Wednesday, November 2, 2022

100 Horror Haiku for Halloween


Happy post-Halloween hangover! I hope everyone had a spooktacular Halloween season. This was kind of a weird one for me -- much more laidback than usual. We did the bulk of our celebrating at home, although we did manage to make it out to a Cinespia screening of Bram Stoker's Dracula at the lavish Los Angeles Theatre downtown and visit a very cool and atmospheric speakeasy-style distillery called The Obscure, among a few other outings. 

One of the advantages of spending so much time at home was that I've been able to write a lot more than usual this year. Here are a couple of my recently published pieces:

I also decided to write 100 haiku inspired by 100 of my favorite horror movies, posting two per day to my Twitter

If you'd like to read those, you can check them out here:

Here's to a creepier-than-normal November!  

Friday, July 29, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 10


HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988): For reasons I can't fully explain, Mr. Spooky and I ended up having a Halloween sequels marathon on 4th of July weekend this year. We sort of half-watched parts 3 through 5 while eating Ruffles chips with French onion dip and I have to say, it was kind of the best. Part 4 is one of the better sequels, and nothing beats the spooky atmosphere of the opening credits. An excellent way to commemorate midsummer as the unofficial kickoff to the Halloween season. We'll be suckin' on iced pumpkin coffees and cutting across 3 lanes of traffic to get to newly opened Spirit stores before we know it!

HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1989): The scene where Tina and her friend are walking in a park and talking about fucking their boyfriends while Michael stalks them has such bizarre and awkward dialogue, delivered in such a strange and stilted fashion, that it almost feels like a scene from Tommy Wiseau's The Room. (One of my all-time favorite bad-good/good-bad comfort movies.) The other thing I really like about this movie is the way Danielle Harris says, "Tee! Nah! Tee! Nah!" I really don't appreciate the way they did her character dirty in part 6.

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985): Our July 4th weekend horror-a-thon built to a crescendo with this, my favorite zombie movie. It has fucking everything: Humor, horror, '80s punk rockers, the  naked graveyard dancing that made Linnea Quigley a genre icon, and the truly terrifying notion that it hurts to be dead because you can feel yourself rot. 

ROLLERCOASTER (1977): On actual 4th of July, we went to a Cinematic Void screening of this movie about George Segal foiling a domestic terrorist at Magic Mountain, which I've been wanting to see ever since we watched The Sparks Brothers. It was so fun and a great way to spend the holiday.

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014): It felt like time to revisit this found footage movie about how scary the people who work at Halloween haunts can be, especially if you take into account the fact that they almost never seem to undergo, you know, background checks, or psych evaluations. Perhaps it was reading this recent grim headline -- 'Sex-Ring' Investigation Reveals 'Field Of Screams' Haunted House Ties -- that made it feel so timely? (Relieved to say that I never visited any of the Bloodshed Brothers' haunts, but I've certainly heard of them.) Anyhow, yikes!

A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL (1973): I do not recommend this film.

STARMAN (1984): What if an alien fell to earth and morphed into the corporeal form of your late husband? What I mean is...would you? Karen Allen would! And does! And I say good for her. This movie is to E.T. what The Shape of Water is to Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ya dig? 

HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021): Yep, I definitely don't like this movie. And what's more, I think it really hates me. 

HORROR IN THE HIGH DESERT (2021): The first of two found footage recommendations I got from the Gaylords of Darkness podcast. (Definitely listen to that podcast if you don't already.) This is about a vlogger who goes missing in the desert. Nicely paced with a creepy payoff. Recommended for found footage fans!

THE 'BURBS (1989): I don't even know where to begin with this movie. It has been one of my ultimate favorites since I saw it IN THEATERS as a kid. It is one of my ultimate comfort movies. It is a PERFECT mid to late summer movie. It has an amazing score. It has Tom Hanks at his absolute peak. The entire supporting cast is pitch perfect and phenomenal. Every line is quotable. I love everything about it. 

INCANTATION (2022): Another Gaylords of D recommendation, and again, it's a good one. Taiwanese found footage that is scary and well-paced. Maybe felt like it was a little long in the end, but definitely another thumbs up for people who like this sort of thing. It's on Netflix right now.

AIRPLANE! (1980): I'd never seen this, but I imagined that it would age super poorly. It actually wasn't too bad -- the jokes are sort of in that Mel Brooks vein. I would say I liked it. I laughed. Don't call me Shirley, and all that. Joe Izusu plays a Hare Krishna. Remember Joe Izusu? I'm guessing you don't.

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) / ESCAPE FROM L.A. (1996): No one does a fun fucking movie quite like John Carpenter, right? And these are fun fucking movies. Kurt Russell in an eye patch? Are you serious? Adrienne Barbeau?! Harry Dead Stanton? Is that Isaac Hayes?! Escape from L.A. finds the cheese-to-grit ratio a bit off (as in, it's not as gritty, but far more cheesy), but it's still pretty entertaining. Fun fact, I saw Escape from L.A. before I'd ever even heard of Escape from New York. 

~*~* And with that, I am all caught up! Will I continue unleashing these morsels on my previously-dormant blog? Perhaps. It has certainly uncorked my creativity. In any case, I appreciate the patience and stamina of anyone who has dared to read this far! *~*~

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 9

IN THE ARMY NOW (1994): Do you see? Do you see how honest I'm being with you about what I've been watching? I'm admitting to you here in this holiest of temples, the Internet, that I willingly watched a Pauly Shore comedy in the year of our dark Lord twenty twenty-two. Surprisingly, Tank Girl herself -- Lori Petty -- plays the love interest. If you want to feel like we've actually made some progress as a society, watch this and marvel at the fact that Andy Dick acting like a total pussy-entitled prick is played for laffs. These kinds of characters were everywhere in old comedies and I honestly don't know the last time I saw one in a contemporary film/TV show. So there's that, at least.

PENDA'S FEN (1974): Another All the Haunts Be Ours folk horror selection. An enormously sanctimonious teenager comes to terms with his sexuality while at the same time grappling with the wild and unruly pagan past lurking just beneath Britain's staid veneer. I liked it; it has that distinctive early '70s BBC flavor.

ROBIN REDBREAST (1970): Well-suited to be watched as a double feature with Penda's Fen, this is an interesting precursor to The Wicker Man in which a woman moves to a rural English village and discovers that the villagers have certain, uh, customs to which she has becomes an unwitting party.

BIO-DOME (1996): Nothing has ever been as quintessentially 1996 as this, the second non-Encino Man Pauly Shore comedy to be mentioned on this blog. (I just want you to know that I make no apologies for loving Encino Man, as that is an excellent film and should maaaaybe be the full extent of your Pauly Shore watch party.) Stephen Baldwin sports little white man braids/dreadlocks. The two lead characters engage in banter/horseplay that is deeply homoerotic/homophobic. The girlfriend character is played by Joey Lauren Adams in bare midriff and baby barrettes. Oh, and our heroes sexually assault two female scientists in the bio-dome by groping them in their sleep, which is, again, played for laffs. Wait...was everything offensive back then, or am I just noticing a pattern specific to the Pauly Shore canon? Hmmmmm. HMMMMMM.

DAUGHTERS OF SATAN (1972): Fun fact: This was the last movie Tom Selleck filmed before his mustache became sentient!

DARK WATERS (1993): I was hitting that All the Haunts Be Ours boxset pretty hard that week. This is folk horror about a bunch of evil nuns in an evil island convent. Honestly, I found the plot confusing, but the imagery was pretty cool. I would definitely recommend this for people who like creepy Catholic stuff, which I assume is everyone who has ever been in a Catholic church. Damn, those places are creepy, right? This movie is what I hoped The Nun would be. 

AIRHEADS (1994): All that Pauly Shore required a '90s Brendan Fraser chaser, and I'd never seen this. BF, Adam Sandler, and Steve Buscemi (!) play a band that accidentally takes a radio DJ hostage in order to have their demo played on the air. It definitely had that Wayne's World feel about it, which is not to say that the jokes are anywhere near Wayne's World's record-setting levels of quotability. I guess it's worth a watch though. Also, this was kind of a good look for Steve Buscemi, but also who does he look like? Gibby Haynes? 

REALITY BITES (1994): I didn't think this would hold up but it did. Janeane Garofalo seems cooler and more beautiful than ever. Her hair! Her thrift store dresses! Her lunchbox purses! Probably the most dated thing about the movie is how relegated to the sidelines the one gay character is -- but I suppose at least his big challenge is coming out to his family and not, like, getting AIDS (it was still the '90s, though, so of course a different character has an AIDS scare). I would show this as a double featch with fellow '90s grungy rom-dram (romantic...dramedy?) Singles, which I'm also planning to rewatch. 

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (2016): Our Flag Means Death has us on a bit of a Taika Waititi streak over here at Casa de Spooky, plus seeing a screening of Zulawski's Possession (1981) in theaters means that I'm still kinda obsessed with Sam Neill, so we had to give this a go. It's a cute, funny, touching Kiwi tale of a foster kid who ends up on the run with his gruff foster dad in an Odd Couple-meets-Thelma & Louise situation. Just as quirky and kind-hearted as you've likely come to expect from Mr. Waititi.

THE BLACK PHONE (2021): It felt like most of the people I saw this with were disappointed, but I enjoyed it. Just keep in mind that it's kind of a rape revenge flick, but with kids, and without the rape (although child molestation is heavily hinted at, nothing is shown). I hope that's not a spoiler? Oh, I just realized you could show this with Reality Bites for a really bizarre Ethan Hawke double feature. 

CRY-BABY (1990): Traci Lords is so good in this. She's all winged eyeliner, red lipstick, pencil skirts and sneers. 

SERIAL MOM (1994): And while we were drinking from the John Waters well, I had to revisit my personal favorite entry in his '90s oeuvre. One word: PUSSYWILLOW.

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982): I like this movie a little more with every rewatch. It's basically a comfort movie at this point. Is it my favorite non-sequel Halloween sequel? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is.

HALLOWEEN II (1981): I have never been crazy about this movie on its own merits but I've watched it so many times now that I've developed a begrudging affection for it nonetheless. I will say that I really, really wish Hill & Carpenter hadn't introduced the whole Laurie-is-Michael's-sister element into the franchise -- can you imagine how free the sequels would have been to go absolutely anywhere without that constraint?! Alas. BUT at least we get to see a nurse literally and figuratively pop her clogs! That hot tub death is unnecessarily mean though. Oh, and by the way? "Mr. Sandman" does not fit tonally or thematically. There, I said it. I SAID WHAT I SAID!


Friday, July 22, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 8


LAKE OF THE DEAD (1958): A cool eerie Norwegian folk horror film that is part of the magnificent All the Haunts Be Ours folk horror box set that you really should own if you enjoy this sub-genre as I do. I know had more I wanted to say about this one but I waited too long to write this so I suppose that will have to wait for later date, post-rewatch. Oops.

HAPPY GILMORE (1996): As I've mentioned, I have been deep diving into silly/dumb comedies this year, many of which I'd never seen before. Somehow this was a first time watch for me, despite the fact that I was a teenager in the '90s. At long last, I have witnessed Bob Barker and Adam Sandler assaulting one another with my own eyes. Blessed be.

BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (2020): I feared this would be awful but it was pretty sweet-natured and cute. I am not really a fan of Bogus Journey so I guess this is my second favorite Bill & Ted movie. If you are tired of unrelenting violence and bad news and you just want to turn off the old skull goblin (that's what I call my brain), this might be worth a watch.

GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN (1985): Very young Sarah Jessica Parker and very young Helen Hunt take a TV dance competition by storm. There is also a very very young Shannen Doherty in a little sister role. This is kind of like a sexless Dirty Dancing. The titular fun was had.

THE MONSTER CLUB (1981): I believe I read somewhere that this is the only movie in which Vincent Price played a vampire. If that's true, kind of a shame, as I think it suits him. I actually didn't know this was an anthology, but it is. The segments are a little forgettable but the wraparound (VP takes his would-be victim to the eponymous monster club) is pretty cool. Lots of fun campy musical numbers, including the one where a burlesque dancer takes off her skin and dances around as a skeleton that you may have already seen in animated gif form.

DRACULA'S FIANCEE (2002): When I bought this for my husband, who (like me) is a big Jean Rollin fan (sexy '70s vampire exploitation of the semi-nude ladies in gauzy gowns running through European castles variety), I had no idea it was from 2002. Frankly I didn't know Jean Rollin was still making films in 2002. It was pretty good! Especially considering how much filmmakers like Argento faltered in their more contemporary offerings, Rollin's aesthetic remained intact. 

MARY, MARY, BLOODY MARY (1975): Chosen for its lurid title and poster art, I found this so incredibly slow and forgettable that I can't tell you a thing about it beyond there's an upsetting scene where there are sea creatures in peril (sharks, turtles) on a beach and it bummed me out. I always get freaked out when there are animals in exploitation movies because I have no idea if the animals were actually harmed or not, you know?

THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943): This is my favorite Val Lewton movie and I love it more each and every time I see it. It's like film noir crossed with Satanic horror crossed with existential goth glamour, and it's only about 70 minutes long. Saw it on the big screen on a 35mm print courtesy of Cinematic Void and it was such a pleasure.

PISTOL (2022): Danny Boyle's Sex Pistols bio series. I kind of hated it, and then I ended up kind of enjoying it. I think you have to be interested in '70s punk rock to make it all the way through. Boyle's frenetic style that I loved so much in Trainspotting felt irritating here. John Lydon has said some terrible things in real life, but his fictional counterpart ended up being my favorite character. If you liked this, I'm begging you to watch Alex Cox's Sid and Nancy. Was it accurate? I dunno, but Chloe Webb and Gary Oldman are absolute screeching, bleeding, yowling, careening treasures.

HIS HOUSE (2020): Really cool horror movie about Sudanese refugees in England trying to adjust to living in a strange new place while coping with unimaginable grief and guilt. The first feature from writer/director Remi Weekes. One of those movies that is more about processing trauma than goosing an audience with jump scares.

CIRCUS OF BOOKS (2019): An interesting-enough doc about the nice heterosexual Jewish couple who owned the titular gay adult bookstore in LA and how they ended up being kinda reluctant stalwarts of the community. 

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)/INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984)/INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989): Indiana Jones is a little uh, problematic (try not to think too much about the implications of his relationship with Karen Allen in Raiders, or the racism/exotification in Temple of Doom) but these are still really entertaining action-adventure summer popcorn movies. Also, I did not realize how much Indiana Jones has influenced my vacation fantasies, but wow. Is this why I'm so obsessed with rope swings into swimming holes, Venice, and the lost city of Petra?!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 7

Okay, so I am way way behind on this little exercise, and although I know that it matters to literally no one else, I said I would do it and so I must finish. However, with such a massive backlog of movies to get through, I will now be offering my thoughts in even smaller little fun-sized morsels -- 1 to 3 sentences, max -- in part so I can catch up and finally finish, and in part because I'm now beginning to forget the details of some of these films. 

The good news is that this started out as a way for me to kickstart my writing, and I have been writing quite a bit more than usual, so hooray! And now, onward...

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA (2020): A silly Will Ferrell comedy that is basically Blades of Glory but with pop music instead of figure skating, and Rachel McAdams in the Jon Heder role. I had no idea that Eurovision could be so bonkers, so that led me down a fun YouTube rabbit hole. I enjoyed myself and it made me feel better when I was sick.

FYRE FRAUD (2019) / FYRE: THE GREATEST PARTY THAT NEVER HAPPENED (2018): I can't remember which one was which, or which one I preferred. I think it was the one where the dude said he was prepared to blow the dude for bottled water. There is basically no reason to watch these at this point, since Fyre Festival jokes have become so integrated into the zeitgeist that it feels redundant, but again, I was sick, so I figured "now or nevs." Only watch if you're prepared to spend 90+ minutes with the most annoying people on the planet.

THE BUBBLE (2022): I was hungry for another silly comedy so I went with this Judd Apatow joint about movie making during the pandemic. Again, I enjoyed myself, but I can barely remember what happened at this point. Hijinks...of some sort...ensued? Keegan-Michael Key flew a helicopter? I do remember it felt a little long. Seems perfect for watching if you're sick or on a plane or something.

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE (2018): The Shirley Jackson novel on which this is based is one of my favorites, so I had high hopes and low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. I loved it! And I thought I had heard it wasn't very good, so now I'm wondering where I heard that and whether it came from a fellow lover of the book or not. If you're not familiar with Shirley Jackson this movie might feel very slow and odd. I thought it captured the tone admirably, and I liked the cast.

RUSSIAN DOLL, Season 2 (2022): After that kinda perfect first season, this was a bit of a let down. I will always enjoy Natasha Lyonne (please, cast her in a biopic of Poison Ivy from the Cramps before it's too late!), but the season felt a little disjointed to me. I do love watching her sleuth and smoke, I just wish it were in service to a more cohesive story.

WILD WILD COUNTRY (2018): Yo, I forgot I watched this! See what I mean?! I must crank these out faster! My takeaway was similar to the Fyre Festival docs: Everyone onscreen annoyed me. But I figured, as long as I'm at it, I might as well check out...

HOLY HELL (2016): I preferred this to Wild Wild Country, even though they're both about annoying cults, probably because this was a movie and not a multi-episode series, therefore I was forced to spend less time with said annoying cult leader(s). I've always been concerned that I might inadvertently join a cult. Anyone who's ever taken a yoga class in Los Angeles can probably relate.

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954): The Creature is so beleaguered and lumbering; basically, it's underwater Frankenstein. That being said, the underwater shots are so cool, and this is probably a great movie to watch with a tiki cocktail. I would love a Black Lagoon-themed swimming pool with a grotto and a swim-up bar. Wouldn't that be so sick? 

CRUELLA (2021): This is another one that I thought I would hate but I actually enjoyed. I don't know what I heard about it initially, but a friend recommended it and she was right. It was cool to see Emma Stone swan around London in those costumes. I never thought I would hear "I Wanna Be Your Dog" in a Disney movie. If you liked Maleficent (I did), there's no reason you won't like this.

THE BLACKWELL GHOST 6 (2022): Have you heard of the Blackwell Ghost movies? They're very simple, and often very short, found footage and I honestly have no idea how much of what's on screen is true and how much is fiction. I mean, I'm assuming (?!) the paranormal stuff is fake, that the filmmaker/lead actor's real wife? I don't knowwwww! Anyhow, my dude positively cranks these out (six already and more to come, I hope!) and I really recommend them if you like found footage and you scare easily at the sight of, like, a door opening by itself. If you like that kind of thing, this is gold. 

REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955) / THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956): I don't remember these at all, sorry. I love the Creature but I as I recall the sequels just get increasingly frustrating in terms of his mistreatment and it sucks! Poor Creatch! I think The Creature Walks Among Us is the one where they make him live on land and wear human clothes. I guess that one is worth a watch, if only for the 1950s forced conformity weirdness of it all. TBH these are probably fine with the sound off, or maybe I was just feeling salty that day.

THE EXORCIST (1973): Obviously I've seen this movie a million times, but sometimes you just get a craving. Nothing less than a perfect film. My favorite scene is when Ellen Burstyn walks through an autumnal Georgetown while "Tubular Bells" plays and she passes a group of trick-or-treaters and then a couple of nuns, their robes streaming in the breeze. It's so creepy and beautiful

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 6


THE SECRET OF CRICKLEY HALL (2012): So I needed something kinda involving but not too complicated to watch because I was sick, and I settled on this low-key intriguing British haunted house two-parter on Hulu. After a woman's young child goes missing, she and her family move into a country estate where she hears him calling to her from beyond the grave. But is it really him?! This just the kind of thing to watch if you're sick or on a plane or a train or something: A little spooky but not too scary, a little sad but not completely devastating, involving enough to be watchable but you won't be heartbroken if you get interrupted. Not too shabby!

THE MUMMY (1932)/THE MUMMY'S HAND (1940): Universal monster movies are cinematic comfort food for horror fans. So slow-paced and soothing. The original Mummy is a masterpiece, even if it does follow the same basic plot as Dracula. I threw in The Mummy's Hand here for good measure because, while I did watch it, I barely remember it. Needs more Karloff. 

MOANA (2016): I am so behind on my Disney/Pixar animated movies that this was a first-time watch for me. Again, I needed something cute, comforting, not too grim or alarming. This is all of those things, plus heartwarming, and with a heaping helping of Lin-Manuel Miranda songs. 

LUCA (2021): In retrospect I guess I put together a little seaside double feature by watching Luca and Moana in quick succession. This tale of a young sea creature who wants to hang out on the land but feels like he has to hide his true nature is very sweet and a total metaphor for queerness, so...perfect for pride month? Also, it's set in Italy, and anything Italian is ideal for watching on warm summer days. 

RETURN TO OZ (1985): Nightmarish is an understatement. From the Wheelers who chase Dorothy on all fours to the evil princess who keeps a collection of heads in glass display cases so she can swap out her noggin at will, this movie is so full of surreal and disturbing imagery that it is a genuine wonder anyone ever shows it to little kids. (Do they?!) I mean, the whole reason Dorothy returns to Oz is because she's institutionalized and given electroshock therapy! I know the first film is kinda dark too, but really this is closer to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest than it is to "Follow the Yellow Brick Road." (Disclaimer: I have not read the books that provide the source material, but I think I've heard that this adaptation is actually pretty accurate?) Anyhow, none of this is a criticism. Return to Oz is cool and you should totally check it out if you haven't seen it. Just be prepared!

JASPER MALL (2020): A documentary about a once-bustling mall dying a slow death in a small American town as the economy flounders and malls themselves are cast into the dustbin of history, thanks in large part to the Internet and online shopping, this is a strangely affecting and fairly poignant snapshot of what feels like the end of an era. I wouldn't say I miss going to malls exactly, but it is interesting to think about how prominent they were when I was a kid vs. how completely obsolete they feel now. But hey, being online means that not only can we buy anything imaginable in mere minutes, we also have easy access to all the pornography, memes, and cute cat videos we could ever want. How could malls ever hope to compete?!

Friday, June 10, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 5


A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988)/A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5: THE DREAM CHILD (1989): So originally I had planned to do a rewatch of the entire Elm Street franchise, but after revisiting these two I was suffering from serious Freddy fatigue and had to scrap the rest of the series. Just as well, honestly, because apart from New Nightmare (which has plenty of fans, although it's not really my cup of tea), the rest of the films aren't that interesting. I combined these two because they sort of blur together in my mind. If you like quippy Freddy, this is probably the apex of the series for you. Me, I prefer my Freddy on the stoic side. Different strokes.

THE HALLOW (2015): This is a cool Irish folk horror/creature feature about evil faeries. Some moments of real suspense. Lots of baby-in-peril stuff. What's not to like? 

THE THING (1982): I love John Carpenter, but while I grew up watching Halloween and The Fog, I've only seen The Thing a handful of times. This was the first time I ever saw it on a big screen, in a brand new 4K restoration at an American Cinematheque screening (yay, living in Los Angeles). It looked incredible and I enjoy this movie more every time I watch it. This might be good counter-programming for the hot summer days to come. Doesn't Antarctica look sooooo icy and refreshing?

WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S (1989): I had made it this far in my life without ever seeing Weekend at Bernie's. Why did I decide to watch this? I don't know. I guess because so much of what we watch is bleak and/or anxiety-inducing that we've recently started dipping our toes into the dumbest, broadest comedies we can find. It's a nice palate cleanser tbh. I can't pretend I hated this movie. If you like corpse comedy, this will be your jam. Side note: Corpse comedy deserves its own subgenre.

WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S II (1993): No, I take that back -- corpse comedy does not deserve its own subgenre. I really have no excuse as to why I watched this, apart from a perverse compulsion to be a completist. This is a much more mean-spirited film than the first. Andrew McCarthy's character is a sociopath. The voodoo element adds nothing. The funniest part is probably that they were pretentious enough to use the Roman numeral "II" in the title. I mean, they're not even at Bernie's place this time, so the title is a total misnomer. Truly, this film lives up to its negative hype. 

SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER (1993): Pure coincidence that we watched two comedies from 1993 back to back. As a lifelong fan of Wayne's World, I have a fondness for Mike Myers' '90s output, but this didn't really hold up for me. Again, kind of felt mean-spirited rather than fun and lighthearted. Example: Why was Scottish dad so abusive toward his large-headed son? I mean, really. Is this what we thought was funny in the nineties? Drunk dads screaming at their families? (Oh, shit...The Simpsons...Married with Children...yeah, I guess we thought that was pretty fucking funny. Damn, we had some shit to work through!) 

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 4


EXPLORER: THE LAST TEPUI (2022): I watched this because I'm a fan of Alex Honnold, who you'll certainly remember if you've watched the documentary Free Solo -- he's a rock climber who famously scales his conquests without any ropes or safety gear. As someone with a lifelong fear of/fascination with heights, I have to say Free Solo is one of the most terrifying movies I've ever seen and I highly recommend it. Well, he climbs with ropes here. In fact, this isn't really an Alex Honnold movie at all; it's about a biologist who is no longer able to physically make the treacherous trip to discover new animal species on a cliff side deep in the Amazon jungle, and the climbers who are tasked with trying to get him up there anyway. Loved the scenery, but I can probably name half a dozen other climbing documentaries I'd recommend before this one. For Honnold completists only.

THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT (2022): This is that meta comedy where Nic Cage plays (a fictionalized version of?) Nic Cage. I thought it was really cute and sweet and good-natured. Honestly, I laughed more at this movie than I have at any new comedy in ages. It's silly and fun.

THE NORTHMAN (2022): I enjoyed The Witch (still haven't seen The Lighthouse), so I was certainly interested in director Robert Eggers' take on Norse mythology, but something about this movie never quite gelled for me. I know it was supposed to feel like this huge, magnificent epic, but I was never fully engaged. Is this a "me" problem? I don't know. But Alexander Skarsgård's abs just weren't enough to carry me through.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984): What can I say? An absolute classic. I still think it's really scary, and Tina's death is so brutal. Like many first installments of horror franchises, it's a lot more subtle than it's given credit for. I'll leave it at that -- it's Nightmare on Elm Street, fer chrissakes; I have to imagine I'm preaching to the choir here.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY'S REVENGE (1985): Here it is, just in time for Pride Month, the slasher with the queer subtext so pronounced that it's basically just regular text! Honestly, I did not grow up watching this movie (or any of the NOES sequels, for that matter -- as a kid I was always a first-installment-only bitch), so I've only seen it a handful of times. I think I like it more every time I watch it though. I know it's not really in line with the rest of the franchise, but I enjoy the possession angle, and it's cool to have a Final Boy for a change. Makes me sad when the bird blows up though.

LIVID (2011): A cool French movie from the directors of the notorious Inside (which I have not seen, because it sounds too brutal for me). I dug the haunted house setting and the spooky ballerinas -- from Suspiria to Black Swan, I love me a spooky-ass ballerina. I watched this on Shudder but I think it's gone now. If you get a chance, check it out; it has a sort of dreamy, Guillermo Del Toro-ish quality, and the ending is very strange. I suppose you could call it a fairy tale.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987): I have to be honest: I think this is probably the last great Nightmare movie. (More on that in a later installment of Movie Morsels.) Many people consider this their favorite Nightmare movie, in fact, and while it's not mine, I can see why. I personally don't think it's as scary as part one, but it has memorable characters and some of the best kills of the entire franchise. Of course, it's also where Freddy begins to transition from legit boogeyman to wisecrackin' sass machine ("Welcome to prime time, bitch!," et. al.) Is that fun or kinda tedious? I might vote for the latter, but I guess anything that ultimately gave birth to such top-notch merchandising as Freddy bubble gum can't be all bad.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 3

DEAD & BURIED (1981): I'm a little behind in my review writing, so forgive me if some of the details are no longer completely fresh in my mind. I'd been meaning to watch this one for some time, and seeing the trailer every week at Cinematic Void's Horror by the Water screenings really pushed it to the top of my list. I would say this movie is similar in tone to other early '80s horror movies set in cemeteries/morgues -- specifically moves like One Dark Night, Mortuary and Mausoleum. I imagine that little trend was kind of kicked off by Phantasm, and has its modern-day equivalent in something like The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Anyhow, if you like the really specific vibe of very early '80s funereal horror, this fits in nicely and would make an excellent double feature with any of the aforementioned titles.

JUBILEE (1978): This is a movie that I've been meaning to watch forever, since I dig '70s British punk rock, but it kind of fell flat for me. It has the same sort of filthy British punk vibes of Sid and Nancy or The Young Ones, like where everything is gray and dirty and gross. I was happy to see Little Nell in something other than Rocky Horror, and Adam Ant was maybe at the peak of his cuteness. Overall though I found the nihilistic punk characters more irritating than provocative, and kind of just came away feeling vaguely annoyed. Maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. 

I WANT YOU BACK (2022): Jenny Slate has proven to be a pretty good bet when it comes to contemporary rom coms, and here she and Charlie Day from It's Always Sunny star as two people whose despair at being broken up with leads them to form an unusual bond. This was a throwback -- predictable, pleasant, funny, not too mean-spirited. I don't have much to say but I did enjoy watching it. I chuckled.

THRASHIN' (1986): Josh Brolin is a James Dean on four wheels in this fun and silly skatesploitation flick. Just remember, if anyone ever asks you what you thrash, the correct answer is, "Whaddya got?" 

THE FOG (1980): One of my very favorite John Carpenter movies since I was a child. I love everything about this movie: The seaside setting, the backstory of the leper ghosts (they're not pirates!), the quintessentially Carpenter synth score, Jamie Lee Curtis' overwhelming attraction to a mustache-less Tom Atkins, the cameos from Debra Hill and JC himself. I was so excited to finally see it in a theater, again thanks to Cinematic Void, and in a beautiful 4K restoration, no less. When you're enjoying your next stomach pounder and a Coke, don't forget to pour a little out for Mrs. Kobritz -- RIP to a real one.

MARS ATTACKS! (1996): You ever take so long to see a movie that it starts to feel like a matter of your personal identity? Like, people are always like, "Oh, you've never seen Mars Attacks?" I mean, my own husband has been saying this to me for years. Finally he was like, "Why haven't you seen Mars Attacks?" and I was like, "Because it's just never come up! Do you feel like we should watch Mars Attacks together?" And that, my friends, is how I came to finally watch Mars Attacks. What's that? What did I think? Oh yeah, it was fine! I neither liked nor disliked it. I feel like one was the appropriate amount of viewings. That being said, I may have missed the cultural moment attendant to this particular film. But I did spend a lot of time watching and rewatching Drew Barrymore lose her shit in Mad Love around this time, so if you want to talk about mid-'90s cinema with me, I'd suggest you start there. (P.S. I have also never seen Independence Day all the way through.)

THEY LIVE INSIDE US (2020): I watched this because I absolutely adore the little Halloween tone poems, called "Halloween Atmospheres," that Witching Season Films put on their YouTube channel. They are like the opening credits to Halloween 4 but for like 15 minutes each. Anyhow, I thought there were some cool shots in this, but it didn't completely come together for me as a narrative. Still, they have a great eye (eyes?) and I look forward to checking out their next feature soon.

Okay, well, I have 36 more reviews in the pipeline. So, uh...stick around, or don't. Either way, you know what to expect!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Movie Morsels, Pt. 2

HELLBENDER (2021): This is a really cool little folk horror/witch movie entirely written, produced, directed, acted in & filmed by a real life family (mom, dad and two daughters) called the Adams Family. How cool would it be to make movies with your family?! Anyhow, it's about a teenage girl who lives a completely isolated life in the woods with her cool ass mom, and they have a really rad two-piece band, but then she starts to wonder about life in the outside world, as kids do, and it kind of all goes to hell(bender) from there. Sabrina she ain't. I enjoyed this slow-burn indie a lot. It lingers.

DEATH RINK (2019): I watched this because it's a slasher movie set at a roller rink. I try to make it a point not to talk shit on films I don't like, especially if they're independently made, so I'll just say that there was precious little skatin' and precious little slashin' in this roller skate slasher. Points for location, though. 

FRENCH KISS (1995): Remember the whole "nineties Meg Ryan movies are my cinematic comfort food" thing? This was a particular favorite of mine back in the day, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it held up for me. Kevin Kline is kind of a left-field pick for the mustachioed, cigarette smoking, amoral Frenchman who sweeps Meggers off her feet after she travels to France to win back her wayward fiancé, but they do have chemistry and this movie is cute. Désolée, pas désolée, as they say.

ADDICTED TO LOVE (1997): Next up in my Meg Ryan journey, this rom com where she plays against type as a hard-assed, scooter-riding, eyeliner-and-animal-print-wearing NYC woman bent on revenge after her boyfriend leaves her for another woman is a real treat. She and the new gal's ex-boyfriend (Matthew Broderick, striking a tone somewhere in between charming smart-ass Ferris Bueller & the neurotic obsessive he plays in Election) start squatting in the decaying building across the street so they can engage in totally normal rom com behavior like spying on their exes via camera obscura, collecting cockroaches for a future revenge stunt, and sneaking into their apartment to put on their exes' clothes and have sex. It's kinda dark as far as Meg Ryan rom coms go, and again, this totally held up for me. 

YOU'VE GOT MAIL (1998): Oh man. Okay, so You've Got Mail has always been a tough one for me. On one hand, I love the Nora Ephron-ness of it all: Autumn in New York, Meg in super conservative high-necked granny clothes, cute one-liners, the gentle pace. On the other hand, Tom Hanks' character is a super prick in this movie, and the ensuing years have only made me hate him and what he does to Meg's cute little kids bookstore -- that she inherited from her sweetie pie of a late mother, no less! -- even more. I like this movie, I guess, but it's hard to watch, and it's hard for me to believe that these characters would actually start a full-fledged relationship with one another, let alone sustain one for any length of time. Maybe Meggers' interest in Tom's character is actually just a ruse and she takes the first opportunity to pour some poison in his ear while he sleeps or something. A girl can dream.

THE SCARY OF SIXTY-FIRST (2020): I watched this mainly because of the baffling title, and because I was like, "Wha...? It's about...Jeffrey Epstein? Or something?" 80 minutes later I felt like I'd emerged from one of those accidental Internet rabbit holes you fall down sometimes where you start out reading someone's Instagram comments and then you end up on some weird flat-earther/qanon forum and you're like, Damn, people believe this shit?! Also the title is never really explained. Like, I still don't get why "scary" is used as a noun. Anyway, I feel like maybe I'm either too dumb or not dumb enough for this edgelordy business.

ALISON'S BIRTHDAY (1981): Weird little Australian occult film that starts with a schoolgirl Ouija board seance and ends with a kind of Wicker Man-meets-Rosemary's Baby situation. It was a little predictable--like, how blatantly sinister are Alison's aunt and uncle?--but I still enjoyed the ride. If you're into folk horror movies (this is one of the films in the All the Haunts Be Ours box set), I think you'll like this one.


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