Category: Editorials

Editorial: Batman Villains I’d Like To See On The Screen

by Arnór Hermannsson Wikström

Hey! We’re all nerds here at Raiders, and nerds have opinions on Batman. Sometimes those opinions differ. That’s okay. But when it comes to the Caped Crusader I’m always right! I have hundreds of Batman figures in a glass cabinet in my living room, I have a rough meter of Batman DVDs in my shelf, I have two Batman tattoos (yeah, one of them is Heath Ledger as the Joker, but I’m still not mainstream, goddamnit!), I’m a big ol’ Batman nerd, is my point! I love Back To The Future, Star Wars and I quite like Hellboy, but Batman is my motherloving jam!

So, now that Robert Pattinson is gonna play Batman (I’m fine with that by the way, all aboard the R-Batz… I’m quite alone here at Raiders), who do I want him to kick in the teeth of?

If you’re anything like me, you love the Joker to bits, but you wouldn’t really miss him if he disappeared for a decade.

Believe me, my feelings on this are strong, and important damnit!

Here we go; the 5 villains I’d most want R-Batz to beat the shit outta:

  1. Mr Freeze
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Yeah, I know. Batman & Robin sucked and Arnold Schwarzenegger was terrible as Mr Freeze. The funny thing about that is that The Arnold would’ve actually been a perfect Freeze if he’d played him as he played one of the two title characters in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Hard, quiet and unfeeling, but with a growing heart on the inside.

Mr Freeze was already an established character by the nineties, but when Bruce Timm produced the Batman; The Animated Series double episode Heart Of Ice, he was re-established as one of the most endearing villains in the entire rouges gallery. Sadly, he was mauled to death in Schumacher’s toy commercial of a movie. But hey! Bane was also in that piece of shit, and he was freaking awesome in The Dark Knight Rises!

4. The Mad Monk

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The monk was one of Batman’s earliest enemies, but he hasn’t been a part of the rogues gallery since the forties. Originally he was a kind of cult leader, who pretended he was a vampire. In 2006, Batman comic writing wizard Matt Wagner reinvented the Monk as an actual vampire, but he doesn’t need to be supernatural to work.

He could easily be reinvented as a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who uses the dim-minded hicks who follow hi for his own hidden agendas.

But if they keep him as a vampire, R-Batz and the monk can sparkle each other to death… Damn, Twilight jokes are so old I wish someone would slap me to death for making one.

  1. The Phantasm/The Reaper
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The Phantasm is an amazing villain. Introduced in the animated movie  Batman: The Mask Of The Phantasm, the Phantasm is a mysterious and dark figure. A bringer of melodramatic death.
Yeah, I know! All us fans already know who the Phantasm is, and the secret identity thing was a big thing about the Phantasm. Well, screw you for also being a dumb nerd, you goddamn sunnova…, I’ll kick your… wait— sorry. Where was I?

The Phantasm! Yes! Outdated.

Funny thing! The Phantasm is based on the main villain in the Batman: Year Two comic book story line. In that story Gotham was haunted by a masked vigilante called The Reaper. In Year Two, The Reaper eventually turned out to be Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend’s dad, and in The Mask Of The Phantasm, Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend’s dad was actually a red herring, because it turned out that The Phantasm was actually Batman’s girlfriend and not her dad!!!!! So if you base the movie character on both those villains, you still have a nice little mystery to unfold.

  1. Clayface
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Officially, there have been a whole shitload of Clayfaces, but for a movie we could join all the best parts into one, to make an ultimate Clayface.

He could be an actor who wanted to be able to mould his face, but who ultimately made his entire physical being a malleable blob. He can turn into anyone he wants, but only for a limited time, and he can only maintain an erection for a second. But he can temporarily make his outer layer hard as rocks, and therefore make himself into mallets and axes, and he can also slurp through the sewers like a high tide. Batman’s gotta get new boots to step on this piece of trash.

  1. Two-Face
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Wait… what are you saying? Two-Face has already been the villain in two movies?
I know. Both versions were terrible. As much as I love both Batman Forever and The Dark Knight, both those films did Two-Face a great disservice.

In Batman Forever he has the Joker’s personality, and he is shown being able to ignore the outcome of his coin-toss, as he is seen, at one point, flipping the coin over and over until he gets a desired result, making that part of his personality completely unnecessary, so when Batman finally throws a bunch of coins into the air to confuse him, he should just as easily be able to shake that off since he clearly doesn’t need the coin.

In The Dark Knight, the character of Harvey Dent is written and played perfectly, Aaron Eckhardt is amazing in the role. He’s also great when he finally turns to Two-Face, although he looks like his burns should’ve left him at least mute and blind (how does a man lose his entire face on one side of the head without it impairing his eyesight and speech?).
But Two-Face is dead within twenty minutes, when he’s actually a major showrunner in the comics. His similarity to Batman makes him one of the most interesting villains in the entire comic canon. There must be a Two-Face who’s a main villain like Tommy Lee Jones, and as real as Aaron Eckhardt, and who can give Batman a seriously rough time..

Do you disagree with my list?

Write an email to idontcare@whogivesashit.questionmark

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The Guilty Pleasure of Bad Movies

by Reality’s Frank

There’s a guilty pleasure in watching bad movies. Think of the campiest, corniest, crappiest movie you ever saw. It was pretty bad, wasn’t it? And yet you might just sit down to watch it again some day, wouldn’t you? Sure you would. How else do you think the Toxic Avenger series got to be so popular?


I myself have a pretty fair assortment of bad movies: Captain America, The Guyver, Toxic Avenger (of course), at one time, I even owned a VERY bad live action Dragon Ball movie. Trust me, it sucked.


And what is it about these cinematic abominations that people find so entertaining? Beats me. But I do have one theory. As there can be no good without evil, there can also be no masterpieces without bombs.


Why just the other night, I sat down and watched the unreleased Fantastic Four movie. Wow. That’s all I can say, because if I think about it any more, my head might explode from how bad it was. And what about all the new movies that are so full of suck that you wish you paid more to see it so you wouldn’t feel like such an ass asking for your eight bucks back? Does Cloverfield ring any bells? Blair Witch? Sure.

Then on the other side of the coin are the really good movies that got no recognition and were passed off as crappy. I would direct your attention to exhibit…oh I dunno…I guess: Mystery Men, for one. And then of course there’s the shitty movies that a lot of people liked, and you have no idea why, movies like Charlie’s Angels, Blades of Glory, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

So I ask you now to share the last really, REALLY bad movie you saw and, be honest, how much you actually liked it. It’s okay, there’s no one else here but you and me. The lights are off, here’s the pop corn, I’ll put in Laser Hawk. What’s that? Yes it’s a Mark Hamil movie. It’s terrible, so I think you’ll like it. Press play.

Raiders of the Lost Flicks presents: April is Sword & Sorcery Month!

by Adam M. Wilcox

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…

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Yeah this is Arnold, as Conan, the one that supposedly started it all.

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!

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The Sword and the Sorcerer is one of my favorites, and will be my first review in this series!

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.

Deathstalker-II-1
Yeah women were unfortunately objectified badly in many of these, so some of those have not held up well. We will still be reviewing them.

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.

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That moment when Bridget Neilson tried to be Conan. You got to give her credit for at least trying.

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.

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Sometimes these older movies had some damn good-looking practical effects. And no, this is not E.T.’s alcoholic step dad either… This is Xusia, a sorcerer, played by Richard Moll from Night Court, in 1982’s The Sword And The The Sorcerer.

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!

I Am Batman!

by Adam M. Wilcox

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.

It says it won’t show me The Joker’s Facebook page until I install Flash Player. Holy fucking windows 10 Batman!

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?

This is how Ben Affleck’s costume for BvS was made.

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!

“Yes, can I get the deluxe, with large fries, large drink, and get the kid here a happy meal? “

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:

“I AM BATMAN!

YOU ARE A TROLL!

Your negative opinion makes you a troll!

by Adam M. Wilcox

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.

Scene from Mallrats (1995)

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.

Bow to the mouse.

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.

Brianna Wu tries to crawl back into the spotlight by calling for legislation for…negative reviews of a movie…

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 toxic fandom.

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 film critics.

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.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

by Adam M. Wilcox

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.


“You really think Rian Johnson knows how the Force works? Do you think he knows how Star Wars even works?”

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.

GHOSTBUSTERS 3: I AIN’T AFRAID OF NO POLITICS, I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE!

By Adam M. Wilcox

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!!!”

COLLECTING VHS DOES NOT MAKE A HIPSTER!

by Mike Wilcox

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.

JOHN CARPENTER’S APOCALYPSE TRILOGY REVISITED

by Adam M. Wilcox

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.

The Thing

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.

HALLOWEEN BOX SET REVISITED

by Groovinator, The Cynical Cyborg

So Halloween is hitting the theaters on the 19th, and since it has been almost a decade since the last one released, I think it’s time for another visit to Haddonfield, and based on the trailers I have seen, I am genuinely looking forward to it.

To prepare for my upcoming review, I felt it was necessary, at least for me to watch all of the previous installments, so I am not caught off guard with a hidden Easter egg, or a reference of some sort.  For this review, I purchased the Halloween 10 disc collection published by Anchor Bay, and Scream Factory in 2014.  I will break down each movie in order of release.  Also important to note, while I am a hopeless John Carpenter fan boy, and huge fan of the first film, I always enjoy other people’s interpretation of this story.  The films will be judged on what they ARE, and what they are trying to achieve rather, than why it not as good as the original. I feel that is the unfair approach. Enough of that…let’s get to it!

John Carpenter’s Halloween:

First disc is listed as “John Carpenter’s Halloween”.  This disc wile labeled as the original, contains the same content and menu screen as the 35th Anniversary disc. This is great, because that is my absolute favorite print of this film. Looks, and sounds like it was shot yesterday. The film is a classic, and I will not waste your time talking about why it is a classic. It was an independent film about an escaped mental patient, who stalks a babysitter on Halloween wearing a mask, and carrying a knife in broad daylight, and nobody cares…because it’s Halloween, it’s almost the perfect crime!  It is a simple story that works, and ends on a classic cliff hanger ending.  This was Jamie Lee Curtis’s first movie, and made her an instant star and early scream queen before breaking out in the 80’s and 90s with films like Trading Places, and True Lies. This is one that most people like to dust off, and watch on Halloween for dramatic affect.

Halloween II

Disc 2, is Halloween II, the direct sequel that picks up literally on the same night, just as our babysitter victim from the first movie, has been rushed to the hospital, our shapeless killer decides to finish what he started by stalking her in the hospital.  There is nothing incredibly new here, other than…our killer is now impervious to multiple stabbings, and gunshot wounds.  Also, it is revealed that our babysitter happens to be our killer’s estranged sister.  Also, Doctor Loomis, has graduated from rambling on about psychopaths, to introducing us to some mumbo jumbo about “Samhain”, and “The Lord of the Death”. While at the time, I thought this was pretty cool, now I feel like introducing the supernatural elements into this formula kind of takes me out of it.  I admit that while this one still looks and sounds, and feel’s like the first movie, the fact that the entire movie takes place within the confines of a hospital is a bit of a let down.  It’s a competent sequel to an otherwise better movie that runs fine on simpler ideas.  

Halloween III: The Season of The Witch

Disc 3, oh this is a fun one!  I absolutely enjoy the hell out of this movie. And that is controversy in itself.  This one decided that Michael Myers story was complete, so this story neither references, nor continues with any of the elements of the previous two movies. Rather, a separate story using Halloween only in name.  If you have never seen Halloween III, the set up alone will make you drop your jaw to the floor.  It involves killer robots, black magic, high tech Halloween masks, Stone Henge, killer robots, and Witchcraft. Are you still with me?  So this movie takes place about a week before Halloween, when seriously injured man clutching a Jack-O-Lantern mask comes into the emergency room run by Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) spouting off gibberish about the end times. Not long after admittance, a non descript man casually walks into the emergency room, kills the man with his bare hands, then casually walks out to a car while being chased by security, gets in the car, dumps a can of gasoline on his head, and lights himself on fire causing the car to explode in the hospital parking lot.   This movie goes from weird, to bat shit crazy in a matter of minutes.  Watching this movie, I am reminded why I admired the 80s.  As long as you had money, and box office appeal, ANYTHING could get made!  A dough eyed daughter of the man clutching the mask, comes in to investigate her father’s death.  Tom Atkins decides to trace the origin of the mask. Turns out the mask is one of three must have hot items produced by Silver Shamrock.  An annoying commercial is played on TVs, in between long moody slices of classic John Carpenter synthesizer scores. I don’t want to give away the plot of the movie, because it is so bizarre, you have to see it to believe it. As an 80’s horror movie…this movie is fun, as can be, but as a movie in a franchise about an escaped mental patient, this one is a bit of a head scratch. Also, Tom Atkins casually slaps his nurses on the bum, and beds, or has had some relation with literally every woman he has had contact with.  Tom Atkins is a fantastic character actor who I admire, but the last one I would ever compare to a playboy, or a James Bond.

Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers

Obviously Halloween III: The Season of the Witch is a divisive film. It was a huge flop at the box office, and most franchise fans refuse to acknowledge that film’s existence.  I however, walk a different path, as I embrace the totally weird like a religion.  Disc 4 is the film that brought things back to where they started. Myers escapes again several years later to stalk Jamie, the daughter of the now diseased Laurie Strode. Jamie has a mysterious psychic link to Michael Myers, who appears to her in the form of nightmares, and visions.  This film is very good. It has mostly new characters, but they are all pretty solid, and play it totally straight. Only Donald Pleasance reprises his role as Loomis, who is once again trying to prevent death from returning to Haddonfield. I found this one rather entertaining.

Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Disc V, is where things take a turn for the worse I am afraid.  See, in the 80’s sequels happened sometimes, but they were never planned in advance.  Halloween IV, returned the franchise to its horror thriller roots, and was a huge success.  Halloween V picks up by replaying the end of the part IV, and sort of picking up where that one left off, maybe a year or so later.  My biggest problem with this is that anything that was enjoyable about the last one is totally discarded in this one.  The characters in this movie are either cartoons, or so annoying, that you secretly want the death to happen sooner than later. Strong characters from the last movie are dispensed as kill fodder, and characters that are obnoxious and annoying linger for the duration of the film. Even Jamie has been reduced to annoying plot armor, either screaming, or recreating stabbing motions of The Shape.  Also the supernatural crap comes back again stronger than ever, but not fully explained.  It feels like it was written by an older person that has absolutely no grasp on American teenagers. So characters with names like “Sam, and Spitz”, are portrayed as borderline sociopaths. If they are not fucking each other’s brains out, they are yelling at each other, slapping each other, fucking again…then yelling at each other again.  I felt like I was watching Reefer Madness, staring Michael Myers.  Also, the cops are introduced with whimsical music and silly xylophone noises so that the audience knows these cops are the worst keystone cops since the days of silent film. Tonally and structurally this movie is hot garbage. It can’t decide if it wants to be funny….if it is trying to be funny…the jokes run on too long…and then when it decides to be serious, it acts as if we actually care about anyone getting dispatched. At this point, I am rooting for The Shape, just so I don’t have to sit through any of this painful dialogue again. Oh, and wait until Johnny Cash shows up… So far, out of this box set…this is the first film that actually offends me.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Disc 6 I know will get a lot of hate.  Some of it is deserved. In this set, it is the theatrical cut. I know a director’s cut is floating around out there somewhere, and I will have to take a look at it, once I track one down.  Curse is not as bad as I thought it would be, in fact, some aspects I rather enjoyed.  In this one however, we are going in full blast with the supernatural mumbo jumbo again, and Myers is now the product of some ancient druid sacrifice.  The film does have some genuine moments when a young Paul Rudd shows up as a now older Tommy Doyle (one of the babysitting kids from the Original) who seems committed to tracking down Michael Myers; whose body has never been found. Halloween is NOW been made illegal in the town of Haddonfield save for a few teenagers who secretly celebrate in protest.  Characters in this movie are strong. Film quality looks good. This was Donald Pleasance’s last movie, and he died before it was released.  It is not one of the stronger sequels in the series, but not offensive either. Some really great effects work, and some decent acting. It is at least worthy of a second look.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Disc 7 is easily the absolute best sequel in the franchise. How this film ever got made is a miracle of science.  Not only does it have a strong well written script, and screenplay, it has smart dialogue. It is full of stars like Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, L.L. Cool J, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I remember seeing this in theaters on opening weekend, and I remember liking it, but had not watched it again since. I didn’t know if that was my young age, or my nostalgia goggles, or a combination of all of the above.  Having watched it again with older, non biased eyes…I am still amazed at this movie.  Halloween was never known for having a big budget, or big budget actors.  This is Halloween with a big budget treatment, written and directed by people with a love for film, and knowledge of what made the classics work. This one thankfully, does not take place in Illinois, but that doesn’t stop Michael from road tripping to Summer Glenn, California where Laurie Strode has been teaching at a posh prep school under an assumed identity, where she can keep a watchful eye on her son played by Josh Hartnett. Laurie has buried her past in booze and lies.  It is fun to see Jamie Lee Curtis reprise a very convincing older version of the character from the first movie.  The teenagers do not annoy me in this movie.  I enjoyed all of the characters in this movie, and was genuinely concerned for them. 

 I think this one gets a lot of hate, because it came out a few years AFTER Scream, which pretty much reduced the 80’s Slasher genre to a meme. The movie is often acted and paced like one of those movies. The official movie poster even resembles The Scream poster. I still very much enjoyed the movies. It didn’t shit on the original; it works in the same universe as the previous films, and surprisingly did NOT try to set up any kind of a sequel. However, Hollywood loves money…

Halloween: Resurrection (AKA How to kill a franchise in 1 hour, and 34 minutes)

Disc 8 is the epitome of sadness and desperation.  This one is going to be filled with spoilers, because I feel it is my duty to explain to the masses why nobody should waste their time on this diaper stain of a film.  Remember everything that you loved about the H20, Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Myers, or anything about horror films in general?  Well FUCK ALL OF THAT!!! Welcome to Resurrection, a film that treats its characters like road kill, its audience like marketing data research, and movies like disposable vending machines.  The film opens with Jamie Lee Curtis in a California Sanitarium looking like John Wayne Gacy’s girlfriend hooked on Oxycodone, only she’s not REALLY crazy…she’s been waiting for Michael Myers to show up…only he kills her…in 15 minutes….?  She’s featured on the poster of the movie and has been reduced to one horrible cameo. Thanks movie.  Fuck you movie!  Very next scene we are introduced to some college kids that have no relation to any characters in the franchise. They are all excited because they have been chosen by Busta Rhymes, to be in an “internet reality show” where they play ghost hunter in the Michael Myers house. The wacky Hijinks ensue, as we are treated to a bunch of well planned jump scares secretly placed by the crew in order to boost viewer ratings. However, Michael Myers eventually shows up, and we are treated to continuous shots of The Shape coming and going through artificially low tech camera work meant to simulate body cams. This movie was directed by the same guy that directed the original Halloween II.  This movie shits on it the sequel that precedes it; the franchise that contains it, and people in general that might have any attachment to these movies.  I don’t know if this is a con job, a comedy, or a secret plot to destroy the Halloween franchise, but it succeeds at all of those things, and fails at everything that it was marketed to be. However it had Halloween in the name…so it made money. Even Katee Sackhoff, an actress I admire and respect, cannot save this shit movie. In fact her name is misspelled in the credits. Again, Fuck you, movie! This one is even more offensive than Halloween V.  That movie was just a series of accidents; this one is a series of insults. Let’s just remember that scene where Busta Rhymes bustas some kung fu on Michael Myers because he likes the Kung Fu movies.  This is now an internet meme, kind of like this movie.

Halloween (Enter Rob Zombie)

No thanks to that abomination that is Resurrection, the only logical thing to do at this point is reboot, or remake.  Disc 9 is The Rob Zombie Remake of Halloween. Depending about how you may, or may not feel about Rob Zombie as an “artist” your mileage may very.  Hot off the (financial, not critical) success of “House of 1000 Corpses”, and “The Devil’s Rejects”, marketing research CLEARLY indicated that Rob Zombie must be what the kids want.  This may sound like a direct jab, it’s not. This version does have some things that I like, but that doesn’t mean that they all necessarily work. I won’t dispute that Zombie is a big fan of the original Halloween, and possibly Halloween II, as there are elements from both in this re-imagining. However, I think he went off on one tangent too far, and forgot what the purpose of the original was.  In this film, the protagonist is The Shape. Michael Myers.  We are introduced to him as a young kid, growing up in 70’s or 80’s Haddonfield…film doesn’t specify other than music playing in the background, and some longer hair styles.  Myers has a pretty shitty life with a drunken step dad, and slut for a sister, and a stripper mother. (Enter our obligatory Sherry Moon Zombie appearance.)  We are introduced to a kid that is one bad day short of serial murder.  Oh yeah, and he likes to mutilate animals as a hobby.  After murdering a local bully, and most of his circus of a family, we fast forward to the budding relationship between Doctor Loomis (brilliantly played by Malcolm McDowell).  As time progresses Myers makes a hobby out of making masks, as he slowly deteriorates, and becomes detached from any kind of communication, or affection, Myers is eventually released from Loomis’s care, and Myers becomes a masked recluse.  Now here is the problem I have with this movie.  And Carpenter has already pointed this out…but it’s important to mention it again.  While this development is extremely interesting, and well executed, it is the first hour of the film. Michael is the protagonist of our horror film. We see him go from troubled youth, to oversized maniac, escape from institution and travel to modern day Haddonfield.  So NOW the original character from the first film is introduced to us an hour after the credits roll. And at this point…we basically repeat all of the same beats from the original movie.  This is a remake of a movie that clearly needed no remake. However, I am not opposed to a modern day telling. However, you need to make it your own thing. Entire lines of dialogue, and even some of the kills, are recreations of the first movie, and it feels cheap.  The characters we are supposed to care about…we barely know them….we spent most of the movie talking about Michael, are we supposed to care about Michael, or Laurie?  Part of what makes a horror movie work, is when you can relate to an average everyday character as yourself, which puts you into that feeling of fear, and panic. And even though, I do LIKE Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode…we barely knew her? I think at this point Zombie expected the music, and the original nostalgia goggles to carry us through, but that is not fair. If you are helming a remake, then you better remake something original. I feel like this one only scratched on the surface, and then gave up during the last act. Also, this is a minor nitpick, but it has bugged me since I first saw this movie.  This is supposed to take place in modern middle class Illinois.  This movie goes WAY OUT OF its WAY to prove to you that this is not your parent’s Halloween movie. This is Rob fucking Zombie’s Halloween!  Dialogue is reduced to sex jokes, and the word fuck is used at a rate of 720 fucks per minute.  Also, the stripper, the drunk, the slut, and the mental patient live in the same neighborhood as the middle class real estate agent?  I am not buying it.  Part of this is I lived in Illinois for most of my life.  I am sure other people have lived in Illinois, and probably still live there today. Other than the set itself, nothing feels Illinois about this movie. It feels more like Southern California Trailer Park. I am not trying to be a prude, it’s just that part of making your movie work, is being faithful to the setting your fictional characters claim they were from. Clearly Zombie never lived in Illinois.  I know I said I was not going to do this…but it is necessary to prove a point. The original movie was not shot in Illinois either, but it at least looked and felt like Illinois, and people talked like normal people did in 1978 Illinois.  In this one, all of the transitional dialogue is reduced to a series of crass jokes, and innuendoes that become exhausting by the end of this movie.  The violence does not bother me; it’s visceral, and updated for the times.  The feeling of victims dread is convincingly portrayed, but every female babysitter in this movie WILL be topless, and everyone who works in an institution or paramedical field is a little too rapey in this movie for my tastes. I doubt anyone will give a shit about this movie ten years from now.

 Halloween II (yes, THIS shit again)

What the fuck is this? Disc 10 is a whole lot of what the fuck ever. Like the last movie, I want to like it…and every time I think I might find something about it to lash onto, it strays off course and smashes into a brick wall at every turn.  It opens up looking like the original movie of the same name, when Laurie is rushed into the ER. And just when you think you are going to get a more visceral repeat of the original, you flash forward two years later, as Laurie Strode is waking from a bad nightmare. Now Laurie lives with her other friend Annie, who apparently survived the attacks from the previous movie. Both these girls are a hot chocolate mess. I like that aspect of it…anyone would have a next to impossible time trying to re-enter any kind of normal life after that ordeal, however…in this movie, things for these girls go from bad to absolute fuck.  Also, we see Michael again looking like a cross between Grisly Addams, and John Rambo from First Blood, hiking across the land, and living on dog meat. No, really. Loomis returns, but this time he is an asshole who decided to get rich by publishing books based on the Haddonfield ordeal. Way to honor Donald Pleasance’s memory Rob… Anyways, if I give this movie any credit at all, it will be for having more Laurie Strode, even if her character is a train wreck, and it DOES at least try to be different from the other movies, however parts of it come off like a promo shot for some “Hellbilly” rock groups, and a bad homage to Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me. Michael is having visions of white horses, and Sherry Moon Zombie dressed up like Gandalf The White, and of course a new young Michael Myers.  The ending made me face palm.   It’s a horrible way to end a franchise with so much potential.  I know that some people are very upset that this new Halloween movie RET Cons some of these sequels, but some of these are very much not worth saving at all.

Most of these sequels were mediocre, one was weird fun, one was amazing, but none of them hold a candle to the original that worked so well. I hate to judge a movie, or a sequel based on movie budgets, but Blumhouse is not known for budgets.  I mean the trailers look good, but my expectations are extremely low. I guess my biggest fear is that it will be painfully boring and mediocre.  We’ll see what happens in the upcoming review!