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  We're on Steam! 02:18 PM -- Sun April 8, 2018  

Look, it's available on Steam! Wait, no it's not. This is just the test version that we can see internally. So don't go looking in the Steam store, but we are working on getting the setup going so that testers will be able to get it through Steam just like a regular game, and automatically update even. It's really cool actually... as you can see, we even have 2 achievements already! We're working on high score tables right now.

Overall, the status is this: Robot Wants Kitty, Puppy, and Fishy are basically complete in their original form. Easy and Remix maps are done for Kitty, Easy and half of a Remix map are done for Puppy, and no bonus maps for Fishy yet. So Ice Cream and Banner remain to be ported. Also, the new, secret Robot adventure has just barely gotten started. If you watched my Twitch stream on Thursday, you could've seen me creating it! Here's pretty much all that we've got so far, just some new tiles (and the fact that it runs):

So I guess it takes place on some kind of alien planet with purple dirt and yellow grass. More to come!
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  SPISPOPD! 07:47 PM -- Thu March 29, 2018  

It's amazing how much our world has changed in the past 25 years. Also amazing is the sensation of realizing that this year is the 25th anniversary of the release of SPISPOPD (also of DOOM, but really, who remembers that game?). To celebrate (about 9 months too soon - Dec 10, 1993 was the release date), I've uploaded SPISPOPD to Itch.io for your perusal. Most people won't be able to figure out how to install it or run it. It is not something that will work out of the box, at all. But of note is the fact that the legendary SpisFAQ is also available on that page. Check it out, as it's full of incredibly important knowledge from 25 years ago.

For a quick run-down on playing SPISPOPD, if you are technically inclined (this is info for SMASH247.ZIP - SPISEDIT.ZIP is similar, but more complex to run): You need to open up the zip file, unzip SPIS.ZIP into a folder, then unzip VOC.ZIP into a folder named VOC inside that folder. Then run DosBox, mount the folder as a drive in dosbox (type "mount c d:\myspisfolder"), go to the drive in DosBox (type "C:"), and then run the game by typing SMASH. I think that's it. Sound most likely won't work, but by gum the music sure will! You will never forget the music. It'll make you long for Stockboy's chart-topping tunes.

Anyway, I am nearing the end of old games to upload to Itch.io! Just so you know, the last remaining non-flash games I have (unless there are others buried somewhere I can find) are Ninja Kitty Vs. The Nukebots, Medusa's Lament, Rise of the Owls, Scarecrow: Heart of Straw, and Castle Smash. So those are coming soon. Then I guess I have to start making new games? Nah, I'll just figure out how to share the flash games.
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  Robot Wants It All:Including Puppy! 08:35 PM -- Mon March 26, 2018  

Still working on Robot Wants It All! At this point, the first 3 games are pretty much done, in their initial state - Robot can get Kitty, Puppy, and Fishy. We're working on a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff as well. I mentioned the alternate maps in the previous update (and I've worked on one live on my Twitch stream!). There are 2 alternate maps for Kitty, and 1.5 for Puppy (getting there!). I haven't started on alternate maps for Fishy yet. That's gonna be rough seeing how it's so much bigger than the first two games.

I could talk about a new feature like I totally said I would, now that the site is finally back, but I think I'll leave that for next time. I'm just glad to have my blog back. Other Robot tidbits: we're working on getting a testing situation set up, we should be looking for testers in a couple of weeks (hopefully); I will share a new feature next time I discuss the game; and you should stop by the Twitch stream on Tuesdays and Thursdays (time to be determined, but I tweet and instagram each time I do it, or just follow me on Twitch), as I do development of the game live on there!
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  The blog is back, baby! 08:14 PM -- Fri March 23, 2018  

I'm not sure if it works 100%, so consider this the beta test. The Hamumu blog is here again. Click it, read it, smile and scratch your chin thoughtfully.

If you find any errors, let me know. Perhaps by posting a comment, unless the error is that the comments aren't working.

In other news, I am now streaming on Twitch approximately 3x weekly (development twice, and playing games once). I'm aiming for Tues/Thurs/Sat, and mixing up the times on them so different people have a chance to sit in. It's nothing special, I just hang out and work/play on whatever I'm doing, but I like to do so where I can interact with you all, so join in and chat away. You can see Robot Wants It All in action. Or Overwatch.

My Twitch channel is HamumuGames.
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  Robot Wants It All: Development Update 04:20 PM -- Mon November 27, 2017  

Trying hard to make sure you are all aware that this game is underway and making progress, but actually stepping out of my dungeon to share things with the world isn't my strong suit! But here it is, your first progress report.

Click for big
[click to embiggen]
There are quite a few new elements visible in that screenshot (ignore the one in the lower left - that's just a debug display), but I'm just going to tease you with info on one new feature every week (*This means "every week that I get around to it"). So for this week, let me point out the obvious fact: this is clearly the game Robot Wants Kitty, but that is most definitely not the proper map layout for it!

Alternate Maps

So one of the bonuses in Robot Wants It All is the alternate maps. So far, only Robot Wants Kitty is implemented, so we're still in the early stages, but for that game at least, I've developed two new maps you can play. One is supposed to be the "easy" map (pictured), and the other is the "remix" map. In truth, the easy map is probably slightly harder than the classic map, but it is a lot shorter, which is the main selling point. The "remix" map on the other hand, is huge and brutal (I think - we'll see how it goes in testing). It should take much longer than the classic map to complete, even once you have it fully figured out.

So there you go - a fun new feature in Robot Wants It All. You get three times as much Kitty! Of course, there will be alternate maps for the other games too. I'm not sure if there will be as many of them, or maybe more. I'm a little scared of how tricky it will get to develop maps for some of the other Robot games.

Now feel free to wildly speculate about all the other oddities in the screenshot! You might hear about them next week, who knows?
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  What's going on at Hamumu? 11:07 PM -- Thu November 2, 2017  

That's what's going on! Robot Wants It All is a PC game which begins as a compilation of all the previous Robot Wants games. Since Flash has died, these games are getting harder and harder for people to access, so I thought it would be a good project to compile them together into a format that'll last a while (hopefully...). And it means you can play them with a gamepad, which I can already tell you makes them so much better!

Of course, in addition to the old games (which you can still play on our site, provided your browser allows Flash to run!), we have plenty of other content to make it worth your while. Exactly what new content is coming is not entirely set in stone yet, and we're gonna keep that info under our yerf-hats for now. Traditionally I tend to add a lot more junk to games than they need, so you can expect more of that. One thing I can say is that obviously Robot will be going on an adventure to collect something new. He does, after all, want it all.

This project is being programmed by Anthony Salter, an old indie pal. I am doing the design and the art. It'll take a while, because we're doing a lot more than just porting the games, but I'll be sure to keep you all updated as we move along. But I might keep some things for a surprise, because, well, I'm Hamumu.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: 2017 Wrap-Up 05:20 PM -- Wed November 1, 2017  

Mikey: Well, it looks like we have now watched 31 horror movies. Actually 29 horror movies, one comedy (Netherbeast Incorporated), and one thriller (Stonehearst Asylum), by my subjective calculations. We have each awarded six five-star ratings (counting 5+ as a 5). So I guess the obvious first question is: What was the best movie of them all?

Solee: Wow. We’re just diving right in, huh? Okay … I am having a very hard time choosing. This is so different from last year, when I had a very clear-cut favorite. The Monster is high on my list. The acting was SUPERB in that. But I remember that could have had a stronger punch.

Mikey: I am surprised to hear The Monster get mentioned before Get Out from you! For me, the two of them fit a similar mold. I really loved what they were doing underneath - the meaning and the production itself, while the actual plot in both movies was nothing special, no big twists, just kind of a threat that the characters face and defeat (to varying degrees).

Solee: I’m getting to Get Out! Patience, grasshopper! (Although I agree with your assessment.) I legit can’t decide which is my favorite out of Get Out, Under the Shadow, and Train to Busan. I love them all for so many reasons. Primarily, they all had great stories that were told with skill. Maybe I need to hear what you have to say while I think about it. Which was YOUR favorite?

Mikey: I am finding myself in trouble as well. Maybe there doesn’t have to be one favorite. Train To Busan was really really fun, moreso than the others because it was just that: a fun movie. The others had all kinds of deep stuff going on. Looks like we are ignoring the other movie that actually earned a “5+” (Acting’s Highest Honor) from us: The Babadook. That might be my favorite. I don’t know though, to watch it again would entail hearing that screeching kid again, and that really puts a damper on it.

Solee: Yeah … I can see that I gave it a 5, but I don’t feel it still sitting on my heart the way the ones I’ve mentioned are. Those movies made a lasting impression. I thought The Babadook did … but it seems it didn’t last as long. I really liked that Get Out, Under the Shadow, and Train to Busan all had a level of “importance” to their story. They are addressing real issues through the medium of horror.

Mikey: BA-BA-DOOK dook dook! The allegorical depression film!? Seems like a real issue to me. I think it did such an amazing job of talking about the issue.

Solee: Ugh. You’re right. I can’t have FOUR favorites, can I??? We watched too many high quality movies this month!!

Mikey: I think we screwed up pretty badly. But since nobody wants to just hear us agonizing, I guess we can close out this segment by just telling people the movies they need to see: The Monster, The Babadook, Get Out, Under The Shadow, and Train To Busan.

Solee: Yep. How about you tell us some of the stats you gathered this month? What did we watch? How?

Mikey: I am SO full of stats you should stop me when you hear something interesting to discuss. We watched movies from the average year of 2010.7, which averaged 95.71 minutes in length, and on average I rated them 3.11, while you rated them 3.35 (so generous!).

Solee: Last year, I had a slightly higher average rating, too. I’m clearly just nicer than you.

Mikey: Yep. Fifteen of the movies were rated R, five were rated PG-13, and eleven were not rated. We do watch a lot of unknown stuff!

Solee: The unrated stuff … is that the lower quality and indie stuff?

Mikey: Definitely less well-known… However, Train To Busan is one of the unrated ones, and it’s not even indie. I guess just not released in US theaters.

Solee: So is Babadook!

Mikey: I kinda wonder if some of them are just oversights, but IMDB is usually quite accurate. Also of note, back to being nice, is that we are somewhat nicer than the critics and other human beings: our combined average rating is 18.71% higher than the critics, and 13.41% higher than the Rotten Tomatoes audience ratings for these movies. I always attribute that to the fact that we judge them as horror movies though, and not just as general movies.

Solee: That’s a lot of data, Mikey! One of the things you track all month are tags like “witch” or “pregnant” or “insane”. I know that we worked hard to spread our choices out among different tags. Are there any that we hit last year but didn’t hit this year?

Mikey: Well, we had a different set of foreign films - this year, we had two Aussie movies, and one each of Italian, Filipino, Iranian, Korean, and British. Other than that, I tried to make sure we found stuff from all the same categories, but we failed to discover a first-person movie (two of those last year! The only two I’ve ever seen!), a courtroom drama (quite rare in horror…), and a musical (sad face). The other big difference is that last year it felt like just about every movie made the female protagonist pregnant to up the danger, and this year we only had one movie - Train To Busan - where pregnancy was any real factor at all.

Solee: I see our most common tag was ghost (7), followed by serial killer (6) and found footage (5). There were significantly more ghost (12) and driven insane by ghosts (11) movies last year. Do you think we avoided them this year or were there fewer to choose from?

Mikey: There were quite a few movies this year that I couldn’t quite tag the “monster type” for. The Ruins is about evil plants, Get Out is just … I don’t know, bad doctors? And others. I do think it was a very different batch of movies. Last year was your typical bunch of haunted houses, and we had very little of that this year (I’m gonna guess about 7!). This year I got to tag two movies’ villains as “disease” (Cabin Fever and The Thaw), which is a new category (even if The Thaw was really bugs). It’s not an exact science.

Solee: It certainly gives us an interesting perspective on our viewing habits though.

Mikey: One habit we developed this year was watching Amazon Prime movies. It was our biggest source of movies - Twelve of them were on there (second place was Netflix with seven). And we watched 2 movies in the theaters this year, both of them their opening day! That would be It and Happy Death Day. Which incidentally makes Happy Death Day our most recently released movie, while Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is the oldest, and also happens to be my age!

Solee: I notice we paid (beyond our regular subscription fees) for seven movies this year, compared to nine last year. We’re cheap! If we can’t get it for free, we tend to skip it. Luckily, there are a plethora of free horror movies to access.

Mikey: Plethora hardly begins to describe it! All the streaming services are just buried in cheap, terrible, horror movies. I want to drink them all in. So, beyond pointless numbers, are there are any deep insights we’ve gained with these movies? How have we grown as people after 31 days of enforced entertainment?

Solee: I want to celebrate movies as a form of cultural understanding. I mentioned this in one of our reviews, but I think that watching horror is an interesting way to look into a culture on a deeper level. Our fears are based on things we learn from the moment of our first breath. I appreciate horror as a way of learning about other cultures and gauging my own understanding. Like how they say you know you understand a language fluently when you can make/understand jokes. Not that I am saying I understand the Filipino or Australian cultures … but I got some insight into what I don’t know about those cultures through the movies. Or something deep like that.

Mikey: I think there are some things we saw that were unique to foreign cultures. The Filipino movie (Haunted Mansion) really showed off the Catholicism that’s such a part of their culture. The Iranian movie (Under The Shadow) was all about the women’s issues in Iran. The Korean movie (Train To Busan) was heavily focused on issues of workaholism that I’ve heard about from there before. And the Aussie movies? 95% kangaroos.

Solee: I’m also reminded of how we discussed the social commentary in the horror movies last year. This year we definitely saw more of that with the allegorical studies of depression (Babadook), single parenting (Train to Busan, The Monster), people with disabilities (Disappointments Room), mental health issues (Stonehearst Asylum, Split), and, of course, racism (Get Out).

Mikey: I feel like we did get a lot more depth than I am familiar with seeing in the horror genre! All those messages and depth instead of kids getting stabbed with machetes. It’s weird. I guess that’s what comes of looking up too many “best horror movies” lists. Turns out that’s what makes them good. In fact, we probably only avoided the deep stuff when we skipped the lists and just picked movies based on their cover art. Which did lead to some garbage (Mark of the Witch).

Solee: Ugh. That’s how we marked off the “score of zero” box! Anyway, I’m sure we’ll do more horror movies next year. Do you think we should go for high-brow informative horror or get back into the cheesy monsters?

Mikey: You know, I’m not sure what the right solution is. But I will say what we did this year felt pretty good. We got a nice mix of crap and quality (overall, our rating average was only about 2% higher than last year), and we honestly got surprised on the regular by incredible movies. I definitely don’t mind that experience! I think I’ll be back to something similar next year. Why not? I’m always up to have my mind blown!

Solee: I just realized what we haven’t done much of that I want to work into the rotation next year: old classics! I want to dig further back into the roots of horror and explore some of the originals! We did that a little with Chainsaw Massacre this year, but I want to go back to the 50s and see what they thought was scary then!

Mikey: Hoo boy. I’m always hesitant to do that without 2 robots and a man in a jumpsuit sitting in silhouette in front of the movie. But we definitely didn’t do much of that this year. We watched only 2 movies from before 2000 (Nightmare On Elm Street 3 and Texas Chainsaw).

Solee: I’m the robot! You’re the man in the jumpsuit! Any last words for this BHE Wrap-up?

Mikey: Hmm. I wish I could remember some terrible line from one of these movies to throw out for a cheap laugh. So just remember kids, watch horror movies! They could help you learn how to manage your depression, or at least battle your inner/outer demons.

Solee: Terrific. Done. Now it’s time to decorate for Christmas, right??

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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Halloween Marathon 04:09 AM -- Wed November 1, 2017  

So it's Halloween day, and I decided to indulge in my dream of seeing all the horror movies. I woke up around 8am, put on the first one I found, and just kept going all day. The following movies are ones that were in my various lists for potential consideration, but they're all ones we skipped in favor of other movies, so they're not exactly the cream of the crop. Here are my quick takes on a whole bunch of horror movies - with no spoilers. Enjoy! It was a fun Halloween!

BOO (2005)
Rating: 1/5
This is one of those throwback movies - made in 2005, but done in a total 80's style. It did provide me with what I've been missing all month: a story about a ghost, figuring out what that ghost wants, and the heroes try to solve the problem. It actually was interesting on that level. However, it was ridiculous, with terrible acting, effects, everything. Just super cheeseball. Which of course was a lot of fun for me. Interestingly, it's the second movie this month (along with Ghosts of Darkness) to feature shooting ghosts in the face as a way to get rid of them!
Best line: Can't pick just one. There was "If you shoot me in the face, I'll kick your [butt]!". as well as when Marie walked up to a mirror that had "Who are you?" written on it and just perkily said "I'm Marie, silly!". Then there was "You think if the living are afraid of dying, then the dead would be afraid of living again." And finally the classically confusing line "Are you fools to think you can leave without me?" (Hmm, I don't know, are they?)

Home (2016)
Rating: 1/5
A classic haunted house story. Worst child actress I've ever seen. Kind of a decent twist at the end, actually, that makes it all (sorta) make sense, but it's all so dumb to begin with, and presented in such a pedestrian way, that it's just not okay. Until the twist explains things, I think it's fair to say this was a movie about an evil ventriloquist air conditioner that hates dishes. Which probably makes you want to see the movie, but I really don't recommend you make that mistake.
Best line: "I've never seen a couple of 'womens'. I mean, it's kind of like the Easter Bunny or unicorns, you always talk about them but you never think they're real."

The Strangers (2008)
Rating: 2/5
This is very similar to a French movie I reviewed long ago, Ils (Them). I don't know if the "true events" this is based on are the same "true events" the other one was based on. I hope so, since I don't want this to be a common true event. Like Ils, there's not much to this movie - people get terrorized, and they either get out of it or they don't. It's a polished production with real actors, so it's not terrible, but on the other hand, it sort of is terrible because there's absolutely no point to it except to watch people suffer. At no point is any motivation explained, or any plot present other than said suffering. Not my bag, jack.
Best line: One of the very few lines in the entire movie - "Why are you doing this to us?" ... "Because you were home."

Charlotte (2017)
Rating: 3/5
Well now, you know I can't resist a horror anthology! In this movie, an evil doll forces a babysitter to watch scary stories on the TV. It's lightweight, cheeseball, horror with a little twist (usually super obvious) to almost every story. Exactly what I like in an anthology. Still, super cheesy. There's one story about girl scouts selling cookies that is really good stuff... just a crazy Twilight Zone episode. There are also a few not-at-all-cheeseball stories (not quality, necessarily, just dark and serious), so I'm not at all sure what audience this movie is for. I guess it's for me, because it's fun for me even if it isn't actually good!
Best line: "I've never knocked out two little girls with a baseball bat before, but I'm willing to give it a try!"

Beacon Point (2017)
Rating: 1.5/5
This movie looks and feels like a SyFy Original. But instead of battling a giant CGI monster, it's this trippy story of alien abduction told through weird dreams and inexplicable events you have to tie together yourself. It's not super opaque, but it's not your typical on-the-nose alien movie. It's a little artsy, but mostly it's a SyFy movie. Neither scary nor interesting.
Best line: Nothing stands out. But there is a character named Cheese!

Dark Ride (2006)
Rating: 1.5/5
Gory slasher movie with all the basics: a group of teens going to stay somewhere scary for "fun", a hitchhiker who is clearly crazy, a psycho escaping the asylum, extremely implausible attacks like jamming a flashlight through a person's body, and a general disregard for the laws of physics. In fact I can't think of any teen slasher cliche that's missing here. Theere's really no point to seeing this movie, but until I got utterly bored towards the end I was sort of enjoying it. Sort of.
Best line: "He was a doctor or banker or, I don't know, a mortician or something."

Rec 4: Apocalypse (2014)
Rating: 3/5
En Espanol! We reviewed [Rec] last year. Even though this is 3 movies later, it sure looks like it follows right on after that, beginning with a rescue of the main character from that movie. I dunno what happened in #2 and #3, but I guess it wasn't much! This is zombies on an oil tanker. Not found footage, this time around. It's pretty much a toned-down Resident Evil. Still ridiculous and crazy and pseudoscientific, just with less kung-fu.
Best line: (translated for you) "It's just a flesh wound." Or perhaps "MONKEYS!!!"

Hush (2016)
Rating: 4/5
It's kind of Don't Breathe turned sideways - a killer shows up to stalk a deaf woman. It's similar to The Strangers above, but really much better on every level. Whereas that was just a celebration of torture, this is more of an ode to survival. Plus it's got a couple of fun tricks, even if it doesn't have any major twists.
Best line: "THE END. Money now please."

Demonic (2015)
Rating: 3.5/5
This movie begins with the scene we never see: you know in found footage, they always have "These tapes were recovered..."? Well, this movie starts with said recovery! The cops go into a haunted house and there are cameras, lights, and laptops everywhere. So we end up with a combo of police procedural, found footage, and haunted house. It's an interesting idea I have not seen before. What ensues thereafter is a lot of silliness and melodrama and it doesn't all add up, but you know, it was a fun ride the whole way.
Best line: "They don't usually convict houses in the state of Louisiana."

Well, it's 11pm, and I don't have it in me to last another whole movie. I think nine movies in a day is quite the achievement. I truly feel like an accomplished human being now. I'm looking forward to 11 months off from my movie-watching job, but I'm also really looking forward to next October as well! I do love bad horror movies.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: Blair Witch 01:37 AM -- Wed November 1, 2017  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

Blair Witch (2016)
Rated R
IMDB Says:
“After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.”
IMDB Rating: 5.0/10
Metacritic Rating: 47/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 35% critics, 29% audience
Solee: 3/5
Mikey: 3/5
We watched this on Amazon Prime.

Mikey: So for our big Halloween day finish, we’re going back to the well! We both have a history with The Blair Witch Project, and hadn’t seen this recent sequel (though we did see the stupid Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2). So how would you set up your experience with the Blair Witch Franchise?

Solee: Well, there are exactly two theater movies I can remember being truly afraid of while watching. One is E.T. (I was six and those hazmat suits were terrifying.) The other is the BWP. I watched it literally on the edge of my seat and I distinctly remember feeling VERY unhappy that I had to walk across a dark parking lot to get to my car afterward. I did NOT feel the same way about BW2.

Mikey: No no, that was a silly movie. I also had the scariest experience watching BWP in the theater. I don’t think anything else has ever matched it. And we did rewatch that movie, and found it was actually pretty scary even in retrospect, though obviously not the same as a first-time viewing in the theater, the first time we ever saw a found footage movie!

Solee: Was it really the first of that genre? That explains why I found it so terrifying then. I always have a very physical reaction to the panting-into-the-microphone aspect of found footage films. If I’d never experienced it before, I’m not surprised I was so wrapped up in it.

Mikey: Yeah, people say The Last Broadcast was the original (and many claim Blair Witch Project is a total rip-off of it). I’ve always wanted to see that movie, but it’s not easy to come by. But they came out at nearly the same time. I’m sure there were some indie found footage movies before that, but whatever. That reaction you mentioned leads me to a moment, near the end of this movie, when Lisa is crawling through a teeny tiny dirt tunnel. That was very claustrophobia-inducing. I honestly can’t be sure that the found footage aspect of it helped that, but it sure was something that made me feel like I was right there, trapped in a very tiny space.

Solee: I felt the same. Most of the footage designed to raise anxiety (swirling camera, minimal lighting, running through the woods) was just annoying to me. But that crawling through the increasingly narrow tunnel scene was very stressful. I did not like it. Especially after having that moment of “oh, she’s the safest one of the bunch” after she got locked into that wooden box.

Mikey: Well, she was being stored for later killing, I assume, so not a great place to be. But I do feel that same feeling, where it just doesn’t match the original in terms of anxiety. It felt so much less real, and had so many pointless gimmicks (like… what did the drone ever accomplish?), that I just wasn’t sucked in by the realism that you had in the first movie. You could say this movie was a lot more exciting - we weren’t left with effectively nothing happening, which is what the first movie had. But more isn’t always more!

Solee: The drone was a complete waste of opportunity. Basically, the only thing it did was give Ashley a reason to climb into and then fall out of a tree. BWP was original and edgy. This was very commercial and [word for basic, boring, done plot]. It felt like they were trying everything and even though they gave explanation (which was lacking in the original), I still feel like I don’t understand most of what happened. If the backstory is all about a witch, why does it have such an alien invasion feel to it??

Mikey: Oh yes! At the end of the movie, we get that light-through-the-walls moment that is straight out of any UFO movie. I really thought they were gonna go with aliens (honestly, it could be aliens as written, who knows?). And yes, they had a whole lot of disparate elements which don’t really seem to clearly connect. Full disclosure: just before writing this review, I was looking for a freeze-frame of the “Stick Monster” that we see very briefly in the movie, just out of curiosity (wondering how much like the stick figures it looked - not very, actually), and I ended up tumbling down a rabbit hole of Blair Witch Theorists. There were so many screenshots and explanations and ideas going around. Turns out nobody actually knows what it is all about. But apparently the filmmakers at some point declared that the stick monster is not the witch - it’s another one of her victims. Which is silly, since the extended limbs on it fit the whole story about the witch being left to die on a makeshift rack. I have so many more ideas in my head now from this journey I went on… I dunno man. Whoa.

Solee: The part that REALLY doesn’t fit for me is the thing living in Ashley’s foot.

Mikey: YES!

Solee: I mean, it was one thing to have her be injured and get an infection and have that play into the chase, but there was clearly a critter in there and I don’t know what that has to do with anything. It’s almost ridiculous.

Mikey: Like it was from another movie. Specifically, The Ruins. I had this notion that the witch is connected to the woods, and the stick-men, so like sticks were gonna grow through her leg and basically replace her with a giant stick-woman. That would’ve been silly, but at least it would’ve connected to the concept. Maybe it’s what was happening, but we got not enough info to know, just one little weed yanked from her leg. Her constant tripping got real old, for sure. I don’t know what they were trying to say there. Was it that her foot hurt so she couldn’t walk right? It sounded like her ankle broke in about twelve places overall.

Solee: I like that theory, actually. I dunno, man. At first I thought she was tripping because of the pain. Then I thought maybe because the critter or branch was moving around in there. Finally, I just gave up trying to figure it out. She’s just real clumsy. There were lots of little homages to the original movie. Were there any that particularly stood out to you, good or bad?

Mikey: Oh, that’s one thing I found in my rabbit-hole! All the little video glitches throughout the movie actually were super-quick, scrambled up, shots from the first movie! Speaking of homage. I think the part at the end where Heather’s brother was crying and apologizing to her was good… it was pretty on-the-nose, but it makes the connection we want for a sequel.

Solee: Yeah, every Blair Witch movie needs a good snot-face monologue. Or dialogue in this case. I liked the way Peter had a temper and started kicking that tent like he wanted to kick it all the way to the river.

Mikey: Blair Witch movies are mostly about kicking things into rivers, as we all know. Not an homage (I think) but I did like one thing about the structure of this movie: right away, after the first night, when stick figures showed up, everybody immediately agreed “this is just too weird. Not worth it, we’re leaving.” Of course, they were trapped by witch-magic, which just goes to show other horror movies: people don’t have to make stupid choices to keep the plot going (not that this movie was devoid of them). I like that immediate appropriate reaction instead of demanding to press on.

Solee: It’s always easier to relate to people who aren’t being complete morons. Regarding the witch-magic … did the first movie have a never-ending night, too? They made a big deal out of how this darkness was lasting for days.

Mikey: I am pretty sure it did, only on the final night. They were waking up and it was still dark, and it just never stopped being dark. But one thing I know it had, which this movie was full of, was time being screwed up in general. Like Lane and Talia being lost for days, in the course of half a day for the other people. The witch clearly can manipulate time and gets things all out of whack. I really enjoyed that element and have a whole ending discussion about it.

Solee: Hmm. I’m excited to hear your discussion of it, but I didn’t love that aspect of the movie.

Mikey: What! That’s the whole joy!

Solee: Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but it didn’t seem like it made sense. I mean, I get that it was trying to be confusing and discombobulating, but it was just too much.

Mikey: I think “just too much” was the whole agenda for this sequel. Turn Blair Witch up to 11. Bad idea. I don’t really think it made sense, I was mostly in my head in a better movie that took that idea and ran with it. Here’s the thought: in the ending, we have James going into the house, and doors keep shutting behind him (standard ghost stuff). Then Lisa goes into the house, and what’s the first thing she does? She shuts and locks the front door. Immediately I was like “Oh snap are they going there??” I was really hoping for the ending to be this thing where it was all time looped around on itself, so that there were no ghosts or anything weird, just these two people causing things to happen for each other, out of time sequence. There is some of that in the movie - Peter appears in the corner, then is gone, Heather even appears in a brief flash, and we get the shot of the mirror from the very beginning of the movie which was supposedly old footage. It all adds up to time wrapping around, I just don’t think they worked it out cleanly, or executed it well enough. And they added a stick monster.

Solee: That is a really good idea. That would have made it very clever. Without making that obvious enough to understand, thought, it’s just chaos. How did you feel about the addition of the “locals” who made fake stick monsters and then got lost in the woods? Were they necessary? Or were they like the drone?

Mikey: I don’t know… I can’t actually think of a purpose they served, other than the misdirect of the first night of stick men. Which was sort of interesting, but ultimately doesn’t matter. And I guess they gave us our replacement for the old serial killer. OH WAIT. They gave us my favorite moment of the movie! When Ashley snaps that stick man, it is so incredibly shocking. And it also is what starts off the fireworks. The movie from that moment on is in full endgame mode, just running around crazy. Too crazy, I’m pretty sure, but that little event is just… wow. What’d you think of that, and the locals themselves?

Solee: The snapping of the stick figure with Talia’s hair, which resulted in the very dramatic snapping of Talia, was nothing short of genius. It came on so suddenly that I didn’t have any time to get there on my own. Usually, with this sort of thing I’ve already thought, “oh, what if they …” so I’m braced for it. In this case it was a total shock, like a bus coming from off screen, and I loved it. Aside from that, I didn’t love the locals. I feel like everything involving them could have been cut out and that time could have been used to elaborate on the time-manipulation. Or the foot worm. Or give the drone some usefulness. Anything would have been better.

Mikey: I totally agree, more movies need to move with that kind of speed (not constantly), to really surprise you. It was cray cray. Sadly it was also in the trailer, and it’s also why I clicked off the trailer while you were in the kitchen and said “oh yeah, we need to see this one!” so that’s the lesson for this movie, kids: never watch the trailer! It ruins everything.

But our time here is up. There’s lots more I could say about this here witch, but I’ll let you instead say how you rate it!

Solee: I’m kind of sad about this rating because I wanted to love it for nostalgic reasons even if it wasn’t all that good for itself. It didn’t really work that way. It wasn’t the worst movie we’ve seen, but it is a far cry from the best and a far cry from the original. I was NOT scared while watching this movie at all. My overriding emotion was one of annoyance. I’m going to give this movie a solid 3.

Mikey: I see those annoyances. We forgot to mention all the horrible sound in the first half of this movie - tons of super loud noises out of the blue for no reason, probably meant to build tension, but it just made it hard to watch. And that’s where I think this movie would’ve done much better by dropping the found footage and just being a real movie. The ear cameras, the drone, all that was silly. Just send the kids into the woods and make it real. But with that said, I didn’t hate it all. I didn’t love it either, so you know I’m going full 3 out of 5 on this one. It was not the crass cash-in sequel I thought it would be, but it was a long drop down from the original.

So that’s it for 2017! So sad! I’m gonna watch lots more movies anyway and just not tell anyone about them. Join us tomorrow for a quick (unlike last year) wrap-up about the whole month. Happy Halloween, everybody!

Solee: You say quick … but have you MET us? I’m not sure we can possibly rehash the whole month in a reasonable amount of time! I guess we’ll have to see what we can manage.
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  Belittling Horror Excessively: The Sacrament 07:11 PM -- Mon October 30, 2017  

WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.

The Sacrament (2013)
Rated R
IMDB Says:
“A news team trails a man as he travels into the world of Eden Parish to find his missing sister, where it becomes apparent that this paradise may not be as it seems.”
IMDB Rating: 6.1/10
Metacritic Rating: 49/100
Rotten Tomatoes: 63% critics, 47% audience
Solee: 3/5
Mikey: 2/5
We paid to watch this on Amazon.

Solee: We watched The Sacrament last night. How did you settle on that movie for our second-to-last horror movie of the month?

Mikey: It was a tough call. But it was on some of those “best of” lists, and the core idea for me was that it was a high-end version of found footage. A known director/writer (Ti West, who did The House Of The Devil which I did a video review of), and some money behind it. Not your normal found footage. I hope we don’t have to have especially brilliant choices for our last couple, that’s too much pressure!

Solee: I don’t have to … but I think we might accidentally end up with some pretty decent films. This is what happens when we let Best Of lists influence our choices! So the premise here is that VICE is recording footage to create a documentary about a potential cult that the photographer’s sister has joined. Did it “work” as a found footage movie for you?

Mikey: What I found interesting about it is that it is not a mockumentary. It kinda starts out as one, but what you see throughout the movie is the raw footage these guys are filming in the course of making a documentary. As opposed to formatting this movie as if it were the finished product. I’m not sure if that’s better or not, but it does make good sense, and solves the whole “why are they filming” dilemma very easily. And they definitely seemed like the real deal, although they may not have been making the most brilliant choices. Well, the real deal except for how they were “speechless for an hour” when the guy told them his sister had joined a cult. That’s a lot of speechless.

Solee: Yeah … I don’t believe any of those guys could be speechless about anything for more than 30 seconds. They spent a lot of time talking to the camera, which is to be expected, I guess. While we were watching, you mentioned an episode of Reply All where a couple of guys go to India trying to chase down a telemarketing scam. It kind of boggles my mind that there are people who see this kind of sketchy, questionable behavior (scams, cults, etc) and their first response is “I have to get myself right in the middle of that even though I have no power or authority in any way!” Would you ever consider doing what they did?

Mikey: Nope. The Reply All episode was fascinating because I could see just how far they could get without any authority, by simply being pushy and having it be known that they were “journalists” - meaning whoever they talked to knew that they would spread information they learned to the world. It really is a lot of power to just say that. Of course it’s also potential reason to kill you. Or your entire own cult, in this case. It’s pretty amazing what these people do in the real world, and it definitely takes more guts than my abdomen contains.

Of course, that was a problem I had with this particular cult. What they were doing was actually totally fine. Like super duper fine. People getting together to live in a commune, and not hurt anybody. If they just dropped the paranoia part of it - get rid of the guards, let anybody leave if they want - then what would the government care about it? Enjoy your commune. I feel like Father created his own trouble, and it is quite possible he is not the genius that Caroline thought he was.

Solee: At the very least, he was not at all confident in the fact that people REALLY want to live that way. I think that’s a valid concern--that if he let people leave, they would--because people are not great at committing to big change or sacrifice long term. And if people get to leave, they’d want to take their money with them. I think it was all about the money for Father. He had convinced these people to give him all their worldly possessions and do manual labor for him, so that he and Caroline, who was apparently sleeping with him, could have all the control and break their arbitrary rules. That kind of thing would get out, even as rumor, if people were allowed to leave and then they’d have a harder time convincing new people to hand over all their cash and pick up a hoe.

Mikey: Doesn’t seem that expensive to run such a commune to me, plant some plants. But I’m not sure it was all about money for Father, or he would’ve (as I had kept hoping to see) skipped town with the money and Caroline as soon as everybody had had their Kool-Aid. I was actually surprised he was serious about this stuff.

Solee: Hmm. I’m not convinced he was really all that serious about it. He SAYS that’s why he offed himself, but I definitely got an “I won’t go to jail” vibe instead of an “I must follow my flock” vibe. He knew the jig was up.

Mikey: That makes sense. But it brings up my biggest issue: As soon as he felt there was a whiff of trouble - these documentarians might make the government come down on him at some unspecified future point - everybody gotta die. I mean, dude, wait until the helicopters show up at least. It could easily be years! Although personally, I’d rather get shot than die from poison Kool-Aid, so I’d stick it out.

Solee: He was jumping the gun (the one held by hired guards who didn’t give a crap about any of this nonsense). I’m surprised this was the first time anyone thought to be suspicious. I wonder if Caroline was the first wealthy person to get suckered in. The first one who had people with the curiosity and resources to come looking for her.

Mikey: No wonder she got the special spot! They probably should’ve just turned them away at the gate.

Solee: Yeah...but after what I heard from that Reply All podcast, that would not have deterred these journalists for long! It was definitely all about the money (and how the money was important to keep her “family” growing) for Caroline. She killed her own brother because he wouldn’t agree to join her and--more importantly--contribute his wealth to the flock. That girl was not in a stable mental place.

Mikey: So all this talk about what somebody would and wouldn’t do, and what their mindset was, brings to mind the fact that this is obviously very much based on the real massacre at Jonestown (warning: true news, really disturbing and graphic account of horrible events). And to put it bluntly, I’d much rather have watched a real documentary about that than this fictional story. I don’t know too much about it beyond Kool-Aid (except I do know that isn’t the actual brand they used!), and the real thing would be very interesting. I feel like I wasted my time watching this instead. Did you feel like this was a worthwhile endeavor?

Solee: I don’t regret watching it … it was well done and had tension that kept me interested. I wouldn’t call it the best movie ever or anything. I’m not sure I could handle watching a documentary like that about Jonestown. My brain has very different reactions to things that are make-believe vs reporting of actual events that have really happened to really real people. I can find the slaughter fests of Rob Zombie’s imagination quite entertaining but I don’t EVER watch True Crime stuff. It’s just a step too close to think about the actual people who experienced that kind of trauma. I see what you mean though. The story of Jonestown can be a learning experience, whereas this movie was pretty much just voyeuristic.

Mikey: Yes, the learning experience and just the reality of it. I don’t want to see the real bodies laying around, but I do want to see interviews and information about what people were thinking. I feel like the events in this movie weren’t very interesting. There was no big twist, no exciting moments really. Even when they were being hunted by guys with guns, it just felt kind of blah. Whereas even if the story of real Jonestown is much more boring in terms of actual events, it’s way more interesting by virtue of being real. Although, shocking twist, I’ve actually heard it is a lot more interesting as well!

Solee: Huh. I don’t know much about Jonestown. One of those Really Sad Things that I have kind of avoided learning too much about. Slight change of topic … I read on IMDB that there was a different ending originally proposed. In that ending, the helicopter pilot doesn’t get shot. As he flies them out, he says something about “following the Father’s orders” and crashes the chopper. Would changing the ending change much for you?

Mikey: I’m always in favor of a twist! That’s what was really lacking. Everything happened in real basic fashion. I can’t believe the pilot was still alive. Those guards are not good at their jobs. And that would’ve certainly put those survivors in a pickle if he hadn’t been. I don’t know, I feel let down by this movie in a way that’s hard to describe. I think this story could be done in a very unsettling and intense way, but that they didn’t do it. Hiding under a bed while a guard comes in and searches the room is a very tense concept, but I didn’t feel nervous at all during that scene. Also the fakey throat-slitting in that scene should’ve been pretty crazy too, but again, I was like oh, okay, she’s dead. Maybe I need to go join a cult to rediscover my inner child. Did you get the good tension the movie wanted to throw our way?

Solee: No, I agree with you. The overall premise of the story was anxiety producing for me, but the way it was told didn’t really make the most of the events. They seemed to rely a lot on shock value (OMG! She slit her throat! … OMG! She lit herself on fire!) instead of storytelling technique to put the audience on edge. That seems a little lazy to me.

Mikey: Yeah, I get that for sure. Which is weird in a movie about a mass suicide - something that is more disturbing than shocking. Like the core of the whole movie is this big event full of dread which does not jump out and shock you, so why are they trying to get you with ‘shock’ moments all the time? I guess they’re mixing it up. So, I suppose our time here is done, and we must give out our ratings. M’lady?

Solee: Like I said earlier, it wasn’t a terrible movie and I don’t regret watching it. Honestly, I didn’t notice the problems you mentioned until you brought them up. That doesn’t mean the problems weren’t there, but it makes me think this is a decent enough movie to distract from the bigger flaws if you’re not looking too closely. I guess that means I’m going to go middle of the road and give it a 3. What about you?

Mikey: Unsurprisingly, I go lower. I did stay invested in the movie throughout, but it was all too low-key. I never got that big hook or great tension to really suck me in. And I am throwing in extra minus for the fact that it’s a less interesting version of a real thing. They could’ve made something original that was bad, but instead they took something real and did a worse job of it than reality did. So I mark them down for wasting celluloid. Or probably hard drive space, more likely. Which leaves us at a 2 out of 5. Not a disaster by any means, but just not worth it to me. Your time would be better spent outside of this particular cult.

Solee: I suspect that statement is true in a lot of cases.

SO. It’s my job to pick the very last movie of the month now. I don’t know what to do!! Do I want to go funny? Or artistic? Or straight up slasher? There are still so many good choices on our list.

Mikey: And more deliciously, BAD choices! The real horror is that you have to choose.

Solee: Truth. I’m going to go back to some of my horror roots and pick Blair Witch (2016), the sequel to the scariest horror movie I’ve ever seen.

Mikey: That’s some classic Hommel, because I’ve previously reviewed both The Blair Witch Project, AND Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2! Let’s do it!
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