New Trailers Dropped For 2023

New trailers just dropped for movies being released next year. Later I’ll post a full list of my most hotly anticipated movies and series for next year.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

I found myself really excited by this video. I checked out of the Transformers franchise after the first two films because they just became increasingly awful to watch. Michael Bay was definitely getting on my nerves, but the franchise regained my attention with Bumblebee, consequently, that’s now my favorite character.

Admittedly, I was not there for the Beast Wars saga, so I don’t know much about it, because I was elsewhere doing other things. I heard about it, though. I know only a handful of characters in this movie (Mirage and Optimus Primal) but not who else. Still, the nostalgia factor is pretty big with this one and it was really nice to see so many grown-ass men being childishly excited about this movie on YouTube! The trailer looks really good. Hopefully, the creators can keep the momentum they began with Bumblebee. Will I go see it in the theater? Idk. It depends on what else is being released that month because June is a lot!

Yeah, Optimus Primal is being voiced by none other than Ron Perlman.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

This movie’s nostalgia factor hit me pretty hard. I probably will not go see this movie, not because I don’t love Indy but because there are three other movies coming out in June I want to see, and this one falls low on that list. I do not have limitless movie theater money, so Indie, I’m afraid, is going to lose. Sorry Indy, I will wait for it to reach streaming services.

This looks really exciting though and if you guys go see it, write something down, tell us all about it.

Guardians of the Galaxy 3

I’m really looking forward to this movie. I enjoyed the last move and the holiday special a lot, and I like spending time with this group of goofballs. There’s not really a nostalgia factor here but it will be interesting to get rocket’s backstory, and it’s nice to see Gamora (or at least an alternate-universe version of her) again. I’m still not a fan of Chris Pratt (he is after all the least likable Chris) but his acting isn’t bad, and he’s not so awful I cannot tolerate him in a film with a bunch of other great and funny characters.

Elemental

I really, really, liked this trailer which is a great introduction to this world and its rules. I’m not really into the forbidden romance angle of the story, but I do like the easy Jazz music of the teaser. Everyone who saw this trailer was quick to point out how she is the only Elemental on the train who is made of fire and noting the different interactions between the Elementals. So the creators have already set up how these characters interact, have both negative and positive effects on each other’s existences, and why the fire elementals might not be included. I’m probably not going to the theater to see this one though because…Summer.

Cocaine Bear

This is one of those ridiculous comedies that get released every few years. This one is about a bear that gets high on a stash of cocaine that some criminals lose in the woods, and I’m not going to see this but Hey, if this is your bag, go for it!

My Movie Hot List

Antman: QuantumMania

I’m gonna be honest, while I’m “mildly” excited to watch this, I don’t know that I’d shell out the money to go see this movie in a theater. Due to family issues beyond my control, I would have to watch this alone. Some movies are good for watching alone, but this one isn’t. It looks like a lot of weird fun that you share with your buddies.

I’m mostly interested in seeing Jonathan Majors’ giant screen breakthrough because I really really like him, I’ve heard that the character he’s portraying, Kang the Conqueror, is a huge Billy Bad Ass in the Marvel Universe, and because this movie kicks off one of the multiple plot threads of this new phase of the MCU, The MultiversalWar. Each movie after this one will be a piece of that story introducing us to alternate universes and other realms of consciousness and existence, like the Quantum universe in this movie.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2.5: Christmas Special

This movie looks like so much fun. Unlike the many fanboys who insist on complaining about the direction of the MCU, it seems that I actually do have a sense of humor. I love the MCU comedies, and I do not understand why all the MCU movies must be dark and deadly serious all the time in order to be taken seriously. I love the direction in which Thor was taken. I thought it was great fun and definitely better than the emotional slog that was Thor 2. Sometimes you don’t need or want great cinema, you just want the creators to lean into the craziness of whatever you’re watching.

Guardians of the Galaxy has been something of a comedy from the beginning, mostly because of the nature of the characters, and that last movie and this new one just sort of lean into it a little bit more. I’m looking forward to this one more than the Antman sequel because I really like spending time with all these deeply funny goofy people, and I’m glad that the creators and writers are just fearlessly leaning into the sheer batshittery of this part of the universe, because C’mon! Really!

Chevalier

I’m just coming off the finale of the Interview With the Vampire series which I’m going to have to talk about at some point because Wow! so, I’m really in a good place mentally to feel excited about seeing more Black men in wigs and stockings! It’s one thing to see Black and Indian women doing the whole ballgown movie thing, but we don’t often get to see Black men in these roles unless it involves Shakespeare or playing a servant.

I love the look of this film, and there’s the added attraction of it being based on a true story, that of a French Caribbean composer named Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Joseph Bologne. I’m a sucker for beautiful costumes, beautiful music, and sword fighting, and you throw in some Black people and I’m in, I guess!

John Wick 4

I just had the most interesting discussion about this movie with my co-worker, who said she had a real problem suspending her disbelief while watching these movies and kept getting pulled out of the film. I told her I didn’t have that problem because it never even occurred to me what I saw as taking place in a world like this one with the same political and systemic setup. I had always viewed this franchise as taking place in some kind of fantasy alternate universe, where you can just be riding through the streets of downtown New York with swords and guns and not one person would blink an eye at it.

This is what I mean when I say that whatever your mindset is when you start to watch a movie will probably determine how you’ll feel after having seen it. Anyway, this looks great and I’m eager to sit down in a theater with some popcorn and enjoy two hours of sheer Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, and Hiroyuki Sanada mayhem!

Violent Night

This looks like such wild and crazy fun that I just have to see this. This is definitely one of those movies that you can go see by yourself at the theater. I don’t know that I’ll do that but it’s an option. It looks like a Christmas version of a John Wick movie except it’s Santa Claus using magic and probably some guns which I know all of you must be excited about as well.

Glass Onion

Still don’t know what to make of this but I will not have to go to the movie theater to see it. I can just watch this, whatever this is, at home on Netflix. I like most of the actors here and quite frankly I was going to watch any movie that starred Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig because these are not actors’ names that one tends to think of as being together. This also looks to be more comedic than the first film, which I didn’t think was especially funny, but apparently, that’s just a me thing.

For some reason, I’ve been watching a lot of comedy mysteries this year. I just came off the Hercule Poirot movies, The Orient Express, and Death on the Nile, and I will probably be watching See How They Run this weekend. I don’t normally gravitate to period mysteries. I’m not opposed to them or dislike them or anything. They’re just not the sort of movies I tend to gravitate to, so when I get the urge to do so, I flow with it.

Maybe I’ll Watch These

Bones and All

I’m not sure I’m in the mood to watch anything dealing with cannibals but I’m willing to watch this if it’s streaming. If it’s in the theater then it’s out of luck. I’m not spending a bunch of money to see this, although it seems intriguing.

Shadow Master

Yeah, this is a movie that’s just going to be watched via streaming only. This is not the kind of movie I would ever watch in a theater. I mean, Kung Fu movies are meant to be watched in the house, with popcorn and a remote.

Warriors of the Future

Fortunately, this is a Netflix jam so I don’t have to spend money on my curiosity about it. Okay, it really doesn’t seem like it’s a lot of fun, in the sense that it’s intentionally funny, but it does look thrilling and action-packed, so I guess that’s a kind of fun.

And Movies I’m Not Watching

Avatar 2

I didn’t care too much for the White Saviorism of the first movie. In fact, I found that movie infuriating in a way that I didn’t for movies like The Last Samurai, or Dances with Wolves. I’m not arguing about how beautiful it is but I think I’m gonna wait to watch this next year on some streaming service. Since my niece and nephew aren’t going to be with me, and this is really the kind of movie one watches with a group of people, I’m unlikely to see it in a theater anyway.

The Whale

I do not have any particular need or desire to spend money to see this. Plus this looks like one of those movies where there’s going to be a lot of crying. I’m really glad Brendan Frasier has made this return to making movies. I missed him, and this actually looks alright, but I’ll catch this on streaming.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

I’m not going to sully my memories of Whitney Houston with a biopic. I just can’t do it.

M3gan

This movie is probably going to blow up once it comes out becomes it looks unintentionally hilarious and there are already a bunch of memes about it! I’m not paying money to watch what is essentially a killer-doll movie, but I’ll go see it my sister pays for my ticket because this seems like the kind of thing she’d attach herself to.

I still do not understand after all these killer doll movies why anyone would ever build life-size killer robots that look virtually indistinguishable from an actual person. I don’t understand the plots of movies like Bladerunner and stuff where that kind of thing happens. Why would human beings still be doing that? Have we learned nothing?!!! On the other hand, this could just be an American thing because the Japanese build life-size robots all the time and they don’t ever seem to have this problem with the robots trying to merc people.

Movies Too Scary For Me To Watch Twice

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

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

Coraline

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

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

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

The H-Man (1958)

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

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

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

Hereditary

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

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

Lights Out

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

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

The Sadness

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

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

Honorable Mention:

Ju-On

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

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

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

Halloween Ends (Halloween Trilogy Review)

(Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scary (Or Not) Short Films for Halloween

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

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

TikTok Nightmare Creatures Compilation

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

I Live Here Too

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

Next Floor

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

The Hidden People

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

To Catch A Predator

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

The Exortwist

Streaming in October: Mini – Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Werewolf by Night (Disney+)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hellraiser (Hulu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

White Backlash Against Inclusive Fiction

In 1998, Samuel R. Delaney, acclaimed Black Science Fiction writer, was asked at an awards convention about racism within the genre. Here he is referring to the writing community but I’ve observed that this can be equally applied to every industry, including movies and television:

 As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.

We are still a long way away from such statistics.

But we are certainly moving closer.

We need to be clear that what we’ve been experiencing very strongly for the last six or seven years is a white social media backlash against women and PoC representation in popular media. As marginalized people are seen more often in media projects what we’ve also been seeing is a white, straight, backlash against their slightly more positive/nuanced depictions.

What Delaney means is that more racism will be expressed by those white people who feel most threatened by Black progress in that industry, and I can say this because this has been noted in every industry in which it has occurred.

This is not new! It hasn’t been new in over a hundred years.

What we’re seeing today in the pushback against Black actors in visual media has happened multiple times and in every industry, from music, to literature, to politics, to movies, and television. Every time PoC have made inroads into any field of endeavor there has been a white backlash against it. The only thing that changes are the industries in question, and their arguments against that progress. Now we see it happening in visual entertainment.

In the 1920s, Jazz was seen as barbaric and immoral. It was considered the kind of music that lead white women astray and put them in environments where Black musicians had access to them. All manner of immorality was attributed to Jazz including drug use, violence, and hypersexuality. The exact same criticisms were made against Rock in the 50s, Disco in the 70s, and Rap music in the 90s, when those gained ascendances in popular culture. Rock music was a genre that championed drugs and sex, Disco encouraged homosexuality, and Rap music was considered too violent for white sensibilities.

https://ew.com/tv/candice-patton-wanted-to-leave-the-flash-racist-misogynistic-fans/

The same backlash that we’ve been seeing for the last six or seven years against Black actors in the Fantasy genre is the same backlash we experienced when N. K. Jemison won back-to-back Hugo awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018 for her Fantasy trilogy The Obsidian Gate. As Delaney predicted, a select group of white male critics complained that women and PoC were getting too many awards, and so formed a contingent of fans and authors called “The Rabid Puppies” in an attempt to game the Hugo awards rules to win awards for themselves. In other words, they preferred to cheat, rather than accept that Science Fiction fans were a diverse group of men and women who had moved on from the type of Science Fiction they wrote, which centered on white European men as the heroes. Much of the hoopla in the industry has since calmed down, but that does not mean that parity has been reached for authors of color, and we have seen the exact same dynamic play out in other arenas where women and PoC have made any kind of inroads, including politics, where white men have decided that rather than share political power, they would prefer to game the system to keep it all of it for themselves.

In 2014, Candace Patton was cast as the Black love interest of Barry Allen in The Flash television series on the CW network. That same year, Disney released The Force Awakens, the first film in its latest Star Wars trilogy, and the lead character was a Black actor named John Boyega. They both experienced immediate backlash for daring to perform the fictional roles that they had been hired for. Candace Patton has received unending racist vitriol on social media for the last 10 years for playing the Black love interest of the lead white character solely because her character was a white woman in the comic books. And don’t make the mistake of thinking the only toxic fans are white men. White women established themselves firmly in the contingent for bigotry by weaponizing fandom against Candace and harassing and bullying John Boyega on social media.

https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/a-timeline-of-leslie-joness-horrific-online-abuse.html

In 2016, a new version of The Ghostbusters was released with an all-female cast and received immediate pushback from gatekeeping white male fans who believed they owned that franchise and argued that women couldn’t be fictional Ghostbusters. The movie starred three white actresses, but it is very telling that the onus of their hatred landed squarely on the only Black cast member in the group, Leslie Jones, who was driven from social media by the racist backlash against her original characters’ very existence. So we can see that even arguments that PoC and women make their own original characters rather than supplant characters who used to be white are simply a smokescreen for racist abuse. Original characters do exist and receive the same level of acting out and foolery that race and gender-swapped characters do, as we saw with the release of Black Panther.

In 2018, there was a massive backlash against the release of Disney’s tentpole superhero movie, The Black Panther, in which the same gatekeeping white male fans attempted to downvote the movie’s ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, causing Disney and RT to temporarily shut down the audience portion of the site to prevent the abuse. Thinkpieces were written denigrating the making of the film, and some fans engaged in violence callouts, falsely reporting that they had been harassed and/or beaten by racist Black Panther fans in order to sully the reputation of the film. Black fans had to be vigilant in protecting the actors from harassment on social media and debunking the claims of violence.

Every time Disney releases a film that isn’t centered on the heroic activities of straight white men there is a backlash from white men against those films, against the actors, and even against the fans who talk about them. Women and fans of color aren’t even safe in their own fan spaces as those will, at some point, be invaded by trolls and bigots spewing racist vitriol at them for daring to like a movie they were the audience for. We saw this with Captain Marvel in 2019, and Shang Chi and The Eternals in 2021, with each successive film being criticized as the worst film ever made in a franchise, how the MCU is failing, and the blogs, videos, and websites of fans of color being reported as abuse, and blocked on TikTok and Youtube for daring to discuss entertainment that is aimed at them as the audience.

This also happens with television shows. Since it is Disney that is leading the charge of diversity and inclusion in its many franchises, it is Disney’s fans and employees (the actors) who have borne the brunt of the backlash, during and after series like Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Ms. Marvel, and the newest series, She-Hulk. Why? Because the stars of these series are women and PoC. It is notable that there was no backlash against series with white male leads like Loki, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight which were also released in the last year.

These shows are not alone in having a racist fan problem. Since John Boyega’s debut as one of the first Black Stormtroopers in Star Wars, there has been a racist and misogynist backlash against every single advance of a PoC, or woman, in that franchise, especially in any film in which a white male wasn’t the star, but even a few that were, as with the last TV release, Obi Wan Kenobi, which prominently starred a woman of color. The lead villain of the series, Reva Sevander, is played by Yale graduate Moses Ingram. She had to endure toxic fans who called her everything but a child of god, questioned her undeniable qualifications for playing her role, and was flatly told by some of them that she could not be a part of Star Wars.

https://www.npr.org/2022/06/02/1102509719/star-wars-obi-wan-kenobi-moses-ingram-racist-messages-disney

In the past year, we have seen a racist backlash against casting PoC in any SciFi and Fantasy film or television series. The casting of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians TV series, the casting of Black Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves in Amazon’s Rings of Power series, the casting of Halle Bailey in Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid, and the casting of Black legacy characters in the Game of Thrones spinoff series, House of the Dragon, has racist/toxic fans pulling out all the stops to troll, harass, and make sure that Black fans, actors, and creators are aware that they don’t belong in genre films and series.

You also have those bad faith actors who try to hide their bigotries behind legitimate concerns, like questioning the credentials of the actors who were chosen, not understanding that when the only time you care about whether or not a character is qualified to perform the role they’ve been hired for is when they are a woman, or gay, or a person of color, that that too is performing a racism.

The Whiteness of the Past, the Present, and the Future

White people for the last hundred years of film and TV have crafted entire fictional universes with pasts, presents, and futures that were entirely centered around themselves, with not a single face of color to be seen. When I was a little girl, I was sitting in our kitchen watching some futuristic movie and turned to ask my mother why there were no Black people in the future. Really quick she said, “Maybe we left.” She’d noticed it too and seemed to have that answer ready for me, just in case.

White people who are making the arguments that we don’t belong are speaking from a long history of whitewashing, of never having seen Black and Brown faces in historical epics, present-day dramas, or futuristic landscapes unless we were playing happy slaves, silent victims, or menacing drug dealers. The industry was so whitewashed that when it eventually developed the use of color, Black and Brown people weren’t even a consideration, and color was only attuned to white skin tones. Movies and TV were so white that Black women didn’t have hair and makeup people of their own until a scant few years ago.

According to white people making the loudest noise, we don’t belong anywhere in their all-white fantasylands of the past or the future. Their entire understanding of historical events comes not from study, or reading, or actual knowledge, but from Hollywood movies in which our presence had been, downplayed, erased, or ignored, even in our own stories. Based on these deeply ignorant people’s understanding of history, the only stories in which Black people should be allowed to appear are the ones based on slavery, as if enslavement was our only contribution to the world. We’re not allowed to appear in movies set in the present unless we’re being killed or killing, and apparently, we don’t exist at all in the future, not just physically, but in any cultural or social contributions we made to the making of this country thast sre simply never referenced.

Candace Patton talked about how she didn’t have anyone to do her hair, and Black actresses called out Hollywood in 2020, for its lack of hairstylers for them. Many of them confessed to having to do their own makeup because white makeup professionals never bothered to learn how to do Black skin or hair. White hairstylists didn’t need to know that to have successful careers! There was such a complete lack of Black female stuntwomen that white stuntwomen wore blackface on the rare occasions that Black actresses needed stuntwork done! This was pretty rare indeed because up until about ten years ago we never got to be in Action movies often enough to need stunt doubles!

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/07/238957/black-hairstylist-diversity-issue-hollywood-2019

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/black-stuntwomen-ready-fight-hollywood-130058128.html

All of the white backlash against Black women (in particular) participation in genre media we are seeing today is just one part of the side effects of Hollywood’s insistence that there is only one demographic that needs to be pandered to, (therefore all the other demographics can be ignored), and the idea that movies with diverse and inclusive casts don’t make any money, (which results in the erasure of PoC in order for anything to be greenlit). Many films cannot receive funding to get made without a big enough named actor in the cast. Unfortunately, Hollywood not casting PoC in certain films and for certain roles results in actors of color (in particular Asian American actors) finding it nearly impossible to become big enough named actors to ever get projects funded. They can’t get to A-list status if they are never given the opportunity to do so.

Not being considered for roles in certain genres of film limits an actor’s career prospects, and when those roles are obtained (as with Candace Patton’s casting as Iris West in The Flash, Moses Ingram’s casting in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and Leslie Jones casting in Ghostbusters) they receive no protection from their employers from the harassment and pervasive racist vitriol on social media, which is one of the nastier side effects of Hollywood never having hired actors who look like them for these roles in the past. Part of their employment means they are subject to public emotional abuse while working in a role they were paid money to perform. These actors often receive little to no support from their white industry colleagues or white female fans either (something which has only begun to change just this year!) It has continually fallen on the fans, especially Black women, to be their support systems under trying and stressful circumstances.

Until this moment passes, and seeing PoC in these types of roles becomes normalized, and white fans fully begin to understand that this is not a situation that is going to change (because diversity and inclusion is proving to be a very lucrative deal for the corporations engaging in it), we will continue to see this kind of toxic behavior, and we all need to be ready for that. Much of this behavior can be laid at the feet, not just of the kinds of fans who are used to being the only demographic that was pandered to for over a hundred years, but Hollywood’s idea that PoC, neither the actors nor the audiences, were worthy of consideration.

It is long past time Hollywood realized we too are worthy of being pandered to and that representation always mattered, not just to us but to white people who are unused to seeing PoC as anything other than the stereotypes which Hollywood has always given them.

As I stated when I first started this blog:

Black women like to have adventures too.

It is a shame I’ve had to wait nearly my entire life for Hollywood to realize women like me exist.

Favorite Campy Horror Films

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

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

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

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

Fright Night (1985)

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

Death Becomes Her (1992)

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

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

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

Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)

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

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

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

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

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

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

Big Trouble In Little China

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

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

Return of the Living Dead

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

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

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

Vamp

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

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

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

Frankenhooker

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

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

All of it is incredibly, stupidly, trashy!

The Howling

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

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

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

Runners Up

Studio 666

Slaxx

Hell Baby

Good Hair

Zombeavers

The Newest Addition:

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

My Top Fancasts of Storm for the MCU X-Men

We all know that sooner or later the X-Men will be joining the MCU, since they’ve been teasing it across several television series and movies for the past year, with the most recent tease occurring in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where Professor X from an alternate universe, shows up as the leader of one of Marvel’s covert Superteams, The Illuminati. It has been recently announced that Hugh Jackman will reprise his role as Logan/Wolverine for the MCU production of the next Deadpool film. It’s unknown if he will continue to play Wolverine for any other films.

I don’t know that Patrick Stewart is going to reprise his role (or even if he will still be acting by the time the studios get around to production, but it would make sense for him to do it and also for the mutants to come from another universe). Fans however are losing it about who they are going to cast as one of the X-Men’s greatest mutants, Storm, the Kenyan – born weather goddess who was married to T’Challa’s Black Panther. There has been a lot of wishing and speculation as to who will obtain one of the hottest roles in the MCU.

I have my own ideas about who I’d love to see in this role, and I wanted to go beyond the handful of Black actresses that white fans only know from social media. Okay, there are two kinds of famous Black actors in the US. There are the A-List famous like Viola Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Will Smith, that a lot of white people know because their repertoire crosses a very broad audience, and then there are the top Black actors known pretty much only in Black households, like CCH Pounder, Harold Perrineau, Bokeem Woodbine, and before she starred in Nope, Keke Palmer.

So yeah, I got thoughts about who should play one of my all-time favorite X-Men, who is also one of the most badass and powerful mutants. I automatically eliminated any actress I thought was too light-skinned for the role. Storm was born in Kenya, and her actress needs to not just be a “reflection” of her birth country, but an opportunity for a dark-skinned actress who might not be considered for other kinds of roles. White fans don’t give a shit about that. All they want is someone they know, and they think is pretty, which is why they keep suggesting people like Zoe Kravitz and, once again, Halle Berry.

I know it’s easy to make suggestions for who to play Storm, but it’s sometimes easier to picture them in the role if you see them moving and speaking, so I’ve also listed a few of their acting credits so you can check them out.

Here are my top choices for who I’d like to see play Storm in an upcoming movie.

Yetide Badaki

Yetide is my top pick for Storm because she already has experience playing a goddess in American Gods on Starz, and she is absolutely gorgeous. In fact when I first saw her my first thought was, “That’s Storm!” I can’t imagine her rocking a mohawk, but I’m certain she can pull that off with the same grace as the character Bilquis.

Keke Palmer

Keke is definitely what used to be known in the Black community as Black Famous. If you’re a child of the 90s then you should be familiar with her work as an actor and singer on different shows on the Disney channel. I remember her rendition of Reflection from Disneymania. She is now all-around famous as Emerald Haywood in Jordan Peele’s Nope released just this Summer. So she’s funny, she’s got those fierce action hero vibes, and I can imagine her with a mohawk.

Dewanda Wise

Dewanda has the kind of ethereal beauty that befits a goddess. We saw in Jurassic World Dominion that she can carry an action scene, and she seems poised for that breakout role that so many actors dream about, as she has appeared in a lot of big-name productions (The Good Wife, Special Victims Unit, Boardwalk Empire) without really taking off. Storm would be perfect for establishing her as an actress to be reckoned with.

Moses Ingram

The easiest place to see Yale graduate Moses Ingram’s regal bearing is in Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series. She showed such strong character, command, and gravity, in her role as a kind of reluctant villain, that it took me a minute to get past the character, but I eventually fell in love with this actress a little. Like James Earl Jones, she has a classical acting style, but she is definitely giving off some Angela Bassett vibes, (the Black community had long thought that Angela would at some point be chosen to play Storm, but we got Ramonda instead). But I will accept Moses in the role. The other places she can be seen are in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, and in the Summer Action film, Ambulance.

Ana Diop

Ana Diop is currently playing the alien Starfire in the HBO series Titans, which is a very fire goddess-like character, so she’d be perfect to play a weather goddess, too. Diop is a Senegalese actress and model, with classic African features and bearing, and yeah, if the MCU decided to go in that direction, I’m pretty sure she could rock a mohawk, too. She is currently starring in a Netflix horror movie titled Nanny.

Kiki Layne

Kiki Layne is still a relatively new actress with one of the few credits in which I’ve seen her was 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk by Barry Jenkins, where she showed her softer side, and she showed her action prowess in Netflix’s The Old Guard, alongside Charlize Theron. This is another actress that is bubbling just under the radar, right on the cusp of big time stardom, and playing Storm would make her a household name. She has the beauty and poise to pull it off, and if Disney is in talks to choose a new Storm, I’d be fine with her in the role.

Dominique Jackson

Now stick with me here. I know that casting a transgender actress in the role is risky and daring because a lot of people would totally lose their shit, but if absolutely anyone can pull off playing a goddess it is the tall, imposing, and elegant Dominique Jackson. When I was watching her character Elektra Abundance on the FX series Pose, I thought to myself, she would be incredible as Storm, and I would love to see it. It would also be groundbreaking to have a transgender actress in the MCU.

Runners-Up

Michaela Coel – Was one of my top picks to play Storm, but has already taken a role in Wakanda Forever as one of the Dora Milaje.

Aja Naomi King – She is a lot of people’s first choice, but I wasn’t feeling it. She’s alright and nothing to be upset about. I just had other ideas. A lot of people like her though.

Janelle Monet – I like Janelle and she has proven to be a competent actress who brings gravity and elegance to all her roles, but I just can’t imagine her as Storm. She comes across as much too young to me, but she is a fan favorite for the role. I don’t object to her playing Storm, I just can’t see it.

Also, there are other fan favorites like:

Gina Torres

Naomie Harris

For the record:

I liked Halle Berry as Storm just okay, but she was given nothing to do, and she wasn’t shown as being nearly as powerful as we know her to be from the comic books. I don’t object to Halle’s acting abilities but she wasn’t really Storm material. I thought she was simply too light-weight to play her.

I disliked Alexandra Shipp immensely. I thought she was a mistake the moment I saw her and have no idea how she got chosen for a role she was too young and ill-equipped to perform let alone who hired her. She simply wasn’t up to par for this character. We need an actress who can play larger than life, who can play a god. Storm, like Wanda, is one of the top-tier most powerful superheroes in the MCU and I never got that vibe from Shipp.

Halloween Month Starts Saturday!

Okay, you guys all know I’m a huge fan of Horror movies, and that means I’m also a big fan of Halloween, which means the entire month of October gets to be Halloween month. Yep, I’m one of those people who celebrate Halloween all month long, culminating in a big movie blowout on Halloween night (if I don’t fall asleep first – I’m old yall. Whaddaya gonnado?). I have not watched a lot of Horror movies this year because I’ve mostly been unimpressed by what I’ve been offered this year, and I haven’t been in the mood to watch much of it, preferring comedies and anime, but I’m ready to start watching Horror again.

Anyway, I have some really exciting series and movies to look forward to next month and I want to share them with you. Now, some of these have already been released this month and I have trailers for the ones I plan to watch, and some aren’t released until next month, with a mix here of TV series and movies. I don’t know that any of these are any good, but they look interesting, and I’m going to check them out and then talk about them (except for the movies because I most likely will not get to see those in theaters). But hey, there are plenty of TV shows to take up any slack and it’s all Horror all month long.

There is a lot to look forward to. At the top of my list are:

Hellraiser (7 – Hulu)

Here is the first trailer for the new Hellraiser series. For those not in the know, the new Pinhead is being played by an actress, and since this is streaming the creators can get as gory and dreadful as they like. The new Cenobites look awesome and grotesque. Hopefully, this series will be better than Hellraiser 2 and the many mediocre sequels which didn’t seem to understand the point of Barker’s books. I also hope they can bring in elements of the last Hellraiser book The Scarlet Gospels with Harry D’amour.

Interview with the Vampire(2 – AMC)

I just watched an hour-long special on the making of this series which is free on YouTube, and the creators talk about the changes they made and why, and I’m glad they did because there has been a lot of discussion about how old Claudia is in this series. Claudia here is about 14, and there’s a reason why they did it that way.

Anne Rice had a hand in the choosing of this actress so I’m okay with it, and there is no way in hell you’re gonna be able to get any kind of permission to have a five or six-year-old girl (the age she is in the book) to do the things you can get an 11-year-old (the movie version played by Kirsten Dunst) or the older version to do. Due to the nature of the role, and what is required of the actress, she has got to be aged up out of sheer necessity, so I’m not quite sure why people think it’s a bad idea to have her be 14 unless it’s for the usual racist bullshit because the actress is biracial. I don’t think that’s the reason, because I haven’t seen a whole lot of white people acting like damn fools over the casting of these characters (but I no longer have any faith that white people on social media will act sane. At this point in time I expect there to be some assholery!)

But I love that the series is as lushly overdone and over the top as the original books (I expect a certian amount of cringe) and that the creators are going to be using information from all the books because what this is is a kind of forty-year-old sequel to the first book, where Daniel, the interviewer, comes back to question Louis in the present day.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (25 – Netflix)

This is going to be an anthology series of eight stories from famous directories of different Horror movies, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re going to come up with based on the museum-like items that Guillermo owns in his home. Remember he has a book out about all the different oddities he’s collected over the years so that’s worth checking out too.

Halloween Ends (14 – Theaters and Peacock)

Fortunately, this is airing on both streaming and in theaters and I’m ready to see how this all ends. The second movie simply wasn’t as good as the first (although it was a good effort and had some interesting moments). I was a little disappointed that Jamie didn’t have as much to do in the second mvoie which mostly focused on the different townspeople and their reaction to Michael coming back to town. This movie looks like it will focus once again on the matchup between her and Michael.

The Munsters (9/27 – Netflix)

I talked before about how while I am a big Addams Family fan, my first love was The Munsters and this is being released this week to Netflix! It looks like a whole lot of fun, which is the whole point. The focus is on the comedy, not the scares. Think of this as a less dark, more childlike version of The Addams Family. I’ll get back to you about what I think.

Queer for Fear (9/30 – Shudder)

So far, I am really enjoying quite a few of the documentaries about Horror movies that have aired on Shudder, and which seem to be their specialty. Docuseries like Horror Noire and The History of Folk Horror were really informative and well done so I’m eager to see what the Horror community has to say about Queerness in Horror films. This is narrated by Bryan Fuller an out gay creator who is the showrunner of the Hannibal series and the first season of Star Trek Discovery.

Second Tier: These are interesting and most likely will be watched.

Tales From the Walking Dead – I have yet to watch any of these. I’ll have time to do that in October, I hope.

Piggy – This looks really interesting. Its been playing at TIFF and has gotten a few accolades. It’s about a bullied, overweight girl who runs into a serial killer that taking out girls in her town who have been tormenting her and what she might decide to do or not do about that.

Teen Wolf Movie (Paramount) – I had no intention whatsoever of watching this but thought it might be of interest to other people who were really into it when it used to air on MTV.

Pearl – This looks interesting but I’m not spending money to see it. I think this is already out now.

Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey – I talked about this already. I still don’t know wtf to think about this movie!

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (5 – Netflix) – This movie is one of the creepier, but lighter weight stories from Stephen King’s anthology titled Let It Bleed, about a young man receiving phone calls from a dead friend.

Wendell And Wild (28 – Netflix) – This is from the same team that created The Nightmare Before Xmas so I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s about a couple of demons who have to fight a nun or something. I don’t care. It’s on Netflix, Imma watch it.

VHS/99 (20 – Shudder) – I watched all the other films in this series, and they are all hit or miss as far as the stories. I liked the last one okay, so I’ll give this one a try.

Let the Right One In (7 – Showtime) – This week was the first time I heard about this and I really liked the movies (there are two versions, Norwegian and USian). This is about a child who becomes a vampire and how her father deals with that. It appears to be expanded a lot from the movies so I’m interested in what they’ve done with the basic story.

Prey for the Devil (28) – Normally I don’t care for exorcism movies because they all feel like retreads of The Exorcist (which is also set to get another sequel). But this one looks interesting because it’s from the point of view of a woman, a nun who wants to perform the exorcism herself.

Old People (7 – Netflix) – This one reminds me of the movie Parents, where the parents all went insane or contracted a disease or something and tried to kill their kids. So I guess now it’s the parent’s parents trying to kill their grandchildren.

Grimcutty (10 – Hulu)

I got nothing. I didn’t even know this was a thing that was happening. I don’t even know if I will watch it.

Matriarch (21 – Hulu)

This doesn’t look especially interesting to me but might be of interest to others, so I put it in this group. I don’t know if I will watch it.

Everything Else: These mostly seem to involve a whole lot of killing, zombies, and spirits! Some of these are being released later this year.

Curse of Bridge Hollow (14 – Netflix)

Spirit Halloween (11 – VOD)

Werewolf By Night (7 – Disney+)

Reginald the Vampire

The Loneliest Boy in the World

Slayers

Project Legion

Among the Living

Forthcoming Scares

Fall

They Cloned Tyrone

This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen and has three of my top favorite Black actors in it, Teyonah Paris from Wandavision, Jamie Foxx who just starred in Day Shift, and of course, John Boyega who I always wonder what he’s doing when I don’t see him for a while. I’m not into the conspiracy stuff that’s in this but these three appear to be having the time of their lives, and I’m glad to see them working together.

A Knock At the Cabin

This is based on the book by Paul Tremblay called The Cabin At the End of the World, and involves a home invasion that is kind of unique. Dave Bautista is killing it in this role (probably literally!) I don’t want to give away any spoilers but remember the plot from Cabin in the Woods? Think of this as a thematic sequel to that movie.

Bones and All

I got nothing. I never heard of this until I stumbled across the trailer.

Last Voyage of the Demeter

Okay! This is a thing.

2023

Renfield – Nicholas Cage is back at it again.

Evil Dead Rise – A sequel to the Evil Dead remake from a few years ago. I have not seen the remake, so I don’t know about this.

Salem’s Lot – This has been promised to us for a while but they keep moving the date back and we still don’t have a trailer.

The Exorcist (Sequel) – I’m not sure this is a good idea since the original was pretty much as perfectly made as it could be, and every exorcism movie since then has been nothing but tired retreads of it, but I’m going to look at this with an open mind. There have been other sequels, and I watched those, and this may have something to say about the original that wasn’t said in those.

A Quiet Place: Day One – Seems like a good idea I guess. I like the first two movies which are actualyl scary and well acted.

Most Anticipated – New Trailers This Week

The Little Mermaid

I don’t think you guys understand just how fucking hype Black people are to see this film, how important this film is to marginalized communities, and how much we all love Ariel. We are definitely going to show up and show out for this movie. Not only is it one of the most important films from our youth (including mine) but it stars one of the hottest young singers in R&B today, Halle Bailey (not to be confused with Halle Berry), who is a member of the singing duo of Chloe and Halle. Watching this two-minute snippet gave me chills and I was already in tears by the end, the same effect the original has had on me for over thirty years.

The original Little Mermaid film was released at just the right moment for it to have an outsized influence on the trajectory of my life when I was young enough to be asking myself the kinds of questions Ariel asks in the film. (I was 19). I went to the theater with my best friend (who later came out to me as gay, so I wonder what effect the movie’s message had on him) and I was in the process of deciding to leave Design/Animation school and choose a different profession. Not only did the two of us bawl our eyes out in the theater but in every viewing I’ve ever had. So yeah, in the thirty years since I first saw this movie there’s never been a time when Ariel’s “I Want” song didn’t give me chills.

The I Want/I Wish song is a classic staple of American musical theater which is the background of the song’s writer Howard Ashman. Ashman, along with Alan Menken, wrote all the songs for the movie which was Disney’s first animated fairy tale in over thirty years. The I Want song must be sung by the film’s lead character, lay out the character’s motivation, or goals, and/or illuminate their character in some way. Ashman and Menken wrote the songs for Beauty and the Beast, The Little Shop of Horror, and Aladdin., and the I Want song has been included in every Disney/Pixar movie since.

Having a Black Little Mermaid is so groundbreaking and so important for so many little Black girls. Some parents posted pictures of their daughter’s reactions to the trailer. My favorite one of all of them is the little girl who screams “She’s Black!!!, at the top of her lungs.

It is impossible to look at this kind of pure joy and claim that representation doesn’t matter!

The Peripheral

This is a series that will be streaming on Amazon. I’m probably going to watch this for the trippy visuals and because I like Chloe G Moretz. I’m also a little bit tired of some of the fantasy stuff I’ve been watching and need a break with some scifi. This is from the writers of Westworld and I just started watching the last season that just aired. I like the writers for that series and I have high hopes for this one.

Glass Onion

I was not particularly impressed with Knives Out, although I do like these types of cozy murder mysteries in general. I did watch and enjoy The Orient Express and Death on the Nile, and I’m looking forward to this, Amsterdam, and See How They Run, movies that look a bit more comedic. I’ve heard that Janelle Monae turns in a spectacular performance in this and I’m ready for it. I hope it’s good, but then I always do.

I’ve been really spoiled for TV all year. I’m really loving a lot of the diversity I’ve been seeing in shows and movies to the point where I’ve gotten really picky and not bothering to watch any shows or movies that don’t have any PoC, or LGBTQ rep in them. First, because I really am kinda spoiled now, and I expect it, and second, I simply don’t have the time to watch much else. Hell, I don’t even have time to watch the many diverse series/movies that are out, and I’m only watching a series if it has a fantasy, SciFi, or horror element. I think the whitest thing I watched this year (as far as the cast), was The Northman.

Black Adam (Final Trailer)

I used to read the Justice Society books when I wasn’t reading the Justice League books, so I remember most of the characters here, but since I didn’t read the series with any kind of regularity (and after a while, I stopped reading superhero comics altogether) I completely missed any storylines that featured Black Adam. I know that he is a kind of anti-hero like Wolverine, who is a rival of Shazam/Billy Batson, and Superman.

This was another one of those situations in which I mostly read the series for individual characters like Doctor Fate and Hawkman. I don’t really know a lot about the other members of the Justice Society. I’m excited about this because The Rock/Dwayne Johnson looks incredible, I’ve been waiting to see him in a superhero movie for some time, and I was wondering who he would play. I would not have guessed this character but I’m not surprised. I don’t know how good this is going to be but I remain hopeful, and the trailer looks like a lot of fun, although not as much fun as the last Suicide Squad, or Harley Quinn movie.

Wendell and Wild

This movie is from the writer of Nightmare Before Xmas, which is one of my all-time favorite Holiday films, and Coraline, which is one of the most charmingly terrifying animated movies I’ve ever watched, so I’m really looking forward to this. Like I said, I’ve been getting a little bit spoiled when it comes to Black female representation in my three favorite genres this year. I mean, there isn’t and can never be enough Black female rep to make up for all the decades we’ve been horribly ignored in these types of films, but I’m okay with what I’ve gotten this year, which is kinda awesome, and I’m gonna talk about that soon.

The Mandolorian Season 3

The Mando is one of those shows I’ve been sort of quietly following the entire time. I don’t talk much about it because there’s so much stuff to talk about that a lot of what I watch is going to get lost in the shuffle, but this is a good, solid, adventure series, with characters and plots I can like and understand. It’s not too emotionally taxing or plot-dense and that makes it perfect for watching when I get home from work.

I have been a Boba Fett fan since I was a little girl, but oddly, I didn’t watch The Book of Boba Fett. I skipped that and felt no particular way about it, but I have never skipped an episode of this show, although when I first heard about it I was somewhat indifferent. The show is alright though, and who can resist Baby Yoda. (I know that’s not his name).

Some Brand New Trailers, Y’all!

Some new trailers (more or less) dropped last week and while I’m not going to see any of them in the theater (because some of them are on TV!), I am kinda excited about a couple of them. I know that sounds rather lukewarm but I’m anticipating some fun things in November and December and I don’t have energy to get too excited about some of these.

Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey

The Winnie The Pooh stories are now in the public realm, which means that the characters are up for grabs as far as telling other types of stories, and someone had the bright idea to craft a Horror movie based on Hundred Acre Wood. Now, I’m from the generation that grew up with Winnie the Pooh. I nicknamed my little brother Pooh when he was a baby. I grew up with the stories, saw all the movies, and read the books, so I have no f**king idea what to think about this!

Am I gonna watch it though? Sure but I’m not gonna pay more money to see it so it better be on streaming or something…

Alienoid

This is probably gonna go to one of the streaming services at some point, but I’m curious about it. It reminds me of a 90s movie called Returner, which starred one of my favorite Japanese actors Takeshi Kaneshiro. Returner was kind of a cheap sci-fi movie and this does not look as exciting or interesting, but I’m always curious about Asian sci-fi.

Wednesday

This is one of the few shows I’m excited to watch. It looks visually stunning, I like The Addams Family, and Wednesday is one of my favorite characters. I like that all of the characters are played by Latino actors and that Gomez is a lot more physically accurate to the cartoons.

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

This movie will be released just in time for Halloween and is a Horror Comedy directed by Lily Amirpour, about a girl who escapes from an asylum and tries to live a regular life while being hunted by the police. And oh yeah, she also has super mental powers or something. I will not be seeing this in the theater.

Slumberland

This movie was totally not on my radar but it looks like a lot of fun, I like that little stuffed piggie, and Jason Momoa seems to be having the time of his life in it, so I’m going to keep an eye out for when this eventually makes it’s way to Netflix.

They Crawl Beneath

Okay, this straight-up looks like a cheap retread of Tremors. I will probably watch it because the lead actor is really cute, I like movies about sneaky little monsters, and this looks like it’s just in time for Halloween.

Creature of the Mist

This looks like a Korean version of The Mist but it isn’t. For one thing, there’s not a Horror movie I can think of that would not be improved with the addition of swords and Kung Fu! So whenever this reaches the US I’m probably gonna watch it.

Brahmastra

I don’t really watch Hindi movies because I am deeply afraid that everyone is going to break into a song and dance. The last time that happened to me was in the middle of what appeared to be a hardcore Action movie, and that was really jarring, and now I’m traumatized. I have tried really hard to like Hindi movies, and I sometimes get really excited to watch one now and again, but I guess they are an acquired taste, like pineapples on pizza. Normally, I don’t have a problem watching musicals! But apparently, I do not like musical numbers to show up in the middle of something else I’m watching without warning.

If someone can assure me that I will not be gangbustered with a dance routine in the middle of this movie, I will check it out because this looks awesome! (No, you cannot possibly reassure me that won’t happen because they look like they’re dancing right there in the trailer.)

SDCC Most Hotly Anticipated

(San Diego Comic-Con)

Very obviously the top dog on this list is going to be the next Black Panther film since it is the most hotly anticipated movie being released this fall. There are at least a couple of other movies releasing this Fall and Winter, but I either already posted their trailers, or I’ve not particularly enthused about them myself, although other people may be.

I know this is probably a little bit late but I had technical problems, but they’ve been fixed now, so here goes.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

I have a confession to make, and I’m probably not alone in this, but I haven’t watched the original Black Panther film since Chadwick passed. Like Robin Williams, I haven’t been able to watch anything he starred in since he died. I haven’t even watched any of my Mother’s favorite films because these films only remind me that they are gone. There is no future for them, and all I will never have is their legacy. It’s gonna take me a minute to get past it, but I plan to watch the original before I watch this new one, which is going to be doubly hard because not only do I know my mother was looking forward to seeing this, as she was a huge fan of Chadwick, but Black Panther was the first superhero movie I ever saw in the theater with her.

I’m gonna need tissues.

That said, I am really hyped for this movie and not just for the Wakandan stuff. I am absolutely loving the look of the Atlanteans for the South American Indigenous regalia and vibe. I think that’s really inspired, and it all looks very lovely. We finally gonna get to see Angela Bassett tear up the screen because she wasn’t given a whole lot to do in the first one. I do like how the women of Wakanda have had to hold everything down while T’Challa is gone, so it’s not outside the realm of belief to think that one of these women might wear the mask, with the most likely candidates being Nakia (who was offered the special herb in the last movie but declined it) and Shuri (who has been BP in the comic books in her brother’s absence).

One of my favorite actresses is also starring, Michaela Coel, from the hit series, Bubblegum. I thought I’d like her to play Storm, but she is playing a canon lesbian character named Aneka, who is the girlfriend/wife of Ayo, being played by Florence (“Move or you will be moved.”) Kasumba, and I’m excited for that because there is a TV series about the Dora coming up next year. And I also need to mention that Riri Williams, (the successor to Tony Stark’s legacy), as Ironheart, will also be making her debut before her own series release next year, but she is being overshadowed by:Tenoch Huerta.

And can I just say that, although I had my doubts about this new guy playing Namor, ( I was unsure if he would bring the fire, so to speak), Tenoch Huerta is looking pretty damn fire, indeed? He certainly seems to have the attitude, and when he stood on the stage at SDCC and staring speaking Spanish to the audience, I got chills, and I hope the Mexican people are as jazzed about seeing him onscreen as we were to see BP that first time! I was really hoping they would cast Gabriel Luna, but maybe they have some other role for him (like Ghost Rider again!) because I’m really looking forward to seeing more Latin and Indigenous representation in the MCU, and in Fantasy/SciFi in general. The MCU didn’t have to make Namor Mesoamerican, but they re-wrote his character to do just that, and I have to give them their props. They have made so many people happy.

There are so many cultures that would love to see themselves represented onscreen, that would love to see elements of their stories being shown to the rest of the world, and the Marvel Universe is big enough to do just that.

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

I am very much looking forward to this movie, although I don’t know if I’ll see it in the theater because that depends on what else gets released that month and if I have any money. But yeah, this looks like a lot more fun than LOTR, and House of Dragons, which are also cut from the same cloth.

This one stars one of the better Chrises, Chris Pine and he’s really cute so that’s cool. I could do without Michelle Rodriguez (mostly because she is not a likable person that I want to look at for two hours) but I do like that it has a diverse cast, because we never get to see Latinas in Fantasy stuff. I love all the sparkly magic scenes, and the movie looks like it doesn’t take itself seriously.

I like High Fantasy/Dungeons and Dragons type stuff on a TV or movie screen (and I’m still pretty damn picky about it), but I absolutely will not read any books like that. I’ve got plenty of enthusiasm when it comes to movies and shows but don’t recommend any books to me.

Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power

I can count the number of High Fantasy books I’ve read and the first three Tolkien books were it. I loved all of the movies though, not because I revere the books but for the action scenes and the characters. So basically, I’m no Tolkien purist and people like that tend to annoy me no matter what the genre. That said, I have been told we will get to see women dwarves with their beards intact. I like that the creators added a lot of PoC to this story and that they are all members of all the different races of Middle Earth, and believe it or not, I find the story intriguing too, as it’s set several centuries before The Hobbit, when Galadriel was very young.

I don’t know that I will like this but I really like the trailer, and I’m going to give it a try.

House of the Dragon

This is a legacy spinoff from Game of Thrones. I had only a passing interest in the original series, but I’ll probably check out a few episodes of this one. I wasn’t particularly invested in the various plots of GoT, and I probably won’t be here either, but I am really glad to see more PoC in Fantasy films and series. I’m glad that so many creators are simply ignoring the loud fanboys who just want these genres to stay as white, straight, and male as possible because that’s what’s comfortable for them regardless of how everyone else may feel. I think adding PoC sometimes deepens the meaning of the stories in ways, that while not actually intended by the creators, still make these vehicles worth watching for the rest of us.

We told these creators for over ten years, that if they make it, we will pay for it. They did, and we’ve kept our part of the bargain when it’s done well. They don’t always get things right, but they are listening and learning. As I said when I first started this blog: We like to have adventures too!

That said, this series looks better than the last one, and I’m still very much into the whole dragon thing, although I wonder if there will be ice zombies in this one, (a lot of people are saying no) and how engaging some of the characters will be. I am still not a fan of Matt Smith because the man’s forehead is very distracting and I simply cannot get past it. Milly Alcock however is really cute and looks like a baby (a very dangerous baby, but still).

I am not as excited about this as some other people, but I will give it a try.

The Sandman

I mentioned here before that I didn’t follow the usual comic book routes when I started reading them. There were some things that didn’t show up in my library at all, and some things showed up later, and I just didn’t read them until I was well into adulthood. The Sandman is one of those things. I’d read a few Neil Gaiman books, and liked them more or less but I wasn’t a die-hard fan or anything. He was simply another British author I was passingly familiar with.

I picked up The Sandman books in my 20s, and am passing familiar with most of the characters, so not only am I no purist, I find such people largely intolerable. Yeah, I don’t care how you think something should have been depicted (as it’s usually some inconsequential nitpicky type stuff that has nothing to do with the ultimate story, but will somehow ruin their entire childhood! No, I haven’t forgotten people acting a whole-ass-fool over the organic webspinners!) People will act a damn fool over the casting of this film and in a few years, possibly even 6 months, they will have completely forgotten their assholery and moved on to their next great film outrage.

And yes, I am old enough to remember, before social media existed, when Tom Cruise got cast as Lestat in the movie, and some people lost their shit over it!

Unless the acting is super terrible, it looks cheap, or reminds people of what happened with the failed Inhumans series, the show is going to be just fine. Most of the people watching it won’t even know anything about the minute details that are so upsetting to the stans, anyway.

All that to say, I’m not so invested in the books that I cannot enjoy this. I hope I do, and there is enough enthusiasm for me to give it a try. I try to approach every production with the hope that I will enjoy it, although if there’s no enthusiasm for it, I’ll simply skip it. That said, I have ALWAYS, and I do mean ALWAYS wanted to see a version of Death that was a Black woman and how such an actor might approach that role. I’m also loving the female version of Lucifer (Don’t know if Lucifer is female in the show or not, but the actor identifies as such.)

I Am Groot

To date, Vin Diesel has played three of the most beloved characters, The Iron Giant, Dom Toretto, and now, Groot. I am looking forward to watching these little episodes, where it looks like he’s stranded or trapped on a planet by himself, and shenanigans ensue.

And yeah, I knew those cute little blobs were going to turn out to be dangerous. If you saw the recent Suicide Squad, by James Gunn, then he does something similar with some cute little blobs in that movie, and also some more cute but dangerous tiny critters in the series, Peacemaker, and that just seems like his type of humor.

And look at that face! He’s so cute. Who wouldn’t watch an entire series about Groot, although it will be fun if we get to see him play off Drax. The two of them just mix well.

Interview With the Vampire

I first read this book as a teenager, and it quickly became one of my favorites. The original movie of this was released in the early nineties and existed alongside several other movies like it at the time, with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Crow as the two movies that most often tend to mix up their images in my head. I like this trailer although I could have done without all the histrionics. And yeah, I’m glad they are not shying away from the gay angle. Louis and Lestat were a couple for almost a couple hundred years. They had a daughter. They were a little bit coy about that in the original film (but not too much) and here they’re just blatantly showing it.

Now naturally, there are going to be people who are purists who are upset at the changes that were made, but I feel like setting it later in the history of New Orleans (the late 1800s instead of in the late 1700s), and changing the race of Louis, is something that will enhance the story, making it deeper than it would have been otherwise, and allowing the current writers to address issues that maybe Rice should have thought of when she wrote the original story. They’ve also aged up Claudia a bit too. In the book, she’s like 8 or 9 years old. In the movie, she’s perhaps 12, and here she looks more like a teenager of 14-16, and they may have done this to avoid certain sensitive issues about having a child vampire, especially if there’s lots of sexuality surrounding the vampires onscreen. This ain’t a movie, where you can lightly “suggest” certain kinds of things, and have people overlook it. Aging her up might have been an attempt to not be “distasteful”, especially after what happened with the hoopla surrounding that movie with the French director and the little dancing girls.

I really enjoyed the film and I saw it a couple of times in the theater. It was directed by Neil Jordan who was most famous for having directed the genderbending The Crying Game. I distinctly remember when the cast was announced for the film. Brad Pitt got a pass, but the announcement of Tom Cruise as Lestat, had quite a number of people blow a gasket, including Oprah Winfrey! (Although I don’t know why she felt a need to chime in on the issue.) I think that Lestat is one of Cruises’ most interesting performances of his career.

Anyway, I hope this is good. In the novel, Louis de Pont Du Lac is a slaveowner, but here the writers have race-bent the character to be a member of the Black upper class, who were known as the Free People of Color, and I thought that was an inspired bit of casting. Rather than trying to redeem the slave-owning Louis, just write that out of the story altogether and then lean into the rest of the history of that area. The history of the Freedmen of New Orleans runs pretty deep and it will be interesting to see what they do with that here.

Carter

This looks like a great little actioner from Korea, that seems to have zombies or a plague or something happening in it. I always like action films from Korea because they always bring their A-game and this looks like the kind of movie where you turn your mind off for a while and just have fun with the action scenes.

This is a good movie to watch while you wait for John Wick 4.

John Wick 4

I and a lot of other fans are eagerly looking forward to this new episode in the franchise since I thought at least a few of these characters were dead! So I am glad to see that they are back and still scheming. I’m also a big fan of Keanu and will pretty much watch anything he’s in, even if it’s something I wouldn’t normally be interested in. But one of my other favorite actors is also here, Donnie Yen. And I absolutely cannot miss Keanu going up against such a consummate professional. I’m not particularly interested in the worldbuilding which is very intricate for an Action movie. I’ve paid close enough attention to have some idea of what’s going on, but I’m not too deep into it. The reason people see these movies aren’t necessarily for the plot, but for the action scenes, which are fast and inventive, and this appears to be more of the same.

Tales of the Walking Dead

I told myself I wasn’t going to watch any more of these after quitting the original Walking Dead series, but this looks intriguing enough to catch my interest. This series seems like what the movie World War Z should have been.

WWZ should have been a kind of anthology series covering the various stories about the zombie apocalypse from the book. The problem is that they hired such a huge name to star in the movie that now the entire movie has to revolve around Brad Pitt. I liked the movie more or less. It’s an alright movie on its own but, except for a couple of setpieces, it’s nothing like the book.

Honorable Mentions

Shazam 2: Fury of the Gods

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

She-Hulk

Next Up:

Most anticipated projects of MCU Phase 5 and 6!

Some Very Exciting Trailers

Okay, I have to say that at least one of these I probably won’t watch but I know they have a huge fan club and I’m excited on their behalf, and I’m going to wait for these people’s reviews to see if it’s any good. But I absolutely love most of these trailers and I’m really looking forward to seeing if these movies and series can live up to the hype.

The Munsters

I have to confess, I was never an Addams Family fan until the movies came out in the 90s. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely watched the series as a child, and I liked it and thought it was fun, but I’m a Munsters girl and have been ever since. I just loved the wholesome kookiness of it. I even liked that early oughts remake called Mockingbird Lane that never got off the ground.

But I absolutely love this trailer. It perfectly captures the fun, quirky vibe of the original, except with bright fun colors, since the original was in black and white. Also, the soundtrack was always kickin’ it like this! Everything you see in this trailer is pretty much the exact same vibe that was in the series, right down to Herman Munster’s ridiculous laugh.

The nostalgia factor, for those of us who fondly remember the series, is pretty strong here, and it’s probably a movie that’s not to everyone’s tastes, but the point is to go in expecting to have some light-hearted fun, a good time, and not get too deep beyond the message of tolerating strange and unusual people.

Halloween Ends

And so here it ends. Laurie Strode and Michael Myers have been at each other for four decades, I guess, and here comes the end. It’s time to get this over with, I guess. Sooner or later it was gonna come down to the two of them, since Laurie was always the one who got away.

The second movie in this trilogy was not as good as the first, but I greatly appreciated the effort because it answered a number of questions, and tied up some loose ends.

Now the only question left is: Who will win this fight? And really the answer is totally up in the air at this point because I don’t really think the writers are caring too deeply about what fandom wants, as they in completing an arc.

So yeah, Laurie could very well die at the end, and I need people to understand that’s a very real possibility. Is it gonna hurt if she does? Hell yeah, but I’m preparing myself for that eventuality, just in case. I’m reasonably sure I’m not going to see this in the theater. I’ll wait until it streams because I really don’t think I could sit through that amount of tension in a public space.

Matilda

I really liked the original movie but apparently THIS IS NOT A REMAKE of that film!!

Guys, this movie is based on the stage musical, which I have never seen. I really like this trailer mostly because I liked the book, and I like musicals. The trailer seems pretty good. I liked the dancing and the little snippets of what songs I heard. I probably will not see this in a theater though I am looking forward to it because I know their are a helluva lot of fans of the original film who think this is a remake of that, and I really hope they like this version.

Carter

This looks like the type of martial arts action movie I can get in on. A Lone protagonist, against a city full of assassins and other deranged criminals (and I’m not entirely sure, but possibly zombies!) There’s always some new take on zombie films coming out of Southeast Asia and I am here for it. Don’t get me wrong, I like American zombie films, especially the classics from the 80s, but Taiwan and Korea are really taking this subject to some interesting new places. This seems as if it might be a mashup of two of my favorite topics, so I hope it is zombies, or something zombie adjacent.

The lot sounds pretty pedestrian so I won’t have to think too deeply about. A little boy is carrying a cure for some lethal disease in his blood and needs to be transported and protected to some new location to save humanity. Most action movies are not exceptionally deep plotwise because the focus is supposed to be on the action, and that’s okay. This one is coming to Netflix.

Prey

I really like the original Predator movie with Arnold, and I’ve enjoyed at least 3 of the subsequent movies in this franchise. I don’t like all of them, but I have watched all of them, and I plan to watch this series when it comes to Hulu next month. The trailer looks interesting. We have some kind of tribal thing going on, and a female protagonist, which sounds pretty cool, since I actually liked AVP, which also had a female hero. Will this be well executed? I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to taking it for a test drive, and I will probably talk about at least the first episode here.

Honorable Mention:

Day Shift

I mentioned this Netflix movie once before and I just wanted to say, once again, that it looks like a lot of fun. I like Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg, it has vampires, and I liked Vampires Vs, Brooklyn. I like that it’s not taking itself too seriously because I’m not watching anything that’s too heavy this Summer.

This weekend:

I’m watching the fourth season of What We Do In The Shadows on Hulu, and The Gray Man, an action film by the Russo Brothers on Netflix.

Ten Favorite Martial Arts Movies

Hi there,

Here’s a list of my top favorite Martial Arts movies. I have so many favorites, and there are so many good films, that I had to lay down some ground rules. Most of these movies were released after 1980 and they had to have prominent martial arts action or a character. I tried not to include the same actor too many times and threw in a mix of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese films, but American action films were not included because that’s another list entirely.

There are also a bunch of movies that made the second-tier list, not because of their quality, but because they simply didn’t make it into the top ten. Those movies are listed under Honorable Mentions. There are very few animated movies on this list because I don’t usually watch a lot of anime, let alone martial arts anime, and usually only watch something after it’s been turned into a live-action film, (like Bleach and Samurai X).

You will find that when I list movies and shows, I often don’t rank them from best to worst or favorite to least favorite, or by number rankings either. The reason I don’t do that is because that’s simply not how my mind works. I don’t usually compare and contrast things by number or least to best. For me, the designation of best and worst is kind of generic. These are movies I like. These are some movies I don’t like, which doesn’t mean I’m comparing the worth of one film against another, because it’s not about whether a film is good or bad. Just whether I liked it or not.

Fist of Legend

This is Jet Li’s homage to the original Chinese Connection which starred Bruce Lee. It’s a great-looking movie, which differs from the original in that there is more of an emphasis on the romantic angle between the lead character, who is Chinese, and a young Japanese woman he met at school. The fight scenes are plentiful, inventive, occasionally playful, brutal, and very well done, as expected from the choreographer of The Matrix, Yuen Woo Ping.

One of the things which make for a great martial arts film isn’t just having fight scenes, but the variety of styles and themes in the fights. Contrast the fight scene between Chen Zen and his father in law, where the father in law rather reluctantly fights for his daughter’s honor, not because he dislikes her husband, but because he believes that’s what he’s supposed to do as her father, and the final fight scene of the film which is a long and brutal takedown of the Japanese bullies who killed Chen Zen’s teacher. That fight is about revenge, while one of the first fights in the movie is the articulation of Chen Zen’s character.

This movie focuses less on the racism of the Japanese, and more on the perseverance, and honorable character of Chen Zen, in the face of such long odds.

Chinese Connection

This is the original on which Fist of Legend is based, and was the movie that got me thinking about racism, and the clash of other cultures, in a really big way. I remember watching this movie on some idle Saturday afternoon, and I specifically remember the scene where Chen Zen, kicks down a sign in front of a building that said, “No dogs or Chinese allowed!” Even at that young age (I was definitely under ten at the time) I knew racism when I saw it, and I grew curious about the enmity I kept observing in Chinese martial arts movies, against the Japanese.

Up to that point, we had only ever discussed Blackness and its relationship to white supremacy in our house, and being a child, it never occurred to me that other groups of people were going through, had been through, things that were similar to what Black people in America had gone through. It wasn’t until I was researching the Japanese participation in WW2, that I came across a book called The Rape of Nanking, about the invasion of China by the Imperial Japanese Army. It is quite possibly one of the most horrific things I’ve ever read, rivaling any number of massacres committed on American soil, and I would not have known to ask the questions that lead me to know about it if it weren’t for this movie.

The Swordsman

This is one of the more emotional martial arts films to be released in the past five years. When most people think of such films they usually focus on the excitement of the fight scenes, and that’s a valid approach because that’s what the fight scenes are for, but from time to time a movie gets made that really pushes the emotional buttons and The Swordsman just worked for me.

A partly blind swordsman lives in the mountains with his daughter, while she chafes at the restrictions of their lifestyle, and is desperate to buy medicine to cure his blindness. When she is kidnapped by corrupt Imperial guards while visiting the city, the swordsman must come out of hiding to find and protect her.

What’s interesting about this movie is that most of the plot must be figured out by the viewer, because none of the details are openly stated, and are instead shown. As a viewer, you have to pay attention to who the characters are, their motivations, and their statements. The action scenes make a point, the music is touching and beautiful, and the cinematography is captivating.

And yeah, it’s got some great fight scenes, too.

Rise Of The Legend

This is one of my all-time favorite Chinese Action films, not because it’s especially deep, but because the fight scenes are so varied and exciting. I think I mentioned before that the best fight scenes always seem to take place in inclement weather. I think the directors do this to enhance the conflict, show that the blows are actually connecting and because flying water looks very dynamic. This movie is so good, so exciting, that the first time I saw it, I barely paid attention to the plot, which gave me the excuse to watch it multiple times, (not that I need an excuse to keep watching a good movie.)

This is another one of a bajillion movies about the early life of Wong Fei Hung, who was a famous martial artist, doctor, and folk hero in late 19th century China, (sort of like the Chinese version of John Henry, only with more movies – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wong_Fei-hung#Legacy .) This particular film is about the time he was adopted into a gang, (with the gangleader being played by none other than the great Sammo Hung), and chronicles the legend of his defeat of thirty dockworkers while using nothing but a bo staff.

Eddie Peng is a great choice as Wong Fei Hung. No, he’s not in Jet Li’s league but he is acceptable. There’s also a short cameo from Tony Leung. The cinematography is gorgeous, but I could have done without a couple of the musical choices.

Kung Fu Hustle

This movie is always going to be the funniest martial arts movie in existence. Stephen Chow just pulled out all the stops. If you like hard luck stories, redemption arcs, Looney Tunes, gangsters, and female empowerment, then this is your movie.

A wannabe gangster keeps trying to make his name with The Axe Gang by attempting to victimize the down-on-their-luck people of Pig Sty Alley, which I am told was based on a real place in China. In order to bring the surprisingly martially talented people of Pig Sty to heel, The Axe Gang keeps calling on worst and worst assassins, until all of this culminates in a knockdown, drag-out, three-way fight between the now super-powered wannabe, his toad-like nemesis, The Beast, and the leftovers of the Axe Gang.

The special effects are hilarious, the soundtrack is kicking, and the movie is surprisingly heartwarming because at its center, is the theme of forgiving people’s past mistakes, and the unrequited love story of a little boy who tried to impress a girl by learning kung fu, who eventually becomes the man he was meant to be, and worthy of her regard.

The Grandmaster

If you loved Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon for its visuals then you will love this movie. It is, quite frankly, one of the most gorgeous martial arts films ever made, starring two of my all-time favorite actors Zhang Ziyi, and Tony Leung. Now Tony is not new to starring in gorgeous-looking films. Check out Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood For Love, and Chungking Express. I absolutely love this movie which, just like Crouching Tiger, is a mashup of an Action film and a Romance.

The movie is based on the life story of Ip Man, of whom about a million movies have been made including several movies starring Donnie Yen. In this film, the lead character is contested by several martial arts masters for the title of Grandmaster after the former retires. The retiree’s daughter disagrees, believing that Ip Man is unworthy and so challenges him herself, and she wins, but the two of them part on good terms and the movie chronicles their friendship over the following decades, including their promised rematch. (If you’ve been watching the Ip Man films, this story occurs before the events of the first movie.)

As martial arts movies go, and in keeping with a film by Wong Kar Wai, the film has some great action scenes but is generally quieter, and more philosophical than other such films. There is of course the obligatory fight scene in the rain that is required of any good Chinese Action movie, but there are also long stretches of characters discussing the philosophy of fighting, and I found those just as interesting as the action scenes. Despite the rainy scene at the beginning of the film being visually perfect, my favorite is the train scene, where Ziyi Zhang’s character (Gong Er) fights her archenemy (the man who killed her father).

Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman

This is one of the quirkier movies on this list, and it stars one of my favorite Japanese weirdos, Takeshi Kitano, who has a very interesting sense of humor. I like this one because all of the sword fights are very exciting. It takes more than a few minutes to get started, but once it kicks into gear it doesn’t let up. The plot is easy to understand despite having a fairly large cast, and it has everything, horror, tragedy, action, and a little humor, which rises out of some of the characters just being oddballs.

The plot involves farmers being menaced by some town gangsters, the lone gunman archetype in the form of a blind masseuse, and a couple of vengeance-minded traveling Geisha, one of whom is transgender. You wouldn’t think this was a plot that made for a lot of humor but it works. There are even a couple of musical numbers thrown in as well, which is not something I was expecting the first time I saw this, but which makes perfect sense given Kitano’s backstory as a comedian and TV show host. Please stick around till the end credits when you will be treated to a dance number given by the full cast of the film.

Iron Monkey

Iron Monkey is one of my favorite Donnie Yen movies. It’s a Robin Hood-type story involving daring escapes, corrupt government officials, kids in danger, medical life-saving, all the basics of a good Kung Fu story really. Oh, did I mention this is yet another in a very long list of Wong Fei Hung movies, which neither I nor the Chinese moviegoer ever seem to get tired of?

The Iron Monkey is basically a small-town doctor who has taken it upon himself to become a vigilante, stealing money from the rich and useless governor of the region and giving the money away to the poor. Most of the plot consists of the governor coming up with schemes to capture this menace who keeps stealing his riches. Meanwhile, a very young Fei Hung is visiting the region with his father and they get caught up in the governor’s schemes. Due to his incompetence in capturing the Iron Monkey, the capital sends an even more corrupt replacement official, dangerous flunkies in tow, who becomes the Final Boss fight of the film.

Rurouni Kenshin Quadrilogy

*Sigh*

At some point, I am going to have to have a long discussion about this set of films, all of whom are connected. This is more than a franchise. It’s really just one long film ala Lord of the Rings, but what stands out about it are the fight scenes, which are inventive, brutal, and gorgeous. This set of films is based on the Manga Samurai X, which tells the story of Himura Kenshin, a Meiji Era Japanese swordsman who has taken a vow to never kill again. Naturally, you can guess that he will be tempted to kill at every opportunity thereafter, as the events of his past, when he was known as the Battosai (The Man Killer) literally come back to haunt him.

There’s a lot to unpack about these movies. There are a lot of themes and popular tropes about personal vows, love and romance, loyalty, politics, betrayal, and found family. I have not watched the last two movies in this series, which are currently available on Netflix, and chronicle the lead character’s origin story.

Legend of Drunken Master 2

I did a brief post about this film a couple years back and talked about why it was one of my favorites. Jackie Chan starred in the first, original, Drunken Master in 1978, and that movie was a lot of fun, but this movie really is an improvement on it with some extra themes involving family loyalty and Western colonization, that give it a level of depth that the first movie lacked. Stick around for the last nearly thirty-minute long fight scene between Jackie Chan and various martial arts minions, and some great stunt work, and drunken boxing.

Honorable Mentions:

Into the Badlands (TV Series)

Ip Man Quadrilogy starring Donnie Yen

The Raid: Redemption

Hero/Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon/ House of Flying Daggers

Sword of the Stranger (Anime)