Movie Review: FULL ECLIPSE (1993), CONJuration Panels
Middle-school late-night supernatural cop film and panels I'll be part of at upcoming magical fantasy convention
(This is funnier because I’m probably the whitest person in existence.)
I didn’t really understand what was going on due to my age and the fact I had to keep the volume down to avoid disturbing family members with healthier sleep patterns, but every so often I’d remember the film. I could never figure out what it was, even though on at least one occasion I’d tried to search it out online.
Well, I eventually found it again courtesy of this Facebook group on older horror movies, and now’s the chance to watch it and actually get what’s going on.
Los Angeles police detective Max Dire (Mario Van Peebles) and his partner Jim Sheldon (Tony Denison) go into a nightclub whose denizens have been taken hostage by a violent gang. Jim, having just announced his intention to marry his girlfriend and retire at three-fourths pension, is left comatose after the resulting fight — but after fellow officer Doug Crane (Jason Beghe) injects him with a mysterious golden serum in the hospital, he’s back on his feet ready to fight criminals with nary a scratch. And when some gang members do a drive-by on a donut shop, he lights into them with gusto — superhuman, bullet-surviving gusto. Meanwhile, Max’s devotion to his job is causing problems with his wife Anna (Victoria Rowell).
When Anna goes back to her mother’s place in Texas, Adam Garou (Bruce Payne) invites him to what’s supposed to be a support group for troubled cops. It turns out they’re up to some crazy vigilante stuff and they’re not entirely human.
*The movie starts out with a gigantic cop-movie cliché — the protagonist’s partner is about to retire and then gets gunned down by criminals — but deliberately inverts it. I was pleasantly surprised.
*I liked the overall concept. Not going to go into a lot of detail for spoiler reasons, but it’s pretty creative.
*Max displays a surprising amount of common sense for a horror film protagonist — when things start getting weird he actually reports it to his superiors (only to be brushed off), he does some of his own investigative work on top of that, and when things get even weirder, he doesn’t just jump right in.
*Payne does a good job as the sinister Garou, especially when he’s angry and/or has good one-liners to throw out.
*At around 90 minutes it’s relatively tight and moves quickly.
*I did not expect the film’s ultimate ending, but it does make sense given the characters.
*Some of the dialogue is either weak-sounding or extremely unsubtle.
*Although Payne is good, Van Peebles is kind of meh in terms of acting.
*There could have been fewer members of Garou’s group, allowing the audience to get more into their back-stories, including why they’re willing to do the crazy stuff they do and how far they’re willing to go. Liza (Paula Marshall) could be merged into Casey Spencer (Patsy Kensit), since the former’s presence is so minimal and her back-story so simple and easily plugged into Casey’s. Incorporating Liza’s story would make Casey a more conflicted and interesting character. Other than Casey, Garou’s minions aren’t really well-developed and that’s unfortunate.
*The foreshadowing before the big reveal are a little too on-the-nose, like Adam Garou and Max’s surname being Dire. That’s like the original Battlestar Galactica’s Count Iblis or Harry Potter’s Remus Lupin — it’s a very obvious giveaway about what’s going on.
*There are some really strange cuts between characters when they’re talking in one scene. It was rather distracting from what is an important conversation.
*There are some late-game actions by the villain that don’t make a lot of sense.
7.5 out of 10. Worth seeing once, but not very substantial. Given the concept, it could have been better.
My Panels at CONJuration 2023
This November (11/17-19), I will be part of several panels at CONJuration, an Atlanta convention dedicated to magical fantasy in the vein of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, etc. Although very little of my fiction really fits in this sub-genre, I got to sell books for free last year due to being on seven panels and I’m doing the same this year for six.
(The Books: The Lovecraftian The Thing in the Woods, its sequel The Atlanta Incursion, my steampunk military fantasy Battle for the Wastelands, its prequel novella “Son of Grendel,” its sequel Serpent Sword, the horror-crime farce novella “Little People, Big Guns,” and the short story collection Flashing Steel, Flashing Fire. Also I’ve got a couple Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer comics I’d like to resell for $5 a pop now that I’ve gotten the collections. Those at least would count as magical fantasy, albeit rather dark.)
Here is my tentative schedule:
You Finished Your Book: Now What?-This is at 7 PM on Friday night. It seems like it’d overlap a lot with my later panels “Publishing 101” and “Revision Not Shape-Shifting” (see below), but we’ll see. I imagine I’ll be advising would-be self-publishers not to publish it right away, but to put in the work (editing, cover art, design) to produce a really good product. And if the money’s not there for that, there’s always Kickstarter.
Is Indiana Jones Magical Fantasy?-This is at 2 PM on Saturday. Although the majority of the supernatural doings in the franchise are based on religion, fantasy often includes this (Lord of the Rings gives its wizards angelic origins and Sauron and his master Morgoth are explicitly demonic, many role-playing games have stats for gods and god-like beings, and Clash of the Titans and the Percy Jackson books with the various gods from mythology are considered a fantasy). Therefore, supernatural and/or “magical” activity based on Judaism (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Christianity (Last Crusade), and Hinduism and Voodoo (Temple of Doom) would fit into fantasy pretty neatly. Crystal Skull and Dial of Destiny have aliens and advanced ancient technology respectively, but if you count Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (something I only vaguely remember from childhood), there’s an episode set in Transylvania featuring what may or may not be a vampire and/or a reincarnated Vlad The Impaler. That isn’t based on religion.
Judge a Book By Its Cover - Cover Art Do's and Don'ts-This is at 3 PM on Saturday. People who’ve seen my books at in-person events love my covers. I didn’t do the artwork for them (Matt Cowdery is the actual cover artist whose work passers0by’s lover so much), but I’m pretty sure my role is equivalent to an art director. I gave Cowdery the gist of what I wanted and let him go to work. At the halfway point he sent me what he’d done so far and then I gave him to go-ahead to finish, and then we tweaked the final cover after that. The reason I put in so much effort into my covers (researching artists for years and paying for good ones) is because I’ve seen a lot of independently-published books with crappy rendered covers and didn’t want my work saddled with that.
Cryptids of the Southeast-This is at 10 PM on Saturday. When I was younger I was really into cryptozoology (things like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster), so I’ve got some knowledge going in. Time to do some research — I’m already somewhat familiar with the Skunk Ape, Altie, and the Lizard-Man of Scape Ore Swamp, but there’ve got to be more.
Publishing 101: How To Get Your Book Out In The World-This is at 1 PM on Sunday. Most of my work is independently published and the two major exceptions (the first edition of The Thing in the Woods and “Little People, Big Guns”) were via small presses whose leadership I already knew. I haven’t worked with an agent or bigger presses. So the former area is where I can teach; the second area is where I can learn.
It’s Revision, Not Shape-Shifting-This is at 2 PM on Sunday. Given how thoroughly I outline before I get started and how I typically run my books a chapter at a time through critique group before I even finish the manuscript, I’m very reluctant to make major changes once it’s written. Most of my post-completion edits are in the mode of tightening the manuscript by eliminating excessive words. But sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
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