Antebellum (2020) & His House (2020) Reviews

Here are a couple of 2020 horror films. Remember 2020? An entire year of horror! So don’t know if these got proper releases while we were all sat at home…

Antebellum (2020)

Directed & Written by Gerard Bush & Christopher Renz

Starring: Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Gabourey Sidibe

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a 21st century African-American woman who wakes to finds herself mysteriously in a Southern slave plantation from which she must escape.

My Opinion:

This was… Okay? I really like Janelle Monáe & she was the main reason I watched this so I wish it had been a better film for her. I think the idea for the story was good enough but the execution was pretty terrible. And Jena Malone was awful – I seem to always really dislike her acting (especially after she screwed the dead person in that stupid The Neon Demon pile of shit). I think her performance, as well as that of all the one-dimensional “baddies”, really hurt this movie.

But more than anything, I think the big twist being SUCH a huge rip-off of a well known director’s movie really didn’t help (don’t want to name the director but you’ll know exactly what movie I mean if you watch this). It just made me think of how well the other director pulled off that twist & that it was a much better film than this one. Disappointing.

My Rating: 6/10

His House (2020)

Directed by Remi Weekes

Starring: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.

My Opinion:

This was better than I was expecting. This is the Wikipedia plot synopsis, which makes it obvious what the film is really about: “The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.

But I was hoping for a decent haunted house story as well as I love a good supernatural horror. I did enjoy that, although it took quite a while to get going and wasn’t as creepy or scary as I was hoping from the Netflix image of the face peeking through the hole in the wall. But then the story takes a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting at all and I liked that a lot. Movies rarely catch me off guard so I’m surprised I didn’t see that coming but I do like when a movie surprises me.

The film could’ve been better overall but at least the ending made up for the slow start. I think most horror movies have terrible endings (why do they never know how to end?!) so it’s nice to see one that ends well.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Black Christmas (2019) Review

Black Christmas (2019)

Directed by Sophia Takal

Based on Black Christmas by A. Roy Moore

Starring: Imogen Poots, Lily Donoghue, Aleyse Shannon, Brittany O’Grady, Caleb Eberhardt, Cary Elwes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a group of sorority sisters at Hawthorne College as they are preyed upon by an unknown stalker.

My Opinion:

Er. Um. UGH. Okay… This movie was mostly pretty damn terrible but for some reason I kind of liked it? At least at the beginning – that all went out the window at the very end. Holy hell! What a pile of shit ending!!!

First of all: Yes, I saw the original but it was many many years ago so I should probably rewatch it. So I won’t be comparing them as I don’t remember that one well enough. I just wish Blumhouse would stop rebooting or remaking (or whatever you want to call it) old horror films. Well, that’s plenty of studios, actually. And these newer films are sometimes so different than the originals that I don’t understand why they use the same name. No, I lie – they use the same name because they’re more likely to make money from a known name. Pisses me off. Honestly, they could’ve given this one a completely different name from the original as I don’t think they’re very similar beyond the setting.

So. They kind of had a good idea here but just did such an awful job of cramming the agenda into this film. Spoiler: It’s basically about the rape culture at universities. Which is an important and serious topic not really suited for this seriously stupid horror movie. To be fair, it maybe could have worked if the film had treated the topic more seriously and if the ending hadn’t been laughable. It’s a shame as a well written film on this topic could’ve turned out well. Maybe a more serious type of horror such as Midsommar? Hell, that’s basically a toxic-male-hating film too about slightly inattentive boyfriends, right?

I did really like Imogen Poots in this so luckily the main character was fine. I like her in most things but I mostly think I just love that name. POOTS! Imagine having to grow up with the name Poots!! Her main SJW best friend (sorry to use that phrase but it’s the whole point of that character) was okay but very quickly gets on your nerves as you’d expect. I did kind of like the one friend who was really dumb (she was also good in The White Lotus). And one other thing I did really like in this movie was their song. That was a good scene. I like seeing rapists named & shamed. So the movie started out well…

While I do think this movie ended up being dreadful thanks to its ridiculously over-the-top ending, I think it has been unfairly rated way too low on IMDb. 3.4/10?! Okay, that will be those who see it as having a man-hating agenda. I suppose it does but I think it could have gotten away with it & done a better job of making its point if the ending wasn’t SO in-your-face about, um, toxic masculinity. Dammit! This movie made me use the phrases SJW & toxic masculinity. Phrases I steer WELL clear of on Twitter! And I’ve written waaaaay more than I wanted to about a pretty bad horror movie. I just wish it had done a better job of making its point in a more subtle fashion. Cramming your beliefs down viewers’ throats never works, even when viewers agree with what you’re trying to say (as I do).

My Rating: 5.5/10

Dean Koontz, Josh Malerman, James Herbert & Riley Sager (Book Reviews)

Here are some more horror book reviews for October Horror Month. I mostly read Stephen King but did manage to read a few other authors in the past couple of years. Honest! Even read some non-horror, like Dune. But I do mostly stick to this genre for some reason…

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

I’m a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology!

Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today.

My Rating: 3/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz

As I said above, I love Dean Koontz books. Well, okay – I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

This was a strange one. I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the movie adaptation!). But I was absolutely blown away by his short story included at the end of that book (Ghastle And Yule). It was brilliant. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author to tell him that (I never really tweet “celebs” because that feels stalker-y & weird). But I think he appreciated the praise. Here’s the synopsis for Black Mad Wheel from Amazon, which sounded amazing so is why I chose it as the next book of his to read: “The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening.

Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters).

My Rating: 3/5

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work.

Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…

My Rating: 3/5

Moon by James Herbert

Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year (Update: I obviously wrote this in 2020). Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff…

My Rating: 2.5/5

Final Girls by Riley Sager

This crime mystery horror thriller might be a bit of fluff but I think it would make for a really good slasher flick with a decent “whodunnit” plot. I’d definitely watch that movie! The characters are a bit hateful but, hey, so are most slasher movie characters.

Had fun with this one – it was a real page-turner as I wanted to find out what was going on. I’m impatient when it comes to whodunnits & always read them quickly. It gets a bit silly at the end but I don’t mind that with this sort of thing. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “FIRST THERE WERE THREE. The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma. THEN THERE WERE TWO. But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or… CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE? All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

My Rating: 3/5

Les Diaboliques (1955) & In Fabric (2018) Reviews

Les Diaboliques (1955)

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Based on She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac

Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
The wife and mistress of a loathed school principal plan to murder him with what they believe is the perfect alibi.

My Opinion:

I unfortunately saw the terrible 1996 remake of this starring Sharon Stone years ago. Rubbish! I thought I’d managed to completely put it out of my mind until halfway through this original French film, when I suddenly remembered the whole story. Damn. Well, it’s still a fantastic murder-plot-mystery thriller and I’d highly recommend the original film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, to anyone who likes this sort of genre. (Seriously, do NOT watch the 1996 remake. Ugh.)

The wife & the mistress of the same abusive asshole plot to murder him & make it look like an accident. But many weird & inexplicable things happen as the story unfolds. The actresses in this (Simone Signoret & Véra Clouzot) are fantastic and you are rooting for them (especially the poor wife) through the whole film. And do you know what happened when the credits came up at the end of this 1955 movie?! A warning to not spoil the ending of the film for others so that they could enjoy it too! Funny. So people were dicks about spoiling movies in 1955 just like they are in 2021. At least they could avoid Twitter in 1955.

My Rating: 7.5/10

In Fabric (2018)

Directed & Written by Peter Strickland

Starring: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill, Julian Barratt, Steve Oram, Gwendoline Christie, Barry Adamson, Jaygann Ayeh, Richard Bremmer, Terry Bird, Fatma Mohamed

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a haunted red dress as it torments various owners.

My Opinion:

This was bizarre. I was very excited to see this on BBC iPlayer as it looked like just my type of thing. I like to watch these “Giallo-inspired” movies. But then they end up being really shit & I think I’d have been better off just watching an actual Italian horror from the ’70s instead of a very poor imitation. Hated that Suspiria remake too! What was the point of that?? Well, at least this was an original story instead of a remake, I guess.

I did like director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio okay but this one didn’t really work. I’d say there were certain things I liked about it, though. The score & the look were fine (even though it’s ripping off the Giallo style – Again, I should have just checked out another Dario Argento film even though I know none are as good as Deep Red or Suspiria). There are also two stories in this weird “killer dress” movie & the second one sucks. The first one, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Gwendoline Christie, actually wasn’t too bad & I’d be giving the film a higher rating if it had ended there. Why did they feel the need to add the second? Also, the movie is veeeeery slow & the first story dragged on for far longer than it needed to.

I think this may have actually been a decent horror anthology instead with four or five stories involving the killer dress. I’d watch several really good stories about a killer dress! Why do one okay story & one completely rubbish one?? Well, I don’t recommend this unless you like slightly boring modern movies that poorly rip off ’70s horror classics (if you liked The Love Witch, which I thought was terrible, you’d probably like In Fabric).

My Rating: 5/10

VFW (2019) Review

Reviewed this recently in a monthly roundup post but think it kind of fits Horror Month & I quite liked it plus all the old farts in it so here it is again…

VFW (2019)

Directed by Joe Begos

Starring: Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Martin Kove, Fred Williamson, David Patrick Kelly, Sierra McCormick, Tom Williamson, Travis Hammer, Dora Madison, George Wendt, Graham Skipper

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A group of old war veterans put their lives on the line to defend a young woman taking shelter in their local VFW post, who’s running from a deranged drug dealer and his relentless army of drug addled punks.

My Opinion:

I rated this just below that existential art house film Wings Of Desire the month that I watched this. What can I say? I have well-rounded movie tastes.

I really enjoyed this one despite the extreme violence. I just really liked this group of old dudes! Especially loved that William Sadler was in this & he seemed to be having loads of fun in the role. He’ll always be my favorite Grim Reaper! Stephen Lang is great in the main role as a tough Vietnam veteran who has to defend his bar slash VFW post from crazed drug addicts who are after a girl who has taken shelter in the bar. Lang is one of those guys who has been in shitloads but I never really noticed him until he played that freak in Don’t Breathe (which I didn’t love). He’s perfect here, though, and I loved the main friendship he had with fellow veterans Sadler & Fred Williamson.

And as if these three aren’t cool enough, they also crammed in other “Hey, it’s that guy” actors as further fellow veterans forced to kick ass in as many violent ways as possible. We also have The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai big baddie Martin Kove, George Wendt of Cheers fame, and David Patrick Kelly from the absolute classics The Warriors & The Crow. Oh, and the girl in this, Sierra McCormick, was in a very obscure film that I liked a lot called The Vast Of Night so it was cool seeing her although her character could’ve been a bit more likeable. She should’ve been more grateful to these old dudes whose lives she’s put in danger.

VFW has real Hobo With A Shotgun, Dredd, From Dusk Till Dawn, and even a bit of The Crow vibes going on. So if you like those, you’ll probably like this! Although it’s quite not as good as those (well, maybe as good as Hobo). A few days after watching this I also realized what else it is: It’s an example of every day on Twitter. Honestly. It’s the Boomers vs the Millennials. I wonder if that was on purpose?? And, being Gen X, I did the same thing we all do and just minded my own business while watching these people fight it out. Was definitely with the Boomers on this one, though. Loved seeing them kick ass.

My Rating: 7.5/10

One Cut Of The Dead (2017) & Level 16 (2018) Reviews

Happy October! Today for Horror Month we have a Japanese ZomCom & a cheesy Netflix movie I kind of liked…

One Cut Of The Dead (カメラを止めるな!, Kamera o Tomeru na!)

Directed by Shin’ichirō Ueda

Starring: Takayuki Hamatsu, Mao, Harumi Syuhama, Yuzuki Akiyama, Kazuaki Nagaya

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.

My Opinion:

This was fun! I found it weirdly…. Wholesome? This is a Japanese horror comedy (or, I guess, a ZomCom) & it’s one where you’re better off not knowing too much before watching it. It also gets better as it goes along so stick with it – I really enjoyed the final act of this movie when it all comes together.

The characters were good & I liked the family of three who are involved in the film (especially the mother who goes a little overboard). And it’s not at all “gory” so is worth a watch if you want a lighthearted ZomCom. This was on Film4 in the U.K. but, sadly, I think it has disappeared by now. Sorry! I should review movies while they’re still available to watch.

My Rating: 7/10

Level 16

Directed & Written by Danishka Esterhazy

Starring: Katie Douglas, Celina Martin, Peter Outerbridge, Sara Canning

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a group of girls who live at a “school” which educates them about how to be perfect young women for families that they are told will eventually adopt them. Two girls work together to uncover the truth about their captivity.

My Opinion:

No, this movie isn’t exactly the best or most original thing ever made but it IS very much my type of story so I quite enjoyed it. It’s on Netflix. By the way, do NOT look this up on IMDb if you want to see it. The images they show ruin the whole story! WTF? So I knew what was going to happen. But I still enjoyed it.

Being someone who grew up loving The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have guessed the ending of this movie anyway as it’s pretty predictable if you watch as much of this sort of thing as I do. I suppose you younger people may also know what to expect if you like Black Mirror. But this is still worth a watch if you like mysterious sci-fi thrillers.

My Rating: 6.5/10

When A Stranger Calls (1979) & Lady Vengeance (2005) Reviews

Two very different films today for October Horror Month. Both were okay but I wanted to like them more than I did…

When A Stranger Calls (1979)

Directed by Fred Walton

Starring: Charles Durning, Carol Kane, Colleen Dewhurst, Tony Beckley

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see this 1979 horror classic for years! “Have you checked the children?” Such a famous line & I think every teen in the ’80s knew where those calls were coming from even if we hadn’t seen this movie. And, yeah, the beginning of this movie is GREAT. The beginning, as a short story on its own, is a classic.

I have a feeling that the beginning bit is all that anyone truly remembers because, man, this one falls apart in the middle. It kind of completely goes in a different direction & we don’t see Carol Kane again until the very end when it finally picks up slightly again. So I’m glad I finally watched this but it felt like I’d already seen it since I knew all about the beginning. Didn’t realize there would be so little of that good stuff & then the rest of the movie would drag. But I’m still giving it an extra half a point for having such a well known & often spoofed beginning.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨) (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) (2005)

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Starring: Lee Young-ae, Choi Min-sik

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After being wrongfully imprisoned for thirteen years and having her child taken away from her, a woman seeks revenge through increasingly brutal means.

My Opinion:

I like a revenge movie & am a fan of quite a few South Korean films so expected to really like this one. I was very disappointed. Then again, I absolutely hated Park Chan-wook’s 2nd film in this “Vengeance Trilogy”, so I don’t know why I expected to like this one. Lady Vengeance is the third film, with Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance being the first & that nasty Oldboy being the second.

I definitely far preferred this to Oldboy, however, and liked the main character, Lee Geum-ja. From Wikipedia, the movie is about “a woman released from prison after serving the sentence for a murder she did not commit. The film tells her story of revenge against the real murderer“. The story was a decent enough revenge story but, as with Park Chan-wook’s other films I’ve seen, the characters are hard to like (although Lee Geum-ja is a far more sympathetic character than Oldboy dude). And her red eyeshadow was cool. I’d look like shit in red eyeshadow. Anyway, the film was okay. I struggle with movies that involve children being harmed so this was a hard watch, although it made me want revenge just as much as the main character. I was just hoping for the film to be a bit better than it was…

My Rating: 6.5/10

Audition (1999) Review

Audition (オーディション & Ōdishon) (1999)

Directed by Takashi Miike

Based on Audition by Ryu Murakami

Starring: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Jun Kunimura, Tetsu Sawaki, Miyuki Matsuda, Toshie Negishi, Shigeru Saiki, Ken Mitsuishi, Ren Ohsugi, Renji Ishibashi

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It is a Japanese horror film about a widower, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), whose son suggests that he should find a new wife. Aoyama agrees, and with a friend, stages a phony audition to meet a potential new partner in life. After interviewing several women, Aoyama becomes interested in Asami (Eihi Shiina), who responds well to him, although as they date, her dark past affects their relationship.

My Opinion:

Well, this was fucked up. To be fair, I knew it was going to be fucked up (it’s why I’ve wanted to see it for years). So I grabbed the DVD a few months ago when I saw it very cheap. I’d say it didn’t quite live up to the hype after all this time but I suppose there’s been more “extreme” stuff since this one (I was surprised it’s a 1999 film as I thought it was a bit more recent). I mean, we’ve since had films like Oldboy which was much more shocking. I absolutely hated Oldboy, by the way – it took things way too far and I found it disgusting but I do realise that it was made for shock value. I wanted to see Audition as I love foreign films & especially love Japanese films and I always like a good horror.

I’d say the movie starts out quite well as we watch this widower go about living his life with his likeable teenage son until a friend of his has the idea to set up a fake movie audition so the widower can interview a bunch of unsuspecting young women to see if any could be a potential new wife. Of course they’re all half his age. I’m always uncomfortable with hints of sexual abuse involving children in movies and wasn’t surprised to find that be a part of this as there needs to be some sort of explanation for a woman ending up being a complete psycho in a film. But does there? Does that always have to be the damn reason? Can we not just be CRAZY for no good reason, dammit?!

Anyway. It’s a good movie & I can see why extreme horror lovers like it as, even though it starts out as a pretty straightforward film, it goes batshit crazy at the end. I do like movies that have a sudden shift like that. But I didn’t like the development of the woman’s character in this. Well, I didn’t feel her character was very developed at all. Why is she doing this, besides the sexual abuse she endured which the movie happily hinted at? For some reason I’d heard this was a feminist film but I’d say it’s the opposite? Plus, the main guy isn’t a bad guy – he’s just lonely since his wife’s death and it was his friend’s idea to set up the fake audition anyway. And god I was SO worried about their adorable dog the whole time.

This review is all over the place… I’m not really sure how I felt. As I said, I think it’s a good film (as in well made) so I’m giving it a decent rating. I did really like elements of it but was disappointed overall as it’s not as good as the hype made it out to be. I’ve not seen any other Takashi Miike films but would possibly watch another based on this. First Love is on Sky & I’m curious about that one. Anyone seen it?

My Rating: 7/10

If It Bleeds, The Colorado Kid & Later by Stephen King (Book Reviews)

For October Horror Month, I figured I might as well drag out some of my reviews of the horror stuff I’ve read in the past two years. Not gonna lie – the majority will be Stephen King books! But there will be a few other authors I’ll be posting this month as well.

Here’s a Stephen King collection of four shorter stories & two of his Hard Case Crime novels to start…

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Four Story Collection: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life Of Chuck, If It Bleeds & Rat)

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. I always love his shorter story collections. I’ll say just a tiny bit about each…

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – Really liked this very simple story of a boy who gifts an iPhone to an elderly neighbour. But the story of course gets a little more weird later on…

The Life Of Chuck – Thought this three-part story (told in reverse order) was interesting. The first story was really good & very clever when you later realise what’s going on. The second story was okay & the final one was good with the right amount of creepiness but also strong characters & not a full-on “horror”.

If It Bleeds – This is a short story continuing on from The Outsider (which I actually didn’t like very much). However, it revolves around one of my favorite new Stephen King characters: Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes. She’s a love her or hate her & I love her so like that King keeps using her as well as other likeable previous characters. So I enjoyed this story mainly because I got to revisit these characters again.

Rat – This is the most “Stephen King” story about a writer (shocker! can’t remember if he was also in Maine…) who makes a deal with a talking rat when he wishes to write a successful novel. It’s a twist on The Monkey’s Paw and is a better story than you’d think it could be considering it has a talking rat. But King can write the weird stuff well!

Not sure what to rate this book overall as it’s good but not as strong as some of his other collections. I suppose I’d give the whole thing this…

My Rating: 3.5/5

**Just going to add this bit from Wikipedia that I just read. Looks like at least three of the stories are going to be adapted: “On July 10, 2020, Deadline Hollywood reported that Netflix had acquired film rights to “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone”, to be produced by Blumhouse Productions and Ryan Murphy. “Rat” was optioned by Ben Stiller, who intends to produce, star and direct. Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures has optioned “The Life of Chuck”, with Aronofsky to produce.

Wait. What? Darren Aronofsky?! What an odd choice. Okay, Ben Stiller is weird too. But Aronofsky doing King? I suppose it was a very strange story (the first part) that I can kind of see him doing after Mother!

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

My Thoughts:

Been wanting to read this for years as I really liked the TV show Haven which I knew was only very loosely based on this book. Loosely was an understatement! It just happens to be set in the same small town in Maine. That’s the only true link. At least I think it was Maine. It’s a King book – it must be Maine! It’s set in small-town fishing village Maine & I think I want to live out my elderly years in StephenKingesque small-town Maine. I read too much King.

This is one of his non-horrors and I really liked it. I often like his non-horrors where the focus is on good characters, and they were pretty well developed ones for what was a pretty short book. It’s not as good as the first one I read in this Hard Case Crime series, though (Joyland). Joyland was great! But I’d recommend both to King fans.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Later by Stephen King

My Thoughts:

This is the third novel of King’s in this Hard Case Crime series & I’ve enjoyed them all. They’re much shorter & “lighter” reads than his hefty horror tomes. This is probably my least favorite of the three, but that’s not saying it’s bad. It’s about a kid who sees dead people (yeah, kind of like in The Sixth Sense but not really & they do reference that film in this). It’s a solid ghost story with a likeable kid. It’s possibly a little forgettable but it’s a quick & fun read.

My favorite in this series is still Joyland, which I loved, and second is The Colorado Kid which felt very different from King’s “horror” stories. Maybe I should check out some of the many non-King books in this series??

My Rating: 3/5

Countdown (2019) & Mikey (1992) Reviews

Two cheesy horror movies today but I have to admit I enjoyed the one from 1992. Love psychotic children! Not sure why I didn’t see it at the time…

Countdown (2019)

Directed & Written by Justin Dec

Starring: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Tichina Arnold, P.J. Byrne, Peter Facinelli, Anne Winters, Tom Segura

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a group of people who discover a mobile app that correctly tells its users when they are going to die.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this basic, utterly predictable horror film. It’s about an app that people download that tells them exactly how long they have left to live. So, of course, those who don’t have long to live according to the app die as soon as their time runs out. And, of course, a pretty young blonde medical student downloads it & finds out she has only days to live and must find a way to “cheat death”. Not gonna lie – this movie totally rips off Final Destination. But I always liked the simple setup of that film and thought it made for a really good story (and they were obviously able to use it over & over & over again).

It doesn’t work as well in Countdown & gets far too silly at the end but it’s still an enjoyable film thanks to some entertaining characters in the smaller roles. It’s not the best in the genre but I’ve seen far worse. It was exactly what I was expecting so I wasn’t disappointed.

My Rating: 6/10

Mikey (1992)

Directed by Dennis Dimster

Starring: Brian Bonsall, Josie Bissett, Ashley Laurence, John Diehl, Mimi Craven, Whitby Hertford, Lyman Ward, Lorenzo Obias

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It stars Brian Bonsall as Mikey, a young boy adopted by a family, who turns out to be a violent psychopath.

My Opinion:

Enjoyed this one much more. I’m so classy! Was this a good film? No. It was cheesy but fun & I liked seeing so many recognisable faces from that time. It’s a horror movie from 1992 that I’m not even sure was released (the rating says “Rejected” on IMDb. What does that mean??) about a young boy who is a psycho killer.

What can I say? I love movies with evil children. The Omen is a big favorite (not that this is even close to being as good as that). Cute little Brian Bonsall plays the psychopath. Ha! Remember him from Family Ties?! This is no wholesome TV show – he truly is a crazy fucker. This also starred Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser fame (actually thought she was a good character in this cheesy horror) & Lyman Ward of “Ferris Bueller’s dad” fame. And Josie Bissett of Melrose Place which I never watched. And Mimi Craven who I just read was Wes Craven’s wife at the time. So, the Craven & Hellraiser horror connections are cool.

I read that this movie is still banned to this day in the U.K. (how did I see it on Amazon Prime U.K., then?!). Sadly, I know why it was banned at that time so that’s completely understandable.

My Rating: 6/10

The Wraith (1986) Review

The Wraith (1986)

Directed & Written by Mike Marvin

Starring: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn, Randy Quaid

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In a small town in Arizona, a mysterious man/spirit descends from the sky and manifests in a sports car and targets a local violent road-racing gang of motor heads, headed by a ruthless bully who’ll do anything to get what he wants.

My Opinion:

I’m always a little shocked when I discover the existence of an ’80s movie that I somehow never saw. This 1986 film showed up on Amazon Prime UK so I had to give it a watch (even though it stars Charlie Sheen. Ew.). But I loved the sound of it from the plot. From Wikipedia: “The Wraith tells the story of an Arizona teen who mysteriously returns from the dead as a supernatural street-racer driving an invulnerable supercar. His intent is to take revenge on the gang who murdered him.” That sounds weird as shit & right up my alley.

The movie is fun & kind of what I expected, although it could’ve been a little cooler. Not sure how, but it obviously didn’t quite make it to cult level status although it had that potential. I think it needed to be a little more bizarre. For a weird plot synopsis, the movie itself wasn’t weird enough. Plus Sheen was a bit dull – maybe this would be a cult film now had it starred someone else? Hell, his brother Emilio would’ve been much better. Which made me think that I really want to watch Repo Man again, as I don’t remember much now but love Harry Dean Stanton.

This is another thing I love about discovering ’80s movies I never saw: I love spotting so many actors I liked, especially if they’re obscure actors I recognise from other ’80s films. Two not-so-obscure ones in The Wraith but it was great seeing Randy Quaid and Clint Howard (this was a big role for him! He’s usually not much more than a cameo). Anyway – it’s a fun movie but it could’ve been better. I want to give it a higher rating than this. I’d probably like it more if it had been one I’d managed to see when I was a teenager.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: September 2021

Happy October, everyone!

I’ve decided to do October Horror Month again after skipping it last year, so I have two years worth of horror movie reviews that I’ve gathered together to post again. And you never know – maybe I’ll actually watch a horror movie in October for a change & do a new review! Maybe. I never seem to have the time to watch horror movies in October now (or when I do, they’re re-watches of old favorites).

Well, I’ve already moved onto “ALL HORROR” before doing this roundup of everything I watched in September. So here’s a quick break from the scary stuff…

MOVIES WATCHED IN SEPTEMBER (ranked best to worst):

Minari – Was so happy to see this finally pop up on Sky Cinema as it’s one of the Best Picture nominees this year that I’d wanted to see the most. I have to say I enjoyed it much more than winner Nomadland but probably still like Promising Young Woman the most. But Minari would be a close second out of the six nominees I’ve seen. I reviewed it in full at the link but, basically, it’s a sweet film and I really liked this family. I especially liked the grandmother & young son – they were fun & adorable together. – 7.5/10

Space Sweepers – Really enjoyed this movie. That’s two things I’ve liked on Netflix recently! I struggle to find anything new that I like on Netflix (the other recent thing I liked being Squid Game – I LOVED that). Think it’s because they have one thing in common (besides both being South Korean): Good characters. Same with Parasite & Train To Busan. I’ve written a review of Space Sweepers & it’s ended up so long that I’m gonna post it separately in November after horror month. It’s one of the better 2021 releases I’ve seen so it deserves a full review… – 7.5/10

Free Guy – Saw this at a drive-in & reviewed it at the link (where I mostly reminisce about drive-ins). I probably enjoyed it slightly more than I might have as I needed a movie fix so bad (it’s the only movie I’ve seen outside of my house since February 2020). I thought it was fun. Ryan Reynolds is always likeable, of course, but I also really liked Jodie Comer’s character. The idea itself was good but, admittedly, not the most original. We’ve seen the whole “living in a video game” thing quite a lot. But this movie brought enough of a new spin to the idea plus the romance was surprisingly good (especially at the end). It managed to be slightly unpredictable, which was cool. Yeah, it was lightweight but that’s exactly what I needed. – 7/10

Villains – Liked this quirky horror. Thanks, Film Miasma! And as it’s now October, I won’t say much more here & will instead try to do a full review of it for October Horror Month… – 6.5/10

Three Days Of The Condor – Watched this Robert Redford film as I heard it was a really good spy thriller that helped inspire Captain America: The Winter Soldier (if I remember correctly??). Yep, it’s a good spy thriller so I recommend it if you like that sort of thing. Weirdly, I’ve never been big on this genre for some reason. I mean, I don’t even like the James Bond films. But I’m probably just weird. Anyway – Redford has sex from out of nowhere just like James Bond with a woman he’s basically taken as a hostage (Faye Dunaway). I was like “you’re gonna have sex with him now after he roughed you up a little & tied you up?!”. Whatever. Must be a regular thing for spy thrillers based on what I’ve seen of Bond movies. She seemed happy enough! I’ll say I thought this movie started out really good while they were in his workplace. The whole movie was pretty good but I liked it at the start more than at the end plus the story dragged a little at the end. – 7/10

Vacation Friends – I enjoyed this. I’m always afraid to admit I liked a dumb comedy as I think film blogger types can be a bit snobby about these kind of movies. Hell, I admit I am too. I’m super picky on comedy & haven’t found anything truly funny since the days of This Is Spinal Tap & The Princess Bride. But those are brilliant & I gave up on getting anything remotely like those ever again years ago. So I’m now happy to turn off my brain sometimes & watch stuff like this. It’s over-the-top and ridiculous but that’s what I want from this sort of thing. I thought the four main characters were great together and John Cena was especially funny. It’s a story where the crazy, unpredictable couple clash with the more straight-laced couple and it’s of course predictable at times. But I’d say there were still some surprises plus the friendship was fun to watch. Whatever. I liked it. There are certainly far worse comedy movies you could watch to unwind one evening. – 6.5/10

The Starling – This was fine. I think I saw some reviews that I thought were way too harsh. I thought it handled the tremendous grief of this couple pretty well while keeping the movie a “light” drama with a touch of humour. Not everyone wants super heavy Oscar dramas! The story is absolutely heartbreaking but not every movie has to be Requiem For A Dream, you know? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “After Lilly suffers a loss, a combative Starling takes nest beside her quiet home. The feisty bird taunts and attacks the grief-stricken Lilly. On her journey to expel the Starling, she rediscovers her will to live and capacity for love.” Melissa McCarthy & Chris O’Dowd were believable as a couple and as heartbroken parents. The movie isn’t perfect but I thought it came up with a unique way of telling a story of grief. I feel like it would’ve been more well received if it had starred, I dunno, Nicole Kidman? I think critics just don’t like McCarthy, to be honest. Snobs! – 6/10

C.H.U.D. – Hey! Another horror movie so I’ll try to do a full separate review for it. It’s ’80s as hell and cheesy and anyone who didn’t live through the ’80s would hate it. But I did so I liked it. Even though it’s pretty bad… – 6/10

Gunpowder Milkshake – This was not a good movie. I’m getting annoyed that they can’t make a really good female assassin movie. Has there been nothing good since Kill Bill? Well, having said that, I still kind of liked this one. Don’t get me wrong – it’s pretty bad. But at least it tried to be a little unique. They had some cool settings, like the ’50s-style diner, the bowling alley, and that “library”. So I appreciated that. I also liked Karen Gillan’s cool jacket in that photo. And I liked the kick ass older ladies: Lena Headey, Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino, and Angela Bassett. To be honest, they were all pretty great and deserved a better movie. I’d happily watch these characters again, so… maybe there’s a chance they could get a much better sequel?? Can we get these cool women into a good movie?!

I do feel that the best bits were ripped off from John Wick & from Hotel Artemis (which I actually liked quite a lot). But… It still meant there were some good scenes in this. To be fair, Hotel Artemis ripped off John Wick which in turned ripped off a million other assassin movies. No idea is original. But I feel like the all-female movies get reviewed far more harshly for the same things being done by all-male films. So… Fuck it. I’ve seen worse all-male assassin movies. I think I’ve talked myself into liking this one a bit more. Yes, Gunpowder Milkshake could’ve been way better but it’s not the fault of its stars. They did a great job with the material they were given. – 6/10

Kate – This was as bad as Gunpowder Milkshake but without any of the fun of that one whatsoever so I just found it a chore to sit through the whole thing. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was okay. I assume she got this role after being the only good thing in that truly dreadful Birds Of Prey. I preferred her character in that film & it sucked that they didn’t try harder to make us care about her in this (although it was nice that she didn’t want to go around killing anyone in front of kids). I liked the setting of Japan but, uh, I think I’m just trying to think of one nice thing to say… And Woody Harrelson was wasted in this. I just wish they could make a good female assassin movie! Why are we getting so many bad ones?? Oh well. This still sucked less than Red Sparrow. – 5.5/10

Movies Rewatched:

The Shining – I don’t think I’ll ever manage a full review of The Shining as I struggle to talk about my favorite films. I’ll just say it’s easily in my top five favorite horror movies of all time. Adore that creepy atmosphere & score and wish all horror movies could be as stylish. Love it. Think I’d really like a rewatch of Doctor Sleep now too after watching this one again… FYI – The Shining topped my favorite top ten list I’ve ever done on this blog: My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies. – 9/10

Shorts & Miscellaneous:

Nona – So loving all the shorts on Disney Plus! Enjoyed this sweet story of a wrestling-loving grandma wanting to keep her husband’s memory alive & finding the best way to do it.

Twenty Something – Thought this was a really good idea for a short that captures the feeling that we’re all still scared little kids deep down inside.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Squid Game: S1 – Ahhh! I loved this! I didn’t watch TV for years as there seemed to be nothing I liked after Lost (the start of Lost, at least). Now there’s The Mandalorian, Cobra Kai & THIS. Finally! TV shows I thoroughly enjoyed for the first time in years! As it’s horror month, I’m contemplating doing a full review of this on its own but I’ve never really reviewed a TV series. I should go episode by episode but that sounds like a lot of work & the thought stresses me out. But I really loved this so I’m gonna do something in a separate post sometime soon… FYI – I clearly highly recommend this but only if you’re okay with pretty extreme violence. But the characters & story are worth it.

Star Wars: Visions: S1 – Loving Star Wars & anime, I was really excited to see anime-style Star Wars. Enjoyed all these, although I did snooze through a couple while binging so need to rewatch those. I’d say it’s a mixed bag – some episodes are great while others are a bit meh. The one with the bunny girl thing was a bit too weird for me. My favorite was easily the first episode: The Duel. Loved the style of that (I posted an image of it at the end of this TV section). Worth watching for Star Wars fans, especially those who also like anime.

Nine Perfect Strangers: S1 E5-8 – Ummm. I dunno. This was an odd one. I was liking it okay at first but it went off the rails at the end. I didn’t even realise when I was watching the final episode as it was a bit of a letdown after so much build-up. The only characters I ended up liking were, weirdly, those played by Melissa McCarthy & Bobby Cannavale. Wasn’t expecting that but they had really good chemistry. The family of three also had an interesting story but the shit Nicole Kidman had them doing at the end was weird. And I hated how Regina Hall’s character ended up after being one of the more interesting ones at the start. Meh. It was okay but for “weird grown-up drama”, I preferred The White Lotus.

Midnight Mass: S1 E1 – Have only watched one episode so far so don’t have much to say yet. I like Mike Flanagan sometimes but haven’t gotten on with his TV shows as I feel they drag. As did this first episode. Nothing really happened so I hope it gets better.

What If…?: S1 E1 – Again, only seen one episode (Captain Carter). It was fun. I’ll watch the rest eventually.

Young Rock: S1 E1-2 – Seen two episodes. It’s quite sweet. Liking it so far…

Dug Days: S1 – Although I adore the beginning of Up, the rest of the film isn’t perfect & I wasn’t that into the weird talking dog Dug. But these shorts are cute. Especially liked the one with the puppies. Worth watching.

Monsters At Work: S1 E10 – Loved these! Have said plenty about the show in previous posts – just saw the final episode in September. Wasn’t expecting the show to be as good as it was. Will always love Mike Wazowski!

Never Mind The Buzzcocks: S29 E1 – One of the few British shows I’ve watched since moving to the U.K. Love it! Not as good in recent years, though. Damn. This first episode was bland. Miss the humor of the older episodes.

America’s Got Talent: S16 E1 – Started watching with the kid but we haven’t continued. She must have found it boring. I can live without it.

Global Citizen Live Concert – I can’t believe I sat through this entire boring ass concert, including Ed f*^king Sheeran, just to see Metallica. And they never even showed them. And it ended with f*^king Coldplay!

Here’s The Duel from Star Wars: Visions:

BOOKS READ

An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green – This was fine. I’ve read a few John Green books after liking The Fault In Our Stars but none have been as good. I feel he was guilty of the “manic pixie dream girl” thing with Looking For Alaska & especially Paper Towns (god that girl was hateful!).

I think there was a danger this would be the case in this book too but he did a slightly better job with the “dream girl” this time. She was a little more real, at least. The two boys were Green’s usual sort of “quirky nerd” but at least they were pretty likeable. I think the story itself was a bit bland, though, and the boy’s obsession with creating a math formula (ugh, math!) to predict the probability of him being dumped again after being dumped by (19, I think) girls named Katherine got annoying. Meh. The book was okay but think I’ll forget it in a year. Better than Paper Towns, at least. – 2.5/5

Now Reading Billy Summers by Stephen King

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Just posting horror movie reviews for the rest of October. Hoping to maybe do a couple new horror-themed top ten lists as well. Depends how busy I get with real life.

I always end these posts with music from one of the movies I watched but I’ll go with the Squid Game soundtrack this time. Really liked the music in this show…

Crimson Peak (2015) & Dark Shadows (2012) Reviews

Two more quick re-posts of horror movie reviews for October Horror Month. Not the best films (especially the Tim Burton one) but they both have style…

Crimson Peak (2015)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story, set in Victorian era England, follows an aspiring author who travels to a remote Gothic mansion in the English hills with her new husband and his sister. There, she must decipher the mystery behind the ghostly visions that haunt her new home.

My Opinion:

I do love a gothic horror and, while none of Guillermo del Toro’s films are personal favorites of mine, I did like The Shape Of Water & think Pan’s Labyrinth is a brilliant & visually stunning film. So I’m not sure what took me so long to check out Crimson Peak as it’s the type of thing I enjoy.

And I did definitely enjoy it despite it not being perfect. The story is fine but the atmosphere & the look are what I care about in this type of film and Crimson Peak didn’t disappoint in that department. Loved that creepy dilapidated mansion! I couldn’t find many great images to use for this post but that could be because the movie is quite dark & still images don’t do it justice.

I have to say the most disappointing thing in this film are its stars. I’ve never liked Jessica Chastain’s acting & she was as bad as always. I also find Tom Hiddleston a bit bland, although his character was okay, and I’ll never get why Mia Wasikowska became so big when she’s so boring (although this role was perfect for her, so I didn’t mind her in this). But I don’t care that much about who stars in a movie, although it’s an added bonus when it’s actors I do really like. So the stars didn’t ruin this film for me anyway.

It’s a pretty straightforward ghost story and a tad predictable but it’s still a solid “haunted house” film with some great imagery. Overall, though, it’s disappointing compared to Guillermo del Toro’s other films. But we can’t expect Pan’s Labyrinth every time.

My Rating: 7/10

Dark Shadows (2012)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.

My Opinion:

This was the ONLY Tim Burton-directed film I’d not seen so I finally checked it out. Ugh. I suppose I should update my Tim Burton Movie Rankings HERE but I’m too lazy at the moment. It’s probably second or third to last anyway.

What a huge disappointment, especially after it started out okay. Then it all went to shit in the final third. I did enjoy the ensemble cast, though – I do love Michelle Pfeiffer & am happy that (I think?) we’re allowed to like Johnny Depp again (Are we?! Hard to keep track these days). Alice Cooper was also in this (as Alice Cooper). So, bonus points for that since I love Cooper (even though the cameo was stupid and felt forced into the story – it worked much better in Wayne’s World!).

The story was just messy and the characters were hateful. Eva Green is sexy but her psycho slut character was just dumb. Meh. Whatever. I’ll give it an okay score since, as I said, it started out okay plus it had some style, as to be expected from Burton. And Alice Cooper is in it.

My Rating: 6/10

The Empty Man (2020) & The Most Dangerous Game (1932) Reviews

I’d been contemplating doing October Horror Month again this year. But I’ve just realised it’s October 1st & I have nothing prepared. Well, I’m not sure if I have the energy to post at least one horror review every day of October like I have other years but maybe I’ll give it a try as I’ve watched at least 31 horrors in the past year. So these will be re-posts or re-blogs of reviews I’ve already done. I’ll try! Let’s start with two very short reviews…

The Empty Man (2020)

Directed by David Prior

Based on The Empty Man by Cullen Bunn & Vanesa R. Del Rey

Starring: James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Stephen Root, Ron Canada, Robert Aramayo, Joel Courtney, Sasha Frolova

Music by Christopher Young, Lustmord

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Empty Man follows an ex-cop who, upon an investigation into a missing girl, discovers a secret cult.

My Opinion:

Hmm. I suppose this was pretty decent for a modern horror film. So many people were going on about it that I decided to check it out on Disney Plus.

I thought it started out pretty great. I really liked the stuff at the start on the mountain & thought it was still pretty good when the teenagers first got involved in the next section of the film. The movie also had a great creepy vibe, partly thanks to the music I think, so I was glad I was watching it alone late at night & getting the heebie jeebies a little as I find so few horror movies to be very creepy. I like being creeped out! Give me a creepy atmospheric supernatural horror over gory stuff.

I’d say one thing in this was too violent for my taste (not sure why that one person had to die so violently?!) but otherwise it wasn’t too over the top. I think it just fell apart for me at the end. It was a decent story & I was certainly intrigued as to what was going on but, I dunno. The ending was okay but I do feel let down by horror movie endings the majority of the time for some reason. I guess I’ve seen far worse endings.

Overall, this was pretty good compared to most the modern horror crap out there. Oh! And I really liked that creepy skeleton in that image. Kind of a spoiler but not really – it’s at the start of the film & is also what convinced me to watch this when someone posted that image on Twitter.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Directed by Irving Pichel & Ernest B. Schoedsack

Based on The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

Starring: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot concerns a big game hunter who deliberately strands a group of luxury yacht passengers on a remote island where he can hunt them for sport.

My Opinion:

Saw this pop up on Amazon Prime & was aware of the story by Richard Connell being a classic (inspired by those rich assholes who hunt big game) so thought the 1932 film should be interesting. Plus I really enjoyed the 2020 film The Hunt! Not that they’re at all similar, of course, but the “hunting of humans” idea is the same.

This was good but I wish I’d just looked it up on YouTube (it’s available) as the one on Prime is a horrible colorised version. Why do they do that?! Anyway, it was still a good film even with dodgy coloring. It’s a timeless story & works just as well today. Maybe even more so now, as hunting big game is somehow still a thing. How?!? The thought of the tables being turned is great. This version stars Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Leslie Banks. Hey! The King Kong actress! I should really watch that version again. Anyway, she was good and far less “damsel in distress” than you’d expect in such an old film. I kept thinking she really looks like Penelope Ann Miller – she could have played her in her life story.

I think this film has actually aged quite well & would recommend watching the black & white version on YouTube.

My Rating: 7/10

Minari (2020) Review

Minari (Korean: 미나리) (2020)

Directed & Written by Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Youn Yuh-jung, Will Patton

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipdia)
A semi-autobiographical take on Chung’s upbringing, the plot follows a family of South Korean immigrants who try to make it in the rural United States during the 1980s.

My Opinion:

Was so happy to see this finally pop up on Sky Cinema as it’s one of the Best Picture nominees this year that I’d wanted to see the most. I have to say I enjoyed it much more than winner Nomadland but probably still like Promising Young Woman the most. But Minari would be a close second out of the six nominees I’ve seen.

It’s a simple story about a Korean-American family trying to start a farm in Arkansas in the 1980s. The characters are what make the film work. I’ve liked cute Steven Yeun ever since he was my favorite character Glenn on The Walking Dead and he’s good in this film. It was great seeing him in a major role. But my two favorite characters by far were his adorable young son played by Alan S. Kim and the quirky grandma played by Youn Yuh-jung. She was great & I’m happy with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this.

I also loved this little bit of the film: I admit to having a Mountain Dew addiction (for health reasons I can’t drink it right now & it’s killing me!). Anyway – I think everyone knows it’s super high in caffeine & sugar and one of the worst things you can possibly drink so I loved that the family in this were obsessed with Mountain Dew as it’s “Water from the mountains. It’s healthy!“. That was cute. I also just really liked the relationship that forms between the boy & the grandma and also kind of liked their very weird neighbor. I wish more movies focused on having characters you care about like you do for those in Minari. I just wanted this family’s farm to be successful so they could be happy & have an easier life!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Free Guy (2021) Review

Free Guy (2021)

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A bank teller discovers that he’s actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game.

My Opinion:

I still haven’t gone to the cinema through the whole pandemic & have no plans to anytime soon but, man, we’re SO missing going to new movies!!! The last thing we all saw in the cinema together (me, hubby & kid) was Onward, which was a “meh” one to end on. So we decided to end the summer school break with a trip to a drive-in.

I was very lucky growing up as there was a great drive-in not far from my tiny American Midwest town (with great pizza!) but I know it’s a novelty in the U.K. They do outdoor showings of older movies here sometimes (saw The Greatest Showman that way) but, seriously, who wants to sit outdoors in shitty U.K. weather?! Too risky in rainy England! So it’s cool that some small drive-ins have popped up during the pandemic. And it didn’t even rain during Free Guy! Yay! They just need to start doing double features – that’s what it always was at the one in America. And it was cheap, too (but it was the ’80s/’90s so I’m sure the cost has gone up). At £30 a car here, it’s good for a couple of trips but we can’t do that regularly. Was worth the cost to see one movie in a year & a half, though.

Anyway. Enough reminiscing about my high school drive-in days (I was so annoyed with my boyfriend wanting to make-out the whole time – I wanted to watch the damn movies). Suppose I should talk about Free Guy?? I probably enjoyed it slightly more than I might have as I needed a movie fix so bad but I thought it was a lot of fun. I even giggled a few times! I’m not a LOL person. Ryan Reynolds is always likeable, of course, but I also really liked Jodie Comer’s character. She’s also more than “just the love interest” – Her role is as big & as important as Ryan’s. The idea itself was good but, admittedly, not the most original. We’ve seen the whole “living in a video game” thing quite a lot. But this movie brought enough of a new spin to the idea plus the romance was surprisingly good (especially at the end). It managed to be slightly unpredictable, which was cool.

Ryan & Jodie are the characters we see the most by far but there were some really good smaller roles too. I can’t say much as I want to avoid spoilers but “Dude” was the best. That’s what got the most giggles out of me (but I’m a little immature). Also liked Ryan’s best friend and that guy from Stranger Things wasn’t too bad despite his always weird hair. And Taika Waititi was as entertaining as always, playing an evil game developer. Plus there are several cameos that I won’t spoil. Yeah, it was lightweight entertainment but that’s exactly what we all needed. Scary that it’s going to end up pretty high on my list of 2021 U.K. releases! But I can’t see absolutely loving many of the upcoming 2021 films. Let’s see how Dune turns out…

My Rating: 7/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2021

Happy September. September?! Holy shit – when did that happen????

Here’s all I watched & read in August, spent mostly in bed recuperating after a hospital stay. So I was allowed to watch a lot of stuff (what else could I do??). 🙂

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

Man On Fire – I reviewed this in full at the link. I decided to finally watch it after seeing a thread on Twitter of movies with very different audience & critic ratings (audiences loved it & critics hated it). I really enjoyed it. No, it’s not some good “Oscar worthy” film but it’s a very enjoyable revenge thriller. And it may be predictable but the friendship between Denzel Washington’s & Dakota Fanning’s characters was fantastic & they worked so well together. Plus Denzel is always absolutely perfect in this type of role. Don’t listen to the critics! They need to learn to just enjoy movies sometimes. – 7/10

Fantastic Planet (French: La Planète sauvage, Czech: Divoká planeta) – Well, this was bizarre!! I won’t say much about it here as I reviewed it in full at the link. This is the strange sort of shit I’m always searching for as I get so bored with mainstream movies since I watch way too many. I’m not sure what the hell was going on but I liked it. It had surreal artwork & a trippy, groovy score so was my type of thing. It’s on the Roku Channel in the U.K. if you’re interested. Here’s the plot synopsis for this animated allegorical tale (from IMDb): “On a faraway planet where blue giants rule, oppressed humanoids rebel against their machine-like leaders.” And I’ll give you one more image below to give you an idea of the animation style… – 7/10

Once Upon A Time In America – Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list. I reviewed it in the full at the link so luckily don’t again have to say I didn’t love this film. Oops – Just said it! But I’m not a big gangster film fan & everyone was too hateful. I’m definitely a bigger fan of Leone’s Westerns but there’s no denying that this was still a good film even if I didn’t love it. – 7.5/10

Nomadland – And I watched this one while in the hospital as part of my Best Picture Project. Not gonna lie: It’s good but a bit boring. I’m gonna be real! Yes, I’ve ranked Man On Fire above this. Yes, Nomadland is certainly a better film than Man On Fire. But there are no butt bombs in this! I think it’s a deserving Best Picture Winner compared to the other nominees this year but, overall, it’s far from the best winner in the history of the Oscars.

I found the “houseless” lifestyle portrayed in this fascinating and guess I never exactly realized that there are people who live that way (but I’m a bit sheltered). I know there were real-life nomads playing characters in this & they were all very good. Frances McDormand, as always, was also very good as was David Strathairn. It’s not a film I can fault in any way & I thought they did a good job of portraying McDormand’s character’s heartbreak over the loss of her husband as well as her entire town & way of life. Yes, it’s a good film & deserves a higher rating. It’s just one of those movies that I feel I’ve seen once & have no need to see again. I miss having Oscar winning movies that I truly loved & enjoyed. – 7/10

Thrashin’ – Oh how I love finding ’80s movies that I somehow never saw at the time! I enjoyed this. Yes, it’s cheesy. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Two skateboarding gangs battle each other for supremacy, and a member of one gang falls in love with the sister of his rival.” It stars Josh Brolin as the main character with one of the two assholes from Weird Science (Robert Rusler) as his punk rock skateboarding rival. It also had one of the Lost Boys vampires, Sherilyn Fenn, and of course Tony Hawk with a cameo but it must have been very small because I didn’t notice him. Oh!!! And the Red Hot Chili Peppers were in this performing at some club or whatever. So that was cool – It made it feel a little more credible as this sort of California scene makes me think of the Chili Peppers. Romance & skateboarding rivalry in ’80s California. What more can you ask for from a movie?! I love the ’80s. I don’t care. I enjoyed this. (Kind of feel like giving it a higher rating but then it would be the same as what I gave a Best Picture Oscar winner….). – 6.5/10

Fear Street Trilogy: Fear Street Part One: 1994, Fear Street Part Two: 1978, Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – I reviewed this trilogy at the link so I’ll just say it was fun but certainly not perfect. It had a good soundtrack (especially 1978) & I’d say the overall story that runs through all three films does come together pretty well. Oh, it’s also super gory so don’t be fooled by the R.L. Stine name! These are full-on slashers. I’d watch more if they make more. The trilogy was clearly made by lovers of old school slashers & they did a decent enough job of trying to be like those. – Part One & Two: 6.5/10, Part Three: 6/10

Cruella – Also reviewed this at the link so I don’t have to bitch about it again here. Mainly, I was mostly annoyed that it didn’t totally suck like I was expecting. Okay – the story itself was stupid as shit & completely pointless. But, damn – it had some fun outfits and an absolutely kick ass soundtrack. Why did they have to use such good music in a stupid Disney live-action thing?! Ugh! I loved hearing so many good songs but, man, those songs deserve to be in far better films. – 6.5/10

The Goldfinch – First of all, I read this book and it felt like it took me FOREVER because it was so damn long (seriously – I think it took me about a year to read). It’s a long book and spends a very long time developing the characters and spans many years, so there was no way a 2 1/2 hour movie was going to do it justice. As much as I hate a mini series & dragging a story out for TV, I think this probably should’ve been a mini series instead. However, I thought the film did a surprisingly good job squeezing in so much of the story. It mainly skipped over the time the main character spends as a boy in Las Vegas which, to be fair, dragged on for way too long in the book anyway. The only thing that was a shame was that it meant cutting out quite a bit of the Boris character, who was possibly the best thing about the book (besides wondering what would happen with the painting).

I think the movie kind of made me further appreciate the book as it is actually a decent story. So I’m giving this a decent rating as the movie was far better than I was expecting. However, if you’ve not read the book, I think the movie would probably be difficult to follow as they really do gloss over stuff. I have a feeling that those who liked this movie did read the book first. But I’d only recommend the book if you like reading epic stories with fairly unlikeable characters. Not gonna lie – the book was a real slog to read. Maybe it’s why I quite liked the movie… I don’t know. It’s a hard one to recommend! I can understand why it got poor reviews but it’s a pretty damn good adaptation. I liked it. – 7/10

– Wonder Woman 1984 – Was glad to finally see this without extra cost but had extremely low expectations due to terrible reviews. Well, it’s not that bad. It’s certainly not as bad as its IMDb rating (5.4/10). Okay, it’s also not very good but I didn’t hate it. I thought the first Wonder Woman was quite good so it’s a shame this didn’t live up to it. I think Wonder Woman herself was perfectly fine in this, so they didn’t ruin the character, and the story wasn’t awful. I think the main two problems were 1. The movie was too damn long and 2. The villains were rubbish. Kristen Wiig’s wasn’t quite so bad & they did a decent job developing her character and letting us see her rise & fall. Pedro Pascal was terrible, however. I mean the character as well as the acting (sorry, I don’t think he’s very good despite loving The Mandalorian – that show would be just as good with a different actor). Oh – I also don’t think they did a very good job of making this look like it was set in 1984 just by throwing a few ugly outfits on people and having Chris Pine give a fashion show. And where was all the ’80s music?! Disappointing, as I love the ’80s. Meh. Whatever. There are far better superhero movies but also worse ones. I’m bored with them all. This one will just be very forgettable. – 6/10

Wish Dragon – This was fine. I don’t have a lot to say about this animated film other than that it was better than a lot of the stuff that slightly bigger studios such as DreamWorks put out. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “Determined teen Din is longing to reconnect with his childhood best friend when he meets a wish-granting dragon who shows him the magic of possibilities.” I liked the animation, the characters were likeable, and the dragon was fun (even though he was a bit too similar to Aladdin’s Genie). It’s also not quite as “kiddie” as it looks. It’s certainly appropriate for very young kids but I’d say preteens would be perfectly happy watching this too (the main boy & girl are 19 in this). Decent film for one that I believe went straight to Netflix? – 6.5/10

Bliss – I was really looking forward to seeing this as I really liked Mike Cahill’s Another Earth & especially I Origins. This one is unfortunately not nearly as good. I was intrigued by the concept & did like the story. Here’s the IMDb plot synopsis: “A mind-bending love story following Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation.” It started out okay but the story got messy & it just didn’t work as well as his other films. The biggest problem was that it felt completely miscast. Owen Wilson & Salma Hayek were okay but just didn’t really work together. They’re also too famous – This would have been better with lesser known actors. Too bad Cahill didn’t use his usual favorite, Brit Marling. She’d have been good. Oh well – I did still like the story so it was worth a watch but I’d highly recommend his other films first. – 6/10

Black Christmas (2019) – Er. Um. UGH. Okay… This movie was mostly pretty damn terrible but for some reason I kind of liked it? At least at the beginning – that all went out the window at the very end. Holy hell! What a pile of shit ending!!! First of all: Yes, I saw the original but it was many many years ago so I should probably rewatch it. So I won’t be comparing them as I don’t remember that one well enough. I just wish Blumhouse would stop rebooting or remaking (or whatever you want to call it) old horror films. Well, that’s plenty of studios, actually. And these newer films are sometimes so different than the originals that I don’t understand why they use the same name. No, I lie – they use the same name because they’re more likely to make money from a known name. Pisses me off. Honestly, they could’ve given this one a completely different name from the original as I don’t think they’re very similar beyond the setting.

So. They kind of had a good idea here but just did such an awful job of cramming the agenda into this film. Spoiler: It’s basically about the rape culture at universities. Which is an important and serious topic not really suited for this seriously stupid horror movie. To be fair, it maybe could have worked if the film had treated the topic more seriously and if the ending hadn’t been laughable. It’s a shame as a well written film on this topic could’ve turned out well. Maybe a more serious type of horror such as Midsommar? Hell, that’s basically a toxic-male-hating film too about slightly inattentive boyfriends, right?

I did really like Imogen Poots in this so luckily the main character was fine. I like her in most things but I mostly think I just love that name. POOTS! Imagine having to grow up with the name Poots!! Her main SJW best friend (sorry to use that phrase but it’s the whole point of that character) was okay but very quickly gets on your nerves as you’d expect. I did kind of like the one friend who was really dumb (she was also good in The White Lotus). And one other thing I did really like in this movie was their song. That was a good scene. I like seeing rapists named & shamed. So the movie started out well…

While I do think this movie ended up being dreadful thanks to its ridiculously over-the-top ending, I think it has been unfairly rated way too low on IMDb. 3.4/10?! Okay, that will be those who see it as having a man-hating agenda. I suppose it does but I think it could have gotten away with it & done a better job of making its point if the ending wasn’t SO in-your-face about, um, toxic masculinity. Dammit! This movie made me use the phrases SJW & toxic masculinity. Phrases I steer WELL clear of on Twitter! And I’ve written waaaaay more than I wanted to about a pretty bad horror movie. I just wish it had done a better job of making its point in a more subtle fashion. Cramming your beliefs down viewers’ throats never works, even when viewers agree with what you’re trying to say (as I do). – 5.5/10

The Big Year – This was fine? A very safe & inoffensive movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “It was based on the 2004 nonfiction book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik. The book followed three men on a quest for a Big Year – a competition among birders to see who can see and identify the greatest number of species of birds in North America (north of Mexico) in a calendar year.” So it’s an intriguing story. I had no idea this was a real thing that people do?! Of course the characters themselves are fictional (Owen Wilson is especially over-the-top in his bird obsession) but it’s still interesting that people do this in real life. As I said, it’s just a very safe film. Pleasant. The kind of thing you can have on in the background while visiting with family on a Sunday afternoon. So… somewhat forgettable but was a nice watch & I always love Jack Black. Steve Martin was also good but Black was the best character & he was very understated compared to his usual sort of crazy antics. – 6/10

Over Her Dead Body – This sucked. Cliché & predictable every step of the way. The story is about a controlling woman (Eva Longoria) who dies on her wedding day (you’ll see the obvious death coming a mile away). She then haunts the first woman who shows an interest in her husband-to-have-been about a year later & tries to keep them apart. I 100% watched this because I love Paul Rudd. Who doesn’t?! A controlling dead bitch wouldn’t keep me away from him either! But, of course, she sees the error of her ways and that she needs to let him move on with his life. Duh. I’d have given a spoiler warning there but it’s not a spoiler when you already know the stupid ending from the very start. Whatever – it’s a dumb romcom & not trying to win Oscars or something. So I’ll be nice with my rating since Paul Rudd was of course adorable in this. – 5/10

Movies Rewatched:

Rear Window – Finally convinced my daughter to watch her first Alfred Hitchcock film! 🙂 And I started her on my favorite. I’ve always loved Rear Window & how we get a glimpse of various peoples’ lives through their windows. I was always most concerned about Miss Lonelyhearts & loved the newlywed couple who kept their blinds closed for days. Plus James Stewart is always great & Grace Kelly is gorgeous & classy in all her fancy outfits. I know I always wear a dress & pearls around the house like in the above photo! Such a fun & stylish film. Trying to convince the kid to watch The Birds next. Let’s have another look at Grace Kelly… – 9.5/10

The Lost Boys – YES! Adore this movie. And, yes, it’s my favorite vampire movie. Of course – I was a young teenager when it came out & had a crush on The Two Coreys. I don’t know what else to say about it but you’ll either love this lightweight teen horror comedy or you won’t. The characters are fun, everyone is young & pretty & super cool, and it has great quotables. Death by stereo! Love it. Oh, and it has that greased-up saxophone player. Hubba hubba. Maggots, Michael! You’re eating maggots! –9/10

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Reviewed this in full already for the big John Hughes Blogathon I did years ago. Obviously, I’m Gen X so naturally a big fan of John Hughes (which is why I did the blogathon). Still think this one is great although The Breakfast Club is still my favorite. – 9/10

Wreck-It Ralph – I liked this one a lot the first time I saw it but it grew on me more & more and it’s now easily one of my very favorites of modern-era animated Disney. I think the story is very clever and I love the characters (yes, even Vanellope although I’m sure she gets on some people’s nerves). And I like the Sugar Rush song (seriously – I have it on my Apple playlist). Is it normal for me as an adult to rewatch these movies as much as kids do?! – 8.5/10

Robin Hood (1973) – For whatever reason, I’d not watched this Disney movie a million times like a lot of the others so figured it was time for a rewatch as I didn’t remember it well. I really enjoyed it! Not sure why I never watched it much. The characters and a couple of the songs were fun. Glad I gave it a rewatch after all these years. – 7.5/10

Spider-Man (2002) – Not sure if I have the energy but think I need to rewatch all these Spider-Man movies before the new film comes out. Mainly need to watch with my daughter who hasn’t seen any pre-Tom-Holland ones. Wanted to watch the second of these before rating this one as I seem to remember it being quite good? I like this one, though. We’ll give it a 7 & see if 2 is a 7.5! Don’t remember loving any of the rest. Still think the first couple of Tobey Maguire ones are the best, though, even though I think Tom Holland is decent. – 7/10

Attack The Block – I really like this one although I can’t explain exactly why as the main characters are a group of young criminals. But the aliens are quite effective and it’s a decent alien invasion movie, which I always enjoy. – 7/10

Practical Magic – A bit girly for me but I have to like chick flicks sometimes, right?? – 6.5/10

The Island – Think this is pretty decent for a, uh, Michael Bay film. Until it turns too Michael Bay-like at the end. But it starts out well & the story is fine & Steve Buscemi is in it & Steve Buscemi rules. So, good enough. – 6.5/10

The Hole (2009) – Trying to ease the daughter into horror as she’s not a big fan like I was at her age. Well, she didn’t like this one. It’s a very odd film. Expected so much more from Joe Dante as Gremlins is awesome. But this one is weird. It’s not really scary but it’s hard to know what sort of age it’s aimed at as it IS far too scary for kids at least. But teens & older would mostly find it silly. I don’t think it’s a horrible film – I think it’s just one that would only be liked by a small percentage of people if they’re just the right sort of age when they watch it. I just don’t know what age that might be! 10/11/12, maybe? – 6/10

Okay – as I was stuck in bed for most of August, I usually had movies playing in the background so put on a lot of favorites. I’ve already reviewed most of them in the past: The Wizard Of Oz, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats (I love this one & think it’s an underrated Disney classic).

Shorts:

Short Circuit Shorts: Season 2 – These are really good animated shorts on Disney Plus. Of season two, Going Home really stood out. It was heartbreaking but a great short film.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Okay, I also watched way too many TV shows while stuck in bed. These are in no particular order…

The White Lotus – Enjoyed this! It’s certainly not for everyone but I liked the dark humor & the characters were good. And Jennifer Coolidge was as fun to watch as always. And, MAN, I hated that newlywed husband! What a prick. I also liked that it was a short series. I hate things that drag on for years. I think a new series will focus on new people? Will definitely check it out based on Season 1.

Erased (Boku dake ga Inai Machi, 僕だけがいない街) – This was quite good. I knew nothing about this Japanese anime series so am glad I gave it a chance. Here’s the IMDB synopsis: “29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma is sent back in time 18 years to prevent the events leading to his mother’s death, which began with a series of kidnappings while he was in 5th grade.” Again, I really liked the “one short series” thing.

Cruel Summer – This was kind of terrible and cheesy but I also kind of liked it? It was very “YA” and the acting was all pretty dreadful other than from the actress Olivia Holt. But I think I’ll forever be a sucker for YA drama. I don’t believe this was based on a book but this is exactly the kind of guilty pleasure YA stuff I still like to read. There’s a lot of back & forth as to who is telling the truth and you never know who to trust. It’s also set in the ’90s, which was fun, back when I was just a little older than these characters. It takes place in flashbacks all exactly three years apart in the two girls’ lives. Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “In a small Texas town, popular teen Kate, is abducted. Seemingly unrelated, a girl named Jeanette goes from being a sweet, awkward outside to the most popular girl in town, but by 1995 she has become the most-despised person in America.

Dark: S1 E1 – The hubby & I have decided to start watching this but have only seen one episode so I can’t say much yet. I’m certainly intrigued, though!! Very good first episode.

Nine Perfect Strangers: S1 E1-4 – My god – look at all these “adult drama” TV shows I watched in August! Not normally my type of thing. I’m liking this okay but The White Lotus was much better than what I’ve seen of this so far. Still interested to see what happens, though, and I think the acting is very good. I especially like Melissa McCarthy in this much more serious role & Bobby Cannavale. They’re really good so far. And I’m interested to see what will become of Regina Hall’s character (and all the guests, really).

Monsters At Work: S1 E6-9 – Yep – I love this show!! Said more about it HERE. Hope there’s a Season 2!

Steins;gate: S1 E1 – Decided to check out this anime series after really liking Erased. Well, the first episode hasn’t grabbed me. Will try a couple more…

The Crown: S4 E3-4 – Finally watching the Diana episodes I’ve been looking forward to for ages! I’m enjoying them but I don’t buy into the person playing Diana at all. Which is a shame.

TV Shows Rewatched:

Star Trek: The Next Generation: S1 – This is an all-time favorite of mine so am enjoying revisiting.

The Golden Girls: Various episodes – Can always stick on an episode of this to cheer me up. 🙂

Grey’s Anatomy: S1 – Daughter wanted to watch this as it’s her friend’s favorite show. Oh boy – I’d forgotten how inappropriate some of it is. But it’s rated 12, so, oh well – I guess I saw similar shows at her age. Anyway – I’ve watched this show for 17 years & have a love/hate relationship with it. Seeing Season 1 again was strange. It really was a better show at the start…

BOOKS READ

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (Four Story Collection: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, The Life Of Chuck, If It Bleeds & Rat)Oops. I read another Stephen King book… Well, I enjoyed it. I always love his shorter story collections. I’ll say just a tiny bit about each. Not sure what to rate it as it’s good but not as strong as some of his other collections. I suppose I’d give the whole thing this: – 3.5/5

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – Really liked this very simple story of a boy who gifts an iPhone to an elderly neighbour. But the story of course gets a little more weird later on…

The Life Of Chuck – Thought this three-part story (told in reverse order) was interesting. The first story was really good & very clever when you later realise what’s going on. The second story was okay & the final one was good with the right amount of creepiness but also strong characters & not a full-on “horror”.

If It Bleeds – This is a short story continuing on from The Outsider (which I actually didn’t like very much). However, it revolves around one of my favorite new Stephen King characters: Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes. She’s a love her or hate her & I love her so like that King keeps using her as well as other likeable previous characters. So I enjoyed this story mainly because I got to revisit these characters again.

Rat – This is the most “Stephen King” story about a writer (shocker! can’t remember if he was also in Maine…) who makes a deal with a talking rat when he wishes to write a successful novel. It’s a twist on The Monkey’s Paw and is a better story than you’d think it could be considering it has a talking rat. But King can write the weird stuff well!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

No plans for September but am considering doing October Horror Month again since I skipped it last year. But it would just be me reposting reviews of all the horror movies I’ve watched in the past year.

**I end these posts with a good song from one of the movies I watched but the Fear Street Trilogy & Cruella had LOADS of good songs! Well, I already posted David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World & I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges in those reviews. So here’s Time Of The Season by The Zombies (which was in Cruella):

The Fear Street Trilogy (2021) Review

The Fear Street Trilogy (2021)

Directed by Leigh Janiak

Based on Fear Street by R. L. Stine

Fear Street Part One: 1994

Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Maya Hawke, Jordana Spiro, Jordyn DiNatale

Fear Street Part Two: 1978

Starring: Several people from the first film plus Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, Ryan Simpkins, McCabe Slye, Ted Sutherland, Gillian Jacobs, Chiara Aurelia

Fear Street Part Three: 1666

Starring: Pretty much everyone from the first two films (even the dead ones, which is a little silly!)

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia – this is for the first one but covers all three films which are just set in different years):
The film follows a group of teenagers in Shadyside who are terrorized by an ancient evil responsible for a series of brutal murders that have plagued the town for centuries.

My Opinion:

Quicker to review these all together as it’s one overall story running through all three films. I can’t decide which was better: 1994 or 1978. I think maybe 1994 was the slightly better film but I enjoyed 1978 the most as I’m always a sucker for the ’70s & the ’80s and liked the (obvious) Friday The 13th vibe of being set in a summer camp. Wasn’t as crazy about 1666 and the dodgy accents they all had but I don’t usually like horrors set in that sort of time period as much. But I did like the end of that film & thought the whole story came together pretty well (although it was a bit silly), making it a better trilogy with a more coherent story than a lot of old slasher movies managed.

I’ll say this: Don’t be fooled by the R.L. Stine connection. This is NOT Goosebumps! I was surprised when I saw these were rated 18. Oh man, they are gory. They’re full-on slashers. They were a bit much for me (but I’m a wuss). I know I grew up on slashers (big fan of the Nightmare On Elm Streets) but I could always count on old gore looking super fake. Well, the Fear Street films do have that same fake kind of gore – I think I’m just more sensitive in my old age. They were fun films, though, and I appreciate them trying to do an old school slasher & doing a trilogy all at once was an ambitious risk that I think worked. The characters maybe could’ve been a little better but they were okay (I liked the nerdy little brother the most).

I started by giving the first two films a slightly higher rating. I may change my mind but I lowered them as I don’t think they’re quite as good as some other horrors of the last several years. To be fair, they can’t be compared to things like The Babadook or Midsommar as those are very different from the “slasher” horror genre. But, as I watched 1978, I couldn’t help but keep thinking of The Final Girls which is also set in a summer camp but is spoofing slashers & which I enjoyed much more. I do admittedly love horror comedies, which aren’t for everyone, but I feel the Fear Street movies may have been better with a bit of dark humor thrown in instead of being so serious. I’m fine with the first one starting out very much like Scream & the second being Friday The 13th as I know it’s an homage to those but some may instead see them as derivative. So I think “spoof” horror comedies work a little better as everyone understands exactly what those are trying to do.

Also, although I loved the music in the first two films, it was very overused. I think they wanted to prove what years they were set in so they used as many songs as possible from those eras. 1994 was interesting as I have a love/hate relationship with ’90s music (I appreciated the Radiohead). And I looooved the 1978 soundtrack. They prominently used David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World and I had that song stuck in my head for days afterward (which is good, as that song is awesome). So I personally appreciated the music (how could they afford the rights to so many songs?!) but don’t think the movies did a great job of making it seem like they were actually set in each of the years & relied too much on the cool music to tell us the era.

My complaints are minor, though, and I did enjoy this trilogy. It’s not trying to be some brilliant new horror – it’s just trying to make an entertaining old school slasher. The trilogy is flawed but fun. I do wish I liked the third film a bit more as it was kind of a letdown after the first two. But I’d watch more of these if they make more.

My Ratings:

Fear Street Part One: 1994 – 6.5/10
Fear Street Part Two: 1978 – 6.5/10
Fear Street Part Three: 1666 – 6/10

Here’s David Bowie’s brilliant The Man Who Sold The World:

Once Upon A Time In America (1984) Review

Bonus late review today! I’m trying to put together my August roundup post & ended up writing too much about this one. So I’m posting it separately. Sorry for the rubbish review of such a classic… (I didn’t love it).

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on The Hoods by Harry Grey

Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Tuesday Weld, Treat Williams

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Based on Harry Grey’s novel The Hoods, it chronicles the lives of best friends David “Noodles” Aaronson and Maximilian “Max” Bercovicz as they lead a group of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence as Jewish gangsters in New York City’s world of organized crime.

My Opinion:

Being stuck in bed recuperating after a hospital stay made me decide to finally watch this almost-four-hour epic because what the hell else was I going to do with my time? It’s also a part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge so it gets another movie crossed off of that list.

Hmm. I admit that I didn’t love this one but the gangster film genre has never been a favorite of mine. I did think The Godfather I & II were good but have had no desire to rewatch them. And I’ve never even watched Casino because the violence in that sounds far too extreme for me. So I’m admittedly not the best audience for this film, which was also very violent and, er, way more rape-y than I was expecting. This won’t pass the Bechdel test! But I don’t believe in art being forced to follow some bullshit rules – This is just a warning that women aren’t treated well in this film but it’s probably an accurate representation of these violent sort of men with no morals.

I did appreciate how much time was spent showing us De Niro’s character’s past and liked the part of the film focusing on his childhood & his criminal friends the most. And, hey – Brian Bloom was in this as one of his childhood friends! He was a heartthrob in all the teen magazines I bought in the ’80s but I knew absolutely nothing he’d actually starred in (I should point out that he was also in the ridiculous “horror comedy?” The Stuff, which was horribly bad but is more my type of thing than gangster films). You almost started to care about these guys after seeing them grow up together and somehow stay loyal to each other as they became partners in crime. Almost. The characters were all truly horrible human beings and I struggle with films that have no sympathetic characters. Actually, Fat Moe was okay. Yay, Fat Moe! He was kind of likeable. Unfortunately, De Niro lost any sympathy I may have had for his character after his final “date” with the girl he claimed to love (played by Elizabeth McGovern).

Sorry for the negative sounding review! This is, admittedly, a very good and well-made film. Sergio Leone was a brilliant filmmaker. Oh, and this once again had an Ennio Morricone score. Of course. So I was very happy about that as I’m a big fan. I should point out that I really like Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (especially The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) and also far preferred Once Upon A Time In The West to In America. And those certainly aren’t passing some stupid test gauging how female characters are treated either – they’re just much more my style and I think they’re damn good films. Was hoping to like this one as much as those but do think this is as good as all the best of the gangster films that have been made.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Cruella (2021) Review

Cruella (2021)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Based on The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mark Strong

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in London during the punk rock movement of the 1970s, the film revolves around Estella Miller, an aspiring fashion designer, as she explores the path that will lead her to become a notorious up-and-coming fashion designer known as Cruella de Vil.

My Opinion:

Hmm. I was all prepared to absolutely hate this. I’m not a huge fan of Emma Stone and I’m also really annoyed with them rehashing great animated Disney classics to make shitty live action movies (just to extend the rights to these characters for longer or whatever – I know it’s some greedy business deal thing like that). And I love One Hundred And One Dalmatians. Now I’m kind of annoyed that this movie didn’t totally suck. To be fair, I’ve not hated these “villain origin” stories quite as much as the completely pointless straight copies such as Beauty And The Beast. Heck, I kind of liked the Maleficent films. But I also don’t think we need a backstory to make us feel sympathy for the villains. Can’t they sometimes just be evil for no reason? Am I meant to like Cruella now even though she later wants to skin adorable puppies?! By the way, I had her reason for hating dalmatians ruined before seeing this. Oh man is it DUMB. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that bit at the beginning. But what I don’t understand is that she later finds out it’s not exactly what she thought so, by the end of the movie, she doesn’t really hate dalmatians so we still don’t have a reason as to why she later wants to skin them. So the start was pointless. WTF? Is she just plain evil after all? Stupid.

Okay – I still didn’t love Emma Stone but the outfits were fun and Emma Thompson seemed to be having a blast as a truly evil bitch and the soundtrack was awesome. Some of the song choices made no sense and some were so damn obvious it was almost embarrassing. But, dammit, some of my absolute favorite songs were in this. It annoyed me. Don’t taint good music!!! I won’t go listing them all but a few of the best were Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones (god that was obvious but goddamn it’s a good song), Time Of The Season by The Zombies & I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges (though performed by an actor – oh my god kind of an obvious choice but not really as slightly obscure and I love that song sooooooo much that I’m annoyed it’s been introduced to Millennials now thanks to Emma f*%king Stone!!!!). 😉 Honestly. Ugh. It’s like when the youngsters suddenly liked some ’70s songs after they heard them in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Old music is the best! It’s been around for years! Seek some songs out before they’re put into cheesy Disney movies!


*This part totally ripped off The Hunger Games, though*

So… I loved this soundtrack. And I’m annoyed that it was so good. It really did help elevate the film as I thought the story was pretty ridiculous and unnecessary. But the film’s look & sound were good. They did well with that. It was a much better movie overall than I’d been expecting it to be. Damn.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Gotta end this with I Wanna Be Your Dog by The Stooges (love Iggy Pop):

Fantastic Planet (La Planète sauvage, Divoká planeta) (1973) Review

Fantastic Planet (French: La Planète sauvage, Czech: Divoká planeta) (1973)

Directed by René Laloux

Based on Oms en série by Stefan Wul

Narrated by Jean Valmont

Music by Alain Goraguer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb):
On a faraway planet where blue giants rule, oppressed humanoids rebel against their machine-like leaders.

My Opinion:

Well, this was bizarre!! This is the strange sort of shit I’m always searching for as I get so bored with mainstream movies since I watch way too many. I’m not sure what the hell was going on but I liked it. I also think they had fantastic drugs in the ’70s to be able to make things like Fantastic Planet. I’m going to use several images in this post to give you a feel for this trippy animated film. Here you go:

This was released in 1973. It was made in France & Czechoslovakia, the language is French, and it’s based on the novel Oms en série by Stefan Wul. Okay, I got all that from Wikipedia as I don’t know how to go about discussing this film. So here’s a bit more from Wikipedia: “The film’s narrative has been considered to be an allegory about animal rights and human rights, as well as racism.” And the channel I watched this on had the description as it being an allegory about Communism. (FYI – it’s on the Roku channel in the U.K. if you’re interested).

Well, whatever your interpretation of this film’s story, I think it can be applied to many events throughout history and the horrible ways in which humans treat others who are different from them. Storywise, it very much made me think of a couple of classic Twilight Zone episodes as well as a bit of Stephen King’s Under The Dome. The story was fine but it was the look of the animation that I most appreciated. It very much has a late ’60s/early ’70s look reminiscent of Yellow Submarine and the Monty Python animations. And something about the whole thing overall kind of gave me The Man Who Fell To Earth vibes as well. So it was very much my type of thing but it’s not a film I could recommend to anyone other than serious film blogger types. Oh! And the music in this was groovy & funky so I enjoyed that too. It’s also a movie that would probably really benefit from being watched while high on the drugs from that era (but I’d know nothing about that – this came out just before was born). I think I was born too late – I should’ve lived through the ’60s & the ’70s. Everything was way cooler then.

Something that always bothers me now: Why did previous decades each have their own unique style while everything has been bland and boring and the same since the year 2000? I see no difference between 2001 & 2021. And I miss art. I just feel like nothing interesting like this gets made anymore. Hmm. Well, maybe there have been a few interesting, bizarre films in more recent years (pretty much always in the sci-fi or horror genres). I really liked the style of Under The Skin, Daft Punk’s Electroma, and especially Mandy. So maybe we still get strange, arty films sometimes. Anyway, I enjoyed this movie and am glad the hubby found it for us to watch as I had somehow never even heard of it and it’s the bizarre kind of stuff I like. It’s weird as hell but I’ll certainly not forget it and I always prefer that to the many bland & forgettable films that get made.

My Rating: 7/10

Man On Fire (2004) Review

Man On Fire (2004)

Directed by Tony Scott

Based on Man on Fire by A. J. Quinnell

Starring: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Giannini, Radha Mitchell, Marc Anthony, Rachel Ticotin, Mickey Rourke

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
In Mexico City, a former CIA operative swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.

My Opinion:

Okay, this certainly wasn’t the best movie I’ve seen in August but I probably enjoyed it the most. In many ways, it’s quite bad. Very cliché & predictable & all that. But Denzel Washington was as awesome as always (love him) and, yeah, I fell for the cheesy friendship that was so obviously going to form between him and Dakota Fanning, the young girl he’s hired to protect as she’s in danger of being kidnapped. The movie did that very well, though, and spent a long time showing their growing relationship and making us care about them instead of diving straight into the action. They had great chemistry, which helped make up for the characters of her parents (played by Radha Mitchell & Marc Anthony) being a bit rubbish. But it’s hard to live up to Denzel’s massive star power so it’s impressive that the very young Fanning held her own against him where most the adult actors couldn’t.

Christopher Walken was also good, as always, as Denzel’s old friend in this but I’d have liked to see much more of him as well as finding out more about their shared tragic past & what has made Washington’s character so broken. So, yeah – great development of the Denzel/Dakota friendship but really would’ve loved to have found out much more about Washington’s character. This movie is very much two movies: the first half sets up the characters & friendship while the second half is Denzel going on a bloody, violent, revenge-fuelled murderous rampage. Oh boy! He was PISSED OFF. So that was fun and exactly what people like in a revenge thriller.

I actually finally decided to watch this after seeing a Twitter thread showing movies with very different audience & critic scores (audiences loved Man On Fire & critics hated it). I always find that fascinating. I now see why there’s the difference on this one. No, it’s not a good movie. As I said, it’s very cliché & predictable & a little cheesy. It’s also fun and has some great characters plus who doesn’t love a good revenge thriller?? I’m a wuss with violence but find I can stomach it a bit more when it’s for a good reason. I wanted Denzel to kill all those evil bastards! And Denzel gives his all in this – he’s not one of these good actors who just phones it in when he’s not in one of his more “Oscar-worthy” films. It’s why I’ve never paid much attention to reviews from professional critics. Are movies not allowed to just be enjoyable sometimes? I enjoyed this. It had exactly what I expect from an action thriller plus it actually gave us far better characters than what we get in a lot of other films in this genre. Admittedly, though, Denzel (as well as Dakota) are what really make this one work. I don’t think the movie would be as popular with a different lead actor. Denzel was perfect for this film.

My Rating: 7/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: July 2021

Happy August! I’m very behind on this roundup. I’ve been in the hospital, though, so guess I have an excuse.

I managed to squeeze in 10 movies in July (plus 3 watched with the family). And one was started in June & I watched it in chunks over two months because I absolutely hated it (I can’t leave a movie unfinished). So here we go…

MOVIES WATCHED IN JULY (ranked best to worst):

Wings Of Desire – I’d been wanting to see this for years after liking its (sort of) remake City Of Angels. They’re very different films, though, and this is certainly the better film. I’ve reviewed it in full at the link if you want to read more but I’ll just say it’s a lovely & way existential film & I’m happy to have finally seen it. It also has a lot in common with another favorite I’ve watched for the first time since starting this blog: A Matter Of Life And Death. I highly recommend both to fellow movie bloggers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis for Wings Of Desire if you’re curious: “An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal.” – 8/10

VFW – From Wings Of Desire to VFW! I have well-rounded movie tastes. I really enjoyed this one despite the extreme violence. I just really liked this group of old dudes! Especially loved that William Sadler was in this & he seemed to be having loads of fun in the role. He’ll always be my favorite Grim Reaper! Stephen Lang is great in the main role as a tough Vietnam veteran who has to defend his bar slash VFW post from crazed drug addicts who are after a girl who has taken shelter in the bar. Lang is one of those guys who has been in shitloads but I never really noticed him until he played that freak in Don’t Breathe (which I didn’t love). He’s perfect here, though, and I loved the main friendship he had with fellow veterans Sadler & Fred Williamson. And as if these three aren’t cool enough, they also crammed in other “Hey, it’s that guy” actors as further fellow veterans forced to kick ass in as many violent ways as possible. We also have The Karate Kid & Cobra Kai big baddie Martin Kove, George Wendt of Cheers fame, and David Patrick Kelly from the absolute classics The Warriors & The Crow. Oh, and the girl in this, Sierra McCormick, was in a very obscure film that I liked a lot called The Vast Of Night so it was cool seeing her although her character could’ve been a bit more likeable. She should’ve been more grateful to these old dudes whose lives she’s put in danger.

VFW has real Hobo With A Shotgun, Dredd, From Dusk Till Dawn, and even a bit of The Crow vibes going on. So if you like those, you’ll probably like this! Although it’s quite not as good as those (well, maybe as good as Hobo). A few days after watching this I also realized what else it is: It’s an example of every day on Twitter. Honestly. It’s the Boomers vs the Millennials. I wonder if that was on purpose?? And, being Gen X, I did the same thing we all do and just minded my own business while watching these people fight it out. Was definitely with the Boomers on this one, though. Loved seeing them kick ass. – 7/10

Waves – This is one of those depressing movies with good & powerful performances that was worth a watch but I sure as shit wouldn’t want to watch it again. It’s an interesting one as it’s very much two movies in one. I think a lot of people prefer the first half but it was too much for me. The first half is very chaotic, intensified by the music which was seriously stressing me out and you could tell it was all leading up to something bad happening (but I liked the use of Tame Impala at the start). And why was everyone in this movie always sticking their heads out the windows of moving cars – Have they not seen Hereditary?! I preferred the second half, which focused on the characters trying to put their lives back together and had some tender moments. I liked the younger sister the most, played by Taylor Russell from Escape Room (which I enjoyed even though it was stupid). The father, played by Sterling K. Brown who I liked a lot in Hotel Artemis, was also good but man was he difficult to like. He was way too hard on his son (which was part of the point of the movie). Well, it’s a good film with very good performances and I’d recommend if you like depressing human dramas. Maybe don’t watch it as a double feature with Requiem For A Dream. That would be a fun night! – 7/10

Cherry – This was a weird one. I think I liked it okay? Despite none of the characters being very likeable or sympathetic. I felt like this movie was trying too hard to be “worthy”, though. I felt like it had a good story (from the book Cherry partly based on the real life of author Nico Walker) but failed to make what could’ve been a truly great film out of it. I think the Russo Brothers were the wrong directors for it. Holland was good despite looking way too young for the role and therefore being hard to believe. I reviewed it at the link if you want to basically just read more of me bitching about the stars looking too young. – 6.5/10

Upstream Color – Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Mainstream Color is a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? And what was up with the pigs?! Well, I talked about it a bit more at the link but I certainly have no answers. Here’s the IMDb synopsis so you know what you’re getting into if you check this one out: “A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.” – 6.5/10

The Empty Man – Hmm. I suppose this was pretty decent for a modern horror film. So many people were going on about it that I decided to check it out on Disney Plus. I thought it started out pretty great. I really liked the stuff at the start on the mountain & thought it was still pretty good when the teenagers first got involved in the next section of the film. The movie also had a great creepy vibe, partly thanks to the music I think, so I was glad I was watching it alone late at night & getting the heebie jeebies a little as I find so few horror movies to be very creepy. I like being creeped out! Give me a creepy atmospheric supernatural horror over gory stuff. I’d say one thing in this was too violent for my taste (not sure why that one person had to die so violently?!) but otherwise it wasn’t too over the top. I think it just fell apart for me at the end. It was a decent story & I was certainly intrigued as to what was going on but, I dunno. The ending was okay but I do feel let down by horror movie endings the majority of the time for some reason. I guess I’ve seen far worse endings. Overall, this was pretty good compared to most the modern horror crap out there. Oh! And I really liked that creepy skeleton in that image. Kind of a spoiler but not really – it’s at the start of the film & is also what convinced me to watch this when someone posted that image on Twitter. – 6.5/10

The Most Dangerous Game – Saw this pop up on Amazon Prime & was aware of the story by Richard Connell being a classic (inspired by those rich assholes who hunt big game) so thought the 1932 film should be interesting. Plus I really enjoyed the 2020 film The Hunt! Not that they’re at all similar, of course, but the “hunting of humans” idea is the same. This was good but I wish I’d just looked it up on YouTube (it’s available) as the one on Prime is a horrible colorised version. Why do they do that?! Anyway, it was still a good film even with dodgy coloring. It’s a timeless story & works just as well today. Maybe even more so now, as hunting big game is somehow still a thing. How?!? The thought of the tables being turned is great. This version stars Joel McCrea, Fay Wray and Leslie Banks. Hey! The King Kong actress! I should really watch that version again. Anyway, she was good and far less “damsel in distress” than you’d expect in such an old film. I kept thinking she really looks like Penelope Ann Miller – she could have played her in her life story. I think this film has actually aged quite well & would recommend watching the black & white version on YouTube. – 7/10

Rango – As part of my Best Picture Project, I also named several Best International Features that I want to watch as well as the only TWO Best Animated Features I’ve not seen. Rango was one of them (the other is Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which I can’t say I’m really looking forward to). Rango is a weird one! I enjoyed it & I liked some of the quirky & somewhat adult humor. Best Animated Oscar material, though?? Nah. Must have been no Disney or Pixar movies that year! Guess I better go look… Yep! That was the case. The other nominees were A Cat In Paris, Chico And Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Puss In Boots. Weak year! So I’d say, in this case, it was worthy of the win although my vote would’ve gone to Kung Fu Panda 2. But Rango was a fun film & I enjoyed Johnny Depp being his great old-school Johnny Deppiest as Rango (before all that Amber drama). And it clearly kept referencing the Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas look (right?), again reminding me that I still need to see that film as well. – 6.5/10

Stowaway – I liked this Netflix film. It could’ve been better but it certainly could’ve been much worse. I really liked the story & the moral dilemma that occurs, although having no explanation whatsoever as to how this guy ended up as a stowaway on this spaceship thingy was kind of strange. So don’t expect to find out how he ended up there! I thought it dealt with the overall story well, though, and I liked the characters and the ending. Plus I’m always a sucker for sci-fi. I don’t think it deserves as low of a rating as it has on IMDb. – 6/10

Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar – What the hell was this shit?! Man, I really don’t get on with modern “comedies”. To be fair, I did like these two main characters (played by Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo). They did make me giggle a few times & I thought “I wish these characters were in a better movie”. The story with the “baddie” was stupid as hell & my least favorite thing about the movie. It’s a very weird film, although I do like a bit of weird humor so didn’t hate all of it. Sometimes weird works & sometimes it doesn’t (like the dumb plot with the evil woman & Jamie Dornan’s stupid dance number). Meh. I guess I’ve seen worse. At least the two main characters were fun. – 5/10

Margaret – This was the movie I watched in chunks over two months because OH MY GOD I HATED IT but I had to finish the damn thing since I don’t like to leave movies unfinished. Is it a bad film? No. Does it have some of the most hateful characters I’ve ever seen in a movie? Yes. I have no desire to watch some horrible teenager be a complete bitch for TWO AND A HALF PAINFUL HOURS. Most everyone in this was hateful but Anna Paquin’s character really took the fucking cake. And I like Allison Janney & think she’s a good actress but that ridiculous overacting during the death scene was cringeworthy. I just didn’t understand most of these characters’ reactions or intentions, especially Paquin’s. What was she trying to accomplish?? The death was her fault as well (though more the driver’s as its his responsibility). Oh, the story is that she distracts a bus driver who ends up running over & killing a woman. Then Paquin is a complete bitch for the next two hours but doesn’t actually seem to feel any guilt over the incident anyway so god knows why she’s so utterly repulsive. Ugh. Hated this movie & these characters so much. I didn’t exactly love Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea either but it was much better than this. The people in that film were also horrible at times but at least you did feel sympathy for them and understood why they were so broken. Those in Margaret had no excuses for their awful behavior. I’ll never understand movies that want us to watch hateful, unsympathetic (and uninteresting) characters for two and a half hours. Two and a half hours!!!! Sorry I keep mentioning the length – it was just a looooooong & painful film to have to suffer through. I’m being nice with my score since, um, I dunno… He’s a “worthy” filmmaker so I don’t dare give it lower, I guess. – 4/10

Movies Rewatched:

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – What can I say? This movie came out when I was a teenager & I still love it & adore the characters of Bill & Ted. These dudes are so fun & loveably dumb. It’ll always be a favorite movie of mine. I don’t see how anyone could watch this movie without a big, goofy grin on their face. And I love that my daughter loves it too – she’s the one who insisted that we rewatch this one again. – 9/10

Independence Day – Always liked this film but hadn’t rewatched it in years. Has it aged well? Fairly well, but it does feel dated in that way that many ’90s movies do. I don’t know what it is, but ’90s movies have aged badly. People dump on ’70s & ’80s movies sometimes but the very best from those decades have held up very well and there are loads of absolute classics from then. Anyway, I still enjoyed this one again despite the cheesiness. I really liked this era of action-star Will Smith when he was in a lot of good movies. And I still like Brent Spiner in this, which made my Star Trek TNG-loving nerd very happy in 1996. Still a fun guilty pleasure. – 7.5/10

Shorts:

Short Circuit Shorts: Season 1– Watched all of these Disney Plus shorts & thought they were quite good. All were very colorful & had good stories. I especially liked Downtown, Drop & Jing Hua. Enjoyed these more than the SparkShorts & thought they seemed more polished than those (but I think that’s the point of those so I’m not dissing them). It was nice that each had a small intro with the creators discussing the shorts as well. I love all the shorts on Disney Plus & have watched them quite a bit. I sometimes wonder if anyone else watches them or if most just watch the films.

The Simpsons: The Good, The Bart And The Loki – This was cute. I’m enjoying these Simpsons shorts they’ve been doing on Disney Plus. The Star Wars one was better, though.

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

DOCUMENTARIES/MISCELLANEOUS:

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? – Enjoyed this documentary on Apple TV+. I’m a HUGE Peanuts fan. I liked that this documentary included a new Peanuts cartoon in between the interviews with people discussing what the comics meant to them. It’s an odd selection of guests and I know some people feel it has an agenda (I think the point, though, is that Peanuts had a wide appeal and many people were able to identify with at least one of the characters). I’m happy to know that my favorite, Drew Barrymore, is also a Peanuts fan as she was one of those being interviewed. And of course Kevin Smith is in this too – is there anything that dude isn’t a fan of?! I like Charles Schulz & he seemed like a good man with common sense beliefs.

I’m happy that one of the final things we did pre-pandemic was go to a great Charles Schulz exhibition up in London. It was brilliant & I got loads of photos of my beloved daughter with my beloved Snoopy. Also have a picture of me in Lucy’s “psychiatric help” booth thingy that I thought of posting here but I don’t know how to make photos not be HUGE and I don’t want to scare anyone with my huge not-properly-resized face. Anyway – that was a great time & I’m so glad we did that. I will always adore the Peanuts characters. And I think that Snoopy is one of the all-time greatest creations in this world. Love that cheeky beagle!

Anthrax Interviews – Thank you to the hubby for sending me a link that has a load of videos where Anthrax discuss their career. He sent it because of one video where Keanu Reeves discusses how he ended up in the Anthrax video Safe Home (you can find the article & links to that as well as all of the videos at Metal Sucks HERE). He knows I love Anthrax and Keanu! Really enjoyed watching that & Reeves is SO damn sweet & lovable as always. He’s such a lovely, positive dude & it’s great that so many people now realize it & that he’s so respected & liked now. (But he’s OURS – Gen X have always loved Reeves & we’re the ones who made him famous. Younger people can like him too but he’s OURS). 😉

I accidentally clicked the wrong link when looking for the Reeves video & ended up being treated to another fantastic video where they talk about doing the music for the John Carpenter movie Ghosts Of Mars. John Carpenter is also in the video talking about how he enjoyed working with Anthrax for the film and I loved how much the band were freaking out & being total fanboys about working with the brilliant Carpenter. Here’s the link to the Carpenter episode.

TV SHOWS WATCHED (not ranked in any specific order because I can’t decide the order since so many of these are good…)

Monsters At Work: S1 E1-5 – I’m enjoying this probably way too much for an adult. Well, for a person of adult age, I should say. It’s good!! I adore Monsters, Inc & Mike Wazowski is one of my favorite animated characters (helps that I love Billy Crystal). I really thought it would focus only on the new characters but we get loads of Mike & Sulley in each episode too. Yay! Plus, my favorite bit, Mike’s Comedy Class as an end bit to each episode. But the newly added characters are great too, so the whole thing works very well.

Sweet Tooth: S1 – As a family, we’ve really struggled to find one good TV series suitable for all of us. We also like stories that are a little “weird” or sci-fi and not very mainstream most of the time so it’s hard to find TV shows that the three of us like. Am so glad we gave this a try! Liked this a lot and we’re all really looking forward to the next series (well, think the hubby & I liked it slightly more than the daughter but she did enjoy it too). It’s about time Netflix gave us a show that’s not a huge disappointment! Well, Stranger Things was great for series one but then took a huge poop. Hopefully Sweet Tooth stays good…

Lisey’s Story – Okay, this was a weird one. I can see people not liking this but, having read and liked the book a lot, I would have said it would be an extremely hard story to adapt. To be fair, I think they did as well as they could with a very strange story. I’d obviously recommend the book first but did enjoy seeing this interpretation, especially the world of “Boo’ya Moon”. I thought that world was quite effective & eerie. So I enjoyed this but would very much hesitate to recommend it to anyone other than hardcore Stephen King fans who’ve read the book.

Ted Lasso: S2 E1-2 – So… I’ve had to cancel Apple TV+ to save some money. It’s why I quickly watched Lisey’s Story & the first two episodes of this. Broke my heart, as this show is so sweet & funny and always a good pick-me-up. 😦 I figure I’ll get it again in the future & binge all of season 2. The first episode with the dog incident was hilarious & I loved the Magnolia references.

Loki: S1 E5-6 – Enjoyed this series but still like WandaVision the most of the newest Marvel shows on Disney Plus. I’d say I liked the start of this series more than the end, but know the end is important for setting up the next movies & all that. But, not being a reader of the comics or having any knowledge of the “baddie”, it didn’t mean much to me. Still a good series, though, and not a snoozefest like The Falcon And The Winter Soldier.

The Crown: S3 E8-10, S4 E1-2 – I finally made it to the Diana episodes! They’re fine. As I’ve said, I don’t like this “second cast” at all compared to the first cast in the first seasons. The same goes for Diana – I don’t buy that person as Diana just because of a similar haircut & all the annoying head-tilting. But the story is still fascinating (despite not being fully true, I know I know) so I’m still enjoying watching it.

Grey’s Anatomy: S17 E14-17 – That was the end of the season?! Didn’t even realize I was watching the finale. No one died! None of the usual tragedies & cliffhangers!! Series 17: The Covid Series. What a drag that was! Hopefully this means they’re at least doing one more season since I doubt they’d end on such a dud.

My Hero Academia: S1 E1 – I’d forgotten we watched an episode of this to check the appropriateness for the kid. It was fine but am sure it gets better. May watch more but it’s Demon Slayer that I really want to watch (but that does sound way too violent to be a family-watch).

Toradora! – Just mentioning this as I’ve seen bits & pieces as my daughter watches it so much. Maybe I can get her to review it like she did HERE for Jungle Cruise! So I can’t say much as I don’t pay much attention. All I know is that the girl in it seems extremely high maintenance and everyone is SO dramatic in that way all anime teens seem to be. And one episode seemed to be about everyone obsessing over boobs as the teens all had to wear swimsuits for their boy/girl swimming classes so the material seems a bit iffy at times! Oh well. Teen issues & dramas, I guess.

Love, Death & Robots – S1 E3: The Witness – I hated this. I’ve only seen three of these episodes now & two of them were far too violent & gratuitous with the female nudity. Gross. Were these made by horny teenage boys? I wanted to watch cute & cool robots. Hell, this one didn’t even have any fucking robots!! This series has such a high IMDb rating but I have zero desire to watch more based on two of the three that I’ve seen.

BOOKS READ

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman – Look! I read something other than a Stephen King book! I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the film). But what really blew me away was the short story at the end of that book: Ghastle And Yule. Absolutely brilliant! I loved it so much that I tweeted the author about it (I never do that) and got a nice reply. So I’ve decided that I want to read all his stuff now (though his stuff isn’t always the easiest to get a hold of). After Bird Box I read Black Mad Wheel, from the library, and now this which showed up on Amazon for only £2 for the paperback. Good deal!

What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Work. Sleep. Watch movies.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Everything!!! 😦 The Suicide Squad, Jungle Cruise, Black Widow, Escape Room 2, The Forever Purge, A Quiet Place Part II which I think has come & gone plus whatever else is currently out & coming out soon. I’m not keeping track of cinema releases since I’m not ready to go back to cinemas & have people breathing all over me (to be fair, I wasn’t a fan of having people anywhere near me before the pandemic). But I really am missing new releases!

I suppose the music clip that I should end this post with today is Safe Home by Anthrax featuring the lovely Keanu Reeves:

My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults

I thought it would be a good time to repost this top ten for one of my all-time favorite movies, Stand By Me, as today would’ve been River Phoenix’s 51st birthday (R.I.P. – I’m still upset over that celebrity death). I’m reposting some of the posts I did for blogs that are no longer running. You can currently still see this original post at Silver Screen Serenade HERE.

I find it difficult to talk about my “all-time favorite movies” as I could never do them justice. So, like My Top Ten Star Wars Dismemberments post for Silver Screen Serenade, I decided to just do another Top Ten of a favorite movie of mine.

I’d like to say a little bit about this movie, though. Stand By Me is very special to me. I love movies (obviously) but there aren’t too many that I’ve watched over and over and over and over again. There were really only two that I re-watched to a slightly disturbing & unhealthy degree: Aliens & Stand By Me.

Both out in 1986, these movies came along at a time in my life when I was a latchkey kid & only child (well, I’m still an only child). Our house was also very cold so my routine went something like this during the winter months at the ages of 12-14: Get home from school, turn the heating on, stick Stand By Me into the VCR (if it wasn’t already in there), grab a blanket, sit right up against the heating in the wall, and watch the 90 minute Stand By Me which would finish just in time for the parent to get home. It usually took until the junkyard scene for our old heating to finally warm me up.

Anyway, it was Stand By Me until I discovered Aliens. And to this day I’m still in trouble for having that playing when my mom got home one time & walked in to see the chest-burster scene. God, it wasn’t even that bad! It was much more tame than the one in Alien. At least she never saw my next after-school obsession: A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Wow – I’ve just made my early-teen self sound really pathetic. At least I wasn’t drinking & doing drugs, right?! Or searching for dead bodies…

As for Stand By Me, I never got in trouble for watching that one. In fact, I made my mom & grandma watch it with me once and they loved it. Why? Because it’s really good.

You have Rob Reiner & Stephen King, my two favorite people in their professions. You have a coming-of-age tale (I’ve always liked those) with a group of friends who were the same age as I was when I first watched this (I had a crush on them all except Vern, of course). You have a great voiceover from Richard Dreyfuss, the always adorable John Cusack in a small role, and a beautiful, bittersweet ending that may have made me cry a few times (okay – it did). A movie’s ending is very important to me as I think so many get it wrong but the ending of Stand By Me is perfection (as is The Princess Bride’s – thank you, Rob Reiner!). Finally, I love the 1959 setting and the music that was chosen for this film (especially the title song). I think it’s something that helps Stand By Me feel timeless in a way and made it something that could be loved by an ’80s kid as well as by her mother and grandmother.

I did eventually stop obsessively watching Stand By Me but I’ll never forget walking back from a college party with a guy one night when he suddenly said “Did you hear that River Phoenix died?”. It wasn’t like now where you can easily go online to check so I hoped he was wrong until I later saw a news story confirming it was true. That will always be the one celebrity death that really upset me as he was kind of a big part of my own coming-of-age years. Phoenix was amazing as Chris Chambers, especially considering his young age, and I still wish we’d been able to see much more of his work.

Huh. I guess I actually said quite a bit about Stand By Me! One of the slightly shocking things about Stand By Me, at the time, was the amount of swearing. And I loved it. This is a coming-of-age tale involving a group of four small-town boys. Guess what? Boys actually swear & say horrible things to each other! These characters felt real to me – they weren’t made to be PG-rated characters we wouldn’t buy into. This was rated R, right? Pardon my French but that’s fucking ridiculous. This is a beautiful movie about life, death, friendship, and growing up. Every 13-year-old should see Stand By Me.

Now let’s take a look at some of the horrible things that young boys say to each other! Here are My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults:

10. Piss up a rope!

Okay – I’ve never been entirely sure if this an insult or even what the hell it means exactly. Gordie loses a card game & shouts “Piss up a rope!” so I was never fully sure if he was telling the other guys to do that or if it was a way of saying “Shit!“, Either way, I like it even though it doesn’t really make any sense.

9. You four-eyed pile of shit!

Full exchange:
Chris: You four-eyed pile of shit!
Teddy: A pile of shit has a thousand eyes.

With this one, it’s not the insult I like so much as the response. The two best characters, of course, are Wheaton’s Gordie & Phoenix’s Chris but Feldman was also great as the messed-up Teddy. He was slightly nuts & had some funny lines such as the one above, to the amusement of the other characters.

8. Then you won’t mind if we check the seat of your jockies for Hershey squirts, will you?

Full exchange:
Vern: I wasn’t that scared. I wasn’t. Sincerely.
Gordie: Okay. Then you won’t mind if we check the seat of your jockies for Hershey squirts, will you?
Vern: Go screw.

Ha! Hershey squirts. Pants-pooping! Hershey squirts is just a really funny thing to say…

7. I’m gonna rip your head off and shit down your neck!

Another Teddy line, this one isn’t funny but sad. Is it a horrible thing to say? Yes, but it’s a great Teddy moment and you can feel how upset he is when he says this to the man who has just called his father a “looney”. Seeing how these boys were all “damaged” in some way helped to make them all the more believable and helped the audience relate to and care about them.

6. You use your left hand or right hand to do that?

Full exchange:
Teddy: Okay, you guys can go around if you want. I’m crossing here. And while you guys are dragging your candy asses half way across the state and back, I’ll be waiting on the other side, relaxing with my thoughts.
Gordie: You use your left hand or right hand to do that?
Teddy: You wish.

Okay, I’m not sure if I entirely understood this one when I was young & watching this over & over again. But I think it get it now…. ! *no further comment*

5. Yeah, but you’re gonna be stupid for the rest of your life.

Full exchange:
Teddy: This is my age! I’m in the prime of my youth, and I’ll only be young once!
Chris: Yeah, but you’re gonna be stupid for the rest of your life.

This is actually a very sweet moment in the film & the line is delivered in a way that says “I love you guys but I can’t say that because we’re male so I’m going to tease you instead to show you that I care”. As the voiceover says “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?

4. Lardass! Lardass! (Boom-baba Boom-baba)

Again, it’s not so much the insult that I like in this case but the moment. I love this bit of the film. It’s so juvenile & immature but it’s exactly the type of story that I’d expect a group of 12-year-old boys to enjoy. And I love the disgustingly awesome revenge of “Lardass”.

3. Why don’t you go home and fuck your mother some more?

Is this an awful thing to say? Yes. Have I heard real-life boys say similar (and much much worse)? YES! Along with my number one choice, it’s an important part of the movie, though, which I’ll discuss a bit more when I get to that one…

2. I don’t shut up, I grow up. And when I look at you, I throw up!

Full exchange:
Teddy: You’re a real wet end, Lachance.
Gordie: Shut up.
Teddy/Vern/Chris: I don’t shut up, I grow up. And when I look at you, I throw up!
Gordie: And then your mother goes around the corner and she licks it up.

That final reply is good as well but I love the rhyming insult the three boys do together even more. Certainly much more innocent than the previous insult, I like the immaturity of this one and how it reminds us that these four boys are still just kids.

1. Suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood

Anyone who has seen this movie probably already knew that this would be number one. It’s good for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s not exactly the greatest ever insult. Suck my fat one? Cheap dime store hood?? Nice try, though, Gordie! It’s likely something he’ll have read in some sort of pulp comic of the time and he’s trying to sound grown-up by saying it. And unlike a lot of the other insults, it’s delivered with absolutely no humor. Along with my third choice, this is the climactic moment in which these four boys have to make a stand (by me! ha!). It’s one of the many “growing up” moments in the film and these young boys deal with this in the only way they really know how at this age (by telling people to suck their fat ones & to go and fuck their own mothers).

Well, hopefully you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Maybe someday I’ll manage to do a proper review of Stand By Me and try to explain why I still love it so much.

Jungle Cruise (2021) Review By The Kid

My kid watched Jungle Cruise with a friend yesterday. I’ve not seen it so asked her if she’d like to write a quick review for my blog. So here’s a 12-year-old’s opinion of Jungle Cruise… 😊

Jungle Cruise (2021)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Based on The Jungle Cruise by Walt Disney

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Édgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti

My kid’s review

short synopsis :
🌴🛳
lily houghton has a goal she’s trying to reach. she needs the tears of the moon to heal sicknesses, fevers etc. she steals the arrowhead, which helps her locate the tears, and sets off to find them. though others want the arrowhead as well and go after her. lily runs off looking for a cruise with a skipper and they make a swift escape 😁

my opinion :
👍👎
it was decent. it got a bit slow at times and i got a little bored during parts of it but big twists kept coming that stopped me from getting really bored ( even though i’m smart enough to guess the plot twists before they even happen because they’re all cliché 🙄 )

it could have been better though because lots of it was predictable and quite often the stuff would chop and change way too quickly and i’d look away for a few seconds then not know what was going on.

but overall it was decent and i give it a 6.5/10