April 14th is the 8th and final season of Game Of Thrones airing on HBO. I am excited. Not because I love Game of Thrones, but because I am sick of hearing about it. I am a nerd. I have many nerd friends, and for most of my nerd friends, this show is more than a show, it is religion. I first started hearing about this damn show back in 2011. The problem with this show, is that you can just have somebody say “hey check out Game of Thrones”, and then just casually watch it. No. That is not enough. They want to strap you to a chair, make you chug a case of Red Bull, and then shove toothpicks into your eyelids, and force you to marathon about 4 seasons of this show until you jump up and scream to the heavens, “YES JESUS H TAP DANCING CHRIST, I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT! GAME OF THRONES IS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO MY MEANINGLESS EXISTENCE. I WILL CONVERT EVERYONE I KNOW TO LOVE AS MUCH AS I NOW DO!!!” Most of you that know me however, will know that I walk a different path…
Honestly, I wanted to like it. I gave it about four episodes and was bored out of my skull. I may have even nodded out a few times. I am not going to say it isn’t necessarily good, it just doesn’t hold my interest. Kind of like the way the Lord of the Rings series didn’t necessarily hold my interest either. See, I am just not into what we used to call in the 80s “Sword & sorcerer Movies”. It is a subgenre of the fantasy genre, and was spawned by the “sword & sandals” movies of the 1950s. Some of which were biblical, but many of them involved some muscled dude playing Hercules going on an adventure. In the 80s however, Conan The Barbarian made a huge splash, and schlockmeisters of all sorts wanted to cash in on the popular trend. Now bear with me, because I had to do some deep diving to get some of this info streight, but to the best of my knowledge, Conan was the big one that started it all. After 1982, these movies were showing up in theaters every other weekend. We didn’t know which ones were big, and which ones were schlock. It was not like we could Google which producers were making the big movies, all we had were posters, tv spots, trailers, and maybe an occasional review in a newspaper or magazine. Most of the posters were really great though! So you would see these at the drive in, and maybe forget about them after a day or two. Only a handful of them can be found on Blu-ray now, and even less than that, have withstood the test of time. Luckily for me, I have YouTube, and Amazon Prime!
Sword & sorcerer movies were a dream come true to movie producers, because they were easy to make. I mean…what was the price of the average loin cloth in the 1980s, right? You could film them at your local park, secluded mountain range, or desert. Basically anyplace that didn’t have any technology. And then the following week, you could add some leather and rivets to the loin cloth, make up a few go carts, film the entire thing in a junk yard and call it a “post apocalypse adventure”, that will be next month’s featured genre. Most sword & Sorcerer movies have the same basic plots. A hero goes on a journey, usually to rescue a damsel, or kill some asshole. A long the way, he meets some more damsels, a wizard, slays a few monsters, and does it all without having to stop to rub more baby oil on. Most of the time, a magic sword, is involved. The basic Dungeon’s & Dragons RPG game was coming up around this time, and sold well on tv as well as The He-Man cartoon, and Masters of the Universe toy line. Kind of like the super hero genre, none of these movies were ever taken seriously. They usually had actors that bordered on soft core porn grade level of line delivery. Sometimes special effects were decent, sometimes they were insanely bad. Sometimes shots were reused from original to sequel like DeathStalker II. You know you have hit absolute fuck it, when you are re-using actual shots from the original movie. It’s not to say it’s all bad, in fact some of these are so bad, that they can be either downright charming, or embarrassing train wrecks. One thing for certain, is that most of these movies objectified women as either damsels to be rescued, or trophies to be awarded.
It wasn’t until the later 80s when several attempts were made to make movies about stronger female warriors, but like with early super hero movies like Elektra, some of these attempts fell short, and were lost to obscurity. Red Sonja didn’t exactly shatter the glass ceiling on the sword & sorceror genre, but you have to at least give it credit for trying, and some people have a soft spot for it.
Eventually these movies faded away into the night, but they are back now for the most part. Lord of the Rings was taken seriously, Oscars were awarded. Game of Thrones is a HUGE success, whether I like it or not, and most of the actors and actresses on this show, even though they show as much skin as the worst of the 80s schlock, they are taken seriously, and they show up in pretty much every other movie that comes out now.
Like I said though, I lived this already. I know this music. It doesn’t matter that these properties are taken seriously now, all I see are the same movies that I grew up with, just with a little bit better acting. I mean the stories are all the same, except now, it takes 8 seasons to tell the same story that might show up in two or three of these sword & sorcerer movies. I know, I know…but Adam…the acting…the drama. Yes, I can get all of that from just as many seasons of Breaking Bad, but without all the magic and dragon stuff. I know that it seems like I am dogging on this pretty hard, but I remember a great deal of these movies from the 80s, and they are super fun to talk about. Some of them I have a soft spot for, even if they are not good at all, and they are probably not the ones you THINK I am going to talk about. My staff will be joining in on the fun as well. I hope you enjoy reading about these movies as much as we love talking about them!
Seems like every day I wake up now, there are some new phoney rumors about Batman. After the recent departure of Ben Affleck as Batman, every day it is who is Batman? What will be the new Batman? Who will direct the new Batman? Batman Batman Batman. The real question is who freaking cares?
Affleck’s departure was somber, and I don’t want to kick a guy when he was down. He had problems, and needed to take care of those, but to be honest, I was never too crazy about Batfleck to begin with. I mean the internet roasted his announcement as the caped crusader, and rather than give him his own movie, the ding bats at Warner Bros decided to make one superhero film into a franchise. It is the cinematic equivalent of trying to mail an elephant in one business envelope. It is also the most boring thing I have ever seen. I mean boring. Batman fighting Superman should have NEVER been even associated with the word boring. Yet I swear, it took me 3 attempts to watch, because I literally kept passing out half way through the damn thing. It is an absolute slog to get through. A lot was riding on this movie, and Warner Brothers were just certain that there was no way this movie could fail. So they also decided to set up a high school year book’s worth of characters that we are supposed to somehow care about, even if they show up as a .gif file on Wonder Woman’s computer.
Ben probably should have got his own movie, but many comic bookians will still white knight the dark knight anyways. Some even think he was the best Batman ever. I disagree. For one, I hated his costume. Seriously HATED that costume. It looked like somebody stole Adam West’s TV costume and sprayed it with about 300 lbs of magic shell ice cream topping. The voice, made sense, the Batcave was kind of cool, but yeah Batfleck just didn’t impress me much. I DID however like Alfred played by Jeremy Irons, but he was probably wondering what happened to his career by winding up in a boring comic book movie, where the best we will get from Irons is feeding exposition to Batfleck. But enough of about that farse of a movie. Let’s talk about how we got to this point.
Batman was a famous Detective Comics strip written by Bob Kane. I don’t collect a lot of comics, but I did have sort of a Best of Batman book, and those earlier comics were pretty great to say the least. There was a black and white set of serials. There was the famous, or infamous TV series from the 60s starting Adam West, and Burt Ward, depending how you look at it. Then there was Tim Burton. When Tim Burton was still making cool edgy movies, he took on a famous franchise and made it in his dark and sinister style with just a dash of tongue in cheek humor that worked well enough. Michael Keaton proved us all idiots by showing us that Mr. Mom could look cool wearing a cape and cowl. Then you had Jack Nicholson being Jack Nicholson, while doing one of the best cosplay performances you will ever see. Then there was Batman Returns, which while I liked it at the time…well let’s just say it’s pretty fucking weird.
After they through Tim Burton out of the lot for not selling enough toys, Joel Schumacher literally turned the Batman franchise into the ice capades, and super hero movies were doomed to rot in hell for what seemed like an eternity. For nerds, just a few years shy of ten may as well be a millenia. Then Christopher Nolan showed up, and took a stab at the franchise, by rebooting it as a cerebral thriller that could realize all of the characters as gritty and realistic as possible. Say what you want, dude saved the franchise, and Christian Bale has been the only Batman that managed to star in more than two movies. (Batfleck in Suicide Squad doesn’t count, GTFO with that trash.
Then Zack Snyder, who most of us thought would be amazing, because deep down everyone loves The Watchman even if you publicly shit on it, because it WAS pretty faithful to the comics. What could go wrong? Man of Steel? Hey it had it’s moments, even if the third act gives me a headache. And then Batman V Superman. Warner Bros chose that title because it was cheaper than writing VERSUS or VS on a damn movie poster. Then they gave Snyder the unthinkable task of setting up an entire universe worth of shit in one two and a half hour movie. Oh and Batfleck? He somehow has to have another origin story….again. If you don’t know the origin story of Batman by now, please close this window, and leave this site.
Now, I have not been able to force myself to watch the director’s cut, because I just don’t hate myself enough. There are not enough drugs on the planet that could make me sit through that travisty again. Warner Bros tinkering and dickering would continue with Justice League, which SHOULD have had the same impact as The Avengers, but it was another hack job. Different directors due to the sad departure of Zack Snyder, and something about a CG mouth that makes Henry Cavil look more like an episode of Clutch Cargo, than the man of steel. Seriously, why didn’t they just let him keep the damn mustache? Would anyone have complained that much?
I get into these arguments among the nerd circles I frequent quite often. My complaint, is that they make Batman silly, then make him Dark, then silly again, then gritty and realistic. Why would you try to steer away from the Nolan classics, by having Batfleck fight winged demons, and trollish abominations? Every fight seen looks like a Megadeth video. It hurts my eyes, and it kills my spirits. So what do we want to do? Reboot this again? Seriously? Yes Matt Miller, who I genuinely like, because he did an incredible job making three wonderful Planet of the Apes movies that don’t suck. But just please don’t give me another Batman origin again? Please?
So that brings us to where we are today. Who will play the damn Batman. Every site I read, every day. I see a name, a face, and a cowl lined up next to it. I know this is the shill media fishing for a face. None of them excite me. Seriously, they just don’t! Batman has been played by more people than the entire James Bond Franchise in less movie. My Batman is Bale, because that was the one damn Batman that I believed in! Oh and yes, I believed in Harvey Dent Too! Dammit!
You want to know MY BATMAN MOVIE? Simple. It is a comedy. Written by me, and directed by famous Shillionaire, Kevin Smith. And even though Smith is the Lord of the Shills, especially with DC, I still respect the guy, and he’s about my age, and get’s humor from the 90s. My Batman movie is a comedy that takes place in a convention center. It is a big Batman celebration where anyone who has ever played Batman in a TV show, or a movie that is still alive has been paid tons of money to show up at this convention. The thing is, all these actors have played different versions of the damn Batman in different times, and different eras. Some are gritty and dark, some are dark humor, some are campy and cartoonish. All of these dudes hate each other, and throw shade at each other constantly because each one of these idiots thinks they are THE BATMAN, and anyone before or after their performance is inferior. Then something bad happens, and the convention is taken over by terrorists. All of these idiots trapped in the waiting room have to decide if they want to continue arguing about costumes and motivations, or somehow work together and use they’re not so bat skills to get out of this situation alive. Sounds kind of like Galaxy Quest, but honestly, I feel what Batman needs right now, is a long break, or at the very least a joke about how ridiculous this franchise has become at this point. Mat Miller wants to call his movie THE Batman, but I am naming my bat comedy:
Have you ever stopped and wondered what your friends think about you? What
you don’t like the same video games, and anime that they like? What if they
don’t like the same things you like? Do you say anything? Do you go about your
merry way and continue? I mean you all seem to basically like all the same
stuff, and when you ride in the car everything is great, and everything is
awesome right? So one day they keep talking about that one thing you can’t
stand, and you can’t stand that thing to the point where it might even keep you
up at nights. Finally you mention that you are not all that crazy about that
one anime, or video game, movie or TV show. There is an awkward silence. Then
one your friends ask you why you don’t like that thing. The other friends join
in, and then they sort of put you on trial. The inquisition may last for hours,
or maybe even days. Eventually, you all mutually agree to let it go. Until the
next anime, TV show, movie, or video game comes up, and one your friends says
“well, I love Gundam Wing, but you probably hate it, and will just shit
all over it.” Maybe you do love that thing, maybe you don’t. Based on your
online response time, you have now gone from being one of the gang, to being a
hater. If you feel the need to defend yourself on social media, than you are
definitely a hater!
Eventually, your friends stop inviting you to parties. They start making excuses for not coming over for dinner. Maybe they even stop returning your phone calls. Do you REALLY hate this movie? Maybe you watch it again, and you still can’t stand it. Which is the lesser of two evils? Do you lie about a thing you hate just to keep your friends? Maybe you are the one guy in the group who can’t see the sailboat in the magic puzzle. Yes, that was a Mallrats reference.
Maybe you leave a bad review on a review aggregate. Maybe you start a blog. Eventually you find some other people that also don’t like that movie. Congratulations for forming your own opinions, but now you are a troll. That’s it. It’s that simple. Don’t like a thing? You are a troll.
A giant company like Disney could never make a bad movie. They spent the money, and everyone showed up to work. Eventually production wrapped, the special effects are completed, and it’s released on the silver screen. It is perfect, simply because it exists.
Your parents maybe have grown up in a generation where the customer was
always right. Now you live a world where you should buy a product because the
manufacturer says it’s good for you. Any resistance to said product is
considered trollish behavior.
The manufacturers of these inferior products were most likely raised in a bubble. They were given participation awards. They were never challenged, so they have to invent a struggle to champion. Any challenge or question about the struggle they fight, or any negative criticism is trolling.
Manufacturers can now blame a mythical race of beings known as trolls for
any negative criticism of any product what so ever. There is a series of built
in pre programmed responses for every single product that can be criticized.
Didn’t like the script? One of the actors was black; you must be a racist
troll. Didn’t like the story, or the writing? The movie written, and directed
by a woman, and stars a woman, so now you are a misogynist troll. Don’t want to
see the movie because you don’t like the actor? Want to tell other people why?
You are a troll! Don’t want to see a movie because Disney has decided that
seeing a movie based on a comic book is now a historic bookmark in history,
even if it did something that has already been done a few years earlier? You
are a troll.
The manufacturers of industry and the internet have collectively named the
enemy of the pop culture war as trolls. You never actually see them, but
according to the shill media, they are apparently everywhere, waiting to rob
you of virtue. The war on trolls has gotten so far out of hand, that regressive
left extremists have gone so far as to actually suggest, that the government of
all people are needed to combat the trolls.
The internet have already started, by removing key aggregate features, as well as most negative reviews under the guise of combating alleged trolls. 50,000 reviews were mysteriously composed by 50,000 mythical trolls. And then they celebrate censorship as if it is some sort of victory. As if freedom of speech was never worth fighting for. The same people that say if you complain about the president online you are a troll, and if you defend the president, your still a troll, but they give you a special red hat. And of you are a troll, you may as well where that red hat anyways.
What really gets under my skin however is when these troll bashing
extremists infiltrate a franchise they know nothing about. Rearrange the DNA of
said franchise, and replace entertaining stories with woke political ideology.
As if replacing great stories with identity politics is good for those who
didn’t care about in the first place, but the manufacturers of this woke
ideology have decided that this is better than stories because they think
changing a thing into something completely different is somehow supposed to be
progressive. Then when fans that have been around for years show any resistance
to this change, they are a special kind of troll organization referred to as
These extreme troll hunters are not capable of creating their own thing
ever, so they climb a hill that has already been built on the backs of these so
called toxic fandom’s, and brag about this achievement. All who resist must
definitely be trolls. Imagine if s rich vegan bought a popular fast food burger
chain. This vegan person is convinced that his or her lifestyle is healthy, and
decides to replace all of the hamburgers with kale. Vegans don’t go to this
franchise, because they already have their own favorite places. Burger lovers
stop showing up because they are not interested in the vegan lifestyle. Now the
franchise is hemorrhaging money. Do they blame the burger lovers for not
wanting to eat healthy? No they blame toxic fandoms of trolls for not wanting
to convert to veganism.
Everyday there is a new hit piece on how an old holiday classic or beloved
children’s’s cartoon has been deemed problematic, because it was written years
ago in a less hypersensitive society than this one.
Even more offensive, is that I recently read an article defending Captain
Marvel’s mediocre reviews as a form of progressiveness. In this feminist
article, she blames society for having unrealistic standards for a female lead
franchise. And no mention whatsoever that Disney built up Captain Marvel as the
single most important thing that ever happened in human history. Unrealistic
expectations indeed! As if having a female lead in a super hero movie is enough
to award a full five star rating. And many shill media did exactly that, for
fear of being looked at funny by their friends. Fear of not being invited back
to their parties. Fear of not being called back. Fear of being labeled a troll.
If you happen to be one of the unfortunate ones who were mysteriously
labeled as a troll over night, there is no need to panic. Trolls can have
friends. Trolls even have feelings too. We get sad when we watch our favorite
characters get killed off, so they can make room for characters that feel like
Poochie from The Simpson’s TV Show. We
can go to our own parties. We can complain about a movie, because we are smart
enough to know that no matter how hard you try, burying your art behind
politics does not make it critic proof. And even though all our escapist entertainment
has been replaced with political ideology, we still have about a century’s
worth of movies, and TV shows that were written and made during times when
customer satisfaction was more important than some actress in a movie that
likes to use her award acceptance speech to break down the ratio of white male
My best advice is stop consuming this woke entertainment. Cut the cord. Stay
home; buy a big TV, and lots of Blu-rays. Because once they’ve finished
re-coding the DNA of all of pop culture, they will begin to re-write history to
fit this narrative, and none of your favorite entertainment is safe from this
crap. Everything will be censored and rewritten until everything is safe, and
bland, and boring. Or maybe this silly trend will eventually end, and we can
laugh about it.
Of course I would warn all of you about this stuff, but I will eventually be
censored for having an opinion. After all, I am a troll.
It has been over a full year since The Last Jedi came out, and unfortunately for everyone, the dust has not settled, and the wounds of fans around the world have not yet healed. There are fans of this film, but there is not enough excitement around the next chapter of this new trilogy from anyone, which is curious.
As I said in my editorial 2018, THE YEAR THAT POP CULTURE DIED, I mentioned that at first I was very blaze about my feelings towards the film, but that I had experienced some things, that I never felt in a Star Wars film before, confusion, boredom, and frustration. After a full year of arguing with people about what works and doesn’t work about The Last Jedi, I really don’t want to write ten paragraphs about plot holes, and failed set ups and pay offs. Also, this film has been on Netflix forever and if you haven’t seen it by now, you are probably not even interested, but just know that going forward with this review without spoilers is impossible so you have been warned.
In spite of what you feel about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it was a commercial success, that generated a lot of fan buzz and theories. It ended on a cliff hanger, that actually took place on a cliff, which I have to admit even now, is kind of Meta and a nice touch. Strangely, the next chapter in this new trilogy of films was handed to a man with some shorts, some TV episodes and 3 mediocre reviewed films under his belt. Rian Johnson may or may not be a fan and I refuse to question his fandom, because it annoys me to the ends of Earth when I have to explain that I spent most of my natural life worshiping something that made me happy as a kid. I won’t do it. The thing here though, is that Johnson is very much a part of social media, and followed closely the fan theories. He even made a point to poke fun at the fans, by posting up a picture on social media of him holding up a sign that said “your Snoke theories suck”. Regardless, he had a daunting task of building the middle act of the trilogy, and further developing the new characters established in the previous entry.
Now since it is so late, and several articles and reviews have been written on The Last Jedi, what can I possibly say that you have not read already? You may predict that I am going to spend the next several paragraphs shitting on a Star Wars film. Well maybe I will write something original, and subvert your expectations! Well that is what Rian Johnson did.
I hope I am the only one that is going to use a food term to describe an aspect of Star Wars, but stay with me here. Why would I do this? I like to cook, and I plan to become a chef someday. This brings me to my term “deconstructed food”. Deconstructed food, is when you take a particular dish, break down the ingredients that make up the dish, and try to repurpose it as something new. This may work for foodies and chefs, when you take a perfectly good pizza and turn it into a low carb deconstructed pizza casserole. Essentially it IS technically pizza it has many of the same ingredients. It has tomatoes, sausage, mushrooms, even mozzarella cheese. It may even look like a pizza from a first glance. This deconstructed pizza has successfully subverted your expectations. A glass baking dish with pizza ingredients however, is not what you get in your car and drive to your favorite pizza place and order. You go to that pizza place, because they have put all of those ingredients in the order that you like it, on top of a hot crust of your choice, and cooked it at exactly the right temperature.
I believe that Rian Johnson took all the fan theories, and studied what makes Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back so popular, and began there. He probably wrote all of these things down in a notebook, and started from there. I believe his thought process probably went something like this:
“Let’s see, they like when the rebel base got attacked, so we will do that…we’ll have a big giant dreadnaught thingy. I know George used old WWII stock footage for his space battles, but he never used the bomber ones. I’ll do that. I will have like big space ship like B-17s dropping space bombs! You know, that General Hux guy really made me laugh, he reminds me of Col. Sanders from Spaceballs. Let’s have some witty banter between him and Poe Dameron! They like that space chase where the Millennium Falcon is trying to outrun the Imperial Fleet…we have to do that—wait…shit! The Falcon is on Ahch-To with Rey! Fuck! Well, we’ll just have the fleet run down the rest of the rebels until they run out of gas, and that will be the entire middle chunk of the movie. It will be like basically the same thing. They like Yoda, so we’ll bring him back as like a ghost. They like those big walking thingies, so we’ll make bigger walking thingies again, but we will put them on a white planet, that is covered with SALT, because the fans think it will be snow! Let’s see, they like the Cloud City bit, why don’t we do a space casino! Let’s do that throne room scene….wait was that in Empire? Doesn’t matter, let’s do that anyways. They introduced a new hero…Lando, I will introduce Rose Tico! I’ll even have her fall in love with Fin, and then Rey will start having feelings for Kylo! Let’s see… Luke and Vader were kind of sensing each other across the stars at the end of Empire, so we will kind of do that… What other magic Force powers can I come up with? How about have Leia fly through space like Mary Poppins? That will be funny I wonder if anyone will get that reference? We will have to do something cool with Luke…hmmm. Maybe he’ll just astral project himself in front of all those walky things! I can even make him younger! Disney wants me to do some kind of tie in for Solo…so I will throw the dice in there someplace. This is a darker story, so I will put a LOT of jokes in it to make it easier. Also, have a bigger audience now than I ever had in my entire life. I need to get some messages out. Let’s see, something about animal abuse, I will have a racetrack near the casino and Fin and Rose will set them free. Also I want to get some kind of anti capitalism message out there. Might be kind of heavy handed, but it’s my movie, and there will be a lot of adults out there watching. Oh shit…forgot kids will be watching. What do I do? Oh man, they loved those Ewoks. How about I make some animals kind of like that, and just sprinkle them around the story. Let’s have some cute little things that looked kind of like a Ewok fucked a penguin and had a baby…we’ll call them Porgs! We can sell them like Furbies that will be the hottest new toy! We’ll even have them doing a bunch of funny shit with Chewy like they did in Empire Strikes Back. We’ll have a sea cow, and Luke will milk it…that will be hilarious! Ya know this Luke Skywalker thing is getting old. In fact he’s getting old, and making it hard to write around him. How about we have him sacrifice himself for everybody else like Ben Kenobi? Nobody bitched about that. I got some ideas how to make that work. And I will do it at the very end so it’s not too upsetting. Ok now for some shit I WANT to do. I think it would be badass, if we had a ship jump to lightspeed right through the center of a group of spaceships. It will be an awesome looking effect too! Let’s see…fans expectations…they think Rey is this or that…how about she’s just nothing, a random nobody, and Kylo tells her that. They got like 50 million Snoke theories…what if we just fucking kill him and don’t tell anyone? HAHAHA. Also, I want Kylo to say some shit to Rey about letting go of the past, because I am so sick of these fans that idolize Star Wars. What if Luke almost did something bad? Maybe he’s been hiding out because he feels like a failure? I’ll have Rey set him straight. Let’s see did I forget anything important? Nah. We’ll have the ending be Rey saves the day, and a smaller group of rebels sail off into the stars like Empire. One more thing….this might be the last Star Wars movie I ever do, so I will have something really fucking Meta at the end, where kids are playing with Star Wars Figures in the Star Wars Universe, and looking up into the stars. That will be cool! I bet Kathleen will love it! I got all of the elements here, but it will be like my own thing.”
Is it hard to believe what happened here? This is a fictitious account of what probably went down. See what I believe is Rian Johnson wanted to impress his friends and filmmakers, and subvert expectations by making a “deconstructed Star Wars” we have spaceships, laser swords, and magic and from a distance it does look and sound like Star Wars. What it really is however is one man wanting to make his own movie by deconstructing the elements that made the franchise popular, and building his own thing. As I said before with my pizza reference, people don’t go to pizzerias to eat low carb deconstructed pizza casserole. See back when The Empire Strikes back, came out, George Lucas was still very much part of the story making process. It was his script, but he brought in another director, and had help making the final product. With the Last Jedi, the only chief in charge is a film producer who does not write scripts, or direct films. She is somebody that puts people in places to get the job done. Sadly though, she has no passion for the source material, and that is why you get this deconstructed mess of a film. It is a common trend I see these days, were we keep bringing in young film makers to try and give us fresh takes on something that has already been established and entertain people for years. Sometimes it works. You take a film like Creed for example. You respect what makes the Rocky franchise work, but you build a foundation of new characters, on that old premise, and you respect the source material. Creed feels very much like a Rocky movie, but it is also something different. Blade Runner 2047 is another example of something written by a younger director that respects the source material so much, that he goes through pain staking detail to make sure that his characters and motivations feel like they belong in the same universe, while respecting the source material. I believe that very little thought was put into The Last Jedi, I feel like it was just a committee chasing trends, and decided that deconstructing a franchise would not matter at all since the last two movies made so much filthy gobs of money. The thought they could take risks, they didn’t take into consideration the ramifications of what these risks would bring. What we ended up with, is a movie that was written by someone inexperienced, for all of the wrong reasons.
The Last Jedi failed to resolve any of the cliffhangers set forth by the first movie, and also failed to leave us with any hint of what was to come. At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke had learned that his worst enemy was his father, and Lando and Chewie had already made plans to go rescue Han Solo from the clutches of Boba Fett. The Last Jedi leaves you with absolutely no questions, or reasons to come back and see the finale. It did nothing to further develop the characters set up by the first franchise. The only thing it managed to do was deconstruct the universe by separating the parts that made it work, and then reassembling them on a plate and calling it art work. The Last Jedi is in fact the foodie’s version of Star Wars. It’s the Star Wars equivalent of that Low Carb Pizza Casserole. It is not made for the original fans of Pizza, or Star Wars. It is not assembled in an order of what makes something work, or good. In the first Star Wars movie, it was the combination of music, visual aesthetics, and strong characters with clear motivations that made the whole thing work. It was further developed in the second movie with a proper cliff hanger, and it was paid off in the final installment, where everything came together cooked just the way we like it. For foodies, The Last Jedi may work, but for people that went out to see a Star Wars movie, it left the massive fan base divided right down the middle. One of the biggest arguments I read about constantly, is that Star Wars is a kid’s movie about Space Wizards, and that we are picking apart this movie from the perspective of adults. A group of movies that taught us about good, evil, love, death, betrayal, hard work, sacrifice, learning to overcome insurmountable odds through faith and wisdom? I understood these things even as a child when I first watched these movies.
Roger Ebert once used the term “mean spirited” in reference to Predator 2. I have thought long and hard about that term. Unlike The Last Jedi, I left Predator 2 absolutely entertained and satisfied. I left the Last Jedi, bored, annoyed, and confused. I believe Rian Johnson only sees Star Wars from a visual perspective, I find it very difficult to believe that he does not understand its cultural significance or the importance of the characters on pop culture nor does he care. He wanted to make his own movie using the assets he liked in Star Wars, but not make a proper Star Wars movie. The Last Jedi is a mean spirited sequel that celebrates 50 years of pop culture by ignoring the fans, the previous films, failing to set up future films, tells you not to question authority, not to believe in religion, capitalism is bad, animal abuse is bad, trust no one, love is better than war, sacrifice is meaningless unless you are old, and that sometimes you are just born with The Force, you don’t necessarily have to earn anything at all. This is a kid’s movie? My ass! 1 out of 5 cheese curds only for Mark Hamill trying to do his best with this deconstructed script.
On January 15th, it was announced all over social media that Ghostbusters 3 was getting a reboot. Not long after, a teaser trailer was released. Access journalists were quick to report that Sony has been well into the development cycle of Ghostbusters 3, which will abandon all of the characters in the 2016 reboot, and continue with the original characters from the first two movies. The movie will be directed by Jason Reitman, son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman.
Not long after this article hit the web, old wounds that were just beginning to heal started opening up, revealing that the grudges on both sides of this movie’s political narrative are still very real. Leslie Jones, first fired off on twitter how disrespectful it is to ignore the reboot cast in favor of an all male cast, even blaming Donald Trump, even the original movie happened to have an all male cast to begin with. 2016 director Paul Feig has said some similar things as well. Not long after, access journalists in favor of politics over entertainment have taken to the web, and are now blaming fans….AGAIN for this movie that has ultimately been in development Hell since the 90s. It is very clear that Jones, Feig, and the rest of the world never left 2016, and still fail to realize that you can’t use politics to defect criticism. I will even argue that it is the fact that this basic comedy was used as a symbol for social political arguments from everyone up to and including our presidential candidates is one of the chief reasons that this movie tanked so badly at the box office.
I have a very different opinion on the matter. I actually believe that Sony STILL thinks they can milk some money out of this franchise, but I don’t personally believe that this movie is as far along in development as they would like you to believe. I think they are using these media outlets to see if there is any marketability in this franchise post 2016. A lot of business men lost a lot of return on this property that they were convinced would be a huge success. They are trying to get back any of that money they can. I also believe, that people in favor of the 2016 symbol—I mean movie, are fully aware of just how tired people are of hearing about Ghostbusters, and are wasting no time to fire back on fans, and start up a debate that started in 2016, and never finished. They are floating these articles around to get people stirred up about this damn movie again, hoping they can generate enough negative press to halt production on the film. I find it hard to believe that there is much more than a storyboard, and maybe some post it notes, considering the cast is not even solidified at the time of this writing.
What is my stance on all of this? I wish the politics of male vs. female cast would just stop already. I was not personally offended by the casting choice. I anticipated this to be a very funny movie. What I DIDN’T anticipate, was simply taking an existing property, advertising that it is a soft reboot, but then revealing that it was a complete reboot, with a gender swapped cast, that was ultimately not very well written, not that funny, and kind of insulting to fans. Then like many franchises now, audiences are told that if you don’t support this mediocre comedy, you are a bad person. This kind of ideology is ludicrous, and it’s being ported into every single piece of entertainment. Plain and simple people don’t like being told what they are supposed to like. People need to be won over by old fashioned things like character development, pacing, plots, old fashioned writing. Actual structured jokes, rather than on camera ad lib humor. When you take an existing property, and bring it back out of moth balls, you need to respect the original source material. I don’t think the fans appreciated seeing the guy that played Peter Venkman, one of the original cast members hurled out of a window just so Leslie Jones can make a joke out of it. I think that is a pretty fair assessment. If you want to reboot all of these old franchises nobody is going to stop it, but there ARE ways in which you can do this and win over new and both audiences. You have your old characters return, but you adapt those characters’ personalities to fit a modern setting. You make the new characters the focus of your story, but you have the old characters to bring wisdom and experience to the story. Just go watch the Creed movies or Cobra Kai…you don’t see old fans scoffing about those, and politics doesn’t have shit to do with it either.
In my opinion, they should just leave it in the garage. This news of Ghostbusters 3 doesn’t excite me much. I mean I like Ghostbusters 2, but a lot of people didn’t which is why a third film never happened in the first place. Ghostbusters 2016, or Answer the Call…or whatever the fuck you call it, is both a political and financial disaster. I could see maybe making a new animated film or even a TV series similar to Cobra Kai. Making a third movie however, is not just beating a dead horse, it is hooking electrodes up to it’s neck, trying to channel a single bolt of lightning yelling “GIVE MY CREATION LIFE!!!”
Why do I collect antiquated media formats, aka why do I buy Trash?
My friends call me a hipster. Technically they aren’t wrong, but I would be lying if I said that I accepted and honored the title with no bitterness. The truth of the matter is that hipsters would be quite jealous of the communities that I frequent. While I still remain reasonably closer to the outer rims, friends of mine, accounts that I follow, folks that I interact with might as well still live in the 80’s and 90’s. Accounts like @theWallofVhs and @TheBetamaxRundown and @VCRofDeath (instagram) that post daily doses of old school b-horror and action and cult classic vhs films that a great many of us would often see on a weekend trip to Blockbuster Video. I live in the forgotten times. Typically you can find VHS tapes if not in a “FREE: TAKE MY JUNK!!” pile, certainly for bargain basement listings. I usually pick mine up at my local record shops and haunts for around .25 cents a piece, maybe a bit more if it’s a complete collection (like the rad 007 James Bond collection that I foolishly passed up not too long ago.) But aside from the nostalgia I am frequently asked the fateful question, “Why do you collect junk?” When there are many higher quality formats available currently (I actually don’t even own a blu-ray player, though it’s been on my To-Get list for a bit now) why would I willingly spend money of any amount on these practically forgotten relics of an age and era forgotten? The simple answer is Aesthetics. The compound answer is culture and community. When I am viewing a film such as personal favorite, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre (or any of it’s first four sequel films) there is some added quality to viewing it on VHS. The grainy picture quality. The occasional lines through the picture and warble of aged tape. The hype advertisement and graphics on the box. All of it add to the overall viewing experience. With a film of that nature, of that subject matter, I don’t want a clean and sterile viewing experience, I want dirt and grit, akin to the shit covering the floor of the slaughterhouse that Leatherface calls home. I want to feel like I’m there with Sally and Franklin. This type of aesthetic can be seen as an enhancement if that makes any logical sense…and the concept can be applied to many different films and genres, from sci-fi masterpieces like Blade Runner and Dune to action cult classics like the Die Hard Trilogy, to experimental films such as Eraserhead, Videodrome, and even Dr. Strangelove. Think of it as a viewing party, evening if it’s a party of one (you sad, friendless, VHS loving, hipster sap…) In addition to the aesthetics of VHS and the like there is an amazing and budding underground culture and community for the preservation and appreciation of these films and media. We just finished this year’s round of #VHSeptember, a month long movie-a-day marathon where enthusiasts follow a category listing and post a film (or a few in many cases) that they feel align with the given tagline of the day. Themes like, “Third time’s a charm” (post a film that is the third installment of a series. Mine was Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.) or “New York Shitty” (post a film showcasing New York filth and grit. My offering was the Scorsese classic, Taxi Driver.) The last day, September 30th, the theme was “Shelf Love”, a theme dedicated to the shelves housing our collections and the trinkets and collectables that we adorn them with. A recent acquisition of mine was a Pennywise the Dancing Clown figurine with four changeable heads and accessories (the original mini-series, none of that new IT crap that’s going around.) Pennywise is far from the only collectable that I have. My fiancé constantly harps on me for all of the crap lining my shelves actually, she says that we don’t have enough room as it is. She’s right. My crap isn’t going anywhere though, and I’m not going to stop collecting it. I can’t. So at it’s core, what drives this apparent compulsion, this obsession to collect, enjoy, and preserve what is effectively a dead era and art? Maybe it’s ultimately nothing. Maybe it’s a deep seeded nostalgia, a longing for a better, more innocent and simpler time. Maybe it’s an expression of my concept of art. Maybe it’s an amalgam of all of those answers and more (yeah, it’s that one.). Whatever the case, I can confidently and joyfully say that VHS and the culture and community surrounding it might be on a social back burner but I guarantee that it’s not dead and it certainly isn’t going anywhere. Be sure to tune in next time when I rant incessantly about why I collect Vinyl and Cassette Tapes, probably a two piece installment in my “I swear I’m not a hipster” series. Blotter loves you and please feel free to see the world through my eyes and follow me on Instagram at @blotter_blotter . Love, Peace, and Bats!!
*p.s. Mike Wilcox our new staffer is in no way related to Adam Wilcox, the names are simply a coincidence.
To explain the workings of H.P. Lovecraft’s philosophy of cosmic horror is no easy task, but I will do my best as it is pertinent to our revisited review. What I will do is blend the official Google definition with what it means to me. See I am a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and John Carpenter, and nobody understands Lovecraft better than John Carpenter.
Cosmic horror deals with the very idea that humanity is the most insignificant thing in the entire universe. There are threats and horrors that are older than humanity itself, and are sometimes scarier than human comprehension. It is the philosophy that religion itself was created as a means to explain the unknown. God and Satan do not exist, but rather a manifestation for the existence of the supernatural. The things that go bump in the night, have done so for years, and are doing so for a reason beyond your logical comprehension. Still with me, clear as mud? Good! This is part of the experience of cosmic horror. That maybe many of the lessons you been taught your whole life, are simply not true, and something older and more menacing is at work below the surface of your perceived reality. Recent Lovecraft concepts are present in Ridley Scott’s Alien movie, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser series, and Stephen King’s. H.P. Lovecraft published most of his short stories in pulp magazines and died penniless. His posthumous fame would come to have a huge influence in our current pop culture in the science fiction horror genres. John Carpenter is one of those who have shared similar ups and downs with many of his films being initial box office failures only to develop into cult classics many years later. These three films that Carpenter himself considers his “Apocalypse Trilogy” are related only that all deal with potential world ending threats, and a very similar relation to the cosmic horror philosophies of H.P. Lovecraft.
In 1982, John Carpenter released a remake of one of his favorite films “The Thing From Another World” released in 1951. The original involved an artic research film that finds a flying saucer buried in a glacier. When they find the pilot, they bring him back to the base camp, where he is accidentally thawed out and goes on a murderous rampage. The remake is still loosely based on the original movie, but with a twist based on a short story novella “Who Goes There” written by John W. Campbell Jr. in which the alien can copy any life form, and completely destroy the original. The movie opens with a helicopter chasing a dog, and a man is perched outside with a high powered rifle shooting at the dog. As the dog seeks shelter in the camp of our cast, we learn that the assailant is Norwegian, and he is not only trying to shoot the dog, but he brought a cache of explosives to make sure he doesn’t miss. After a series of unfortunate events occur, the helicopter, and its crew are destroyed. The dog remains unscratched. We learn very early on, that the dog is not what it seems. As some of the crew decided to investigate the base where the Norwegian helicopter came from, all they find is bodies that have been burned, dismembered, or frozen solid. They also figure out what they initially found, was a saucer buried in the ice, and a large empty cube where it looks like something may have been thawed out. Once the dog has been put into the pen with the other dogs, we see the thing attack the other animals and it starts changing shape. Carpenter had told young the budding young special effects artist Rob Bottin, to go absolutely crazy with the creature effects, and to this date, this is some of the absolute best practical effects I have seen in any film ever. When the creature morphs, bones break, multiple appendages sprout out of anywhere, it is terrifying, disturbing, and beautiful all at the same time. The rest of this film deals with isolation, paranoia, and panic, as the crew of the research station realize that they are the last link between the alien threat, and the rest of the civilized world. The absolute best suspense is when they decide to do a blood test to see if a crew member is in fact the alien. The test involves heating up a hot cable wire with a blow torch and shoving it into a Petri dish of blood drawn from each crew member to see if there is some sort of defensive reaction. I have seen this movie millions of times, and I jump every sing time I see this. This is in fact the most terrifying movie I have ever seen. I firs saw it when I was about 12 or 13. I watched it in the broad daylight, in the middle of summer, and scenes from this movie gave me the chills so bad, that I could not get them out of my head for years. In my opinion, a good horror movie is one that you can not only forget, but one that you may have regretted seeing in the first place. Like most John Carpenter films, this one leaves an ambiguous ending that might piss some people off, but for the most part, this is considered a timeless classic. I like the fact, that you never truly see what this creature looks like. You only see it through various stages of morphing into other beings. The fact that this creature can perfectly copy anything else leads to the chilling suspense of fighting an enemy that you can neither see, nor truly understand. This film was panned by critics, and bombed at the box office. And yet, now it is considered a masterpiece.
Prince of Darkness
With a name like Prince of Darkness, and rock star Alice Cooper’s face prominently featured on the posters and video boxes for this film, I always casually dismissed this one as one of the more shlocky entries into the Carpenter catalog. After all, there is 1966 Christopher Lee movie called “Dracula, Prince of Darkness”, and it also happens to be Ozzy Osborne’s nick name. Even though the name of the movie makes perfect sense within the context of this film, I don’t think the title does this any justice. For the longest time, I thought I had watched this film, but I realize recently that I have never seen this movie before, which kind of plays on the Mandela effect concept, and makes it even creepier for me. This might actually be one of the scariest films I have ever seen for many reasons.
Carefully preserved in the basement of a very old church in an urban neighborhood, a large glass container containing green liquid is making homeless people wander around the church in a zombie like dream state. Donald Pleasance had enlisted the help of a team of student scientists to analyze the container, and determine the origin. The theory is that the contents of the container is essence of Satan, and that Satan himself is actually the son of a more powerful Anti-God, and Jesus was an Alien sent to warn us of impeding doom. All of this of course was hidden from the Vatican, and only certain priests were entrusted with such information and passed it down from generation to generation. Once Satan has manifested itself in human form, it may use mirrors to pull the Anti-God into our realm and kick start the end times. During the process of events, certain members of the research team are systematically possessed. For those that are not yet possessed a recurring dream is shared by every member that has come in contact of the church. The message comes off like a bad video transmission that sounds like this “we are sending this transmission from the year 1-9-9….the message shows the exterior of the church and eventually zooms in on a dark figure in the window…then abruptly ends. The longer these people stay alive, the longer the message gets each time. The idea is that whatever these people did in the church, caused the end of the world, and the message is designed as a warning to save humanity. This movie deals with such wild concepts, that I had to actually look some of these things, up and dig up more details. According to Carpenter, these concepts were merely done for dramatic effect. But when you are dealing with blending science, religion, and Lovecraft concepts of cosmic horror…you realize that this is just very good writing. Carpenter’s best work, is when he makes something that is very non descript look terrifying by just holding a shot for a second longer than you expected. Similar to the way you see Michael Myers staring at people behind a pile of sheets, and it’s creepy. This one deals with multiple homeless people staring, and Alice Cooper staring. Holy shit! John Carpenter is the master of making people look scary by having them staring. This movie staring, the motion picture! It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and I been losing sleep over this one. It’s a movie that truly deserves a look, one of the scariest movies he’s made to date. You need to check this one out! As you may have guessed, this one was also panned by critics in 1987. It didn’t loose as much money as The Thing did, but it was one of the lower grossing Carpenter films in his catalog. Go figure.
In The Mouth of Madness
While most of the for mentioned movies were allegorical in mentioning H.P. Lovecraft, In The Mouth of Madness goes all in, right down to the title. In The Mouth of Madness is a play on Lovecraft’s story “At the Mountains of Madness”. In this movie Sam Neil plays an insurance fraud investigator that is sent to find the whereabouts of a popular missing horror Novelist that is not too dissimilar from Stephen King. As the skeptical Neil investigates this novelist, he discovers that the covers of his books lead to a map to a fictional town in New Hampshire called “Hobb’s End”. As he eventually finds the town, things get really weird. The film implies that the novelist never wrote any stories, and that all of what was published was reality. Without giving too much more away, this film deals with the difference between sanity, and reality. What if you realized that you were only a character in a book, and what if the book was literally driving people to the brink of insanity itself? The movie reverences several Lovecraft images and callbacks. And Sam Neil really carries this movie all by himself. There are some decent special affects, but like the previous two movies, this is one of those psychological horrors designed to get you to think about stuff. As you might have guessed, this movie also has mixed results, and underperformed at the box office, and yet has a huge cult following. It is a masterpiece. Are you starting to notice a pattern? Lovecraft horror is not a popular pop culture phenomenon. After all these years, it is still too radical and scary for comprehend. Lovecraft horror has been covered extensively since these movies were released, but I still feel like Carpenter REALLY got the whole cosmic horror thing.
There are several collectors’ versions of these available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and while I wish they were sold and boxed as a set, they can still be enjoyed to this day individually. Any horror fan should have these in their collection, or at least seen these once or twice. Looking back, I feel like these were some of Carpenter’s best works, but that is just one Cyborg’s opinion. If your looking for something to care you to the point of being disturbed for long term. Look no further.