Classic Folklore SCPs

There are some genuinely terrifying SCPs that match closely to the folklore of this universe. Just be glad that for those of us who exist in this world these are just stories. Or are they? I cannot imagine what it’s like to live in a world where all these things actually exist for real. Since most of these are considered t obe myths and stories, perhaps we do live in a universe full of anomalous entities and monsters, and the SCP Foundation, much like the Men in Black, exists to ensure that we either don’t believe in it or don’t know about it!

SCP 993: Bobble the Clown

Clowns are a classic phobia and the SCP has several from which you can choose to be terrified. Bobble is one of the worst ones. Coulrophobia is the intense fear of clowns which can seriously impact one’s behavior and lifestyle. In this case, Bobble (SCP 993-1) affects the lives of children in an entirely different way, providing a very good reason why clowns are not to be trusted. He was the host of a short-lived children’s television show which aired in the late 80s, called Bobble the Clown, which is referred to as SCP 993. The show is classified as Safe because it is well-contained. All airings of the show are blocked from public viewing and any children tasked with watching it (for experimental purposes) are given amnestic drugs.

The show pretends to be an educational cartoon, in which Bobble has adventures alone, as there seem to be no other cast members. Anyone over the age of ten loses consciousness at the start of the program and any children watching it will receive sinister lessons from Bobble about cannibalism, torture, kidnapping, and murder. These lessons get locked into the minds of these children, and repeated viewings can result in madness. Bobble is essentially creating a generation of psychopaths. He is also preternaturally aware of the SCP and what it has done to his show.

In the very first episode, titled Bobble’s Kitchen Surprise, Bobble kidnaps a man, takes him to his home, and proceeds to instruct children in skinning, gutting, and cooking him. In other episodes, children are instructed on how to commit acts of undetectable arson, how to stalk someone without detection, how to inflict pain without causing death, and there’s even an episode set in the containment facility in which the episodes are archived, detailing the daily routines of the researchers and instructing viewers on how to breach containment and murder those workers.

Creepy.

SCP 3456:The Nuckelavee

This SCP is called the Orcadian Horseman, but as soon as I read about it, some long-stored information bubbled up in my brain about this terrifying creature from Scottish folklore. The Nuckelavee is a horselike creature that bears a minor resemblance to a centaur and could be mistaken for such at first glance. Of course, once you get a good look at it, you won’t live to tell anyone about it.

The most gruesome part of the entire thing is that this creature has no skin, and a long list of superpowers that involve toxic breath, the ability to influence events to the negative, make crops wither, and cause drought, and disease in people and animals. In folklore, you can cross running water to avoid being caught and dismembered by one of these creatures but in the SCP version that will not help you. The Orcadian Horseman is part of the deep mythology of the creation of the SCP, created and used as a creature of war by a group of proto-humans called The Daevites.

SCP 4153: Classic Wax Monsters

The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Count Dracula are some of the Classic monsters you will encounter in any reputable Wax Museum and in the SCP.

SCP 4153 is an acting troupe of wax figures that resemble the classic Horror monsters of early cinema which believe they are the actors who starred as those monsters: Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Bela Lugosi. They like to frequent carnivals, haunted houses, corn mazes, and other public venues and set up a theater to perform, using wax for their props and gore, and for changing their appearances. They can also control and create wax effigies from a distance. The SCP has a standing order to apprehend them whenever they’re reported and simply detain them.

For a really good laugh, you should read the Interview Logs between the SCP agents and the monsters! They are hilarious! Except of course for that time when there was a massive containment breach and it was found that all of the personnel at the facility had had their inner organs replaced by wax replicas weeks in advance of the group’s capture.

The troupe remains “uncontained”.

SCP 023: Black Shuck

In Irish Folklore, there is the legendary Black Dog, a forerunner of death. This creature has multiple names and is referred to as Black Shuck, Old Shuck, or Old Shock. It’s a spectral black dog that people believe roams the British countryside. A lot of people think it’s an omen of death, but for some people, the Shuck is a friendly and protective figure. In British folklore, the size and shape of the dog can vary from simply large to the size of a horse, which sounds terrifying enough if you’ve ever seen an Irish Wolfhound, but it is also said to have a single large red eye in the middle of its forehead. Okay, that doesn’t sound in the least friendly to me. Some say you have to see it to be cursed by it, but some others you only have to hear it howling for your family to be cursed.

This SCP is definitely in the dangerous category. It’s a large black shaggy dog that if one makes eye contact with it, you or a member of your family will die exactly one year after eye contact is broken. As a result, the SCP Foundation has taken certain steps to minimize this occurrence by covering the dog’s eyes with rubber stops, confining it to a single corridor within the facility that includes multiple false doors and resembles a crossroads, and banning all reflective surfaces within its enclosure. The bodies of its victims will appear untouched but when autopsied they are discovered to be filled with ashes and the inner organs cremated.

SCP 1000: Bigfoot

Bigfoot is very probably one of the most famous cryptids in America, so I’m not going to go into the folklore here, but according to the SCP Foundation, they’re very real and based on SCP 1000, a near-extinct species of primate that used to rule North America. The race once had a superior intellect and even technology to humans and were the masters of genetic manipulation. They’re nearly extinct because of a kind of magical disease they manufactured to eradicate humanity during some long-forgotten war, that rebounded onto their species. Seeking to keep human beings out of their territories they crafted a disease that kills human beings that spend too much time in proximity to them or views them for too long. Unfortunately, the disease also worked on them and it wiped out almost 99% of their race.

So yeah, the glimpses and rumors are apparently true but these beings are protected by the SCP Foundation who make it their job to police any and all reports of their sightings and work hard to make sure they stay rumors.

SCP 2191-1: The Vampire Factory

We all know about the classic vampires of folklore seen in hundreds of movies and TV shows, that are allergic to garlic, can’t be seen in mirrors, and shapeshift into bats and wolves, well the SCP Foundation has proof that such creatures actually exist. But you can forget about your dandy-ish, effete, European gentlemen vampires though, these are more like the 30 Days of Night vampires.

The containment procedures for this are special which makes this a Keter class anomaly because the Vampire Factory isn’t a person, it’s a geographical area that produces vampire-like creatures. The location is a temple-like structure built over a group of caverns in Romania. The caverns and structures are inhabited by a group of severely mutated humans which sound a lot like the vampires from Blade 2, or The Strain. From time to time the creatures will enter an active hunting phase where they leave the caverns and temple to hunt down any nearby human beings, and feed on them by means of a lamprey-like tongue that paralyzes and then liquefies its victims.

These creatures aren’t the least bit romantic so you will not be swapping spit with them under the moonlight, and pray you don’t become one of them.

SCP 872 : The Scarecrow

The living scarecrow is a real folkloric trope, but the SCP Foundation has a little bit of a twist on it. Here, we have a typical scarecrow effigy with tattered clothes, made out of wood scraps, which imparts its ability to frighten away animals to any animals that wander too close to it so they can frighten humans away. I admit I wasn’t expecting this when I heard about this trope. I was expecting the typical living scarecrow thing where it appears to be a non-living entity that moves but this is a novel use of folklore.

Any animal that wanders into a certain radius of the scarecrow will become extremely protective of that area, attacking any humans that get close to its radius. If there is a flock of animals they will behave as if they are being cultivated by people. For example, sheep will attempt to remove each other’s wool with their mouths, chickens will lay their eggs in an easy-to-access area for humans to collect, and cows will kill and dismember one member of the group each month and deposit their remains at the edge of the territory for humans to pick up. If an animal is removed from the scarecrow’s influence it will go into a catatonic state until it is put within range of the scarecrow’s influence again.

Yeah, this is terrifying in a Gary Larson cartoon kind of way.

SCP 352 : Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga is one of my all-time favorite Russian folktales. I first encountered it in elementary school and found the whole idea of a witch that lives in a house that moves around on chicken feet deliciously scary! For some reason, my childhood mind attached this entity to the story of Hansel and Gretel and the witch who lived in a candy house used to lure children probably because the version of this entity that I read about ate kids too.

The Baba Yaga does exist as a Keter Class entity in the SCP but this version is especially creepy. She still looks like an emaciated elderly Russian woman with super strength, healing abilities, and speed, but she can also grow long, nearly invisible tendrils of hair that are coated in saliva that she uses like tentacles/webs to grab prey (people). The saliva coating on the hair paralyzes her victims and induces euphoria and hallucinations so that they are docile while she eats them, one limb at a time, which can take several days.

As far as I know, this entity doesn’t fly around in a mortar and pestle or live in a house with chicken feet, but she is unremittingly hostile, using any and every opportunity to grab a meal. And yes, she does prefer to eat children.

SCP 3000: The World Serpent – Yormungunder/Jormungandr

The Jormungandr (meaning “huge monster”) is a creature from Norse mythology called The World/Midgard Serpent, and is said to be one of Loki’s children. It is said that it is so huge that it can circle the earth and grasp its own tail, which gave rise to the myth of the Ouroboros.

It’s currently located in the Bay of Bengal and is so large that it is impossible for this entity to be contained, so the SCP Foundation has decided on containment procedures that involve quarantining the area, disinformation, and erasing the memories of any who happen to encounter it, although the creature is capable of doing that on its own. It’s considered a Cognitoazard – a fancy way of saying it affects people’s mental capabilities. Direct sightings of the creature can result in head pain, loss of memory, severe paranoia, and panic which makes it easier to catch and eat prey, although it doesn’t actually seem to need sustenance. It’s largely sedentary but can move very fast when it has to. It excretes a dark grey substance from its skin which the SCP foundation collects to create its memory-erasing drugs.

SCP 1826: The Wild Hunt

In Celtic mythology, The Wild Hunt has a variety of different incarnations. It’s a large cavalcade of men and horses seen riding through the sky at certain times of the year and said to presage catastrophic events. The leader of the hunt could be any number of mythological figures from Cernnunos, to King Arthur, to Odin, and any human who saw the Hunt was said to be death-cursed, end up being hunted themselves or whisked away to the fairy underworld. One story has it that you could get out of being hunted by joining it voluntarily, although only as one of the hounds. It is even believed that the Hunt can pull people’s spirits from their bodies while they sleep.

What the SCP has however is an interesting and occasionally funny take on The Wild Hunt in the form of an abandoned office building where the Russian version of this myth has been trapped for several decades! Any female person or creature that wanders into the building at a certain time of year (usually March) will be possessed by one of the spirits of The Wild Hunt and demanifested. Her job will then be to manifest physically and challenge any male person or creature that enters the building to celebrate the return of Spring with a hunt and a duel. If she wins, the victim will be incorporated into the building, and then reproduced the next year in the form of a black wolf! If she loses the challenge then whatever male will simply be allowed to walk free.

Usually, D-Class subjects and random women are introduced to this SCP, but one year the researchers decided to put one of the D-Class up against a small female turtle, that was then sprinkled with iron filings and thus lost the match. One year the researchers thought it would be interesting to put an anteater and an ant in the building, a match that lasted about 3 seconds.

Five More Movies Too Scary For Me to Watch Again

(But I Still Like Them)

Here’s a slightly different list from the last one which mostly consisted of movies I didn’t like or didn’t finish, either because they were just bad films, or I had no patience for them. This is a list of movies I actually like. They’re perfectly acceptable and watchable movies where I liked the characters, the plot, and it looks good, but I feel no great urge to watch these again because they were emotionally exhausting, too disturbing, or genuinely too scary, at least they were for me!

Arachnophobia

Stick with me here because there’s a story that goes along with this movie. Yeah, I do have really bad arachnophobia and have had it since I was a little girl. I was the kind of person who used to look for signs of spiders in any new space I walked into. (I have since calmed down about this over the years, though.) The way my memory works I can actually recount the incident that gave me this issue ( but we not gonna talk about that). I can talk about the event that happened to me when I was in college and before this movie was released. I know it happened in that order because after I came home from college was when I saw the trailer, and my Mom would tease me about being scared to watch it. She seemed to enjoy the movie a lot, thought it was pretty funny, and wanted to share this scary movie with me, but I’m one of those (stubborn muth*fck*s is what a friend once called me) who, once she makes it up in her head to NOT do something, I don’t do it!

I was in living in a very nice house one Summer vacation. I was working at the time, but I was also in the house alone because my roommates had all gone home, and I was sitting in my room, lights and TV on, when I saw a tiny little speck near my lamp. It was not a little speck, it was a tiny spider. Yep, I had a spider egg hatch in my bedroom.

To say that I freaked the f*ck out would be an understatement! I was a hot emotional mess for a week! Luckily, I had some of the world’s greatest friends who, once they understood what the hell I was jibbering about, helped me smoke bomb my bedroom (twice) and cleaned and moved all my belongings to another part of the house. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but I was at least able to relax long enough to fall into an exhausted sleep in my own bed after two days of emotional hell. Well, my friends didn’t mock me, kept their smiling to a minimum, and seemed happy to help a damsel in distress.

Mom knew about the spider incident and understood my attitude, but she always encouraged me to move past my fears because if I didn’t at least try they would always control me. (This is from the woman who apparently had some kind of phobia about boats and New York City! What was all that about?!) Eventually, I did agree to sit down and watch it with her, with a bunch of caveats and addendums, like leaving the room if I got too scared, squealing as much as I liked, and covering my eyes if necessary. I got through the first half okay, but covered my eyes and squealed a lot for the last thirty minutes. I didn’t leave the room though, so technically speaking, I did sit through it.

And you know what? It turned out not to be a bad movie although I have not watched it again in the twenty-plus years since then, and I have no plans to watch it again in the future. Personally, I consider sitting through that movie to be one of the bravest moments in all of cinematic history!

The Void

I was not particularly weirded out by the title or the synopsis of this movie. The thumbnail of the movie on Google looked intriguing. So I sat down to watch this with the idea that it would be your typical Lovecraftian pastiche of images culled from his works and got something I wasn’t at all expecting. I more or less understood the film’s plot, and what it was trying to do, but I didn’t expect bizarre nameless cults (although I should have) body horror images (I should have expected that too), and a kind of monster siege, working the night shift sort of film, where everyone dies horribly, except when they don’t stay dead.

It’s easy enough to describe the movie, but any description you give it won’t actually resemble the movie you will be watching, but I’m gonna give it a try. There’s a bunch of people stuck in a hospital on the night shift, only a few of whom are actually medical personnel. The rest are random townsfolk who are trapped in the hospital because some oddly dressed cultists besieged the town and were killing people, so the rest ran to the hospital. There are some weird medical experiments going on in the basement that involve the birth of an infernal creature from a young girl, the opening of Hellish portals, and lots of goo, blood, guts, and some tentacles.

That was as much as I understood, but that doesn’t mean the movie is ineffective. I’ve no great urge to watch it again because it was a genuinely disturbing film whose effect lingers long after it’s over, and I don’t have to watch it again because I clearly remember how uncomfortable I felt while looking at it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there are movies that do this that I have re-watched, and if that is the kind of mood you’re looking for, then by all means, go for it, and tell me how it worked out for you.

Imma wait over here!

Annihilation

I generally like the works of Alex Garland, someone I didn’t pay any special attention to when his career began with The Beach in 2000. I didn’t even watch The Beach. I dismissed it. But then he came out with 28 Days later and I perked up. There was a new cinematic voice in Horror, and I’ve been present for most of his movies since, like Sunshine, Dredd, and Ex Machina. I sat through most of those without issue, and they were all very good, but in 2018 Garland released Annihilation, based on the book by another of my favorite artists, Jeff Vendermeer. When I heard about the movie I decided to read the three-book series, and I enjoyed them, for the most part.

The movie combines all three books of the series into one long story with yet another Lovecraftian theme. A section of the US has been taken over by something called The Shimmer. Elena’s husband went into The Shimmer, which warps biology, and he disappeared. Except he also came back, alone. Intrigued, she and a team of 4 other women go into The Shimmer to explore its purpose, with each woman having her own agenda. Elena wants to find out what happened to her husband. Each of the women find some thing they weren’t expecting which has a profound effect on the rest of their lives.

There are some genuinely panstshittingly frightening moments in this film, like when Elena and her team are attacked by a mutated bear that screams with the voices of the people it’s killed, but beyond that the movie is just weird, and sad, and yeah, there’s that word again, disturbing. It’s not a bad film. I actually like the film. It’s also not particularly hard to watch because it contains some genuine moments of true beauty. But it is another movie where the mood and flavor of it linger long after it’s over, and I have not been in the headspace to be able to watch it.

I will likely watch this again at some point in the future, because it is an effective, thoughtful, and terrifying film, but not yet.

The Revenant

Honestly, this is a great survival horror film, and if you like those types of films you should by all means watch this, but be prepared to feel as if you’ve been emotionally defenestrated in the aftermath. This movie is exhausting on a physical level, too. I just felt wrung out after watching this.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy the movie is based on the true story of a man (DiCaprio) who was left for dead in the wilderness by his business partner, (Tom Hardy) who, after killing DiCaprio’s son, went back to the nearest town and made the claim on his half of their business dealings, only to have his partner stumble out of the wilderness several weeks later.

For some reason the most distressing movies for me seem to involve bear attacks, although I do not think I have any kind of bear phobia. DiCaprio’s character braves the worst excesses of trying to survive an environment that is inimical to human life, like snow, freezing water, wild animals, lack of food, and angry Indigenous people, just to enact vengeance on his partner.

This movie just slaps the shit out of you emotionally. Well, it did that for me, but your mileage may vary depending on how much energy reserves you possess. This is another excellent film with great acting, cinematography, and a very compelling story that I will probably never watch again. Or if I do, I’m going to need to rest up, eat my vitamins, and do my breathing first.

The Descent

Oh man was this movie hard to watch, and not because of the monsters. I don’t actually have claustrophobia but this movie might give it to you if you don’t. It’s a harrowing film. I was exhausted and saddened after watching it. The most devastating moment isn’t the deaths at the beginning of the film but something that happens midway through it that completely upends the relationships between the rest of the characters.

A team of women friends decide to go caving in a previously unexplored system after the death of the main character’s husband and child in a driving accident the previous year. The team are attacked by a race of terrifying cannibalistic mutants and taken out one by one until there’s only one of them left. There’s plenty of blood and gore, but that’s not what upset me the most, and no spoilers, but it’s about the characters, comes completely out of left field, changes everyone’s dynamic, and therefore their chances of survival.

It’s a very effective film. I don’t often mind when films do the unexpected or throw something at me out of the blue, especially when it’s as well done as it was here. I didn’t choose these movies because I disliked them. I chose them because I liked them. Some of them are great films, but were so emotionally draining I simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth to put myself through them again anytime soon.

Movies Too Scary For Me To Watch Twice

I love Horror movies but believe it or not Even I draw the line at watching some stuff. I prefer Creature Features which are comedies above all other types of Horror, and I can and will get into some straight Psychological Horror. Some things don’t particularly interest me, though I will watch them on occasion, like ghosts, haunted mansions, or most Slasher films. I draw the line at Torture Porn and movies like The Human Centipede which aren’t scary to me. They’re just nasty, and yes, there is a difference. There are different types of scary movies, some of which are very enjoyable, almost fun, like Tremors, The Mist, or even movies like Halloween, but some movies are scary but not enjoyably so. Not because they are serious films but because they’re depressing or raise my anxiety levels too high to be a fun experience. For example, I have fire-fear, so any movies that heavily involve flames (or nuclear annihilation) are super upsetting for me, and I just can’t watch them.

That said, there are a few movies that are simply too scary for me to watch more than once. Here are five movies (and one extra) that I didn’t want or need to watch a second time.

Coraline

I was so incredibly creeped out by this movie that I’ve been reluctant to watch it ever since. For some reason, this is a movie that just awakens all the feels. Coraline’s exasperation with her negligent parents, and her reticence around her weird neighbors, I didn’t even like the little cat…there’s just something about the animation style that just ups the creep factor for me, probably because I’ve always associated stop-motion with those Ray Harryhausen Horror movies.

Yes, I know it’s a children’s film. Yes, I know it’s an animated movie, but for me, Coraline is still one of the most hardcore scariest animated films I’ve ever watched. There’s the dread factor for one thing. Just like Coraline, you know the Other World is just a little too good to be true, and you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, so the idea that the Other Mother is a brutal predator that lures young kids into her world by offering them the thing they most want: loving parents who dote on them, is not actually surprising. You were kind of expecting things to go horribly wrong and it’s the anticipation of that wrongness that makes the movie scary.

When Coraline first meets The Other Mother, she essentially gets love-bombed by a giant spider-adjacent creature that is only pretending to care about her so she can use her for food, which all sounds pretty terrifying to me. I do like that Coraline manages to keep her head to a certain degree. She never completely succumbs to the allure of the Other World, continues to question what’s going on around her, and like me, she is firmly committed to the idea that buttons for eyes are a very nasty bit of body Horror.

The H-Man (1958)

I think I talked about this movie before and how I tried to watch this movie late one night a few years ago and spent the next several days having paranoid jitters and being unwilling to turn off the lights in my bedroom. Decades later and I still think this movie is simply pants-shittingly frightening! On the surface, it doesn’t seem all that scary, but I also mentioned I’ve got issues with the idea of sentient slime that actively hunts its prey and this is what The H-Man is all about.

The H stands for Hydrogen, as in the Hydrogen bomb which is what the Atomic bomb was first called when it was invented. The H-Man is the result of nuclear energy mutating human beings into sentient runny snot creatures, that are vaguely humanoid in shape, which is even more frightening. What’s even worse is that I read a theory a few years ago that suggested that the creatures might not even be malevolent or hungry, that in approaching people they are trying to get help for their condition. I’m not sure I believe that theory but it is still a very nasty idea.

The creatures definitely look like they’re hunting people on purpose though, and they rely on a certain amount of confusion and deception to do it. Worst than the victims who don’t know the creatures are there at all, are those poor victims who don’t see them and just walk right into them! Or the ones that do see them, have no f*cking idea what they’re looking at, and don’t run away (which isn’t going to save them anyway because the creatures are silent and sneaky).

Hereditary

I only needed to watch this movie one time. This movie is a hellish f*cking nightmare. It’s not because the movie is so incredibly frightening, although that is a small part of it, it’s just once you know where the story has gone, and what it meant, there’s no point in ever subjecting yourself to it again. The entire story is so dark and depressing that I just didn’t have the heart to watch it again.

It is an interesting demonic possession film, which is something I haven’t seen since The Exorcist. I avoid most such films because they’re usually just thinly veiled retreads of The Exorcist anyway, but this movie avoids all the common tropes of bodily contortions and women screaming at crosses, for something a lot more subtle, that the viewer has to slowly piece together from the clues given to them, and once they reach that conclusion they realize this movie was NEVER going to have a happy ending for any of the characters. Also, there are people on fire and I don’t like that!

Lights Out

The first time I heard of this was as a short film on Youtube which definitely creeped me out. It’s about a creature that can only be seen and felt in darkness. She (her name is Diana) only appears when you turn off the lights. I feel like the movie was less effective than the short film, but hey! it was still pretty effective. It’s the idea that darkness hides evil things, and the movie preys on your childhood fears of trying to hop into (or out of) the bed without letting the thing under it grab your ankle after you’ve turned off the light, or reaching around the edge of a door to flip a light switch and being terrified that something might touch your hand.

I had no intention of watching the movie after seeing the short film, but I thought I would be clever by watching it on one sunny Saturday afternoon thinking to myself, how scared could I get in the daytime? Well, I got plenty scared to the point where I didn’t want to sleep with the lights off that night.

The Sadness

It’s not so much that this was scary, although it was, but it was definitely too much for me and I didn’t even get halfway through it before I just quit. It’s a bit of a cross between a zombie movie and a demonic possession film. People who contract an airborne disease become unrelentingly sadistic, willing to torture and kill their neighbors in a sudden fit of violence.

This movie is so incredibly, over-the-top violent that I just couldn’t sit through it and, I really thought I was up to the task when I sat down. It is a hot mess of torture and gore and I’m not into gore simply for its own sake which is what parts of this movie turned out to be. But part of the problem was also that the two leads were very sympathetic characters that I genuinely liked, and it was really hard to watch the two of them try to survive the events of this movie, and I simply couldn’t bear to watch them go through so much pf the pain and trauma I was witnessing in this film, so I quit.

Honorable Mention:

Ju-On

Ju-On was not my first brush with J-Horror but it was the first Japanese Horror movie that I took seriously. Most Japanese Horror movies that I saw before this were just funny or simply uninteresting but this was genuinely frightening for me. Because it’s Japanese I didn’t have any of the usual Western tropes to fall back on in interpreting what any of the images meant. As a result, I had no f*cking clue what was happening, and in some cases didn’t even know what to think about what I was seeing other than “Well shit!!!”

I have watched this movie exactly twice though and could make no more sense of it than the first time I saw it. Don’t get me wrong. I can discern the plot and I get what was happening from it, but most of the time it’s just a succession of terribly frightening images, and the characters can’t seem to do anything to help their situation, so the movie is pretty bleak. I have an aversion to movies like The Ring and Cujo where the characters have so little recourse to correct their situation. There’s little to nothing they can do to fix the situation they’re in and just have to suffer through it, and the idea that they are trapped by their circumstances or the villain is something that really bothers me.

(This particular list of Japanese Horror movies also contains the movie Ringu, another movie I will probably not watch again. Once was more than enough.)

Halloween Ends (Halloween Trilogy Review)

(Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers)

Halloween Ends is the last movie in the David Gordon Green trilogy. It streamed on Peacock this past weekend and I have some thoughts.

From the beginning, I’ve always thought of the Halloween franchise (at least the first two films, and a couple of the sequels) as not just an analysis of the continuing (and now, generational) trauma of its Final Girl, Laurie Strode, but as a statement on suburban America itself. I wrote about how and why the suburbs were created in Starring the Landscape: The Suburbs, and how I saw the Halloween films as an indictment of a lifestyle that was formed out of fear of the other (the Blackness/multiculturalism of the cities). White people in the suburbs spent their lives in fear that the evil of the cities would invade their communities, and we can see this in the endless number of “bucolic community” invasion films of the 80s, the rampant rumors that sprang up during the BLM protests of crowds of angry Black people burning and looting suburban neighborhoods, and in the proliferation of guns in those communities because of an unfounded terror of (Black) home invasions.

I think what Halloween and other Slasher films, like Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street, were saying is that evil is created within these communities, that it is not something that can be run from because it is part of the human condition, people carry those seeds with them no matter where they flee, and that sometimes evil isn’t just born in such environments, but will keep returning to haunt them until it is properly dealt with. Such is the case in these films, where every few years, as if in some vicious cycle, Michael Myers, an evil created and nurtured in the suburban community of Haddonfield, arrives to terrorize and destroy the lives of its inhabitants.

Forty years ago Laurie Strode suffered tremendous loss and trauma as all her friends were hunted and killed by Michael Myers and she was terrorized for hours while trying to safeguard the children she was babysitting that night.

In the first movie of this trilogy, the 2018 Halloween, Myers returns to Haddonfield to begin that night’s killing spree and Laurie, suffering from PTSD and paranoia for four decades has been getting ready for him. She knows that he will inevitably come hunting her. She raised her daughter, Karen to be just as paranoid in defending her life, and outfitted her home with traps to capture and kill Michael. The first movie, ignoring all the sequels and remakes in the last forty years, is about Laurie and her family dealing with that long ago trauma, and how the only thing that can help her get past her pain is the cathartic destruction of Michael Myers. This movie and its follower, Halloween Kills, are about survivors and grief.

The second film, Halloween Kills, is a continuation of the first film on that same night, only here it’s about the cyclical trauma Haddonfield itself, the nature of evil, and how that evil is born in communities like it and features many of the characters who survived the 1978 film. This time they decide to fight back too, in support of Laurie, and they hunt Michael through the streets of Haddonfield, which gets most of them killed, and results in the death of an innocent man accused of being him. One sign of the evil within the community is their willingness (out of fear and hatred) to engage in the same behavior that they condemn Michael for, and an innocent man pays the price. Although their fear and hatred of Michael are justified, it is still the resident’s willingness to kill that’s a symptom of the dark underbelly within such communities. This is a plot that also has parallels in The Nightmare on Elm Street series, where the child killer, Freddie Krueger, is the end result of the decision made by their parents to kill the predator who was preying on the children in their community. It’s not the residents of Haddonfield’s motivation that is at issue but their willingness to engage in mob justice that is a sign of the community’s inner darkness.

Halloween Ends is a continuation of the idea that small towns and suburbs harbor and produce evil. I know other people were watching this movie with the idea of clocking the body count, or how long and hard the fight would be between Laurie and Michael, and who would win, but that’s not the focus of this movie, and if that’s what you’re looking for then you may be disappointed. This movie is a bit more philosophical and quieter than some people might like it to be.

The story picks up four years later, and we have come full circle as Laurie while writing her memoir, is still recovering emotionally from the events of Halloween Kills, when Michael returned to Haddonfield and killed nearly three dozen people, along with her daughter Karen. She has decided not to live in the prison of paranoia and anger that ruled her life for so many decades while raising her granddaughter Allyson and mending their relationship.

But, because evil never dies, we find out that Michael has not left Haddonfield at all, and has been living in the sewers while recovering from the damage that was inflicted on him four years ago. His presence is discovered by a bullied young man named Corey whom the townsfolk accused of killing a young boy under his charge on the night of Michael’s rampage. Corey is a volatile and angry young man who isn’t killed by Michael but adopts Michael’s mask and goes on a killing spree of his own in Michael’s stead, such is how evil is passed on to the next generation. He and Allyson develop a relationship that threatens to destroy her and Laurie’s emotional recovery and while trying to protect Allyson from herself and Corey, Laurie eventually interacts with Michael again by the end of the movie.

There’s plenty of killing in the film, just not done by Michael, and the confrontation between Laurie and Michael is relegated to the end of the movie almost as an afterthought since it’s almost a given who will win the fight. Just as in Halloween Kills, where Laurie mostly sat out the plot so the writers could make their point, Michael mostly sits this one out. The theme here isn’t just that evil is born from the town’s secrets, but is actively created by the town’s treatment of people whom they believe have trespassed against conformity, like Corey, or the mentally unstable man the residents hounded to his suicide in the last film after he was wrongly accused of being Myers.

Corey is the much-put-upon town scapegoat. He is bullied by the students at his school because of his reputation as a monster, also by his angry and overbearing mother, and he is responsible for most of the deaths in the movie as he decides, after meeting Michael, (who unexpectedly lets him live), that he is tired of the town’s judgment of him and is going to live down to his reputation. Accompanied by Allyson (who is unaware of what he’s been doing) he goes on a killing spree that includes the town bullies, his parents, and several bystanders before he confronts Laurie, who shoots him. In a last-ditch attempt to sabotage Laurie’s relationship with Allyson, (which has been heavily frayed throughout the movie), he makes it look like Laurie stabbed him when Allyson comes home.

Allyson and Corey form a bond because she finds him attractive and he is able to prey on her fears and disappointments about living in Haddonfield. Something in his darkness speaks to the secrets that she has been withholding from her grandmother, and her reaction to Laurie’s distrust of Corey tells us that she isn’t as healed from the trauma of losing her mother as she seemed. Like Laurie did at the same age, she lost her boyfriend, most of her friends, and most of her family, and she has not dealt with the fallout of so much loss, while Laurie still healing from her own pain, has somewhat neglected Allyson’s, which allowed Corey to twist that trauma into anger at her grandmother.

In the end, it is Laurie who survives their last fight, but Michael’s death (for real this time and from which there is absolutely no coming back) is a cathartic affair for the entire town, who join her in the final destruction of his body. Allyson realizes that part of her healing means leaving Haddonfield, but she is not fleeing from her trauma, as she would have if she had eloped with Corey, but moving towards a possible future where she is not shackled to the town’s secrets, and Laurie expresses her healing by finally opening herself up to having new friends (and a possible relationship with the town sheriff).

Although I didn’t like the direction of this film at first, I am satisfied with this ending, which was a lot more contemplative than I thought it would be, and shows that David Gordon Green had a clear agenda in telling the story in the manner in which he did. It really felt like an end, like Laurie’s nightmare (and that of Haddonfield’s) is finally over, and it puts Halloween Kills, a film I was somewhat disappointed by, in a new light. When watched individually the films do leave something to be desired, but taken as a whole I feel the trilogy was successful in keeping the point of its themes, in ending Haddonfield and Laurie’s story on a positive note, with more than enough gore and killing to satisfy most Slasher film fans.

***Once again, I appear to be in the minority in liking this film. I didn’t love it, but it is a decent conclusion, and taken as a whole, I feel it’s a good trilogy. I’ve also observed that most people (the vast majority of the ones talking about it are white men who only want to see people dying horribly) are not looking at it as one part of a whole and that many of them have completely missed the point of the trilogy entirely. Nobody seems to see this movie the way I did. I feel that it’s a decent standalone movie but it must be taken into account as part of a trilogy and understood in that light since that was how it was filmed. Perhaps when more people go back and watch all three movies in succession they will see what David Gordon Green was trying to do, and be willing to defend his vision.

Scary (Or Not) Short Films for Halloween

I stumbled across an entire series of these terrifying TikTok videos recently ,and by terrifying I mean it’s probably not a good idea to watch these late at night. But…during the day they might seem pretty funny, and are a great illustration of how comedy and horror are two sides of the same coin.

One of the reasons I love horror comedies so much is, as has been said before, horror is comedy without the punchline. It’s also been said that what horror and comedy have in common is the overturning of an expectation. You either laugh or jump based on what you expect to happen, so I hope you enjoy these videos (if that’s a word that can be used here), as much as I did.

TikTok Nightmare Creatures Compilation

Sometimes expectations are overturned in some very surprising ways. I really enjoyed this video. In fact, I loved it and would enjoy seeing a movie made from it.

I Live Here Too

Some videos aren’t exactly horror but they are mysterious and disturbing like this early one from Denis Villenueve, the director of Dune and Bladerunner 2049. What exactly is going on here? What is the point of it?

Next Floor

I kept stumbling across horror animations by the grickle and thought I’d choose one of my favorites for this post. For the record, I have never liked nor understood the purpose of lawn gnomes.

The Hidden People

Sometimes something is much more comedy than horror. This is from the same group that brought you the slasher boy band, The Merkins. I could not stop laughing at this because I love the first two Predator movies and I used to watch this other show late in the evening, about a journalist who would trick child predators into being interviewed (and sometimes arrested) on live television.

To Catch A Predator

As funny as the previous video is, this one is my personal favorite for this Halloween combining two of my favorite things, The Exorcist movie, and candy.

The Exortwist

Streaming in October: Mini – Reviews

I started off the month of October by easing into the Horror movie genre with some classic favorites like Alien and The Thing, but at a certain point it was time for me to move on and try new movies and shows (see my review of Interview with the Vampire on AMC) and these are some of the new shows I watched just this weekend. I enjoyed all of these and want to give a quick rundown on what to expect if you come across them.

Let The Right One In – Epis. 1 (Showtime)

This is a new series on Showtime that’s based on the Swedish vampire movie Let The Right One In, about a child vampire that befriends a lonely bullied little boy who lives in her new apartment building.

This version is set in the US, so it’s a little more like the American version of the above film, titled Let Me In (which I also enjoyed for different reasons). The story has been modernized from the book version as well. In the book Ellie is a vampire that’s very, very old, she doesn’t know how old she is because her brain has not developed beyond twelve years old.

In this series, she has only just been turned into a vampire and she is traveling to different cities with her father, who is trying to find the vampire that attacked her based on if there are any serial killings going on in that city. At the same time, he’s trying to deal with her insatiable need for blood because he doesn’t want her attacking (and possibly creating) new vampires, which is what happens when a person gets bitten, but not killed, in this series version of vampirism.

Ellie meets a little black kid at her new apartment building, who is being ostracized and bullied in school (because I suspect he’s on the spectrum). I liked the boy whose name I cannot remember just now, but he loves magic tricks and loves to show them to people. Ellie is all set to eat him until he shows her a magic trick. She has eyes that glow in the dark, which fascinate him, and she tells him it’s magic, and that’s how the two bond. In the meantime, her father is responsible for a tragic event that is going to upheave her new friend’s life, and the cops are investigating the murders that her father is committing on Ellie’s behalf to get blood for her. You realize that her father is using the other murders as a cover for committing his own.

Ellie is very likable and the relationship with her actual father is the focus of the series, unlike in the movies where the focus is on the relationship with her new friend. In the movies, the man taking care of her isn’t her father, but some other little boy she met many decades ago who grew to adulthood as her human servant. Ellie and her dad are Latine, so I can’t help but think there’s some dialogue occurring here about immigrants and new situations, and people, but I’m not an immigrant or Latine so I can’t definitely say. Just like in the movies though, there’s a focus on the logistics of keeping Ellie fed because if he doesn’t, as a predator, she is perfectly capable of going out and procuring her own blood.

The first episode is free on Prime, but I’m not going to sign up for Showtime to watch the rest of this. It’s not a bad episode but there are a few too many coincidences that might not sit well with others. I can’t say it’s enjoyable, because it actually is too tense and suspenseful to be fun, but it makes a good effort to reproduce the feelings of melancholy and dread from both movies. It’s too convoluted to be truly scary. Scary needs to have a bit more mystery, and there are too many things that are explained in this episode, but the tension and dread are there though.

Werewolf by Night (Disney+)

I didn’t think I was going to be too heavily into this show, which is not a series as far as I can tell but just an hour-long Halloween special of some kind, based on the comic book of the same name, but it turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought. I thought I wouldn’t Ike it because it’s shot in black and white and some of the acting is in the old classic 30s style of filmmaking, but I slipped right into the story and had no trouble following what was going on. It was all good fun, and the fight scenes were excellent!

In this story, a group of monster hunters congregate to compete for a McGuffin called the Bloodstone, the only object in the show that’s shown in color. That’s it, really. The guy who owns the Bloodstone dies and holds a contest where the hunters are encouraged to take each other out (thereby eliminating their competition), while they’re also hunting a monster (a werewolf) who has been planted within the group.

You’re definitely going to feel some type of way about the participants because some of them look pretty cool, but you do become aware that these are probably not good people, and that there are certain characters you’re meant to root for. One of the biggest things that threw me off my game was seeing one Marvel character show up at the end of the show! If you’re aware of the history of Swamp Thing (who is a DC character) then you might also be aware that he was preceded by a Marvel character called The Man-Thing whose catchline in the comic books was: Whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch!

But that’s not the only easter egg for fans of Marvel comics, and series. I missed most of them because there was a lot of stuff I haven’t read, and a few series I skipped, but it was still fun even if you know nothing about the comic books or other shows. The plot and characters aren’t dependent on any of that stuff.

I’m not going to say what happens at the end, but it’s interesting because while some of the show is pretty predictable that part was not, and now I’m interested in seeing a lot more of this part of the Marvel universe which is basically a set up for adding demons, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures into the MCU, like Blade! I mostly ignored the monster parts of the Marvel comic books. I did read some of the Werewolf by Night comic books, and I’m familiar with a couple of demonic superheroes, but mostly I ignored all the vampires and demons and stuff. So this part of the MCU will kind of be new to me too.

This show isn’t especially scary but the fight scenes are pretty gory and brutal, alleviated by the aspect of a lack of color. I wouldn’t let little kids watch it but it’s okay for kids above twelve maybe, who are used to watching horror/action movies.

Hellraiser (Hulu)

I was having some feelings about watching this one. In one aspect, I was eagerly looking forward to watching it, because I liked the first film in the franchise, have never watched a single one of the various sequels, and I was curious about the new Hell Priest being played by a woman. I’ve read all of the books about Pinhead and the Cenobites, including the comic books, and the last two Hellraiser books called The Scarlet Gospels, and The Toll and I enjoyed those.

The movie isn’t great, but it is very compelling and worth watching. If you’ve seen all the other movies in the franchise your mileage may vary, but I generally liked it and will watch it again when I’m in a mood.

The lead character is a flawed woman named Riley, a former drug addict/alcoholic living with her brother, his boyfriend, and another woman friend of theirs. She is the kind of woman who has a habit of making bad choices (probably as a way to run away from a tragic past which we don’t get details about) and one of those mistakes is having regular sex with a guy she just met. Through him, she gets mixed up in the machinations of the villain, a wealthy man who owned the Hellraiser box, got what he wished for, and now horribly regrets being given what he requested.

One of the primary themes of the Hellraiser franchise is people calling up the Cenobites, either through ignorance, or greed, and fucking around and finding out that the demons have nothing to give you that you would actually want to have and that anything they give you will only involve you suffering horribly. The only thing the Cenobites have to offer is one form of suffering or another, and it’s interesting to me that so many of the people who call on them think otherwise.

Through a combination of ignorance and reckless behavior the Cenobites take Riley’s brother, and she spends the rest of the movie trying to solve the puzzle in an effort to save him while sacrificing the people she knows along the way. The rules are that when she solves the final puzzle she will be given five or six themes from which to choose, and one of those is the resurrection of her brother. Riley makes a more interesting choice that shows her growth as a person, especially after all the death she has caused.

I genuinely liked this and feel it lived up to the standards of the original film, but then I can say that having watched not a single one of the movies beyond the second one. The new Hell Priest, Jamie Clayton, has a difficult job to do because, no matter what, she’s going to be compared to Doug Bradley, the original Pinhead, but I think she holds her own. She doesn’t possess his sheer gravity or his voice, but she is quietly, and frighteningly compelling in her own way (and oddly beautiful) and she does get to recite some favorite lines from the original film, making them her own.

The overriding theme is addiction and how far people are willing to go to feed one. Riley has been using addiction to run away from a painful past, and one of the primary reasons people call on the Cenobites in the first place is because many of them are suffering from various addictions and are greedy for more sensations, or are trying to escape from pain, which is ironic, but also makes Riley’s choice at the end even more interesting.

**If you are not into the Hellraiser movies this is not the place to start. We are talking extreme body horror, so if you have a problem with gore, this is not for you. I have friends who do not like Horror movies and I would never recommend something like this to them, not even jokingly. This movie is for hardcore Horror fans only.

Interview With The Vampire (TV Series) – Epis. 1

It’s time for me to talk about the new AMC series Interview with the Vampire, which is not exactly based on the movie from 1994 which starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, but kind of sort of is a little bit. This series is a continuation of that movie and takes place some thirty or forty years after the first interview between a mortal named Daniel Malloy (Eric Bogosian) and the vampire Louis du Ponte Du Lac. Daniel is much older (something which initially threw me off a bit before I understood what the show was doing) and has Parkinson’s, and he agrees to do another interview with Louis to set the record straight, wrap things up, or because Daniel never got the chance to publish the first interview because Louis bit him and kept the cassettes. Louis now lives in a uv-fortified apartment in Dubai, with a coterie of human servants, and invites Daniel back for another interview. Daniel is understandably reluctant after what happened the last time.

I, like everyone else, had some misgivings about the series, especially after I heard about the changes that were being made to it, but not for the reasons that most people did. There are three major changes from the book version that people expressed some anxiety about. Louis is now a Black man (and not bi-racial as I first thought), Claudia is biracial and has been aged up to fourteen (in the novel she is about five or six), and the setting is now pre-war New Orleans around 1910. The reason I felt some type of way about these changes is because the showrunner is a white guy, and white men have shown me multiple times that they are incapable of writing sensitively about Black characters (ala. American Gods), but the showrunner here did what at least a few of them have learned how to do in the past several years, (see Star Trek Discovery and The Watchmen), and that is hiring writers from marginalized groups and actually listening to them, instead of acting like they know better than the people who are part of the communities being written about. It’s not a perfect solution. Ideally, I want the writers and showrunners to be members of the groups in question, but I’ll settle for this arrangement, if it means better representation because it’s not enough that marginalized people be present onscreen, they have to be represented in a sensitive manner.

After watching the first two episodes, I’m on board with these changes because the story really hasn’t been greatly upheaved, (although we have yet to see Claudia so I don’t know how that’s going to be handled), and the topic of race has been handled in a sensitive enough manner that most Black people won’t be triggered by the content. Because Louis is Black the creators did not want to have him as the owner of a plantation in the 1800s, although as part of the community of free people of New Orleans, his father did, at some point, enslave Black people. But I can understand why that was changed because that would have been even more objectionable than his current profession as part owner of a string of brothels. The time period was also updated and Louis is in one of the few professions that would have allowed his family to hold onto the wealth that Louis’ father squandered, and a brothel owner still involves the exploitation of Black bodies, so it’s not entirely unrelated. Some people objected to him being portrayed as a pimp, but I feel no particular way about that, and it’s a convenient excuse for him to come into contact with Lestat while keeping their basic relationship and the story structure intact. I have yet to see any Black misery porn in the series just for the sake of it being there, and only heard the N* word thrown out once (by a character that is subsequently brutally killed).

The chemistry between the two leads played by Jacob Anderson and Sam Reid is absolutely electric, and the series stays focused on them and their relationship, rather than side plots, since it’s being told from Louis’ point of view from the future (along with knowledge he didn’t possess in that first interview), and I deeply appreciate that. The episodes begin and end with Daniel and Louis but those are kept to a minimum, are entertaining, and are also funny. The show also doesn’t waste a lot of time. Louis becomes a vampire by the end of the first episode, and most of the second episode is about him adjusting to his new condition.

Their relationship heavily reminds me of the messy relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal series, and I’m here for messy gay relationships. Louis recognizes that he is gay but is deeply closeted until he meets Lestat. His family suspects and disapproves, but since he is the one who holds the family purse strings, they don’t object too loudly, although Rae Dawn Chong as his mother is a master of The Dismissal. Louis’ brother is also featured in the first episode. Unlike the novel, the two don’t fight and there is real friendship and love between them, but events occur as they do in the book, and it’s the reason Louis ends up in Lestat’s arms.

The dialogue and conversations between Louis and Lestat hew as closely to the novel as possible, but where the book was kind of hedgy about their relationship status, the show is explicit. Louis and Lestat live together, flirt, have sex, fight, kiss, make up, have a child, and engage in all the same operatic infighting that young lovers get up to when they have far too much energy. The writers tried to remain as true to the book as possible with lots of nice little easter eggs for those of us who have read The Vampire Lestat. Lestat’s childhood dream of becoming a priest gets a mention, Marius and Lestat’s first lover, Nicky, also get a shoutout, and I believe Lestat has a painting of his vampire mother, Gabrielle, on the wall of his home. Sam Reid is every bit as engaging a character as Lestat is supposed to be, and Jacob Anderson holds his own with him.

There is one major sex scene in the first episode, but most of the sex scenes involve threesomes as the two vampires feeding on someone is often a euphemism for it. The show is also not without some humor. It doesn’t take itself very seriously but isn’t exactly camp either. I thought from the trailers that it was going to be one of those highly operatic, over-the-top, overcooked hot messes, but the show is rather sedate and what you see in the trailer are the highest points of emotion in that episode, not the quiet moments that led up to that point, or an indication of the mood of the rest of the show. The humor is very sly, with blink-and-you-‘ll-miss-it one-liners, Lestat’s general bitchiness, something featured heavily in the second novel, or actions and conversations between the characters are just funny. I thought the episodes were funny but it’s not a comedy.

The show touches on Louis being a Black man in the South with a certain amount of sensitivity and addresses his lack of equality with the white men around him (including Lestat) even though he is wealthy, and for all intents and purposes, a superior predator, and that’s illustrated in a scene where Louis feels disrespected by a white man of his acquaintance and brutally kills him. They live in an environment where he cannot be seen to be Lestat’s equal in public, and must always defer to him when they go into whites-only spaces (like the opera), with Louis posing as Lestat’s valet in front of an audience, but behaving as equals once the curtain goes up. Lestat is from France but is reluctant to go back there (we will find out why later), but I can’t help but feel that Louis wouldn’t have to act this way in France, where things were not as strict, and American-born Black people were much tolerated at the time, especially if they had money.

Just to note, there is a lot of blood spilled in this series. There is gore and some nudity, some of it full frontal for those of you who feel some type of way about all that. This is not like the CW. It’s a show for adults although mature teens can certainly access it. The series has a very cinematic feel, and the costumes and sets look like someone spent some money on them. Christopher Rice and his mother Anne were involved in the writing of the series before her passing last year so that made me feel at least a little bit better about the direction of the series. The idea is to slowly incorporate ideas and characters from all the other books as the series continues. I was hoping for a bunch of mini-series based on individual books but this is good too. I’m really enjoying it a lot so far, and I’m excited about its future. There have only been two episodes so there’s still plenty of room for the creators to mess this up but they started off very well, and I eagerly await the next episode.

Interview with the Vampire will air every Sunday on AMC, and last seven episodes. If you subscribe to AMC you can watch the first two.

AMC has already renewed the series for a second season.

Halloween Music Playlist

One of the great things about October is listening to some of my favorite songs that come from Horror movies. So let’s catch some of these needle drops from Horror movies, which are perfectly okay for listening to all year long.

These first two songs I discovered on YouTube. They’re not from movies, but they are entirely appropriate for Halloween, so I thought I’d put these first. I don’t know what I was looking for at the time but I found these songs by The Merkins ridiculously funny. There’s an entire album’s worth of these, each one of the characters in the group also gets a solo song, and it just tickled me that all of them are sung completely straight like this. Incidentally, “to merc” is the new slang for murder so even the group name is a joke.

Dreamer’s Paradise – The Merkins

I’ll Kill You That Way – The Merkins

This one is one of my new favorites and it comes from one of the top Horror movies this year, Jordan Peele’s NopeExuma: The Obeah Man.

I am one of five people that probably even remember this song from the 2016 Ghostbusters: Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) by Fall Out Boy/Missy Elliott.

No One Believes Me by Kid Cudi from the 2011 Fright Night. This is one of my favorite vampire songs. I absolutely love this video and how much I wish it were a movie.

Here is a song from another Jordan Peele joint (the man has impeccable taste in music), I Got Five On It, from the movie US. I’ve always thought this song was creepy but there were no Horror movies associated with it until Peel made it explicit.

Here is The Candyman from the 2021 version of Nia Dacosta’s Candyman.

From the 1990s version of Stephen King’s The Stand: Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. This was also used in John Carpenter’s Halloween.

This is a very popular song for movies but it was very well used in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake When the Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash.

Here, using The Munster’s theme song as the foundation is Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On.

In case you have not had enough Jordan Peele, here is Childish Gambino’s Redbone, from the movie Get Out!

This is from one of my all-time favorite vampire movies, Joel Schumaker’s 1987 The Lost Boys, the song Cry Little Sister.

The Addams Family movies had some good songs attached to them. Here is the theme song from the first movie performed by MC Hammer, Addams Family Groove.

And for those of you who haven’t seen it in a while, A Bonus Video:

Favorite Campy Horror Films

What I find funny isn’t immediately obvious to a lot of my friends. They don’t know what I might or might not find hilarious, so are hesitant to introduce me to things THEY think are funny.

Plenty of movies make me laugh though, and I’m a huge fan of completely absurdist, campy (and occasionally tasteless) humor. Some of my requirements for making this list is that the plot is ludicrous, but at least one of the actors is taking the plot seriously, and at least one other actor recognizes exactly what type of movie they’re in and is just rolling with it. Sometimes the plot is deeply stupid, trashy (usually because of some implied sexual issue) and/or tastelessly over the top, but everyone in the movie plays it completely straight, or the plot is actually what’s serious and straightforward, but the actor’s reactions are exaggerated.

There is a thin line between Campy, Horror/Comedy, and Parody and not everyone can tell the difference. Sometimes there is a lot of overlap, but most people, even if they can’t describe what it is, know Camp when they see it. For example, Rob Zombie’s Halloween is trashy, but it isn’t Campy. The new Munsters movie however is all Camp. In a Campy film, things tend to be overdone. The color is more saturated, the acting is just a bit long, and the plot is just a bit too of whatever it is. There’s a fine dance of all these elements and too much of one thing, and not enough of another, can put a film in a different subgenre.

Here’s a list of the movies I thought were the most enjoyable and funniest. These are not in any particular order, but there are a number of them from the 80s, since that was the time period in which I first saw them, and quite frankly, I consider the 80’s the great age of Horror movies. As I once said, I think my Mom and I tried to watch every single Horror movie in that ten-year period. The Horror movies of the 90s were a lot less Campy than the ones from the 80s.

Fright Night (1985)

If I were making a numbered list this would definitely be in the top five. This movie was so much fun, and not just because the vampire, Jerry Dandridge, played by Chris Sarandon, was having so much fun in his role, but because of the addition of Roddy McDowell, who is a wonderful actor who has to play a has-been Horror movie actor who is also a failed television movie host, named Peter Vincent. Vincent is the one who thinks the situation is insane, but once he realizes it’s real and incredibly dangerous, wants no part of it. He starts out as an unethical and cowardly man who eventually steps up to the plate to become a brave and surprisingly compassionate hero. The movie is also enlivened by the performance of Stephen Geoffreys as a sympathetic and completely over-the-top villain named, appropriately enough, Evil Ed, which is more of a clue as to what type of movie this is. Actually, the only characters who take the plot at all seriously are the two leads, Amy and Charlie, played by Amanda Bearse and Wm. Ragsdale.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

I absolutely love this movie (despite its problematic depictions of fatness). Madeline (played by Meryl Streep) is a vain, insecure, formerly great actress, who keeps stealing the boyfriends of her childhood friend Helen (Goldie Hawn). Tired of this dynamic after Madeline steals yet another boyfriend, Helen embarks on a revenge scheme that involves taking a potion that makes her beautiful and immortal. She hatches a plan with her ex-boyfriend (an unrecognizable Bruce Willis) to murder Madeline. Unknown to both him and Helen, Madeleine also takes the potion, and hijinks ensue as the women find out the hard way that although they can’t die, they can be killed.

The movie has the feel of a comedy of manners, (because of the various misunderstandings and mix-ups), except no one in this movie has any manners. No one in this movie is at all serious about this utterly ridiculous plot, delivering their lines with a wink and a nod, with the sole exception of Isabella Rossellini as the potion provider, who acts as if she is in some grand gothic Horror cinema, while everyone else is in a torrid soap opera. This was my first exposure to Meryl Streep the comedian, and she is absolutely hilarious, as a character whose body has started to break down after she is murdered, but my all-time-favorite line is Helen telling Madeline (after Madeline breaks her neck in a fall) that she won’t speak to her until she gets her head on straight!

At the time the movie was released in 1992, the special effects were groundbreaking as it was the first time CGI had been applied to living, moving actors. This movie is now a Cult Classic in the LGBTQ community, btw. If you haven’t seen (or even heard about) this, it’s well worth watching.

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Anytime I have such fond memories of a movie that I start laughing when I hear the title, it definitely means the movie has made my favorites list! I absolutely love this movie and it’s Elvira who sells it with her patented blend of sexy and snarky, which is never mean-spirited. Most of the humor involves Elvira getting herself into silly situations about which she has to make smart-ass remarks before rescuing herself. In this, her first film, she inherits a small town Gothic home from her Aunt, and is menaced by her Uncle who is hunting for a Witch’s grimoire he thinks is hidden within it. This gives Elvira plenty of opportunity to deploy her snarky little side-quips (the bread and butter of the movie) against the self-righteous townsfolk. The movie is very deliberately Camp, but only Elvira seems to understand that’s the case, and she occasionally breaks the fourth wall with a wink and smile to the audience.

The actress (Cassandra Peterson) is also a true Gay icon as she recently came out in her Memoir, Yours Cruelly, where she confessed that she’d been in a relationship with her friend, Theresa Wierson since 2002.

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

If you enjoyed Multiverse of Madness and the first Spiderman trilogy you have to see where it all began, although technically Evil Dead 2 is a remake of the first movie Evil Dead by the same director, Sam Raimi. Everything that made Spiderman 2 so much fun to watch, and all of the Madness of the latest Doctor Strange movie has its foundation in this one.

I saw this movie when it was released (on a double bill with Robocop), at a ratty little downtown theater and I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard at a movie in my life up to that moment. Picture a 17-year-old girl sitting in a movie theater by herself, laughing uproariously as a man gets attacked by his own hand. Evil Dead 2 is a deeply stupid film, but only maybe two of its characters understand that. Ash, the hero of the movie is an over-the-top clown, but one of the other characters, a female scientist of some kind acts like she’s in a perfectly straight Horror movie. This is one of Sam Raimi’s greatest films. Everything in it is overdone, extremely loud, and unashamedly, unabashedly frantic, from the music to the dialogue, and even the camera work.

The movie is a lot, and despite all the colorful gore, is actually great for teenagers who like Horror movies that aren’t quite that horrible.

Big Trouble In Little China

The best character is the one who has no idea that he is not the hero of this movie, and that is the arrogant, self-referencing, and derpy Jack Burton, played by Kurt Russell. Most of the movie is shown from his point of view, he narrates the movie and thinks of himself as a lovable scamp, but the actual hero of the film is Dennis Dun as Wang Chi, who commits numerous heroic acts, saves the day, and the girl, and plays all of the ridiculous shenanigans in this movie completely straight. Kim Cattrall plays a breathless and overconfident Gracie Law, James Hong (from Everything Everywhere All At Once) is a Fu Manchu parody, and Victor Wong is a Chinese wizard named Egg Shen, which is all you need to know to know what kind of movie we’re dealing with here.

The plot is deeply silly, (and probably exploitative as well since this is the 80s) involving the villain (Lo Pan, aided by his awesome henchmen, The Three Storms) trying to become immortal by sacrificing a girl with blue eyes to his gods, and the only characters who take any of it seriously are the hero (Wang Chi) and the villain (Lo Pan).

Return of the Living Dead

Most of the characters do act like they’re in a serious movie, but this is a movie that knows it isn’t serious at all, as the plot becomes increasingly silly for the audience. We know the movie isn’t to be taken seriously mostly because of the dialogue, and c’mon, the name of the primary company in the movie is called Uneeda which sells cadavers for profit. It’s not the characters that give a sly wink to the audience but the director and writers.

Most of the movie takes place in two small buildings (one a crematorium) with most of the characters being shuttled back and forth between them as the zombies take over the area. The zombies are the fast kind brought about through chemical means, and they also talk. well okay, they only yell for brains, but still. However, the greatest camp moment of the movie is the scene above where the zombies use the ambulance radio to call for more paramedics – so they can eat them.

Return of the Living Dead has its tongue firmly planted in its own cheek.

Vamp

There were quite a number of Camp vampire films made during the 70s, most of them came from the Italian studios, and that put Hollywood off from making vampire movies for a while, but they seemed to rediscover their interest in the 80s, releasing quite a few as Horror comedies. Vamp is one of my top favorites from the era of, what I like to call, the Golden Age of Comedy Horror.

A trio of college boys in an attempt to get into a fraternity, promise to provide strippers for a party. In their search, they stumble across a goofy childhood girlfriend who is working for a millenia-old vampire Queen, and her bug-eating human servants, in the After Dark nightclub, along with a gang of albino bikers (and yeah, the bikers and the vampires get to duke it out!) The movie is a tragedy but what makes it a comedy are the great, blink and you’ll miss them, one-liners by the lead characters, but what makes it Camp is the utterly silent Queen vampire (played by none other than Grace Jones, in what is probably one of her most pants-shittingly frightening roles) giving the audience the middle finger at the end.

And, oh yeah, there’s a little bit of stripping and Grace Jones does something that could loosely be called dancing.

Frankenhooker

There’s a thin line between Horror-Comedy and Camp because the two tend to overlap. I consider a Horror/Comedy to be much more deliberately in-your-face funny. In a campy movie, the humor is just a little bit more subtle or has a sexual element that gives the dialogue, and/or horror scenes, a double meaning. Frankenhooker walks that thin line and works it! On the surface, it appears to be a typical Horror/Comedy, but it’s the sexual component of the plot that makes this movie a little-known Camp Classic.

Everything about this movie is utterly ridiculous, from every element of the plot (supercrack, and exploding hookers) to the acting (wooden), to its dialogue (melodramatic). From its opening scene of death by electric lawnmower to the iconic scene of Frankenhooker walking the streets of, where else but New Jersey, screaming at the top of her stolen lungs: “GOT ANY MONEY?!! WANNA DATE?!!”, this movie doesn’t let up for a single moment.

All of it is incredibly, stupidly, trashy!

The Howling

Some movies don’t seem especially Campy at first, except for a knowing wink and a smile to the audience, which is embodied here in one of the werewolf characters deliberately addressing the audience at the end of the movie. The Howling is one of my favorite werewolf movies and that’s because the Camp is so subtle and well done. Like most Horror movies of the 80s, the scenes are over the top and kind of ridiculous but, if you pay close attention to the dialogue you get that the characters are all smirking at you a little bit. Occasionally, one of the characters will say something as if they know they’re being watched by an outside audience, and the movie is shot in such a way that the creators (namely VFX artist Rob Bottin) want to make the maximum amount of spectacle out of watching someone turn into a werewolf.

For example, this is a process that starts about three times during the film. The first time we don’t get to see it in its entirety because the scene is set in a dark room and interrupted by gunfire, but the second scene, (and we’ve waited for half the movie to see this) is completed in all its closeup, gory, lumpy, squishy detail. The third time, we are all set for a repeat of the second transformation, but we don’t. We get interrupted again.

There’s nothing elevated about the plot, the characters, or the scenery. The characters are rural lower-class peasants, contrasted against sophisticated metropolitan outsiders. The 3 outsiders play everything completely straight as if they don’t know they are in a werewolf movie, but all the rural characters seem in on the secret and are laughing at them and us, and that’s a large part of why this movie is so much fun!

Runners Up

Studio 666

Slaxx

Hell Baby

Good Hair

Zombeavers

The Newest Addition:

Rob Zombie’s Netflix adaptation of The Munsters, which makes no secret of its Campiness, just putting it all out there as brazen as you please! This was released last week, and I really enjoyed it. It was as much fun as I thought it would be although looking at it can be a bit exhausting. It is extremely colorful. He seemed to very much capture the mood and aesthetic of the original. I could have done with more of the Herman and Lilly falling in love plot, rather than the no-count werewolf brother side plot getting so much airtime, but it turned out the plot is a prequel, so we understand why the family moved from Transylvania to Los Angeles.

Hellboy (2008) Vs. Hellboy (2019)

Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II was released in 2008, a mere ten years before the release of this new reboot, by Neil Marshall. The reboot bombed horribly, which kind of saddens me because I generally like Neil Marshall’s output. He’s the director of The Descent and Dog Soldiers, both of which are good, solid, action-horror movies, each with a deft emotional touch.

This newest version of Hellboy isn’t’ bad, but lord, it isn’t good. Well, let’s just say it’s worst than it should’ve been. I want to compare Del Toro’s and Marshall’s versions of the films, but in order to do that, I need to also talk about the comic book series the movies are based on, as both movies capture different aspects of the books.

The comic books are written by many different people, but Mike Mignola, as the initial creator, has had an enormous amount of control over his creation. Depending on what mood Mignola is in, you can get humor, or scares, or melancholy, which is something felt across the entire series.

Marshall’s remake is a grim and disjointed affair, that feels like a collection of unrelated action scenes, with too many flashbacks designed to illuminate who the various characters are, and why they’re doing what they’re doing, any one of which could be made into their own film, rather than the hodgepodge we got.

I believe Marshall’s first mistake was starting the film with the villain’s origin story. Nimue is some type of Witch Queen, who gets killed by King Arthur, and Merlin. Using Excalibur, they chop her into pieces, and send the pieces to different parts of the world. We then move to the present day, where the plot becomes unnecessarily convoluted, as a secret organization tries to kill Hellboy. This secret organization has no other role in the film other than getting Hellboy to visit England.

Meanwhile,  Baba Yaga (one of the coolest parts of the movie) is collecting the various pieces of the Witch Queen (with the help of a kind of troll, fairy/ pig creature, also cool).  Hellboy fights some giants, which has nothing to do with the rest of the movie and feels like filling time until we get to the real plot. He is then kidnapped by  Alice, who gets a flashback to when Hellboy saved her from the fairies, specifically the fairy pig thingie that took Alice’s place as a changeling, and who now bears a grudge against Hellboy for having exorcised him from Alice’s house.

Outside of that, Alice’s story is unrelated to the larger Nimue story and Baba Yaga. Hellboy fights with his adoptive father, who gets a flashback to his first meeting with Hellboy, and  Hellboy meets Ben Daimio, who also gets a flashback to his origin story as a were-jaguar, a story that is wholly unrelated to anything else in the movie, although  I liked seeing him because I have a crush on the actor, Daniel Dae Kim, who is also underused.

Actually, the very beginning of the movie is Hellboy traveling to Mexico to fight a friend who has been turned into a vampire Luchador, which sounds cool as fuck, comes directly from one of the stories in the comic books and could have been a movie in its own right. Hellboy kills his friend, goes into a drunken funk, and has to be taken back to headquarters by the agents of the BPRD. Nothing in this scene is even remotely related to anything else that happens in the movie and we don’t get to see any more Mexican bat-vampires for the duration of the film.

I liked many of the individual scenes in the movie, from the vampires to the giants to the Baba Yaga scene. I just wished all of these things had been tied together with a coherent story, and all the unnecessary stuff jettisoned to tighten up the plot. There’s also no big emotional payoff.  The remake is more of a horror movie that’s made up of side quests. There’s a warmth and whimsy in the original films, that’s very palpable, and you get a distinct impression that Del Toro truly loves these characters. It’s not that I didn’t find things to like about this newer version, there were just fewer things to enjoy, and those things weren’t thematically or even emotionally connected to any of the other things. At times, the movie felt very workmanlike. Hellboy needs to meet someone so he gets taken to them. He needs to be somewhere so he’s ordered to go there. I liked the visuals, which were great, especially the scene of Baba Yaga’s house with the chicken legs, which came right out of my childhood nightmares. There’s a lot of gore in this movie, but beyond a few snarky comments by some of the characters, (mostly Alice), I just wasn’t feeling it.

At no point during the film does Hellboy make the decision to fight the apocalypse of his own free will. He spends the majority of the movie being snatched, kidnapped, derailed, or ordered about by the other characters, and seems not particularly interested in being heroic, at one point complaining about having been turned into a weapon by his adoptive father.  In the middle of the movie, Hellboy has a very “emotional” fight with his father about this which comes across a bit ham-fisted, and seems to come out of nowhere. There’s no emotional buildup for this outburst nor is the subject ever revisited. This same subject is handled more deftly in Hellboy II, when Prince Nuada challenges Hellboy not to kill the last living Forest God, and accuses him of being nothing more than a weapon against his own kind if he does, and its a question that arises out of Hellboy’s wonderings about his life purpose.

A big part of my dissatisfaction is with the cast though. I wasn’t feeling any group cohesion, although I had no problem with David Harbour’s version of Hellboy, who seems as perfect for the role as Perlman, if somewhat more petulant but he is never given any room to shine since the plot constricts him. All of the relationships in this movie start out adversarial, and for no other reason than they were written that way, but at the end, the characters are suddenly working as a well-oiled team, and getting along with each other, except when they don’t. These were people who were together because the plot required them to be, not because they were friends or genuinely like each other.This is unlike the Del Toro movies, where the characters get on each other’s nerves, and are often exasperated by Hellboy’s behavior, but at least you get the sense that they like each other, and are long-term friends.

This movie tries and fails to create the dynamic seen between Hellboy and Abe in the original film, and fails at that too. Alice has something of the same powers as Abe (she’s a mystic) but never comes across as a fully realized character, with some kind of interior life. Abe, despite all the heavy makeup, is imbued by his actors body language with a deep interiority. Abe and the other characters are treated by the story as if they have a life when Hellboy isn’t around, especially in the second movie, where they are given their own storylines. We don’t know anything about Alice other than that she’s cranky.

As with the original movies, there are some impressive visuals, if not the sheer imagination of the first two films, but these visuals are not connected to anything in the rest of the plot. At the beginning of the movie Hellboy fights some giants. This fight has nothing to do with the overall plot with the Witch Queen, or the preceding plot, which had an organization that existed to kill him, in case he turns evil and destroys the world, according to the prophecy. The Witch Queen releases some demons that wreak havoc on the city of London, but Hellboy doesn’t get to fight those, which would have been fucking awesome to see, but he has no contact with them at all. The demons show up to terrorize the city and that’s what they do because it looks cool. Events in the movie are only connected because someone in the cast says they are, and not because of any actual connections. The movie is just made up of  setpieces that look really cool.

There are scenes that vaguely echo scenes from Helboy II, in this remake, but without any of the emotional payoff, because although we’ve been given backstories we still don’t know any of these characters. Everyone remembers the fight scene between Hellboy and the Forest God, in Hellboy 2, and the haunting and beautiful music and images when the creature dies. Here, the music is forgettable, action film noise.

Like I said, its not that the Hellboy reboot is a bad movie. I watched it, and liked the way it looked, but it is  a bad movie compared to the excellence of the first two films that came before it, and it’s too soon after those movies that this one was made. And people definitely compared them and found the remake wanting because no one went to see this movie. Hell, I didn’t even go see this movie. In all fairness though, it would have been really hard for any  film maker to follow in the footsteps of the mastery of  Del Toro, who  has a reason for every single thing you will see on the screen, right down to his use of colors, and it feels like Marshall either didn’t understand the assignment, or did not try as hard as he should have to make the movie his own, as he seemed to be aping bits and pieces from the original films, or in some scenes trying really hard not to ape those scenes.

I think this new film suffers from too much plot (We’ve got Merlin, Excalibur, witches, fairies, dragons, demons, were-animals, giants, spiritualists, and knights) and simply not enough character, since it’s the characters in the original films which drew us into the ridiculous idea of a giant red devil-man in a trench coat, running through the streets of New York City, chasing Cthulhu demons on subway trains, a telepathic fishman, and a woman who can control fire, all fighting an ancient Nazi wannabe, an Urban Elf King, or tiny winged creatures that eat teeth! Yes, it’s all utterly ridiculous! But we cared about the characters and believed their relationships, and so were willing to sit with the craziness of these stories.

This reboot was adapted from at least four different Hellboy comics by the actual writer, Mike Mignola, and none of those books are related either, which accounts for the disjointed plot here. It’s like Mignola saw a chance to throw a bunch scenes from his favorite comic books up on the screen, and then tried to flimsily make these plots stick to each other.

I tried. I really did. But I just didn’t care about Alice or even Hellboy because there’s simply nothing there to grasp. Ian McShane is wasted, swanning in from time to time to yell at Hellboy and then he’s gone. Daniel Dae Kim is also completely wasted as a were jaguar who is cranky for no reason, and doesn’t show up until near the end of the movie, and his disappointing special effects made me roll my eyes, which is not, I think, the effect the creators were looking for. These are empty characters who are going through the motions of the plot. I did like, of all the characters, Baba Yaga, who was absotively awesome, and quite frankly, I would’ve preferred the entire plot be just her and Hellboy playing a game of cat and mouse over whatever machinations she was getting up to.

I remember I was excited for this movie because of the trailer, but ultimately I walked away disappointed. Not because it’s so awful, because I’ve watched much worse films than this, but because I kept seeing what could have been, if there had been better editing, character development, and a leaner and meaner plot.

Warnings: lots of gore and violence.

Nope (Pt.2): The Characters

The reason I rushed to get that last post published so quickly was that I had just watched the film, and wanted to get it all down while the images were still fresh. I’m probably going to mention things in this post that I forgot to mention in the last one or not mention some stuff I simply forgot. I’m still in something of a rush to write this all down before I forget my impressions of these characters, (I have seen the movie a second time since the first post). I didn’t walk into the movie thinking about things to look for. I walked into it remembering an interview I saw with Peele where he mentioned that his inspiration for this movie was Jaws.

There Are Going to Be Spoilers!!! There Are Going to Be Spoilers!!

To make a movie this ambitious (it is more than 2 hours long) and in an effort to save time, Peele has engaged in a certain amount of film shorthand, namely archetypal characters. Archetypes are typical examples of a certain type of person often seen in movies. Archetypes are characters that the audience is meant to immediately recognize (mostly on a subconscious level), understand who they are, what their purpose is, and sometimes a broad concept of what actions they’re going to commit. There’s nothing wrong with archetypes (unless they’re badly used or written), most films use them, and they’re meant to save storytelling time. Peele has used at least three different archetypes here, and they mostly seem to map very well to the archetypes from the movie Jaws, which is on Peele’s recommended watchlist as inspiration for this film.

The Archetypes

The Cowboy – Oj

Drawing on his depth of knowledge of genre films Peele has engaged the archetype of The Cowboy in the form of OJ. While the definition of the cowboy is a guy who rides a horse to herd cattle, the image of the cowboy in the US is anyone who exhibits the behavior and trappings of a cowboy, which Oj does. He’s heroic, strong, silent, and highly principled, and has mastered the understanding, training, and use of horses. But what he most reminds me of with his jeans and hoodie are the urban Black horseriders called the Compton Cowboys which tickles me to no end!

When it comes to comparisons to Jaws, Oj is the one most like Sheriff Brody. He is the person trying the hardest to hold things down, hold onto his father’s legacy, and he is dedicated to his job and devoted to his family. Like Brody, he has trouble making his voice heard even when he is right, and is the kind of man willing to make the sacrifice play to defend what he loves.

The Prodigal – Emerald Haywood

Em is the classic Prodigal Son archetype. The Prodigal in movies (this definition is outside the literary version) is often a younger brother who has left home because they couldn’t reconcile themselves with the wishes of their father and seek a better life for themselves. Em comes back home from Hollywood after her estrangement from her father, and reconciling her issues with her dad (and brother) achieves her final goal. There is no Prodigal character in the original Jaws so the addition of Emerald is wholly unique. Another wholly unique feature is that this Prodigal is a Black woman who, while working in tandem with her brother, turns out to be the hero of the movie and a Classic Final Girl.

The Wild Card – Jupe

Another archetypal character is the wild card. Jupe isn’t a wild card because he’s unpredictable to us. Like Quint in Jaws, he is a wild card to the other characters who don’t know enough about him to figure out what his goal is. The wild card character has their own agenda and their own motivations. As long as they can accomplish their goal they will work with anyone, on any side, they will switch sides, betray others, or form alliances based entirely on what they can get out of the arrangement. They are often arrogant and opportunistic. This perfectly describes both Ricky (Jupe) Park and Quint. I consider Jupe a wild card because his goals are not consistent with the goals of the other characters, although, on the surface, they may seem to be and he is willing to seem as if he is their ally. But his primary goal is to exploit the UFO and the circumstances for his own monetary gain and his motivation is based on the mistaken belief that he can.

The Common Man/Man in the Chair – Angel

The closest Jaws character to Angel is probably Hooper, who is there to study the shark, handles all the tech and equipment, and has no stake in the affair other than being friends with the protagonist. I talked before about how every genre story needs to have one character who can speak for or represent the members of the audience. This character’s job is to voice the audience’s concerns or do the things that audience members wish they could do like having a grand adventure, being friends with the primary characters, or just surviving the event. These characters are unlikely to be killed, because they have no real stake in the proceedings, so they are more like witnesses. Angel, like Hooper, isn’t someone who really furthers the plot in a big way, but he is the character that is most like us, finding himself in an incredible situation that he must now deal with in a way we hope we would.

The Characters

Ricky (Jupe) Park

Jupe is one of the deepest characters in the story and the one about whom we get the most in-depth backstory. Like the Mayor from Jaws, he is also the closest thing we get to a villain, or antagonist, as it is the choices he makes that set the plot in motion. One thing viewers may not have gotten is that the alien/ufo has taken up residence in the valley where the Haywood Ranch exists because Jupe has been feeding it the horses he’s been buying from Oj. Oj has been selling him horses as a way to pay for the Ranch’s upkeep, with the full expectation that he can buy them back. When Oj tries to discuss buying back his horses, Jupe distracts him with his famous backstory. Even though we can see the pain in his eyes and that he has not, in fact, moved on from the trauma, he tells Em the story anyway.

That scene is also an echo of Quint from Jaws in the scene where he is telling Em his story of what happened on the set of Gordy’s rampage and is a callback to Quint’s recitation of his own trauma aboard the USS Indianapolis, and something which informs his motivations for hunting the shark. You have these two characters who have not moved beyond their trauma, which has led to the delusional belief that they can control/capture these wild animals, which subsequently, gets them killed. Jupe’s scene doesn’t have the same level of gravity as Quint’s scene because it happens fairly early in the film before we’ve really spent much time with the character, but it serves the same purpose as a “pivotal moment” that each character has in their backstory. It is the moment that made them who they are in this one.

Jupe has the idea that because he survived Gordy’s rampage on the set as a child, and because Gordy, who was trained to give him a fist bump, was in the process of doing so before he was killed, that he has some special connection with animals. He has entered into a kind of devil’s bargain with the alien, where he feeds the creature horses every weekend, and as a result, the alien has taken up residence near his theme park, and specifically, near the Haywood ranch, where it steals the occasional horse and dumps its “spoor” on their land. Jupe’s mistaken belief that he has mastered this alien creature is one of the larger themes of the movie.

Jupe has not dealt properly with the trauma of what happened to him as a child. He continues to dwell in the headspace of that event, and coupled with his need to hold onto the fame of his youth, this makes for the disastrous outcome we see in the movie, where he presses his luck, and for his trouble, he and his audience get eaten.

If you look closely, you’ll see that each character holds onto some object from their past that is representative of their personal trauma. For Jupe its the little gray shoe which he keeps on display in his memorial room.

Emerald Haywood (Em)

The scene that most completely encapsulates the type of person Emerald Haywood is is the scene in the tech store where she’s laying out her plan to capture photos of the ufo to her brother, and she briefly interrupts her spiel to compliment some lady about her clothes. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it moment, but when I saw it I burst out laughing because that’s just so HER. She does things like that where she just randomly compliments people. Em is a person who is constantly giving and looking for approval, not just because it helps her accomplish her goal of being a Hollywood star, but because she seemed to always be trying to win her father’s approval.

Em’s “pivotal” backstory is when she was about nine years old her father promised to teach her to train her first horse, which she named Jean Jacket, but she never got the chance because her father chose Oj in her stead. She says after that their father never seemed to see her. He only had eyes for the heir to his legacy, Oj. Subsequently, she has spent the rest of her life trying to be seen, trying to gain somebody’s, anybody’s, attention. That’s what all the hustling and charming, self-referential patter is all about. She left home to go to Hollywood for fame and fortune and spends her time trying to convince other people she is special, not understanding that she was always looking in the wrong place because her brother already knew she was special (for being able to do the thing he could not do which was break free of his father’s shadow) and he has always been able to see her.

The one thing that Em holds close to her that exemplifies her trauma is her father’s speech which he used to introduce himself to his clients. In her attempt to be seen by her father she has memorized every word and inflection (even his stammer) of that speech.

There are a number of callbacks in the film, like the scene where she watches her brother being trained on her horse, Jean Jacket, and he looks up at her and points to his eyes, and then to her. This is recalled at the end of the movie when he does it again and she returns the gesture. One of the primary themes of this movie is seeing and being seen. Capturing the alien’s photogragh is her Jean Jacket moment. He is giving her this chance to put her shit down and show the world what he always knew she was capable of.

And for that, we anime fans are gifted the extreme pleasure of seeing her do The Akira Slide!!!

Otis Haywood Jr. (Oj)

Each of the primary characters has a pivotal story in their background that informs their character, motivation, and actions at the end of the movie. Oj’s pivotal story is that his father chose him to be his successor rather than Emerald who seemed to want it more. When they were kids, she was set to train a horse she named Jean Jacket and his father changed his mind and chose him for the training instead, which led to Oj being his legal heir. Subsequently, he got all the training (and hence his father’s attention) with Em’s horse. The first job he went to with his father was on the set of The Mummy spinoff movie, The Scorpion King 2, (which is where the orange hoodie comes from) but he was deprived of his chance to show his skills when the creators decided they didn’t need horses and would use camels instead, and has spent the years since then as his father’s assistant, never getting the chance to build the confidence that comes from working on his own.

The representative object that Oj holds close to him is the orange hoodie with the Scorpion King logo. It’s emblematic of the pivotal childhood event where he never got a chance to use his newly trained skills on his first job, and was relegated to being nothing more than his father’s assistant.

One of the reasons Oj is so reticent/standoffish on the set at the beginning of the film is that is actually his first job alone, after his father’s death. Before that, his father did all the talking and handling on the set including that little speech memorized by Em. Oj didn’t have to try to hold everything down or talk to anyone on set because Dad had everything under control. (Up until one’s parents are gone you always think you’re ready for whatever, and then when they’re gone, you have to actually find out if you are.) The orange hoodie represents him finally picking up the reins from his father, and the corralling of the alien (and the protection of his family and legacy by doing so) is really his first job.

Oj, because of his understanding and connection with animals, is the first to recognize not just that the ufo is actually a territorial predator that must be respected as the animal it is, but the significance of the actions he and Em are about to perform. It’s Em’s first training job too, only she will be corralling an alien predator. It is Oj who names the alien Jean Jacket as a tribute to that moment.

While we’re here, let’s talk about how Oj survives multiple attempts by the alien to consume him, something that Jupe doesn’t. Oj is a very different character from Jupe and his sister. He doesn’t seek fame or attention, and the special connection with animals that Jupe only thought he had, and Em wishes she had, is something that Oj actually possesses. Due to his training with animals, he is the first to discern what they are dealing with, and unlike Jupe, he never forgets that an animal is an animal, and no matter how much training that animal has, it has a mind of its own, and it can still be triggered into violence. Em may be jealous of his skills but she is willing to recognize his expertise, listen to him when he tells her about the alien, and follow his directions in dealing with it.

As for Oj’s demeanor, some of the primary markers of autism are avoiding eye contact with others, anxiety in social situations, finding it hard to make friends or being a loner, noticing small details that others don’t, and difficulty discussing feelings. Oj displays many of these traits which is why some audiences like to read him as being autistic, an idea I support because I happen to be autistic. The first time we see Oj at work he is almost painfully withdrawn. He refuses to make eye contact, looks nervous/disinterested about being in the presence of so many strangers, and shows a reluctance to speak or draw any attention to himself. When he feels pinched he calls for Em to do what she does, and we feel almost as uncomfortable as he seems to be. (I winced through that entire scene, and it’s my least favorite one, not because it’s badly written, but because it’s such a great depiction of social anxiety/being the center of attention.)

Em and OjRelationship

I really enjoyed this movie because yeah, I’m attracted to spectacle, and it has plenty of it, but it also has great characters and great relationships. Otis Jr and Emerald really resonated with me because their relationship isn’t all that different from me and my oldest little brother, and the personality dynamics aren’t too far off either, except I’m the one who left home and came back, and he’s the more garrulous one. I’m one of those people who say about twenty words a year, and only under duress!) I’m an artist and dreamer, he’s a talker and fixer-of-things who thinks his big sister is an absent-minded nerd who needs to be carefully looked after. This is not unlike how Oj thinks of his little sister as a dreamer who is smart, but flighty. He’s willing to listen to her ideas because he respects her intelligence, and because of the force of her personality, which is how I often have to convince my know-it-all little brother to do what I want.

If you watch the movie carefully you realize that the only person Oj physically engages with is his sister. It’s not that he doesn’t interact with other people but recall the scene where he and Em are celebrating a victory, and slapping hands. Oj acts that way with no one else in the movie. He is almost always monosyllabic and averts his eyes from everyone else, even Angel, who he only warms up to slowly. Palmer and Kaluuya have such great chemistry that you actually believe they’re brother and sister. They both have issues surrounding their father but don’t let that get in the way of their own relationship or ability to work together. Em listens to her brother and trusts his expertise, especially when it comes to what he’s been trained to do. Oj listens to what his sister has to say, and goes along with her plan, recognizing her drive and intelligence.

Angel Torres

I like to refer to Angel as the Common Man, or Everyman because, like Hooper from Jaws, he is an outsider, and of all the characters he seems most relatable to the average person. Like us, he doesn’t live, work, or have loved ones in danger at the Ranch, nor does he have any real stake in the proceedings other than being friends with Em and Oj. His life will not be greatly upheaved, outside of his interior sense of self, after this is all over. He is not there to save the Haywwod’s ranch or make any money off the alien.

Angel gets a tiny bit of backstory and I like him for that. Angel operates like the sibling’s “man in the chair”. He helps set up their equipment and then spies on their attempt to capture images of the ufo. He tells the siblings that he just broke up with his girlfriend and is searching for something greater than himself, and even though he doesn’t say it, he’s also looking for friends, and somewhere to be other than by himself. He meets Em and Oj at the tech store where he works and is immediately intrigued by them. Seeing their presence in his store as a call to adventure, he invites himself into their lives, and them into his, offering to let them stay at his home after an incident that causes them to flee their own (and offering them his clothes). Angel is that childlike part of us that seeks thrills and adventure (and new friends) with no consideration of the actual danger.

I’m a sucker for the Found Family trope, so Angel immediately endeared himself to me by inserting himself, totally uninvited, into an event that has nothing to do with him, and then holding his own, as if he totally belonged there. He is a quick and clever thinker and one of the few people actively pursued by the alien that saves himself by simply making himself taste bad – rolling himself in barbed wire! (He makes himself unattractive to the camera!) Although Angel spends most of the movie frightened out of his skin, he does make reasonably intelligent decisions, the kind we’d like to think we would make in such a situation. He’s out of his depth and he knows it, but he never backs down, or runs out on them, and manages to keep his sense of humor. His loyalty to Em and Oj is baffling to some people, but having been an introvert on the receiving end of being unexpectedly adopted by an extrovert, I get it.

One thing tied to my last post is about the scene where the mantis obscures the view of one of Angel’s cameras, and how in Christian mythology a praying mantis in the home is a sign that angels are watching over you. Some audience members pointed out that there actually is an “Angel” watching over the house during that scene.

*Okay, now this one is also getting a bit too long, and I can see that this is going to require a part 3 because I haven’t really talked about the monster, its significance, its depiction, what it represents, and one other character people always forget about when talking about a film, the landscape!

**Yeah, I did go back and see the movie a second time. I had not planned to do so, but when the opportunity presented itself for my sister to pay for it I jumped at the chance. There is a certain amount of glee involved in watching a Horror movie, with your easily frightened and already nervous sibling, that you have already seen and lording it over them just a little bit. That’s just one of several perks of being a sibling!

Nope: The Horror of Spectacle (Pt.1)

DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE AND DON’T WANT SPOILERS.

I’m going to be talking about a lot of details, and give away a number of secrets about the movie that are crucial to its understanding and so cannot be avoided. Trust me, knowing these things before you see the movie will spoil your enjoyment of the film.

Jordan Peele’s Movie Watch List for his actors included two of Spielberg’s biggest films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws. Like Close Encounters, this movie has all the trappings of an alien invasion film, and the characters’ obsession with wanting to understand the alien is echoed in the first half of the movie, while the last half has the adventure feel of Jaws with the characters chasing and being chased by the alien. On the surface, this movie may seem like your typical Summer blockbuster where you have an intrepid team of people setting out to capture or destroy some kind of monster, but Peele has a lot more to say than that.

The Basic Plot

Oj (Otis Junior played by Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (aka Em played by Keke Palmer) are a brother and sister trying to save their father’s horse ranch after he is inadvertently killed by the alien. The Haywood Ranch specializes in training, wrangling, and renting horses for movies, and Oj’s first job was working on the set of The Scorpion King 2. Oj is his father’s direct successor while Em has gone off to Hollywood to make her fortune. She comes back home to help her brother raise money to save the ranch. Oj is the typically strong and silent cowboy type, (heavily coded as autistic to a lot of viewers – more on that later), and Em is his exact opposite, being funny, brash, and massively charming.

Ricky “Jupe” Park, played by Steven Yeun, is the former child star of a series called Gordy’s Home, where he experienced a horrible trauma, and who now owns a theme park next door, called Jupiter’s Claim. Oj has been selling his horses to Jupe to keep the ranch afloat, not knowing that Jupe has been sacrificing those horses to the alien visitor that has taken up residence in the valley for the past several months. After Jupe and his audience are consumed by the alien after his attempt to make money from the spectacle of its feeding, Em and Oj become convinced that the way to save the ranch is to capture the alien on film and sell the photos.

They meet an electronics store employee named Angel (Brandon Perea) who helps them set up cameras at the ranch, but since the ufo (now called UAPs by the US government) produces a field that deadens electrical equipment they are unsuccessful and so decide to call in the director they met on a film set they were fired from at the beginning of the movie named Antlers Holst, (Michael Wincott – he of the extraordinary voice). Antlers owns a crank camera that doesn’t require electricity. After several mishaps, chase scenes, and a few near deaths, Em is successful in capturing the alien on camera and destroying it.

Jean Jacket

This is the name given to the creature by Oj, named after a horse she was supposed to have received training for on her 9th birthday, and which Oj got chosen for instead. Oj names it Jean Jacket as a tribute to Em after she comes up with the plan to capture the alien on film. The alien represents Em’s first animal training exercise.

**Throughout this post, I’m going to use three terms interchangeably, ufo, alien, and the creature, because although we, the audience, still don’t know what it is, it is definitely a living being of some kind. When the movie begins it is shaped like the typical image of a disc-shaped flying saucer. By the middle of the movie, the characters have become aware that while what they are dealing with is still a ufo, it is also a predator that actively hunts other life forms, and by the end, it reveals its true physical form as that of a massive array of drapery with a green aperture-like mouth at its center that sucks up its prey like a vacuum.

The Themes

Spectacle

Let’s start with the film’s opening quote. In the first reference, Peele tells you right up front what the theme of the movie is (which is why I don’t understand some people’s confusion after watching this.) People should know by now that Peele’s movies are not the kind of movies you watch to let the images simply wash over you and hope you reach understanding. They are the kind you must think about and pay close attention to, or you simply won’t understand, and you have to prep yourself for watching the movie this way beforehand. One of the issues with Horror movies, and especially the point being made here, is that people get consumed by the “spectacle” of the horror, and fail to think of the greater themes and repercussions surrounding the absorbing images. The audience members who did this mental preparation walked out of the film with a better understanding and appreciation of what they’d just seen.

The opening quote at the beginning of the movie is from Nahum 3:6: I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle. This refers to two events in the movie, the scene where the alien hovers over the ranch and drops waste matter of blood and metallic trinkets from its victims onto the Haywood’s house, and the ending where it unfurls itself during its pursuit of the two siblings.

The movie’s overarching theme is about how both the viewer and those being viewed are affected by the camera, about how audiences can be (literally) consumed by spectacle even as we consume it, and about the interchangeable nature of seeing a spectacle and being a spectacle. Several times the alien and other animals react to being seen on camera, or by an audience, or by themselves in reflective surfaces, and are startled into violence.

The movie opens by introducing the young Jupe on the set of a TV series called Gordy’s Home. This flashback to Jupe’s tragic past is the key to understanding some of the meanings of the movie. This event is later shown in its entirety, as a chimpanzee named Gordy (which, in the show, had been adopted by a white suburban family) flies into a rage and massacres the cast (all except Jupe and a young girl named Mary Jo) when it is seemingly startled by the release of a bunch of metallic balloons. That Jupe survives this event is important to how he dealt with his survivor’s trauma and the reason for his death.

One aside: Jupe says Gordy’s rampage lasted 6 minutes and 13 seconds. The alien appears every day at 6:13 PM to acquire its sacrifice of flesh from Jupe. Viewers have theorized a number of biblical verses that this could be in reference to, and many of them involve the topic of predators, prey, sacrifice, and how to avoid being such.

The theme of animals that are assumed to be tame or easily controlled, becoming violent, and turning on people are referenced multiple times throughout the movie. In another introductory scene, Oj, while on a film set with one of his horses, keeps trying to warn the cast about how to behave with the animal, only to be ignored (because white people don’t listen to Black people’s warnings of danger), and someone ends up being kicked by it. Like Gordy, the horse is startled by its reflection in an orb-shaped object. The idea of animals rejecting being seen as spectacles continues from there, from Gordy, to the horse, to the alien itself, since the alien only consumes those who stare at it.

These reflections extend to some of the characters too, like Mary Jo, the young girl who, like Jupe, survived Gordy’s rampage on the film set, but with extensive damage to her face. She attends Jupe’s first showing off of the alien while wearing a veil covering her current face, but wearing a t-shirt with the image of her childhood face on it. Like the alien, she is a spectacle who both wants and doesn’t want to be seen by others, and yet she is also a spectator, there to see another creature that does not like being seen.

Oj because of his retiring nature and experience with horses, is one of the first to understand that the alien is like any other predator, that looking it in the “eye” is like a challenge to its dominance that will make it angry. He is one of the few people to survive multiple encounters with it by turning away from the camera-like hole in its underside. Basically, he (and later, Angel) resists being consumed by the spectacle of the thing.

In fact, Oj’s natural tendency to avoid the gaze of others, and not look animals or other people in the eyes, ends up serving him very well, and it is also one of the signifiers of autism, along with his reticence in speaking, and deep focus on his job. When we first meet Oj we see he has his head turned away from the camera and film crew. He has a pattern of rejecting the gaze of others and denying them his own, so it is significant that not only is he the first person to catch that staring at the alien makes it angry, but at the end of the film it is meaningful when he signals to his sister that he will grant the creature his attention. He signals to her both, that he sees her, and that he will see the alien in an effort to trap it with his gaze, buying her the time she needs to capture its image.

Animal Exploitation

Jupe has been sacrificing Oj’s horses to what he thinks is a ufo for at least six months and plans to make money from the creature’s existence by sacrificing a live animal in front of a paying audience. To his horror, Jupe has only moments to realize his hubris in believing that he had tamed it (because he survived Gordy’s massacre unscathed he thinks he has a special power over it) because rather than taking the horse, the alien (like Gordy) becomes enraged at being looked at and consumes Jupe and the audience instead. (They get consumed by the spectacle.)

Jupe dies horribly, in the belly of the monster, while trying to exploit the existence of this creature for entertainment purposes. Just as Gordy was taken from his natural habitat, separated from his species, and raised among humans for their entertainment needs, Jupe hopes to do the same to the alien, and this is tied to his personal trauma because, although he exploits that for monetary gain, you can tell by the look in his eyes that he is not as casual in his feelings about the event as he would have others believe. He is haunted by what happened to him on the set and it has informed his behavior, not just towards his trauma, but his interaction with the alien. He believes his survival of that one event gives him a special ability to tame this new creature. He thinks he has a special connection, like the one he had with Gordy, because he has bribed this thing with Oj’s horses for several months, but the creature has not been tamed, nor has it been trained to come to him because he feeds it. The alien is simply being opportunistic and Jupe’s interactions with the creature only involved him and the alien. When the alien sees there is now an audience it takes the entire group.

Child actor exploitation

That’s not the only connection between Jupe and Gordy. The movie also strongly references the exploitation of child actors. Hollywood has a long history of consuming both the lives of animals and actors and then spitting out whatever is no longer useful, or left over. After Jupe and his audience are consumed by the alien, having consumed too much, it then spits out what it can’t use, (mostly metallic objects like coins, keys, and jewelry), which is how Oj and Em’s father was killed, at the beginning of the movie, when the alien spit out a coin that embedded itself in Otis’ head.

There are also elements of racism in the exploitation of both Jupe and Gordy. One of the nastier stereotypes of Asian men throughout Hollywood’s history is equating Asian men with monkeys. In the sitcom, both Jupe and Gordy are adopted by a white family and both are seen as token comedy relief. The white family acts as if the adoption of a human boy and the adoption of a chimpanzee are equal acts and treat the adoption of Gordy as no different than Jupe’s adoption. The family (and the series) does not respect Gordy as a powerful animal with an animal’s thoughts, and this is part of what causes his rampage. This scene is also a callback to a similar real-life event:

https://allthatsinteresting.com/travis-the-chimp

Oj names the alien Jean Jacket, after a young horse that Em was supposed to be trained on (but didn’t get the chance when her father changed his mind). Jupe named the thing he first thought of as an alien craft, The Viewers. And yes, this is a reference to those of us who came to watch the spectacle of Nope, especially those of us who got so caught in the imagery that we couldn’t understand the meaning of the film, and the voraciousness of an audience that can never be appeased. Jupe spends several months thinking he has pleased The Viewers, and believes he has things well under control, only to find that The Viewers cannot be controlled or appeased.

Symbolism

Mirrors and Reflections

I spoke before in my Symbolism of Film post, that mirrored reflections indicate that a character (or in this case an animal) has a double nature, and reflective objects are a motif seen throughout this movie, from the reflective balloons released in front of Gordy that sends him into a rage, to the metallic SFX orb that is waved in front of the horse which startles it, and the motorcycle helmet of a nosy paparazzi who shows up at the Haywood Ranch and gets eaten because his reflective helmet enrages the alien into consuming him. The creatures in the movie are believed by people to have been “tamed” because they have been trained to interact peacefully with human beings, until they stop doing that, indicating their dual natures of wildness and domesticity. Just because something has been domesticated (the alien, the horses, Gordy) doesn’t mean it will not react if provoked, and this is something that Oj, with his many years of experience in horse training, understands. These animals must still be respected as animals, which is something the film crew on the Gordy’s Home TV set, and Jupe himself did not understand, and many people paid the price for that.

Veils: Obscuration, and Revelation

Outside of the mirrors and reflections, the film has many images of drapery and veiling. Mary Jo (Jupe’s old co-star) covers herself with a veil to keep from being seen by others, and a torn tablecloth hanging between the young Jupe and Gordy is probably what saved Jupe’s life, as it obscured direct eye contact between him and Gordy, and as a result, Gordy doesn’t kill him. The ufo is often obscured by clouds, making it difficult to track.

Angel, Em, and Oj come up with a complicated plan to capture the alien’s image using several cameras mounted around the ranch but when the alien shows up, the cameras all power down, and the one camera that doesn’t is obscured by the presence of a tiny creature resting on the camera’s lens: a praying mantis, an insect which is often accused of looking alien. The Praying Mantis is literally a stand-in for the ufo and is itself a predator known for its large eyes, direct gaze, and a source of both wonder and horror for both its beauty and brutality in hunting prey. In Christian symbolism, the praying mantis is a herald of good luck, and the placement of its “praying hands”, a sign of piety, which meant that angels were watching out for you. Some audience members have theorized that Jean Jacket is actually a biblically accurate Angel, but the Praying Mantis also foreshadows the creature’s final form with its giant translucent wings, that look like drapes.

The alien’s real image remains obscured until its final form which appears to be made out of veils of skin and air, a lot like a jellyfish, but really like nothing ever seen on Earth, although that does not necessarily mean it’s an extraterrestrial. A ufo is what it’s called because that’s what it looks like at first presentation but by the movie’s end it looks not unlike a cross between a Blanket Octopus and a Deepstaria Jellyfish! And it is interesting to note that this creature that flies into a rage when people look directly at it makes a huge spectacle of itself, which would naturally cause people to stare at it.

I mean I stared, so surely I would not have been able to resist looking at it, even knowing it would eat me for doing so, and maybe the point is that spectacle is impossible to resist. The image is literally all-consuming. After all, as the audience, we couldn’t resist being distracted by that little upright shoe, even in the middle of the greater spectacle of Gordy’s rampage.

The Shoe

We get a flashback to what actually occurred on the set when Jupe takes Em into a private room in his home to show her the objects he saved from the show. One of the objects in his collection is a small gray shoe, which can be seen during Gordy’s rampage in the unlikely position of standing, unaided, on its heel. The director wants us to see this shoe. It sits in the center of the action even though its presence is not important to the actual event. There is a lot of speculation about the meaning of the shoe because even during the spectacle of the massacre the shoe is distracting. Many people think it’s a symbol that for Jupe the other shoe has yet to “drop”, and that that other shoe is what Jupe has been waiting for his whole life.

I believe the shoe is a parallel to the scene at the end of the movie where the alien turns out not to be a ufo, so much as a massive alien creature whose final form is both awesome and wondrous yet terrible and terrifying to behold. That inexplicable shoe standing on its end and the final form of the alien are wonders in the midst of horror.

**Incidentally, the song heard in the movie’s trailer is Fingertips Pt. 1 by a young Stevie Wonder, who was renamed “Wonder” by his manager Berry Gordy and hailed as the blind child prodigy, who played a variety of instruments, including the piano and the harmonica.

***Okay, this post has gotten long enough. In the second part of this review let’s talk about the primary characters: Oj, Em, Jupe, and Angel.

More New Trailers

Hey, we got a bunch of exciting new trailers that recently dropped so let’s check them out! Which ones are you looking forward to, and why. Let me know in the comments!

Jurassic World: Dominion

This is such a great trailer for the movie. I would watch an entire season of short snippets of people coping with dinosaurs, so I’m really excited to watch this. I hope it’s a really good movie because this was the kind of stuff I used to imagine when I was a kid and I don’t want to walk out of the theater disappointed.

Wow! I mean just think about it! What if dinosaurs existed at the same time as modern humans? We’d have to take the good (incredible images and photos) with the bad (possibly being eaten). What if you lived in a place with a dinosaur infestation? What would your insurance be like? How would you explain being late for work because there were some triceratopsians blocking the freeway? What if the local pack of herbivores showed up in your backyard and ate your flower garden? And let’s be honest here, there is a part of me that thinks watching human beings be menaced by giant predators is just deeply entertaining.

Incidentally, if you like this video there’s a trilogy of books by James David called Footprints of Thunder that has this same plot, with dinosaurs having made it into the modern world through a time rift! Not sure if it’s still in print but if you can find some copies, check them out.

As I mentioned before, my youngest niece and nephew have already decided we’re going to see this film, and I believe in shamelessly indulging their interests. My Millennial sister likes dinosaurs too, so I hope to turn this into a full family affair, (although my oldest niece may miss out because of work).

The Winchesters

Okay, I have no intention of watching this. I watched all 15 years of Supernatural and I have no more taste for their story. I stuck it out to the end, and have moved on. More than likely this is an appeal to a younger generation of supernatural fans who while they may have watched the old episodes, are probably more likely to watch this than those of us who sat through 15 seasons of the original series. The actors are all very pretty but I don’t know any of them and I don’t want to supplant any of my memories of the original with any images from this one, so I’m going to pass on it.

But I know there are some people who are greatly interested in this, so I’m giving y’all a heads up in case you hadn’t heard the news.

The Umbrella Academy

I am very excited about this series and I’m really looking forward to the season three premiere. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, I implore you to check it out. There will be at least one character you will fall in love with. I thought the character I would love the most was Klaus, who acts like a free spirit but is mostly traumatized by his ability to speak to the dead, and so self medicates. To my surprise, my favorite character turned out to be Number Five, an old man in a child’s body (due to time mishap) and who is the smartest sibling along with being a complete badass.

But this series is notable for having Eliot Page. Eliot came out as non-binary transgender last year and everyone was wondering how the character he played on screen in seasons one and two would be treated in the story. It appears that the character has also come out as transgender since the writers changed the name of the character from Vanya to Victor. Hopefully, Victor won’t try to destroy the world again as they did in the first two seasons. See how new this is. This is something that so different from what we’re used to that I don’t even know how to talk about a fictional character. How do I talk about Vanya? Is it deadnaming to talk about her since the new character is named Victor? And is it okay because she’s fictional? Somebody help!

She Hulk

I was a huge fan of the Jim Byrne run of the She-Hulk comic series, and I love what they’re doing here with the character. They seem to have perfectly captured the sensibility and mood of the books and now I’m looking forward to this. It looks fun and funny. I love how they made her a sexual being with appetites who makes it clear that she wants what she wants. The comic book version was often sexy and sassy, with a lot of snark and attitude, and yeah, Bruce Banner is indeed her cousin.

All that aside, I do hate the CGI. It looks awful and cheap and simply not up to Disney standards. The face is just wrong, especially in her Hulked-out state, and her body looks too thin, and not very muscular, which is a real problem I have with female characters who are supposed to have super strength but whose arms look like twigs. I hope they correct all this by the time the series airs. (Note: Jane Thor and King Valkyrie have just the right amount of muscle for such characters).

Note: I read that the CGI has been upgraded to look a bit better, so I checked it out, and the trailer was improved a bit. She looks more muscular than before, but her face still looks a little bit off to me. It’s not as bad as in the original trailer though.

Sandman

I have not read the Neil Gaiman comic books on which this series is based, something I plan to correct before the series airs in August. Since I am only passingly familiar with The Endless, I don’t know enough to be really excited about this, but so far, I like what I see, and I’m looking forward to reading the books, and watching the show.

But, whether or not I watch this also depends greatly on what else will be out at the time. Sometimes I have every intention of watching some show or movie, and then I don’t, or only watch some of it, not because it’s bad or anything, not because I’m bored, but because it’s sometimes hard for me to keep up the momentum, which has been stolen by another series. But even if I don’t watch the series, I intend to refresh myself with the books, which I haven’t even glanced at since I was a young’un.

New Thor 2 Trailer

Well, I already had plans to see this. Yeah, I’m an MCU fan and no shame in that, because I go to the movies to have fun and adventures, and MCU films deliver every single time. If I’m gonna spend that much money to be entertained I want it to be worth it. (Yeah, I’m not going to pay the cost of birthing a child in the US to watch a movie about pain and tragedy, unless it’s by Martin Scorcese.)

One of the primary reasons I love Taika Waititi (the director) is his ability, almost his compulsion, to take famous characters, sometimes famously evil ones, and deconstruct them, making them human and relatable, while never denying they’re not actually good people. He did this with vampires, Hitler, pirates, and superheroes, and he’s done the same thing for Thor, and I find it a really interesting habit. I’m gonna have to talk about that some more in another post.

So, yeah I’m looking forward to his interpretation of Jane Thor, King Valkyrie, and this new villain, Ghorr the Godslayer, who is played by Christian Bale.

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning

Okay, these actors are starting to get up there in years, (except for Rebecca Ferguson, who I believe might be a vampire), but I don’t care. The Mission Impossible franchise consistently hits it out of the park in the Action genre, and you have the usual required scenes of Tom Cruise jumping onto something while clenching a woman, and running really fast somewhere. I’m probably not going to see this in the theater because it’s simply not on my list of movies to watch this Summer. My mom used to throw my whole watchlist into disarray every year, but fortunately, I can dictate to my sister’s kids, and they kinda have to go along with my tastes if they wanna eat free popcorn.

I don’t actually have much to say about this trailer except the Action doesn’t look as wild and crazy as it has in previous films, but maybe they’re just holding back on those images, and when you’re sitting in the theater you’ll get that familiar sensation of your stomach dropping down to your knees, and you’ll clench the arms of your seat in terror, and paying five thousand dollars to see it will have been worth it.

Willow

I don’t normally engage in a whole lot of nostalgia, but for this movie, I will make an exception! The original movie was released in the 80s, and when it was available for TV, I remember watching it multiple times. It’s been thirty+ years and we have a sequel television series. As soon as I heard there was a trailer for this, my mind started playing the John Williams theme from the original. Yep, I still fondly remember that.

The reason the movie was so special to me was because of Warwick Davis. He was my first exposure to a dwarf actor, and I thought he was very handsome and very charming. In the movie, he is tasked with the care of a tiny baby girl that is the “chosen one”, But the movie isn’t about her, because she’s, like, one year old and has no speaking parts, so much as the hero’s journey of Davis’ character, Willow. It’s a little bit of a remix of Snow White, and surprisingly progressive for its time, with a woman warrior character and an evil Queen.

This sequel happens many years later and the “baby” is an adult, and Willow and some companions have been called to save their world again. The original was also my first real exposure to High Fantasy that I actually liked, as I was mostly indifferent to these types of books and movies, and most of them made no impression on me. But Willow snuck in and got to me, and I’m obviously going to have to do a deep dive before this series release!

I’m looking forward to it because it looks like a lot of fun and the nostalgia factor really kicked my ass while watching this!

Resident Evil

Despite that I’ve watched almost none of the movies, I do love a good horror series with lots of monsters, so I’m looking forward to this series. I’m not enthusiastic exactly, but anytime I’m watching a trailer, and I am sitting on the edge of my seat or just nope the fuck out (the giant spider scene), it’s definitely worth checking it out. so zombies, spiders, chainsaws, Black women being included in the story? I’m in!

I am glad to see more Black girls and women being involved in fantasy and horror movies and series. For the longest time, at least since the seventies, the existence of Black women as an audience that could be pandered to was not a thing. There’s nothing wrong with being pandered to in a narrative, despite the fact that straight white male audiences want to turn it into a dirty word, which is really ironic since for the past seventy years they have been the ones being pandered to by every form of entertainment media that existed.

Creators, almost all of whom were white men, literally didn’t think about other groups of people, in fact making it expressly clear that white men, between the ages of 15 and 35, was the ideal audience they were chasing after, and there is a contingent of online assholery that actually wants to go back to a time when we were considered nothing but maids, slaves, and servants to be abused in whatever stories we were in (hence the current online trolling of Black actresses who happen to find work in these genres). I’m glad to see these creators and writers remembering that WoC watch shit too, recognize that we also have money and choices, are willing to chase after PoC for their money, and that we want to see ourselves in these narratives as heroes and villains. Putting that message out into the world is one of the primary reasons I started this blog.

So yeah, I’m excited to see a Black girl in this series who is apparently being a total bad ass.

Strange World

I am a really huge fan of Lost World type movies, and my personal favorite is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I just love watching movies about goopy aliens, monsters, and weird environments and this looks like hella fun, plus it’s got this retro-vibe that I find aesthetically appealing. I don’t normally watch a lot of the kid’s stuff on Disney, and I don’t go to those type of movies anymore (cuz I don’t have that kind of money), but I would pay money to go see this. I think it’s just going to be on the Disney+ app though which has more than shown it’s worth in the series Wandavision, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, and a bunch of movies and documentaries.

I’m not sure how I feel about the characters, because as I said many times, it’s not just a plot or some imagery that pulls me into something. It’s got to have at least one or two characters I’m drawn to, although the characters do look really cute! I didn’t see much of their personalities in this trailer so I don’t know what to think of them yet, (and although the pilot looks appealing, it doesn’t mean I will like her) but the trailer looks like weird goopy fun, which is enough of an attraction for me, I guess. It’ll get a look-see.

The Menu

And finally there’s this gem, starring Ralph, Fiennes, and one of my favorite new actresses, who I hope will be around for a good long while, Anya Taylor-Joy! I have the feeling this movie is about one of my favorite topics, cannibalism, and I’m always up for a good humans eating humans movie, especially if it’s an “eat the rich” story. I only just heard of this movie, so I don’t have a lot of knowledge beyond the visuals, but I will probably watch this when it streams.

Starring the Landscape: The Desert Has No Memory

In 1971, Universal Pictures released Duel, a film starring Dennis Weaver, and directed by, a not yet famous, Stephen Spielberg, from a story by Richard Matheson. In it, a businessman named, conveniently, David Mann, is pursued across the desert by a monstrous truck and the driver who insists on terrorizing him. Mann, who thinks himself a practical, but tough fellow, has to prove his masculinity, not just against the driver of the truck that menaces him for over half the movie, but against his aging vehicle, and the Mojave desert in which this drama unfolds.

duel. steven spielberg | Tumblr

The hot, barren, landscape of the desert has often been used as a backdrop to tell stories of dramatic survival, proving one’s toughness, or realizing one’s humanity. Sometimes its about surviving the people in it, as everyone competes for the bare resources that can be found there. Unlike snowy environments, the desert’s wide-open terrain, with so few obstructions, is perfect for car chases, and creating a feeling of low grade anxiety, the sense that one could get lost in such isolation. The heat heightens a person’s fear, and desperation, creating a unique form of sweaty misery. The desert is for isolationists, the place people go when they want to separate themselves from other people, or to prove their rugged individualism, or in some cases, simply go mad.

In the Western storytelling tradition, the protagonist is the person who is trying to move forward, to progress, to accomplish a goal. The antagonist is whatever that person must struggle against to reach said goal. Through that process, the person undergoes change and/or growth. The desert is an environment that can often be filmed with a single protagonist, as in 2010’s 127 Hours, as a young hiker literally struggles against the environment that has trapped him, or as in the Mad Max franchise, a cast of thousands, and still get variations on these basic messages, because it’s the desert that is the ultimate antagonist.

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The desert tests the worthy, and this is nowhere better illustrated than in the Mad Max franchise, where human beings manage to scrounge a precarious living, several years after a global catastrophe. In Fury Road, when Max is captured by Immortan Joe’s Warboys, they treat him not as a person, but as a commodity, an object. Throughout the movie, while fighting Immortan Joe, his men, and the dry terrain in which their battle takes place, Max grows and changes, reasserting his humanity and proving to others that he is not a thing.

The Hills Have Eyes - Enzian Theater

The desert is home to the poor and isolated, with its lonely trailer parks, ghost towns, and abandoned and ramshackle houses. It’s a place where people go to get away from other human beings. Most Horror movies set in the desert, like those set in rural America, tend to focus on people as monsters, rather than creatures.

The kind of people who live in the desert are often equated with its predators, as they stalk, kill and feed on anyone they regard as intruders into their domain. They are sometimes mutated, and feral, as in the 1977 Wes Craven movie, The Hills Have Eyes, where a vacationing suburban family run afoul of a pack of cannibals who scrounge a living in the Nevada desert by eating those who pass through it. The movie pits family against family, as the Carters attempt to hold onto their humanity while fighting the inhumanity of the cannibals. And in 1987’s Near Dark, a family of vampires preys on desert wanderers, or the occasional lonely farmboy, who just happens to run afoul of the wrong girl of his dreams.

Horror movies GIF - Find on GIFER

The desert is vast and unforgiving, and its silence and isolation gives birth to much quieter horrors than trucks and cannibals, as all kinds of rotten secrets hide there, as in the 1975 movie, The Devil’s Rain, which stars William Shatner, as he tries to stop the leader of a Satanic cult from retrieving an artifact of great power. In the 2005 film, Wolf Creek, a young woman must try to survive the landscape, and the serial killer she and her family encounter while camping in the Australian outback, and in the 2017 Netflix movie, Cargo, a father is suffering from a zombie bite, while stranded in the outback, and must try to get his baby to safety before he succumbs to his wounds.

Desert wanderers are not always victims or innocents, and any people one finds wandering in the desert are best left to themselves, as the 1986 movie, The Hitcher, shows. When Jim Halsey picks up a hitchhiker in the Nevada desert, he finds he has picked up a serial killer who terrorizes him for the rest of the movie. It seems the desert is as great a place to be stalked and hunted as the jungle, since that is the plot of several desert set films, from 1995’s Nature of the Beast, which stars Lance Henriksen, to the 2001 Joy Ride, starring Paul Walker, where a group of teenagers is stalked by yet another truck driver across the arid landscape.

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Its best not to live in small towns situated in or near the desert, as they tend to attract monsters of all kinds including large and small desert dwelling insects. In the vast openness of the desert, creatures tend to grow in size to match, often aided by nuclear radiation. In the movie Them! from 1954, giant ants terrorize a desert town, after they are mutated by nuclear testing. A year later, another town experiences a giant spider invasion, caused by nuclear testing, in the 1955 movie Tarantula. Nuclear testing isn’t the only culprit for villainous desert bugs as they sometimes get mutated by chemical waste, such as in the 2002 horror comedy, Eight Legged Freaks, where the tiny town of Prosperity, Arizona gets attacked by the titular monsters, after a truckful of chemical waste, and a local spider farm, collide.

The smaller versions of these desert animals sometimes like to get in on the action, too, as in the 1977, Kingdom of the Spiders, starring William Shatner again, when tarantulas take their revenge against a small Arizona town that burned down one of their habitats. In the 1974 Phase IV, ants in the Arizona desert plan to take over the world, and make humans a part of their new hive mind, after a mysterious comet imbues them with greater intelligence.

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Sometimes other kinds of monsters come from under the ground, as the residents of a small Nevada town discover when an earthquake releases mutated cockroaches, that have the ability to start fires, and being eaten alive was something the residents of the tiny town of Perfection did not foresee after they are attacked by a pack of massive tunnel dwelling worms, that they name Grabboids. The townsfolk have to demonstrate just how self sufficient, and clever, they can be against an underground menace that can appear anywhere, and without warning, all while trying to escape across the barren landscape, to find safety in the next town.

In fact, the desert’s isolation ensures that all kinds of weirdnesses can be born there, and reach a certain level of maturity before they’re even discovered. The strangest thing to come out of the desert to prey on mankind is the sentient tire named Robert, from the 2010 Horror Comedy, Rubber. Robert rolls through the desert landscape telekinetically exploding any humans he encounters, while a choir of onlookers give commentary.

Despite the wealth of material in this post however, movies set in the desert aren’t that frequent. It’s a difficult landscape in which to shoot a film. The temperatures and sand can work against any filmmakers so making anything in such a place is a real feat, but there are a few filmmakers who feel that the sere dry heat and isolation of the desert is worth it. The desert landscape, just like it’s snowy cousin, the tundra, is the type of landscape that is great for showing human survival at the extremes.

Odd Things YouTube Recommended To Me

(Why???)

I have no idea why Youtube recommends certain types of videos to me. Sometimes it will recommend things to me from over ten years ago that are not based on anything I’ve been watching recently. I normally don’t search for music videos on Youtube, but I guess this was rec’d to me because of the music post I made before, with none of those videos having anything to do with this type of music, so there’s that…

Not that I don’t like this video. I just think it’s weird that it would recommend Indigenous Rock music, seemingly out of nowhere. I love the clothing (those coats are awesome!) and attitude though, although I’m not too impressed by the actual music. At least it’s upbeat. If this is your bag though, then go for it.

Okay, I was trying to find movies directed by George Plympton and I got nothing until several weeks later and this was Youtube’s answer. I liked this a lot (it’s deeply funny) but I wonder why it couldn’t have given me this video at the time I asked for it.

Plympton’s videos are always very silly and I enjoyed this one.

Just note, I think this video is incredibly funny, but I’m not sure why this was recommended to me at the time it was (a few weeks ago). Okay, I do search for animated shorts like this every year in October, but Halloween was months ago and I don’t recall asking for anything like this recently. There seems to be a significant lag time between what I ask for and what gets recommended. Or maybe the video simply didn’t exist back when I asked for something like it.

This one really resonated with me because there have been times when highly extroverted people latched onto me and determined that we were going to be friends regardless of what I wanted. Not that I didn’t appreciate their friendship but I do understand this lady’s predicament.

This is one of Denis Villeneuve’s weirdest films. I still don’t completely understand what’s going on here, but I enjoyed it, and it probably needs to be made into a movie. I do know why this was recommended to me though. It’s the interaction between requesting short horror films, watching all of the Bladerunner short films, and Villeneuve’s interviews.

I will unashamedly admit to watching cat videos, I generally enjoy most of them, and recently searched for some. So why Youtube decided to offer me tiny goat videos is a mystery. Not that these weren’t fun to watch (and now I want a dwarf goat). I don’t know how or why Youtube makes some choices, although I suspect a bunch of other people also watched cat videos and then searched for tiny goat videos and Youtube thought I might like some too.

For the record, I have never requested tiny goat videos.