Thursday, December 31, 2015

George Lucas says he sold 'Star Wars' to 'white slavers'

From usatoday, George Lucas doesn't seem too happy about the now Disney owned Star Wars Episode VII. Lucas sold his idea for Episode VII to Disney with the rest of Lucasfilm in 2012, and it appears that his ideas were not what Disney was interested in making. It has been heard before that Lucas considered the sale to Disney as a "breakup" with Lucasfilm. George expressed some discomfort with the way that Disney has handled the Star Wars franchise, which he refers to as his "kids." He even went so far as to say, "I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and?" he laughed, probably realizing that it was best not to continue the metaphor.

When George Lucas sold Lucasfilm (and the rights to Star Wars) to Disney for $4 billion in 2012, both sides seemed to be happy with the deal. And in fact, Disney has been reaping the benefits since Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters on Dec. 18, blasting through box office record after box office record.

But in recent weeks Lucas seems to be less than happy with the way things worked out.

In an interview with Charlie Rose this week, the Star Wars creator, and recent Kennedy Center honoree, spoke about the franchise and the deal, and compared Disney to "white slavers."

“I sold them to the white slavers that takes these things, and…,” he said in the interview, before deciding not to finish the sentence.

He also explained how his and Disney's visions for the future of the franchise differed wildly.

“They looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans,’” Lucas said. “They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing. … They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway — but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.’”

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Matt Damon Rescue Missions Have Cost Hollywood An Insane Amount Of Money

From cinemablend, Oftentimes, actors get typecast in certain roles. They become synonymous with a particular character, or even a type of character. While we’d never noticed this before, it appears the same has quietly been happening with Matt Damon. He plays "guy being rescued" an awful lot. What’s more, not only does Matt Damon routinely require rescuing, but Hollywood has spent an awful lot of money, both in reality and within the fiction of the films, in order to get him home safely.

BGR, which did the math on this, noticed this repeated need to rescue Matt Damon and has put together the numbers on what it cost to make those movies, along with an estimate of what it would actually cost to do the thing that happens in the movie in order to bring him back from a distant place. There are eight different films that require a Damon extraction. Some require simple helicopter escapes while others require intergalactic travel.

Movie Budgets

Courage under Fire: $46m
Saving Private Ryan: $70m
Titan AE: $75m
Syriana: $50m
Green Zone: $100m
Elysium: $115m
Interstellar: $165m
The Martian: $108m
TOTAL: $729m

Fictional Costs

My estimates, costs are in 2015 currency
Courage Under Fire (Gulf War 1 helicopter rescue): $300k
Saving Private Ryan (WW2 Europe search party): $100k
Titan AE (Earth evacuation spaceship): $200B
Syriana (Middle East private security return flight): $50k
Green Zone (US Army transport from Middle East): $50k
Elysium (Space station security deployment and damages): $100m
Interstellar (Interstellar spaceship): $500B
The Martian (Mars mission): $200B
TOTAL: $900B plus change

All of the numbers are in 2015 dollars so things are not financially accurate for their era. In 1944 dollars, for example, the World War II Europe search party for Saving Private Ryan would have actually been cheaper. Although, by the time we actually have the ability to mount a rescue on Mars, it will probably also cost significantly more than $200 billion. Modern numbers are probably about as middle of the road as we’re going to get.

BGR does explain how the calculations were to come up with the estimation of the cost of an interstellar spacecraft. Since we’ve never actually made one of those, the cost is even more conjecture than the rest of the chart. Still, it’s a great story. The $729 million in production costs is an interesting number unto itself. Hollywood has spent near $1 billion on movies that include rescues of Matt Damon. Did somebody in Hollywood notice this trend long before the public and think there was repeated box office success in saving Damon’s life? Because it's working.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Macaulay Culkin reprises his Home Alone character

Unsurprisingly 'Star Wars' makes a billion dollars in 12 days

From ew, Talk about making the jump to lightspeed. After only two weekends in theaters, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has officially joined the $1 billion club — at a record-breaking rate. In just 12 days, The Force Awakens has raked in an estimated $1.09 billion dollars worldwide, making it the fastest movie ever to hit $1 billion globally.

The Force Awakens added an estimated $153.5 million to its domestic total this weekend, earning the biggest second weekend of all time. Jurassic World, the previous record holder, only earned $106.6 million in its second weekend. Domestically, The Force Awakens has raked in a total of $545 million, surpassing The Dark Knight to become the fifth biggest domestic movie of all time — in only 10 days.Jurassic World also previously held the speed record for fastest movie to hit $500 million domestically, hitting that mark in 17 days. The Force Awakens did it in 10.

The Force Awakens’ Christmas success means that we can add a number of new broken records to its already long list of accomplishments. On Friday, The Force Awakens made $49.3 million domestically for the highest-grossing Christmas Day of all time. It also pushed Disney’s box office total past the $2 billion earnings mark domestically. The Force Awakensalready earned the biggest domestic and global debuts of all time, and it’s also had a stellar IMAX run,

As of this weekend, The Force Awakens is open in all territories except China, where it will hit theaters on Jan. 9. The Force Awakens’ global success is especially impressive considering that most of the records it’s breaking belong to Jurassic World, which had the added bonus of opening the same day in China.

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While Star Wars was, as expected, the box office champion this weekend, a number of new releases also hit theaters, and The Force Awakens’ record-breaking success, coupled with some other big debuts, made this the biggest Christmas weekend ever at the box office. Daddy’s Home topped the newcomers and blew past expectations to earn an estimated $38.8 million in 3,271 locations. The PG-rated comedy, which stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, earned a B+ CinemaScore.

David O. Russell’s Joy, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, also had an excellent weekend, opening to an estimated $17.5 million. It earned a B+ CinemaScore and opened in 2,896 locations.

Two holdovers rounded out the top five, with Sisters pulling ahead to secure fourth place with $13.88 million. The R-rated comedy, which stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, dropped less than half a percent from its $13.92 million debut last weekend, bringing its domestic total to $37.1 million. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip also saw a miniscule drop in its second weekend, falling about 11 percent for an estimated $12.7 million. Its domestic total is now at $39.4 million.

Some of this weekend’s other wide releases didn’t even manage to crack the top five. The NFL drama Concussion, starring Will Smith, fell just short, opening to an estimated $11 million and earning an A CinemaScore. It opened in 2,841 locations. The new Point Breakremake earned a B CinemaScore and only opened to $10.2 million in 2,910 locations. It was bested by The Big Short, which, after a successful run in limited release, expanded nationwide to 1,585 theaters and earned $10.5 million.

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which opened in just 100 locations with an exclusive 70 mm run, secured 10th place with an estimated $4.5 million dollars and an excellent per-theater average of $45,366. The Revenant also had a spectacular limited release debut, earning $471,000 in four theaters. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s drama, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, earned a per-theater average of $117,750, the second-best of the year.

Here are this weekend’s top five at the box office:

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens — $153.5 million
2. Daddy’s Home — $38.8 million
3. Joy — $17.5 million
4. Sisters — $13.9 million
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip — $12.7 million

Monday, December 21, 2015

Box office report: Star Wars: The Force Awakens demolishes records with $238 million opening

From ew, Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned an estimated $238 million this weekend, making it the biggest domestic opening of all time. Han, Chewie, Leia, and friends obliterated the $208.8 million record set byJurassic World this summer, and in total, The Force Awakens has already made an astronomical $517 million worldwide.

The Force Awakens’ domestic opening is the crowning achievement in a long, long list of broken box office records. Only a few hours after it started screening on Thursday, The Force Awakens had already notched the highest-grossing pre-show day of all time, earning $57 million. Add that to its Friday numbers, and The Force Awakens earned the highest single-day opening of any movie ever with $120.5 million. As a result, The Force Awakens is the first movie to ever earn more than $100 million in a single day, which also makes it the fastest movie to ever reach triple digits. (Jurassic World hit $100 million in two days.) Opening in 4,134 theaters, a record number for a December opening, The Force Awakens posted a per-theater average of $57,568, a record for a wide-release opening.

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Internationally, The Force Awakens reeled in another $279 million, making it the third biggest international opening of all time, behind Jurassic World’s $316 million and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’s $314 million. The Force Awakens’ global total of $517 million puts it just shy of Jurassic World’s $525 million global record. About $99 million of Jurassic World’s record came from China, and The Force Awakens won’t open in China until Jan. 9.

So now what? Just as it was hard to predict The Force Awakens’opening weekend, it’s also hard to predict what it’ll do from here. Because of the holidays, movies opening in December usually see a smaller debut but much, much bigger multiples. A December opening like this is unheard of (the previous December record was held byThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which debuted to $84.6 million). But movies like Avatar, which only opened to $77 million in 2009, went on to make almost $750 million domestically, making it the biggest movie of all time. We’ll have to see what happens over the next few weeks and whether The Force Awakens can not only score a big opening, but a big final total, too.

In other box office news, from a galaxy much closer to home, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip opened to $14.4 million and an A- CinemaScore. Sisters, which stars Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, scored third place with a $13.4 million opening, and the R-rated comedy earned a B CinemaScore. Even though The Force Awakens blew past all predictions, both Road Chip and Sisters managed to hold their own, as both were expected to debut in the low to mid teens.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 and Creed rounded out the top five, earning $5.7 million and $5.1 million respectively. After five weeks, Mockingjay has collected more than $254.4 million domestically, and Creed has brought in $87.9 million.

Here are this weekend’s top five at the box office:

1. Star Wars The Force Awakens — $238 million
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip —$14.4 million
3. Sisters — $13.4 million
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 —$5.7 million
5. Creed — $5.1 million

Friday, December 18, 2015

Horrorthon Gets Chained!

It's that time of year again when the reviews have wound down, the excitement of Horrorthon is waning and the stores are filled with holiday cheer and crazy people are fighting over bargains. What better time for a get together set to some badass original metal tunes sung by your resident Catfreeek! We will be rocking the house at Jimmy's Saloon at 37 Memorial Blvd in Newport, RI this Sunday, December 20th! Joining us on the stage will be The Hangovers and Tung! This is going to be a seriously fun show. Come out and have a ball, the ground begins shaking at 9:00 pm!

Need more Chained? We will be playing The Met in Pawtucket, RI on Friday January 1st with Bad Marriage and The Hangovers! Kick off the new year with some head banging!

LOL: Star Wars characters complaining that they were not in The Force Awakens!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Spoiler Free Early Buzz: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

From slashfilm, The world premiere of JJ Abrams‘ Star Wars: The Force Awakens happened last night in Hollywood California at an unprecedented gala that took over the three big theaters on Hollywood Blvd: El Capitan, The Dolby Theatre and The TCL Chinese Theatre. While full on reviews are embargoed until Wednesday morning at 12:01am, guests in attendance at the premiere were allowed to tweet their brief reactions. After the jump you can find the first First Awakens reactions from the premiere screening.

Twitter Star Wars: The Force Awakens Reviews/Reactions

So what did people think of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? I tweeted the following after the screening:

Awesome. The Force has indeed awakened. I can't wait for what comes next. #StarWarsForceAwakens

— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) December 15, 2015

The Force Awakens is everything we want from a Star Wars movie. The film brought me to tears multiple times.

I talked to many people at the premiere party after the screening, and while some people were hesitant to make a definitive reaction after only one viewing, I did not talk to anyone who didn’t like the movie. Most people I talked to said it was certainly better than the prequels, with some ranking it as highly as their second favorite in the series.

One thing was very clear from everyone I encountered: Star Wars is back and everyone seems to be excited about the future of the franchise. Below you can find a round up of tweets from journalists, filmmakers and guests in attendance at the World Premiere screening. The film will be screening for press around the world on Tuesday night, so you’re very likely going to see more tweets at that time. But feel free to browse the tweets below without the fear of spoilers, as I have ensured that all of the reactions are spoiler free:

"Star Wars" is back. And it's never going away again.

— DrewAtHitFix (@DrewAtHitFix) December 15, 2015

I saw #StarWars #TheForceAwakens. And I enjoyed it a lot.

— Chris E. Hayner (@ChrisHayner) December 15, 2015

Congrats to #JJAbrams and the entire cast and crew on an incredible film. #ForceAwakens made me a giddy 10 year old all over again.

— Josh Gad (@joshgad) December 15, 2015

Star Wars is back. That’s for damn sure.

— Jeff Cannata (@jeffcannata) December 15, 2015

This is what we loved about Star Wars. This is Star Wars.

— Jeff Cannata (@jeffcannata) December 15, 2015

#ForceAwakens might be the best blockbuster since the original.

— Brett Morgen (@brettmorgen) December 15, 2015

The Force Awakens is soooo Star Wars, and Daisy Ridley is the business, and #StarWars

— jen yamato (@jenyamato) December 15, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoke to my every emotion. Most of them good, a few not, but overall it was an amazing, overwhelming experience

— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) December 15, 2015

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is a strong, promising kickoff. As a standalone, I'd rank it #3 in the series.

— Josh Lincoln Dickey (@JLDlite) December 15, 2015

#StarWarsForceAwakens totally delivers #nospoilers I repeat #nospoilers again #nospoilers just

— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) December 15, 2015

Ranking: 1. Empire Strikes Back. 2. Force Awakens. 3. A New Hope. 4. Return of the Jedi. 5 – 8 Prequels. Thank you JJ.#TheForceAwakens

— Adam F. Goldberg (@adamfgoldberg) December 15, 2015

Among its many wonderful qualities, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS passes the Bechdel test.

— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) December 15, 2015

Story, characters, design, humor — #StarWars fans, this is the movie you're looking for.

— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) December 15, 2015

Spoiler free #TheForceAwakens review:

— Matt Martin (@missingwords) December 15, 2015

1st Star Wars review: it was epic, awesome & perfect. The cast was stellar. JJ killed it!

— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) December 15, 2015

Not going to say much till I see it again but rest assured THE FORCE AWAKENS is the best STAR WARS since 1983…maybe 1980.

— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) December 15, 2015


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Worst music video ever

I received the following email from a friend,

"This video is for REAL AND I'm warning you, it is going to get stuck in your head for good" 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


2014  ***1/2

There is more than one monster in this movie.  Sorry, spoilers and whatever, but you needed to know that.

I mention in the Pacific Rim review I wrote last night that I believe/hope there is a new generation of kaiju movie coming to us, one that fulfills our collective dream of what these movies can be.  The good news is that 2014's Godzilla contains many of the elements that these new, better, hypothetical movies will have. The bad news is that 2014's Godzilla is not that breakthrough movie, not by a long shot.

I'll expound on the film's virtues before I start complaining about it. First of all and most importantly, the monsters are great, and I mean really great, starting with the idea itself.  These aren't mutants created by the A-bomb, these are ancient, terrible creatures that walked the Earth well before it could support life as we know it. These are creatures that eat radiation and carry their own electromagnetic fields with them, which means they affect the weather. Their hides look like scales or skin but when you see them take a missile in the face, it makes sense that it would only piss them off.  Watching them fight in the ruins of San Francisco is like looking back in time at some unknowably primal epoch, except the dark walls of the rocky canyons are the broken grids of office buildings.

The sound design for this movie is absolutely incredible.  The noises these creatures make just moving around are weird and massive. There's one scene with two people cowering on a railroad bridge that I've watched over and over, and the sounds are wonderfully satisfying. The debut of the atomic breath is another auditory standout.

The visual design is a winner, too.  When the billboards for this movie were up, I would look at Godzilla's jagged dorsal spikes against a the red clouds and it would seem like those nasty points were rending the sky itself.  Godzilla's face is shaped so that he looks perpetually honked off, which is bad for a human character you're trying to like and excellent for a huge monster.

I'd run even if I saw this mug on a mouse.

Despite what you may have heard about how much monster screen time there is, bear in mind there is more than one critter to ogle, and by movie's end the appropriate delivery of monstery goodness will be received and signed for.


One thing this movie does that I appreciate is avoid any amount of comic relief that almost every kaiju movie feels obligated to include.  The problem is, the serious and well-acted deliveries obscure the fact that many of the plot details, both large and small, don't make sense.  Here are some of my favorite examples:

The military find out that Godzilla is about to approach the Golden Gate Bridge.  Head military dude David Strathern, who is always good, turns to the TV monitor and says gravely "There are still buses on that bridge."  Sure enough, we cut to the bridge and there's a serious, well-acted scene of typical human chaos, with a bus driver honking a horn and a cop yelling something incoherent, and the windows are foggy and oh my gosh what the hell.  But the main reason the bus is stuck is that there are several police cars parked diagonally across the evacuation route.  "Why is this so?" I asked myself.  Seems like the main thing you'd do when evacuating a city would be to keep the road clear, but that's me.

At one point there's a military train moving a couple of nukes Westward at night.  They stop the train because they see an explosion in the distance, and call the soldiers who are keeping the track ahead of them secure.  All that comes over the radio is screams and gunfire, and yet the response is "Please repeat, message unclear," and after more screams and gunfire, "Huh.  Better send a couple of guys ahead to check it out, since we have no idea what's going on."

The major good guy mission at the end is to disarm a nuke that will destroy San Francisco.  The reason it's there is because the plan was to arm the nuke in San Francisco Bay and then sail it out to the ocean, where it will attract the radiation-eating kaiju and destroy it.  But the plan went south shortly after they turned on the timer, because the monster showed up and nicked the nuke.  My question there is, why bring the nuke to the city at all?  Given the present circumstances, I find it appalling that nobody looked at any given stage of this plan and said "But what if a monster comes?" (This is of course a different version of my earlier argument in Pacific Rim:  "Two giant monsters?  That's ridiculous!)

There's also a subplot about the possibility of hundreds of monster eggs hatching, which is dealt with as an afterthought, and I'm pretty sure not one person talks about it the entire time.

Which brings us to our main character, Kick-Ass Goes to the Army. Now, I liked the first Kick-Ass and I'm not quite ready to write off Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but his emotional range in this flick would make Jennifer Connelly proud.

If it's not Taylor-Johnson's abilities then it's probably down to a choice by the director and Exhibit A for this idea is the expression on this girl's face.

Right this second she's watching the ocean recede, but she'll wear the same face as she looks over her father's shoulder at the deadly tsunami heading straight toward their fleeing asses.

Army Kick-Ass is a bland companion as he Forrest Gumps his way through more monster encounters than any other person on Earth, and he is the creature who gets the most screen time.  But that's not the worst part of this movie...

Director Gareth Edwards was given this job because of his work on the excellent Monsters, which succeeds in part because of its "man on the street" perspective.  He tries to chase this idea through Godzilla, but in adapting that formula he blows some key moments. Moment One, Godzilla shows up at last and there's gonna be a monster fight.  Godzilla roars, the other guy roars, theatergoers grip their seats, and then suddenly the scene switches and we're watching the fight on the news several hundred miles away.  Not a bad technique, but undeniably disappointing.

And then he does it AGAIN.  Just as the beasts converge in SF, the camera stays with the crowd fleeing into the subway, and so the doors shut on the sky just as the two monster heads move to strike.  To me both of these moments feel like a failure to connect with the kaiju audience, because in all honesty we'd probably be above ground watching.

Despite all I've just said, I do recommend this movie for the monster stuff.  Watch it with all your lights off, because it is shot pretty dark.  Good luck getting past the shortfalls, and let's raise our glasses to the Wrath of Khan scenario that would make this all worth while.

And I'm done with my reviews!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Pacific Rim

2013  ***1/2

If I didn't dislike splitting my ratings, I'd probably hand Pacific Rim four and a half stars for concept, production design and action, and then two and a half for all the other stuff.  If you can spare the four minutes, I highly recommend you watch the Honest Trailer belowIt really crystallizes many of my own thoughts, plus I'm kind of counting on it to cover some of the plot details for me.

The main reason I love this Honest Trailer is that they can't help themselves -- they have to acknowledge that this movie is freaking awesome.  While it may borrow its essence from extremely well-worn paths in the land of giant robot anime, Pacific Rim is something new and unique.  Nobody has made a movie like this.

Okay, ha ha ha.  In my face.

What I mean is, nothing Michael Bay has done can even touch the sheer scope of what you see here.  These machines are BIG, and there is a purity to that strategy that I absolutely love.  A monster too big to be harmed by missiles, machine guns and bombs?  Punch it!  The Honest Trailer makes a lot of that, but the movie transcends the joke by having giant punches be its actual mission statement.

The other thing this movie does that I love is show how the monster invasions permeated the culture (you may recall me going off on this in my review of Monsters, when the camera briefly falls upon a street mural depicting the creatures.)  In Pacific Rim's opening montage, we see sneaker brands, game shows and video games that are all influenced by the presence of kaiju.  Later you see that kaiju skeletons are sometimes left where they dropped, stripped of flesh and turned into buildings.  It's a fascinating take on the idea, and it underscores another of the movie's unique achievements, which is generating an entire pantheon of creatures with just one movie.  It took Toho decades to introduce this many monsters.

Wigga wittle snooky snooky!!  OH MY GOD MY LEG

Amusingly enough this chibi-style shot was the only group picture I could find, and this isn't even all the monsters.  Believe me, I know. We've got the video game and they're all in the roster, just itching for Zack to use them to kick my butt all over the screen.

During this past year when I haphazardly starting watching every kaiju movie ever made, I started refining my quest for the definitive monster movie we're all waiting for, whether we realize it or not. Cloverfield is almost it, except the monster design sucks.  Godzilla 2000 is almost it, but it's still rooted in the Toho tradition which means a certain amount of comedy and it's still guys in rubber suits.  (As much as I adore the rubber suits, I don't think the perfect monster movie I'm talking about is going to use them.)

Pacific Rim might come closer than any other movie, were it not for my beef.  So what is my beef? The problem with this movie becomes immediately apparent after the montage intro is over.  Within just a couple of minutes you hear the following lines delivered with no irony whatsoever:

"Hey kid.  Don't get cocky."

"A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."

And it doesn't end there.  This is a prime example of poor Rodeo Clown management, and one that really seems avoidable just because it should be easy to avoid every single boilerplate action movie cliche one can think of.  But they didn't.

For example, the leader of the Big Robot project has to talk to a bunch of council members in suits about how their funding is cycling down, in favor of a giant wall built around the Pacific Ocean.  When a kaiju breaches the wall in an hour, you'd think that conversation would immediately turn around, but NOOO.  Another example is the needless conflict between the hero and another robot jock, thrown in so we can have more punches but really based on nothing.   The two research scientists are constantly yelling at each other for no particular reason, and when one character says that two kaiju have emerged from the dimensional rift at once, the reply is "What, no!  That never happened before!"  It's a line that makes me wish I was there, so I could say "Yeah, you know what else used to never happen before?  GIANT FUCKING MONSTERS."

These substantial problems notwithstanding, Pacific Rim works hard to earn its spot in the Hall of Monster Legends, and its work is appreciated in my house.  It is my hope that if you know the connective bits fall short, the monster-punching robot action will work for you like it works for me.  Pew pew!

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster

1966  ****

Let me tell you about last year's Horrorthon.  Not the laundry list of real life events that caused me to punk out without even a review bomb but instead the Horrorthon magic that did happen.  That magic was kaiju magic.  Because it was a stressful time, I mostly screened movies that weren't going to increase my stress in any way, and that meant giant monster movies.  As you've probably noticed, these movies speak to me on some deep level, and while I was communing with my giant scaly gods I accidentally converted my kid to the First Church of Kaiju.

In the months that followed, we watched all 28 of the Godzilla movies, played Godzilla video games, read Godzilla comic books and scoured the world for Godzilla toys (which, because the big bastard's so damn popular, only seem to go up in price).  Here's Zack's kaiju haul from last Xmas.

Thanks to JPX for the big Mechagodzilla on the right.  He found it for retail when it was already climbing on eBay.  Nerd power!

For Zack's birthday in June we built a miniature city out of cardboard for Zack and his guests to demolish.  



You can read the full story here.

Zack's obsession with our large, rubbery cousins continues to this day, dimmed somewhat by the world of Marvel superheroes after seeing the excellent Ant-Man.  We were just playing Godzilla Unleashed on the Wii the other night.  I let him beat me, but only because we had time for just one game before bed and I didn't want to deal with a moody kid.  And to be honest, whether or not I get my ass kicked in that game is seldom up to me.

Against this background of monster mania Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster emerged as an oft-visited favorite.  There are three eras of Godzilla movies, and prior to last year I'd allowed my knowledge of these facts to remain murky -- a murkiness that has cleared now that I've seen them all.  The only era that concerns us today is the Showa era, the first and longest, that started with Gojira in 1954 and ended with Terror of Mechagodzilla in 1975.  All the Godzilla movies you saw on Creature Double Feature would have been from this era, although I don't think CDF broadcast them all (their wonderful website no longer functions, I'm sad to say).

Ebirah the titular sea monster is shown in stock footage in Godzilla's Revenge (the hard-to-watch one in which all the monster stuff takes place in a kid's imagination), but as far as I can tell this movie never aired on Channel 56, so this monster has a certain mystique for me. As you can see here, he's pretty much a giant lobster, and every time he rises from the deep he's accompanied by groovy surf music.

This movie's gang of Rodeo Clowns is probably my favorite of any kaiju movie I've seen, because they completely buck the tired formula of Reporter, Scientist and Screaming Woman.  It begins when Ryota, a young man from a remote fishing village, refuses to believe that his brother Yata died at sea as everyone claims.  He heads to the city to seek help, and starts his quest at the local newspaper office. We see the reporters dither over what to do with him while Ryota is restless in the outside office.  Suddenly he sees a poster on the wall for a marathon dance contest with a sailboat as the prize, and when the reporters come to talk to him, he's gone.  Screw you, reporters!  You're out of the movie!

Ryota goes to the dance contest but it's too late to enter, however he befriends two guys who count as hipsters in 1966 Japan, and after some wacky events they all wind up stranded on Devil's Island with a fugitive safe cracker.  No boat can enter or leave the island without Ebirah showing up and smashing it.  Worse, the island houses a base belonging to the Red Bamboo, a sinister organization bent on... hmm, I'm not sure what their larger plans are but they're using this particular facility to make heavy water to help the wrong people develop nukes.  They're also using natives from nearby Infant Island as slave labor, the lame-oes.

But they got bitchin' eyepatches

Infant Island, you may remember, is the home of Mothra.  (If you do remember that it wasn't because you heard it from me; I didn't mention it in my review of Mothra last year.  But you guys have lives, so you may have talked to the right people, I don't know.)  Watching all these movies I noticed there are quite a few islands near Japan that have some kind of weird shit going on; I intend to catalogue these islands and pretend they all exist in one archipelago, called collectively the Interesting Islands.

It seems that the entire population of Infant Island spends their time dancing and singing to their dormant giant moth god so it will wake up and do something. As a religion I can't really knock it:  your god is right there in front of you, and even if it keeps sleeping through your prayers you're no worse off than pretty much every other religion. And then sometimes those big blue eyes light up and you hear SQUEE SQUEE and Mothra effects a just-in-time rescue.

At which point you and yours have officially won religion.

Watching this the same year I watched Mad Men I couldn't help but think that 1966 New Yorkers probably saw a lot of floor shows like the one depicted here, minus the giant moth.

Meanwhile our heroes have taken refuge in a cave to avoid the Red Bamboo's constant patrols, and within that cave they find the inert form of none other than Godzilla himself, sleeping off the previous year's movie.  Out of options, they wake him up to scare off the guys with the machine guns, and that really gets the fun rolling.  There's no city stomping in this movie; we see very little besides the islands, but for a little place there's a lot for a big monster to do.  For starters, Godzilla does round one with  Ebirah, fights a squadron of Red Bamboo jets, and tangles with an unexplained giant buzzard thing.

"Jesus, what the --  What are you doing?  What the fuck even ARE you?"

While this isn't my favorite Godzilla movie, it's in my top five, and in the Showa series I'd say it's in my top three, along with Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla vs. Gigan.  If you're one of the 'thonners who isn't generally into this genre, this might be the one for you.  It boasts a fair amount of goofiness, but the goof is woven correctly into the movie's fabric and the result is nothing but fun.

Pictured:  Nothing but fun.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park

1978  *****

Alright Ladies and Gents, I saw exactly one movie for Horrorthon this year and it was far and away the best Horrorthon movie I have seen in all of 2015. In fact, while I expect you to tease me mercilessly for my biddyness this year, I at least want support or a shout out from JSP for this one.

On to the review:

The soundtrack was superb and the nostalgia factor beyond belief!  
I was in a constant state of deja vu throughout the entire viewing. Now, I have no concrete evidence of, nor any solid recollection of ever seeing Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park before, but I swear every scene seemed absolutely and completely familiar.

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (which I have shamefully had to correct the title of twice now having accidentally typed Kiss Meets the Phantom Menace) deserves all the stars in the world.

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park is a magical Kisstastical romp through Magic Mountain.
proof of Magic Mountain being romped through
Abner Devereux, creator and caretaker of the the park rides and associated automatons and animatronics (ah alliteration) goes mad when Kiss gets more attention than Abner’s creations. He gets a wee bit competitive with Kiss (my theory is that Abner must have some inferiority complex related to Gene's Demon's tongue, but I digress) and goes pure evil causing mysterious disappearances and ride malfunctions. Our Rock and Roll heroes have to fight the villainous Abner via his creations including the all out brawl with their bad selves (animated alter-Kiss) on stage during their sold out concert. Did I just ruin the unpredictable surprise ending? I’m sorry. How ‘bout I try to make it up to you with the following pic?

yup - that shits for real yo!

'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice' trailer#2!

Star Wars: The Holiday Special Awakens - Mashup Trailer

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


Can you find the cat in this picture?

Hey there, peeps!  Full disclosure, I still have three reviews to write. AND, they're movies I watched for 2014 and then AGAIN this year because I really wanted to write about them.  They're sort of connected.  So if nobody minds I'm going to extend the deadline for reviews through this coming weekend.  If there are any stragglers out there I would encourage you to join me (and some of you might be getting nudgy texts -- how's that for a diabolical threat?)

I'm not following through tonight but I hope to have something up late tomorrow (probably Thursday morning for most of you.)  Meanwhile, enjoy this weird vintage commercial.

(Wednesday night edit:  I changed this to the uncensored version.)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Babadook

2014  ****1/2

In the tradition of hopping on bandwagons that have long since toodled past, I offer you this year's It Movie of Horrorthon 2015... for the first, oh, half of October?  Before it was eclipsed by We Are Still Here and a few other standouts, I mean.  

This movie rang true for me because in certain offhand ways Samuel's behavior echoes behavior I've seen in my own son, and his mom Amelia's reactions were instantly believable on some deep, complicated levels.  Just in terms of the acting, this is an astounding film.  I'm specifically thinking of a moment when we see her face as she's driving, and Sam's in the back seat trying to get her attention, and she's not answering right away because she just needs to zone out for a moment, and he WILL NOT STOP until she says something.  I'm sure any parent or anyone who's been in a car with a kid can relate to what I'm talking about.  (The thing is, when you're a kid, why would you stop?  Kids don't take hints, they just keep asking for what they want, especially if the response is silence.)

Things get tense for this little family when Samuel is booted out of school for bringing in a dart gun, the one he's going to use on the monster he can't stop talking about.  And into this desperate, exhausted atmosphere comes the awful Babadook.

(An aside here as I mention that I've always thought this word should be ba-Da-Book, just in terms of my own sense of lingual rhythm and the lingering echo of the words "Big badda boom" from The Fifth Element.  Then I realized this movie was Australian and my misinformed bias went away immediately.  Because "babadook" is completely acceptable from the land that gave us the wombat, the wobbegong and the didgeridoo.)

A supernatural force that gains its foothold in our world through an evil pop-up book is just so damn good I can't figure out why it hasn't happened already, and the first scene in which it appears plays out beautifully.  There's something so raw and basic in Sam's anxious query "What happens?  Does he hurt the boy?"  (because for a kid, the fate of a boy in a picture book is every bit as important as one's own.)  The situation is not brought under control at all, and another of my favorite scenes happens as Amelia uselessly reads a different book, projecting her voice in a vain attempt to penetrate Sam's loud, inconsolable sobs.

The mounting threat of the Babadook is deftly tied together with Amelia's unraveling mental state.  She's been a widow since the night of Sam's birth and she is at a crisis point in dealing with the body slam life has hit her with, the combination of six years of grief and crippling fatigue.  Driving this to a fever pitch is the top-hatted, raggedy clawed shadow man that flits around in the dark corners of her room at night, being generally horrible.  The idea of the Babadook as a manifestation of Amelia's dire state is good as both theme and plot device, and as things proceed she comes to fear asking for help lest other people see how crazy she seems.

When I hear a parent express guilt that they snapped at their kid, I like to say that families are organizations connected and fueled by emotions, and that means they can't always promise a smooth ride.  The Babadook does an exquisite job of exploring both the dark and light sides of that ride, with believable, likeable characters and a admirably creepy monster.  I dug the ending, too.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey gang!  I hope you're reading this in a food coma, or on your way to a food coma.  Come next week I'll announce various Horrorthon notices and accolades, and over the next few days I hope to get my last few reviews in.  I know there are some outstanding reviews out there (you know who you are), and it would be a groovy thing to see even one from you cats.  In the words of Horrible Disembodied Voice, join us!

Here's my thought for Thanksgiving.  I was looking at a set of Thanksgiving-themed stickers they were tossing around at the work potluck, and they were little autumny leaves and plants.  And I said "Man, for Halloween it's all skulls and ghosts and jack-o-lanterns and for Christmas it's all lights and decorated trees and Santa magic, and for Thanksgiving it's a bunch of stuff you found on the ground."

Discuss!  And have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Harrison Ford And Chewbacca Reconcile After Years Of Animosity

The Beyond

1981 **1/2

Greetings! I'm so happy to see Johnny back in print, as I myself am struggling back into relevance (I unfortunately didn't have time to burn out on Horrorthon this year, but it's because I had lots of work, which is good in its way). But I'm excited for some time off to round out the month right, and then we'll dole out some trophies!

Before I tucked into Lucio Fulci's The Beyond I had the good sense to check the Monster List and then I had the good fortune to read Johnny Sweatpants's review, from which the following quote was very useful:

"Fulci claimed to be paying homage to Surrealist French playwright Antonin Artaud and fans praise The Beyond’s dreamlike quality. My personal theory is that he couldn’t be arsed into constructing a decent plot and instead focused solely on the flesh eating tarantulas, the popping eyeballs, the acid burns and the exploding heads. Not that I’m complaining."

What you see there is a key piece of production info I definitely wouldn't have found out about on my own, and some good advice about how to approach the situation. I did not, therefore, become woefully irate when the hero repeats the following actions no less than four times during the climax:

1) Enter room with no visible escape, turn to use revolver on approaching walking dead
2) Shoot member of walking dead in the torso
3) Shoot same member of walking dead in the torso
4) Shoot same member of walking dead in the torso again
5) Shoot same member of walking dead in the head
6) Watch walking dead person fall to the floor (and here's the tricky part...)
7) Learn NOTHING from the event, exit room through door hitherto not shown to the audience, and go back to step 1)

The film starts out promisingly enough, with a young woman named Liza who has inherited an old hotel in New Orleans that she intends to renovate and run. But she doesn't check the basement for Pee Wee's bike and goddammit if there isn't one of those gates to Hell down there.

For me the turning point came when Joe the plumber, the poor scrub who was hired to unknowingly open the gate to Hell, returned to the hotel in walking dead form to get revenge on Martha the hotel maid who hired him. I was sure Martha was in cahoots with the Hellish forces because of various clues but then a Hell-murdered and Hell-resurrected Joe comes back and gets her. And here I thought they'd be on the same side. Is Hell really disorganized?

I think Mr. Fulci just never tires of the surprise of betrayal, and so there's a tendency among characters you thought you could count on to suddenly turn evil. Plus there's a mystical painting, a weird book of incantations, a mysterious blind girl who's offering advice, and instead of converging all these elements kind of fan out from each other, leading to a not unpleasant sort of nothing.

I wonder if someone without a Horrorthon to turn to would find this movie unwatchable and stupid, but I got something out of it. More horror atmosphere in the Italian mode, and a tolerance for the right kind of plotlessness.  I can't really rate it any higher, but I can recommend it for those who know what they're getting into.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Starry Eyes


I hit the Horrorthon wall a few weeks ago but now I intend to squeak out a few more reviews (including all of the Saw flicks!) before month end.

Starry Eyes takes the premise of an actress willing to do anything to make it in Hollywood and uses it as a launching pad for a gruesome horror movie that packs quite the wallop. The protagonist Sarah is the only true likable character in the film so watching her inevitable fall from grace is saddening. Her “friends” are either hostile, jealous or indifferent to her career goals.

Sarah’s first audition for a breakout role begins disastrously and she reacts by yanking her hair out in the bathroom. One of the casting directors sees this and gives her another chance – if she agrees to pull more of her hair out in a second audition. By doing so she is granted the rare opportunity to meet a famous producer that can make all of her dreams come true as long as she submits fully to his vision. At first she rejects the old perv’s offer but after some soul searching she finds herself wooed by his BS Ayn Rand talk about living in a world of doers who act on their ambition. Suffice it to say Sarah chooses to sell her soul with predictably morbid results. Thanks for the recommendation Catfreeek! This was a fun one to watch at the end of a long month.

Box Office

From ew, The saga of Katniss Everdeen came to a close this weekend as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 opened to an estimated $101 million.

That’s the lowest debut of any of the Hunger Gamesmovies and under initial predictions of $120 million. When the big-screen depiction of Suzanne Collins’ Panem debuted in March 2012, it brought in $152.5 million, the biggest opening ever for a movie with a female lead. The next year, Catching Fire beat its record and stretched to $158.1 million. Last year’sMockingjay – Part 1 saw a slight dip, opening to $121.9 million, and early predictions had Part 2 debuting close to that. 

While Mockingjay didn’t manage to soar as high as the earlier installments, the $160 million film still notched the fifth-biggest debut of the year, making it one of only five films to debut above $100 million. And although Mockingjay 2 wasn’t as critically adored as the first two films, it earned an A- CinemaScore. Globally, it reeled in $247 million, and even though Mockingjay couldn’t catch Catching Fire’s box office records, it bumped up the franchise’s worldwide total to a staggering $2.55 billion.

As far as films not set in Panem go, holdovers and newcomers alike fell to Katniss’ arrow, as no other movie in theaters managed to crack $15 million. The Christmas-themed comedy The Night Before, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie, and Seth Rogen, hauled in $10.1 million. Thanks to positive word-of-mouth (it earned an A- CinemaScore) and a lack of other R-rated comedies, it could hold up well over the next few weeks.

The weekend’s final new wide release, the crime thriller Secret In Their Eyes, rounded out the top five with $6.6 million. With a star-studded cast including Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Secret In Their Eyes earned a B- CinemaScore.

Spectre and The Peanuts Movie held second and third place, as 007 brought in $14.6 million and Charlie Brown made $12.8 million.Spectre’s domestic total is now at $153.7 million, while The Peanuts Movie has made $98.9 million.

At the specialty box office, the Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara-starring Carol had a standout debut, opening to $248,149 in only four theaters for a strong start of $62,037 per location. The gangster drama Legend, starring Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy, also debuted in four locations, earning $82,884 for an average just over $20,000.

Spotlight, another limited release, also had a strong weekend as it expanded to just shy of 600 locations, bringing in an estimated $3.6 million. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams, the drama finally moved into the top 10, and after three weekends, its domestic total is now at $5.9 million.

Overall, box office receipts were down about 11 percent from last year, when the first Mockingjay opened. Here are this weekend’s top five at the box office:

1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 — $101 million
2. Spectre — $14.6 million
3. The Peanuts Movie — $12.8 million
4. The Night Before — $10.1 million
5. Secret In Their Eyes — $6.6 million

See the Star Wars Cantina bar come to life for a fan convention

From ew, For the Love of The Force, a Manchester, England-based fan convention, transformed an exhibition center in Trafford Park into various locations from the Star Wars films, including the Ewok village and Yoda’s swamp in Dagobah. But the festivities wouldn’t be complete without the famous Cantina bar.

A statement on the For the Love of The Force website reads, “We have recreated this famous cantina in all its glory, with all the cantina creatures and band. We will be serving blue milk cocktails and alcohol on the day with live music. Photo opportunity of a lifetime with a dead Greedo in a booth, as you take up Han Solo’s seat and blaster.”

Thank you to all that visited the Cantina bar yesterday for a pint of Blue Milk….great costumes and great people…..all there for one thing…..the love of Star Wars.

Posted by For the Love of the Force - An Independent Star Wars Fan Conventionon Friday, November 20, 2015

The bar also features a number of alcoholic and non-alcholic “Cantina Cocktails,” including the vodka-based Wookie Juice and Bantha Milk.

The Cantina cocktail bar menu……..other cocktails will be added, these are just the vodka based onesNone alcoholic, and other alcoholic drinks will also be served in the Cantina

Posted by For the Love of the Force - An Independent Star Wars Fan Conventionon Saturday, November 21, 2015

Last week, 250 guests were invited to check out the space, which will host a number of events leading up to and through the convention. Andy Kleek, the convention’s managing director, told the Manchester Evening Star that he hopes it’ll remain a permanent fixture that could even serve as a full cocktail bar — with proper demand, of course.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wish You Were Here

(2013) **1/2

Pregnant Alice and her husband Dave are badgered into taking a Cambodian vacation with Alice’s sister Steph and Steph’s new boyfriend Jeremy. After a night of clubbing, drugs, and booze Jeremy goes missing. The trio agree to remain tight-lipped about Jeremy’s disappearance because they do not wish to deal with Cambodian law enforcement and they assume that Jeremy will eventually turn up. He does not. Returning to Australia, the trio attempt to resume their lives despite inquiries from federal officers. Through flashbacks we learn more about the days leading up to Jeremy’s disappearance.

‘Wish You Were Here’ begins with a mildly interesting premise but is ultimately glacially paced with little payoff. The characters are not particularly sympathetic as we learn their “secrets” via flashbacks and by time Jeremy’s disappearance is explained you will not really care anymore.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

John Dies at the End

2012  ****

I'll just go ahead and say it:  Jon Dies at the End is Don Coscarelli's best film besides the original Phantasm.  If you have a minute and forty seconds check out the opening scene above and you'll get the gist of why.

I feel like I would have been happy to see a lot more movies written and directed by Mr. Coscarelli over the years than we have, because his particular brand of horror/comedy is distinct and exciting.  But I don't think he made enough movies to really develop himself as an artist (and maybe he didn't want to, for all I know).  Bubba Ho-tep was cute but disappointing, and as much as I adore the Phantasm series there are some parts where the cheese is spread a little too thin.  It may be that the one-two punch, gleefully  economic narrative style I'm always gushing over when reviewing Phantasm movies comes with its own limitations.  If so, this movie may be the solution.

John Dies at the End started its life as a novel written by writer David Wong, and watching the movie made me wish Coscarelli had filmed more adaptations in his career.  I feel like bringing another voice to the mix was exactly what he needed; the alchemy of story and style here is just right.

After the moment above (the swastika-tongued man not appearing again), we join David in a Chinese restaurant where he meets a reporter named Arnie, (played by Paul Giamatti, and played perfectly, because of course, it's Paul Giamatti).  Arnie has heard rumors about David and his friend John, as the pair have spent the past few years in the role of slacker ghostbusters, protecting the people in their town from assorted strange goings-on.  David decides to tell Arnie his and John's origin story, which chronicles the forces that shaped their new careers, which are, not coincidentally, the same forces to blame for the assorted strange goings-on.

The unusual events center around a substance called soy sauce, introduced as a mind-bending recreational drug.  David first hears of it when he gets a call from John in the middle of the night, he goes over to find his strung-out friend freaking out on soy sauce.  David, in no mood for bullshit, is driving John to the ER when John gripes about how many phone calls he had to make before David came over, and how weird David was on the phone.  When David says he came over after the first call, John slaps his forehead and apologizes in advance, saying he must have been calling David several times at various points in the future, and David is honked off by this.

Until it starts happening at weird times, like while he's sitting across from John at a diner booth, or after he's heard that John is dead. This is the kind of thing that can happen when you're on the sauce.

I'm not going into further detail because that should be enough to give you the flavor.  In the troubled subgenre Horror/Comedy there is an array of forms, and this is one of my favorite, where it's not about the yuk-yuks as much as it's about a loose and energetic mood.  In a context like that it's not hard to create likable characters with a few short strokes, or enjoy real gore and scares while admittedly avoiding bonafide horror movie dread.

I should note that there are a few sub par special effects (which are kind of cute), and I will cop to being occasionally confused by various plot points the first time I saw it -- which wasn't this time, and I'm happy to report it's quite strong on a second viewing.  Maybe even stronger.  I highly recommend this, but I don't recommend watching it in the "as I'm falling asleep" time slot.  It might bungle your noodle.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Catfreeek's Best Of 2015

 As 2015 Horrorthon came to a close I thought about how far I'd come in the progression of things. I have honed myself down from a virtual horror watching machine to a much more selective and satisfied connoisseur of scary stuff. The best of tradition has been falling off the blog the last couple of years and I am hoping to revive it, so here is my list.

Favorite/Scariest film hands down goes to We Are Still Here.

 Best movie monster goes to Grabbers mostly because it was a cool monster but also because I didn't watch many monster movies this year.

Scream Queen has got to be Traci Lords in Crazy Eights.

 Scream Stud goes to Tom Hiddleston in Crimson Peak, he was so charming.

 Hidden Gem goes to The House at the End of Time.

 Most Disturbing is tied for me by two sets of twins, Niles & Holland in The Other and Lukas & Elias in Goodnight, Mommie.

 Worst by and far was Crazy Bitches.

Best So Bad It's Good goes to Evil Brain from Outer Space

 Goriest just had to be The Green Inferno

 Most Memorable Death goes to Exhibit A which reminds us that it takes a lot longer to actually kill a person then is usually projected in film.

Most Avoidable Death goes to The Houses October Built, just delete the fucking tape and we will go away, duh!

That concludes my 2015 Horrorthon experience, Happy Hauntings everyone!