This weekend I took my niece to go see The Little Mermaid. Up to this point, I had avoided seeing any of the live-action versions of the cartoons Disney made in the 90s, and that was fine with me, but I am a doting Auntie who loves her niece (who probably knows kickboxing) and she wanted desperately to go see this movie. I was ambivalent. I am not a fan of Disney’s live-action remakes and this is the only one I’ve ever watched. I have the Disney + app and I still haven’t watched any of them but my attitude towards this one is kind of mixed.
I still do not like any of the live-action versions of Disney’s animated films of the 90s and I wish they would stop doing them, but at the same time, I realize these movies aren’t made with people like me in mind. They’re made for the newest generation of under-ten-year-olds that Disney is hoping to capture well into their adulthood, and I would say they’ve succeeded. The vast majority of people (namely women) aren’t even thinking about the stuff I’m thinking about during this movie. What they care about is that their little girls are mermaid crazy and will raise holy hell if their parents don’t take them to see this movie!
So generally my attitude is: Yay! for the representation of Black girls as princesses, but still Booo! on live-action Disney remakes.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience. There are things to like about this movie, namely Hallie Bailey’s performance because she was killing it, but honestly, it doesn’t rival the original experience I had of seeing the animated version in the theater, where I bawled my eyes out like a child. The only Disney movies that still regularly make me cry are the Pixar films. I came close with this one but then my thoughts kept being interrupted by “the first movie did this better” and that quickly put a halt to any incipient waterworks.
I did enjoy Hallie Bailey’s performance which is light-hearted, beautiful, charming, and ethereal. I sang my way through a couple of songs, although I was surprised to find my favorite song in this version was Kiss the Girl, which is not my favorite song from the animated version. My favorite song from the animated version was Poor Unfortunate Souls by Ursula the Sea Witch. The movie was very pretty and colorful, and my favorite scene was the Under the Sea number, where I found myself naming various sea creatures and smiling like an idiot, but that has more to do with me loving ocean documentaries than anything Disney is doing. That scene was a lot of fun and rivals the Be Our Guest scene from the animated Beauty and the Beast, and I’m pretty sure that was on purpose! Ursula the Sea Witch is nasty enough, although I thought McCarthy was overdoing it a bit, and some parts of her very well-known song (at least well-known by me anyway) were excised, and I wished they’d kept those parts because Ursula is not known for her support of other women.
But most importantly it was just lighthearted fun for me and my niece and didn’t provoke a lot of anxiety, which is a problem for me when seeing movies in the theater. I have yet to have an anxiety attack in the theater but there’s always the fear in the back of my head that it will happen, so I actually try to choose movies that aren’t too suspenseful or ones where I already know the outcome. There’s not a lot of suspense in this movie since it’s a remake. There were a couple of new songs added, and some songs were removed, like Le Poisson by Rene Aberjenois, whose voice I really missed. Prince Eric gets a song of his own but it was instantly forgettable. On the other hand, he at least gets a backstory and a personality.
I did enjoy all the beautiful mermaids that were featured and I loved all the diversity in the cast. Eric’s mother is the Queen who adopted him as a child, and she is played by a black actress. its clearly a Caribbean-style island, and there are a lot of black and brown people living there, but this is not this world.
According to the book about the film, this world full of mermaids doesn’t map onto this world’s versions of the oceans, with different land masses and different ocean names. This is an entirely fictional world where humans sort of know about and believe in various ocean gods and goddesses, and Ariel’s sisters reflect different but parallel human cultures. There is a dark-skinned Black mermaid who is especially striking ( and who I immediately named Mami Wata, although I don’t think that mythology exists in this universe), and my other favorite was the Indian mermaid. The two blonde mermaids come from cold ocean waters, so some thought was put into the different looks and cultures of the mermaids themselves. There are some subtle changes to the plot and the ending doesn’t resemble the animated one very much, with a completely different outcome. Ariel’s father, King Triton as played by Javier Bardem and is a lot less mean than the animated version of him though. It’s very weird watching him play a merman.
After seeing this movie, I was on a mermaid roll, so to speak, and watched the Mermaids documentary on Netflix, which was very timely. No, I do not ever want to work as a mermaid. It looks tiring, and to be frank, kinda terrifying! It was fascinating to watch though. Several years ago, I read an article in some culture magazine about a woman who wanted to be a professional mermaid, and I think she’s featured in this series, which interviews and follows different people in their quest to do this as a career, one of whom is a Black man who talks about how his family rejected him for being gay. Apparently, the idea of being a mermaid has totally blown up in the last ten years, and there’s now a lot of competition. contests, an entire community, and even award shows! There is a whole industry (and a specific companies) dedicated to making mermaid tails, which can cost anywhere from a hundred dollars on the cheapest end, to five thousand dollars for the really convincing-looking ones that people can swim in!
After all that, I felt I had to clear my head of all the mermaid stuff so the next day I did a complete 180 and watched John Wick 4, which I’ll discuss later, because damn! That movie was doing a lot with very little!
I have absolutely no plans to go see any more live-action Disney films, but I am greatly looking forward to watching the Barbie movie in July, because I really like Barbie, and I am a huge fan of Margot Robbie. This week, my nephew and I will be heading to the theater to watch the latest Spiderman films and I’m a lot more enthusiastic about that than I was The Little Mermaid.
Okay, I admit it. I was the one who actually wanted these trailers and I can’t truthfully speak for the rest of America. At the top are a listing of the television shows and a couple of movies I’ll be filling my head with this Summer and Fall, and below that are the movies I definitely have no plans to watch. By “have no plans” to watch I mean I have no intention of spending money to see them. If one of my family members would like to treat me to a movie, I’ll watch just about anything that’s free. I know that sounds like I’m being sarcastic but no, I have no pressing need to see them.
Must Watch TV
American Born Chinese
Well, I see we’re getting the old band back together again. (Speaking of getting the band back together I think it’s time for my annual re-watch of The Blues Brothers!) Coming to Disney this Summer is this series, which I thought seemed rather hastily put together, although maybe it isn’t, starring most of the cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once. Michele Yeoh plays the Goddess Guanyin, and one of my favorite Asian actors Daniel Wu from Into the Badlands is starring as Sun Wukong (The Monkey King). I’m always up for watching Monkey King movies, so why not a TV series? Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan also star, and I’m here for it. This looks like a lot of fun, the fight scenes look dope, and just I like a good Chinese Action series. I watch Chinese Action films at night for the same reason that most people watch reality TV. I don’t have to think too deeply about the plots and there’s always lots of movement and color, which is about all my brain can handle by 8pm on a work night. Sometimes I do some light reading or some knitting while something like this plays in the background.
I’m also gratified to see that Hollywood has stopped the bizarre hatred of Asian actors it was engaging in for several decades, (along with its bizarre erasure of Black women characters) because I absolutely hated that whole Hollywood trend of hiring famous Asian actors like Jet Li and Jackie Chan to star in vehicles with unknown white teenage boys as the stars, because reasons…and this series kinda feels like what Netflix’s Iron Fist should have been.
I’ve been rather enjoying Arnold’s career as a Senior actor. He’s a lot funnier than he was when he was younger and seems a lot more willing to laugh at himself and the ridiculousness of his career. Does anyone else think it’s weird that he was once Governor of California and is now acting in these odd little Action comedies again? I’ did watch the last couple of Movies he’s done like Terminator Dark Fate (where I thought he was hilarious), and Killing Gunther. Anyway, this is only about two hours of my time, so this is going on the list of movies I say I’m going to watch, and then I don’t watch them because I’m asleep!
I am happy and surprised to see how well Arnold does in dramatic roles, as I was one of ten people that seemed to like him in the zombie flick, Maggie. What is it about aging male actors that they all decide to become Action stars in their later years, and seem to be more or less succeeding at it? The man is in his 70s! I’ve never been attracted to Arnold, to be honest, although I think I’ve seen ALL of his movies, but now that he’s gotten older, I find myself drawn to his films for a different reason, and now I think he’s actually handsome/sexy. Maybe it’s the beard! Anyway, he seems to be aging gracefully with a minimum of horrible scandals (compared to some others for example). I can only hope he doesn’t turn into a loudmouth troll like Charlton Heston.
Star Trek Strange New Worlds
It’s almost time for me to sit my butt down in a seat and watch my future ex-husband, Anson Mount smirk and agonize his way through another season of Strange New Worlds. The first season was rather hit or miss for me. The real attraction for me was Mount and a couple of the cast regulars, not the plots, which I found somewhat mediocre. The episodes weren’t bad, but I can think of ways they could have been better, and a couple of them were actually stinkers that I didn’t finish, and I hope the writers have improved on the mistakes of that first season. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this new season! I mean…look at him! The man is gorgeous! I also want to see the new guy they’ve got to play Captain Kirk and check out his interactions, if any, with Spock and Una.
The Muppets Mayhem
I’ve been a long-time Muppets fan since I was a little kid watching the TV series which used to come on in the evenings in the 70s, and I’ve been here for every iteration of The Muppets this franchise has been through. I like that we’re finally getting an Animal-centric show because he’s one of my favorite characters. I’m a little less interested in the band led by the guy I call Dr. Teeth although I don’t know if that is actually his name. I laughed quite a few times during this trailer so I feel confident that this TV series will be fun and funny. I guess this is going to be one of those Disney-centric summers for me. I’m probably going to have to break up all this sweetness with some grit at some point.
Star Wars Visions 2
Here we have yet another Disney series I’m going to be checking out. I talked about this one in one of my previous posts but I didn’t have a full trailer. I think the animation looks awesome.
The Equalizer 3
Okay, here’s that grit I was talking about, but it isn’t released until Fall, and I’m going to need it after all the sweetness and light I consumed all Summer. I watched the previous Equalizer films and more or less enjoyed them, although I think the first one was better because of the novelty. Here we have yet another over-65-year-old man who has decided to become an Action hero, although I think Denzel is still doing dramatic roles from time to time. These Action roles are probably what pays for that other kind.
For some reason, I had the impression I was one of the few people who remember the original television series on which this movie is based. There is also a remake TV series starring, of all people, Queen Latifah! which I still have not watched, but I’ve been told I should check out because it’s really good and I’m a Latifah fan.
I think what we need to do is get all these geriatric men together and make a movie of them blowing up stuff, but maybe we already got that with that Stallone vehicle called The Expendables? I don’t know. I think if we added a few more women like Halle Berry and Helen Mirren, along with Danny Glover and Morgan Freeman, it would make a hilarious little franchise, and they could all crack jokes about being “too old for this shit!” while wielding mobility scooters as weapons.
Young Ip Man
I just finished watching the Donnie Yen franchise of Ip Man, so watching more Ip Man is not out of my wheelhouse. I already watched one version of a young Ip Man earlier this year.
I don’t know about y’all but I’m not getting tired of these Ip Man movies of which there appear to be about fifty a year. I don’t know how many movies they can make about one man’s life. I think at this point Chinese directors are just making up fantastical stories about enemies he defeated at this point, like the Wong Fei Hung movies. If anyone ever decides to get all of these different real-life characters together in one movie (Wong Fei Hung, Wong Kei Ying, Yip Man, Bruce Lee, Huo Yuanjia along with the fictional Chen Zen) we’d have a great movie if it was choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping.
Things I Ain’t Looking At
Not that this isn’t interesting, but I feel no urge to watch this.
White Men Can’t Jump
And its the big Nope-a-dope for me on this one. Quite frankly, I wasn’t all that hot about the original movie, which starred Wesley Snipes, and my brain keeps comparing this movie to that one, and coming up short.
And by America I pretty much just mean me! I want to watch these movies and shows because they look pretty interesting and/or fun. I’m all about sweetness, bright colors, and light, this Summer.
I’m looking for wholesome. I’m looking for people of color to do interesting things. I’m looking for some amount of novelty (but not too much). I’m looking for lovely and loving messages. Some of the darker stuff on this list isn’t released until August, which is when I start looking towards a more solemn Fall viewing list, in preparation for Halloween Month, of course.
But from May until then, “Don’t nobody bring me no bad news!” because Hot Girl Summer is out. Hot Movie Summer (all thirty minutes of it in the Midwest) is in!
Okay, this looks novel and deeply funny. I’ve never watched a Bollywood, martial arts movie, so I’m up for watching this. I will not be seeing this in any theaters though. This one is just for at-home viewing only. I’m here for Hindi Action Girls even though I have issues with watching dance routines breaking out in the middle of Action movies. This seems like the kind of movie where breaking into a dance simply makes sense though.
This actually turns out to be a kind of live-action documentary. It’s funny that this trailer showed up right after I read a mystery book that prominently featured the character, so I was somewhat informed about Cleopatra’s background before watching it. This is not a person that I’ve ever paid a whole lot of attention to really, so I don’t know much about her backstory, but this looks gorgeous, and hopefully, it will be informative and worth the watch.
I like that they cast a Black woman in this role although I kept hearing from historians that she was Greek and Iranian. I mean, that doesn’t rule out her being at least part Black nd here she looks like a woman of mixed ethnicity, but you know it’s just gonna bring out the racists and bigots who are sure to be mad about it, and while I do my best to ignore them (since their rantings have affected nothing in Popular entertainment), I’m still very tired of them.
Star Wars Visions Season 2
I have mixed feelings about the first season of this series. I liked maybe half of the animation in the first one. I hope that the ratio of good to bad cartoons is better this season, although the novelty has worn off. I hope it’s not all one style of animation. I like to see different types. I’m also hoping to see a lot more Old Republic-type stories, too. We got a little bit of that in the first season, but I hope to see more.
I love to see Latinas in Sci-Fi and love seeing them get the full hero treatment. I’ve been a huge fan of Rosario Dawson since she starred in Men in Black twenty years ago. Ahsoka has been a favorite character of mine for a while and I’m always happy to see her whenever she makes a cameo (The Mandolorian) but here she’s got an entire series that’s all about her and I’m here for it. What kind of adventures is she having? Where has she been? I’m looking forward to finding out.
This looks really colorful and fun, and I’m looking forward to hunkering down in the theater with this movie, some popcorn, and an Icee! It definitely looks more appealing than the first movie, which I thought was okay, but not great. The addition of Kamala Khan is going to be great for the movie since I enjoyed the sensibilities of the series. I just liked how bubbly she was and the series felt happy in general.
I liked Kamala’s family a lot. I liked that they are from the Islamic faith and that they’re mostly onboard about Kamala’s superpowers. The Peter Parker days of keeping it all a secret mostly appear to be over. Nowadays the hero’s parents and friends all seem to know about their status as heroes, and that’s kind of refreshing since I was never into the idea of superheroes leading these kinds of double lives. Daredevil I can understand but a lot of others just seemed to be pointlessly having a secret. Also, I haven’t seen Monica since Wandavision and I really like her. I’m glad to see Photon, the original Captain Marvel, is making a comeback, and wonder what she’s been up to. I also like Brie Larson’s cocky little Carol Danvers who is so much like that in the comics. This is a character who has POWER, knows it, and carries herself like it, and I’m good with that.
Also, I love it when my favorite characters team up.
I have mixed feelings about this series. I was never a fan of the Secret Wars and Invasions series in the comic books so I have no particular urge to run to my TV to watch this. But it is novel in that it’s the first time I will get to watch Samuel L Jackson star in his own TV series. The action scenes look really cool and it’s got a lot of cameos, so that looks like fun. It does look like it might be confusing though and my fried-up brain doesn’t want to go near that. I don’t hate it but I’m not loving it either. We’ll see how I feel when we get close to the release date. I mean some shows seem okay but you just don’t know if you want to make that kind of long-term commitment. A two or even three-hour movie is a fling, but a six or eight-hour TV series is a love affair!
I’m really looking forward to at least a couple of these this August and September.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
I was feeling mixed about this when I first heard about it. I was wondering why it was being made, but I like this trailer, hope the movie lives up to it, and by August I’m probably going to be looking forward to some grim and dark movies for Fall anyway. The title sounds appropriately dreadful and it’s been a minute since I’ve watched some good Horror/History.
I will not be taking my niece and nephew to see this unless they specifically ask, because I think it looks too scary for them. On the other hand, my nephew did watch all of the Halloween movies, so we’ll see if I will be watching this in the theater alone.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
This looks like an interesting take on the Frankenstein’s Monster movies of my youth. It’s not every day we get to see Black girl mad scientists. I don’t know that I’m enthusiastic to watch this, but I’m putting it here because it’s just different enough from the other Horror movies that it bears mentioning. You can see that the lead character is reading a copy of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. I read that book when I was somewhere near that character’s age and I was unimpressed, although I did like the Kenneth Branagh version from the 90s.
True Detective Night Country
I’ve been a True Detective fan since the first season, (with season 2 being the weakest of the three) even though I don’t normally make Detective series a regular part of my viewing habits. Most of the time it’s because I don’t care for the sometimes obnoxious personalities involved, although the series Psych is an exception to that. I don’t think you can get any more opposite of the Psych style of TV series than True Detective though. It looks very dark (literally in this case) and gritty, and about as close to Horror as a show can get without actually being classified as Horror. I’m also partial to shows and series set in snowy environments (I blame the excellence of 1982s The Thing remake for my rather odd taste.)
The novelty is this will be my first time watching Jodie Foster star in her own series. The last time she was in a TV series was when she was a child in the 70s. I’ve been a big fan of hers since we were both kids and I wasn’t supposed to be up late watching her movies. I’m not “jazzed” about it, mostly because this doesn’t seem like the type of show one gets jazzed about, but I am looking forward to it. I don’t know who her co-tar is so I had to look her up. She is a boxer who is an Indigenous Rights activist and has won some award nominations for her acting debut in Catch the Fair One, which I have not seen (and not likely to see since I am not in the headspace to watch it right now. But it looks great and yall should check it out). I kinda like her already because of her “fuck around and find out” facial expression.
So far, there’s no release date for this, but I’m expecting it to show up in the middle of high Summer.
This series is not set to be released this year but I’m looking forward to it anyway. Apparently, that is indeed Colin Farrell, who I just don’t see in this character, no matter how many times I’m told that’s him. He is completely unrecognizable! (Although I think they’re doing the most on his makeup.) I did like the last Batman movie but I had a couple of misgivings about the villain. I liked the aesthetics and some of the messaging. I also liked the hyperrealistic gritty Gotham that was presented in the movie. This trailer sort of reminds me of a classic mob movie like The Godfather or The Untouchables, something that should be starring Robert DeNiro or Joe Pesci.
This is a series a lot of people are eagerly anticipating. The world of John Wick is just a very intriguing sort of place and I’m interested to find out how it works, how it got that way, and how deep all of this goes. One of my friends pointed out to me that she couldn’t get into it because there is no law enforcement in this world, even though it looks very much like ours. I think I pointed out to her that there are quite a number of things that are NOT in the Wick-verse, (like McDonald’s and Soda) and that I liked it because it had some unique worldbuilding, which, in the best instances, is like getting a glimpse into an alternate universe where the police simply never evolved. These other organizations (the Assassins Guilds and the High Table) are the ones that keep order apparently.
Unfortunately, the addition of the racist and anti-Semitic Mel Gibson greatly reduces my enthusiasm for this series. I’m not boycotting the series or anything. I’m just saying that my enjoyment of it will be severely impacted by his presence, which I find deeply distasteful, and I really wish the creators had chosen another actor. I realize he’s got to work somewhere. I just wish he was starring in something I didn’t particularly care about, so I’m going to wait to see how much of him is in it before I commit to watching it.
Next up: Movies (and TV) I had no intention of watching but will probably end up looking at on some idle Saturday afternoon.
These are not smart films. I actually made a small list of those films a couple of years ago and I’m reasonably certain none of these movies were on there. What constitutes a “dumb” movie could be lots of things, but mostly it’s the plot and characters. I really hate dumb characters and by that, I mean characters that do very obviously stupid things, that no one in their right mind would do, but this character has to do it to move the plot forward. Sometimes it’s a plot that is entirely hinged on how stupid the characters are.
Sometimes it’s not the entire movie that’s dumb but one major plot point that takes me entirely out of the movie and makes me yell at my screen. Normally, I hate dumb movies, but sometimes a movie has at least one redeeming quality that allows me to sit through it with a minimum of fuss, while I just laugh at the dumb sections. And yeah, there’s a reason why all of these are action movies. It’s easy to compile a list of dumb action films, but harder to make a list of dumb action movies I will watch multiple times because I like the actors, or the action is really good, or just because of the lead-up to that one scene.
Sometimes the movies are stupid, but a great deal of fun, usually due to the strength of the personalities involved. The Rock and Nicholas Cage, for example, could star in just about anything, and I’ll watch it. It’s always great fun spending time with either of them, just don’t always expect an intelligent plot. In some cases, like Scorpion King, don’t even expect a coherent plot. Some movies are very well-made but are corny and/or silly, like Independence Day, although Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum manage to save it.
Cobra is a Sylvester Stallone joint from 1986. Now, Stallone is no stranger to making dumb films and the 80s are pretty much famous for dumb Action movies so this was bound to happen. I remember watching this movie late one night when I was probably supposed to be asleep and thinking, “This movie is deeply stupid.” Which was true but it was also deeply funny with lots of happy and mindless ultraviolent fun. It’s one of those dumb movies that gets repeated viewings on the strength of Stallone’s performance and the cinematography. The movie just looks cool.
The 80s was known as the golden age of what we now call Copaganda. Movies about cops and other law enforcement officers being rebels, breaking all the law enforcement rules, and pretty much acting like America was still in the Wild West stage of history, were all the rage back then. Just about every other Action movie starred a rebel cop or an FBI agent blowing stuff up, and frankly, I’m glad we’ve moved on from that to having other types of professionals blowing things up, like assassins, car valets, and insurance agents.
This movie has all the usual tropes. There’s the rebel cop with the cool name, Marion Cobretti, Cobra for short, a hot blonde played by Brigette Neilsen, who I kinda liked back in the day (I don’t know why). Brigette plays a business/model named Ingrid because what else are you going to name a six-foot-tall blonde white lady. Brian Thompson was your typical bad guy with a dubious philosophy and even more dubious plan for taking over the world by killing disabled people, I guess, because it was all very radically Dawrwinist, and he has a gang of followers and nameless henchmen.
When Neilsen’s character witnesses some malfeasance by the gang they need to hunt her down and kill her and she comes under the protection of Cobra who naturally falls in love with her. But that’s really not what makes the movie fun. What makes the movie fun is the action and the dialogue. Yes, the dialogue is stupid but it was really fun to watch these characters trying to emote while being too tough to show their emotions, and I actually liked Stallone’s character. Neither he nor the villain will be winning any Mensa awards so they’re about evenly matched. He and Cobretti get into a knockdown, drag-out fight at the end of the movie, which I enjoyed watching (I don’t know why.)
10/10 will most likely watch this again on some idle Saturday afternoon.
Nemesis is a cyberpunk action thriller from 1992 that contains all the well-worn tropes of a Copaganda/Robocop Ripoff. There is a burnt-out cyborg cop, a wayward former partner, a manhunt, a missing computer McGuffin, or bomb, or something, and several beautiful but deceitful cyborg/AI women. It also stars three of my favorite actors, Olivier Gruner, Tim Thomerson, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa ( I don’t know why.) And I don’t think it was a coincidence that Brion James was involved in this movie. I was not a fan of Brion James, but I guess I am now, because he was everywhere after his stint as a robot in Bladerunner, so I built up a tolerance. This movie is bad in all areas of badness. The acting is atrocious, the action scenes are well done but make no sense, and quite frankly I didn’t care enough about any of the characters to root for or against anyone, but I remember watching this blatant Robocop rip-off multiple times, and will probably do it again at some point in the future since it’s free on Youtube.
For some reason, I was really crushing on Olivier Gruner at the time and remember watching several movies just because he was the star. He could be described as a low-rent version of Jean-Claude Van Damme, and he does have actual martial skills. Here, he plays an ex-cop, who is also a cyborg, named Alex. He gets recruited by an old boss or something to hunt down his former partner who runs some kind of underground rebel group. The plot involves a lot of shooting and blowing up of things. Do not even try to make any sense of the plot because you’ll only hurt yourself. I, on the other hand, am a professional bad movie watcher. This is what I do and I couldn’t even make sense of it.
I think I just liked the idea that half the characters in this movie were cyborgs, and the dialogue was pretty funny, even if the delivery was horrible. Nowadays, I’d watch it because there is a considerable nostalgia factor involved. But I don’t think you should watch this movie just because I have no shame.
I wanna start off by saying that okay, Michael Bay is a horrible director, but I had to watch most of his 90s movies to figure that out, apparently. I did eventually learn my lesson and stop looking at them but not soon enough to miss seeing this. It also has the added benefit of starring both Nicholas Cage and James Bon- uh, I mean Sean Connery. Ed Harris is in this too and he’s worth about two and a half Connerys. Both William Forsythe and Michael Biehn (from The Terminator) also star in this movie, so Bay somehow managed to gather some of the hottest action stars of the 90s to take part in this novel, but still somehow mediocre plot.
This movie has everything. SEALS, the SAS, the Pentagon, ex-government prisoners, a rogue general, some rogue Marines, Alcatraz island, nerve gas, rockets, hostages, threatening an American city for ransom, and did I already say it? Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery hating to work together to accomplish their goals.
This is a movie where the plot actually makes sense in that it’s relatively easy to follow and keep track of people’s motivations, more or less. It did pretty well at the box office, a lot of people seemed to really like it, and it even won an Academy Award for Best Sound! But I’m going to argue that it’s the earnest and occasionally charming performances of the actors that make it so watchable.
Have no doubt, this is a dumb movie, that makes no pretense of trying to seem like it’s smart, but I love the hell out of this deeply stupid film. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) stars in this movie and while he is not known for making smart films, he is such a fun and charming character in all of his movies (even though he pretty much just plays different versions of himself) that I always enjoy watching anything in which he shows up.
The movie also stars two more of my favorite actors, Christopher Walken and Rosario Dawson (and Stifler from American Pie, but I am not a fan of him though). The Rock plays a bounty hunter who gets sent to Brazil to hunt down his employer’s son, who is in Brazil hunting an object called The Gato (a gold-plated cat. Why? Who cares!), which is also an object of seeming importance to both Rosario and Walken. The three of them juggle this McGuffin between them for most of the film while Dwyane tries to keep Stifler alive to get him back home.
There are jungle scenes, a political resistance camp of some kind, angry monkeys, toxic fruit, explosions galore, a herd of stampeding cattle, and a batty Scotsman who spouts biblical scripture, and is also a helicopter pilot! Frankly, this guy is my favorite character in the entire movie. You have to watch it just to see the last thirty minutes, which is how I stumbled across it on cable, one idle weekend.
This was my and my Mom’s favorite Jean Claude Van Damme movie. She was a huge fan of his (so was I) and she really loved this deeply goofy film which we watched and laughed through multiple times. Now the movie isn’t exactly dumb but it is a bit cheeky. It takes itself just seriously enough that the introduction of those cheeky little moments of humor don’t feel out of place. The plot is non-sensical (in the sense that the science behind it goes completely unexplained), but also surprisingly easy to follow. Oh, did I mention that Dolph Lundgren is in this movie? No. Well, I should have, because that man can chew scenery like nobody’s business, even though he’s only playing a low-rent Arnold Schwarzenneger.
Jean Claude and Dolph play a couple of soldiers who died during some kind of personal skirmish in Vietnam, but through the magic of science fiction movies, they get resurrected as Special Operations soldiers who decide to pick up where they left off. But the best character is Veronica, played by Ally Walker, as a television journalist trying to get the latest scoop about some dead soldiers, who is also a great audience stand-in, as she speaks our minds most of the time. She spends most of the movie not believing what’s happening to her, but never comes across as stupid, which was very refreshing. She also gets all the best lines and I love her!
Why this particular military team is committing war crimes in Vietnam, long after the war is over, is never explained. Why do these two US soldiers have clearly non-US accents is never explained (although the writers do try to sell us the idea that Van Damme’s character was from Louisiana, so there’s that)? Why these two characters have beef is also not explained (outside of one of them being crazy). They just do. But the writers do make sure to explain why Jean Claude needs to take his clothes off in one key scene, though. There’s a little bit of Robocop, a little bit of Apocalypse Now, and the action scenes are, of course, EXTRA. With butt cheeks!
My mom and I used to crack the hell up so hard at this movie, which we watched every single time it aired on TV, no matter how late it was.
The Fifth Element
I just want to make it very clear that Milla Jovovich is a horrible actress, yet for some reason, she keeps getting cast in Action movies even though she has all of the fighting grace, and emoting talent of a 2 x 4, and I blame this movie for starting her Action movie career. I just wanna let it be known that while I don’t like her very much I am willing to tolerate her when she’s surrounded by better actors like Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, and of all people, Ian Holm!. Hell, even Chris Tucker, as an androgynous television presenter named Ruby Rod, while deeply annoying, is at least trying to be funny, and more or less succeeding.
But the standout character and the one which most moviegoers remember is Diva Plavalaguna, a blue-skinned, tentacle-headed, 7 ft. tall opera singer, who gets about five minutes of screen time, but still manages somehow to steal the whole damn movie (by twerking), despite the distracting hairstyles, fashion sensibilities, and atrocious accents of all the other characters. Ian Holm plays a space priest, and I don’t know what Bruce Willis is doing in this movie, other than being himself, but they are the two most normal characters in the entire movie, which is kinda saying something, but I’m not sure what.
Bruce Willis’ character has to escort Milla’s genetically perfect mutation to a special location so she can save the universe from the Darkness or some such nonsense. This involves lots of aliens, elemental stones, kung fu, Gary Oldman choking on a cherry pit, and shootouts with said aliens. Don’t bother to follow the plot. It’s essentially meaningless. On the other hand, the director somehow managed to get the French fashion designer, Gautier, to do the costumes, hair, and makeup for the film, so pay attention to that.
The movie is a visual treat and occasionally funny, with acceptable action scenes, but do not mistake any of that for greatness. This is very much a niche movie for Sci-Fi Action fans only.
I resisted putting this movie here but finally relented because although I enjoyed it immensely, it’s not a smart film. I liked the characters, but they are not especially bright and there are a number of things that remain unexplained. The pacing is off, the plot is easily followed but makes little sense, and the dialogue needs some serious help. That said, the movie just leans into its inherent goofiness, with no shame, and I kinda liked that. It’s a lot of fun, mostly funny, and bears almost no relation to the things going on in the comic books, outside of the characters’ names.
This film was popular mostly on the strength of Tom Hardy’s performance as a journalist that’s kinda like himself, and the alien symbiote who falls in love with him, named, of course, Venom. Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed are also starring in this but no one remembers that. This is strictly a Tom Hardy joint, where he plays a man possessed by an alien that takes over his body, falls in love with him, and decides it doesn’t want to join its murderous brethren in taking over the world and eating humanity, although it still wants to eat people.
The movie’s got some problems, which is everything in the movie that’s not Tom Hardy. But I am a huge Tom Hardy fan so I was able to tolerate all the other problems in this movie like the dialogue, the plot, the villain, and the special effects. Still, I was able to pull a handful of things that I really enjoyed besides Tom, like the relationship between Venom and his character is funny, and the relationships between him and most of the other characters are quite wholesome. Even the villains are suitably despicable.
I think most of this movie’s fans would never argue that this is a good movie. However, if you are a fan of Tom Hardy…it’s a great movie!
I tried to add other movies to this list but I kept coming back to this movie, which I have watched multiple times. Like the above-named films, the science and plot are just sort of hand-waved away, which gives me the nagging sensation that the movie is unfinished, but doesn’t otherwise hinder my enjoyment of this spectacularly goofy film. I think you can guess that I’m a big John Woo fan. He has made a number of these types of movies with some silly plots, starting with the very first one I ever watched, Hard Boiled. That movie was so wild that I had to backtrack and catch some of his previous movies. I didn’t love them all. John Woo is the kind of director that can just make you watch a plot that, if proposed by any other director, would get them laughed out of the studio, and I am here for it. It is the existence of John Woo that makes the John Wick franchise possible since he is the one who pioneered what we now call Gun-Fu!
Get this. Nicholas Cage and John Travolta play a cop and a criminal (it doesn’t matter which is which) who get their faces surgically altered in Travolta’s face-swapping plot to, pick one: blow up some shit, get revenge, or steal something. How about all three? Good! There’s all kinds of battiness going on in this movie, multiple Mexican standoffs, little children oblivious to shootouts happening just out of their fields of vision, nuclear bombs, boat chases, husband swapping, endangered daughters and wives…you name it, it’s probably in here, and all done with a style and swag that makes John Woo the Godfather of modern action cinema. The only thing this movie is missing is Chow Yun Fat, the star of Woo’s previous Hong Kong films.
As you can imagine both Cage and Travolta are chewing the scenery like it’s a BLT, but there are, as in all of Woo’s films moments of startling beauty and pathos that make it worth taking a look at. But if you’re going to start watching John Woo’s films, don’t start with this one. It’s best to ease into it with something like Hard Target or Mission Impossible 2, to prepare yourself for all his slow-motion, Mexican standoff finery.
I know a lot of people would pick Hard Target, which is pretty dumb but this is quite frankly one of the dumbest Jean Claude Van Damme movies ever made, and that is saying something when you consider some of the other films he’s famous for. This movie, like Universal Soldier kind of knows how silly it is, and JC more or less plays these twin characters completely straight, except every now and then he does or says something with that little mischievous twinkle in his eye that lets you know he knows this movie is deeply silly, and he looks like he’s having the time of his life.
Jean Claude plays some kind of yoga instructor who likes to show off his leg flexibility to the ladies in his class (seemingly the only reason they are there is to look at JC’s butt in tights, and I’m not gonna lie, that’s why I would attend such a class). Of course, back in the day, JC would take every opportunity to show off his naked leg muscles at even the slightest provocation. He is separated from his twin brother when they’re children after their parents get killed by some Hong Kong Triad gangsters or something. Anyway, they meet again as adults and have to team up to take down the people who killed their parents even though the two of them intensely dislike each other, which makes for some brotherly shenanigans as they show their love by punching and kicking each other. Eventually, they do get along long enough to blow things up.
To give you some idea of how silly this movie is, there is a completely unnecessary dance scene, with JC working it out with a couple of beautiful women in what appears to be a shed, and I enjoyed this scene immensely. It never fails to crack me up, mostly because it matches absolutely nothing else in the entire film, and yet is entirely in keeping with his character’s character! The brother, also played by Jean Claude, does not dance, hates black silk underwear, and is a grumpy, unlikable, stick-in-the-mud, who still somehow manages to make that look cool, and yet also appears to be living his best life.
You have to watch this movie just for the dance scene, because JC, unlike a lot of white guys I know, can actually stay on beat and appears to really be enjoying himself, as he should.
I don’t even know where to start with this movie. I have friends who like this film and I guess if you turn your brain off and only see this as a Horror/sci-fi/Action film, it’s okay, but my problem is I know far too much about how the scientific method works to ever enjoy this movie. I kept getting pulled out of the movie by the character’s actions.
These are quite possibly some of the stupidest scientists to ever grace a Science Fiction movie. And the non-scientists aren’t too bright either. These people are so stupid they had me screaming at my television screen and that’s not a good look for any movie.
There are a good half dozen dumb character moments in the movie, and if you’ve seen this movie, then you know which is the worst one, but if you haven’t let me illustrate this for you. Towards the end of the movie, two characters are running away from a massive rolling ship (do not ask why it is rolling, you will only hurt yourself). One of the characters manages to avoid being crushed by the ship by accident. She falls down (as is traditional in Horror movies even though she isn’t wearing heels), and the other woman (who is wearing heels) also manages to fall down but does not avoid being crushed. Both characters could have avoided the entire thing by just not being stupid, and running into the wide open spaces to either side of the rolling ship!
This is my whole feeling during the entire movie!
You have scientists getting lost who aren’t supposed to be getting lost, people afraid of things they’re not supposed to fear, and/or touching things they’re not supposed to touch.
Here is my watchlist for the Summer, yall! Every year, I plan my movie-watching well in advance. Unlike some people, I don’t just pay money to see everything that gets released. I don’t have that kind of throw-away money. I carefully pick and choose the movies I’m going to see and especially the ones my nieces and nephew like. I think this discernment accounts for my complete lack of burnout when it comes to watching Action movies. I make sure to choose the ones which are going to maximize my fun.
At home, I prefer to experiment more. I’ll try thoughtful, slow, and considerate movies like Women Talking or the new sound movie Last and First Men, martial arts movies, documentaries, and Horror and Classic films. In other words, I like some variety and I do discriminate. But when I go to the theater I go for fun, thrills, laughter, and adventure. I’m not spending money to cry and be upset because I can do that at home for free (and I no longer subject myself to Black trauma films).
So here is my Summer Blockbuster movie list. These are movies I’m sure I’ll be watching this Summer and feel very enthusiastic about seeing (more or less).
In The Theater
The Little Mermaid
I’m not especially enthusiastic about seeing this movie, but my niece wants to go see this and I don’t deny her stuff because I think she knows martial arts (I’m not sure about that last part but I don’t want to test it.) This looks like a pretty faithful adaptation of the original cartoon. It’s a beautiful colorful movie, especially the underwater scenes, though I am not a fan of Disney’s live-action remixes. But like I said, I guess I’ll be going to see this one.
After seeing the latest trailer, I’m actually excited to see this. I grew up with all the Barbie dolls, and her accessories, like the apartments, vehicles, and pets, so I love her. I even have a few of the Christmas, Designer, and Specialty Barbies, along with several Black ones, and that one Latina Barbie. My niece has expressed a great interest in seeing this, although my nephew has nixed the idea of going himself. This trailer is absolutely hilarious. I already love Simu Liu’s Ken, and Ryan Gosling is absolutely perfect!
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
This is one my nephew and I will be very excited to see. I remember the Beast Wars from books but I don’t remember watching the anime. I while I like the Transformers, I haven’t always liked the movies. This looks like a lot of fun. I’m noticing a trend here this Summer: Lots of Latino and Hispanic actors and lots of Black men and women are joining the Summer Blockbuster schedule. Well, I’m here for it. It’s very refreshing.
I did read the Blue Beetle comic books when I was a teen. These were the Ted Kord books when he was in the Justice Society and hanging out with Booster Gold. When the character was rebooted with this new kid I read a couple of those books too, so I’m more or less familiar with Jaime’s origin story. This movie looks cool as f***, and I also like the idea that his family already knows he’s a superhero and they encourage it.
Across the Spiderverse
I’m really excited about this, and so are a lot of other people it seems. I enjoyed the first movie immensely. My nephew and I are the biggest Spiderman fans ever. We are gonna have a ball, eat popcorn until we get sick, and then talk about this all the way home!
Guardians of the Galaxy
I’m a huge fan of the movies. I have never read a single comic about these characters. I’m not entirely sure that I wanna go see this because I know it’s gonna make me cry just like the last two. Apparently, this is a Rocket-centric story, as well.
I’m not sure I’m going to see this but I am excited about it. I put it on my schedule.
At Home Movies
This looks hilarious and hilariously accurate! OMG! The tagline! They can’t all die first! This movie is already hitting me in the feels. This is based on a short movie I remember watching on Youtube.
In the Fall I want to talk about the amount of diversity I watched in the movie selections this Summer.
They Cloned Tyrone
This is airing on Netflix. It looks like fun and stars John Boyega and another all-Black cast.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I’m not a huge TMNT fan but I’m familiar enough with the movies, books, and TV shows to find my way around a movie. This looks like fun and I’m told the turtles are being voiced by actual teenagers this time.
Fist of the Condor/Sakra/Once Upon Time in Ukraine
Here’s a trio of martial Arts movies I plan to watch this Spring and Summer. They all look novel and/or fun.
JD Nealy on Medium.com recently issued this all-things Horror “This or That” Challenge and I’m here for it. I’ve done This or That Challenge before but to be honest, most of them are boring or nerve-wracking. This one though is a lot of fun, although when I discussed it with my friends there was some confusion over whether or not some things meant being killed by or fighting with something, so our answers were somewhat inconsistent. That’s okay though because hey! it’s Horror.
Slasher or Supernatural
Im going to have to choose Slasher because theoretically a Slasher can be killed, appeased, or sometimes even escaped, depending on what type of slasher we’re talking about. A regular human slasher cannot generally walk through walls or just suddenly appear behind you in your bathroom or in front of your car.
There is something to be said for supernatural slashers and none of it is good. Supernatural slashers are just cheating, really. That said, I would prefer to star in a supernatural thriller like It Follows, where there are some concrete rules rather than any Nightmare on Elm Street movie, where there don’t seem to be any.
Zombies or Cannibals
I’m gonna go with fighting zombies. I at least know all the rules of fighting those having watched multiple films in the genre. Cannibals on the other hand have no rules and are liable to do anything at any time, including prolonging your death for their own enjoyment (see Hannibal Lecter.) At least getting eaten by zombies, while painful, is still relatively quick. So is killing them.
I would choose to star in Dawn of the Dead over The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes.
Vampires or Werewolves
This was one of the questions we found the most confusing. Would we rather fight these creatures, or be killed by them? In either case, I’m gonna go with vampires who have a set of weaknesses that can be easily taken advantage of. There are pros and cons for each choice though, and I’m definitely going to overthink this later, but I’m going with vampires on this one. Also, vampires are just sexier to be fighting. If I had a choice about the type of vampire movie it would probably be the first Blade movie since I’d get to hang out with Blade, and those vampires can definitely be killed since they’re not especially bright ones.
If I had to choose between being a vampire or a werewolf, I wouldn’t exactly like it, but I’d choose to be a vampire. There are all kinds of workarounds to being a vampire. There don’t seem to be any for being a werewolf although the movie What We Do In The Shadows make both options seem like fun.
Humans or Aliens
My friends and I were not sure what this question meant. I chose humans though because once again humans are at least a category of monster that’s understood. There are set rules for dealing with human beings who are “acting a fool”, and no rules for dealing with aliens, unless we’re talking about the ones from Alien or Predator, in which case I still choose to deal with people. Nobody wants that alien smoke. When all is said and done I’d still rather deal with the humans from The Fifth Element than anything from an Alien film. Predators, on the other hand, can probably be reasoned with and you can at least team up with them to fight the Alien.
Witches or Warlocks
My friend’s first question was what’s the difference, and since we’re librarians we had to do some research to find out. It turns out that there’s no difference between the two, because according to Scottish folklore, a warlock is simply a male witch, and both male and female witches are malevolent. Personally, I’d rather have nothing to do with either, but maybe some people would choose witches because women who have decided to become witches can be reasoned with and at the very least are justified in joining the hellish crusade of the powers of darkness. Any men who do this are probably wholly irrational, and also sexual predators, and I have standards. I’d rather deal with the witches from The Witch than the idiot warlocks of Jennifer’s Body.
Jason Or Freddie
I chose Jason for this one because at least in some of the earlier films Jason can be outrun. Freddie on the other hand, cannot. Jason can at least be killed even if only temporarily. I have a soft spot for Jason that I don’t have for Freddie though. Jason is at least a sympathetic villain, and I have standards. Freddie is an aggrieved child molester, and that’s just icky. Also, I prize getting a night of good sleep and Freddie isn’t conducive to that. Jason could conceivably kill me in my sleep and it would be relatively quick. Jason generally doesn’t try to draw out your anguish for his enjoyment.
Summer Camp or Suburb
I’m going with the suburbs here because there is at least the idea that other people are around. It’s true, they’re not very helpful, but you can at least break into their homes and your killer can be distracted for a few minutes by dispatching these unhelpful monsters. There are potentially police, ambulances, weapons of some kind, and streetlights in the suburbs. I do not want something chasing me around in the woods in complete darkness. That’s just silly. I’m basically picking any Halloween movie over Friday the 13th, because I know I’d make better decisions than any of the fools in Halloween.
Low-Budget or Blockbuster
I’m gonna have to go with Blockbuster for this one. The people in a blockbuster are prettier and more well-spoken. It’s not that there are no good low-budget Horror movies out there, but your death is likely to be prolonged and agonizing or happen entirely offscreen, which is also no good. I want my death to be memorable, but not last the entire movie. I also want it to be a surprise which is something a lot more likely in a Blockbuster than in one of those movies where you can see death coming thirty minutes in, and you spend the rest of the movie running to no avail. In fact, the louder and more bombastic the blockbuster, the better.
Fight or Flee
Like Baymax, I am not fast! In fact, I’m probably one of the slowest-walking people on the planet. No matter how fast I move my legs, I just don’t seem to get anywhere, so it’s gonna have to be fighting. Of course, this is something that depends entirely on the circumstances, but considering how I handle my quite boring and everyday problems, (by simply tackling them head-on), I’m definitely a fighter. If there’s a mystery to solve to get the monster off my back, then that’s the movie for me. The exception to this is any J-Horror ghost movie. Japanese ghosts, such as Amara from The Ring, can never be appeased by anything you could do for them and will torment and kill you anyway.
Cemetary or Swamp
I don’t like bugs, and I for sure don’t like bugs in warm water. And while I’m sure that there are cemeteries that contain both, I will happily avoid those too. Cemeteries generally don’t have giant man-eating reptiles, although they might contain ghosts or zombies, which I can deal with. What I imagine could be much worse is the cemetery that’s located in a swamp. How’s that for places to avoid?
Shrunken Heads or Skulls
My friends and I were not quite sure what this meant so we decided it meant how we would decorate our homes. I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the two really. The shrunken head still has some skin on it while the skull is baring its full loveliness. I’m gonna have to go with skulls as decorative objects, and even for myself if it came to that. After all, if you’re using my skull, I’ve long been deceased and so have no idea what you’ve gotten up to with my remains. Nor will I care.
Also, Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) from that Birds of Prey movie has an apartment decorated with shrunken heads, and nobody wants to be like that guy. Besides skulls are Shakespearean and way sexier than shrunken heads.
Machete or Chainsaw
Quite frankly, I would prefer to avoid being killed by either one of these, but as a weapon, I’d pick the machete, which is relatively easy to use for anyone who is not used to edged weapons, and doesn’t require gas or electricity to wield. As for being murdered by either, I’m gonna have to go with the chainsaw, which is large and unwieldy and will likely run out of gas, at some point. There are only so many people one can kill with a chainsaw at a given time.
Hospital or Home Depot
I’m a pretty inventive person (so is my brother). I’d consider it a dream come true to be locked down in a Home Depot. The possibilities are almost endless if you have any imagination about how to use found objects. Hell with the right skills and materials, you could probably build an entire fortified city inside a Home Depot. Not that I would be lost in a hospital but there’s a lot less material to work with it in one of those. The Home Depot seems more fun.
Apocalypse or No Apocalypse
Yeah, I don’t know what the alternative here means. It’s apocalypses all the way down. That said, I don’t want the whole world destroyed. I want people to still enjoy life after I’m gone. I want there to still be music concerts, pastry cafes, and bad tv shows. Just because I’m not here to enjoy those things doesn’t mean I want the rest of the world to suffer. Also, there is no such thing as a fun apocalypse, even if you get to stay in a Home Depot.
Nightmare or Reality
A nightmare isn’t real and one could potentially wake up from it. I’ve had my share of nightmares. I was always glad to wake up and find out that whatever it was was not real. So I guess I’m choosing the nightmare scenario as long as there are no supernatural creatures involved. Supernatural creatures mess up your ability for lucid dreaming, something I’ve been practicing for a few years now.
Dungeon or Maze
Yeah, I’m really not seeing the big difference between these two. One of them is indoors and underground, and the other is outside most of the time, either one could be full of monsters. I just saw the movie Dungeons and Dragons, and there’s a maze and a dungeon in the movie, both of which seemed equally dangerous in my opinion. In fact, it’s possible that the dungeon might actually be a maze, in which case it makes no difference! But if I absolutely had to choose I’d rather be outside and upstairs, so I’m going with the maze on this one.
Radiation or Disease
This one was easy. Everyone has had at least some experience with disease. Few of us have had any experience with radiation poisoning, which has all of the worst symptoms of a disease, but without any possibility of a cure. I’m not a fan of disease but a person can recover depending on what disease it is. I’ll take the common cold, or hell, even shingles, over radiation sickness.
Spells or Rituals
I’m not particularly worried about either of these. Neither of these is especially frightening because I’ve watched enough Horror movies to know that a ritual can be disrupted, and a spell can be blocked. All you have to do to stop a ritual is make sure it can’t be completed. Stopping a spell is a little bit trickier as it involves having a certain amount of skill. If i had to choose, I’m picking a ritual. And depending on what kind of ritual disruption we’re talking about, it could bring on the apocalypse, in which case nothing matters, or one could end up summoning a tiny, ineffectual demon.
Skeletons or Ghosts
I’m gonna have to go with ghosts on this one. Ghosts are incorporeal, meaning they can’t actually affect anything in the real world. Sure, they’re creepy and can give you a chill, but they can also potentially be ignored. Skeletons however tend to be attention seekers. They’re pretty loud and can actually hurt you, although that may just be me, haunted by recurring images of those sword-wielding skeletons from the 1963 movie Jason and the Argonauts.
Series or Standalone
At least when a standalone movie is over it’s over (except for those damn franchise films.) I do not want to go through whatever I’m going through for 22 hours, which is the average length of a network TV series. I don’t even wanna go through it for 8 which is the average length of a cable series. When a standalone is done, I don’t have to keep revisiting it if I don’t want to unless my name is Laurie or Sidney, and it isn’t so I’m good.
Theater or Netflix
Netflix all the way. I don’t care how many people slag off Netflix for having bad movies, it still is good for the price I’m paying. I’ve never been the kind of person who was enamored of theatergoing. I don’t go to the movies for the ambiance. I go for the STORY! And I can get good stories in the comfort of my home, with a cleaner bathroom, and a lot less talking. When i get scared or disinterested, I can turn it off, and I won’t lose money doing it.
Netflix costs less, and I’m still getting entertained, so it works for me.
A physical liminal space is something tangible that you can recognize as a pathway, passageway or portal. These places are transitory, meaning you’re supposed to pass through them on your way to something else.
I talked here before about liminal spaces which are places where people transition from one place to another and where no one actually lives. Liminal Spaces are often defined as places where people once were, as they have left their constructs behind, but now are not. These are also places where people normally spend time but may be empty at a given moment. Liminal space is the opposite of a permanent residence like your apartment or your hotel room. It is any portal, door, or corridor between places or any place where people stop for a brief period of time, or travel from one place to another, like a highway or rest stop. Even people can have liminal qualities. Travelers, for example, have such qualities, as they are moving between one space and another and have no fixed position or state of being. Teenagers and those nearing death are people who are also on the threshold of being or entering another state, of being a child or an adult, or alive or dead.
The Overlook Hotel – The Shining(1980)
Here we have a classic liminal space. Hotels are by their very nature places where there can be no real permanent residence, and are often a transitional space between one place and another. Here is a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining where Danny is rolling quickly down the empty halls of a deserted hotel, a liminal space that exists within a liminal space. Liminal spaces are often portals or doorways between the living and the dead because the walls of reality are thinner where they are not shored up by the mental strength of a permanent resident. This allows spirits, ghosts, revenants, demons, and other beings to enter or inhabit such places. In the case of the Overlook, the hotel itself is a liminal entity that has taken on a life of its own and regularly consumes the travelers who pass through or temporarily inhabit it, like Danny and his parents.
The Open Road – Duel (1976)
America’s highways (and any points along them, like gas stations, and rest stops) are also places of transition from one place to another. The road is not a fixed or permanent residence. Just like many cars, buses, trains, and many public places, it is a place people travel on, or pass through. All kinds of inexplicable occurrences can happen and there are countless unknown dangers on the road, not just from the road itself, but the people, and vehicles that travel along it. This is a scene from Steven Spielberg’s 1976 movie Duel, where a man is pursued by a dangerous truck driver along various highways. This kind of thing happens in road trip horror movies like Jeepers Creepers, and Joy Ride.
The Nostromo – Alien(1979)
Outer Space is itself the definition of a liminal space because of its life-inhibiting nature and because it is, once again, something people pass through rather than truly live in. In the 1979 movie Alien, the crew of the space freighter Nostromo encounter a dangerous life form while traveling through this space. The ship, Nostromo, is full of plenty of transitional spaces where the creature can hide and then leap out at the ship’s inhabitants who are hunted and killed while traveling through the ship’s empty halls and backrooms. In that sense, the Nostromo is reminiscent of a hotel environment. it seems like a more permanent residence except there is too much empty space for it to be considered a home. At its foundation, it’s just a vehicle in which people are moved from one place to another.
The Parking Lot – Fargo(1996)
Fargo is shot in such a way that even the permanent residences of its characters feel like liminal spaces. The feeling of the movie is cold and emotionless. just like its villains. It doesn’t help that the environment in which the story takes place is bleak and wintry Minnesota. Many of the plot developments take place in moving vehicles, places of work, diners, hotels, and parking lots, and the relationships between the characters often feel just as cold and disconnected as the places through which they travel.
The Incursion – Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness(2022)
The entire movie is about portals, doorways, and traveling the in-between spaces. The film is full of liminal moments of ghosts and demons, and even universes, possessing the living, the dead, and other universes, causing disruption to the natural order. These liminal spaces are places where the normal rules of physics seem to have been completely overturned. Since the little girl in the movie, America Chavez, has the power to travel between universes, it means she has no fixed permanent residence of her own, which makes her a liminal person, a doorway through which others can pass, which is also the ability that makes her so powerful and coveted by the movie’s villain. Here, the Doctor and his friend Christine walk through a world that has been invaded by another world through one such portal.
The Closet – Poltergeist (1982)
Closets are classic portals, doorways to other dimensions, through which other beings can enter this world, or in the case of Poltergeist, the 1982 film by Steven Spielberg, spaces through which people can be abducted. The little girl in the movie, Carol Ann, is abducted into the afterlife through this doorway, and much of the plot hinges on her family successfully navigating the outer fringes of liminal space to rescue her. In this scene, there are several doors through which her family can or cannot pass.
The Swimming Pool – It Follows (2014)
Water possesses liminal qualities since its surface is a barrier that separates the realm of earth from the aquatic realm. In the movie It Follows, swimming pools are set up as liminal spaces in time as well as space, places where childhood innocence and the literal avoidance of death can be maintained. I wrote about this film in another post, about the symbolism of all the bodies of water in the film, and how whenever the film’s monster gets too close in its pursuit of Jay, the film’s lead character, she retreats to places of innocence, symbolized by bodies of water. At the end of the movie, she and her friends hope to lure the monster to its destruction by using her as bait in an abandoned swimming pool, which itself takes place in the liminal space of an abandoned building after the crowds of students have gone home.
The Mist – The Mist (2007)
Based on a book by Stephen King, The Mist is part of the Stephen King multiverse, where different versions of Earth exist. In the Stephen King universe, the various earths are separated from each other by what King refers to as Todash Space, which is something like outer space, a largely empty and dark space between the worlds. Only Todash Space isn’t entirely empty. It’s full of horrifying monsters such as the ones seen in this movie after a military experiment opens a portal between it and this particular earth, very much like the Incursion seen in Doctor Strange’s movie.
The City and People of – Dark City(1998)
I don’t want to give away any spoilers but the entire movie is about trying to live in a space that isn’t really a space of its own. The Dark City of the title is a liminal space where the rules of physics do not apply, and even the people and their relationships are impermanent, including that of its lead character, John Doe, who must navigate his way from the center of the city to its outer edges, while being pursued by mysterious figures, in search of…himself. His journey is represented by the Fibonacci Spiral seen in the title sequence and throughout the film itself.
I know, I know! Normally I don’t pay any attention to the Oscars but this year I will because why not?
I’ve actually seen a number of the movies that were nominated and most of the movies are easily accessible for me to view them. There are only about three movies that are not readily viewable but I still hold tremendous respect for either the actors or the directors so have no objections to their nominations. This is not a list of nominees, btw. (I have a link to that below.) This is a list of movies I’d love to win in their respective categories and why I chose them, along with which movies should have been included in that category but weren’t.
Will I watch the Oscars this year? I don’t know. Maybe. I didn’t watch last year’s much more spectacular episode, so it very much depends on how I feel or what I’m doing on the night in question. I hope there is not a repeat of what happened last year although Jimmy Kimmel is NOT a particularly funny man and I’m not looking forward to watching two or three hours of his horrible jokes. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when movies I like win awards, but I’m not that heavily invested and most years I just check to see who won after it’s all over.
Okay first up, the biggest snubs of last year:
Till – Neither the movie nor its Black female director was recognized by the Academy.
MEN – Should have been nominated in the Sound category. The movie sounds gorgeous and it’s also not too bad in the Original Score category.
The Woman King – Should have been nominated in the category of Best Picture and Gina Prince-Bythewood for Best Director (rather than the usual boys club we got for Director.)
Nope – Should have at least been nominated in the Sound, Editing, or Cinematography categories, or even for original Screenplay. Jordan Peele deserves some kind of recognition for this movie.
She Said – This should’ve been nominated for Best Screenplay and Maria Schrader should have gotten a nod in the Best Director category.
The Northman – This is another movie that could have been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay or at least for its Cinematography.
Now, on to my favorites:
Everything Everywhere All At Once – I don’t think I can express just how meaningful this movie was for so many people and that needs to be recognized in some way. The cinematography was superb, the acting was phenomenal and the writing was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a movie that made me cry and laugh from one moment to the next and had some beautiful messages in it. I think this one will become one of those cult classics people talk about for decades.
The Daniels for Everything Everywhere All At Once – They did an incredible job on this film. I love Spielberg, and he is who will probably win, but it is The Daniels who truly deserve to be recognized in some manner.
The Awards season has two major comeback actors, Brendan Fraser, and Ke Huy Quan. Ke is not nominated in this category but Fraser I feel deserves all the honors here. I am not as familiar with his action adventure and comedy work as I am with his dramatic works. I know him as an incredible dramatic actor who deserves recognition for his role in The Whale.
Michelle Yeoh – It’s not that the other actresses in this category don’t deserve this nomination but I’ve been following Michelle’s career since the early 90s when she starred in a movie with Maggie Cheung called The Heroic Trio. So yeah, I am a very long time fan of her work and I just want her to win this because it would be the culmination of a very very long journey for her.
Best Supporting Actor
Ke Huy Quan – Words cannot express how much everyone’s embrace and remembrance of this actor means to him, I think. I’m also surprised at the sheer outpouring of love and affection the world is showing for this actor. Also, I just want him to win because it would be an incredibly beautiful story of dreams fulfilled and I know his Oscar speech is gonna kill it!
Best Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett – I think she should win because Angela has been bringing her A-game since the beginning of her career and she deserves that recognition. Wakanda Forever is one of the first MCU films to be recognized in this category, and Basset just tore it up in her role as Queen Ramonda. That speech she gives at the beginning of the movie gave me chills.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Glass Onion – This is one of the most fun movies released last year. I was one of those people who was mad a Rian Johnson for what he did to the Star Wars franchise but I can forgive him for that after watching this movie. It’s just so much fun, filled with so many Easter eggs, messages, and layers, and yet it still manages to be light-hearted and not so deep it cannot be enjoyed in a superficial manner. This was just a well-written film.
Best Original Screenplay
The Banshees of Inisherin – This movie definitely got me in my feels. I know I said other movies should have been nominated in this category but this is what we go so this is what I’m picking. I suppose I’m going to have to talk about this movie at some point because it’s a lot deeper than it at first appears, and its message, about two friends who have a falling out because one of them simply doesn’t want to be friends anymore, may not be as pessimistic as it seems.
Best Animated Feature Film
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio – There’s nothing deep about my choice here. I haven’t even finished watching this movie. I just want Guillermo to win every award he gets nominated for because I love his work. This is an easy choice to make.
Best International Film
I haven’t watched any of the films in this category, so I have nothing to pick. I’ve only heard about a couple of them by rough description.
Best Documentary Feature
The only movie I heard of in this category was Fire of Love, which I have not seen, so I can’t actually pick anything. I would have preferred that the documentary, Use of Force, about police brutality in the US, be in the nominations, but I guess either no one saw it, it just didn’t get enough votes, or maybe it was just too damn depressing.
Best Film Editing
Everything Everywhere All At Once – Of course, I picked this film! And yes, it was very well edited.
I have such tremendous respect for all the movies in this category, I simply couldn’t pick just one of them. These are all beautiful-looking films that I have, unfortunately, only watched the trailers for. I hope to watch all of these before the Oscars air, and I want to see all of them, but the ones I’m most looking forward to right now are Bardo and Tar.
Best Costume Design
Ruth Carter – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Ruth Carter has won for the first film so why not give her this one too? Surely her costuming skills have not degraded since the first film? Bassett’s wardrobe in this movie was giving me life. We also got to see some nifty new costumes for the Dora Milaje. and the costumes for the Namor’s people (most especially Namora) were stupefyingly gorgeous! Ruth Carter is a fashion genius.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Of course, Ruth Carter deserves this one too.
Best Music (Original Song)
Lift Me Up – Rihanna (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Best Music (Original Score)
The Banshees of Inisherin – The music does a lot of work illuminating the mood of this film.
The Batman – This is one of my favorite scenes!
Best Visual Effects
This was another category where I couldn’t choose just one although I am leaning in the direction of either Avatar or Wakanda Forever, even though the other films they are up against are not slacking as far as imagination.
[There are a lot more categories than the ones I listed here, but wasn’t, because I wasn’t especially invested in the winner or didn’t know enough about the category to become invested.]
New trailers just dropped for movies being released next year. Later I’ll post a full list of my most hotly anticipated movies and series for next year.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
I found myself really excited by this video. I checked out of the Transformers franchise after the first two films because they just became increasingly awful to watch. Michael Bay was definitely getting on my nerves, but the franchise regained my attention with Bumblebee, consequently, that’s now my favorite character.
Admittedly, I was not there for the Beast Wars saga, so I don’t know much about it, because I was elsewhere doing other things. I heard about it, though. I know only a handful of characters in this movie (Mirage and Optimus Primal) but not who else. Still, the nostalgia factor is pretty big with this one and it was really nice to see so many grown-ass men being childishly excited about this movie on YouTube! The trailer looks really good. Hopefully, the creators can keep the momentum they began with Bumblebee. Will I go see it in the theater? Idk. It depends on what else is being released that month because June is a lot!
Yeah, Optimus Primal is being voiced by none other than Ron Perlman.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
This movie’s nostalgia factor hit me pretty hard. I probably will not go see this movie, not because I don’t love Indy but because there are three other movies coming out in June I want to see, and this one falls low on that list. I do not have limitless movie theater money, so Indie, I’m afraid, is going to lose. Sorry Indy, I will wait for it to reach streaming services.
This looks really exciting though and if you guys go see it, write something down, tell us all about it.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3
I’m really looking forward to this movie. I enjoyed the last move and the holiday special a lot, and I like spending time with this group of goofballs. There’s not really a nostalgia factor here but it will be interesting to get rocket’s backstory, and it’s nice to see Gamora (or at least an alternate-universe version of her) again. I’m still not a fan of Chris Pratt (he is after all the least likable Chris) but his acting isn’t bad, and he’s not so awful I cannot tolerate him in a film with a bunch of other great and funny characters.
I really, really, liked this trailer which is a great introduction to this world and its rules. I’m not really into the forbidden romance angle of the story, but I do like the easy Jazz music of the teaser. Everyone who saw this trailer was quick to point out how she is the only Elemental on the train who is made of fire and noting the different interactions between the Elementals. So the creators have already set up how these characters interact, have both negative and positive effects on each other’s existences, and why the fire elementals might not be included. I’m probably not going to the theater to see this one though because…Summer.
This is one of those ridiculous comedies that get released every few years. This one is about a bear that gets high on a stash of cocaine that some criminals lose in the woods, and I’m not going to see this but Hey, if this is your bag, go for it!
I’m gonna be honest, while I’m “mildly” excited to watch this, I don’t know that I’d shell out the money to go see this movie in a theater. Due to family issues beyond my control, I would have to watch this alone. Some movies are good for watching alone, but this one isn’t. It looks like a lot of weird fun that you share with your buddies.
I’m mostly interested in seeing Jonathan Majors’ giant screen breakthrough because I really really like him, I’ve heard that the character he’s portraying, Kang the Conqueror, is a huge Billy Bad Ass in the Marvel Universe, and because this movie kicks off one of the multiple plot threads of this new phase of the MCU, The MultiversalWar. Each movie after this one will be a piece of that story introducing us to alternate universes and other realms of consciousness and existence, like the Quantum universe in this movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2.5: Christmas Special
This movie looks like so much fun. Unlike the many fanboys who insist on complaining about the direction of the MCU, it seems that I actually do have a sense of humor. I love the MCU comedies, and I do not understand why all the MCU movies must be dark and deadly serious all the time in order to be taken seriously. I love the direction in which Thor was taken. I thought it was great fun and definitely better than the emotional slog that was Thor 2. Sometimes you don’t need or want great cinema, you just want the creators to lean into the craziness of whatever you’re watching.
Guardians of the Galaxy has been something of a comedy from the beginning, mostly because of the nature of the characters, and that last movie and this new one just sort of lean into it a little bit more. I’m looking forward to this one more than the Antman sequel because I really like spending time with all these deeply funny goofy people, and I’m glad that the creators and writers are just fearlessly leaning into the sheer batshittery of this part of the universe, because C’mon! Really!
I’m just coming off the finale of the Interview With the Vampire series which I’m going to have to talk about at some point because Wow! so, I’m really in a good place mentally to feel excited about seeing more Black men in wigs and stockings! It’s one thing to see Black and Indian women doing the whole ballgown movie thing, but we don’t often get to see Black men in these roles unless it involves Shakespeare or playing a servant.
I love the look of this film, and there’s the added attraction of it being based on a true story, that of a French Caribbean composer named Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Joseph Bologne. I’m a sucker for beautiful costumes, beautiful music, and sword fighting, and you throw in some Black people and I’m in, I guess!
John Wick 4
I just had the most interesting discussion about this movie with my co-worker, who said she had a real problem suspending her disbelief while watching these movies and kept getting pulled out of the film. I told her I didn’t have that problem because it never even occurred to me what I saw as taking place in a world like this one with the same political and systemic setup. I had always viewed this franchise as taking place in some kind of fantasy alternate universe, where you can just be riding through the streets of downtown New York with swords and guns and not one person would blink an eye at it.
This is what I mean when I say that whatever your mindset is when you start to watch a movie will probably determine how you’ll feel after having seen it. Anyway, this looks great and I’m eager to sit down in a theater with some popcorn and enjoy two hours of sheer Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Sanada mayhem!
This looks like such wild and crazy fun that I just have to see this. This is definitely one of those movies that you can go see by yourself at the theater. I don’t know that I’ll do that but it’s an option. It looks like a Christmas version of a John Wick movie except it’s Santa Claus using magic and probably some guns which I know all of you must be excited about as well.
Still don’t know what to make of this but I will not have to go to the movie theater to see it. I can just watch this, whatever this is, at home on Netflix. I like most of the actors here and quite frankly I was going to watch any movie that starred Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig because these are not actors’ names that one tends to think of as being together. This also looks to be more comedic than the first film, which I didn’t think was especially funny, but apparently, that’s just a me thing.
For some reason, I’ve been watching a lot of comedy mysteries this year. I just came off the Hercule Poirot movies, The Orient Express, and Death on the Nile, and I will probably be watching See How They Run this weekend. I don’t normally gravitate to period mysteries. I’m not opposed to them or dislike them or anything. They’re just not the sort of movies I tend to gravitate to, so when I get the urge to do so, I flow with it.
Maybe I’ll Watch These
Bones and All
I’m not sure I’m in the mood to watch anything dealing with cannibals but I’m willing to watch this if it’s streaming. If it’s in the theater then it’s out of luck. I’m not spending a bunch of money to see this, although it seems intriguing.
Yeah, this is a movie that’s just going to be watched via streaming only. This is not the kind of movie I would ever watch in a theater. I mean, Kung Fu movies are meant to be watched in the house, with popcorn and a remote.
Warriors of the Future
Fortunately, this is a Netflix jam so I don’t have to spend money on my curiosity about it. Okay, it really doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of fun, in the sense that it’s intentionally funny, but it does look thrilling and action-packed, so I guess that’s a kind of fun.
And Movies I’m Not Watching
I didn’t care too much for the White Saviorism of the first movie. In fact, I found that movie infuriating in a way that I didn’t for movies like The Last Samurai, or Dances with Wolves. I’m not arguing about how beautiful it is but I think I’m gonna wait to watch this next year on some streaming service. Since my niece and nephew aren’t going to be with me, and this is really the kind of movie one watches with a group of people, I’m unlikely to see it in a theater anyway.
I do not have any particular need or desire to spend money to see this. Plus this looks like one of those movies where there’s going to be a lot of crying. I’m really glad Brendan Frasier has made this return to making movies. I missed him, and this actually looks alright, but I’ll catch this on streaming.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
I’m not going to sully my memories of Whitney Houston with a biopic. I just can’t do it.
This movie is probably going to blow up once it comes out becomes it looks unintentionally hilarious and there are already a bunch of memes about it! I’m not paying money to watch what is essentially a killer-doll movie, but I’ll go see it my sister pays for my ticket because this seems like the kind of thing she’d attach herself to.
I still do not understand after all these killer doll movies why anyone would ever build life-size killer robots that look virtually indistinguishable from an actual person. I don’t understand the plots of movies like Bladerunner and stuff where that kind of thing happens. Why would human beings still be doing that? Have we learned nothing?!!! On the other hand, this could just be an American thing because the Japanese build life-size robots all the time and they don’t ever seem to have this problem with the robots trying to merc people.
Here’s a slightly different list from the last one which mostly consisted of movies I didn’t like or didn’t finish, either because they were just bad films, or I had no patience for them. This is a list of movies I actually like. They’re perfectly acceptable and watchable movies where I liked the characters, the plot, and it looks good, but I feel no great urge to watch these again because they were emotionally exhausting, too disturbing, or genuinely too scary, at least they were for me!
Stick with me here because there’s a story that goes along with this movie. Yeah, I do have really bad arachnophobia and have had it since I was a little girl. I was the kind of person who used to look for signs of spiders in any new space I walked into. (I have since calmed down about this over the years, though.) The way my memory works I can actually recount the incident that gave me this issue ( but we not gonna talk about that). I can talk about the event that happened to me when I was in college and before this movie was released. I know it happened in that order because after I came home from college was when I saw the trailer, and my Mom would tease me about being scared to watch it. She seemed to enjoy the movie a lot, thought it was pretty funny, and wanted to share this scary movie with me, but I’m one of those (stubborn muth*fck*s is what a friend once called me) who, once she makes it up in her head to NOT do something, I don’t do it!
I was in living in a very nice house one Summer vacation. I was working at the time, but I was also in the house alone because my roommates had all gone home, and I was sitting in my room, lights and TV on, when I saw a tiny little speck near my lamp. It was not a little speck, it was a tiny spider. Yep, I had a spider egg hatch in my bedroom.
To say that I freaked the f*ck out would be an understatement! I was a hot emotional mess for a week! Luckily, I had some of the world’s greatest friends who, once they understood what the hell I was jibbering about, helped me smoke bomb my bedroom (twice) and cleaned and moved all my belongings to another part of the house. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but I was at least able to relax long enough to fall into an exhausted sleep in my own bed after two days of emotional hell. Well, my friends didn’t mock me, kept their smiling to a minimum, and seemed happy to help a damsel in distress.
Mom knew about the spider incident and understood my attitude, but she always encouraged me to move past my fears because if I didn’t at least try they would always control me. (This is from the woman who apparently had some kind of phobia about boats and New York City! What was all that about?!) Eventually, I did agree to sit down and watch it with her, with a bunch of caveats and addendums, like leaving the room if I got too scared, squealing as much as I liked, and covering my eyes if necessary. I got through the first half okay, but covered my eyes and squealed a lot for the last thirty minutes. I didn’t leave the room though, so technically speaking, I did sit through it.
And you know what? It turned out not to be a bad movie although I have not watched it again in the twenty-plus years since then, and I have no plans to watch it again in the future. Personally, I consider sitting through that movie to be one of the bravest moments in all of cinematic history!
I was not particularly weirded out by the title or the synopsis of this movie. The thumbnail of the movie on Google looked intriguing. So I sat down to watch this with the idea that it would be your typical Lovecraftian pastiche of images culled from his works and got something I wasn’t at all expecting. I more or less understood the film’s plot, and what it was trying to do, but I didn’t expect bizarre nameless cults (although I should have) body horror images (I should have expected that too), and a kind of monster siege, working the night shift sort of film, where everyone dies horribly, except when they don’t stay dead.
It’s easy enough to describe the movie, but any description you give it won’t actually resemble the movie you will be watching, but I’m gonna give it a try. There’s a bunch of people stuck in a hospital on the night shift, only a few of whom are actually medical personnel. The rest are random townsfolk who are trapped in the hospital because some oddly dressed cultists besieged the town and were killing people, so the rest ran to the hospital. There are some weird medical experiments going on in the basement that involve the birth of an infernal creature from a young girl, the opening of Hellish portals, and lots of goo, blood, guts, and some tentacles.
That was as much as I understood, but that doesn’t mean the movie is ineffective. I’ve no great urge to watch it again because it was a genuinely disturbing film whose effect lingers long after it’s over, and I don’t have to watch it again because I clearly remember how uncomfortable I felt while looking at it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because there are movies that do this that I have re-watched, and if that is the kind of mood you’re looking for, then by all means, go for it, and tell me how it worked out for you.
Imma wait over here!
I generally like the works of Alex Garland, someone I didn’t pay any special attention to when his career began with The Beach in 2000. I didn’t even watch The Beach. I dismissed it. But then he came out with 28 Days later and I perked up. There was a new cinematic voice in Horror, and I’ve been present for most of his movies since, like Sunshine, Dredd, and Ex Machina. I sat through most of those without issue, and they were all very good, but in 2018 Garland released Annihilation, based on the book by another of my favorite artists, Jeff Vendermeer. When I heard about the movie I decided to read the three-book series, and I enjoyed them, for the most part.
The movie combines all three books of the series into one long story with yet another Lovecraftian theme. A section of the US has been taken over by something called The Shimmer. Elena’s husband went into The Shimmer, which warps biology, and he disappeared. Except he also came back, alone. Intrigued, she and a team of 4 other women go into The Shimmer to explore its purpose, with each woman having her own agenda. Elena wants to find out what happened to her husband. Each of the women find some thing they weren’t expecting which has a profound effect on the rest of their lives.
There are some genuinely panstshittingly frightening moments in this film, like when Elena and her team are attacked by a mutated bear that screams with the voices of the people it’s killed, but beyond that the movie is just weird, and sad, and yeah, there’s that word again, disturbing. It’s not a bad film. I actually like the film. It’s also not particularly hard to watch because it contains some genuine moments of true beauty. But it is another movie where the mood and flavor of it linger long after it’s over, and I have not been in the headspace to be able to watch it.
I will likely watch this again at some point in the future, because it is an effective, thoughtful, and terrifying film, but not yet.
Honestly, this is a great survival horror film, and if you like those types of films you should by all means watch this, but be prepared to feel as if you’ve been emotionally defenestrated in the aftermath. This movie is exhausting on a physical level, too. I just felt wrung out after watching this.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy the movie is based on the true story of a man (DiCaprio) who was left for dead in the wilderness by his business partner, (Tom Hardy) who, after killing DiCaprio’s son, went back to the nearest town and made the claim on his half of their business dealings, only to have his partner stumble out of the wilderness several weeks later.
For some reason the most distressing movies for me seem to involve bear attacks, although I do not think I have any kind of bear phobia. DiCaprio’s character braves the worst excesses of trying to survive an environment that is inimical to human life, like snow, freezing water, wild animals, lack of food, and angry Indigenous people, just to enact vengeance on his partner.
This movie just slaps the shit out of you emotionally. Well, it did that for me, but your mileage may vary depending on how much energy reserves you possess. This is another excellent film with great acting, cinematography, and a very compelling story that I will probably never watch again. Or if I do, I’m going to need to rest up, eat my vitamins, and do my breathing first.
Oh man was this movie hard to watch, and not because of the monsters. I don’t actually have claustrophobia but this movie might give it to you if you don’t. It’s a harrowing film. I was exhausted and saddened after watching it. The most devastating moment isn’t the deaths at the beginning of the film but something that happens midway through it that completely upends the relationships between the rest of the characters.
A team of women friends decide to go caving in a previously unexplored system after the death of the main character’s husband and child in a driving accident the previous year. The team are attacked by a race of terrifying cannibalistic mutants and taken out one by one until there’s only one of them left. There’s plenty of blood and gore, but that’s not what upset me the most, and no spoilers, but it’s about the characters, comes completely out of left field, changes everyone’s dynamic, and therefore their chances of survival.
It’s a very effective film. I don’t often mind when films do the unexpected or throw something at me out of the blue, especially when it’s as well done as it was here. I didn’t choose these movies because I disliked them. I chose them because I liked them. Some of them are great films, but were so emotionally draining I simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth to put myself through them again anytime soon.
I love Horror movies but believe it or not Even I draw the line at watching some stuff. I prefer Creature Features which are comedies above all other types of Horror, and I can and will get into some straight Psychological Horror. Some things don’t particularly interest me, though I will watch them on occasion, like ghosts, haunted mansions, or most Slasher films. I draw the line at Torture Porn and movies like The Human Centipede which aren’t scary to me. They’re just nasty, and yes, there is a difference. There are different types of scary movies, some of which are very enjoyable, almost fun, like Tremors, The Mist, or even movies like Halloween, but some movies are scary but not enjoyably so. Not because they are serious films but because they’re depressing or raise my anxiety levels too high to be a fun experience. For example, I have fire-fear, so any movies that heavily involve flames (or nuclear annihilation) are super upsetting for me, and I just can’t watch them.
That said, there are a few movies that are simply too scary for me to watch more than once. Here are five movies (and one extra) that I didn’t want or need to watch a second time.
I was so incredibly creeped out by this movie that I’ve been reluctant to watch it ever since. For some reason, this is a movie that just awakens all the feels. Coraline’s exasperation with her negligent parents, and her reticence around her weird neighbors, I didn’t even like the little cat…there’s just something about the animation style that just ups the creep factor for me, probably because I’ve always associated stop-motion with those Ray Harryhausen Horror movies.
Yes, I know it’s a children’s film. Yes, I know it’s an animated movie, but for me, Coraline is still one of the most hardcore scariest animated films I’ve ever watched. There’s the dread factor for one thing. Just like Coraline, you know the Other World is just a little too good to be true, and you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, so the idea that the Other Mother is a brutal predator that lures young kids into her world by offering them the thing they most want: loving parents who dote on them, is not actually surprising. You were kind of expecting things to go horribly wrong and it’s the anticipation of that wrongness that makes the movie scary.
When Coraline first meets The Other Mother, she essentially gets love-bombed by a giant spider-adjacent creature that is only pretending to care about her so she can use her for food, which all sounds pretty terrifying to me. I do like that Coraline manages to keep her head to a certain degree. She never completely succumbs to the allure of the Other World, continues to question what’s going on around her, and like me, she is firmly committed to the idea that buttons for eyes are a very nasty bit of body Horror.
I think I talked about this movie before and how I tried to watch this movie late one night a few years ago and spent the next several days having paranoid jitters and being unwilling to turn off the lights in my bedroom. Decades later and I still think this movie is simply pants-shittingly frightening! On the surface, it doesn’t seem all that scary, but I also mentioned I’ve got issues with the idea of sentient slime that actively hunts its prey and this is what The H-Man is all about.
The H stands for Hydrogen, as in the Hydrogen bomb which is what the Atomic bomb was first called when it was invented. The H-Man is the result of nuclear energy mutating human beings into sentient runny snot creatures, that are vaguely humanoid in shape, which is even more frightening. What’s even worse is that I read a theory a few years ago that suggested that the creatures might not even be malevolent or hungry, that in approaching people they are trying to get help for their condition. I’m not sure I believe that theory but it is still a very nasty idea.
The creatures definitely look like they’re hunting people on purpose though, and they rely on a certain amount of confusion and deception to do it. Worst than the victims who don’t know the creatures are there at all, are those poor victims who don’t see them and just walk right into them! Or the ones that do see them, have no f*cking idea what they’re looking at, and don’t run away (which isn’t going to save them anyway because the creatures are silent and sneaky).
I only needed to watch this movie one time. This movie is a hellish f*cking nightmare. It’s not because the movie is so incredibly frightening, although that is a small part of it, it’s just once you know where the story has gone, and what it meant, there’s no point in ever subjecting yourself to it again. The entire story is so dark and depressing that I just didn’t have the heart to watch it again.
It is an interesting demonic possession film, which is something I haven’t seen since The Exorcist. I avoid most such films because they’re usually just thinly veiled retreads of The Exorcist anyway, but this movie avoids all the common tropes of bodily contortions and women screaming at crosses, for something a lot more subtle, that the viewer has to slowly piece together from the clues given to them, and once they reach that conclusion they realize this movie was NEVER going to have a happy ending for any of the characters. Also, there are people on fire and I don’t like that!
The first time I heard of this was as a short film on Youtube which definitely creeped me out. It’s about a creature that can only be seen and felt in darkness. She (her name is Diana) only appears when you turn off the lights. I feel like the movie was less effective than the short film, but hey! it was still pretty effective. It’s the idea that darkness hides evil things, and the movie preys on your childhood fears of trying to hop into (or out of) the bed without letting the thing under it grab your ankle after you’ve turned off the light, or reaching around the edge of a door to flip a light switch and being terrified that something might touch your hand.
I had no intention of watching the movie after seeing the short film, but I thought I would be clever by watching it on one sunny Saturday afternoon thinking to myself, how scared could I get in the daytime? Well, I got plenty scared to the point where I didn’t want to sleep with the lights off that night.
It’s not so much that this was scary, although it was, but it was definitely too much for me and I didn’t even get halfway through it before I just quit. It’s a bit of a cross between a zombie movie and a demonic possession film. People who contract an airborne disease become unrelentingly sadistic, willing to torture and kill their neighbors in a sudden fit of violence.
This movie is so incredibly, over-the-top violent that I just couldn’t sit through it and, I really thought I was up to the task when I sat down. It is a hot mess of torture and gore and I’m not into gore simply for its own sake which is what parts of this movie turned out to be. But part of the problem was also that the two leads were very sympathetic characters that I genuinely liked, and it was really hard to watch the two of them try to survive the events of this movie, and I simply couldn’t bear to watch them go through so much pf the pain and trauma I was witnessing in this film, so I quit.
Ju-On was not my first brush with J-Horror but it was the first Japanese Horror movie that I took seriously. Most Japanese Horror movies that I saw before this were just funny or simply uninteresting but this was genuinely frightening for me. Because it’s Japanese I didn’t have any of the usual Western tropes to fall back on in interpreting what any of the images meant. As a result, I had no f*cking clue what was happening, and in some cases didn’t even know what to think about what I was seeing other than “Well shit!!!”
I have watched this movie exactly twice though and could make no more sense of it than the first time I saw it. Don’t get me wrong. I can discern the plot and I get what was happening from it, but most of the time it’s just a succession of terribly frightening images, and the characters can’t seem to do anything to help their situation, so the movie is pretty bleak. I have an aversion to movies like The Ring and Cujo where the characters have so little recourse to correct their situation. There’s little to nothing they can do to fix the situation they’re in and just have to suffer through it, and the idea that they are trapped by their circumstances or the villain is something that really bothers me.
(This particular list of Japanese Horror movies also contains the movie Ringu, another movie I will probably not watch again. Once was more than enough.)
Halloween Ends is the last movie in the David Gordon Green trilogy. It streamed on Peacock this past weekend and I have some thoughts.
From the beginning, I’ve always thought of the Halloween franchise (at least the first two films, and a couple of the sequels) as not just an analysis of the continuing (and now, generational) trauma of its Final Girl, Laurie Strode, but as a statement on suburban America itself. I wrote about how and why the suburbs were created in Starring the Landscape: The Suburbs, and how I saw the Halloween films as an indictment of a lifestyle that was formed out of fear of the other (the Blackness/multiculturalism of the cities). White people in the suburbs spent their lives in fear that the evil of the cities would invade their communities, and we can see this in the endless number of “bucolic community” invasion films of the 80s, the rampant rumors that sprang up during the BLM protests of crowds of angry Black people burning and looting suburban neighborhoods, and in the proliferation of guns in those communities because of an unfounded terror of (Black) home invasions.
I think what Halloween and other Slasher films, like Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street, were saying is that evil is created within these communities, that it is not something that can be run from because it is part of the human condition, people carry those seeds with them no matter where they flee, and that sometimes evil isn’t just born in such environments, but will keep returning to haunt them until it is properly dealt with. Such is the case in these films, where every few years, as if in some vicious cycle, Michael Myers, an evil created and nurtured in the suburban community of Haddonfield, arrives to terrorize and destroy the lives of its inhabitants.
Forty years ago Laurie Strode suffered tremendous loss and trauma as all her friends were hunted and killed by Michael Myers and she was terrorized for hours while trying to safeguard the children she was babysitting that night.
In the first movie of this trilogy, the 2018 Halloween, Myers returns to Haddonfield to begin that night’s killing spree and Laurie, suffering from PTSD and paranoia for four decades has been getting ready for him. She knows that he will inevitably come hunting her. She raised her daughter, Karen to be just as paranoid in defending her life, and outfitted her home with traps to capture and kill Michael. The first movie, ignoring all the sequels and remakes in the last forty years, is about Laurie and her family dealing with that long ago trauma, and how the only thing that can help her get past her pain is the cathartic destruction of Michael Myers. This movie and its follower, Halloween Kills, are about survivors and grief.
The second film, Halloween Kills, is a continuation of the first film on that same night, only here it’s about the cyclical trauma Haddonfield itself, the nature of evil, and how that evil is born in communities like it and features many of the characters who survived the 1978 film. This time they decide to fight back too, in support of Laurie, and they hunt Michael through the streets of Haddonfield, which gets most of them killed, and results in the death of an innocent man accused of being him. One sign of the evil within the community is their willingness (out of fear and hatred) to engage in the same behavior that they condemn Michael for, and an innocent man pays the price. Although their fear and hatred of Michael are justified, it is still the resident’s willingness to kill that’s a symptom of the dark underbelly within such communities. This is a plot that also has parallels in The Nightmare on Elm Street series, where the child killer, Freddie Krueger, is the end result of the decision made by their parents to kill the predator who was preying on the children in their community. It’s not the residents of Haddonfield’s motivation that is at issue but their willingness to engage in mob justice that is a sign of the community’s inner darkness.
Halloween Ends is a continuation of the idea that small towns and suburbs harbor and produce evil. I know other people were watching this movie with the idea of clocking the body count, or how long and hard the fight would be between Laurie and Michael, and who would win, but that’s not the focus of this movie, and if that’s what you’re looking for then you may be disappointed. This movie is a bit more philosophical and quieter than some people might like it to be.
The story picks up four years later, and we have come full circle as Laurie while writing her memoir, is still recovering emotionally from the events of Halloween Kills, when Michael returned to Haddonfield and killed nearly three dozen people, along with her daughter Karen. She has decided not to live in the prison of paranoia and anger that ruled her life for so many decades while raising her granddaughter Allyson and mending their relationship.
But, because evil never dies, we find out that Michael has not left Haddonfield at all, and has been living in the sewers while recovering from the damage that was inflicted on him four years ago. His presence is discovered by a bullied young man named Corey whom the townsfolk accused of killing a young boy under his charge on the night of Michael’s rampage. Corey is a volatile and angry young man who isn’t killed by Michael but adopts Michael’s mask and goes on a killing spree of his own in Michael’s stead, such is how evil is passed on to the next generation. He and Allyson develop a relationship that threatens to destroy her and Laurie’s emotional recovery and while trying to protect Allyson from herself and Corey, Laurie eventually interacts with Michael again by the end of the movie.
There’s plenty of killing in the film, just not done by Michael, and the confrontation between Laurie and Michael is relegated to the end of the movie almost as an afterthought since it’s almost a given who will win the fight. Just as in Halloween Kills, where Laurie mostly sat out the plot so the writers could make their point, Michael mostly sits this one out. The theme here isn’t just that evil is born from the town’s secrets, but is actively created by the town’s treatment of people whom they believe have trespassed against conformity, like Corey, or the mentally unstable man the residents hounded to his suicide in the last film after he was wrongly accused of being Myers.
Corey is the much-put-upon town scapegoat. He is bullied by the students at his school because of his reputation as a monster, also by his angry and overbearing mother, and he is responsible for most of the deaths in the movie as he decides, after meeting Michael, (who unexpectedly lets him live), that he is tired of the town’s judgment of him and is going to live down to his reputation. Accompanied by Allyson (who is unaware of what he’s been doing) he goes on a killing spree that includes the town bullies, his parents, and several bystanders before he confronts Laurie, who shoots him. In a last-ditch attempt to sabotage Laurie’s relationship with Allyson, (which has been heavily frayed throughout the movie), he makes it look like Laurie stabbed him when Allyson comes home.
Allyson and Corey form a bond because she finds him attractive and he is able to prey on her fears and disappointments about living in Haddonfield. Something in his darkness speaks to the secrets that she has been withholding from her grandmother, and her reaction to Laurie’s distrust of Corey tells us that she isn’t as healed from the trauma of losing her mother as she seemed. Like Laurie did at the same age, she lost her boyfriend, most of her friends, and most of her family, and she has not dealt with the fallout of so much loss, while Laurie still healing from her own pain, has somewhat neglected Allyson’s, which allowed Corey to twist that trauma into anger at her grandmother.
In the end, it is Laurie who survives their last fight, but Michael’s death (for real this time and from which there is absolutely no coming back) is a cathartic affair for the entire town, who join her in the final destruction of his body. Allyson realizes that part of her healing means leaving Haddonfield, but she is not fleeing from her trauma, as she would have if she had eloped with Corey, but moving towards a possible future where she is not shackled to the town’s secrets, and Laurie expresses her healing by finally opening herself up to having new friends (and a possible relationship with the town sheriff).
Although I didn’t like the direction of this film at first, I am satisfied with this ending, which was a lot more contemplative than I thought it would be, and shows that David Gordon Green had a clear agenda in telling the story in the manner in which he did. It really felt like an end, like Laurie’s nightmare (and that of Haddonfield’s) is finally over, and it puts Halloween Kills, a film I was somewhat disappointed by, in a new light. When watched individually the films do leave something to be desired, but taken as a whole I feel the trilogy was successful in keeping the point of its themes, in ending Haddonfield and Laurie’s story on a positive note, with more than enough gore and killing to satisfy most Slasher film fans.
***Once again, I appear to be in the minority in liking this film. I didn’t love it, but it is a decent conclusion, and taken as a whole, I feel it’s a good trilogy. I’ve also observed that most people (the vast majority of the ones talking about it are white men who only want to see people dying horribly) are not looking at it as one part of a whole and that many of them have completely missed the point of the trilogy entirely. Nobody seems to see this movie the way I did. I feel that it’s a decent standalone movie but it must be taken into account as part of a trilogy and understood in that light since that was how it was filmed. Perhaps when more people go back and watch all three movies in succession they will see what David Gordon Green was trying to do, and be willing to defend his vision.
I stumbled across an entire series of these terrifying TikTok videos recently ,and by terrifying I mean it’s probably not a good idea to watch these late at night. But…during the day they might seem pretty funny, and are a great illustration of how comedy and horror are two sides of the same coin.
One of the reasons I love horror comedies so much is, as has been said before, horror is comedy without the punchline. It’s also been said that what horror and comedy have in common is the overturning of an expectation. You either laugh or jump based on what you expect to happen, so I hope you enjoy these videos (if that’s a word that can be used here), as much as I did.
TikTok Nightmare Creatures Compilation
Sometimes expectations are overturned in some very surprising ways. I really enjoyed this video. In fact, I loved it and would enjoy seeing a movie made from it.
I Live Here Too
Some videos aren’t exactly horror but they are mysterious and disturbing like this early one from Denis Villenueve, the director of Dune and Bladerunner 2049. What exactly is going on here? What is the point of it?
I kept stumbling across horror animations by the grickle and thought I’d choose one of my favorites for this post. For the record, I have never liked nor understood the purpose of lawn gnomes.
The Hidden People
Sometimes something is much more comedy than horror. This is from the same group that brought you the slasher boy band, The Merkins. I could not stop laughing at this because I love the first two Predator movies and I used to watch this other show late in the evening, about a journalist who would trick child predators into being interviewed (and sometimes arrested) on live television.
To Catch A Predator
As funny as the previous video is, this one is my personal favorite for this Halloween combining two of my favorite things, The Exorcist movie, and candy.
I started off the month of October by easing into the Horror movie genre with some classic favorites like Alien and The Thing, but at a certain point it was time for me to move on and try new movies and shows (see my review of Interview with the Vampire on AMC) and these are some of the new shows I watched just this weekend. I enjoyed all of these and want to give a quick rundown on what to expect if you come across them.
Let The Right One In – Epis. 1 (Showtime)
This is a new series on Showtime that’s based on the Swedish vampire movie Let The Right One In, about a child vampire that befriends a lonely bullied little boy who lives in her new apartment building.
This version is set in the US, so it’s a little more like the American version of the above film, titled Let Me In (which I also enjoyed for different reasons). The story has been modernized from the book version as well. In the book Ellie is a vampire that’s very, very old, she doesn’t know how old she is because her brain has not developed beyond twelve years old.
In this series, she has only just been turned into a vampire and she is traveling to different cities with her father, who is trying to find the vampire that attacked her based on if there are any serial killings going on in that city. At the same time, he’s trying to deal with her insatiable need for blood because he doesn’t want her attacking (and possibly creating) new vampires, which is what happens when a person gets bitten, but not killed, in this series version of vampirism.
Ellie meets a little black kid at her new apartment building, who is being ostracized and bullied in school (because I suspect he’s on the spectrum). I liked the boy whose name I cannot remember just now, but he loves magic tricks and loves to show them to people. Ellie is all set to eat him until he shows her a magic trick. She has eyes that glow in the dark, which fascinate him, and she tells him it’s magic, and that’s how the two bond. In the meantime, her father is responsible for a tragic event that is going to upheave her new friend’s life, and the cops are investigating the murders that her father is committing on Ellie’s behalf to get blood for her. You realize that her father is using the other murders as a cover for committing his own.
Ellie is very likable and the relationship with her actual father is the focus of the series, unlike in the movies where the focus is on the relationship with her new friend. In the movies, the man taking care of her isn’t her father, but some other little boy she met many decades ago who grew to adulthood as her human servant. Ellie and her dad are Latine, so I can’t help but think there’s some dialogue occurring here about immigrants and new situations, and people, but I’m not an immigrant or Latine so I can’t definitely say. Just like in the movies though, there’s a focus on the logistics of keeping Ellie fed because if he doesn’t, as a predator, she is perfectly capable of going out and procuring her own blood.
The first episode is free on Prime, but I’m not going to sign up for Showtime to watch the rest of this. It’s not a bad episode but there are a few too many coincidences that might not sit well with others. I can’t say it’s enjoyable, because it actually is too tense and suspenseful to be fun, but it makes a good effort to reproduce the feelings of melancholy and dread from both movies. It’s too convoluted to be truly scary. Scary needs to have a bit more mystery, and there are too many things that are explained in this episode, but the tension and dread are there though.
Werewolf by Night (Disney+)
I didn’t think I was going to be too heavily into this show, which is not a series as far as I can tell but just an hour-long Halloween special of some kind, based on the comic book of the same name, but it turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought. I thought I wouldn’t Ike it because it’s shot in black and white and some of the acting is in the old classic 30s style of filmmaking, but I slipped right into the story and had no trouble following what was going on. It was all good fun, and the fight scenes were excellent!
In this story, a group of monster hunters congregate to compete for a McGuffin called the Bloodstone, the only object in the show that’s shown in color. That’s it, really. The guy who owns the Bloodstone dies and holds a contest where the hunters are encouraged to take each other out (thereby eliminating their competition), while they’re also hunting a monster (a werewolf) who has been planted within the group.
You’re definitely going to feel some type of way about the participants because some of them look pretty cool, but you do become aware that these are probably not good people, and that there are certain characters you’re meant to root for. One of the biggest things that threw me off my game was seeing one Marvel character show up at the end of the show! If you’re aware of the history of Swamp Thing (who is a DC character) then you might also be aware that he was preceded by a Marvel character called The Man-Thing whose catchline in the comic books was: Whatever knows fear burns at the Man-Thing’s touch!
But that’s not the only easter egg for fans of Marvel comics, and series. I missed most of them because there was a lot of stuff I haven’t read, and a few series I skipped, but it was still fun even if you know nothing about the comic books or other shows. The plot and characters aren’t dependent on any of that stuff.
I’m not going to say what happens at the end, but it’s interesting because while some of the show is pretty predictable that part was not, and now I’m interested in seeing a lot more of this part of the Marvel universe which is basically a set up for adding demons, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures into the MCU, like Blade! I mostly ignored the monster parts of the Marvel comic books. I did read some of the Werewolf by Night comic books, and I’m familiar with a couple of demonic superheroes, but mostly I ignored all the vampires and demons and stuff. So this part of the MCU will kind of be new to me too.
This show isn’t especially scary but the fight scenes are pretty gory and brutal, alleviated by the aspect of a lack of color. I wouldn’t let little kids watch it but it’s okay for kids above twelve maybe, who are used to watching horror/action movies.
I was having some feelings about watching this one. In one aspect, I was eagerly looking forward to watching it, because I liked the first film in the franchise, have never watched a single one of the various sequels, and I was curious about the new Hell Priest being played by a woman. I’ve read all of the books about Pinhead and the Cenobites, including the comic books, and the last two Hellraiser books called The Scarlet Gospels, and The Toll and I enjoyed those.
The movie isn’t great, but it is very compelling and worth watching. If you’ve seen all the other movies in the franchise your mileage may vary, but I generally liked it and will watch it again when I’m in a mood.
The lead character is a flawed woman named Riley, a former drug addict/alcoholic living with her brother, his boyfriend, and another woman friend of theirs. She is the kind of woman who has a habit of making bad choices (probably as a way to run away from a tragic past which we don’t get details about) and one of those mistakes is having regular sex with a guy she just met. Through him, she gets mixed up in the machinations of the villain, a wealthy man who owned the Hellraiser box, got what he wished for, and now horribly regrets being given what he requested.
One of the primary themes of the Hellraiser franchise is people calling up the Cenobites, either through ignorance, or greed, and fucking around and finding out that the demons have nothing to give you that you would actually want to have and that anything they give you will only involve you suffering horribly. The only thing the Cenobites have to offer is one form of suffering or another, and it’s interesting to me that so many of the people who call on them think otherwise.
Through a combination of ignorance and reckless behavior the Cenobites take Riley’s brother, and she spends the rest of the movie trying to solve the puzzle in an effort to save him while sacrificing the people she knows along the way. The rules are that when she solves the final puzzle she will be given five or six themes from which to choose, and one of those is the resurrection of her brother. Riley makes a more interesting choice that shows her growth as a person, especially after all the death she has caused.
I genuinely liked this and feel it lived up to the standards of the original film, but then I can say that having watched not a single one of the movies beyond the second one. The new Hell Priest, Jamie Clayton, has a difficult job to do because, no matter what, she’s going to be compared to Doug Bradley, the original Pinhead, but I think she holds her own. She doesn’t possess his sheer gravity or his voice, but she is quietly, and frighteningly compelling in her own way (and oddly beautiful) and she does get to recite some favorite lines from the original film, making them her own.
The overriding theme is addiction and how far people are willing to go to feed one. Riley has been using addiction to run away from a painful past, and one of the primary reasons people call on the Cenobites in the first place is because many of them are suffering from various addictions and are greedy for more sensations, or are trying to escape from pain, which is ironic, but also makes Riley’s choice at the end even more interesting.
**If you are not into the Hellraiser movies this is not the place to start. We are talking extreme body horror, so if you have a problem with gore, this is not for you. I have friends who do not like Horror movies and I would never recommend something like this to them, not even jokingly. This movie is for hardcore Horror fans only.