Halloween Countdown – 7 for 7 – Seven Movies and Seven Reviews! Day 12!

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dark House This film has intriguing visuals, Victor Salva creating another memorable movie boogie man in the Axe-Men, and the syncopated way they move.  However the movie gradually loses steam to a forgettable ending. Worth a look, but not a keeper.

 

DISCARNATE is another movie, where the monster/monster design is unfortunately better than the movie it is in.

The movie is ok, worth a look, but I feel the creature is the most interesting thing, and the surrounding actors and plot, while talented, have the definite feel of very rote and not particularly engaging. When not on the monster effects, it all seems a bit by the numbers.

 

 

Pikovaya dama. Chyornyy obryad (2015)

 

QUEEN OF SPADES – I have praised this movie before. A lot of other movies do the “kids daring each other to summon up things that go bump in the night” very few do it as competently, or intriguingly, or captivatingly as this film. Most of the time, it is just a bunch of stupid choices made by stupid people, followed by even more “lacking common sense” responses.

Yes we are entering the world of the fantastic, but even in that fantastic world, the responses have to be responses that we feel we would or could make in such fantastic situations.

And when the choices are even more fantastic than the premise, that is when suspension of disbelief breaks down, and we are done with the movie.

That is the problem with the vast number of horror movies. Not so here. You feel the path the characters are on, and the choices being made, are true to the constraints of the world and situation created. Huge fan of this movie. It’s a solid B/B+ of a movie. If you are a fan of LIGHTS OUT the short and feature (while this film isn’t to that level, it is not far off), give this one a try.

 

HELL HOUSE LLC- This has a bit of “people behaving not the way a rational person would behave in such a situation” vibe, it feels to me. However the movie keeps it moving, and slightly mollifies the protagonists stupid actions, by painting him into a corner, and when you feel you are in a corner, stupid decisions tend to trump rational ones.

Besides that, the movie is just well constructed, leading to the forewarned ending. Not a great movie, but a very good one. And one I can re-watch. One of the best Scare House movies (WAY better than the HOUSES OF OCTOBER movies)

Leaving D.C. (2012)BAD BEN series – I can not even tell you how many BAD BEN movies there are. IMDB list at least six, however there may be some tangentially connected films as well. I’ve seen at least 4 of the BAD BEN movies proper, and starting with the 1st (LEAVING DC) I have been a fan.

Just a great series that has fun with the haunted house and found footage tropes.

It is not Shakespeare, does not take itself too seriously (well the first one is the most sinister and ‘serious’ of them all), but isn’t just played for laughs, it is told straight forward, but like SCREAM the protagonist is aware of the movie tropes, so it is a bit “inside baseball” fun to it.  But it is fun, and is better than most horror movies out there that trod similar ground, and that have stupid, unlikable 20-something protagonists.

Ben is a character you definitely like, and root for during his misadventures.

 

Hex (2017)HEXI enjoyed this film. Dire, and complicated, and horrible, and beautiful, and an ode to hatreds and conflicts… and the emptiness and wastefulness of those hatreds and conflicts. It is haunting, in the best and worst ways. Not a big film, or a great film, it is a small intimate film, yet there is something… great in it. Not as beautiful as THE WITCH but it, like that film, stays with you long after you see it.

With a title like THE SHE-CREATURE and being from the schlock days of 1956, especially with the poster art, you wouldn’t expect much from this film. But what people forget is even though the special and creature effects were in their infancy and it shows (that poster is everything that is wrong with this movie, selling the monster rather than the mystery), the acting and direction is actually very strong in a lot of these films.

And THE SHE-CREATURE is an example of real actors (past their prime in some cases, and in roles arguably beneath them, but still delivering that star power), beautiful direction and cinematography and an intriguing premise that includes (for 1956 and arguably even today) controversial concepts of hypnotism, past life regression, spiritualism,  and a palpable racial memory that lives on in our very genes, that hold up, despite the limitations of the creature design and affects.

The film would have been better served if it never showed the monster, or showed it only in brief glimpses (ala NIGHT OF THE DEMON) unfortunately selling subtle over schlock, was not an easy sell then or now.

So we have a movie that is actually engrossing, until the outlandish rubber suit monster at its core turns up. But despite the ludicrous of everything associated with the creature design, there is a brutality to the murder scenes that the monster leaves behind, that is ahead of its time.

And bottom-barrel rubber suit or no, the story and performances around it, keeps me intrigued enough to keep watching. That aside I still enjoyed my watch.

In-fact if you were to CGI in a credible monster, over the awful blonde haired sea-monster with boobies rubber suit (Those are words you do not expect to use together in a sentence. 🙂 . Even for the 50s that monster design is deplorably bad, and a bit inexcusable when people were able to do impressive creature designs such as CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON), or edit around those scenes, you would actually have a good little movie. So definitely not a must see by any means, but it is worth a look on a slow movie day. There are things to like about it, even in 2019 going on 2020. 

So… 4 solid recommendations, and 3 not quite ready for prime time films reviewed for Halloween. If you have Amazon Prime, all the films are available to view at no cost. Come back tomorrow to see what makes the list on Day 11, of our Halloween countdown.

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

Go back ten years in this blog and you will see I was singing the praises of Walter Hill’s EXTREME PREJUDICE as not just one of Walter Hill’s best films, but one of the best action films ever made.

Here is where all of Walter Hill’s loves and inspirations (from John Ford to Sam Pekinpah) took him furthest and took all involved furthest. Much like Anthony Harvey’s seminal THE LION IN WINTER it was the best film of everyone involved.

So EXTREME PREJUDICE‘s lack of availability in a great Bluray, and better yet Steelbook format, has always struck me as a missed opportunity.

While the US has yet to correct that wrong, Germany and Japan (and the UK had an out of print version as well) evidently know a brilliant movie when they see one, as you can get Walter Hill’s best film on BluRay thru those countries.

Shame on you US!

In my best PLANET OF THE APES growl… “BOW YOUR HEAD!!!” 🙂

But yeah, came across the below BluRay version from Germany…

I have recently gone on a steelbook kick thanks to recent absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful steelbook releases by Shout Factory. I’ve kinda grown to despise the titular blue bar on the top of traditional BluRay packaging. I was never a fan of that branding, but accepted it because, that was all there was.

Well today we have great companies releasing wonderful Blurays done with an eye to aesthetics, that makes not just the film a work of art, but the whole gestalt, the whole process, a work of art. Which is what hopefully anything that takes up space, precious space, in our homes and our lives should be… a thing of beauty.

A thing that makes us smile, to look upon it.

The twelve movies below, including the aforementioned EXTREME PREJUDICE release… make me smile.

Reach out to me, if you need assistance in acquiring any of these.

Without further ado… 

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

The Japan and Uk version use similar art for the BluRay, but both are out of print. But they have that blue branding at the top that I can deal with, but does not inspire me to rush out and get a copy. These days I drag my feet before buying anything that doesn’t completely thrill me. Streaming has spoiled us, even us DVD and Bluray fans: today even for an increasing # of us, owning physical media is a luxury that has to justify itself, in an age of Digital.

Digital… meet justification. The German mediabook of EXTREME PREJUDICE…

 

HOLY … BLOODY… HECK!!! 

That is a magnificent cover! And I even forgive it the Blue branding at the top.

Man… when I saw this, even though the book portion is in German (And the title is AUSGELOSCHT which translates loosely to Elimination or Annihilation), I had to have it. Especially when I saw that it was sold out nearly everywhere. 

Okay that was one Bluray down, here are today’s other 11 must own BluRays.

 

 

https://amzn.to/2LeMZ4s

Yes, I listed THE THING Steelbook last time, and yes it still takes my breath away. SHOUT FACTORY has just knocked it out of the park with this and their other recent Steelbook releases. I own it now and still am impressed with it every time I see it on my shelf.  And people, this is nearly out of print everywhere. Pick it up while you can.

 

And moving on, here are the remaining must own Blurays of today!

 

 

https://amzn.to/2Lgq2Oj

https://amzn.to/2NKS3iF

 

https://amzn.to/2zMhgkM

The Blue Branding is just a removable cardboard piece, thankfully, and at the price this classic is a must own.

https://amzn.to/2NLjN6X

https://amzn.to/2MS9CxN

https://amzn.to/2NLzsmF

 

https://amzn.to/2MR0HMT

https://amzn.to/2HCv1qf

I do not love THE HOWLING steelbook, but it is growing on me. I kinda like it. And it is currently affordable.

https://amzn.to/2MSacvt

While everyone is proclaiming the death of physical media, I have to tell you, there are people like me, who will always support beautiful things. And while it is great to stream movies, and stream comics, and stream books, and stream magazines, there is no substitution for being able to hold and peruse and showcase a well designed work of art.

So if companies up their game like SHOUT FACTORY is doing, don’t just slap a photo on the cover, but put some bloody creativity into the packaging. Custom artwork, great design, and they will sellout their SteelBook Blurays… just like SHOUT FACTORY is doing. People will support… quality.

Choir… preach. 🙂

Guys if you like this post. go ahead and support this blog by using the links provided. Purchases thru the included links earn this blog a few much appreciated pennies to keep the virtual lights on. 🙂

Thanks for viewing, leave a comment, like or email or subscribe. It is all appreciated. Till next time… be well!!

 

Today’s 11 recommended Streaming/VOD channels to be subscried to!

Today’s 11 recommended Streaming/VOD channels to be subscribed to!

PAID CHANNELS

  • AMAZON PRIME for their extensive selection of movies that simply dwarfs what anyone else is showing. They have 12, TWELVE, BigFoot movies you can watch right now!!! Dozens upon Dozens of  Spaghetti Western and Shaw Brothers movies, presented in wide-screen, that look better than they ever did in the theaters. They also have access to newer movies, and a mountain of tv shows. As well as great Amazon originals such as JACK RYAN, THE GRAND TOUR, THE ABC MURDERS, THE EXPANSE (possibly my favorite Sci-Fi show since FARSCAPE) to name a few. But it is really just their uber video store level of obscure and great genre films and tv shows, and their great interface that makes them by a long way, the paid channel I watch the most of.
  • HULU- Hulu is great for staying abreast of recent/current shows such as AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR, as well as offering some movie and tv options, that the others may not.
  • NETFLIX- From being my first paid streaming channel, this has quickly become one of the paid channels I watch the least. To the point when they did their price hike a year or two ago I dropped the channel. However another member of the Heroic Times household decided to resubscribe. And I was able to finish up RIPPER STREET, and we have used it to check out their UMBRELLA ACADEMY and currently use it mainly to watch LUCIFER. But I find Netflix does a HORRIBLE job with its interface, and really should take a note in regards to Amazon, in how to better curate and group, and direct viewers to content that they may be interested in. You get the feeling on Netflix that whatever signal you are seeking, is buried under a lot of uninteresting noise. With more competition on the way, and with our household having a 3 paid streaming station limit, Netflix is the channel that likely will end up getting dumped (again) when something better comes along.

FREE CHANNELS

  • Youtube- The channel I watch these days the most, even more than Amazon Prime is Youtube. And one reason I have a Roku over an Amazon Fire TV, besides the fact I just like Roku’s interface better, is out the box, Amazon Fire stopped supporting the Youtube channel. I will do a separate post on the many channels, within Youtube, that I am subscribed to. But they consist of everyday people putting on content more captivating than the studios can; on everything from comics to movies to knives to guns to music to books to food to exercise to how-to to everything in between. Really intriguing, and I am happy there is not a ‘comments’ section, which for years is what kept me away from the online version of Youtube. Their un-moderated hate filled comments section. So the absence of that on the Youtube Roku app, makes it finally a worthwhile viewing experience.
  • TUBI
  • SONY CRACKLE
  • PLUTO TV
  • ROKU CHANNEL
  • VIMEO
  • FOOD NETWORK
  • HGTV

Best Streaming TV Show Week 28 of 2019 Edition: Netflix’s BODYGUARD

Do not watch the trailer. Do not read anything on the show, just go to Netflix, and you will probably end up binging the entire 6 episode season of this show in a couple nights.

WoW.

What a show. The BBC knows how to make brilliant shows. Between this, RIPPER STREET, MUSKETEERS, and the first several seasons of SPOOKS, the British Broadcasting Corporation is producing some of the finest television around. Though to be fair they make their share of misses as well. However, on a whole I find their level of quality, how they are shot, their music, their broad themes, to be more daring than what you will find on traditional broadcast tv.

At their best, they are cinematic in their scope, and far reaching in their impact.

Such as… BODYGUARD.

This six episode season of BODYGUARD, left those of us viewing, after the last episode played,… FLOORED. This is TV on a whole different level to popcorn fluff such as LUCIFER, that some people would call the best show on TV.

Insert rant on LUCIFER here. 🙂

Lucifer is ok at best, it is a very well worn ‘police procedural with spice’ type show, in the vein of tons of other gimmick police procedurals, whether ROSEWOOD or ELEMENTARY or SHERLOCK or FOREVER KNIGHT (Vampire Policeman) IZOMBIE (Zombie Policewoman) or GRIMM. Of these the best is arguably GRIMM.

LUCIFER for me, falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Another quick aside about LUCIFER: I can definitely do without the tired dynamic of “lets make the initially strong character of color, a ‘Charlie brown, sad sack’ who we use as a foil and comedy relief for the protagonist, and keep pulling the ball away from like Charlie Brown, and he gets dumped by the girl… etc”.

I like to call it the Worf syndrome 🙂 as you see this in a bunch of shows from STAR TREK NEXT GENERATION to ANDROMEDA to BUFFY. Speaking of BUFFY, poor DB Woodside got this same Charlie Brown dynamic done to him in that show as well. It’s a little thread of minstrel show television that remains… and largely because Americans so little examine the stereotypes they ingest and regurgitate.

Thankfully that is changing because you are getting writers of color writing characters of color more organically, so you get non stereotypical shows like LUKE CAGE and POWER, where writers are not setting up their strong characters of color, just to take them down a peg later in the series.

Aside from that bit of tired, agenda writing. LUCIFER is harmless fun, but great television it is not.

End of LUCIFER tirade. 🙂

 

For great television go watch… BODYGUARD.

You will thank me later.

This one i hope to purchase on Blu-ray as soon as it is available. It is a show you do not want to leave its availability to the ever shifting waters of streaming licensing deals.  It is that good.

On JESSICA JONES Trailer, Tom King’s BATMAN, and DCs SWAMP THING show!

Let us start in the middle Tom King’s BATMAN.

I listened to a recent podcast where they were bemoaning the news of Tom King stepping off the BATMAN comic. All kinds of speculation on him being removed, etc. That he was doing a brilliant run on Batman, etc, etc. And they couldn’t understand how DC could not see what a great, innovative job he was doing, and that DC execs must not like great stories, yada, yada.

This very minor and relatively harmless rant from this podcast I watched, illustrates perhaps a less wholesome issue with our culture in whole. This inability to see or look for, or acknowledge, viewpoints other than our own.

The truth is out there, to paraphrase a show I was never a fan of, beyond the odd ‘monster-of the week’ episode.

The truth is out there, but we have to look, and we have to do our homework.

It doesn’t have to be controversy when we get news we do not expect or agree with.

It doesn’t have to be DC executives are stupid.

It could be as simple, if Tom King was removed, as simple as the books were not moving in the numbers they liked, or meeting with across the board praise.

A simple look at reviews of Tom King’s BATMAN run, whether podcasts, or Youtube videos, or blogs or websites, when you extend the search beyond your circle, your chorus, you see a run, a body of work, that from the first trade on, was conflicted. And grew more uneven and conflicted, in terms of the writing, and the response to the writing with every trade/issue.

I think a lot of people make excuses for Tom King”s work when they do not love it. Like they refuse to admit they didn’t love it because of Tom King, so they blame the publisher, or the editor, etc.

A writer is a lot like a director, you get the praise when a product is great. You should also carry the blame when a product isn’t. A lot of people like to give King the former, and make excuses to keep him from the latter.

Stop making excuses or trying to blame Editorial if you do not like a Tom King story. You do not try to give them the praise if you love a Tom King story. So let’s not be hypocrites.

And I am not anti-Tom King, I am not one of these knuckle dragging anti social justice warrior, anti-woman, anti-diversity, psuedo neo nazi nuts. I judge the work, on the work, and wait to read it, before having an opinion on it.

Tom King can be a great writer.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2MAm9GC

His VISION series is one of the greatest things I have read in years. (And if you have not read it, I urge you to pick up the collected hardcover… it is that good.)

His OMEGA MEN very good.

https://amzn.to/2EZQGHG

His Batman, in pieces, standalone, I’m thinking specifically of ANNUAL 2, can be great. Annual 2 was great.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

https://amzn.to/2MzJsk0

However, specifically to Batman, other than that standalone story,  his actual run on Batman, the first 4 or 5 trades, I found awful. I mean… awful. “I am suicide!”As his take-away on the character of Batman. Really???!!

Batman: I Am Suicide (The Complete Story) - YouTube

The great flaw of Tom King’ s BATMAN (for me), was always Tom King’s take of the character. He keeps writing the same broken, suicidal, and ineffective character, over and over again. And while it worked for the Vision and Mr. Miracle, shoehorning that Hamlet type protagonist and calling him Batman or Kid Flash, does not work at all.

He keeps trying to tailor these heroes and archetypes to his ptsd framework, and it increasingly does not work. He needs to start writing to the character, than simply shoehorning them into his rigid story.

We get it,

Tom King brings a military background, and a CIA background, and an espionage background, and a background of those places where we all break under stress and pressure. And again telling that story with certain characters can work, however retelling that story with every character does not work.

There are more stories than that. And another reason we look to these heroes is because they are our aspirations writ large, they should not all be stand-ins for the places where we fall down, they should be the standards of how to standup. They should be our hopes writ large, not our insecurities. The VISION type stories should be the exception, not the rule.

I do not want to read a comic with a Superman dealing with PTSD. It starts to become one note writing, rather than great writing, to make all the heroes analogs for the common man, or the Hamlet in us.

So yeah, while I will not be picking up the individual issues regardless of who writes BATMAN, because paying more than $2.99 for a single Marvel or DC comic is insanity (Marvel and DC should both be ashamed of themselves for charging more than $2.99 for scant pages of comics. Now, smaller Independent publishers I cut them slack on pricing, because their page count and quality is usually higher. However Marvel and DC has the economies of scale to keep prices low. To not do so comes down to mismarketing, mismanagement, and short term greed, over long term sustainability and growth) , I will, if the word of mouth is good, check out the books when they hit the $1 bins of the secondary market or in collected edition at the libraries.

I look forward to a new take on Batman, and a new writer.

Okay… next topic…

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JESSICA JONES Season III trailer. Here is the thing, I was not interested enough to watch the 2nd season of JESSICA JONES. And by all reviews I did not miss much. But I went into the the trailer for season III hoping it would be good. I have to tell you, I found it incredibly uninteresting.

I can only take so much of brooding, not quite likeable, characters so, just with the way the protagonist is played, with a listless, can’t be bothered attitude, the performance of Jessica Jones is typically the weakest part of the show JESSICA JONES.

https://s15-us2.startpage.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http%3A%2F%2Ft0.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcTfEODizVkEhjX5DTd2Fp-EKHQdU-yX9y0FllP-kS2TgqSH8JQEVA&sp=ced14d29e1bfd30e584288dacec803c5&anticache=124267

So that said, you need charismatic, interesting people surrounding her to make the show worth while. You need a Luke Cage, you need a Purple Man. You need dynamism to counteract the plodding, disaffected, and starting to get annoying, performance of the protagonist.  And unfortunately the trailer for Season III offered none of that. Offered an Antagonist, absolutely as uninteresting as the protagonist. A battle of who could bore me more.

 

So yeah the trailer to Season III of JESSICA JONES, a hard fail. That is not going to make my watch list, based on that trailer.

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https://s17-us2.startpage.com/cgi-bin/serveimage?url=http%3A%2F%2Ft0.gstatic.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcRewaG-8fAXhxFf9lOTCExTuJSTRmAqCeY83ZOieU-7ZSR1JdRg&sp=2c79f4941178f19f38dc309b58dfd647&anticache=375506

Finally, the news that the DC Swamp Thing show has been cancelled before the 1st season really starts.

It has come out the reason DC/Warner Brothers pulled the plug is largely because North Carolina, an increasingly politically suspect state (excuses to my North Carolina Friends, but you are starting to be run by the pointy hat crowd. And I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. You know you need to start cleaning your house, much the same way the Nation needs to clean its house) basically bailed on their promise to help finance the production of SWAMP THING in their state.

It is a great shame, because I have to tell you, I absolutely loved the full trailer to SWAMP THING.

They looked like they had all the elements for a wonderful , long form story, worthy of the kind of eerie, brilliant, haunting storytelling that creators Alan Moore, Bissette, Totleben, Wein, and Wrightson laid the ground work for.

Such a shame.

Maybe someone else will add the additional funds so we get to see this vision of Swamp Thing, eventually played out.

Well that’s it guys.

Just wanted to put my 2 cents in on those 3 topics. Take two seconds and support today’s recommended comics.

You know when I was saying I cut Independent comics a slack, because of their quality of content and packaging. ALTERNA COMICS and AHOY COMICS are two cases in point. There are a lot of great writers/artists in comics, arguably one of the best of them is Eric Powell. I absolutely am enamored with his GOON and his HILLBILLY and his SPOOK SHOW. And ALTERNA comics addreses all the issues with price gouging that we are getting from the big two, Marvel and DC, while giving us quality products. So you can preorder comics from both publishers and get them direct mailed to you.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/subscriptionservice

 

Use the links above get great books, support these publishers, and earn a few pennies for this blog. A win-win!

 

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Movie Trailer of the Day : HIGHWAYMEN & TRIPLE FRONTIER

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BODU4MzM2MDAxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDEzNjM0NzM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_.jpg

THE HIGHWAYMEN & TRIPLE FRONTIER– I have not been the biggest fan of Netflix, mostly for their price hikes, but also I have never been a fan of their user interface. But their actual content, since the Marvel/Netflix shows, has over all been sound.

I think the Netflix/Marvel TV Shows,for the most part, were very strong. IRON FIST was an unfortunate misstep (my least favorite show next to the PUNISHER. While loved by many, I found season 1 after a strong start, plodding, one note and unlikable), however DAREDEVIL Season 1 set the action standard, and LUKE CAGE Season 1 and 2 for me set the story standard. I like the places LUKE CAGE went, and I think it holds up the best to repeat viewings, as it has something to say more significant than supposed good guy hits bad guy.  And for me has character growth, the other shows lacked.  I love where LUKE CAGE Season 2 ends, and of all of them, its loss of one more season seems the most unfortunate.

But beyond the Marvel/Netflix collaboration, Netflix is well represented by its new films and straight to Netflix films.

While Will Smith is currently getting the stink eye for his ridiculous look in the live action ALADDIN (what was he and his agent thinking???),  I enjoyed BRIGHT and I have enjoyed other Netflix  branded films such as MUDBOUND and BIRDBOX.

Also Netflix has a great offering of international TV shows from RIPPER STREET to NARCOS to MINISTRY OF TIME.

So I am always open to being impressed by their content. 

And with the latest THE HIGHWAYMEN trailer and TRIPLE FRONTIER trailer, I am very impressed with Netflix’s March Lineup. These two trailers look stellar!

Even though I philosophically am more inclined to the Warren Beatty version of BONNIE & CLYDE, I am open to giving this opposing take a chance. See for yourself here…