Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2020

Hi all. Hope everyone is well & keeping safe.

I haven’t posted any of these monthly updates since February. Obviously, it all seems a bit pointless at the moment. I’m not watching many “new to me” films anyway since I seem to be sticking with movies I’ve already seen & know that I like or think the kid would like. I’ve still kept these monthly lists in my drafts, though, so I might as well catch up on posting them. I’ll keep my thoughts brief (I can’t remember much after five months anyway). Here’s what I watched & read back in March 2020…

MOVIES REVIEWED IN MARCH

Onward – Last film I watched in the cinema. I reviewed it in full at the link. Enjoyed it but a weak entry from Pixar. – 7/10

MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst)

This Boy’s Life – Been wanting to check this out for years to see the performances from Robert De Niro & a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Actually didn’t know beforehand that it was about author Tobias Wolff (played by DiCaprio). I then thought “Oh, I read his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test!” But, never mind, that was written by Tom Wolfe. I know nothing about Tobias Wolff (except that his stepdad, played by De Niro, was a bit of an asshole). Well, they both delivered the expected good performances but biographical dramas have never really been my thing. It’s a good film but not one I’d watch again. – 7/10

Four Flies On Grey Velvet (4 mosche di velluto grigio) – Was excited to see this Dario Argento film available on Amazon Prime as I’ve been wanting to explore more of the Italian giallo horror thing since finding Phenomena interesting then thinking Deep Red was pretty damn great. Was super disappointed that Four Flies was only available dubbed in English. Argh! I hate when films are dubbed. It’s distracting & definitely ruins the film but, meh – I was in lockdown so I watched it anyway. It’s certainly nowhere near the level of Deep Red or Suspiria. As usual, there was some imagery I liked (like that doll thing up there – I love a creepy doll thing & Argento clearly does too). Shit, I dunno – I remember almost nothing about this five months later whereas I remember all of Deep Red plus its brilliant score. At least the story was ALMOST coherent in Four Flies, which I can’t say for all of Argento’s stuff (especially Inferno, which is later in this list). It also had a truly silly but fun way in which the killer got discovered so I guess I’ll give it an extra point for that. But if you’re new to Argento just watch Deep Red, which is his most accessible film. – 6.5/10

All The Bright Places – I liked this YA novel a lot. I admit I read waaaaaay too many YA books but this was definitely one of my favorites when it comes to the romance/drama side of the genre. It had very strong characters & it left me feeling emotionally drained in a way that many YA books don’t manage as so many of them feel a bit shallow. So I highly recommend the book to fans of YA along the lines of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, etc. The film adaptation, though? Meh. Disappointing. I didn’t feel they captured the characters at all, especially the boy & it was extremely important to get him right. You can feel his pain & desperation in the book but the film character left me a bit cold. To be fair, I don’t think this is the actor’s fault as he’s such a complex character that they never would have been able to bring to the screen in the same way. Overall, it’s an okay film so I’m sure people like it but I know just how good the book is so I’m hoping people will read the book first. Then, yes, it’s worth seeing the adaptation afterwards if you’re interested. – 6.5/10

Dark Shadows – 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. – 6/10

Inferno (1980) – Again, I was excited to see a Dario Argento film was going to be showing on TV on Film4. I don’t have a way to record anymore so, as it was the start of lockdown & everything was shit, I was determined to stay up to watch this at its 1:30am showtime. Not worth it!! Damn. First of all, this was ALSO dubbed. What? Why?? Let’s be honest – only proper film nerds are gonna watch foreign films in the middle of the night and film nerds want subtitles. So, again, this will have hurt my enjoyment of this one. When I mentioned that Four Flies was somewhat coherent (as far as Argento films go)? Inferno was an incoherent mess. I don’t know what the fuck was going on, but of course it didn’t help that I was exhausted & worried about viruses at that point (well, I still am now). Anyway – I don’t think anyone watches Italian horror for a good story so I guess it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the imagery & bright red blood & supernatural weirdness. Again, there’s some good imagery in this one but not nearly enough to make up for how weak this movie is compared to Suspiria. Here’s a bit about it from Wikipedia: A thematic sequel to Suspiria (1977), the film is the second part of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy, though it is the first in the trilogy to explore the idea of the Three Mothers. The long-delayed concluding entry, The Mother of Tears, was released in 2007. Yeah, so this is sort of a sequel to Suspiria. Too bad it sucks. But it doesn’t sound as bad as the third film! Released in 2007? I’ll skip that one. Give me good old Seventies/early Eighties horror. At least this one is worth a try if you like Argento’s style as it’s still almost a 70’s film but with a weird ass early 80’s prog score from Keith Emerson. But at least that gives it a cheese-factor that often works for me personally. I kind of hated yet liked the score – I think I’ll add it to my playlist now & I bet it grows on me along with all the other horror scores I like to have creepily playing in the background while I work from home. Give me a Goblin score instead, though! Goblin are a huge part of the reason for Deep Red & Suspiria being the superior Argento films I’ve seen so far. Watch those. Only watch Inferno if you absolutely love Suspiria and want another witchy Argento fix but go in with very low expectations. And don’t watch it dubbed. I’m just too broke to watch films in the way I prefer. – 6/10

Rewatched:

As I said above, a lot of the movies I’ve watched during lockdown have been ones I’ve already seen. Comfort movies, I guess. And some have been ones I’ve wanted to introduce my daughter to, like all the X-Men films (which she LOVED). I better point out that she’s not seen Logan, of course – too violent. I don’t have the energy to write too much about all the re-watches. If I happened to have reviewed them in full in the past, I’ll include the review link.

Jaws – A classic. Still love it but not to the same degree that others my age do. You HAVE to admit it takes a while for this one to pick up. It only becomes truly great once the three guys go out on the boat together. From there, yes, it becomes a brilliant & iconic film. – 8/10

The Hunger Games – I reviewed all but the first Hunger Games film in full as I started this blog just as the first one came out. I should try to review it in full some day as it’s the best of the four (although Catching Fire is very good too). I think these films get some very unfair treatment and it’s likely only because they are part of the YA genre. “Young Adult” is a dirty phrase to people who have become far too judgemental & seem to think art shouldn’t exist for anyone under 25. There’s awful YA & fantastic YA. These books are great reads and the films are very good adaptations while Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as Katniss. Okay, I didn’t like the final book but I think everyone felt the same way about that one. It was a disappointing conclusion. You can’t say it wasn’t well-written, though, and you certainly can’t accuse her of selling out to keep fans happy in the end. It’s a strong series & will be seen as a classic in its genre. And I say this as someone who has also read & loved Battle Royale & its film adaptation. The stories are very different, with The Hunger Games exploring some pretty complex political themes for stories aimed at such a young audience. I actually read Battle Royale after liking that adaptation so much as I wanted a more in-depth look into the reasons why they made those kids kill each other but unfortunately didn’t get much more of an explanation than you get in the movie. So don’t start talking shit about The Hunger Games. For this genre, it’s a very good series. If you don’t like the books or films, it may be because they weren’t written for you. It doesn’t make them bad and, as far as the films go, Lawrence acted her ass off and the characters were far more well-developed & empathetic than in many films – especially Woody Harrelson as Haymitch (why can’t we get his story as a prequel??). – 8/10

Coming To America – Still think this is a pretty damn funny 80’s classic. They don’t make decent fun-but-dumb comedy anymore. Comedy movies are just plain dumb nowadays. – 7/10

50 First Dates – I’m Generation X so I’m not an Adam Sandler hater. It was cool for anyone younger than Gen X to hate Sandler until Uncut Gems. You know what? You’re not allowed to like him if you didn’t like him before Uncut Gems. You can’t suddenly claim him like you tried to claim Keanu Reeves. Reeves is ours and so is Sandler, whether he’s in a good movie or a bad one (and, yes, he’s been in some very BAD ones). Sandler was good in Uncut Gems but it was a thoroughly unenjoyable film. I just wanted it to finish (I really liked Good Time, though, FYI). Give me his “dumb” old comedies instead. The Wedding Singer is great and would probably be more universally loved had it starred someone else (maybe Paul Rudd? He seems acceptable to younger people). I also happen to think Big Daddy & 50 First Dates are good so these are my top three Sandler films. Admittedly, the rest start to go downhill but he’s still had more successful films than many actors, especially in the comedy genre, so he’s clearly doing something right. And I love Drew Barrymore as well & think they’re adorable together in this, The Wedding Singer, and even Blended. Drew is especially sweet in 50 First Dates – she elevates this one quite a bit & is the true star of this film. You keep making films, Adam! I’ll watch them. Even when they suck. Just drag Drew into them when you can – they turn out much better than the ones you do with Jennifer Aniston. – 7/10

Click – Um, Click wasn’t as good. Its heart was in the right place (all about appreciating what you have in life & all that). But the comedy didn’t work as well & got too dumb at times. It also felt like it carried on for too long (too lazy to go check the runtime but it felt too long). However, Christopher Walken was a welcome kooky addition, as he is in everything he’s ever in. So I’ll give it an extra half a point for that. And also for the dog always humping that toy. Sometimes dumb comedy works, such as dogs predictably humping things. – 6/10

MUSIC, BOOKS, TV, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

MUSIC LISTENED TO

Joe Hisaishi – Dream Songs: The Essential Joe Hisaishi – What can I say? I ADORE Studio Ghibli. But I won’t go into that as I’ve gone on & on about Studio Ghibli so much on this blog. So of course I love this album as so much of it is the music he composed for Ghibli films. He’s a genius. He should be more well known (Well, he’s probably huge in Japan? What do I know!). Special shoutout especially to Hisaishi’s music for My Neighbor Totoro & Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind. Gorgeous. Also my two favorite Ghibli films. The music in a film is very important to me, so it’s probably not a coincidence that they have the best scores as well. He’s to Ghibli what Morricone is to Leone’s films (to me, at least). Perfection.

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream – This is a heavy metal album with each song being about a different horror film. It couldn’t be more perfect for me & my interests & this silly blog! I really like this album, although it’s heavier than the classic type of metal I tend to go for. I just wish I’d known about it last October when I did what will probably be my last ever October Horror Month on this blog. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a proper post on this blog again or if I’ll even post anything else at all after this but this album needs its own specific post. There’s too much to cover, as I’d like to discuss each song as well each of the movies the songs are dedicated to (many of them, such as A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Shining, The Crow & even the not-so-horror Edward Scissorhands being absolute favorite films of mine). So, I’ll make no promises but I’ll try to discuss this album in full sometime. Probably in October while everyone is watching horror movies. I recommend this album to heavy metal horror movie lovers. Thanks to the guy who recommended this album to me! It’s so me. (I thanked him in real life since he’s a real life person – I won’t pretend I discovered this album on my own).

BOOKS READ

Dune by Frank Herbert – I started this at the beginning of lockdown as I obviously wanted to finally read it before the Denis Villeneuve adaptation. It took me several months to finish as I couldn’t concentrate. I did really like it – Life is just very distracting at the moment. I’ll write a bit about it in June’s roundup post, as I think that’s when I finished it.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Like reading books, I’m also finding it hard to concentrate on TV shows at the moment. I’ve still watched only an episode or two of each of these.

Locke & Key – Love Joe Hill’s books & especially his short story collections. Not read the graphic novel this is based on, however, but the story is intriguing. I’d like to read it first. So far, I’m liking the show but I find it far easier to watch a movie than to try to finish an entire series of something. How on earth do people manage to binge watch an entire show over a weekend?? I feel like I’m busier than I’ve ever been. I’m exhausted.

The Storyteller – This is weird as shit! It’s a Jim Henson show from the late Eighties narrated by the brilliant John Hurt and I’d somehow never heard of it. I watched only one episode (Hans My Hedgehog). It was bizarre & creepy and I’m pretty sure it gave me nightmares that night. I’d forgotten I’d watched this. I want to see the rest.

Parks & Recreation – Watched a couple episodes. It’s just okay? Am I the only person who doesn’t love TV shows from the last 20 years?

The Creeps – Watched a few episodes of this Goosebumps-like show with the kid. I’m a lover of weird & bizarre stories, especially with a twist, and I’m always trying & failing to get her to also fall in love with things like The Twilight Zone. She liked this show okay. Think Black Mirror but for kids. But it’s not great. And it’s certainly no masterpiece like The Twilight Zone.

Love, Death & Robots – Watched two or three episodes. Sounded like the EXACT thing the hubby & I would love (sci-fi & robots!!!). We weren’t impressed. And one episode was so over-the-top gory and unnecessarily sexual. Hubby said something along the lines of how it felt like it was made for horny 13-year-old boys (he’ll say I’ve misquoted him when he reads this). That’s accurate, though. Maybe the other episodes are better but what I’ve seen so far was a bit pathetic. How can they fuck up a show about robots?! Robots are awesome! Dammit.

BLOG PLANS FOR AUGUST

I’ll try to do a weekly post of my monthly roundups for April, May, June & July but I’m making no guarantees.

Upcoming Movies I Want To See (I made this list in February so I’m leaving it here for myself as I’ve still not seen even the ones that did get released. I can’t remember what half of these are now…):

The Invisible Man, Dark Waters, The Hunt, Swallow (looked interesting), VFW (what the heck is this?),The New Mutants (ha! will this ever see the light of day?), The Secret Garden, Trolls World Tour (oh god no – why is this listed?! the first one was bad enough), Antlers, Promising Young Woman (don’t remember this), Dream Horse (nor this), Proxima, Finding The Way Back (nor this), Antebellum (nor this), A Quiet Place Part II (still want to see this as really liked A Quiet Place)

Here’s Joe Hisaishi’s beautiful Path Of The Wind from My Neighbor Totoro:

Watched, Read, Reviewed: October 2019

Happy (middle of) November! As I did October Horror Month again this year, I only reviewed horror movies in October. However, I did watch some non-horror throughout the month as well. As most of my horror reviews were reposts & reblogs, I’m only listing those below that I reviewed for the first time in October. (The Princess Switch feels very out of place in this list!)

MOVIES IN OCTOBER

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) – 8/10
Doctor Sleep – 8/10
Ready Or Not – 7/10
Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – 7/10
Zombieland: Double Tap – 7/10
The Legacy – 6/10
The Addams Family – 6/10
Shocker – 5.5/10
The Stuff – 5/10
In The Tall Grass – 4/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Yojimbo – I bought an Akira Kurosawa boxset years ago and have been meaning to get around to watching more of his work as I love what I’ve seen so far. Ikiru & Rashômon are brilliant and Seven Samurai is a masterpiece. Yojimbo is also in the IMDb Top 250 so I might review it as part of my Top 250 Project. I was hoping to instead devote a couple of weeks to Akira Kurosawa on my blog but I think my blogathon days are over. I really enjoyed Yojimbo, even though I’d already seen the same story in Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dollars. Which, apparently, didn’t originally credit Kurosawa & the other writer Ryūzō Kikushima. Naughty! (There was a lawsuit). Anyway, both films are great as the story is so damn good. I of course have to go with Yojimbo as it’s definitely the superior film but can see why it was made into a spaghetti western since the story was just as perfect in that setting. I highly recommend Kurosawa’s films to anyone who hasn’t seen any. Maybe I’ll manage to review his movies someday but I sure I wouldn’t be able to do them justice. – 8/10

Doctor Sleep – 8/10

The Great Adventure Of Horus, Prince Of The Sun (aka The Little Norse Prince) – As this is sort of a pre-Studio Ghibli film, I’ll try to do a full review of it at some point. I adore Studio Ghibli. This was made by Ghibli co-founders Isao Takahata (director) & Hayao Miyazaki (scene design & key animation). It’s a much older film, released in 1968 (17 years before the founding of Ghibli). However, it certainly shows the beginnings of the Ghibli style and has some of that great magical fantasy vibe that Miyazaki perfected in his Ghibli years. It’s not perfect but I enjoyed it and would say I liked it more than some of the non-Ghibli anime I’ve tried. I guess I just love Miyazaki’s style. The characters aren’t as strong as in Ghibli movies and it doesn’t have the beautiful weirdness of the Ghiblis but it’s a promising start and a fun story. – 7.5/10

Judy – 7.5/10

Joker – 7.5/10

Ready Or Not – 7/10

Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil – 7/10

Zombieland: Double Tap – 7/10

Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10

The Princess Switch – This was fine. My daughter had watched & liked it so I agreed to watch it with her one night. It’s a wholesome chick flick that’s predictable as F*^K but it won’t do anyone any harm. My daughter was amazed when I predicted the ending within the first ten minutes. Poor kid – I told her that her mom just watches many movies so tends to know how these sort of plots go. She probably thinks I’m a pain in the ass. Anyway, I sort of liked this predictable cheese. We all need some predictable cheese sometimes. And I’m not gonna lie – I’m SO going to be watching The Princess Switch: Switched Again when that comes out. And if there’s a surprise ending that I don’t predict within the first ten minutes, I’ll want my money back. – 6.5/10

The Addams Family – 6/10

The Legacy – 6/10

Shocker – 5.5/10

The Stuff – 5/10

In The Tall Grass – 4/10

Re-Watched:

Wayne’s World – I’m not going to do a mini-review for this movie. If I ever do review this, it needs a full post. This movie is and always will be an all-time favorite of mine. It speaks to me. It’s from my era, set close to where I grew up, I love the same music they do, I knew people exactly like Wayne & Garth, and it’s one of very few movies that I truly find funny. Okay – and I am the female equivalent of Garth Algar. I was a metal-loving, socially awkward nerd who could never talk to my crushes. I had similar hair. And I still wear Converse at all times (well, outside of work). This is the movie that I quote more than any other. I think it’s brilliant and if you badmouth it, you’re on my Shitlist and we can’t be friends. Anyway – I watched this once again the other day as my daughter loves it. She also loves Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. YES! Believe me – she doesn’t just humor me as she dislikes plenty of favorites from my teenage years. I take it as proof that these two films are timeless classics. Yes, I’m serious. Wayne’s World is a comedy classic. It deserves more love. – 9/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Holy SHIT it’s never taken me so long to finish a book. It took months. What a slog. To be honest, it’s a good book. I suppose. At least, the story itself was good. It just honestly didn’t need to be so long. I wouldn’t have minded if the characters were more likeable but, after THAT many pages, you’d think you’d connect with or at least care about the main character. I can’t say that I cared although I did feel a little sorry for him & what he’d been through. His time in Las Vegas especially dragged. Good god. Luckily his friend Boris was highly entertaining, which helped keep me going along with wanting to find out what the hell was gonna happen with The Goldfinch painting. Apparently the movie was boring as hell too according to reviews. That’s a shame, as I think there’s enough content here to make a decent film. – 3/5

In The Tall Grass by Stephen King & Joe Hill – 2/5

Currently Reading The Institute by Stephen King – I’m really enjoying this one so far. I’ll probably be finished by the time this posts so I’ll review it soon.

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Er, The Walking Dead has started up again. I watched an episode. Or did I watch two? Hard to keep track since nothing ever happens in this fucking show anymore. I know I need a new show to watch but don’t have the time to devote to anything new. What I miss are half hour sitcoms. Why don’t they make sitcoms these days?! I watch worthy enough films – I want lightweight TV so I can switch off my brain. But NOT reality bullshit. A good old sitcom like Seinfeld. Or Friends. Yeah, I like Friends – I’m not one of these anti-Friends snobs! Anyone have any recommendations??

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

November already?! Shit. I’m not ready for Christmas. It’ll be a quiet month on the blog as I’ll be too busy to do many posts. I’ll try to do a post for my 7-year blogiversary at the end of the month.

November Releases I May Want To See: (wow – a lot coming out!)

Brittany Runs A Marathon – Meh. Definitely one to wait for on Netflix.

The Aeronauts – This one looks… Odd. As in, it may be brilliant or it may be a steaming pile of shit. Can’t call it from the trailer.

Midway – War stuff. I’ll probably wait for Netflix. Never a favorite genre of mine, although I’ve loved a few war movies.

The Good Liar – Oh, this looks exciting from the trailer! I do love Helen Mirren & Ian McKellen. Proper ACTORS! Want to see this. (It’s out now. Damn – reviews aren’t good).

Luce – Don’t know much about this. Looks like it may be another one to wait for on Netflix.

Driven – Another one I don’t know anything about. Meh.

Le Mans ’66 – Is this seriously called Ford v Ferrari in America?? That’s a better name. Doesn’t really look like my type of thing but the trailer does look good. Want to see this.

Last Christmas – I’m not a big girly movie girl but do enjoy these kind of films when they’re decent. Plus this has the hot husband from A Simple Favor & Crazy Rich Asians. I’d be a liar if I said I had no interest in seeing this. Looks fun. (This is out now too and also has bad reviews. Damn!!)

Little Monsters – Another zombie comedy horror?? I’ll definitely watch this as it’s a sub genre I really enjoy. Sad to see the reviews aren’t the best.

The Report – I’m sure this will be decent but these kind of dramas are SO not my thing. I tend to only watch them if they end up being nominated for lots of Oscars.

Frozen II – Oh, I’ll definitely go to this. I happily admit that I still think Frozen is great. My daughter is getting to the age where she’s pretending she has no interest in going to see Frozen II. Think she’s slowly changing her mind…

Greener Grass – And another I know nothing about. I need to watch some trailers. It says it’s a comedy so, who knows? I hate most modern comedies.

21 Bridges – Cop drama? Again, not really my thing. Will see what reviews are like.

Judy & Punch – Maybe a Netflix watch.

Ophelia – Again, one for Netflix but would like to check out Daisy Ridley’s performance.

Knives Out – This is the one I’m most looking forward to in November. Hope it’s great! Love the star power in it.

Charlie’s Angels – Meh. May wait for Netflix. Give me Drew Barrymore instead!

Jay And Silent Bob Reboot – I’m middle-aged. I’ll of course watch this Kevin Smith film.

The Nightingale – A horror from the director of the brilliant The Babadook?? DEFINITELY want to see this.

I’ll end this post with with Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I thought Judy was a great film and I’m very glad I watched it.

2019 October Horror Month Roundup & My Top Ten

Happy Halloween! I’ve enjoyed doing Halloween Horror Month yet again but this was probably my last year. It’s too time consuming plus I’m now way behind on reviewing current non-horror movie releases. I’ve also once again watched WAY too many bad horror movies in the past year. Of those below, I only really loved the top two and thought the next few were quite good. The rest of the Top Twenty were decent enough to pass some time but my life would still be complete if I’d seen none of the rest (it might even be better!). I also have a few thrillers as well as full-on horrors on this list.

So, counting down to my favorite, here’s my ranked list of the 43 horrors & thrillers I’ve watched & reviewed since last October:

43-31:

43. Starry Eyes
42. In The Tall Grass
41. Better Watch Out
40. Winchester
39. Bird Box
38. Ghost Stories
37. Cam
36. The Love Witch
35. The Stuff
34. The Funhouse
33. Amber Lake
32. Unsane
31. Slaughterhouse Rulez

30-21:

30. Suspiria (2018)
29. The Sentinel (1977)
28. Shocker
27. The Monster (2016)
26. American Mary
25. The Legacy
24. The Addams Family (2019)
23. Happy Death Day 2U
22. Breaking In
21. Truth Or Dare

20-11:

20. Crawl
19. Curtains (1983)
18. Brightburn
17. Annabelle Comes Home
16. Repulsion
15. Greta
14. Zombieland: Double Tap
13. Pet Sematary (2019)
12. Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil
11. Searching

Top Ten:

10. Single White Female

9. Ma

8. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

7. Ready Or Not

6. Child’s Play (2019)

5. Us

4. Midsommar

3. It Chapter Two

2. Doctor Sleep

1. Deep Red (Profondo Rosso)

I did also do (very brief) reviews of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep novel and King & son Joe Hill’s short story In The Tall Grass HERE.

I keep using Deep Red imagery in this post because it’s awesome. As is the fantastic Goblin score…

Now I can move onto reviewing the non-horror 2019 releases that I saw in the past two months. Here’s what I’ll try to review over the next month:

Hustlers – 7.5/10
Judy – 7.5/10
Joker – 7.5/10
The Farewell – 7.5/10
I Am Mother – 7/10
Terminator: Dark Fate – 6.5/10 (My review for this is written – I’ll post it tomorrow)

*Yeah, I finally got myself an Unlimited cinema card. I watch way too many movies…

Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) (1975) Blind Spot Review

Deep Red (1975)
Italian: Profondo Rosso
(aka The Hatchet Murders)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Macha Meril, Eros Pagni,Giuliana Calandra

Music by Goblin & Giorgio Gaslini

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Deep Red stars Macha Meril as a medium and David Hemmings as a pianist who investigates a series of murders performed by a mysterious figure wearing black leather gloves.

My Opinion:

Happy Halloween! I thought I better finally review one of my Blind Spot choices this year so it seemed like the perfect time for Dario Argento’s Deep Red. I do try to explore a little bit of most every genre of film but my knowledge of the Italian Giallo horror thing is severely lacking. This is my third Giallo horror and I’ve only seen Argento’s movies so far; Suspiria, which I saw years ago and should really watch again, and Phenomena as a Blind Spot a few years ago. While I still think Suspiria is the best mainly due to being so iconic (and having that amazing Goblin score), Deep Red may actually be the more “enjoyable” and certainly the more accessible film. If someone was entirely new to this genre and wanted a good film to start with, I’d probably recommend this before Suspiria just because it’s a much more straightforward murder mystery and far less strange. Both are absolute must sees for film fans, though – Deep Red is just an easier starting point.

I’ll start with the obvious things that made this such an enjoyable watch for me personally: The look & the imagery, the atmosphere, and the score. These are extremely important elements to me when it comes to all films but especially for horror. I admit that I’m old but there’s just something special about the look & feel of Seventies & early Eighties horror movies that very few modern horrors manage to achieve. We do occasionally get some good ones now but it’s interesting how often they try to copy the look of old films. It never quite works, though. I appreciate things like The House Of The Devil trying to look like a Seventies or Eighties film but no modern movies ever manage to fully capture that mood and it always just feels like modern actors playing dress up (true for non-horrors too, such as American Hustle). Deep Red has a brilliant Seventies vibe. The clothing! The awful hair! The ugly decor! A stunning & creepy old abandoned mansion! Then we also get some amazing imagery, some of which I’ve posted but others that I can’t due to spoilers. We get a couple of creepy dolls (I love creepy dolls!), lots of that super bright red blood they seemed to use in Italian horror, a big sharp knife in a famous spoiler image, funky artwork on the walls, and closeups of the killer’s eye and the killer’s strange trinkets.

The imagery is fantastic but the score is just as important for setting the mood in this sort of film. I don’t know why modern movies so often seem to care so little about the score. A great score can turn a movie I like into a movie I love. Hell, I know I rated The Good, The Bad And The Ugly much more highly than I would’ve without Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece score (Italians do it better! Wasn’t that on a Madonna t-shirt?!). Goblin did the Deep Red score and I already love it along with the soundtracks for Suspiria and Dawn Of The Dead (1978), an all-time favorite film of mine. Many of my favorite films also have brilliant scores so I do think the music is important. I’ve added a clip of this Goblin score at the end of this post. Goblin feature heavily on my phone’s playlist. I know the scores to these Argento movies better than I know the movies themselves. I now want to watch every single movie that has a Goblin score (but I think a lot of them are very obscure and I’m sure the music is much better than the films).

Atmosphere & music aside, Deep Red also has a decent murder mystery as well as some good characters. David Hemmings is good and I enjoyed watching him investigate these murders, especially when he explores a lovely old mansion as the main Goblin theme below plays. Daria Nicolodi is great as the female reporter who joins Hemmings in his investigations. The two had really good chemistry and I liked her sassy attitude. She added a bit of humor to the movie, which I wasn’t expecting in a Dario Argento horror. So, while I personally always prefer the supernatural and things like witches in Suspiria to murder mysteries, I can see plenty of people actually preferring Deep Red. I’m not sure why it doesn’t seem as popular or quite as well known as Suspiria? I think Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso) is a brilliant horror classic and I’d recommend it to anyone curious about this genre. I’m glad I finally watched it as I’ve seen way too many bad horrors in 2019. Deep Red is by far my favorite of those I’ve watched in the past year.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s part of the fantastic Goblin score. Love it. I wish movie scores were still as brilliant as they were in the Seventies & Eighties…

**As this posts, I’ll be watching Doctor Sleep. I’ll try to do at least a quick review by the end of today, although I may not have time. I love Stephen King and have very high hopes based on the trailer…

Suspiria (2018) Review

Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-review of (well, it’s more of a rant about) the pointless 2018 remake of Italian horror classic Suspiria

Suspiria (2018)

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

Based on Suspiria by Dario Argento & Daria Nicolodi

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler, Alek Wek, Ingrid Caven, Elena Fokina, Sylvie Testud, Renée Soutendijk, Christine LeBoutte, Fabrizia Sacchi, Małgosia Bela, Jessica Harper, Chloë Grace Moretz

Music by Thom Yorke

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Suspiria is a 2018 supernatural horror art film directed by Luca Guadagnino with a screenplay by David Kajganich, inspired by the 1977 Italian film of the same title directed by Dario Argento. Guadagnino’s film, which is set in 1977, stars Dakota Johnson as an American woman who enrolls at a prestigious dance academy in Berlin run by a coven of witches.

My Opinion:

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Okay, I admit I’ve only seen the original Suspiria once and don’t remember much other than the Goblin score, which I fricking love and listen to regularly. I know I liked the overall vibe. I really should watch the film again. Italian horror is one of the very few genres I’ve not yet really explored. This remake is an incoherent mess. It’s laughable, especially in the final half hour. At least I was “rewarded” with a good laugh over the ending’s absolute ridiculousness after suffering through this otherwise boring thing for HOURS (2 hours & 32 fucking minutes!!!).

Why do they keep remaking films that are considered classics?! WHY?!? I don’t get it. I understand that there are fans of the giallo horror thing but don’t understand why, if people want a 2018 giallo movie, filmmakers can’t just make an original film with the same characteristics???? I’d totally watch that. Why shit on a classic’s legacy?

I think this was also disappointing as the trailer and especially the above poster (which is great!) almost made this look promising despite it starring Dakota Johnson. As much as remakes & reboots piss me off, I admit that they occasionally work and have even liked a few. I’m a fan of 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead even though the 1978 film is one of my all-time favorite movies, probably because it wasn’t a straight remake but more of a respectful & enjoyable reimagining. It almost felt as if 2018 Suspiria had zero regard for what made the original such a beloved classic for many horror fans.

I’ve read no reviews of this version but am *assuming* that those who love the original hated this and those who loved this hated or probably didn’t even see the original. I’d like to hear from anyone who loves both versions of Suspiria – I’d love to know the reasons why. I saw so many people on Horror Twitter raving about this remake so I’m actually quite confused as I thought it was a dreadful mess. Give me Mandy instead of 2018 Suspiria! It’s hard to not compare the two as they’re both pretentious artsy horror films that came out the same year and are both extremely divisive. Mandy is weird as hell but has originality and style. Suspiria tries too hard and just comes across as desperate and phoney.

I should say something nice… Um. I think Thom Yorke was a great choice to do the music for this and was one of the reasons I wanted to watch the film. The music starts out promising in the very beginning but then I no longer noticed it. I don’t know if there was less music in the second half or if I just no longer noticed it as I slowly lost the will to live. But nothing will EVER beat the original’s Goblin score anyway so why bother.

My Rating: 4.5/10

My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores & Soundtracks

A movie’s score and/or soundtrack of songs is extremely important to me as I think the right music can make a good movie into a great one or even a bad movie into a cult classic. When you think of the biggest Oscar films, almost all of them had award winning scores from highly respected composers. When I think of my own personal all-time favorite movies, the majority have brilliant scores that helped to suck me into that magical movie world that only the very best composers can help create. Can you imagine The Good, The Bad And The Ugly without Ennio Morricone’s amazing score?? (No. You cannot.)

I’m very picky when it comes to the horror genre & have loved very few horror films since the 70s & 80s. I do find it interesting that most of my all-time favorite old horrors are on this list of scores, though. It goes to show that they used to put so much more effort into these films than they do now, even down to the scores (but I do have a couple fairly current films on the list too). I think the score is even more important in horrors as the mood & atmosphere are fundamental to this genre. I don’t understand why so many modern horrors put so little effort into using a score effectively to create the right mood. Oh well – this genre is showing more promise again so maybe we’ll see a return to great horror scores.

More than anything, I love a good musical score that has been composed for a film but do also appreciate when a soundtrack of great songs, whether existing or new, are put together for a movie’s soundtrack. So my top ten will consist of scores but there are a few horror soundtracks that I really love so I didn’t want to exclude them.

Here are a few Horror Movie Soundtracks That I Love:

Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Composer: AC/DC

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Composer: Danny Elfman

The Lost Boys (1987)
Composer: Thomas Newman Score/Various Artists Soundtrack:

Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Composer: Tyler Bates Score/Various Artists Soundtrack

And now onto My Top Ten Horror Movie Scores (and their composers):

Honorable Mentions:

The Fog (1980)
Composer: John Carpenter
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Composer: Krzysztof Komeda
The Shining (1980)
Composer: Wendy Carlos/Rachel Elkind
The Omen (1976)
Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Top Ten:

10. It Follows (2014)
Composer: Disasterpeace

9. Suspiria (1977)
Composer: Dario Argento/Goblin

8. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Composer: Charles Bernstein

7. Psycho (1960)
Composer: Bernard Herrmann

6. The Thing (1982)
Composer: Ennio Morricone/John Carpenter/Alan Howarth

5. Jaws (1975)
Composer: John Williams

4. 28 Days Later… (2002)
Composer: John Murphy

3. The Exorcist (1973)
Composer: Mike Oldfield

2. Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
Composer: Goblin/Dario Argento/De Wolfe Music Library

1. Halloween (1978)
Composer: John Carpenter

Phenomena (1985) Blind Spot Review

Phenomena (1985) (aka Creepers)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Donald Pleasence, Patrick Bauchau

Music by Goblin, Claudio Simonetti, Bill Wyman, Simon Boswell, Pina Magri

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Phenomena is a 1985 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento and starring Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, and Donald Pleasence. Its plot focuses on a young girl at a remote Swiss boarding school who discovers she has psychic powers that allow her to communicate with insects, and uses them to pursue a serial killer who is butchering young women at and around the school.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Phenomena:

8. Phenomena – ?
7. An Education – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I don’t have any experience with any Dario Argento films besides Suspiria or with any of the Italian “giallo” films. I’ve thought about exploring them but am pretty sure I’d find them too graphic – they don’t really look like the sort of thing for me. So this is written by someone with very little Argento knowledge & I have no idea if Phenomena is typical of his usual work or not.

This movie appealed to me as I of course like Labyrinth-era Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence is pretty cool, the plot sounded interesting, and I’m a sucker for good cover art & like the above poster. Oh, and it’s from 1985. I’ve been wanting to see this for a long time, which is why it ended up on my Blind Spot list. I’m afraid it didn’t live up to my own hype but I’m glad I finally saw it & it’s one I think I like slightly more now, months after seeing it. It’s bizarre & I can’t honestly say it’s “good” by any means but bizarre is better than boring in my book.

I’ll say that this movie certainly doesn’t follow any Hollywood conventions (not that it would since it’s Italian, obviously) so I don’t know anyone I could recommend it to who doesn’t have a bit of an interest in film or filmmaking & wanting to explore the work of certain directors. I’m sure some fellow bloggers love this one, though, as it’s a movie blogger’s sort of film. Thinking of the ONE other Argento movie I’ve seen, Suspiria, I suppose Phenomena has a very similar structure. Actually, now that I think of it, I can see some similarities in the layout of Once Upon A Time In The West, which was co-written by Argento. What I mean by that is that I didn’t know what the hell was going on in West either (but it’s an absolutely beautiful film).

Phenomena’s plot is all over the place, to the point where it’s kind of hard to follow what’s going on. There are elements thrown in which seem completely unnecessary, like the whole thing with Connelly being able to communicate with insects. I thought that would be more important to the story but only one silly insect scene, which made no sense, seemed to be mildly important so it felt like something thrown in to make this movie sound more interesting than just a “killer is killing schoolgirls” slasher. It also unfortunately made Donald Pleasence’s character feel unnecessary as some kind of weird bug expert that Connelly just happens to stumble upon when becoming lost in the woods. Okay – I just re-read the entire plot at Wikipedia & Pleasence is a “forensic entomologist” helping work on the case of the murdered girls. Is that actually a thing? Can you use bugs to track down killers? Well, he’s in a wheelchair with a chimp as his assistant so that was cool – it reminded me of George A Romero’s Monkey Shines, which I had loads of fun reviewing HERE. Hmm… as Romero & Argento are friends, I wonder if Monkey Shines was partly inspired by this.

But I digress. As always, my reviews are all over the place. Kind of like this movie! I get the feeling that the visuals & general weirdness are more important to Argento than the plot anyway & I can appreciate that – I almost find these elements more important in a film as well. Make it an interesting enough film to look at and/or listen to and I won’t care if the plot isn’t the best (I’m thinking of movies like The Man Who Fell To Earth, which I loved but was seriously WTF). Speaking of being interesting to listen to, Argento used the great Goblin once again for the score. And he threw in some heavy metal songs which I can’t honestly say fit in AT ALL but I will never complain at an Iron Maiden song featuring very heavily in a film since that’s my favorite band. I guess the music helped add to the bizarre nature & very non-Hollywoodness of the movie. I made up a word there! I sound so professional.

I think I’m talking myself into liking this a bit more. The chimp helped – there should be more chimps in movies. I didn’t understand what the hell was going on half the time, the insect thing was honestly pretty stupid, it was a little too gory for me, and I’ve never been a big fan of slashers which show great delight in specifically killing women (which is why I know that “giallo” films probably aren’t for me). However, there are scenes I’ll never forget which is more than I can say for the majority of boring horror movies that get churned out by Hollywood with all its Hollywoodness. The visuals are interesting, the silly ending that turns this into something more like a typical American slasher like Friday The 13th, etc, has really grown on me as I think that’s what Argento was actually aiming for, there’s some Goblin & IRON MAIDEN!!!, there’s Dr. Sam Loomis & the President of the United States, there’s Jennifer Connelly’s eyebrows, and there’s a chimp. Who cares about the plot when you have all of these things?? Okay, I’m upping my rating by half a point. I’ve talked myself into liking this f*^ked-up movie.

My Rating: 7/10

**Here’s Iron Maiden’s Flash Of The Blade, which was used so heavily in this film that I’ll now never hear it without seeing Jennifer Connelly’s face…

And here are two interesting facts that I just read in IMDB trivia:

– “The film was inspired to Dario Argento after he learned that insects are sometimes used during murder investigations.” – Okay, so I guess that’s an actual thing.

– “Jennifer Connelly had part of her finger bitten off by the chimpanzee in the final scene at the end of the film. She was rushed to the hospital and the finger was re-attached.” – DAMN! I don’t like that chimp so much anymore.

Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) Review – IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Movie #20

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Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)
Italian: C’era una volta il West

Directed by Sergio Leone

Story by:
Dario Argento
Bernardo Bertolucci
Sergio Leone

Starring:
Claudia Cardinale
Henry Fonda
Jason Robards
Charles Bronson

Music by: Ennio Morricone

Running time: 166 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
There are loads of cowboys and they shoot people and move their eyes from side to side a lot like those cool old cat clocks (I’ve always wanted one of those!). And Charles Bronson’s character is super cool & simply named “Harmonica” because he plays this groovy little tune over & over on his harmonica. And there’s a sexy prostitute all the cowboys want to either have sex with or kill so they can steal her land. I think. And the score was done by Ennio Morricone so the music is of course incredible.

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My Opinion:

This is the 20th movie I watched this year for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge. I’ve said it before but the thing I’m really not looking forward to is watching the loads of war movies & Westerns in the Top 250. So I decided to tackle a war movie first. And you know what? It was fantastic! (The Bridge On The River Kwai. Review HERE). So after that I decided to watch this, my first proper Western EVER. And…Okay, it was pretty good! It was no Kwai but it was still good.

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I’ll make this “review” very quick. I’m not going to pretend I know a thing about Westerns or Sergio Leone or any of that. I know nothing whatsoever about filmmaking. But I know this film was beautiful to look at. I know Ennio Morricone is a genius and the music stayed with me for days. I know the opening scene was brilliant. Okay – it consisted of these cowboys just standing around and moving their eyes like those cat clocks and looking all intense but it was super cool. And Charles Bronson was also super cool as the mysterious harmonica-playing cowboy. I admit I got a little confused on the plot and who was a “good guy” and who was a “bad guy” as this seemed to keep changing.

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Ultimately, this IS very much a “guy movie”. I think I like guy movies more than most girls do but war movies & Westerns are still not going to be all-time favorites of mine for the most part. The Bridge On The River Kwai might be – It was absolutely brilliant and I also enjoyed every second of it. Once Upon A Time In The West is also absolutely brilliant and its status as a classic is well deserved but, overall, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Kwai. But, yeah – it’s COOL. I can see why dudes like Sergio Leone films. It’s epic. It’s like Gone With The Wind for men! (But I actually prefer Once Upon A Time In The West).

My Rating: 8/10

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