Starring the Landscape: The Desert Has No Memory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New School: Devourers

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New School: Possessive Aliens and Parasites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New School: Possessive Ghosts and Demons

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

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

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

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

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

The New School: Cellar Dwellers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The New School: Machines

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

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

The Slave Rebellion Genre (by Lakitha Tolbert)

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

New and Weird

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Trailers This Week

Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

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

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

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

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

Jurassic Park Dominion

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

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

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

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

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

Crimes of the Future

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

The Peacemakers

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

Bodies Bodies Bodies

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

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

Black Women In Action: The Movies

There was a time when Black women were set to become Action movie heroines in the 70s and 80s, with Tina Turner playing the Acid Queen in the Who’s Tommy, and Grace Jones getting her acting chops while working along side Arnold Schwarzeneggar in Conan, and as May Day in the Bond movie, A View to a Kill , but by the late 80s, the film industry had become fully corporatized, and the movers and shakers in the industry (straight white men) decided not just to concentrate their attention on appealing to the white male demographic, but deciding that other types of audiences, like Asian American and Black audiences, for example, were simply not worth pursuing. This is not a secret or a conspiracy. They were pretty open about which demographics they wanted to attract. They decided that the most money could be made by appealing to what interested straight white men (between the ages of 15 and 35) in movies and TV, and the industry also determined, according to its own criteria, I guess, that white men were simply not interested in looking at other races of women. After some time, Black men were allowed (if they were support characters), and Asian men were allowed as villains mostly, during the 90s, (due to reasons outside of Hollywood somewhat), but Black women never made a comeback.

Excluding everyone except white men may have began as a specifically non-racist act, (I don’t know this for sure) inspired solely by investment opportunities, but it soon became one though, and also a self fulfilling prophecy. Hollywood stopped making movies that appealed to other demographics, and then claimed that such movies didn’t make any money. Asian, Black, and Latine audiences are still fighting against this idea today. There’s a reason why there are so few Black women on this list, and many of these productions are quite old. It is only in the past five or six years (Black Panther was released in 2018) that we’ve seen an uptick in the casting of African American women for Action roles. This is partly due to lobbying by Black audiences, (specifically Black women), but also partly due to the emergence of stunt doubles for Black actresses.

Here are some of my absolute favorite Black Action movie heroines. There are a few more, but I decided to just list these gals because these are the performances that most resonated with me, and ones I’ve returned to multiple times. I also decided to list some forthcoming roles that I’m watching out for.

Grace Jones – Zula from Conan The Destroyer, Katrina from Vamp (1980s)

Flawless Grab Him GIF - Flawless GrabHim TakeHim - Discover & Share GIFs |  Tribal men, Glitter images, Conan the destroyer

Conan was released in 1982, and while I had been reading the Conan novels that whole time, I wasn’t particularly interested in watching this movie at the theater. I eventually saw this on television and was immediately enchanted by Grace Jones’s character, Zula. When we first meet her, she’s beating the absolute tar out of a bunch of men who had her tied to a stake, and were tormenting her for fun. Conan, ever the champion of the underdog, cut her loose, after which she felt indebted to him, and accompanied him on his journey of revenge.

In the gif above, she delivers one of the funniest lines, in an entire movie filled with funny lines, when the virginal white girl asks her how to attract a man. Ursula’s answer is fairly blunt, and I haven’t stopped laughing at this response for almost 40 years. No, this isn’t good advice for anyone, man or woman.

Now, at the time I saw this movie, I was already familiar with Grace Jones’s career as a Disco performer and model. She was basically the 70s/mid-80s equivalent of Beyonce, a triple threat to your wallet. She was everywhere, and it is heavily rumored, mostly by Grace, that she slept with some of the hottest male performers of the 80s, including Arnold, Dolph Lundgren, Sylvester Stallone, and Adam Ant! So I guess the above advice sort of worked for her.

Conan The Destroyer can be rented on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and YouTube.



Tina Turner – Auntie Entity – Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome (1980s)

Tina Turner: A Life in Wigs | NewNowNext

Okay, in order to do this woman justice for her role in this movie, I’m gonna have to go to Wikipedia.

Tina Turner was selected to play the role because she is perceived as a positive persona and to give the sense that Aunty Entity was once a hero which amplifies how tragic that character is. She was selected because Aunty’s age was to be indeterminate, to underline the fact she is a survivor with a lot of charisma, capable of building a place like Bartertown and that she represents both good and evil. Aunty’s personality reflects Max’s in a way that she built a physical world for herself and she will not allow for any evolution or change, much like Max who is incapable of letting go of his past. 

—– https://madmax.fandom.com/wiki/Aunty_Entity

Her hair and her makeup were totally on point. She lived in an aerie above the town she created, as she said, by her own two hands. She’s smart as hell, conniving, brave, stubborn, compassionate, and probably one of the most well-rounded villains in a Mad Max film, along with being the only female villain in the franchise.

It seems I was the only person I knew who was excited about her role in this movie, but thanks to mom, I also knew a lot about her musical career before this, including her role in The Who’s Tommy, as The Acid Queen, which I didn’t get to see until well into adulthood. (The movie is definitely an acquired taste, and should probably only be watched by musical completists.)

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is available for rent on Amazon Prime, Apple, and Google Play.

Jurnee Smollet – Black Canary – …Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey

Birds Of Prey Dinah Lance GIF - Birds Of Prey Dinah Lance Black Canary -  Discover & Share GIFs

I’m a huge fan of the Harley Quinn movie. I love it because it stars so many of my favorite female characters, and I’m a sucker for the trope of rival individuals coming together to defeat a common foe and becoming friends in the process. I especially love it when this happens with female characters. I was not a huge fan of the comic book version of this character. I knew a lot about her because she was often associated with Green Arrow, who I was a fan of because he was one of the few openly political characters in comics.

The Dinah Lance we see in this movie is probably the second version of Black Canary, and the daughter of the original also named Dinah Drake. (I’m glad Jurnee Smollet was chosen for this role because it implies that her father was Black.) So, I’m watching this movie and waiting to see what she can do, and I kept being frustrated. I kept waiting to hear the Canary scream, and the movie kept teasing me with little hints of her powers, until the final scene above, where we get to see the American version of The Lion’s Roar, (from the movie, Kung Fu Hustle!)

Jurnee is set to star in her own Black Canary movie, at some point, and I’m eager to see where this character’s story goes.

Harley Quinn is available on HBOMax.

Sanaa Lathan – Alexa Woods – Alien Vs. Predator (1990s)

Scare Me On Fridays: Keyword Horror

When I first saw this movie, it took me a minute to figure out that she was the hero of the movie, and that what I was seeing was intended all along! The Alien franchise is known for having strong female characters, and the Predator franchise was also known for the diversity of its casts, especially in the second film, which starred Danny Glover, as the hero, so Alien vs Predator is not going out of its way in having a Black woman as the hero of this movie.

I remember thinking this character was somewhat abrasive when I first saw her, but I was a lot younger, and characters like her were pretty rare, so I wasn’t used to it. No one was, really. What I was seeing was a Black woman being given the same hero treatment as a white man, or rather, she’s being treated like Ripley. She wasn’t being cute or sexy. She’s not being abrasive. She’s an assured woman who is simply being a no-nonsense action hero. She makes ground rules for the other characters, establishes boundaries beyond which she will not cross, and that she doesn’t tolerate nonsense. She’s actually a pretty good character who works hard, not just to save herself, but the people whose lives she’s in charge of, and eventually the world. I remember watching this with my Mom and the two of us slowly figuring out she was actually the hero of this movie, and then the two of us being thrilled and acting total fools during the scene where she goes toe to toe with an Alien and the Predators give her “respeckt”!

There’s a lot to be said about this film beyond Sanaa Lathan’s character. The film’s treatment by fans, for example, and the treatment of diversity within the two franchises need to be talked about, and I intend to do that later if I can remember.

AVP is available for free on Tubi, and on Amazon Prime with a subscription.



Tessa Thompson -Valkyrie – Thor: Ragnarok

Are Captain Marvel and Valkyrie the Rainbow Lovers of MCU? - Spotflik

I wasn’t expecting this one when I started this list. I mean have I grown so used to seeing Black women kicking ass in movies that I’ve grown jaded about seeing them. I don’t think so. I think it’s the treatment of the character in the story. Her treatment is unremarkable, and that is actually a good thing! First, she’s not the only Black person in Asgard. There is Heimdall, a character who is a giant white guy in the comic books, but in the MCU is played by Idris Elba, which is some inspired casting. And second, there’s nothing at all about her character that signals that she’s “A Black Character”. There’s no Rap music playing whenever she shows up, she’s not just Thor’s sidekick, she has a backstory of her own, she gets to be both funny and sexy, she shows agency within the story, she doesn’t speak in AAVE, and Thor is very obviously smitten with her.

Let’s be clear though, while all the characters are funny and have their moments, the most hilarious person in the entire movie is Jeff Goldblum! I love this movie, which is definitely in my top twenty superhero movies. Possibly even in the top ten!

In other words, Valkyrie is given the hero treatment, as she should, and there’s nothing especially triggering about her as a character, which is refreshing because there are a lot of white creators who try to be relevant to Black audiences by signifying their “wokeness” through the characters and failing. It took a Maori/Jewish director, one who thoroughly understands representation, to consider adding a Black woman to this film. When you race-swap white characters or add Black characters to these types of stories this is how they need to be treated. These characters arent about being Black. The point is for them to be present and heroic, or villainous, or funny, or whatever, just like all the white ones.

Anyway, Valkyrie is a total badass, as befits one of Odin’s chosen, going toe to toe with Thor (who seems too in awe of her to be insulted), and putting her sht down at the end of the movie, along with everyone else, and that was the correct way to write her. I remember seeing the above image in the trailer and being deeply puzzled as to why there were rainbow fireworks at her entrance (which is an entirely fitting response, of course), and when I found out why I laughed my ass off! This character gave me a little more confidence about the MCU’s treatment of its incoming Black characters, like Spectrum, and Blade.

I hope Feige learned a lot from the mistakes that were made in Star Wars, that when you promise the audience a Black, Asian, or Latine hero, they get the white guy hero treatment, and to Hell with how White fanboys feel about that. Things ain’t always about THEIR feelings because other people besides them pay to see these movies

Don’t get me wrong, I do really like Valkyrie ( in the newest Thor movie she is called King Valkyrie), but she isn’t my all-time favorite Black female superhero. Imma talk about her in a minute.

Thor: Ragnarok is available on the Disney Plus streaming service.

Viola Davis – Amanda Waller from Suicide Squad

Amanda Waller - Suicide Squad Fan Art (39953362) - Fanpop

I’m not sure if people understand just how groundbreaking both this role and this actress are being. Okay, maybe the movie wasn’t great (I still love it though) but Viola was one of the best things about it, and she starred in it with, of all people, Will Smith. Viola is the G.O.A.T. She’s also one of those triple crown award winners having won the Oscar, the Emmy, the Tony, and numerous other acting awards, multiple times, and here she is in a superhero movie, as one of my favorite old-school Batman characters, Amanda Waller. (She has since reprised this role in Suicide Squad 2021 and the Peacemaker television series). I couldn’t have asked for a better actress for that character.

Waller has always been an ethically gray character and they kept that dynamic for these films. She is, according to every definition of the term, a total BAD-ASS. (I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a problem with Black actors playing villains. I have a problem when those are the only roles we ever get.) She’s one of those characters I once talked to my niece about, a bad person who does good things, or rather a good person who does some very bad things. Pick one!

Waller is absolutely relentless when it comes to getting her way, she is secretive, conniving, and totally merciless, but she also will not lie to people and keeps her word, so she is not immoral, nor amoral, as some people have said. She simply has her own standards of behavior. Technically, she is not unlike Peacemaker, raised and trained to think of her country in a certain way, as ruthless about her job as he was, and the only character I’ve ever seen in the comics who has ever dressed down Batman to his face (and be right!)

The Peacemaker series and both Suicide Squad movies are available on HBOMax.

Lupita Ny’ongo – Nakia from Black Panther, and Miss Caroline from Little Monsters

Little Monsters Halloween GIF by Altitude Films - Find & Share on GIPHY

I’m really enjoying Lupita’s work since Black Panther. She seems to have gotten a bit of the Action movie bug because she has starred in this, and as a government computer expert in the all-female spy movie, 355. Here, she plays a sunny schoolteacher named Miss Caroline, who must protect her grade school class from a zombie infestation, and if you haven’t seen this movie, you must check it out because it’s a lot of fun watching Lupita slay zombies with various farm implements while trying to keep the babies in her charge from realizing what’s happening. I gave a minireview of this movie in an earlier post.

Lupita didn’t get to engage in as much action as I wanted her to in Black Panther, but she more than makes up for it here, carrying most of the action and character motivation. The movie is also pretty raunchy, not because of her, but because of her erstwhile love interest and some other characters with potty mouths. With her relentlessly sunny disposition and matching dress, she is the star of this movie, as her white co-lead spends most of the movie trying desperately to win her regard.

This movie is still available to stream on Hulu.



Danae Gurira – Black Panther

The Dora Milaje Are A Force To Be Reckoned With In Black Panther's Newest  Featurette

I actually took my Mom to go see this movie. She loved the Dora Milaje. She didn’t live long enough to see them in Falcon and the Winter Soldier and I’m sad she’s not alive to see The Woman King later this year, but I’m sure I’ll have enough love for both of us. I loved Danae in her role as General of this all-female Wakandan Special Forces group, and it was a joy to watch these women work. It always is. This movie and its characters were the culmination of several decades of Afro-futurist discussion!

But there were quite a number of Black people who simply didn’t understand our happiness and enthusiasm for these images or stories.

Black people who think that entertainment isn’t important are just a drag on our happiness. According to such people, life isn’t supposed to be about finding joy where you can, and you should just sit around contemplating overcoming racism all day long. They see things like this as frivolous and stupid, while those of us who love it keep trying to explain why representation is important, why laughter, having fun, and Black joy is important too.

1. It’s okay to be happy! All those things are what make life survivable. It’s what makes the hard work of overcoming oppression, worth overcoming. What is the point of living without moments of joy, and those frivolous things that make a person happy? MCU movies are just one of the things that make me happy to be alive, and I will not be made to feel ashamed of my ability to laugh. Black people have survived some of the worst sht that white supremacy could possibly throw at us and part of the reason for our resilience was our ability to laugh in the face of our oppressors, and find joy and meaning in the seeming frivolousness of Pop Culture.

2. You can’t imagine yourself as something you’ve never seen and don’t know about. Part of the reason I wanted to be an opera singer when I was a little girl was that I saw Jessye Norman on TV, and she was so poised, beautiful, elegant, and talented, that I said to my little self: If she can do that, then so can I. That is a thing I could choose. And this goes for every woman I ever wanted to be like when I was a little girl, from my Mom, to the first Black female astronaut (May Jemison), to fictional characters like Uhura, Ripley, and Laurie Strode (Yes, one of the bravest babysitters to ever survive a Slasher film!) These are the kinds of women who taught me that it was okay to be practical, smart, resourceful, and beautiful, graceful, and elegant while doing so.

I would never have wanted to be like them if I had never known they existed.

3. Some of us, those of us with imagination at least, still get inspired by art that’s created around us, and people do not realize how starved they are for certain images until they see them. We need to see ourselves in strong and heroic roles, not just as victims of racism and drug criminals. We need to be able to imagine ourselves controlling our future, and not just as victims of terrorism in the past. And most importantly we need to be able to imagine ourselves in Fantasy and SciFi stories as something other than sidekicks.

But I’m not going to spend my time being angry about things I didn’t get in the past. I’m just glad to see it happening right now.

Black Panther is available for streaming on Disney Plus.

Jada Pinkett Smith – Jerrilyn – Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

Jada Pinkett is the first and only Final Girl I’ve ever encountered in a pseudo-Slasher movie. Okay, Demon Knight isn’t actually a Slasher film, but it does have a supernatural antagonist and people getting knocked off one by one until there is only one survivor. I’m pretty sure I mentioned Jerilyn in another post some time ago. She is an ex-convict (something that becomes important to the story) who is in a work-release program at a boarding house run by a Black woman named Irene, who is mildly abusive to her. Nevertheless, when things go South, she does her best to step up and save the other residents of the boardinghouse, but they all get done in by the weakness of their character. She is strong and clever enough not just to survive the monsters unleashed on the boarding house by Billy Zane’s demonic character but capable of defeating him as well, which is something I was not expecting when I first watched this movie.

Black people were so used to watching our characters never make it to the end of any Horror movie that not only did we become inured to it, we made jokes about it, but every now and then a filmmaker would surprise us. This is also the reason I advocate for more Black and Indigenous film directors in genre films. They are aware of the stereotypes and seek to avoid them most of the time.

Angela Bassett – Mace Mason from Strange Days

angela bassett GIFs - Primo GIF - Latest Animated GIFs

I was not especially impressed by this movie when it was released. Angle Bassett’s career had just taken off at the time, so the woman who sucked all the air out of the room was Juliette Lewis, who plays what you think is going to be the lead character’s love interest. I was not impressed with Juliette’s role in the movie. She has had much much better roles than this one, but I was impressed by Angela Bassett’s character Mace Mason. The movie is directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who had a habit of overturning a lot of tropes in her movies, and for some reason, this was one of her movies that was forgotten.

Angela, who was fresh off of What’s Love Got To Do With It, and had the biceps to show it, plays a steely-eyed bodyguard and limousine driver who spends most of the movie protecting her best friend, Lenny, played by Ralph Fiennes. The movie is of course completely ridiculous (it has not aged well as far as the technology or the social issues it’s trying to address), but the sight of Angela Bassett gunning down bad guys, while chasing after them in a spangly dress and bare feet, was an image I was always going to be ready for! She isn’t the star of this movie (that would be Feinnes) but she does qualify as his co-lead. I remember the promotions at the time, and that no one was paying attention to her. They were all making a really huge deal over Juliette’s sexy vamp, at the time, when it was Mace who was the most groundbreaking character.

Halle Berry – Sofia from John Wick 3

A Complete Guide to the 'John Wick' Universe - The Ringer

Now, this is how promoting a movie should be done. Halle Berry received the proper amount of repseckt for, not just keeping up with Keanu Reeves in John Wick, but at 54 years old, going toe to toe with him and many of his foes. She’s not alone though. Her two loyal and deadly Belgian Malinois are with her literally every step of the way. She is, in this film, every bit John Wick’s equal, featuring a parallel story of having one of her babies harmed by the bad guys. There is a gorgeous video of Halle training her dogs and training for the shootout in the above photo. This is a woman who understood the assignment and brought her A-game.

John Wick 3: Parabellum is available to rent on Amazon Prime.





Zazie Beetz – Domino from Deadpool 2

why i am bisexual:

I think I spoke about Domino in an earlier post about how she was one of my all-time favorite movie superheroes. I just fell in love with this character so much, not just because she’s gorgeous but the way in which her superpower is filmed in the movie Deadpool 2. It was such a treat to watch a movie where a Black woman simply strolls nonchalantly through any and all danger, completely unbothered because her ability to NOT be harmed is her superpower. It’s every bit as fascinating to watch as Luke Cage, as the world literally revolves around her to keep her out of harm’s way.

She calls her power Luck, but what is actually happening is that she is bending the laws of probability to be in her favor, and what makes her abilities so hilarious is that while she is well aware she has this ability she is not in control of it. It’s an unconscious power, so she can take full advantage of it assured that she’ll walk out of every event unscathed, and it is deeply funny watching the world twist itself into a pretzel to keep her safe. Note while watching the movie, that her using her powers often results in bad luck for everyone else in her vicinity, including Wade, and I’m not certain her character in the movie knows it.

Deadpool 2 is streaming on Hulu.

Regina King – Trudy Smith – The Harder They Fall

Gun Fire Trudy Smith GIF - Gun Fire Trudy Smith The Harder They GIFs

Regina King has been killing the acting game for years, but mostly starred in dramas. She’s been directing various television shows since 2013 and had an off-and-on bit part in The Big Bang Theory. Lately, she’s been developing and producing her own projects. Since there are quite a large number of Black women who are genre movie nerds, that’s where she’s been putting her energy, and I am here for it. She was awesome in Watchmen as Angela Abar, and here she is tearing it up as Trudy, in one of my favorite movies of 2021, The Harder They Fall. Trudi is one of the very few of Regina’s villain roles and she is deliciously good at it. It’s also just a lot of fun to watch this all-Black cast having shootouts while riding horses. Trudy is vengeful, relentless, and extremely capable. She also gets some of the movie’s best lines, and a great action scene with Zazie Beetz.

Honorable Mentions

Naomie Harris as Mrs. Moneypenny in SkyFall

Lashana Lynch, as Nomi/007, in No Time to Die

BONUS

Black Women Directors

https://parade.com/1176335/raquelle-harris/black-female-directors-producers-writers-behind-the-scenes-movies-tv/

Director Honorable Mentions:

Beyonce

When we think of Black women directors people often forget Beyonce because she is primarily a performer, and they forget that she has produced and directed all of her long form music videos: Lemonade, Homecoming, and Black is King.

Gina Prince Blythewood

She is the phenomenal director of the Netflix Original Film, The Old Guard, adapted from the comic book of the same name. Ths movie was a surprise hit for her, and she was set to direct the sequel but has since begun directing something that is equally important to her, a movie about the all-female Dahomey tribe, and their war against English colonialism in the 18th century titled, The Woman King, starring Viola Davis, and set for release this year.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry has made her directorial debut as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter in the movie Bruised, that is currently airing on Netflix. I have yet to watch this (I have yet to watch many things) but I’ve heard really good things about it. For those of you interested in Queer relationships, it has that along with Halle Berry doing MMA fighting! It’s a Rocky story for Black women and I’m here for it!

https://variety.com/2020/film/news/halle-berry-bruised-directing-toronto-film-festival-1234762255/

Here’s What I Watched in March:

Now, these are not the only things I watched, these are just the most notable movies and shows, the ones that haunted me afterward, or just wouldn’t go away after seeing them. It does not necessarily mean the movie was any good (I enjoyed all of these, btw), it just means that after several days I’m still thinking very deeply about them. The most recent stuff I watched was: the first three episodes of Vikings: Valhalla, the fourth season of Star Trek Discovery, The Book of Boba Fett, the movie Reno 911: The Search for QAnon, and the Japanese series Kotaro Lives Alone, which I watched on a whim. I’m currently watching Moon Knight, and since it only lasts six episodes, I’ll wait until the finale to fully discuss that one (but I really, really liked the first episode, and I’m looking forward to the rest, mostly on the acting strength of Oscar Isaac.)

Here are some of the series/movies I enjoyed in the past two months,

The Power of the Dog

This was an emotionally devastating film. I have generally paid little attention to the films of Jane Campion outside of The Piano, which is one of my favorite films of the 90s. I both love and hate this film. I don’t normally like watching films where people get bullied, so I was reluctant to watch it, but I kept hearing about how good it was, and it was available on Netflix. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but I have to give major commendations to Kody Smit-McPhee, who was excellent in the vampire remake Let Me In, as once again, a child being bullied. There’s something about his delicate features and quiet demeanor that seems to call for him to play these roles.

One of my moderately favorite actors, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a character (Phil) that’s sort of against type, as a manly-masculine cowboy, who is insecure enough that he needs to constantly prove it by denigrating and mocking Kody’s character, (Peter), who is the son of his sister-in-law, Rose, played by Kirsten Dunst. Phil has contempt for everyone, including Rose and his brother George, but only because he’s trying to cover up a long-held secret. He drives Rose to drink, and Peter, who is very protective of his mother and has a special relationship with her, makes it his responsibility to alleviate her misery. That’s as much of the plot as I’m willing to tell, because I didn’t see what happened coming, and I should have because while it’s not exactly a twist, I did get sidetracked by all the other things in the plot, and wasn’t paying close enough attention.

Jane Campion is one of the few directors that can make you sympathize with all of the characters in her movies, no matter how reprehensibly they behave. She makes all of the character’s motivations understandable and believable and that’s what is so devastating about it. I wasn’t expecting to care so much about Phil, and I wasn’t expecting to hate Peter. I was totally caught up, which is what the best movies do so that when the ending comes, you need to readjust to reality. Campion’s Oscar is well deserved.

Old Henry

This is another movie set in the old West and covers one of my favorite themes in Westerns. The old grizzled gunslinger, filled with regret, trying to leave the lifestyle that comes back to haunt him. Tim Blake Nelson, who played Looking Glass in the Watchmen television series, stars as Henry, a farmer with a mysterious past, who must protect his son and home from a group of vigilantes hunting an outlaw he rescued, named Curry. The movie wasn’t as emotionally entangling as The Power of the Dog, but it was still very good, with the usual tropes covered pretty well, and a typically melancholy ending.

I remember being frustrated at Henry’s son, Wyatt, constantly belittling the father who was trying to protect him from becoming entangled in a life he’s been avoiding for a while. Wyatt has no gunmanship skills, but still thinks that’s an exciting road to head down, while his father doesn’t make a lot of effort to dissuade him from that kind of thinking because he’s afraid/ashamed of his secret past. So no one in the cast is looking too great as far as their character.

Stephen Dorff also stars in this movie, and I am definitely not a fan of his, but his acting here is alright. I think the reason I didn’t get as emotionally caught up in this movie is that this is an unknown director who is simply mediocre. They’re not bad but the movie lacks the layers it would have possessed if the directing had been better. It’s not a bad film, (it’s actually pretty good), but the plot, direction, and acting are very straightforward and therefore unremarkable. It’s a good solid Western with some competent gunfighting scenes. I don’t normally like to number films but if I had to I’d give it an 8/10.

Old Enough

OMG! This is quite possibly one of the funniest, most nerve-wracking television series to ever exist. It really had me clutching my pearls and talking to my TV screen, although I suspect that’s because I’m American. The premise of the show is a Japanese children’s ritual where kids as young as 2 are sent out on their first errand alone. They are given one, two, or sometimes multiple tasks to perform, like going to the store to pick up some curry, going to a neighbor’s house to drop off a hat, or going home from the rice fields, to make some orange juice and bring it back to their parents.

See, I live in the US, but I can get the sending kids on an errand thing alone because my Mom did this with me and my younger brother. Only we started at about 7 and 8 years old after she was certain we understood about paying attention, crossing streets, not talking to strangers, and getting back to the house in a timely manner. This was something we did only after putting in many, many, hours of successfully walking to school, several blocks away. Truthfully, the distances the kids have to walk aren’t really that far, although they seemed pretty far to me. It’s just the age of the kids that’s giving me palpitations.

To be fair, the kids are not entirely alone. There are multiple cameramen nearby, and there are adults in and around the event as passersby who are there to keep a close eye on the babies, help them reach for something in the store, or help them cross the street. This is kind of what my mom did too. She had several lady friends in the neighborhood who would watch our progress and report back to her. We were given instructions (sometimes written), and a specific amount of money, although unlike these little kids we were given a time limit. One little girl took until dark to get home because she misunderstood her instructions. My brother and I, our primary tasks were to stay focused, follow the instructions on the list and do that in a timely manner. Seriously y’all, watching this show brought back all kinds of memories, although my brother and I pretty much still behave like this today!

In the first episode, a two-year-old boy is given money and the task of going to the store to get some flowers for grandma’s shrine and a package of curry for dinner. I’m telling ya’, watching this little baby navigate the streets of his suburban neighborhood was some of the most tension-filled, nerve-wracking viewing I’ve had in the past few months! Even after I understood he was never in any real danger and adults would’ve been there for him if he asked for help or ran into trouble. And this was even with my understanding that Japan’s streets are safe enough to do things like this and this is a daily ritual in that culture. He actually successfully completed the task with only a minor hitch. (He almost forgot the curry.)

The absolutely funniest one is the little 4-6-year-old boy who is told to go back to the house from his family’s rice fields to make some refreshing orange juice and bring it back to the workers. He took two hours to make orange juice because he spent at least an hour trying to catch the family dog with a fishing net, playing with his trucks, and eating a leftover seaweed roll he found in the fridge. Oh, he definitely made the orange juice, and he made it correctly, but the boy was totally lacking in focus. His momma had to call the house multiple times to check if he was gonna come back.

An interesting story: My mom made me stop our car in traffic once, so she could save a little baby that she saw wandering too near the street. We were on a main thoroughfare, with cars zipping past at 40+ miles per hour and I was sort of farting along at 35 when my mom yelled at me to stop the car. She’d spotted this baby, he was walking but couldn’t have been more than two, and in a diaper, standing very close to the little devil’s strip of grass next to the sidewalk. I think he just got away from his mom and wandered out of the fenced-in yard. I stopped the car, and my mom, at 70 years old, sprang out of the vehicle, grabbed up this kid, and carried him to his front door where the father was looking for him.

My mom absolutely loved kids and I don’t know how many kid’s lives she saved in her life, and that includes my own life at least twice. She would have absolutely loved this series though, and probably would have been screaming at her TV too.

Turning Red

I genuinely really enjoyed this movie which is streaming on the Disney app right now. I’d heard good things about it, liked the trailer, and decided to try it out, although I have not been watching most of the kid’s movies released there.

You might or might not have heard of the little brouhaha surrounding a white male critic on the CinemaBlend website, panning the movie because he couldn’t relate, and thought that because it was about a little Asian-Canadian tween girl, it was not a universal story. I’ve said before that I give white male critics short shrift when it comes to reviewing movies that they are not in the center of. Many of them make the classic mistake of giving bad reviews to movies simply because they were not to their tastes or weren’t about subjects that were of interest to them.

It’s okay to not like something but to determine a movie was bad simply because it wasn’t made with your tastes in mind, or didn’t suit you personally is, I feel, a hole you want to avoid falling into. There are layers of misogyny and racism to his critique that I’ve talked about in other posts. I’m not even mad at the guy because all he did was say the quiet part out loud, as I long suspected this kind of behavior. Youtube is full of such men whining about how some movie wasn’t made for them, so therefore the movie sucks.

No, my question is why did he watch it in the first place? I mean, it’s Disney, the trailers are pretty obvious that the movie is aimed at teenage girls who love boy bands. What was he expecting it to be like? Was he expecting car chases, explosions, and titties? The review of course has since been removed and the creators and actresses had to come out in support of the film. I will probably talk about this more later because there are many layers to unwrap here.

Anyway, I loved the movie, but then I’m a woman who has gone through puberty. I don’t think the movie resonated in a certain way with me because I didn’t really see myself in any of the little girls, as my life was pretty different from theirs, but it’s a perfectly funny and enjoyable film. I enjoyed the relationship between Mei and her Mom because I understood what Mei was going through and why her mom acted the way she did, and we got some giant Panda Kaiju, which I totally was not expecting at all. I laughed a lot and even cried a little bit. Also, red pandas are some of the cutest bear-like creatures on the planet! I had to pause the movie at the boy band concert because I was just laughing too damn hard. I totally remember my girlfriends acting like this over New Edition. I mean I didn’t because I was not interested but I always got a kick out of watching them act like total fools.

I loved the relationships between the little girls and how lovely and supportive they were to Mei. There’s no unnecessary drama between them, just to have drama, and their friendship was really sweet. My favorite character was Priya, because she always looked like she was so over whatever was happening, and because Abby was just waaay too much for me. Although truthfully, Abby would have been the kind of girl who would have adopted me as her friend entirely against my will. (Having the most popular girl in class latch on to me and become my bestie, whether I wanted it or not, was actually a thing that happened to me pretty often!)

But my ultimate appraisal is for The Aunties! I loved the Aunties. The movie did resonate with me in that one way at least. I too grew up with a whole pack of Aunties, whose homes I lived in as much as my own, and whose personalities were as wild, and wildly divergent, as the women here. And I am now officially an auntie too! Seeing them was especially bittersweet, because due to age, I’ve lost at least half my aunties along with my Mom, and I felt some kind of way about seeing them reflected in this movie. So although I didn’t particularly resonate with Mei as a character, I was still able to emotionally connect to this movie in other ways.

Kotaro Lives Alone

This is another children’s series that is tangentially related to the other Netflix series I talked about, Old Enough. I watched this completely on a whim as part of my ongoing task of watching more anime. It wasn’t really recommended to me by the Netflix algorithm, but I decided to check it out because I thought Kotaro was really cute, and I was deeply curious about why, at the ripe old age of about four or five years old, he was renting an apartment all alone. I have not actually encountered the episode that talks about why he is alone, but there are some small flashbacks that hint that his parents may have simply neglected him.

A lot of the plot of the show is rooted in the Japanese cultural ideas of community aid and support just like the show Old Enough, in which small children are pushed to be very independent, but at the same time, they are looked after and carefully watched by all the other adults in their vicinity. As I said, Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world, but that doesn’t mean Japanese parents don’t worry about their kids, and I was puzzled as to where Kotaro’s parents were, if they knew what he was doing, and if they are they looking for him.

Anyway, Kotaro shows up at an apartment complex all alone, but soon develops relationships with at least three of his neighbors. His next-door neighbor, a disaffected young man who won some cartoonists awards but is now experiencing writer’s block, a young lady who works as a bar hostess who Kotaro develops a little boy crush on, and the downstairs number who has decided to adopt Kotaro as his own because he reminds him of the son he can no longer interact with. It’s a surprisingly sweet show. I was expecting it to be a little darker, but it has a great deal of wholesomeness that I found refreshing.

Kotaro, like a lot of imaginative young boys, thinks he’s on a grand adventure. He actually is pretty lonely but wants to seem grown up and independent, so is reluctant to sometimes ask for help. I’m not sure where his money comes from but he buys a tiny sword that he is constantly challenging his neighbor to duels with because the young man insists on accompanying him on his errands and outings (for safety reasons, he says). Kotaro insists he doesn’t want to be treated like a baby but after a while, he accepts the care and attention of his neighbors and develops a crush on his lady neighbor, the hostess, visiting her at her job for a date, after he spends the night in her apartment because he got scared.

I haven’t finished the series, so I don’t yet know how it ends, but if after the episode where I watched his neighbors all show up on his first day of kindergarten, for father/son day, and he doesn’t end up formally adopted by them, I’m gonna feel some kinda way about that.

Our Flag IMeans Death

This show was produced and starred in by none other than Taika Waittit, a director whom I have grown to love since he helped to create one of the best vampire movies of the past decade, What We Do in the Shadows, and one of the finest and funniest MCU films, Thor Ragnarok! I trust Taika to deliver the funny without passive-aggressive meanness, and/or the ritual humiliation of his characters.

I’m a big pirate movie fan, (no, I have not yet watched Black Sails), but I do know most of the tropes, and here Taika parodies and neatly turns over most of them, in this ridiculous comedy series about a well to do man, forced to marry a woman he didn’t love, who dreams about becoming a pirate. So he buys a ship and sets sail with a delightfully silly crew (who keep unexpectedly making various well thought out points about life and love) and his major domo, who is semi-openly gay. They are all very bad at pirating, and Stede becomes the laughingstock of his social class.

Even though some of his men are bloodthirsty enough to be good pirates, Stede, their Captain isn’t. He is a polite, high society man who meets his idol in Blackbeard, played by Taika. The two of them become close friends and Blackbeard, aka Edward, teaches Stede how to be a pirate, but finds his own temperament being influenced by Stede’s gentility. (And yes, they eventually fall in love!)

One of my favorite characters is Spanish Jackie, played by comedian Leslie Jones, whose name is not Jackie, nor is she Spanish, and who has 20…no 18 husbands because she was betrayed by one of Stede’s crew, a character who was raised by nuns to be an assassin. One of my favorite scenes was the Pirate Flag creation scene where the crew is tasked to create the best flag, but Stede can’t pick one and just chooses all of them, so now there are multiple flags flying on the mast. That’s a scene that is never shown but you deduce it because of a later shot. Blackbeard himself is played by Taika, and he gives a warm and sensitive performance of a man who likes pretty things, is dissatisfied with his reputation as a menacing killer, and longs to experience a finer life outside of simply being a pirate. (Plus Taika looks fine as hell in black leather!)

There is a little blood and gore, a little bit of killing, and lots of adventures involving revenge narratives and fake identities but the show is actually pretty wholesome, and most if not all the characters are really likable. Taika often uses comedy to make pointed statements about the relationships between men as he did in Thor, in What We Do…, and here he uses the characters to comment on male friendship, loneliness, love, and loyalty.

Yet to be watched:

Raising Dion Season 2

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Batman

It’s Gonna Be May (and April, June, and July…)

Upcoming Trailers This Spring

Hey guys, a bunch of new trailers dropped this week. here are a few of the ones I watched, listed from most to least exciting, although I found all of these interesting.

Strange New Worlds

I did put this one at the top, because yeah, it’s the one I’m most excited about. Anson Mount is sooo handsome! I really like Rebecca Romjin as his female First Officer, and the guy who plays Spock is also pretty good. The only drawback I see is that if you’ve watched the original series, you know what eventually happens to Captain Pike, and that kind of puts a damper on things. But you know what, maybe if this is an alternate world version of the old Trek, the writers could change that.

Bullet Train

This is one of those movies that has a cast I’m excited about, (especially my personal favorite, Hiroyuki Sanada), a premise that sounds loopy, and weird characters, all of which are right up my alley. I’m always up for watching anything with a bunch of assassins duking it out over some type of McGuffin because that seems so John Wick-ish.

Fantastic Beasts: Secrets Of Dumbledore

I know people are off JKR now, (I was never fully on, I don’t think), but I really did enjoy the first Fantastic Beasts movie, although I mostly skipped the second. I like this universe more than the Potterverse, despite the shenanigans of its creator, and that’s mostly on the strength of the characters, and actors. Jude Law is always a treasure, and Dan Fogler as Jacob is just an all-around fun character. I won’t be seeing this in the theater. I’ll wait for it to stream somewhere.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

I am sort of looking forward to this on the strength of how good The Mandolorian was. I have mostly skipped The Book of Boba Fett because I just didn’t have the time to watch it. I suppose I’ll get around to TBOBF eventually because it looks pretty good, but I’m going to check out the first episode of this. I’m more of a Star Trek fan than a Star Wars fan, but I like Star Wars for the worldbuilding and action, which is always great. I don’t go hard for the characters in SW the way I do for the ones in ST, although most of them are likable, and there is a coolness factor.

The Witcher: Blood Origin

I think I posted this here before. I’m not much into The Witcher, although people keep recommending it to me. I do not normally watch a lot of High Fantasy, (because I’m really picky about it), but I will watch this because I’m curious and Michelle Yeoh is in it. I will watch anything she stars in. If you are trying to get me to watch things I normally wouldn’t care about, just hire Ms. Yeoh and I’ll get in on it!

LOTR: The Rings of Power

I’m only going to watch this on the strength of the movies. I’m pretty sure I posted this trailer before, but I also don’t want yall to forget that it’s airing soon. oh, and I will always be intrigued by Elves played by PoC.

DC: League of Superpets

This looks absolutely hilarious so I’m going to ask my niece and nephew if they would like to see this in the theater. You can always capture my attention by starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Keanu Reeves.

Atlanta

Atlanta has t be one of the weirdest series on TV, and I’m really glad to see it come back for a third season. This time it seems the bunch is having strange times overseas. LaKeith Stanfield is one of my all-time favorite actors, and his character, Darius, is one of the funniest characters on television. Yes, that is Bryan Tyree Henry (Why dis man got three first names?) who played Phastos in The Eternals.

You Won’t Be Alone

Well, this looks frightening. I see a lot of blood, some screaming, and some mysterious activities in the countryside.

I’m in.

The Innocents

This is from the creators of Thelma, which I really enjoyed (it’s currently streaming on Hulu). Once again we’ve got kids, superpowers and forbidden friendships, and probably invisible entities, too. It looks really intriguing, so I hope it comes to a streaming service.

Huxley

Apparently, this is some kind of animated film. I wasn’t sure at first, but it looks interesting. Not interesting enough to make me pay a lof of money to see it, but its one of those movies that I’ll watch on some streaming service if I remember that it exists.

The Bubble

This actually looks pretty funny. I always like parody films of certain industries, especially Hollywood film making.

Restart the Earth

I don’t normally watch a lot of Horror movies out of Korea that don’t involve zombies. This looks mildly interesting because it reminds me of Day of the Triffids, for those of you old enough to remember that movie, but like I said, there are no zombies involved, I’m not that excited about it. If I remember it exists in a couple of months, I may check it out on some streaming service.

See, What Had Happened Was…

I’m still in an emotionally fragile state so while there is still a lot of stuff I want to watch there are some things that, once they start to get too heavy, I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth to finish. I can handle light entertainment, so I’m watching a lot of nature documentaries, and stand-up comedians. I am aware that some of you might look at this particular list and go, “That’s what she calls lite-entertainment?” Well, yeah, I mean the plots and characters are straightforward, and easily understood, there’s not a lot to analyze because the themes are evident, and the characters don’t require any deep emotional commitment. The most complex movie I watched was The Power of the Dog, (not on this list) which I found to be emotionally devastating because I did get very invested in the characters, and that was enough for me. One of the fluffiest movies on this list is, surprisingly, Fist of Vengeance which I, of course, didn’t like very much, because I expected a much deeper and darker movie, based on its title.

From

This is a new series that I stumbled across while flipping through my apps on the firestick. I paused because I saw Harold Perrineau’s face, and thought to myself, “How you doin’?” It turns out he’s doing okay, although I don’t think this series is going to get a lot of traction, probably because it’s from the producers of Lost and airs on Epix, a channel hardly anyone watches! Nevertheless, I’ve gotten invested in the series because it’s also by the Russo Brothers, the writers, and directors of one of my favorite MCU films: Captain America The Winter Soldier.

A typical middle-class family (a mom, dad, and two kids) find themselves stranded in a town that seems to be a terrifying alternate Earth. What’s frightening about it is not just that they can’t leave this town, but every night everyone has to hunker down in silence, and lock their doors with special talismans, or be torn apart and eaten by creatures that look like vampires (they have a lot of teeth) but act like fast zombies when they’re not casually strolling around and smiling.

The scares are pretty effective, and somewhat typical (there were a couple of jumpscares I didn’t care for), but also atypical in that the monsters featured just look and sound like ordinary people, at first. What I found frightening was that their reasonable demeanor is just a deception, a mask. These are things that, I suspect, were never human and have found that acting and looking a certain way attracts prey.

Anyway, the family gets stranded after they crash their mobile home, after witnessing weird behavior in a flock of birds, and driving around in circles in the forest. The son is seriously injured and can’t be moved, the family knows nothing about the situation they’re in, and night is falling. Harold Perrineau plays the town Sheriff, and he makes the decision, along with their only medical specialist, to stay behind to care for the child. That a black guy is the leader of the town heavily reminds me of the series Midnight Mass, on Netflix, where the only PoC (a Muslim man) is the town sheriff, and there are vampires. But so far, that’s the only resemblance between the two shows.

This entire scene is very suspenseful as the townsfolk try to get the family to safety indoors as night falls. The monsters seem like Michael Myers from Halloween and walk like they got all night. I have no idea where they are during the hours of daylight, but the clean clothing and civilized demeanor is just an illusion. When people are indoors they just walk right up to the windows and politely ask to be let inside. Like vampires, they have to be invited, and there are these fist-sized talismans that everyone hangs on or near the front doors of their homes that prevent them from entering.

The town has crafted an entire lifestyle around their predicament and they have become comfortable enough in it to find time to bicker among themselves. For example, one of the rules is that if you have children, you have to nail the windows shut in your home, because small children can be easily deceived into letting the creatures into the house, something we see in the first few minutes of the show. The father of that family was out drunk, so was incapable of following the rules, and there was an hour long dilemma about whether or not to punish him for that.

The mystery of this town, where it is, why these people are trapped, what are these creatures attacking them, are all very compelling questions that are well presented and genuinely frightening. One ofthe first clues that thangs just ain’t right is the Sheriff ringing the evening bell for the townsfolk to get indoors, and all of the broken and abandoned vehicles just rusting around. While there is a lot of mystery involved, I’m going to abide by one of the general rules of television writing and guess that the monsters are not the primary point of this series since we get to see them in the first ten minutes. The series opens by throwing the viewer right into the deep end with the death of a little girl and her mother, and is basically telling you “F*** your sensibilities! Yeah, some kids are gonna die!”

If you somehow manage to find your way to this series, be warned. It is intense.

Fistful of Vengeance

You should be warned that this movie is not especially intense but it makes up for that by being less than compelling. I was excited to see this because the trailer led me to believe this was going to be a much more serious movie than it actually is. It is kind of serious, but several characters act like they’re in a dramatic comedy, the characters do deeply stupid things like running off alone, blatantly telling people they have superpowers, and frankly are not too bright, and kind of bumbling, and I found this deeply annoying, or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for their shenanigans, I’m not sure. I was so annoyed by the characters that I didn’t bother to pay close attention to the plot which seems to involve some martial arts demons trying to take over the Earth, or free another demon…yeah, I don’t know.

The situation was not relieved with good fight sequences either. I thought the fights were kind of lackluster, and since the characters kept joking and quipping, I didn’t take any of the fights seriously, after all, they weren’t taking them seriously, and they were in them. I get that this movie was probably a lowkey comedy except from time to time some of the characters would look at one another in a really intense manner and make threats or the music didn’t keep up and got really dramatic when characters were doing nothing more than running around.

At any rate, the movie is wildly uneven, although I’m leaning more in the direction that it was meant to be a comedy with dramatic moments, except the writers didn’t know where to place any of those moments and dropped them randomly into the story. I was disappointed that I was disappointed because two of my favorite martial artists are in this, Iko Uwais and Lewis Tan, and they actually get along well together, but everyone else in the cast, (okay, mostly Juju Chan), has a sunny demeanor that is completely at odds with the plot. However, Pearl Thusi was a pleasant surprise. I remember her from The No.1 Ladie’s Detective Agency. She plays a superagent badass which was actually fun to watch but is still not a good fit for what I thought this was going to be.

I always like to stress that sometimes movies are not exactly bad, they just didn’t work for me. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood that day. I could watch this again in a month, and feel completely different. Who knows?

All of Us Are Dead

The Koreans have been knocking these zombie movies and series out of the park lately, or maybe they just happened to luck into the general zeitgeist in the US. A lot of the time the success of some series is entirely due to timing. It just happened to show up at the right moment to resonate with certain audiences. There has been a succession of great zombie movies coming out of Korea for the past five to seven years, and I am here for them. They definitely have some interesting takes on social dynamics during an apocalypse that, so far, I haven’t gotten tired of seeing. From analyzing class dynamics in movies like Train to Busan, to lampooning workplace dynamics and filmmaking in One Cut of the Dead, to discussions of bullying and high school dynamics here, the Koreans have taken the zombie narrative and used it to comment on just about every aspect of their society.

I was prepared to dismiss this series because I didn’t think anything more could be said about zombies, and it featured high schoolers. I’m really not into the high school aesthetic, and I normally do not like to watch shows that heavily feature bullying, but that’s one of the major themes of this series. It is the bullying of one boy in particular that sets the entire plot in motion.

The outcome is that his father, fed up with his son coming home bruised all the time, tries to give him a leg up by injecting him with a serum he thinks will give the boy a physical advantage, and this sets the zombie apocalypse in motion. These are pretty similar to the types of zombies seen in Train to Busan and Kingdom, but with the additional trait that occasionally a person doesn’t lose their intellect after they’re infected, and so retain the ability to think rationally.

As is typical, the infection spreads quickly, you have a collection of students, teachers, and parents, all confined to a small district. Some reach bad ends and there is a villain who can be one of the infected. Normally, I will not watch movies about high school bullying because they seriously bother me, (there is also the heavily implied idea that one of the lead female characters was gang-raped), but I was able to get past it because the setup is so interesting. I actually did get a little invested in the characters, (although I find it impossible to pronounce any of their names.) Of course, the ending implies there will be a sequel, and based on what happens to the lead character, I suspect it won’t look a lot like this first season at all.

The bottom line is if you liked the mystery and intrigue of Squid Game, this series has an interesting mixture of horror,and drama, that you might like, but fair warning, like a lot of zombie series, it is very graphic.

Peacemaker

I mentioned in a previous post that The Suicide Squad was one of my top ten movies of last year and that I was kind of looking forward to this offshoot series about one of the characters, Peacemaker. Now the character in the movie isn’t very likable, but the movie and the series are both overseen and written by James Gunn, (the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, and he wrote Slither and the remake of Dawn of the Dead) and who has shown a special talent at crafting stories with a good balance of pathos and ridiculousness, something that’s on full display here.

This series seemed at first to be the fluffiest show on this list, but it turned out to be surprisingly deep with a couple of really intense themes that I wasn’t expecting when I sat down to watch. Peacemaker whose name is Chris has, of course, some dark secrets in his past, an abusive father, and a pet eagle named Eagley. Gunn manages not to fall into the trap of trying to redeem this problematic and unlikable character. What we’re witnessing in this first season is not a man trying to atone for his misdeeds, but slowly coming to realize what an awful person he is, and how much better he could be, that his relationship with his father is deeply unhealthy, and that he’s done some pretty horrible things in the past. This had the effect of getting me to actually like and care about a character I mostly hated in the movie.

The stand-out character for me was Adebayo, played by Danielle Brooks. Gunn did a great job in somehow not managing to turn her into a magical negro character that exists to make Chris a better person. Don’t get me wrong, this is Chris’ story and all the characters are there in support of it, but Gunn manages to avoid stereotyping her by giving her a family life (she has a wife and yes, the two get along well and survive to the end of the series), giving her her own agenda and a backstory with an infamous mom in the DCEU. She gets asked to do things that are against her conscience because she also has an overbearing parent, but it is her response that makes her a much healthier parallel to Chris’ situation.

Another character I really liked was Harcourt, who has an interesting arc. She was a supporting player in The Suicide Squad, who got tapped to be Chris’ Handler on his missions. At first, she is pretty resentful. She hates her job, hates the team, but most of all she hates Chris, not least because he insists on hitting on her, but as the plot movies forward we can see her start to relax around them, to care about them, and eventually think of them as her friends. No, she doesn’t do anything as cliched as changing her mind about Chris or sleeping with him. The most interesting relationship is between her and Adebayo, the two most prominent women in the show, and although it starts out contentious, a friendship and respect blooms between them that feels very natural, and I liked that.

The overall plot is about body-snatching aliens trying to take over the Earth, while Chris’ team are sent in to infiltrate and destroy them, but things become a lot more complicated when Chris’ abusive father, played by Robert Patrick as the head of the local Klan, gets involved, and the lady cop who is hellbent on arresting Chris for some past misdeeds gets possessed by the aliens. Along the way, we meet other self-made vigilantes who are as amoral as Chris once was, and are held up as a mirror for Chris of how not to be a human being.

This show was almost as much fun as the movie it came from. Admittedly, I didn’t think it would come to very much, but I have since learned that when James Gunn is involved you most definitely will be entertained. If you liked The Suicide Squad this series is every bit as loud and ridiculous. The characters are all insanely silly but still manage to have moments of humanity. James Gunn isn’t trying to get you to like bad and unlikeable people. He’s trying to get you to root for them to be better people.

Antlers

Here we are with yet another Horror movie about the Wendigo. I feel like this one is better than a few that I’ve seen but still isn’t as good as Ravenous, which is a Wendigo movie that’s hard to beat. Now for those not already in the know, a Wendigo is a creature from Native American folklore (specifically from the Northeast/Canadian forest, and Great Lakes regions, like the Algonquin). Its an evil spirit that possesses human beings and is associated with greed, hunger, and cannibalism. Where Ravenous was a kind of Horror, Drama, Comedy, this film is much darker and more melancholy.

The film stars Kerri Russell, whom I hadn’t seen in a while, as a schoolteacher who has moved back home to live with her brother, after the death of their alcoholic abusive father. She encounters a little boy named Lucas who collects roadkill and sometimes kills small animals to take home with him. She finds this alarming enough to believe that he is being abused by his father and sets out to rescue him. This results in more than a few deaths by the end of the film. She doesnt know that Lucas’ father was attacked and possessed by a Wendigo, and then went on to infect Lucas’ little brother and that Lucas has them locked in a room in their home.

The mood is very dark, the colors are washed out and everyone’s mannerisms are subdued. This is not even trying to be a lighthearted film, although it does contain tiny sparks of hope here and there. It also has a suitably dark ending but I found this depiction of the Wendigo refreshing. This movie along with Ravenous and Raw, would make a great trilogy on Halloween night.

That Moon Knight Trailer

Okay, despite my love for this character, I wasn’t expecting this trailer to drop so soon after I talked about my most anticipated TV series for this year. It looks really good, and relatively faithful, to the original source. My one downvote is that I don’t like all the facial covering, even though that is accurate to the suit. I like Oscar Isaac, and I like seeing his face. I mean, I get why he’s covered up, (stuntwork), but still!

Moon Knight

My history with this character really doesn’t go back that far, although I’ve known about the character since the 80s, when I started reading Horror comics, like Werewolf By Night. Since then, I encountered the character in other characters’ stories, but didn’t read any solo books about him until the Charlie Huston and Brian Michael Bendis era. In the comic books, he’s been a member of various superteams like The Avengers, The Defenders, and The West Coast Avengers.

With the introduction of this character and the Blade reboot announcement, a whole new era of the supernatural and Horror is being introduced to the MCU. After all, there can be no Blade without the introduction of vampires, and there can be no Moon Knight without the introduction of ancient gods, werewolves, and even mummies!

Remember when I talked about visual shorthand in films? Notice the use of mirrors and mirror images (like puddles), here. Mirrors are used as a shorthand for when a character is leading a double life, and this character is being shown in multiple mirrors simultaneously, along with double versions of himself in just one. He isn’t having just a double life. He is living multiple lives. Later in the trailer, we see him punch a mirror. Characters that crack or break mirrors are often indicative of a “crack” in their personality.

RUMOR: 'Moon Knight' Will Premiere in March - Murphy's Multiverse

I understand that trailers can be misleading, but it appears as if they are portraying this character’s multiple personalities (he has four so far) as a form of amnesia. In the comic books, his superpowers are portrayed by different personas, but I was uncertain if it was being chosen by an ancient god that caused the psychological break, or if that was the reason he was chosen. Anyway, the character has an interesting backstory, but you don’t necessarily need to know that to watch the show.

One of the drawbacks to these films and series being made now is that so many of the fans have read these stories, so we’re not really arriving at them fresh and unknowing the way my nephew is for example, who is ten, and has never read any of the books. He knows all of these characters (and I do mean all of them, including the actor’s names) only from watching all the movies, backed up by Youtube videos!

With these new TV series we are officially entering the era of The MCU Superteams, (of which there are dozens) where individual characters will be introduced in various series, make cameos in films, and eventually end up in a team movie, sort of like Avengers Endgame. Right now, the people at Disney are setting up multiple teams: a cosmic team consisting of Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, and possibly The Eternals, and The Black Knight; a regular terrestrial team which, in the comic books, consisted of Luke Cage, Daredevil, Spiderman, and Iron Fist; a politically oriented team called The Thunderbolts; a supernatural team with Blade, Moon Knight, Ghost Rider(which has been announced) Scarlett Witch, and Doctor Strange, and last but not least, there is The Young Avengers, with Kate Bishop (from the Hawkeye series), America Chavez (from the upcoming Ms. Marvel series), Wiccan and Speed (from Wandavision), and Patriot (who was introduced in Falcon and the Winter Soldier). And these are just some of the characters who have already been introduced/announced in the MCU. We haven’t even gotten to The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Miles Morales, The Inhumans, or the various International Teamups! The Marvel Universe is very very big!

These are not hard and fast rules. We’ll have to wait and see how some of these teams shake out.

Best superhero teams: Avengers vs X-Men vs F4 - netivist

As with other MCU characters, you are not obligated to watch anything you don’t want to, and your experience of the movies probably will not be upheaved by NOT watching any of the TV series. Unlike a lot of other people out there bitching and whining about the making of superhero films they don’t plan to see, I am a fan, and I’m not tired of these films yet, especially since only just now are we getting to see women and heroic people of color in these stories. (No! Black Panther was not enough! I will not rest until I see every marginalized group covered.)

This is what is selling right now, but contrary to the bitching and whining, Hollywood has not stopped making other kinds of movies. Plenty of other movies are getting made, and as usual, some are schlock, some are mediocre, and some are real gems. People seem to forget this over time. That this is how the film industry has always been. In any ten year period, this is the kind of movie fallout that happens, and we only ever really remember the gems of that period. At any rate, I have never understood complaining about movies you ain’t gonna watch, and then when perfectly acceptable non-superhero, or non-sequel type movies get released, nobody goes to see those, which causes those movies to be flops, so that Hollywood doesn’t want to risk making them.

This is what people are excited to see since these movies are aimed at the generation of nerds (both men and women) who grew up reading comic books, and playing their videogames, and if you think this is annoying, wait until we reach the era of live action Manga in about ten to twenty more years, when Gen Z starts making all that disposable income.

Most Anticipated Movies and Shows of 2022

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

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

The Movies

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

The Batman

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

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

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

The Northman

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

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

Thor: Love and Thunder

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

Jurassic World: Dominion

First Look at DeWanda Wise in Jurassic World Dominion

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

The Flash

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

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

Spiderman: Across the Mulitverse

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

Black Adam

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

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

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

Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever

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

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

Everything Everywhere All At Once

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

Nope

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

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

Halloween Ends

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

Salem’s Lot

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

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

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

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

Hellraiser

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

John Wick 4

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

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

Mission Impossible 7

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

Blade Killer (Wesley Snipes)

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

The TV

watching tv gifs | WiffleGif

Stranger Things 4

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

Umbrella Academy 3

Where To Watch 'Umbrella Academy' Season 3

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

The Gilded Age

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

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

Naomi

Naomi (Character) - Comic Vine

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

Obi Wan Kenobi

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

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

Ms. Marvel

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

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

Peacemaker

Peacemaker (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

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

Moon Knight

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

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

The Sandman

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

She Hulk

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

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

Strange New Worlds

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

The Witcher: Blood Origin

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

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

Top Favorite Films of 2021

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

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

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

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

Spiderman: No Way Home

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

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

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

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

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

Dune

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

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

The Suicide Squad

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

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

The Harder They Fall

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

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

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

Army of the Dead

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

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

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

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

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

The Eternals

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

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

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

Rurouni Kenshin: The Finale/The Beginning

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

The Green Knight

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

Candyman

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

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

Last Night in Soho

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

Haloween Kills

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

A GAME EFFORT:

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

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

Shang Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings

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

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

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

Matrix Resurrections

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

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

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

And Let’s Not Forget:

Black Widow

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

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

Antlers

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

Lamb

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

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

I’m Looking Forward To…

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

Matrix 4: Resurrections

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

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

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

Spiderman: No Way Home

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

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

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

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse 2

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

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

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

Peacemaker

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

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

The Book of Boba Fett

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

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

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

Monsters!! Whoooo!!!

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

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

The Batman

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

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

Jurassic World: Dominion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halloween Music

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

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

Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett

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

This Is Halloween – The Nightmare Before Xmas – Danny Elfman

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

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

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

The Exorcist – Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield

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

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

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

Halloween – Main Title Theme – John Carpenter

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

Danse Macabre – Camille Saint-Saens

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

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

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

No One Believes Me – Kid Cudi – Fright Night 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell

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

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

Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon

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

I Got Five On It – Luniz

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

Honorable Mentions:

Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

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

Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper

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

Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus

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

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

Halloween Horror Reviews

Here’s some stuff I watched this month in the spirit of Halloween. I know this first entry isnt really considered a Horror series, but it should be. It certainly contains a reasonable number of horrific acts, along with plenty of gore, and just because it has an over-arching social theme, it shouldn’t be ruled out of your holiday viewing. All the rest of these though…are pure Halloween carnage.

Squid Game

I am one of five people who has not watched beyond the first episode of Squid Game, not because I think its bad, but because I’m at a point right now where I’m not particularly interested in that type of television. I simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth for it right now. However, I did discuss the series with, of all people, my little sister, who from this point forward we will refer to as “The Millennial”! This is the mother of The Potato, and I don’t talk about her here a lot because even though we don’t live very far away from each other, we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like. We lead very different lives, but apparently she still has more than enough nerd in her character to watch the series.

She loves it. In fact, she raved about it to me, the family geek, who hasn’t been watching it!

As for that first episode, I realized I didn’t have the bandwidth for it when I started getting frustrated and angry with the lead character’s lack of moral character. Its not that he is a bad man. He is simply a man of very weak moral character, who loves people, and means well, but keeps getting broadsided by his own worst character traits. Its frustrating watching him make the same mistakes over and over again. He simply doesn’t learn, but I suspect the series is about his growth as a person, so we have to start him off at his lowest point.

The basic gist of the show is that a bunch of people desperate for a million dollar cash bonus willingly subject themselves to a series of fatal games on a secluded island. The highlight game, and the one which sets the standard for all the following games is in the first episode, and called Red Light, Green Light, in which a giant doll is the Master. If she catches anyone moving after she says Red Light, the offender is executed via headshot. I was pretty good at this game when I was a kid, so I think I could probably master this one, but my sister says the other games are much more difficult, and that the players also have to deal with internal drama, and various alliances.

I have no intention of finishing the series, but if you liked stuff like The Hunger Games and The Scorch Trials or whatever, you probably should give this one a try. Yes, its in Korean, and there are subtitles, but that doesn’t matter for a good show. Just be aware that wanting to slap the lead character very, very, hard is not an option for the viewer.

V/H/S 94:

VHS 94 is one of a series of found footage Horror anthology movies that I’ve enjoyed in the past. This one gets mixed feelings from me. Some of the stories I liked, but a couple of others were not particularly satisfying.

Unlike some people I’m not especially tired of the found footage trend. I like it okay. Some of it is good and some not so much, but one of the reasons I don’t bitch and whine against trends in movies is because I don’t watch everything in a given genre, and some things ain’t got nothing to do with me. I don not and never will understand people who loudly hate on a particular method or genre of film, and always call for the elimination of them, especially when its failry harmless. Yeah I’m tired of movies about Black pain and trauma, and wish they would make other things but I’m not calling for the elimination of movies like 12 Years A Slave. We need those Black pain movies. They’re cathartic, and someone is watching them. I just wish that movies rooted in such trauma weren’t the only ones getting made, is all. its okay to make (and watch) movies that are fun, and funny. We need those too.

Anyway, this movie consists of four stories, surrounded by a framework of a SWAT team who come across a bunch of videos playing in a house, and this is loosely tied to a couple of the other stories in the film. I liked the first story which was short, to the point, gory, and monstrous, about reporter who stumbles across a group of Rat God worshiping sewer people, while chasing a story. The story makes its point, and keeps it moving. There,s bllod, gore, mutants, cults, and was kinda fun, and disgusting.

I wanted to like the second story, but the murky footage, and sometimes unintelligible dialogue made things hard to understand. I eventually got the point of it ,but it was frustrating to watch, as much of it takes place at night, in the dark, during a thunderstorm. A young woman is basically babysitting a corpse in a funeral home, when the corpse suddenly comes to life and starts chasing her around the room. I initially thought this was a zombie story, but it turns out to be something a little bit different. Its not bad, but some of it is unclear, which is not a good thing for such a short story.

The third story was my least favorite, because it mostly involved people being chased through rooms by robot/human hybrids created by a mad scientist. I’m not a fan of mad scientist stories in general because I find them frustrating. Mom and I are always having medical issues that require we be poked and prodded by various doctors, so movies about medical experimentation are not fun to watch.

The Fourth story is a little more interesting because…vampire! A bumbling group of American militia members have captured a vampire and intend to use its blood (which has explosive properties) to commit various acts of terror. Since the vampire didn’t actually consent to any of this things become a helluva lot more difficult for them when it gets loose and starts hunting each of them down. I was prepared not to like this one, but the militia men are so stupid, and so deserving of what’s coming to them, that the gory body horror elements were kind of fun.

The surrounding story was kind of disappointing because I expected a little bit more than what I got, which were just human beings being monstrous to one another.

Overall, i kind of enjoy the franchise, and I’m not tired of it yet, even though I dint care very much for the last two of this five movie series. Of all of them the first and second were the best, and maybe I’ll talk about them at some later date, but if you don’t mind watching more found footage movies, check this one out on Amazon Prime.

Halloween Kills

I know there are some people who were disappointed in this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was a lot I liked about this, and a few things I found deeply frustrating, which I’ll get to in a moment. I found the movie deeply entertaining. Unlike some people, I don’t watch these types of movies for the killing. I don’t count how many people die, or marvel at the various ways in which they died, or any nonsense like that. I watch movies like this for the characters, the mood/atmosphere, and any deeper themes which may be present in the narrative, and there is a theme here.

If the last version, released in 2018, was about surviving and dealing with trauma via Laurie Strode, than this movie’s primary theme was about Regret. We start the movie exactly where we left off the last one. Sheriff Hawkins, who was stabbed by Michael Myers’ doctor, was left to bleed out in a field, and is stumbled upon by Allison’s boyfriend, with whom she had broken up, in the last film. We catch him in the middle of leaving a message to his best friend about the breakup, not knowing that the best friend he’s calling was killed by Michael just a short time ago.

Right away, we re introduced to an element of pathos that will follow us throughout the rest of the film. A sequence of just missed chances, or people trying to do the right thing and failing horribly. He finds the Sheriff’s body and from there we go into a flashback of the Sheriff as a young officer, and his first encounter with Michael, when he had the chance to let Michael die, but stopped Dr. Loomis (Michael’s first doctor) from shooting him, preferring to capture Michael alive. Hawkins expresses open regret at having allowed that to happen.

As the movie moves forward, we meet many different characters, several of whom we’ve met before, like the little girl and boy from the very first movie, whom Laurie spent trying to protect from Michael. They’re all grown up and we see them and the townsfolk, many of them are the friends, and family, and of people who were killed in the 1978 film. They are at a Halloween party celebrating Laurie’s long ago heroism, when the news reaches them that not only is Michael free, he has been killing people in Haddonville all night. The way the movie plays out, every single character we meet has a moment where they regret past decisions they made, or rethink some choices they wished they could take back, from the charming gay couple who bought Michael’s old house, to Laurie’s daughter who regrets never believing her mother’s declarations about Michael, to the mob of townsfolk who corner and attack Michael in the street.

What was disappointing for me was the character’s doing the usual stupid things people do in slasher movies. People have guns but often never get a chance to fire them, or sometimes they have the opportunity to run away from Michael, or leave the vicinity (preferring to hunt for him through dark rooms instead), but don’t. A lot of the kids in this movie simply cannot act. Of curse its frustrating for me to watch this because I know that Michael is very probably not human at all, and will always win, and that all the characters are operating as if they are dealing with a regular human being. Another frustrating thing is there’s not much of Laurie in this movie. Since she was stabbed by Michael in the previous movie, she sits most of this one out, and the slack gets taken up by the townsfolk, Laurie’s daughter, Karen, and her granddaughter, Allison, now dealing with fresh trauma of her own. This movie is a loose remake of the 1981 Halloween 2, which takes place mostly in the same hospital, as well.

Now, even though I don’t count the deaths, or prioritize the deaths of the character’s, that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to them. The deaths in this movie are spectacularly gruesome even for Halloween. There is a lot of action in this film.There is a lot of blood and gore, there’s a lot of death, some of which feels, and I know this may sound weird, considering this is a slasher film, oddly gratuitous, starting with the deaths of the friefighters who were there to douse the fire Laurie started to kill Michael. But then as I’ve mentioned before, as I’ve gotten older, and become more aware of the ways my body can become broken, (all those missed accidents and deaths start to take a toll, I think), I’ve also become a lot more squeamish. Some people love the gore, and I used to when I was a teenager, but not anymore.

My mom watched this one with me, and I don’t think she was especially impressed. She said, and I quote, “It was stupid!” Which is the description of any movie she finds displeasing, and I wasn’t able to find the time to question her on why she thought this. I’m not inclined to give her review too much deep analysis as she was half asleep during some of it, the constant flashback kept getting on her nerves, and the idiotic behavior of the characters bothered her more than it bothered me. But as I said it took me a minute to figure out that the characters in the film don’t know that Michael isnt a human being. He gets slashed, stabbed, pitchforked, and shot multiple times, and keeps getting back up, as if nothing had happened. The characters know there’s something wrong but they don’t know what and continue to believe they can easily defeat him, and of course there are several characters who are simply goofy, and they end up taking each other and themselves out, so there’s that.

That said, this movie was highly entertaining, and just deep enough. I suspect I’ll get my wish, and see more of Laurie in the third and final film, Halloween Ends. I think the last movie should be a little more like Halloween H2O, in that it should be a cat and mouse game between Michael and Laurie, because really, that’s what these movies have been about since day one. If you go back to the first movie, Laurie is asked by one of her teacher’s about the nature of evil, and the movie is pitting the innocence of this one girl (now a woman) against the personification of death.

Chucky (TV Series)

This was the first episode of the Chucky series, which I saw on YouTube for free. I don’t know how much longer this free episode will be available, but if you’re curious, than check it out. I didn’t much care for it, even though I was sort of looking forward to watching this because I enjoyed the first film of what became a massive franchise of over two hundred movies (or at least that’s what it felt like). My initial thought was who the f*** thought this would be a good idea for a TV series. It’s not a bad series, its just not to my particular tastes because it contains unlikable teenagers, awful parents, dodgy acting, and a couple of moments where I just didn’t want to deal with the emotions of what was happening onscreen. To be fair, most of the things I catch a glimpse of, or try out, are not necessarily bad (although yeah, sometimes they’re pretty bad), and this show is very pretty to look at.

There are of course the usual tropes of the supernatural avenger narrative. A much put upon teenager, who is beset by nasty and bullying authority figures, and peers, who finds solace in his Chucky doll, who comes to life and begins taking out anyone with whom he has a beef ,and I’m too tired to care very much about this type of plot, especially when most of the other characters in the series aren’t likable, and I’m also kind of tired of the idea that unlikable people must be killed. I’m in the mood for a plot where unlikable people try to solve their grievances by talking them out, I guess.

Movies I Watched In September 2021

Black Widow

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

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

yelena posing black widow - AllEars.Net

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

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

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

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

A Quiet Place 2

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

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

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

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

Blood Red Sky

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

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

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

Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes GIFs | Tenor

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

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

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

Candyman

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

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

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

Star Wars: Visions

Star Wars: Visions | English Dub Trailer | Disney+ on Make a GIF

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

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

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

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

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

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

Y: The Last Man TV Series – Episode One

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Watch Some New Trailers

So we got some new trailers this week for TV series and movies I’m especially interested in. Here, in no particular order beyond me just liking them, are the trailers for some junk!

And remember:

Rooting Issa Rae GIF

The Wheel of Time

I am not a high fantasy fan, especially. I sort of like Fantasy but I mostly avoid these types of fantasies because Eurocentric fantasies kind of bore me. Its complicated, and I’m really picky. I greatly enjoyed the LOTR movies, and I will very likely watch Amazon’s new show about it, but I have not watched things like The Witcher, and have no intention of doing so. I’m intrigued here because the trailer makes it look very woman-centered, and its a Fantasy series that remembers that women of color actually exist, and sometime we want to see ourselves doing magic and stuff, in a fantasy series.

So yeah, I do know about this particular series, although I have never read it, and have no particular desire to read it. If I like the TV show, I may check out the books, and the trailer looks interesting. Please do not write to me trying to convince me how great it is. It probably is, and I know its really popular among fantasy fans, but I kinda have an aversion to a lot of the stuff.

The Matrix 4: Resurrections Teaser Trailers/Official Trailer

So yeah, I was a bit confused because every time I saw one of these trailers, it had different images and dialogue mentioned, so I was inclined to believe the trailers were not real trailers. Apparently this was done on purpose. Earlier this week, I posted only one of the trailers here, and I took it down, because I wanted to post all of the trailers here now.

Its hard to believe that this franchise is like twenty plus years old! I remember when I saw the first trailer. I had heard of the Wachowskis, because I had seen their movie, Bound, but I didn’t think much of it. It was just something I watched. I had no idea what to expect from The Matrix (well, I knew it was SciFi and computer related) because that first trailer was awesome, but baffling. Think about any one of Christopher Nolan’s trailers, for example. I remember walking out of the theater and having to seriously readjust to reality, because watching it was sort of like having an out of body experience. I hope to repeat that experience with this movie. I am terribly excited for this movie which comes out just in time for my birthday!

No Time to Die

Yes, I’m excited for the Black female character in this movie. No she is not the new James Bond. No she’s not the only reason I’m going to watch this, but she is a big part of the reason. She simply has the designation of 007, since James left the organization, or something. 007 is a title that can be passed to any agent, but expect white fanboys to act a whole-ass fool when this movie is finally released anyway. becasue that’s the shit they do! Acting like shits on social media, every time a PoC gets a job in a movie, is pretty much all they got at this point, and this is our life now. Can you tell, I am very, very, very, very tired of idiotic angry, obtuse white men on social media (Yeah, you guys aren’t stupid.You’re okay.) Okay, lets move on…

I’m not a huge Bond fan, btw. I like some of the movies okay, but for me they’re apart of the Fantasy/Action film genre like the Mission Impossible and John Wick films. I do not sit around arguing with people about who the best Bond girl, or villain, or James Bond is the best. I’m not that emotionally invested, although I understand that some people really love the franchise. I do like Daniel Craig, and I liked him before the Bond films and just followed him over here, so I’m watching the movies mostly because he’s in them, even though he has all of the acting chops of a two by four when he’s portraying this character. I cant make heads or tails of the plot, but it all looks really serious.

MoonFall

This is one of those major disaster movies that get released from time to time. The last movie I watched that was remotely like this, was the Korean produced Ashfall, but I was not especially impressed by it, even though it starred one of my future dream husbands, Don Lee. I don’t think Don Lee is in this movie, but it still looks pretty interesting.

Midnight Mass

I’m not sure what to make of this series, but it all looks quite mysterious, and I am intrigued. Imma check it out.

Mass

This movie looks really intense, and now I’m curious because I’ve always wondered about how people have conversations like this, when someone’s family has hurt your family. Also, I like Jason Isaacs.

Copshop

I like Gerard Butler because 300 was cool, but I do not like Frank Grillo. I don’t know why. I just don’t. Nevertheless, I will probably watch this rather generic looking Crime/ Action/Thriller becasue I like Crime Action Thrillers, and check them out whenever I can. (Bonus points if the movie is made in anywhere in Asia.) I love a good Gun-Fu movie.

Old Henry

its been a while since I’ve seen a good Western and this looks like the typical, Unforgiven/Logan/ Shane – “retired gunman gets back into the fray” type plot, which I never seem to get tired of. I also now a big fan of Tim Blake nelson from the Watchmen series. I am not a huge fan of Stephen Dorfff, but he looks really good here.

Star Wars: Visions

I don’t usually talk about anime on here. Its not that I dislike anime. I love the imagination behind so much of it, and many of the drawing styles are a lot of fun and very beautiful. I’m just really, really, picky about the anime I watch, and my tastes to others would appear to be all over the place. I pretty much stick to the mature stuff but I have and did watch stuff like Astroboy, Star Blazers, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell, but if it has any very young looking, big breasted, and squeaky voiced girls in it, then I’m probably out! I’m also not a fan of any of the other Star Wars animated series. I haven’t watched a single one of them, and have no intention of doing so, but I will watch this. Why? Because this is an anthology of anime artists reinterpreting the Star Wars universe to fit a Japanese aesthetic, and I really enjoyed it when they did this for Batman: Gotham Knight, and because Batman Ninja was the shit! So yeah, I love this trailer and it looks like fun.

Disney plus is making so many good shows, that I finally took the plunge and subscribed, even though I told myself I wasn’t subscribing to any more streaming services. So far, I’ve racked up about 50.00 in streaming services, and I’m okay with that amount, because it’s still a helluva lot less than cable ever was.

Cowboy Bebop

I have watched a limited number of episodes of the anime series, which were just enough to determine that the series (and the movie) was a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to this live action version. I don’t know all the references here, as I usually do not memorize episode names and stuff, but I do know the characters, and generally like them. I’m not so much interested in the faithful rendition of the look of the anime, as I am in the correct feel of the movie. And hey, its John Cho in an Action movie, so I’m here for it!