Guess What? More New Trailers (Yay!!!)

Recently (as of last week) Netflix held what it called Geeked Week, and aired a bunch of new trailers for shows that it will be airing this year. Some of these don’t actually have dates, or just say they’re coming soon, and then there are the movie trailers that are still being released daily. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Black Adam

The first trailer was a tease of this one. Now I don’t know why we need to be teased about a real trailer that’s coming later, but this is what movie studios are doing now, so alright. I have to admit I know very little about Black Adam outside of him being an enemy of Shazam, with a lot of the same superpowers. I didn’t read any of the comic books which featured him, but I did read a few Justice Society books. The Justice Society is the DC version of The Avengers, I think, but I know more about some of the other characters than I know about him.

I’ve read a few of the Hawkman books (not a lot) but I’m excited about Aldous Hodge (from Leverage) as this character. I love that actor. I’ve read quite a number of books on Dr. Fate’s adventures though, and I never pictured a greying Pierce Brosnan as this character. Dr. Fate is sort of the DC version of Dr. Strange. (It doesn’t matter to me who came first at all.) I thought someone much younger would be chosen. The last Dr. Fate book I read starred a young Asian man as the new Fate, so I was kind of hoping for an Asian actor, but I see the casting company decided to go old-school for this particular iteration.

Well, it looks interesting. I don’t know that I’ll go to the theater to see this because I’m not overwhelmed or anything, but I like Dwayne, and the movie looks kinda fun, with plenty of adventure and explosions.

The Imperfects

Yeah, I never even heard of this until a few days ago and I don’t know any of the actors here. I’m not sure what to think of this yet. I will probably check out the first couple of episodes but only because it looks like a Horror version of a superhero movie. Once again this is just a teaser, so maybe after I see the full official trailer I might feel some type of way.

Wednesday Addams

Wednesday Addams is my spirit avatar (and that of a lot of other snarky young women, I imagine). I did watch the Youtube series that aired a few years ago, and that was a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to this version and I hope it’s good. I heard it’s going to be somewhat like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as she goes to live on her own, and fights various supernatural creatures. I like the look of the actress as she seems to have captured the attitude in just this brief glimpse. The actress is actually Latina as befits the daughter of Gomez Addams, and Morticia Addams, who are being played by two of my favorite Latine actors, Luis Guzman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones! Also Christina Ricci will be playing a character in the series, so YAY!!!

This too is just a teaser so when I see a full trailer my opinion may change, but I like this okay.

The Munsters

Wow, I don’t even…

I remember watching this television series as a child, and this Rob Zombie adaptation is so faithful to the original that it’s hilarious. I can tell that this is Rob’s love letter to a TV series that probably influenced his sensibilities for the rest of his life. Everything on the screen feels so authentic, from the makeup and costumes to the attitude, that I wonder how this is going to be different from the original. Once again, this is just Netflix teasing us, so my feelings may change after I see the full trailer.

Oh yeah, Cassandra Peterson, ( The Great Elvira) also has a cameo, so now I’m actually curious.

Prey (Hulu Series)

I would not ever refer to myself as a fan of this franchise although I have enjoyed several movies in it, but this looks intriguing. This is the first television series based on the original film, basically, it’s a prequel, and I’m okay with that. This looks like it’s getting back to the original terrifying roots of the mythology. I remember watching the first movie with Arnold Schwarzeneggar and being frightened out of my pink bunny slippers because no one knew what the hell was happening. Since then we’ve all gotten very used to the Predators thanks to some of the less effective sequels, but I like this one, and I’m going to check it out.

I know. I know, I always say things like that and then I never write a review, or mention it again, but I actually mean it this time.

Vesper

I like how this trailer just doesn’t explain anything. Is this some future Earth that’s been invaded by an alien lifeform? Are these humans exploring some weird planet? Is this a Lost World story? Who knows! I love weird wildlife movies (like Annihilation), so I will probably give this a look once it starts streaming somewhere.

Yeah, I’m not paying the cost of a mortgage on an unknown quality like this. I’m gonna wait for a safer, less costly venue, the TV in my living room.

The Sea Beast

I don’t know what to think about this beyond that little girl is absolutely adorable but in keeping with most little kids in movies, she’s also kinda annoying. On the other hand, I love monsters, especially monsters from the ocean, so I will probably watch this for the actual Seabeast mentioned in the title. This looks like a buddy movie for kids, and I support that. Maybe I’ll watch this with my ten-year-old niece.

1899

Yup! I got no idea what this is about, but I like historical series set in this particular era, so it has captured my attention. Don’t know that I’m gonna watch it, or that I’ll stick with it beyond the first episode, but it at least looks interesting.

Entergalactic

I like the animation here, and it has an Afro-futuristic feel to it, so I’m interested. I don’t normally watch romances either, but the voice actors are a great list, with Kid Cudi as the starring character, and Timothee Chalamet as his smoked-out best friend. It has a great cast of Rap artists and actors (like Jessica Williams from Fantastic Beasts 3) and I like the music.

Synopsis:Entergalactic is an original, animated story about a young artist named Jabari — voiced by Mescudi — as he attempts to balance love and success. Finding the latter brings Jabari a step closer to the former, when moving into his dream apartment introduces him to his new neighbor, photographer it-girl, Meadow — voiced by Jessica Williams. An explosion of art, music, and fashion, Entergalactic takes place in the only city that can handle all three: New York.

Day Shift

Now this one I’m very excited about not just because it looks like hella fun but because Jamie Foxx and vampires just sound like a winning combination to me. Hopefully, this will be funny too, because Jamie is a great comedian, and we need more funny vampire movies.

Also, look out for:

Locke and Key Season 3

FarZar (Animated Series)

Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Spriggan

One Piece (Live Action)

Junji Ito Maniac

All of Us Are Dead Season 2

Starring the Landscape: The Desert Has No Memory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Monster Files (Pt. 2): The New School

Here is part two of my non-comprehensive list of Monstrology, The New School, although some of these aren’t so much new as updates of some of the classic monsters. I mostly tried to stick with monsters from the late 20th century, from the 70s to now, so some monsters won’t get mentioned, like the tripods from the original War of the Worlds because it hails from the 1950s, and there is a notable atomic theme in there, and the updated remake doesn’t quite qualify as new because it’s just the same monster. However, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers gets mentioned in the new monster category even though the original film was released in the 50s, because each subsequent remake adopts new scientific knowledge about how the invasion might occur. If you’re looking for consistency, my mind isn’t the place to find it!

The criteria my brain used for making these lists was a broad combination of form and intent. There are monsters that have a very specific intent,(like possession, or mimicry) and some have the same intent of all the other monsters, just in an unusual form, so that means I have left out a lot of monstrous creatures from these lists. If you don’t see your favorite monster that doesn’t mean I didn’t like or didn’t know about it. It just means I ran out of room to mention it. Like I said, this isn’t a comprehensive list but there are a lot of my favorites.

The New School: Devourers

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These monsters are not regular animals grown to large size, like the ones in the 50s. They’re smaller, faster, and in some cases, slightly more intelligent than their kaiju brothers, which makes them capable of reaching into smaller, more intimate spaces, like people’s homes, to actively hunt their prey. I’m also going to add to this list the more human-like predators, like the rural-style cannibals that look more or less human but are often twisted and deformed because of environmental factors, and a few alien invaders. These aren’t the kind that lurk in caves, and lie underground and wait, on the off-chance, that some humans might drop in but we’ll talk about those in a minute. These are the kind that actively stalk and occasionally eat humans in broad daylight. They’re not shy or taking any chances about finding their next meal.

The poster children for this type of monster are the creatures from Tremors, released in 1990 and starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Reba McEntire. These monsters come from underground and hunt their prey through sound, meaning any vibrations made on the ground will attract their attention.They’re also pretty smart, learning from their fellow monster’s mistakes, which requires humans to be inventive in dispatching them. The characters in the film had the bright idea to call them Graboids, and the movie was so popular that it spawned an entire franchise of sequels, most of them starring Michael Gross (Yes, the guy from the Family Ties sitcom) as Burt Gummer, a crackpot survivalist. Not all of the movies are any good but all of them try their best to be as much fun as the original.

In the same vein is the 2012 movie Grabbers, which feels like a comedic cross between Aliens and Tremors. Set in Ireland, the movie pokes fun at Irish drinking habits because drunkenness makes humans taste bad. The heroes of the movie spend their time trying to keep the inhabitants of their small town drunk enough to save them from being eaten. In another alien invasion movie are the Quiet Place monsters, who don’t appear to eat people but nevertheless stalk and kill them in using the same method as the Graboids from Tremors, sound. It’s possible for the Quiet Place alien monsters to go into their own category but I decided they belong here because not all alien invasions are the same, and my brain slotted these here because these monsters seem to have no other motive. They’re not trying to take over the planet or replace humanity or anything. In fact, The Quiet Place monsters seemed to have landed on Earth by accident, unlike the Martians from War of the Worlds who came with a specific intent. But this does include the aliens from Pitch Black., though. Yeah, humans dropped into their environment by accident but they do actively hunt and eat people.

One of the newer popular monsters (popular in the last thirty years) is the Wendigo, a creature of Algonquin folklore, a gluttonous spirit that was once human but has been corrupted by cannibalism to always feed on human flesh. Normally this monster abides in forests and out-of-the-way places, as in the historical horror movie Ravenous, which deals with issues of colonialism, greed, and personal cowardice, as a group of American soldiers are possessed by the Wendigo. There are also a few of these films set in urban landscapes, like the 2021 film, Antlers, where a little boy is tasked to take care of his father and brother after they both become possessed after being bitten by one. The movie also addresses issues of poverty and child abuse.

Addressing cultural and social issues is kind of new thing too, at least since 1968s Night of the Living Dead, which set the stage for movies to be about more than just interpersonal relations. Before NOTLD, most Horror movies didn’t really discuss social issues like racism or domestic abuse, at least not much beyond anti-nuclear sentiment, or environmentalist issues, and seemed to focus almost entirely on the relationships between the characters.

There are also the modern-day cannibal mutants in the American Southwest, in The Hills Have Eyes. In some of these movies, the monsters are or were once human. We must also not forget the updated versions of vampires in movies like 30 Days of Night, and the highly infectious fast-moving modern zombies in movies like Train to Busan and 28 Days Later, and the deformed and infected zombies of the Resident Evil franchise. The sole purpose of a lot of these monsters is to devour people and that’s it. They are creatures with not much motive beyond procuring food.

The New School: Possessive Aliens and Parasites

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There is an entire class of monsters that just want to be us, because humans are a great place to hide, or sometimes breed.

These are the body snatchers, and the shape-shifting memory thieves and these type of monsters did not appear until the mid-20th century and are usually based on scientific principles. The original bodysnatchers were human body thieves who stole cadavers from cemeteries, to meet the demands of the nascent English medical establishment, during the 1800s, and there are a few of these type of films made in the early 20th century. Later on, the term bodysnatcher came to mean something very different, a living being, or organism, that uses live human bodies as hosts.

I know some of you are thinking 1979’s Alien, and yes, that is one of them, but this actually began in 1956, with the movie adaptation of Albert Finney’s horror scifi novel, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, in which infectious alien spores take over human bodies in a small California town. In the1978 remake, the spores would become more ambitious, taking over the city of San Francisco, then a military base in 1993, and eventually the entire world in 2007. Each remake gets updated with a new version of how the invasion and possession of the human body occurs.

In the original and 1978 versions, there are actual plant-like pods that grow imitations of human bodies, while in the 1993 movie Body Snatchers the possession of a human body takes the form of tentacles, and in the 2007 version, the possession occurs in the form of a contractable virus. The three early versions had human bodies be destroyed as the alien took over their consciousness, but in the last one, the bodies are not broken down to make a new plant-like body. In the new version the invason behaves like a virus that overwrites the mind of its host, so that it is possible for a person to be converted back to their original self, once the infection is destroyed.

Let’s not forget all of the many alien invasion movies that have a somewhat similar idea like 2018’s Annihilation,where a team of women are sent into a spreading patch of Earth that’s been taken over by an alien threat. There is 2019’s Assimilate, where a small town gets invaded by bodysnatcing aliens from a swamp, and 2013’s The World’s End, where humans get replaced with robot-like aliens during a pub crawl by some high school friends.

One of the most famous bodysnatching alien invasions films is John Carpenter’s gory 1982 remake of the 1951 movie,The Thing From Another World, which was based on John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There. Here, the alien consumes the entire person, after which it can mimic their form perfectly, with their knowledge and personality intact, thereby making it indistinguishable from the original person.

The Thing is notable because in the other body snatcher films, there is a noticeable emotional flattening that gives away the mimicry. Not so here. A mimicked person is completely indistinguishable from the person they were before, and there has been much argument among fans if a person knows if they are a Thing, and if so, are they truly dead. Unlike in 1979s Alien this isn’t a parasitic relationship, nor is it like some of the later versions of the bodysnatcher invasion where the human host isn’t destroyed, although The Thing’s invasion contains elements of the infection storyline. The human body is invaded and destroyed, with the person becoming another component of the alien mind, which possesses all of their knowledge and sense of self.

In Ridley Scott’s Alien, human bodies are used as incubators for alien young. Consuming humans isn’t the alien’s ultimate intent but I find it difficult to believe that the aliens don’t eat the leftovers. Many fans have likened this particular monster to Earth’s parasitic wasps, a creature which uses other insects as hosts for its young. Birthed from eggs this monster has a complicated three part lifecycle, which culminates in the implantation of yet another egg into a human body, and the eventual live birth of an alien, called appropriately enough, the chestburster.

As was said in the 1978 Invasion movie: Aliens don’t always need metal ships.

The New School: Possessive Ghosts and Demons

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These are possessive monsters too, the only differences are they’re usually supernatural in origin, are non-corporeal entities, and aren’t so much interested in becoming someone, so much as being alive again. They’re non-corporeal beings that, hating their non-corporeal state, are looking for a physical shell in which to exist.

Possession films are a genuinely new category appearing for the first time in the late 60s/ early 70s. The Exorcist, released in 1972 was based on the book by Wm. Peter Blatty who claims that it’s based on the real story of an exorcism performed by the Catholic Church, and this paved the way for an entire sub-genre of film, with hundreds of ripoffs, lookalikes, and related miscellanea. Almost any movie starring Satanic rituals and/or demonic possession can be traced back to it, and/or 1968s Rosemary’s Baby. To be sure movies with a demonic theme existed long before The Exorcist, but it was this movie that set the template for all the possession movies that came afterward, including comedies like The Evil Dead, which spawned its on sub-sub-category. In fact, The Exorcist was so influential that most of the body horror imagery of demonic possession and exorcism has not changed in over forty years.

The Exorcist was a deeply controversial film at the time and I suspect that it, and Rosemary’s Baby set the stage for the Satanic panic of the 80s, since people had been imbibing a steady diet of demonic films all throughout the 70s, and which were often about Satanic conspiracies in otherwise innocuous jobs and communities. Movies like 1975’s The Devil’s Rain, 1978’s The Omen, its sequel, and 1973’s Satan’s School for Girls were set in small towns, the world of politics, and private schools, positing the idea that people who worshipped Satan could be found anywhere and everywhere, and appear quite innocent. (Actually, there were a helluva lot of movies with Satan in their titles during the 70s, so there’s that.) During the Satanic Panic the police formed whole units dedicated to deciphering satanic symbols and people actually went to prison on Satanic conspiracy charges.

The Evil Dead movies spawned an entire sub genre of its own during the 80s about people being possessed by demons and going on killing sprees in movies like 1985s Demons, and The Night of the Demons from 1988.

I should include haunted house movies since there is a common theme of incorporeal beings inhabiting a physical structure, but it’s a little bit different since hauntings mostly occur against the will of the haunters. They just happen to be stuck in a place they can’t leave. Even though the trope is a classic, there aren’t a whole lot of these types of movies in Hollywood’s early history. There is the 1927 Cat and the Canary, a couple of movies in the 40s, namely Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock, and 1959s House on haunted Hill. So although there can be spirits possessing a person in such movies as 1983s Amityville 3D: The Demon, it’s not quite the same thing, and Haunted Houses are a much older trope.

The New School: Cellar Dwellers

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These kinds of monsters are hidden in the out-of-the-way places where humans generally don’t make a home, like outer space, the desert, caves, sewers, and jungles. These monsters don’t normally go on the hunt for human beings unless they drop in uninvited. These are opportunistic predators that lie in wait, sometimes for centuries, for their prey to come to them. This is a relatively new sub-genre as there are only a handful of early films with this theme, like the 1925 Phantom of the Opera, and the 1959 Beast From Haunted Cave, in which a group of thieves flee into the jungle while being pursued by a giant spider creature.

I suppose one could add those Lost World-type movies, and even King Kong, but the primary goal of those type of movies is adventure. In Cellar Dweller films the primary goal of the monster is usually to eat people, or use them for some other reason, and there is a rich history of this type of film despite it having only really sprung up in the 80s, with movies about extra-large crocodiles, alligators, and various sea creatures coming out of the depths of wherever they were to terrorize. (Sea Creatures can be another sub-genre itself.)

Movies like Alligator from 1980 were based on the US urban legend that people were buying baby alligators as pets and flushing them into the sewers when they couldn’t take care of them. I am including movies where people are unsafe in watery conditions, with 1976’s Jaws setting the stage. These include all the Jaws ripoffs that have ever been made in its wake, like Lake Placid, Deep Star Six, Leviathan, Deep Rising, and the newest addition, Sea Fever. I didn’t include any of the Sharknado-style movies because I refuse to sit through one of those, and the point is humans usually have to encroach into the monster’s territory (the water), although according to such films, being on land is not a guarantee of safety either.

Cellar Dweller movies play on humanity’s innate claustrophobia, fear of the dark, and/or enclosed spaces that are not easily escaped. 1979s Alien set the stage by being the perfect Cellar Dweller movie with a group of people trapped in a spaceship while being picked off by a stealthy vicious creature. Since then there have been several standout movies of this sort, like the famous Descent films from 2005, where a group of women cave hikers are hunted by weird humanoid predators, and The Cave, where yet another group of cave explorers are hunted by some unnameable humanoid creatures. For some reason, there was a huge slate of these movies released in the early aughts. I’m not sure exactly what America was going through at that time but this was a very popular sub-genre.

And then we have the jungle dwellers, in movies like The Ritual where a Norse forest god menaces a group of hikers for the rather vague purpose of collecting worshipers. But there are also lots of reptiles grown to large size in the jungles, in movies like Anaconda, and Rogue Crocodile. I want to include some of the Predator films, since only one of those takes place in an urban environment. The rest are in the jungles and one is set in the Arctic, these are the kind of places that are just a little bit out of the way for a regular person, a person must actually travel to or through them. If you stick close to your urban home you may be able to avoid giant spiders, small spiders, small snakes, giant snakes, any monsters that live in lagoons, and giant rats that have grown to large size after eating The Food of the Gods.

My point is that by avoiding traveling to these places you may also avoid being eaten by jungle cannibals, killer shrews, and giant wasps and chickens. However, I cannot vouchsafe your safety if you live near a sewer system, or catacombs since things like demons, rat gods, giant roaches, regular size snakes, and other monsters are given access to your basements and toilets.

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls002119103/

The New School: Machines

Humans battling against murderous machines are almost a staple of the genre in movies like The Terminator and Maximum Overdrive, but I’m classifying them as new monsters because this particular horror of technology is relatively new (about mid 20th century) and because there have been so many of these movies in the latter half of the 20th century that killer machines have become their own subgenre of Scifi Horror.

Horror Scifi started with the golem-like Frankenstein and fears of the robot revolution of 1927s Metropolis, but updated movie-making techniques have moved us beyond techno-paranoia to full-on technophobia. The machines aren’t simply going to rebel. They’re going to kill us all. From movies like 1999s The Matrix to Ex-Machina, from the alien style Virus, to the futuristic Saturn 3, murderous robots are not simply content to win their freedom from human bondage, but wipe out specific human beings and sometimes humanity altogether. I wrote about this topic for Medium, where I discussed where the foundation of this particular fear might have sprung.

The Slave Rebellion Genre (by Lakitha Tolbert)

White Hollywood loves slave rebellion movies starring robots, but starring Black people, not so much.

New and Weird

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This category is the repository for all those monsters where there is simply no real classification and sometimes not even a name. They don’t make up a sub-genre, and are often stand-alone, without a franchise or sometimes even a comprehensive theme. Some of them don’t seem much interested in eating people even though they are inimical to human life, because hating, and/or killing humans seems to be their primary objective. Personally, I blame Stephen King for this as he has made an entire career out of making innocuous items terrifying.

Outside of masquerading as an innocent-looking object many of them don’t usually lurk or sneak, often committing their murderous behavior right out in the open where the victims can see them. They’ve basically got no chill, and tend to be the kinds of objects that are not commonly associated with killing people, or even being considered animated, like dolls, rubber tires, plants, shopping carts, donuts, and tomatoes, as a result, many of these types of films fall into the comedy spectrum, like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and yes I did indeed watch the exceptionally stupid Attack of the Killer Donuts.

No, I’m not talking about haunted dolls that cause supernatural mischief. Those belong directly in the Supernatural genre. I mean creatures like Richard Matheson’s murderous doll from 1975’s Trilogy of Terror, 1988’s Chucky, and the cast of Demonic Toys from 1992. This category applies to inanimate objects that come to life and try to kill and/or eat human beings. Sometimes they stalk their prey, imitating the template of the slasher film and sometimes they like to be a little more stealthy, but most of these beings and creatures don’t get that no one is supposed to be seeing them.

This type of movie is sometimes one that is genuinely scary for me because I have a thing about inanimate objects, that aren’t supposed to be moving, moving! In Trilogy of Terror Karen Black plays a woman named Amelia who buys a doll that proceeds to hunt her through her apartment. It’s not so much that it’s a killer doll that scares me, so much that the little thing is small, sneaky, and frighteningly intelligent. He is also appropriately named “He Who Kills”. I consider myself reasonably intelligent so part of the fun, and terror, of watching this movie is figuring out how I would outsmart such a thing. Yeah, I think I could take him. Not that I would ever want to, but I think I could.

This category includes movies such as Killer Klowns from Outer Space from 1988, about …guess what? A murderous conjoined twin in 1982’s Basketcase, Society from 1989 is a new take on the rich consuming the poor, Zombeavers from 2014 is a new take on, well…zombies, in Street Trash, the monster is a deadly bottle of liquor that melts its imbibers into puddles of goo, and sometimes, well sometimes, the monster is one’s parents, like the cannibal parents from1989s Parents, 2018’s Mom and Dad, where kids have to survive against their suddenly murderous parents..oh hell! Killer parents, siblings, and grandparents can probably all be part of their own sub-sub-genre! (No, The Shining doesn’t count because that’s a Haunted House movie!) There are also a whole host of movies that feature randomly possessed childhood objects like Frosty the Snowman, The Gingerbread Man, and other food items like donuts and tomatoes.

There are also some rather unique monsters that haven’t really been copied anywhere else, like The Blob, both the 1956 version and its 1988 remake, and the highly unique The Stuff from 1985. There are insectile monsters, like the alien induced giant bugs from Love and Monsters, the folkloric Babadook, the science-based The Fly, The Yautja aliens from the Predator franchise, the Krites from the Critters movies, and technically speaking, the monsters from Gremlins are kind of unique, but it’s success did spawn a bunch of replicas like Ghoulies, and Trolls. I would also include comedies like the genetically engineered, zombie-like creatures, from the 2006 comedy, Black Sheep.

Sometimes it’s not so much the monster as the movie itself is just unique. Movies like the Final Destination franchise, in which the thematic purpose of Horror movies is made explicit because Death itself is the villain, as really all monsters, no matter what their form, are simply manifestations of death.

There are one-off movies like Cabin in the Woods, which features all the monsters and film tropes, as well as The Mist, with entirely unique creatures from another dimension, some of which kinda resemble the monsters of this one, and wholly unique Cosmic horror movies like From Beyond, about a machine that creates portals to a hell universe, and Event Horizon about people trapped on a Hellish ship. There are some interesting stand-alone films, like Pontypool, and the uniquely terrifying Birdbox.

This list also includes monsters for which there is simply no description because they are non-corporeal entities or simply remain unseen, and yet, they don’t necessarily have a supernatural origin, like the invisible monster from It Follows, the invisible rapist from the 1982 film, The Entity, and the nameless god-like creature from Children of the Corn, He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

Okay, this is obviously turning into Monster May! I have a couple more SCP posts coming up, and some mini reviews of things I’ve seen, like the new Dr. Strange movie, and a movie called Underground Monster, from China!

New Trailers This Week

Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

So me, my niece, nephew, and maybe their dad, have set a date to go see this movie. I think we’ll go see a matinee on Sunday after the release because they’re kids and I’m old, we have more energy during the day, are unlikely to unwillingly fall asleep, and we don’t wanna be up til 11:30 at night (although we probably will because EXCITEMENT is a helluva drug!)

I’m really looking forward to this because this is where the X-Men will be introduced into the MCU in the form of Professor X, played by who else, Patrick Stewart (who’s like a thousand years old, so I don’t know how many more Professor Xs he’s got left.) The Illuminati named in the movie is based on the comic books of the same name, and consist of Namor the Submariner who will probably be introduced here as well, along with Reed Richards Mr. Fantastic, and the Captain’s shield is probably being wielded by Peggy Carter as Captain Britain ( I think she’s called Captain Carter) from the animated What If…? series.

Now would be a good time to introduce a lot of characters from across the multiverse including The Inhumans” Black Bolt (since we have The Eternals), Magneto (since we have Professor X), and Doctor Doom. The Iron Man figure is either one of The Captains Marvel or Riri Williams as The Iron Maiden, and I hope it’s her because I do not believe Iron Man is making a cameo (but I could be wrong.) The movie is introducing us to the multidimensional barrier breaker America Chavez, one of the few Latina superheroes in the MCU.

With the intro of The Illuminati, fan theories are flying fast and loose about the existence of mutants like Wolverine, Magneto, and even Wanda, in the MCU.

Jurassic Park Dominion

Okay, even though I’m already cringing at some of this dialogue, I’m gonna see this anyway because I absolutely love movies like this. I love dinosaurs and I’ve been fascinated with “dinosaurs (and kaiju) in the modern world” movies and books since I was a little kid. It’s one of those things that’s great and horrifying at the same time. Can you imagine encountering a pack of Ankylosaurs while hiking, or being chased by some Raptors on your way to work? (I’m not talking about the sports team). (Although really, dinosaurs can’t possibly make Black Americans’ lives any more dangerous than they already are. I feel like we’d probably just cook out, like usual, and that Americans in general, would use dinosaurs as an excuse to just buy more guns.)

This trailer is hitting all the right notes, and I expect to be frightened, and thrilled, and suspensed, for two-plus hours. All of our favorite characters are here from the original movie, Ellie, Ian, and Alan, and it will be the first time we’ve seen them all together since that time, so I’m really looking forward to this, and I better not be disappointed, or somebody is going to receive a strongly worded letter (but probably just a rant on this blog!)

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

I will probably will not go see this in the theater but it looks fun and funny. I’m glad to see Josh Hartnett making a return to a mainstream action movie because I missed him. He looks a little grizzled though. And I’m glad we’re starting to get more Action Comedy type movies. I mean I like the grim/dark-John Wick- Batman type movies but I prefer a good dose of fun and humor with gunfire.

I also like the trailer’s theme song. I’m a sucker for Dean Martin remixes.

Crimes of the Future

This is David Cronenberg’s latest mindbending/ body horror weirdness and I see he’s really going back to his roots here. He got away from it for a bit by making some modern-day crime movies, now I see he’s just going to blend his two favorite topics together, crime and body horror. I’m not seeing this in theaters, since this trailer looks horrifying enough. I can’t make heads or tails out of what’s going on in it, but I’m pretty sure that whatever it is, it’s gonna be Squick-inducing!

The Peacemakers

Okay, I don’t know what to make of this one. It definitely looks weird enough to be interesting to me but is probably not playing at a theater near…anybody, really. I can wait until it streams somewhere. The special effects don’t look all that great but bad special effects don’t always stop me from watching something. I think this movie is meant to be funny although I didn’t laugh during this trailer. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything either because sometimes the movie is fine and the trailer just stank.

Bodies Bodies Bodies

It turns out that I actually think Pete Davidson is funny and this trailer looks hilarious. I get the impression that this movie was made by someone who gets wokeness, but doesn’t actually hate it. I won’t see this in the theater but I will rent it as soon as it streams. When I first saw this trailer my thoughts were that they definitely need an adult in this situation because these kids are completely ill-equipped to handle a serial killer.

Other films to watch for: Monstrous starring Christina Ricci, Joe Hill’s The Black Phone, an adaptation of one of his short stories, and Night Sky, starring Sissy Spacek.

More of the Creepiest SCPs

(Hello everyone, I’m doing alright. I’m just working on some long-form essays or being generally lazy because…Spring! Here, have some SCP stuff!)

I don’t think I have ever talked about these particular SCPs, but there is absolutely no shortage of creepy, disturbing, or just pantshittingly scary SCPs, so I should have plenty to talk about for the foreseeable future. Not sure what’s going on, but these SCP posts have become pretty popular, and I definitely want to write about them, but I also don’t want this to become SCP Central because there are far more knowledgable fans out there.

Two of my top favorite SCP Youtube Channels (with the kind of things you won’t find here) are The Volgun, and The Exploring Series, both of which specialize in some of the more obscure SCPs, and long-form readings of SCP stories. Be sure to check them out.

SCP 205: Shadow Play Demons

This one is somewhat complicated to explain. It consists of two large photography lamps that when shining on a blank white surface cast a shadowplay of the life of a young model. She interacts with friends and family and has an old-fashioned camera with which she constantly takes photos. Over the course of a few weeks, she meets a man and they date, and eventually have sex. He introduces her to a couple of friends of his, and she takes photos of their shared activities.

After a couple of weeks, she is shown developing the photos in her apartment, while her date sits in the other room, and she sees that the men she has met, including the one she has been dating are all demons with horns, which is something the viewers of the shadowplay could always see. She gets scared and tries to hide in her apartment but the demons find her and rape and kill her over several days. When they are done with her one of them looks over to the lamps, and approaches to turn them off.

But that is not even the creepiest part. If someone walks into the room while the shadowplay is occurring, makes a noise, turns off one of the lamps, or interrupts the activities in any way, that will disrupt the demon’s activities, attracting their attention to the viewer. One of the demons will approach the lamps, turn them off, and if the viewer remains in the room they will be beaten and killed. These events usually take place over thirty days, at the end of which the entire thing will reset.

The lamps are secure, but there is a certain amount of caution that needs to be taken. The lamps must be left on, or the room in which they are kept will be trashed for several days. If one of the bulbs goes out or needs to be replaced, which is common, it must be done early in the sequence of events. If this happens later in the sequence of events the room will be closed to all entry until the thirty-day period is up.

Yeah, this is an example of an SCP that is easily contained, and doesn’t actually harm anyone, but is still deeply creepy, and given a Euclid status because it’s not controlled, and cannot be stopped without bringing harm to the person who interrupts it. You can’t even warn the young woman of what’s going to happen, because, unlike the demons she meets, she remains completely unaware of the viewer. All the viewer can do is wait for the sequence to end.

SCP 145: A Dangerous Phone Call

This SCP is also pretty complicated to understand. There are a lot of questions. It consists of a standard push-button house phone. When it rings, whoever picks it up will hear a woman panicking on the other end, describing how someone is being tortured. The caller doesn’t respond to any statements or questions from the person who picked up the phone.

Once again that isn’t the creepiest part of this SCP. If there is more than one person in the room when the phone is answered nothing will happen. If there is only one person in the room when the call is ended that person will vanish. The next time the phone rings they will be the person being tortured in the phone call. The SCP has tried to come up with ways to trace the call, or interrupt the proceedings on the other end of the call, by sending people wearing tracking devices, carrying weapons (which simply end up being used against the person), and once, carrying an explosive which detonated just before they vanished.

I actually still have a touch-tone phone in the house, which occasionally still rings, even though the person it’s ringing for doesn’t live there anymore. I never pick it up though, because I think that would be creepy, and I don’t want to have to keep explaining to total strangers that the person they’re calling isn’t home.

SCP 1981: Cutting Up Reagan

This is an SCP that while not particularly complicated is pretty disgusting, and just plain weird. It’s yet another sequence of events that a person can only watch and do nothing, although no one is actually harmed during it. It’s a homemade video of a speech being given by the 1980s President Ronald Reagan to a meeting of Evangelicals. It’s his “evil empire” speech which I do remember hearing about at the time. This is a real speech that was given in Florida in 1983.

The first couple of minutes someone watches it nothing happens, but if you watch it to the end, or rewind and watch it again, the speech starts to get stranger and stranger. Reagan starts talking about things that make no sense given who he is talking to. Each time he goes off-script, his face gets cut or bruised. This only happens a little at first, but each time the viewer watches the speech his scars and bruises get worse and worse until it reaches the point where he is almost unrecognizable and the tape ends, usually around the 22-minute mark. if you rewind it and watch it again, he will deliver an entirely new speech that bears no resemblance to the first one and is sometimes about child molestation, cannibalism, ritual sacrifice, and torture. Sometimes he mentions future events that he could never have known about, and sometimes a black-robed and hooded figure appears in some of the background shots.

Now, it is entirely possible that some people watching this video wouldn’t be disturbing at all, as he was roundly hated by a large swathe of the American public. In fact, I hated the man with the passion of a thousand suns, and it was while under his tenure that I became more politically aware and active as a teenager, although I do think I would still be disturbed by watching him get his throat cut onscreen. Not because I cared about his life, but because watching violence is disturbing.

21 Reasons why People Might Feel Some Type of Way About Ronald Reagan:

https://soapboxie.com/us-politics/21reasonsReaganwasaterriblepresident

SCP 599: The Missing People Town

SCP 599 is a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. It’s not found on a map, and none of the roads that lead to it are marked, so you really have to either find it by accident or go missing, I guess. (The name of the town is redacted in reports), with a population of about 700 people, who are all very friendly to outsiders. What makes it so weird is that the inhabitants are all people who match the descriptions of people who have been listed as missing by the authorities, but only for the last ten years.

But once again, that’s not what’s so strange about it. When questioned all of the inhabitants insist that they have always lived in this town, with no memories of having been anywhere else, and will insist that you move into town and buy a house. Any refusal to do that is met with hostility, although so far, none of the inhabitants have ever been violent.

Any visitors to the town will be happily put up at the local hotel for free, in which there are no other guests, but there will be lots of noise as if there are. Visiting city hall will produce all manner of town records except there are no recordings of births or deaths. A field agent was brave enough to spend the night in town to determine what type of SCP they were dealing with. When he was asleep someone entered his room and rifled through his belongings although nothing was stolen. He kept being asked if he was thinking of buying a house, couldn’t find any maps of the town or newspaper archives, and the library was mostly empty. He did find the previous field agent who, of course, had gone missing. The former agent had no memory of him or of working for the SCP, and had a family, with a wife and a five-year-old child, even though the agent had only been missing for a few months.

The agent further discovered that no one has ever died in the town. There are no mortuaries, funeral homes, cemeteries, or even a hospital. The water and gas systems aren’t hooked up to anything. When the agent tried to leave the town it was like that scene from The Truman Show with the town or fate or whatever throwing increasingly absurd obstacles in his path. Door locks getting stuck, losing the whereabouts of his car, a wild thunderstorm, inconveniently closed off streets, broken cars sitting in the middle of intersections, and falling traffic lights!

I did laugh at the ending of this story, but it’s still pretty creepy and reminds me of more than a few of those mystery TV series where people get trapped in weird small towns that won’t let them leave and an old movie from 2006, called Population 436, starring Jeremy Sisto, in which the population of a small town never changes, and anyone who tries to leave meets with a horrible accident, and needs to be replaced by a newcomer.

Why yes, being trapped in a place I can’t leave is one of my base fears! How did you know?

SCP 3122: Deadly GPS

This one isn’t so much complicated as it is a somewhat involved SCP story. It is what appears to be a normal older-style GPS device except that everyone who has ever used it has gone missing. So the SCP tried to find out why by putting a recorder and tracking device on one of its D-Class personnel to see what was going on, and it is quite a bizarre journey.

The anomalies only kick in after certain criteria have been met. The journey must take at least three hours, and the vehicle in which the GPS is set must complete at least two hours of its journey, after which it will be automatically transported to a parallel dimension, and given further instructions, which become more and more bizarre consisting, for example, of instructions to remove different body parts for sacrificial purposes. At first, the landscape will not appear to be any different than before, but as time passes, the landscape will begin to change, and the more the person continues to drive, the more lost they will become. After two or three days the car and the device will arrive back at the originally programmed destination, only without the driver.

I know a lot of people have an intense fear of getting lost. Now imagine never being able to get “unlost”.

SCP 4000: Call Him By Your Name

Oh, this is a deliciously creepy cautionary tale about following all the rules when interacting with the Fair Folk. This is the story of a field researcher who, while exploring a forested world on the other side of a portal, came across one of the inhabitants, creatures who regularly put themselves into positions that require a person to interact with them. The agent was given instructions about never eating any offered food, only following the dirt path provided, and never giving anyone on the other side of the portal their real name, since all names have power. In fact, nothing of that world is ever referred to by any given name or allowed to be named consistently.

The field agent forgot that such creatures are clever and opportunistic. After several run-throughs on the path and several interactions with the entity, they thought they were doing pretty good but made one mistake. They allowed the entity to give them a consistent name, with the entity calling them by the same title every time they met. This was just enough to trap the agent in the forest while the entity stole their identity, and replaced them in the real world.

But making certain the environment remains unnamed isn’t the only rule. People must be careful not to make anyone they meet angry, and to always carefully placate any beings that are met on the path. Breaking the rules can result in hallucinations, headaches, having one’s form changed against one’s will and amnesia. Using a consistent name for anything that’s in the forest world, in the real world, can result in conjuring a being or item into the real world, or transporting the speaker into the unnamed forest.

How about we just avoid this place altogether? What’s the creepiest part of this? The entity was able to successfully integrate itself into the occupation and life of the person whose identity they’d stolen, despite looking nothing like the person, and was found out only by a kind of accident! This is a place where all words have power. They can both give and remove power, so using euphemisms, slang, and idioms, or calling anything in this world the same thing more than once, can result in disaster for the person speaking.

Guidelines for interacting with native entities:

2.01 Greet native entities with any formal salutation9 before engaging in conversation. If female, bow or curtsy.
2.02 Speak in a cordial tone of voice.
2.03 Do not make any statements that you know to be false.
2.04 Do not make disparaging comments about native entities while in their presence.
2.05 Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when appropriate.
2.06 Refer to and address native entities using descriptions of their physical appearance, per protocol 4000-Eshu.
2.07 Do not refer to a native entity by a name, title, or designation, even if it introduces itself with such.
2.08 Do not state your name, nickname, codename, alias, or any other personal designation when in the presence of a native entity.
…2.09 If a native entity offers to assign you a name, title, or designation, politely decline.
…2.10 If a native entity makes a statement in which it addresses or refers to you by a name, title, designation, or anything other than a physical description, ignore the statement as though it had not been spoken.

2.11 If pressed for information that is considered confidential, refuse, briefly apologize and bow.
2.12 If a native entity appears to require your assistance, consider its appearance before choosing to help:
………2.12.A If the entity appears threatening, do whatever is necessary to aid it.
………2.12.B If the entity appears attractive or harmless, do not approach.
………2.12.C: Always feed a native entity if it is hungry. This overrules 2.12.B.
2.13 Do not attempt to mount any bestial entities you encounter unless it has earned your trust and given you its consent.
2.14 If you are offered a physical gift, receive it with both hands. Do not discard this gift, even if it appears to have no use or value. This is overruled by 1.04.
2.15 If a native entity offers you a nonphysical gift or attempts to initiate a trade, politely decline.
2.16 You may accept food offered by native entities, and offer that food to other native entities you encounter, but do not consume it yourself.
2.17 Do not sleep in any lodging offered by native entities. You may sleep inside the residence of a native entity as long as you do not have an invitation to do so.
2.18 If a native entity offers to accompany on your journey, accept, but do not tell them where you are going.
2.19 If you are aided by a native entity, you must aid it in return if you have not done so already.
2.20 If you encounter an incorporeal humanoid that claims it is not a native entity, disregard all previous protocols and follow its instructions.

SCP 588: Carnivorous Coins

This is an SCP that may sound a bit silly at first but think about it. How many people carry around at least a few coins on their person at all times, sometimes unknowingly? This SCP appears to be a quarter minted in 1972, except the head of George Washington which is pictured on the side is capable of moving, opening, and closing its mouth, and will feed on any organic matter that comes into its orbit. It’s capable of ingesting, digesting, and excreting matter! It’s even capable of reproduction. The coin can move by inching itself along flat surfaces in the manner of a slug, and can sometimes hop using its edge. It is only ever motivated to move by feeding. The feeding isn’t to keep it alive but to create more coins. This is done through binary fission.

The containment procedures for the coin are not elaborate but it still needs to be carefully watched because it has breached containment at least once by disguising itself as a regular coin. It’s intelligent enough to mimic regular coins, lying flat until someone tries to pick it up. it will bite them (it can’t take more than a gram of flesh) and attempt to flee by hopping away, which sounds hilarious until you take into account that it’s only ever interested in making more of itself, its reasonably intelligent, and gatherings of these coins will coordinate their feedings.

Incident 588-B: 

On ██/██/2002, junior researcher Dr. █████ reported to a senior staff member that while transporting SCP-588 from its containment locker to a testing room it “slipped out of the box and scuttled away.” The unfortunate containment breach of SCP-███ at approximately the same time and the resulting death of Dr. █████ led to the incident not being logged. Five months later on ██/██/2002, janitorial staff member ██████ ████ came into contact with a colony of over four hundred individual copies of SCP-588 living off detritus behind the shelves in Storage Pantry-B10. ██████ ████ was discovered unconscious by his coworkers two hours later and was treated for several thousand minute bites on his limbs and body. All escaped instances of SCP-588 are believed to have been retrieved and destroyed, but any Site-19 staff members finding loose change in unlikely places are to report to an on-site security officer immediately.

SCP 636: Elevator to Nowhere

Photo by Ana Benet on Pexels.com

I got a real kick out of this one because elevators are distinctly creepy even when they go where they’re supposed to go. I mean you have no real idea what’s going to be on the other side of an elevator door when it opens, do you? As a liminal space, (something that is used to travel between other spaces) elevators are often used as portals to other dimensions in all kinds of stories. It is still unknown what type of world or worlds this elevator opens onto, and only one person has ever returned through it.

This SCP is a maintenance elevator found in a now-abandoned building, which has been contained by being officially condemned due to mold. The containment procedure is only slightly elaborate and mostly consists of making sure no urban explorers go into the building and destroying anything that might come out. The elevator goes to three sub-basements although only two of the sub-basements are listed in the building plans. It is accessed using a magnetic key card.

Anything or anyone that is in the elevator when it reaches the non-existent third sub-basement will vanish when the doors open on that floor, even though there are no openings in the shaft that lead to another level. There are only blank walls there. Sometimes the elevator will move to the sub-basement on its own. When it returns to the normal floor it will contain anomalous objects like piles of flesh and blood, the equipment of people who have disappeared, elevator walls covered in human eyeballs, and once one of the “disappeared” field agents, in a horribly emaciated state, who killed one of the guards while frantically insisting he had to go back.

Look! I’m sorry, I’m nosy! But I still wanna know what’s on that floor. Is it just one horribly messed up world, or multiple worlds, that the elevator has access to? What happened to the agent that returned that made him want to desperately go back? Is there a safer way to find out? What happens if the building is destroyed? I got questions!

SCP 513: Haunted Cowbell

Yeah, I know some of you are thinking of that old SNL skit with Christopher Walken, but this story isn’t as funny as that one. It’s not what it is that’s the creepy part though. It’s what gets summoned when you ring it. The containment procedure is fairly elaborate and designed not just to contain it but to make certain it never rings. The SCP is kept in a block of gelatin, inside a soundproof cell. The personnel who administer it are to check it after any natural disasters while wearing earplugs and noise-canceling headphones (although only deaf personnel are allowed to actually handle the object).

Anyone who is exposed to the sound of SCP 513 is to be quarantined for the next 72 hours, and not allowed to go to sleep. If the two guards on duty detect any mental degradation over that time period the subject is to be terminated. If they fall unconscious they must be terminated.

This SCP consists of two parts. An old and rusty cowbell called SCP 513, and the entity it summons is called SCP 513-1. SCP -1 is summoned when the bell is rung but is not immediately noticeable, although everyone within earshot of the sound will feel uncomfortable and disoriented by it. After a few moments, they will start to feel paranoid, as if someone or something is watching them…and something is. SCP 513-1 will only appear to them in their peripheral vision, glimpses through just opened doors, or in the backgrounds of mirrors. If the entity perceives that it’s been noticed it will vanish, and it is invisible to anyone not affected by the sound of the bell.

But there’s more! This entity, described as a tall thin humanoid with overly large hands, will stalk the person for several days, inducing even more paranoia along with sleeplessness. Many subjects report that the creature is in their room with them at night. If they somehow manage to fall asleep before it appears, it will violently awaken them and then vanish when they open their eyes. This lack of sleep continues until the person’s mental state has become so degraded by fatigue and depression that they commit suicide. (Keeping in mind that the longest any person has ever gone without sleep is 11 days and that after just 3 or 4 days they will begin to hallucinate.)

Saying uttered by one of the SCP test subjects:

You’ve seen it. Now he can hear you.
You’ve touched it. Now he can see you.
Never ring it. If you hear it, he can touch you.

New Movie and TV Trailers

Jurassic World 3

I mentioned this one in an earlier post. I’m still looking forward to it. My enthusiasm has not waned in the slightest! Here’s the newest trailer. And I love it!

Nope

A new Jordan Peele movie is always a major event worth talking about. He is one of the premiere Horror directors today. A lot of people seem to think this is about aliens, but in all likelihood, I think everyone is being misled. I think what’s happening is going to be a lot weirder than aliens, although several people have pointed out that NOPE also stands for Not Of Planet Earth. So there is that, I guess. The trailer looks like something to “nope” right out of anyway, so I’m excited about this.

I am totally in love with Kiki Layne’s character, and that music (Stevie Wonder’s Fingertips Pt 1, which he performed as a teenager!) is totally taking me back. It’s interesting how some directors develop a stable of actors they love to work with a lot, and that’s what we’re seeing here with Daniel Kaluya and Steven Yeun.

I did not have plans to see this in the theater, because I don’t like being scared in public. I already have low-grade anxiety about being in public, and I don’t think adding a scary movie to that is a good idea. However, there is always an exception, and I have seen plenty of other Horror movies in the theater. I will go see this in the theater if my little sister will go with me. (She doesn’t have to hold my hand when I get scared, but that option is on the table.).

Black Adam/The Flash/Aquaman 2

I don’t know anything about Black Adam. Apparently, he is a rival to Shazam (whose name was Captain Marvel, until DC ran into some copyright infringement with Marvel, I think) but I did read the Doctor Fate books, which are DC’s answer to Doctor Strange. (Why is DC and Marvel like this?!!!) I’m excited for this because I love the Doctor Fate character (although that actor is NOT who I envisioned as him), and my personal favorite, Hawkman. (I did envision Aldous Hodge as Hawkman many many times, however!)

I am still cautiously excited about The Flash movie.

I haven’t even watched the first Aquaman movie, which has been readily available to me on HBO all year long. I mean, I started watching it, got sidetracked, and never started it again. I guess I’ll get around to it before this sequel is released if I remember.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Here’s the newest Doctor Strange trailer. The movie looks pretty wild. Also check out the newest superhero introduced here, America Chavez, whose presence here is entirely appropriate, since she is kind of a dimension-hopping, female version of Captain America. At least that was how she was originally introduced in the comic books. (Her backstory has since been altered to something a little different.) I think Strange is going to need her ability to crash through the walls between worlds. There’s also, I’m told a tiny cameo of Patrick Stewart. If true, then the implications of his presence are really huge for the future of the MCU.

Man Who Fell To Earth (Showtime)

I remember watching the David Bowie version of this (it was released in the early 70s) when I was in my twenties, and mostly I was just baffled. Afterward, I attempted to read the book, which made more sense than the film. I think the Bowie film is just artsy, for the sake of being so, and deliberately confusing. I think this version will probably be much more accessible to any viewers than the ealrier one, but that doesnt mean you shouldnt go check that out, because it is worth the watch.

I’m a big fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange’s Mordo). He always brings his A-game, and I like that this also stars one of my favorite actresses, Naomie Harris, (Shriek from Venom, Ms. Moneypenny from Skyfall) who really doesn’t get enough fan love. I am cautiously excited about this because there are about a million ways to mess this up, and/or lose my interest.

The Rings of Power (LOTR Series)

I was waiting for the trailer to decide if I was going to watch this, and I’m in. I like the premise and I’m told a few old favorites from the movies will turn up in cameos (Elrond and Galadriel). I’m not a Tolkien enthusiast really, but I’m more excited about actual Tolkien films than the many thousands of high fantasy Tolkien ripoffs that exist, and I know just enough about his works, that I can find my way around a series based on them. (I’m also glad someone remembered that black people like to see themselves in fantasy works, historical accuracy be damned, and let’s watch the bigots in the fandom of LOTR act like whole ass fools because of that. They are as predictable as gravity at this point!)

Most Anticipated Movies and Shows of 2022

Here’s a list of some of my most anticipated movies and shows of 2022. Now, this is not necessarily a hard and fast thing because sometimes my enthusiasm for something will wane, and I’m not sure why that is. I do not have railers for some of these, but as soon as one appears I’ll be sure to post it. some of the trailers can be found in my “Yay! New Trailers!” post from a couple of weeks ago.

But this is where the year starts and my mileage about these may vary, I guess.

The Movies

16 of the greatest reaction GIFs of all time, ranked - Vox

The Batman

I don’t know that we needed yet another Batman film after The Dark Knight trilogy, and several television shows, but this is where we are now. I wanna feel some type of way about this but hey! whenever we get a new Spiderman movie, I make no objection, so why here? Anyway, I am tenuously excited about this one, but will probably will not be seeing this in the theater.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

This is one I’ve already talked about, and I will have to see this one in the theatre, because my nephew has decided!

The Northman

The Northman' Trailer: Robert Eggers' Viking Epic Stuns | IndieWire

This is Robert Eggers newest film, and it is really hotly anticipated. Eggers is the Director of The Witch, and The Lighthouse. I loved The Witch, but I found The Lighthouse fascinating but inscrutable. This movie looks much more accessible to mainstream audiences and that’s not a bad thing. I’m looking forward to it.

Thor: Love and Thunder

I am officially a fan of Taika Waititi, so I’m very excited about this movie. I wasn’t really a big fan of the first two Thor films. I watched them, but I was not galvanized or enthused. Ragnarok was a great ride, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Thor’s story goes after the events of Endgame. When last we saw him, he was hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy, so I’m interested to see how Taika approaches the relationships between those characters, and compare his versions of them to James Gunn’s.

Jurassic World: Dominion

First Look at DeWanda Wise in Jurassic World Dominion

I love dinosaurs. I love dinosaurs trapped in the modern age. I love dinosaurs attacking the city. I will probably love this movie. Probably…

The Flash

The Flash: Timeline for Ezra Miller-starring movie | EW.com

I don’t care what anybody says I really like this version of The Flash, and if Grant Gustin, from the TV series, shows up, that’s good too! Authorities say that this is one of those multiverse movies where we meet different versions of The Flash as he attempts to turn back time to save his mother. I am only passingly familiar with the Flashpoint plotline, but this is probably not going to be too deep to follow.

Spiderman: Across the Mulitverse

I’m ready for this. I think the first movie was astonishing, and fun, and I’m ready to go on an adventure with Miles, not that we’ve gotten the origin story, and establishing his character, out of the way.

Black Adam

Everything We Know About DC's BLACK ADAM Movie - Nerdist

I…don’t know anything about Black Adam as a character. I think I actively avoided this character in the comic books, but the character is being played by Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock, and I really like him, so I’ll probably watch this, even though he’s giving off some Thanos vibes in the trailer.

All of this movie watching is contingent upon how badly or well the US is dealing with the Covid surge, because we may have an entirely new variant by Summer, when most of these movies will be released.

Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever News & Updates: Everything We Know

This of course is a must-see, no matter how badly the US is handling the pandemic. I have a number of things I would love to see in the sequel, especially after The Multiverse of Madness, but I don’t want to create expectations. I just want to walk into this movie and accept whatever story will be given to me. As soon as the trailer drops, I’ll post it!

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I spoke about this one in the new trailers post. I’m looking forward to watching this…on some streaming channel. Yeah, I’m not seeing this in the theatre no matter how much I love Michelle Yeoh.

Nope

Jordan Peele's Nope: Release Date, Cast & Everything We Know So Far

Oh, this is another must-see, but I probably won’t see it in the theater. While the Black Panther sequel may be enough to get me to sit in a crowd of people, this one is not. I have issues with crowds without the existence of a pandemic, so I am early opting out of seeing this in the theatre. I am going to watch closely for the trailer though, and post it as soon as it drops, probably with some commentary because any movie by Jordan Peele is a drop everything and talk about it affair.

Halloween Ends

I talked about my expectations for this one in the mini-review that I did for Halloween Kills. This is the last movie in the trilogy that’s produced by John Carpenter.

Salem’s Lot

Okay, here’s what happened. I hadn’t heard anything about this until after I watched most of The Stand, (I was unimpressed), then went to Google to look up whether or not there were going to be any future adaptations of Stephen King’s books, and I stumbled across this. I am cautiously excited about this because this was the first Stephen King book I ever read.

When I was about nine or ten years old, I discovered a box of books my mom had in her bedroom, and I went through them because…hey!books! and I came across a paperback with a black cover, that had an embossed picture of a woman on it, with a single drop of blood falling from her lips. That was the book and the moment.

So, I did enjoy the last couple of interpretations of this book though, (the first in 1979, and the last one around 2004), so how bad could another updated version be? Right? Right?

Future King Adaptations in Production, or Post-Production: Christine, Jerusalem’s Lot TV Series, Firestarter, Overlook, The Talisman,

Hellraiser

I don’t know if this is hotly anticipated, but I recently watched the original, and yeah, although the original is okay, it’s only okay for the 1980s. It definitely needs to be updated and all of the sequels ignored. What’s intriguing about this one is Pinhead will be played by an actress this time.

John Wick 4

John Wick 4 Wraps Filming, and We May Have an Official Title

It’s hard to mess up a John Wick movie, and I really enjoyed all the other ones. These movies aren’t especially deep, but they are great for action.

Mission Impossible 7

Here’s another franchise known for its great action scenes. I really liked all the others in the series, especially the last one. Cruise is getting up there, but that hasn’t seemed to stop him from doing some crazy sh** onscreen!

Blade Killer (Wesley Snipes)

It is my understanding that this is NOT a Blade sequel, but is sort of based on the character, and meant to take advantage of the new Blade movie coming to the MCU. I actually like Wesley Snipes. he was the fight choreographer for the first two Blade movies, so I trust his action-sense, and this sounds interesting. Normally these types of movies turn out to be cheap knockoffs but Snipes might actually pull it off.

The TV

watching tv gifs | WiffleGif

Stranger Things 4

I watched the first season, skipped the second except for a couple of episodes, and really enjoyed the third season, getting into the characters and plot. I don’t know how I’ll feel by the time the new season is released, by for now, I’m looking forward to it.

Umbrella Academy 3

Where To Watch 'Umbrella Academy' Season 3

The last season left off on a cliffhanger, so I have to watch this new season to see how everything turns out. Also, I’m intrigued about the Eliot Page situation (he played Vanya Hargreeves) now that he has transitioned. Vanya is an interchangeable name so this could be played in some interesting ways.

The Gilded Age

Watch The Gilded Age | American Experience | Official Site | PBS

I’m into this for the costumes! The costuming is gorgeous! The production values look awesome.

Naomi

Naomi (Character) - Comic Vine

This has already aired so I’m gonna check it out and get back to you guys about the pilot episode.

Obi Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi - TV series: Release date, cast and trailer | Marca

I can’t say I ever paid very close attention to Obi Wan throughout any of the films. I dint watch Clone Wars either, but I guess I’m gonna watch this because I kind of like the character a bit. I know this sounds a bit lukewarm, but that’s all I got right now, as far as watching TV series.

Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel's Live Action Powers To Be Inspired by Captain Marvel

Now, this one I’m excited about because I just love Kamala Khan from the books. She is so darling! I hope they keep some of that quality of innocence, and her attachment to her culture, in the series. It’s also going to be fun because we’ll get to see Teyonah Parris/Monica Rambeau as the Black version of Captain Marvel, (later known as Spectrum), which is the one I grew up reading. I also have it on good authority that Ironheart, the Black female successor to the Iron man legacy, will also be showing up in the series.

Peacemaker

Peacemaker (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

I talked about this series in the new trailers post. The show starts on the 13th of this month, so I’m ready. It looks funny and explosive!

Moon Knight

Oscar Isaac Displays Moon Knight Fighting Skills in New Video - Geekosity

I had wished that they’d chosen an actual African’Egyptian person to play this character, but I will not object to Oscar Isaac in this role. I don’t know everything about Moon Knight, but I have encountered the character in plenty of crossover stories in the comic books, and I was always intrigued by the idea of someone being “chosen” t be a superhero who has a mental illness. I do expect the usual tropes about mental illness because this is Disney, and they’re not especially groundbreaking, but I do expect a lot of great action scenes, since Moon Knight is one of the greatest fighters in Marvel.

The Sandman

Okay, this is the one I’m really looking forward to. Just like for a lot of comic book guys The Watchmen was their big thing growing up, for me it was Sandman. I’m ready for this because I really loved that first season of American Gods, and I;m hoping for something on that level.

She Hulk

Marvel Reveals She-Hulk Disney+ Series Will Be a Half-Hour Legal Comedy

I’m not sure how I feel about this but someone somewhere is very excited about this show. I read the She Hulk comic books during the Byrne and Buscema eras. I didn’t read any of the later books, so I don’t exactly know what to expect, but I like the actress, and I like She Hulk, so Imma check it out.

Strange New Worlds

I’ve talked about my enthusiasm for this new Star Trek series. Is there too much Trek? One could make that argument if one insisted on watching all of them, but I’m mostly ignoring everything but Discovery. I may or may not watch Picard, but I will definitely be watching this.

The Witcher: Blood Origin

Watch The Witcher: Blood Origin trailer, Netflix's apocalyptic prequel -  Polygon

I have been completely ignoring the current Witcher series, but am perfectly willing to watch this one because it stars Michelle Yeoh.

Top Favorite Films of 2021

Quite a few hotly anticipated films were released in 2021. Well, they were hotly anticipated by me. I didn’t spend a lot of time watching movies that were off my list of films because I was so busy dealing with my mother’s health issues, which was pretty stressful. (I’m not so much recovering from my Mother’s passing as I am from the sheer emotional stress of trying to keep her alive.)

As a result, I spent a lot of time watching a lot of stress- relieving TV series, standup comedies, or just things that simply weren’t very emotionally taxing. I just didn’t have the bandwidth for much more than that. This also meant that I watched a lot more escapist-type movies, MCU films, or just films without any heavy topics. But these were my favorites of all the movies I got to see.

Keep in mind, that I also tend to like a lot of what I watch because I’m not a professional critic, so don’t have to watch anything I don’t want to, and I tend to gravitate to movies and shows that I think will make me happy, or at the very least, make me think! Unlike professional critics, I don’t have to soldier through a movie that’s not working for me. I can always turn it off and walk away. I never hate-watch anything because life is too short to be subjecting myself to unpleasant movie-watching experiences as a form of fun! I love movies though, and can always find something I liked about most of the things I subject myself to.

And that’s the same aesthetic I carried into the TV series I watched this year. There were a lot of superhero shows, some comedies (a lot of standup), all of the MCU series except Loki, and lots of Youtube.

Spiderman: No Way Home

I do not as a general rule, rank things according to best to worst, or by numbers. My mind simply doesn’t work that way. For me, I either liked a movie, or I didn’t, and it starts with how the movie made me feel. If I didn’t like it, I won’t expend any more energy thinking about it, beyond what went wrong for me. That said, while this isn’t my absolute favorite movie this year, it is extremely high on my list of favorites because:

I went to the theater for the first time since 2019, and the first time without Mom. I took my niece and nephew instead. My nephew is ten and is a huge Spiderman fan, even though he doesn’t read comic books! It was so much fun sitting there speculating about the plot and characters with him, while trying to keep my youngest niece from eating all the popcorn and making herself sick. My oldest niece, The Potato, couldn’t make it.

I rated this movie at the top of my list largely because of the fun factors of going to the theater with my family, and the movie itself. My nephew and I are both huge Spiderman fans, so we were probably gonna like it regardless! And it was pretty neat watching him be excited about the two Spidermen that he wasn’t around to see that first time, as he’s only been alive since the Holland era!

I have a different attitude towards being a comic book/superhero nerd than a lot of other people. I do not engage in gatekeeping because the way I grew up I was wholly and completely alone in these geeky interests. There wasn’t anyone around to be geeky with, so I’m loving this thing where I get to share these interests with my nephew, who is also incredibly knowledgable, for one so young!

Expect to read more of my takes on Spiderman in the coming weeks.

Dune

I absolutely loved this movie, which has so much depth that, like most of Villeneuve’s movies, it’s gonna take a minute (and probably several posts and re-watches) to sort out my thoughts and feelings. If I had to rank this film I would put this at not only my most hotly anticipated film, but the best SciFi movie of the year.

Like Bladerunner 2049, this is a very immersive film, not just visually, but through plot, sound, and character. I’ve watched this multiple times, (it was on HBOMax), and the more I think of it, the more layers I find. Villenueve really did an exceptional job with this film, and I will be discussing this some more when Dune returns to HBOMax at the end of this month.

The Suicide Squad

And this is why it’s so hard for my brain to rank movies. I absolutely loved this film too, and would also count this one as one of the best movies of the year. This movie isn’t half as shallow as people think it is, considering it is a kind of grindhouse/found-family/superhero movie. I mean, if you’re a fan of the show Invincible, or the TV series The Boys, or Preacher, you might like this movie. It’s gory, fun, funny, utterly ridiculous, and has a surprising amount of pathos. I posted about this earlier. I am one of five people who are readily willing to admit that they actually liked the first movie too. I loved the characters mostly, and their interactions, and this movie built on that beautifully, even if I did miss Will Smith.

James Gunn has an incredible knack for taking characters you’re not supposed to like, characters who are villains, and making them nuanced and sympathetic. He even manages to make the final boss, Starro the Conqueror, a sympathetic character! He’s really good at getting you to care about them, and he’s done this in movie, after movie, after movie, from Dawn of the Dead, to Slither, to Guardians of the Galaxy. I trust him as a director, and can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next (probably Guardians of the Galaxy 3).

The Harder They Fall

I spoke briefly about this movie before it was released on Netflix. This movie just has a coolness factor that is simply unparalleled. It’s definitely the kind of movie Quentin Tarantino would’ve loved, except with a lot less use of the N*word. (That’s the difference between having a white director vs a Black one. White directors like Tarantino will throw that word around in the script, with no regard for Black audiences, because they think it’s more important to be edgy. Black directors almost never do this without considering that Black people will be watching it. Not that they don’t use the word, but when they do, it usually serves more purpose.)

That said, the movie’s focus is on style, and feelings, and not so much on truth or facts. Most of the characters in the movie lived in slightly different time periods, and never met each other, but that’s not a drawback, as far as I’m concerned, although some people seemed outraged at the idea. The movie is also a who’s who of Black cinema with Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Zazie Beetz, and my personal favorite (as an actor and a character) Lakeith Stanfield, who is very possibly, one of the coolest Black men to ever be seen in a Western!

The movie doesn’t just have a coolness factor, there are layers, and it pays to know a little bit about the time period in which the film is set, which is that little slice of time just after the Civil War. So much of the history of the West has been thoroughly whitewashed, but basically all the stories you either watched and or read about that only had white characters, well Black, Brown, and Indigenous people were all engaging in the same types of stories. They formed gangs, committed crimes, caught criminals, loved, fought, and died on horseback, too, and we never got any of these stories because a film industry run almost entirely by straight white men wasn’t interested in telling them.

Army of the Dead

For some reason, this movie caught a lot of flack from critics for being dumb, but I enjoyed it because sometimes the term dumb is being used in place of “fun”! That said, this is one of the more fun zombie films ever made. It’s not on the level of Shaun of the Dead, but it was a lot of fun, with a surprising amount of depth of feeling. I wrote about this movie in an earlier review, and I talked about Zack Snyder’s relationship to the film and its characters.

I do wonder why no one ever decided to combine the heist narrative with the zombie apocalypse, and I hope to see more of these kinds of zombie mashups in the future.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

As I said in an earlier post, I wasn’t one of the people clamoring for the release of this movie. I was largely indifferent to the first version, and gave it no more thought after I watched it. There was a lot of the movie that, while watchable, just didn’t impress me much. But the Snyder cut deepened two of my favorite characters, who got short shrift in the theatrical version, and gave me mad respect for an old character that I just wasn’t feeling before: The Flash, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman, and I will always love this movie for that.

It doesn’t hurt that the villain was significantly more impressive, the plot was more coherent, and the action scenes looked excessively cool, especially Wonder Woman’s scenes. I discussed all of this in one of my mini reviews last year.

The Eternals

I generally liked The Eternals. I am a big fan of Chloe Zhao because of Nomadland, and I really “enjoyed” that movie, and I could definitely see her flavor of filmmaking here. It was a very “comfortable”, and “comforting” movie to settle into, because she has a different, quieter, and less “jangly” style of filmmaking than the other MCU films. The sounds, color, characters, all it just felt different.

As I said before, my way “into” a movie is often through its characters. The characters are quirky, or interesting, or sometimes I just see myself in them, and I think that’s why I liked the characters in this movie so much. They’re superpowered characters who just felt like people, and I actually liked all of them. I feel like the characters, and their relationships with one another was the movie’s strongest aspect.

The movie’s weakest aspect was the plot, which feels a bit disjointed at first, but then after a while, it just falls flat. I simply didn’t care about the plot, and I wasn’t invested in it. I will watch it again because the characters are all so likable, and the absolute best part of the film, but the plot didn’t move me at all!

Rurouni Kenshin: The Finale/The Beginning

I have an entire post dedicated to this five-part series of live-action movies, based on the anime. Keep in mind that that post will be only about the films because I never watched any of the anime, or read the manga. There is a lot to be said about this series, which is fun and action packed, and like a lot of Japanese projects has elements of everything: war, romance, martial arts, comedy. Right now, the last two parts of this series is available on Netflix, so check it out before I finish writing my review!

The Green Knight

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this movie. It’s very much a “were you feeling it”, dream sequence style of movie. If you’re not onboard with dream logic, magical plot points, and weird characters, or are simply unfamiliar with the original story of Gawain and the Green Knight, you’re not going to get a lot of mileage out of this movie beyond the visuals. That said, I didn’t get a lot of meaning out of it, although I’m sure it’s in there. I was simply too caught up in just following the story, and the cinematography, which is okay since it takes multiple viewings for me to get to the meaning of something at times, and I have not had the opportunity to re-watch it, since I haven’t rented it again. The movie is definitely haunting me though, so I may have to.

Candyman

A lot of people claimed that this movie was too slow, it didn’t have enough gore or killing in it, (as if that were the only criteria for a Horror movie), and that the plot made no sense, but Candyman is essentially a mashup of a slasher film and a ghost story, and I found it very satisfactory. Yes, it started off slow, but that is entirely in keeping with the narrative of the ghost story, where the foundation has to be set up before we can move on to the actual “haunting” section of the story, and I don’t mind slow-moving Horror.

I was impressed with how much of the original story was integrated into this one, and of course, there might have been some people who were confused about what type of movie this was, because knowing that makes it easier to slot it into a category they can understand. This definitely isn’t a prequel, and it’s not exactly a remake. It’s more of an updated sequel, continuing the story that was set up in the last movie, but with new information (since the Cabrini Green Housing Projects are now extinct), and new characters, and expanding the story to give it a kind of global mythology, and I really liked that.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen turns in a great performance, which is a sort of a reprisal of the role of Helen, in the first film. I’m getting really attached to this actor, because he keeps showing up in everything I want to watch. If you were hoping for more of Tony Todd, then you’ll be disappointed, because this version isn’t really about him, and he doesn’t turn up until the end of the movie. I feel like people’s mileage may vary regarding Horror movies depending on what expectations they bring into it. I’m not quite sure what I expected. I went into this having read the original story by Clive Barker, but only having watched the first movie a couple of times, and not being especially impressed by it.

As I said, this is a quiet, dialogue-heavy film that relies more on producing feelings of dread than gore and body counts, and I was here for it. Is it as good as Get Out, or Us? Maybe not, but I am here for this new wave of Horror movies featuring Black casts and mythologies, from the above named films, and movies like Vampires vs Brooklyn, to TV shows like Lovecraft Country.

Honorable Mentions:

Last Night in Soho

This movie made this list because I’ve always been fascinated by 1960’s London fashion and culture, which this movie captures beautifully. It’s not a great film, but it makes a really good effort at being great, it looks gorgeous, and it’s by one of my favorite directors, Edgar Wright. The drawback was that I wasn’t feeling the characters and plot that deeply. I just wasn’t very emotionally engaged with what happened to any of the characters, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t check it out. Its exceptionally stylish, and you may feel about the characters in a way that I didn’t.

Haloween Kills

There has been a lot of criticism of this movie as being stupid, and I feel I need to make the distinction here. The characters in the film are deeply stupid, which is par for the course when it comes to Horror movies, so I’m not sure why people are outraged about it here. The film itself has a point it wants to make, and I feel makes it beautifully. If the first film was about dealing with the aftermath of traumatic events, than this movie is about regret. I spoke about this in a previous post, and I stand by that. This was also the last Horror movie I watched with my Mom, who was, shall I say…unimpressed.

A GAME EFFORT:

These are movies that made a pretty game effort at being my favorites of the year, or at least the most entertaining, but for one reason or another just fell short. Not that I didn’t enjoy them, or that they were bad films, they just didn’t make it into the top ten.

These movies are all still well worth watching, and I watched a lot more movies than the ones on this list, but some movies stick in your memory, and others just don’t.

Shang Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings

This is another movie where the plot fell flat for me, but I absolutely loved the characters and the action. The stand out character for me wasn’t Shang Chi, but his father, Wenwu, played by one of my favorite actors, Tony Leung. I think I may be in love with his heartfelt, soulful facial expressions, and that voice! He’s just dreamy…uhm okay…let move on.

Like I said, the weakest part was the plot. There are a few moments that pulled me right out of the film, or that I simply didn’t like, although the action scenes were very good, until the end of the movie, when all the fighting went on just a little too long, and so was a little bit tiresome. The same problem I ran into while watching Black Panther. It’s about people, until the end, then it’s just a too long action sequence with not enough “people” in it. Contrast that ending with the ending of The Eternals, or even Avengers Endgame, which still had some great character defining moments during the last fight scene.

But I do like Shang Chi, and the movie would’ve been higher on this list, except it got beat out by a couple of other films. It’s a fun, entertaining film, with two of my favorite actors, (Michelle Yeoh, and Tony Leung), and I’m really looking forward to whatever movie the “almost as likable as Spiderman”, Shang Chi shows up next!

Matrix Resurrections

I tried really hard to like this movie. I loved the action sequences, and one of the two primary characters was played by Jessica Henwick, who I was surprised to see got a lot (and I mean a lot!) of screen time. I loved her character, and Yahya’s version of Morpheus was great, and totally bad ass. I was less than impressed with Neo’s role, but Carrie Ann Moss’ character was good in the quieter, dialogue heavy moments, which I actually liked. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed her first meeting with Neo.

Where the movie fell flat, for me, was its treatment of mental illness, and parts of the plot. As I’ve said before, I’ve had some mental illness and suicide issues in the past, and parts of this movie were less enjoyable for me because they hit just a little too close to home, and kind of broadsided me with no warning. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad film, it just means it was especially triggering for me. I was very excited to see it, though, and will definitely watch it again, because the action scenes are really cool, and I really enjoyed the ending.

Also, I’m still not invested in Neo and Trinity’s relationship. They either have no chemistry or I’m still just not feeling it. The plot of the movie needs some work, and there were bits of it that felt a little soul-less, although there’s more humor in it than the last movies. I’m a big fan of the Wachowski Sisters, and I enjoyed Sense8, so I’m on board with anything else Lana comes up with in the future.

And Let’s Not Forget:

Black Widow

Once again, the characters were great, and I liked the action, but the plot didn’t impress me much, and I kept wandering off to do something else, while the movie played in the background. The best character in the entire movie, of course, was Yelena, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing her in the Hawkeye TV series. I

I’ve been really impressed by Florence Pugh (Yelena). The last time I saw her was in Midsommar, where she simply tore it up, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where her career goes in the MCU. She is a worthy successor to the old Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson. Interestingly it’s the Yelena version of Black Widow that I’m most familiar from the comic books. I was well aware of the other Black Widow, but indifferent to her, never paying much attention, and I never read any of her adventures. I do remember some stories of Yelena and Hawkeye working together though.

Antlers

This is a pretty solid and gory horror movie that is yet again, about the Wendigo, and I’m here for it. It’s scary enough, but also a little predictable, the plot, and some of the acting didn’t meet my exacting criteria/s, so it didn’t make it very high on my list, but I just watched it, and it seems to be sticking with me, and I guess that’s a good thing. Not as good as Last Night in Soho, but better than Halloween Kills, I think.

Lamb

I really liked this one, but I didn’t love it. It’s about a couple on a sheep farm, who lost their daughter fairly recently, and have not moved on from their grief. When one of their sheep gives birth to a half lamb, half human creature (thanks to a large half man, half ram creature assaulting their flock), they steal it, and raise it as their own. You can guess that things come to a bad end.

I cannot say the movie is “enjoyable” because it’s just too disturbing for that, but it is dreadful, and haunting, and that’s enough to make it onto this list.

Yay!!! New Movie and TV Trailers

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

This is a movie I’m excited about. To be honest, I was really surprised at how much I liked the first movie, despite my misgivings, and the director’s mis-steps in casting. This sort of plot is more like it, considering the wild and crazy shit that Strange got up to in the comic books. I’m still not a fan of Wanda though. I will never, I think, be a fan of that character, and have always been indifferent to her in the comic books. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t like her either. I do, however, like the actress, just fine. My mind likes to make the distinction, I guess. I do not like Cumberbatch, for example, but I do like a lot of the characters he plays. Go figure!

I have the distinct memory of seeing an ad for the Doctor Strange comic book in one of the X-men titles I was reading and making a special effort to find his books. I was not disappointed. Doctor Strange is one of the few comic books I was really excited to read and equally excited there was going to be a movie about him. Hopefully, I can see this in the theater with my nephew, who is really into the MCU, and has made plans for us both to go see this.

The King’s Man

I am mildly excited about this movie, largely based on my liking for the first film in this series. I hated the second film, though. I tried to watch that one three times, and fell asleep the first time, and lost interest after I tried watching it a second and third time. Three attempts are all a movie is going to get. I am “cautiously” excited about this one, mostly because it has some interesting actors in it, and I like fictional stories involving Rasputin. Why? I don’t know. I’m just weird!

I say cautiously excited because I was also just as excited about that last Three Musketeers movie (and I love The Three Musketeers), and I fell asleep on that one too. To be absolutely fair, it could just be that I am a sleepy person, and these movies aren’t actually boring, but I’ll never know now because I have no intention of trying to watch them again.

The Northman

For reasons known only to god, the devil, and Bob, I am fascinated by movies about Vikings. Now, along with a new television series about Vikings, here’s this movie that I will definitely be watching. On the plus side, watching these types of movies has led me to do the proper reading on this topic, so I can know, (more or less), what’s historically accurate, and what isn’t, and that’s been fun, too. It turns out that being a Viking wasn’t nearly as exciting as it looks in movies, since most of them were actually farmers, and that whole looting and Viking thing was a kind of chosen profession, sort of like joining the military, only more mercenary.

Now, this has a stellar cast, with Nicole Kidman, Willen Defoe, Bjork (who is my funny personal favorite), and Alexander Skarsgard, who is lookin’ kinda hot, and it’s from the same guy who made one of my favorite Horror movies, The Witch. What’s it about? I have no idea, but it does appear to contain elements of the supernatural, which is just fine with me.

Naomi

I am not normally a CW watcher, because I don’t have cable or television anymore, and I pretty much just stream everything. That said, if I can find a way to stream this series, without adding the CW app to my lineup, I will do just that. This looks intriguing, and for some reason, heavily reminds me of a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It doesn’t hurt that it’s produced by Ava Duvernay, one of the few Black female directors I’m generally on board with because she’s interested in making Fantasy and SciFi projects, of which this is one.

So yeah, none of those projects have been successful, but I’m still rooting for her. She will eventually get a hit. Maybe this will be it. It doesn’t hurt that it’s based on a superhero comic book by Brian Michael Bendis, who I also happen to like. No, I have not read the comic book, so I will be walking into this one blind.

Spiritwalker

I like Detective stories, and I like the supernatural, so I will always show up for a mashup of the two. That said, this looks pretty good. The fight scenes look good, it heavily reminds me of The Man From Nowhere, and South Korea has been hitting these Action films out of the park for the last five years, so I’m looking forward to watching this.

Hopefully, it will show up on one of my streaming apps.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I’m really excited to see this one because it stars one of my all-time favorite actresses, Michelle Yeoh. I like seeing her play non-Actiony dramatic roles as well as her Martial roles, and this looks like an interesting combination of both of those, along with some multiverse action. Also, Michelle looks really good in this movie.

I love movies that are mashups of well…everything, all at once and this looks wild, and mind-bending, and complicated…and it’s interesting to me that audiences have become sophisticated enough that movies like this are a regular occurrence. Mindbending movies like this existed long before this but they didn’t do particularly well at the box office and a lot of them were Indie films. Now, these wildly hallucinogenic movies are major blockbusters, and I blame Christopher Nolan!

I’m Looking Forward To…

It’s time for me to start posting again, and there’s no better way to start than by lobbing this fun, softball topic at you guys: What am I looking forward to watching, on movie and TV screens, in the coming year, and why! I got the video evidence, y’all! Let’s talk about…

Matrix 4: Resurrections

I’m really looking forward to this third sequel to the original movie. I have not always liked the work of the Wachowski Sisters, but The Matrix is one of their best creations, and even the sequels, as bad as they are, work better than a lot of the action movies that showed up in their aftermath. Unlike a lot of fans of this movie, I wasn’t a teenager when I saw it. I was a grown-ass woman, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t affected by it. I remember the feeling I had watching the original trailer, and the deep feeling of disconnection from reality after leaving the theater, which I experience with very few movies (Terminator 2 was another one). I have no intention of seeing this in theaters. I will watch it on HBO at home. Apparently, not being willing to see it in theaters, makes me a monster.

It appears as if Keanu is reprising his role as another iteration of The One. As was mentioned in the third film, Neo was not the first iteration of The One. There have been several before him, and what these trailers seem to imply is that we are in some, much later, iteration of The One Saga, as evidenced by an older version of Jada Pinkett Smith’s character, Niobe, and the lack of Morpheus. Morpheus’ character has been replaced by a younger version, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen, especially in the new training montage, I assume is there to get this newer version of Neo up to speed on his position within the Matrix.

Trinity appears to be much more key to the plot of this film than she was to the other sequels, and there are some exciting new characters involved, although I still do wish there were more Asian people in the cast, (mostly because Seraph, aka The Oracle’s Guardian Angel, from Matrix Reloaded, is one of my favorite characters). On the plus side, Jessica Henwick (of Netflix’s Iron Fist) is being impressive as an asskicker in the trailer,

Spiderman: No Way Home

This is the movie I plan to see in the theater next week. I would not have been able to get my Mom to see this with me, because she was immunocompromised, and not a Spiderman fan. However, I do have a nephew, and an ex- brother in law, who are both ardent Spiderman fans, so I guess we’re going to the movies.

I’m trying really hard not to listen to the tired grumbling of people who hate the MCU, or Spiderman, or superhero films in general. Thank grod, I’m not all up on social media like that, because I love Spiderman! Yes, I love any Spiderman films (some less than others, but still). I’ve also seen nearly every iteration of Spiderman that exists (including that 80s live-action Nicholas Hammond version, and that weird Japanese thing!). I’m actually one of a handful of people who actually enjoyed the previous Spiderman movies with Andrew Garfield (yeah, okay, # 2 really did stink though), and I even liked that third Tobey Maguire film, so I am eagerly looking forward to seeing these past Spidermen show up in this movie, along with the foundational members of The Sinister Six. But what I’m really hoping to get an answer for is: What’s up with Dr. Strange, and why does he seem out of character in these trailers? He just “feels” wrong, somehow.

I’m a huge fan of the Spiderverse comic run, and I love the idea of multiple universes truly being introduced into the MCU. For me, that’s just an opportunity to tell wilder and more outrageous stories about characters I already love. It’s interesting that we’re going through this phase of alternate Earth movies at this particular time, just like the “virtual worlds” trend of movies in the late 90s. In fact, the idea of multiple worlds has so completely permeated American society that it’s become a running joke that we are all living in the “worse timeline”! and we’ve adopted words like “variant” into our vocabularies. So yeah, that is a thing that’s happening, even though the idea of alternate worlds (Buffy, Dr. Who, Groundhog Day) has been something that was always a part of Fantastical Scifi shows, movies, and comic books, and I just think it’s kind of funny that this trend is happening right now.

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse 2

More Spiderman! Yay!!! More Multiple Earths! Yay!!!

I’m really looking forward to this, because I was a big fan of the first film, although I started out rather indifferent to Miles Morales as Spiderman (in the comic books), he’s really grown on me as a character, (because he’s so wholesome!) and I’m now a huge fan, and have gone back to read some of the earlier comic books.

This one is also doing the multiverse thing, which I’m excited about because of the introduction of Spiderman 2099, which I read about when I was much, much, younger. What I hope for from this movie is more relationship stuff between Miles and his parents, (What was he being grounded for?), and whatever slow burn I see developing between him and Alterna-Gwen. I’m pretty sure that relationship isn’t canon, but I don’t care., because they’re just really cute together. Anyway, this movie is at least a whole year away, so I’ll have lots of chances to talk about it before then.

Peacemaker

The Suicide Squad was hands down one of my favorite movies this year, so I was inclined to think kindly of this character, even though he wasn’t even close to being one of my favorites in the film. I recently re-watched the movie, and I can see what people like about the character, so yeah, I’m gonna watch this. I was indifferent to John Cena. I mean, he seemed likable enough, I know about his past in professional wrestling, and I’ve seen him in a couple of other movies, but he didn’t otherwise make much of an impression on me. I clocked his presence and kept it moving. But any man who is brave enough to play his character completely straight, while standing around a movie set in his tightie-whities, has my respekt!

So yeah, I’ll be watching this, not because I especially love his character, although Peacemaker is a very sympathetic bad guy, but because I wanna see Cena act his pants off. I also like the other characters too, and need I say that it’s very heartening to see a dark-skinned Black woman as part of the cast, who is not centered as the comedy relief, because the whole thing is a comedy, and it all looks like hella fun. Yes, I intend very much to live vicariously through her character, and I refuse to be shamed for that! Robert Patrick is present, and I haven’t seen him in a while, and the other characters seem interesting, too. This better be good.

The Book of Boba Fett

When I was a kid, we’re talking maybe ten or eleven years old, I was a big Star Wars fan. This was before discovering Star Trek. My favorite character from The Empire Strikes Back was the mysterious bounty hunter in the coolest outfit. I remember I had one of those toy Boba Fett dolls, too.

I’m just a tiny bit wary of this series, because being mysterious was a huge part of Boba Fett’s appeal for me, and I hope they keep at least some of that. Don’t tell me everything about him. In fact, tell me nothing, and just let him have adventures, like in The Mandalorian. it also doesn’t hurt that I like the actor too. The first time I saw this guy, (Temuera Morrison), was in a movie called Once Were Warriors, released in the 90s. If you haven’t seen it, you need to get on it, because that movie was intense. (Warning for domestic abuse, and sexual assault, though.) It’s been interesting watching his career expand. There really are so few Maori actors in this industry, that the handful that are present really tend to stand out.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

Monsters!! Whoooo!!!

For what it’s worth, I did enjoy the very first movie in this franchise, mostly for the monsters. I am not a fan of Milla Jovovich, not because I think she’s a bad person, but because she is a truly awful actress. She seems like a nice person, who is reasonably intelligent, (she could not have lasted as long as she has in the industry otherwise,) but I’m glad she’s not associated with this “reboot” and has moved on to other movies I won’t watch. I pretty much did without the other movies in this series because of her. That said, I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of going to see this in a theater, as it looks pretty intense, and I don’t want to pay good money to sit there with my eyes covered! I also intend to watch this in full daylight on some idle Saturday afternoon.

That is my plan. I’m probably gonna be really scared, because: Monsters!!! but I intend to do it anyway because I am also very brave!

The Batman

I am warily enthusiastic about, yet another, iteration of Batman, although I am comforted by some of the reviews and statements, from the creators, that this Batman will focus more on detection, than ass-kicking, although that doesn’t look too bad. I like the idea of Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, and it is very heartening to know that an action film director remembers that Black women exist, (since they usually don’t) but I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of the Riddler, and hope that he’s a very different depiction than the ones we’ve gotten before, although I am probably one of five people who does not hate Jim Carey’s version.

On the other hand, I am glad they chose a different villain (I would have preferred Two-Face, or The Penguin, because we do not need yet another version of some mediocre actor’s interpretation of The Joker. As far as I’m concerned, Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and Joaquin Pheonix are the top three actors in that role, and that’s that. (Okay I will give a shoutout to Mark Hamill!) I’m not sure where to fit Robert Pattinson in his role as Batman. I’ve liked a couple of other actors in the role, and it remains to be seen if he will measure up to Michael Keaton, or Christian Bale.

Jurassic World: Dominion

I love dinosaurs! I have loved them since I was a little kid. I watched all the dinosaurs visit the big city movies (Valley of the Gwangi), and all those Godzilla films, and anything with Kaiju in it. Something about ancient monsters tearing up modern inventions hits me in the feels. I don’t know why! So you can imagine how giddy I am at the idea of modern day dinosaurs. There are two big drawbacks to this movie and that’s the plot, (I have no idea if it’s any good, or will stink as bad as the last movie) and Chris Pratt. I like him just fine in Guardians of the Galaxy, where he is deeply funny, but he is waaaay too bland to be any kind of dramatic actor. He is also my least favorite of the Chrises because he’s kinda “socially distasteful”.

On the other hand, there is the return of the OG Jurassic crew. I will watch Jeff Goldblum in anything, and yes, I have watched his TV series on Disney +, which is one of the main reasons I subscribed to it, even though I had no plans to subscribe to any more streaming services. Anywhoo, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill are returning, so this movie better be great, with lots of dinosaurs chasing people around the city type of action, Goldblum popping off some great one-liners, Sam Neill looking concerned, and Laura Dern saving the day.

In 2022: These are all movies I’m greatly looking forward to, but I don’t yet have trailers for them. Expect to see those as soon as they are released.

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Hopefully this movie will explain why Dr. Strange seems so “odd” in the latest Spiderman film. I believe Wanda, (who has never been a favorite or even likable character, although I will tolerate her in a lot of stuff), will be making an appearance.

John Wick Chapter 4 – I’m very much looking forward to this. The John wick movies are the Jason Bourne movies of the 21st century. You know, the kind of Action movies everyone will be riffing off of for the next ten years.

The Flash – I just like Ezra Miller. I thought he did a great job in the Justice League film, and I want to see more of him.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Hopefully, this movie will tie into the Multiverse of madness introduced in the Dr. Strange movies, and explain why T’Challa is missing. If we’re really lucky, we will get to see an alternate universe version of The Black Panther played by either Michael B Jordan, or Letitia Wright. I am excited to see the introduction of another Black female superhero, Ironheart, who has been a big favorite of mine, since she was first introduced in the comic books.

Halloween Ends – The last movie in the newest Halloween trilogy. I hope to see more of Laurie Strode in this one, and that Michael finally gets what’s coming to him.

Up Next: I watched Dune, The Eternals, and Nomadland.

Halloween Music

Here are ten of my all-time favorite Halloween songs. I tried to list the songs that a lot of people don’t usually think of listening to during the Halloween season, but will definitely be heard, if you watch scary shows and movies.

One song that won’t be seen on this list is Michael Jackson’s Thriller, because that is sort of the official song of Halloween, and it’s a given that it would be everyone’s favorite at every party. No, this list is for the not quite so well known songs, or songs that aren’t frequently thought of as being for Halloween. Some of these songs are actually pretty scary, so probably aren’t suitable for parties, as it would immediately kill the mood, but there is at least one party style song on this list.

Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett

This is the classic Halloween novelty song, released in 1962. The first time I heard this song, I was just a kid, and naturally, I was immediately charmed by it, and this song has never lost the ability to make me sing along and smile.

This Is Halloween – The Nightmare Before Xmas – Danny Elfman

This was yet another charming little song that, when I first heard it, immediately made me laugh, and sing along. Every year, I never miss an opportunity to loudly sing this in my car. The visuals are actually scary, managing to capture all of those little childhood terrors that pop up in the middle of the night, except for the vampires, though.

They’re brothers, according to the game based on the film, and I thought they were some of the cutest, little, tiny-head, vampire-bat people I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I would love to have one of those as a doll!

*Sigh* I’ll probably have to make it myself.

The Exorcist – Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield

Now, I have told y’all the story of how my mother would not allow me to watch this movie, saying it was too much for me, but when I reached a certain age, (I think maybe 13 or 14), she allowed me to watch the adult supervised, edited for television, version. (My mom loved Horror movies, and I often watched them with her, but she didn’t just let me watch whatever I wanted willy-nilly. She was often present, and we almost always watched the edited for TV versions of some of the scariest ones.)

Well, anyway, even watching it with adult supervision was a mistake, because a couple of weeks after I saw it, the city experienced an earthquake. This happened after my bedtime, so the timing on this was simply incredible!!! I’m not gonna go into details, but you can imagine what happened after that, for yourselves. (Like the little girl in the movie, I crawled into Mom’s bed whenever I had a nightmare.)

All ofthis to say, I didnt think this was an actual song. I thought, like most of the music I heard in movies, that it was made up for the film. Imagine my surprise several years later, when I came across the Mike Oldfield album in the library, called Tubular Bells! I only stumbled across it because I was heavily into Electronic music, and listening to some of the early stuff, and the album was just in that section. Even without the film’s visuals, the music is deeply creepy, and guaranteed to kill any kind of partying mood.

Halloween – Main Title Theme – John Carpenter

You can play this at a party, and it probably wouldn’t even kill the mood, because Michael Myer’s theme song slaps! This is the iconic theme from the 1978 version of Halloween, which was also written by the film’s director, John Carpenter. I didn’t see this movie until I was nearly an adult, and I was not particularly impressed at the time, but I’ve since grown to like it a lot. Some things you can’t truly appreciate until you reach a certain level of maturity, perhaps.

Danse Macabre – Camille Saint-Saens

Its amazing to me the kinds of influences a teacher can have on a child. My greatest memories of this song come from my elementary school music teacher, Ms. Blaylock. I loved this teacher so much, and even though she passed many years ago, I love her still, and hope to meet her in any afterlife that exists.

I learned to read music from her, and when she formed an all girl band of tambourine players, I joined that, I learned to play the piano from her, and she even introduced me to The Bee Gees, but one of the most interesting things she taught me was that even devout Christian women like her could find scary things (including Halloween) fun.

Ms. Blaylock would play this song in class every year, and I always looked forward to the quiet times we spent in class just listening to the kinds of music that a bunch of inner city kids would otherwise have never been exposed to, outside of Looney Tunes. She had wide ranging tastes, and I credit her with having adopted at least some of that, as my own musical tastes are all over the place.

No One Believes Me – Kid Cudi – Fright Night 2017

I absolutely love this video. I would rather watch an entire series based on the premise of this song and video, than the mediocre movie it was made for. There’s this quiet suburban neighborhood being slowly taken over by vampires, and this guy is anguished about what he is, the things he’s done, and what’s happening to the world he used to live in, as he walks the streets at night. Movies about Black vampires are pretty rare, and I would love to see a film with vampires and people of color, in a suburban setting, and not done as a comedy.

This is very much a song for Halloween, but is also one of those party-killers I mentioned. Its hard to dance to this level of angst and depression.

In the Hall of the Mountain King – Grieg (Peer Gynt Suite No.1) (From the movie Needful Things)

I first heard this song in a Stephen King film called Needful Things. Here, the Town Selectman, named Buster, who has a beef with one of the officers in the Sheriff’s department, comes home to find derogatory notes placed all over his house, by Nettie, who was put up to it by the devil, disguised as an antiques store owner.

This is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite scenes in a Stephen King film, and makes the entire movie worth watching, even if you don’t like King’s films. Its fun, suspenseful, and there’s a great payoff, later in the film.

Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell

I heard this song as a teenager, and from what I remember, it took some time for people to figure out that it was Michael Jackson singing the background vocals, and then everyone’s next question was, why? Who is Rockwell that he can get one of the most famous men in America, who was nearly at the height of his career, to do the background vocals ( since Michael Jackson almost never featured on other people’s songs). It turns out that Rockwell was related to Michael by marriage, because his sister, also the daughter of Motown’s Berry Gordy, was married to Michael’s brother Jermaine.

The video for the song is mostly funny, but the lyrics themselves are pretty creepy, and are a precursor to some of Michael’s later paranoid themes about being so incredibly famous.

Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon

The first time I heard this song I was a teenager. My first question was, wtf?!!! There’s a song about werewolves? I couldn’t believe that someone would write a song like this. This is one of my favorite, year round, Halloween ditties. I love the beat, and the lyrics, how even though its about werewolves, its not at all scary, because the visuals are deeply funny to me, and just the whole aesthetic is enough to immediately put me in great mood for the rest of the day.

I Got Five On It – Luniz

This song is not at all scary as far as the lyrics. Its your typical gangsta rap drama about drugs and moneymaking from the 90s. However, I have never liked this song because the beat always creeped me the hell out. This song gained its official Halloween status, thanks to Jordan Peele heavily featuring it in his last directorial role, US, and now, well I kinda like it. It suit the movie so well ,and it was really nice to know I wasn’t the only person who heard it, and thought it would sound great in a Horror movie.

Honorable Mentions:

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

A song about death ought to be considered a Halloween song.

Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper

The first time I’d ever even heard of Alice Cooper, I was a very little kid, and he featured this song in an episode of The Muppets, and I distinctly remember thinking, that’s not a real singer. I thought he was a made up character for the show. It took several years for me to figure out that he was an actual Rock performer, with a career and everything, and this scary, monstery, stuff was his schtick!

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

I heard this song in the 1980s vampire movie, The Hunger, which I wasn’t supposed to be watching, I don’t think, and my thoughts at the time was, “Hey! I know who Bela Lugosi is!”, and “They got songs about vampires, now?!!!” I don’t want to say that I found the song charming…because I didn’t. Personally, I found the song terrifying, and to this day, I’m not entirely sure why.

Note: Tomorrow is Friday Oct. 22nd, which means that Dune will finally be released on HBOMax. I’ll have more to discuss next week, and the week after that I hope to have seen the movies, Antlers and Last Night in Soho.

Movies I Watched In September 2021

Black Widow

Black Widow GIFs | Tenor

Overall, I liked this movie a lot. I can’t say I was especially enthused when I heard they were going to be making it, because at the time I was clamoring for a Black Widow movie, Disney insisted on not giving us one, and I felt that this movie was too little too late, and I had a strong desire to be petty, but I also decided to show some appreciation for what was given.. I wouldn’t call this movie a joy to watch, because if you saw Avengers Endgame, you know why, but it was a lot of fun, and that was largely due to Florence Pugh.

The first time I saw Miss Pugh she was having an English food mukbang on Youtube, which I found enjoyable, even though I had no idea who she was at the time. The last time I saw Miss Pugh was in Midsommar, where she did an exemplary job as a woman in distress, and she shows her range here. She is the best character in the movie, right next to David Harbour’s Red Guardian. I barely remember anything about Rachel Weisz’ character, other than she was present and delivered her lines. I kind of felt the same way about Scarlet, but then I was predisposed to dislike her because she has tried very hard, in the past five years, to get on my last nerve, and succeeded. Perhaps Scarlett Johansson needs to shut up when someone holds a microphone up to her face, because she is sure to put her foot on top of it. Nevertheless, despite my feelings for her, she did turn in her usual competent job as Black Widow here, and even managed to have some really good scenes with Miss Pugh.

yelena posing black widow - AllEars.Net

The story is pretty basic, although its not done in a basic manner. There’s the usual going back to clear up one’s past regrets, some familial dysfunction gets cleared up, and there’s some origin story stuff thrown in for good measure. I was mostly into the family stuff, which was the strongest part of the movie, and the action scenes, which were pretty good. I could’ve done without the “pseudo rape culture” type stuff in the plot, with the villain and his armies of brainwashed little girls. That was just “ewww”, but I guess that was the point, making him as unlikable as possible.

It was kind of weird watching the opening scene, where we see Natasha as a little girl, playing in the park with her sister, only to find out that wasn’t her sister, her parents were not her parents and she’s probably not Russian. I felt some type of way about seeing that, but I’m not yet sure what type of way that is yet. I loved Pugh as Yelena, though. She really nailed it as Natasha’s annoying little sister, the put upon daughter, and the badass government agent, and she made her interactions with Natasha very watchable, and funny, so much so, that I don’t remember much of Natasha’s other interactions with anyone. Pugh just kind of stole the whole movie, and I could watch an entire movie of her and David Harbour interacting with each other.

Yelena Belova Black Widow GIF - Yelena Belova Yelena Black Widow - Discover  & Share GIFs

After the first hour, the film follows the usual formula of a quiet opening, and we follow these characters to the bombastic ending, with lots of explosions, and turnabouts, and falling buildings, and what not, although for me the most exciting action scene was watching Natasha escape her captors at the beginning of the movie. That was very smooth, and showcased just how good Black Widow is at stealthy maneuvering.

This isnt a great movie, and it doesn’t even crack my top ten of MCU films, (coming soon!), but its not a bad film either, and worth the watch. If you decide to skip it, that’s okay. Your life will not be upheaved.

A Quiet Place 2

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My mother and I had been greatly looking forawrd to this movie. I don’t think she liked it a whole lot. She thinks there might be yet another sequel. I’m not anticipating such, but will take these movies as they come. I thought this movie, while not as enjoyable as the first, was well worth watching. I’m not really heavily into the apocalyptic genre, but I will enjoy the occasional end of the world scenario, and these movies are very well made, and move pretty quickly as far as the plot. I have a thing about children surviving the End of the World, I guess, because I thought well of movies like The Road Warrior, The Girl With All the Gifts, and The Road.

The opening sequence is very exciting, and shows what happened when the aliens first landed, I’m assuming this was an accident, and that the aliens were on their way somewhere else? You can watch the first five minutes of this on Youtube. Its all very terrifying, and I can only assume that it all happened so fast that humanity reality didn’t have time to rally against them, although we also learn there might be more of humanity left than we thought, since the aliens can’t swim.

The movie takes up where the last movie left off, with the remainders of the Abbot family moving on from their place of safety, since it has largely been ruined by flood and fire. They walk out into the world armed with the knowledge they learned about how to defeat the aliens, and wanting to share that information with the rest of the world. They meet other survivors, both good and bad, and Regan Abbot, the deaf girl from the first film, plays a much larger role of that of world savior, which I was okay with, because I like that actress a lot. I still have questions about how no one else in the world discovered what she did about the aliens, but Imma let that go, because the movie is otherwise very entertaining. I could also have done without the absence of PoC, and the deaths of the only two Black men in the film, but I’m long used to that kind of racial wtf*ery in Fantasy/SciFi movies, and there is a tiny part of me that couldn’t help but laugh at the (rather politically incorrect) idea that PoC are just loud, and maybe we’d be hardest hit by all of this.

This is a good enough movie, but I don’t know that this is the kind of movie that will become a classic over the next couple of decades. Sometimes I get a good feel for that sort of thing. I knew that about Bladerunner, Alien, and The Thing, but sometimes I don’t get any feel about that at all, and have to wait and see, just like everyone else, but there are few alien invasion films that make my top ten SciFi list, and these do, so that must mean something.

Blood Red Sky

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This is one of the most popular Horror films on Netflix right now, and well worth the watch. I even managed to get my Mom to watch this, and she said it was alright, which is very high praise coming from her. I’m not sure exactly what I expected when I sat down to watch this, but I was interested because “vampires!” It wasn’t what I expected, but it was very watchable, and and full of suspense, although I wasn’t particularly scared. If you’re expecting 30 Days of Night levels of suspense, than this isn’t your movie, because things are not quite that harrowing, although it does make a serious effort. But if you liked Army of the Dead, and Snakes on a Plane, then this is basically Army of the Dead on a Plane, only without the humor.

The lead character is a woman who was bitten by a vampire just after her son was born. She’s been raising him for the past ten years, while fighting against her vampiric condition, and is now headed to NY for some type of experimental procedure that will cure her of her “blood disease”, when their plane is hijacked by thieves, who are setting up some innocent Muslim passenger to take the fall for the hijacking. Her son gets caught in the crossfire between the thieves, the passenger, and the vampires. Disaster ensues with a bittersweet ending. For me, the film’s weakest point were people engaging in a number of questionable behaviors, but I didn’t feel like people were being stupid, and I actually liked some of the characters (especially the passenger and the little boy), and that went a long way towards the film’s general likability.

It’s not a great film. I don’t think this will ever become a classic, but its well worth the watch if you like vampire movies, and its a great choice for Halloween viewing. There’s also a certain amount of violence, and gore that comes with it, and of course there’s some child endangerment, if that’s something you can’t abide.

Snake Eyes

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This movie was somewhat disappointing, but only because I had high, John Wick level, expectations, and I was really enthusiastic to watch it. I enjoyed the second GI Joe movie, which starred Dwayne Johnson, hated the first one, and was kinda lukewarm about this one, so I will probably watch this again, and see if I feel any different. Right now though, I feel this could have been better, although it wasn’t a bad film. It looked really good, and the action scenes were alright, but there was no there there. It lacked emotional depth and appealing characters, but was otherwise a competent, middle-of-the-road, Action flick, set in Japan.

I’m a sucker for the whole Urban, Japan, Bladeruunner aesthetic. You could draw me into watching any movie with the those types of visuals, but in this case I felt the visuals were all promise and no payoff. Like I said, it looks really cool, there are some interesting martial arts and sword fighting scenes, but I didn’t care much about the characters. Plus, I think I’m starting to get a little tired of the Japanese criminal empire themes found in so many of these films, which starts to smack of The Yellow Peril stereotypes of the early 20th century.

Y’all know I go off on character development, but the characters here, while certainly pretty and watchable, merely go through the motions of the plot, and none of them resonated with me, although I tried really hard to like them. I shouldn’t have to try so hard to like the characters, and I eventually gave up, and didn’t finish the film. You may get more out of this movie than I did, because it does look gorgeous and cool, but its character development is on par with the other GI Joe movies in the franchise, in that there’s no one to emotionally really latch onto.

Candyman

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My mom and brother both hated this movie, claiming that it wasn’t much like the first film, and that there wasn’t enough killing in it, I guess. I was not a fan of the first film, because it centered a white character in a cast that was otherwise entirely Black, and Candyman killing members of the community that sort of invented him made no sense to me, (althouhg that is in keeping with the kind of thing that happens with urban legends). This movie tries to make sense of what Candyman is in a way the first movie didn’t really satisfy for me. That was also a movie you could tell was filmed by a white director. In comparing these two films, you can see where that director’s priority was, versus Jordan Peele’s priorities as a Black director. I GOT this version of the movie, in a way that I didn’t get the first one, which wasn’t particularly scary to me, despite the presence of Tony Todd.

This isn’t actually a remake or a sequel in the way that one thinks of those things. I mean, it is a sequel, but its a sequel that, rather than simply picking up where the first movie left off, (although it does do that, sort of), appears to be having an updated dialogue with that film, and it’s a discussion that prompts you to go back and watch it in a new light. I accepted the movie in the spirit in which it was made, while a lot of the people I saw panning this movie as not being as good, were people who held the first one in such high esteem, they really expected this movie to just be more of the same, and Peele and DaCosta had very different ideas about the direction in which they wanted to take things. Some people seemed to want a Slasher movie with the occasional, light, touch of social commentary. This movie is a little heavier, along with a couple of interesting, and unexpected, plot points that I thought made for a much richer film, and I especially liked the ending, and how it creates a mythos that could spawn more sequels.

I was satisfied with this movie. And yeah, I did think it was scarier than the first one because of the implications being made. I’m not sure a lot of the fans of the first movie quite got what was being said, though, since Peele’s productions tend to be rather dense with meaning, but that’s something I especially enjoy in the films and shows he’s worked on, so Candyman worked for me.

Star Wars: Visions

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One of the reasons I was so excited to watch this anthology series was because I thoroughly enjoyed Japanese animator’s interpretations of Batman, in Batman Gotham Knight, a few years ago. That and Batman Ninja are two of my favorite American superhero anime, so I was really looking forward to the stories that would be told here. As the lore goes, George Lucas was heavily inspired by the Samurai films of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, when creating Star Wars, and I was really eager to see what the Japanese would do when given free reign to play in a galaxy far, far, away.

It was not as excellent as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I was able to eek out about four episodes, from the 9 in the anthology, that worked for me, but ultimately, I expected better, and I didn’t get that. I think perhaps I should not have binged all of them one after another, because that made me see the series flaws in a way that I might not have, if I’d just watched one per week. Most of the time, either the animation, the dialogue, or the characters, just fell flat for me, and there was a distinct lack of width, and breadth in the type of stories that got told.

Now, it is possible that the animators were given a set of parameters they had to work within, like maybe the stories had to be about the Jedi and Sith, which is why, given the entirety of that universe to play around in, those were the only subjects of every one of these episodes. I like the Sith and the Jedi, but we know just from the films, that this galaxy consists of so much more than just these two groups of people fighting each other. After a while, I didn’t feel there was any objective to it. They’re simply fighting each other because it’s in the script. The Sith are evil because that’s how they’ve been cast, and the Jedi’s job is to beat them up. In a galaxy full of planet sized predators, Cantinas, Bounty Hunters, robots, Jawas, desert dragons, and Max Reebo, all I got was ten episodes of Sith and Jedi antagonistics, and I expected a little bit more than that.

That said, the episodes that I enjoyed were really awesome, and stood out to me for mostly two reasons, plot and/or animation style, since they weren’t really long enough for me to grasp onto character. I really liked the first one, The Duel, which has a classic American Western approach, where a man with no name protects a town from the depredations of a group of Sith-led bandits, which ends up revealing his true nature. I liked the twist at the end, the animation took a moment to get used to, but is different enough from the rest of the series that it stood out, and the coolness of the tech and characters was definitely a factor. There’s some classic Kurosawa imagery in this one, so if you liked the movie Yojimbo, there’s a few images straight from that movie, and I got a thrill from seeing them.

My ultimate favorite though, was the 5th episode titled The Ninth Jedi. The plot, the tech, the animation, and again, the little twist at the end, made this a winner for me. Episode 7, The Elder was a serviceable piece of work. It wasn’t great, but it was watchable. No twists at the end, but I really didn’t see much of a point to the story, beyond some of the philosophical issues brought up by the characters. And finally there was Akakiri, where I was captured by the animation style. The characters, plot, and dialogue, were serviceable, but it was the nice, clean style of the animation that pulled me in, and again, there was the tiny little story twist at the end that made it worth watching.

Overall, I give the anthology a C+, because I liked almost half the episodes, and there was only one that I actively disliked, and that was episode 3, The Twins. So, once again, your mileage may vary, and you may well enjoy watching all of these, but this was just how this particular series impacted me.

Y: The Last Man TV Series – Episode One

I was interested in this because I read a few of the comic books ,and found the premise intriguing. What would happen to women if all the beings in the world with a Y chromosome were to become extinct. The comic books were written by Brian k. Vaughn and a woman named Pia Guerra, so I didn’t expect the usual blind spots, including the reaction to the deaths of transgender men, and the existence of transgender women, which gets addressed in the most cringe-worthy, transphobic manner possible in the books. Also, take into account the racial angles, where once again, even in future imaginings of the world, even the dystopian ones, white people are still all of the primary movers and shakers of the story, with women of color as side characters, or living along the periphery of their decisions.

To the book’s credit there is some acknowledgment of women of color ,although most of the time I thought the plot was kind of well…dumb. And a bit over dramatic? I didn’t get far enough into the series to know how faithful it is to the books, though. I hope its not too faithful because the books got some issues. Its not that the books are so bad, but there are moments that are going to make you scream at it, and probably throw the book across the room.

The first episode is interesting as we get to see the reaction of the women characters to the deaths of all the men, and the collateral deaths of many women in the aftermath. There is a nod to the idea that without men, the human race is pretty much extinct, except for the existence of some sperm banks that some of the women fight over, in an effort to preserve the human race. The primary theme of this battle is embodied in the existence of the last man left alive, (although I found that hard to believe), named Yorick. This is a name I immediately disliked, I still have no idea why. I just hate that name. But I had questions, too. If there’s one man alive, why wouldn’t there be others, and why wouldn’t the women simply think he was a transgender man? Anyway, Yorick is a wannabe escape artist, who was kind of drifting through life before the apocalypse, and is now drifting through the actual apocalypse, with his pet monkey, named Ampersand, which is a name I liked. Go figure.

Now, I’m gonna have to stop here, because watching the first episode left a bad aftertaste for me. Ultimately, I’m not going to be able to get into this as a series, not because its a badly made show, although it definitely needs some work when it comes to the depiction of women of color and transgender men, but because, there is, yet again, another idea I can’t get past, and I’m not sure why its bothering me here, when its not particularly bothersome in other shows, and that is the idea that white creators are incapable of imagining any type of future in which PoC are the dominant characters, rather than white people. Even in stories that prominently feature PoC, its always white people who are still in charge, making all the decisions, or they are the ones around whom the story revolves. Apparently only PoC can envision ourselves in the future not living according to white dominance.

And now I’ve gotten sidetracked by one of the short films that got made in the run up to the movie Bladerunner 2049, called Nexus Dawn, in which Niander Wallace meets with a political council of some kind to discuss the prohibition of replicants on Earth. The short was directed by Luke Scott, the son of Ridley Scott!, and stars Benedict Wong. I was fascinated by the imagery because the four person council is made up of 2 men of color and one woman, and thinking about that, led me to think about The Matrix trilogy, and how the Wachowski Sisters envisioned a future of PoC and women (except for that one lone white guy who was in charge?). Okay, I’m going off on a tangent here, but watching this series first episode had me thinking about everything except what happened in the actual episode, and that’s a problem.

So no. I probably won’t be watching any more episodes of this, especially when I can’t concentrate on what is actually happening in the show, and keep getting sidetracked by issues that don’t seem to bother me in other shows!

New Trailers (for Movies I’m Excited For)

Here’s a bunch of new trailers, for movies that have been teasing us, since last year! I’m genuinely excited about these films, (as I don’t usually review things I hate), and I’m looking forward to seeing them, just not in a theater.

Halloween Kills #2

I’m really looking forward to October, as it will see the release of this John Carpenter sequel, and the remake of Dune! As I said, in a previous post, I really enjoyed the first movie in this new remake series, since it was directed by the original creator, and this really does look like a remake of the original Halloween 2, but with extra stuff. Here, Michael seems to finally be outed as a supernatural, or paranormal, creature, of some kind, and frankly, that explains a lot. I’m getting more and more squeamish as a I get older, but at the same time certain things are simply not scary, so when I’m looking forward to a new Horror movie, that means something.

Suicide Squad #2

This trailer looks a lot funnier than the first one, which was pretty funny. Like I said, I really think the creators should just lean in to the batshittery of certain parts of the DC universe, and this movie features one of my crazier favorites: Starro the Conqueror (which I lowkey was pretty scared of as a kid). Starro is actually pretty disgusting in the comic books. He’s a massive building sized starfish, that produces a bunch of tiny starfish, that attach themselves to people’s faces, so he can control their bodies.

In later movies, I would love it if they could bring in characters like Gorilla Grod, Ambush Bug, (who was one of my personal favorites as a kid), Deadman, and the Swamp Thing (which is basically a pile of sentient mud). I like that James Gunn is exploring the zanier side of the Justice League universe! The DCEU seems to be dividing into two halves here, featuring the grimdark upper level superheroes, and the crazier, lower level, anti-heroes, like Polka Dot man, and King Shark.

I also just like that two of my favorite actresses are in this crazy movie. Viola Davis is perfect as Amanda Waller, and of course, Margot Robbie is great as Harley. The creators couldn’t get Will Smith back, but Idris Elba is a very nice substitute.

Shang Chi and the Ten Rings #2

I don’t think people are realizing just how incredibly groundbreaking this movie is. It really is on a level with Black Panther, with its all Asian cast, as well as the plot: Ethnic hero, with daddy issues, tries to find his own path, featuring incredible fight scenes. I love a good Martial Arts movie, and I like that this has some serious Disney money backing it. Ironically, I’m not a huge Shang Chi comic book fan. I know about him because of The Mandarin, his occasional interactions with Wolverine, and because he would appear in other character’s books, so he’s still somewhat mysterious to me, which I think is a good thing.

My only problem is, I don’t see nearly enough women in the cast, and no Awkwafina doesn’t really count as being enough women, y’all. We need more than just the one woman, and they have to interact, those are the rules. But I’ve watched enough Chinese action movies to make out that these fight scenes are fire, though, so I’m waiting for this. I’m gonna be honest, though, Simu Liu is not my type as far as men go, (I prefer Asian men who are either rounder, or thinner, like Hiroyuki Sanada, or Ronny Chieng, not this sort of inbetween look he has), but he is a perfectly acceptable actor for this role, even though I was originally hoping for someone like Yune Lee, maybe.

Snake Eyes #2

Here’s another great action movie with an Asian cast, but produced in America. In case you’re wondering, Snake Eyes is a GI Joe character. I was not a huge GI Joe fan, but when I watched the cartoons, or otherwise paid attention, I naturally gravitated to this character.

I kind of expect Action movies, set in Asia, to involve at least some martial arts, although there are quite a lot of gunplay movies in the genre. We just don’t get a lot about those in the US, even though we actually help make a few of them. There’s even some Scifi, and apocalyptic/disaster movies growing in popularity in parts of Southeast Asia, but martial arts movies are still the easiest (and cheapest) to make, which is why there are so many of them, and Americans still think Kung Fu is exotic, so that’s what mostly gets made here.

Smigadoon

I actually do love musicals, but I’m also really, really, picky about the musicals I will watch. I was not, and still am not, remotely impressed with, or interested in, Hamilton, for example, or shows like Glee, but I will watch just about any musical made before 1980. I just liked the music better.

Most modern musicals, that is, the ones made after 1980, have been hit or miss for me, but this one looks really promising, and funny in an old school parody kind of way, and I really enjoyed Keegan Michael Key in Netflix’s Jingle Jangle, which is the first all black musical I’ve enjoyed since Ray. This also stars Kristen Chenowith, who impressed me with her role as the Goddess of Spring, in American Gods.

And I just like saying the word: Smigadoon!

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final

I will eventually write a piece on these series of films, as they feature messages about redemption, atonement, and revenge. I have not, and have no plans to, either read the Manga, or watch the anime, even though I really like these live action versions of those media. The first three movies were about politics and atonemnt ,but this new one goes back to a story from Himura’s past. His past is always coming back to kick him in the ass in these movies, as he was a man who did some very bad things.

In the Earth

Well, this looks oddly creepy, and I’m here for it. I think we’re probably going to see a new clutch of eco-horror movies, just like we did in the 70’s, when there was a glut of nature’s revenge films, thanks to the new sciences of ecological awareness, and movies like Jaws.

I think this time, though, these movies will probably have a paranormal, cult, or mystical flavor to them, and probably involve showing humans being endangered because they’re a part of nature, or merging with it, as in movies like The Ritual, or The Whole in the Ground, or this one.

We’ll see.

Werewolves Within

This looks a lot funnier that the Wolf of Snow Hollow movie I watched earlier this year. That one was good, (and darker than I thought it would be), but the humor was mostly hot or miss, and some of it was kind of sideways. I did enjoy it quite a bit, but the humor in this movie seems more to my tastes, as it looks more straightforward.

If you didn’t know any better, you might mistake these two as being the same movie. They both take place during the winter, in out of the way backwaters. They both involve cops, or detectives, working on a series of strange animal murders, while dealing with their own personal issues, and attempting to corral the locals to help out. Apparently, this is not a plot I get tired of either, since this is basically the plot of Tremors, Grabbers, and Slither, only in different locations!

Old

Here’s a nasty little number from M. Night Shyamalan, which looks intriguing, and suitably nightmarish, but I don’t know much beyond that. I’ll check it out, though, and get back to y’all.

The Nest

If you’re looking for something a little more disgusting, here’s some parasite body horror for you. I think I’ll recommend this one to my Mom. She loves this kind of stuff. I don’t dislike watching these things, but I have a tendency to become physically ill, and just stop in the middle! If this is your cup of tea, though…

Ten More: Weirdest Movie Monsters Ever Seen

Zombeavers – Zombie Beavers

Yep ! That’s it. These are actuall f*cking beavers that have been zombified.

I regret ever having watched this movie. My mom watched it first ,and told me how stupid it was, but apparently, I did not learn anything from her little mini-review, and felt the need to check it out for myself. I should have simply believed her. The plot is exactly what you think it is. To be fair though, this movie wasn’t really that bad, once you know what to expect from it, and had some pretty effective, though stupid, scares.

Sentient Wang/Killer Condom – Killer Penis

Why? Why did I subject myself to this movie? Although an even better question is what possessed someone to make this film? And I, very obviously, need to have my television removed late at night. Perhaps there’s some sort of off switch, that will not allow the TV to be watched between the hours of midnight and 7AM?

Okay, this movie was still funny as hell!

I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle – Motorcycle

Now to be fair, I have not yet watched this movie. I’m not sure I will ever watch this, because it just looks so bad. I came across this little gem while researching bad movies on Youtube, and of course, YouTube delivered, because that’s where it is, right now. So, Imma just put this here, and you can decide for yourself if this is something you want to spend ninety minutes of your life on, if you got that kind of time.

Killer Shopping Cart – Film Short

I remember watching this a few years ago ,and it is a surprisingly effective movie, considering the silliness of its premise. I know many of us, who own nice cars, certainly think of shopping carts as a menace, just not this kind of menace.

The Host – ????

Yeah, I talked about this movie before, and I’m still not sure what kind of fish monstrosity is featured. This is still a really good film though, and you should check it out, if you haven’t already. Yes, the monster looks silly, and the family dynamics in the movie are heartbreakingly funny, but its still a frightening movie, with just enough gore and suspense, and a rather bittersweet ending.. This is one of Bong Joon Ho’s films, ( the director of Parasite), so it has a lot of nice little criticisms layered into the plot.

Splinter – Alien Parasite

There are a lot of unanswered questions in this movie. We don’t ever find out, for example where the Splinter parasite came from, whether its an earthly organism or not. But we do get a surprising amount of backstory on the characters, and learn who they are, by how they respond to the dire situation, of being stuck in a gas station that’s being menaced by some thing that wants to take over their bodies. This is actually a pretty scary movie, with a very effective monster, that was created through practical effects.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space – Yeah

I still fail to see how someone, anyone, can look at these creatures, and mistake them for real clowns. If you didn’t have “clourophbia” before watching this movie….

Actually, this is a pretty good movie, with some decent special effects, and scares.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)All of these titles are pretty on the nose when it comes to describing these monsters.

Yeah..just…I’m not even!

Shake this off. Just Etch-A-Sketch it right out of your mind!

Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman – Snowballs

I caught my mom watching this one idle Saturday afternnon. Since then I ahve been a great pains to see that she is busy on Saturdays. I would like to find the person who made this utterly ridiculous movie, and bop them several times with a rolled up newspaper. And then of course, follow that up with some singular bops for the actors, and film crew.

Bad Director! Bad crew! Bad!

The Stuff – Edible White Goop

I…could not finish this movie, because it is so incredibly disgusting, I felt sick watching this.

My first question regarding movies like this though, is why do old, white men, who find some shit on the ground, insist on sticking their fingers in whatever it is? And this guy goes one step further and sticks it in his MOUTH!!!! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!!!

That really should have showed me the kind of movie I’m dealing with, because the movie just got worse and worse.

The Visual Shorthand of Film

During the past few years, I’ve been paying closer attention to the images filmmakers use to tell their stories. Film is a time intensive media, in that the filming itself needs to take place within a certain amount of time, after which, the images are edited, to happen within a certain time frame. To that end, filmmakers use every tactic in their visual dictionary to tell the story, as expediently as possible, which means there is almost no wasted imagery. If it’s on the screen, especially if its a recurring image, or a prominently featured one, then there’s usually a purpose behind it, and it’s something the director wants you to notice.

I wrote earlier about how the composition of people and objects within the frame, tells the audience which things are of primary importance. This is just as true of things like set design and the objects themselves. When directors use the objects, and the design of the set, to help push the narrative, set the tone and location, denote themes, and character, this is called, “visual shorthand”. The point is to give the viewer a large amount of information without anything having to be said.

For example, in early television shows, one visual shorthand of the Western, was the sight of tumbleweed. Despite that these specific plants can be found all over the US, their image is so associated with the Western, that when its seen in any other context, the audience still knows what it means, and the images of lonely cowboys, saloons, and wild shootouts, are automatically invoked.

Here’s a primer on some of the recurring symbols used in the language of film:

Doors/Windows

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Doors and windows often have multiple meanings, depending on the context in which they are shown, but most of the time they represent portals to another world, or sometimes an emotional setup for the story. If you see the camera, or characters, moving through doorways, or windows, in interiors, its not just a change in scenery, but sometimes means a change in the story is about to happen. Notice if the camera is moving from the outdoors to the indoors. That could mean that we are about to get a glimpse into a character’s interior thoughts, or find out something new about their motivation. If the camera is moving from indoors to outdoors, that could mean a change in a character’s circumstances, such as they are now free of some emotional confinement, or have solved some problem that has given them new life.

Is the person moving through the door, to another interior space? What does that mean within the context of the story? Has there been a change in a character’s circumstances? Sometimes, if characters are using doors between interior spaces, this means they are changing their mind about something, or are of two minds about a subject of great importance to them. One clue is to look at any discussions being had just before, or after, an entrance.

Interiors are considered places of safety, which is how they are used in most narratives. In Horror movies, the horror comes from the disruption of the safe space, through invasion from an external threat, in home invasion movies like The Strangers, or the threat is internal, in haunted house movies like The Shining.

In Horror movies, if a character is indoors looking out they are being shown as being in a safe place. Usually, characters who are inside looking out, want to stay inside, and do not want to go out. In a scene from the movie It Follows, Jay is being stalked by a death avatar. She and her friends, run to another friend’s Summer home. When they get there, we are inside with Jay, as she looks out the giant picture window, in the middle of the room. The lighting in the room is warm and yellow, and Jay feels safe, as her friends move around the room behind her, but she is still nervous, as both she, (and the audience) peer out the window, where it is getting dark, and objects are not quite seen. She is vulnerable outside, because that’s where the creature is. In fact, pay close attention to this detail, while watching the film, because every time Jay sees the creature, she is often in what she believes is a place of safety, at school, at home, in a hospital, or in a car. She is always looking out of windows, until she is forced outside by the invasion of the monster.

On the other hand, if a character is outside looking in, they usually desire to be inside, either because they think being inside is safe, or because they are the antagonist, wanting to disrupt the lives of those already there. Looking inside, from the outside, often represents desire and longing. What is desired is whatever is framed through the window. What is the person or thing seeing, and is what they are seeing, something they want for themselves, or something they wish to take? Someone looking through a window at a beautiful woman, could means they are coveting that particular woman, but if the woman in the window is a mother with her family, then whoever is watching her may be craving safety, stability, or motherly love, because that’s what she represents.

Depending on what type of windows someone is looking through, the people inside may be trapped, or imprisoned, a visual often used in ghost stories. A shot of an opening window or door, while it is dark outside but the room is lit, means invitation, and/or welcome, which is not always positive, especially in Horror movies. If the interior is dark, but it’s sunny outside, that can mean emotional release, and/or physical freedom.

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Another way that doors and windows are used is through Framing, and how people are composed near, or around them. For example, in the movie Crouching Tiger, Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien are often shown speaking close together, but always framed through doors and windows, which shows that the two of them are emotionally confined, and that their relationship is constrained. Sometimes they are being viewed in a semi-indoors state. There are four walls, but the doorway has no door, and the windows are just open spaces without glass, or coverings. The two of them are contained within an interior, but not really, because the doors and windows are wide open, and they can walk free at at any time. They don’t have to remain indoors, if they don’t wish to, which indicates a relationship, where the two of them want to be together, but are deliberately keeping themselves apart. This semi-open room is also a visual depiction of their conversation, during scenes where Mu Bai is almost about to confess his love for Shu Lien, signifying how close they are to freedom from these false constraints.

Contrast those images with Rainer Warner Fassbinder’s 1974, Fear Eats the Soul, in which an older German woman falls in love with a young Black man from Morocco. Everyone in their environment questions their relationship, and the couple is often filmed through doorways, and windows. Their love is confined to a series of small interiors. They are not free to be who they are, or express themselves, and the settings show this constraint. So, within the context of some stories, doors mean confinement, but if the doors, the room, or the windows are open, that means its a situation people can escape from, but choose not to. And pay attention to the size of the doors and windows, because the smaller they are, the slimmer their chances of freedom. When doors and windows are present, but completely closed, then they are a barrier, sometimes representing disagreement between two people, competing philosophies, or that a person feels trapped..

Bars/Horizontal and Vertical

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Vertical bars represent barriers, or constraint, usually of an individual. Any form of vertical bars, set close together, is a sign that the character is trapped or imprisoned in their situation. Any set of vertical bars can act as a barrier between the character and the viewer, or the character, and other characters, like the vertical bars of a staircase, or pillars in an otherwise open space. If a person is seen by the camera through a screen, or vertical bars, it means the person is emotionally constrained, or feels that way. If the bars are between two or more people, it is usually an indication of disagreement, that they are rivals, or otherwise in opposition to each other.

In the television series Lovecraft Country, a character named Ruby is often shown through sets of vertical bars at the beginning of the series. She is alone, and in a situation she dislikes, so what these bars mean, within the context of her story, is confinement, that she feels trapped by her circumstances, and can see no way out. Even when she appears to be free to do as she chooses, the bars are a barrier, indicating that she is afraid to leave, or take advantage of her situation. Later in the series, she is no longer being shown through bars or screens, meaning she is no longer afraid, and has decided to embrace her circumstances.

Horizontal stripes are representative of a particular genre of film, recalling the black and white noir films of the forties. Window blinds, are usually what’s used to make the effect, which is supposed to let the viewer know that they have entered a world of dark characters, and black and white thinking. Think of movies like Bladerunner and Dark City. Horizontal bars are often cast using lighting, and sometimes represent conflict, or attraction, especially if they stretch between two characters, such as the kissing scene between Deckard and Rachel in Blladerunner. When you see horizontal bars stretching between two characters, that symbolizes, their connection to each other, that these characters are equals, or exist under parallel circumstances.

Mirrors

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Mirrors can represent that an individual is emotionally divided, or living a double existence. This was used to great effect in the movie Us, where there are several scenes involving mirrors. One of the characters is looking at herself in a mirror, while she cuts across her face with a pair of scissors. In truth, the woman looking into the mirror is the double of the woman she just killed, a woman who was vainly fond of getting plastic surgeries, and her double’s use of the mirror in this way, is a mockery of what the dead woman did in life. In this case, the mirror is representative of a very literal double existence.

In the 1976 version of Carrie, there’s a scene where Carrie stares into a mirror for some time before breaking it. This represents that she is fractured, or her personality has been twisted. There is a double self and the cracked mirror is a symbol of her inner anger and frustration. On the outside, she appears to be a typical Prom going teen, but in truth, she is a vengeful “outsider/victim” with hidden skills, who later, murders her classmates. When you see characters looking into broken or cracked mirrors, it means that person is also broken, or that there is anger and rage underneath their smooth/placid surface.

Mirrors also represent vanity. When you see a character looking into a mirror, notice what type of mirror, and who is looking. Is it a woman looking into a hand mirror, or is it a full length mirror, that shows her entire body? Are they standing or sitting? For example, cisgender, male actors are rarely shown looking into mirrors, while sitting down, unless the subject of gender conformity is the movie’s primary theme, as in the 2005 movie, Kinky Boots, where the actor (Chewitel Ejiofor) is performing the role of a transgender woman. His character, Lola, is shown sitting in front of mirrors, applying makeup, or having discussions about gender. (Straight, cis-gender men are always shown standing, while looking into mirrors.)

You also see this when a character believes they are in one type of situation, but upon closer inspection, such as in a mirror, they find their situation to be much more precarious. For example, they may believe they are in a normal environment, because that is what the mirror shows them, but the mirror indicates to the audience that supernatural, or demonic forces, of which they are unaware, have invaded this safe space. This is often used as the basis for the “bathroom jump scare” in Horror movies.

Supernatural forces, (or sometimes just regular people), can use mirrors as doorways into our worlds, as in movies like, Mirrors, Oculus, and the movie, They, in which the opposite occurs, as a young woman passes through a mirror, to discover that there is a dark, and terrifying world behind it. In that sense, the mirror itself represents a double world. In the movie, Mirrors, the image seen in the mirror is the other world, and the person seen in it, is a backwards version of the viewer. These other worlds are almost always malignant, and the beings that inhabit them, and who look like us, are dangerous to the people of this world.

Blood

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Blood can mean many things, depending on the plot of the story. If the plot involves young women, it represents childbirth, or menstruation, and/or a sign that a girl has reached womanhood status. In Carrie, the titular character has her first period, at the beginning of the film. Having never been informed about it, Carrie reacts with panic and terror, and is bullied by her classmates, and abused by her mother. What, for many women, is simply a normal right of passage, becomes for Carrie, a rite of trauma and shame. She has become a woman, but no one respects that, and she isn’t allowed to be one, as she is infantilized by her mother, who beats her for it, and by her peers, who still bully her, the way they’d done since they were children. Blood is the catalyst for everything that happens in the film. When one of her classmates humiliates her, by dumping a bucket of it on her at her Prom, a callback to the earlier scene where she was bullied after getting her period, it prompts the blood soaked Carrie to go on a psychic killing spree, eliminating her entire graduating class. In this scenario blood also means passion, rage, and revenge.

Blood can be seen as a sign of sexual maturity for female characters, or as an indication that sexual activity will, or already has, occurred, as in the movie Ginger Snaps, when Ginger’s first menstruation attracts the attack of a werewolf. After she survives the attack, her behavior changes dramatically. Her mother is congratulatory, but her sister, Bridgette, is alarmed, because Ginger becomes violent, sexually aggressive towards the boys at her school, has an unprotected sexual encounter with a boy in her class, and kills a teacher and a classmate. In this case, blood symbolizes predatory maturation. Ginger has become a maneater, in every sense of the term.

The classic euphemism for blood, is Life. Leviticus 17:14 states “For the life of every creature is its blood”, and the phrase, “The blood is the life.”, has been quoted in vampire films since Bram Stoker first wrote the phrase. In the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawn, Buffy’s little sister, is the literal embodiment of this phrase, as she is a mystical totem, that has been given life, through the use of Buffy’s blood. When a god-like being threatens to sacrifice her sister, to open a portal between worlds, it is Buffy’s blood that is required to stop it, which makes Buffy a Christ-like figure, as she sacrifices her life, using her very blood, to save the world. When Buffy’s friends ask why it always has to be blood, the vampire, Spike, paraphrases the famous quote in his answer.

Blood can symbolize a great many things in horror stories, like pain, sacrifice, passion, birth, life, death, and even humanity, as was shown in the 1982 version of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Scientists at an Antarctic research station use their blood to determine who is, and is not human, after encountering an alien that may be masquerading as one of them. When images of blood are present in a film, its not always just blood, for blood’s sake. Look for religious connotations. Look for female characters. Sometimes there’s a purpose behind it, and the viewer should examine the context, under which this occurs, to understand any deeper meanings of its appearance, although in many horror movies, blood is just blood.

Snakes

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Snakes represent sexual temptation, sensuality, and/or the promise of sex. Sex has not yet happened, but it might, or a character, usually a woman, desires it, or will be tempted to engage in it, but feels that it is forbidden. This symbolism comes from the Judeo-Christian story in Genesis, where Lucifer, while in the form of a snake, tempts Eve to eat fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, after which, both she and Adam become aware of their nudity, and sex, which gets then kicked out of the Garden. Since then, at least in Western media, snakes represent the forbidden, temptation, sexual desire, or sometimes, deception, since the snake in the Garden is said to have lied to Eve about what was at stake. (In other cultures, snakes may have no religious connotations at all, so this isn’t a good measuring stick by which to judge non-Western films.)

In the 2017 movie, Thelma, a young girl with psychic powers is confused about her sexual attraction to another young student, named Anja, which prompts her psychic powers to act out of control. Later in the film, Thelma attends a party, and prompted by her belief that she is falling in love with Anja, dreams of snakes climbing over her body, representing desire, and temptation for what she has been told by her parents, is forbidden. In the 2020 HBO television series, Lovecraft Country, there’s a scene where one of the leads, a young woman named Leticia, has an unspoken attraction to her co-lead, Atticus. This attraction is represented by a snake slithering out of Atticus’ pants, after their first kiss.

This euphemism for sex, is especially prevalent in music videos. The list of music videos featuring snakes is uncountable, including the above video for Megan Thee Stallions WAP, and the music video for Lil Nas X’s, Montero: Call Me By Your Name, in which the singer is seduced, under the Tree of Knowledge, by a giant snake (wearing his own face, btw), that proceeds to have sex with him. Music videos are not subtle.

Snakes can represent different things in different cultures. For example, snakes represent fertility in some parts of Southeast Asia, and in some African religions, the snake is a symbol of one’s ancestors. You should look closely at the cultural meaning, when watching international films, to understand the imagery.

Snakes in horror movies are also what’s known as a “Specific” phobia, called ophidiophobia, which means that sometimes a snake is just a snake, an image meant to evoke terror and revulsion. A “Specific” phobia is a fear of a distinct object, unlike some of the more amorphous fears, like fear of being alone, or a social fear, like speech giving. In movie like Snakes on a Plane, the snakes are just regular snakes.The most famous of these types of films is the Anaconda franchise, about hostile mega fauna in the Amazon Jungle, showing up in increasingly larger sizes in every movie. More than 50% of Americans say they have a fear of snakes, so Horror movies involving little snakes (Snakes on A Plane), venomous snakes (Vipers), mega-snakes (Ananconda, Titanoboa), and people who are part snake (Venom, Ssss), are not going away any time soon

Eyes

Things that can change your eye color | Santa Prisca Silver

It is said that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and this idea is the shorthand used in film, when eyes are the focus. Nowhere is this more evident than in the films Bladerunner, and Bladerunner 2049, where the symbolism of eyes is one of the primary themes. In these films, the way to tell if a person is human, is by monitoring the reaction of their pupils to emotional stimuli, or in the sequel, seeing if a replicant’s status is written directly onto their eyeball.

https://screenrant.com/blade-runner-2049-eyes-memories-symbolism-meaning-explained/

In Bladerunner, the determination of whether or not someone is a replicant is called the Voight-Kamph Test. The idea for such a test comes directly from normal human interaction. We all conduct our own Voight-Kamph Tests everyday, using this to determine how much respect or belief a person should be given, determining their basic character, how intelligent they are, or their emotional status, based solely on looking into the eyes, only in Bladerunner, its to determine if someone lacks humanity.

Eyes are ubiquitous in horror movies, but scenes and shots of eyes, almost always mean the same thing from genre to genre. They are the most common body image, representing thought and memory. Characters are shown looking into the distance, when remembering an event, or the camera will push forward into a person’s eye, to show they are thinking. The use of the eye symbolizes perception, the act of seeing and thinking at once, surveillance and monitoring, and psychic abilities. Sometimes actual eyes are used to symbolize these traits, or an image on a wall, or on another part of the body, like a tattoo.

Sometimes, the very first thing we see about a character, is an emphasis on their humanity, symbolized by an extreme closeup of their eyes. Each of the Bladerunner films opens with an extreme closeup shot of an eye. The 1976 version of Carrie uses a sudden, and extreme, closeup of the character’s eye, to show when she is using her psychic abilities, and in the movie Dark City, a movie in which character’s personalities are swapped for new ones, via syringe to the eye, memory and the self are symbolized by a closeup of the protagonist’s eye, in the opening scene. In A Clockwork Orange, we are shown the erasure of the “self’, when Alex, the films main character, is tortured by being forced to watch scenes of violence, after which, his body viscerally rejects violence. A closeup of his eye was the first thing we saw of his character, and by the middle of the film he has been transformed from a cruel and smirking delinquent, to a frightened and humbled nobody. He is no longer himself as we first met him.

A character’s lack of humanity can also be shown by having the audience look at the world through that character’s eyes, as happens in The Terminator franchise, where diagrams and symbols occlude the point of view shots, to show that we are looking at the world from the point of view of a machine, or in movies like Halloween, where the framing of the pov shots, indicate the relentless implacability of the killer, Michael Myers. In 28 Days Later, we get closeups of a character’s glaring, bloodshot eyes, to show that they’ve been infected with a zombie-like virus, called Rage. One of the most popular ways that we are shown that a character has lost their humanity, is by having their eyes change to an unnatural color, or lose all color so that the eye sockets look empty, as in zombie films, where opaqueness of the eyes is used to show a lack of self. The body is moving, but there is no one home.

And then there is the camera. The camera is also an eye, as it stands in for us, the audience. Where the camera is placed, tells us which characters are important in a scene, what else we should be paying attention to in that scene, and how we should feel about what we’re’ seeing. For example, in the movie Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle has just had a disastrous date with Betsy, the woman of his dreams. When he tries to contact her again, he calls her from a pay phone, in the basement of his building. As he tries to speak to her, the camera slowly moves away from him, and down a long, and empty hallway, as if uninterested in what Travis is doing. Betsy will have no more to do with him, and its pointless for us to keep watching Travis’ useless gestures to atone. Travis’ actions are pathetic, and the camera looks away, as if to spare us the embarrassment of watching him grovel, or as if we, the audience, were attempting to give him some privacy.

Goodfellas – Opening titles | George Traynor - AS Media S6C

Sometimes the director wants to convince us of a character’s reliability as a narrator, by showing a scene from their point of view. This is used several times in Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas, to show Henry Hill’s pov. His ease and arrogance as he walks into a local bar full of wiseguys, who all know his name, and the long tracking shot, used as we follow Henry, on his first date with Karen, his future wife. Both scenes serve different purposes. In one scene, we are seeing the world from Karen’s pov, which is dizzying and glamorous. She is impressed by Henry, and her thoughts are spinning. The second scene is meant to show Henry in his element. He is in an environment where he is known and respected. The camera moves are steady, and slower than in the earlier scene, to show this assurance. In fact, when we first meet Henry in the opening scene, we know what type of story the movie is going to tell us, with one lingering shot of Henry’s eyes, as he stands frozen, at the trunk of his car, looking like a deer caught in headlights.

There is a long history of the use of eyes in film, and not just as windows to the inner life of the characters, but it is assumed, by what we see onscreen, that the audience has a soul, too.

Weather

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Different forms of weather represent the moods of the characters, are a cue for how the audience is meant to feel during a scene, and sometimes, its just the weather. But since most rainfall for movies is manufactured, we can assume that there is a reason why directors may want to show it onscreen. For example, whenever there are funeral scenes in movies, and TV, the director might need to create some rain, to use as a visual shorthand, to represent the emotional turmoil of the characters, or just encourage the audience to feel gloomy. Mysteries and Horror movies want to create a feeling of dark foreboding, and this is easily accomplished via storm. In fact, this is done so often that it has become a cliche engaged in by lazy filmmakers, (ie. “It was a dark and stormy night…”)

Rain is used to represent the emotions of a specific character. Characters without rain gear, getting caught, or running through the rain, are meant to show how out of control or miserable their lives are, or to show their carefree attitude. Both of these are beautifully depicted in the 1998 movie, Gods and Monsters, starring Ian McKellan, as the director James Whale, and Brendan Fraser, as his gardener. Here, the two of them attend an outdoor party, at which it starts to rain. Whale casually strolls through the rain, stating that he won’t melt. He has not a care in the world, but by the end of the scene, after the two of them have settled into his, now soggy, open convertible, his expression is weary and depressed. Things are not as carefree as he says. What started as nonchalance, has transformed to show how miserable his life really is, and both moments are equally true. Another film that showcases the freedom and joy of getting caught in the rain, and not giving a damn, was Gene Kelly’s iconic performance in Singin’ in the Rain.

Thunderstorms, are a way to heighten tension, or drama during a particular scene. Boiling clouds are an indicator of emotional turmoil and rage. A woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend, might find herself walking through a thunderstorm, with waterlogged hair, her mascara running. If its just raining, she’s merely sad, but if its a thunderstorm, then she is actually enraged, but keeping it all in check, while the weather expresses her true feelings. It could also mean that she is resolved to her fate, or has reached a conclusion that she is unhappy with.

Walking In The Rain Sad & Empty Gif

The thunderstorm in one of the opening scenes of The Addams Family, is used to great comedic effect, and emphasizes the drama, as the family engages in its yearly seance, to contact the ghost of Gomez’ beloved brother, Uncle Fester. The drama reaches a shattering crescendo at the height of the storm, when Uncle Fester shows up at their front door.

Martial arts, and other action movies, love to use rain to heighten the dramatic tension of a story, without using dialogue, and showcase fights. Rather than have characters give long speeches, or explanations, we know the fight is important, because its storming as a stand-in for the character’s emotions. Having a large fight take place in inclement weather is also a good way to hide stunt doubles, hide moves that don’t connect, or showcase moves that actually do, as water is flung about in huge splashes whenever a strike hits.

Sunshine means peace, tranquility, happiness, and that all is normal and right, with the world, but can also be used as a contrast to show actions that are at odds with the peace of nature, or characters whose lives, or situations are tragic and dysfunctional. The tragicomedy of Little Miss Sunshine happens against a backdrop of relentlessly sunny weather, contrasting the family dysfunction, and the terrible conditions of their 800 mile road trip, to attend a beauty pageant. The world may be normal and bucolic, but their lives are everything but. In 2018’s Halloween reboot, the first time we see Michael Myers is during a brilliantly sunny day, to contrast the darkness and evil of his character. Sunshine is sometimes ominous, as its used as setup for the horrors that follow, as the first murders Michael commits are against this same backdrop. Sun and blue skies is a sign of normalcy, and Michael (and any other horror that happen in these films) is the disruption of that. Sunshine at the end of a dark movie, represents a return to normal, that the horror is now over, and that the evil has been destroyed, as happens at the end of Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Til Dawn.

Weather represents that time has passed in a particular place. In places that experience seasons, for example, we can tell where we are in the story, by the weather. The weather can also be the story. The 1982 version of The Thing wouldn’t be the same without its snowy backdrop, which is such an integral part of the story, that the same story couldn’t be told without it.

Water

Stock Footage - Swimming Pool Water in Slow Motion | VideoHive | Swim team,  Girls swimming, Swimming pool water

Water always has a special importance in film, and one should always pay close attention to its meaning, when it its being prominently featured.

Sometimes the use of water has a very specific context, and takes on special significance, as in the movie, Moonlight, where it represents softness, and vulnerability, especially within the confines of an urban environment, where people are not encouraged to display either, and where large bodies of water are rare. Chiron, the lead character in the movie, has his first sexual experience near water, and water is an ever present motif in the film. In the language of this particular film, its related to whether or not the lead character is “soft’ or “hard”, meaning weak or tough. Whenever Chiron experiences a moment of fear or vulnerability, he happens to be near water, such as when his mother’s boyfriend teaches him how to swim.

That is symbolism unique to the theme of Moonlight. In other instances, immersion in water, or visions of drowning, could mean that a person is overwhlemed by their situation. They are literally “in over their head’. This type of imagery was used frequently, in the TV series Hannibal, where the closer characters got to Hannibal’s orbit, the more they became overwhelmed by him, and would have visions or dreams of themselves drowning.

The symbolism behind water can be tricky. It has so many meanings, that its appearance must be viewed within the context of the type of film. Water in movies, just like in the real world, takes on the shape or meaning of whatever it is within. In a Western it means life, and safety, but in a Romance, it means tears, or implied sexual activity, and desire. It can also represent birth, or rebirth after trauma, as in “washing the slate clean”. In the Judeo Christian tradition, bathing means the washing away of sin, and becoming a new person in the eyes of God.

In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Lady Macbeth washes her hands of blood after she participates in the murder of King Duncan, which has been taken as a sign of guilt. This is such an entrenched idea in American culture, that just the image of wringing hands is seen as a sign of guilt or anguish. In other instances, female characters will shower, after they feel they’ve been violated, essentially washing away the filth of what happened to them, or immerse themselves in a bath, to calm themselves after an emotionally turbulent event.

Pools of water represent the emotions of the people near them. If two people are speaking near a calm pool of water, that could indicate that the two are equals, about to be romantically involved, or that the two of them are of the same mindset, and there is no conflict between them. This is often the case in romantic movies, where a couple might take a walk along the seashore. However, if the water in a scene is turbulent, that could indicate that the couple is not as emotionally aligned as they seem, that they may be having domestic troubles, or foreshadowing that the relationship will fail.

Checkered Floors

Iconic floors in film

From time to time, you may notice that a checkered floor is prominently featured in a movie. That’s because a checkered floor sometimes has meaning within the context of the plot, or its of significance to the mindset of the character standing on it. Since it brings to mind the game of Chess, it often shows up when two characters are on opposite sides of a conflict, having a war of words, or are trying to outmaneuver one another. If a person is standing on a checkered floor, it serves the same purpose as the mirror, indicating that the character is having inner conflict, or are of two minds about an issue.

In the above scene, Marie Antoinette is shown standing on a checkered floor. This indicates that she feels conflicted about her position, as the Queen of France, and a young woman who just wants to live her life, free of the responsibility of reconciling her two countries. She is also being pressured to give birth to the next generation of royals, but her husband will not touch her, and she is being scorned by the court, for not producing an heir. If she doesn’t have a baby soon, than her position as Queen will be in jeopardy. The conflict is internal and external, as she has been thrust into an environment where she knows no one, doesn’t always know who her friends and enemies are, and has to carefully maneuver through an environment she doesn’t understand, if she wishes to maintain her position.

Sometimes a checkered floor means a more direct conflict, like people having an actual physical fight. In the television series, Into the Badlands, two of the most powerful characters, in the first season are Quinn, and The Widow, whose ideologies are in direct opposition. The two of them have been engaging in a covert game of chess throughout the first part of the season, with moves and countermoves, which finally culminate in this fight scene, after The Widow’s assassination attempt on Quinn’s son. The fight is occurring on more than one level, as the two of them are also engaging in a war of words, as they attempt to psych each other out, and throw the other off their game.

Once you start noticing the checkered floor, in movies, tv shows, and music videos, its impossible to stop seeing it. Some people like to assign hidden occult meanings to the images of checkered floors, as they were once a symbol of the Masonic Order/Freemasonry. This is such an intricate and complicated philosophy, much of it conspiratorial, that I can’t begin to parse any of it, and I won’t try to do it here, since any definition of its meaning is suspect, based on who is giving it. So, depending on who you are, you may derive more meaning from the sight of a checkered floor than I would. We will go with the simplest explanation, for now, that sometimes a floor is just a floor.

Empty Chairs

Empty chair - GIF on Imgur

I spoke about the imagery of the “empty chair”, in my defense of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, here:

An empty chair in a movie scene is often meant to represent a space where someone should be. In this movie, the empty chairs, usually situated on porches, (or at dinner tables), which are, traditionally the site of familial gatherings, are meant to represent  the absence of loved ones. The entire movie carries a mood of unspoken grief and melancholy, which is only alleviated by its hopeful ending. The Elders of the community fled to The Village because each one of them has experienced the tragic loss of a family member, and  the point of the movie is that they cannot run away from loss or pain. The scattered, empty chairs are a constant reminder of their loss.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/in-defense-of-the-village/

Sometimes, an empty chair represents an actual person, which implies a presence, as much as it does an absence. In that case, the other characters in the film will refer to the chair as a person, or talk to the chair, as if someone were in it. In the 1991 Movie, The Addam’s Family, the empty chair at the family table is meant, not just to draw attention to Uncle Fester’s absence, but the family’s anticipation of his possible return, as they prepares to hold a seance, to contact him in the presumed afterlife.

The most common usage, however, is the loss of a loved one. In the above .gif, for the movie UP, the pictured character has lost his wife of many years. He is also very lonely, and his grief, and loneliness, propel his actions for the rest of the film.

An empty chair represents a place of rest, comfort, or even conflict, depending on its placement in the scene, and the context of the film, and the style of chair. Take for example, Game of Thrones, in which the image of The Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, is the fuel behind nearly all of the carnage that ensues, spawning at least three different plotlines, throughout its 8 year run, ending in its destruction at the end of the series. A chair in the middle of a barren landscape, with no where else comfortable to sit, represents an opportunity for respite, however a chair in the middle of such a landscape would also work well in a horror movie, as it seems distinctly sinister, but in the shape of a boulder, or a piece of driftwood, it regains its former meaning.

While a single chair implies that a character is lonely, multiple empty chairs, sitting in rows, or just next to each other, imply community and/or dialogue, or in the context of a horror narrative, a community that’s been disrupted. For example, the sight of the backs of two lawn chairs, looking out over a sunset, indicates togetherness, friendship, or marriage. Overturned chairs represent a disruption of a household, the status quo, or a community, especially if there are multiple overturned chairs. A fallen chair, depending on the style, is seen as ominous representations of illness, or death. Empty, or tipped over wheelchairs, for example, are never a good sign.

These are just a few of the symbols, and cliches used in film. Think about this as you’re watching your favorite movie, but keep in mind, sometimes, an image is just an image, and may have no particular meaning. You have to carefully weigh the images against the story, and characters, to determine if there is meaning.