• 12 Days of Tinsel and Holly

    It’s that time of year again. Break out the nog, fire up the yule log, and try not to be naughty or you’ll get a big nugget of “coal” in your stocking.

    This year, a new tradition of Christmas movie reviews begins. For the first go round, you’ll get some of the most beloved Christmas movie classics, but subsequent years will start to showcase the stinkers.

    Here is this year’s expertly curated list:

    1. The Snowman (1982)
    2. The Santa Clause (1994)
    3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
    4. Scrooged (1988)
    5. Jingle All The Way (1996)
    6. Elf (2003)
    7. Home Alone (1990)
    8. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
    9. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
    10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
    11. Die Hard (1988)
    12. A Christmas Story (1983)

    Starting on the 14th and finishing on the 25th, you will get 12 days of fun and excitement. So, without further ado…


  • Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

    There’s a reason I was putting off reviewing this one. It’s a real stinker.

    Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode for the first 10 minutes before Michael kills her. Then we’re on to the next part where a group of college students (a.k.a. fresh meat) are going on a reality TV adventure on Halloween. They are told they will be spending a night in Michael Myers rundown childhood home and the whole thing will stream live on the internets (because it’s 2002).

    Things start out with everyone having a great time and oh, how spooky the house is. Then Michael shows up and jump scare after boring murder later, the movie ends suddenly and I am thankful for that.

    The characters are so completely hollow that you are just waiting for them to get slaughtered. The premise is ridiculous even for 2002, complete with some of the most laughable tech I’ve ever seen. They spend 5 minutes showing off all the camera gadgets like they are the most amazing inventions they have ever seen.

    There aren’t many good Halloween sequels and this one is at the bottom of the list. You can probably take a shit that is more entertaining.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Max Go


  • Triangle (2009)

    This is one of those movies that starts simple, becomes mysterious, then rapidly moves into WTF territory. The more you peel back the layers, the more interesting it gets. It seemed like the marketing made it out to be a slasher flick on a boat, but it’s not at all that.

    The premise involves a girl named Jess (Melissa George) who goes on a boating trip with some friends. After a bad storm, their boat capsizes and they are hopelessly adrift when a massive cruise ship passes by close enough for them to hop aboard. They quickly find that the cruise ship is deserted and then the fun begins.

    Without giving too much away, the story goes off the deep end as Jess discovers things are not what they appear on the ship as a sense of deja vu washes over her. The further you get into the meat and potatoes of the movie, the more invested you become. When it’s over, you kind of want to do it all over again.

    The depth in the acting is not apparent at first, but is definitely there. I can’t say it is the most horrific or suspenseful, but everything else makes up for it.

    Rating:

    Available to stream from Amazon Prime


  • The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

    The Strangers are back, but this time, there is no Liv Tyler. Instead we get a family of four who head to a relative’s trailer park for a little R and R. Little do they know. they are about to have a very bad night.

    Things get real creepy fast as the two kids go for a night walk to clear their heads and discover their murdered aunt and uncle. Things continue to spiral out after the family slowly realizes they a being stalked by psychopaths.

    Once the craziness begins, it is relentless, but the family members keep making stupid decisions like splitting up whenever possible and not shooting an attacker when they clearly intend to murder you.

    Then you got the overused slow zoom effect, which would have been great in moderation. The first movie made much better use of subtle scares and atmosphere. This movie was much more in your face.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

    One, two, Freddy’s coming for you… in this remake of the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

    Some teenagers start having nightmares that feel too real, where they are being stalked by a creeper with knife fingers. When several start dying gruesome deaths, two of the kids dig up some painful history to learn the knifey burn victim is Freddy Krueger, a pedophile gardener at the preschool they used to attend who was burned to death by their parents.

    While the original 1984 movie was very enjoyable, I can see how there might be some urge to update to a more modern look and feel. This is a mistake, because they need to do more than just poop out better visuals. Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddy in a manner consistent with Robert Englund’s menacing playfulness, but more gritty and less playful.

    The problem is that the suspense feels forced and the cast of youthful teenagers just aren’t that memorable or worthy of our compassion. The plot relies too heavily on filling in the backstory about Freddy’s disgusting child molesting tendencies. Knowing about that makes me cringe a little and gag a lot, but I can’t say it improves the whole movie-watching experience.

    Rating:

    Available for rental from these places


  • Fright Night (2011)

    This remake of the 1985 classic vampire movie of the same name has some interesting updates and delicious performances. It’s a little bit smart, a smidgen witty, and mostly fun.

    Anton Yelchin plays Charley Brewster a high school kid who is man enough to wear puce-colored designer sneakers. He lives with his single mother Toni Collette in a suburban community outside Las Vegas.

    After several kids go missing, he starts to suspect his next door neighbor is a vampire and things escalate when he starts to get a little too nosy. He then enlists the help of a magician who supposedly has experience dealing with the undead.

    I really liked the first half, but it kind of lost steam toward the end of the second act. The suspense, acting, gore, and music all made for an atmospheric horror adventure. Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin both gave dynamic life to their characters. While it is not the best horror movie, it still ends up being better than original.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on SYFY


  • Troll 2 (1990)

    This is a movie like no other. It’s a sequel with virtually nothing to do with the first one other that people turning into plants. There are no trolls, only goblins. The acting is some of the worst I’ve ever seen, or maybe it’s just the dialog the actors have been given. Nothing really makes any sense.

    As the story begins, we find a family of four getting ready for a vacation to a small town called Nilbog. The young boy sees his dead grandfather, who gives him the warning that they should not go to Nilbog. No matter what the boy does, the family vacation must go on and they make their way to their rental house. Turns out there is some evil witch lady who needs to feed her goblin children humans who have turned into plants. Will the family be able to survive the little goblin creatures with bad makeup who can barely even fight but sometimes accurately throw spears?

    It’s so bizarre, and a constant roller coaster of WTF moments. At one point, it felt like I was watching a metaphor for vegetarianism vs. meat consumption. The intention was for the movie to be a suspenseful horror film. The end result is so comically absurd that it has earned the nickname “Best Worst Movie“.

    If you have never seen it, you should. It’s so bad, it’s good.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Jigsaw (2017)

    They need to stop making these movies. Seriously. It’s the same crap over and over.

    The murder games start up again and everyone thinks dead Jigsaw/John Kramer is behind it. Due to some clever jumping around in time it is revealed that the true killer is a copycat of Jigsaw attempting to recreate the first death games that were never discovered by the police.

    I love how the current game takes place on the farm of John Kramer’s wife where the first game was played 10 years prior with the devices and body remains never discovered. Talk about inept detectives never going to search all locations associated with a serial killer. Luckily, the forensic investigator put together that a swine virus found on one of the current victims had also been found on the wife’s farm.

    They try to be clever with twists and misdirection, but it ends up opening up gaping plotholes.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Hulu and Amazon Prime


  • A Quiet Place (2018)

    The Office’s John Krasinski co-writes, directs, and stars in this fascinating horror tale with a unique twist. It’s a post apocalyptic Swiss Family Robinson tale with blind monsters that track the slightest sound.

    Krasinski and Emily Blunt play the mother and father of 3 children. They live on a farm and use sign language to communicate. One of the children is deaf, which explains the sign language, and creates some interesting scenarios as she is at a disadvantage not knowing how much noise she is making.

    Much of the movie is seeing the family deal with the established rules of their new reality. There are some serious problems, though, like why would you have a baby in that environment? Not only is it a rough existence with no health care and scraping to get by, but a baby makes so much noise. That thing will be shredded by the monsters in no time.

    I really liked the tense situations and the emotional impact of the character connections. Much of the movie is very much about parenting and trying to keep your kids alive, which I can respect.

    Rating:

    Only available for rental from these locations


  • The First Purge (2018)

    In this prequel to the Purge series, a new governing body, known as the New Founding Fathers of America, decides hold an experimental 12-hour “purge” period on Staten Island. Due to growing unrest fueled by crime and economic crises, it is determined that society needs this “anything goes” experiment to act as a catharsis for the chaos gripping the nation.

    The story opens with the NFFA actively recruiting residents of Staten Island to be paid to stay on the island and/or be actively involved in the purge to make money off killing others. There are three main characters, a drug kingpin named Dmitri (Y’lan Noel), an activist named Nya (Lex Scott Davis), and her brother Isaiah (Joivan Wade). Each decides to stay on Staten Island during the inaugural purge for various reasons. Isaiah is particularly interesting because he stays to go after this addict who tried to slice him up before the purge began, but the only problem is that Isaiah is not a killer at heart.

    The Purge starts and the killing begins, but not nearly enough for the NFFA mastermind. It is revealed that mercenaries posing as a multitude of gangs show up on Staten Island for the sole purpose of making the First Purge a success.

    It was about as entertaining as the last one, but I kind of feel like they need to move in a different direction with this series. Rather than go back and show how it all began, show the aftermath of how it all ends. Or maybe in the next one, they could do like an Escape from New York type of thing where they decide to restrict access to Staten Island and make it a permanent Purge zone. Maybe even set up Purge zones around the country. Poor people would be forced to live there and then rich people could go hunt them. Why don’t I get paid to write this stuff?

    Rating:

    Available for streaming rental only