Horror Comes To The ‘Burbs: Part I of the Starring the Landscape series

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Horror Comes to the ‘Burbs, by Lakitha Tolbert.

Hi! Have Some New Movie Trailers!

Hi! Here is a small list of movies that I’m interested in this year. Okay, partially interested in. Some of them I’m not exactly too keen on, but decided to add them here, in the interests of fake fairness.

 

*Quiet Place II 

I kinda like apocalypse movies, so I’m looking forward to this sequel. I may as well put it on my watch list for Summer, because I’m pretty sure my Mom (my movie buddy) is going to mess up my whole movie watching schedule for the Summer, by requesting to see Horror movies. A couple of times, I had to put my foot down and tell her that no we were not going to see the Annabelle movies!

I’m generally not real big on seeing Horror movies in the theater, because its easier to walk out on them when you’re at home, but I kinda know what type of scares to expect, having seen the first movie, so we will probably go see this one.

 

 

New Mutants

I started reading  the New Mutants during its first run waaay back in the 80s, and the primary story was about an Indigenous girl, named Danielle Moonstar, who was haunted by a  demonic bear. She had the ability to create realistic illusions in the minds of the people around her, and the bear had the ability to turn anyone it touched into a kind of demon minion.

I haven’t read that particular comic in decades, but I still vividly remember the images drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz (Sink-o-wits), who  became one of my all-time favorite comic book artists. I also thought the story was pretty scary too, so The New Mutants movie comes by its horror trappings very honestly.

The team consists of Illyana Rasputin, who is the sister of Colossus (from Deadpool) in the comic books. She is a kind of  half demon, who wields a soul sword. Rayne is a werewolf from Ireland. Sam is known as Cannonball, and is capable of flight, and Sunspot is ,well he’s complicated, and scary as f*ck, when you think about his powers. This trailer looks a lot more interesting than that first one we saw which really didn’t excite me very much. This new trailer makes the movie look as if it were worth paying money to see.

All that said, I’m not too keen on seeing this movie because of its overwhelming whiteness. Not a single one of these characters look anything like they have in the comic books for the past thirty years, and I just find that deeply annoying, along with not wanting to watch a bunch of teenagers, and their merely adequate acting skills. But hey, the trailer is cool.

 

 

 

John Henry

I’m really excited to see this one, (even though I still have issues about Black people constantly being associated with criminal activity in movies.) John Henry is one of those folk tales I heard when I was a little girl. I’m not clear if he was a real person or not, (I suspect he was), but he is basically an African American Folk Hero, like our version of Superman.

When Superman died in the comic books, back in the 90′, ,a bunch of different people tried to fill his shoes, and one of them was Steel, (who carries a giant hammer) who was based on John Henry.

Henry even has his own song, which I also learned as a kid. It’s basically a superhero story about a man who raced a steam drill, to tear a hole in a mountain. This was animated by Disney a few years ago, for the movie Legends. (This is not the original music for this short.)

 

This is the first live action version I’ve ever heard of, set in the modern day, and I cannot think of a better person to play this character than Terry Crews.

 

 

Tenet

Yes, yes, yes!!! I am very excited about this. i don’t know that I’ll get chance to see it in the theater, as I did The Dark Knight, but I am eagerly looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s latest thriller, which stars the son of Denzel Washington. Look for the little “time loops” in the trailer! There are several.

Tenet, described as “an action epic evolving from the world of international espionage,” seems to exist in the same complex cinematic conversation as Inception (if not the same universe) — in terms of how it dabbles in both the sci-fi and spy genre, and in regard to its futuristic-yet-grounded world filled with futuristic-yet-grounded technology.

The sequence centers around a terror crisis, and both the law enforcement members and a group of spies who respond to it, with seemingly different motivations. This plays into the specifics of the film’s spy world, as John David Washington’s character even sounds as though he’s speaking in code at one point.

It also contains a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that seemingly showcases the film’s time-warping technology in action, which helps to communicate the sci-fi twist. After the sequence wraps up, the prologue dives into a trailer-like montage, which contains the reversed car flip from the online trailer.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/tenet-imax-prologue-shows-a-time-bending-mission-1264421

https://youtu.be/-BplPeKclvw

 

 

 

Black Widow

Some movies, I’m instantly excited about, whether or not I see a trailer. Black Widow was not one of those movies. I heard they were gonna make it, and my mood was pretty, “Meh, I’m over her.”(It does not help matters that  Scarlett Johannson insists on walking around with her foot firmly planted in her mouth, and its hard to act that way.)

But most people don’t know about her social media gaffes, and, this trailer actually looks like a helluva lot of fun, and this trailer does make me want to see it. A little dose of humor goes a long way with me, because that first trailer was horrible. This one is a lot better, so I predict this is gonna be pretty big, and more than enough to tide people over, until Wonder Woman is released (another movie I don’t particularly care to see, not because I hate the movie, but because I just can’t dredge up enough energy to care about it.)

I really only have one question: When are they gonna make that Kamala Khan movie?

 

 

Free Guy

I like Ryan Reynolds and this just looks like goofy fun. I will not be seeing this in the theater however, because i generally avoid films that involved video games, and while Ryan and his wife have great onscreen presences, their personal life decisions are for shit. I really need to stop reading anything about celebrities. A lot of them suck as people.

 

 

Bloodshot

I probably will not see this in the theater, although I am a fan of the comic books, which it seems there’s like a thousand of them. The action scenes look cool as f*ck though, (I’m cussing, so you know I’m excited about this!), and despite Vin Diesel’s questionable acting skills, and the mediocre plot of having his wife get fridged as a motivator for vengeance, I kinda want to see this. I’ve been spoiled by some really good, smart action films for the past ten years, and while this looks like it has a nice mental twist, it doesn’t look as if it will captivate me, in a theater, for two hours. We’ll see!

 

 

 

The King’s Man

I like this one but probably won’t see this in the theater because I wont be able to get anyone else interested in going to see it with me. Now this movie is a prequel to The Kingsman franchise, is set in a different time period, and boasts a much weightier cast. I don’t know. This movie is giving me Indiana Jones feels, and that’s a good thing, since I like those movies.

 

Honorable Mentions

*Birds of Prey – A Harley Quinn movies, which looks interesting.

Mulan – A live action movie based on the original Chinese story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in the military.

*The Lovebirds – This one stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, whose good-natured humor has built them a large fan base, so I expect this movie to do well.

*Candyman – A remake of the original 90s movie by Jordan peel, and featuring cameos from the original cast.

*Morbius – I like a good vampire movie, and this is from the same people who made Venom, which I also liked. Morbius is part of the Spiderman universe, and is one of his deadliest villains. He basically eats spider-people. I would have preferred an animated version of this in the style of Into the Spiderverse, but we got Jared Leto instead. Whaddya gonna do?

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – I just really like this stupid title.

Last Night in Soho – I got two words for ya’. Edgar Wright!

*Snakeeyes – This is one of my favorite characters from the G I Joe universe, so I’m looking forward to seeing this. I guess its gonna be an action movie year.

*Halloween Kills – I was one of the few people who seemed to actually enjoy the previous Halloween movie, so I guess I’ll be sitting all alone in the theater, for this sequel.

Eternals – I don’t know what to think about this yet. Its part of the newest phase of the MCU universe. I’m withholding my opinion until i see a trailer.

*Dune – I  like this director, Denis Villenueve, and liked his interpretation of Bladerunner, so I’m looking forward to his version of Dune. I’ve read Dune every couple of years, or so, and I actually enjoy the original film, despite its inaccuracies.

One drawback though is that he doesn’t feature any Black people in his movies that either aren’t criminals, or getting horribly killed. I looked at the casting for this movie, and there is only one Black man in the entire cast (on what is supposedly a desert planet where everyone appears to be lily-White). He plays the character of Jamis, one of the first people killed by Paul when he joins the Fremen. Even though the Fremen are canonically based on Middle eastern tribes, there’s not one MENA person in the cast. Zendaya is in the cast, and I like her a lot, but she is light-skinned, so she is one of those people a director casts, when they want someone of ambiguous ancestry.

I’m starting to give Villenueve a heavy side-eye on his depictions of characters of color. I’m not saying Villenueve is a racist. What I’m saying is that like a lot of White directors,he has never thought about race at all, and so continues to reproduce the same tired, worn, stereotypes of Black and Brown criminals, who need to be punished in the story.

Most Beautiful Horror Movies

October is long over, but I’m never going to get tired of discussing Horror movies, so you’ll  just have to bear with me.

As a visual artist, movies are very important to me.  It’s part of the reason I love most of the movies I love regardless of their other qualities. I especially love movies that dazzle my  eyes. I chose Horror movies for this post. Horror, and Scifi are the two  genres that are most free to imagine, while breaking the rules of costuming, and makeup, and people really don’t give them enough credit for their beauty.

 

Bride of Frankenstein – The Bride (1935)

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The Monster’s Bride’s makeup and hair are iconic. Anytime its referenced in another movie, and everyone who sees the costume, who knows movies at all, knows where this look is from, the name of it, and the actress who wore it, Elsa Lanchester. The Bride is one of the first female monsters to ever appear on film, with the exception of the 1932 Vampyr, (which featured the first onscreen female vampire, Carmilla).

Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale, and this movie is heavily referenced in the 1998 movie, Gods and Monsters, where we see Whale, (played by  Ian McKellen), get reunited with his monsters, Karloff and Lanchester.

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Us – The Tethered (2019)

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The costumes in this movie are not especially beautiful, but they do have a lot of wealth of meaning, as related to the plot. Here, the costumer, Kym Barrett, and the director, Jordan Peele,  discuss the meaning of the costumes from Us.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/03/us-meaning-costumes-kym-barrett-interview-red-jumpsuit/585793/

https://fashionista.com/2019/03/jordan-peele-us-movie-costumes

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It- Pennywise (2019)

Pennywise’s costume is just a tiny bit uncommon because it  is loosely based on Pedrolino, a sort of generic, French clown from the  Italian commedia dell’arte. At any rate, clowns being scary has a very loooong history. The 2019 version of Pennywise (Skarsgaard), in his white costume and distinct, Pagliacci style,  makeup, is very different in looks, from the television mini-series version, played by Tim Curry, who looked much more traditionally American. The costume designer, Luis Sequeira, is also known for his work on The Shape of Water, (which got him nominated for an Oscar in 2017.)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/films/warner-home-video/why-is-pennywise-so-scary/

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https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-and-psychology-of-clowns-being-scary-20394516/

You aren’t alone in your fear of makeup-clad entertainers; people have been frightened by clowns for centuries

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Legend- Darkness (1985

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This movie is known for Tim Curry’s portrayal of a Satanic figure, Darkness, who tempts an innocent young virgin to be her worst self. Mia Sara and Tom Cruise star as a pair of star crossed lovers, who run afoul of Curry’s Demon King after Sara’s encounter with a unicorn gets it killed. He uses her guilt at having lured the unicorn to its death to try to turn her into a demon as well. This is  the most underrated straight  Fantasy movie of the 80s, and probably because of the presence of Tom Cruise, that people dismiss it.

This was Ridley Scott’s next big film after Bladerunner, and it has all of his usual markers, in that it is gorgeous, lush, surprisingly sexy, and has a point to make, about good vs. evil, and fate vs. choice. The standout visuals, and the best lines, all belong to Tim Curry. The makeup was designed by Rob Bottin, fresh off his stints on The Howling, and The Thing. The  soundtrack was composed by Tangerine Dream and the costume designer was Charles Knode, who was also responsible for the costumes for Bladerunner.

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Queen of the Damned – Akasha (2002)

i already talked about Akasha, the Egyptian adjacent Queen of the vampires, from Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned.

https://wordpress.com/post/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/80911

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Beetlejuice- Lydia Deetz (1988)

Lydia Deetz, is one of Tim Burton’s most iconic characters, and is also the most well dressed emo, Goth-girl in cinema. Wynona Ryder is  probably the only teenager in America that could pull off wearing a black veil, when not in actual mourning. She remains true to her style, and her nature, even after her parents decide to forgo civilization, and movie to the boonies. It only makes sense that their new house would be haunted by the ghosts of the gentle couple that lived there before them, (along with that rascally scoundrel, and  ne’er do-well, Beetlejuice.)

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The Cell (2000)

The Cell is one of the most beautiful horror movies ever made. A psychologist played by Jenifer Lopez, goes into the dreaming mind of a serial killer, to find the whereabouts of his latest victim, before her time runs out.  Tarsem, the director, who got his start in music videos, was heavily influenced by the some of the more  avante-garde artists who came before him. The costumes for this movie were also designed by Eiko Ishioka, the costumer for 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Artistic Influences

Some of the scenes in The Cell are inspired by works of art. A scene in which a horse is split into sections by falling glass panels was inspired by the works of British artist Damien Hirst. The film also includes scenes based on the work of other late 20th century artists, including Odd NerdrumH. R. Giger and the Brothers Quay.[3] Tarsem—who began his career directing music videos such as En Vogue‘s “Hold On” and R.E.M.‘s “Losing My Religion“—drew upon such imagery for Stargher’s dream sequences. In particular, he was influenced by videos directed by Mark Romanek, such as “Closer” and “The Perfect Drug” by Nine Inch Nails, “Bedtime Story” by Madonna,[4] and the many videos that Floria Sigismondi directed for Marilyn Manson. During a scene, Jennifer Lopez falls asleep watching a film; the film is Fantastic Planet.

In the scene where Catherine talks with Carl while he is “cleaning” his first victim, the scenery resembles the music video “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.. The scene where Peter Novak first enters the mind of Carl Stargher, and is confronted by three women with open mouths to the sky is based on the painting Dawn by Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum. The scene when Catherine Deane is chasing Carl through a stone hallway, right before she enters the room with the horse, is based on a painting by H. R. Giger called “Schacht”.

                      —– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cell#Artistic_influences

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Hellraiser- Pinhead (1988)

Pinhead, as played by the origianl, Doug Bradley,  (although no name was given for the character in either the book or movie), is an iconic horror figure. Even people who have never seen Hellraiser know him. Inspired by Dante, Faust, and  BDSM gear, the silhouette, the headgear, the “its just business” attitude, has itself inspired a line of streetwear.

 

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Bran Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

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Although Francis Ford Coppola was confident enough in his interpretation of this classic story to put Bram Stoker’s name on it, there are some significant differences from the original source material, and one of  them is  Dracula is shown as a much more romantic figure. The movie is essentially a love story, whereas in the book, Dracula is much more a figure of horror, and the emphasis is more on his symbolism as a  disease, since at that time, England was very much concerned with the influx of European immigrants. At the time, Eastern Europeans were not considered White, and were said to be of impure blood, and polluting England’s shores.

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Dracula is shown here to be a studly studmuffin in the form of Gary Oldman, who is not normally considered very hawt, but manages to pull it off very well. This movie has some of the most beautiful costuming I’ve ever seen in a horror movie, and it put the designer, Eiko Ishioka, on the map, as the go-to person for freaky/sexy, historical dress.

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/eiko-ishioka-japanese-costume-designer-google-doodle-bram-stokers-dracula-gary-oldman-winona-ryder-a7836536.html

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

This movie is a beautiful mashup of historical inaccuracy,  Kung Fu, and steampunk  Monsters!

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The Birds

Tipi Hedren is the epitome of a hip, urban, fashionista of the 60s.

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The Hunger

Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as modern day, urban, vampires.

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The Company of Wolves

This classic fairy tale got the 1980s makeover treatment with high fashion and werewolves, courtesy of Neil Jordan, the director of 1992’s Interview with the Vampire.

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Some Favorite Comedies

I wouldn’t call myself a film comedy fan, whatever that means, (although I have and will, watch plenty of TV comedies), nevertheless, I have watched a large number of them in the past four decades. Some of them have been more impressive than others, and by impressive I mean that I actually laughed at them, or  watched them  multiple times, “… and it keeps getting funnier, every single time I see it!!!”

I have a strange relationship with humor. I don’t often find funny what other people find to be funny, is much so, that I used to think something was wrong with me (but it turns out I’m, most likely, somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum). I’m often unimpressed with the kinds of movies other people think are hilarious. I’ve been told, from time to time, that I’m pretty funny myself, and while I like to say silly things to strangers to break the ice, I don’t really think of myself as a particularly funny person.

I have noticed a pattern to what I find funny. My sense of humor is tends to be childlike,  just straight up silliness, solely for its own sake, and the movie usually has to be mixed with some other genre. Of all the movies on this list, The Nutty Professor is the probably the only movie which I would say was made solely for comedy’s sake, as its really not mixed with some other genre, (maybe sci-fi, since it’s a parody of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and yeah, I am including the 1963 Jerry Lewis’ version. But most of these are Western, or Horror, or SciFi Comedy.

So here, in no particular order, are just some of my favorite comedies. I have several more favorites that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it onto this list, but hey, I can always so another post, right?

 

Galaxy Quest 

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There is no such thing as the comedy to end all comedies, but if there were, Galaxy Quest would be the parody to end all SciFi parodies. After this movie got made, no more need be said on the subject.

I absolutely love the fuck out of this movie, taking every opportunity to watch it when it airs on TV, and here are only five of the reasons why:

  1. Its a Star Trek parody, and I am an Old School Star Trek fan. Name a character, or play some music from the original series, and I can tell you the title and plot! I wanted to be Lt. Uhura when I was a little girl, and I would of course, marry Spock!

2.  Sigourney Weaver, the queen of my other favorite movie franchise, Alien. Sigourney gets nearly every great line in this movie,  and is only rivaled in the amount of great lines she gets by:

3.  Sam Rockwell, as Guy Fleegman, a redshirt nobody who is convinced that because his character has no last name, and is the head of security, that  he is going to die on whatever adventure they are having.

4. This movie contains one of my all-time, favorite, movie tropes, featured in films like The Three Amigos, Tropic Thunder, and A Bug’s Life, where a group of actors mistake a plea for help, from some unsophisticated victims, to be a request to do a show. The actors sign up to do a show, which  turns out to be the  real thing, and they have to now become actual heroes. This plot trope is also  a parody based on The Magnificent Seven, and The Seven Samurai.

5. Alan Rickman’s Dr. Lazarus, who is a loose parody of a conflation of the character, Spock, and  any number of Shakespearean English actors,  like Patrick Stewart, whose makeup becomes more, and more disheveled, the further we get into the movie, until its time to say that one line of dialogue that he absolutely hates, (but for real this time), during which his makeup becomes perfect.

Its not that Tim Allen’s character isn’t funny. He has his moments, but he is also the only character willing to take everything seriously, while all the other characters are like: WTF?!!! Especially Tony Shalhoub’s character,  Fred Kwan, who I think, spends the entire movie high as a f*cking kite, and still manages, somehow, to keep his game on point, and get the girl. I don’t think he actually believes that any of the shit that’s happening is real, and is able to just totally roll with whatever happens, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s probably a great way to get through most of the world’s minor tribulations.

One day, I have to do an entire post on this film, talk about why I love this so much, what tropes the film is parodying, the whole thing.

 

Raising Arizona

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/speaking-of-crime-raising-arizona-1987/

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Before, Raising Arizona, I was not much of a movie comedy person. I watched most comedies on TV, and that was where I stayed. I grew up watching the Three Stooges,, The Little Rascals, and Looney Tunes, and moved on to more adult comedies like Mary Tyler Moore, Barney Miller, and WKRP in Cincinnati, and  comedians like Robin Williams from Mork and MIndy, or George Carlin, and Jonathan Winters, especially if they showed up on the late night TV shows I wasn’t supposed to be up watching.  Sometimes I would watch a Scifi comedy, or a Horror comedy, but I didn’t often watch comedic movies that were just whatever they were.

I mentioned in an earlier post how this movie came to resonate with me, and played a big part in my memories of college life. Everything about this movie strikes my funny bone, from Hi and his  friend’s highfalutin’  manner of speaking, despite that all of them are lowlifes, to the plot,  the music, and cartoonish action scenes. This is the only movie I will watch, (besides, Ravenous, and  Mars Attacks!), that prominently features yodeling.

 

Tucker and Dale Vs Evil 

I gave a review of this movie here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/geeking-out-about-tucker-and-dale-vs-evil-2010/

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My favorite scene in the entire movie is Tucker being chased by bees, while wielding a chainsaw. I just lose it every single time, and you have to watch the movie, just to put that scene in context. This  movie is utterly ridiculous and knows it.

 

 

Best in Show

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The great thing about this movie, isn’t the situation, although I do like Dog Shows, its the complete silliness of the characters. The Director is none other than the maker of This is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest, an alumni from Saturday Night Live, who wrote the script with Eugene Levy, who has become another favorite of mine. They specialize in the kind of smug, off brand, humor that a relies on subtly, weird characters, and puns, and which is often called pretentious.

These are not laugh out loud, guffawing type movies. The humor goes much deeper than that, to tickle waaay down in your stomach. The characters are not necessarily doing obviously funny things, there is little  slapstick, and most of the humor relies on dialogue. In some cases, you are actually laughing at the characters, while others you laugh with, and this is some exceptional writing, when you can have multiple characters like this in the same movie. But what I love the most about this movie is no matter how funny the character’s are, none of it is mean spirited. Guest loves his characters, and doesn’t  humiliate them, just for the enjoyment of it. They are always either clueless, or hapless, people who mean well, but just, for whatever reason, can’t.

The movie follows three different couples as they navigate their way through a dog show. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara play John and Cookie Fleck, a lower middle class couple, the owners of a Norwich Terrrier, who are out of their league at such a prestigious event as the American Kennel Club Dog Show. Cookie has a sordid past as the town futon, who is constantly running into old lovers, while Eugene is her hapless, two left-footed, husband.

Meg and Hamilton Swan are a pretentious, and neurotic, yuppie couple, who you are probably meant to laugh at, as they wax nostalgic about meeting each other at competing Starbucks, and freak out over their completely unperturbed Wiemeraner. Scott and Stephan are a gay couple, who are the charming, funny, and the gracious, highlight of the movie, and the sweetly pretentious dogfathers of a pair of tiny Shih Tzus.

The singletons are Mrs. Cabot, a trophy wife, who has an interesting relationship with Christy Cummings, played by  Jane Lynch, as a famous, over-competitive dog trainer of a poodle. And Christopher Guest himself rounds out the cast as an overly hopeful Basset Hound owner, who is totally out of his comfort zone, named Harlan Pepper. The most silly character in the film is the Dog Show announcer who embarrasses his fellow announcer by  making dumb, loud, and off-color jokes.

All of the characters are deepened with interesting side stories, and little quirks of personality that make them more likable than annoying. Guest is the type of humorist who doesn’t try to be edgy, or shocking, to the viewer. You can tell he likes these characters, even the Swans. He’s not trying to humiliate them just for shits and giggles, and most of them get positive, if not happy, endings. This is also one of my favorite movies about dogs.

(Yes, we have two dogs in the house, our dignified elder statesman, Sargent, a Rat Terrier, who has a bobbed tail. I like to call him Capt. Wiggle-Bottom, and our smalle, and  faster, back up model, named Rusty, a redheaded Yorkie, I like to refer to as The Squeaker, and  however you just pictured them, is exactly how they behave.)

 

 

 

Tropic Thunder

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Okay, I know that I am probably not supposed to find this movie as funny as I do, filled as it is with Blackface, Black stereotypes, Asian stereotypes, Jewish stereotypes, and  its use of the R word, but I just cannot help myself. I just love this movie, and that is due almost entirely to Robert Downey Jr’s character, a White Australian actor, who spends  the entire movie masquerading as a Black man, while working next to  an actual Black man, and lecturing another White man on how that man went too far in portraying a marginalized character. I think what’s really the movie’s  saving grace for me, is the ACTUAL Black man, played by Brandon Jackson, who calls Downey’s character out at every opportunity. The people who made this film knew that everything they were doing was wrong, and still went there with it!

Tropic Thunder is meant to be a satire on war movies, and actor’s careers. Jeff Portnoy is meant to poke fun at Eddie Murphy. The makeup artist for this film, Rick Baker, also did the makeup for Murphy’s Nutty Professor movies. Tug Speedman is a play on Tom Cruise, who also has a cameo in the movie, (and almost steals the whole damn thing, even when you don’t recognize him!), and Robert Downey’s character, named Kirk Lazarus, was a statement about Australian and British actors who make it big in Hollywood, by playing chameleon-like roles.

As the film progresses, and the events that were only being faked on a movie set before, become more and more real, Lazarus’ makeup starts to wear off, and you can see his real face, as he becomes a White man,  with an incongruous, 70’s Blaxploitation accent. I remember when I first saw the trailer, I kept looking for Downey,, because I was told he was in it, and not finding him. It wasn’t until after the movie’s release that I realized I’d been looking at him the entire time. His makeup is so incredibly convincing that he looked like my late uncle, something which struck me as incredibly funny. Even after knowing it was Downey, I still kept seeing my uncle, (probably because he says a number of things that are exactly how my uncle would have reacted, under the same circumstances).

Some of my favorite moments aren’t even in the movie, like the DVD commentary, where Downey does a ridiculous Blaccent, the entire time, because  as Kirk Lazarus states,  he doesn’t break character until the DVD commentary. It is hands down one of THE funniest DVD commentaries I’ve ever listened to, as Jack Black is a natural born cusser, and, very probably, drunk during the whole thing.

 

The Nutty Professor (1963)

This is the original movie on which Eddie Murphy’s 1996 version was based. This is the one I grew up watching, along with a bunch of other Jerry Lewis films. It does differ significantly from the remake, but the basic plot is the same, a kindhearted, nebbishy, teacher transforms himself into the ultimate masculine man, to attract the attention of the beautiful woman he has a crush on. But the differences are interesting too, and not just the race of the characters. The original film is also a musical with a number of setpieces written by Walter Scharf, and performed by Jerry Lewis himself.

Jerry Lewis plays Julius Kelp, a nerdy, science teacher ,who has fallen in love with one of his students, Stella Purdy, who is played by the lovely Stella Stevens. To win her love he transforms himself with a potion, (ala Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) into an obnoxious character, named Buddy Love. Just as in the remake though, the potion doesn’t last, and his true self gets revealed for all to see.

From the opening scene, to the final act, the movie is filled with a lot of great physical comedy, but the highlight of the movie, at least for me, were the two musical performances by Lewis, and performed with maximum chill, called Old Black Magic, and my personal favorite, We’ve Got A World That Swings. But the movie is filled with some great little character moments, like the one below, where Dr. Kelp gets carried away by the song being performed by Les Brown’s Band of Reknown. He is truly among the world’s worst dancers! The dialogue is smooth and funny, with  Kelp and Buddy as very distinct characters. The most popular moment, for most viewers, is the introduction of Buddy Love, but Stella also gets her due, and her man. She may not be the star of the film, but she is always treated with respect, by the writers, and the other characters.

 

 

The Nutty Professor (1996)

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The best comedies don’t just make you laugh while watching them, they make  you laugh while  thinking about them later. The 1996 Nutty Professor is a remake of the 1963 version of the Jerry Lewis film, only instead of a nerd scientist, made cool by chemistry, you get an obese man, turned into Eddie Murphy, at his most obnoxious, through the use of chemicals. The remake makes more evident, what the original only sort of played around with, that Buddy Love is a horrible person, who is not meant to be admired. This is done by contrasting him against Sherman’s sweet and gentle nature, as they both pursue a  romance with the beautiful Miss Purdy, played by Jada Pinkett.

I think most people who love this movie will agree, that the dining scene, which  happens somewhere in the middle of this movie and illustrates both the love and   shame that Sherman feels about his over sized family, is without a doubt, one of the funniest scenes ever. Eddie Murphy plays four different characters who all interact with one another, but its his Grandma who gets all the best lines, that people are still repeating to each other, over twenty years later. Even my mother loves this movie, and is just the right age, (apporaching 70), to get away with telling someone, “C’mon Cletus!”, while shaking  her cane at people, and have that shit be funny as hell!

 

 

The Blues Brothers

Here’s another comedy that’s also a musical. I was a big fan of John Belushi, mostly for his SNL parodies of Toshiro Mifune’s character from Seven Samurai, called Samurai Delicatessen, Samurai Stockbroker, Samurai TV Repairman, Samurai Night Fever, and Samurai Hotel, bearing in mind that, at that age, I had never seen Seven Samurai.

I was not a huge fan of Dan Ackroyd, but I was willing to tolerate him, for the sake of John, and in a delightful surprise, Aretha Franklin, performing Think, and Ray Charles, performing, Shake A Tail-feather. The movie has never struck me as especially deep. It doesn’t seem like its trying to make a point, and its not really all that laugh out loud funny, but what it is, is  pure, goofy fun because Jake and Elwood are the best possible brothers.
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Evil Dead II

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I remember watching the first movie a little while before I went to see this sequel. I remember I was not particularly impressed with the first film. I remember seeing this one at a theater downtown on a double bill with Robocop. I do remember those as some very enjoyable hours.

In hindsight, I cannot imagine why I was against seeing Raising Arizona, when I was in college, because that movie has some of the same ridiculous type of humor as this one, and I thought, (heck, I still do), that this is one of the funniest horror movies I’ve ever seen.

Have you ever watched anything so over the top, ridiculously stupid, that you have no choice but to laugh at it? That pretty much describes this entire film, from the image of a rotting corpse, dancing with its own severed head,  to a demon possessed hand, that’s trying to kill its owner, Sam Raimi just gave full vent  to his silliness, for which I will always respect that man. The movie cemented my love for Bruce Campbell, whose career I’ve been following ever since.

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Kung Fu Hustle

I wrote about my love for Kung Fu Hustle here:

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/geeking-out-about-kung-fu-hustle/

This is another one of those movies, that is just so over the top ridiculous, that its hard not to like it. I love both Looney Toons, and martial arts films, and this movie is the perfect mashup.

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Honorable Mentions:

Blazing Saddles – This is the scene, that caught me, right here:

 

The Birdcage – One of the thee funniest movies Robin Williams ever made, and what’s so hilarious about that is, he was the straight man in this duo, while Nathan Lane got all the best lines:

 

 

A Bug’s Life – I love the bloopers and outtakes scenes at the ends of the early Pixar movies. The creators didn’t have to do that, and I love that the writers went a little out of their way. But my favorite line in the entire film is in the bar scene: “Waiter, I’m in my soup!” 

 

 

What We Do In the Shadows – Who hasn’t Wanted to finish some “dark bidding” on Ebay?

 

 

Beetlejuice – The Wedding Scene

Viewing List – November Edition

These are the reviews from things I watched in October and November. I will try to make these as short as possible, but y’all know I’m good at blabbing about TV shows, so wish me luck with that.

 

Dolemite is My Name

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I was kinda excited about seeing this, nevertheless i was surprised by how much I liked this movie, and I can think of no better actor to play Rudy Ray Moore than Eddie Murphy, a comedian I have  always had tremendous respect for, and who really doesn’t get enough credit for all the work he’s done, in the past 30 years.

Now, I have to give a little bit of background here. I grew up in the time period in which this movie is set. I would have been 2 maybe three years old at the beginning of the movie, but I have very distinct memories of grownups being really excited about Moore, and Yes, I did encounter a couple of those racy album covers in my mom’s collection, but I don’t think she knows I remember she was a Rudy Ray Moore fan.

I have a very clear memory of mom, and her then boyfriend, taking us to the Drive-in to watch The Human Tornado, which came out in 1975, and was a sequel to Dolemite.  I would have been five, and my brothers would have been 3 and 4. She would have had the assurance that, since we were babies, we would all be asleep by the opening credits. I don’t think she knows I was wide awake No, I wasn’t scarred for life or anything, but I definitely  remember parts of  the movie, and even some  it’s theme song. I know this is a genuine memory because I have never seen the movie as an adult.

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Anyway, all this to say that this definitely brought back some memories. There are some things about Black culture that only Black people know. I’m gonna let y’all in on a little secret.

Black people have our own stories, which seem to parallel stories from other cultures. Most of them you’ve probably never heard of,  unless you grew up in the culture, or have parents of a certain age, like my Mom. My mom used to tell us stories about the Signifyin’ Monkey, the lion, and the elephant, (only without all the cursing, and never the whole story, since its fairly raunchy.) Probably not the sort of things one would tell one’s kids today, but things were different back, then, and my Mom was kinda weird. It has a pretty long history, too. If you have ever  read American Gods, Anansi tells a story that is directly based on the folklore tale , titled How the Monkey Got the Tiger’s Balls:

Numerous songs and narratives concern the signifying monkey and his interactions with his friends, the Lion and the Elephant. In general, the stories depict the signifying monkey insulting the Lion, but claiming that he is only repeating the Elephant’s words. The Lion then confronts the Elephant, who physically assaults the Lion. The Lion later realizes that the Monkey has been signifyin(g) and has duped him and returns angrily to castrate the monkey, rendering him unable to reproduce.[3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signifying_monkey

http://mogley.tripod.com/monkey.html  

The Signifyin’ Monkey is part of the Dolemite theme song. Since this is a Rudy Ray Moore biopic, there’s a lot of cursin’, and some mild nudity. Its not half as raunchy as the actual Moore, but I think he’d be satisfied with what was shown in this movie.

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I also enjoyed it outside of the nostalgia factor. There’s a scene, in the early part of the movie, where Rudy encounters a plus size woman whom he recruits into his comedy troupe. This woman later  became known as  Queen Bee, who was every bit as raunchy in her style of comedy as Rudy. The story is arranged in such a way that you’re meant to cheer Rudy as a driven, hard working man, who triumphs against the small minds of others. Needless to say, most comedians probably couldn’t get away with most of the comedy routines, in this movie. The seventies featured a lot of new culture, that we take for granted now, and one of those things was raunchy Black comedians.

There were plenty of Black comedians before Rudy, who said some fairly racy stuff, but they mostly worked what was known then as The Chitlin’ Circuit, which were a collection of venues where only only Blacks could perform, since they still, even in the seventies,  considered too raunchy to play in the mainstream (i.e. White ) circuits. Rudy was one of the first of these type of comedians to go (sort of) mainstream, in that even White people heard about him, although he still would never have been invited on The Johnny Carson Show. So, the movie is one of those low key inspirational films, about overcoming racism in Hollywood. The first half of the movie is very caught up in people telling Rudy “no” , telling him what he can’t do, or making fun of him for wanting certain things, and Rudy going off to do those things anyway.

I have since learned that Eddie Murphy has received a Golden Globe nomination for this role. but I don’t think he will win. He does some great work here, but its not the best work he’s done, and really, I thought it was a walk in the park for him. He can play this type of role in his sleep. But I did enjoy watching him, because his charm makes the occasionally cringey plot, very watchable.

 

The Mandolorian

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I am loving The Mandolorian, and not just for the Baby Yoda scenes. (No, that isn’t actually Yoda, but some distant descendant, since this series is set after Return of the Jedi.) This series is full of some of the classic themes we expect from Star Wars. George Lucas has said the original Star Wars was based on the works of Japanese film Director Akira Kurosawa, most specifically, Seven Smaurai, and you can see some of the influence here.

In fact the series heavily reminds me of the Japanese Manga called Lone Wolf and Cub, in which an itinerant samurai, a ronin, wanders the Japanese landscape, with his tiny son, searching for vengeance, and  getting into various adventures. The only differences between that, and The Mandolorian, is the son doesn’t have force powers, isn’t on anybody’s wanted list, and isn’t half as cute as Baby Yoda. The show takes care to focus on the relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda, too. There are a lot of really cute moments between them, and the public seem to have really taken a shine to the little guy, much the same as his adoptive Dad.

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Its also a classic story about a character’s personal growth.  Mando starts out as a bounty hunter, who is just there for the work, so he can buy some new armor, but makes the decision to take the baby and run, rather than deliver him/her to his clients. There are larger mysteries which haven’t been answered yet, like who exactly is the Mandolorian, why does everyone want the baby, and where did this baby come from.

The production values, the costumes, acting, and special effects, are all top notch. It really does have the look and  feel of one of the movies, which makes it very easy to watch, although this luxury comes at the expense of the episode running times, which never get beyond 45 minutes. I can live with that, especially since the action scenes are the highlight of the series. In one of the earlier episodes, there is a full on fight between a team of Mandolorians and the various ne’er do wells, and criminals, on the planet on which they’ve all been hiding out. When CG is used, its mostly for the creatures, and action scenes, and is largely invisible, as its supposed to be.

 

 

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War of the Worlds – BBC Version

 

There have been umpteen different versions of this show. A book, a radio program that, as it is rumored, gave some people the shits back in the thirties, as they thought it was real, several movies from the fifties to the nineties, one of which starred Tom Cruise, another TV show, and now this.

Its a three part miniseries from the BBC, and so far I’m really liking it. Its got some nice production values. You can see where the money went in this one. The special effects are well done, and not that usual cheap TV stuff you sometimes get in big idea shows, and the show, quite frankly, looks gorgeous. The acting is acceptable,  although the only actor I truly recognize is Robert Carlisle.

And this show is not fucking around with its theme. H.G.Wells wrote the novel as a reaction to the British annexation of the Congo, and the atrocities that were being committed during the colonization of India. He wrote a book about the violent colonization of England by a superior technological force, as a condemnation of the British Empire’s activities, and the show makes this connection loud and clear, right in the opening credits. In the first fifteen minutes of the show, you hear characters having conversations about the might of the British Empire, and how wonderful it is to live in such a powerful country. By the end of the first episode though, the Martians have shut that talk down.

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There’s also some melodrama involving the two stars of the show, Rafe Spall, the brother of Timothy Spall, as a fellow named George, and Eleanor Tomlinson as his paramour, Amy. The two  are madly in love, but cannot be together, because George’s  wife refuses to divorce him, She hates him, and wants to remain married to him just to spite him. The family is scandalized, his older brother,  is outraged, and the  the rest of the community don’t know how to think of this thing, where the two of them are living together, unmarried. Plus Amy is pregnant.

I was not initially interested in the melodramatic aspect of the show, but the show does this thing, where it flashes back and forth to the future, after the alien invasion has been conquered, but the Earth is a literal hot mess, because the aliens weren’t just there to invade, they were terrraforming. Amy is wandering through the red deserts of what used to be England, with her young son. She has been separated from George for a long time, but still holds out hope of finding him. I didn’t care, at first, but I decided that I liked the characters. At least, I liked Amy, and that seems to be enough for me to start to care the rest of it.

The show opens with her and George witnessing the launch of the ships from Mars. Its a little different from the movies, because the ships look like meteors as they land, and that’s hat people think they are. They look like black globes that float off the ground, and are capable of setting people on fire from a distance. The tripods break out of the ground after the globes explode, and start their rampage, although the tripods aren’t so much interested in annihilating people, as they seem to be in seeding the planet with various gasses and chemicals. Like I said, this is not an invasion, exactly. They are transforming Earth into another version of Mars, and if you look at the flash forwards, their mission seems successful.

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I did have some criticism about characters doing stupid things, but this is only because this is one of those situations where the audience knows more about what’s going to happen than the characters do, so there were a lot of instances where people are standing around looking at things, while I yell things like ,” Get the fuck out of there!!!!’, and, “Run!” There are  various government officials who act like the mayor from Jaws, and simply bluster uselessly at the reports they’re getting from other parts of the country, about the annihilation of entire towns, even though the city is filling up with refugees from those areas. The British are so full of themselves about the initial events, that I have to admit, it was a bit satisfying watching them get their asses handed to them by the Martians, which point the show is trying to make. Basically, the show is saying that the British “ain’t all that!”

There are lots of closeups of boiling ant colonies, along with images of English people living their best lives, not unlike the ants, walking the streets of their mighty London, and looking quite busy, and the tripods themselves look very insect like, such that there is a connection being made between the idea of  invasive species, and the colonizing aliens, and that what is being done to England by the Martians, England is currently  doing to other countries, and been quite proud of themselves for it. We know the English are proud of their activities, but we don’t get any idea how the aliens feel, though. There are scenes where people touch the black globes that have dropped to Earth, and see smeary lingering images of their hands and faces, in the glossy sheen of the alien device, in a very,  “We have met the alien, and they is us.” type moment. So yeah, the show ain’t being  coy regarding its critique of British empiricism.

The setting for the various iterations is England, at the height of the British Empire, when it was engaged in the violent colonization of different countries. The English were largely brought low after WW2, (look up London Blitz), so its interesting that the first American version showed up in the fifties, (1953), when America, having won some victories during the war, (and starting to feel itself to be the shit) began engaging in its own world dominance behavior. (Before the War, America pursued an isolationist stance.) The 1953 version, (and subsequent invasion movies, like Strange Invaders, and Independence Day), were not about the humbling of America, so much as they were  America conquering some  great enemy, against all odds.. The 2005 version is a response to 9/11, where its made clear that the alien invasion is a stand-in for the terrorists, and America doesn’t triumph, so much as get lucky.

Not all alien invasion movies are violent. Some of them are enlightening, like 2001, and/or  hopeful, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This series is in the truest spirit of the book, however, which was a rebuke to British hubris.

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* https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movies/2012/06/13/Behind-the-fiction-lie-factual-themes-in-alien-movies/stories/201206130200

Once they were analogies of the Cold War or Vietnam. Sometimes the underlying theme is corporate greed, environmental destruction or fears of technology supplanting humans. The movies feed on public fear of enemies from abroad, which in today’s world, he said, could even include mortgage bankers.

Hannibal Season Three: Dolce

I know its been a while since I posted a Hannibal review. I promise I’m not neglecting what I’d said I’d do with this show, which was do in depth reviews of all three seasons, which are currently available to stream on Amazon Prime. Here’s my review of Dolce, which is episode six of season three.

In the sixth episode of this season, we see the long awaited reunion between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, and naturally, by the end of the episode, the two of them try to kill each other, because that’s just  how  they are.

Jack Crawford and Will Graham meet at Pazzi’s gruesome murder scene for the first time since last season. It turns out that this was always the plan between the two of them. We had been led to believe that Will had simply run off to be with Hannibal, but it turns out, that Will went to Europe to find him, while Jack could follow later, and by a different route, so that the two of them would not appear to be in tandem. At their meeting, Will asks Jack why he didn’t kill Hannibal, and Jack says he was saving him for Will.

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Throughout this entire series, Will has been a hound caught between two masters. Earlier in season one, Hannibal referred to Will as Jack Crawford’s  hound, and this is an apt description, because Will has the instincts of one, Lecter and Jack sent him out to do their bidding, and often fought over their possession of him. At one point Jack just comes right out and asks if Will is his man, or is he Hannibal’s, and Will had to think about that for a minute, as he neatly sidestepped that question.

When viewed from one angle, Will’s actions make no sense, but if you take into account that Jack Crawford and Hannibal represent opposing sides of who he is, and what he wants: stability, justice, and order, or mayhem, lawlessness, and the freedom to do what he will, then it is understandable why Will is torn. If Lecter is coded as a satanic figure, then Jack is God, or at least Will’s better angel, (in fact, Jack says as much to Lecter, in a later episode), and naturally, Lecter exists in opposition to all that Jack represents. Does Will want to serve, or be served? Hannibal’s power, and ability to flout authority, is intoxicating to a part of Will’s personality, and he seems to constantly be at war, not just with Hannibal, but that part of himself.

Hannibal is severely injured after his fight with Jack Crawford, and limps his way back to his quarters, where Bedelia has already crafted an excuse for her dalliance with him in Rome. She tells him she is preparing for his eventual capture, and wonders if he is drawing his enemies to him. If he, in fact, wants to be caught. One of the biggest movie tropes about serial killers is that they secretly want to be caught, because if they don’t, how can they have their egos fed by becoming famous? How can they be known if no one knows who they are?

 

In the movie Seven, the killer turns himself in to the police at the end of the movie, for this exact reason. How are people to know his grand plan and admire it, if he doesn’t get caught. There is a real life basis for this common movie trope. For example,  mass killers often leave manifestos for why they kill, because they want to be known and admired, and on occasion a serial killer has tried to insinuate themselves  into their own investigation, by contacting the detectives involved, as in the Son of Sam investigation. But largely, the idea that serial killers want to be caught, is a myth.

Gillian Anderson is excellent this episode as Bedelia. Her performance is just one of the highlights. Up to now, she has appeared to be Hannibal’s prisoner, she is with him because of the constant underlying threat that he will kill her. In a sense she is keeping her enemy close to her, because its better for her to know exactly where he is than to be free, and not know where he is, or what he’s doing, which is an issue that will come into play later in the season, between Will and Hannibal.

But Bedelia is going to need to explain to the authorities why she stayed with him, She comes up with the excuse that she was out of her mind, with the same drug cocktail Hannibal used to subdue Miriam Lass, (in season 2), so she genuinely believed herself to be Lydia Fell, the wife of the man Hannibal is impersonating, Norman Fell. Hannibal admires her cleverness, and the two of them agree to support each other’s stories.

When Hannibal leaves, Bedelia shoots up her special cocktail, and is found first by Chiyo. Bedelia seems to be one of those people who develops a semi-adversarial relationship, with everyone she meets, and Chiyoh is no exception. Probably because Bedelia is one of those characters that seemingly every TV show must have, that person who speaks uncomfortable truths to the other characters.

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Then Will and Jack encounter Bedelia, in Hannibal’s apartments, and she already has her answers ready. Jack and Will are not buying any of her story, but I can’t tell if the police inspector does. There’s definitely some kind of “frission”, or attraction, going on between the two of them. One of the more amusing scenes is watching Bedelia’s interaction with  Jack and Will. Gillian Anderson, always brings her A game to every project, she looks like she’s having a helluva lot of fun, and that entire scene is hilarious to watch, as Bedelia drunkenly slurs her way through the initial interview, and its one of the few scenes of genuine humor, in the series.

Hannibal doesn’t leave Rome. Instead he makes his way to the Uffizzi Gallery, to view Boticelli’s Primavera, which I talked about in my review of the second episode of the season, titled Primavera. For some reason he is obsessed with this panting. He had a arranged one of his murders to resemble the painting, many years ago, before he left Italy. Here we see him drawing another representation of the painting but replacing the faces of the angel, Zephpyrus, and the nymph Chloris, with the faces of Will Graham, and Bedelia, his two closest “associates”.

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Will’s unexpected presence is a source of unmitigated happiness to Hannibal, and he almost loses his chill, telling Will, in a somewhat poetic manner, how much he missed him, and how overjoyed he is to see him again, (for Hannibal, this is practically gushing), even though he had the chance to see him when the two of them were running around in the catacombs, in an earlier episode, but admittedly that was before Will, supposedly,  forgave him. The two of them leave the Gallery together, and Will, feeling some type of way again, pulls out a knife and tries to stab Hannibal. I’m unsure if he was trying to incapacitate him, to capture him, or if the stabbing was revenge for Hannibal stabbing him last season, or just general assholery on Will’s part. Chiyo, sitting on a nearby roof, shoots Will through the shoulder. Since she only kills under the most dire of circumstances, as she did in Lithuania, she would not have killed Will, but she would not allow him to harm Hannibal, either.

Hannibal is, naturally, completely unperturbed by Will trying to kill him, because what’s a little homicide among friends?. He takes Will back to some rented rooms, and minsters to his woulds, before deciding (and I don’t know if this is revenge for Will trying to kill him, or general asssholery on his part), to eat Will’s brain. Notice how he takes the opportunity ,while dressing Will’s wounds, to give him a warm hug, since Will is in far too much pain to fight back, or try to stab him again.

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Now, let’s be clear here, Hannibal does love Will, but he still wants to eat him.  He wants to be with Will, but Will is still dangerous to him. One of the many philosophies behind human cannibalism (outside of desperation) is the idea that eating someone is a way of keeping that person close, so that they can never leave. This was the motivation behind the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Either that, or he believes he will gain Will’s power and energy through consumption. Normally Hannibal’s reasons for eating others is because he has nothing but contempt for them, so treats them like food.

In the meantime, the police have allowed Jack Crawford to leave, urging him to go back to America, which, of course, Jack doesn’t do. How he manages to find Will and Hannibal is carefully not mentioned, but in a funny moment he encounters Chiyo in the elevator of Hannibal’s building. She either knows who he is, or senses he is a cop, or is just generally cagey, but she manages to avoid his, too close,  attention, although they each sneak suspicious glances at the other.

This entire time we keep switching back and forth between Italy and America where Mason, Alana, and Margot, have been plotting to capture Hannibal, so that Mason can cook and eat him. Alana’s and Margot’s relationship is revealed in this episode, along with Mason’s plans to have a Verger baby with his sister, to be carried by Alana.

We’ll talk more about that particular trio in the next post.

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Jack makes his way to Hannibal’s rented apartments, (I’m unclear how he found them, but he was following Will, at the time). Jack gets there, not just in time to watch Hannibal begin his meal of Will Graham, but to be ambushed by Hannibal,  taken prisoner, and made to watch the ordeal, which he vehemently protests, to no avail. Will’s face gets attacked a to this season, for some reason. I think somewhere in there is a statement about the actors prettiness. He is  more attractive than previous actors who played Will Graham, who looked a little more  like Will’s  working class roots.

Hannibal’s feast is interrupted by the Florentine police, who found the apartment by following Jack, in the hope that Jack (and Will) would lead them to Hannibal, having been suspicious of Jack’s motivations, for visiting their city, right from the beginning. They are still in the employ of Mason Verger actually, and they kidnap Will and Hannibal, and send them to the Verger’s Muskrat Farm, for the reward money. They attempt to kill Jack, but Chiyoh, hiding out on a nearby rooftop, assassinates them. Jack is freed by Chiyoh, after arguing that he just wants to go home, and in exchange for telling her where Will and Lecter were taken.Can I just add that Chiyoh is a total bad ass who is not to be trifled with, and that she really should have just had her own show?

Will and Lecter are taken to Muskrat Farm, and trussed like prized birds, while Mason gloats over his victory.

One of the things we haven’t talked about much in the series is the subject of Classism. Particularly the class differences between Will and Hannibal, and Hannibal and everyone else. Its especially important considering Hannibal’s philosophy about  the people he kills, and his attitude towards Will. One of Hannibal’s guiding philosophies is to “Eat the Rude.” so we get lots of instances where Hannibal kills and consumes people he believes were disrespectful to him. And not just to him, he kills and eats one of Abigail Hobbes friends, after seeing her be rude to her own mother.

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I am a firm believer that at least part of Hannibal’s motivations for killing and consuming his victims is because of class prejudice. Hannibal’s family was once Lithuanian nobility, and while it may not be a major factor, I certainly think it  informs his feeling of entitlement to respect. he doesn’t feel he needs to earn respect. He thinks he should be given respect by dint of having been born, and all beings should recognize his inherent superiority. When looked at from this standpoint, it is unsurprising that Hannibal would kill (and even eat) those he considered less than, because that is entirely in keeping, with the proletariat philosophy, that the wealthy are parasites, who prey on society.

Next episode however, the tables have been turned, as Hannibal is the one about to be eaten. Mason Verger has Hannibal exactly where he wants him, to exact his revenge for what Hannibal did to him, over a year ago. Unfortunately he has captured Will as well, and we’ll find out just how far Hannibal is willing to go to save them both from an ironic fate.

 

100th Anniversary: Red Summer of 1919.

Interestingly, the Red Summer of 1919 happened to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ships, from West Africa, to America. This has been chronicled in this year’s 1619 Project.
(There is also a PDF version for those who do not wish to subscribe to the NY Times.)
Two days after Thanksgiving this was posted on Twitter, by historian David Neiwert, in reference to the first episode of the Watchmen television series.  This is pretty long for a series of tweets, but the entire post has been collected at Tweet Threads.
Black people were not the only ones to suffer through this kind of behavior from Whites, Native Americans did as well. And yes, I still maintain that these were not riots.
This was ethnic cleansing!
This is what is meant when we discuss White people’s nostalgia for the past, or what Maga Hat wearing ignoramuses talk about when saying Make America Great Again. This is also what is meant by anyone you hear talking about starting a race war. They don’t want a war, because in a war they would have skin in the game, and be  as susceptible to being killed as their victims. What they want, is  the freedom to  massacre Black people again, without any consequences. We must face the idea that there are  sections of White America who are gleefully, and cheerfully bloodthirsty, when it comes to the destruction of Black lives, and they always have been.
Racial terrorism and expulsion, by Whites,  is at least one of the  explanations for why Blacks migrated out of rural areas, and primarily live in cities, today. My own family (grandmother) left the rural south, in the 1950’s, to live in the Northeast. Not that these so-called “race riots” didn’t occur in large cities, they were just less likely.
Pay close attention to the actions of law enforcement, in this thread, as well. In some cases, not only did the police do nothing to prevent the violence, but in many cases, they actually aided and abetted the attackers. What is surprising are the times law enforcement  sought to protect their charges, from White mobs, and spirit them to safety. Pay attention to the  White women who  took advantage of these situations, to express their racial resentment, or get out of trouble themselves, by accusing black men of disrespecting them, or some other specious crime, knowing those men would be killed. White women have never been innocent of participation in anti-Black violence.
 Black people didn’t take this sitting down, (which is why I take offense at statements like “We are not our grandparents.). Blacks organized and fought back, using not just guns, but popular opinion, via the use of media.
This is why representation is so important. Damon Lindhelof had an incredible platform from which he could showcase this country’s history, and took full advantage of that, thereby continuing a dialogue that was introduced  by Ta’nehisi Coates, in his landmark article: The Case For Reparations.

* It was really hard to finish this thread, as it’s incredibly graphic, harrowing, terrifying, and infuriating. And since I know something about this topic, I know it still doesn’t completely cover some of the other, even worse, atrocities committed against Black bodies, during lynching. (Some people kept souvenirs of certain  body parts.)

 

In many cases this form of terrorism, for that is indeed what it was, lasted for several days, and consisted of thousands of Whites, and the  summary expulsion of the Black population, in that area.

 

I appreciated the fact that Neiwert sugarcoats none of it.

(Warning: This thread contains graphic images of human suffering.)

Nov 27th 2019, (152 tweets, 59 min read)

1) This year, 2019, marks an important centennial anniversary in America—but it is one that not only are we not celebrating, it’s also a significant moment most of us aren’t even aware of: the 100th anniversary of the Red Summer of 1919.

 

2) Warning: This is an extremely long 150-tweet thread. It contains some violent images involving lynching, generally held to a minimum. The text is horrifying. It’s a history lesson—and not one for the faint of heart. You can decide if the subject warrants the unusual length.
3) There are reasons we do not commemorate the events of those months. Nearly all of them have to do with the deep shame that lingers for one of the darkest, most violent moments in American history—not to mention the monstrousness it reveals.
4) Yet the truth is that the summer of 1919 was one of the most momentous in our history, and NEEDS to be remembered, because it forever and irrevocably altered the face of the American landscape, shaping our demographics in ways that remain with us today.
5) The American public recently received a little taste of this deliberately hidden corner of history when the debut episode of the new HBO series Watchmen opened with a flashback to a child’s-eye view of the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

Read the rest here:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1199779549803794432.html

Highlights:
9) These events were in many ways the fevered culmination of the long campaign after the Civil War to reverse its outcome by putting the now-freed slaves into a continued state of submission by other means—violent ones.
11) Between 1870 and 1930, literally thousands of black people were summarily executed by their white neighbors, most often for the crime of being somehow “uppity”—that is, a threat to their own social status in one way or another.
17) Later studies have found that actual black criminality was only occasionally the actual cause of lynchings. Far more often, black people were lynched for being _too_ successful by white standards. Economic jealousy fueled many a lynching. 
19)…And it is history that most white people are utterly, blithely, happily ignorant about. That has to end. 
35) Eventually, the presence of a violent, rampaging mob meant that not only did the singular lynchings grow into multiple-lynching events, they also turned into burning, pillaging, and mass murder. The euphemism “race riots” hid the reality: these were ethnic-cleansing events.
40) Black vets, especially in ’18, were a direct challenge to the tenets of white supremacy that held that only white men were capable of higher thought and bravery and capability. So they were targeted for lynching with a particular urgency and venom.
98) The events of Red Summer are important to remember in part because they are representative of the kind of horror that lies within the history of being black in America, a horror most white Americans little understand or appreciate, reinforced by their often willful ignorance. 
99) However, these events all were noteworthy in another important regard: They represented the first time that black communities organized and resisted this violence, with varying degrees of success. But the pushback was just beginning, and eventually turned the tide.
128) The mechanics of how this happened can be observed by looking at what happened to America demographically due to these “race riots.” Essentially, black Americans were driven out of rural America and forced into racially and economically segregated urban neighborhoods. 
129) Loewen’s _Sundown Towns_ is an essential text for understanding how this occurred. As he noted in describing the contagious effects of mob violence, the end result of most of this ethnic cleansing was to make whole swaths of America uniformly white.
139) Black people, quite understandably, want to look away from this because it’s a painful reminder of everything bad about America in their lives. White people, on the other hand, use the ensuing silence as their own excuse to look away too. Deliberate ignorance is the result. 
140) That ignorance is what prompts so many whites to react defensively to the simple plea contained in the slogan Black Lives Matter. No, you twits, they’re not saying _only_ black lives matter. They’re saying _black lives don’t matter to white people, and they need to._ 
145) After all, it should be obvious that black people have a multitude of reasons to believe that their lives do not matter to white people, from the depths of history to the modern record of easy police disposal of their lives.
And Finally:
146) Knowing the history of Red Summer—especially for white folks—ultimately isn’t about self-flagellation, white guilt, or political correctness. It’s about reality and truth and coming to terms with our own history.

SCP: Special Containment Procedures

 Hi! Welcome to my new obsession!

The shared world of SCP has been around for about ten years now, but I’m just now hearing about it, and I’m kinda mad about that. SCP is a shared world anthology series, not unlike Wikipedia, about an organization somewhat like the Men in Black, that does all of the above for paranormal events, people, places, monsters, objects, and any other things that may potentially harm humanity, are just plain weird, or anomalous.

SCP is old enough  that you can spend weeks reading about the different events, protocols, and monsters of this universe, some of which are truly terrifying, some of which are deeply funny, and some of which are just cute. Anyone can contribute (once you’ve done your research) usually in the form of stories about the organization’s encounters with the weird, dangerous, and/or paranormal. Strictly speaking, there isn’t any canon, and writers are free to reference other characters, events, and  monsters in their own works. Some of these works take the form of personal narratives, fictional stories, biographies, and internal memos of the various anomolies.

For those of you have a little trouble with the written word, there is a huge trough of videos about SCP on YouTube, some of which are audio versions  of  the more famous and popular encounters, some are examinations of various creatures, and artifacts, and explorations of events and places.

For a quick rundown of the past ten years, including stories about experiments, first encounters, and biographies of the hundreds of creatures, beings, places, artifacts, and events, you can visit the following Wiki:

SCP Foundation

 

What is the SCP Foundation?

Most of the things featured, in this shared world, are about monsters, (and y’all know I love monsters), but there are also quite a number of benign objects, and a few downright cute ones, which are often classified not just according to their level of danger to humanity, but how much, or how little, procedure is involved in containing them.

I spent the entire weekend watching videos about the different creatures, places, and events of the SCP, from the funniest (a company that that will get a regular, plain, ol’ llama out to you immediately, no matter where in the world you are), to the most terrifying, ( a god-like creature, that is  set to destroy the world, after the breaking of seven chains, six of which have already broken), to the cutest, (a small orange blob that loves to be tickled, and might be the savior of humanity! ), to just the oddball, (a vending machine that can dispense almost any beverage that can be imagined, a shower curtain that kills you with your worst fear, and a company that specializes in selling dinosaur meat.)

 

There are a number of different  “object” classes, and the site is also used as a guide, for writers who wish to contribute to this shared world experience:

Safe

Safe-class SCPs are anomalies that are easily and safely contained. This is often due to the fact that the Foundation has researched the SCP well enough that containment does not require significant resources or that the anomalies require a specific and conscious activation or trigger. Classifying an SCP as Safe, however, does not mean that handling or activating it does not pose a threat.

For a complete list of Safe-class articles on the site, click here.

Euclid

Euclid-class SCPs are anomalies that require more resources to contain completely or where containment isn’t always reliable. Usually this is because the SCP is insufficiently understood or inherently unpredictable. Euclid is the Object Class with the greatest scope, and it’s usually a safe bet that an SCP will be this class if it doesn’t easily fall into any of the other standard Object Classes.

As a note, any SCP that’s autonomoussentient and/or sapient is generally classified as Euclid, due to the inherent unpredictability of an object that can act or think on its own.

For a complete list of Euclid-class articles on the site, click here.

Keter

Keter-class SCPs are anomalies that are exceedingly difficult to contain consistently or reliably, with containment procedures often being extensive and complex. The Foundation often can’t contain these SCPs well due to not having a solid understanding of the anomaly, or lacking the technology to properly contain or counter it. A Keter SCP does not mean the SCP is dangerous, just that it is simply very difficult or costly to contain.

For a complete list of Keter-class articles on the site, click here.

Thaumiel

Thaumiel-class SCPs are anomalies that the Foundation specifically uses to contain other SCPs. Even the mere existence of Thaumiel-class objects is classified at the highest levels of the Foundation and their locations, functions, and current status are known to few Foundation personnel outside of the O5 Council.

 

Most of the contained creatures and artifacts do not have names, only numbers, but same have both. Some of the more famous SCPs are The Shy Guy, The Flesh That Hates, and The Blood Pool, which are some of the more horrific “things” the organization keeps a watch over.

 

The  top five most terrifying SCP encounters:

 

There are also a number of security clearance levels with D and E being the lowest.

Class D personnel are expendable personnel used to handle extremely hazardous anomalies and are not allowed to come into contact with Class A or Class B personnel. Class D personnel are typically drawn worldwide from the ranks of prison inmates convicted of violent crimes, especially those on death row. In times of duress, Protocol 12 may be enacted, which allows recruitment from other sources — such as political prisoners, refugee populations, and other civilian sources — that can be transferred into Foundation custody under plausibly deniable circumstances. Class D personnel are to be given regular mandatory psychiatric evaluations and are to be administered an amnestic of at least Class B strength or terminated at the end of the month at the discretion of on-site security or medical staff. In the event of a catastrophic site event, Class D personnel are to be terminated immediately except as deemed necessary by on-site security personnel.

 

There are a few channels on YouTube that explore and chronicle these creatures and events. For those of you who are not interested in being scared, there’s something here for you too, as there are a number of deeply funny SCPs out there. There are several different classes of SCP. The less strange and horrible ones are  classified as SAFE. If you’re not a fan of horror, try to steer clear of anything labeled Keter, or Euclid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Movie Trailers (November 2019)

 

Birds of Prey 

Well, I like the trailer for this, but then again I liked the trailer for Suicide Squad, and everyone hated that movie, (while I happen to like Suicide Squad, one of only five human beings to ever make such an outrageous claim). I have developed an appreciation for Margot Robbie, one of only a very small handful of White actresses whose work I actually seek out, and whose career I’m following. I really liked her in I, Tonya, and Mary Queen of Scots.

 

 

Call of the Wild

I read this book a lot when I was a teenager, and can probably credit it for sparking my strange fascination with the Arctic. I also think it was because I just loved dogs, and always imagined Buck  as my dog. I will not go see this in the theater, but I hope it does well, so that Hollywood will get the idea that classic stories, done well, can still do well at the box office.

 

 

Bloodshot

I’m kind of fond of the books on which this movie is based because, for some reason, I’m fascinated with nanotechnology going bad. I blame Greg Bear’s Blood Music. I’m not sure about this movie’s lackluster plot, or the fact that it stars Vin diesel. I don’t hate Vin Diesel. I actually like the guy, but he’s not an especially good actor, and I don’t know if  I want to watch him try to emote for two hours. I really have to be in a certain mood for that kind of thing, since one only needs a little bit of Vin Diesel, at any given time.

On the other hand, the books are great, if you’re a fan of adventure science fiction books, which are really just thinly veiled cover stories of superhero novels.

 

 

 

Fantasy Island

I liked the TV show this is based on, which aired from 1977 to 1984,  and if you have not watched those, I’m sure they can be streamed somewhere. Its a sappy, and sometimes very cheesy show, which rarely got above a level three on the fright-o-meter, but I remember watching it a lot with my mom, who had a crush on Ricardo Montalban. This looks interesting, despite the fact that it heavily reminds me of that failed revival, that happened in the late 90’s.

 

 

 

 

Invisible Man

Yeah, I’m not gonna go see this. I think I’ve had enough Invisible Man horror movies to last a few lifetimes. I think invisibility is probably a fairly useless superpower anyway, since one can only really get up to mischief with it.

 

 

The Irishman

I plan to watch this. I don’t normally watch gangster movies, but it has an all star cast, and marks Scorcese’s first foray into made for TV movies. Despite what Scorcese said about superhero movies, and the fact that he seems ot have staked out this gangster drama genre, I still love his work, and I don’t have to pay extra to see it in a theater, which is cool. We’ll see how good it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New TV Trailers (November 2019)

Per my usual announcement, whenever I make these posts, some of these I’m excited for, and some a little less so, but I hope to be able to watch most of them.

 

Doctor Who Series Twelve (2020)

I really enjoyed having a lady Doctor, mostly because she heavily reminds me of a cross between David Tennant, and Peter Capaldi ,and I’m not sure if that’s on purpose. I could have done without a few of the episodes, in that the writing, and story, wasn’t the best on at least a couple of them, but there were at least a couple that stood out too, and since we have a new crop of writers this season, I’m looking forward to what they’re going to do. At least the trailer looks exciting.

 

 

 

 

Antelbellum (2020)

No one knows anything about this show, movie, or whatever. I’m intrigued by the trailer though, and I really like Janelle Monae, so I’m going to check it out. Jordan Peele is one of the producers on this, so it should be an interesting story, even though I generally try to avoid slave narratives, because I’m really, really, tired of them. However, if someone has a clever way of approaching it, I’m willing to give it a try..

 

 

Hunters (12.15)

This airs on Amazon Prime next month, and I’m looking forward to it. Its about a clandestine group of Nazi hunters, and its set in one of my favorite fashion decades, the seventies.

 

 

 

 

V Wars (12.5)

I don’t know what to think or feel about this show. I want to like it, but I’m not a fan of the lead character, and TV has messed up too many vampire shows for me to feel at all confident about this one. I have read some of the books this is based on, and I wonder how closely the show will follow them, which chronicles a breakout of vampirism in America, and it will destroy society, unless humanity wipes it out. I’m not a huge fan of the book series, either, mostly because I didn’t like the writing style. I want to like this though, and I’m going to give it a try.

 

 

 

Lincoln (1.10.20)

For some reason, I was really excited about seeing this. I do not normally seek out cop and detective shows, but I like the books this character is based on, and I liked the movie, which starred Denzel Washington. Some things I’m just not attracted to but if it has an interesting twist, has a diverse cast, or an actor I’m especially fond of, I’ll at least try it.

 

 

 

 

The Outsider (1.12.20)

This is another show based on a Stephen King novel, called The Outsider. I liked the book okay, although I don’t think it’s one King’s best. It did keep me intrigued, though. If you haven’t read the book, I’m not going to give away one of the plot details, on which the initial mystery is based,  which is classic  King, however. Also, if you are a fan of Holly, from the Finders Keepers series, she is one of the major characters in the book, which almost counts as a standalone adventure for her.

 

 

 

The Neighbor (12.31)

Okay, this looks and sounds almost exactly like the plot of the 80s show, Greatest American Hero, which starred William Katt, in which an alien crashes to Earth, and gives  special artifact to some nobody who happened to be close to the crash, which gives him superpowers, which he then has to navigate without any instructions. I’m not especially excited about it, but the trailer looks really cute, and its on Netflix, so it will be easy to check it out.

 

 

 

A Christmas Carol (12.19)

Every couple of years someone has to make a new version of Dicken’s classic Christmas story, and quite frankly, even  I’m not immune to a sappy, holiday story about the redemption of an asshole. I used to read this book every year, and I’ve missed a few, so its probably time to break it out of the mothballs in my closet, and read it again.

 

October Viewing List II

Supernatural

The final season has begun, I already wrote a short review on my other site. Check it out!

 

Little Monsters

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i am of two minds about this movie. On  the one hand, I hated, hated, hated, the lead character, Dave, who, while not as vile as trump, could definitely give him a run for his money, in the stupid, juvenile delinquent, category. Dave is a vile, foul mouthed, washed-up musician, and asshole, who is irresponsible with kids and himself, does not know how to behave like an adult,  and lies, and steals without compunction. He changes his entire outlook however, when he sees Miss Caroline, his nephew’s grade school teacher, who is, very probably, the greatest ray of sunshine to ever grace a zombie movie. I loved her. Everyone loves her.

On the other hand, hating Dave was not enough for me to quit watching this movie, because Lupita is the best thing in it, its actually pretty funny, and there’s plenty of zombies, gore, and cussin’.

Some serious shenanigans have been going on at a military base in the English countryside, and some zombies get loose, and head over to a nearby children’s amusement park, that Lupita and her class happened to be visiting that day. Yes, the children are in some danger of being eaten by the zombies, but its really not that type of film, as most of the tension comes from Miss Caroline, trying desperately to protect the children from any emotional trauma, that might come of the zombie outbreak.

To that end, Miss Caroline’s charm is turned up to fifteen, as she sings and dances her way through the zombie apocalypse, with her little banjo. The children adore her, and she manages to be successful, not just at saving the children, but winning Dave’s heart, as he attempts to become the type of man who is worthy of her attention, rather than the asshole he’s always been. So even though I hated Dave, this movie isn’t about him manipulating her into falling in love with him. Its about the redemption of a cad, as he understands that the only way to win the love of a woman as magnificent as  Miss Caroline, is to first realize he is not worthy of her as he is, and then to become a different person.

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I feel some type of way about Dave winning the girl at the end of the movie, especially when he is set up at the beginning of the movie as such a hateful piece of shit. (No, truly, for the first twenty minutes of this movie, I just wanted to set Dave’s sorry ass on fire.) When he first meets Caroline, he tries the usual lying bullcrap he has always used to manipulate women into giving him a pass, including his own sister. He is not successful at this because none of that works on Miss Caroline. She is completely immune to it. He’s gotta try something new, if he hopes to win her,  so he pretends to be a worthy person, and in the process, actually becomes a worthy person.

But I suppose the purpose in showing Dave to be such an awful person, is to show the redemptive power of Miss Caroline. One of the most interesting things about the plot is Miss Caroline is not trying to save Dave, or turn him good. She expects that he is already a good man, and simply treats him as if he is. Miss Caroline tells him that she is a Christian woman, who believes fervently in her job, loves children, and does not like cursing. She is not preachy about this. She simply behaves in a Christian manner, and I like that she is not a stereotype of a Christian, as she really is as wholesome as she appears. She loves her kids, loves her job, and will brave any danger to save her kids from harm, which she does, when she fights off a hoard of zombies, to retrieve one of her kid’s  inhalers. She is also tough as fucking nails,  because she is perfectly willing to stab one of her companions in the gut, when he makes himself a danger to her kids, and won’t stop cursing at them. He is supposed to be a role model for the children, and dammit, he’s gonna act like one!

This is the introduction of Mr. McGiggles, one of the entertainers at the park, who s every bit as awful, and foul mouthed as Dave, but since Dave is trying to mend his ways  to impress Caroline, we need a a new foil, to contrast what Dave is no longer trying to be. So McGiggles takes Dave’s place, as the unrepentant foul mouth, in the script, as Dave starts becoming a better person.

So yes, this movie is quite a journey for its characters. Dave finds himself wiling to do anything, and be anything, to live up to Miss Caroline’s example of bright humanity, and I suppose that’s a good thing, because it works. He makes a genuine change to be worthy of her love, and I’m okay with that, I guess, but getting through the first twenty minutes of this movie was really hard.

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Little Monsters is available on Hulu. I plan to watch this one again, when I can find the time.

 

 

Evil

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Here’s another show with religious themes and characters. I did not plan this. This is just sort of how it turned out, because I had no plans to watch this show, not because it wasn’t on my radar, but because I was not particularly interested. Its not a bad show, and I am probably going to watch more episodes of this, because it turned out to not be exactly what I thought it would be.

Now, I’ve only seen one episode, which was medium dark, and definitely had some tense moments in it, but not for the reasons you might think. I haven’t gotten the character names down yet either, so I looked those up. The horror springs from the character decisions, and  that you either know more, or less, than the characters in the show.

Dr. Bouchard is a forensic psychologist, who teams up with Mike Colter’s character, Father Acosta, along with a contractor played by Aasif Mandvi, who I really like, to investigate supernatural incidents. Dr. Bouchard’s job is to determine whether or not a supernatural event occurred, and Mandvi’s job is handling the technical equipment involved, if an incident occurs, so as to document Father Acosta’s claims to the church, when he requests  assistance.

In the episode I watched, a family claims that their little boy is possessed by an evil spirit of some kind. The episode follows as Bouchard and Acosta determine whether or not that’s true. Bouchard conducts therapy sessions with the little boy, which are actually pretty chilling, and Acosta manages to form a connection to the little boy, and actually  encourages him to begin prayer. When the boy attempts to drown his baby sister (Acosta saves the baby’s life with cpr), Bouchard and Acosta manage to convince his superiors that an exorcism is needed. We do not get the cliched exorcism scenes, because the parents of the little boy take matters into their own hands, so yeah, I didn’t see that end coming, at all.

At the same time, there is a secondary story involving Bouchard’s family. She has four little girls, who miss their absent father. She has been lying to the girls about where their father is. Either he is dead, or he left her, but the four girls, all of whom are really cute, believe that he is a expedition guide at Mt Everest. At the same time, her mother has given the little girls some VR toys with an odd Halloween type game the girls have been playing, that starts to take on an odd prominence in the lives of the two oldest girls.

The game starts to become more and more real, and the creature from the Halloween game (in the form of a little girl) starts to bleed into the other games, convincing the little girls to perform a seance with a virtual Ouija Board, and summon some type of virtual demon. Now, this all occurs within the game, but its still pretty frightening, because the only adult who suspects anything out of order is Mandvi, who hacks the game to put parental controls on it. Parental controls that don’t work, as the girl from the game simply invades the other games on the device. Bouchard  is a skeptic who finds that something supernatural might possibly be occurring right under her nose, in her own house. For me, this was the most frightening part of the show. ‘

One of the reasons, I was ignoring this is, I thought the show would simply be a retread of The X-Files, because Bouchard is a skeptic, and it’s Acosta’s job to believe, but the dynamic here is completely different. For one thing, it’s unlikely that there will be a “will they/won’t they”, dynamic between the two, and also because Bouchard is still possibly married, or just divorced or something. Mandvi, although I really like him, seems to be a kind of third wheel. I actually liked all the characters, though. I’m not a religious person, but I did like Acosta’s quiet faith, and I like that he’s not written as a stereotype of religious fanaticism. I like that he is Black, and a Catholic priest, because those are rare in American Pop Culture, with most Black people being associated with the Protestant religions.

The first thing that intrigues me about a show is often its premise, and I wasn’t too wowed by this one, but once I actually watch an episode of something, what keeps my butt in the seat is the characters, and these characters were intriguing enough that I’m going to watch some more episodes. I at least need to find out what happened to the doctor’s husband, why she is secretly crying in her kitchen, and when she is going to share this information with her daughters. I also need to know when or if her daughters are going to tell her that they conjured a demon into the house, through the VR that was gifted to them, by their grandma.

 

 

Watchmen

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I was not particularly enthusiastic about watching this, mostly because the movie was merely so-so for me.  I told y’all before that I didn’t find my way to comic book geekery through the usual White guy channels. I sort of meandered around, putting together my own foundation, via Horror, and Science Fiction. What that means is, I did not read the Watchmen comic books, when they were first published, although I was the right age for it, and by the time I got around to reading the books, I had already read other books by  Alan Moore that I thought were more impressive, like Swamp Thing, and Miracle Man.

So,  I was unimpressed with the movie, beyond liking the special effects, and Dr. Manhattan, and I didn’t think I was going to be into the TV series either, especially since it was written by Damon Lindhelof, because I’m still mad at him for Prometheus. But, nevertheless, I watched the first episode.

I have to warn you the first fifteen minutes are harrowing, as it deals with the Tulsa Race Massacre (because that is indeed what it was) of 1921. This is a real event, I first read about, when I was a teenager, (naturally, it was never something studied in school. I was one of those kids who, after a while,  my teachers just left alone to make up my  own curriculum.) There were a bunch of these “Race War” massacres  throughout the history of the US, like Ocoee Florida, Rosewood, Tulsa Oklahoma, and the Red Summer of 1919, and most people will not have learned about them in school. Needless to say, when you hear some yahoo going on about how there needs to be a Race War, what he really means is that he would like the opportunity to massacre some PoC again.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Summer

Genocide of the California Indians

The lynching era (1878–1939)

You have to know a little bit about these events to understand something about the alternative universe in which this story takes place. Guns for example are outlawed (even the police need special permission from their superior officers, which is some dude wearing a Panda mask, before using lethal force). There is also an offshoot of the KKK, now called by some other name, and using the Rorschach mask, along with his talking points, thanks to the diary that was mailed to the media, after Dr. Manhattan killed him.

In our world, the police and the KKK clashed in Tulsa, and the KKK won, but in that universe, they lost, and The Reconstruction after the Civil War continued, in which Black people got political power, and the police have been fighting a decades long battle with these KKK offshoots. The police now need to wear masks to protect their identities, and families. In this universe, the police are the good guys, who are besieged by that world’s version of the Alt-Right, and some of these things are  fallout from the events that happened in the comic books, which were set in the 80’s.

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So, Dr. Manhattan still exists, and lives in exile on Mars, Ozymandias is supposedly  dead, (but I don’t think so), and because of the events he engineered in the book, involving a giant squid attacking  Earth, we get regular squid falls, for which cities need sirens to warn people. Quite frankly, I was more weirded out by the  squid rain, than anything else shown in the episode, because that’s just funky. My mind kept going back to the logistics of regular falls of squid. How to clean that up? Does it smell real bad? This is actually relevant to the rest of the season’s plot though, as it involves alternate dimensions, (which is where the squid come from), and  time travel.

The presidents of this world, often have consecutive, multiple runs, in political office. Robert Redford is the president in this universe, and has been for almost thirty years, where he has instituted reparations to the survivors of  the massacre in Tulsa, called Red-forations. Silk Spectre  is still alive, and played by Jean Smart. Vietnam is the fifty first state, ( as a result of Dr. Manhattan’s invasion during that war),  and Louis Gossett Jr. plays a man named Will Reeves, one of the few survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre, now an old, and  disabled, man. That’s not even most of the weird shit in this show, like a character, named Looking Glass who, when he puts his silver mask on, can tell when people are lying!

An interesting note is that Will Reeves was watching a movie about the real life Bass Reeves, who was the first Black Deputy Marshall, and the character upon which the Lone Ranger was based. The movie he is watching was in the style of the Lone Ranger TV series of this universe, only it has the actual Black character in it. Another interesting theme is the recurring Oklahoma musical. One of the characters loves the play, and we get some songs, and even a little snippet of the movie, which stars an all Black cast in that universe. So the racial and sexism issues, that exist in this universe, didn’t  happen in that one, at least not in the same way, and the US looks fully integrated with Black TV shows, and Pop culture, which everyone just watches, and its no big deal, and that, too,  is probably part of the fallout of what happened in Tulsa.

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Regina King is Sister Night, a former cop, (and bakery owner), from Vietnam, who gets called back into action by some friends on the local police force, after a cop gets murdered by a member of an organization the cops thought might have been extinct. Most of the episode is just introducing us to this weird universe, and these characters, so outside of that intense opening, things calm down to the end, when Sister finds her mentor, from the police force, has been lynched, and Will Reeves is there, impossibly claiming to have done the deed. So yeah, I’m  already intrigued by the mystery of who he is, why he may or may not have done this, and what was the  secret, that got her mentor lynched. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, even though I, initially, had no concrete plans to watch it.

 

*  _____________________________________ *

 

So, I’m in the process of cutting the cord, as we say in the US, and I no longer have access to these shows on TV.  I’ll just have to try to remember when they air, and catch them on their apps. The Watchmen airs on HBO, every Sunday night, and I’ll just have to remember that, and watch it later in the week, so my timing on some shows is going to be a bit off, as far as reviews, but what I can do, is finish off some of my long form posts, and review the season finales, when they occur.

I’m also going to post some articles to Medium. com, (which will not be posted here, but I’ll let you know when I do), so head over there, if you can, follow me, and give me some claps. I think we get paid there, according to how many people like your writing. I’ve managed to amass quite a following, which always surprises, and delights me, since I  don’t really think of writing as a way to be liked. I write because I have a lot of thoughts in my head, and I’m shit at keeping a journal.

But hey! I will be surprised and delighted if you guys also follow me on Medium, where I intend to do, at least, one post a month.

 

The Baddest Bad-Ass Females In Horror

Here are ten of my favorite horror movie females, and why:

Annie Wilkes –  Misery

I read this book when I was a teenager, and I was mostly unimpressed by it, but Kathy Bates knocked this character out of the park, in the movie. Think of Annie as a rather unhinged version of Dolores Umbridge long before Harry Potter existed. I love characters that have these sweet temperaments on the surface, but are willing to commit to horrific acts of violence when they don’t get their way. There are a lot of male characters like that all over film, (usually serial killers), but female characters who do that are kind of rare, and worth noting.

I had a choice between Sue Ann from Ma, and this character, but I chose this one because she came first, and that leg hammering scene was the most hardcore shit I’ve ever seen a female character commit on a movie screen. She is the poster child for keeping your fanship in fucking perspective, and never letting it get out of hand. You define what your fandom is going to be. You don’t let your fandom define you.

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Samara –  The Ring

What I like, (for lack of a better word), about this character is she is just evil to be fucking evil. Yes, she was drowned by her mother or something, in a well, but what’s bad ass about her is there is no appeasing of this character. You can’t find her body and lay her to rest. She’s not angry because her murderers got away, or any of the usual reasons for ghostly activity. She ‘s just bad, to be bad. There’s just shit all you can do to save yourself from her, and that’s simply terrifying.

The lead character does everything she can to avert Samaras wrath, and the deaths of her loved ones, by investigating Samara’s crimes, and trying to find her, and get justice for her, but to no avail. You can’t do anything to make her happy. She is just bad. Samara is an example of how we should sometimes just “Let it go, already!”

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Carrie White – Carrie

Although the story is tragic, I still see Carrie as a revenge fantasy for teenage girls. I can’t think of a single teenage girl who didn’t like this character, or have her resonate with them, somehow. Stephen King says she was based on a young woman he knew in high school, who was something of an underdog. She tried to get out from under it, to be more popular, dress better, or be more fun, but ultimately she couldn’t, and King saw that and wondered about what her life was like, and her story just stuck with him.

Despite that there have been several movies made about this character, two in the theater, and one on TV, her story, from the book, has still not been adequately captured. Carrie is the ultimate bad-ass of feminine vengeance. In the book, she destroys thousands of lives and burns down an entire town. I think there’d be an audience for this,  if it were made with an actual budget, because the full scope of Carrie’s abilities has never actually been shown.

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Eli  –  Let the Right One In

Eli is one of the few child vampires in cinema, and I would argue its a fairly accurate depiction of the life, in that she seems entirely plausible. A child vampire would need a caretaker, someone to act as a parent. They wouldn’t be able to go to school really, since they don’t age, and even if they did, they couldn’t remain in one place for more than a couple of years at a time.

In the novel, Eli simply says she’s been twelve for a very long time, so she is not a grownup in child’s body. Her brain simply never develops into adulthood at all, which sounds absolutely horrifying. She simply remembers being a child for a very long time, and never develops mature thinking, at all.

Eli is also a total bad ass. At the end of the movie, she comes to the defense of her child friend, when he is being tormented by bullies. What happens to them occurs off screen, but its still an incredibly effective scene. She has all of a child’s terrifying rage and intensity in a fight, coupled with the speed and strength of a vampire.

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Katrina –  Vamp

Katrina was the first Black vampire I’d ever seen. I’d read about a couple of them, but I can’t think of anyone more likely to play a vampire,  than Grace Jones, who was my idol at the time she played this character, waaay back in the eighties, who says not one word throughout the entire movie, and still manages to get the last word right before she dies!

Grace Jones was important to me not just because I happened to be the right age for it, but she was of my time. Not someone my mother, or aunts, or grandmother admired. I chose her. She was an example of the kind of woman I wanted to be at sixteen, laughing, and beautiful, and fearless, in a way I just wasn’t. She was a dark skinned supermodel at a time when there were none who looked like her. She was an action star when there were no black female action stars. And she dated some of the hottest men of that era including Adam Ant, and Dolph Lundgren.

Later, the great Aaliyah, and Eddie Murphy himself, would follow in Jones footsteps, proving , yet again, that African vampires could put their shit down, and compete with any European Vampire. Katrina rips out throats and hearts, and still manages to find time for her night job, dancing in, and running, a vampire strip club. She was the highlight of the movie, and really the only reason anyone remembers this, still rather obscure, 80s vampire comedy.

 

 

 

The Alien Queen – Aliens

Normally The Queen would qualify as the baddest of the bad, except she was defeated by Ripley. I mean, she had a good thing going there, with lots of warm bodies for her eggs, obedient kids, and plenty of food, and it was all ruined. She is every bit as bad as she believes she is, when going  toe to toe with the power loader wearing human, who destroyed her nest. Normally, this sort of thing gets copied over and over in any movies that get released in its wake, like what happened after The Matrix, but nobody even tried to duplicate her.

She is, and always will be, one of a kind!

I remember the first time I saw this in the theater. The audience let out a collective gasp. Everyone was in awe of her. Cameron had delivered an excellent, thrill ride of a movie up to that point. He didn’t need to impress us any more, so really, our first glimpse of this thing, that had only been theorized about earlier in the movie, was like the icing on a chocolate fudge cake. And then to follow that up with a “Final Girl” battle…just WOW!!!

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Satanico Pandemonium – From Dusk Til Dawn

This is only the third woman of color I’ve ever seen as a vampire. This is interesting because, even though vampire mythology can be found across every culture in the world, from Asia, to Africa, and South America, the only vampires we almost ever see in films and books, are White. Vampirism is not a White European tradition. There is a bunch of different types of vampires in the South American tradition, because of the interaction of so many cultures in the region. The vampires in From Dusk til Dawn most closely resemble the Cihuateteo of Aztec folklore.

In the TV series,  Satanica tells about how she was sacrificed to an Aztec god when she was a child, and that she was given certain powers and curses by that god, and at the end of the movie version, we find that the nightclub, the Titty Twister, is situated at the top of an ancient temple.

I find the trope of the centuries old vampire, living a  quiet, and discreet lifestyle, as the owner of a nightclub, to be pretty interesting. I guess it makes sense, as vampires can’t come out in the daytime, and as was explained in the movie Vamp, you get a ready supply of itinerant victims, many of whom won’t be missed. What I find equally interesting is that female vampires eventually become sex workers, club dancers, in the modern era. The male vamps who own nightclubs never have to dance, apparently.

If there is anyone who was going to play this character in a movie, I can think of no one else than the beautiful, and  bodacious, Salma Hayek. She is definitely a rival for Akasha, as the world’s sexiest, baddest vampire.

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Akasha – Queen of the Damned

Guys! When an ancient one walks up in the club, it’s time to get the fuck out!

By any measure of cinema, Queen of the Damned is probably a horrible movie, but it joins the list of horrible movies I’m not ashamed to love, solely on the strength of Aaliyah’s performance, as the titular character. She is a queen by every definition of the word and she knows it. I think I hated every other character in the film, (except Marius), but Aaliyah rocked the shit out of this role. She was simply outstanding!

The scene, where she burns down an entire nightclub full of vampires, is one of the highlights of vampire cinema, and is right up there with the shootout from Near Dark, and the power loader scene from Aliens. She then saunters away from the flames, with not a care in the world. Her ass is completely unbothered, and unburnt. The walk! The Attitude! The music!

What’s interesting to me is that I’ve seen a whole new generation of young black women, including my niece, The Potato, who have fallen in love with Aaliyah. I don’t know if it’s because of her movie roles or her music, though. How about both!

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Sue – Jurassic Park

I don’t actually know the Name of the Rex from this movie. I don’t think she has a name in the film. I call her Sue because the T. Rex skeleton, from the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, is named Sue, and I’m a fan. (Actually, Sue  is from South Dakota.) The real life Sue was a bigger, and heavier animal than her animatronic counterpart.

I loved this character, and not  because she ate a lawyer. As the movie’s heavyweight (she is fully  acknowledged by the director, Spielberg, as being the film’s star), Sue is iconic, and the special effects still stand up, twenty five years later. According to her Wiki, (yes, she has her own page), she stood 17 feet tall, weighed 17,000+ pounds, and was 20 feet long. The T. Rex was truly a force of nature:

Its roar is a baby elephant mixed with a tiger and an alligator, and its breath is a whale‘s blow.[58] A dog attacking a rope toy was used for the sounds of the T. rex tearing a Gallimimus apart,[12] while cut sequoias crashing to the ground became the sound of the dinosaur’s footsteps.

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 Ellen Ripley – Alien/Aliens

This list would not be complete if I didn’t add Ellen Ripley. She doesn’t just make this list just because she’s the baddest of the bad, or because I’m a huge fan of the actress, Sigourney Weaver. I think of the character as an icon and role model. (I have a couple of others, Grace Jones, and Nichelle Nichols, for example.) Ripley is the only fictitious role model I’ve ever adopted. I just happened to be at the right age, and the right stage of emotional development, when I first saw her.

I remember watching the first film, Alien, when I was  around eleven or twelve, and no Ripley did not impress me in her first outing. (It would be Parker, played by  Yaphet Kotto, who did that.)  I distinctly remember being scared and intrigued by the ads for that movie, but I was too young to see it in the theater, at just nine years old, when it was released. By the time I saw Aliens, I was sixteen, and by that time my family had a VCR. I’d already been  impressed by Cameron’s The Terminator, but for some reason, Sarah Connor, although she was pretty tough, did not make the list to role model, Ripley did.

I think the thing that most impressed me about this character was the scene at the beginning of the movie, Aliens, when her voice breaks as she is describing the murders of the crew of the Nostromo, because its that scene, (and the cut scene where she cries about the daughter she left behind), that informs all her decisions for the rest of the movie.

Ripley cries a lot, actually. She cries, screams, shakes, her voice trembles. This is a woman who has nightmares, and trauma, and is deeply terrified, but nevertheless, she keeps moving forward, and this was an attitude I would adopt as I moved through a life filled with anxieties, nightmares, mental illness, and suicide. I didn’t so much ask myself what she would do, (I knew what she would do), so much as adopt her attitude. Ellen Ripley taught how  me to pass through fear like a cloud of dust, and  that whatever terrors I have are irrelevant, if my goal is important enough.

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Addendum: 

One of the reasons I didn’t add Vasquez from Aliens, is because I wanted to highlight one of the non-human characters in the film, which I thought was awesome, and I had already included Ripley. Because I added the Xenomorph,  I decided to take out the Latina Bad Ass I admired so much when I first saw the film. I had never seen any character like Vasquez in a movie, especially in 1986. Latina character simply were not regulalrly seen in Science Fiction movies, which sort of makes her character as groundbreaking as she is problematic. (The actress who plays her is not Latina, and is Jewish American. Her cultural markers are a bit stereotypical.)

I like all of the women in this movie, to tell the truth, including the brave and resourceful Newt, and the no nonsense Cpl. Ferro (whose very name is totally metal). I’d end up highlighting the entire film if I did that.

I  specifically referenced the Aliens version of Ripley, because of her link to the first film, which is classified as a Horror movie, and while Ripley was an admirable character in that film, she was not yet a full on Bad Ass yet. That didn’t happen until the second movie which is why I referenced that one instead.

Another character I would have liked to include, for the same reason, is Sarah Connor. The first movie classifies as SciFi Horror, but she doesn’t become a true Bad Ass until the sequel. She too is one of the few White female characters, I truly admire, and one of the few White actresses whose career I followed very closely. But once again, I wanted to highlight non-human characters that impressed me, like Sue.

 

Horror Movie Themes: Women Directors And Monster Women

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Women who direct horror movies are few and far between. They are simply not telling stories in significant numbers in the genre for critics to say there’s an overwhelming theme being tackled, but there are enough of them that a pattern is beginning to emerge.

 

Ostensibly, the stories women tell cover the same subjects as male directors,  but there are sometimes subtle differences, and most of that has to do with women’s perspective on the same topics. There is plenty of vengeance, serial killers, and  ultra violence, but where movies with male directors often focus on the spectacle of violence  against women, without questioning it, female directors often make women the total focus of the plot, as both victims and perpetrators. There are also  fewer otherworldly monsters in female directed movies. Often, in such films, the monsters are very  human, and sometimes those monsters are, in fact, the women.

There are exceptionally few horror movies directed by women of color, and the bare handful of movies that were, like Beloved, fall into the category of personal hauntings, that tackle issues that resonate with other women of color. The majority of women horror filmmakers, are White women, and they tend to focus on issues that are of importance to them, and one starts to notice a pattern in the themes of the movies they make.

If White men work out their personal anxieties through the types of horror they create, then so do White women. It is not that women of color cannot relate to these themes, it’s just that for them, such themes may not be a priority, and tend to carry less resonance for them.

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In movies like Carrie by Kimberly Pierce, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, by Ana Lily Amirpour,  and Jennifer’s Body by Karyn Kusama, the theme is not just the Monstrous Feminine, but femaleness itself as monster. There is no coding of femininity as  horrific in these movies. It is a  woman who is a horrible monster, who feeds on men, or  destroys the human body, with a thought, and she is like this, because she is female, as that is an integral part of the horror in the film.

Carrie and Jennifer’s Body  also tackle issues that are of specific relevance to women, like puberty, menstruation,  friendship, and sexual trauma. In female directed films, there is less emphasis on the disruption and restoration of order, or the status quo. Often, their films don’t actually have any resolution, or the emphasis is on the disruption, and restoration, of relationships, or cathartic punishments, instead.

Themes about monstrosity, in such movies, often revolve around body horror, and consumption, as dieting, and the non/consumption of food, and women’s relationships to food, make up the bulk of the personal anxieties in the privileged classes of women who sometimes make these films. In Julia Decournau’s Raw (2016),  a vegetarian girl develops a craving for meat after she undergoes a hazing ritual involving the eating of raw animals. In the 1999 Ravenous,  by the late Antonia Bird, Guy Pierce develops a taste for raw meat after he is nearly killed during the Mexican – American War, and in Jennifer’s Body, a young woman has to save her high school friend, after she realizes her friend has become a flesh eating demon. (There is a lot to unpack, in the movie Jennifer’s Body, which we will discuss later.) Many middle-class, White, Western women have a love/hate , and a fear/disgust, relationship with food, dieting, and  consumption, and we see that play out in these films, as eating, (usually blood and meat), becomes the primary focus of the horror.

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Female directed movies often tend to be more intimate, focusing on the horror of relationships, or the topic of motherhood. What mothers are willing to do for, or sometimes to, their families is the subject of the 2014 movie, The Babadook, where a mother fears she may kill her son, when she is haunted,  and then possessed, after reading about the titular character.

In the anthology XX, many of the stories revolve around the horrific circumstances that can occur when a mother loves her family. Motherhood, already a source of real world anxiety, is a frequent topic in films made by women. In The Box, the themes are also loss, helplessness, and non/consumption, as a woman loses her entire family, when they starve themselves, after her son views the contents of a mysterious box. It is a secret that kills them, and which they refuse to share with her, so that when they are gone, she spends the rest of her life riding the subway, hoping to encounter the man with the box again. The story, Her only Living Son, directly tackles sacrificial motherhood, as a woman sacrifices her life to save her son from his Satanic destiny.

Sex is a huge component of female directed horror movies, but unlike films directed by men, that mostly just feature the spectacle of  women having sex,  or being raped, the focus from women directors is on the danger, and vulnerability of intimacy, and often based on a young woman’s fear of sexual activity, and fear of the loss of innocence, that may be the result. In the film, A Girl Walks Home Alone, a nameless female, Iraqi  vampire hunts men. This movie is groundbreaking, not just because of its setting, and plot, but character. The sexual forwardness of Iraqi women isn’t often featured in film, let alone as a night-stalking blood drinker. The director, Amirpour, is not White, but the themes of consumption, and blood as a euphemism for sex, still find a way into the story.

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Blood plays a huge part in a lot of the stories told by women, from Carrie, to Raw, to Jennifer’s Body, with the theme being  linked to  femininity, fertility, and/or sex. The movie, Carrie, begins and ends with blood. Based on the novel by Stephen King, it chronicles a young woman’s perilous navigation through high school. At the beginning of the story, the onset of her menses signals her introduction to adulthood, and heightens her telekinetic abilities. The story ends with the killing of her entire graduating class, after a bucket of pig’s blood is dumped over her during the school prom, an act which was informed by the opening events of the story, when she has her first period in front of her bullying classmates.

Blood and flesh are especially popular topics of these films, in that many of them contain cannibalism and/or vampirism. In the movie Raw, relationships, and adulthood rites take center stage, as a young woman, who has a contentious relationship with her sister, gets turned into a cannibal after an initial hazing at her sister’s college, that turns out to be an initiation, not just into a sorority, but also adulthood. In Blood and Donuts (1995), a vampire who has just awakened from a long sleep, is introduced to the modern world, via the night shift worker at a local bakery. Over the course of the evening, the young lady figures out who and what he is, and the two of them engage in a push and pull attraction, as he decides whether or not he should prey on her.

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In the 1987 movie, Near dark, a young man is inducted into a nightmare lifestyle, where he has to kill to live, when he meets a pretty blonde girl, at a bar one night. Vampires, since they, like blood, are often a euphemism for sex and adulthood, are the focus of women’s stories, such as Fran Rubel Kazui’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Buffy went on to answer deeper questions about girlhood and monsters, in the TV series, which lasted from 1997 to 2003. In fact, these themes are so prevalent, that they often seem to be having a dialogue with each other, or with movies of the same genre, made by men.

There is a lot of narrative overlap, for example, between Near Dark, Ravenous, and the movie, Afflicted, which cover not just the same themes, but sometimes the same talking points, of the male protagonist’s empathy making them unfit to live the kind of lifestyle that requires killing others. There is also a great deal of narrative overlap in the movies Carrie, Raw, and Ginger Snaps, more films in which menstruation, and flesh eating, are the signals that a young woman has reached full adulthood.

Now let’s talk about Jennifer’s Body.

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Jennifer’s body is a great encapsulation of some of the themes and topics that women address through horror. The themes of friendship, female ally-ship and support, revenge, sexuality,  and patriarchy are part of this narrative.

Jennifer’s Body was released in 2009, written by Diablo Cody, and directed by Karen Kusama. Jennifer Check, as played by Megan Fox, is the high school hot girl. She is the sassy, beautiful, popular, cheerleader, that all the  high school boys lust after. Amanda Seyfried plays Amanda “Needy” Lesnicki,  her quiet, bookish,  best friend, since elementary school. Jennifer gets possessed by a demon, after she is sacrificed to Satan by a local rock band, in exchange for fame.

Already there are themes of the sexuality of women being exploited for male gain. The band, called Low Shoulder, thinks she is a virgin, and their sacrifice was successful, but since she was not actually a virgin, she became possessed instead. After she has killed two young men, Amanda figures out that she is a succubus that is impervious to harm after feeding on her victims. Jennifer attacks Amanda’s boyfriend, who then attacks and eventually kills her. However, bitten by Jennifer, Amanda has now developed some of the Demon Jennifer’s abilities. At the end of the movie, she hunts down  the band Low Shoulder, and kills them.

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Throughout the movie, we are  privy to some of the more interesting conversations that women have when men are not present, and this is something that will only happen in a movie that is written and controlled by women. Not only will there often be more than one woman in a movie, but their relationships and conversations often have more depth. The film is informed by two women in front of the camera as well as the two women behind it. It is the relationship between Amanda and Jennifer that is integral to the plot of the film. If we don’t buy their friendship, we cannot become emotionally invested in their plight, most especially in Amanda’s dilemma at having to kill her best friend.

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2018/08/206237/jennifers-body-review-defense-female-revenge-movie

Amanda isn’t just killing Jennifer to save the lives of the young men she might feed on, but to save Jennifer. too. I talked in an earlier post about how Horror is basically the disruption of the status quo by the unknown, often the paranormal, and yes, Jennifer as a demon is a disruption of the status quo,  but the status quo, does not necessarily mean “good”. The status quo is Jennifer’s humanity being disregarded  by  men who were willing to  sacrifice her life for their own gain. That Jennifer, and then Amanda, become demons is a necessary disruption, especially as part of the revenge narratives that are also prominent in women’s horror. Not only are revenge narratives common for women directors, they are often very cathartic for the creators and audiences.

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https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/nov/03/carrie-stephen-king-brian-de-palma-horror-films-feminism

Kimberly Pierce’s Carrie, from 2011, is another movie that appears to be having a dialogue with Jennifer’s Body, as it covers many of the same themes, of women’s relationships, both supportive and toxic, and the revenge narrative. Although the story was originally written by Stephen King, and the original movie was directed Brian De Palma, I talked at length about how the mood and emphasis of the film is changed, as Pierce  focuses more on the women’s tangled relationships with each other, rather than on spectacle.

So for female horror directors, there seems to be less emphasis on spectacle (although that’s definitively present becasue these are horror movies), and more focus on symbolism, and the relationships between the characters. For me, this supports my supposition that the type of moves that get made are a reflection of the types of people who make them. If this is true of the Japanese, or British, then its equally true for the White men who run Hollywood, and are the primary creators in the horror genre. So, yes, I think that the types of films being made by White women (as these directors are primarily White) are a reflection of the things that are important to them.

There have not been enough Black and Asian-American filmmakers, in the horror genre, for certain patterns to emerge, but I’m going to give it a try in a follow-up post.

10 Terrifying Books For Halloween

Here’s a really good collection of unconventional books to read for Halloween. So pick one up, (or all of them), and prepare to be frightened. Best time to read them? Halloween night of course.

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Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

You might remember these books from your childhood. I remember reading the first of these in elementary school and being scared out of what wits I’d managed to scrape together at age eight. The other two books in the series are less scary, but Gammell’s drawings  were always deliciously disturbing, and I loved them. Is this series just as effective when reading it as an adult? Yes!

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The Institute – Stephen King

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This is a horror novel for people who don’t like horror novels. I just finished this about a couple of weeks ago. While it started off kind of slow, and King really needs to stop writing any Black people into any of his books, until he can write us to sound like regular fucking people, I ultimately found it very satisfying. This is a story for people who think the Harry Potter universe wasn’t dark enough. In fact, this book slaps that universe in the face, kicks it a few times, and then electrocutes its gonads.  In other words, its got a lot of unpalatable stuff in it, including the (bloodless) torture of children. I listened to the audio-book version of this and some parts were hard to get through, and had I been reading it instead of listening to it, I probably would have put the book down and not finished it. What I can say, in King’s favor, is that the torture isn’t  gratuitous, and does serve the plot.

I don’t usually like the endings of King’s books, although I’m okay with the journey to get there, (I prefer his shorter stuff), but this had a nicely bittersweet ending, that made everything that came before it worth crawling through, and I appreciated it. The kids really did come across sounding and acting  like kids, too. Despite his complete inability to make Black people sound like, ya know, people, he really is pretty good at writing White people who are not men. The lead character is compassionate, smart as fuck, and brave, so that helped, too.

Warning for torture of children.

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Mystery Walk – Robert McCammon

This book is from waaay back in the 80s, and is a great Halloween read, as its one of the few pantshittingly scary books I remember fondly. McCammon writes dark Historical mysteries now, so a lot of people aren’t as aware of his Horror past, as perhaps they should be. He didn’t ever quite rise to the level of King, but his grand novel, Swan Song, is right at the top of apocalyptic fiction along with The Stand, as it should be.

Mystery Walk is about a young man’s journey to adulthood, after he finds out that he has inherited the ability to not only see and speak to ghosts, but he can lay them to rest by consuming their pain. There’s also another character with the same ability that is a dark reflection of him. The book builds up to their eventual confrontation, with one using his abilities for evil and gain, and being manipulated by a demon, while the other, having resisted the demon’s temptations, tries to save him.

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God’s Demon – Wayne D. Barlowe

This is another one of those journeys through Hell books. I have a whole collection of these. I love strong imagery in a book, and Wayne Barlowe, being an artist (who has done at least two illustrated books on this subject) is a master craftsmen. But its not just the images that grab you here, its the characters too, from the  repentant Lilith, to the foot soldiers of the demons major, Hell isn’t just made up of damned souls, and the unredeemable, as Sargatanas, one of Hell’s most powerful Fallen, fights a war to prove that he actually belongs back at God’s side, again.

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FantasticLand

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Okay, I got this book from NetGalley because the plot sounded like it might be funny. I thought it was going to be a satire about Disneyland or something.

This book was not funny.

This book was harrowing, but in a good way. I felt like I had been on a serious journey after I read this. Its not like the other books on this list, in that all the monsters here, are entirely human.

You might get the same idea that its a comedy or satire, as the basic plot is a  bunch of  young people get trapped in an amusement park called FantasticLand, during a hurricane, and over the next couple of weeks, all civility breaks down, as they start to hoard food, break into different tribes, and factions, and begin  warring against each other. In the meantime, they are still dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane, and the resultant flooding.

This is told in reports and interviews after the event. with the people who were involved, various rescue workers, and the media. So its an excellent use of the World War Z format, and unlike the Lord of the Flies book, there are plenty of women, there’s a lot more death, and some very clear reasons behind why everyone starts behaving the way they do, that’s beyond people just being stupid or bad. The book has a lot more depth than I expected, and is a more realistic depiction of how something like it could occur. What’s interesting is that even though the reason why the events happened were pretty clear, the public is still massively puzzled about why it happened.

I can;t praise this book enough, even though it was really hard to get through.

Warning for off-screen rape, and lots of ultra-violence.

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Nocturnes –  John Connolly

This is an excellent collection for Halloween, and one of my favorite anthologies. All of the stories here are straight up horror, ,and very well done. From Mr. Pettinger’s Demon, to the Inkpot Monkey,  with many of the stories consisting of people dealing with different types of demons, both real and imaginary. There are also a couple of really good monster stories, The Wakeford Abyss, and The Man From the Second Fifteen. It also includes a less horrific, but still pretty dark Charlie Parker story, The Reflecting Eye.

“Children go missing, lovers are lost, creatures emerge from below the ground and demons lurk in the shadows as Connolly, clearly having the time of his life, does his best to scare the wits out of his readers.”

 —Gold Coast Bulletin (Australia)

 

I also want to rec the sequel, Nocturnes II, Night Music, with its long form short stories, The Caxton Library, which is not horror, but still lots of fun, and The Fractured Atlas, which is deeply disturbing in a Lovecraftian sort of way. There’s also a fun Sherlockian story, where he meets the man who authored him. The sequel has fewer stories, but The Fractured Atlas more than makes up for the lack of scare in the other stories. Other stories of note are The Lamia, which is not about a vampire at all, and The Children of Dr. Lyall, where two men break into a house, and get trapped in alternate dimensions.

 

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We Are Where The Nightmares Go – C. Robert Cargill

The first story in this collection is one of the most unique zombie stories I’ve ever read. Cargill has this thing, where he can take a well worn trope, like zombies or ghosts, or even Indigenous mythology, and pull out some truly interesting stories, that are not like any other types of those stories. In The Town That Wasn’t Anymore, an entire town is so haunted, that most of its citizens are  afraid to go out at night. There’s a Sin Eater and a Soul Thief’s Son, and the title story is an Anti- Alice in Wonderland tale, as a  little girl goes through a doorway under her bed, and finds herself in a very dark world.

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The Haunted forest Tour – Jeff Strand

If a horror novel can be classified as Pulp, than this is it. I thought it was great, horrific, trashy fun, as a magical forest takes over several acres in America, when it pops out of thin air. The forest just happens to be haunted by every sort of monster that has ever inhabited a horror novel. The whole thing has a very Cabin in the Woods feel to it, right down to its  premise.

This is a story that’s best listened to rather than read. I did both, and the narrator for the audio-book does an excellent job of capturing the incredulity of the characters, and  the horribleness of the monsters.

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The Wide Carnivorous Sky – John Langan

Most of the stories in this collection would best be described as haunting. The first two stories are zombie stories but there is less of a focus on gore, and like any good zombie story, more of a focus on how the end of the world affects the survivors. The title story is, very probably, one of the scariest vampire stories I’ve ever read, not because the vampire is so frightening, although yes it is scary as fuck, but because of the mood. There is a feeling of dread in it that heavily reminds me of The Thing ,as a bunch of afghan vets deal, not just with the aftermath of the war, but the PTSD from encountering the vampire.

The Wide Carnivorous Sky is an excellent story to read on Halloween night.

You will be scaredt!

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The Scarlet Gospels – Clive Barker

If you’re a fan of Hellraiser, this chronicles what happened after the events of the second film, Pinhead’s journey across Cenobite Hell, and  his attempts to gain more power.  This is also good book for  fans of Harry D’amour from Barker’s The Last Illusion, as he travels to Hell to rescue a friend who gets caught up in Pinhead’s machinations, and their eventual confrontation.

This was a deeply satisfying book, but then Barker has always been able to capture me through the vivid imagery he presents, and the depth of his characters. I don’t remember many of the plot details but that is one of the dangers of reading a Barker book.

Warning for torture and rape scenes.

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Have Some Spooky Mini Movies

Hi there!!

Have a small selection of short movies for Halloween. Most of these aren’t too serious or scary, so you should be able to sleep after watching them.

Right?!

 

Alien Anthology

This is one of the serous ones however. If you are  a fan of the Alien movies, these shorts based on that universe, have been released on Youtube, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Alien movie. They have some beautiful production values and hte acting is acceptable.

The surviving crew of a damaged deep-space harvester have minutes to reach the emergency evacuation shuttle. A motion sensor is their only navigation tool leading them to safety while a creature in the shadows terrorizes the crew. However, the greatest threat might have been hiding in plain sight all along.

 

 

We Summoned A Demon

Here is the first of our “summoning” movies. For some reason, all kinds of wacky stories can be made out of this topic. This one has a lot of goop in it., and a demon that likes to play.

 

 

The Summoning

This was one of my favorite “summoning” movies, because its so cute, and disgusting. I guess one of the bigger dangers is summoning the wrong type of demon. This is one of a series of cartoons from a show called Cartoon Hangover called Go! Cartoons, all of which can be found on Youtube.

 

 

 

The Graveyard Shift

This is one of my favorites. It starts off pretty scary, and you think its going to go one way, but…

 

 

Fright Lite

If you were one of those kids (or even an adult) who needed a Nite Lite, I’m sure short will resonate with you.

 

 

 

Amy

A little girl is afraid of the wolf living with her in the house.

This one looks really cute at first but then takes a slightly darker turn.

 

 

 

Behind You

I found the work of Brian Coldrick to be deeply disturbing. Check out his book, with a lot more of these frightening images.

 

 

The Return of the Monster

I liked this one a lot.