difficult one for the average movie-goer to get. Some sequences are almost dream-like, while others have the happy slaughter of a Takashi Miite movie feel to them, and then of course there are some scenes that are almost impossible to fathom at all. The pig-faced demon groom throws me for a loop, what can I say. You’ve been duly warned, this is an incredibly weird, wild ride. But we will attempt to dive headlong into Sion Sono’s Tag, and discover what his apparent obsession with schoolgirl slaughter is, already.

To begin with, we have pretty little Mitsuko. She, like her raucous classmates, is on a bus headed for a hotel with, it’s a pretty safe bet, hot springs. Mitsuko is a little more reflective than her friends, and she gently blows away the pillowcase feathers of her play-fighting comrades off her poetry journal. Only a dropped pen saves her from an Evil Dead-style demon wind execution, one that takes out the entire bus, the other bus, the bikers and hikers, and just for an encore, the nearby telephone wires. And Mitsuko does what she apparently does best, which is to take off running.

Best friend Aki catches up with Mitsuko and just latches on for dear life, joyfully taking her friend’s shaken mind off what she thought she saw with a little class-skipping action. They bring along the girl Sur, short for ‘surreal’ because she apparently is. Sur pontificates about ripples and changing one’s fate by doing the unexpected. This, along with the almost-constant presence of Aki, seem to be key points in the movie, giving the chaos some semi-balance of plot to attempt to follow.

At this point we’ve gone off into some rather wacky territory, where the teachers are attempting to kill the entire schoolgirl student body, and, for some reason, Mitsuko in particular, with all kinds of forbidden hardware.. What can Aki do but distract them while she screams for Mitsuko to run!

But now, everything is very different. The scenery has completely changed, Mitsuko has a job and a different face and a new name, Keiko, and holy crap, we have to go, Keiko-chan’s about to get married!

Okay, sure, but … well, that’s not like any pre-wedding girlie prep I’ve ever attended. And what’s with the all-girl audience who turn into strippers? (I’m not actually kidding, and that’s the mild part of the wedding scene.) Do something unexpected and change your fate, Sur said. Certainly, no one expected Keiko-chan to go all Bride from Kill Bill on all of them with a broken bottle.

A blink, a flash, something, and we’re now running a race, with another different name and face. Izumi’s whole thing is running, apparently, her friends all reminisce about running everywhere as they grew up together, as they run beside her. Izumi-chan is being chased by the pig-faced demon from the previous face. Certain themes are beginning to bleed into each other and despite the occasional, incredibly zany visual, you remember that yes there is an underlying story being told here.

So, here we are at what may be the actual truth, with one last door left to open. Mitsuko-chan is just exhausted and confused and petrified, and it just gets worse when she hears she literally has to go through Aki-chan to get through that door.

I’m not going to spoil the ending, that would do director Sion Sono (who gave us Tokyo Tribe and Strange Circus, among many other Japanese film gems) a large injustice. I will say that it seemed like there was a small attempt at a Bladerunner feel towards the end, and that was an unexpected turn. Sono skillfully gives three important moments in a girl’s life – her carefree middle teenage years with her girlfriends, her fairy-tale wedding of course, and the first time she won any sort of large competition – and infuses them with manic energy while somehow getting his story across at the same time.

In the end, it was a totally weird movie, gigantic and frantic and lovely at parts, and while not for the casual stab at J-Horror, Tag manages to be an enjoyable romp of schoolgirl slaughter!

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2016 was justifiably proud of being the California premiere of Sion Sono’s ‘Tag’, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park!

SDCC 2016 ‘Colt the Outlander’ and the Aradio Brothers: Never just a Bounty Hunter

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Welcome to an alternative post-apocalyptic future, the struggle of daily living on the mining wastelands of Neb-6, where the only thing you can be certain of is that there is absolutely nothing certain in these brave new worlds.

Colt the Outlander, the fast-paced adventure series of rogue bounty hunter Colt and his deadly lady companions Jenna and Brem, as seen in the pages of the world’s premiere illustrated sci-fi-fantasy magazine Heavy Metal, comes to us in written-story format from a leading sci-fi author, Kevin J. Anderson!

Colt the Outlander has been around in some form or fashion, both story and art, since around 1995, first featured in Heavy Metal in the 2001 fall issue and many times since then, crossing over with other well-known properties like Rifts, Colt has an ever-growing and very loyal fan-base.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with the creators of Colt at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the Aradio brothers, Dominic and RC, and Dante Pacella at their booth. Excerpts from the new Colt story series by Kevin J. Anderson were being touted at the booth, and even as I stood there and watched, fans of Colt from Heavy Metal came and went, eagerly anticipating their favorite gritty Colt in a brand new series.

Dominic was kind enough to explain the series to me more in depth, talking about planetary fallout and ancient technologies brought back for new and unique uses, with far-spanning deserts and wastelands, bounty hunters and assassins, Colt and his badass female companions have their daily struggle to just survive cut out for them. Dominic laughingly confided that his sources of inspiration come from everywhere, from the long-running writings of horror laureate Stephen King, to the binge-watching of the show Supernatural with his kids. The boisterous Aradio brother delightedly explained that Kevin J. Anderson himself had expressed interest in writing the novella adaptations of the Colt series, and that Aradio himself was a huge fan of Anderson’s Saga of Seven Suns series and, of course, his Dune adaptations. “There are very few similarities between Dune and Colt, so it was kind of a challenge, but Kevin Anderson can write the hell out of nearly anything sci-fi.”

The comfort that understanding, in any medium, can bring, is often astounding in its effectiveness. More than once, I saw fans who were military members approach the booth and thank the Aradio Brothers and Pacella for their realistic, accurate, and totally empathetic portrayal of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in those who serve in the military, or have served previously, inside the ongoing Colt the Outlander  storyline. Dominic proudly informed me that, “A whole bunch of our Colt fans are servicemen and women,” and the women especially love their strong portrayal of lady bounty hunters Jenna and Brem, who accompany Colt on his scavenging and hunting rounds.

Now, the story of Colt and his pals and their heartaches and adventures, are brought to printed life by the same author who dared to take on a partnership to make more Dune stories, Kevin J. Anderson. Aradio Brothers Studios has ambitions to make Colt a multimedia platform featuring visual entertainment, video games (I see shades of Borderlands, that would be cool), comics and of course, books. To keep up with Colt the Outlander updates and maybe even find a copy of the new novella to purchase, go to the Colt Facebook page here.

 

SDCC 2016 ‘Colony’: Resisting the Walls

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

We all know why we’re here, right? Some time ago, freaking aliens actually descended upon Earth and everything went to hell. Some resisted, some collaborated, and now, the thin veneer of civility under the yoke of the Raps (that’s short for ‘Raptors’, in case you didn’t know) and their human police force is being torn by the Bowman family and their various allies, enemies, and surprise visitors!

The SDCC panel for the USA Network hit Colony featured Josh Holloway (Will Bowman), Sarah Wayne Callies (Katie Bowman), Peter Jacobson (Proxy Snyder), Amanda Righetti (Maddie Kenner), Tory Kittles (Broussard), Adrian Pasdar (Nolan Burgess), and Executive Producers Ryan Condal and Carlton Cuse!

Cuse proudly talked about how they wanted to model the show after the French Nazi occupation, an “Orwellian surveillance state,” that the Raps and their humans have turned the Earth into. “We wanted to make an alien invasions show that wasn’t really about alien invasion, so we had to prove it on the page first.”

Cuse also graciously accepted compliments from the audience about the production and design of the walls on the show, announcing that, “A visual effects company in Denmark of all places called Ghost did the walls and all the visual effects and we couldn’t be more pleased with them.” Continuing with the walls theme, Cuse announced that in season two of Colony, we’d find out why the walls were put up in the first place, and why everywhere seems to be divided into bloc sections and separate colonies. For season two, the show moved filming to the Universal Studios lots, for in this new season there will be stories in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and even a story outside the walls entirely!

Tory Kittles, who plays ex-military Resistance freedom fighter, Broussard, talked about how his character came home from the previous wars with ideas for what his life would be like, and the war of the Raps and the Occupation changed all that, “So he’s going down a much darker path now.” Despite Broussard’s reluctance, especially with the death of Resistance leader Quayle in the first season, he was forced to discover that, “Part of the journey along the way, was realizing he had a significant leader part to play.”

Sarah Wayne Callies is no stranger to playing a strong female character in the most dire of situations, and she laughed when a fan commented on the kickass women she’s already played. “I was looking to play a new character that would incite controversy, I just didn’t think it would be quite this much!” Callies went on to talk about Kate’s dangerous position in Colony season two: “She’s more vulnerable and more alone than she’s ever been.”

The fans at San Diego Comic-Con were treated to a spoof trailer for the second season of Colony, in which their son Charlie supposedly returned from Santa Monica bloc a very changed person. Starring Silicon Valley lead Kumail Nanjiani, the trailer effectively speaks very bluntly, at least in the little sisters words, for itself.

Colony returns to break down the walls of oppression on USA in 2017!

https://youtu.be/katChLS-aRI

SDCC 2016 ‘Lucifer’: The Devil has a Mother

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

It just wouldn’t be a complete Comic-Con without a visit to Hell! Or rather, a re-visit with the Devil on vacation and his pals, both human and divine, as we dive into the panel for FOX’s Lucifer!

The panel included Tom Ellis (Lucifer), D.B. Woodside (Amenadiel), Tricia Helfer (Mom), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Maze), Aimee Garcia (Ella Lopez), and Executive Producers Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich.

For those of you who may not recall, season one of Lucifer ended with some feuding angelic brothers teaming up to take on some bad humans, a potential death and return from Hell, and, oh hey, the news that, someone escaped from Hell and Luci’s been tasked to go get them. Who escaped, you ask? The one person/entity/whatever that Lucifer, Amenadiel, even God himself apparently, is afraid of – Mom.

We all wondered, because at the end of season one, Henderson didn’t have an actress to play her: Someone who would end up with the previously unheard-of role of Mother of the Devil. Wonder no more, Comic-Con fans, for famed sci-fi maven, Tricia Helfer joined the cast of Lucifer on stage in role as Mom!

Helfer was gleeful and playful about her role, pointing out, “The ‘Mom’ chapter was left out of the Bible,” so the show had tons of wiggle-room to write that chapter themselves.

Lesley-Ann Brandt was eager to explain that her character, Maze, would have her own version of emancipation in season two, being forced to remain on Earth  with Lucifer more or less as she is now. And of course, there is no love lost between Maze and Mom, who know each other pretty well, since, “Mom was in Hell and Maze was a prime torturer there, so their meeting again up on Earth is … tense.”

Aimee Garcia plays a new character on the show, forensic scientist Ella Lopez, who inevitably gets involved with Lucifer and Decker’s crime fighting. Garcia related an amusing little story where she surprise-hugged Tom Ellis in their first real scene together on the show. “I’m a hugger in real life and, apparently, so is Lopez; I just gave Tom a big hug and he was like, ‘Hey, go with it!’”

The audience was assured that Lucifer is still in therapy in season two, which is great because his therapy sessions are arguably some of the best scenes on the show. Woodside, who plays Amenadiel, Lucifer’s brother on the show, related that it was important to continue that aspect of Lucifer’s journey, “It’s always interesting to see a character be fragile, especially this character.”

Henderson happily explained that season one of Lucifer had most of the characters establishing their own roles on the show, so season two will have a lot more of the characters playing off each other and being much more together. He also gleefully explained to curious fans that the very reason Chloe Decker affects Lucifer in that way, will be explained in season two as well.

Lucifer will be back to set our everything a-boiling September 19, 2016 on FOX @9:00 p.m./8:00 p.m., Central!

https://youtu.be/urBQ1a00xbE

SDCC 2016 ‘Batman The Killing Joke’: One. Bad. Day.

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

So DC and Warner Bros. have finally brought what is arguably the most infamous Batman and Joker story of all time to the screen, in cartoon movie format, no less. And San Diego Comic-Con, being the smart cookies they are, brought a showing of the film to this year’s Con and what is likely the most difficult audience to please, the fan-atics, so let’s get into this!

The Madness of Spoilers lies ahead!

Now, I know back-story has to be established from the outset and that’s more or less fine, but they sure portrayed Batgirl as whiny, at least for the entire first act. Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong) is Batgirl and has been trailing Batman for approximately three years or so when our story begins. Sure, she kicks plenty of butt on her own, but she’s still in need of approval from the Caped Crusader, especially when she finds herself involved with mobster Paris Franz (Maury Sterling). Somehow, this mesmerizing moron manages to completely bump Batgirl off her game, sending her off on scavenger hunts alone and causing rifts between her and Batman (Kevin Conroy) when she realizes, duh, she can’t take on a simple one-man mouthpiece because he’s managed to get inside her head. Forgive me, but, that just didn’t sound like any Batgirl I knew.

And it just gets odder, because it turns out the tension between Batgirl and Batman had very little to do with an idiotic gangster, or their working-behind-masks relationship issues. No, it’s sexual tension, and after a good old-fashioned scream-fight on a rooftop, Batgirl and Batman get naked and bump bat-uglies. (No, the movie doesn’t show it, but you can clearly tell when Batgirl is perched atop Batman and takes her top off, what they’re doing.)

Inevitably, soon after that, Paris Franz gets dealt with and Barbara decides to go back to being boring librarian Barbara and hang up her cowl for good. That is the entirety of the first act and mildly more than half the movie itself, and a rather unfair go at Batgirl in general, in my opinion. True, the extended Bat family always has growing pains (just look at pretty much all the Robins), but somehow, I thought better of Batgirl than that. Barbara Gordon is supposed to be stronger and, let’s face it, more mature than this representation being offered to us. I suppose the idea is to give background to the relationship between her and Bruce, and while the girlfriend troubles being discussed with the cutie-pie gay librarian friend are fun and all, this whole thing is barely touched on when we get to the better half of the movie.

And here we are! It’s later and, once again, Joker (Mark Hamil) has gleefully skipped Arkham and Bats is on the hunt for him. Joker importantly goes to take over this old amusement park, to prepare it for the upcoming massive performance, but hey, first he needs performers! This means a surprise visit to the Gordon household and next thing you know, Babs has taken a bullet to the gut and the Commissioner has been dad-napped for some good old-fashioned torture!

Meanwhile, while all this is going on, we get treated to, let’s all just admit it, what we’re really here for, the Joker background story. In sepia tones, a young, struggling, never-named comedian tries valiantly to make money to get his very-pregnant wife out of a very bad neighborhood. He worked at a boring chemical plant before trying to make it as a comedian and that isn’t working out too well, either, so our unnamed man decides to try for one big score with some mobsters. They want his help breaking into the old chemical plant so they can get into the card business next door, but hey, there’s a catch: They also want him to wear the notorious Red Hood while he does it.

The movie kind of fails to let the audience know that Bats has been chasing the Red Hood and his crime gang for awhile now, so our unnamed man never really stood a damned chance anyway. But even before he can think about donning a scarlet helmet, news comes back that his poor pregnant wife has met a very tragic end, and with nothing to lose, Nameless decides to do the mob job any-damn-way! Rather like the very first Tim Burton Batman film, you can guess what happened next.

Meanwhile, in the present, Joker as we know him has stripped Gordon naked, dog-collared the poor man, and forced him on a nightmare carnival ride of madness involving naked photographs of his beloved daughter, bleeding and dying from a gut-shot wound. Trying very hard to prove his point, Joker far-too-cheerfully spouts his peculiar brand of madness and explains that anyone could become him, anyone at all, with the now-infamous line, “All it takes to become me is one. Bad. Day.”

This is meant to tie in with the whole Batman and Joker being the light and dark sides of each other, and really, who is to say which is which on that one bad day? Batman gave a heartfelt plea to not do this thing, whatever it is Joker’s planning next, that will likely lead to the death of one or both of them, when he went to see false Joker in Arkham Asylum. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now when we have the final showdown between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime. Or is it? Batman gives a final, entirely heartfelt plea to let him help Joker, once and for all; it truly doesn’t have to end this way. And, for once in his insane little world, Joker answers him deadpan serious: It’s too late for that. It all comes down to this, the final Killing Joke, where Joker cracks a bad funny and after a heartbeat Batman actually lets out a guffaw right along with him.

And that, dear fans and friends and odds and ends, is the end. Except, of course, the inevitable easter egg after some credits, that is.

The style of animation is Spartan and very similar to the old ’90s Batman cartoon show, where Hamil first began voicing the Joker, and that is in no way a bad thing. Joker being the obvious exception, the show took extra care with his facial expression and drawings because, hey, he needs it for this story especially. Famed DC contributor Bruce Timm, who produced The Killing Joke, stated there would be a 15-minute prologue that would further set up the story, as the one-shot original graphic novel from 1988 simply wasn’t long enough for an entire animated movie; so perhaps therein lies the explanation for the whole Batgirl scenario. It’s actually a fairly good sendoff for a very well-known Batman story, and love it or hate it, every single Batman fan out there will want to see it at least once.

Batman The Killing Joke was released digitally on July 26, 2016, and will enjoy a DVD and Blu-ray release on August 2, 2016!

https://youtu.be/DDj4zGFf4F8

SDCC 2016 ‘The 100’: The Earth Strikes Back!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Welcome back to what is arguably the most popular and controversial CW show, all at the same time! War with the Grounders and potentially the Ice Nation, internal strife with Pike, the AI Ally trying to take over what’s left of the world and the destruction of the City of Light, plus let’s not forget burgeoning gay romances and a whole lot of death; all make for a compelling show we just can’t seem to stop watching and commenting on!

The San Diego Comic-Con panel for The 100 featured Eliza Taylor (Clarke), Henry Ian Cusick (Kane), Lindsay Morgan (Raven), Marie Avgeropolous (Octavia), Chris Larkin (Monty), Richard Harmon (Murphy), and Executive Producer Jason Rothenburg.

The panel started off with a ton of applause for the stars and then went right in to the sizzle reel for the previous season, with a surprise twist at the end – the Earth literally strikes back in season four, with what appears to be floods and other major destruction. And that is the theme for the next season, the natural disasters to try and survive, while Clarke and others wonder, with all they’ve done to survive, do they now deserve to?

Eliza Taylor sports a charming Australian accent, and is always gracious to her fans, especially the ones who come to the mike to ask fan questions dressed as Clarke, or even Lexa. She stated softly that Finn’s death was the hardest scene she had to film thus far, and of course Lexa’s death too. She also charmingly stated that it was a good thing the filming crew were so good at their jobs, because for the climactic love scene between Clarke and Lexa, she and Alycia Debnam-Carey couldn’t help but keep giggling with each-other while in bed.

Marie Avgeropolous is right proud of the strength of her character Octavia, and promises her warrior has gone even darker this upcoming season, due to the loss of Lincoln and all. She doesn’t preen when fans compliment her on such a strong female character, saying rather, “Women have always been strong, and I’m so grateful to be on a show that values that – examples of empowerment should become the norm.”

Avgeropolous went on to laughingly tell a favorite story of a difficult, though amusing, time on set. During the scene in season three where Octavia is attempting to convince Lincoln to go get Luna, Avgeropolous was supposed to be cleaning the hoof of the horse her character was riding. And well, the horse was, how can we put it, “at attention,” we’ll say, so they had to keep changing camera angles because it looked like Avgeropolous had taken a sudden interest in beastiality. The horse trainer, who was nearby, eventually told her to flick the horsey intruder with a stick, gently, because that would make the “at-attention” go away. And the Comic-Con crowd had absolute hysterics!

Richard Harmon is forever an amused prankster, and took a few moments to himself to admire the large happy audience, before plunking down to deliver glib, grinning one-liners, like how, “Murphy is everyone’s favorite cockroach.” He gleefully displayed chipped, dark nail polish to the cheering crowd after being accused of enjoying makeup on set, drawling about he had originally auditioned for the role of Bellamy and how different that would have been.

Chris Larkin was much more lively than his character Monty on the show, trading off happy one-liners with Harmon, whom he sat next to on the panel. His scariest moment on the show thus far was learning to drive stick, as he grinned, “There’s nothing scarier than driving at night, in fog, with a huge camera mounted 2 feet away from your face on the rover, being driven by someone who’s only driven stick for an hour!”

Rothenburg dropped several surprises on the happy crowd, such as the fact that Roan and Indra are both indeed alive in the new season, and that Roan (Zack McGowan) will be joining the show as a cast regular. Rothenburg also promised that the very first episode of the new season addresses the power vacuum left in the Skycrew camp. He even stated that originally in the season three finale, Jasper was going to kill himself at the end, but that that ending, even though the crew did indeed film the whole thing, was too dark even for Rothenburg himself. And don’t think we’re not all grateful for it; The 100 is plenty lovingly dark already.

The 100 will flood its way back to us adoring fans in 2017!

SDCC 2016 ‘The Last Ship’: No Jello Shooters for You!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

So, when we last left our intrepid survivors, the Nathan James had finally got the cure to the Red Flu and was beginning to distribute it to the world. At the celebratory peace gathering, the effective savior of humanity, Dr. Scott, was murdered in cold blood, and reluctant President Michener was finally pulling the bootstraps of the sundered country back together. This new season, currently premiering on TNT, promises intrigue and more mayhem, delicate negotiations with other countries of the world, and betrayal at nearly every turn!

The Last Ship panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 featured Eric Dane (Captain Chandler), Adam Baldwin (Captain Slattery), newcomer Bridget Regan (Sasha Cooper) and executive producer Steven Kane.

Baldwin is a Comic-Con favorite, due in large part to his past Firefly experience, and he often drops the best one-liners of the panel. He is also well-known for his great respect for the military and deep honor he tries to impart, playing his character in such a show. The first half of season three of The Last Ship has been especially hard for Baldwin’s character, Slattery, feeling responsible for getting his sailors kidnapped and tortured as he does. Baldwin also sympathized with his castmates having to shoot the blood-torture scenes on an island in all kinds of weather. “These were very hard conditions,” he explained, “so there was a lot of gallows humor. But we have the best crew in the world, and they did a ton to keep our spirits up.” Baldwin also laughed about his character’s entrance to the club scene that got them all kidnapped in the first place, “I was like the grumpy dad – ‘I’m not gonna enjoy these jello shooters at all.’”

Newcomer to the show, Bridget Regan, who plays Navy translator Sasha Cooper, waxed poetic on the effort the entire show, from the actors to the showrunners, goes through to be as accurate to real-life military procedures as possible. “We have real Seals on the set, and you don’t want to let those guys down.” Regan took many compliments on her strong female character in stride, stating proudly that, “A woman’s gender has nothing to do with her job here,” and listing the many high-ranking positions and dangerous jobs various female co-stars have on the show.

Everyone’s favorite, hard-nosed, incredibly foxy, silver-haired Eric Dane grinned and agreed with Regan, going on to brag that the current Secretary of the Navy himself has told the show folk, “You’re getting it right.” Dane also mentioned that his favorite episode of season three thus far was the Minefield episode, which was directed by Robocop himself, Peter Weller, and how Dane is a huge fan of the movie-star-turned-director.

Executive Producer Steven Kane talked about premiering new episodes of The Last Ship to Navy personnel every year as a private treat, and how, this year, there was a huge surprise at the end. The call for attention to award was sent out and Kane himself was given the highest commendation a civilian can receive, the Distinguished Public Service honor, complete with a medal and everything, for his work on the highly popular show The Last Ship.

The panel ended on a high note, with a trailer for the back half of season three, which promised the return of favored character Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson), to heartfelt cheers from the audience!

The Last Ship can be found in the waters of TNT on Sundays @9:00 p.m./10:00 p.m. Central!

CosLosseum 2016: Enter the Cosplay Arena

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror) 

Welcome to San Diego’s very first CosLosseum event, where we honor every last cosplayer, from the obscure obsessions of the anime folk to the well-known lightsaber and sonic screwdriver crowds, and everything in between!

So, the first official event of the day was “The Video Games,” put on by the good peoples of MB Stage. A parody of The Hunger Games, in which all the tributes are characters from some of your favorite video games, all battling it out live for the coveted title of Player One! The audience is said to alter the outcome of the battle, by live and Twitter voting, which changes the game storyline throughout the performance.

Tyrant Queen Zelda commanded the Games to begin and put Mario (yes that Mario) and Jigglypuff in charge, and it turns out a Renegade version of Commander Shepard is the video game designer. Then we got treated to the likes of Scorpion (Mortal Kombat), MasterChief (HALO), Princess Peach (Super Mario Bros.), Paragon Commander Shepard (Mass Effect), Donkey Kong, Pikachu (Pokemon), Link (Zelda), Lady Yuna (Final Fantasy), Samu Aran (Metroid), and even Lara Croft running around trying to kill each other!

This was a live action performance, full of props and audience participation and carefully scripted fight scenes that were truly a joy to watch. All the players tried, within their various character modes, to up the audience participation, and threw their hearts mightily into those roles. You can just tell, the performers at MB Stage Productions really do care about their stagecraft. Every character got at least a few minutes of personal stage time and some fight scenes, most of which were screamingly funny and completely character-appropriate.

The front entrance hall to the ballroom where the con was held was lined with vendors and there was a whole other section of ballroom for yet more vendors. One wall had celebrity tables, where you could walk right up and talk with the likes of Rashaad Santiago and Anthony Reyes, or Sandi Sellner, Moses Moseley and others. The merchant booths themselves were great little corners of all manner of fandom – Wired Redhead Jewelry sold fantasy wire pointy-eared jewelry; the Elder Gods and their alcohol on t-shirts made an appearance with Wyngd Lyon Creations; Leelo Jewelry had flasks and coasters and earrings, oh my; a mad scientist sold geek-favorite pocket watches at insane prices. There were all sorts of Steampunk accessories available at several booths, original art prints and kawaii things and even comic books, and all that barely scratches the surface. No matter how fandom-specific a booth and its merchandise might have been, I saw plenty of money changing hands and smiles all around. Because nothing says ultimate fandom like a flask emblazoned with, ‘THE DARK SIDE MADE ME DO IT”!

Also in the front hall was an entire table set up for emergency cosplay repairs, put on by the brilliant folks at International Cosplay Corps, as they now do at many cons. There were actual freaking sewing machines set up on that table, along with helpful mobile Sergeants who carried cosplay repair kits upon their persons like the best support troops to us wacky cosplayers ever. Far from running repairs with nothing but duct tape and a prayer, these ICC Sergeants and their troopers are a walking blessing at any con that has cosplayers.

The Research for Lupus Fundraiser event was quite small but heartfelt. Dan Posey, leader of this intrepid new con in his Punisher pride costume and chains, gamely took the mic and introduced Hollaine Hopkins of the Lupus Foundation, and former Power Ranger Sandi Sellner, also a Lupus sufferer. The ladies spoke of how Lupus is becoming far too common these days, newer treatment options becoming available with research, and the ever-present need for more research to find a cure. Audience members were encouraged to speak out of their own issues with Lupus, and then the auction, benefitting Lupus research, was held. And Dan Posey proudly announced that, despite it being a small con and on the first day, they had taken in, from ticket sales alone, just slightly over $1,000 to forward towards Lupus Research for a Cure. If you want to donate to research for a cure for Lupus, go here.

A bit more wandering, money-spending and picture-taking later, it’s time for the inevitable Cosplay Costume Contest! With only a dozen or so actual entrants and six categories of prizes to win, the contest was an interesting little do-si-do of coordination. Cosplay entries included characters from The Evil Within, League of Legends, The Strain tv show, Ragnarok Online 2, Final Fantasy, and the anime Black Butler. Winners were as follows –

Group Cosplay – Black Butler trio (Sebastian, Ciel Phantomhive, Undertaker)

Best Makeup – Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Best Craftsmanship – The Evil Within

Best Performance – Master Vampire (The Strain)

Best in Show – Ragnarok Online 2

Con Favorite – Tenjo (Final Fantasy)

And that was the end of my very first CosLosseum experience. Yes, the venue was small and without the crushing crowds of the likes of Comic-Con – given some of the costumes people were sporting, trying to do SDCC in them seems like a good way to inadvertently commit homicide. The atmosphere was open and loving and genuinely heartfelt, and I bet you my favorite TARDIS dress that not only will CosLosseum be back next year, it will be bigger, more together, and always full of that adorkable Cosplay insanity fandom!

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Cos-Losseum 2016: The Art of Cosplay and Fandom

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Oh praise the costuming gods, herald the arrival of Prince PVC and Dame Duct Tape, pay worshipful homage to your favorite fandom in the best way possible – by dressing up as them!

Who doesn’t love Cosplay? As Geekdom takes over our entire universe in all its tatty, unselfconscious glory, we as adults get to live our dreams that many of us enjoyed as small children – dressing up as our favorite heroes, villains, and whatever other characters we loved under the moon! Cos-Losseum 2016 brings the best and brightest together for a weekend of Cosplaying your little heart out!

How can you get in on this Cosplay extravaganza? Well first, you buy tickets here. Cos-Losseum is on Saturday and Sunday, January 23 and 24, 2016, at the Crowne Plaza San Diego, located here. Navigating the hotel and surrounding area can get tricky and so can finding nearby parking, so it’s suggested you arrive early or scope the place out before the weekend.

Saturday events are as follows: The Video Game, where the audience decides the winner; Cinematic Storytelling in Star Wars Art with special guest Scott Harben; the Passion of Cosplay panel; the official Research for Lupus Fundraiser event; of course the official Cosplay Contest hosted by Loki Hates You and ThorTV; then comes breakdown and setup of the after-party, for adults only, with live performances by Lolita Dark and DJ Galactic Ray.

Sundays events include a Diversity in Pop Culture panel with guests Chris Riley and J.V. Green; Creature Creations with Face-Off guests Rashaad Santiago and Anthony Reyes; the I Have Such a Headache!!! panel with Power Ranger guests Barbara Goodson, Kerrigan Mahan, and Sandi Sellner; Galactic Steampunk with guests Star Wars Steampunk Universe; and finally The World Needs More Hashtags hosted by That Hashtag Show.

Bring your fundage because we all know Cosplaying can get expensive and yes there will be a whole bunch of vendors at Cos-Losseum. Dreadfully Punk will be doing a Live Podcast the whole time, and there will be a live performance from the awesome band The Flux Capacitors! The International Cosplay Corps will be offering free mobile Cosplay repair, as they often do at various conventions, which is forever awesome of them.

mobile cosplay repair CL

Prizes and funding come from the likes of Villanous Lair Comics and Gaming of San Diego, The Cosplay Initiative LLC, the anime powerhouse channel Funimation, Geeks of the Galaxy podcast, and Dreadfully Punk Dreadwaves. Special guests include the likes of Sandi Sellner, Rashaad Santiago, Russ Adams, Logan Long, Anthony Reyes, Michael Copon, Richard Harmon, Moses Moseley, Stephen J. Semones, Ellie Collins, and more!

Seriously, whether you’re a weekend warrior, “I only do this for fun” kind of cosplayer, or someone who shells out wads of time and money to make a realistic and lifelike lightsaber to go with your Darth Maul tribute, everyone should come to this Con. Of course, cosplay is encouraged but not required, and always adhere to the posted rules of cosplay, referring to such things as replica weapons, peace ties and wingspans. We here at the Super Villain Network hope to see you, in happy cosplay or not, at Cos-Losseum 2016!

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