Halloween Horror Music: Ice Nine Kills

I first discovered this band in early 2020 when a guy from work recommended them to me as he knows I like heavy metal music as well as horror movies. I admit I’ve not listened to their other albums as it was The Silver Scream album that appealed to me. It’s a heavy metal album with each song being about a different horror film. It couldn’t be more perfect for me & my interests & this blog! I’ve been meaning to write a little something about them & now seemed like the perfect time just before Halloween. Plus, they’ve just released The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood!

Well, my main focus here is movies but I do love music too. I’ve never written about music, though, so I’ll be very brief. This post is mainly just to maybe introduce these albums to others. I don’t know how the hell to write about music. Well, I don’t know how to write about movies, either… Ha!

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream

I really like this album, although it’s heavier (well, “screamier”) than the classic type of metal I tend to go for. A lot of the movies they did songs for on this first album are favorites of mine (A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Shining, The Crow & even the not-so-horror Edward Scissorhands). Now, with both of these albums, I don’t love every song. Some are definitely better than others but I absolutely love the concept & it’s a lot of fun having two albums based on some of the best horror movies. (I should point out that they also did an album of songs based on books, Every Trick in the Book, which I’ve not checked out yet.)

From this album, my favorites are probably The American Nightmare & Stabbing in the Dark. Here’s the full list of songs & the movies they’re based on (from Wikipedia):

1. “The American Nightmare” – A Nightmare on Elm Street
2. “Thank God It’s Friday” – Friday the 13th
3. “Stabbing in the Dark” – Halloween
4. “Savages” – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
5. “The Jig Is Up” – Saw
6. “A Grave Mistake” – The Crow
7. “Rocking the Boat” – Jaws
8. “Enjoy Your Slay” – The Shining
9. “Freak Flag” – The Devil’s Rejects (not seen this. not bothered)
10. “The World in My Hands” – Edward Scissorhands
11. “Merry Axe-mas” – Silent Night, Deadly Night (not seen this either but want to)
12. “Love Bites” – An American Werewolf in London
13. “It Is the End” – It

Ice Nine Kills – The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood

I’ve only just found out about this new album so have only listened to it a couple of times while working. I believe that some have videos as well? Will check it out more this week but the first one to really catch my ear was the Child’s Play one Assault & Batteries. It seems to be a take on the old Toys R Us jingle (in America), so I thought that was clever. Here’s the track listing for this one from Wikipedia:

1. “Opening Night…”
2. “Welcome to Horrorwood”
3. “A Rash Decision” – Cabin Fever
4. “Assault & Batteries” – Child’s Play
5. “The Shower Scene” – Psycho
6. “Funeral Derangements” – Pet Sematary
7. “Rainy Day” – Resident Evil (not seen this)
8. “Hip to Be Scared” – American Psycho
9. “Take Your Pick” – My Bloody Valentine
10. “The Box” – Hellraiser
11. “F.L.Y.” – The Fly
12. “Würst Vacation” – Hostel (not seen this. not interested)
13. “Ex-Mørtis” – The Evil Dead
14. “Farewell II Flesh” – Candyman

Willy’s Wonderland (2021) & Saint Maud (2019) Reviews

Happy “Halloween Week”! Here are two horror movies that I thought were pretty good. I thoroughly enjoyed one but didn’t love the other, although I thought it was a good film. Probably obvious which was which…

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

Directed by Kevin Lewis

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec, Christian Del Grosso, Caylee Cowan, Terayle Hill, Jonathan Mercedes, David Sheftell, Beth Grant

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It follows a quiet drifter who is tricked into cleaning up an abandoned family entertainment center haunted by eight murderous animatronic characters.

My Opinion:

I was never a huge fan of Nicolas Cage but he’s finally growing on me since Mandy. Mandy grew on me a lot too – I wasn’t sure how I felt right away but now I love that film & its look and its amazing score. I now want every Nicolas Cage movie to live up to Mandy but I don’t think any ever will. I did enjoy Color Out Of Space & it certainly gave Mandy a run for its money on “weirdness”. I love weird. It was no Mandy but I’m loving that Cage chooses such bizarre films with cult movie potential.

He’s done similar again with Willy’s Wonderland but in the horror comedy genre this time (a favorite subgenre of mine). I was so damn excited to see the trailer for a film starring Cage battling demonic animatronic characters. Love this idea! The film sadly didn’t quite live up to its amazing potential but I still had a lot of fun with it. And Cage was as bonkers as always, even while remaining silent through the whole film. It has a good ’80s slasher sort of vibe to it as well, so I appreciated that. The ’80s had some of the best “bad” horror movies & I’ll always happily watch this kind of thing.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Saint Maud (2019)

Directed & Written by Rose Glass

Starring: Morfydd Clark, Jennifer Ehle

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.

My Opinion:

Watched this British psychological horror as so many went on about it but it’s one of those films being raved over for the performance. And I agree that Morfydd Clark was very good so this was worth watching for that. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “The story follows hospice nurse Maud (portrayed by Morfydd Clark), a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, who becomes obsessed with a former dancer in her care (Jennifer Ehle), believing she must save her soul.

The movie is fine but does drag a bit. I did like the slowly building tension, though, and thought the ending was good. Not one I’d watch again but am glad I checked out. I recommend it only if you like the more serious type of horrors with good acting. Oh! And was I going crazy or did her face do a weird Soundgarden Black Hole Sun video thing a couple of times when she was having one of her God orgasms?? That was kind of freaky fun.

My Rating: 6.5/10


Black hole sun, won’t you come? And wash away the rain?

Ten Horror Movie Mini-Reviews

Since I mainly just do really short reviews the last couple of years in monthly posts, I have quite a few “reviews” of horror movies that are way too short to re-post alone. So here are all the mega short horror mini-reviews from the last two years. They’re in order from best to worst (the last few were dreadful). Love And Monsters isn’t exactly a horror movie, either, but it has monsters so I included it since it was more enjoyable than the rest.

Love And Monsters – This was a lot of fun but I weirdly have very little to say about it. Don’t know why. It’s a fun idea and the main character is sweet & likeable and OH MY GOD I loved the cute dog in it and there’s a fun robot and I LOVE robots (and cute dogs!) and there are funny big monsters and there’s honestly nothing to not like about this one. It also feels very original, which I can say about very few films these days. It’s a fun family film (well, not for really young kids but fine for slightly older ones). But I didn’t quite connect with it when I thought I’d really love it. I liked it. It’s good. Maybe I just need to watch it again sometime… Cool Robot above, Cute Dog at top of post! – 7/10

Run – This one was “fine”. Man I’m bored with movies that are just “okay”! But I do love a good ’90s-style thriller and do love a CRAZY MOM (Margaret White is the best!). So I did enjoy this movie despite it not being very good. Actually, I should maybe give it a slightly higher score. Meh. Maybe not. The young girl, Kiera Allen, was good but Sarah Paulson was a bit silly. I liked the story and the couple of twists at the end were fun. Okay, I’ve kind of talked myself into liking this one. Wish it was a better film overall. – 6/10

Sputnik – I was excited about this. Foreign sci-fi!! A Russian Alien!! Sadly, I was disappointed. I think it had a good idea (even though, yes, it’s very similar to Alien), the alien dude thing looked good, and the acting was decent. There’s even a mini twist at the very end. But… I dunno. It just didn’t quite work. I can’t explain why, though, as this is totally my type of thing. Maybe my expectations were just too high as one of my favorites last year was a foreign dystopian sci-fi film (The Platform). – 6/10

I See You – This was decent. Preferred how it started out to how it ended but liked the completely unpredictable turn it took. I appreciate that as the majority of horror films’ plots fail to surprise me in any way. But this is one of those movies that sort of switches genres halfway through & the mysterious horror at the start is more my type of thing. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “It follows a suburban family beset by unexplainable events that may be linked to the recent disappearance of a young boy.” And that really tells you nothing about this movie… Worth a watch if you like a crime horror that keeps you guessing. – 6/10

The Borderlands – I love a good horror. We get so few good horror films these days. This one was… Okay. Not even close to being a great modern horror (like It Follows, Train To Busan or The Babadook). But it was a perfectly decent example of the found footage & religious horror subgenres & had a good creepy atmosphere. I also kind of liked the ending as it got a bit weird. I like some weirdness! The whole thing could have done with more of that. I have NO clue why but this one made me think of horror movie The Ritual. That was an odd one. Oh, probably just because they’re both British. Anyway, The Ritual has gone up a bit in my estimation since I first saw it. That one was better. But if you like that, you might like this. And vice versa. – 6/10

The Haunted Mansion – Finally decided to check this one out. It’s… Fine. I’m sure it’s a favorite film for some who were kids at the right sort of age when this came out. But I only saw this two months ago & am already forgetting it. Safe & fun but forgettable family film. – 6/10

Dark Places – Oh, look – it’s young Beast from X-Men! Holy shit – I barely remember this movie either. It was only three months ago! My mind has clearly been elsewhere during this pandemic. What’s sad is that I also read this book. From what I remember of the book, this was a faithful adaptation. It just wasn’t my favorite story from Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which was a very enjoyable book (review here). But what I liked even more was her novel Sharp Objects (sort-of review here). That book was fucked up! And the TV adaptation with Amy Adams was decent. Dark Places was okay but meh. The characters are all pretty hateful (but that’s the case with all of Flynn’s books that I’ve read). Here’s the synopsis from IMDb: “Libby Day was only eight years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Almost thirty years later, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.” – 5.5/10

Brahms: The Boy II – Well, this was a massive disappointment after really enjoying the first film (which I reviewed HERE). The first film had a solid story (as far as horror goes) & a very ’80s vibe to it. Two things I love: ’80s movies & creepy dolls! The story in this sequel gets really dumb & kind of undoes the simplicity of the story in the first movie. Yet another pointless horror remake. – 5/10

Tales Of Halloween – Wow. This was absolutely dreadful. It’s a collection of short “Halloween” tales (obviously). I love a good horror anthology (Trick ‘ r Treat & Dead Of Night, for example). Watch those instead. Besides the very first story (I think) being a fucked-up but fun tale of a boy wanting his Halloween candy back, the rest are silly & ridiculous. A waste of time. – 3/10

Unfriended – I absolutely fucking hated this movie. I’m not gonna even bother to re-post my long rant about it here or add an image. Yuck. Hated these characters so much. – 4/10

As Above, So Below (2014) & Dark Skies (2013) Reviews

A couple of movies today that probably aren’t anyone’s favorites but I quite liked the alien abduction movie. Aliens freak me out. Don’t experiment on me!!

As Above, So Below (2014)

Directed by John Erick Dowdle

Starring: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, François Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
It is presented as found footage of a documentary crew’s experience exploring the Catacombs of Paris and was loosely based on the seven layers of Hell.

My Opinion:

This was disappointing. I have a fascination with the catacombs in Paris. I’ve been there and walking through row upon row of skulls & bones is a pretty freaky experience so I can see why it has inspired horror movies. But they have yet to make a good horror movie set there. There was a truly dreadful 2007 movie called Catacombs, starring Shannyn Sossamon & Pink, that I would never recommend to anyone. I actually bought that stupid DVD just because I’d been wanting a horror movie to be set in the catacombs. From what I remember, though, it did at least manage to be a little creepy.

As Above, So Below is certainly the better film of the two but it’s such a weird mishmash of genres that it just didn’t work for me. And it’s not creepy enough. I think a movie with this setting needs to be pure horror but this movie had a sort of Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider thing mixed in with the horror. And then some weird supernatural stuff which is something I normally love but was just too dumb in this case. And the characters were okay but extremely underdeveloped while our lead girl was a tad unlikeable (although the actress was fine). Oh, it’s also a “found footage” film, which not everyone likes (I don’t mind found footage). Oh yeah – there’s also some weird religious stuff going on & ancient artefacts & that kind of shit. I wanted to like this movie but the weird Lara Croft thing going on with the main girl was just awkward. I guess I was expecting a more straightforward horror film but I also give the movie credit for trying to do something a little different.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Dark Skies (2013)

Directed & Written by Scott Stewart

Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, J. K. Simmons

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
As the Barrett family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them, one which may have arrived from beyond the stars.

My Opinion:

This was fine for a horror about aliens. We’ve not had a horror movie involving aliens experimenting on us in a while. This sub genre was a big thing at one point! I’ve always found the alien abduction movies pretty effectively creepy & thought this movie was an okay example of this type of film. Maybe I liked it as the whole alien abduction thing really scared me as a young kid. I honestly thought I’d be abducted & experimented on. Seriously. I think I watched way too much old sci-fi and original Twilight Zone episodes as a kid. I also like Keri Russell as an actress (love the film Waitress). The family were likeable (as far as horror movies go – it’s not the best genre for character development) & the story was fine & it was fairly creepy. Good enough.

My Rating: 6/10

The Bachman Books by Stephen King aka Richard Bachman (Book Review)

I re-read The Bachman Books this year (a collection of four Stephen King stories originally published under his pen-name Richard Bachman). I don’t normally re-read books but it had been over 20 years since I read these. I remember absolutely loving one & really liking another but couldn’t remember anything very specific from either. The other two stories I had zero memory of whatsoever. Weird how memory works. Here they are in the order they appear in the collection…

Story 1: Rage

I can’t believe I didn’t remember a thing about this story as it later became very controversial. In fact, it is no longer being published (which King requested) so I was lucky to get an old copy of The Bachman Books at a charity shop which still includes this story. The topic is one that makes me as angry as the whole social media & bullying thing I went on about in my review of that dreadful Unfriended movie: Guns. The massive gun problem in America in general but especially in schools.

Anyway, King wanted this to stop being published after it was too strongly linked to five school shootings. I won’t go into censorship here (oh boy, another fun topic!) but I’m mostly very much against it. It depends on the situation, though, and King made the right choice. In the story, a troubled teen boy brings a gun to school & holds his class hostage. As far as the topic of guns & school shootings go, that’s not really the focus of this story and the story doesn’t go how you’d expect. I’m trying to stay spoiler free but it’s more about the struggles of growing up & the things that shape you & mental illness & fighting back against authority (maybe – it’s not made all that clear).

I kind of made the story sound better than it is. I don’t think King quite gets his point across in this story as to why this boy does this. At least he doesn’t make you sympathise with the character, which would be very irresponsible as no one should think they have the right to bring a gun into their school. The ending also goes off the rails and I didn’t see the point of that either but at least it ends in an unpredictable way. It’s terrible to think it may have inspired real shootings as it’s not the point of this story (although I’m not sure what the point is) and probably not something King would have expected to come from this short novel. Overall, the story could’ve been better had it made its point a little more clear.

My Rating: 3/5

Story 2: The Long Walk

This was the story I remembered loving. My opinion hasn’t changed. This is a great story and could make such a fantastic movie. I know Frank Darabont had the rights to it for years & I’d been desperate for him to adapt it as he did such a brilliant job with The Green Mile, The Mist and especially The Shawshank Redemption. But I just looked into it and he’s lost the rights (oh no!). There’s a plan for it to now be made by Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark & Trollhunter director André Øvredal. I’m not happy! Did like Trollhunter but was very excited at the thought of Darabont making The Long Walk. Damn.

Anyway, the story is so simple yet so horrifying: In a dystopian reality, each year 100 teenage boys have to walk until only 1 of them is still walking. The final boy wins the big final “prize”. You get to know a few of the characters pretty well, which is what I most care about in a story. This is a short novel, though, so there’s less character development than I’d like and I think this could be one of those occasions where the movie could improve on that if done by the right person (Darabont would’ve been great with the character development!). Oh well. It’s still a great story & I still hope they finally make it into a movie.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Story 3: Roadwork

I can see why I didn’t remember Roadwork as it’s not one of King’s more memorable stories. It’s about a guy who goes off the deep end when a new road being built means both his house & his company will be torn down. I’ll be honest – I haven’t quite finished reading it but I’m almost done & am gonna just review it anyway. (FYI – as I’m re-posting this I’ve of course finished it now & my opinion hasn’t changed).

I think the story is far longer than it needed to be. It does drag on & I wasn’t eager to pick it up & keep reading, which is why it took me over a month to read a novella. While the reader does have some sympathy for the guy, especially as he had a tragedy in his past, he’s really hard to fully sympathise with overall (especially as he doesn’t care at all about ruining his wife’s life along with his). The story is okay, I guess. I always enjoy reading King’s writing but this certainly isn’t a favorite.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Story 4: The Running Man

The Running Man is my second favorite of these four novellas. I think it’s a good story & am looking forward to the new film adaptation from Edgar Wright (if that’s still happening??). But I did also really like the Schwarzenegger film which, if I remember, was nothing whatsoever like the book anyway?! Need to rewatch that now to refresh my memory of that too.

What can I say? I like dystopian future stories and I liked this world where people have to “play for their lives” on game shows. I didn’t find this story very far-fetched when I first read it over 20 years ago & I find it even more plausible now. The ending is maybe a little silly but, whatever – it’s Stephen King! Who cares. I’m a fan. I feel like I’ve read only Stephen King books in 2021, though. Hmm. Oh well – libraries were closed thanks to the pandemic & I mainly only buy King’s stuff these days so it’s pretty much all I have to read in the house. 🙂

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Innocents (1961) Review

The Innocents (1961)

Directed by Jack Clayton

Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave, Pamela Franklin, Martin Stephens

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Its plot follows a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that their large estate is haunted by ghosts and that the children are being possessed.

My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see this for years. It’s one of many adaptations of the famous 1898 story The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I’ve not read the story, although I really want to now, and I had somehow managed to completely avoid having it spoiled for me in all this time. I had an idea in my mind of what it would be about and I was way off!

This sort of story is so my kind of thing. I love supernatural and I love creepy and I especially love creepy kids (and they’re always extra creepy in old movies). Here’s the very simple IMDb synopsis: “A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.” I should say that I watched this live on Talking Pictures TV (U.K.). They have a really interesting selection of old films so I recommend checking out their schedule or following them on Twitter (thanks to the hubby for telling me about the channel!).

I don’t really know what to say about this one. For one thing, I want to stay spoiler free for anyone who’s interested in watching this. Secondly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s a great film. It’s eerie, I loved the scary kids and not knowing what was going on, and Deborah Kerr was very good (that’s two movies I’ve seen her in this year, the other being the beautiful Black Narcissus).

I want to read the story now as there’s some psychological stuff going on here and I’d like to see how it’s presented in the novella. This being an old British film, there’s some f*^ked up sexual repression going on here (old British films are the best at that). I think the story can be interpreted in different ways and I’m still thinking about the ending and its meaning. It’s probably why this story remains so popular and is still being adapted to this day (the latest being Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor). I’d watch this one again as I missed some of it (the joy of having to watch live TV! First world problems, I know).

My Rating: 7.5/10

The Witches (2020) & Hubie Halloween (2020) Reviews

A couple of kid-friendly Halloween movies for Horror Month today. Although I’m not sure how kid-friendly those hideous witches in The Witches actually are…

The Witches (2020)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Based on The Witches by Roald Dahl

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Jahzir Kadeem Bruno, Chris Rock

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A young boy and his grandmother have a run-in with a coven of witches and their leader.

My Opinion:

Okay, I actually thought this movie was bloody terrible but I liked the main kid (Jahzir Bruno) and Octavia Spencer so much that I’m giving this an extra point to make up for the -1,000 points I want to subtract from it for Anne Hathaway’s dreadful performance and those horrible witches that I found far too disturbing for a kids’ film. I know they’re meant to be hideous but bloody hell! And Hathaway was so over-the-top and what in god’s creation was that stupid accent?!

Honestly, the kid and his grandmother were so likeable and the beginning had great Motown music and the whole thing was going far better than I was expecting until those stupid ass witches showed up & ruined the whole film. Kind of important to get the witches right in a movie called The Witches! Disclaimer: I probably have no right to judge this anyway as I never read the Roald Dahl book NOR watched the 1990 film with Anjelica Huston that everyone seems to far prefer.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Hubie Halloween (2020)

Directed by Steven Brill

Written by Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Julie Bowen, Ray Liotta, Rob Schneider, June Squibb, Kenan Thompson, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Buscemi, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Karan Brar, Paris Berelc, Noah Schnapp, China Anne McClain, Michael Chiklis

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film follows a Halloween-loving delicatessen worker who must save the town of Salem, Massachusetts, from a kidnapper.

My Opinion:

I liked this, although it’s certainly not my favorite Adam Sandler film (I did a top ten of his movies HERE so I suppose I should add this at some point). Not sure where I’d rank this – maybe around 10th place or so. But I’ve seen way more than ten of his movies so I should rank all of them – Hubie Halloween is probably somewhere in the middle.

What I liked about this movie more than anything was 1) the fact that it’s set at Halloween & I want more movies set at Halloween and 2) the inappropriate t-shirts his character’s sweet old mother wears and especially 3) Steve Buscemi. I love Buscemi.

I do like Adam Sandler, unlike some snobby people who refuse to admit to ever liking his films. However, I also fully admit that some of his movies are complete & utter shit. Where Sandler does best is when he finds people who make his movies better. Drew Barrymore & Steve Buscemi elevate the Sandler movies they’re in. Too bad Drew wasn’t in this one! Sandler has great chemistry with Drew & Buscemi has ended up being surprisingly hilarious in all of his small Sandler movie roles. Well, Buscemi was great again & the highlight of this film for me (plus it’s a much bigger role than most of his Sandler cameos). My kid was like “Steve Buscemi!” as soon as he came on screen. How many pre-teens get excited over Steve Buscemi, let alone even know who he is?? I’m a cool movie parent.

My Rating: 6/10

Color Out Of Space (2019) Review

Color Out Of Space (2019)

Directed by Richard Stanley

Written by Richard Stanley & Scarlett Amaris

Based on The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Elliot Knight, Madeleine Arthur, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tommy Chong

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.

My Opinion:

Not sure how to review this. I’m a very big fan of Richard Stanley’s Hardware (I never shut up about it – my review is HERE). So I was very excited about this one, especially as it looked weird & beautiful and Nicolas Cage is finally growing on me thanks to the wonderfully batshit Mandy and it’s based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. It sounded like it would be right up my alley!

Suppose I was hoping for some kind of Hardware crossed with Mandy crossed with Re-Animator film with this one. It’s nothing like them other than it being weird as shit. Yay! I love weird as shit! Not entirely sure what was going on here. Is it about how we’re ruining the environment? Maybe. I guess there’s some sort of message. Wanted to love this one like Mandy & Hardware but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It starts out veeeery slow until finally going WHAT THE FUCK near the end. Then it got good. Enjoyed the final bit of the movie even though I’m not entirely sure what point the film was trying to make.

And I loved the pinky purple colors I’d seen in all the images of this movie – it was lovely and I wanted more of it. I… think I liked this movie? Even if I didn’t love it. But I think it’ll grow on me, just like Mandy did. I started out not sure how I felt about Mandy but now consider it one of my favorites of the past decade. As I always say, I watch way too many movies & far too many are boring & forgettable. I like when a movie is unpredictable or shocking. I’m not sure if I can say Color Out Of Space is a good movie, but I’ll certainly never forget it. I appreciate that.

My Rating: 7/10

Villains (2019) & C.H.U.D. (1984) Reviews

I have two NEW horror reviews today!!! Likely to be the only new ones I write all month instead of just re-posting stuff I’ve already written. Well, maaaaaaybe I’ll review Halloween 1 through 6 since I just rewatched all of those (well, I watched 5 & 6 for the first time ever). Dunno. I’m not in a blogging place at the moment. Find it difficult to put any words together on anything lately. We’ll see! Now what the heck am I going to say about these two films…

Villains (2019)

Directed & Written by Dan Berk & Robert Olsen

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Blake Baumgartner, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After a pair of amateur criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret that two sadistic homeowners will do anything to keep from getting out.

My Opinion:

I liked this one. For some reason, I’d not heard of this one at all despite it being recent & on Netflix (it’s actually a 2021 release here in the U.K.). It doesn’t have huge megastars but it still has names well known to movie fans so am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it. So thanks, Film Miasma! I first heard of this when reading your review.

I’ve liked a lot of the films Maika Monroe has done so far, especially It Follows which not everyone loves but I do. She’s admittedly been in some real rubbish but I think she stands out in those films & expected her to be a bigger star by now. I didn’t love The Guest but appreciated its style and the fact that it felt original plus, again, I liked Monroe in it.

I also really liked a film of hers called Bokeh, which I keep putting off reviewing since nothing whatsoever happens in that movie. Honestly. Which is quite an accomplishment for a movie about everyone on the planet suddenly disappearing other than Monroe & her new fiancé (or maybe it was new hubby, I dunno) while vacationing in Iceland. But I’ve always been obsessed with end-of-the-world stories so I liked it plus the movie was gorgeous and I badly want to visit Iceland now. It was a really good tourism advert for Iceland! But, see? This is why I can’t write anything lately. I’m way off topic! This is turning into a Bokeh review. (But, hey – I did like Bokeh a lot so watch it if you just want to watch a pretty young couple do nothing other than wander around & go swimming while looking at beautiful landscapes. I’d give it 6.5/10).

So, yeah, I liked Monroe in this film too. But what I liked the most was Bill Skarsgård & the relationship these two had. I’d even say that this somewhat strange sort-of-horror-thriller-almost-horror-comedy-movie had a nice romance going on with these two. They were good together & had a nice chemistry. But Skarsgård was kind of adorable. I’m not sure why. I mean, he’s Pennywise FFS. That’s creepy. And I’ve never given him much thought other than thinking he looks bizarrely like a young Steve Buscemi. So maybe it’s because I adore Buscemi but I really liked Skarsgård in this and I wanted these two to get married & live happily ever after. And I liked the thing she did with her hair to calm him down. It was cute.

So, I won’t give away the story as wanting to find out the crazy secret that the two above weirdos, played by Jeffrey Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick, were hiding was the whole reason I wanted to see this movie after reading the synopsis. I’ll just say it wasn’t as crazy as I was expecting for some reason but it’s still a decent story and these two did a good job playing normal looking middle class American psychos. Those are the worst kind of psychos, right?! And I liked it being one of these movies with slightly bad people who meet really bad people, which makes the slightly bad people the really good people. And I can see some not loving the very end but I really liked how this one ended up. Overall, it’s not a movie as over-the-top as it may sound, it’s just a bit quirky. And it has an interesting mix of genres & better characters than we get it in a lot of horror-comedy-thrillers. It’s also one where, after writing about it, I like it a little bit more.

My Rating: 7/10

C.H.U.D. (1984)

Directed by Douglas Cheek

Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist, J C Quinn, Michael O’Hare, Peter Michael Goetz, Sam McMurray, Frankie R Faison, John Goodman, Jay Thomas, Hallie Foote, Graham Beckel, Jon Polito, George Martin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot concerns a New York City police officer and a homeless shelter manager who join forces to investigate a series of disappearances, and discover that the missing people have been hunted down by humanoid monsters that live below the city.

My Opinion:

I don’t have as much to say about this movie. I’ll just start by saying, yes, I love the ’80s. I grew up in the ’80s. The majority of my favorite movies are (and always will be) those from the ’70s & ’80s. That includes some movies I know are bad. Is C.H.U.D. bad?? Okay, it’s not great. You know what? I never saw this one until now!!!

I admit I’m always happier to find an older film like this to watch for the first time than to watch some mediocre & boring modern film. Give me some ’80s nostalgia instead! And this one has lots of old familiar faces, so that was cool. I’d always known of the existence of C.H.U.D. thanks to great old videotape covers but never realised it had so many people I knew in it. Plenty of old horrors star unknowns. (This one isn’t on the level of those starring in The Sentinel from 1977, though – what a waste of a good cast that was).

If you’re old like me, you’ll know that C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And that D.A.R.Y.L. stands for Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform. But C.H.U.D. actually stands for something else in this movie. I can’t remember the exact words & I’m too lazy to go check. Besides – it’s a big plot spoiler anyway. It’s a part of what this cheesy looking movie is actually about: How the homeless are cast aside & ignored in society. The problem of these mutant cannibals crawling out of the sewers & killing people is completely ignored while it’s at first only affecting the homeless community.

The biggest roles are played by Home Alone‘s John Heard as a photographer doing a project on the homeless people of NYC who live in the city’s underground and, interesting connection, also Home Alone‘s Daniel Stern as a man who runs a homeless shelter. They were both good, especially for this type of film, and I liked Stern’s character. There are other familiar faces but not exactly household names & most would only be known to old people like me. But worth mentioning that John Goodman & Jay Thomas have small roles as two cops. James P. Sullivan!

Well, I liked this. You probably won’t like it unless you’re a fan of ’80s horror & special effects. I mean, yeah, these mutant cannibals look cheesy as hell now. But I was surprised that the story was actually pretty good & also that it had a message about how homeless people are treated. The acting was also better than you expect from this sort of thing. All of my blog posts auto-tweet or I tweet them again for various reasons but this is the only one recently to get a couple replies on Twitter from people who like it so I guess it has its fans. Too bad I didn’t watch it in the ’80s but am glad I finally took a chance on it now.

My Rating: 6/10

Antebellum (2020) & His House (2020) Reviews

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

Antebellum (2020)

Directed & Written by Gerard Bush & Christopher Renz

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 6/10

His House (2020)

Directed by Remi Weekes

Starring: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

Black Christmas (2019) Review

Black Christmas (2019)

Directed by Sophia Takal

Based on Black Christmas by A. Roy Moore

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 5.5/10

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

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

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

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

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

My Rating: 3/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz

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

My Rating: 2.5/5

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 3/5

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

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

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

My Rating: 3/5

Moon by James Herbert

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

My Rating: 2.5/5

Final Girls by Riley Sager

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

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

My Rating: 3/5

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

Les Diaboliques (1955)

Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot

Based on She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

In Fabric (2018)

Directed & Written by Peter Strickland

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 5/10

VFW (2019) Review

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

VFW (2019)

Directed by Joe Begos

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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

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

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

Directed by Shin’ichirō Ueda

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Level 16

Directed & Written by Danishka Esterhazy

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

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

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

When A Stranger Calls (1979)

Directed by Fred Walton

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

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

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Starring: Lee Young-ae, Choi Min-sik

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

Audition (1999) Review

Audition (オーディション & Ōdishon) (1999)

Directed by Takashi Miike

Based on Audition by Ryu Murakami

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

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

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

The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

My Thoughts:

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

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

Later by Stephen King

My Thoughts:

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

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

My Rating: 3/5

Countdown (2019) & Mikey (1992) Reviews

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

Countdown (2019)

Directed & Written by Justin Dec

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

My Rating: 6/10

Mikey (1992)

Directed by Dennis Dimster

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 6/10

The Wraith (1986) Review

The Wraith (1986)

Directed & Written by Mike Marvin

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

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

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

Crimson Peak (2015)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Dark Shadows (2012)

Directed by Tim Burton

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 6/10

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

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

The Empty Man (2020)

Directed by David Prior

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

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

Music by Christopher Young, Lustmord

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Directed by Irving Pichel & Ernest B. Schoedsack

Based on The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Minari (2020) Review

Minari (Korean: 미나리) (2020)

Directed & Written by Lee Isaac Chung

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

Free Guy (2021) Review

Free Guy (2021)

Directed by Shawn Levy

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 7/10

Watched, Read, Reviewed: August 2021

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

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

MOVIES WATCHED IN AUGUST (ranked best to worst):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies Rewatched:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shorts:

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

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

TV SHOWS WATCHED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TV Shows Rewatched:

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

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

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

BOOKS READ

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

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

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

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

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

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

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

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