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Movie Time 2.0: TT mini reviews

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
House (1977) is still amazing. This time around the directors background in commercials was even clearer.

The Mummy (1932)

Between Frankenstein and the Body Snatcher, two very different (if both morbid) roles for Boris Karloff, I was excited to see his Imhotep. He's doing fine but the movie itself is a bit dull (plus, if there was ever a warning sign, I would say a character listed as the Nubian in the credits). There are a few haunting shots, to be sure, particularly close ups of Karloff.


If you are going for "zombie in bandages", that's only a very small part of the movie as Imhotep spends most of the film in a human disguise, trying to find and romance the reincarnation of his lost love. It's thankfully short but it doesn't have the energy of Frankenstein and Karloff is doing good, this isn't as good as the aforementioned roles.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
At a film festival over the weekend we watched The Eyes of Tammy Faye which stars a totally unrecognizable Jessica Chastain as the titular televangelist and Andrew Garfield as her husband. This was a passion project for Chastain, who produced the movie and researched it over the course of seven years. Chastain was also present at the showing and did a Q&A afterward. I highly recommend this film. It's a window into the soul of an often misunderstood public figure, a scathing look at the world of Reagan-era televangelism as well as an acting showcase. I was extremely impressed by both Chastain and Garfield.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

I got Shudder for the month and after the cool news that the horror hostess came out, I saw she had a 40th anniversary special and thought "I've never been a fan but she always seemed cool. I should watch the special and see what it's like." Basically, it's just her host four films on the streaming service and the first being her own film. And the film is... not great but completely watchable. Like, I don't know if I laughed but Peterson is a likable personality. I feel like my relationship with it is similar to how someone who didn't watch/listen to Weird Al growing up coming to UHF in the now times.

The funny thing is despite all the double entendres, it actually feels kind of wholesome in the same way Al does. Yes, there are tons of jokes about her boobs and butt but I almost feel it's more about Elvira's self-deprecating valley girl persona, which is extremely charming. So as a movie it's not that good but completely watchable in a 80s nostalgia sort of way.
 
I watched Vampires vs. the Bronx on Netflix. A really fun comedy with some light horror. I generally don't like comedies or PG-13 movies but I heard this movie was pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised.

I think horror fans and non-horror fans alike will enjoy Vampires vs. the Bronx.
 
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Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

This has become one of my favorite Halloween season movies to rewatch. I only saw it for the first time a few years ago. Like you say, there's something wholesome about it. Elvira knows who she is - she created the persona, after all. And it's just satisfying to see her clash against this little midwestern town.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
Filling some holes in my spooky movie history by watching The Omen. Which I deemed; worthy of its reputation. Kind of hard to be completely sympathetic with a multi-millionaire highly ranked government official deciding to gaslight his wife in order to figure out how to kill his devil baby (a revelation he spends way too little time accepting), but the tension stays high throughout, and even with full knowledge that the kid is literally the antichrist, the movie does a good job of making the fact that the climax is built around trying to murder a five year old have all the impact it really should.

Most of the practical effects are… laughable (a mannequin wearing David Warner’s outfit getting its head removed is especially ridiculous, but GregRoy Pecks wife needing a full body cast and going into a coma after falling about two feet is up there too), but it’s the kind of movie where the horror comes from meaningful glares and ominous chanting
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
While I was poking through Amazon listings to pick up a couple of upcoming entries for my Joe Dante marathon, the algorithm suggested a Shout Selects special edition Blu-Ray of 1989's The Wizard. I've never been so thrilled with an impulse buy. I had no idea this special edition existed (it was apparently released in 2020) and I couldn't believe that anyone cared about this movie enough to make a two-disc collectors' edition of it.



I've met very few people who have seen The Wizard - though many are familiar with it through memes - and I've met almost nobody who actually loves the film the way I do. Part of it is simple childhood nostalgia. This was a movie I had on VHS and I rewatched constantly. The tape started with this TV spot for Universal Studios Florida:


The Wizard is mostly known for being a crass Nintendo and Universal Studios ad vehicle. That's not entirely wrong. NES games make several key appearances throughout the film; there's a whole montage dedicated to conversations with Nintendo Game Counselors; the last 25 minutes of the movie take place at Universal Studios and feature the U.S. debut of Super Mario Bros. 3.

One of the reasons I rewatched this movie so often as a kid was because it felt like a window into an era that I missed. I would have been watching this in the early-to-mid 90s when the Super Nintendo was on shelves and the big N's total domination of the western video game market was already over. Even as a kid I was already kind of nostalgic for this lost age and I felt I could get a glimpse of it in the movie.

But the other reason is because outside of all the video game stuff, this is an Americana-heavy road trip movie. The picture's cast bounces between downtown diners, cafes, junkyards, bus stations, casinos, roadside motels, crumbling drive-in theaters, and trailer parks, all set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Nevada desert. The atmosphere of this journey is something that I take with me on every car trip to a new place. Heck, there have been a few times where I've even packed my NES in my suitcase so I could plug it into a motel television like they do in the movie.



I also have always felt that the marketing goals of the movie don't get in the way of its emotional core. It's a movie about a broken family and specifically about a child whose needs aren't being met by his emotionally stunted parents. The video game stuff is all incidental to this - the only reason they decide to enter Video Armageddon is because they accidentally discover Jimmy has a talent for games, and they think his entering the contest might help him overcome his trauma. The movie doesn't take an easy route out of this, either. At the end, the characters are smiling, but the families are still broken. You get the sense that everyone realized something new about themselves, but there's still hard work to do once they get back home.

There's more I could say, but I'll finish up by noting that the features on the special edition are amazing. I'm excited to rewatch the movie with director commentary and the second disc has several featurettes. I've already watched the deleted scenes, which were apparently never released prior to this edition. I was surprised to find almost thirty minutes of material here, including an entire early subplot following Cory and three of his local friends who never appear in the final cut, as well as lot more content with Jimmy learning how to play video games.

Give this one a chance if you've never seen it. It might surprise you.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
There's more I could say, but I'll finish up by noting that the features on the special edition are amazing. I'm excited to rewatch the movie with director commentary and the second disc has several featurettes. I've already watched the deleted scenes, which were apparently never released prior to this edition. I was surprised to find almost thirty minutes of material here, including an entire early subplot following Cory and three of his local friends who never appear in the final cut, as well as lot more content with Jimmy learning how to play video games.
Please do give a report after watching these! I have a certain kind of fondness for The Wizard, though I wouldn't say I love it, but you did a great job illustrating what makes it a kind of unique movie despite (?) its premise as an extended Nintendo/Universal commercial. One of my personal favorite moments: "You got 50,000 on Double Dragon?"
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I actually watched The Wizard near its release, so it functioned as intended as my first glimpse of SMB3 in action, which was a pretty mind-blowing moment in itself. I definitely have fond memories of the movie as a whole (and also remember having a bit of a crush on the female lead, as I was about the right age for that), and I'm curious as to how well it holds up despite the blatantly commercial premise. I.... might actually have a copy on DVD around that I picked up somewhere cheap. The new extras sound pretty cool though!
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
Watched the original Clash of the Titans. Which is one of those movies I picked up from cultural osmosis, but hadn’t seen in full before. Imagine my surprise that Laurence Olivia merely says to let loose the Kraken, and doesn’t scream to RELEASE THE KRAKEN.

While the movie is beautifully shot, and has Harryhausen at the absolute top of his game for visuals, the movie itself is kind of plodding, and I didn’t actually like any of the characters except Burgess Meredith and Bubo the stop motion robot owl.

And god help me, there were parts Where I thought the remake did a better job
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
The Wizard was the standard movie they’d throw on in middle school when the substitute teacher didn’t have anything better to do with us so I saw the first half a billion times. it’s a good’un.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
I'm not really into Star Wars, partly because I don't watch that many movies in generell, partly because I don't care too much about action-adventure movies. But I did watch Episode 4 today, and it was, no surprise there, pretty enjoyable. I liked the goofy noises of the robots, and was surprised to find Leya portrayed, not as this nice princess, but as a politician who is accustomed to getting her way, and giving orders. Nice surprise. Also, I guess I now know the inspiration for the scene in FF IV, where the twins turn themselves to stone to stop the walls from crushing everyone. Considering how much this series uses from Star Wars, this seems like a fair assumption.

What surprised me was the structure. It takes a pretty long time, until we meet Luke for the first time. Instead, we spend a lot of time with the two robots. Not a complaint, they are enjoyable to have around, just really surprising. Together with the slow pace of the movie, at least at the beginning, but that's probably a thing of the time.

But, and this isn't meant as a criticism, just as an observation and question: I don't feel like this movie tells a full story? Like, we start with Leya, who gets captured, and who the heroes try to free. Then, we learn more about the Empire and the Death Star, and we want to stop the former and destroy the latter. Which the movie seems to imply is the same thing? I mean, yes, we do end with the Death Star destroyed, but even with this being a strong blow to the Empire, it isn't beaten in any way, at this point. Darth Vader, the main antagonist, isn't really defeated either. Yes, the Empire took a big hit, but this feels so much like we watched a few episodes of a series, and like there is clearly still stuff to come. Even Luke, who started his way to becoming a Jedi, just started here. Dunno, it just feels like it was always intended to have more story told afterwards. It would feel more full, if the movie ends after Leya is freed, but at this point, we clearly have to deal with the Death Star, which is also just a part of the problem. Dunno, as I said, not a criticism, it just feels structurally weird to me.

But it is a fun movie, which isn't hurt in any way by what I talked about it here. Just had the urge to talk about it.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
George Lucas drew inspiration for Star Wars from the Flash Gordon serials (fun fact: he'd attempted to secure the movie rights to Flash Gordon, but was unsuccessful, and so made Star Wars instead), which is why it feels episodic. Those stories usually ended with the villains defeated, but still lurking in the background.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
Yeah, as I understood it, the episode number in Star Wars (I know it wasn't there originally) was meant to evoke that feeling of going to the theater and seeing a random part of a 10-part serial. Indiana Jones's cold opens function similarly.
 

Isrieri

My father told me this would happen
Last week I got to see Blade Runner for the first time. I've seen a lot of clips so I knew what the movie looked like but I didn't know the plot progression or story beats.

I actually like the sequel's plot better; thought-provoking and had me on the edge of my seat. The original has a superior mood. You can almost smell the mold and grime. I'll have to spend more time with the film to appreciate the themes which are more nuanced (don't really understand the signifiance of all the origami) but it stands as a very well done tragedy. I found myself rooting for the replicant antagonists as much as Deckard & Rachel.

I didn't know that Roy was HUNGRY LIKE THE WOOOLF~
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
(and also remember having a bit of a crush on the female lead, as I was about the right age for that),

Cool fact: The female lead is Jenny Lewis, who acted in a few films in the 80s/90s but is now much better known for her band, Rilo Kiley.


Rilo Kiley disbanded in 2014 but Lewis still makes music and is still very good.


Also I still have a crush on her.

Anyway, I've watched some of the special features, and I feel vindicated regarding my thoughts on the movie. Director Todd Holland always had a vision for this movie's emotional throughline, and even rewrote the final scenes to add the moments at the dinosaur park which really ties the whole thing together (the script had it ending very abruptly with Jimmy tossing his lunchbox out the car window).

They thought they had a great thing, and everyone seemed to love working on the movie. They were caught totally off-guard by the negative reception, which focused mainly on the product placement. They were surprised by this, because they figured if they were going to make Karate Kid but with video games, well, you needed to show some video games. Part of the problem was how this was made in the era before rampant product placement was commonplace in films - nobody bats an eye now when you see a Transformers movie that's a three-hour commercial for GM products (this was the director's quote).

It's one of those sweet stories where all of the creative team thought the movie was a forgotten footnote in their careers, until many years later when they learned it had a cult following.
 

gogglebob

The Goggles Do Nothing
(he/him)
Cool fact: The female lead is Jenny Lewis, who acted in a few films in the 80s/90s but is now much better known for her band, Rilo Kiley

That's all well and good, but at this point, I only listen to bands that contain members that appeared on the seminal Nickelodeon television program, Salute Your Shorts. Got any bands that meet those qualifications?
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
It's always fascinating to me when there's media like this from the 80s/90s or earlier featuring characters that are probably on the autism spectrum and still treats them with some amount of dignity and respect, except our culture didn't have the capacity to name that explicitly at all until very recently. I guess it's also possible that Jimmy had depression and not autism, but still. Did the commentary have anything to say about that?
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
It's always fascinating to me when there's media like this from the 80s/90s or earlier featuring characters that are probably on the autism spectrum and still treats them with some amount of dignity and respect, except our culture didn't have the capacity to name that explicitly at all until very recently. I guess it's also possible that Jimmy had depression and not autism, but still. Did the commentary have anything to say about that?

I haven't listened to the director commentary yet, but I did just watch one of the special features called "A Clinical Analysis of The Wizard" which features an interview with a psychologist who discusses Jimmy's reactions to trauma and the possibilities of his being on the spectrum. The film's writer said his inspiration for Jimmy's character came from a friend's child who was likely also on the autism spectrum (though the words to describe this weren't really in use in the 80s), exemplified by the hyperfocus which we see in the Jimmy character.

It's clear that the filmmakers intended to treat his autism and disability with dignity, and it's to the movie's credit that the events don't "cure" him at the end, just give him and us some closure and a sign of first steps toward better self-regulation.
 

lincolnic

can stop, will stop
(he/him)
That's all well and good, but at this point, I only listen to bands that contain members that appeared on the seminal Nickelodeon television program, Salute Your Shorts. Got any bands that meet those qualifications?
This is also what I think of when I think of Rilo Kiley and child stars.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
A Field in England

This appeared on Shudder and in more than one place this is classified as horror but I wouldn't, though it skirts the line (particularly of folk horror). I think it has some weird existential horror but it is more of an art thriller and I could easily seeing it turn off viewers with its weird pacing but it is a pretty amazing movie. It's by Ben Wheatley, a name I've heard as a fantastic director of genre pictures. I'd only seen two of his Doctor Who episodes (which were good enough) and his ABCs of Death entry (one of the not-bad ones) so I wasn't prepared for a weird, wild art film about a battle of will between wizards. Do they actually have powers or is everyone just hopped on mushrooms? Or is magic a stranger, subtler thing than a simple binary. It's an interesting film and if you have the patience for how it will slow things down heavily for the sake of setting the proper tone (I shouldn't have watched this whilst sleepy) you get a pretty good and surprisingly funny movie.
 
Dune was fantastic.
Tremendous enormity: people dwarfed by the brutalist architecture, impossible space vehicles, shai-hulud.

As an adaptation of the novel, it gets deeper at themes. It draws attention to them in exposition, but very deftly done. Nothing feels like forced.

OH MAN.

It was really good
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Hero

Hero is a well-made movie and the middle part is absolutely great but when you get to the end, it isn't not only nakedly propagandist but beyond that, it also kind of makes that the protagonists journey is... largely pointless? It's still a fun movie and I love high melodrama but it kind of makes everyone's sacrifice seem kind of meaningless. I feel I can put aside some views I don't agree with for the nature of the story but I feel like the characters didn't change a damn thing.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I saw Dune yesterday and I loved it.

Today, I watched Night Teeth, about a guy who gets hired to drive a couple of hot girls around for the night, only to find out they are vampires and he gets 'sucked' into some kind of vampire war. Its perfectly adequate.

And I watched Mystery Men. Is it just me, or is that movie just aggressively not funny? Setting aside to futility of doing what feels like a comedy send up of the Schumacher Batman movies, I can't really think of a single joke that works.
 

ArugulaZ

Fearful asymmetry
Faced with the impossibility of making a conclusion to the Bill and Ted trilogy, I think Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon made the best ending one could realistically expect with Bill and Ted Face the Music. It's loopy and chaotic and difficult to follow, and while it's not as good as the first film, it feels faithful to the franchise, is heartfelt without stooping to drippy sentimentality, and ends logically.
Hey, how are you going to make a song that unites the world if the world isn't helping you perform it?
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Tigers are Not Afraid

I caught this one on Shudder for spooky season and while it fits, it's not really quite the right movie to discuss in the spooky thread. Oh, there are ghosts but this is more of a dark fairy tale. It feels a piece with Guillermo Del Toro's films about children having to deal with both fantastical horrors and real evils as a group of homeless children evade criminals in a city brutalized by drug wars. But one child has three chalks that give magic wishes... which turn out to not make things better and she ends up haunted by ghosts. It's a pretty good movie and while it isn't quite as good as Pan's Labyrinth or the Devil's Backbone, Tigers are Not Afraid does a lot right and it's definitely worth your time.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I liked Dune a lot.

I saw the movie at Imax with a group of six. Of the six, three hated or were neutral on it; two liked it; and the last was so bored that he walked out halfway through. I don't think any of these reactions are invalid - the movie is long, slow, and ofttimes navel-gazing, and ultimately it only tells half a story. For the people who like slow-cooked high fantasy this one hits the target; to the casual observer it's just a lot of hot sand and loud music.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
Watched the 1978 TV movie adaptation of Dr. Strange. As you might expect from a TV movie from the 1970s; it was pretty slow paced and dull. Also not especially faithful to the character (he’s a nice psychiatrist, and has perfectly functional hands, and no real interest in being a wizard hero, for one thing).

On the other hand, it starred Jessica Walter as the main villain (as a sexy witch instead of a stern matriarch, so that was an adjustment), and some of the visuals were pretty impressive considering the shows mid-70s TV movie budget. Genuinely liked the depiction of Dormammu, too.

Or at least I assume it was Dormammu, he is never named, but there’s only so many hulking demonic figures clouded in smoke and flame in Dr. Strange
 
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