Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Horror Movie Poster Project Pt. 1

October 2, 2021

This week’s prompt is: Horror Movies Based on Eighties Song Titles

Malignant (2021)

October 1, 2021

I do not recall having an imaginary friend as a kid. Of course, I never felt like I really needed one. I was never lonely as a kid and, in fact, I was just the opposite. I was born with social anxiety and generalized anxiety so I did not really need another person in my face. The closest I came were the characters that I invented almost daily. I did not interact with them but I imagined all of the cool things they would do. I came up with a lot of original superheroes. I often imagined myself as these superheroes with fantastic skills, abilities, and powers. The power of the imagination is very powerful. I could have sworn that I could see the things that I imagined and still can visualize things so hard that they can seem real for a moment. If you mix that kind of power with horror, things get messy.

Director James Wan has certainly made a name for himself. He has made himself one of the hardest working people in Hollywood and television. He stays mostly in the genres of action and horror. He first came to my notice by creating the Saw franchise. While torture porn has never really been my cup of tea, I appreciated the mysteries the franchise puts forward. He also created some very interesting characters. I next came to know James Wan through Furious 7, the seventh Fast and Furious movie. He really keyed in on the combination of ridiculous visuals and fun characters from that franchise. For my Halloween 2019 event, I watched Dead Silence which was a very underrated horror film. I was not such a fan of his Insidious but I liked the world-building he was trying to do. Finally, I am getting ready to dip back into the Conjuringverse.

The first thing I noticed was the extremely sharp production design which I have come to expect from Wan. The movie plays a lot with shadow and light, making every shot very interesting. The house setting in partcular is very cool to look at, reminding me a bit of both the Exorcist house and the Amityville house in different ways. The house looks both creepy and inviting. The camera work is absolutely spot on as it feels like its own separate character without being obtrusive. it gets everything in the shot but stays dynamic and adds to the tension. There are some really trippy special effects in the movie that are more terrifying looking than any gore. Speaking of gore, there is quite a bit of it but it looks really good.

The acting was really good. Annabelle Wallis is great as a beleaguered woman whose world is turned upside down. She does such a good job at playing that classic horror character of a person whose nerves are slowly fraying. Maddie Hasson is great as the wide-eyed, plucky sister who is great at lightening the mood. George Young, Michole Briana White, and Ingrid Bisu are fun as the incredulous cops assigned to the case. There is more but I do not want to give too much away. Suffice it to say there is some really creepy acting in the movie. The music ends up really backing the acting and helping to ratchet up the attention. It all lends to an extremely creepy atmosphere that still felt up-tempo and fun.

Overall, I really liked this movie. It clipped along at a great pace and never felt boring. In fact, just the opposite. It was absolutely fascinating from opening credits to closing credits. The movie had a very interesting plot with a bit of mystery to it that felt innovative. The movie ends up being very trippy and wild and exciting. Even without seeing the Conjuring movies, I hope that Wan does this kind of movie from now on. I recommend this movie.

Media Update 9/30/21

September 30, 2021

Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark

I religiously read these books by Alvin Schwartz who drew heavily on folklore and old stories. What really made the books scarier were the illustrations done by Stephen Gammell. This movie is a pastiche of a lot of the stories as a group of teenagers are confronted by a witch who plagues them with scary stories that come true. We get bits and pieces of stories from all three books. Some stories overlap and blend together to create a new twist on old stories while staying true to the original tone. Child actors Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, and Austin Zajur have a lot of good chemistry with each other and are really good as the terrified victims of a curse. The designs of the monsters are basically Gammell’s illustrations come to life and they are so creepy. The movie stays true to the original books with its dark tone with a bit of redemption. I recommend this movie.

Nightbooks

This movie is about a young boy who gets captured by a witch and forced to tell her a scary story every night in what felt like a mix between a modern 1001 Nights and Hansel and Gretel. What drew me to this movie was the presence of Krysten Ritter. She was appropriately wicked and charming as the witch, a mysterious character who was too fun to watch. Child actor Winslow Fegley is very cute and plucky as the movie’s central hero. He is soon joined by child actor Lidya Jewett who is such a strong actress with a bit of attitude. The production design of the movie was so good with the design of the magical apartment and Ritter’s costumes being the high points. The movie is charming with just a handful of frights but a nice spooky Halloween tone and feel. I recommend this movie.

Scare Me

This movie could have very easily been a play. Two writers have rented separate cabins in the Catskills but the power goes out and they are bored. They get together to trade off telling each other scary stories and acting them out as well. The standout is actress Aya Cash who has such great sarcastic yet joyful energy in her performance. Josh Ruben (who also wrote and directed the movie) is really good at being grumpy yet eager to please. I also really appreciated the small part done by Chris Redd. I am fascinated that this movie did not drag at all even with most of it just being two people talking. It felt like a horror episode of Who’s Line is it Anyway? The movie is endlessly interesting and I actually would really like seeing some of the stories as movies down the line. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

KIT – Your Ghost

Amaranthe – 365

Lana Del Rey – Season of the Witch (cover)

Poppy – Time Is Up

Mashup of the Week

kjm015 – Bring Me to This Love

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Scary Stories”
I watched tons of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Titans Season 3
I watched the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark documentary

Halloween 2021

September 27, 2021

It’s that time of year again! The whole month of October is Halloween on this blog as is traditional. All posts will be Halloween-flavored.

As per usual, I will be doing 13 full reviews of horror movies. All of them are designed to be very light on spoilers. The first of these reviews will post on October 1.

All of my usual Media Update Thursday posts will be reviewing horror movies. These reviews are shorter and spoiler-free. I will be starting off on the lighter side of horror a day early on September 30 with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Nightbooks, and Scare Me.

In lieu of writing stories, I have a special art project that I am working on for Saturday posts.

Finally, I will post two reviews on Halloween. One that is new to me and one that I have seen before but have never reviewed.

I am hyped for this year’s event and I can’t wait to share what I’m already starting to watch.

Media Update 9/23/21

September 23, 2021

Vivo

Anything Lin-Manuel Miranda is involved in gets a look from me. Sony Pictures Animation has partnered with Netflix and they are really cranking out some good films. It feels like animation in general is really upping its game. This movie is about a kinkajou living in Cuba who must journey to Miami for a mission of love. Lin-Manuel plays the titular kinkajou with attitude and mad bars. He is paired for most of the movie with the delightfully energetic child actress Ynairaly Simo. Zoe Saldana plays a very sassy and smart mom. There are some great smaller bits by Michael Rooker, Brian Tyree Henry, Nicole Byer, Juan de Marcos González, and Gloria Estefan. The music is really great with a mix of Cubano, Miami, Jazz, and some newer electronic stuff. There are 11 new songs written by Miranda. I recommend this movie.

School of Rock

This movie has been on my list for a long time but recently the movie has come up a lot and it was finally time to jump on it before Halloween starts. Jack Black has always been a favorite of mine. He has so many energy that it is impossible not to get caught up in it. Here he plays a down on his luck rock guitarist who ends up as a substitute teacher. The movie is really well done and leans into Black’s wonderful chemistry with the child actors. The child actors are absolutely superb with a special shout out to Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., and Maryam Hassan. I also really liked Joan Cusack as the quirky principal. The soundtrack is really good with plenty of classic rock songs and original songs performed by Jack Black and the kids. You can definitely see both the (family friendly) influence of Tenacious D and also a lot of heart and joy. I recommend this movie.

Earwig and the Witch

I really like Studio Ghibli movies (even if Miyazaki isn’t involved) so I was interested to see a movie I had not heard of yet being released. Also, this is the studio’s very first 3D animated film. Also, also, this is directed by Goro Miyazaki who is the son of the famous aforementioned Hayao Miyazaki (one of my heroes). This movie felt like a new direction for the studio but it also had a lot of the familiar feel of Ghibli films. In this movie, a young orphan girl is adopted and thrust into the world of witches. I was not a hundred percent sold on the new 3D animation but some of it ended up being very good. Still, it is lacking something. It feels more like a Ghibli video game. The acting really made up for some of the flaws elsewhere in the movie. Taylor Paige Henderson plays the titular Earwig and is a delightful protagonist. Vanessa Marshall plays a really good antagonist reminiscent of Roald Dahl books. Dan Stevens is probably the best part of the movie as a talking cat. Finally, there’s some good rock music by Kacey Musgraves. I recommend this movie despite its flaws.

Music of the Week:

Knife Party – Centipede

The Interrupters – A Friend Like Me

ラスト・チャンス – Instant Junkie

Heist Life – 4 Devils

Mashup of the Week:

Sackie Bum – The Final September

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “One Good Song Can Change the World”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I started Titans Season 3
I started watching Slasher Season 3

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 3

September 20, 2021
  1. Bob Marley – Buffalo Soldier

When I was growing up, I never really listened to the lyrics of this song growing up because I had yet to learn history. The song’s title and lyrics make reference to the term Buffalo Soldier which was coined by Native Americans during the Indian Wars. The regiment of black US Army soldiers was given all of the difficult jobs in the military. One of those jobs was to protect colonizers from displaced Native Americans who thought that their hair looked like the pelt of a Buffalo. Marley was a fighter in his own way, fighting for the rights of black people through his music and his activism. The bouncy tune and Marley’s signature calm but forceful voice combine to create a great song.

  1. The Beach Boys – Barbara Ann

There are so many great songs to choose from when it comes to the Beach Boys. A lot of their songs were appropriately fast-paced and uptempo for me. Barbara Ann is just so much fun. The vocals have more of a layered feel as we have not only the usual vocals from the Beach Boys but also William Jan Berry from Jan and Dean (who originally performed the song). Those vocals are bouncy and cut loose and fun. There are not a lot of other instruments as the guys are mostly just jamming the vocals. The single was rushed out by the studio without the band’s knowledge to try and bolster the group’s reputation after the previous release was disappointing. Still, it gave the track a less polished feel which may be why I like it so much.

  1. Buddy Holly – Maybe Baby

My dad used to sing this to me as a kid. That is primarily why I chose this song out of all of Holly’s hits. Apart from my sentimentality, the song is really good on its own. The song is upbeat and up-tempo but somehow still allows Holly to croon out the vocals. The guitar and bass guitar parts form a really fun riff. The song has a little bit of a playfulness but definitely a bounciness that I love. This song (seeing as how I heard it as a baby) was my introduction of the genre of rockabilly. My parents taught me so much about music and how to appreciate it.

  1. Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song

I have been slowly reminded lately that Led Zeppelin is actually a good band. I think that my perception of them is constantly colored by Stairway to Heaven which I dislike so much. They have so many rocking tunes. Early on when I was a kid I was blown away that they had so many Hobbit references in their songs. I just did not get a lot of that from other bands. This song was always my favorite with its battle cry and lyrics about Viking journeys and battles, it really gets your blood pumping. The guitar riffs feel all jangly and exciting. It does not hurt that this song had such a prominent place in Thor: Ragnarok.

  1. Stevie Wonder – Uptight (Everything’s Alright)

The first thing that hits me in this song is the rhythm from the drums as they kick in. Thar rhythm continues through the song like a steady march. Then the high horns kick in. Wonder sings with an obvious joy and passion that is impossible to deny. It is interesting that this is probably the song that saved Stevie Wonder’s career. He had only two moderate hits previously and, as his voice changed, the studio was about to cut him loose. Like me, the producer for this single and the fans really liked Wonder’s new, deeper tenor and he was back on top and headed toward becoming a legend.

  1. Sam Cooke – Good Times

Probably one of Cooke’s most iconic songs (and more commercially sellable than the very important A Change Is Going to Come). As usual, Cooke’s voice is so sweet to the ear as he croons out some great lyrics. The backing instrumentals are really good at staying out of the way and letting Cooke burn things up. The song speaks of the heart and soul of what music is and what feeling good should be.

Media Update 9/16/21

September 16, 2021

Marvel What if…?

I used to love reading issues of Marvel’s What If and their multiverse. In the past few years, I have written a few myself and I have ideas for more. When I heard about this animated show, I was excited and intrigued. I was not prepared for how good this would be. This show proposes what would happen if you made minor changes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. Each episode shows the different event and takes it forward to a conclusion. The acting is done largely by the casts of the movies they draw from. For example, the first two episodes use the voice talents of Haley Atwell, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, and Karen Gillan. Other voice talents filled in for stars that could not or would not make it like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans who have retired from their roles. I was not prepared for how detailed the stories would be and how much they make me fondly remember the various movies. I recommend this show.

Reminiscence

I was wary of this movie but I saw that it was leaving HBOMax and so I jumped on it. The movie is set in a world in a future ravaged by climate change. Technology has been invented that allows people to review other people’s memories. The story is a kind of film noir detective piece heavily using that technology. Hugh Jackman is great as the grizzled memory technician who becomes an amateur detective throughout. His narration really drove home that film noir feel. I did find his character infuriating and frustrating at times but it ultimately worked. Thandiwe Newton is excellent as his wisecracking coworker and only friend. Rebecca Ferguson is really good as the femme fatale, that iconic woman who is nothing but trouble. Cliff Curtis is really good as a monstrous heavy, a villain who is complex and interesting. I recommend this movie.

Coherence

I watched this movie on a whim and I am really glad that I did. This was the kind of movie that I really have to think about and probably watch videos and read articles about to fully understand. Either that or I need to make a series of flow charts while I watch it again. The former is more likely to happen. The movie is about a group of friends who get together for a dinner party on the night that a comet is to pass closely to Earth. They are suddenly plunged into a lot of drama and intrigue stemming from their history as a group and also multiversal happenings. The movie is fascinating and mind-bending. I was not too familiar with the cast beyond Nicholas Brendon who took a darker turn than I’m used to. Emily Baldoni really stole the show as the character the movie focused on most of the time. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

seeyousoon – Faster Please

MUNA – Silk Chiffon

Rob Scallon – Slappity Slappity Slap!

8 Graves – Numb

Mashup of the Week:

espiodetv – Chop I’ve Funked

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Playing with Time”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I watched more Titans Season 2

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Love That Danhausen

September 13, 2021

Since I have been getting back into the world of pro-wrestling, I have been once again scouring YouTube for my beloved weirdos. I love good technical skill but I am a sucker for a strange gimmick. These are the performers who are often polarizing like Orange Cassidy, Abadon, Alexa Bliss, and more. One of the names that has gained a cult following online is Danhausen and for good reason. The performer (named Donovan Danhausen) has created a compelling little weirdo and the gimmick is really going places.

Not much is known about Danhausen because he is shrouded in mystery and his answers in interviews are either evasive or made up on the spot. What we do know is that he comes to the ring with his face painted like a death metal musician, spooky leather pants, and extensive tattoos. He does not have the best physique but he is definitely pretty fit. He comes off as nerdy and awkward through his movements but is definitely capable of technical wrestling. Like other comedy wrestlers, if he was not good at wrestling, he would not be as popular. People buy into the weirdness but at the end of the day, he gets things done.

Danhausen speaks in the third person and often adds ‘hausen’ at the end of words in his sentences. He speaks with an odd, high-pitched voice that his performer describes as “a mix between Conan O’Brien and Mark Hammill’s Joker”. Danhausen is entirely focused on wrestling supremacy as a means to dominate the world and get sacks of cash. Everything he does is focused on that goal. As part of that, he does not care much for other pro-wrestlers. He often gets their name wrong either through apathy or as a psychological tactic. Either way, it definitely throws people off of their game. The only wrestlers that he manages to befriend are ones that he feels will get him closer to his goals.

For example, he has recently teamed up with the French-Canadian Frankenstein PCO. The two work well together. PCO is not the brightest barbarian but he can take a lot of damage and deal just as much to opponents. Danhausen is more wily and quick and the combination is really starting to turn some heads in the Ring of Honor tag division. Teaming these two popular misfits together seems odd at first but makes a lot of sense. PCO is not much of a talker, Danhausen cannot stop talking even during matches. Danhausen sees himself as an evil mastermind and PCO does not care as long as he gets to hurt people.

Let’s run through some other parts of Danhausen’s gimmick.

NO SWEARING!

Danhausen hates it when anybody on camera with him swears. It is not that he objects to swear words but he objects to what swear words do. If somebody swears in a YouTube video or on Ring of Honor episodes, that segment might be censored or cut. That means less money for Danhausen. Danhausen may be very evil but he is also very practical. He recognizes that demonetization has become a big thing on YouTube and other platforms and he wants to prevent it from interfering with him receiving huge sacks of cash (which he strangely calls “human money”).

Teeth

Danhausen carries a jar of human teeth to the ring. Nobody is sure where Danhausen obtains these teeth but he promises that they are ethically sourced. He has claimed that some were sent to him by actor/wrestler David Arquette. He may have stolen some from other people. The teeth understandably confuse his opponents who are not expecting people to bring teeth down to the ring. When he has his opponent down, he will often pour the teeth into their mouth and then hit them so that he has effectively knocked their teeth out.

Tequila!

Danhausen admires Pee Wee Herman. Herman is a great warrior in Danhausen’s eyes because he faced down a whole bar full of bikers once by performing a dance to the song Tequila by The Champs. Danhausen has adopted this warrior song for his own use. In the middle of a match, the music may start up which prompts Danhausen to dance like Pee Wee did. However, he adds in a few kicks to his opponent as he dances.

Adaptation to Weirdness

Danhausen is able to mesh with other strange wrestlers. He has fought the eternally lazy Orange Cassidy in the past. He has the aforementioned tag team with PCO. However, on the indy scene, he had two tag teams that really showed off his strangeness. The first was with WARHORSE whose name is capitalized for good reason because he is loud and forceful. The other tag team was with queer wrestler Effy who formed the tag team Gaytanic Panic with Danhausen. Danhausen adapts really well to the gimmick of whoever he is facing and alters his gimmicks to work with the match. Here are some examples:

Media Update 9/9/21

September 9, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

I never read much of Shang-Chi in the comics. The only ones I know that I read was his appearance in 2007 run of Heroes for Hire. Honestly, I feel like a martial arts hero character works better in film than in print anyway. This is a fun fantasy/action martial arts romp as Shang-Chi returns home to China to confront his past. The titular character is played by Simu Liu who is equally good at being dramatic, a badass, and funny. He is going to be a huge star. He is joined by Awkwafina in probably her best role to date. She is allowed to show so much more range here, mixing comedy with humanity really well. Tony Chiu-Wai Leung plays the perfect damaged villain. Meng’er Zhang is great as a mysterious anti-hero character and really stole a lot of scenes. Finally, Michelle Yeoh was excellent as always and very fitting to have on board since a lot of the martial arts were obviously inspired by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I recommend this movie.

Free Guy

As soon as a Ryan Reynolds movie is announced, I know that I will be watching it. This is the story of an NPC inside of a video game who suddenly becomes self-aware. The movie had way more depth than I thought it would. Ryan Reynolds is on point as the titular character, a combination of hilarious and engaging. He is joined by Jodie Comer as a gamer with a mission. She is delightful. Joe Keery plays a computer programmer in the real world who is impossible not to like. Lil Rel plays Guy’s best friend and provides a lot of comic relief. Taika Waititi provides the movie’s villain which is basically capitalism. The movie was the most accurate portrayal of video games on film to date. It really put on display the feel of what being in a MMO is like. There were so many touches of authenticity that amazed me. I need to see it again to catch all of the gags. I recommend this movie.

Cruella

People were bagging on this movie pretty quickly because of one scene early on. However, I had heard from reliable sources that the movie is actually campy fun. It is. This tells the origin story of fashion designer and attempted puppy killer, Cruella De Vil. The movie is really engaging. Emma Stone is brilliant fun as Cruella, she really plays two different characters really well. Emma Thompson plays a perfect snooty villain. Paul Walter Hauser and Joel Fry are really good at playing buffoonish comic relief. Kirby Howell-Baptiste plays the kind young Anita. John McCrea plays a quirky artist. Predictably, the costume designs are fantastic. The movie plays like a heist film which is absolutely not what I was expecting. It was so much better than I expected. I recommend this movie.

Music of the Week:

ARCH ENEMY – You Will Know My Name

Marlowe – Lost Arts

sKitz Kraven – Locked & Loaded

Ginny Di – The Wave-Soaked Maiden

Mashup of the Week:

KajMashups – Through The WataMote And Flames

Weekly Update:
This week’s theme is “Titular Character”
I watched a ton of YouTube and Twitch
I finished watching Slasher Season 2
I watched more Titans Season 2
I watched more Batwoman Season 2

Rolling Stone Top 100 Pt. 2

September 6, 2021
  1. Jimi Hendrix – Foxy Lady

I listened to a lot of Jimi especially when I was in high school. I had a friend that played a passable cover of his version of All Along the Watchtower. My brother learned to play guitar from watching Hendrix do it. He had many fantastic songs but Foxy (or sometimes spelled Foxey) Lady has long been a favorite of mine. Part of it has to do with this song being prominently used in Wayne’s World. Most of it has to do with the song itself. It is definitely a great display of Hendrix’s wailing vocals with his unique deep voice. The guitar riff also really does it for me. It feels like a revving engine to me as it punctuates each sentence in the song. One thing that really hit me as I went back through Jimi’s catalog to make my selection is that he only had two albums to choose from. It’s still pretty tragic.

  1. James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)

Yes, I went with the cliche. This song just makes me feel good. It starts with Brown’s excited scream and then the funky horns start. The horn riff feels joyous and playful. The drums and horns really punctuate the chorus and give it the oomph it needs. James was never really easy to understand but when he recorded this one, he was clear as a bell. It may be why this is the song most used in movies, television, and commercials. As with all of his songs, James Brown sells the hell out of it with his vocals and leaves everything behind when he’s done.

  1. Little Richard – Rip It Up

Decidedly not going with the cliche this time. When I think of Little Richard, I always think of him hitting the long high notes as he leans back as he plays the piano. He put his whole body into the music even when he was just sitting at the piano which would inspire plenty of other pianists (ie Elton John). When I was going back through his catalog, this song caught my eye and I realized I had forgotten about it. This song feels like it has a little more edge to it. The bouncy instrumentals make me smile. The slightly aggressive way that he sings about having a good time after work makes me think back to times that I felt the same way. It just feels so good to be done for the day and heading out (or in my case home) to have some fun.

  1. Aretha Franklin – Think

Once again influenced by movies as Aretha’s performance of the song in Blues Brothers is electric and sassy. Aretha may have been known for Respect but she shared it with many other acts. Aretha owned this song and nobody ever came close. I also really like the lyrics better for what Aretha does with them. The way she weaves the words (especially in Blues Brothers) felt like a predecessor to rap music with the speed she’s going. Aretha’s voice has always been one of my favorites and her songs seemed to be more uptempo than some of her contemporaries. I really love the bouncy, happy rhythm as Aretha threatens her lover.

  1. Ray Charles – Hit The Road Jack

There are not as many Ray Charles songs that I like as other artists on this list. He was a great singer and piano player but his songs were more crooning than I usually listen to. In fact, my favorite song he ever did was paired up with George Jones called “I Didn’t See A Thing”. It’s just so playful and funny but it doesn’t count for this list. Hit the Road Jack is playful and feels a lot like what I think of as traditional blues. This is definitely a song that does a lot between Ray and his backup singers. Ray gets the majority of it but the back and forth really sells it. The horns are iconic and once again it is easy to guess why this song is also used a lot in film.


The Hidden Message

klaatu barada nikto

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wolfenoot.wordpress.com/

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Art, Poetry, Prose, Spirituality & Whimsy

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For lovers of reading, writing, books

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