I am posting this much later than usual this year, so my apologies for that. I usually start writing these things around late September or October, but the last few months of 2014 were extremely shitty and hectic for me, so I didn’t get a chance to begin this until mid-January! Hopefully you pieces of shit appreciate it!
This also marks the first year since I began doing these write-ups in 2010 that my total movie count has actually gone down from the previous year’s. I’d like to say that’s because I was more productive this year, but the truth is that I probably just watched more TV or played more video games. Anyway, let’s compare numbers!
And in the year of our Lord 2014, I watched 299 movies. A step down to be sure, but still enough movies to kill any mortal man. For your convenience, I’ve provided links for the movies which are available on Netflix. If you prefer Hulu or Amazon Instant or whatever, that’s stupid of you, so you’re on your own. Let’s get started, shall we?
American Hustle (January 2)
Ugh, what a lame start to the year. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of eating plain Corn Flakes with skim milk for breakfast. It’s not necessarily bad in any way, but in a world full of Lucky Charms and Fruity Pebbles, why fucking bother with something so painfully bland?
Metallica: Through the Never (January 2)
For whatever reason, I was under the mistaken impression that this was a documentary which depicted the life of a Metallica roadie. It’s actually a concert film interspersed with a fictional story about a roadie battling with demons and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. At least, I assume it’s fictional. Because of my misunderstanding, I didn’t bother seeing this in the movie theater in 3D, which I now regret more than anything because HOLY FUCKING SHIT that would have been amazing.
Watch Metallica: Through the Never on Netflix
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (January 3)
Another year, another misguided and overblown Hobbit movie. Just like the first movie, this one has shining moments of wonderfulness which are hidden between scene after scene of dumb bullshit that completely miss the breezy, whimsical tone of the novel. Seeing Sherlock and Watson interact as Smaug and Bilbo is a neat little bit of meta-fun, but that can only get one so far.
About Time (January 3)
My interest in time travel stories outweighed my disinterest in cornball romance movies, and so I watched About Time. The time travel concepts here are pretty unique, and I liked the way they were used primarily to explore human relationships and personal regret. And although the cheesy love story was top-billed here, the father/son stuff stole the show… so tread carefully if you have any daddy issues! Honestly, I went into this film with my eyes already rolling, but by the end of it I found myself wishing there were more movies like this.
Freezer (January 3)
Dylan McDermott, one of the least likable actors in the world, is trapped in a meat locker by Russian thugs in a case of mistaken identity. I gave this a shot because I generally like stories about people trapped in confined spaces, but McDermott’s smug face and embarrassing attempts at badassitude just made this completely intolerable.
Carrie (2013) (January 5)
I was skeptical about this at first, but I’ll be goddamned if this isn’t a great remake… perhaps even better than the original? It is a rare situation when the passage of time renders a horror story more relevant rather than less, but with the culture focused so much on issues of teenage bullying lately, Carrie makes more sense than ever. It doesn’t hurt that Hit Girl is just an incredible actress in this and everything else she’s in.
Watch Carrie on Netflix
We Are What We Are (2010) (January 5)
Last year, I watched the boring ass American remake of this and bitched about it Now, having seen the original Mexican film, I have even more of a reason to bitch because this movie is GREAT! The two films are so radically different in nearly every way that I can’t even imagine how many stupid rewrites and demographic studies it took to reach the remake’s Point B from the original’s Point A, but it’s a goddamn shame. Do yourself a favor and watch this version of We Are What We Are.
Summer Rental (January 6)
I’d somehow managed to never see this before, and I liked it! It almost felt like a companion piece to one of my old favorites The Great Outdoors, although with a seemingly lower budget and crappier production values. Still, it has a similar premise, a similar charming and understated sense of humor, and a similar John Candy. So if you like that one, you’ll like this one.
James and the Giant Peach (January 6)
I hadn’t seen this one either, and I’ve never even read the Roald Dahl book upon which it’s based. This was fun, stylish and beautiful to look at, and I loved the switch between live action and stop-motion animation. I guess my only issue with it is a lack of memorable songs. Unless I’m just not remembering them? Which I guess would be the dictionary definition of “unmemorable”. So yeah, unmemorable songs.
Watch James and the Giant Peach on Netflix
Teeth (January 7)
I was expecting this to be an extremely dark and disturbing movie, but to my surprise this was about as fun and entertaining as a black comedy about vagina dentata with multiple rape scenes can possibly be. This is due largely to the lead actress, who brings so much likability, relatability and pathos to a role that could be pretty one-note in someone else’s hands. Don’t get me wrong – the movie does get pretty dark and violent at times, and often goes way overboard with its “all men are rapists” message, but if you can stomach that stuff, this is a surprisingly good time.
Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (January 8)
Having never seen the new My Little Pony cartoon, I didn’t quite know what to expect from this documentary about its infamous community of fans. It turned out to be an emotional rollercoaster of dizzying highs and lows. Among the lows were the unbearably cringey reactions from some fathers to their teenage sons’ pony obsessions. Among the highs was how enthusiastically some of the voice actors embraced the Bronie culture, in spite of not really understanding what the fuck this pony cartoon was all about – John de Lancie was particularly charming. Though this documentary didn’t inspire me to check out the cartoon or the subculture that has grown around it, it did make me feel happy that it all exists.
Watch Bronies on Netflix
That Guy… Who Was in That Thing (January 8)
Bronies made me want to watch more documentaries about the fringe corners of pop culture, so I decided to check out this movie about recognizable-but-not-rich-or-famous character actors. Well, unless you want to see 90 minutes of obnoxious, spoiled shitheads whining about how hard it is to be in movies all the time, this is pretty skippable. Did you know that sometimes these guys only make like 80 thousand dollars a year for doing the thing they love most in the world? Boo fucking hoo, you guys.
Watch That Guy… Who Was in That Thing on Netflix
Cottage Country (January 10)
I don’t remember a ton about this horror comedy, but I remember it being pretty fun. So there’s my review: pretty fun, from what little I can remember. You’re welcome.
Manos: The Hands of Fate (Rifftrax version) (January 10)
It seems kinda pointless to me when the Rifftrax guys revisit a Mystery Science Theater classic. But hey, there’s no such thing as too much Manos, so in this case I think it’s forgivable. Check it out for yourself, and draw your own conclusion.
Jack Frost (1998) (January 10)
This is not the classic horror movie Jack Frost, but rather the schmaltzy Michael Keaton family movie. Perhaps the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life was the time during my college years when my friends and I watched and made fun of this movie on a Greyhound bus ride. The excellent How Did This Get Made? podcast finally forced me to revisit it, and though I didn’t laugh nearly as hard this time, it’s still a really shitty, fun movie.
Another Cinderella Story (January 11)
This is the sequel to a Hilary Duff movie which I’ve never seen, which replaces Duff with next-gen Disney tween Selena Gomez. I’ve never been shy about how much of a Selena Gomez fan I am, so this was entertaining enough, but it never fails to amuse me how often attempts to contemporize classic stories end up having the opposite effect in the long run. For example, in this Cinderella update, the glass slipper is replaced by a Zune! A Zune, for God’s sake! If that concept is already laughably outdated in 2014, imagine how incomprehensible it will be in, like, 2036! Timelessness issues aside, this is adequately entertaining dumb fun.
Her (January 13)
I’ve always enjoyed Spike Jonze’s shit, and this is no exception. What I love about this movie’s vision of the future is how realistic it seems as an extension of the mundane-ass modern world, from the arbitrary fashion trends (Urkel pants!) to the ultra-immersive, but stupider than ever, video gaming culture. Even Joaquin Phoenix’s job as a professional scribe of old-fashioned love letters seems like the exact type of service you’d read an article about on reddit or something. Because this is such an apt reflection of shallow, boring modern culture, the ending – in which (SPOILER ALERT!) artificial intelligences ascend to a higher plain of consciousness than mere humans can conceive – is so much scarier than similar computers-are-taking-over themes in movies like Terminator or whatever. Also, more beautiful and hopeful, because fuck humans. Fly on, you crazy smartphone angels! By the way, if you liked this movie, I recommend checking out the awesome sci-fi anthology show Black Mirror, which has a very similar tone.
The Wolf of Wall Street (January 14)
As I write this on January 21, 2015, we are in the midst of yet another Oscar season, our annual reminder that the movies we are supposed to like are the long, boring ones without any imagination. I will give the precious, precious Academy credit for nominating Her last year, but for the most part the Best Picture list was (as it is this year) a bunch of dumb based-on-a-true-story bullshit by people like Martin Scorsese. The Wolf of Wall Street was one of those nominees, and it was even longer, boringer and bullshittier than I could have ever imagined. Fuck this movie, fuck Martin Scorsese, and fuck the Oscars.
Watch The Wolf of Wall Street on Netflix
Escape Plan (January 14)
Not nominated for any Academy Awards was Escape Plan, an action movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone team up to break out of the world’s most evil and impenetrable prison. This movie is exactly what you think it is in every way, and it’s pretty entertaining.
The Money Pit (January 17)
I hadn’t seen this since I was a little kid, and all I recalled about it was a scene where a staircase falls down and Tom Hanks is hanging from it, or something like that. Now, having seen it a mere year ago, that scene is still all I can remember.
Dr. Who: Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (Rifftrax version) (January 17)
Last year, I watched a Rifftrax of the first Peter Cushing Dr. Who movie and commented on the fact that it was the only Dr. Who movie or show I had ever seen. Well, now I’ve seen this one too! You should too!
The History of Future Folk (January 19)
This comedy about space aliens starting a folk band in New York City can be, at times, too cutesy and “indie” for its own good. But in spite of that, it’s still pretty fun, and some of the music is great.
Watch The History of Future Folk on Netflix
Toad Road (January 19)
And so, 2014’s list of godawful horror movies viewed on Netflix begins in earnest with Toad motherfucking Road. Luckily for me, I think this was about as bad as it got all year, because Toad Road is fucking baaaaaaaaaad.
Watch Toad Road on Netflix
Justice League: War (January 22)
The DC Animated movies have a long track record of being really awesome, so of course some shithead had to go and ruin it by deciding they should all pattern themselves after the New 52 universe. Justice League: War is the first feature to come out of this mind-blowingly stupid new initiative, and it is just as dull and whitebread as the story it is based on. I will say that this has some of the coolest action/fight sequences I’ve seen in one of these cartoons, but that’s just about all it has to offer. It sucks to say, but I think the days of the DC animated movies being interesting, innovative and risk-taking might be behind us.
Foreclosure (January 24)
This movie (which apparently is also known by the name 4Closed) is about a family who moves into a new house, only to be terrorized by the psychotic former owner, portrayed ridiculously by Jaime Kennedy. Do I even need to tell you not to bother with this one?
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (January 24)
This straight-to-DVD Justice League movie is aimed at a younger audience, and for some strange reason was available exclusively at Target stores (and, of course, torrent sites). Unfuckingbelievably, this story focuses on Legion of Super-Hero members Dawnstar and Karate Kid as its main characters, as they have a goofy time-travel adventure. This thing is kiddie as fuck, and not anything special, but it’s still light years better than Justice League: War.
Lizzie Borden Took an Axe (January 25)
Only the Lifetime channel could manage to make a Lizzie Borden movie starring Christina Ricci this fucking boring. My friend Crystal, who runs the excellent Live-Blogging Lifetime Movies blog, did an awesome write-up of the film which you should read, so I won’t attempt to compete with her. I will say that the bizarre K-Rock-in-the-late-90’s soundtrack they chose for this period piece stood out for me just as much as it did for her.
Watch Lizzie Borden Took an Axe on Netflix
Garage Sale Mystery (January 26)
There were two main factors which gravitated me towards this dumb Hallmark Channel original movie. First, when I was young, my father and I would go to garage sales every single weekend, and it is one of my most cherished childhood memories. I can still picture the classified ad pages he would rip out from the newspaper, circling and highlighting the garage sales and flea markets he wanted to hit. Then we’d get in the car and spend the day haggling and bargaining with strangers, and I’d invariably come home with some new comic books or toys or Nintendo games. Secondly, I have become obsessed with Agatha Christie over the past couple of years, reading every single one of her books and watching endless hours of Poirot on Netflix – so it seems that silly mystery stories intended for little old ladies really appeal to me, for some reason. This movie seemed like it could fill both of those holes in my heart, and throw in Aunt Becky for good measure. It lived up to my expectations whole-heartedly, and I hope they keep making these movies until Lori Loughlin drops dead. Crystal, at my insistence, also wrote about this one, so check that out.
Flowers in the Attic (2014) (January 26)
The great Lifetiming of January 2014 continues! I have never seen the original Flowers in the Attic movie, but I remember that my mother used to have the book in her bedroom, and just looking at the die-cut cover used to creep the living shit out of me.
There it is! Fear it! FEAR IT! Anyway, it turns out the actual story is even creepier and grosser than a hole in a piece of paper could ever convey. It involves Heather Graham’s cartoonishly evil mother locking her grandchildren up in an attic until one of them dies and the other two start having sex with each other. This is all horrible, of course, but I will say that the attic was pretty cool and there were moments where I was kinda jealous of the kids who got to live up there! I guess the attic itself wasn’t really the problem, though. Anyway, enough from me – once again, I refer you to Crystal’s blog.
A.C.O.D. (January 27)
This comedy about Adam Scott struggling to deal with his bitterly divorced parents has some interesting ideas and a very talented cast, but wait a minute, aren’t comedies supposed to be funny? I think that is one of the most important qualities a comedy should have, but if you disagree, you should check out A.C.O.D. Anyway, Ramona Flowers was in this one, and so at this point I feel almost obligated to post this:
No One Lives (January 27)
You know what didn’t live? My memory of this movie. I am guessing a bunch of people die in it, but I could be wrong.
Welcome to the Jungle (January 31)
A weird mash-up of Office Space and Lord of the Flies, this is a very funny movie, and what’s really amazing is that Jean-Claude Van Damme is probably the funniest person in it! And I don’t mean that he’s funny in the way he’s usually funny, where we all point and laugh at dumb-ass Van Damme doing his dumb-ass karate kicks. I mean that he was tasked with performing a comedic role effectively, and he actually did a great fucking job. I was stunned by this, and delighted by this movie in general.
Watch Welcome to the Jungle on Netflix
Dear Mr. Watterson (February 2)
This documentary about the infamously reclusive Calvin & Hobbes cartoonist is fascinating at times (I especially enjoyed the comparisons between Watterson’s landscapes and footage of his actual hometown), but it’s also really frustrating because you keep hoping it’s all building up to an interview with Watterson himself, and of course that never happens. There’s a lot to love here, but ultimately it just made me desperately miss the presence of this bonafide fucking genius in my life. Still, he did come out of hiding two times in 2014, so maybe it’s not so far-fetched to hope for more great stuff from him in the near future?
Watch Dear Mr. Watterson on Netflix
The Wizard of Oz (Rifftrax version) (February 2)
I usually skip the so-called Rifftrax blockbusters, because I feel like the MST3K treatment works so much better for dumb little b-movies than it does for big-budget mainstream features. When the movie in question is actually good, it makes me even more reluctant to listen to people making fun of it. However, against all odds, The Wizard of Oz Rifftrax has become one of my favorites. Maybe it’s because of my intimate familiarity with the movie, but I honestly can’t recall very many other Rifftrax that I laughed at so hard and so consistently. If you’re on the fence, definitely check this one out.
Stalled (February 3)
Some total moron must have been like, “There are so many zombie movies – where could we take this genre that it hasn’t been before? Eureka, I’ve got it! What if it takes place entirely in a public toilet stall?” And then the moron made this stupid movie, and then he probably shit his pants.
Watch Stalled on Netflix
Just My Luck (February 3)
I was about to refer to this as a Disney Channel Original Movie, but going to its IMDB page reminded me that it’s not, and in fact all the characters are actual adults. That is shocking, especially since the plot involves Lindsay Lohan as the luckiest girl in the world, in a universe where good luck is transferred from person to person via kisses. Also, it heavily features the ridiculous British boy band McFly. I don’t know who saw this concept and decided it was better suited for grown-ups than 12-year-olds, but I hope they got fired and then died of shame.
Pitch Perfect (February 4)
This is a story about competing college acapella groups, and since it’s a story about competing college acapella groups, I did not expect to like it very much. So it was a very pleasant surprise that it turned out to be hilarious, charming, and full of excellent musical performances. Pitch Perfect 2 comes out later this year, and I can’t wait!
Double Team (February 8)
I watched this prior to listening to the How Did This Get Made? episode about it. It was weird watching this so soon after Welcome to the Jungle – the reason I was so taken aback by Van Damme’s awesome performance in that one is his long history of horrible movies like this. This one is particularly bad due to the presence of the world’s most annoying douche Dennis Rodman. Rodman plays an arms dealer who is constantly making basketball references for some reason, exemplifying the confusing stupidity of this type of self-aware stunt casting. And just in case Van Damme and Dennis Rodman are not quite gross and obnoxious enough for you, Mickey fucking Rourke also shows up as the bad guy. Ugh!
Rogue (February 8)
From the director of the excellent Wolf Creek comes this movie about a group of tourists in the Australian outback being terrorized by an enormous killer crocodile. Unless I’m forgetting something, this is definitely the best movie I’ve ever seen on the subject of enormous killer crocodiles. Why are Australians so damn good at making horror movies? Is it because they are all descended from violent criminals exiled to a continent filled with unthinkable monsters? Probably.
Cloud 9 (February 8)
I remember being unreasonably excited for this Disney Channel skiing movie, mostly due to it following up the legitimately great Teen Beach Movie. Those were unfairly high expectations though, and this ended up leaving me cold. Pun intended.
Watch Cloud 9 on Netflix
Romeo & Juliet vs. the Living Dead (February 8)
I must have been playing video games or something while I watched this, because even though it combines two of my favorite things, I don’t remember it at all. I do, however, love this poster:
Night of the Lepus (Rifftrax version) (February 9)
As a kid, I first heard of the Lepus in these pages from Bart Simpson’s Guide to Life, but I’d never seen the movie. I always assumed it was a Them!-esque creature feature from the 1950’s, but it turns out it’s from friggin’ 1972! In color, even! That suits me just fine, since I’ve always thought the Rifftrax treatment works better with 70’s/80’s schlock than with 50’s schlock, and they do a great job with this one!
Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark (February 12)
Both Debbie Gibson and the Mega Shark himself return for this sequel to Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. This outing isn’t quite as memorable as the previous one since, as you can imagine, Mecha Sharks aren’t nearly as much fun as Giant Octopi.
Watch Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark on Netflix
The Fifth Estate (February 13)
I just looked it up, and was shocked to find that this movie wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, because it’s totally that kind of movie. If you’re the type of dildo who likes movies like this, or pretends to, then you’ll like this movie. As for me, I have no idea why I torture myself with this crap.
A Band Called Death (February 13)
Can I just say that Death are a pretty crappy band, and barely punk rock? Having said that, their story is still super fascinating and inspirational in many ways. It’s too bad about the music, though.
Tales From the Darkside: The Movie (February 13)
This anthology features some excellent segments based on short stories by Stephen King and Arthur Conan Doyle, but the wraparound tale starring Debbie Harry and Joey Lawrence is what will always come to mind when I think about this movie. If you’re into horror anthology films and this one has somehow flown under your radar, please check it out. It’s one of the best.
The Maltese Falcon (February 14)
I’d never seen this before! I enjoyed it a lot!
Hotel Noir (February 14)
I enjoyed The Maltese Falcon so much, in fact, that I decided to follow it up with this modern take on the film noir genre. For some reason this movie has a really killer cast, including Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Robert Forster, Mandy Moore and many others – but sadly, it is unforgivably terrible. I wish I had watched another authentic noir movie instead, but the truth is I didn’t have any idea where to start. Someone give me some suggestions!
The Penny Dreadful Picture Show (February 14)
Tales From the Darkside is one of the best horror anthology films ever made, and this is undeniably one of the worst. Just the worst kind of stupid Hot Topic bullshit you can imagine.
The Punk Singer (February 16)
I generally am not crazy about music-related documentaries, but this one manages to perfectly capture everything that is so damn cool about Kathleen Hanna. From her awesome music, to all the doors she kicked open for girls who wanted to play punk rock, to her totes adorbz relationship with Beastie Boy Ad-Rock. Honestly, this movie turned Kathleen Hanna from someone I was sort of a vague fan of, into one of my goddamn heroes.
Watch The Punk Singer on Netflix
Thunderstruck (February 16)
This came on TV, and I got sucked into it. It’s about a teenager who, through magic of some sort, switches his basketball abilities with those of NBA star Kevin Durant. The entire time I was watching this, I assumed it was some kind of direct-to-video sequel to Like Mike, but no, it turns out it’s just Thunderstruck.
Peggy Sue Got Married (February 17)
Hey, this is a delightful movie! In all likelihood you already knew that, but this was the first time I’d seen it. I never even knew it was about time travel!
Knights of Badassdom (February 17)
This comedy has a great concept (LARPers accidentally summon a real demon) and a solid cast, but ultimately it just ends up trying too damn hard. Not terrible, but pretty skippable in my opinion.
Watch Knights of Badassdom on Netflix
The LEGO Movie (February 18)
I went to see The LEGO Movie on my birthday, and it was glorious! Heartwarming, hilarious, and almost unbelievably imaginative, this was the huge hit of the year for me. If I have one complaint, it’s that the pace is almost too breakneck at some points, making it difficult for viewers to catch their breath. But that might just be because I’m a boring-ass adult, and this movie’s rhythm was definitely designed for hyper-active kids. After a little while, I was definitely able to sync up with it mentally, and then it was just pure, loud, hectic joy. If you know me at all, you can probably guess that Will Arnett’s Batman was the standout character for me – he got all the best moments, and even the best song in the film. I wanted so much more of him, and luckily I will soon be getting my wish. Hopefully that spin-off can rise up to the intimidating bar of quality that this movie has set, but if it’s even half as good, it’ll still be a goddamn masterpiece.
Oldboy (2013) (February 19)
The original Oldboy is fantastic, and Spike Lee’s remake is certainly ambitious and gets a decent amount right, but my fears that it would wuss out on the Korean film’s biggest moments were well founded. This movie isn’t bad or anything, but it pulls its punches too much, and it’s not really worth watching when the original is still out there.
Watch Oldboy on Netflix
The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (February 25)
This reminded me of Young Sherlock Holmes more than anything else, except a lot more boring. It’s a shame that this isn’t a little bit better, because the world needs more movies like this.
Watch The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box on Netflix
Trojan War (February 28)
This is a teen sex comedy from the late 90’s, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Eric Matthews. It’s okay.
Machete Kills (March 3)
The problem with these Machete movies is that the self-referential, post-modern action flick has almost become its own subgenre, and this type of thing isn’t really unique anymore. Even the potentially clever idea of a self-aware Mel Gibson playing the villain was used twice this year, and this is the lesser of those two movies. There are definitely some really fun moments here, and the last act takes Machete to some crazy unexpected places, but there are still a lot of better ways to scratch your action itch.
Watch Machete Kills on Netflix
Ender’s Game (March 3)
This is the science fiction masterpiece I’ve been hearing about in hushed tones throughout my entire life? I mean, I’m not stupid so I understand that the movie version might be a terrible bastardization of the source material, but unless this is an entirely different story on the level of The Lawnmower Man, then I have to imagine that at least some of the movie’s problems originate in the book. Hell, even if the novel is just 1/8th as boring and stupid as this movie, that’s still way too boring and stupid for me. Enjoy your boring and stupid homophobe, science fiction nerds!
Winter’s Tale (March 3)
The worst movie to come out in 2014, or possibly the entire 21st century so far. It’s so mind-bogglingly crazy that I’m not even sure how to describe it, but I will try: Colin Farell is some sort of mystical angel-man, whose best friend is a mysterious pegasus, and they live in a weird, magical version of turn-of-the-century New York City, which is presided over by evil Russell Crowe and his boss Satan (as played by Will Smith with a CGI mouth and an anachronistic Jimi Hendrix t-shirt). Also, it’s a love story. Somehow, this movie is even crazier than I am making it sound, and not in a good way at all.
Last Action Hero (March 7)
Speaking of post-modern self-referential action movies, here is the grand-daddy of them all. For some reason, Last Action Hero has a terrible reputation, but I think it’s really clever and fun. If you’re an Arnold fan who’s skipped this one because of all the shit talk, do yourself a favor and check it out.
Watch Last Action Hero on Netflix
Doctor Strange (March 9)
Another dull, unmemorable animated feature from Marvel, which is a shame because Doctor Strange is a really cool character. In spite of this dumb thing, I am still greatly looking forward to the upcoming live action version.
Watch Doctor Strange on Netflix
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (March 10)
I remember reading The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in junior high school and really loving it, so I was looking forward to this movie even though I kind of struggled to understand how this short story could be expanded into a full length feature. It seems the filmmakers struggled with this too, and their solution turned out to be making up an entirely new story. This is not necessarily an inherently bad idea, but in this case the new story happened to suck a lot of ass. Bummer.
Cyborg Cop 2 (Rifftrax version) (March 10)
Cyborg Cop 2 is a shameless, pathetic rip-off of Robocop. I assume Cyborg Cop 1 also was, but I wouldn’t know for sure since the Rifftrax guys only cover this one.
Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (March 11)
Black Widow + Frank Castle seems like a weird pairing, but hey – weird pairings are what superhero team-ups are all about! Too bad this is a Marvel animated movie, and therefore is destined to be horrible. The good news is that it’s slightly better than last year’s dreadful Iron Man/Hulk team-up movie, but the bad news is that it’s slightly better than last year’s dreadful Iron Man/Hulk team-up movie.
Stay Tuned (March 13)
I loved this movie as a kid and while it doesn’t hold up as well as I remember it, it’s still pretty fun. The best part is still the cartoon sequence, which was created by Chuck Jones himself:
Rock ‘N’ Roll High School (March 13)
Combining my love of pop punk with my love of stupid teen movies, this Roger Corman classic is obviously one of my favorite movies of all time. To this day, it is impossible for me to see a pizza pie without repeating Dee Dee Ramone’s one line in the movie: “Oh boy, pizza, let’s dig in!”
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (March 15)
This was meant to be the second half of a little double feature I set up for myself, following the actual Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. But after about twenty minutes of that film boring me to death, I said “fuck it” and just put this on. And I’m glad I did, because this was really funny, and the music was great!
The Impaler (March 17)
I don’t remember what inspired me to watch this shitty fucking Dracula movie, but whatever it was, it’s something about myself that I really need to learn to suppress.
I Know That Voice (March 22)
A pretty great documentary on the subject of voice acting, which was put together by one of the greats, John DiMaggio (the voice of Bender on Futurama and Jake on Adventure Time, among many others). The movie is pretty much just like any other talking-head documentary, but it works because of the all-star lineup of interviewees DiMaggio has assembled. Billy West (Stimpy/Fry), Jim Cummings (Tigger/Darkwing Duck), Tom Kenny (Spongebob/Ice King), Kevin Conroy (Batman!), and even Mel Blanc’s son all make appearances here. If you’re at all interested in cartoon voices, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this.
Watch I Know That Voice on Netflix
From Dusk Till Dawn (March 22)
I’d been watching the From Dusk Til Dawn TV show, and having mixed feelings about it. It’s a decent show, but is basically a cover version of this movie, except stretched out across an entire season of television. The guy playing the George Clooney part even takes it upon himself to basically do a Clooney impersonation the whole fucking time. The show is entertaining enough in its own right, but it mostly made me want to revisit the movie. And so I did.
Watch From Dusk Till Dawn on Netflix
Groundhog Day (March 23)
I remember rewatching this movie, and then spending a couple of days obsessed with this dude’s theory about how much time Bill Murray spent in his time loop. I don’t necessarily recommend going down that particular internet rabbit hole, unless you have a lot of time and braincells to waste, but I do recommend the shit out of Groundhog Day!
Super Mario Bros. (Rifftrax version) (March 24)
Ever since Rifftrax teamed up with IGN back in 2012 to produce this “mini-riff” on some scenes from Super Mario Bros., I’ve been waiting for them to tackle the full movie. Well, they finally have, and it’s hilarious! I’ve never been secretive about my huge soft spot for this movie, but there is obviously a hell of a lot to make fun of, and they do a great job.
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (March 25)
I first saw and fell in love with this movie last year, and it seems like it’s going to be one of those movies I have to go back and rewatch year after year. Here’s what I said about it last time:
How has this movie flown under my radar for so long?? Made in 2001, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra attempts to emulate/satirize 1950’s sci-fi B-movies, and it nails it. The sign of a good genre parody is when it exploits tropes that you’ve never even been consciously aware of, but immediately recognize when they’re lampooned, and The Lost Skeleton pulls this off again and again and again. If you’re at all familiar with these types of movies (perhaps, like myself, via MST3K), then you will love this.
No Holds Barred (March 25)
No Holds Barred was the first of two Hulk Hogan movies that How Did This Get Made? forced me to watch this year. I wasn’t really interested in wrestling as a kid – this might be due to the fact that everyone in my goddamn Boy Scout troop was obsessed with it, and they were the biggest group of dumb assholes I’ve ever met. So I missed out on this movie, which is too bad because it’s beautifully bonkers in all the right ways.
Watch No Holds Barred on Netflix
Dark and Stormy Night (March 26)
From the creator of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra comes this parody of Agatha Christie-esque murder mysteries. It’s not quite as perfect as The Lost Skeleton, but its humor is in the same style and it works really well as a send-up of this genre. Recommended for fans of The Lost Skeleton (duh!), and of Clue.
And Then There Were None (1945) (March 26)
Dark and Stormy Night made me want to revisit the most iconic movie of its genre, and one of my favorites. The setting is atmospheric as fuck, the mystery is intriguing, the cast is great, and aside from the cheesy Hollywood ending, the film is fairly faithful to Agatha Christie’s novel.
The Den (March 27)
As far as found-footage thrillers go, I think this one was pretty clever and underrated. It’s about a student who is studying the way people interact on the internet, when she witnesses a murder on Chatroulette. Terror, of course, ensues. The entire movie is shown via webcam, which sounds like it could be a bore, but ends up working really well. Like most stories dealing with the topic of internet safety, this one gets a little overblown and far-fetched, but it’s still a pretty tense and entertaining ride.
Watch The Den on Netflix
Robot Stories (March 28)
This movie was directed by the pretty good comic book writer Greg Pak, and it’s an anthology of four stories about robots, featuring an almost entirely Asian-American cast. That all sounds really cool, right? The problem is that, aside from the factoids I just mentioned, I don’t remember a goddamn thing about it! That doesn’t necessarily mean it was a bad movie (after all, I forget a lot of things), but it probably does mean it’s not really mind-blowing in any way. Shrug.
The Green Hornet (2011) (March 29)
I thought this was pretty good, but that might be because I have zero attachment to the Green Hornet. If I was a huge fan of the character, and this was the movie he got, I’d probably be pretty fucking pissed. Especially considering that, unlike Batman or Spider-Man or whoever, this is probably the one chance we’re gonna get for a Green Hornet movie for a couple of decades at least. But, like I said, the Green Hornet means almost nothing to me, so I thought this was hilarious.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
I kept seeing this compared to All the President’s Men, but I can’t speak to that since I haven’t seen that movie. The only political thriller type movies I’ve seen are the Tom Clancy ones with Harrison Ford, and those are terrible while The Winter Soldier isn’t, so I dunno. I was pretty worried about this particular sequel – Cap’s first movie was so unique among the Marvel filmography, and I was concerned that moving the character into a modern day setting would dilute some of his specialness. I shouldn’t have worried, because not only does Captain America fit perfectly into the world of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D, but his Marvel Team-Up with Black Widow makes for the most charming interpersonal relationship in any of these movies so far. And his budding friendship with The Falcon is pretty sweet, too. The underlying story upon which all of this is built is kind of stupid, but in the funnest possible way. Marvel triumphs again!
Reality Bites (April 7)
When I was a teenager, for some reason, I owned the Reality Bites soundtrack CD but I never saw the movie until now. I can’t tell if it’s so ingrained in its intense 90’s-ness that it fails to stand the test of time, or if it’s just a shitty movie in general. I’m leaning towards the latter.
Abner the Invisible Dog (April 12)
I wasn’t expecting much from this straight-to-video kiddie movie, but man I didn’t expect it to have almost porno-level production values. You can figure out most of the plot from the title, but what you might not know is that in addition to being invisible, the titular dog also can speak with an insufferable British accent! Even the presence of the perpetually likable David DeLuise can’t save this mess. If you’re looking for a so-bad-it’s-good talking animal movie, skip this nonsense and just rewatch A Talking Cat!?!
Avalanche Sharks (April 12)
I generally enjoy shitty SyFy shark movies, and the concept of sharks swimming through snow and terrorizing a ski resort is obviously awesome, but this was mostly pretty boring.
Mischief Night (April 12)
IMDB tells me this is about a “mysterious intruder” who stalks a girl who is suffering from “psychosomatic blindness”. That premise seems fairly memorable, but I don’t remember this one at all. Sorry!
Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses (April 12)
I got a real kick out of the first Bad Ass movie back in 2012, but this sequel is wholly unnecessary. It adds Danny Glover to the mix this time around, but not much else. I am really starting to miss the days when Danny Trejo was just an awesome character actor who showed up in movies here and there, instead of being some kind of irony-laden bizarro leading man; he’s definitely better in smaller doses.
Watch Bad Ass 2 on Netflix
Trail of the Screaming Forehead (April 12)
Another comedy from the creator of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, this time taking on old alien invasion sci-fi features. It’s more of the same thing you expect from this guy, which is far from a bad thing. I’d watch his other movies first, and if you dig them, check this one out.
Salinger (April 13)
Like Dear Mr. Watterson, this documentary delves into the life and career of a notoriously reclusive genius – in this case, The Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger. While Dear Mr. Watterson focuses on its subject’s work and its impact on pop culture, this one is more interested in Salinger’s personal life and career, and since I didn’t know much about that stuff going in, it ended up working a lot better for me. It would have been annoying if this was just a bunch of talking heads blathering on about how important Holden Caulfield was to them, but instead I really felt like I knew Salinger by the end. Recommended!
Watch Salinger on Netflix
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (April 13)
I have never really liked this franchise, and yet because I’m a weirdo, I’ve gone back to it year after year, hoping for something that would actually entertain or surprise me. And while The Marked Ones isn’t a great film by any means, it does finally offer something different and slightly more interesting than its predecessors. Just the change of setting (from the stately suburban homes of the previous films to a more gritty inner city neighborhood) is a breath of fresh air, and the addition of characters who viewers might actually like and root for seems almost too good to be true. There’s nothing exceptional going on here by any stretch of the imagination, but for the first time since the pre-release hype of the first movie, I actually find myself slightly enthusiastic about this franchise.
Watch Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones on Netflix
Fatal Games (April 14)
This is a trashy, low-budget Olympics-themed slasher from 1984, which I heard about on the great Body Count Podcast and had to immediately seek out. It involves a crazy javelin-wielding killer picking off Olympic hopefuls at some kind of athletics academy, but the actual plot is secondary to the sheer 80’s slasher-ness of it all. Lots of 80’s music, 80’s blood, and especially 80’s titties – the film rarely goes more than five minutes before someone or other’s boobs are all over the place. Low-budget horror from this era is hit or miss, but I’d definitely put Fatal Games on the upper tier of watchability.
JCVD (April 14)
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s ability to branch out so surprised and delighted me in Welcome to the Jungle that I decided to seek out the movie I’d always heard referred to as his magnum opus. Van Damme, playing himself, becomes a hostage in a bank robbery and hijinx ensue. The film is way more self-exploratory than I had expected in its portrayal of a washed-up, deeply flawed actor, and this culminates in an insane, emotional monologue where Van Damme speaks directly to the audience about how fucked up his life is. JCVD is super ambitious, and that ambition often bears fruit, but there are also a lot of dull moments in between. Still, this continued my unlikely pattern of being really impressed by Van Damme, and I look forward to seeing what he does next. Hopefully it’s more like Welcome to the Jungle and JCVD, and less like Double Team.
This is 40 (April 14)
Prior to seeing This is 40, most of the criticism I heard about it was how out of touch it was with its audience – that it presented the foibles and follies of the very rich as if they were relatable, everyday problems. And maybe I was tainted going in, but yeah I think that criticism is absolutely valid. There’s some decently funny stuff going on here, but I found myself rolling my eyes at the poor little rich people way more often than laughing.
Fist of Fury (Rifftrax version) (April 14)
This seemed like a pretty typical Bruce Lee kung-fu movie to me, so I’m not sure why the Rifftrax guys picked this one specifically to make fun of, but they did, and it was funny.
Rapture-Palooza (April 15)
I am not sure why this movie flew so far under the radar. Maybe it’s because 2013 was only big enough for one wacky comedy about the Biblical apocalypse starring Darryl from The Office? Darryl plays Satan himself here, and from what I can remember, the plot mostly involves him attempting to seduce Anna Kendrick into being his bride. This was a pretty funny movie for sure, but yeah, it’s no This is the End.
Watch Rapture-Palooza on Netflix
The Borderlands (April 17)
Unless you are one of those crabapples who has to dislike every found-footage movie, this is a must-see. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people skipped this one because the basic plot synopsis just makes it sound so goddamn boring: It involves a team of Vatican investigators who go to check out some seemingly supernatural occurrences at a rural church. That makes The Borderlands sound just like every other dime-a-dozen possession movie out there, but I assure you it’s not. I can’t really expand on that without getting into spoiler territory, but I think this is worthy of any horror fan’s time. IMDB tells me that it’s now being presented under the title Final Prayer, so keep an eye out for it!
Son of Batman (April 17)
The story upon which this movie was based, Batman and Son, was part of Grant Morrison’s epic Batman run. This run was one of the first things I read when I got back into comics a few years back, and I wrote about it here. So as you can imagine, I was pretty damn excited for this animated adaptation. And, as a result, massively disappointed when I actually saw it. The film barely resembles the source material, omitting all but the most basic skeleton of the story and adding Deathstroke as the primary antagonist for some strange reason. And as Damian Wayne’s movie debut, it manages to capture all the character’s obnoxious qualities without any of his interesting ones. Maybe this reads like I’m some entitled fanboy who is upset that they dared change this precious, precious story, but I assure you that even without comparing it to the comic, this movie is still pretty crappy.
DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (April 17)
I remember having mixed feelings about the DuckTales movie when I first saw it. It was good and all, but it didn’t have the totally epic feel that I was expecting from a feature length motion picture of my favorite cartoon show – it felt more like just an extended episode with slightly better animation. And worst of all, Launchpad was barely in it! Also, the plot is almost exactly the same as that of Aladdin, which came out two years later. Weird! Anyway, the movie is not without its flaws, but if you like DuckTales, this is DuckTales with Christopher Lloyd as the bad guy, so of course it’s still a motherfucking duck blur!
Crater Lake Monster (Rifftrax version) (April 17)
The Guy From Harlem (Rifftrax version) (April 17)
Probably my two favorite Rifftrax installments ever, so obviously April 17th was full of laughter. Good for you, April 17th!
Wolf Creek 2 (April 20)
The original Wolf Creek was fantastic, so I had high hopes for this sequel. Now maybe it’s been a while since I saw the first one, but I remember the killer in that movie being a really evil backwoods psycho, who genuinely creeped me out. In this movie, they give him the Freddy Krueger treatment, making him a jokey catchphrase-spewer. That approach obviously works for Freddy, but I think it falls completely flat with this character, so I was extremely disappointed by this movie.
Watch Wolf Creek 2 on Netflix
Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods (April 20)
I guess the Batman and Son movie must have put me in a Grant Morrisony mood, since just three days later I decided to watch this documentary about him. Man, between Morrison and Alan Moore, why are all the best comic writers total lunatics who think they’re wizards? Morrison is a genius, but holy mackerel is he ever a fruitcake. If you want to see him blathering on and on about his drug-fueled forays into mystical realms of sorcery, then this film is for you.
Muppets Most Wanted (April 21)
I deemed The Muppets my favorite movie of 2011, so there was very little chance this one would live up to that precedent, and it doesn’t. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad movie – it’s not at all! But it’s amazing how much it followed the pattern of the original Muppet movie series, following up a hilarious and emotional origin story (The Muppet Movie/The Muppets) with a zany, relatively shallow spy-themed sequel (The Great Muppet Caper/Muppets Most Wanted). This is a fine movie, with lots of great moments and tons of laughs, but just don’t go in expecting it to be as magical as its predecessor.
Big Bad Wolves (April 24)
Quentin Tarantino called this Israeli revenge thriller the best movie of the year, and while his opinion generally means just about jackshit to me, in this case he’s not wrong. Big Bad Wolves is totally awesome, alternately making you squirm in your seat and laugh out loud. Some of the plot intricacies which involve Israeli culture went a bit over my head, but none of that is very important to the narrative, and most of it can be figured out with context clues anyway. If you can deal with that, and you don’t mind movies that make you feel very uncomfortable from time to time, then you should definitely check this out.
Watch Big Bad Wolves on Netflix
Tourist Trap (Rifftrax version) (April 26)
One of the rare instances where one of these Rifftrax/MST3K picks is a movie I think is actually pretty good. Tourist Trap is flawed for sure, but ultimately it’s a pretty decent horror film, and not the kind of total crap that usually gets riffed on. But having said that, the movie is just stupid enough that the riffing is still justified.
The Cabin in the Woods (April 27)
My favorite movie of 2012, and instantly one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I’ve watched this at least once a year since it was released, and I discover new things to love about it every time. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must.
Buffalo Rider (Rifftrax version) (April 27)
This was an unfortunate choice for Rifftrax, since the very obvious animal cruelty that occurred during filming outweighs most of the levity that can be gleaned from the experience. The best thing about this movie is that it led to me discovering the hilarious Guy on a Buffalo series on youtube. Skip the actual movie, and just watch that instead!
Vampire Academy (April 28)
I was looking forward to this for some reason, thinking it would be the kind of dumb teen drama that I love, but instead it’s the kind of dumb teen drama that I hate. More Twilight and less My Babysitter’s a Vampire, if you catch my drift.
I, Frankenstein (April 29)
The Frankenstein monster (as portrayed by Harvey Dent) is forced into an ancient war between demons and gargoyles, and somehow the result is a really, really boring movie. I’m just as surprised as you are.
Watch I, Frankenstein on Netflix
Bad Words (May 1)
Jason Bateman plays a jerk who exploits a loophole to enter children’s spelling bees. Of course this eventually leads him down a path of redemption to become a better person and bla bla bla. It’s all pretty rote and predictable, but luckily there are enough laughs along the way to make it worthwhile.
The Monuments Men (May 4)
With its World War II setting and highly esteemed cast, I expected this to be a more serious movie, but it’s definitely got more Indiana Jones than Saving Private Ryan in it. Which was a pleasant surprise for me, but even so it was still pretty mediocre as far as slapsticky wartime adventures go. Maybe Captain America has just spoiled me forever.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 4)
In 2012, I called The Amazing Spider-Man one of the worst superhero movies ever made, and somehow its sequel is even worse. This is largely due to Jaime Foxx, whose Electro is a fucking carbon copy of Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever. Not only is the character’s story arc almost exactly the same as Edward Nigma’s, but Foxx’s performance is also almost identical! What the fuck?? Look, I can forgive those Schumacher Batman movies to a certain extent, because back then there was barely any precedent for how to make a decent superhero movie. But in 2014, we had at least fifteen years of great superhero movies to refer to, so there is NO excuse for something like this. It’s a fucking disgrace, but ultimately I’m glad these movies sucked, because finally – FINALLY – Spider-Man will be appearing in Marvel Studios films where he belongs! Oh by the way, if you still have my Amazing Spider-Man review from 2012 open, check out that last line! I’m pretty smart!
RoboCop (2014) (May 4)
Hey, this was great! It was a very different type of movie than the original, but still pretty damn good in its own right. I didn’t know the dude from The Killing was playing Robocop until I sat down to watch the movie, and he turned out to be fantastic, as did Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton. Again, this might not be exactly what RoboCop fans are expecting, but I think anyone who goes into it with an open mind can find a lot to enjoy here.
Watch RoboCop on Netflix
Attack of the Puppet People (Rifftrax version) (May 6)
Another movie that I think would be entertaining with or without the Rifftrax commentary, this one involves a mad toymaker who shrinks humans down to the size of dolls for reasons I don’t remember. I really like stories where regular-sized people become tiny people, so this was a lot of fun.
Watch Attack of the Puppet People on Netflix
Clerks II (May 7)
I avoided this for years, imagining that it must be the worst piece of shit ever made, so when I finally got around to seeing it, it surprised me by being actually sorta okay. Dante is still the most annoying character of all time, of course, but I actually got a few chuckles out of the movie. Go figure.
Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie (May 8)
This, however, is the worst piece of shit ever made. I know this was a low-budget project, but I can’t believe someone as established as Kevin Smith could give the go-ahead on animation this terrible. It seriously looks like the worst kind of amateurish flash animation from the late 90’s. On top of that, Smith must have seen this cartoon movie as a project in which he could safely open the floodgates on his stupidest, most juvenile comedic instincts. All the dumbest elements of his previous work are magnified a thousandfold here, and the result is just an unwatchable mess.
Ernest Goes to Jail (May 9)
I watched this for How Did This Get Made? purposes, and while I enjoyed it slightly more than my recent viewing of Ernest Scared Stupid, it was still a pretty shitty movie. It did lead to me googling Ernest and discovering Ernest Goes To Splash Mountain though, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. Either that or I need to seriously readjust how I define “waste of time.”
Horrible Bosses (May 9)
This was pretty funny, and I must admit that Jennifer Aniston came damn close to giving me several boners throughout the movie. That’s really all I have to say about that.
Mazes and Monsters (May 10)
In one of Tom Hanks’ earliest roles, he plays a Dungeons and Dragons nerd, but then the game becomes real or something like that. I remember it being pretty fun at some points and pretty dull at others.
Idiocracy (May 10)
The best speculative fiction looks at the trends of the modern world and imagines where they might lead. Judging by that criteria, Mike Judge has told an amazingly perceptive (if not particularly optimistic) speculative fiction story in Idiocracy. And it’s really funny too!
Oculus (May 10)
Did you know that Oculus was made by WWE Studios? Neither did I, until I saw it during the opening credits. Why was this made by WWE Studios, you guys? There aren’t even any wrestlers in it! Whatever, in spite of that weirdness, this is actually a great little horror movie about an evil mirror, and the family whose lives are impacted by it. Horror fans ought to give this one a go; just don’t expect John Cena or anyone like that to show up.
Watch Oculus on Netflix
The Way Way Back (May 11)
I’ve been a sucker for summer vacation coming-of-age stories ever since Kevin Arnold fell in love with that girl at the lake, and this might be the best one I’ve ever seen. The lead kid is great, the supporting cast is awesome, and the whole thing is just so goddamn magical. I recommend watching this one in the dead of winter, just to make yourself feel all summery.
Adventureland (May 11)
Adventureland has a lot in common with The Way Way Back, which is why I decided to watch it right after The Way Way Back. But I think that was a mistake because Adventureland is a great movie, but doesn’t seem like such a great movie when it’s directly compared to The Way Way Back. I’m going to have to give this one another chance at some point when I haven’t just watched The Way Way Back.
Watch Adventureland on Netflix
Snowpiercer (May 12)
There are so many clever concepts in this sci-fi action masterpiece that it’s difficult to believe they managed to cram them all into one movie, especially a movie that takes place entirely on a train! In case you’ve been living under a rock, Snowpiercer takes place in a future where the Earth has entered a new ice age, and the entirety of humanity resides on an enormous train which perpetually speeds around the world. One of my favorite little details in the movie is the fact that the train’s cycle takes exactly one year, so important dates end up being marked by location, as seen in this awesome map:
The back of the train houses the lower class citizenry while the elite reside near the front, and this movie is about Captain America and his friends’ journey from back to front, to take down the power structure. Our heroes move gradually from car to car, and each new coach offers new challenges or battles – it almost follows the structure of a video game, which is so cool! If I have any complaints about the movie, it’s that the “final boss battle” is kind of cliched and dopey, a disappointing way to end a story which masterfully reinvents so many action movie tropes. Snowpiercer is based on a French graphic novel, by the way, but the movie is way better.
Watch Snowpiercer on Netflix
The City of the Dead (Rifftrax version) (May 18)
Not to be mistaken for the great Fulci film City of the Living Dead (aka Gates of Hell), this one is about a college student who gets trapped in a village full of witches. It’s not really a terrible movie, from what I can remember, but Rifftrax definitely makes it better.
Empire Records (May 21)
Here is what Carla posted on facebook after we watched this movie:
Welcome to the Dollhouse (May 21)
After Empire Records, we watched Welcome to the Dollhouse, to continue the 90’s trend. I’d never seen this one either, and for some reason I’d always thought it was a super serious movie about, like, death or child abuse or some shit like that. And while some of those elements are present, it’s mostly just a teenage coming-of-age comedy, and it’s pretty great.
Cheap Thrills (May 22)
David Koechner is the main attraction in this weird little comedy/thriller. He plays a sadistic rich dude who finds two young guys who are struggling financially, and offers them money to take part in increasingly crazy and dangerous dares. Since it’s a movie, this soon spirals out of control to a gloriously outrageous degree. This isn’t a masterpiece or anything, but it finds a really great balance between funny and disturbing, and its best moments are astoundingly entertaining.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 24)
There is so much great stuff going on in this movie that it’s pretty difficult to sum it up, so I am going to list my favorite things in bullet point format:
-It’s great to see the two generations of X-Men movie characters come together in a cohesive way.
-Time travel nonsense is such a staple in superhero comic books but hasn’t, to my knowledge, been explored a lot in superhero movies. It’s done really well here.
-I love that the X-Men films have sort of become a way to explore 20th century history through a superhero lens, and this may be the most ambitious example of that yet.
-The fight scene at the beginning of the movie might be the best live action superhero team battle I have ever seen. Seeing these characters bouncing their powers off each other in clever ways is just so exciting for a comic book fan like me. I especially loved the girl with the portal powers!
-Quicksilver’s scene = holy fucking shit! Marvel Studios is going to have their work cut out for them if they want to one-up this version of the character.
-The ending is brilliant. Not only is it a fun time travel concept, but it manages to eradicate the events of the awful, universally hated X-Men 3 in a semi-logical in-universe way. Is this the first time we’ve seen continuity retconning in a superhero movie? I think it is, and I love it!
-As much as the crossover nerd in me would love to see the X-Men in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, these movies just seem to be getting better and better. So, keep ’em coming!
Petals on the Wind (May 26)
In the sequel to Flowers in the Attic, everybody’s a grown-up and no one’s trapped in a cool, creepy attic, so it’s about a hundred times more boring than the first one. And it’s not like the first one was Indiana Jones! I’ll just let Crystal tell you about it.
Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (May 29)
This is pretty fun as far as these types of things go. Shannon Doherty, Christopher Lloyd, and Fred Stoller are in it, so that’s cool. Shannon Doherty’s face is weird-looking.
Watch Blood Lake on Netflix
Maleficent (May 30)
I expected this to be super Tim Burton-ish, but it turned out to be a fairly straightforward fairy tale story. It is extremely faithful to the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, the added backstory is pretty fascinating (though I wish some of the more interesting elements had been fleshed out a bit more), and Angelina Jolie does a pretty great take on this classic villain. As is often the case with these types of movies, my biggest complaint is how shitty the CGI looks – in this case, it’s some of the worst I’ve seen in a while. That’s a shame, but shouldn’t deter any Disney fans from checking this one out.
Sleeping Beauty (May 30)
So after seeing Maleficent, I came home and rewatched the original Sleeping Beauty because I hadn’t seen it in a while. I was actually really surprised by just how much the new movie used this one as its template. The scene where Malificent crashes Aurora’s christening is pretty much reproduced beat for beat, for example. So rewatching this simultaneously reminded me how great the original movie is, while also increasing my respect for the new one significantly.
Birth of the Living Dead (May 31)
A documentary about the making of Night of the Living Dead. There’s not a ton of new information here for those who already know a decent amount about the subject, but fans of the film or of Romero should get a kick out of this anyway.
Watch Birth of the Living Dead on Netflix
The Quiet Ones (May 31)
Tame and forgettable mainstream horror. I’m not one of those people who thinks that a PG-13 rating automatically renders a horror movie irrelevant, but movies like this are why people think that.
Grease 2 (June 6)
I was a huge Grease fan growing up, ever since my 6th grade girlfriend introduced me to the movie. Before I got into punk rock or anything else, my tape collection consisted almost entirely of Weird Al and the soundtrack to Grease. Yet somehow I never saw the sequel until now, and I was disappointed to discover that it’s just as bad as I’d always heard. The biggest bummer is how shitty the music is – this movie definitely needed a touch of Sha Na Na!
Superstar (June 12)
For some reason, between 1998 and 2000, Saturday Night Live started maniacally putting out movies based on semi-popular current sketches. After releasing three of these pieces of slapped-together shit (A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar and The Ladies Man), they came to their fucking senses and cut it out. Of the three, this is probably the best one, but please don’t take that to mean that it doesn’t suck.
The Bride and the Beast (Rifftrax version) (June 13)
I wish I hadn’t watched Superstar between those other two Rifftrax movies and this one, because then I could have just replaced the “two” in the above entry with a “three.”
The Grand Budapest Hotel (June 18)
I’m not a big Wes Anderson fan, having previously seen only two other movies by him (Rushmore [hated it] and The Fantastic Mr. Fox [it was okay]), and this didn’t really do much to change my mind. However, it’s definitely pretty to look at, almost to the point of being worth watching just for the visuals.
Sharktopus (June 19)
I thought for sure this wasn’t my first time seeing Sharktopus, but looking back at my previous “My Year in Movies” posts (which began in 2010, the year of this movie’s release) reveals that I’d never seen this before! How surprising is that?? I guess all these shark movies start to blend together after a while. This one is pretty good, and has Eric Roberts in it.
Dracano (June 19)
If all this movie did was drag Parker Lewis out of whatever hole he was living in, it would still be worthwhile. Luckily, it’s pretty fun even aside from that! The story has something to do with a nest of ancient dragons living in a dormant volcano or something like that, and then the volcano erupts and there’s dragons everywhere, and Parker Lewis has to do something or other to stop them from killing everyone. Anyway, there’s dragons in it, so watch it.
Only Lovers Left Alive (June 19)
This is an artsy fartsy German film starring Tilda Swinton and Loki as two centuries-old vampires who are trying to get by in the modern world without killing anybody. It’s interesting how this premise forces the supernatural elements to take a backseat to themes of boredom, depression and addiction, that most people can relate to (or, at least, relate to more than being an ageless monster). The movie is slooooooow-moving as fuck, but if you’re into that kind of thing (as I am), there’s a lot to love here.
Berberian Sound Studio (June 19)
As I just stated above, I often love slow-moving, artsy fartsy films. I also enjoy confusing, surrealist narratives a lot of the time – I fucking love Eraserhead, for instance. I say this not to brag about how sophisticated my tastes are (hah!), but so that there’s some context for what I’m about to say next: Berberian Sound Studio sucks and makes no fucking sense. It’s about a sound engineer who is hired to work on the soundtrack to a Argento-esque Italian horror film, and that admittedly interesting premise is the last thing I understood at all. You know what, I’m done talking about this movie. Fuck this fucking movie.
Watch Berberian Sound Studio on Netflix
Magic Camp (June 21)
You’d expect that kids who voluntarily attend a summer camp for budding magicians would be a bunch of dweebs, but what this documentary teaches us is that none of them are even likable dweebs. There are pathetically needy dweebs, embarrassingly cocky dweebs, fundamentalist Christian dweebs, delusional dweebs, and mean-spirited dweebs. It’s like a bunch of young Gob Bluths running around, except that these people are real, and it’s super off-putting. I hope I never meet any magicians, because if they’re this fucked up as kids, I can’t even imagine what they’re like as world-weary adults.
Watch Magic Camp on Netflix
Neighbors (June 21)
In case you’ve forgotten, this was the comedy where Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are new parents who live next door to a frat house. It has a lot of funny moments, but I found myself rooting for the frat guys rather than the married couple, which I think is the opposite of what the movie expects from its audience. On second thought, I’m not even really sure about that, and that is the big problem I had with the movie. It never really takes a clear stance on whether these college kids are inconsiderate dickheads, or if the couple are vengeful fuddy-duddy joykills. The script can’t seem to make up its mind about this, and so neither can the characters, and so neither can the viewers. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it really weird.
Animal (June 21)
I don’t remember a lot about this horror movie, but I remember thinking the monster was really cool-looking. That’s all I’ve got for this one, sorry.
Willow Creek (June 21)
I really hated Bobcat Goldthwait’s last movie God Bless America, even going so far as to end my write-up of it by saying that I hope he never makes another movie. Well, now I am forced to eat those words, because his found-footage Bigfoot movie is great! It’s hard to talk about Willow Creek without comparing it to The Blair Witch Project, but I think that’s a compliment, because in the 15 years since its release, very few found-footage horror movies have managed to get it as right as Blair Witch did. Like that classic, Willow Creek focuses on a very small group of characters (just two in this case), avoids showing the creature too much, and is very slowly-paced. So slowly-paced, in fact, that its shining moment is a 20-minute scene where the characters quietly cower in a tent. Honestly, just use your opinion of Blair Witch as a template for whether or not you will appreciate this movie. I personally loved it. Good job, Bobcat. Sorry I called you a pathetic old man!
Stage Fright (June 22)
A musical slasher starring Meat Loaf sounds like a brilliant idea on paper, but unfortunately Stage Fright is dragged down by mediocre music, and a story that alternates between taking itself too seriously and being aggressively dumb. I really wanted to like this one but I just couldn’t.
Watch Stage Fright on Netflix
Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes (June 22)
Willow Creek made me wanna watch more Bigfoot movies, but unfortunately it also set the bar too high for something like this to come close to. This isn’t awful or anything, but it’s pretty much exactly like any other modern found-footage horror movie.
The Frozen Ground (June 22)
Nicholas Cage is an Alaskan cop who is hunting for a serial killer played by John Cusack, which sounds like the kind of stupid movie I’d normally love. But sadly, Nicholas Cage is not in full-on lunatic mode here, so this ends up just being boring-bad instead of crazy-bad.
Watch The Frozen Ground on Netflix
Are All Men Pedophiles? (June 22)
According to the dude who made this kinda dumb and gross documentary, all men are not pedophiles, but it’s possible we might all be hebephiles. I felt dirty and ashamed while watching this movie, and I feel dirty and ashamed writing about it now.
Watch Are All Men Pedophiles? on Netflix
After Porn Ends (June 22)
An exploration of the post-porn lives and careers of several well-known “adult performers,” this documentary talks a lot without having very much to say, and what it does have to say is mostly pretty depressing. Why did I hate my penis so much on June 22nd??
Watch After Porn Ends on Netflix
Zapped! (June 28)
Not to be mistaken for the 1982 Scott Baio classic, this is a new Disney Chanel Original Movie about a teenage girl who downloads a new app on her smartphone that lets her control boys. That is just about the Disney Channelest plot of all time, and the movie is pretty decent.
Watch Zapped on Netflix
The Sacrament (June 30)
I am still waiting for Ti West to make another movie half as good as The House of the Devil, but this ain’t it. I thought the idea had potential: a found-footage movie about a reclusive and dangerous cult kind of like Jonestown. The problem is that this story isn’t just like Jonestown – it basically is Jonestown. I was expecting some unique twists on the concept, but it’s almost entirely a retelling of the actual incident, with just some names and minor details altered. If you’re gonna do that, why not just make a non-fictional movie? Confounding and disappointing.
Watch The Sacrament on Netflix
Mr. Nanny (July 3)
Mr. Nanny is a pretty entertaining family action movie, with an especially delightful gonzo performance by David Johansen as the villain. But the real highlight, as How Did This Get Made? points out, is when some guy throws a dog into a lake in the background of a scene:
The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story (July 5)
A documentary about Ub Iwerks, the Disney animator who worked side by side with Walt, and played a huge part in the creation of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse, among many other things. If you’re a Disney fan but aren’t familiar with this dude, you need to see this.
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (July 6)
Another great documentary, this one exploring the rich history of Australian exploitation films. It covers all the bases, from well-known properties like Mad Max to wonderful shit like Dead-End Drive In that only weirdos like me have seen. Australia is cool.
Elysium (July 7)
Worst mainstream science fiction movie since Avatar. Just utterly worthless.
That’s My Boy (July 7)
I may lose credibility with a lot of people for this one, but I loved this! I kinda wrote Adam Sandler off a long time ago, but I think That’s My Boy totally captures the feel of his early, goofball comedies (I still think Billy Madison is the funniest movie of all time). If you’re a strayed Sandler fan like me, I think this one is worth your time.
Newsies (July 8)
I’d never seen this before, believe it or not, and I loved it! Great music, cool old-timey New York sets, and fun performances (particularly Robert Duvall as the villainous Joseph Pulitzer). As a big Disney fan, it stinks that I missed the boat on this one for so long, but I’m happy to have finally discovered for myself how awesome it is.
Oliver & Company (July 8)
Newsies obviously put me in the mood for Disney movies set in NYC, so I rewatched this childhood favorite, and it’s still fucking great. Corny old Billy Joel as the streetwise badass is still kind of a puzzling choice, but he makes up for it with Why Should I Worry? which is totally one of his best songs.
They Came Together (July 9)
This movie seems to be extremely divisive; everyone I’ve talked to either loves it or really hates it. I am on the “love” side, and honestly can’t figure out what there is to hate about this movie. Essentially, it is the dudes from The State putting together a wacky, Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker-esque send-up of romantic comedies. I am by no means an expert on the genre being parodied here, but I’ve seen enough of them to recognize that They Came Together hits all the right notes. The writing is really sharp – subtle when it needs to be, and completely wackadoo when it needs to be – and the two leads (Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler) are hilarious. Plus, like any rom-com worth its salt, it takes place in New York City, so there were a lot of fun little NYC jokes. I particularly enjoyed the name of this subway station:
Anyway, I totally loved this movie, and I think that after a couple of decades of nothing but Scary Movie type garbage to represent this genre, we ought to be celebrating the fact that a parody movie this good actually got made. But like I said, a lot of people whose taste I respect seemed to totally despise it, so I guess judge it for yourself.
Bedtime Stories (July 10)
That’s My Boy put me in the mood for more Sandler, so I decided to finally check out his Disney movie. This isn’t really a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think it’s an interesting movie. I like it when genres get cross-pollinated, and Bedtime Stories is an almost perfect hybrid of a live-action Disney family feature and one of Sandler’s Happy Madison productions. All the elements of the former (sappy sentimentality, adorable kids, fantastical happenings) and the latter (a lovable loser getting redeemed, doofy voices, Rob Schneider shouting, “You can do it!”) are present and accounted for, but unfortunately they don’t end up meshing very well. I am impressed by the movie’s ambition, but ultimately you should just decide whether you’re more in the mood for Big Daddy or Freaky Friday, and just watch one of those.
The Secret Agent Club (July 11)
Another Hulk Hogan family movie, this one with a kind of Spy Kids vibe. I don’t remember much about it, except that it sucked.
All Cheerleaders Die (July 12)
A few of my horror nerd friends really loved this film about dead cheerleaders who come back as zombies to get revenge on the football jocks who killed them, but I thought it was kinda dull and cliched. Not terrible or anything, but there’s much better stuff out there.
Watch All Cheerleaders Die on Netflix
Horror House (July 12)
A horror anthology where all the stories take place in one house throughout the years. Sounds like a cool idea, right? That’s why I watched it! Well, hopefully someday somebody makes a good movie out of that cool idea, because this one is fucking dreadful.
Our Idiot Brother (July 12)
It’s rare that movies make me feel uncomfortable for personal reasons, but since I myself am the unemployed, unmarried loser brother to three successful older sisters, this comedy hit a liiiiittle too close to home for me. That aside, it’s very good, and Paul Rudd does an excellent job playing me.
Watch Our Idiot Brother on Netflix
Sabotage (2014) (July 13)
Arnold Schwarzenegger in a loose adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None sounds like it could either be a brilliant masterpiece or an unwatchable disaster. Guess which one this turned out to be?
Watch Sabotage on Netflix
Romeo & Juliet (2013) (July 13)
I thought this was a straight-forward new adaptation of the play, but what it actually is is a fucking insult to the intelligence of anybody who watches it. The film retains the story’s setting and time period, but aside from some of the most famous quotes, IT CHANGES ALL THE FUCKING DIALOGUE! Some dumb piece of shit either thought he could actually come up with better words than fucking Shakespeare, or else he thought his potential audience was too stupid to understand the original lines. Hey guess what, dipshit? Nobody who doesn’t want to listen to Shakespeare’s dialogue is going to pay money to go see a fucking Romeo & Juliet movie! Fuck everything about this shit movie.
Watch Romeo & Juliet on Netflix
Under the Skin (July 13)
I hate when I get to movies I really loved, because I have way more trouble articulating what I like than what I hate. That’s a shame, because I loved this movie and I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s great – go watch it and then start your own goddamn blog.
Bridesmaids (July 14)
This was pretty funny, but not as funny as everyone’s been telling me it is for the past three years.
Good Burger (July 14)
Despite my snarkiness about Superstar earlier, I really do have a soft spot for movies based on sketch show characters. Good Burger was a dopey one-note sketch from a dumb show, but the lead kids are charming enough to make this full-length version work in spite of itself.
Escape to Witch Mountain (July 14)
This was a childhood favorite of mine, and I distinctly remember it filling me with the type of wide-eyed awe and wonder that I rarely experience as an adult. For this reason, I have always been really hesitant to go back to it, worried that it would be massively disappointing. I am happy to report that, while it didn’t have nearly as powerful an impact as it did when I was little, it’s still a great and fun movie and totally worth revisiting.
Watch Escape to Witch Mountain on Netflix
Race to Witch Mountain (July 14)
I then decided to watch the 2009 reboot of the Witch Mountain franchise starring The Rock. The magic of the original is, of course, mostly gone here. But The Rock has an engaging enough onscreen presence that I thought this was adequately watchable, and not a total pile of puke. High praise!
Gooby (July 16)
I’d never heard of this until How Did This Get Made? got me to watch it, and fuck is it ever insane. It’s a British children’s movie (strike one!) where Hagrid from the Harry Potter films (strike two!) plays a kid’s teddy bear who comes to life as a horrifying six-foot tall manbeast (strikes three through ten thousand!). I can’t even express how creepy, gross and disturbing all of this is, but perhaps posting this picture will help you understand:
See, maybe when I was describing the plot, you thought the movie might be cute or sweet or whatever. But now you realize how wrong you were, right? Fuck you, Gooby!
Video Games: The Movie (July 17)
As a documentary on the history of video games, you’d think this would be right up my alley. But it feels like an introductory film that might be played in the first room of a museum exhibit or something: frustratingly basic, as if operating under the assumption that its audience has never heard of video games before. This is something I would enjoy if I watched it on a class trip to the Hall of Science or something, but as an actual full-length movie it’s pretty stupid.
Watch Video Games: The Movie on Netflix
The Sweatbox (July 18)
This is a documentary on the making of the Disney animated feature The Emperor’s New Groove, and my main takeaway from it is that Sting is a shitty human being. I’d known, somewhere in the back of my head, that Sting had contributed to the cartoon’s soundtrack, but I never knew just how deeply he was involved in the film’s production. And oh boy is he ever involved, generally being a pompous, ball-busting pain in everyone’s ass throughout the entire process. And it’s not as if The Sweatbox is meant as a piece of anti-Sting propaganda – it was actually directed by his wife, so I assume the point was to portray Sting in a positive light. But she just can’t keep his inherent annoying assholery from shining through. Honestly though, all of this did nothing but enhance my enjoyment of the documentary. If you’re interested in Disney animation, or if you’re just looking for a few new reasons to hate Sting, this is a must-see.
The Emperor’s New Groove (July 20)
I’d never seen this before, believe it or not, but after watching The Sweatbox, I had to finally check it out. It’s beautiful to look at, but unfortunately it suffers from being a product of its time – a time when Disney movies were way too reliant on snarky-ass wink-and-nod humor, and anachronistic pop culture references. This problem is exemplified by the casting of David fucking Spade in the lead role. I am grateful that Disney’s more recent fairy tale features have dropped this nonsense, trusting their audience’s ability to enjoy a simple fantasy story without having to be plowed with jokes about Starbucks or reality TV or whatever every two minutes. And even if you’re into that sort of thing, Hercules and Aladdin do it much better than The Emperor’s New Groove. Watching The Sweatbox made these problems doubly sad, because that documentary offers a look at the concept’s origins as a more straight-forward tale based on South American folklore, before it went through the endless corporate boardroom red tape that eventually spewed out this dumb thing.
Watch The Emperor’s New Groove on Netflix
Ping Pong Summer (July 22)
Another summer coming-of-age story very similar to The Way Way Back or Adventureland. It’s not nearly as good as either of those movies, but it’s still pretty good.
Popcorn (July 22)
This is an awesome slasher where the killer stalks a bunch of kids at an all-night horror marathon at a local movie theater. The slasher story works really well on its own merits, but what really makes Popcorn special are the three fictional films-within-a-film that were produced to be shown at the movie marathon. These are really well done (particularly Mosquito) and make the whole experience feel like a love letter to the history of horror movies. This is especially poignant since, having been released in 1991, Popcorn kind of came at the tail-end of the slasher era. It makes for a nice swan song.
The Last Slumber Party (Rifftrax version) (July 25)
Speaking of the slasher era, here is one of its products. Like 99% of its contemporaries, The Last Slumber Party is perfectly efficient at being mildly entertaining for 90 minutes, but ultimately entirely forgettable. Rifftrax makes it better.
Bad Teacher (July 25)
As I write this (February 17th, 2015), I just happen to have watched the movie Sex Tape last night, and I had totally forgotten that Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel had already been the romantic leads in a raunchy comedy previously! Much like Sex Tape (stay tuned for more on that next year, assuming I remember anything about it by then), Bad Teacher is pretty funny once in a while, but mostly pretty stupid.
The Expendables 3 (July 25)
I’ve loved all of the Expendables movies, and this one is no exception. Wesley Snipes and Kelsey Grammar are both fun additions, but the real standout here is, surprisingly, Antonio Banderas. I had no idea Antonio was capable of being this funny! Also, this is the second action movie of the year where Mel Gibson plays a third-wall-breaking villain, but this one is much better than Machete Kills.
Extract (July 27)
Another Mike Judge movie, that I’d never even heard of until I stumbled across it on Netflix. Like most of Judge’s movies, this one is pretty funny, mostly due to really likable characters. The cast in this one is really great overall, but to my surprise, Ben Affleck of all people steals the goddamn show.
Watch Extract on Netflix
The Goonies (July 28)
I went to see The Goonies with some of my oldest friends, at an outdoor summer screening on the lawn of Astoria Park. I can’t even express to you how magical this experience was. Not only was I in my old stomping grounds, with some of my favorite people, watching one of my favorite movies… but think about the implications of watching The Goonies with a huge audience of Astorians. Think about the cheering and comradery that occurred during lines like, “It was about the history of Astoria and these are the rejects” or “That makes us the richest people in Astoria”. Even though the movie’s setting is obviously an entirely different Astoria, this experience still made my civic pride shine brighter than it has in years. Viva Astoria!
A Tiger’s Tale (July 28)
Remember earlier when I wrote about Abner the Invisible Dog? Now it occurs to me that I was combining that movie and this one in my head, so some of the things I said about it might actually apply to A Tiger’s Tale. Specifically, this is the movie with the super porny production values. I guess I don’t really remember how porny Abner was or wasn’t. A responsible blogger would scroll up and edit that original entry, but fuck you. Anyway, this movie sucks in almost every possible way, but it does heavily feature an adorable baby tiger, so that’s something.
Batman: Assault on Arkham (July 29)
DC put Batman’s name in the title to shift units of this straight-to-DVD animated feature, but the truth is that Batman’s barely in it, and this is actually a Suicide Squad movie in disguise. And it’s fucking great! This is loosely tied in to the Arkham video game franchise, but it plays out more like a stylistic 70’s heist film. It’s full of violence and cursing and sexuality, but while I’ve complained about the presence of that stuff in past DC animated movies, it really fits in here. The roster of the Suicide Squad in this incarnation is great, and their interactions with each other is what makes the story work so well – I especially loved the dynamic between Killer Frost and King Shark. I’ve been pretty sour on these DC cartoons lately, so my enjoyment of this one was a nice surprise. And now I’m even more hyped for the upcoming live action Suicide Squad movie!
The Choking Game (July 29)
An insane Lifetime movie which takes place in an alternate universe, where auto-erotic asphyxiation is a widespread subculture among rebellious teens. Unfortunately, Crystal has not yet covered this one, but hopefully she will one day, because it’s one of the more outrageous Lifetime spectacles I’ve seen.
LOL (July 29)
Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore are a mother and daughter who are both trying to get laid, or something like that? Honestly, this one went in one ear and out the other.
Sharknado 2: The Second One (July 30)
For reasons that are still baffling to me, the first Sharknado was a huge viral sensation, even though it was no different than the other 50 SyFy shark movies that came out that year. It would have been impossible for the sequel to capture that same “magic,” so the filmmakers hedged their bets by (a) setting the film in New York City, and (b) cramming every minute of it with celebrity cameos. Seriously, everyone from Andy Dick to Al Roker to Jared the Subway Guy to Biz Markie. And that’s honestly just the tip of the iceberg – it feels like every two minutes, someone you kinda recognize shows up and gets eaten by sharks. Craziness! Anyway, the bottom line is that if you like these dumb shark movies, like I do, then you will enjoy Sharknado 2, like I do. I watched this one with a group of friends, and it made the experience way more fun, so that’s my recommended method.
Watch Sharknado 2 on Netflix
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 31)
I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes back in 2011, and I’m pleased to report that its sequel is even better! I dare say much better! This one focuses on the escalating tension between the growing population of smart apes, and the last remnants of humanity, as well as the tension between the apes themselves. And honestly, this might sound crazy, but I think it’s the best movie I’ve ever seen on the subject of war! It made me think about how conflicts originate, escalate and perpetuate in ways I’d never really considered before, and it entertained the hell out of me at the same time. Maybe I’m just an ignorant moron, or maybe this is a fantastic film, or (most likely) both.
Godzilla (2014) (July 31)
I was really looking forward to this, and it sucked. It just fucking sucked so much. And the most disappointing part of it was that it made a lot of the same mistakes as the notoriously sucky 1998 Godzilla film! I mean, Godzilla himself was really cool in this one, but he had like 10 minutes of screentime maybe. Hey Hollywood, when people go to see a movie with Godzilla’s name in the title, it’s because they want to see motherfucking Godzilla! Not because they want to see Walter White and Kick-Ass running around and doing boring bullshit! You’d think that would be a no-brainer, but apparently not!
She’s Too Young (August 1)
I went to Crystal’s house with a shitload of friends to watch this Lifetime movie, which features Emma from Degrassi, Marcia Gay Harden, and lots and lots of syphilis. Read Crystal’s write-up here.
Presumed Dead in Paradise (August 1)
After watching She’s Too Young, nobody wanted the fun to stop yet, so Crystal threw on another Lifetime movie called Presumed Dead in Paradise. Of the two movies, I found this one way more enjoyable, and expressed my disappointment to Crystal that her blog entry would focus on She’s Too Young. To my delight, she invited me to write about Presumed Dead as the very first guest poster on Live-Blogging Lifetime Movies! I am very proud of the final result, and you can read it right here.
Mutilations (August 2)
This 1986 horror movie is a ridiculous, terrible mess, in the same way that Troll 2 was a ridiculous, terrible mess. That is to say, it’s immensely entertaining. An impossible to comprehend plot, delightfully over-the-top characters, and low-budget but really imaginative special effects make this movie a trippy, stupid, confusing, and completely awe-inspiring experience.
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 3)
Just a couple of years ago, I was at a friend’s house, flipping through his comic book collection. I came across his copies of the 1985 Rocket Raccoon miniseries, and got a huge kick out of it. I hadn’t heard of the character before, and it just seemed like such a ridiculous, dated concept – like Marvel’s version of DC’s Captain Carrot. Who could have guessed that that fucking obscure, goofy character would be a goddamn household name just a couple of years later? Guardians of the Galaxy is proof that with all the right elements, even the most insane niche comic book concepts can be embraced by the mainstream, and it opens the door to a world where filmmakers don’t feel the need to dumb things down for a general audience, and literally anything can happen. It’s also a spectacular, magical movie in its own right, but enough people have written about that, so I don’t feel like I have to. It’s a great sign of things to come, as well as an instant classic which will be as much a part of this generation’s childhood memories as Star Wars or Indiana Jones was for old farts like me. You guys, I am just so glad that Guardians of the Galaxy exists.
Slither (August 4)
I was so impressed by what James Gunn did with Guardians of the Galaxy that I had to rewatch my previous favorite (and now second-favorite) of his movies. It’s still funny and gross and totally great!
The Karate Kid (August 4)
Despite enjoying the Karate Kid NES game as a kid (click here for more details), the actual movie was a big blind spot for me – I watched the Rifftrax version of Part III a couple of years ago, but I’d never seen the original until now! And so I was excited to venture out to Bryant Park with a friend for another outdoor screening. This was not nearly as enjoyable as the Astoria Park one – it was crowded as fuck, and we ended up having to sit on horrible metal chairs the whole time. The movie was great though, actually way better than I expected! And I finally understand what the fuck people are talking about when they say things like, “Wax on, wax off” or “Sweep the leg, Johnny.” But the best part of the evening was that before the movie, Bryant Park played a Marc Anthony Looney Tunes cartoon!
Watch The Karate Kid on Netflix
Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (August 4)
This sequel to Sharktopus was most famous for featuring a cameo appearance by Conan O’Brien, but unfortunately that’s just about all it has going for it. The fact is that, unfortunately, the Pteracuda turns out to be a pretty boring foe for the Sharktopus. Bummer.
Bears (August 5)
Bears is the latest Disneynature documentary, and as its title subtly implies, it focuses on some bears – a family of Alaskan grizzlies, to be exact. Unfortunately, this one pales in comparison to the last film in the series, Chimpanzee. Not because chimps are cooler than bears (they’re not), but mostly because the “story” being presented here is a lot less compelling and more blah than the story of Oscar the chimp. I mean, just the fact that I remember the stupid chimpanzee’s name years later is a testament to that fact. Do you think I remember the names that John C. Reilly made up for these bears? I don’t! So yeah, this isn’t the best, but it does feature a lot of footage of bears running around and doing bear stuff, so I guess it’s still worth a look if you like bears. And if you don’t like bears, go fuck yourself.
Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United (August 11)
I am running out of ways to say how much these Marvel cartoons suck, so I won’t even try. Suffice to say that this one sucks just as much, if not more, than all the others.
Watch Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United on Netflix
Jumanji (August 11)
I’ve never liked Robin Williams as a performer. In fact, if I’m being honest, I actually kind of fucking despised him. I find him annoying and embarrassingly unfunny in his comedic performances, and nausea-inducing in his saccharine, faux-folksy serious roles. Still, it was pretty sad the way he died, so I decided to give a chance to some of his movies I’d never seen, particularly the ones that seemed up my alley. I started with Jumanji which had a clever concept but a pretty piss-poor execution. To be fair, Robin Williams isn’t responsible for all of this movie’s problems, but he is responsible for its largest problem, which is the presence of Robin Williams.
Watch Jumanji on Netflix
Aladdin (August 11)
Aladdin, obviously, does not suck, in spite of Robin Williams’ best efforts. I can’t front and pretend I don’t have a soft spot for the Genie character, but it’s hard to deny how fucking annoying he is. And I blame Robin Williams’ performance here for starting the awful trend of grown-up humor and shitty pop culture references that plagues animated features to this day. You want someone to blame for Shrek? Blame the goddamn Genie. Anyway, I tried, you guys. I really tried to give Robin Williams a chance, but blechhh. At least he liked The Legend of Zelda, but he couldn’t even get through that commercial without grossing me out. Sorry, Robin. Rest in peace.
Boyhood (August 12)
It’s hard not be impressed by the way this film was made (filmed over the course of 12 years with the same cast, for those of you who have been living under a rock), but I was worried that Boyhood would be disappointing once you got past that novelty. Thankfully, it lives up to its promise, and offers an extremely unique look at growing up that would have been impossible without the gimmick. Sweet, sad, and almost painfully relatable for anyone who was once a kid and then grew up.
Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 13)
I have always been a fan of the Turts, and this documentary is a pretty interesting exploration of the franchise’s creation and rise to pop culture phenomenon. I’m sure that for hardcore TMNT fanatics, a lot of this is information they already knew, but for a casual fan like me this was great.
Koko: A Talking Gorilla (August 13)
I sort of became briefly obsessed with Koko the gorilla at around this time, and this was just one of many documentaries I watched about her. This one is listed here because it’s the only one which was officially a “movie.” But it was also one of my favorites, since it focuses on Koko when she was very young, something I had never seen before. If you want to learn more about the second-most-awesome talking gorilla of all time (next to Grodd, of course), this is a good place to start. Then move on to the PBS special A Conversation with Koko, or just get lost in all the YouTube footage.
The Signal (August 14)
Young sexy computer hackers vs. evil Laurence Fishburne in a mysterious dystopian landscape. I realize that could easily be the description of either a great movie or a terrible one. This is a terrible one.
Beneath (August 16)
I thought this horror film was pretty damn good, and it’s a shame how overlooked it was. It involves a group of teenagers getting trapped on a rowboat in the middle of a lake, while being stalked by a giant man-eating fish. One thing I remember about the movie is that the characters are really stupid. I know it’s a cliche for horror movie victims to be dumb, but these guys are just ridiculous, and every single decision they make will make you shake your head in utter disbelief. But, hey, that’s half the fun of movies like this! Aside from that, the isolated setting makes for some really tense moments, and the fish monster itself is really cool. If you missed the boat (hah!) on this one, I recommend checking it out.
How to Build a Better Boy (August 16)
One of the weaker Disney Channel Original Movies (and that’s really saying something), this one stars the incredibly grating and unlikable China Anne McClain as a nerdy girl who creates a robot boyfriend. It all plays out kind of like a gender-swapped G-rated Weird Science remake, except that there are no fun or interesting characters to carry us through the thing.
Watch How to Build a Better Boy on Netflix
Prehysteria! (August 16)
One of the many attempts to capitalize on the Jurassic Park– inspired dino-craze of the early 90’s, this movie is about a kid who finds some baby dinosaurs, and then has to protect them from evil scientists or something. My favorite thing is that the kid’s hip older sister names the dinosaurs after pop stars, so they’re all named, like, Hammer and Madonna and Paula. Awesome! It’s interesting to note that this was directed by Charles Band, creator of some of my favorite shitty direct-to-video horror movies (including my most favorite, Head of the Family), in an ill-fated attempt to expand into family films.
Life After Beth (August 17)
This horror comedy delivers a distinctly unique and surprisingly emotional take on the zombie genre. There are a lot of interesting ideas at play here, and the film is elevated further by a great cast (featuring Aubrey Plaza, John C. Reilly, Anna Kendrick and, for some strange reason, Paul Reiser). I know, I know – you’re sick of zombies, but you should check this one out anyway.
Leprechaun: Origins (August 26)
So this was billed as a reboot of the Leprechaun franchise, but please don’t be fooled by that bullshit. The titular character here is nothing like the hilarious little imp that Warwick Davis so memorably portrayed. This movie imagines the leprechaun as a feral little goblin creature who doesn’t speak at all, and who looks like this:
Now, the truth is that this isn’t a completely terrible movie – it’s entertaining enough as far as this kind of schlock is concerned. But as a lifelong fan of the original franchise, the bait-and-switch nature of this left a really bad taste in my mouth.
Varsity Blood (August 26)
I don’t remember much about this slasher, except that the killer was a sports mascot dressed like an Indian. I honestly can’t recall if it was good or bad, but either way it makes me happy that someone still bothered to make a slasher like this in the year 2014.
Kristy (August 26)
A college girl is alone on campus during a holiday break, where she is stalked by some sort of cult. This isn’t a great movie or anything, but the suspense works well for the most part, and it’s a decent way to dick away an afternoon.
The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story (September 2)
This movie was supposedly modeled after Dustin Diamond’s tell-all book, which implied that the Saved By the Bell set was a hotbed of illicit drug use and sexual perversions. But judging by the movie, the only real drama on set was typical teenage silliness – crushes and make-out sessons and cliques, etc. By all accounts the movie’s view of things is far more accurate than the book’s, which actually makes me pretty happy, but which also makes for a pretty boring movie. The cast here were all pretty decent at imitating the Bayside gang, and my favorite parts of the movie were the scenes from Saved By the Bell. For legal reasons, they couldn’t do exact recreations of actual scenes, so instead we get the film’s approximation of typical scenarios from the show, which I actually think is way more fun. If you’re a big Bellhead, I think this is worth watching just for that; just don’t expect a whole lot of juicy drama.
Europa Report (September 2)
I’ve watched a lot of astronaut movies on Netflix, and this is one of the better ones. Good cast, smart plot, effective tension, and a neat ending.
Watch Europa Report on Netflix
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (September 4)
The Angry Video Game Nerd is an internet personality who has made a career out of loudly cursing at old NES games, and now he’s made a feature length movie based on that premise. The plot involves the nerd searching for the legendary site of the Atari E.T. burial, which was really unfortunate timing for him, since that site ended up getting excavated in real life before the movie was released. Anyway, this movie sucks and is a waste of time. I think the Angry Video Game Nerd can occasionally be pretty funny and insightful, but you’re better off just skipping to his YouTube videos. And if you want a good fictional story involving the Atari burial site, check out the novel Lucky Wander Boy.
I Am Road Comic (September 4)
What is it like being a working stand-up comedian on tour? This documentary proves that the answer to that question is, “Who cares?”
Class of Nuke ‘Em High (September 6)
I have a real love/hate relationship with Troma movies. I adored them when I was a teenager, but whenever I revisit them as an adult, I am usually forced to sadly admit to myself that maybe this is something I’ve outgrown. So it was with a deep sense of melancholy that I went in to this viewing of the classic Class of Nuke ‘Em High, but I am ecstatic to report that this movie really holds up! It’s just as much fun, if not more so, than it was when I was a kid. In fact, I dare say that Class of Nuke ‘Em High might just be the best classic Troma movie. Just pure gross joy all the way through.
Watch Class of Nuke ‘Em High on Netflix
Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1 (September 7)
The reason I forced myself to revisit the original Class of Nuke ‘Em High in the first place was in preparation for this 2013 franchise reboot. Maybe the first movie just put me in an especially Tromatastic mood, but I thought this one was pretty good too! Not as good as the original, of course, but still pretty damn entertaining. As the title implies, it ends on a cliffhanger, which is a really bizarre approach for something like this. Volume 2 is supposed to come out this year, so I guess I’ll look forward to that.
A Million Ways to Die in the West (September 8)
I’ve never been shy about how much I dislike Seth MacFarlane. I hate Family Guy, I hate American Dad, I hate Ted. I hate it all! But, strangely, I found myself not hating this movie. In fact, I kinda liked it. I think I’m just a sucker for Westerns, yknow?
The Brittany Murphy Story (September 9)
I think I’ve been hitting the Lifetime movies a little too hard lately, because I found myself inexplicably stoked for this movie, even though I’ve never really given much of a shit about Brittany Murphy. Anyway, this is just about as boring as you’d expect, but it’s almost worth watching just for the poor young actor who has to do a fucking Ashton Kutcher impersonation throughout the whole film. Spoiler Alert: He does a great job!
WNUF Halloween Special (September 10)
My friend Oliver clued me into this movie, and I’m so glad he did, because it’s brilliant. The conceit is that this is a local TV news broadcast from the 80’s, where a reporter does a piece on a supposedly haunted house, and things go terribly wrong. The actual haunted house story isn’t anything special; it’s the movie’s gimmick that makes it so amazing. The idea is that this is a VHS recording of the broadcast from television, complete with 80’s-style commercials. This is the kind of idea that could easily go wrong, but it works perfectly here. Speaking as a child of the 80’s who grew up watching local television, every little nuance here is pitch perfect – I felt like I was back in my old living room watching WPIX Channel 11. If you have similar memories, I can’t recommend WNUF Halloween Special enough. It’s incredible, and has instantly earned a place on my annual Halloween playlist.
The Giver (September 12)
Apparently the young adult novel The Giver was a huge touchstone of early adolescence for many of my peers, but I had never even heard of it until the movie came out. But I really loved the movie! I’ve heard it dumbs down the book a great deal, but since I never read it, that’s no skin off my nose! I thought this was beautiful, thought-provoking, emotional and exciting. Having been left kinda cold by The Hunger Games, I am really relieved to finally find one of these young adult dystopian sci-fi stories that I can really sink my teeth into. Maybe now I should read the book!
Edge of Tomorrow (September 13)
Tom Cruise in a bizarre mash-up of Groundhog Day and Starship Troopers. I was intrigued by the plot of this one, and thought it had potential, but unfortunately the end result is a pretty stinky pile of poop.
The Sword and the Sorcerer (Rifftrax version) (September 15)
Not my favorite Rifftrax, but I think I’m just kinda not into these types of swords-and-sorcery movies, because I am equally bored by similar MST3K episodes like Quest of the Delta Knights. Shrug.
Drag Me to Hell (Rifftrax version) (September 15)
I praised this Sam Raimi horror movie back in 2010, and when I felt up to rewatching it in 2014, I decided to do so with Rifftrax. I said earlier that I’m not that into the “Blockbuster” Rifftrax entries, and that’s true, but I do like how they give you a nice little excuse to revisit movies you love.
The Possession of Michael King (September 17)
Michael King is a cynical skeptic, who seeks to disprove the existence of God or the Devil by personally undergoing a series of spells and rituals that are supposed to render him cursed and possessed. The idea is that nothing will happen, and he can continue to poo-poo occult concepts – can you guess how that works out for him? Hint: Read the title. Since the character is a documentary filmmaker, he films the whole process, thus giving a nice excuse for this movie’s found-footage format. I usually don’t go for these devily possession movies, but this one really worked for me!
Flying Monkeys (September 21)
A teenage girl gets a pet monkey, which eventually sprouts wings and turns into a bloodthirsty monster, and soon there’s a whole army of flying monkeys terrorizing the town. I enjoyed this SyFy feature way more than I expected to, mostly due to its similarity to Gremlins. It reminded me of all those cheap Gremlins knock-offs that got released in the 80’s, and I guess I didn’t realize how much I missed that kind of thing! More, please!
Honeymoon (September 28)
Honeymoon contains at least one really gruesome scene of body horror, but for the most part it’s pretty low-key, and slow-paced. It stars Ygritte from Game of Thrones and some guy, as newlyweds on a honeymoon in a cabin in the woods (red flag!), when she begins to mysteriously change. Supernatural shit is at play here, obviously, but it all reads as a metaphor for devastating changes that occur within relationships. I thought the presentation of this metaphor was both subtle and effective, and as someone who has been through more than my share of shitty relationship shit, it really spoke to me. Fantastic film.
Watch Honeymoon on Netflix
Don’t Blink (September 28)
Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, and a bunch of other nobodies go to a secluded mountain resort (red flag!), only to find that nobody else is there, not even any wildlife, and some mysterious-ass shit is clearly happening. Since this movie sucks ass and I don’t mind spoiling it, I will tell you that there is some local phenomenon going on, where any living thing disappears as soon as it is not being observed. So, the characters have to figure out how to get out of there without ever taking their eyes off of each other, and blablabla on and on it goes. I wanted to like this movie because the concept is fairly clever – it reminds me of one of Stephen King’s better books, or of something you might read on the awesome SCP Foundation website – but it is just so poorly put together. Skip this.
Watch Don’t Blink on Netflix
22 Jump Street (September 28)
If you liked the first one (I did, quite a bit), you will like this one. If you didn’t, you won’t. It’s really just more of the same, which could be a plus or a minus depending on your perspective. If you do like it, make sure you stick around for the end credits sequence because, without spoiling anything, I thought that was the funniest part of the entire movie.
The Purge: Anarchy (October 1)
Last year, I said this about the original Purge:
“The Purge has a fairly interesting near-future dystopian concept, and I would love to see a story that takes full advantage of it, instead of using it merely as the set-up to one of the stupidest home-invasion thrillers you will ever see.”
Well, the sequel actually does just that, giving the concept the expanded breathing room that it deserves, and spreading its chaos out into an entire city. Unfortunately, it’s still really stupid and boring. E for Effort though, The Purge.
Saturday Night (October 1)
This documentary about the making of a Saturday Night Live episode was directed by James Franco as a film school project. A lot of people have pretty strong feelings about Franco, but rest assured if you don’t like him that his presence is pretty invisible for the most part. The film takes us through the week-long production of an episode of the show (specifically, a 2008 episode hosted by John Malkovich), and it’s fascinating. I always knew that production on SNL was hectic, but I never had any idea it was this hectic! It’s crazy to watch the show knowing that many of the sketches I’m seeing weren’t even conceived six days earlier! It definitely makes me feel way more forgiving of the sketches that don’t work, and way more appreciative of the ones that do. If you’re even remotely interested in Saturday Night Live, this is totally worth watching.
Thale (October 3)
A dark fantasy film from Norway about the discovery of a huldra, a creature from Norwegian folklore which turns out to be real. This movie has the right spirit, I think, but ultimately it’s too dull and unnecessarily artsy-fartsy for me to really recommend.
Watch Thale on Netflix
Horns (October 4)
Sometimes I think that Joe Hill isn’t really Stephen King’s son, but is actually an exact clone conjured up through some eldritch ritual. The books of his that I’ve read aren’t bad or anything (especially Locke & Key), but they utilize every Stephen King trope you can possibly think of. For a guy who changed his name to avoid being in his father’s shadow, he sure hasn’t done a very good job of forging his own identity. Anyway, Horns is based on one of his books, and it stars Harry Potter as a guy who is (perhaps falsely) accused of his girlfriend’s rape and murder, and then he mysteriously grows horns on his head which bring out the innermost darkness of anyone he encounters. Who knew that such darkness could lay just beneath the surface of a quiet New England town?? You know who knew that? Stephen fucking King, in just about every single one of his books! And it’s not just the basic premise that is super Stephen Kingish – everything is, from the plot twists to the ending to the cornball dialogue (“I’ve never been with a jigaboo before,” says one woman under the influence of the horns, confessing to having an affair with her golf instructor, “but it’s true what they say about black cocks – I call it my five iron”). Anyway, the Stephen King vibe wouldn’t bother me as much if this was a good movie (as many King adaptations are), but it turned out to be predictable, grating, and painfully mediocre.
Watch Horns on Netflix
Gravity (October 4)
This was the first 3D movie I’ve ever watched on a 3D TV, and it blew me the fuck away. Why is TV 3D so much better than movie theater 3D?? And this movie was the perfect showcase for it – the visuals and effects were breathtaking! That’s honestly really all the movie had going for it, with barely a plot to speak of, but it was good enough for me. I think of a movie like this almost like a painting, something to simply stare at and admire.
Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (October 5)
I disliked the original Cabin Fever enough to write a song about how much I hated it. Then I enjoyed Cabin Fever 2 enough to second-guess my hatred of the first movie. Well now that I’ve seen the third installment, I’m glad to say that all is right in the world, and I totally hate Cabin Fever again!
Watch Cabin Fever: Patient Zero on Netflix
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) (October 7)
Have you seen this movie? Have you ever even heard of it? I hadn’t, but man is it great! Based loosely on a series of real murders in Texarkana, TX in the 1940’s, the film explores the impact such an event can have on a small town, and manages to do so without ever taking itself too seriously. In fact, the tone here is so uneven and bizarre that some people might think it doesn’t take itself seriously enough, but I am not one of those people – I loved it. For the most part this is a slasher – and a pretty bloody and brutal one at times – but whenever the movie switches focus to the cops who are hunting the killer, the tone changes to what can best be described as goofy, slapsticky 70’s comedy. It can be pretty jarring, but ultimately it’s what made the movie stand out as a pretty unique experience for me.
Teenage (October 7)
Did you know that the word “teenager,” and the demographical distinction it represents, only came into being in the twentieth century? This documentary explores the evolution of youth culture that led to this specific category of human beings. A bunch of different youth movements are featured here, from the British Paris Hilton prototypes the Bright Young Things to the American flappers, and what almost all of them have in common is the way they band together to take a stand against everything from oppression to boredom. It proves that the headstrong cockiness of teenagers, while often annoying, can legitimately change the world if pointed in the right direction. I fell in love with all of them, but my favorites were the Hamburg Swings, a group of German kids who defied the Hitler Youth culture they were stuck in, by smuggling swing records across the border and throwing secret dance parties. Their leader, Tommie Scheel, said, “We wanted to tell all those dumb bastards that we were different, that’s all” which might be the most teenager-est quote of all time.
Watch Teenage on Netflix
Invaders From Mars (October 9)
Fun little kiddie alien invasion movie from the 80’s, made by Tobe Hooper. Apparently it’s is a remake of a 50’s sci-fi feature that I’ve never seen, but this version has the 80’s written all over it.
The ABC’s of Death 2 (October 10)
I thought the first ABC’s of Death had a concept with a lot of potential (26 short horror films, each representing a letter of the alphabet), but that the shorts themselves were mostly pretty weak. Luckily, the sequel happens to be much, much better. I found something to like about nearly all of the pieces here, and unlike the original, it left me wanting for more. Here’s hoping the series will continue on.
Halloween (October 12)
During this part of the year, I was temporarily subleasing some friends’ apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn while they went on tour, and it happened to be right across the street from the amazing Nitehawk Cinema. Nitehawk is an independent movie theater that serves food and booze, and consistently schedules really cool midnight revival screenings. I was sure that, during my time in that apartment, I’d be frequenting the Nitehawk at least a couple times a week, but the sad truth is that I only ended up going there one time. For a midnight screening of Halloween. By myself. 😦 Still, it was a good time. I ate pumpkin-flavored popcorn and got drunk from a spiked milkshake as I watched one of the best horror movies of all time, and then only had to stumble like 1000 feet to fall into bed.
Discopathe (October 13)
Discopathe, made in Canada in the year 2013, is an intriguing mix of a sleazy 70’s NYC horror film and a sleazy 70’s Italian giallo horror film, and somehow that combination really works. If you’re into that type of bullshit, this homage is worth checking out.
Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort (October 14)
I adore the original Wrong Turn, and in 2012 I got around to watching all the sequels, most of which I didn’t care much for. Wrong Turn 6 continues that tradition, and might actually be the worst one yet. Actually, Part 5 was pretty damn bad too. I dunno.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (October 15)
This week, still in that Brooklyn apartment, I rewatched the Twin Peaks TV show, and then rewatched Fire Walk With Me, and then watched the newly-released “Missing Pieces,” which consists of 90 minutes of deleted scenes from the movie. Like many people, I think Fire Walk With Me was a failure as a continuation of the TV show, extending the show’s dark and surreal qualities to an unbearable degree, while completely ignoring its humor and light-hearted quirkiness. The “Missing Pieces” fills in that gap wonderfully, and even includes most of the characters from the show who were stupidly omitted from the final cut of the movie. Man, some of the scenes here might just be among my favorites from the entire franchise! If you’re a Twin Peaks fan who was left a little cold by the movie, you need to seek the “Missing Pieces” out as soon as possible. In fact, by now there must be a fan-edit out there which inserts those scenes back into the movie, so let’s all go search for that!
WolfCop (October 16)
This movie is about an alcoholic small-town cop who is also a werewolf, so as you can imagine, it’s fucking glorious.
Chrysalis (October 18)
In a culture swamped by zombie movies, Chrysalis manages to stand out from the crowd by setting itself 25 years after the initial zombie outbreak. This is such a simple little idea, but it really makes a huge difference in terms of the world of the story, and I can’t believe nobody else has thought of it until now. Good job, Chrysalis.
Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong (October 19)
I think it might be time for me to finally let go of the Gingerdead Man. It’s time to admit to myself that he had one great movie, and that everything else has been varying degrees of crap. This crossover, where he battles the most obnoxious horror villain of all time, is his worst outing yet.
Blue Velvet (October 19)
Everyone always focuses on Dennis Hopper, and with good cause, but I think that Kyle McLachlan is so damn good in this movie. His character’s wide-eyed naivete is what draws us through the weird and sick journey that the movie takes us on, and I feel like he doesn’t get quite enough credit for that. But yeah, Dennis Hopper is certainly awesome too.
Monkey Shines (October 20)
I remember as a kid I always assumed this was some kind of Stephen King adaptation, due to its poster being so similar to the cover of King’s Skeleton Crew.
It’s not of course, but it is a really weird movie by King’s Creepshow collaborator George Romero. Monkey Shines is the story of a quadriplegic man and his eeeeeevil helper monkey, with whom he has some kind of psychic connection. It’s not a bad idea at all, and there are a bunch of really cool moments, but for the most part the movie drags on just a little bit too long and takes a few too many boring-ass detours. Please consult the How Did This Get Made? podcast for more commentary on Monkey Shines, should you desire it.
Treehouse (October 20)
A couple of kids are trapped in a treehouse, as they are stalked by mysterious strangers. The movie attempts to divide its focus between the more horrory elements, and the bonding between the two kids, and that balancing act often feels forced and awkward to me. The final result is still decently watchable, but not a must-see or anything.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) (October 20)
The “based on a true story” nature of the original Town That Dreaded Sunset allows for its sequel/reboot/whatever to have a really interesting concept. It takes place in modern-day Texarkana, in a world where both the original crimes AND the 1976 movie based on those crimes happened, and are part of the local zeitgeist. This leads to a really interesting, fourth-wall breaking mystery story, where the existence of the original film, and the real-life filmmakers behind it, become part of the narrative. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and I’m glad I discovered and watched both of these films at around the same time, because they really work well together as companion pieces.
Watch The Town That Dreaded Sundown on Netflix
We Are the Best! (October 26)
Beautiful, adorable, heartbreaking, and inspirational Swedish film about three 12 or 13-year-old girls who start a punk band in 1980’s Stockholm. Despite the cultural differences between these characters and myself, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more accurately portrayal of what it’s like to start a punk band at around this age. Or, for that matter, a more accurate portrayal of simply being this age. One of the best movies I saw this year. And as a bonus, it introduced me to some fantastic Swedish punk songs, including my new favorite Brezhnev & Reagan Fuck Off:
The Dorm (October 26)
An MTV original horror movie had too much “guilty pleasure” potential for me to pass up, but this Craft-esque movie about a college freshman who falls in with a mysterious clique is pretty blah for the most part. Manny Santos from Degrassi is fairly engaging as the villain, but beyond that there’s not much to see here.
+1 (October 27)
Triangle is one of my favorite movies of all time, and +1 follows a similar trajectory but, well, it’s no Triangle. Annoying characters, a boring house party setting, and an endless amount of stupid plot holes keep this one from reaching any potential it might have had. Just go watch Triangle instead.
Watch +1 on Netflix
The Snowtown Murders (October 28)
This super disturbing serial killer thriller is based on actual events, proving yet again what a fascinating cesspool of human misery Australia is. It’s made all the more disturbing by the lead actor’s uncanny resemblance to Nick Jonas.
Watch The Snowtown Murders on Netflix
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (October 28)
This movie is not quite as bad as everyone says it is. Actually, yeah it is, so let me rephrase that… this movie is not as different from any other incarnation of the Ninja Turtles as everyone says it is. These are the same Turts you have always known and loved – their personalities are authentic, the dynamic between them works just fine, and in my opinion they even look pretty damn cool. They’re just stuck in a really fucking shitty movie, where Shredder is a 10-foot-tall Transformer, and April O’Neil is a Megan Fox. If you’re really aching to see a new version of the TMNT themselves, this movie will provide that. But if you want to see them in an engaging, interesting story with a decent supporting cast, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Zombeavers (October 30)
Is it any surprise that I loved a movie about sexy college kids battling a hoard of zombie beavers? Probably not, but unlike the usual barrage of stupid horror crap I subject myself to, it might surprise you to hear that I think other people might like this one too! It’s actually really good! In fact, if I were a movie reviewer for the New York Post, I might even go so far to say it’s DAM GOOD!
The Babadook (October 31)
Australia’s awesomeness seems to be this year’s running theme, and they’ve done it again with The Babadook, hands down the best horror movie of 2014. It’s such a good movie, in fact, that I almost feel like it’s a disservice for me to refer to it as a horror movie, because I think it transcends genre and would appeal to anyone who likes quality movies. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where I can’t really expand on why I loved it so much, because doing so would spoil key plot points. So please just take my word that The Babadook is thought-provoking, emotionally resonant, and aesthetically captivating. It also happens to be scary as fuck.
Left Behind (2014) (November 3)
I’ve never seen Kirk Cameron’s notoriously insane Jesus freak-a-thon Left Behind, but when I heard that it was being remade with Nicholas motherfucking Cage, I was stoked. And then, as has been the case with a lot of Nicholas Cage projects lately, I was disappointed. Left Behind purports to be an exploration of some grand Biblical concepts, but at the end of the day it was really just a movie about a pilot attempting to land his airplane under some stressful circumstances. That’s honestly all the movie is about. I thought I was gonna see some off-the-wall shit with angels engaging in epic battles with demons or whatever, but no, Nicholas Cage just needs to land his plane. Once he does land it, the movie abruptly ends. On a positive note, the song that plays over the end credits is the best thing I’ve ever heard, and was stuck in my head for days:
V/H/S: Viral (November 4)
I really think this might be the best V/H/S film yet, but as I am wont to do, I will begin by focusing on the negatives. First of all, the whole concept of finding videos on old V/H/S tapes has been entirely dropped, in favor of a more internetty approach, which works okay but is a really weird move for a franchise that is called V/H/S. Secondly, the wrap-around story here really sucks and makes no sense. Having said that, the reason to watch these movies is for the short films, and they are excellent for the most part. We have the story of a powerful magician which feels more like a superhero movie than anything else, a short about a bunch of skater kids battling evil skeletons, and best of all an alternate universe tale which goes in crazy directions I never saw coming. The opening segment of V/H/S: Viral is pretty difficult to get through, but I promise you that if you do, there’s plenty of great stuff here.
Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters (November 4)
Before a single year could even pass, we already get our second dose of Garage Sale Mystery, so thank you for answering my prayers, Hallmark Channel! This one is pretty much the same as the first, and they feel more like two episodes of a TV show than two movies, but that’s just fine by me. Oh man, imagine this was a TV show?? That would make me so happy! There’s my new prayer, Hallmark Channel. Get to work.
Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (November 6)
I walked out of the theater with mixed feelings on this one, and the more I reflected on it, the more those mixed feelings skewed negative. The movie is stylistically impressive and the performances are great (particularly Michael Keaton himself), but underneath all that pomp and circumstance, this is really just a tired bunch of pretentious cliches. I couldn’t tell at first whether the dismissive attitude about superhero/action movies was just a view that certain characters had, or whether the movie itself was taking that stance – I now think it was almost certainly the latter, which is such an obnoxious, ignorant fucking boring hill to die on in the year 2014. Especially considering the fact that Birdman‘s coolest segments are those which actively satirize that genre. I admit that it’s possible I’m misinterpreting the movie, but even if that’s the case, this is still pretty stupid for the most part.
Interstellar (November 12)
Last year, when talking about All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, I figured out that my mass consumption of small direct-to-video slasher movies was preventing me from appreciating the “bigger” mainstream slasher movies when they came along. Well now I think I can say the same thing about astronaut movies. It’s hard to see what the big deal is about Interstellar when stuff like Europa Report is just as good if not better. This wasn’t terrible – it had an interesting premise, one of my favorite robots in movie history, and at least one really clever sci-fi concept when they went to that one planet (you know the one I mean). But it was too long, too desperate in its attempts to ape 2001, and the ending was completely absurd. But, like I said, if this was the only astronaut movie I’d seen since, like, Prometheus, I’d probably appreciate it a whole lot more.
Big Hero 6 (November 14)
Big Hero 6 barely resembles the Marvel comic book on which it’s based, but I kind of like that – I think it’s interesting that they’re using the Marvel catalog to mine for ideas the same way they’ve always used public-domain fairy tales and folklore. I was pretty excited about this one, but it ended up leaving me slightly disappointed. Big Hero 6 is not a bad movie – in fact it’s a very, very good one – but it was in the unfortunate position of having to follow up Tangled, Wreck-It-Ralph and Frozen. Which sort of makes it the Pocahontas of the current era of Disney animation. That’s a pretty unfair criteria by which to judge a movie though, and this one deserves better. It’s funny, action-packed, emotional, and full of memorable characters (Baymax the robot, predictably, steals the show), just like any good Disney movie should be. Hopefully this one will be able to get out from under the icy shadow of Frozen, and stand the test of time on its own merits.
Wish Upon a Star (November 17)
Scream queen Danielle Harris and Katherine Heigl are two sisters who wake up in each other’s bodies, as a result of – you guessed it – a wish upon a star. This goes through all the familiar tropes of kiddie body-switch comedies, so there’s nothing really new to see here, but it’s still a pretty fun ride. Just once I’d like to see one of these where the characters get stuck in each other’s bodies permanently, and the movie ends with them committing suicide.
Watch Wish Upon a Star on Netflix
Dadnapped (November 20)
This Disney Channel Original Movie from 2009 pulls out all the big guns – Justin Russo, Hannah Montana’s best friend, and best of all Mr. fucking Moseby. The plot involves a bunch of nerds kidnapping the author of a popular series of children’s novels, and his daughter having to get him back. It’s pretty dumb. I loved it.
The Maze Runner (November 26)
After falling in love with The Giver, I was hungry for more dystopian young adult fiction, so I found myself really excited for The Maze Runner. And while it’s no The Giver, this is still pretty damn good. The world established here is really engrossing, and I guess the only thing that disappointed me was the ending. Not only is it the most cliche ending you can imagine for this type of story, but – SPOILER ALERT – it leads to the main characters leaving the maze behind! Now I don’t doubt that the sequels can establish other settings that are also cool, but goddammit they can’t possibly be as cool as the maze! The movie is called The Maze Runner for god’s sake! I guess I will reserve judgment for now, but I’m pretty nervous about it.
Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever (December 3)
A bunch of us gathered at Crystal’s house with the intent of viewing a Lifetime Christmas double feature – Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever and An En Vogue Christmas. Unfortunately we never got to the En Vogue movie because we were too busy, like, talking and being friends and boring shit like that. Maybe next Christmas! We did, however, watch the Grumpy Cat movie, and while we all started out sarcastically mocking it as usual, by the end I’m ashamed to say that I legitimately enjoyed this movie. Read all about it on Crystal’s blog.
The Parent Trap (1998) (December 6)
At a friend’s house, we were browsing Netflix for like 30 minutes to find something to watch before finally, for some reason, settling on this. My main takeaway from watching The Parent Trap is how incredibly talented Lindsay Lohan was from the very start. This was her first major role and it was an incredibly demanding one – she had to play two distinct characters, one with a British accent – and she pulled it off perfectly. She was so great, and it’s such a terrible shame what’s become of her.
Legends of the Knight (December 11)
A beautiful documentary about the ways in which Batman has inspired real-life humans to overcome adversity and better themselves and their communities. I cried and cried and cried and cried.
Watch Legends of the Knight on Netflix
Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (December 23)
December was an extremely rough month for me, and at this point I needed a little Christmas. This “movie” reminds me a lot of something like Quackbusters, in that it’s mostly just a compilation of old cartoons with a paper-thin wraparound story. But hey, that’s just fine with me! I will take any excuse to watch some old Disney cartoons, especially when one of them is the masterpiece Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
Watch Mickey’s Magical Christmas on Netflix
Elf (December 24)
My father and I went to my sister’s house in Virginia, to spend Christmas with her family. We all watched Elf together on Christmas Eve. It was nice.
Into the Woods (December 25)
Then, on Christmas Day, we ventured out to the movie theater to see Into the Woods. I am unfamiliar with the Broadway musical from which this was adapted, but I thought this was pretty good. The music was great, and most of the performances were good (Little Red Riding Hood especially stood out to me). I did think it was strange that, essentially, the story ended a half-hour before the movie did, and then a brand new story was introduced. Almost as if a sequel was crammed in at the end of the first movie. I am not sure if that’s the way the play is structured too, but it’s fucking weird.
Love Actually (December 28)
For whatever reason, a lot of people have been telling me this year that I should watch Love Actually. And so I did. And it’s pretty good.
Santa Claws (December 28)
The Asylum try their hand at a family Christmas movie, and the results are predictably insane. The story involves a bunch of kittens taking over Santa’s delivery duties on Christmas Eve, but the real highlight here is Santa himself. You see, Santa has a lot of allergies, and his violent allergic reactions are a running joke. Most of Santa’s screentime involves gurgled wheezing, gasping for breath, loudly coughing and hacking up phlegm, and moaning in pain. It’s so, so foul, and such a strange choice. I loved every disgusting second of it.
Watch Santa Claws on Netflix
Tusk (December 30)
I haven’t been too kind to the works of Kevin Smith lately, and especially hated his last foray into horror Red State, so I was mentally prepared to completely despise Tusk. But to my surprise, it ended up as one of my favorite movies of the year (just narrowly missing my Top Ten list)! The film starts off just as unpleasant as I expected, introducing us to the main characters, played by Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, and the beautiful Genesis Rodriguez. They are all awful, and watching these obnoxious douchebags banter with each other is just the worst kind of Kevin Smithy Kevin Smithness you could imagine. But before too long, Justin Long ventures out to the spooky house where the majority of the movie takes place, and from that point on, Tusk is fucking great. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I will just say that the rest of the movie is legit scary, really funny, and genuinely surprising. Excellent job, Kevin Smith! Thanks for closing out my year of movies on a positive note, and welcome back to my heart!
Well, that’s all folks! Another year of movies down! Here’s my Top Ten list for 2014:
10 – The Giver
09 – Honeymoon
08 – The Babadook
07 – They Came Together
06 – X-Men: Days of Future Past
05 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
04 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
03 – Snowpiercer
02 – The LEGO Movie
01 – Guardians of the Galaxy
I think it’s pretty great that Star Lord and Captain America are responsible for my FOUR favorite movies of the year! Hooray for superheroes! Hooray for movies! And hooray for me, for finally finishing writing this! Please keep checking The Sense of Right Alliance throughout 2015 for my Nintendo Resolution series, and I’ll see you next year to talk about another billion shitty movies!