Saturday, September 28, 2019


Yes, I know I missed an Oscar post this past Friday. That's kind of shameful when I've claimed that I'm going to start posting more regularly again. It's especially sad since it's the first one I've flat-out missed since I started this in 2014.

I promise, there's a reason for it. I've been gone for the last four days visiting my father in North Carolina. Dad's been receiving radiation treatments (his prognosis is good), which wear him down pretty hard, so I went to help out. I figured his health was probably more important than this blog for half a week. In all of the not-really-confusion-but-differently-focused-attention, I just didn't have a chance to write anything up.

The post I was going to put up on Friday will go up this Monday, and things will get back to normal. I promise.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Off Script: Honeymoon

Film: Honeymoon
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on laptop.

I’d like to see more women directing horror movies. There are a number of horror movies that have flown under the radar directed by women, and many of them are too good to have suffered from that sort of ambivalence from the audience. A woman director, at least in my experience, tends to make horror a lot more personal and internal. It may be that women are more attuned to a personalized horror, living (generally) in a society that often downgrades them and their contributions. I respond to that in horror. I’m of the opinion that horror tends to work best when we have a real connection with the characters. Honeymoon is that sort of a movie.

Bea (Rose Leslie) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) are just married and, as the name of the film implies, going on their honeymoon. This will take place at a remote cabin that evidently belongs to Bea’s family. She knows the place well, after all, and the bear skin on the wall in one room was apparently supplied by her father. Bea and Paul seem very much like a happy couple, and like any recently married couple, the honeymoon is at least in part about enjoying each other away from the prying eyes of the rest of the world.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Off Script: They Live

Film: They Live
Format: DVD from personal collection on laptop.

Why is it that John Carpenter doesn’t get the respect that he has clearly earned? Sure, some of his movies are terrible, but that’s true of just about every director you can think of. Carpenter has made some incredibly influential and important films as well. Horror wouldn’t be the genre it is without Halloween and The Thing, and movies like Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China are rightfully cult classics. That’s the position of the film The Live, a relatively low-budget science fiction/horror film that can be easily referenced by just about anyone with any knowledge of either of those two genres.

It’s also worth noting that the story itself is a classic. The film is based on a short story called “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson, but it’s not an uncommon theme. There’s a little bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers here, for instance. Stephen King fans might know a short story of his called “The Ten O’Clock People” that is a slightly different version of the same story—enough that it almost feels like plagiarism. Even The Matrix has its roots set at least partly in They Live. Its influence is in many ways all out of proportion to the film that we have.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Off Script: Blade II

Film: Blade II
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library through interlibrary loan on laptop.

If I were to make a Mount Rushmore of Guillermo del Toro films, Blade II would not make the cut. In fact, of his 10 films that I’ve seen, Blade II ranks 8th. However, it’s the best of the Blade movies by far. Part of that comes from the inventive direction of Guillermo del Toro, who is my favorite working director, so I admit to some potential bias here. Some of it comes from a really good story, one that is frankly the best of the three films. Part of it comes from some action set pieces that are as good as you’ll find in horror movies or action movies.

Blade II picks up a couple of years after the first film. Blade (Wesley Snipes), a half-vampire who has all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses, is still spending his time hunting vampires. This time, though, he is also hunting his mentor, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), presumed dead at the end of the first film, but actually turned into a vampire and regularly tortured by the vampire nation. Blade is now assisted by a mechanic who calls himself Scud (Norman Reedus). The film opens with a confrontation between Blade and some vampires, culminating in him learning the location of Whistler. One rescue later, and Whistler is back on team Blade.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

I Want It All

Film: Bohemian Rhapsody
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

I’ve gotten a bit of pressure from a number of people around me to finally get around to Bohemian Rhapsody. I’m not always a fan of biopics and while Queen was a great band, they’re one of those bands that, as much as I like a lot of their songs, I never thought to buy any of their albums (and yes, I’m old enough that I can say “albums”). I was also a bit disturbed at the bizarre prosthetics that Rami Malek was evidently forced to wear in his role as Freddie Mercury. I realize that Mercury had big teeth, but Malek spends a good portion of this film looking like a Dr. Seuss character.

Anyway, I finally got around to this and I’m still kind of formulating an opinion on it. I think, in the main, that I liked it, but there are some problems that I have with it. We’ll certainly get to that by the end of this, but I want to start by saying that I was probably wrong as a young’un to have not bought any Queen discs. One of the better features of Bohemian Rhapsody is a reminder of just how good a lot of their songs really are, and how many of them they had.