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The Rest of the Best - A Popularity Contest 50th Anniversary! Week Seven - Fantasy Novels!

Johnny Unusual

Ro-Man Extension XJ-2

Notable Traits
  • To be like the hu-man​
  • To live like the hu-man​
Ro-Man is the primary villain of the 1953 science fiction film Robot Monster. Ro-Man is a lone invader who managed to wipe out almost all of humanity for his race who are afraid humans will one day challenge them. Not much backstory is given to the race save they are controlled by "The Great Guidance" and they are... robot monsters. Ro-Man eventually discovers there are 8 surviving humans and vows to find and destroy them but ends up falling in love with one and wanting to be like them. Ro-Man is eventually killed along with an 8 year old boy for defying the Great Guidance... but the whole thing is a boy's dream anyway so it doesn't matter much.

Robot Monster is one of the most iconic "so bad it's good" movies and yeah, it's boring in spots but Ro-Man is a highlight. It's somehow a very lazy, bizarre choice; put a space helmet on an ape costume. And yet, it works. I won't say Ro-Man's charms are purely aesthetic but it plays a pretty big role. As clumsy as the film is, I really do think it stumbled onto something that is so goofy that it manages to ingrain itself into the consciousness and somehow come all the way back to cool. Sort of how you love a child's idea of cool. But also he's pure archetype; the invader who suddenly has feelings. It's such childish pathos and yet I can't help think you could make more Robot Monster films.

Interesting the iconic suit was built by George Barrows, the actor who played him. He had done that in a few movies, including "Gorilla at Large" so I guess he is an expert at being a gorilla. The film appeared on MST3k but it's sort of been iconic before that for b-movie buffs and sometimes shows up as a reference in other spaces, particularly comedies.


Johnny Unusual

Top 50 NES Games

Host: @Lokii

Participants: (this is likely to be incomplete) @Johnny Unusual @Octopus Prime @WildcatJF @Kishi @Falselogic @Yimothy @JBear @Beta Metroid @Torzelbaum @Kirin @ajr82 @Rascally Badger @Taeryn @Ted @Gerad @Cyreal @Red Hedgehog @Droewyn @Lady

50. Mega Man V

49. Kid Icarus

48. Battle of Olympus

47. Ninja Gaiden 3

46. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

45. Ice Hockey

44. The Guardian Legend

43. Metal Gear

42. Mega Man 4

41. Ninja Gaiden 2

40. Shadowgate

39. Crystalis

38. Marble Madness

37. Metal Storm

36. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2

35. Super C

34. Batman

33. Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers

32. Excitebike

31. Life Force

30. Blaster Master

29. Duck Hunt

28. Final Fantasy 3

27. Maniac Mansion

26. Dragon Quest 4

25. Dragon Quest

24. The Adventures of Lolo

23. Dragon Quest 3

22. Startropics

21. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

20. Tetris

19. Bubble Bobble

18. Ninja Gaiden

17. River City Ransom

16. Castlevania

15. Castlevania III

14. Bionic Commando

13. Zelda II: The Adventures of Link

12. Punch-Out!!

11. Metroid

10. Super Mario Bros.

9. Contra

8. Kirby's Adventure

7. Mega Man 3

6. Ducktales

5. Final Fantasy

4. The Legend of Zelda

3. Super Mario Bros. 2

2. Mega Man 2

1. Super Mario Bros. 3

This was Lokii’s first host gig and shockingly we had to wait till list four before we got to vidja games! Sure enough, I think most of the results aren’t too surprising as it goes up, including the polarizing ones like Zelda II. The NES really was the game changer and to my eternal frustration, I didn’t get one until after the Super Nintendo came out. That said, I do appreciate they still made NES games until 94. There were some quality ones in the later era, like Kirby’s Adventure. There also seemed to be a controversy that in the final tally list, Shadowgate popped up twice and I don’t think Lokii ever addressed it that actually changed the final tally or if it was a typo or what. Since then, a lot of these are available to play on the Switch Online and some are available for purchase, like the Disney Afternoon and Castlevania collections. I wouldn’t mind getting a Ninja Gaiden collection down the line… And let everyone know what classic NES (or Famicom) game is awesome enough to be on the list?


Let's Pock (Art @szk_tencho)
(he / his / him)
Hm, I bet my tastes have changed since was first done. I'll have to see what I originally submitted, haha.
Edit - Here's what I sent in back then:
1) Legend of Zelda
2) Mega Man 3
3) Bionic Commando
4) Kirby's Adventure
5) Super Mario Bros. 3
6) Contra
7) Castlevania
8) Ducktales
9) Mega Man 2
10) StarTropics
11) Power Blade
12) Super Mario Bros. 2
13) Blaster Master
14) Batman
15) Super Mario Bros.
16) Metroid
17) Blades of Steel
18) California Games
19) Final Fantasy
20) Ice Hockey
21) Mega Man 6
22) Dragon Warrior
23) Gargoyle's Quest II
24) Super Dodge Ball
25) Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II

Definitely would have some changes to this! I don't have time to recompile my list at the moment, but I'll be back!

This was my first contest, as an aside.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project

File this game under >U< for Unappreciated. Sure, The Arcade Game was a faithful adaptation and Turtles in Time was flashier on account of being 16 bits and all, but Manhattan Project pushed the NES to the limits with cool new moves and an incredible soundtrack. This is, pound for pound, my favorite Turtles game of all time, and that's including the newfangled game what has the data entry foot clan guys!


????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I don't think my list would be any different now than it was then (unless I forgot some of the lesser names).

1. River City Ransom
2. Contra
3. Final Fantasy
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
5. Dragon Warrior 3
6. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
7. Tetris
8. Legend of Zelda
9. Super Mario Brothers 2
10. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
11. Metal Gear
12. Ninja Gaiden
13. Dragon Warrior 4
14. The Guardian Legend
15. Super Mario Brothers
16. Pro Wrestling
17. Rygar
18. Rampage
19. Power Blade
20. Blaster Master
21. Excitebike
22. Jackal
23. Shadowgate
24. Double Dragon II: The Revenge
25. Skate or Die!


Summon for hire
Yeah, I don't think my knowledge of NES games has changed a whole lot in the past decade.

Still surprised Clash at Demonhead didn't make the Top50 though. It's not just the forum name inspiration, it's also a pretty fun action adventure with a fascinating map an interesting item set and just the right amount of obtuse jank to be intriguing.

Johnny Unusual

Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti
I was hoping to get the name of a game I couldn't remember from @Dracula about that one game we played that was part board game part video game. He never got back to me so instead here's a much easier to find game and one that is also pretty weird; the Famicom Splatterhouse game. The Splatterhouse series is famous for it's dumb bloody violence where you play as a Jason Vorhees wannabe but for the NES version... you get a much different game. Wanpaku is a word that according to the internet means a cheeky person and this is a goofy kid friendly version. Want Splatterhouse but you are barely old enough for Doraemon? This is for you!
This is the second game in the series and really, it's such a weird little game, kid friendly even when you are chopping off wolf heads. It's fully of remixes of horror iconography? Want to fight Dracula doing the Thriller dance (but legally distinct)? Battle a chest burster out of a teen girl but after SEVERAL MONSTERS ERUPT FROM HER CHEST, she wakes up as if from a cat nap? Fight a weird Brundlefly and then teleport to Japan? It's such a delightfully odd little game. Yeah, it's not really challenging but there's something delightful about the journey.


Let's Pock (Art @szk_tencho)
(he / his / him)
So after some thought, I would revise my NES list today to be more like this:
1) Bionic Commando
2) Mega Man 3
3) Legend of Zelda
4) Super Mario Bros. 3
5) Castlevania
6) Contra (Famicom)
7) Kirby's Adventure
8) Power Blade
9) Mega Man 2
10) Ducktales
11) Blades of Steel
12) StarTropics
13) Ice Hockey
14) Batman
15) Blaster Master
16) Metroid
17) Super Mario Bros. 2
18) Zoda's Revenge: StarTropics II
19) Gargoyle's Quest II
20) Super Mario Bros.
21) Mega Man 6
22) Akumajō Densetsu
23) Ufouria: The Saga
24) Monopoly
25) California Games
Since I never did submit a list for this one, I'm pretty sure this is what I would have turned in (yeah, I know it's top heavy on the blue boy. So what?):

  1. Mega Man 2
  2. Crystalis
  3. Mega Man 4
  4. Duck Tales
  5. Mega Man 3
  6. Mega Man 5
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project
  8. Super Mario Bros. 3
  9. Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
  10. Final Fantasy
  11. Super Mario Bros.
  12. Mega Man 6
  13. Mega Man
  14. Kirby's Adventure
  15. Final Fantasy III
  16. The Legend of Zelda
  17. StarTropics
  18. Shadowgate
  19. Tetris
  20. Nintendo World Cup
  21. Super Mario Bros. 2
  22. Snoopy's Silly Sports Spectacular
  23. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
  24. The Adventures of Lolo
  25. Dargon Quest/Warrior

Johnny Unusual


Host: @aturtledoesbite

Participants: @Positronic Brain @Lokii @Octopus Prime @BEAT @Kirin @Adam @Johnny Unusual @Destil @Gerad @Kishi @Rascally Badger @Beta Metroid (more but Idunno who)

50. Anguirus

49. Monster Party

48. Jiang-Shi

47. Sphinx

46. Snorlax

45. Brundlefly

44. Jaws

43. The King in Yellow

42. Giygas

41. Hulk

40. Zoidberg

39. Skeletons

40. Malboro

39. Dragons

38. Kaiju

37. Grover

36. Cerberus

35. Jörmungandr

34. Kraken

33. The Thing (Marvel)

32. The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man

31. Balrog

30. Ghosts

29. Papyrus and Sans

28. Medusa

27. Sweetums

26. MechaGodzilla

25. Audrey II

24. Ridley

23. Gamera

22. The Colossi

21. The Mummy

20. Death

19. King Kong

18. The Hulk again

17. Otchi

16. Gremlins

15. Scene missing

14. The Thing (John Carpenter Movie)

13. Werewolf

12. Metroid

11. Cthulhu

10. BEAT

9. Man

8. King Ghidorah

7. Tonberry

6. Dracula

5. Slime

4. Cookie Monster

3. The Xenomorph

2. Frankenstein's Monster

1. Godzilla

Monsters was another great list and frankly most of the final results hold up pretty well, even with more monsters being introduced into the pop culture zeitgeist since. Like any good list, it is a nice mix from across pop culture from the heroic (Hulk, the Thing) to the terrifying (The Xenomorph, the Thing). This is also one of the first cases where the list took a fair amount of time. Far from the longest a list has taken (we still have two lists we are waiting to see finished. One day…), this lasted about three and a half months but the biggest shock was the gulf between #2 and #1; over a month! And what ever could the it be, something so unexpected oh it’s Godzilla.


The other surprising thing is how many ties there are early on in the list. I find we don’t get a lot of “only on one list” even now when our numbers are kind of low. This is probably part of what inspired the new point system of using 35 instead of 25 for #1. But it’s still a fantastic list and it was a lot of fun. I never It was a lot of fun to have BEAT include some goofy takes on monsters. Down the line, I do hope we get some lists from specific monster types. A vampire list would be fun.

What monsters would you love to see that didn’t make the original list?

Johnny Unusual

The Mutant Bear


Coming up with an original monster is hard. Even a lot of the classic monsters are just mash ups of existing animals. So is this. But this one is also so much more unsettling. The mutant bear appears in the film Annihilation, where a section of Earth is enveloped in The Shimmer, a strange field that is having a strange affect the world around it. As the main characters investigate it, it becomes clear that genetics and even matter is sort of getting mixed up with a weird entropic effect. The cleverness of the movie is how this isn’t just an evil force, it’s a natural one and as scary as it is, it often can be weirdly beautiful.


But the Mutant Bear is terrifying. Yes, it looks scary. But it’s methods are even moreso. It can imitate a human voice before striking but even worse, specific human voices. Someone it’s killed. Do they become part of the bear? It seems to only imitate a sense of fear and as one character points out, it’s scary to imagine that mortal terror is the last thing of you left in this world, in the voice of a deranged giant animal.


It hurts me to think to the creatures I’m forgetting, there are a lot of good ones but I feel like even though it isn’t central to the movie and doesn’t really get a name, the Mutant Bear is such a weird, striking film monster that it will live in people’s heads. It’s not just that it’s a messed up bear, though that is scary, but a reminder of the scary aspects of the shimmer; that the totality of our being isn’t sacred and that we might be mixed up with a monster and the parts left behind are so deeply… sad and tragic.

CW: Gore



Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
the Mutant Bear is such a weird, striking film monster that it will live in people’s heads.
I feel compelled to note here that the mutant bear is basically lifted wholesale from Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, where it is a creature known as the "alzabo", and it is just as weird, striking, and memorable there. Like, to the point that if I was running a list and there were votes submitted for each, I would merge them. I don't know if the makers of the film have ever come out and said "We put in an alzabo", but they did. The chapters in BotNS in which a single alzabo stalks the denizens of an isolated farmhouse are some of the most baller words ever put to pen.
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Johnny Unusual

My original list...

1. The Hulk
2. Frankenstein’s Monster (AKA Frankenstein)
3. Gremlins (the film versions specifically but I won’t object if you lump them in with other versions)
4. Rat Creatures (Bone)
5. Cookie Monster
6. The Thing (John Carpenter)
7. Sweetums
8. Swamp Thing
9. Godzilla
10. Brundlefly
11. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
12. Man-Thing
13. Ultros (Final Fantasy III/VI)
14. The Pale Man
15. Clayface
16. Gossamer (Looney Tunes)
17. Xenomorph
18. Zombies
19. Herman Munster
20. Werewolves
21. The Weeping Angels
22. The Jabberwock(y)
23. The Isz (the Maxx)
24. The Thing (Ben Grimm)
25. The Corinthian (Sandman)

Kind of bummed that Gossamer from Looney Tunes didn't make the list. Big furry monster? Great. Put him in sneakers for no reason? Even better.

I don't like when they give him an open mouth, though. It's OK for screaming but that's it.

Speaking of wholesale stealing, the Weeping Angels are basically just Boo from Super Mario but they are monsters with a really fun mechanic.

The Isz are just Gremlin balls. Still great though.



I did not watch the Mutant Bear clip because I'm a giant baby, but that is so different from how I imagined it when reading the book. Great monster design though, I like it.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
I assumed the Scare Bear was the scientist who ran out of the shed and then the Shinmer caught up with her and she was stuck midway transforming into a bear with the only sounds she was able to make being her own cries for help shifting into bear roars. But I guess that doesn’t sync up with the movies timeline

Not sure which is better but neither option were good.


Summon for hire
I must've not seen New Who yet when I made my list for this, or I probably would've included Weeping Angels and maybe a few other Who monsters as well.

Johnny Unusual

Animated Movies

Host: Double Dracula

Participants: @madhair60 @Red Hedgehog @RT-55J @Octopus Prime @Rascally Badger @Johnny Unusual @Caithness @Kirin @aturtledoesbite @Büge @Purple @Conchobar @Gerad @q 3 @ASandoval @BEAT @Raven @JBear @Lokii @DemoWeasel @Bongo @Daikaiju @Yimothy

50. Anatasia

49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

48. Whisper of the Heart

47. Tokyo Godfathers

46. Shrek

45. Mindgame

44. Coraline

43. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

42. Big Hero 6

41. How to Train Your Dragon

40. Transformers: The Movie

39. Paprika

38. Toy Story

37. Pinocchio

36. Les Triplettes De Belleville

35. Lilo & Stitch

34. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

33. Frozen

32. The Sword in the Stone

31. Persepolis

30. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

29. Fantastic Mr. Fox

28. The Little Mermaid

27. Kiki's Delivery Service

26. The Nightmare Before Christmas

25. Princess Mononoke

24. Akira

23. Robin Hood

22. Metropolis

21. Bambi

20. Ratatoiulle

19. Castle in the Sky

18. Inside Out

17. The Castle of Cogliastro

16. Toy Story 3

15. Wreck-It Ralph

14. My Neighbor Totoro

13. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

12. Grave of the Fireflies

11. Porco Rosso

10. Up

9. Aladdin

8. Beauty and the Beast

7. The Lion King

6. Spirited Away

5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

4. The Incredibles

3. Fantasia

2. The Iron Giant

1. Wall-e

This is a list I don’t remember as well as some of the others but I do mostly like the shake out. I love animated films and I feel like as much as I like my list, I feel like my list would be a lot different today. I have seen Mindgame and it was really good but I also feel like I need to let any potential movie that while it looked gorgeous, I didn’t like the first act much. When the film really slows down, that’s when I started loving it and then gets to a eye/brain melting finale that feels like the sort of excess you expect from a shounen action series where the action and drama heightens to an extend beyond operatic into cosmic.

I’m honestly shocked at a bit of the turn out and some of it I’m side eyeing. There were a lot of participants but I cannot believe that the Lego Movie didn’t place seeing it was on four lists and high on two of them. But I also think we were doing math a bit differently then. I feel like Lego Movie might not place as highly now because while I still think it is well regarded, I feel like the attempt to recapture the magic left people cold (the Batman Movie is supposedly good, though not as good but people were “bleh” on the Ninjago Movie and I feel like the Lego Movie sequel came and went and no one cared.) I also think that some other Lord and Miller films would overtake it.

A more pleasant surprise is the high ranking of Fantasia, a film made up of mini-narratives set to music and in a couple cases some of the more avant garde Disney stuff to my recollection. The films of Miyazaki ranked pretty highly in general so if we did have a redo, it would be interesting to see where The Boy and the Heron ranked. I still need to see Persopolis. I really like that comic and the animation looked really good for that film.

Interestingly enough, had I been participating in this lists at this point, this film would have placed. I'm still kind of befuddled that none if the 80s Bluth films placed while Anastasia was the sole representative of his catalogue (I watched it last week. It was... fine, I guess). Anyways, the story centers around the widowed Mrs. Brisby (named Frisby in the book but I can kind of see why they changed it for the movie) and her family, the youngest of whom is sick. This would normally not be too much of an ordeal, but Brisby lives in a field on a farm, and planting season is imminent, which means she and all the other critters must move before the plow destroys their homes. What ensues is a journey to move her house wherein she encounters everything from giant owls to the politics of rats and the results of experiments by the U.S. government. It's all held together with concise backstory and tight pacing, and it's yet another example of the kids movies of the 80s that knew it was okay for children to be scared sometimes. It's Don Bluth's best work and, for my money, one of the greatest animated films of all time.

I would have had it at #2, with Spirited Away at #1.


the kids movies of the 80s that knew it was okay for children to be scared sometimes
I think about the scene where they're injected with the stuff and hallucinate quite often. Really stuck with me.

As for Anastasia, "Once Upon a December" was sung constantly throughout my high school. That song just really stuck with people.

Johnny Unusual

My original list

1. Up
2. Toy Story 3
3. Wall-E
4. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - The first movie on the list that doesn't make me weep like a small child. But it is tremendously fun and I was sort of surprised by the lukewarm reception when it came to theatres. I was suddenly invited to a morning show with some friends and while I expected it to be fun, I was surprised exactly how much fun it was. Great writing (I am a pretty unabashed fan of Edgar Wright and Stephen Moffat) and though it is his only animated film, Steven Spielberg did an amazing job. Also, I feel that the film broke the uncanny valley code that films like the Robert Zemeckis animated films suffer from, thanks to the weird mix of reality and staying true to the physical features of Herge's comic.
5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
6. Ratatouille
7. The Lego Movie - Really? No? Huh. OK. This one proved to be better than it had any right to be and managed to say something about the creative process, messed with the "chosen one" cliche in just the right way and found a middle ground in the age old lego debate of "Follow the Instructions" and "Do Your Own Thing".
8. The Triplets of Belleville (AKA Belleville Rendevouz)
9. The Iron Giant
10. Princess Mononoke
11. Wreck-It Ralph
12. How to Train Your Dragon
13. Yellow Submarine - This one's pretty damned cool. Check it out if you have the chance.
14. The Incredibles
15. Toy Story 2
16. Tangled
17. Fantastic Mr. Fox - Clearly, all of Wes Anderson's movies were meant to be animated.
18. Brave
19. Frozen
20. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
21. Castle of Cagliostro
22. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - This one I get more than the Lego Movie, but it is pretty damned funny.
23. The Emperor’s New Groove
24. Lilo & Stitch
25. Alice in Wonderland
I think that my list would look different today. I think Yellow Submarine, the Incredibles, Toy Story 2 (this one for sure, on rewatch it might be the weakest despite having one of the most heartwrenching individual segments), Lilo and Stitch, Wreck-It Ralph, The Emperor's New Groove, Batman and Alice and Wonderland would drop right off. I still like a lot of these films but I feel like I've gotten to re-evaluate some and have both seen better films since (new and old). The list has reminded me I do need to rewatch Yellow Submarine (though I don't know if it would make it on my list, it's a good looking film) and The Triplets of Belleville. I think a few more anime films would make my list, including one I'll talk about a little later...

Johnny Unusual

Perfect Blue
Mima Kirigoe is a pop idol who has decided to quit in favour of becoming an actress but after filming a particularly traumatizing scene in the TV serial she's working on, she is facing great distress. To compound this problem, she's also made the mistake of becoming obsessed with a website called "Mima's Room", featuring a fictionalized diary of her life in great and eerily accurate detail. As her tumultuous transition is met with increasing stress, a murders begin to occur around her and she starts to wonder if she's the killer with dissosiative personality disorder, just like the twist ending of the TV show she's on. Soon, the lines of reality and fantasy blur and someone is closing in on her. But is that someone herself or is something else going on.

Originally set to be a cheap OAV (a downgrade from an attempt to make the source novel a live action film), the film somehow surprised everyone not only by getting a theatrical release but playing very well overseas. Despite elements from the novel, it was apparently quite different, changed a lot due to director Satoshi Kon's disinterest in idols and horror. This amuses me because I think it works as a great horror story that also says a lot about what women in the entertainment industry have to endure; being convinced to film scenes that put them in upsetting positions, having fans to try to lock them into one space and possess them, a completely toxic online discourse (in 1997, no less). I am so glad this and Mindgame finally made it to Shudder so I could watch and embrace both of them.
Perfect Blue was a film I put off watching for a long time and it was only this year that I finally watched it. It is a truly creepy, strange psychological thriller with a wild climax that make the choice to make it an animated film rather than a live action make more sense. The film also became an inspiration for one scene in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream and... pretty much all of Black Swan's arc. I will say it is a film with some content warnings, particularly with (to get meta) depictions of depictions of sexual assault that is pretty harrowing. But it is also a smart and satisfying film that deals with exploitation of women from various forces. Satoshi Kon is a creator I've long heard about but never really made it a point to watch his films but this one definitely wanted to make me see more.​