Halloween Horror Movie Review 2017 (also 2016 as I took a long break from writing)

It’s that time of year again friends.  Decorative gourds, pumpkin spice flavored everything (vomit), and horror movies (squee!).

Reminder of the rating system:

Ratings as follows –

pumpkindon’t bother, this shit is unwatchable

pumpkinpumpkinsome good points but ultimately failed as a film

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkinsome issues but I was willing to overlook them and it was still enjoyable

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkinpumpkina solid movie from start to finish and recommended watching

 

a dark song

A Dark Song

This was well acted, scripted, and shot from start to finish.  An angry, grieving mother enlists the help of an occultist for something impossible.  There is a sense of claustrophobia, menace, tension, and stress that is visceral while watching Sophia and Joseph’s actions and interactions.  At other times, there are real moments of beauty, humanity and pathos.  I like that you aren’t really sure if these people are just twisted and delusional or there’s something afoot for 90% of the time.  You will find yourself Googling the meanings and symbols of this film.

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

 

green room

Green Room

Some of the scariest monsters are our fellow men.  A group of O.G. DIY punk rockers are on a tour that goes from bad to worse when they end up getting booked to play for a bunch of neo-Nazis in a rural town outside Portland.  They unwittingly become prime witnesses for some shit that happens in the “green room,” and things go south quickly.  This movie also makes me sad while watching Anton Yelchin’s intense performance as it was one of the last few movies he did before his tragic accident.  Patrick Stewart chewing up the scenery out of his typical character is deliciously worth it.  As the Dead Kennedy’s sang:

Nazi punks
Nazi punks
Nazi punks, fuck off!

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

 

cooties

Cooties

Circle circle, dot dot.  Now you have the cootie shot.  As kids in the 80’s, we didn’t really know that “cooties” were code for lice, but we used to accuse each other (usually in a showdown of girls vs. boys) of having cooties.  This movie has some really funny bits and basically depicts every teacher’s secret fear – our students will one day rise against us en mass.  Classic cinema it isn’t, nor should you take your children to see this.  People get eaten alive and body parts ripped off.  It’s a fun, gory popcorn muncher.  Check out the hilarious performance of socially-challenged science teacher by none other than Leigh Whannell, screenwriter of Saw, Dead Silence, and Insidious .

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

 

final girls

Final Girls

If you are a fan of the classic 80’s slasher, this is a great, goofy, self-aware send up of all the tropes, while still delivering a few solid scares.  It’s a film within a film where the dream logic gets a little fuzzy (especially at the end).  The script and story are a bit predictable, but the actors are solid and give it their all despite the script’s flaws.

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

 

hush

Hush

Ohgodhe’srightfuckingbehindyou!!!  That’s basically what you are internally screaming through a good bit of this film.  A home invasion with a twist-our heroine is deaf.  This makes it even more tense because we not only see, but hear everything that we know she can’t.  Really well acted but predictable, probably because I’ve seen too many horror movies.

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

 

occulus

Oculus

This one really got to me.  A family torn apart by mental illness and violence.  Or is it some sinister force working on them?  The story is told in parallel flashback.  While you can take this film as a metaphor, you are 99% sure of what’s going on, and watching as it unfolds you are by turns frightened, sad, confused, and angry watching as our protagonists make choice after dreadful choice.

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

deathgasm

Deathgasm

This movie looks and sounds like it would be idiotic.  Get over your prejudice.  Loser metal heads manage to find a way to invoke some really evil shit.  It’s actually pretty fun and clever, and has some good acting.  Not “scary scary” but some good jumps.  The story is a familiar one with a few good twists, and delivers on some great splatstick.  I like the treatment of the main female protagonist, Medina, as well–no pretty princess in need of rescuing.  This came out a while ago and the filmmakers have been promising a Deathgasm 2, with even more gore in the first 10 minutes than this entire movie, but I think it’s been caught in pre-production hell.  Maybe we can do a ritual to bring it to light?

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

 

goosebumps

Goosebumps

Finally, one you can bring your (older) kids too.  Don’t let the title fool you, there are some truly spooky moments in this for a kid’s horror movie.  Mostly it’s a sweet funny story about a new kid in town trying to get to know the cute girl next door, played by Odeya Rush who looks a smidge like a young Mila Kunis-type to me.  If you enjoyed the books as a kid, you will get a kick out of seeing all the monsters come to life on the big screen.  Jack Black playing Mr. Shivers a.k.a. R.L. Stine makes for a nice story within a story, and Slappy the murderous ventriloquist puppet is truly creepy–so don’t call him a dummy.

pumpkinpumpkinpumpkinpumpkin

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Fixer Upper – Turning Everything into Faux-Distressed Pottery Barn Lookalikes

(Exhibits 1-8)

Chip and Joanna Gains, owners of Magnolia Homes, have not only a show on HGTV, but a whole brand they are cultivating.  They are a charming couple with four adorable children and a mess of animals on a farm down in Texas.  I love that they are into rescuing old properties rather than razing them and building new.  Still, every time I see them rip out beautiful wood windows, I die a little inside.  I guess as a contractor, it doesn’t make financial sense for Chip to reglaze.  Also annoying is that they love to make everything open concept (check my girl Roxanne at Justmewith… if you want a perfect explanation for everything that is wrong with open concept in a single-family home).  Also, they tend to ignore the era and style of the original home, making every property look sorta farmhouse-meets-industrial cookie cutter.   Nearly every kitchen ends up too big with an island (annoying and inefficient to walk around).  Nearly every kitchen has white cabinets.  Nearly every home tends to stick to a basic grays and whites palette. Reclaimed wood, distressed finishes, shiplap and subway tile are the only finishes they know, and they have a major hard on for sliding barn doors–a trend which I think will look super-dated in the not-too-distant future.  I wish the owners’ style were allowed to shine through a bit.

I think it’s important if you are looking to remodel or renovate, don’t look to just one t.v. show or source for style inspiration.  Too often people doubt their own sense of style, leaving it to the “experts” who wind up dictating a look that becomes  ubiquitous, repetitive, and boring.

 

 

Pinterest Wins and Losses

Over the past few years, I’ve become full-on Pinterest addicted.  I started out with just three “secret” (i.e. private, for my eyes only) boards and now have about 15 boards, most public.  I used to bookmark websites but it’s so much easier to search through a board of photos to find what I want.  Anyway, I’ve tried out a bunch of DIY stuff I’ve found through searching other people’s “pins,” and wanted to share a quick list of some that I have seen popping up that are worthwhile and some that turned out less than amazing.

rast hack

(This one looks magical.  They even added ball feet!)

Ikea “Rast” Hack – I needed a pair of beside tables.  Nothing too fancy, some drawers for storage, and enough surface area to have a box of tissues, a book, and a glass of water.

Verdict – Easy as shit, and only limited by your imagination and crafting skills.  I painted mine a simple blue with white drawer fronts, and swapped in some mid-modish circular metal pulls.  My imagination is a limitation, but allow yourself to be inspired.   They work great, and hold: all my bathing suits, all my winter scarves/hats/gloves/earmuffs, and some extra books and whatnot in the top drawer.

lemon honey

(Just make tea.)

Blackhead removal with a lemon and honey – Holy Christ this pin comes up so often, and it’s a bunch of nonsense.  If this really worked, no one in the entire world would have blackheads.  This is just going to irritate your skin with the lemon and make you all sticky from the honey with nothing good to show for it.  Fun fact — I found out through research that I don’t have blackheads – what look like clogged pores are called sebaceous filaments.  They are genetic, harmless, and nearly impossible to get rid of.  If your aesthetician manages to extract them, they will reappear in a matter of days, and your skin and pores won’t thank you for the squeezing and tugging.  PUT DOWN THE BIORE!

Verdict – Don’t even bother with this nonsense.

roller shade

Covering vinyl roller shades with fabric to pretty them up  – Get some cheap vinyl shades, get some cheap, thin cotton fabric, get some spray adhesive and slap it together.  Viola!  You have fancy, affordable shades that block out the early morning sun and neighbors’ prying eyes.

Verdict – So, this didn’t work so well for me, but the directions I found weren’t great and I made the mistake of following them blindly.  Instead of only covering the 3 ft or so length of the shade that is visible when the shade is unfurled, I covered the entire shade (as per instructions).  It wouldn’t roll back up because a) it was too heavy for the springs, and b) even the thinnest cotton calico is too thick and it looked lumpy.  I might get brave and try again using just a short length of fabric.  Also, that Elmer’s spray adhesive smells like death, and is super-messy and tacky to deal with (careful of overspray!).  Do it outdoors and leave it to cure out there for at least a day if you don’t want indoor air pollution.

buffalo bites

Cauliflower replacement recipes – trying to cut carbs? Increase veggie intake?  Make an every day food out of your your favorite “sometimes” foods?

Verdict – This actually worked, though if you are a junkfood purist, it will likely offend.  I used my pizza stone and made a decent cauliflower pizza crust, and used cauliflower florets to make baked “Buffalo wings.”  Frank’s makes a Buffalo sauce that isn’t high in fat (just has butter flavor), and it will work.  Great to make for your vegetarian friends at a casual party.

wineapple

“Wineapple” gift – nearly everyone I know loves booze and/or chocolate, often both, often together.  Take a bottle, stick on a bunch of Ferrero Roche candies, wrap the whole thing in plastic, and make some fake spiky leaves at the top with paper/plastic/whatever.

Verdict – Time consuming, expensive, difficult to get it looking good, but everyone loved them anyway.  I found someone selling huge boxes of those chocolate truffles online and had them shipped, as it will take many more of these to cover a bottle than you can imagine.  Maybe next time I’ll dot them around in a diamond pattern to save time, money, and frustration.  I stuck the candies to the bottle with tape as I didn’t want to hot glue it all making them difficult to remove, and leaving the bottle a mess and hard to pour from.  The candies tended to sag out of their wrappers even though the tape held them in place.  Wrapping it all in plastic helped hold it together somewhat, but there was fallout.  Also, it’s hard to spread them out evenly in neat little rows.  If you like your homemade gifts not to have that “homemade” look, and you are a perfectionist, just give them the candy and hooch wrapped separately and call it a night.

When comedy has limits, comedy is over.

Difficult-People_0

Also, when people have to have this level of comedy explained, they likely still won’t get it.

Comedy shouldn’t have limits.  It’s freedom of speech.  If you don’t like it, don’t watch/listen.  There are lots of “jokes” that I don’t like but they can bring important issues to the forefront.

In regard to the “Blue Ivy” joke from Difficult People: the joke isn’t the kid.  The joke is that the CHARACTER is a terrible person and makes horribly mean jokes.  And further, the joke is the massive hypocrisy that R Kelly is a child molester and Blue Ivy’s dad COLLABORATED on an album with that filthy pedo which dropped the same year as the sex tape allegations brought against him.  Oh, and then they collaborated again on another album, so clearly Jay-Z is a supporter and fan.

R. Kelly is still out there, and probably has already pissed on another little girl.  And it’s not funny, it’s sick, but comedy can sometimes bring people to justice, at least in the court of public opinion (Hannibal Buress and Bill Cosby, anyone?)

Film Review: Cabin in the Woods

Image

 

An enjoyable homage by Drew Goddard (Lost, Alias, Angel, Buffy) and Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Toy Story, Titan A.E., Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) to the classic horror sub-genre of “teens go away for fun weekend of sex, booze and drugs; murderous mayhem ensues.” 

A bit horror, a bit splat-stick (some scenes not for the squeamish), a bit dark comedy, a bit sci-fi, a bit fantasy.  An excellent cast  all around (and surprising– Sigourney Weaver?!  Richard Jenkins?! Jodelle Ferland, I would recognize you anywhere) who treated the script just seriously enough to make it more fun than Scream.  Some aspects reminded me of the “Cube” movies, in a good way.  Nice twist at the end too.  Go see, says I.