Monday, April 24, 2023

Another List Completed

Film: The Boneyard
Format: Internet video on Fire!

If you had told me when I put Fangoria’s 101 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen list as a collection of movies I was going to watch that I would end with a film that featured Phyllis Diller and Normal Fell, I would have believed you, but I would have been at least a little shocked. The Boneyard is in some ways the perfect way to finally close out this list. It’s a better movie than you might think going in, but it’s also a movie that you probably haven’t seen for a very good reason.

The Boneyard is very much a low-budget film, and it’s one that put all of its budget into the special effects. One of the ways you can tell this is low-budget is that the most famous people in it are, well, Phyllis Diller and Normal Fell. Another way to tell is that it essentially takes place in a single location—a morgue. There are a few moments here and there outside of the morgue, but all of the real action takes place there.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Like and Share

Film: Sissy
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on basement television.

I have said before on a number of occasions that for me to really connect with a movie, I need to have a character with whom I can have some sort of connection. That’s not always the case in the sense that there are going to be a few exceptions here and there, but if I find the entire cast of characters to be non-sympathetic, the film is a really hard sell for me in general. That’s definitely the case with Sissy, an Australian Gen-Z horror/slasher. The idea here is fantastic, but I genuinely dislike all of the characters, which made it a tough watch.

We’re going to meet Cecilia (Aisha Dee), who makes a good enough living as a social media influencer/woo peddler. Cecilia, we learn, does meditation, positivity, and life affirmation on one social media platform or another (YouTube or Instagram, probably), and has amassed a solid collection of 200,000 followers. She seems to affirm her own value by the constant stream of positive replies from her viewers and followers.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Dig In!

Film: The Menu
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on basement television.

I like to cook. I’m not what anyone would call a foodie by any stretch, and I’m nothing like a gourmet chef, but I like working in the kitchen. I have a disturbingly large collection of cookbooks, and I do actually use them pretty regularly. I say all of this at the start because The Menu is about food, at least on the surface. It’s about a hell of a lot more, but it’s the food that’s going to get us in the door.

We begin with Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anna Taylor-Joy), waiting for a boat. Tyler is a foodie and the two of them are going to an island restaurant for an incredibly exclusive meal. A world-renowned chef named Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) runs a restaurant on the island. They serve to about a dozen people a night, service takes about 4 ½ hours, and it costs $1250 per person. We see a few other people getting on board the ship. These include a famous actor (John Leguizamo) and an influential food critic (Janet McTeer).

Friday, April 14, 2023


Film: Amsterdam
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on basement television.

At some point in watching Amsterdam, you are almost certainly going to wonder how in the hell it happened. On the surface, Amsterdam is a film with an incredibly cast, the sort of cast that used to appear in epic films where everyone in Hollywood took a role. I can’t begin to count the Oscar nominations in this group, nor the Oscar nominations to come in future years. And yet the film itself is so flat. If I had to guess, it’s the screenplay where all of this falls apart.

Amsterdam tells a fictionalized version of the Business Plot, a 1933 conspiracy to replace FDR with someone who would be more Nazi-friendly at the top of the U.S. Fortunately, the person tapped to take over, the awesomely-named General Smedley Butler, spilled the plot. Amsterdam wants to tell this story, but it takes a long time getting there and includes a great deal that has nothing to do with it. There’s a veneer of wackiness over the story here, and we spend most of our time with characters who are forced into the center of the story for no clear reason.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

But Not so Quick

Film: Jack Be Nimble
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime at the office.

Last month, I finally caught up with Ice Cold in Alex, a film I had looked for for some time. It was a film that managed to live up to my expectations, at least in the main. This month, I found that Jack Be Nimble was streaming on Amazon. This is one of the final two movies from the original horror movie lists I posted years ago, and one that I have not been able to find for close to a decade. I’ve been looking for this movie for some time, and while I expected it to be middle of the road, I did have some hopes for it.

Suffice it to say that Jack Be Nimble did not really live up to what it could have been. For a film I’d been looking to watch for years, I could have hoped for a great deal more. This isn’t to say that this was a bad film by any stretch. It’s not; it’s just less than it could be. It definitely has a point that it wants to make, but it takes a long time getting there, and it feels like not a lot happens along the way.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023


Film: Mad God
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime at the office.

What follows might well be the shortest full-length review I have ever written or will ever write. That’s not because there are specific problems with Mad God, but because there isn’t a great deal to write about it. This is an experimental film in every way that word can be used to describe a film. It’s also one of the closest things I’ve ever seen to a pure hellscape. This is the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch come to life through a lens of terrible technology, an animated horror of Tetsuo: The Iron Man. This is the same sort of birth/death/rebirth series of images as in a film like mother! with the added psychedelia of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the end (even including the obelisks).

For this blog, though, the problem is that there is no real narrative structure here. I’ve said that before about other films, usually meaning it to suggest that there isn’t a lot of plot—something like Train to Busan has a plot that fits on a matchbook with room to spare. But Mad God has literally no narrative structure. There is a series of events, of visions, and of places that the film visits, but they connect in the same way that skits in Monty Python shows did, one blending into the next, and us as the audience following something else for a time before we move on once again.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Wish I May, Wish I Might

Film: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Format: Streaming video from Peacock at the office.

We’ve been doing some remodeling, and that’s put us in a situation with needing to have workers in the house while we deal with yapping dogs while trying to have meetings. Because of that, we’ve rented some temporary office space, and my wife and I take turns going there with the dogs. It was my day today, and while I sat at my laptop, I figured it was as good a time as any to knock out an Oscar film. There are only a couple streaming for free at the moment, so Puss in Boots: The Last Wish it is.

Puss in Boots is a character in the sort of extended Shrek-o-verse, having appeared in the second movie. A successful spin-off yields a sequel, and the universe of the film is rich enough and the character interesting enough to support a new story. This time, we open with Puss (Antonio Banderas) partying with a town to the chagrin of the governor. Eventually, this leads to a protracted battle with a giant that results in an accident that should kill him, but he appears to be fine.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

What I've Caught Up With, March 2023

Today is April Fool’s Day, a day that I genuinely dislike. It’s been my experience that many of the “jokes” that are played on this day are needlessly cruel, so it’s a day where I tend to avoid other people as much as I can, including social media. That’s neither here nor there with this blog, except to say that this post isn’t an April fool—it’s just my regular recap of the movies I’ve caught up with. There were more than listed here, though, because I did full reviews of a bunch of my catch up movies. In fact, almost half of the movies I removed from the giant list ended up with full reviews.