Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

DC Comics Television and Film Wishlist

November 14, 2022

Since the announcement that James Gunn and Peter Safran were taking over as heads of DC Comics Film and Television, I have been more optimistic about what might be coming down the line. I decided to put together a little wishlist in no particular order of projects they could work on. The last time I did this, I apparently wished She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and Hawkeye into existence so my fingers are crossed. Some of these are repeats but with a different twist.

1. Birds of Prey 2 and/or Harley Quinn 2

I loved the Birds of Prey movie produced by Margot Robbie and directed by Cathy Yan. The movie was a roller coaster from start to finish. While Warner Brothers’ marketing would feel the need to change the name to Harley Quin: Birds of Prey, the movie introduced a lot of cool versions of classic characters. It is an absolute crime that this is not already a franchise. I would love to continue the madcap adventures of Harley. I like the idea of her flitting in and out of other people’s stories and there are a ton of heroes and villains she can mess with. I also want to see the continuing adventures of Black Canary, Renee Montoya, and Huntress. They could go on a lot of adventures together and there is a wealth of Birds of Prey comics to draw on. These actresses deserve better than being pushed aside for the Snyderverse.

2. Sandman Mystery Theater (TV Show)

Now that we have seen the success of the Netflix version of Sandman, it would be cool to see some of the possible offshoots and spinoffs connected to that world. One character that I have loved since I first read the above-titled comic is Wesley Dodds who was also known as the Sandman. Dodds was a wealthy eccentric who is haunted by strangely prophetic nightmares about the crime happening in his city. He would don a World War 1 style gas mask, three-piece suit, and trenchcoat. He uses some gadgets and traditional detective work to determine the truth of the crime. He carries a gas gun that ejects a sleeping gas or a gas that causes delirium and uninhibited truth from the subject. He fought the symptoms of societal problems like racism, nazism, classism, and mental illness. He did not kill. He was aided by Dian Belmont, the socialite daughter of the District of Attorney who used her connections and the fact that she was a woman to hear things to help Sandman save the day.

3. Batwoman (Season 4)

I have been thinking about this show lately since I watched the last episode produced. The show was canceled along with all of the other Arrowverse shows which are in the process of wrapping up. This show got a lot of initial buzz when Ruby Rose was cast as Batwoman, Kate Kane. The show had a compelling story and created a really neat world with excellent characters. When Ruby Rose quit the show, the showrunners decided to replace her instead of just trashing the whole thing. This ended up being the best thing to happen to the show. They introduced the new character of Ryan Wilder. They were able to keep a lot of what made the first season work including the return of the villainous Alice (Kate’s sister) who stole every scene she was in. I feel like the change also shook up the cast a bit and allowed characters Luke Fox and Mary Hamilton to step into the foreground. The third season saw Batwoman face down her own demons along with the legacy of Batman, finally realizing who and what she is. The show ends on a cliffhanger and there was so much more to explore.

4. Green Arrow: Supermax

This is an idea that has been kicking around since the mid-nineties on various film rumor sites and apparently, at least one script was written. The idea is that Green Arrow is framed for a crime he did not commit and is sent to a prison designed to hold supervillains. If he is to survive, he will have to fight through some of DC Comics’ criminals and law enforcement. I think the idea was that he would also team up with some anti-heroes. There are so many possibilities of who Green Arrow would fight or team up with inside the prison. The setting would allow the blending of a lot of franchises within DC Comics. I feel like one of the reasons that the movie was never made was that mainstream folks did not know who Green Arrow is. With the success of the Arrowverse, that has changed. It is time to pull out an old idea and dust it off.

5. The Outsiders (TV Show)

This is a variation of an idea that I have had for some time now. The Outsiders is a DC Comics team that has had several different lineups. The team is most linked with Batman who started the team as a more covert alternative to the Justice League. There have been versions without Batman at all. My favorite was actually co-led by Nightwing and Arsenal. This would be a different idea. This would be Batman forming a team of young heroes who all have the burden of having at least one villainous parent. The idea would be that all of them somewhat share an understanding and similar motivations for heroics. The core team would be Spoiler (Stephanie Brown), Robin (Damian Wayne), Enigma (Evelyn Nashton), Orphan (Cassandra Cain), and Ravager (Rose Walker). There are plenty of other characters who could slide in and out of the show. I would think it would be best for this to be animated.

6. The Question (TV Show)

I always loved the character of the Question as soon as I was introduced to him. He is a throwback sort of hero similar to “mystery men” like Sandman (see above), Crimson Avenger, and Vigillante. The character is a detective who wears a blank face mask and a color-changing suit. The character of Rorschach in Watchmen was based on him. However, unlike Rorschach, he is a character who is more likable and his politics are much easier to stomach. He is also a hero, operating in the shadows. A detective show is always a win for me, especially if the detective is not a cop. Also, he eventually recruited cop Renee Montoya to be his successor. The idea of a show where a cop is slowly shown the right way sounds great to me. While we are rebooting it, we could also remove more of Steve Ditko’s objectivist leanings.

7. Suicide Squad (TV Show)

I feel like this idea is a no-brainer especially since one of the new heads of DC Film and Television revived the franchise on the big screen. I feel like there are several more Suicide Squad movies that can happen but there are also smaller stories that can be told as well. The Suicide Squad is a great repository of B and C list villains where we get to explore who and what they are. It is also a great way to refurbish and fluff up villains before they are in a movie or continue their story after they have been in a movie. The Peacemaker show was successful. I feel like there is more meat on that bone.

8. Catwoman: The Heist (TV Show or Movie Series)

I watched the movie Catwoman: Hunted earlier this year and I loved it. It felt like somebody put Lupin III and DC Comics into a blender and hit frappe. I would love to see more of this charming world. The series would pick up where the original movie left off with Selina Kyle aka Catwoman having her own agenda as a world-renowned thief and less renowned fighter for the rights of the weak. She would work with and/or manipulate her relationship with Batwoman, Julia Pennyworth, and King Faraday to steal valuables, fight injustice, or both at the same time. The series would continue the International feel of the original with the team showing up anywhere on the globe to fight familiar faces and more obscure foes.

9. The Shadowpact

This is a little bit of a deep cut but I really liked this team when they briefly got the spotlight in DC’s Day of Vengeance storyline. They are all supernatural heroes who banded together by chance but stuck together because they felt like family. The lineup originally consisted of Detective Chimp, Blue Devil, Nightmaster, Enchantress, Nightshade, and Ragman. The group is full of has-beens and never-weres. Still, they are all experts in their own areas. For example, Detective Chimp is possibly the world’s second greatest detective (after Batman). The team operates out of the Oblivion Bar, a bar that exists outside of our known dimension. The bar is frequented by every supernatural creature you can think of. I feel like they could provide an interesting story that has not been told yet.

10. Justice League International

Or whatever you want to call it. The point is, I would love them to capture some of the fun from the Justice League International days that was specifically carried over into Formerly Known as the Justice League. That title was full of superheroics but its real strength was its goofy humor and witty banter. The series saw the reformed Maxwell Lord build a new team called the Super Buddies made up of Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, Mary Marvel, Captain Atom, Fire, and Power Girl. It feels like Always Sunny in Philadelphia and DC comics had a baby. In the end, they are heroes but they are going to be very snarky about it. This would be a great antidote to the grimdark reputation that Snyder left behind.

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The References of The Final Girls (2017) Pt. 1

October 22, 2022

I previously reviewed The Final Girls (2017) and I have since watched it with friends. The movie has so many references that we could not help but shout some of them out during the movie. I thought it would be fun to catalog some of them since most trivia sites only scratch the surface or say that there are a lot of references. I suggest that you watch the movie since it is available on a lot of streaming platforms.


Sucked into a Movie:

The Final Girls (2015): 

During a theater fire, Max and her friends choose to cut through the movie screen to escape toward the back exit when the regular exits get blocked. Somehow, cutting through the screen breaches the fictional world of Camp Bloodbath and puts real-world people in the narrative of the movie. The actual mechanism is never really explained.

Other Movies:

Last Action Hero (1995): 

Young movie enthusiast Danny Madigan is given a magical ticket once owned by Houdini by projectionist Nick. As he watches his hero Jack Slater on film, the movie starts to come to life. An errant bundle of lit dynamite comes out of the movie and as Danny tries to run away, the explosion launches him through the screen and into the world of the Jack Slater movies. While in the movie world, Danny is subject to the narrative rules of action movies.

Nightmare on Elm Street 4 (1988): 

Dream Warrior Alice Johnson is drawn to a movie theater within her dream where she is sucked through the screen into a post-apocalyptic version of Springwood, Ohio and a blown-out Crave Inn diner. There, she is taunted by Freddy who can reach her friends through her. Freddy sends her back into the real world partly to play with his food and also to have her infect more victims.

Vans and Hitchhikers:

The Final Girls (2015):

When stranded on the side of the road after being transported into the movie, <> and her friends are forced to hitch a ride with the movie characters in their Volkswagen van in order to continue the narrative in hopes of escaping the film. The movie characters are happy to pick them up and are travelling together to the camp.

Other Movies:

Friday the 13th Part III (1982):

Chris Higgins and her friends drive to her family’s home in Higgins Haven which is on Crystal Lake for a fun summer retreat. The vehicle is full of pot smoke from a pair of stoner friends. (A Dodge van by the way)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): 

Sally Hardesty, her brother, and friends travel in a van to visit the Hardesty Estate in Texas when they helpfully pick up a hitchhiker named Nubbins Sawyer who is also looking for victims for Leatherface and the rest of the Sawyer family. He creeps them out and they push him out of the van once he attacks one of them with a straight razor. (A Ford)

Scooby Doo Where Are You (1969): 

Yes, this is a television show but happy-go-lucky kids in a van in a horror movie was a staple of the show and franchise. Mystery Inc. drives everywhere in their van The Mystery Machine. Anywhere they stop is bound to be haunted. (Either Dodge or Chevrolet)

Getting Ready for Camp

The Final Girls (2015): 

The cast of counselors at Camp Bloodbath arrived before the campers to prepare the camp. Of course, with Max and her friends arriving there are way too many counselors. The camp is not that big.

Other Movies:

Friday the 13th (1980):

The counselors arrive before the campers to refurbish the cabins. The town shuns the counselors or the very idea that Camp Crystal Lake could come back. The isolated location makes the counselors easy pickings.

Friday the 13th Part II (1981): 

In this one, Paul Holt sets up a school for camp counselors on the shore of Crystal Lake. This once again allows for a plot where there are camp counselors without campers.

Flashback: A prank gone wrong

The Final Girls (2017): 

Whenever anybody tells the story about Billy, Max and her friends are transported into a flashback of a normal day at Camp Bloodbath that shows how Billy was bullied by the other campers without mercy. In a clear example of when jokes go too far, he is locked in an outhouse while fireworks are lit and tossed in. The maimed Billy dons a mask and eventually starts killing those at the camp.

Other Movies:

The Burning (1981): Cropsy was the alcoholic caretaker at Camp Blackfoot. A couple of campers prank him by putting a wormy skull prop with candles in its eye sockets next to his bed in the night. He freaks out and knocks the lit prop onto his bed and then he knocks over a gas can onto the fire with his thrashing. Later, the severely burned man stalks the counselors who were the campers that pranked him.

Freddy vs. Jason (2003): Freddy Krueger brings Lori Campbell into Jason Voorhees’ nightmare about his death. Lori is actually standing in Camp Crystal Lake and is able to watch as Jason is bullied into the water and drowns.

Hatchet (2006): Victor Crowley is a young deformed man who is mercilessly teased by locals. One night, a few of those kids throw fireworks into Victor’s house. In the ensuing chaos of the fire, Victor and his father are killed. Victor later comes back to stalk people in the woods.

My Favorite Horror Villain

October 15, 2022

Candyman (Candyman 1 through 3, Candyman 2021)  – The spirit of a wronged man who will take vengeance on society.

The Fisherman (I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise) – A man who is nearly killed by a group of teens tries to stalk and kill all of them.

Lord Summerisle (The Wicker Man) – The leader and manipulator of an isolated pagan community on an island off of the United Kingdom.

Leland Gaunt (Needful Things) – A demon who manipulates people by giving them their heart’s desire but taking their souls.

Damien (The Omen franchise) – The son of Satan and the antichrist, born to take over the Earth.

The Blair Witch (The Blair Witch Project) – The ghost of a witch out in Western Maryland who possesses those who seek her out.

Angela Baker (Sleepaway Camp 1 through 3) – A summer camper driven crazy by body dysphoria and trauma to become a serial killer.

Tiffany Valentine (Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, Curse of Chucky, Cult of Chucky)  – The serial killer girlfriend of serial killer Charles Lee Ray. She and Chucky were turned into killer dolls.

Count Orlok (Nosferatu) – One of the original horror villains. A reclusive vampire count with a thirst for blood.

Jerry Dandridge (Fright Night) – A dapper vampire with a habit of playing with his food.

Ghostface (The Scream franchise) – One of many killers who taunts their victims and kills based on the “rules” of horror.

Gabriel May (Malignant)  – The psychic twin of the hapless Emily who is upset at what the doctors did to him.

Mary Lou Mahoney (Prom Night 2 and 3) – The vengeful ghost of a prom queen turned into a powerful succubus.

Stitches the Clown (Stitches) – An undead clown out for revenge against the little shits who accidentally killed him.

Seth Brundle (The Fly) – A scientist who accidentally merged his cells with that of a housefly, triggering a terrifying transformation.

Dr. Edward Pretorius (From Beyond) – A sadistic mad scientist who has been merged with an otherworldly creature to become as monstrous outside as he was inside.

The Hitcher (The Hitcher) – A sociopathic hitchhiker who terrorizes those who pick him up by torturing and killing.

The Collector (The Collector, The Collection) – An expert kidnapper and creator of intricate traps that kill all who might escape or interfere with his collection

Art the Clown (All Hallow’s Eve, Terrifier 1 and 2) – An absolutely silent clown who murders people indiscriminately.

Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) – A sociopathic daytrader whose desire for status and excess lead him to bloody ends.

Killjoy the Clown (Killjoy, Killjoy 2, Killjoy 3, Killjoy in Hell, Killjoy Psycho Circus) – A demonic clown often summoned in vengeance rituals.

Evil Ash (Army of Darkness)  – The undead mystical clone of the prophecizsed hero Ashley Williams.

Billy Murphy (The Final Girls) – A young man who was the victim of a cruel prank gone too far who is disfigured and now kills anybody who has sex.

Jennifer Check (Jennifer’s Body) – A demon in the body of a hot high school girl who is out to take revenge on all of the men in her life.

Pennywise/ IT (IT Chapters 1 and 2) – An eldritch entity that feeds on the fears of the lost and tortured and especially children.

Krampus (Krampus) – The anti-Santa Claus, a demon who punishes the naughty at Christmas.

Paimon (Hereditary) – One of the nine kings of Hell who seeks dominion on Earth in a human body.

Annabelle (The Conjuring and Annabelle franchises) – A doll inhabited by a very nasty demon.

Pamela Voorhees (Friday the 13th) – A grieving mother out for revenge against all teenage camp counselors like the ones who failed to save her son who drowned.

Jack Torrance (The Shining) – An alcoholic writer driven over the edge by the past and the ghosts around him.

The Thing (The Thing) – A creature from beyond Earth that assimilates whatever it touches.

Belial Bradley (Basket Case 1 through 3)  – A deformed creature who cooperates with his twin Duane, the formerly conjoined brothers exacting revenge on the doctors who separated them.

David Powers (The Lost Boys) – The main runner in a vampiric gang that hunts in a small tourist town.

Officer Matt Cordell (Maniac Cop 1 through 3) – The undead police officer brought back to wreak havoc across New York City.

The Beast (Poltergeist)- A powerful spirit that draws upon the energy of lost spirits to terrorize and torment the living.

Mary Shaw (Dead Silence) – An undead witch obsessed with ventriliquist puppets and getting revenge on the bloodline of a heckler.

Michael Myers/ The Shape (Halloween. All of them except for 3) – Evil in the shape of a man who stalks Haddonfield.

Pumpkinhead (Pumpkinhead 1 through 4) – A creature created for vengeance by a backwoods satanic witch.

Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise) –  A murderer and child molester who became a dream demon in death.

Horace Pinker (Shocker) – A serial killer who merges with electricity itself through the electric chair used in his execution. 

The Djinn (Wishmaster 1 through 4) – A demon who grants wishes with deadly twists and wishes to unleash Hell on Earth.

Pinhead (Every Hellraiser movie) – A demon of pain and torture who seeks to capture humans to convert them to Hell’s cause.

Richard Chapman  (Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 and 3) – The psychotic younger brother of the original killer Santa Claus who took up his brother’s mantle.

Norman Bates (The Psycho franchise) – A lonely motel proprietor who has been driven crazy by his mother.

Charles Lee Ray aka Chucky (The Child’s Play franchise) – The serial killer whose soul now inhabits a child’s doll.

Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise) – An inbred cannibalistic hillbilly with a penchant for using a chainsaw)

Sadako Yamamura (The Ringu franchise) – The ghost of a young girl who wants the world to suffer as she did.

The Babadook (The Babadook) – A spirit that preys on children and feeds off of the negative emotions of parents.

Betelgeuse (Beetlejuice) – A ghost who is a self-described “bio-exorcist” with a desire to torment the living and gain power over the living world.

Jack Frost (Jack Frost 1 and 2)  – A serial killer in the body of a snowman.

Dr. Anton Phibes (The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again)  – A disfigured doctor of music and theology who murders based on the 10 Deadly Plagues.

Jigsaw (The Saw franchise) – A man who makes deadly traps designed to teach people lessons, primarily how to be thankful for their life.

Dracula (So many Draculas) – The charming and dangerous vampire of all vampires.

Red (Us) – A subterranean dwelling doppelganger who leads a rebellion to kill people on the surface.

Sam (Trick R. Treat) – The childlike spirit of Halloween who will take vengeance on those who do not honor the holiday correctly.

Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal) – A charming psychologist turned cannibalistic serial killer who hates rude people.

The Tall Man (Phantasm 1 through 5) – A physically imposing extradimensional invader who uses dead bodies and robots to attack Earth.

Pazuzu (The Exorcist) – A grand demon who possesses an unfortunate young girl in order to walk the Earth and shatter the faith of mortals.

The Leprechaun (The Leprechaun franchise) – A magical imp with a deadly sense of humor and a wicked temper when somebody steals his gold.

Imhotep (The Mummy franchise) – An undead sorcerer cursed to walk the Earth unless he can regain his humanity.

Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th franchise) – The undead form of a neglected summer camper who now kills anybody in his territory near Crystal Lake.

Blade (The Puppet Master franchise) – A bladed puppet given life by a secret formula.

Guan Di (My Name is Bruce) – A Chinese deity out to kill the white inhabitants of a town in revenge for the deaths of Chinese railroad workers. 

Jumbo Klown (Killer Klowns from Outer Space) – One of many alien klowns who come to Earth to feed on the populace.

Top 5 Christmas Movies

December 21, 2020

I tuned in last week to watch the above video from one of my favorite YouTube channels to hear the thoughts of two of my favorite perfomers (Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara) and their guest. As with most lists of this kind, I disagreed with some of their choices. Instead of tearing their lists down, I decided to make my own. I decided to exclude a lot of what I consider joke answers to this question such as Die Hard, Batman Begins, and Gremlins. I also put Christmas Horror in a completely different boat. Also, even though I love the movie dearly, I do not think of A Nightmare Before Christmas as a Christmas movie even though it uses a lot of the assets.

  1. White Christmas

To be fair, this is the Bing Crosby Christmas movie without the blackface. I watched this with my mother a couple of years ago and we both really enjoyed it. Bing and Danny Kaye are army men who finish their tour of duty and head back to the States. They become successful performers as a singing and dancing duo. They meet up with two performing sisters played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. The four end up heading to the middle of nowhere Vermont to spend the holidays at an inn where the girls are booked to perform. However, the inn and the town are in trouble without any snow so the four of them decide to put on a show to save the day. It is an endearing story of four witty and artistic people who have such great chemistry with each other. The movie is full of great songs like “Sisters”, “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)”, and starts and ends with “White Christmas”. Bing Crosby became synonymous with Christmas and that is probably a big reason why this movie made this list.

  1. A Christmas Prince

This was the second movie that helped launch my getting back into watching Christmas movies. I chose this movie originally because it stars Rose McIver, an actress I loved so much in iZombie. In this, she stars as a reporter tasked with getting the scoop on a prince’s coronation in a foreign country obsessed with Christmas. She stumbles into a lie which gets her close to her subject but when feelings develop, she starts regretting everything. McIver really makes the movie as she is at times sarcastic, wide-eyed, clever, and just plain funny. She is paired with Ben Lamb who plays the titular role with such playful wholesomeness. His sister really steals a lot of scenes (played by Honor Kneafsey) walks the edge of what could have been an annoying character and makes it into a very smart and funny one instead. Theo Devaney is so great as the smarmy “villain”. However, the movie very well could have failed if they had not been given a really great supporting cast. The two sequels are even better though this is the one I kept coming back to.

  1. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol means a lot to me. When I worked professionally in live theater, we did the same production five years in a row and the story never got old. This is a story that I have experienced starting at a very young age and this version may have been the very first. It came out when I was nine years old at a time when I had already experienced The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Seeing these familiar characters acting out this story was truly magical. Michael Caine as Scrooge is almost the only human character and that made it feel like an extended episode of The Muppet Show. Caine acts so earnestly in the movie and always reacts to the Muppets as if they were fellow performers which, in a sense, they were. The movie adheres to the original story very well but also adds in much needed laughs along with what is essentially a Christmas ghost story. The movie is also a musical which helps to keep the story bouncing along in what can be a very long-winded story. This was absolutely a marriage of three things I have loved since I was a kid: The Muppets, Horror, and Christmas.

  1. Klaus

I am a sucker for Santa Claus lore because I have been fascinated with (ahem) research about the man, the myth, the legend. This movie is a throwback to the more traditional two-dimensional animation comparable to the Disney Rennaisance period. It utilizes 2D drawings with a new 3D lighting software design which really produces a breathtakingly beautiful movie. The story follows a young mailman-in-training who is sent to an island town to reopen their post office. In order to do that, he befriends a hermit in the woods and basically invents the man we know and love. The movie is such a touching portrayal of a world similar to ours but with some invented politics and geography. It is also wildly funny at the same time. Jason Scwartzman plays the excitable Jesper, a young screw up who now has to make good. JK Simmons plays the titular character, an emotionally wounded man who just wants to make good. Rashida Jones plays the clever school teacher who gets sucked up into the madness. Joan Cusack and Will Sasso play the heads of two feuding families that has absolutely destroyed the town. Norm Macdonald basically plays his usual sarcastic self. The production also involved actual Sámi people with authentic Sámi language in a very touching manner.

  1. The Christmas Chronicles

This movie absolutely caught me off guard. It felt like an entirely different kind of Santa Claus tale which managed to shine a spotlight on Santa while making him a supporting character in his own movie. The movie follows two kids played by Darby Camp and Judah Lewis. They are a brother and sister who have grown apart due to the death of their father. Lewis plays a teenager who has grown cynical too early and is annoyed by Camp’s optimistic and sunny character. A chance run-in with Santa Claus sets the two on a whirlwind adventure that will teach them about themselves and realign both of them on the right path in life. Santa is played by Kurt Russell and it is the coolest portrayal that has ever appeared in a movie previously. This is a Rock and Roll Santa who absolutely loves his job. The lore building that they created in this was absolutely a draw for me. They explained a lot of the Santa stories without explaining too much or getting too detailed. The spotlight remains on the two kids as they learn together and separately the true meaning of Christmas. The movie is an exciting rollercoaster from start to finish while still allowing for a lot of heartwarming moments that directly confront the dysfunctionality and bonds of family.

Honorable Mentions:
The Year Without a Santa Claus
The Knight Before Christmas
Shop Around the Corner
Let It Snow

Movies I Enjoyed in 2019

January 6, 2020

I know that we are nearly a week into 2020 but I felt like doing a wrap up of the year in movies in 2019 since we are headed into awards season. These are only the movies that I saw that I really liked. I did not feel the need to make a top 11 list because, honestly, I would be compelled to write a lot for each entry and I have already written about pretty much everything I have seen in 2019 (and will continue to write about what I see in 2020). As such, these are in no particular order. I also highly recommend each and every one of these movies.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I had a lot of fun watching this with friends. (more on Thursday) It wasn’t perfect but it was definitely enjoyable.

Child’s Play (2019)
A truly innovative remake done in an entirely different subgenre of horror. An added bonus was seeing Aubrey Plaza.

Us
Jordan Peele proved once again that he is truly a new master of horror. This movie was more of an adventure horror piece but it managed to sneak in a class warfare message.

Avengers Endgame
The perfect ending for the first era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It pushed things into a new direction that I am intrigued to keep following.,

John Wick 3
The John Wick franchise tends to pump out perfect action movies with interesting stories that don’t get in the way of the cool moments.

Spiderman Far From Home
The first step in a new decade for the MCU. The new Spiderman is so pure and I feel like it is still just getting started.

Captain Marvel
Finally, a female-led MCU movie! Brie Larson was perfect for the role and I can’t wait to see where she goes next in defiance of all the MRAs out there.

Rocketman
Elton John has led one hell of a life. This musical biopic had a lot of moments of unreality that really made me feel what was happening rather than just seeing it.

Detective Pikachu
A movie that could easily have been bad was a lot of fun with a lot of heart. It was also visually pleasing.

Aladdin (2019)
Forget the haters, this movie was a lot of fun for me. It put a new spin on a familiar favorite (my second favorite Disney movie of all time).

IT Chapter 2
I got to see this one in theaters and it was definitely worth it. Bill Hader alone made this movie so good but I liked the new take on a classic book.

Alita Battle Angel
A unique blend of CGI and live-action, this was actually one of the best anime film adaptations that I have ever seen. I want to see a sequel.

Hobbs and Shaw
A refreshing spinoff of the Fast and Furious franchise which managed to be its own thing. I love The Rock.

The Lego Movie 2
I did not think they could keep pace with the original but this franchise has defied my expectations from the start so I am a fool.

Shazam
Proof that DC movies can be good again. The movie had a lot of the goofy, fun energy that the original comics had with a modern sheen.

Fighting With My Family
As a pro-wrestling fan, I loved this walk through the fabulous Paige’s career (so far).

Velvet Buzzsaw
A criminally underrated horror movie that should be seen for its psychedelic visuals alone.

Happy Death Day 2U
I did not think the first movie could be topped but this franchise hit a new gear and somehow got weirder.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Unfairly shot down because it made a serial killer “hot” this was actually an interesting personal take on a familiar news story.

Dark Phoenix
I enjoyed this movie for what it was, a close to the Fox X-Men Franchise (more on Thursday)

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
It was a meandering mess but I definitely enjoyed it for what it was.

I was able to watch only 5 out of 10 of the top 10 box office movies of 2019. Of the remaining movies that I really want to see are Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, and Jumanji 3. I have made my thoughts on Joker known. Lion King does not really interest me either.

Additionally, there are so many movies that I missed that I still want to see from 2019. Looking at the list really drove home what I did not get to see but reminds me that there is only so much time in each year. I have so much that I want to watch in this new year and it gives me joy that I will never catch up. I will never run out of good movies to see because there is still so much backlog and new movies come out every year.

Top 11 Favorite Horror Movies

November 2, 2019

I have done one of these Top 11 lists before but I have watched more movies since and I kind of did not take the last time seriously. I have talked about all of these movies previously so I will be brief. This time, to help me feel this list out, I used three categories to judge each movie. The first is “Enjoyment during the first watch”, the second is “Rewatchability”, and the last is the “Spookiness level”. All three are my personal feelings and are rated on a 1 – 5 scale.


11. Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
E: 4 – R: 5 – S: 1

This movie is not really scary at all to me because it is so silly, as the franchise got crazier as it went on. Still, I love sitting back and watching this one. It is my go-to Jason movie. A lot of Jason’s unspoken magical powers really awaken in this movie. His movie editing-based powers. This movie is basically Jason attacking a whole bunch of high school kids on a boat cruise that somehow goes from Crystal Lake to Manhattan? Sort of? Just don’t think about it.


10. Train to Busan
E: 4 – R: 3 – S: 3

Watching this movie energized me as it is an interesting take on zombie movies with plenty of dark comedy, scares, and heart-breaking drama. It is definitely full of dread and I enjoyed it heartily but I hesitate to rewatch it because it has a lot of pathos. This movie is about people on a passenger train in Korea when they start to notice an infection spreading. If that is not scary enough, the main character is an elementary school-aged girl.


9. Terrifier
E: 4 – R: 2 – S: 5

This was another movie that surprised me as it was immediately unnerving and never let up. I do not want to give anything special away from this one. However, the plot is a couple of young ladies who are stalked by a demented clown named Art. It is not one I want to rewatch as I feel like I took it all in on the first pass.


8. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
E: 4 – R: 3 – S: 3

This movie is an anomaly which is why it probably caught me off guard. This was the first and only Halloween franchise movie without Micahel Myers. It is really spooky, full of plenty of gross-out moments and also horrible terror and dread. The story here is that an evil businessman is going to use the holiday of Halloween itself to exact his revenge on the world and bring about a brand new age.


7. Us
E: 5 – R: 4 – S: 3

This one is still fresh in my mind and I absolutely adore it for its character design and the ideas behind it. You have probably seen the trailers, it is about a family that meets their doppelgangers and all hell breaks loose. I enjoyed it from bell to bell and I really do want to watch it again to see if I can catch more details. It radiates with dread.


6. The Thing (1982)
E: 4 – R: 3 – S: 5

This movie is infinitely rewatchable because of the interesting characters and the tense interactions between them. It was an interesting idea when the first movie in 1951 first explored it but John Carpenter took it to the next level. Kurt Russel and Keith David are really great but the stars of the show are the awesome special effects and the unique setting.


5. Get Out
E: 4 – R: 4 – S: 4

The movie that took the world by storm, there was no doubt that this movie would be somewhere on this list. The smart writing, interesting characters, and terrifying concept make this one that I could watch over and over. Still, I am breathing hard by the end of it. Jordan Peele is doing awesome.


4. Cabin in the Woods
E: 5 – R: 5 – S: 3

This one is a movie that I also really do not want to spoil a bit. Basically, it is a take on the usual tropes of horror movies while still churning out a scary movie. The movie is full of scares but it is the sharp comedy mixed in that makes me want to rewatch it.


3. The Shining
E: 4 – R: 5 – S: 4

A true American classic, the Shining is the pinacle of Stephen King movies. This movie is full of Stanley Kubrick’s ridiculous amounts of detail to the point that he almost made a whole new story. His dream-like imagery is something to behold. It is a terrifying story that feels like it could really happen. A writer brings his family along with him as he operates as the caretaker of a hotel during its offseason.


2. Evil Dead 2
E: 5 – R: 5 – S: 3

Speaking of comedy mixed with horror, Sam Raimi was somehow inspired by Three Stooges shorts to mix that with a classic-style horror movie. The movie’s gruesome effects and pulse-pounding visuals really kept my blood up. However, it is the endlessly charismatic Bruce Campbell who makes me keep coming back to the franchise.


1 . A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors
E: 5 – R: 5 – S: 4

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Freddy Krueger movies as the dream imagery really lends itself to absolutely terrifying moments. There are times that one of them will randomly flash into my mind’s eye and a chill will travel down my spine. I love Freddy so much. Teens inside of a mental hospital have to deal with the legendary dream demon.

Dead Silence (2007)

October 30, 2019

I have a thing about puppets, toys, and dolls in horror. I am quickly drawn to anything with tiny animated children’s toys. I think that part of it is the juxtaposition between horror and innocence. The idea of being attacked by something people grew up being attached to is absolutely fascinating to me. Childhood is scary enough without being attacked by the toy around you. At least, it was for me. While I had a relatively good childhood, my imagination was almost always in overdrive. I dreamed up all sorts of demons and monsters in the shadows. I was not traumatized by it but I realize how many people could have been tortured by their own minds. Most of my imagination’s assault was during my dreams and not in my waking hours. It is easy to imagine sinister versions of everyday playthings. Hollywood and independents have been doing it long enough. My favorites are often connected to Charles Band such as Puppet Master, Dolls, Demonic Toys, and plenty more. Of course, it is also easy to realize how these little monsters can be so effective. Nobody could imagine that an innocent toy could harm somebody intentionally. They are literally designed to do the opposite, sentience or no.

I have watched a lot of puppet and toy horror movies, many of which I have reviewed here. They include (but are not limited to) Dolls, Demonic Toys, Goosebumps, Cult of Chucky, Curse of Chucky, and Child’s Play (2019). I will continue to review these kinds of movies, especially if they are notable cult movies and I have not seen them yet (this movie checks off both of those boxes). One culprit that I have not really explored (beyond Goosebumps and some Twilight Zone episodes) is the ventriloquist dummy. Which is weird because I have recently become infatuated with the visual look of ventriloquists. I am hesitant to reveal what that entails because I have dreamed up some horrors as part of one of my fantasy worlds. While I am no artist, I have definitely mocked up some pictures of humans with ventriloquist jaws. This is the creepiest part of the ventriloquist to me. The second place goes to their flat eyes. It goes hand in hand with my body horror fear that I have made manifest.

The first thing I noticed was an attention to detail in some great production design. The dolls in the movie are all exceptionally crafted and, while they are creepy, look like something somebody might own (unlike dolls like Annabelle). I also really like the concept of the supernatural threat which I was not exactly expecting and I will not spoil here. It is a really cool twist on the haunted doll trope and definitely fits so well here. The effects are delightfully gory and fairly horrific as one might expect from the mind of James Wan. However, unlike Saw, the movie felt more imaginative and less cruel even though it was still relentlessly cruel. On another note considering the production, this is when I found out that David Cronenberg has a sister named Denise who works as a costume designer. She definitely has some amazing contributions as well.

The acting is pretty good for a horror movie. The movie stars Ryan Kwanten as the likable everyman who is trying to solve the mystery of a personal tragedy. Donnie Wahlberg is the police detective investigating that same tragedy. He is the usual gruff, unlikeable character he always plays who somehow worms his way into your heart. Joan Heney plays a particular creepy mentally ill woman who acts as the movie’s harbinger. Amber Valletta plays the new stepmother of Kwanten’s character, adding to the whirlwind of mystery.  Bob Gunton plays the patriarch of Kwanten’s family, a kindly yet stern father figure. Michael Fairman plays the local undertaker and the source of much of the lore. Judith Roberts is a particularly nasty and delightful supernatural villain.

Overall, I really liked this movie. It had an innovative take on an old premise and went all-in on its theme and premise. The villain was really fun and made a lasting impression on me. The acting was pretty good and the story beats were worth waiting for.

Fire in the Sky (1993)

October 28, 2019

When I was ten years old, I somehow saw the trailer for this movie and after that, I was haunted by it. I watched other scary movies at the time but this one stuck with me. Every time I saw the poster, I froze up. Part of it was that it claimed to be based on a true story and I was a gullible kid. The idea of aliens being out there with the goal of floating around and targetting humans for the sole purpose of kidnapping us for mysterious and nefarious purposes. Alien abductions were supposed to happen without warning when people were out in the middle of nowhere and alone. At the time, I remember going on weekend camping trips with the Indian Guides. I was really scared that I was going to be abducted by aliens. Even though I was ten, I knew they would not hesitate to take me. I remember our group going out into the middle of the woods to experience what being in total darkness was like in order to tune in with nature and connect with a time when we did not have light bulbs or batteries. I looked up and the sky and saw a shooting star and I panicked but silently.

Another part of why the idea of alien abduction was scary to me is that the whole process was unknown. Alien abductions have been used to explain away so many seemingly weird happenings. When I became a skeptic, I confronted my fears and delved deep into all of the conspiracies. There is a rich tapestry of interesting theories and observances. The main thing that had scared me was that people lose time and then experience what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A lot of fears of aliens combine fears that we have in the real world and apply a heavy layer of the supernatural. For example, probing combines most people’s fears of sexual assault and medical procedures with the added horror of it being done by weird creatures. I also really got into reading books written by John Keel who came up with the Mothman. He also crafted theories about the Men in Black and aliens being visitors from other dimensions or other time periods and not outer space. It is definitely all disturbing to think about.

The first thing I noticed was how well they were able to capture the feel of the 1970s (which is when the story was written). The movie even feels gritty like a lot of seventies movie looked and felt like. The story is apparently a bit simplified from the original book which I can definitely appreciate seeing as how the story was never proven to be true anyway. This is often done when adapting books to movies or television and it works well to cut the fat. The movie is partially told as a mystery and it was interesting to watch that unfold. The special effects, when they appear, are really good. A lot of it is understated and shown quickly so that it has more of a Jaws effect. They do a really good job of not explaining any of it, leaving it to the audience to try and figure out what is going on. If this sort of thing were to happen, we would probably have a difficult time figuring out what objects were what except from context. When it gets insane, it gets delightfully insane like something out of a Nine Inch Nails video mixed with Cronenberg weirdness.

Part of what makes this movie work is the performance of Robert Patrick, a bit of a legend in genre films. Patrick is really believable in his role as a backwoods lumberjack. He is so good at playing the stoic and serious man. Also turning in an excellent role is the legendary James Garner who is extremely likable as the big shot Police Lieutenant investigating the incident. However, the main character is played by DB Sweeney and he is instantly likable and interesting as a wide-eyed idealist. He is based on the man who wrote the book about what he believed happened. The story is told in flashbacks and post-event which means that everybody involved has to almost play two roles. Sweeney is especially good at it, acting as the brave man and the shattered man. The rest of the cast is mostly made up of the ragtag gang of friends who have rallied around their leader. They are all interesting guys.

Overall, I am really glad that I watched this movie to tie a bow on something from my childhood. Even with my hard-earned skepticism, I felt that same knot of fear before the movie started. I think it is a good enough movie but it dragged in some places and probably could have gotten to the point quicker. It definitely gets crazy and gross but you have to wait for it. Still, I think it is worth watching.

The Deaths of Ian Stone (2008)

October 25, 2019

When I was little, I had a recurring dream of being pursued, presumably by monsters. I never got a clear look at my pursuers but I was secure in the knowledge that if they caught me, they would destroy me utterly. The only time I might have seen my pursuers was when the dream started before I started fleeing. I was in a village of purple-skinned people who I thought were some sort of undead maybe. I knew they were eating humans. I forget how I pissed them off but before I long I knew I had to escape their village. I remember having to run through a fall landscape in the woods, the trail covered in slippery leaves. I remember knowing that I had to get to a barn where there was a zipline that would take me to safety or at least buy me some time. The dream ended with me on the zipline, something I would almost certainly not do in real life. I remember waking up with that anxiety clinging to me.

Of course, death itself is always in the top three list of fears globally. It is definitely a big fear for me, deep in the pit of my stomach. It has constantly vied with my other top fear of public speaking. A little cliche but those are the top two fears according to polls but I take comfort in being in a lot of good company. Death is always a mystery. We have no idea what instant it will come even in old age or heavily compromised by sickness. There is also no evidence on what happens after that final curtain. What if what happened was another death or more? That is a very real part of what makes death so scary, at least to me. We all try to fill our lives with light to drive the darkness of death away so that we can live comfortably.

The first thing I noticed was that the tone of the film and its imagery reminded me of Donnie Darko or Dark City. Everything is strange and off but not in an exaggerated way, at least not at first. I really liked the design of the creatures and how they teased their appearance slowly. Slowly revealing the monster is often my favorite part of horror movies. I love the lost feeling that I got while watching the movie. I had no clue what was going on but it made me want to know more. I would compare it to David Lynch but Lynch never provides any answers. This movie has more of a driving force, heading unstoppably toward a conclusion. It keeps you guessing but did not feel as frustrating as a Lynch movie. I really like a disorienting mystery sometimes.

Mike Vogel is in the lead and is instantly likable and relatable as the American expatriate just trying to make sense of his life. He constantly has really good scenes with just about everyone else in the movie. Christina Cole is a chipper, optimistic young woman who gets dragged along on the ride. I really liked the performance I got from Michael Feast as the wise man used for a lot of the slow exposition dumps. Jaime Murray is perfect as the beautiful, seductive and acidic opposition. She is so charismatic and fun to watch and fun to hate. The rest of the cast is mostly there to move things along as background but they do a good job. The acting felt like a mix of Lynch, Donnie Darko, Dark City, and even The Matrix. It felt like a refreshing take on science fiction/horror.

Overall, I loved this movie. It was a great combination of horror, mystery, and action which definitely scratched an itch I had no idea was there. The characters were all fun to watch and the movie was deeply satisfying. On a side note, I would like to thank my friend Tracy who recommended this movie. I would not have found it otherwise since it is off the beaten path.

Suspiria (1977)

October 21, 2019

I remember the first time I went away to go to school. Well, technically it was to go to a summer camp that specialized in tutoring people with learning disabilities. I spent the summer doing the regular camp activities but also working on reading comprehension and skills to beat my ADD. When I traveled to Camp Glencoe, I was nervous as you would expect from a kid who was away from home for the first time. I was shy and not great at making friends so I did not know if I would fit in. That feeling never really got easier, I just got more comfortable with it. I traveled to Pittsburgh to attend pre-college and I was nervous about having a roommate for the first time. I traveled to New Jersey for college and I was nervous about the same things plus what my future might hold and how I would fair in an unfamiliar institution. Being taken out of your comfort zone can be very scary but it is often not so bad as we imagine. Positive thinking helps but it is impossible not to think of what might go wrong.

Traveling alone can also be scary. I remember the first time I traveled alone which was when I visited my grandmother by flying down south to be picked up at the airport by her. My father wrote a guide for me called “How to End Up in Columbia, South Carolina and not Colombia, South America”. It became the blueprint for every plane trip I have taken since. The importance of following directions and staying safe was hammered into me and it ended up not being as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, I was a little perturbed to have things done for me. However, looking back, I realize that any number of things could have happened to a little kid traveling alone. I also realize that as a male, I was statistically less likely to be harassed during my trip. I was not diverted from my destination as too many people have been.

The first thing I noticed is the really good use of color in the movie which is something I was prepared for. Immediately, the colors seemed vibrant and interesting. The use of light and shadow is especially spectacular, giving most frames the feel of arthouse photography. The music also struck me as particularly creepy, some of it similar to the stuff that John Carpenter was writing at the same time. The rest of it feels like experimental prog-rock stuff (performed by the Goblins) that is really discordant and creepy and adds so much. I was also really impressed by the special effects, simple practical effects and also simple but effective film effects. I was startled by how real they felt despite being uncomplicated and cheap. Also, apparently much of the dialogue and sound were recorded separately from film which is probably what gives the film such an otherworldly feel.

The cast is really interesting, especially considering that three different languages were spoken on set and the actors often had trouble communicating. The exaggerated movements of people’s mouths feels very much like theater and adds to the weirdness. The lead role is played by Jessica Harper and she is so good at being innocent and wide-eyed. Barbara Magnolfi plays the roommate, a snarky and sultry contrast to Harper. There is also Stefania Casini who plays a more forceful, tomboyish young woman. Alida Valli and Joan Bennett play two teachers and both are creepy in entirely different ways. One is too forceful and sadistic while the other is far too polite to be trusted. A lot of the acting reminds me of Rocky Horror Picture Show, everybody acts exaggerated and their movement is just a bit strange.

Overall, I really loved this movie because it really unnerved me at almost every turn. Every piece of it works together to form something not quite human, not quite right. It set me on edge throughout which perfectly set me up for the spooky stuff. Harper is especially likable and sympathetic and I really want to see her other movies.


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