In 2010, I watched 152 movies. In 2011, I upped the ante a little bit with 198 movies. And now, in 2012, I seem to have gone absolute apeshit, clocking in at a total of exactly 300 fucking movies! That is an insane amount of movies, and I guess I really need to get a life or something. Here’s how I wasted my year:
Zodiac (January 2)
I don’t remember what inspired me to watch this movie, but I do remember that I went into it assuming it would be about the Zodiac killer from my own youth, Heriberto Seda. I was fascinated by this guy as a kid, because he seemed so much like a real-life Batman villain. And in fact, I didn’t even know he was a copycat until Jake Gyllenhaal pointed it out to me. I’m dumb. Anyway, lots of people seem to love this movie but I don’t really know why. During its best moments, it seems no better or worse than an average episode of CSI, and the rest of the time it’s just boring as fuck. Shrug.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (January 2)
Here is what I originally wrote about this movie:
Jesus, if you have kids, do not watch this movie! Particularly if you have an especially shitty kid. I don’t have a child outside of the Super Mario pillow I sleep with, and this movie still depressed the living hell out of me. I can’t even imagine what it would do to parents.
But obviously lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about school shootings and mentally unbalanced children, so you know what? Parents should watch this movie, if only to shock them into taking a longer look at their kids’ behavior. Not that every shitty kid is going to grow up to be a murderer, and we should definitely not treat them all like they have that potential, but we should definitely be aware of the signs. I dunno. Sorry to get all serious and shit. Let’s move on….
The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) (Rifftrax version) (January 6)
The musical version of Little Shop of Horrors is one of my all-time favorites, but I really enjoy the original too. If memory serves, this was one of the early Rifftrax where Mike Nelson riffed solo. Those aren’t quite as funny as the ones with
The Innkeepers (January 6)
I loved the living shit out of The House of the Devil, so I was really looking forward to this follow-up from director Ti West. But man, this movie turned out to be such a disappointment! Where House of the Devil was slow and plodding in a way that paid loving homage to the slow and plodding style of 70’s and 80’s horror films, this one is slow and plodding in a way more reminiscent of, I dunno, Kevin Smith or something? Lots of people bla-bla-bla-ing all day long, and not much else happening until the end, where the uneventfullness becomes slightly more dramatic. What a fucking bummer.
The Lady Vanishes (January 10)
This is one of those Hitchcock movies that’s all about espionage and international intrigue, which are generally my least favorite of his films. But I dug this one quite a bit, mostly because I’m a stone-cold sucker for any story that takes place largely on a train. In that sense, this scratches the same itch as Resident Evil Zero for me. I’m weird.
Tetris: From Russia With Love (January 20)
I was hoping this documentary would be about the development of Tetris and the falling-block puzzle genre that rose as a result, but instead it focuses specifically on the struggles of various companies who competed to gain the game’s publishing rights. That’s a fairly interesting story up to a point, but even with a run time of under an hour, this movie far exceeds that point. Worth watching if you’re into the history of the video game industry, but don’t expect the movie to actually be about Tetris in any significant way.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) (January 20)
This is the original Denmarkian version of the movie, and holy shit it’s fantastic. I knew almost nothing about the story going in (except for its widely-reported rapeiness), so I was delightfully surprised to discover that it’s basically an old-fashioned whodunnit! I still have yet to see the American remake, but I can’t imagine it’s better than this awesomeness.
Martha Marcy May Marlene (January 21)
The main thing I got out of this piece of stupid crap is the fact that Elizabeth Olsen is about a thousand times hotter than both of her monkey-looking sisters put together.
The Muppets Take Manhattan (January 21)
They’re Muppets. They take the shit out of Manhattan. What else is there to say?
Drew Peterson: Untouchable (January 21)
I don’t know why I was watching a ton of Lifetime Channel in the weeks leading up to this film’s debut (my guess is Roseanne), but I was, and they played commercials for this approximately every ten minutes. The commercial featured a mustachioed Rob Lowe opening a garage door and saying, “I’m untouchable, bitch,” and it got me so fucking excited for this movie! My friend Crystal has a blog called Live-Blogging Lifetime Movies, and she wrote about this in way more detail than I ever could, so just check that out.
Freddy’s Return: A Nightmare Reborn (January 22)
This is my third year doing these “year in movies” write-ups, and Freddy’s Return is the first film I’ve covered which does not have an IMDB page (the link above leads to the movie’s official webpage). This is a Nightmare on Elm Street fan film, and it’s pretty damn impressive for what it is. The acting is about what you’d expect from this sort of thing, but the story and production values definitely surprised me. Worth a watch if you’re a huge Freddy fan, and are willing to put up with a comparatively amateurish effort.
The Thing (2011) (January 23)
Aside from the occasionally shitty CGI effects, this works pretty well as a prequel to The Thing. More importantly, it marks the triumphant return of my girlfriend Ramona Flowers.
War of the Insects (Cinematic Titanic version) (January 23)
I don’t remember this at all, but I can say without hesitation that it is wildly funny.
Cowboys & Aliens (January 24)
This movie was pretty awful. In fact, between this and Iron Man 2, I am starting to think that maybe Jon Favreau just straight up sucks nowadays. Which makes me pretty worried that his upcoming Magic Kingdom might just be one of the best movies of all time instead of the best movie of all time.
Vertigo (January 24)
Rear Window (January 26)
Two more Hitchcock movies removed from my “must see” list! These movies are both obviously fantastic, but watching them back to back makes me realize that Hitchcock had some weird boner for having 1000-year-old Jimmy Stewart make out with gorgeous young women. Gross-o!!
Tower of Terror (January 26)
Did you guys know that Disney put out a made-for-TV movie based on the Tower of Terror? Did you know that it was their very first movie based on a theme park attraction, airing on The Wonderful World of Disney way back in 1997? Did you know it stars Steve Guttenberg and a young Kirsten Dunst? I didn’t know any of that, so you can imagine how excited I was to watch it once I found out! The Tower of Terror ride has a pretty cool story and a really awesome setting, which could easily be fleshed out into an excellent movie. Unfortunately, this is not that movie, since a made-for-TV budget seems to prevent the filmmakers from really going nuts with the concept. Bummer.
North by Northwest (January 26)
Another one scratched off the list! This is the one where everyone ends up running around on Mount Rushmore at the end. It wasn’t one of my favorites.
Crater Lake Monster (Rifftrax version) (January 28)
This might just be the best Rifftrax ever. For some reason, these guys seem to click best when they’re dealing with films from the late 70’s, and especially when there’s a character or two whose quirks they can really sink their teeth into. This movie meets both of those criteria, and the resulting riff is a riot!
Crank (January 28)
Crank: High Voltage (January 28)
Why did no one tell me how perfect these movies are??? I figured they were just run-of-the-mill douchey action movies, but it turns out they are completely goddamn batshit insane in every possible way! I don’t want to spoil anything, so seriously, just go watch them back to back.
Gorgo (MST3K version) (January 31)
This giant monster movie makes for one of the more boring episodes of MST3K. If you’re in the mood for this sort of thing, you’d be way better off with the Gamera episode.
The Lorax (February 1)
Imaginative Seuss-esque character and set designs makes an otherwise dull and mediocre movie bearable to sit through. My young nephews loved it, and I’ll admit it was a cut above stuff like Ice Age or Madagascar, but that isn’t really saying much. This one is, for the most part, a stinker. Sorry, Taylor Swift!!
The House Bunny (February 3)
I saw this on TV, and while Anna Faris is very nice to look at, this movie isn’t funny at all.
The Midnight Hour (February 4)
According to the IMDB description, Phil, Melissa, Mitch, Mary, and Vinnie are high school friends, who unwittingly raise the dead on Halloween night. Once the dead have returned, Pitchford Cove will never be the same again….or will it? Man, I don’t remember this movie at all, but it sounds great!
The Alien Factor (Cinematic Titanic version) (February 4)
By far the best installment of Cinematic Titanic. If you haven’t checked out Joel Hodgson’s Rifftrax competitor, this is definitely the place to start.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (February 9)
This is a stunning documentary by Werner Herzog, in which the exploration of a cave in France brings to light the oldest known human artwork. These French cavemen simply could not stop drawing, as the cave is chock full of incredible shit. And unlike the crude stick-figure images that come to mind when you think of cave drawings, some of the artwork discovered here is shockingly detailed and realistic. Just look at these fucking horses:
The film loses a little bit of steam at moments when Herzog cannot help himself from being a crazy weirdo (did you know that we’re all albino alligators looking backwards through the abyss of time?), but for the most part it’s breathtakingly beautiful and fascinating.
Never Too Young to Die (February 16)
John Stamos vs. Gene Simmons in the 1980’s. Nuff said.
Justice League: Doom (February 17)
This DC animated feature is a simplified adaptation of Mark Waid’s excellent JLA story, Tower of Babel. In the story, the ever-resourceful Batman has created files on how to take down each of his fellow Justice Leaguers should they ever go rogue, and chaos ensues when those files are stolen by a supervillain. Aside from the story elements which stray from the source material (replacing Ra’s al Ghul with Vandal Savage as the villain, for example), this adaptation’s main problem is that it kind of shifts focus from the comic arc’s main idea: the trust issues between Batman and his teammates. This is very briefly addressed in the film, but is mostly brushed aside in favor of kick-ass superhero fights. Still, kick-ass superhero fights make for an entertaining movie so at the end of the day, this was still pretty good.
Contagion (February 17)
It was pretty fun to watch Gwyneth Paltrow die horribly in the first 15 minutes, but beyond that this was pretty tepid mainstream fare.
The Chumscrubber (February 20)
A pretty entertaining teenage drama about drugs, suicide and abduction. I remember this being somewhat depressing and confusingly cryptic at times, but I also remember really enjoying it.
The Adventures of Tintin (March 3)
Tintin was so awesome! My issues with this style of animation are widely documented, but that was not enough to keep me from loving this heartfelt and reverent take on the classic comic series. I hope there are a million more Tintin movies!
Doll Graveyard (March 3)
I definitely watched way too many movies this year because, man, I don’t remember this one at all! It seems awesome though. My highest recommendation.
Good Luck Charlie, It’s Christmas! (March 9)
Because I am an 11-year-old girl stuck in a man’s body, Good Luck Charlie became one of my favorite new Dis-coms this year, and this road-tripping holiday romp is a fine addition to the canon. For me, the most awkward thing about movies-based-on-sitcoms is the lack of a laugh track – there are always moments where corny jokes are followed by a second of weird, ghostly silence, and it creeps me out. Still, it’s always exciting to see beloved characters break from the chains of their soundstage living rooms and venture out into the real world. If you like the TV show, you’ll like the movie. And if you don’t… well… good luck, Charlie!
Shut Up Little Man! (March 10)
This gross documentary tells the story of two amoral douchebags who secretly record the domestic disputes of their neighbors, and then distribute the tapes. What we’re supposed to get out of this is that the arguing neighbors are craaaazy, and that’s definitely true, but is that any excuse for invading their privacy to such an egregious degree? I won’t pretend I wasn’t entertained by this movie, because I was, but at what cost??
Phineas and Ferb Across the 2nd Dimension (March 15)
I got really into Phineas and Ferb this year. It’s seriously on the level of quality of Futurama or The Simpsons (back when the latter was a good show). Hilarious, heartwarming, sweet and featuring tons of great music, it is probably the best cartoon show on TV right now. This movie is more of the same, and it’s great. And hey, check this out:
Hugo (March 15)
As I watched the first half-hour or so of Hugo, I wasn’t entirely sure whether it was live action or animated, and for some reason I think I mean that as a compliment. The visual look of this film is completely fucking stunning, and the story is beautiful. Did kids like this movie? I can’t imagine how they possibly could. But whatever, I loved it, and I’m way more important than a bunch of stupid kids.
ATM (March 17)
Remember when Chandler Bing got stuck in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre? This movie is kind of like that, except instead of Jill Goodacre, it’s a vicious murderer.
Evidence (March 19)
On the surface, Evidence seems no different than any other boring found-footage scary movie, but oh my god this was one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t want to say a single other word about it because you should go into it completely fresh, so I’ll just repeat what I just said except I’ll push the CapsLk key first:
EVIDENCE IS ONE OF THE BEST HORROR MOVIES I’VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME.
The Woman in Black (March 20)
Harry Potter pretending to be a grown-up is disgusting and insulting enough, but that sort of thing could be forgiven if this movie was interesting, scary or entertaining in the least. It wasn’t.
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (Rifftrax version) (March 22)
I rewatched the single craziest of all the Rifftrax movies. I wrote about this last year, so just go read that. Or better yet, go get the movie.
King Ralph (March 22)
It’s interesting to recall a time when comedies could get away with not being funny at all ever, and still be charming enough to entertain. King Ralph probably won’t make you go “ha” even once, but you’ll still love it, and you won’t really understand why.
John Carter (March 25)
I love the Pirates movies and I even loved Prince of Persia, so I was probably one of the few people who went into John Carter with relatively high hopes. As such, I was disappointed by this film, but only slightly so. I thought there was a lot to enjoy here, and that a lot was done well, but ultimately there was just something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. I came out of the movie intrigued enough that I wanted to see more John Carter, but now it seems like that’s never going to happen.
The Astral Factor (Cinematic Titanic version) (March 31)
I finally made it out to see a live performance of Cinematic Titanic at the Victoria Theater in Newark, New Jersey, and it was… okay? The movie/riff itself was amazing, but previous to the screening, each individual member of Cinematic Titanic got on stage and did some sort of comedy bit. These were all awful to the point where I was squirming in my seat, uncomfortable and embarrassed. Once the movie began, I enjoyed every moment of it, but yeah, I don’t think I’ll be attending one of these again.
April Fool’s Day (April 1)
I’d never seen this classic before, and obviously I only decided to watch it because it was April Fool’s Day, but I ended up discovering a new favorite! Often when I watch teenage slasher-type movies, I find myself incredibly jealous of how much fun the kids are having before the bad stuff starts happening, and I usually end up disappointed when that fun is interrupted by some stupid killer. Without spoiling too much, this movie explores the pre-horror-awareness fun in a really interesting way that I’d never really seen before in a movie like this. It’s one of the most unique slasher movies I’ve ever seen, and I really recommend it. I’m gonna shut up now, before I spoil this shit for you.
The Dark Half (April 1)
I watched this by accident because I flipped to it on TV thinking it was The Dead Zone. This fucking movie sucked. I watched the entire thing. What is wrong with me?
2-Headed Shark Attack (April 4)
A few weeks prior, I’d watched the episode of Monster Man where the 2-headed shark itself was created. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that an Asylum film was using any practical effects at all, so I sought out the movie as soon as I could. It’s below-average even by Asylum standards, but still worth a watch if you dig this kind of stuff.
Frenemies (April 4)
The stars of Disney Channel’s Shake It Up headline this anthology film, which features a series of vignettes with the theme of static between friends. From what I remember, most of this was pretty bleh, but I think maybe there was something about a kid and his dog that entertained me a little bit? As far as Disney Channel original movies go, this one is pretty skippable.
Zombies Anonymous (April 4)
I see a lot of zombie movies, so I don’t really remember which one this is. I think it’s one of those “zombies are people too” type comedies though, so it probably sucks. Yeah, let’s just say it sucks.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (April 5)
This is, by far, my favorite Friday the 13th movie. Not only does it feature the debut of Jason’s nemesis Tommy Jarvis (who I’ve written about before), but it’s also got Crispin Glover giving the performance of his fucking career. There is a scene in this movie where Crispin is looking for a corkscrew that amuses me so much that I once forced my friends to watch as I rewound and replayed it ten times in a row, laughing so hard I was crying. This YouTube clip only shows maybe 1/4 of the scene, but it should be a sufficient sneak peek:
It can’t be just me who finds that shit hilarious. It can’t be. Oh yeah, and this movie also features Jason Voorhees murdering people. If you’re ever only going to watch one Friday the 13th movie, make it this one, okay?
Word War (April 7)
This is a documentary about people who are really good at Scrabble, and it made me really ashamed of my Words With Friends skills. Whatever, I’ll kick any of your asses at Scramble.
The Mirror Crack’d (April 9)
Endless Night (April 9)
The Seven Dials Mystery (April 10)
Agatha Christie a go go! I got really into ol’ Aggie this year, and these three movies are worth watching if you’re also into this kind of thing. My favorite of the three was The Mirror Crack’d – while watching it, I was fucking positive that I had it all figured out, so I was pleasantly surprised by a super interesting ending that I didn’t see coming, even though all the pieces of the puzzle were presented clearly to me. Later I was sad to learn that Agatha ripped the plot off wholesale from a true story. Pretty classless, but whatever, it’s a good story anyway.
Limitless (April 14)
Face from The A-Team takes drugs which give him superpowers, and then he runs around a lot and people shoot guns at him and I fall asleep.
The Cabin in the Woods (April 15)
Even though I’m a big horror fan, The Cabin in the Woods somehow was never on my radar prior to its release. All I knew about it was that it was made by Joss Whedon, it seemed like some kind of homage to The Evil Dead, and I wasn’t really that interested. However, one day I found myself with time to kill next to a $5 theater at which this movie was starting in 10 minutes. So I saw it. And it blew my fucking mind right out of my skull. Not only was this my favorite movie of the year, but I feel like it completely revolutionized the horror genre. I feel bad for any horror movie that is cursed to come out after The Cabin in the Woods, because it will be forced to be viewed through the lens that this movie created. On the off-chance that you are lucky enough to be as clueless about this film as I was, I won’t spoil a single thing about it. But watch it immediately.
Gosford Park (April 16)
A week or so after my Agatha Christie marathon, I was still suffering from mystery fever, so I tried to seek out more Christie-esque movies to cure it. This one was long, boring, and unbearable. Blech.
The Dead Talk Back (MST3K version) (April 16)
We’re only at April, and I am already running out of things to say about these MST3K episodes! A guy and two robots made fun of a movie, and it was funny!
Witness For the Prosecution (April 17)
Another Agatha Christie tale, this one a slow-paced courtroom drama in which a big fat British lawyer defends an American charged with murder. You’ll probably see some of the story’s many twists and turns coming, but this is still a pretty gripping yarn if you don’t mind watching black-and-white British people blathering on and on about god knows what. Highly recommended.
Lifeboat (April 19)
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a sucker for stories in which a bunch of people are trapped in an awful situation together, and it doesn’t get more awful than the predicament these Hitchcock characters are in. Being stuck on a lifeboat with a bunch of weirdos and few provisions is already a recipe for claustrophobia and paranoia, but once you add in a Nazi, shit gets tense as fuck.
Chimpanzee (April 20)
Oscar the baby chimpanzee’s harrowing saga gets narrated annoyingly by Tim Allen (who even manages to slip a fucking Home Improvement grunt into his commentary), but besides that this DisneyNature production is effectively heartwarming and tear-jerking. A lot of people complain that the narrative presented was actually crafted out of the filmmakers’ asses, but I say: So what? Just pretend that’s not the case, and enjoy the goddamned movie. I mean, are we really going to waste time pondering whether a chimpanzee’s biography was embellished, or are we going to have a good time at the movies? My biggest problem was something else: that is movie was at least 30% padding. This could have been an hour-long TV special if it wasn’t for the constant and achingly long establishing shots of trees and flowers and water dripping off of trees and flowers. But, whatever, any nitpicks you might have with this movie will melt away once you become emotionally invested in this guy:
At least, if you have a heart, they will…
One Nine Nine Four (April 21)
This is a documentary about the 90’s punk rock explosion that I watched on youtube while alphabetizing my trade paperbacks. As you might expect, it heavily focuses on awful bullshit like Blink-182 and the Offspring, but of course Green Day and Rancid are in there too. It’s pretty poorly made, to be honest, but since it focuses on the era during which I discovered punk rock, it appealed to my interests enough to keep me watching. There are way worse things you could have on while you’re deciding if Infinite Crisis should be filed under I or C.
The Dark Knight (April 22)
The more times you watch this film, the more you realize that the story is kind of meandering and disjointed. But it doesn’t matter, because the more times you watch this film, the more you realize that it’s still the most awesome Joker story you’re ever likely to see in a live action format.
The Mindscape of Alan Moore (April 23)
Alan Moore is probably my all-time favorite comic book writer, but holy god he is a self-absorbed nutbag. If you want to see him blather on about social issues and fucking magical mysticism for a million years while wearing ridiculous fucking rings on his fingers, then this is the movie for you. If that sounds unappealing, congratulations on being a smarter person than I am. Reward yourself by skipping this doc and reading Swamp Thing instead.
Rango (April 24)
Johnny Depp stars as a cartoon lizard in the old west, who helps a town suffering from a drought, and then there’s something about the founding of Las Vegas in there too. And mystical peyote visions, or maybe time travel? Something like that. I fell asleep about four times while watching this, so the plot details are a little foggy.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (April 25)
If you liked the first film, you’ll like the second. They’re pretty much exactly the same. I liked them both okay, but it’s a pretty bad time to be releasing “okay” Sherlock Holmes adaptations, when your competition is going to be the absolutely brilliant television version.
The Devil’s Hand (Rifftrax version) (April 25)
Frankenstein Island (Rifftrax version) (April 26)
Thor (Rifftrax version) (April 26)
I think the reason I watch so much MST3k/Rifftrax/Cinematic Titanic is because they’re the perfect things to put on in the background while you’re doing something else, like playing video games or dicking around on the internet. I think these guys are at their best when they’re riffing shitty old movies, rather than contemporary Hollywood fare (especially when it’s a genuinely good movie). For that reason, Thor is the most skippable of the bunch, but they’re all hilarious!
Chronicle (April 27)
I didn’t expect much from this found-footage superhero movie, but it turned out to be one of my favorite films of the year. The acting is good, the story is alternately fun and emotionally stirring, and the found-footage camera gimmick is utilized in one of the most interesting ways I’ve seen so far. But I think what I liked most are the scenes in which the characters learn to fly. These scenes are breathtaking and explore the thrill and majesty of being able to fly more than anything I’ve seen in any other movie. Worth watching for those scenes alone.
Murder by Death (April 28)
This movie is kind of like Clue if Clue was chock full of famous British people and not really funny.
Fifteen and Pregnant (April 29)
This isn’t the first time I’ve directed you to my friend Crystal’s blog Live-Blogging Lifetime Movies, but this is the first time when I myself appear on the blog as a special guest star! Find out some of my opinions on this ridiculous Kirsten Dunst movie by clicking here. Preview:
The Woman (May 1)
If you want to, you can use this awesome movie as a springboard to exploring your own thoughts about the role of women in a patriarchal society, or you can just enjoy a disturbing but kick-ass horror revenge story. Either way, you’re bound to get something out of it, although I can’t really guarantee you’ll like what that something is.
Teen-Age Strangler (MST3K version) (May 2)
The “juvenile delinquent” genre is one of my favorites to watch these guys riff on, so this is a great episode.
The Avengers (May 4)
At this point, what can I really say about The Avengers that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? The culmination of years of preparation and hype, and the sequel to five other well-received movies, it still managed to exceed my expectations more than I could have ever imagined. This is the perfect comic book movie: action-packed, visually beautiful, hilariously funny, filled with soap-opera intrigue, and overflowing with personality. Still, perhaps its greatest accomplishment is finally making a fucking superstar out of the Incredible Hulk, who absolutely steals the show here. As a comic book fan, I still can hardly believe something like this exists, and I’m psyched beyond belief to see where this Marvel movie universe goes from here!
The Brute Man (MST3K version) (May 5)
I visited this movie’s IMDB page to see if I could find anything interesting to say about yet another MST3K episode, and I learned that Rondo Hatton, the actor who plays the deformed freak in the movie, actually was a deformed freak – or to put it in a non-assholish way, he suffered from acromegaly, which he developed after being exposed to poison gas during his service in World War I. Now that I know that his appearance was not simply the result of makeup, I feel kinda bad about how genuinely creepy and horrifying I found his character! But, I mean, can you blame me? Look at this motherfucker:
Thrashin’ (May 11)
This classic 80’s skateboarding movie, which I saw for the first time this year, takes place in Los Angeles, California. Later in the year, as I was planning my first ever visit to LA, I made a lot of jokes about how I expected it to be exactly like Thrashin’. Imagine my surprise when I went to Venice Beach and discovered that it really is exactly like Thrashin’!!! Anyway, every minute of Thrashin’ fucking rules. The full movie appears to be on YouTube, so here it is:
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (May 18)
This movie features Katie Holmes and a little girl who looks exactly like Katie Holmes (but does not play her daughter), fighting evil tooth fairies. It’s awesome.
Boy Wonder (May 18)
I love quirky superhero movies and this one, a violent and grounded take on Robin, seemed like it might be pretty cool. It’s not. A decent premise gets dragged down by a dull execution, unbelievable motivations, and some pretty intensely awful acting. Too bad; this coulda been pretty cool.
God Bless America (May 20)
Remember Bobcat Goldthwait, the guy who was a little funny because he talked like an asshole and it’s possible he might have been retarded? I bet you’ve been waiting your whole life to hear his scathing opinions on modern American culture, right? I know I have been. But you should prepare yourself, because the century’s greatest satirist really goes out on a limb with some of his viewpoints – mean people are mean, reality TV is vapid, pop culture can sometimes be shallow. I mean, holy shit, this is groundbreaking stuff. It’s not at all sad to see a washed-up has-been pretending he’s an edgy-ass motherfucker for retreading these tired old cliches. Bobcat Goldthwait, you are a pathetic old man screaming at kids on your lawn, and I hope you never make another movie again.
Men in Black 3 (May 24)
Until I went to see this (in the theater!), I’d almost forgotten how charming, likable and funny Will Smith could be. Shame on me! This movie was really entertaining, with a pretty tight time-travel story, great acting (Josh Brolin’s Tommy Lee Jones impersonation is so perfect I barely noticed that Tommy himself just shows up for a brief cameo), and some genuinely emotional moments. Best Men in Black movie? Quite possibly.
Willow (May 24)
I hadn’t seen this in years, and had forgotten how goddamn great it is. Burglekutt definitely steals the show.
Griff the Invisible (May 26)
This quirky superhero movie really benefited from the fact that I had just seen Boy Wonder, and that this seemed like the fucking Avengers by comparison. This one is a love story at its core, specifically one of those love stories where two beautiful-but-strange loners meet each other and fall into a heartwarmingly awkward romance, and then Death Cab For Cutie plays. You know the kind of movie I mean. Some of them are pretty bad. This one is pretty good.
Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (May 27)
Yeah, you read that right. Not vampires, zombies. As you might have guessed, this is a production from The Asylum and compared to most of that studio’s mockbusters, this one is a masterpiece. What that means is, by any other standards, it’s a halfway decent movie. The story is actually pretty good, the guy playing Lincoln does a fine job, and the special effects are above par for this sort of thing. A special guest appearance by a young Teddy Roosevelt is the cherry on top. If you’re only going to watch one Asylum movie this year, you could do worse than Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.
Bad News Bears (1976) (May 30)
I’d never seen this before and, hey, it’s great! It’s weird watching a childrens’ movie in which the kids drink beer and call each other spics and faggots and stuff. I guess it’s for the best that this kind of thing has gone away, but it’s hard to deny that it makes the kids feel way more real than most kids in current movies. If you can handle that stuff, then this movie is tons of fun.
Yellow Brick Road (May 31)
This shit is garbage. Go fuck yourself, Yellow Brick Road..
Area 407 (May 31)
A found footage film about a plane crashing in a top-secret government dinosaur preserve. You read that right. This movie is stupid as shit, but it’s fun enough if you’re in the mood for shitty dinosaurs eating shitty people. If you find that you’re not in the mood for that, you should probably call the suicide hotline.
Bad News Bears (2005) (May 31)
The kids in this remake drink non-alcoholic beer and don’t hate crime each other. Besides that, it’s almost a perfect remake, but somehow it is totally charmless and lame. Probably because nobody’s calling each other spics and faggots, right?
Speed 2: Cruise Control (June 1)
About this time, I got really into the podcast How Did This Get Made?, in which comedians watch a bad movie and then have a roundtable discussion about it. I decided to start watching the movies each week in preparation for the podcast, and Speed 2 was my first. The movie is truly awful in many hilarious ways, not the least of which is the dramatic climax in which two giant ocean liners sloooooowly approach each other on a collision course for about 25 minutes. You can listen to the podcast here, and I recommend that you do.
Rise of the Animals (June 1)
This is a movie some really ugly kids made, in which they throw animal puppets from the dollar store at each other and pretend they’re being attacked by wildlife. It’s awesome.
Osombie (June 1)
This movie is about a bunch of American soldiers on a top secret mission in Afghanistan during a zombie outbreak. That premise made me think I might enjoy this movie in the same dopey way I enjoyed Rise of the Animals, but to my surprise, this was actually a legitimately decent zombie movie! I’m not saying the movie isn’t silly, but fairly likable characters and a unique setting elevate it above the usual same-old-same-old zombie movie hoard. “Osombie” is kind of a misnomer, since the titular zombie Bin Laden only makes a brief appearance, but to me that’s a good thing. Recommended!
Dead End Drive In (June 1)
Holy fuck, where has this movie been my whole life?? In a 1980’s post-apocalypse, all of society’s dregs (which, being the 80’s, means a bunch of teenage punks, skinheads, junkies, sluts and weirdos) are lured into a crazy-ass drive-in movie theater and then imprisoned there. This movie is so perfect, from the freakish decadence of the prisoners, to the stiff-suit fascist villains, to the completely insane drive-in set. Oh, and it’s an Australian film, which means it’s even crazier. You need to see this movie – watch it on Netflix.
Piranha 3DD (June 2)
Back in 2010, I praised the original Piranha 3D, but wondered if it would lose some of its magic if viewed outside of a movie theater setting. Well this year I watched its sequel in my own living room, and yeah, it loses a hell of a lot of magic. Either that, or the sequel itself just lost the magic. I’m honestly not sure which – if I had seen this in the theater, would I have felt some of the same excitement I felt while watching its predecessor? I guess I’ll never know, but as it stands, this was a bitter disappointment.
Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story (June 8)
This comedy has a lot of people I like in it, but like a lot of comedies, it left me a little bit cold. I am beginning to think maybe I don’t have a heart.
Curse of Bigfoot (Rifftrax version) (June 8)
This is a pretty good Rifftrax, and my absolute favorite part of it is summed up nicely in this paragraph from the IMDB “Goofs” section:
The early scene featuring the black dog is clearly intended to take place at night. Cricket sounds are heard, a filter is used to darken the image, and the actress makes reference to it being night. But the opening shot of the scene aims the camera right into the sun!
Superman vs. the Elite (June 9)
Based on a 2001 story called What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way? in which Superman faces off against a superteam meant to be analogues for The Authority, this definitely is the weirdest choice of source material for any of these DC animated films. Joe Kelly’s original story was meant as a commentary on the state of superhero comics at the time of its publication, so the adaptation seems a bit dated and irrelevant a decade later. But, possibly due to being extremely high when I watched it, I really enjoyed the movie. I found Manchester Black to be hilarious and endlessly entertaining as a villain, and thought his philosophical debates with Superman were really interesting. I was probably just high, though.
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (Rifftrax version) (June 9)
Planet of Dinosaurs (Rifftrax version) (June 10)
Missile to the Moon (Rifftrax version) (June 10)
Riffs and riffs and riffs and riffs…
A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (June 10)
Another outing for Harold and Kumar, and this series has pretty much lost its luster for me. This sequel is more or less just as funny as the other two movies, but I think I’m just kinda sick of it. Shrug.
Happy Birthday to Me (June 11)
During a discussion about horror movies with my brother-in-law, who is not generally a horror fan, he told me that Happy Birthday to Me scared the shit out of him as a kid. Having never seen it, I decided to check it out. It’s pretty typical teen slasher fare, on the tamer side of the genre, but it has pretty creepy moments, and I definitely see how it could haunt the dreams of a young child not accustomed to this kind of movie. For the rest of us, though, there are much better things to watch.
Mutant (Rifftrax version) (June 11)
This is one of the better Rifftrax, and though I don’t have a whole lot to say about it right now, keep it in mind because it will come up again later. Foreshadowing!
High School Musical 2 (June 12)
You’ve probably figured out by now that I am a sucker for this Disney Channel teenybopper nonsense, but the High School Musical franchise is a rare exception. Shitty kids, garbage songs, and endless boring bullshit. Skip this crap and check out Camp Rock instead.
Godzilla (1998) (June 12)
Another film I watched for How Did This Get Made? purposes. Man, I remembered this movie being bad, but holy shit, it is baaaaaaaad. I can’t even begin to list its problems, but they begin and end with the always-despicable Matthew Broderick. Also awful are Hank Azaria as a ridiculous fucking New Yawker, and the pathetic attempt to shoehorn a love story into a Godzilla movie. Oh yeah, and baby godzillas in Madison Square Garden. And everything else. Pretty much the only good thing that came out of this movie was Green Day’s hilarious remix of Brain Stew:
Being Elmo (June 13)
Kevin Clash’s recent problems paint Being Elmo in a depressing new light… but at the time I found this documentary, the tale of a poor black kid from the shitty streets of Baltimore growing up to become one of the most beloved children’s icons in the world, beautiful and inspirational. As a child of the 80’s, I generally credit Elmo with being the entity that ruined Sesame Street forever, so if you feel the same way this film might just change your mind. And then you’ll read those news stories about Kevin Clash and change your mind back again.
Indie Game The Movie (June 17)
This documentary chronicles the development of three high-profile independent video games: Braid, Super Meat Boy and Fez. If you are like me, you will feel the following about these game developers: Jonathan Blow (Braid) is a fascinating and thought-provoking video game genius, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refines (Super Meat Boy) are passionate and likable dudes who deserve all their success, and Phil Fish (Fez) is a whiny asshole who should choke on his own tears.
Black Circle Boys (June 18)
This movie, the tale of a teen who falls in with a badass group of occulty goths, simply oozes 90’s-ness. It’s not really very good, but if you’re feeling nostalgic for stuff like The Craft or The Crow, this might scratch that itch.
Bad Ass (June 18)
This movie was inspired by the “Epic Beard Man” incident made famous on YouTube, but what makes it so great is that it gives the always-entertaining Danny Trejo the chance to shine in a leading-man capacity. Unlike Machete, Trejo’s character here is actually allowed some genuine emotions and an actual personality, and it’s awesome how much he makes of this opportunity. Another interesting thing about this movie is that an important bus chase scene appears to be comprised almost entirely of footage stolen from the Schwarzenegger film Red Heat, except with close-ups of Arnold and James Belushi replaced with close-ups of Trejo. I’ve never seen a movie steal an entire scene from another movie, and it’s fucking crazy and ballsy and I love it.
Wedlock (June 20)
The name sounds like a romantic comedy, but this is actually a passable early-90’s action flick starring Rutger Hauer. It reminded me a little bit of No Escape mixed with Fled, so if that sounds appealing, go for it!
Judge Dredd (June 27)
Remember the mid-90’s, when every big-budget action movie felt the need to pair the hero with a totally annoying comedian? Judge Dredd is the perfect example of that, shackling Sly Stallone to an unbearable Rob Schneider. This trend went away for a while, but since Arnold’s big comeback movie is going to costar Johnny fucking Knoxville, I guess it’s coming back. Blech.
Special When Lit (June 27)
A mildly entertaining documentary about pinball enthusiasts. This is more or less the same as every other documentary about people who are really into things, so if you like those, this one is fine.
Blank Check (June 27)
There is no way the kid in this movie could do everything he does with only a million dollars! I feel like he spends like 20 million at least! Because I am a dork, this nitpick actually kinda bugged me throughout the movie, but besides that, this is tons of fun in the Home Alone vein.
The Killing Jar (June 29)
The setting and premise of this movie brought to mind one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? Not because there are any sci-fi elements to the movie, but the “strangers stuck in a diner with someone dangerous” element is totally up my alley. But oh my god The Killing Jar is sooooo bad. So goddamn bad.
Rope (June 29)
The entirety of this Hitchcock suspensefest takes place in one room, which makes it feel more like a stage play than a movie, but I kind of like that. This one pulls a pretty neat trick – making you completely hate its despicable lead characters, but also feel a shitload of tension on their behalf. These guys are awful sociopaths, so why am I so worried about bad things happening to them?? Well played, Hitchcock. As a bonus, Jimmy Stewart appears in this movie without having his tongue shoved down a throat 1/8th his age.
Brave (July 1)
Brave is an excellent movie, but it just doesn’t stack up to the majority of Pixar’s output, or even to Disney’s recent non-Pixar animated movies. The main problem is that the film never quite figures out what it wants to be: a comedy, a heartwarming mother-daughter drama, a sweeping adventure story, or a traditional Disney princess fairy tale. Most Disney movies manage to keep one foot in all of those genres without the movie feeling disjointed, but something about Brave doesn’t quite click perfectly. But at the end of the day, those are almost impossibly high standards to aspire to, so we can forgive Brave for being merely great instead of ohmygodthebestthingever!! As a final thought, I will say this: If I were the creator of the TV show Jane and the Dragon, I would sue the pants off of Disney.
Goon (July 1)
This hockey comedy sure had a hell of a lot of hockey in it! In spite of that, it managed to mildly entertain me, which is more than I can say about most sports-themed movies.
Fear Island (July 1)
Predictable but fun teen slasher whodunnit.
Hostel Part III (July 1)
This is the movie which transitions the Hostel franchise from effectively scary horror to cornball bullshit. Every horror franchise that lasts more than a couple of films goes through this change, and I usually don’t mind it that much. There’s only so far you can stretch a premise like the one in Hostel so you might as well just say fuck it and go nuts. This movie does just that.
Don’t Go in the Woods (July 1)
Speaking of nuts, here’s Don’t Go in the motherfucking Woods. Okay, I think we can all agree that using an awful low-budger slasher movie as a vehicle to showcase a rock band’s songwriting is a million dollar idea to begin with, right? But get this: what if the band is unbelievably, spectacularly awful? This movie is the worst thing ever made, and it’s a delight. I was singing this song for days:
Nazis at the Center of the Earth (July 2)
THIS MOVIE IS FUCKING PERFECT. It has everything you could possibly ever want to see: Nazis, centers of Earths, frankensteins, Jake Busey, UFOs, robot Hitler… it’s got it all! This movie is pure, perfect entertainment. God bless you, The Asylum.
Take Me Home Tonight (July 2)
I AM A MAN ON THE VEEERGE OF AN ICE AAAAAAAHAHAAGE!!! Wait, what am I supposed to be talking about here? Oh yeah, Take Me Home Tonight sucked.
2001: A Space Odyssey (July 2)
This was my first time ever seeing this classic, and first of all – I get so many Simpsons jokes now! Second of all, holy shit this is a masterpiece. I was completely riveted the whole way through, and the ending sequence blew my mind out of my skull. I enjoyed this so much that I spent almost the entirety of the following day reading the Arthur C. Clarke novel from cover to cover. Man, this rules. Why did I wait until I was 32 years old to watch this??
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
The Amazing Spider-Man is very lucky that Catwoman and Elektra exist, because if they didn’t, this would be the worst superhero movie ever made, hands down. Let me count the ways: an awful, pointless “reimagining” of Spidey’s origin story, a horrible prick playing Peter Parker, a Goomba from Super Mario Bros. as the villain, Denis Leary’s endless “mayor of Tokyo” jokes, Denis Leary’s very existence… should I go on? The movie’s only redeeming quality is Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. She is completely believable and totally lovable… can’t wait for her to die horribly in part 2. Fuck this movie.
ROT: Reunion of Terror (July 5)
Forget Me Not (July 5)
An unfortunate, though brief, series of poor Netflix decisions.
2010: The Year We Make Contact (July 7)
While I was still temporarily obsessed with 2001: A Space Odyssey, I decided to check out its sequel, and I was disappointed to say the least. It’s not that this movie is awful on its own merits – it’s reasonably passable sci-fi schlock. But not only does it pale in comparison to its brilliant predecessor, it actually manages to rob the first film of some of it’s mystique and intrigue. So as far as I’m concerned, this one goes into the “Does Not Exist” pile along with Terminator 3.
The Baxter (July 7)
I loved The State and I loved Wet Hot American Summer, so how come I can’t bring myself to enjoy anything else these guys have done? The Baxter actually has a really interesting premise – what’s it like to be the shitty boyfriend who gets left behind at the end of every romantic comedy? There’s a lot of potential in that! But as much as it tries, the film can’t seem to mine any really funny material from that premise, so the whole thing just sort of falls flat. I like the idea! I hope someone tries again!
Skyline (July 7)
Yeesh is this one a stinker. A bunch of annoying young people and Angel Batista from Dexter are stuck in a high-rise apartment building during an alien invasion. You’ll find yourself feeling a sense of mild euphoria every time one of these assholes die, and you’d better hang on to that feeling for dear life, because it’s the only enjoyment you’ll be able to extract from this turd.
The Karate Kid Part III (Rifftrax version) (July 8)
I was disappointed to discover that this wasn’t the one with the girl, but Ralph Macchio more than made up for it with his manic, insane acting style. Did Daniel San always carry himself like a 3am cokehead, and I just didn’t remember? Or was it a new twist he added for part 3? In any case, I love it so much, and so do the Rifftrax guys.
Radioactive Dreams (July 8)
Radioactive Dreams is the best kind of crazy! John Stockwell and Michael Dudikoff star as two brothers who behave like hardboiled 1940’s private eyes, but they exist in a Mad Max-esque post-apocalypse populated with mutants, punks and cannibals. Add in a truly incredible soundtrack, and you have the recipe for a can’t-miss fucking freakshow.
Teen Witch (July 8)
Somehow this late-80’s/early-90’s teen supernatural goof-fest was never on my radar, but I’m glad I finally saw it, because it’s delightful. I’d put this in the same rough category as stuff like My Boyfriend’s Back and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie), so if you’re into that kind of thing, give this one a watch.
It’s a Boy Girl Thing (July 9)
I generally like body-switch comedies, but this one gets pretty obnoxious and preachy with its stupid-ass “boys and girls are different, but not so different after all” message. Girls like clothes and feminism! Guys like football and being gross! Girls and guys are both just trying to grow up and find their way in this topsy-turvy world!
The Andromeda Strain (July 9)
This movie has to be at least 72 hours long. This fucking movie seriously has to be at least three full days long.
Watchers (July 9)
Here is another movie from the 80’s that is directly up my alley, but which I somehow never heard of until this year! Corey Haim and a genetically-enhanced super-intelligent dog fight other, eviler genetically-enhanced super-intelligent dogs. It’s not quite as perfect as that description makes it sound, but it’s still damn good.
Stranded (July 11)
So I randomly chose this sci-fi movie on Netflix, and it’s going along and I’m watching it, and it’s pretty much like any other shitty astronaut movie I’ve ever seen, when ALL OF A SUDDEN, OUT OF NOWHERE, JOHNNY RAMONE!
You have to skip ahead to about the 4-minute mark of that YouTube video to see the scene from the movie. Now imagine you’re me, and you had no idea this was coming, and then Johnny Ramone was suddenly in your face with a Hitler haircut saying things like “As you know, Mars has no planetary magnetic fields.” I thought maybe I had accidentally taken acid or something. Best surprise ever! Besides Johnny, however, the movie is pretty crap.
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (July 12)
I’ve lived in New York City my whole life, but somehow I’d never heard of the legendary Toynbee tiles. As a result, I found this documentary on the mysterious and clearly insane art pieces pretty riveting. The movie doesn’t really find a definitive answer as to what the hell is up with these tiles, but I feel like it comes reallllly close, and that wound up being good enough for me.
Spider-Man 3 (July 12)
Now that there’s a Spider-Man movie in existence which is even worse than this one, I thought I’d go back and see if maybe Spider-Man 3 wasn’t as bad as I remembered it being. No such luck – it’s actually worse than I remembered. But upon this viewing, I think I put my finger on what makes the film especially tragic. It’s not just that it’s an unbearably awful third movie which follows two brilliant movies – that’s par for the course with superhero series. But this one actually goes out of its way to undermine the perfect awesomeness of the first two movies. Sandman actually killed Uncle Ben? Fuck you. The butler knew the whole time that Spider-Man didn’t kill Norman Osbourne but didn’t say anything, thereby allowing Harry to descend into revenge-driven madness for no reason? Eat my shit. Ugh ugh ugh. And the saddest part is, it’s still better than The Amazing Spider-Man.
License to Drive (July 12)
Oh License to Drive, how can I even begin to thank you for all the cherished childhood memories you’ve provided me with? Not only did you show me the wonders of a coffee-balancing James Avery, and not only did you jumpstart my own childish fantasies of how cool it was gonna be when I could actually drive a car, but I’m pretty sure you also provided me with my very first boner, via Heather Graham. I must confess, License to Drive, that I was a little afraid you wouldn’t live up to my memories. I was wrong, of course. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, License to Drive.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (July 13)
It was Friday the 13th, so of course I decided to watch a Friday the 13th movie. While this isn’t the best Jason movie, it does contain some important milestones for the series – it’s the movie where an adult Tommy Jarvis finally faces off against Jason, which to me is pretty much the equivalent of Batman fighting The Joker. More importantly, this is really the first instance of Jason being portrayed as some sort of unkillable supernatural zombie, instead of just a deformed and deranged human being. This concept is taken to insane extremes in later films, but its origins lie right here, in a simple bolt of resurrection lightning. Jason lives indeed.
12 Monkeys (July 15)
This movie is not very good! There, I said it! Go fuck yourselves!
Humanoids From the Deep (July 15)
I don’t remember this one very much. I think it was pretty boring. I don’t know how a movie called Humanoids From the Deep could manage to be boring, but hey, here we are.
Absentia (July 15)
If you were to read a bare-bones description of Absentia‘s plot, it would seem like a run-of-the-mill monster movie. However, even though that element is present, the movie wisely shifts focus away from it most of the time, choosing instead to concentrate deeply on the characters’ emotional journeys. The result is a horror-tinged exploration of grief, loss and acceptance, which makes this a uniquely powerful film. Unfortunately, it also makes it slightly dull at points, so I think it could maybe have used a teensy bit more monster mayhem to balance it all out more effectively.
Occupant (July 15)
This suspense/horror movie about a guy who traps himself in his dead grandmother’s apartment for a week in order to take over her rent-controlled lease is D-U-M-B with a capital UMB. There are at least 50 times during this movie when you’ll say to yourself, “Wait that doesn’t make sense” or “What does this have to do with anything?” or “Well, what about before, when…” or something similar. Literally nothing here makes sense. We start with a nonsensical premise, add in about a thousand mysterious red herrings that never get explained, and end with the stupidest and most cliche “twist” ending imaginable. In fact, the twist is so cliche that I bet if you start rattling off possible horror movie twists, you’ll hit on it within three guesses. Give it a try, I’ll wait………………………. Did you guess that the main character himself was the killer all along? Congratulations, you’ve seen movies before. Now you don’t have to see this one.
Bereavement (July 15)
Malevolence (July 15)
These are two movies in a series, and I accidentally watched the second one first, but that turned out to be kinda-sorta okay because it’s actually a prequel. These are really fucked up serial killer movies, and they’re awesome. I recommend watching the first one first and the second one second.
Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story (July 16)
Another day, another fucking documentary on Netflix. This one, as you might have guessed, is about the board game Monopoly, focusing on both the history of the game’s development, as well as the current Monopoly Championship competitions. I learned at least two interesting things about Monopoly from this movie:
1 – Did you know that the original version of Monopoly, called The Landlord’s Game, was intended to be an anti-capitalist criticism on the evils of land grabbing? Ironic how the game has become such a powerful symbol of greed and ruthless business practices!
2 – Did you know that official Monopoly tournaments use a fucking stupid rule set which includes speed dies? I was shocked to learn this. Who the hell plays Monopoly that way?? No one I’ve ever known, but apparently that’s the “official” way to play it. Over my dead body, I say!.
Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (July 17)
This is an attempt at a Spinal Tap-esque mockumentary about a downtrodden horror movie director, and it’s awful beyond belief. Dante from Clerks is far and away the funniest person in this movie, so that should give you some idea of the level of quality we’re dealing with here..
The Three Stooges (July 17)
I love the Stooges quite a bit, and I was so ready to hate this movie. No one but the Stooges could be the Stooges! This is sacrilege! Let’s burn it all down! But to my surprise, this movie is HILARIOUS and honors the spirit of the Stooges more faithfully than I ever imagined could be possible. If you love the Three Stooges and are worried that this movie will piss on their grave (I assume they’re all buried in a single grave), rest easy. This is the real deal..
The Raven (July 17)
The Raven is mystifying to me. Who the hell could have possibly ever thought it would be a good idea to cast John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe?? I mean, at some point, somebody had to think of that idea, right? And then some other people had to greenlight it? Nowhere in that process did anyone stop and say, “Wait a minute, guys – do you realize that we’re casting John fucking Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe? Hahaha, what the hell are we doing? We’re fired!” I guess not, because this movie exists, and it is the worst movie of 2012.
The Punisher (1989) (July 17)
This movie is nowhere near as bad as its reputation would indicate. In fact, if you can get past the fact that it has almost nothing to do with Punisher comic books, you’ll find that it’s a very entertaining 80’s action movie..
Creature (July 18)
I like swamp monsters as much as the next guy – probably much, much more than the next guy, actually – but this movie was pretty weak. The creature itself is totally adorable though!
Serial Killing 101 (July 18)
This movie was pretty bad as a whole, but Thomas Haden Church is awesome in it. That’s about the nicest thing I can think to say.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (July 19)
This is probably my favorite movie of all time. There are so many things in this movie I am a sucker for: noir detective stories, Disney cartoons, crazy-ass crossovers, Christopher Lloyd. Get some talented filmmakers to smash all those elements together and the result is a once-in-a-liftime masterpiece. Disney needs to bring Roger back!
Batman Begins (July 19)
In preparation for the release of The Dark Knight Rises, I revisited the first film in Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and man, it is so goddamn good. Focusing a movie so much on Bruce’s time spent training abroad was a stroke of genius, and never before nor since has Gotham City felt so real and so alive. Plus, Christian Bale’s batvoice hadn’t yet descended into total ridiculousness yet. Watching this got me so fucking excited for the new Batman movie.
Rampage (July 20)
Having Rampage on this list forces me to admit that my decision to watch it at this time was a direct reaction to the Dark Knight Rises shooting. I don’t know if that makes me a sicko or what, but I couldn’t get that shit off my mind, and I guess watching this was how I dealt with it? I don’t know.
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
I’ll cut to the chase right away: The Dark Knight Rises is much, much shittier than the two other movies in this series. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s a pretty bad movie. But, you guys, I love Batman so much that I’m going to try to accentuate the positives here. So here are the things I liked about The Dark Knight Rises:
-They adapted one of my favorite Batman arcs, No Man’s Land, into a fucking movie! I feel like, with the No Man’s Land parts of this film, Nolan finally found the perfect balance between gritty realism and comic book silliness that a Batman movie needs. I mean, seeing Scarecrow as the Garbage King, forcing people to cross crazy ice traps, generated a tone that neither Nolan nor any other bat-filmmaker had managed to capture before, and it suits the bat-universe so perfectly. Unfortunately, this only made up a portion of the film as a whole, so I really hope that whoever takes the reins on this franchise next continues down this path.
-Similarly, seeing Batman and Catwoman fighting side by side was a thrill that we haven’t seen before, since all of Batman’s previous accomplices were old men in suits.
-The Robin thing was neat.
That’s about it, as far as positives go. Nearly everything else, from Bane to Talia to Bruce being imprisoned in Santa Prisca, to the ridiculous Bruce/Selina relationship, was half-ass and stupid. What a goddamn shame.
Drive (July 22)
I loved this movie, even though I wasn’t sure (and I’m still not sure) if Ryan Gosling is supposed to be retarded or not. I get the feeling that he was going for “cool and detached,” but it definitely came off as “retarded.” In spite of that (or, perhaps, because of that), I really enjoyed the hell out of this.
Brain Dead (July 23)
Pretty fun zombie flick with a fairly unique premise and some really killer gore. Definitely worth watching on a lazy Sunday when you’re in a zombie mood, which for me is nearly every day of my life.
Satan’s Little Helper (July 23)
This is an old favorite of mine, one I rented from Blockbuster on a couple different occasions in my mid-20’s. The tale of a pervy, Satan-obsessed little boy who gets duped into assisting a serial killer with his Halloween-night murders, this would fit in well on any October horror playlist. Also, the sister in the movie is super hot!
Curse of the Komodo (July 25)
Because I don’t remember much about this movie, here is an excerpt from a review by IMDB user seanymphette:
Finally, the end really ticked me off, because it made it glaringly apparent that the writers didn’t do their research, on the species they were exploiting in the film. In the finale, just as the last characters think they have escaped, and are on the beach awaiting their rescue transport, a gang of Komodos come toward them, THE END. Hello? Komodos are solitary creatures, they track prey by scent for days, ALONE! They’re an ANCIENT species of reptile, that adapted and escaped the last mass extinction. Their brains aren’t sophisticated enough to communicate to each other and launch an attack en masse, much less storm the beach to get their prey!
I have some advice for you, seanymphette. Fucking kill yourself.
Young Adult (July 25)
This was super depressing to the point of being difficult to watch, but I generally think of that as a good quality, so I loved this movie. Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt are awesome individually and have shockingly great chemistry together. I don’t think this film could have worked without that specific pairing of actors, so kudos to whoever decided to give Patton a chance here. This shit will make you cringe, it will make you cry, it will make you hate yourself a little bit, and just when you think it might get better, it gets worse. If you’re the type who appreciates that sort of thing, then I think you might like Young Adult as much as I did.
I’d never seen this one before. It’s pretty fun!
Sleepaway Camp (July 26)
Man, the first Sleepaway Camp is so awesome. What I love about it is the way it lulls you into complacency by disguising itself as a fun, goofy little teen slasher, and then it slams you with such a fucked up, psychologically terrifying ending. That shit haunted me the first time I saw it!
The Screaming Skull (MT3K version) (July 27)
This is one of my favorite MST3K installments, and one of the few episodes where I think the source material is actually a legitimately decent movie. That’s right, I think The Screaming Skull would be entertaining, suspenseful and pretty damn scary even without the riffs over it! Maybe I should watch it on its own one day and find out!
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (July 28)
I love the Professor Layton video games, and so I was really excited to check out this animated adaptation from the UK. Not surprisingly, it’s really really good, and manages to maintain the beautiful art style and mysterious storytelling of the games. What is kinda surprising is how well it incorporates the “puzzle-solving” mechanic of the games into a non-interactive medium. It’s all done really cleverly, and a must-see for fans of the series and true gentlemen everywhere.
Future Force (Rifftrax version) (July 28)
David Carradine stars in this obscenely shitty sci-fi action movie, and man do the Rifftrax guys use that opportunity to go nuts with autoerotic asphyxiation jokes! They usually don’t sink quite so low, and it’s actually kind of a bummer to hear them be so mean-spirited. Keep it classier in the future, dudes!
Ice Age: Continental Drift (August 1)
I’m pretty sure I’m bitched before about how the Ice Age movies represent the lowest point to which feature-length mainstream animation can sink, and that tradition continues with this latest sequel. If you’re ready to have your intelligence insulted once again with lowbrow humor, an endless parade of celebrity voices, awkwardly inserted pop music, and embarrassingly fraudulent sentimentality, then this is the piece of shit for you.
Tarzan Triumphs (August 3)
Tarzan’s New York Adventure (August 3)
I was babysitting my 9-year-old nephew when a Tarzan movie marathon came on TV, so I forced him to watch a couple of them with me. I was surprised how much fun these movies were, but it’s kinda disturbing to think about what they must have been doing to the animals to get them to do the crazy shit they do. I managed to put that out of my head though, and enjoy these for the delightful little romps they are. FUN FACT: Later in the year, during a visit to San Diego, I stayed at the beautiful and historic Lafayette Hotel, where the swimming pool was designed by Tarzan himself, Johnny Weissmuller!
Batman & Robin (August 6)
Potentially controversial opinion: I like this movie way, way better than Batman Forever. I feel like, with Forever, they were still trying to make a halfway decent movie, but failing horribly. With this one, they just didn’t give a fuck anymore, and they made a completely insane shitshow, and were fucking proud of it. Plus, this one has Arnold!
Hit So Hard (August 6)
Wow, there was a lot I didn’t know about Hole drummer Patty Schemel before I saw this documentary, and most of it is awful beyond belief. Did you know, for instance, that Patty was sneakily and passive-aggressively ousted from the band during the recording of Celebrity Skin, in favor of a session drummer? I didn’t. Did you know that this led to her becoming a homeless drug addict who prostituted herself for heroin? I sure as hell didn’t know that! This movie is shocking and depressing, but if you’re into Hole, it’s probably still worth watching.
Drive Me Crazy (August 6)
Fuck you, Drive Me Crazy is great! And The Donnas are in it!
Brainiac (Rifftrax version) (August 7)
Featuring one of the weirdest and worst movies ever riffed, this is of course hilarious.
21 Jump Street (August 8)
I never watched the TV show, so I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this reboot, but I wound up loving it! The biggest surprise for me was learning that Channing Tatum is fucking hilarious – who knew?? As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m very picky about comedies, but this one had me cracking up consistently throughout, so take that as you will.
The Hunger Games (August 11)
On the shittiness scale, I’d rate this as slightly more shitty than the Harry Potter films, and slightly less shitty than the Twilight films. What that means is that this is watchable enough that you won’t turn it off in disgust, but you will often be bored or feel like your intelligence is being insulted. So, I mean, it’s not the worst thing ever, but there’s no reason to ever watch it if you can avoid doing so.
Shark Night (August 11)
This was a really crappy shark movie. The best part of it was this music video:
Jersey Shore Shark Attack (August 11)
Now this is more like it! I know you won’t believe me, but this is the funniest, most charming and imaginative b-movie I have seen in ages! Most of that is due to the likable and talented cast, the witty but good-spirited skewering of Jersey Shore, and the parade of incredible celebrity guest stars (including Paul Sorvino, Paulie Walnuts, and in a scene-stealing bit role, Joey fucking Fatone). I know you probably think I must be nuts, but trust me – this movie is wonderful!!
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (August 11)
This movie is just as bad as Part 2 was, but I have to admit that I am seriously wowed by the special effects in this series. Unlike most CGI creations, which look like shitty video game characters who obviously aren’t really there, the robots here look convincing as fuck. It really looks like enormous metal machines are bouncing around and punching each other, and it’s always entertaining to see that in action. Besides that, this is long and boring and stupid and lame. Just go watch the first one again.
Detention (August 13)
This movie, a sci-fi/horror teen comedy with a focus on 90’s nostalgia, has a lot of really interesting ideas, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was just trying way too hard to be quirky and wacky. A lot of people whose opinions I respect loved Detention, but for me the whole thing just came off as disingenuous and ploying.
The Corridor (August 19)
This is a piece of crap in which a bunch of old friends get together for a reunion in the woods, where they encounter a mysterious corridor of light that turns them into zombies. Did I mention it’s a piece of crap? It’s a piece of crap.
Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf (August 19)
Medium Raw is set in a spooky asylum filled with villanous inmates with colorful codenames, bizarre quirks, and in a couple of cases, flashy costumes. It’s a really dumb movie, but its obvious similarity to Arkham Asylum rendered me helpless to its charms. I mean, one of the inmates is a huge dude named The Bull who becomes enraged when he sees the color red. If that isn’t straight out of Batman comics, I don’t know what is! This sucky movie rules.
Snowbeast (2011) (August 20)
I love love love the original Snowbeast, a hilariously insane b-movie from the 70’s, so my widdle heart was broken by this boring, heartless remake.
All About Steve (August 21)
If you’re only going to listen to one episode of How Did This Get Made?, make it this one. The folks on the podcast compare the romantic comedy All About Steve to a horror movie, and that’s really on point. Sandra Bullock’s character, meant to be cute and sexy and quirky, comes off like a raving pyscho stalker who should probably be removed from society. I don’t know if the part was written that way or if it’s a result of Ms. Bullock’s acting choices, but however this happened, the end result is shocking and hilarious to witness. Watch the movie and listen to the podcast.
Blown Away (August 22)
There was a time in my life when seeing Jamie from Charles in Charge‘s tits was pretty much the most important thing in the world to me. So vitally important that it was worth sitting through this movie for. Sadly, that time has passed.
Mean Girls (August 25)
She’s the Man (August 25)
So I’m in Miami, Florida in late August as the first part of an awesome two-part vacation which will next take me to Los Angeles. My flight from MIA to LAX is all booked and ready to go when Hurricane Isaac hits, and I am rescheduled to a new flight at fucking 5:45am the following morning. Making a 5:45am flight means waking up at, what, like 1 in the morning, right? So the only solution is to just stay up all night, chugging coffee, and watching whatever’s on TV in the middle of the night, which turned out to be a pair of teen girl movies. I’d never seen either of these before, and maybe it was just my exhaustion-induced delirium, but they were both enjoyable enough to prevent me from passing out and being stuck for another day in the worst city in America.
The Great Mouse Detective (September 4)
This era of Disney animation is generally regarded as a really dark period, but I think The Great Mouse Detective is really underrated. Even if everything else in the movie was garbage (which it isn’t), the presence of Vincent Price alone makes it worthwhile.
ParaNorman (September 5)
A funny, spooky, charming stop-motion romp which should warm the heart of any horror fan. But what really makes this movie important is how it presents its fairly heavy message about tolerance and mutual understanding without getting too preachy. There is one part in particular (which I won’t ruin) that I actually think is somewhat revolutionary, and even if this movie sucked, the filmmakers would have to be commended for their unparalleled treatment of this theme. Luckily, it doesn’t suck at all. If I have one complaint about the movie, it’s that I wish the character design wasn’t so blah and generic, but by now I’m pretty used to that in any animated film not made by Disney.
A Goofy Movie (September 5)
Speaking of Disney, here’s Goofy’s movie! An extension of the Goof Troop TV show, this is one of those father/son stories that will break your heart into tiny pieces before gluing it back together again. But putting all of that aside, I have one question: Who is Max’s mom?? A quick Google search reveals an “answer” from Disney, but it’s a bullshit answer. We want Mrs. Goofy, Disney, and we want her now!
Jaws 4: The Revenge (September 5)
I wrote a piece a while back about how much I loved the Jaws video game for the NES. What I didn’t realize until September 5, 2012 was that this game was specifically based on Jaws 4! I spent so many hours playing the game’s airplane bonus round, and never had any idea I was controlling a tiny little 8-bit Michael Caine! I like the game more than ever now!
Trigger Finger (September 6)
So I went to visit my friend David Hunter in Los Angeles, and he proudly handed me a DVD copy of a full-length motion picture that he had co-written. I dread moments like these – what if his movie was awful? What would I say? Luckily, that wasn’t a problem, as the film turned out to be a very entertaining crime/mystery story. I would have been proud of my friend for making a movie even if the movie sucked, but now I am super proud of my friend! Hooray!
Dark Shadows (September 6)
At this point, I am almost ashamed to admit when I like a Tim Burton movie, but yeah, I liked this one a lot. I’ve never seen the soap opera upon which it is based, but I appreciated the clever ways in which the film apes the conventions of soaps – characters awkwardly flowing in and out of the story, ridiculous plot developments that come out of left field, wackadoo family dynamics… it’s a subtle little touch from a filmmaker not usually known for subtlety. The worst parts of the film are all of the “fish out of water” sequences, which tread well-worn comedic ground, but they’re easy enough to tolerate when there’s so many other cool things going on. Good work, Tim Burton.
The Loved Ones (September 6)
This movie was a really fun and interesting mix of teen drama and torture porn, very worthwhile for people like me who enjoy both of those things.
The Expendables 2 (September 8)
While the original Expendables was a tour de force for action fans, it had a couple of problems… namely, Mickey Rourke’s pointless sobfest, and not enough Arnold and Bruce. Luckily, the sequel solves both of these issues and as a result, manages to be even more of a kickass thrill ride than the original. I cannot fucking wait for The Expendables 3, which adds Jackie Chan (!) and Nicholas Cage (!!!!!!!) into the mix.
The Final (September 8)
This movie was pretty boring, so instead of talking about it, I’m going to think of words that rhyme with “final.” Vinyl. Spinal. Vaginal. You’re welcome, struggling rap artists.
The Caller (September 8)
When I threw this on Netflix, I expected it to be just another dumb thriller that I could have on in the background while I played Thunderstone on my ipad. To my surprise, I ended up really enjoying this suspenseful, time-travelly movie!
Secret Admirer (September 9)
Awesome 80’s teen romance movie starring C. Thomas Howell, Kelly Preston and Aunt Becky Katsopolis. You know the drill – if you like these kinds of movies, you’ll like this one.
Candyman: The David Klein Story (September 9)
No, this isn’t the Candyman, but is rather a super depressing documentary about the man who invented Jelly Belly jellybeans and then got royally screwed over. David Klein seems like such a dece dude, and watching his rise and fall is a serious bummer. The movie tries its best to piece together a happy ending, since David now has his own little company which makes novelty crap like candy boogers and farts, but to me that’s even more depressing.
V/H/S (September 12)
As an enjoyer of both found-footage films and horror anthologies, I was pretty excited to see V/H/S. However, it was pretty underwhelming for the most part. The best segment is the final one, which features a really fun and awesome haunted house, but the rest are mediocre at best. Don’t get me wrong – this is not completely awful, insulting garbage like Chillerama, but it is pretty skippable.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 (September 13)
Unlike most batfans, I do not count Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns among my favorite Batman stories. I do like it, however, and I was really skeptical that it could be properly adapted into a movie. But, by god, they appear to have done it! It’s awesome to see all the iconic moments from the book (well, the first half of the book) play out, and the animation is gorgeous. I take issue with some of the voice choices, but the brief teaser at the end of Benjamin Linus as The Joker more than makes up for it. I’m excited as hell for Part 2, and if nothing else, this is by far the best Batman movie to come out in 2012.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (September 16)
I went through a pretty major H.P. Lovecraft phase at around this time, speedreading my way through his complete works, most of which I was experiencing for the first time. One story that really stood out for me was the fantasy novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Having more in common with Narnia-type stuff than the creeping horror Lovecraft is usually known for, it surprised and enthralled me. This version is less of a “movie” and more of an extended motion comic of a graphic novel adaptation of the story by Jason Thompson. But even though the animation here is minimal, the art is breathtakingly beautiful, and this is probably the closest we’ll ever come to a film version of this story. Therefore, Lovecraft fans should definitely give this a watch.
Prometheus (September 16)
I only saw the Alien movies for the first time a couple of years ago, so perhaps my lack of fandom is why Prometheus seemed like a big, boring turd of a movie to me. Or, perhaps, it actually is a big, boring turd of a movie. I guess I’ll never know.
Following (September 16)
This was the only Christopher Nolan film I hadn’t yet seen, and it was… okay, I guess? I mean, it was enjoyable enough, but it’s definitely his second-worst film next to Insomnia. That makes it worse than The Dark Knight Rises, which is pretty bleh!
Die, Monster, Die! (September 16)
The Resurrected (September 16)
Re-Animator (September 16)
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown (September 17)
The Crimson Cult (September 17)
More Lovecraft movies! These were fun to watch right after reading the stories upon which they were based, but I don’t really have a whole lot to say about any of them individually. Except that Die, Monster, Die! features the most adorable Lovecraft monster you will ever see:
Case 39 (September 18)
This was terrible, and if you’re in the mood for an “evil child” movie, you’d be much better off with The Good Son or Orphan.
Tales That Witness Madness (September 21)
Screamtime (September 21)
From a Whisper to a Scream (September 21)
Three anthology horror films in a row, and just a couple of months later, I don’t remember a damn thing about any of them. Sorry!
Inception (September 22)
I wrote about Inception in 2010. I liked it. It’s fun.
Waking Sleeping Beauty (September 23)
This documentary progresses from the mid-to-late 80’s, generally considered one of the darkest periods in Disney animation, through the early 90’s, generally considered one of the brightest. It’s a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the transitions the studio went through during that time, and a must-see for any Disney fan.
Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap (September 24)
The always-ridiculous Ice-T emcees this documentary about the history of hip hop. The movie suffers from a bit of a lack of focus, but it’s worth watching just to witness all the rhymes that get dropped, which range in quality from ill to def to straight-up fly.
Clue (September 27)
Imagine if Murder By Death had fewer British assholes in it, was actually funny, and was also one of the best movies ever made.
Barb Wire (September 28)
Few movies have been as appropriate for the How Did This Get Made? treatment as Barb Wire. It’s seriously one of the most bafflingly horrible things I’ve ever seen in my life, and I have trouble recommending it even for mockery purposes.
The Shining (September 30)
I rewatched this classic in anticipation of seeing Room 237 later in the week, and I was shocked that even after all these years, this shit still has the ability to chill me to the fucking bone. Jack Nicholson’s performance, the cinematography and the soundtrack all come together perfectly, but there’s something else about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Seeing Room 237 enlightened me by pointing out that the geography of the Overlook Hotel was intentionally obscured (characters enter a door from one side of a hallway and exit onto the opposite side, for example). This subtle tweaking ensures that the viewer never quite gets as grasp of the setting’s layout, which triggers a subconscious sense of disorientation and unease. You guys, I think maybe The Shining might be the scariest movie of all time. Thoughts?
Pearl Jam Twenty (September 30)
The problem with a documentary about Pearl Jam is that the band has had virtually zero drama during its entire 20-year career. So the movie’s narrative is basically like: These dudes formed a band, and then they gained a huge following, and then things were awesome for two decades. I think they most severe drama that’s documented in the film is the time when maybe Kurt Cobain might have implied that Pearl Jam sucks, and it hurt Pearl Jam’s feelings. That’s not enough intrigue to even fill an episode of Behind the Music, much less an entire movie.
Get Lamp (October 2)
This was a pretty good documentary on the early days of the graphic adventure video game genre. If you’re a huge fan of point-and-click games like I am, you should get a kick out of this. Oh, and in visiting the movie’s IMDB page, I discovered that the director has posted all of his raw interview footage online, so I can’t wait to dive into that!
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (October 3)
Usually I can take or leave most Troma movies, but based on the two semi-recent ones I’ve seen this year (spoiler alert!), the studio has really been killing it lately. Poultrygeist is the usual goofy-ass Troma fare, but it’s a musical, and it’s ridiculously fun. You already know whether or not you like Troma movies, and if you do, this is one of the better ones. A great start to the Halloween movie-watching season!
Room 237 (October 4)
Remember four movies ago when I was talking about Room 237 and you were like, “What the hell is Room 237?” You probably assumed it was a documentary about The Shining, and that’s kind of true but not entirely. What it’s actually about is several Shining fans who have developed elaborate theories about hidden messages within the movie. These range from the relatively reasonable (The Shining is a commentary on the plight of Native Americans) to tin-foil hat batshit (The Shining is Kubrick’s apology for helping the US government to fake the moon landing). Even though many of these theories are implausible (to say the least), I definitely can appreciate and respect the level of fandom and obsession necessary to come up with stuff like this. I thought the filmmaker presented these thoughts in a respectful and balanced way, but my friends who I saw it with felt the movie was mean-spirited and exploitative. Judge for yourself!.
Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor (October 5)
I love the Sleepaway Camp series, so when I stumbled upon a Part IV from 2012 that I’d never heard of, I had to watch it. It turns out what this really is is a half-hour of footage filmed in 1992 for a never-completed Sleepaway Camp sequel, interspersed with excerpts from the previous installments. Therefore, the whole thing plays like a sitcom clip show, which is kind of interesting as a sort of trivial artifact, but not very fun to watch when you could just go back and watch the original movies.
Chernobyl Diaries (October 5)
This was a pretty fun story about irradiated mutants surviving in the ruins of the Chernobyl disaster, and it contains one of the most awesome jump scares I’ve ever seen in a horror movie. Nothing groundbreaking here, but very entertaining.
Vampire Dog (October 5)
Norm MacDonald stars as a vampire dog in Vampire Dog, and you’ve probably already made up your mind that this has to be the best movie ever made. So had I. But it’s actually really disappointing! You’d be much better off just rewatching Spooky Buddies.
Exit Humanity (October 5)
At this point, even I’m getting a little bit bored and cynical about zombie movies, so this slow-paced, emotionally charged period piece set during the Civil War came as a pleasant surprise to me, and reinvigorated my love for the living dead. If you’re a zombie lover who is looking for a different approach, do not miss Exit Humanity.
The Mutilator (October 6)
Horror movie month continues with this run-of-the-mill but entertaining 80’s slasher flick.
Sick Boy (October 6)
On the other end of the zombie spectrum from Exit Humanity is this boring, stupid, aggressively predictable dud. When I use words like “dud” I feel like a real movie reviewer!
The Pit (October 6)
Take one part Satan’s Little Helper, a dash of Ghoulies and a bigass spoonful of the late 70’s, and you have this delightful movie in which a weird little kid finds a pit full of monsters in the woods and lures his enemies into it, all under the direction of his talking teddy bear.
Enchanted (October 7)
I got really into the TV show Once Upon a Time this year, and in trying to find similar stuff to watch, I stumbled upon this movie and OH MY GOD HOW HAD I NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE??? A Disney princess gets banished to modern day New York City by an evil witch, and the result is a reverent and hilarious tribute to the history and legacy of Disney animation. The music is fantastic, the animation is beautiful, and the cast embrace their roles wholeheartedly. I guess this movie wasn’t a big hit or something because somehow it never made it onto my radar… if you find yourself in that same boat, you should change that as soon as possible!
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (October 7)
And of course, Enchanted inspired me to revisit the film that started it all! What struck me most upon this reviewing was how much Walt Disney hedged his bets with this movie. A lot of people at the time were skeptical that the animated format could sustain a full-length motion picture, so Walt made sure to insert something to appeal to every possible taste – romance, comedy, action, adventure, musical numbers, and even a decent amount of mild horror elements. This strategy must have worked because Snow White jump started a whole new format for films, which it’s difficult to imagine a world without.
Hotel Transylvania (October 8)
On the other hand, we probably wouldn’t have movies like Hotel Transylvania if it wasn’t for Snow White, so fuck Snow White. This movie was, for the most part, truly dreadful. I thought there was one thing I liked about it – the heartwarming ending in which Dracula and the gang discover that humans nowadays love, rather than fear, monsters – but that I realized that ending was ripped off wholesale from an episode of DuckTales, so yeah, Hotel Transylvania has no redeeming qualities.
The Frighteners (October 8)
Michael J. Fox is a ghost-hunting conman in this delightful horror comedy from Peter Jackson. It’s so weird watching these older Peter Jackson movies, because there’s not even a hint of the type of filmmaking that brought us Lord of the Rings and King Kong. I like both Peter Jacksons!
Ernest Scared Stupid (October 9)
I used to love these movies, and I really wish I still did, but unfortunately I find Ernest to be Jim-Carrey-level annoying nowadays. Why am I cursed with such discerning tastes???
The Revenge of Dr. X (Rifftrax version) (October 9)
…and riffs and riffs and riffs and riffs…
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (October 10)
This was great! As is the case with most vampire fiction, there were parts that bored me a little bit, but the fun historical elements and magnificent action sequences more than made up for it. Plus, once again, Ramona Flowers!
The Guy From Harlem (Rifftrax version) (October 10)
The Rifftrax dudes take on their first blaxploitation movie, and the results are a hoot! I’ve seen Shaft before, but that’s it. Are all blaxploitation movies this hilariously bad? If so, I may have to delve into the genre!
The Pact (October 11)
They should have called this The Crapt.
Silent Hill (October 11)
The coolest thing about this movie is the relatively seamless way video game elements are weaved into the action. The way the protagonist spends most of the movie wandering around alone, ripping maps off walls and finding keys in dresser drawers, is so evocative of the source material without ever feeling awkward or out of place. The monsters are appropriately creepy and the violence is awesome as fuck, and things only start to fall apart at the very end. I think that makes this the best video game movie ever?
Rattlers (Cinematic Titanic version) (October 11)
The Bermuda Triangle (Rifftrax version) (October 11)
Bloody Pit of Horror (Rifftrax version) (October 12)
…and riffs and riffs and riffs and riffs…
Girl vs. Monster (October 12)
The blonde girl from Kickin’ It inherits her parents’ monster-hunting legacy in this charming Disney Channel original movie. Please don’t tell the police about this blog.
Easy A (October 12)
Young Lindsay Lohan is back in action in this sequel to Mean Girls.
The Tall Man (October 12)
I really liked this movie, and did not see its various twists and turns coming. I’ve seen a lot of people on the internet criticizing The Tall Man for its “message” being ethically unsound, and it’ll be difficult for me to opine on that here without giving away spoilers, but I’ll say that I thought the intention of the film was simply to make us think about these issues, not to take a solid stance on them. Sorry that’s so vague, but I really don’t want to give anything away. Watch the movie!
Patient Zero (October 15)
This extremely boring and pointless zombie-ish thriller has the look and feel of a SyFy original movie without any of the fun.
Friday the 13th (2009) (October 15)
I think Jason is scarier in this movie than he has been in years. I love that he’s back to being just a fucked up guy living in the woods, and I’m so into the idea of him setting up traps and secret tunnels and hooking up floodlights. I love that he doesn’t just shamble after you like an emotionless zombie, but aggressively chases you down, grunting and scrambling like a real person would. I really dig this version of Jason and I hope we get to see more of him at some point. Don’t steal Jason’s weed!
Super Mario Bros. (October 16)
I still remember all the emotions I felt when I saw this in the movie theater: confusion, betrayal, disappointment… but you know what? There was a little bit of giddy joy in there too, because while this is by no means an acceptable adaptation of the Super Mario Bros. video games, it is a weird, crazy, fun movie in its own right. Getting older and letting go of the part of me that hoped to see an actual Mario movie has allowed me to enjoy it more than ever, and if you can allow yourself to let go too, I think you might find that there’s a lot to appreciate here.
Future Zone (Rifftrax version) (October 17)
The sequel to Future Force. More autoerotic asphyxiation jokes. Whoop!
The Slammin’ Salmon (October 17)
Beerfest (October 18)
Finally checked out the two Broken Lizard films I hadn’t yet seen. They’re both pretty good, but The Slammin’ Salmon is the better of the two by far, due in no small part to a hilarious performance by the late, great Michael Clarke Duncan.
Paranormal Activity 3 (October 21)
Part of me is glad that there’s still a horror franchise with such frequent installments, because it reminds me of the glory days of Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th and their ilk. Another part of me hates that the franchise has to be something as crappy and stupid as Paranormal Activity. That second part of me is the dominant half.
Beneath the Dark (October 21)
Oh my god, if Beneath the Dark could suck its own dick, it totally would. This movie is going for some sort of Shining meets Twin Peaks vibe, and wants so badly to be deep and thought-provoking, but it is fucking diarrhea. Enjoy sucking your diarrhea dick, Beneath the Dark.
Wreckage (October 21)
Jesse Pinkman and a bunch of other goofballs star in this kinda whatever junkyard slasher flick. I think that dude is fantastic in Breaking Bad, but for some reason he’s pretty unbearable here. The TV show started in 2008 and this movie is from 2010, so it’s not like this was earlier in his career or something. Shrug.
The Simpsons Movie (October 21)
When this came out, I had already hated the TV show for close to ten years, and I remember being so pleasantly surprised by the movie, thinking it was a return to the glory days of The Simpsons. I’m sad to report upon rewatching it that my initial reaction must have been due to severely lowered expectations (or maybe it’s because I saw it with two of The Ergs, noted Simpsons apologists), because now this feels way more like the current Zombie Simpsons to me than the classic years. I think the only time I laughed during this viewing was when Chief Wiggum said, “You gotta learn to listen, Lou.” Bummer.
Wrong Turn (October 21)
I would step over all of your corpses just for the chance to eat Eliza-Dushku-in-a-wife-beater’s toenail clippings, but that’s just one of the many reasons I love Wrong Turn. The other reasons are… um… it’s scary, and there are awesome inbred cannibals, and that one girl gets axed to a tree trunk and her whole body below her jaw falls to the ground. Look, I just love this fucking movie, alright??
Safety Not Guaranteed (October 23)
This is one of those indie “manic pixie dream girl” type love stories, except in this case it’s more of a manic pixie dream guy. These types of films can be good when they’re done right (I think I’m the only human in the world who will admit to having liked Garden State), but this one is just awful beyond belief. In the movie’s defense, it is at least considerate enough to include this scene…
…so you can know the exact point at which you should completely stop giving a shit.
Thou Wilt War – A Film About Shattermask (October 30)
I was at The Fest in Gainesville, Florida when my friend Fletcher walked up to me, silently handed me a DVD-R labeled “SW DOC,” and walked away. Thinking it was some sort of rough cut of the now-cancelled Screeching Weasel documentary, my fiends and I excitedly threw the disc into the PS3 the next day. It turned out Fletcher is a jokester when it comes to labeling DVDs because this is really a self-made documentary about the douchiest band to ever live, Shattermask. This is one of those situations where the band (along with their tiny pocket of fans/friends) has delusions of grandeur – constantly talking about how they’re on the path to stardom, when all they’re doing is playing in shitty bars to 10 people, entering (and losing) Battle of the Band contests, and calling a rented tent in a backyard a “music festival”. Normally, this breed of pathetic delusion makes me really, really sad, but not when the band is full of disgusting lowlife rapists like Shattermask. In fact, their vile lead singer was actually charged with raping and sodomizing a teenager! What a great bunch of guys; I really hope they make it!
Silent Hill: Revelation (October 31)
As I said, I was in Florida at around this time, and was supposed to fly home to LaGuardia on Monday, October 29. When LGA was shut down completely until November 1, due to Hurricane Sandy, my friend Zack generously allowed my girlfriend and I to crash at his place in Orlando for the duration. This situation was obviously frustrating but in retrospect I am very happy it happened, because that’s how we wound up seeing Silent Hill: Revelation on Halloween night at a dine-in theater in Downtown Disney. Life doesn’t get much better than that! I’d never been to a dine-in theater before, and while the food was more or less on the TGIF/Applebee’s level, I found the experience to be really fun. Zack thought that having to interact with waiters during the movie was obnoxious and distracting, but whatever, it comes with the territory. The movie itself was awful, and that’s coming from a guy who loved the first Silent Hill. If you’ve been waiting your whole life to see Pyramid Head gleefully operating a merry-go-round, you’ll love the movie, but you also probably don’t exist.
Seed of Chucky (October 31)
The Halloween month of horror closes out with a late night TV viewing of Seed of Chucky. Zack confessed, to my dismay, that this and Bride of Chucky were the only Chucky movies he’d ever seen. I like these comedy spins on the character well enough, but my god, the three Child’s Play movies are so much better! Watch that shit, Zack! And thanks for the hospitality!
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (November 1)
Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead (November 1)
Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings (November 2)
Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines (November 2)
Back home, I treated myself to a little marathon of the Wrong Turn sequels, none of which I had seen before. Part 2 is pretty good, due mostly to the always-awesome presence of Henry Rollins. Part 3 is entertaining because of the comically-awful SyFy-esque special effects (I am a sucker for poorly rendered CGI blood; it makes me giddy). Parts 4 and 5 are just boring as hell.
Inbred (November 2)
Another movie about inbred murderers, except this one is from England. It’s a boring, nonsensical waste of time, which you probably already guessed when I said it was from England.
Snow White and the Huntsman (November 2)
Remember earlier when I claimed that The Raven was the worst movie of 2012? I take that back – this is the worst movie of 2012. Last year, I wrote this about the film Red Riding Hood:
Probably the single worst movie I saw all year. A stupid, insulting, derivative pile of Hot Topic vomit. Fuck this bullshit.
I’ll just reiterate that statement now, because this is essentially the same movie. Can we please stop with the Twilightization of classic fairy tales, please? It’s never going to work!
Blood Junkie (November 2)
I went into this movie sight unseen based upon a friend’s recommendation, and found myself enjoying the hell out of what I thought to be a cheesy Troma movie from the early 1980’s. Only afterwards did I discover that Blood Junkie is actually a Troma movie from 2010 which sought to emulate a Troma movie from the early 1980’s. This is unusually high-concept for Troma and they pull it off so flawlessly that I was completely fucking fooled! I wouldn’t have guessed it possible for Troma to pull something like this off, but by god they did it, and they possibly did it even better than The House of the Devil. Color me incredibly fucking impressed!
Wreck-It Ralph (November 3)
This is one of those cases where it almost feels like somebody must have inceptioned their way into my dreams to discover what would be the perfect movie for me. I mean, a Disney cartoon which features Tapper and Bowser?? Come the fuck on! I had been anticipated this movie for years, and it lived up to all my expectations and then some. Fantastic performances (particularly from Sarah Silverman and Alan Tudyk), an endless stream of incredibly clever video game jokes, and a huge dose of pure Disney magic make this into an instant classic for me. The plotting was also super tight, especially for a children’s movie… I especially loved the way important plot elements were often sneakily foreshadowed in the guise of simple throwaway jokes. If I had one complaint, it’s that the sudden shift halfway through from being a gaming-themed movie to a candy-themed movie felt a little bit awkward and disjointed. But the candy stuff was hilarious, so whatever! Man, Adam Sandler and the producers of the upcoming Candyland movie must have gone into full-on panic mode when they saw these segments! Anyway, Wreck-It Ralph fucking ruled so hard and if you haven’t seen it yet, what the hell are you waiting for?
Mission to Mars (November 4)
Like the aforementioned Tower of Terror, this is yet another movie based on a Disney theme park ride. I had previously been vaguely aware of this movie, but had no idea that it was based on a ride. Maybe that’s because the ride closed in 1993, a full 7 years before the release of the movie. Weird! Anyway, the movie itself is way more boring and grown-up-oriented than you’d expect, given the source material. It’s okay though, and way better than Prometheus, with which it shares extremely similar themes.
Remains (November 6)
I don’t know why the hell I bothered to watch this, because I pretty much hate everything Steve Niles has ever done. Even with that preexisting bias, I still couldn’t have anticipated just how dreadful this poorly-acted, by-the-numbers zombie movie would end up being. It fucking sucks, really really badly.
Archie – To Riverdale and Back Again (November 7)
Long before I discovered superheroes or even Carl Barks duck comics, I was so into Archie! And even by the time I was a 10-year-old Batman devotee, I was still poring over my dogeared Double Digests, so this made-for-TV movie blew my mind at the time! It’s still entertaining and nostalgic now, even if it obviously feels quite dated, and the sprinklings of soap-opera-level sexuality feel really out of place in the wide-eyed innocent Archie universe. I’m not sure who exactly who this movie was aimed at, but I liked it at 10 and I still like it at 32, so I guess the answer is me.
Meet the Robinsons (November 8)
Here was a Disney cartoon I still needed to check off my “must-see” list so, with the excitement of Wreck-It Ralph still fresh in my mind, I figured now was the time. Not surprisingly, the movie was really sweet and charming, succeeding at its stated goal of honoring the legacy and imagination of Walt Disney. I also loved the villain, who in retrospect almost seems like an early prototype of Dr. Doofenshmirtz. If I have one complaint, it’s that the art design of the film is kind of ugly, but since this was one of Disney proper’s very early forays into computer animation, that can be forgiven.
Ted (November 9)
I despise every soulless, ugly, pandering thing Seth MacFarlane has ever done, so I’m not sure why I thought Ted would be any better, but for some strange reason I did think that. I was very, very wrong.
Looper (November 10)
I seem to be in a minority of one, in that I thought this movie was really bad. As a science fiction film, the concepts here – including the central premise of the movie – make absolutely no sense. As an action film, the majority of the movie involves people sitting in a farmhouse chatting with each other. As a movie with a twist ending, the twist is insultingly nonsensical. Every single one of my friends loved Looper, and it has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so I dunno, maybe it’s just me? It’s probably just me. Go watch Looper; you’ll love it.
Fat Kid Rules the World (November 11)
A buddy of mine co-wrote this sweet tale of a fat teen coming of age via punk rock, and it’s a really good movie, and I’m very proud of him! However, should he read this, I hope he doesn’t take offense at me saying that I don’t know if this movie could have worked so well without the truly stellar performances of the cast – particularly the titular fat kid, and Darren Richmond from The Killing as his father. There are moments when this movie falls into familar “coming-of-age” tropes, but I generally find that kind of thing so, so easy to forgive, especially in a film as charming as this one.
Cobra (November 11)
I’d never seen this! I watched it because of How Did This Get Made?! It’s unbelievably awesome!
Boggy Creek II (MST3K version) (November 12)
As I said earlier, MST3K is at its best when the movie being riffed features a character so outlandish that there can be no possible shortage of jokes at his expense. Boggy Creek II has that in spades with Old Man Crenshaw, a bog-dwelling hillbilly so wonderful and memorable that he truly deserves Torgo-esque status.
Nightmare at Noon (Rifftrax version) (November 15)
Galaxy Invader (Rifftrax version) (November 15)
These two installments of Rifftrax (which I coincidentally watched back to back) are both notable for their connections to earlier riffs from this crew. Nightmare at Noon is a remake of Mutant (remember when I said it would come up again?), featuring the same main cast (give or take one George Kennedy), the same plot, and released a mere four years later! I would say that’s completely unprecedented but, well, Evil Dead II exists. The Galaxy Invader connection is even more exciting, to me anyway. For years I’d watched the MST3K episode The Pod People and wondered why the scene silently playing underneath the opening credits didn’t seem to have anything to do with the rest of the movie, and wasn’t even really thematically related. It almost seemed as if they ripped that scene from an entirely different movie. Well, they did! And The Galaxy Invader is the movie! An age-old mystery solved!!
Madison County (November 19)
A month and a half after watching it, I remember very little about this horror movie, except that it’s of the “this town don’t cotton well to outsiders” ilk, and that it’s dumb. When I went to its IMDB page just now to refresh my memory, I noticed that the link to actress Natalie Scheetz’s profile was highlighted, indicating that it had been recently clicked, so I guess I must have had the hots for her or something. Oh, month-and-a-half-ago-me, you rascal!
Airborne (November 19)
Ever since I read The Langoliers as a child, I’ve been a sucker for spooky airplane stories. There’s nowhere to run! This movie is full of zombies and terrorists and fat British Mark Hamills, and it’s a great time.
My Step-Dad’s a Freakin’ Vampire (November 20)
Really fun kiddie horror/adventure. You already know, just based on the title, whether or not you’ll like this movie, so act accordingly.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (November 20)
Because of How Did This Get Made?, I had to download a filmed-at-the-theater bootleg torrent of the latest fucking Twilight movie. The copy I downloaded had its audio and video off-sync by over a minute, and I barely noticed – it never really made any difference when each embarrassing, hokey line of dialogue was being spoken, or by which bland, one-dimensional character. I saw the original Twilight movie a couple of years ago, and I was shocked that a movie could be that big a hit without a single thing happening in it. I figured that by the dramatic climax of the series, that had to have improved, but even less happens in this movie! I mean, there’s a big vampire/werewolf fight at the end, but (spoiler alert!) it turns out not to be real. This shit is really, really, really, really bad.
ThanksKilling 3 (November 21)
I loved the original ThanksKilling, so I was really looking forward to this follow-up. First of all, a note for the uninitiated: In spite of its title, this is actually the first sequel to ThanksKilling. In fact, the plot revolves around the characters searching for a DVD copy of the “lost” film ThanksKilling 2 – a gag I’m surprised nobody else has used in the 25 years since Mel Brooks dreamed it up in Spaceballs. Anyway, ThanksKilling 3 is very impressive in a number of ways. Whereas the first movie was a simple low-budget slasher about a killer turkey, this one – I shit you not – delves into the dark fantasy route pioneered by films like Labyrinth. There are only one or two actual humans in the movie, with the rest of the cast being really amazing-looking puppets, and the special effects are surprisingly well-done for this type of flick. Ultimately, however, ThanksKilling 3 collapses under the weight of its own ambition – a bigger story leads to too many dull exposition scenes, and the sweeping epic nature of the narrative really clashes with the filmmaker’s poo-poo-fart-fuck sense of humor. It’s a shame, because you can tell a lot of love and heart was put into ThanksKilling 3, but in the end, it just doesn’t work for me. Hopefully things will come together better for ThanksKilling 5.
Brick (November 25)
A film noir-style mystery set in the world of high school social cliques may sound like a dumb idea, but it works really well here, mostly due to an incredible performance by Joseph Gordon Levitt as the hardboiled teen detective. The plot of Brick is interesting enough, but style rather than substance is what really makes this movie soar. While that approach often falls flat, the style here is just so damn cool that it all comes together perfectly.
Monster Brawl (November 29)
A wrestling league made up of classic monsters sounds like a fun premise, but it’s handled very poorly in this movie. Structured to emulate a televised wrestling tournament, Monster Brawl is simply fight after fight after fight, with brief “bio” segments for the various monsters in between. The end result is a long, maddeningly monotonous repetition of the same jokes over and over again. Decent idea; dreadful execution. How did poor Dave Foley get dragged into this mess?
Tourist Trap (Rifftrax version) (November 29)
sigh …and riffs and riffs and riffs and riffs…
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (December 3)
I absolute adore the series of books from which this film is adapted (and, incidentally, I think Lemony Snicket’s brand new novel might be even better), and this movie is a decent attempt to bring them to the big screen except that someone somewhere got the bright idea to cast Jim Carrey as the villain. He hams it up to a Grinch-like degree here, ruining a perfectly awesome bad guy in the process. I know Jim Carrey is capable of prioritizing the tone of the story over his own obnoxious capering – he does just fine in stuff like The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine. So why can’t he do it here? It’s really too bad, because everyone else in the movie treats the story with respect, and yet the whole franchise has to be dragged down into the gutter because of this one jackass. Oh well.
Craigslist Joe (December 7)
An obnoxious, clueless asshole feigning interest in the lives of people whose hospitality he has conned out of them. I hate this guy. I would like to see a crossover movie between Craigslist Joe and The Craigslist Killer.
Liz and Dick (December 8)
Here is the How Did This Get Made? episode on Liz and Dick. Here is my friend Crystal’s write-up on it from her Live-Blogging Lifetime Movies blog. Between those two things, you won’t be left wanting for commentary on this insane biopic, but I will add in a few thoughts of my own:
-A guy named Grant Bowler plays Richard Burton. I remembered him as the lead character in Steve Niles’ Remains, where his shitty acting was the most awful thing in a movie filled with awful things. Here, however, his shitty acting works to his advantage, and makes Richard Burton perhaps the most hilarious character in any movie ever.
-It was only after three or four instances of the scenes where Liz and Dick sat together on a dark stage that I realized this was supposed to be them in Heaven reflecting on their life together. Even now, that still seems way too ridiculous to be true.
-Lindsay Lohan looked way more convincing as old crazy-haired Liz Taylor than she did as young, sexy Liz Taylor. Way more. Lindsay Lohan, by the way, is 26 years old.
-The multiple references to Liz Taylor’s disgustingly fat fingers were hilarious.
Wow, I guess I had a lot more to say about Liz and Dick than I thought I did!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (December 12)
When I watched The Wonder Years as a kid, I used to have to hide my face behind my blanket whenever a particularly awkward scene occurred, and to this day, that remains my reaction to such scenes. During The Perks of Being a Wallflower I was ducking behind covers so often I felt like I was playing a first-person shooter. I mean that as a total compliment. I read this book way back when it first came out, and I liked it, but luckily my garbage memory let go of enough of the details that I could still be effected by the film’s twists and turns as they came. Between this and Fat Kid Rules the World, this has been a good year for awkward teenage coming-of-age tales!
Rare Exports – A Christmas Tale (December 13)
This wonderful Christmas-themed fantasy/horror/adventure movie from Finland, is now firmly added to my list of favorite holiday movies. Gorgeous, charming, sad, funny, scary and filled with Christmas spirit, this is the perfect film to watch over a cup of hot chocolate on a snowly December evening. My only complaint is that the movie seems to be tailor-made for kids, and would be perfectly family-friendly if not for one scene that is chock full of flaccid elderly penises. What the hell is up with that, Finland? So yeah, due to that one weird decision, the movie is unfortunately inappropriate for kids, but perfect for kids-at-heart. A great start to the xmas movie season!
The Grey (December 13)
This movie was marketed as Liam Neeson: Wolf Puncher, and yeah, that’s pretty much the meat of the movie. But for some reason, I didn’t expect it to be this much of an exhilarating, fun adventure movie! There are more serious parts for sure, and they work well, but for the most part this is a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride! I didn’t see that coming, and I fucking loved it!
Beasts of the Southern Wild (December 17)
My childish love of genre movies means that no other movie this year could possibly beat Joss Whedon’s one-two punch of Cabin in the Woods and Avengers for me. But speaking objectively, Beasts of the Southern Wild is by far the best film of 2012, and if it doesn’t take home a fuckton of Oscars, there’s something really wrong with the world. I don’t know if any description can do the movie justice, but this is a mix of fantasy and realism, which focuses on a father and daughter living in an isolated bayou community in Louisiana, in the near future. Six-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis delivers the most shockingly incredible performance I have ever seen in my fucking life – this kid is going to be a huge, huge star. Beasts of the Southern Wild is heartbreaking, thought-provoking, beautiful, hilarious and challenging, and oh yeah, it also features giant prehistoric boars, so that’s a plus too. Please see this movie.
The Secret World of Arrietty (December 19)
This new version of The Borrowers from Studio Ghibli is really well done and worth watching for no other reason than to take in the beautiful art and animation. The story is good too, although I imagine younger kids might find it a bit slow-paced and boring. Not me though! I love slow and boring, especially when the scenery is this nice. If I have one complaint it’s that Justin Russo (playing the human boy in the American version) lays it on a little bit thick with his voice-acting.
Comic Con Episode IV – A Fan’s Hope (December 19)
Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame directs this feature-length exploration of the 2010 San Diego Comic Con, through the eyes of several of its attendees. We meet a really shitty artist who unfortunately takes all the criticism he receives as a reason to try even harder, a really good artist who gets a job with a comic book publisher I’ve never heard of, a designer who makes costumes based on the video game Mass Effect, a hundred-year-old comics dealer who is super upset that the focus of the con is moving away from comic books, and finally a guy whose attempts to propose to the clingiest, more horrible woman in the world keep getting squashed by her clingy horribleness. It’s all pretty boring, even for me, and I’m not really sure why this movie exists.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (December 21)
This isn’t my favorite Christmas movie of all time (that would probably be The Muppet Christmas Carol), but it’s way up there, and certainly a few notches above Home Alone 1. Don’t get me wrong – the first movie is brilliant, and the pigeon lady in this one doesn’t manage to be quite as tear-jerking as the original’s old man, but Lost in New York improves upon almost everything else. First of all, obviously, it’s in New York. Kevin has the biggest city in the world as his playground, and he gets to fuck around in Central Park, the Plaza Hotel, Rockefeller Center and a really cool FAO Schwarz analogue. Secondly, whereas John Candy was a quality guest star in Part 1, we never got to see Kevin fuck with him, where the new cast additions here (Tim Curry and Rob Schneider, primarily) fall victim to all sorts of schemes, including an incredible rehashing of the Angels with Filthy Souls prank. Finally, the robbery scene here is just nuts, elevated to the violence level of a Looney Tunes cartoon or a Saw movie. When Daniel Stern keeps getting hit in the face with bricks thrown from the roof of a four-story building, over and over again, it’s one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see and the perfect embodiment of the spirit of Christmas.
Reindeer Games (December 22)
How Did This Get Made? again. This holiday-themed action caper is more terrible and ridiculous than you could possibly imagine, but one thing I really liked about it is how the low-lifes, thugs and criminals who populate the movie are all really, really into the Christmas spirit. Every action movie one-liner is Christmas-themed (“tis the season, convict”), all the Tarantino wanna-be dialogue is Christmas-themed (“did you know the retail industry does 50% of its business between December 1st and December 25th”), even the sexytime flirting is fucking Christmas-themed (“when I get back, you’d better be wearing nothing but a candy cane”). I mean, I love Christmas more than most people, but even I manage to get through the month of December without the holiday dictating every single word I say to other human beings. These guys are all way cooler than me!
The Santa Clause 2 (December 22)
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (December 23)
My general distaste for Tim Allen has led to me avoiding this franchise up until now, which is a shame because they’re fun, harmless little movies with a satisfactory quantity of holiday cheer. I guess next Christmas, I will have to check out Part 1.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (December 23)
Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure (December 24)
I haven’t seen a Beethoven movie since the original, and man, a hell of a lot has changed since then! First of all, Beethoven is no longer torturing the Charles Grodin family – now he is some sort of superstar Hollywood spokesdog for the ASPCA or something like that. Secondly, Beethoven talks now, and is voiced by Tom Arnold! Who knew?? Aside from Tom, the rest of the cast is really star-studded as well, featuring Eli from Degrassi, Cory in the House, Zack and Cody’s mom, J. Peterman, and of course Curtis Armstrong. The story is the usual kiddie Christmas fare – a wayward elf recruits Beethoven to help him track down thieves who have stolen Santa’s toy sack, with lots of forced sentimentality and fart jokes along the way.
It’s a Wonderful Life (December 24)
Believe it or not, I only saw this yuletide classic for the first time a couple of years ago, and I can’t stop thinking about how bizarre it is structurally, by nowadays standards at least. Imagine if a movie came out today which, for the first 100 minutes or so was a realistic drama about a man’s life and the mistakes he’s made, and then in the final twenty minutes, it turned into a crazy, supernatural alternate-universe fantasy, with angels all over the place? And then that last twenty minutes is what the film became famous for? I mean, imagine if you were watching Blue Valentine and in the last 15 minutes, Cupid himself showed up and took everyone on a trip to the magical Land of Broken Hearts. That’d be so fucking weird, right? Yet somehow It’s a Wonderful Life totally gets away with it, and the end result is a beautiful, inspirational film which deserves every bit of its legendary status.
Stolen (December 28)
I don’t watch Mad Men, so I mostly know Jon Hamm as the guy who goes onto comedy podcasts and all the comedians have to pretend he’s funny because he’s famous and handsome. Well, it turns out he’s a pretty decent actor, bringing genuine emotion to this multi-generational mystery story about child abduction. The plot here is really predictable, but great acting and the cool-ass 1950’s segments make it worth watching. Also worth noting is that Josh Lucas is the second-billed actor in this movie. Keep that in mind because it will become important a little later.
Black Christmas (2006) (December 28)
Waaaay back in 2010, the original Black Christmas was my final movie of the year. This year, I finally checked out the 2006 remake, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! The major difference from the original film was that in this one, we get tons of flashback scenes from the killer’s childhood. That approach can really fall flat in some movies, but it works really well here, fleshing out the character and providing the creepiest and most aesthetically interesting scenes. The current-day plotline is more or less the same as the original, except the sorority girls here are an all-star lineup of ladies I would like to kiss on the mouth: Lacey Chabert, Black Canary, Buffy’s sister, and once again, Ramona Flowers. So here’s this one more time:
Snowmageddon (December 29)
In this holiday treat from the SyFy Channel, an evil snowglobe destroys an Alaskan town. I don’t really need to elaborate on that, do I?
Stolen (December 30)
So while I was googling to find out more about the Jon Hamm movie called Stolen, I discovered this brand new Nicholas Cage film of the same name! Since I’d shamefully not seen one single Nicholas Cage movie yet this year, and since this one had the hilarious tagline “NEVER steal from the world’s greatest thief!”, I knew I had to seek it out immediately. It’s a typical Nicholas Cage action movie, perhaps slightly less Nicholas Cagey than usual, but you guys, guess what? JOSH LUCAS IS ALSO THE SECOND-BILLED ACTOR IN THIS MOVIE! Jon Hamm Stolen was from 2009. Nicholas Cage Stolen is from 2012. Josh Lucas was the second-billed actor in two completely unrelated movies called Stolen in a three-year period. THAT IS FUCKING CRAZY!
John Dies at the End (December 30)
Some friends who are big Don Coscarelli fans told me they were really disappointed by this latest effort. The only films of his I’ve seen before are Phantasm II and Bubba Ho-Tep, and I liked John Dies at the End a lot better than either of those, so I guess my lack of fandom really paid off for me this time! This movie is trippy as fuck, coming off as a weird amalgam of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Evil Dead. I liked it! Maybe you won’t! Who knows? The year is over!
So that’s my year in movies. As far as films that actually got released in 2012, here is my Top Ten:
10 – ParaNorman
9 – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
8 – John Dies at the End
7 – 21 Jump Street
6 – The Dark Knight Rises
5 – Chronicle
4 – Wreck-It Ralph
3 – Beasts of the Southern Wild
2 – The Avengers
1 – The Cabin in the Woods
Man, that list sure is front-loaded! The Top 5 movies are all excellent masterpieces. 6-10 are good and all, but they’d probably struggle to make it onto a Top 10 list any other year. And honestly, the only reason The Dark Knight Rises is on there is because it’s a movie about Batman, and I felt weird putting the incomplete Dark Knight Returns Part 1 cartoon on the list. But whatever, the Top 5 are all instant classics for me, so that makes this a pretty great movie year!
See you in 2014!