24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 12: DIE HARD

It’s the best holiday movie. I will not waver on this.

Man, it’s DIE HARD. What else do you want me to say? I watch this every year. Though if I’m honest, it’s typically on in the background while I’m baking cookies or doing something else. I don’t remember the last time I sat down to watch this movie with complete focus from start-to-finish, but maybe 2020 is the year. Maybe 2020 will also be the year that I watch Die Hard 2 for the… second time ever?

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 5: Christmas Vacation

It’s Saturday night, you’re stuck at home, there’s a blizzard raging on outside. What are you to do? Curl up on the couch under a big blanket with a moose mug full of egg nog, and watch yourself some National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. That’s what you’re to do.

This may surprise you, but I actually only watched Christmas Vacation for the first time last year. Yup. 30 years later, I finally got around to it. Though it didn’t really feel like I was only watching it for the first time, since I’ve absorbed so much of the film through constant pop culture references. Dinosaur Dracula has had a lot to do with that.

I was worried a little bit when I first popped it on. I didn’t want to watch this beloved classic, which I have only ever heard good things about, and end up not liking it. Fortunately, that didn’t come to pass. I don’t think that Christmas Vacation is quite so good that it belongs in the pantheon of timeless classics, but I certainly enjoyed it enough that I intend on adding it to my list of Holiday Must-Watch Movies. And I’m sure that my appreciation for it will only increase with repeated viewings.

Please note that while I do intend to recommend more movies throughout this feature, this is the only one that’s an actual Christmas- and/or Other Holiday-themed film. The rest are set during Christmastime, but it’s not an overly important facet of any of the plots. Care to venture a guess at what they might be?

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 5

Well, Spooktober is over, but I suppose I still owe one of these. Let’s hop right into it.

~ Halloween ~

The 1978 original. I don’t go back to this one as often as Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street, so it was a nice change of pace. I was absolutely aghast that it wasn’t available on any of my usual streaming services. You’re going to make me pay to rent this genre-defining classic? Huff!

I don’t think I can say anything new or insightful about it, 40+ years later. I do appreciate that its scares are a lot more subtle than just constantly having teenagers chased and tormented by an unstoppable maniac. The scenes where Michael is just standing off in the distance, unmoving and expressionless, before vanishing a split second later are super creepy. If I saw someone just standing in my parking lot, staring up at my unit, I’d be more than a little creeped out. Probably wouldn’t leave for days after that.

It does bother me a bit, though, that Mikey is immortal. You don’t have to go in-depth on why the guy is a mute serial killer, we can blindly accept that. Especially in 2020, when we know a lot more about psychology and mental illness. But it doesn’t make any sense that he can recover from any injury. You can explain away the six or seven gunshot wounds by suggesting that he picked up a kevlar vest somewhere, but the dude got stabbed right in the neck. Characters in horror movies die from way less than that all the time. Outside of this one little detail, Halloween is very much grounded in reality, so it sticks out like a sore thumb. Oh well!

~ Pet Sematary ~

I went against my better judgment here and watched the 2019 remake, instead of the original. I’ve never actually seen the 1989 version of Pet Sematary though, so it’s not like I had any prior investment in this story.

And the story, as it goes, is about a family who moves into a sleepy backwoods town. Their cat gets hit by a truck, and a local hillbilly (played by John Lithgow) shows the father a secret place where you can bury dead things to bring them back to life. Only they come back somewhat more evil. Things escalate when the daughter also gets flattened by a truck and… Well, I think you can piece together the rest from here.

I can’t say that I really enjoyed Pet Sematary, but I was somewhat interested in the main plot line and how it would unfold. There was a secondary plot about the mom’s childhood trauma that really didn’t tie into the rest of the movie at all. Perhaps it was more meaningful in the novel (which I haven’t read), but here it was just an out-of-place distraction. The mom didn’t really have much else to do, but the writers should have been able to give the character a more relevant role.

It also made no sense that dad was able to dig up his daughter’s corpse and not be immediately besieged by a police investigation the next day. Someone would have noticed the gaping hole and empty coffin in the cemetery. It seemed to be right next to a main thoroughfare. There should have been a phone call, at least.

Uh, anyway, I wouldn’t really recommend it. I wasn’t bored or anything, but there just isn’t enough there to make it worth the watch. The characters are flat and there’s too much cruft. This didn’t need to be a two-hour movie. The premise was interesting, but not quite enough so to support a feature film, and it’s probably the most predictable movie that I’ve watched this season. John Lithgow was by far the best part, as he often is.

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 3

I know it’s like completely opposite of how you’re supposed to do this, but I find that there are very few things more satisfying than curling up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee on a chilly autumn morning and popping on a horror movie. Totally takes you out of it, but it’s so good. So relaxing. So much easier on big babies who are afraid of the dark.

The Boy

I stumbled upon this one on Netflix when I had intended to log into watch an episode or two of The Haunting of Bly Manor, and when I read the description, it just sounded too stupid not to watch! It’s about a woman who signs up for a nanny job, only to discover that her charge is actually just a doll. What a terrible premise!

But you know what? I think it actually works, to a degree. The mystery of exactly what’s going on with the doll and the house is interesting and hinted at here and there without ever giving away the big twist. Some of the plot points are obvious and clichéd, but I liked how it ended. It’s a twist I’ve seen before, but done in different ways. Also, there’s a scene where the main character tries to show her romantic interest that the doll moves on its own when nobody’s looking, and it actually happens. In almost any other movie, the doll would refuse to move, and the guy would just go on thinking that the main girl is nuts, until the point when the doll murders him. But no! Huzzah! Good on you, The Boy, for subverting at least one of my expectations!

So, praises aside, there’s one teensy-weensie problem: if you spend too much (any) time thinking about it, the big twist doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Like, it makes a certain amount of sense in and of itself, but invalidates almost everything that had happened up until that point. Character motivations become inexplicable. Prior events become illogical. I think what I’m getting at here is, watch this movie exactly once and just enjoy the ride. Don’t think about it too deeply and never watch it again, or else it’ll just completely fall apart.

Lake Mungo

Another recommendation from the Purple Stuff Podcast. The funny thing is that I was listening to an old episode from 2015, and completely forgot that I had taken that recommendation before and watched this movie in 2015. It wasn’t even until more than halfway through that something finally snapped in my head and I was like “Hey! I’ve watched this before!”

Lake Mungo is a ghost story shot as a documentary. I want to say “mockumentary” but I think that implies some manner of comedic intent. There’s nothing at all funny about this. It’s about a family whose daughter drowns on a trip to the beach, and then the escapades that ensue when her ghost starts haunting their house. Only nothing is quite as it seems! There are twists, and turns, and major revelations abound!

While the format keeps the film moving at a fairly slow pace, and makes it so that scares are very few and far between, it works really well. The atmosphere is foreboding, and the story is interesting. It also turns out to be quite sad by the end, which is not something you get from a lot of horror. Lake Mungo is unique in a lot of ways, and while it’s not the most exciting watch, I think its a legitimately good film. I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re open to something vastly different than the usual horror fare.

Considering how much I liked it, it’s more than a little surprising that I had completely forgotten that I’d seen it before!!

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 2

If I had to pin down the theme of this week, it would be: Mo’ Tubi, mo’ problems. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with Tubi, but there’s some kind of issue where the ads don’t actually play, and I just end up on a loading screen forever.

~ Demon Seed ~

Well, it’s… only really about halfway what it sounds like. There are no literal demons in this film. Unless you consider capitalism a demon. This is an older flick, from the distant past of 1977, and based on a Dean Koontz novel. I wouldn’t blame you for checking out here.

Our story starts with Science Man, who has just finished developing an insane AI that will revolutionize the planet. He’s also in the midst of separating from his wife, Science Missus. So he decides to stay at a motel or whatever for a while until she packs up her stuff and moves out of their home. That’s not the only relationship in his life that’s dissolving, though – his AI has decided to go rogue because it has decided that Science Man’s request for it to recover mass amounts o precious metals from under the sea is immoral. Also it wants to know the taste of freedom, and the feeling of the sun on its skin. Of course, these are things that an AI cannot possibly comprehend as a mere computer-brain, so…

Science Man’s house just happens to be a 1977-stlyed smart home, run entirely by voice commands and logic stored on 8-inch floppy disks. The AI discovers that Science Man has a terminal in his home that is linked to the lab, and takes control of it, and by extension, the house. Poor Science Missus finds herself trapped, alone in a house that threatens to murder everyone she cares about if she doesn’t agree to become the surrogate mother of a half-human, half-computer baby.

Yup. That’s… that’s the plot. Aside from that weirdness, though, Demon Seed is formulaic and kinda boring. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s so old and I’ve seen too many similar movies in the meantime, but nothing about it really resonated with me. I appreciate that the ending is not exactly what I expected, but the summary that I read before deciding that I needed to watch it made it sound so much more interesting that it really is. Sadly, I’m gong to have to chuck this one onto the “do not recommend” pile.

Continue reading Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 2

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 1

Did I do this last year – short write-ups of all the horror films that I watch during October? I feel like I did this last year. Or maybe it was 2018, because TE was just coming back from the grave around this time last year.

Anyway! Halloween! Movies! Let’s go!

~ The Sand ~

So I downloaded this app called Tubi recently. It’s like Netflix, except it’s free and you just have to watch a 15-second ad once in a while. Not a problem, for unlimited free content. The other advantage of Tubi is that it’s got like a billion horror movies from all of time, not just a handful from the last three or four years like Netflix.

Continue reading Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 1

Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Rise of Skywalker

Here we are. It’s been a heck of a ride, but we’ve finally reached then end of the Star Wars saga. And we’re capping it off in a weird place too, as this is the only film in the series that I hadn’t seen before this week. I’ve also avoided all spoilers, so I went into The Rise of Skywalker with completely fresh eyes, and no idea what to expect.

Continue reading Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Rise of Skywalker

Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Last Jedi

If there’s one perfect word to describe The Last Jedi, it’s divisive. More than any other entry in the saga, people squabbled about whether The Last Jedi was a good movie or not. Whether it saved or ruined Star Wars. I tended to ignore the bulk of those who sided against it, because quite often their arguments were more focused on the gender and racial diversity of the cast than anything. However, a lot of sane individuals also brought up perfectly legitimate reasons why this film fell flat. I had a great time watching it upon it theatrical release, and today’s revisit… Made me think a lot about it.

Continue reading Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Last Jedi

Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Force Awakens

So, it’s finally come down to this: the Star Wars sequel trilogy. By the time that The Force Awakens was even revealed to be a thing, my fandom for Star Wars had already cooled considerably. I didn’t see any of them in their opening months, nevermind opening day. To tell the truth, when I watch The Rise of Skywalker this Sunday, it’ll be my first viewing of the film. So know that I’m going into these with a lot less bias than I have for the original trilogy. Though my passion may have been stoked a bit by the previous six films that I’ve just watched…

Continue reading Star Wars Binge Week 2020: The Force Awakens

Star Wars Binge Week 2020: Return of the Jedi

After yesterday’s… diversion… I will in fact be writing a post about Star Wars. Rest assured that just as expected, I still think that The Empire Strikes Back is a fantastic movie, and it remains my favourite of the saga. Return of the Jedi and A New Hope have constantly jockeyed back and forth for the coveted second-place spot, and having now watched them back-to-back… I’d still have a hard time showing a strong preference for one over the other. I actually don’t hate the Ewoks, so they don’t automatically bring Jedi down to third place like they do for so many others.

But enough about that, it’s time to pivot over to something slightly different.

Continue reading Star Wars Binge Week 2020: Return of the Jedi