Cooties (2014) Review

Cooties (2014)

Directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion

Starring: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Jorge Garcia

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives.

My Opinion:

I know I’ve been reviewing horror movies for all of October but I didn’t actually watch any of them in October. I’ve finally watched my first horror movie this month! I watched Cooties on Thursday night. I have to say it was one hell of a disappointment, especially as it’s the only damn horror I’ve watched in quite a while.

I’ll keep this review short. I love a good horror comedy (Yes, I did a Top Ten HERE). I especially love a good zombie comedy (as you’ll see on that list, I chose several ZomComs). ZomCom! I love that term. And I love that there’s actually a ZomRomCom with Warm Bodies… By the way – I know this is “virus” movie and not strictly a “zombie” movie. Whatever. It’s still a zombie movie. And possibly the weakest of all the ZomComs that I’ve seen.

What can I say? Mainly that Cooties wasn’t very funny. I had a couple of very small giggles & that was it. For me, the comedy part of a horror comedy is far more important than the horror part, so… I expect more than a couple small giggles. This is no Shaun Of The Dead! As for the horror part, I wouldn’t say Cooties managed to get this right either. It’s mainly some “gross-out” low budget effects & there’s no real sense of fear for these teachers trapped in a school while the children go berserk. I’ll say that I hadn’t watched this sooner as, even though it’s a comedy, I still didn’t like the thought of them having to kill a bunch of kids. They did what I expected: They made the kids complete & utter assholes so you wouldn’t feel so bad! They did at least make two kids likable, who aren’t infected & end up with the teachers. I was glad about that. Just FYI for the childless or the child-haters watching this: Kids aren’t usually evil, people! If they’re bratty, it’s probably because their parents are c*^ts. Yeah, I used that word since it was used in this movie. 😉

Meh. Sorry. I know I don’t have a lot to say about this one. I was just kind of bored. Elijah Wood, Alison Pill & Rainn Wilson did a decent enough job with a weak script but I didn’t care about the rest of the characters. Oh, wait – I also kind of liked Jorge Garcia’s stoner character. I kept going “Hurley!” because I loved him in Lost. Remember those first couple of seasons when Lost was good?! The ZomCom I’d say this is most similar to is Life After Beth. That was also meh. But I think I ever so slightly preferred that one…

My Rating: 5.5/10

By the way, I thought of a positive comment to add so I don’t sound so negative. I do think this Cooties poster is pretty great and I liked how it appeared outside a cinema in the film, next to a poster of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night:

**Edit to say that I watched another horror movie after writing this review. I watched the Netflix adaptation of Stephen King’s 1922. I’ll be reviewing that on Monday followed by a review on Tuesday of Gerald’s Game.

I’ll then do a few days of Mike Flanagan movie reviews before ending on the 30th & 31st with reviews of my two favorite horrors that I watched at home this year. Neither of those films are in English. You need to start making better horror movies, Hollywood!

Advertisements

The Watcher In The Woods (1980) Review

The Watcher In The Woods (1980)

Directed by John Hough & Vincent McEveety (uncredited)

Based on A Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engel Randall

Starring: Bette Davis, Carroll Baker, David McCallum, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Kyle Richards

Production company: Walt Disney Productions

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of a teenage girl and her little sister who become encompassed in a supernatural mystery regarding a missing girl in the woods surrounding their new home in the English countryside.

My Opinion:

This is a Disney horror movie! Yep, you read that right! I can’t believe I didn’t know of this film’s existence. Well, I had heard of it and liked the sound of it so recorded it when it popped up on TV several months ago but I don’t think I ever realized it was a Disney film. Okay, it’s not like it’s a Saw film or something. This is “horror-light”. Think: R.L. Stine Goosebumps-level horror. It’s a fun film and I think, being a lover of things like the original The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have loved this movie if I’d seen it as a kid.

This movie is from 1980 and I’m not gonna lie – it’s very 1980 so it’s unlikely that a younger generation would necessarily be able to tolerate its look & pace. Being a child of the 80s, I obviously have no issue with something that hasn’t aged that well. I’ve only JUST noticed when looking this movie up at IMDb for this review that a new version starring Anjelica Huston has been made! It has a US release date of tomorrow (21st of October 2017) & looks like it’s a TV movie. How can I see this in the UK?! I wanna watch it with my kid. But she doesn’t like scary stuff AT ALL. She doesn’t take after her mommy!

I enjoyed the supernatural story in this, even though it was a little cheesy at the end. But, hey – it’s for kids! Well, maybe more for teenagers at the time but nowadays it would be fine for pre-teens. As I said, I’d have loved this as a kid so I can’t really criticize it as I think it’s perfectly fine for its target audience at the time it was made. Bette Davis, as the lonely & mysterious lady who owns the English countryside house that an American family moves into, is the one big name in this and helps to give the film some credibility. There’s a mystery surrounding her daughter, who disappeared 30 years earlier. The two girls who’ve just moved into the house, a teenager & her young sister, try to solve the mystery.

For those of you who didn’t grow up on 70s & 80s movies, you may not be a used to the, um, acting style of kids & teenagers back then. They weren’t like Jacob Tremblay in Room (I love that movie). The acting from the two daughters in this, especially the teenager, is dodgy as hell. I’m not saying that’s their fault, though, as this was common in a lot of movies at the time. I think writers & directors just seriously didn’t know how to make young characters feel genuine back then. Come to think of it, Steven Spielberg probably deserves some credit for paving the way for believable kids in movies thanks to E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The teenager in this, Lynn-Holly Johnson, was in a figure skating romance movie called Ice Castles (1978) with Robby Benson. Oh, I wanna see that! Looks like my type of thing. And the younger sister, Kyle Richards, was in Halloween but I mostly remember her as Alicia on Little House On The Prairie (that show rules and is another love of mine that I’ve been unable to get my kid to show any interest in). 😉

If you watch this movie bearing in mind the time it was made, you might get some enjoyment out of the story. I did, but I love a fun supernatural mystery. There’s also some good imagery that I’m sure stuck with kids who saw this at the time. This will be one of those movies that people my age would say “that movie scared the crap out of me as a kid!” and then, if they rewatched it now, they’d realize how tame it is. I liked it. I think Disney should’ve made more movies in this genre! But, having a horror movie with the “Disney” name attached to it, I can also see why that didn’t end up working.

My Rating: 6.5/10

**Oh! I found the trailer for the 2017 movie! It’s a Lifetime movie. Bwahaha! I remember those from the days I lived in America! Not gonna lie – I loved some Lifetime movies. 😉 And it’s been directed by Melissa Joan Hart?! Whaaat? Clarissa? Sabrina? She’s a director? When did that happen? I’m so old. I seriously want to see this (it looks scarier than the 1980 film):

And the 1980 trailer for comparison:

My Top Ten Christopher Lloyd Movies

Happy Birthday (soon) to Christopher Lloyd, who turns 79 on Sunday.

I like Christopher Lloyd but this wasn’t an easy top ten as he’s not been in a lot of great films that I’ve seen. I like the top six, I LOVE the top two, but I can take or leave the rest. And I barely remember most of numbers 8 through 16.

But let’s do this list anyway! To be in two of the greatest movies EVER is still impressive. And it also gives me a chance to again mention my favorite episode of Amazing Stories (at the end of the post).

Here we go! Here are My Top Ten Christopher Lloyd Movies (counting down to my favorite movie, not ranked by performance):

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

16. Dennis The Menace
15. Piranha 3D
14. Quicksilver Highway
13. The Tale Of Despereaux
12. A Million Ways To Die In The West
11. Clue

Top Ten:

10. Eight Men Out

9. The Addams Family Movies

8. Mr. Mom

7. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

6. Anastasia

5. Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead

4. Back To The Future Part III

3. Back To The Future Part II

2. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

1. Back To The Future

Saw But Don’t Remember:
The Dream Team, Angels In The Outfield, Baby Geniuses

Some I’ve Not Seen:
The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Radioland Murders, Man On The Moon, My Favorite Martian, Piranha 3DD, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, I Am Not A Serial Killer, Going In Style

Big Honorable Mention:

Amazing Stories – Go To The Head Of The Class

Remember Amazing Stories?? Oh man, I loved that show. Some of the stories were fantastic while some were a little dodgy. My very favorite one was a fun story starring Mary Stuart Masterson & Scott Coffey as teenagers who decide to get revenge on their evil English teacher, played by Christopher Lloyd. I used to watch this every October. When I was young & had time for that kind of thing… I’ve not watched one horror movie this October. Well, here’s the synopsis from IMDb and an old commercial for the show.

“A teenage horror buff is so smitten with a sexy classmate that he helps her use black magic on their loathsome English teacher, with shocking and bewildering results.”

Ghostbusters (2016) & Poltergeist (2015) Reviews

I guess it’s about time I do two pointless reviews of two pointless remakes (well, I suppose Ghostbusters is a reboot). Here we go! Get ready for some bitching…

Ghostbusters (2016)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on Ghostbusters by Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Chris Hemsworth

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.

My Opinion:

To be fair, this isn’t the worst movie ever. I’m a bit of a snob about remakes & reboots & all that, though, so I’m normally a total bitch about them. Especially when they f*^k with my favorites from the Seventies & Eighties!! And the 1984 Ghostbusters is a classic. However, it’s one of those I’d always seen as a classic in my mind but hadn’t actually rewatched it in years. Until a couple of weeks ago. Um… Will I get in trouble for saying it hasn’t aged well? More than anything, I was surprised at how much I disliked Bill Murray’s “sexist in that 1980’s sort of way that we all just accepted as the norm back then” character and the way he hogged so much screen time. But I do like Murray. I’m also not exactly going to complain about some outdated values in the original as I’d be a total hypocrite since my favorite thing about the reboot was Chris Hemsworth being funny & hot. But mostly hot.

Ghostbusters 2016 was okay. I don’t remember a lot of it now as I find most comedy movies to be throwaway, forgettable entertainment. I’m not saying I don’t like comedy films – I just like a very small number of them as I’ve found so few of them to actually be funny (especially nowadays). But comedy is probably the most divisive genre, followed very closely by horror, so you’re never going to please everyone with a movie like this.

Was this movie so hated because it rebooted a beloved classic or because it starred women? It’s a combination of both. I get really angry myself anytime they try to remake/reboot one of my favorites but I also can’t imagine there having been quite as much uproar if this reboot had starred whatever male comedians happen to be big at the moment. Yes, I’m totally out of touch & can’t even name any… Also, don’t forget that things like Saturday Night Live & a lot of other US TV shows that these comedians often come from aren’t shown outside of America. British hubby often has to remind me of this, even though I’ve now not seen SNL in 15 years, so you have to realize that things like the original Ghostbusters were probably viewed differently outside the US where these actors weren’t already loved. Or hated – It can also work in a movie’s favor to have no prior knowledge of an actor’s work. I don’t know what my point is here?! I think it may be that, in this case, it worked slightly in my favor to not know much about these stars’ TV careers.

I’ve of course seen a few Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Wiig films and I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either of them. Wiig is a bit “meh” for me while I hated McCarthy at first but she’s kind of grown on me thanks to times when she’s been a little less “outrageous”. Okay okay – and thanks to her lip sync battle on Jimmy Fallon where she did Colors Of The Wind. My kid is obsessed with that – I’ve probably seen that YouTube video 20 times. That was funny. She may be growing on me but I still won’t be watching shit like Spy, etc. Wiig & McCarthy were both perfectly fine in this film, probably since they were more subdued. I know almost nothing about Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones and I found them fairly funny as well. Especially McKinnon, who I have seen in some SNL clips online. We do at least get to see some YouTube clips! Oh, and I love McCarthy as Sean Spicer.

Okay, I’m bored with this review. I didn’t hate this movie but it’s not “good” and is still just another completely pointless reboot. I think I’m just annoyed with society in general these days. I love Twitter but some days I go on there and think “What the FUCK is wrong with people?!?!?!” and wish we could go back to a time when we weren’t exposed to so much disgusting hatred on a daily basis. I mean, we knew lots of people were assholes in the Eighties but they didn’t provide us daily written proof. My point is this: this movie is a bit sucky & pointless but the anger was over the top. My further point is this: Bridesmaids has a 6.8 IMDb rating & The Hangover has a 7.8. I don’t like either movie as that sort of silly, gross-out comedy isn’t my type of thing. However, they’re both good examples of that specific genre and are very similar. So why is one a whole point higher than the other?! Hmm. I wonder. Especially as, if I had to say which is the better written film of the two and if I was forced to admit which one made me laugh a tiny bit, Bridesmaids wins hands down in both cases. So… Huh? Therefore, I’m giving Ghostbusters a point more than it deserves because 1) I think it’s been rated slightly too low overall because it starred women so, fuck it, I’ll up it a bit and 2) Chris Hemsworth in glasses is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.

My Rating: 6/10

**Also, I freaking loved Freaks And Geeks so guess I can’t hate Paul Feig too much…..

Poltergeist (2015)

Directed by Gil Kenan

Based on Poltergeist by Tobe Hooper & Steven Spielberg

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Jane Adams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.

My Opinion:

These were meant to be two quickie reviews but then I rambled on about Ghostbusters for ages so I’ll keep this quick: Poltergeist (2015) just plain sucks. No, it probably doesn’t help that I love the original Poltergeist (more than the original Ghostbusters) but, holy shit – let’s just take an absolute horror classic and water it down and make it boring as shit and just plain suck the fucking soul out of it!

This movie adds absolutely nothing new to the original. It’s just another standard, run-of-the-mill, predictable & forgettable PG-13 horror. And with a fucking weird final scene that I think is meant to be funny but feels totally tacked on & out of place. Just…. No. NO. Just stop. Just stop, Hollywood. Come up with some original fucking ideas. AND ALL OF US! STOP! We need to stop encouraging this shit. They keep making this shit because it makes money. We’re to blame! Oh, that’s right – Society sucks now. Fuck it! We deserve nothing better than Poltergeist (2015). Hell, it’s better than we deserve. We deserve to be forced to watch Battlefield Earth with our eyes propped open Clockwork-Orange-style until the day we all finally destroy each other.

My Rating: 4/10

**I’ve never actually seen Battlefield Earth. Also, if you want to see a great Sam Rockwell in something good, watch The Way Way Back. NOT THAT ANY OF US DESERVE IT!

The Wailing (2016) & Green Room (2015) Reviews

I’m doing a double review again today. This time I’m reviewing South Korean horror The Wailing & Jeremy Saulnier’s ultra-violent Green Room, the follow-up to Blue Ruin. Here we go…

The Wailing (2016) (곡성, 哭聲, Gokseong)

Directed by Na Hong-jin

Starring: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.

My Opinion:

I was really excited about this film as there have been a lot of great South Korean horrors. A Tale Of Two Sisters, The Host, and the brilliant Train To Busan (which I plan to review on Halloween as it was my favorite horror movie this year. Well, that and It). Of those, I think The Wailing is probably my least favorite. However, it’s still a great horror film and far better than the majority of horror crap that Hollywood poops out.

The Wailing wasn’t at all what I expected from the synopsis of a “mysterious sickness”. I was thinking a zombie-like film or something bizarre & supernatural (which I love). I won’t say what it’s about but I’ll say it kind of ended up being a specific horror subgenre that’s a favorite of mine so I’m not sure why I didn’t love it. It did have an eerie atmosphere which worked really well to make it an unsettling film to be watching all by yourself late at night (which was how I watched it). The elements are all there to make it a fantastic horror movie and I did enjoy it but it’s unlikely to be one I’d watch again, especially with its 2 hour 36 minute running time.


Sorry – this is a short review and I doubt I’ve managed to sell this film to anyone even though it’s one of the better horror movies I watched this year. I think it’s because it’s a hard movie to explain and I found the story a bit muddled, which didn’t help. I also found myself not really caring about the characters, which was a shame as the other South Korean horrors I’ve seen (especially Train To Busan) had fantastic characters. However, I do recommend The Wailing to fans of foreign horror as it’s one definitely worth watching. If you’re new to foreign horror, I’d say this wouldn’t be the one to start on & would probably recommend Train To Busan instead.

My Rating: 7/10

Green Room (2015)

Directed & Written by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Green Room focuses on a punk band who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder at a remote club in the Pacific Northwest.

My Opinion:

First of all, I absolutely hated Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin (which I trashed HERE to the annoyance of some fans of the film). I’m happy to inform you that I liked Green Room much more Blue Ruin. Yay! But I still can’t exactly say I loved it & I certainly won’t be rushing out to see Saulnier’s next film, whatever that may be. Boo! (Sorry). It’s a shame, as I wish I could’ve added Green Room to my list of My Top Ten Color Movies. Not even close! Okay – I just looked up Saulnier’s upcoming projects. Not because I want to watch them but because I wanted to see if they have colors in the title. Pfft. Nope! What the hell? Now I’m annoyed.

Here are the things I liked about this movie: 1) That poster is actually really cool. That green one up there. I like it a lot. And green is my favorite color. 2) Anton Yelchin. Is it weird that I still almost want to cry when I see him in stuff? I liked Yelchin and I really liked him in this. 3) The setup. Punk band members witness a murder & end up trapped in the green room of this neo-Nazi skinhead club they’ve been booked to play at (not knowing that it was a neo-Nazi skinhead club). It was a bit of a weird plot but felt quite original. I must say that, when I watched this close to a year ago, I found the setting interesting but extremely far fetched. But, holy hell – maybe places like this actually DO exist in America?!?! Wow. I’m sheltered. Fucking scary shit. 4) The band were pretty cool, especially Yelchin & Alia Shawkat, and I felt quite stressed and wanted them to be able to get out of this crazy situation. 5) It’s an intense movie so I give credit to Saulnier for making a pretty edge-of-your-seat film. It’s not slow & boring like Blue Ruin. 6) Imogen Poots was okay as well, although that skinhead hairdo bothered me. It felt like I was watching This Is England (which I far preferred to Green Room). Kind of nice to see Poots & Yelchin together again after Fright Night.


Here are the things I didn’t like so much: 1) That Poots hairdo 2) Patrick Stewart. Oh noooooo! I love Stewart!!! Oh man, that’s twice that I’ve kind of trashed him this month (I really didn’t like him in Lifeforce but that movie truly sucked balls). He’s not awful in this but he’s just, I dunno… Meh. And I don’t want Captain Picard & Professor X to be a baddie. Ever. Okay? 3) The movie is just so damn violent. And depressing. I mean, I know life isn’t a Disney movie. But GEEZ. 4) I’m now further depressed after finding out that this may be a more accurate representation of modern day America than I thought 5) Anton Yelchin’s poor arm!!!! Holy shit! That was nasty & unnecessary! 6) I just need to add this once more: This movie is just too violent. No thank you. Not for me.

Green Room is a good film if you like strong violence and some very intense scenes. I didn’t hate the movie but it’s just not really my type of thing. If it’s your type of thing, I can see why you’d probably like this one a lot.

My Rating: 6/10

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016) & The Girl On The Train (2016) Reviews

Two quick reviews of two film adaptations of two books I read. My reviews of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs can be found HERE & The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins HERE. Okay, one is a thriller but the other is close enough to being a “horror” so I’m doing these for October Horror Month. Let’s see what I thought of the movies…

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016)

Directed by Tim Burton

Screenplay by Jane Goldman

Based on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

My Opinion:

When I was in the middle of reading this book years ago, I said to the hubby “Tim Burton needs to make this into a movie”. Imagine my surprise when Hollywood did something right for a change! He was the absolute perfect choice to adapt this book & he did a very good job with it. The problem is that 1) I didn’t exactly love the book, although I loved the “gimmick” of the old photographs that were used throughout it and 2) Tim Burton hasn’t made anything truly fantastic in years, which still breaks my heart as I absolutely adored his oldest films. I’d say this was somewhat a return to form for Burton but, as I said, I didn’t love the source material so was unlikely to love the movie.

From what I remember of the book, it seems a faithful adaptation until the end. But I didn’t care enough to continue reading the books so it’s possible the movie continues a bit into the next book for all I know? I wouldn’t say it renewed my interest enough to read the remaining books but I’d certainly watch a sequel if Burton makes one. The performances were pretty strong and, like Burton being the perfect choice for director, I think Eva Green was a perfect choice for playing Miss Peregrine. The child actors also all did a good job (I think Burton always does well in casting his films), with the lead young roles (played by Asa Butterfield & Ella Purnell) as the standouts. Terence Stamp & especially Judi Dench weren’t given much to do, which was a shame. And I enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson as always (who doesn’t love Sam Jackson?!) but he’s phoning it in a bit with this baddie role. Sorry, Mr. Jackson! I apologize a trillion times!


Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a good adaptation of a bizarre book thanks to its also bizarre director. And I liked the look & vibe of it, as I always do with Burton’s style. I wish I liked both the book and the film more than I do, though. I like “weird” so can’t really put my finger on why the story didn’t quite work for me. With the book, I think I just couldn’t connect with the characters. To be fair, I think Burton improved on this with the film and I’d say this is one of those cases where the movie might be slightly better than the book. It also helped that it got a proper ending, as opposed to the open-ended cliffhanger that just left me frustrated with the book.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Girl On The Train (2016)

Directed by Tate Taylor

Based on The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, Allison Janney, Édgar Ramírez, Lisa Kudrow

Music by Danny Elfman

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A divorcee becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shockwaves throughout her life.

My Opinion:

I thought this book, although fun in a pulp-y sort of way, was pretty horrible. This was mainly because the characters were all truly hateful. The story itself was okay and I found it a very quick read as I wanted to get to the resolution of its mystery but, wow, I didn’t give the slightest crap what would happen to any of the characters. Not even ONE likable person? Really?? I’ll never understand stories that choose to make us despise everyone in them. And the thing with the baby upset me too much (and kind of pissed me off).

Well, the movie is a faithful adaptation, so… What can I say? I didn’t like the book so I wasn’t going to like a faithful adaptation anyway. The fact that is stars Emily Blunt, who is kind of a girl crush of mine, is what made me even bother to stick this on one evening & half pay attention to it. Meh. I don’t know. I just didn’t care. The actors did what they could with the material but the material was weak. Hold on a second – in this double review, Danny Elfman did the music for this movie but not the Tim Burton movie?! Now that’s bizarre.

My Rating: 5/10

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (Book Review)

The film adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s novel The Snowman is out today in the UK & out October 20th in the US. It was directed by Tomas Alfredson and stars Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons. Here’s my review of the book…

**Quick edit to say I wrote this review before the reviews came out for The Snowman movie. Ohhhh.. Reviews are NOT good!**

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
Norwegian: Snømannen

What It’s About: (via Amazon)
On a cold winter night, a young boy wakes to find his mother missing. The house is empty but in the garden outside he finds his mother’s favourite scarf – wrapped around the neck of the snowman that appeared in their garden that day.

As Harry Hole and his team begin their investigation they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. Is there a link between the disappearances and a menacing letter Harry was sent months earlier?

When a second woman disappears it seems his suspicions are confirmed. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his home turf; a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity…

My Thoughts:

Murder & crime stories are really not at all my sort of thing but I’ve been spending 2017 reading books that are being made into films so I decided to give this one a try. I probably won’t go to the film but I’ll Netflix it at the very least, mainly because Michael Fassbender is a hottie. Netflix & chill with Fassbender! Oh yeah, there’s one other reason I decided to read this: I quite liked the film Headhunters, also from a Jo Nesbo book. Good movie – I recommend it.

As for this book, I’d have to say it’s a good crime thriller and had some inventive murders (if you’re the kind of psycho who’s into that sort of stuff). 😉 I didn’t realize it was part of a series: the “Harry Hole” series, following the life & cases of detective Harry Hole. I don’t know how necessary it is to read the other books first (it looks like The Snowman is the seventh). I didn’t feel like I was missing anything as far as the murder mystery went. I’m assuming it’s a case unconnected to others, although there were some references to previous cases. The only thing I felt I was missing was knowing anything about Harry Hole & his relationships with the other characters prior to this book, such as his ex-girlfriend & her son who were clearly a big part of previous book(s). I still enjoyed the story but suppose I had less of a connection to the characters than readers of the entire series would have.

If you like the look of the below trailer and prefer to read a book before seeing the movie, I do recommend this one. I’m not an expert on this genre but it’s a got a good murder mystery that keeps you guessing and I got to know the characters just well enough to start to care about what would happen to them. I’ve not rated it more highly since it’s not my type of thing but I’d think any fans of this genre should definitely like it.

My Rating: 3/5

The Snowman movie trailer (Fassbender is so hot…):

Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017 (ranked from least favorite to favorite…)

– Tape by Steven Camden
– The Sisters by Claire Douglas
– We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
– If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
– The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
– The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– Blaze by Stephen King
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
– A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
End Of Watch by Stephen King
– Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
– All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
– The Fireman by Joe Hill
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

**Currently reading I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

The Gift (2015) & Coherence (2013) Reviews

Okay, these two aren’t horror films but they’re “mystery thrillers” (one a sci-fi mystery thriller) and it feels right to review them as part of October Horror Month. I love a good thriller! And these two weren’t too bad. Let’s discuss… 

The Gift (2015)

Directed & Written by Joel Edgerton

Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, Tim Griffin, Allison Tolman, Beau Knapp, P.J. Byrne, David Denman, Busy Philipps, Wendell Pierce, Katie Aselton, Mirrah Foulkes, Nash Edgerton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young married couple’s lives are thrown into a harrowing tailspin when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light after more than 20 years.

My Opinion:

I thought this was a good film in terms of “psychological mind-fuckery”. I love psychological horrors & thrillers and Joel Edgerton’s character was creepy as shit. It’s a hard film to discuss without spoiling the outcome. I’ll just say that the horrible thing that may or may not occur (and it is truly disturbing) is left up to interpretation. I love it when it’s left up to the audience to decide. Did he or didn’t he?! Oh man, I hope not. It’s my own personal opinion that he did NOT. But that’s the whole point of the psychological fuckery behind Edgerton’s character’s motives. It’s a well written psychological thriller and I did enjoy it (despite being somewhat offended and grossed-out…!).

Sorry for the vague review. If you’ve not seen it, it’s better if you don’t know much about it. I’d compare it to another rather random favorite “psychological mind-fuckery” film of mine: Malice starring Nicole Kidman & Alec Baldwin. I’ve not thought of that one in a long time. I can’t exactly say that was a “great” film but it was a thoroughly entertaining thriller. Hmm… Another one that comes to mind is David Fincher’s The Game (although I wouldn’t say The Gift was as good as The Game). Another fun one was Shattered (1991). Overall, The Gift is a decent psychological thriller & I wish more films like this were still made. It feels like we don’t get as many movies within this genre nowadays as we did in the 80s/early 90s. I’d like to see more being made again (even if they’re cheesy like those 80s/early 90s ones often were!). It’s a fun genre.

My Rating: 7/10

Coherence (2013)

Directed & Written by James Ward Byrkit

Starring: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

My Opinion:

This movie is very much my type of thing (mindfuck sci-fi!) and I really liked it. I need to see it again, though. This is one of those movies that you’ll probably need to rewatch to catch things you may have missed the first time around. So, hey hubby! I know you were annoyed I watched this without you. I’ll rewatch it with you sometime! 😉

I’ll say it starts out quite slow and some of the friends who’ve gathered for a dinner party had the potential to really get on my nerves. Why are people at dinner parties in movies so annoying? Who the hell has dinner parties in real life anyway? Maybe I just have no class. If you come to my house, I’ll just order a pizza & we can watch a movie! Anyway, this started out a bit like a thriller I reviewed last year for October Horror Month: The Invitation (which I also quite liked despite it starting out with some annoying dinner party wankers). But Coherence gets far more weird than that one. Oh I do love weird!

In reading about this, I read that director & writer James Ward Byrkit was inspired by The Twilight Zone, which would explain why I liked it since that’s my absolute favorite TV series ever. It does have a very Twilight Zone feel. I do have to compare it to a few other movies I’ve seen in the past few years to better give you an idea of what it’s like. By the way, I recommend all these films: Primer (although it was WAY over my head), Predestination (love this crazy time travel mind-bender), and Circle (fantastic story in which a group of 50 strangers wake up in a mysterious room and realize that someone will die every two minutes & that they have the ability to choose who will be next). To be honest, although I thought Coherence was pretty great, I think I was slightly underwhelmed simply because I saw Predestination & Circle first and I thought they were brilliant mindfuck science fiction films. If you watch them, just keep an open mind. Especially with Circle, which seemed very low budget but had such a good story that I didn’t care.

As for Coherence, I’d probably again say it’s best to not know too much beforehand so I’ve not gotten into any specifics about the story. I love the idea that comets could totally mess us up, though. That’s such 1950’s Twilight Zone thinking! I will just say that they don’t all turn into weird comet-zombies like in Night Of The Comet (that movie kicks ass, by the way). 😉 I do recommend this movie to lovers of sci-fi weirdness and promise you’ll enjoy the story after the dinner party wankers stop being annoying once the weird shit starts going down.

My Rating: 7/10

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Review

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on Characters from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto

Music by Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch (Blade Runner themes composed by Vangelis)

Cinematography Roger Deakins

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A young blade runner’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.

My Opinion:

I don’t know how to go about reviewing this film plus there are loads of excellent reviews from actual writers already so I’ll try to keep this one short. Blade Runner 2049 is a brilliant film that will be (and, for many, already is) considered a classic years from now. Like the first film from 1982, it’s sadly a bit of a flop at the box office so far. And like that one, it will forever be revered by fans of serious, hardcore science fiction. If you haven’t seen or don’t like the first film, don’t bother watching this one. You won’t like it. If you’re a big fan of the first film, you’ll be very happy with this one (but I don’t need to tell you that since the hardcore fans have seen the sequel by now).

I do love serious sci-fi although I won’t admit to always understanding it. Science fiction is my favorite genre and the more it makes me think, the more I like it. Usually. Except with Primer… I don’t understand what the HELL was going on in that movie! But back to Blade Runner: The themes associated with artificial intelligence and “the Singularity” are always a favorite of mine within this genre so I do love the original. And I love Ex Machina. And I love WALL-E. And I love The Terminator. Hell, I even like stuff like Bicentennial Man. The thought of artificial intelligence developing human emotions and/or the thought of it far surpassing what the actual human brain could ever be capable of is both fascinating & scary as shit. Well, more scary as shit than fascinating – I think a Terminator future is more likely than a lovable robot WALL-E future. I just read that it’s been predicted that the Singularity will occur by 2045. Shit! That’s not that far away. I may still be alive! This was meant to be after I was long gone. I don’t want the machines to take over!

Holy shit – I’ve gotten very off track. Blade Runner isn’t even really about that. Well, sort of. Not really. God I hate reviewing thinky sci-fi. As I said, I do love the original film (Whichever of the 28 different versions I actually saw. I could do with rewatching it again but knowing which definitive version to watch sucks my will to live). But the Roy Batty “Tears in Rain” monologue is in all versions as far as I’m aware and I love it. It’s one of the all-time greatest cinematic scenes. I wouldn’t say any one scene in the sequel quite matches the emotion or intensity of the “Tears in Rain” scene but several come damn close. I still prefer the 1982 film overall but this is a fantastic sequel that poses even further questions on the issues of morality that are raised in the first film. It’s an impressive film and quite a feat to make a classic such as Blade Runner even better with the addition of a sequel. I mean, look at those Matrix sequels. I hated those & they ruined the first movie for me. Very few sequels make the first film even better so I’m very happy that Blade Runner 2049 managed to do exactly that.

I don’t want to ramble on incoherently for much longer so I’ll just finish by saying what else I loved about this movie besides its overall story & themes. First of all, it’s gorgeous. Director Denis Villeneuve & cinematographer Roger Deakins are in danger of becoming favorites of mine after this and the equally brilliant Arrival (which wasn’t Deakins) and Sicario (which was Deakins). Actually, they already are favorites of mine. Those guys kick ass! Arrival especially – that was a masterpiece in my opinion. Is Blade Runner 2049 as good as Arrival? Hmm… I wouldn’t say I loved it to the same degree and I certainly didn’t have the same emotional response that I did with Arrival but I think I’ll grow to like Blade Runner 2049 even more with time. It’s a grower. I’d like to see how I feel about it in a year but I can see it only going up in people’s estimations over time. Oh, and the effects are amazing. Amazing as in: “I didn’t notice any special effects so they must have been amazing as I’m sure there were shitloads of effects going on“. I know nothing about special effects – I just know that I find dodgy CGI really distracting and that never happened in this film, which meant I was never “thrown out” of the gorgeous world created by these filmmakers. And that sex scene was very well done. I can say that without sounding like a perv since I’m a girl. Bet guys loved that scene, though. Kinky.

Finally, the performances in Blade Runner 2049 are great & far better than I had expected. I admit I can be very fickle about actors – I went from totally loving Ryan Gosling around the time of Drive to becoming a bit bored with him & not really giving him much thought in the past few years. I think my crush is back! I loved him in this. He’s easily the best one in this film (luckily, as he’s in it far more than anyone else). His subtle sort of style works perfectly for his character in the same way I think Harrison Ford was perfectly suited to play Rick Deckard.

Speaking of Ford, he’s the best he’s been in a long time. I love Ford. He’s freaking HAN SOLO. But he’s been in some less than stellar films and, sometimes, well… He just seems bored in some of his movies. He’s very good in Blade Runner 2049. Phew. Yay for that! (He’s barely in it, though). Everyone did a very good job in this so I won’t go into each performance but the one other one that deserves a special mention is Ana de Armas as Joi. It’s an unusual role and she does an amazing job with it (I know everyone who’s going to see this probably already has but I’m still avoiding spoilers). And she’s pretty. Too pretty. Like Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina. It’s not fair.


Wait, I forgot about Jared Leto! How could I forget Leto?! He gets on my nerves sometimes and I hated him in Suicide Squad. He’s tolerable in this, I guess. Still a bit over-the-top but at least he’s not in loads of scenes. So, besides Leto being slightly annoying and the running time of 2 hours & 44 minutes admittedly being a little longer than necessary, I can’t really think of anything negative to say about Blade Runner 2049. But I still liked Arrival slightly more. If a third Blade Runner film manages to make the entire series even better as a whole in the same way that this sequel has made me even further appreciate the 1982 film, we may have a science fiction trilogy masterpiece.

My Rating: 9/10

Pontypool (2008) Review

Pontypool (2008)

Directed by Bruce McDonald

Based on Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess

Starring: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly, Hrant Alianak, Rick Roberts, Boyd Banks, Tony Burgess, Rachel Burns

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A radio host interprets the possible outbreak of a deadly virus which infects the small Ontario town.

My Opinion:

This film was quite unusual. I love that! With all the lame & predictable horror movies that keep getting made, it’s great when we actually get something with a concept as original as in Pontypool. The plot synopsis above doesn’t tell you much so I’ll add a bit more, which is kind of spoiler-y but tells you that this is a “zombie-like-virus outbreak” film with a unique twist. So don’t read the rest of this paragraph if you like knowing nothing whatsoever but knowing this is what made me want to see the film: the virus in this film is spread through language. Certain words cause certain people to become infected. Therefore, setting this movie within a talk radio station with a former “shock jock” radio DJ being the only one who can try to somehow get messages to listeners without infecting them was a brilliant idea. I already loved the overall idea behind this film before even watching it.

The execution of the story is a little strange, though, and I can’t say I fully connected with the characters. Only three characters really matter, played by Stephen McHattie (as DJ Grant Mazzy), Lisa Houle (as station manager Sydney Briar) & Georgina Reilly (as technical assistant Laurel-Ann). Oh, and we do get to hear from “helicopter reporter Ken” throughout the film but don’t get to really know anything about him. We get a few backstory tidbits about our three main characters at the station and I really liked the chemistry between the DJ & station manager but, for the film to have truly connected with me, I’d like to have cared more about the fate of these people. Even Zack Snyder’s Dawn Of The Dead remake managed more character development with way more than three characters. Hell, I’m still upset about poor Andy at the gun store across the street from the mall in Dawn Of The Dead and we only hear him on a walkie talkie! So I think it is possible to make a zombie or zombie-like-virus movie with strong characters.


Also, I felt the telling of the story in Pontypool was a little messy. I suppose you could argue that that’s partly the point as the film should be showing us the importance of language and how we use it to communicate and how lost we’d be without it. Without proper communication, there’d be a lot of confusion. Unfortunately, I don’t think the story ever really delivers on its fantastic concept. There’s a lot to think about here! Imagine trying to communicate without using language that may potentially be deadly. It’s a very clever idea I’d like to see explored further. I see this has been adapted from a book (Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess), so I wonder if the book delves any deeper.

I want to give this movie a higher rating as I loved the idea behind it so much and I did quite like it but, sadly, I can’t say it really lived up to its potential. It seems very low budget (I don’t know if that’s the case) but that works well with this film and gives it a good atmosphere in the confined space of the radio station. There’s also some dark humor throughout it that will work for some people and not for others. I always love dark humor so would like to have seen much more of it. I don’t think it comes across properly and feels like a much more straightforward horror story than I think was intended. Finally, there’s a confusing extra scene after the credits that was originally meant to be the final scene of the film. I think it’s good that it was moved to after the credits as it would have been a little jarring as the actual end of the film. All in all, however, I have far more respect for a film like this that tries to be different than I do for the countless cliché horror movies (like The Forest, which I trashed HERE yesterday). Pontypool may not have fully worked for me overall but I can see some people really loving it & I’d be happy to watch it again with a friend if I had cool friends who watched movies with me. But I have no friends. Which is fine as it means I’m far less likely to be infected by a conversational virus!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Monster Hunter (2014), Lifeforce (1985) & The Forest (2016) Reviews

Three quickie reviews of two dreadful movies & one that was decent…

Monster Hunter (2014) (aka US Title: Dark Was The Night)

Directed by Jack Heller

Starring: Kevin Durand, Lukas Haas, Bianca Kajlich

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighboring woods.

My Opinion:

This is the movie that was decent. It’s now almost a year ago that I watched all three of these films so that’s why I’m doing quickie reviews as I can’t say they were all that memorable. I remember this one the most, though. The look of the creature was done well and there was some decent acting, which is more than can be said for a lot of mainstream horrors that have bigger budgets.


Little Lukas Haas is in this. Aww. Remember him? It’s so weird that I still think of him as a little kid like when he first started out in movies such as Witness, which is stupid as he’s actually the same age as me. He plays a New York City cop who is now deputy to the sheriff (Kevin Durand) in a small town logging community. I liked the characters and thought Kevin Durand did well as a father grieving the accidental death of one of his sons. Decent characters in a horror movie! Yay!

There’s nothing in this movie that’s exactly groundbreaking. The story is fairly predictable and the characters behave as you’d expect in this sort of genre. However, I found the film enjoyable and really liked the “isolated small town” atmosphere, which is a setting I’ve often gone for in horror films (maybe being from a tiny isolated town myself). The onset of winter also added to the isolated feel, which is another horror cliché that I really like. I’m okay with some horror clichés as long as a decent film comes out of it and I’d say that this movie is quite good for one that doesn’t seem to have any big names attached to it or to be that well known (I’d only heard of it thanks to this good review at Vic’s Movie Den).

If you’re a fan of “creature” movies and not too picky, this is one I’d definitely recommend. It’s a very straightforward but fun monster movie that isn’t too silly or too serious. I’ll end with this bit from Wikipedia if you’re interested in checking the film out:

“The film is loosely based on the real-life events that unfolded in Topsham, England in 1855, known as The Devil’s Footprints. The small town woke to find freshly fallen snow and biped hoof prints tracing the landscape. Dark Was the Night is said to tell the story of a present-day community’s reaction to a similar event.”

My Rating: 6.5/10

Lifeforce (1985)

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon & Don Jakoby

Based on The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson

Starring: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film portrays the events that unfold after a trio of humanoids in a state of suspended animation are brought to Earth after being discovered in the hold of an alien space ship by the crew of a European space shuttle.

My Opinion:

Ugh!!! This movie was so bad. Why does it have a decent IMDb rating of 6.1 out of 10?! Oh. That’s right. It’s because the woman is fully nude for, like, 90% of the movie….

I was kind of excited about this one. Directed by Tobe Hooper (RIP), who did do a lot of dodgy stuff but also did the awesome Poltergeist & Salem’s Lot. Screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (also RIP), who wrote things like The Return Of The Living Dead & a decent little thing called ALIEN(!!!). And, of course, Patrick Stewart was in this and I love Patrick Stewart. Sounds like a recipe for success to me! Ugh. Hell no. And Stewart was terrible.

I can’t be bothered. This movie sucked. I’m sure it has its fans but I do wonder if they’re all male. Feel free to speak up if you’re a fan! I promise I won’t be rude. I’m genuinely curious to know what it is that people like about this movie. To be fair, I may not have been in the right mood since I wasn’t feeling well when I watched this. I watched it in bed on a small iPad while lying on my side, giving me a backache. My backache and the movie’s full frontal nudity are all that I really remember now.

My Rating: 3/10

The Forest (2016)

Directed by Jason Zada

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Forest follows a young woman who travels to Aokigahara (the suicide forest) to find her sister.

My Opinion:

Crap. Seriously. Surely Game Of Thrones star Natalie Dormer can be in movies better than this boring & cliché horror tripe. I mean, she got to make out with Chris Hemsworth in the surprisingly good Rush. Hot DAMN he was hot in that. How can you go from that to starring in this???

Where’s a movie starring Chris Hemsworth fully nude for 90% of the movie like Mathilda May in Lifeforce? Hmm???? Equal rights, dammit! Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah. The Forest. Um. I don’t remember this one AT ALL. I watched it almost a year ago. Natalie Dormer goes into a creepy forest to find her possibly suicidal twin sister, who went missing there. Weird shit happens. There’s a potential love interest. It doesn’t end well if I remember correctly (as to be expected from this predictable sort of supernatural type of horror). How stuff like this gets a major mainstream release in loads of cinemas is beyond me. Unless you’re absolutely in love with Dormer, don’t bother with this one unless you’ve never watched another horror film in your entire life. If you have, you’ve seen this all before.

My Rating: 3/10

**Here’s my review of a (comedy) horror that I actually did enjoy, which makes fun of horror movie clichés: The Final Girls (2015). I had problems scheduling it last week & don’t think it posted correctly. I do like horror movies sometimes! There are just way too many bad ones.

My Top Ten Sigourney Weaver Movies

Happy Birthday (soon) to Sigourney Weaver, who turns 68 on Sunday.

Ellen Ripley is one of my all-time favorite characters in two of my all-time favorite films (only the first two Alien films really count). I’m obsessed with those movies – they’re definitely going with me to my desert island.

As for Sigourney Weaver as an actress? Well, she IS Ellen Ripley to me. How awesome must it be to be able to say you played one of the all-time greatest cinematic characters?! Outside of the Alien films, however, I’m not gonna lie: I’d never call her a favorite actress of mine. But who cares? Ripley is all that matters.

As for her movie resume (aka movie CV in the UK), she’s been in a wide mix of things and not many I’d say I love other than numbers 1 & 2 on the below list. But who cares? She was in the Alien films. The f*^king ALIEN films. Nothing else matters. They can’t be topped. But, what the hell, I’ve done a Top Ten anyway. 😉

Counting down to my favorite, these are My Top Ten Sigourney Weaver Movies (not ranked by character or performance):

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

21. Heartbreakers
20. Copycat
19. Red Lights
18. The Tale Of Despereaux
17. Be Kind Rewind
16. Paul
15. Dave (could do with rewatching)
14. Ghostbusters (2016)
13. Galaxy Quest
12. Finding Dory
11. Avatar

Top Ten:

10. The Ice Storm

9. Working Girl

8. Holes

7. Chappie

6. Gorillas In The Mist (could do with rewatching this)

5. The Cabin In The Woods

4. The Village

3. Ghostbusters I & II (even though I just tweeted the other day that Ghostbusters has NOT aged well. and I barely remember II…)

2. WALL-E

1. The Alien Films (but really just Alien & Aliens)

Some I’ve Not Seen:

Annie Hall, The Year Of Living Dangerously, 1492: Conquest Of Paradise, Infamous, Vantage Point, Baby Mama, Exodus: Gods And Kings, A Monster Calls

The Final Girls (2015) Review

The Final Girls (2015)

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Written by M.A. Fortin & Joshua John Miller

Starring: Taissa Farmiga, Malin Åkerman, Adam DeVine, Thomas Middleditch, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig, Nina Dobrev

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young woman grieving the loss of her mother, a famous scream queen from the 1980s, finds herself pulled into the world of her mom’s most famous movie. Reunited, the women must fight off the film’s maniacal killer.

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this. My enjoyment was only affected slightly by my hubby hating this & complaining throughout it. Sorry, dude – I thought it was okay! Flawed & certainly not perfect but fun and a great concept that was far more original than we usually get in the horror genre.

I’m going to start with the flaws. Mainly: Adam DeVine. I’m sorry but I can’t stand him. I happen to love Jack Black (I know a lot of people hate him) but why is DeVine acting like a horrible impersonation of Jack Black in this? If you hate Jack Black, please tell me that you hated DeVine in this as well. It’s like if Jack Black was still his outrageous self but completely unfunny in any way whatsoever. It was actually painful to watch. It was a shame, really, as I think there’s a potentially brilliant film hidden beneath the surface here that doesn’t quite break through due mostly to some of the performances (but mainly DeVine’s).

Other than DeVine, the rest of the movie’s flaws were pretty minor. I did find most of the characters weak or slightly annoying but, luckily, our two main ones (Taissa Farmiga & Malin Åkerman) were good. But I suppose that’s kind of the point as this is a horror comedy spoofing horror movies of the Eighties and all the silly clichés that go along with them, including everyone but the “final girl” being expendable.

I guess the biggest problem, really, is that the movie Scream already did the horror spoof thing with a much more clever script than The Final Girls. But there have now been plenty of horror comedies that spoof 70s & 80s horrors and I do love a good horror comedy so I still enjoyed this movie. I already did a list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies and The Final Girls comes close to being added. I’ll probably add it to that list & at least give it an honorable mention but DeVine sucks some of the “comedy” part out of the film’s genre classification.

As far as the story goes, I truly appreciated the originality involved in the concept of the teenage daughter of a scream queen ending up in her mother’s most famous 80’s slasher film. I was interested to see that this film was co-written by Joshua John Miller, someone from my day & age (I’m the age of the scream queen mother in this). He was in Halloween III, River’s Edge, Near Dark, Teen Witch, the cheesy Class Of 1999, and my favorite episode of Highway To Heaven! No, seriously – I liked that silly show. Anyway, I found this film to be an interesting mash-up of Generation X vs Current Teen and I thought that worked well. I probably connected to it as it was written & directed by those my age who also grew up on 80’s slashers.

Most of all, I really loved the mother/daughter relationship between Taissa Farmiga & Malin Åkerman. It was actually quite heartbreaking when the mother died (in the beginning & the plot synopsis so not a spoiler). When the daughter is reunited with her mother within her mother’s slasher film, the look of happiness & love on the daughter’s face was great. It was genuinely sweet & heartfelt for a horror comedy so they did do a great job with the two most important characters: the “Final Girls”. And I absolutely loved the climactic scene when the mother dances to Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes while her daughter watches. It was lovely & bittersweet & seriously one of my favorite movie scenes in recent years. And I’ve always liked that song and now I like it even more & will always think of that scene when I hear it. I’d love for the writers & director to get together & make a sequel to this (being a spoof of “80’s slasher clichés”, it’s obviously left open for a sequel). I’d happily watch Part 2. Just please leave Adam DeVine out of it… !

My Rating: 7.5/10

Mother! (2017) Review

Mother! (2017)

Directed & Written by Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a young woman whose tranquil life with her husband at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple.

My Opinion:

Okay, I wasn’t going to go to this since I can’t say I’ve ever exactly loved a Darren Aronofsky movie. But I do like some f*^ked up shit and this looked like it was probably some f*^ked up shit, so… I went after a crappy day at work to “unwind”. So relaxing. 😉 Mainly, I’m annoyed that I paid full price. This is why I only go on cheap day or to a non-chain cheap cinema! One ticket & small nachos? Just under £15. Seriously?! F*^k off! Anyway – I didn’t hate this but should’ve waited for Netflix.

I’m curious where I’d rank this against all the Aronofsky films I’ve seen. Okay – I’m gonna do it! “Favorite” to least favorite (although I love none of them):

The Wrestler
Black Swan
Requiem For A Dream
Mother!
Pi

Well, I guess Mother! is pretty low (and I must admit I remember zero of Pi now other than the ending). I know Aronofsky likes his allegories & his symbolism and all that stuff that people either love or call pretentious bullshit. I think the most annoying thing about Mother! is that it’s just far too blatant this time.

I honestly don’t know what to write about this one. I think it may shock some people but, hey – it’s an Aronofsky film. He still doesn’t come anywhere near David Cronenberg when it comes to f*^ked up shit (I love Cronenberg’s older films). I do kind of love it when people who aren’t full-on movie geeks (like us weirdo bloggers) do zero research into what a movie is about & end up going to something like THIS knowing nothing other than that they like the stars in it or the look of the poster or whatever. I’d love to see their reactions to this one! Mother! is the kind of film you’d recommend to a mainstream movie lover who you hate just to piss them off and make them think you may be a complete psycho for recommending it, therefore hopefully resulting in them never talking to you again. Hmm. I like that description. That should be on the movie’s poster.

For me, I actually didn’t hate Mother! I thought the first half of the movie was pretty good. I liked its atmosphere & the way the floorboards creaked and how this lovely old house felt alive (as it’s meant to feel). It was like a rather straightforward haunted house thriller to begin with. But, of course, it’s an Aronofsky film so it’s nothing of the sort. Lawrence’s slow descent into madness was done well and I do think she’s a very good actress despite the fact that people seem to be growing to dislike her in real life. You really can’t fault her performance here, although Portman did it better in Black Swan (but Portman also had a much better script to work with). Her hair was awesome, too. Although I assume it was a wig? It was super long. I want pretty braids like that. As for Javier Bardem, Ed Harris & Michelle Pfeiffer? A bit weak, to be honest. Well, Pfeiffer was okay (was glad she was in this – I’m a fan). Again, though, I think that’s more the fault of the material they had to work with.

My biggest problem with the film was the f*^ked up shit I was so looking forward to and which took ages to finally happen. The f*^ked up shit is what I was waiting for! It’s like the movie Society – I kind of love it but it’s an AWFUL film. It’s just that last half hour or so that I love. Now that’s some f*^ked up shit! In Mother!, however, I ended up more bored than shocked at the end. And, let’s face it – we all know it’s an allegory so it’s not like these things are actually happening to these characters. Well, it’s actually happening in real life to what Lawrence’s character represents. But… Yeah. I dunno. Maybe Aronofsky thinks he might save the planet with the movie’s message but I think we’re doomed anyway so maybe we are all better off watching fun, mainstream blockbusters with no “hidden” message?!

I’d like this movie more if the crazy ass shit at the end hadn’t gone on and on and on and on. And on. And on. And on. And on. It wasn’t the content itself that bothered me, it was that it felt like that final act would never end. I got out of the movie & wondered if I’d been sat there for three hours and was annoyed I hadn’t checked the length beforehand (it’s only 121 minutes). I’m also still annoyed that I paid full price for this movie and that the cheese that came with the nachos was disgusting.

My Rating: 6/10

Oh! I forgot to add that, as far as pretentious shit goes, at least this movie was better than The Neon Demon. I hated that with a passion. Mother! was just… Meh. Which isn’t what I expected. Also, Clint Mansell didn’t do the score for this Aronofsky film. What a shame – it may have helped. His Requiem For A Dream score is a damn masterpiece. Let’s have a listen…

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) & Byzantium (2012) Reviews

Saw these two together after really wanting to see them for ages. I was massively disappointed. Here are two quickie reviews…

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Directed & Written by Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring. I’d really been wanting to watch it because I find Tilda Swinton interesting, Mia Wasikowska has been pretty decent in things like Stoker, and I always really liked sweet Anton Yelchin (RIP). Hiddleston is okay – I can take him or leave him. Oh! And John Hurt (RIP)! Hurt was awesome (I did a list not too long ago of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies. Luckily, I don’t have to update that list to add Only Lovers Left Alive).

Anyway, Hurt was great in this – he was the best part of the film (for me). Swinton was also fun to watch. I usually like her a lot but, sometimes, she annoys me (like in Okja). Mysterious vampire is the perfect kind of role for her, though, so she was good in this. I suppose Hiddleston did well with the role but all he did was mope the whole damn time. How did Swinton’s character put up with that mopey bastards for hundreds of years (or thousands, maybe – I don’t remember)? If I want mopey “teen-angsty” vampires, I’ll watch Twilight. Can’t vampires be happy?! They’re immortal! That’s cool, isn’t it? Grumpy fuckers. Or is that grumpy suckers? This movie just reinforces my opinion that The Lost Boys is the best vampire movie ever. 😉

Um. What else? I’m bored. Review over! Just so you know, nothing happens in this movie. Hiddleston mopes. Swinton puts up with his moping. Wasikowska is a total bitch who stays with mopey Hiddleston & big sis Swinton for a while, which makes Hiddleston mope even more. Yelchin (the only non-vampire) and Hurt (a dying vampire – I can’t remember how that’s possible and I don’t care) were good and helped to make the movie slightly watchable. Without them… Meh. A movie having no plot is okay as long as you have really great characters (like in Dazed And Confused) and a movie with lacklustre characters is okay as long as you have a great story (like in Circle). Only Lovers Left Alive lacks both a good plot and good characters. But it has a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDb so what the hell do I know?!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Byzantium (2012)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring as well. I actually slightly preferred Only Lovers Left Alive because at least that movie had a bit more style & better actors. To be fair, I watched these movies back to back while cleaning the house so I wasn’t exactly paying full attention. But if they’d actually been GOOD, I’d have stopped doing the housework and sat down to watch them properly. Thanks to Byzantium, I now have a very organized bookshelf.

Let’s see… What do I vaguely recall from this movie? I recall hating Gemma Arterton’s annoying accent. I’m terrible with accents so don’t know if she was doing it well or not but it was like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe I just don’t like her… I don’t think I’ve seen her in much but the quality of her acting in this film certainly didn’t impress me. Saoirse Ronan was far better in this film – I usually like her okay and she’s the best thing about this movie.

Er. You know, I honestly can’t remember much of this movie now. Lots of blood. It was a far more bloody vampire movie than Only Lovers Left Alive. More bloody, shittier acting, an actual plot but one that I can barely remember now, less moping but still pretty mopey overall (seriously – cheer the fuck up, vampires!), and no John Hurt or anyone with true star power to help elevate the film. Oh, I now recall that all the first vampires were men & they didn’t want any to be women but then Arterton became the first female vampire (if I remember right). So there’s a bit of a “girl vampire power” thing going on in the film, which was okay but kind of undone by all the terrible treatment of the women in the movie. And I still don’t like Arterton.

My Rating: 5.5/10

The Witch (2015) Review

The Witch (2015)
(stylized as The VVitch, subtitled A New-England Folktale)

Directed & Written by Robert Eggers

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Witch follows a Puritan family encountering forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm.

My Opinion:

I’d really been looking forward to this after it got some great reviews, which is rare for a horror movie. I’ve been very disappointed with the horror genre these last 20 years or so. It’s so rare to get a good one anymore. However, there’s been an increase in good horror films the past few years (I especially loved The Babadook & It Follows). I did a list last October of My Top Ten Horror Movies Of The 21st Century and was disappointed I’d not yet seen The Witch as it sounded like another good modern horror that may actually make my list. I’m sad to say that, while I think it’s an okay film, I can’t say I loved it & I certainly don’t need to add it to that Top Ten list.

I can see why it has its fans. There’s a good atmosphere & I did like the genuine oldy worldy feel of witches & satanic goats & all that good devil stuff. When it comes to horror subgenres, I love a good devil movie! The Omen is a favorite. What a classic. And I guess I can again plug one of my favorite top ten lists – My Top Ten Devil & Hell Songs. Clearly, witches and demons make for great movie & music material. Therefore, I suppose it didn’t help that I had such high expectations for this movie…

Anya Taylor-Joy does a good job as Thomasin, a girl whose deeply religious 17th century Puritan family go a bit crazy when mysterious happenings occur. Her mother (Kate Dickie, who was Lysa Arryn in Game Of Thrones) is a nutjob once again engaging in some breastfeeding weirdness. She’s a bit like Carrie’s mother in Carrie but unfortunately not nearly as entertaining as the wonderful Piper Laurie in that. When bad things start happening, such as the disappearance of her newborn, she blames Thomasin for everything. There’s lots of praying & religious hysteria & I really wanted poor Thomasin to be able to get away from all that shit. Luckily, her father does have some sense and tries to protect her a little bit. Except for Thomasin & her father, it was hard to really care about what would happen to anyone.

The Witch is a good old-fashioned atmospheric horror movie that relies on a slow build-up of terror instead of jump scares and/or lots of gore. It’s my type of horror but just didn’t quite work for me. Overall, I was a bit bored but can see why some people really liked it.

My Rating: 6.5/10

October Horror Month 2017

It’s that time of year again! That time when I think “I’m going to review nothing but horror movies every weekday for all of October!”. But then I get bored with it all by Week 2 and wonder why I try to make myself do these things.

Well! I make no promises but I’ve watched quite a few horror films in the past year & I’ll try to review what I can in October. I’ll be throwing in a few “thrillers” as opposed to full-on horrors plus I have a few posts (a couple of top tens & a book review) that aren’t exactly horror-related. But, for the most part, I’ll try to make this month horrific. I mean, all my writing is horrific anyway…

I’ll even give you a list of what I’m hoping to review. And it’s already ranked! Because I’m a nerd. 😉 From my least favorite to favorite, here are the horrors & thrillers I’ve watched in the past twelve months & I hope to review those I haven’t, starting on Monday:

Lifeforce
The Forest
The Neon Demon
Byzantium
Only Lovers Left Alive
The Girl On The Train
Poltergeist (2015)
Ghostbusters (2016)
Ouija: Origin Of Evil
Green Room
Monster Hunter
Mother!
Alien: Covenant
The Watcher In The Woods
Split
The Witch
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Get Out
The Wailing
Pontypool
Before I Wake
Coherence
The Gift
The Final Girls
Hausu
Train To Busan
It

Altered States (1980) Blind Spot Review

Altered States (1980)

Directed by Ken Russell

Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Drew Barrymore

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Altered States is a 1980 American science-fiction horror film directed by Ken Russell and adapted from a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. The film was adapted from Chayefsky’s only novel and is his final screenplay. Both the novel and the film are based on John C. Lilly’s sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like mescaline, ketamine and LSD.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite (I’ve finished watching them all! Just need to review the rest):

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. House (Hausu 1977)
8. The King & I
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Ghost In The Shell
4. Wolf Children
3. Watership Down
2. The Untouchables
1. Rocky

As with a lot of my Blind Spot picks, Altered States was put on the list as I’ve been meaning to see it for years. I’d heard it described as a “Body Horror” film and I have a strange fascination with those (I did a list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies HERE). I’d say I liked it okay but it didn’t really live up to my expectations. And it’s certainly not a David Cronenberg-style body horror, which is the kind of thing I go for. It IS pretty bizarre, though, so I appreciated that. But I became a bit bored with it overall. Oh well – I still found it far more entertaining than this year’s Blind Spot choice of The Last Temptation Of Christ.


**Yeah, this photo is from Altered States – not The Last Temptation Of Christ…

I didn’t know beforehand that this movie is (I’m assuming rather loosely) based on John C. Lilly’s real-life isolation tank experiments (as in the plot synopsis up there). So I then looked up John C. Lilly (here on Wikipedia) as I admit I’d never heard of him & read a little about his research. Whoa – talk about an interesting life! Man I’m boring. And those 60’s drugs sound crazy, man. His isolation tank experiments seem less bizarre than some of the many other things he researched, such as dolphin communication and what he called “Solid State Intelligence” and “Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.)”. Whaaat? I can’t even explain those – just read the Wikipedia entry. Has anyone read his work? I think I’d be confused as hell. But I doubt he ever actually “devolved” into some kind of apelike creature like William Hurt did in this movie (Sorry – Spoiler??). I’m sure this movie was pretty “out-there” in 1980 but parts of it are very silly when watching it now for the first time.

Sorry – this is going to be a short review. I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. I think the science behind it all was just way too far over my head. Or maybe it would help to watch this while using mescaline, ketamine and LSD to better understand Hurt’s experiences while drugged-up & suspended in the isolation tank??? I have to say I’ve always wanted to try those float therapy places where you float in water in a dark tank for an hour or whatever. I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to turn into this:

Or this:

But I wouldn’t mind looking like this:

The naked lady is actress Blair Brown, who I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else. Well, apparently she was in Dogville but I can’t say I remember her character. Anyway, she plays William Hurt’s wife in this & I thought she was really good. I felt sorry for her character having to put up with all of Hurt’s weird, rambling, intellectual mumbo jumbo. He treated her pretty crap and I kept forgetting they had kids together as his family took a backseat to his research. Hell – one of their kids was even played by Drew Barrymore & I somehow managed to totally miss that since they were barely a part of the film. I love Drew! Oh, Altered States doesn’t manage to make it onto My Top Ten Drew Barrymore Movies list I did ages ago, so… Good! I won’t have to update that list. Hurt did well with the role – it’s just such a hard character to relate to in any way.

I probably sound more negative about this film than I actually feel. I think it’s worth watching as it’s quite unique and I did enjoy some of the imagery, such as in these last few photos I’ve put in this post. I wish there’d been more of that but we also had simian Hurt running around with his monkey balls out & crucified, multi-eyed, Jesus-goat-thingy Hurt and it was hard to take the movie too seriously as these specific effects haven’t aged as well as the more psychedelic scenes have. I’m glad I finally saw Altered States and another Ken Russell film other than Tommy. I prefer Tommy, but that’ll mainly be because of the music.

My Rating: 6.5/10



**I think that’s Drew in this movie, although I can’t say for sure. Aww. So cute!

Cell (2016) Review

Welcome to my final day of Stephen King Week. King turned 70 yesterday so I posted something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews (including 2017’s It), and two Top Ten lists (My Top Ten Stephen King Movies & My Top Ten Stephen King Books). Today I’m reviewing the film adaptation of his novel Cell.

Cell (2016)

Directed by Tod Williams

Based on Cell by Stephen King

Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Owen Teague, Clark Sarullo, Anthony Reynolds, Erin Elizabeth Burns, Stacy Keach

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England.

My Opinion:

Okay, what I’d heard about Cell is true: the movie isn’t good. However, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as its rating on things like IMDb (4.3 out of 10. Yikes). I’ll say that I quite liked the Stephen King book (it just makes it into My Top Ten Stephen King Books list) although it certainly doesn’t seem to be a favorite for most people. And it’s likely to drop out of my Top Ten over time as it’s admittedly not one of his best pieces of work. I’ve just always had a thing for anything at all post-apocalyptic and this story of a “zombie-like” plague of sorts is so my type of thing that I’m probably more forgiving of its flaws than I should be. Story: Good. Execution: Not so good.

The movie starts out okay. As always, things were changed from what I remember of the novel now but the overall story stays close enough. The problem with both the film and book, however, is that the story falls apart at the end. I like King when he’s at his most bizarre & supernatural but not everyone is going to buy into that sort of thing and this novel’s ending was one that was never going to translate well to film. On the written page, it’s easier to suspend disbelief & King has a way of writing which makes you accept some weird ass shit. On screen, it rarely works well. And it unfortunately didn’t work well for this movie.

I spent a long time reviewing It (the 2017 version) the other day as I liked that one a lot & I get all excited and chatty when I see a movie that I truly enjoy. Boring, predictable, poorly made movies just kind of suck my will to live and forcing myself to “review” them is a struggle. I’m sad to say that’s the way I feel about Cell. I can’t be bothered. It was only about three weeks ago that I watched this and I can barely remember the damn thing. I believe I got bored & started f*^king around on my (cell!) phone, meaning I certainly wasn’t giving this my full attention. At least I didn’t turn into a cell phone “zombie”. But aren’t we all cell phone zombies already anyway?!?! Hmmmmmm. Is that the moral of this story? You’d like to think so! But what could’ve been a thoughtful social commentary is nothing more than yet another zombie story.

I like both John Cusack & Samuel L. Jackson but I can’t say they were trying to win any acting Oscars for this one. 1408 is a better movie if you’re specifically wanting a King movie starring Cusack & Jackson. I remember liking the girl & young boy in the book (I’m too lazy to look up their names) but the movie manages to make us not give the slightest shit about the fate of any of these characters. Heck, the most enjoyment I got from this was seeing Stacy Keach as it reminded me of the last thing I saw him in: Class Of 1999a movie probably even worse than Cell, in which he looked like THIS…

What’s up with the banana? I don’t know. And I’m not sure what exactly made this movie so bad. I suppose it’s mainly due to the lack of decent character development. As I said in my It review on Wednesday, it’s the characters that really made that film so enjoyable. Horror movies are the worst for giving us underdeveloped characters. It IS possible to have a good story and good characters within the horror genre. Why are there so few??

Meh. Cell isn’t the worst horror movie I’ve seen but it’s just another forgettable one to add to the huge pile of bland films in this genre. Both the book & film are guilty of missing the opportunity to really say something about our smartphones destroying society & all that. But, to be fair, the book is over ten years old now so it’s already starting to feel a bit dated. If I remember correctly, you have to actually be talking on a phone to get the virus in this movie. I mean, who the hell actually uses their smartphone as a phone?!?! I’ve typed this entire review on my phone but I can’t remember the last time I talked into it other than to say “Hey Siri, I see a little silhouetto of a man!“. People don’t talk to each other. Social media is the opposite of social. That’s the problem. Oh well – not every movie has to have deeper meaning, I guess. I found the book a fun read. It’s too bad the movie isn’t a bit better. Oh, and I still f*^king love my cell phone. I just wish they’d changed the title to Mobile in the UK because it’s such a horrible title that it would’ve been kind of amusing.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Top Ten Stephen King Books

Happy Birthday to Stephen King, who turns 70 today!

Welcome to Day Four of Stephen King Week. I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews (including 2017’s It), and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m posting my list of My Top Ten Stephen King Books.

I love Stephen King’s books, which I’ve been reading ever since the age of about 12 when a friend let me borrow his Night Shift short story collection during study hall. I was immediately hooked. That version had the hand with the eyeballs on the cover (from the creepy short story I Am the Doorway):

It’s funny how the brain works: I remember the short stories in Night Shift as if I read them yesterday while I have trouble remembering some of King’s stuff that I read in later years. I suppose it’s a combination of it being a damn good book & the fact that we often seem to have a good memory for the things we loved in our formative years.

Anyway, I’ve always loved King’s short stories & novellas just as much as his full length novels so I don’t want to ignore the collections in this post. As they’d be too difficult to “rank” alongside one-story novels, my below list is a ranking of only King’s full-length fictional novels. But I’m going to talk a little about each of his short story collections at the end of this post too (Well, hell – there are ten so I suppose I can “rank” the collections as well. Oh I do love making lists!). 😉

First, here are My Top Ten Stephen King Full-Length Novels. As always, though, I’m doing a full ranking from least favorite to favorite book and I’ve read 37 in total. Here we go!

The Rest That I’ve Read

37. Dreamcatcher
36. The Regulators
35. Desperation (I honestly can’t remember which is which of The Regulators & Desperation – I barely remember either of them)
34. The Tommyknockers
33. Bag Of Bones
32. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
31. Dolores Claiborne (Could do with re-reading)

Top Thirty:

30. Finders Keepers
29. From A Buick 8
28. The Dark Half
27. Under The Dome
26. Blaze
25. Gerald’s Game
24. Thinner
23. Revival
22. Lisey’s Story
21. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

Top Twenty:

20. Duma Key
19. Doctor Sleep
18. Cujo
17. Insomnia
16. End Of Watch
15. Rose Madder
14. Misery
13. Pet Sematary
12. Needful Things
11. The Running Man

Top Ten:

10. 11/22/63

9. Cell (I know I have this too high & will probably change my mind over time. I’ll be reviewing the movie tomorrow so will talk a little about the book too.)

8. Joyland

7. Mr. Mercedes

6. The Long Walk

5. The Shining

4. It

3. The Green Mile

2. ‘Salem’s Lot

1. The Dead Zone

Need To Re-Read:

Rage & Roadwork (I don’t remember them at all) & The Stand. I must have read three quarters of The Stand in my twenties then got too busy in life & took so long to get back to it that I’d have to start from the beginning again. It’s… long! It was great so I still regret not finishing.

Not Read:

Carrie, Firestarter, Christine, Cycle Of The Werewolf, The Talisman, The Eyes Of The Dragon, The Dark Tower Series (other than Book 1), The Plant, Black House, The Colorado Kid, Sleeping Beauties (book coming soon)

Now here are My Top Ten Stephen King Short Story & Novella Collections (ranked from least favorite to favorite). I’ve included my favorite stories from each collection as well:

10. Full Dark, No Stars: Big Driver & A Good Marriage. It’s weird that I don’t remember this collection that well when it’s not that old. I liked A Good Marriage but somehow didn’t even remember I’d read it until I was halfway through watching the film

9. Everything’s Eventual: 1408 is the only story I really remember from this collection. It’s a good one (and decent movie adaptation, as well).

8. Hearts In Atlantis: The story Hearts In Atlantis was very good but I somehow don’t remember the slightest thing about the other stories in this book…

7. Just After Sunset: Willa, The Gingerbread Girl, Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, Graduation Afternoon. Looks like I remember quite a few, so obviously a pretty strong collection.

6. Skeleton Crew: The Mist (could do with re-reading), The Monkey, The Raft & The Jaunt (this last one haunts me to this day).

5. Four Past Midnight: The Langoliers, Secret Window Secret Garden & The Sun Dog (this creeped me the hell out). These stories were great but perhaps my absolute least favorite story of King’s is also in this book: The Library Policeman. Urgh.

4. Different Seasons: The book where only The Breathing Method didn’t become a movie because, seriously, that would NOT work as a film…! The Body became the brilliant Stand By Me, Apt Pupil was turned into an okay film, and it’s obvious what movie came from Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption. I worship that film. Is it time to confess that it’s the only story in this collection that I can’t bring myself to read as I love the film so much? There. I’ve admitted it.

3. Nightmares & Dreamscapes: The End Of The Whole Mess, Chattery Teeth, You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band, Sorry Right Number, Crouch End. Another really strong collection I remember well despite it being fairly old now. It might help that several of these were made into shorts for the TV series.

2. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams: The Dune, Ur, Under The Weather, Drunken Fireworks, Summer Thunder. A really recent book I was very happy with after King’s collections from more recent years have been a bit weak compared to his oldest stuff. And I reviewed every single story in full (I’m a nerd).

1. Night Shift: Jerusalem’s Lot, The Ledge, Children Of The Corn, The Last Rung On The Ladder. I love this book so much. My introduction to King & still possibly my favorite book overall. I think he writes fantastic short stories (as does his son Joe Hill, FYI – I highly recommend 20th Century Ghosts). Children Of The Corn is really good (I think it was a hard one to translate to film without it ending up as cheesy as it did). The Last Rung On The Ladder is heartbreaking and possibly the one that most got me hooked on his work (odd, considering it’s a non-horror). Actually, it was Last Rung as well as Jerusalem’s Lot that got me hooked. Jerusalem’s Lot is a story set in the same town as in Salem’s Lot, which I have very high on my novel list. I remember actually almost enjoying the shorter story even more. Sometimes less is more.

People skip these short stories & novellas sometimes but they really shouldn’t be ignored. I think there’s almost more skill to making a short story really good (which is why my posts are always too long. I’m no writer! Blah blah blah. I need to get to the point).

Phew. I think I’ve covered everything? I’ve read none of King’s Nonfiction but Danse Macabre does sound interesting.

It (2017) Review

Welcome to Day Three of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 tomorrow so I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m reviewing the recent It film.

It (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of seven children in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by the eponymous being, only to face their own personal demons in the process.

My Opinion:

Is it weird that I’m so happy that this film is kicking ass at the box office?? I just love it when one of King’s books actually gets a good film adaptation and, even better, when it gets a lot of really positive reviews. I did a list yesterday of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (this film was at number five if you don’t feel like clicking that link). I admitted in that list that, while I always watch & enjoy all adaptations of King’s work, some of the movies have been pretty damn awful. But then we occasionally get masterpieces like The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me to make up for the bad ones. It (the film – such a confusing title!) isn’t quite up there with the likes of those two but I’m very happy to say that it’s easily one of the better Stephen King movies of the many that have been made. Yes! I love when the movies do his novels justice.

You’ve all probably seen reviews by now that compare this to Stand By Me and that’s a very accurate description. Stand By Me with added horror, of course. Like that, this is a coming of age tale first and foremost and I’ve always loved a good coming of age tale. That’s why I’m actually a bit surprised that this film has done as well as it has as I can’t see it being loved by full-on “horror” fans. Pennywise the clown is a great creation but I have to say that I don’t find either this or the 1990 version scary. The book is a bit unsettling but I wouldn’t say that feeling fully translated to the films. I’ve never been one to get too scared by movies, though. As far as “creepy” goes, Kubrick’s The Shining certainly has this film (and pretty much every other horror film) beat. It’s a shame that King hates that adaptation – I think it’s one of the greatest horror films of all time.

I think the main difference between the 1990 It and the 2017 It is that Tim Curry’s Pennywise is the true star of the 1990 film while the kids are what make the 2017 version so good. I think this version has done things right in focusing more on the kids & their relationships with one another. I will always be fond of the 1990 film & prefer Curry’s Pennywise to Bill Skarsgård’s somewhat dull (and a little too funny-looking) Pennywise. It felt like Curry was truly having fun in the role & his Pennywise had far more personality. But… This story is about the kids. It’s about all kids who felt like “losers” when growing up. Pennywise shouldn’t really be stealing the show and I’m glad this version gets the balance right in making the kids the stars while also giving us just enough of the monster to keep the story interesting.

The kids all did a great job in this film. As has been said, It has a very Stranger Things feel to it. But of course it would since The Duffer Brothers wanted to make It but went on to instead make Stranger Things, which is meant to feel like King meets Spielberg. Plus It used one of the same actors from that show (Finn Wolfhard, who bizarrely looks like The Shining’s Shelley Duvall). I have to say that the girl playing Beverly (Sophia Lillis) was especially good. She’s like a young Amy Adams (which is a compliment as I love Adams). I’d be surprised if Lillis, as well as most of the rest of this young cast, doesn’t go on to become a big star. However, I’m so glad they AREN’T big stars yet as having a cast of relatively unknown actors was a huge plus for this movie (in my opinion, anyway). I loved not having the distraction of having seen them in a million other things.


I do have to admit that the time period this is set in (1989 into 1990) was another huge plus for me in a way that may not work as well for the current younger generation. Or maybe that doesn’t matter? I loved Stand By Me & 1990’s It even though those kids were living in the late 1950s. I suppose the coming of age dramas tend to transcend their time period as kids that age still go through all the same sort of emotions. Although I found it kind of hilarious/scary reading this article about how the film’s director had to start a “bicycle camp” to teach these pre/early teen actors how to ride bikes for the film(!!).

But oh how I loved seeing kids the same age as me in this movie’s ’89/’90 time period. Well, sort of… I was the age of the slightly older bullies back then. And, like the bullies, I was also a huge fan of Anthrax. Anthrax! There’s an Anthrax song in this movie!!! But I’ll come back to that at the end of this review – I just want to point out that I was more like the kids being bullied than the ones doing the bullying, even though I was a metalhead. 😉 And I had way too much fun seeing the movie marquees in the film’s background accurately portraying the movie releases of that time (god I’m a nerd). And I enjoyed the fact that I could almost hear a massive WHOOSH in the cinema as the New Kids On The Block jokes went right over the heads of those in the audience. Not that I liked NKOTB… Anthrax!!! Oh, and there are lots of fun Easter Eggs in this film so, if you’re a King fan, be on the lookout for them. And read the IMDb trivia for the movie afterwards – there’s loads of fascinating info there.

I think I should try to wrap this up now or I’ll just continue to ramble on for ages. I’m clearly very happy with this adaptation of a favorite book by my absolute favorite author. The kids are fantastic, their characters are likeable (so rare in horror movies), there’s some Anthrax (and a few other soundtrack gems I won’t mention to keep some surprises), there’s a creepy clown who isn’t quite as cool as Tim Curry but still does the job, there are Stephen King and 1989/1990 pop culture references, poor little brother Georgie is still a cutie pie, “that” controversial scene from the book is thankfully again left out of the film, Sophia Lillis has true star power, the kids are the stars instead of the clown, this sentence is really long, and last but not least: this movie doesn’t rely on cheap horror movie “jump scares”. That’s not to say there aren’t some jumpy moments but I was impressed with how well the horror was handled. I especially loved the slideshow scene, which references a fantastic King novella in Four Past Midnight that really gave me the creeps. It focuses on telling its story and on its characters then it focuses on the horror. That’s what makes this a good film instead of yet another bland & predictable horror movie with expendable characters. I can’t wait to see the next film now, which will feature the kids as adults. However, as with the scenes involving the grown-ups in the 1990 film, I think the second film won’t have the same kind of magic as this one. There’s a special sort of innocence in these coming of age films and the ones that really capture that feeling end up being all-time favorites for some people. I know Stand By Me was that way for me when I was growing up & I can see It being that way for a new generation.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Back to Anthrax, as promised**

As I said, I was a big Anthrax fan in my high school days and the fact that they had an Anthrax song & t-shirt in this movie filled me with such boring old-fart joy. I’ll assume they were used on purpose as they were always big fans of Stephen King and their songs so often referenced his work (such as The Stand in Among The Living & Misery in Misery Loves Company). I bet Anthrax are happy as f*%k that their song Antisocial is in a Stephen King film. And this was possibly my favorite song of theirs at the time, being the socially awkward misfit that I was (am). Anthrax!!! \m/ 🙂

My Top Ten Stephen King Movies

Welcome to Day Two of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 on Thursday so I’m going to post something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch, yesterday), two movie reviews (including the new It film tomorrow), and two Top Ten lists. Here’s my list of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies.

I love when Stephen King’s novels are made into movies, even though some of the films have been atrociously bad. But I do my best to watch every adaptation that I can, and… Holy shit – I’ve watched a lot. I think this is the longest list I’ve ever done since I now choose to rank everything that I’ve seen instead of just the top ten. Wait – I lie! My list of My Top “Ten” Best Picture Oscar Winners is slightly longer. But not much.

For this list, I’ve excluded TV shows & most straight-to-TV mini-series(es?!). I cheated & included It (1990) & Salem’s Lot (1979), however. They’re so good we’ll pretend they were theatrical releases (which they actually were in the UK, I think). Some others may have been TV – hard to remember. Enough faffing! Let’s start this countdown.

Here are My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (from least favorite to favorite & not judging on if they’re “loyal” to the book). I could do with re-watching a lot outside the top twenty so don’t take the order of those too seriously… 😉

**Edited October 22nd 2017 to add Gerald’s Game & 1922**

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

43. The Mangler
42. Sleepwalkers
41. The Lawnmower Man (WTF? Shares only the title.)
40. Dolan’s Cadillac
39. Rose Red
38. The Night Flier (Don’t really remember this)
37. Sometimes They Come Back
36. Dreamcatcher (Why, Morgan?!)
35. Quicksilver Highway
34. Desperation (Also don’t really remember)
33. 1922
32. Cell
31. Storm Of The Century
30. A Good Marriage
29. Carrie (2013)
28. The Dark Half
27. Apt Pupil
26. Dolores Claiborne (Could do with re-watching)
25. Thinner
24. Secret Window
23. Needful Things
22. The Langoliers
21. Hearts In Atlantis (I need to re-watch this – it probably deserves to be higher)

Top Twenty:

20. Christine (Again, I could do with re-watching this)
19. 1408
18. Firestarter
17. Cujo (Although the complete change of ending was odd)
16. Maximum Overdrive (I like this more than I should. The soundtrack helps.)
15. Children Of The Corn (I like this. Not ashamed. Malachai!)
14. Creepshow 1 & 2 (I could do with re-watching. To be honest, I’m not sure which is which so stuck them together)
13. Misery (I know this should be higher)
12. Silver Bullet (I know this should be lower but, you know, it has one of the Two Coreys…)
11. Cat’s Eye

Top Ten:

10. TIE: The Running Man & Gerald’s Game

9. ‘Salem’s Lot

8. The Dead Zone

7. Pet Sematary

6. The Mist

5. TIE: It (1990) & It (2017) (In all honesty, the 2017 adaptation is the superior film but I’ll always have affection for the 1990 version and, of course, Tim Curry)

4. The Green Mile

3. Carrie

2. The Shining

1. TIE: Stand By Me & The Shawshank Redemption (Sorry. Don’t make me choose between them!)

Movies Not Seen:
Graveyard Shift, Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, Children Of The Corn II through VIII & TV Movie, Sometimes They Come Back…Again & …For More, Trucks, The Rage: Carrie 2, Firestarter 2, Carrie (2002), The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer, Riding The Bullet, ‘Salem’s Lot (2004), Big Driver, The Dark Tower

TV Series/TV Movies:

Seen:
Golden Years, The Tommyknockers, The Stand, The Shining (1997), Nightmares & Dreamscapes, Haven (Saw most of. Stopped watching when it stopped being pretty damn good.)

Didn’t finish:
Under The Dome (Started. Stopped. Not bothered. Hated the book’s characters.), The Dead Zone (2002) (Saw most of this. Pretty good show. Need to finish.), 11.22.63 (Started. Just don’t have the time to devote to TV shows nowadays.)

Not Seen:
Bag Of Bones, Kingdom Hospital, Mr. Mercedes, The Mist (2017), Various short stories…

**I cannot WAIT for Castle Rock to start up as I adore King’s short stories & want to see more of them made! But it’s gonna air on this Hulu thingymabob so who the hell knows how/when/if I’ll ever see that in the UK… 😦

Stephen King Week At CPD

Hi all! Starting on Monday, I’ve decided to do a Stephen King Week on my blog. King turns 70 next week so I’m going to post something King-related Monday through Friday. One book review, two movie reviews (including the new It film), and two Top Ten lists. Unlike certain political leaders, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I hope to chat with some fellow fans next week. 🙂

The Raid (2011) Blind Spot Review

The Raid (2011)
US Title – The Raid: Redemption
Serbuan maut
ザ・レイド

Directed & Written by Gareth Huw Evans

Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Sathya

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Raid is a 2011 Indonesian martial arts action–survival film in which an elite squad is tasked to infiltrate a high-rise building – run by a ruthless drug lord – located in the slums of Jakarta. Among them is Rama (played by Uwais), a rookie member of the team.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

9. The Last Temptation Of Christ
8. The Raid
7. The King & I
6. The Hustler
5. Jackie Brown
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Watership Down
2. The Untouchables
1. Rocky

Even though The Raid is second from the bottom, I did really like it. This is just a strong list of movies! The only one I can’t say I really liked at all was The Last Temptation Of Christ.

I was expecting to maybe like The Raid more than I did, though. I loved the fast-paced action and the whole concept of battling their way through this high-rise building, which is such a simple yet brilliant idea for an action movie. And the movie does kick ass (although it was a bit too violent for me – I’m such a wuss).

I would never say that action movies are a favorite genre of mine but I do enjoy a really good one. The problem with action movies is that there are a lot of really bad ones and, while I don’t expect all of them to have much depth and am happy to sometimes just switch off my brain & be entertained, I do want to at least care about some of the characters. For me, an action movie either needs to be a) SO awesome & kick-ass that flaws in writing and weak character development can be overlooked or b) well-written with some really great characters & just enough action to keep things interesting. I prefer option b but option b with kick-ass action would be great. I’m trying to think of a “perfect” action movie. Hmm…. I don’t know. Maybe Aliens? Although I first think of sci-fi with that. The Terminator is another one. Maybe I only really like action within science fiction. What’s my point? I have no idea. I think what I’m saying is that The Raid is mostly option a. It’s a kick-ass action movie but is far more shallow than I was expecting after all the praise it’s had. I really liked our main “hero”, Rama, so that kept me caring about the final outcome but everyone else is as expendable as they’re written to be.

I did enjoy this movie so don’t want to come across as too negative. In thinking about what I consider to be my all-time favorite films, very few are from the action or crime genres. If this movie sounds like your type of thing, it’s one you should definitely watch if you haven’t. It’s a thoroughly entertaining film and I’m very much looking forward to seeing its sequel, which is even more highly rated for some reason. I’m hoping we maybe get a little more story & time spent on our main characters in that one?

I’m going to end by comparing The Raid to some other films. One obvious one is Die Hard (what with the whole baddies taking over a high-rise building thing). I’m not a huge lover of Die Hard like most people my age but it’s an action classic. Which is the better of the two? Probably Die Hard, and this is due to better characters. Another is the one a lot of people compare this to: Dredd. Although Dredd came out after The Raid, I saw it first & really liked it so it probably made seeing The Raid a little less interesting for me. Which is better? In a way, I think I enjoyed Dredd slightly more but The Raid is the better film. Dredd is 100% option a. No character development, shallow as hell, but really f*^king cool. I’d love to see them make a Dredd sequel but I don’t give a shit about what happens to the characters whereas I want to see The Raid 2 to see what happens since I cared just enough about (whoever may or may not have survived…? Spoilers??? 😉 ). Finally, it may seem an odd comparison but as I saw The Raid & Train To Busan recently, both are still in my mind. Well, they’re both foreign language films & they’re from the two genres that usually have the weakest characters: action & horror. The better film? Definitely Train To Busan. Why? Great characters! In a horror film!! So, it is possible. I suppose I just wanted a little something more from The Raid. I had a lot of fun watching it but it lacks that extra “something” that makes a film a true all-time classic.

My Rating: 7.5/10

After finally seeing The Raid, I definitely wouldn’t want to piss off Kanjiklub.

My Top Ten Jack Black Movies

Happy Birthday to Jack Black, who turns 48 today.

I love Jack Black. Some people hate Jack Black. I had no idea! I suppose he’s an acquired taste. But I love that first Tenacious D album. I don’t care what anyone says! Great songs on that. 🙂

So here are My Top Ten Jack Black Movies (ranked by how much I like the movie, not performance – I’m aware some of these are tiny roles). Damn – looks like I still need to watch Demolition Man, which most people said I should watch after it wasn’t on my list of My Top Ten Sandra Bullock Movies. Oops.

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

23. The Fan
22. Bio-Dome
21. Shallow Hal
20. Shark Tale
19. Anchorman
18. Tropic Thunder
17. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
16. Waterworld
15. Orange County
14. Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny
13. The Holiday
12. Be Kind Rewind
11. The Cable Guy

Top Ten:

10. Enemy Of The State

9. Ice Age

8. King Kong

7. The Muppets

6. The Kung Fu Panda Movies

5. Mars Attacks!

4. Goosebumps

3. Bernie

2. High Fidelity

1. School Of Rock

Not Seen:

Demolition Man, Neverending Story III, Dead Man Walking, The Jackal, Saving Silverman, Envy, Nacho Libre, Margot At The Wedding, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Year One, Gulliver’s Travels, The Big Year, Sex Tape