by Dick Ward
There's a line that separates fans from fanatics. Movie fans already have the Blu-rays of their favorite flicks pre-ordered and are ready to watch them as soon as they come in. Fanatics need more. They need collectables, information and maybe a few other weird things as well. Beyond the Blu is your guide to the kind of periphery that the truly obsessed - and I mean that as a compliment - just can't live without.
'The Muppets' is one of those few movies that surpassed my expectations. It was as true to the Henson era Muppets as I had hoped and funnier than I imagined, and I'm a nut for the Muppets. So is Kevin Clash, the man behind Elmo. His difficult journey and eventual success are chronicled in the moving documentary 'Being Elmo,' which is available for preorder on Amazon and is streaming on Netflix now. It gives you more than just the story of Kevin Clash - it gives you a look into everything going on behind the Muppets, including some really touching moments with Jim Henson.
I don't know a tremendous amount about 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' I know it's a pretty dark book series and probably a pretty dark movie, but that's about all. Oh, and I know, or at least feel safe in presuming, that there is a girl in the movie that has a dragon tattoo. You could do the obsessed fan thing and get a "fer real" tattoo to match, but if you're not feeling that crazy, get yourself a henna kit and create a temporary version.
I first saw the musical version of 'Little Shop of Horrors' when I was pretty young and the only thing in the world that I wanted afterwards was an Audrey II of my very own. Sadly, they don't exist. Actually, that's not sad at all - that plant was going to take over the world and eat everybody. Still, I ended up getting myself the next best thing, a venus fly trap . Plants that eat meat? It's just plain cool.
Before 'The Room,' before 'Birdemic' and before 'Manos: The Hands of Fate' there was 'Plan 9.' It's the first movie hailed as "so bad it's good" and is required viewing for anyone with a love of terrible flicks. 'Plan 9' was never featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but it did end up getting love from Rifftrax - Kevin, Bill and Mike from MST3K - a few years back. You can watch the movie with Rifftrax commentary streaming on Amazon or shell out for the DVD version of the ridiculously funny live show, featuring guest stars Jonathan Coulton, Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka and Veronica Belmont. I strongly recommend the live version - the jokes are essentially the same but the energy is so much better.
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' is one of the most quotable movies there is, and still one of the most oft referenced anywhere that nerds gather. You've got the Knights Who Say Ni, the rude Frenchman, Sir Robin's bard and countless other characters that just can't be forgotten. There's also, of course, the killer rabbit, which is available in plush form. Get the plush and display it on your shelf with your other collectables. Take it out of the house if you must, but don't be that guy that goes up to everyone at work and pushes the rabbit up against people's necks and pretends that it's eating them. Seriously, everyone hates that guy. Well, I hate that guy. You know who you are.
I freaking love Iron Maiden. They're consistently good - well, not during the Blaze Bayley days, but I just pretend those albums don't exist - and they continue to put on some of the best live shows I've ever seen. Bruce Dickinson at 53 still runs and jumps around a massive stage and retains his incredible voice. He's essentially the opposite of another metal frontman who managed to run out of breath after one lap back and forth across the stage and then completely miss his notes. I'm not naming any names. Yes I am, it's Axl Rose.
There's so much cool Iron Maiden memorabilia out there, but I'm partial to the Eddie figures that have been released over the last few years. The latest is, as is fitting with the new album, Final Frontier Eddie. The coolest, and the one I wish I had picked up before the price skyrocketed, is The Trooper Eddie, complete with a battle-worn Union Jack. So cool.
Being crazy enthusiastic about any of those other titles is one thing, but if you're a ridiculous fan of 'Wizards' then you're some kind of super nerd. That's not an insult - that's an honor. The movies of Ralph Bakshi are unique and some of the most creative ever made. Get some insight into the man and his films in the book Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi, written by Jon M. Gibson who went on to create iam8bit, a production company specializing in videogame and pop culture art.