Friday, December 4, 2020

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)*

One frigid December night, about three years ago, I exited the office I worked in at the time, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was waaaaay past quitting time, and I was wiped out and starving, and I just wanted to get my commute over with so I could get home and collapse with copious quantities of comfort foods, already. But across the way, something caught my eye. I went toward the colorful motion and about a long block later found myself in front of the ABC building. The ground level lights were all off. In one glass wall was mounted a monitor and speakers so passersby could enjoy whatever ABC was currently airing--and in that moment, it was about ten minutes into A Charlie Brown Christmas. For the next twenty minutes I stood outside in the freezing cold, smiling through the program and the memories of when I was a kid watching it on CBS. (OK, and maybe I sniffled a little during Linus' monologue near the end.) The only thing that could’ve made that night better would’ve been the right man’s hand holding mine as we shared those chilly twenty minutes...and maybe some spiked hot chocolate.

Well, there probably isn’t a “right man” for me, and ABC no longer holds the rights to the special, so it won't be airing on network TV this year. But I can make myself a spiked hot chocolate whenever I want (I've concocted a fabulous recipe), and you can click here to learn where you can tune into the magic of Christmas (spoiler alert--PBS for the win!).

*This is a slightly expanded crosspost from my tumblr blog.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Spook Out! Day 31-ish ~ Stayin' Spooked

Youse guys, I had a blasty-blast doing the blogfest this year--I hope you enjoyed exploring the new, the old, and the outright bizarre with me.

But I just hate saying goodbye to Spook Out! So long, have a nice year, maybe see you next October, if I survive till then. Wham, bam, spook off, ma'am. So callous, so cruel. Can't bear it. So here are a few other fun things that can help keep you feeling spooky after all the Halloween candy's gone...

On the Netflix
I wasn't too impressed with Netflix's movie offerings, but they've got some great series for horror fans. In no particular order, I highly recommend:

Hannibal (2013 - 2015) ~ "This drama series focuses on the early years of the relationship between FBI criminal profiler Will Graham and homicidal cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter." Among the prestigious of prestige TV, this 3 season series is a masterpiece and veritable feast for the eyes. But some images may prove disturbing to more sensitive types.

Dracula (2020) ~ "An unconventional nun helps a tormented lawyer piece together the details of his doomed business trip to Count Dracula's castle." Brought to you by the same twisted minds responsible for the Sherlock reboot, this is not your dad's Dracula. With three feature-length episodes, this cheeky adaptation goes in some interesting directions. It's been a while since I've watched it, though, so I'm not sure how gory it is...although, vamps, so there's likely to be a good amount of blood!

The Order (2019-2020) ~ "Out to avenge his mother's death, a college student pledges a secret order and lands in a war between werewolves and practitioners of dark magic." With rule-lovin' snarky witches and hard-drinkin' wiseass werewolves, two seasons of The Order make for a fun supernatural romp. Yes, I said romp!

Crazyhead (2016) ~ "Bowling alley worker Amy and nonconformist Raquel kick some serious demon butt while also facing their inner demons as they navigate their early 20s." There is, alas, but one season of this horror comedy, but don't let that stop you from watching it! Girl powah!

On Hulu
The Huluween collection provides hours and hours of frightful fun, including my following faves:

What We Do in the Shadows (2019-2020) ~ "A look into the daily lives of four vampires who've been together for hundreds of years; after a visit from their dark lord and leader, they're reminded of their purpose in coming to New York City over a century ago." These two seasons are a spinoff of the excellent mockumentary film of 2014 and funny af.

Zomboat! (2019) ~ "Sisters Kat and Jo realise there's a zombie apocalypse in Birmingham, but gamer Kat has a plan: zombies can't swim - water is the safest option, and narrowboats move just marginally faster than zombies." It's utterly ridiculous and a ton of fun! As well, it stars one of the leads from the aforementioned Crazyhead, who seems to keep getting herself into these fixes...Whatevs--more girl powah!

Stan Against Evil (2016-2018) ~ "172 demons have been unleashed on the residents of Williard's Mill as payback for a massive witch-burning hundreds of years ago. Evie, the new sheriff in town, needs to work with the former sheriff, Stan Miller, who was forced to retire." Starring the incomparable, irascible, and irrepressible Dr. Cox John C. McGinley, you've got three seasons of wackadoodle demon-killing to dive into, so what're you waiting for, an engraved invitation???

Bob's Burgers ~ Given the year we've all had, sometimes you just want jump into your jim-jams, cuddle up with your pillows, and enjoy some very light-hearted scares. And this animated series has about eight Halloween specials for your pleasure (not including this year's, which has yet to air as of my writing this post):
  • Full Bars (S3E2)
  • Fort Night (S4E2)
  • Tina And The Real Ghost (S5E2)
  • The Hauntening (S6E3)
  • Teen-A-Witch (S7E3)
  • The Wolf Of Wharf Street (S8E3)
  • Nightmare On Ocean Avenue Street (S9E4)
  • Pig Trouble In Little Tina (S10E4)

OK, I reckon that's enough to keep you entertained for now. If you've already seen any of these, or if you think there are some shows I might enjoy that aren't mentioned here, please let me know in the comments!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Spook Out! Day 31 ~ Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

Amazon Says...
"Through comic mayhem from the White House to the heartland, four slayers face off against new kinds of evolved zombies and new human survivors."

I Say...
And how!!!!!

Horror Type...
Zombies, Horror Comedy, Post-Apocalyptic

Main Players...
Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee (Gnarly Elvis Lover)
Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus (Puppy Dog Rule-Maker)
Emma Stone as Wichita (Bad-Note-Leaver)
Abigail Breslin as Little Rock (Restless Teen)

I liked...

  • the shoot-em-up opening credits, that really set the tone for the rest of the movie
  • the laughs, the gags, the bits, the throwaways, the visual jokes--man, this mfr was even funnier than the first Z-land flick, but also,
  • the zombie scares, which are played straight and, in some scenes, legit scary
  • the new zombie classifications
  • how relationships, both romantic and familial, are explored and developed
  • the doppelgängers! (so to speak)
  • the specTACular zombie battle in the third act, DANG!

The Meh...
The only "meh" for me is that I don't know if we're getting another movie in this franchise. PLEASE OH PLEASE LET THERE BE ANOTHER ONE!!!!!

Would I recommend it...?
HECK to the YEAH! Lah-lah-lah-LOVE THIS MOOOVEEEEEEE! For me, it's the perfect combination of action, romance, comedy, and horror, with exactly the right amount of violence and gore to give it some Halloween bite (pun intended!). Not sure if sensitives will mind the aforementioned violence and gore--IMO, it's not gratuitous (for the kind of movie this is) and while it has scary moments, they're not terrifying, just...pleasantly chilling. (That's a thing, right? Pleasantly chilling?) (Well, it is for me...)

  • I've gotta shout out Zoey Deutch (Madison), Rosario Dawson (Nevada), and Luke Wilson (Albuquerque) for their work here--bravi, y'all!
  • Watch the end credits all the way through. Trust me on this.

My Grade: A
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=68%, Audience Score=88%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Zombieland: Double Tap on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)

This concludes Day 31
(and indeed, the blogfest!)

Thanks to all who joined me
on this year's journey,
and please do come back next year...


Friday, October 30, 2020

Spook Out! Day 30 ~ The Wretched (2020)

Hulu Says...
"A rebellious teenage boy embarks on a gutsy crusade to stop the terrifying evil he suspects has possessed his neighbor in this bone-chilling occult thriller."

I Say...
That's about right.

Horror Type...
Supernatural Horror, Creature Feature

Main Players...
John-Paul Howard as Ben Shaw (Troubled Teen)
Piper Curda as Mallory (Sassy Teen)
Zarah Mahler as Abbie (Neighbor From Hell)

I liked...
  • how the scares start coming from the jump, and keep on coming
  • the artfully articulated Wretch in all her gory glory
  • how some character-types who are traditionally left unharmed in other horror movies enjoy no special protections here (which is to say, I didn't enjoy what happened to them, but I was impressed by how the directors dared to break through established conventions)
  • that the dad of the piece eventually listened to his son, though Ben gave every indication of being a very unreliable narrator indeed
  • the Sixth Sense-like twist in the third act. Nicely done, youse guys--I suppose I should've seen it coming, but I totally didn't...

The Meh...
  • I'd have liked more intel/background on what, exactly, that Wretch-beastie is (she's referred to as a witch, but she strikes me as something different, something...more)
  • It's got some '80s brat-pack movie tropes (a hot girl who's kind of a bitch, rich guys who're dicks to the protagonist, an embarrassing moment in a swimming pool, etc.) which contrast weirdly with the heavier themes of the film and detract from its intensity 

Would I recommend it...?
Yeah, it's got loads of great scares with gruesome effects for Halloween, takes some risks, and does some things I haven't seen horror movies dare to do, of late. It's not for the faint of heart. Trigger Warnings for: babies, kids, and animals in peril, lotsa violence, and did I mention the gore?

The Wretched was released to VOD and drive-in theaters during the Covid 19 pandemic and has been "...the closest thing to a box office hit this summer." Bravo, y'all!

My Grade: B+
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=74%, Audience Score=45%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched The Wretched on Hulu (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)

This concludes Day 30 of

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow...


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Spook Out! Day 29 ~ Silver Bullet (1985)

IMDb Says...
"In a small town, brutal killings start to plague the close knit community. Marty Coslaw, a paraplegic boy, is convinced the murders are the doings of a werewolf."

I Say...
Yes. And he's not wrong!

Horror Type...

Main Players...
Corey Haim as Marty Coslaw (Sweet Lil Bro)
Megan Follows as Jane Coslaw (Brave Big Sis)
Gary Busey as Uncle Red (Best Uncle in the Friggin World)

I liked...
  • the work done by Haim (RIP), Follows, and Busey--all three were fabulous, and also,
  • the relationships: Janie and Marty (which echoes Uncle Red and their mom's relationship), and Uncle Red's relationship to the kids--their chemistry was especially excellent, and I found them really believable as a close family
  • how Uncle Red encourages Marty to take risks and be as active and rascally as he can (the apple doesn't fall far from the uncle)
  • the hints as to the werewolf's true identity (and then how the identity is revealed) (and then someone's immediate reaction to that revelation--that face=priceless!)
  • the tense scene in the bar between a forming vigilante mob, the town's sheriff, and a grieving father
  • the practical effects of the werewolf's change--sure, they're a little cheesy but comparable, IMO, to the big change scene in the iconic An American Werewolf in London (I liked the change scenes but, as some others have noted, the "finished werewolf"--as it were--resembles a bear more than he does a wolf, alas.)
  • a crazy scene in which nearly the entire town wolfs out
  • that Janie, and later Uncle Red, takes logical steps to either prove or disprove Marty's claims
  • how this isn't really a horror comedy but does have some hilarious bits here and there

The Meh...
  • Though the three leads are well written and acted, some of the victims are decidedly not
  • How/why the werewolf attacks start isn't ever explained, which can work for something set in a big city, but not in a small town environment
  • Y'all got only one silver bullet made to defeat a werewolf? C'mon! Dudes, go to a thrift shop, get some silverware, have your smelter work on those, and fill up those chambers in that revolver! (Do I have to think of everything, here? Sheesh!)
  • The resolution of the main story problem is excellent, BUT the very ending voice-over bit is weirdly abrupt and anticlimactic...
  • The soundtrack is le major suck.

Would I recommend it...?
You bet! Silver Bullet is one of my fave horror movies, and a perfect little Halloween treat. The nostalgia factor's strong for me here--this scared the stuffin out of me when I was a kid and, tbh, the jump scares still get to me decades later, no matter how many times I see it (the werewolf breaks into two houses to get to his prey, wtf?!). The scares, coupled with some bloody violence and gore, ain't for the very sensitive, though they're probably not rough enough for fans of hardcore horror. But they're enough to chill me! 😎
This movie's based on the Stephen King novella Cycle of the Werewolf (which I look forward to reading!).

My Grade: A- (though I admit to having a love for Silver Bullet that boosts the score up from a B+)
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: Tomatometer=45%, Audience Score=56%

Details, Schmeetails...
I Watched Silver Bullet on Amazon (the Rotten Tomatoes page linked above provides links to other streaming platforms)

This concludes Day 29 of

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow...