I thought that I had watched fewer movies than usual in 2015. I really did. But, I didn’t. Not at all. Before we get to that, though, let’s first take a look back at my movie-watching stats from previous years:
So how many movies did I watch in 2015? I watched an embarrassing 367 MOVIES, just a single film shy of 2013’s all-time record. When you combine that with the insane amount of video games I beat in 2015, it becomes clear that I barely left the house. In my defense, I spent the last 1/3 of the year in my first extended period of unemployment in more than a decade, so I had a lot of free time! I spent much of that free time watching stupid movies.
The movie’s titles (for the most part) link to their IMDB pages, and when applicable, I also provide links to streaming sites where you can watch them free and legally. You’re welcome.
Here are the movies I watched in 2015:
Dinosaurus! (Rifftrax version) (January 1)
I believe this is the first year in which my inaugural movie was a Rifftrax. I don’t remember Dinosaurus very well, but it seems like a good start to a year of movies that ended up being pretty consistently dinosaur-themed.
As Above, So Below (January 1)
This horror movie takes full advantage of one of the creepiest real-life settings in the world (at least that I’ve personally seen): the catacombs underneath Paris. The cool thing about As Above, So Below is that, since it is about a real-world place with real-world history behind it, it ends up feeling as much like an Indiana Jones/National Treasure type of adventure movie as a traditional horror film. It’s successful on both fronts, and was the first of many great horror movies I saw in 2015.
The Scribbler (January 1)
This mind-bendy thriller stars Black Canary from Arrow as a girl with multiple personality disorder who has to kung-fu fight her various personalities inside the dystopian landscape of her own mind, or some shit. I honestly can’t remember if that description is a spoiler or not, so I apologize if it is. The whole thing is pretty eye-rolly and clichéd, and I’m ashamed to admit that I mostly watched it because the multiple personalities are played by an all-star lineup of girls I’d love to kiss, including Eliza Dushku, Sasha Grey, and Dawn from Buffy. Anyway, there are some pretty fun fight sequences here, which make the movie not quite as bad as you might think, but still mostly pretty bad.
Watch The Scribbler on Netflix
The Guest (January 2)
The Guest is about a family in the midst of grieving their son, who was killed in action in the military. When a dude shows up who claims to have been in their son’s unit, they welcome him with open arms, but things are not what they seem!! Because it has the same director as the inexplicably beloved You’re Next, I’ve noticed a lot of people categorizing The Guest as a horror movie. It’s not, at all. It’s more like an action-thriller, which owes a large debt to the genre films of the late 80’s and early 90’s. It’s also fucking fantastic, and has a great soundtrack and score. Even if you’re like me and didn’t see what the big deal was about You’re Next, you should definitely check this one out anyway.
Watch The Guest on Netflix
The Interview (January 2)
Remember all the hullabaloo about this movie? That sure was stupid, huh? After all that ado, The Interview turned out to be just sort of a mediocre comedy. The movie has some great moments for sure, but overall it’s not really anything to write home or blow anything up over. Shrug.
Watch The Interview on Netflix
Dracula Untold (January 7)
I was really, really excited when I heard that Universal was planning to create a cinematic universe out of its classic movie monsters. And then I saw Dracula Untold. This is the film meant to kick off that concept, and holy crap is it awful. Like, worse than Van Helsing awful. Hopefully this ends up being a Green Lantern-esque false start, and they can kick this shit off right in a couple more years.
Jodorowsky’s Dune (January 7)
I’ve never read Dune or seen the David Lynch movie, so I was afraid that this documentary would fly right over my head. I shouldn’t have worried, because no prerequisite knowledge is necessary to appreciate this story of a complete lunatic who tried and failed to make the most insanely ambitious movie of all time. I mean, this dude Jodorowsky is straight-up fucking nuts. His eight-hour adaptation of this sci-fi novel was meant to feature the talents of Orson Welles, H.R. Giger, Salvador Dali, Pink Floyd, Moebius, Mick Jagger, and a million other awesome people. The most interesting thing the documentary reveals is just how influential this unreleased version of Dune became. After the movie was canned, the script and concept art kinda got passed around Hollywood, and directly influenced elements of cultural touchstones like Star Wars, Alien, Terminator and others. If you like “What If” stories about movies, or documentaries about crazy people, then please consider Jodorowsky’s Dune essential viewing.
Wonder Women (Rifftrax version) (January 9)
This movie has nothing to do with the DC Comics superhero Wonder Woman, and the Rifftrax guys sure make a lot of jokes about that fact! Unfortunately, that’s about all I can remember about this one.
Guardians of the Galaxy (January 10)
I rewatched my favorite movie of 2014, this time on my friend’s huge 3D TV. I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this in past years, but man is TV 3D better than movie theater 3D, and Guardians of the Galaxy is an excellent showcase for it. It also is a superb movie, but you knew that already.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (January 13)
I’m still extremely annoyed that DC has chosen to go with a unified New 52-esque approach for their animated movies, but of the cartoons that have been released under this new directive, Throne of Atlantis is possibly the best. It still feels pretty lifeless and devoid of imagination, but there’s some decent character development and some great action sequences. Not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but you’d still be better off rewatching The New Frontier or something.
Ouiji (January 19)
Do I even need to tell you that Ouiji sucks? Probably not, but I’m about to: Ouiji sucks. The concept of a Ouiji board movie isn’t a bad one, but because this is an officially licensed Hasbro product, I guess they were aiming for a family audience and as a result the movie has no teeth at all. I have seen episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? that go further with the horror stuff than this movie. I can’t imagine that even pre-teens would be frightened or shocked by this thing at any point, but I’m pretty sure the movie was a hit, so what the fuck do I know?
The Incredible Shrinking Woman (January 19)
If I recall correctly, this 1981 Lily Tomlin vehicle came up in conversation somehow, and so I decided to watch it. It’s super weird, you guys! The plot is so meandering and directionless most of the time, which makes it sort of a bad movie in objective terms, but also makes it really, really fun to watch. And it heavily features a gorilla, so that elevates it a few notches in my book.
The Scarehouse (January 21)
From what I remember, this was a pretty shitty Saw-esque movie with some erotic thriller elements. It’s been a while since I watched it, so I could be remembering some of that incorrectly, but definitely not the “shitty” part.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (January 21)
If you’re ranking feature film adaptations of 10-page children’s books, this one falls somewhere in the middle. It’s charming and fun enough, but not anything really special. My main memory is that is inexplicably features What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes as a running gag. I’ve noticed that song rearing its ugly head in a lot of movies and TV shows lately, and it’s very confusing. What’s going on, indeed.
Predestination (January 24)
Robert A. Heinlen’s -All You Zombies- is one of my favorite science fiction short stories, and one I would have deemed impossible to adapt into a feature film. But by god they’ve done it, and they’ve done it really, really well. Ethan Hawke was kind of a weird choice for the main character, but he does a good job. Meanwhile, Sarah Snook (who I’d never heard of before seeing this movie) absolutely fucking KILLS her role. I don’t want to say too much more, because this is a movie you ought to go into blind, if you’re not already familiar with the source material. Predestination is one of the best time travel movies in years, and a must-see for any sci-fi fan, whether they’ve read the original story or not.
Time Lapse (January 24)
Predestination put me in the mood for more time travel stuff, so I watched Time Lapse, which is about a group of young adults who discover a camera that can predict the future. The premise and set-up here are really cool, and ultimately the movie is decent, but it bogs itself down by having its characters make the most unbelievably stupid choices. Often it’s difficult to judge the actions of characters in an outlandish situation, but not this time. I judged them HARD. For instance, when one character decides to use the camera to play the ponies, he does it by contacting a gangster bookie, and repeatedly making bets with increasingly huge pay-outs. Why would anybody do this?? Just go to the fucking OTB or something, man! And honestly, that’s just the tip of the stupid-decision iceberg. It’s very frustrating and distracting, but at the end of the day Time Lapse is still a decent way to piss away a couple of boring hours.
Watch Time Lapse on Netflix
The Infinite Man (January 24)
More time-travelly type stuff, from Australia this time. This is about a guy who invents a time machine, with the intention of using it to fix a botched romantic getaway which led to his girlfriend breaking up with him. Wacky hijinx ensue. The movie’s twists and turns are sometimes a little hard to follow, and it often feels like a goofy sex comedy in science-fiction skin, but it’s still pretty watchable and entertaining. If you’ve already watched every other time travel movie in the world, give this one a go.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (January 25)
These keep getting suckier and suckier. You’d think robot dinosaurs would make this worthwhile, but they’re barely in it, and when they are they kinda suck. The movie is also about three hours long, which is mind-boggling. I’ve been standing up in defense of the first Transformers movie for years, but holy shit are the sequels unbearable.
Watch Transformers: Age of Extinction on Hulu Plus
The Dark Power (Rifftrax version) (January 26)
Lash LaRue is an actor who was known for brandishing his signature whip in 1940’s western movies. In 1985, for reasons I can’t even begin to imagine, he starred in this sleazy movie about undead Native Americans terrorizing a house full of sorority girls. Lash is about one thousand years old, and still constantly doing gratuitous tricks with his dumb whip. As you’ve probably guessed, I love this movie! The Indian monsters are hilarious and awesome-looking, the kills are great, and Lash himself is a lot of fun. The Rifftrax commentary doesn’t hurt either!
Kiss of the Tarantula (Rifftrax version) (February 3)
This Rifftrax, on the other hand, I barely remember at all. I keep thinking I do, but then I realize I’m getting it confused with Kingdom of the Spiders. So, I dunno, this is probably funny?
LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League (February 4)
Like all of LEGO’s direct-to-video licensed movies, this is funny, cute, and nice to look at. If you’re like me and desperately miss the Batman: The Brave and the Bold series, these LEGO cartoons are probably the closest thing to a current equivalent.
Housebound (February 4)
This New Zealand film is about a girl who is put on house arrest at her mother’s home after a botched robbery, and then weird shit starts happening. I liked it a lot – it’s suspenseful and unpredictable and above all, really damn funny. I honestly don’t wanna say much more because there are a lot of twists and turns here – like, a lot. So yeah, watch it.
Watch Housebound on Netflix
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (February 5)
What can I even say, at this point? This was just as disappointing and stupid as the first two entries in the series, perhaps even more disappointing and stupid. Just read the fucking book and save yourself about 8 hours.
A Good Marriage (February 6)
Stephen King adaptations are always hit-and-miss, but I don’t think I’ve seen one as aggressively awful as A Good Marriage. I’ve never read the short story it’s based on, so I’m not sure whether to point the blame at King himself or at the filmmakers, but either way – holy fucking shit. The premise here is that Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia are an extremely happily married couple, until she discovers that he is secretly a serial killer. If that sounds like the plot to a shitty Lifetime movie, well it should, because that’s exactly what this feels like. Worse, even. Hey, aren’t Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia somewhat respected actors? I think they are, but then why are they so fucking bad in this movie? Like porno-level bad, no exaggeration. They take a script that’s already a steaming piece of poop, and make it even more embarrassing with their terrible fucking performances. A Good Marriage is so bad that I’d honestly categorize it with stuff like The Room or Birdemic if it wasn’t so incredibly dull. Unless you write a blog about awful Lifetime movies or something like that, you should definitely skip this.
Jurassic City (February 7)
Proving that he’ll pretty much do anything nowadays, Ray Wise is top-billed in this mockbuster about a group of prisoners who have to fight velociraptors. It’s all pretty bad and barely entertaining. If memory serves a T-Rex eventually shows up as well, and it’s neon blue for some reason, so that’s something I guess? I saw another “Jurassic” knock-off later this year which had way more to offer, so either wait for me to tell you about that one, or just rewatch Raptor Island.
976-EVIL II (February 7)
In 2013, I watched the original 976-EVIL for the first time, and found it to be pretty lackluster. A bunch of people told me that the sequel was much better, and they were right, but it’s still kinda meh. Less meh, but still meh. Meh.
The Hunters (February 7)
A kid’s adventure movie, starring a group of teens who span the globe searching for mystical artifacts, Indiana Jones-style. It’s okay. I like this goof from the movie’s IMDB page:
Alien Outlaw (Rifftrax version) (February 8)
Yet another movie from what was apparently a really depressing comeback for Lash LaRue’s in 1985. This one isn’t anywhere near as good as The Dark Power, bur Rifftrax still makes it fun.
The Bronx Warriors (February 11)
Sometime in early February I ran into an out-of-town friend and fellow bad movie enthusiast at a show. We got to chatting, and he told me about a movie he’d recently seen called The Bronx Warriors. He described it as a shitty low-budget version of The Warriors, which was very clearly produced in Italy even though it supposedly took place in New York City. He told me that there was even a sequel to the movie, which he planned to watch soon. I told him that his description made The Bronx Warriors seem very similar to the MST3K classic Escape 2000, and that he should probably check that one out too. We thanked each other for the recommendations, and then presumably went and watched punk bands or something stupid like that. A few days later, I downloaded The Bronx Warriors, and guess what? The sequel my friend was referring to is Escape 2000, which was also released under the title Escape From the Bronx. So after seeing that MST3K episode a zillion times over the years, I suddenly found myself watching a real-deal prequel to it, with some of the same characters and everything! It was very, very exciting! It still is! For a MSTie like me, it’s the equivalent of discovering Mitchell Part 2 or The Return of Manos or something like that! If you’re like me – a huge MST3K fan who somehow was unaware of The Bronx Warriors – you need to seek it out immediately!!
Grizzly (2014) (February 12)
Also known as Into the Grizzly Maze for some reason, this is Billy Bob Thornton and Cyclops vs. a grizzly bear. It’s not the best killer bear movie I’ve seen by any stretch, but it’s decent enough.
Annabelle (February 13)
I really disliked The Conjuring and, predictably, I really dislike Annabelle too. If I had to rank them, I’d say this one is slightly better, but still totally not worth your time.
Lucy (February 13)
This piece of shit isn’t worth your time either. Of the many ways in which it sucks, the most offensive might be how goddamn smart it thinks it is, especially when compared to how embarrassingly stupid it actually is. Smart movies and stupid movies can both be great, but they have to be at least a little bit aware of which one they are, and that is certainly not the case here. Lucy is the dumb kid who tries to appear smart by incorrectly using big words.
Big Eyes (February 14)
Big Eyes lacks most of the characteristics that would make it recognizably a Tim Burton film, and while many people would probably count that among its virtues, I was a bit disappointed. What you’re left with is a pretty standard biopic, and like most biopics I found it watchable enough, but not really my cup of tea.
Dead Weight (February 14)
If I remember correctly, Dead Weight was a love story with the zombie apocalypse as a backdrop, which I suppose makes it appropriate viewing for Valentine’s Day. I think it was pretty good.
Found (February 14)
A 12-year-old kid who is obsessed with horror movies suspects that his older brother is a serial killer. As someone who got into horror movies at a young age, I can’t remember another movie that more accurately portrays that experience – the fascination, the sense of taboo, the fear, the shame at that fear, the exhilarating feeling of empowerment that comes from peeking through your fingers to watch the scariest scenes. The movie captures these moments beautifully, and as such serves as both a love letter to the films themselves, and a surprisingly poignant coming-of-age story. But don’t let that fool you, because in addition to being a movie about horror movies, Found also is a horror movie, and a pretty gory and disturbing one too. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but I think it’s worth watching for anyone who can remember the thrill of coming home from the video store with a bag full of horror tapes.
Gone Girl (February 15)
Objectively, I could tell that Gone Girl was a pretty tense and exciting movie, but since I sorta knew too much about it going in, it wasn’t very effective for me personally. Mostly, I’m just surprised that given the current climate of gender politics, this movie (which features an innocent dude being falsely accused of abusive behavior by a crazy woman) could receive so much mainstream acclaim. But anyway, I guess my point is that Gone Girl is pretty okay, I think.
Bad Hair Day (February 16)
Bad Hair Day is a Disney Channel Original Movie starring Ally from Austin & Ally and the mom from Good Luck Charlie in a goofy buddy comedy. I’d say this is one of the better Disney Channel movies, and actually has a few legitimately funny moments, mostly due to the Good Luck Charlie mom, who is one of the funnier grown-up actors to grace the Disney Channel sitcom landscape in recent years. This isn’t quite on the upper shelf with Camp Rock or Teen Beach Movie, but it’s still pretty damn good.
Watch Bad Hair Day on Netflix
Sex Tape (February 16)
I guess comedies aren’t necessarily supposed to have plausible plots, but this one is so stupid that it gets pretty eye-rolly at times. Having said that, it’s got its fair share of funny moments – a scene at Rob Lowe’s house stands out in my mind as particularly enjoyable. Overall I’d say this is worth your time if you’re very bored and have seen every other movie in the world.
Zardoz (February 16)
I’ve always been vaguely curious about this 70’s fantasy flick starring Sean Connery, but I never bothered to actually watch it until compelled to do so by the great How Did This Get Made? podcast. For some reason, in spite of Connery’s insane outfit, I’ve always assumed this was some kind of misguided family film. Holy shit is it ever not that! The movie begins with a giant stone head screaming about how penises are evil, and progresses into an insane sex-fueled nightmare. And somehow, it also manages to be really dull most of the time! Even if this all sounds like the kind of thing you’d be into, I’d recommend skipping Zardoz and just watching Hell Comes to Frogtown instead. It’s weird in all the same ways, but way less boring, and features the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper.
John Wick (February 19)
Keanu Reeves sucks a lot of shit most of the time, but dopey action movies seem to be where he excels, and this one might just be his best. John Wick keeps the plot simple and straightforward (almost to the point of nonexistence), while ramping the awesome action and fight scenes up to 10, which is more or less exactly what I’m looking for from this genre. Recommended!
Horrible Bosses 2 (February 19)
Last year I described the original Horrible Bosses as “pretty funny” and I guess I’d put the sequel in the same ballpark. Neither are essential viewing by any means, but neither will make you roll your eyes out of your head either.
Poker Night (February 22)
This is a crime thriller about a bunch of cops having a poker game and then some stuff happens. I remember that at one point a guy gets a gun krazy-glued to his hand so that he’ll get shot when the cops tell him to drop his weapon, but that’s about all I remember. Sorry.
Watch Poker Night on Hulu Plus
The Loft (February 22)
I mostly watched this because its poster reminded me of Hitchcock. The movie is about a group of unbearable douchebags who decide to chip in on an apartment that they can all use to cheat on their wives, and then one day they discover a lady’s corpse in the bedroom and have to figure out which of them did it. The filmmakers here were obviously attempting to channel Hitchcock’s grasp on suspense and paranoia, but they fail miserably. For one thing the characters are despicable across the board, and unlike the characters in movies like Rope, you don’t find yourself caring about them in spite of that. The plot is also complete and utter nonsense, the type of crap where every twist and turn makes you more and more frustrated instead of more and more intrigued. The Loft is garbage, you guys. Right below this, it says “Watch The Loft on Netflix” but actually, please don’t.
Watch The Loft on Netflix
Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band (February 23)
Fun Fact: The first two 7″ records I ever bought in my life were Screeching Weasel’s You Broke My Fucking Heart EP and Pansy Division’s Fem in a Black Leather Jacket single, both on the same day at Generation Records in New York City, when I was 14 years old. Screeching Weasel soon became my favorite band of all time and while Pansy Division never came close to that type of status, they were still very formative in the early days of my punk rock life. This documentary serves as a reminder that, however you feel about the band’s music, it can’t be denied that they’ve had one of the most interesting trajectories of all time. I mean, these guys went from being ostracized within their own small punk scene to being profiled on MTV when they toured with Green Day (which, incidentally, is when I became aware of them), to continuing for decades after their 15 minutes of fame were over. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ve had a shitload of really fun songs, which this movie is eager to showcase. Despite my interest in music, documentaries about bands usually bore me, but this one was great. If you like Pansy Division, or punk music in general, don’t miss this!
Foxcatcher (February 24)
This was okay, I guess. I wasn’t even remotely familiar with the true story it dramatizes, so it kept me mildly interested throughout. That is, when I wasn’t completely distracted by Steve Carell’s awful, clownish make-up. What the hell were they thinking with that shit??
Kiss Me Deadly (February 26)
Last year, in the process of shitting all over the awful Hotel Noir, I requested recommendations of actual noir movies, and a bunch of people stepped up with some great suggestions. The first one I checked out was 1955’s Kiss Me Deadly, and it was awesome! The only problem for me was that after a lifetime of seeing these types of films parodied and deconstructed, it’s kinda weird to go back and watch the real thing – I almost felt like I was waiting for a punchline the entire time. But once I was able to let go of that, I really enjoyed this!
Pickman’s Muse (February 27)
Very crappy adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark. Lovecraft’s storytelling style always seemed to me like it’d be fairly easy to translate to the medium of film, so it never ceases to surprise me how sucky most Lovecraft movies are. Come on, movies, do better!
Pants on Fire (February 27)
This Disney Channel Original Movie stars Gabe from Good Luck Charlie, who I think is one of the funnier kids from the Dis-Com stable. The premise of the movie is pretty fun too: What if every bullshit lie or excuse you ever made up actually came to life? Pants on Fire has a lot of fun fleshing out this concept, and ends up being a pretty entertaining movie.
Watch Pants on Fire on Netflix
Watch Pants on Fire on Hulu Plus
Dirty Deeds (February 27)
Peter Petrelli from Heroes and Lacey Chabert star in this 2005 teen comedy, which was part of a wave of American Pie knock-offs to come in the wake of that movie’s success. If you’re in the mood for that kind of thing, then this is as good as anything else, I suppose.
Starry Eyes (February 28)
Dull, melodramatic cult-based horror. This left me pretty cold, but almost every other horror fan I know seemed to love it, so maybe it’s best not to take my word on this one. Judge for yourself.
Watch Starry Eyes on Netflix
Clown (February 28)
After a father puts on a magical clown costume for his kid’s birthday party, he find himself morphing into a killer clown with a taste for the blood of children. Although the “killer clown” concept is extremely well-worn, Clown introduces some really unique and original ideas into the mix, and it ended up being one of my favorite horror movies of the year. FUN FACT: I watched Pants on Fire and Clown within two days of each other, and although they couldn’t be more different, they both featured near-identical scenes of a costumed character chasing children through a generic version of Chuck E. Cheese. Very odd coincidence!
The Canal (February 28)
I barely remember this one, but I think it was a boring ghost story. If you like boring ghost stories, maybe check out The Canal. If it turns out that it’s not a boring ghost story, I apologize.
Watch The Canal on Netflix
Call Girl of Cthulhu (February 28)
So if you’re a Lovecraft fan, you probably know to stay far away from a movie called Call Girl of Cthulhu, right? If so, you’re smarter than me. I mean, I knew this would suck from the title alone, but my appetite for Lovecraft movies eventually compelled me to watch it anyway. As you can probably guess, this has less interest in exploring Lovecraft’s themes and tone, and more interest in cashing in on the memetic popularity of Cthulhu. It’s all tentacles and blood and sub-Troma production values. The one upside is that it features my friends Night Birds on the soundtrack – a fact which makes me hate to shit all over the film, but shit all over it I must. Trust your instincts on this one, people!
Fun in Balloon Land (Rifftrax version) (March 4)
One of the more absurd subjects ever tackled by the Rifftrax crew, 1965’s Fun in Balloon Land is really just an informercial for a parade-balloon company disguised as a movie. IMDB even lists “Giant Balloon Parades” as the production company! The movie starts off with some semblance of a “plot” as a little kid has a dream where he travels to the magical realm of Balloon Land (which seems suspiciously like a balloon company’s shitty warehouse). The kid spends twenty minutes or so staring at huge, completely stationary balloons, and has awkward exchanges with terrible voiceover actors. And if that’s not creepy enough for you, he’s also wearing gold lame underpants most of the time. Then, the movie abruptly shifts to a full hour of someone’s awful home-video footage of a Thanksgiving parade in Pittsburgh in the 1960’s, with commentary by an obviously unhinged narrator. It’s one of the most insane movies ever, and therefore one of the funniest Rifftrax ever. Don’t miss it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (Rifftrax version) (March 4)
I covered this movie last year and came away with the opinion that the movie sucked, but that its interpretation of the Turtles themselves was fairly on point. This year I rewatched it again, this time with Rifftrax commentary. Honestly, the riffing doesn’t add much to this one, so if you are hellbent on seeing it, just watch it on its own. Or, preferably, don’t.
The Haunted Palace (March 4)
Directed by Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price and Lon Chaney Jr, this 1964 movie was originally billed as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Haunted Palace… which is extremely odd, because it’s actually an adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. No idea how Poe got all mixed up in there, but in any case it’s a pretty great movie! Vincent Price is terrific (as always) as Charles Dexter Ward, and the movie actually includes concepts such as the Necronomicon, Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. It’s by no means a perfect adaptation, but it’s an early example of a movie that actually had the balls to take on Lovecraft without feeling the need to work around some of his more wacky ideas. And even if you don’t care about Lovecraft, it’s just a great 60’s haunted house film.
Digging Up the Marrow (March 5)
I’m not really a fan of Adam Green, the writer and director of Hatchet and a few other mediocre horror movies. So I don’t know what compelled me to watch this mockumentary, which Green not only wrote and directed but also stars in as himself – but I am really glad I did, because it’s quite good. The conceit of the film is that Green is in the process of making a documentary about the use of monsters in art, when he meets a retired cop (played by Ray Wise, whose talent is utilized much better here than in Jurassic City) who claims to have discovered a secret community of real monsters. It’s kind of the thinnest sliver of plot imaginable, and the film adds a lot of unnecessary padding to compensate for that, but the whole thing gets elevated by great performances from Wise and – more surprisingly – Green himself. The end result isn’t a masterpiece or anything, but if you’re a fan of horror (specifically the kind inspired by urban legends) or of the mockumentary format, Digging Up the Marrow is worth a look.
Gnome Alone (March 5)
This is a shitty Leprechaun rip-off, starring the always-unpleasant Verne Troyer as a killer gnome. Because of the title, I was hoping the gnome in question would at least set up elaborate traps to murder his victims like Kevin McCallister did, but even that was too much to ask for from this piece of shit.
Christian Mingle: The Movie (March 6)
I had the pleasure of watching this gem with my friend Crystal, of the brilliant Live-Blogging Lifetime Movies blog, but for some reason she never posted a review of it! Which is odd, because it’s outstandingly gross and insane! Based on the faith-based dating website of the same name, this romantic “comedy” was written and directed by none other than motherfucking Corbin Bernsen, who appears to have become a wackadoo Jesus freak somewhere along the line. Another celebrity whose Jesusyness surprised me was the leading lady of the movie, Lacey Chabert! What a strange path it must have been that led you from Dirty Deeds to Christian Mingle in just ten short years, Claudia Salinger! I hope you’re doing okay. Anyway, in the movie Lacey plays a girl who is not very religious but is so incredibly desperate for a man that she pretends to be a devout Christian in order to utilize christianmingle.com. Why she didn’t just use OK Cupid like everyone else is beyond me. The rest of the film is exactly what you expect – she meets a guy, they fall in love, he finds out she’s lying and leaves her, she decides to devote her heart to our lord and savior Jesus Christ, they get married. You know, a typical love story. But all of that is irrelevent, because this is the only scene in the movie that matters:
First of all, yes that is Morgan Fairchild playing the boyfriend’s mom, so apparently she’s some sort of Christian as well. But more importantly, take a look at the contents of that dinner table. This is a restaurant called Steaks & Cakes, and if there’s ever been a more apt name for a dining establishment, I haven’t heard it! Not only does this restaurant serve a family-style platter of enormous fucking steaks AND an entire chocolate cake, but apparently they throw the whole concept of courses out the window by serving them simultaneously! Without any side dishes either, because WHO THE FUCK NEEDS THEM? EAT THE STEAK AND EAT THE CAKE AND GO THE FUCK HOME! My god, I wish this restaurant was real. There aren’t many things which could get me to accept Jesus into my heart, but I think Steaks & Cakes could do it.
The Pyramid (March 8)
Typically awful and soulless mainsteam found footage horror, which involves an archaeological team exploring a lost pyramid and encountering a dangerous supernatural force. You’d think the supernatural force in question would be a mummy, but it’s actually the Egyptian god Anubis, which was a unique enough idea to impress me a little bit. Unfortunately, that’s the only good will the movie ever managed to earn from me, and they quickly shat all over it. Because, since this is a 21st century mainstream horror movie, Anubis is brought to life the same way all monsters are brought to life in 21st century mainsteam horror movies – via terrible-looking, laughably unscary CGI.
I’m used to this sort of thing, of course, but it’s a real shame in this case, because I think the base concept of this villain is a pretty good one. Oh well.
I Am Nancy (March 9)
I’ve always been a fan of Heather Langenkamp, and her character Nancy Thompson from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, but sadly my admiration has been dampened a little bit by this pointless and self-congratulatory documentary. The movie’s purpose is to explore how the Nightmare franchise’s continuous popularity has impacted the actress’ life, and my main takeaway is that she wishes it would impact her life more. Every other word out of her mouth is some sort of joke about how the fans all love Freddy Krueger and don’t really care about Nancy, but they’re the kind of jokes where you can tell that the person isn’t really joking, you know? The movie made me really believe that Heather Langenkamp spends most of her time going to horror conventions, where she can barely contain her jealousy of the attention paid to Robert Englund. Which is, y’know, kinda pathetic. I still love you, Heather, but my god – get a grip!
Joysticks (March 9)
Somehow I’d gone my entire life without any awareness of Joysticks, a Porky’s-esque sex comedy from 1983, which is themed around the video arcade scene of the time! So not only do you get all the goofy teenage sex antics inherent to this genre, but you also get a Wizard-esque finale featuring a Super Pac-Man tournament!! Not only that, but the stuffy old villain role is filled by none other than frequent MST3K victim Joe Don Baker!! That’s right, Mitchell himself! Where has this movie been all my life?? It’s perfect!
Let’s Go To Prison (March 10)
Let’s Go To Prison, on the other hand, is not perfect, and is actually pretty forgettable. The reason I say that is because I’ve forgotten it.
The Woman in Black: Angel of Death (March 11)
When I wrote about the original Woman in Black back in 2012, my main criticism was how lame Daniel Radcliffe was in the lead role. So you’d think that his absence in the sequel would make it a better movie, but nope – Angel of Death is so bad that it makes the original look like a masterpiece by comparison, Harry Potter and all.
Watch The Woman in Black: Angel of Death on Netflix
Mercy (March 11)
CARRR-ULLL from The Walking Dead stars in this adaptation of Stephen King’s Lovecraftian short story Gramma. The movie isn’t terrible or anything, but this is one of those cases where it’s difficult to stretch the source material out into a full-length film. Mercy makes a valiant effort, but ultimately ends up being a lot of boring filler.
Watch Mercy on Netflix
Cast a Deadly Spell (March 11)
Man, Lovecraft is really coming up a lot this year so far! Cast a Deadly Spell was a 1991 HBO movie which used loose interpretations of Cthulhu mythos concepts as the backdrop for a faux-noir hardboiled detective story set in the 1940’s. This is obviously a very bizarre basis for a movie, and the end result ends up feeling like a vaguely Lovecraftian version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It’s not quite as fun as that description makes it sound – it suffers a bit from the low-budget slapped-together nature of made-for-TV movies – but it’s still pretty damn fun.
Jason X (March 13)
Coincidentally, as I write this, it happens to be Friday, November 13th. I’ve been feeling a bit regretful that I haven’t had a chance to watch any Friday the 13th movies today, so it’s a nice consolation to be reminded that I covered that base on this year’s previous Friday the 13th. Jason X strays pretty far from the franchise’s usual conventions, but that’s what makes it so special. After so many movies where Jason did nothing but stalk around Camp Crystal Lake, it’s fun to see him in an entirely different setting, one which couldn’t be more different than his usual stomping grounds. And even though Jason X takes place on a spaceship, the movie still manages to hit most of the old familiar Friday the 13th beats – it’s just that this group of horny young people just happens to include robots and space marines. It’s a silly movie, even by the franchise’s usual standards, but the silliness really ends up working in its favor.
Freddy vs. Jason (March 14)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (March 14)
I obviously woke up on Saturday the 14th with a hunger for more Jason! And eventually, via transitive property, a hunger for some Freddy as well! It was a pretty good day for movies!
The Box (March 14)
Aaaaaand, pretty good day for movies = ruined.
Anaconda (Rifftrax version) (March 15)
In 2013, I rewatched Anaconda for the first time since its original release in 1997, and was surprised to discover that it wasn’t the decent movie I remembered it as, and in fact sucked. So I watched it yet again, this time in the manner appropriate for sucky movies: with Rifftrax commentary. And it was much better.
Watch Anaconda on Crackle
I Am Santa Claus (March 15)
I was under the mistaken impression that this documentary solely focused on WWE wrestler Mick Foley‘s well-known obsession with Santa Claus. And while that’s a big part of it, it also puts the spotlight on several other men who dress up as Santa, most of whom I don’t really remember. One who sticks out in my mind is the gay Santa who is involved in a long-distance romance with a dude who doesn’t seem as invested in the relationship as he is, and it’s really sad. Mick Foley himself seems like a genuinely good-hearted guy who likes to make kids happy, and the movie instantly endeared him to me. Although it’s kind of weird how excited his 12-year-old son got about meeting Santa Claus. The kid seriously loses his shit, screaming “SANTA! SANTA, IS THAT YOU??” and all I can think about is how much this poor bastard is gonna get made fun of if his friends ever see this movie.
Watch I Am Santa Claus on Netflix
See No Evil 2 (March 16)
Speaking of wrestlers, See No Evil 2 is a slasher featuring Kane as the crazed killer. I am not sure what compelled me to watch this, especially since I’ve never seen See No Evil 1, but I’m glad I did. Not only is it a pretty decent movie, but it stars my favorite scream queen Katherine Isabelle. I am in love with her and will watch anything she’s in, and now that I think about it, that probably answers the question of why I watched this.
Girl House (March 17)
Another slasher, this one is about a house full of webcam porn girls, who get stalked by an obsessed fan called Loverboy. That description makes it sound really obnoxious, and it is at times, but it’s as entertaining as any other dopey low-budget slasher.
Earth To Echo (March 18)
There is no reason that this movie, about a group of kids who find a stranded alien robot and decide to help it find its way home, shouldn’t be just as charming as similar movies like E.T. or Super 8. But while it does have brief flashes of brilliance, it’s just too dull at the end of the day to be ranked among those classics. E for Effort though, Earth to Echo.
Watch Earth to Echo on Netflix
Monsters: Dark Continent (March 21)
The original Monsters was an awful, embarrassing wreck which I hated back in 2010. But although its attempt to combine the mumblecore and giant monster genres failed miserably, at least it was an attempt to do something new and interesting. The same can’t be said for this run-of-the-mill sequel, which is just a dumb Sy-Fy worthy movie about tough army guys fighting giant octopus creatures.
Watch Monsters: Dark Continent on Netflix
The Third Man (March 21)
The Third Man was the second noir movie I checked out this year based on friends’ recommendations, and while I enjoyed Kiss Me Deadly just fine, this one just blew my fucking mind! Between the beautiful photography of post-war Vienna, the incredible acting, and the haunting music, I can see why many people consider this one of the best movies of all time – and that’s before even mentioning the excellent, twisty story. And hey how about that scene on the ferris wheel? Holy fucking shit. If you’re a doofus like me who hasn’t seen this, please change that.
What We Do in the Shadows (March 23)
A New Zealand mockumentary about a group of vampires living together was apparently made by the creators of Flight of the Conchords. But since I am entirely unfamilair with that show, what this brought to mind more than anything was Christopher Guest movies like Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. If you like that stuff, then you will surely like What We Do in the Shadows, even if you aren’t usually into horror/comedy movies. Highly recommended!
Jurassic Park (March 28)
By this point, my Jurassic World fever was at a high pitch, so I went back to where it all began. Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies of all time, and each time I watch it I find something new to love. This time it was Jeff Goldblum’s insane laugh:
The Theory of Everything (March 28)
Man, I don’t know why I keep torturing myself by watching these dull Oscar-bait biopics. I thought I swore this kind of nonsense off after sitting through the fucking Fifth Estate last year, but apparently my desire to bore myself to death knows no bounds.
Finding Neverland (March 28)
This biopic, on the other hand, I found pretty moving and entertaining. It features Johnny Depp (before he decided to just be a complete Hot Topic goofball in every single role) as J.M Barrie, and offers a take on the creation of Peter Pan that is both whimsical and deeply touching. It’s also a Broadway play now, so that’s another option if you happen to be a millionaire.
Watch Finding Neverland on Netflix
Watch Finding Neverland on Amazon Prime
Batman vs. Robin (March 31)
This DC animated film serves as a direct sequel to last year’s pretty awful Batman and Son. Like its predecessor, this takes one of my favorite recent Batman stories (in this case, Scott Snyder’s Court of Owls arc), and just shits all over it. This is slightly better than Batman and Son, I suppose, but that’s like comparing two ziplock bags full of dogshit and deciding which one would make a better anniversary present for your wife. The worst part is that this sucks in all the same ways as Son of Batman, so it’s clear that this level of quality is the new status quo for DC’s once-great line of animated films. Oh well, at the very least, this one has “Weird Al” Yankovic voicing the child-killing Dollmaker, so that’s pretty interesting. Nothing else really is, though.
Cellar Dweller (April 1)
Cellar Dweller is a horror movie 1988, about a cartoonist whose demonic characters come to life. I don’t remember a lot about it, but I think it was pretty fun.
Batman Triumphant (April 1)
Now this is an interesting Batman project. Back in the day, Batman Triumphant was to be Joel Schumacher’s third Batman film. The movie was to feature the Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, and fucking Cornelius Stirk as the villains, with a special appearance by Jack Nicholson’s Joker in a fear toxin-enduced fantasy sequence. Needless to say, after the dismal failure of Batman and Robin, the movie never got made. But the script eventually found its way onto the internet (it’s out there if you search for it), and some dudes saw fit to bring it to life as a fan-film. The end results are, of course, a ridiculous mess – but honestly, seeing this bunch of goofballs jumping around their college campus in awful Batman masks is probably light years more entertaining than the actual movie would have been. The whole thing is up on YouTube, so judge for yourself:
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (April 2)
This HBO documentary is pretty informative, and I learned from it that scientology is even more scuzzy than I already thought it was. But honestly, it still seems only slightly scuzzier to me than any other organized religion.
Avengers Grimm (April 5)
This movie from the reliably ridiculous Asylum ambitiously attempts to be a mockbuster of both the Avengers franchise and the recent phenomenon of TV shows and movies which reimagine fairy tales. It seems particularly inspired by one of my favorite guilty pleasures, Once Upon a Time, given that Rumplestiltskin plays a significant role in both. Despite this relatively interesting premise, however, the movie is extremely difficult to sit through. It’s one of the Asylum’s worst, and that’s really saying something.
Watch Avengers Grimm on Netflix
Santa Claus (Rifftrax version) (April 6)
A few times a year, Rifftrax does live shows which are simulcast to movie theaters across the country and then later released to download. Last year’s holiday offering was a new take on Santa Claus, a movie which had previously been riffed by these same dudes on Mystery Science Theater 3o00. Honestly, the MST3K version is probably better than this, but the movie is so insane that both versions are a riot. LUPITA!!
Atari: Game Over (April 6)
One of the most enduring legends in the history of video game culture has been the mass burial of Atari 2600 E.T. cartridges. The fact that this was tied in so closely with an industry-wide crash, combined with the mystery and intrigue of the way the cartridges were disposed of, has sparked the imagination of video game fans for decades. The incident has even been a focal point for fiction, from D.B.Weiss’ novel Lucky Wander Boy, to last year’s Angry Video Game Nerd movie. There has always been such a mysterious air around this story that many people have suspected it was more urban legend than fact. This documentary sets out to prove once and for all that hundreds of thousands of Atari cartridges really were buried in a New Mexico landfill. The movie is part history lesson (covering the origins and aftermath of the ill-fated E.T. movie tie-in), and half archaelogical quest (attempting to locate and excavate the cartridges). The movie isn’t perfect (it is especially marred by the presence of Ernest Cline, author of one of my favorite novels Ready Player One, who unfortunately turns out to be a pretty annoying dipshit), but is absolutely essential viewing for anyone who has always been fascinated by this intriguing little piece of video game history.
Watch Atari: Game Over on Netflix
Dead Rising: Watchtower (April 6)
I’ve never even really played any of Capcom’s Dead Rising video games, so I don’t know why I felt compelled to watch this movie adaptation. Wait, of course I know why – it’s because I’m an idiot who will watch any zombie movie I can, especially if it’s based on a video game. You probably assume this movie sucks, and you are correct. What you might not realize, however, is that it really, really, REALLY fucking sucks.
Watch Dead Rising: Watchtower on Crackle
If There Be Thorns (April 7)
The third in Lifetime’s series of Flowers in the Attic adaptations. I was pretty bored by last year’s Petals on the Wind, but this one’s a little better – mostly because it features an evil little kid, which always entertains me. Crystal can tell you more on her blog.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (April 7)
The original Hot Tub Time Machine was notable for being funny and for having a strong emotional center. This sequel, for the most part, abandons the latter and just sticks to the former. Which is a perfectly fine approach to this kind of thing, and the result is a pretty funny movie with some cool time travel ideas.
Devil’s Due (April 7)
Completely awful found-footage demon movie. Not even worth writing about, so I won’t.
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (April 8)
Dead Snow was a 2009 Norwegian movie about Nazi zombies that most people seem to revere, but which left me a little cold (pun intended, assholes). This sequel, which attempts to appeal more to American audiences by including Martin Starr of all people, impressed me even less.
Watch Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead on Netflix
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (April 9)
My Jurassic Fever continues. I remember absolutely hating this movie when I saw it in theaters back in the day, but I found myself enjoying it this time around. The key is tying to avoid comparing it to the original Jurassic Park, which it obviously can’t hold a candle to. But judged completely on its own merits, it’s a stupid but moderately fun dinosaur flick.
Parallels (April 11)
Parallels is about a group of people traveling between alternate Earths, Sliders-style. Despite an interesting premise, I considered this to be one of the worst movies of 2015. Later I learned that it wasn’t really actually a movie, but rather a failed pilot for a potential TV series. It makes a lot more sense in that context, but it’s still pretty crappy and not worth watching.
Watch Parallels on Netflix
A Bone to Pick: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery (April 11)
You’d think that because of my bizarre love for the Garage Sale Mystery series, I would also love this new mystery movie series on the same network, which also stars a Full House alum (Candace Cameron in this case). But for whatever reason, I found myself watching this as if I was a normal person instead of my usual insane self, and thus I recognized it as the corny, boring mess it is. Your results may vary.
The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (Rifftrax version) (April 12)
Apparently this movie beat the similarly-themed (but way more racially charged) The Thing With Two Heads to the theaters by a year, but this is the first time I’ve heard of it. It’s nowhere near as good, but Rifftrax makes it enjoyable.
Daredevil (April 13)
Three days after the Daredevil series debuted on Netflix, I had watched the entire goddamn thing, and my appetite for the Man Without Fear still hadn’t been satiated. So I rewatched the Ben Affleck movie, and jeeeez. Everyone already knows this movie sucks of course, but have you tried revisiting it now that you’ve seen a version of Daredevil that’s actually awesome? I can tell you: it’s not pretty.
Jurassic Park III (April 13)
Jurassic Fever continues to continue! Where The Lost World tried desperately to preserve some of the original Jurassic Park‘s integrity (and failed miserably), this one just says fuck it and throws crazy dinosaurs in our faces for 90 minutes. It’s a much better film for it.
Con Air (April 15)
Here are the lyrics to a never-recorded song I wrote about Con Air when I was in my late teens:
Put the bunny in the box / I’m warning you
Put the bunny in the box / I don’t wanna hurt you
But I’m gonna knock you out your socks / If you don’t put the bunny in the box
Trust me, it would have been a smash hit. Anyway, Con Air is one of my all-time favorite stupid action movies, and is the origin of my everlasting Nicholas Cage fetish. How Did This Get Made? gave me a nice excuse to watch it for the billionth time, and for that I’m grateful.
Garage Sale Mystery: The Deadly Room (April 17)
S01E03 of Garage Sale Mystery finds Aunt Rebecca Katsopolis putting her garage sale binges on hold in order to investigate a deadly room. If it sounds like I’m basing my description entirely on the title because I don’t really remember the movie, well there’s a good reason for that. But I am not going to let that stop me from giving this film my whole-hearted recommendation.
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (April 17)
Wyrmwood is an Australian zombie film that plays out like a hybrid of Mad Max and The Walking Dead, and it was okay. The hype surrounded it was so intense that I went in expecting this thing to be some sort of revolutionary masterpiece, but it’s really just an okay movie.
Watch Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead on Netflix
Cub (April 17)
Also known as Welp, this Belgian movie is about a kid who goes camping in the woods with his Boy Scout troop (or whatever the fuck the Belgian equivilent is), and encounters a monster of some sort. I don’t want to elaborate any more than that because this is a brilliant film that everyone ought to check out for themselves. The one thing I’ll spoil is this: If you’re sensitive about violence against animals in movies, tread very carefully, because this has a really fucked up scene of that nature.
Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All (April 18)
The Descendents are a great band, of course, but their “story” could not be more boring. Also, All suck.
Watch Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All on Hulu Plus
Watch Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All on Amazon Prime
Avengers: Age of Ultron (April 30)
Okay, I should start off by saying that I was incredibly disappointed by this movie. I was, obviously, really looking forward to it, and then as I sat in the theater, I almost couldn’t believe how crappy it was relative to the first Avengers film. Having said that, I will start by listing the things I did like about Age of Ultron:
-Ultron himself. What could have been an incredibly bland and one-dimensional villain actually turned out to be one of Marvel’s best, elevated almost solely by James Spader’s breathtaking performance. The way the character was utilized in the movie was pretty lame (see below), but thanks to Spader, he had pathos, humor, and a distinct personality.
-All the new Avengers. Vision was especially great, but Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were also awesome.
-The party scene. I loved the way so many supporting characters from other movies were just kind of casually hanging out. It really felt like a scene from a superhero team comic book, and the actors all felt like they were really friends with each other. Very well done.
-During the final battle, I really appreciated how concerned the Avengers were with rescuing civilians. It was obviously a direct response to the controversy over the mindless violence in Man of Steel, but it really worked. Because, dammit, the #1 priority of superheroes should be saving people!
-The formation of the new Avengers team at the end. Another moment that felt straight out of a comic book.
-I can’t think of anything else.
Okay, now here’s the shit I didn’t like:
-Not enough Ultron! With Age of Ultron, I feel like Marvel Studios have finally succumbed to the long-standing tradition of superhero movies damning themselves by trying to squeeze too much shit into one movie. As a result, the titular villain ends up getting the short end of the stick here. The character lights up the screen whenever he appears, but he’s just not around enough. I almost wish they would have saved him for Iron Man 4 or something.
-Hawkeye. Fucking Hawkeye and his stupid wife and his stupid meta-commentaries, and his stupid, boring fucking farm. Fuck that farm, and the five hundred hours the movie spends there. Fuck.
-The romance between Black Widow and the Hulk. I have no inherent problem with this conceptually, but for whatever reason it really, really didn’t work for me.
-Thor’s little sidequest to hang out in a Lazarus Pit was super lame and out of place. I love how all these movies are connected and leading up to a huge “event” in Infinity War, but this is the first time where those allusions felt really shoehorned in to me. Let’s get through this movie first, before we start marketing the next one, okay?
-Aside from the nonsense I just described, Thor felt entirely useless in the movie. More disturbingly, so did Captain America. Both of those dudes just kinda felt like they were there because they had to be in order to call the movie Avengers. Cap has become my favorite MCU character, so this was a bummer.
Age of Ultron was by no means awful, but the bad definitely outweighed the good, and was the first time I felt a little bit nervous about the direction these Marvel movies are going in. It’s all still very cool and exciting, but I hope they don’t lose focus on the fact that this huge over-arching universe can only work if all the individual films are awesome in their own rights. This one, sadly, is not.
Radical Jack (Rifftrax version) (May 2)
Billy Ray Cyrus in a dopey action movie. Radical Jack‘s biggest accomplishment was informing me that Michelle Pfeiffer had a sister who was even hotter than she was.
It Follows (May 2)
How do I love It Follows? Let me count the ways:
-It’s scary. I obviously adore horror movies, but I am very rarely scared by them anymore. But when I went to see It Follows alone, I actually found myself screaming, quivering and covering my eyes in the theater. After the movie, when I had to walk through crowded, bustling Times Square to catch my bus home, I swear I almost collapsed with fear. No movie has made me feel that way since I was a child, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for it.
-It’s timeless. When does It Follows take place? I dunno. Some characters have cell phones, but most don’t. The fashion and technology seem straight out of the early 80’s for the most part, but one character has a crazy futuristic e-reader device, which she casually uses without explanation. This type of timelessness is always present in the best horror, but it is almost impossible to pull off without feeling cheesy. It Follows pulls it off.
-It is rich with metaphor. The surface story of this movie is really fun and scary, but there is way more lurking in the subtext. There is so much symbolism at play here, but it’s subtle enough to allow each viewer his or her own interpretation. I viewed it as a coming of age story about the gradual deterioration of innocence, but others might feel differently – and that’s really cool!
-It sounds great. I’ve heard it said that the best movie scores are the ones you don’t even notice, but I call bullshit. It Follow‘s score, by the composer Disasterpeace (who is mostly known for his video game work), is noticable as fuck. It is tense, haunting, beautiful, terrifying, and an absolutely perfect companion to the on-screen action. I hope this dude gets tons more film work.
-It makes great use of horror tropes. Particularly the one about how sexual promiscuity leads to death. It Follows pays loving tribute to that old chestnut, while at the same time turning it completely on its head.
-It sets the imagination on fire. Every once in a rare while, a movie monster comes with a set of “rules.” When used poorly, this concept can lead to a film’s plot feeling unnecessarily rigid. But when used correctly, it allows the viewer to continue nerding out long after the credits roll. I spent weeks thinking and talking about how I would deal with the It Follows monster. I think I’ve got a pretty good plan, actually.
-It is a love letter to its city. Usually I roll my eyes at the old cliché that “the city is a character in and of itself,” but I think it’s really true in this case. I’ve never lived in Detroit – or even visited – but It Follows made me feel like I know it. I’m interested in hearing what Detroit-ians have to say about this movie, because if this were my hometown I think I’d love the movie even more.
-It’s well-written and well-acted. None of the above would matter if It Follows didn’t have great characters, great dialogue, and great actors bringing them to life. Luckily, it does.
Honestly, I could go on and on and on and on. I have seen this movie 5 times this year, and I love it a little bit more each time. It is, by far, the best movie of 2015 and perhaps the best horror movie of the 21st century. An absolute masterpiece.
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck (May 3)
This documentary about the life of Kurt Cobain got a lot of attention this year, both positive and negative. However you feel about it, it’d be difficult to deny that it’s a captivating and well-made film. My favorite parts were the audio recordings of Kurt telling stories about his life – aside from the brilliant animation which accompanied the audio, these bits were just way more candid and personal than anything I’ve ever heard from Kurt before. It’s almost irrelevent whether these stories are true, or – as the guy from the Melvins claims – total bullshit. As Mark Twain said, we should never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, and these recordings are fascinating either way. The movie also gets pretty disturbing when it explores Kurt’s drug problems towards the end of his life – one scene of him nodding off on heroin while holding his infant daughter for a haircut was so hard to watch that I actually had to look away. Montage of Heck has also been the subject of much criticism that it whitewashes the destructive and possibly fatal influence that Courtney Love had on Kurt, and well, yeah those criticisms are totally valid. It’s a little bit gross, but I don’t think it should deter anyone from checking out the movie. Having said that, this was definitely not my favorite of the two Kurt Cobain documentaries to come out this year… but more on that later.
Adult Beginners (May 3)
Sloppy, completely unfunny comedy starring the extremely unpleasant Nick Kroll. The plot reminded me a little bit of Our Idiot Brother, except much, much worse. I feel like this script must have been super rushed or something, because it’s often incomprehensible, story elements are introduced and then never followed through on, and there is a stunning lack of jokes for a thing that calls itself a comedy. The only good thing I can say about this crap is that Rose Byrne is, as always, charming as fuck.
Seeds of Yesterday (May 3)
In this final installment of Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic series, the evil little kid from the last movie has grown up and is now an evil adult. Evil adults are always a little more boring than evil kids, but the actor playing him did a really good job, so this is still a fairly entertaining conclusion. Still, the series definitely peaked with the first movie (Flowers in the Attic), so if you only watch one of these, make it that one.
Preservation (May 4)
Three people go camping in the woods, where they are stalked by a group of murderous teenagers. The main thing I remember about the movie is that, at one point, the protagonist lady hides in a porta-potty and then is covered with human shit for the rest of the film. Aside from that, the horror here is pretty by-the-numbers, but slightly elevated by fairly interesting villains.
Watch Preservation on Netflix
To Catch a Yeti (Rifftrax version) (May 4)
From its title, I expected this to be a low-budget creature feature, the likes of which are often mocked on MST3K and Rifftrax.. But to my (pleasant) surprise, it actually turned out to be a kid’s movie starring Meat Loaf and a Yeti puppet. As you can imagine, there’s a lot to make fun of there, so while it’s not the best Rifftrax I’ve ever seen, it’s still pretty damn good.
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (May 5)
According to wikipedia, Batman Unlimited is a cartoon franchise based on a line of toys by Mattel, which explains why this movie was so infantile and bland. I’m not someone who will ever complain about there being more Batman movies in the world, but honestly, the existence of the LEGO Batman franchise makes this one seem totally unnecessary and redundant to me. Still, it’s Batman running around and punching bad guys, so of course I’ll watch it.
Lake Placid vs. Anaconda (May 6)
I’ve only seen the first entry in each of these movie series, and I thought they both kinda sucked. Still, the lure of an inter-franchise crossover is not something I have the power to resist, so I had little choice but to watch this. It sucked, of course.
The Sons of Hercules: Land of Darkness (Rifftrax version) (May 6)
Even back in the MST3K days, these Italian-made Hercules movies always went in one ear and out the other. Rifftrax went back to the Hercules well, and this one is just as instantly-forgettable. For me, at least – your mileage may vary.
Watch The Sons of Hercules: Land of Darkness on Amazon Prime
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (May 6)
I mostly knew of Cannon Films because many of their films were featured in MST3K episodes (including the aforementioned Hercules films), and wasn’t really aware that they were also the company responsible for a lot of great 80’s schlock like American Ninja and Masters of the Universe. This documentary filled in those gaps in my mental Wikipedia page, and entertained me at the same time.
Watch Electric Boogaloo on Netflix
The Sting (May 6)
I’d never seen this before, and even though the film’s central con is kind of preposterous, this was still a really fun ride.
Misery Loves Comedy (May 8)
Do we really need an obnoxious, self-serving documentary to inform us that most stand-up comedians are unlikable, narcissistic dickheads? Probably not, but here it is anyway.
Watch Misery Loves Comedy on Amazon Prime
The Killing (May 11)
This classic Kubrick crime movie is another one I’d never seen before, and it was also really fun!
Project Almanac (May 12)
This teen time travel movie felt like its elevator pitch was probably “Primer Junior” but the difference is that, unlike Primer, this really sucks. Unfortunately, it has juuust enough interesting stuff going on that you keep waiting for it to get better, but trust me, it never does.
Watch Project Almanac on Hulu Plus
Watch Project Almanac on Amazon Prime
Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop (May 13)
This HBO documentary about Gilberto Valle (the NYC cop who stood trial for conspiring to abduct, murder and cannibalize women) did something I never saw coming – it made me kinda sympathize with Valle! Not everyone will feel that way, but the film should at least make you do some hard thinking about where the line should be drawn, legally, between twisted fantasy and real-life criminal activity. A dude who jerks off to the thought of killing and eating women is not someone I want anywhere near my real life, but should he be in jail for it? That’s the question the movie poses, and you may be surprised by the conclusions it forces you to draw.
Chappie (May 14)
The director of the decent District 9 and the completely awful Elysium brings us the tale of a sassy, slang-slinging British police robot who is stolen by a gang and reprogrammed as a criminal henchman. Chappie is far from perfect, but the titular robot is lovable enough to make it worth watching.
Ex Machina (May 16)
I didn’t like this robot movie as much as I liked Chappie. It had its moments, but ultimately was too dull and heavy-handed for me to care much for.
Watch Ex Machina on Amazon Prime
Jupiter Ascending (May 16)
An ugly, stupid, boring mess of half-baked science fiction tropes, you would think that Jupiter Ascending would at least succeed in being so-bad-it’s-good, but nope. It is not entertaining on any level, and is barely watchable. By far the worst movie of 2015.
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) (May 16)
Prompted by the How Did This Get Made? podcast, I finally treated myself to a viewing of this famously disasterous movie. It’s just as insane as I always heard it was, but also pretty boring at the same time.
The Livingston Gardener (May 16)
A notorious serial killer is granted a live television interview in exchange for giving up the locations of his victims’ bodies. But does he have a sinister ulterior motive in mind? The answer is yes. This movie sucks.
Watch The Livingston Gardener on Hulu Plus
Watch The Livingston Gardener on Amazon Prime
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (May 17)
This documentary is just as heartwarming and inspirational as you might expect, and offers a lot of little tidbits that were news to me – like the fact that Big Bird was almost on board the doomed Space Shuttle Challenger, until logistical problems with the costume led to him being replaced by that teacher lady. Imagine if Big Bird had exploded to death in front of millions of children on live television?? Insane! The movie also made me sad when it pointed out that Big Bird now has a noticable slump due to the effect Spinney’s advanced age has had on his posture. It’s awful to think about the very real fact that Spinney probably won’t be physically able to don the bird suit for very much longer, but as the movie makes abundantly clear, the guy has already made the world a much brighter place for four decades. If you love Big Bird, watch this. If you don’t love Big Bird, I hate you.
Watch I Am Big Bird on Amazon Prime
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr Moreau (May 17)
That How Did This Get Made? episode clued me in to this documentary, and man am I glad it did! You don’t need to have seen The Island of Dr. Moreau to enjoy this exploration of its production – you just have to have a healthy interest in terrible ideas being brought to life by lunatics and assholes. There are so many insane and shocking stories about the making of this movie, but I don’t want to spoil any of them for you. Watch this film.
Watch Lost Soul on Hulu Plus
Zombie Cats From Mars (May 18)
I am sure you will be absolutely shocked to learn that this movie sucks.
Apocalypse Now (Redux) (May 19)
Another classic movie knocked off my “to see” list. I love it when I watch something and it instantly makes me understand a million references I’ve seen in other things. In this case, now I get “Charlie Don’t Surf” and “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning” and of course Sell the House Sell the Car Sell the Kids Find Someone Else Forget It I’m Never Coming Back Forget It. Anyway, I kinda wish I’d watched the original theatrical version first, because I’m sure a lot of the pacing issues I noticed were introduced in this expanded redux. Other than that, I really enjoyed this.
Watch Apocalypse Now Redux on Hulu Plus
Stripped (May 21)
This documentary about comic strips does an impressive job at gathering a wide spectrum of creators to interview, and in doing so displays one of the clearest examples I’ve ever witnessed of an unbreachable generation gap. When asked about the future of the medium, the older creators – almost to a man – declare that newspapers will never die and webcomics are merely a passing fad. And every single younger artist claims that newspapers are all but dead, and the future of the format depends on the internet. The younger guys are correct, of course, and it’s a serious bummer to see the medium’s pioneers so unwilling to adapt to change. The movie does a great job at exploring all angles, though, and giving an equal voice to everyone (even the creators who most people would agree are total hacks). Plus, they even score a phone interview with the notoriously reclusive Bill Watterson (who also drew the film’s poster art). Highly recommended for comic strip fans.
Watched Stripped on Netflix
Tomorrowland (May 22)
This may have been my most anticipated movie of 2015, due not only to my fanatical obsession with Disney parks, but also to the intriguing and mysterious nature of the film’s marketing. I knew nothing about the movie going in, and in an effort to preserve that for you, I’m not going to relate much about it here. I will say that I came out of the theater with some of the most mixed feelings I’ve ever had about a movie. The majority of Tomorrowland is an almost perfect example of live-action Disney filmmaking at its best – it actually reminded me a lot of one of my all-time favorites, Escape to Witch Mountain. It’s a great thrill ride, of course, but it also has some really interesting – and dare I say important – things to say about how our perception of the future has changed over the course of the past century. It makes you laugh, cry, gasp and think. But the problem is that the final act takes one of the steepest nosedives I’ve ever seen. I won’t go into any of the details, but it was odd to come out of the theater feeling such intense disappointment, when a mere 25 minutes earlier I’d been preparing to declare Tomorrowland my favorite film of the year. I still think the movie is great overall, and absolutely worth seeing, but I really wish they’d given that ending a little more fine-tuning.
Devil Fish (MST3K version) (May 25)
The Screaming Skull (MST3K version) (May 25)
This was an odd pairing of Mystery Science Theater episodes I chose to watch on May 25th. The first is an entirely forgettable entry, while the second is one of my favorite episodes, and as I stated in 2012, a legitimately decent movie. Maybe I watched The Screaming Skull to make up for Devil Fish‘s mediocrity? Shrug.
Watch Devil Fish on Amazon Prime
Watch The Screaming Skull on Amazon Prime
Mad Max: Fury Road (May 27)
The summer of 2015 was so chock full of tentpole blockbusters that I knew I couldn’t possibly see them all, and Mad Max was one of the ones I’d decided to skip. I’d never seen the original films, and therefore the pre-release hype just flew right over my head. But once it released, everyone I knew was talking about how fucking amazing it was, so I finally caved in and went to a matinee showing. And yeah, holy shit it’s amazing! I sat in slack-jawed awe the entire time, and as soon as I got home I downloaded a bootleg torrent so I could immediately watch it again. The movie almost entirely foregoes plot in favor of action, emotion and eyecandy, and the result is an experience that manages to be outlandishly explosive and quietly minimalist all at the same time. It ‘s an incredible accomplishment and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. More, please!!
Mad Max (May 27)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (May 27)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (May 28)
After watching Fury Road twice in a row, of course I watched all three original movies. My potentially controversial opinion on them is as follows: Mad Max is awful, The Road Warrior is very good, and Beyond Thunderdome is fantastic – particularly the bit with the kids, which reminded me a lot of my favorite work of post-apocalyptic science ficition A Canticle For Leibowitz. Overall, I think the series is great, but that the first entry is entirely skippable.
Watch Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior on Hulu Plus
Watch Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome on Hulu Plus
Hercules in New York (May 30)
Another assignment from How Did This Get Made?, this was my inaugural viewing of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first movie. Unfortunately I was only able to find a version where Arnold’s dialogue was dubbed over by some stodgy voice actor, which was a bummer. But for the most part this goofy piece of crap was a ton of fun.
Watch Hercules in New York on Hulu Plus
1408 (June 1)
This adaptation of a short story by Stephen King was recommended to me by a friend, who claimed it was super scary. With all due respect to that friend, whose taste in movies I usually hold in the highest regard, no it’s not. It’s stupid.
Watch 1408 on Amazon Prime
Attack of the Puppet People (Rifftrax version) (June 5)
The Swamp of the Ravens (Rifftrax version) (June 5)
Two great Rifftrax. I like to think I watched Attack of the Puppet People in anticipation of Ant-Man‘s release, since it also involves little shrunken people. And Swamp of the Ravens features the greatest musical number of all time:
Island of Lost Souls (June 7)
Another adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau. This one is from 1932 and stars Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. It’s much, much better.
New York in the Fifties (June 8)
This documentary was on my Netflix queue for years and on June 8th I finally got around to being disappointed by it. I expected the movie to be an overview of New York in the Fifties (a bold assumption, I know), but it’s totally not. It’s specifically about the literary movement of the time – Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer and all of that. That’s cool I guess, but maybe think of a title which reflects what the movie is actually about? But I guess if they did that, I wouldn’t have been bamboozled into watching it.
Cool Air (June 10)
This adaptation of the Lovecraft story of the same name is shockingly faithful to the source material, but unfortunately is also very poorly made. Go ahead and give it a go if you’re a huge Lovecraft fan, but go in with very low expectations.
Jurassic World (June 11)
When I left the theater after my first time seeing Jurassic World, I enthusiastically declared to my friends that this was the best movie of the entire 21st century so far. I’ve since chilled out on the hyperbole, but having seen it three times now, I still think it’s a fucking staggering work of genius. Some random thoughts:
-As a huge theme park fan, just seeing the concepts hinted at in the original Jurassic Park come fully to life was enough for me. Jurassic World itself was so fucking cool that this could have been a movie about some people having a fun day at the park where nothing goes wrong, and I would have been completely satisfied. Sometimes, I think I’d prefer that.
-I cried three times. The first was when the kid threw the hotel room’s curtains open for a sweeping reveal of the theme park. The second, predictably, was when Chris Pratt tried to comfort the dying brachiosaurus. The third was when I suddenly realized that I was watching a trained velociraptor mounting a T-Rex to battle a genetically engineered demon dinosaur, and that somehow this moment felt totally organic and earned. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.
-Fan service is a big part of any remake/reboot/sequel, and is nothing new, but the amount of sheer reverence this movie had for Jurassic Park really zeroed in on my emotional underbelly. When they discovered those old delapidated jeeps, I was smiling so hard I nearly broke my jaw.
-I read a rumor that Chris Pratt’s character was meant to be the fat kid from Jurassic Park who Dr. Grant threatened with a raptor claw. I have no idea if that was the intention or not, but that idea really makes the character work for me. I like to imagine he was a kid who grew up in the 90’s, fascinated with the legend of John Hammond’s Jurassic Park, and with dinosaurs in general. He never let go of that obsession and grew up to become a motherfucking raptor trainer! I love that.
-Yeah the plot is sloppy and full of holes, the dialogue is pretty crappy, and the acting is often wooden. WHO THE FUCK CARES? Stop worrying about all that bullshit and just let Jurassic World into your heart!!
Soaked in Bleach (June 13)
Soaked in Bleach is the other Kurt Cobain documentary I alluded to earlier. This one focuses specifically on the investigation into Cobain’s death, spearheaded by Tom Grant, a private detective hired by Courtney Love to find her missing husband shortly before his body was discovered. The movie alternates between typical documentary fare (talking heads, archival footage, etc) and dramatic reenactments of key moments, and let me tell you – the reenactments are fucking delightful. They play like an old-timey film noir, with Tom Grant (played by Leslie Arzt from Lost) as the hardboiled detective and Courtney Love as the seductive femme fatale. In between these crazy wonderful scenes, the film aims to explore the flaws in the investigation which led to Cobain’s death being declared a suicide. And while the film never outright states that Courtney Love murdered Kurt, that’s clearly the idea it’s trying to get across. And you know what – maybe I’m just easily persuaded, but the movie pretty much convinced me that, yes, she probably killed him. Courtney Love is almost certainly a murderer, but she also wrote Rock Star and I think that more than makes up for it.
Watch Soaked in Bleach on Netflix
Watch Soaked in Blech on Amazon Prime
Westworld (June 13)
I watched this because after Jurassic World, I wanted to see more movies about fictional theme parks going wrong. But I think I’m too much of a theme park nerd for this movie, because I couldn’t get past how outlandishly ludicrous the concept for the park was. It makes no goddamn sense, and could never work! Maybe that’s a lame reason to dislike a movie, but I have to follow my heart.
Inside Out (June 19)
I’ve been a little bit worried lately that Pixar was starting to lose its imagination. Prior to Inside Out, the last four films consisted of three sequels and a very Disney-esque medieval princess story. None of them were bad at all, but it sort of felt like the studio was running out of ideas. Inside Out went a long way in alleviating those concerns. Not because the base concept is so unique (remember Herman’s Head?), but because the storytelling on display here is just so goddamn strong. The stakes of the story aren’t earth-shattering or anything – what’s at stake is merely the mental well-being of a little girl. But Inside Out does such a good job at conveying the importance of these stakes that I was seriously stressed out the entire movie, like almost on the verge of a panic attack. That doesn’t sound like a good thing, but for me, it really really is. The movie isn’t perfect – it gets a little too loosey-goosey when it comes to balancing the metaphors it’s trying to convey- but it is exciting, hilarious, and absolutely emotionally crushing. In other words, Inside Out is a Pixar movie.
Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 20)
As I said back in 2013, I loved the original Insidious and thought it had great potential as the launcing point for an ongoing franchise. That potential was completely destroyed upon the release of the awful Insidious: Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 is even worse. What a fucking shame.
A Deadly Adoption (June 20)
I don’t know the circumstances that led to Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig deciding to star in a Lifetime movie, but I am so glad that this exists. The reason A Deadly Adoption works so well is because Ferrell and Wiig decide to play it straight – they understand that Lifetime movies are ridiculous enough to undermine themselves, so no overt parody is necessary here. The mere presence of the two stars is all the winking-and-nudging that this movie needs, and that’s all they give it, and it’s great. If your bad-movie-watching repertoire includes Lifetime’s particular brand of bad movies, then this is a must-see.
Private Parts (June 20)
At around this point of the year, I became briefly but intensely preoccupied with watching Howard Stern videos on youtube. I used to be a daily listener when I was a teenager, but I stopped following Howard when he switched to Sirius, and I decided I wanted to catch up on some of the best moments of the past decade or so. This culminated with me revisiting Private Parts, which is a pretty meh movie, honestly. I’d much rather watch this video of Artie Lange attacking his assistant:
The NeverEnding Story (June 28)
At the age of 4, The NeverEnding Story was the very first movie I ever saw in a theater, and to this day I still cite it as my personal favorite movie of all time. This year I got the opportunity to share it with my nieces, and was delighted to find that they loved it! They also thought Atreyu was a girl the entire movie, to the point that I felt really bad telling them that he was actually a boy. How about a gender-swapped remake, Hollywood??
Watch The NeverEnding Story on Amazon Prime
The Cobbler (July 7)
Adam Sandler is a magical cobbler who can step into other people’s bodies by putting on their shoes. It’s worse than it sounds, trust me. The joy that Sandler’s early movies gave me has earned him a permanent place in my heart, but man I just don’t know what he’s thinking with shit like this.
Watch The Cobbler on Netflix
Fever Lake (Rifftrax version) (July 8)
You’d think I’d have a lot to say about this 1996 slasher starring Corey Haim and Mario Lopez, but the shocking truth is that I barely even remember it. Judge for yourself.
Dude Bro Party Massacre III (July 9)
80’s slashers seem to have become the go-to target for comedy/horror spoofs, and Dude Bro Party Massacre III is one of the better examples of this trend. From the opening sequence which recaps the events of the (non-existent) first two movies, to the fake commercials inserted into the VHS-quality footage, to the over-the-top killer Motherface, this hits upon all the little details that make the films it’s emulating so memorable. It’s not my favorite 80’s slasher spoof of 2015, but it’s still great.
Perfect High (July 9)
Bella Thorne from the Disney Channel plays a high school dancer who becomes addicted to heroin, in this typically ridiculous Lifetime movie. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve watched a ton of Bella’s stupid-ass sitcom, so seeing her play a teenage junkie in a fear-mongering melodrama was a real treat. I might be the only idiot in the world who regularly watches both bad Disney sitcoms and bad Lifetime movies, but anyone else who is in the middle of that particular venn diagram should make sure not to miss this.
We Are Still Here (July 9)
I usually count haunted house movies among my least favorite horror subgenres, so the recent glut of them has been pretty fucking annoying. However, I really dug We Are Still Here. Maybe it’s the cool wintery setting or the great cast, but for whatever reason, this really worked for me.
Charlie’s Farm (July 9)
Australia has produced a lot of really excellent horror movies in the past few years. This mediocre slasher is not one of them. If you need further incentive to avoid it, check this out: Tara Reid is in it.
Third Man on the Mountain (July 10)
This live-action Disney production from 1959 was the inspiration for the Matterhorn attraction at Disneyland, so I figured it was time to finally watch it. It’s got a bit of that old-school Disney charm, for sure, but it’s dull and corny enough that I’d only really recommend it to the most hardcore of Disneyphiles.
Army of Frankensteins (July 10)
Army of Frankensteins is about an army of Frankensteins who time travel back to the Civil War. Few things are funnier to me than pluralizing the word “Frankenstein,” and this movie delivers in spades. It’s also a pretty fun movie, even aside from that.
Runaway (July 11)
How Did This Get Made? clued me in to this movie I’d somehow never heard of before. It features Tom Selleck as a futurecop who is afraid of heights, Gene Simmons as an evil defense contractor, and a whole shitload of killer robots. It’s bonkers as fuck, and I loved it.
The Last House on the Left (2009) (July 14)
The Last House on the Left (1972) (July 14)
I’d never seen either of these before. I always heard that the original movie was intensely disturbing, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all – mostly because the rapists are portrayed as comedic, slapsticky goofballs. A bizarre choice for sure, but one I really appreciated for its sheer weirdness. The remake takes the subject more seriously by making the rapists more sinister than wacky, and it’s a lesser film for it.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters (July 14)
This was written and produced by the legendary Bruce Timm, and it’s no surprise that his return to Justice League cartoon-makin’ led to the best DC animated feature in years. He accomplishes this by steering clear of the company’s usual by-the-numbers New-52 mandate, and in fact goes in the extreme opposite direction by creating a crazy Elseworlds-esque alternate version of the DC Universe. Superman is the son of Zod! Batman is a vampire! Wonder Woman is a New God from Apokalips! This approach leads to something that most superhero films lack: genuine surprises. It doesn’t hurt that the voice cast is terrific – I especially thought Dexter Morgan was an inspired choice for vampire Batman. If you’re like me and have been turned off by the direction DC has taken their line of animated movies, do yourself a favor and give this one a chance.
Murder on the Orient Express (July 15)
Over the past year or two, I’ve obsessively watched every episode of the Poirot TV show, and have become really accustomed to David Suchet’s version of Agatha Christie’s famous sleuth. So much so that my brain absolutely refused to accept Albert Finney’s take on the character in this film. Objectively speaking, there’s nothing wrong with this movie at all, but I just couldn’t get past the lack of Suchet. I’m weird.
The Gallows (July 16)
There’s no way I would have bothered with this teeny-bop horror shitstain, except an old friend invited me to see it with her and I figured “what the hell?” I had a great time with my friend at the movies, but that was in spite of The Gallows, not because of it. This shit is fucking baaaaaaad. Like, worse than Ouiji bad.
Lilo & Stitch (July 16)
Believe it or not, there was a long stretch (between Tarzan and The Princess and the Frog) where my Disney enthusiasm tapered a little bit. Not a lot, mind you, but enough so I didn’t feel compelled to see every animated feature they released, and now I’m filling in those gaps in dribs and drabs. Lilo & Stitch is one of the movies I missed during that period, and I never felt particularly compelled to check it out, because Stitch seemed a bit like an annoying, trendy character to me. Boy, was I wrong. Lilo & Stitch is Disney magic at its best – sweet and sad and funny and life-affirming, full of beautiful settings and memorable characters. Ladies and gentlemen, I have officially been converted into a lifelong Stitch fan.
Watch Lilo & Stitch on Netflix
Ant-Man (July 17)
Ant-Man was a pretty good movie, but being merely pretty good made it one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me. First of all, for a movie that was sort of marketed as a comedy, it’s rarely funny. Sure, Paul Rudd is charming and likeable as always, and his take on Scott Lang will make you chuckle now and then, but there’s hardly any sign of the comedic talent he’s displayed in stuff like Wet Hot American Summer or They Came Together. And most of the other attempts at comedic performances fall flat – especially Michael Peña’s grating character. Secondly, the “shrinky” scenes are pretty underwhelming. I was expecting Honey, I Shrunk the Kids with superheroes but I think Scott Lang only gets small three or four times and only for brief periods. But the most depressing thing about this is that you can still see indicators of the much better movie that Edgar Wright wanted to make, before he got canned for straying too far from Marvel’s formula. There are moments when Ant-Man teeters on the edge of brilliant innovation, before it wusses out and steps back into familiar territory, and those moments frustrated me more than anything else. Still, like I said, the movie is pretty good. The story’s smaller scale (har har) felt really refreshing after all the sound and fury of Age of Ultron, and the three main characters (Scott Lang, Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne) were interesting enough that I’m looking forward to seeing how they fit in to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I just hope that Universe starts unclenching its buttocks enough to let some new ideas through.
Teen Beach 2 (July 19)
The original Teen Beach Movie was about modern teenagers being sucked into a 1960’s Frankie-and-Annette style beach movie, and it was great. One of the funniest parts of the movie was the “real” kids’ reactions to the movie characters’ habit of frequently breaking out into song. When it was announced that the sequel would reverse the situation by having the movie characters enter the real world, I wondered how the “musical” aspect could work in that context. Well, Teen Beach 2 solves that problem by ignoring it completely, and just having everyone constantly sing anyway, even though it doesn’t make much sense anymore. And it works just fine, because really who cares? And while this falls a little short of the original (both in terms of the movie itself and the music), it’s still pretty damn good.
Watch Teen Beach 2 on Netflix
Creep (2014) (July 20)
A movie called Creep had better be damn creepy, and this one does not disappoint. It’s a found footage film about a videographer who takes a one-day job in a small mountain town, only to find that his client is a total weirdo. But is he a harmless weirdo or a potentially dangerous one? It’s very compelling to watch the character awkwardly struggle with this question, even as his client’s strange behavior keeps elevating. The ending is a little weak in my opinion, but the journey there is well worth it.
Watch Creep on Netflix
Red Dragon (July 20)
Hannibal (July 21)
Hannibal Rising (July 21)
I was enjoying the hell out of the final season of the unfortunately cancelled Hannibal TV show, which was a new adaptation of Red Dragon, so I rewatched the movie to compare and contrast. My conclusion: The TV version is much better, but the movie is still alright. The I watched Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, which both totally suck.
Watch Hannibal Rising on Amazon Prime
Julie and Jack (Rifftrax version) (July 21)
Julie and Jack is an early film by James Nguyen, the guy who would eventually go on to make the amazingly bad Birdemic. The funny thing is that Julie and Jack is actually a way better movie than Birdemic. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still very, very poorly made, but I thought it had a decent plot, better production values, and a premise that required far fewer special effects (and therefore fewer laughably awful special effects). In more capable hands, this concept might have bloomed into a halfway decent sci-fi romance film – but luckily for bad-movie afficianaos like myself and the Rifftrax guys, the hands it was in were James Nguyen’s stupid hands.
The Being (July 21)
Cheesy 80’s monster movie schlock. There is nothing special or unique about The Being, but it’s as good a choice as anything else if you’re in the mood for this kind of thing.
Wet Hot American Summer (July 25)
I rewatched this classic in preparation for the Netflix prequel series, and I found that it really stands the test of time. And while the TV show wasn’t perfect by any means (it falls into the same trap as many prequels, by relying way too much on self-referential fan service), it still made me laugh a hell of a lot.
Watch Wet Hot American Summer on Netflix
Watch Wet Hot American Summer on Crackle
Behind the Mask: The Batman Dead End Story (July 26)
Batman: Dead End was a short fan-made film that I watched on YouTube ten years ago, in which Batman fights Aliens and Predators. I remember watching it, thinking “hey that was pretty cool,” and then moving on with my life. No way did I think I’d be watching a documentary about it a decade later which treats this thing like it’s fucking Citizen Kane or something. There’s no doubt Dead End was well-made, but it’s an 8-minute fanfiction YouTube clip for god’s sake, so it’s really bizarre and embarrassing to see everyone sucking their own dicks about it. Also, assholes, there’s already a great movie called Behind the Mask.
Watch Behind the Mask: The Batman Dead End Story on Hulu Plus
The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? (July 26)
Superman Lives, on the other hand, is a movie that nobody is sucking their own dicks about. Due to a startling confluence of bad ideas, this was to be a Tim Burton film starring Nicholas Cage as a hip modern version of Superman with a sentient cape, who battles Brainiac’s army of mechanical spiders, or something like that. As you can imagine, I am very, very sad that this movie never got made, but now at least we have this awesome documentary about it!
Rosewood Lane (July 27)
Oh shit, until right this minute I totally forgot about this movie! It stars Rose McGowan as a radio psychiatrist, who is being stalked by her evil paperboy. She suspects he has supernatural powers but – SPOILERS – it turns out he’s actually triplets! This was extraordinarily bad.
Late Phases (July 27)
A blind old man moves into a retirement community, only to find that it’s being terrorized by werewolves. This movie is great, due in no small part to Nick Damici’s incredibly commited performance as the lead character. This is one of those movies that I’d even recommend to people not too into horror, but horror fans should especially take note.
Watch Late Phases on Netflix
Crowsnest (July 27)
Aside from the fact that this was yet another found footage movie about young people going camping, I don’t remember much about Crowsnest. But I’m pretty sure it sucked.
Watch Crowsnest on Netflix
Unfriended (July 28)
Plot-wise this is no different than any other supernatural teenage revenge story, but there’s a gimmick here that makes it stand out from the pack: Unfriended takes place entirely on a computer screen. The story is told via instant messenging, Skype, social media websites, etc. It’s a great idea, and very cleverly executed – especially if you watch it on a laptop, like I did. Recommended.
Sightseers (July 28)
This is an artsy-fartsy British film about a couple who go on a road trip and start killing people for no real reason. It has some entertaining moments, but it enjoys the smell of its own stupid farts way too much for my liking.
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (July 29)
Most of the time, so-bad-they’re-good movies suffer from the filmmakers becoming aware that they’re making a bad movie (see: Birdemic 2). But somehow, against all odds, the Sharknado franchise has become so self-aware that it’s cycled around into a whole new category of beautifully crazy nonsense. Sharknado 3 might be the most “meta” movie I’ve ever seen – it features cameos from every shitty B-list actor you can think of (including an obligatory appearance from David Hasselhoff), endless, shameless product placement (sharks attack Universal Studios), and of course sharks in outer space. But the movie’s most egregious move is that it not only ends on a cliffhanger – reassuring us that of course there will be another sequel – but asks for the audience to participate in the molding of that sequel by voting whether Tara Reid’s character should live or die! Sharknado has become such a wacky, bombastic, internet-fueled circus that I can’t help myself from looking at it with admiration and awe. See you soon, Sharknado 4, and for the record I really hope Tara Reid lives!
Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot (July 31)
A short, fun look at the making of Wet Hot American Summer, featuring a lot of cool footage of the film’s production, and of the cast goofing around with each other. Big fans of Bradley Cooper should definitely check this out to see footage of him as a wide-eyed youngster who was super excited about his first big role. I could personally take or leave the guy, so those scenes were pretty boring to me, but maybe you’ll like them.
Watch Hurricane of Fun on Netflix
The Phoenix Project (July 31)
Another movie that felt like a Primer rip-off, except this one is even worse than Project Almanac and stars adults instead of kids. Barf.
Watch The Phoenix Project on Hulu Plus
Twixt (July 31)
Only after I sat through this insufferable piece of shit did I realize it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. What the hell?? Now, I’m not the biggest follower of Coppola’s career, but doesn’t he usually make good movies? Isn’t The Godfather a thing that a lot of people like? What the fuck happened? Twixt stars fat Val Kilmer as an author who travels to a small town for a book-signing event, and then Coppola has an incomprehensible hour-long drug trip. Total fucking nonsense garbage.
After (July 31)
Here is the description Netflix offered for After:
Based on that, I assumed it would be a generic slasher movie, or maybe some ghost bullshit – something stupid that I could throw on in the background while I played video games. After surprised me by going in a direction I never saw coming, and actually turned out to be a very good dark fantasy story, the type of thing someone like Neil Gaiman might come up with. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, and it probably benefited greatly from my rockbottom expectations, but I really liked this.
Burning Bright (August 1)
I think that tigers are probably my favorite animal, and this movie prominently features a real tiger, so that alone would probably force me to give it a thumb’s up, but luckily it’s a halfway decent movie. Briana Evigan (who you might remember as the hot-looking girl from the Step Up 2 the Streets poster) is trapped in a farmhouse with her annoying autistic brother and a bloodthirsty bengal tiger, during a hurricane. As you can imagine this leads to a lot of tense situations and breathtaking chases, and not to put too fine a point on it but it all involves a real live tiger!!! If you also think tigers are the coolest, watch this.
Watch Burning Bright on Hulu Plus
In the House of Flies (August 1)
A young couple are trapped in a basement by Henry Rollins, and forced to play sadistic Saw-esque mind games. This is a movie you’ve seen a hundred times before, except probably with less pretentious titles. Only you can decide if you feel like seeing it again.
Watch In the House of Flies on Hulu Plus
Megaforce (Rifftrax version) (August 2)
This is an early 80’s action film about a team of super elite soldiers with crazy sci-fi weapons, and it feels like a live-action version of something like G.I. Joe or M.A.S.K. It’s just the right kind of crazy for the Rifftrax treatment, and they do a great job mocking it.
House on Haunted Hill (Rifftrax version) (August 2)
Reefer Madness (Rifftrax version) (August 3)
These are two of the very early Rifftrax, done solo by Mike Nelson as commentary tracks for Legend Films’ series of reissue DVDs. Back then, Mike’s approach was to sprinkle in some actual “commentary” (trivia and tidbits about the film) in amongst the jokes and riffing. It’s different from what Rifftrax eventually became, but I find it fun and interesting. Later, the full Rifftrax team went back and created “three-riffer” versions of these classics which were more in line with their current approach. Both versions are very good, so it just depends on your personal preference.
Watch House on Haunted Hill on Hulu Plus
Watch House on Haunted Hill on Amazon Prime
Watch Reefer Madness on Hulu Plus
Watch Reefer Madness on Amazon Prime
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (August 3)
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge (August 3)
I am not sure what made me decide to rewatch the first two Nightmare on Elm Street movies on August 3rd, but less than a month later Wes Craven was fucking dead, so it seems a bit eerie in retrospect. Maybe I had some kind of subconscious premonition? Or maybe I just rewatch classic horror movies so frequently that a coincidence like this was inevitable? Either way, you were the goddamn best, Wes Craven. Rest in peace.
Watch A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 on Netflix
The One I Love (August 8)
A couple goes on a cabin-in-the-woods getaway to try to repair their failing marriage,where they’re encountered by mysterious clones of each other’s ideal selves. Rereading that sentence, I realize I didn’t really do a good job explaining the premise, but that’s okay because the movie sucks anyway.
An Honest Liar (August 9)
Generally speaking, there are few things I find lamer and more boring than magicians, but this dude James Randi has had a motherfucking fascinating life. He gained fame by doing his act on the Tonight Show and shit like that, but soon dedicated his life to debunking predatory pseudoscience by showing how all their “tricks” were done. Also, dude came out of the closet as a homosexual at the age of 82. Whether you care about magic or not, this guy is an extremely interesting human being. And this is a documentary about him.
Watch An Honest Liar on Netflix
Minions (August 13)
I hate to appear as if I’m jumping on a bandwagon, but holy shit do the Minions fucking suck. They are just the worst. If you thought these miserable pieces of shit were unbearable in the Despicable Me movies, you haven’t seen anything. Learn from my mistake and avoid this shit at all costs, and for gods sakes, try to make your stupid ugly children avoid it too.
Descendants (August 13)
Now, I understand that the Disney Channel isn’t going to take legendary punk bands into consideration when deciding on the title of their TV movie, but wasn’t there a real movie called The Descendants just a few years ago? Why, yes there was. This isn’t that movie. This is a movie where the teenage children of the classic Disney heroes are forced to go to school with the teenage children of the classic Disney villains, for some reason. They must learn to get along with each other, and that process involves singing a lot of dopey songs. It all feels like a stupid teeny-boppy version of Once Upon a Time. I loved it, of course.
Triangle (August 19)
I saw this for the first time in 2010, and it has gone on to become one of my all-time favorite movies. If you’re a fan of slashers and of twisty, mind-fucky stories, you won’t wanna miss this one.
The Unauthorized Full House Story (August 24)
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of rumors about the pervy behavior of Full House‘s three male leads, like making jokes about running a train on the Olsen twins and gross shit like that. However, much like last year’s Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, this Lifetime movie glosses over any potential drama on the set, in favor of a more straightforward “this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened” approach. The raunchiest this gets is Bob Saget making a couple of PG-13 stripper jokes, and doing whippets backstage with Dave Coulier and John Stamos. Still, the main attraction of these movies – seeing no-name actors playing famous actors playing their iconic TV roles – is something I definitely get a bizarre kick out of. Especially when the actor in question is a weird, dead-eyed robot man like the guy who played Bob Saget:
Fantastic Four (2015) (August 25)
This movie’s failure was monumentous and well-publicized, and deservedly so. Having said that, I actually enjoyed the first 30 minutes or so, which was a nice little story about teenage scientists. Eventually though, these four have to become fantastic – and as a superhero movie this fails hard. As a Fantastic Four movie specifically, it fails to a degree I wouldn’t have imagined possible. The most dramatic problem is the horrible characterization of Dr. Doom (which, amazingly, is even lamer than the version of the character from the previous FF movies), but the truth is that once they get their powers, the movie does almost everything wrong. It’s stupid, it’s boring, it’s disappointingly sexist, and it’s an insult to fans of the franchise. There’s really no excuse for something this bad to exist in the year 2015, and hopefully this will lead to Marvel’s First Family entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where they belong.
Dark Summer (August 26)
I found this to be slightly more clever and interesting than most dumb ghost movies, but given the choice, I’d still prefer to not watch it than to watch it.
Watch Dark Summer on Netflix
Rollergator (Rifftrax version) (August 28)
Bill Corbett called Rollergator the worst movie they’d ever done for Rifftrax, and he might be right. The title character is a purple alligator puppet, who speaks in a baffling approximation of 90’s teen slang. It’s an obvious attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Ninja Turtles, except this is the cheapest, most obviously-fake puppet I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of movies with shitty puppets. I mean, just take a look:
Yeesh. It’s also worth mentioning that the bad guy is played by perennial bad-movie legend Joe Estevez. Anyway, movies this weird and terrible usually make for great Rifftrax, and Rollergator is no exception.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (August 29)
In my head and in my heart, Roger Rabbit is in constant competition with The NeverEnding Story to be my favorite movie of all time. I saw this thing in the theater about 4 times when I was 8 years old, and about 100 times since. As I said the last time I watched it in 2012:
There are so many things in this movie I am a sucker for: noir detective stories, Disney cartoons, crazy-ass crossovers, Christopher Lloyd. Get some talented filmmakers to smash all those elements together and the result is a once-in-a-liftime masterpiece.
This time, I paid extra special attention to the Smile Darn Ya Smile sequence which closes the film, going through it frame by frame and taking a couple of pictures of it. This little sequence is like a microcosm of everything that is special, groundbreaking and magical about Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
I mean, would you just look at that shit?? All those characters from all those rival studios, hanging out and singing a song together in a live-action noir-influenced world? It’s a miracle this movie happened, and nothing like it will ever, ever happen again.
Watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit on Netflix
Cool World (August 30)
But apparently, Ralph Bakshi never got the memo that something like Roger Rabbit could never happen again, because a few years later he produced this ill-conceived adult-themed rip-off. Looking back on it now, I can sort of respect Bakshi’s vision of crafting a madcap tribute to early Fleischer animation, but the end product is just so sloppy, incoherent and tonally inconsistent. Plus, it’s just fucking gross.
Stone Cold (Rifftrax version) (September 5)
The Magic Sword (Rifftrax version (September 5)
Riffs and riffs and riffs and riffs! Stone Cold is an action movie starring Brian Bosworth as an undercover cop who infiltrates a biker gang. The Magic Sword is a swords-and-sorcery fantasy, which was already previously riffed during the Joel years of MST3K. Both of these are okay.
Garage Sale Mystery: The Wedding Dress (September 5)
Like episodes of the TV show they were clearly meant to be, these Garage Sale Mystery movies are really starting to blur together for me. This one is about Aunt Becky tracing the history of a wedding dress she finds, because she suspects it might have been involved in some past crime. If memory serves, she turns out to be wrong about that, and in the end she reunites a couple who became estranged long ago after some kind of misunderstanding. Or maybe one of them thought the other one was dead? Some shit like that. Anyway, it’s stupid.
3-Headed Shark Attack (September 6)
Speaking of stupid, this sequel to 2-Headed Shark Attack is aggressively stupid, and like a lot of The Asylum’s creature features, also very dull and predictable. Skip this and watch Jersey Shore Shark Attack instead.
Watch 3-Headed Shark Attack on Netflix
Cooties (September 18)
The hook in this zombie movie is that only children can become infected, and we follow a group of teachers who are trapped in an elementary school surrounded by their undead students. It’s not the most original concept in the world, but Cooties is pretty funny and entertaining, due mostly to a competent cast (including Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Nasim Pedrad, and Hurley from Lost), but also because it’s not afraid to push the envelope a little bit when it comes to violence perpetrated by and against children. Gettin’ gory with kids is absolutely necessary for this story, but a lot of lesser films would have totally wussed out. Cooties doesn’t, and it’s a better movie for it.
Poltergeist (2015) (September 19)
I thought this was okay, and certainly not the offensive affront that some people make it out to be. Still, after watching it once to satisfy my curiosity, I can’t imagine any future scenario where I’d ever choose this over the original.
Vacation (2015) (September 19)
Like any comedy as episodic as this one (and, for that matter, the original Vacation movies), there are parts which are very funny, and parts which are pretty lame. One thing I was really hoping for was an awesome new version of Wally World, but aside from a brief glimpse at the front gate, all we get is a scene on a Six Flags-esque rollercoaster. Disappointing! Still, I’d say that overall this is pretty decent and worth watching.
Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story (September 19)
This is a low-budget horror movie based on the internet-born legend of Slender Man. It is light years better than the other Slender Man movie I watched back in 2013, but that’s not really saying much. Always Watching isn’t awful, but Slender Man is cool and scary enough to deserve a great movie, and unfortunately this isn’t it. Someday your time will come, Slender Man.
Turbo Kid (September 20)
This one really came out of nowhere for me! I’d never even heard of it, but then suddenly one day a million people I knew were singing its praises. And with good cause, as it turns out, because Turbo Kid is fucking great. It stars Eli From Degrassi as a superhero-obsessed teenage scavenger in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, who goes to war against an evil warlord played by Michael Ironside. And it’s also a love story. And a comedy. And really goddamned violent. In short, it’s totally awesome and everybody should see it.
Spring (September 20)
Spring felt like a Disney princess movie as written by H.P. Lovecraft, and if you know me at all, you’ll know that’s right up my alley. That’s all I’m willing to say about this though, because it’s great and you should check it out for yourself.
Watch Spring on Amazon Prime
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (September 20)
I’m not sure exactly how I feel about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. On one hand, I admire its tongue-in-cheek meta approach to the tropes of “kid with cancer” movies. On the other hand, it might get a little too meta at points, almost to the point of emotionally-manipulative cruelty. It sure is effective, though – I cried a lot. The young actors here are also very, very good… especially the dying girl herself, who I knew from Bates Motel (where she plays another character with a debilitating illness). She’s really great, and it’d be nice to see her play a healthy person someday.
Straight Outta Compton (September 21)
The main thing I remember about Straight Outta Compton is the viral marketing meme that came along with it, which all of my dopey friends posted on their facebook feeds for about a month. The movie itself, like most biopics, is a little too long and a little too boring. Plus, it’s embarrassingly blatant in the way it waters down some of the sleazier aspects of these guys’ pasts. Really solid performances and (of course) excellent music elevated this one for me a little bit, but it still would have been a better use of my time to just listen to N.W.A. records instead.
The Houses October Built (September 21)
Found footage horror about a group of friends who travel the country to visit Halloween haunted houses. The story isn’t so hot, but all the cool haunted house footage made this one enjoyable for me.
Watch The Houses October Built on Netflix
House on Haunted Hill (1999) (September 23)
This remake is really weird. For the most part, it doesn’t seem to have any issues with forging its own path instead of slavishly aping the original, but then for some strange reason they made Geoffrey Rush dress up and act exactly like Vincent Price. This is quite off-putting, but otherwise the movie is entertaining enough. My favorite scene is, of course, the crazy rollercoaster ride that
Vincent Price Geoffrey Rush takes the reporter on at the beginning.
God I wish that ride was real!!
Jurassic Prey (September 23)
This microbudgeted Jurassic rip-off is one of the craziest, stupidest, shittiest movies I have ever seen. It features a cast of disgusting nobodies, a completely incoherent plot, next-level terrible acting, and special effect that look like they were created by a 9-year-old. In other words, it’s perfect. I adore Jurassic Prey and the fact that it hasn’t achieved a Birdemic-esque cult following is all the proof I need that there’s no justice in the world.
Watch Jurassic Prey on Amazon Prime
Sharknado 2: The Second One (Rifftrax version) (September 24)
The thing about movies like Sharknado is that their self-awareness makes them sorta impervious to the Rifftrax treatment. The guys do their best, but the best part ends up being how awkward it is when Jared Fogle makes his cameo appearance.
Watch Sharknado 2 on Netflix
Watch Sharknado 2 on Hulu Plus
Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf (September 25)
At this point, the Shaktopus people have completely abandoned even the slightest effort to make any sense at all, and I for one applaud them for this. In this latest sequel, the Sharktopus suddenly and without explanation is able to run around on land as well as in water, and he must battle an orca/werewolf hybrid created by an evil Nazi mad scientist lady. If this all sounds exceedingly goofy, even by this franchise’s usual standards, well I’m pretty sure it’s by design. I think the filmmakers are intentionally going for more of a Tex Avery cartoonish style here, and I found it kind of delightful!
Lavalantula (September 25)
Lavalantula, yet another SyFy monster movie, is absolutely desperate to be the next Sharknado, and it doesn’t care who knows it. Between the stunt casting (it stars Steve Guttenberg, Leslie Easterbrook and Michael Winslow, thereby serving as a mini-Police Academy reunion) and the scary-animal-meets-natural-disaster plot (volcano spiders this time!), shit is pretty blatant. But never more so than when Ian Ziering himself makes a cameo appearance and screams some goofy shit about sharks, thus establishing Lavalantula‘s place in the extended Sharknado multiverse. Anyway, this movie is significantly more fun than the majority of SyFy creature features, but it’s definitely no Sharknado.
The Visit (September 27)
Like most sane people, I think M. Night Shyamalan is a shitty fucking hack. The majority of his movies are completely unbearable dogshit, and we’re being truly honest with ourselves, even The Sixth Sense kinda sucks. So I just assumed that his latest movie would also be terrible and only decided to watch it because, well, I watch pretty much everything. Imagine my surprise when I found myself totally loving The Visit! I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything by saying that, yes, this M. Night Shyamalan movie has a twist at the end, but unlike the absurb crap he usually comes up with, this one is really cool and unexpected, and feels genuinely earned by the story leading up to it. Man, I hope this dude doesn’t make a habit out of making good movies from now on, because not hating him would be no fun at all.
i-Lived (September 28)
“i-Lived” is the name of a smartphone app which promises to help its users achieve their life goals, no matter how outlandish they may be. But reading the user agreement’s fine print reveals that – TWIST!! – they are actually selling their souls to Satan. “Oh my god – i-Lived is Devil-I spelled backwards!” is an actual line of dialogue in this piece of shit. Blech.
Lost After Dark (September 28)
This is yet another homage to 80’s slashers, but instead of going the satirical route, this one strives for authenticity. And aside from a couple of corny gimmicks (REEL MISSING), it manages to be a pretty good movie. This is due to likable characters, a cool killer, neat settings, and above all a surprisingly fun performance by Robert Patrick.
Death Promise (Rifftrax version) (September 29)
This is a doofy kung-fu revenge flick from the 70’s, which a smidgen of Blaxploitation thrown in for good measure. Low-hanging fruit for the Rifftrax guys, but they do a great job with it.
Killa Season (September 29)
My friend Andy introduced me to this movie, and for that I will eternally be in his debt. Killa Season is the result of the rapper Cam’ron deciding he wanted to make a movie, without even an elementary understanding of how to act, how to tell a story, or even how to work a goddamn camera. The result is an shocking, anarchic masterpiece of hilarious incompetence. Killa Season is really long (over 2 hours), but nearly every scene had me doubling over with laughter and disbelief. This one is my personal favorite…
…but that’s not even close to being the craziest scene in the movie, or the weirdest, or the dumbest, or the most morally bankrupt. There’s too much great stuff to even begin to list here, but luckily the whole thing can be viewed on YouTube, so just watch it and find your own favorite moments. Thanks, Andy!!
Goodnight Mommy (October 1)
Another October means another attempt to squeeze as many horror movies into a 31-day period as possible, and I got off to a good start with this mysterious and ultra-violent Austrian film. I loved Goodnight Mommy, but unfortunately I figured out what was going on a full half hour before it was revealed, so a bit of the tension was lost on me. You’re most likely not as smart or perceptive as I am though, so you’ll probably like it even better.
A Christmas Horror Story (October 1)
I didn’t bother waiting until December to watch this Christmas-themed anthology film, but it ended up earningitself a place on my yuletide horror playlist just the same. The wraparound story here takes place in a radio station (one of my favorite horror tropes), and features the always-fun William Shatner as the DJ. The individual segments are all fantastic, and the ending genuinely surprised me. Recommended!
Dark Was the Night (October 2)
Kevin Durand (best known as Keamy from Lost) and Lukas Haas vs. a Wendigo. The scariest thing about this movie for me was Kevin Durand’s attempts at acting. What the fuck is this guy? Is he a robot designed to emulate human behavior? Is he an alien trying unsuccessfully to assimilate into our society? Is he a dead-eyed soulless ghoul who has risen from the underworld to pursue acting? He’s definitely not a fucking human being, I can tell you that much.
Watch Dark Was the Night on Netflix
Terminator Genisys (October 2)
It’s kind of a neat bit of trivia that two different actresses from Game of Thrones have now played Sarah Connor, but that’s really the only interesting thing about this mess. I’ll say this: It’s a lot better than Terminator Salvation.
Cinderella (2015) (October 2)
Aside from Helena Bonham Carter’s semi-annoying characterization of the Fairy Godmother, this new version of Cinderella is pretty close to perfect. Alice in Wonderland aside, I’ve been really enjoying Disney’s recent live-action remakes of their classic animated features. I cannot wait for The Jungle Book!
Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the
Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil,
Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead
Part 2 in Shocking 2-D (October 2)
In the early 90’s, some comedian guy and his friends dubbed funny new dialogue over Night of the Living Dead, and their version went on to become a cult classic. I’ve been aware of this movie’s existence since I was a teenager, but this is the first time I’ve actually sat down and watched it. It’s very funny and actually reminded me a lot of Joel-era Mystery Science Theater 3000, which makes a lot of sense given its premise and the era it comes from. The unfortunate thing is that comedians in the early 90’s had waaaay fewer hang-ups about racist and homophobic material, so many of the jokes here (including pretty much all of the main character’s dialogue) made me a little bit uncomfortable. If you’re able to get past that sort of thing, then this is a very good time.
Deathgasm (October 3)
I dragged my friend Andy (of introducing-me-to-Killa-Season-fame) along to see this at the wonderful Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. My primary memory of the evening is that there was a disused parade float parked on the street outside the theater, upon which a trio of drunk college girls were making an awkward attempt to “party.” We made fun of them for a few minutes, and then went to see the movie, where I was unfortunately seated next to another drunk lady who wouldn’t shut the fuck up the entire time, cackling with laughter at inappropriate moments and screaming “GET IT, GIRL!” every time a female character did anything. She also kept putting her head on my shoulder and grabbing my arm whenever anything “scary” happened, which both annoyed me and confused me sexually. Anyway, this is a horror/comedy from New Zealand, which successfully resurrects one of my favoritie subgenres: the heavy metal horror film. It felt just like a modern take on stuff like Trick or Treat or Black Roses, except a little more intentionally tongue-in-cheek. If you love those movies, you’ll definitely get a kick out of Deathgasm. GET IT, GURRRLLL!!!
Trick or Treat (October 4)
Ha, of course I immediately rewatched Trick or Treat the next day. I am so fucking predictable.
Mega Shark vs. Kolossus (October 4)
Another goddamn shark movie, this one is the latest entry in the series that brought us such classics as Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus. I will keep watching these shark movies as long as they keep getting made, because every once in a while, one of them will be so entertaining as to make the chore of watching the rest of them worth it. This is not one of those.
Some Kind of Hate (October 5)
The title’s Misfits reference was enough to convince me to give this a try, but unfortunately it turned out to be my least favorite type of horror movie, a dumbass ghostly revenge story.
Watch Some Kind of Hate on Netflix
Ghostwatch (October 5)
I was talking to someone about WNUF Halloween Special, and they said that my description of it reminded them of Ghostwatch, an old BBC TV movie they’d seen as a kid. I’d never heard of Ghostwatch so I seeked it out. Like WNUF, it’s a fake news broadcast that sends reporters to investigate a haunted house. This isn’t anywhere near the quality of WNUF, but it’s still a fun little movie.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story (October 5)
Lifetime’s next Unauthorized Story actually adds some drama into the mix, primarily by way of infamous megabitch Shannon Doherty, against whom the film pulls few punches. This also serves as the debut of my new favorite movie character: Aaron Spelling as portrayed by Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellaneta. I have no clue why Castellaneta agreed to take on this role, but I am so glad he did because he is hilarious and totally steals every scene he is in. But my absolute favorite moment is when Tiffani-Amber Thiessen joins the cast of 90210, and is played by the same actress who portrayed her in The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story. Thus establishing the existence of a connected, all-encompassing Lifetime Channel Unauthorized Story-verse! Yes!! For a more detailed look at the movie, please check out Crystal’s write-up on Live-Blogging Lifetime Movies.
Deadly Friend (October 6)
A Wes Craven film that I’d never seen or even heard of before, this one is about a teenager who turns his brain-dead girlfriend (played by Kristy Swanson) into a robot, and she turns out to be murderous. I got a real kick out of seeing Mama Fratelli in the movie – she is such an iconic figure for me just based solely on The Goonies, and I feel like I rarely see her in anything else. But even aside from that, Deadly Friend is pretty damn good.
The Burning Dead (October 7)
This is about a hoarde of lava-zombies emerging from a volcano, and it stars Danny Trejo. That should pretty much tell you everything you need to know.
Watch The Burning Dead on Amazon Prime
Zombieworld (October 8)
This is one of those anthologies where the individual segments are clearly just independently-produced short films that were later shoehorned into a full-length movie. Whenever I see one of these, I wonder about the process by which it came together. I imagine it’s a lot like the way very small punk labels used to solicit bands to appear on compilations, starting with high hopes but ending up with a hodgepodge of disparate songs slapped together on a CDR. Thinking about it that way triggers fond nostalgia for me, and makes me want to appreciate movies like this, but unfortunately Zombieworld is less Punk USA and more Pop a Boner. In other words, it’s pretty shitty.
The Final Girls (October 9)
Yet another comedic tribute to 80’s slashers, but this is by far my favorite of the ones I’ve seen this year, and in fact is one of my favorite films of the year, period. This is about a group of modern-day young people who get sucked into an old movie, so in that sense it reminded me a lot of Teen Beach Movie – except in this case, the movie in question is basically Friday the 13th. If I have one complaint, it’s that I wish the filmmakers had had the guts to shoot the “inside the movie” segments in a grainy 80’s style – it feels a little weird that the characters are watching an old grainy movie but then once they get sucked inside of it, everything looks exactly the same as the “real world.” Aside from that, The Final Girls is clever, funny, exciting and shockingly emotional. Without giving anything away, I will confide that I wept like a little baby during one scene near the end. If you have any amount of affection for the genre being homaged here – or especially for Friday the 13th in particular – you should consider The Final Girls must-see.
Pixels (October 9)
One day, during my daily commute, I happened to walk past the NYC movie theater where the red-carpet premiere of Pixels would be held later that evening. I stopped for a while and watched guys set up enormous parade-style balloons of Pac-Man and Centipede, and I snapped a picture of this great life-sized Donkey Kong statue:
So that was fun. But a few months later I finally saw the movie and, as has been widely reported, it really sucked. Especially disappointing was Peter Dinklage, who was tasked with playing an exaggerated caricature of Billy Mitchell. That seems like low-hanging fruit for any actor with the slightest amount of comedic skill, but somehow the usually-great Dinklage is unable to insert any humor or charm or anything into this lame, lifeless role. Another huge misstep is the use of Q*Bert as the comic-relief sidekick. This exact thing was just done a couple of years ago in Wreck-It Ralph, to much, much better effect. And if you’re Pixels, the last thing in the world you want to do is remind people that Wreck-It Ralph exists.
I will say that I am enough of a video game nerd that I found myself captivated by most of the battle scenes which featured the video game monsters in action. The Centipede was especially awesome. But I’m sad to say that even that was nowhere near enough save this piece of crap.
The Curse (October 10)
The Curse is an 1987 adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space. It’s semi-faithful to the source material, and a decent movie in its own right, but is slightly marred by a lame ending.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (October 11)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (October 11)
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (October 11)
Halloween II (2009) (October 11)
After a conversation at a bar on a Saturday night, during which a friend admonished me for never having seen any of the Halloween sequels past Part III, I spent a lazy Sunday watching them all. I distinctly remember thinking that my friend was correct when she claimed that these were good movies worth watching. However, just a couple of short months later, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about any of them, so I guess they’re not very memorable. Oh, I also watched Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, which sucked.
Watch Halloween 6 on Netflix
Friday the 13th (2009) (October 13)
Looking back on my past “Year in Movies” write-ups, I was surprised to learn that this was only the third time I’d seen the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th. The movie has become such a classic in my mind that I would have sworn I’d watched it more than that. In any case, this latest viewing confirms that this is an awesome movie which deserves its place in the best horror franchise of all time.
The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story (October 13)
As you might expect, this serves as a direct sequel to The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 story, which means the welcome return of Dan Castellaneta’s Aaron Spelling!! Unfortunately, I never really watched much Melrose Place, making this the first of these Unauthorized Stories which focused on a show I don’t really care about. As a result, I personally enjoyed it significantly less than the other ones, but that’s my own problem. Anyone who was a fan of Melrose Place shouldn’t have that issue at all.
The Vagrant (October 15)
Bill Paxton is a yuppie who buys a brand new house, only to be tormented by a bum who had been squatting there. This horror/comedy from the early 90’s certainly feels like a horror/comedy from that era. It reminded me a little bit of stuff like The ‘Burbs, except a hell of a lot weirder.
Crimson Peak (October 15)
I didn’t know quite what to expect from Guillermo del Toro’s latest project, except that I’d read a quote from the director where he was desperately emphasized that Crimson Peak is not a horror movie, but rather is a Gothic romance story with horror elements. Well, it turns out that description is completely accurate – this feels more like some Horace Walpole shit than a typical Hollywood ghost story. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a ghost story – there are ghosts in it, of course, but the emphasis here is on living human beings and how awful they can be to each other. When I went to pee after the movie ended, the men’s room was full of dudes talking about how shitty the movie was, but I loved it. It’s slow-paced, moving, beautiful-looking, romantic, atmospheric, creepy, violent, scary and depressing. My only complaint about the movie is that it’s gotta be a bad sign for del Toro’s long-rumored Haunted Mansion movie, because he has surely blown his “haunted house” load with this one.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (October 17)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (October 17)
On October 17th, I watched the beginning and the end of Jason Voorhees’ epic battle with Tommy Jarvis, which is one of my favorite elements of the Friday the 13th franchise. Tommy showed up again in the comic book Jason vs. Freddy vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors, but I really hope we haven’t seen the last of the character on the silver screen.
Watch Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter on Hulu Plus
Watch Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter on Amazon Prime
Watch Friday the 13th Part VI on Hulu Plus
Watch Friday the 13th Part VI on Amazon Prime
The Final Terror (October 17)
Surprise surprise – I watched another 80’s slasher. I don’t really remember this one at all. I bet some teenagers got killed in it.
Gravy (October 18)
A gang of knucklehead criminals hold the staff of a restaurant hostage, with designs to cook and eat them. Gravy is reallllllly dumb and chock-full of plot holes, but I thought it was entertaining enough.
WNUF Halloween Special (October 18)
Last year, after I watched WNUF Halloween Special for the first time upon the recommendation of my friend Oliver, I declared that the film would become a new annual Halloween tradition, and so this is me sticking to that promise. Here’s what I said about it then:
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.
The movie is just as good the second time around. Please check this out if you get a chance, especially around Halloween-time. I’ve been ranting and raving about the movie to anyone who would listen for a year now, but I still feel like Oliver and I are the only two people on Earth who have seen it.
Final Exam (October 18)
Final Exam is a penetrating documentary about the impact standardized testing has on the education of American students. Just kidding! It’s an 80’s slasher!
Tales of Halloween (October 18)
Another holiday-themed anthology, Tales of Halloween feels almost like a companion piece to A Christmas Horror Story. This is partially due to the fact that this one also features a radio DJ in its wraparound, and guess what?? That DJ is played by Adrienne Barbeau, pretty much reprising her role from The Fog! She’s only in this movie for about two seconds, so don’t too excited – but it’s a neat little easter egg. This one has way more stories than A Christmas Horror Story – about ten of them – so of course there are a couple of clunkers in there. But the majority of them are pretty damn good. The standout for me was Friday the 31st, which offers a comedic take on Jason Voorhees that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales (October 19)
Another anthology. I don’t remember what prompted me to check this out, since I had no idea who Tom Holland was. I looked him up right before watching it, and learned he was the director of Fright Night and Child’s Play and several episodes of Tales From the Crypt. So then I got pretty excited for the movie! Well, I don’t know what the fuck happened to Tom Holland between then and now, but holy shit this is one of the worst things I have ever seen. Every single story sucks, Tom Holland’s embarrassing Cryptkeeper-esque interstitials made me cringe, and the whole thing is so shoddily put together that you’d think a 12-year-old made the movie. Holland’s pedigree meant that he could get some cool actors for this, including Danielle Harris, James Duvall and (making his third appearance on this list) Ray Wise, but none of them can save this turd. I think this might be the worst horror anthology I’ve ever seen, and keep in mind that I’ve seen Zombieworld.
Pod (October 19)
Two siblings travel to visit their drug-addled brother in his isolated cabin, with the intention of staging an intervention for him, only to find that he’s been taken over by an alien or some shit like that. The drug addiction themes here were handled much better in the Evil Dead remake, and that movie wasn’t nearly as pretentious or dull as Pod. So skip this and just watch Evil Dead instead. Or watch The Lion King or Can’t Hardly Wait, for all I care. Just as long as you don’t watch fucking Pod.
Watch Pod on Netflix
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (October 19)
A classic Halloween-themed horror movie from 1981, that I remember always seeing at Blockbuster Video, but had never actually watched. I’m glad I finally got around to it, because it’s great. I wish I’d seen this as a kid, because man I would have loved it!
Maggie (October 20)
Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his acting debut in this slow-moving, beautiful, incredibly touching zombie movie. I’ve seen pretty much all of Arnold’s movies, and I love the big lug, but I honestly had no idea he was capable of the acting chops that he displays here. Really great movie, and a huge leap forward for Arnold.
Camp Dread (October 20)
Eric Roberts plays a washed-up director who became famous for a series of camp-themed horror movies in the 80’s, but now he’s running a real camp for troubled kids, except the camp is also a reality show about a camp for troubled kids, except the reality show about the camp for troubled kids turns out to actually be a plot to kill the troubled kids in the same way the kids in the camp-themed horror movies were killed. In case you haven’t figured it out, the plot of Camp Dread is really, really convoluted, and also really, really stupid. Danielle Harris is second-billed here, but don’t be fooled, because she only shows up for like five minutes of this mess.
Crawl or Die (October 21)
Crawl or Die is a sci-fi film about a group of future space marines who go on a mission to rescue the last fertile woman in the universe, only to find themselves trapped in a claustrophobic series of space caves, being stalked by a space monster. It is like Alien meets Children of Men meets The Descent. It’s also a really good movie, mostly because of Nicole Alonso‘s kick-ass performance as the main character.
Watch Crawl or Die on Hulu Plus
Watch Crawl or Die on Amazon Prime
Demons (October 21)
This was my first time seeing this Dario Argento-penned classic about a group of people in a movie theater being stalked and possessed by demons. Everyone else in the world but me has probably seen this a million times already, so you don’t need me to tell you it’s great. But for the record, it’s great.
Watch Demons on Hulu Plus
The Birth of a Nation (October 21)
My friend Andy seems to be getting a lot of mentions this year, but I’m not sure he’ll be happy to be associated with this one. Around this time, I crashed at Andy’s place for 10 days or so, during which we watched a lot of dumb shit together. On October 21st, for some reason, we started watching a lot of old silent movies on YouTube, culminating in a viewing of Birth of a Nation in its entirety. If you don’t know anything about this movie, go read up on it, and then come back to shake your head in silent judgment. Now, I’d love to tell you that Andy and I sat and watched this in solemn condemnation, sighing loudly and “tsk-tsk”-ing at the tragic folly of mankind. But no, we didn’t do that. Instead we did two things. The first was to laugh our asses off as we made fun of the movie. We laughed at all the white actors in blackface, we laughed at how much the guy playing Stoneman looked like Gene Simmons, and above all we laughed at our favorite character, Renegade Gus.
Just in case you don’t think we’re bad people yet, the other way we reacted to Birth of a Nation was even worse – we sat in awe at how incredible a piece of filmmaking it was. The movie was released in 1915, and featured epic battle scenes, artistic color tinting, interesting shots, incredible setpieces, and so many great techniques that wouldn’t really be used again for at least a couple of decades. It’s a testament to its quality that we sat there enthralled for almost three hours by this brutally racist silent movie, without getting bored or offended enough to turn it off. It’s a remarkably well-made film, and it’s almost kind of a shame how much its legacy has been tainted by its vile worldview.
Watch Birth of a Nation on Hulu Plus
Watch Birth of a Nation on Amazon Prime
Foodfight! (October 22)
The next day, Andy and I followed up Birth of a Nation with a film that is possibly even more offensive. I first heard of Foodfight! a year or two ago, and it already seemed like the stuff of legends. The internet whispered in hushed tones about its troubled production history, involving corporate espionage, creative conflicts, and stolen hard drives. I also heard that it was the single worst animated feature ever produced, and now that I’ve seen it, I can confirm that at least that part is true. Foodfight! is a mess. A hilarious, insane, disgusting mess. The concept here is basically Toy Story except with corporate mascots – at night when the supermarket closes, all the product mascots (called “Ikes” here, short for “icons”) come to life and have adventures. This includes some recognizable characters from real products (such as the California Raisins, the Hawaiian Punch kid, etc), and some are made up just for the movie. The latter category includes most of our main characters: Dex Dogtective, his disturbing cat/human-hybrid girlfriend, a chocolate monkey voiced by Wayne Brady, Larry Miller as a gay Count Chocula rip-off, and this turd-looking weasel:
So, already, the film fails embarrassingly right at the conceptial stage, but the execution is even worse. As you can see above, the character design is vomit-enducing – except of course for the legit mascots, whose slightly more professional design clashes awkwardly with the characters designed specifically for the film. The animation (supposedly slapped together at the last minute after most of the art assets were mysteriously stolen) is jerky, bizarre and in its best moments resembles a cutscene from a shitty Playstation 1 game. The plot is incomprehensible, endlessly repetitive nonsense. The dialogue is lifeless and strained, and peppered liberally with inappropriate sexual innuendo. I am gonna stop typing now, not because I am out of things to say about Foodfight!, but because there’s just too much to say, and I’d be here all day. Just go see it for youself.
Watch Foodfight! on Amazon Prime
Begotten (October 22)
After Foodfight!, Andy put this movie on and then went to bed like an asshole, leaving me to watch it alone in stunned solitude. But to tell the truth, I was way too fascinated by Begotten to turn it off. The film’s IMDB description says…
…but man, I never would have guessed that just by watching it. All I could tell was that it was a silent movie where deformed monsters disembowled themselves and shit women out of their wounds, and weird tribes were constantly raping and mutilating each other. This shit makes David Lynch look like Walt Disney, and I’d be lying if I said I really understood a second of it prior to reading about it afterwards. But, honestly, I really really enjoyed it. Sometimes understanding something is not necessary to appreciate its aesthetic beauty, and for me this was the case with Begotten. Well, maybe “beauty” isn’t really the right word, but its aesthetic something fascinated me. I don’t think I’ll ever watch it a second time, but I’m glad to have seen it at least once.
All Hallows’ Eve 2 (October 23)
I was really impressed by the first All Hallow’s Eve when I watched it on Halloween day in 2013. I found it to be genuinely scary, surprisingly artful, and as unique a take on the horror anthology format as I’d ever seen. So in that sense, this sequel was pretty disappointing. It’s a more traditional by-the-numbers collection of stories, which felt really similar to something like Tales of Halloween. It’s not bad at all for what it is, but I’m sad to see it take such a large step away from the first movie’s originality.
Trainwreck (October 23)
Judd Apatow’s vehicle for Amy Schumer has plenty of funny moments, but holy fucking shit is it long! By the last half hour, I just couldn’t wait for it to be over. This would have been a pretty great 90-minute movie, but someone (presumably Apatow) decided they wanted to put out a fucking 2-hour comedy, and the film really suffers for it.
The Overnight (October 23)
An extremely awkard sex comedy. Too awkward for me, I think. That, plus the presence of the loathsome Jason Schwartzman = thumbs way down.
Bone Tomahawk (October 24)
Kurt Russell vs. a cannibalistic tribe of savages in this wonderful slow-paced Western. The horror elements only really come into play towards the end of the movie, but when they finally hit, they hit hard. Highly recommended.
Watch Bone Tomahawk on Amazon Prime
The Green Inferno (October 24)
My October 24th cannibal theme continues! As a huge horror fan, I have the stomach for lots of things, but for some reason nothing disgusts and horrifies me as much as the concept of tribal cannibalism. Stuff like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox have always freaked me out so much, so I was pretty trepidatious about watching this homage to that genre. Luckily Eli Roth – of whom I’m generally not the biggest fan – inserts just enough humor into the movie to make the other stuff palatable, and as a result I found myself actually enjoying The Green Inferno. Even more surprising was the film’s ending, which I found to be way more provocative and challenging than I would have expected from a movie like this, or from a filmmaker like Roth.
Windy City Heat (October 25)
During my stay at Andy’s house, he introduced me to a bunch of movies and TV shows that I ended up really liking, but unfortunately this one turned out to be a miss. Windy City Heat is the documentation of an elaborate prank pulled on a quirky struggling actor, in which he is tricked into thinking he is starring in a big-budget action movie. Maybe it’s because I never really felt like I “got” the joke going on here, or maybe it’s because I’m really skeptical at the authenticity of this prank, but for whatever reason this didn’t really click with me. Sorry Andy, you can’t win ’em all!
Howl (October 25)
In Howl, a British passenger train has stalled in the middle of the woods, and the people on board are being stalked by werewolves. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about stories that take place on trains that really appeals to me, and this is no exception.
The Hoarder (October 26)
If your busy life only leaves you enough time for one horror movie about people trapped in a storage facility, make it Storage 24 instead of The Hoarder. In fact, even if you’ve got all the time in the world, skip The Hoarder anyway.
The Sand (October 26)
A group of college kids are trapped on a beach where the sand itself is trying to kill them. This was an okay movie!
Lumberjack Man (October 27)
A demonic lumberjack rises from the grave to get revenge on the staff of a church camp. I can’t remember the specifics of why the lumberjack wants revenge, but I do remember – no joke – that it has something to do with pancakes. It’s a very pancake-heavy movie in general. It’s also pretty funny, from what I remember. There’s nothing truly special about Lumberjack Man, but it’s a good enough time.
Knock Knock (October 27)
Eli Roth’s other release this year was as different from The Green Inferno as night and day. This one is about a devoted family man who is seduced and tormented by a pair of devious vixens, and I loved every minute of it. Make no mistake – Knock Knock is a very, very, very bad movie. It’s the type of movie which would be nearly unwatchable if it featured a bunch of decent actors decently acting their way through this garbage story. Luckily, instead of that, this stars Keanu Reeves – perhaps the worst actor of all time – in the lead role. Watching Keanu vacantly stumble through his ridiculous dialogue is a treat, which is intensified even more whenever he makes a futile attempt to actually show emotion.
God, he’s amazing. His boundless ineptitude transforms what could have been a run-of-the-mill shitty thriller into a gleeful carnival of terribleness.
Death Spa (October 28)
The crew of the How Did This Get Made? podcast seemed to get a kick out of this 1989 tale of a haunted health club, but aside from one funny scene where a guy gets attacked by a reanimated eel, I mostly just found it dull and plodding.
Dismembering Christmas (October 29)
I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more “cabin in the woods” slashers that take place during the winter. It seems to me that cold and snow and dead trees and isolation could lead to a moodier atmosphere than summertime sun. For that reason, I was pretty excited to see Dismembering Christmas, which is set not only during winter, but (as you might have guessed from the title) at Christmastime! Unfortunately, the movie really, really sucks, and not in any kind of good way. It is poorly written, poorly acted, poorly edited, poorly everything. It’s too bad because I love the concept here, and I hope someone else takes another crack at it.
They Found Hell (October 30)
This SyFy Channel original film is about a group of college students who accidentally enter a portal to Hell. It’s way more ambitious and imaginative than most SyFy fare, but is unfortunately still boring and stupid and full of laughable special effects. E for Effort though, SyFy Channel.
Truth or Die (October 30)
British teens travel to an isolated cabin where they are trapped by a madman and forced to play a deadly game and blablabla, you know the drill. I remember thinking one of the lead actresses was really hot, but that’s really the only positive thing to say about this crap.
Night of the Living Deb (October 31)
I was still at Andy’s house when Halloween arrived, and losers that we are, we had nothing to do but sit around and watch movies all day. We had previously watched the entire run of Chris Elliot’s Eagleheart, and so I decided we should watch this zombie comedy since it starred that show’s hilarious (and hot!) sidekick Maria Thayer. Thayer was fine as the titular Deb, but unfortunately I can’t say the same for the rest of the movie, which regurgitates every zomedy cliché I’ve seen in a zillion other, better movies. I’m sad to say it, but you shouldn’t bother with this one. Oh, and for those keeping track, this marks Ray Wise appearance #4.
The Old Dark House (1932) (October 31)
A haunted house movie from James Whale, the director of Frankenstein. Not mind-blowing or anything, but perfectly adequate as a mood-setter for a boring Halloween afternoon.
Ooga Booga (October 31)
Charles Band, the director of such fine films as Gingerdead Man, Killer Bong, Gingerdead Man vs. Killer Bong, and a million more low-budget horror films featuring puppets, brings us Ooga Booga. The tale of a black college student whose soul is magically transferred into the body of a tribal African voodoo doll, this 2013 movie somehow manages to be ten times more racist than Birth of a Nation. I mean, just look at this shit:
This movie is just so, so racist. But, um, it’s also pretty fun. If you like Charles Band’s previous work to any degree, there’s no reason you won’t like this too. Just prepare yourself for some uncomfortable moments.
Watch Ooga Booga on Hulu Plus
Watch Ooga Booga on Amazon Prime
Exeter (November 2)
I could usually take or leave “demonic possession” type movies, so I wasn’t expecting much out of Exeter, but it actually turned out to be halfway decent.
Back in Time (November 3)
This documentary about Back to the Future frustrated the living shit out me, by focusing less on the making of the iconic films than it did on the franchise’s fan community. Now, there are lots of fine documentaries that have taken this approach, but it’s baffling in this case because these filmmakers actually had access to nearly every important figure involved in Back to the Future’s production. They managed to score interviews with Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and even Steven fucking Spielberg, and yet they didn’t think that those guys’ recollections and thoughts ought to be the focus of the film. “Oh excuse me Mr. Spielberg, I’m sorry to interrupt your story about the making of the movie, but we’ve got a guy coming in who made his own Delorean out of trash he found in a junkyard. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass!” There’s definitely some cool stuff to be found in Back in Time (I was especially impressed by Secret Cinema’s recreation of Hill Valley), but I can’t even begin to imagine why these filmmakers decided to squander the amazing opportunities they had access to.
Watch Back in Time on Netflix
Back to the Future (November 4)
Back to the Future Part II (November 4)
Back to the Future Part III (November 4)
Yup. Of course I immediately rewatched the entire trilogy. Here are some thoughts I posted on facebook as I watched:
I stand by these statements.
Infini (November 5)
This is a very Thing-ish story, in which astronauts aboard some kind of spaceship get possessed by an alien entity. It’s not bad, but why not just watch The Thing instead?
Watch Infini on Netflix
Mr. Holmes (November 5)
A great film starring Ian McKellen as a 1000-year-old Sherlock Holmes. If you go into this expecting the typical mystery tale that the character is known for, you might be a bit disappointed. What you’ll get instead is a touching and honest look at a great man at the end of his life, looking back on his accomplishments and failures. Mr. Holmes is definitely not the usual sort of Sherlock story, but it’s a really wonderful movie in its own right.
Nintendo Quest (November 5)
An aspiring filmmaker decides he wants to make a documentary, so he coerces his Nintendo-fan friend into travelling across the country in an effort to collect all 678 cartridges that were published for the original NES. The problem with Nintendo Quest is that, unlike other documentaries which focus on their subjects’ quirky hobbies, this one feels entirely contrived. I get the impression that the collector is only half-heartedly interested in this “quest” and is just going along with it so his buddy can have something to make a movie about. As a result, the “stakes” here feel non-existent, and I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything. Not that anything too exciting was going on anyway – it’s basically just a bunch of scenes of the guy going into one video game store or another, and then saying, “Oh they had Fester’s Quest in there for a pretty decent price, so I can check that one off the list.” Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat. And then, at the end, he doesn’t even accomplish his mission. Man, I wanted to love Nintendo Quest but there’s just nothing going on here at all, aside from some unlikable guy exploiting his equally unlikable friend’s hobby in an attempt to get his foot into the movie-making door. Lame.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (November 6)
Tommy Boy (November 6)
Black Sheep (November 6)
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (November 7)
The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (November 7)
Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (November 7)
The Addams Family (November 7)
I went to spend the weekend at my friend Jon’s house in Long Island and, knowing he had gotten really into jigsaw puzzles lately (I have the coolest friends, don’t I?), I brought him this puzzle as a present. The concept is that you’re presented with a murder mystery, and you must put the puzzle together and examine the revealed image in order to determine whodunnit. Well, we ended up spending the entire weekend in his living room laboring over that puzzle, and guess what? We didn’t even finish it!! We did end up solving the mystery though, so that’s an accomplishment I guess. Anyway, those are the movies we watched on Netflix while we did the puzzle. Good times!
Watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Hulu Plus
Watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Amazon Prime
Watch Tommy Boy on Netflix
Watch Black Sheep on Netflix
Watch The Naked Gun on Netflix
Watch The Naked Gun 2 1/2 on Netflix
Watch The Naked Gun 33 1/3 on Netflix
Watch The Addams Family on Netflix
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (November 8)
Last year, after enjoying the original Maze Runner, I expressed concern that the inevitable sequel might suffer from abandoning the maze setting. I am pleased to report that The Scorch Trials, which brings the characters out into the larger world, is an even better movie than its predecessor. The world-building here is astounding – I found myself constantly on the edge of my seat, wondering what imaginative setpiece our heroes would find themselves in next. If I were a super nitpicky person, I’d say that the actual story here is super shallow and clichéd, but when there’s this much cool shit going on, I find that sort of thing really easy to forgive.
Lifeforce (November 9)
I’d never heard of this Tobe Hooper movie until, by pure coincidence, I happened to listen to two different podcasts on the same day which both talked about this film. It’s about astronauts boarding a mysterious abandoned spaceship, upon which they discover a really hot girl in suspended animation. They bring her back to London, only to discover that she’s a powerful Space Vampire hellbent on enslaving the human race. It’s extraordinarily silly stuff, but it’s also very fun.
Eaten Alive (November 9)
Another lesser-known Tobe Hooper joint, this one is about a deranged redneck who lures tourists to his ramshackle hotel so he can feed them to his pet alligator. It’s fucking awesome!
Hidden (November 9)
Sometimes people ask me why I continue to watch so many zombie movies, when the vast majority of them are such utter crap. Well, the reason is that every once in a while I stumble across something like Hidden which somehow manages to mine new and fascinating ideas out of this well-worn genre. For me, discovering one movie like Hidden makes all the time I’ve spent watching stuff like The Burning Dead and Zombieworld worth it. Even if you’ve grown completely tired of zombie movies, make sure not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Watch Hidden.
The Devil’s Rock (November 10)
On D-Day, a soldier from New Zealand is captured and held in a bunker by an SS colonel who is trying to summon a demon. There are definitely some cool ideas at play in this movie, but the pacing came close to putting me to sleep.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (November 11)
My main take-away from this movie is how genuine the relationships in it feel – from Cap’s platonic comradery with Black Widow, to his burgeoning friendship with Sam Wilson, to his awkward frenemy status with Nick Fury. “Friendship” can often come across as a corny sentiment, but it’s an invaluable part of the superhero team dynamic which is all too often overlooked. This movie is all about friendship, and it never feels corny or unnatural or forced. Man, I wish Captain America was my friend.
Grounded: Making of The Last of Us (November 12)
The Last of Us was a great video game, due more to its aesthetics and storytelling than its actual gameplay. If you’re at all interested in the development process that goes into the creation of a huge AAA game, then this documentary should be right up your alley. I was most surprised to learn that the voice cast didn’t just go into a recording studio to record their dialogue – instead, they donned motion-capture suits and physically acted out their roles on a soundstage. As impressive as that is, and as fun as it is to watch, that seems… sort of unnecessary. But hey, the end result turned out excellent, so who am I to judge?
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (November 15)
I was really enoying the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV show, which perfectly captures the gory, slapstick spirit of the original movies. So I went back and watched Evil Dead II for the 100th time.
Watch Evil Dead II on Hulu Plus
Evil Dead (2013) (November 16)
Then I watched this reboot for the 2nd time. It’s not quite as remarkable as I thought it was when I first saw it – watching it immediately after a bunch of “real” Evil Dead stuff made the lack of humor really stand out – but it’s still a very good movie.
Mitchell (MST3K version) (November 16)
Mitchell is only my second favorite Joe Don Baker-focused episode of Mystery Science Theater, but it’s still a bonafied classic. Why would anybody want to do this with Mitchell, Joel???
OzLand (November 18)
Two men (brothers? friends? lovers? I wasn’t sure) travel around a post-apocalyptic landscape. One of them is mentally challenged (I think?) and when he finds a dusty old copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he starts applying aspects of the book to the world around him. It’s a perfectly fine concept for a movie – blurring the line between fantasy and reality as a survival mechanism – but unfortunately the execution came up short, due mostly to lousy acting and confusing narrative. OzLand is ambitious and has a lot of neat ideas, so I hesitate to just straight-up shit all over it, but I just wish it had lived up to its potential.
Watch OzLand on Amazon Prime
When a Stranger Calls Back (Rifftrax version) (November 18)
The Last Slumber Party (Rifftrax version) (November 18)
Terror at Tenkiller (Rifftrax version) (November 18)
Three more Rifftraxes that I’d seen before, all of them horror movies. Of the three, Terror at Tenkiller is by far the best, but all of them are pretty funny.
The DUFF (November 19)
This high school comedy is about a girl who discovers that she is the DUFF (“Designated Ugly Fat Friend”) of her peer group, and strives to improve her social status. Based on this description, I expected the movie to primarily focus on the dynamic of the group of friends – but it turned out to be a teen romance story, with the friends only serving as side characters. That was a bit disappointing, and honestly so was the movie as a whole.
The Brady Bunch Movie (November 19)
Fun Fact: When I think of The Brady Bunch, this is what I am thinking of. I never watched the original TV show, but for whatever reason I was a big fan of this movie when it came out. An interesting thing to note is that we are now almost as separated from this movie, timewise, as the movie was from the TV show. So a film released in the 90’s with the intention of evoking 70’s nostalgia now has become a nostalgic relic of its own era. Groovy, man.
Stranded in Space (MST3K version) (November 26)
I don’t know what made me decide to watch this particular episode of MST3K on this particular day. I’m guessing I specifically sought out an episode that I hadn’t already seen a thousand times. Well, it turns out there’s a reason I haven’t gone back to Stranded in Space over and over, because it’s really not one of the better ones.
Hackers (November 27)
I spent my whole life deftly avoiding this movie, until How Did This Get Made? forced me to finally watch it. Predictably, it mostly sucks, except whenever Matthew Lillard is on the screen. Then it really, really sucks.
Watch Hackers on Netflix
Watch Hackers on Hulu Plus
The Magic Christmas Tree (Rifftrax version) (November 27)
The day after Thanksgiving, my burgeoning Christmas spirit was starting to leak into my movie choices. This bizarre Rifftrax was a pretty good start. The whole thing appears to be watchable for free on Hulu, so give a try during your holiday season, won’t you?
Watch The Magic Christmas Tree (Rifftrax version) on Hulu
Kristin’s Christmas Past (November 27)
Sadly, Crystal and her husband Chris have moved to California, so in late November Carla and I went to their apartment for one last Lifetime movie before their departure. This one is a schmaltzy Christmas-themed time travel story featuring Shiri Appleby, and it was an appropriately stupid way to cap off the last few years of Lifetime get-togethers. You can read about it in greater detail on Crystal’s blog. Farewell, Crystal and Chris! We will miss you!
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (November 28)
I watched the original Silent Night, Deadly Night back in 2013, but I guess I’d forgotten most of it, because I found the sequel’s flashback-heavy plot to be pretty baffling for the first half hour or so. I think the killer died in the first one, so now his brother has become the killer of this one. Don’t quote me on that, though.
To All a Goodnight (November 28)
Another Christmas slasher about a guy in a Santa Claus suit murdering people. I don’t really remember this one at all, even though it’s been just over a month since I watched it. That’s probably not a good sign, right?
P2 (November 29)
Still more Christmas horror! This one’s about a workaholic businesswoman who gets abducted by the deranged parking garage attendant of her office building on Christmas Eve. It’s pretty good!
Jem and the Holograms (November 30)
This was a huge commercial flop, and also seemed to really raise the ire of fans of the cartoon show. I was never a huge fan of the cartoon, so the lack of reverence here wasn’t really much of an issue for me. As a result, I thought this was a halfway decent movie, kind of a mix between Josie and the Pussycats and Earth to Echo. On the negative tip, the cast (which consisted mostly of lower-tier Disney Channel stars) was pretty crappy, and the music wasn’t so hot. This isn’t essential viewing by any stretch of the imagination – and big fans of the cartoon should probably avoid it altogether – but it wasn’t nearly as terrible as it was made out to be.
Don’t Open Till Christmas (November 30)
In a twist on the usual formula, this Christmas slasher is not about a killer in a Santa Claus suit. Instead, it’s about a killer who targets people in Santa Claus suits. It sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but this really was enough of a divergence from the norm to make Don’t Open Till Christmas feel fresh to me. Beyond that, it’s more of the same.
Krampus: The Reckoning (December 1)
It was starting to look like I wasn’t going to get a chance to go see Krampus before the end of the year, so I decided to check out this Krampus movie as a consolation prize. Krampus: The Reckoning is about an immortal little girl who has the power to summon the demon Krampus to slay anyone she deems “bad.” The story has surprisingly little to do with Christmas, but I enjoyed it for what it was.
Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves (December 3)
From the director of the absolutely brilliant FDR: American Badass! comes another gonzo slice of alternate-history nonsense. As you might have guessed, this one tells the tale of Helen Keller, a young girl who vows revenge on the pack of evil nightwolves who scratched out her eyes and ears. If you liked FDR, you’ll like this one too. If you didn’t like FDR, this won’t win you over. If you haven’t seen FDR, rectify that immediately!
The Wizard (Rifftrax version) (December 3)
Miami Connection (Rifftrax version) (December 3)
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (Rifftrax version) (December 6)
No Retreat, No Surrender (Rifftrax version) (December 6)
Four more Rifftrax episodes. I was already a fan of all four of these movies before checking out the Rifftrax versions, and I’d put all four in the category of bad movies that are entertaining enough to watch on their own, and are only bogged down by the addition of riffs. Not to say there aren’t plenty of great jokes and observations in the commentaries, but if you haven’t seen these movies, you should at least watch them in their unriffed form first.
Salad Days (December 7)
This documentary takes a look back at the now-legendary DC hardcore scene of the 80’s. The movie attempts to glorify this era, but to me it all seemed like a huge bummer. I feel extremely grateful to have grown up in an awesome punk scene where I didn’t have to worry about getting yelled at by shitheads for drinking a beer or breaking another one of their arbitrary rules.
Steel (December 7)
Steel, starring Shaquille O’Neal as John Henry Irons, was the only DC Comics film adaptation that I had yet to see, so I was happy that How Did This Get Made? finally gave me an excuse to check it out. The film sucks, of course, and abandons almost everything about the source material aside from the lead character’s name. But watching shit like this is a great reminder of how far superhero films have come in the past couple of decades – even the very worst that the genre has to offer nowadays is still unwilling to insult its fanbase to the degree of something like Steel, so that’s something to be thankful for. And the way things are going, it’s really only a matter of time before a proper version of Steel shows up in a movie.
Jingle All the Way (December 10)
My friend John Bilancini is a stand-up comedian, and he set up an event at a bar where he and a group of his comic friends would talk over a screening of Jingle All the Way, Rifftrax-style. At the risk of hurting my friend’s feelings, this didn’t work out so great. The main problem was that there were just too many comedians participating – 6 of them – and they didn’t work out their material ahead of time. So instead of the razor-sharp timing of stuff like Rifftrax, this mostly just felt like six people with microphones talking over each other and constantly competing to get their jokes heard. Just so it doesn’t sound like I’m talking mad shit behind my friend’s back, I will say that I spoke to him about these issues afterwards, and he seemed to agree that they are problems he should address if he does this again. And I hope he does, because it’s a really cool idea that I’d love to see executed in a more effective way. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Jingle All the Way is a fun movie.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (December 12)
A Boy Scout troop and a stripper team up to fight zombies, and the resulting movie contains absolutely nothing that you haven’t seen done better a thousand times before. This isn’t bad or anything, but it’s just more of the same old shit.
Goosebumps (December 12)
I loved R.L. Stine’s teen horror novels when I was a kid (The Babysitter was my favorite), but had kind of grown out of it before Goosebumps became a thing. Still, that didn’t stop me from enjoying this film version, which largely feels like Cabin in the Woods for Juniors. There are some pacing issues with the story, and Jack Black is more annoying than funny as R.L. Stine, but for the most part this is a really good time. I also loved the abandoned-carnival-in-the-woods setpiece, and wish more had been done with it.
The Breakfast Club (December 14)
I was babysitting my 12-year-old nephew, who decided for some reason that he wanted to watch The Breakfast Club. Watching it with him made for some awkward moments during the film’s many sex jokes, but luckily we both seemed willing to just pretend we didn’t hear them and move on. Otherwise, it was nice to see the kid enjoying a movie that was so important to me during my pre-teen years.
Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (Rifftrax version) (December 15)
A couple of years ago, I had introduced that same nephew, along with his father, to my favorite Rifftrax, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny. The movie became something that they bonded over, and they could often be heard quoting it to each other, which warmed my heart. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny was chosen for this year’s holiday edition of Rifftrax Live, and by a happy coincidence a theaterical showing of the event happened to fall while I was babysitting my nephew, so I surprised him and his father with tickets. And when I say surprise, I mean that they didn’t have any idea what movie were seeing until we got into the theater – I’m pretty damn proud of myself for pulling this off! We all enjoyed the show, and were especially relieved that the movie’s horrifying Thumbelina segment had been replaced by a brand new Jack and the Beanstalk story. The shorts which played before the main feature were also great, and introduced me to my new favorite Christmas icon, the Pretzel Monkey. Anyway, be sure to check this Rifftrax Live out when it’s inevitably released to download, because it’s fucking hilarious. Also be sure to remember what a wonderful uncle and brother-in-law I am, because I really am great.
Star Wars: A Phantom Edit (December 17)
Okay, here we go, Star Wars time. December 17th was, of course, opening day for The Force Awakens, and my friends and I had tickets for a 10:30pm showing. We had decided to try to watch all six previous movies before seeing the new one, but it turned out that the only time we were able to do this was the 17th itself. Since watching all six in one day would have been impossible we decided to skip the shitty prequels and replace them with this thing. A Phantom Edit is a fan-created project which edits all three prequels down into one two-hour presentation. It achieves this by cutting out the first movie entirely (except for Qui-Gon Jinn’s death scene), and reducing the other episodes down to the most essential plot points. Even though The Phantom Menace was entirely removed, this thing still feels too long to me – it could have easily been a lean 90 minutes if they cut out a bunch of the Anakin/Padme romance garbage. At the end of the day, no amount of editing could make the prequels actually entertaining, but if you’re just looking for a succinct reminder of the events that occurred within them, this is probably the most painless way to do it. And here it is:
Star Wars (December 17)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (December 17)
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (December 17)
Next, we moved on to the original trilogy. Chris Grivet, who was host for this movie marathon, snapped a picture of my feet during The Empire Strikes Back, which I only learned about afterwards when I discovered it on Instagram.
The original trilogy is magical, of course, and I don’t really have anything new or interesting to say about it here, except that it was a real treat to revisit it with my awesome friends.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 17)
Next up was the long-awaited main event! I will skip over the part where Chris Grivet brought us to the wrong theater and we ended up having to sneak into a theater and sit in the first row, and just talk about the movie itself. It was pretty good… JUST KIDDING IT WAS FUCKING AMAZING AND WONDERFUL AND EVERYTHING I WANTED FROM A STAR WARS MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was confident that Disney wrangling control away from George Lucas would lead to the first good Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi, but I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be this fun, this authentic, this perfect. I don’t even know how to start singing its praises, and I doubt I could say anything that you haven’t read a zillion times already (or felt yourself), but I will try to relay some of my thoughts via bullet points! If you’re worried about spoilers, then I guess skip over this. But really if you’re still worried about spoilers at this point, go fuck yourself.
-Man, it was so great to see Han Solo and Chewbacca back in action. And their presence felt totally natural, not at all gimmicky or fan-servicey. Honestly, I really think The Force Awakens delievered some of my all-time favorite moments between these two dudes – I especially loved Han admonishing Chewie for complaining about the cold.
-The new heroes are great. I am absolutely in love with Rey and Finn and, to a slightly lesser degree, Poe Dameron. Not to mention BB-8 – I feared he would be little more than an adorable marketing gimmick, but he really proved himself capable of filling the R2D2-shaped hole in the movie.
-Kylo Ren is not the type of villain I would have expected in a Star Wars movie, but he is the perfect villain for the story that’s being told. I found his characterization a little confusing at first, but once I pieced together that he was Anakin Skywalker’s grandson, he started to make perfect sense. Kylo Ren embodies everything that Anakin was supposed to be in the prequels, except this time those complexities have been brought to life by a capable actor and capable writers, instead of a bunch of talentless fucking dildos.
-The setpieces on display here are goddamned beautiful, particularly Rey’s turf in Jakku. After the endless green screen garbage we were subjected to in the prequels, it’s a treat simply to see characters walking around real places – so it feels almost like a bonus that the real places in question are this magnificent and mood-setting and detail-oriented. Jakku, you guys, Jakku!!
-I’ve heard a lot of complaints that The Force Awakens is pretty much just a remake of A New Hope. And yeah, duh, that’s one of its major strengths! While I can understand being annoyed by the parallels, try to remember that this movie will serve as an introduction to Star Wars for millions of children. This episode is theirs, so it makes sense to me that it goes back to its roots and tries to recapture so much of what was special about the original film. I do hope that the next two chapters forge their own path a little bit more, but as an opening installment, The Force Awakens is exactly what it should be.
That are just a few of my thoughts – I could type all damn day about The Force Awakens, but that’ll do for now. If I have one complaint, it’s that I don’t think the movie does a very good job establishing the universe’s political status quo. There’s the Republic, and the First Order, and the Resistance, and even after three viewings, I am still not entirely sure how those things operate or what their relationship is with each other. I understand why JJ Abrams wanted to deemphasize the political stuff after the endless senate hearings of the prequels bored everyone to death, but there is a precedent for doing this right. A New Hope managed to gracefully convey this information with a minimum of overt exposition, and I wish this movie had tried a little harder to do the same. But, that’s just me nitpicking about what was otherwise a PERFECT MOVIE. I can’t fucking wait for the next one!
Indigenous (December 20)
American tourists in Panama encounter a Chupacabra, and it would be almost impossible for me to give less of a shit.
The Peanuts Movie (December 22)
What’s funny is that The Peanuts Movie elicited the same reaction from me that most Peanuts cartoons did when I was a kid – LESS SNOOPY, MORE CHARLIE BROWN. But, I guess a lot of people like Snoopy, so whatever. My other complaint is that I wish the movie took place over the course of an entire year or something – its strictly-wintertime setting means that so many iconic Peanuts moments (the Great Pumpkin, summer baseball games, etc) are only briefly alluded to, if not left out entirely. Otherwise, I thought the movie was quite good. It was sweet and funny and charming, adequately conveying the feel of classic Peanuts, and the new art style was really cool.
The Good Dinosaur (December 24)
Pixar’s second feature of 2015 is not bad by any means, but it’s a pretty huge step down from Inside Out. This is the story of a lost young dinosaur trying to find his way home, and it plays out in a series of episodic adventures, which feel oddly disconnected from each other. The movie is cute and funny and visually stunning at times, but it lacks the wit and heart that are at the center of Pixar’s better works. None of this is meant to suggest that you should avoid The Good Dinosaur or anything – it’s a pretty entertaining movie – but just don’t go into it expecting another Wall-E or anything like that.
I Believe in Santa Claus (Rifftrax version) (December 27)
I don’t know how the Rifftrax guys keep finding new crazy Christmas movies to mock year after year, but I’m so happy that they do. This one is a French film from 1984, which finds some children boarding a plane to Finland to find Santa Claus, only to get kidnapped by an orge. Meanwhile Santa and his fairy princess sidekick travel to Africa only to get involved in some kind of dispute with warlords. It’s all delightfully insane and a worthy addition to the Rifftrax holiday library.
The Hateful Eight (December 28)
I knew that Quentin Tarantino’s latest film was an ensemble Western, but what I didn’t expect was how much it feels like an Agatha Christie locked-room murder mystery. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not really that kind of story, but it frequently feels like one, and that’s good enough for me. Plus, I found the “locked room” in question – a snowed-in saloon – to be an endlessly fascinating setpiece, full of interesting little touches that made it feel simultaneously ominous and cozy. On top of that, the characters we are locked up with, brought to life by a remarkable cast, are all extremely engaging. The Hateful Eight‘s actual story is a little bit meh, but its other strengths more than make up for that.
Monkey Kingdom (December 29)
This latest Disneynature “documentary” is about a group of macaque monkeys living in an abandoned temple in Sri Lanka. The difference between this and past Disneynature films is that, unlike the chimpanzee in Chimpanzee or the bears in Bears, these fucking monkeys aren’t even remotely cute. In fact they are downright butt-ugly. The “main character” has a deformed-looking face, an unpleasant Ellen Degeneres hairstyle, and on top of that, her weirdly-shaped gross tits are constantly flopping all over the place. The worst part is, even the babies are ugly!
Listen, if you dumb monkeys can’t even produce cute babies, maybe it’s time to rethink this whole “being a species” thing. I know it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, but don’t worry because these monkeys are also a bunch of annoying, mean assholes. Having said all that, this movie’s narrative – as obviously phony as it is – is one of the more engaging ones that I’ve seen from this series of films, and the abandoned temple the monkeys live in is a really cool setting. Also, Tina Fey narrates Monkey Kingdom and she does a much better job than any of the past Disneynature narrators – she actually even made me laugh a couple times, which is completely unprecedented. So, if you have the stomach to spend 80 minutes looking at some of the most hideous nausea-enducing creatures you’ve ever seen, then Monkey Kingdom is worth a watch.
So that’s it, folks. Those were the 367 movies I watched in the year of our lord 2015. I feel like it’s a less eclectic list than usual, filled mostly with ultra-mainsteam blockbusters, movies forced upon me by Rifftrax and How Did This Get Made?, and way, way too many 80’s slashers. Still, boring doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and overall it was a pretty great year for movies, particularly horror movies and big tentpole sensations. This is reflected in my Top 10 list. Here it is:
TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2015
#10 – BONE TOMAHAWK
#09 – THE FINAL GIRLS
#08 – CRIMSON PEAK
#07 – TOMORROWLAND
#06 – WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
#05 – INSIDE OUT
#04 – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
#03 – JURASSIC WORLD
#02 – STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
#01 – IT FOLLOWS
That list isn’t gonna exactly blow anyone’s minds with its originality, but man what an incredible bunch of movies – especially the top 5. Any one of those five films could have easily been #1 on a lesser year. But in this year, even the collective might of Jurassic World and Star Wars couldn’t take the top spot away from It Follows. Seriously, if you haven’t seen that one yet, do so!
If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading. I hope you found something in this long-ass list that ends up becoming one of your favorite movies, or at least fills up two hours of your pathetic life. As for me, I will continue watching movies and writing about them in 2016. Happy new year!!