Reviews of Movies, Books, & More – Updated 3/15

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This section is dedicated to my personal reviews of movies, books, podcasts, and television programs.

Not everything is from the horror/suspense genre.

Take a look! 🙂


My Rating Scale:

1 Scary Head out of 10 – Complete and Utter Nonsense. Waste of time.

2 Scary Heads out of 10 – Bad. Pure and simple.

3 Scary Heads out of 10 – There’s a redeeming quality here, but heck if I could find it.

4 Scary Heads out of 10 – Meh. I won’t revisit this anytime soon. If ever. Fair, at best.

5 Scary Heads out of 10 – It was okay. Average. Not great, not horrible.

6 Scary Heads out of 10 – Pretty good. Would probably recommend to the right audience. Enjoyable, but had issues.

7 Scary Heads out of 10 – I liked it. It was solid. I would recommend to the right audience.

8 Scary Heads out of 10 – Really liked it. Made an impression. Something I won’t soon forget. I would recommend to most people.

9 Scary Heads out of 10 – Wow! Incredible. I want to experience this over and over. I would recommend to strangers on the street, even if they run away screaming.

10 Scary Heads out of 10 – OMG. The Best. Not only will I recommend this to every single person I come in contact with, but I will probably gush about it openly for the next two weeks on social media.



Movie Review – Nerve (2016)

I’ve never  been a millennial. I didn’t grow up with and around computers. Texting/instagram/whatever else is the app of the day is, is not common knowledge to me. However, I’m quite aware that technology can be all-encompassing with large swaths of today’s youth. And in this vein, I found Nerve to be a novel take from the usual “teen horror” movie tropes of the past.

Nerve throws us right into the action. There’s an online game/app called “Nerve” that’s basically an extreme version of Truth or Dare (but without the truth part). If you partake, you are either a Watcher or a Player. The Watchers determine what the player’s dare will be, how long they have to do it, and how much money they will receive if the dare is completed. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but the dares get more “intense” as the game goes on.

Vee (played by Emma Roberts) and Ian (Dave Franco) are the two main characters we follow as their dares increase, both in danger and monetary gain. There are some twists that we learn later on, but because the characterizations of the entire cast is rather shallow and one-note, we kind of don’t care.

But that’s okay! With a movie like this (as well as Saw, Hostel, etc.), we don’t have to know the backstory of these people. We don’t need to know all the specifics. Little bits of information are dropped in here and there during short exchanges between the characters, and that’s good enough. We understand early on who we are supposed to be rooting for during the hour and thirty-six minute run time. It’s more about the next dare…and if they are willing to do it.

Is this a great movie? Not really. Is the acting amazing? Can’t say it is. But is it a fun ride into the minds of today’s teens and how social media and the need for popularity can be problematic? Sure.


My rating: 6.5 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – The Neighbor (2018)


There are a LOT of movies with some variation of this title, so if you go searching for some information, make sure you’re checking out the correct one.

For this review, I’ll be talking about the one directed by Aaron Harvey and starring William Fichtner from Prison Break fame. If you’re still not sure, this is the movie that received a 4.7 on IMDb, which I found to be pretty accurate, so, yeah…it’s that one.

The plot is pretty simple and follows a general LifeTime Channel excursion for all the characters involved. A new young couple move into a house which is right next door to an older (50-somethings) couple with a college-aged son. The young wife doesn’t work and spends a lot of time at home playing in and around the pool, wearing the shortest of shorts, and making eyes at Mike (the character played by William F.).

Mike, supposedly in the throes of a mid-life crisis, starts to fantasize about his new neighbor at the same time taking a harsh dislike to her husband (who is, truthfully, a bit of a tool and an blow-hard).

I don’t think it’s tough to see where all this is heading…but, the problem is, it doesn’t. It doesn’t go there. Instead, Mike’s wife (the only one who appears to have a real job in this film) kicks him out of the house based solely on his “apparent interest” in the neighbor.

But nothing happened!

Ug. Okay, I won’t “spoil” it for those who want to see this. If you want to sit through an hour and forty five minute “thriller” – and I am using that term loosely here – then by all means, do so.

I will warn you though. There’s a LOT of screen time spent on Mike looking pensive, thinking with a furrowed brow, thinking withOUT a furrowed brow, peeking out windows, staring into space, etc. For a guy who is supposedly going through a crisis, there’s not a great deal of drama and theatrics.

The final minutes are pretty much the only reason I’m giving it this high of a rating. Your mileage may vary.


My rating: 4 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – All the Way (2016)


Politics is not my bag. Now, before any judgements are passed, I do have my personal opinions on various matters and if pressed, I would say that I’m an independent. However, I believe pretty strongly in certain things. For example, I believe that all people should have the right to vote, to get a job (if they are qualified), to eat wherever they want, etc.

That being said, this movie presents a time when it these rights were not accepted by the majority. Apparently, there were laws preventing such things – which still baffles me, but okay – it’s history.

All the Way follows LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson) as he takes over after JFK (John Kennedy) was shot in 1963. He moves from Vice President to President (and ultimately wins the next year’s election) at a very tumultuous time in our country’s history. Civil rights, riots, the inklings of the Viet Nam War – everything seemed to fall at his feet at the same time.

Bryan Cranston takes the lead role and runs with it. He’s a great actor and slipped into this “character” like it was an easy transition. (I imagine it wasn’t!) I personally wasn’t around during the actual LBJ days but I’m assuming that he did the man justice.

The film comes in at just over two hours, but for me, the time flew by. I was never bored and it never felt I was sitting through a classroom history lesson. I guess if you actually lived through this time period as an adult, you might be able to catch some ‘goofs’ or places where the movie took liberties with what really happened. But, from where I was coming from, I had no problems with any part of it. It made me want to know more.


My rating: 9 scary heads out of 10



Movie Review – Good Time (2017)


I spent a few hours trying to come up with the name of that contraption that I thought would be the perfect analogy for this movie. Rube Goldberg. That’s it. He was a cartoonist who drew complicated ‘mechanical-type’ devices that end up doing the most mundane or routine things.

By Rube Goldberg – Originally published in Collier’s, September 26 1931, Public Domain,


While that’s a bit of cool trivia, what in the world does this have to do with the movie? Well, that’s where it all comes together. The film follows two brothers (Connie and Nick, played by Robert Pattinson and Benny Safdie) who, in an attempt to rob a bank, end up botching the whole thing. Nick ends up in prison and then soon after, the hospital, and Connie spends much of the running time trying to get his brother out from said places.

The hour and forty-one minutes goes by at a decent clip. While none of the characters are very likable (and this includes the supporting ones as well), the scenes move along which keeps the energy and pacing at an engaging level.

The most annoying thing about the plot comes right at the beginning. Nick, who has some kind of disorder (we aren’t really sure what his official diagnosis is), is shown in a therapist’s office, possibly going through a significant breakthrough. Just as the doctor (?) is about to delve further into his patient’s emotional turmoil, Connie (the brother) busts through the door and drags him away, telling him he doesn’t need to be there.

It made me pretty angry. The only reason for Connie’s obnoxious behavior was out of pure selfishness. He wanted his brother’s help in robbing the bank so they could leave the area. We are supposed to feel compassion for them, brothers wanting to stick together beyond all odds, but the only sense of compassion I felt was toward Nick. Connie, aptly named, was a conman from the get go.

If you like crime, gritty stories, and a bit of comeuppance, you’ll like this one.


My rating: 7 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – The Mountain Between Us (2017)


This hour and fifty-two minute film is pegged as an action/adventure/drama, but I have serious reservations with those labels. To make matters worse, Idris Elba and Kate Winslet (the two main stars), two credible actors in their own rights, have to carry this cringe-worthy script to its predictable and pathetic climax. Needless to say, I wasn’t amused.

The story is one we’ve seen a thousand times before – two people who are characteristically opposites find true love by managing to survive through a disaster together. It’s fine if it’s done well. Sadly (or in this case, comically), it is not.

After a small chartered plane crashes in the mountains, we are left with Ben (a surgeon from London), Alex (a photographer/journalist), and an adorable dog (named Dog – don’t get me started), for most of the running time. We are supposed to feel their anguish, their fear, and their pain as they trek through the treacherous landscape in order to find humanity again, yet the only things I felt were disbelief that someone, somewhere, let this script be made into a movie that cost 35 million dollars.

Their affect was flat. The dialogue bordered on comical – a far cry from the fear and trepidation they were supposed to be feeling. I didn’t sense one bit of chemistry between these two, even after they supposedly ‘fell in love’.

And the pivotal sex scene? No – just…no. Painful to watch and impossible to believe. I actually yelled “stop it!” at the screen and scared one of my cats from the couch.

Not for one moment did I believe the tension or feel that they were in any real kind of danger. The characters themselves made light of pretty much every situation that they found themselves in. The whole thing was a mess from the beginning, which is really too bad because it could have been a decent movie if others had directed/written it with a more believable hand.


My rating: 2 scary heads out of 10


Podcast Review – Stuff You Should Know

Charles (Chuck) Bryant and Josh Clark are co-hosts of a long-running podcast with said title. The show is under the umbrella of How Stuff Works, the mega-hit entity which houses 16 other educational/entertainment podcasts. In the case of SYSK, the guys do a twice-a-week drop of new episodes from topics ranging from animals to politics to mysteries from the 1920s, and so much more.

The shows run anywhere from 30 minutes to almost an hour with a few “ad” breaks (like most podcasts do nowadays), but the time just flies. These two guys have been together for almost the entire run of the show, which was at 1,045 episodes as of November, 2017.  The podcast began in 2008 with Josh and another writer from How Stuff Works. Chuck came along soon after and they’ve never looked back.

It’s informative and hilarious at the same time. Both Josh and Chuck started as staff writers at How Stuff Works and now, from what I can surmise, they are “podcasters proper”. They tour throughout the U.S. (going in May to see them!) and have done international trips as well.

Below is the link to the Wiki episode guide. It doesn’t matter where you begin. Start now and work your way backwards or begin with show #1. They’re funny. They’re great. You’ll learn stuff.

My rating: 10 scary heads out of 10



Book Review – Horror Show by Greg Kihn (1996)



I was lucky (?) enough to have started college in August 1982, which was one year after MTV launched. (Yes, that makes me 53 for all you math wizards). I mention this because it was MTV was the catalyst for much of my knowledge regarding 80s music.

And if you were around in the 1980s and were into pop music of the day, you might be familiar with a man named Greg Kihn. He was the front man (and name sake) for a band that had been around since 1976. (The Greg Kihn Band)

Although I preferred the 50s and 60s, the music scene of the 1980s was heavily influenced by the video culture and visa-versa. And, generally speaking, the college years tend to be tightly wrapped into the music-of-the-day’s bed sheets. You couldn’t get away from it, even if you wanted to – Prince, Madonna, Robert Palmer, Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis, and Men at Work (just to name a few) – were EVERYWHERE.

So, what’s Mr. Kihn have to do with this? I mean, he had a couple of stand out hits during the early 80s  like Jeopardy and The Break-Up Song (also known as They Don’t Write Them Like That Anymore), but what does that have to do with writing, let alone horror?

Maybe you already know. But I was shocked to find out that not only is this 68 year old guy a musician and radio personality, but he is a writer as well.

A HORROR writer.

Naturally, I went to Amazon and ordered his book, Horror Show (1996).

Horror Show, by Greg Kihn, tells the story of Landis Woodley, a B-movie director from the 50s who would do anything in order to make a scary movie – the weirder, the better. When the reader first encounters him, it is in the present day. In order to nab the “real” story about a film-gone-wrong, a young journalist named Clint Stockbern, has come to Landis’s home for an interview with the now-reclusive director.

This sets us up to revert back to the 1950s for much of the rest of the book. We follow Landis and his crew as they crawl their way from B-movie status to B-movie lifestyle and back again. The last few chapters throw us back into present day with some wrap up and answers to questions. (no spoilers)

If you’ve ever watched old bad horror movies from the 50s and 60s, you might appreciate the path that Mr. Kihn has laid out in this 350 page novel. The characters were fairly believable, which was good since we spend a large portion of the time with them. The overall plot was nicely done as well. There was a good build up, so by the time they are making the pinnacle movie (and all that happens during it), I found myself “buying in”.

There are a few subplots which tie in and for the most part, I found them to work well within the confines of the main plot. There are a large number of secondary characters, so if you read it, pay close attention, especially during the first third of the novel.

Having said all that, I have to say that I found the writing itself to be a little…pedestrian? Is that fair? As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think that this was very much someone’s first effort. Now, I am in NO position to PASS JUDGEMENT on someone else’s writing ability. I mean, seriously – I had to pull one of my own books and am re-doing it.

However, I found a good chunk of this book to be repetitive. He mentions the same qualities of his characters over and over and over again. In some of the chapters, I had the distinct feeling that I was reading the same passages twice or three times…because it felt like I was looking at the exact same wording that I had read earlier in the book.

I also didn’t really like any of the characters. I was interested in what happened because the plot made me want to see what the outcome would be. But I never found myself rooting for anyone in particular. While that can be fine (characters certainly don’t have to be likable for me to enjoy a book), I was hoping that I could at least care about one of them. And to be honest…nope. I didn’t. I’m glad I finished it to see what happened, but if there were a sequel to this book with some of the same characters, I don’t think I’d be on board.

Overall, I’m glad I read it. It was interesting to see a rock and roll guy try his hand at writing horror. That alone should make you consider reading it. But, if you’re looking for real horror that will make you keep your lights on and your doors locked, you might want to take a pass on this one.


My rating: 4 Scary Heads out of 10.



Movie Review – Eat My Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (2016)


I’m not a Zappa fan. Having watched this hour and thirty-three minute “docu-bio-in depth” look into his music/performances/interviews, I can say with certainty that I’m still not a fan.

The man might have been talented, smart, witty, and shameless, but most of what I saw come across during the snippets of interviews and clips focused on a person who defined the words presumptuous, arrogant, and egotistical. Now, it’s true – I’m basing my opinions on the movie. I don’t know much more than what was presented, but after hearing what his music consisted of, I think I’m good.

I can’t really judge the movie because it was literally clips stuck together – interviews, performances, talking to a variety of people – so, you can’t really critique someone simply living their life, even if it is on camera. However, his persona (what I am assuming is the  REAL Frank Zappa) came across as pretty abrasive and condescending.

Maybe I am not his “target audience”. That’s fine. I’m sure there are plenty of people who found his work to be incredible (in a good way), but I don’t consider myself in that particular crowd. Your mileage may vary.



My rating: 4 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – Neon Demon (2016)

Linky Here

Art House. Those are the words that will come to my mind whenever anyone mentions this movie to me in the future. Not that it’s a bad thing…necessarily…but in this case, it walks a fine line, sometimes tripping over itself to be daring.

The story follows Jesse, a sixteen year old girl who moves to Los Angeles in order to enter the modeling world. She finds the competition and everyone surrounding it to be rather aggressive. The one young man who comes across as a decent guy gets quickly kicked to the curb.

There really isn’t a likeable person in the entire film (with the exception of Dean, the young man we meet early on). It’s like spending 1 hour and 58 minutes with that one clique from high school who thought they were better than everyone else. Condescension and snobbery are the watchwords of the day here, and while I understand that this is probably LOOSELY based on the real world of modeling, the characters are hateful and spiteful and I found myself rooting for something bad to happen to them.

This is marketed as a horror/thriller, yet to me, it is neither horror nor thriller. There’s a short bit of gore in a final scene, but there really isn’t anything in its run time that would make this appear on a horror lover’s list of must-see films. And as far as categorizing this as a thriller? Aren’t thrillers supposed to be edge-of-your-seat experiences? Or, at the very least, provide some tense moments? Instead, I found this to be a challenge in trying not to look at my phone while the movie was on.

Elle Fanning is Jesse and while she does a good job, it just wasn’t enough. It’s Art House at its best, and a theatrical design/lighting/atmosphere study at its worst. It just wasn’t my bag.


My rating: 4 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – The Graduate (1967)

Linky Here

I don’t exactly remember the first time I saw this film, but I assume that I’ve seen it at least two dozen times so far. To me, this is the perfect movie – the dialogue, the music, the acting – every moment, every nuance, every scene is utter perfection.

The plot is well known by now. Ben, a recent college graduate, has an affair with one of his parent’s friends, yet ends up in love with the friends’ daughter. Say what you will about Dustin Hoffman (and all the accusations that have been recently flying around), but he was absolutely incredible in this role. Mr. Hoffman can be subtle; but his inner turmoil and disillusions with the world around him are not only felt by the audience, but palpably resonate in each scene.

There are brushes of humor, but I don’t see this as a comedy. To me, The Graduate is all drama with perhaps a passing nod to a comic relief moment or two. One of my favorite “funny moments” happens when Ben tells his parents that he plans to marry Elaine (the daughter). Ben’s mom’s (played by Elizabeth Wilson) reaction is priceless. The extreme contrast to Ben’s monotone delivery is fantastic.

And Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson? Well, what can one say? There is no one else who could have done that part justice. No one.

This is a movie where timing is critical. Every line, every mannerism needs to happen in such as way as to convey certain meaning. If someone overplayed a character or lingered too long on a particular line, it wouldn’t have been as effective. William Daniels, Katherine Ross, Buck Henry – everyone went above and beyond.

Having an affair is looked upon as taboo in our society, so having a movie revolve around such behavior might make the two people involved come across as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, or ‘evil’. But both Ben and Mrs. Robinson show AND tell us WHY they chose to engage in this behavior, and it was far from ‘having fun’. It provides us an in-depth look at personal pain, loneliness, desperation, the need for purpose, and escapism.

If you haven’t seen this incredible masterpiece, do it. Now. Don’t wait. Don’t say ‘you’ll get around to it sometime’. Do it now.


My rating: 10 scary heads out of 10



Movie Review – Take Me to the River (2015)

Linky Here

Sometimes, when a movie ends and your left with a vague feeling about what you just witnessed, it doesn’t work. It leaves you with an unfinished and unrequited sense of loss. This movie, however, managed to stay vague in some of what I would consider, the most crucial of details, but somehow, pulls it off.

Logan Miller, Robin Weigert, and Josh Hamilton star in Matt Sobel’s film about a gay teenager from California who goes to a family reunion in Nebraska. It’s very apparent that the Nebraska side of the family is not as open-minded about such things as the LGBTQIA community, and after one of those “vague” moments, emotional walls are put up and thick lines in the sand are drawn.

This is most certainly a character-driven story. We are shown scenes of people staring, thinking, looking at one another – but it’s not boring. In each of these moments, we as the audience aren’t “waiting” for something to happen, but instead, feeling what these characters are going through. Some of the best moments, however, happen when tensions and conflicts are at their highest – when family confronts family – and rest assured, it’s painful and uncomfortable to witness. But  THOSE moments make me forgive some of the “vague subtleties” that happen toward the end of the film.

No spoilers here, as usual, but the last five minutes, “things” are explained. Well, maybe explained is not accurate. Hinted at. Yes, that’s better. Vaguely hinted at. It’s still a solid hour and twenty-four minutes.

My rating: 7.5 scary heads out of 10



Movie Review – The Founder (2016)


I love retro stuff. If you snoop around the blog long enough, you could have probably figured that out for yourself. If not, and you’re just passing through, let me share that very real fact with you – I do love it. I collect old advertising, radios from the 40s and 50s, and even a few “more affordable” clocks from back in the day.

So, when this movie popped onto my radar, I was already on board. It’s the story of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. It begins in 1954, when Ray was a small-time traveling salesman pitching his wares to uninterested restaurant owners and follows him as he meets the two brothers who would eventually change his life (and subsequently, the life of many others).

Michael Keaton stars at the titular character, supported by the likes of Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch, two fantastic actors were really were on their game for this film.

The movie might have taken some liberties with actual events (I can’t speak to that since I haven’t read Ray Kroc’s biography), but from the first scene, I found it mesmerizing. I don’t even eat at McDonald’s (anymore), but it’s an entity that most people in our culture (and beyond) are at least familiar with and it’s certainly a place that I grew up with.

Every shot drips with nostalgia. There’s comedy, tragedy, drama – it really has it all. And I have to assume that at least most events depicted were fairly close (if not spot on) to real life. At the end of the movie, there are photos of the REAL people – Ray Kroc, the McDonald Brothers, etc. That alone is worth watching the hour and fifty-five minute Hollywood take on the most well-known fast food restaurant/industry/entrepreneur in the world.


My rating: 9 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – Miracle on 34th Street (1947)


It’s pretty tough to say anything against a film that’s been a staple for the American viewing audience for 70 years. So, I won’t. This is an incredible movie that, while dated to some degree, still holds up and will probably continue to do so for the next 70 years and beyond.

For a running time of 1 hour and 36 minutes, even repeated viewings tend to fly by. It doesn’t matter if you watch it every year, know every scene, can repeat every line – it’s a delight.

If you are somehow unfamiliar, the premise of the film follows a divorcee, Doris Walker (played by Maureen O’Hara) and her 8-year-old daughter, Susan (played by Natalie Wood). Doris works for Macy’s Department store and is in charge of the annual Christmas parade (among other things). When the man who is supposed to play the pinnacle role is found to be drunk, a “stand-by” Kris Kringle (played by Edmund Gwenn) volunteers to take over. So convincing is he as Santa Claus, the department store hires him to continue the charade through the season. However, when the question arises – is he the REAL Santa Claus or just “a nice old man with whiskers” – everyone begins taking sides.

It’s such a smartly made film, it’s hard to find any problems with it. Sure, there’s a little bit of sexism and ageism. Yes, there’s some ‘old school’ ways of thinking. But for 1947, it actually presents some very forward concepts: A lead character (a woman) who is divorced; a well-adjusted child from a ‘broken home’; a woman who holds a very high level position in a company. These were not your normal 40s tropes.

One year earlier, It’s a Wonderful Life, depicted Mary (Donna Reed, lead, opposite George Bailey played by Jimmy Stewart) as a stay-at-home-wife/mother with four kids – even though she went to college. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s just a different take on two strong women from movies in the 40s.

Anyway – if you haven’t seen this movie – do it. Take time out from your holiday craziness and take a trip back in time to 1947. It will renew your belief in the impossible, the goodness of people, the kindness of strangers, and the hope inside us all.

My rating: 9 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Linky Here

With voices like Louis C.K. (yeah, I know…), Eric Stonestreet, Albert Brooks, and Dana Carvey (just to name a few), this animated feature, coming in at 1 hour and 30 minutes, definitely has some great moments. Is it as clever as say, the first viewing of A Bug’s Life or Despicable Me? Kinda close, but not quite.

The story is simple. As the title implies, the story is supposed to show what (can) happen to pets after pet owners leave for the day. The plot takes the audience through the life of a number of animals (some pets, some not) during a “work shift” of the main dog’s (Max) owner.

For adults, it’s going to be a fairly predictable outcome, which is fine. I knew, of course, going in, that the target audience was kids (probably under the age of 12). But, the commercials looked pretty cute, so I saw it. And you know what? There were some adorable scenes. There were also a couple of funny  laugh-out-loud scenes. There was also quite a bit of violence and “mayhem” for a kid’s movie. And, to be honest, it felt long. And when an animated film for kids feels long (and it’s a first time watch), something is amiss.

There were a number of times when the movie could have “wrapped up nicely”. . . but it kept going. There were also a few times when scenes felt “added in” to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the running time – and that’s never a good sign. I would probably recommend parents run through the film first, because, like I said, there’s some unexpected violence that, for a showing like this, even caught me a little off-guard.

Overall, I’m glad I saw it, but if I hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been a “big miss”.

My rating: 5 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – Fences (2016)

Linky Here

There’s a lot of good things to say regarding a movie such as this one. With stars like Denzel Washington and Viola Davis at the helm, you know you’re in for a quality film. At two hours and nineteen minutes, you also know you’re going to be covering a lot of ground.

The story revolves around an African-American father (Denzel Washington playing the part of Troy Maxson) trying to do his best for his family during the 1950s. He works as a garbage man, but had dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. Unfortunately, when black athletes were “allowed” into the major leagues, he was regarded as too old to play. Because of this, he turned bitter and hard against the world.

Fences was originally written as a play in 1983 by August Wilson. According to the IMDb page, “In 1987, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play.” The five main characters/actors who were in the play, recreated their roles for the film in 2016.

Overall, it’s a solid film. The acting is amazing and the subjects that are covered (racial tensions, being poor, family expectations) are important for all of us, regardless of our own upbringing.

However… my opinion of Fences as a FILM, is probably going to put some folks off. I thought the movie dragged. I found myself checking the clock after the first 90 minutes and I can say that I don’t mind a long movie – if it holds my attention. This didn’t.

It’s a delicate call to make because I know that, especially in our current climate in the states, no one wants to offend anyone else. And believe me, that’s NOT my intention AT ALL. I am only stating how I viewed this work as a MOVIE and not how I feel about the issues that were central to the film’s core.

To me, it was too much like a play. Before seeing this, I didn’t know that it was taken from that format and put to celluloid. That might have changed my perspective if I had known that ahead of time. But, seeing it as I did, I found the movie to be too long, too ‘set in one place’, and too repetitive. Again, that doesn’t speak to the talent and cinematography, but as a movie, I thought it was just “okay”.


My rating: 5.5 scary heads out of 10


TV Show Review – Stranger Things (Season One) (2016)


Am I proud that I binged watched the entire 8 episodes of Stranger Things (Season 1) in two days? Well, I guess it gives me a little street/geek cred, but you know…I could have done a lot worse than to give almost 8 hours to a single show that’s this good.

For the record, I am a Baby Boomer. I’ve had to defend that label to others who, for whatever reason, refuse to believe that being born in 1964 DOES INDEED qualify a person to hold that “credential”. As I have read, Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 — therefore, I am proud to say that, yes, I can claim to be a hippie of sorts.

Why is this important? Because this show (I’m referring to the first season during this review) starts in November 1983. So, for my money, this show’s target audience is probably Gen X (the folks who were born between 1965 and 1976). This group most likely has more coming-of-age/fond memories of the 1980’s than I do, although, since I was alive during this time, I still recognize a large portion of the social cues/music/background/culture that is so prevalent throughout the show.

With that being said, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Stranger Things. So, finally, I saw it. This season’s premise revolves around the town and the people of Hawkins, Indiana. After one of the main characters (a 12-year-old boy) goes missing, the town goes on high alert. At the same time, the Hawkins National Laboratory is suddenly taking center stage. Are the two related? Is there a link, and if so, what is it? Good? Bad? Both?

There’s much to consider. Abductions, paranormal activity, clandestine scientific experiments, parallel universes (the Upside Down), and psychokinetic abilities. While these tropes are weaved in and around the story lines, the audience is also privy to other, more grounded goings-on such as relationships, teen-angst, bullying, divorce, the “nerd/AV club” group of kids — like I said, there’s a LOT going on from the first scene to the last. This isn’t a show that you can really have on in the background while you play with your phone. You have to pay attention because the characters are many and the details are plentiful.

It’s a fast 8 hours – that, I can promise you. The only character/actor I didn’t care for is Wynona Ryder. She’s played in other movies, of course, and I found her to be ‘alright’, but in this show? I find her out of place, annoying, and too young to for the part. She might actually BE the age she’s supposed to be playing, but I just couldn’t get behind it. I found her acting “forced” and “too contrived”. Everyone else was fine – heck, even the kids were great (which is important since they really carry much of the show), but her? Not really. Your opinion may differ, but I’m standing pretty firm on this point.

I’m looking forward to Season Two (which is not currently available on Netflix disc delivery). I’ll probably end up binging it as well, which is no problem. A good show like this is worth it. I won’t spoil anything here, but to me, this show is a strong mix of E.T (1982), Stand By Me (1986), Super 8 (2011), and a dab of X-Files thrown in. Again, not my usual go-to, but it’s solid programming and interesting as heck.

My rating: 7.5 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – Colonia (The Colony) (2015)

Linky Here

After I read this movie’s synopsis, I have to say that I wasn’t expecting to like it. To me, it smacked of “espionage thriller” which probably meant lots of gun play and car chases and a bunch of testoterone-laden bro-types exchanging “snarky quips” — everything that is NOT up my alley.

Boy, was I wrong. And boy, was I glad to be wrong.

This incredible film, coming in at an hour and forty-six minutes, which features Emma Watson, Daniel Bruhl, and Michael Nyqvist, is beyond riveting. It tells the story of an uprising that takes place in Cuba in 1973. A young couple gets caught up in the attempted revolution and through a number of quick and unfortunate mishaps, both of them end up at Colonia Dignidad, a real “Nazi-run” camp/cult that actually existed and was run by lay preacher/cult leader/pedophile, Paul Schafer.

The movie, based on true events, was a little confusing at the start. For the first 10 to 15 minutes, I was bracing myself. I confess not knowing any history about the Pinochet regime and the Chilean military coup of the early 70s, so I felt a little behind the eight ball, so to speak. But, once Daniel (and later, Lena), the two main characters, are inducted into the cult/camp, everything begins to click.

The film is marketed as part romance. Well, I’m going to disagree with that label. While it’s true that the main characters are in a relationship and that thread plays a role throughout the running time, so much of the film relies on other plot points and other important characters. It reminded me of Ti West’s movie, “The Sacrament” (2014), which was based heavily on the Jim Jones/Jonestown story. It also was similar to “The Handmaid’s Tale” in some regard, especially the tie-in to the misogynistic aspects.

Overall, this was an amazing movie. There are some brutal scenes and if you are bothered by somewhat realistic violence, you might need to turn away during a few points. But if you want to see a well-made, intense film, this is a good one.


My Rating: 9 Scary Heads out of 10


Movie Review – Evan Almighty (2007)

I’m going to be right up front with you. I love this movie. Yes, I said it, and I’ll say it again. I LOVE this movie. I don’t care that Rotten Tomatoes is at 23% or that critics panned it. And even if IMDB is at 5.4, it doesn’t faze me one bit. I will stop flipping through the channels and watch it, wherever it happens to be in its 1 hour and 36 minute run time.

The plot: Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) moves his family to Virginia when he wins a seat in Congress. He is “confronted” by God (Morgan Freeman) to build an ark to save the town from a flood. This also coincides with a loudmouth congressman (John Goodman) who is trying to push a bill through the house that will devastate the area and the animals.

Evan’s family, friends, co-workers, and by-standers all believe he’s crazy — trying to personify Noah and The Great Flood. But we, the audience, and Evan, know the truth.

Did I say that I love this movie? It makes me laugh. I LOVE all the animals in it, even if they are CGI. I love the family dynamics between the all the Baxters, and the supporting cast is hilarious. Are some scenes silly? Yes. Can you pretty much see the ending from a mile away? Yes, perhaps. Does it matter? Nope. Not at all.

This is a feel-good, family friendly, wonderful ride. I’m not usually on board with these types of films, but I think Steve Carell is perfect as Evan (not everyone could pull this one off.) His comedic timing and subtle commentary are played well, and even the kids are believable – right down to ‘making fun of their dad’ during some of the earlier moments.

John Goodman is a great “bad man”. It’s a little bit of a carry-over from his “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou” part, but again, it works here. And it doesn’t make a lick of difference that we know good will win out over the bad guys. It’s all about enjoying the trip, from beginning to end.

There’s lots of “easter eggs” as well. The real estate lady (Eve Adams – a play on Adam and Eve), the line where a minor character states “That’s what I said” (a reference to Steve Carell’s Michael Scott character “That’s what she said” phrase), and the bird poop landing on his shoulder at the ‘exact moment’ of an exclamation (couldn’t have been timed, could it?). And, so much more.

Forget its predecessor, Bruce Almighty. Watch this one.


My rating: 9 Scary Heads out of 10


Movie Review – Temple (2017)


Seven out of eight critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a “rotten” score. At 13% (on RT), you might question why I spent 78 minutes invested in this disaster of a project. The best answer I could give is, I don’t normally check RT, IMDB, or Metacritic before viewing — I like to make my own decision without being swayed beforehand. Even if I had read the reviews, I probably would have given it a shot anyway.

The plot sounded like it had promise. Three Americans head over to Japan to scout out ancient temples. James and Kate are boyfriend and girlfriend and Christopher, Kate’s “friend”, who she pretty much treats like crap, is along for the ride because he can speak the language. Kate’s is supposedly working on her master’s degree, which is why she traveled to the ‘jungles of Japan’ — she wanted to see these temples firsthand.

On the outset, I was on board and willing to give it a chance. Ten minutes into the film, the interactions and dialogue between Kate, Christopher, and James had become so hilariously bad and poorly scripted that I stopped taking the movie seriously. Then, the overly-done tropes began — an old Japanese man relaying a cryptic message to Christopher about the temple’s curse — the three main characters separating in the dark forest — flashlights failing to work at the most inopportune times. And those were the good points.

Near the end of the movie (no spoilers, of course…not that it would make a bit of difference), Kate wanders aimlessly through an underground tunnel, searching for James. Instead of calling his name or shouting for help, all she does is say “Hello?” (and not very loudly might I add). This is one of those scenes that you just have to see to appreciate the hilarity of it. The intonation of her voice, barely above a normal level, repeating the word ‘hello’, like she was meeting someone at a dinner party…well, I simply can’t do the scene justice here – but trust me when I say it was the comic relief that the film sorely needed. That alone made me raise my rating a whole point.

If you want to see bad acting, worse dialogue, annoying characters, and one funny-as-heck scene near the end, watch Temple.

My rating: 2 Scary Heads out of 10


Book Review – Mr. Mercedes (2014)

I’ve been a little out of commision, having recently had foot surgery. While I am doing better, it still makes for long days with having to have an appendage in the air while donning ice bags. Knowing this predicament, my sister gifted me with a few books to read while I recooperate, one of which was Mr. Mercedes.

This is Stephen King’s 62nd novel, and as he puts it “his first hard-boiled detective book”. Generally speaking, I don’t normally read crime and/or noir, but…Stephen King. It’s because of him that I chose to write in the horror genre. So, I went all in.

I have to say that I’m so glad I did so. I kept my apprehension at bay and kept an open mind. I had to remind myself on a few occasions that “this isn’t a suspense/horror novel”, but by the time I was a quarter of the way through, none of that mattered.

The main plot centers around a retired policeman who gets pulled back into a case that hadn’t been solved yet (at the time of his retirement). The story also follows the serial killer who hasn’t been caught. Between these linear plot lines, the pace is fast, furious, and full of intrigue. There was quite a bit of research on Mr. King’s part — it’s obvious he delved deeply into the real world of law enforcement as well as technology. But, that’s what he does and that’s why his stories are so great. They’re believable for a reason.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter that he veered away from his known genre. I think, as long as you know that before going in, you won’t be disappointed. If, however, you have any notions that this might just be a “subtle, less scary horror”, you will indeed be in for a let down.

So, why not a score of 10? Because as long as I have been reading books by Stephen King, I’ve never been “convinced” that the dialogue from children has been quite right. It often feels too adult, too forced. Anyone under the age of 18 (and there are a few characters who fit this description in the book), sounds like they’re about 30. It happens here too, in my opinion, but the rest of the book is good enough to give a few eyerolls after “the kids” talk, and get on with the chapter.

I highly recommend this. I firmly believe that whatever genre you are accustomed to reading, you WILL find enjoyment with Mr. Mercedes. It’s just that good.


My rating: 8 scary heads out of 10


Movie Review – The Hamiltons (2006)

Linky Here

If you’re thinking of the musical, Hamilton, and you slip this into your DVD player (or stream it or whatever the popular kids are doing these days), you will be sorely dissappointed. This 86 minute film isn’t bad. It’s not good, but it’s not the worst thing you can do for an hour and a half.

Plainly put, four teen/young adults have to take care of themselves after their parents get killed…and they have a secret they need to hide from the rest of “society”. It’s not long into the film that the audience becomes privy to the reason they sequester themselves from nearly everyone else. (But no spoilers here) The problem with most of the screen time is…it’s boring. There’s lots of shots where people are thinking. Which is fine, if they were going to take action soon afterwards. But, no. Just more…thinking…and some looking. And when things really get moving, there’s a bit of screaming.

Even the “climax”, if you will, has been done before (and with more tension, I might add).  Samual Child, who plays the oldest brother, David, was either given the direction to overact and come across as a cardboard cutout of a character OR Mr. Child needs a few more acting lessons.

I’m going to assume that this film was geared for the YA crowd, because that’s really where it would fit best. It’s not scary and it’s fairly predictable, but again, if you’re a fan of teen movies and looking for something to play in the background without having to give your full attention to it, this might be for you.

My rating: 4 scary heads out of 10.


Movie Review – The Circle (2017)

Linky Here

As soon as I saw the commercials for this film, I knew I wanted to see it. It looked exciting and different and I always like a good Tom Hanks movie. I will defend “That Thing You Do” (1996) as long and hard as I have to if need be. Linky

Anyway, The Circle follows a general theme that we as movie-goers have certainly seen before. A young woman gets hired at a somewhat new tech company. Everything seems perfect at the onset, until secrets begin to be revealed.

I can easily forgive a routine premise such as this one if the plot delves into new and unforeseen areas that haven’t been explored before. The first half of the movie did just this. No spoilers, of course, but the lead character (as well as the supporting ones) encounter some novel situations which lead to some rather questionable decisions.

I was on board for a good solid 45 minutes, but right around the halfway point, I found myself getting a little frustrated. By the time the credits rolled, I was past frustrated…I had officially rounded the curve to peeved.

The movie was good. The actors were solid. The concepts presented were really intriguing. But darn it all if the entire hour and fifty minute run time only skimmed the surface on most plot points. There was so much potential left unexplored. I don’t know if it ended up on the cutting room floor (if they even do that anymore!), or if James Ponsoldt and Dave Eggers (writers and directors) thought that they hit enough of the high points, nothing else needed to be addressed or wrapped up.

It’s really unfortunate because this could have been a WOW movie. The premise was timely and the ideas presented were spot on. They simply didn’t flesh them out or take them as far as they needed to in order to have audiences stay with them until the final scene. I think the 17% on Rotten Tomatoes bears that out. (and I know RT isn’t the be-all end-all on how good a movie is…but in this case, I find it rather telling).


My rating: 5.5 Scary Heads out of 10


Book Review (of sorts) – Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to be Read with the Lights On (1973)

Linky Here

I’ll be honest – this is not going to be a fair commentary for the simple fact that I did not finish the book. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even make it half-way through. So, as a critique, take this with a very large grain of salt.

I found this book a few months ago when I was up in the Rockford, Illinois area. This amazing store, Toad Hall Books and Records had everything…and I mean everything. We probably spent the better part of 3 1/2 hours in there and didn’t even see all that they had to offer.

Anyway, I knew that I was going to have foot surgery so I was looking for a number of books that I could read during all the down time. Among them was this particular Alfred Hitchcock paperback – a very old-school looking piece that I really thought would be up my alley.

I started reading it a few days ago. I got a few stories in…and had to really push myself to get that far. I jumped around a little, checking out some of the stories further in, but to me, they barely held my attention. After a few days of making some decent runs at it, I gave up. It going into the garage sale/next book drive pile. I simply couldn’t do it.

Now, you have to understand me. I’m not a big “crime thriller”/who-dun-it reader and I don’t care for generic mysteries. The closest thing that I would consider giving time to (in this vein) are old television shows like Columbo or Quincy, M.E. I’m partial to Law & Order: SVU, but not Law & Order: Criminal Intent. There’s a real divide for me as far as where my interests lie.

Alfred Hitchcock plays in two camps. Movies like Psycho and The Birds firmly comes down on the horror/suspense side. These are the types of stories I can get behind. I’m all in and enjoy most everything about them. However, Mr. Hitchcock’s other offerings tend to fall into the non-scary, non-creepy crime/robbery/cozy-revenge tales that are predictable and telegraph the outcomes almost from the beginning.

This second category is where I would firmly put this book – hook, line, and sinker. I was bored. However, if these kind of tales are something that others enjoy, that’s great, and fortunately for that reader, Alfred Hitchcock put out a number of these kinds of paperbacks. It’s just not my bag. At all.


My rating: 3 Scary Heads out of 10


Movie Review – Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Linky Here

You know, I’m just going to come right out and say it. I’m blaming the fact that I was talked into seeing this movie on my lack of reasoning from taking painkillers for my recent foot surgery.


Diablo Cody (pen name), the woman responsible for the film Juno, was also responsible for this dabble into “horror-comedy” about a high school cheerleader who ends up on the receiving end of a “body take-over” by something evil. This metamorphosis helps to set off a local killing spree of hormone-overloaded male teens.

Okay…I guess it “is what it is”, but if I knew ahead of time that it was going to be the epitome of cliche horror flicks, I would have taken a nap instead. Stereotypical characters? Check. Dialogue that was supposed to be “funny” (i.e. clever) but was not? Check. A plot that was so obvious it brought NOTHING new to the table? Check and double-check.

Horror-comedies that actually work are few and far between. Shaun of the Dead comes to mind, but to be honest, I don’t really consider that true horror. Apparently, An American Werewolf in London is filed under “horror comedy”, but I actually thought of that particular film as a rather tragic story.

Anyway…Jennifer’s Body is a lot of things. It’s a run-of-the-mill teen slasher that we’ve all seen before – far too many times. There’s nothing different that sets it apart, from say, Cabin in the Woods or Get Out, two recent films that more than just clever. If you are looking for a film to show at your teen’s Halloween party this year, this movie might be a decent selection. But for my money? Leave it for the Sy-Fy Channel and pick up something else.

My rating: 3 Scary Heads out of 10


Movie Review – The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

Linky Here

Let me be clear. If you are a fan of horror, suspense, thrillers, or just plain good movie-making, RUN, do not walk, to see this film. It’s creepy, chilling, and executed extremely well.

While the story is pretty straight-forward, there is much going on during the 86 minute run time. A small town father-son coroner team take on a “Jane Doe”, who is just one of a handful of victims during a strange and violent homicide. In order to move the plot forward, the police inform them that a COD (cause of death) is needed by morning, so, working on this unknown female is priority #1.  As such, Tommy and Austin (the father and son) begin their routine autopsy procedures on said cadaver.

Once we hit this juncture, the movie starts ramping and refuses to let up. Without going into spoiler territory, we, the audience, are hurled into one possible scenario to the next without as much as a breather in between. Yes, there are some minor jump scares (of which I am NOT a fan), but if you’ve ever seen a horror movie, they are pretty well telegraphed (although not in a bad way). They work. The atmosphere works. The character interaction works. The ending works. Everything about this cinematic wonderland works.

Not a spoiler, but there is an animal death. It’s brief, but biting. I didn’t like that part, although it wasn’t overplayed. I understood why they included it. But if you don’t like such things, you should have ample time to look away.

If you’re not a horror movie buff, you still might enjoy this one. It’s just done so darn well.


My rating: 9 Scary Heads out of 10


Movie Review – Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978)

Linky Here

This Italian cult movie from 1978 probably has a following somewhere in the world. It’s not in MY world, mind you, but I assume that there are pockets of fans drooling over Ursula Andress and her handful of nudie scenes.

Ranked as one of the “video nasties”, I can certainly understand why it made the list. While it doesn’t have much of a plot (a small group go in search of lost family members on a cursed mountain through the jungles of New Guinea), there are far too many lingering shots of animals killing, eating, or disfiguring each other. I’m assuming these shots were of actual footage (according to Wiki) which doesn’t make it any better. As a matter of fact, I abhor these kinds of things on film – and I’m usually against censorship.

There are a number of gruesome human-on-human killings, but they aren’t necessarily done well. They don’t add anything to the plot and when a character dies, it really doesn’t matter all that much in the larger scheme of things.

The movie comes in at 99 minutes, a time that could be considered rather short if the film was entertaining in some way. In this case, it’s a long, drawn out, painful experience.

This isn’t one of those “good” bad movies, like Shark-nado, where you can sit back and make fun of it and have a good laugh. This is straight up a “bad” bad movie, and a host of unfortunate animals paid too high a price.

My rating: 1 Scary Head out of 10


TV Show: Shark Tank (2009 – Current)


Why am I drawn to this show? What is so special about this “reality series” that makes me want to tune in every Friday night (moving to Sunday for the new season!) and see Kevin O’Leary tell someone that they are “dead to him”? Or watch Mark Cuban roll his eyes at a con-artist trying to bilk the Sharks for three million dollars in exchange for 2% of some crazy concept?

It’s exactly those scenarios that make Shark Tank a fascinating show. While most reality shows rely on featuring scripted sophomoric behavior between barely-dressed 20-somethings, this show gained its popularity by presenting REAL people making actual business deals.

The Sharks (Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, and Mark Cuban) are real people, not paid actors. Their names and reputations are really on the line (as much as they would like them to be), and while it still is a television show, the basic arc of the program centers around actual products, current businesses, and people livelihoods. Sure, it’s still entertainment, but deals are made (or not) and futures of companies, no matter how small, are truly affected.

I think this is what makes it so compelling. I’ve actually seen some of these products in stores. I’ve bought the Scrub Daddy (it’s great, by the way). I’ve sent Wicked Cupcakes (they are quite good, too). I’m rooting for some of these folks, while, at the same time, rolling my own eyes when I see some business models walk onto the stage.

If you haven’t seen an episode, do it. Watch for one hour. You might see an amazing product. You might have a good laugh at some of the Sharks’ commentary. Or you might just roll your eyes. But in any case, I think you’ll enjoy time spent with the Sharks.

My Rating: 9 Scary Heads out of 10


Movie Review – mother! (2017)

Linky Here.

Oh my. What does one say about a movie such as this one? Written in 5 days, Darren Aronofsky has done one heck of a job dividing social media into two categories: Love this film with every cell in your being OR hate it, cursing each second it takes up in the world. It really IS that kind of movie.

If you are anything like me (and that could be scary in and of itself!), watching the previews/tv ads had given me the impression that this was a horror movie; something along the lines of Rosemary’s Baby. The tone leads the audience to believe it is one thing…but in fact, it is very much NOT that. I will not spoil anything here, which is why I’m staying vague. But, a quick Google search WILL indeed spoil the whole “meaning” – so be forewarned if you want to go in “fresh”.

The set-up is fairly simple. A married couple living in a huge house (which the woman is painstakingly renovating) is bombarded by guests who, for unknown/random reasons, keep coming and refuse to leave. The visitors become more agitated as time goes on, creating problems for the couple, the house, and themselves.

Before the final scene, things get chaotic – and that’s putting it mildly.

This is NOT a movie for everyone. The problem is that, without spoiling it, most audience members aren’t going to know if they should see it or not. Is it horror? Well, no. But there ARE horrific moments. Is it a love story? Well, sort of. But don’t expect anything mainstream. Is it an art house movie? Well, in a way. There a great deal of atmospheric importance, as well as symbolism/allegory throughout.

You know, the more I think about it (and I just saw it yesterday), the more I think that I would have appreciated it more if I had read about it BEFORE seeing it. Yeah – even with spoilers. I think I would have tuned in to certain things more had I known X,Y, and Z. I will say this – it’s not a movie you’ll soon forget, whichever side you come down on.

My Rating: 7 Scary Heads out of 10.


 Movie Review – Colossal (2016)

Linky Here

Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis lead this part sci-fi, part fantasy, part rom-com romp through New York City as well as Seoul, Korea. When I read the blurb on the Netflix envelope, my hopes were not high. I’m not partial to fantasy and I rarely like anything that comes close to rom-coms. (romantic comedy).

But, I have to say, I went in with my mind open, willing to give it a shot, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s probably no spoiler to say that Anne’s character, Gloria, realizes that she’s the “monster” that’s terrorizing folks in Seoul. When it dawns on her that she’s causing havoc to innocent people, the real story begins.

There’s some humor, albeit not the driving factor here (at least for me). There isn’t anything  gory or horrific to speak of, even though it’s a pure “take-off” on the Godzilla movies of the past. The whole movie is more about the underlying messages – those of which I will not “spoil” here. But, if and when you see this, you’ll understand because it’s VERY CLEAR.

Overall, it’s not a bad way to spend an hour and forty-nine minutes. It’s a novel way to look at how one person’s actions can affect others.

My Rating: 6.5 Scary Heads out of 10


 Movie Review – Green Inferno (2015)

Linky Here

I know I’m going to be the outlier here, but I thought this movie was absolutely incredible. I say that I’m alone in my thinking because whenever I mention my love for this film on horror websites/FB pages, I am made fun of and “harassed” 🙂 (in a good way).

The premise is simple. A group of college students head to the Amazon rain forest in order to protect the “unprotected”. What follows is probably not a big leap for most horror fans – things go from bad to worse and end up far more gruesome than anyone thought possible.

Now, if you know me, you know that I’m not one for gore and slashers. It’s not scary to me – it’s just pointless, grotesque and/or boring.

And yes, I’ve seen Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (1993).

And yes, I hated it. I understand that it was supposedly the goriest film ever made (as well as a comedy, no less), and I can attest to the fact that it was, indeed, the definition of pure disgust. But did I find it entertaining? Humorous, like Shaun of the Dead? No. I found it to be a vile, putrid, mess of special effects filmed onto celluloid JUST for the sake of having the ability to do it.

But I digress – back to Green Inferno.

Some viewers might see this movie in a similar light. It certainly has some nasty moments and it doesn’t shy away from gory scenes. HOWEVER, and this is where I tend to part ways with the horror community, I thought the message, albeit somewhat obvious, was what drove the movie.

The fact that a bunch of first world students head into a third world country without knowing anything about the people or cultures they might encounter, yet remain stoically determined to “make their statement”, is an accurate thermostat of how our world is today.

There have always been people who feel their way, their beliefs, their process of doing things is the right and ONLY way, regardless of how other folks think, feel, believe, and live. Many times, the groups or persons who are being “bullied” or pushed to change are in a weaker position and can’t fight back (although that appears to be changing in our current climate).

However, The Green Inferno takes that concept and turns it around. The cannibal aspect is portrayed as the “scare factor” here, yet the actual act of consuming people (for a variety of reasons) is more common than one might think. (Cannibalism: How Stuff Works).

Without delving into a whole discussion on the Donner Party or how cannibalism has played a role in history, one of the key take-away points of  The Green Inferno is “don’t fix something that isn’t broke.”

The film was riveting, the message was on point, and the atmosphere was believable. It made me cringe. It made me think. And it made me like it.


My Rating: 8 Scary Heads out of 10


The Cure for Wellness – Linky

Movie Review – A Cure for Wellness

I had wanted to see this movie ever since I saw the commercials for it on television. It looked like a weird take on Dr. John Kellogg’s Battle Creek, Michigan’s sanitarium gone horribly wrong. And in a strange way, it wasn’t too far off. But, somewhere around the 90 minute mark, it managed to take a sharp left turn and never look back.

The plot, at its core, revolves around a young businessman who travels to the Swiss Alps in order to bring the company’s CEO back to America. Generally speaking, that part of the plot is just a ploy to get the main character into the “wellness center” where 95% of the movie takes place.

The great part about this film is that there is a VERY similar feel to Shutter Island (2010) with Leonardo DiCaprio. In fact, I found the lead in ACFW (Dane DeHaan) to resemble Leo on a number of levels. There’s a great deal of mystery and strange goings-on which creates a feeling of tension for much of the running time. And, like many solid movies these days, the actors and atmosphere drive the film. If anyone “phoned in” their performance, this 2 hour and 26 minute cinema feat would not have worked at all.

Which brings me to my main complaint.

It’s long. VERY long. I know some people won’t (or didn’t) have an issue with the length. That’s understandable. But for me, I would have liked to see this wrap up closer to the 120 mark, if not a little earlier. It’s not that the movie dragged, but I had the sense that the director was trying to put EVERYTHING he possibly could into it. Sometimes, it works. This time, it didn’t (again, for me…you’re mileage might vary).

And then, eels. Yeah…I’ll just leave that there.


My Rating: 6 Scary Heads out of 10.


The Blackcoat’s Daughter – Linky

Movie Review – The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Well, now. That was confusing.

Oz Perkins (Osgood) wrote and directed this 2015 thriller/horror. One might think that being the son of the infamous Anthony Perkins (of Psycho fame as well as a number of other films), the man would have some major tricks up his sleeve.

At its core, the plot revolved around two girls who have been left at a religious boarding school to wait for their parents. The older of the two is having pregnancy issues (and boyfriend issues as well), while the younger one is having some emotional crisis (which comes out through choppy nightmare scenes). Oh, and there’s an evil presence for some reason which is never really mentioned.

Cue the time jumps.

I basically waited the entire movie for “things to come together”. I’m still waiting. Yes, the cinematography is wonderful. The settings are artistic. The cast does a good job in creating a sense of dread.  But, for me, there was a LOT of down time – too many scenes showing pensive looks and people standing still. It’s more art-house than horror; more technical film-making than thriller.

There are going to be those that will LOVE this movie. The atmosphere alone will pull some audiences along. And that’s fine. It’s just not for me.


My Rating: 5.5 Scary Heads out of 10.


11/22/63 Movie –  Linky

Movie Review – 11 / 22 / 63


To be fair, I basically binged watched all 8 episodes from Netflix. So, no commercials, no breaks (unless I chose to pause the show). Personally, I think that’s a great way to see something like this.

The film, at its most basic level, follows the story of high school teacher, Jake Epping, as he bounces back and forth from 2016 to 1960, in order to prevent the assassination of JFK. There’s a love story. There’s a “team up with someone who might or might not turn on you” story. And of course, the big question of who REALLY shot the president, looms large throughout much of the movie.

To me, it was part thriller, part drama, and part romance. It wasn’t horror, although there are a few disturbing elements weaved throughout the plot lines. But if you’re going into this film after having seen Stephen King’s name attached and believe it to be another ‘Salem’s Lot or The Shining, you might be disappointed.

The actors did a great job, the characters were very believable, and the story never stalled. Having watched it in a very concentrated time frame was not a problem – it was that good. Having a thorough knowledge of the 1960’s or JFK conspiracy theories might lead you to enjoy it more, but going in cold won’t be an issue. The great thing about Stephen King material – he’ll walk you through the tough stuff so you won’t be confused as to what’s happening. Yet, at the same time, there’s no real spoon feeding either.

My Rating: 9 Scary Heads out of 10.





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