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I was asked by the film review site SoReelFlix last month to contribute a Top 10 ninja films list.
After a month of notes I had about 30 bare essential films and realized an outright Top 10 wasn’t going to happen — I felt like a parent pushing kids out of a lifeboat or something…
But, what I was able to do was break the massive world- and decade-spanning genre down to 10 general categories of film experience, based on how they are enjoyed by the public, and pick an ideal ambassador of each. I feel in most cases they’re the best, or at least ideal entry points, into facets of ninja movies of which a lot of potential fans might not be totally aware.
I skipped outright kids’ movies (especially of the turtle variety) and soft porn (tastes and ‘needs’ of the audience vary too widely there!), but otherwise I think this is a pretty decent Top 10.
10 Essential Ninja Movies from 10 Different Categories
Thanks to James from SoReelFlix.
Posted 1 year, 1 month ago. 9 comments
And for those of you who get anything sharp and pointy from Santa, don’t put your eye out…
Posted 1 year, 2 months ago. 1 comment
Not to drag the scene down with off-topic plugs, but I’ve finally gone public with the big project that kept me largely away from here all summer.
ZOMBI MEXICANO is a new book published through my From Parts Unknown imprint, renowned for the zine of the same name in the 90′s. The book is centered on obscure 1970s Mexican zombie films that few realize are even part of the zombie genre because Mexican filmmakers were more partial to the term “momia” (mummy) in their marketing.
It’s making its public debut next weekend at the big Monsterpalooza show in Burbank, CA, but for those outside the U.S. it’s available for pre-order over at the FPU site.
I’ve used a cutting edge new press on this project, experimented with small boutique runs of ultra-limited books. Might be something I’d look at for VN content in the future if it sells right.
Posted 1 year, 4 months ago. Add a comment
• If you’re a stinky old fart with bad eyes like me then you hate watching stuff on portable devices and tiny screens. Fortunately for us luddites, Ninja: The Mission Force is now available on DVD.
• I’m not sure what the hell is going on in this James Madison: Ninja Warrior t-shirt, but the art is awesome, and the Badass Digest crew are good folk.
• Found a great collection of color tinted Kurozukin Menko cards here.
• Spanish-language site Retumbarama has started a series of ninja movie articles. I always like seeing international takes on the craze era.
Posted 1 year, 6 months ago. 1 comment
Tags: kurozukin, Ninja: The Mission Force
…but not necessarily this week:
And if anyone can identify where this panel comes from I’ll send them something cool free!
Meanwhile, I’m looking at a busy two weeks in front of me, so new stuff might be sparing. I’ve been thinking about dusting off some of the better archive posts, particularly from our first year, and republishing them for the new readers (and those without the patience or DEDICATION to click through the categories on their own).
Stay tuned folks!
Posted 1 year, 9 months ago. 2 comments
Had a reader on the VN Facebook page (have you ‘Liked’ us? If not, SHAME!) post a great question:
“If you had to distill your favorite ninja films into a grievously unfair list of only 5, what would they be?”
OY! Can you imagine the nightmare scenario where you were trapped on a deserted island with only five ninja movies to watch over and over? Or if you had a bomb shelter with space for only five ninja films to survive the apocalypse and represent the genre for far-off future archeologists? Top tens are easy, but FIVE? That’s tough.
What I ended up coming up with (in no particular order) were:
– Castle of Owls (1963) Probably my favorite ninja film ever.
– Shinobi-no-Mono 1 (1962) For its historical significance, and being the best example of Hatsumi-driven credible espionage-based ninja flicks.
– Revenge of the Ninja (1983) Arguably the best of the American 80s craze, which must be represented.
– Five Element Ninja (1982) As should Hong Kong’s co-opting of ninja into their kung-fu empire.
– Magic Serpent (1966) To satisfy the Monster Kid in me, and represent TOAD MAGIC!
The Top 5 format forces me to exclude the entirety of the Joseph Lai/IFD genre-unto-itself cut-together films (Full Metal Ninja being my personal fave). Also on the bubble: The Octagon, the artistic apex of the genre Samurai Spy, Mission Iron Castle for being the height of dark ninja noir, and one of the Kadowkawa/Chiba/JAC collaborations has to be high up there too (Ninja Wars being another personal bias, lots of late-light cable viewings in this man’s youth). Ninja Scroll is probably the anime entry as well.
But what about all of you? Commenting is now wide-open to anyone and totally easy, so please, leave us you own Top 5 below. Really curious how many of us have similar lists, and am ready to slap myself with disgust for missing a crucial title that should have been on there.
Speak up folks!
Posted 1 year, 10 months ago. 6 comments
We’re regretably without the services of a Japanese translator at the moment, and are looking to glean some info from a few old movie flyers and video packages. Nothing heavy, we’re mostly looking for titles, actor names and dates.
Anyone who wouldn’t mind an occasional jpg e-mailed to them for a spot translation, please drop us a line at email@example.com or leave a comment here.
Many thanks in advance…
Posted 1 year, 11 months ago. Add a comment
Y’know that place you have to go to during the day where people make you do stuff, and then give you money so you can pay your rent and shit? Well, my decidedly non-ninja-riffic PAYING career really kicked my ass in December and January. Coming out the other side of huge deadlines and 8-day weeks now though, so VN will go back to regular updates come February.
In the meantime, while doing some emergency house cleaning on an old computer, I found these:
Way back… like 2005 or so… I had this silly notion of PRINT still being viable and adapting the old Ninja80 website into square-bound manga-sized ‘zines. Mocked up some kind nice covers, too.
I’m a much happier puppy pushing out stuff online though, and while I would certainly entertain a book offer from another publisher, my days of losing my own shirt and lugging books to the post office are long gone.
I do miss designing book covers though…
Posted 2 years, 1 month ago. 4 comments
Alright you, and you all know who you are…
Make me a promise right now that you won’t hurt yourself Christmas morning on any new sharp-pointy things Shinobi Clause brought you. (Like I did in, what was it, 1983, 84, 85, 86 and/or , well, you get the picture…)
Here’s a mid-80s haul I got after Santa evidently stopped off at Asian World of Martial Arts before coming down our chimney:
Oddly, the shinai is alive and well today, but the zinc-alloy katana with the hollow plastic handle they used to pawn off on the unknowing is long gone. The sais and shoge survived several moves cross country as well, and after coming out of more than a decade of storage were refinished and re-detailed for a photo shoot a few years back.
Enduring Christmas memories of the 80s craze. I hope kids today are getting some sort of shinobi swag that has the same lasting impact…
Posted 2 years, 2 months ago. Add a comment
Tags: Asian World of Martial Arts
This year, Monsters and Masks Month will also be celebrated at our lucha libre-themed sister site From Parts Unknown, where plenty of masked wrestler vs. monster and Dia de los Muertos inspired mayhem will ensue. The party’s already begun over there, so expand your horizons and step into the ring!
Meanwhile, I’m pretty crushed for time lately, so this may not be nearly a prolific October as the last two. So I encourage y’all to visit the previous years’ celebrations of ninja and horror hybridization:
Monsters and Masks 2009
Monsters and Masks 2010
And return here in a few for our first MaMM 2011 post, featuring my favorite 80′s perverted ninja wizardry effects-laden creep-fest Ninja Wars!
Posted 2 years, 5 months ago. Add a comment
Tags: Monsters and Masks 2011