Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mighties Kiwis Are Fucking Terrifying

The same people who brought you Cuties oranges thought they had created they next adorable fruit mascot. What they created instead was the ultimate experience in supermarket horror.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@Jimbo___X

You may ask yourself what inspires a man to write an entire article about the mascot for a plastic tub of kiwis. The answer - as often the case in life - starts off innocuously, then transmogrifies into bone-chilling terror.

It was a rather routine weekday afternoon. I was just ambling aimlessly down the aisles at Kroger, trying to determine who I wanted to fuck more: Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper or Jedediah Bila from The View. With no apparent solution in sight, I mindlessly waltzed out of the off-brand soda aisle and into the fresh produce section.

And it was there I stumbled upon it ... one of the most horrifying discoveries of my adult life.

Now, odds are, you don't think about kiwis that much - if it all, for that matter. In fact, I'm guessing 98 percent of the people reading this have never eaten one in their lives. No matter how hard Big Agriculture tries to convince us otherwise, they're always destined to be a "C-fruit," like kumquats or a starfruit. Their appeal will be niche at best, and any efforts to take the things "mainstream" are destined to falter.

But that didn't stop Sun Pacific from making a - well, woefully misguided - attempt to do precisely that. If you've never heard of the company before, they're a Pasadena-based fruit producer/distributor that handles all the usual stuff - grapes, lemons, tomatoes (and yes, tomatoes are fruits because they have seeds in 'em, you unlearned motherfuckers.) Their big seller is a brand of Clementine oranges called Cuties, which has a double-fisted marketing hook; the products themselves are super-duper easy to open (apparently, getting through traditional orange rinds was a bigger consumer deterrent than I would have assumed) and, of course, their brand image is downright adorable. You've got this super cherubic anthropomorphic orange zipping itself out of its rind - it's simple, it's clean, it's cute and it does a great job highlighting the product's primary branding hook (you know, that they're easy to open and shit.) It looks very smooth on stickers and as four-foot tall cutout displays and is so easy on the eyes you really could imagine it doubling as a Florida minor league baseball team logo. In short, it's a marvelous way to market a product that, quite frankly, has otherwise limited appeal to the fat-ass utopia that is modern America.

So Sun Pacific decided to go the same route with its brand of kiwis. You know how they call their oranges Cuties? Well, they decided to call their kiwis Mighties, with the sub-marketing moniker "the amazing furry fruit."

Alright, everything sounds pretty good in theory, right? Well, all that shit goes out the window when you see what the official Mightis Kiwis mascot looks like ...


Holy goddamn shit, is that thing spooky or what? It's like something out of Five Nights at Freddy's, or the cartoon sequence in Twilight Zone: The Movie - a highly unsettling mixture of the absurdly adorable and the absurdly threatening. An anthropomorphic orange doesn't really look like anything other than an orange with eyeballs and a smile, but this anthropomorphic kiwi looks like some sort of long extinct megafauna. 

Three things immediately jump out at me here. First, the furry texture on the mascot makes it look WAY too much like its a living creature. It looks less like a fruit than it does a really, really spherical bear or beaver, and that just feels all kind of icky. Secondly, who in the hell thought it was a good idea to replace the cartoon character's teeth with a slice of exposed kiwi meat? Depending on which angle you choose, it either looks like the mascot has an emerald-colored whale baleen plate - perfect for devouring krill and other creatures without even having to bother chewing them - or it looks like the monster has extreme gingivitis, lost all its teeth and now has to make do with its gross, mushy green gums. And I don't know about you, but the idea of being gummed to death by a monster seems even more ghoulish than being torn asunder by razor sharp incisors. And then there's that spoon. Look carefully, folks - the mascot is standing atop a pile of freshly scooped kiwis. Since he's holding a feasible murder instrument in his/her/its hand, what kind of conclusion would you naturally leap to? Hell, maybe it's even weirder and the cartoon character used the spoon to scoop its own face off, like that one dude did in Hannibal. Regardless, you really can't draw anything but bad vibes from the packaging, but I assure you, that's just the beginning of the horror. 


I suppose we might as well try to give the Mighties kiwis a fair trial in the grocery store court of law. IF you can overlook the unbridled horror of the wide-eyed, mush-mouthed monster mascot, I guess you could consider the fruits themselves pretty enjoyable. We'll get to the taste of the things in just a bit, but first, how about we let the producers of Mighties give us their best elevator pitch as to why we should all shove these hairy green testicle looking motherfuckers down our respective gullets? 


Well, the marketing language is pretty straightforward. Per whoever signed off the packaging lingo, these here kiwis have more potassium than bananas, more vitamin C than oranges (jeez, way to cannibalize your market share, dinguses!) more vitamin E and K than avocados (I guess that explains the aesthetic resemblance) and more fiber than, and I quote, "the leading cereal brand," which the eye test would lead you to assume is Corn Flakes. Granted, that's a 1:1 serving-to-serving comparison, which is a little misleading, since these guys consider two kiwis a full serving and most cereal brands consider three spoonfuls of their stuff a full serving, but you know what? Nobody reads this site for my musings on the inconsistencies of nutritional labeling data, so onward we go with the obscure references and curse words.


Apparently, "kiwi" is one of those weird words that represents both its own singular and plural form. But I'm going to keep calling them kiwis, because I can, gahdammit. Interestingly, I noticed the brand has really gone above and beyond to abstain from referring to their product as basic-ass kiwis, which I guess is a pretty decent advertising ploy. No, we don't sell kiwis, any old motherfucker can do that, we sell MIGHTIES, you no-count son-of-a-bitch, it's a fuckin' SUPER FRUIT and if you don't like it to hell with 'ya. Which, uh, I guess would be a pretty ineffective marketing campaign literally, but INDIRECTLY, we know that's PRECISELY what this hyper-confrontational packaging WANTS to tell us. Anyhoo, the nutritional info speaks for itself, I guess: each kiwi is only about 45 calories, which makes it a great snack for dieters, anorexics, and dieters who don't know they're anorexics. Also, just one of these fuckers has 115 percent of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin C, which makes me wonder if its possible to O.D. on it. Which, according to the Mayo Clinic, actually IS possible, only instead of killing you by shutting down your liver functions, it just makes you shit a lot. Well, nobody loses there, I reckon.


And now, we come to the fruits themselves. They say sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and I reckon this one says at least 1,001. There's really no genteel way to put it; the things look just like giant beaver testicles. They're brown, they're furry and at first glance, I would assume these things to be about a million and a half different things before "an edible fruit with a lot of vitamins and shit in it." If you saw these things in bunches just growing out in the wild, I'm guessing most folks would think they were sleeping hedgehogs or something. Regardless, these things are pretty much the LEAST edible looking things ever, and to say that slightly works against the product is kinda' like saying 9/11 was bad publicity for the Muslim folks. 


But hey, at least they DID manage to slap a couple of collectible, tradable stickers on them! In addition to the soccer playing beaver testicle on the left and the cannibalistic gingivitis monster on the right eating his own skin for breakfast, I found a couple of other ones in my two pound plastic tub of kiwis. There's a baseball themed one, and another of an anthro-kiwi holding a green flag in one hand and what appears to be a pickax in the other. Yeah, your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell that one's supposed to be about


Surprisingly, just slapping a mini-sticker on the things does very little to negate the intrinsically unappealing aesthetic qualities of the kiwis. I mean, even with a happy cartoon character's beaming face on it, that really doesn't do anything to make it look any less like a hairy brown monkey testicle. Yeah, I get the basic idea that the fruit itself is kinda' like a miniature coconut crossbred with a lime, but nobody's ever mistaken a coconut or a lime for a balled up sleeping otter or the severed sex organs of miscellaneous mammals. Jeez, what I wouldn't have given to have been in the boardroom meeting when these guys discussed ways to work around the fact the products they've been paid to advertise look like orangutan testes... 


I swear, the more you stare at the thing, the more horrifying it gets. Just look at the formless, faceless abyss. You know, you really don't have to have too much of an imagination to envision these things as the little tumbleweed space rats from the Critters movies, or maybe even one of those intergalactic space eggs from Alien that has the vagina-faced scorpion mouth-rapist in 'em. And let's don't pretend that wide-eyed, wide-mouthed cartoon monster in the background doesn't make the whole thing a million times more terrifying, because it totally fuckin' does


But the thing that unnerves me most about Mighties, I suppose, is what they look like on the inside. For starters, kiwis take a lot of fucking effort to eat. You can't just bite into 'em like an apple or rip 'em open like a Cutie. You need at least two eating utensils, plus a space that's safe to drip all of that fruit juice everywhere. So basically, you're supposed to cut the things in half, then you scoop 'em out and eat them with a spoon. Sure, all this sounds nice and dandy in theory, but in practice? Hoo boy, the process is a LOT more demanding than any of us prolly expected...


I hope you can see all that glistening fruit jizz, because these kiwis are just soaking in it. Seriously, as soon as you halve the things, a good three or four ounces of extremely acidic juice starts dripping out of it, just like the blood of them insect monsters in Aliens. Even better, the goop is a bright green hue, pretty much the same color as the Ah-nold chasing monster's in Predator. Additionally, I can't be the only person just mildly concerned that there's so many fucking seeds in this thing, am I? Most oranges have what, one or two? Well, this one has about two to three dozen per kiwi, and of course they all look like sentient black parasites just champing at the bit to take up residence in your lower intestines like in The Thing. Go ahead, take a good, long look and just TELL me you can't envision some sort of flesh-eating alien chimera living inside one of these things. Because you can't, and we all know it.


Shit, just take a look at the remnants of this discarded kiwi rind. As soon as you spoon out all of the fruit, all you're left with is a hairy outer shell with a super waxy interior that looks just like a gigantic booger cocoon. I've got a pretty strong stomach, but the more I look at that thing the sicker I get. It just looks so unnatural and artificial, like some sort of lab-made womb for half-vegetable people; sorry, but there's no way I can be anything OTHER than suspicious when chowing down on something that voluntarily chooses to live in something that looks like that. Sheesh

Now, as an objective food reviewer, I did think the Mighties tasted pretty good. They're not too tart and they're not really sugary, so basically, it's what happens when you cross-pollinate a lemon with an avocado. It's mushy but not too bland and spicy without being too acidic, which is a real boon to people like me with penchants for really, really flavorless things. So, yes, as a routine munchie or quick snack, these things are quite decent. But as aesthetic commercial goods, though? Folks, you may never agree to put anything in your mouth as terrifying as these motherfuckers ever again ... 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Double Review: 'Aftermath' / 'The Hatton Garden Job' 2017 Movie Reviews

Are you ready for a two-fisted double shot of two of 2017's manliest fuckin' movies? Well, you better be, because these two movies exude so much testosterone, women will be walking out of the theater with full mountain man beards.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@Jimbo___X

You know, there's this great verse in the Book of James where Jesus' brother (boy, talk about a hard act to follow!) says something along the lines of "a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." Over the years people have sorta' distorted that to mean that no man can serve two masters, but I think the original King James prose is much more interesting - and relevant - considering the state of affairs in the U.S. these days.

Now, it's not secret that I ain't exactly too fond of liberals. This is pretty funny, seeing as how most of my life, I was a dyed-in-the-wool blue "free abortions for all illegal immigrant gays who need universal healthcare" democrat. I suppose I still have some classical liberal leanings - I'm mostly in favor of gun controlI think big businesses are mostly evil devil worshiping conglomerates and pretty much everything libertarians believe, I reject out of pure principle - but as I've gotten older, the more and more I realize that the great big liberal Tao is just one enormous golly-whopper of a contradiction.

That's not to say that Republicans and anarcho-capitalists and whatever flavors of conservatism that are in between AREN'T free of hypocrisy and logical shortcomings. They are. But in most cases, that stuff is circumstantial, and usually, there's some sort of "you've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette" reasoning that can justify the cognitive dissonance. Liberals - the transgender-lovin', white people-hatin', free healthcare, education and rent-wantin' identity politicians they are - however, subscribe to a much greater logical fallacy. In fact, the entire contemporary liberal progressivist ideology is a humongous, waddling, reason-resistant contradiction of terms. There's no way that the modern liberal ideology can work, because it absolutely defeats itself at every pillar and plank of the platform.

Think I'm yankin' yer chain? Just take a look at these six nailed-down tenets of contemporary liberal ideology and try and tell me all these dimmicrats ain't full of grade-A bull hockey...

Contradiction One:
America is a capitalist, corporatist nightmare...

Well, this one might as well be the First Commandment of modern liberalism. Did you know that the top 1 percent of income earners in America possess 99 percent of the nation's wealth? Well, that would be a damning indictment of capitalism, if only it were true. In reality - you know, that thing Democrats spend most of their free time avoiding -  the top 1 percent of income earners in the U.S. actually posses just 20 percent of the nation's wealth, and at the same time pay a whopping 46 percent of all federal taxes. One look at the actual mathematical data shows the exact opposite of what the Democrats claim; the top 1 percent actually PAY more into taxes than the bottom 90 percent of incomers in the country combined. Now, seeing as how almost 70 percent of the $3.9 trillion federal budget goes towards Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and welfare - you know, all those programs liberals just LOOOVE - you would think Democrats would be besotted by all those huge assed corporations, since without their massive income streams, there's no way in mathematical hell they could finance their humongous, bloated entitlement programs (especially since nearly half of Americans pay NO federal income tax whatsoever.) But no, democrats continue to criticize, condemn and actively lobby to destroy multi-billion dollar companies out of some petty, make-believe Marxist class struggle nonsense, completely oblivious to the fact that without those same turbines of commerce, absolutely NONE of their most beloved liberal policies and programs could exist. Hell, they don't even comprehend the basic tenets of their own anti-corporate ethos half the time: after all, weren't these the same kids that protested big business during Occupy Wall Street by having a candlelight vigil for a man who commandeered a one trillion dollar a year company

Contradiction Two:
Americans are, by and large, victims of the system...

Well, this one is just plain stupid. If the system seeks to victimize its own people, how come the feds spend more than $2 trillion EACH AND EVERY YEAR subsidizing its citizens? The mere fact that 40 percent of the federal budget goes EXCLUSIVELY towards medical and welfare services for people over the age of 62 demonstrates Americans are unquestionably beneficiaries of one of the most generous social entitlement states in the history of humanity. And say, where does the U.S. rank in terms of economic opportunity, democratic freedom and quality of life again? Hey, what do you know, our oppressive capitalist dictatorship somehow managed to outscore China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and all those other socialist regimes out there. Who'd thunk it?

Contradiction Three:
The system just plain doesn't work for average Americans...

Oh, you mean our representative democracy? You know, that thing you vote in every two years? If the system "doesn't work," if anything, it's your fault for voting in shitty politicians who don't know what they're doing. Those assholes in Washington don't elect themselves, and if you don't like how things are going, get this - you can vote them out of office. Hell, you can even rally to amend the Constitution to change how people are elected or even who can run for public office, if you actually got up off your fat ass and did something other than complain on the Internet all day. Perhaps the bigger question is if you've been voting for Democrats your whole life and you still think the system is still all shades of fucked, how come you're still voting for Democrats? Which, naturally, brings us to this little sticking point...

Contradiction Four:
Only the Democratic ideals can get Americans out of poverty...

This is a nice thought, until you look at real entitlement spending statistics. If welfare programs like food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit were meant to be one-shot cure-alls for poverty, then how come the programs still exist decades down the road? Democrats said the food stamp program would once and for all stamp out poverty way back in the seventies, but holy shit, today one in six Americans is on SNAP. Furthermore, EITC and other income-based government assistance program spending has monumentally increased  year over year. The logic here is inescapable; all of these beloved Democrat entitlement programs aren't doing a goddamn, motherfucking thing to stop poverty in America, and in all sincerity, are actually making it worse. Instead of eliminating poverty by making people economically independent and self-sustaining, Democrats have more or less invented a permanent welfare state in which millions of poor people (many of them locked in what are tantamount to inner city war zones or literally toxic, rural no-man's-lands out in the sticks) have no choice but to subsist on whatever meager payouts the feds give them because there ARE no jobs or opportunities to earn substantial money legally anymore. Why? Because those same Democrats rallied like motherfuckers to bring domestic job destroyers like NAFTA to fruition, and they're continuing to dilute the job market by prioritizing foreign and illegal immigrant workers over the native born. We've had huge, overarching, social entitlement programs rooted in Democratic policies for more than 50 years, yet somehow, poverty has increased substantially across the board, ESPECIALLY in regions where democratic elected officials practically run unopposed at the ballot. The evidence here, really, is indisputable; not only has half a century of "democratic ideals" done NOTHING to alleviate poverty in America, it's actually made wealth inequality even worse - especially (and ironically) for poor Democrat voters themselves!

Contradiction Five:
Poverty is destroying America...

Alright, so about 15 percent of Americans - that's 45 million people - live below the Federal Poverty Line. That's a lot of people, no doubt, but it's still a smaller percentage of impoverished people than those living in poverty in other economic titan nations like Germany and Japan (and it's certainly a better lot in life than those in Mexico, where almost half the country lives in poverty.) No one is going to say America's poverty problem isn't concerning, but then again, when there are countries out there like India were literally 400 million people are poor, comparatively, we're STILL living high on the hog. The thing liberals NEVER want to address is that even if you're poor as fuckin' fuck in the U.S., you're STILL doing better than 95 percent of everybody else on the planet. Even if you are flat out broke in the States, you've still got a smart phone, air conditioning, clean drinking water, indoor plumbing and essentially free health care (remember, hospitals are forbidden by federal law from turning away people, and if they can't pay, the medical facilities usually just write it off as tax deductible charity care.) Say what you will about unemployment rates and low wage pay, even the poorest of Americans are living among the most comfortable lives of any people on the planet; rest assured, a good 5.6 billion people would GLADLY jump at the chance to live in what liberals constantly describe as our nation's "unlivable" lower-class conditions. 

Contradiction Six:
Our Democratic ideals ARE working...

Then why in the bluest of fucks are liberals hell bent on replacing American policies and programs with gigantic federal collectivist programs that have done nothing but fail and falter everywhere they've been attempted? Why are liberals so hellbent on exporting the disastrous social democratic practices of Europe and Latin America to the U.S.? Doesn't one look at the multitudes of troubles in Sweden and Germany let you know that maybe - just maybe - a laissez-faire approach to open border governance might not be the wisest decision? Considering the unmitigated disaster that was the European Union, why do Democrats think abandoning American economic independence in favor of an even larger global common market is an any way, shape or form a smart decision? Haven't all of those European nanny states - with their shitty socialized health care programs - all deteriorated into insolvency and free expression squelching lite-totalitarian systems? Sweet Jesus in a burning brick canoe, doesn't the fate of Venezuela let you know that the great liberal socialist utopia is just one big lie that can never, ever work in practicePractically EVERYWHERE communism has been implemented, the end dividend has been crushing dictatorial regimes. New wave liberalism seeks to depower the individual and give the state more authority, which in and of itself, is the exact opposite of classical democracy. Rather than empowering the people, the democratic agenda is - and has been for decades - to accumulate as much power for itself to erect its unmanagable, open-borders and open-trade social-democracy welfare state utopia: a system that even half baked commies like Bernie Sanders know can't work, which in turn, would give the federal government an oh-so convenient excuse to assert its strength on the private market and our individual lives even more.

That's the unavoidable paradox of being a liberal in this day and age. You want freedom and equality and think the government can give you both, when - as history has proven time and time again - the inevitable outcome is the state depriving you of both liberty and egalitarianism. That's what happens when you vouch for inclusivity over autonomy and promote emotional ideals over pragmatic socioeconomic realities - not only are you destined to lose self-government, that very government might just look to deprive you of self altogether.

Even as a 70-year-old, old Ah-nold still conveys a sense of unbridled machismo that limp-dicks like The Rock or Channing Tatum couldn't dream of in a million years.

Anyhoo, speaking of things that'll blow your brain outta' the back of your skull, we actually have a damned great double feature lined up this week, with two of the best - and manliest - movies I guarantee you'll see all year long on the docket. Up first, it's Aftermath, a flick starring AH-NOLD as a construction worker who can't wait to see his family flying in for the holidays from Germany or Romania or wherever the hell they're from, but whoops! The guy at the air traffic control desk was too busy pouring himself another pot of coffee to realize two 747s were hurdling headlong into each other over New York state, and well ... let's just say AH-NOLD's wife, mama and pregnant daughter ain't going to be watching Jingle All The Way with him this Christmas

So Ah-nold - who, despite being in Hollywood for 50 years and being the governor of its most populous state, STILL can't speak convincing English - walks back to the parking lot in slow-mo and he just sits there in his car stewin' all night like a Christmas sweater-wearin' Terminator. Then the flick goes all Rashomon on us, letting us see what happened the day of the crash through the air traffic controller guy's eyes. He's this scrawny beanpole looking dude with a face kinda' like Rand Paul's whose eyes literally sink into his skull when the news hits that he's pretty much responsible for the deaths of 271 people. So Ah-nold spends all of New Year's weekend drinking whiskey and Pepto-Bismol and he decides to sneak into the crash site wearing a Hazmat suit and he looks at all the charbroiled headphones and sippy cups scattered all over the forest and then finds his daughter's corpse impaled on a tree limb. Then he just lies between his dead family's body bags and cries the manliest tears anyone has ever wept.

Meanwhile, that air traffic controller guy has had his life royally fucked up by the crash, too. People have spray-painted the word "killer" all over his house and he's so out of it he eats runny eggs for breakfast every morning and tells his therapist that if he don't order him some more dope, he's going next door and robbing the pharmacist. Then Ah-nold falls asleep on his daughter's grave, and - uh-oh - some nosy female reporter shows up and lets him know the identity of the air traffic control guy.

So the air traffic control guy buys a gun and ponders blowing his brains out during a Felix the Cat cartoon, but then he gets the wise idea of legally changing his identity and starting all over again two towns over. Meanwhile, Ah-nold sues the plane company and they offer him $160,000 in damages and all he does is just shove a picture of his dead wife in front of their faces and scream "I want someone to say they're sorry for killing my family," and goddamnit, you believe him

From there, Ah-nold goes full A Beautiful Mind, posting every nook and cranny of his basement with photos of his deceased family and news articles about the crash. At one point, he even mulls jumping to his death, but visions of disintegrating airplane wings, for whatever reason, prevent him from taking his own life.

So flash forward one year later. Ah-nold is at the newly opened victims' memorial (basically, they just put a bunch of white Target balls all over the woods, which was apparently based on his daughter's pearl necklace) while the former air traffic control guy has changed his name to Pat and works as a travel agent. Interestingly enough, Ah-nold has a new job working as a handyman for a dude who looks just like the old pro 'rassler Big Van Vader, and the first thing we see him do is literally mend fences, because symbolism, that's why

But just when it looks like all has been forgiven, here comes that snoopy reporter again, who now has info on the air traffic controller's physical address. At that point, Ah-nold promptly excuses himself from the dinner table, hops in his SUV, purchases a hotel room right across the street from the air traffic controller's new apartment - whose wife and son are visiting him for the first time since the accident - and ... well, you know shit is going to get real, and in a real damn hurry.

We've got 272 dead bodies. No breasts. No car chases. One head-on double airplane collision. Knife to the jugular. Multiple nervous breakdowns. PTSD fu. Dry heaving fu. And the thing that makes the whole movie possible - forgiveness fu

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Roman, the construction worker whose life is turned upside down after his family gets blown to smithereens and spends the rest of the movie plotting his revenge; Scott McNairy as the bug-eyed air traffic controller Jacob, who represents the most diametrically opposite version of the male form you could ever possibly contrast against big, bad Ah-nold; Maggie Grace as the wife of the disgraced air traffic controller, who really doesn't do anything in the movie at all; and Glenn Morshower as Roman's next door neighbor, whose idea of helping a grieving man who just lost his entire family to a tragic aviation accident is to bring him two beers instead of just one. 

Directed by Elliot Lester, whose probably best known for helming the made-for-HBO movie Nightingale from 2015, and written by Javier Gullon, who based the script on the real life story of Vitaly Kaloyev, who only spent two years in jail for knifing the air traffic controller responsible for the 2002 Bashikirian Airlines Flight 2937 disaster and was treated as a a public hero in the wake of his release.

This is quite possibly the first legitimately great movie of 2017, folks. It's an old school revenge drama, through and though, devoid of all of the forced muliculturalism and needless estrogen that usually fucks up films of the like nowadays. This is the kind of movie that would've made Sam Peckinpah and Sam Fuller proud; somewhere in heaven, you just know Lee Marvin and George C. Scott are watching this one on a loop and ain't neither one of 'em haven gotten tired of it yet. 

I give it three and a half stars out of four. Jimbo says definitely check this one out, if the opportunity is afforded to you.

Just give me four crotchety veteran British character actors and a whole bunch of dialogue about committing crimes and I am sold

I don't know if the second bill of our double feature is as good as Aftermath, but it is mighty close. And it's prolly the best heist flick to come out in years - no doubt about it, The Hatton Garden Job wallops the shit out of any of them overhyped Ocean's Whatever movies and it ain't anywhere next to being close. 

Now I know what you're thinking. With a name like The Hatton Garden Job - not to mention it's an all-Brit production - you'd think it'd be some kind of pantywaist melodrama or one of them dry English comedies where you can't understand 95 percent of the dialogue because everybody in the cast sounds like they're gargling on crumpets or something. Thankfully, this flick is all-man and sort of a mini-masterpiece of crime saga minimalism. The folks who made this one prolly only had one week to film everything and about 200 Euros to get the whole thing wrapped up, but by Job, they just plain managed to do it.

Based on a true story (sorta), the flick starts off with this young up and coming criminal who doesn't even have a name going to the slammer and meeting up with this one Hungarian dude who looks The Thing from Fantastic Four and as soon as he's out of the clink he's hooking up with the GMILF-iest GMILF of all-time to coordinate a robbery of a bunch of safety deposit boxes in London's ritziest jewelry store district. The only thing is, he don't trust all of those millennial wannabe gangsters to get the job done, so he meets up with this dude in a windbreaker to assemble a crack team of career heisters - who, as fate would have it, all happen to be north of 60 and about one slipped disc away from buying the farm altogether. So naturally, they bicker and banter in an abandoned warehouse for a while going over the plans, but it's only a matter of time until the posse is intimidating 19-year-old kids in pubs, buying second-hand power tools from Arabs and dressing up like fake garbage men as a lead-in to the outstanding jewelry tomfoolery. 

Since all "heist" movies dating back to The Brinks Jobs more or less have the same plot, you do get all of the expected tropes and cliches here. We've got the gang walking down the street in slow-mo for no real reason and sudden "freeze frame" shots with Goodfellas voiceovers and a whole bunch of intrigue about whether or not anybody in the robbery or paying for the robbery is actually in cahoots with the bobbies. At times, the thing sorta plays it like a REALLY low budget version of American Hustle, and the people who made the flick certainly play that to their strengths. This isn't about building up to a suspenseful, action-packed robbery scene (indeed, the job takes place over Easter weekend, when the streets of London are practically vacant), it's about developing a strong cast of personalities en route to the big heist-a-roo. 

Of course, the real drama in any heist movie worth a hoot is in telling the after the fact part of the story. The big suspense of the subgenre isn't built around whether the heist will be successful or not, but just how long the culprits can steer clear of Johnny Law AFTER said heist. And I ain't going to spoil shit for you, kids - let's just say this one'll keep you glued to the screen literally start to finish. 

We've got no dead bodies. No breasts. No car chases. No kung fu. One joke that takes three minutes of screen-time to get to the punchline. Gratuitous British slang (so expect plenty of "tits" and "sods" in this 'un.) Gratuitous construction helmet size measuring. Gratuitous Johnny Thunder (no, not the plural one.) Security camera spray-painting. Chav informant fu. Insulin injection fu. Sledgehammer fu. Giant pneumatic drill fu. Malfunctioning compressor fu. And - of course, the anchor of any great heist movie - vault cleaning jamboree fu

Starring Matthew Goode as the nameless central character who drops such pearls of V.O. wisdom as "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" and spends half the heist worrying about whether or not he tripped a silent alarm; Joely Richardson as the Hungarian mob queen whose Polident-flavored tongue you definitely wouldn't mind having in your mouth; Clive Russell as the getaway driver with chronic emphysema who initially thinks they're risking six years in jails for a $100 heist instead of a $100 million one; David Calder as the massive candy bar addict who says "this is going to be the biggest bingo blag in history!" and serves as the ragtag group's "muscle" even though pure fat makes up 98 percent of his body; and Larry Lamb as the guy who tells the group "we don't want to find ourselves with nothing but our limp dicks in our hands" and conveniently keels over dead halfway through the big job. 

Written and directed by some bloke named Ronnie Thompson, who was somehow able to not only make a movie about a bunch of senior citizens spending three hours trying to drill a hole in a wall entertaining, but one of the best light-hearted crime capers to come along in years.

I give it three and a half stars out of four - Casino, it ain't, but it's definitely entertaining as hell and, perhaps most importantly, never overstays its welcome nor tries to be anything more than it has to be. An increasingly effeminate Hollywood could learn a thing or two from this one - take note,  stewards of the Avengers and Justice League franchises, THIS is how you do an "ensemble" getting the gang together" flick right.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Great 'Operation: Aliens' Mystery ... Solved?

The Internet Is In America gets to the bottom of the proposed Aliens cartoon from the early 1990s - complete with EXCLUSIVE comments from the TV exec who tried to get the show greenlit!


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@Jimbo___X

Remember around 1992, when Kenner's badass Aliens action figures hit store shelves? If you actually grew up in the era, odds are you vividly recall them because they were totally unlike anything else available in toy stores. I mean, how surreal it was to walk down the aisles of Toys R Us, just gawping at the rows and rows of cartoony Ninja Turtles and Captain Planet figurines, only to get hit right in the cornea by nightmare fuel in plastic form like the Bull Alien and the Queen Face Hugger outta' nowhere? Hell, even the "good guys" in the toy line looked more like G.I. Joe personnel possessed by that thing from Tetsuo: The Iron Man than your rank and file action figure heroes. Toss in extravagant accessories like the Evac Fighter (which solved the xenomorph problem once and for all by bottling them up like grasshoppers in a Mason jar) and the Alien Queen hive playset (which was literally the He-Man Slime Pit as designed by H.R. Giger) and you had all the makings of an all-time great tie-in toy line ... and that was before they added freakin' Predator to the expanded brand family

Of course, the things being as cool as they were, I suppose we all overlooked a staggering number of peculiarities about the line. For starters, how come Kenner put out a line based on a six-year-old movie when its sequel came out just months before the toyline was launched? And just who the hell were all these original space marines like O'Malley and Atax supposed to be? And was it just me, or did the space marines themselves look a little more cartoony than they did in the movie? These, assuredly, were all thoughts we had in the back of our heads, but since we were too busy making xenomroph rib cages explode and reading those rolled up Dark Horse comics that came with every action figure, none of us, I suppose, ever felt the desire to dig into the matter any deeper.

Well, fast forward a quarter century later and some newfound intel has come to light. As it turns out, the Kenner toys weren't merely (and belatedly) cashing in on the classic 1986 James Cameron flick, they were an honest-to-goodness attempt at garnering a Saturday morning cartoon on Fox Kids!

By now, you've probably heard something about what was initially titled Operation: Aliens. The long and short of it was that, in the early 1990s, some Korean animation studio put together - well, something - that tied into the Aliens mythos. Now, whether or not a full-fledged pilot was ever produced remains undetermined, but it does appear that they put together some sort of animated project featuring Ripley, Hicks and a whole hell of a lot of insectoid monsters with hyper-phallic probosces.

But that, however, is just the beginning. As the fine folks at AliensCollection.com have so painstakingly curated, there was indeed a small armada of Operation: Aliens merchandise queued up in the prototype phase. That includes everything from No. 2 pencils to Alien Queen wristwatches to co-branded Tiger Electronic handheld video games to - heaven help us - what appears to be Alien bubble bath gel.

The writing is pretty much splattered all over the wall: there were undoubtedly some big, BIG plans for Operation: Aliens, so what happened early on in development talks to deprive us of some half hour chunks of chest-burstin', face-huggin' sci-fi horror cartoon action in between reruns of Eek the Cat! and Super Dave: Daredevil for Hire

Granted, the idea of an Aliens cartoon for the ankle-biter set does sound a little - iffy. But then again, there were a ton of animated children's programs released around that timeframe that were likewise built around hard-R adult franchises like Rambo and Robocop and Police Academy. Lest we forget, Fox went as far as to develop a cartoon based on The Toxic freakin' Avenger - if they could turn a gore-and-nudity-soaked Troma franchise like that into action figure fodder, producing a kid-friendly Aliens show was comparatively a walk in the park. Which leaves the great Internet hoi polli and relentless trackers of "lost media" stuck with four unanswered questions:

1.) Was Operation: Aliens floated around as in idea before the Kenner toy line, or was the show proposed as a tie-in to the toy line?

2.) What exactly happened to that outsourced Korean animation footage? How much animation was developed and was a full pilot even produced? And if so, whatever happened to the "full" footage produced?

3.) What was the big stumbling block in the production process? Were executives just too apprehensive about building a cartoon around space creatures that orally impregnate victims and puke acid everywhere? 

4.) And lastly, just how close were we to seeing Operation: Aliens take flight?

Using my professional background as an investigative journalist (no, for real) I started making the Internet rounds. The first stop, naturally, was with the guy who operates the aforementioned AliensCollection.com website. 

"I think it all evolved conceptually at the same time from the desire to go a 'space G.I. Joe' series," said Willie Goldman, who knows more about the Aliens mythos than just about anybody on this planet. "Been researching this one a bit myself over the years."

He couldn't elucidate too much on the mysterious Operation: Aliens project but he did give me the name of someone directly involved with its production - former Fox Kids executive Margaret Loesch, who is now executive chairman of the Kids Genius Cartoon Channel.

Loesch has been in the TV biz for almost 50 years. She was the executive vice president for Hanna-Barbera Productions, then the president and CEO of Marvel Productions before becoming the founding president of what would eventually be known as Fox Kids in 1990. 

And since she was the head honcho for the network's children's programming all the way up until 1997, she would definitely have the skinny on what went down with Operation: Aliens

Of course, The Internet Is In America being a pop culture comedy/political satire site, I didn't really expect Loesch to return any of my emails. But much to my surprise, she was on the horn in a matter of hours and ready to chit-chat about the cartoon that never was.

Her initial correspondence was a bit of a let-down: 

"Hi Jimbo. Well, I have racked my brains and I simply do not have a recollection of any project we developed called 'Operation: Aliens.' I even checked with two of my former colleagues who worked for me - Sidney Iwanter, who proctored 'X-Men' for me, and Maureen Smith, who was our head of research and later became head of [the]Fox Family Channel cable channel. Neither of them remembers the project either. Sorry I can't help you - it sounds like something I would have loved to have developed, but I didn't!" 

Well, sounds like a dead-end, don't it? Fortunately, that email must have drudged up some long dormant memories for the former Fox Kids exec, as Loesch sent the following email a few hours later:

"Jimbo, just to follow up - I do have  a recollection that Kenner Toys may have had the merchandising rights to 'Aliens' and we had a good relationship with Kenner's president, Bruce Stein, in the early '90s. It may have been that we discussed doing an 'Aliens' cartoon but ultimately probably decided not to do it because we would have had to modify it to make it acceptable to our broadcast standards and practices. I just don't remember - what I do know is that we did not develop it and we, Fox Kids, never made a pilot for it.

And there you have it, folks - straight from the big cheese of Fox Kids herself, the company never ordered a pilot for Operation: Aliens, so whatever footage might be floating around out there isn't from a complete 22-minute cartoon. 

But hey, what about those other unanswered questions listed earlier? Well, Loesch didn't provide open-and-shut answers to all of them, but she certainly cleared up many things about the would-be Aliens cartoon (especially why it never got off the ground) in another email:

"My recollection is that Kenner Toys designed some prototypes and showed them to us at Fox. Kenner was a remarkably creative company and they had great designers. They did the same with 'Planet of the Apes' - [the] toy prototypes they designed were remarkable but ultimately we decided not to go forward with an animation series for either property because of the broadcast standards issues we would face with both concepts. The Korean studio that worked on a presentation for 'Aliens' may have been Nelson Shin's company, I just don't remember."

So in a nutshell, Kenner created the toy line and then went to Fox to lobby for a corresponding cartoon (interestingly enough, they also appeared to have been pushing hard for a Planet of the Apes cartoon tie-in, as well, which probably explains the existence of this formerly enigmatic prototype action figure.) In both scenarios, Loesch said the censors would've put the kibosh on animated versions of either property, so very early on Fox Kids made the decision to not pursue Operation: Aliens as regular programming. So while we may have gotten some long-lost animated presentation as test footage, rest assured Fox never put the money upfront for anything as substantial as a full pilot - let alone an entire season's worth of material. 

Now, I know what you're thinking. Sure, the Aliens property is a bit menacing for the Power Rangers crowd, but that sure as sugar didn't stop Fox from giving the A-OK to spin-offs of more adult-oriented stuff like Toxic Crusaders, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and even Little Shop of Horrors. Surely, if kids could've handled animated programs about toxic-waste scarred mutants and anthropomorphic, people-eating plants, they could've stomached a couple of  cartoon face-chewin' xenomorphs, couldn't they?

Well, as Loesch explains in her concluding email, the biggest barrier to Operation: Aliens may have been 20th Century Fox itself: 

"Beacuse Kenner's prototypes were so creative and because we were all fans of the 'Aliens' movie, our interest was genuine, but the hurtles were just too high because it was an R-rated property. The other factor was that the Fox theatrical division did not want it turned into a 'children's property' at that point in its life."

...and that's why we never got Operation: Aliens, kiddos. Apparently, the suits at Fox weren't too keen on turning their sci-fi/horror cash cow into a Saturday morning cartoon NOT because the idea of acid-puking space monsters might traumatize children for life, but because they thought it might detract from the box office success of the primary Aliens film franchise. Keep in mind, the show was being pitched around the same time as Alien 3, a film that barely managed to recoup its budget at the domestic box office. Now this is all conjecture on my part, but I'd surmise to guess the film studio higher-ups were miffed at the movie's box office take and wanted to "protect" the brand for financial posterity. With Aliens making $86 million back in 1986, they knew they had a proven money maker on their hands, and methinks they weren't going to do anything with the brand to jeopardize ticket sales for the next Aliens cinematic endeavor. 

So all of that to say - and remember, this is just my opinion and not anybody else's - I'd bet the farm that Operation: Aliens got nixed because Alien 3 didn't do as well at the box office as the studio had hoped and the suits at the film studio - in mild paranoia mode - thought people would be less likely to watch future Aliens movies if there was an Aliens cartoon on the airwaves targeting grade schoolers and not that coveted 18-34 male demographic.

Well, that, or maybe Standards and Practices took one look at the test footage and said "nah, we don't think first graders are old enough to understand the intricacies of robotic super soldiers fighting killer mantises with penis-shaped heads" and that was it. Probably a combination of the two, if we're being honest with ourselves. 

Alright, so what have we learned today, folks? Well, quite a few things have been cleared up concerning the great Operation: Aliens mystery, thanks to Loesch's extremely appreciated commentary. Let's run down the highlights real quick:

  • Kenner approached Fox about doing an Aliens cartoon to tie-in with their toyline, not the other way around
  • Fox never ordered a pilot for Operation: Aliens, so whatever test animation is out there is going to be minimal. 
  • Standards and practices probably wouldn't have given the show clearance for takeoff, but more importantly, Fox's own film studio didn't want to give the cartoon a go-ahead.
  • And lastly, the idea never even came close to becoming a full fledged cartoon, even though the powers-that-were at Fox Kids really, really wanted to go through with it. 

So now, we're all a little bit wiser on the subject of Operation: Aliens. Still, quite a few questions linger about the proposed program. For example, if the show never even came close to being produced, how come there was so much tie-in merchandising drawn up? Board games, school supplies, video games - for something that never got past the test footage phase, somebody out there clearly thought the show was headed somewhere. Additionally, were any script treatments ever queued up? The animated tidbits we've seen thus far seem to suggest a lot of thought was put into the character design - seemingly, far more than you'd expect for something that was just going to be a glorified demo reel. And of course, that leads us to the biggest question of all: just how much Operation: Aliens animation test footage got produced, is there any we haven't seen yet and whatever happened to the original animation reels? Is the footage truly lost to time forever, or somewhere in a basement in Seoul is there a treasure trove of never-before-seen animated Aliens awesomeness just waiting to be unearthed?

Alas, such appear to be questions were going to have to wait a little bit longer to answer ...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We Remember Sega's 'Alien 3: The Gun' Arcade Game!

Just in time for the new Alien movie, we revisit one of the greatest unsung pieces of Xenomorph media ever.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@Jimbo___X

With Covenant coming out at week's end, we here at The Internet Is In America has decided to dedicate an entire week of articles to the much beloved Xenomorph saga. Of course, that ultimately entails just two mildly themed Aliens stories, but still. 

As a kid, I loved Aliens. I enjoyed Alien 3 to a much lesser degree, but I liked it way more than most people. Interestingly enough, I was never a big fan of the original Alien movie, which - compared to its sequels - just felt way too staid and meandering. But if you just focused on the theatrical movies, you were missing out on a huge part of the brand's appeal. Yes, the 1986 James Cameron flick was fucking awesome (indeed, the director's cut might just be one of my ten favorite movies ever), but you know what else was awesome? The Kenner toyline from 1992, the long tapestry of Aliens tie-in Dark Horse comics and - of course - the string of Aliens branded video games released throughout the 1990s. 

Now, there were a LOT of great Aliens video games to come out in the 1990s. You had Konami's underrated Aliens arcade game from 1990 (which, with its mutated retard Frankenstein zombies and sentient black goop enemies, eerily foreshadowed Prometheus almost a half century in advance), the superb Alien vs. Predator arcade beat 'em up from Capcom and - of course - the even more awesome Atari Jaguar shooter of the same name from 1994. Lost in the mix of surprisingly well done licensed games, however, is a forgotten gem from Sega that graced arcades back in 1993. 

Now, according to the Wikipedia, Alien 3: The Gun was a Japan-exclusive arcade game, which I can dispel as bullshit right here and now because I vividly remember playing the game at Six Flags Over Georgia back in the third grade. Conceptually, the title is technically just another rail shooter light gun game, a'la Terminator 2 and Lethal Enforcers, but it's WAY above those games in terms of general quality and experience. It really was one of the most intense and atmospheric arcade games of the early 1990s, and it's a crying shame it was never ported to home consoles - this thing would've been just bitchin' on the 32X as it was at down by the food court, in my humblest o' opinions.

Let it be said: these motherfuckers definitely did not skimp out on the "exploding monster guts" animation budget...

Now, right from the get-go I can tell you that this game doesn't even attempt to follow the plot of Alien 3 ... but then again, you probably would've realized that the moment you saw the giant plastic pulse rifle mounted to the arcade cabinet. Rather, the game begins aboard the Sulaco spacecraft from Aliens, which has been overrun by xenomorphs and huge assed facehuggers. Thankfully, you pick up a fuckin' flamethrower power-up as soon as the game begins proper, so those acid-spewing motherfuckers are quite literally toast. If you've ever played a rail shooter like Beast Busters before, you know what to expect here. Like a rollercoaster, you're on a fixed track shooting the shit out of everything that moves before it shoots you, stabs you or tries to suck your face off. The deeper you get into the ship, the more enemies you'll encounter; you've got sentry guns (which I guess is a nod to a deleted scene from Aliens), some killer Roombas and - of course - a whole bunch of nasty ass green eggs with even nastier creatures ready to pop out of 'em as soon as you get within five feet of them. Also, for whatever reason, a bunch of missiles from out of goddamn nowhere start coming at you, which is a real pain-us in the anus since there's always at least a dozen or so things onscreen trying to kill you at any given time. Thankfully, the game is fairly generous with the power-ups - about every 20 seconds, you're bound to find a power-up pill, which, as fate would have it, looks just like something out of Dr. Mario.

Basically, Sega treated this game like a carnival haunted house attraction, and it just plain works. Atmosphere abounds in this one, and the programmers definitely knew how to keep you on your toes. For example, unlike most arcade shooters from the era, the overall pace of this game fluctuates quite a bit. One minute you're flying down a corridor at 100 miles an hour and the next, you're slowly tip-toeing your way through a claustrophobic lab, intently listening for the squealing sound of facehuggers to give you a one-second hands up before being attacked. Not a whole lot of arcade games of the like ever did that much with aural cues (prolly because arcades were noisy as fuck), but you really have to admire the extra miles Sega went with the sound design here. 

What, you don't remember that part in Alien 3 when Ripley had to fight a neon blue version of Johnny 5 from Short Circuit

The first boss is a super facehugger which - as the name suggests - is a really, really big crab monster motherfucker. I really dig how the computerized "warning" alarm starts blaring over the soundtrack, while digitalized fire flashes over the screen. It's a really neat touch that creates a profound sense of urgency - if not outright panic. 

So after every level, you're given a quick statistical rundown, showing how many enemies you killed, and are given a military-type ranking. You also get a quick, text-driven cutscene that explains why the scenery changes so much from stage to stage. In this case, you take an escape pod offscreen to save yourself from the exploding space ship, and hey, what do you know, you just so happen to crash land on the penal colony planet from Alien 3

The attention to detail in this game is just phenomenal. The hatches on the escape pod have the Weyland-Yutani logo all over them and - just like in Alien 3 - the xenomorphs change hues from solid black to burnt orange. I know it's going to sound like a backhanded compliment, but this has to be one of the most beautiful "ugly" levels in arcade game history. Just like in the movie, everything is lifeless grey and rocky, even the rain that splashes down from the drab, dark purple clouds. Even more impressive, however, are the gale force wind effects. The whooshing of the wind - in tandem with the sounds of bullets flying through the air and alien guts splattering all over the Normandy like beachhead - is downright skin crawling ... even if the follow-up slog through a scrapheap, in which you do battle with a bunch of non-canonical junk robots that look like Fugitoid from Ninja Turtles, is a little bit ridiculous. Things take a turn for the even more absurd when you make it to the stage's final boss fight; a throwdown with a not-even-close-to-being-canonical-flying tank the game designers thought would be a good idea to call "Iron Tortoise." Anyhoo, just throw a couple of grenades at it (interestingly, in this game, said weapons are of the potato masher variety instead of the more standard American pineapple) and carry on, my wayward son. 

In the next stage the clouds disperse and the skies turn blood red and it's creepy as fuck. After plowing through a small armada of albino xenomorphs, you'll find yourself making your way through the labyrinthine exterior prison grounds, which are pretty much perfect replicas of the outstanding sets from Alien 3. One of the things I really love about this game is how the alien enemies themselves aren't just half-hearted palette swaps. All of the models are scaled differently, with different body types, animations and even attack patterns. Some are taller, some are bipedal, some scurry away from you and some just lunge at you like penis-headed meth addicts (as in, these fuckers literally try to headbutt you to death, a'la former WWF 'rassler Bam Bam Bigelow.) And man, if you want to see gross, just wait until a facehugger hops on you and starts jizzing its green pussy face slime all over you ... yee-uck.

Watch out - these suckers definitely look to fondle you to death.

As night falls, the pace becomes way slower and the enemy attacks become more sporadic. Thankfully, the game does give you a Predator-like infrared scanner so you can slog your way through the pitch black madness without having your eyes plucked out and your abdomen impregnated by a 15 foot tall grasshopper. I guess now is a pretty good time to bring up the explosion effects, before I forget. Whenever you kill an alien, not only do they erupt in big gooey green piles of gunge and gore, their arms, legs, pincers and antennas fly towards you like an intergalactic Gallagher show and I fuckin' love it

For our boss fight, we finally make it inside the prison, and as soon as the soundtrack transitions into this awesome techno metal beat, we're confronted by a super lanky alien - which the designers simply called "Alien" - which runs around the room, hiding behind stuff, only to periodically emerge and ... shake its dick at you? Well, it doesn't technically have a dick, but it's only method of attack appears to be thrusting its pelvis at you. Well, I was going to nickname that one "the Shaquille O'Neal Alien," but perhaps the moniker of "the Michael Jackson Alien" is more fitting?

Our super engrishy cutscene lets us know that you tried to get help from the prisoners, but the whole damn jail was "fated to be turned into a hell after only a few hours." The next level is green and dreary, with sewage pipes all over the place. The wormy chestburster adversaries also make their long-awaited arrival, but you only get to kill a couple of those before you find yourself pushing buttons on an elevator. Sure enough, the floor you get off on (you sick fuck!) just so happens to be the meat locker, and boy howdy, all the cow carcasses are infected with alien parasites. It's a pretty gross environment, to be sure, but it's also funny as shit because a few of the aliens that pop up on screen do this weird thing with their hands behind their heads that for all the rubles in Russia looks like they're striking poses a'la models on the cover of Vogue. Also, there are a couple of prisoners scattered around the level you can free for bonus points, but come on, they're PRISONERS - do we really need to save convicted murderers and rapists from being eaten by vagina monsters? 

Yes, you can shoot the prisoners, if you want. And since they're canonically child rapists, why wouldn't you?

The next boss is called the "Super Dogburster," which is totally what I'm calling my revivalist '90s alt-rock band some day. This fucker is really annoying, because it can jump through walls and keeps launching poisonous blobs of grape jam at you. Still, he's pretty easy to kill, and you have to hear his red blood cell-curdling death scream - for an early 1990s arcade game, that audio is just horrifying

In the next cutscene, we learn that somebody else is following the aliens, because they want to use them as biological weapons. Well, way to give away that cliffhanger, Sega people from 25 years ago. The next stage begins with a bunch of copy pasta bald prisoners running around in an alien-infested tunnel. You're explicitly told not to shoot them, but ... well, shit happens sometimes. An aside, but I love how the alien corpses pile up and molt after you massacre them. Such a nice little touch. And speaking of nice touches, you escape this stage by shooting out a giant fan ... presumably, the same one that dude who had his face melted off by alien spit fell into at the beginning of Alien 3

The boss in this stage is another generic "Alien," but this one takes twice as long to kill as the last one. Also, I love it's "biting" animation - motherfucker's got pearly whites snazzier than the Osmonds. So you shoot this one until its life bar goes all the way down twice, and even then, you don't really kill it - it just runs off and you get another stats screen. Nice touch: if you shoot a prisoner, you actually hear their warbled death screams played over the stage recap. 

The fifth and final stage takes place in the blast furnace, so you know it's going to be festering with aliens, facehuggers, chestbursters and those irritating-ass Weyland-Yutani-branded Roombas. The end boss is a peach Michael Jackson alien, which takes a million shots to kill. But it's kinda' worth the trouble, because at the end of the stage, you get to watch an automaton douse it in a million pounds of molten lead, just like at the end of Alien 3

But what a minute! Another cutscene/title card lets us know we aren't finished with "alien boss," quite yet, as that spindly little sumbitch hops out of its liquid metal tomb and your character ACTUALLY says "oh, shit." OK, that's pretty mundane for the Grand Theft Auto 5 generation, but to include that in an arcade game in 1993 was beyond ballsy for Sega. I mean, rippin' bitches' spinal cords out in Mortal Kombat is one thing, but actually hearing the dreaded "S" word in a coin-op? That is literally the most punk rock thing I've ever heard, and it only serves to make me love Sega a million billion times more than I already do (which is still a lot, in case you were wondering.) 

So you shoot out a water pipe and - again, just like in the movie - the Alien is doused in a cold shower and that makes the fucker explode. Except it kinda dematerializes more than it explodes, but whatever - the effect remains solid. Then a cartoon version of Lance Henrikson busts in and asks you where the samples are and you tell him you killed them all and then he says he's going to kill you so you have a boss fight with his flamethrower toting ass. So you finally kill him and then a disembodied voice yells "you're finished, pal" and then a whole bunch of soldiers in hazmat suits storm in with guns drawn and then a postscript sequence tells us "as time passed, all records of the fearful incidents were erased" and that all "the facilities were closed down and almost all was forgotten." THEN THE SOLDIERS OPEN FIRE AND BLOW YOUR ASS TO SMITHEREENS AND IT'S GAME OVER. Holy shit, that's an even better downer ending then the one they actually used in Alien 3! Hell, for that matter, this game itself almost works as an IMPROVED version of the third Alien film, with Ripley and Hicks surviving and crash landing on the prison planet with enough weaponry to stage about four or five Vietnams. Fuck, as far as I'm concerned, this IS the real canonical Alien 3, and I ain't gonna' let nobody tell me otherwise.  

Don't you just hate it when video game end bosses are just so dang cryptic?

Now, I ain't gonna' jerk you off and tell you Alien 3: The Gun is an all-time masterpiece. There's virtually no replay value, the core action is just straight up twitch reflex and you can beat the entire thing in 20 minutes, a half hour tops. But then again, that's also what makes it such a phenomenal arcade experience. Nobody has the patience to stand in front of a machine for two hours pulling a fake machine gun trigger, the same way nobody has the patience to ride a roller coaster for two hours straight. The almost Taoist beauty of it all is in crafting the most memorable, instantly-gratifying coin-op experience possible. Rail shooters were as close as '90s games got to truly interactive autuerism. Like actual movies, the camera-work preyed on your emotions, while the pace of the in-game track dipped and increased to build tension and suspense. From the ground-up, these games were designed to maximize bullet-spraying action and spacesuit-pants-pissing trepidation, and you'd have to be a damned fool to say Sega didn't deliver the essential goods on this sumbitch.

All you have to do is take a look at two rail shooters that came out decades after this one to see the intrinsic greatness of The Gun. Despite having exponentially more powerful technology and presumably a much larger design budget, neither 2006's Aliens: Extermination nor 2013's Aliens: Armageddon could outdo this ancient quarter-muncher from 1993 when it comes to straight up coin-up thrills and chills. Sega's game may lack the audiovisual firepower of the later games, but it makes up for it by being a better structured game with a far more intense pace. And hell, you can't say it doesn't have a better than average story compared to most video games nowadays - or even most Alien movies, come to think of it. 

If you're an Aliens fan and you have a basic understanding of how video games work and you're not averse to fantastical gun violence, you probably need to get your hands on a .ROM of Alien 3: The Gun. Hell, even if you're NOT a fan of the Aliens franchise but you enjoy old school shooters, I think you might be surprised by the quality of what most developers would have rushed out as nothing more than a half-hearted tie-in quickie. It's fun and it's spooky and it's a little cheesy and it's intense as fuck and it has cursing in it and there's at least two or three spots where you're probably going to jump out of your shoes. So, basically, everything you hope to find in a decent Alien flick, you're going to find in spades in this criminally underappreciated shoot-a-thon from the House Alex Kidd Built. 

So if Covenant winds up sucking, you KNOW the perfect post-disappointment means of celebrating the venerable Alien franchise - and best of all, you don't even need a sack of quarters no more to experience it!